A Broken Hammer, A Dull Sword

Clearing the Ruins, Pt. 1
Do rust monsters fix memory leaks?

26th of Ascending War

The party crouches behind the walls of the stairwell, as the undead shamble their way into the lobby. First a few zombies, then some skeletons, and then a ghoul. When the last of the zombies exit the staircase, Reyacrogan and Salob spring to attack, screaming their battle cries. Sikram shifts into a bear form, and starts swiping wildly at the animated corpses. Stuck between a bear and a solid wall, Almorn drops to a firing crouch, and starts sticking zombies full of crossbow bolts. With the surprise and fury of the party’s initial attack, short work is made of the zombies. After a quick breather, the party makes its way down the stairs.

There’s a small landing below, cluttered with detritus. Cautious about doors, Salob listens carefully – there’s a distant clanging of metal, but nothing distinct. He carefully opens the door, and the party cautiously explores the hallways beyond. In one direction, there’s on open room, with large, insect-like creatures. Salob’s seen these before – Rust Monsters. Feeding on a diet of metal, they’re especially troublesome to fight – your hard-paid-for weapons could melt in your hands. The party elects to try avoiding a confrontation altogether.

Sikram, Frambard, and Reyacrogan manage to sneak past the open room, and go further down the hallway. The hallway ends in a set of double-doors, and on the other side of those doors is a gaggle of zombies, this time armed with swords and axes. One in particular is especially large, twice as tall as the other zombies. Progress is halted, as the party tries to group.

Almorn tries to sneak past the open room, but a noisy trip over a divet in the stone attracts the attention of one of the monsters. It waves its antennae in interest. Almorn tries to back up slowly, and the rust monster advances. In an attempt to distract the beast, he throws out a handful of bronze coins. However, these just pique its interest more.

Then, Frambard is struck with an inspiration – he quickly whispers his plans to Sikram and Reyacrogan, and motions at Almorn. Almorn throws out a few more coins, forming a breadcrumb trail leading to the double doors, while Reyacrogan kicks open those doors, and shouting for the zombie’s attention. These tasks completed, everyone dashes for the stair landing, and holds the door shut behind them.

At first, there’s no sounds but the echos of the door slam, and their own heavy breathing. After about half a minute, though, sounds of battle erupt – zombie groans, the clash of metal on stone, and rust monster squeals. It’s a few minutes before things quiet down, and the party emerges. A handful of rust monster corpses are scattered about, and the zombies are nowhere to be seen – though the many pieces of trash and scattered body parts could be evidence of the recently re-deceased.

The room that held the zombies contains nothing of interest, and the party continues on. The very next room contains a squad of skeleton warriors. They immediately turn to attack, but are bottlenecked at the doorway. The adventurers make use of this terrain advantage, and dispatch the skeletons with little difficulty. In the course of the battle, Almorn strikes a skeleton with his quaterstaff, and the blunt, crushing trauma seems especially effective against the tissue-less foe, shattering bones.

Tired out from the fighting, the party heads back to town to rest for the night.

Frambard constructs a makeshift spear.

Into the darkness

The Defenestrators’ torchlight knocks back the magical darkness in this ruin, revealing 2 skeleton riders atop skeletal horses, with a zombie at their vanguard. The group makes quick work of the zombie, but the riders prove difficult. The unholy speed of the horses combined with bow attacks from the skeletons proves that our adventurers cannot rely on simple tactics to defeat their foes.

By utilizing Rey’s javelins and crossbow attacks from Almorn, the party was able to fell one of the riders and force the other to a safe distance. A cleverly placed Entangle from Sikram blocked the path of the remaining rider, and kept him from staying in hit range of the party. The rider met his end once the party established a flanking position around him, and he fell to their repeated blows.

After the battle, the group took a rest to consider their surroundings. Ancient crumbling structures offer little useful information. The ruins are devoid of any items, broken or otherwise that could give a clue to the nature of this place. Exploring onward, the group reaches the only point of interest: the remains of a structure as formless as the rest, but with two lit braziers at its dilapidated entrance.

Cautiously the adventurers approach. There is no activity anywhere they can see, but there is the sound of shuffling coming from inside the structure. Sikram takes the form of a rat and probes deeper. Inside the structure he can make out the remains of stone benches and an altar, suggesting this structure used to be a temple. There is a stairwell leading underground, which appears to be the source of the noise.

He wanders around further, looking for cracks in the floor to peer through. Locating one, he can see there are more zombies and a creature he can’t identify. Sikram returns to the group to report his findings.

As they decide their next move, a group of these undead monstrosities make their way up the stairs. Our boys spring into action, getting into position for a sneak attack.

Absent from this session were Salob and Almorn’s players. We needed a 4th for combat so we kept Almorn as an NPC and left Salob in limbo.


22nd Ascending War, before sunrise.

Sikram rises from the broken glass along with his opponent. The killer and his quarry face off. Before they can duel, Almorn appears with Salob Locin and Reyacrogen. Almorn appeals to the assassin’s desire for self-preservation, “You’re outnumbered. Put down your weapon and we may let you live.”

The assassin complies but before they can do anything, one of the missing assassins rejoins the battle. Not wanting a repeat of the scene inside the inn, the bruised Rey and Salob hop on the back of their bear companion, and the party flees to the nearest guard post a quarter mile away, yelling for the guards the whole way.

The assassins give chase, joined by the third one as they put distance between themselves and the inn. The chase goes poorly for our adventurers, slowed by carrying the wounded. The assassins manage to land a few weapon strikes but it’s not enough to stop the group from reaching earshot of the guard tower. Realizing they’ve failed, the assassins drop into the shadows to evade capture.

Hoping for relief, our adventurers accept the guards’ offer to let them stay in the jail cells for the rest of the night.

22nd Ascending War, after sunrise.

The yesterday’s events must be investigated, so the party heads back to the inn to look for clues. The innkeeper is none too happy to see them, let alone in the middle of cleaning up the mess they left for him. He quickly convinces them he knows nothing while insisting they pay him for the damages. Almorn haggles him down to 3 gp for his troubles.

Our adventurers finally depart for Umbarton.

On the road to Umbarton

Each night Rey and Sikram get in touch with their animal sides and howl at the moon. One night, the call receives a responding howl. Rey is compelled to investigate, with the rest of the party too curious to stay behind.

Tracking proves easy, and the group quickly locates the beast. It’s perched atop a rock formation, its silhouette visible in the moonlight. Rey informs the group he must go on alone, as he wants to engage the animal in a test of wills, a ritual he must engage in to move forward on his spiritual journey. Rey climbs up to meet the wolf, who either doesn’t notice or fear him. As Rey closes in, a clear look at the beast triggers a memory in Rey: he has seen this wolf before. “But I watched her die… didn’t I?”

The wolf shapeshifts and Rey’s world is turned upside down. She takes a humanoid form, that of the mysterious half-elf Melisande. Melisande speaks,

I never dreamed I’d see you again and have to explain what I did. We met all those years ago on the plains and as a bit of childish mischief, I stayed in wolf form. After we spent so much time together I developed strong feelings for you and I did not know what to do. Worse, I knew the path my life was taking and I could not allow you to get drawn in. I faked my own death to free you from the burden.

Our meeting in Albany tracking the same abomination proves our lives are forever intertwined. I must confess that seeing you again brought up feelings I’ve tried hard to forget and now I simply cannot anymore. I love you, Reyacrogen. I can’t stand that you’re involved in this foul business as deeply as I am but I couldn’t ask for a better companion. I want you to take this cloak I had made. It is magical and will protect you from harm.

She further explains that she was looking further into Yannick Hondros and discovered he hired assassins to kill them. He will not let this failure go. She will return to Albany to follow up on what they’ve discovered regarding The Order and keep an eye on Yannick.

After returning to camp, Rey explains what happened to the rest of the crew. He includes the part Melisande left out about their meeting: when he was young he had a wolf companion that ended up saving him from the same doom as his tribe. He’d thought it had died saving his life.

The rest of the trip to Umbarton continues without incident.

26th Ascending War

The party arrives to the town they once visited, to find it in ruins. As they travel closer to investigate, they are set upon by a group of zombies. They quick work of the undead and move closer into the town. They locate a survivor, the proprietor of the general store whom they interacted with in their first visit.

She tells them that they were attacked by a horde of undead and it left no one alive. Setting off to render judgment for this tragedy, the party finds what they’re looking for to the west, in a magically darkened area. Magical darkness proves to be little more than a setback, until the party discovers the ruins of a city with more undead guarding it. As they move to attack, our adventurers steel themselves.

Absent from this session was Frambard Dimble’s player, Joe. Frambard moved to the background.

Bumps in the Night

[In the corner, someone who may have had one or two too many declares – “I’m the mayor of this inn!”. Mayor JD demonstrates his leadership by adding an order of pretzels to the party.]

21st of Ascending War, Evening

It’s been a long day investigating, and the party finds itself in their most recent inn – The Charming Oyster. It’s a busy night, but not crowded – in the background, a bard recounts the tale of an ancient battle between Albany and an army of Dragonborn. Snatches of gossip indicate that their may have been another, recent, murder in the now-empty Reilly household. And, as a reminder of their recent actions, another group can be overheard as discussing a dust-up in Bournmouth, that involved a boy’s death at the hands of a feral Bear.

Almorn apparently has had a few too many, and without prompting, jumps into a slurred speech:
“So, so guys I been thinking. So like – uh
So you may not know this, but I wasn’t always a ranger, like I am now. I used to be pretty different. Different priorities, you know? Uh.
uhm (drinks)
oh yeah. But when those goblins attacked my village, I realized then, like, what really matters? And so I left, to find a straighter path, less materialistic, more honest. And I was good for a while, but these murders, they’ve got me in a bad place, you know?
And I just wanted you guys to know…you’re the best.
(drinks) Really the best.
Uhm, also – what was that place, ambertown…umbear…Umberton! We, we gotta help them. When a village is under attack, man, you can’t just let that slide, you know?”

Salob awkwardly pats Almorn on the back, and gets up from the table on some errand.
Suddenly, there’s a scream outside, and a loud commotion.
The party scrambles outside, and finds the street has cleared out, except for a pack of monsters. A Hellhound, a huge bulking dog, with mottled molten skin and burning eyes, flanked by two flying Imps. They catch sight of the party, and rush in to attack!

The imps start by flying just beyond reach, and turning invisible. The hellhound runs in, and unleashes a bellowing fire breath attack, severely burning all but Salob, who is still in the bar. Sikram turns to his bear form, and attempts to batter back the hound, and the two imps descend on him and start biting and scratching.

Salob exits the bar, and immediately asses the situation. In a fluid motion, he draws his longsword, and charges the hellhound. The swords crackles, and on impact with the hound, explodes a thunderous crack, sending the hound flying backwards, sparks crackling near the wound. The dog bounces, but then rolls to its feet. It runs around, dodging the other members of the party, and picks out the easiest target – Almorn. Still dazed from the fire, a strong bite to his torso drops him.

Frambard starts whispering, a strange bizarre language no one understands, accompanied by occasional arrhythmic plucks of his lute. The dog starts to yip, and then howl, scratching at its own head, and then runs off, before falling over dead. The fire in its eyes and skin goes cold, and it collapses to a pile of ash.

The imps break free of Sikram, and start to attack Reyacrogan, who is soon overwhelmed. Salob comes to Reya’s aid, but the battle is looking grim, with all the warriors exhausted and bleeding. Frambard plays an impish lullaby, and both of them glide down to the ground and snooze lightly.

Sikram returns to his humanoid form, and conjures some berries to heal the party. Salob takes a handful of the berries to Almorn, and revives him with a glowing finger. Almorn refuses the berries, though, instead staggering to his feet. He limps over towards one of the unconscious imps, slowly preparing his crossbow as he goes. He puts crossbow directly to an imps head, and sends a bolt through its brains. The rest of the party then surround the other imp, and quickly finish it off.

Frambard considers for a moment, and then ponders aloud – “This is really odd. Hellhounds usually travel in large packs, not alone like this. And why are Hellhounds and Imps traveling together? And in the mortal plane? I don’t think this is a random happenstance, they may have been summoned”

The party makes its way back in to the inn, and settles in for the night – Frambard and Almorn in their own rooms, and Reya, Salob, and Sikram sharing a suite.

22nd of Ascending War, early after midnight.

Frambard has the same nightmare as earlier – his father calling out to him, and then a hook slitting his throat. This time, however, when his palm is opened, Frambard can make out the object – a bloody Order medallion. Looking up, the figure is now Hook. He walks back, smirking, to three shrouded figures, with glowing Order medallions. They turn and walk away. Frambard wakes with a start – a hooded figure is standing over his bed, shortsword at the ready!

Thinking quickly, Frambard lets out a scream like a Gnomish housewife. The rest of the party wakes up, discovering assassins over Reyacrogan and Salob as well. Sensing Frambard’s fear, Sikram bounds out of the suite to his aid. He returns to his druidic form, and starts a chant. The assassin’s blade heats up, burning his hand, and he drops it. Frambard uses the opportunity to attempt to sleep his opponent, but he fails.

In the other room, Salob grabs his sword, and performs a quick blessing. Salob and Reyacrogan attempt to fight off their assailants, but they seem to be outmatched.

Almorn stealthily exits his own room, and sneaks along the shadows, unseen by all. At this point, Melisande bursts in to the inn, and yells – “Guys! Run!”. She then turns into a wolf, and bounds up the stairs, hoping to help cover a retreat.

Sikram attempts to Thunder Wave Frambard’s would-be assassin out the window, but the assassin deflects the brunt of the blast. Frambard uses the opportunity to rush out the room. The attacker follows right after him, though, and soon overtakes him, bringing a powerful kick from behind – enough to send Frambard over the railing’s edge! Frambard, however, was expecting this. With a deft maneuver, he bounces off the assasin’s foot, somersaults once in the air, and lands on his feet on the floor a story below. After a moment to catch his breath, he runs out of the Inn to safety.

Reyacrogan has fallen in battle, and Salob won’t leave him behind. Salob manages to grapple one of the assassins, and throws him through a nearby window, shattering it. Almorn appears suddenly, and with a cold fury in his voice, shouts “FLEE!” at the other assassin. The assassin is clearly shaken, and runs out of the room, and down the stairs. Melisande bounds after, and bites him in the leg. Salob lays hands on Reyacrogan, stirring him back to conciousness. “I think it’s time to leave this one”, says Almorn. He grabs a rope from Reya’s pack, and quickly ties it to a bedpost. Reyacrogan slides down the rope. Salob and Almorn throw the remaining packs out the window, then Salob picks up Almorn and exits the Inn by means of the window.

In Frambard’s room, the remaining assassin has turned around, to finish off Sikram. Sikram charges the assailant, and mid bound, transforms into a bear. He bear-hugs his opponent, and his momentum carries him through the wall on the opposite side, and they spill out into the street below.

While not defeated, the assassins are now scattered, and have lost the advantage of surprise and isolation. What comes next?

In and out of jail
Is the party responsible enough to own a bear?

19th of Ascending War

Yannich does not seem to be very cooperative with our investigation. His boys lock the doors and roll initiative! Like that scene in Gangs of New York except they roll some dice.

The encounter itself ends fairly quickly. Bear-sikram kills a minimum-wage worker. Yannich is bloodied, and attempts an escape, but is stopped by Frambard’s sleep-inducing lullaby.

More workers come in through the door.

Salob holds his sword over Yannich – “Come any closer and he gets it!”.

The workers congregate in a corner, and we wake Yannich. We learn that Hook is an assassin, and is renting a storage unit near the warehouse. Hook is currently meeting with dignitaries in the Order: Elizabeth and Abraham Zinna. Reya takes the key to the storage unit.

Salob and Reya talk to the nightwatch commander, updating him on the party’s progress. “How have you made so much progress so far?”. “We talked to accomplices, such as Yannich”. “There might be an incident soon, relating to this murder”. “Yannich is well connected. I can’t offer much help at the moment”.

Back at the inn: Almorn, Sikram, and Frambard rent two rooms. One under the name Frambard, and one under an assumed name. In Frambard’s room, Almorn props up some pillows beneath the bed covers, in the shape of a sleeping figure. Sikram adds a stench to the pillows, to add to the illusion. A crude alarm system is fashioned, consisting of twine, a bucket, and metal objects.

Almorn makes a show of carousing, and being drunk, and heads up to sleep it off.

Nothing happens.

20th of Ascending War

We are arrested in the Inn for the murder of the warehouse worker. An hour is spent with no way out. Seems as if the day is lost, along with 5gp each.

21st of Ascending War

Salob gracefully handles the situation with the guard on morning watch. The guards allow the party to cooperate with the investigation, with some restrictions. Everyone has location-tracking marks applied, which allows the guards to scry our location. Sikram has a geas applied: another murder will have dire consequences.

We go to the storage unit and find:

- A kill order for Harper Riley, mentioning Yannich.
- A kill order for Cristopher, signed by Craig (leader of the order)
- 1700 copper, 1200 silver, 80 gold, engraved gold ring, small mirror in painted wooden frame, black velvet mask stitched with silver thread, pair of engraved bone dice. Three potions of unknown consequence.

Almorn makes two copies of the letters. Frambard takes the original documents. We leave the rest.

Sikram reunites with Melisande, and Melisande reunites with Rey? Sikram says too much to Melisande, but she has been very helpful, so she comes along. Perhaps she s the key to infiltrating the Order.

We visit Gargan, but Almorn stays at an inn, to avoid any trouble with Gargan.

We learn from Gargan that Elizabeth and Abraham Zinna report directly to Blaise Cross, leader of the Order. It would not be wise to directly confront any of these people. They are far too powerful.

We attempt to form a plan but come up empty. Where are we going next?

Journey to Albany

We took the loot and return the amulet to Liliana. Frambard interrogates her, but all ends well.

We travel for days, sometimes camping on the plains other times staying in an inn. Winter is beginning. Sikram and I track down a brown bear hibernating with her cubs. We leave them undisturbed.

We are in an inn, known for its special brews. Salob and I take two with us to travel. It is said this drink is best before your final battle, that one will face fully his life and death and not be found wanting. The gnomes continue to be odd. Deceiving those when they can, and keeping to themselves otherwise. Sikram has been quiet since the bear spotting, spending most of his time in wolf form. There are stories of undead attacking villages in parts of this land, but for now our quest lies elsewhere. We’re hoping to pick up the trail of the hooked man once we get into Albany.

We make it into Albany. Another gruesome death like Frambard’s father has been reported. We talk to some guards while Sikram waits outside. When we return he is with another elf. she takes her leave as the rest of us arrived, looking as if she’s seen a great fear. We head toward an old pirate’s house.

I do not know if Almorn is insane or partially damaged. As we talk with the old pirate Gargan he attempts to steal from right in front of him. Salob settles the situation and we get more information about our murderer: Hook.

Today we head to Bournemouth to talk with Yannich.


Kobolds in the Forest

[a small tavern in a small town, many miles away – a mysterious stranger walks in, hands the barkeep a sizable chunk of silver pieces, and buys a round for everyone. A local regular raises his glass and asks “To whom do I owe my thanks?”. The stranger responds – Markis]

In-game date: 11th of Ascending War, +0

Rasso, the were-rat, lies dead. It is then, conveniently, that Liliana catches up. “Thanks for clearing out that first bit. The rest of the path should be easy from here.”. At the moment, though, the party is tired from the long battle, and sets up a makeshift camp by a lit brazier. After a quick deliberation, they set up a watch rotation, and nod off to sleep. Sikram, after a short meditative trance, breaks camp, and starts exploring the area.

Not long into his sleep, Frambard snaps back to conciousness – is someone rumaging around in his pocket!? He turns over to find Liliana, quite red-handed. After a moment, she just withdraws her hand, smiles and shrugs, and says “Can’t blame a girl for trying, can you?”. Frambard is stunned speechless, and edits the watch schedule to replace Liliana’s shift with his own. Gathering his belongings close, he drifts off to an uneasy sleep….

And finds himself in a nightmare. “Frambard…Frambard…” a voice calls. In the inky darkness, Frambard spots a figure. “Father?”. “Frambard…I..”. Suddenly, the ghostly figure of his father is grabbed from behind, by a large arm ending in a nasty hook. The hook tears through the figure’s throat. His father stretches out his arm, as if to give Frambard something. He urgently gestures, but in the nightmare, Frambard has no hands with which to take the proffered object. Finally, the figure just drops whatever it is, and it falls away into the foggy nothingness of the dream. Frambard awakes with a start.

In the morning, it becomes apparent that Frambard wasn’t the only one with a weird night – Almorn has been mumbling to himself, staring trance-like at the walls, ceiling, fire, and generally weirding -a few people-everyone out. Reyacrogan asks – “Hey, you all right?”, to which Almorn responds – “Sure, why wouldn’t I be?”. Reyacrogan is concerned about the behaviour, but Almorn shrugs it off – maybe it was just the effects of fatigue?

Frambard also has questions for Almorn – Almorn doesn’t seem the religious type, and deities don’t have a track record of meddling in the day-to-day affairs of mortals. What happened in the battle with the giant bats? “Can’t a gnome have his superstitions?”. Further questioning is cut off, by an overheard conversation between Reyacrogan and his battle-partner, Salob.

“In the lands I called home, I twice saw a rare event – harsh and scarce hunting conditions, and the deaths of a key members, forced two separate wolf packs to join as one.

The first time this occured, the packs joined seamlessly, as if they were already the closest kin. Working together, they were able to track and kill their prey, and they survived the winter.

The second time I witnessed, however, had a different outcome – the wolves bickered and fought among themselves – scaring away game, and attracting unwanted attention from hunters. In the end, they all perished.

I know what being a true warrior means to you, Salob, but if our pack is to survive – we can’t be bickering internally. Our newfound cubs may not be the hardiest in battle, but we do depend on them, and they on us"

Salob considers this for a minute. “I won’t give anyone credit, that can’t care for themselves. For your sake though, my friend, I’ll keep my tongue to myself. And your ear, of course”.

The party breaks camp, and, with Liliana’s guidance, traverses the remaining tunnels without incident. Under the warm midday sun, our heroes take a moment to reflect on everything that’s happened so far, and they feel a little stronger for it.

“I’ve held up my end of the bargain, there should be no guards patrols out here. The kobolds are up to you – I’ll be waiting on the outskirts of the forest for your return.”. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any specific information on the location of the kobold lair. After a brief discussion on tracing tracks, Almorn discusses the situation with a local squirrel, who agrees to guide the party.

About an hour’s travel into the forest, Almorn holds up a hand, and the party stops. Small, dog-like creatures are watching from the trees – kobolds! They attack! Sikram distracts the apparent leader with an illusory bird-sound, and uses the moment’s distraction to shapeshift into a wolf. He leaps upon the kobold, but his jaws meet only air. Sensing a kobold in the tree behind him, Frambard panics, and pulls of a hasty shot, that goes wide. Almorn carefully lines up the same shot, and puts a crossbow bolt right through a kobold skull. The kobold wavers for a moment, then drops to the forest floor with a thud. Almorn then pivots in place, as another kobold is preparing its sling, and drops it as well.

Another kobold in another tree lets loose a sling-stone, but its aim is wildly off, and it hits the leader. Salob bound to this tree, and fires a globule of acid spit – but the kobold dodges deftly to another branch. This branch is slightly lower, affording salob the opportunity to make a heroic leap and, just barely, catch the kobold with his sword, felling it.

The remainder of the kobolds advance on the party, slinging stones at the wolf. A javelin takes out one, a rapier another, and a vicious wolf bite to the jugular, the third. Frambard starts to sing an inspiring song. One last kobold sneaks through the brush, and its stone strikes Almorn in the shoulder. Almorns reactions are heightened by Frambard’s song, and he quickly returns fire. The kobolds are defeated, but the squirrel guide has run off, in a fit of self-preservation.

The party searches the bodies of the kobolds, finding merely 128 copper pieces to split amongst themselves. Sikram pauses for a moment, thinking. “I was much more effective that fight, in the body of a wolf. But I think I can find a form even more powerful – a bear. I’m sure one lurks in this forest.”. Reyacrogan is skeptical – “Are you sure there’s bears in this forest? Doesn’t look like the type” Sikram is sure. However, despite his surety, he can’t find even a hint of a bear trail. Perhaps the barbarian was right?

They continue on, following an obvious trail. When the trail dies out, a set of tracks nearby lead the party the rest of the way, to a dark and damp cave. Carefully, the party enters the cave, and finds themselves in a staring contest with two kobolds, obscured by shadows. “Bring us the amulet, or we will feast on your bones!” yells Salob, in the kobolds’ native Draconic. One slinks back into the shadows, while the other stands still. Impatient, Salob, Reyacrogan, and Sikram advance on the other kobold. As they get close, though, they fail to notice a tripwire strung taught between two pillars, and they’re trapped beneath a heavy net. Suddenly, the air is filled with the whiz of stones.

This battle proves much more difficult than the affair in the forest. The kobolds show themselves only two or three at a time, striking with slings from the shadows, and fading. The warriors charge on in pursuit, and are twice more trapped beneath cleverly placed traps. It’s a battle of attrition, however, and the cave eventually once more falls quiet.

At the back of the cave is a simple but sturdy-looking chest – perhaps this is where the kobolds store their ill-gotten gains. Reyacrogan moves to smash it open, but Almorn shouts “Wait! Given the rest of the cave, surely the chest is booby-trapped? Besides, we don’t want to break the amulet – surely one of these bodies has the key?”. A short search reveals that one of the bodies does, indeed, have the key. The rest of the party stands back a safe distance, as Reyacrogan unlocks the chest. He lifts it slowly, but then stops, noticing a mysterious mechanism.

Frambard inspects the mechanism, and begins careful tinkering. He pulls this, adjusts that, and then snips a wire – he goes tense for a moment, but the moment passes, and the chest opens freely. Next to the lock, there’s a needle and a nasty looking pool of green liquid, surely a deadly poison. Besides the trap, though, the chest is filled to the brim with the kinds of items the adventures do like to see – 2,000 Copper Pieces, 1,500 Silver Pieces, 40 Gold Pieces, 3 small gold bracelets, a carved bone statuette, and, yes, Liliana’s amulet.

Navigating the tunnels

In-game date: 11th Ascending War +0

Deep in the catacombs, apart from the sunlight above, it’s hard to mark the passage of time. The party completes their rest, and prepares to journey onward through the abandoned hallways. Exercising a great deal of caution (or perhaps paranoia), Sikram and Frambard listen at the door for several minutes before opening it and continuing.

Down the next hallway, Salob spots a suspicious-looking tile. Wary of traps, he decides to test the path ahead by tossing a gnome. He moves to grab Almorn by his collar and belt, but Almorn deftly dodges, and, incensed, draws a dagger. Frambard plays the diplomat, and calms the situation, while Sikram gathers a more suitable test weight – the ever-present rat corpse.

Their caution was wise – after taking the weight of only a few rats, the suspicious tiles crumble away into a chamber 15 feet deep. Reyacrogan, bored with the slow pace and eager to continue, attempts to jump the corner gap to the solid corridor beyond. However, the scree from the crumbled floor, along the remnants of the rat remains, make for a slippery surface, and he nearly falls into the deep pit. His platonic warrior-partner, Salob, catches him in time. With a bit more consideration, Reyacrogan makes the jump safely, and sets up a rope guide to assist the rest of the party across.

At the end of the short corridor, the party finds a spacious room – with 15 feet high doors, and a 30 foot concave roof. In the darkness overhead, dim shapes or symbols can be seen. On closer inspection, the roof is covered in bats! In the center of the room lies some sort of mound or pyramid. Clearly constructed, judging by the symbols carved around the bottom, but lost to the ravages of time. A fading memory of the previous inhabitants of this land.

The party continues on, quietly kicking down the doors, so as not to wake the bats overhead. The next area is a long, broad corridor, perhaps 30 feet wide. Lurking in the shadows are a trio of giant bats, which aren’t sleeping – and attack!

Almorn reacts quickly, notching a crossbow bolt. But as he draws the string back – it snaps! “Shoddy human craftsmanship”, he grumbles. The bat he had been aiming for wastes no time in overrunning the gnome, grabbing him in its claws and flying upwards.

A second bat is in melee with Sikram and Salob. Sikrams whip glances harmlessly off the creature’s hide, who responds with a deep bite to Salob. Salob responds with a sword blow, then gets into position to catch the sure-to-fall gnome. Reyacrogan steps in to take Salob’s place.

Almorn struggles in the bat’s grip, clearly afraid of heights. He clasps the lucky charm on his necklace, and performs some superstitious good-luck gesture – perhaps a prayer to Garl Glittergold? While there’s not much hope – it seems to work! A terrible screeching sound emanates from somewhere in the walls, and the bats are momentarily distracted. Almorn takes the opportunity to wriggle free, and lands with a flourish in front of Salob.

The bat, enraged, strikes down on the pair. Salob meets the downward motion of the bat with his own upward thrust of a sword. Almorn rolls out of the way, draws both his daggers, and lunges back in. His blades strike true, puncturing the beast’s jugular, and piercing between some ribs. The beast falls, and Salob’s scaly foot finishes the struggle.

Reyacrogan is having a worse time. The remaining two bats are causing quite a bit of trouble. Frambard plays a soothing melody, which even in the midst of battle, manages to cause one of them to doze off, landing on the ground with a dull thump. The other one, however, remains awake, and takes a good chunk out of Reyacrogan’s shoulder.

“No one makes me bleed my own blood but me!” cries the barbarian, who attacks the bat with newfound fury. Sikram manages to land a thorn-whip, drawing the ire of the bat, who leaps to retaliate. Reyacrogan chops the beast’s head off mid-leap.

The party gathers around the third bat, still asleep. Unable to defend itself, it is quickly dispatched.

As the party finishes the skirmish, Salob, SIkram, and Reyacrogan notice a door quietly close out of the corner of their eyes. Was someone watching? Though the party is weary, they quickly press on to find the watcher.

The door leads to a very large room, lined with stone pews, a brazier burning at the far end. Something skitters along the walls, but it otherwise seems unoccupied. The party starts to investigate.

Almorn wanders into the middle of the room, and is caught unawares by a stab in the back. “Rasso!” the attacker cries, and Almorn drops to the floor. The party rushes in, but the mysterious attacker ducks behind a pew and disappears from sight. Reyacrogan stems the gnome’s bleeding, and then he and Salob round the pew, seeking their foe.

The battle having moved onward, Frambard comes in, and uses his magic to restore Almorn to fighting condition.

Rasso tries to strike Salob from behind, but the ringmail armor does its duty, and soon Rasso finds himself surrounded by SIkram, Salob, and Reyacrogan. Closer in, it’s clear that this Rasso must be the dreaded were-rat! The silvered swords seem to burn the wretched creature, who screams in pain. Sikram grapples Rasso with his thorn whip, though the proximity affords Rasso the chance for a critical bite, and Sikram falls. Not long after, Rasso himself is beat, panting on the floor. “Kill…Rasso…” he pants – and Reyacrogan obliges, splitting his head.

At the end of the large room, the party thinks it can see a way out the other side of the tunnels. They pause to collect their breaths, lick their wounds, and prepare…

Characters awarded 155 xp for the dungeon.

Into the tunnels

In-game date: 10th Ascending War +0

The party has identified a prime suspect for the murder of Christopher – a hook-handed man who seems to have skipped town on a ship headed for Albany. Since the city is on lockdown until the mystery is resolved, another avenue of exit is necessary. One of Salob’s contacts, a smuggler named Liliana, offers a solution…

The party meets Liliana at a local tavern, The Pleasant Beaver. She agrees to share a secret passage, in exchange for assistance retrieving a stolen family heirloom from nearby Kobolds. There are ancient unused corridors which pass underneath the city walls. However, besides their obscurity, the passageways remain unused due to the dangers they contain – monsters that, from description, the party believes are were-rats.

To prepare for the journey, the party makes its way to one of the many local armories – The Obsidian Armorer. The most effective weapon against were-rats, and were-beasts of any kind, is a silvered one. The shopkeeper offers to silver weapons for 90GP apiece. Salob and Reyacrogan spend their advance, along with the contents of Frambard’s father’s chest, and the barbarian and warrior leave the shop with swords primed for rat-killing. They briefly consider a chest-bump, but hold off.

Preparations complete, the party makes its way to the tunnels. Down a flight of stairs, and the light from the outside dims, and so the party’s torches are lit. The corridors are crealrly unused, covered in a layer of dust, and littered with rat droppings – some too large to be from mere rats. On opening the first door, the party finds a blood-soaked floor – and a nest of vicious rats attacks!

Reyacrogan is caught a bit off-guard, and his recently silvered sword connects more with the stone floor than with any rodent. The pests are quickly dispatched, however.

After the battle, Sikram runs off to open another door on his own, heedless of the dangers that may lie beyond. Fortunately, the elf was too physically frail to actually accomplish something so simple as opening a door.

Passing into the room beyond the rats’ nest, the party finds some sort of box – and rats pouring in through the walls! Rats swarm Salob’s scaly ankles, and he falls to the ground. Fortunately, Frambard is able to rouse him. Almorn attempts to pulverize a rat in one of the wall-holes with his quarterstaff, but the rat dodges, runs up the staff, and bites him in the neck. Almorn grapples the disgusting creature, and throws it on the ground.

On closer inspection, the box is an elegant coffin – albiet an empty one, which crumbles under Frambard’s hands. Sikram gathers rat corpses, and plugs up the wall-holes using said corpses. The party prepares to rest and recover…

The investigation

In-game date: 10th Ascending War +0

The party starts their inquiry into the death of Christopher Dimble. After interviewing a handful of Calcherth’s citizens, they have one solid lead: a man with a hook in place of his right hand.

Unfortunately, following this lead comes with challenges. The city is locked tight while the official investigation goes on, and the mayor’s promise that they will be allowed to leave is not reassuring. Meanwhile, their suspect is getting away on the last ship leaving the city.

The party met up with a smuggler in town who can get them out, but she needs a favor. She’s lost a precious family heirloom that she needs help getting back. Will they agree to her terms? Can they locate their suspect before he disappears?


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