Monday, January 28, 2008

Out of the Dragon's Cave and into the Forge

Chapter One: Storm and Disaster
Our story began several months ago. "Tosser", an elderly dwarven caravan master, whose actual name was Gamil Trigersen, hires a group of mercenaries to guard a shipment of supplies headed for Gamil Zirakdumdûm, the dwarven mine on the mountain. Tosser has been hiring mercenaries for this bi-monthly supply run for years. It's a regular milk-run a week up the mountain with supplies and a week down the mountain with ore. No one has ever seriously tried to attack it. Even so, Tosser is always careful to choose only the best and most honest soldiers to be had in Khazadhame and never any mages or rogues. This time is different. Tosser pointedly hires Jennifred, a warmage of some repute and the youngest Hechensplecher, a known rogue. There are rumors that something has happened at the mine. Nothing has been heard from the delving for the last two weeks. In the taverns, men and elves talk of strange creatures being seen among the trees on the forest road. The dwarves will say nothing at all to anyone.

Besides the hired mercenaries, the caravan party consists of Tosser and six other dwarves , an elf and an half-orc. Bem a young dwarven drover who is constantly under foot and Tebor drive the first wagon. Belisandra an elven maid and K'Maggar have charge of a heavily laden buckboard filled with supplies. K'Nolan an aged warrior drives the great Vardo that is both chuck wagon and home to the mercenaries with his wife M'Karro the caravan's cook. Nox, a surly taciturn dwarf drives a final heavily laden buckboard. Vos, a hulking half-orc, walks point some sixty paces in front of the wagons while Tosser, on a great war-ram, rides up and down the train. The mercenaries walk along side the wagons on both sides. They are Sonara, a drover in charge of the three herds of sheep and goats rides a well trained pony. Selena, an expert elven archer and stalker, on foot. Jennifred the warmage, whose sweet demeanor is so at odds with her profession. Vandar Hechensplecher the respected paladin and his younger brother Heinrich the thief. Finally the warrior _____ rounds out the mercenaries.

Sonara has worked the caravan run many times though none of the others have. She knows the shrewd eyed Tosser and his ever present bodyguard Vos. Vos is a stalwart and ever ready campaigner with a visage and demeanor only his mother could love, assuming of course whe was blind and half drunk. So Sonara is very surprised to see Jennifred bring the huge old half-orc a lovely bouquet of flowers. For a moment the old soldier stands stunned staring at the gift from the lovely mage then without warning he lets out a tremendous sneeze blowing the fragrant blossoms apart with its force. Vos is quickly overcome with sneezing and the tension surrounding the caravan is wiped away amid peals of laughter as the caravan sets out onto the Gundu road.

The good humor from Jennifred's merriment lasts but a short while. Soon unseasonably sharp winds blow cold from the Bundushathur mountains. Within hours icy rain begins to soak the party the hardpack road quickly becomes muddy soup. Soon the mercenaries can not walk on the road but must ride in and on the wagons, dismounting more and more frequently to heave the wagons from the viscose goo that the road has become. Tosser continues to ride alongside on his war-ram and Sonara on her sturdy mountain pony chases her bedraggled charges. Only Vos seems unaffected by the drenching storm.

Five days of sodden marching leaves the party exhausted. That evening the storm picks up to wild howl that allows no fire to be made. This night was made for treachery. Nox poisons the many of the caravan and locks all but a handful of the mercenaries in the vardo. Midst the winds and cutting rain the remaining mercenaries do not spy the enemy until it is almost too late. A ranting goblin riding an immense ogre casts spells of death while hobgoblin raiders tear and rend the caravaneers. Within moments most of the party lies dead or wounded and Nox escapes with a heavy box that had been locked within the first wagon.

Chapter Two: Fort and Fear

Dawn finds only the mercenaries, Vos and Belisandra left alive from the caravan party. White snow, fallen during the night, camouflages the dead bodies of horses and dwarves. Sonara tells the party that the party that the way station for Gamil Zirakdumdûm is not too far off. Gathering what they can the party makes its way through the woods to a fortified redoubt. There they find that the way station's inhabitants have been engaged in a recent battle with giants and hobgoblins. Many are dead and no one has heard anything from the mine higher up the mountain. Some of the mercenaries try to aid the wounded peoples from the station while the remainder accompany Vos to gather the supplies from the wreckage of the caravan. By late afternoon all are gathered again within the fort. The way station dwarves seem reluctant to tell the mercenaries anything that might have caused the attacks on the caravan or here at the fort. Heinrich, tires quickly of their mistrust and after a bit of scouting discovers that the great central well of the little fortress is also an elevator. The mercenaries ride it down and find a heavily trapped door leading into a passage.

They decide to wait until the next day to investigate and ride the elevator back to the surface. Before they can even discuss their new findings the fort is attacked. As before the attack is led by a ranting goblin upon an ogres back. Hordes of hobgoblins assault the walls while two great ogres attempt to batter down the fort's gate. At the last possible moment the mercenaries drive off the enemy but not before Nox robs the fort. The mercenaries give chase aided by a mysterious human they had helped heal during the afternoon. The mystery man catches up to Nox and slays him as the party arrives.

Nox's body contains a map as well as tools marking him as an assassin and thief. Nox had been attempting to kill a dwarven sage as well as stealing certain maps. He had stolen a powerful artifact from the caravan wagon. An artifact that allows transport of mithral ore from the mine directly to the hall of the dwarven king. The mercenaries also discover that they are facing fanatical followers of a new religion.

Chapter Three: Spelunking and Spiders

Having the talked with the dwarven sage, the mercenaries decide to follow the corridors into the mine. They have been told they must get to the grand hall of Gamil Zirakdumdûm and destroy a great stone to prevent the artifact from being used by the followers of the Allthing. At the end of a hallway they find the three week old dead body of a noble dwarf bearing a small fortune in gems and another map. They surmise that he may have been attempting to escape the Allthings attack on the mine or may have treacherously allowed the Allthings armies within. Beyond the body a door leads further into the dwarven mines, specifically it leads to the menagerie. Here the mercenaries first encounter the wild magic that exists in the mithral mine. They are split apart when a wall forms where none had been before. Heinrich and the mysterious stranger are forced to face some sort of otherworldly demon while Jennifred and company square off against nearly a score of spider golem things. In the ensuing battle Sonara's pony is slain and the mercenaries are forced to make a deal with a tribe of fairies.

Chapter Four: Beasts and Bumping things

The mercenaries are once more back together and move further into the mine. After dealing with a number of traps they find themselves in a pitched battle with giant elemental rhinos. With quick wit and a little luck they defeat the behemoths but before they can rest they are assaulted with pounding from without the caverns walls. This leads to a nasty fight with a kensai and a mad elven mage. The mercenaries narrowly defeat them and in the process are reunited with several of the fairies.

Chapter Five: Fey and Freaked Out Assistants

The mercenaries hardly have time to lick their wounds before they are attacked by a pair of Fey who claim to have come for the fairies who are with the mercenaries. Fortune smiles on the mercenaries and they beat the Fey. This leads them to a stairway that leads to a hidden door. Heinrich manages to open it and the mercenaries find themselves in the presence of the assistant to the nutso mage who had so recently tried to kill them. The assistant turns out to be a nasty, smelly, craven creature but she does tell the party that her master was not always mad and evil. In fact her master was one of the foremost experts on extra planer travel. It seems he had been hired to build a transport device for the dwarven king. In doing so the mage seemingly lost control and among other things summoned an adult black dragon archmage.

On order to get into the throne room and destroy the stone the mercenaries must first remove this dragon.

Chapter Six: Zombies and Zero Chances

While attempting to find a way to remove the dragon the mercenaries find themselves in an alternate world where zombies have destroyed a civilization. Within an unlikely building the mercenaries find the dragon's offspring and treachery.

Chapter Seven: Dragons and Diplomacy

The mercenaries convince the dragon to go save her young from their cannibalistic father. In so doing they recapture the throne room.

Chapter Eight: Royal Deals and Rancid Deities

The mercenaries find themselves in the great dwarven city of Barazinbar. They have been summoned from the mine by the King. It has been over three months since the vile dragon Kibil-nâla was banished from this plane. Three months of bitter fighting between the dwarves of Khazadhame and the forces of the Allthing. The battles have been costly for the dwarves but they have revealed some of the mystery surrounding the Allthing. The Allthing's armies initially were drawn from the tribes of ogres, hobgoblins and goblins that inhabited the mountains but now the Allthing's armies are largely comprised of undead raised from the battlefields. Undead that are curiously resistant to turning and the powers of holy folk(20% divine magic resistance). The Allthing's priests are shrouded in a green mist that slays all who venture within arms reach of them and they rise again moments after they are felled. The Allthing's armies never attack unless it is night or the weather is severe. Dwarven armies sent against the creature tend to rise and turn on their comrades and the Allthing's armies grow. It is estimated that more than thirty thousand creatures, humans and dwarves have now succumbed to the Allthing's power.

The mercenaries have now actually seen the Allthing. It is a floating sphere some five feet across with tentacled eyestalks (it does appear to be a beholder but a strangely tiny one). Its body looks to be riddled with glowing holes.

As the game begins the mercenaries have been summoned by the King. The mercenaries are now ninth level and the city is a major center of civilization.

Iconics 2

Iconics 2