Entering the Temple of Eternal Flame

Our heroes have delved beneath the crumbling facade of the Scarlet Moon Hall to discover yet another branch of the foul elementalists temple, spreading corruption through the ancient halls of the dwarves of Besilmer.

After mercilessly cutting down a barricaded squadron of hobgoblins, and avoiding a bugbear ambush, they came to a domed chamber supported by obsidian columns. Spidery cracks, pulsing with fire, were visible the length of the columns. From behind these columns stepped two spear-wielding warriors. What could be seen of their faces were pockmarked with scars. Brass-rimmed goggles hid their eyes. In the center of their armor pulsed a living heart of flame.


The warriors attacked, calling upon Imix to protect them. All at once, the columns flared to life, becoming flowing columns of lava and emitting a scorching heat that hindered the barbarians’ assault. The razerblasts attacked with a fury worthy of their chosen element, striking out even in death with an explosion of shrapnel. Though a few of the barbarians fell, none were killed, and they were able to regain enough of their strength to continue their quest.

Backtracking, they discovered a secret door at the end of a narrow passage. This led to the room of a suspicious genasi named Bastion Thermandar, who was quickly charmed by Kodrir. Bastion revealed the location of Vanifer, the leader of the Eternal Flame, as well as directions to the elemental node where she has retreated. In addition, he offered a considerable reward if the barbarians were to dispose of Vanifer and return her dagger, Tinderstrike, to him.

Agreeing to at least part of the deal, the party then navigated through the ancient caverns along the path outlined by Bastion.

The air became thick with smoke and steam, and oppressively hot as they approached the pulsing heart of the temple. Channels of lava flowed from holes in the wall into bronze troughs. Through the shimmering air, they could see a charcoal-skinned creature clad in silk and adorned with brass and gold jewelry. Gold rings pierced through the flesh around its eyes glitter and wave as it barks orders to a Salamander and three Azers toiling at the forges.

Assisting the Efreeti is a warrior whose armor has been fused to his flesh, and a pulsing heart of fire can be seen housed in his chestplate. Along with him are a handful of footsoldiers, whose flame-scarred features can be seen even at this distance.

In the Hall of the Moon
Norns Prophesy

Thence come the maidens | mighty in wisdom,
Three from the dwelling | down ’neath the tree;
Urth is one named, | Verthandi the next,—
On the wood they scored,— | and Skuld the third.
Laws they made there, and life allotted
To the sons of men, and set their fates


Looking up at the Scarlet Moon Hall, Helson recited a famous verse from the portents of the Norns:

Mighty they were:
They laid life’s threads,
While the towers
Broke in Bralund;
Forth they stretched
The golden cords,
Fixed them midmost
In the hall of the moon.

He had little doubt this verse was meant for them. Ah the Skalds would sing songs about the Norlandic Chosen – who stopped the fiery cultists “in the Hall of the Moon.” He heard the faint popping noise as the fire elemental was sent back to Muspellsheim. He added with dramatic effect the rainbow bridge glowing as the forces of the Aesir consumed the fire. He noted with delight how the druid were impressed – until they were unfortunately dispatched by the appearance of the band of werewolves.

Helson never seemed to get any respect, even when he stopped the ritual and sent the primordial back to his home plane. What a fight! He thought it would never end. It was exhausting keeping the fire at bay. He looked out on the courtyard of the hall and saw all of the druids had left. They had even stolen his cart again… I guess this was his fate in the world to be incessantly heckled, given no respect or credit for anything. He felt himself falling into a mood.

Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór

Helson watched the strange druid Kodrir intently, noting his unkempt garb which clashed with a priceless gold crown embedded with rubies and other precious gems that he never seemed to take off. He would typically transform into a giant stag and the crown would meld into his golden antlers. Helson imagined him to be one of the four harts that ate from the branches of Yggdrasil – Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr or Duraþrór, or perhaps them all…
Helson’s eyes went white as they rolled back into his head – Another vision – as Helson saw Kodrir change into each of the stags – representing the different seasons, the four elements and phases of the moon. Yggdrasil was there in the background changing with the seasons and being besieged by the four elements. Yet the Stags were there to protect her. Their golden antlers smashed apart the giants from Muspellsheim, Niflheim, Gunnungagap and Jotunheim. As Yggdrasil shivered and groaned the giants slipped free from their respective realms. Yet the stags continued to drive them back.

As Helson gained consciousness again he saw the unsavory druid picking at his filthy beard and biting at his blackened fingernails. Helson smiled to himself – yes looks can be deceiving – this one is destined to save us all.

Scarlet Moon Hall

The Nordlandic Chosen travelled down the Dessarin River. Exhausted, worn, hungry, wet and miserable, the party lost their way. They pulled their barge up upon the river bank to find a dry spot to wait out the storm. Wandering around in the blinding rain, they became hopelessly turned around. Giving up on finding a dry place to rest they attempted to go back to the boat – but tried as they might they couldn’t find where they had left it. The mud and rain grabbed at their feet and blinded their eyes and without any respite they spent the night mucking about uselessly. When the dim light of the sun broke through the glare the next morning they found their missing boat and continued their way. Coming to Womford they found the town more beautiful than ever. Perhaps it was due to their exhausted state.


Tying up their boat on the dock they avoided the other grain merchants who used the river to ship the local supply of grain from the grist mill. Noting a high level of activity, there were people sleeping in the streets and when they went into the Whimsy Inn, they found it was inundated with refugees from the surrounding villages and town. They heard of the incredible weather – sinkholes appearing, whirlwinds, fires, etc. The innskeeper – who was quite odd… told them there weren’t any rooms available until they undid their satchels and almost instantly rooms were made open to them. Although cries from the Cuckold Inn, next door, threatened to keep them awake, their exhaustion got the best of them and they slept heartily. The next morning brought destruction and despair upon the little village. A group of fiery cultists brought a large iron bound chest with the symbol of the water cult on it into the town square and began their unholy ritual. The lackeys called out to INXS Ian’s note: Really? The 80s band? It was actually Imix, but this is too good not to leave and their leader became engulfed in reeving Ian’s note: The fuck? What is a reeving flame? Like, was it paralyzed or something? flames. An orb of demonic fire from Muspelheim emerged from the box and rose into the sky. The intensity of the heat ignited dry grain bags and any flammable objects and the people fled the scene in droves. The heroes emerged from their cozy Inn blinking at the brightness and sought to put an end to this flaming ensemble.

When the last of the cultist gasped their last breath, it still did not stop the flaming orb in the sky. Try as they might nothing they did could extinguish this portal to the realm of fire. They left the druid to help keep the roofs wet with rain, but even this evaporated instantly and the heroes thought if they could find this fire cultist’s lair – perhaps then they could stop the fires spreading across the Dessairin Valley. Crossing the bridge they came to the Bargewright Inn. Gora their favorite whore was gone and the slapdash wall repairs showed openings where Hell Hounds had attacked the Inn. Still tired from their journey on the river and the ensuing battles, they got another room while Helson attempted to procure a cart for their supplies. They asked about the Fire cult and where they might be hiding and the long eared Fjori overheard a barback Ian’s note: What the hell is a barback? taking notes on the group. Using an invisible hand, he plucked the note the man made from his pocket unnoticed. Reading it Fjori found he had uncovered a cult spy. When the others heard of this, they took him in the back room and found out the cult’s whereabouts – in a haunted keep in the Sumber Hills – called the Scarlet Moon Hall. – it’s a place where the “worst monsters are” therefore no one ever goes near it… how convenient. Then they cut the man’s innards out and left the Inn on the Cairn Road. Unfortunately Helson’s cart was stolen, the strange thing was the thief had left all of their supplies in neat little faggots Ian’s note: another Keeper on the road…

Bitching and complaining the entire way made it difficult to endure the trip to Red Lark (sp). Attempting to find whores, the group eventually settled for handjobs from the fat old innkeeper of the Swinging Sword. Helson passed and instead got a wonderful massage from his invisible servant (who’s a girl) in the luxurious honeymoon suite. Helson and Fjori changed their appearances to look like young boys romped about town, frollicing gayly with hoops they got at the wheel wright next door. They went to see Loren – who’s a guy and got crumble cakes and other assorted sweets for the group’s breakfast. Washing down the remains of the dry but filling cake the aloof serving wench left the room (apparently not a fan of the barbarians charms) and the room filled with fire and brimstone – smoke demons from Helheim and living elemental fire attempted to put an end to the chosen. However, in dousing the fire, Fjori read from a powerful magic scroll and summoned a tidal wave that tore through the elements and laid waste to the rest of the wooden building. Deciding that this town must be full of cultist sympathizers, they decided to check out the temple that was uncovered in town…. Dah da da, da da – they found some shit the town elders were being made fools of – they thought that ancient dwarven stones where communicating to them the will of the gods- but it was only being controlled by the cultists who figured out their secret and used them to manipulate the elders and in turn the town. Thinking that this town was a bunch of fuckheads they left.
Heading deep into the Sumber hills they finally came to the Scarlet Moon Hall.


Visible through the haze that covers the hill is a square tower ringed by ruined walls. In front of the tower burns a bonfire shaped like a fiery giant. Scattered on the slope below the tower are seven bonfires with tents clustered around them. Humanoid figures huddle near these closer fires. A trail leads up to these hillside encampments.

Beyond the ruins of the walls ringing the keep’s central tower is a courtyard cluttered with tents. A humanoid-shaped wicker giant, two stories tall, burns brightly here.

The tower is under repair, with wooden scaffolding some 30 feet high stretching across the east and west sides. Lanterns hang from struts and poles attached to the wood workers. Rubble chokes a wide doorway, likely once the main entrance, on the tower’s south side.

Last night's adventure
Google made this with the pics I took last night

Might need to cut and paste link here:


Pact with a Fossergrim

Fossegrim.jpgHelson stared fixedly upon the waterfall pouring down into a black crevasse and thought back to his place of birth in the Hag’s lair back in Norland. He strummed upon his gem encrusted lyre and summoned the spirit of the waterfall – the Fossergrim. At one time his mother used this wondrous being to open the portal to hell and summon the vile demon that she forced him into making a pact with. In a way he thought his pact was made through the power of the Fossergrim he strummed on the lyre and prayed to the god to assist him. He no longer wanted to be aligned with the powers of Hel and her minions, it made him sick, but still he needed the power to stop them! He hoped that this ritual could transfer the pact that was made – under duress and not of his will – to the being who in fact made it all possible, the water spirit an arch fey of tremendous power – invincible and timeless.

Magnus was hurt from the fiend and they needed to find a secure place to rest. He looked across the bridge at the demonic alter and shuttered. There was some sort of symbol made over it constructed from driftwood that had apparently ended up down here in this old dwarven keep. Approaching warily he called over to his half-orc companion to join him who clutched tensely at his newly won war pick Ironfang. Helson thought it would give him a good chance to do what he seemed to enjoy best – smash shit… Seeing the accoutrements of a servant of Hel he didn’t even have to ask the Orc – who set upon destroying the alter and unholy symbol with glee. Looking about he saw eddies on the water and pausing for a moment the orc glanced at Helson as he magically walked across the water. Look, Helson exclaimed – there is an underwater passageway where the water is coming out of. Perhaps we should explore? Again the over eager Orc, wanting to show his physical prowess and athleticism, sucked in a lungful of air, gritted his fangs and dove into the water. Contacting him with a warlock mind trick Helson relayed he had found a secure room beyond the underwater tunnel. Magnus – again still a bit fearful of underground water tunnels had difficulty swimming through it – Helson attempted to aid the proud barbarian but was refused – Helson understood it was probably difficult for him living in his adopted brother’s shadow… He could tell the memories of the Hag’s lair still haunted his friend as well as himself. All of this was all too familiar.

Coming up into an empty grotto he saw the orc opening chest of gold and silver, but more importantly dismissed by the two barbarians there was a trove of dwarven tomes! Helson eagerly opened them to find the now familiar symbol of a wheel over a plow, it was the lost collection from the delegation of Dwarven writings about Svartalfheim and the Besilmer realm!!! Not even knowing what happened Helson spent hours poring over the old tomes with much delight and gasps of excitement. Finally realizing he was shivering from the cold and half starving – it was time for them to continue. He was exhausted – but elated as he was filled with more knowledge of the dwarves and their incredible empire! He could not believe they had discovered this place and reclaimed this important part of history.

The Norlandic Chosen

Looking a map of the land, Helson deduced they were from a place these strange people called Norland.

It was an Island that was part of a larger group of islands called the Moonshae Islands. Isolated and for the most part illiterate, his Viking friends knew little of the world they lived in. From their journey Helson could now see that was where their home lie. Oh and how far away it was… Again Helson thought it could only be the Norns doing to send them to this far off land. They were located on a large continent in a region called the sword coast. They were in the year 1489DR which these historians referred to as the second sundering. This was an age a century after a time called the Spellplague, a time where their god of magic Mystra was killed (even their gods are weak thought Helson). There has been signs of great calamities and have given rise to individuals touched by gods called the chosen. Their gods had become quiet and many cults – like the ones they were disbanding now have arisen to interpret this new ideology. Helson knew his faith in his gods was strong. This is what gave strength to his little tribe. He beamed knowing in his heart that they were doing the gods will. In a way they were chosen of their gods. They were the Norlandic Chosen!

Temple of the Crushing Wave

After clearing Rivergard Keep of its occupants, the marauders from the North began the task of claiming the keep for themselves.

Kjorne, Fiori, and Silvos escorted a handful of townsfolk they had liberated from forced servitude to the back to their homes in Womford. Later, they would tell the others how a pack of hellhounds tracked them into town, and attacked them in the middle of the tavern, wreaking havoc and causing panic through the whole region.

Meanwhile, Magnus, Kodrir, and Helson began investigating the underground stream discovered beneath the keep in the interest of securing their position. The stream meandered through lightless grottos for at least two miles before finally opening up into a large underground lake.

Torchlight reflected off of the glassy surface of the lake, broken only by the ripples generated by the small rowboat. The trio docked at a crumbling stone quay, beside another skiff. Knowing there would be enemies near, they proceeded quietly, despite Helson’s infatuation with the ancient stonework and the history they represented.

After a few scuffles with some guards – who were clearly more powerful and devoted than any they’ve faced previously – and a small clan of animalistic lizardmen, they arrived in a large hall. The ceiling was supported by six large columns of cracked and chipped red marble. Trade goods – clearly plundered – were piled haphazardly against the walls. The far end of the hall opened up into another underground lake. A row of tables ran down the center of the room, with a ceremonial gong placed at the head of the tables, between them and the lake.

A handful of bandits were rifling through the latest shipment when they spotted the northerners. “We got here first. Ye can have whatever’s left after we’re done.” they spat over their shoulders.

Unfortunately for the bandits, the barbarians were no strangers to plunder and pillage, and they were cut down before they could raise the alarm.

“Well done.” came a scratchy female voice from behind them as they rifled through the pillaged goods. They turned to see haggard old woman flanked by two lumbering ogres.

“Who are you?” demanded Magnus.

“My name is Thuluna.” She replied. “Thank you for disposing if that… filth.” she nodded her disgusted (and fairly disgusting) face toward the bodies of the thugs. “Gar is ruining this place… bringing in any bandit he can haul off the docks… But perhaps with warriors such as yourselves on my side, we could cleanse his stench from this place and make it worthy of Olhydra’s glory!”

She walked casually into the hall, as her ogres took up flanking positions.

“I don’t trutht her.” lisped Helson, quietly. “The remindth me of my mother.”

This was good enough for Magnus, who swung his glaive Skraelingjar around in a wide arc, and charged. Helson engaged the hag (as she had revealed her true nature) and provided magical cover. Fiori dropped one of the ogres with an arrow through the eye. However, as the beast fell, its club struck the gong.

Thuluna tried to escape into the lake, but Helson walked out on top of the lake and blasted her into oblivion.

Moments later, a gargantuan turtle burst through the surface of the lake, blowing skin-searing steam in a hissing cone wounding them all severely, and dropping Magnus unconscious.

Fiori and Helson managed to drag Magnus to the relative safety of the recently cleared (but not cleaned) room belonging to the lizardman tribe. Having seen to their wounds, they then proceeded around the hall, through a few more dwellings. Among other things, Fiori found a finely crafted bone longsword with rubies inlaid in the pommel which glowed slightly, and was warm to the touch. Fiori would later deduce that it warmed and glowed when in the vicinity of a dragon.

After crossing a bridge (which, of course, had a troll under it), they arrived at a room lined with ancient copper vats. Helson was with the murals of dwarves harvesting and fermenting grain, and regaled his companions with stories of the legendary dwarven craftsmen Svartalfheim. Meanwhile, Magnus had discovered three glass tanks, half-filled with water and shoulder straps, similar to a backpack.

“It mutht be tho underwater creatureth can breathe on land.” Helson posited confidently.

Magnus shrugged and popped one open, only to be immediately set upon by an animated column of water! They managed to defeat it, but the commotion attracted the attention of the guards in the next room.

The door burst open, and a half-dozen or more soldiers began pouring in, with a self-important looking man barking orders behind them. A thundering explosion rocked the room, and suddenly, only their leader was left. Confidently, the one-eyed man marched forward, mist rolling from his body, and the words of a spell on his lips.

His good eye widened as the spell fizzled harmlessly. Helson smirked a toothy grin while the others cut him down.

The weary adventurers began searching the room. The moment they let their guard down, a half-dozen bugbears seemingly appeared all around them. In a flurry of flashing morning stars and javelins, they brought down Magnus and Helson.

Fiori, already the farthest from the melee, turned to escape through the door. The bugbears gave chase, staying just behind Fiori, and out of reach. He wound around in a semi-circle, approaching the room he had just left from the other side.

As the nimble trickster led the bugbears through the winding passageways, Magnus’ eyes fluttered. He took a sudden gasp of breath and sat bolt upright. Hearing the commotion in the halls approaching, and seeing his fallen friend, he quickly popped the cork out of a vial and poured the contents down Helson’s throat.

The demon boy gagged, but swallowed it all. He awoke in a fit of coughing, with Magnus kneeling beside him.

“They are coming.” was all Magnus said before groggily stumbling toward the passageway through which Fiori had recently departed.

Helson fell limply back to the floor just as Fiori burst into the room, spinning around the corner and disappearing into the shadows.

The bugbears stood over Helson’s inert form, kicking him inquisitively while discussing plans to capture Fiori and now Magnus. The bugbears had just decided to split when they found themselves plunged into a magical darkness.

Helson lept to his feet, and ran out the door. Fiori slid stealthily against the wall, back the way he came to meet up with Magnus and Helson. They looked at each-other and agreed “Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

They managed to find shelter in an unused prison, and met up with Kodrir. They then explored a different section of the sprawling ancient underground complex, ending up at a large crevasse, with three Bullettes chained on the other side. The presence of the burrowing creatures, as well as an encounter with an Ettin led them to believe they may have crossed over into the territory of the Earth cult.

Prayer to Odin

Now my course is tough:
Death, close sister
of Odin’s enemy
stands on the ness:
with resolution
and without remorse
I will gladly
await my own

After their storming of Riverguard Keep The boy demon made notes in his diary. This castle was once part of the Besilmer realm. He noted the old symbols of a wheel over a plow which the ancient dwarves used to mark this domain. As the great craftsmen race was now in decline, lost was their knowledge of weapon making, brewing and crafting of wondrous magic items. Many of the dwarf today were remnants of that once great realm. At the peak of their civilization they crafted the most powerful weapons for the gods. Among the many irreplaceable treasures created by them were: Mjöllnir, the hammer of Thor; Gleipnir, the chain that bound the wolf Fenrir when all other fetters failed; Skíðblaðnir, a ship which belongs to Freyr and always has a favorable wind; Gungnir, the spear of Odin; Draupnir, a ring owned by Odin; the Brísingamen, a magnificent necklace owned by Freya; and the long, golden hair of Sif, Thor’s wife. Helson believed the race had become almost sterile. Perhaps it was the ugly women they had who wore long beards on their chin… it did not make the most romantic image. It was said that the dwarven god Moradin attempted to alter this predicament and blessed the wombs of their woman – it was a time when many dwarven twins were born, but still many of their great halls were still empty and the orcs have taken over their lands for the most part. Still the Stone bridge was a pilgrimage for many dwarves today as it was the site of an epic battle between Torhild Flametongue and a powerful Giant from Jötunheimr. Helson would very much like to explore the tomb they heard of from the lack-luster group from the High Forest they encountered.

Opening his mother’s tome clad in the skin of children she had devoured, Helson grimaced. He knew that power came at a price but he was ready to leave this foul thing. He had made a pact with Hel the daughter of the trickster god Loki, with it came immense power. Power from Múspellsheimr, a world of fire and lava, foul curses and other devious legerdemain. It filled his body with an orgasmic feeling and left him empty, alone and in self-loathing. Putting it down he looked up to see a crow fly over his head and began to pray to Odin for wisdom and insight:

Hail Odin,
Grey wanderer:
For many years you have knocked at the hidden doors of my soul. Patient yet ever insistent: awaiting my response.

Hail Odin
All Father:
Ye who knows the passageways to my heart.
Yet patient, waiting, not treading there within, uninvited.

Hail Odin
Wise One
You teach me the greater worth of a path freely chosen.
I welcome You now into my heart, unfettered by reservation.

Hail Odin
Spear Shaker
Ye who incites wars amongst nations and the battles within each man’s heart:
You spur me now to rise to your challenge.

Hail Odin
One Eyed God
Your quest unhalted by sacrifice.
So do I commit to follow your will.

Hail Odin
Master of the Runes
Through Your Gift we glimpse the web of Wyrd
So do I seek the knowledge Your Staves reveal.

Hail Odin
Patron to the skalds
Bringer of the mead of inspiration
May my words be pleasing to Your ears.

Hail Odin
Master of Fury:
Primal and uncontained: dictated by necessity.
May I persevere, unrepressed, in adversity.

Hail Odin
May Your Valkyries find me worthy
When the web of my life is cut.

As he finished his eyes were filled with tears and his ears blazed. His tail swooshed around him vigorously and then he fell into a deep slumber.

The Northmen Cometh

205rivergard.jpgThe crystal waters of the Dessarin River gently slapped at the hull of the stolen keelboat as Kjorné propelled them toward the riverside keep with powerful strokes and colorful complaints. The water was otherwise still and the land open to the sky. Magnus took a deep breath of the fresh air; A slight breeze tousled the young warrior’s long hair. He smiled, preferring the feel of the wind in his face and the boat swaying under his feet to the overcrowded inns and stinking towns they had left behind.

They were all shocked to see the attractive sorceress behind the bar at the Bargewright Inn, barking orders and very nearly pulling out her hair. The temptress had traded her typically cool, seductive demeanor for one of a frazzled hausfrau.

Gora had apparently been entrusted with the management of the inn, and was searching for a set of important, and unfortunately missing, keys. Magnus shook his head at the memory. They didn’t have time for petty squabbling over some unimportant inn, or even an entire town. The gods themselves were being threatened by these elemental worshipers and their fanatical followers.

The ungrateful bitch didn’t even thank them for finding and killing the outlaw, Quanderil, and his lackeys for whom she had been searching the entire time she had been in the vale. Looking back, Magnus was glad they hadn’t gotten dragged further into the politics and troubles of that town. If they had helped search for those missing keys, or gone off to escort a caravan for a bunch of soft, whining merchants, then they surely would have died of boredom while the Nidhug devoured them all.

Magnus chuckled recalling Quanderil’s pitiful attempt to challenge them. The fat, green-skinned sailor ran like a coward, attempting to escape underwater. But they had destroyed him and every one of his shipmates. Unbeknownst to the barbarians, it was for this reason that Rivergard Keep, which they now approached, was not warned of their arrival.

“Why the fuck am I doing all the rowing?” Kjorné bellowed, breaking Magnus’ reverie. “Kodrir, can’t you, like, ask the fish to push us or something?”

The enigmatic druid shifted, rustling his feather-trimmed hide cloak. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

“What the fuck does that even mean?” Kjorné asserted forcefully, managing to preserve an air of genuine inquisitive interest. “Clearly hands are better in a bush then on a little bird.” the crass barbarian retorted, simultaneously grabbing his crotch. “Helson, why don’t you conjure up your unseen manwhore to row this thing. I need to save my strength.”

The demon-boy rolled his eyes and sighed. Again. “It’th a girl” he said, exasperated at the stale jest. “And the’s an untheen thervant!” he struggled with the common tongue from behind his oversized, pointed teeth.

Kjorné just chuckled in response, catching Magnus’ eye, shaking his head and nodding toward the tiefling. “Magnus, you take over then. I’d have piss-boy do it, but I want to get there before the sun sets.”

Magnus knew it was better not to try and argue with stubborn warrior and replaced him at the oar. They were so close, he didn’t know why Kjorné was complaining. But the barbarian’s pacing told Magnus that Kjorné was too anxious for battle to sit still any longer.

The riverside entrance to the keep was blocked by a chain that ran through the gap in the walls. Helson blasted the chain with an arcane bolt, shattering it with a small sizzling splash, just as a face peered out of one of the arrow slits to inquire into their identity. More bolts of energy exploded against the keep wall inches from his face, which quickly retreated.

The face quickly disappeared and Kjorné dropped beside his brother, synchronizing with his stride. The pair of barbarians strained against the oars, veins popping along their bulging muscles as they propelled the small craft, raising it further above the water as they gained speed.

Moments later, the keelboat hit the shore with enough momentum to propel its crew over the sides, into a wave of guards. More than a dozen clearly low-ranking thugs raced toward them, down steep stairs, set into the 20-foot embankment that ringed the shoreline and led up to the rest of the keep. At the same time, a handful of similarly outfitted bandits scampered out to the walls and began firing on the invaders. More fearsome warriors armed with swords bearing what appeared to be sharks teeth, and shields fashioned in the shape of a horseshoe crab shell were scattered throughout the mob.

Magnus and Kjorné dove headlong into the oncoming tide of defenders, slowing their advance and giving Helson time to create an explosion in their ranks, decimating them. Meanwhile, Fiori snuck around, picking off the archers on the walls and keeping his friends safe.

As the defenders thinned, another group of the tooth-sword-wielding warriors burst from the tower door to meet the attackers, but quickly fell to the druid’s conjured wolves and the barbarians’ swords. Shortly afterward, a splash was heard near the tower, but no fleeing enemies could be seen.

With the walls cleared, and no more defenders approaching, the northerners regrouped to formulate the rest of their plan for taking the keep.


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