The adventurers spent a quiet night in an inn in Darrow then set out the next day. As they were leaving the city, Ghaz, the Azer that they had rescued in the mines, met them at the gate and informed Finnan that he was going to the dwarven city of Arhaz with another miner he had met, and that he had modified a suit of hide armor using his elemental craftsmanship as thanks. He gave the Elderhide Armor +2 to Finnan, and the party set out across the windswept hills of the northern Wold.
A day and night passed uneventfully, and the morning dawned clear and cold. A few hours into their ride, Ka’eo spotted a plume of dust rising from the rolling hills to the north. It was evident before too long that it was heading in roughly the same direction as their path was taking them, and the party decided to find out what was causing it. Setting a course to intercept the unknown group, they spied a band of gnolls, large enough that it would be unwise to engage them. After distracting them with Finnan’s sleight of hand, the adventurers remounted their horses and sped off ahead of the gnolls towards where they knew the town of [[ Lyre-on-Heath]] lay. They reached the outskirts of the village not far ahead of the gnolls and set about providing a defense.
Aided by the villagers and their impromptu defenses they routed the gnolls and the village was saved. Yay! They were offered what little Lyre-on-Heath had to spare and Mayor Brigsby gave them a hero’s send-off as they continued northwards towards the mountains.
Evening was drawing near when they passed a hole in the side of a hill as they passed. Being eager for adventure, they went inside and found an old barrow. Curiously, any metal fixtures had been rusted away, and the trail of rust left them in no doubt that a Rust Monster had made its lair inside. Ever bold (or foolhardy) they tracked down and engaged the beast, defeating it handily. Much to the dismay of Quinlin, however, as he plunged his sword into its back, the blade dissolved away. He was able to recover its residuum after the monster lay dead, but it was of little consolation. What is a swordmage without his sword?
They reached the shores of a great black lake as dusk fell, from which the flows of the Nightwash spilled out over the chilled ground towards its meeting with the Ire in the south.
The following morning they set out up into the mountains and reached a broad plain on the mountain’s side where strange towers jutting out of the ground marked the location of Nezeregit. It didn’t look like any ruin they had seen before – the towers seemed to spring straight out of the ground with no visible way to enter or exit. The headed up the slope towards the tallest of the towers, and saw that it had a broken top. As they hiked up to the base of this tower, they saw a Griffon attack a group of Hippogriffs and crash down onto the sward in front of them. Quinlin ran up to beasts and began attacking the griffon – too late noticing that it was already wounded, and that it appeared to be attempting to retrieve a clutch of eggs from the hippogriffs. The griffon was chased off, and two of the hippogriffs also retreated towards the cliffs, leaving one hippogriff left spellbound by Quinlin’s mastery of the arcane. He subdued it and rode it to the top of the cliff next to the broken spire, where it left him.
To be continued!