Below is an email I sent to my players after an approximately 6 month hiatus, that summarizes the campaign to that point and is a decent overview of the first half of the party's trek. Those of you familiar with the Midnight setting may recognize elements of the Crown of Shadow minicampaign booklet, which of course is what I am running because I'm too dense to come up with my own material.
When last we left our intrepid band of travellers, They were holed up in a secret basement silo beneath the storage outbuilding of Tuk's Tavern in Swiftwater, a largely independent gnomish trading village set on a tributary of the great Eren River.
Guided there by Wendell Gale, of the Gale family mercantile fleet, the group is awaiting assistance by Tuk himself, master smuggler and purveyor of fine libations popular enough with the rank and file of the Dark Lord's armies that the orc and goblin sailors and soldiers leave the gnomes to self-government, provided all necessary tithes and bribes are paid.
The trek has been long and arduous, begun some few arcs (months) ago, when Wendell enlisted the services of one Tamoharra, Erenlander wildlander, to help him escort a quartet of elven emissaries from Swift Water to the Kaladrun mountains. Cantara, a Sarcosan rogue, on the lam from too much heat in Baden's Bluff, was invited to come along. Khee, the junglekin elf, or Danisil, represented her people in this most secret of missions from the Witch Queen of the Elves herself. Together, they guided Rhiann, Bayal, and Eirinn(NPCS), two high elves and a snow elf, to meet the dorthane of Durgis Rock.
The group met with representatives of Durgis Rock in the foothills of the Kaladruns: Durzol, a Dworg wildlander; Gracen, a human blacksmith and honorary member of the Durgis Clan; and Dunk, a dwarf wildlander (NPC). After introductions and some harrowing experiences together, the two parties returned to find Durgis Rock in ruins. The three elven emissaries gave their lives to liberate the pitiful survivors of Durgis Rock from their goblin and golem guardians, and with his last breath the dorthane bequeathed the object of the Witch Queen's quest: a magically protected scroll case containing only he and the queen know what.
Taking up the quest, the party escorted the survivors to Silver Vein, picking up a dwarf channeler named Greta along the way. The return trek began, with more harrowing encounters of goblin scouts, ungral (undead, or Fell), and orc patrols. A bit of respite was given a wandering group of Dornish refugees, to which the party gifted some of the elven artifacts of mundane but useful magics.
Then, caught between a resupply caravan and no other hiding place, the party was forced underground, eventually finding their way to Pardrum Holdfast, an underground settlement of Dwarves. After proving their worth, the party was escorted beneath the mountains to the eastern edge of the Erenland plains. Greta, the surviving channeler of Durgis Rock, was too overwhelmed by the endless expanse of flatness, and parted ways with the group, returning to Pardrum.
The trek across the grasslands of central Eredane has been long, and on the way the group encountered the grim ruins of a temporary encampment of halfling nomads. There the group met Sardric, an orc of the White Mother tribe who, unlike his brethren, believed that Izrador's campaign of conquest was not only morally wrong, but that all orckind was an expendable resource that would be cast away upon the dark one's final victory. Unable to stand idly by while his comrades pillaged and burned, he stood up for the small ones and paid the price of shame and torture. Rescued by the party, he trailed them discreetly as they tracked the path of the slavers, and assisted in the daring rescue. Gracen's keen animal empathy enabled him to spook the picketed boros into a stampede, sowing chaos in the slumbering patrol, killing at least two in the stampede while Cantara freed the halfling survivors and the rest of the group attacked the orc guards from their hiding places in the tall grass.
Rewarded with honory membership in the Crescent River tribe, the group were gifted with a boro, a wagon, and the military spoils of orc war materiel. Some days later they met with a band of Sarcosan freeriders, the horse lords who disdain the traitor princes of the south, those men of power in the grand cities that rolled over for the dark god's war machine, selling their souls and freedom for a pittance of localized power and authority. Trade and barter ensued, the riders accepting orcish weapons in exchange for specialty items such as a blade staff and folding bow among other things. A few days on horseback consumed many miles of grassland.
The group finally reached the broad expanse of the Eren River valley, parting ways with the horse lords, and came upon the spectral scene of the abandoned village of Redwinde. With no outward signs of violence or catastrophe, it had appeared that the entire village had simply vanished, leaving untended fields and houses in advancing states of disrepair. Further investigations revealed the town was overrun by the Fell.
Taking refuge in none other than the stoutly constructed Temple of Izrador in the central square, the party gained a brief respite in the company of the minor legate Astegar and his acolytes. There they learned the true origin of this sad tale: A young betrothed couple, torn apart by violence. The young lad struck down at random ire by an orc soldier, a young girl's anguish driving her to steal into the basement of the Temple and somehow, beyond all imagining, foul the zordrafin corinth, the so-called Black Mirror in which slaves and criminals are sacrificed to feed the dark energies of the black god. This tampering released explosive energies that killed every living thing in the village, creating a mob of ungral humans that still claw at the doors of the temple.
Then Astegar revealed his own morbid state of undeath, clinging to the hope of restoring the zordrafin corinth with the fresh blood of living beings. The party had other things to say about that.
After leaving the sad memory of the village behind, escaping the magic-consuming effects of the black mirror, the party continued northward, until they found the tributary leading off to the town of Swift Water, where our story continues...