Ghost Wolves

Excerpt From Abrose's Journal
With Friends Like These

Never in my life would I have thought I would see Dal’Riadan ruins! It’s spectacular. The stone is white as snow and so expertly crafted that it still stands… or at least is still buried. In any case it looks beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of the first time I saw stone architecture, but this is so much more than a wall around a town. this is a town!

Not long after we entered we saw signs of Copperpot’s activity. He’s quite a fellow to take on the challenge of exploring a ruin alone so far from anyone. He made short work of a nest of giant rats, and it appears he knows a few spells… We press on after him yearning for the knowledge he undoubtedly possesses.

Disaster! Bran was nearly killed by a trap within these walls. It appears that the architecture itself is willing to snuff out our lives if we are not careful… as it did Cheswick Copperpot. I’m sorry to see that he was made a victim of this place. Bran too was quite upset at this. I enlisted his aid to help put his spirit to ease. I don’t know much about halfling culture, but erecting a small monument and taking anything of value off of him seems to be the way to honor the dead in their culture.

Not willing to let his death mean nothing, we press on to explore further than anyone has in a Millenium. This place certainly is a peril. Around every darkened corner it seems there are a horde of tentamorts waiting to devour our poor Bran. Fortunately we are used to whetting our blades on the hides of horrors.

Zadok is not having a good time in here! he must be more used to fighting in the open or with better light, I don’t know. He suffered so many doses of venom and poison that even a masterwork antitoxin wouldn’t help. He needs some good rest after all that, but like a trooper he presses on. The others tease him a lot, but I respect him for sticking his neck out when the going gets rough. One day he may be all that stands between us and an untimely death.

We are determined to leave no stone unturned. We explored any crevice that we could fit into and came away with some powerful magical items. I fortunately can travel lightly, so I don’t need much, but I volunteered to take a cord that makes it so that I can help with the burden of others. I can already feel that I am stepping more solidly and my back feels as strong as this Dal’Riadan stone!

We seem to have reached a dead end… well not dead, but certainly aren’t coming back if we go down this slippery slope. We don’t have enough rope to reach the bottom and Sabaka can only relay minor details about what’s at the bottom. I guess we’ve reached the end of this adventure.

Wait… where’s Zadok?

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Into the ruin
This ruin is more like a cave...cutting through the intricately carved Dal'Riadan walls is the stream we found above and it has woven wherever it pleased, cutting caverns in the surrounding rock, and imbuing the air with its dampness. It is gloomy and dark, I am grateful for the shining rock I carry with me.

Apparently we are not the first travelers here. I spied on a wall the archaeological signs for "traps ahead, attempting to disarm." I imagine Cheswick Copperpot had found the old ruins as well. I was grateful for his keen sense and mindfulness to his fellow archaeologists. But in a further room I noticed a dark smear on the ground, which I discovered upon investigating to be month old blood...though I only noticed once it had mixed with my own. A large rock plummeted down nearly ending my investigations for good, but the gods must have been watching out for halflings today. I escaped the first trap with only a limp, and, with some "friendly" chiding from my companions, the wherewithal to watch my step from there on out.

Luck was not the on the side of Copperpot though. In the next room we found his remains; it seems he did not escape the trap as cleanly as I.

On we went, with various ups and downs. In some rooms we found treasures, potions, and various useful items. But along the caverns cut out by the river, we also found many tentamorts waiting to grab some weary halfling or whatever else stumbled within their reach.

I am trying to be brave for the sake of the others--this is where I should feel most at home and I know my companions count on my knowledge of dungeons and ruins, but I feel weak. The ruins of Dal'Riada were not what I had expected. One piece of interest though: Copperpot carried with him a piece of a map which to my extreme wonder matched exactly the map fragment we found in Morn. This trip may prove to be more worthwhile than I hoped!

--Bran Harvish
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Debrief 6

Now that we have our charter and our mercenary business is as legal as it can get in the Dalelands, I decided to finally relax and loosen the reins on my men. They have been hard at work at Desario’s Master plan, which was executed flawlessly.

Now, we’re back on track for our number one goal: Gathering supplies and allies.

I go to the group and ask what kind of mission they want. Ben is enthusiastic to find this lair of an old Bandit King which might hold a key to his own haunted problems, but with little to go on (Somewhere North of Colm) we must wait. I told him to gather more recon on this particular mission, once we have a locked down target I would be quite interested in exploring an old Bandit King’s hideout.

Bran had a good idea. Since we got the “Magical Triangle” from the canid tribes, several of our members have received some sort of vision on it. It seems there is a magic within it that is calling. So, we decided to get some recon on the triangle to see if we can pinpoint its origin.

Bran comes back with a name, Cheswick Copperpot, who actually resides in Colm. What luck. We go over to his house but find it empty. Bran decides to do a little old fashioned recon while I distract the neighbors.

Bran gathers recon. The magic triangle has some connection to an old ruin of a long lost tribe called the Dal’Riada. With a pinpointed direction we quickly regroup, gather supplies and head out.

Near the ruins we see an Ettin wandering aimlessly. Preparing for a battle I enlarge Kilja. She catches the Ettin’s attention, who then cowardly withdraws from the fight. Kilja showed superb prowess and steel reserve in the face of danger. Were I still able to hand out recommendations I would do so.

We find the ruins shortly after that, a musty rotting place that looks to be hundreds of years old. It interests most of the party a great deal. I am somewhat reserved in searching these old places. To me they signify only a means to an end, my chance for revenge upon the wolves.

We soon learn in a room filled with traps that Copperpot passed away. He left a lasting note about a trap he had not found. Bran was able to disarm most of the old traps in the temple, and even lay out a resting place for Copperpot. We say last words and then continue on.

After a few more rooms we encounter strange insects with a strange fungal infection. In the process of neutralizing said threat Zadok received a wound from the insects. The healers in the group are able to stop the infection but not undo the damage, only time will do that. Zadok braves his injury so we proceed through the ruins.

We find the eggs of said insects and proceed to neutralize that situation as well… with fire. Extreme fire.

Hoo-ah.

Further into the chambers we come across a few valuables, a magical cloak or resistance and some other items which could either be useful or good for trade. We gather what we can and proceed.

Following a stream entrance we are able to go further into the ruins. Here an ambush was laid upon us by several tentamorts. Since they were on the ceiling the group became very
resourceful in defeating them. It is a good day when a leader sees the team working together like a well oiled machine. I feel a need for a nice cigar and to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Note to self: Must get cigars for said moments.

We come across a corpse in the tunnels that provide more valuables for us. A quick rummage and we proceed on.

Now we must head through a waterfall to an even deeper part of the cave/ruin area. We deploy as a unit and are currently proceeding through the lower levels.

Will convey more intel as it develops.

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Debrief 5
Still heading towards Colm on our new mission to find allies and resources.

In Harper’s Ford did recon with Captain Grayson of the Deep Wardens. He was thankful of our operation of the small Canid problem. He gave us some more information on Bloodclaw. Bloodclaw is the fierce leader of a Canid group near Fort Thorn. Can be identified with a gray muzzle.

When the group has this knowledge a plan begins to form.

Desario’s Master Plan

1. Get Fort Thorn supplies from Canid Lair.
2. Go to Colm.
3. In Colm deliver Hemmeth package to Tamon Winriver
4. Deliver love letter from Elyin to his beloved, Kailah.
5. Deliver Field Reports to High Warden.
6. Get approval for a charter on condition of killing off Bloodclaw and his gang in the area.
7. Take supplies to Fort Thorn.
8. Take down Kragak Bloodclaw and clan.
9. Return to Colm and get charter.

A charter would make our mercenary work in the Dalelands legitimate. It is something we need if we wish to continue gathering supplies, money and allies for our ultimate goal.

In Harper’s Ford there is a nice tailor by the name of Anwin Felleth. She made a couple of remarkable outfits for me during my stay. I am very grateful and hope to see her again in my travels.

After some rest and restocking in Harper’s Ford we make our way back to the Canid lair and gather up the supplies. From there we head towards Colm without incident.

At Colm we deliver the letter to Elyin’s lover and the package to Tamon. From there we meet with High Warden Althus to deliver Field Reports. We give him a debrief of our Canid encounter and our intended target to take down Bloodclaw and his gang. Althus promises to help us get our charter from the Duke if we accomplish this.

We spend only one night in Colm and it is unpleaseant. Mostly because some gnome named Belloc Nethertwixt seems to be interested in our group. I do not like this. Anyone interested in our group could mean trouble. He runs a chartered merc group in the Dalelands known as the Silver Horns. I think for the moment he believes us to be little more than competition. If he digs around though, he might discover the truth.

He should be neutralized as soon as possible.

Leave Colm next day for Fort Thorn. Spot a small group of Canids near Fort Thorn and the group doesn’t take too long to neutralize them. We leave one alive long enough to give us some information, but it isn’t all that much. Sparrow silences him once our interrogation is over.

Arrived at Fort Thorn, Captain Caulder Nyle meets us. We once more debrief him on our mission. He is happy we are here and will provide us with a letter of intent should we accomplish our goals, plus a meager salary for the job. We take what we can get. The charter is our main objective, however.

We travel outside of Fort Thorn and find the hideout of Bloodclaw and his gang. They have commandeered an old fort that is in near ruins, with high walls crumbling around it. Bran scouts an alternate entrance, so the group infiltrates the compound under cover of darkness.

We are quick and swift in our neutralization. Bloodclaw retreats into the ruins while we are busy with the rest of the clan. Once they are taken care of we follow Bloodclaw into the depths. We fight him and the remaining of his subordinates until the entire Bloodclaw clan was neutralized.

We thoroughly searched the Canid lair and found a small piece of paper which alluded to the Canids true plans. It seems as if they were being told to create this chaos from someone, possibly within the Duke’s own kingdom. This provided a very interesting element to this entire situation.

After that we gathered what supplies we found useful and returned to Fort Thorn.

From there we got the letter of recommendation from Captain Nyle and returned to Colm as soon as we could.

The group decided as a whole not to mention the betrayal to anyone, until we could asses who is orchestrating such a campaign.

Once we reach Colm and speak with High Warden Althus we determine he is trustworthy and explain everything we know. He quickly shows us to the Duke. I am ashamed to admit I was not wearing my best clothes to meet such a man, but under the circumstances I hoped he would understand.

The Duke read the paper we found and recognized the handwriting as the Harl of Highgate. Apparently this man has been jealous of the Duke’s power and wants it for himself. Until now it seems as if the Harl was little more than a nuisance, but now his treason has stepped up from words into action.

We speak with the Duke and are able to get our charter, thanks to our neutralization of the Canid problem and uncovering of a political plot. We are thankful and tell the Duke that we can help if he needs a simple and quick resolution to this Harle problem.

The Duke needs to discuss some options, but he will be in touch with us.

So, there is time for some celebration. We have since gotten our charter to act as a mercenary group in the Dalelands. Not only this but we have made good allies with most of the Wardens in the area as well as the Duke.

Note to self: Must get another outfit in case the Duke calls on us again.

Back in Colm we met a familiar face to the wolves, a Sergeant by the name of Crumple. He has become a merchant selling wares in one of Colm’s Market places. The group was weary at first to talk with him, seeing as he could not only expose us but he very well may be looking for us, or even be part of the betrayal plot of the Wolves to begin with.

Crumple is surprised and scared to see us though. We meet in a bar and explain our stories. Crumple’s story isn’t all that different from ours. He saw the fall of the wolves, grabbed what supplies he could and headed North. He simply abandoned the Wolves, trying to find a new life as a merchant. He took some solace in knowing that if he hadn’t deserted he would have been killed or betrayed.

His path was both easier and harder than ours. We explain our story. He is thankful we made it to where we are. We then explain our mission to avenge the fallen wolves. He will help what he can. We promise to get him our supplies and other treasures we find on our missions, in exchange he will keep an ear to the ground for gossip and other information important to us.

We now have a merchant in Colm in with us. Another ally in our growing group. I am most pleased with myself.

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At last! An adventure!
I am staring into the darkness of an abandoned ruin, one that only a few months before was buried deep into the earth. Before me, no one has seen into this darkness for perhaps a thousand years...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Like every adventure with this company, we never arrive by the straight road. We left Fort Thorn with a note of recognition for the High Warden of Colm, which we reached without any trouble. Though we were shocked upon arrival at Colm to see a gathering of Elves leaving the city. I asked around the crowd and found that the entire representation of Elven ambassadors were leaving Colm. Small wonder, as we witnessed the presence of Elven hatred first hand in the city...

Though we had intended to keep the secret of note we discovered in the Canid lair, Ambrose sensed that High Warden Althus was an honorable man, and let slip that the Canids were remarkable well-informed...maybe a little too well-informed? Althus seemed to know that we knew more than we were letting on, and brought us straight to the Duke when we revealed the half-burned note. The Duke Berrick Stone recognized the handwriting at once, as belonging to his rival, the Harl of High Gate, Ehrlan Dorne. It seems there are greater scandals afoot than we realized.

Having received our charter, we find ourselves to be free men and women, and left to our own affairs to explore Colm. I believe we all felt the need to explore, and my wander-lust seems to have grown stronger after spending so much time fighting Canids. The mystery of the "Magic Triangle" seems to have interested most of our party so we went seeking information in the marketplace. To my great surprise, the master adventurer/explore Cheswick Copperpot is a resident of Colm. His writings on treasures and archaeological finds have been a large part of my studies. I could not resist a trip to see the man in the flesh.

While Copperpot's home stood empty, entering the house seemed almost necessary if were to learn of the location of the triangle. Sure enough, we found a most intriguing page in his diary left on his desk in the library. Apparently Cheswick believes he has found the remains of a Dal'Riadan ruin. As his directions led us in the same direction as the area where I believe the Triangle to be, as well as the fabled Bandit King that Ben has been seeking out, we set out once again, and following Copperpot's directions we found the place with only a minimal of Ettin-like trouble.

And here I am! Viewing the Dal'Riadan ruin with my very own eyes! I am awed by the presence of the ruins themselves, and can only imagine the wonders that will soon unfold!

--Bran Harvish
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Excerpt from Ambrose's Journal
I cannot tell a lie
We have left the bloodclaw encampment and are on our way to finally reach colm! I can't wait to finally have our charter and be done with the trivialities of city living. The politics and grandstanding don't sit we'll with me, neither do the folks that tend to do it.

We're in colm, but we appear to have arrived at either a very opportune time or an I opportune one. The ambassadors to the high elves are pulling out of their embassy. It seems that this is but the first sign of colm and its surrounding area becoming a bit more...homogenous.

We have a meeting with the high warden to tell him of our exploits and finally have our charter. We decide to tell him that we have reason to believe that the canids were not acting alone. As I have dealt with many people of standing and have grown used to the subtle cues they give of when probing for information, I could tell that he was trustworthy. I decided to show him the note we found and feared that I may have made a grave mistake. Fortunately my assessment was correct, and not only that, he recognizes the handwriting!

Our next stop is the duke, without explanation we are whisked away to the duke's keep to show him what we have found. "My goodness! Could the duke be behind all this?" I think to myself. Fortunately it is much more banal than that. It turns out that this note seems to belong to the jarl of high gate, with whom relations have been bitter at best. With that we are rewarded with not only our charter, but the thanks of some of the most powerful men in the dalelands (and the waiving of our initial fees!)

We now set off to discover secrets of a millennium old in the ruins of the Dal’Riada, thanks to the direction of Cheswick Copperpot.

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An evil plan comes to light
We emerge from another battle a little weary, a little bruised, a bit richer, and potentially a great deal wiser. We looted the Canids hideout after wiping the Bloodclaw Clan from their dungeon and found many useful things: various potions, masterwork weapons, and the remaining goods stolen from Highgate. Most useful of all, a nearly burned away note from an unknown sender promising power to the Canids in exchange for some chaos.

Now we find ourselves asking, who would stand to gain from chaos in this territory? Some power behind a throne looking to gain supremacy? A fallen command hoping to grab power among confusion? Perhaps a band of miscreants (much like ourselves) trying to lift themselves up to a position of wealth? We plan to spend a few days in the Canid's lair to rest and heal, and wait for more wisdom to arise...

--Bran Harvish
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Ambrose's Journal Excerpt
By the skin of our teeth
This is the first time I've ever encountered a fight of this scale! We barely made it out of the Bloodclaw camp alive.

Before we even set foot inside the main structure we were assaulted by warriors of the tribe keeping watch. We were trying to be quick and deadly, but it's difficult when half the group keeps falling over them selves trying to get up to our destination. Fortunately we were able to hold of the attacking Caenids so that Desario, Kilja, and Sparrow could catch up. Once we arrived at the structure on top of the hill we were greeted by some toughs, and the apparent leader of this bloodclaw pack.

I see now why the elders cautioned me against summoning the spirits of the bat. I thought that I had a fair understanding of how they act, but after a swarm of bats bit me half to death as well as a good number of my allies, I realized that i need to be more cautious about summoning.

We made our way out of that scrap and pursued the chief to his lair, which was well hidden by a false wall behind a statue (did the Caenids build such a clever device?). He and what I could only assume were his generals were waiting for us, but didn't hear us come in. Ben tried coaxing them to engage us, but they were no fools. They instead used the time that we were unwilling to engage them to make themselves mightier. Fortunately I have a few ways of negating such actions.

These Caenids have either been looting for a while, don't know what they've got, or simply are terrifyingly efficient and well informed. We found some expertly crafted weapons and even a breast plate that is beyond what I have laid eyes on. The chief must not have been able to get at this, because even we had difficulty reaching this cache. He did however have notes on a strange artifact that the party had recovered earlier, that led both Ben and myself to have a vision of another piece similar to it cluthced by someone who was laid to rest with it. I really want to know what this is and why it was calling for us. Perhaps once we get this chater business taken care of the others will want to go to.
It appears that someone is in league with the bloodclaw. We found a note detailing the time and location of the supply caravan. We now have to find to who this is. Unfortunately our only lead is this note which tells us that there is a messenger and that we may have a handwriting sample.
Over the days that we were recuperating form that narrow victory we are trying to determine how long we should stay. Zadok wants to stay until anyone else comes along, Sparrow wants to leave immediately, and Bran and myself are in favor for staying at least a little while. It looks like we may be here for a while just discussing this...

Ok, we are leaving today! We've stayed for a few days, and nobody really knows what the right course of action is, but we have decided to be a bit more proactive about it. we're heading back to town to get our charter and perhaps investigate who has been working with the bloodclaw to create chaos.
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Poor Bran
As always, I am often reminded while traveling with this crew, the nights in old taverns, and star-filled skies above campfires, are greatly outweighed by the fights and travails that come with the territory of being outcast adventurers.

We reached Dunnitch with a minimum of trouble, espying only the fabled Whispering Cairn, on our route. But as we left the town and neared the forests below the Shield Mountains we met once again, another traveling pack of the Bloodclaw Canids. We wiped them out, as we always do, but I knew this wasn't the last of them we would see. My fears were soon made reality.

After a peaceful rest in the settlement where we delivered the goods and news to Captain Calder Nyle, we returned to the scene of the Canid attack from the previous day in order to find the refuge of the Bloodclaws. I spied a crumbling tower in the distance and Zadok and I scouted the perimeter to find the best possible point for the Ghost Wolves to break in an take them out. We were found by a scouts, but their teeth and claws were no match for Zadok's fists. Finally we reconvened, approached their keep from the back, climbed the hill on which their fort was built and began our attack.

These Canids are strong and driven by some evil force which makes them seem almost impossible to defeat. My sleight figure is no match for their attacks, and when 2 catch me alone while attempting to scout the area, I am forced to vanish in order to escape. I only hope Ambrose and Sparrow will help me while I hide here in the ruins watching the terror unfold...

--Bran Harvish
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Ambrose's Journal Excerpt
I am the Bat...
I certainly have my work cut out for me travelling with this group. It seems no sooner did we leave Colm, that we were attacked by a pack of Caenids. Foul little creatures they may be, these folk have no regard for them at all. We dispatched all of the hostiles, save for one of their leaders. We attempted to question it to find out more about the clan that seems to have gotten a bloodlust. I don't know what kind of bugs these people are used to dealing with, but they must love vinegar. Granted the Caenids attacked us unprovoked, but even after so handily defeating them, Desario was unforgiving. Ben and I had our misgivings about killing our captive, the others felt it better to put him out of his misery. Despite how I feel about the issue I was outnumbered and I'm not trusted enough to stir up internal conflict. I can only hope something will make them realize that they are acting almost as barbaric as the Caenids. Perhaps I am too judgemental. I have only been traveling with them for a few weeks. Most of the time being spent travelling. I may yet see their true character, or learn why they despise these pathetic creatures so. After reaching Fort Thorn, we met with a man of great influence. He apparently had no intention of ever receiving the supplies we brought back. Has was elated and paid us what he could for the supplies. The money was nice, put us up for the night, but the real treasure was making headway in obtaining the Charter. We offered to take care of the camp of Bloodclaw we... discovered. He seemed happy at this. When we arrived to the general location of the holdout, Bran scouted ahead and told us of the ruin of an old fort that the Caenids have taken up in. He discovered many points of entry and apparently he and Zadok have made the first steps toward routing them. Tonight we ambush them.
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