Die in Battle, Do Us Proud

Sessions 16-19: The Old Miner

The adventurers are hired by Oglevee the Learned to investigate a map that he discovered while cleaning out old files at the House of Questions. They headed out there and discovered an ancient dwarf temple to the demon deity The Old Miner. When they asked a dwarf at the mining camp about the temple, he said it was a reminder of dwarven shame and should be left alone but intact. The place was crawling with extremely well-preserved zombies and coated in a strange purple smoke. Here’s some stuff they found:

1) A series of rooms whose walls were built of runes describing the life of a dwarven conqueror called Mar-Run.

2) A fire-breathing worm.

3) A creature that shifted shapes so quickly that it was almost impossible to look at.

4) A dwarf priest, deep in meditation.

5) A fire-pit containing three football-sized seeds that were smoldering, giving off the purple smoke.

6) A barbershop.

7) A bunch of murals depicting all sorts of crap.

8) A golden hammer & pick set upon an altar, and a meteor that showed signs of having been beat upon.

9) A library full of books made out of stone.

The adventurers reported back to Oglevee and collected their reward, visited the Keeper’s Temple and met a very scrawny lady who made Chlamydia stop glowing and losing life force on the daily, donated 900 gp to the temple, and visited the Society of the Stars and Moons who were interested to find out that a sneaky member of theirs was found dead in a cave in Littlefang Mountain and may be in touch regarding purple smoke and what it’s all about. Then the party headed back to the temple. They dragged all the dwarf zombies out into the light of day and set them on fire so that they could explore further without constantly finding themselves set upon. They took one stone book each, and transcribed them, and then traveled back to Kaladon to try to sell them to Oglevee.

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Session 15: Tug-o-War

Brick decided it was his turn to get a taste of what Kaladon’s nightlife had to offer. After many, many beers and a meaningless kerfuffle with the Black Dragons, he found himself in the City Dungeon. Cue sad trombone noise.

The next morning, the rest of the party waited around the King’s Blade Hotel for him to show up. When he didn’t, they went to a meeting with Captain Herred Guy and the chief engineer of Kaladon’s war machines, whom they consulted and eventually hired to build a ballista, a miniature catapult, and a few oversized bear traps. Once their business was concluded, Herrod informed them of Brick’s fate. They visited him in prison, where they learned he’d earned a one-week stint for punching cop. Alastair Finch bribed a guard to look after him. The free members of the party then scoured the city’s taverns and inns in search of hirelings who could operate their heavy duty weaponry.

While waiting out his sentence, Brick met another prisoner whose body was a tangle of piercings, tattoos, and ritual scarification. This prisoner informed him that he had died and been resurrected several times. In the fields east of The Bottoms, there was a temple of the god Agalloch, most feared of the Blood-Thousand, where they could raise the dead, and he encouraged Brick to head out that way should anyone he cared about ever die.

When Brick was finally released, and a sizable crew hired, the party headed out towards Lake Trouble. While passing through the Shriekwood, they came across a wrecked, abandoned, and torched wagon caravan. They gave it a wide birth.

At the lake, they spent several days searching for and attempting to summon the elusive hydra. Finally, a goat was set upon a raft rigged with a bear trap and floated out onto the lake. It took some time, but their quarry finally appeared. They skewered it with a harpoon (maybe? I don’t exactly remember how this played out), and working together, managed to haul it ashore. There, it was easy to dispatch. They removed some heads and returned to Knucklehead to settle their debts.

In Kaladon, the priest and Lonus Trumble were impressed with their accomplishments. It was agreed that the party had done as they had promised, and were absolved of their wrongdoing. Junior brought up the subject of a military treaty between Knucklehead and Kaladon, which caused some confusion because Knucklehead had no military to speak of, and Junior was not a member of government. After some blank stares, the topic was dropped and the party headed back to Kaladon.

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Session 14: Held Accountable

In the camps outside of the wrecked village of Knucklehead, a priest worked the survivors of the hydra attack into a frenzy. The adventurers were to be blamed, he claimed, and must be punished. While Lonus Trumble tried to calm the angry crowd, the heroes crept off into the swamp to return to Kaladon. The next morning, they discovered that they had been followed by the priest and several armed halflings. Rather than engage them in violence, they reached an agreement: If the adventurers slayed the hydra, they would be absolved of any responsibility they had in unleashing it upon the the village.

That night, they shared their camp with the kobolds they’d met recently. A good time was had by all. The next morning, they returned to the underground lake where they had first encountered the hydra. Extended experimentation in the chamber that controlled both the magnetized plate and the gate confirmed that, yes, they had set the hydra free.

They returned to Kaladon and spent some money and time at the House of Knowledge, learning all that they could about hydras. The most important piece of information gleaned was that they would need to remove all of the hydra’s heads in order to kill it.

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Session 12: The Goat Dilemma

Brick, Alastair Finch, Chlamydia, and Junior spent a couple of hours recuperating after their fight with the giant swamp rats on the shores of Lake Trouble. Then they descended into the boulder cave.

The found an underwater lake. On the far side, they could just make out (thanks to an illuminating spell cast by Chlamydia) some sort of fortification built on the beach. On their side, there was a pen of goats, a dock, and a rowboat. They slaughtered a goat and tossed its head into the water. They were able to sense some kind of activity under the surface where the head lands, but it was too dark and too deep to determine exactly what. They boarded the rowboat and headed out onto the water. As a precaution, they removed their heavier armor. It turned out to be a good idea.

They hadn’t made it far when a five-headed beastie rose up out of the water all around them and flipped their vessel. As they struggled to remain afloat, it tore into them, disemboweling Brick and crushing Alastair’s ribs. Some quick casting by Chlamydia and some quick rope-work by Junior kept the creature at bay and their companions alive long enough to drag them back to shore.

Unarmored and clinging to life by a thread, they returned to Knucklehead, where Lonus Trumble put them up in a guesthouse and kept them well-stocked with swamproot tea and rock biscuits. For three days, they stayed in town. Each morning, the heard reports of zombie halflings lurking around the village’s borders, but never venturing in. The Knucklehead militia, now aware that their enemy looked like them, knew to fire on anyone approaching the village ramps after dark. The presence of an honest-to-goodness cleric of the Keeper may have helped as well.

Sufficiently healed and dressed in fresh new armor, they headed back out to the cave.

They discovered that the goat they had killed had been replaced with another while they were away, and that the boat had been returned to its place on the dock. They spent much of their day experimenting with goats and boating expeditions, and eventually determined that the monster in the lake preferred live meat to dead. Chlamydia ventured back out into the swamp and captured a pig. The plan was ostensibly to add it to the pool of animals to be sacrificed. Too bad she’s such a softy.

The next time they ventured into the cave, they discovered that the goat supply had been replenished once again, and was now being protected by a pair of kobolds. They killed one and bound and gagged the other. With their boat riding low in the water with a pair of goats and a captive, they set out across the lake.

On the far side, they discovered that a portion of the cavern had been walled off, and that the wall was guarded by a team of kobolds. There was a brief exchange of fire, mostly ineffectual, followed by a parlay. During their negotiations with a kobold called Gingivitis, they learned that the kobolds had been hired by someone they called The Boss to guard this wall, but that they had since come to loathe the task. The Boss had an unhealthy fixation with dead bodies that the kobolds found distasteful. They were happy to abandon their post (and to accept a handful of coins that Alastair offered them). They directed the party to a pen of goats on this side of the lake. They had little in the way of advice to offer, other than a warning that The Boss was an excellent swimmer, and that any attempt at a confrontation with him would probably prove lethal. With that, the kobolds piled into a boat with a few goats and set out across the lake.

The adventurers headed into the compound.

They ran into their first trouble in a room full of orbs flashing like strobe lights. The orbs had a strange effect on Alastair, who suddenly turned on his allies and tried to kill them. He failed in that, but did manage to break his favorite warhammer. Chlamydia drove him off with a spell, which gave her and Junior time to smash the orbs. Alastair returned to normal, and claimed to remember nothing.

As they further explored the underground tunnels, they encountered a few doors which they left alone, and a flooded tunnel. Alastair swam down it. The gods of physics and continuity had had a few beers by this point, and lost track of both light sources and the length of rope that he had affixed to his ankle, so he was able to make it to the end of the tunnel with little trouble. There he found a sliding stone door and a table covered in burning candles.

He returned to his companions. They decided to hold up in the room with the smashed orbs and try to get some sleep.

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Session 11: Zombie Halflings! (or Halfling Zombies!)

The adventurers awoke late at the King’s Blade Hotel, and one by one staggered from their bedrooms into the common area. Brick, who had stayed in, was eager to hear about his friends’ exploits. Here’s what they told him:

Chlamydia, after many drinks, invested all of her money with a man named Giles the Gaptoothed who wished to start a business that manufactured and sold shoe lifts for dwarves living in a human-sized world.

Junior assaulted a man who had the temerity to speak ill of Vesuvius the Ashen, and as a result soon found himself being chased by an angry mob. Before they caught up with him, a warm, soothing presence took hold of him and carried him away. He didn’t have to ask to know that it was The Hearth Source, deity of the halflings. It carried him back to his hotel room, and left him with a parting vision: a community of halflings living on the swampy shores of Lake Trouble, shivering through cold, damp nights.

Alastair Finch had little to say about the night before, but did announce that he desired to make a sizable donation to the church.

After brief discussion, it was determined that their next destination would be Lake Trouble.

They used what remained of the day to take care of personal matters and preparing for their journey. They procured a cart, some mules, and TWO THOUSAND blankets. Alastair gave money to the Mother Superior and to Perrin Featherly. Chlamydia went to check on her investment, and made a disheartening discovery: Giles the Gaptoothed owned no factory. A bartender at The Lucky Toad Tavern informed her that Giles was a known con-artist who was in serious debt to a gang of bandits called the Red Gloves. The bartender promised to let Chlamydia know the next time Giles showed up.

The next morning, they took off. On their way through the Shriekwood, they came upon a pristine, manicured glade surrounded by statues of armed, armored, stern-faced elves. They noted the glade’s location on their map and gave it a wide berth as they proceeded on. On their third day, they emerged from the forest into a gray, fetid swamp that ringed an eerily still lake. They followed the lake’s shore (noticing wolf prints in the mud along the way) until they arrived at a small (both in population and scale) village built on stilts on the lake’s edge.

This was Knucklehead, a community of halflings who had been driven out of their homeland to the east by gnolls some two decades before. They cheered the arrival of fresh, dry blankets, as their own supply was mildewed and rotten. Lonus Trumble, the village’s sheriff, led them to a town hall, where they sat around a fire and listened to her describe the issue that had been plaguing the people of knucklehead as of late.

A couple of months ago, hunters and farmers vanished while working outside of village. Shortly thereafter, halflings began disappearing from their homes during the night, first in the homes closest to Knucklehead’s perimeter, but moving further and further in to its center as the weeks progressed. Already, sixty of the village’s inhabitants had vanished. There was no pattern to the disappearances: men and women, children and the elderly were all taken. Lonus formed a village militia to patrol Knucklehead’s ramps and causeways after dark, but to no avail.

Junior conferred with his companions, and convinced them that they should stay and help out.

Junior, Brick, and Alastair spent what remained of the afternoon getting to know some of the villagers. They met a fisherman who told them that The Bottoms were home to lizard-men as well as a black dragon, but he didn’t know even either one was responsible for the disappearances. Chlamydia ventured back out into the swamp with a burlap sack and a vast repertoire of animal calls and returned with a muskrat, which she took into the village temple with her for a few hours of prayer. The muskrat was not seen again.

Before dusk fell, who should come wandering out of the fog but Choice Economix directed here by the concierge at the King’s Blade Hotel. His friends caught him up on the situation.

When night finally arrived, the adventurers positioned themselves (with plenty of blankets) on top of the roof of a house and kept watch on the swamp. Hours passed, and the halflings of Knucklehead retreated to their homes, until only the night watch remained, roaming the walkways in pairs with raised torches. In the late hours, the sounds of footsteps in sucking mud called the adventurers’ attention out to the swamp, just shy of the village ramp. Chlamydia cast a magical sphere of light in the darkness. It revealed a half-dozen halflings—their faces consumed with rot, their clothing in tatters—lurching towards the town. The power of Chlamydia’s faith drove all but one of the undead creatures back into the darkness. This last one they fought on the village walkways. Junior and Choice both got soaked, but otherwise everyone was okay when they finally destroyed the thing. Junior gave the Knucklehead militia a crash-course in the undead, and then the party set off across the swamp in pursuit of the ones that had been driven off.

They tracked them to a muddy hill and killed all but one of them. They let the last one make it all the way back to its home: a cave nestled between a pile of boulders on the western shore of Lake Trouble.

The party set up camp so that Chlamydia could rest and the rest could observe the cave entrance. A few hours later, a pack of giant rats caught sight of them and mistook them for an easy meal. Now there are a dozen fewer rats in the world.

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Session 10: Littlefang

Satisfied that the destruction of the Amber Spotlight constituted an end to the orc threat in the Greyfang Mountains, Minister Ithelm Rookhill paid the party their promised 100 gold apiece, and the Trenton Mining Company sent men out to reestablish their camp in the foothills.

Carufil Featherly was liberated from the Oakleaf Tower by the Thieves’ Guild and returned to the city. He stayed in the safe house for a few days, and then went to live with his uncle, Perrin Featherly.

The party spent a week selling their loot, resupplying themselves, and healing up. Then they went to meet the former king of the elves. When they arrived, he was engaged in a fierce debate with Perrin, a debate which the adventurers were invited to weigh in on. Carufil wished to take control of the Featherly Clan and go to war against Analen Crookedwing and the Oakleaf Tower in an attempt to regain his throne. Perrin felt that because Carufil had been deposed legally, it made more sense for him to accept his new lot in life, and that peace between Kaladon and the elves should be achieved through diplomatic means. The adventurers agreed with Perrin, at least for the time being. This appeared to bum the hell out of the would-be king.

With no pressing business for the first time in a while, the party decided to seek out the secret library they’d heard about on Littlefang Mountain. After a morning of exploring the mountain’s forest, they happened upon a cave with some strange footprints around the mouth, and decided to venture inside. In the caves, they found:

  • A less-than-stable rope bridge
  • A small, deep hole in the wall, its sides covered with some sort of reddish fungus
  • A skeleton covered with red mushrooms that burst into clouds of spores when disturbed
  • A pile of bones at the bottom of a chimney
  • A corpse, a week dead, who carried a corn-cob pipe and a sheet of paper with the following text underlined: By breathing deep of the purple smoke, The Deer Wizard was able to enter the spaces between the worlds.
  • Some enormous rats
  • A huge spider
  • A small band of troglodytes, who kept an enormous stash of treasure in their lair, including three items of special note: a sword engraved with an image of a person burning at the stake, a battle-ax etched with dwarf symbols of royalty, and a pair of gauntlets, each with an ogre’s face drawn upon it.

Packs heavy with loot, the party headed back down the mountain into the city. While Brick and Marley turned in early after the exhausting day, Junior, Alastair Finch, and Chlamydia decided it was time to hit the clubs.

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Session 9: The Amber Spotlight

Neptu, Alastair, and Marley rode hard back to Kaladon and rejoined their companions in the common room at the King’s Blade Hotel. As they described the past week’s adventures and misadventures, they were approached by a priestess and chronic eavesdropper called Chlamydia. She had opinions about the adventurers’ various quests, as well as a desire to enlist. The party is more or less a meat grinder at this point, and fresh meat is always needed, so they happily signed her up.

Marley needed a few days to recuperate from the injuries he suffered in the orc cave. The party used that time to get in touch with The Bald Man, their contact in the Thieves’ Guild, who owed them a favor. They asked him to use his resources to rescue King Carufil from the Oakleaf Tower, which he agreed to do. He would offer Carufil sanctuary within the city for one week, after which The Bald Man would consider his debt to the party repaid. This sounded fine for everyone.

Before leaving town, they checked in with Perrin Featherly. He was glad that steps were being taken to save his nephew’s life, though he was nervous about the consequences of seeking the aid of an organization like the Thieves’ Guild.

They chartered a boat which led them up to the Trenton Mining Camp, now abandoned. They convinced the boat’s captain to wait for them for one week, and then headed up into the mountains, where the orc temple waited.

Inside, they slaughtered many orc priests as they ventured from room to room. Eventually, they came upon a wide stone pedestal whose surface was made from an amber-like crystalline substance. A hole in the ceiling directly above it looked up into the night sky. This, they decided, must be the priests’ signalling device, and it must be destroyed. Invoking The Keeper, Neptu raised her mace high above her head and brought it down on the smooth yellow surface. It exploded in a flash of searing white light that left several members of the party temporarily blinded.

Further exploration of the temple led to the discovery of:

  • A suit of plate armor that at first appeared to be high quality, but upon further examination turned out to be made of polished tin
  • The orcs’ living quarters, empty
  • An enormous humanoid creature trapped behind bars (who they accidentally released, and then deliberately killed)
  • A wooden chest full of valuable jewelry

Pouches bulging with rings and necklaces, they crept back out into the night.

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Session 8: Alastair Stands His Ground

Elves pursued Marley through the night, but he eventually made it back to Kaladon. In the common room at the King’s Blade, he met up with Neptu and Alastair Finch, and told them of his ill-fated journey to the Oakleaf Tower. Neptu helped him reequip himself (all of his possessions were taken by the elves). They checked in with Captain Herrod Guy, who let them know he was still working on convincing the City Council of the Horde threat. His two biggest concerns were that the Knights of Kaladon were woefully unprepared for war, and that the Minister of the Treasury was itching for an excuse to wipe out the Shriekwood Elves and claim the forest (and all lumber therein) for the city.

The next morning, they set out into the Shriekwood.

Neptu brought them to the camp of the Skyclimber Clan near the forest’s northern border. They found the camp nearly deserted, with only children and the elderly present. At first they were refused entry into the camp—Queen Analen had forbidden contact with outsiders—but Neptu was able to make contact with an old friend of hers: Savian Skyclimber, one of the clan’s elders. He agreed to meet with them under cover of darkness.

He confirmed what they knew of the deposing of King Carufil and the crowning of Queen Analen. Analen, he explained, sought to execute Carufil, but could not do so without the approval of the Eight Clans. The clans had gathered to discuss and vote upon this issue (that’s where everyone was), a process which he expected to take a full week. He confided his suspicion that Analen sought to to go to war with Kaladon, and that the execution of Carufil would be the act that inspired them. He believed that although not all the clans wanted war, none would violate law and tradition by going against the queen. Neptu asked for the location of this meeting, but Savian refused. “It is forbidden,” he said.

The party spent the next two days seeking other elves in the Shriekwood, but found none. When their supplies ran out, they returned to Kaladon.

They met with the Mother Superior at the Church of the Keeper and asked for an introduction to members of the City Council. She told them that she was a close personal friend of Minister of the Treasury Ithelm Rookhill. She agreed to meet with him on the party’s behalf.

They killed a day around the city.

That night, the Mother Superior visited the party, along with Ithelm Rookhill and Knight Commander Reynard Lott. Ithelm informed them that, true to his word, Captain Herrod Guy had warned the City Council about the orcs in the Greyfang Mountains. The Council was concerned about the prospect of committing to a military action in the mountains when the elves in the Shriekwood were posing such a threat, especially when they’d yet to see any proof that the orcs were in fact part of an invading force, and not just a lost tribe or raiding party.

He wanted the party to return to the cave they’d discovered in the Greyfang Mountains and thoroughly scout it. He wanted to know exactly how many orcs their were, what kind of equipment they possessed, what capabilities they had, and what their intentions were. He was willing to pay 100 gold apiece, provided they were able to accomplish it within the week. In addition, he could cover 100 gold worth of expenses (for travel, equipment, etc.).

The party agreed. In the morning, they bought horses and provisions and headed out of the city.

They arrived at the cave in the afternoon (after a nervous encounter with a giant flying something) and found a hiding spot from which they could observe its entrance. They watched it through the night and saw no activity. The next morning, they went in…

…and were promptly attacked by three orcs in dark cloaks. Marley got his brains rattled, but in the end they were able to kill one of their assailants and drive the other two off. Neptu advocated heading in the opposite direction, but Alastair wanted to give chase, so deeper into the caves they went.

Before long, they caught up with the two orcs, along with eight of their buddies. Alastair faced off against them to give his companions time to escape. The orcs crowded around him, hacking at him with curved daggers. He succumbed to their weight and collapsed onto a staircase, but kept fighting. On his back, he managed to swing his sword with enough force and precision that he cut one of them clean in half. This display of strength and skill was too much for the rest of the orcs, who retreated the way they came.

While this was going on, Neptu did some quick exploration. She discovered

  • a 15’ statue of a humanoid creature composed entirely of screaming faces
  • an altar
  • a mural depicting a beam of light shooting out of the roof of this cave high into the sky, and thousands of orcs and other beasties charging into battle.

The party reconvened outside the cave and decided to head back to the city.

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Session 7: Prisoners of the Elfqueen

Junior, Expertise, and Marley headed into the Shriekwood toward the Oakleaf Tower. When their second day of travel brought them close to the Mansion of the Silver-Faced Wizard, Junior suggested that they take a look inside; it was possible, he hypothesized, that Analen Crookedwing didn’t have the Oakleaf Crown after all, and if they could recover it themselves, it might help them in their goal of swaying the Shriekwood Elves. The party agreed to investigate the ruined mansion once again.

An incomplete map impeded their progress, and they were unable to find the room they believed held the crown. Their exploration brought them into contact with several decomposing corpses, a puddle of green slime, a pack of enormous rodents with milky eyes, and a flock of flying…something. Eventually, they abandoned their plan and proceeded on to the Oakleaf Tower.

A pair of soldiers guarded the tower. Marley, the only speaker of Elven in the party, convinced the guards to grant them an audience with Queen Analen with the proviso that they would leave their weapons behind. And so they were escorted to the throne room. (On their way in the tower’s front doors, all three noticed strange runes carved on the inside of the doorframe, though none could decipher their significance.) There, they met Analen Crookedwing, Chief of the Crookedwing Clan and Queen of the Shriekwood Elves, for the first time.

Marley told her of the orc horde they believed to be approaching. For proof, Expertise emptied her sack of orc faces. The party insisted that they were not representatives of Kaladon, but suggested that they could act as intermediaries in the brokering of some kind of truce or treaty between the elves and the city-state to mount a united defense against the orcs. Queen Analen sneered at the offer and insisted that the Shriekwood needed no assistance from the “defilers of Kaladon.” She accused the party of being spies and triggered a trap door, dropping them into a pit. She stood over them and began to work a spell. Marley gave an impassioned, indignant speech about the treatment of dwarves in Kaladon, but she was unimpressed. Her spell fired, and unconsciousness claimed all three.

They awoke some time later in dungeon cells, stripped of all their gear. There was a fourth captive with them, a goblin who identified himself as The Bonechewer. He told them (rather happily) that he was a spy working for the Priests of the Blood-Thousand, and that soon the orc horde would come, slaughtering the elves and setting him free. When they pointed out to him that it could take a long time for them to get there, he agreed to assist in their plan for escape.

Marley fashioned a grappling hook with shreds of their clothing and the hook from his shit-bucket, and used it to snare the cell key hanging on the wall outside his cell. The four jailbreakers did some preliminary exploration and found that soldiers blocked their way. They returned to their cells, taking care that they remained unlocked, and then called for a guard. When he came, The Bonechewer sprang out and ripped out his throat, but received a fatal sword wound in the process. The three survivors looted the guard’s body, and then crept along until they came to a guard room. They sprang in and immediately killed one of the two elves inside. The second one booked for the exit. Expertise tried to block his way, but he ran her through. Marley and Junior followed him out into the daylight and found themselves outside Oakleaf Tower.

Rather than follow the fleeing guard as he ran to the tower’s front entrance, they headed for the treeline and vanished into the Shriekwood.

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Session 6: The Life and Death of the Candlemaker's Apprentice

For weeks, a wandering chandler and his apprentice had been traveling through the Greyfang foothills, selling their wares in the remote farms and hamlets that dot the region. One night, while camped upon a hilltop, they were attacked by a group of unseen assailants. The master chandler commanded his apprentice, Beezus, to flee. She ran off into the night. When she returned to the camp the next morning, little remained, and there was no sign of her master.

Meanwhile, our party of adventurers returned to the Trenton Mining Camp. They told Balthazar that many orcs lurked in the hills and mountains around the camp. He decided that the time had come to abandon the camp, regardless of the loss in profits. He told the adventurers that they were welcome to stay at the camp as long as they liked, but that he did not consider himself or his company responsible for their well-being. He hoped to have his employees on the road in two days.

That afternoon, Beezus came out of the hills into the camp. She briefly met with Balthazar—he was not interested in buying her candles, and had not seen her missing master—who told her that she might wish to talk with the adventuring party camped at his doorstep. The adventurers invited her to accompany them back to Kaladon, where her master, if he lived, might eventually turn up.

Fenton went around asking Storm Company mercenaries if they wanted to sell him their weapons. They did not. Junior tried to recruit Whispers Trent and some miners to join their party, but no one was interested.

The next morning arrived with a thunderous hailstorm. The party set out anyway. After a few hours of trudging through the downpour, they wandered into the middle of a band of armed men whose faces were obscured by the weather. Interrogation was brief, but the men ultimately left them alone.

On the third day of travel, they came out of the hills and into a stretch of grassy plains. There, they encountered a group of humanoid creatures. Their faces were like goblins, but they were as tall as men, and covered in course fur. Attempts at parlay were brief, and violence erupted. Choice bewitched one of them and set it against its comrades. Eventually, all were dispatched, but not before both Fenton and Beezus fell to their spears and claws.

The survivors found little of value on the creatures’ corpses, save a single note, written in Goblin:

    To the Priests of the Blood-Thousand,
    The Elven civil war has begun. It is time to light the signal and summon the Horde.
    —The Bonechewer

Entering Kaladon, the party noticed that the Elven encampment at the East Gate was gone. They proceeded directly to the Castle Keep and related their experiences to Captain Herrod Guy. Their tales of orc priests disturbed him, but not nearly so much as the note they’d retrieved. He thanked them for their service, paid them their fee, and bid them adieu. If a Horde invasion was imminent, as it seemed, he had to speak with the Mayor-King (a task that he seemed to dread) and with the Knights of Kaladon. He would be in touch if he required further service.

Next, the adventurers went to see Perrin Featherly, whom they found with two visitors: Neptu, a priestess of the Keeper, and Alastair Finch, her bodyguard. They told a troublesome story.

Neptu was a missionary at the Oakleaf Tower, working to convert the elves from their worship of trees and butterflies and whatnot to the true faith of the Keeper. Two days ago, Analen Crookedwing, chief of the Crookedwing Clan, had called a moot at the Tower. She demanded that the Eight Chiefs of the Shriekwood vote to expel King Carufil Featherly from the Tower and instill her in his place. As a measure of her worthiness, she presented the long-lost Oakleaf Crown. Carufil was placed in shackles. Sensing a strong anti-human sentiment from the gathered elves, Neptu and Alastair took advantage of the confusion to depart.

Perrin expressed his concern for his nephew’s safety. What was more, if the adventurers’ claims of an imminent Horde invasion was to be believed, the Shriekwood Elves and Kaladon would have to stand together to drive it back, and he doubted that would be possible with someone like Analen in the Tower. He implored the adventurers’ (and offered them 100 gold) to rescue Carufil from the Oakleaf Tower, and they agreed. Neptu and Alastair offered their services as well.

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