Terror of Nagash
Episode 1 - The Search For Douven
Our story begins at the Bahamut temple in Fallcrest where four brave adventurers have been drawn together because of their individual connections to Douven Staul.
Galt; a Halfling warlock with a dark past.
Paelias; a secretive Eladrin rogue.
Balomir; a sturdy Dwarven paladin.
And Garack; a transient Human wizard.
The head priest explains that Douven had set out some weeks ago for Winterhaven with no word of him since. The priest hopes we’ll be able to find out what has happened to him and lend any assistance we can to ensure his safety.
After obtaining supplies for the road, we set off East to Winterhaven the following morning.
Our journey was uneventful until we were about half a day’s walk from our destination. A pack of goblins made the mistake of getting in our way and paid for it with their lives. After dispatching the goblins, we noticed they all bore a brand on their arms of what appeared to be a horned goat’s head.
When we arrived at Winterhaven, Garack and Balomir headed directly to the temple for news of Douven. The priest said Douven had been there but that he’d set off several days ago, mumbling about some mission and how he had to stop somebody or something.
Galt and Paelias went to the tavern in the hopes of learning of Douven’s whereabouts or of any local rumors. Paelias was able to befriend a noble gentleman who identified himself as the village historian. From him, he learned that the goat’s head brand we saw on the goblins was actually the marking of Nagash, a vile, corrupt demon-prince of the undead. How these goblins could be involved with the likes of Nagash proved to be a mystery to him.
After checking in at the temple, Balomir and Garack joined the rest of the party at the tavern where Balomir was quick to make introductions to a few of the village’s off-duty guards. Having beaten several of them at arm wrestling and enjoying a few ales at their expense, we were able to learn that Douven had been seen talking with an Elf maiden who sells herbs and flowers in the town’s market before he headed off. We decided we’d better speak with her in the morning.
A farmer, Old Man Winter, told us his farm had been ransacked by goblins and he’d had to flee to the woods.
A dark stranger was sitting in the corner when we arrived but had left unnoticed while we spoke with the soldiers.
The next morning, we found the Elf maiden in the market. She had seen Douven but he’d left days ago. She said there’d been more goblins in the area lately and that they seemed more organized than usual. She thought they might have a camp by the river to the south.
Since we didn’t have any other solid leads, we headed south towards the river. It wasn’t very far before we stumbled upon another gang of goblins. These goblins seemed a bit tougher than the one’s we’d met on the road to Winterhaven and one of them employed some magic against us. We made short work of putting them down but before the last one’s fell, one was heard calling out “warn Iron-Tooth”. We made sure none of them was able to warn anybody of anything.
We spent the night in Old Man Winter’s farm house.
Early the next morning, we reached the river and followed it upstream a short distance until we heard the sound of roaring water. Paelias scouted ahead and spotted goblins on the riverbank, near the base of a small waterfall. He also noted that one of the goblins was standing in the middle of a circle of glowing runes about 10 feet around.
Between the noise of the falling water and the overgrown brush, we were able to approach unnoticed and make our attack. While we engaged the goblins, Galt was able to determine that the glowing runes somehow increased his ability to wield magic, magnifying the power he could unleash.
It didn’t take long before the last of the goblins fell. During the encounter, we noticed a cave opening behind the waterfall.
Paelias was able to sneak inside where he saw several more goblins. We decided we would draw them out into the open where Galt and Garack might take advantage of the rune circle’s power.
Balomir entered the cave, bellowing curses about the goblin’s mothers being whores then quickly made his way back outside where he took up position between the cave entrance and his spell casting comrades in the rune circle.
A tide of goblins burst forth from the cave, some diving through the waterfall in their frenzy and splashing into the water below. Goblin after goblin fell to Galt and Garack’s magic; Paelias’ flashing dagger and Balomir’s axe until the biggest, ugliest, meanest goblin any of our adventurers had ever seen came forward. Unlike the other goblins, this one didn’t wear the horned goat’s head brand on its arm, no, this one had been branded across its face creating a grotesque image. Two long, metal-tipped fangs jutting from its mouth made it obvious who this was; the leader, Iron-Tooth.
The sheer number of goblins nearly overwhelmed our adventurers and as the tide of battle began to shift in the goblin’s favour, an unknown woman stepped from the woods on the far side of the river and wielding powerful magic lent a hand in finishing of the last of the goblins. Before the party had a chance to thank her, she disappeared into the woods just as suddenly as she’d appeared.
With corpses littering the clearing, our group made its way into the cave in search of any spoils these goblins may have amassed. It was then that they saw the weakened form of Douven Staul clinging to life, lying in the filth of the cave.
We could barely make out his words as he told us Kalarel must be stopped before he slipped in to unconsciousness. Balomir rushed forward and calling on the power of Kord, channeled divine healing through himself and into the old man. He would live.
Panting, Balomir pulled his axe from the body of the fallen goblin chief. The small clearing was now littered with goblin bodies, their cruel faces still snarling, even in death. Each had the strange death’s head tattoo. The goblin chief, larger and more brutish than the rest, was a gruesome sight. He had the same strange tattoo as the other slighter goblins, but it covered his face, from scalp down to chin. Accentuating his grim portrait, the chief had two iron-tipped fangs jutting from his mouth. Although covered in a dirty matted wolf’s hide cloak, gleaming chain links from an obviously enchanted coat of mail could be seen on the body.
Frankly, the only comforting fact about this menacing creature was that Balomir’s axe, until recently, had been deeply entrenched in the creature’s forehead.
“Bloody goblins. They ne’er could put up a decent fight. But that mail… now that looks promising! Do any a ye others wanna wrestle for it?”
As the ever enthusiastic dwarf began vigorously pulling the mail coat off the chief’s body, Paelias’ slender eladrin form silently emerged from the surrounding forest. Covered in cuts and scrapes of his own, goblin blood coating his elegant elven blade, he stared towards the trees on the far side of the clearing.
“Did you all see the woman in those trees? We would not have been so fortunate in our battle without her timely intervention. And she has disappeared. I can see her nowhere.”
“Ahhh, you worry too much lad,” said the dwarf, in his jovial tone. “We had it well in hand. Not enough of a challenge if you ask me. I wouldn’a minded a couple more o’ those bloody buggers to wet me axe.”
Paelias glanced at Balomir with an arched eyebrow, obviously not so confident of their chances without the mysterious stranger’s assistance.
“Did you see the stuff shooting from her hands though,” said Galt the halfling. Without pausing for breath, the small warlock chattered on, “Those weren’t arrows or knives, they were some kinda glowing bolts, super cool, but let’s focus on what’s really important here, these goblins must have some loot, and just so you guys know, I am fully willing to hold onto the treasure for our merry band, I wouldn’t want to burden you guys with all that extra weight.”
The diminutive halfling was a comical sight. He was standing within a glowing blue circle of runes laid out on the ground. The runes pulsed with arcane power, sending ripples of energy up his body and the occasional spark from his fingertips. The circle of power was making Galt’s hair stand straight up, and surrounded his head with a glowing nimbus of crackling energy. With hair extended, Galt’s head seemed ridiculously oversized for his small body. On top of that, the warlock always seemed to have a slightly terrified look on his face after using his powers, as if he was playing with powers he barely understood, gambling his life with each cast, and had miraculously come up with a winning roll… again. The combination of wide eyes and softly glowing hair was amusing to the others, and earned him several chuckles. Even the ever-silent human wizard Garack, who also stood within the circle of power, seemed to have a small smile playing on his face.
Looking down, Galt noticed a short rune-encrusted rod jutting from the earth in the centre of the power circle. It was glowing and pulsing in time with the runes around the outside of the circle. He looked over it with an appraising eye, ignored any sense of caution, and yanked the rod from the ground. The pulsing of the rod and the circle both slowed and eventually came to a stop.
“Well now, that little rod looks interesting, I don’t think that anyone will mind if I take it, always a shame to let decent treasure go to waste, could be useful later, never know now do you?”
Tearing his eyes from the surrounding forest, Paelias pointed at the waterfall and suggested, “This is obviously some kind of goblin lair. There must be something in those caves behind the waterfall.”
“Aye, perhaps they have been holding the old priest Douven in there.” said Balomir.
“And most importantly,” chimed in Galt, “there is bound to be more treasure, let’s go!”
The group made their way single-file up the winding path, which became a ledge behind the waterfall. The small path was slippery and the inner rock walls were glistening with moisture. The air itself was so misty that it was difficult to see very far, and it chilled them to the bone. They found the cave entrance on the inner rock wall and made their way into a rough, naturally formed cavern.
It seemed empty, but as they explored the various tunnels and rooms, they came upon a small chamber littered with coins and goods, presumably looted from ambushed caravans. Lying on the floor, clothed in filthy rags, was an old man. His wispy grey hair was filthy and tangled and even in the dim light his dirty body showed bruises in some places, dried blood in others. The man’s wrists and ankles were locked in old rusting shackles, although he seemed so weak that the shackles were an almost unnecessary precaution. The room stank of old sweat and body waste, making the adventurers eyes water. The prisoner was still, not stirring at their approach.
“Douven?” whispered Galt, a look of horror on his face.
The old man slowly opened his eyes and looked towards the halfling, although even that small act seemed to drain all of his strength. A glimmer of recognition crossed his face before his head rolled back.
“Galt, is that you?” His voice was barely a whisper, and his breath seemed to rattle in his lungs. The adventurers came closer to hear the old priest’s words. “Galt, Kalarel must be stopped.”
Paelias gently approached the old man, “Save your strength old one, we are here to help.” The eladrin’s nimble fingers went to work and quickly picked the shackle’s locks, removing them from the priest’s frail wrists and ankles.
Douven looked into the eladrin’s eyes, and slowly nodded. However, within a few heartbeats Douven’s eyes flickered closed and his body went limp. Realizing that the old man was in a perilous state, Balomir jumped forward and placed his hands on the priest’s shattered body. The dwarf closed his eyes and began to whisper words that the others could not hear, and as he whispered his hands began to glow with a radiant white light. Douven’s body gave a small shudder as the dwarven paladin’s divine energy flowed through him, but then his breathing steadied and his face took on a peaceful, relaxed countenance.
“That was close lads, but he’ll live,” said Balomir. The strain of healing showed on his face as a shiver of exhaustion ran over it.
Galt let out the breath he’d been holding, and slapped the dwarven paladin on the back. “Sweet job Bal.” Looking up again, his eyes grew wide and he let out a low whistle. “Check out this treasure!”