Garret - Half-Elf Valorous Bard
Alaric - Elf Archer Ranger
Gaknar - Goblin companion character (striker)
Annie - Human companion character (defender)
Back to Argondale
The party remained in Darhadash long enough for Garret to finally master several rituals which there hadn't been time for earlier. Alaric explored the city and the caverns around it, finding a way out that didn't involve going upstream in the river. Gaerbin decided to stay in the city and study it more thoroughly (the character's player will be unable to play for quite some time, so this was a convenient place for him to part ways with the party--for now).
After leaving the ruined city they traveled for several days along a path that followed the river. At one point Alaric spotted several sets of tracks. Some were barefoot Shifter tracks, and others were light, moccassined tracks (likely Elf). Sure enough, the next day they came upon a clearing that contained a structure of standing stones (akin to Stonehenge), where about a half-dozen Elves and Shifters were meeting. They reported that a local group of Gnolls has gotten extremely organized recently, and took out their respective tribes. They were the only survivors, and planned on dispersing into the forest and laying low for a while. The Gnolls marched onward toward the village of Whitehall after they conquered the tribes, and the PCs decided to follow them. Of course, upon getting to the main road they saw the Gnoll tracks heading north, but an odd set of tracks headed south toward Argondale. The left foot was a Warforged's, but the right foot was narrower and more humanoid-shaped (but very heavily booted). They headed south after this strange creature, and about a mile into their journey they encountered a large crater and pieces of some type of humanoid - just like the craters they'd encountered in Lyria Castle. So the Volksair monster was still running around.
As they travelled along the west side of the lake, they heard a lot of shouting coming from the northern wall of Argondale. They rushed to the ferry to the West Gate, finding an evacuation in progress. Annie knocked Garret out because of his irrational fear of water, and threatened the dock worker with her greatsword to let them onto the ferry on its trip back to the city for the next group of people. They woke Garret up by dunking his head in the water, and then attempted to pass through the gates. There were guards around, however, and they were trying to protect the people and wouldn't let the party pass. Garret tried to convince them that they could stop the monster (though the guard was not persuaded, he let them pass because they may have been the city's best shot against it). They stopped at the Moonveil Inn and found it abandoned (and in a hurry; Gaknar was able to loot several high-end drinks for his waterskin), then continued north toward the Oakroot Inn where Skamos was hiding (they assumed that Tintrim had sent the monster after Skamos). When they neared the North Wall, they saw about a hundred archers shooting down at the outside, and an occasional loud bang against the stone. They quickly slipped into the Inn, finding Skamos frantically trying to get things together from the trapdoor. He fled toward the South Gate, with the party in pursuit.
Once outside the city wall (though still on the island), Skamos turned left toward the eastern wall. Their way was blocked by a congregation of guards. Skamos' annoyance quickly turned to terror as he saw several guards go flying through the air from around the bend. The Tiefling's face turned white, and he fled to the ferries. Alaric, Gaknar, and Annie followed him, along with several of the guards. Garret wanted to try an experiment; he would stand still against the wall and see if the monster would ignore him. Soon the monster came into view; it was an amalgamation of several different creatures stitched together. It's head looked small, as it was from a medium humanoid (Human? Elf? Half Elf?), and it had a cannon attached to one of its arms (though it didn't replace a functional hand). As it passed, it struck Garret, sending him flying ~15 feet into the lake (and Garret has a reason for hating water; low athletics combined with chainmail and a shield). He managed to swim slowly forward, bloodied, until his feet scraped the mucky lake bottom.
Meanwhile, Skamos and the rest of the party made their way into the crowd (violently), and were relieved to find that the monster headed straight into the city via the South Gate. It would be several ferry trips before they could make it off the island though, so Skamos ran back the way he came, explaining that Kaeleth was preparing a private boat for him on the eastern side of the island. They weaved through all of the dead bodies to find Kaeleth dead, but the boat minimally damaged. Skamos, Gaknar, and Alaric set about repairing it while Annie coaxed the sodden Garret up. Skamos launched the boat before they caught up, and a rope was thrown to them (the boat was too small for everyone anyways, so Annie and Garret were stuck clinging to the back of it after pulling themselves along the rope). Annie kicked to help them move faster, but Garret clung in terror, about to pass out. When they reached the far shore of the lake, Skamos ran into the woods. The party followed slowly behind and made camp, deciding to head to Marblemount instead of following Skamos.
The next day the party traveled back to the main road, witnessing the destruction that the Volksair monster had left in its wake. Hundreds of people were camped out in the farmland surrounding the lake, and there was a sickeningly large pile of bodies at the docks on the island - those that didn't make it to the ferry by the time the monster came back out. The journey to Marblemount took 11 days (on foot), and the party was able to stock up on basic supplies (food, rope, arrows) in small villages along the way.
Being a town that sits on a mountain pass, the guards of Marblemount (a heavily fortified city) allowed the party to pass no questions asked (apparently it wasn't out of the ordinary for all races, including Goblins, to travel through the city, as it was the only way over the mountains for miles). They asked about Baern, the Dwarf that Tintrim had planned on sending the bounty hunter Orsir after when he refused to help the Wizard. They learned that he was a very well-respected sage that resided in his own fortress (which has been in his Clan for generations). They sought an audience with him, and learned that Tintrim wanted Baern to allow him passage through the city with a steady supply of slaves. This was the proposal that Baern had refused, and the reason why Tintrim was going to send Orsir after him. Shortly after this occurred, people started disappearing in Marblemount and the crime rate decreased sharply. Baern told the party that if the crime rate goes down that much, then the Shadow Vipers (the most powerful thieve's guild in the city) were busy with something other than crime. Baern suspects that they're working for Tintrim.
Garret also asked Baern about the crystal that Annie had recovered from the Arkosian sword near the Grimslade ruins. He referred them to Brocc, a Gnome expert on magical crystals. Brocc lived in the Dwarven mining city of Forgehome, in the Underdark. So the party split up, with Alaric finding Underdark maps, Garret selling party loot, Annie securing a room at an inn, and Gaknar disappearing on "business," which he simply told the party was "secret" when they questioned him later that night (after a few drinks). The next morning he bought the entire party the best breakfast that the inn offerred, as this "business" had apparently earned him some coin. The party is suspicious of the "shady" behavior that Gaknar is exhibiting, despite the fact that he's saved their lives on multiple occasions.
The party was ambushed on their way out of the city by a group of debt collectors seeking Garret, who owes quite a bit of money to a man named Aaron Finch. When all but the leader (a mage) were dispatched, he fell to his knees and surrendered. Alaric knocked him out and Garret left a note on him, saying that if Finch wants his money he'll have to come get it himself. They looted the mage and headed out of the city. After following a path for about a mile, they entered into a cavern that led deep underground.