After investigating a series of murders in the Umar Hills, the party has solved the mystery behind the murders, and defeated the Shadow Lord responsible. They return to the local village to report on their findings, including that of the fate of the town's ranger and the missing adventurers.
The townspeople are saddened by the news of the ranger, but the news that the murders have been solved and stopped help to bolster the local population's spirit. The mayor presents the party with the promised money and a few items from his own adventuring days. Valrin, the wizard who hired the party originally, gives the party directions and information on the surrounding areas so they can find more work if they want. He also presents them with a small teleportation runestone that will not only enable them to return home, but can be used again in the future to teleport back to the last location the stone was used.
After a much-deserved rest, the party heads west toward the city of Athkatla, the city of coin, to seek out more supplies and perhaps a bit more adventure. They arrive at the main city gates a day later, though Roc reluctantly tells the party he must part ways for the time, muttering something about "old debts long overdue". He disappears into the crowd before any of the party members have a chance to question or follow him.
After that rather baffling display, the party heads into the city, seeking out the local market and whatever other intrigues they can find. Nataya heads off her own way almost immediately (not surprising to the party, considering her known dislike for large, crowded cities), Theranion heads to the local magical and book supply stores, and Zendril goes about shopping at a place proclaiming itself "The Adventurers' Mart", all the while listening to local gossip in the area.
But it seems Zendril was not the only one doing a bit of scouting. Theranion and Zendril meet up the next day at a local adventurers' hangout called the Copper Coronet. A young half-elf man steps out of the shadows and politely asks if he could have a word with them, offering to buy them a meal and some drink for their time. They are not too keen on having people sneak up on them, and several tense moments follow as the man attempts to introduce himself.
He goes by the name of Ironhorse, and is a budding adventurer skilled both as a fighter and as a rogue. It seems word has reached the streets about the recent exploits of the party in the Umar Hills, and he needs their help with some "issues" he has with a local slave-trade operation within the city. It seems several groups of slavers have been kidnapping people off the streets in the docks and slums of town. One such group tried to ambush and kidnap him, though he was skilled enough to fend them off and escape into the back alleys.
Since then, he has been itching to give the slavers a bit of payback. He tells the party of several rumors involving some an establishment somewhere in the city where slaves are forced to fight to the death against wild animals and against each other, in a gladiator-style ring. He wants to expose the operation and put an end the brutal contests. Though the party can only guess why, they can tell from his mannerisms that these pit-fighting contests are a sore subject for him.
While enjoying their meal and listening to what little information Ironhorse has found concerning the fights, the party notices a rather striking redhead enter the tavern and start approaching several other adventurers resting in the dusty main room. Each conversation is brief, ending with the adventurer shaking their head or refusing to speak to her entirely. It becomes clear she is attempting to hire them, and seems to get increasingly desperate with each failed attempt.
As she approaches closer to their corner of the room, Zendril and Theranion each try to go unnoticed, but Ironhorse seems to take a keen interest in her current plight (a little infatuated, are we?). He quietly notes to Zendril and Theranion that this is the second day in a row she has been in here looking to hire someone, though he has no idea what kind of job she needs done that would turn away the rough crowd that frequents this particular tavern.
Finally, she catches sight of the party, and immediately heads over. She introduces herself as Nalia De'Arnise, the daughter of a local noble family. She offers a few gold pieces and a drink for their time, just to hear her request. They agree, and she tells them that her father's land is under attack, and at the time she managed to get away to look for help, the enemy had just started a siege against the family's keep. The local officials are "reviewing" her request, but she doubts they will mobilize any sort of troops in time. So, she is trying to hire adventures and mercenaries to help in the meantime.
Theranion is concerned that she is not telling them everything, and justly so. He finds it odd that mercenaries would be unwilling to help her, knowing her family could pay them well. He begins trying to pry more details out of her, and though she is reluctant at first, she relents.
It turns out the attackers are a small army of trolls. From what she can tell, this small army consists of different kinds of trolls, all under the leadership of a giant troll who exhibits far too much cunning. Their attacks were well coordinated, quickly forcing most of the defenders to fall back into the safety of the central keep. It was during this time that Nalia managed to slip out into the night to find help.
The party is none too keen on going up against an army of trolls, but Nalia offers them a substantial reward and is willing to lend her own skills to the cause. She has some limited skill in stealth, disarming traps, and opening locks, but is primarily interested in the magical arts. After a bit of haggling over the price, the party agrees to set out for the keep...
The party has been hired by Nalia De'Arnise to help the defenders of the family castle to fight off an invading army of trolls. They meet up with Nataya on the outskirts of town, and head for the lands owned by the De'Arnise family.
Upon reaching the castle, however, they discover that the trolls have already gained access to the keep, and most of the defenders are dead. In an encampment outside the castle is a small contingent of soldiers who were called in as reinforcements, but arrived too late and are trapped outside the castle. Their commander informs the party that as soon as the troll army gained access to the castle, they sealed the gates and took over the castle's armaments. From what little info the commander has managed to gather from the few servants who escaped, the De'Arnise family is being held captive inside, yet no ransom demands have been made.
The soldiers have one shot to try to rescue the family members, and the commander has come up with a plan that may work. First, they need someone to sneak into the castle grounds and get the front gates opened, eliminating any trolls they encounter along the way. Once the gates are open, the soldiers can storm the castle and eliminate the trolls room by room while another group searches for the captives.
For the first task, Theranion and Ironhorse are to sneak into the castle through the secret passage Nalia used to escape, then head to the front yard of the castle and take out any trolls patrolling on the ground. Nataya and Zendril are to scale the outside walls and take out any trolls manning the castle's catapults, then meet up with Theranion and Ironhorse at the front gate.
Theranion and Ironhorse make it into the castle without a hitch, but in their attempt to reach the front yard, they are discovered by one of the troll patrols inside the castle. The trolls are incredibly fast and strong, and Theranion is barely able to fire off any spells before they engage in melee. As the trolls fall one by one, the last turns to run and sound the alarm. Ironhorse makes a desperate leap at the troll, and sinks his sword deep into its back. Before heading for the front door, they quickly drag the bodies into a storage room and hide them under several large empty sacks.
Outside, Zendril and Nataya successfully scale the walls, and use their bows to snipe the trolls manning the catapults on the roof. They then head for the front gate, attacking the trolls in the gate tower. The trolls in the yard below split up, some heading for the gate while two others attempt to head inside and raise the alarm. They run into Theranion and Ironhorse as they are coming out the front door, their weapons at the ready.
Within minutes the battle is over, and the troll bodies are burned afterward. The party then opens the front gate of the castle, where the soldiers are preparing for their assault on the trolls still inside the castle. Once inside, they split up. The party heads left, while the soldiers begin sweeping the rooms to the right and rear of the castle.
In their search for the remaining trolls, the party comes across a series of hidden rooms leading toward the rear of the castle. They discover a room containing an old but well-maintained forge, and beyond that a storage room containing several statues and other pieces of artwork. Inside the mouth of a lion statue, they discover a glowing blue flail head, which feels very cold to the touch.
Theranion examines the item, noting the runes inscribed into it. He discovers with some dismay the runes are part of the written language of the warlike Rakshasa. However, the Rakshasa are known to wield powerful magics, so any item crafted by this race is likely to be very useful. If the matching handle could be found, he might be able to discover from its markings what weapon the flail head is from, and re-assemble it...
After cleaning out the trolls camped out in the 1st floor of the keep, the party heads up the main stairs to the 2nd floor. They go from room to room along the hallway, flushing out the trolls and destroying their remains. One thing the party notes as they go through, is the fact that the trolls have left almost everything intact. They act more like sentries than invaders, making the party all the more suspicious as they move through the rooms.
Upon entering the small library, they discover part of the truth. It is here they encounter the captain of the guard, accompanied by several trolls and a Yan-ti mage. He has turned traitor, siding with the invaders. During the course of the battle, the party gains the advantage, and badgers him to the point of frustration. In his anger, he lets slip that the trolls were hired to lay siege to the castle by the same person he now answers to. He refuses to surrender to the party, taking his own life rather than allow any of them to interrogate him. In his dying breath, he whispers, "Forgive me, my lord. I had no choice"
With his death, the party is only marginally closer to figuring out what is really going on. They now know the siege was no accident. Someone had carefully planned it, using trolls as a cover, and either bribing or blackmailing key members of the castle guard. That is how the trolls were able to gain entry into the castle so easily in the first place, catching the rest of the residents by surprise. And tucked away in a small bag on the captain's belt, the party discovers the key to the basement door, and a second flail head with more Rakshasan runes similar to those on the first one they had found.
The party presses on, now desperately trying to find any of Nalia's family members who were captured in the siege, if any still lived. At last they come to the final unopened door. When they try to open it, an agitated human voice calls out from the other side, ordering them to identify themselves. They party does so, but the voice on the other side is not convinced. As the party tries to assure the person, Nalia suddenly walks up and talks to the person on the other side of the door. It seems she had been secretly following behind the party, despite instructions for her to stay outside.
The person recognizes her voice, and opens the door. Inside the room are two guards trying to fend off a troll attempting to capture Nalia's aunt. The party instantly jumps into the fray, laying waste to the troll and tending to the injured guards. When things settle down a bit, Nalia's aunt informs her that when the trolls invaded the castle, her father was taken captive by the trolls and dragged off. What they wanted from him, she did not know, but the largest of them mentioned something about a secret the father was supposed to show them down in the old dungeon, sealed off years ago by Nalia's father. She did not even know where the entrance to the old dungeon was, until just a few minutes ago when the troll entered the room from a secret panel in the wall.
Nalia and her aunt are escorted out of the room (and out of the castle) by her two bodyguards, now that the main floors of the castle had been cleared of danger. The party, meanwhile, investigates the secret passage. They find a door at the end of the short hall, with an open archway leading to a marbled room to their left. At the far end of the room are three alcoves with statues, each one holding a different item - a glowing flail head, a battle axe, and an elven bow.
Along the adjacent wall are five larger statues, two made of fired clay, two of polished granite, and one of iron. Theranion guesses those larger statues may actually be golems, meant to guard the treasure pieces on display in the room. Despite the danger, Ironhorse eyes the treasures, and begins examining how to "retrieve" them without waking the golems. However, taking the treasures would not look good to the family the party is supposed to be helping, so Ironhorse decides he may negotiate for one of the items in place of his share of the reward.
The party next unlocks the door using the key they retrieved from the captain, and proceed down the winding staircase to the old dungeon area under the castle. They are greeted at the bottom by more trolls guarding the stairs, which prove to be larger and tougher than those encountered on the floors above. The party must fight their way through each room, barricading the doors against possible intrusion from the other rooms until they have a chance to rest after each battle.
The next several areas contain old prison cells, and the whole area is overrun with several Umber Hulks that have been set loose by the trolls to deal with the party. The onslaught is a bit too much for the party to handle, and they are forced to retreat back to one of the secured rooms to regroup.
With the help of their stash of potions, the party heals up its wounds and enhances their abilities to help them overcome the tougher foes currently trying to break down the barricaded door. The door finally give way, and the trolls and umber hulks begin pushing their way in. The doorway serves as a useful bottleneck, and the party is able to hold the enemies in the door until they can dispatch them one by one. Once the last enemy falls, the party has just one last door left to open, and prepares for whatever may be lying in wait for them behind it...
After a long mission through the keep to rid the place of the invading trolls, the party has come to the last door in the old dungeon. Zendril carefully approaches the door, inspecting it for any signs of traps and listening for the sounds of any activity beyond it. His search reveals a hidden glyph upon the door, designed to trigger if the door is opened without first uttering the command to disable it. Beyond the door he can make out 3 distinctive noises, no doubt from the leaders of the invasion.
Though the door is trapped, Theranion has a way for the party to enter without tripping it. The door is old and has many cracks in its frame. By using several potions of gaseous form, the party will be able to slip through undetected and position themselves to surround the remaining invaders. The trick will be timing it right, since they will have no control over when the potions' effects wear off.
Once through the door, they discover the room is actually a large abandoned family mausoleum. The walls are lined with several alcoves with plaques covering each of the burial crypts in the walls. At the far end of the room is a large statue, depicting an ancient ancestor of the De'Arnise family. And in front of the statue are three giant trolls hovering over a man that the party quickly identifies as Nalia's father.
The largest of the trolls is dressed very elaborately, especially for a troll, and there is little doubt this is the leader of the troll invaders. The troll is growling at the man, demanding to know where he has hidden the rest of the family's treasure hordes. The man refuses to answer, and the troll raises up a multi-lashed scourge whip and proceeds to beat the man repeatedly with it.
In an instant, Nataya flies into a fit of rage, and charges headlong at the trolls. The trolls and the rest of the party are momentarily caught off guard by the sudden outburst. Nataya's hatred of trolls is well known to the party by this time, but never have they seen her go into a blind rage like this. They can only guess that something far worse than trolls has set her off.
She slaughters the first troll before the others can even react, slicing straight through its body with the sheer force of her attack. A moment later, the rest of the party opens fire on the other 2 trolls. The leader of the trolls backs off a few steps, and begins casting a spell while the other engages the party. The party is not fast enough to stop the casting, and is hit by a cloud of poisonous gas.
The poison leaves half the party temporarily incapacitated, and it is up those still standing to fend off the attacks of the two trolls. The second troll falls after a few minutes, but not before the leader has had a chance to cripple most of the party. It falls to Zendril to engage the leader, as the amulet he wears protected him from the effects of the poison. Theranion manages to follow and uses his own magical skills against the remaining troll while Zendril keeps him from casting any further spells.
As the leader finally falls, his body beings to morph, quickly changing to that of a middle-aged man bearing the clothes and adornments of an unidentified nobleman. It is by this time that Nalia has returned from leading her aunt to safety, and sees her father's lashed body lying on the ground. The beating he took from the leader proved to much for him, and he died sometime during the battle. The party watches silently as Nalia bends over her father's body, while Nataya lets out her frustrations on the charred body of one of the trolls in the far corner.
The party has been successful at clearing the trolls from De'Arnise Keep, but arrived too late to save Nalia's father. To make matters worse, the party has discovered that the whole attack had been orchestrated by the head of the Roenall family, a long-time rival of the De'Arnise family.
Nalia keeps her word to the party, rewarding them for their efforts with a large amount of coin, and allows them access to two of the treasures that the party saw on display on the 2nd floor (one of which is the last flail head). She then invites them to attend her father's funeral once all the preperations have been made.
A few days later, the party meets up with Nalia again at her father's funeral. It is there they encounter Isaea Roenall, who insists that Nalia honor the engagement their parents arranged years ago. But she refuses, citing the fact that it was Isaea's own father who set the trolls upon her home and killed her father. After a heated argument, Isaea storms off.
But, Isaea is far from done. Hours later, he tracks down Nalia and the party. He has the city magistrate and several city guards with him, and a court order demanding that Nalia be taken into custody until she agrees to the marraige. Under the laws of Amn, an arranged marraige is a binding contract between noble houses. With no living male heir to dispute the contract, Nalia must comply or lose her family estate to the Roenall family.
Again, she refuses, and is taken into custody. Isaea gives a sneering glance to the party, and walks off with Nalia in tow. Ironhorse finds himself resisting the urge to deck the guy, knowing full well that any attack against a nobleman would only land him in jail or worse. The party heads immediately to the government district of the city, in hopes of finding some way of freeing Nalia from Isaea's claim. They are ultimately unsuccessful, and decide to retire for the evening before trying again tomorrow.
They no sooner reach the marketplace when they are beset by thugs lurking in the darkness of the alleys. The party finds in the gang of thugs an opportunity to blow some steam, and engages. A few minutes of battle, and it is over. One of the thugs lay dead, while the rest flee into the night. Far more interesting than the fight, however, is what the party finds on the body. Tucked away in his belt pouch is a note with instructions to capture the party, and then take them to the Copper Coronet with the rest of the "merchandise".
The party sets off for the Copper Coronet inn, and begins quietly investigating the place closer. They convince (as in, threaten) the barkeep to give them information, and he points them towards the private backrooms. It is here they find the private rear area of the inn has been converted into a makeshift pit-fighting arena where human slaves are forced to battle against both wild animals and each other. Pit-fighting is not against the law in Amn, so such a place is not an unexpected sight. However, slave-trading is a violation, so the inn has kept its contests under wraps through bribery and secrecy.
The party tries to free the slaves held there, and discover the locks are designed too well to break or pick open. They need to find the slaver in charge of the contests, who also happens to be the one who traps and trains the beasts used in the fights. Nataya is more than happy to lead the party in finding this beastmaster and "teach" him about what a wild beast is capable of (moody lately, isn't she?).
The party ends up alerting every slaver in the building to their presence (yes, it was Nataya's fault this time) once they find and gut the beastmaster. They quickly free the slaves held there, who help the party fight the remaining slavers on their way out.
After things have settled down, the unofficial leader of the slaves takes control of the inn, employing the aid of the hapless barkeep (who as it turns out, was hired recently and only suspected the pitfighters might be slaves.) The party learns from the slaves' leader that there are more being kept in a warehouse near the east end of the slums.
Thanks to his help, the party has little trouble finding the place, and they fight their way in to where the remaining slaves are held. After freeing them, the party continues on to find the reamining slavers who fled deeper into the recesses of the building. It is here they encounter Yan-ti mages assisting the slavers, who pose a serious problem for the party. The last of the Yan-ti attempts to cast a Polymorph spell at Ironhorse, but botches the final part of the spell as Ironhorse's blade comes down hard on it. The spell goes wild, and Ironhorse suddenly finds his physical form turned into that of a Crystal Dragon!
The transformation proves confusing, as he only has the physical form, and none of the knowledge or abilities. Worse yet, he finds it extremely difficult to use his class abilities. After a few stunned moments, the party pushes on, hoping to find a way to turn him back once they have dealt with the leader of the slavers.
At last, the leader of the slavers lies dead, and in his office the party finds several revealing documents. One of them refers to several transactions involving none other than Isaea Roenall. The party realizes that this is just what they need to help Nalia. If Isaea were exposed as a criminal, it could invalidate his claim on her and her family's estate. However, they will need to find more proof...
(Note from the author: I admit I have been neglecting Campaign Chronicles, and that I am way behind on the party's adventures. In an effort to catch up to the party's more recent adventures, the chronicles from this point on will consist mostly of summaries and important information for each adventure. I may review these chronicles at a later time, and expand the details as time and memory allows.)
In trying to free Nalia from the schemings of the Roenall family, the party has exposed a slaver operation within the city. They have also found some evidence implicating Isaea Roenall, but need to find more proof before they can go before the magristrate.
While the rest of the party plies the docks in search of more information, Zendril sneaks into the Roenall family manor in the city. He carefully cases the manor, looking for hidden switches and compartments in each room. Finally, he discovers a false bottom in the desk in Isaea's room, containing a pile of documents and manifests which link Isaea to several slaver groups that operate along the Sword Coast.
Armed with the documents, he meets up with the rest of the party, and proceeds to the magistrate's office. However, Isaea discovers Zendril's break-in, and dispatches the city guard, along with a few of his personal guards, to prevent the party from reaching the magistrate. In a surprising round of diplomacy from Zendril and Theranion, the party is able to convince the city guard that the only thing "stolen" from Isaea's manor were the documents incriminating him.
When the city guard agrees to take the party before the magistrate, Isaea's guards attempt to ambush the party (as per orders given them prior to meeting the party). Thankfully, the city guards escorting the party remain alert, and assist the party in staving off the ambush attempt. The guards that attacked are restrained and arrested, and the party is taken to the magistrate to present their evidence.
Upon reviewing the party's evidence, the magistrate calls for Isaea's immediate arrest, and orders Nalia's release from Isaea's custody. In the days that follow, Isaea is found guilty of multiple crimes related to his dealings with the slave trade, including conspiracy in the murders of the De'Arnise family. In a move intended as a formal apology, the court grants Nalia the title to what remains of her family estate, one of the few times in Amn's history that a female has been granted the right to own land.