The journey from the small port up to the keep proper was uneventful. However their first view of the keep itself was quite a shock. The central most turret was missing, it looked to be snapped off right at the base, but there were no stones lying on the ground, or cracks in the remaining masonry. They marveled at this for a moment, then headed to the main gate. After presenting their charge to the gatekeeper, they were escorted to bailiff Stanley's office. Bailif Stanley was an older, stern looking man. He glared at them from his high backed chair, "You understand the rules? No fighting, no drawn weapons, no stealing. Just because you've come to the borderlands doesn't mean the law has ceased to exist. Just the opposite, the law is to more strict here, as an example to the very wilderness itself." The two comrades blinked and resolutely gave their acknowledgement. "Good, now that the formalities are over, " he cracked an almost grandfatherly smile "what do you need to know about the keep and it's surrounding environs?" Garth wasted no time in asking the question formost on their mind, what had happened to the tower? "Oh that would be Etran's doing, that magical bastard. He teleported himself here some five years ago and used a shadowy portal to rip it clean off the fortress. He cackled about needing it for 'research'. We tried to shoot him out of the sky but failed, wizards being what they are. Shortly after the court wizards and Aquinae clerics cast protections on the keep and we haven't had any issues." Garth and Gornad gaped open mouthed. "A wizard just did that? And hasn't been punished?" "No he hasn't been caught. We are off the mainland, the magical protections keeping them in check don't exist here, or didn't at least. Thankfully, most wizards who don't join the court blow themselves up in hairbrained expiriments in short order." "I've never heard of Etran before, though he seems like a major threat?" The bailiff sighed. "Yes, but no more than most wizards are, and most wizards are fine or dead. I imagine he straightened himself out or died, because we havent heard since. The only reason we know his name is because he kept cackling it madly." The pair leaned back, not sure if they should be relieved or more uneasy. "Well, perhaps we should be getting along and seeing about our lodgings, if you need nothing else of us." Garth intoned, eager to begin prepping for their next adventure." The bailiff rose heavily "Of course, although I suggest you two find some companions before heading out into the wilderness beyond" ... They found themselves in a heated argument with a cleric and his ranger traveling companion. The ranger was a sultry young woman, clad in a fine leather jerkin and pants combo that left little to the imagination. "And why should we trust you!" She spat, "we just met you, and all you have to offer is the name 'Gleamshot' as if your lineage means anything out here!" "Now Nemyt, no need to get nasty." The cleric said soothingly "These two are merely offering suggestions for party leadership, they are not trying to run your life." The Aquinaen Cleric stood up, silvered holy symbol clinking against his chain shirt. "I see no reason not to let him lead in the field, nobles are often given command positions in the military. I am willing to accept these terms on the condition that I handle the parties finances." A cold glint came into Barry's eyes as he stared evenly at the dwarf and fighter in turn. "Not like you let me get hands on the gold anyway" Nemyt intoned, smoothing her golden curls back into position. "Fine I'll agree to that." Garth took a measured breath "That's acceptable to me, Gornad you?" "Ay, there be no problem from me." Business concluded, if tensely, they set about the important work of building cohesion, and set to drinking their fill. The one armed bartender, Thomas, gave all new adventurers the first night on the house. This would be the last kindess the world gave the band for awhile, and he knew it better than most. ... The next day, with heads hanging heavy from the nights festivities, they visited the important places in the keep. Chief among them was the Chapel, domain of Bishop Donley, who offered his assistance to the party, saying he would help them buy transport to the far side of the island where the monsters were rumored to dwell. A much more interesting encounter happened when they went to the guild to check the open bounties. The girl behind the counter caught Nemyt's lustful eye. Nemyt sidled up the counter and ask where a girl could go to have a "good time" and possibly get paid for her troubles. The guildgirl blushed deeply and said she wouldn't know about such a thing, but passed The ranger a note instructing her to come to the grain cellar at midnight. While this ecounter happened in the background, the rest of the party perused the bounty board, and learned of some strange corpse found northwest of the keep, and resolved to go check them out. ... They traveled for a better part of the afternoon before coming across the gorilla-man village. The large Apes had the intelligence of goblins, but lacked a langauage. They had been pushed out the caves they preffered by the monsters who dwelt there now. In recompense, they had built study grass huts on the plains and begun patrolling them visously. Sensing a chance of easy loot, the party launched into action. Nemyt let an arrow fly from her bow and struck one the beastmen in the skull, dropping it. Gornad dashed foward to fight the beasts toe to toe, while Barry and Garth run around, intending to flank. However, for some inscrutable reason, Garth ran far too wide, and was no were near Gornad for what happened next. The rest of the beasts, seven of them, were enraged at seeing one of their own die. Two rushed the dwarf, while the rest threw rocks, all roaring their bestial roars. The rocks landed shy of the dwarf, and the first Ape swung its fists wide. The second ape struck the dwarf directly in the jaw. The mighty blow rocked the dwarf to his core. The pain was immense, but brief. As the fist crashed into his jaw, and the second came down to cave his head in, helm and all, he had a vision. He was a dragon, a massive red dragon, with his hoard deep below the earth, far far from prying eyes. How long had he been here? In the dark, below the earth? 100 years, 200? No one had come to steal his hoard, and he had grown bored. There was no thrill to this senseless existence, something would have to change... The vision shifts... He was Gornad the Warlock, dragon patron who he only had a half-remembered meeting with... The vision blurs... He was Gornad the Great dwarven pit fighter with a dragon motiff... the vision sharpens... He's Gornard of the Fiery Caves, boarding a ship bound the human Kingdom of Salmaeus. This is his past, and his legacy, a dragon using magic to find adventure again, now dying in this unknown field to some thrice-blasted apes. He guessed it was a good run, but regretted that he would soon become Gornad the Dead... Garth watched in shocked horror as the ape caved his friend's skull in, and the ripped the head from the body. The beast roared its defiance, covered in the viscera of the dwarf. In the confusion, Nemyt was able to fell another of their number, and called for the group to retreat. Barry heeded the warning and began backpedaling, seeing that the dwarf was beyond saving. But Garth was blinded by his grief and rage, and charged the ape that killed his friend. The ape was confused by the charged, and stumbled back. Garth was able to cleave it's body in twain, and leave its corpse on the ground. He recovered Gornad's axe, and trudged back to the rest of the party weary from his exertion and grief. The party returned to the keep shaken to their cores.