The Peering Eye

Achillies Valarianiad

Half-Elf Warlock 3 (Pact of The Tome)
Stats: Str 12, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 16.

Achillies Valarianiad (born AK495 Sign of The Eagle Nymph) is of great but mixed lineage.
His mother Lady Eurashall Valarianiad was an attache to the Elledrin Ambassador to Bigany. She had a clandestine and passionate affair with a Bigany Noble and became pregnant. Popular rumour held that the Noble was a Kinnett but there was an opposing theory that it was a Torc merchant. Once her pregnancy become known to the ambassador she was sent home


His mother trainied him in the ambassadorial craft and he displayed a natural talent, which earned him a position with the Elledrin diplomatic corps. He was never shunned but also never fully embraced by the Elledrin elves.


He started studying to be a warlock after a chance encounter with a tiefling from the City of Brass. He redirected his studies towards the Pact of The Great Old One after intervention and warnings by an Aisneis priest working for the Inquisition. He learned cantrips from the priest and from bards on the embassy staff.
A member of the embassy staff was a friend of the druid Rainlough of Koltham Forest and sent Achilles there to learn minor magics.

Personality Trait: I love mystery and intrigue.
Ideals: Kingmaker, a little touch here and there can topple empires.
Bonds: I love the sound of a pact being signed.
Flaws: Accuses others of actions he comitted.

Greylough

Human, Druid 3 (Circle of The Oak)
Stats: Str 12, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 13.

Greylough (born AK465-32 Sign of The Owl Sloth) was raised in Koltham Forest by his uncle Rainlough.
Benjamin Rainlough was an influential druid highly respected by the Great Council.
He never discussed with Graylough what happened to his parents, only to say that they were cast into a fiery fissure by an unknown malefactor.
He befriended a willow tree called Gruntle, who inspired him to follow a more ascetic lifestlye than his master wished.
They spent decades together looking for the bare necessities of life.

Personality Trait: Quiet and Contemplative, Thoughtful rather than rash. Believes that nature is the most powerful force of all.
Ideals: To live self sufficiently off the land. To spend time communing with nature.
Bonds: Wise former master Benjamin Rainlough and wise old tree Gruntle.
Flaws: Slow to react. Doesn’t always sense danger. Aloof.

Luxor Venomwrath

Green Dragonborn, Paladin 3 (Horned Knight)
Stats: Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 14.

Standing over seven and a half feet tall, weighing over 280 pounds, wearing a full suit of warpwood armor and a horned great helm Luxor is an imposing figure.
Unlike almost all other dragonborn, Luxor’s mother is a dragon and his father was a wood elf. However Luxor was raised by the druids of Koltham before he was sent to the Capua Fighting Academy in The Pirate Isles. He only rarely had contact with his mother who always expressed disappointment with his achievements and pushed him to do better. Venomwrath refuses to discuss his father with him other than the fact that he was an elf. The druids harnessed his green dragon tendency to love forests and indoctrinated him into the worship of Naduir. As soon as he came of age he took the Oath of The Ancients. He carries a great sickle, a rare druidic weapon used only by champions of nature.

His family has a dark secret. A wood elven border commando called Caitach Arnoriaian, defeated his mother, the dragon Venomwrath in single combat in her lair. He then restrained her and sired Luxor, before returning to the wilds. This is a constant source of shame for the dragon and is what causes her to treat Luxor cruelly at all times.

Personality Trait: Quiet killer. Dutiful. Obeys orders.
Ideals: Nature must be defended.
Bonds: His mother who is a sarcastic overbearing green dragon. The Druids of The Oak. Honoria. Elvenkind.
Flaws:  He has serious psychological issues: abondonment, oedipus, anger. Fataly overconfident.

 

Aipach Arnoriaian

Wood elf, Ranger 3 (Hunter)
Stats: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 8.

Aipach is an Elledrin border commando who takes his duty extremely seriously and likes to talk about it. "Back in Nam". He carries much guilt over a major failure in his past while fighting Torlandish forces in Namielath and as a result he has a deadly fixation on victory. He feels that wood elves are the most prefect creatures in the world and distrusts others to the point of xenophobia. He holds intense hatred for drow and for humans, particularly those from Torland.

His family has a dark secret. In order to prove his capabilities, his father Caitach Arnoriaian, defeated the dragon Venomwrath in single combat in her lair. He then restrained her and sired a child, before returning to the wilds.  Caitach has some very strange proclivities and has done the same with many foes. Few know of this.

Personality Trait: I once ran three days to warn of an invasion, but it was too late.
Ideals: If I dishonour myself I dishonour my unit.
Bonds: My unit is the most important thing in my life.
Flaws:  Slow to trust. Doesn’t like others. "But you're not an elf!"

Prologue: Shadow of The Drow

In which they discovered that Drow have been pouring out of Drilden, an elven mansion that had been abandoned for centuries.

Orcs, goblins and kobolds had been venturing deeper into the forest from both the north and south borders of Koltham.

 

Scene 1
Achillies was studying druidic cantrips with Graylough who had been assigned the task by his master. They were practicing Shillelagh. Goblins attacked. Achillies first eldritch blast blew a goblin raider to pieces in a forest clearing.

Scene 2
Rainlough sent them across the forest to investigate a clearing. There were four orc warriors there, slaughtering many animals. They appeared to be preparing for the arrival of more of their kind.
Greylough and Achillies used traps and forest craft to supplement their magic and cleverly defeat the orcs.
They found an odd assortment of coins on the orcs, Branchill silver, dwarven gold and drow coins.

Scene 3
Two goblins met a drow who gave them an instruction message hidden in a false scimitar pommel and 50gp in Elvish currency of Drow origin. They had difficulty defeating two goblins and the drow escaped using darkness.

Scene 4
A group of goblins and a boss arrived before the could follow the trail.
Using a nearby dolmen, witchbolt and thunderwave they barely managed to defeat them.

Scene 5
Achilles used his survival skills and Greylough changed into a panther to help them track the drow.
They followed his tracks to an abandoned elven mansion called Drilden.
Greylough saved and charmed a boar who had been hit with poisoned drow quarrel. He named him Truffler. Truffler loved truffles.

Scene 6
They fought and kill a trio of drow guards, then camped for the night.

Scene 7
They were ambushed by a Drider at night, who easily captured them for torture. He spun a web around them and hung them up for the torturers.
Aipach an elf border commando appeared and attacked the drider but it was far too powerful a foe and he was forced to make a tactical withdrawl.
A powerful warband including a priestess, a mage and a couple of elite warriors, appeared at Drilden and then followed the drider to the east.
Aipach sneaked into the camp where only a small number of guards has been left on duty and slayed them with stealth and guile.
Achillies talked him out of torturing the drow. Greylough charmed the prisoner instead and they found out that the matriarch of House Ger'iell'iell was behind the drow incursions.

Chapter 1: Logton

In which they travelled to Logton to warn the mayor against violating the forest and ended up saving the day.

Scene 1
Rainlough appeared from a tree and told them that there were serious threats arising in the woods. He instructed Greylough to tend to some of his druidic tasks while he focused on
Rainlough magically transported Greylough and Achillies through an Oak tree, to the border of Koltham on the Baiyar river. Aipach returned to his unit to report upon the drow incursion.

Greylough shapechanged into an elk and galloped toward the town with Achillies on his back. Then he changed into a cat to arrive in a more subtle manner. Logton had ten huge saw mills along the river but it should only have had eight. The most impressive building in Logton though was the 'The Golden Axe' a three storey inn in the main square.

Scene 2
They were subtle in their activity and so were not attacked by a few young idiots in the town hall 'The Golden Axe'. Instead Achillies made friends with the barman James Beermonger and he told them a lot of useful information about the mayor for a few gold pieces.
They spent the day investigating the town and identified that the town was over logging in defiance of the treaty with the druids.

Scene 3
They met the mayor and asked him nicely to curb the logging. Pierre Woodman incited his men to attack, saying that closing the mills would mean people would starve.
Achilllies cast crown of madness on the stongest of the thugs. Soon enough the terrified guards and the thugs were laid low by swinging shillelaghs.

They took the Mayor to the Church of The Moons temple and he swore by Croi and Nadúir and all of The Chosen to abide by the letter and spirit of the agreement. Greylough agreed with the Vedic that one of the sawmills would be turned into a nursery for new trees. The Vedic also recommended that the other sawmill should be converted to a flour mill. They also agreed to use Nadir’s power to improve the towns crops if the they adhered to the agreement. The Vedic promised to keep an eye on the situation.
Greylough and Achillies earnt the respect of the townsfolk.

Scene 4
They camped in the town's orchard feeling more at ease there than at the inn. Achillies casts an alarm ritual to protect them from a surprise attack.
Duergar slavers attacked that night using enlarge spells to attack the townsfolk and giant lizards to carry away them away in cages.
Greylough used thunderwave to wake the town and knock back the duergar.
They attacked the duergar in the centre of the town drawing the main fight from a beleaguered militia.
Greylough transformed into an Elk charged a duergar in the main street.
They killed six duergar and save some slaves, then healed the townsfolk gaining even more popularity. Their intervention saves many lives.
They then searched the area for clues to the duergar's purpose and for anything that might come in useful in their adventures.
The duergar are carrying drow elvish coin.

Chapter 2: Bullywugs

In which they encounter bullywugs, learn the fate of their master and forge alliances.

Scene 1 - Dire Warning
As the village was recovering from the attack Gruntle sent a rootling to warn Greylough that his master’s grove was under attack. All thoughts of sleep for the night were pushed aside but they had to take a short rest to bandage their wounds and those of the villagers. Then they set out for Rainlough’s grove. The best wishes and gratitude of the people of Logton went with them.

Scene 2 - Race to Rainlough
Greylough transformed into an elk and took Achillies on his back, then he set off at a gallop through the trees, making a beeline for the grove. Frantic with fear for his master Greylough nearly lost his way but his faithful companion and rider kept him on the right path using his elven woodsmanship and the stars in the heavens to guide them.
The elk’s body was a capable of great feats of fitness and Greylough pushed himself to run for hours, his fear for his master pushing him beyond what even a great stag could normally do. However his wild shape magic had it’s limits and they were forced to rest every few hours to regain both physical and magical strength.
Despite the difficult terrain choked with trees and thick bushes and the limitations of his body and his magic, Greylough covered most of the forty mile journey to the grove by late afternoon. Again they were forced to rest to recover their strength. They collapsed into an exhausted heap on the ground, not even setting up camp.

Scene 3 - Captured
A hunting party of bullywugs crept up silently through the trees and ambushed them. They launched a hail of spears into the camp at the exhausted travellers. They followed up by closing in with sloppy bite and crude spear attacks. Greylough and Achillies resisted bravely. They defeated two of their attackers and wounded more with tentacles of dark power and a trusty shillelagh. But bad luck and exhaustion took their toll quickly and they were overcome.
They woke up naked in a cage, bound hand and foot with four bullywugs around them. The two they had defeated were unconscious nearby still suffering. Greylough noted that these were primitive bullywugs probably from Black Frog Swamp and subjects of King Burglepoop XIV. A well trained diplomat, Achillies realised that this hinted at the king’s insecurity as he had picked a pompous title in a similar manner to King Darius Kinnett XIV of Bigany. He had deliberately chosen the same number, which he suspected was further aping the grandeur of Bigany. A fact, he mused, that might be useful if he survived his current predicament.
The bullywugs disassembled the crude cage and lashed three sides apiece to two giant frogs. They travelled for a few more hours before camping for the night and setting up the cage again. Not speaking the bullywug language Achillies decided that action rather than words was required. He also noted that because the bullywugs were primitive they had little healing skill and even less skill at rendering a warlock or a druid completely helpless. They bided their time and rested in the cage to gather their physical and magic strength. Then they struck back.

Scene 4 - Cage Fight
Only one bullywug was guarding the cage while the rest were performing menial camp duties. He lashed out with a scathing psychic attack using the cantrip vicious mockery. This caused the guard terrible mental and physical pain. He lashed out angrily at his caged assailant with his spear. Which is exactly what Achillies was hoping for. He summoned the power of The Great Old One using his pact magic and cast a hellish rebuke spell that incinerated the bullywug guard.

Greylough used this distraction to shapechange into a rat, escape his bonds and flee the cage. The bullywugs were not sufficiently distracted, and spied him as he ran through the camp. One jabbed him with a spear and his mouse form died instantly. He reverted to his naked human form.
Meanwhile the other bullywugs attacked the bound, caged and helpless Achillies with their spears and he was put down quickly.

Greylough spotted that his attacker had stolen his Bag of Tricks so he deftly darted forward, reached in and pulled out what he hoped would be a powerful animal ally. Glic, God of Tricksters, was again toying with him. The fur ball he pulled out turned into a giant rat. A poor combatant. He called upon Nadúir, assumed his elk form and rammed the bullywug with the bag, knocking him to the ground and trampling his skull to pulp.

The other bullywugs attacked him and his elk form was slain forcing him back into his vulnerable naked human form and surrounding him. He called on Nadúir to revive Achillies and then called on him again to strike his enemies with a wave of thunder. The bullywugs were blown across the camp by the powerful thunderclap and knocked out. But one managed to struggle to his feet and faced Greylough again.

Achillies revived by Greylough's magic attacked the remaining captor with vicious mockery, but this guard was made of sterner stuff then the others and he shrugged the pain away. Greylough summoned the venom of nature and sprayed it at his attacker, but fighting for his life and he desperately shrugged that off too. He stabbed Greylough with his spear. Achillies tried mockery again, but again it was shrugged off. Greylough picked up a flimsy piece of firewood and transformed it into a trusty shillelagh. He swung wildly at the bullywug but he blocked the blow with his shield.

The bullywug stabbed Greylough again and he collapsed, then he turned on Achillies. Brutally injured, naked, bound and caged, Achillies tried desperately to use his psychic powers on his attacker but he ignored his attempts. He attacked angrily in an attempt to skewer him but the bars of the cage deflected the thrust. This was the opening the warlock needed. He laughed at the clumsy spear thrust and his psychic attack rode along the bullywug’s anger at this mockery, past it’s mental defences and crushed them with psychic pain. He collapsed.

Achillies grabbed his assailant’s spear and cut himself free. He slashed the vines holding the cage together, escaped and ran to Greylough. The bloody druid was pale and his breath was shallow. His was slipping away from life. Achillies grabbed a vile bone container from a nearby bullywug and poured the disgusting black contents into Greylough mouth. The goblin black tar ripped through Greylough’s body, it’s violent magic forcing him back to life.

Scene 5 - Clues
After some heated debate over the fate of the bullywugs, Achillies used his healing magic to save the lives of the four bullywugs that were critically injured. Greylough branded them with a symbol of Nadúir so that their attack on a druid would not be forgotten.
They searched the bullywug camp and found that these invaders also had the now familiar drow currency. They also noticed that they had orc tattoos of a kind that lead them to deduce that the orcs were playing with the bullywugs in the same way that they would play with other inferior allies, such as goblins or kobolds. The equipment they examined in the camp revealed that they were travelling with drow as well as orcs.
When they examined their surroundings they realised that they had been taken many miles from their destination and were between the source of the Baiyar river and the source of a tributary of the Black Frog Swamp. There was no way they could continue their journey, as exhausted and wounded as they were, so they camped for the night. Achillies cast rituals to raise the alarm in case they were attacked. Mercifully they were not.

Scene 6 - The Grove
The following dawn, Greylough assumed his elk form again and they set out towards Rainlough's Grove. Gruntle helped them through his domain by moving branches and roots out of his way to allow swift travel and easy navigation. Greylough's elk form did not tire, galloping over many miles, thanks to Gruntle’s magic.
As they neared the grove they came across a group of four orcs and two drow who appeared to have been pulverised by what must have been powerful blows from hundreds of wooden clubs. This was Gruntle's work and they began to realise what a dangerous and powerful ally he was.
Then they looked to the sky and saw a few thin wisps of smoke curling into the sky. Greylough raced to the grove, his heart thudding and his stomach sick. The grove had been completely destroyed.
They examined the blackened ruins of the great trees and saw scores of burnt bodies scattered around. Bullywug, goblin and orc bodies were the most common but there was a large number of drow and some duergar too. The tracks in the nearby forest and the general destruction told a tale to Achilles' experienced eye. A small army had attacked the grove and had taken the druid. They had then headed to the Black Frog Swamp. It was not clear if Rainlough was still alive but it was clear that his last act had been to destroy his own grove. This meant that there must have been some powerful and vile wielders of magic in the attacking host, bent on corrupting the grove. Nothing else could explain a druid committing such an extreme and destructive act.

Scene 7 - Council
They were still trying to absorb the extent of the catastrophe when Gruntle arrived. It was unheard of for Gruntle to leave his domain. But given the extent of this clamaity he had felt that he needed to speak to Greylough in person. Also he had a companion to introduce.
A huge figure strode into the smouldering grove, the misty blackness curling around his muscular frame, his antlers seeming to glide above the eerie grey fog. This was how they met Luxor Venomwrath Champion of Nadúir. He explained that the druids had honoured him with the task of protecting Greylough in these dangerous times.
As if the hand of Nadúir was guiding them all, Aipach arrived shortly afterwards. He had been tracking the drow host on behalf of the Elledrin border commandos. Greylough and Gruntle both decided not to comment on the fact that he was hundreds of miles from the border. It was a time for forging alliances not sowing discord.
Aipach decided that he would join forces with the druid’s party while their interests were aligned. He also felt that the ambassador was in grave danger and needed some military protection. Having been captured and almost slain, Achillies was not inclined to argue.
Gruntle advised them to track the host to see if they could rescue Rainlough, but not to engage it directly as it was far too dangerous. He told them that they were safe while they were in his domain, but he couldn't protect them outside it.

Chapter 3: Tracking Rainlough

In which they wreak havoc upon bullywug patrols and open negotiations with King Burglepoop XIV.

Scene 1 - Aipach’s way
They set off towards the swamp. Aipach tracked the host through the woods and soon found a patrol of bullywugs had been left behind to discourage pursuit. He warned the rest of the party and they decided to turn the tables on the cowardly ambushing bullywugs. This time it was the party that caught the bullywugs unawares. Fast as a forest cobra, Aipach dashed into the clearing, his elven blade flashed in the sun and then plunged deep into a bullywugs face skewering it’s brain and killing him instantly. Aipach spun around and stabbed both his weapons into another bullywug’s chest. It died before it hit the ground.
Luxor’s heavy armoured steps pounded into the bullywug camp. He called upon Nadúir to lend his great sickle the deadly power of nature and with all his might he smashed the golden weapon into a bullywug’s side. The bullywug’s insides exploded as he was sliced bloodily in half. The power of Nadúir immediately caused plants to grow in the wounds of the dead creature. Small blue flowers took root and blossomed instantly everywhere that the blood had spilt.
This stunning display distracted the only remaining bullywug which allowed Greylough’s panther form to pounce onto him. Powerful fangs and claws rent the bullywug. The panther’s instincts were fuelled by Greylough’s rage and he worried the body savagely for several minutes until the red mist subsided. Luxor watched Greylough until he was finished and then nodded once.

Scene 2 - Luxor’s way
They debated the merits of attempting to use Achillies’ diplomatic skills with the bullywugs for several hours. Luxor became extremely agitated when the debate became heated and snarled "Don’t argue," before storming into the forest. Greylough and Achillies decided that they needed more information and so they sent Aipach to find more bullywugs so that they could take a prisoner and interrogate him.
Aipach found a camp of six bullywugs and two giant frogs. This patrol was more alert and they were spotted as they approached. They sent one of their number to warn the rest of the bullywug army. He leapt on to the back of a giant frog and fled. Greylough the panther sped after him but before he could reach him Achillies blew the frog rider to smithereens with an eldritch blast and Greylough was drenched with gore. Aipach slashed and jabbed left and right darting through his enemies as befitting a highly trained horde breaker.
Luxor breathed poison gas over his enemies and waded into battle. Then one of the bullywugs made the mistake of thrusting a spear past Luxor’s armour and into his flesh. Luxor snarled in pain and looked slowly down at the blood pouring from the wound under his arm. With barely suppressed emotion in his voice he quietly beseeched Nadúir to allow him to channel His power. The mighty killing blow meant to butcher the bullywug missed. Luxor screamed in frustration. The roar was laden with Luxor’s past and it was fearsome. His bullywug opponents blanched, dropped their weapons and fled. The great sickle arced into the air several feet above a fleeing bullywug’s head. Luxor plunged it into the top of the bullywug's skull so powerfully that the tip stuck fast in it’s spine. Still fuelled by the wrath of his namesake Luxor drew a hunting blade from his back and used his ancient oath magic to compel the last bullywug into a duel. He strode forward and chopped it’s head off.
Aipach and Greylough ran down the rest. Aipach was level headed enough during the battle to keep one bullywug alive so they could interrogate it.

Scene 3 - Achillies’ way
Achillies called on the power of The Great Old one and used rituals he had learnt during his time with a priest of Áisnéis in the diplomatic corps to allow him to temporarily communicate in bullywug. Aipach slapped the prisoner awake. It looked completely terrified. Greylough used the beguiling power of the sylvan forest to make it believe that they were friends.
The bullywug grasped the peril of his situation impressively quickly, “What do I need to do to get out of this alive?”
Achillies switched into a diplomatic gear. “We need you to answer some questions and then deliver a message to the king. We will even throw in a few silver for you.” Once he heard this the bullywug, whose name was Trilburp though no one asked, was eager to help.
They learned a few interesting facts; The bullywug king Burglepoop XIV was trying to impress the drow leader, who they surmised was a Ger’iell’iell priestess, she had persuaded the king that the druids would only respect the bullywugs if he showed his military power, the drow had given the king valuable looking objects as a sign of respect and to gain his aid.
They asked Trilburp to deliver a message, “The Ambassador of Elledrin wants to discuss future relationships with the bullywug king,” and paid him a handful of silver to present fifty gold pieces to the king as tribute.

Scene 4 - Greylough’s way
Greylough said that the drow were "a bit dry behind the ears!" which turned out was hilarious to bullywugs. Trilburp laughed uproariously at that.
Upon release he jumped away and stopped a few hundred feet from them. He croaked loudly in a complicated pattern and soon a series of other froglike voices repeated the pattern. The sounds echoed deep into the swamp. A few minutes later a response came back through the bullywug communication system, from the king.
Trilburp relayed the kings messages. The king said that if they gave another one hundred gold in tribute that they could have an audience and they could ask Rainlough a question for proof of life. They agreed and Greylough told them to ask Rainlough what sign he was born under. Rainlough responded with the sign of The Owl Nymph instead of the correct answer the sign of The Owl Sloth.
Something was amiss, but what?