Characters: Gwenn, Nagrin Anselmar, P'lar Chaedin, Pietra Handy, Savali Guran
Free at last! With the end of the war and the new national government concentrating more on reconstruction than conquest, your military services are no longer needed (or afforded). You received your exit pay of 1000 silver pieces and were discharged. After visiting loved ones and relaxing a bit, you find yourselves at the local tavern one fine evening spending some of that silver on the bar keep's finest ale while considering what comes next.
You have seen the bigger world and the village of Ragnar seems way too confining now. You've had enough of the rigid discipline of military work but each of you feels an esprit de' corp with the others in your small band that you know that your destinies lie upon a single path. Just where that path leads is another matter.
As you contemplate your future, you overhear a pair of strangers discussing their journey from Jasper.
"I tell you Thad, that weren't no animal bites on that poor fellow. That were orcs or goblins or trolls or I'll eat my belt."
"Twern't neither, Karlo. There ain't no orcs or goblins in these parts. Besides, you saw those wolf tracks all over the place. Bound to be wolves or maybe a bear. [whisper]Ya know, your belt might taste better than this stew. Least we know what animal that belt came from."
[Laughter from both]
"Anyway, I'm glad we're heading out of the mountains. Maybe we'll take the Gap of Azul on the return trip. What'cha think?"
"Fine by me. Another beer?"
The party asks the strangers about what they saw. The strangers found a dead body in a gully along the side of the road that looks like it had been eaten. The two strangers continue to argue if it was a wolf or something else that had killed and partially eaten the body. As the discussion continues, the party becomes interested in seeing just what happened and agrees among themselves to investigate what happened.
As they leave the bar, they are met by Belnar the head of the town guard who asks if they would be interested in some free-lance work. It seems that a party of Geldall diplomats traveling to Jasper is overdue. He is willing to pay each party member 50GP to travel to Jasper and find out what happened.
The party gathers last minute supplies and head up the mountain road that lead to Jasper across the gap of Kalhryn. At dusk they set up their tents, lights a fire, pick their watches, and settle in for a good night's sleep.
Midway through second watch the party is attacked by 4 gray wolves that ambushed the party while they were taking watch. The tent placement prevented agile movement so the partyís actions were somewhat hampered. They learn that these wolves like to ambush a member, like Savali, and knock them down and the other wolves will gang up on the downed person. After Savali gets back up, she and Gwenn gang up on one wolf and kill it. While Savali directs the battle field and Pílar heals the wounded, Nagrin wades into the fray with Dual Strike and Pietra used her Tortured Strike and backstab to kill another. After a few minutes of fighting, the wolves lay dead around the camp as Savali finishes off the last one with a well thrown dagger. The party vows to set up camp differently next time to avoid the hampered movement caused by the tent placement.
The party moves the bodies and rests for the remainder of the night.
Traveling for part of the day, they come upon the body of a dark haired human with bite marks. The body has been stripped but they do find a cord used to back his hair with a few glyphs on it that might identify the maker or owner. They take the cord and bury him with rocks beside the road.
They notice a large cave not too far from the body that has evidence of recent encampment. The party discovers a tunnel at the back of a large cave. The tunnel is partially blocked with rocks that look like they have fallen from the ceiling in the not too distant past.
Leaving P'lar at the mouth of the cave to watch their backs, the rest of the party follows the tunnel into the mountain. The party soon begins to climb more quickly and after about 30 minutes they reach a spot where the tunnel opens into a large cavern. The ceiling is covered with stalactites and the floor is covered with stalagmites. They can hear the sound of dripping water echo throughout the cavern. The channel they have been following becomes a dry river bed that crosses the cavern. About midway across the cavern, they come upon the dead bodies of several large creatures that seem to have been killed with some of the stalactites fell from the roof crushing them.
The party continues to follow the channel across the cavern where it again becomes a tunnel. As they near the edge of the tunnel, they are shocked to discover a party of orcs coming out of the very tunnel!
A pitched battle ensures with two of the orcs throwing hand axes at the party and the other four rushing in for hand to hand. Again Savali calls out orders to shift the party into an effective battle order. Pietra weaves through the foes to find their unprotected backs. Gwenn draws enemies to her while she strikes them down with her greataxe. With two swords flashing, Nagrin engages the foes. One by one the enemy is slain until the party prevails.
Searching the bodies reveals a gold amulet with an inscription of a G rune and a sack of gems worth 500 GP. The party decides that P'lar should wear the amulet and the gold is divided among the party.
There are several exits to the cavern with evidence that they are used as passage ways. Given the amount of traffic, it seems clear that this mountain is occupied by a number of vile creatures. The party decides to return to the cave to discuss their findings with P'lar.
The entire party, including the horse, returns to the caverns to investigate. They discover that the side exits are not natural but have been modified by humans or creatures by tools and by hand. They continue on into the tunnel that the orcs came from. After more climbing they enter into a chamber containing a waterfall with a stream that bisects the chamber. There are 6 orcs working on the walls of the chamber and a battle ensues.
After the battle where Nagrin was knocked out but quickly recovered, the party explored the room and the bodies and found a nice greataxe which Gwenn takes and 625 GP which the party splits. They notice some vegetation among the stalagmites in the cavern on the other side of the stream. There were some rocks sticking through the stream allowing either a slow, but careful, path across the stream or a moderate leap to the other side. Pietra crossed the stream to investigate the vegetation only to be attacked by a pair of large plant creatures. As other members crossed to assist it soon became obvious that retreat was the better plan than ending up as plant food.
Deciding they have had enough for the day, they camp in the room setting their normal watches.
The party travels back to main cavern and heads to the right to explore the next tunnel. This tunnel starts off around 10 feet wide but after a short time narrows so that the party must move single file. After a bit, they enter a larger rough opening that has trash and debris in the corners of the room. Savali enters the room and discovers some gold among the trash. The other party members enter only to be pounced on by 5 large rats. An extended battle ensues with each of the party taking damage but in the end the party prevails.
Afterward, Nagrin, P'lar and Savali feel odd and feverish and worry that the filthy dire rats may have infected them with something like filth fever. Among the other trash in the room, they find a total of 1000GP and nice suit of spiked scale mail which Gwenn dons. They hypothesize that these rats must the reason the ogre bones were picked clean. They find bones and clothing in the cave of humans, orcs and ogres.
The party travels back to main cavern and continues to the next opening to the right. They follow a winding passage away from the main cavern until they no longer hear the drip of water. Eventually the passage opens into a large room lined with torches and a set of heavy wooden doors in the opposite wall. The floor is completely flat as is the far wall. The side walls are more rough with a number of tiers or setbacks every 10 feet or so until the natural dome roof curves over the room. The room is eerily quite and the entire party feels like they are entering a trap.
They cautiously enter the room and notice that the torches are magic and that the door is heavy and locked. Seemingly out of nowhere, a hand axe crashes into the floor near Savali. It quickly becomes obvious that there are 4 guards about 10 feet above the floor on ledges (2 on each of the long walls).
Nagrin makes running leap and scrabbles up the wall landing beside one of the guards forcing him to drop his handaxe and draw his greataxe. Other party members follow suit and soon the battle is being waged on the narrow ledge 10 feet above the floor. P'lar mounts her horse so she has a better vantage point, giving her the ability to heal her allies and cast spells at the foes. The only major mishap is when Gwenn slips three times in a row as she tries to climb the wall. Sometimes heavy armor is a handicap.
They manage the kill off the guards but they find the last guard with his hand on a small cord that runs through the wall to behind the doors. The party fears that an alarm has been sounded but they take a few minutes to recover and search the bodies before attempting the door again. They find 50PG, 16 hand axes, and 4 greataxes on the bodies.
The party hears a scraping sound as if a heavy bar was being drawn back. Suddenly the torches along the walls drop from sight and the room goes dark. The party pulls out their own torches to see the doors swing open reveling a pitch black room.
After nobody rushes out, Gwenn creeps into the room seeing heavy curtains lining the two long walls. Inside the room she hears some breathing behind the curtains so she turns and gives a "hush" gesture to the party. Ignoring her, Nagrin takes one of his new handaxes and deftly throws the axe through a gap in the curtain hitting something that yells out an oath!
Out rush 3 of the handaxe throwing orcs and one bigger orc with a greataxe that rushes for Nagrin. Another battle ensues with the party just holding their own. They manage to kill all of the guards before any of the party is too badly hurt. There were a few close calls but the party prevails and discovers a store room with a very nice longsword (Magic Weapon +2) along with a number of mundane weapons including a longbow, arrows, crossbows (one hand and one regular), hand axes, spears and a greataxe. There are also several sets of orc leather armor. Savali takes the long sword and others take from the weapon store to gain some ranged weapons. They also found 50GP among the guard possessions.
The party rests in the storeroom after which Savali feels cured of the fever, Nagrin feels the same, and P'lar feels worse and less able to defend herself. They leave the storeroom and open the double doors. The doors open onto a lone hallway that dead ends to the left and extends to the right. There is a single door on the opposite wall not far from where they stand. After checking the hallway to the left to make sure that the wall is not hollow or concealing a door, the open the single door and discover a room with many beads. There are also 4 orcs in the room resting so the party rushes in to attack them.
After finishing the orcs, the party continues down the long corridor to the next door that opens to the right. After opening the door, they party detects a strong odor of decay and filth. The passageway is more natural and leads to a large trash dump. They party decided to leave this room alone for now and check the door across the hall.
The door opens to another barracks room but this one is empty. Doing a quick search reveals 150GP among the possession of the orcs that bunk in this room.
Traveling down the main corridor, they come upon 2 more doors across from each other. They hear a scream from the one on the left but nothing coming from the one on the right. They open the left hand door and see one orc torturing a short squat humanoid that the party thinks is a dwarf. Without looking back, the orc yells something that sounds like "z'grag schmeh!" and motions with its hand for the intruder to leave. Ignoring the orc's wishes, the party rushed in and attacks.
As Nagrin hits the orc, he says to the dwarf, "we are here to assist, my lord" in Common. The dwarf seems both confused and hopeful and mutters something like "ranor gag dagag." As the party proceeds to subdue the orc, P'lar heals the dwarf and says in Calibani, "we are here to help." The dwarf seems to relax a bit as his wounds are healed.
As the battle winds down, the door across the hall opens and out rushes several more orcs. The first two orcs toss hand axes but the third casts some spell that shakes the room inflicting each member of the party with grave injuries. After a protracted battle in the doorway, the party finally prevails and kills these orcs.
After ensuring that there are no more orcs on their way, the party spends a few minutes resting as they try and communicate with the dwarf.
Sensing that the dwarf responded better to Calibani than Common, P'lar tries again to talk with the dwarf.
"Are there more of you?" P'lar asks.
"Dead," said the dwarf in rough Calibani.
"Are there any more like you? More dwarves."
"No. More human. Gar help human. Orc kill human. Orc hurt Gar."
"How many humans where killed?"
"Five, yes?" he asks pointing to the fingers on his hand. "Five human. Gar help human. Orc kill. Orc take Gar."
"Were you traveling with them, the humans?"
"No. Gar dig. Gar look cave. Gar see road. Human go down mountain. Gar see orc fight human. Gar help human. Gar fail," he says and looks ashamed. Then his head comes up and he continues, "Gar not tell. Orc want Gar tribe. Gar not tell!"
"Why did the orcs want your tribe? Do you have something they want?"
"Orc hate dwarf. Dwarf hate orc. Gar not tell! Gar tribe safe."
"What did the humans look like? Did they have this?" as she pulls out the amulet from around her neck.
"Yes! Human have"
After a little more discussion, they determine that the humans had a nice dagger that is in the belt of the spell casting orc, a nice staff, some leather armor, and a sword. He describes the different members of the delegation as well as he can in his broken Calibani and then seems to tire out from the effort. The party leaves him to rest as they examine the orc bodies and retrieve the items they have.
Across the hall they discover the head orc's room and find a scroll on a table. The scroll reads:
To the Foreign Minister of Geldall from the City Council
We, the City Council of Jasper, do hereby accede and
Ratified by the City Council of Jasper and hereby signed
It looks like the delegation did reach Jasper and established an alliance between Geldall and Jasper. They were likely on their way home when they were attacked by orcs and it looks like all of them are dead. The party discusses taking Gar back to Ragnar with them as an eye witness of the attack. They also decide to finish clearing out this lair before leaving so that the orc threat will be eliminated.
Following the main passageway to the end of the corridor they find a set of double doors. Opening the doors they find a large room with a river traveling across the other end of the room. In one corner, there is a strange magical device with a water wheel being turned by the river. The machine sends out sparks and has a hopper on top that is piled full of rocks that is slowly feeding into the machine. Beside the machine there is a large glass jar (1.5 gal) that holds some blue glowing liquid substance. As the party watches, an additional drop of the blue liquid falls into the jar from a curly tube that extends from the machine. After each 20 revolutions of the wheel, another blue drop falls into the jar. There are several empty jars sitting next to the device waiting to be filled. The current jar is about half full. There are several other empty jars in a rack next to the machine.
The party has no idea what this device is or what the blue liquid is. Gwenn searching her religious training believes that the liquid is some kind of elemental essence, maybe something that could be used for rituals or alchemical creations.
P'lar and Savali know that the great desolation occurred 1000 years ago when a star fell from the sky. Maybe this liquid is being created from the star dust that was embedded into the rocks of this area from that event.
Curious about what the blue liquid is, P'lar moves the jar, sets a rock under the tube, and has a drop of the blue liquid hit the rock. The rock explodes and gravely hurts both P'lar and Gwenn. She quickly places the jar back under the tube. They do find a lever and that causes the wheel to stop which halts the liquid creation. The party takes the glass jar.
Gar mentioned that there are still some items that the delegation had that the party has not found. After searching the garbage pit, the dwarf notices that one of the wall sounds hollow and they find a secret door leading into the orc treasury. In the treasure, the party finds 1500 GP, a nice short sword, a nice staff, a good set of leather armor, and 5 jars of the blue liquid.
They then return to the main cavern to check out the other two tunnels. One ends in a cave in about 50' in. P'lar suggests using the blue liquid to clear the cave in but the rest of the party talks her out of it.
The final tunnel contains several pits with dire boars in them. Unfortunately, Gwenn and Gar discover that there are trap doors that drop into the pits. Pietra runs up and drops a rope to Gwenn. Savali and P'lar come up and attach the rope to the horse. Gwenn manages to climb out of the pit and they lower the rope to Gar so he can escape from the pit.
Having finished clearing out the cavern, the party heads back toward town and camps on the way.
The next morning, P'lar is not doing well. She seems to have been effected by the Filth Fever. Nagrin, however, feels fully well. By the afternoon, the party has reached Ragnar and travels directly to the mayor, who is also a healer priest B'jan. He welcomes the party in and treats P'lar with a well directed Cure Disease.
The party tells their story to the mayor and B'jan listens intently. He turns to the dwarf and beings to speak in Dwarvish to Gar. B'jan confirms the party's story with the dwarf and discusses options. B'jan will make sure the scroll gets to the capital. He suggests that the party return Gar to his tribe and further determine the orc threat.