The Heroic Levels
Local men and women from a number of hamlets and small villages around the edges of the Barony of Knightsmark started to disappear. As time went on word spread of strange goings on near the Snakewood forest so a group of locals banded together to protect the ones they loved. In time these ‘Protectors’ as people called them, ended up doing battle with many vile creatures. Kobolds, goblins and even orcs before they faced dead friends and loved one that had been raised against them!
Eventually a trail of evidence lead to a small Orc tribe that controlled the goblins and kobolds of the area and battle was joined. The Orc leaders died during the final battle and would not surrender, for there was something else he was more scared off than the heroes. A search of the Orc tribes cave complex discovered that the Orcs were merely following the orders given to them by a Gnoll Shaman located somewhere deeper in the Snakewood. The true enemy was at last known! The heroes also discovered that the missing villagers may still be alive, as the Orcs had been under orders to take them all alive as the villagers were to be used by the shaman in some kind of bizarre ritual. After the heroes returned from the cave complex, the survivors they had rescued and the local people named the heroes the “Protectors of Knightsmark”.
Before heading off in search of the Gnoll lair, the ‘protectors’ went to the town of Fallon and were meet by a representative of the Baron. It seemed that the Baron had heard of their exploits and had requested the ‘protectors’ presence. The heroes travelled to the local capital, meet with the Baron and explained all that had transpired over the last few months. They were surprised to find that the Baron had also been investigating, as he had rangers and scouts exploring the forest to find out the truth behind the attacks. His local agents also kept him informed about the heroes’ activities. He was pleased with what the heroes had been doing and then charged them with putting an end to the evil that had befallen his Barony. Honour and gold would be their reward.
Time passed and eventually the unholy temple where the Gnoll Shaman was performing his evil rites was found, and so the heroes set off deep in the Snakewood. The final battle with the Gnoll Shaman was terrible, for the heroes had to face a creatures summoned to this plane by dark magic of many blood sacrifices. The blood magic had opened a portal to directly behind his altar and if it was not closed, the shaman would summon more allies through. The heroes attacked after sneaking into the complex, while forces of the Barony and the Duke launched a greater assault on the surrounding area. And so the finally battle was fought.
Many good friends died during the battle in the shamans temple, but the heroes were triumphant! The portal was eventually closed and the Beast of Roaug that the shaman had summoned was slain. The Gnoll and his acolytes died to the last in the frenzied battle. A strange ally was made during the battle; a kobold that had been chained to the altar and was soon to be sacrificed was (occurring to the clerics in the heroes ranks) not evil. With his limited use of common the kobold explained that he wanted to free his people and stop the evil of the gnoll, but he had failed and was to die. He pledged his loyalty to the heroes and said that he would repay each of them in turn one day for saving him, even if it took his whole life.
Those that died in the battle were carefully wrapped in cloth and taken outside, while the temple was searched for clues, loot collected and prisoners located and freed. The name of the cult was discovered amongst the insane writings – ‘Cult of Roaug’. This meant nothing to the heroes but once everything had been searched and collected, the temple was laid waste and purified through fire.
The forces of the Barony and those provided by the Duke returned to the local capital and the heroes meet with the Duke of Greenwood himself. The Baron praised the heroes and prayed for those friends that had been lost and gave his reward to the heroes as promised. After conferring with the Duke, the baron presented the surviving members of the ‘Protectors of Knightmark’ with ‘Red Daggers’ and said that in his youth he and the Duke had also followed their dreams of adventure. He explained that the pair had been members of an adventuring band called the ‘Crimson Blades’. The pair had decided that a new group should form, called the Crimson Brotherhood and all the surviving heroes became members. The Duke and Baron would be the groups’ patrons and so the Crimson Brotherhood was formed. The Duke set aside a Guild Hall within his capital city for the Brotherhood to use as a main base of operations.
After the grand feast in honour of the new Crimson Brotherhood, much of the information that had been gathered was reviewed. It seemed that the Gnoll and its minions were not the only possible servants of this cult causing the undercurrent of fear around the Barony. Further investigation lead to the heroes deciphering the shaman’s title; ‘Soul Captain’ and that he worshipped a ‘god’ called Roaug, the Harvester of Souls. All that was known of Roaug was that he was an evil being that wanted more power in the mortal realms so that it would help influence his position in the Shadowfell. Over the next twelve months the Brotherhood investigated the cult and eliminated those followers that remained until life returned to normal for the folk of the Duchy of Greenwood.
It has now been between six years since the cult was no more and even longer since that fateful battle with the Gnoll and the closure of the gate to the Shadowfell. Some members of the Brotherhood travelled to other places in the Realms (and beyond!) to see if they could find any further information on the cult. Other members stayed in the Duchy to continue bringing peace to the region and encourage friendly ties with the Duchy’s neighbours. For the members that that stayed, the Brotherhood went out and tracked down another ‘Soul Captain’ and finally the cult was dealt a death blow.
Now it is only three days to the festival and those members of the Brotherhood that have been away are returning to see old friends and remember those they lost all those years ago…