This report is compiled from letters received and filed by Otiian, the scribe of Stoatra, as he is nowhere to be found (for reasons explained below).
The heroes move on to the next locale following the map and the clue:
“Climb ye the jungle wall and atop yer’ll see Emperors Vantage. Scale it but don’t dare step within and look to the north West. There you’ll see what ye hope to find.”
So, after Edwin provided more information on the Church of Light to Markahn (the inkeeper at the Wandering Quail) the group left Corville and headed South along the Coast Road.
The heroes determined their best course of action was to travel to the town of Oceandell along the Coast Road, then head west, inland to the village of Vantage Keep. From there its a short trip through the farms and up the caldera wall to Emperors Vantage.
As they travelled along the Coast Road, they saw strange markings in the sand leading from the sea, inland across the road and onto the slopes of the caldera wall. They determined these to be the tracks of Giant Crabs, who regularly go inland for some unknown purpose. This led to rumbling stomachs as they thought of the lovely taste of crab meat and discussed the best way to cook them.
Over the next rise they saw a half dozen of the very same creatures making their way across the road. Their shells were over 6 feet across and they stood nearly 4 1/2 feet high. Four of them looked in the heroes direction and broke off from the rest in search (we assume) of further food to fuel their journey.
After Edwins unsuccessful attempt to bring the word of Archanon to the Crabs a short fight ensued with Caelor taking two out with magic and Zanros finishing the other two. The decision was made to stay the night so as to clean the shells of the crabs for sale and to cook the choicest meat for themselves. The rest was left for other crabs and the seabirds.
They reached Oceandell by the next lunchtime and went their seperate ways within the town; Edwin to the Church of Light, Ivan to the Armory, Caelor & Zanros went searching for more rope. Ivan traded the crab shells for a full suit of chain, which the armorer said would be ready in two days.
When the heroes met up again outside The Yellow Cask a messenger ran up to them bearing grave news; Trak, the Ogre they befriended after they first met Traaver (who had previously been his slave) had gone beserk at Lookout Point – smashed up all the work he had done for Caelor and attacked Stoatra, gravely injuring him. Trak fled for the Childer Hills and Stoatra left Lookout Point for locations unknown.
As the heroes reacted to this news and before the messenger could speak again, he fell stone dead with an arrow through his eye. Looking for the assassin, the heroes see a man with a bow galloping away along the road out of town towards Vantage Keep. As the rest give chase, Edwin readies his crossbow and fells the villain with a single shot, through the back of his head and out of his eye. Searching the body finds a note from Traaver, telling him to “Strike when the time is right, as we agreed and you will be paid handsomely”, that reward will go unclaimed for this assassin. The heroes arrange burial for the messenger using the coin they found on his killer, and leave town with their newly acquired horse, heading to Vantage Keep.
As dusk fell they reached the village, only to find what seemed like half of its inhabitants blocking the path and telling the heroes to turn back as they were not welcome. Despite attempts at diplomacy, and some outright pleading by Nava the heroes retreated a quarter mile and made camp beside the road to Oceandell. During negotiations, Ivan had turned off his lighthouse and as he faded into darkness he quietly sidestepped off the road.
As the others made camp and the villagers returned to their homes, Ivan began sneaking around the village. It all seemed normal in the beginning until he came to a large hut from which he could hear chanting. Crouching down to see through the window he saw a handful of villagers led by a man in a robe were grouped around a standing corpse amid arcane symbols drawn on the floor. As he watched the corpse moved and looked at him! It lunged toward the window, mouth opening impossibly wide baring long needle-like teeth …
The heroes at camp were disturbed by the sound of Ivan thundering down the road, head lamp lit and bouncing furiously as he ran full pelt towards them, screaming like a woman. He stopped when he reached the safety of the firelight and the horrible thing that followed him screeched to a halt in front of them. Staring at them it hissed, opening its mouth so wide you could have fitted Edwins head within it; it looked truly dead, its cadaverous body blistered and burnt. Fearful of it, the heroes stood scared, until Zanros lunged forward with the pamphlet from the Church of Light which he had been reading and rammed the folded paper through the eye of the monster shouting “Have you heard the word of Archanon?” whether through the holy content of the paper or the Brinchies strength (or both), the creature died, clutching at its eye as it fell to the ground.
Taking no chances, Ivan kicked the monster into the fire, where it burned well.
That evening, Caelor and Nava went back to Oceandell to inform them of the actions of the villagers, and to bring the militia to deal with them. He said he would catch up with the other heroes in the morning.
As morning broke the heroes left for Emperors Vantage. After a short climb they reached the small plateau upon which it stands. Towering above them at 250 feet in height is the impressive tower. Zanros elects to climb the tower and use a rope to pull the others up. All went well for the climb until the last fifty feet, where he slipped and only his claws saved him from a fatal fall. As Zanros reached the top of the tower Caelor rejoined the group having left the militia to deal with the folk of Vantage Keep.
Once Caelor and Edwin were atop the tower they looked north west as the clue dictated. Sure enough the third symbol was formed out of pathways or gaps in the trees so far below in the jungle. As they marked it upon the map the gaps began to widen and change and they heard the sounds of axes and guttural voices which implied Childer activity.