The heroes, now with a goal of safely delivering the books of evil and good to the dwarves and elves, are suddenly at a loss of where to go from there. Do they go straight to the Dwarven United Halls or the elven Consulship of Aldoreni? To whom do they give the books to? After much discussion, the party decided to give the book of good to the dwarves, and the book of evil to the elves, hoping that their respective governments had the power to safeguard such artifacts of infernal and celestial power. To dispose of the more vile book as soon as possible, the party decided to move to the elven lands first and deliver unto them the book of evil. With mutual agreement, Mancar Loxley was going to go ahead of them and meet them at their destination with the books in his possession.
Whilst traveling across the land, the heroes decided to avoid the city of Detoc, lest the corrupt Baron, Malthor Snidet, got wind of their plan and attempted to stop them. After two days of travelling, they came across an old inn named The Wandering Mare. The light emanating from the inn was cheerful enough, and anything beat sleeping on the cold hard ground at night, so the party decided to rent three rooms, one for each of them, and converse with some of the locals.
The half-orc, already used to blatant racism, did not experience much reprieve here, as most of the patron and staff shunned him, and charged him extra just for his presence. The other two, the fighter and the rogue (the wizard had to attend other matters in a spiritual part of the forest so he can meditate) experienced much warmer welcomes and mixed with the local color well enough, particularly the dwarven bartender and the fighter. After a few minutes of socialization, the bartender mentioned how there was a strange man in the back room who was asking for travelers who matched their descriptions.
It turns out that the man, who introduced himself as Aliray Jenkins, was seeking information on why Mancar Loxley, an “old retired adventurer, and hero to the kingdom” was reviving his old contacts and networks after a twenty year hiatus from the public life. The group, trying their best not to indulge the man with his thirst for information, got a stern warning that other groups have felt a evil being released upon the land after they left the monastery, and that they would soon come.
Jenkins, and his two guards who were waiting outside the back room, soon left the view of the public, leaving the group back to their socialization patterns. Suspicious of any dangers that might be coming, they organized a system of watches for the night, just in case something might happen. After making a few requests from the bard and talking to the elven barmaids and their dwarven boss, the group went to rest for the night.
Deep into the night, halfway through second watch, the inn was attacked by an as yet unidentified force. Spying into the darkness the rogue, who was on watch at the time, witnessed what looked like Gray Dwarves, otherwise known as Duergar, assaulting the inn and setting up ladders on the second floor. Swiftly, she ran up the stairs and attempted to wake up her friends, but ended up being trapped between two of the attackers outside of the fighters door.
While she held her own for a little bit, the two others managed to wake up and assist her in dispatching the two, as well as another wave of three dwarves who made their way upstairs by a way of a ladder. Soon after, and many wounds later, the three made their way to the common sleeping quarters and witnessed four dwarves slaughtering two other people and combating a third. Effortlessly, the trio instant killed three of the invaders, shocking the last into submission. After some interrogation and tying up, the surviving gray dwarf revealed that they were sent there under command of the “”/campaigns/malidor/characters/empress-1" class=“wiki-content-link”>Empress", the ruler of his clan of Duergar.
Rushing downstairs, a fight was clearly underway in the corner, where the dwarven bartender sat behind his bar and fended off two of his evil counterparts with an old sword, whilst two more interrogated one of the two elven barmaids and the bard sat unconscious in the corner. After killing the two interrogating the barmaid and one of the ones attempting to kill the dwarf, the metaphorically backed the last surviving Gray Dwarf into a corner, forcing him to take the elf hostage.
Through multiple ways of diplomacy, including the attempted hostage exchange with the tied up dwarf upstairs (which went horribly awry, resulting in the halfling’s sword being stolen), the dwarf ended up releasing the woman in exchange for safe passage outside with the rest of his friends. Knowing that a final assault was incoming, the bartender and the party decided to barricade all the windows and doors on the first floor and holing up in the cellar while the bard and elf hid in the kitchen cupboards.
Part of the initial invasion strategy of the Duergar was to dig a tunnel into the cellar for the element of surprise, resulting in a large hole in the side of the wall. Curious to see the depth of the hole, the party pushed a leaking barrel of ale into the hole and lit the alcohol trail on fire, resulting in an explosion that alerted everyone to their location.
After a fierce battle, the heroes emerged victorious, with many near death situations at the hands of a Duergar lieutenant, who singled the fighter out for honor-bound combat. Both the fighter and the dwarven bartender, whose name was finally revealed as Drogan Hammerfist, included among them.
The day after the battle was a somber one. Individual funeral pyres were built for the two killed patrons and the barmaid’s twin sister, as well as for one massive one for the twenty or so killed invaders. The immense amount of smoke alone resulting in the inquiry of a wandering patrol of Royal Knights of Fyndin, who asked about the invasion and were impressed by the skill of the defenders. Upon questioning about Mister Jenkins, they revealed that he was an information broker that is well-known throughout the land, with contacts in every city, port, brothel, and manor. If he wanted information on something, he would find a way to get it. The knight also mentioned that he was untouchable, with connections to the law and to the thieves guild, and was immune to any sort of investigation. The three knights soon left to investigate a rebellion to the east, as they put it.
Once the party finished their discussion with the Royal Knights a new matter was brought to their attention: Drogan’s old contacts in the United Hall’s Army and other portions of the dwarven government. After some discussion, they agreed to tell the old dwarf a limited amount of information involving their quest, information only relating to the book of good and the dwarven kingdom. Forever in their debt, he offered for himself to travel on ahead of the party, revive some old contacts, and make some progress in securing a safe haven with the Hammer of Moradin church there. So, after telling the party that they are welcome to whatever food, drink, and lodging they required when he reestablishes the inn, he sets off for the dwarven city of Torkin.
The barmaid, with her boss leaving and the establishment ruined by the attack, as well as the death of her twin sister, decided that she would adventure back to her family’s ancestral home in the elven city of Foxhund, offering them any favors that they wished should they find themselves there.
Three more days of travel later, with bellies filled with free food and drink, a good night’s sleep and the company of a traveling minstrel who decided he was going to chronicle their journey, they came across yet another “chance” encounter. This time, Mister Aliray Jenkins sits in the trees, waiting for them with four of his cronies (after making it out of the inn and leaving a note saying “told you so” [in essence] to the adventurers). Avoiding him didn’t work, so they were stuck with being forced to listen to him try to worm the information he required out of them, but yet again, they did not budge.
Seeing that he was making no progress with the heroes, he decided to play the role of the benefactor to them, offering up four of his finest steeds, Lightning, Maybelle, Fox, and Diamond, free of charge to the adventurers. After much discussion, and trying to figure out an ulterior motive, they decide to take the steeds to assist in accelerate their journey to the Elven Consulship.