TSM Update: Pleased to Meet You

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

… our heroes made friends with some dwarves led by Uddar, priest of Berronar Truesilver. The dwarves had been trying for some time to get through the door leading to the Vault of the Throne. So far they have been unsuccessful. Uddar helped the heroes to identify the creatures heard the previous night clomping through the hallway: kor!

Uddar and crew had helped the heroes up in to the space above the hallway, and participated in the fight against the flameskull. The heroes had hoped to perhaps use the kor’s ability to teleport to pass through the door.

Their other new friend, Jermiah, who they had freed from the previously-explored vampire spawn lair, seemed to feel that the militiamen had it within themselves to open the door. Once the attempt to use the kor’s teleport ability seemed infeasible (or would take too long), the militimen, accompanied by their Segurian dwarf allies Strom and Throm, Jeremiah, Uddar and his three associates, the centaur Alamein and his ranger friend Attickus, the heroes all pushed on the door together…

“You strain, your party members sweating alongside. Dust and plaster fall into your hair. Your muscles burn, tendons stretch and threaten to snap. Your breath is hot and increasingly ragged against the cold stone of the door. Through gritted teeth you urge your allies on for one last push, and the door begins to creak and then with an audible crack and a rush of air, the door gives.

You find yourself blinking in the dim but seemingly omnipresent light of a great stone hall, in the grandest dwarven fashion. The themes that you have seen previously in Dol Seguria — on the forest door; in the spectacular entrance beyond the drawbridge; at the base of the stairs where the orc drummers pounded out their mysterious message — are all represented in this space. The stonework is exquisite, the carvings perfectly in tune with the natural color gradations of the marble, slate, granite and sandstone. The minutely intricate art of the stonemason’s craft converges through the walls and ceilings of the space on two enormous doors. Your back and shoulders still aching from prying open this far more modest door all but groan at the sight of this new obstacle.

Despite all of this grandeur, your eyes quickly settle on the floor before the colossal doors. A hundred, perhaps a thousand corpses repose in an angry and dismaying pile, at places five or six bodies high. Most are skeletal, though bits of dry flesh and desiccated clothing remain here and there. Some have been clearly dragged from the main mass and been gnawed clean. The majority, though, seem to still lie as they fell, in some forgotten day long past, in some horrible conflict or holocaust. Glancing along this dismal collection, you quickly realize that with only a handful of exceptions, while the skeletons seem to represent a great variety of races, dwarven corpses are glaringly absent.

The scene is simultaneously spectacular and spectacularly gruesome. As your brain attempts to take it all in, Strom beside you lets out a heart-rending groan of misery at this tableau, and, simultaneously Throm draws the longsword provided to him by Dmitrov from its well-oiled sheath, and in a single, effortless gesture,slices it through the neck of his brother, such that Strom’s head momentarily hovers in mid-air as his body, now beginning to fountain blood, slides sideways and collapses with a crunch to the flagstones, before the severed head itself thuds wetly alongside.
Throm now turns the shining sword, slick with the blood of his fellow inward. His intent is clear: he means to disembowel himself.
A scant instant before he can complete that task of self-mutilation, there is a flash and a pop and an odor of brimstone, and near the great doors, a foot or so before that hellish pile of deceased, two forms blink into view. One lavishly dressed, his longe blonde hair uncharacteristically unkempt, a smirk on his unshaven face, the other dressed in black robes, white paint on his face, his dark eyes red and manic. “Too late,” Segur says with some cheer to Throm.”

And that’s where we left our heroes.

TSM Update: That’s the Spirit!

IN OUR LAST SESSION…
… our hero Tovlakov, separated from the rest of the milita due to clumsiness and gravity, sought to find his way back to his militia friends. After tumbling into darkness, he had arrived at a wide passage with options to head back towards what seemed to be the orc drumming line the heroes had seen from Segur’s entrance to the lost mine,and another heading into darkness.

As he moved, Tovlakov ran into the wererat members of the local thieves group. Tovlakov met up with a stout holy warrior named Dmitrov, and together they vanquished some of the wererat menace, and following a hallway with many doors, they freed the priestess of Gond, Pearl who had been held captive here, as had Dmitrov.

Together they continued and eventually the hallway led through a heavy door spiked open and another wererat who the party dealt with. Beyond, a wide passage swept downwards, and a scaffolding, mounted to the near wall, led in a similar direction, but at a consistent height. Tovlakov and his new friends mounted the scaffold and followed it.

After some distance, the heroes observed that the scaffold led to a rough hole in a wall, with just the plank extended a few feet through the opening. Beyond suspended by ropes attached to pitons in the stone ceiling was a small crew of four of these curious grey dwarves, a member of which, it seemed, Dementia Lancaster had been, toiled, attempting to open a hole in the naked stone.

Far below, presumably at the base of the downward sloping passage the team had eschewed, was a small force of various races, urging the dwarves on.

Very quickly a shout arose and the dwarves attempted to surge back onto the scaffolding, chased, as it turned out, by a young adult dragon. The wyrm snatched up one of the dwarves, then quickly returned and made off with a second.

Tovlakov’s crew questioned these dwarves, who only spoke an ancient variant of the dwarven tongue. They indicated that they did this work because Zanzibar demanded it of them. They understood that they were supposed to cut an opening in the ceiling here that would lead to something known as the Vault of the Throne. That this Vault (or, more likely, the Throne) was what Zanzibar and his master or masters were truly seeking down here.

Tovlakov and crew, now with two dwarven additions, retreated. They deduced that the force at the foot of the sloping path would certainly send someone to encourage the dwarves to return to their work. Tovlakov and team set an ambush for this messenger, and managed to nab him, a runner, as it turned out.
Tovlakov just wanted to find his way back to his militiaman party. Through threats and intimidation, they convinced the runner to lead them to another hole that had been cut by the dwarves. This route lead, via an arching passage up a very steep staircase to a hole guarded by elven archers. The party overwhelmed the archers and then descended through the hole to a great dwarven promenade that the militia had previously navigated, lead at that time by the dwarven ghost Mudron Voon.

The party now was lead through this landscape by the grey dwarves, who by a direct passage delivered the party to the Guardian, the great, snake-like Naga who secured the massive doors leading to the bridge from which Tovlakov had stumbled.

The Naga healed the injured among the party and ultimately allowed them to pass:  all except Pearl and Dmitrov. “Only the living may pass,” the Naga pronounced, halting the progress of Tovlakov’s new friends. Tovlakov and the grey dwarves continued on.

The militiamen, having retreated to a previously expolored room as a temporary sanctuary, rested. During his watch, Norm heard a clumsy banging of several creatures passing through the outer hallway.

Once fully rested, as the militiamen emerged into the hallway once more, they discovered the sound of heavy chains moving. Attickus was asked to investigate. He proceed back down the passage towards the bridge, guessing that the sound was of the great chains that raised and lowered the drawbridge leading to this place. Attickus, then, came face-to-face with Tovlakov and his new grey dwarf friends.

TSM Update: Questions Three

IN OUR LAST (few) SESSION(s)…

…our heroes descended into the lost dwarven mine of Dol Seguria.  At the base of the ladder which ended in a tunnel heading both east and west, a large barrel, with its contents partially spilled greeted them.  And not far away, a drunken ogre reclined.  On “watch.”  He was surrounded by other barrels, seemingly of recent vintage, clearly marked with the symbol of Hugo’s distillery.

The ogre, Greb, tried to stop the heroes, but proved no match for them.  Beyond, the heroes discovered that the tunnel led to an area of different, presumably much more ancient construction. Two identical stairs led to a great open hall. The incessant drumming that the heroes had heard emanated from a crew of orc drummers down on the floor. There was a buzz of activity, including runners who would report to the drum leader, which seemed to inform the resulting drumming patterns, and a runner who had been waiting on one knee then would run off, to be replaced by the new runner.

In seeking alternatives to a brazen entrance down the open stairs, the heroes found a “trap door” (neither trapped Nor truly concealed) covering two open chutes, one running to a space under the stairs to the north, the other to the south.

Attickus discovered that Segur’s map was changing. On the roughly drawn layout a new path was superimposed, showing a route down the stairs and to the right (south) and leading to a door along the southern wall.

The heroes decided to use the chute and attempt to sneak to the southern door. They were discovered and chased, but managed to get through the door to the south, down a long stair, and through a door to the right (per the new route the map revealed), although there was also a door directly across from the stair.

The passage to the right led some ways and past a human man seated at a large wooden desk with a mess of papers scattered across it.

As the heroes attempted to move closer, the first who approached was caught in some invisible field. The man at the desk (the “Secretary”), then posed three questions of him. The questions were generally, but not always of the form, “Who are you? What is your purpose in trying to pass here? What will you do if you are successful?” At each response, he would glance through his papers as if confirming the veracity of the response.

Each of the militia in turn, plus the centaur and the party’s guide were posed these questions. Each, after giving thier answers was permitted to pass. Except for Norm. It seemed that Norm’s response, related to carrying out treasure that they might find along the way, was not judged as acceptable. Eventually he tried again, this time without insisting on removing items, and that was deemed by the Secretary as acceptable.

The militia advanced down the passage.

Eventually they emerged into a huge space with a massive vaulted ceiling above. There were sounds of significant combat, though mostly from above.
The heroes encountered a ghostly dwarf, Mudron Voon, who led them through this complex. Once entering a kind of mausoleaum, they realized that they were being pursued and set about preparing an ambush. The creature that then accosted them was some evil spectral creature that Walter, aka “Shaggy” had taken on in death. He confronted the heroes, but they prevailed.
Voon then lead the militia to a great doorway protected by a serpentine Guardian Naga.
The Naga helped to heal some of the heroes, and then being convinced that they should be permitted through, opened the great doors. The heroes proceeded.

The militia moved through another hallway and into another large, open space, this one bisected by a narrow, arching stone bridge over an abyss. As the heroes moved across the bridge, each was visited by a ghostly form of a dwarven soldier. Each dwarf, as it passed through the hero, had a message for them in ancient dwarven.

As the first dwarf passed through Tovlakov, the militiaman uncharacteristically lost his balance, and somewhat clumsily tumbled from the bridge. Norm cast Feather Fall on him as he disappeared into the depths. The heroes attempted to find Tovlakov, spelunking off the bridge. A small, circling black dragon shape sent them scurrying forward.

Eventually the bridge met up with a mechanical drawbridge emerging from a great stone dwarven face. The heroes moved through. This new hall seemed somewhat similar to the dwarven dwellings of Dol Seguria that the militia had previously seen when entering from the woods. Tall walls with apartments or other spaces looking down onto a hallway. Unlike that other setting, there was no obvious way up to these dwellings. Along this hallway, the heroes found detailed carvings of dwarven heroes, some matching the ghostly forms that had approached them on the bridge. Here, the messages given to each of the heroes could be read beneath the statues:

Norm “Fear not the sworn.”
Dain “Respond to suffering not just with kindness, but with action.”
Tia “A key may turn two ways.”
Alamein “The dark of the well does not decrease with each water bucket.”
Attickus “The whiskey ages in the cask; that is not its purpose.”

There were occasional sounds emerging from the great hall. Sounds of wind. The slapping of feet on stone. The beat, as on the bridge, of leather wings.
At one point, a huge planter of dead flowers came unmoored from above and crashed in the middle of the party. The cause was not identified.

The hallway ended in enormous double doors. Their weight proved beyond the ability of the heroes to budge. However, after careful inspection, a hidden door was found. Norm spoke the dwarven phrase that he had read at the mouth of the tunnel and the door opened. The heroes moved inside.

This more narrow hallway extended before them. Far less ornate than the outer hallway, twin doors faced into the hallway every 30-50 feet. As the heroes explored, they found the lock of the doors to be beyond their abilities. However, Tia, perhaps inspired by her spirit interlocutor, decided to try the Warden’s key, which effortlessly opened the doors. Each of the rooms that the heroes then explored (six doors, at this point have been opened) contained similar accoutrement: two medium-sized stone tables, a number of stone chairs, perhaps some spoiled food and drink, some scraps of paper here or there; spider webs, signs of rodent activity… and in four of them, a creature or creatures. The heroes faced undead beings, including some vampire-like creature, as well as a black pudding. After defeating the latter, the heroes determined that they needed to find a safe place to catch their breath. Alas, when they opened the next door, they were treated by a flame skull who brought a fireball down in the middle of the party. As we left it, the heroes had limped back to a room they had previously determined was empty.

TSM Update: How do you defeat a Centaur?

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

… our heroes headed out for the lost Dwarven mine of Dol Seguria.  They were lead by Attickus, Lord Segur’s chosen guide.  They left Rankford on horseback, heading west into the King’s Wood.  Attickus indicated that he had been given a map by Segur, but that he didn’t know the exact location otherwise.  He was, he said, familiar with the King’s Wood and often works as a guide in that area.

The first day’s travel was fairly uneventful.  Near dark, Attickus led the militia into the wood north of the Road, and along a little-used trail to a forest cabin situated facing a cliff dropping off into the valley below.  A stout ladder had been firmly attached to the cliff face leading to an outcropping below, and a series of ladders leading, presumably, to the valley floor.

The heroes encamped.  Near midnight, the watch, Tovlakov and Norm’s familiar discovered that there seemed to be a man on the ladder, yelling that he had somehow become stuck.  His chest plate was stuck on a rung, he claimed.  After rousting the camp, and dismissing Attickus’ objections, Tovlakov descended the ladder, to discover that the creature stuck on the ladder was actually a centaur.

After helping the centaur, named Alamein free from the ladder, the party invited him to stay the night.  Alamein mentioned that he was an outcast from the resident centaur tribe.   The centaur was quite loquacious, and inquisitive.

Travelling on the next day, permitting Alamein to accompany the party, despite Attickus’ protestations, the party passed Fort Midway and Lord Segur’s residence.  Later, Attickus led the party on a meandering trail north into the woods, and eventually to a location with a precarious slope.

After struggling to descend the slope, the heroes arrived at a narrow stone stair leading to the quarry below.  The entrance to the mine, per the map, was located inside a stone structure near the foot of the stair.

Tovlakov, who had previously spotted some wordless communication between Attickus and Alamein.  At this point, he spotted it again and called them out on it.  Reluctantly, they agreed that they knew each other.  That they are friends, and that they had arranged to have Alamein “randomly” run into the party, both as a gauge of what kind of people these militia were (would they help a creature in need?) and as backup for Attickus should the party turn against him out in the wild.  Attickus had determined that the party seemed legitimately lawful and good-aligned.  He and Alamein would continue to accompany the party at least some distance into the mine.  Alamein, then transformed into a normal-seeming bipedal man in order to descend the stairs.  Asked if perhaps the centaur aspect had been an illusion all along, he claimed that he was a centaur, but one who could assume human form.  He hinted that it was this ability (perhaps passed down from his parents) that had caused he and his family to be cast out of the centaur herd — er, tribe.

The party navigated the stairs, and after Tovlakov defeated a stout lock on the blockhouse, entered it, and camped briefly while Alamein repaired his chest plate which had been severed at the leather joints when he had been “trapped” on the stairs.

Sounds of drumming, and perhaps more fell things came to the ears of our heroes, perched at this secret portal to a lost world.

TSM Update: Grand Opening

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

… our heroes met, somewhat unexpectedly, with Lord Segur. He wanted to know if the militia intended to pursue the path they had previously discussed, back into the underground depths of Dol Seguria; the lost dwarven stronghold. He had brought with him a human ranger-type named Attickus who he proposed as a guide for the PCs.

Tovlakov showed Segur a remnant of baby clothing he’d diligently carried around with him since the first run-in with Dementia, the sight of which caused the count to break down in tears. He apparently had lost a son, Lukas, in child birth, approximately 18 years ago.

In preparation of heading out to the underground complex, a few things had to be wrapped up. Tim-Tom was left at the Warden’s Office, protected by the newly-restored defenses. Arrangements were made via Carly for food to be delivered to Tim-Tom daily.

Also, in an attempt to aid Seamus Finney and his men’s efforts to decipher the messages coming out of the War Wizards tower, Tia prepared a “message” to her superior for Kazuo to send out, via “secure means.” That same, unmodified message was to be brought via courier to the old farmhouse where the heroes had met Finney.

The gifted, then borrowed, then re-used draft horse that had been rescued from Dementia was returned.

Upon returning to Rankford proper, the heroes discovered that a new building had been constructed on the site of the former house of ill repute that Rekar had been given as the location to build his Wizard’s Tower. Instead, they found a local franchise of the Waterdeep stores Balthor’s Rare and Wonderous Treasurers. Apparently Rekar had been just an agent/advance scout who was paid to secure a location with appropriate rights for the franchise to be constructed.

While investigating the Balthor’s , the heroes were able to trade their mithril bars for some goods. Norm was able to purchase a Robe of Protection. As an afterthought, they purchased a Scroll of Resurrection, which included a bonus Scroll of Detect Magic. The Resurrection scroll was used to return life to the scattered remains of Dain.

Thus prepared, the heroes were to set out towards Dol Seguria, once again.

TSM Update: Some new friends, and one old one

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

… Our heroes “fell” into the brigands’ trap, striding forthrightly into the old farmhouse to confront these highwaymen. Only to discover that they were waiting for the heroes, yes, but with the intention of making an arrangement. They met with Seamus Finney and his merry band. Seamus invited them to drinks and to discuss their proposal.

Finney suggested that he and his men would leave Rankford completely alone (his men would not enter the Warden’s jurisdiction) if they would likewise leave the north-south road (Calantar’s Way) to the brigands. Finney said that they required that rich merchants who travel on that road to pay a “tax” which he claimed that they then shared with the underrepresented people of his community.

Finney also said that he had information of interest to the heroes: the current whereabouts of Dementia Lancaster, the notorious Midwife. In return, he wanted help from the militia in that the new sage, Kazuo, was sending a number of official messages via courier, but they were somehow written in a script that the brigands could not decode. Could the heroes help? They agreed to try.

The evening proceeded with good food and a good deal of wine. The heroes were put up in a room in the old farmhouse for the night. In the morning there was coffee and bread and bacon, then they met up with their guide, the elf Eskin who had “warned” them at the Flailing Chicken of the dangers of the highwaymen ahead.

After traveling some 5 hours north of the farmhouse, the group came to the predicted intersection of a logging road and the Way. Eskin told the party to continue up the road and he would travel a ways north to see if anyone was following them. As the heroes turned west onto the logging road, they quickly ran into a horse-drawn wagon bearing down on them, driven by the dwarf Midwife herself.

The heroes scattered and attempted to attack Lancaster as she rushed past. Only Norm had any real success — his Sleep spell affected one of the horses, causing the wagon to careen out of control and smash into the trees lining the road, fully overturning.

The battle then ensued between the heroes and Lancaster, who immediately emerged from the dust roiled into a cloud around the site of the crash in the form of a stone giant. With one great plow of her massive club, she killed Dain, sending him (or at least some of his parts) thudding into a tree trunk 30 feet away.

Tovlakov, Norm and Tia then went toe-to-huge-toe with Dementia. Well, Norm never got that close, actually. Dementia rained a surprising number of those devastating club attacks on the heroes, dropping Tovlakov before long. After a bit, Eskin arrived, firing at Dementia with his longbow. Eventually, the significant damage that the Midwife incurred resulting from the crash, as well as blow and blast raining down on her from the heroes terminated her life.

Next session:

What’s in the wagon? What awaits our heroes in Dementia’s Hideout?

TSM Update: Polite Conversations

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

…our heroes decided to split up.  Tia and Dain headed east to meet the rumored “new” sage at the War Wizards tower.  Tovlakov and Norm remained in Rankford Mitte to keep an eye on things.
Tia and Dain, passing the newly-erected Wolf Fence at the Collective decided to drop by.  Making their way through the gate, the met up with Carly.  She is still walking with the assistance of a cane, but otherwise seemed to have emerged from her exploits with Greater Apparatus of Kwalish and Marver’s forces intact.  She shared that there had been reports of a band of individuals (adventurers?  brigands?) seemingly encamped further east, past the tower.

Norm received a cagey invitation from Marg that Captain Teena and a never-specifically-identified guest wanted to speak to the militia.  Tovlakov was located by Norm and the two proceed to the Grey Wolf Inn to meet with these two worthies.

Arriving at the War Wizards Tower, Dain and Tia were greeted by a mephit, who allowed them to enter.  They were introduced to the new Sage, a young human man named Kashuo.  Kashuo seemed inexperienced, but polite.  He seemed to know some of what had occurred with the old Warden and Sheriff, and knew that his predecessor had been “reassigned” to Immersea.  He revealed that portals all over the kingdom had failed, perhaps due to sabotage.  He agreed to take on some research on behalf of the heroes.  He also revealed that the Tower, the Warden’s Office, and the Watchtower all contained magical communication devices that allowed any location to locate with any location.  Also, each location, by triggering a “button” visibile only to the duly appointed individual(s), could listen in to ambient noise from the other locations.  Once they had the opportunity, Dain and Tia made for the Warden’s Office and tried this technology out for themselves.  They also searched the Map Room for incriminating information related to Marver/Eeger/Lord Segur’s activities, but did not find anything of import.
While speaking with Kashuo, Dain felt that the new Sage was generally sincere in his pronouncements, but seemed to be carefully tracking what the heroes said for future inclusion in reports to… someone.

At the Grey Wolf, the heroes were lead to the Fireside Room where the Purple Dragons Captain and… Lord Segur waited.  Clearly, the Count had set up this meeting.  He refused to state clearly whether his satyr minion was nearby.

Segur claimed that he was interested in having the heroes assist with an issue related to the lost dwarven mine and village of Dol Seguria.  He claimed that Marver, with Eeger’s assistance, had been kidnapping individuals, mostly innocents passing through Rankford, and enslaved them in the recently-discovered lost mine. Segur said that his interest was in seeing these slaves freed. If the heroes would commit to this task, he said that he would provide a map that might be of assistance. Norm an Tovlakov seemed dubious but said they would consider it.

Dain and Tia returned to Mitte and shared what they had learned. Tia showed Norm how the communication between the three key sites worked and they tested it out. There was discussion about what to do next. Investigate the brigands? Commit, at least in word, to Lord Segur’s request?

TSM Update: Goblins, Hobgoblins, Orcs and a little Sage

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

…Our heroes continued their march into the long-unexplored (?) depths of Dol Seguria. The defenses at the first, great intersection of passages were determined to be stout, indeed. As the heroes took out a second hobgoblin guard, he was able to send a general alarm. More alarms and organizing horn calls rained down on the militia.

The heroes began to descend the stairs. Norm threw a Sleep spell towards the gathered force of goblins and hobgoblins at the lower level, just as a hail of javelins came from that unit. A force of orcs (?) stomped forward, and in perfect unison slammed their interconnected shield to the stones; forming an impassable wall before the heroes.

Far more quickly than the militia could account, additional hobgoblin and goblin foes swarmed like blackbirds to the scene. Determining that a frontal assault on this joint force would not be successful, the heroes retreated. A gauntlet of zombies awaited them as they made for the great door. Dain attempted to scatter them, backed by the power of Ilmater, but the zombies seemed unaffected. The heroes, however, still managed to escape.

Upon arriving back in Rankford (escorted safely out of the King’s Wood to the Old Mill by the rangers of Azan), the heroes were told that the elves watching the town in their absence had been a bit… strict.

After a night’s rest, it was reported that a new sage had arrived at the War Wizards tower. Dain and Tia started off to meet this new individual while Tovlakov and Norm remained on duty.

TSM Update: Feed My Dog!

IN OUR LAST SESSION…

… Our heroes delved further into the lost dwarven kingdom of Dol Seguria. Tovlakov sought to confirm that the elven ranger Jacoba “Jake” Marius was still waiting outside the entrance to the dwarven site. He was. After informing Jake that the fugitive (“Diedrich”) that Azan and his rangers had chased into the dwarven underground was dead, he agreed to leave the body somewhere that they could fetch it. Tovlakov returned to the inner sanctum of the dwarven complex, and the heroes searched the fugitive Diedrich. On him, they discovered that he had, among his weapons, a shiny metal ring and a leather item on a chain around his neck that Norm was able to determine had a faint Evocation magic about it. The heroes dragged Diedrich’s body through the entrance to the dwarven complex and closed the door.

The heroes then moved forward, deeper into the dwarven complex. The already wide, high-ceilinged passage widened further and the ceiling stretched even higher away. Stairs carved into the bare rock led up. The heroes climbed the stairs. They searched the first “apartment.” Dain smashed the door open. Inside he heard a weeping sound. He moved further in, down a short hallway to a front room, leading to a hallway which continued into a bedroom. Two balconies extended into the main hallway. Dain followed the sound of the weeping into the hallway leading to the bedroom.

A dwarven woman, glowing like an apparition, sat in a wooden chair, weeping about her “Baby,” her “pet.” When Dain approached, she complained that there was nothing to feed her dog. The dwarven woman looked up at Dain and he could see that half of her face had been gnawed away. A rumbling growl had been growing in the back room. Now the creature, an enormous, horse-sized dog with two heads charged. It was emaciated. Some of its flesh was missing from its limbs and belly. The dwarven ghost faded and disappeared.

The heroes fought the giant “dog.” Dain was able to block the hallway and absorb bite after slavering bite, while the rest of the party was able to attack with missile weapons and spells. Eventually, the party wore the creature down, and with one final blow from his war hammer, Dain dispatched the beast. It began to quickly decompose.

Searching the house, the party found a few items. Most interesting were mithril coins.

The heroes decided to rest in the house. During the rest, Tovlakov noticed a small mob of undead of various races shambling down the main corridor in the direction of the entrance used by the party.

After some recovery time, the heroes decided to continue to climb the stairs. Two more tiers of homes perched above the home they had stayed in. Above the third tier, a 10 foot wide catwalk hugged the wall, the ceiling still high above; painted to resemble some long lost night sky.

The heroes proceeded along the catwalk. After a few hundred feet, the long corridor emerged into an even wider space. The catwalk seemed to end at the point that, it seemed, a perpendicular corridor interjected the passage the heroes had so-far pursued. Stairs led down to the corridor, stairs guarded by a human-like beast — a hobgoblin. The hobgoblin fired at Tovlakov as he approached. As the heroes rushed up to engage the guardian, he continued to fire his bow. The party was able to take down the hobgoblin before he could alert others: Tia’s arrow entered the bell of the guardian’s signal horn and emerged from the back side of the hobgoblin’s skull. Perhaps he could now play a nice tune in Hell.

Other creatures seemed to be on duty at the intersection of passages. Where to go from here?

The Shining Mantle: Book Two

This evening is the Spring Equinox, Ches 19. Over 60 days have passed since the siege of Fort Midway.

The remnants of the gang of Mons Millmaster have been crushed by the militia of Rankford. Millmaster himself stood trial, with only the Druid of the Lords Wood, Ruddiger, absent and thus abstaining. Millmaster was found guilty of murder, coercion, burglary, theft, blackmail and imprisonment. He was publicly hanged. From him, you the militia have taken possession of a mysterious map.

This map has lead you to investigate unlabeled locations, including this abandoned farmhouse where you believe the notorious midwife Damentia Lancaster has holed up.

The criminal Latimer Eeger and his gang of thugs have taken up covert residence in the Wood where they harass those on the Starwater Road. The King’s Dragons, their numbers grown to ten or a dozen, try to keep the Road open and safe. They are lead by the recent arrival Gitta Lansik (hf).

The necromancer, known as Eyebite (also called Van Xeffan by Mons), is still at large. The druid Ruddiger has faded quietly into his wood.

Lord Segur, known as “The Count” by Gitta no longer routinely visits Rankford. However, the Dragons have made it clear that he is under their protection.

The great Wolf Fence now protects almost the entirety of the Collective. Ning Stagg (1/2m) is the Watchmaster in that region. Regular communication passes between the Collective and the Mitte via the Signal Tower.

In the Northern Heartland, the Signal Tower atop the Old Mill has been rekindled. Regular patrols control the road toward Mitte, captained by Watchmaster Gleamsilver.

The Ranger Azan and his wood elf clan have ruthlessly hunted and slain the elven allies of Marver.

The lumber mill has resumed business, under the leadership of Ilona Gleamsilver, Skank’s older sister.

The former Quarrymaster Mikis Lazaris (hm) has returned from retirement, now that the giant crab creatures have disappeared. The quarry once again produces tons of stone every week.

Shand’s baby was delivered safely, a health baby boy named Progress. He is known and celebrated by all of Rankford as the first child of the new era, “Prog”.

The population of the county of Seguria has swollen. The Taledo’s shipping business is non-stop. Many pass along the Starwater Road, east and west. A tall new inn is under construction. Venturer’s Vanguard is more prosperous than it has been in decades. A new bakery, The Hearthflower, purchased by Tulu Savimbi (1/2f) produces breads and baked goods unlike anything seen locally. Amos Boyce (hm) runs a moneylending shop of sudden prosperity built on the ruins of the old Ulric Scroll Foundry.

Dirac has returned to the War Wizards tower, but attends Rankford functions.

The former Temple of Gond is being rebuilt as a house of Ilmater. When Dain Skullcrusher is not available, it is staffed by a young priest freed from being held by Mons at the Saw Mill, Fujio Izumi.

The militia has uncovered and partially explored a tunnel network that criss-crosses the county. It extends in a ring around Mitte, with exits beneath the Watchtower, the former Madame Rolland’s brothel, Taledo’s and an incomplete tunnel connecting the ring to the Grey Wolf Inn. It is caved-in at various points, or incomplete, or made all but impassable due to the underground extent of Froggy Brook which feeds the fountain. It extends to the holding cells beneath the Warden’s Office to the east, to north of the Smokeworks and west to the quarry. A northwestern leg of the ankheg-dug tunnel stretches to unexplored reaches beneath the King’s Wood.