RosterAs the arcane circle sputters and cracks with energy, the fight continues. Berend engages Irontooth while Alarik ducks and weaves through the fight, trying his best to set up good opportunities to make his presence felt. Elumai's followers continue to hack at the glassy runes, but their efforts turn out to be in vain...
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 1
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 1
Alarik - Dwarven Rogue 1
Krakd - Dragonborn Cleric 1 (DMPC)
With a massive explosion of energy, a tiny pinprick of bright appears in the heart of the circle. Three white rubbery tentacles lash outward, blindly searching for prey, and the assembled throng - friend and foe alike - scramble to get out of their way, shifting the entire fight closer to the wagon and the waterfall. The melee continues, Elumai sending bolt after bolt of energy into Irontooth as Berend holds his attention and Alarik and Krakd try to make an impression. Realising that they can't dispose of enough of their enemies before they themselves are cut down, all of the party's efforts close in on the hobgoblin, everyone hacking and blasting away at the powerful creature in the desperate hope that his death will rout the remaining troops.
Still, the fight stands on a knife-edge. Blind terror at whatever is trying to break free of the portal causes Irontooth's warpriest to disengage and flee back into his lair -- a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, perhaps. Fearing that he might have got involved with something a little more dangerous than he expected, the remaining hobgoblin also flees, the words, "...the Bloodreavers aren't paying me enough for this..." left in his wake.
Just as the group starts to make an impression on Irontooth, his muscles ripple and he explodes with potent rage, killing Krakd with his next stroke. Alarik falls under the blades of the kobolds, and soon Berend is also laid low by the formidable strength of the hobgoblin. Only Elumai remains, gambling that her Magic Missile will be enough to kill the mortally wounded foe, but luck abandons her once again and even though her attack hits home, it isn't enough to dispatch the creature and she is cut down by a single sweep of his axe. The remaining forces disperse, leaving only the battered corpses of the group on the battlefield... or so they think.
Berend stirs. Teetering on the very edge of death, the Gods see fit to intervene. His eyes flutter... he staggers to his feet. Grabbing a nearby weapon, he summons the last vestiges of his strength, and lies in wait for Irontooth's return... but throwing everything he has at the hobgoblin is still almost not enough, as the balance of fates, thrown spectacularly off kilter by his return from near-death, is cruelly re-established... His training, however, comes to the rescue, turning a miss into a glancing blow, and the fighter is left standing victorious over Irontooth's ruptured body.
"Like James Bond, but smaller, and with a beard..."Looting only a small scroll case and a key, Berend scoops up Elumai's lifeless body and retreats, his dismay at leaving the rest of his comrades tempered by the knowledge that neither of them wished to be brought back -- even if such a thing were possible -- in the event of their death.
Back at Winterhaven, Berend returns to a hero's welcome and a distraught Rond Kelkem, who can barely contain his grief at Elumai's death. At the manor, he discovers he's not the only visitor that lord Padraig is entertaining: a tall gentleman, dressed in robes of shimmering green, with a painted white face and long black hair, also greets them. Padraig defers -- much to his obvious chagrin -- to this other man, whom he introduces as Lord Riva, a representative of the Court of Cloaks, the most powerful arcane body in the land.
Riva listens attentively to Berend's tale, and much to everyone's surprise, offers to enact the necessary rituals to restore Elumai to life, ostensibly so that he can hear her perspective on the story. He adjourns to an upstairs room to perform the deed... and a few nervous hours later, the carpet worn thin by Rond's pacing, he returns, with the sorceress at his side, alive and well. The decision is made -- by Lord Riva, not Lord Padraig -- to raise a new, more powerful force the following day to clean out the kobold lair once and for all. Berend and Elumai are invited to spend the night at the manor, where Riva and Padraig talk deep into the night, often in raised voices. Berend, despite his efforts at subterfuge, is unable to hear anything of their discussion.
The following day a mix of guard, militia, and mercenaries gather at the town gate. Two newcomers, passing through Winterhaven before joining the expedition, stand out: Pennie Littlebrook, a perenially cheerful halfling in the garb of a paladin of Avandra, and Ryan of the Dale, a leather-clad human with a pair of twin battle-axes never far from his fingertips. The kobold lair turns out to be abandoned, although a secret treasure stash, stowed nearby, is uncovered by the eagle-eyed ranger. Inside, a suit of glittering -- and magical -- dwarven chainmail awaits as a reward for Berend's efforts the day before, as well as a few hundred gold pieces which are shared by Rond amongst the party members... Ryan's sleight of hand notwithstanding.
It's also at this point that the forgotten scroll tube is examined. The note inside, addressed to Irontooth by someone called 'Kalarel', talks of a spy in Winterhaven, and of a rift which will open in a few days granting Kalarel untold power from Lord Orcus himself...