The Lone Wolf Club

The Thirteenth Encounter: The Horned Hold

Once in the second bastion of the Horned Hold, the Lone Wolf Club had to fight through more enemies. As they paused between conflicts, however, something strange happened! An apparition like a window appeared on the stone wall, displaying three images in succession: First, a blue sky with clouds. Second, an antique well. Third, a horned demon! 

Puzzled about what this vision might portend, our adventurers forged onward… coming at last to a room full of human slaves… the villagers and townsfolk they had been seeking all along! After a terrible fight with the guards, and sadly the loss of one prisoner's life, the LWC prevailed. They now had nineteen people to protect. What should be done with them? 

First, sleep.

DAY ELEVEN

The former slaves, now freed by the LWC, were quite distraught. Some of them were missing spouses, which they believed to be in the third bastion of the horned hold, working in the kitchen. Others were missing children… and in fact all the children in the group had been taken. To where, nobody knows…  

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The Twelfth Encounter: The Horned Hold

As the Lone Wolf Club prepared to set off down the Road of Shadows, a small kobold ran up to them and pressed a note into Gray's hand. It said, in a very ornate script, "I am watching you. Free the slaves and we will have something to discuss." 

Intrigued, the LWC continued on their way into the depths of Thunderspire Mountain. Eventually they came to a vast chasm, flanked on either side by massive bastions. Blocking the path was a portcullis, through which the group could see orcs! 

Some skillful bluffing from the LWC got the orcs to open the gate, but no more; ultimately they had to slay the orcs before they alerted the rest of the bastion. They found out, however, that the human captives were purportedly on the opposite side of the chasm. 

The LWC fought their way through more orcs and duergars, succeeding in crossing the chasm and making their way into the second bastion.  

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The Eleventh Encounter: The Seven-Pillared Hall

The Lone Wolf Club battled numerous hobgoblins and other beasties as they worked their way into the heart (or pupil?) of the Chamber of Eyes. Although the chamber appeared to have been some sort of religious temple long ago, it had obviously been corrupted by the bloodreavers who now inhabited its vaulted rooms. The sanctuary had been transformed into a holding area for slaves, complete with shackles – but was now empty. After battling tooth and nail with the bloodreavers, which also included a few duergar, the LWC managed to capture the leader of the bunch, the hobgoblin chief Krand. With all of his minions dead and dismembered, Krand readily confessed that he had sold the slaves – originally the poor folk of Perscold and Lord Laken's Keep – to a group of duergar. After swearing he was reformed, Krand offered to take the LWC to the Seven-Pillared Hall in return for his freedom. Oddly enough, the usually bloodthirsty band agreed. 

In the Seven-Pillared Hall, the LWC immediately encountered trouble with Brugg, the ogre at the entryway guardhouse. He was puzzled by the presence of a human in the group – Unferth – who seemed not to know he was a slave. Someone in the LWC managed to slip Unferth's abandoned charm back into his pocket, so that he no longer appeared human. The LWC managed to get past Brugg and began to explore the hall, visiting various outposts.

In the course of exploration, it became apparent that the gems worn by the group made Lone Wolf appear to be a mummy. Kell appeared to be a Kuo-Toa. Thanks to Sky's help, the LWC was able to exchange some gems for gold. They also stocked up on provisions. 

Anova noticed that a man in a black robe with an expressionless gold mask was following them; often appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. He appeared to be watching Sky very carefully. Inquiry revealed that the man in black and gold was the Ordinator Arcanis, the magistrate of the Seven-Pillared Hall.  

Finally the LWC retired to the Halfmoon Inn, where Rendil and his family allowed them to stay for free.

 

DAY TEN 

The travelers awoke in the morning to find Sky missing. Inquiry revealed he had come downstairs and gone outside on his own, and had been seen with the man in black and gold. 

Concluding that there was little to be done, the LWC continued to the Grimmerzhul Trading Post – where they successfully avoided conflict with the slaving duergar! Instead they convinced the duergar that they needed to see Murkelmor Grimmerzhul, providing a receipt for the sale of the slaves with his name on it. The duergar told the LWC that Murkelmor could be found in the Horned Hold at the end of the Road of Shadows.  And so the LWC prepared to set off. 

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The Tenth Encounter: The Chamber of Eyes
In which the Lone Wolf Club rescues a halfling

The Lone Wolf Club soon had the hobgoblins under control; they attempted to save one for interrogation, but his fellow turned on him and killed him before he could say anything. 

The Halfling the LWC had rescued from slavery, however, introduced himself as Rendil and thanked the travelers. He told them his family kept an inn at the Seven Pillared Hall, but that they couldn't come in looking as they did – the only humans in the mountain were slaves and they would surely be attacked as soon as anyone laid eyes upon them. 

He also told the LWC that the other hobgoblins had continued down into the Chamber of Eyes, an abandoned temple area nobody else cared to frequent. With them they had taken the humans stolen from Perscold.

For the sum of a few gold pieces, Rendil agreed to get each member of the LWC a charm that would disguise them. He warned, however, that the charm was for appearances only – he couldn't promise that they would disguise the smell of Seelie on Sky. He then directed the LWC to the Chamber of Eyes and departed, promising to put the LWC up for free if they should enter into the Seven Pillared Hall.

So the LWC continued deeper into Thunderspire Mountain, until they reached the Chamber of Eyes. Inside they encountered, not surprisingly, even more hobgoblins… 

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The Ninth Encounter: Perscold
In which the Lone Wolf Club procures goods, and Lone Wolf is reunited with his ass.

After their battle with the dire wolves, the Lone Wolf Club finally arrived in Perscold, a small country town on a river. Although the streets were strangely deserted, there were tents all around, housing the old and young and wounded refugees from Lord Laken's Keep. Upon entering the general goods store, the LWC learned that shortly after the refugees straggled into town, a band of ruffians came into town and gathered together all of the able-bodied adults, taking them off to the east. The woman in charge of the store informed the LWC that the ruffians were strange, horrid creatures – like monsters out of a fairytale. Some of the old folk called them Bloodreavers. 

Outside in one of the town corrals, Lone Wolf found Deloris, the cart, and the two horses remaining (sadly, the refugees had eaten the other two).

The only other major building in town was the blacksmith's. The blacksmith was a gruff old man with one leg, who was very impatient and overworked. He had a huge selection of weapons, none of them finished, and everyone in town was now demanding weapons. The adventurers would have to wait their turn – unless they could find him some sort of apprentice to help with his work. After some bickering, the group decided to leave Caff with the blacksmith. For doing so, they recieved their weapons quickly – and at a twenty percent discount!

After healing some of the refugees and assuaging the fears of those who remained, the LWC bedded down for the night.

 

DAY NINE 

In the morning, the LWC headed east. They came to the base of a huge mountain with a single switchback road leading up to the midpoint. As they started forward onto this road, Sky stopped abruptly. He began to act as if he had encountered an invisible, impassable wall. He began to gesture for the small white stone given to the LWC by Acwellan; when the LWC produced it, he broke through the wall. Then he began to glow slightly, pressed the stone to his neck, and suddenly aged ten years! He coughed and then began to speak. 

Sky's language sounded like a very ancient version of Supernal, almost incomprehensible to Unferth, who speaks Supernal. Sky said something about water – how bad water is better than no water at all, and that the kingdom of Ardanach is very dry. He also recited what seemed to be a children's rhyme. The poem told about two boys walking through the woods, holding hands, one older, one younger. Some sort of flood came, and the older boy let go of the younger boy’s hand. When the water went away, the younger boy hunted the older boy and took everything from him.

The LWC couldn't really understand Sky's ramblings, so eventually they continued to climb up the mountain. About halfway up the mountain, the switchbacks ended in a large archway framed on either side by two enormous minotaurs. The opening, which was about two carts wide, extended deep in to the depths of the mountain. Seeing no other path, the LWC ventured in, discovering along that single large tunnel a series of small side paths and doorways.

They saw a light coming from one side chamber, and as they crept closer they heard a voice: in common, one person said "Sell him for 10 gold pieces!" A higher, younger voice replied, "Are you kidding me? I'm worth twice that – and I'll give it to you, too, if you let me go!" Concluding that they had found Bloodreavers, and that they had taken someone hostage, the LWC dashed in. They did in fact find a small band of hobgoblin bloodreavers, along with a single young halfling. And naturally, the bloodreavers attacked! 

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The Eighth Encounter: Lord Laken's Keep
In which the LWC slays many beasts, revisits its membership, meets a ghost, and destroys a portal.

Just as the Lone Wolf Club was preparing to delve deeper into the dungeon below Lord Laken's Keep, a messanger from the King arrived – a young, zealous soldier with the rather unfortunate name of "Unferth." He brought news that Eric the Blond was actually a spy, planning to take any portentious news uncovered by the LWC, flee, and sell it to the highest bidder. He had also stolen a precious book from the King's library! Unferth apprehended him and then joined the Lone Wolf Club himself, as per the King's wishes. 

Descending into the dungeon, the LWC encountered the ghost of Lady Laken. She revealed that something had come through the rift deep in the ground below – something dangerous. Lord Laken was attempting to harness its power to bring her back to life, but Lady Laken was positive he wouldn't do anything to harm anyone! Nevertheless, she had wearied of the mortal world and wished only to have her spirit freed. When the LWC promised to help her, she gave them her sword. 

Eventually, after battling many goblins and other monsters, the LWC reached the lowest level of the dungeon, which had been converted into some sort of arcane shrine involving blood sacrifice! After killing more stuff, they spoke with the rift itself – a dark portal with the ability to reach out into the physical world. The creature behind the portal attempted to woo the LWC into surrendering the "Seelie" in return for the princess' freedom – and riches and power beyond imagination! The LWC, concluding the Seelie she spoke of must be their strange, pale companion, resisted the portal's temptations. Instead, they learned that the portal purported to be from the kingdom of Begnorn, on the eastern border of Ardanach. The portal claimed that Begnorn would take what was rightfully theirs – Ardanach – and that the Unseelie court would rise again. "The Usurper will fall!"

Although Kell briefly contemplated suicide via jumping into the portal, he eventually saw reason and agreed to join the LWC in destroying the evil apparition.

Upon emerging from the dungeon, the LWC was contemplating what to do – as Dolores, the cart, and the horses were missing – when Sir Acwellan, the king's faithful guard, rode up. He informed the adventurers that he had captured Lord Laken in the halfling village and taken him back to Rodharc for death by hanging. When he heard what the LWC had encountered in the bowels of the dungeon, he became very concerned. He volunteered to return the princess, Toren, and the baby to Rodharc, while the LWC turned eastward. He also mentioned that he had seen a cart and donkey going eastward with some peasant refugees. Acwellan promised that the LWC would be richly rewarded for any information they could provide about what was going on in Begnorn. As a promise of future reward, he gave them the 200 gold pieces he carried with him. 

So the LWC headed eastward. They had not gone far when they began to encounter the mauled bodies of women, children, and elderly peasants who had been fleeing from Lord Laken's keep. They found one dying woman who could only call out a warning before she died. At that point the LWC realized they were surrounded by vicious dire wolves – whom they proceeded to slay. For the first time, the timid Seelie stranger, now called "Sky," dared to involve himself in the fight. Caff the club-footed stable boy, also continuing onward with the LWC, hung back with his wooden sword. The warriors of the LWC did, however, begin to teach him a little swordplay. 

Several days passed while the Lone Wolf Club was embroiled in the dungeon conflict; the adventurers are now in the afternoon of the EIGHTH DAY since the king commissioned them. 

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The Seventh Encounter: Talking to Emmaline

Upon locating Emmaline in a cell within the torture chamber, the Lone Wolf Club worked together to calm her down. When she was no longer hysteric, Emmaline was able to tell them that Lord Laken had stolen her from the castle. He rode very quickly to the keep and hid her in the dungeon, telling her that something bad would happen if she tried to leave. Emmaline never believed in magic before, but now that she's seen this horrible monsters, like goblins out of a fairy tale, and Lady Laken… well, she has to believe. After warning her, Lord Laken hurried off. Emmaline begs you to please, please help Lady Laken – but is reduced to tears any time someone asks why.

Oblivious to Emmaline's warnings, Lone Wolf convinced her that a magic charm would keep her safe. Kell took her to the entrance to the dungeon, but when she tried to pass the threshold she began to scream in pain. Blood came out of her mouth and nose.

Quickly, the Lone Wolf Club brought her back down into the dungeon and stopped the bleeding. Eric the Blond went up by himself and convinced Toren, her baby, and the Stranger to come back down. They gathered with Emmaline in her cell and consented to be locked inside while the LWC explored the rest of the dungeon. Eric gave them the key in case they needed to get back out.

Next, the LWC decided to go into the area Eric had already scouted, where he had heard goblin noises before. Eric, on the other hand, ventured into an unknown region and ran straight into an entire hive of walking, rotting corpses! He fled back to the LWC, which did indeed find some goblins, who put up a fight before giving up the ghost.

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The Sixth Encounter: Finding Emmaline

Our last adventure ended with the Lone Wolf Club entirely scattered – Eric was in the Halfling village, attempting to repair the Stranger's Montgolfier; Anova, Rev, and the Stranger were in town waiting for some response from the castle; Lone Wolf and Deloris were riding back to town; and Kell, Gray, Toren, and her misshapen baby were heading back to the Halfling forest on the two horses stolen from the prison carriage.

We will begin with Anova. As she loitered around the entrance to the castle, observing the passers-by, she was finally rewarded for her patience. Tiller, whom the LWC had sent into the castle to fetch Acwellan, appeared – alone. He handed Anova a document sealed with the king's mark. This letter bore bad news: Lord Laken's prosecution of Toren, supposedly for the misplacement of her baby, was only a ruse. His true intent was to capture the princess Emmaline. Even now he is escaping with her. Acwellan has already gone in pursuit, but the king begs the Lone Wolf Club to join in searching for his daughter before Lord Laken can get her with child and claim the kingdom.

At that very moment, Lone Wolf arrived. Conferring with Anova, the two decided to head to the Halfling village to meet up with their comrades. Lone Wolf managed to procure two horses by deceiving Caff, the stable boy – and then agreed to take the boy along!

Meanwhile, Kell, Gray, Toren, and her baby reached the Halfling village, where they were successful in making the baby-exchange.

When Anova, Lone Wolf, and the stranger arrived with news of Emmaline's kidnapping, everyone agreed that they ought to go to Lord Laken's keep, located to the east. Eric wanted to pilot the Montgolfier, but the Stranger indicated that the wind was blowing the wrong way. They would have to wait for morning. The rest of the group set out and camped for the night in the countryside – except for Kell, who kept riding until he reached the keep.

Instead of a majestic castle, he found only ruins. Piles of shattered stone and scorched timbers dominated the area, sprawling out to the edge of the woods. A few hastily-constructed hovels were set up along one partially-remaining wall, but when he approached the inhabitants fled.

Kell managed to find one of the survivors, Rella, and asked her what happened. She said, "One night, maybe a moon ago, there was a great fire. A sound like a banshee's wail came through the whole keep and the stones began to fall around us! Crushed half the inhabitants. The other servants fled to the surrounding villages or beyond, although the lord's most loyal followers have remained. We tried to take shelter in the caves beneath the keep, but found goblins there! They only let Lord Laken and his blood pass unharmed. We hear wailing at night."

DAY FOUR

At dawn, Eric and the stranger set out for Lord Laken's keep. They and the rest of the Lone Wolf club arrived at around the same time. They were able to speak with Rella, who agreed on behalf of the others that they would protect the LWC's belongings if they could slaughter and eat one horse each day the LWC is in the dungeon. The people do not believe they will come back again.

So – leaving the Stranger, Toren, her baby, and Caff in the care of the peasants, the LWC descended into the dungeon.

They fought many goblins and other creatures before Eric, striking out on his own, located a storeroom. Wishing to avoid the slaughter of any more of the group's horses, he made several trips above-ground to deliver supplies. And a good thing he did, too – the Stranger was just getting ready to fly away in his balloon! Eric managed to convince him to stay until the group returned. He also tried to get some of the people to join him in the dungeon, but they refused.

The LWC joined up again and fought some more goblins. They encountered a torture chamber – and after defeating the head torturer, discovered a prisoner: the princess Emmaline.

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The Fifth Encounter: Saving Toren
The Lone Wolf Club temporarily disbands

We rejoin the Lone Wolf Club at the apex of the Halfling village, around the mostly-repaired beetle hive. Kell and Lone Wolf proceeded to question Root a bit more. He told them that the Halflings' primary industry was harvesting the glowing orbs from the beetles and selling them to Lord Laken's people. Lately, Lord Laken has been bothering the Halflings because he thinks they have magic. Root says he doesn't know why; he doesn't know of anything magic they possess.

Meanwhile, Eric the Blond lowered himself back into the hive to re-investigate the silver chair. He tried to saw it but merely managed to deface it slightly. He did notice an oblong indentation in one of the arms of the chair. He keeps the stranger's map, with the stranger's writing on the back, to himself.

Lone Wolf climbed up into the ship and discovered the source of the strange magic was the stranger himself. He seemed quite distraught, so Lone Wolf sang him a song. The stranger was cheered enough to follow him down off the hive. Kell took the stranger's picnic basket and ate the food (it was delicious), while Anova took the single lady's shoe.

The LWC spent the night in the Halfling town.

DAY THREE 

In the morning, they took the stranger and set out toward the capitol city-all save Eric, who insisted on staying behind to mend the Montgolfier.

On the way to the capitol, the adventurers encountered a pack of wolves. In her eagerness to fight, Anova found herself at the mercy of one particularly vicious old wolf-the animal nearly killed her! Fortunately Rev, Kell, and Gray stepped in to save her. Lone Wolf was primarily occupied with saving his ass.

The wolves defeated, the LWC continued toward the city. Fearing retribution for their earlier slaying of two orcs, they decided it was wise to disguise themselves. Lone Wolf took on the garb of a priest, while the rest of the party became his altar boys.

Nearing the north gate, they saw a carriage heading outward, to the northeast-Lord Laken's domain. Rather than investigate, the LWC decided to continue into town.

Finding their way to the church, Lone Wolf successfully convinced the priest to heal Anova for saving a monastery (or some such). The priest also examined the stranger, but saw nothing that needed healing.

Next stop was the castle. Kell bellowed for Tiller, who appeared and seemed willing enough to go into the castle to fetch Acwellan. Except that once gone, he never reappeared. Kell then spoke to Caff, the stable boy, who was incredibly eager to help. He was happy to reveal that Toren, Lord Laken's daughter-in-law, had just been arrested for losing her baby and trying to replace it with a monster. She has been carted away to Lord Laken's domain. Kell gave Caff an entire gold piece-a fortune to the poor boy-and Caff agreed to watch the cart and the stranger while the LWC went after Toren. At the last moment, Anova and Rev also decided to stay behind.

Now only a fraction of the original party, Lone Wolf, Kell, and Gray raced out into the countryside with Deloris. They caught up with the carriage and slew the orcs. Inside the carriage they did indeed find Toren and her misshapen baby. Unwilling to deceive the girl, Kell told her the truth about her baby. Brokenhearted, Toren feels she has no choice but to swap her baby for a normal baby of the Halflings.

As if the party weren't already splintered enough, Lone Wolf decided to take Deloris and head back to town to meet up with Anova and Rev. Kell and Gray, clearly the most intelligent members of the party, decide to set the carriage on fire and try to hide it. Then, taking the horses, they started toward the Halfling forest with Toren and her baby.

With no clear plan for meeting up again, other than seeing each other "somewhere in between," whether the Lone Wolf Club will succeed in being reunited is yet to be seen. Will the Halflings accept the baby-trade? Will Eric get the damaged Montgolfier off the ground? Who IS the stranger, and from whence does he come?  

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The Fourth Encounter: Halfling Forest
Complications ensue

Last time we left the Lone Wolf Club, they were in the heat of battle, slaying giant insects left and right as they made their way upward into the Halfling town built into the forest canopy. The daring deeds done that day might fill entire volumes… so let's skip to the interesting bits.

The LWC noticed that there were two distinct kinds of Halflings: some regularly proportioned, but simply half the size of a human (true-Halflings), and some that looked "squashed," with large heads and hands (pseudo-Halflings).

A Halfling revealed the source of the trouble to Eric the Blond: something at the very top of the trees had crashed into "the hive" and set the beetles free. The Halfling didn't know where the mosquitoes came from.

Lone Wolf himself took a break from the heat of battle to interrogate a Halfling woman, the purported mother of an apparently normal baby. But not even his astounding magnetism and charisma could charm the baby out of its mother's hands; he left with broom-handle bruises across the back of his legs.

Kell and then the other members of the party saw a pseudo-Halfling bearing a striking resemblance to King Baeden. When approached, the Halfling politely invited the party to go screw themselves.

At the uppermost level of the Halfling tree-town, the LWC discovered the source of all their troubles: a giant, man-made hive buzzing with beetles. A great crack ran down the side of the hive, which Halflings were scrambling to mend.

On the platform lay many wounded Halflings, who had clearly been battling their way past the escaping beetles and even more deadly mosquitoes. One true-Halfling with white hair and a missing arm seemed to be giving orders to the other Halflings; this was discovered to be Root, their leader. When asked whether his people stole human babies, he merely laughed and told the LWC, "We don't steal babies. We simply exchange them. This is the way of things. Sometimes a ‘Halfling' child is born to a human, and sometimes a human is born to a ‘Halfling.' Old wives' tales say we steal the true children, so often a father will come here with his misshapen child. If we have a human baby to give in return, then we make the trade. The mothers cry at first, but soon they come to see the wisdom of the thing. After all, how could a Halfling survive in the world of men – and how could a man survive in the world of Halflings?"

Using his grappling hooks, Eric the Blond climbed up the beetle hive to see what had created the great open crack. On the way up, he glanced inside the hive and saw a glint. Entering in, he found a great silver chair, engraved with floral patterns. He sat in it, but nothing happened. Continuing to the top of the hive, he found an ornate boat, like a small ship, hanging from a badly torn and deflated "bladder." After some discussion, the LWC decided that this "Montgolfier" had flown through a swarm of mosquitoes, run off course, and crashed into the hive during the panic.

Kell joined Eric on top of the hive, stuffing some Halfling garments to patch up the top of the fissure. He was soon distracted by the conversation with Root below, so it was Eric who investigated the little boat. Inside, he found a pale man dressed in fine courtly garments, the like of which he had never seen before. The man wore an ornate collar and badge of a chivalric order, a highly decorated sword, and a small dagger at his calf. He also bore a hand-drawn map. In the boat with him were a picnic basket (with some alcohol) and a single woman's shoe.

Eric approached the strange man, only to find a bloody hole in his neck. His blood had apparently been drained by one of the giant mosquitoes. But as he did so the small white stone given to the LWC by Acwellan got very hot. Taking it out, Eric touched it to the stranger's skin-whereupon he drew in a rattling breath and revived! Unfortunately, though he tried to speak, he could not; the mosquito's proboscis had permanently damaged his vocal chords. He wrote on the back of the map, but none of the LWC recognized the odd writing.

Who is this strange traveler? For that matter, what is the white stone? Has the LWC just lost their one chance to heal the king? Speaking of which, who is this pseudo-Halfling that resembles the monarch? And what of the silver throne?

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

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