The road stretched ahead of them, barely visible in the wilderness, toward Eyllisenddare on the other side of the unclaimed territory. What awaited them there?
The party headed into the untamed land between Savrannirsse and Eyllisenddare as the sun approached its zenith. Nolt drove the wagon, and Saline sat beside him, watching for monsters and raiders.
They were about half-way to the border of the forest when a huge shape burst out of the ground by the side of the road, spooking the horses. Nolt fought desperately to control them, but the wagon veered from side to side, throwing Saline from her seat. She rolled to a stop on the ground and lay still as the horses plunged toward the horizon with the monster in pursuit.
The hulking form swiped at the wagon, catching one of the back wheels and tearing out its spokes. Nolt fought with the reigns and tried to shoot the monster with one of his poisoned crossbow bolts. Ragnor leaned out the back of the wagon and swiped at the thing with his morningstar and axe, doing a fair bit of damage.
The wagon skewed to the left as the back wheel shattered, and the traces broke from the horses, who fled toward the horizon.
Nolt leapt off the wagon and shot a bolt at the monster as Ragnor dusted himself off and charged the thing. The monster swung at Nolt with its huge arms, but he managed to dodge the blows. Ragnor shouted to him to look out behind him, but it was too late. A dozen tiny arrows seemed to grow out of his back as a troupe of goblins rushed from a group of rocks piled near the roadside. Nolt slumped to the ground as the goblins piled onto his arms and legs, holding him while their fellows beat him with clubs. Ragnor fought bravely, but the great monster battered him mercilessly. Finally, with one last burst of strength, he plunged his axe into the monster’s neck, and the thing fell to the ground. As Ragnor braced his legs for the coming goblins, his vision blurred, and he lost consciousness.
When Saline caught up to the wagon, the goblins had taken what they wanted and pulled Nolt to pieces. She searched the wagon and found the true Orian Branch. She put it in her pack and headed toward the woods.
When she got there, she took the road south to Millfaire, where she sold the Branch and went into hiding.
In Kepita, Grayson delivered the fake Branch to Julian without any trouble, but that night, Rayne got drunk in the castle tavern and revealed the deception. Julian’s spies informed him of the truth, and Julian had Grayson, Rayne, Kheldar, and Alayla accused of trying to assassinate the emperor and hanged as traitors after a summary trial.
Here ends the campaign of Nolt Hyum and the other adventurers from Marsena.