The Warden Lands

12 - The Resurrection of Hope

The storm dispersed quickly, chased from the eastern horizon by the opening Gate. The vast white silhouette of Antaeus arced over the western mountains and the first tentative calls of Whiptail sparrows broke the stillness of the cemetery gardens. From the mausoleum of St Fjorgin, a great yawn of the Nari, Umbar, bellowed forth, quickly followed by a chorus of long-deprived laughter.

With the restoration of Umbar and A’ari to the group a great burden of grief was lifted and a clarity of purpose revealed itself, rallying the heroes against the Nachtkreed, against Lady Margreeth and Sanbalat, and against whatever hellspawn waited in the Church of the Holy Embrace.

After a short rest to regain lost spells, the adventurers planned to head to the Nari community, Kyalassi, to join in Lord Swift’s pleas and gather an army against the evil of Renstake. Those plans were halted by a contingent of Nachtkreed however.

A’ari had just finished his morning prayers when the Nachtkreed made their presence felt. A crossbow bolt was fired purposefully into the dew-soaked grass before him, followed by the jubilant voice of Commander Dietrich directing the heroes to surrender.

Dietrich, flanked by Gariss and Mallon and with a further nine Nachtkreed guards in tow, paraded into the Cemetery to capture their prey, but none of them were prepared for the devastation that followed.

Umbar immediately began hurling rocks at the Commander as the adventurers leapt into cover and prepared to do battle. The portly wizard Aaaz dealt the most telling blow early though, charming the Commander and leaving the Nachtkreed divided and directionless. The fight sprawled over the cemetery grounds with no shortage of mayhem and destruction but ultimately the heroes were victorious and picked through the spoils of their attackers.

Commander Dietrich, still charmed by Aaaz, allowed himself to be tied and bound by the group. The wizard planned on leaving him to the mercy of Margreeth, but no sooner had the Commander been tethered than Umbar hacked at his throat until the head was detached. Aaaz struck out at the Nari, disgusted by the savagery. Agven also warned against the tides of malice and vengeance that swelled in Umbar’s heart, but the emotionless face of the Nari simply stated, “They killed Me.”

Disturbed by the violence of the morning, the party nonetheless picked through the bodies, stripped the Nachtkreed of their armour and prepared for Kyalassi, with Dietrich’s warhorse acting as mule for the scavenged equipment.

By late lunchtime the adventurers were walking into the woods of the Nari camp, hearing the familiar songs of Spring festivities and sighting the first of the shell-homes. They were quickly herded to Lord Swift and a council of Kyalassi’s Elders to discuss the grave threat of Renstake.

The story was laid out to the council in full and Elder Barlum was convinced that action needed to be taken immediately. With the help of the adventurers the council formed a strategy to use the dried subterranean river, the Whitewater, as a causeway for their seventy armed Rangers to gain access to Renstake. They would attack by night, taking the Nachtkreed guardhouse while the adventurers liberated the Holy Embrace Church of its evil and while Lychor simultaneously delayed the magicians of Arcanum Academy from entering the fray… so went the plan.

First they would have to navigate the Whitewater tunnel, and prior to that the party wanted to secure some decent arms for Umbar and A’ari and enjoy the evening’s festivities. And so that night was spent wheeling, dealing, laughing and dancing, for all except Aaaz, who spent the time studying and scribing with Lychor, building up his spellbook for the oncoming war.

At the lifting of the Gate the next day, the heroes and their entourage of seventy Nari rangers made for the tunnel entrance. The fine Spring weather offered no resistance to the morning’s travels and in no time they were at the wide cave entrance, preparing to wade through stagnant waters and meet whatever perils the tunnels would throw at them.

Thankfully there were few, if any, obstacles. A phalanx of Kobold golems guarded the northern tunnel but as the army was southbound they left the motionless wardens alone. Seeing as a Hill Giant corpse was beaten, broken and bloody at the feet of the golems this was just as well.

Later in the evening the group heard the final death throes of a party of Kobold adventurers in the distance ahead. Aaaz sent Snowl to investigate and witnessed vicariously a small family of trolls taking the Kobold corpses up into their little cavern homes. Hopeful that the trolls would think twice before attacking nearly eighty armed foes the army continued, and were proven right as they marched unhindered passed the caves.

Barely an hour later the group realised they were just half a mile from the Renstake gate. Softening their footsteps and calming their nerves they prepared themselves for war.



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