Nightfall in Brelindia

2 - Better To Extinguish a Candle
The "rekindled" Candle Man faces justice at the edge of an axe.

The group rests to recover some strength, as Honora examines the locked door leading from the guard post. It seems to be the armory door, and may have been resealed recently. No sound comes from the other side, so the group agrees to leave it be for a while as they continue to explore the ruined keep. After a quiet glance at the upstairs hall, they move through the corridor leading around the lower level of the keep, noting bloody graffiti and other signs of the twisted goblin hunters. They are noticed as they go, though a creaking door hinge somewhat spoils a bugbear ambush. Two horrid trophy-hunters pour out to assist the crossbow and net-wielding stalker, and then the group is further flanked by the arrival of another Bale-Eye shaman, seemingly the twin of the previously slain hexer. It’s a ruthless and thunderous battle, bloodying the survivors, before the last of the bugbears is cut down.

Somewhat to the relief of the four, the first floor seems to house no more of the murderous goblin brigands, though there are many trophies of their kills (and a valuable sack of witch’s salt) among the spoils, as well as human remains in the larder. The group then moves upstairs, where a pair of doors in the upper hall now stand open, with candlelight spilling out. After securing one portion of the hall, they check the first open door: a workshop where four scarecrows are in various states of assembly.

Honora notices that one is fully completed and feigning dormancy, and immediately moves to attack. As the others move to support her, a horrid fear overcomes Baden, and he strikes out at the waking nightmare only to wound Abbron. The fear seems to come from another scarecrow that flickers in and out of visibility like a heat mirage — a scarecrow accompanied by Klogis, the Candle Man. The Candle Man berates the heroes as he confronts them, claiming to be in the right. His powers are notable, but not enough to overcome the storm Abbron creates in the middle of the hall, and the wards that protect him can’t shield him from the axe-blows forever. He and one of his scarecrows are finally brought down, though the lurker escapes.

The group secures the last few rooms (a chandler workshop, some empty storerooms, and a master bedroom where Klogis was staying, with a small trap door up to the observatory level). Then they rouse the Candle Man and begin to ask him questions. He claims to have been saved from drowning (at the hands of the populace of Drakesbend, a town downriver) by a White Rider, a herald of an unknown lord. That herald “rekindled” him and gave him a baton of passage that was to grant him hospitality from the “lord’s man” at Tor Skalane. He admits to being charged with gathering power, in his case crafting wood-and-straw soldiers for this unknown lord. But he tells too much. Once he mentions that he was intended to make a meet at Giant’s Beacon, he begins to gasp and choke. As the candles on his staff go out one by one, Klogis expires.

The group secures the Candle Man’s goods, and plan to build a pyre for all the bodies once the keep is well and truly secure. They return to the armory and open it, finding little remaining of good value. But wooden stairs go down from the armory, and a hideous charnel reek wafts up from the stairs. Honora and Baden recognize it from experience — the unmistakable smell of ghouls.

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1 - Sun and Storm, Sky and Earth
Four heroes come together for the first time, and pay a call on Bone Hill.

The Ulberian half-orc paladin Honora, and her Brelindian companion Diedra, arrive in the town of Rellenford. They inquire about the “lord’s man” Klogis with the guards, who confess not recognizing the emblem he carried or the man’s name. One guard goes to ask the Rellenford guard-captain Gaelvar for information on Klogis, while the other directs the two women to Falcon’s Tavern to wait for a time.

When they arrive, the two draw immediate attention from another pair of out-of-town individuals of note. The autumn elf “miner” Baden immediately takes note of Honora’s gear and bearing, and identifies her as a Valysan on a pilgrimage of the sword. He and his companion, the wandering storm-caller Abbron, invite Honora and Diedra to join them; it’s apparent that all four have certain… interests in common.

The recently arrived women explain the nature of Klogis and his claims of noble protection. The “Candle Man” rumor is very familiar to the other two, though the seal is a curiosity; it reminds Abbron of the Black Gryphon, a mighty knight who rose to the rank of Count centuries ago, but whose descendants have since taken their own variations on his heraldry. At any rate, none of the Gryphon’s line have ever used a blank shield as part of their badge.

The four continue to compare notes until the guard returns, and confesses that Captain Gaelvar cannot assist them at all. He seems oddly confused or worried, and although Abbron attempts to wheedle some more information out of him, there’s little else to be had. Once the guard has left, the four muse that all roads seem to be pointing toward Tor Skalane.

Tor Skalane, from what they know, was a human fort that retained some elven presence until roughly a century ago, when it fell in a night and its defenders were slaughtered or vanished. Some suspect giants: in Brelindia, it’s said the giants come out of the mountains sometimes when the fog is thick. A variety of rumors surround the place: the dead walk, orcs dwell there, all manner of things. But from what Abbron knows, it seems a likely place for the bugbears he suspects of murdering travelers (and setting candles on their corpses) to lair. And Baden is curious to see if there might be some sign of an errant Councilor dwelling there. Certainly it would provide space for a sorcerer like Klogis to work his viler arts — and so, the four resolve to travel there in the morning.

They reach Tor Skalane at midday. The keep is on a hill strewn with immense boulders, allowing them to approach rather cautiously. Baden scouts, and notes potential entryways at the gate, at a large tower, in another of the courtyard walls, and finally an entry knocked into the throne room of the keep proper. (He also notes that the rumors of giants are apparently true, given the immense skeleton lying near a rotting catapult.)

The four enter the keep proper, in the hole hammered into what is apparently the throne room. Several frescoes have been recently defaced, and they spot a pair small and excessively hairy creatures — young bugbears, by all rights. Baden and Honora cut the two down, but not before one sounds an alarm.

And the bugbears come. Honora is first to engage the bone-adorned, skull-painted monsters as they enter the nearby room from upstairs as well as another pair of doors. The goblin men are a brutal group, led by some sort of hexer that carries a stave painted with an eye emblem and wears a large, preserved eye around its neck. The hexer is able to lock up Honora and Diedra with his curses, and the trophy-hunters lay out vicious attacks that nearly kill Baden. But divine wrath and protection, to say nothing of thunder and lightning, are on the heroes’ side. When the last of the bugbears is felled by dual greataxe blows, a momentary quiet again settles over that portion of the ruined keep.

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0 - Prologue
What Has Gone Before

Honora arrives in Brelindia, and becomes involved with the troubles at Scath Hollow. She meets Diedra and goes up against Klogis, the Candle Man for the first time.

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