The party rested at the Inn in Portalis. Istarya disappeared for a short time and returned without the magical stone/eye that was found beneath the Castle of Artegia.
Neuwoch – Day 14 of Avanrdil, in the year 874
In the morning, Teodora met with the new head priest Father Jaelin who seemed reluctant but happy to lend them enough horses for them to travel to the town of Fallheim. They set out to the north-east, and just outside of town spotted a small camp destroyed with humanoid corpses strewn about. Some of the corpses were humans and dwarves, exploded and diseased by goblin poisoned weapons, while the rest of the bodies were cut, torn, and clawed up goblins.
Beneath a dwarf's dead body Carric discovered some strange, unfamiliar fruit with a spikey outer shell and the strange smell of decay, along with a Bag of Holding which contained a satchel with more of the fruit. Teodora hastily decided to bite into a piece of the fruit, choking on the noxious dust and juices that spilled out of it with a disgusting smell of death. Shortly afterward the ground began to rumble, the party made a hastey retreat as Teodora washed off her tunic, and behind them noticed as a pack of Kruthiks attacked the area where the fruit had been eaten.
Carric then recognized it as the rare fruit called Kruthorn, known for growing where a large amount of Kruthiks have been slain. The hard outer shell smells of the region in which it grows, and repels the creatures, while the inner fruit exudes unique pheromones which attract Kruthiks from exceedingly long distances. The party then set out on the three day journey towards Fallheim, passing through and resting in two small towns along the way.
By the evening of Tenwoch, Day 16 of Avandril, the party was nearing the town. Carric noticed that the stars in the sky directly ahead were blotted out, and as they crested the hill they realized it was a great pillar of billowing smoke which split the sky. The town of Fallheim lay down the hill before them, split across the middle by large cliffs and cut in half by a swift flowing river which tumbled down the cliffs in great falls. The entire lower portion of the town was alight with flames amongst ruins and tattered remains of civilization, the same for the north-west portion of the upper part of the town, split from the other upper areas by the river and only connected by one bridge.
The eastern, upper part of town was not ablaze and clearly showed signs of inhabitants, but the whole town was buzzing with life…just not all meaning well. The party sneaks through the ruined walls into the lower region of Fallheim, coming upon a lone Gnoll gnawing on a bone and striking him down with arrows before he could let out a cry for help. From a hiding place behind some debris and buildings they watch as a group of gnolls gather, drag a helpless villager amidst the group and proceed in a wild frenzy of feasting to tear the villager to pieces.
As the pack of beasts is distracted, Carric attaches a pod of Kruthorn to an arrow and fires it nearby the pack of feasting gnolls, then the group scurries off towards the cliffs dividing the town. As they progress through town they spot an open field that used to be a market square, only now it is burnt and covered in rubble with crude iron cages strewn about it. The party notices a few gnolls walking about the square, and to their surprise it appears that there are living people in some of the cages. Using ghostsound, Istarya distracts the gnolls while the party hurries in and rescues the three people, two human males named Thomas and Marin, and a human woman named Lisa.
As they leave the square they notice the distracted gnolls returning, only to run off to the south at the sounds of gnolls yelping and creepy chittering. The party imagines the Kruthiks have finally joined the party. Leading the three rescued villagers up the cliffs, the party finds the upper part of town much more intact than the lower area, though still beaten up and quite messy. They find that the surviving townspeople have barricaded the passages up the cliffs and the bridge to the rest of the upper part of town.
They discover that the lower part of town east of the river is entirely over-run with gnolls, and that the part of town both upper and lower west of the river was attacked and taken by Hobgoblins, Bugbears, and Goblins. The party rushed immediately over to the bridge where they heard fighting. They saw a group of rank and file hobgoblins marching across the bridge blocking incoming arrows and stones with their shields forming a shell around the group, and a hobgoblin leader urging them forward from behind.
Istarya and Carric launched deadly projectiles and took out the front ranks, as Gwrtheyrn, Lel, and Teodora charged forward. With the front ranks demolished, it was easy to see the bugbear that had been hiding amidst their ranks, who then charged forward to engage the adventurers. As the combat progressed on the bridge, several bodies were pushed over the side and were consumed in the water by thrashing, greenscaled hands. As the dust on the bridge settled, the guards set their weapons at Lel, claiming that he was an intruder and that his kind were pure evil, accusing him of being a liar and psychically controller those around him.
Carric agreed to stay outside with Lel as the rest of the party was taken to the keep to meet with the Lord Warden, Fabin Markelhay. While outside, passing some time, Lel learned that another githyanki must have appeared in Fallheim over a month ago and had a hand in the town's downfall. Carric, while looking out across the ruined portion of the city, heard a loud screech and spotted a large, dragon-shaped form taking off from a tower on the far end of town and flying through the pillars of smoke.
Inside the keep, the rest of the group talks with the Lord Warden and discovers that there is a warehouse of explosives in the lower part of town. Lord Warden Markelhay wants the party to retrieve the explosives so that they can blow up the bridge connecting the east and west parts of town because the hobgoblins are a continuing threat and this would force them to go through the part of town that the gnolls have over-run. Istarya seems hesitant to blow up the bridge, but agrees to secure the explosives with haste, so the party heads out to Bailey's Boom! Store. Through the barricade, down near the river, the party finds the store untouched.
Gwrtheyrn hears sounds from the next warehouse down and decides to investigate, finding four hyenas and a gnoll with a giant bow inside rooting through some old food stores. A fight breaks out as some kruthiks emerge from the ground but Carric uses the Kruthorn to scare them away. Chasing a hyena and the gnoll through the warehouse backdoor, Lel emerges from the door to the sight of a pack of huge gnolls with ravenous hyenas held on chains. He quickly shuts the door and heads back through the warehouse shouting, which causes Istarya and McGwyver to hurry up and start loading explosives onto their Tenser's Floating Disks.
As the hyenas and gnolls come around the warehouse, the party leaves a trail of blackpowder out from the explosives store and quickly lights it causing the entire building to explode as the adjacent warehouse is entirely engulfed in a kruthik sinkhole. Back in the relatively safe side of town, the party managed to secure ~750 lbs of explosives, they set up for the night in the Silver Moon Inn. As they head to their rooms, Carric notices a strange looking claw hanging as decoration on the wall, one that he cannot recognize what animal it is from but has seen a similar claw once before in his life.
654xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, McGwyver, and Gwrtheyrn
230xp – Teodora
150xp – Rex (quest completion)
+1 Sylvan Leather Armor, Bag of Holding