Heroes of Terra
King Gregor Trent II cleared out Castle Ferrule before he ascended to the throne and it was claimed as part of the small kingdom that he was helping to build with his grandfather. When Prince Victor was of age, he was given control of Castle Ferrule. The Prince attracted many refugees from the countryside and built the village of Ferringham near his castle for the people to live. It has been 10 years since he was granted control of the castle by his father and the village has prospered. Lately, though, there has been no word from Ferringham and the king is worried.
As the group is preparing to finish clearing their newly acquired keep, king Gregor Trent II urgently requests their presence. Once they arrive, they are quickly ushered into his presence where he apologizes for interrupting their important work. He wants them to journey to the village of Ferringham and visit Castle Ferrule to check on his son, Prince Victor. He hasn’t heard from him in months and with the arrival of spring, he should have sent word by now about the passing winter. On the road to Ferringham, the group encounters more orcs of the Deathmoon tribe who fly into a rage and attack them on sight, claiming vengeance for their fallen comrade; the powerful barbarian orc named Thogbad; that the group dispatched a month ago on the King’s Road when they were headed for the Keep of Forgotten Kings in what is now known as the Northern territory. They also encounter skullcrusher ogres who swear revenge for their fallen companion; whose name was Drax. They also encounter a few Hill giants and after the battle, as one of them lays dying, he tells them that it is not over….winter will return and they will have their revenge. They have nearly arrived at their destination when they meet a dwarven contingent led by Prince Ironhorn. They have some harsh words but each goes their own way at the end of the encounter. Hellraiser later remembers that Prince Ironhorn was the name of the guy who hired Kazmir (the Magpie Man) to retrieve the Earthcrown for him. When the party arrives at Castle Ferrule to check on the prince, They are ambushed by the Hellstrike Legion; a group of Barghest mercenaries. They also combat several chain devils and free prisoners that were taken from the village. Also, they find a journal that explains how the Prince fell on hard times and sought an easier method of obtaining power and everything else he wanted. He located an artifact known as the Hellspike that could be used to summon devils to do his bidding. Of course, this was not without its risks. One still had to be able to control what you summon as the Prince soon learned. One devil named Kazarzikal had proved to be too much for him. He had transformed the castle into a lava riddled ruin more to his liking and begun subjugating the villagers so that more devils could be summoned. It is clear from the journal that the prince died during a failed plan to take back the castle from Karzarzikal. The group decides to search for Kazarzikal and destroy the hellspike so that it would no longer be a threat. After combating Vargouilles, more Hellstrike Legionaire Barghests, and a dozen lemures, the group confronts Kazarzikal (a barbed devil) and his mistress, the hellmaiden (an Erinyes). Kazarzikal is trying to complete his sacrfices so that he can summon more devils as the group advances. They manage to save some of the prisoners and prevent Kazarzikal from summoning more of his kind. He escapes, cursing at them but they do defeat his hellmaiden and her imp companion. After searching the Hellmaiden’s suite they discover her journal, where it details Kazarzikal’s plans to make a deal with some creature known as Verorax. They want to use an item in his possession to locate a lost fragment of the Hellspike. Once they have it, they can create a permanent gate to the nine hells. A ritual must be carefully carried out when this occurs. It must be done as soon as possible after reuniting the Hellspike with the shard because the Hellspike, while completely indestructible currently, becomes vulnerable once reunited with the spike. The party travels down to Verorax’s (a beholder) lair; known as the Mushroom cavern. There, they are constantly assaulted by Verorax’s minions and are forced to retreat. After leaving the cavern, they are met outside by Kazarzikal. He says that he can restore the party’s health with healing potions in his possession if they agree to slay Verorax now. The party declines the offer but Karzarzikal leaves the potions for them anyway and swiftly departs. The party determines that the potions are genuine and use them but decide not to engage Verorax until the spellcasters have rested and recovered spells. After the party leaves, Kazarzikal goes and kills Verorax and uses the item (which allows him to see the location of the shard) and immediately teleports there. The party comes in and discovers the remains but not the item used to learn the location of the fragment. They do find a journal, written by one of the derro servitors, that entail Verorax’s plans to journey overland and retrieve the spike himself. It details directions painstakingly acquired over the years by Verorax that will take the group from Castle Ferrule to the Temple of the Prismatic Flame some hundreds of miles distant. It is enough of a description to attempt a teleport. So, Peter teleports the group to the location described. Here they combat Salamanders, wraiths, and a powerful stone golem. They also find the remains of Kazarzikal, who was disintegrated while trying to grab the shard. After locating a tome that describes the ritual used to free the shard, the party completes the ritual. They take the shard back to Castle Ferrule, reunite it with the Hellspike and then destroy the Hellspike while it is vulnerable. After this, they notice a strange chain dangling into the lava. They pull it out and discover that it is attached to a crystal. The wizard determines that it is used to imprison life essence. After much discussion, they decide to break the crystal and free the imprisoned soul. The soul imprisoned turned out to be Aura, the goddess of goodness and light. She immediately restores the party’s ability damage and hit points and departs urging the party to keep up the good work. p(. A group of rangers and archers are waiting for the group when they return to Ferringham from the Temple of the Prismatic Flame. They arrived a day earlier and have been caring for and protecting the surviving villagers in the group’s absence. They are known as “the Order of the Bow” and are also seeking official recognition from the king to operate as a law enforcement entity (like knights). The king hasn’t taken them too seriously so far but if the group were to put in a good word for them or even join their order, it would go a long way towards getting the king’s approval. Also in their presence is a powerful Psion from the enclave back in Rhoan. He claims that he has a device created by one of the Psions of the Enclave High Council that can restore life to the dead. The condition for its use is that he be allowed to join their group The only way to raise a fallen companion is by psionics. Clerics are returning but they are still rare and none of them is yet powerful enough to raise the dead. The Psions are looking to maintain their prominence and see that the group is a force to be reckoned with. One of the conditions that must be met if they are to raise the paladin is that one of their psions may join the group on their adventures. They hope that this will give them the ‘boost’ they are looking for with the people of the city. The group agrees to the deal and Orion uses the item he was given to restore life to the Paladin. The Paladin finds that he now has spells available and he chooses a villager to become his priest and cohort. The light of the goddess manifests and John becomes a priest in service to Sir Henri.
On the road home, The group once again encounters Prince Ironhorn. He was seeking the Earthcrown on their first meeting, but now he has learned that the group may have acquired the Hellspike and wants that for his own evil purposes. He finds out that the characters found it and destroyed it, so he becomes angry and attacks. The dwarves have increased in number. Ironhorn has gathered several other dwarves to his banner during his travels with the promise of riches and power. Many of them are well-trained and well-equipped. The two sides battle and many dwarves are killed but eventually Sir Henri forces Ironhorn to surrender. He then sets him free and advises him never to return to this kingdom. Jargol is the brother of Thogbad and has recently learned that his brother was killed by adventurers. He announces himself and states who he is looking for (he doesn’t want to waste his powerful rage and frenzy abilities until he finds the people responsible for his brother’s death). The other orcs are insistent about attacking the group as their chieftan has commanded but Jargol is the leader. Combat soon ensues and the group defeats the orcs. Upon arriving back at the Keep, the group encounters Miriah. She is a night hag and coveness of old. She was concubine to the former lords of the keep and it is her daughter that the wizard killed. The pets (Fiendish Girallons) were a gift to her daughter from Miriah. She came to check on her daughter, only to find that she and her pets have been slaughtered. She now seeks answers and she has brought along a favored companion. A paladin and one of the forgotten lords of the keep that she once corrupted before he died. Now he has been raised as a Death Knight and serves her. The group battles for a long time and eventually defeat the powerful duo. By the time the characters return from Hellspike Prison, the king has gathered some workers together and they have begun cleaning out the Keep of Forgotten Kings for the group. Much work has been done in the group’s absence. The framework for the new walls is already in place and the stone has been gathered. Masons and carpenters are busy attending to the construction process. All the characters need do is insure that they are properly paid for their services and materials. Then, there is also the matter of the dwarven prince who came demanding the return of the earth crown. He was very interested in the manner in which it was obtained and when King Gregor told him that the group had gone to Castle Ferrule, he quickly departed. The king has a feeling they haven’t seen the last of Prince Ironhorn. The next order of business, of course, is to inform the king of the prince’s fate. He is sorrowed at his son’s passing but he already had assumed the worst when he sent the group.