A short lull in the action provided your intrepid reporter a precious few minutes to question Gustavus. Naturally the first question that came to mind was how it had all started, what insane stroke of fortune brought together Gustavus’ noble band and set them on the course for greatness?
In response Gustavus had a chilling tale to relate, one that is familiar to many of our fine readers and will send chills down the spines of many, many more.
“We first met several years before we officially began working together. At that time I was part of a diplomatic group assigned to the Brelish army that was to be all but wiped out by the Mourning. Several of my fellows were there on diplomatic missions, or in various shades of mercenary capacities supporting the Brelish-Thranian push into Cyre.
Events started out predictably, with the usual confusion of advancing columns, enemy attacks, and allied counter-attacks. My group had been moved away from the combat zones to protect us, but came under attack never-the-less by a Cyran deep-strike patrol. They took our host and official protector, Bren Ir’Gaiden, hostage. For me it was a matter of honor to follow them and retrieve Major Bren since he had been wounded and captured in my defense. It was for this purpose that I rallied what would later become my adventuring companions to go and save our host.
After an hour or so of following the Cyrans, we came to a small round tower atop a grassy hill. It was obviously in need of repair, and the roof had fallen in some time ago. From the outside it looked abandoned, but always wary I had everyone advance silently up to it. There I climbed a wall to get a peek inside…
Well, [Gustavus laughs], it turns out that was just what our enemies were expecting. They had planted a parcal of Kruthik young in the main chamber of the tower, and as soon as I climbed the ruined wall they swarmed out to attack! Thankfully my companions were as doughty a group of fighters then as they are now and came to my rescue. Half the Kruthik were dead before their master’s arrived: vile Dolgrims emerged from the tower’s second chamber and began shooting at us with crossbows. Our fine swordmage made short work of one of them, while the rest of us focused on the remaining Kruthik and then the second Dolgrim."
I interrupt Gustavus’ story here, gentle readers, to remind you of just what a foul creature a dolgrim really is. In his seminal book, Critters That Go Bump In the Night – A layman’s guide to the exotic dangers of Eberron, Alin ir’Korran explains the dolgrim thusly:
Twisted and horrible, Dolgrims are just one of many of the terrible spawn created to plague us by the Powers Below. Functionally this cursed creature is an amalgamation of two kobolds fused together through nightmare magic. Because of this Dolgrims are much more dangerous than they appear, having two minds and four arms with which to work! Thankfully for civilization, two kobolds are often even dumber than one, and so while dangerous, Dolgrims do not present an overwhelming challenge.
Now back to our hero Gustavus,
“Our foes defeated, we found Bren and his aid, Ulrit Blackroot I think, tied up in the second room. Ulrit was chained just above some sort of Eldritch Rune that the Dolgrims had been using to torture him and had fallen unconscious from the pain. Bren was in better shape and gratefully retrieved his weapon from the corner and prepared to leave with us.
If only things were that easy! No sooner had we caught our breath then did I spot a troupe of vile Emerald Claw agents and zombies coming towards us. As every right-thinking Khorvarian knows, the Emerald Claw necromancers are out of control violent lunatics bent on sowing terror and discord. It seems they wanted our prisoners and were more than happy to carve through us to get them.
Unfortunately for these traitors our blood was already up from fighting the Dolgrims, and while I threw down a hail of sharp steel from the walls of the tower, my comrades-in-arms slew the zombie horde and made short work of their living minders. I am thankful that we were able to catch even their cowardly pet necromancer. Unlicensed necromancy is dangerous, and in the hands of the Emerald Claw a power too evil to allow.
The more notable aspect of the fight was this: we engaged the Emerald Claw agents at the exact moment the Mourning reached Southern Cyre! It was in the lambent light that preceded the Mourning Mists that we slew our unnatural opponents, and it was to an audience of the dead that we presented the corpse of the witch.
Here I parted ways with most of my comrades, believing that whatever this terrible event was, it was my duty as a trained Karrnathi Scout (for that was what I was before I was assigned to diplomatic duty) to investigate these ‘mists.’ My warforged companion chose to follow me into the mists but we became separated.
What happened to us in the Mournland is a story for another day, and it was four years before my companions and I were all re-united, which I suspect is also a story for another day."
[GM’s Note: The proper names are Bren ir’Gadden and Alric Blacktree.]