Now that the temple had been dealt with the group decided to head south and take care of the Giant problem… literally! As they made their way south they eventually came across what appeared to be a Hill Giant rampaging and thrashing through the forest. The trees around him lay crushed and broken.(Willow shed a single tear) as per Prince Brylynn Obarskyr “what doesn’t this creature shed a tear over”. Upon further observation the group realized the Giant was really a lush that was heavily intoxicated on the wine he had created from fermented berries within the region. Prince Brylynn Obarskyr decided to carefully approach the giant and attempt to negotiate, using Durzo as the translator. The giant noticed the groups presence and froze in place, his large crossed-eyes watching in confusion as the puny humanoids walked up to him nonchalantly. He bared no teeth at the adventurers only questions in his slurred giant tongue. Durzo did his best to translate and hold a comprehensible negotiation between the giant, whose name was Munguk, and the Prince (Not that either party had anything intelligent to say). The Prince, however, came to an agreement with the giant. In exchange for a steady monthly supply of alcohol, goat, and government cheese, Munguk would survey the southern parts of the kingdom and destroy any banditry or evil creatures he might come across. The group was apprehensive about striking a deal with the spastic drunken creature. The Prince quelled the apprehension of the group by responding “We can always kill him later, at least we might get some work out of him for now”. So wise were the words of the ruler that the group stood in awe with their mouths hanging open (O.o wtf? He’s a paladin?).
With disaster averted for the moment, the team decided to hunt for the large amount of magic users who had been kidnapped while the Hoax Temple of Mystra was still functioning. They followed a map given to them by a Temple guard who had headed the transit of the kidnapped mages. They followed the trail until they came upon an abandoned shrine that had two unknown occupants sheltering between its walls. Willow took the initiative and approached the two wayward travelers. It was a gnome and a human who claimed to be traders within the south-western regions of Shaar Haven. They were very welcoming of the group and offered many accommodations. The gnome told them of a recent act of banditry that had resulted in the confiscation of their entire stock of goods they normally kept stowed away in a tomb close by. The group offered to acquire the goods and return them to the two merchants.
The vanguard made their way to the tomb and easily dispatched the few bandits that had took hold of the cryptic warehouse. As they rummaged through the goods, it became very apparent that the two traders may be more than they are letting on. The group returned with the goods only to find that the pretend traders had packed up in due haste and ran off. They could only conjecture what the two really were, but it was irrelevant to the task at hand and the goods would be confiscated and utilized until further notice.
Continuing on, the vanguards entered swampy terrain that held an eerie presence about it. They immediately came to a halt when they approached a dead log that was ornately decorated with bones and nomadic jewelry (Willow shed a single tear). It wasn’t long before they came across the gruesome artists that had created the monument. It was a tribe of Lizardfolk who had made their home in the swamp. Again, the Prince wished to practice diplomacy with the inherently evil creatures. Yet again he succeeded in a temporary truce since the Lizardfolk have been plagued as well by the followers of Shar that had been transporting the magic users to a nearby fort. They led the Steel Vanguard to the fort, but did not wish to get anywhere near the vile place.
Rikimaru approached silently and scaled the walls of the fort as the Prince and the rest of the group made their presence known at the front gate. The guards were apparently not in the mood for entertaining guests, because they soon locked the gates and readied their bows on the group. The Prince and Arahntu grabbed hold of the first drop gate and lifted it open with sheer strength. The team rolled underneath and their two beefy compadres soon tumbled under as well. Now there stood a second gate in their way as they while they were trapped within a corridor also known as “the kill box”. Archers fired arrows through slits in the walls of the corridor while the rest of the guards converged on the second gate. For some reason or another, the two beefy vanguard members could not muster up the strength a second time to lift the consequent gate and the group had to bide their time while they attempted again.
As they struggled within the kill box, dodging arrows and taking fireballs, most of the group contemplated their decisions in life up until now. Meanwhile, Rikimaru began to make his way to the gate lever to free his allies from certain doom. The gate itself soon became tattered from the onslaught of magic damage from the enemies. The Prince realized this and mustered his the strength to destroy the gate with his might sword.The group then spread out and tore down the enemies who were overwhelmed by the sheer strength of the Uncaged Steel Vanguard!!!
The group then pushed their way into the inner halls of the fort and found an unusual sight. Within the center of a large room presided an orb of darkness that spread dancing tentacles to all the corners of the room. Two enemies stood before them. A pale looking sorcerer type who seemed to be bathed in the shadows and a humanoid who possessed scales and appeared to be kin to a dragon. Willow lead the charge into the room and lunged at the sorcerer, the rest of the group tread a little more wisely around the shadowy tentacles and made their way to the enemies. The first to succumb to the vanguard’s power was the sorcerer. Once he had been dispatched, Willow recklessly charged the dragon-kin and happened to pass through the shadow orb in the room. The young dryad vanished within the dark veil. The Dragon-kin chuckled as the dryad disappeared. The group dispatched the enemy in due haste in order to assess what had happened.
Meanwhile, Willow realized that although she appeared to be in the same room things were very much different. Her enemies and allies had disappeared and the room was now coated in almost a grey veil. The few lights that flickered in the room seemed to be smothered by the darkness. The doors they had once entered from was replaced by large iron doors that were closed shut. She realized she wasn’t in Shaar Haven anymore and decided to turn around. Thankfully, in the center of this room, presided a bright white orb thats texture seemed to mirror the shadowy orb she had just passed through. She passed through it once more and found herself back in the same room, but now surrounded by her group of allies and the corpses of the fallen foes. She was grateful and elaborated to the group what she had saw.
The group did not wish to believe that a portal existed in their own land that led to another palne of existence. A plane engulfed in shadows and possible evils. They were uncertain how to respond, most wished to close the gate at the cost of the mages whom have already been led into the dark realm. Whatever may happen, one thing is for certain. This matter needed to be handled now, for if this rift were to remain who knows what other atrocities might befall the newly found kingdom of Shaar Haven. The sound, the light, the very air in the room seemed to dissipate under the heavy tension in the room. They all knew the next action they must take.