Dragonslayer

Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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Session 1: Web of Fear

This tale began as so many others have; in a tavern. While the rain and wind of summer’s final storm beat down upon the Black Stag Inn, in the small town of Keen, three strangers’ destinies were about to become entwined.

While a trio of would-be adventurers poured over a map promising riches and fame, a thief, a monk, and a scholar listened intently. Lemaia; a tiefling rogue, Merle Stonefist; a dwarven Monk of the way of the Mountain, and Era; an air genasi bard from a far-off land each made an attempt to get near the map, steal the map, or otherwise join the party, if for nothing more than a share of the plunder. Each met with failure, save for Era, whose silver tongue and intellectual curiosity calmed the increasingly paranoid trio. They revealed that they were searching for the lost dwarven mines of Dhol Kuldihr.

The trio accepted Era’s offer to investigate, and-after finishing their drinks-retreated upstairs for some much needed rest. Lemaia, who had managed to snag a peek at the map requested some parchment and a charcoal pencil from Gimnar, the Innkeeper, so that she might sketch what she had seen from memory. Gimnar sent his daughter, Fella, downstairs to fetch it. She was gone only a moment when a scream let loose from the cellar. Fella burst through the door with six cat-sized spiders following her.

The remaining patrons fled of hid as the spiders descended on Lemaia, Era and Merle. Era used her training in the arcane arts to put the advancing arachnids to sleep, and the three commenced slaughtering them before they could wake. The taproom secure, Gimnar rushed to his daughter’s side to console her. She, however, had some rather unpleasant news; every barrel of ale that had been in the cellar was gone.

Gimnar was beside himself with grief. In a week the town of Keen would be hosting the Many-Partings festival. Without the ale, the effect on Gimnar’ business would be catastrophic. While the innkeeper wallowed in his woes, Merle, Era and Lemaia had a plan. They offered to track down the ale, to which Gimnar graciously offered 100 gold pieces for the return of.

The newly formed trio took some time to dress their wounds and gather their supplies before venturing into the basement. Once there they investigated the area, attempting to deduce how eleven large barrels of ale could have vanished from the cellar without anyone noticing. It was Merle who thought to check the wall. It wasn’t long before he discovered loose stone. After a moment he removed a set of stones from the wall to reveal a tunnel leading off into the darkness. Intrigued, the three companions ventured off into the shadows.

They traveled for sometime through the strange tunnel before coming to an opening. Squeezing through, they found themselves standing in a tunnel system, with wooden supports lining the walls. As they moved in, they were ambushed by a small band of green-scaled kobolds. The companions banded together to defeat their foes, and managed to capture one.

The kobold captive, terrified of the three companions, confessed that this area was claimed by his tribe, and that they were ruled by their God-king, Verolax. After some coaxing, he agreed to take them to him. He led them down a dark tunnel, where the insidious little creature tripped a trap, collapsing the entire corridor upon himself and his captors. Era and Lemaia managed to escape to safety but Merle was buried beneath mounds of stone.

Frantically the genasi and tiefling sifted through the debris, searching for Merle, who was clinging to life. Thankfully they managed to reach him on the very edge of death’s door, and Era supplied him with some of her healing magic. The three emerged from the tunnel, somewhat battered, and somewhat disturbed that the kobold would rather kill himself than face the wrath of his master, who or whatever it was.

They pressed on, discovering a few precious gems along the way. After traversing thee winding halls, the trio discovered a natural cavern with a hot spring of sweet-smelling clear liquid. The three investigated the pool, surmising that it was perhaps teaming with some kind of healing magic.. After some experimenting, they found that they were right, and if one were to rest in it’s waters for a short time, their wounds would begin to close, of not completely heal over.

After a refreshing dip, they pressed on, soon finding themselves in what looked like the central hub of the complex. Mining supplies lined the wall, and five tunnels lead off into every direction. One tunnel was blocked with rotting shelves and chairs, stacked floor to ceiling. Curiosity got the best of them, and they removed the obstructions. What they found beyond was not what they were expecting.

A chamber of prettified carcasses-several of which were kobolds and other unidentifiable animals-swinging in cacoons of thick, silky webs from the ceiling. Standing motionless on the far side of the room were a pair of spiders the size of men, and one bloated arachnid the size of a heavy horse, bearing contless scars. This was the lair of Gorgoroth, the many-eyed king, a monstrous spider of untold age. They attacked first, moving faster then they appeared they were capable of. Gorgoroth plunged his mandibles into Lemaia, his burning poison dropping her to the floor, paralyzed.

Era, thinking fast, through her lantern at the great spider’s feet, burning him and forcing him to back away. Merle then leaped into action, staff in hand, a flurry of blows against Gorgoroth’s unholy spawn. Era too met with one of the hideous man-sized spiders, who bore down upon her, razor-sharp mandibles clacking inches from her face.

Merle dispatched on of the spawn before turning his attention towards Era’s foe, and ending it. The dwarf’s victory was short lived, as the moment his back was turned, the great Gorgoroth plunged his mandibles into him. Merle too succumbed to the elder spider’s venom, and slumped into a heap next to Lemaia. Era was the only one left. She timidly held he rapier up. She could abandon her friends, but she knew the awful fate that would have awaited them; being devoured alive.

Summoning all the bravery she could muster, Era rushed forth, but the many-eyed king knocked her feeble attempts of attack aside. It rushed her, pushing her back to the wall. As it reared up to deliver a final blow she plunged her rapier into the beast’s black heart. It lurched back, seared and bleeding, and tumbled to the floor, finally dead.

In a daze, Era quickly started dragging her companions back to the healing cavern, praying that the magical waters there could revive them. After a very long hour under her watchful eye, Merle and Lemaia began to stir. Slowly they regained the full use of their appendages, and returned to Gorgoroth’s lair to search it for any valuables. After many desiccated corpses, they discovered a lone dwarf skeleton clutching a vial of green liquid. At his side were an axe of exceptional quality, and a battered mug.

Beaten, bruised, bleeding, and half alive, the three decided that a rest was necessary. Together they huddled in the cavern of the healing waters, unsure and unaware of the dangers that lurk in the dark tunnels beyond the edge of their torchlight.

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Session 2: Stone, Flame and Stair

Having survived the confrontation with Gorgoroth, the three companions settled in for some much needed rest. They took refuge in the cavern of the healing waters they had discovered earlier. Wounds bound, the trio doused their lantern and drifted off into an exhausted slumber.

Some time later Lemaia awoke to a strange squelching sound. She peered through the darkness, but saw nothing. She awoke Era to alert her, but the genasi’s eyes were not as adept to dark places like the tiefling’s was. Suddenly a shape rose up from the stone. It looked as if the cavern floor itself had risen up like a viper, and struck at Lemaia. The thief tried to plunge her rapier into the strange, gray ooze, but she soon discovered that the creature’s body seared the blade with a corrosive acid. Soon Merle awoke, and with quarter staff in hand, he too joined the fray. The three managed to slay the ooze, and a second that had been laying in wait. From that moment on, they decided that it was best to leave one of them awake to keep a close watch while the others slept.

When everyone was fully rested, they continued on their quest to locate Gimnar Bronzehammer’s ale. They returned to the large supply room with the many exits branching off. Following Lemaia’s intuition, they traveled down a short hallway. Merle spied a sign above the entryway to a chamber. The sign read, in dwarven; NO ARMOR OR WEAPONS BEYOND THIS POINT.

Intrigued, the dwarven monk cautiously entered the room. A strange steel table stood between two copper pillars, topped with round metallic orbs. One of the pillars had a crank. In the far corner of the chamber was a desk, covered in dust and cobwebs, with a small leather book atop it. Merle inspected the book, quickly turning to the final page.

Disturbed by the mention of the boarded floor from the supply room, Merle raced out of the room to investigate. Meanwhile, Era’s curiosity got the best of her, and she slipped into the room to get a better look at the strange contraption around the metal table. That was when she spied the crank. Unable to help herself, Era turned the crank.

The pillars hummed, and suddenly a bolt of electricity sprang from one of the orbs and struck the table. A plethora of stone fragments, geodes, and crystals that have been sitting on it began to dance about. The stray pieces joined together until they became a menacing stone man.

Era fled from the room, and Merle returned to confront the new menace, only to find an empty chamber. Behind Era, the stone man walked silently from a solid stone wall and slammed a heavy, rocky fist into her back. She tumbled forward, and Merle stepped in, placing himself between the bard and her stony assailant. While the dwarf and the stone man traded blows, Era and Lemaia attempted to reach out and talk the angry elemental down, though thanks to some improvised primordial speech from the thief, it took a little longer than expected.

The stone man said that he felt lost, without purpose. Era vowed to do whatever she could to help the stone man find his way. With that, he descended into the floor, leaving no trace he had ever been there at all. All seemed well, until Era felt a sharp jab in her side. She turned to see a lone kobold, one of the green scaled ones that harried them earlier, had slid a dagger into her ribs. She fell into a bloody heap. The kobold immediately ran back to his hiding place; beneath the dusty desk. Merle chased the green sneak, but found that the kobold had escaped through a tunnel carved into the wall.

Lemaia, thinking fast, retrieved the vial of green liquid they had found on the dwarf skeleton in Gorgoroth’s lair and pressed it to Era’s cold lips. Praying it wasn’t acid, she poured. Luckily it was a potion of healing. Era had escaped the clutches of death. Merle returned to his companions moments later, the kobold long gone. The trio decided to take a moment to regroup and rest before tackling any other challenges.

After some time in the miraculous healing waters, they set out for another hallway. This one was long, winding, and with strange grooves carved into the ceiling. Stranger was a pungent scent rising up from a wet floor. With some investigation, they discovered that the liquid was dwarven whiskey. A sudden bang alerted the three to trouble behind them. A crudely made portcullis had fallen to block their path, and standing behind it a trio of kobolds wearing shields, and worse; a torch. The torch landed upon the whiskey soaked floor, and the hallway was engulfed in flames. Another bang came from behind and another portcullis, further down the hall, stood between the companions and freedom from the fire. A second group of kobolds came running to the location, wielding slings and crossbows.
Lemaia, whose fiendish heritage made her resistant to the flames, took a moment to snuff out the fire around Era with her cloak. The bard, thinking fast, pulled her flute free and played a note that put the shielded kobolds to sleep. Merle flung deadly darts at the sling wielding kobolds.

The bard noticed that the construction of the portcullises was primitive, and probably easily broken. Lemaia took a chance, and burst through. The kobolds, taken completely off-guard by the display, easily fell before her blades. With a path now clear, the three ran down the hall to safety.

Era broke her enchantment over the sleeping kobolds, who awoke enraged. Lemaia set a devilish trap for them at the far end of the hall with a bag of ball bearings. The kobolds, totally unaware bearings slipped and slid into an adjacent wall, where Merle, Lemaia and Era quickly dismantled them.

With their enemies slain, they set off again down the winding corridor. Through many twists and turns, they found themselves standing before a familiar sight, the entrance to the cavern of healing waters. The three companions took some time to mend their burns and returned to the supply room, taking yet another tunnel. This one was shorter, forking off after only 20ft. Lemaia’s gut instinct told her to go left, so Merle immediately started walking down the right hall, seemingly finished with the thief’s “gut”.

Beyond, in a chamber, a staircase of stone blocks wrapped around the room, leading up into the darkness. On a nearby wall were a series of seven hooks, each with a corresponding dwarven letter below it. The letters, W-F-A-O-S-L-E were in no particular order, though a miner’s hat was hanging on the “L”.

After some investigating the companions discovered that the hooks operated some manner of mechanism within the stairs, which Lemaia surmised was some manner of security device. The hook-mechanism operated the security device, either keeping the way safe for it’s dwarven creators, or collapsing the stairs in case invaders attempted to press upward.

Putting herself in the mindset of a greedy dwarf, eager to keep his riches safe, Lemaia, with some suggestions from her companions, managed to compile a list of words comprised of those letters, narrowing it down until she was left with only two; “SAFE” and “FALSE”.

Trusting in her “gut” once again, Lemaia pulled the hooks for F-A-L-S-E. There was an audible turning of cogs, and then silence. Steeling herself, the tiefling thief slowly pushed herself up the stairs. Higher and higher she climbed, until finally they came to end. She called to Era and Merle to come see what she had discovered.

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Session 3: Killer Cubes and Cunning Kobolds

Emerging from the staircase, Era, Lemaia, and Merle found themselves in a hall of neatly laid stone bricks. A far cry from the chipped away tunnels below. Dark hallways stretched in two directions. Sturdy-looking, iron-banded wooden doors lined the walls up and down the hall. With every ounce of caution they could muster, they picked a door, checked to see if was trapped, and quietly slipped inside.

Within was a room is dominated by a large, chipped stone desk bearing an intricate design that was once probably stunning to behold, but has since been marred by scrapes and gouges Tattered tapestries hung moldering from the wall. Wooden chairs lay broken and crushed about the stone floor. The strangest feature, however, was an old suit of dwarven armor standing in the corner. Rather, it was armor made by dwarves, bu was too tall to be worn by a dwarf.

The room bore little else of interest, but the draw of the armor was great. Lemaia searched the suit for traps, and luckily found an array of runes, barely visible, carved upon the surface. He all at once decided that touching the armor was a bad idea, and moved on to the next room.

The second room was a mess. Four wooden posts. wrapped in moldering fabrics, lay sundered over a torn mattress. Down of some unknown bird spilled from the tear across a warn rug. The companions crept inside, trying not to rouse too much attention. Lemaia began searching the torn mattress for anything of value. What she found were a pair of knife-wielding kobolds. The short, reptilian creatures leaped into action, attacking Lamaia, Merle, and Era. The thief dove into moldering remains of the four post bed while her companions decimated the pair of cunning kobolds.

When one fell, the other raced to the wall, revealing a secret door that lead to the previous room. Merle gave chase, followed by Era, but when they arrived in the room with the large stone desk, they found the injured kobold standing next to the trapped suit of armor. With a poke from the little creature, the armor came to life, crushing the kobold in one devastating blow, it’s empty visor focused directly on Merle.

The armor stepped upon the desk, delivering a blow after bone-shattering blow with its steel gauntlets. The dwarf was not to be undone, and tapped into all he had learned in his monastery about the way of the mountain. He would not move to this… thing, and he certainly would not fall. He delivered a series of punishing blows, denting the armor with staff, foot, and fist. Era’a attempts to fell the animated armor with her crossbow were proving fruitless. Lemaia, freshly returned from her hiding place, offered to take aim. Her lucky bolt soared through the visor, breaking the rune that empowered the being. The armor fell into a heap, the magic that once held it together dispersed.

The trio decided to try their luck across the hall. The door they opened lead to a long chamber with bunked beds stacked four high lining the walls. From those bunks sprang seven more kobold warriors. Era, with some quick thinking, put half of them to sleep. The rest attacked or fled the room, attempting to flank the companion, but Merle was there to meet them, dispatching them with ease. A sole survivor raced down the hall to a barred door, but the monk was faster, and his strike was true. The kobold fell before he reached the door.

With the barracks emptied, the three tried their luck with another door, this one stuck. After a few attempts they managed to break it down. Beyond was a spa of sorts, with a single stone walkway running down the center of the room, and stairs on either side leading down into what appeared to be more of the healing hot spring they had encountered in the lower levels.

More macabre, though, were the skeletal corpses of four dwarves, a bizarre purple fungus growing from their chest.

As Lemaia leaned down to investigate, the fungi sprang to life, whipping about pseudo-pods. They lashed both Lemaia and Era with the rotting touch, and the pair were wracked in pain as their flesh began to decompose before their very eyes. Merle leaped into action, holding a pair at bay, while the thief and the bard drew their steel and cut the fungi down to size. They disposed of the violet fungus in short order, claiming the room and it’s invaluable resource; the healing waters, which they made immediate use of. They spent a long while, treating their wounds, taking turns sleeping until finally they felt ready to move on.

On the far end of the barracks stood a solitary door. Lemaia again made sure that no cleverly disguised traps would befall them, and threw the door open. What she found was the privy. A series of stalls lined the wall, with benches inside, bearing a single hole. On one such stall door hung a silver chain with some manner of shining object. Overcome with her lust for treasure, Lemaia shot forth, but recoiled the instant the floor gave way, collapsing down below.

Strangely, one section of rubble seemed to float downward, slowly drifting even after the rest of the floor had settled. Among the chunks of slowly falling broken floor was the silver necklace. Lemaia nimbly sung herself over, diving boots first into whatever the strange phenomenon was. What she did not expect was the gelatinous quality of the area. Still seeing only treasure, she leaned forward to grab the silver chain, and that was when the gelatinous cube had her.

Era suddenly realized what was happening, but it was too late. The thief began to slowly dissolve before their very eyes. Merle leaped down below, and thrust his bare arms into the cube to rescue his companion. As the flesh was being stripped from him, the dwarf managed to pull Lemaia free, but there was little to celebrate. Cornered, there was nowhere for the monk and thief to go. The cube slowly slid over them, engulfing them into its corrosive body.

Era, summoning up every bit of courage she had, followed Merle’s example and thrust her own arms into the cube from her lofty perch. Summoning a strength she didn’t know she had, she pulled the pair free, though her arms had been completely stripped of skin. A stray pseudo-pod lashed Era in the back, but the still managed to stagger ahead. They were safe for now, but they had paid a hefty price for Lemaia’s treasure-lust.

After a rest, the companions ventured on. Their exploration lead them to another room, this one was mostly sparse, save for a dead kobold, skeletal from the waste up. Era entered, intrigued by the phenomenon. From the ceiling, a green slime fell onto the bard’s shoulders. She issued forth a scream as the slime began to corrode her armor and skin. Lemaia came to her rescue, scrapping the slime off with her trusty dagger.

Meanwhile, as Merle was observing the scene, he felt a warmth, stinking breath on his neck. He turned to see thee face of an emaciated ogre staring back at him, with a crazed-looking kobold riding upon his hunched back. The ogre swung with it’s heavy club, crushing the stone beneath its strike, but thankfully missing everyone else. Era pointed to the giant and demanded “Sleep”. The weak-willed and exhausted ogre was more than happy to oblige, and fell forward. His kobold rider, though,was furious, and attacked Era with all that he had in him.

Merle and Lemaia rushed to her side, and together they slew the raving reptile. After catching their breath, they pressed on, slowly and carefully walking down the halls until the sound of voice reached their ears. Lemaia went on ahead to scout out the situation, eventually coming to the entrance of a chamber. She peeked inside, noticing what looked to be a desecrated temple. It was almost certainly a holy site for some manner of dwarven god, but every stone effigy of him was smashed to rubble, and any surface that bore his symbol was marred and defaced. Standing in the back, upon a dais stood a winged kobold in scale male, clutching a strange symbol around her neck. She seemed to be arguing with a few other less armored kobolds. The thief took care to roll her ball bearings across the entrance as quietly as possible.

Era’s curiosity tugged at her, and soon she found herself stalking up behind Lemaia, though her footfalls didn’t have the practiced experience of the tiefling. The kobolds ceased talking, and and the sound of soft, leathery footfalls echoed thorough the hall. The three waited in anticipation, and when the time came they attacked, clashing with the little reptilian humanoids. The one upon the dais conjured forth a spectral mace to strike those foolish enough to enter. It was then that Merle had his target. He rushed forth, shaking off a blow from the mace, and proceeded to assault the magic-wielding kobold. Era and Lemaia felled the two guards, while the dwarf continued to strike the magic user with devastating blows, though his fists had a difficult time penetrating some invisible shield around her.
Era pulled her flute free and played a song she had never played before. A moment later, the kobold was overcome with raucous laughter. The three bound the laughing kobold and dragged her down the hall, to the room where they had left the gelatinous cube. There, they questioned her.

She revealed her name was Ssassra, and that she was once the leader of her tribe of kobolds. One day a man with a golden mask gave them a gift. The gift, it turns out, was a curse in disguise. The gift was a being called Verolax, and it had displaced Ssassra as leader. It declared itself God-King, and demanded tribute and fidelity from the kobolds.
The trio demanded to know the location of the ale barrels. Ssassra told them that they were not far, and that she would lead them to them om exchange for her life, her freedom, and her ability to reclaim control of the kobolds after the companions dealt with Verolax. Negotiations went sour when Merle asked if it was she who had desecrated the temple. Proudly Ssassra smile, and said “Yesssss”. Merle threw her into the cube, which dissolved her to her bones.

The end of their quest was within sight. If Ssassra had been truthful, the ale was nearby, but the companions were left with many questions. Who, or what was Verolax? What lay in the dark, unexplored corners of this abandoned mine? Would they all stay alive long enough to see Keen again?

As the three returned to the healing spa, locking the door, Lemaia marveled at a new piece of treasure she had taken from Ssassra; the holy symbol she had so tightly clutched. A symbol of Tiamat.

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Session 4: God King of the Kobolds

Having defeated Ssassra, the priestess of Tiamat, the companions settled down for a much deserved rest. After they had prepared themselves, they ventured on, seeking the location of Gimnar’s ale. They continued the way they has explored the day prior, and found themselves standing before a large, iron lift, held aloft with steel chains. Investigation of the strange object would have to wait, as a quartet of kobold guards had discovered them.
Merle launched himself at a pair guardian a large door, while another pair charged at Lemaia and Era. The thief held them at bay, holding aloft Ssassra’s holy symbol. She told them that her intention was to kill the God-King, Verolax, and save them from a life of servitude. Seeing the symbol Ssassra so treasured in the hands of an intruder, and the deceleration that she was here to destroy their leader was more than the guards could stand. They attacked with every fiber of their being,
Merle tested himself against what appeared to be two battle-hardened kobolds, but in the end they were not match for him. He finished them quickly, breaking them beneath his stone-like fists. Meanwhile Era and Lemaia beat back their small attackers, finding what openings they could in their impressive defense. In the end though, the ladies were victorious.

With their assailants dealt with, the trio wondered what was so important behind the door that they needed guards to protect it. With two sets of double doors to choose from, the three went left. What they found was not what they were expecting. A brazer stood in the middle of a hexagonal chamber. Straw was strewn about the area, with eggs nestled together. Tending the eggs were a pair of female kobolds, who, after seeing interlopers, lunged in a frenzy. They wedged one door closed, bottlenecking Era, Merle, and Lemaia. The two kobolds fought like they were possessed, picking apart the companions, but finally, the last of them fell, a tear in her eye.

Era and Lemaia collected an egg each, and torched the rest, closing the door behind them. From there they scooted down narrow hallway, coming to the dust remnants of an old forge, and an old gem cutters, but still the mystery remained; what was behind the other set of double doors?

Curiosity pulled at them, until they found themselves standing outside the tall oak doors. Lemaia cracked the door open ever so slightly. What she saw beyond the door was like another world. The walls were covered with vine of brambles and wicked thorns, which jutted off making walls of their own.. Roots twisted across the floor. A voice rang out from the bizarre chamber.

“Hello” it said, almost growling, ?What sort of thing are you?”

He bid her, and the two in the hallway to come inside. It wasn’t until Lemaia accepted the offer that she saw a pile of gold, copper, and silver coins, with other treasures. Among the items were 10 casks of dwarven ale. What they were searching for, what they had risked their lives for, now stood feet from them.

The voice introduced himself as Verolax. This was the God-King of the kobolds. Still, they could not make him out. He kept moving behind the walls of thorns. Lemaia tried to bargain with him, for the sought-after casks, but this seemed to only enrage Verolax. Realizing he would not easily part with his “treasure” lunged with her rapier, thrusting it into an adjacent wall, but nothing was there. Merle rushed in, following her lead, thrusting his quarterstaff through a break in another thorn wall, likewise meeting with disappointment.

It was then that Verolax made his presence known. A dark claw fell hard upon the stone, and walking from behind a wall stood a dark green dragon, taller than a man. He smiled, and sank his teeth into Merle’s shoulder. The dwarf cried out as the beast’s acidic bite pierced deeply.

To make matters worse, four creatures-the size of halfling and bearing a humanoid shape-emerged from the thorn walls. They were made of twisted brambles, and brought fierce, needle like claws to bare. The strange twig-men attacked Lemaia and Merle with reckless abandon. The thief managed to cut a few down with some artful strokes of her rapier.
Merle fought off the new enemies as best he could, though a few landed piecing blows upon hos legs. Injured, and facing overwhelming odds, he focused his ki, and in a feat of surprising strength, landed a blow upon the dragon that knocked it to the ground. Verolax would not be undone, however. The wyrmling drew a deep breath, and spewed forth a cloud of poison gas. Lemaia was overcome, and fell to the ground. Merle, already near death himself, was only saved by his natural dwarven resistance to poisons, but still succumbed to the dragon’s breath, and fell as well.

The sole remaining twig-man shambled towards the last companion standing; Era. The bard ignored the thing, hurrying to the dragon to strike a final blow. She thrust her rapier towards the chest of the prone wyrmling, but his hide was too thick. He rose up to its full intimidating glory, snapping at Era with his terrible jaws. She shifted away and struck a musical note she had never played before. A deafening clap of thunder erupted through the chamber, reducing the twig-man to splinters, and thrusting the dragon back against the wicked thorn wall.

When the dust settled, Verolax was held tight to the wall, wrapped in his own brambles. He looked at Era, demanding, “What are you?”

She thought about it for a moment, “Pissed that you hurt my friends.” was he only reply. With a quick swipe with her blade, she freed the ‘God-king’s’ head from his body. She quickly went to work, healing her friends, saving them from death’s door.

After a brief rest, the three split up the dragon’s horde between them. Era found herself in possession of a bag that did no grow heavier, no matter what she put in it. After gathering up their newly acquired goods, including the dragon’s head, the trio rolled the casks of ale to the lift, and took it down to the lower levels. From there they rolled it through the mines, to the crack in the wall from which they had emerged.

After several arduous hours in the dark, the three emerged from the wall in the cellar of The Black Stack Inn, all in hand, to find a sleeping Fella waiting for them. She awoke with a start, and looked upon the companions with disbelief.

“We thought ye were dead!” she said, before calling upstairs, “Dad, they’re back!”

“Do the have the ale?” he answered from upstairs.

“Aye!”

There was much celebrating after that. A tale was told to them about the adventurers with the map they had taken such an interest in. They had managed to actually discover the lost dwarven mine of Dhol Kuldhir, but when they entered, they found the place completely plundered, with the body of a dead, headless dragon in one chamber. It slowly dawned on Merle’s face that the mines they had been skulking through for three days was long-lost Dhol Kuldhir.

Gimnar gladly paid the trio 99 gold pieces, and offered them room and board, free of charge whenever they were in town. Furthermore, after receiving Verolax’s head, Ginmar declared that he would be changing the name of the inn from The Black Stag to The Green Dragon.
The three had survived their first adventured, and came out of it not only richer, but as friends.

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Session 5: A Town Called Keen

After defeating the dragon, Verolax, and rescuing Gimnar Bronzehammer’s ale, the heroic trio of companions had earned themselves a rest. When they awoke the next morning the town was preparing for the Many-Partings festival, and so they decided to familiarize themselves with this place, and its people.
They resupplied at the local general store, where Merle came into possession of a rare ironwood staff. They visited upon the blacksmith, who gawked at the fine craftsmanship of Era’s new sword. They met Lady Niavara, whose overly-dramatic mannerisms made her very memorable among the three. She offered to read their fortunes that very night, of they were willing.

Era met with her contact in Keen, a bookish little gnome named Ozrifathimous Zorastigallion,-or Ozzy for short-and by proxy his curmudgeon of a brother, Krolminite. Ozzy did the best he could to answer as many of Era’s questions as he could. He detailed a means of sending her earth elemental friend back to the Elemental Plane of Earth. He identified her sword as Brightfang, one of the rare Dragon’s Bane swords forged from the shards of the ultimate weapon against dragon-kind; Dragonslayer. He mentioned that it was serendipity that she should happen upon the blade, as it seems her father had ties to The Sundered Scale; a secretive group of dragon slaying knights thought to be extinct.

They met Father Amberstone, at the Church of St. Erio, who gifted Era with some consecrated grave soil (A material needed in the ritual Ozzy detailed for her), and offered to destroy the unholy symbol of Tiamat that Lamaia had claimed from Ssassra in Dhol Kuldhir.

Merle, in his travels around Keen, was approached by Rolo Stonehelm, a local brewer who desired to use Merle’s recent fame to push his ale before the big Best In Brew competition at Many-Partings. It took 21 solid ales, but he managed to get the dwarf monk completely soused, and in a drunken haze, Merle ventured to The Rusty Saw, a dive of a tavern meant for the local sawmill workers, and gambled his night away. By evening’s end, Merle walked away 60 gold pieces richer.

Lamaia was approached by a halfling named Hobbs, who revealed himself to be the head of the local thieves guild. He offered the tiefling a position high in the guild, and offered to allow her to join him on a big score that night. Later in the evening, after sunset, she met the Hobbs by the well in the town square and followed him to a two-story home. Inside, a girl was combing her hair. That was when Hobbs told Lamaia that the comb was rare, of elven make, and comprised of solid silver. The two waited for the family to fall asleep, and scaled the wall up to the second story window. Hobbs “let” Lemaia gain them entry with a quick flock of her pry bar, and soon the two had slinked into the room. Lemaia grabbed the comb, but when she turned around, she saw that Hobbs was approaching the sleeping girl with a dagger in hand. She quickly grabbed his wrist, whispering, “I didn’t sign on for murder.”

“Murder?” Hobbs said, completely taken aback, “Who said anything about murder? I am just collecting a momento.”

With a flick of his wrist, Hobbs freed a lock of hair that he quickly stuffed into his pocket. Once the two returned to the “Guild Hall” (A little room located in back of the local cobbler’s), Lemaia discovered that the “Thieves Guild” consisted of only two members; Hobbs, and herself. What was worse was that Hobbs had never managed to steal anything before. With that new Information, Lemaia negotiated a new cut, one that saw her walking away with 60% of the comb’s worth.

The three rejoined at Lady Niavara’s for their fortune reading. Each sat while she flipped cards from a tarot deck. All seemed rather benign, until after the reading, when Niavara’s eyes rolled in back of her head, and she spoke in a voice not her own.

“The skied will grow black with smoke as the lands burn to ash. The earth will lurch and quake under the coming of the bringer of dread. So it is written, so shall it come to pass.”

And suddenly, she snapped out of it, as if nothing had come to pass. When the ohers tried to explain what had happened, the alchemist simply waved it off and bid them a good night.

The next day, Era set out to climb the Blue Shale mountain in hopes of retrieving the last material needed for her ritual; peek stone. Lamaia was approached by the town sheriff, Conrad Stoke, who insinuated pretty heavily that she may have been involved with a burglary that happened the nigh previous. She of course denied any involvement and went on her way. She then returned to silver comb to its rightful home and decided that today was a good day to be away from town. She ran to join Era on her journey.

Merle, who was recovering from a mighty powerful hangover, decided to get some air, and began a series of transitional stances and controlled breathing he learned at the monastery. Fella, the Innkeeper’s daughter asked him a few questions about it. In an attempt to impress her, he vowed to split a large rock near the stables that had been an annoying obstruction for years.

On his first attempt to sunder the stone, Merle practically broke his hand. After wounding his fist, and his pride, Merle decided to give it another shot. With all he might, he brought his mighty fist down, and split the stone in two. He looked to see if anyone had seen, but his audience had already departed.

The next day, Merle met Lemaia and Era on their way back to town from collecting the peek stone. Era had been pondering something she had overheard a few days prior. Several people had mentioned that the mayor had been conspicuously absent these past few days. With Many-Partings about to begin, the expected him to at least take part in some of the planning, but he has simply hidden himself away in his manor, turning anyone at the door away.

It was decided that Era, Merle and Lamaia would pay the mayor a visit. Once back to town, they made haste to his home. They were met at the door by a short, tired, haggard-looking man. With some quick wit they managed to talk their way in, saying they were sent by Ozzy. Lamaia excused herself to the washroom and took a look around. She soon discovered a small bedroom with a sleeping child manacled to a four-post bed that had been gouged and cut. She immediately returned to the sitting room and confronted the mayor.

Outraged by the invasion of privacy, the mayor demanded the three leave immediately, which lead to the thief drawing steel on the town’s leader. Era quickly diffused the situation, and offered the help of her and her friends.

The mayor revealed that his son, Ben, had been out playing in the woods after sunset a month prior. That was when a massive, wild dog chased the boy up a tree, nipping him in the processes. Three nights ago, the first night of the full moon, the boy transformed into a voracious half-man, half-wolf. If it had not been for a lucky strike with a silver tea platter, the mayor and his wife would surely have been dead.

The three companions put their heads together and realized it was possible to spare the boy the lifelong curse of lycanthropy. They surmised if they brewed a potion of wolfsbane and silver powder, they could stop the boy from transforming again, but they needed to apply this elixir by the end of the full moon cycle… which was that very evening. The three resolved to help the boy, and off they went to the woods, seeking what wolfsbane remained on the cusp of winter’s approach.

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Session 6: Werewolves of Loggers' Hollow

Charged by the Mayor of Keen with saving his son, the three companions immediately ventured into the forest of loggers’ hollow in search of wolfsbane. However, with winter fast approaching, it seemed unlikely that any would be found. Still, they had to try.

With limited daylight left, the three split up to cover more ground. After hours of searching, they happened upon a small patch. Merle harvested the plant, but the frigid autumn air had made it delicate, allowing only a small amount to be plucked. They hopped it was going to be enough. With wolfsbane in hand they turned back to down, the sun setting behind them, and storm clouds moving in from the mountains. Rain began to fall as they made their way through the dark forest with only their lanterns and the occasional flash of lightning to light their way.

It was one such flash that revealed the snarling, slathering muzzle of a well-muscled half-man, half-wolf. It bit and slashed at the companions, fighting with all the ferocity of a wild animal. While the three landed blow after punishing blow on the lycanthrope, the wounds they left healed over at a supernatural rate.

As Merle struck the beast with staff and fist, he remembered a book he’d read as a boy in the monastery, a book about the many types of werewolves. A sinking feeling fell over him as he realized that the only thing that could bring harm to the creature was silver. He announced his findings to the others, and Era reacted quickly, casting a spell that forced the wolf-man to double over in a fit of furious laughter.

Quickly the three bound the beast in all the rope they had. The werewolf thrashed and struggled, but could not break its bonds. The trio carried the great creature back to town, leading it through the Many-Partings revelers, who gawked and cheered.

It wasn’t long before they were met by Sheriff Stoke, who inquired why they had captured what appeared to be a live werewolf, and why they decided to parade it through town. They told the sheriff that their intention was to lock it in one of the jail’s holding cells and wait until sunrise, when the beast would return to its human form. Sheriff Stoke reluctantly agreed and soon they were racing towards the jail.

As soon as the three deposited the wolf into his cage, Merle and Era hurried to the Mayor’s home to begin brewing the potion that would (hopefully) cure young Ben Bran, while Lemaia ventured off to locate the final ingredient from the blacksmith; silver powder. Fortunately the smithy had a good handful on hand. The tiefling rushed to the manor, and with the silver powder added, the cure was set to be administered.

The three crept into Ben’s room. Inside his wolfish form struggled against his manacles. Lemaia ordered Merle to close the beast’s jaws once the potion was administered, and that he did, wrestling with the lycanthrope as it bucked wildly. Soon it began to shake and convulse, foam pouring from his mouth. Moments later, the form of a confused and terrified young boy had taken the place of the violent werewolf. The cure had been a success.

The next morning, at sunrise, the three gathered outside the jail, along side a very grateful mayor. They stepped in only to discover that the werewolf that had attacked them was none other than Grym, the woodsman who taught Lemaia how to care for a kobold egg. He revealed that he had gone into the woods in search of wolfsbane to end his miserable existence. He said that he was loosing control of the monster inside, and with each passing day he desired to give into the bloodlust. He plead with the party to finish the job he’d set out to do, and reluctantly they agreed. Merle was sent to the blacksmith in search of a silver weapon. He returned with a single silver-tipped crossbow bolt. When asked if he had any last words, he simply said, “Last words are for people with too much to say.”

With that, Lemaia ended his life. They took Grym’s body to the outskirts of town, and had him burned on a pyre, so that his ashes would return to the forests he loved. The mayor, who had wondered what manner of heartless beast could have attacked his son, could only mourn the woodsman’s passing.

That evening marked the beginning of the Many-Partings festival. The three companions ate, drank, and feasted for days, leading to the much anticipated “Best In Brew” competition. Rolo Stonehelm was beside himself with joy as the honor of the golden tankard was awarded to him and his Stonehelm Stout.

He had begun his acceptance speech when a wagon pulled into view, with a cloaked driver at the helm. The wagon bore the crest of the Amberstien clam. The crowd cheered and parted as the wagon came to a stop in front of the stage.

“Alright, alright. There’s no need for the theatrics, Amberstien! I already won!” Rolo declared, “Iffin’ ye wanted the tankard this year, ye should’ve put that nag on the road early!”

The rider did not move.

“Oh, I haven’t offended ye. Have I?” Rolo mocked.

An instant later, the walls of the wagon fell to the wayside, revealing a pair of burly orcs and a massive cage containing what looked to be the cruel amalgamation of a bear and an owl. The rider then stood, casting aside his cloak. It was a third orc, brandishing a wicked-looking black axe.

The cage door flew open. The owl bear leaped into the screaming crowd. The attack on Keen had begun.

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Session 7: The Fall of Keen

The Many-Partings festival, once a bittersweet farewell to old friends until the spring, had become a nightmare as a trio of orcs, under the guise of Karakzhar dwarves, had unleashed a ferocious owlbear upon the unsuspecting people of Keen. Festival goers ran for their lives as the monstrosity tore through them with its powerful claws. The orcs, likewise, leaped into the crowd, felling people left and right with their cruel, black axes.

Era and Lemaia distracted the owlbear, making it focus on them, while Merle dealt with the orcs. The owlbear was a vicious opponent, raking its dagger like claws across Lemaia and Era both. Lemeaia’s new hound, too, tried to gain the beast’s attention, but instead only invoked its ire. With one swift swipe it ended the poor dog’s life, and moved on to larger prey.

Merle dismantled one orc, and was working on a second, when Era’s spell of sleep caused the brute to fall into unconsciousness. She had intended to knock out the owlbear, but the beast proved too resilient. She then decided on Plan B; swinging her scimitar at it. With a few well placed blows, she slew the monster. Merle was meanwhile trading blows with the remaining orc. The orc was stronger, by Merle was faster. In the end, the dwarf monk was the better warrior, breaking his enemy’s neck with a powerful blow.

The taste of victory was short lived. Screams pierced the night. Smoke billowed in the distance, with the flicker of firelight dancing upon the blackened plume. Fires had been set. It seemed more orcs had found their way in.

Era and Merle rushed to aid the town militia on the eastern gate while Lemaia, with the aid of Rolo Stonehelm, transported a captured orc to the jail to be questioned later. On the gate, several men and women were firing arrows into the distance as a shielded mass of orcs slammed a battering ram into the gates proper. Era raced to the top of the wall and began firing arrows as Merle pressed his back to the door to keep it from swinging open.

Moments later, Era noticed a lone orc sprinting from the treeline carrying only a lit torch. She fired two arrows, hoping to fell the mad orc, but still he ran, leaping towards the wall with the torch held out. As soon as Era realized what was happening she leaped from the wall, but Merle was unaware until the area exploded into bright light, fire, and splintering wood. Then everything went dark.

When Merle came to, he was laying under an overturned cart with a splitting headache. He crawled from beneath, and was soon met by Era and Lemaia. Era explained that after the explosion, a horde of orcs spilled in, killing everyone in sight. From within the heart of town they could hear the sound of people screaming, and the roar of orcish warriors.

Wounded and shaken, the three companions, reunited, cautiously crept deep into town, avoiding rampaging raiders and fighting only when absolutely necessary. After a time, they came upon Lady Niavara, who was cowering at the feet of scarred and brutal orc, even by orc standards. The companions sped into action, dismantling the seemingly unbreakable opponent.

Now with Lady Niavara in tow, they ventured on, coming to the town square. Large cages had been erected, and townsfolk and visitors alike were being herded into them. Overseeing the scene was a tall orc, clad in dwarven armor, a beautiful pale skinned woman with a black, feathered cloak, and a hooded man with a golden mask, riding atop a black horse with flaming hooves and eyes that glowed like the fires of hell. The man in the golden mask surveyed the crowd, pointed at on person, and they were brought forward. To the shock of the companions, it was Ozzy. The man in the golden mask nodded to the woman in the black feathered cloak. The cloak unfolded into magnificent wings. She wrapped a rope around the defenseless gnome and shot off into the sky, flying somewhere north-east.

The three companions were soon discovered by Fella, who ushered them back to the Green Dragon Inn. Once inside she encouraged them to use the tunnels in the cellar, since the orcs knew nothing of them. Fella was prepared to join them when the orc commander from the town square appeared behind them in the entrance to the inn, demanding they surrender. Fella complied for a moment, but then reached behind the bar and threw a vial of Alchemists’ Fire into the orc’s face. Merle grabbed Fella’s hand and made towards the cellar, but she did not budge. The commander, still aflame, held Fella tightly. With a tug he wrenched her from the monk’s grasp and kicked the dwarf down the cellar stairs, sending a lit lantern behind him as a final parting gift.

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With the stairway engulfed in flames, and the inn following too, the three and Lady Niavara reluctantly left Fella behind, and fled down the tunnel. After a time they arrived in the familiar shafts of Dhol Kuldihr. With most of their belongings scorched, and the town of Keen now in the hands of a small army of rampaging orcs, the three were left to ponder…

What happens now?

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Session 8: Unfamiliar Paths

With Keen in the hands of orcs. The three companions were left to ponder their next step. Would they return to the besieged town and liberate it from the small orc army? Would they seek the help of a nearby town or city, and if so, where?

They decided to consult Era’s map of The Vale. After much deliberation, they decided to venture to the town of Ambleshire to plea for aid. They were cautious about taking the roads, as they may still be heavy with orcs, and instead decided to trek through the foothills of the Blue Shale mountains. Merle led the way, though admitted that he had lost his bearing before regaining it during the second half of the day.

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The three and Lady Niavara, who seemed to be in a silent stupor, made camp for the night. While on watch, Lemaia found herself the victim of an ambush. She awoke Era, who jerked from her slumber with a jolt and a dagger bathed in magical light. It was then that they say their attackers. Five goblins had managed to get the drop on them.

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Lemaia threw herself forward slashing at the most heavily armored goblin with her twin daggers. Era kicked Merle awake who groggily took the scene in. As Era turned back to see how Lemaia was fairing, she saw that the four goblins who had been wielding bows had now drawn wicked looking curved blades. Thinking fast, the bard played a note on her flute that put all five to sleep. Merle gave the air genasi a sidelong glance and asked, “Why’d you even wake me up?”.

The three decided to bind the more armored goblin, as he was no doubt their leader, and dispatched with the left. Finding nothing of value on the others, they decided to question their leader. When he awoke, he realized he was outmatched and in a situation that could easily mean his death, so he complied to the best of his abilities.

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He introduced himself as Bogchamp, a goblin who preyed on the weak to kill and take as many shinies as he could. Thus far he had collected five shinies (Silver pieces), meaning he was probably not a very good bandit.

Era questioned him about the strange winged woman from Keen. Bogchamp recalled seeing someone that fit the description flying through the sky the night before, though due to being woefully ignorant about directions, he could not say for sure where they were heading.

The three talked it over and decided to keep the goblin on retainer until they found the black-winged woman. They even offered to pay him the princely sum of two gold pieces and a copper candy. He asked for the candy up front.

The next morning the companions, Lady Niavara, and Bogchamp the goblin set off into the hills. Again, Merle’s sense of direction was questionable during the first half of the day, but he kept that fact to himself and pressed on. With his bearings regained, they headed due east.

As they day wore on into afternoon, they found themselves overlooking an ancient, fog-shrouded battlefield. Era, ever the inquisitive one, wondered aloud how the fog could be there, as there were no meteorological effects at play that could cause such a fog. The group decided to camp atop a nearby hill.

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The chilly wind whipped over them for most of the night, causing them to shake at winter’s approach. During Lamaia and Merle’s watches, they noticed humanoid shapes moving around in the fog. At first they feared they had been followed, or perhaps they were about to be attacked once again, but it seemed the shapes had no desire to venture past the edge of the fog. Where these ghosts of a war long past?

The next morning, Lemaia and Era decided to investigate the fog more closely. Era took above, while the thief crouched to the ground to get a good look. The ground was littered with the skeletons of dwarves and elves. Anything of real value had either been plundered long ago, or had succumbed to nature, save for one dark green cloak. Lamaia drew it from around the skeleton of a fallen elf, and claimed it as her’s. Era deduced that given the decomposition of other, sturdier gear in the area, the cloak no doubt had some manner of enchantment upon it, though what it could be remained a mystery.

They pressed on through the hills, eventually finding a road around midday. The rest of the day wore on uneventfully. As the sun began to set over the mountains, the group happened upon a wayside in nestled between two hills, charmingly called “The Way Inn”. Relieved to see such a welcomed sight, the group entered the establishment, ate, drank, and enjoyed the comfort of a warm bed for the night.

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The next morning they came down to breakfast. The kindly halfling innkeeper served their food and made some small talk about the emptiness of the inn, and how he expects the crowds returning from Many-Partings to fill it up once again by the end of the night. It was then that the group broke the news of what had befallen Keen.

At first the innkeep thought it was a cruel joke, but when he say the truth in their eyes, he rushed out the front door. Confused, the others followed. They found him outside talking to a few men who were saddling their horses. The innkeep told them of what happened to Keen, and-like the hallfling-they did not believe it at first, but when the others produced a tribal patch and one of the orcs’ sinister black axes, the men were more than convinced. They promised to ride to Ambleshire to warn them and muster as much aid as they could.

With Ambleshire soon to be alerted to the atrocity that befell Keeen, the others were free to travel to the nearby dwarven city of Karakzhar. After resupplying as best they could at the inn, they headed north-east down the road. After a ways, they found themselves standing at a fork, with Karakzhar only a day away to the north. It was there that they offered to release Bogchamp from service, allowing him to travel with them if he chose. The goblin thought about it, and bolted east, far ad away from his former captors.

The companions continued on, finally coming to a small trading village at the base of the mountain of Karakzhar. Despite it being dusk, not a single light shone from any of the windows. They soon discovered that the town was devoid of life and supplies, showing signs of a struggle. They slept in one of the abandoned buildings, keeping a vigil in case whatever caused what happened here decided to return.

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The next morning the companions headed off towards the mountains, traveling up the winding mountain road with as much caution as they could muster, but such rocky paths can be treacherous, and so it was that Era and Lemaia found themselves on the ground, making a great deal of noise. It was then that they heard a sound that made their hearts sink; the sound of two low, rumbling voices speaking orcish.

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Two burly orcs in dwarven armor, wielding black halberds arrived, weapons drawn down upon the bard and the thief, grinning with sadistic glee.

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Session 9 – Dark Heart of the Mountain

After alerting a pair of well armored and armed orcs on the pass to the gates of Karakzhar, Era and Lemaia found themselves at the mercy of their new captors. With halberds poised, the orcs lead the two up the pass, while Merle, who had managed to remain undetected, followed close behind, seeking cover behind rocks and pillars. He continued his pursuit until they arrived a hundred foot-long span that lead the the towering stone gates of the dwarven city.

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One of the many crossbow-wielding sentries noticed the nimble dwarf from his perch high on the mountain, and began raining down shots. The girls were roughly forced past the gate. Merle, with few other options, fled back the way he came, vowing he would find a way in to rescue his friends.

Inside, the bard and the thief tried to press as much information as they could out of their savage subjugators, but they seemed to have little interest in talking. That is, until they mentioned that there were from Keen. The pair of orcs quickly took their captives before their warchief, for he would greatly desire hearing about anyone from Keen.

Meanwhile, Merle found himself hunted upon the mountain pass by dire wolf riders. The snarling beasts caught onto his sent and relentlessly perused him. Merle only found refuge upon a narrow ledge hanging over a sheer drop onto jagged rocks below. While the beasts could sniff him out, they could not see pas the boulder pressed to Merle’s back. The riders beckoned the wolves to continue their hunt on the trails below, and off they padded, leaving the monk to his own devices.

Era and Lemaia were lead through a sprawling dwarven city, built within the mountain, but they saw not a single dwarf. Orcs occupied the city, hanging banners bearing the familiar red claw over a blackened field. Their worst fear had been realized; the same orcs who had taken Keen had also taken Karakzhar, their best hope for liberating the small lumber town. After what seemed like a long march, they found themselves being marched into a palace and thrown before a throne, but no dwarven Thane sat here. Instead was the fearsome sight of the orcs’ warchief; Korrog, the Red Death.

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A titanic orc, standing nearly eight feet tall, with shoulders half as broad. His skin did not posses the same pallet of greens and grays as his kin, but instead it was blood red. Scales like ruby adorned his neck, face, and head, and two jagged horns swept from his furrowed brow to the back of his skull, giving him a strangely reptilian appearance. He arose from his throne, bedecked in fine dwarven plate mail, and with a low, rumbling voice, demanded the girls explained themselves.

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Outside Karakzhar, a lone dwarf was contemplating his next move. He had returned to the bridge he’d seen Era and Lamaia cross, but it was flat, wide, and with no cover whatsoever. He would be a sitting duck for the sentries. Then he reasoned, if he could not go over the bridge, he would go under it. Balancing himself precariously upon steep, sloping rocks, he managed to find purchase on the underside of the bridge. Summoning every ounce of strength and fortitude he could muster after years if training his body in the mountain monastery, Merle swung from beam to beam until he had navigated across the hundred-foot span. The sound of the returning wolf riders greeted him, as he peeked from his hiding place. A quick as lightning and as quiet as a shadow, the monk stepped into line behind them, and then, having avoided attention, crept into the city in search of his comrades.

Era and Lamaia, shrinking in the presence of Korrog, quickly told their story as survivors of Keen. Displeased, the warchief sent for his witch doctor. A hunched orc, wearing a strange wood mask soon arrived, with two orcs bearing massive a stone water basin. The shaman shook some bones that had hung on a necklace around his neck, croaked a few intelligible words, and suddenly an image appeared in the water’s reflection. It was not Korrog starring back, but rather the orcish commander that had snatched Fella from Merle’s hand back at the Green Dragon Inn, and set the whole place ablaze. He looked rather surprised to be receiving word from the warchief, but gave a full report on the situation in Keen.

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Korrog asked about survivors, to which the commander assured him that anyone who fought against them were slain, and all others were captured. Displeased, Korrog had Era and Lamaia marched before the basin. The commander’s face became pale as he attempted to explain that their survival was impossible. The warchief had heard enough. He demanded the commander pay tribute in penance for failure, A moment later, the commander produced a dagger, which he plunged into his own eye, cutting it free. The commander held his dangling eye for his warchief to see, followed by the vow, “I will not fail you again, father.”

With that, Korrog dismissed his son, and returned his attention not to Era and Lamaia, but to the two guards that had brought them before him, and chastised them for not stripping enemies of their weapons and belongings before bringing them before their warchief. The two orcs nervously glanced at one another and apologized. Lamaia, seeing an opportunity, hoped her silver tongue would save her. She stated that they had come here in hopes of forming an alliance with the Red Claw orcs and their fearsome leader. Amused, Korrog sat upon the throne, and bid his guards to show their new allies to their quarters. Outside the throne room, Lamaia was beaten into unconsciousness and the two companions were stripped of all belongings, save for the clothes on their back.

They were taken to a dark, dank dungeon and thrown into a cold cell. They soon discovered they were not alone. A host of around a dozen dwarves stepped from the darkness. One gizzled, silver bearded dwarf with a hammer and anvil scarred into his chest introduced himself as Bouldin Shieldforge. He approached, laying a hand upon the unconscious tiefling while touching the symbol upon his chest. After saying a prayer, Lamaia awoke, the swelling in her cheek faded, and the pain of her beating almost entirely gone. They revealed to the girls that they called this city home two months ago, but one night the orcs crept in through the tunnels, from a secret passage, and caught the city guard by surprise. Before they could even take up arms, the orcs had taken the city, and subjugated the population to toil away in the mines below.

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They then revealed that they had a plan to turn the tides on their captors. They managed to send messages to other groups, and coordinated an effort to tunnel their way up, through the mines, into the sewer system. Once there, they planned to retake their armory, then the city. The final stage of the plan, they told Era and Lamaia, would be taking place the next morning. Hopeful, the girls and their new dwarven companions slept and uneasy sleep.

The next day they were startled from their sleep by shouting orcs. Each of the prisoners were shackled around the ankle and lead to an elevator. Once everyone was uncomfortably crammed in, the lift descended into the darkness of the mine. After a short time, they found themselves looking at another group of about a dozen dwarves, also shackled, but they were kneeling. Five burly orcs and a taskmaster eyed the newcomers. They informed Bouldin and the rest that their escape plan had been exposed, and demanded to know who the ringleader was. When no one stepped forward, one of the kneeling dwarves was beheaded, and the taskmaster posed the question again.

Merle had spent the better part of the night avoiding patrols, sticking to back allies, and slinking his way through the maze-like city of Karakzhar. Finally, it seemed, he had happened upon what he was looking for. Two guards stood outside of what looked to be a locked door of iron bars. Throwing caution to the wind, the dwarf sprang into action, taking the fight directly to the orcs. They attempted to hold their own against the monk, but his ki was stronger than the will orcs, and they soon fell to huis stone-like fists. Snatching the keys from one of the slain guards, he unlocked the door, and slipped inside.

Meanwhile, back in the mines, Bouldin stepped forward and stated that he was the mastermind. As the taskmaster approached, Bouldin commanded him to be still, and so he was. Quickly, the dwarf snatched the keys from the taskmaster’s belt, unlocked his shackle, and gave the key to Lamaia. The other orcs attempted to land heavy blows upon the silver-bearded dwarf, but they stopped in mid swing, as if they did not posses the will to follow through.

The thief quickly unlocked herself, and drew one of the orcs’ daggers, slashing violently at him. Era too freed herself, and whistled a note that placed one orc into a deep slumber. Now in disarray, the remaining orcs did the best they could, but between Era and Lamaia’s battle prowess, Bouldin’s healing magic, and the arrival of Merle to the fray, the orcs quickly fell, one after another.

With the captors slain, Merle, Era, Lamaia and the dwarves stripped the bodies of weapons, armor, and anything else that would aid them in their escape. They reentered the lift, returned to the levels above. Any sign of orcss was quickly dealt with by the nearly 20 dwarves and the three companions. They silently stalked their way to the forge-the fastest way to access the city armory-and made a sickening discovery. Orcs were working the bellows and the forges, and burning bright were not the brilliant flames of clean fire, but the wretched green glow of hellfire.

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Bouldin explained that the orcs had been brandishing weapons forged of a black steel, much like the ones the companions witnessed in Keen, and like the one hanging off of Merle’s belt. The process of creating these infernal weapons was called hellforging. The blades were corrupt and carried with them a corrupting touch that tainted any soul it severed and sent it directly to the nine hells. Now it seemed as if the orcs were mass producing these horrifying weapons.

Era moved up ahead, and with a wild gesture, crated a thunderous blast that sent two orcs sailing into the flames, and startled the rest. A moment later though, the orcs ceased to be a major concern. The flames of the furnaces roared and funneled outward, onto the floor, coalescing into a humanoid shape.This Hellfire Elemental swung its blistering fist at Era, who quickly dove out of the way. Merle and Lamaia soon joined the fight, as the towering, living inferno swung its putrid, fiery fists. The dwarves managed to chip away the stone walls of the many cooling vats around the shop, flooding the floor and dousing the creature forever.

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The companions and their dwarven comrades ventured on, easily overcoming the few guards that were stationed at the armory. With the weapons and armor of the city now back in dwarven hands, they could now plan their next move.

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