After the disastrous fight at Merikus‘s store in the settlement of Morgil’s Hold, the surviving party members fled separate directions, with Lyris forced to flee in one direction, and Alena struggling to carry the unconscious Marcus in another. Each managed to escape to a safe hiding spot outside of the small town. Alena had the presence of mind to launch a lightning burst into the air, as a signal to any surviving party members. The sight of a familiar energy bolt streaking through the air gave hope to Lyris, though she dared not respond with a similar sign, for fear of revealing her position. After resting a moment and gathering her wits about her, the half-elf mage crept back into the town, determined to reunite with what remained of her companions.
Almost immediately, Lyris was found by one of Merikus’s henchmen. He was a greasy, sneering rogue who brandished a sword and dagger upon seeing the half-elf. He gave chase after Lyris, who launched spells trying to slow her assailant. The rogue was too nimble and dodged many of her attacks, all while menacing her with his blade. Luckily, Alena soon happened upon them, and with her help, they were able to run fast enough to escape their pursuer.
Alena informed her companion that Marcus was hiding nearby, awake but still badly wounded. The eladrin had witnessed a fire consume what remained of Merikus‘s shop, presumably an effort to destroy any remnant of evidence. Lyris grimly confirmed that their missing party members had been ruthlessly executed by the tiefling assassin Merikus. The half-elf declared that she would present herself and her case to the captain of the town guard and reveal the truth of the deceitful tiefling. The Witch of the Wilds would get Marcus and join Lyris at the magistrate’s office.
Avoiding any further unwanted attention, Lyris made her way to the keep and announced herself to the guard. Putting her under protective custody, they would ensure her safety as an investigation was brought up to verify her charges of Merikus aiding in the enslavement of the village of Bahirin, as well as profiting from the forced labor of the dragonborn. Soon after, her companions joined her in protective custody, to await the findings of the guard.
Late the following day, Moritus, the dragonborn captain of the guard came to their room. He informed them that a traveler from Bahirin had arrived, verifying their story and vouching for their honor. It seemed that Merikus was using his store as a front for moving ill-gotten goods in and out of the town, as well as using dragonborn as servants against their will. The tiefling had fooled many, but thanks to the determined efforts of the heroes, he was forced to flee into hiding. The companions were free to go.
The captain of the guard then introduced them to Dysmas, a dragonborn warrior from Bahirin. Restless and nomadic at heart, Dysmas was luckily away from the village at the time of the demon’s arrival. Upon his return, he could see many of the villagers acting uncharacteristically, even witnessing dragonborn murdering their own kin. Recognizing something was amiss, Dysmas avoided entering the village. He observed his fellow dragonborn from a distance, unable to get too close in fear of succumbing to whatever evil force possessed them. Instead he followed the movements of those taken by the demon, in hopes that uncovering the demon’s motives might give him some means to defeat it and free his people. It was by following one such group that he was able to see the demon make contact with Merikus, with the tiefling urging the demon to return to Bahirin and continue its subjugation of the inhabitants.
When Dysmas discovered that the adventurers had defeated the demon and freed his village, he immediately wanted to travel to Morgil’s Hold. The dragonborn wanted to alert the authorities, as well as bring the news to any dragonborn who might still be forced into servitude to Merikus. Dysmas also had a deep hatred for the tiefling and wished to bring justice upon the corrupt merchant.
The adventurers offered to let Dysmas join them, for his goals were well in line with their own. When they mentioned that they also searched for the dragonborn Rhogar, Dysmas gave a cry of recognition. It seemed that he knew Rhogar as well, having served in the same military company for several years. Together they would search for both Rhogar and Merikus, so after a night’s rest and replenishing their supplies, they set out into the wilderness.
Dysmas was a canny woodsman and had followed Merikus’s travels many times previous. It seemed most likely that the tiefling would either join his gnoll allies or perhaps to a certain secluded cave located deep within the Cairn Hills. The party followed tracks to the area where the gnolls frequented, but found no trace of the tiefling. Rather than waste time stalking the area, they decided instead to turn south immediately, hoping the tiefling would eventually flee to the cave in any case.
As the party navigated the rocky terrain of the Cairn Hills, they found a lone figure in their path. Revealing himself to be Rhogar, the dragonborn warned the party to turn back, lest he resort to violent measures to do so. The sound of movement around the party alerted them to the presence of other attackers laying in ambush. The party approached as closely as they dared, and Dysmas did his best to covertly inform Rhogar that the village and his family had been freed from demonic oppression as well as tossing Rhogar’s family signet ring at him.
Rhogar caught the ring and stared at it a long while. Then the dragonborn brandished his spear, with a new purpose in his stance, and fire and fury in his eyes. “Your bribes are useless! You will pay for what you’ve dared to do!” Grinning in his battle-lust, the dragonborn charged forward, spear-point glittering in the sunlight ….