Chapter 1: The Exodus
At the town hall meeting, Lord Basil informs the town that the knights will not fight to retain control of Lakewood from Baron Rotli’s forces. Forty knights cannot hold the city from an army, and Lakewood is likely to be destroyed in the process. Lakewood will surrender to buy time for reinforcements from Tyn City and elsewhere.
After the meeting, Basil requests that the elven diplomats recruit a team of volunteers to assist with a scouting mission to the west. He hands the details of the planning off to Sargent Goodwin, captain of the city guard.
A group of outsiders of various background are organized around Radcliffe, the elven attache to the diplomat from the village of Brenniven. This team of volunteers is made privy to the plans of Lord Basil and given a special mission. Basil will leave the city with the knights of lakewood, most of the city guard, and all able bodied fighters and equipment that they can take. Goodwin tells the party they are to proceed west to an old abandoned fortress, Ket Keep. In the area, they are to look for Borden, an old ranger that once served with Basil. Borden knows these forests and has experience in hiding armies in it from the previous war. It was Borden’s forces that helped turn the tide and force Baron Rotli to the negotiation table 25 years ago.
Goodwin gives the party a steel scrollcase sealed with the Basil’s personal seal. He claims the scrollcase has a powerful enchancement that will cause it to teleport back to Basil if it is opened by anyone but Borden. If this happens, they will know the party failed in their mission. Basil’s group will be larger and slower and will follow behind, meeting them at the Glaradrin bridge two days after they arrive.
The party proceeds westward, stopping at an outpost after two days to check in as planned. They find the outpost abandoned, but in the process of being sacked by a small team of kobolds. The two groups fight after being surprised, and the kobolds are defeated.
The next day the party proceeds as planned and takes the path across the river at Rock Fords, into the wild forests. The party makes camp in this dangerous land, and is in fact ambushed by bandits who have apparently detected that Radcliffe is carrying powerful magic. The bandits claim to just want the parties treasure and, with the help of a strange sorcerer, much of the party is incapacitated when Porkins takes the scrollcase and heads into the forest.
Once in the forest, the rogue leader of the bandits finds porkins and takes the scrollcase, knocking him out. The wounded rogue heads deeper into the forest, stopping only to see what powerful magic was worth the trouble. Opening the scrollcase, no scroll is present, just a small stone that then grows into a giant 10′ long scorpion.
A new battle ensues with the bandits trying to defeat the scorpion. Clinton uses his druid abilities to entangle the remaining archers while Radcliffe recovers the scrollcase and confirms that not only did it not teleport as Goodwin claimed, but that it didn’t contain a scroll. The party gathers their items and flees the scene.
As the sun rises, the party breaks at a clearing. A figure in the distance makes himself known and approaches the party. It is Borden, an aging ranger who has suffered grievous wounds recently, missing an eye and an arm. Borden has been watching the party and witnessed the bandit assault. Borden at first assumed the party is assassins but recognizes the team looks unsuited for this role, and recognizes the capes bearing lord basil’s crest.
As the group discusses recent events, it is clear that the scrollcase was meant to assassinate Borden, and probably the party as well. The question is why, and who knows about it. Goodwin provided the story, but was he acting on Basil’s request, against his orders, or were they both unwitting parties? Borden believes he knows the motive. He has the knowledge to hide an army in these woods and lead a successful insurgent campaign. In fact, Borden has recorded his knowledge on maps left at Ket Keep. Unfortunately, he has had to abandon the keep to a group of goblins, being in no shape to take them on himself.
Borden takes the party to a cave where they can recover from their wounds for two days while a storm passes. On the morning that the party is to set out for Ket Keep to recover Borden’s maps from the Keep’s old library, it is found that Finneran has disappeared. Whether he decided to strike out to the woods alone or some foul play is afoot is unknown. The remainder of the party continues to the Keep. In the early morning hours, a goblin scout, mounted on a foul-mouthed worg, surprises the party from behind them. The scout manages to deal some damage to the party but is routed by the party’s numbers. The scout is killed while trying to flee in the direction of the keep.
Borden’s weak performance with the cout leads him to believe that he will be a liability in the seige of the keep. Once arriving, Borden takes shelter under an ancient dolmen within site of the keep while the party proceeds. The party attempts a ruse to gain access to the keep but is trapped in a small courtyard by the old portcullis. The party is pelted by goblins until they are able to break in the old main doors and get access. The party searches the keep and finds the library after encountering some token goblin resistance, but the maps are gone. Searching the first floor of the keep, the party enters the main hall where they encounter more goblins, including a shaman and a captain mounted on a rust monster. After a heated battle all of the goblins are routed and the rust monster flees, towing the shaman behind him. Outside the keep, Borden cuts the shaman free from the rust monster and finds that the shaman carries his maps, perhaps mistaking them for magical scrolls?