Several weeks had gone by.
From the goblin encampment, the group had picked up a few cut gems, a finely crafted statuette, some coins (a grand total of 70g for each person), and two scroll cases. One of the scrolls was written in an odd language that no one in the group could understand. That scroll was given to Master Northal, hoping he could somehow translate it.
The other scroll was an arcane key. When spoken it would unlock… something. Nothing in Wyrmstone had such a lock on it, but if the Goblins had it then the lock must be nearby.
The group discussed this and other matters at the Stoutlager Inn. Brolan mentioned how Master Northal had been trying to get him to focus more on his training and less on his fiancee Janatis and adventuring in general. Also, the Goblin they had brought to be interrogated (named Semli) had now become an assistant to Master Northal.
The Soutlager Inn was busy. Most of the hunting parties were out, except for the Raiders. They had been attacked by a Dragon as they returned to Wyrmstone, leaving many dead and injured. Dragon attacks were quite rare, which was why they were so unprepared to fight it off. The only description of it was that it was “dark”.
Barstomun Strongbeard, a member of the Raiders, approached the group. He’d overheard them discussing the scroll key. His face looked like he’d tried to french kiss a honey badger, but his ears were still in excellent condition. He told them that the Raiders came across a keep a little while ago. It had been a Human keep of some kind back in the day; you could tell by the terrible construction and overall ugliness of it. Once the Raiders had convinced the new inhabitants to vacate the premises (via bodybag), they found a round door in the dungeon basement of the keep. It was magically sealed. The scroll could very well be the key to open that door.
The keep was a week’s journey south of Wyrmstone. He agreed to lead them to the keep. The group purchased supplies and started the trek south.
The first day involved the descent out of the mountains. The sun was hidden behind a sheet of grey. Midday the sky turned red, and stayed that way until nightfall. A look at the landscape to the south revealed what had once been a prairie grassland, now looked more like a field of wheat after a heavy rain. The grass was brown and lifeless, packed down in many places.
During the day Duerias foraged for food and water. For food he found various fungii, and water he found “sausage trees”. On the surface the plants looked like dwarf-high dead trees. But pulling them out of the ground revealed fat roots filled with water. Some of the roots were swollen like hot dogs, others were gorged like giant sausages.
By nightfall they’d reached the foothills of the mountain. The group camped out amongst the rocks of the mountain, keeping their encampment dark and concealed. During the night watch, two large wolves passed by the encampment but did not approach.
The second day, the group crossed a large, dried out lake. They recalled fishing from the lake years ago, before The Sundering. As the sun set and the group reached the long dead grass on the opposite shore of the lakebed, they looked behind them and saw a light. Turns out it wasn’t one light, it was a collection of small lights moving close together. Bar surmised it was either a Hunting Party or a Warbound Party.
They decided that it was best to take off. Unfortunately the party followed them. Bar concluded that they had a Warbound party on their tail, which meant if they didn’t want to become some form of food source it would be best to get the Hell out of Dodge. The taking off became a better idea, as long as it was done very quickly. They ran through the long, dead wheat-like grass with the large Warbound party following not far behind them.
As the sky became dark, the Warbound party seemed to have dropped back. The group suspected they may have lost them in the dark, so they slowed down.
That plan just let ten Orcs, skin dark and eyes red, ambush them. An Orc berserker was sent in to further soften them up. However, our heroes bravely killed them dead.
But night had fallen, and with the dead bodies surrounding them and a Warbound party nearby, there would be no rest.