26th of Summertide, year 1186 of the Age of Men
Our heroes’ grand tale begins in the most unlikely of locations: trapped in a dungeon and surrounded by (at the time) complete strangers. The gnomish minstrel Tadgh Boddynock O’Flarnaghan, Fuddorian Badnose of the Hollow Words orcs, and Sir Marius Gawain of the Green Knights awoke to find themselves locked in a dark cell along with Tharren Antares, a Shining Servant of Pelor.
It wasn’t long after the heroes’ waking that a kobold entered the dungeon, carrying a most foul-smelling gruel. The creature placed the gruel in the party’s cell and spoke to them in its draconic tongue. As luck would have it, Tadgh was well-learned in the language of the dragons, and was able to translate the creature’s guttural attempt at decent speech. The kobold insisted that the men eat the gruel, lest they invoke the anger of its master, Kybal the Scaled.
When all except Fuddorian refused to eat the rancid dish, the kobold became quite upset and attempted to snatch the food back from them. Sir Gawain, however, had quick reflexes and grabbed the kobold as it reached its hand into the party’s cell. The creature let out a yelp as it quickly wiggled free of the knight’s grasp and fell onto the floor, scrambling towards the door and calling for help. In its haste to escape, the small reptilian left behind its torch, the gruel… and a key.
The party quickly grabbed the key and freed themselves, just as the kobold returned with reinforcements. Though unarmed and unarmored, the party fought off the creatures, pushing them back into the adjacent armory and dispatching them. They also found their confiscated armaments and goods, which they hastily donned.
While equipping themselves, Tadgh told the party what he knew of Kybal the Scaled: that the man was an immensely powerful sorcerer and had been a plague on the Brown Hills and the surrounding regions, sending his minions to terrorize and raid caravans and settlements for nearly half a decade. Tharren also shared with the party, based off of the architecture and what he had seen of the outside area through windows in the armory, that he believed they were currently trapped within Dracinth Fort, a Rhestiloran fortress erected 400 years ago and abandoned for nearly three-quarters that.
After donning their equipment, the party headed into the kitchens, where they quickly dispatched several more kobolds and found a cellar containing barrels of famed Burrow Wine, a gnomish brew of high regard. Fuddorian insisted on escaping with one of the barrels and, hefting one over his shoulder, ran into the courtyard. Though Sir Gawain attempted to set the highly-flammable wine on fire in hopes of creating a makeshift bomb, Tadgh was quick to magically snuff out the flame, ensuring his chance at returning later and claiming the profitable wine.
The party was confronted in the bailey by, again, several more kobolds, one of them a shaman of sorts. Tadgh covered the rear and protected Tharren as Fuddorian and Sir Gawain charged the creatures, fighting valiantly and bringing down their foes. Meanwhile, Tharren made his way into the guard towers at the south end of the bailey, raising the portcullis blocking their escape.
It was then the Kybal himself descended from the balcony three stories above, flying towards the party and loosing his terrible magics upon them. Our heroes, of course, were quick to turn tail at this point, bolting out of the fortress and into the Brown Hills beyond.
Seeming to have lost the sorcerer after twenty minutes of running, the party slowed down to examine their surroundings. Before them stretched miles of low rolling hills covered in dried brush; behind, the hills gradually grew larger and larger until finally merging with the tall peaks and jagged edges of the Wyvernwatch Mountains.
Tharren told the party that this did indeed seem to be the location of Dracinth Fort as recorded in Rhestiloran histories, and informed them that a day’s travel west would take them to an oft-unused road. Following that road north for two to three days would take the group to the hamlet of Dauth, the closest settlement for nearly a hundred miles around. With no other options on the table, the party began their trek towards Dauth.
The summer heat beat down mercilessly as our heroes plowed through the Brown Hills, at one point finding themselves face to face with a group of Glanstili, a tribe of fierce dwarven barbarians who had been exiled from their ancestral homes. Quick wit and several thinly veiled threats saw the dwarves off without any trouble however, and before long the blistering heat of day was replaced by the simmering heat of night. The party camped out in the hills, and Tadgh even managed to convince a family of gophers to keep watch for the men so that they could all rest peacefully and regain their strength.