In the Kruthik Caves…
Dorn and Kalam have found themselves in the egg chamber of the Kruthik caverns, and some massive beast is approaching them from the darkness above! With great haste, Kalam rips a large Kruthik egg from the wall, and the duo flee the chamber, hoping to avoid any further confrontation. Just as they escape, the chamber is flooded with Kruthiks, investigating the intrusion of their deepest, most precious chamber.
Our heroes flee to the nearest stone outcropping, desperate to hide from the creatures. However, luck is not on their side, as Kalam accidentally dislodges a rather large stone, causing a cascade of crag to crash down the confines of those cavernous quarters. The Kruthiks, naturally, discover the two adventurers, who immediately run to the nearest exit towards the surface. The two of them are able to reach the hole which Kalam had traveled down to enter the caverns, but his rope is too high to grab hold of! They will have to climb the walls of the cavern to reach the surface, and the hordes of Kruthiks are hot on their tails, with the great beast’s rumble soon behind them.
While Kalam has relatively little difficulty climbing the wall face, Dorn cannot seem to get a grip of himself. It is only narrowly that he is able to jump from the wall to grab Dorn’s hand, hanging from the rope, surrounded by the rushing beasts on all sides. Kalam begins to climb with Dorn hanging on, when Kalam has the idea to throw the egg down the cavern. And what a brilliant idea! The Kruthiks immediately leap from the walls and follow the egg down, buying the duo some time.
But is it enough? Soon after, the Kruthiks have secured the egg, and are again climbing the rope, with the roar of some unknown behemoth growing louder by the second. The two only just barely make it to the surface before the Kruthiks are again on them. With the sun rising in the East, and a silent pasture surrounding them, Dorn and Kalam prepare to repel the Kruthiks the best they can. Their position on the high ground is quite advantageous, as the beasts can do little to attack, but are easy to force back down into the earth. However, they cannot keep up this defense forever, not without help.
Dorn leaves Kalam to defend the chasm the best he can in order to find help. He rushes to a nearby guard post, where three volunteers from Wildview calmly watch over their fields. Dorn convinces the three men to return with him to the hole, and soon later he finds another guard post, with more volunteers to do the same. With Kalam and the spears of the volunteers, the Kruthiks can do little to escape their caverns. However, the far off roar of the unknown giant inches ever closer.
Dorn knows this will not be enough to fight it, what it is. With all his strength left, he turns and runs to the village, hoping to find some help. He bursts into the Village Elder’s throne room, and explains the situation in between his gasps for air. The Elder, delighted that the source of his troubles may yet be solved, volunteers his best men, as well as his personal bodyguard Bygg Nhyggir to fight the coming beast. Within minutes, a collection of a dozen or so semi-armored militiamen have gathered in the town square, ready to do battle. Dorn leaves one man behind, who will try and make contact with the mounted warriors, who are out on patrol, and leaves with his force to return to the fight.
And just in time, no less! As Dorn approaches Kalam and his volunteers, the sounds of moving earth and clattering monsters is nearly deafening. The men are placed in position and told that if they remain true and steadfast, they will win the battle. This does little to help most of them, as the majority have never seen battle, much less with a giant beast.
No more time to prepare, the beast has arrived! A massive Kruthik brood mother, five times as large as its children, retches itself from the earth below to make combat with the feeble men around it, and with it yet more hordes of Kruthiks! To battle!
The sounds of screaming men and beasts, and the clashing of spear to chiltin fills the air. As each Kruthik fell, a new one took its place, just as fierce and bloodthirsty as before. Even the intervention of the Scout Patrol did little to control the battle, so chaotic and fearless were the beasts. Yet, after the spilling of much blood, the stalwart Bygg Nhyggir ran his blade through the head of the great beast, putting an end to its terror, and that of its children. The Kruthiks fled to their cavern, and all was again silent in the fields of Wildview.
Celebrations abound! Our heroes and their motley militia return to Wildview, where they are met with applause and exultation. The Elder is beside himself with joy and pride, gives them more than promised for a reward, as well as offering to send the two to Grayhaven with his explicit blessing and request for further commendation. Dorn and Kalam are heroes in Wildview, and will have the run of the town any time they should visit it. Victory!
In the North…
Torek and Deathborn have been living as kings since their coup in Maskulet. The town remains stable and secure, its citizens quite content with the change in leadership. The allies made by the duo remain steadfast and helpful, and there has been no sign of Dragonborn raid or attack. Morale remains high.
Until, that is, a host of horses and flags from the South appears on the horizon. Zabeck (or Zorby, as some call him) warns Torek that there is little to be done against such a host. They are men of the Altranian Union, mounted and armed far better than the meager collection of militiamen found in Maskulet. Regardless, Dwarves are posted at opportune points, hidden from view. The men carry a banner of peace, and when allowed entrance to the village square, seem to intend to keep this promise. The leader among them steps forward.
A man of the House Turien, Captain Edgard of Highcliffe has come to regain the lands lost by his distant relative, the now deceased Lord Mayor. He places Torek and Deathborn under the king’s arrest, and requests that they come quietly, so as to avoid any unnecessary nastiness, or further punishment from the king. Though it pains them, the two peacefully agree. They leave Zorby in charge as the mayor regent, and depart for the capital in Grayhaven, where they will be fairly tried.
Some weeks pass. Torek is treated well by his captors, but Deathborn is seen by them as little better than a beast. Minotaurs are not common in the Union, and none have been seen in many years. Upon arriving at Grayhaven, the two are given little opportunity to see the sights. They are thrown in the king’s prison, to await a personal meeting with the monarch himself the following day.
Meanwhile, across the palace, Dorn and Kalam have arrived from Wildview, and have been given a small room to share, in preparation for their own meeting with the king.
Night passes, one pair of heroes far more comfortable than the other. In the morning, each is led to the waiting room outside the king’s throne room, to await their time with him. However, the affair seems strange. The attendants of each group realize that they have been given the same time to meet the king, by some accident, and before this can be resolved, all four enter the throne room, to await his royal decree.
The situation is relayed to the king, who doesn’t seem particularly impressed with anything that has happened. For Dorn and Kalam, the king rolls his eyes and rattles off a well rehearsed and over-practiced congratulation, which leaves the two feel rather less than satisfied. For Torek and Deathborn, however, Copperhand has other plans.
However, before those other plans can be made known to them, they exchange a knowing glace with each, and charge the king, intending to attack him!
All present in the king’s court were caught off guard by this brazen display. The guards rush to protect their liege, and even Dorn and Kalam felt it their duty to defend the man. Deathborn, with his great strength, is able to keep several armed guards at bay, giving Torek the opening he needs to reach the king himself. Having stolen a guardsman’s sword, Torek was nearly able to slay the king then and there, were it not for the intervention of Dorn, who surprised the Dwarf with a blow to the head, followed thereafter by several more. While this went on Deathborn and Kalam found themselves in a screaming match, each claiming the other to be a bluthering idiot, despite having only just met each other.
The court room was a catastrophe, which dazed and battered guardsmen trying to get a hold on these strange interlopers. When the two attackers were pacified, the king had clearly had enough. He demanded that all four foreigners be thrown in the dungeons, to await further deliberation.
Time will tell what Copperhand has in store for our heroes. But the gleam in his eyes and slight smile at these strange attackers could indicate that his plan isn’t what they might expect…