Having reclaimed Kel’s Rise from the clutches of a sorcerous Lich and his horde of minions, the Champions of the Oak – including new additions Skybound Azrael, John Rossi and Icabod – returned to town where they temporarily went about their separate ways. For the next month the heroes tended to their personal and professional lives, all the while mindful of the Hobgoblin Nahmbrak and his machinations.
At last the party regrouped in Freeport, where they plotted their next move. They uncovered rumors that the Hobgoblin relocated from his keep in the south to one far in the North, in the land of the Frost Giants. With the aid of psionic scrying from Lily Leoven they were able to confirm these rumors. The southern keep lay protected by two of the Nahmbrak’s generals, the Lich and an unknown Vampire. Lily observed as the generals sent four advanced ghouls toward Freeport in order to test the defenses of its Magistrate – Myra Silverleaf.
Preparing to defend the city, the Champions of the Oak summoned Silverleaf to the Temple of Umothemean in the center of town. At some point while they waited, John Rossi wandered off to tend to his own covert business. During his dealings, for reasons and means unknown to the others, he had entered into a deadly blood contract. This contract forbade him from speaking of its details or origin, leaving him internally wounded and virtually enslaved to an anonymous foe.
Eventually Myra Silverleaf arrived, flanked by several wizard cohorts. The Champions confided in her the plans of the enemy, though she showed little concern and even less patience to hear more. When the cleric Azrael boldly spoke of the importance of cooperation, however, she finally conceded to assist them with protection and information. She once more confirmed the vacancy of the South Keep, and mentioned the growing conflict between the Surrinak and Castellan human noble houses. She excused herself, leaving the group to decide their next move.
Once more Lily scried the lands, this time coming across Kamel Surrinak upon his self-imposed exile. As she conversed with him on their current plight, she absently said aloud the name of Umothemean – an act which has recently had random and potentially deadly consequences. At once her mind with immediately exchanged with Kamel’s, as well as body. He awoke where Lily had sat, drawing weapons on the strangers surrounding him. The group did their best to explain the situation, impossible and bizarre as it was. Kamel cautiously referred to himself by the assumed named of “Robert” thereafter.
While the others debriefed Robert, Zhu spoke with Azrael. As Lily had done mere moments prior, Zhu said the name of Umothomean aloud. In a flash she too had exchanged mind and soul with another – a fabled barbarian hero named Lelandra who had perished in battle centuries ago. Zhu, thence referring to herself was Lelandra, was then also debriefed on the situation. No sooner had they all become reacquainted when a commotion drew their attention outside. They discovered it was Myra Silverleaf, who had apparently slain the ghoul attackers sent against her. The scene was immediately closed off and guarded by local militia. Petros questioned the guards on what had happened, while Azrael questioned Silverleaf on the ghouls and state of the sewers. Silverleaf offered to lead Azrael, Lelandra and Icabod alone into the bowels of the city – the outnumbered and underpowered party wisely declined.
At last the group prepared for departure and battle. They teleported to the South Keep, where they fought an intense battle against a horde of ogres and shadow mastiffs, supported by hobgoblins riding large flying insects. The Champions eventually triumphed, moving on to the keep itself. Icabod opened the massive iron doors, only to be met by a massive iron fist. Two iron golems emerged and pummeled the fighter, along with Lelandra – who valiantly charged into the fray. With much effort from the entire group – especially devastating blasts of psionic crystals from Robert, the golems were at last destroyed.
Enterting into the enormous entry hall for the stone keep, it wasn’t long before the party came under attack once again. Seven bone-drinking undead monstrosities burst from a doorway, causing yet another vicious battle. Petros waded fearlessly into battle, flanked by the formidable Icabod and shape-shifting Lelandra – who assumed the form of a powerful bear. Soon yet another battle was won, leaving the Champions of the Oak to rest and prepare for their next encounter.