Cerrunos

Chapter 4

Trials and Tribulations

Waking up refreshed, the party decided to go out and run errands in the city. Unbeknownst to them all, Ampelio, who still had the Oathstone, returned from his errands first (with a live chicken in tow) and decided to make use of the powerful object. Alone in his room, he activated the object with a wish, to found a great kingdom in the forest. As soon as the words were said, Ampelio’s soul was torn from his body, leaving behind a lifeless shell.

The rest of the party gradually returned from their shopping, electing to work on various activities. Z, who was waiting on the darts Ampelio had promised him earlier, went to check if their new friend was in his room. Opening the door, he found Ampelio’s body laid on the bed, still clutching the Oathstone, and the carcass of the newly purchased chicken, which had been partially devoured by Ampelio’s pet fox. Returning to the group with his bad news, the party crammed into Ampelio’s room, trying to decide what they should do with the body. A fierce debate ensued, with some saying they should contact the guards, others saying that letting anyone know would be suspicious, and might spread word of the stone.

As they were engaged in this argument, a knock on the door and the voice of Dr. Brandin startled them- while Musef went out to distract the Dr, Adama took off through the window in cat form, Z throwing her the Oathstone. She fled out into the forest, burying the stone and standing guard. Meanwhile, Dr. Brandin and Musef had come to a stalemate out in the hall, with Musef finally agreeing to let Brandin in, since he seemed to know what had happened anyway. Dr. Brandin, lamenting that none of this would have happened if they had given him the stone, turned the body of Ampelio invisible, and the group went out to the woods to bury him.

Some time later, Finn the chipmunk appeared back at the tavern with a message from Adama. After Z penned a warning letter in response, the rest of the group, Dr. Brandin included, followed him back to her location. After some tense negotiation, in which Brandin made a case for why the party should hand the Oathstone over to him, they decided to resolve the matter with a vote. Almost immediately, the party was split, with Z and Adama instantly against the idea, and Musef and Elyos agreeing to turn the stone over. The final vote fell to Wylem, who, after some deliberation, decided that they had proved themselves poor keepers of the item, siding with Elyos and Musef. Adama was still unwilling to give the orc the stone, however, a quick bit of magic on Dr. Brandin’s part changed her mind. Z, suspecting something, threw a dart at Dr. Brandin and missed- saying he was happy to let bygones be bygones, Brandin ignored this affront, and headed off with the Oathstone.

Returning to the Whistling Owlbear, the group learned that a royal summons had come while they were out- they were to meet the king the following morning for a late breakfast. Z, frustrated and upset, passed the night in the woods where Ampelio was buried, under the watchful eye of Wylem. Eventually, the party reformed and made their way to the castle to meet with King Eldin Elric. Over their meal, Eldin explained that the drow they had encountered were not the only ones in the area. He had groups working to discover the path to Laath Themar, the drow city, in hopes that the drow plan would be stopped. However, he had consulted with experts on the lore of the drow Goddess, and believed that a trip to speak with the Goliath’s was crucial to further their understanding. The ancient lore told the story of Yamara being defeated by Runa Skyborn, who was said to be a goliath raised by the gods to stand as one of their Titan champions. Runa sealed Yamara in a place called The White Tomb, a place the goliaths were rumored to know the location of, though it was not something they freely shared with outsiders. The group would need to undertake a long journey to Limberlost, the northernmost city, to find a guide able to take them to Farreach Hold. Agreeing to the proposal, the group departed immediately on the King’s royal (unnamed) gryphons, making the journey to Limberlost in record time.

In the city, they found their guide- a Goliath caribou herdsman by the name of Ingvar Stormwalker, and his kenku friend, Wombert. Ingvar and Wombert led the group to the base of the mountain, Etmir’s Hand, with Wombert enthusiastically promising to lead them all the way up (though he had never been there before himself). Ingvar instructed them to ask to speak to the Thane, and said that he would wait for their return. The trip up the mountain was relatively easy, as the weather remained mostly pleasant. The party had a dangerous encounter with a roving bulette, but defeated the beast and carried on.

Reaching the hold, which was built onto the plateauing top of the mountain, the group were taken to the Thane of the Hold, Balagard Skyson. He told them that they must prove themselves by passing the Trial of Valor, testing their might against a champion of their choice. The party were given three names: Mjordin Twice-born, Skywatcher Ufrang, and Hyrja Wolfcaller. Choosing Skywatcher Ufrang, the group were led down to the ring to fight, while the goliaths gathered to watch. An epic battle ensued, with the party fighting to prove themselves against Ufrang and his conjured wolves. When Ufrang shifted forms, turning into a polar bear, Adama met him head on in her own bear form- the group managed to break both of Ufrang’s transformations, with the goliath laughing in exhilaration as they did. With both of his wolves defeated, and half of the party unconcious, Ufrang stopped the battle, proclaiming the party worthy champions, and honoured guests of the Hold.

With their wounds healed by Mjordin, the group joined the Goliaths in their mead hall for a celebratory feast, where they sat in seats of honour at the high table, alongside the Thane and the 3 champions. Ufrang offered to guide them to the White Tomb the following day, and the party accepted- but for now, they were going to celebrate.

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LauraDM

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