The Vanguard

Into the Nyranean Swamps
20th Eagle - 26th Eagle, 3399cy

Waking on the morning of the 20th, the party split, with Vaenaz and Ordel travelling east along the road towards Kerellion, and with the rest of the party travelling south through the woods, avoiding the town entirely and hoping to meet up on the road south.
Vaenaz and Adric walked a day and a half before coming upon Kerellion, which they discovered had been heavily fortified, with a stockade built from all the lumber within a half-mile of the town and a deep ditch. Skirting the fortifications to the south, they assumed a disguise and entered the town under the pretense of meeting with the Mogogue family wizard living in the fort. Vaenaz pulled Ordel into a cellar where he crafted some subtle differences to make them look more harmless, and then they went above ground, where Vaenaz left a small chest with a lamp and oil outside the inn, revealed to be the headquarters of the commander Ortanien.
Vaenaz and Ordel then went to the Mogogue wizard’s house, where they made their way inside against his will, and where Vaenaz was recognized by the wizard who was revealed to be named Briseis, a low-level member of the family.
Vaenaz negotiated with Briseis and seemingly convinced him to defect, bringing all the Mogogue wizards across Derendir to the Black Roost Fortress to protect the queen, if she is there. Briseis seemed to be interested, but informed them that he’d have to consult the family first. Satisfied, Vaenaz grabbed his chest from the inn and left the town, meeting up with the group a day and a half south of Kerellion.
Together, the party continued south before turning off the road to the southwest and encountering the edges of the Nyranean Swamps. Placing all their valuable stuff into Brillon’s waterproof Bag of Holding, they crossed the northern branch of the Sorel River and entered the dismal swamp. They travelled inland for hours before coming upon an open lake, where a spell cast by Voltair briefly revealed the face of a woman beneath the surface.
As they approached, she rose out, looking like a dryad, and told them she was a fey who lived in the area. A quick Divine Sense proved she was lying, and after getting netted by Vaenaz, she admitted that she was an undead fey who had been killed by two Onyx Eye monks, who she then killed. She informed the party that she could only be put to rest if they came down to the lake floor and brought up her body.
Voltair, with his cloak, volunteered, diving into the water and following her deep into the lake. At the bottom, she turned, and attacked Voltair, which he managed to break free of, rocketing back to the surface to warn the party of her treachery. With the assistance of some sharks summoned by Samuel, the party defeated her, and found the Onyx Monks beneath the surface with many other corpses, from which they got two rubies, forty-one gold, and two Onyx robes which Samuel repaired.
Continuing into the swamp for what seemed like days, the party was confronted with a tower on a distant hill, and the sudden approach of two smaller girls. Speaking in unison, they introduced themselves as Sarah and Mary, and invited the party to join their mother for dinner in the tower. After extracting promises of safety, the party went up to the tower, and Vaenaz slipped off to watch from a distance. Inside, the party was introduced to the hag Mother Agatha, who controls the inner swamp.
Voltair negotiated with Mother Agatha, and ended up exchanging the location of Nessarem and safe passage from her in return for the killing of her swamp rival, the black dragon Kurilgund. The deal was sealed with a kiss and blood, and the party settled in around the tower for sleep, planning a trip to the dragon’s lair in the west the next day….

1025xp per character

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The Party Embarks
14th Eagle - 19th Eagle, 3399cy

Defeating the wild hydra with some difficulty, the party, now thoroughly exhausted, straggled back to the Fernriver Inn and collapsed into their beds, with Voltair locking his door and moving away from the group. That night, Voltair had incredible vivid dreams of a great elf lord and his mounted entourage riding through a barren Derendir, with trees sprouting from their hooves, and a vision of them riding through a great swamp with a storm thrashing the trees overhead.
The next morning, the party awoke, and all but Voltair went downstairs to get breakfast, only to find the bar packed with patrons, who applauded their arrival. They discovered, while getting their meal, that many people wanted to talk with them. Some, such as Bariel or Thelmona, worried about practical matters for the town, the installation of a new elder, or the repair of Roc’s Heights. However, a young elf named Elion seemed to be a massive fan of Samuel and hung around him, having traveled far, and a halfling named Argust also watched with some interest. Voltair called everyone outside, and successfully got them away from the crowd (having fallen out his window trying a stealthy escape) and they planned their next steps in the alley outside. Meanwhile, Vaenaz began searching the village for any young proteges who he could recruit as a fellow rogue and apprentice.
The party decided that they would camp outside the city for a couple days while information was gathered and they decided what to do, and Brillon, Voltair, Ancathar and Adric departed and made camp a mile out. Vaenaz found a youth, Ordel, and gave him enough money to amply support his farm while he was out, and brought him along, while Samuel once again consulted with Thelmona on the issues facing the town, deciding that she would cover the picking of a new elder. Samuel also swung by his childhood home, cleaning it up and gathering a box of his personal items, which he gave to Sorus to distribute to those who needed it in the town. The house itself would be used as housing for refugees and resistance members who came to town.
Vaenaz also befriended Argust, though in the tavern the next day, they discovered Argust spying on them from outside, just as Voltair arrived. Catching him in an alleyway, they intimidated him into revealing that he was a spy of Ortanien, and dragged him to Samuel’s house for further interrogation. They extracted a variety of useful information about the Eye, the organization, and their current activities, before distributing that information among the members so that if any member was killed or captured by the Eye, the information would lead back to Argust. Humbled, Argust was forced to follow them back to the woods camp, knowing that his ticket to life lay with the party’s survival.
Once out in the woods, the entire group decided that they should pursue Voltair’s visions, thinking them to be of the god Nessarem, who Adric wanted to talk with. They decided to head south to the Nyranean Swamps, their best guess for where he was, and decided to swing by Kerellion on the way, where they had heard Ortanien was taking up residence. It was decided that Vaenaz would infiltrate Kerellion to find a Mogogue House drow wizard who might be assisting the Eye, and to gather information, before rejoining the party for the journey into the swamp. They travelled three days towards Kerellion, being attacked only by a Girillon on the third night, and woke up prepared to split and investigate Kerellion.

1184xp per character

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The Oncoming Storm
12th Eagle - 14th Eagle, 3399cy

Rejoicing in their defeat of the green dragon and Onyx Eye representative Cylamaxon, the group (minus Vaenaz) drank heavily and danced with the residents of Goldenleaf at the Fernriver Inn, while Vaenaz waited in the woods at Erese Mendelen’s summoning circle for her hopeful return.
It was not long that he waited before Erese arrived, berating him for his involvement in the dragon’s fall and informing him that while she could hide his direct involvement, the Eye certainly knew that he hadn’t stopped the Vanguard from killing the Watcher in the North. Vaenaz, in return, informed her in a roundabout way of his intentions to destroy the Eye, and Erese left with a warning that toying with the Eye was a grave mistake, and the useful pieces of information that a new monk Watcher, Ortanien, was on his way to replace Cylamaxon, and that the Eye had placed a new spy to watch Vaenaz’s back. She also asked Vaenaz for a single favor – to protect her brother, hopefully by dissuading him from her tracks.
Meanwhile, at the inn, the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of a slightly drunk Ancathar, who brandished his gun and demanded to know the location of his sister. Calmed down by the party, he was finally subdued by Vaenaz’s promise to assist him in locating and protecting his sister, and joined the group to assist in the search.
Now paranoid with the knowledge that a spy might be watching them, the group planned a strategy to swap the appearances of Adric and Vaenaz, to set up a trap for the spy. Meanwhile, Samuel traveled north to his old hermitage, meditating on the cliffs, where he was briefly disturbed by a grey flash of cloak, which he investigated, finding nothing.
Vaenaz expertly made up Adric in makeup and himself and effectively made them totally swap appearances, causing some issues in recognition with Voltair, Brillon, and Ancathar. Adric went to a nearby pond to fish as Vaenaz, while Vaenaz silently tailed him, and Voltair distracted Brillon and Ancathar.
Vaenaz, circling Adric, soon found the spy, a Sea Elf in a Cloak of Elvenkind, who he ambushed and threatened, extracting a promise to leave them alone and provide information in return for his life and fake information to feed the Eye. Releasing the spy, Vaenaz tackled Adric into the water, and Adric absconded with Vaenaz’s clothes (though, he eventually got a spare pair from Voltair that saved the day).
Returning to the inn, the group made the decision to quietly go undercover at the village for a few days and await the return of Ortanien. Vaenaz made second contact with Erese, who filled him in on more information, that Ortanien was coming with a full martial force, and that the supervisor of the head of the Eye (mysteriously overseas) was becoming unhappy with the group, and making his displeasure known through his dwarvish assistant. She also let slip that Baraghost was a member of the Eye interested in taking out the party, who he felt had tricked him, and that the Eye knew nothing about the whereabouts of the Queen. With this information, the party prepared to wait the next days out til Ortanien arrived.
That night, Voltair went to the woods to pray, and received visions from Barvandor informing him of a lack of balance in Derendir between chaos and the law – the Eye’s rise had restricted the natural chaos too much. He went deep into the woods, seeking a wild beast, and while blindfolded came upon a hydra. The hydra attacked, and Voltair came very close to death, only being rescued by his steed, as the nearby party members rushed to his aid, with both Vaenaz and Ancathar almost falling to the blows of the beast. With the hydra in hot pursuit, the party set off fleeing through the forest, trusting Voltair, who hopes to lure it farther south….

700xp per character

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The Liberation of Goldenleaf
11th Eagle - 12th Eagle, 3399cy

Having arrived in Samuel’s hometown of Goldenleaf, and discovering the heads of his parents mounted on pikes outside the main entrance, the party moved quickly inside the city, Samuel headed straight for the center of town. Once in town, Samuel and Voltaire headed straight for the hut of the village elder, seeking answers, while Vaenaz, Adric, and Brillon headed to the local tavern for information and drinks.

Samuel broke down the hut’s door in his fury, surprising Elder Orasym, who begged the adventurers to spare his life and listen to his story. Calming Samuel down, he revealed that the Onyx Eye had come with an ultimatum to Goldenleaf: Kill the Orleana family and the Giriel family, and have protection from the Eye, or face destruction at the hand of their agent, the mysterious Cyla. In their fear for their lives, the villagers had chosen the Eye. Furious, Samuel and Voltair left the hut, only to encounter several winged kobolds, henchmen of Cyla, spying on the conversation. In a fierce battle, Samuel summoned a pair of eagles who killed the kobolds, and then sent them on patrol, where they weeded out more kobolds and spies in the region. This open demonstration of strength caught the eye of the townsfolk, including the blacksmith Giron Beluil, who spoke to them of resistance against the Eye in the town and offered his home as refuge.

At the same time, Vaenaz, Adric, and Brillon were in the midst of a drinking contest at the Fernriver Inn, where all of them became rather incapacitated under the watchful eye of the barkeep Sorus Giriel. Voltair, Samuel, and Giron burst in to find them passed out, and after reviving them and curing their drunkenness with some well-placed spells, the party discussed their next move. They decided to head north to inspect the old Druid’s lodge for clues, where they found the reclusive former head Druid, Thelmona Virowyne, living in the middle of the great abandoned halls. After confirming the stories of the elder with her, and finding out the hiding place of the Eye’s representative Cyla in the west, the party split, with Voltair heading back into the village to spend the night with Giron at his forge, and the rest of the party heading north to Samuel’s old hermitage on the edge of the desert.

Early the next morning, as the party was still asleep, Vaenaz crept off to scout the nearby area. While out, he caught sight of the ranger Erese Mendelen, who had been spying on the party, and followed her back to her teleportation circle in the forest, watching her depart. He rejoined the party, as did Voltair (summoned by Reynard), and they set off west to confront Cyla in his lair.

Vaenaz moved back, scouting around the party to make sure they weren’t still being followed, and the group soon came upon a thick twisted thicket of thorns, which they maneuvered through deeper into Cyla’s territory, as strange acrid mists and green light filtered in among them. As they finally made it into the center, a beautiful grove with a lovely lake, they were set upon by Cyla, revealed to be the green dragon Cylamaxon, who revealed to them that Vaenaz had made deals with the Eye.

Vaenaz sat silently, hidden, at the edge of the clearing, watching as the dragon attacked the party, before casting a spell on the dragon to illuminate it with purple light, showing the group his allegiances and making it far easier for them to target the beast. Samuel summoned a pack of panthers, who climbed up the tall trees and through great leaps and claws brought the dragon down to the earth, where the party set on it. Cylamaxon managed to extricate himself from the pack and flee up to the heights of the mist, only to be brought down by a couple well-placed arrows by Adric. With the dragon dead, the party harvested the scales and took off the head, stopping to loot the dragon’s horde in the shallow lake, taking several powerful weapons from it.

With the dragon slain, the surrounding lair began to recede, and the party carried the head back into the village of Goldenleaf, mounting it on the great pikes from out front and declaring the end of the Eye’s reign to the townsfolk, who cheered the adventurers. The group headed to the Fernriver Inn for drinks and celebration, except for Vaenaz, who headed back to the teleportation circle which Erese had vanished from, hoping to catch her when she returned….

2110xp per character

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The Tripartite Heist
24 Bear - 29 Bear, 3399cy

Rested and joined by their companion Adric, the party prepared their plans to attack the stronghold of the Mogogue family, poring over the scrolls and books the Aresne house had on hand. Adric and Samuel split to travel to the Shattered Skull Inn, to get some local information, while Voltair, Vaenaz, and Brillon headed to Zenvenesne’s market district to see if they could purchase some supplies.

In the market, the group saw a drow merchant hastily pull his cart into position, and went to see what he had for sale. Finding out his name was Eranz, they perused his small collection of potions and items, with Brillon purchasing a magical scimitar off of him, as well as making a purchase in another vendor that he kept secret from the party. Voltair purchased some daggers to keep as ranged weapons, and that group returned to the Aresne manor.

Meanwhile, Samuel and Adric purchased drinks and quizzed the bartender, who was happy to direct them towards a drunken Mogogue apprentice, who happily informed on the fortress and the layout as the pair of adventurers played the part of the Underdark tourists. After learning some more details about their target, they retreated back to Blackseek Rock for final preparations.

Early the next morning they set out after informing Saevas of their plans and asking her to move troops to the Acid Caves, the stronghold of the Selzarra house, allies of the Aresne family. This would act as a distraction for a large body of Mogogue troops they knew was moving out of the fortress, and allow the party to have the slightest chance of actually entering the stronghold.

The travel started poorly, with the group encountering a floating beholder zombie in the tunnels, moving despondently along the road. After Voltair finished the beholder off without too much trouble, the party managed to make good time and rested in a room full of large mushrooms.

Their sleep was broken in the night by the sound of marching, and the entire group fled to a small but deep pond in the room and hid, passing the Cloak of the Manta Ray back and forth to conserve oxygen. Samuel turned into a fish and discovered that they were being passed by the large Mogogue army, which failed to notice their hiding. Sneaking out, they continued onward to the Tripartite Fortress.

Entering the cavern, they were awed by the sheer unearthly beauty, striking Adric with a temporary spot of madness. After they had adjusted to it, Vaenaz donned his disguise of the captured Mogogue drow and strode up to the gates, explaining the party as his guests eager for a quick tour of the stronghold.

Convincing the guard handily, they proceeded to walk straight through the front doors, Vaenaz giving a fake tour while they scoped out the apprentice wing and tried to figure out the fastest way to the treasury. A scouting attempt up the stairs almost led to discovery by a class of adept wizards, but after they cleared out the group managed to make their way up to the trapdoor into the top floor of the central tower.

Vaenaz checked carefully for traps, but just missed a magical wire, and an alarm was set out across the fortress. Quickly dashing up into the room, the bedroom of the Mogogue matriarch, the party closed the door and hid, Samuel’s magics (and turning into a mouse) helping the party remain hidden from inquisitive master sorcerers. After loudly looting and having another close call with the security, the party elected to pull a lever which brought down the ball-shaped treasury from the ceiling.

Outsmarting it in a battle of wits and riddles, the party managed to crack the safe and gather, into the new Bag of Holding Brillon had purchased the group, vast treasures of magic items and money, as well as many of the books and treasures around the matriarch’s room, including the powerful gem they were instructed to steal. With the fortress now on full alert, the group made their way back down the stairs and out the backdoor, finding themselves in the gardener’s shack in the midst of a full lockdown of the cavern.

Out of options, they desperately searched the gardener’s shack, eventually locating a trapdoor made by the gardener under the carpet. Fleeing in the secret tunnel, they made their way out, murdering the gardener, and hurried their way back to the city of Zenvenesne, collapsing back inside the walls of Blackseek Rock. Overjoyed by their successful heist of the tower, they were met by one of the Aresne sons, who informed them gloomily that the diversion force had been caught and utterly destroyed by the Mogogue forces, Saevas included….

1415xp per character

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Spars, Spies, and Spas
18th Bear - 24th Bear, 3399cy

The party, resting in Sorvanden at the Dancing Demon after their trek to the abandoned wood elven palace of the Majerrat, convened a council to decide on their next course of action. Each member was keenly interested in following their personal prophecies related to them by the wood elven ghosts, but through careful deliberation it was decided to return to the drow city of Zenvenesne in the Underdark to discover what trouble Vaenaz’s family was in, as warned by the spirits.

The party therefore set off south, travelling for two days to the Koldenhouse Inn without any troubles on the road, through heavy rain, before arriving at the magical tavern. Deciding to make a triumphant return to the fight pits, the majority of the group descended into the basement, while the less interested Vaenaz stayed in the inn proper to see if he couldn’t make some money off the inebriated patrons.

In the fight pits, Voltair entered the ring against that night’s reigning champion, the half-orcish bouncer Gurok. The fight was long and brutal, with both Voltair and Gurok reduced to bloody wrecks by the end, but Voltair managed to just pull out the upper hand, knocking Gurok unconscious and sparing his life, before taking him out of the ring and healing him, making a friend in the process. Samuel made some bets with inebriated audience members, making a small amount of money, while Brillon sat enraptured by the spectacle.

That fight was followed up by Samuel himself, who was pitted against a cleric of Palvedd. Less than thirty seconds later, the cleric was on the sand floor unconscious, as Samuel pulled his body out and brought him up to full health, a gesture which was received with some suspicion by the cleric.

Meanwhile, Vaenaz had engaged a gnomish warlock in a rather intense board game, which he learned quickly and turned the tables to defeat the gnome and win himself a small stack of coins, which was promptly spent on drinks for the whole tavern. Cheered by the various patrons, Vaenaz went downstairs, where he threw on a quick disguise of an old and wizened elf to attempt to stack bets against him in the ring.

Both Voltair and Samuel got in, taking some money from Vaenaz and making bets with a hearty-looking dwarf and a disgruntled human noble with high stakes, while Vaenaz entered and was pitted against a giant wild boar. With some acrobatics and show, Vaenaz outmaneuvered and killed the boar, casting off his disguise and winning the party some sizable cash. However, this hustling did not go off well without the dwarf and noble noticing the hustle, and they were seen in the corner talking with a good-looking tiefling. The tiefling was then approached by Vaenaz, and introduced himself as Agile Maltoldar, giving veiled threats against the Vanguard’s continued operations in the tavern before leaving.

Set on edge by Agile’s threats, the party spent the night in a single room, with a trap set by the window. This proved to be a good move, as the trap caught an ettercap assassin who entered their room near the stroke of midnight, which the party killed before resting for the remainder of the night.

The next morning the party set off south again, spending the next three days on the road to the Elanna Cave, the nearest surface entrance to the Underdark near Zenvenesne. Sleeping one night in the cave, they traveled down into the passages, setting off on a one-day trek to the drow capital. However, they were warned by the telepathic stone by Vaenaz’s sister Saevas that the drow house war between Mogogue and Aresne had escalated, and they were in danger of attack.

This warning was followed only a few hours later by an ambush, as drow hidden on ledges on either side of the underground roadway attempted to surprise the party. Thanks to the keen ears of Samuel and Voltair, the party was able to fight off the first attack, and even kill an Intellect Devourer that the Mogogue raiding party had brought along. However, during the battle, both Voltair and Brillon fell unconscious due to poisoned darts, forcing a short rest after the party captured one of the Mogogue apprentices.

After a short rest and interrogating their captive, the party continued on to Zenvenesne, where they reached Blackseek Rock, the Aresne family stronghold, and met with Saevas. The fortress was near-empty, and they discovered that nearly half the Aresne family had been slain in the house war in the three weeks that the group had been gone from the Underdark, leaving the family in dire straits.

Saevas therefore requested a return of the favor she had granted the party by saving Adric, requesting that the party made a last-ditch effort to infiltrate the Mogogue stronghold of The Tripartite Fortress and steal a powerful gem from their treasury, a feat which had already been attempted and failed by other family members. Vaenaz negotiated the party’s help on the task in return for another favor owed by Saevas, which the desperate matriarch gladly took.

With their next mission looking near-impossible, the party settled down for an evening in the fortress of research on the Mogogue stronghold and a relaxing mud bath before they would proceed to their heist in the morning…

412xp per character

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