Dorwen did not believe his friends to be dead. He understood the news, that the camp they had made was over run by gnolls, what the Ja’han call jackmen, but without bodies or personal effects he did not believe the duo to be deceased. He has seen them do too much to be defeated by dogmen. Still, the fact that both he and his comrades were beset by these mongrels stirred his mind a great deal. He was determined to get to the true master in this, knew the first place to look for answers would be the Gnoll leader. Gruthalmus.
Accompanied by 3 members of the Ja’han. 4 of which were Aden’s most trusted soldiers, the knight went village to village trying to track down his friends. At one stop a farm boy with a slight air of power about him approached Dorwen saying he sought the Heroes of Falcons Hollow. Although skeptical Dorwen met with the traveler. A farmer named Niles Tenderfoot, from a small town some distance away. He spoke of a tragedy befalling his best friend at the claws of a Shadow Troll. He only wished to take up arms against evil like the Heroes of Falcons Hollow. Nothing the Knight said seem to convince him otherwise. Plus the young man said he was skilled at tracking as well as other talents.
Still cautious he accept his aid, allowing the Niles to ride with. It was the following day that he proved his worth, catching a set of double backed tracks leading away from the main trail they were following. These tracks lead, to Andrew and two surviving Ja’han hold up in the ruins of some old structure. The center of which contained a tall obelisk.
While they were all alive, Faelwyn was deathly ill with fever from his battle with the Gnolls. Additionally Andrew had strong opinions on Aden Khell’s involvement. Thoughts that faintly mirrored some of Dorwen’s unspoken concerns as well. Before they could discuss further or gather up to push on, howls could be heard at the base of the hill. An entire battle pack stood snarling and barking. Some even foaming at the mouth. The bloodlust held in check by the presence of their alpha dog. The pack leader, Gruthalmus. With a bark of command the first wave started sprinting up the hill like the hungry animals they were. It was then the obelisk began to emit a low hum.
Meanwhile in Darkmoon Vale…
Kara, Arenwe and the Sentinel Elauriel had sent a few days hold up in the ancient Warden city waiting for the Whisper Elf’s team to return. A delay Arwane was more than happy to accept as it seems in this underground town’s center was a Great Spire. The one that Aranwe had hoped to find in this region. The one he hoped Kara’s uncle could have led him to. Over taken by excitement he spent as much time as possible studying this obelisk which still had a bit of power in. This meant it responded to the placement of the key he carried allowing him to access and start deciphering some of the scripts and comparing them to the his notes.
Neither of the women understood his fascination for the stone structure and passed some of the time passively questioning each other. It was clear they both had some degree of affection for the Arwane and so a mutual respect and dislike crew quickly between them. The noble elf completely oblivious to their exchanges. Finally concern of the lateness of her team, caused Eluarial to leave early one morning to seak them out. She returned that evening with a few wounds and barely ahead of an entire migrating Orc tribe heading directly into the cave.
Growls, yells and marching feet echoed loudly throughout the chamber. Then they stopped and another singular female elven voice is heard. In elven it shoots;
“Elauriel, I know you are in here. This wayward Tribe of Orcs have promised to bring you to me in exchange for finding them a new home. I had to kill their chief first but hey, some deals are worth the effort. Hahahah… Seeing as we are standing in their new home, I guess its time to collect my payment.”
Then in orcsish “Go, and bring me any elf you find. Dead or Alive. Be sure to bring me their bow as well.”
With that over hundred orcs rushed down into the large cavern and began to spread out in search of their prey. The threesome was trapped and Eluariel looked pissed. She quickly explained that voice belonged to the Viper, a Black Archer in service to the Dark Lord. What she sought was Seeker, Elaurials bow. The Viper hopes to lead the Dark Lords forces into the elven realm, a path currently blocked by elven magic. Seeker, however has the potential to bypass the blocks. The Viper will stop at nothing to get it.
Aranwe feels he get them out of here using the Great Spire. He has powered it up and has a basic understanding of how it works, he would just need some time determine location. Time they have very little of. They waste no more and head to the Spire, avoiding patrols but seeing dozens of orcs silhouettes moving in behind them.
They manage to make to the Spire an Aranwe begins the activating the magical portal. It is old, and slow to power up. What was only a minute or two while studying it prior, feels like and eternity as orcs rush forwarding having found the threesome. Attempting to by the noble elf time, Kara steps out to meet the charging orcs. Cutting them down left and right. But they are many, and larger Ur’oks are now rushing forward. In addition, the Viper and two other minor Black Archers have joined the fray. Sending arrow after arrow into Elauriel. Aranwe calls the women to get closer to the Spire has he (hopes) activates the transport rune, not noticing the vicious hit the female took while retreating. Has the world begins to shift, her limp form slams against the Spire.
There is a moment of nothingness…
And then Aranwe could smell the fresh air, see the dimming sky of dusk above, and then hear the den of combat. For a moment he thought they had transported the tribe of orcs with them, and in truth a few did come through. But fates seemed to pull the Heroes of Falcons Hollow together once more, they were transported to the spot of Dorwen and Andrew. Deep in a battle with Gnolls.
The fighting was furious but moral was bolstered by additional forces. Transplanted Orcs and Gnolls alike began to fall from blade, bow and spell. So much so that the leader of the war pack, the huge Gnoll Gruthalmus entered the fight with his reserve. Kara step up to these new arrivals as Dorwen tried to help the farmboy Niles. Who was a mage of great power but little control. He had made a target of himself early with powerful displays of lightening and fire and has been attack without mercy ever sense. Yet even though he was blooded from bite, bow and blade he refused to take cover. His inexperience in combat was an annoyance to Rowe, who took an instance disliking to him, and a challenge to Dorwen who struggled to keep the boy a live.
Kara managed to take out a few gnolls and land some big hits on Gruthalmus before his massive morningstar connected with her and sent her flying. Only Dorwen and Andrew seemed to notice. The pair nodded to each other and then split their attentions. The knight leaped to his horse and charged the giant beast, while Rowe in turned leaped forward to defend the farmboy mage from the gnolls. Warning the youth he better not cast any spells around him.
The knights initial attack only inflicted a minor injury but got the beasts attention. As they battled the arrogant and gigantic gnoll confessed a few things to the knight. Foremost of which was that it was Aden Khell that ordered the ambush while Dorwen was in the Walk of Champions.
Across the battle field the others were trying to put down the last of the rabid dogs. Rowe suffered a hit that sent him flying and decided to take a moment to catch his breathe. Unfortunately Niles was unaware and set off another fireball. Destroying a few more gnolls, and slightly cinching the resting Rowe. For the Farm mages trouble, the last gnoll dealt him a power strike leaving him for dead, before Rowe and Aranwe could finish it.
Blow after blew knight endured before final dealing a mighty one himself. Gruthalmus, already weakened by Kara’s attacks and now seeing he nearly stood alone surrendered. In exchange for his life he told the heroes where the nest to the flame drake was. An isolated rocky crag, known was Lone Myst Mountain. With that he and his remaining pack members fled the battlefield.
The heroes took a moment to ensure it was over before policing the site and tending wounds. Only Kara seemed greatly distraught over female elf, and was the only one to hear Eluariel’s final words before she passed from the poison in the Viper’s arrows. While Kara mourned, Ananwe brought the others up to date on his tale.
Tensions was high for while. Rowe angry with the Niles for barely cinching him, and Kara was furious with Aranwe that he never once checked on the Whisper Elf after she fell as well as his lack of compassion.
It was under these conditions that they patched their hurt, buried the dead before resting for the night. Over dinner the heroes opened up a bit more, anger still on undertone, but still sharing their tales and getting reacquainted. At first light they set off for the Ja’Han camp, each lost in their own thoughts.
When they arrived there was shock and then celebration! Some how word had gotten back that they were deceased. Defeated by a massive gnoll horde. The princess, not wanting to risk any further delays declared the ceremony would occur immediately. A short time later in the war room the ceremony was held. General Joshua apologized for the abridged version but assured all that it would meet traditions need. Thus Dorwen was officially named Champion of the Ja’han. An honor bestowed to very few and never to an outsider. A feast for the whole camp was held after and spirits were again high. There was no sign of Aden during the celebration. It appeared he was busy.
The night carried on and Dorwen found himself taking a stroll with the Princess ending at her chamber door. Unfortunately what they found inside was a drunk Aden Khell. Who professed his love for Anneka. The feeling was not mutual and the princess was mostly shocked and appalled at his behavior. Dorwen strongly encourage the warrior to leave and sleep it off. Khell left and mode ruined, Dorwen soon followed. Now concerned what else the jilted noble may try in this state.
The knight met up with his companions and shared the news and they spoke for a bit. Kara stating that the Aden was jealous over the princesses feelings for Dorwen, which was a bit of a shock to the knight but no one else. Rowe offered a plan that might help. A plan to set Khell up as a hero and reduce the rivalry he feels towards the knight. Agreed on the coarse of action for the morning, they ended their night.
Fate can be unkind at times. As Rowe met with the hungover Khell he explained that the heroes are just passing through and no threat to him. That they will help him slay the drakes and Draco, then depart on their way. Khell was shamed by this and grew more frantic, saying “what have I done, what have done” confused and concerned Rowe steps up to him just recall that he has not seen the Blade Maidens, Khells personal guards. “What HAVE you done Aden!’ Rowe yells.
The warrior flops on his bed shoulders defeated. “Its too late. By the Maker its too late”. Before Rowe could ask too late for what. The horns sound an alarm, followed by a guard screaming, “It’s Raizer”, then a second voice shouts “there are two of them!”.