Transporting themselves to the Kingdom of Ek’Kasel the Party had arrived to the living quarters of Koraki diplomat Suramer Pamasna, seeking to gain an audience with King Eresar II to assess the severity of the threat posed by the Krangi invasion force. Along the way, news from Cosdol came in the form of a Sending spell from the wizard Sedeel – informing the Group of the departure of Folemir Gola and his “Dark Blades” from their service, and of her own availability.
Meanwhile, the meeting with the Kasite King revealed the capital city of Bet Kasel to be surrounded from afar, a position that threatened to permit the realization of the second “sign” from the vision of Nightmaster Herkuul “The Crow”. Being unwilling to allow the Dark One’s foul plot to succeed, the Party deployed itself against the enemy’s command center in the northern lands of the Banader River – a move that placed them into direct conflict with the Sun Slayer Azak Naggetrek, and ultimately brought about his end…
Fireday, Fourth of Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
Disappearing from the pavilion command tent of the fallen Azak Naggetrek, the Aspect Party returned to the Bet Kasel castle of Eresar II, materializing into the teleportation chamber in the lowermost levels. As they made their way to update the King, the Group members did their best to lift spirits, informing passerby and castle guardsmen of their victory over the hated Krangi invaders and of the death of the Sun Slayer.
For his part, Eresar was pleased with the word of Naggetrek’s demise, and agreed wholeheartedly with the Party’s recommendation to press the counter attack while the hobgoblins collected themselves following the unexpected loss of a senior lead in their invasion hierarchy. In the meantime, the Aspects had other affairs to tend to, and notified the King of their decision to return to Cosdol for a day or two to set into motion plans they hoped to use against another foe.
As a precautionary measure, Alamir instructed the mercenary wizard Sedeel to remain in Bet Kasel with her manservant Urohn, so as to be close at hand should the dragon rider appear or Eresar have need of immediate assistance. The foreign woman consented for the pair readily and bid the Party goodbye for the time being as they made final preparations and whisked themselves through the ether and back home to Cosolen.
The “Capital of the Fay” was found to be the temporary home of a large number of Eldoran soldiers, human men helping to maintain the peace and displaying little pleasure in providing aid to a nation as racially impure as Cosdol. Despite the less than friendly atmosphere, Maldus and Alamir wasted no time, taking Azravan to the Palace of the Prince to brief his Highness on events in the Young Kingdoms and introduce him to the Group’s newest member.
Meanwhile, Rarnok and Stoat headed out of the city, following the south road to the hamlet of Tigden. Upon arrival, they paid brief visit and respects to the local lord Brendolm Minel – former Party member and Agent of the Prince – before locating the target of their visit, Ervaln Norforn “The Architect”. Having previously requested the creation of an adhesive toxic substance at the College of Alchemy in Bet Kasel, the Aspect of Resolve now sought the design and manufacture of a delivery apparatus.
Norforn listened carefully as the Halfling Aspect explained his plan, and the device he desired to carry it out. The idea was simple enough, use Dokari’s Crystal Ball as a lure and conceal it behind or underneath a duplicate non-magical crystal ball which had already been purchased and would be coated with the adhesive toxic substance under development in Ek’Kasel. Once Torment went to take the item, he would be immediately impaired, and ready to be slain. In that moment the device needed to strike… swiftly and in the most lethal manner possible.
After a moment of thinking, The Architect agreed to the assignment, and accepted the 92,370 gp supplied toward labor and expenses for the item. With the deal thus officially struck, Norforn was instructed to ride to Cosolen and procure a Sending spell to Stoat from the cleric Telerai once the item’s design was completed and a prototype built. From there, the responsibility would fall to the Party to place the item and set the trap.
Homeday, Fifth of Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
Reaching Cosolen as swiftly as they were able to, the Aspects of Time and Resolve met back up with their fellows and made ready for the return trip to Ek’Kasel. The arrival to the teleportation chamber in Bet Kasel seemed a typical one, until the Group exited the room’s confines to discover dozens of clearly wealthy persons and families – affluent individuals newly arrived after fleeing the street to street fighting taking place in the Koraki capital of Korem, entered the previous night by enemy combatants.
The refugees spoke of their city being under siege, with numerous structures on the outermost edges aflame… descriptions the Party recognized from the prophetic visions of Krangi Nightmaster Herkuul “The Crow” – as told to them by the Knight of the Black Pit Rolmak roughly a week prior. With the first “sign” now true, the hobgoblins would surely seek to make the second “sign” – that of women and children in Bet Kasel begging for mercy – a reality as well.
Quickly, the Party moved to the King’s war-room and re-examined the maps depicting the invasion. Ek’Kasel would need new allies to fend off and defeat the hobgoblin forces, but where to get them? To the east, Pekal was well known to be embroiled in a lengthy war with Tokis and would surely be unable to send aid. To the north, Ek’Gakel was reportedly in complete disarray, with the military battling the numerous Dejy tribes that had taken up arms against the Free State.
To the west, Korak stood on the brink of defeat, with the entry of enemy troops into the capital city itself. That left only the south, where halflings and elves lived within the Kalokopeli Forest. Beyond that, the Elos Desert stretched to the shores of Whimdol Bay. Stoat spoke then, pointing out that with the majority of its armies invading, Norga-Krangrel itself would be protected only by a token force. If no ally existed in the form of kingdoms or armies, perhaps others could unknowingly offer aid in other ways.
Intrigued, the Group listened as Stoat spoke of Prompeldia the “City of Thieves”, located south of the Kalokopeli and on the coast of the Elos Bay. The city also sat on the Ek’Ridar River, which ran the entire length of Norga-Krangrel. If the unscrupulous men of that foul city believed that plundered riches of Korak and Ek’Kasel were ripe for the taking from the unprotected hobgoblin nation, perhaps raiding parties would be sent to pilfer said fictitious goods, resulting in harrying attacks on the Krangi homeland – potentially forcing the enemy to send troops back home to defend.
Though decidedly a long shot, the idea was not without merit, and stood to hit the Krangi from an unanticipated vantage point if it were successful. After discussion, the mercenary wizard Sedeel was assigned the task of spreading rumors regarding lightly guarded treasures, a job the Reanaarese woman accepted with a smile that spoke of vast experience in tempting men into dangerous or foolhardy actions. She bowed deeply and exited the room, with Urohn on her heels.
Maldus spoke next, stating his intention to bring Daresh out of research and into the fight. With the Group’s victory over the hobgoblins in the northern river-lands, King Eresar’s soldiers had managed to punch a whole in the enemy’s “noose” and had for the moment at least, secured the Banader River. If the King and Party acted quickly, they could take advantage of the situation and send an attack force upriver to Korem, to strike the enemy from the flank and perhaps cripple their siege of the Koraki capital.
With winter approaching, such a defeat could force the humanoids to retreat, for fear of fighting a winter war with overstretched supply lines in the cold. Should the plan work, Korak would likely then be capable of solidifying its holdings and perhaps even of sending aid to Ek’Kasel. It would doubtless be a risky plan, but an unexpected one, which gave them the element of surprise. Eresar displayed much concern, but agreed to send the force.
Shortly thereafter, Daresh arrived to Bet Kasel, having been contacted by Maldus via sending and instructed to bring his research materials with him to the city. He would be leaving them in the city itself, and traveling with Erear’s men to Korem, to join in the counter attack against the hobgoblin invaders there. In the meantime, Rarnok and Azravan had departed, using their flight magic to seek out possible locations for additional enemy commanders.
The aerial mission took the remainder of the day, but soon proved worthwhile, as the border city of Salido was discovered to be playing host to a massive humanoid force, possessing sturdy stone buildings under heavy guard. With their scouting mission complete, the pair of spellcasters returned to the rest of the Party, and planning for a new strike began.
Godday, Sixth of Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
In a manner similar to their previous missions, the Party assembled in the early morning, finalizing last minute details and augmenting themselves with spells. The construction floorplan for the town hall of Salido was acquired from the Kingdom’s hall of records, and the layout of the structure was studied in great detail. It was decided that the Group would teleport into the basement levels, identified on their plans as largely storage.
The Party then cloaked itself with invisibility and silence spells and transported themselves into the structure, mouthing silenced prayers that massive changes had not taken place within the building. To their joy, the structure was unchanged, and the Group arrived safely. The narrow corridors and turns of the building held many hobgoblin soldiers, and the Aspect Party avoided them and proceeded to the building’s stairs upward.
As the Aspects moved, the guards found themselves confused by the effects of the silence spell, permitting the Party to sneak past as the humanoids attempted to map the radius of the effect by moving about. All appeared well until the discovery of a Rune of Warding on the steps leading up. Having no way to deactivate the magic without removing their concealments, Rarnok moved forth, setting off the explosion and clearing the way. Though damaged, the Group moved onward.
Racing through the building, the Party endeavored to stay one step ahead of the enemies realizing something to be amiss and moving to investigate or warn others. A myriad of small distractions enabled their continued motion, from dropped coins of gold to bewildered guardians bumping into “nothing” only to find the space cleared immediately after. Reaching the top floor at last, the Group knew any enemy leaders would be close.
Initiating battle, the Party dropped its stealthy approach and commenced forcing their way through the upper floor. Azravan displayed both awesome power and immense cruelty, casting spells such as Baleful Polymorph and Finger of Death on the hobgoblins present. Alamir used his magically increased size to his advantage, overpowering any who stood in his path. Stoat fired shots from the top of the stairwell, using wall and railing for cover.
As the Party neared the final chamber, Rarnok pressed the attack, racing into the unnaturally darkened space occupied by the Krangi Knights of the Black Pit. Their leader was powerful, casting potent area of effect spells to great effect – but he stood little chance against the Aspect of Time. Blindingly fast strikes with sword brought the dark cleric low, and allowed the rest of the Group to enter the chamber and engage the enemy.
The remaining threats were eliminated quickly, leaving the building in the Party’s hands for the moment. Stoat scoured the upper floor for hidden compartments or maps, while the others gathered useful items from the fallen enemies. A peek out of the building’s windows revealed that their presence had not been made known to the defenders at large, but this would surely change soon. The command structure they had hoped to destroy had not been in the town hall as hoped. What they needed now, was a new plan…