Day 34 out of Midhaf
Return from Tavern to Apts with Perzelle.
Middle of Night, messenger comes from Ben Nevis; Caravan delayed by 1-2 days.
Growing signs of unrest in town, protesters holding signs:
and right next to him:
It has not escaped notice that there is a large and powerful Wizard's Guild, and yet there has been no sign of powerful magicks being used to defend the town.
Over a month has passed since we left Midhaf, and winter is approaching the Firetips. The Northern Gate is starting to snow in, and the pass below is becoming less accessible.
Talk to Librarian: The influence of Tiamat is evident in the actions of the Merchants. Discussion ensues, Marilena takes her leave, he gives her a feather token to use to inform them if she finds out something.
We find an ancient map. Far off to the west across the Orangefells Pass is the Simlek Old Growth Forest. Just east and to the north of that is the town of Kinseque. As bad as the FTC is, Kinseque is an even greater hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
Meet up with Caravan just inside the North Gate of the FTC in early morning. About 20-30 packmules are loaded with sacks and boxes of weapons. There are also a number of animal handlers, as well as the 5 warforged from the encounter at the Caverns Tavern.
The weapons that can be seen are of very high quality. It would seem that at least some portion of the reputation of Dwarves of the Firetip Caverns is well-earned. There seems to be enough weapons to equip a small army of between 300-500.
The emissary of Ben Nevis arrives, and provides some cursory direction and confirmation of our mission. The Warforged Captain decides that since we're short of animal handlers, we'll split up into 2 groups of mules, with our party taking the former and his party taking the latter. At least that way he'll be able to pick up any stragglers from our group.
We make our way to the gate, the dwarven guards look somewhat nonplussed. They tell us that the Giants are mostly attacking to the south tonight. A discussion and analysis of tactics yields little fruit. Through an immensely complex and overmechanised process, the gate is opened, and we head out into the frigid black of the very early morning.
It would appear that we could be better equipped for the task at hand.
The half-elf that heads our group of animal handlers demonstrates himself to be quite adept at his trade. We fall somewhat short of that mark. After crippling several packmules, we make the valley floor. The valley itself is a deep rift carved from the living rock by a receding glacier, visible off to the northeast. The valley floor is strewn with the rocky remnants of the glacier's passage.
Complex Skill Challenge: 10 pass before 3 fail
So we reach the bottom w/o the benefit of the Warforged and have to wait for them to catch up. As we rally up the packmules and prepare to wait for the warforged, the first of the suns rays pick out the shape of a black dragon circling in the clouds.
Fortunately the black dragon attacks us, and helps us while the time. Though the fight was long, we prove victorious, and as we're mopping up the aftermath, the warforged and the rest of the caravn shows up. It takes a few minutes to get the gear re-settled on to living from nonliving mules, and then we head back off into the valley. The warforged captain tells us that killing the dragon may cause "complications". While living is more complicated that death, we feel that we chose the better option.
As we travel through the valley into the orangefells pass, we can see the mighty Hearthforge Glacier gleaming in the morning sun. It is truly breathtaking.
Around midday we are set upon by a horde of kobolds being driven before a massive earth titan. We tackle the horde, and then hide to ambush the titan. Titan spots us, we smack at it. It laughs, it gives Kiranth a good whack, we stare at each other for a second and then it leaves to go herd some more kobolds.
After we stop to change shorts, we decided to camp about a half hour up the pass, away from the dripping ichor of the defeated mules. With the gear repacked, we realise that we're about one pack short. It's surmised that that pack is wedges under mule remains in a rock crevice or something.
Around the campfire that night, we discover from the Captain that he is prone to waxing nostalgaic and that his 5 are all that remains of a company of 500 warforged originally created. We ask him what he knows about Midhaf, he doesn't know much. Regading himself and his comrades, he alludes to the fact that the symbols and writing on his chassis has warn down through the years. When it is finally gone, he will cease to be. He seems to welcome the idea of a final peaceful slumber, and hopes that no gods get in the way of it.
He relates the story of the hearthstone glacier, telling of the flight of the Dwarves from their Giant slavemasters. it seems that in antiquity the dwarves fought a valiant running battle through these passes, eventually wining their freedom. It is said that some Frost Giants were trapped in the deep frozen lakes within the glacier, and immune to the cold, live there to this day, driven insane by their isolation and waiting silently for the last of teh glacier to melt, freeing them. When that day comes, there will be a great final battle and only one race - giant or dwarf will stand afterwards.
The rendesvous is 2-3 days south of Kinseque. We will not be passing near it on our journey. As the days pass the weather gets warmer. We pass from the glacial valley into the Orangefells Pass.
Continue on through the Orangefells Pass into the Orangefells itself. The rendesvous is an old hunting lodge, next to a dry river bed. As we emerge from the pass, we enter a thick forest.
We break out of the forest onto an open plain. Within a few hours, we arrive at the dry river bed. It's clear that in warmer seasons, it runs with the pure waters of the glacial melt. We follow it south and leads us to the hunting lodge just after midday. Several horses are teid up outside and smoke rises from the chimney. The aroma of freshly cooked meat stirs are withered taste buds grown dull from long days of only the Colonel's Never-ending Bucket .
Our Human buyers come out to greet us. They have been here for a few days already and have had time to hunt. They are glad to finally be receiving their shipment of weapons, and seem eager to put them to use in defense of their lands. The lead human is a male, decked out almost head to toe in furs.
Over dinner that evening, we overhear stories that the approaching armada is in fact the Gegelore. The armada is massive both in number of ships and the size of the ships themselves (though scale and logic are not perhaps the strongest among the storytellers). The invading army is definitely coming though. And will be there soon.
Marilena performs a ritual to helps us decide our next course of action.
The magic blue hand points first to water as the orb segment that will yield the greatest reward. Then we ask who we should back in the FTC Coup - it first leans towards the merchants as the most personally rewarding to us, but then goes to the lord mayor when we clarify what is best for the dwarves. Finally, we ask which way to the water orb segment, and the hand points north.
Despite the weariness of a long journey, the evening's sleep is fitful.
Morning arises, and the
argument debate over the preferred course of action resumes. While we're chattering, both the humans and the warforged depart; the humans towards their lands in teh west, and the warforged in the direction of Kinseque to find more work.
We finish breakfast and begin round two of the debate as we spy lightning flashing out of the west-facing window of the lodge. Under a clear blue sky, the lightning has the added oddity of being horizontal and not vertical. We quickly pack our gear and send the elf-and-a-half stealthily forward.
About a half mile from the lodge, our scouts spy the aftermath of a pitched battle. 40 humans lie dead on the ground, with 4 dragonborn starting to stack the corpses and separate the weapons. They watch and gather intelligence as the rest of the party catches up.
Just before the party arrives, a green dragon circles over head, alighting in the clearing. It seems to be in charge, supervising the dragonborn burning the bodies and taking inventory of the weapons. Once the heavy lifting is done , the dragonborn leave into the woods and 4 humans enter the clearing. At this point the party draws close, the dragon sees us, and takes off.
A fight ensues. The battle is pitched, stinking cloud demonstrates it's value. Bruk bottoms out on the hp rollercoaster (again). In the end, the dragon falls, doubling the number slain to date. Shortly after that, the warforged captain steps out of the woods, looks at the dragon-corpse, looks at us and says "Oh. This is awkward."
The resolution Next Session.