Five Shall Be One
In the Spring of 582 C.Y., the six companions arrived in the city of Rookroost in the Bandit Kingdoms. They were on an assignment given to them by Helden’s father, Rothgar Stormfist, a minor Fruztii chieftain. Helden had been given a small magical chest full of coins as payment for a shipment of weapons. The band also had a parchment that helped them get past any gates, stating they had business with merchants at the Temple of Zilchus, signed by Uffus Foghat, a wealthy merchant of Rookroost. On the way in, the band spotted the Ravenshead Inn, where they had planned to get rooms later on. They followed the directions given to them by Rothgar (this being their first visit to Rookroost) and asked for directions to the temple. At the temple, the band delivered the small chest to agents of Rookroost, a place well known among the barbarians to get the best swords and weaponry for their struggles. The agents of Rookroost were a bunch of greedy-looking bandits and they summoned a nervous-looking half-elf, who had been looking around and fidgeting since the band’s arrival. The half-elf took a scroll from a belted tube and mumbled for a moment. The chest grew in size and the top flew open revealing the gold inside. He then cast another spell and assured the bandits that the gold was real. A browbeaten clerk then presented the band with sealed documents of receipt and showed the band the final shipment of weapons being dispatched to Marsakeer on the Zumker River. The band’s work was then done and so they left the temple. As they were leaving, however, they saw the half-elf mage stumble on the steps as he was leaving and fall, scattering his possessions and documents on the ground. The band helped him gather his things, and they were introduced to the half-elf who said his name was Mallon. Later in the day, as the band was looking for a tavern to celebrate the completion of a job, they heard the sounds of battle nearby and went to investigate. They then came upon Mallon as he was defending himself from a band of chainmail-clad bandits and a mage who was positioned on a nearby roof. The band came to Mallon’s aid and defeated the bandits, but the mage escaped. During the battle, the band was badly wounded. They had just enough time to grab any items of value from the bandits and flee. Mallon urged them to run before the patrolmen showed up as they might get arrested otherwise. The band got away, but they noted that the leader of the bandits appeared to have been an Ice Barbarian, which puzzled them a bit. The band followed Mallon to the Drunken Dragon Tavern where Mallon convinced them they needed to lay low for a while. While staying at a room that he had rented there, Mallon offered to help them get out of town safely and offered money and treasure in return for an escort from the band to White Fanged Bay where his tutor lived. Mallon also asked if they could have a quest spell cast on one member of the band as a form of insurance that they would not betray him. The band agreed to all this, but because they were so badly beat up, they had to rest for the remainder of the day. The next day, Mallon took Helden to a temple of Zilchus to have a quest spell placed on him, which Mallon paid for. The band also bought horses for everyone, and got a good deal after Sabrala charmed the horse dealer. The rest of that day, the banded rested as they needed further healing. During this time, Mallon told the band some interesting information. He said that his recent research in Nyrond and Furyondy had revealed a magical weapon of barbarian origin on a treasure map he had. He believed it to be of Frost Barbarian making, though he wasn’t sure. He also stated that his tutor, Karasten, knew more about this weapon and may be able to help with identifying it. Karasten, he said, may also have access to ancient legends and tales concerning it, and added that he thought the weapon had bardic associations. He said that Karasten would dearly like to study the blade, but he was also certain that the old mage wouldn’t wish to keep it. The band, he pointed out, could have a fine magical weapon to flourish if they chose to investigate the dungeon along the way to Karasten’s home. Mallon did not know what other treasures might be found in the dungeon, nor any of the hazards, but he suspected that some kind of undead might be present since he suspected the dungeon was part of a burial ground. The band was intrigued by this and agreed to investigate the dungeon. On the following day, they all rode out of town and were on their way. It took seven days to reach the Bluff Hills and several encounters occurred along the way including battles against ogres, trolls and gnolls. But the most noteworthy battle was against a powerful band of six bandits led by a man named Igrin Mulselver. Mulselver’s bandit gang used magic and deadly tactics against the band and three of the band’s horses were killed. When the battle was over, however, the band collected several magic items and replaced their three dead horses with six that the bandits had. Upon entering the Bluff Hills, the band traveled for another day and along the way battled a band of gnolls and flinds. Finally the band arrived at the dungeon on the map, which the band would later know as the Shadow Caverns. These caverns were a small, long-lost complex of Oeridian clerics of Hextor, the evil deity of discord and strife. Centuries after these clerics were slain by Suloise forces they became the home of a young shadow dragon by the name of Szeverin, who felt himself drawn to the location. Szeverin was an unusual shadow dragon, as he had gained the ability to shadow walk much sooner than other shadow dragons. He therefore had the ability to come and go from the lair as he wished despite its small size. While exploring the complex, the band of adventurers encountered and fought several creatures, including three yeth hounds, a wraith, eight shadows, twelve zombies and a spectre. Unfortunately, during the battle against the spectre, the band’s ranger, Fenestir was drained of life energy (2 levels). When the band reached the temple of Hextor, they met and battled against the shadow dragon. Szeverin, it turned out, was a cowardly dragon, and when he became badly wounded, he tried to work out a deal with the band, offering to give them a portion of his treasure if they let him live. The band agreed at first, but tricked the dragon. When the dragon was not expecting it, the band attacked the dragon again and killed him. With the dragon dead, the band gathered all the treasure they could carry, including several magic items. Among these was the sword that Mallon had told them about. Its name was Dreamsinger and because it worked best in the hands of a bard, it was given to the band’s bard, Sabrala. Dreamsinger, was an intelligent sword and it soon began communicating with Sabrala through dreams and visions that she would have periodically. During these dreams and visions, Dreamsinger would offer clues about what would happen in the near future. Upon leaving the Shadow Caverns, the band resumed their trek north through the Bluff Hills. It took a day and a half to get to the edge of the foothills, but before the band got there, they were ambushed by a band of eight powerful Ice Barbarians, which included a mage and a priest of Ralishaz. This band was led by Gundar Hjortensen, and they too used powerful magic against the six companions. Once again, the six companions prevailed and one of the Ice Barbarians was captured alive. They questioned the captive and soon learned that Gundar and his men had been dispatched by a fairly powerful local baron of the Ice Barbarians to obtain Dreamsinger and kill anyone and everyone who possessed the sword. He claimed that they did not know the significance of the weapon or any of its powers – only that it was not potent in the hands of a warrior. Gundar supposedly did not know who paid him to do the job. He was given the job by a courier in Jotsplat, and they were then shipped out to Stonefist. From there, the Ice Barbarians made their way to where they ambushed the six companions. Hearing all of this, Mallon realized that there were some powerful people after the sword and suspected that they were being scried upon. Because of this, Mallon suggested they cut across the plains and head directly towards the Forlorn Forest where it would be more difficult for others to find them. From this point on, the six companions found themselves on the run from enemies and it was at this point that others began to refer to them as the Sword Bearers. It took four days to cross the Barrens of the Rovers and reach the Forlorn Forest, and along the way the band had a few more battles with humanoids, though nothing they could not handle. Soon after entering the forest, Sabrala awoke one night from a nightmare that had a severe effect upon her. For days afterwards, Sabrala felt nervous, disturbed, agitated and apprehensive and she had difficulties memorizing her spells. Three days into their trek through the forest, during which time they battled against a wolfwere, an owlbear, and three giant badgers, they came across a clearing where they encountered three annis hags, three hill giants, and four human zombies. The band battled them and during the battle, Sabrala discovered one of Dreamsinger’s powers: the sword unleashed a firespear at the largest of the three hags, which disrupted her spell and wounded her badly. At this point, Sabrala snapped out of the fugue state she had been in since her nightmare. But the battle was a difficult one as the hags tried to capture them with their forcecage ability. Still, the Sword Bearers prevailed and defeated the hags and their allies. When the battle was over, a prisoner of the hags, who had been held captive in a forcecage, was released. The freed prisoner, who appeared to be a human woman, was very wary of the band initially. But when the band mentioned the name Karasten, she became more trusting and introduced herself as Eristen, a ranger swanmay in the service of Karasten. She told the band that she was on her way to Karasten’s home to give him some information and said she would tell him they were coming. She then flew off. The band then searched the home of the hags for anything of value and resumed their trek through the forest. Along the way they battled three trolls and a hangman tree. After three more days of trekking through the forest, and another half-day spent traveling to the coast, they finally came to the home of Karasten. But when they arrived, they found his home was currently being attacked by three frost giants. Five of Karasten’s mongrelmen servants were already dead and eight more were fleeing the house. The band, at Mallon’s urgings, battled against the frost giants, while Karasten, unknown to the band at the time, was battling against an invisible stalker. When Karasten finished off the invisible stalker, he came to the aid of the band against the giants. During the battle, an invisible mage also struck with a lightning bolt spell. But the frost giants were soon defeated and the invisible mage apparently teleported away and escaped. After the battle, Karasten invited the band and Mallon into his home and helped to heal them up. Some repairs were done to the house and the dead mongrelmen were buried. In private, Mallon told Karasten some information he gathered while doing some research for him, and added that they recovered the sword Dreamsinger. Karasten then told the band a great deal of information about the sword and other related matters. After examining the sword, he told the band that it’s a very ancient barbarian sword, one of five known as the Blades of Corusk and that its last owner was probably a barbarian. He then told the band that the five weapons were lost and scattered long ago and no diviners could find them. He told the band that, according to legend, if the five blades were brought together again, greatness would come upon the barbarian people, that a great force would be unleashed which would beat down the enemies of the barbarians, that the power of the weapons themselves would be greatly magnified and expanded when the Five Become One, and a greater force will inspire the barbarian folk to glory and dominion. This greater force, he said, was a power known as the Great God of the North. When Karasten told this to the band, he seemed very excited about the possibilities and the band began to suspect that Karasten had some barbarian blood within him. He spoke of driving the bandits out of Stonefist and the murderous rabble out of the Bone March, and of sweeping through the lands of the Rovers and to the south. He spoke of the rise of the Suloise once again, with pride. Karasten then made an offer to the band to go in search of the other three Blades of Corusk. Karasten then admitted that he already had the second blade, which is called Greenswathe, and which he would loan to the band if they would agree to go on the quest for the other swords and take him along. The band agreed to Karasten’s terms and he then loaned Greenswathe to Ingrid, the band’s druid, as the scimitar worked most effectively in a druid’s hands. Karasten then told the band that he only had information on the third sword’s location and had no idea where to find the other two swords. He said that according to the information just given to him by Mallon, the third sword, called Stalker, was in the “black well at Garel Enkdal.” He said that he believed Stalker to be a sword made for a warrior and that it had powers of illusion and deception which affected combat. He added that Garel Enkdal was a vast underground orcish city below the Griff Mountains but did not know its exact location, nor did he know what the “black well” was. After Karasten gave the band all this information, the band stayed at Karasten’s home for a week while Mallon read a libram of gainful conjuration that he acquired in the Shadow Caverns. Karasten also gave everyone magical lenses of infravision. When the week was over, and all the preparations were made, they set out from Karasten’s home. Four and a half days later, following a route suggested by Karasten, which cut through the edge of the Forlorn Forest, the band reached the Griff Mountains. During their trek through the plains, the band battled against ogres and Gnolls, and Sabrala received a few visions concerning the acquisition of the sword, Stalker. As the band neared the city of Vlekstaad, they cut through a portion of the Griff Mountains to avoid any of the fierce “Fists” or marauding raiders of that city who patrolled the plains and foothills nearby. While in the foothills just entering the mountains, the band encountered another band of twelve Frost Barbarians on their way to Rookroost. They were led by Kendric Perhanssen and while neither of the two bands were willing to reveal too much about what they were doing, Kendric did tell the band some recent news about their homeland. He said that a Stonefist force from Kelten inflicted a severe defeat on one group of Frost Barbarians a couple of weeks before. They then proceeded to destroy the border city of Ranskine. The entire village was wiped out. This was particularly bad news for Baern (?) who had relatives living there. Kendric also told the band that three warships were lost aiding the men of Ratik in a fruitless coastal assault just south of the Loftwood. Furthermore, Snow Barbarians had become increasingly arrogant about their role in directing overall barbarian operations and belittling the Fruztii. All of this news only served to further encourage the Sword Bearers to complete their quest. As the band made their way through the mountains, they battled against small groups of tyrgs, verbeegs and gnolls. After three days in the mountains, they turned back through the foothills and cut through the plains along the northern edge of the mountains, where they encountered a few bandits, bears and worgs. Along the way they also encountered one of the bandit bands known as Fists. This particular Fist was led by a very powerful priest of Erythnul named Bamair Mandarek. He led a band of twenty others all mounted on warhorses. They tried to capture the band, but the band fought back and a great battle ensued. When the battle was over, despite the powerful spells and magic of Mandarek, the Shield Bearers were victorious and Mandarek was captured. When the band then learned that Mandarek was the mastermind behind the destruction of Ranskine, they exacted their own justice upon him and had him drawn and quartered. After three days of skirting the northern edge of the foothills, the band turned south and entered the mountains. On their first day, while taking a break to rest, they encountered a wounded psuedodragon named Keldris. After Mallon, showed him some kindness and had him healed, Keldris became his faithful if unpredictable companion. On the following day, the band came across a band of fifteen dwarves that were surrounded and being attacked by forty-five orcs. The band came to the assistance of the dwarves and easily wiped out the orcs. During the battle, Ingrid summoned a dozen mountain lions to attack the orcs and when the battle was over, she charmed one of the mountain lions into becoming a companion. One of the dwarves rescued was a chieftain named Garndred Glimdoner who granted Stumred a personal audience with him and gave him a healing potion, which he said should only be used on a dwarf. He then gave Stumred some useful information, saying there was a magical weapon of dwarven manufacture in Garel Enkdal, adding that it may be found near an obelisk. After two days of traveling in the mountains, the Sword Bearers began looking for the underground city of Garel Enkdal. Fortunately, the dwarves knew the location of the two entrances to the city and were able to give them directions. Once the band had found the entrances, the band spent some time observing the comings and goings from the entrances in order to devise a plan. They found a nearby cave from which they could keep an eye on the entrances, and Ingrid shapeghanged into a bird to scout out the area. When they were ready, the band left their horses and animal companions at the cave, and using various illusion and invisibility spells, the band snuck into one of the entrances. Moving cautiously through caverns filled with hundreds or thousands of orcs going about their daily routine in the total darkness of their underground communities, the Sword Bearers made their way to the vast city of Garel Enkdal, home to approximately twenty-five thousand orcs. There in the streets and back alleys of the orc city, the band was able to question some of the orcs and learn that the most likely place to find Stalker was the temple cavern that lay north of the main cavern. So they immediately headed in that direction. Sabrala continued to receive dream visions from Dreamsinger that helped to offer clues as to where and how to find Stalker. When the band approached the gates leading to the temple complex, however, Dreamsinger began to sing, alerting all orcs within hearing distance of their presence. Shortly afterwards, Greenswathe began to glow a pulsing green light and a sphere of sparkling motes of green light surrounded the band. At first the singing and the lights appeared to work against the band, as it sent hundreds of orcs running in their direction. But then the magical effects of the two swords appeared to combine, and together, they put to sleep all the orcs on the near side of the gate that came within twenty feet of them. The orcs on the far side of the gate were more resistant to the sleep effects. So after forcing the gate open, the band had to fight their way into the temple cave. Near the gate, the band saw the large black obelisk that the dwarves had mentioned and that Sabrala had seen in her most recent vision. As the band made their way into the temple cave, an eye opened up in the obelisk and bathed the cavern in a very dim red glow that seemed to give off an air of evil. After fighting their way past orcs and orogs, the band entered the Temple of Gruumsh. Once inside the temple, the band quickly made their way to the throne room at the end of wide hallway. There awaiting them, was a host of orcs, zombies, shamans and witchdoctors, all lead by the most powerful of the orcs, the orc chieftain, his wife, his son, the court wizard and the high priest. A huge battle then ensued, the most difficult the band had ever been involved in. During the battle, the court wizard or the high priest occasionally reached into a black well that lay nearby and brought forth a globe of blackness that would be tossed at one of the band members and which caused various harmful effects. There was also an idol of Gruumsh that fired glowing motes of light that caused severe burns. And yet, despite the forces arrayed against them, the band once again prevailed, thanks in large part to much of the magic they had found along the way. When at last the battle was over, Dreamsinger and Greenswathe seemed to scream out to those that wielded them that Stalker was inside the black well. But the black well caused severe cold damage to anyone who reached inside. So the band gathered all the magic items they could find on their fallen enemies. Then they chose one among them to take the risk and reach inside the well. As it turned out however, there were actually two weapons inside the well. In addition to Stalker was the dwarven warhammer that Stumred had been told about. Just as the second of these two weapons was pulled from the well, a horde of orcs from the orc city poured into the cavern and surrounded the temple. Thousands of orcs began to close in on them and by this point, the band had little left with which to fight. It looked as though they had come all this way, only to fall in defeat at the hands of an army of orcs. But unexpectedly, all three Blades of Corusk suddenly began to hum and glow. A whirlwind began to swirl around the band as magical energy built up around them. Then, without warning, and just as the mob of orcs was about to strike, the band was teleported away.