By Jamey Martin
The Brothers of Doom and the Sunset Vale
Spring 1369DR to present
Just prior to Tyros' fisticuff with the Reacher, Hector had asked the Morayan about the experience at Blackfeather Bridge , where he and Stradidar disappeared to, and how they came to arrive here in the Sunset Vale? In turn, the Reacher told of how the foul wizard they faced at Blackfeather Bridge had teleported himself and Stradidar into the arena at Hillsfar. Of how the arena's crowd went wild as they slaughtered wave after wave of fighting men and other monstrosities.... even as they did as prisoners of Maalthir in years past. At length it came to pass that the vengeful Lord of Hillsfar ordered a number of wizards in his service to launch a magical assault on the terrible duo, and it was at that point that the Brothers of Doom stormed the gate, fought there way into the arena's interior, and ultimately escaped via the same secret passage they had used in years past.
From Hillsfar, they made their way down to Ordulin, where they found that Hector and his band had already departed for the Eastern Shaar . Thus, they decided to pick up the trail of the CoT, where they had left off.... in Elturel. And so they journeyed eastward along the Eastway, out of Sembia, through the Dalelands, and across the northern reaches of Old Cormyr. Not since the Avatar Wars had the Brothers ridden this path, and just as then they left the road behind as the emerged onto the Tunland and made for Yellowsnake Pass.
Arriving in Hills Edge, the Brothers of Doom learned that a great battle had only recently been waged between a force of famous Cormyreans and their Harpers allies against the Cult of Tiamat in the Battle of the Bones. According to the rumour, the forces of goodness had succeeding in destroying the cult and the survivors had since retired to Berdusk for the winter.
And so the Brothers of Doom left off the familiar path that had, in years now past, led to the death of Bhaal, and rode southward down the Dawn Trail (Dusk Trail to Eastern Mapmakers) and on to Berdusk. Once there they were told that if the CoT had this "heart of Kazgoroth" that they were searching for, it was still probably somewhere in the Battle of the Bones. With the season at it's end however, the Brothers decided to put off an expedition to the Battle of the Bones until spring.
As the year ran down, they heard of a great undead horde that had over run the Vale, including Asbravn ... which had only recently covered from the two beatings it took during the Second Orc Wars ... and so decided to join the Berduskan Gauntlet sent to reclaim the area. With the aid of an Iriaebian Shield, this task was quickly accomplished. It was decided that a great effort would be made to erect a massive fortress upon this site come spring.
The following spring the Brothers set out for the Battle of the Bones along with a Harper and a few Helmites, who were massing in the area in hopes of retaking Hluthvar from the undead horde.
In the mean time, the Alliance had sent a scouting party up the Dawn Trail , and first to within sight of the Darkhold. When this party failed to return, they sent a smaller, more powerful force to Hluthvar. This band returned to tell of numerous undead roaming the lands, particularly around the township. Some of these undead were reported to have been acting under with cunning, under the command of ghouls and wights.
Returning from the Battle of the Bones empty handed, but with reports of significantly less undead roaming that area, the Brothers of Doom once again signed on with the Alliance .
Another winter passed, with the break of last spring ('72) a great host of Helmites, complimented by the forces of the Alliance (the Brothers of Doom amongst them), rode forth to reclaim Hluthvar. As they neared the walled town, they witnessed a great host of winged fiends flying southward.
Trusting in the skill of their fellows, the crusaders continued their advance, cleaving through a number of undead patrols, and at last penetrating into the town. It was here however that the heavy fighting began, as some of the ghouls and wights showed themselves capable of casting spells, which smote down more than one wizard and priest. Moreover, the temple of Helm had become the hold of a great dracolich named Threshlengor the Merciless. While the mightiest heroes of the gathered force were able to best this horror, its phylactery could not be found before scouts reported that the horde of winged fiends that had flown south was now returning. Sensing that the tide had turned, the men huddled in the ruins of Hluthvar until an opportune moment allowed them to effect a goodly, if fighting, retreat.
Returning to fairer pastures, the collective force learned that the Crimson Fortress had suffered some damage, while Iriaebor had received some heavy damage, along with numerous hamlets into between the two. Apparently, three dragons had also been involved in this raid. Thus it was that folk began to whisper what Stradidar and the Reacher had been saying all along ... the CoT was not dead, and that, over a dozen dead heroes of high calibre or not, this was all the CoT's doing.
As an inordinate number of Helmites from across the Western Heartland flocked to the Crimson Fortress, with the full approval of the powers that be, a suicide mission was organized to scout out the Darkhold and at last determine their hand in all of this. Of all those who ventured forth, only the Brothers of Doom managed to return. And with mounting impatience they reported that the Darkhold was over-run by a non-Zhentish force made up of some men, but mostly orcii, bugbears, and numerous winged beings of draconic appearance. More tellingly, the Darkhold flew the standard of a five-headed dragon.
Such were the tales told by the Reacher, amidst much digression regarding the Avatar Wars, the death of Bhaal and Myrkul, the sissiness of Cyric, and the rightly meted out abuse that Stradidar and the Reacher had heaped upon the shifty eyed wretch.
The content of And Dragons Shall Rule is the property and copyright of Jamey Martin, and is not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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