Xanzilisa

3. The Forest King

When the heroes emerged from the Primal Ruins, they found themselves surrounded by Halfling Warriors of the Thunderclap Tribe, who collected their weapons and took them to their encampment. In their stone and clay homes built into a protected cliff side, the Halflings explained that they had found the heroes through the visions of their Shaman, Garog. The Shaman claimed that he saw visions of their Tribal Leader, Andiron, become a great king over all Halfling Tribes. These desires fueled Andiron's imagination, so much so that he betrothed his only daughter to Garog. The party also learned that the Artifact had transported them nearly three weeks ride south of Dago Town.

Over the course of the day, the party learned that Garog had acquired a strange fruit which Brock sensed was evil. When a village girl accidentally consumed the fruit, she was driven mad by visions of a Forest King who would envelope the world. Confronting Garog before the chief, he admitted his treachery and fled under an invisibility spell. Tracking him through the stables, where he had been poisoning animals to sneak through unobstructed at night, the party found a small tunnel that led into the Mountains.

Through the tunnel, the party came to a great grove of Ancient Trees, with one larger than the others. The ground was littered with ancient corpses. Soon the largest tree came to life, with the Shaman proclaiming him the Forest King, a great living evil tree with visions to cover the world in a Great Forest. Corpses rose from the dead and the party battled the tree with the help of Luco, a Halfing hunter. Defeated and set on fire, the forest grotto burned as the Shaman was crushed under the falling Forest King.

Back in the village, with Garog's lies unraveled, Sonee the local loremaster told the heroes of legends of an ancient human kindgom that had once had a terrible collapse in these lands. Legends of their ruins led the Thunderclap to claim their current encampment, while other stories told of a massive slaughter, with corpses dumped into a sinkhole, presumably the grotto. Though perhaps once a good and noble spirit, the Forest King had been corrupted by feeding off of the dead for so many years, and had been driven mad. Using his cursed fruit, he influenced the mind of Garog to serve him. Most recently, it desired the Primal Artifact that the heroes carry.

Equipped with horses and fresh supplies, the party headed out into the desert, on their way to the Tormaline Valley.

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2. The Trial of Champions

Rushing back to Dago Town, the party discovered the trading post in ruins with no sign of Trimark or the other two surviving guards. They entered the city and found slain giant bats, elven night maruaders and villagers. Checking out the Halfshell, the team discovered a group of survivors in the basement. Just then, a horn sounded.

Outside, Eli spied a group a hoard of goatriders, raiders who quickly descended on the town. A figh erupted around and inside the Halfshell that ended when the Goatrider Leader grabbed the Primal Artifact and started manipulating it. In a blinding white flash the heroes were transported to an underground ruin, with their attackers grotesquely fused to the walls and floors.

The party was, thankfully, fine, and made their way through the ruin which ended up being a Trial of sorts, a Primal dungeon where warriors were tested in battle and made into heroes or kings crowned in riches. Crystals produced from chalices on pedestals opened a series of gates which led to rooms where different puzzles and challenges were overcome including a Chimera, 60 skeletons, riddles and an enormous armored knight trapped under rubble. 

In the final room, the heroes met with an undead frozen monstrosity who screamed in silence and blasted the heroes with paralyzing charms and cold blasts. Once defeated, another chamber appeared: a room with a stone relief of past heroes, that magically added the party to its walls and produced four pillars that showered them in … mostly long-rotten armor and weapons. A goodly amount of gold and jewels was scavenged, as well as four magical artifacts to aide the heroes in the quests.

Beyond the treasure room, another room opened up, the ceiling of which collapsed offering a way to the surface (wherever that may be). The heroes made camp before leaving the next day.

 

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1. Through the Horned Gate

Roland awoke with a start as fetid water splashed on his face and ran down his body. After a night of drink and fight, he had been rounded up by the local militia and thrown in the brig. Freed by a familiar face – Trimark – she offered her old commander a job guarded a caravan headed out of Dago Town the next day. Roland accepted and agreed to help recruit additional muscle.

At the Halfshell, a tavern and inn inside an enormous tortoise skeleton, he found Marco Maestarr, an elven mage with a far-away look in his eyes. Roland recruited him to the cause and the two soon witnessed a tough Halfling ranger take out an Orcish bully in short order. Eli Bookof was ushered into the group as well. A peculiar Gnome Paladin named Brok Goldenleaf attempted to heal, cheat and then join the group, having seen the slaying outside. Eventually, they agreed. Finally, outside, the team was joined by Kevril Silentread AKA Duke Rope, a rogue and con-artist with sticky fingers.

The group prepared for their journey and drove two wagons pulled by Mandoos out through the enormous horned gate and into the Xanzilisa. The first leg of the journey was briefly interrupted when, while trying to track down a strange metallic clinking noise, Kevril discovered four giant centipedes attempting to devour the team's rations. The problem was dealt with quickly. Besides this event, the only thing of note was that Trimark's group seemed rigid, professional and more battle-ready than your run of the mill mercenaries.

That evening the group made camp and took two-person rotations all night long. During Kevril's first watch he discovered the source of the sound – military weapons stored and ready in the false-floor of one of the wagons. During his second shift, some hours later, the camp was set upon by enormous bats being ridden by elves in dark desert garb. They fought with lances when mounted, and scimitars on foot. Their leader, overheard to be called "Lord Commander," wielded a spectral blade that could appear in his hand at any time and which glowed with a blue-white vapor. He cut down two soldiers and proceeded to oversee the ransacking of one of the wagons, before Brok engaged him in combat, sensing that his sword had an evil nature.

The mysterious Lord Commander fled, perhaps frustrated that his search turned up nothing he was looking for (it should be noted he left the weapons, gold, armor and other personal effects of the caravan untouched). He called down a bevy of arrows from the dozen or more riders still circling in the sky and made a move to withdraw. As he tried to flee, Eli tagged him with a poison arrow and got a quick glimpse of his face, scowling in indignation. A giant bat rider carried him off.

Trimark was badly riddled with arrows, but Brok was able to stabilize her. The group heard her tale: 

King Luka, the regent of Rahar had uncovered an object which was stored in the secret compartment in the front wagon of the caravan's driver's bench. Once recovered, Marco was certain it was a powerful Primal artifact, but stopped short of messing with it too much. Trimark explained that the King felt that it was adamant that the artifact travel to the Tormaline Valley and reach the hands of a being called the Ard Ra. 

Uncertain of what to do with this information, the party salvaged a partial wagon and two Mandoos to carry Trimark and the surviving three soldiers back to Dago Town. They set out into the desert, intending to meet up with the soldiers back in Town that evening and decide what to do.

Rewards: a few small arms salvaged from the weapons cache, and 30 arrows poisoned with giant centipede venom (Eli).

XP: 300 (per character)

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