|Blood of Wintersbreath|
|The Taking of Fangwood Keep|
Just an hour outside of Fangwood Keep, Sloan and her traveling companions encountered a group of children hiding on the side of the highway. Able to coax them out, Sloan discovered that these children escaped from the bandits of Fangwood Keep — the Brotherhood of the Black Talon — and were attempting to run away. One of the youths had become injured from a fall, and the runaways were trying to determine what to do next. Sloan healed the injured child, then offered them some weapons and winter gear salvaged from the bandits up the road to protect themselves. Then, after instructing them on how to get to Crystalhurst and find the refugee camp, she sent them on their way.
Shortly after rescuing the children, Sloan's group emerged from the southern edge of the Fangwood and had their first vantage of Fangwood Keep across the Marideth River, and the nearby town of Marideth's Crossing. Sloan sent Ashera out to scout the area, and the elf returned an hour later with information indicating that Marideth's Crossing was occupied by the bandits and that its residents were effectively captives. However, Ashera didn't scout close to the keep, due to fear of being spotted in the daytime hours. After some deliberation, the group decided to have Ashera scout the perimeter of the keep after dusk while the group set up camp in the woods a few miles from the keep.
While camped, Durgan and Mechiam spoke with Sloan and Iandra, devising a strategy for taking the keep. But when Ashera returned and revealed that there may be a hidden drainage gate that feeds out into the riverone that could be used to sneak inside the fortificationthat plan changed. It would be Durgan and Iandra who would venture into Marideth's Crossing under the guise of merchants, then ambush the bandits in an attempt to draw their forces from the keep while Sloan, Ashera, and Mechiam infiltrate through the waterways.
As the plan went into motion, Durgan and Iandra traveled with the group's wagon into Marideth's Crossing, and Sloan's team crossed the frozen river under cover of night. The waterway grate was a sturdy obstacle, but Ashera, Mechiam, and Sloan were able to wrench it from its moorings. The subterranean passage into Fangwood Keep appeared to be a much older structure, one that Ashera remarked was reminiscent of ancient elven architecture she had seen dotting the Nirmathan hinterlands. From appearances, the tunnels had not seen use in many years and made for a quick point of ingress into the keep by way of a flight of stairs that traversed the interior of the north wall, ultimately opening into a secret passage in the keep's kitchen.
A kitchen that was occupied by a group of hungry — and then surprised — bandits.
From the moment Sloan's team arrived in the keep they were fighting a pitched battle. The fight in the kitchen spilled out into a dining hall, then a corridor. Sloan had the group pull back to one of the keep's towers, attempting to pursue a bandit who intended to sound an alarm bell. They were unable to catch up to him before he sounded the alarm, throwing the keep onto high alert. Sloan and Ashera took the opportunity to roost in the bell tower, firing down at the bandits in the courtyard as they streamed towards the keep, while Mechiam took a defensive position in the tower's doorway, fighting off the bandits as they attempted to close in.
From the bell tower, Sloan and Ashera could see flashes of lights from Marideth's Crossing; sure signs of Iandra's magic being employed. Once the courtyard was cleared, Sloan and Ashera descended from the tower and joined Mechiam in the melee. They battled against half of the keep's defenses, then the bandit's captain in a confrontation that spilled out into the keep's snowy garden. When the bandit captain was struck down by Sloan, the other bandits were panicked and began to withdraw. Mechiam quickly ascended another watch tower and set the Black Talon banner aflame, a sign that the keep had fallen.
A handful of bandits from the keep and more from Marideth's Crossing fled into the night, and Sloan would stand victorious among a circle of the dead.
|Continued In||Aftermath I|