With Nuras captured along with the Sage of Steepleton (Adair Hollingberry) the group needed to save him and to that end they assembled a strike force of their recent allies.
Zara – the woman Nuras taught to fight joined the battle. Her husband had died back in Steepleton and the only thing she had left was her training and a sense of loyalty to the person who taught her how to fight.
Sir Patrick Paddington – A knight of the Order of Illumination sent to help them fight the bandits of Steepleton it was Sir Paddington’s duty and honor to help them recover their missing ally and (more importantly) save the Sage.
Holly Moorwalker – Holly is a young woman acquainted with Eileen of the Earthmother. She is a skilled tracker and has a keen knowledge of woodlore but her abilities in combat are (in her words) “not her forte.” Despite her inadequacy in battle it was her knowledge of the geography of Caedwyr that would lead them to the encampment of the Warsoul.
The battle was joined mid-day deep in Ann’s Wood. Sir Paddington is ambushed by a group of hobgoblins right outside the encampment and Alois goes to his aid as Zara and Holly scramble towards them. As the dust falls Cherin and Alleron appear as another large force of Hobgoblins makes itself known. 9 of them, 3 barking orders at the rest, make their way towards the group in orderly formation. The battle was furious but quick (thanks in large part to Alleron casting a spell that doubled Alois’s height and gave him the strength of a giant) and the heroes emerged relatively unscathed as they hear more fighting coming from the camp.
The sounds of fighting come from deeper into the forest and they can hear Nuras shout a warcry and the litany of death echoes throughout the forest.
Through the trees they saw tents and a large bonfire circled by lanterns filled with flickering blue flame and within that circle of lanterns, illuminated by rays of sunlight and the bonfire, was Nuras as he battles five hobgoblins at once.
They ran towards him as he ducked and weaved his natural agility and his stolen dagger a grave menace to the hobgoblins. Zara ran in, leaping the bonfire and cutting down a hobgoblin with her shortsword only to be laid low by another who took the opportunity to smash his axe into her face.
Screaming, “Zara!” Nuras whirled at her attacker and nearly severed the hobgoblin’s head with his dagger. Then a blast of heat warmed his body as Cherin Nailo arrived into the fray a gout of fire bursting from his lips and enveloping two hobgoblins who scream as the flames engulf their bodies.
Giant Alois stomps into the fray and swings at one of the last hobgoblins still standing but his swing gets fouled by one of the canvas tents and brings the whole tent down. Cherin rushes after it and burns it with dragonfire as Nuras cuts down the last of the hobgoblins and the group takes a few seconds to breathe as Nuras runs for his stuff, pulling his cloak of resistance, his kamas, and the rest of his equipment out of a crate near the Warsoul’s tent right as Cherin Nailo’s keen ears pick up booted feet coming towards them from the northwest.
After only a few seconds three more hobgoblins appeared. Two disfigured, female hobgoblins draped in red robes a male hobgoblin covered in burns wearing a chain shirt and swinging a glowing spiked chain. In a battle involving magically conjured webbing and rolling balls of fire (and a dash of magic missiles) the party was beaten up pretty badly before two of the hobgoblins had fallen while the third, one of the female casters, ran off into the forest.
Nuras and Alois dug through the tents for information (and treasure) whiel Cherin burned the ones they’d finished with. Inside the Warsoul’s tent they found a map of the island marked with three strange runes, a hidden compartment with three potions, and the Warsoul’s spell book.
As they dug around the encampment Cherin’s ultra-hearing once again picks up what others miss: the sound of many booted feet once again coming towards them from the north-west.
A figure in blood-red robes moves through the trees towards them, surrounded by 8 well-armored hobgoblins. The figure is a monstrous, twisted mockery of its fellows. Slighter but vastly more terrifying than the other hobgoblins, all of its exposed skin has been scarred repeatedly and sigils of scar tissue criss cross every inch that they can see. A staff of twisted black wood rests in its withered hands and its eyes dance wickedly like coals from beneath its hood.
The figure, the Warsoul, started the battle with a bang as an explosion of fire erupts in the middle of the encampment. In the battle that follows Cherin and the Warsoul exchange fire and lightning blasts and the Warsoul wounds Cherin grievously with a lightning bolt. Nuras and Sir Paddington trade blows with the Warsoul as its followers are picked off one by one. The Warsoul calls forth rays of fire and they crash into Nuras and Sir Paddington and the flames are too much for the already wounded paladin as he collapses with a cry to the ground, dead.
The Warsoul betrays its cowardice (or tactical sense) as it takes to the air, flying through the canopy and away as the last of its allies dies.
After the battle the beleaguered team mends what wounds they can, especially Cherin who is barely able to stand after the Warsoul’s devastating attack, and gather Sir Paddington’s cooling body. Adair Hollingberry, the Sage, warns them that the Hobgoblins were using a nearby barrow and they go to investigate… in case any more hobgoblins lurk in the shadows.
The barrow is a large circular, grass-covered hill with a stone-reinforced entrance on the southern side and a narrow, spiraling stairway that leads down into the cool earth. The walls of the barrow are stone and etched with strange script and runes which Alleron and Adair identify as an ancient human language from a wintry land called Egas.
They discover the barrow is empty of hobgoblins but filled with hobgoblin supplies: weapons and armor, food and water (especially pickles), strange smelling casks of chemicals, a barrel filled with rolls of ancient parchment, and three crates filled with ancient coins: two filled with silver and the other filled with gold.
Alleron identifies the coins as coming from the Cumbrian Empire and are several hundred years old.
Of course silver is silver and gold is gold and between them all the party manages to carry Sir Paddington’s body and the coins through the forest and back towards Harborage.
Night falls before they can reach the port town, however, and they camp several miles north to avoid the magic of Ceatharn Woods as it now encompasses much of the land around the town.
4th of Elembiuos
In the early morning they make it to Harborage and Cherin and Alleron (along with Holly) immediately go to visit with Eileen Cassidy to avoid the Order of Seropaenes while Nuras, Alois, and Zara bring Sir Paddington’s body to Sunguard Chapel where they meet with Templar Evander who explains to them that they will more than likely be called on to seek the source of the magic in the forest and end it. All others who have been sent in have failed to uncover the source or disappeared altogether.