Kingmaker

The Adventure Begins

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And so Baron Aldorn “Foesmasher” Thuragar sends out a decree to charter Heroes from across Faerun to explore his newly aquired lands of Shaar. To explore and map the untamed lands for the glory of Sespech.

The heroes met in the city of Ormpetarr, in Sespech. There they met one another and introduced themselves. They gathered at the Barons castle and met with his top advisor. In attendance were: Arahntu, Durzo, Willow, Hevis, Rikimaru and Kazuul. They were ushered into the Baron’s council room and met with him. He issued them an official Charter to carry forth and travel to the southern lands.

The group thought it wise to give a title to their newley chartered adventuring group and chose the name of The Steel Vanguard. Partially inspired by the Baron’s own old group the Band of Iron.

The party traveled for 6 days on the Golden Road and passed throught he city of Innarlith without problems. They crossed the Firesteap Mountain pass into the upper region of the Shaar to Olegs Trading Post.

Once there they met with Oleg Leveton and wife pregnant wife Svetlana Leveton. They heard of the troubles that had befallen Oleg and his trading post. Bandits have been making raids on poor Olegs stock of trade goods and return each month for “taxes”. Oleg stated that bandits were led the first time by a woman that carried two hand axes and her second in command was a crude hooded man named Happs Bydon and six or so bandits.

This information was given to them by Oleg as Svetlana served the party a hearty stew and warm bread. After much debating the party decided to ambush the bandits upon the bandits next visit. Which happened to be the very next day.

So at one hour after sunrise the bandits approached and entered into the trading post of Oleg. The group attacked when the first bandit dismounted. The battle unfolded quickly with Rikimarn leaping from fort wall to building roof, but tripping up and falling onto the ground behind the bandits. The bandits leader, Happs Bydon began launching arrows at the party. The Steel Vanguard finally over came the bandits and all but one bandit was slain. The last having been magically put to sleep and bound in rope. He was magically compulsed to give information and draw a map to the bandits local hideout.

He was then dispatched as per charter and dealing with bandits. The group then traveled out from the fort into the wild of the Shaar in search of the hideout. This is when they encountered an angered grizzley bear and were mauled.

They eventually took the bear down and skinned it for its fur and took its claws as trophies.

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Exploring the Wilds

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Exploring the Wilds

After recovering from the maul attack of the bear, Rikimaru found that his boot straps had been tied together. Some type of practical joke was being played on him. Willow found tracks, that of a grig and Kazuul sought out the fey creature to befriend it.

With no luck, the group chose to venture on to the Bandit’s Camp. They soon found its location with the highwaymen lying in wait. A battle ensued and the party overcame the bandits. They soon met up with the two-axed lady, Kressle,that Oleg had warned them about and fought her into submission.

With all the bandits being subdued, the last living bandit gave up and repented his ways under the guidance of Hevis. He told of his nickname Earwig and stated that he would help the party as best he could. He told of the true leader of the bandits in this area that goes by the name of the Staglord!

He could not give a detailed location to the Staglords whereabouts, but did manage to give some details on his operation.

Returning to the area where the bear was dispatched, they picked up the trail of the grig and follow the trail to its nest. There they met the grig Tyg-Titter-Tut and her friend Perlivash the fairy dragon. With the help of “gifts” of shiny objects and promise of some wine, the party gained some information about the general area and further information about some of the landmarks and highlights in the green belt.

The party then returned to Oleg’s trading post for rest and to resupply. There they encountered three guards sent to help with security of Olegs. Kesten Garess explained that the Baron had sent him and his two warriors to help guard the trading post. Kesten also brought with him a proclamation from the Baron, Quests1a

The next morning, the Steel Vanguards met a traveler, Jhod Kavken who is a priest out on a vision quest of sorts. He told of a possible lost temple somewhere in the green belt of Shaar, but guarded by a crazed bear.

Svetlana Leveton also spoke to the party of some special radishes that could be used in a soup, one that would help to calm Olegs nerves, since he was much stressed of late.

The adventuring group then journeyed and explored the area up to the radish patch, finding Kobolds had already collected many of the radishes (filling their bellies as well) and the kobolds took up arms against the invading party.

From there they chose to follow the kobolds tracks towards their lair. But before they completed the trail, they came across webbing that spanned a 400 feet patch of ground. It was the home of a giant trapdoor spider.

After slaying the monster the party searched its lair.

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Arrival of Royalty

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The The Steel Vanguard has come to know battle. As they killed off a large trapdoor spider they set out to explore the remaining eastern ridge of the greenbelt of Shaar. They came across and fought an Owlbear in the wilds as well as finding a tree that had been the hidding spot for one bandits treasure.

A day later as they traveled south they found a Kobold Mine. This mine had a sign hanging from it that read, “Oaktop Silver Mine”. Out in front they found a cage that held a small hideous creature called a Mite. There, the ninja spotted a kobold guard asleep on duty, but as he approached, it hand only been resting its eyes from the daylight and when it gazed upon him it yelled out in suprise! But it knew that its clan needed help from biggens and so he asked if the humans would help his clan track down their lost idol. It had been stolen from them by the Mites!

The kobold Nakpik asked if they’d meet with his cheif and he ran off to get him. Chief Sootscale came to see and talk to the group and behind him Tartuk the shaman of the clan came as well.

The group was told that the Mites laired north and so they set off in search of the Kobolds lost idol and found that a massive sandstorm apporached from the east. They made a mad dash across many miles and in doing so two members of the party became lost and left behind. Hevis, with Earwig riding with him and Kazuul all were caught in the massive strom of sand and acid.

Barely making it to Olegs Trading Post alive they shut themselves in until the storm had passed. Unfortunatly, they did not all survive. Poor Earwig had suffocated in the terrible brutal storm.

The Steel Vanguard had also met new charter members. His highness, one of the sons of Alusair Nacacia Obarskyr, Prince Brylynn Obarskyr and his court mage Lord Valis Loredamon had been holding up at Olegs as well. They introduced themselves and became familar with the groups investigations and explorations of the region. The Prince also brought with him his scribe and personal bodyguard Barrabbus an initiate to the Purple Dragon Knights. Another proclamation of the Baron’s was sent as well as a posting at Oleg’s board outside his Trading post was picked up.

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It was then that Hevis and Kazuul told the Steel vanguard that with regret and that they felt a loss in commradery and felt the need to move on and possibly set out to track down the Iron Wraith, one of the other chartered groups set out from Sespech.

All the while the dangers of the wilds still looms about the group as well as the Staglords bandits roaming the lands.

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Ko-bolds and Mites

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The Steel Vanguard arrived at the Old Sycamore, a hundred foot tall tree and found that the mites had inhabited it. They entered into a secret entrance and fought the clan.

The mites came at the group, one wave after another; however, they proved no match for the strength of The Steel Vanguard. As a last ditch effort, the mite leader unleashed a gigantic centipede. Durzo stood toe-to-tendril against the giant beast and mustered all of his might and magic into one deafening blow. The centipede’s head burst and his remains fell to the ground.

The mite leader, still un-phased by the obvious difference in strength, charged in upon a riding tick with the remainder of his clan. Willow quickly attempted to fire an arrow at the charging mite leader, but fumbled her bow and inadvertently injured her own eye in the process (…Dammit). The riding tick then grappled Lord Valis Loredamon and began sucking out his blood at a rapid pace. Getting the tick to release the helpless Lord proved difficult. It was becoming apparent that the blood loss was taking effect on Lord Valis Loredamon. Thankfully without a moment to spare, his valiant Prince Brylynn Obarskyr came to his rescue and dispatched the tick and his rider. His subject was safe and grateful for his Prince’s kindness (…Possible Love Connection :-P).

They found the kobolds statue and a scrap of paper that showed what the kobolds had gained in treasure, one being Svetlana’s wedding ring. They returned to the kobolds lair and made an agreement with the Chieftain to exchange the statue (therby freeing them of Tartuk’s curse) if they would agree to leave their lair and move east out of the Greenbelt. The chieftain reluctantly agreed on the condition that the group not only give the Kobolds the statue, but also slay the evil kobold shaman that had placed the cursed statue over their clan. The group agreed. Without hesitation they entered the evil shaman’s room and committed murder in the first degree. On a side note, it turns out the kobold shaman was really a poly-morphed suicidal gnome. The gnome wished to spend the last of his days torturing tribes of unintelligent kobolds with hoax curses and superstition (…what a Dick!).

With the kobold’s leaving and Svetlana’s ring found, the group plotted their next course of action. All the exploration that laid ahead and the tasks they had agreed upon will undoubtedly test these heroes even further. They left the abandoned kobold cave and resumed their quest. Not realizing the great evil waiting for them in the near future (Story Arc! Dun DUn DUN!!!!).

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Temples and Forts, OH MY!

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The group headed back to Oleg’s Outpost to gather more supplies and return the wedding ring to his wife Svetlana. The trader and his wife were ectastatic at the return of the ring and offered the group a line of credit for the trading post. The group gathered materials in anticipation of heading to the abandoned temple. They remembered Jhod Kavken’s earlier request to accompany them and informed the priest it was time to visit the forgotten temple.

The group wasted no time in heading straight for the location indicated on the map by the grig and faerie dragon they had met earlier. Upon arrival to the lost temple it became apparent there was an eerie presence to the once sacred reprieve. The columns and marble were covered in moss, the pristine fountain in front of the temple now filled with algae and bacteria. It was obvious this place had fallen out of divine favor and into the clutches of cursed fiends.

The Steel Vanguard readied themselves in anticipation of an upcoming fight. The clanging of unsheathed weapons and the casting of support magic was enough to draw the attention of a creature within the temple. A large bear stepped out of the temple and caught sight of the anxious adventurers. The bear charged towards the group and put up a strong fight. Unfortunately for the bear, he was unable to overcome the shear power of the Steel Vanguard’s numbers. It fell quickly, revealing its true form to be that of a cursed human. As the poor soul drew his last breath, the curse began to lift from the temple and the overgrowth began to recede from the temple yard. The balance was restored and it appeared the Deity of the temple, Chauntea, was pleased with the outcome. For when Willow decided to drink from the newly pristine fountain in the court yard, her eye was magically restored.

The group left Jhod Kavken to further assist in the restoration of the temple and set off to find the location of the Stag Lord. They hadn’t made it far before Rikimaru realized they were being followed by what appeared to be a small dragon. The group attempted to communicate with the unusual creature and ask for his aid; however, it appeared he was following them more out of curiousity rather than hopes of joining. Since, the small dragon was not forward with his birth name, Arahntu decided to coin him a name that would strike fear in even the boldest of Bug Bear. And that name was… Eggplant!

After some time the group came upon what appeared to be a hidden bandit fortress. The group found difficulty in deciding the approach they would take on the unwitting bandits. It was then that Eggplant decided to take the initiative and infiltrate the fortress for reconnaissance purposes. The plan worked well enough until he was spotted and decided to be a hero. Eggplant began dive bombing the watchtower guards in hopes of overcoming them with his narcoleptic poison. The fight caused enough of a stir that it was seen by the group who was waiting off in the distance. The group knew they had no choice but to spring into action for the sake of their new friend.

The Steel Vanguard slashed through not only bandits, but undead and beasts to get their trapped compadre. Before making it to the watch towers the group found themselves face-to-face with the Staglord. They could not allow this opportunity to pass and began to battle the heinous leader. All the while Eggplant continued to battle the guards within the watch towers. Eggplant, weary from the continuous fight, fumbled on one of his fly by attacks and inadvertently stabbed out his own eye with his stinger.(Familiar lol)

The battle within the fort lasted quite some time, but the group eventually slayed the evil Staglord. With the fall of the bandit leader, the bandit activity within the Shaar will most definitely decline. The group gathered the numerous treasures within the fort and set out to relay the good news to all who wish to hear it.

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The Right to Rule

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After the The Steel Vanguard vanquished the Staglord and his Bandits, a scribe from Baron Aldorn “Foesmasher” Thuragar came to Olegs to thank the Vanguard and issue a new charter to the group: 2nd Charter
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With this the Steel vanguard appoitned positions of Rule for the new Kingdom to come.

Arahntu is to be the High General and lead the kingdom’s armies and is a public hero.
Durzo is to be the Warden; and lead the kingdom;s defense and city guard.
Eggplant is to be the Royal Assassin; which can serve as a public executioner, a headsman, or a shadowy assassin.
Jhod Kavken is to be the High Priest and guide the kingdom’s religious needs and growth.
Illyn is to be the Grand Diplomat and oversee the international relations.
Oleg Leveton is to be the Treasurer;
Svetlana Leveton is to be the Counciler; Ensuring that the will of the citizenry is represented.
Rikimaru is to be the Spymaster; observes the kingdom’s underworld and criminal elements and spies on other kingdoms.
Willow is to be the Marshall and organize patrols and enforeces justice in the rural and wilderness regions.
Lord Valis Loredamon is to be the Magister; to guide the kingdom’s higher learning and magic.
and finally Prince Brylynn Obarskyr was named Ruler; the primary leader of the kingdom.

The group began renovations on the Stag Lord’s fort in order to make it the capital for their new nation. With roles established and construction underway, the group decided to explore the remaining unknown areas in their newly acquired kingdom.

They soon happened upon an unusual sight. At first glance it appeared to be nothing more than a pile of gathered rocks admist an open plain, but upon further investigation it was discovered to be a grave of a large creature. A few less superstitious members had decided to unearth the creature to figure out what exactly it was. No sooner had they removed but a few rocks when Arahntu caught a strong odor that resembled cat urine. It was now apparent that Wymics, half-human and half lion nomads, may have wondered within the new kingdom. It was a thought they wished not to humor, but one that would need to be addressed soon.

The group continued south into unexplored territory in hopes of finding these hybrid nomads and any other possibly hostile guests. The group soon came across a huge statue that had been erected in an open plain within the woods. It was a statue of the god Mask. A patron deity to Rogues and thieves. Obviously, the presence of this ominous statue and what it represents was less than desirable to the group. Rikimaru noticed the eyes of the statue gleam in the sunlight and decided to climb up to get a closer look. It was jewels embedded within the eye sockets. The curious ninja decided to take a dagger and pry out one of the jewels. The moment his dagger’s edge touched the eye socket, a dark shadow shot out across his arm and appeared to suck out his life force. Thankfully he survived the event; however, now the group was even more adamant about taking down the cursed statue. They decided to wait until morning so that the horses had rest and Rikimaru could recover. They receded to the cover of the trees near the statue and set up camp.

In the night, the group was attacked by a large shadow with bright red eyes. They instantly jumped into action and attacked the demon.Arahntu stumbled upon charging the creature and instantly stunned herself. Weapons had little affect on the creature, but that didn’t stop the group from continuing to fight. In the middle of the fray Rikimaru paused and told the group that if everyone leaves and doesn’t come back to the statue, the evil creature will go leave them be. They group asked how the ninja knew this to be true. He then stated that it was communicated to him by the beast. Most disregarded the lunatic rantings of the disheveled ninja. Willow ,who had already taken damage and couldn’t lay a scratch on the demon, conceded and stepped out from the fight. The dryad walked over to join Eggplant who had left the fight earlier to drag the stunned Arahntu to safety. The rest of the Steel vanguard eventually defeated the evil creature. The victory was bittersweet, since now the group worried as to why the creature was able to communicate through their ally.

The next morning the group decided to come back with more manpower to pull down the statue. When packing up camp, it was apparent to everyone that Rikimaru’s skin had become discolored and grey. Fearing that a curse may be taking hold of their far east brethren, they decided to take him to the Temple of Chauntea to be healed. Unfortunately, the divine pond was unable to cure his discoloration. They group was still worried, but Rikimaru claimed to be fine. Although still concerned, the group pressed on to discover more in the territory.

The soon came upon a sight that turned Willow‘s stomach. It was a once beautiful grove that had turned to swamp land. In the middle of this swamp lied a pristine unicorn carcass with it’s horn removed. [[:willow:]] shuttered to think what kind of monster committed this heinous act. The group pushed forward to learn more. It was then that they happened upon another grove. It belonged to a friendly dryad named Tessira, she explains that she has lived their in peace with her friend Falcor, a satyr. Although their peace had been recently broken by the arrival of a malicious scythe-tree who wished for nothing more than to feast on the flesh of they fey, dryads in particular. Willow inquired if the newly befriended fey knew anything about the unicorn not far from their grove. They did not have any knowledge of what occurred, but we’re certain that the corpse sounded too intact to be the work of the scythe-tree. Tessira was kind enough to point out the location of the scythe-tree on the map and the group set out the net morning to slay it. Willow, riddled with rage, lead the pack into the scythe-tree’s location. She wished for nothing more than to destroy this evil being, but she also wanted pry any information about the unicorn from the fiend.

Upon entering the wooded sanctum of the scythe-tree, it became aware of their presence. The scythe-tree was especially happy to see the dryad, it wasn’t very often his favorite snack came to him. Willow readied her axe and began to shout questions to the creature. Questions that fell upon deaf ears, for the scythe-tree began to move in for the kill. Willow attempted to stand her ground, but she took a thrashing from his large branches. In fear of getting eaten she stepped into an adjacent tree and teleported to another less than 30 ft behind the beast. The group fought strongly against the malevolent tree. Rikimaru repeatedly and viciously struck the enemy, all the while shadowy tentacles emenated from his flailing arms. However, the group brushed off the unusual shadows since the issue now was the scythe-tree. Willow attempted to shoot the tree with an arrow but could not penetrate the thick bark. Yte again she could not hurt the enemy. Her and Eggplant, who was also at a disadvantage in the fight, sat and watched as the group heroically dispatched the tree.

The Steel Vanguard stood victorious once again. Tessira and Falcor would now be safe. Yet, the group could not rejoice, for thoughts weighed heavy on each individual. Thoughts of their usefulness to the group, the possible curse afflicting their ally, and the kingdom they will have to shoulder to glory. They decided they we’re done exploring for the time being and would head back to the up-and-coming capital of their new nation.

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Fey in Strife

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A couple months has passed since the Steel Vanguard had destroyed the Scythe-tree. During that time the kingdom of Shaarhaven has been growing at a rapid pace. A trade route has been cleared from Oleg’s outpost and Irongate (The Capital City of Shaarhaven). A small town has formed on its own accord around Oleg’s outpost. Eggplant decided that his time amongst the humans was interesting, but was not his original intent when he set out on his adventure. He left the group to seek out his true goal in life…pottery. Though as always fate sees fit to bestow new ties in place of old ones. The Steel Vanguard acquired two new allies to assist in overseeing the kingdom. They are a married couple who are acquaintances of Tiressira and Falcor.

The husband, Orrin Silverthorn, was an elf that seemed very timid. A contrast to the normally boastful nature of elves. The wife was the real sight to behold. A fiery nymph named Myrine who held the normal physical traits of her majestic fey sisters and yet she wielded a large Axe and an even larger attitude. The group at first did not know what to think of the two, especially the battle ready fey. The two eventually won the trust of the group over the short period of time and even earned the Diplomancer title for the kingdom. Although, one is not certain if you find Myrine’s diplomacy through the tenderness of her words or the edge of her axe. Be that as it may, they found a place amongst the group and it soon came time to once again venture out into the uncharted territories of Shaar Haven. The Steel Vanguard decided it be best to leave a few members behind to monitor the kingdoms progress and address and incidents that may occur during the groups absence. The few who would remain were Prince Brylynn Obarskyr, Lord Valis Loredamon, and Durzo.

They first ventured down to the Temple of Chauntea to inform Jhod Kavken that he would be relieved as High Priest. It’s not that his service was incompetent, but rather that a majority of the Steel Vanguard worshipped Torim, so they saw it fit to place Illyn as High Priest (Freaking Politics). The demoted priest would be allowed to remain and rebuild the temple, for freedom of religion would still be first and foremost in this new nation.

The group left the temple and decided to explore some uncharted woodland not far from their location. It was there that an great ambush occurred. While traveling through the woods the Steel Vanguard was surrounded by a barrage of arrows. Thankfully most of the arrows missed, but then a group of bandits appeared from the darkness of the trees and enclosed around the group of heroes. Myrine immediately sprung into action and charged a bandit close by. The rest of the group followed suit, dismounting and joining in the frey. It was then they realized that amongst this group of bandits flew a Nixie. Although she would be a small opponent it was apparent, after the two simultaneous rays of energy, she would be a troublesome opponent. Arahntu chose to stay on her mount and swing at the bandits from above. On her first swing she loss balance on the horse and fell to the ground, instantly stunning herself. (Side Note: This seems to be a constant theme with Arahntu. The group is fairly certain she has a drinking problem, but when they approach her she attributes it to an inner ear infection…Denial)

Myrine’s husband, (What’s his face), ran to his wife’s side to assist her in battle. This left Illyn with only the prone/stunned Arahntu to protect him from two approaching bandits. The stalwart cleric held as best he could but was soon taken down by a magical ray from the Nixie. Willow stood a short distance between the trees from Illyn. She could hear the clanging of metal, the chanting of spells, and the bodies dropping to the ground. She was unable to draw a clear shot with her bow and was at a heavy disadvantage. She dropped her bow and pulled out her battle axe, it was time to prove her worth in a fight and if Myrine could wield and axe, so could she (granted a much smaller one).

Meanwhile, Myrine and her husband were still fighting against the same bandit. It was then they realized that this bandit was not only much stronger than the rest, but also well equipped to fight his most hated enemy…FEY! However, Myrine did not falter, her glistening beauty only matched by her unbridled rage in battle. This drew the attention of the Nixie, and it was then that Myrine began suffering heavy blows from the Nixie’s magical rays. Willow managed to cut down three enemies that stood in her way and found herself knelt over the unconscious body of Illyn. With no healing spells at her disposal she quickly grabbed a cure light wounds potion and jammed it down Illyn’s throat. He thankfully consumed the potion without drowning and was soon back on his feet.

The two stepped out into a small clearing where the remainder of the fight was going on. Arahntu finally had come to her feet and was now trying to swing at the small Nixie who was effortlessly dodging the weapon. Myrine had fallen as her husband attempted to finish the bandit they were fighting. Illyn channeled healing energy and brought his allies back in action. The couple finished the bandit as Arahntu and Willow encircled the Nixie. The nixie obviously felt backed in a corner and the claws came out…Literally! But that didn’t last long. It was then that Willow summoned the power of Chauntea (The Mad Black Woman) and with one powerful swing cut the nixie in half!

The group had definitely felt the effects of the two month down time and that battle did not go as smoothly as they had hoped. In the end, everyone managed to survive and perhaps they may have even found a new respect for each other’s capabilities(ooor they’ll still be jackasses! You Decide!).

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Mysterious Mystra Temple

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The two cities ( Irongate and Olegtown) of Shaarhaven grow each day, but not all citizens are happy with how the religious faiths are conducting themselves. Tunaster Dranik, a self proclaimed priest of “Mystra” has come to the court of Prince Brylynn Obarskyr astonished at the happenings at a newly raised temple of Mystra. Tunaster states that he entered the temple, jubilant and eager to see fellow clergy in this new city. Only to barely escape with his life, he states that upon his asking to enter into the church that the occupants turned hostile and began to chase him and even fired arrows at him.

He wished the Prince to have the temple investigated, perhaps by the city watch (the Ironguard) or by The Steel Vanguard itself. However, the Prince realized that any undue raid of the temple would cause a stir amongst his people. He decided it would be in everyone’s best interest to allow the Temple to explain its actions. He sent Illyn and Durzo to deliver a summons to the Temple leader, Lady Arthras. They gladly accepted the responsibility and made their way to the Temple.

Upon arriving, the two heroes were met with a surprising amount of guards that surrounded the Temple. Being magic users themselves, they thought it funny that a Temple, especially one with a magic oriented deity, would have employed so many heavily armed guards to patrol a sacred place of worship. They entered the temple and was greeted by a very lively cleric named Shan Thar. The duo explained to Shan Thar that they had a summons requesting Lady Arthras’ presence in front of the council at high noon tomorrow. Shan Thar requested to see the document; however, Durzo and Illyn were very reluctant to hand it to anyone other than Lady Arthras. When this was mentioned to Shan Thar, he apologized and relayed that Lady Arthas was regrettably busy at the moment. Durzo was taken back at how nonchalantly the cleric acted in the presence of the king’s messengers. He then made it very clear that they would not leave until they were able to hand the summons to Lady Arthras herself. Shan Thar wished to oblige them and told them there would be one way to meet Lady Arthras. The two would have to pay 25 gold each and commit themselves to a 3 day ritual to learn the secrets of Mystra. Only then would they have the opportunity to meet Lady Arthras. Shocked by the cleric’s outlandish request the two repeated themselves once more to Shan Thar and made it clear they wished to see the Lady and had no intention of participating in any ritual. The gracious yet stubborn cleric did not waver on his request and told them there might be a possibility of catching the Lady at that evenings service.

Unbeknownst to everyone, Orrin Silverthorn had followed the drow and cleric to the temple and was doing reconnaissance of the surrounding area. He wandered for quite some time until he came to a small house that was on the temple residence. He fiddled with the door and began to hear movement on the other side. He rushed to hide around the corner of the house. As he peered back he saw the head of a guard lean out of the open door. It was obvious that the house was merely guard quarters. Orrin noticed durzo and illyn leaving the temple with frustrated looks on their faces. He thought it best to return with the two and hear about what had happened inside the temple.

The Prince was surprised when he heard the story that was relayed by Durzo and illyn, not so much at the temple’s demeanor, but more at the fact that the two did not have enough foresight just to leave the summons there and settle the disrespect at the future council meeting with Lady Arthas. He then sent a young messenger boy to settle the simple task that two seasoned heroes were unable to do, deliver the damn summons. Arahntu caught wind of what had happened at the earlier summons delivery and decided she would return with the duo to that evening’s temple service. Orrin Silverthorn tagged along out of curiosity. Upon arriving they saw a large gathering of magic users within the temple. They all were there to lay witness to that evening’s service. One exceptionally lively participant in the service was a small gnome by the name of Kevrin the Sorcerer. Kevrin preached heavily the goodness of the almighty Mystra. Shan Thar recognized Durzo and illyn as they entered. The boisterous cleric was very happy to see the two had returned with more people to witness the greatness of Mystra. He then inquired if they had thought over his earlier offer for the three day ritual. They once again refused and stated they were only there to see Lady Arthras. Shan Thar regrettably informed them that the Lady was leading the final ceremony within the inner sanctum for there most recent graduates of the ritual. She would be unable to meet them at this time. The group was immediately frustrated at the cleric. It seemed he enjoyed to do nothing more than play them games them. It was then that Orrin’s curiosity got the best of him, he requested to participate in the ritual. Shan Thar was very pleased and immediately had Orrin follow him to be begin. The group a little surprised by his decision decided to return to the council and let him go through the ritual in order to find out more.

The next day Lady Arthras appeared in front of the council to relay her side of the story. She was accompanied by a dark figure named Starweaver Fembrys and both appeared in full plate armor before the council. When asked about the initial complaint from the cleric of Mystra they had run off, the Lady merely jested about the old cleric’s spryness and disregarded what had happened. She proved to offer nothing in the way of information, she mostly listened to the Prince and gave brief and vague responses to his questions. The prince allowed them to leave, but told the Lady that he wished to visit the Temple on the day of last day of Orrin Silverthorn’s three day ritual. She responded stating that him and his council would be more than welcome to visit and she looked forward to their presence.

In the meantime, a distraught traveler entered Iron Gate requesting an audience with the Marshall Willow (…Texas Ranger). The traveler spoke of a giant that was wreaking havoc in the south east portion of Shaar Haven. When Willow had him point it out on the map, she noted that it was in an unexplored portion of their kingdom that was separated by a river that branched across the land. She understood that the giant would need attention, but she also caught wind of the recent events with the temple. The possible issue on their doorstep took presidence over the problem to the south east. Willow did, however, request additional guards be added to the only bridge that crossed the river leading to the south east. She wished to be informed if the giant moves any further north into the populated portion of Shaar Haven.

It came time for the group to go to the temple. This time they all gathered except for Myrine, who had further diplomatic gatherings with the bordering kingdoms. Rikimaru had returned from a mission and was happy to take her place in assisting the group. They group entered the temple and was instantly greeted by Shan Thar. He began to give a tour of the temple; however, the group began to realize that he was avoiding the door that lead further into the temple. The prince asked why they we’re not being shown what was behind the large double doors, to which the cleric responded that entrance into the inner sanctum would only be allowed to those who participate in the ritual. He then offered for the group to participate in the three day ritual to gain access.

The Steel Vanguard was instantly appalled by the gull of this temple to deny access to the kingdom’s councilman and furthermore give an outlandish ultimatum to the leaders who don’t have the time to deal with a three day ritual. Willow instantly took up hostility with the salesman in cleric garments. She had bigger fish to fry, namely a giant, and didn’t have time for the little mind games he was playing. She walked up to the double doors and prepared to open it with some newly acquired skills. The guards around her and the bowman in the upper balcony immediately took note of the sacrilege she was about to commit, but before another thought could enter their head the Prince reminded them any obstruction they commit on the investigation would be found as treason. Willow found a magical trap on the locked double doors and reached for her tools to disarm it. Only to realize that she had forgot to acquire the tools for her new skills. This only added to the little dryad’s frustration. She immediately grabbed out her rapier and jammed it into the lock. The edge of the rapier broke off in the lock and the trap went off. A fiery pillar engulfed the woodland fey and nearly burnt her to a crisp; however, the dryad had developed enough endurance to withstand such a heavy spell. The cleric of Mystra offered healing, but Willow refused his assistance. At that moment the ceremony inside finished and Orrin was to exit with the rest of the disciples. After a small struggle of opening the jammed door, Orrin exited appearing to be his normal self. The group was glad to have one of their own back and decided they had committed enough property damage for one day. They left the temple and decided to take care of the giant in the morning.

The next morning Orrin Silverthorn had disappeared. They could only surmise that he had returned to the temple during the night. They returned to the temple to look for their wayward friend. As they entered the temple they could feel a more ominous presence that had not been there before. Shan Thar stood there near the doors to the inner sanctum, this time there was no smile to be found on his face. His boisterous demeanor had left him after two days of harassment. He looked at the group and told them that in order to qualm their inquiries Lady Arthras has agreed to allow them entry into the inner sanctum. At that moment his facial features became veiled in darkness and the surrounding guards sprang in for a surprise attack. It was an ambush, one that was long overdue. Within the chaos the Steel Vanguard clashed with guards and followers alike. Amongst the frey was the giddy little gnome Kevrin who was know lost in a violent elemental rage. All enemies fell to the blades of the Vanguard and how sweet it was to destroy that nuisance of a cleric Shan Thar.

Willow disarmed and unlocked the double doors with her new tools. As she slowly pushed the door open, the group could only imagine what what ungodly horrors waited for them on the other side.

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Cleansing of the Temple

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The Steel Vanguard began their journey towards the inner sanctum of the hoax temple of Mystra. Willow stepped through the double doors first and into a large room. The room was decorated in reverance to the evil deity Shar. The room also contained a large podium and behind it stood a battle ready Starweaver Fembrys. Before anyone had time to react, two enemies stepped out of the shadows and flanked Willow, thankfully the sly fey was spry on her feet and managed to avoid any major damage. The group began to dispatch the enemies that continually kept stepping out of the shadows as they made their way to Fembrys at the podium. Just as the group had him surrounded, Fembrys raised an evil looking orb above his head and and released a great energy over the group. Some were able to resist the dark power of the orb; however, Durzo and Prince Brylynn Obarskyr were not so fortunate. The Prince and the Drow turned towards Rikimaru and began to swing at the unwitting ally. Willow attempted to shoot the orb out of Fembrys’ hand to no avail. She then decided to lay waste to him as fast as she could with her arrows. Calling upon the power of Chauntea (The Mad Black Woman) she took insightful shots against Fembrys. As Fembrys took heavy damage, Durzo immediately rushed over to stop Willow. He dealt a heavy blow to the dryad and she took a step back to regain her composure. She then took her last insightful shot on Fembrys and laid him out cold. As he hit the ground the orb rolled across the floor. Rikimaru drew his wakizashi and readied a strong blow to the orb, but Willow ran over and picked up the orb before he could. As she held the orb, the dark powers of Shar attempted to take over the curious fey; however, the deity Shar proved no match for the will power of Chauntea! She overcame the control of the evil orb and consequently it exploded from her sheer will power. Everyone thankfully survived the explosion; however, Willow came very close to joining her beloved Chauntea.

After healing up they entered the next room which was even larger than before. The room was elongated and the opposite end of where they entered was much darker. They entered calling out Orrin’s name which echoed off of the cold obsidian architecture. Instead of hearing their ally respond back to them, they were met by Lady Arthras charging out of the darkness. She ran up to Willow and swung at her with a mace. Thankfully the mace did not make contact, but more enemies stepped out of the darkness and flanked Willow. She kept their attention as the group surrounded the fiends and began disposing them one by one. As the weaponry clashed and echoed in the large hall a hissing noise in the dark went unnoticed. It wasn’t until Illyn turned around and saw black and blue striped snakes the size of humans, did the group realize they had a bit more fighting ahead of them. It took alot of effort to corner the wirey, slithering foes, but the group eventually managed to make strike the snakes down with the edge of their blades. When the serpents were slain the group searched the bodies as well as rooms that lined the long corridor. It appeared that Lady Arthras had the legendary mace, Thunderstrike,and the group was quite lucky she was unable to strike anyone with the powerful artifact. The group decided it would be best to allow Illyn to wield the mace, since it seems like he often finds himself in tight situations.

As the group split to search the remaining doorways in the great sanctum, the Prince and Riki decided to venture into the poorly lit end of the hall. They found what appeared to be shadows weaved into a curtain that hung between two intimidating obsidian statues. The Prince took his sword and attempted to to use his holy might to cut the void curtain down; however, it swung through the shadows leaving the curtain intact. It seemed though that the shadows stretched the length of the sword and touched the hand of the Prince. When this occurred, the skin of Prince Brylynn Obarskyr turned dark gray for a brief moment. The shadows then returned to the curtain and the Prince’s color returned to him. It was apparent that he might be changed in some way, but how is still yet to be seen. The only one to witness this occurrence is also the only other ally who had been touched by the darkness as well, Rikimaru. Neither man breathed a word of what happened when the Vangaurd regrouped in front of the shadow curtains. After investigating the curtains further, they noticed a pile of bones that lay behind the curtains as if many have tried to pass through the draped shadow, with less than successful outcomes. The group wished to no longer fool with the evil draperies and pressed on.

It was then that they came to a very sad sight. They walked up to a single statue, surrounded by torn scriptures and desecrated tomes. The lonely statue appeared to be a woman holding a single glimmering light in her palm. This was the true altar of Mystra defiled by the invading Shar clerics. As the group attempted to move pass the desecrated mess, the pile of scriptures gathered to form a golem creature and another Shar enemy stepped out of the darkness. Both enemies were disposed of with due haste. Before proceeding further, the Prince attempted to pay his respects to the statue of Mystra by touching it with “lay on hands”. When he did so, he was then engulfed for a brief moment in the light of Mystra. The group was not sure what to make of the light, but they didn’t have time to think about it. They proceeded down a stairwell to find Orrin.

As they passed through a dark corridor, they could hear the sounding of running water. When Riki approached the end of the corridor he saw what appeared to be small prison cells surrounding a stream that ran through the middle of the room. It seems that the temple built a connecting water channel that leads from underneath the building to the river. Three guards patrolled the prison chambers, one of which appeared to be leader. One of the cells housed Orrin who was feverishly searching his cell for someway to escape. Earlier he had snapped out of a stupor and just came to realize where he was. It may have been connected to the orb that was destroyed earlier, but he did not lay witness to the deed so was unable to make that connection. The group began sneaking up behind the guards. When Orrin saw the Vanguard he was ecstatic and began motioning to them to get him out. They were going too, but then an all out fight broke out when Riki attempted to sneak attack the leader. Durzo split off from the group and crossed a small bridge to fight a guard on the other side of the room. As he passed over the bridge, he could feel the floor shake and hear the cell bars rattle. Out of the water appeared this large aquatic abomination with multiple mouths and tentacles. Arahntu, Willow, and Illyn took it upon themselves to handle the beast as the others dealt with the guards. Meanwhile Orrin was still in the cell trying to find a way to get out. It finally occurred to him to try and open the door. As it turns out, apparently the guards felt no need to lock the cells for people who are under mind control. Orrin ran over to the prince’s side and tried to join the fray.

The water creature proved to be a handful for the three who were attempting to fight him. The creature managed to grab hold of Illyn with one of its tentacles and drag the cleric underwater. Durzo disposed of the guard and stepped up to the creature, attacking it with a shocking grasp. Unfortunately, electricity was effective on the creature, but also Illyn who was in the water with it. The prince saw the chaos that was ensuing and left the guard leader for Riki to restrain and interrogate. The prince struck the beast with a might blow and it perished. The group then grabbed Illyn out of the water. The heroes went back to the leader and questioned him about what was going on. All he knew was that he would hold initiates captive until he got eight of them. Then, he would gather them in a pontoon boat and send them down the river with a destination marked on the map. Willow had the guard draw her a map and then she transposed it onto her actual map of Shaar Haven.

It wasn’t over, but The Steel Vanguard felt it had done enough to avert the disaster for the moment. They would now need to address the rampaging giant, before they investigate what the Shar clerics were doing with the magic users. The group left the temple only to see that a crowd had gathered around the temple. They asked what had occurred and Arahntu told the crowd that there was evil clerics at play, but they have all been dealt with. Although Willow is a fan of honesty, she believed that telling the crowd all that might cause some unrest among the masses. There was no taking it back though and the crowd would just have to find a way to swallow the difficult information. The group grabbed the rest of their things and went back to the fortress. The heroes are sure to need their rest for what lies next. For there is a giant in the south east of Shaar Haven that needs to be silenced.

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Silver Tongues Piercing the Darkness

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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.

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