Princes of the Apocalypse - Rogue Valley

Princes of the Apocalypse Session 2

Chapter 6, What Lies Beneath

Roster
Today’s players:
Legolast, a Wood Elf Ranger 2 (Outlander) of the Emerald Enclave
Dorrin, a Hill Dwarf Druid 1 (Folk Hero) of the Emerald Enclave
Torgo, a Duergar Rogue 1/Fighter 1 (Urban Bounty Hunter)
Ember Hawkwinter, a Fire Genasi Wizard 1 (Noble) of the Zhentarim

Narrative
13 Mirtul 1491, suppertime
As the sky cleared and the first streaks of sunset appeared in the west, the victorious trio stopped just outside of town to awaken their unconscious prisoner. He answered their questions, saying his tribe sent him and his brothers as scouts across the river from their lodge in the High Forest. The orog of the Iceshield Orcs, Garnash, told them that “Gruumsh [the orcish deity] has shown through weather omens that it is time for blood and gold to flow from lands of lesser races to the Iceshield Orcs.” Though these scouts had not waylaid any travelers on the road, the early warning of a possible orc incursion was valuable information, so the party turned their prisoner over to constable Harburk, who rewarded them with 15 gp.
At the Swinging Sword, a knock on Ember’s door revealed Ghileeda, who related that supper was about to be served. Ember made his way to the dining room, and sat down next to a terse couple at the bar; one was a weathered-looking man in working clothes, and the other was a hard-looking woman with tightly-curled gray hair. Ember put their suppers on his tab, and the man related he didn’t mind the supper here because he couldn’t smell, and the woman told Ember she had heard of a large treasure lost somewhere within Tricklerock Cave.
Leaving the constable’s, the trio of adventurers split up, with Torgo heading to the Sword to see about lodging, Legolast going to the Helm at Highsun tavern to meet her friend Holg; and Dorrin (on Harburk’s advice) made his way to the Allfaiths Shrine to look for some healing. Outside, he saw one stout male priest practicing some martial exercises, and inside, a grandmotherly priestess of Sune consoling a young mother who was on her way out. Lymmura told Dorrin that something in the woods had scared young Pell Mhandyvver recently – what she called a ghost. Dorrin could find the girl Pell at her grandmother Minny’s poultry, if he wanted. Lymmura then dug around in her acolyte traveling trunk and produced a potion of healing, asking Dorrin to contribute to the alms box on his way out. Dorrin did so, then headed off to the Helm, where Holg bought a round of ale for his guard and mercenary friends, who proceeded to regale Legolast with tales of banditry on the roads surrounding Red Larch. Dorrin received an offer of lodging from his farmer friend Mikhail, in appreciation of his capturing the orc, then joined the large table to hear the rest of the area’s troubles with bandits. A gruff and pot-bellied man tapped a keg, to the celebration of all.
Back at the Sword, Torgo and Ember saw the proprietor Kaylessa enter in company with the baker, delivering an armful of loaves for dinner; the friendly baker nodded a greeting as he left, and Torgo negotiated with Kaylessa for a room. The man at the bar left while the woman took her plate over to the fireplace area. Fairly soon, a man Ember recognized as Ilmeth Waelvur joined the woman at the fireplace. They set up some kind of game of dominoes on a square playing board and fell to murmuring together about constructing sledges to be used hauling quarry rock.
Over at the Helm, as Legolast bought another round, Holg’s friends seemed to relate more and more outlandish tales. Zomith, the glowering half-orc, entered the tavern with a sharp eye out for someone; she was dragging along a taller, meatier half-orc named Grund, who was much more genial and appeared to be something of a town favorite. “Bring any pickles, Grund?” “Here, Grund, have a drink!” [The dinner counted as a short rest and Dorrin rolled a hit dice for some healing.]
In the inn across the street, a pleasant elderly woman entered. Her friendly greeting towards the pair at the fireplace was rebuffed but she received a warm welcome from Kaylessa, and the fast friends fell to conversation, while Torgo and Ember finished their meals. Then, a cloud of smoke drifted into the room from a doorway behind the bar, and all the patrons were asked to leave the building momentarily while the staff dealt with a kitchen fire.
Not seeing who she was looking for at the tavern, Zomith dragged Grund out of the Helm as the guards finished telling their ruffian tales. Legolast suggested they all meet at the Helm again tomorrow to organized against the bandits, and at this point, a bard tuned up and began a birthday celebration for a family of five strong-looking folks seated nearby. Dorrin and Legolast headed for the street, where they saw Ember and Torgo shadowing the murmuring pair from the Swinging Sword. The pair separated, with the woman heading north and our party deciding to follow Waelvur back to this wagon shop.
Each member of the party found a way within the late evening traffic to evade notice by the town constables on their beats, and staked out Waelvur’s residence, eventually finding good hiding places within the yard behind Waelvur’s workshop. But, when midnight came and went without any activity from Waelvur or anyone else, the characters all poked around the yard and found a sloping wooden door that looked as if it led to a storm cellar. They discovered it actually led to a long underground tunnel that sloped gently down, and unlit torches just inside the door indicated it was used often and used recently.
Following the tunnel, they found a large natural cavern with an uncertain roof; there didn’t appear to be any stone above them, only packed dirt. But at one side of the chamber was an ancient stone door in excellent working condition. A couple of beat-up brown cloaks were next to the door, and donned by Ember and Legolast. Behind the door was a long, dark tunnel built with dwarven stone. Partly down the tunnel, they found two relief carvings of matching dwarves, facing each other across the tunnel, which turned out to be secret doors. Taking the north tunnel, the party found a small stone chamber with three corpses in it. One was obviously a local worker, and killed some time ago; the other two were shaggy-haired travelers. All three had a symbol posthumously carved into their foreheads, like a triangle with a stele on the flat base.
After obliterating the five giant rats that had been making a meal of the corpses, the party proceeded to another small chamber of dwarven masonry; this chamber had nothing but a floating rock in the middle of the room. Legolast checked for wires or anything else holding the stone up, but eventually they all just shrugged and moved on. The tunnel bent back toward the south, and ended at another stone door to a 50’ square chamber with a petrified dwarf in the center of the room. The statue was broken in three but held together in a wooden frame, with an inscription stating it had been found in a quarry about fifty years ago. Offerings of gemstones, coins, and a (possibly magic) dagger with dried blood on the blade were laid at its feet. After checking for traps, the party collected the treasure and Ember wrapped up the dagger in his handkerchief and stowed it in his backpack.
The party then opened a stone door to the west, discovering another 50’ square room; but this one was inhabited. A child was pinned under heavy rocks in the center, and the half-orc they recognized as Grund was peering down the tunnel to the west. Grund was shocked when the adventurers entered the room behind him, but before he could turn hostile, Ember cast Charm Person on him. From Grund, the players learned that the levers by his door operated traps in the long tunnel outside; that some of the town elders are in a secret group called the Believers, and he’s guarding these tunnels for them; that they take care of him, so he does what they tell him to do; that he dragged the corpses from the “Tomb of Moving Stones” to the side chamber; and that one can freely pick up the floating rock from that side chamber. If one set it in the air in the middle of that room it’d just stay there, as if one had set it on an invisible table.
The boy, Braelen, was drifting in and out of consciousness, but after Legolast and Dorrin lifted the heavy stones off his back and given him food and water, he revived enough to share that his own father, Rotharr Hatherhand, had placed him here as punishment for failing to deliver a message from Rotharr to Ilmeth Waelvur.
It was at this point that the heroes heard a shout from the western tunnel, “A Believer approaches!” They prepared for battle, and got Grund to hold the door shut; but it became clear that Grund wasn’t going to be able to hold for long. Torgo pulled levers as Grund had described, and traps fell in the hallway, caging the six robed and masked figures who approached.
The group sent Grund and the boy out through the side tunnels, and proceeded through the petrified dwarf statue room to the eastern door, which opened to reveal a short tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a closed stone door, and seated on a stool in front of it was an old man whittling a stick in the light of a lantern, terrified of the intruders, he threw himself on the floor and begged for mercy.
Interrogating him, the party discovered his name was Baragustas; that he was a Believer, and confirmed that Waelvur, Mellikho, and Gaelkur also were; that they believed entities known as the “Delvers” moved the threat stones around in the room behind him as a means of communicating when the Believers were about to make bad choices for the town; that Larrakh and the “earth priests” known as the “Bringers of Woe” have been helping interpret the meaning of the omens. The company decided to let Baragustas go, and he took the lantern and escaped through the side chambers, while the party prepared to enter the Tomb of Moving Stones and confront Larrakh.

Next Session: Monday, December 7, 2015

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