The party sieges the small keep atop the winding stairs that lead to the plains of Haemil. Within the keep they find several gnollslayers and a powerful gnollcommander wielding an ornate greataxe.
On the road to the Plains of Haemil
After gathering their gear and properly securing Tacal'spacks, the group begins to head out of the forest. After a couple of hours, the forest begins to thin and a rocky plain opens before the group. A well-trodden road winds through the plains and down into a wide valley. Many tracks of men and horse can be seen along the road. Clearly recent, Truk'toshand the others conclude that this area has seen an abundance of travel following the Shaping.
Keeping to the road, the group makes their way through the valley for two full days, seeing no other sign of living beast or man. On the third day, the ground begins to rise and Tacalbegins to work harder as he pulls the cart uphill. The ground is becoming rockier and the group's speed is slowed as they work to avoid any potential ambushes behind the large boulders that now dot the land. As the group begins to contemplate another rest stop, Gruskorbcalls out. Further up the road, he spots the half-eaten corpse of a gnoll. Nearby, he has also found the slain bodies of two zombies.
Searching the gnoll, the group finds a dull falchion with a severely chipped blade lying next to the gnolland a bone-handled dagger resting in the gnoll'sright hand. It's hardened leather sheath is strapped to the gnome's bandolier. The blade is well balanced and by the looks of it, not fashioned by a gnoll. With its weapons stripped, the only other things Garidanfinds useful is a small pouch of reddish grains that could act as a couple of days of rations in a pinch and a fifty foot length of silk rope with a particularly dusty odor.
Rope – Alchemy or Survival DC15: This is a contracting rope. It is treated with alchemical reagents that give it a distinctive dusty odor. When any part of the rope is touched to an open flame, it suddenly contracts to one-fifth its original length, pulling any creature or object attached to one side to within 10 feet of the other.if multiple creatures are moved into the same square, they fall prone in randomly determined adjacent squares. Because of the sudden jerk, a creature holding a contracting rope must succeed at a DC 10 Climb check to avoid dropping it as it contracts (unless it is knotted around the creature's waist or other wise firmly attached.).The rope cannot pull more than 1,000 horizontally or 250 lbs vertically. Once activated, the rope slowly unravels to its normal length over the course of 24 hours, during which time it can't be activated.
The bone dagger proves not to be magical but its markings and the bandolier upon which the sheath is attached are unmistakably that of Haemil. Malthazir believes that the knife would have belonged to an officer in Haemil's formidable calvary. Niyut examines the bone handle and determines that it came from a great cat, possibly a lion. While lions would be very rare in this part of the western plains of Haemil, the lowlands near the southern range of the Iron Mountains have been home to many prides of lions for many years.
At the base of the plateau
he period of rest goes quietly if not anxiously for the group. Anticipation for the ascent to the plateau weighs upon everyone. After a well-deserved break, the group manages to ingest some nutrients before gathering their gear and setting off to the south, following the base of the plateau. Within a few miles, Truk'tosh discovers a narrow path of stairs carved winding its way up the shear sides of the plateau. High above, the glowing light of fire can be seen. Certainly, someone or something awaits you at the top. After a long ascent bound together by the rope, you see the path slightly widen and the constructed walls of a small keep above the path's righth and side. Quietly Gruskorb and Niyuts neak a little further down the path only to see several gnolls stationed atop the parapets.__ Entry Courtyard As you approaches the main gate to the Keep, you see that the portcullis has been heavily damaged allowing access into the entry courtyard. As you step through the bent bars of the former gate, you see that dirt and other debris has been piled up along eastern wall of the courtyard to within ten feet of the battlements. With the first step, you feel the soft wet ground begin to give. A deep draw of breath reveals to you that the entire courtyard is now a marshy swamp of mud and feces.