The party rests up in the town of Ismar, meeting up with Bolt in the process. During their trip to the Dwarven Undercity of Stoneheim, the party camps amoung the ruins of an old keep where Elaroth is taken by a ring he has found. The ring contains the soul of a deceased Deathwatch Soldier. The soul of Duran Copperhead temporarily takes over the body of the elven warrior and immediately becomes obsessed with getting his own body back. Although irritated, the party has no choice but to follow Duran's instructions as they make their way towards the great Dwarven capital city of Stoneheim. Once their, Duran blackmails the party into doing what he wants as he is the only one with the knowledge of where the Order Keep is within the city, and the xenophobic dwarves unlikely to talk to the strangers. After finding the Copperhead Clan, recently ousted from their own Borough by the Orc horde, Duran transfers the ring, and his consciousness, to one of the elders of the clan, Gurnei. Having achieved a measure of success, the party then proceeds to the Order Keep in the rich quarter of the city and begins to clean house. Paying for repairs and then gettin the word out that the Order has returned. The Keeper heads to the palace to inform the rulers that the Watchers have returned. With the Elder Thane assassinated, leadership of the dwarves has fallen to the Hammerhand Clan; in particular the Hammerhand Thane, Korvus and his brother Haknar, who is the commander of the Deathwatch. Korvus receives the news well, viewing the decline of the dwarven Boroughs to be a result of ejecting the Order nearly two centuries ago. The party receives word that the Elder Thane had two sons. One of which was killed 3 years ago in a civil disturbance and the other being blamed for it. The surviving brother was given over to the Deathwatch and sent into the Underdark. The party heads to SteelBorough looking for the new Elder Thane. They find the Deathwatch front line, where the bulk of the Deathwatch is deployed to combat the Orc horde. Discovering that Khazagar, the Elder Thane, is reluctant to return to his people, the Keeper appeals to his sense of duty and honour and Khazagar soon folds. The new Elder Thane returns to Stoneheim, but not before he charges the Watchers with slaying a PyroHydra that has been plaguing the Dwarves. After a brutal fight, in which Elaroth gets hammered into unconsciousness twice, the party comes out on top and retreats before the advancing Orc army.
Hunkering down after their meeting with the Keeper, the group realises that they are the last real hope to save the Order from sacrificing itself for no good reason. However noble, Tazmikella seems hellbent on meeting this invading army head on and no amount of persuasion will make him see the truth. After quickly raiding some supplies, the party heads out and up the bluffs where they construct 3 large ballistae in the hope that the anchors that have placed on the tip of the bolt will be sufficient to start an avalanche and thus save the citadel. Midway through this process, Sir Tazmikella arrives on the scene with a group of his associates and questions the motives of the party, even going so far as to accuse them of being glory hogs. Eraloth's mouth lands him in trouble when he disrespects the great knight and is clubbed to silence. After deciding that one can never be too careful, Sir Taz leaves the area but not before surreptitiously dropping a Templar token. The party could not figure out whether it is for good or evil as the twin aura's of the pendant are beyond Akkarin's ability to detect.
That night, under cover of darkness, the group is ambushed by a party of Orcs led by a Changeling Templar. The fight is brutal but the Orcs accomplish their mission: the destruction of the ballistae. The Orcs are butchered and the Templar is taken captive. With the proof they so desperately need now in their possession, the party heads down the mountain side to show up the Tamplars, only to run into the rearguard of the advancing army. Taking cover, the group realises that they cannot get back to the keep and must instead rely on another means of communication. Hauling their prize back to the top of the cliff, they uncover the last ballista; which was kept hidden and therefore unavailable for sabotage. Impaling the Changeling on the bolt, the shot the payload into the Keep from across the chasm, leaving on it the Templar pendant and a short note explaining the situation. In short, the Emperor's Champion realises that the keep is not going to last and sends the bulk of the Templars out escape tunnels. Ignatious Rex then leads a sally from the keep to buy as much time as possible for the bulk of the army to escape. Unfortunately, the Order follows the Emperor's Champion to a man and is all but obliterated on the field of battle. Rex himself is felled after many hours at the hands of a Wyvern riding Changeling.
After a few days of pillaging the keep, the horde moves on and the party descends into the valley to assess the damage. To their surprise, the Emperor's Champion has survived albeit in a coma and with his body stripped of his possessions. They drag him into the keep where they tend to his wounds and try and salvage as much as possible from the keeps armory. During this time, the Keeper of the Order returns! But in a far more sinister form: he has been Changed! Chanting the oath of the Order, the party tries to turn the Keeper from his grim purpose. In a tough battle, the Keeper is vanquished and his soul is laid to rest. Realising that all that remains of the order are those still standing in Caleston Keep, the party decides the Akkarin will be the new Keeper. Now there is an even thinner barrier standing between the nations of Althea and the Changeling horde!
Having busted the slavers ring, the party awaits further instruction from the Keeper at the Whistling Pig. They receive instruction in the form of another initiate arriving to enlist their assistance. The message is simple "There is a gathering army in the north at the Caleston Rift. The Emperor has sent his Templars led by the Emperor's Champion to face down this newest invasion. The Order will stand alongside the Templars and wipe this evil from the face of this land. Make haste to Caleston Keep, prepare for your greatest challenge yet!"
Deciding that Bolt would go north with the 100 former slaves, the remainder of the party heads to Caleston Keep. Travelling north was Akkarin, Elaroth, Gruffnut and the recent recruit: Aelthane, a half elven ranger who bore the message from the Keeper.
Arriving at the Keep, the party finds that they have been assigned to scouting duty. Heading over the mountains in the freezing cold. Aelthane catches the flu, and has serious problems while Akkarin picks up a mild cold and suffers only a little.
Stashing their mounts in a clerverly concealed smuggling den in the side of a mountain, the party advances on foot to monitor the progress of the invading army. Leaving the clanking dwarf behind, the other three watch the patrols of the enemy and slip between the scouting loop. They discover that the gathered army is 10000 Changelings.
Heading back, they stumble through the patrols and are forced to fight 4 mounted Changelings. For the third week running, Akkarin holds the entire party together, cranking out large amounts of damage and reliably plugging away with his crossbow once his spells ran out. Aelthane took a while to get into the swing of things, but finally managed some consistancy. Gruffnut proved his dwarvish toughness by standing firm and taking the heat from numerous enemies, but wasn't super effective in combat. Finally, Elaroth's confidence hit new lows with his inability to hit anything other than thin air; and ended up getting hammered badly at the hands of a single Changeling.
The party ended up putting the scouts down and hustled back to the base of the mountains. However, the dwarf failed to conceal himself properly and another squad of scouts came pounding up the trail! Taking position amoung the boulders, the party attempted to roll them down ontop of the advancing enemy with Elaroth picking the wrong boulder and skinning his knuckles. Gruffnut managed to roll a sufficiently large boulder down the trail, damaging three of the four pursuers. Combat was shorter, with Aelthane finally landing some telling blows, getting two criticals and downing two of the Changeling. However, Elaroth continued his dismal form getting clubbed by the sole Changeling facing and scampered back to the Cleric for some healing.
After returning back to the keep with this vital information, they are rebuffed by the Templars second in command Tazmikella, who trusts his own scouts reports that it is an undead army they face and therefore easy prey for the paladins.
The Keeper then visits the party and confirms their report, whereupon he tells them that he has committed the Order to this engagement and can't abandon the Templars - no matter how foolish they are being. He tells them that they are the last hope of the Order, and it is now up to them to save the Order, and the Templars, from certain doom!
Aelthane joins the party
Travelling to the nations capital on the instruction of the Keeper, the party arrives to meet their newest companion. Bolt the gnome rogue has been waiting for them. With their previous experience with the abductions, the party wastes no time debating but launches straight into an investigation that takes them all over the city. They visit the City Watch, where a friend of Bolt's tells them that things have been very quiet in the poor quarter and there is a shortage of beggars on the streets these days. Following on with that lead, Roughnut (who, thanks to a drinking session and a bit of slurring, has been renamed Gruffnut) overhears in the tavern that the disturbance appears to originate at the docks. Arrakin hits a wall when he goes to the docks, being too much of an outsider to garner any useful information. Meanwhile, in the town square, Bolt manages to give completely the wrong sign to one of the thieves and gets caught out by a passing Paladin, Sir Blanx. After a couple of tense moments, Gruff overcomes his short sighted colour blindness and realises that Blanx is a member of the order thanks to the familiar surplice draped over the paladin's shoulders. Having narrowed the search down to the docks area, specifically one of the warehouses, the party also managed to gain the attention of the Slavers themselves. Setting up watch, Bolt is discovered at the same moment as he discovers the enemy scout. Pre-empting the assassination, the party heads directly for the warehouse district, where they are ambushed unsuccessfully by 4 thugs. Subduing the only survivor, the paladin manages to persuade the ruffian that it is in his best interests to spill the location of the slavers ring rather than be left to the 'tender ministrations' of his companions. Not wanting to waste any more time, and having rather more specific directions, the party makes a beeline for the slavers hideout. Easily picking the lock, the groups stealthy entry is somewhat hampered when the paladin trips on the step and crashes to the ground in plate armor in the entryway. Trying to gain an advantage by getting away from the racket, Bolt bolts into the darkness only to be clobbered by two orcs waiting in ambush. In a similar move, the elf cops the same treatment in a different quarter. Springing the ambush, the orcs surround the gnome and Akkarin takes a beating at the axe of an angry Orc. Proving once again what a rock he is, Gruffnut takes a beating from the surrounding orcs but no noticeable damage. Bolt squeezes out of combat and manages to stay not dead until help arrives in the form of an angry elf. Finding themselves alone, they soon discover the trapdoor leading out of the warehouse and miraculously, all the way out of the city. After getting shot by the trapped door, Bolt manages to disarm the remaining traps along the way and the group finds themselves in a lightly wooded area in the early hours of the morning. With most of the enemy asleep, the only guards are hideously mutated human beings, who seem more like undead than living beings. Leaving the noisy tanks behind, the elf and the gnome sneak out an manage to butcher 4 of the guards before the elf (for the second time in two weeks) somehow manages to miss a sleeping enemy and raises the alarm. With the need for stealth passes, the tanks charge in, with the paladin being the first to hit the "Changelings". It proves to be an incredibly steep learning curve thanks to damage reduction and their hit points. The leader manages to arise and get on his horse, charging into the melee swamped elf. Eraloth and the boss then go toe to toe in an airswing competition with the only real damage coming when Bolt fires into the melee and downs the elf with a badly aimed shot! Sir Blanx also bit the dust under the weight of the Changeling assault and Akkarin and Gruffnut get mauled badly, things look grim for the party. Staying alive long enough to grind the last of the Changelings down, the boss decided that discretion is the better party of valor and hightails it. Leaving the party tired, bleeding but alive and no faced with the fate of 100 captured slaves...
Bolt joins the party
The journey begins with three of the adventurers meeting at the Whistling Pig by design. Having each been approached by the mysterious hooded man who called himself "The Keeper" and given an ultimatum to join the Order or die in the attempt.
Akkarin (JB) a human wizard joined willingly, having just graduated from the College of Magic on the isle of Myr Tiriniel.
Roughnut (John) a dwarven cleric who has forgotten the last two years of his life joined on the condition of payment.
Wilbur (Jarad) a wood elf fighter who has just left his woodland home to find his own legend, was forcibly recruited when it became obvious that he was overmatched.
The last member, Bolt (Eli) is a gnomish rogue who has been recruited previously and is currently on an unknown mission in the nation's capital.
The village of Ismar on the Northern Frontier has been raided, as have several other isolated villages in the north. The Keepers send the group on a mission with the words "Do what you feel is right".
Arriving at the village they find it empty, with tracks leading away from the village into the northern wilderness.
After brief deliberation (in which Akkarin suggests that they report back to the Keeper) they decide to follow the tracks and hunt the raiders.
Approaching the camp in the dead of night, they split up so that the elf and human have a chance to stay quiet as the heavily armored dwarf provides a noisy distraction on the opposite side of the camp.
They find the Orc raiders taking their ease in a clearing, with four guards standing watch and the rest revelling in their plunder of the villages alcoholic beverages. There is also an ogre, deep in a drunken stupor.
The Elf springs the attack, sprinting forward under cover of the trees to take the Ogre down while it is helpless. Roughnut ambushes the guard closest to him and Akkarin casts a light spell to daze the light sensitive Orcs.
In a display of complete incompetance, the elf manages to miss the helpless ogre and the dwarf's ambushee comes away with a scratched face.
The melee is joined with the wizard taking down an orc per round (thanks to his Ring of Spell Storing) and even managed to clobber one to death with his club!
The situation for the Elf does not improve, getting clobbered by the Ogre, then diced up by the encircling Orcs. Only a timely heal spell from the cleric saves him from death.
The dwarf performed admirably, as attack after attack rained down to be deflected by his Family Full Plate armor.
After the Orcs are downed, the prisoners are released and the party makes its way back to the village of Ismar. There is a celebration, and the morning after they are inducted into the Order by the Keeper. He informs them that they have performed well and gives them their surplices that represent their initiation as a Watcher in the Dark. They are then sent to the nation's capital where they will meet with another initiate who requires their assistance in a sensitive matter....
Akkarin (The Keeper) joins the party
Roughnut joins the party
Eraloth joins the party