Traveling south towards Keadle, the group got to know their new acquaintance, Tharamil. Several days out from Keadle, they spotted a tall tower to the northeast, but simply took note of it as they had more pressing business. Even though they passed the days with nothing to see but flowing grasslands and blue sky, their senses were not dulled. Which was very fortunate when they were set upon by a pair of lionesses barely a day outside of Keadle.
A vicious fight ensued, with one lioness almost dragging Sandolin off his horse. He got away and led the cat on a chase while firing arrows at it’s ally. The group focused on bring the first cat down and then the one chasing Sandolin. After which Wikket patched up an almost eviscerated Sandolin and they approached Keadle.
Not sure of how they would be received at the city, Zubrod decided to travel ahead with Bellamin riding magical mount he summoned while the rest of the group waited an hour away from the city. As the two approached the gates, they opened without anyone calling out to either traveler. Coming closer they saw a figure waiting for them, Zubrod recognized him as none other than Fai Udaski, the duke of House Green. He greeted them happily, but showed concern for how few there were. He asked if more were coming and seemed very distracted while muttering something about a prophecy. Zubrod confirmed there were others, but they had waited at a distance not knowing how they would be received. The duke seemed visibly relieved and asked to have them come up to the city. Zubrod dictated a note to a scribe the duke brought out and gave it to his wolf companion and asked the wolf to return to the group and give the note to the dwarf.
After the wolf left, Zubrod and Bellamin pressed the duke for more details about the Prophecy he mentioned but he would say no more about it until the remainder of the group arrived. After a couple hours of waiting the rest of the group arrived and the Duke lead them through the city. Upon entering, the group saw a massive spectacle. The streets were crammed with people, and as the gates to the city closed behind them and what appeared to be the entire city guard fall into parade step behind them, they realized they were the guests of honor in the parade through the city. The procession made it’s way through practically the entire city, winding back and forth, and all along the route, stood people cheering and shouting for them, sitting on roof tops and hanging from balconies. The keen ears of some of the group even heard snippets of conversation from the crowd, mentioning the ‘Mother’s Prophecy’.
Upon arriving at the castle, the Duke lead everyone inside, but instead of sitting down to discuss what was on everyone’s mind, there was an enormous banquet already prepared for them and the nobility of House Green. The were introduced and seated at the dukes table for the party. Though food was brought out, the group was allowed to mingle with all the nobility, some jumping into the temporary spotlight, while others pulled back to the edges of the crowd. After the feast and most of the nobility had left, the Duke continued the party well into the night, evading most attempts to press him into revealing more about this prophecy. He asked everyone to enjoy themselves with everything he offered. Almost everyone of the group did so well into the night before going to rest. Tharimil, stayed up a while and scouted around the castle noting the presence of guards and servants in the castle.
In the morning, after everyone woke and cleaned up, the group gathered and went to the Duke almost demanding answers. The Duke, agreed to take them to let them meet someone that knew more about the prophecy than he did. Down the stairs and past a set of guards that Tharimil had seen the night before. Down a flight of stairs and past what appeared to be a small altar and up another set of stairs, the group followed the Duke. After walking up considerably more stairs than they remembered the castle having, Bellamin pressed the Duke about where they were. He was quite sure they could no longer be in the castle. The Duke merely smiled as they came to the top of the stairs. A very old guard was seated in front of a gate, seeing the Duke he jumped up and stammered a greeting, saying he did not expect to see him so soon. The guard turned to open the gate, and the Duke lead everyone inside to a massive hall. Easily thirty or more feet tall, a hundred or more feet long, and 40 feet across, the hall was empty and almost silent. Small alcoves to the sides held statues with unrecognizable features. The Duke proceeded down the center of the hall, pausing only to pull an amulet of some kind out from underneath his tunic. Chanting a short passage as he walked forward, the group noticed two huge statutes at the end of the hall, their hands locked together above a center doorway, had turned their heads to look at the group walking down the hall. Their eyes were glowing blue as the Duke pricked a finger and wiped some of his blood onto the clear gem in the center of his amulet. The stone seemed to absorb his blood and as he held up the amulet and finished the chant, the gem flashed a bright red. The eyes of the two statues flashed this same red color then turned their heads back to look at each other and they stopped moving. Once closer, Wikket noted that the statues seemed to be early depictions of the gods, Hasha and Zeran, though they were missing what are normally considered the god’s signature weapons.
The Duke lead them into the doorway underneath the grappling statues, and into a small, barely lit room. The sole occupant, an elderly woman with strange blueish skin seated on a low couch. ‘Mother’, the duke said, ‘I have brought them. The Protectors.’ She turned to address the newcomers, smiled slightly, and dismissed the Duke. Obviously unsettled by this, the Duke stammered for a moment before leaving the room. Once the Duke had left, The woman, who never introduced herself, answered some of the groups questions, though definitely not to their satisfaction. She did reveal there was some presence driving House Black, and that it might be the start of this issue. Their presence, and the hope they represented, would protect and ensure the continuance of House Green she explained. She seemed to be some kind of seeress, though her vision of the future was imperfect. She said they need not remain in the city, but their arrival was enough to provide the city with hope to continue on the path it had set itself on.
Getting no more answers from her, the group took their leave and rejoined the Duke. He did not press them for details but simply lead them back down the stairs. On the way down, Bellamin questioned the Duke more about the location of where they were at and where the other stairs led, the Duke said the other 3 staircases lead back to Castle in various places. He lead them up a different staircase to prove it to them.
The group spent a few more days in Keadle gathering supplies and researching some connections to House Black. After confirming the Duke was not in league with House Black, and even obtaining a written note from him to deliver to The Council in Edril, the group left Keadle. After several days of travel, during one watch, Ryan and Zubrod heard a strange popping sound near the camp, but nothing approached the camp, or was there at dawn.
Several more days of travel and they had almost reached Edril, when the group was suddenly ambushed. A large lion with slightly red-tinged fur and strange bony protrusions thrusting from it’s head, spine and shoulders rushed out of the tall grass. At the same time behind them, a red skinned humanoid with similar bony parts and a large glaive rushed the group. Firing several arrows at the lion, both Zubrod and Sandolin wounded it. Tharimil fired on the humanoid wheeling his horse around to face him. Ryan and Ogio, leapt off the wagon to charge at the humanoid as he struck Tharimil. The lion jumped and slashed Zubrod but couldn’t pull him down. Bellamin and Regred cast spells on the glaive wielding creature, only to have them turned away by some sort of repulsion.
Zubrod pulled his horse away from the lion, continuing to fire arrows at it as Wikket rode up to strike it. The lion ran after Zubrod, raking him with claws but still failing to pull him off the horse. Ryan and Ogio, with excellent tactics pinned the humanoid creature close between them while most of the group focused on the crazed lion, damaging and weakening it with spells. Instead of trying to move away, Zubrod bravely stood his ground and fired more arrows into the lion hoping to kill it. Sadly it did not, and the lion grabbed Zubrod in it’s massive jaws and pulling him to the ground tore his body into several pieces. The humanoid creature, surrounded and hard pressed disappeared right from between Ryan and Ogio. The group turned all attention to the lion and quickly brought it down. Reflecting on the battle, Bellamin was able to recal the name of the creature they had faced, a Barbazu, a hateful soldier devil.
Though they had lost one of their own, they collected his items and body, perhaps the clerics for the army would be able to do something for him…