morning, Moonday the 11th of Neth, 4707 AR
With an eye for setting out towards Hook Mountain within a few hours, members of the Sihedron fanned out to tie up loose ends around the fort as swiftly as possible. Ton and Trena focused on the many many dead strewn about the fort; the strong monk focusing on the ogre and giant bodies and the half-elven ranger on the remains of their Black Arrow victims. Elshbeth set about cleaning the keep’s despoiled chapel of Erastil while Kivu endeavoured to brace the weakened supports holding up the keep’s roof; both as best they could.
Skull’s Crossing Dam
Meanwhile, Aubrey and Ainsel flew off together to the Skull’s Crossing dam. After checking the lowered water level in the reservoir and damage to the structure, the spryte reactivated the ancient structure’s mechanisms to re-close the dam’s floodgates. Aubrey then turned his attention to the ogre, troll and ettin bodies the Sihedron had stacked in the cavern off of the dam’s western arc; calling earth elementals as necessary to drawn the giant bodies down into the core of the mountainside. The pair then departed for Turtleback Ferry without delay.
Approaching the settlement from the air, the tiny pair could see that the controlled drainage of the Storval Deep reservoir had resulted in negligible disruption to the vulnerable lakeside town. Alighting near the town’s temple, Aubrey (in the guise of a gnome) and Ainsel had no difficulty in finding the priest-mayor Maelin Shreed. Reunited, they shared news of all that had transpired in the 24 hours since they’d last met. Elder Maelin related that he had, perhaps wisely, half of the town’s populace evacuate aboard one of the ferries the previous morning. Word of the danger had since been spread around the lake and the town was currently awaiting the ferry’s return. It seemed that, so far, Jakardros Sovark had yet to arrive in the settlement. In addition, the priest-mayor related his suspicions that an inbred family of half-ogres living in the Kreegwood, the Grauls, might somehow have been involved in the recent goings on. They ended their meeting with Maelin agreeing to try arranging for some townsfolk to go and secure the soon-to-be vacant fort and Aubrey handing over scores of swords, daggers and bows he’d collected in his stocking cap to help equip them.
Meanwhile, at the fort, the others had been hard at work. The empty field across the river was occupied by dozens of carefully arranged ogre and stone giant bodies. The floor of the hidden catacombs behind the keep had likewise been covered with the carefully collected remains of the fort’s slain guardians. On the keep’s second floor, most of the despoiled shrine’s gory and sacrilegious decorations had been cleared away while, down the hall, the ceiling had been braced with a few quickly erected wooden support beams. It was then that a tiny distressed spryte named Yap approached the group asking them for Aubrey.
It was only a short while thereafter that Aubrey and Ainsel returned to the fort and made the acquaintance of their distressed kith. Once the Sihedron was grouped together, Yap related his woeful tale. It seemed that Fort Rannick’s commander, Lamatar Bayden, had been the lover of Yap’s mistress, a nymph princess in the nearby Shimmerglens named Myrianna. The nymph, who’d been mystically bound by love to the Black Arrow commander, had sensed his death and had herself fallen into deep despair and unreasoning fury. So corrupted had she become by her grief that Whitewillows, her demesne within the Shimmerglens, had grown as dark and twisted as the nymph’s broken heart. Yap pleaded that the Sihedron accompany him back to Whitewillows immediately so that they might somehow soothe his bereft mystress’ heart. Initially reluctant to delay putting a stop to the hags’ torrential rains, the group eventually relented when Yap arranged for a group of large folletti (air elementals) to transport them swiftly to and from the Shimmerglens.
But first, the Sihedron marched their prisoners out to the field of bodies across the river so as to properly inter the fallen. With little fanfare Aubrey summoned a bevy of small earth elementals who dutifully sank all of the stacked bodies down into the bedrock underfoot. That done, they returned the prisoners to their cells (along with water and food for several days) and proceeded to the catacombs where the group repeated their magical interment ceremony for the recently martyred Black Arrows. The Sihedron then collected their things and flew away from the fort towards the Shimmerglens nestled in the embrace of the wind.
Whitewillows, the Shimmerglens
Traversing the Kreegwood and lake swiftly, the Sihedron and its folletti escort were soon approaching the Shimmerglens. Reluctant to betray the faerie realm’s secrets and fearful of the nymph’s overwhelming beauty, Aubrey asked his companions to don blindfolds for their final approach to Whitewillows. While flying high above the Sihedron witnessed the corruption that had befallen the normally verdant area; twisted trees rotted in the ink black waters while what little wildlife remained in the area seemed dead or diseased. A cold wind, creeping mists and unnatural shadows seemed to plague the fetid mire. The group even passed over top of an ancient sailing ship rising eerily up out of the murk.
Finally drawing close to the heart of Whitewillows, the wily spryte began reading love sonnets penned for her by Lamatar which the group had found in a hidden cache at the fort. Aubrey then begged the forlorn nymph to remember and embrace her love for the Black Arrows’ commander. Rising up to confront the group Myrianna (which Aubrey could now see had become a ghost of her former self) keened her grief. Luckily the mortals of the Sihedron were spared the nymph’s eerie beauty thanks to their blindfolds. Imploring her, Aubrey succeeded in finally drawing the fey spirit out of her unreasoning fury long enough for her to beg the Sihedron aid in finding and returning to her some part of Lamatar’s body so that she might find peace. After agreeing, the nymph entrusted the spryte with a mystical seed born of she and Lamatar’s shared love so that he might plant it in Whitewillows following their return. Entrusting Yap with the sheaf of love sonnets the Sihedron asked their air elemental bearers to next fly them to Hook Mountain.
Arriving shortly thereafter at the mountain, most of the group made camp for the night a safe distance away from the Kreeg clanhold while Aubrey and Ainsel left to reconnoitre the cave complex. Moving invisibly around the caverns, the pair noted that the entryway was framed by an enormous blue dragon’s ribcage and the petrified remains of a towering (40-ft tall) rune giant sentinel. Moving inside, they counted more than a half dozen ogre guardsmen, roughly a score of ogre smiths hard at work, the annis hag covey and Barl Breakbones himself enthroned alongside a pair of stone giant attendants. In addition, it appeared that the hags had raised Myrianna’s lover, Lamatar’s Bayden, as an undead abomination known as a wight. The spryte and folletti returned and reported their findings to their companions before settling down to rest the night.
Kreeg Clanhold, Hook Mountain
early morning, Toilday the 12th of Neth, 4707 AR
Girding themselves for battle, the Sihedron asked their folletti companions to carry them on a circuitous route so as to alight unseen in an unoccupied open-aired hall within the Kreeg clanhold. Once inside, the group made their way invisibly and silently, thanks to the spryte’s glamour, into the hag covey’s chamber. Discreetly surrounding the three hideous crones, the Sihedron attacked from surprise; swiftly slaying the hags and their wight guardian without a sound to alert the nearby guards.
Weaving shadow and light, the wily spryte next fashioned a glamourie of the bulkiest of the three hag sisters so that his companions and he might hide within it. Moving carefully, the group made their way past the watchful ogre guards (who afforded the false-hag a wide berth) as they climbed up to the gallery which served as both Barl Breakbones’ throne room as well as a shrine of Lamashtu. Stepping right up to the seated stone giant, the Sihedron once more attacked from surprise as Aubrey let the glamourie fade and mystically snuffed out all sound within the chamber. A brief though gruelling melee ensued which saw the Kreeg’s chief’s twin attendants hurled into a sinkhole to their doom and Barl Breakbones felled by a combination of sword, fist and arrows.