Tempest Rising

Shifting Luck
Or -- Another 'Rocky' remake

Adamante_Dwarf_Hero.jpgFollowing their battle with the forgefiend, out heroes explored the wreckage of its exploded form. They found no source of its animation, but determined that its twisted blades were made of adamantium and carved with evil runes. Separating them from the body, they moved on.

They traveled for several hours in the passages of the hall, and as they came to more populated areas began to attract attention from those around.

Corbel told them that it would be very late by the time they got to the Hall proper, and the group decided it would be best not to give their enemies time to prepare. So they pushed on.

When they reached the central galleries of Gilt Hall, a crowd was awaiting them. The stone lord Vanha met them, and explained that they would be able to meet with the Hallitae-rhim immediately. Ushered into the chamber, Corbel made a show of dumping the severed giant head before the leaders and demanded the dwarves return to the south gate and protect their entire realm.

The leaders muttered among themselves, and then told the group that they had merely done the task that was appointed them, and that they had already been compensated for their troubles.

Then the stone lord interrupted, and said as champion defenders of the Gilt Hall dwarves, the group had the right to have their proposal measured by the gods. The rulers reluctantly agreed, and gave them one hour to prepare.

Confused, our heroes asked how exactly the god were going to take the measure of their proposal. Vanha told them that it was trial by combat with the gods’ vessel in a sacred ring. He was not allowed to say much more about it. Luckily, Kallius finally figured out the secret of the golden dragon statue, and it explained that the vessel was a stone automaton with power to generate spikes from any stone. The ring was surrounded by a barrier that blocked all spells, and only one divine blessing would be allowed.

They chose Luix as their champion, and worked to maximize his potential for success. They armed him with the adamantine daggers, which they enchanted. They collected what potions they had and loaded him down. To protect him from rising stone spikes, Celeste gave him her potion of flight.

An hour quickly passed, and they were led to the ring — a large sand circle with three pillars representing the main divine protectors of the Gilt Hall dwarves. It rose above a second ring also divided into three, one filled with sharp stones, one with swirling water, and the third with burning coals. In the center stood a massive stone statue of a dwarf covered in spiky armor. A narrow bridge was set across the gap between the crowded gallery and the pit.

Luix stepped over, and immediately took the flying potion. The statue launched at him, swinging its massive fists. The fighter drank a second potion as the creature closed.

It lashed out and struck him powerfully at the end of its charge. He tried to attack back, but some power was turning his blows and throwing off his aim. This was noted by his comrades, who looked about to see what was causing this effect.

Luix flew from the guardian’s reach, and pleaded for the help of the dwarven gods at their pillars. This fell on deaf ears, but as the creature closed and grabbed at him again, he heard tinny giggling in the empty air. He shouted this to his allies, and hoped they expose the cheat.

Meanwhile, Kallius was moving through the crowd looking for anything that stood out. He laid eyes on a serious-faced ashy dwarf that was looking about the arena and not directly at the fight. Then, he realized that the creature was in fact a dredger, and called to the ranger.

As he did so, a dwarf from the nearest rank jumped up to attack him. Deciding that this man was probably being controlled, Saerin ignored his charge and fired his bow at the duergar.
Even as this was playing out, Corbel had excavated a chunk of the area to create dust and gravel, and Celeste summoned an air elemental. She instructed the outsider to swallow up the dust and scatter it over Luix, the guardian, and the mysterious giggler.

When it did, Luix became aware of a small winged shape hovering near the pillar. Ignoring the blows of the guardian, he swung the adamantine dagger at the invisible interloper, overcoming unlike, dust and invisibility, to land a mighty blow. The tiny creature was smashed to the ground, and the crowd was stunned by the sudden appearance of another creature in the arena.

Forging ahead
Or-- Do you smell what the rock is cooking?

Forgefiend.jpgOur heroes continued to explore the giants’ caves, making sure that no enemies remained behind to threaten them. Saerin, using the climbing ring liberated the cave giant leader, made his way up the cavern wall and found a stash of supplies that previous dwarven defenders left behind.

He also climbed to the perch where the behir-monster had fled through. Bringing the others up behind, they found a sheltered vale littered with seeded skin and a vast collection of goat and lizard carcasses. Taking a sample of the behir scales, they returned to the caves.

There, the dwarf Corbel told them that she needed to return to Gilt Hall to demand her people shake off their isolation and defend their southern gates. The group decided to join her and please her case, as well as gain materials and perhaps information about awaited them in the vale below.

They pried up the bar they left on the gate and sealed it behind them. Searching the entry, Saerin found more dwarven tracks than simply Corbel could have made, but could not discern what they had done there. So they continued on.

They made their way through the mountain, slowly returning to the worked passage. They were moving down a wide columned passage when a fiery glow appeared out the darkness.

A massive iron figure, like a furnace with legs and long curved blades on the end of its arms blocked the tunnel ahead. Saerin, followed by those behind, moved to cover behind a stone column. With a wave, the creature made the column dissolve into a pool of liquid stone, solidifying around the ranger’s legs. He barely leaped to safety before it closed around him.

With another wave, the iron juggernaut turned Kallius to stone. Luckily, Luix had a potion of stone salve, and he tossed to the priests before facing the enemy.

He and Luix charged, and Dremahl created two giant spiders to join the fight. As they closed, the creature spewed molten metal from its fiery torso, burning the spiders and gravely wounding the big northerner.

Kallius hasted the warriors, and they rained blows on the creature. Corbel enlarged Luix, and his massive flail crashed down over and over.

Its thick iron hide deflected many blows, but in the end it could withstand the combined attacks off the entire group. In the end, it exploded into a heap of pig iron, sending a rain of molten metal onto the combatants.

They determined that the curved blades that passed for its hands were symbols of Mephitas (known as Vietella to the dwarves), and that someone wanted to ensure no one returned from the south gate.

This made them more determined than ever to rouse the dwarves from their isolation.

Lightning round
Or-- Speaking with forked tongues

white-lightning-breath-dragon.jpgAfter resting the remainder of the night and restoring their magical energies, our heroes returned to the giants’ caves.

Boomah led the way, and was quickly back in the orcs’ lair. He stealthily creeped across to the rift in the middle of room, but was suddenly startled by a booming voice in the darkness above.

The voice stated that the goblin was not the one to kill, and demanded he bring him “the one that smelled pf the beast”. Boomah rushed back to party waiting in the entry passage, and asked for volunteers.

Kallius was ‘chosen’ to return, and the two marched back to the cavern. The voice in the shadows was pleased by Boomah’s choice, and offered him a chance to escape before it destroyed the elf. He stood by his comrade’s side, and the two were engulfed by a bolt of lightning from a cave high on the cavern wall.

Kallius turned invisible, and Boomah rocketed back to the entry. Once again the beast engulfed the area where the magus stood in lightning, but its effected was minimized by magical protections and the magus’ own skill.

The huge multi-legged, winged monstrosity pounced down to the cavern floor, swearing to the return the abomination (Kallius) back to the ground. It raged, claiming that his kind had been banished form this land.

Luix, Saerin, and the others rushed to defend the elf, suffering blows as they fought through its extended reach. The beast, now lit by fires and and its own crackling electric aura, was covered by rising boils and popping sores. Its many legs seemed grafted onto a body that was rejecting them even as it grew new ones.

It howled at the warriors that its master had forbidden it from killing them all, and that it was only going to destroy the tainted ones.

Once they closed, the warriors handed out severe punishment, while the healers worked to keep them standing.

Slashed by several blows, the beast lashed out with wings, tail and its many legs to clear a space, and took flight. Our heroes exhausted every avenue of attack as it fled, but stood helps as it slipped through the opening and back into the darkness.

With the creature gone, our heroes scouted out the remaining caves. They found the giants’ lair, and a pen of goats kept to appease the creature. They even found enchanted stone charms exactly like the ones discovered in the troglodytes’ cave. But nothing else rose up to threaten them.

The bigger they are...
Or-- Another victory for the firehoses of healing

10930151_10152985861047530_783066020997476016_n.jpgOur heroes chose to fall back to the gate of Gilt Hall to maximize their defensive position and rest. The afternoon was spent keeping an eye out on the horizon, and allowing the arcane casters to sleep. Other than a pounding rainstorm in late afternoon, the day past without incident.

Night fell, and Kallius, Corbel and Boomah still slept. The large dark shape was seen again at sunset, winging toward the south, and soon the group picked up noises from across the Nuran dam.

Everyone was roused and the wizards quickly began to prepare what spells they could. Roughly 20 minutes later the sounds of crashing brush could be heard clearly from across the gap. The they head the satisfying snap and tumbling, as the rope bridge they had rigged earlier gave way under weight.

This gave them little respite, for soon a harnessed lizard trailer by two orcs appeared on the dam. They were followed by a trio of giants, barely visible in the gloom.

Arrows flew, and the angry lizard snapped its bonds and charged. It got swarmed, bull-rushed by an elemental, and plummeted from the parapet after getting stabbed by the ranger.

Then the giants were coming, tossing rocks as they made their way across the dam. The casters had not finished preparations, but battle does not wait.

Soon Luix, Dremahl and Kallius were faced off against three massive tusked giants at the base of the Hall’s landing. The giant in the rear lagged back and heaved spells at the group, while the front two smashed down with oar-sized battle axes. Boomah sent fire after the leader, and it was absorbed by a familiar looking red gem worn around the giant’s neck.

The power of Methys and Nox were once again taxed to keep the warriors alive, as the broken dam soon became slick with blood. The dwarf tried to topple the leader by crumbling the stones beneath him, but only ended up leaving him and the big northerner falling in a heap.

Boomah tossed a bead of force that sent shock waves out, and caught one of the orcs within its glowing sphere. One by one, the thunderous beasts fell to our heroes blows.

Orcs < Ogres < What the heck is that?!?
Or-- Too Big to Flail

Monster_orc_invasion_large.jpgThe melee resumed as if there was never a pause. The small elementals aided Kallius in his struggle against the snipers, while Luix bore the brunt of the front rank of orc warriors and with their ogre captain.

But as quickly as they slashed at him, Celeste and Dremahl would heal the big northerner, so the battle continued in a gruesome equilibrium.

Saerin and Corbel fought off a small group at the side. Boomah heard the snapping of timbers from the cave mouth above them, and soon two huge rock lizards tumbled out of the passage and into the fray. The dwarf breathed a grout of flame at them, and the goblin joined in with his own. The elf slashed out with his blade at the burning enemies.

One by one, enemies fell to Luix’s gigantic flail. Once their leader toppled, the others were quick to follow. Kallius enchanted his blade with lightning, and protected by his illusory duplicates, made headway of his own. Soon he has alone at the edge of the underground brook.

The orcs and lizards were struck down as well, and our heroes stood, bloodied but victorious. Boomah found one staggered orc and demanded to know if there were more. The dying creature told him that the young ones would still protect their land, and at that even the ogres took orders from the huge ones that lived up the watery passage. In return for this information, Boomah freed the creatures spirit. Repeatedly, with his dagger.

Creeping to the edge the cliff that split the large chamber, Boomah noted that the fire had been completely put out. He also drew the fire of a handful of crossbows, whose bolts sailed harmlessly over his head.

blotig.jpgTurning back to the lizard tunnel, the goblin crept up the winding passage. Soon he found himself in a large natural chamber that stank of lizards. Not hearing anything, he tossed his torch in to light the room. This drew the attention of something large, which came to investigate. Boomah crouched in the shadows as a nearly 12-foot-tall hunched creature with massive elephantine tusks moved into the torchlight.

Bravely returning to warn his friends, Boomah fled. The group quickly decided to quit the cave in search of safer spot to rest. Boomah returned to try and retrieve a crossbow, but found three of the massive humanoids splashing through the brook into the cave. Once again, he took the better part of valor.

Once they were outside, they looked for high ground to rest on. They climbed up a couple rises before they heard voices coming from the cleft in the highest peak. They reduced Boomah, and he hitched a ride on an air elemental to spy out what was up there. He spotted a huge blue beast with scaly wings and more than a dozen pair of legs seemingly shouting into a cleft in the stone. Giant voices came out of the dark in aggressive tones. The elemental service is brief, so the two quickly returned to the group to report.

Hearing that, they decided not to camp in the open. The final decision was to return to the ogre dugout on the edge of the dam, and to fall back to Gilt Hall if necessary.

Ogres Under
Or -- Let Sleeping Orcs Lie

400px-Old_Horde_full.jpgLeaving his comrades guarding the cave entrance, Boomah rushed back to the group and quickly rousted them into action. They managed to climb the hill and join up with Saerin,

Dremahl, and Corbel before any creatures inside became aware of the presence.
Reunited, they moved deeper into the cave. Boomah took the lead, and Saerin followed one turn behind, with the rest a corner behind that. The goblin quickly came upon a large open cavern that extended beyond his dark vision, and could hear running water and the nostalgia sounds of a sleeping pod.

Creeping forward with the ranger in reserve, he came to a sudden drop that split the cavern. Beyond the ridge, he could make out the shapes of sleeping orcs in the light of a dying fire. He also noticed an opening in the back cavern wall with piled hay beneath it, as if to catch a fall. He called over Luix to lift him into the gap.

Unfortunately they were overheard, and an ogre’s head appeared over the ridge. The massive humanoid hollered at them to be quiet, and Boomah answered in the orc language that they were going back to guard the entrance. The ogre did not seem to like the underling’s tone, and climbed up to instill a little discipline. The two fled the cavern, but the goblin kept up the insolence.
At first the beast stopped at the cavern’s edge, but soon rose to the bait of the cheeky ‘guardsman’. When he came into the passage to clobber the loudmouth, he found himself suddenly face-to-face with the ranger and the big northerner. They weapons flashed and dug into the creature, and Kallius stepped up to deliver an electrified rapier slash that sent the monster to the floor.

Realizing the time for stealth might have ended, the group moved back toward the cavern. Boomah quickly saw that another ogre was present, and that he had roused the orcs to defense. The tried again to bait them into action, but this ogre seemed to be holding them check.
Saerin and Kallius stepped into the opening with bows drawn, hoping to incite a charge. Their brows struck one of the orcs who were hunkered down in cover around the entrance, but set off a volley of crossbow fire from the dark. They pulled back, and the two groups were at an impasse.

Concerned, that they might be outflanked by other enemies, our heroes need to break the stalemate. Kallius decided that he would sneak past the first group invisibly, and attack the hidden crossbowmen protected by mirror images. Celeste and Corbel would summon earth elementals to burrow past and toward them as well, and signal the attack.

The magus creeped quietly past the first defenders until he stood invisibly before a half-dozen orcish crossbowmen prone on the floor. The two small elementals burst up from the floor, but failed to land a blow. Kallius let loose a burning hands and appeared before them with six duplicates.

The others rushed from the passage meet the defenders. Luix had been enlarged by the dwarven mage and stood eye-to-eye with the massive ogre. Orcs rushed around to close on the attackers, and our heroes were quickly pressed. Luix was deeply gouged by an ogre hook, and pinioned by a javelin, and only the quick ministrations of the priests kept him upright.

Boomah tossed his last bomb and Corbel swung her spiked chain as the orcs swarmed about them. Kallius unleashed a second burning hands at the bowmen, and left half of them scorched on the ground. The orcs had so far only struck his illusory doubles, and now it even seemed as if he outnumbered them.

With the clash of steel and scent of blood thick in the air, the curtain dropped. Leaving the fate of our heroes to be determined at a later date.

Or-- Stealth Boomahs

4e_dnd_orcs_by_ralphhorsley.jpgFollowing the battle on the edge of the dam, many of the companions felt spent. So it was decided the a few of our heroes would creep forward to see what other dangers might lie ahead.

Boomah, Dremahl, Saerin and the dwarf Corbel were chosen to scout. They quickly learned that the tracks of ogres, lizards and smaller creatures were plentiful on a side path climbing a rocky peak nearby.

The quartet followed an obvious garbage-strewn path up toward the steep outcrop. Beyond the immediate rise was a second peak, violently split in two. Boomah thought that the shadow he saw last night on watch came out from behind this peak.

As the climbed, they noticed that the landscape had been subtlety altered to allow overlooks and ambush points down on the path. Luckily nothing was taking advantage of them — and it was obviously not ogre work.

Climbing up on one of these high points gave them a direct eyeline back to the gate of Gilt Hall, and up to a ‘natural’ crack in the hillside. The also got a look at the marshy high ground that was once Loch Nura and the the narrow valleys running below. Boomah even spotted another opening on the valley floor that seemed to have been cleared of underbrush.

Dauntless, they moved to check out the opening in the hillside. As they approached, the ranger spotted heavy hides hanging inside the darkened entrance. Inching closer, he saw them ruffle as if from a wind. He continued to approach and two black spears shot of the darkened opening, one striking home.

Boomah followed close behind and lobbed a fiery bomb at the two crouching figures he spotted with darkvision. The flames revealed two large dark orcs and a stack of nearby spears. Two more came out from behind the hide curtain and rained spears at the two. A violent horn blast centered on Saerin from nowhere, pounding his eardrums.

Corbel the dwarf cast Stone Call and filled the entry with flying stones— hampered their motion. One orc defied the others and charged out into the sunlight, leaping on a rock and bellowing a challenge to the ranger. Facing his ancient enemy, the elf saw fear and stepped back.

Dremahl was standing by, and struck the orc with a hold person. Saerin overcame his fears and slammed the beast twice with his great sword — toppling him.

Corbel followed with Grease, further slowing any escape from their foes. Boomah took advantage of the grease and set it ablaze with more bombs. Our heroes stepped up to the entry and faced the remaining orcs. Boomah felt a strange compulsion to strike the unsuspecting dwarf, but he fought off the urge for now.

The ranger soon felt at home slaying his ancient enemies, and the burned, stone-pounded, greased orcs could not overcome the invaders.

Boomah saw a figure that had been lurking in the rear move to escape, and lit her up with a bomb. She fled, but could not match his alchemically-enhanced speed. He found the orc around a bend in the cave passage, preparing to cast. He tossed another bomb before she could recite her spell, and he collapsed in a fiery heap.

The group gathered in the entry, and decided to hold this area and bring up the others. Boomah set off on quickened feet to gather the remainder of the group before whatever lives further in these caves realizes what has happened and mounts a defense.

Dam Ogres
Or-- Really should've been trolls

forest_ogre_by_guzboroda-d4mj5xj.jpgOn the ledge overlooking the shattered dam, our heroes hunkered down for the night. They took this opportunity to review some the items they had gathered on their journeys, and distribute them among themselves.

In the middle of the night watch, a dark shadow crossed the waning moon. Boomah was awake, but only caught a winged ‘living’ shape drop into the vale. He woke the elves, but no motion followed this first vision. People went back to sleep, and Saerin spotted a flying shadow as morning approached as well.

As the sun began to climb, the group set out across the dam. About halfway across, they had to pick their way across the broken rubble. So they tied a rope to one another and clambered over the rocks. Further on, they came to a rough rope bridge with some kind of banner mounted on the far landing. As they started to move, an ogre came out from the rubble and challenged them.

When our heroes refused to pay the toll, the ogre launched spears at them. He was quickly joined by another. Luix charged the pair, and was rapidly downed by the brutes’ mighty blows. Dremahl followed close behind and brought the big northerner back from the brink.
Boomah crossed as well, and lobbed bombs at the ogres. Luix struck out from the ground, and brought one down. Another —even larger — ogre appeared atop a large rock and fired his crossbow at the goblin.

Kallius and Saerin moved across, and the magus went invisible to avoid the crushing blows. Unfortunately, the group did not know where he was when Corbel caused the stone of the landing to rise up violently, and was buffeted by the dwarf’s attack. Saerin dropped his bow and moved into the melee, sword in hand.

The ogre captain moved into hand-to-hand as well, hampered by bombs, vomited swarms, and all the aid the spell casters could give the warriors. Boomah even spit a stick mass at one the of ogres in an attempt to slow it down.

In the midst of this battle, a large rock lizard scuttled up the side of the dam and jumped into the fray. Many blows were traded, and the divine power of the two priests was taxed, but in the end the ogres were felled and our heroes triumphed.
They found a trail leading toward a nearby stony outcrop, as well as the fading dwarven road leading south. They also came across a crude enclosure where the ogres had camped, and what little ‘treasure’ these hulks had collected.

Worms, wards, and what lies beyond...
Or-- Back door men

ant_queen.jpgFresh from dispatching the ankheg queen, our heroes discussed possible uses for their heads. Boomah suggested that they were delicious, but in the end they decided to leave the carapaces behind and look for treasure elsewhere.

Then they turned on their dwarven guide Corbel. They demanded to know why she did not aid in the combat, and if this was how she was going to continue to act. She told them that she had been ordered to ‘observe’ the party, to gauge their strength and determine whether or not there was any credence to the wild claims they had made before the Hallitae-rihm. She added that she thought the group handled themselves admirably, and perhaps were ‘heroes’ after all. Celeste told her that may not all be heroes, but the job held a better life expectancy than her career with the Wychtport Serachle.

They retold their tale, and she told them that the Faelit Vale has always been known for ancient magic, and strange creatures not seen elsewhere. This may indeed be where the wizard they were chasing has gone.

They widened their search for treasure, and the goblin alchemist even extracted acid from the beasts themselves. Peering into the gap left by the appearance of the ankheg queen, they saw something shine in the chamber beyond. Corbel launched her chain across, anchored by a tiny beetle-shaped earth elemental. The beetle dug in, as did the dwarf, to create a way across the water than ran along the passage. Luix, Saerin, Celeste and Boomah shimmied across, and Boomah looked into a chamber beyond with his torch. He saw that that far wall was covered with ankheg eggs — a goblin delicacy — secured by some sticky goo.

He lobbed a flask of oil at the clutch, and it dribbled down the wall of eggs, sending their contents into motion. Celeste followed with oil of her own, and when it shattered against the egg clutch, the securing mucus gave way. This sent hundreds of eggs down the wall and into the small chamber, bursting open and sending small ankheg larvae at the party.

They tried to back away from the writhing swarm, as its tiny teeth and acidic ooze burned about their feet. Celeste lit the oil, and Boomah followed with a fiery bomb, but the mass kept moving toward them. As they scurried across the chain, Corbel exploded the rock wall of the chamber, but it still did not stop the advance.

It toured out of the chamber and across the body of its queen as the group continued to pull back. Kallius stepped up and sent more fire at it, and even Dremahl tried to crush the larvae with his mace. When Kallius cast burning hands a second time, the swarm abated, with the remaining larvae dropping into the waters below. Only a few were scooped by the goblin for later use.

Searching about, the decided that this was simply a birthing chamber for the ankhegs and not the creatures’ nest. So they continued on.

After hours more of marching, they came to a magnificent entry hall of the dwarves. it was flanked by statues and dominated by a large double door wide enough enough for the largest caravan cart. The door itself was barred, and runes warned of danger to anyone who forced the passage without permission of the dwarves.

They asked Corbel if she could get them past, and she said no. The rulers of the dwarves had not given her the words of passage, as he never really expected them to get this for. Nor was he that interested in their success. She tried the passwords she did know, to no avail.

She warned them that the doorway was certainly trapped in both magical and mechanical means. To test this, Dremahl summoned a celestial pony to charge the door. When it made contact, a huge guts of air came up and sent the pony to the ceiling, and dropped it the floor. As if that were not enough, the floor opened into a huge pit filled with a noxious gas.

Two minutes later the floor reset, and Celeste sent more summoned ponies toward it. They were electrocuted by magical runes, before being dropped into the pits. Again, they waited and summoned two more ponies. These were merely magically put to sleep before being dropped into the pits.

Noting a lessening in lethality, this time they summoned a giant ant, boosted it with bulls’ strength, and sent it toward the door. No runes exploded, and it managed to climb itself out of the pits quickly. It did not take long for the creature to lift the bar, but it still could not force the door open before it vanished.

Investigating, Dremahl determined that the door was arcane locked, and successfully dispelled it. From there, the ranger could disable the physical locking method and the gigantic doors sighed, ready to open smoothly.

stonewrought_dam_by_mullinsthegreat-d30zzu9.pngBefore exiting, they asked the dwarf what she knew about what was beyond and what happened. She explained that the Gilt Hall dwarves were very supportive of the humans at the beginning of the lats war. And when the invaders turned on them and marched up the Faelit Vale, the humans came to their aid. There was a pitched battle in the valley below the dam, and it did not go well for the defenders. When it became obvious that the invader would overrun the humans and dwarves and take the dam, Meera (wife of Hallita Jotahj and niece of Stonelord Vanha) commanded that the dam be blown up and the water released. This wiped out all the troops in the field —human, dwarf, and invader alike — and wreaked havoc on the forests below. Jotahj was so upset by the loss of his wife that he sealed the south gate and it has not been opened until now.

They sent the goblin out into the opening to explore. Twilight was descending on the mountain valley, but he could see that this was a walled platform directly above the broken dam. The empty bowl of Loch Nura sprawled off to the east, with rivulets of summer runoff meandering through. To the west lay a series of narrow valleys filled with broken vegetation and strange evening mists.

WSban.jpgDirectly across the dam, past two gaps and one roughly-built bridge, stood a red banner flaked by two curved posts. He could not make out details, but the lens of seeing showed him that some large living creatures were in a rubble lean-to beyond.

They held the dwarven gate open slightly with the bar, and decided to stay put until morning. They were keeping double watches and weapons handy, hoping for rest but preparing for the worst.

Gilt Trip
Or -- Meet the beetles

caio-monteiro-the-ankheg-queen-caio-monteiro.jpgAfter a brief discussion, our heroes accepted the Lord Mayor Bikkel’s ‘kind offer’ of having his man copy the plans of the mining machine, with the full knowledge that spreading this info will seriously alter both mining and siege warfare in the future.

While they waited, they made full use of his hospitality and got some much needed rest after their long night’s work.

Afterward, they returned to the dwarven enclave of Gilt Hall. Celeste maneuvered their way through the outer guards and to the desk warden of Rakken-Taija. They plead their case, and Celeste offered the nervous attendant Ragnil a tonic for his weariness — which he eagerly accepted.

He passed them on to the Hallitae-rhim council, who agreed to restore the goblin in exchange for the plans to the machine.

They also warned the dwarves about the troglodytes, undead dragons, and threats to their land. The dwarven leader Jotahj told them that what they claimed was impossible, dragons could not mingle their blood with anything. He did agree to let them go through Gilt Hall to south gate to try and follow the wizard Menso. However, he required them to clear out a menace that has taken up residence on the far side of the broken dam out said south gate. Finally, they were to wait until the auspicious pre-dawn hour for the priests of the forge-breather to fix Boomah and bless this undertaking.

They were escorted to chambers on the edge of the ridge. Concerned and not that tired, the kept double watch. Around midnight, they heard a loud thud on the balcony. Leaping up, they found an old heavily-armored dwarf who seemed to half-stone.

His name was Vanha, and he had come to warn them that they had been lied to. The ‘true’ translation of the lore books says that dragon blood “must not mingle” rather than “can not mingle.” He added that there were legends of a gold-dragon-blooded dwarf hero from the old world.

The old dwarf told them that his niece was the wife of Jotahj, and it was her idea to destroy the dam and flood the invaders. He, too, was there, and that he was crushed almost to death.

He went on, saying that the vale beyond is steeped in ancient magic, but few have ventured through it since the dam was broken. He also warned that the dwarves had not been maintaining their own domain since that day, and areas had fallen into disrepair. He agreed to send his ward Corbel along with them.

The next morning they set off before dawn. They traveled most of a day as the passages became less well cared for. Large areas of unworked stone, and even collapsed dirt began appearing.

A sour smell began creeping up, causing them to speculate what might be causing it. Suddenly, the ground gave way before Saerin and two insects the size of ponies boiled out — slashing with long mandibles dripping with acid. Another burst up at the other end of the group attacking the magus.

As our heroes started fighting their way through the giant insects, another opening appeared across a narrow gorge that paralleled the path. A huge bloated ankheg was beyond, and it spit a line of acid down the length of the group. Boomah tossed bombs at it, and Celeste sent an air elemental to attack, but the monstrous insect proved resilient. It spit again and the crawled across the gap to sink it claws into the ranger.

Two more of the smaller ankhegs scurried out of the gap and dropped from the ceiling onto the party. Large as they were, they could not stand before the blows of our heroes. Even the queen eventually succumbed to their attacks and collapsed into the rocky floor of the passage.

The air thick with the smell of blood and acid, our heroes stopped to take stock of their situation.


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