It’s been three months since the Stormseye Insurgents rescued the hundreds of passengers who were headed for the Umbra Isles. There were dinners held in their honour and many came to know them, if only by name alone. They even met Oloret Stoor, the hero of Halgard who’s own efforts have saved thousands.
For the first month of this time, our heroes and many others lived in tent cities dotted along the coast near where they landed, whilst the battle-ready folk worked to clear the cities for habitation. This was hard work; most of the streets and houses had become home to wild animals or, in some cases, small tribes of kobolds. As the soldiers cleared the areas, others came in to clean up. There was a general feeling of community in the air, and everyone seemed willing to do their part.
Atredia is a little ways inland, and has already garnered the name the City of Pious souls. It seems it was a city of many temples and, as such, many devout deity worshippers have flocked there to reconnect with their guides.
New Caldera is the third and largest city that has been cleared. It has been named the new capitol, and most likely served the same use back when it was inhabited by native Calderans. It is the home of the burgeoning new government, and is where Oloret Stoor hangs his hat.
Not everyone has seen fit to inhabit one of these cities, however. Many have struck inland, either alone or in groups, with the purpose of exploring Caldera for themselves. Some want gold and glory, whilst others just want a quiet place for themselves; especially many who lived in the wilderness back on Halgard.
There is talk of a settlement called Jack’s Corner, which from all reports is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, where all manner of thief and cutthroat has migrated to. If such a place exists, however, it has not yet been found by officials.
There are also rumours of black skinned elves attacking some of the more remote settlements. This may be just talk, of course, as everybody knows that the elves fled to Halgard back in the day with the rest of the Calderans – and who ever heard of a black-skinned elf?
For three months our heroes busied themselves about Caldera, following their own paths. Calitris had headed into the wilderness, looking for evidence of that rumoured cesspool of Jack’s corner. Thoradin elected to stay with the cities, helping to clear them out put his hammer to work rebuilding. Ell remained in the shadows, gathering information and keeping her head down, whilst Oranna and Keridwen adopted more scholarly pursuits, learning and teaching respectively.
Time came, however, and they were all called together once again. A message from Balar summoned them to New Caldera where, it seems, they were to be sent somewhere else. After a brief reintroduction, Balar informed them that the, now renowned Stormseye Insurgents, were required on the frontier. There was evidence from a Halfling archaeologist leading officials to believe that the fabled Hand of Agaman may be located somewhere in that region. And, while morale had been reasonably high since the Halgardian refugees landed on Caldera, Balar and others had decided that having the Stormseye Insurgents on the case certainly couldn’t hurt in that respect. He also told them to look out for ‘dark skinned elves’ that had, from all reports, been attacking wilderness settlements.
As they left, they were stopped by Bartholemew Trusk, an old ally from the Stormseye. He had heard that they were headed west, to the small town of Winterhaven. It just so happened that he had a friend there who had troubles of her own. There had been two apparent murders in the town, and many people were on edge. It was enough that they had to deal with everything else going on around them, but now there might be a killer in their midst!
Agreeing to look in on Trusk’s friend, our heroes left New Caldera for the wilderness. They didn’t have to go out of their way to find trouble, as well. After four days journey along roads that were just now coming back into use, they came across a sickening sight. Five of the dark-skinned elves that had been warned about milled around a corpse on the road. The two parties got into an argument, something that wasn’t helped by the fact that the enemy elves didn’t seem to speak a language anyone understood. They captured the curious Oranna, putting a sword to her belly and kicking her to the ground. This was enough for Calitris who attacked. The battle was long and hard – the enemy elves were a fierce force and were headed by a priestess of some sort who was merciless enough to explode one of her own wounded men into a swarm of biting spiders. Thoradin almost fell, were it not for the restoritive powers of Oranna’s elixers.
The young wizard further saved the day after putting some of the enemies to sleep whilst Calitris and Ell chased the fleeing priestess down. She fell soon before their blades, claws, and the residual energies of Keridwen’s blast of divine flame. Thoradin, meanwhile, mopped up the rest of the elves – though one did manage to escape to parts unknown. They quickly tied the sleeping elf before examining the body on the road – much to the horror of the party, they quickly realised the body belonged to Nic, their fellow Stormseye Insurgent! The grotesque sight of his internals spilling onto the ground must have been hard to bear indeed. That wasn’t the only surprise they were to have, however – Oranna had heard of the kinds of wounds Nic had inflicted in many of the stories she used to read, and she was certain the many small cuts belonged to kobolds, and not the long, sweeping blades of the dark elves they just fought.
Perhaps even more troubling was Keridwen’s discovery – Nic’s soul had been stolen before or at the time of his death! Wit this knowledge in mind, the company decided to burn the remains, rather than bury them (something that would come back to haunt Ell later). Near Nic’s body they found his pouch, filled with sheets of lyrics (one song entitled “[[Nic. Hero of the High Seas]]”). The pouch also held the message Nic was supposed to deliver to the town of Winterhaven on behalf of Balar before his unfortunate… end.
Continuing on, the party came to the walled city of Winterhaven, being guarded by a very lax halfling and tiefling. Meeting little resistance (or assistance), the group wandered into town and began looking around. In the tavern they met Carmine Wrafton, an aging longtooth shifter who seemed amicable enough. He asked them about the dark skinned elf they were carting around, and directed them to the Frontiersmen when they said they were looking for answers themselves. More physically, he pointed out a broad goliath in the inn, [[Lo-Kag]] who was the second in command of the Frontiersmen. They thanked him, and while Thoradin and Calitris went to speak to him, the others disbanded – Ell, surprisingly, went to find the local temple, Keridwen went to find their contact in town, and Oranna went to check out a tiefling boy she’d seen at the stables on her way in.
This boy, identifying himself as Whippit was not happy to be disturbed from his job grooming the horses. He had Oranna moving horse armour from one side of the stable to the other, though there was little reason for the move. She continued to, well, pester him, until eventually he walked away. She followed, but he strode into the Hall of the Frontiersmen, and a couple of burly folk at the door made it clear that Oranna would not be following any further.
Ell, meanwhile, sat silently in the church. A deva, tall even for his race, knelt at the front of the pews, talking with Erathis, the god the temple was dedicated to.
Outside, Keridwen was having trouble rousing the groups contact, Kerrina, from her tower, if she was in there at all, and in the inn, Thoradin and Calitris’ conversation with Lo-Kag was like pulling teeth. Eventually the goliath rose, and with a distinct ease of effort, he picked up the dark skinned elf with one hand and began dragging it toward the door. The dwarf and shifter looked on, but did nothing to stop him. The goliath strode out the door and past Keridwen who was returning. He then walked past Oranna and into the Frontiersmen headquarters; the four attempted to follow, but the pair at the door didn’t show much interest in letting them in. A few moments later, however, and a rather stern looking half-orc opened the door, and nodded at the group, allowing them to come in.
Once inside, the half-orc introduced himself as Dorn Gular, leader of the Frontiersmen. He was very interested in how they came by the dark-skinned elf, as he’d been hunting them for some time and had been unable to procure one for himself. He was suprised by their story that they were merely standing on the road, but happy enough that the Frontiersmen now had a living elf to study. Keridwen was not about to let them hold the elf, afraid of what they might to do the helpless creature, and she and Dorn came to argue. Eventually she relented however, but was allowed to at least tend to the elf, bandaging his many wounds. Thoradin went to find Kerrina, and Dorn was unhappy when he brought her back as the pair don’t seem to share much love for each other. She couldn’t do much to help the elf though, and Dorn was growing impatient with all of the unwanted company in his lodge. Finally the group left, with plans to meet again at the inn that night.
Moving forward to that time, the group first met with Kerrina. They talked about the murders for a little while before Thoradin decided there were more important fish to fry – namely searching or the Hand of Agaman. Just as he said this, Perrin and his assistant Taluen entered the inn, just back from the dig.