Keepers of the Realm

The sun beats down on the ship and its crew as the ship travels farther south in the seas between Wyrmwood and the southern continent. A drow stands at the helm of the ship navigating. She calls to one of her men. “Oye, come take over for me. I have business to attend to.” She walks down from the helm into the war room to meet with Krunak. 

 

The Keepers enter the war room to meet with Shava and Krunak. “We have orders from Kline to scout before you all reach your destination to make sure we do not fail.” Krunak says before placing a piece of armor for each of us on the table. “This is more breathable armor and should help keep you cool in the heat of the continent. However, it is thinner than the leather you wear now and will not protect you as much.” Shava then speaks up and says “I have heard some rumors while in Bilgewater of a fire witch dwelling inside of an Uthgardt Barrow and terrorizing a group of individuals named the Nettlebys. The pirates had visited the ranch and had confirmed the scorched barrow with the symbol of the fire cult on the mound itself. The Nettlebys have prized livestock and helpful citizens like yourself should lend a hand.” Traelle speaks up and asks “How will we find this place?” Shava responds “When we reach port AlsoDoesntHaveAName we can ask the location of the ranch. Anything else captain?” Drak’Thal questions her. “Who did you hear this information from?” Shava responds, “Local tavern.” With a smile on her face as she looks back at the Captain. “So, you are a pirate?” Drak’thal questions the Drow. “Of sorts,” she responds. “Tell me of your past.” Drak’Thal says curiously. “I was born in the underdark…” she stares right at Alatar, “there is much prejudice in the main lands so I took to the sea. It is safer for my kind.” Drak’Thal sits for a moment in silence contemplating what to ask her. Shava has become infinitely more interesting to Drak’Thal. “Who did you sail under?” He asks her. “Myself,” she responds. He asks her why she is no longer a captain. “Kline commandeered my ship. A fate similar to yourself. Is that all captain?” “Sure,” The captain responds. Krunak, slightly uncomfortable, looks over to Shava nods and she heads out of the room.

 

Krunak continues the meeting, “Any questions about the mission or scouting party? It will be myself and Shava scouting.” Rinn asks “YOU'RE LEAVING US IN CHARGE OF THE BOAT?!” in a concerned voice as though she would never want to do such a thing. Krunak relieves her of her fears and says that the crew will take care of the ship, Shava and him will take care of the scouting, and the Keepers will take care of the Nettlebys. He proceeds to exit the room so that they Keepers may speak as a group.

 

Drak’thal turns to Alatar and says, “As you probably know, we had a meeting without you. I made it very clear to these two, that together we are a group, including you. If one of us does not forgive you then the rest of us do not forgive you.” Alatar thanks Drak’thal for this. The dwarf then asks all of them to share any information that they have been holding back that they may speak of. They all look across the table at each other waiting for someone to speak. Rinn speaks up, “Fucking werewolves…” She goes on to tell them of her dreams of the Uthgardt clan, Kline, and orc bandits. Rinn continues on about more dreams, an old lady, and her feather. Drak’thal asks if anyone else is holding anything back, and nobody speaks. They all leave agreeing to meet in the mess hall later for some fun.

 

Land crests the horizon over the sea as the Keepers Oath sails south. As the port nears, smoke and flame appear in the distance. Krunak meets with the Keepers and tells them that they have two tendays to complete their mission. “Deal with the Nettleby’s in one day’s time, and we will meet on the road to Scarlet Moon Hall.” He then looks to the dwarf, “Captain” before departing. The Keepers enter the port AlsoDoesntHaveAName and head to the tavern for an ale. Alatar and Traelle ask the barkeep about the location of the Nettleby’s home and if they have heard any news of the ranch. He replies, “The livestock have been branded and there are said to be fire witches.” The Keepers make haste for the ranch, taking the East road. Night falls over the southern continent and the Keepers sleep beside the road.

They continue on the road until they come to a sprawling ranch over rolling hills, cleared of trees. Praised livestock graze the pastures; ponies, cattle, sheep, and oxen. A house and barn stand near fields of oats and barley. The Keepers approach the home, knocking on the door. A young halfling answers, “Um hello?” Drak’thal leans down to the boy, “Go get yer parents!” Rinn interjects, “We’re here to help, please go get your parents.” The door shuts and a few minutes later a halfling woman, Jayne, answers and asks if we’re here to help. Traelle asks about the cultists and fire witches. Jayne tells them that thirty days ago the barrow went up in flames scorching the symbol at the top.  Her son, Watson, noticed branded cattle and that the barrow had been opened. Her father-in-law, Wiggan, spoke of fire witches of the past. She takes us out to the field to show them the brands on some of the livestock. The symbol of the fire cult, seared into a hide of the sheep, was unmistakable. A cranky old halfling, Wiggan, introduces himself, his son Bertrand, and his eldest grandson Watson. The Keepers are led to the barrow by Wiggan and his son. As they approach the barrow, it is noticeably chillier. The halflings refuse to continue further, leaving the Keepers to investigate.

Entering the barrow, motes of flame light the corridor and tall monoliths lead to a burial chamber. The Keepers explore the tomb, finding three altars of animals; tiger, elk, and bear. In the center stands an empty bier with scorched, scattered bones on the floor. The cold that was a relief from the outside heat becomes a deathly chill inside the chamber. Traelle looks severely exhausted by the temperature. Just as the Keepers let their guard down, the bones begin to swirl and form a skeleton. A miasma covers the skeleton creating a large spectral warrior. “I return from a warrior’s rest!” The warrior asks the group why they have come to his tomb, and they explain their intent to cleanse the desecrated barrow. As the Keepers mentions the Nettleby’s, he exclaims, “They are the desecrators!” Just as he utters those words, the sunlight from outside dims and the hall entrance collapses. Rushing to the entrance, a large earthen Elemental creature attacks them. Swords ring and arrows shatter against the creature’s rocky flesh. Little damage is done until Rinn can find a weak spot in its armor. Exploiting this multiple times, she weakens the Elemental. Drak’thal then raises his warhammer bringing the wrath of Talos down upon the creature, crushing it into rubble.

Upon exiting the barrow, twelve barbarians surround the Keepers in a semi-circle with two of them on horses. One dismounts, kneels to the warrior and says, “This one is the ancient, we have come to see you avenged.” The spectral warrior replies, “You’re in time for blood. The desecrators lie there,” as he points to the Nettleby house. He runs off towards the home and the Keepers follow. Rinn asks of the spirit warrior’s name, they tell her that he is Chieftain Javor. Traelle turns to one of the barbarians and pleads, “There is at least one innocent there.” The barbarian replies, “All will die…” Traelle sheepishly withdraws and continues running. Drak’thal asks of the barbarians. The leader of the tribe, Fennor, and her second, Padraich, explain that they are one of many Uthgardt clans. 

A storm begins to coalesce over the Nettleby ranch, thunder and lightning crash as the slaughter begins. The barbarians swarm the home, killing everyone they find. Javor walks forward, unsheathing an unseen spectral sword. With a single slash, he brings the house down. Walking into the rubble, he murmurs,“The basement” before smashing the floor open to reveal Wiggan and Bertrand. Javor asks them for their final words, and they reply, “Curse the Black Earth Cult!” His spectral sword cuts through the halflings, severing their souls from their bodies.

The Keepers search the basement and find papers from the Black Earth Cult and a locked chest. Javor looks over the group and says, “You, adventurers. You have fought valiantly. Restore my barrow, find the items they took, and restore it once more.” With these final words, his form vanishes and his bones fall to the floor. Traelle collects the bones to carry back to the tomb. Inside the chest, they find armor, weapons, animal figurines, and a bag. The Keepers return to the barrow to place the four animal figurines at their respective altars, reform the bones and armor at the bier, and pray that they have restored the tomb properly. A voice calls to them from the beir, “Halt.” The Keepers turn to see Javor at the bier, and he continues, “Are you familiar with the rewards of those long gone?” Small gems at the side of the bier displace themselves and float towards the Keepers. They appear to be charms for each of the adventurers. They thank him and leave.

Exiting the barrow, Traelle begins to stow the items from the chest into her bag. As she places the halfling bag into her own, it begins to violently shake. She yells, “RUN,” and throws her own bag away from them all.

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