Isard was charged by the Necidian military to round up some mercenaries and investigate a Necidian outpost in Northwest Tarmalaine that had fallen out of contact.
An encounter with a dead human male, a rabid wolf and a rabid dog on the road had been the only real event of note during the party’s trip at first. The young elf ranger, Krezin, realized that something was wrong with one of Themisticles’s dogs, Titan, and quickly gathered some local herbs to prepare an old elven cure that helped the poor animal overcome the disease he had contracted. After the encounter, the party made it to the city of Tempus Breen, the trade center of Tarmalaine. There, the annual Autumn festival was about to be underway and the streets were packed with eager revelers. The party made their way to a decent inn led by a street rat that Verom had recruited for the task. The red-haired scarred lady was spotted in passing by Isard during their trek through countless side streets and alleys, and he warned the party that he had seen her before, at the East Tarmalaine Tavern. Perhaps odd, perhaps not, but she had been staring at them when they came into view, as if she were expecting them. During this time Isard had his purse filched. There was 124gp in it, which was what he was paying the party with. When he discovered this, after they arrived in their rooms, he let the party know and they split up in their tasks for the evening. Isard, Verom and Ralen went in search of the thief who stole Isard’s money and Krezin, Themisticles and Kayanlee sought information the red woman.
Ralen was certain it was a street rat (a child) that took the purse. First, however, the trio headed to a temple dedicated to Isard’s patron deity, Radriel the Dawnbringer. He explained the situation to the cardinal in private and requested a writ for 124gp in the event that they were unable to reclaim the lost money. Agreeing to help, the cardinal wrote out a writ to Isard that, if absolutely necessary, can be cashed in for the lost amount at any temple of Radriel. Once the backup plan was in place, the three headed out into the crowded streets where Ralen baited a child thief and chased him toward the cleric and the warrior. Isard and Verom made the street rat take them to a hideout. Ralen disappeared on the way, apparently having not returned since luring the street rat. At the hideout entrance, inside a dingy building, the street rat was interrogated and searched. Having found more than enough gold ON the child (who appeared to have been busy indeed), Isard took just 124g and a pouch, to replace what was lost. Verom lectured the street rat that we were just taking back what was stolen, and Isard made it clear that retaliation for the act would serve no purpose but to throw themselves in harms way. As we finished talking to the child, we heard footsteps outside the house. Verom and Isard hid as best as they could in the small closet as they let the street rat creep away into a hole that apparently led to their lair. they soon discovered that it was Ralen who had captured another child, this one a little older than the last. Ralen got the child to hand over something of interest he had found: a scroll case that makes one’s hand tingle if held that he stole from a “robed and extremely wealthy-looking individual who seemed to have come from one of the southern nations”. The trio took it and went back to the inn, leaving the street rats behind.
After they returned to the inn, the other group had just arrived and reports were exchanged. The mysterious woman appeared to be a high-class and extremely expensive courtier who had picked up a client during the search.
The scroll case was investigated by Isard and Kayanlee who agreed that it had been trapped with a dangerous fireball spell on it meant to destroy the contents while dealing as much damage as possible to its surroundings. The city is made mainly of wooden buildings, so, partly from curiosity, partly in the interest of public safety, Isard took Kayanlee and Themisticles to places around the city for experts to look at the scroll case to disarm it. In a temple dedicated to Artariel, the Elven Deity of Magic and the Spirit, Isard managed to attract enough attention to have a high ranking priest awakened from his rest in order to disarm the trap. A charge for the service was then claimed, but Isard convinced the high priest to reconsider by pointing out that lives would have been endangered had the scroll case’s trap not been tended to carefully. That point was acknowledged by the high priest, so the price was changed to a favor in service of the god of magic and Isard had no choice but to accept.
The party then traveled westward, past the ruins of Old Tempus Breen, where Verom displayed his knowledge of the world beyond just that of battle. He remembered having heard tales of the old city during the uprising against Nedrothian rule centuries ago. Old Tempus Breen had been defended to the last man by countrymen and even a few Algerothian wizards who had come in aid. The Nedrothian battalion, having superior battlefield experience and tactics as well as equipment, slaughtered the defenders, but were then forced to remain within the walls of the newly sacked city due to a sudden storm. It is said that the dead of Old Tempus Breen rose up that very night and continued the defense of the city even in death, taking all the living with them.
As such, the party veered away from the ruins and continued onward.
They eventually reached the Bastionwall Inn and Tavern, an old fort from the days of Nedrothian rule that has since become a fairly popular roadside stop for travelers. The old proprietor, a man well into his twilight years who apparently baked the most amazing spiced apple pies (and who charged an exorbitant amount of silver coins for a single slice) welcomed the travelers into his rather busy place. The party learned that most of the fort has been sectioned off away from public travel since only forty or so rooms were generally needed at a time. It was also discovered that soldiers – what passes for Tarmalanian soldiers, in any case – were privately hired by the old man to keep things safe within and without the fort.
After only one night at the old fort, the party set their sights north, keeping the mountain range to their north-west flank and the forests to their eastern side. One evening, they are feebly attacked by a trio of bandits (one who seemed a capable arcane caster). The party completely decimated the attack and even captured one of their number for interrogation. They learned that they were the only ones out of ten who decided to go through with the attack as they needed money; the others remained hidden within the forest. Isard had the bandit tied up and left him in Verom’s care for the journey to Tempus Vendul, where they immediately turned him in to the proper authorities (though not exactly without a few new bruises). There, they split up once again, with Isard, Krezin, and Themistocles of the party questioning the local brothel about the soldiers to the north and Verom, Kayanlee, and Ralen relaxing within the tavern they decided to stay in.
While the other two “questioned” some of the ladies in private rooms, Isard learned from the Madam that the soldiers did sometimes return to town for resupplying, and a couple of the soldiers would indulge themselves at the brothel. The last time the girls saw them was about a month before the rendezvous date. One of the soldiers had seemed distracted and muttered something about “troop movements near the Nedros/Tarmalaine border” that concerned his encampment.
With this knowledge, the party resupplied the next day and continued north, following some vague directions until Krezin, Verom, and Themistocles picked up the trail leading into the foothills at the base of the Bastionwall Mountains.
What they found was not at all what they expected.
Ten corpses littered the campsite, some burned but all killed by manufactured weapons that served to either pierce or slash through flesh (as Krezin learned from a perceptive diagnosis). An eleventh body was found a little higher up in a prime position to have served as lookout by Kayanlee’s bat.