Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Played by a Girl

The party rescues someone that needed no rescuing

Not so long ago, a tale was regaled, not once, but twice, in two different towns, and in two very different ways.

In a crowded bar in Hammerfest:

Jardil the Bard waited for the crowd to quiet. He had played the town enough to know that his presence was wanted. Strumming his lute he surveyed the room as eyes were turned to focus on him. Pausing for effect, he returned the expectant gazes, and then began the song of the evening; a new song just completed yestermorn.

At the same time, in a lavish lacy bedroom, miles away in the small town of Fallcrest:

She smiled, an evil smile, while looking at her friends. “C’mon, tell us how you did it!” “Yeah, we heard of them, they are heroes, not some local grunts you can have tossed out with the trash.”

She leaned forward and spoke in a soft voice, despite knowing no one could overhear, “Heroes are too predictable. Well usually, as you know things did not work out as I had planned.” She shakes her head, and then continues, “As soon as I saw them I knew it was time to release him, to finally see him in the flesh.” At the mention of the word ‘flesh’, all three girls giggled.

“OK, so as you know he said he needed some people to feed on when I release him, and I really really wanted to release him.”

Hammerfest:

Jardil started singing:

Eight there was one beautiful morn
A dwarf, four more and three dragonborn
Good deeds the group had bravely done
Prisoners rescued, nine plus one

Fallcrest:

“I didn’t want to use locals, I might get caught too easily, so there I was, in the bar, when this group marches in spouting stories of how brave they are. I gave old Bollo 10 gold to tell my daddy I had been taken, then hid just outside the cave entrance. When they came near I scurried to his chamber and waited. Henry was still there in the passage, as dead as I left him, so I knew no one had been there in a couple days. I could hear them when they approached, talking all about that Balemirth dwarf guy; so I tied myself to the pillars.”

“Couldn’t they tell you tied the ropes yourself?”

Elena scoffed, “I’ve practiced self tying, it might have other uses as well; but with these idiots, it didn’t matter. It took them forever to see me; they were gawking at his energy sphere and lens prison, and the orc statues around the room. Oh yeah, those orcs were not so much just statues; that kind of scared me a little, but I’ll get to that. The really weird part is that after I called out, ‘Help me, please, I’m over here’ this girl appears out of nowhere, next to the sphere, and she already knows the party. But I can feel him calling to me, so I play dumb so they come cut the ropes. Then I jumped into one of the beams and throw the dust, blocking all vision, just as he told me. It worked, and there he was, larger than life.”

Hammerfest:

In rushes a gentleman, the rich Mr. Goodright
Kidnapped was his daughter, in the bright sunlight
Down into the cave, the party did go
Hunting for clues, both high and low
Over a dead man the wizard almost did trip
From him was taken his hat and his whip

Through closed doors, a huge room was found
Inside was sparkling energy, large and round
The girl could be heard, from the other side
Calling for help, trussed up and tied
The sorceress, by magic, becomes more than one
The girl cut loose, and the party ready to run

Just sixteen years old, she was under a spell
Trying to release a demon, she knew not well
Focused beams of light the girl did break
Blocked sight of the sphere, the thrown dust did make
The sphere did burst and thus no longer did bind
A monster, a flayer, of body and mind

Fallcrest:

“What did he look like?”

“He was beautiful, but not human, he had these long strong things on his face and he just radiated power. I needed him to feed so we could be together. His power filled the room, the orc statues actually started coming to life because of it. He sent a beam of energy toward one of their girls; I wanted to feel his power so I stepped forward to catch part of the beam. I cannot describe the feeling, so much mental energy surged into me that I was left dazed; I wonder if the feeling is anything like that other is supposed to be.”

“Wow, that sounds wonderful!’

“It was. I moved toward the pretty girl, to grab her for him, but then those horrid people started blasting and magic was flying everywhere. That little tramp that cut me loose created this ball of fire and before I knew it, he was gone; dead.”

Hammerfest:

The wizard was dazed as the flayer attacked
The paladin fought back, massive damage was stacked
Sorceress two set the monster ablaze
While the other cut him down with colourful rays
One ball of fire, set floating near his head
Was enough to ensure the creature was dead

Fallcrest:

“Oh Elena, that must have been horrible for you!”

“It was, but then the orcs all burst to life and I figured at least I could help them avenge him. I tried to jump the chasm to join them, but slipped and fell into the pit. Before I could regain my feet, I was blasted by that redhead and knocked unconscious. I woke to find literally piles of dead orcs in the pit with me, and the cleric standing over me. Since they were able to defeat him and all those orcs I figured they were more powerful than I first guessed. I went back with them until I could see daddy.”

Hammerfest:

The statues, all fifty, then started to move
But worthy in combat the party did prove
Divine Glow, Dragon Breath and Fireball
It was all too much, the orcs started to fall

Many did die, those with no wit
Throwing themselves into the deep pit
The girl was rescued and healed up fine
The orcs were dispatched and the party was nine

Fallcrest:

One of the other girls laughed, “Yeah, we know what happened then, that was brilliant Elena!”

“It was all going to be so easy, ‘Daddy, they attacked me’, bat my eyes and have them forced out of the pub empty handed. But then that evil cleric blasted my father, in broad daylight, in a public building. Sure he then healed him, but seriously, how evil can one person be to kill another like that over a few gold pieces. I cried a bit more and the next thing I know that group was run out of town and daddy was lavishing me with more jewelry to ‘help me forget the horror.’ Ha!” Elena fingered a ruby hanging on a slender silver chain around her neck.

The quiet girl spoke up, ‘Oh Elena, you are so wickedly delicious. I wish I had the courage to try what you do.” Elena smiled her evil smile again, then all the girls burst into another round of laughter.

Hammerfest:

Back to the pub to collect their fine gold
But a tale of bad deeds from the girl was told
No gold was given, the father had lied
A blast from the cleric, he fell down and died
No justice was done that fateful day
The party was banished and sent on their way

Good deeds are still done, and noble ones too
Despite danger to life the party fights true
Never think once that the group is not good
Against evil they stand, with metal and wood
With magic and bravery they have always won
My ode to these warriors now is finally done

When the song ended, Tira looked around the table, unsure if they were able to tell she was a girl in the ballad, twice. “So what happened next?” The question put to rest any doubt Tira had about her anonymity.

Tira recounted the story yet again, “From there we traveled to Kengistan, the massive military dragonborn city. I have never seen such a place, every being was proud and ready to fight, yet they all had nobility and compassion. Feldegar and Monara, the ruling couple of Kengistan welcomed us, yet not more than a few minutes after we arrived, our good friends Felsmon and Z’alden were sent away on a mission. We were not allowed to go with them and barely had time to say goodbye.” Tira sighed, “I really missed them, I barely had time to get to know them again after rejoining the party when they were sent away.”

Tira continued, “In Felsmon’s place, another dragonborn joined us, Torrock, a shaman with a spirit familiar. I had never seen a familiar in battle and was anxious for the experience. Feldegar charged us with a quest, which we all accepted. The gold dragon Aurumendor has been missing for half a year. His presence at the next hatching, in 3 weeks, is of the utmost importance. We were told of the Brotherhood of the Crescent Moon, a band of mountain goblins living to the south of Kengistan and of a darkness descending over the hated neighbouring region of Nerrakis. We were told to seek out Captain Revince in Fort Dolor for more information, and that is just what we did.”

Comments

While in Kendistar, the capital of Kengistan

After the long, late-night conversation with Normander, Feldegar and Monara’s Vizier, the group had been led to small but adequate individual rooms on the other side of the massive Yurtba, the mobile hall and keep of the Kengi. The Yurtba was quiet throughout the night, the beds were soft and clean, and sleep came easily to most of the party.

When you awaken the next morning, a pair of kobold servants is knocking on each door. “A break fast has been prepared for you before you depart,” one carrying hot water says in common. The other has towels and a rough-smelling, abrasive soap.

In the main hall, Feldegar and Normander, sit waiting at a large table laden with steaming flagons of warm wines and ales, and heaps of pork and lamb meat, cheeses, fresh hearty breads, and mounds of dried fruit. Ten dragonborn warriors silently stand at attention lining each side of the hall. Next to Feldegar sits another dragonborn warrior, this one with small golden metallic wing decorations on shoulders. He looks deshelved, with a streak of caked blood across his face. He sits animatedly talking to the Tarkhaan.

As you approach, even without strong Perception, all can hear what sounds like an argument, “As War Chief, I protest this decision, Feldegar. To Dis with the treaty! I have said this before, and I say it again. If Normander can see some shadow that threatens us from the south, a legion of Kengi should confront it. The Brotherhood are moving in Kengistan. My patrol killed at least seven while several escaped. They have not dared this in 30 years! We should confront whatever has put those goblin slugs on the move.”

Feldegar snarls, “Be still. We will honor the treaty. I have made my decision.”

Seeing your approach, Feldegar stands. This time, he is clothed more simply in a ruddy scale mail with a tabard of a golden dragon. The dragonwing circlet of a crown is around his head.

He turns to you formally, and somewhat stiffly, saying, “New friends of Kengi, this is Otelaman, War Chief of the Kengi. He and his finest warriors have just returned from a mission making your way safer. He reports having killed seven of the mountain goblins but some have escaped. So, be cautious and aware of treachery from the Brotherhood of the Crescent Moon. They seem to be moving northward for the first time in years. We will swat them like the mosquitoes they are whenever they venture into Kengistan.”

Feldegar introduces each of you and Otelaman directs to each of you a bow, saying “May your blade be sharp and swift against all foes”. It is evident that this ritual greeting is being said with a true blessing intended and no hint of malice.

Feldegar stands and says, “I must go and join Monara at the prayers for our Clan and its future. Please enjoy our humble table before you depart. I wish you the greatest fortune in your mission. I will anxiously await your swift return.” He leaves the Hall and sixteen of the warriors fall in behind him.

What do you do?

Played by a Girl
 

Rift turns to the party. “Let us be off!” We borrow a wagon, load up on a bunch of general “goods”, food, and water. Then we set off.

Rift carefully scans the sky, watching out for that scary fat red-skinned creature that we spotted so long ago. Are there any flying wingless beasts about?

Played by a Girl
 

Your horses are outside waiting for you, with tack and food. Otelaman instructs 4 kobolds to get you whatever provisions you require.

DM: Who is driving the cart? Who is riding a horse? What is your order and arrangement down the 2 staff wide road from Kendistar? What is your order and arrangement on the 3 staff wide Trader’s Road?

No flying beasts mar the cold Spring sky.

Played by a Girl
 

Torrock says, “Let us be off imedeatly I woul like too ride a horse

Played by a Girl
 

Rift says, “We are posing as merchants from Hammerfast, correct?”

“Then, I would suggest that Barrick and Erik drive the cart. Erik looks the most normal of all of us. Barrick can be the brilliant, shrewd dwarf merchant from Hammerfast. Tira, Torrock, and I can play the part of guards for the illustrious merchant.”

We also instruct the kobolds to get us extra food and water, in case the cart breaks down. And we would like some high-quality winter cloaks and hats, both in case it gets cold, and to cover up some of our adventuring equipment.

“Tira, Erik, or Barrick, can you think of anything else?”

Played by a Girl
 

Just as the kobolds are scurrying away to carry out your request, Normander the Vizier comes over to the party. “Cloaks, what need have you of extra cloaks? Tarps will cover your goods for your ruse. Kobolds, get them leather tarps. My weather spiders foretell some Spring cold but nothing more than an annoyance.”

The group wonders at the veracity of this information. Last night, several of you had a sense of unease that Normander might be lying when he related how he had killed some defective dragonborn hatchlings called dracomen at a defective hatching 31 years ago. You remember his saying, “More like dragons than dragonborn and pure evil, so they must be slain immediately, which I did, just as Feldegar and Kengi law commanded me to do.”

No one can detect anything false behind this weather statement.

“Ha!” says Otelaman, who had stayed to oversee your departure. His frame and stern look at Normander betray a range of differences with the Vizier. Otelaman appears to wear his feelings on his wings. “The last set of spiders you put on the web promised me fair weather, and a torrent descended upon us. I lost two drakes from the slickness.”

He looks towards the adventurers and says, “Take no stock in the fortune telling of this weather wizard. Kobolds, get each a scale cloak to guard against a spring blizzard. And, if you are stuck in a storm and still far from Fort Dolor, the Dwarf Dhuri Oteyman keeps the Hammerhold Inn for traveler’s on the Trade Road. Her prices are high to anyone but dwarves from Hammerfast, but the stone inn is warm. She has long been a friend of the Kengi.”

He pauses, and then reaches into a sack and approaches Tira saying, “I almost had forgotten. Just as my company arrived, we met Talakahn Felsmon’s party departing. The cleric of Bahamut handed me this sack to give to you. He said that, despite its appearance, it would hold some sentimental value for you.”

Otelaman hands Tira an ordinary-looking small sack. She immediately recognizes it as the Bag of Holding which she had given to Z’alden upon her own departure to find her inheritance. When Tira has a chance to look inside it, she finds a hand-crossbow, five crossbow bolts, 12 arrows, the Shroud of Revival, the ruby spectacles of written language comprehension, and the magic +1 Rending Axe.

The four kobolds return about 30 minutes later with hand carts full of the materials and goods that you requested. 3 kegs of ale, 6 kegs of water, 3 boxes of 2 cubic feet of dried meat. A fifth kobold, a little taller and more golden colored than the others, carries 5 cloaks. The cloaks are a ruddy color made of a light material, not at all what Rift was expecting. They appear to be made from the scales of something akin to those of the large reddish drakes you have seen around Kendistar. This larger kobold looks somewhat ashamedly at Barrick and says, “We had nothing to fit you. I made an alteration”. The cloak he hands to Barrick has some rope around the bottom tying up what would be much too long otherwise.

DM: The scale cloaks will give a +2 to an Endurance check against severe weather or prolonged exposure to cold.

Oteleman says, “You appear settled and ready. We will escort you to within 2 miles of the Traders Road. You would not want to be seen with us to protect your ruse. Are you ready to depart?”

Played by a Girl
 

DM: What type of damage does Tira’s Wild Soul resist today?

Played by a Girl
 

She thanks the kobolds, reflecting on the events of the recent past that have changed kobolds from animals to be killed to trusted servents. Wondering what the future will hold, she grins and proclaims, “I have no knowledge of what lies ahead; let us be off!”

Tira currently has resist 5 to Thunder damage

Played by a Girl
 

The party sets off with their Kengi escort. On drakes, Otelaman and five dragonborn warriors ride in front of the party, and five ride behind. Erik and Barrick ride in the cart being pulled by two horses. Tira, Rift, and Torrock ride alongside. The Kengi do not seem to bristle at the walking pace of the cart. A warm south wind seems to bode well for the Vizier’s forecast of good weather.

About midday, the War Chief Otelaman stops. “We are near the Trader’s Road. While most traders wait until Spring is well set in the mountains, we should be cautious.”

Rather ceremoniously he raises himself up in his horse, fully extends his left hand high above his head and splays his four fingers. He says, “Until we meet again, may your foes know fear at the sight of your face and not joy at the sight of your back.” He looks at each you, makes the fist salute and rides back towards Kendistar with the rest of the escort.

The party travels to the crossroads. Erik’s ranger skills can tell that no one has passed in the last day.

To the left and west is the way to Fort Dolor. To the right and east is the way back to Hammerfast. The area is sparsely wooded and rocky. It is just past midday.

What do you do?

Played by a Girl
 

Erik practices looking normal, and in a faux-fawning voice says to Barrick, “Master Barrick, oh what shall we do? To the left or to the right? With all this bumpity bumpity of the cart, I dear say I have lost my bearings.” Further heightening the risk of the dwarfs wrath, he grins and pokes Barrick in the ribs, though not even getting near them.

“Perhaps a short break here at the crossroads,” Erik says in his more usual serious tone.

[DM: Were we traveling south? Are we still up high in the mountains and the road to Fort Dolor will descend through foothills? What is the immediate and expected terrain like (forested, narrow canyons, etc.)?]

Played by a Girl
 

Tira moves behind Erik and speaks loudly, “But Erik, why ask Barrick, I thought you said he could not direct himself off a dented shield whilst above ground?” Tira jumps back laughing, just in case either friend misinterprets her jest.

When sure that everyone is calm, she speaks again, “Unless we spy goblin tracks, I see no reason why we should not continue on to Fort Dolor as planned.”

Played by a Girl
 

Following Tira’s direction, the party turns left at the crossroads, towards Fort Dolor, completing their southern route from Kendistar. The terrain is mountainous with forests of pine and cedar, and oak, ash, and birch. Canyons are rare from the Trader’s Road, it is a wide, well-worn path. Occasionally, the rare wolfwood can be seen, with some just-budding white-fanged flowers. Erik remembers the old legend that “fanged white means winter’s bite.” The tree can either have yellow or white-fanged flowers and the white portends an extended winter.

Just a few hours later, a cold north wind begins to blow, biting into the party. But, the air is dry and no snow falls. Gathering the scale cloaks around wards off the wind, and the party endures.

The Road changes from dirt to well-placed stone. The Road comes to a massive stone bridge crossing a chasm. The bridge is at least 200 staff lengths across, with multiple arches descending to a small river below. On each side is an arch as wide as the 15 foot road and spanning up to 20 feet. On the arches keystone, Tira, Barrick, Erik, and Rift recognize the sigil of Baelmirth, the master dwarven craftsmen, and Barrick reads the Dwarven inscription on the arch

For the free passage of the Dwarven clans, Chief Bonderstrong dedicates this bridge in the 100th year of his rein

As you cross the excellent bridge, the sun is starting to duck behind the mountains. Just past the bridge, a stout stone building at least 10 staff lengths across and 4 staff lengths high, can be seen up a broad path to the right, south of the Road. The hint of wood-smelling smoke hangs in the air. Around the building, near the ground, light smoke can be seen in the rays of light peeking between the mountains.

The north wind lets up just as the party crosses the bridge.

Based on your slower rate of travel with a cart, you estimate another full day’s journey remains to Fort Dolor.

Do you want to continue through the night, make a camp, or investigate the building?

Played by a Girl
 

Erik suggests that the party stop to say hello to whoever is managing the fire. Maybe there’s some warmth and good food to be shared.

Played by a Girl
 

Torrock agrees with erik.

Played by a Girl
 

Seeing as the bridge is dwarven made, Tira wonders if being a dwarf might have its advantages here, “Barrick, might you be the one to first knock on that door?”

Played by a Girl
 

Rift says, “Perhaps as we are the ‘guards’ here, we should investigate first?”

Where is the smoke? Is it coming out of a chimney, as expected? Or is there some other source of the smoke? If it is coming from the building, then we approach and (assuming all is well), just knock on the door. If it is coming from some other source, then we proceed more carefully. Perhaps Erik could use some of his excellent forest skills to see if there are any tracks or signs of unusual activities or creatures?

Rift stands in place, stroking what would be a beard if she had one. “Hmmmmmmm.”

Played by a Girl
 

As you approach, the building’s features become clearer. It is not just made of stone; it was hewn from the stone. It is as though someone took clay and molded the rock. Magnificent arches fly off from the far sides of the building. The back is against a mountain. Several thick glass windows blend in with the overall design. Baelmirth’s telltale sigil, with its small crescent moon, can be seen on both sides of a stout oak and iron door.

On the ground, Erik can clearly see clawed footprints of medium humanoids. There could be several sets or the same creature commonly in the area. The size must be something over 7 feet tall. They go off the path to the left and right.

The smoke rising from chimneys at the far ends of the building seems to be blocked from going high into the air above and is instead filling the air near you as it expands out. As the cart and horses draw to within 12 staff lengths of the building, the front door opens.

A tall, green and brown goblinoid creature, at least 7 feet tall, stands on the left side of the open doorway. Four fangs, two pointing up and two pointing down, escape from a huge mouth. His clean leather jerkin and breeches surprise all of you. A few wood chips are on the breeches. His eyes look unsure of what to make of the party approaching until he sees the horses, and then he looks down at his companion as though awaiting instructions. His companion is surely the shortest dwarf the party has ever seen. At only two and half feet, the little dwarf looks almost comical next to the goblinoid in his bright green pointed hat and bright blue tunic and pants. White hair and a beard frame a merry face. A dagger hangs on a golden-colored belt.

Rift looks at the little figure and thinks, “is that a gnome?”

The goblinoid and little dwarf approach, the little one almost running to keep up. As they get closer, the little one says, “Welcome to the Hammerhold Inn! I’m Donali. We don’t expect traders this early in the season. Getting an early start, eh! Best way to make a good profit, get there before the competition. Risky with the chance of a blizzard anytime. No risk, no reward, though! Well, come in, come in. Yoyo here will see to the horses and the cart. Don’t mind the fangs, he won’t hurt you or them. Mistress Dhuri will put a hog on the fire for you. That’ll take some time, but we’ll get out cheeses and bread and a good casket of ale. Welcome, welcome!”

Donali turns to Yoyo and says rather slowly in Goblin (which Tira may later translate to the party), “take the horses and the cart. See that the animals are watered and fed well. Stoke up a small fire in the stable to keep them warm. Keep your axe in your hand once the horses are safe. I’ll send Dodo out, and he’ll bring you meat and ale and take a turn.”

Turning back to you, Donali says, “Toadstools, it is cold! Let’s get you in the Inn!” the gnome almost dances at the little pun.

As the goblinoid approaches, the horses are surprisingly calm. You realize that mixed with the wood smoke (which now has a bit of roasted meat to it, too), the scents of honey and of oats are coming from the goblinoid. Looking at Yoyo closely, you would say he is an extraordinarily large goblin, as he reminds Tira and Barrick of a large version of Splug from the Keep, or maybe Erik, Barrick, and Rift of Splig from the Labyrinth. But, Yoyo is clean and tidy, his thin hair is braided. Even the large claws at the end of each digit seem only a little dirty, as though with just the day’s work. A massive dwarven-made waraxe hangs loosely at his belt, wood chips on the end of each blade.

Sensing no danger, but maybe feeling a little trepidation when you see those fangs up close, you slowly dismount and hand the goblin the reins. Yoyo nods each time, his wide eyes only for the horses. He makes gentle rumbling sounds that the horses clearly like. Even, Erik is impressed with the large goblin’s horse-handling skills. Yoyo deftly manages all of the animals, taking the cart-drawing horses off, and leading all five to a wooden and stone stable structure off to the left. You can also see a series of wooden cabins off to the right stretching along the mountainside.

Following Donali, you enter the Inn. It is rich and warm, with furs and thick tapestries covering the walls. At a huge fireplace, a handsome female dwarf in a leather apron slowly turns a massive boar on a spit. She turns to you with eyes that remind each of you of your mother’s eyes: caring, gentle, as though you were the center of the world. “Welcome to the Hammerhold Inn. I’m Dhuri, mistress of all you see here. And, at the moment, master of this little beauty,” as she points to the boar and smirks. “We’ll have this hog ready for you in just a while. Take a seat, and Darla will get you some victuals to start. Gads, travel is such thirsty work.”

As you marvel at the huge size of the boar being roasted, another gnome dressed similarly to Donali but this time a female with skirts, dashes out with 2 trays of thick, hearty breads, and chunks of cheeses. Donali then runs off, returning with good-sized mugs of ale, though Barrick finds himself wishing for those Kengi tankards nearly twice this size.

After a satisfying sound at the boar, Dhuri goes into a corner and then comes over holding a birch log about two feet long and a hand thick and stands next to the group. It is evident that despite being good-looking, she is brawny and strong, with days filled with hard work.

The log-branch she puts before you is covered in small holes. “My fuzzy caterpillars have all gone into their log home here. That means they are expecting a blizzard tonight. It could’a killed your mounts if you couldn’t have finded shelter. And caves round here might have Brotherhood goblins or somethin worse trying to keep warm. It’s a good thing you got here when you did. You don’t look like Nerrakins. So, what brings a group of Nentir traders out so early in the season that they can’t wait until the snows stop? I’ve never seen Nentir traders, even straight from Hammerfast, until the fifth month,” she says with a grin, emphasizing the word traders as though it was some sort of shared joke with you. She looks quizzically at you with a smile on her face.

Note, it is currently the middle of the fourth month of the year, commonly called Avandril.

Played by a Girl
 

Rift smiles warmly at Dhuri. “What a lovely place you have here. And you have such capable help. However did you manage to convince a goblin to stay and work? By the way, does he want to come in from the cold?”

She laughs at Dhuri’s comments about traders. “Yes, it is a bit early for traders of common goods. However, there are other things worth trading for other than goods. Things like hospitality, good will, information…”

“It must be a great worry to you to live out here on the ‘edge’. Don’t you worry about the Brotherhood, or the Kengi, or even dragons? I’ve heard there are some powerful big dragons around here. Certainly wouldn’t forget seeing one of them, would you? I know I wouldn’t.”

Rift gazes at Dhuri with her most innocent eladrin expression, with a slightly quizzical look.

Played by a Girl
 

While Rift is conversing with Dhuri, Erik wanders around outside to see about the stables and to help Yoyo care for the animals. While helping to brush one of the horses, he asks, “Yoyo, do we need to worry about the Brotherhood goblins?” Half expecting Yoyo to be mute, Erik carefully watches the reaction.

Played by a Girl
 

Dhuri turns to Rift, “Oh, Yoyo and his sister Dodo didn’t need convincing. My husband, Moradin keep his soul, and I rescued them when they were little tots left to rot. They are different from regular goblins – much larger, and it turns out, naturally predisposed to good. Goblins don’t like that kind of different, especially the Brotherhood. Funny, when the Kengi or any dragonborn pups go wrong, havin’ some birth problems, their wronged hatchlings, that they call dracomen, are evil to the core, so I hear. But, goblins, when they have a baby somewhat different, it is gentle and kind, not given to their warrin’, fightin’ ways. So, when a goblin baby’s a bit big, not a hobgoblin mind you, but a really big goblin with those gentle eyes and four huge fangs, well they expect ‘em to be like Yoyo and Dodo and leave ‘em out way past their goblin camp for a Dire Wolf or some other vile creature to come and eat up. Well, my husband Oteyman Stonewielder, Moradin keep his soul, he learned about the cycles of the goblins from some of the merchants passing through who sell to ‘em, and we would go around the area of a camp that would often be not far to the south every year in late spring just in case one ‘o these special ones pops up. Oteyman just couldn’t stomach good, innocent creatures being left to rot like that. Well, one year, we find not one, but a male and a female left out. Twins! Broke my heart to hear their pitiful cries. Now, with Oteyman and my three boys gone these two years after a nasty fight with the Brotherhood, they are near all the family I have, ‘cept Donali and Darla, them sweet gnomes.”

She gets up to turn the boar some more. “It’ll be ready in another hour or so. Darla! This dwarf’s mug is empty. And there are laws about that in the Hammerhold!”

Darla quickly comes out with a huge pitcher and, after filling Barrick’s mug, tops off all of the others.

Dhuri sits back down. “Trading in information, eh? Well, the Brotherhood’s movements have been informative recently, I’ll tell you that. But what it should be informing, I don’t know. Those good for nothing plops of Bane’s excrement have been more a problem this winter than most. We haven’t had much snow, that usually keeps ‘em away, but even in a dry winter like this, they aren’t so feisty and just so often around. I don’t know what is going on to the south, but Yoyo and Dodo have run off more of those little varmints than ever. Maybe it’s because ole Frystimagythant, that nasty white dragon, went to the great lair below, and so the Brotherhood is feeling its’ oats without ole’ ice butt around to coat them in crystal if they get too uppity. Now, talking about dragons, if you are interested in dragons, you must hear about Aurumendor, he’s the great gold dragon to the north. Big friend of the Kengi. Frysti would never come even this close to the Trader Road because, I think, he was scared that Aurumendor, and before that his enormous father Aurumendal, would roast his little white wings. Now Aurumendal’s been gone some 40 years, never did hear about his mother, funny that when you think about it, and Aurumendor’s been filling in nicely, so I hear tell, but he’s not quite the old saur, yet, if you know what I mean. Yes, I saw him flying over just last year sometime, now that I think about it. No, you are right, my Eladrin guest, you don’t forget the sight of a dragon when he flies over. But, worry about dragons, no. Frysti’s dead and Aurumendor’s a friend of the Kengi, and so am I.”

Dhuri turns the boar some more and goes to the window, “Yep, here comes the snow. The fuzzies are never wrong.”

“Now, what you Nentir folks have to realize is that Hammerhold is not the edge at all. This is the center. When the Dwarven Hammer Hold of Bonderstrong reached from the northern edge to the southern edge of these Dawnforge mountains, and stretched across the Nentir vale to Thunderspire and beyond and easterward to the Ironrock mountains, this Hammerhold was at the very center. Oteyman always said that Bonderstrong kept his keep right here, but I’ve lived here since I was a babe and never found any sign of that. Just the Inn and storerooms going back into the mountain. But you have to know that the Dwarf clans mined these mountains and the depths in-between. Until the Tieflings and their devil friends came. The dragonborn of Arkhosia were good friends to the dwarves then, and helped in fights against the Tieflings, so I hear tell, and even now, the Kengi are good to the dwarves and respect the old friendships.”

“Well, enough of my prattle. That’s enough information from me. Your traders, let’s trade. first, let’s get you settled in some rooms. Lots to choose from since we aren’t busy yet. I’ll keep you all in the Inn itself instead of one of the cottages. Be warmer. Dinner’ll be ready in about an hour. Then, I’ll hear your story and we can trade some more!” She pats her apron and smiles.

She gets up and summons Donali. He leads you to rooms upstairs. Good, strong locks on each oak door. Two rooms have windows through which, even through the thick glass, blankets of snow can be seen falling. “Where’s the other fellow?” he says as he hands each of you an iron key.

Meanwhile

Erik finds Yoyo stroking the mane of one of the horses. Each has a bag of oats. Yoyo seems glad to have the Ranger’s help and accepts it without any talk. When the ranger breaks the silence, the large goblin turns to the Ranger’s voice and says very slowly in response to the question, “You need not worry. Yoyo worry. And when Yoyo worry, the Brothers flee.” He stops brushing for a moment and pats his axe. “Don’t like it bloody. The Brothers flee when it gets bloody. Yoyo never have to kill. They just run.” He draws his lips up in a semblance of a smile.

The smile is not at thought, though, as Yoyo is looking to the stable door. Erik sees a female large goblin enter with a plate of steaming meat and bread and mugs of ale. She, too, is tidy and neat, with multiple braids in her thin goblin hair. Her eyes are equally as gentle as her fangs are large. An equally large waraxe hangs on her belt. Behind her, he can see that snow is falling heavily. Perhaps an inch has already accumulated in the hour that he has been working with the horses and talking to Yoyo.

Yoyo says, “My sister Dodo. Dodo brought Yoyo’s dinner. You stay, too? Yoyo and nature-man talk more horse talk.”

Dodo scowls at her brother, “Mama Dhuri said to send him back. Dodo will stay with you.” Dodo sits down with the plate of meat and starts to eat with a dagger. Yoyo almost looks embarrassed but doesn’t move, waiting to see what Erik does.

Played by a Girl
 

Erik indicates that it’s okay for Yoyo to eat too – there’s no offense to start eating as he’ll be joining his comrades for dinner. Heading back in, Erik smiles in the knowing that there are strong and good creatures in the world, not just strong and bad. They are as good as most goblins are bad. He also admires their simple, happy life. The quite of the snow is calming; and good for tracking.

Erik rejoins his companions and sits across the table from Tira so as to better observe her. He’s gotten to know her a little bit, but has never seen her in battle (unlike the rest of his companions did in Fallcrest). She’s unpredictable. She thrives on chaos. The magic that she summons is on the very edge of her control. The ranger could learn a thing or two.

Played by a Girl
 

Torrock sits at a table in the corner observeing with a +11 on perception. I rolled a 14+11=25.

Played by a Girl
 

DM: Torrock notices that behind the furs covering the south wall is some sort of bas-relief art work. Without moving the furs, he cannot tell what is depicted.

Played by a Girl
 

After about an hour, Donali knocks on all of the doors of those upstairs. “Dinner!” he shouts.

When you come down, Torrock has already taken a table the southwest corner of the room. He is intently studying the room and has started eating.

Erik is just coming in out of the snow.

Platters of roasted boar and roast apples, bread and cheese are brought out by Donali and Darla. Dhuri brings out mugs of ale.

After you start eating, Dhuri smiles, “Now, we haven’t discussed that subject of paym’nt. For a party at your size, I would expect 15 gold a night. Since you are basically stuck here for the time bein’, I can take 12 if you’ve been forced to stay for longer than you would’a been wantin’.”

Played by a Girl
 

“The abundance of excellent food, drink and friendliness had not been expected”, states Erik. “Your inn and stables have saved us and our horses from this storm and for that we are also thankful. We are glad to pay you 15 gold and our wishes are for your happy inn to be safe from storms, of all sorts.”

Erik continues, “Speaking of this inn, we noticed that the mighty bridge we crossed just shy of here was constructed by the great dwarf Baelmirth. What is the origin of this building, hewn from the stone?”

Played by a Girl
 

Just as Dhuri starts to answer Erik’s question, he too notices that behind the furs on the south wall is a hint of some sort of bas-relief. Dhuri, perturbed by his not paying attention to her, clears her throat and then says, “I thank you kindly for them sweet words. 15 gold it is. Now, as to the Hammerhold, well, Oteyman’s pappy always said that what we call the Inn wasn’t built by the great master himself, it was called out of the rock by him. That this was different from his other works, special for ole Chief Bonderstrong to make his keep. Since I never did see any evidence that this was Bonderstrong’s keep, more like a nice place to visit, a sort of summer home, maybe, for the great chief, I’m not sure how much I believe in old Pappy’s tale. Still, you can see the marks of Baelmirth on the door frame. Can’t miss those.”

“Now, a fella like you, a trader? What other trade do you follow with those two swords and all those arrows you came in with?” Dhuri says with a smile.

Played by a Girl
 

Erik chuckles, “Oh, I’m the hired help. Tend to the horses. Drive the wagon. Kinda a hired guide and help to keep my employers out of trouble. The muscle. First honest job I’ve had in a long while. Better than the old way.”

[DM: What time is it? Time for bed? Does it look like we’ll be snow bound for a day or two or will we be able to head out tomorrow?]

Played by a Girl
 

DM: It is about 8pm. Looking out a window, about 4 inches of snow have fallen in the 3 hours that you have been at the Inn. The storm shows no signs of abating. With a foot of snow, the horses and cart will travel at half speed, with 2 feet, one quarter speed. Right now, it is unclear how much snow will fall during the night.

Dhuri says,”I can’t imagine what the old way was!” She laughs merrily.

The little gnome woman Darla comes in, clears the plates and offers ale to anyone else that wants more. She leans into Dhuri, “Need anything else?” Dhuri shakes her head. Donali comes out from the kitchen area and says to Erik, “Master Bowman, here is the key to your room upstairs. As I told your companions, if you need anything in the night, just knock on our door next to the bar.” You notice, in addition to a larger door, there is a 3 foot door at the end of the bar.

The gnomes go off through the door, hand in hand. Out the door comes a gray wolf. Dhuri says, “Oh don’t mind Shartus. Oteyman rescued him, too, when he found ‘im just a pup with a broken leg. Never did heal quite right. Shartus, these are guests,” she says rather sternly to the somewhat small wolf. His bright eyes watch the party, and he comes over to sniff each member then goes over by the fire, curls up and closes his eyes. In about two minutes, he appears to be asleep.

Dhuri nods in their direction. “Now Donali will take good care of you in the night if you need anything. So, how about the rest of you? An old dwarf woman like me could use a good story. Tell me a tale that I can use ta regale the merchants throughout the comin’ summer.”

Dhuri will stay up talking and getting ale and anything else that the party wants until everyone retires for the night. Shartus stays by the fire, apparently asleep.

Played by a Girl
 

Rift would like to find out more about the bas-relief carvings. Gnawing on a hunk of roasted boar, she turns to Dhuri. “Our friend Barrick, being a dwarf and all, is very much interested in Baelmirth. Do you know if there are any other examples of his work around your beautiful inn? I have heard that he was famous for his carvings.”

She smiles expectantly at Dhuri. If Dhuri looks reluctant to answer, and if Rift thinks it would do any good, she puts 10 gold down, and says, “Oh, here is a down payment for your generous hospitality.”

Played by a Girl
 

Dhuri’s eyes get wide even before Rift pulls out the 10 gold. “Why yes! We have one example of Baelmirth’s amazin’ stone art work. You know, most folks only know about his buildin’s and bridges. Fantastic that you have heard of his carvin’. He really was a master at that, too. Our piece is an interestin’ one of his Moradin at the Forge. I hear tell that there are three others. Ours is right here on the south wall. We just have to move these furs I put up to keep the heat in. If you folks would just give a hand, we can get them down quick like.”

With the party’s help, the furs come down easily. Once the furs are moved, you can see that the bas-relief covers the entire wall. The relief is the most realistic you have every seen. It is a sculpture of an 8 foot dwarf in a forge, hammer in the right hand, tongs in the left. The stone sweat on the rendering of Moradin appears ready to drip. All the details appear to be alive, just held in place. The tongs grasp the object of the forging. It is not a weapon, apparently, but something like a key. Radiating beams were made in the sculpture to appear to be coming from the key. This key has the shape of a triangle at one end and a crescent moon as an apparent handle at the other end.

Erik’s new headband agitates on his head. He can perceive that the anvil Moradin is striking is itself a secret door.

Erik cannot perceive a handle or a keyhole for this door, however. It is unclear to him how to open to it.

Played by a Girl
 

Rift eyes the carving with an appraising eye. “Dhuri, this is wonderful. I wonder, do you mind if we study this carving some more, after our dinner is over. No need for you to stay up, we can certainly find our way to our rooms.”

Rift is going to do a “detect magic” on the secret door. If that is successful, then she will do an “identify magical effect” to see if she can learn anything. Also, does the key on the tongs look like a “real” key? Assuming that Dhuri goes about her business, Rift will try to take the key off the tongs.

Played by a Girl
 

Dhuri is quite taken with Rift’s proposal and interest. “Feel free to study it. It really is wonnerful. Well, if you folks are sure you won’t be a needing anything else. First, let me get some more ale for Master Dwarf. It is the law here in Hammerhold,” she says with a wink.

After refilling Barrick’s mug and leaving a large pitcher, she heads over to Shartus, the wolf and scratches him behind the ear. His eyes never open. “He really is a sweet pup”, she says, then heads through the door to the kitchen.

The wolf appears to be sleeping soundly next to the warm fire.

Rift studies the bas-relief. The key is just stone. After a minute of study, Rift is able to determine that the anvil appears to be some sort of magical door or portal with no natural hinges or locks. The anvil door has been sealed with Arcane Lock. Rift does not detect any additional magic aside from the door itself and the ritual sealing it but that could be because this magic is so close to whatever might be on the other side.

Played by a Girl
 

Erik joins Rift and takes an active look at the carving. He then moves over to Shartus and gives him a scratch behind the ear, pets him and softly speaks silly “animal talk.” Despite having respect and fondness for the fellow hunter, Erik is not sure that the animal is what he seems to be, so Erik does his best to understand this creature. [Okay for DM to roll as needed for both checks.].

Played by a Girl
 

Tira agrees with Erik, she does not feel the wolf is simply a wolf; she even goes as far as to whisper to Erik that she feels the wolf might be a fully aware were-being.

Tira wonders about the magic anvil door. When she is able to speak softly without being overheard by any outside the group, she voices her thoughts, “The relief was partial visible, and they were quite happy to show it to us. I do not believe that the Arcane lock on the secret door has not been discovered many times before, and thus I do not believe that Dhuri would not know about it; might we save time by asking about it and what others have tried in the past, if the key is not simply located behind the bar.”

Played by a Girl
 

Rift calls to Dhuri. “Dhuri, this carving is most unusual. I think there might be some sort of magic or secret about it. Have you ever had anyone notice that before? Do you have any idea what might be special about it?”

Played by a Girl
 

Studying the carving closely, Erik intently notices what appear to most eyes to be realistic details of impurities and variations in the anvil. These bother him but he can’t quite place why. Perhaps he is distracted, because what is clear to him and he points out to Rift, is that the entire anvil is a trap: a glyph of warding. If broken, it appears that some sort of massive power will be released.

Leaving Rift to contemplate this finding, when Erik goes to investigate Shartus, he is only a little surprised when Shartus opens his eyes and looks directly into Erik’s. The level of intelligence in those eyes appears very high. Erik can tell that the wolf is not completely natural, despite all appearances to be so. The wolf puts his head down, clearly expecting some rubbing.

Dhuri comes back out, “Sshh! The gnomes are hopefully sleepin’ by now. As to the tableau, well, yes, it is obviously magical and there is no secret ‘bout that. Just look at the artistry! Baelmirth must’a been wizard with stone.” She laughs at her own joke. “But you probably mean what gets them magic wielders all up in huff every time some merchant used to bring one by. They do tell that there is something going on with the anvil, see. By gum, I’d almost think I could see magic there have been so many wizards sitting in front of this thing over the years. Oteyman would make ‘em pay 20 gold just to have their time in front of it, with their smokes and smells and powders. They’d pay up, too. After a while, I thought it was cruel. Never came to nothing. Oh, one time, a fella said he could see an inscription on the anvil, but then, when he went to show him, he just wasn’t sure.”

Erik’s eyes light up. Yes, that is it! those impurities and regions of smooth and not smooth on the anvil are an inscription but in a language he can’t read. As soon as he stops looking at the letters and turns away, looking back, he would think he had made a mistake. Except, Dhuri said someone else had thought that there was an inscription. Yes, definitely, there are words there.

Dhuri had continued speaking during Erik’s reverie, “Except there was that one time, a big, full-a-himself fella gets all excited with his powders and smelly whatnot, and after about 20 minutes, he starts hooting and hollering, ‘I got past the Lock!’ Well, just as I am coming out, cause I have heard that a few times, there is a huge flash of lightning from the stone key, that wizard goes flying back about 3 staff lengths to the other side of the room, and is all hurt up bad. Shartus was singed pretty badly, too, even over by the fire about 2 staff lengths away.”

“After a bit, we patched him and he was still determined to have another look at it. Oteyman says, ‘That’s another 20 gold for another chance and 500 for mussin’ up the place.’ The wizard pays up, and then gets out his powders and shouts ‘Snakesbite, the Lock’s back! No, it is a different lock. Fangs, it never occurred to me there could be more than one. Every inch could have a different lock and another glyph. I’ll have to research this more.’ Never did see him again. When that one started swearin’ so strangely, Oteyman got pretty disturbed. He charged over at him and shoved him over. Well, the fella had a book with a big symbol of Zehir on it. When he saw that evil snake god symbol, Oteyman ran him out of the place. He never come back. Oh, what was his name. Lorvas. That’s it. Tal Lorvas. That was about seven years ago.”

Dhuri sighs, “After that, Oteyman made me put up a tapestry over it. I take that down during the winter and cover it with the furs. The tapestry’s don’t keep out the cold as well but they do cover it better,” then she chokes up just a little, “the way Oteyman wanted. Moradin keep his soul.” She tears up just a little. “I’m going to retire now. You’re not gonna make an explosions or use any of those smelly powders are you? Oteyman wouldn’t have wanted that anymore, I don’t think.”

Played by a Girl
 

Rift calls over to Tira, “Tira, the spectacles! Can you read the writing on the anvil?”

While Tira digs around in her big handbag, Rift studies the glyph of warding. Does she recognize any of the symbols? What does she know about glyphs of warding?

Played by a Girl
 

Tira pulls out the red spectacles, dons them, and walks over in front of the carving, “Erik, can you point to where on the anvil you saw the possible writings?” She peers intently at the wall.

Played by a Girl
 

Whist Tira is waiting for spectacular anvil enlightenment, a thought crosses her mind, ‘Wizards are rarely dwarfs; could it be that the Balemirth’s door will open to a dwarf that does the right thing, but will not open to any of the crazy rituals the wizarding types like to perform?’

Played by a Girl
 

Erik doesn’t let on that he suspects the wolf is really a wizard. Instead Erik kneels next to Shartus and starts petting him and rubbing his belly, playfully speaking “doggie talk”. “Yes, you like that, don’t you, my little fwuzzy wuzzy wittle wolf dwog. Oh, you get some good pwetting and wubbing don’t you. Shartus wikes that, doesn’t he. Cwute little wolf dwoggy. Who’s my bwaby? Who’s my wittle bwaby?” Erik’s secret plan is to drive the creature so nuts with insipid babble that Shartus is forced to escape by returning to his real form. Or bite Erik.

Played by a Girl
 

The wolf Shartus is unperturbed by Erik’s idiotic babble as long as he keeps scratching.

Rift knows that glyphs of warding are magical traps that explode with some arcane power when the portal they guard is breached or disturbed. Rift is not sure if the trap remains after it is sprung once.

Looking through the red lenses of the spectacles, Tira can read the following written on the anvil:

Woe to you who is not a Valiant Dwarven Warrior. The guardians will never cease until they destroy you if you disturb what I, Baelsmirth, Master Builder of the Dwarven Lords, have here set.

Here I set Bonderstrong’s Key. Valiant Dwarven Warrior of Bonderstrong use it and the treasures it unlocks to defeat Bael Turuth in our time of need. Speak the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines to the Dwarfs.

Played by a Girl
 

Tira relays the information she read to the rest of the group, but she currently does not have any suggestions as to what the passphrase might be, and even if she did, she would not utter it here, near the glyph, wary of springing the trap.

As long as she has the spectacles on, Tira does a scan of the rest of the room, wondering if any other hidden writings might exist.

Played by a Girl
 

From Rift’s study of the glyph, she is very confident that the glyph and arcane lock are bound together such that, if the passphase is spoken, the glyph might not be disturbed. She is fairly certain that the mystical energy empowering the glyph can be manipulated by someone adjacent to it and thereby disabled.

DM’s note: Thievery skill check to disable.

Played by a Girl
 

DM: The glyph is large enough, about 3 feet in diameter, that any character adjacent to the character trying to disable, after an Arcana check to perceive the subtleties of the magical trap, can then Aid Another on the Thievery check to disable.

Played by a Girl
 

Tira has a +9 on Arcana and a +6 on Thievery and is willing to aid Rift in disabling the glyph; although she would be surprised to find that a few 7th level characters would be able to disable something that countless others have so far failed to disable. Boom?

Played by a Girl
 

“Stop! Stop!”, shouts Erik, leaving Shartus to join the others in front of the glyph. Maybe we should roust Barrick and get him to take a look at this dwarven creation. At the very least, we should do something to contain or redirect the blast so that it doesn’t not damage the inn. Maybe we just need to move the furniture aside?

Played by a Girl
 

Tira believes that she, too, can see the mystical nature of the glyph and manipulate it enough to aid Rift, but her study of the glyph does not leave her confident that she could disarm it herself.

Played by a Girl
 

Barrick is rousted from his drunken stupor. He had been beerdreaming about a house he once had in the mountains. Seems like another lifetime now. Barrick, of course, usually leaves these spellhunts to the magical types. True, he had recently started to make use of some magical items for the first time in his long career, good use at that, but he knows little about Arcane Locks. Knock Spells, Passphrases, or Mystical Energies. Still, when his pals tell him that maybe, just because he’s a Dwarf, he would have a chance to succeed where everyone else has failed, he figures it’s his duty to try. Didn’t even stop to think that maybe a Dwarf had tried before – the one who owns the premises, for example. Didn’t stop to consider whether he was truly a Valiant Dwarven Warrior, whatever that was. Didn’t stop to wonder just who the enchanter wanted to get through, or why, or when. Didn’t take seriously the threat of bodily injury. No, Barrick just walks over, stands in front of the piece, and starts in with passphrases: “Open Up” “Open Says Me” “Friend” (A Classic Barrick knows from dwarven tales) “Passphrase” (Inspired by the Classic) “Bonderstrong’s Key” (Barrick isn’t smart enough to do anything but copy the Classic) “Moradin At The Forge” “I Said Open Up” (Barrick is getting aggravated) “Open Up or I’ll Show You What For, You #$*@x%x Carving”

At this point, Erik deems it wise to talk the Dwarf down a little, and wait for other ideas.

Played by a Girl
 

On the way back to his drink, still wondering what a Valiant Dwarven Warrior could be, Barrick remembers a bit of dwarven lore that somehow survived the many hits to the helmet he had received over the years. The problem with passphrases is that, once set, they never change. They can be forgotten, or they can be used by the wrong people. Centuries ago, though, clever dwarves were said to have solved this problem by inventing a process for creating passphrases. If this process were used, the phrase wouldn’t even need to be told to the Dwarf who was to be granted access. They would just follow the same process, and the result would be the correct passphrase. Barrick couldn’t exactly remember the process, and might never have known it fully, but it had something to do with putting together the date, and the location, and the Dwarf’s origin, and some other info. He wondered whether it was worth mentioning this technique to the others; perhaps they knew more about it?

Played by a Girl
 

As Barrick approaches to recite his passphrases, he realizes that he is reading the inscription without the spectacles. It is written in Dwarvish, a bit of an antiquated dialect, but Dwarvish nonetheless.

While Barrick recites his various attempts at the passphrase in his native tongue and is thinking nothing is happening, Rift notices that the magical energies of both the glyph and the Lock react to the Dwarven words. Erik, watching intently, sees the Lock vary slightly, and for just an instant, is aware that a glyph of warding is also behind the Lock. While the glyph in front, that everyone can now see, has magical energies of a bright white-yellow color light that reminds one of a lightning bolt, the glyph that Erik thought he saw is of a greenish tint. He recalls it is the sort of color he once saw in the clouds before a loud clap of thunder and downpour of hail.

After this, Tira and Torrock both notice that Shartus had silently moved from his position by the fire and is now a little more than 3 staff lengths away from the bas-relief, sitting and watching intently. Both think the expression on the wolf’s face is peculiar. When Erik turns to look at the wolf, he would say that the wolf has a look of hopefulness in his eyes, as when a dog is expecting a treat but the master has not even opened the closet, yet.

_

Played by a Girl
 

DM: Are the PCs going to do anything else with the bas-relief? Are they heading to bed? Or do they stay up all night in front of Moradin at the Forge?

Played by a Girl
 

Torrock suggest that barrick says. “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines to the Dwarfs.” Barrick must say the words in quotes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think I made my point

Played by a Girl
 

Rift is determined to get through the bas-relief. First, we move anything breakable out of the way, clearing a 20’ area in front of the glyph. Then, she will ask both Barrick and Tira to aid her in her attempt to disarm the glyph of warding. Barrick will again repeat all of his pass phrases in his best dwarven voice. Tira will use her expert thievery skills to provide a bonus to Rift. Then Rift will use all of her knowledge of glyphs, combined with her expert thievery (+12), to disarm the first glyph, without setting off the second glyph.

During all of the excitement, the others will keep an eye on Shartus, to ensure that he is only sitting there patiently. If it looks like he is getting angry, then we stop.

Success?

Played by a Girl
 

DM: Does Rift want to wait until Barrick responds to Torrock’s emphatic suggestion?

Played by a Girl
 

Rift stops just as she is about to disarm the glyph. She waits breathlessly for Barrick’s words to fall upon the glyph. If it works, she gives him a huge slap on the back. If it seems to weaken the glyph, then she proceeds immediately, using his help. If it doesn’t help at all, she proceeds with her plan.

Played by a Girl
 

Barrick walks up again to the carving and begins to recite the following preplanned list:

“the” “passphrase” “the passphrase” “the passphrase to” “the passphrase to restore” “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven”

Sorry!

“the passphrase to restore the” “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven”

Oh, I already said that one!

“the passphrase to restore the Dwarven minds”

Sorry!

“the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines” “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines to” “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines to the” “the passphrase to restore the Dwarven mines to the Dwarves”!!!!!

Played by a Girl
 

As the last of Barrick’s Dwarven words are spoken, a brief flash of lightning, a clap of thunder as though distant, a hiss of something like acid, a crackling sound as though of a flame, a whoosh colder than the cold wind they felt on the way to the Inn, and a bright but not painful light all emanate from the anvil for an instant. Then the anvil itself simply disappears. In its empty space is a shelf on which is an iron shape about a foot and a half long matching that seen above the anvil. The apparent key has the shape of a triangle at one end and a crescent moon as an apparent handle at the other end. A bar connects from the triangle’s obtuse angle to the crescent shaped handle.

As Barrick takes the key, behind him, he hears a voice saying, “This is for you.” Next to Shartus has appeared a humanoid silver-colored figure. The wolf lies on the floor apparently asleep. The almost featureless humanoid body appears to be made of a shimmering liquid metal. It strides up to Barrick holding an orb about two inches across. Marvelous warm colors of reds, oranges, yellows, and golds, as well a deep silverly band swirl within the orb. As it quickly advances past the others, the orb radiates an aura of warmth and goodness. The humanoid hands the orb to Barrick and says “I am released.” The form melts into a silvery liquid that quickly, like a spilled drink, finds a crack in the floor and vanishes into it. Seeing the orb in Barrick’s one hand and the key in the other, Tira realizes that the orb would almost fit in the empty space made by the triangle end.

Immediately, everyone notices that the stone anvil is restored. But the stone key is no longer present in the picture. In fact, the picture has changed. The stone dwarf stands with his tongs at rest and his hammer slung over his shoulder. The radiance beams that you had seen emanating from the stone key now cover the tableau. Magical power is also emanating from the tableau, and you feel very good standing close to it, protected, quicker, more resolute.

All defenses are +2 within 2 squares of the bas-relief.

The wolf Shartus sits up. Erik can tell it no longer has the intelligence in its eyes that it once had. Indeed, it looks a puzzled, if anything, and rather old. While looking at the wolf Erik also notices, just out of the corner of his eye, that a stealthy (but not quite stealthy enough) Dhuri is hiding behind the bar and almost blending into the shadows watching them. He is happy to see that a crossbow and small axe that she put away in holders above the bar’s back wall before retiring, are still there.

Almost simultaneously with the humanoid’s disappearance, Dhuri springs up from behind the bar, “I knew it was real! I knew it. Oteyman, Moradin bless his soul, always told me to stop hopin’, stop wishin’, that nothin’ would ever happen. Just merchants and stupid wizards. And that scum of the Snake god.” She spits on the floor. Then, her face lights up again, and she keeps talking, “And, I was always wonderin’ if Shartus was really just a stray that Oteyman had rescued when he was a boy. That wolf never did seem to get old. Now, look at him. He’s aged a 100 years in a minute. And, a real live Valiant Dwarven Warrior in the Hammerhold Inn while I am the Innkeeper. Oh, this calls for a celebration!”

Before anyone can say a thing, she bangs on the gnomes’ door. “Donali, Darla! A Valiant Dwarven Warrior has gotten the Key! Great things are happen’! Ale all around! And bring the steins this time!”

She comes back and this time looks very straight-faced and rather firm, “Now you tell me good and right out, just what great things is it you folks are doin’ and no more beatin’ around the stone? That key is supposed to be for great things, I always did know. I knew it! Is it some great Wyrm that needs destroyin’ – well Frysti’s already dead but maybe somethin’ worse than him! Or some vile Devils threaten’ these mountains like they did in the days of Bael Turath? What.”

Donali and Darla break the silence carrying huge steins – as big as those in Kendistar. Dhuri takes one, drains it, and then says, “Now you tell me this time, and Dhuri wants the truth. Valiant Dwarven Warriors and their companions don’t come ‘round every day.”

Played by a Girl
 

Torrock suggests that Barrick put the key in its place.

Played by a Girl
 

Erik moves to Shartus and gives him some comforting petting. The beast has served as an unwitting accomplice serving his part in a tale that undoubtedly spans countless leagues, generations and wages of good and evil. Sad to have played his part without any possibility of comprehending the larger world in which he lived. Erik has the odd combination of pity and pride in this animal and wonders about how, ultimately, he may be just like Shartus.

But Erik’s philosophical musings are short lived. Though he still sits with the wolf, Erik eagerly anticipates Barrick’s use of the key.

Played by a Girl
 

Rift stands there stunned, “What the Bahamut was that all about?”

Rift then shrugs and gives Barrick a hearty slap on the back. “You did it! Thought I’m a bit puzzled. I liked your other passphrase, ‘Open Up or I’ll Show You What For’.”

She then turns to Torrock. “Put the key where? Do you mean put the orb into the key?”

Played by a Girl
 

Tira raises an eyebrow as she glances at Rift, turning to Torrock she agrees, “Torrock, maybe it is a girl thing, but both Rift and myself have failed to see a logical place in which to place the key.”

Lowering her voice, she whispers to her companions, “What should we tell Dhuri? I have no problem either telling it straight or telling her we have recovered a fallen star and are on our way to return it to the heavens, but I feel that if we speak of Wyrms or other deadly beings that we should have our stories straight.”

Played by a Girl
 

Barrick screws up his face and starts poking the key (not the orb) at the tableau. Luckily, the tableau is a carving, not a painting.

Played by a Girl
 

Nothing happens as Barrick pokes the key at the tableau.

However, Shartus has gotten up, looked at Erik apparently expecting him to follow, and has slowly walked over to Barrick. He is now nosing at the orb in Barrick’s hand.

Played by a Girl
 

Erik gets up and follows Shartus over to Barrick and carefully examines the orb. What does he conclude?

Played by a Girl
 

Sorry Torrock ment to say to put the orb in the hole in the key. You are not alone Tira.

Played by a Girl
 

The orb appears to be some sort of crystal with swirling colors inside. There are golds, reds, and oranges, as well as silvery streams swirling. Erik feels the orb gives off a sense of goodness. His scant knowledge of Arcana isn’t sure what to make of it, but he suspects it is magical.

Played by a Girl
 

Barrick begins to pay attention to his mates, who are pointing out the space in the key where the orb might fit. Barrick looks at the key, looks at the orb, looks back at the key, back at the orb, and says, “Say what now?”

Erik walks up and reaches to grab the key out of Barrick’s hand, but Barrick waves him away. “I got this”, he says, and tries to push the small orb into the open spot in the key.

Played by a Girl
 

The orb looks like it will not quite fit through the triangle portion of the key. When it is touched to the triangle, it stops for just a fraction of a second, and then, it slips through, leaving Barrick’s fingers! The orb shatters on the ground. The shattered crystals disappear. A silvery metal liquid, very much like the form of the humanoid, flows towards Shartus. The wolf drinks it up, and in an instant, is transformed to a young wolf, full of life and vitality. The intelligence has returned to his eyes and the sharpness to his teeth.

The warm colors of red, orange, and yellow rise up in a mist and take the wispy shape of a dragonborn form dressed in red and yellow robes with gold and red dragons inlaid. The spirit form speaks directly into your minds.

“I am Landegar, a wizard of Arkhosia, and now a spirit guide for the Valiant Dwarven Warrior who has claimed the Key of Bonderstrong. Son of stone, you and your companions are the eighth to claim the Key. The great warrior and my great friend, Ferrol Ironfell, grandson of Bonderstrong, first claimed the Key with me and our companions to lay waste to Bael Turath and restore the Dwarven mines. Alas, we were too late, as Laarn, emperor of the Tieflings, had by his diabolical fiery arts, stolen some of the great Dwarven treasures that the key would unlock. Still, Ironfell used the key to thwart him and all the Tielfings in the great war with Arkhosia. Having done what he could, when the war was finished, Ironfell choose to return the Key to the place the master builder Baelsmirth had set for it. By mine arts, I strengthened Baelsmirth’s enchantments, created the Mercurial Guardian, and placed my spirit here. The Key has called you as much as you have called to it to come forth. I know not the reason why the Key has called you, only that you have a task. When you have finished the task that the Key has called you for, return the Key to this place. Say the passphrase again, putting the Key on top of the anvil as you speak. My twelve strong magical Wards that are bound to this tableau will be restored, and the Key will wait until is needed again.”

“Time is short. I can answer three questions from you or your companions to help guide you before I return to join the Guardian. Know that the spell that binds my spirit here is limited. Ask now, even as I fade.”

Played by a Girl
rplayer SirEdward

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