The Journal of Bharhash

Campaign: Defenders of the Vale: Tipping the Scales of War

The Mark of Kord
I have felt changes within since the time we defeated the troll and orcs between the Vents and the Nexus. The God of Storms and Battle, has filled my mind with pictures, war songs, and his mark has appeared on my scales. His thunder has shaken me...and bolstered me.

New breath has formed within me. Storm breath of lightning. It is amazing...and Kord has granted me a Divine Boon for my bravery in battle.

This should be interesting...I am dragonborn anew.
Session: The Vents - Saturday, Jun 04 2011 from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM
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Madness at Moradin's Halls
Our trip to the monastery was not as easy as it could have been. Honestly, I expected to encounter more orcs rummaging through the countryside. Instead, five wights attacked us from the deepest shadows of a chasm we passed through. I should have seen that better as an ambush point. I just don't think I expected undead to lay in wait like that. I normally think of undead as the type to be "stumbled upon" underground. I will not think of undead like that anymore.

I was at the back of the party, as usual, so before I could move to a place of geed effect, I had a chance to watch the others. We have come a good ways from our first days together back in Brindol, just a few weeks ago. We seem to have jelled fairly well as a combat unit.

I took special interest in our newest companion, Gralamin Strifelaugher, the halfling from the Feywild. He claims to be seeking his long-lost family that he was taken from by the Winter Fey, but he has not made much effort as of yet on that goal that I have noticed. We have just met, so I do not discredit him in any way--I suppose if he has just recently been able to return to the world he is likely just trying to regain his bearings in the world. But he seems well suited to use his pact powers in a fight, wielding his icy shards with skill. He has been a boon to the group in our battles, so this dragon-kin is not complaining by any stretch of the imagination.

In the courtyard of the monastery we found orcs cooking their meals of severed dwarven limbs. Savages. They fight with ferocity, but with little skill or training. Hobgoblins were a more challenging foe. Orcs are most dangerous because of their bloodlust and pure strength, rather than their battle skills.

Some stand above the others, showing at least some military training of sorts, and their diety backs their shamans with fetid results. Those spellcasters we much watch, as the evil of their god manifests itself in twisted ways.

My first encounter with an orog came this day as well. Half-breeds of orc and ogre mixed. They are very tough. Not very bright, but brutish to be sure. We fought three today and they did not go down easily. For that matter, the orc berserkers were challenging, too. But especially with the help of our new dwarf friend, we held our own rather well.

Ah yes, that new dwarf. I wish I could say he reminded me of Zorco: simply motivated, easy to read. But Baranzul, his name is, has many layers to him, I suspect. This is not a bad thing. Certainly a dwarf fit for a fight, he has a certain edge to him I cannot describe yet at this point. I cannot say much more than that, as we have only fought twice, and it will take more time to size him up better than that. He hasn't been forthcoming about how he came to be here, yet, but my gut tells his intentions are not contrary to ours. Perhaps I will be able to glean more from his as we rest.

These dwarves certainly build and carve on a grand scale! Everything about the Sundered Chain is magnificently out of scale for this short, stout race. Overlook seemed much the same in many respects. I am sure the monastery is normally kept immaculate, but the slaughter by the orcs has been great, and I mourn their deaths. It is clear that when they were not suprised in their sleep, these dwarves fought valiantly.

The Hall of Moradin was cavernous, and I am curious about how a trapdoor by the alter seemed the only way to get to any other part of the monastery. Why would the cathedral be above ground when everything else seems to be below...and still has huge and grand architecture to match what we have seen above ground as well. So I find it interesting that these paladin/monks would march up a spiral staircase, emerge through a trap door in the floor, file down into recessed areas with benches, and then sit and worship their god.

We have not gone far underground yet, but I would would find it odd if there was not a subterranean worship hall as well, as this Hall of Moradin must be here to impress visitors.

Also, am I the only one who wonders why dwarves would build their structures so spacious when they don't need anywhere near that much space? I have to wonder if this is just something that comes from their distant history from the times they were enslaved by giants? Tactically, I would think that dwarves would want to maximize the advantage of their height against their former oppressors. Building things this big almost seems like a defiant invitation for giants to dare to enter their domain...

Session: Game Session: Orcs at the Sundered Chain! - Sunday, Apr 17 2011 from 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM
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Overlooking the War
Galad was unusually quiet during our trip to Overlook. Perhaps he is sensing what I am as well. There is something very odd going on. I can feel the weight of it. Smell it in the air.

And then we came upon the burned and broken wagon. It was still warm and smoking, a throwing axe still embedded in its side...and three dead travelers brutally slain. We found out who the murderers were soon enough. For some reason, they came back.

I had personally never seen an Orc before. They are savage and perhaps even a little ogreish, but not so large. They clearly have an eye and taste for blood, and never hesitated a single moment. While maybe not trained for war, it was certainly in their blood and came naturally enough for them.

In a split front they attacked. From the west, they swooped down from high ground. From the north they leaped out from the cover of trees. One in each group of three brandished a greataxe and I could see throwing axes at their belts. The other two in each group, clearly grunts, swung clubs in their hands menacingly. With this first encounter with Orcs, I think that Hobgoblins fight with better strategy. They at least know how to form ranks and use that to their advantage. These orcs...they just fight with fury.

So it was on, with Galad charging and challenging the north Orc Raider. Bharhash joined his side as the three engaged them both. The west orcs attacked Tiiren and Quinn who were trying to take higher ground as a lookout for us while we examined the wagon. Quinn was on his game today and sunk arrow after arrow and drawing their black blood easily.

A new ally appeared, also from the west. He was a small man, a halfling, with a stealthy way about him. Yet he attacked with some sort of witchcraft, not like Benn's arcana. Edritch magic at the start and ice magic later, as he skewered the other Raider clean through the chest from behind.

That was a sight for Tiiren, I am sure. The little man moved and darted in an odd way. Almost as if he were fey-stepping like Galad, but with his hooded cape wisping about and almost blurring his approach. Then suddenly while Tiiren faced the orc, a gleeming shard of ice erupted from the orc's chest, the black blood sliding down it's slippery surface. The orc slumped to the side revealing that the ice was held by the halfling behind him. The orc never saw it coming.

After the fight, Quinn examined their weapons. He has always been quick to do that. This time, I noticed a distant look in his eyes as he did so, as if he was examining a past memory. In a moment, he announced that he was sure these weapons bore the same craftman's mark as swords carried by the hobgoblins of Rivenroar.

Interesting.

I remember the letter we found in the dragon helmet we recovered. It was signed "The Emissary" and made it clear that there is some higher power aiding and instructing Sinruth. Could there be a connection? Or were these marks on the weapons coincidence?

Perhaps we will find some answers in Overlook? But with orcs already in the Vale, can we even be sure that Overlook will be there waiting for us?

I hope for all our sakes, that it is...
Session: Heroes of Brindol! - Sunday, Mar 20 2011 from 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM
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Time to get cracking....
I am reminded that not very long ago, I was growing out of my shell. A tiny scaling I was. I am reminded because I still carry a remnant of that shell near my first heart. To keep me centered. Focused.

Inspired.

Many years later, with much training behind me, I find myself with a team that allows me to inspire them, to tactically guide them in critical moments, and to help bring us all to victory. And here I am again, growing out of another shell. Coming to a new age. No longer just a scaling, I am tried and tested in the blood of true battle. We are set upon by a real foe, a threat that stretches me beyond my training. Cracks my shell. I am growing.

I tense my bow, and feel its strength. It is a bow I know as well as my hand, maybe better. Someday it will break. It is inevitable. As will I. Someday, the battle will overcome me. It almost has already. But that which does not slay me strengthens me. So it is with my bow. The sinew seems tighter, the string more taut. Even patient. And now I have found that it will wait for me. As I wait. As I wait for the last possible moment, and hone in on the most potent, vital shot I can take with it. To make the wound all the more harrowing.

Now cracking this new shell, I have found that my touch alone can inspire even an Eladrin Paladin. He was beaten down by a hobgoblin and his nasty little drake today, and I simply touched him. Roused him from the drowsiness of near-death and helped him stand again against our enemies. Shoulder to shoulder we beat them down. First that hobgoblin soldier, and then his drake.

But even though we are victorious and well, and we are gathering the fruits of our conquest, I feel the fatigue.

I am torn, though. Can we really risk the time to rest? Lives hang in the balance. There is a rumor that reinforcements are due to arrive and join the army of this new Red Hand leader named Sinruth. We hear his name more and more now. His minions are fiercely loyal. They die with his name on their breath. Even the gnome that escaped used his name as a taunt.

He is certainly no common hobgoblin. He has made a base of this crypt. He seems to have taken over all quarters of it. In some cases, he has allied with other monsters and creatures of other races. He is dangerous that way.

We know we do not face just hobgoblins loyal to him. We face ogres, gnomes, ettercaps, goblins, and hobgoblins. He is bringing them together to fight together against us. He is dangerous.

I wonder why he has chosen this place to make his new home. Was it random? Was it the first place he found? It certainly seems in places to have its own notorious history. There are latent magics that have troubled us: Fire-spewing braziers, harmful sygils on the ground, a large glyph that can imprison and harm its captive. We have found some kind of one-way portal to a world of shadow, and in the distance we can see a fell castle.

And yet, we have also found clean, pure water. This crypt is a bit of a conundrum. Why would one need clean, pure water in a crypt that is home to some who apparently seek the favor of the god of the undead?

I am sure Sinruth makes use of the clean water for his ranks. That is not a safe place to rest. I am sure he is aware we are here. I am sure that the hourglass of opportunity is running out. We have some chance right now to continue to press our offensive. We have some chance to keep them off balance. But now, if we take the time to rest, what will happen to the remaining hostages? Will this Sinruth have a chance to bolster his ranks? Will we lose any advantage we have now?

Perhaps we need a new strategy. Perhaps we need to find a way to use what we have here to our advantage. Maybe there is some way to use this crypt against their own inhabitants.

Can we divide and conquer?

I think we have some more securing to do first. There is still a doorway and hallway to make sure we have explored and secured...and then a staicase is all the remains to explore.

I wonder if we can find a way to make them come to us. We set the terms. We don't know how many more we face...so can we pull them away in numbers we can easily manage? How else can we take them on in our fatigued states?
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Tags: Level Up , thoughts
Heroes Born Tonight
There was a great deal of chaos tonight. Goblinoids running amok with cask-tossing ogres. But in the mayhem I could see the planning and strategies. Unfortuntely, the plan was well-worked enough that I could not rise above the battle to find the mind behind it. Too much damage to halt. Theirs was a plan well-worked.

But on our side, I see heroes born from this chaos. The makings of a strong team of fellows.

I arrived at the hostel late, but already an Eladrin Paladin, Human Ranger, and Dwarf warrior were defending against the attack. A human wizard joined in shortly after as well.

The Paladin, I have learned his name to be Galad, was bold and bright in his engagement, carefully using his radiant powers to make quick work of the goblins and hobgoblins. The smoking boots were testament to that!

The dwarf, Zorco, was true to his blood. Charging headlong into the fray and dealing fierce damage as he went.

Quinn, the Ranger, used his assets well. I noticed that he collected his spent arrows carefully when all his enemies had fallen. Frugal, but not his day for connecting with his and double arrow shot. Perhaps he was just tired, or just unlucky, but from the looks of him, he was learned and used that shot many times on the battlefield.

The wizard, Benn, showed cleverness in the use of his magic. I like to see that, and was suitably impressed. I'll be keeping an eye on that one...

But as for this battle, what was meant to look like wanton destruction, I am sure had a plan and a reason...now...what could that be?

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