A group of outlaws, outcasts, and soldiers-of-fortune turned heroes fight against the domination of the North by the new High Sword of Luskan and an apocalyptic cult worshiping primordial evils. Six ancient weapons can free these chained elemental beings, and only the heroes stand between the relentless Sigryn Stormborn and her goal. They will face bands of goblins, orcs, lizard-folk, giants, and even worse as the savage creatures of the North rise to her call. Will these rag-tag heroes be enough to save the civilized North? Or will the lands north of Baldur's Gate be known as the Savage North once more?

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Found on a crumpled, half-disentigrated note:
Notes to self:

  1. Research weird water curses.
  2. Or ask Ella until I get an answer straight enough to understand.
  3. Ask if the copper I pulled out is cursed.
  4. See if other ways we can go have weird cursed statues too
  5. Or if I just got really unlucky
  6. Oh fuck behol

Found nearby first note, written in Gnomish:

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck (the note continues as such for the rest of the page - Ed.)
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On the road again, finally
It feels so good to be out walking in the mountains again. After all this time wandering around giant strongholds and flying in a different giant castle, being able to stretch my legs and just wander around again has made me very happy.

I don't dare let my friends know. It would ruin my reputation.

I would have preferred Syndri around to help navigate, as I've never seen him get lost, but my magic north-seeking rod helped me get out of a few confusing jams and my ability to scale pretty sheer cliffs helped me avoid a few more. It took a few days, but we managed to make it to some really pretty glades with no real difficulty.

And wouldn't you know it, there are monsters in the glade. They looked like dwarves and attacked Rurik when he approached*, but then invited us for dinner as dinner and it just deteriorated quickly.

But with the weard chimera-minotaur-Cocaine_Wizard-looking things dispatched, we've got a nice little grove to ourselves. It's enough to make me less interested in finding the whatever it is we're looking for** and more interested in finding who claims these mountains. I wonder if they'll accept a bag of holding full of gold in exchange for the whole range?

* A normal thing to do for any sentient creature, dwarf or not.

** It's probably a weapon. Krush is interested in it so it's probably a weapon and he'll probably try to take it for his own and Blackrazor is going to yell at him for it and then we'll get a half hour of peace and quiet as Krush yells back in his own head. Please be a weapon.
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Parts 7 & 8
The group crept forward as quietly as they could to the vast cavern Ambrie had scouted. They were not quiet enough. A voice, deep and terrible, echoed from a ledge at the far side of the chamber. The ancient red dragon introduced itself as Imvaerharhro - Inferno for short - and Soren recognized the name. He was one of the mightiest dragons of the North, and a terror for more than a thousand years. The dragon offered them their lives if they left their weapons and treasures behind. Though Hornbeast was willing, the rest were not, and the dragon took wing from his hidden ledge.

The battle was fierce and unpredictable. Orosius was crippled by dragon-fear, and despite his speed, Krush could not close with the mighty dragon. Even as Inferno blasted the group with his fiery breath, a quartet of salamanders rose from the pools of magma dotting the chamber. Blasts of scalding, poisonous gasses rose from fumaroles scattered across the cavern floor, and the dragon called up gouts of magma from the stone. A mighty spell-caster as well as a ship-sized killing machine, the dragon unleashed blasts and walls of flame, and evoked a fiery claw that grabbed at his foes. Soren, Ella, and Rurik initially stayed back to offer spell-casting support (along with Sindri, firing his magical bow), while Krush, Orosius, Hornbeast, and Ambrie ran forward to engage the beast. The battle-lines quickly shifted however, and Hornbeast and Ambrie engaged the dragon on the cavern floor while Krush, Rurik, and Orosius struggled down from the ledge where the dragon's hoard lay.

"I'll take all your treasure! And a side order of fries! And make it snappy!!!"

The monk was a cagey foe, dodging claws, bite, and tail as best he could, while launching well-placed blows and joints and vulnerable spots, both with his magical rod and his mighty fists and feet. It was enough to keep the dragon off-balance, unable to take wing or react to opportunities in combat. Wounded by his blows, the halfling's sword of light, and the spells and arrows of the elf wizard and the gnome ranger, Inferno sought to flee with part of its hoard, which was loaded on a sturdy old rowboat in the upper cave. Despite his speed and power, Ella was able to interpose herself and stun the dragon with a word of power. Reeling and unable to move, the dragon fell prey to Orosius and the trident Wave, slain even as its escape was in sight!

The heroes rested, counting the dragon's loot quickly and with a practiced eye, mostly thanks to Ambrie. After the halfling thief had appraised most of the precious stones, jewels, and objects of art, she took off to explore the ledges on the far side of the cave. She found a series of winding tunnels filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. Ambrie saw three squid-headed, mauve-skinned humanoids in dark, shiny leather clothes. She tried to sneak back to the group, but was caught in the psychic blast they unleashed as they crept forward, invisibly.

"Um, this barbarian has diet brains. I specifically ordered regular brains. Can I talk to the chef?"

The wave of psychic energy dazed and stunned a few of the heroes, but Krush and Orosius charged the ledge and were on them. One fell quickly, despite grabbing the momentarily-stunned barbarian with his facial tentacles as their saw-like bone spurs sawed into his head and attempted to reach his brain! Ambrie darted back and forth between them, and Ella reached the ledge, blasting them with arcane energy. The leader of the trio surrounded Krush and Orosius with an unbreakable bubble of psychic force, only to fall to the warlock's eldritch blasts. The remaining mind flayer grabbed his fallen leader and shifted to the astral plane, escaping.

Meanwhile, the invisible, tentacled horror they called up had appeared amidst the rest of the heroes in the cave, and Soren, Rurik, Sindri, and Hornbeast were hard-pressed to fight the abomination. It grabbed at them with ropy tentacles and tore at them with dagger-like teeth even as it blasted the quartet with lightning and other energies. But the monk's enchanted rod and powerful fists, along with the wizard's spells and the ranger's blade, proved to be its downfall. What was left appeared briefly, its indescribable form quickly dissolving into fetid corruption.

[I]I'm pretty sure they identified the invisible stalking horror as a "nope" usually found in "we're never gonna go there."[/I]

With that horror defeated, the heroes followed a passage north from the dragon's cave on the ground level, and it led into another large cave. Ledges on the far side stood 40 feet high and looked down onto the floor, where large rock pillars stood opposite a massive, orange crystal formation, which resembled nothing so much as a column of fire. A curtain of flame shimmered and roared on the far side, blocking any exit. As the heroes made their way in, a group of drow rose from the ledge on the far side in ambush, but the trident Wave warned Orosius and his companions. Even as they laid down walls of fire, blade barriers, and fireballs on the group, a trio of fire giants - one a priest of some sort -emerged from the curtain of flame.

The battle was brief but intense, and Orosius and Krush engaged the giants. The priest used some magic to draw both into the fiery crystal, where they could not moved and were scoured by flame, but both managed to escape. Hornbeast, Soren, Ella, Ambrie, and Sindri dealt with the drow, while Rurik advanced on the giants, Whelm singing its death-song for them.

With these enemies defeated, Ambrie scouted the cliff above and found web-filled tunnels leading back to a sleeping area for the drow. The group made their way through, but realized they had set off an eldritch alarm of some kind. Making their way back, Orosius peered through the curtain of flame and saw a vast cavern, one bisected by a river of magma spanned by a basalt bridge. Soren dispelled the wall of fire, and the group raced ahead. A group of drow waited there, along with three more fire giants, a human wizard (no doubt the turncoat they had learned of) and an armored orog who was doubtless his bodyguard.

Drow - bringing sexy back to evil.

The drow high priestess they had fought before was there - Eclavdra, she introduced herself as - and she swore they would not interfere with the Elder Eye's plans! With that, battle was joined. A pair of salamanders rose from the magma along with something else - a rune-scarred fire giant of gargantuan size, one with skin like iron. This rune giant proved to be a fearsome foe, his giant blade scything through the heroes even as magical symbols and spells blasted from his enchanted hide!

The battle was fierce and the heroes nearly fell, but in the end, the giants were slain, the drow routed, and the high priestess lay dead. The group recovered the magical dagger Flame from the rune giant's care, and it was presented to Ambrie. They opted to leave, their objectives of defeating King Snurre's forces, routing the drow, and recovering the magical blade fulfilled. They returned to Phandaliin, got their rewards from the elf king Melandrach and the storm giant lord Krommbolt. As to what would come next...only the gods knew. But Sigryn Stormborn was still a threat, and would have to be dealt with someday soon...
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I know we're badass, but this is ridiculous.
So we go looking for this "giant red dragon" that Ambrie found, and what do we find? An ancient red dragon. Teach me not to listen to her. I figured I'd worship Tiamat best by just leaving my treasure to it, but then the other guys didn't want to, and then I thought that Tiamat would probably also like me proving my strength by fighting it, and the moral of the story is that Chaotic gods are weird.

Pictured: The dragon, in all its terrifying glory. As painted by Kip the kobold, age 6 weeks.

So yeah, that was one hell of a fight. I managed to keep the stupid dragon from moving too much, which would have been fine if either Krush or Orosius had joined me. I know it's big and scary and stuff, but both of those guys thought the best thing to do would be to stay on the opposite side of the cavern muttering about "when it comes near". Krush was even hiding behind a wall, if you can believe it! Some big shot barbarian he is, hiding while the three smallest party members engaged the big mean dragon. I gotta hand it to Sindri, Ella, and Soren, though, dropping some serious magical might even after that fight against the trolls.

But you know, that wasn't the worst part of the last hour? We're minding our own business and appropriating the dragon's hoard, when all of a sudden Ambrie comes in yelling about tentacles or some shit. I figure it's another one of Ella's friends when I get grabbed by some invisible thing or another. It comes along and grabs everybody but Orosius and Krush, who have again "heroically" gone off to fight the danger that is conveniently around a safe corner. Way to make yourselves look tough again, guys! Bet those mind flayers didn't know what hit them, especially after they got a sip of Krush's booze brain.

This is how I figure Krush saw the mind flayers through his beer goggles. Picture by Donra the kobold, age way too old to still be drawing things this strange.

Honestly, that dead one was probably the best off. Gods know I wouldn't want to ingest any part of Krush, and I'm immunie to alcohol poisoning.
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 6
Having rested for a brief moment, the group went back to investigate the iron cages hanging from the basalt bridge up the passage back the fire giants' dungeon. As before, the passage opened up, becoming a bridge over an 80-foot deep cavern that ended in what appeared to be a pool of liquid hot magma. Orosius, Hornbeast, and Krush moved up and the itinerant monk began to crank up one of the cages. He heard a cry from below...and something else. Eerie, inhuman screams echoed up as did the flapping of many, many wings.

Suddenly, four giant-sized skulls wreathed in flame flew up into view, accompanied by swarms of what appeared to be bats composed of living fire. The giant flame-skulls began casting spells, blasting the party with fireballs and scorching rays, while they countered spells cast at them. The firebats swarmed the group, biting and clawing with licking flames all about, threatening to ignite whatever they touched. Sindri and Ambrie darted about, peppering their foes with arrows, while Ella, Soren, and Rurik threw spell after spell to seemingly no avail. Krush and Orosius tore at the swarms with their weapons, and though their blows took down many firebats, more yet seemed to take their place. Indeed, one of the flameskulls used its magic to hurl Orosius to the magma far below. Only his efreeti-wrought armor saved him from certain death, though the four fire giant guards that emerged from nearby caves were nearly his doom. Krush was bold enough to swing down and fight alongside him, Blackrazor hewing the giants down, and their stolen vitality enough to keep him alive until he was rescued by Soren.

They were about as bad-ass as they looked.

Eventually, the tide turned. Rurik called up Moradin's holy power, and forced two of the flameskulls to withdraw, while Ella banished one of the others. The last fell, while the swarms were finally torn to shreds. With great care and teamwork, the group coordinated a series of attacks on the remaining flameskulls, leaving naught but shattered fragments in their wake - save one that Soren, necromancer supreme, had brought under his control.

With that threat dealt with, they finished pulling up the cage. Inside was a rather dehydrated looking gnome named Keak. He stated he was a scout, and that he'd accompanied a band of elvish adventurers trying to find Princess Moonshadow and return her safely home. He knew Fonkin from days gone by, and stated he would travel with the group. The elf swordmage and the dwarf knight, Dram Blighthammer, had been badly wounded however, and agreed to accompany Keak back to the upper level, stating they would come looking for the heroes if they had not heard from them in a day's time.

As the group rested for a moment, Ambrie and Sindri crept downstairs from the cave where the driders had set up their lair. The duo found cavern passages far below, and one led to a cul-de-sac filled with lava. Another led back to the magma chamber where Krush and Orosius had slain four fire giants. Yet another set led into a massive, stinking cave. The stench came from carrion...and from trolls. Dozens, by the look of the place. The two diminutive adventurers crept back up the stair, a curious troll with a keen nose nearly on their trail! Upon hearing this, Orosius wasted no time. Best to kill them now, and be done with it!

Yup, they had cave trolls!

So Orosius led the others below, and marched headlong into the troll warren. A massive troll war-chief in plate armor wielding a wicked-looking greataxe awaited them. Negotiations quickly broke down, and the battle was on. The party was surrounded by trolls - including massive mountain trolls, scaled cave trolls, and two-headed trolls! Mighty magics were called down, and Rurik, Soren, and Ella smote them with fireballs and more.

The battle raged, but in the end, the trolls were burned down and the troll chief slain, his adamantime armor and Axe of Sharpness now trophies. As they bound wounds, Ambrie crept ahead to the next cavern. Looking down, she saw beyond a ledge, a massive chamber filled with sulfurous geysers and a second, higher ledge on the far side. Something massive on it stirred...a red dragon, larger than any the halfling thief had ever seen!
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