Revisionist Defenders History?
WARNING: The following piece contains information about the enemies of the Defenders, and it should be noted that all assumptions of motivation and action not observed by the Defenders is my own flight of fancy. This story is highly conspiratorial.
September 30, 2185 in the Bards' Reckoning
Our safety is assured; the troublesome Restenford Defenders have broken up.
I saw the explosions and fanfare and know that it is true, and from my observations of them over the past 12 years, I can presume that the worst will not come to pass. Their talk of attacks on the Great Temple of our Lady, and all of their bravado has come to naught as simple old age has driven them apart. This is indeed good news, and now we can continue our plans unhampered by their presence in the Sea of Pastures.
It has been ages since my initial confrontation with them, and I feel safe in the assurance that they do not know of me directly. This is fortunate, since as you know our cell suffered terrible losses in the Lantern Temple disaster, and this has left us with a shortage of observers. This is problematic, as the group has now split into several sections, one to Shabrundian lands, another to Petethal, and a third to parts unknown.
I feel it necessary that I record this information I have compiled against our usual protocols because it would be a terrible tragedy to lose this advantage that I have dedicated my life to gathering. I can only hope that if I perish my manservant will activate the Bag of Sending, the one shaped like a wolverine cap, and thereby remove my notes from their hands unto the safest, darkest corner of the Great Temple.
The earliest days of the Defenders are sketchy, but information gained from Morty the fisherman before his untimely capture has allowed me to reconstruct quite a few of their earliest travels and adventures, not to mention original party composition.
Quentin Browne, a half-elf, hailed from Depwood, a former medic and healer reluctantly devoted to the druidic arts. He had already reached midlife upon assuming the mantle of adventurer. Two other Defenders hailed from that location: Drew, a human ranger who wielded the longbow, and a Morgan Cukathos, an elven fighter and disciple of the longsword. It appears that they were friends from earlier in life, though I cannot confirm this.
Late in the winter of 2171-2, Quentin and Drew set off from Depwood and journeyed to Teft, the traditional meeting place of the land adventurers, on March 15, 2172. Morgan, in typical elven fashion, missed the boat (so to speak-this is not meant in offense, merely candor, my Queen). In Teft, the two green adventurers drank at the bar and met several of the people who would briefly grace the party, though all of them would perish shortly. Among the people who joined them were Annwvyn, a crossbow wielding elven thief, Soldan, a human Silban cleric, Darellon, a formidable human woodsman, and Grison, a dwarven fighter with a typical fondness for gambling.
As I have stated above, none of these would survive the year, or even the season, and were never considered a threat-although my worries about Soldan's potential reestablishment of the dreadful Silban religion on Lendore Isle were justified, in hindsight.
The decision was quickly made to travel to Lendore, and their arrival in Barnacus was uneventful. It is clear that almost immediately this was a party of virtue and light (I say this with extreme mockery), as within a day of their arrival they had slain a group of bandits on the road.
The group traveled to Garroten, and after interviewing with the Lord Mayor (a ghastly ruler, but extremely serviceable as an informant), the group traveled to the Dead Wood to deal with the undead there. This nearly proved costly, and the group barely escaped an encounter with a giant spider.
The party traveled on to Restenford where they began their infamous association with Baron Grellus. Yes, the same Baron Grellus who still rules despite our Kordian associates attempts to finish him off in 2175. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Defenders moved into the wilderness to hunt bandits, where they promptly lost the foolish elven thief to a nest of fungus beetles. Terror stricken, the group jumped on the first group of bandits they saw following the incident and slew them, including a wereboar.
The Green Diamond was a local bandit group operating in the region at that time, and they turned their eyes on the upstarts. Meanwhile, the elf Morgan had finally reached Restenford and joined the party late, along with an ugly harpoon wielding woodsman named Ethan that he had picked up on the way. The party set out and was immediately ambushed by a group of bandits, who were slain in a brutal combat.
Following the trail of the bandits, the Defenders reached the Green Diamond's fortress hideout, which resulted in a pitched battle in which Soldan, Grison, and Ethan were slain, although the Green Diamond was broken and sent packing into the hills.
Stopping for a brief celebration, the Defenders marched back out with two new allies, Celeste, an enchanting half-elven priestess of Phaulkon (I had the opportunity to see her sister Sam slain mercilessly by bandits on Hafney Hill, also a beauty), and Felix, which is a name I suspect you recognize with fury. Yes, this is the same Felix who drove his thrice-damned adamantite sword into our Tribute Gatherer's underbelly… a half-orc fighter of substantial talent with the short sword.
The party was promptly attacked by ogres, and Darellon and Celeste were slain. It was then that my party happened upon the group, beaten and bleeding in the woods. As I pointed my crossbow at them, I watched my companion loot Felix of his magical sword and we back off, leaving them to their fate.
The number of times I wish we had finished them is very large.
The party survived and returned to Restenford, and was convinced to seek other avenues. They joined the Petethalian navy in an attack on the last refuge of the survivors of the pirate attack on Abbey Isle, a former stronghold of Hindus. This attack was led by someone in our great Navy of Faith, though it has never been my privilege to know who was responsible. Nevertheless it was a glorious venture.
At this time, I was with our friend Zoon Quog, who had needed a great deal of help to deal with the damnable ghost of Nbod in the inn in Benct. This proved to be a long venture, and we spent the next year searching for a metal detection rod so as to find the location of the map that would lead us on the other side of the portal in Coral Isle Atoll. Zoon had become obsessed with the matter, and an unpleasant companion to say the least, but I tolerated him for the following year, before the Defenders nearly ended my life.
The Defenders had traveled to Benct to bolster their numbers, and barely survived a final assassination attempt by the Green Diamond. When they reached Benct, they found two Northerners, a warrior named Gaston and a cleric named Tyveris. The two were cousins, and despicable Nevronian converts as well.
The party landed on the shores of Abbey Isle and were beaten back by the undead army raised by Ozymandius, a middling cleric of Hindus who had been promoted to leader by virtue of the death of all his superiors. The true force on the Isle, as it would turn out, was Bayleaf, an agent of some sort, and a gifted elven fighter and mage.
The party returned the following spring, in 2173, and this time was successful in landing. They were then promptly captured by the forces of Ozymandius, and escaped with the help of a moronic mage named Odeon who had been trapped on the island. Returning a third time with marine backup, and Bayleaf's cooperation, the party lured and defeated all nine remaining servants of Hindus and cleared the island for settlement by the Petethalian Navy.
Gaston had sustained massive damage in the battles with the undead, and retired to active duty under Baron Grellus. He was replaced initially by a short-lived magic-user/scout named Colin. The party set out to the former Green Diamond fortress once more and was nearly taken out by a will-o-the-wisp, leaving Colin wrecked for life.
Finally, a halfling thief from Koralgesh named Perry joined the party. They set their eyes upon Zoon and I, obviously hoping to solve the haunting of the inn. Zoon put on a good show and kept them confused and off guard for a month by playing Nbod's ghost with the use of the glowfungus and a few well-timed Command spells. I myself remained in the tavern underground.
Zoon revealed to me that he was in possession of the Leviathan Dagger, a great relic of an older time, and that it could be turned to the use of the Queen. His plan was simple, but it would not come to pass.
That fateful night came. The Defenders had obviously figured out what we were up to, but we were caught off-guard by their ferocity. The portal had opened as normal, and Zoon stepped into the room, but was captured by the Defenders. Fortunately he got off a final cry, and warned me off from the room, and I returned to the tavern and the portal shut. I never saw Zoon again, but I believe that he was turned over the Navy. A shameful loss, I admit.
The Defenders, of course, cleared Coral Isle Atoll of treasure, managing to be slain almost to a man in the process. Their connections to the once-Nevronian artifact carried by Zoon, the Leviathan Dagger, allowed them to be Raised by the Nevronians. Ironically, the Nevronian cleric Tyveris failed to survive, but the others returned to life.
The party picked up two new members to compensate-another half-elven Phaulkonian cleric named Cassian, and a Northerner hammer wielding fighter named Balinor Buckannah.
I remained in hiding during this period, I am ashamed to admit. Still, their adventures were reconstructed with help from Morty and the halflings.
In 2174, the Defenders returned to Abbey Isle and cleared out the maze of trapped passages below the main complex, or what remained of it. They returned to the mainland and defeat a number of burrow worms in service of the local druid, Almax.
Next they set their eyes on Hafney Hill and our informants. For this task the Defenders appeared to pick up the remnants of some former adventuring party known as the Seapoint Lightning, including a druid named Kerr, a thief named Hecht, and a cleric kickboxer named Auburn. In addition, a new magic-user named Donald Collins joined the party. His gawky, deaf figure seemed to be a minor threat, but little did we know what he would become. The hill was taken, and the halflings were reduced to half their number, but they escaped and took a personal interest in the Defenders thereafter, one which I was able to use to my advantage. I am told that the Defenders did not wander past the massive guardian in the temple beneath the fortress.
Next, our friend Tellish's plan for Lendore began to unfold, with the help of the corrupted Phaulkonian priest Qualton. In early 2175, Tellish murdered Baron Grellus and escaped nearly scot free. It was at this point that our information network was disrupted-the Defender's thief Perry spotted Morty and exposed him as a Benct informer, which of course he was (on the side). Next, the party trekked to Garroten and through some unknown magic identified the location of the Baron's body as being inside the Lord Mayor's castle, and somehow discovered the identities of all the assassins in the guild, eliminating our agents from the area, except for Lothar, of course. He remains somewhere to this day, and has on occasion continued to provide me with valuable information. If I am slain you should seek him out, though he is strangely reluctant to take direct action.
Of course, this is where the Defenders' notoriety had risen to the point where we felt it necessary to keep an eye on them. It took a while to establish new contacts, until I heard from a petty merchant's son named Traywick. He related a story to me, detailing how the Defenders had swarmed into Sark, taken out his mercenaries almost to a man, and slain his retinue, and then stolen the dwarven treasure for themselves. They had also changed their party composition considerably, as Drew and Perry had left, while four new people appeared: Kodo Buckannah, a woodsman and brother to Balinor, Narahn, a halfling bow specialist, Alduin, an elven thief, and Lynore, a half-elven thief. Lynore was slain in the attack, but the others survived.
Traywick thirsted for vengeance, but my caution held him back, although little did I know he had a much more elaborate plan in store for them, particularly for Morgan, who had stolen his weapon, Thunderstruck….
The party apparently reappeared on Lendore in early 2176 with a new thief named Haladir, and marched into the swamps near the Trenhurst and defeated something undead, as they came out with treasure from the Khargish ruins. Though this second thief was also slain, I was no longer surprised that the swamp creatures had been unable to defeat them-this party simply had a knack of finding its way out of a disaster situation. I knew then that a direct confrontation would require a tremendous amount of planning and effort, and though my anger simmered, I remained patient that they would one day fall to our forces.
Our sources among the sahaugin reported that a ship of humans had destroyed a goblin outpost in late 2176, and this was reportedly the Defenders accompanying the Petethalian Navy. They also acquired a new Silban cleric for the mission, Phoenix, though he was badly wounded and left them soon after. However, it didn't take long for another cleric to appear, Kain, a half-elven Silban cleric like his predecessor. He had been recruited to replace Cassian, who had taken a hiatus to work elsewhere, though it would prove not to be a permanent one.
After engaging some creatures in the wilderness of Petethal (including, I'm told, a shambling mound), the party set their sights upon Teknaas' regime on the island of the Kara-Kara orcs. Teknaas, who called himself Kaal Na Ka to the orcs, had run from a nasty Cromwellian wizard named Skylltor Rhune, and taken refuge on this island using a group of wind creatures to assert that he was in fact, the second coming of the Pig God. As laughable as this may be to us, it actually fooled the orcs, and the resultant chaos was so pleasing we could hardly object.
The Defenders landed on the island at some point in mid 2177, and invaded Teknaas' little fortress set up in the ruins on the island. What happened exactly is unclear, but the Defenders came out bearing a great deal of loot, so this is little chance that things went well. Teknaas has not been heard from, but there are signs that he may not be dead, and still thirsting for vengeance… simply things to keep in mind. In addition, I note that the Defenders came off the island with an orcish native in tow, who has apparently become their loyal follower since. How unfortunate.
The Defenders promptly disappeared, apparently doing a series of missions against ogres and a faun creature in Dunador. I am not aware of their motivations for doing so, but they were gone for a full year.
In 2179, the Defenders reappeared on the island, and the following I have surmised from Traywick's final report. The impulsive young man had destroyed the Defenders' house in the town of Restenford and lured them into his wilderness fortress, wherein he had set an elaborate trap that was somehow foiled by the Defenders, despite the death of Felix in the event. Traywick has not been seen since.
Next, Cassian reappeared with the party, and they ended up invading a flying crystal castle (this did not take much from the informants) belonging to a Realmish archmage, defeating guardians that had held him captive. While I presume this tale is somewhat exaggerated, it did not reinforce my confidence. It appears that the Defenders had gained sufficient favor to allow the construction of a hideous law-enforcing sword, known as Peacemaker. Worse still, this sword is quite intelligent and thus very dangerous to steal by any member of our clergy. Despite this, these events were dwarfed by the one that followed, however.
The Defenders and Flaming Fist conspired, intentionally or not, to bring down the Lantern Temple where I stayed. In early 2180, we had stolen a boat with the infamous cloaking technology of the Far World Empire, and stored it in our underground bays (or grottoes, praise the Queen). It was guarded by a Tribute Bearer, which we felt was quite sufficient at the time.
Stopping to pick up a human illusionist named Chiaro-scuro, the Defenders set off once again in the employ of their patron, the Petethalian Navy. Monstrously, they invaded the island of Lantern and marched in a back entrance, following closely after a remarkably similar party, the Flaming Fist. We had mistaken one for the other and assumed the party defeated, but we had in fact captured the Fist. Thus we were unprepared when the Defenders stormed in and slew our high priestess and Tribute Bearer, despite the deaths of Kodo and Felix. Truly it seemed our enemies were powerful at that moment.
The Temple was destroyed and I barely escaped with my life out a back entrance during the main combat. I retreated and took refuge in the town nearby, and eventually escaped the destruction.
By the time I had put myself back together, the Defenders had stormed a goblin fortress, aiding a task force under the command of none other than Dunstill and Illic, eliminating with one blow all but the top admiral in the goblin navy.
This could not stand. This wanton destruction was unacceptable, and my feelings got he better of me, I admit. I hired the sahaugin to punish the town of Restenford for sheltering these adventurers. That winter, the sahaugin invaded the homes of Almax and the Phaulkonian Church, but to no avail. They were repulsed and destroyed. There were stirrings among the fishmen of signs of a great coming, but this would not trigger the event in any case-though I admit freely that I sense this ominous and great moment approaching as well. I have remained disappointed to this date, however. But this is a matter for greater minds-- such as your Lordship.
It seems that during the winter the Defenders were able to clear out a certain haven of undead under the Church, that we were unfortunately unaware of at the time. It appears also, that an agent of an unknown force questioned several members of the Defenders in Teft, though apparently his efforts were unsuccessful, whatever they might be. This would be our mysterious "wolverine" agent who I have tracked on and off through the years.
In June 2181, the Defenders made a second run to Hafney Hill, though what they intended to find, I cannot say. What they did find was reportedly an ogre mage, who was eliminated quite thoroughly in the combat. Following this they appeared at Bone Hill and disrupted a highly touted meeting between the Blue and the Gray and local gnoll population. In the event one of the Blue and the Gray mercenaries defected to the side of the Defenders, mainly because he was an imbecile, some sort of fighter-type named Bogomel.
Following this, Quentin, Kodo, and Alduin departed from the party for unknown reasons to myself, though they appeared to be on good enough terms at the time. Kodo became a tracker for Baron Grellus-the other two would return to devastate us once again.
Joining them was a new Nevronian monk named Albee, an aggressive but overly dull man-- but apparently experienced enough to be accepted into their ranks, such as they stood.
Continuing their obscene attempts to root out evil on Lendore, the Defenders wiped out an entire demon-worshipping cult in Trun, which I must admit I was not sorry to see go. In the event they angered some sort of demon, which opens up several possibilities for the future, I might add.
Next the Defenders set their eyes on the Burrower's servants, who weren't helping matters. In early 2182, they cleared and passed some sort of test at the Sentry, incredibly. Then they took out the psionic dwarves by tricking them into appearing at the School of Wizardry, though it appears that through the bungling incompetence of the Dunadorians, several of the dwarves still escaped. In a bizarre twist, during this period Felix was the named the dwarves' king, a source of great consternation to them, which reveals a further lack of foresight among the followers of that moronic religion.
Following this the Defenders were recruited once again by Dunstill and Illic to raid an island. This time the destruction was considerably more widespread as a large number of orcs perished due to the destruction of the island's water reserves and much of their food reserves.
In addition, I was able to discover that the ruins on that island are related to the ruins on the other orcish isle, though I admit I do not understand their nature-though perhaps the Defenders could enlighten us.
Next comes yet another personal failing of mine: our attempt on the Defenders had finally come to fruition. But we needed to wait for the setting to become right…
The Defenders defeated the local gnolls near Restenford for good, wiping them out completely save a straggler or two. In addition, a will-o-the-wisp that had haunted the site of the Green Diamond's old fortress was destroyed, as well as a strange wandering undead monster known as a revenant.
But the Defenders could be manipulated, and this we did. We spread rumors of a bandit group in the area, sure to draw them out of hiding. We were invisible and waiting for them when they stumbled upon our paid decoys, who were smoothly eliminated in the initial blast. Although we dominated Felix and killed their wizard Donald, they saw through our invisibility and obliterated our forces, though I escaped in the retreat.
Having dismissed me as a non-threat, the Defenders licked their wounds, and returned to the Khargish swamp. This time they were gone for several weeks, and the results were surprising, as the ghosts that had dominated the ruins vanished, apparently due to their efforts.
In 2184, the Defenders made a trip into the mountains of Cromwell, reportedly to deal with the Horn of Iguilve. I can only say this secondhand, as my recovery from the failed mission was slow and painful. However, I do know that they came out a great deal richer than they entered. They were gone almost for an entire year, and they returned to Lendore Isle in mid-June 2185, though Felix and his blue-skinned companion had already departed. I have noted above how the group broke up following this final trip.
It is my duty to face these men, yet after this recording of their movements over the past decade, I find myself more reluctant than ever to face them. Still, I remain certain that our Queen will gain her vengeance on this group.
And I advise you to look forward to the future, and trust in the Sahaugin-they will succeed in their mission on Race Rock. And we will see Their return once again.
Ever Your Loyal Servant, Quester Koren