NOTE: This session marks the introduction of two new characters. Lucan, the breelan ranger, replaces Talerion, whose player expressed a desire to change characters. The hin rogue, Kyden, is being run by a new player who fills the slot vacated by the player who ran the sorcerer, Bradleton. The ending to the previous game has been changed somewhat.
The tide had begun to shift in the combat against the skeletal warriors, and it seemed as if the characters would triumph. However, the initial confusion caused Talerion and Bradleton to become separated from their companions, if only by a distance of thirty feet. Still, it was enough to allow the undead swordsmen to surround them. Bradleton was the first to fall, struck down by several particularly effective swings of the rusted weapons. Now facing their combined foes alone, Talerion was overwhelmed, and he, too, was felled.
After the battle, and realizing that nothing could be done for their fellows, Kesriel, Elhara, and Vindurinn once more focused on the unopened stone door. Kesriel was able to move the stone peg, responsible for unsealing the door, along its slotted path, and the combined efforts of the three survivor was required to push the door open. Inside, they found a circular column inscribed with the strange writing they had seen earlier, as well as four more mortar encased corpses, though the level of detail given to these was greater than those of the skeletal warriors. One of the casings had broken open when ceramic ceiling tile had fallen upon it, revealing the corpse, who held in its crossed arms a battle axe. This weapon was determined to be enchanted, and Kesriel claimed it as her own.
With this subterrainian level explored, the trio returned to the surface, but not before respectfully interring their fallen comrades and Elhara’s prayers. It was nearing nightfall, and the surviving party members prepared to camp, as Vindurinn sent a report of the events to Scumbler back in Irongate. The following morning, there was a message in the scroll tube to return to Irongate promptly, and to wait at the Billeting Office until summoned by Scumbler. It took nearly a week for the return journey, and then a wait of another few days before their presence was required.
During that time, two other individuals arrived at the Billeting Office, a breelan named Lucan, and a hin named Kyden. The party recognized these persons as being from the other adventuring company sent out at the same time as they, the city’s residents who had boarded the hin water vessel for a trip down the Kendrichee River.
Soon after the newcomers arrival, Scumbler called a meeting in which he informed all that, since both parties had suffered significant losses, they would now form one group. It was learned that the other party’s leader, a confident young man born to privelage and power, had led his group to intercept a moving goblin caravan in search of items or information. These caravans, while willing to deal with virtually anyone when they have stopped, are known to be fiercely protective while in transit. The party’s leader, assured that an exception would be made on his behalf, soon found his group confronting the hobgoblin soldiers who trailed the caravan, and only the hin and breelan managed to escape with their lives.
After receiving an updated letter of service signed by Jendis Sloan, the newly reformed party heads north to see Armand and procure suitable mounts, four riding horses and a pony for the hin. They purchase supplies and leave Irongate once more, riding south on the road which runs beside the Kendrichee River. They were also accompanied by their pack mule, whom the adventurers had affectionately named “Thunderhoof”.
They rode for six days before sighting some unusual seeming activity in the fields north of Byrnehold. A plowman had harnessed his three draft horses to a large ring recently uncovered in the field, and was attempting to pull free what was believed to be a circular door set into the buried stone. It was believed that the community of Byrnehold was erected above subterrainian ruins of a previous age, and that this doorway may lead to a similar find. The thick rope broke with the strain, and the doorway was examined and a new plan suggested. An acidic compound was applied to the corroded metal ring surrounding the disc, and more horses and rope were used on the second try. With great effort, the doorway broke open with such violence that the pulley and heavy log tripod were destroyed.
Just then, four riders approached from the direction of Byrnehold. Three were obviously members of the Black Legion, Byrnehold’s military, so named for their black horsetail plumed helmets, and the fourth was soon discovered to be Lord Ambrose Byrne himself. The Lord expressed interest in the occurances, and stated that it was the purview of the Black Legion to secure any ruins. The plowman responded by saying that he was searching for new land to till, and that this area was beyond what was widely accepted to be the area claimed by Byrnehold. His Lordship cooly countered this argument, and it seemed as if the plowman was about to captulate to the Lord’s wishes.
Before this could happen, Elhara commented that, if this were truly the case, then any discoveries would be free of the Lord’s contention. Lord Byrne, who was said to be firm but fair, acceded to this argument, and asked to be informed of developements. He and his contingent then rode off.
It took little effort for the party to convince the simple townsfolk to allow them to explore the underground area, and they were soon lowered by rope into the darkness. The initial exploration revealed little, just what appeared to be an ancient prison of sorts, with only remnants of the old iron bars, so badly were they corroded.
A portcullis had come down further into the complex, somehow becoming cocked in its track, so that a narrow gap was created at one end under which one might slither. Kyden, the hin rogue, immediately volunteered, being the smallest and slightest of the group. Unfortunately, he became snagged on the corroded grate, and while the disturbance was minimal, it was enough to dislodge some of the stonework overhead and cause it to crash down. Most party members manage to dodge the hazard, but Kesriel was wounded enough that the cleric, Elhara, tended to her injuries.
Continuing under, the hin scouted ahead for a short distance, and saw that the complex continued on. The others shouted for the farmers to throw down a servicable piece of the shattered tripod, and with this they broke the rivets and pried further open the corner of the portcullis. After all had passed through, they continued as a group to a point where three seperate staircases lead downward, each terminating in a large cell. Slow moving water was dribbling down one of the stairs, and some great shifting of the earth had split the staircase and opened a crevasse on the far side of the cell, whose door was partially open.
The water at the bottom of the stairs was roughly 6’ deep, and when the characters approached, two rubbery tentacles came through the gate, which a portion of the creature’s body could be seen above the water beyond.
The two breelan, Kesriel and Lucan, waded into the water to engage the creature, while Elhara, Vindurinn, and Kyden remained further up the stairs and attacked with spells or ranged weapons. The creature, tough as it was, was finished in short order, and the group crossed the foul, inky water to the narrow crevasse beyond. The water trickled through the opening, causing the stone of the naturally formed opening to become slick, and there were also scraps of rotting meat to be found near the edge.
The group traversed the increasingly steep crevasse, ultimately lowering themselves into an enotmous cavern on the far side. An exploration of this area revealed the crumbling ruins of an ancient keep, which the party investigated. On the first floor, they found a stairwell leading up, which was choked with debris. They found a wooden ladder on the far side of the keep leading to the upper floor and ascended, mapping out the upper level of the old keep. They found the top of the same staircase they had viewed from below, though it was clear of any obstructions. This oddity caused some concern, and Kyden stealthily descended the stairs to look around. The layout was identical to what he had seen earlier, but as he neared the edge of the ruins, he spied several light sources, of varying sizes, out in the cavern, and numerous figures moving around them. He returned to the group to report his findings, and they all then descended the stairs to venture nearer the fires.
With utmost caution, they moved to a distance where they could better make out the figures through the smoky haze. They noticed humans, gray-skinned dwarves with spiky hair, and elves with black skin in what appeared to be some sort of marketplace, complete with tables of goods, as well as pens containing both animals and humanoids. They recognized the dwarves to be duergar, members of the dwarven race who hailed from the shadowfell, and who were known to engage in human trafficking. All were clueless about the dark skinned elves, but the sight of the duergar was enough to causes the party to withdraw and have a look about the far side of the cavern. They found a wide tunnel leading further into the bowels of the earth, one which hadn’t existed in the cavern before the descended the stairs of the keep.
Vindurinn surmised that they had crossed into the parallel plane of the shadowfell, and the group made the difficult journey back the way the had come, back to their native plane. Two of the farmers had remained topside, and used the draft horses to raise the characters. After much deliberation, it was decided that this potential threat was too great not to inform the government of Byrnehold, and the soldier who had remained behind was sent for the commander of the Black Legion.
A short time later, Adrian Byrne arrived with a dozen men on horseback, and listened to the adventurers story. He immediately took charge of the situation, ordering his men to seal the opening. As it was now night, and the party had nothing else to accomplish here, they headed into Byrnehold in search of lodging.