At the Frontier of Acot

The Price of Chainmail
Crossroads Irregulars

Dukirk admired his chainmail armor. He had lifted it fair and square from a pikeman who fell in the field over the summer. Since then, it had taken up space in his pack as he lugged it along for a month. He still remembered cursing at the weight, but persevered in the hope that he could use it or sell it. He had stowed in a hole when his division had come together to erect the fortifications around their encampment. Now, with everyone at their ease, he had retrieved the armor. Everyone was at their ease. The first frost had fell the week before and marked the close of the campaign season. Even the grim looking Lieutenant Reef had given the men a nod at revelry and promised two fifths of whiskey for each company. This was the time to don the chainmail. The sergeant would assume he’d traded or gambled for it. It was still muddy in spots and it reeked of rust, but it was still better than those ratty bits of boiled leather he had before. Dukirk could well imagine he was a hero. There were even spots where it still reflected lights from the evening campfires. He felt as though he’d waited a long time for this moment. Nobody he knew had been treated to more than a bit of liquor and extra rations for a long time. Now, he’d put together a proper reward for himself. He nearly wrenched his shoulder patting himself on the back.

Dukirk had forced himself to wait until he drew night watch before digging up his armor. He had been careful not to seem to eager; groaning when his mark came up; bitching to the sergeant (although not too much); offering to trade with a few of the men that he knew would never accept. He had crept out of the log enclosure and thirty yards down the road before he’d turned off into the ditch to start grubbing through the dirt. He had stayed off the road and out of the light so he could struggle into the armor and figure out how all of the clever little clasps fit together. Even after donning it, he had leaned back in the ditch and relaxed, letting his limbs grow accustomed to the weight. This was why he was perfectly situated to see a ball of fire streak from the west and slam into the wooden barricades. The wood immediately burst into flames at the impact. He saw torches being lit to the south as a large group of men were moving from that direction. He imagined he could almost see the sword and sun emblems on their tabards. It could only be the red army of Pernok, coming to pay a visit. Dukirk started crawling through the ditch toward the burning barricades. He blessed his luck that his tabard and armor were saturated in mud and camouflaged from the approaching army.

It would take him only a few minutes to reach the fortification and sound the alarm. He would have made it undetected too, were it not for the dogs. They came running up the road, baying and barking in the night. There was no chance they would miss him, squirming in the muck. Sure enough, one of the dogs lept down into the ditch and started to worry his foot, having no vantage to grab his arms or throat. Dukirk kicked down hard. The dog yelped and jumped back. It crawled up on the other side of the ditch, barking. It’s fellows had caught on to the game and were piling around him. One had gotten ahead of him and was pouncing from side to side, barking and snarling. Dukirk drew the metal coif over his head and continued on determined. He imagined that he would meet his mates on the other side of the wall, their swords drawn and faces grinning; the captains shouting orders and rallying the men for war. He did not expect to see, past the snapping jaws of the dogs, the burnt corpse of the other sentry. Gams looked mighty surprised with the fire burning around him and the knife in his back.

‘Poor blighter’ thought Dukirk, although he secretly felt glad it was Gams and not himself who had found the wrong end of the knife. The dogs were getting more determined, trying to grab his neck around the coif and worrying his legs and arms. He was forced to kick out more and more. Occasionally he was greeted with a satisfying yelp as his foot connected. He knew eventually that he’d have to get up, or the men approaching from behind would catch him. He shook his head and continued to slog forward. He heard a whistling sound and instinctively flattened himself against the ditch. He heard several yelps and saw that some of the dogs had been slain by arrows. He pulled himself up and started to run toward the burning fortification.

“Over here you damn fool!” There was a small group of grubby soldiers hiding behind a hill to his right. He curved around to join them. They used their bows to slay the dogs that still followed him.

“Huh, no sword? Here you go soldier.” One of the men drew a long dagger and handed it to him. “It’ll serve you until we can find you better.”

“There’s soldiers coming up the road!” Dukirk was amazed that his voice worked.

“Yeah, we saw. Not much we can do. The other side of our little camp is in flames too. We were on night patrol. Lucky us.” He pointed down to the burning barricade. Screams could be heard.

“Why are we not fighting back? A little fire shouldn’t be enough to stop us.” Dukirk felt genuinely confused. And lucky. Very lucky.

“Black elves came up through the earth. A least, that’s our guess. Saw one of them climbing the walls. No one’s likely to get out of this alive. We’ve got one thing in our favor though. The general took a group of men and sallied out a few days ago. I think he meant to harry the enemy behind the lines. Cheeky. Not as cheeky as this though.”

“So, he’s alive?” Dukirk was surprised at how much genuine hope he felt.

“Yeah, maybe. We’ll find out. Who knows, maybe we actually still have an army around here somewhere. There’s always Hourtill too. Guess we could head that way. Me, I think we need to find the general. Boulandrick is a fair man. He’ll want to reward us for bringing him news. My names Sevil by the way, Sergeant to you though. These are my men Haras, Ponter, Basil, Vimer, and that comely lass is Helena”

“Fuck you Sevil” said Helena. She was at the edge of the group, an arrow knocked to her bow. Her voice was imperious, but tired. The sergeant laughed softly.

“Dukirk.” said Dukirk, nodding at the others.

“Fine, well this little bonfire roast is a mess and those soldiers are only a mile away. It’s time to flee. Haras, point. Ponter, Helena, take rear. Dukirk with me, and welcome to the Crossroads Irregulars. Now, move!”

The troop moved out to the east before curving north. Behind them the fortifications burned, casting a soft orange glow to the horizon. After a time, even that faded until only the stars showed the way.

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Meanwhile, in Shavenfell
Order of the Drake Recruits

The recently recruited members of the Order of the Drake took their ease in Shavenfell. It wasn’t long though before a quivering and nervous Undersecretary Morton, despite being overwhelmed by fright at their obvious battle prowess and gritty toughness, greeted them. He told a tale of woe and enlisted the help of the adventurers, whilst acting in the name of the powerful tax collector, Bilious Vlad.

The adventurers took up their arms and attempted to revive the sole survivor of a Dwarven ambassador’s party. Gorbo, the remaining guard had escaped and climbed through a week of wilderness to bring word to his closest available allies. The Dwarven ambassador had previously been in Shavenfell to discuss a new trading route. This is a resource that Shavenfell can not well do without. However, with the attack on the Dwarven party, these plans may now come to nothing. Now, even Gorbo the toughened dwarf survivor is of little use. His fever keeps him gibbering bits and pieces of useful information. Something about an attack, dog rats with swords, burning…

The party set out, Thorn, the sole worshiper of Corvus Corax, Will, a powerful human fighter, Numyer, a powerful shapeshifter -rumored to have traveled from the unexplored lands. Grog Magog, a half orc barbarian, also accompanies them, mighty in the way of the axe.

The journey was long, but uneventful. They discovered an inn near the mountain pass that had been overrun. Dwarven corpses littered the building. The bar was similarly ruined.

Later, they found the remains of the Dwarven party. An upturned wagon with corpses nearby. However, the corpse of the Dwarven Ambassador is not there. Also, they find corpses of Kobolds. These small, clever and cruel creatures had overwhelmed the Dwarves. Numyer also noticed that they may have employed some sort of new weapon. A weapon that employs acid! The party took some time to theorize about what this could portend, except for Grog who boasted a strong resistance to acid.

They followed the trail to a box canyon where a waterfall fell into a pool and a stream cut through the center. A system of caves existed at the top of this waterfall. The heroes wasted no time climbing up to investigate. Alas, Grog nearly died as he fell from the top of the falls. Luckily, Thorn quickly saw to his wounds. After a difficult climb, all of them reached the top.

From there, they started their exploration. they saw that something had attacked the Kobolds as well and left them splattered about one of the rooms. It melted the flesh from their bones. A chill wind through the cave seemed to whisper something of scales rubbed together, scarlet eyes and flashing teeth. They continued, both wary and weary.

They soon detected an ambush of Kobolds in the cave. They had little time to plan and were forced to fight immediately. The little monsters swarmed the party, but could not defeat them. Here Thorn felled two of the creatures to his divine wrath, though much of his strength was placed to hold up the bodies of his companions. Numyer fell victim to a curse of bad luck, though his beast companion, Braun, supported him and helped keep the skirmishers away. Only three of the monsters fell to jaws and blade. Will quickly aided his companions. His efforts assisted in keeping the enemy from their backs and helped establish a line which no Kobold could cross. He slew six of the creatures. Grog resolved to clear a path for himself. Though he sustained grievous wounds he drew on the battle rage within him. He became a god of slaughter through which no Kobold could pass and none could oppose. His brutal fury carried the day and nine of the creatures to the afterlife.

Here they rested, tired, and uncertain what the day would bring next. A small army of Kobolds, 20 in all, lay around them. The walls were painted in gore, and themselves also.

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Intrigue and Undead
Order of the Drake

So many goals, so little time. You all have received missions and have started to see a clearer picture of yourself in the world around you.

Alek discovered information on the so-called Pelorian holy site that the Pernokian invaders have claimed as their own. He has uncovered details about an ancient sculpture at that site. A perfect sphere balanced on the tip of a pyramid. No one in any of the temples he visited knew what significance the sculpture has, except to say that it shares some similarity to Pelorian symbolism.

Doppelmeier discovered the meeting place for the Raven Queen worshippers and introduced himself to the menacing caretaker of that place, Bonemeal. He has been alerted to the presence of undead operating somewhere in or around the city.

Mindartus made contact with his compatriots at the university and managed to secure the teleportation circle there.

Varen, as the new Lord Acosi, has petitioned the king for funds as he needs the cash to boost his efforts to restore the Acoti Rangers. He was invited to 3 meetings. The first with the cold eyed Lord Gwodo who warned him of Lord Borthanes and promised financial support if Varen would support him in opposing Lord Borthanes. Varen then met with the King, who promised to provide financial assistance if Varen can alleviate the pressure from the thousands taken as prisoners of war and the even larger amount of refugees who drain the King’s coffers. Lastly, he met with Lord Borthanes who provided a solution to these problems. Lord Borthanes suggested that Varen should seek out dragons in the eastern mountains and slay them for their hoard.

Scratch informed the king of 2 companies of constructs provided by the Academy to help shift the balance of the war.

Below, A summary of what has transpired.

At The Frontier of Acot

Near the northern lands, where the border of the nation of Acot gives way to unmapped dangerous wilderness, there lies a small town named Shavenfell. We have successfully adventured through much of the environs and some of the northern lands. Here below we see a short description of your exploits.

1. You successfully fought off the Orcish slavers that were plaguing the farming communities to the east. You found an encampment of Orcish slavers and destroyed it. You also freed a new companion, Fandango the drake. Who joins you on your adventure. You found information indicating that the slaves were being sold to giants in the mountains to the east. You chose not to pursue that line of inquiry too far, and instead returned to Shavenfell to report to Bran Gracevane, a mercenary captain in the Black Griffon company.

2. You successfully investigated the problem with the graveyards and discovered the underground lair of Mesach, a powerful conjurer of the undead. You routed his forces and put him to the sword. You also found evidence of his brothers Shadrack and Abendigo. You discovered that Shadrack is a master of disguises and has infiltrated Shavenfell. You even met him one fateful day as he disguised himself as a farmer with a load of turnips. You have not yet found him, though sometimes a hint of his presence surfaces. Further, you met the dessicated remnant of one of the Ancient Ones and secured a piece of his divine power for one of your companions. No further inquiries have been made on this.

3. You discovered a campaign of words meant to slander your deeds and create ill will toward you. You successfully smashed the attempts and created your own set of broadsheets. You united the community and helped establish an economy.

4. You went on a long and perilous journey to help Bran Gracevane’s old friend Lord Kulu. You successfully liberated his manor from the invading gnolls and discovered a clue that the cult of Orcus is also has a stake in the land of Acot. You freed Lord Kulu’s mind from the demon that afflicted him.

5. Upon returning to Shavenfell, you found the mercenary company had split and Bran Gracevane held the leadership of the remaining loyal mercenaries. The rest had followed the sinister Dashain to the northlands. You went north to seek him out and were waylaid by followers of Abendigo. You pursued them into the blighted lands of a lost tribe of Eladrin who were infected with a powerful corruption. You discovered a tale of betrayal and woe as the enemy you pursued as existed for a long time and had led this group of Eladrin into a trap where their souls could not find peace. You found the leader of this realm, Sol Flindel, and upon liberating his spirit you provided the other Eladrin trapped in this land a momentary respite from the torment. However, the spirit of corruption invoked was too strong and was busily reclaiming the land when you left. It is still unclear what further impact your intervention may have caused. You also learned of an ancient fortress of Abendigo’s in the north. You discovered a large spire of stone spiked through the crumbling Eladrin fortress and know that it came from the Backbone of the World.

6. You delivered the ancient priest of Bahamut out of his purgatory and into his eternal reward despite his blasphemy. You also discovered a mine of gold and the mysterious substance, “The Ink of Kings” known for causing madness in those who use it carelessly. You uncovered information that revealed Abendigo’s interest in the Backbone of the World (a mountain range). You gained a glimmer of his motivation as well.

7. You returned to Shavenfell only to leave once again. You attacked and defeated DaShain and made your escape. You rescued a (mostly) unfriendly elven maid who promised assistance to Varen, and more than assistance to Mindartus.

Now you have reached a level of greatness. The powers of the land can no longer ignore you as you make your way to accomplish your goals. Your steps are dogged by the enemies you have made. Others who you have never met already are positioning themselves to support or oppose you. The war-weary land of Acot is starting show glimmers of hope. The people whisper of heroes whose accomplishments could only be done with the favor of the gods. Now is a time of great opportunity and danger.

Please send me any other snippets that should be included in this adventure summary.

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