Crystal Assembly

Mute Works Well...

Well the group opened the night surveying the main bandit camp from the fringes of the woods and hidden by the undergrowth. They soon came to the realization that they were going to get the first strike, as even though the camp had been warned the initial mobilization was to get the non-combatants out of the camp. The initial move was to have F’Lar use a reed, a bullfrog on his head, and the sounds of a large bird crying in the skies above to move through the stream to get the drop on one of the guards near the camp, Silvio would drop arrows in to those along the left ledge, with Solath clearing the right ledge. This would leave the central strike force to take the center of the camp being led by Garth and Uthrag, and backed by Arjhan and Kuruk.

The attack plan worked well, as although the numbers in the camp favored the bandits by four to one, the duration of the battle was short lived as the route was on as soon as the two barbarian leaders fell in the center of the camp to arrows coming in from the left ledge, and a very supportive Arjhan. Even with the impressive moments from each member of the Crystal Brotherhood of Nonhuman Adventurers, the night was definitely owned by the red hot Silvio, who racked up an impressive four critical hits with his bow.

The group cleaned up the camp proper, and found that the non-combatants had collapsed the walls behind them as they made the retreat away deeper into the hills, and only the larger caves toward the rear of the camp remained un-searched. The bandit elite were surely lying in wait within. F’Lar once again took to the water to get a better look at the cave complex within. This move turned out to be a good one, as he was able to find that the Dwarf spy from Edgecomb was waiting within and preparing to gain the surprise on any entering the other way. When F’Lar reentered to deal with Sammy, he took Silvio as back up. Within two rounds Sammy was down, and as the others charged in, the surprise that the bandit elite had planned on was turned on them with the leader down snoring on the battlefield and those around him slowed, as Solath’s magic again paid off. By the time the leader awoke his support had evaporated, and the battle was all but over. Camp cleanup involve the collection of treasure and the skinning of proof by taking tattoos.

Final count of bandit dead: Bandits 44 (tattoo proof), Dire Rats 4 (tail Proof)

The group latter returned to gather-up the dwarves, who had not left the farm. The group felt compelled to take the dwarves all the way to Konsor’s home before releasing the contract with his payment. So ends the night and the hold over the area by the Bandit warlord and rat-followers of the Lurker of the Wastes. Konsor and Kavalar Coppernight would later return to Edgecomb to revive town and begin work on their dwarven historical study of the area. and The Crystal Brotherhood of Nonhuman Adventurers return to the guild for recovery and reassignment.

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Bearskin Condom – Not for its pleasure?

The recovery from the ambush continues, and the group considers various options. They can either trail the fleeing bandits now, or they would lose about a day and any bonus given from fresh tracks by taking the dwarves to the main trade route before returning. After Arjhan explains this in an argument that sells swift action to prevent a prolonged siege, Konsor agrees to wait out the tracking of the bandits. As Solath, F’lar, and Silvio start marking the tracks of the fleeing three bandits, the remainder of the group and the dwarves help to reinforce the burned out farmhouse to somewhat shelter the dwarves while the group tracks the fleeing bandits. The three mark the beginnings of the tracks up until they stumble across the remains of the injured bandit, whose battle wounds would have made the trail way too easy to follow. The badly injured bandit was left with his throat slit by the other two. The three party members decided to return to the farmhouse to gather the remainder of the party before picking up the trail from here.

Before the group pulls out, Garth thinks to leave a couple of the party’s potions with the dwarves to help them out. Konsor agrees to hold up at the farmhouse as long as possible, and not go back to town unless they absolutely need to. The impression of being chased back into town may be a moral buster for the besieged townsfolk, and Konsor does not know how much reach the spy in town has.

Picking up the tracks at the corpse proved easy for the group, and they moved along making good time picking their way through the woods very intelligently. They seemed to head off every trick the bandit pair threw at them as they fled. False tracks, misdirection, and concealed activity were all seen for what they were, as the group made up time and ground during the hunt. When the group made camp for the night, they slept with the knowledge that they were close. The tracks they now followed had been running parallel to a stream for the past mile or two, and the bandits now moved back and forth across the stream in a regular pattern.

The morning found the bandits were now moving in the stream across barely submerged rocks, but continuing toward the hills. As the stream angled toward a small wooded canyon the bandit trail now exited the stream and entered the canyon. The stream too disappears into the narrow canyon covered by trees and brush. Two natural rock formations on either side look like towers guarding the entrance, and the walls of either side appear sheer. A tree stump stands alone in the middle before the wooded entrance.

A rustle from the bush ahead, a flash of movement from the right tower, and the glisten of dew gathered on trip wires strung around the tree stump, alerted the party that all was not peaceful in the entrance to the canyon. When Garth and Uthrag sprung into action charging those in the brush, the signal was given that combat had begun.

With Garth and Uthrag engaging the bandits hidden in the brush, F’lar and Solath moved to take on the bandit in the right tower, and when a flare went up into the air from the left tower alerting everyone to the presence of another opponent, Kuruk moved to engage him.

The group was then surprised by movement out of the brush by a pair of large dire rats which move to intercept Uthrag, and moved through the trip wire area to engage Arjhan, while activating the automatic crossbow disguised as a tree stump. When Kuruk was hit solidly by one of these missiles, he made a move to help reduce this threat. Charging the stump he endangered himself, to toss his rug over the stump with the hopes of blinding its targeting ability. For this he was rewarded with a close range solid hit that drop him into unconsciousness.

Arjhan quickly had Kuruk up again using his limited healing powers, and with that we shortly saw Kuruk riding his rug atop the now blinded automated gunning apparatus. Outside of Kuruk’s ideal antics, it was amusing to see F’lar flailing around at the base of the rock tower for a complete round as he used his masterful rogue talents to go nowhere up the stone wall. Silvio, who was watching a beautiful butterfly take flight in the early morning sunlight, spent the early moments of combat totally entranced with the beauty of nature.

The highlights also had Solath’s magic removing the bandit occupying the right tower by sliding him off the ledge, which then actually helped F’Lar to get at the now grounded bandit. After Silvio made it into action his arrows helped to improve all the individual combats as he spread arrows around, helping to reduce the overall time needed to get through the guard post. However, when the group finished off the automatic crossbow stump, the damn thing exploded, which again dropped the heroic dwarf, and injured Arjhan who had approached to bring his axe to bear on the stump as well.

The end of the combat had everyone healing wounds on themselves, and the downed dwarf, and once first-aid had been administered they continued through the brush toward the rising sound of what now must be the warned camp. Upon working your way through the brush, the dense overgrowth gives way to what looks to be a small village, nestled between the walls of the canyon. Several tents dot the area as do cooking fires. There is currently a rash of excitement, as many humans scurry around the camp. It looks like non-combatants are either heading up a couple of paths that ascend to a ledge up about 15 feet on either side of the canyon, or they are disappearing into one of two cave entrances in the rear of the camp, where the mouth of the stream seems to be flowing from. Several of the bandits, acting as a rear guard, watch for your approach.

Ongoing count of bandit dead: Bandits 15 (tattoo proof), Dire Rats 3 (tail Proof)

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Fresh Air Again

We began the session with the group leaving the tunnels which were now known as Rat-man Hold. With all the rats exterminated and new treasures in hand, the heroes exit the filth ridden halls to once again breathe clean air. After an a brief recap for the benefit of Uther and the town watch, the group was allowed to get some much needed R&R in the hut previously occupied by Samuel.

By mid-afternoon the following day Uther sent word requesting an audience with everyone in the Mead hall. When you got there you noticed that a large number of town watch were surrounding the building itself. As you enter the lodge you see Uther, Konsor Coppernight, Kavalar Coppernight, and Everett and Finney, the two dwarven men-at-arms that you rescued from the dig site. When one of you asked about the positioning of the town watch outside, you learned that the added security measures were a result of Arjhan’s discovery about Samuel, and no one is allowed to approach the building right now.

When each of you is in and seated Uther begins, “It seems of late that my small town has come under attack from surrounding bandits, from the rat menace below, from spies within, and from the promise of a harsh winter with limited supplies. It would also seem that your brave group has been able to help out to greatly reduce these threats. For this I am in you debt and wish there was some way to reward you….”

At that Konsor steps in, “This is where I may be able to help out. I have wishes to secure the guilds services in name of the Northern Star Trade Emporium to free this area of the bandit siege that chokes it. As a ruling member of said entity, I offer a handsome reward of 500gp, along with bonus of 5gp for proof of each bandit killed.”

Konsor then motions to his nephew as he continues, “Our motives for this are not fully without reason, I have decided that I am going to invest some of my merchant made gold to help my nephew unearth the dwarven heritage of this area. However, in order to do this, something needs to be done about the bandit siege on this area, and help needs to be given to Uthers’ town.”

He pauses shortly to let the deal sink in, then continues, “Within a few days I would like safe passage out of this area, so that I may secure supplies for this town to insure that it makes it through the coming winter. I will also return with enough supplies and resources to see that my nephew, Kavalar, has what he needs to properly cleanse and restore the halls below, and return Grashrenstone Hall, and Coppernight Hold to the glory that once was”

“Once you have escorted the four of us to the main trade way you may hunt the area all you want, and I will leave such details to you. When complete with the cleansing, return to Edgecomb with proof and await our return within a ten-day.”

As he wraps up the meeting he says, “I will prepare a contract with these details, so that you may deliver it to Crystal between now and my escort.” With that Konsor excused himself for a short period. While out Uther had some questions about the battles fought below, which gave the group more time to recount their actions below town. By the end of the night, and with a new contract in hand the group returned to the guild to take care of personal business and ready for the coming job.

Three days later the group returns to Edgecomb prepared to leave, and spends the next several hours helping the dwarves prepare the wagons for the journey. During this time much talk circulates around town about the group being back, and their coming mission of hope. As they leave many wave and cheer, giving them all an uplifting sendoff.

They traveled about two hours in the freash fall air, the wagons are moving along a path through un-kept farmland, approaching the next copse of woods. There are remains of a burned out farmhouse on the right, and as you survey the surroundings, the lead wagon lurches violently to the left. You hear the crack of wood as the left rear axle snaps, following shortly are cries of attack accompanied by the twang of crossbows.

The fight that follows has Uthrag and Kuruk charging the crossbowmen occupying the burned out cottage. Garth charges those on the left flank, Arjhan and Finney protect the front, F’Lar sneaks out the rear wagon to surprise those on the right, Silvio and Solath provide cover fire from the safety of the wagon’s cover, a badly wounded Konsor and Kavalar hide beneath the wagon, and Everett falls from the initial few volleys of bolts. The leader of the bandits shows himself after the first couple of volleys, and charges with his pet dire rat. Arjhan soon finds that the leader is a true were-rat, and that he is in for a tough fight. The end of the fight comes with Silvio taking down the were-rat, three bandits running off, and Arjhan down.

In the aftermath of the fight the group surveys the damage from the attack, heals damage, revives Arjhan, but find that Everett is beyond help. They also learn through interrogation that the town still has at least one spy, as the bandits were tipped off as to the groups composition. They also manage to get a rough map to help follow the fleeing bandits.

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Dwarves Hate Stuff in their Beards!!

The session began with the group in battle with the rat-man priest and his two demon lackeys, where they had just finished taking down the other remaining rat-men.

Garth and Uthrag started out holding the demons back in the side corridor with the rat priest behind them, with all others providing ranged attacks. This strategy work just long enough. As by the time attrition brought Garth and Uthrag to unconsciousness, the demons and priest also went down before they could make it out of the hallway.

The final moments in the hallway did have some highlights that deserve a comment. Kuruk charged into the fray, while already badly damaged, and suffered more of the un-holy damage as he administered the healing which allowed Garth the final round of defense. Additionally during the final moments F’Lar delivered an attack with his thrown dagger that confused one demon so much that he turned and swatted his priestly master.

When all the rats were vanquished, and Garth and Uthrag were again upright, the room from where the priest and demons had come was investigated. As they entered, the group saw a strange purple glow emanating from a large mirror that hung on the wall. Solath, F’Lar, and Kuruk determined that the magic mirror was a conduit to another place, probably the plane which the rat demons had come from. This was definitely an item that needed further investigation, and would be taken back to the guild.

Finding a key around the neck of the priest, next led the group to unlock the padlock, and investigate the final area of the rats’ hold. Beyond this door, the group found the large antechamber to the treasury the rats had amassed. Guarding the chamber were five Spitting Lizards. This battle was over much faster than that with the rat-man leadership, and provided some of the night’s best amusement, as F’Lar appropriately named the beasties “Shitting Dragons”, and Kuruk was overly miffed when one of them singed his beard as it spit its acidy goop at the dwarf.

Once beyond these guardians, the group proceeded to the end of the hall and found the door to the treasury. Beyond the door the group saw a large chamber with burlap bags and boxes contained the treasure they hoped to find. Additionally the group saw the metallic sculpture of a large snake, which they had heard was also a guardian to be aware of. As Silvio pumped two arrows into it, the ruby red eyes of the beast flared to life, and it slithered mechanically in their direction. Planning on meeting it halfway, Uthrag charged. However, as Uthrag entered the room a cloud of noxious spores was kicked up. It affected only F’Lar, while Uthrag leaped to land clear of any further fungus. Solath was able to identify the fungus and define its location for the group, as he teleported over the patch. Another great leap by Arjhan brought his axe into play as two chops ended the things non-life.

The evening ended with the group going through the spoils of victory, and laying claim to treasure.

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Does Silvio Ever Draw Fire?

Session began with Arjhan meeting up with the rest of the group after completing his diplomatic duties in the town above. After a short period, the catch-up was complete with the group made aware of activities above, and Arjhan brought up to speed on the details below.

After the reunion, the group proceeded back to the location where they had quietly dropped the sentries in front of the chasm over the subterranean river. As they approached F’Lar saw a rat-man poke his head around the corridor ahead. Garth and Uthrag quickly jumped across the 7’-8’ gap, in order to help others across. This was probably a good thing as both F’Lar and Solath needed the extra aid. After his scare with the jump, F’Lar stealthily approached the corner where he had seen the rat scout, and after hearing nothing peered around the corner, and saw nothing but a long hallway. Then once again he saw the rat down the hall a little ways, as it once again poked its head around a corner and then pulled it back.

F’Lar and the group move down the hall, and once again found the same. The hall was empty, but this time it ended in a door that was partially ajar. Before continuing the pursuit they made sure the only other door, which was secured with a padlock, would not be the source of a flaking attack. It seem now that whatever lay behind the door ahead knew they were there, and as such everyone rushed in to face the defending rats before they had additional time to prepare.

Actions were fairly chaotic as everyone entered the rat leader’s lair, yelling as they pointed out the locations of each defender. The mindset going in was to locate and take down the grenadiers first. Additionally the group did not want to bunch up too much, as not to give area attacks (like the grenades) good targets. Uthrag and Garth charged the two grenadiers, while Silvio kept a constant supply of arrows flying at all the rats in the room. Arjhan moved to block the flow into this room from an attached hallway, while Solath further mired that approach with Grasping Shadows. This idea was wise because it was the direction the rat priest and his pair of demon henchmen were coming from. Kruk and F’Lar continued to work on the other warriors throughout room.

As one of the grenadiers fell Uthrag, leaving the other to Garth, moved to block the demons approach. Garth then followed to allow Arjhan time to withdraw. The session ended with everything other than the demons and priest down, with the battle line drawn at the additional halls entrance to this room on the unconsecrated ground made so by the rat priest. Only Garth and Silvio remain non-bloodied.

And once again Silvio was untouched………

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A Foiled Ambush

The session started with the group pulling out of the rat infested tunnels, to once again smell fresh air and get a rest from the confines of the Dwarven Halls. The real reason for the trip topside was to see if the town could spare a few from the watch to come down and guard their flanks while they ventured deeper into the rat nest. Additionally they were interested in finding if Arjhan was done with his duties as a peacekeeper.

However, as they entered the Mead Hall they found that the sorcerer had been pulled to the other side of town to hedge off hostilities of another uprising, and by all accounts without his work with tongue, the town would be nothing more than smoking ruins by now. The fear installed by the bandit siege, rat kidnappings, and the coming winter had done much to raise the stress levels of everyone in town.

Uther Flint was none too happy to hear the request. However with Arjhan vacant from his duties as group’s front man, the diplomatic role fell on Kuruk and F’Lar. Uthrag and Garth spent the entire time nodding, shaking hands, and smiling as best they could to lend moral support. However, with some mention of the historical significance of the rat threat by Solath, and a warning of the threat that their kind has to the environment and nature by Silvio, Uther finally gave in to their request for a small contingent of men.

With six of the town watch now stationed in the boulder strewn room, guarding their flanks, the group felt safe to venture deeper into the darkness. They noticed that many of the rooms which showed signs of recent rat habitation, had been vacated, As if they were scurrying just ahead, looking for a good spot to defend from. The group did notice one room where the former dwarven statues had been replaced by statues showing the semblance of the rat’s god, the Lurker in the Wastes (this placed Kuruk in a foul mood).

As the group continued to the west they heard sounds of rushing water, and saw sentries guarding the way across a chasm. After F’Lar determined that a number of creatures waited behind a door when Kuruk mention the area would be a perfect place for an ambush, F’Lar and Silvio approached the sentries to take them out quietly, while the rest of the group waited in case the alarm was raised. This attack was perfect, where F’Lar dropped the warrior sentry with two perfected sneak attacks, and Silvio’s arrows and Solath’s magic did in the other three quickly before any alarms got raised.

After that sentry post was dealt with the party turned their attention back to the room holding the would-be rear assault force. The groups attack was done by the numbers and the team took the force down without much problem.

Now with the threat of being flanked literally behind them, they could finally focus on the leaders of this rat nest, and capture any goodies they possessed……

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An Ambush Plan Comes Together

The night began with the group finishing off the search of the three tiered chamber. Finding nothing other than the filth and debris that now covered the once great chamber, the group turned to figuring out the destination reached through each of the doors exiting the third tier of the chamber.

The door exiting to the east led down a short flight of stairs to end in a secret door, which they had unknowingly passed on the way down the corridor leading to the guard post. The door to the west entered a corridor turning north, and dropping down two flights of stairs to end in a secret door. The area on the other side of this secret door was also reached by coming due west from the guard chamber instead of turning into the three tiered room. This new area was later searched fully and will be detailed later.

The only other door, which exited the third tier led to the south. Before entering F’Lar and Silvio determined that something was making noticeable noise from beyond. Knowing this, F’Lar entered quietly to get a better idea of what lay ahead. After a short hall, he had a good view of the filthy L-shaped chamber. Piles of rotting vegetation, animal carcasses and the corpses of a few sentient victims were strewn about the room, filling the air with a fetid putrescence. Worse still, a few of the putrid piles seem to be moving, and as F’Lar watched from his hidden position, he determined that there were swarms of rats in this chamber along with a few dire cousins. Determining that no good could come from a combat in here, the group spiked the door, and trapped them within this un-necessary chamber.

As they spiked the chamber behind them F’Lar and Solath noticed a Rat-man Assassin as he and a companion entered the chamber. This pair was nothing more than scouts sent to find out the about the other missing Rat-men kidnappers. However, after a short chase the two evaded the pursuit, as they had just found the answer to the question and could easily outrun the group.

This pursuit did lead the party back to the new area mentioned above. However, the group lost the two assassins that had passed through this 60-foot long chamber, which was filled with piles of rock and rubble. The way out appeared to be a 20-foot wide passageway in the west wall, which continued into the darkness to the west. Kuruk noticed the unstable rock walls and ceiling, and suggested that this was probably be a good spot for a trap. With help, F’Lar was able to confirm and identify the trigger tripwire for this trapped area, and a safe path past the area along the south wall. Knowing these elements the group devised a plan to move the area of the rock fall so it included the previous safe passage to the south, now leaving the safe way to the north instead.

After setting this trap up the group decided to attempted to lure the rats, that would surely be coming. They set up camp within view of the western-tunnel, waited and watched. During this rest, the watch noticed that rat creatures were grouping near the entrance to the trapped room, not venturing into it …just watching. Whenever those on watch would try to draw a ranged weapon, the rats would fade back into the darkness.

At that the group set into action their plan for an ambush. As Uthrag and Silvio watched and kept the rats at bay, the other four moved around to wait at the secret door that also led to this chamber. When they were sure the other four were in position, Silvio and Uthrag moved back out of sight, and waited. It was not long before the sound of the rock fall alerted all of the rat’s position, and all moved in for the kill.

The combat went fairly well as the rock fall claimed four, and Uthrag and Silvio ended the misery of another three on the eastern side of the room. The other four party members who flanked the rat forces out of the secret door handled the remaining five rats by slowing and hampering them with Solath’s Grasping Shadows, As Garth, F’Lar, and Kuruk blocked for him, while also hammering on the rat flank. The battle ended with one lone rat warrior surrendering before the bow of Silvio, whom only showed mercy long enough to gain knowledge of the rat forces that waited in the darkness to the west. In addition they learned of some ooze horrors that occupied the hall to the north (get out the spikes….another room the group would pass on).

With the promise of mass opposition to the west, it would seem time to gather Arjhan for the assault.

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Can a brother get a saving throw?

With the town watch tripled around the well, the group was allowed to rest up and prepare for an extended foray into the halls on an extermination mission. With the ratman rogues done away with the night before and the watch keyed on the well, the night past without another child disappearing. The light of day however brought renewed tension between the refugees and the townsfolk, and in a move of desperation Uther Flint sought out the group to see if they could also assist with settling tensions around town. With the bulk of group more suited for the physical direct approach, the task fell to Arjhan to show off his diplomatic powers.

With a vow from Arjhan that he would catch up with them, the remainder of the group went about the task of gathering up supplies and gearing up. Then the group descended back into the well to sanitize a little. Passing beyond the trap, and the stairwells where the prior nights combat took place, the group came to the end of the hall where with help from Silvio, F’Lar located and obvious latch to open the secret door. However as they quietly searched, Silvio’s fine elven ears also noticed sounds coming from beyond. The sound he heard told him that beyond the door there were numerous creatures arguing over something.

F’Lar quickly threw the door open and the group rushed in to surprise the Ratmen, who had been interrupted from the dice game they were involved in. As Garth and Uthrag charged in to prevent escape, Solath’s controlling magic worked to slow the startled ratmen. This proved too much for them as Silvio’s arrows pinned several to the wall, and F’Lar and Kuruk worked from the flanks.

With the gaurd post quickly behind them Uthrag scouted ahead in the direction one of the ratmen tried to run toward before Garth’s maul laid him low. Uthrag quickly determined that the signs of passage led to a set of double doors, and the group again quietly approached and prepared to rush in. With F’Lar again pushing open the doors so the rest could take action.

However, beyond this set of doors things were vastly different. An immense chamber, 100 feet deep and 120 feet across at its widest point, was obviously once a dwarven throne hall, judging from the broken statuary and shattered remains of a stone throne that litters the floor. The chamber is accessed via huge double doors in the east, and roughly divided into thirds, with each tier accessible via carved stone steps. The second tier is ten feet higher than the first, and the top tier is another ten feet above that. The room is now used as a common mess hall for the Ratmen. Piles of bones and the refuse of past meals are scattered throughout the once-great hall….along with a great number of Ratmen, who appear none too happy to have been disturbed.

The battle that ensued was highlighted by the group quickly fighting to secure the bottom tier, and moves to block the twin stairwells. They accomplished this with Urthrag moving to block one staircase and Solath’s magic blocking another. This tactic was complicated when the rats, being able to climb well decided not to use the stairwells, and one of the ratmen on the second tier began throwing grenades into the center of the group below. The tide of this lasting battle was turned when this grenade threat was brought down by the combined firepower of both F’Lar and Silvio. Additionally Garth’s deadly maul did wonders from the lead blocking position, and Solath’s magical area assault did the trick on the shock troops.

The one thing that everyone in the group needs to work on drastically is the ability to make a saving throw…..The second battle had six failed saves….

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Good Cop, Bad Cop

Story of Arjhan the Diplomat

“Tensions are high,” Uther Flint was saying, “as might be expected in a situation like this, So many people forced together, fearing for their lives and their families’ safety. I’m afraid there have been a number of…incidents.” Behind Flint, his weasel-faced assistant Samuel blinked at the assembled adventurers.

“Incidents?” said F’lar, eyes brightening.

“Arguments,” clarified Flint. “Accusations of theft, for the most part, as well as the usual social conflicts. Unfortunately, the guards are locals, and do not command the respect they might…also, they have a tendency to become involved.”

“So what’s your point?” asked Uthrag, bored with the mayor’s long-winded ways.

“The point is…well, to be perfectly frank, I was hoping that some of you might be able to help out. You are obviously powerful and competent individuals, and you are quite graciously risking yourself to help us already…I feel that you will command more respect than the town guards, and will not be blinded by familiarity.”

“You do realize,” Solath put in in his precise manner, “that we are about to enter battle against rat-creatures and Corellon-knows-what in the tunnels beneath your town? Don’t interpersonal arguments seem rather less significant?”

Flint nodded but spread his hands. “I agree, but I also fear that I am in the minority. Already there have been several fights; it’s only a matter of time before more blood flows.” Samuel nodded vigorously.

Kuruk nodded as well. “He has a point,” he rumbled. “So, who’s it going to be?” The small group looked at each other, all ready for battle, none relishing the idea of sweet-talking a bunch of angry peasants. F’lar, a slight smile on his face, opened his mouth and started to raise his hand.

“I’ll do it,” Arjhan blurted hastily, the gnome’s version of “diplomacy” in the Fighting Cocks Tavern vivid in his memory. “People tend to listen to me.” He bared sharp teeth in a reptilian smile and fixed the full force of his gaze on Flint. The man swallowed hard, but nodded politely. “Samuel, here, has all the information.” Uther gestured to his assistant, who appeared less than pleased to have Arjhan’s full regard. “He knows everyone in town, and can tell you who was involved and what items were supposedly taken.”

The dragonborn nodded. “Let’s talk, Sammy.”


“It’s the children of that Stormholder fellow,” Tobias Fisk was saying, one hand gesturing expansively. “No blame to the children, of course, but Stormholder is using them, I’m sure of it.”

“How do you know that?” Arjhan asked politely. A wealthy merchant, Fisk was the most vocal of the arguing parties, according to Samuel. The sorcerer took another sip of the mead Fisk had offered him.

“They’re forever scampering about, here and there. Who looks twice at children playing? But that Stormholder, he’s a greedy sort. Always jealous of the good fortune of others, and him with six young ones. Stands to reason.”

“What, exactly, was taken?”

“Small things,” Fisk said. “Jewelry, a silver cup, a jar of peppercorns – nothing tremendously expensive, but all worth at least a few gold. They were thefts of opportunity, I’m sure. You just search that Stormholder place and you’ll find them, I guarantee!”

“Where were these…items kept before they were stolen?”

Fisk waves his hands. “Around here,” he said, indicating the small room. “Various places. What difference does it make? That Stormholder…”

Arjhan nodded, tuning the human’s voice out as he concentrated, senses attuned for any stray wisp of magic. It was unlikely that someone in the small town of Edgecomb would have had the magical skill necessary, but…

There was something. It was faint, just a trace, but magic had been done here recently – or something magical had passed through the area. Arjhan couldn’t make out the details – it was either very weak or very subtle.

Interesting.


“I got nothin’ to say to you,” Alric Stormholder insisted.

Arjhan fixed him with his best reptilian glare. “Are you sure about that, human?”

Stormholder stepped back a pace. “You can’t just come in and push me around! I’ve done nothing wrong!” Arjhan advanced, pushing into the small house. Behind the angry human he could see a table, chairs – and several human children, staring at him curiously.

Arjhan sighed mentally. He wasn’t sure how to handle human young ones, but he was fairly certain that terrifying their father wasn’t a good idea. “I’m just trying to find out what’s going on around here,” he said patiently. “Will you help me avert bloodshed?” Stormholder eyed him suspiciously. “I’m being persecuted, is what’s going on,” he snarled. “Fisk said I was a thief, didn’t he? Well, it wasn’t me. It was the Jonas boys, if you want my opinion”

“Why do you say that?”

“They’re up to no good – everyone knows it. Shiftless layabouts. They stole my best knives, and you march in here and call me a thief!”

“Your best knives?”

The human nodded. “Aye. I make knives, and they took my six best blades.”

“Show me.”

Stormholder lead Arjhan to his workroom, a locked area with dozens of half-finished knives racked along two walls, and dozens of unfamiliar tools along another and scattered on a workbench. Arjhan scanned the room, letting his eyes slip out of focus and ignoring Stormholder’s complaints. It was just possible…

Nothing. Ah, well. Arjhan turned to Sormholder. “Odd that nothing else was taken. Knives are valuable.”

The human shrugged unhelpfully. Arjhan sighed.


The Jonas brothers proved equally unhelpful until Arjhan gave them his best glare and let electricity play between his fingertips. They listed several small thefts and claimed it was a conspiracy on the part of several other people to “make us look bad.” Arjhan was not impressed, but he did find one oddity: a boot-print by the Jonas brothers’ back door. It was partly smudged, and he wished he had Silvio’s tracking skills, but he could clearly make out the general outline. It was broad and short – far too small for a dragonborn, but it looked short even for a human.

Arjhan frowned. It resembled the boot-print of a dwarf or a gnome, but there were none of either race in Edgecomb aside from F’lar and Kuruk. He briefly considered the idea that F’lar was behind it all – it made a certain sense – regretfully decided it was impossible. Most of the stolen items had been taken before the party had even heard of Edgecomb. In fact, Arjhan guess that the recent tensions had been brewing for long before this whole rat-man situation developed.


Arjhan lay on the pallet, mentally exhausted but not tired enough to sleep. He had visited, argued with, intimidated, chatted with, drunk mead with, and been as nice as he knew how, to over a dozen people, and he felt no closer to solving the mystery.

The sorcerer considered. Most of the stolen items had been small, valuable…and hidden. Often hidden among other, similar items, like Alric Stormholder’s knives. The thief has to have known they were there, and what they were. He always took specific items, ignoring other potential prizes nearby. Why?

The thief had to be a local, someone who knew all the victims. He might be a dwarf. He had some sort of magical ability or item – Arjhan had discovered faint traces of magic at four different crime scenes.

And now there was this ridiculous note from F’lar, which were nearly illegible thanks to wet ink smudges and the dampness of the caverns. All Arjhan could make out was something about cheese. He hoped it wasn’t important.


The next morning brought more of the same; Arjhan assured Uther Flint that he was doing his best, then got the necessary information from Samuel – the weaselly little man really did know everything about Edgecomb – and alternately charmed and terrorized more locals. After several hours of this he stopped for lunch and got yet more information on aggrieved parties from Flint’s number-two man.

Samuel really did know everyone in town…

Arjhan fixed his gaze on Samuel as the man walked back towards Flint’s house, letting his vision blur. There! Magic, centered on Samuel’s chest. Illusion magic.

It might mean anything or nothing, so Arjhan did the first thing that occurred to him. Using all his considerable lung-power, he bellowed, “You! Dwarf!”

Several people turned, startled, but the dragonborn ignored them. Samuel, however, whipped around with an expression like a scared rabbit, hand going to his belt knife. He met Arjhan’s eyes, then turned and ran.

Arjahn lunged after him. He discarded his usual tactic of hurling magical lightning or acid bursts; the man was no good to him dead. Samuel had to be captured alive, to prove that Arjhan was right.

He was gaining, his battle-hardened muscles easily a match for the disguised dwarf’s short legs. Samuel glanced over his shoulder; his eyes widened, and he groped in his belt pouch. As Arjhan’s outstretched fingers touched his cloak, Samuel threw a tiny object to the ground.

Dense, opaque fog exploded outward from the impact. Arjhan lost his grip, stumbled, cursed, flailing about in the fog cloud. His hand touched cloth and he grabbed reflexively. Something snapped, and a deep voice cursed. Then there was a shouted word in Draconic – “away” – and the other person was abruptly gone.

Staggering out of the fog, Arjhan cursed in both Common and Draconic as he regarded his prize. It was the distinctive medallion Samuel had always worn, cracked in the dragonborn’s iron grip. A quick examination revealed the aura of illusion-magic about it, fading now that the physical vessel was damaged.

Ignoring the gathering crowds who had seen him chase Samuel into a cloud of fog – and then emerge alone – Arjhan stomped back to Flint’s house and let himself in. The mayor regarded him with apprehension.

Arjhan grinned toothily at him and dropped the medallion on the table before the human. “Your assistant,” he said, “seems to have left to pursue other options.”

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Rats, Rats, Everywhere

The night began with the group recovering in Coppernight Hold and preparing for the trek to Edgecomb to escort the three beat up dwarven captives to safety. When Solath and Arjhan had recovered significantly the next morning, they began the trip. The group made good time traveling cross country from the dig to the main trade route, which they followed west until about noon. At that point the group veered of to the northwest on a less traveled path, which they soon found to be more overgrown then it should have been. After about an hour of travel they came upon a tree which had fallen across the path, and as they approached, a figure stepped out from behind a tree ahead of them. The stranger called for them to stop their advance and pay the toll of their valuables for passage. When the group refused, the ambush was sprung, and the highwaymen tried too extract their payments out of the group. The act was in vain, and left all dead, except the original bandit who managed to flee. Investigation of all bodies revealed only a handful of silver, but also the discovery of a strange tattoo on each, that of a fiendish looking rat. The discovery that this location had been used multiple times for ambushes left the group with an unsettling feeling.

The remainder of the afternoon’s journey was uneventful as the group continued to the northwest along the overgrown path. The group emerged from dense woods to find scattered copses of trees and area that had been used for crops in the past. However each farm house they passed was now a burned out shell with crops long since dead. This type of scenery did not change for the next few hours, until they emerged from a larger copse of trees to find the settlement of Edgecomb ahead, which looked to be more of a shanty town with tents and lean-to structures far more numerous than the permanent structures.

When the group approached the town, they were met by a couple of the watch, who tried to turn them away by saying that the village was not able to accept anymore refugees. When the group explained that they were here to meet with the dwarven merchant Konsor Coppernight, and deliver unto him his nephew and retainers, they were escorted through town to the longhouse where Konsor waited, as a special guest of the village headsman, Uther Flint. As the group moved through the village gaunt, frightened faces peered at them as they passed each villager.

The reunion celebration for the Coppernights was cut brief as the merchant implored the group to help the besieged village. Uther then told the group of the troubles that Edgecomb faced, which included the siege of the village by the outlying bandits, resulting in contact and trade with the outside world being cut off, and the pending overpopulation and possible starvation caused by this. Additionally Uther told of a more troubling problem, where recent events had livestock disappearing, and just over the last two nights, two children had also disappeared.

The group was told that any help they could give would be appreciated, but the village being in the state it was in could not muster any reward other then this gratitude. Being the heroes that they are, the group accepted the job to set things right, and was giver some floor space within the longhouse to use as a command center.

Investigation of the tents where the kids were taken from was of little use, not giving the group any leads other then finding no tracks or any remnants of magic use was left behind. In one case the group discovered that one of the children had disappeared from a room where an entire family slept. The next place that the group thought to investigate before darkness set in was the well in the village circle. They lowered F’lar down and Silvio also descended to help in investigation of the well chamber.

This investigation proved successful, F’lar and Silvio identified a concealed door that led to a hallway of worked stone leading away from the natural rock walled well chamber. As the remainder of the group dropped down to investigate the new findings, F’lar and Silvio searched down the corridor for any traps. Silvio’s assistance was again appreciated, as they found a tripwire, which by all indication probably would trigger a barrage of darts throughout the hall. Solath’s magic illuminated the tripwire to allow it to be seen for safe passage.

With this, the group proceeded down the hall where only the F’lar’s perceptive senses found a group of some type of creatures headed their way from the hallway ahead. F’lar however, tipped them off as well as he tried to distract them. With both sides now aware of the other, combat erupted.

The group quickly found themselves engaged with rat-men assassins, when Solath’s magic illuminated the area to combat the stealthy nature of these opponents. With a well placed flaming sphere spell, and some monstrous hits by Garth to highlight the combat, the group ended the rukus fairly quickly. Uthrag, however, was brought down during the battle by assassins poison only then to be healed by Kurak, who jumped in to stand protectively over his fallen comrade with a healing strike.

Once the culprits had been identified, the group pulled back to the village to rest and prepare for the extermination process which would take place starting in the morning, but until then, a number of town guards would be placed ever watchful around the well…..........

So ends the Session, and the party finally hits second level!

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