Codrus, the party’s Minotaur Warden, had made it known to the party a long time ago that he was from Droaam, that Droaamite Warlord Rhesh Turakbar had killed his parents, and that some day Codrus would ask his party for help in getting revenge. The perfect opportunity seemed to arise when Captain Kalaes of the King’s Citadel informed them that Brug, a fellow Stormhold Adventuring Guild member who’d gone missing after helping the party during SotAC, had been seen captive in Turkabar’s Fist. Needing to get out of Sharn for a while anyway after their crime-fighting escapades the party loaded up and headed into Droaam once more.
The party had great success recruiting help from Codrus’s home in the Watching Wood. An attempt to hire Znir Pact mercenaries then apparently failed, only to net the party the clandestine support of the Znir Circle, a band of gnoll shamans who worked behind the scenes to free the gnolls from the Beast of Butchery. From there the warband marched on Turakbar’s Fist itself.
The shamans of the Watching Wood convinced a bullette to dig a small force consisting of Patrin (human warlord/sorcerer) and the Wood’s ten barbarians (affectionately referred to as the Skullkickers) into Turakbar’s prison to free Brug and several other arena fighters. Upon doing so they burst out of the prison and began attacking the Fist from within. Vendrick (shifter fighter) and a small group of warriors disguised as a Turakbar raiding party then rushed towards the gate, while Kale d’Thuranni (Elf Assassin) disguised herself as a hobgoblin and teleported inside. She managed to convince the distracted ogres manning the gate to open it to let the ‘raiding party’ inside. When Vendrick and his team took the gate Codrus and the rest of the warband then rushed out of the nearby forest and stormed inside.
For some time the fighting went on in utter chaos, until the separated party members got themselves back together. Meeting in the middle of the fighting with the Watching Wood and Znir Circle leaders, they assessed the situation. Although their warband was inflicting ruinous damage they were still vastly outnumbered. The HAD to kill Turakbar, and fast, before they were overwhelmed. The party, accompanied by a minotaur warrior-shaman and a gnoll shaman, stormed the citadel’s central labyrinth. Overrunning a few score of defenders the party was then pursued by at least two hundred enemies, but the Skullkickers planted themselves in the entryway and told the party to finish the job.
The party managed to avoid a slew of traps, monsters, and dead-ends in the labyrinth thanks to Codrus, finally coming to Turakbar’s throne room. The massive warlord and his lieutenants seemed completely unconcerned with the situation, and after mocking Codrus’s quest for revenge attacked. Evenly matched in numbers, the party managed to outmatch Turakbar’s force in skill, even while Codrus and Turakbar fought one-on-one. Despite Turakbar’s great strength, and despite the warlord taking on Aspects of Baphomet during the fight, Codrus slew his foe with a final sweep of his triple-headed flail.
When Turakbar’s corpse released the demonic energy that had empowered him in a blast of red and black that threw most of the party back several steps, Codrus stood up from the mist a changed minotaur. A disturbingly huge Aberrant Mark lay upon his skin and horns, and when he looked at the party there was no recognition in his eyes. The bellowing laughter from the Warden’s mouth was just as unrecognizable. At the urging of their shaman companions the rest of the party fled as Turakbar’s Fist was laid to waste and primal spirits rose up to smite whomever they could reach.
Of those warriors who followed Turakbar and Baphomet, perhaps a few handfuls escaped as the citadel was destroyed in rampaging forests and lightning-scarred peaks. 3/10 of the Skullkickers, 4/10 of the Watching Wood’s other leaders (druids, shamans, etc.), 10/30 of the Znir Circle, and 70/90 of the Wood’s mundane warriors were killed. Codrus was lost to the party in a storm of unnatural disasters and whirling spirits.
On the one hand, Turakbar and his horde were gone. The Watching Wood and the travelers and villagers of Northwestern Breland were free of a scourge that had plagued them for years. Baphomet’s best known adherent had been slain, cutting the imprisoned demon lord off from a prime source of power and influence in Eberron. On the other, the party had lost one of their original members and leaders, and their allies were sent limping home. While nothing was coming out of the area around Turakbar’s Fist to attack anyone neither could anything enter it and get out alive, meaning that Breland had lost their only easy (and Argonth-usable) invasion route should war with Droaam flare up. Questions abounded about whether or not the Daughters of Sora Kell had manipulated this entire affair into being, and if so to what exact purpose. Their silence and lack of action as Turakbar had become bolder and more aggressive now seemed particularly ominous. Not even Droaamite gossip seemed to agree on what had happened, although common thought seemed to say that surely the Daughters had been up to SOMETHING.
As for the party, they were left with the question of Codrus’s Mark. Did it manifest because of the demonic energy that had lashed out at the Warden? Was Codrus always destined to bear it, and the Mark simply chose the worst possible moment to appear? Did the young minotaur unwittingly fulfill some obscure strand of the Draconic Prophecy and thus doom himself to a fate he could have otherwise avoided? And how was the Mark so powerful, easily matching the strength of Aberrants not seen since the War of the Mark? But that is the problem with Aberrant Marks: there are no rules, and no easily answered questions.
For the moment, the party rushes to Graywall in Droaam to spend a day licking their wounds and to ask: what now?