Having exited the Underdark, our intrepid adventurers made their way toward Oldbrook for some well-deserved rest. En route, Frook mysteriously transformed into a hawk, flew off, and has not been seen since. The cleric, Ezekiel, also broke away from the group, headed south to Merrilea where construction on a large temple to Nimvera was recently completed.
Arriving in Oldbrook, Eingar and Nyrrki secured adequate lodging for a few days of rest and relaxation. Before long, however, rumors of a young caged dragon in a small village just south of Northton were being passed around the inn and tavern with skeptical excitement. Their interest piqued, they decided to head north to investigate. An adventuring bard named Mirth, overhearing their plans, offered to join them as a traveling companion. After a night of drinking and discussion it was agreed that the three would set out the next day.
The trip north was pleasant in the warm, sunny days of the late summer and, for their part, Nyrrki and Eingar continued to enjoy the simplicity of the sun on their backs after their time underground. The group encountered no troubles or hardships on the way and were soon closing in on Butterbridge, about a third of the way toward their final destination of Northton. The light-hearted mood of the journey came to a halt, however, as the party began encountering refugees in the thousands, pouring south and bringing tales of orc and goblin raiders in Northton.
Once in Butterbridge, the group heard mixed tales about exactly what had happened. It seemed some sort of raid on Northton had started with a nightime attack of fire arrows intended to set buildings ablaze. In the chaos that followed, the raiders swept through the town, killing and capturing whomever they could. The survivors fled south, gaining numbers as they moved through the countryside alerting others of the oncoming danger. The attack had taken place six prior and not a single advance warning had come through until the refugees arrived.
The party sought out the local halfling militia leader, Captain Trager Butterback and learned that in addition to the raiding reports to the north, there were additional reports of goblins appearing in the Golden Thicket to the east. Concerned about the presence of the raiders so far south into the thicket, the party elected to travel east in search of goblins.
The journey east toward the Golden Thicket was uneventful save for a mysterious presence in the sky’s overhead. Each day, as the sun was high in the sky, the party spotted something flying overhead heading east. And, each day, about 4 hours later the same high-flying create was seen headed back to the east. Sure that this event was somehow connected with the reports of goblins, the companions elected to stray from the road and head north to bring themselves closer to the flight path of the creature.
After three days of travel and little sign of goblins, the party decided to lay a trap. Having been careful to make no fires on the journey into the thicket, they now created a rather large bonfire, leaving the bard, Mirth, exposed in the light of the fire while Eingar and Nyrrki hid nearby. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before they were set upon by a band of goblins. A few scratches, the revelation that Eingar’s sword—Cenolth’s Loss—could light up, and one slightly damaged lute later, the party had decimated the goblin band and had a single captive. Though able to gain a magical understanding of its speech, the party was unable to communicate back to direct an interrogation. Unwilling to let the creature go, and unable to keep it captive, the goblin was run through after being tossed onto the fire.
Searching for tracks the group was able to make out a general direction from which the goblins had arrived and so made plans to search that area come morning. When morning came, however, the party was greeted by Sylwin Arduinen a ranger from the area around Mywen, who had been sent up into the thicket to investigate the same rumors of a goblin presence as the party. He explained that he’d been tracking the group that the party had slain the previous night, having lost their trail the day prior, just a couple of hours north. Hoping to find some clue as to what these goblins were up to, the group joined Sylwin to return to the area where he’d lost the goblins.
After some hours of travel through the thicket, the group came upon a clearing where Sylwin spent a considerable amount of time looking for a sign that his quarry had passed through. Ready to give up, he literally stumbled onto a clue: the unmistakeable depressions of dragon claws in the middle of the clearing. Sylwin postulated that the group of goblins he had been tracking was not the same as those the party had killed.
Sensing that the true threat was the potential assault on Butterbridge from whatever forces had already hit Northton, Sylwin suggested the group make haste back to the west before it was too late. Sylwin sent word via a sparrow to a nearby ranger outpost and led the group south, back toward the main road. After arriving and a brief wait, the group was met by a handful of elves, leading a group of stallions out of the wood. The part mounted up and rode hard toward Butterbridge as fast as the horses could manage, changing out horses as needed. Riding through the night, the party made it to Butterbridge just after dawn the next day, feeling worn from the eighteen hour ride.
After speaking with Captain Butterback, who took Sylwin aside to discuss matters in private, the group took charge of the town’s defenses, rallying the militiamen and coordinating defenses. Within a few hours they had worked to secure the town from fire, as well as blockading off much of the town square in a defensive state. With nothing to do but sit and wait, the party took advantage of their preparedness by getting in a much needed rest in the back of Captain Butterback’s temporary command post while Sylwin scouted north of the village.
Upon waking, Sylwin, alerted the group that he’d spotted a war band of orcs, goblins, and kobolds on his return trip. He estimated the time to their arrival to be approximately one hour. Having prepared defenses, the party elected to guard the northern entrance with Sylwin leaving them to it while he helped secure the eastern path.
Watching from the cover of dusk and the dismantled town square that now served as makeshift barricades, the adventurers watched as half the band came down toward the town from the low rise to the north. The orcs stopped first at some hundred yards distance. The goblins stopped thirty-or-so yards from the north end of town. The kobold scouts were sent in first, unfazed by whatever evil they were there to commit, they strolled slowly down the main avenue. Unbeknownst to them, they were walking directly into a trap.
After engaging the kobolds, fire arrows from the goblin archers came sailing toward the rooftops of the town, but, to the goblins’ chagrin they failed to light the thatched roofs which had been protected from fire. Further, one of the goblins missed its mark, sailing an arrow into a street filled with lamp oil that quickly ignited to kobolds who were standing in it at the time. Not long after that, Eingar signaled the militiamen to loose their own arrows which lit the northern field aflame, having been doused with lamp oil as well. Though unable to see through the flames of the street, the sounds of the goblin’s cries were sufficient proof that they had done their job.
Moments later, without a minute of respite, a runner exploded into the square to announce orcs were at the eastern gate. Without hesitation the party moved to secure the eastern route, finding the orcs they had been warned about. Turning the raiders against themselves with a well-placed crown of madness and more than one flying fist or foot, the group swiftly tore through their ranks, leaving the party exhausted, but triumphant.
In their celebration, with weapons held high, a whip-snapping rhythmic beat is heard on the air. Eingar’s sword takes on a pale, glowing red hue, which quickly deepens as the sound closes in.
Not a single soul moves and not a sound is heard when the dragon passes overhead, wings snapping against the air.