Badlands Session #8

Nobody in the party slept well that night, knowing that they smuggled a corpse into the fort. Coming down for early breakfast, Anastasia is greeted by the entire party sitting together, already deep in their cups.

Sketching out a plan, they decide that getting rid of the body as soon as Kharbaram opens up for the day. After a few mugs of strong dwarven ale, the sounds of the town opening up greets their ears.

A page throws open the door, peers across the room, and locks eyes on the adventurers’ and walks directly to them, holding an envelope in his hands.

“You have been summoned by Lord Reyny. You will find him in the tower. It would be in your best interest to not delay. You will need this.”, and hands over a paper envelope.

Galan opens up the envelope, “It only says Lord Reyny – this must be our letter of introduction”.

Deciding to see Lord Reyny before they see Kharbaram, they had to the tower.

The tower is surrounded by a high wall. Two armed solders guard the gate. Seeing through the barred gate, the courtyard is bathed in sunlight. Flowers, shrubs, and children are spotted. You can hear sounds of spring, though outside the courtyard pockets of snow are underfoot. Strange magic indeed.

Galan hands the letter to the approaching guard and presently the adventurer’s are guided into the courtyard toward the main tower.

An older man opens the tower door. He is sharply dressed, older but not frail. He is human, moderate in height. “Welcome! I am Lord Reyny. I do not see many visitors. A bard came through here a few days ago singing of your tales. I had to see for myself. You certainly look capable. I have need for for someone capable & discrete.

Asking to hear about their tales, the party recounts their adventures, mixing truth with some fiction. Morgane attempted to mislead Reyny by saying they were simple pilgrims but Reyny saw through it.

Reyny, satisfied that the party was up to his request, asks them to spy on Kharbaram. “That dwarven company has been stealing from the treasury. He has been smuggling out artifacts. I know it, but have been unable to prove it. He only hires dwarves and kobolds, and I don’t trust either of those.”

“If you spy on Kharbaram, your obligation in taxes will be considered paid in full. All you have to do is provide evidence of his evasion. Capture it on this “- he hands over a clear orb about 3” in diameter – “this will record what the orb sees.”

Discussing among themselves, the adventurers’ decide that it is in their best interest to do what Reyny asks. Galan asks if Reyny has any items that might be good for his request.

Reyny is excited at the idea of trading items and asks for one of his guards to bring the party’s weapons so they may trade, and hands the guard a small bag. After a few minutes, the guard returns. Taking the bag, Reyny pulls weapon, after weapon from this small white bag. Gwan, jaw hanging, is fascinated by how big items can come out of the small bag.

“Finally!” – the scene on the table is a dozen plus weapons of all shapes and sizes. Bartering no trades were to be made.

“I haven’t seen one of those in many generations!” Reyny excited proclaims a his thin fingers wrap around the small toy horse.

“Have you used this? I haven’t seen one of these since I was a small child”

Anastasia sheepishly responds that they know it is magical but not its purpose.

“Come outside, using this inside is not advisable”, and walks toward the door, gesturing for all to follow.

Muttering a single word into his cupped hands, he places the toy horse on the ground. Right before their eyes, the horse expands in size until the back of the horse is taller than 4 elves. The small horse expanded several times over in all aspects – the small wooden horse now is a large wooden toy horse.

Muttering a word into his cupped hands again, Reyny flicked his fingers at the toy, and it shrinks to the original small size.

“I love to hear about adventures. I pay top coin for my monster collection. Bring me live animals, dead animals, parts, or even descriptions of strange beasts. I am creating a compendium of beasts. You look like you could fill out a few pages for me. Alas, I have a work to do, please excuse me”, Reyny nods to each in the party, and gestures for the guards to escort you out of the courtyard.

Remembering that they still have a dead Locke to deal with, Morgane heads to the taverns’ cellar/basement to fetch the cart and corpse, meeting the rest of the party at Kharbaram’s.

“Aye, that is my cousin, Locke. I never liked him much. Telling my wife that her cousin is dead… I do not look forward to tonight and tellin’ her.” – Kharbaram grumbles. “You did find my cousin, but I need to know what’s inside. Gold, gems, artifacts, I have lots of cousins.” (you notice that when he talks of gold, his eyes sparkle like gems themselves).

Reluctantly, the adventurers head back to the cave, warned about the Benar Brothers. Being escorted with their weapons to the town entrance, Galan works his charm, and beguiles the guard out of the magical bag that held their weapons.

“This town has a lot of factions – I miss the simple life – knowing how are your friends and who are your enemies. I don’t trust Kharbaram, and I certainly do not trust Reyny” – Sebastian frustratedly spits out as he carefully avoids the ice along the path.

Arriving at the entrance to the mine, the party finds evidence of another group ahead.

Venturing inside, the party checks for those creatures that would attack from above. Avoiding these, they make it to the inner door – pushed open a few feet.

Inside the cavern is massive. There are carved paths into the side of the cavern. The cavern has a very high ceiling, so high that the top cannot be made out. Looking down over the edge, lava occupies the bottom.

Hearing noise ahead, the party runs into a group of dwarves, around a bleeding dwarf.

“Who are you??!”, one of the dwarves barks out, holding up a mining pick menacingly.

“We are the backup. (coughing into her hand to disguise the name) Binar thought you could use some security” – Morgane offers to the miners.

“Ah yes, I seem to remember they were going to send backup. We expected you in about a week – glad you are here. We are miners, not fighters. “

Moving ahead of the dwarves, the adventurers are surprised by long cave worms with four tendrils that pull their prey into their mouth.

Anastasia almost lost her life as two cave worms each grabbed an arm, trying to pull the tiny halfling into their awaiting mouth. She barely escapes with her life. Her arms to this day, still bear the scars of the cave worm attack.

Quaffing a few healing potions Anastasia, feeling refreshed, scouts ahead. She is rewarded with niches carved into rough rock wall – finding several gems, and a black metal kris with a ruby in the pommel. Galan puts all the treasure into his newly acquired bag. The bag seems to always have room in it.

A large solid golden statue is the reward for clearing out of room of large beetles. Anastasia pulls out the orb and attempting to document the treasures by holding it above her head. The miners look at Anastasia with great distrust, as she performs this bizarre act.

“Hmm… I should work this into a costume to be more discrete”, Anastasia whispers into Sebastian’s ear.

The adventures work their way further deep, following the carved rock paths. Meanwhile the miners head to the top of the entrance, preventing being flanked. The air is hot, the smell of sulfur is strong as they push deeper in. Scouting movement, Anastasia reports that there are several creatures, taller than a human, with white eyes, holding axes.

Unfortunately, Galan was detected, and many Grimlocks poured to find their meal. Between the dwarves warning the party about the grimlocks coming from top, and Anastasia’s Wand of Magic Missiles, the grimlocks are put down.

Investigating the very bottom of the lava, there is an island in the center of the lava with what looks a golden statue of a dwarf, larger than life 3-4x larger than a dwarf. The golden statue is holding a book and a hammer.

Unable to get to the gold statue, the party heads back to the entrance.

Morgane offers a plan to the miners, breaking bread with with them. Unbeknownst to the dwarves, Morgane cast Putrify Food, causing the dwarves to have digestion issues. The dwarves, unable to ride back to Fort Noscar stay behind as the party heads back to town.

Badlands Session #7

Determined to find someone that might know about the black shiny rock that seem so important to the cultists and their use of the undead, the party decides to try the blacksmith.

The dwarven blacksmith, taken back by the number of humans in the party, manages to get out a salutation. Being nice to all, he takes a look at the rock, rocks it back and forth, even taps on it with his hammer.

“Never seen anything like it before – it feels nice in your hands though. If I were you, I would ask Kharbaram – he runs the Kharbaram & Sons mining company. They have been mining here several centuries – if it comes from here, I’d wage an ale or two that they know about it.”

Morgane leaves a gold piece for his time, and everyone heads down the street as per the directions by the smith.

Kharbaram & Sons has a small sign out front – two hammers crossed like an x. It is very dwarf looking. The building is made out of the same rock as the walls – very smooth and pale. This is the nicest building on the street. Everything is of highest quality – not gaudy – just high quality.

Morgane just barely misses thumping her head on the door frame as she enters the building. Initial conversation with the secretary did not lead to progress. As luck would have it, Kharbaram himself, hearing talk of gold, came from the rear of the office.

Upon seeing the hunk of rock, Kharbaram’s face goes pale – a rare feat for a dwarf.

“I don’t want to talk about it. If I were ye’ I would toss that rock off the side of the mountain and be done wit it.” – Kharbaram grimly grumbles.

Wanting answers about this rock, Anastasia asks if they may do something for Kharbaram to earn his trust. Stroking his beard for a few moments, Kharbaram says that he is missing a scouting party. Agreeing finding the party, Kharbaram fills them in what he knows about the missing scouting party.

“You see, up here, you lease plots of land to mine. Most of the good veins have been tapped out, but there is still good money to be made in the mining business. The real money though… the real money is in artifacts. There must have been a dwarven city long forgotten under these mountains. I have been here 200 years – I have never even heard about a dwarven city in this area. Regardless – sometimes if the Ancient ones cast favor upon you – you find an old dwarven tunnel. I have found old dwarven ruins. I have pulled treasure out – gems, gold, sometimes weapons. Maybe I shouldn’t be plundering from my ancestors. But I sleep well enough at night. ” – Kharbaram mutters. You can see bits of breakfast, embedded in his fiery red beard.

“My cousin, Locke, leads my surveying team. We are looking into a plot of land to lease. There is no good way to get to this land without cutting through Binar’s land. We came into some knowledge about an entrance marked by dwarven-like runes. I sent Locke to investigate. I expected him back days ago. The bidding ends Monday morning – sunrise. I don’t really miss Locke to be honest, but I don’t want to waste my money on bidding on a mountain of regular rock. I tell you what – if you find Locke and investigate the entrance, letting me know if I should bid, I might be trust ye’ a bit more. Maybe a few good ales I might tell ye’ about that rock ye’ holden. “

Agreeing to his terms, the party is handed a surveying sketch, including parcel boundaries. Drawing his finger along a dotted line, he emphatically states that this is Benar Brothers’ land. Trespassing is heavily punished. Spying is a capital crime. If caught, Kharbaram will not come to your aid stating that you would be better off on your own.

Informing Gwan and Sebastian to meet them on the eastern gate, they head out – following the map. Along the trail crudely marked into the sketch, they encounter a party of dwarves fighting an monster they had only heard of before. The spider was nearly translucent – as if crafted with ice. The height with all legs on the ground is nearly 10 feet tall. Thin icy legs are accented with razor sharp barbs along the tips. Two dwarves are entombed in icy webs, frozen solid.

Wading into combat cautious, the party watches the two sides fight to the death. Both parties take heavy amounts of damage – legs broken off, dwarves bitten and slowly freezing solid.

Coming to the aid of the dwarves, the ice spider is put down with significant amounts of magic deployed. Anastasia deployed her recently found Wand of Magic Missiles with great skill – blowing off legs with each use of the wand.

The sole survivor of the dwarven party explains that their employer, the Benar Brothers had heard rumors of trespassing. They had been sent here to investigate. Not used to combat, combined with the loss of his team, the dwarf excuses himself from the scene and rides home.

Wanting to make use of the daylight, the party pushes forward. Around a bend of they encounter a mother wolf and her two pups feeding upon a corpse. Galan scales the rocky cliff above the feeding beasts. Visualizing a very successful attack in his mind, he drops from above, pinning the mother wolf to the ground – driving his sword through the back and spiking it to the ground. The baby pups, hearing their mother’s back break, flee. The party is able to pick off one of the pups.

The corpse is indeed dwarf – the size confirms it. The body is badly damaged, and no distinguishing features remain. Amid the carnage are a few broken crates. Sifting through the debris you find the stamped Kharotum & Brother’s crossed hammers on a crate panel.

Pushing deeper into the mountain, behind some very precarious paths, the mountain yields an entrance. The opening is framed in fitted stone with dwarven looking runes carved into all around. The door is constructed out of tightly fitted stone banded with thick black iron. The door is open.

Inside is a large room with a black and white checkerboard floor. The stonework is very high quality. Across the floor is a dwarf pinned to the floor by some rock. Large pillars line the room. Moving farther in, you see another dwarf slumped over dead, his head crushed in by falling rock.

Morgane notices a falling rock detach from the ceiling and fall right towards Anastasia’s head. “Heads up! MOVE Anastasia! – she belts out.

Unfortunately the warning came too late, as a large rock detaches and lands squarely on her shoulder, causing considerable pain. Looking up, the ceiling is covered with these rock creatures – a few of them have “eyes” that open up, and detach, hoping to digest a meal.

Avoiding them, at the end of the room is a slumped over dwarf, lying in a dark red pool. Working their way over carefully, avoiding ceiling monsters, they get to the dwarf. He lies slumped against thick iron doors. His chest has a large deep cut, through the rib cage. A backpack near the dwarf holds a journal with the name Locke written on the spine. There are also business receipts for Kharbaram and Sons.

Assuming this is Locke, they load the body into a cart, and head back to the fort. Along the way, they encounter some ice covered devil looking creatures. Rumor has it that ice devils guard treasure so the party decided to take their chances.

The ice devils put up a great challenge but overcome. Searching the area, Anastasia finds a hole in the rock angled down. Being brave, she reaches into the hole, prepared for the worst. Instead she is rewarded it is a short blackened spear.

Guided by the clear moonlight, the party make it back to the fort without further encounters. Being still wound up, the party go towards the nearest bar.

The party stashes the body in the back in the cellar, and go to sleep, prepared to deal with Kharbaram in the morning.

Badlands Session #6

The party is found deep into their cups at the tavern. A lyrical note catches the ears of the patrons. For a few copper, the bard sings the tale of the party – perhaps a little inappropriate given the losses everyone has taken recently.

Noticing a new face in the tavern, Anastasia heads over with a mug of ale, and offers it to the stranger.

“My name is Nitsuj. I am a healer. I am just traveling through and stopped here for the night.”

“Your clothes are very distinctive. I could tell you weren’t from around here. Just be warned, we have been fighting the undead. This area is not safe.”, Anastasia warns, the words delivered with sadness. “We are adventurers ourselves. You are welcome to join us. A healer is always welcome – consider joining us. The Anointed One has fated our paths to cross. A blessing indeed! “

“I come from the desert, heading west.”, Nitsuj quietly replies, rubbing his chin between sips of ale. “I will join you.”

Everyone heads to their bed with the plan of meeting with Brother Godwinn at first light.

Unfortunately, Brother Godwinn could provide no additional guidance, despite days of fasting and prayer. Nor had he heard word from Arwel. Frustrated, Godwinn sits in the nearest pew, landing heavy. Apoqulis declares that he will stay and dutifully help the town. “There are few seasoned warriors left. My vows require me to defend the weak. I will remain here, putting my experience to good use. Rest assured, we will share a keg of good Dwarven upon your return! “.

After weighing their options, the party decides they will head to Noscar Fort, home to a dwarven mining company. Dwarves might know where the black glittery rock comes from.

Riding west upon the hard packed dirt road in a wagon stocked and provided by Apoqulis. Gwan, typical dwarf, threw a tantrum until he was allowed to ride in the wagon. The rest of the party take turns riding horses, or relaxing in the wagon until it sun starts to set. Sparkles of lights twinkle in the far distance. “That must be Cadon!”, notes Sebastian, as he points to the map.

Not wanting to risk riding into a town late at night, the party camps for the night just off the road. All through the night, the party felt like they were being watched, but other than the feeling, they could see or hear nothing out of the ordinary.

At first dawn, it is discovered that a sack of food has been stolen from the wagon – a few cat like prints left in the mud. The foot prints head toward the treeline where the the trail is lost.

As the party starts toward the town, a rider is spotted riding toward them. Pleasantries exchanged, the party is informed that the hamlet ahead is indeed Cadon. Asked about the undead, the man chuckled at the idea that the undead were real and not just scary stories. When told that they were indeed real, the man nearly fell off his horse. Pointing down the road toward town, he excitedly blurts out, “We are going to have a stoning today! I am really sad I am going to miss it, but I have to get to Old Morgansfort. We have the murderers chained in the city, if you hurry you can throw a stone or two.”

Telling the man that Old Morgansfort is under undead siege, the man turns around and rides back to town, offering the party conversation.

Dropping the party off at the mayor’s house – Iden Artys greets the party warily asking if the party are pilgrims heading to Noscar Fort. Eventually the conversation leads to the chained human teenage, and older woman in the center of the town.

“They are being held for trial. They are charged with the murder of their neighbor’s farmhand, Galius. As local law dictates, they will be tried, judged, and punishment rendered. The trial starts very soon, stick around if you want to see the fate of these two.” – Mayor Artys gleefully says.

Asking about the parliamentary procedures, the party declares they will represent the charged, Marget, and her son Kendon. They quickly investigate the assumed murder scene, and Galius’ house.

Upon the trial start, 3 people are elected to the jury by drawing stones. The prosecutor makes a convincing case. Anastasia equally delivers a convincing case. During the trial, Morgane perceives that Kendon is hiding something. Casting command, she compels Kendon to tell the truth – whatever the consequences could be.

Kendon, eyes glazed over, admits to killing Galius. He had discovered that her mother and Galius had been having an affair, disgracing the family name.

Anastasia successfully argues that Kendon be sentenced to conscription in the defense of Old Morgansfort.

Continuing west, the terrain gains elevation, forcing the party to leave the wagon by the side of the road. Hearing children’s voices, and a yipping off road, Anastasia sneaks over to investigate. She sees several children throwing stones and sticks at a kobold. A bear trap’s teeth are dug deep into the thigh of the adolescent kobold’s leg. Anastasia, pitying the creature, springs out from behind the log, screaming at the children. Scared, the children flee into the tree line and disappear from sight.

Gwan heads over to the sound, sees the trapped kobald and reads his mace to finish off the creature. Anastasia yells at him to stop, and reaches down, and releases the trap, pulling his damaged leg clear of the teeth. Anastasia asks Morgane to heal the kobold. Morgane’s hand glows as she touches the wound. Instantly the damaged leg, rejuvenates.

“Klip Kip”, the kobald yips out, hands beating against his chest. Pointing at Anastasia – “Master, you master”, and runs over and wraps his arms around Anastasia’s legs.

“You have a pet now! Good luck with that flea infested beast!”, Gwan roars with delight. Anastasia retorts that a flea infested kobald is still cleaner than a dwarf. After several grueling hours of hiking on foot they come across a dwarf talking to a group of pilgrims, wearing orange and red robe over their coats.

“10 silver each, or you take the long way.. very treacherous. Icy. Very dangerous. Your choice”, the dwarf tells the pilgrims. The pilgrims, plead that they they have no money, and head the more dangerous way, heads hung.

Bargaining with the dwarf to allow them passage across the bridge, as well as stable their horses, the party agrees. Crossing the bridge, they look down and can see tattered orange and red material embedded partially in the ice – dangerous path indeed.

Noscar Fort’s smooth stone walls come into view. The walls look to be 10 to 12 feet tall. The smoothness of the stone combined with the cold would make scaling them near impossible. This is a very defensible fort. A greeting party marches out to greet them.

“Hate to tell you folks but no weapons are allowed in the fort. Period. You can check them in the guard house. Or you can stay out here. Either way, no weapons in the fort.

It would be wise of you to steer clear of the dwarves. They are an unfriendly bunch, especially when drunk. No fighting. I warned you. “

Not wanting to leave their weapons with the captain of the guard, the party leaves Gwan, Klip Kip, and Sebastian outside. Exploring the fort, the party finds the Temple of St. Rodin, patron saint of miners. Heading to the market, they sell their furs, and buy warmer gear for the elements.