Part I: A Dark Future
The party appears from the Temporal Weave back to the Bartozch Mine and is faced with a puzzling set of circumstances. Where once there were Archivists, there are now ‘Scientists’. Where once the iconography of Moradin was rife, The World Machine now takes precedence. It seems that the heroes’ forays through time have had a drastic impact on the world of Crag Mountain.
The Scientists wear a strange uniform, adorned with the insignia of a crossed hammer and pick, the symbol of an alternative reality for dwarven kind: The UCSR. The United Crag Socialist Republic.
The Scientists see that Father Badger’s armour is adorned with the symbols of Moradin and frantically warn him that he faces imprisonment for open, unauthorised worship of The One. The World Machine is seen as the one true religion. Moradin worship is tolerated but viewed with suspicion and is closely scrutinized. Despite threats and bluster from the cleric, he is persuaded to cover himself with a cloak.
Checking their pockets, the heroes find that they are in possession of various papers identifying them to The State. One set for civilian ID, one military. Father Badger has paperwork identifying him as a worshipper of Moradin (he even has a serial number). Kuu has paperwork identifying her as a changeling. The form even warns that it is an offence against the state to present herself to an official not in her natural form!
As the heroes are escorted to the offices of the administrators they find out that Bartozch is no longer just a mine and research centre. It is now also a fortified correctional facility holding Prisoners sentenced to hard labour for crimes against the State. Long chain gangs of miserable dwarves shuffle from place to place.
It seems that technology in this new present world has advanced well beyond the Crag that the party left behind. Huge steam clocks hiss and clank from within every chamber and a single dwarf is seem thumping along, working the controls from within a massive steam powered bipedal mech mining suit, it’s arms adorned with a mighty drill and power shovel. Apparently this new mech suit has been developed by Dwarrowtec, the dwarven company from Port Cormaa and can do the work of twenty dwarves!
As the WHG continue onward, two dwarves are seen watching the party from the shadows of a building. Wearing long black jerkins and dark goggles, these mysterious figures observe them closely and continually write in small journals. When they see that they have been noticed, the strangers simply disappear!
The confused party is brought before the Bartozch administrator. When last seen, Violetta Bridyan was a warm, vibrant woman who had embraced the teachings of Moradin. This alternative Violetta is a cold authoritarian. She issues authorisation to the group for passage to Crag City via the portal system. When there, they must attend the office of Comrade Supervisor.
The party is not sad to leave ‘UCSR Correctional Facility, Barozch’, but a sense of dread hangs over the heroes as they portal back home to Crag…
Upon arrival it is quickly apparent to the dismay of WHG13 (yes, they are now back at 13!) that their beloved Crag Mountain has transformed into a big brother State. Freedom of thought and expression is frowned upon, seen by The State as a dangerous leaning toward chaos and a threat to the harmonious working of The World Machine. Questioning the decisions made by The State is illegal and activists often ‘disappear’ without a trace. The movements of civilians is strictly monitored and controlled. All individuasl must carry their identification parchments and relevant travel passes at all times. Failure to do so is an imprisonable offence under State law.
The party are continually checked, parchments viewed, stamped and re-checked. This initially causes much hostility from the WHG but soon they resign themselves to the constant badgering. The dark goggled dwarves even search the party at one point. It seems that they are agents from the security services (The CSS).
It soon becomes obvious that Wraith Hunter Groups are seen as a necessary evil by The State. The wraith problem is still an ever present worry which needs to be tackled, however, powerful adventurers are often free thinking individuals and therefore seen as a risk to The Republic.
A chance meeting with a worshipper of Moradin offers the group a jog to the memory. It seems that Ma Gravel is still running her soup kitchen in The Slags. With time short however, the party decides to spend the small amount of free time they can spare before their appointment doing some research at the Great Crag Library.
Upon arrival at the library, it seems you can’t get in without written authorisation! The frustrated party’s ire is lessened when they realise that the doorman is not adverse to ‘persuasion’ by way of coin. There are various shady looking characters lurking around the street and one in particular: a dark eyed heavy, smoking an elaborate pipe, is pointed out. The party meet this dwarf in an alleyway and for 50gp are issued with authorisation parchments for entry to the library. The heavy reminds the party that should they wish to enter into other business agreements with his ‘people’, they can be found in the same location.
The party enters the library and splits up. The ‘religion’ section is restricted access only. Father Badger sits and fumes as a strange little spider-like mech with a large goggle lens scuttles along the ceiling, watching his every move. Travok checks the history section but can find little information on Crag pre-Republic. It also seems that many pages from various books have been expertly removed…
Kuu sneaks into the law section and finds a book listing the names of dwarves convicted of crimes against the state and given custodial sentences. With time running out, Kuu decides to conceal the book in her cloak. A risky move, especially so because of the presence of another surveillance mech scuttling along the ceiling of the grand room. However, being a covetous master-thief, the rogue easily pilfers the tome and makes a hasty exit with the rest of WHG13. Onward to the office of T’ Supervisor!
Upon their arrival, the heroes are met by Comrade Supervisor’s administrator. Spud doesn’t have mech arms and seems unmoved by the presence of his friends from WHG13. After a meeting with the Supervisor, the party is sent over to the bureaucrats. Sat in an office is the red bearded wizard: Randall, who issues WHG13 with new orders, papers and authorisations. They are to transport some goods to Doctor Salt, who is still working on the contagion cure somewhere in Port Cormaa. Apparently, amongst these ‘goods’ are some dead bodies, a grizzly reminder of the unsavoury nature of ‘science’. The party members feel they are being shuffled around in order to keep them out of trouble.
The WHG decides to follow up on the chance meeting in The Slags and pays a visit to Ma Gravel while time is still somewhat on their side. The old dwarf still has her soup kitchen, filled with waifs and strays. One cowled dwarf with an enormous brown beard streaked with grey, watches the group from the shadows with interest. Stone Daddy is nowhere to be seen and when his name is mentioned, the party is shocked as Gravel scowls and spits on the ground with disgust. It seems that in this strange new world, the warforged is firmly on the opposite ‘side’ to Ma Gravel.
With their curiosity piqued by the cowled dwarf, the heroes make an approach. From under the hood of the cloak comes the gruff, gravelled drawl of a member of the Dourstone clan! Dûn Dourstone to be exact, the Father of WHG stalwart, Durn. It seems that Durn has been incarcerated at Bartozch for Stonefather worship, a strictly forbidden act! The rest of the clan has been forced to flee to Port Cormaa but Dûn has stayed behind, secretly continuing his work with the poor in Crag Mountain. The kindly old dwarf weeps as he speaks of his son’s imprisonment. WHG13, saddened by Dûn’s predicament and angered by the unjust treatment of their friend, promises to liberate the warden.
Before saying their goodbyes, Kuu decides to offload the stolen tome, knowing that another search by the CSS is likely. Ma Gravel agrees to dispose of it by throwing it on the fire. WHG13 presses onward and downward to the maproom. The components for the portal spell are rationed out and after collecting their cargo, the heroes step through the portal and appear in the basement of Temple of Moradin in Port Cormaa. However, things are different now… the iconography of Moradin has been erased and as they step through a door into what was once the church of their beloved god, a strange sight meets their gaze.
Sat at a desk in full State uniform is an old dwarf. The laughter lines that once ran deep around his eyes are simply now wrinkles of fatigue from endless bureaucratic toil. He stands and salutes WHG13.
“Welcome to the UCSR Embassy, Port Cormaa” says Dirradon Stomp. “Long live The Republic!”….
Part II: The Siege of Port Cormaa
Stomp still seems to be the kind dwarf he once was, but he now appears to be but a pawn of the republic. The old bureaucrat authorises and stamps the appropriate paperwork allowing WHG13 to passage on a local steam cart to Doctor Salt’s laboratories in the dwarven quarter of the city.
A nearby steam cart is located. The cadavers and other crates of god-knows-what are loaded and after a stand off regarding who is authorised to drive (leaving Father Badger in an epic huff!), the heroes are transported to the walled, deep crevice that houses the city’s dwarven community. The advances of steam technology seem to have reached Port Cormaa with the name of Dwarrowtec seen nearly everywhere.
Deep, deep down into the crevice winds the road until the party offloads it’s cargo to one of Salt’s lab assistants. A couple of gruff grumbles of decent can be heard when the subject of science is brought up by the assistant.
Making their way back up into the city, the heroes of WHG13 wonder whether to return to the Embassy will be a good idea as they suspect they will be sent back to Crag and assigned more menial tasks. The quandary is ended when it is remembered that they all have vouchers for free drinks…. To the alehouse!
The walk to the inn is uneventful. Party members notice that billboards are posted everywhere campaigning for a new mayoral candidate called Rydian Grigg but little notice is taken as the promise of beer at The Grubby Sporran Alehouse makes WHG13 quicken it’s pace.
When inside the busy pub, the party get their drinks and scan the patrons. A pair of old crusties sat in a corner are overheard talking about some recent disappearances from the slums of Scuttle Alley and the team moves in. After some stilted small talk the hearoes are told that numerous people, mostly children, have been taken at night from the slums. There are no suspects as it is as if the victims seem to simply disappear without a trace. An old shaman from Scuttle Alley has been spreading the old wife’s tale of ‘Shadowbone’ and claiming that the bogeyman from Port Cormaa folklore is responsible.
The old men scoff at this because the Shadowbone myth used to be used as a way to scare children into behaving. There is even an old nursery rhyme that one of the men recounts:
“By shady path and darkened room
lurks here the choking hand of doom
He watches ever for his prey
To snatch thy final breath away
And far away rings death’s dire bell
As darkness drags thee down to hell
Thy lifeless form will twist and crawl
to heed his avaricious call
So wander not! stay in the light!
For Shadowbone hunts here this night…"
The man turns crimson as sarcastic applause from WHG13 brings the attention of the other patrons of the alehouse.
Elsewhere, the party is informed of other rumours in Port Cormaa. Tales of dragons being seen over the seas near the city have caused a considerable amount of worry… what could they be doing this far south of The Blasted Lands? Also, tales of Merfolk dragging dockers into the water cause raised eyebrows amongst WHG13. The barkeep also mentions a certain violent dwarf who has been recently barred for smashing his walking stick over another patron’s head during an argument. The ancient warden, Durnoc ‘Giantsbane’ Dourstone, is apparently in Port Cormaa and still living up to his explosive reputation… Not too wise as the old devout of The Stonefather is probably being scouted by the CSS!
Upon leaving The Grubby Sporran, Snorri remembers that Temple of Ioun has an extensive library. He is outraged at the way Crag has turned out and now that his Order have been been denied access to The Great Crag Library, he feels that he can find out more about the history of the Crag Republic in Port Cormaa. The party walks to The Temple of Enlightenment.
The party is greeted by Sister Naa, a young acolyte, who directs them through ornate doors to the extensive library. Inside, they meet Brother Silvanus, a bookish servant of the god of knowledge. It seems that Silvanus views the heroes of WHG13 as allies (a sentiment that the party has not been used to since being plunged into this alternative world). Silvanus points out a hooded, kneeling figure, studying a hefty and old looking tome in the shadows of the great book shelves. Snorri is surprised to see that the figure is in fact a Neri Scribeson, a member of The Keepers of The Eternal Truth, Snorri’s Order in Crag Mountain.
Scribeson is obviously trying to keep a low profile; the Order is under constant surveillance by the CSS. It seems that it’s not just WHG members that have been sent to the labour camp at Bartozch. Several members of the Order have been locked up too. The party knows that it must intervene in some way, but with the State having such strict controls, any action would have to be covert. Scribeson fills the party in on certain ‘shady’ contacts that can be approached in order to get under the radar of the State; namely a Crag slum lord known simply as ‘The Don’.
Leaving the temple, WHG13 is still confused as to what they will do next. A long discussion is had as they make their way through the streets… streets that are strangely deserted at present…. Suddenly terrified looking people run past the party. Several city guards, hastily preparing their armour sprint in the opposite direction. WHG13 follows and ahead, plumes of smoke can be seen billowing into the air. An injured man, his back smoking, tears past the party and when another hurried guard is questioned he can only blurt “Invasion!” and finally “Kobolds. Hundreds of kobolds!”
WHG13 race on and as they round a corner come face to face with a scene of utter bedlam. Kobolds are indeed rampaging through the streets of Port Cormaa. Behind them is a phalanx of flame headed dwarves… Azer! The party has not seen Azer since their forays into the blasted lands to retrieve the stolen Merfolk Orb. Driving this unit of mayhem is another Azer, who bellows orders at his minions and lashes above their heads with a fearsome looking scourge. As the Azer manoeuvre through the streets, the never dying fire in their bodies case any nearby combustibles start to smoke and blister. WHG13 charges into the fray, cutting through the lines of kobolds like a hot knife through rancid butter!
The battle is fierce but after the first few exchanges of blows, a huge roar is heard from above. A dark shadow hangs over the party for a second before a great figure crashes to the ground in a gout of flame. Bellowing it’s challenge to the party, a mighty red dragon heaves a breath of flame at the party and makes it’s demand “RETURN MY ORB! THE FISHMEN ARE GONE AND NO LONGER HAVE IT! I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT DWARVES HAVE IT FOR THEMSELVES!” This is the same dragon the the party managed to hoodwink into giving back the Merfolk Orb!
The party refuses to be intimidated and focus their attacks on the great wyrm, however the Azer and their minions continue to cause havoc and WHG13 is hard pressed. As the dragon prepares to loose its breath weapon again, a huge silver flash tears down from above, smashes into the dragon sending it tumbling through the street and into the side of a house, nearly demolishing it. The red dragon emerges from the rubble and takes off into the air where it is assailed again by the silver beast: a gigantic mercury dragon, half as big again as might red! The red wrym retreats, flying at speed out of sight whilst pursued by the other drake.
Seeing their master defeated, the remaining ground troops lose their stomachs for the siege and a full scale retreat is called. As the party picks off a few retreating kobolds, screaming can be heard a short distance away. Waving frantically from the upper floor windows of some old warehouse which is fast starting to burn to the ground are panicked citizens. These unfortunate people had sought refuge in the building but are now trapped.
As the thick smoke starts to shroud the figures begging for help it will not be long before they are engulfed in flame. Time is running out…
Part III: The Rise of The Machines
Snorri and Father Badger take the direct approach into the burning building that is quickly being consumed by flame. The avenger flies to the upper floor window and Badger crashes in through the main doors on the ground floor. As both adventurers manage to evacuate many, an out of control cart, pulled by two panicking horses crashes into the main doors, blocking them. Kuu notices a cowled human figure rolling off to one side and sprinting off out of sight!
Attempts to make emergency exits by charging through the walls are fruitless and after a desperate attempt by Snorri to rush down a roaring stairway with a child under each arm fails, time really does run out for everyone involved. Numerous sacks of flour finally ignite causing a huge fireball to rip through the building, immolating the poor families left trapped inside. The decrepit building then collapses in on itself, half burying WHG13 in the rubble.
As the adventurers lay battered, burned and bruised, mighty metallic figures loom up through the dust and smoke. Dwarrowtec Warmechs, emblazoned with the symbol of the UCSR, stride through the streets with hisses of steams and the pounding of iron feet, shooting explosive alchemical rounds from arm cannons at the last retreating kobolds. Other mechs seem to have been converted with huge water tanks that douse the flaming buildings of Port Cormaa. The adventurers are unable to help the families who were trapped in the abandoned warehouse – none survived the blast and subsequent collapse – so they rush toward the docks, where many survivors are pointing and shouting out in wonder.
Chugging through the waters along the coast is a huge ironclad battleship, a dreadnought that fires explosive alchemical ammunition high into the air from mighty cannons. Far outside the city, the fire rains down upon the retreating forces, causing massive explosions which take out a dozen troops in a single hit. The Dwarrowtec and UCSR symbols also emblazon the machine of war. Whilst all of this is happening, a huge air ship is seen descending to land outside the city’s eastern wall. What is going on?!…
As the dejected heroes start to help the wounded, Dornal Jonas is seen and when asked about what is happening in the city, the guildmaster has much to say. He is mystified as to why the dragon and his minions would attack the city in search of the orb. The Merfolk have not made contact with anyone recently and as far as he was aware, they were continuing to use the orb to keep their shoals away from the fishing boats. The dragon however seemed to be of the opinion that the merfolk did not have the orb and was convinced that the dwarves had it. Jonas asks the heroes to attend an emergency guildmeet at The Trawlerman alehouse at dusk as there is much to debate. The WHG asks for a private audience with the guildmaster before the meet starts and he agrees.
Hurrying to the hospital, the party spends some hours assisting with the aid effort. Speaking with locals as they work, the party discerns that there is dissent brewing in the poor areas of Port Cormaa regarding the recent disappearances which all seem to have occurred in and near Scuttle Alley. The new mayoral candiate: Rydian Grigg, has made a point of campaigning about the current council’s failures to stop the abductions. The opinion on Grigg seems to be split; many locals believe his promises to increase The Watch, enlist the help of a new military force and increase trade. Those involved in the fishing industry believe that Grigg is trying to destroy their way of life, one which has kept the city on the map for generations.
During their work a young lad runs around giving out flyers for a local circus. Snatching one up, the party reads of ‘Barrabus’ House of Fun‘. With the state of the town not as bad as first thought, perhaps a visit to the circus would help lift the spirits of the populace. The flyer also invites the reader to witness the ’wonder that is The Wanderer!’… Intriguing…
An hour or so before dusk, the party makes its way through the damaged streets of Port Cormaa toward the docks. On route they are stopped by two CSS agents who demand to know what the heroes are doing and question them as to why they have not yet returned to Crag Mountain. With false promises made to return after a visit to the alehouse the heroes press on. A biting winter wind blows in from the sea as they approach The Trawlerman. Still patrolling the dock area are two Dwarrowtec Warmechs.
WHG13 meets with Dornal Jonas as arranged. The seaman is biting in his criticism of Rydian Grigg. Grigg wants to replace the beloved fishing industry. Jonas’ guild members also do not trust Dwarrowtec or the motivations of the UCSR. Jonas speaks about the dockers who were seen dragged into the sea: Darry Luggaton and Rodd Finney. It seems that the witness is not that reliable; ‘Blind’ Bill Grogshanks is a notorious drunkard who described being sat on the dock drinking with Darry and Rodd a few nights back when hands reached up from the water and dragged the poor men in. He then saw a large fish’s tail raise up out of the water.
The group moves to the alehouse function room where the guildmeet starts. Jonas speaks out on behalf of the WHG and despite the mistrust of the UCSR, the heroes are not seen as agents of The Republic. They have helped the guild before and it again asks for the heroes’ aid. They want the party to search for the merfolk and find out the truth about the orb and their involvement in the abductions at the docks. Attempts to locate the elusive creatures through normal methods have failed. It seems that the party will have to find magical means to assist them in searching under the waves!
No one knows the location of the merfolk’s town or lair but some salty sea dogs are sure that they can pool some of their old maps to give the WHG some rough idea of a location. With the CSS still sniffing around, the guild members also agree that the party’s involvement should be kept quiet to avoid interference by Crag authorities.
The heroes decide to make their way to The Temple of Enlightenment to see if the extensive library there can offer more. On route, the more stealthy members of the group scout through the dark alleys. Kuu gets the feeling she is being watched from somewhere but there is no one else about to be seen; just a mangy cat which suddenly arches, hisses and springs off wailing. The feeling of being watched subsides suddenly and Kuu can offer no explanation as to why…
At the temple, the heroes are reunited with Neri Scribeson, who shows the adventurers the true work being done by The Keepers in Port Cormaa. Leading them down a secret winding staircase, deep under the temple in an ornate hall is a new portal, kept secret from Crag authorities. Unfortunately, if used now, it will show up on the magical war room map back in Crag, therefore any ‘launch’ is forbidden until The Keepers put their finishing touches to a screening ritual which will prevent the detection of this highly illegal portal! Two more portals are being built; one in a Chechyan controlled area near Bartozch, the other in a similar secret location under the Keeper’s monastery on the upper slopes of Crag Mountain itself. If the party are grounded in Crag by the CSS, or if they need to travel ‘incognito’, WHG13 will soon be able to use these secret portals.
The party, much more hopeful about their chances of eventually getting to Bartozch to rescue Durn and the members of Snorri’s Order, return to the temple library to speak with Brother Silvanus. The old sage soon digs out an ancient map which, if cross referenced with the maps some of the guild members claim to have, will give a much more accurate idea as to the position of the Merfolk town.
The rituals required for underwater exploration are a different matter however. Silvanus does not have these rituals in his repetoir and the only reliable source for magic in Port Cormaa is apparently buried under the ruins of his workshop! It seems that the party has drawn a blank until the heroes realise that travellers, troupes and merchants tend to bring new goods to trade with them. Sometimes those goods are magical. Outside the temple, excited families from the richer quarters of town are hurrying to the east wall. The penny drops for WHG13 and they follow the crowds to The Common, just outside the eastern city entrance.
In the shadows of the massive air ship that is The Wanderer, is a collection of large tents. Fireworks crack and bang overhead drawing gasps from the crowd. On a platform in the centre of all this is a tall. thin human with a fixed (slightly unsettling) grin under an outrageously long, waxed black moustache which spikes out at right angles from his face. “Welcome, my friends, to Barrabus’ House of Fun!” yells the man.
The party approaches the man, Barrabus himself, and he informs them that the House of Fun has been touring The Blasted Lands, including Fort Blighthold. Barrabus knows the dragon who assailed Port Cormaa. It was indeed the wyrm from The Azer Demense and names the beast as Thraxxylbryr. Barrabus’ dislike for dragon-kind is evident as he spits the name of the red wyrm.
When asked about possible rituals for sale, the heroes are directed to the music tent. Inside, a dishevelled looking human with a mouthful of gold teeth plucks a lute which is connected to some sort of magical steam box which distorts and amplifies the sound. An alcoholic looking goliath plays the saw, a multi-armed warforged crashes away at various drums and metallic pieces of hanging scrap and an obese little kobold puffs away at a collection of jugs to provide a bass. The noise is like nothing ever heard in Port Cormaa!
The crowd seems mesmerised by the music that boils and chugs around the smoke filled tent. Roaming around is a weird looking man. A shock of white hair juts out from the back of his head and a tuft of white beard sticks out from his chin. One of his eyes is wide, wild and darts around the room. He is dressed in a huge, thick black robe. He slips little vials an balls of herbs out of a bag and presses them into the hands of people in the crowd who in turn give their payment. The heroes grab the stranger’s attention.
“Let Dr Bliss slip you a… preparation!” says the man. The heroes ask if he has certain rituals for sale. Dr Bliss grins in a slightly maniacal way and beacons with his finger.
“Heh, heh, heh! Come with me!”
Part IV: A Lost Civilisation
The heroes are led by Bliss into a nearby tent. Adorning a large table is a vast array of alchemical items, bones, potions, trinkets, scrolls, drug paraphernalia and junk. It seems that the strange ‘Doctor’ has several options available, but the most useful tincture is a somewhat crippling 1800gp. After attempts to haggle and bluff fail, Jarrim notices a fragment of a rare red coloured sea pearl on display and discerns that Dr Bliss would be very interested in a whole and undamaged specimen. The silver tongued dwarf convinces the human to part with the tincture with a promise to return with a red pearl as payment. However, Bliss insists on a surety, and the party leave him with their magical item: The orb of sacrifice.
WHG13 leaves the circus with the potion and makes it’s way to the docks. The winter night is chill and the warmth of the Trawlerman Alehouse is most welcome. After paying for a large room, the heroes get ready to settle to sleep. All is still and most of the party is deep in sleep. In the dead of night, a screaming noise can be heard in the back alley outside the room. K’uu the rogue shifts into human form and peeks out of the window. Another bloody cat. The mangy animal is screeching with it’s back arched at something unseen. It then darts away into the night. K’uu rubs her eyes and begins to turn back to her bed when movement catches her attention… The shadow underneath the old fence opposite seems to swell and move toward the inn!
Alerting her comrades, Kuu watches as the shadow recedes, but then moves again, this time underneath the window. As Snorri leaps from his bed, the shadows within the room itself start to shift and swell, creeping further toward the centre of the floor. Father Badger peers at the strange blackness, and is surprised to see the shadow take the form of a clawed hand that reaches toward him them dissipates.
The feisty human tries to act unconcerned and stomps back to bed. As he turns over in his blankets, the shadow reaches for him again. Badger feels a spectral grip around his throat tighten then start to drag him toward the corner of the room. As the rest of the group leaps up, the shadow dissipates again and does not return. An unsettling night passes with no further incident.
Upon rising, the group heads down for breakfast. Chatting with the barkeep, the heroes find that there is unrest in Scuttle Alley, the poor end of town where the slums are located. It seems that most of the disappearences have been from this location. The old tale of Shadowbone has been bandied about by a strange man called ‘The Seer’, a homeless witchdoctor who has been warning the locals that there is more truth to the tale than people believe. Making a mental note of this new information, the party readies itself for the planned expedition to the seas off Port Cormaa.
As they stride in to the docks, the WHG meets with the man tasked with taking them to the merfolk territories.
Captain Dagmar Cleftjaw is a large brute of a man who looks to have seen many battles in his time. The Captain heartily welcomes the party aboard his ship and points out that after pooling their old maps and recounting old fireside stories, the guild has concluded that the resting place of an old sunken ship which (according to the tale) once carried a large booty of gold, may lay near or inside the merfolk territory. Back in the day, all attempts to salvage the gold from the depths were driven off by the sea dwellers.
After some time sailing out toward the horizon, Cleftjaw informs the party that it is time. They have reached a ‘shelf’, where the sea bed drops sharply to new depths. The party each takes a sip of Dr Bliss’ tincture… Nothing happens. One of the party is shoved into the drink to ‘see what happens’. The sight of a dwarf darting through the waves then springing from the water like a dolphin is certainly weird, but it is also proof that the tincture has worked. The party can breath, talk and move normally underwater. Soon they are swimming along the sea bed in the search for the elusive merfolk.
Soon, a large, wreck can be seen and sure enough, beyond is the merfolk meeting place. A large cave entrance yawns from the ocean shelf. Stone shelves hold urns, and in the centre of a clearing is a beautiful sculpture made of two, huge, pearl white shells, one containing a large red pearl!
In the murky distance, the large forms of killer whales loom, and soon two mefolk emerge from the cave. They do not greet the visitors, nor do they try to drive them away. The party moves forward and soon realizes that the orca bear terrible festering wounds. Two more merfolk appear and their glazed, grey eyes and palid, torn skin show no signs of natural life. All that are left are the undead!
WHG13 has just the time to draw steel before the zombified sea creatures streak in for the kill. Luckily for the heroes, Dr Bliss’ preparation allows them to fight just as well underwater as on the surface. The mindless zomies are no match for the grizzled warriors of Crag. The orcs are destroyed and the poor merfolk explode with necrotic energy as they are finally laid to rest.
A search of the area draws the heroes into the cave (after Jarrim has plucked the red pearl from the merfolk sculpture). Inside, there are signs of battle. Body parts are littered here and there. Curiously, amongst the macabre clues are several human limbs and at least a couple of human child heads! Snorri does not intend returning these to Port Cormaa, and they are left to rest in the deep. Deep in the ornate main chamber is a golden construction which the merfolk used to hold their orb. The magical object is gone, along with any living member of the strange merfolk race.
The dragon, Thraxxylybryr, and his Azer strike force have obviously not taken the orb, so who has? Was it the mystery invaders who used forbidden dark rituals to raise their unfortunate mefolk victims as zombie guardians, and if so, why? What are the remains of human children doing in the depths of the sea? So many questions remain unanswered…
The party checks the shipwreck for the treasure supposedly onboard, but find that it has been stripped bare. However, when the heroes check the urns nearby, they find the missing loot: thousands of gold pieces! The coins are quickly reclaimed and soon WHG13 is sailing back to Port Cormaa to brief Dornal Jonas. The news does nothing to set the guildmaster’s mind at rest.
After returning to Dr Bliss and dropping off the red pearl as payment for the potion, the heroes decide to make their way up to Scuttle Alley in search of the mysterious ‘seer’. Deciding that a covert approach would be best, the party is loaded onto the back of a wagon (arranged by Jonas), and after being covered by a large tarpaulin, they are towed through the streets of Port Cormaa. The last time the WHG were in the poor end of town, things did not end well. As they near the north of the city, the party hopes that they can stay a little less conspicuous this time around…
Part V: A Comedy of Errors
… However, Father Badger has other ideas. The fickle human decides that the team plan is not to his liking and insists on walking out in the open, thus drawing the attentions of a couple of CSS agents who emerge from the shadows and quickly uncover the rest of the party. The WHG are ordered by the agents (one of whom takes copious notes) to return to Crag without delay. Unknown to the rest of the party, this will not be the last rash decision of the day that will come back to bite them at a later time!
The heroes make their way into Scuttle Alley and the tall. crooked, dilapidated houses add to the feeling of oppression and deprivation. Quick inquiries are made and a gold piece buys the whereabouts of the Seer. Stood in a narrow alleyway is a curious tepee type tent made of hides and manky old furs. Small skulls, dreamcatchers and other trappings of a witchdoctor/shaman/fortune teller/lunatic adorn the temporary dwelling. Within the tent is the Seer himself; a strange, unkempt man with long, greasy hair and a weather worn face painted like a white skull.
The man babbles on about reading the palms of the adventurers, but when asked questions about the legend of Shadowbone, he becomes hungry for coin. After some haggling, the Seer’s face darkens as he tells his audience that despite the sneers of other folk, he believes that Shadowbone is a very real entity, lurking in the dark places of the prime material plane. He drags victims’ souls to ‘hell’ and uses their bodies for his own means, turning them into macabre ‘meat puppets’. When asked where there have been disappearances, the Seer points out the nearby homeless shelter and also names The Righteous Light Orphanage.
Starting at the shelter, the party speaks first with an old drunk: ‘Jobless’ Jonah who claims to have witnessed one of the abductions. He was drinking in a dark alleyway to the rear of the shelter two nights ago with Nerrid, a regular at the shelter when: “The shadows crawled forth, and like a grasping claw did it seize poor Nerrid by his throat and drag him into the blackness!” Jobless did not stick around to see what happened next and admits that he is too scared to go out after dark now. The alleyway is near to The Seer’s shack and the party investigates but no clues are found.
Next the WHG visits The Righteous Light, A children’s home run by Mr and Mrs Griffin, devotees of Pelor. The orphanage holds over thirty children. The Griffins are good people who are horrified that five of their children have disappeared over the past two nights. They are angry at the Mayor and upset that the Watch have been unable to properly investigate the abductions. The Griffins are active supporters of Rydian Grigg, who has promised to make the city safe again with the development of the Port military and an increase in Watch members.
The heroes search the missing childrens’ rooms. Travok soon makes a disturbing discovery; broken fingernails wedged in to floorboards with scratches in the floor leading to the far corner of the room. The scratches lead right up to the skirting boards, as if the victim was dragged under the wall… As they move into the next room, the scratches appear from the wall and lead across the room to the bed. From there, drag marks can be seen, as if another body has been hauled off and into the wall. Snorri checks the alleyway outside the children’s rooms. Nothing of note other than a mangy old cat which spits and hisses at Father B. Badger snatches up the hapless moggy and tosses it into the orphanage… This time he seems to have a plan which is constructive; stay in the orphanage overnight in the hope that whoever or whatever has been snatching people away will return for another victim and use the cat as an early warning system (it seems that cats can sense the strange entity before the party).
As they finalize their plan, a hullabaloo can be heard in the nearby square. A large crowd cheers and claps, while the loud voice of one man can be heard above all others. Small snatches of the speech that can be made out from this distance and it becomes obvious that there is a political rally going on. The party decides to get a closer look. What harm could it do? As they round a corner, the heroes see a large crowd of locals who have turned out to listen to a tall, dark haired man, stood on a small platform. The party gets it’s first sighting of the new mayoral candidate, Rydian Grigg.
Grigg is animated and promises an increased and overhauled Watch. The numbers of the Watch will be bolstered by a new military force planned for the city that will patrol the poor areas targeted by criminals. Father Badger decides that it would be a good idea to heckle the politician about Shadowbone, oblivious that he is drawing more attention to the WHG. Grigg is unphased by the question and dives into more explanation of his policies. Meanwhile, Adrikus has noticed several shady looking characters mingling with the crowd. Also there is a large brute stood near the platform. Confident that he has identified Grigg’s security force, the dwarf stealthily creeps alongside one of the hooded security operatives whose attentions are elsewhere… that is until Adrikus attempts unsuccessfully to put him in an arm lock!
To put one of the mayoral candidate’s security in an arm lock would be seen by some as a pretty irresponsible thing to do. However, to bodge up a simple arm lock on one of the mayoral candidate’s security, leaving the nimble warrior plenty of time to draw steel and attack, is seen by the rest of the party as one of the dumbest things they have ever witnessed. Particularly when Adrikus did this without realizing that there are also four top notch (and very deadly) snipers hidden on the roofs of the surrounding buildings! Adrikus just has enough time to admit that he was maybe a little ‘rash’ before he is dropped by a hail of sniper fire. Grigg is bundled off by his bodyguard and the crowd panicks. Bedlam ensues.
The party beats a hasty retreat as Travok revives the fallen Adrikus (twice!). As the heroes dive for cover, the security detail disappears. Snorri and Jarrim fume as Adrikus shrugs his shoulders. It seems that now the Port Cormaa authorities are after them too as the whistles of the Watch can be heard. As the constabulary hurries to the scene of ‘an assassination attempt’, the hapless fugitives dive through the open window of the orphanage, landing in an unceremonious heap.
After batting off frantic questioning from Mrs Griffin, the party prepares to set up in the first floor of the building. Jarrim uses a magical hat to take on the guise of a small child. Sun rods are placed in some of the rooms to minimize shadow and the cat is placed in the corridor.
Night falls. All is eerily quiet… until there is a loud banging on the door downstairs. The old cat’s fur stands up and it lets out a long hiss in the direction of the stairs. Father Badger puts on a brave face and, fearing a trap, gingerly makes his way downstairs. His palms sweating, the human pulls open the door. Stood there are two CSS agents! They demand an explanation as to what the WHG are doing in an orphanage, why there is rumour that they were involved in the disorder at Grigg’s rally and why they have not returned to Crag Mountain as ordered. Badger begins his usual blustering abuse but the agents simply disappear and reappear among the rest of the party on the first floor.
The agents inform the adventurers that there is a warrant for their arrest at Crag Mountain! They demand that the party returns with them immediately, but WHG13 refuses. Things are tense and it seems that there may be battle. One agent informs the heroes that if they still refuse to comply they will become enemies of the state. The menacing silence lasts an uncomfortable time before the agents simply disappear. It seems that the party’s high jinks this day have backfired.
Determined to see their plan through, the heroes settle in and the night drags on. Jarrim lounges on a bed and the others sit about waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, the bard feels a sharp pain in his back. A queasy feeling in his gut tells him that something isn’t right and his legs feel like lead. Travok also jumps as he feels a stabbing pain in his leg. The cleric stumbles forward then collapses in a heap. Snorri and Father Badger also feel the sting. Luckily, the party is tough and all manage to shake off the strange effects placed upon them. Jarrim is stung again and Snorri sees something shoot out of the window. He rushes over and sticks his head out just in time to see something scuttling up the side of the building. As the party rushes about there seems to be no sign of whatever is attacking them. No shadows have assailed them.
Snorri then sees something small rush down the stairs. The avenger bundles down toward the front door and catches sight of a strange, spider-like creature clinging to the ceiling. He blasts the little beast with radiant energy and it falls to the ground, twitching. As the party rushes to assist, they see that the creature is a small mech, similar to the surveillance mechs in Crag Mountain, but this construct is smaller, more lithe and has a retractable hypodermic needle at it’s mouth. It seems that the party has been the subject of their own assassination attempt.
The heroes closely inspect the curious automaton. A small hatch in the mech’s underside is opened. Engraved into the metal is a star, inside which is a crossed hammer and pick.
The symbol of the United Crag Socialist Republic….
Part VI: An Unexpected Ally
Shocked that they seem to be the target of their own people, the WHG decides to spend the rest of the night at the orphanage to ensure that the children remain safe. Little do they suspect that in the darkness before dawn, the lurking menace that has been stalking them all along decides to finally show itself. The shadows boil again in the confines of one of the small bedrooms and a dark creature springs forth to grab one of the heroes in its horrible grasp.
As the rest of the party scrabbles around to try to get a good defensive position, the unfortunate victim hangs in the air, seemingly being throttled by his own shadow! The beast is driven out but materializes in another room to continue its assault. The heroes battle bravely against this slippery foe and despite the necrotic power of the shadow beast nearly stealing their breath away, one final mighty blow sends it spinning and tearing into the air before it disappears. Has the WHG managed to destroy this creature, Shadowbone?
As the light returns to the room and the party takes stock, there is another bang at the door. A nervous K’uu creeps down and peeks out. No one there! As the heroes start to fear the worst, a dark figure appears in the alleyway, flanked by burly warriors who threaten to draw steel. The figure orders the warriors to hold fast and throws back its hood, revealing a wizened, human man’s face. Magistrate Mildraan!.
Mildraan hurries inside and questions the party about the debacle at Rydian Grigg’s rally the previous day. An embarassed excuse is made but it is of little consequence, the Magistrate announces that the party are now wanted by the Port Cormaa authorities too! However, MIldraan does not believe that the accusations are accurate. He also feels that Grigg is dangerous, wanting to close down the fishing industry and supplant the current magistrates and officials with his own people. He is sure that Grigg is not an honest man, and once again, he makes the party of dwarven fugitives an offer they can’t refuse…. to allow themselves to be incarcerated, then with the help of Mildraan’s people, escape and investigate Grigg’s opulent house in order to find some sort of evidence of his dishonest intentions. The stakes are high, but it seems with warrants on both sides of the portal, it is the best chance they have of escaping the wrath of the authorities. When on route, the party learns that The Seer is in the infirmary having been found badly beaten with his tongue cut out from his mouth. Someone (or something) wanted to silence the strange old witchdoctor.
The heroes allow themselves to be manacled and taken off to the gaol. When safely locked away, they are given bowls of food and stuck to the underside of one of these bowls is a map of directions that will lead the party to Griggs mansion. As the party discusses how they are actually going to get out of their cell, the gaoler sighs, looks incredibly peeved, then simply runs head first into the wall, knocking himself out cold! The burly guard crashes to the ground in front of the party’s barred door. A bunch of keys hangs conveniently on his belt within reaching distance.
The heroes let themselves out of their cell and (all too easily) escape from the building. Outside waits a horse and cart with a dwarven driver. When clear of the gaol, the driver pulls his hood back and gives the concealed WHG a sly wink. The craggy, ancient face grins through missing teeth, knocked out in bar brawls and battles long ago. Their driver is a Dourstone: the once formidable (and still very spiky) Durnoc Dourstone, grandfather of Durn, the WHG’s comrade apparently incarcerated at Bartozch. When Durnoc drops off the WHG, they promise to liberate their captured friend before pressing on to scope out Grigg’s mansion.
Locked gates and a high wall prevent entry into Griggs beautifully landscaped grounds. K’uu easily picks the locks but when she botches an attempt to disable an audible warning system, a loud bell chimes. So much for stealth! The heroes rush in and try to hide in bushes, but as the first of the guards emerge from a nearby outbuilding, it is obvious that party has been rumbled. As the WHG engages the guards, a sniper picks off members of the party and suddenly a group of assassins spring from the shadows! At first, the party seems over matched and one or two think to flee. However, with Snorri Nosebiter leading from the front, the main threats are soon cut down.
Only two members of Grigg’s security force remain. The unseen sniper still lurks somewhere up on the roof of the house but he can not provide enough covering fire to prevent the mighty force from Crag pressing in for the killing strike. Failure is not an option for them. The guards look desperately for a way out and try to flee!…
Part VII: The Secret Meeting
One guard is quickly cut down but the other manages to run into Grigg’s mansion. The party follows the trail of blood only to find that the man made it as far as the back door before he succumbed to his wounds. A search of the mansion seems fruitless at first; no sign of Grigg and no evidence of nefarious activities. However, Adrikus re-checks a study cleared initially by a rather sloppy Father Badger and discovers a hand written letter wedged down the back of a desk.
The party ponders the content of the note. Ignoring the references to The Wyrm (?!), they concentrate on who ‘B’ is (no clues there) and who this person with a ‘hook’ could be. As it is, in fact, the first night of the new moon, it seems that Grigg may be at this meeting or at least en route. The final sentence of the letter seems to point toward the location… The city’s sewer. Wasting no time in questioning the guards they had so carefully knocked unconscious, the party rushes to the nearest storm drain. They lift the drain and one by one descend into the fetid smelling maze of the Port Cormaa sewer.
Knowing that the main chamber (or ‘cistern’ as an irritated Father Badger repeatedly reminds the others) will be near the centre of the city, the dwarves of the WHG use their subterranean sense of direction to navigate through the tunnels until they reach the area where all the paths of stinking fluids converge. Ahead, faint voices can be heard. A flimsy wooden walkway spans the stinking waters, but as the party advances as quietly as possible it finds that security measures have been put in place!
Some patches of the paths ahead are set with traps which discharge terrific bursts of lightning which frazzle anyone unfortunate enough to blunder onto them. The voices ahead go silent and as the party edges closer, a crossbow weilding sniper attacks from the shadows. Like a true barbarian, Goryn charges into the main chamber… and into a trap! Numerous assassins and a dark human figure with a hook for a hand spring from their hiding places. Another two snipers also join the attack and things soon look dire for the barbarian who seems to be on his last legs. Goryn sees a human figure fleeing into the darkness of the tunnels. This man must be Grigg as a second later his burly bodyguard bundles into the fray.
The rest of the WHG comes to the rescue though, and after one of the snipers is forced into the water and picked off, others from the Crag team make it into the main chamber (or cistern) to back up their injured comrade. The battle is intense and after being initially forced down flat to the ground, the man with the hook starts to get the upper ‘hand’.
Things could be looking bleak for WHG13!…
Part VIII: A Close Shave
As the party closes in and tries to get into some sort of effective formation, it finds that the cunning Hook has a tight grip on his troops. Time and time again the WHG are struck by stinging daggers only for the foes to slip away out of reach and behind cover. One of the WHG falls and as soon as Father B can utter words of healing, another is in dire straits. Through sheer guts and guille though, the champions of Crag start to defeat their foes.
It becomes clear that there are indeed two different ‘sides’ fighting the party and the weaker looking snipers are the first to fall. Snorri Nosebiter piles down a side tunnel and pummels one of the snipers as he tries to slip behind cover. The man drops like a stone, unconscious. Now, if the heroes can just get out of this battle alive, they may have a prisoner to question!
As the lines of foes start to weaken, The Hook finally falls. The man laughs maniacally as he licks a great gout of blood from his hands and spits it at the party before he expires. Another of The Hook’s troops falls and as the man falls to one knee he shouts in a strange and harsh language:
“Mas secru vi jhiir a Hor! Micsh-il buru jhiir dis atur-ak ir Shadar-Garun!”
With no time to mull over the man’s dying words, the heroes continue to hack into their foes despite all of their energy and most impressive battle strikes being all but spent. One of the heroes recognizes the word ‘Shadar’ to mean ‘Shadow’… Could ‘Garun’ be a similar word for Bone?
As the final foe falls dead, the party has a sense of relief rather than elation regarding their victory. The prisoner is bound while the bodies of the fallen are searched. On the upper chests of some of the dead men and the unconscious prisoner is a familiar tattoo, the mark of the criminal gang: Trident!
The party is desperate to pursue the fleeing Grigg who has a considerable head start. They quickly manage to track his direction of travel, given away by the odd faint footprint in the filth. Father B puffs along at the rear with the prisoner slung over his shoulder. Heading south toward the dwarven quarter, fresh dirt is seen on the rungs of a ladder leading up to a street level drain cover. Catching their breath, the party decides to quickly question their now roused captive.
The man is terrified but fails to succumb to some pretty unconvincing intimidation tactics. Heartfelt promises to help the man escape the gang life and ultimately gain his freedom work wonders however, and the man answers the heroes questions.
As this discussion is going on, a cautious K’uu climbs the ladder to the drain cover. She can see that the cover is out of place as if someone has moved it very recently. As she peeks out into the street, the familiar silhouette of the Temple of Moradin, Port Cormaa , now the UCSR Embassy, can be seen 20 or 30 yards ahead. Could Grigg have fled to the Embassy? If so, CSS Agents could be mobilizing as the captive starts to speak…
…The meeting in the sewer was between Trident and The Hook, who represents some sort of religious cult. The cult spoke of ‘the agreement’. It seems that this is some sort of deal whereby Grigg will maintain power after the cult has achieved it’s aims (whatever they may be), which will be shortly after the election. The cult has an ally known as ‘The Dark One’, some sort of force or creature who has been taking the local people. These abductions will stop after the election, making Grigg look like the savior of the city and allow the implementation of his policies. The new trade routes would be used by Trident to set up a massive black market operation. It seemed that Trident had a hand in bringing the dragon Thraxxylbryr’s attention to the city in order to show off the military machines endorsed by Grigg and strengthen his campaign to develop a new Port Cormaa army. It seems that the lower ranks of Trident do not trust the cult and are very jumpy about what will happen after the election. Finally the captive informs the heroes that there was another man with Grigg at the meeting called ‘B’. He does does not know B’s true name but can see that this man is not a warrior…
…K’uu keeps one ear on the prisoner and one ear on the street. It seems that this is a wise move as her attention is drawn to a noise coming from the direction of the Embassy. The marching footsteps of some sort of squad or military unit are swiftly heading the party’s way and, with their powers nearly spent, WHG13 surely would not survive another battle!…
Part IX: Hunters Become The Hunted
With no time to debate the matter, the heroes take the only realistic choice open to them: They must flee back into the sewer away from the Embassy and toward the gaol in the hope they will be able to give the evidence against Grigg to Magistrate Mildraan. As they run for their lives, the frantic clattering of many tiny metallic feet can be heard descending into the tunnel behind. Snorri smashes into a large pile of detritus, sending debris scattering and slowing the persuit, but the reprieve is short lived.
As the party spots a connecting tunnel under the water line, the skittering gets closer. The first member of the party takes the gamble and plunges into the filth. As he swims through the tunnel, numerous Assassin-bug Mechs tear around the corner and attack with their poisonous stings. Luckily, none of the heroes succumb and eventually all swim through to an adjoining tunnel.
Unfortunately, lurking in a dark corner of the ceiling is a Surveillance Mech. As it’s telescopic eye trains in the party, it emits an ear splitting alarm! Within seconds, the familiar tiny footsteps can be heard, but scattering around the corner in pursuit of WHG13 with more Assassin-bugs is a new horror… hoards of tiny, spider-like mechs swarm over the party. Each individual automaton is fitted with a glass vial of highly volatile alchemist’s fire and when in position a few self destruct, causing a chain reaction that produces a massive explosion.
Singed and clinging to the last reserves of their strength, the heroes spot a wheel that looks as though it will open a floodgate. Beyond the gate is a build up of a huge body of melt water from the streets above. Desperate to escape, the party gets into position and a brave Goryn hauls on the wheel, causing the gate to drop like a stone. The torrent of water crashes down the tunnel and the weakened barabarian can not resist being washed down the tunnel and far from his companions. The firebug mechs self destruct, leaving the stricken dwarf close to death. There is a silver lining to the cloud however. The explosion takes out half the remaining assassin bugs and the rest are flushed away.
Father Badger sprints to retrieve his fallen comrade and after some healing (thanks to the Orb of Sacrifice), WHG13 resumes it’s retreat. Aeryn spots a hiding place in the corner of a nearby chamber and with the sound of pursuing mechs coming from all directions, the heroes dive into the dark nook, cover themselves with old sacking and other rubbish and lay as still as possible… and not too soon it seems. As one of the party peeks out from his hiding place, a hoard of mechs swarm through the chamber, searching for the outlaws. The dangerous creatures scatter over the floors, walls and ceilings and for a few tense moments, it seems that the firebugs can sense where their pray is hiding. The WHG holds it’s breath in terror as the swarm scuttles around the entrance to their hiding place but as the other mechs move on to other chambers, the firebugs rush off into the darkness.
The heroes burst from their nook and rounding a corner, see a ladder leading upward to the streets. They waste no time in getting out of the sewer and into the sweet fresh air. Emerging into a dark alley, the party carefully surveys its surroundings. Just a short distance ahead is the watch quarters and gaol. Two Port Cormaa watchmen guard the entrance but they are in a heated discussion with two CSS agents! The cloaked and goggled agents produce a small metallic item which after being manipulated by the cunning agents, sprouts multiple legs and a telescopic eye. The surveillance mech scuttles off. Suddenly, two more agents teleport into view. They too produce and release another surveillance mech. This automaton runs directly at the hidden party before it nimbly skitters up the side of a building. Time is running out and Snorri Nosebiter takes decisive action just as one of the mechs spots the dwarf and emits it’s shrieking alarm.
The party charges from cover in the hope that they can bowl past the agents and claim asylum in the Port Cormaa gaol. Unfortunately, there are more agents present than they first thought! CSS snipers, with blunderbusses that shoot alchemical goo and more assassin mechs join the fray. Also present is a leader, a fearsome agent who is determined to execute the arrest warrants for WHG13! The party is constantly hoodwinked by the powerful CSS arrest team and the heroes’ charge to safety is persistently scuppered as they find themselves slowed or completely immobilized.
Father Badger and Aeryn manage to burst into the open office and demand that Mildraan be alerted. A rather stunned desk sergeant runs off. The CSS agents burst in after the two humans, shouting that they are under arrest. Aeryn shows a cowardly streak and immediately surrenders! As a badly injured Snorri falls to the ground, blasted and battered and stung into unconsciousness a voice bellows out “ENOUGH!”
Standing in a nightgown and cap is an infuriated Mildraan who orders the agents to leave the area. Unless the WHG is accused of a serious offence, the incarceration and trial of the heroes in a Port Cormaa facility will take precedence over a simple Crag warrant. The CSS team leader strides forward and bellows “Treason! The members of Wraith Hunter Group 13 are accused of treason against The State!” He reaches into his coat and pulls out an old book. It’s pages are blackened and damaged by fire. It is the book containing the names of prisoners sent to Bartozch that K’uu the rogue stole from the Great Crag Library and gave to Ma Gravel to burn!
The CSS leader’s eyes narrow as he takes a step forward and hisses “These prisoners are MINE!”….
Part X: Betrayal
A tense standoff ensues but the wiley magistrate knows that as they in Port Cormaa territory, any investigations of crimes commited in the city must be investigated first before handing suspects over to foreign forces. The look of rage on the Team Leader’s face is an absolute picture. The team of agents teleport away leaving the heroes to be led to the cells.
After a brief rest the WHG is called to Mildraan’s chambers where they are joined by a very important looking human… Mayor Villanova himself! The Mayor seems very pleased; and no wonder really as the main challenger for the seat of power: Rydian Grigg has been exposed as a corrupt pawn of Trident.
The heroes’ second escape from the Port goal is all but guaranteed and soon the team is snuck off to the dwarven quarter of the city. In the depths of the Port Rift the party is taken in by the landlord of one of the local alehouses, Brikk Hammerknuckle. Hidden in the cellar the party hatches a plan to secretly return to Crag. The Keepers still need the rare ritual from the Great Crag Library in order to screen their secret portals and allow the heroes to get to Bartozch to release Durn and the imprisoned Keepers
With the help of Neri Scribeson and Durnoc Dourstone, a delivery of ‘scientific paraphernalia’ from Dr Salt’s lab to Crag is set up. The heroes later intercept the delivery cart and with the help of their allies, they are sealed into the crates ready for transport through the portal to their homeland. The journey for a couple of the group is particularly odious as they find themselves sat amongst body parts!
After what seems like a tense eternity the WHG feels the familiar weird sensation as they pas through the portal and after being loaded onto steam carts they are transported through Crag to a certain bureaucrat who secretly sympathises with the heroes’ struggle.
Randall releases the party and allows his friends ame time to escape. As they sneak thouhh thw dark alleyways of The Slags, WHG13 knows that allies will be hard to find here. Rather that trying to locate the mysterious ‘Don’ straight away, the party decides to visit Ma Gravel’s soup kitchen knowing that it should find friends and refuge here.
Ma seems very surprised to see the heroes back in her kitchens. She gives a spluttered explaination as to how the CSS managed to find the book. Ma agrees to try to find one of The Keepers so they can regroup. The heroes hide in a dark pantry to await her return…
A short while later the party hears the kitchen door open. At last it seems that the WHG will get some help. The pantry door opens and Ma Gravel stands in a corner but her normal wide smile is absent. Movement is seen in the corner of the ceiling and a small surveillance mech scuttles into view, it’s lense fixed on the shocked party. The kitchen door opens again and the hearts of the heroes sink as in strides the team of Agents with their warrants. The leader’s grin of triumph is clear to see. His agents’ magical gauntlets crackle with energy.
The leaders cold eyes do not leave the party as he speaks to one of the asssembled pawns of the Republic. "Good work…
… Agent Gravel."
Part XI: Reprieve
The outraged WHG gets set for battle as the traitorous Ma Gravel slinks away. Suddenly, the door flies open and Crag troops march in ordering the cessation of the conflict. The commander of the troops stomps into the kitchens and orders the infuriated CSS team leader away. The great Secretary Broadaxe takes command, tearing up the agents’ arrest warrants! The CSS, muttering curses, teleport off once again empty handed.
Broadaxe orders the WHG to his quarters. Upon their arrival, the heroes are met by The Secretary and honoured guests: Magistrate Mildraan and Mayor Villanova of Port Cormaa. It is plain that the Cormaa dignitaries have been speaking out in support of the WHG… finally it seems that at least the military faction of Crag has taken notice of the Group’s good intentions and hard work! It is rumoured that Dwarrowtec has also objected to the interference of the CSS in Cormaa and threatened to pull the plug on the military technologies they supply to the Republic unless the agency is ‘reigned in’. It seems that for now at least, WHG13 will be able to walk the streets of both cities unmolested by the CSS!
Broadaxe (seemingly much more friendly in this alternative present Crag!) has authorized a pardon for the team and set a new objective: free Port Cormaa from the hideous Shadow menace that has been stalking the city’s citizens. Even though they thought they may have destroyed ‘Shadowbone’, there have been more disappearances over the past 24 hours. There are final negotiations to be had with the Crag rulers so the WHG is not to leave the city until the new orders and authorisations are officially issued. Even then, they are to portal to Port Cormaa only unless authorised by The State. It seems that the heroes’ wings have been clipped, however, they do have other, more nefarious dealings amongst their plans in Crag…
The team immediately makes its way to the grand courtyard of the Great Crag Library to meet up with ‘Pipe’: the chain smoking racketeer who apparently has the ear of the mysterious master of the Crag black market: ‘The Don’. After a brief meeting, the party is directed to Cronn’s Smokehouse, a dark establishment set on a rotting river jetty deep in The Slags. Pipe flips one of the heroes a battered silver piece and advises them to ask at the bar for ‘a number 13’…
The party descends into the dark and dirty slums of The Slags and locates the smokehouse under a towering slum on a jetty set in the stinking polluted waters of the River Crag. As the party enters, all eyes turn on them. Dark, suspicious looking heavies eye the WHG and Cronn himself, barely visible through the smoke haze, stares as he polishes a small cup. “We’re closed” he says. Looking at the menu above Cronn’s head, the party sees that there are various smokeleaf brands available along with different blends on ‘bitterbrew’, a thick, dark alcoholic concoction drunk hot.
The party asks for the number 13 and hands over the battered coin. Cronn pauses for a moment before serving up pipes stuffed with different types of leaf and tiny cups of hot bitterbrew. The heroes find an empty booth and light up. As they gingerly sip the (quite frankly foul tasting) bitterbrew, the party is joined by two burly looking thugs. Enquiries are made regarding the paperwork required to obtain access to the Library and the thugs take the blank papers given to them by Randall. It seems that the gang are not interested in payment in coin… they are more interested in a return favour…
The paperwork is taken away to a master forger and returned with false names and authorizations allowing the party Level 1 security clearance to the library! As the party start to discuss their ‘payment’ a short, fat dwarf whose face has been up until now buried in a newspaper, coughs loudly and interjects. The thugs stand up and allow this individual to slide into a seat opposite the WHG. The Don was in the room all along and the heroes can’t believe that they know this dwarf well. Much cleaner and well groomed, it seems that Jakeswill has reached his full potential in the era of The Republic!
Jakeswill explains that the gang is interested in a “nice little bit of object d’art” on display in the library. The heroes are told that they are to disable security at the library so that the gang can steal the item. This will require level 2 clearance and unfortunately, the part’s papers are only sufficient for level 1. The Don is not interested in the heroes concerns. “You’re clever dwarves, I’m sure you’ll be able to… work it out. Make sure you don’t disappoint me” After so many comical encounters with old Jakeswill, the party are quite disturbed that new Jakeswill seems to ooze menace. The presence of so many heavies adds to the intimidating atmosphere.
The party is told that there are magical ‘information points’ within the library called ‘Oracles’ which hold the whereabouts of all the tomes along with level 2 security settings. They may be able to manipulate these oracles in order to disable the internal security.
WHG13 is glad to get out of the smokehouse and pays a visit to military stores to try to obtain some magical means to assist in their secret mission. Luckily, the inattentive store-hand is happy to doll out a couple of rituals that will help the party with stealth and skill. The team then heads up to the library courtyard to make contact with Pipe who states that the display of an ancient figurine is on the ground floor of the library. When the team has disabled or diverted security, they are to let him know via a magical ‘Animal Messenger’ ritual. The heroes prepare and make their way into the library.
Paperwork is stamped and the ‘mid level external security group’ (according to the paperwork!) makes its way into the Grand Hall. The party notices the target figurine on display in a large side chamber. There are surveillance mechs everywhere along with bored looking drawven guards. It seems that guards have become reliant on the mechs and are now inattentive. If the party can disable the mechs, the theft would be a surefire success!
The party makes its way up to the first floor to locate an Oracle. This strange arcane marvel stands in the centre of the floor. An iron face set in black marble stares with blank eyes. Glowing magical runes are set in the marble around the face. The party activates the Oracle by inputting a runic code stamped on their paperwork and the iron face’s eyes flash with blue light. “Welcome to the Great Crag Library” it croons, “I am Oracle. You have Level 1 clearance. How can I assist you?” The team obtains information on the whereabouts of the ritual scroll they require for The Keepers. It also notes with interest that there is a section on the 5th floor which contains the plans of all State controlled buildings. Level 2 clearance is required however.
The party gets the scroll and expertly and covertly manages to copy it without raising suspicion from the patrolling mechs or nearby bumbling librarians. They pocket the copied scroll and then start to chat to a nearby librarian, claiming that they do not understand how to use the Oracle. The librarian seems happy to help and shows the party how to ‘log in’. The crusty old dwarf’s hands enter his pass-code lightning fast, but a razor-sharp Snorri Nosebiter makes a mental note of it. The Oracle flashes with life again and states that the librarian has ‘Level 3’ clearance! The dwarf cringes and glances nervously at the party before explaining how the Oracle works, obviously preying that the heroes didn’t notice. WHG13 plays dumb, but under the facade all the heroes are secretly grinning from ear to ear…
After getting rid of the librarian, Snorri enters the code and the Oracle informs him that he has Level 3 clearance. He is surprised however when the voice of the arcane device then appears in his head. None of the others hear the Oracle purr the location of a secret entrance to an area called ‘The Central Hub’. Slightly taken aback, the heroes get on with the next part of their plan. They have to disable security but have no clue how to do it. Using natural affinity to magic and with the help of one of the rituals from military stores, access to security settings is acquired and they opt to shut down the scopes of the mechs while allowing them to continue their normal patrol allocations. The little pests now look to be still operational but are effectively blinded for an hour or so!
Using the Animal Messenger ritual, the heroes send one of the libraries resident cave bats down to Pipe in order to give him the all clear for the robbery. Meanwhile, the party’s curiosity regarding this ‘Central Hub’ is too much to ignore. Finding themselves in the middle of the towering shelves of the ‘Non-Crag History’ sections, the party locates the section of wall mentioned by the Oracle. There is no obvious doorway but when one of the heroes turns a sculpted wall rose and a thin line of light crawls along the wall in the shape of a door. The wall is pushed and it gives, revealing a winding stone staircase beyond…
Unable to resist, the WHG climbs the stairway until the sound of someone muttering can be heard from a large circular chamber. This must be ‘The Hub’. As one of the party edges closer, he freezes as an old dwarven voice snaps “Who are you?!” Emerging into this dusty room,the party sees that there are parchments everywhere and the walls are lines with tall bookshelves. Atop these is a walkway, upon which, amongst stone statues of strange beasts, stands an ancient, dusty dwarf, bent by extreme old age. He is not happy to see the heroes, and despite their best attempts to bluff the old codger, he is obviously unconvinced. “You’re here to take it from me aren’t you!” he croaks. He makes mention of “The Book.” As the party tries to reason with the stranger, he suddenly snaps “Guards! Seize them!”
The statues creak to life and stone gargoyles swoop down on the party, raking with huge stony claws. The party tries to get into the centre of the room but as they do, a large stone staircase rolls toward them. This ancient animate flattens the heroes and prevents them from getting to the upper walkway. As one of the gargoyles is smashed to the ground, Snorri sprouts his papery wings and flies up to the old dwarf who is by now frantically fiddling with a door set in the upper wall. Using the flat of his axe, Snorri whacks the codger unconscious.
Down below, things are looking desperate for the rest of the team. With the fighter sprawled on the floor after a charge by the animated staircase and the remaining gargoyles still swooping around the room, WHG13 will have to dig deep to defeat the stone guardians of The Central Hub!…
Part XII: The Guardians of the Secret Tome
As the magical staircase marauds around the chamber, the WHG starts to get its act together. As the second gargoyle is cut down, the third retreats to its roost and returns to its stone form to regenerate. This leaves the entire party free to well and truly bash the staircase into submission. As the mighty automaton finally judders to a stop, the gargoyle swoops down and starts to carry off the still unconscious old codger. However, the flight is short lived and the beast is soon smashed out of the air.
The party revives the dusty librarian, who eventually gives his name as Delius. The ancient dwarf whitters constantly and after a very shaky start, the more silver tongued members of WHG13 manage to get some information from him. Father B asks is there are any scrolls regarding Shadowbone about the place. Much to the heroes’ surprise, Delius scuttles off and returns with a very old parchment which seems to tell an ancient tale of a battle between the mysterious Shadar-Garun and the dwarves of Crag.
With some more sweet talking, the party gets Delius to do some digging… They discover that ‘Thûll’ is an ancient word for ‘thrall’ and ‘na’ is ‘stone’. Hence, Shadowbone seemed to have a dread weapon called The Thrall-stone. As this item was dumped off the coast near what would eventually become the city of Port Cormaa, the party deduces that perhaps the Orb used for years by the merfolk to control fish was actually meant to control darker, more dangerous beasts… No wonder the red dragon Thraxxylbryr was so keen to get the artifact back!
Delius informs the party that ‘Draathwûd’ could be Deathwood, a vast and ancient forest far to the east of Cormaa and the subject of many tales of darkness and superstition. Should the WHG’s next expedition from Crag be to this forbidden woodland? The name is not inviting at all!
Next the party turns its attention to the mysterious ‘book’ that Delius was ranting about. He suddenly seems keen to point the party in the right direction… the door he was fiddling with at the start of the battle is apparently where they can access the book. Snorri opens the door and finds only a nook beyond. With the heroes very suspicious of Delius’ motives, Snorri steps into the nook only to instantly appear in the centre of a completely different room.
This pristine circular chamber is lined with bookshelves. There are no visible exits. At the back of the room is a lectern, upon which is a very important looking tome. Snorri takes a few tentative steps toward the lectern and as he progresses, piles of books fall from the shelves onto the floor. The books start to flutter into the air of their own accord and a small flicker of flame appears from the floor by the lectern. Unsettling…
When the inquisitive dwarf takes a couple more steps toward the book, the flame explodes with rage and there stands a fearsome looking fire elemental. The moving piles of books also fly into cyclonic frenzies. It is clear that these are more guardians. The fire elemental grabs the book and it immediately starts to blister and smoke. It is clear that whoever put the book here would have the thing destroyed rather than allow the eyes of an outsider to view what is written on its pages.
The elemental and the book storms attack. In Delius’ chamber, the rest of WHG13 hears a far off cry for assistance. The heroes pile into the nook and teleport to Snorri’s aid. Aeryn, angry at Delius’ doublecross, spitefully barges him to the ground. The old codger crashes down and does not move… Add murder to the burglary and treason charges the team may now face!
Meanwhile, WHG13 is hard pressed. The book is all but consumed by the elemental’s flame. The team focuses on retrieving what is left though and the elemental is soon sent back to the plane of fire. Father B grabs the smoking tome as first Goryn then Aeryn are flattened by the book storms. With Snorri near his last conserves of strength, Father Badger looks for some way to avoid having to battle the hellaciously powerful automatons.
Through a storm of slicing pages, the human races over to the lectern and replaces the blackened tome. The books immediately fall to the floor and lay still. Disaster has seemingly been averted. As the two fallen members of the group come to and stagger groaning to their feet, the remains of the burned tome are investigated.
Still barely visible on the charred cover is the book’s title: The History of the Republic. The parchment within is all but destroyed, however, the heroes manage to make out small fragments of text:
“…cast down their picks and rose up against the greed and oppression of the monarchy. Leading all was The Citizen, a dwarf of simple birth, who was as a brother to the unlikely few who…
…its secret mark being STN3-DD1, a marvel of life born from the forges of Crag Mountain…
….the Stonefather’s failings from the dawn of time were made all too clear to The Citizen. His advisors were not as one in their philosophy but it was he who was not of dwarven blood who convinced the new master of Crag of the startling truth…
…of a new dawn where the spirits of the elder days would rise up and meld in body and mind with the greatest of Crag’s thinkers and warriors to create beings that would become primary components of The World Machine…
…those who denied the prophesy were cast out. The Citizen’s trusted friend spoke of treachery from within…
…was sent to the outpost for decommission, as were all faulty components not of flesh… "
Who or what is STN3-DD1? Could ‘the outpost’ be Bartozch? How will the WHG get out of this chamber? Will Goryn ever stay conscious for an entire battle? There seem to be more questions than answers…
Part XIII: The Forgotten Forest
After considering the remaining passages within the forbidden tome, WHG13 makes a sharp exit from The Hub. A visit to The Atrium to search for possible Bartozch floorplans is ‘shelved’ for now and the heroes make their way down to the ground floor. There is a general clamour here as it seems that Pipe’s heist has been successful. Crag guards have sealed off the display chamber and the lackadaisical Library security guards can be seen being well and truly grilled by CSS agents. The WHG uses the chaos to slip by unnoticed and out of the library unchallenged.
Bruised and battered by their recent encounters, WHG13 makes its way down to the small barracks adjoining the Map war room. After a well eared rest, the heroes are alerted to an order to attend the chambers of T’ Supervisor without delay. The team hurries back up through the city and arrives on time (as expected!) to stand at attention before the unsmiling senior dwarf.
As expected, new warrants are issued authorising portal travel between Crag and Port Cormaa only. WHG13 is ordered to go to the far off port city and sort out the Shadowbone problem. With the withdrawal of the interfering CSS agents, the shadow of the Republic seems to have receded somewhat. However, the vociferous protestations of the Port rulers don’t seem to have had as much impact as the rumblings from Dwarrowtec that they will pull out of military development…
With a warning from T’Supervisor not to come back to Crag until they have solved the problem, the team leaves for Port Cormaa. After brief visits to Magistrate Mildraan (seemingly their biggest fan at the moment) and Durnoc Dourstone (already 3 sheets to the wind in preparation for a Stonefather sermon), the heroes head to The Temple of Enlightenment to meet up with Neri Scribeson, the bookish member of Snorri’s order.
Neri is delighted when handed the ritual copied from the Great Crag Library and hurries down to the secret portal room to hand it over to the other researchers. It seems that it will take time in order to get the rituals right so that the secret portals stay secret. This gives WHG13 a chance to make further inroads into the Shadowbone problem. The library in this temple holds some clues regarding Deathwood… An old explorer’s journal is located amongst the dusty shelves. It tells the tail of a foray into the ancient forest which was aborted when the members of the team were driven out by a large tribe of squat, dwarf like tree dwellers. There is a sketch of a strange rock carving that the explorers found. The triangular shape brings back bad memories for Snorri and Father Badger of the dangerous artifact Stischna…
The party is still unsure of how to tackle Shadowbone. Should they lay in wait for the creature or trek to Deathwood? Before deciding WHG13 goes to the infirmary in Scuttle Alley to visit the seer and see if the strange human can give any further information on his attack. The man is led in a bunk, unable to talk due to his missing tongue. He is too scared to talk initially but soothing words of reassurance convince him to communicate by writing. Unfortunately, the only information he can give is that his attackers were led by a man with a missing eye and a hook for a hand… The assailant gave The Seer an important message: “Squeal not with piglets or a torturous death awaits thee!”
The heroes decide that trying to trap Shadowbone would be futile so they will have to risk leaving the city to protect itself against further abductions while they investigate Deathwood. Walking or riding there would take too long so the party decides to approach Barrabus’ House of Fun to see if they can thumb a lift on the magnificent airship, The Wanderer.
WHG13 finds the troupe packing up in preparation for a return to The Blasted Lands. As there are expected to be several isolated settlements near the forest (including a reasonable sized town called ‘No-name’) the party convinces Barrabus to change his destination and head east. The party join the circus on the airship and lift off, floating at speed over Port Cormaa and following the coastline of Gob-ny-Stronaa. A couple of dats after flying over The Hermitage the vast green smear of Deathwood can be seen on the horizon.
The airship touches down in the rain near a dark and dour town. A victim of a gallows swings in the cold wind and a night watchman peers through the gloom at the advancing troupe, his sword at the ready. They have reached No-name. With a less than welcoming populace, the team and Barrabus still manage to arrange a plot for the House of Fun. For a small bag of gold one of the town elders agrees to arrange an escort for WHG13 to the eaves of the forest and show them one of the few known routes in. They will only venture near the great wood during daylight so the heroes settle down for the night inside The Wanderer rather than chance a night in the miserable town.
The next morning, Barrabus seems pleased with his new ‘plot’ and the ringleader announces that he intends to stay in the area for roughly a week. The party says its farewells and is led by a couple of townsfolk to the eaves of Deathwood. The trees are huge, dark, twisted with age and seemingly impenetrable… It is as if the the wood itself has grown a barrier of bark, bush and thorn to keep its dark secrets safe from prying eyes. Luckily, the townsfolk save the heroes a lot of time searching for a way in and show them to a gap in the undergrowth where, many years ago, there may have been a path of some sort. WHG13 steps into the wood, wary of what they may discover within.
Seeing through the gloom of the wood is not a problem for the dwarves of WHG13 and Snorri carefully marks their trail to avoid getting lost on the return journey, Aeryn scouts ahead, his finely honed ranger skills keep the party on track, avoiding any dead ends or nasty surprises. As another trail mark is made, a carving in a rock similar to the one seen on the old explorers journal is found. As the heroes advance, another mark is found, this one depicting what looks to be a male dwarf’s face. Pressing on, the ground underfoot starts to get wetter and as the party finds itself wandering into a marshy area, they see an old ruin not far from their trail. Kuu sneaks ahead to investigate and finds that the stonework of the ruin has a definite dwarven quality to the workmanship. She also sees other carvings on half destroyed walls which surround what is left of a circular stone plinth… This was once a portal site!
The carvings show the triangular shape, however, this time it has a central eye. One shows humanoids worshiping this symbol and another carving depicts a glowing axe. Kuu silently takes in her surroundings but as Aeryn attempts to sneak in behind, the human trips on a tree root and falls with a loud squelch… suddenly,there is a barrage of spears, a deep rhythmic chanting begins and humanoid forms burst through the branches of the trees overhead. Hanging by over-long, sinewy arms are squat forest dwarves. Their ears are large and pointed like an elf’s but their long beards and heavy features are certainly dwarven. A leader, wearing an elaborate headdress swings down from above and puts on an aggressive display. The heroes eventually speak in dwarven and surprisingly the leader seems to understand “You speak the old language” he grunts.
WHG13 seems to be the focus of fascination rather than anger for this strange forest race. It is obvious that they see the team as part of a tribal prophesy where cousins of their race will appear through the ruined portal bearing a great glowing weapon which they call ’N’Rishnigar’ and reunite them with a lost god, depicted in their carvings. One carving seemingly shows a dwarf bearing N’Rishnigar, pointing at the deity. As the party takes all of this in, the leader becomes very animated and announces that if the heroes are indeed the dwarves of prophesy, they will also protect them and strike down their enemies. One in particular seems to raise their ire: ‘The Briarbitch’… Her minions come every day apparently, to kill, destroy and snatch members of the tribe away.
WHG13, never a team to turn away from a decent battle, shows interest but has little time to ask more questions as the sound of an advancing force crashing through the undergrowth can be heard. A short distance ahead, numerous twisted humanoid figures can be seen galloping toward the gathering at the ruined portal. At the rear can be seen two tall, emaciated figures who shriek and giggle maniacally.
It’s clobberin’ time!…
Part XIV: The Chosen Ones
As the invading force comes into view, it seems there will be plenty of clobberin’ to do! The slavering front line consisting of Horde Ghouls, tears into the ruin followed by huge battle briars commanded by two hideous night hags. As the hags cast spells of stupour and sleep, the briars shoot thorns in a wide bust. The ghouls immobilising claws do some damage but the undead are soon cut down. Taking advantage of cover and terrain, the heroes soon gain the upper hand and despite a few scares (Goryn spends much of the battle unconscious thanks to the hags) the evil force is soon cut down. The last hag is sent screeching to a bloody end and the forest dwarves are elated with the victory.
Invited up into a meeting hut in the branches of the huge trees, the party is formally introduced to Gûm-Barra-Gûm, the forest dweller’s wisened chieftain. The assembled throng listens with reverence to the heroes’ words though few actually seem to understand. The chieftain however is clear that he believes that WHG13 was meant to protect his people and lead them back to ‘The Lost God’, depicted in the carvings as the mountain shape with a central eye… Could this deity be the outlawed Stonefather? The party is also unsure as to the location of this fabled weapon, N’Rishnigar.
The heroes agree to persue the forest clan’s tormentors but do not know the exact location of the main lair. The tribe seems to think that it will be near ‘Blackroad’. Located in a bowl in the earth, this )to the heroes’ ears) sounds like it may be some sort of crossing into The Shadowfell.
A young guide called Tee-Tee is volunteered to assist the team. Tee-Tee is certainly not keen on this but does as he is told. In true Snorri style, the aloof avenger renames the guide Yuris.
The enthusiastic clan see the heroes off on their mission and Yuris bounds off through the forest. Evidence of the hags’ intentions are soon found. Long sticks and rope are stashed nearby proving that they intended to abduct some of the forest dwellers. The party presses on for another mile until they are waylaid by a wandering group of satyrs. Rarely seen, these wild fey want to know why the team are wandering through their terrritory with one of the ‘Stonebark’ dwarves.
The confrontation is not violent and the leader, a female call Val’yara, seems to be searching for her lost brother, Val’yaryn. WHG13 tells the satyr of its mission and is pointed in the direction of Hells Ditch, a small gorge to the north east. Yuris visibly pales at the mention of the place but leads the heroes right to the edge of the dark gorge.
As the WHG descend into Hells Ditch, Yuris is too frightened to go any further so the team scout themselves. Numerous footprints are found including worryingly large boot prints made by something very big and very heavy… Kuu spots a cave entrance in the gorge wall and creeps toward it. As the rogue gets closer the worrying presence of large strands of spider web can be seen. As the team ambles to the entrance and peers in, a rocky corridor opens out into a large chamber beyond. Sat to the fore of the chamber are two big bushes with large, black rose like flowers.
Seemingly convinced that he will never die during his missions, Father Badger strides along the corridor but as he gets near the bushes, one of the black flowers explodes sending a burst of mind bending pollen into the air which dazes the hapless human. As the others rush forward, numerous huge, vile cave spiders drop from the ceiling of the chamber. A couple of the creatures try to sink their poisonous fangs into Badger while others fire sticky strands of web from bloated abdomens. Father B is tethered to the spot!
Snorri discovers a secret door in a recess in the corridor but has little time to investigate further… The cave spiders are scuttling closer!…
Part XV: New Allies
As Father B stands webbed to the spot and dazed, Goryn drags the human back to the relative safety of the corridor. Unfortunately the safety is short lived as the secret door crashes open revealing an enormous war-troll, armed with a massive longsword which scythes into the heroes with brutal force. A second war troll appears from the main chamber armed with a longbow. It seems things can’t get worse until, from inside the chamber, comes the mad cackling of a vile death hag. Briarbitch herself!
The heroes (after a brief amount of mild flapping) start to use their considerable powers to their advantage. Snorri teleports to the hag, nearly flattens her with a mighty blow then teleports back, bringing the screeching Briarbitch back with him and into the midst of the WHG. Bloodied, she withdraws past the first war troll and disappears into the corridor beyond the secret door. The war troll smashes into the heroes then slams the stone door shut. Snorri and Goryn attempt to break through but it seems the troll is barricading the portal using it’s considerable bulk. The second war troll disappears back into the main chamber, leaving the spiders to quickly get hacked up by the front line of WHG13.
The team has no choice but to run through the noxious pollen bursts of the black rose bushes. Snorri and Aeryn use magical means to fly over but Goryn and Father B simply bundle through and trust their luck, which this time is on their side. As the trolls and Briarbitch are drawn back into the battle, the WHG soon gets the upper hand. Despite the hag draining life force from the heroes, she can not do so quick enough and is soon sent to a gory end. With their employer destroyed, the trolls seem to have second thoughts about continuing the fight. When one of the beasts is cut down, the team offers an olive branch in the assumption that the militaristic creatures have more sense than their stupid (but very dangerous) cousins.
The remaining troll is quick to take new offers of employment and seems to do so through greed for coin rather than any fear for it’s life. It soon becomes clear why the troll is so fearless when, seconds after being cut down, it’s accomplice springs back to life. Regeneration is wonderful thing!
The trolls (Bill and Bert) listen to the heroes demands: take us to any captives so they can be freed. Bill makes a better (but much more expensive) offer: It will take the party to the captives then show the party where the captives were to be taken. It seems that they were to be handed over to a nefarious group somewhere in the Shadowfell! The price for the services of the trolls is steep; 1000gp seems somewhat near vertical for Father B, but the chance of having two guides in the shadow realm is too good to pass up. It could take days or weeks of searching without the help of the trolls. Bill and Bert seem happy to return to the Shadowfell, a place they used to call home and the beasts inform WHG13 that the captives should be handed over to a group of humans led by a huge, tattooed human with red hair. It seems that the mighty warrior: Grist, is still alive in this alternative present day. The thought that Ûrdarth may be involved in this mess fills the heroes with dread.
The cash is handed to the growling trolls up front and the beasts immediately open another secret door which leads down into a holding area where captives have been woven into tight cocoons of silk by the cave spiders. Unfortunately two of the prisoners have not survived, however, eleven are still alive and kicking. Along with seven rather over excited Stonebark dwarves are two eladrin, the missing satyr: Val’yaryn, and a rather brash and talkative gnome who introduces himself as Bokkle, an alchemist and explorer from the Feywild.
After obtaining some much needed loot from the corridor off the main chamber (including Val’yaryn’s stolen magic pipes) the WHG is forced to hand much of the gold they find over to the greedy trolls in payment for staying put while the heroes escort the freed Stonebark dwarves back to the village and snatch a much needed rest. The journey back to Guundhalle is uneventful other than the constant loud chattering of Bokkle who seems intent on eventually hitching a ride with the team to see the mighty Crag Mountain. The satyr quickly darts off into the forest and back to his people. The eladrin, though aloof, are helpful in that they seem to know of the lost weapon: N’Rishnigar. They believe that the owner of the weapon settled in a deep gorge near the coast to the south west. This is obviously the dwarven quarter of Port Cormaa and helps to add to the evidence that the Port dwarves were originally settlers from Crag. The eladrin also remind the heroes that mighty warriors were usually buried with their weapons when they died…
Back at the village, there is much celebration when the captives are returned. The team gets a much needed rest. Bokkle is last seen disappearing into a tribal dance wearing full Stonebark regalia and knocking back dangerous looking moonshine type liquor! Upon waking, the team is given a royal send off by the Stonebarks, which includes an elaborate, loud war-dance and blessing by the chief. As WHG13 marches through the village, flower petals are thrown at their feet by their admirers but the pomp and ceremony soon fades and the heroes drudge warily through the darkness of Deathwood in silence.
When the team gets back to Hell’s Ditch, the trolls have kept their part of the bargain… they are still there and ready for the journey along the Black Road. The heroes follow the beasts along another secret passageway which leads up and deeper into the forest, emerging onto a path which at one time was paved with stone now overgrown. The further along the path they go, the more stonework becomes visible and soon, carvings of demons and other creatures adorn the road which ends at a long stairway, strangled by gnarled vines, leading down into grey murk.
The heroes descend, led by their unlikely guides, and as they go deeper the thick foliage that surrounds the ancient stone stair like a wall becomes more strange. Black thickets with huge poisonous thorns the size of Father Badger’s thumb grow among the dark, twisted trees and the heroes begin to feel a heavy darkness which seems to crush any sense of light and hope from their souls… They have reached a ‘shadow crossing’ and are back, once again, in the Shadowfell.
At the base of the stair, the heroes put their plan into action. They cover themselves with cloaks and loosely chain themselves together to look like captives. Bill and Bert then ‘drive’ the team through the alien forest, even using the lash for added effect! The trees in this part of the Shadowfell are ever watching and some even speak in horrible, hoarse whispers. An occasional eye opens from a trunk and watches the visitors trudge by. The trolls advise the WHG to ignore the questions and nefarious whispers of the wood and soon the party spots the silhouetted towers of a keep in the distance.
The trolls have agreed to march the party up to the gates of the keep before they make off and they keep their part of the bargain. As they enter a clearing, the stone keep looms up from the dark mists. A portcullis is raised and the shambling forms of rotting zombies can be seen milling around inside. As the disguised heroes are led into the keep by a cowled human armed with vicious looking knives, another portcullis stands opposite the entrance. A faint blue light can be seen beyond the second gateway.
A second hooded human checks the chains apparently securing the captives together. The vile zombies cluster around them. The heroes of WHG13, bent forward and heads down, have their hands upon their concealed weapons, ready to strike as soon as the inevitable happens…
…one of the captors tugs on a chain and a barely secured manacle clatters to the ground, the noise echoing through the stone keep before it is replaced by the cry of alarm…
Part XVI: The Killing Floor
The WHG tears away the chains and draws steel as the zombies and assassins bear down on their phoney captives. The undead are quickly chopped down but as Kuu makes a break for cover, she finds herself face to face with a gigantic, tattooed human… Grist, ‘The Hunter’ of Ûrdarth, is back from the dead and the flame-haired warrior swings his mighty great-axe with murderous force and ploughs into the midst of the Crag force. If this wasn’t bad enough, two evil necromancers appear in the stairways at either end of the towers and blast away with their death magic.
How can WHG13 survive such formidable evil?
… Through teamwork, luck and bravery! The assassins, though fast and vicious, are no match for the mighty mountain dwellers, and one, then the other is crushed. The zombies are a mere inconvenience and as the injured necromancers withdraw to cover the WHG focuses its wrath upon Grist. The twisted human seems to revel in the bloody battle and his mad grin widens as his injuries worsen. Despite handing out his fare share of mayhem, The Hunter finally falls; though his hideous laughter continues until his final breath is spent. The cowardly necromancers do not last long without their leader as they are too slaughtered and the WHG stands once again victorious.
After catching their breath, the heroes soon manage to lift the second portcullis and find the source of the bue glow. A portal leading to who knows where. Father Badger tries throwing one of the dead Urdarth in to see what happens. The body disappears as the realisation dawns on the human that if there are adversaries on the other side, they will now be expecting visitors! The time for subtlety is past so WHG13 gather together and jump into the portal.
For a few short seconds they feel the all too familiar stretching of space before appearing in the centre of a high walled chamber. Set high up in the wall is a narrow opening behind which a human face can be seen. In the centre of the floor is an evil looking tomem which immediately starts to hover and glow with a sickening purple light which illuminates three, undead horrors which await their prey. With dried husks for bodies and huge, horrible claws, these slaughter wights tear into the heroes as a necrotic void opens beneath the totem, sucking the heroes to it’s heart and ripping away their life force.
Each time the party tries to out manouvre the wights they are pulled back to the void. The human in the gallery above rains down more magical energy. Some sharp shooting from Aeyrn and Kuu soon downs the necromancer and the wights are quickly destroyed. Unfortunately, it takes more necrotic damage from the void to jolt Father B and Snorri into the notion that they should try to deactivate the totem. Using their magical and theological knowledge, this is done in quick time.
Aeryn uses the team’s magical rope to access the high gallery and locates a lever. Behind him is a doorway leading to who-knows-where. The human hauls on the leaver and a large trapdoor clangs open in a corner of the floor. The other members of WHG13 still on the killing floor peer into the pit and see a slippery, blood stained chute leading down, down into darkness….
Part XVII: The Army Of The Shadow Lord
The heroes’ flesh creeps at the thought of descending the chute and turn their attentions to the door way up in the gallery. Using the magic rope, the party quickly and easily makes the climb up to the door and gingerly push on into a winding corridor. The outside walls of this strange structure can now be seen and seem to have been grown (rather than built) from a bizarre concoction of stone and tree-bark. Working down the stair, the heroes find themselves at a double door. Movement can be heard within.
Throwing caution to the wind WHG13 enters the chamber beyond, hoping to surprise whoever is inside. The charnel stench of death hangs heavy within. Vile ghouls squabble over piles of body parts opposite the door. Work benches like butcher’s slabs containing horrific constructs made from humanoid body parts drip gore and standing at one of these benches, stitching together a humanoid centipede-like monstrosity is a withered husk of a creature, only as tall as a dwarf, its leathery skin is stretched across its bony frame. An ancient menace emanates from this creature as it turns to face the intuders. Eyes burn with evil as the creature grins wickedly. As the heroes instinctively draw their weapons, the creature cackles as it pumps a blast of purple-black energy into the construct laying on the slab. The construct, an undead horror that walks on numerous pairs of humanoid hands, rears up into the air and darts toward the heroes. The ghouls, smelling living flesh, howl and spring in for the kill. The withered re-animator simply disappears, becoming a spreading, lurching shadow which slips under a nearby door!
As the crawling beast lashes at the party with it’s many claws, more movement can be seen from within the chamber…. What seemed to be just another pile of body parts becomes a swarm of terror; heads of men, women and children, twisted into razor toothed undead, with child-like humanoid arms and feet grafted onto the heads, scuttle and scatter across the floor and up the walls. The swarm tries to drag the heroes to the ground to feed on their flesh! Though fear is in their hearts, the heroes of WHG13 refuses to give in to evil, and although they are hard pressed, the battle is mercifully brief. As the last of the scuttler swarm is destroyed, the realisation that these constructs are probably made from the remains of many of the missing people from civilised lands is all too obvious.
Windows are set in the walls of this chamber and one of the heroes peers out into the gloom beyond. In a vast courtyard pit, many feet below swarm thousands of the undead, a huge army of the damned. The acrid smell of acid can be detected in the wind blowing across the land beyond the pit and a green haze hangs over the silhouette of a ‘woodland’ a mile or so away. It seems that some of the swarms can detect the presence of the living and start to claw their way up the side of the walls of the strange tree-like tower toward the window. The heroes quickly retreat and after carefully checking the doorway which the shadow beast escaped under, make their way down hundreds of winding steps to a wide corridor with another, narrower corridor branching off to the east. Huge doors sit at the end of the main corridor and high ledges run along both sides of its length. An iron door sits at the end of the eastern corridor.
Investigating the iron door, the party can hear the scuttling of hundreds of small creatures beyond. Not good. As they turn their attentions to the main corridor, the party is alarmed to see several bloated corpses led along the ledges. As the heroes approach the doors, they slowly start to open with a clattering of heavy chains. A huge chamber is revealed in which are numerous undead horrors. At the far end of the hall is a curtain made of purest dark energy. This is a ’Necromancer’s Veil’, a protective wall which allows free passage through but blocks physical attacks against it’s creator… and the creator soon makes himself known.
Emerging through the crackling veil is a cruel human face. A familiar, scratching voice can be heard: ‘Welcome to your doom, Piglets!" The sense of dread quickly falls upon WHG13. It once again faces Vladamir of the Ûrdarth!
The bloated corpses up on the ledges suddenly sit up. They have no legs, seemingly hacked away… One of the zombies hurls a sharpened shard of bone like a grizzly dart and as another reaches into it’s own stomach and withdraws a hand-full of its own putrescent guts, it is obvious that these abominations are Bonehurler Zombies!.
As a huge globule of rotten guts hits its target, the afflicted party member is afflicted by projectile vomiting, effectively taking him out of the battle! The crawling constructs bear down on the heroes and bursting from beyond the veil is the re-animator! “destroy them, Little Master!” begs Vladamir. The creature becomes a shadow then reappears in the midst of the party. Metal hooked chains burst from the beast’s hands and body, lashing the heroes, causing horrible wounds and dragging them into danger. It dawns of the heroes that the Little Master is none other than the true form of The Shadar Garun; old Shadowbone in the flesh, and the horrific constructs must be his legendary ‘Meatpuppets’!
As the heroes try to close the main doors to obtain some sort of cover, a metallic clanging can be heard from the eastern corridor. Snorri tears toward the iron door, knowing that things have gone from bad to worse… if the door is allowed to open then the legions of meatpuppet scuttler swarms will overwhelm the party. The brave dwarf manages to jam the door but not before several swarms squeeze through.
The situation is dire for WHG 13. With Shadowbone and his minions hacking at those heroes within the great hall and the swarms dragging down poor Goryn in the corridor, the party is split! Tee-Hura-Tee locates a leaver within the hall and hauling with all his might, tries to keep the ailing heroes together by keeping the main doors open. But Goryn is stranded and dying. Father Badger is on his last legs and Aeryn Shadowleaf continues to flit about away from the action in an attempt to avoid breaking a finger-nail.
As the legions of The Shadar Garun swarm over the heroes, it seems that this this could very well be the last stand of WHG13!!…
Part XVIII: The New Masters Of The Orb
The heroes of WHG13 use their last reserves of strength, bravery and will to turn the tide of the battle. The door to the pits outside is finally closed and Goryn son of Gloatyn is finally rescued. As the team manage to fight their way into the main hall, the great doors are slammed shut. As the undead continue to swarm over the desperate adventurers, Snorri and Father B race through the necrotic vale to take on Vladamir face to face. As they do so, they see an ornate plinth, invisible until now. Sat atop the plinth, crackling with energy is a black orb; the missing Merfolk artifact… Thûllna: The Thrall Stone!
Vladamir focuses his ire upon anyone foolish enough to meddle with the stone and with Shadowbone and his meatpuppets still causing havoc, it seems that unless the team can work out how to use the artifact to their advantage, they will be doomed. As the minions are picked off, more swarms bear down on the heroes. When Vladamir is finally cut down, it seems that the undead go into a frenzy. As the end seems nigh however, the team manages to work out Thûllna’s complicated archaic puzzle of barely visible runes and in an instant all the meatpuppets freeze and stand motionless in the chamber, their lifeless eyes transfixed by the ancient orb. Shadowbone howls with derision and bursts into a shadow which dissipates into nothingness.
The heroes gingerly make their way out to the pits outside the tower and seen thousands of undead, formed up into motionless lines of a great army, all awaiting their orders from the weilder of the great stone. It seems that once again, the heroes have triumphed over the forces of darkness with The Ûrdarth foiled and Shadowbone chased away to some god-forsaken realm.
The heroes enter a debate about what to do next. It is clear that this army of the damned must be destroyed, but how…. The acrid smell drifts in on a breeze and an idea comes to WHG13. Using Thullna to lead the horde, they march into the forest of the shadowfell, toward the green acidic haze… toward the lake of deadly acid.
The horde shows no fear as it marches dutifully towards it’s doom. pallid skin begins to blister and smoke as the caustic air begins to eat away dead flesh. As WHG13 watches from a safe distance, the very weapon that Shadowbone hoped to use to drive his army against the land of the living is used to bring about it’s total destruction. The meatpuppets march mindlessly into the acid lake, never to re-emerge…
The heroes have no time to celebrate their victory. Nervous that Shadowbone may still be lurking, they portal back to Deathwood. The Stonebark dwarves are overjoyed by the heroes’ return and a huge celebration breaks out in Guundhalle. Amongst the dancing and merryment is a small gnome, supping an alcoholic concoction… Bokkle the alchemist is keen to discuss what will happen next… he seems convinced that he will get the chance to visit Crag Mountain, however, the team has other pressing matters to attend to! They still determined to seek out N’Rishnigar, the weapon of legend spoken of in the Stonebark prophesy. WHG13 also has the not so small matter of using illegal portals to get to the Bartozch Mine and free Durn Dourstone…
After further debate, the party decides to seek out N’Rishnigar. The information from the eladrin, freed from The Briarbitch, was most helpful. Could it be that the wielder of the weapon of prophesy actually founded the dwarven quarter of Port Cormaa? Where will they find out where this dwarf is laid to rest? It seems that Port Cormaa is the best (and most friendly) place to start.
The heroes make their packs, and with the curious, chattering gnome always in earshot, WHG13 trudges wearily toward the town of No-Name near the outskirts of the forest to negotiate transport on an airship owned by a certain ringmaster and his strange troupe of misfits…
Part XIX: A Long Lost Hero
Arriving in No-name, the party feels that there was possibly more cheer to be found in the depths of Deathwood. Even the ‘preparations’ being sold by Dr Bliss at the sparsely visited House of Fun are doing nothing to lighten the mood of the dour populace.
Barrabus agrees to transport the heroes back to Port Cormaa (deviating from a planned visit to Fort Blighthold) on the agreement that they will one day deal with the menace of the red dragon, Thraxxylbryr. The kobolds from the ‘walking Disaster Clown Troupe’ show the fear and hatred they feel for dragons when Thaxx’s name is mentioned.
WHG13 spends a disturbed night in the company of some of the band members: Mighty Tiny, a surly, ale soaked goliath and Bam-Bam, a four armed warforged with an internal glitch. However, the team manages to get sufficient sleep before boarding the airship for the long journey back to Port Cormaa. As the journey progresses, they discovers that the Stonebark youngster, Tee-Hura-Tee, has snuck onboard as a stowaway, determined to follow the heroes on their next stage of the journey. Also making his presence painfully clear is the chattering gnome alchemist and all-round pikey: Bokkle.
On arrival at Port Cormaa, the party immediately attends the dwarvern quarter’s alehouse to seek the advice of Durnoc Dourstone on the possible whereabouts of the tomb of the mysterious ancient warrior who wielded N’Rishnigar. The half-cut geriatric lout has heard tales of a supposed labyrinth in the depths of the dwarvern gorge, though few dare venture there due to stories of malicious spirits that haunt the deep. A tip off from Durnoc directs the party to an old explorer who lives amongst the humans near The Temple of Enlightenment. The heroes sneak away from the taproom in order to avoid Bokkle’s incessant jabbering. A startled looking Tee-Hura-Tee is also otherwise engaged with the cleavage of a serving wench who appears to have taken a shine to the strange tribesman.
Using a keg of finest ale as leverage, the party visits the old dwarf who tells a tale of an abandoned expedition to the depths of the gorge many years ago, The dwarf had found an entrance to a hallway but was scared off by a terrible screaming and roaring which came from a small creature with huge claws that shone like diamonds. Perturbed, the heroes visit The Temple of Enlightenment, meeting up with Father Silvanus and Neri Scribeson. Acting on the information about the strange creature, the holymen hit the books and eventually deduce that the beast may well be a Labyrite, a strange elemental that spends its long years exploring by digging vast labyrinthine tunnels. These creatures are not malicious but are not at all sociable!
Knowing that negotiating the tunnels without guidance may result in days of aimless wandering, the heroes decide that finding the Labyrite may be the only quick option for finding the lost tomb. Unfortunately, finding the critter could prove even more difficult… Silvanus finds out from research that folk lore states that to call a Labyrite, one must enter their tunnels and use a hammer to strike a diamond, The creatures are said to be incredibly sensitive to the precious stones and can sense minute vibrations in the rock. It is said that Labyrites will trade interesting pieces of information so maybe the tale of WHG13’s trials will suffuce… There is one big problem… No diamond and no cash to buy one….
Enter Bokkle. The gnome tears off with intentions of stealing one from the local gem merchant. Some time later, Bokkle returns looking flustered but with a beautiful stone in his pocket. A hub-hub of what can be assumed are local guards can be heard outside but they move on. An outraged Nerri and Silvanus demand that the stone is returned at the first possible opportunity. Bokkle smirks; “Of course lads! I may have to lay low for a bit mind you!”
Leaving Bokkle excitedly rummaging through dusty tomes in the temple library, the team (with Tee-Hura-Tee in tow) make their way down to the cold, dark depths of the dwarvern gorge. The road peters out but after some time negotiating the descent, the heroes find an old, disused tunnel entrance. Numerous smaller, circular tunnels branch off from the main corridor along with corridors obviously cut by dwarves. The heroes lay the diamond on the stone floor and strike the stone with a warhammer. Some time passes and as the heroes begin to give up hop, a eye appears in the wall! With some coaxing, a small, rocky humanoid with enormous diamond claws emerges from the ceiling, then the floor and stands before WHG13.
The creature seems inquisitive and agrees to hear the heroes’ news about Crag mountain and Port Cormaa in exchange for the location of the tomb of the lost hero: Gruuna The Goldenaxe! The dwarves’ tale is long and after some hours, the Labyrite is satisfied. The creature leads the team through a vast maze of corridors and soon arrives at an old, sealed stone door. The location of the tomb. Using a symbol of The Stonefather and requesting entrance, the door magically opens and shuts behind the heroes after they step inside. A pillared hall leads to an old sepulcher, which, with further praise of the stonefather, reveals glowing runes:
Two huge statues of dwarves armed with waraxes loom over the sepulcher. Also of interest are carvings set in the walls at the back of the tomb which depict a large mountain with a central eye. Stood outside the mountain are numerous dwarves walking away from the mountain, led by a dwarf with a dome over his head. In the background, seemingly guiding this dwarf is a dark, hooded figure. Another shows a group of dwarves and another smaller figure working together inside a large mountain. They are producing mechanical wonders. The small figure then can be seen with the same dome covering his head standing over a huge split in the earth under the mountain and balls of fire erupting through the air. A third carving is very similar to the carvings found at Bartozch and at Gruunhalle in Draathwud and a fourth, rather frantic carving simply depicts the random letters and numbers STN3-DD1 written repeatedly with what look like bars carved over the top.
The team attempt to follow the instructions of the runes but the riddle seems too complicated until yje team deduce that the dwarf statues may be the ‘guardians’. Goryn pries off the metal breastplate of one of the statues and set in the chest is a small stone box. The box is gingerly opened and inside is a small papyrus scroll upon which is written a short prayer to the Stonefather. As he is a worshipper of the ancient god, Snorri loudly reads out the prayer. A slight wind plays through the chamber… Could that have been Goryn having eaten too many turnips again? No! An expanding ball of light appears over the sepulcher which turns into the glowing form of a dwarven spirit; a warrior in fine plate armour. The spirit speaks in an old, deep voice:
“Who calls Gruuna The Goldenaxe from his slumber?”….
Part XX: A Holy Mission
The ghostly figure of the old warrior glares down upon the heroes who quite wisely, are on their best behaviour while Grunna tells his story. Gruuna tells of a dream he had when alive of a time in the distant future when the leaders of Crag would make pacts with the forces of darkness and an ancient enemy would bring the mighty dwarven civilisation to its knees ‘from within’. He dreamed that the Stonefather would be lost to the world and his disciples persecuted for their faith. Shortly after this disturbing vision he claims he was visited by a herald of the Stonefather and his holy mission was made clear…
Gruuna left Crag to seek a weapon of prophesy that could be used to combat an encroaching darkness and establish a second home where in the future, the faithful of the Stonefather could find shelter. After locating N’Rishnigar, Gruuna used the mighty golden war axe to defeat the Shadar Garun; however, the true power of the weapon could never be truly unleashed in the great leader’s hands. There would be only one who could wield the full might of N’Rishnigar, chosen by the Stonefather himself. Gruuna understood that he was but a steward of the blade and foresaw that after his death, a new steward would be chosen.
The creature sent by God was strange – a metallic guardian ‘born of the forge’. The party soon realises that this could be the mysterious STN3 DDI. They are sure that it is somewhere within Bartozch, as described in the charred remains of the book they discovered in the Crag library’s secret chamber. If they can find this creature still alive, perhaps the heroes will find the blade. Gruuna nods and tells the heroes that if they wish to lay claim to the stewardship of N’Rishnigar, then they must prove themselves worthy. The apparition disappears and the heroes get a sinking feeling in their guts.
The mighty stone statues that guard Gruuna’s tomb start to move. A third guardian raises up, morphing from the rock of the floor, and the party is surrounded. The stone guardians attack, trampling the heroes and swinging their huge axes, landing mighty scything blows. WHG13 however, uses tactics and focus all attacks on one of the automatons. Although the guardian is tough, it is soon smashed into rubble which immediately melts back into the rocky floor. The remaining two behemoths disengage from the battle and slowly lumber back to Gruuna’s sepulcher, resuming their silent vigil over their master’s resting place. Gruuna’s voice echoes through the tomb: “You prove worthy of stewardship. Go! Seek ye the golden axe. Find the chosen one. Bring the Stonefather back to our people!” The voice fades but the words stir the hearts of the heroes as they leave the tomb.
After finding their way back to the dwarven inn, the heroes seek an audience with Durnoc Dourstone and tell the old warden of their mission. Sure now that they must get to Bartozch, the heroes hustle to the Temple of Enlightenment and speak with Neri Scribeson. It seems that The Keepers Of The Eternal Truth have made an important alliance with some Chechyan activists (Bartozch was formally a Chechyan owned coal mine). The heroes use the secret portal under the Port Cormaa temple and emerge in an icy cave in Chechya, a secret hideout not far from the rocky slopes of the Bartozch caverns. They are met by a human, Yuri Skarkov, one of the leaders of the CPF: the Chechyan People’s Front.
Yuri takes the heroes to a fireside meet of other activists. The humans are aggrieved as they feel tricked by the UCSR. The dwarves bought the Chechyans out of the Bartozch mine for a pittance as the coal lode was near its end. Claiming that they were only interested in using the location as a research facility and prison, the Republic for some reason continued exploratory digging under Bartozch and soon ‘discovered’ large seams of precious metals. The Chechyans, now without their main source of income, are tied to the coat tails of Crag, eking a living selling meat and skins to the dwarves or working as servants and errand boys within the caverns that had been theirs for generations.
Yuri, being a man of action, is very keen on WHG13’s plans to disrupt Bartozch, seeing it as a strike against their oppressors. The CPF has friends among several of the dwarves placed within Bartozch who may be able to assist the heroes cause: A member of the mounted guard, a low level supervisor at the prison and one of the archivists within the research facility. WHG13 hatches its plot and spends a peaceful night getting much needed rest while CPF activists make contact with the guard to arrange a meeting near the trade entrance of Bartozch.
The team leave at dawn with a Chechyan caravan. Badger and Aeryn are easily disguised as guards, however, the dwarven contingent of the strike force have to conceal themselves under piles of furs stacked atop a sleigh pulled through the deep snow by huge musk ox. As they approach the smaller entrance of Bartozch the heroes peel off from the caravan and hide under a rocky outcrop and wait patiently for their contact.
A proud uniformed dwarf mounted on a shaggy ram soon rides into view. The dwarf introduces himself as Harlin Stonestriker and acting on his advice, the team decides to try a guards and prisoners routine to trick their way in through the main entrance. Harlin obtains two more rams and two uniforms for Snorri and Goryn. Badger and Aeryn have to be manacled and make convincing Chechyan insurrectionists. The team warily makes its way to the main Bartozch entrance.
The yawning cavern is heavily guarded by iron, steam powered automatons. Surviellance mechs skitter hither and thither and as the team approaches, they are challenged by a CSS agent who demands to know the details of the arrests. Luckily, Harlin Does all the talking and with surprising ease the ruse works.
Harlin leads WHG13 through the familiar environs of the Bartozch cavern, down into the old mine entrance. They shortly come to a pillared door which is the entrance to the prison. Harlin points out the heroes’ next contact: Gribbe Coalmail, one of the supervisory clerks. The heroes are only able to ask hushed questions as Gribbe gives some cryptic answers, obviously wary of the other clerks. It seems that Durn and his father could be held in the ‘high risk’ chambers. The Decommission Chambers also has one of its access points inside the prison. …. looks to be scribbling down the details of the prisoners on some sort of booking-in parchment. Gribbe folds the parchment and hands it to the disguised party. “Your cover may get you in”, he whispers “But guards and the CSS are everywhere in there. You may have to fight your way out. Good luck my friends, may the Stonefather watch over you.”
Gribbe pulls a lever and the prison gate clanks open. WHG13 gingerly steps inside. The door crashes shut behind them and the heroes find themselves within a large corridor. Unfolding the parchment WHG13 finds that along with their booking papers is a hastily drawn map of the Bartozch prison…
Part XXI: The Bartozch Lode
The party views the map hoping to formulate a plan rather quickly. Hastily drawn, it primarily shows the prison and the locations within. The location of the decommission chambers is also marked but with no real detail. The prison is set around the now exhausted coal lode. A steam powered chain lift leads down to a platform and there are two steam rails clearly marked. The prison rail leads to the three gaol entrances. Running parallel for a time with this is the decommission rail which spirals deeper down into the lode. A huge winch runs down the centre of the lode which are used to lower large pieces of machinery down to the bottom of the lode where the decommission chambers are located.
The party continues its ruse and steps through an iron banded door. Here they come face to face with a curmudgeonly Chechyan man called Dirgan who controls the steam chain lift. It does not take the disguised heroes long to realise that Dirgan is no friend of the Republic, he is simply another of the underpaid humans employed in Bartozch. He is an ex miner who knows the layout of the coal mines well. Because the authorities are confident that no one would have the inclination to access the Decommission Chambers, or have the power to bypass the guards on the platform below, Dirgan is paid a pittance to work the lift alone. Dirgan is not part of CPF, but he secretly (like most Chechyans) supports their cause. Cautious introductions are made and Dirgan gladly tries to fill the heroes in on the prison layout.
The lode is about 500 feet deep – shallow by dwarven standards – and 100ft wide, widening at the bottom to double this where the main concentration of coal once was. The prison itself is reasonably well guarded while the lode is not, however, distant pin points of fiery light can be seen. Firebug mechs, the explosive metallic arachnid swarms which were nearly the undoing of WHG13 in the sewers of Port Cormaa skitter around, ready to blow the rails in the event of a security breach. As the lode is the only potential escape route, most of the manpower is at the entrances to the lode as it is thought that escape would only be possible this way. On the opposite side of the lode and about 50ft above the prison line platform is a huge portcullis where workshops are located. This was the original mine entrance that is now the source of the machinery line and the large steam winch is controlled from here. This area is also heavily guarded…
Level 1 prisoners are non combatants, usually artists, minor insurrectionists (such as low level CPF members) and people who have a particular trade or skill which has been used against the state. They are kept in normal cells and guarded by automatons. Dirgan has heard that one particular inmate is an exception to this and is guarded by actual people because they can not be allowed access to mechs or any machinery, imbued by magic or otherwise.
Level 2 prisoners are high risk, dangerous inmates. Those who have a high level of power are kept barely alive by some sort of magical device that drains their energy. The CSS spend a lot of time here and there are all sorts of mechs used to keep the inmates subdued. Dirgan has seen tall, hooded guards go into the level 2 cells. These guards look like they wear some sort of helmet or head dress under their hoods. Dirgan has only seen them from afar as they never seem to leave the prison.
After stalling the journey down for as long as possible the old lift attendant starts the descent. At the bottom, the lift opens onto a wide rock shelf with a metal platform where steam powered carts run on rails down to the prison entrances. The incline is very steep so the engine is only fired up on the ascent back up to the platform. A CSS agent eyes the ‘prisoners’ with disdain before authorising transport for the group on the prison rail.
WHG13 makes a snap decision to investigate the level one gaol first, their interest piqued by the mysterious prisoner who can not be guarded by mechs… This person could be of great use. During their descent, the heroes notice that the decommission and prison rails almost cross part way down the lode. The thick chains of the heavy metals winch also dangle tantalizingly close at times to the decommission rail… the seeds of a daring plan are planted, but this will have to wait until the first part of their espionage is complete. Ready for trouble, the heroes soon arrive at the prisoner arhive and garrison.
The team is met by hulking iron gate guards. The steaming automatons usher them inside and they make their way into a circular chamber staffed by an archivist who logs in the prisoners and issues authorisations to the dwarf contingent of the WHG posing as mounted guards. The group are directed through another door which opens onto a steeply descending stairway. The heroes make hurried preparations and plans before opening another door, emerging into a large central chamber with numbered doors leading from it. Another iron gate guard activates upon their arrival. Strange, winged and pincered flying mechs zip around the ceiling of the chamber, carrying trays of food. They disappear through different doors and out of view. Of interest is the fact that there is a single dwarven guard here. He quickly diasappears through door number 6… The heroes make a mental note of this, hoping that cell 6 may contain the mystery prisoner.
The heroes are led through doors which open automatically into a cell complex. Five large pits contain metal pillars which reach from the pit floor to the ceiling. Barred cells are suspended at the tops of the pillars, containing wretched looking prisoners, some human, some dwarven. Two cells at the far end of the chamber are in the pit, ready for the new additions to the gaol. The humans in the suspended cells see Father B and Aeryn and assuming that they are Chechyan, start to shout in acknowledgment. A metallic flash whizzes through the air and a flying mech snaps its serrated toothed pincer at the miscreant, cauing him to howl in pain. Two more flying mechs appear from the ceiling and two bipedal mechs stand to attention at the far side of the chamber.
As the party are led to the descended cell they spring their trap, drawing weapons and battering the bidepal mech to the ground. The other automatons barrel toward the party and the fight is on! The flying mechs, though fast and powerful with barreled weapons, are soon shot from the air by Aeryn. The other mechs are smashed into pieces in double quick time. The prisoners rejoice, assuming they are to be immediately released. However, WHG13 must be cautious and decide to investigate cell 6 first. One of the dwarven prisoners, who seem much calmer, is placed in charge of the chamber. It turns out that he is a captured member of Snorri’s order: The Keepers Of The Eternal Truth and swears loyalty to the heroes.
The team turns its attentions to cell 6 and upon entering, find a single, very panicked, very easily manipulated dwarf guarding a single prisoner who introduces himself as Jaralt, a skilled (his own words) artificer. The guard is subdued (he immediately fouls himself with terror) and Jaralt released. It seems that the artificer helped to set up a secret chamber (with a complicated trap system) in the decommission suites for the storage of ‘dangerous, intelligent’ machinery. After completing this, he was locked away by the Republic, to prevent the location of the chamber ever being leaked. Jaralt is quite understandably aggrieved by this and offers his help to the heroes. Perhaps this chamber may contain the legendary STN3 DDI mentioned in the secret tome and in Gruuna’s ancient carvings.
The dwarven guard is stripped of his uniform and bundled into a cell. Thankfully, spare uniforms are found in a locker (the smell from the guards breeches is offensive at best). Jaralt dons a uniform and Snorri and Goryn take on a second disguise before the heroes discuss phase two of their plan. Do they try to access level 2 of the prison or do they try to find a way down to the decommission yard? Deciding that breaking into level 2 will cause bedlam, the party decides to try to get down to the decommission suites.
WHG13 +1 confidently strides out to the platform and get onto the steam trucks of the the prison line. As they ascend, they are obscured from the other platforms for a few seconds and the decommission line is but ten feet away… Grabbing a rope, the heroes all cling on to it before leaping onto the decommission rail. All the heroes make the leap… apart from Badger who makes a desperate grab at the rail but misses. As he plunges into the blackness the safety rope slips through his other hand and the human falls to his doom…. surely?
Snorri, uses magical powers of flight and free-falls to Badger’s rescue! He grabs the human but does not have the strength to ascend with the slightly portly Father B in tow. The pair plummet and things look bleak until, digging into his reserves of endurance, the avenger slows the descent enough to steer the pair toward the wall of the lode. They crash into the spiral of rail beneath the rest of the party, but apart from a few bruises, they are unharmed.
The rest of the party stands on the greased decommission rail. It is too risky to stand around exposed and Goryn decides to slide his way down the track toward his friends. Aeryn and Jaralt follow and with surprising grace (and rapidly increasing speed), slide along the rail. Goryn is able to slow down enough on the approach to Father B and Snorri. A firm shoulder from Snorri brings the descent to an end. After a brief breather, the rattling descent of trucks can be heard and a train from the workshops bound for the decommission suites races into view.
The heroes have little time to prepare themselves and are forced to leap over the front engine in an attempt to land in one of the trucks! Aeyrn (assisting Jaralt) and Goryn make the impressive leap. Unfortunately Snorri and Father B don’t have the height and smack into the front of the train like road kill. The battered pair claw their way over the scalding hot engine and collapse into the front truck with their friends. Jaralt yelps and dives under the piles of machinery. Bemused, the others look around and see a swarming mass of firebug mechs skittering along the lode wall toward them! The party desperately tries to hise amongst the scrap but there is no time! The firebugs swarm over the trucks, some even skittering over Father Badger’s exposed arm but incredibly, the mechs don’t discover the party and disappear into the darkness. As the train continues down the rail, WHG13 breathes a huge sigh of relief.
Jaralt tells the heroes that they will soon enter the main yard. He says that they should be cautious; an arrogant but powerful dwarf called Hartul The Summoner roams the decommission suites, using his considerable powers to summon fire and earth elementals to complete work in the forges and yard. soon the trucks come to a juddering halt and the party peeks above the lip of their truck. They are in a huge yard lined with storage shelves packed with all sorts of machinery and scrap. Two large doorways lead to the forges and the workshops, which is where Jaralt used to work. suddenly the thumping of heavy footsteps can be heard coming from the forge.
A massive, stone titan comes into view. Standing nearly thirty feet tall, the vast, rocky bulk of the creature barely squeezes between the storage shelving. A harsh voice rasps from elsewhere, “Burt! clear those trucks on the double!” A haughty, red-haired dwarf carrying a staff comes into view…. The Summoner!
The titan approaches the last truck and with a single mighty hand, clears the machinery before piling it up a short distance away. A sense of panic starts to well up in the heroes. The titan swipes up the metal from the next truck, and the next, the pile of scrap nearby teeters as it gets higher. Another dwarf, dressed like a craftsman, picks through the detritus. Jaralt seems to recognise him; a timid artificer called Soradin.
The next truck is cleared, leaving just one more before the final one containing the hapless party. The titan clearly has the strength to crush the heroes like grapes! They need a plan, and fast!…
Part XXII: The Scrap Yard Scrap
The stone titan returns for the final handfuls of metal as the heroes attempt to dive out of and hide behind the carts. As usual, the dwarven contingent’s attempt at stealth goes for a ball of chalk as Goryn catches a boot on the lip of the cart causing him to fall amongst a cacophony of crashing and clanging of metal. So much for sneaking off… Burt bellows and The Summoner orders the attack!
Soradin seems to want no part of battle and takes cover. The titan bowls into the ranks of WHG13 as The Summoner fires spells from range. As Father B and Snorri try to close on Hartul, two fire elementals tear from the forges and launch a counter. The beasts try their best to immolate the party but the heroes focus their attacks on the feisty Summoner. Burt the stone titan shrugs off damage and is little more than scratched by the time Hartul and his fire elementals are cut down. The party retreats into the forge in the hope that the titan will not be able to follow to finally squash them. When things look bleak, the party uses diplomacy to convince the titan that it is now free of its oppressor. Soradin steps in and backs up WHG13’s offer of peace and a possible disaster is averted. It seems that Soradin holds some influence over the elemental giant. The party earns a reprieve…
Soradin and Jaralt greet each other and discuss with WHG13 the location of the secret chamber for ‘restricted’ technologies. Jaralt leads the team through vast scrap storage rooms to an insignificant patch of bare wall. The craftsman’s hands begin to make complicated movements across the stone and as he quietly chants, runes appear which move and bind together. A large section of the wall slides open and the artificer steps into a wide corridor. Ahead, Jaralt quickly disarms a magical security system which would have been a nasty surprise for the heroes if they had blundered into it. The dwarf whispers that further perils lie ahead however… An arcane generator, a computer-like defence system, guards the chamber. Although the automaton does not move, it is linked to numerous modified warforged and a special prototype warforged designed for infiltration and war. Jaralt can not deactivate the generator and does not hold the codes to control it. The team will have to try their best to deactivate it themselves or destroy it outright. This will be tricky as the generator apparently magically strikes back against any attack launched against it.
With grim faces, the heroes press on until ahead, they find their destination. The secret chamber opens up ahead. Crates and stacks of machinery are everywhere. Motionless warforged stand all around the room and at the centre is a large contraption of metal and stone. The Arcane Generator. As the party advances warily, large crystals set in the centre of the strange machine begin to glow. The Generator begins to hiss and steam and the thrum of powerful magic fills the chamber. WHG13 charges in and the generator senses their advance. A blast of magical energy erupts from the machine and the warforged lurch into life. Some of the automatons are decrepit and easily cut down, however, a few are large and powerful and pack a mighty wallop. The prototype leaps at the party, smashing its way through the heroes’ lines of defence.
Any physical attacks on the generator result in a huge blast of crippling magic in retort. Snorri braves the contraption’s other attacks and the bludgeoning fists of the warforged in an attempt to use his skills to disable the system. He will have to move fast though. The generator reanimates some of the warforged that have been cut down by the determined WHG13 and the automatons are silently relentless. As the heroes chip away at the Arcane Generator, their strength has begun to weaken!…..
Part XXIII: The New Stewards Are Chosen
The pounding fists of the remade warforged are relentless, but the fearless Crag warriors are not to be denied! As Aeryn eventually succumbs to grievous wounds, the arcane generator is finally destroyed and the remaining automatons, confused without their driving power source, are soon obliterated. The heroes call on Soradin and Jaralt to help them locate their quarry among the stacks of classified machinery. A strange patch of stone in the north wall drwas the team’s suspicion and with the help of the skilled artificers, locate and open an arcane lock revealing a secret chamber within the secret chamber! WHG13 creeps inside.
Stacks upon stacks of identical crates are within the smaller chamber. The party tried their luck by tearing open the first few they come to. Only weird machine parts and an arcane device which oozes an odd fluorescent oil are found. Father B produces the locate object ritual the party have been saving for such a time. Jaralt takes over and soon leads the heroes to a crate at the far wall, buried under detritus and dust.
The crate has a plate riveted on it’s side bearing the symbol of the UCSR along with a warning that opening the crate is strictly forbidden. Aeryn, who has been acting a little strangely since being knocked out in the previous battle, grabs an axe from one of the dwarves and with no hesitation, leavers open the crate. The others leap back, anticipating some sort of trap but nothing harmful happens. The crate’s lid groans and cracks as it is lifted, revealing the remains of an ancient warforged within. The heroes of WHG13 gasp as they realise that they recognise the disassembled automaton….
Soradin, wide eyed, tells the party that often warforged who were given their freedom would be named using derivatives of their serial mark. In this case:SToN3 DaDdI. Father B tries not to let on that he has spent many nights trying (and failing) to work out the conundrum. Snorri nods sagely. Aeryn ponders what led this warforged to it’s doom. Goryn picks his nose and wonders what day of the week it is.
With Snorri keen to find the weapon of legend: N’Rishnigar, Soradin and Jaralt are tasked with reactivating Stone Daddy. The artificers warn that because of it’s poor state, they would only be able to reanimate the warforged for a minute or two and doing so would probably totally destroy it forever. With the future of Crag in the balance, the heroes decide that they must risk it. The artificers work furiously, using fine tools and chanted magic until eventually, there is movement. The battered head of Stone Daddy twitches on its torso and a faint light sparks from its eyes. In a deep, faltering voice, STN3 DDI hails the new stewards of the blade!
The party immediately asks what happened to Stone Daddy. It recounts its fall from grace, having once been a body guard for The Citizen who was then himself a devout worshiper of Stone Father. An adviser had the ear of The Citizen, a wise creature from unknown lands who Stone Daddy names as ‘The Deceiver’. This adviser brought the Crag dwarves to a long buried stronghold deep under Crag Mountain where they found spirits who, according to the deceiver, would impart ancient knowledge and build advanced technologies… It seems these first contacts were successful, but Stone Daddy believed that the deceiver was orchestrating events for some nefarious ends. Stone Daddy tried to intervene but was hounded out of Crag, barely escaping with his life. Shortly after this Stonefather worship was outlawed. STN3 states that the faith must have been seen as a dangerous link to the ancient strength of dwarf-kind by the usurpers.
After receiving a vision from a herald of Stonefather, Stone Daddy traveled to Port Cormaa and found the tomb of Gruuna Goldenaxe whose spirit entrusted the warforged with the stewardship of the great weapon of prophesy. The heroes, mindful that time is running out, ask the weakening automaton for the location of N’Rishnigar. Stone Daddy describes the weapon’s location. It replies "Within my very being… To part with it will mean my doom, however, if passed to a being of a kindred spirit, my end will not be in vain.’ There is a spark of magic and the light behind the warforged eyes fades. Soradin shakes his head. Stone Daddy is dead.
Snorri offers a silent prayer to Stonefather and believes he knows where the weapon lay. The avenger asks Soradin to break open Stone Daddy’s torso. Father B raises an objection but Snorri is sure that this is the only way. The artificer levers open the chest plate of the automaton, shearing the broken body apart. Lo and behold, within the twisted metal is a beautiful golden waraxe. Snorri grasps N’Rishnigar and as he does so, white light explodes from the blade. Shards of chain lightning burst through the bodies of the heroes of WHG13. As their eyes roll and limbs contort, each warrior receives the same vision of an event long past…
They are back in Crag Mountain, deep, deep under the ground. An entourage of dwarven warriors and scholars emerges from the blackness. Stone Daddy is among them and at the rear are several taller, darker figures, their faces covered with hoods which also seem to cover some sort of horned helm or head dress. The entourage stands aghast at the entrance to an ancient, recently unearthed tomb. The party recognises it as the entrance to the wraith complex that the then fledgling MG13 first ventured into. It is obvious that in the time of The Republic, the Crag dwarves have discovered this place years earlier, seemingly with the direction of the tall, cowelled humanoids.
The humanoids easily work out the cryptic puzzle on each of the mighty stone entrance doors, manipulating strange disjointed metallic shapes to form a mosaic of the hammer symbol of Moradin. This triggers the huge slabs of carved rock to judder aside. One of the humanoids steps forward into the tomb. He reached up to his hood and pulls it back to reveal his face…
But the vision explodes into nothingness as N’Rishnigar’s lighting flashes and dissipates. The heroes of WHG13 stand blinking away the spots of light from their eyes… as they do so, a dwarven face flashes into their minds for a brief second: a noble, dwarven face with slick black hair and a cropped beard, the dwarf’s head emanates a pale white glow…
The heroes feel refreshed but a little unnerved. They ask the artificers about The Citizen. Jaralt and Soradin seem surprised when they realise that they have never actually seen the famous figurehead of the revolution. It seems that the fact that The Citizen must have died of old age long ago has never been considered by anyone. The team ponders the possible whereabouts of the mysterious leader but with no evidence of the location, decide that they must press on to liberate their brother Wraith Hunter, Durn Dourstone. The new stewards of the blade secure N’Rishnigar in a pack and prepare.
Hurried plans are made. They must get into the high security prison but stealth is not an option for the party now. Sly eyes fall upon the mighty stone titan: Burt, and an outrageous and high risk direct assault is agreed with the giant. He desperately wants his freedom and is willing to take on the whole of Bartozch to get it! There is no hiding under scrap this time, a blind man would be able to spot the hulking titan sat astride a line of steam carts with a rowdy, aggressive group of adventurers psyching themselves up for a huge bundle and daring rescue.
As the steam carts chug back up into the lode, Burt frantically looks around for his method of assault. The titan intends to use the huge winch chain to swing across the pit to the prison entrance. However, something has noticed the presence of intruders! A swarm of firebug mechs streams down the walls of the lode and onto the track in front of the advancing train. The little automatons spontaneously combust, causing a massive explosion which blows the track to pieces. Burt roars and with the members of WHG13 clinging on for dear life, the stone titan leaps from the train just as it launches off the end of the mangled track and plummets hundreds of feet into blackness below!
Burt’s leap is breathtaking and the titan grabs the winch chain and swings at breakneck speed toward the opposite wall of the lode. Father B closes his eyes and braces for impact. Snorri begins to pray. Goryn lets out a cry of doom and Aeyrn is annoyed that the wind may be messing up his hair. The party expects to be squashed against the wall but Burt uses his mighty legs as shock absorbers, recoils and thrusts the swing back again toward the prison entrance. The party can see a platform and entrance coming into view as they hurtle across. Burt lets go of the chain and the whole group fly through the air toward a shocked looking CSS operative who stands guarding the high security prison doors with several Iron Gate Guards. The party lands in a heap on the platform with weapons at the ready (apart from Snorri, who sprouts his papery wings and flies down to a safe landing). Poor Burt is not so lucky… His massive weight makes him plummet and the titan smashes into the rock wall under the platform. The brave creature roars as he crashes down into blackness to his doom…
WHG13 are in no mood to take prisoners and they take their fury out on their adversaries. The automatons hardly get a chance to take swing before they are smashed into piles of scrap. The CSS operative throws mighty blows with his thunder-guantlet clad fists but the agent of the Republic is overwhelmed in seconds. He dies shrieking as he is chopped and bludgeoned into a heap of stumps and blood.
The heroes take a minute to let their adrenaline settle and mourn poor Burt. As they turn their attention to the prison doors, a sound of collapsing rock can be heard. As they spin around to see what is happening, a huge hand reaches up and slams onto the platform. A vast, stony bulk hauls itself up from the abyss…
Part XXIV: The Great Rescue
The heroes cheer as the mighty titan stands before them. Burt roars with rage and looks for something to smash… Meanwhile WHG13 uses a pass located on the body of the CSS agent to access the locked doors and enter the high security cells. A long, wide corridor stretches out before the party. Numerous alcoves are cut into the walls. At the end of the corridor, multi-coloured glows can be seen on the floor. Large chambers are located to to the left and right, each with two deep pits. Glowing with a sickly purple necrosis, there are four prison globes in each pit, evil mockeries of the wraith prisons used not to restrain the malevolent spirits, but up to four unfortunate dwarves who have not the strength left to free themselves.
The prison area is heavily guarded by iron gate guards and goalbird mechs. The heroes launch into battle as the automatons silently bear down on the intruders. As the guards crash into WHG13 with axe and shield and the gaolbirds zip through the air firing bolts of concussive energy, it soon becomes clear that something else prowls this place… As the party advances, a hooded humanoid figure appears on one of the coloured sigils at the end of the corridor. It throws back its cowl, revealing the twisted, evil fanged grin of a tiefling!
This warlock uses powerful magic and teleports in and out of battle. As the melee rolls on into the left chamber Snorro feels an unstoppable pull on his very being. Before the avenger can work out what has attacked him, he finds himself trapped within one of the prison globes. Necrotic energy pulses through Snorri’s bones and weakness takes him. As he frantically tries to look for an escape he sees a familiar dwarf slumped at his feet. Durn! The semi conscious warden is trapped here with his father, Dûn, who had disappeared from Ma Gravel’s soup kitchen just before the treacherous cook revealed her true identity as an agent of the CSS.
The Dourstones are too weakened to offer any assistance to Snorri, who, after taking another blast of necrotic energy, uses the power of prayer to escape the globe. On his emergence, the mechs and the tiefling are causing carnage. Father B tries desperately to tend to a fallen Aeryn and Goryn and Tamok are hard pressed. Snorri decides to deal with the globe which imprisoned him by attempting to smash it, however, these globes seem to be made of tougher stuff. As the WHG manages to destroy the remaining guards the tiefling makes a bolt for the corridor, seemingly in an attempt to escape. The tiefling is hacked down and as it dies, a glowing form raises from the body. A hoodwraith emerges for but a second before the spirit sheds and dissipates.
WHG13 turns its attentions to the globes and as the last mechs are picked off, the globes begin to weaken and shatter. First one then another and another until all are destroyed. nearly sixty prisoners lay stunned on the ground. Durn Dourstone groans, rubs his face with a feeble hand and gruffs “What took you so long boys?”…
Part XXV: The Chosen One
The warriors of WHG13 have found their captured comrade but getting Durn, his father, numerous other maintenance group heroes and members of The Keepers of the Eternal Truth out of the Bartozch complex will be another matter entirely. There is the small matter of getting back up the lode and past the CSS and numerous mechs. If they escape onto the tundra outside, the weakened prisoners will surely succum to the bitter elements. There is also the matter of where the tiefling had come from… Durn offers a clue as he recounts his tale of abduction and imprisonment. When he was dragged into the prison from the lode, the tiefling seemed to appear in the corridor from nowhere. It seems that there are more of the hellish creatures somewhere in the complex.
The heroes check out the lode. The absolute bedlam there (caused by an irate Burt and trigger happy CSS snipers) proves that an immediate escape attempt would be unwise. WHG instead turns its attentions to the alcoves in the main corridor. It appeared that the tiefling was attempting to run into one of these innocuous looking areas before it was slain. Goryn the barbarian throws caution to the wind and steps into one of the alcoves as his compadres ready themselves… The mohawked warrior immediately disappears! Snorri, concerned, considers following but as usual ponders the consequences first…
Goryn now stands in a large, pillared chamber. An expansive library of tomes lines three of the four walls with exquisite tapestries lining the fourth. A marble fountain bubbles away at the far end and in the middle a beautiful rug is flanked by several opulent sofas, upholstered in the finest material. The barbarian has no time to admire the decor as numerous tieflings snarl with hatred at the intruder. He has discovered the hideout of The Shadowguard and its general, a particularly smug warlock called Haalvos. Sat with Haalvos is a dwarf with short trimmed beard and black, slicked back hair. Surely this is The Citizen?! The dwarf has the tell tale glowing hood like aura over his head – evidence of possession and the reason why the dwarf is still alive despite being so old. The Citizen stands up and howls in a terrifying, otherworldly voice “the Wraithhunter group! Kill them!”
As Snorri and the rest of the team appear inside the chamber, the Shadowguard warriors charge in and the warlocks use their demonic magic to teleport their adversaries into more advantageous positions. While the minions are easily cut down, the rest are made of sterner stuff. Haalvos fires volleys from a safe distance, sticking close to the possessed Citizen. The wraith uses the body of the old Crag dwarf to issue threats and provocation, offering the WHG the chance to kill The Citizen and thus lead Crag closer to total ruin. Goryn pins the wraith to a corner, luring the creature to leave the body and show itself. As the vile wraith appears nearby and slashes at the heroes with its claws, The Citizen slumps to the ground, stunned and immediately begins to age. As the battle rages on, the unfortunate dwarf’s hair turns white and his face becomes wrinkled and sunken.
As Aeryn continues to pick off The Shadowguard, the others turn their attentions to the hideous wraith. Snorri remembers N’Rishnigar strapped to his back and prepares to use the weapon in some way… perhaps he should get the blade into the hands of The Citizen… Could the ancient dwarf be the chosen one? The hoodwraith soon stuns Father B and immediately envelops the unfortunate human. Snorri immediately uses holy power to rip the creature from its host, enraging the creature. A blast of magic finally drops the plucky avenger. Father B picks up N’Rishnigar but is stunned again! As things look bleak, Goryn takes the opportunity to seize the initiative.
The barbarian may have the wit and looks of an orangutan dressed in armour and strategically shaved, but occasionally he manages to come up trumps. Goryn rushes to Father B, grabs the weapon of prophesy and thrusts it into the weak and withered hands of the dying Citizen. As his hands grasp the blade, the dwarf,s eyes shine with white light. The Citizen holds the weapon aloft and gives a mighty, ear splitting bellow and there is an explosion of holy power which fills the chamber, bloodying the Shadowguard and the hoodwaith. The chosen one then disappears with a roll of thunder and a flash of holy light.
Heartened by their success, WHG13 bears down upon the confused wraith. With mighty blows the hideous creature is soon destroyed utterly. As a warlock is cut down, the form of a hoodwraith appears over the body and shreds into nothingness. Haalvos wails and calls a retreat. The remaining Shadowguard sprints for the magic portal and disappears. WHG13 persues but the teiflings have already made their way out into the lode. The heroes catch sight of one of the teifling being swatted by Burt who still rages outside. The creature screams as it plummets to its’ doom. Haavlos and the remaining guards make it to the chainlift and start the ascent. Burt flings himself at the shaft and follows, bellowing with anger.
Exhausted, the heroes return to the prison where the weakened prisoners seem overjoyed, hugging each other And praising Stonefather. They have received a vision of an ancient dwarf bathed in holy light, negotiating time and space on a magical carpet, intent on restoring Crag Mountain to The Stonefather. Durn is desperately searching for anything he can turn into a weapon in order to kill something. The WHG returns for a short while to the opulent chamber to rest, search for clues and plan its next move.
The tapestries depict Crag brought to its knees in the chains of slavery by The Shadowguard and the hoodwraith. One horned creature seems to preside over all, it’s name embroidered in fine twine: The Liberator…. Liberatoris.
The team decide that the only thing to do is to try to fight their way through to the secret arcane facility which holds the portal and the Temporal Weave and try to obtain the help of their last contact: Lor Gemscroll. The heroes advise the prisoners to stay put and burst out into the lode. Sprinting up the track to the workshops is dangerous and a feat of endurance. As snipers take pot shots at the intruders, Aeryn’s constitution fails, but his friends do not leave him. The ranger is dragged along and despite taking a hit from a sniper, he successfully makes the final push to shelter.
WHG13 continues its sprint through the complex. Dwarves and humans alike dive aside as the Crag phalanx rolls on like an unstoppable boulder. A large set of doors appears ahead. Using the winding mechanism nearby, the great doors slowly open and the heroes leap into a large pillared hall beyond. What is waiting for them inside however stops them in their tracks…
Firebug mechs swarm over the nearest pillars and standing blocking the only escape route are three huge mining mechs. Standing at the top of steps in the centre of the chamber is a familiar face. Teeth bared, the glowering CSS team leader who has twice now failed to capture WHG13 cackles with glee. Several agents who stand nearby produce small metallic objects and begin to move their gauntlets over them. Spindly legs sprout from the objects and a small head on each bears a wicked looking barb.
“I have you at last!” bellows the team leader. “Destroy them!” The agents hurl the assassin mechs to the ground and as the firebugs stream down the pillar toward the mining mechs stomp forward. The ground shakes. The heroes of WHG13 are on the last reserves of strength but will not be able to escape without a fight. Surely there is no way out of this other than through force? Certain death beckons….
Part XXVI: Time Bandits
Aeryn cleverly takes out the firebug mechs using his bow and the critters explode at a safe distance. however, the heroes are hard pressed as the CSS cracks down on the enemies of the state. Snorri targets the leader and after teleporting the bemused adversary into the midst of WHG13’s ranks, the leader is sent quickly to a bloody end. With the remaining agents pummling the cornered heroes, the mighty mining mech stomp forward on an offensive, their glaze eyed dwarven operators barely visible within the mass of metal. Trampling through the phalanx of Crag warriors, the mechs seem almost unstoppable but with steely determination, the heroes focus their attacks on one of the machines and soon fell one which smashes to peices, leaving a howling, confused looking operator within the wreckage. Snorri sees the tell tale barcode tattoo on the nape of the operator’s neck which glows with a strange light. A theory comes to the avenger.
As the agents continue to blast and smash the battered WHG, Snorri races up to another mining mech and, using the power of prayer and religious focus, deactivates whatever power has overcome the dwarf within the mech’s control pod. The operator seems to wake from a trance and is overcome with panic, seemingly unable to control the mech any more. The flailing machine stomps off, smashes through a thick set of stone doors at the north wall and crashes to the floor where its drill and shovel arms thrash uncontrollably, tearing lumps of stone from the walls and floor of the corridor beyond. It seems that an escape route has opened up… However, it is the cowardly agents who use the situation to their advantage. Seeing that they no longer have their leader or the back up of the mighty mining mechs, the CSS dwarves hastily retreat and sprint off to save their skins. The heroes are weakened and bloodied but have all managed to survive.
The operator dwarves have no memory of their encasement within the mechs. These worshipers of Moradin all bear similar barcode tattoos to Father B and were obviously being controlled by some fell power. The Republic must be stopped and the WHG decides that the only way to do this is to find the Temporal Weave. How they will be able to use this artifact to achieve their aims is still a mystery though. Hopefully their last possible ally in Bartozch will be able to assist: the arcanist, Lor Gemscroll.
The party rests for a few minutes to catch its breath before pressing on through the facility. Any resistance is batted aside easily or cowers in the face of the furious might of the WHG. The heroes find the arcane facility and using the magic hammer and anvil, portal into the main chamber. All the arcanists appear to have evacuated, apart from one curious looking fellow.
With a huge white beard and a slightly manic squint, Lor Gemscroll is fixated on the Temporal Weave but he immediately jumps to the defensive as the invaders enter the chamber. He is obviously trying to hide something… The party persuades the arcanist that they are part of the insurrection against The Republic. After dropping a few names and explaining their desire to use the Weave to help The Chosen One put an end to the UCSR , Lor calms down and explains his theories on the artifact.
Unknown to his employers at the CSS, Lor Gemscroll has been seeing movements within the fabric of The Weave which he has kept to himself…as Liberatoris and Urdarth have been using The Weave to manipulate history, it seems that the artifact sometimes shows some events and characters as a story board within the weave. As many of these events show the treachery and infiltration of evil forces such as Liberatoris into the power structure of Crag, Lor has been trying to find some way of stopping The Republic by directly intervening in one of the major events of the past.
Lor believes that he has the necessary magical components to be able to negotiate the Weave by crossing ‘strands’ of time and space. He will need some ‘muscle’ as, due to the chaotic influence upon travel along time strands, they could find themselves in some pretty perilous situations…. Enter WHG13!
In order to return to an accurate location and time, the party must successfully negotiate the strands of time to locate The Chosen One. The team can jump between strands in order to locate where in time The Chosen One is and therefore obtain N’Rishnigar. The PCs must hurry though, as The Chosen One is tearing through time himself, heading for the pivotal moment in history when the balance of Crag was upset and the future changed… The party deduces that the original approach to the wraith prison by his younger self along with his supporters led by Liberatoris and the Shadowguard was the beginning of the evil Republic.
Lor explains that any major change in history will cause a ‘time rift’, whereby every living thing in the vicinity is sucked into a huge void and spat out (potentially) in any place or point in history. By using N’Rishnigar as a holy focus, the party will be able to effectively anchor themselves to their location and return to their natural time setting and hopefully in the ‘normal’ free Crag. The heroes prepare to deploy immediately and after hurried preparations by Lor, they step onto The Temporal Weave.
The arcanist beings his ritual and with a flash, they find themselves tearing through time and space along a glowing time strands. The ride is by no means smooth and whilst some in the team use mental powers to stay on course, the more physical members of the team do their best to stop their comrades being bucked off course and spat out into the void. Strange, twised creatures can be seen watching the WHG13 from other strands. Lor explains that the strands are infested with creatures who were once time travellers themselves. These beings (mostly of fey and Abysal origin) have become lost within the strands and over time been twisted into bizarre entities by the maddening void. Some are thoroughly evil, but some are simply unaligned and therefore open to persuasion, bargaining and bribery…
Lor shouts to the team that they must find crossover points: resting places where the traveller finds respite from the forces of chaos. Failure to make stops results in over exposure to the void which tears at the mind, causing madness and mutation
The party is successful in it’s first attempt to locate a crossover point and in order to avoid missing the critical event, Lor returns the WHG to the dawn of time itself. The heroes soon feel they are floating above a harrowing scene: the taking of Darain Paik and his endless punishment in hooked chains. Time starts to race forward thousands of years as Darain’s body starts to twist into a whithered husk. A black force begins to ooze from the the dwarf; a rising shadowy mass that appears to be an entity made from suffering and hatred. The mass crawls toward the party and a clawed hand reaches for them as the shadow tears past them and into the mortal realm. The chains still writhe in the air but Darain has disappeared.. The scene fades and the party is soom back within the strands with Snorri pondering the fact that the shadow derived from Darain’s torture looked very much like the beast Shadowbone…
The party tears along, but this time is not so lucky, and fails to keep it’s focus. The crossover point isnreached but someone else has tuned in on their presence… As the WHG finds itself in a remote ruin a large band of mutated creatures materializes. These powerful denziens appear to have once been elves but their horrific visages are barely recognisable. Eyes appear in different places on their faces and as they talk to eachother, mouths appear in random locations. The band appears to operate as highwaymen and luckily the heroes are able to bribe them with a coupke of potions and the tale of the UCSR. Before leaving, the leader of the band points out a glowing orb set at the very back of the ruin. It infirms that the creature within is someone they may well know very well!
The party walks through thr ruin. The sky can be seen overhead. Sat always in shadow is a wraith prison globe which holds a powerful hoodwraith. The evil this creature permeates is almost visible in the air! the wraith’s aura is dimming however, as if it is ‘giving up’ on its existence. Days, weeks, months and then years begin to rush by with the sun repeatedly rising and setting in rapid flashes. The wraith begins to become dimmer. It appears to be dying… As the aura fades completely, the orb becomes absolutely black as a shadow engulfs the creature within. Time slows to normal and the shadow begins to lift, revealing a Tiefling knelt within the globe. The creature lifts its head and begin to laugh like a maniac. It then fixes the party with a paralysing gaze. It is Liberatoris! “I see you!” he hisses as he leaps forward. The globe shatters and the scene fades…. The WHG is once again tearing through time. Father B muses that perhaps he has just witnessed the life cycle of the wraith.
The team navigates its way through the strands but overshoots it’s destination, finding itself in a crossover point some 30 years prior to the heroes’ emergance from into the Repulic controlled Crag. The World Machine has been chosen as an ‘authorised’ religion, but its philosiphies have been twisted to encourage experiments with technologies which could be used for war and control. CSS agents can be seen ordering lines of Moradin worshippers into chambers within Crag where they are tatooed with a barcode like mark. The scene fades…
To a laboratory within Port Cormaa some years later. Dr Salt can be seen working on some sort of arcane generator. The machine is enfused with energy. Salt is working on the machine and then experimenting with cadavers much like those the WHG hid amongst to avoid the CSS. As the machine begins to acticate, a blast of energy washes over one of the cadavers which twitches and begins to move before falling back to the slab. Salt giggles and orders an assistant to send a message back to Crag. “We are making progress. I have the prototype reacting with the marks on the cadavers. I will soon require testing on living subjects.” Salt turns the dead body over. It has a barcode tattoo on the back of its neck.The scene fades…
…To a laboratory elsewhere in Cormaa in the ‘present day’. Dwarves in smart overalls are working on a strange arcane device. In charge is a curious old dwarf with white hair and beard and a large, bizarre looking mech arm. He asks how the development is going. A younger engineer shugs then meekly says “Sir… we… well the lads and I… we’re not really happy with working with necrosis. It feels… wrong. What exactly will the device be used to detect?” The old dwarf seems perturbed. “It will use radiant and necrotic energies my lad. The powers that be at Crag are expecting us to perfect this technology and we are being paid handsomely so I trust you will give this your full attention.” The old dwarf leaves the workshop. An assistant waits outside, ready for orders. “I am not happy with this situation. When I voiced my protestations regarding the behaviour of the CSS and threatened to pull out of the programme, Crag aquiesed immediately. A bit too quick for my tastes… I don’t trust them. All of this military development and now this latest prototype. How can we perfect a device of this nature if we do not know exactly who or what it will be used to seek out? Send word to my old friend, Broadaxe, back at Crag. Perhaps he can shed some light on this. Be discreet though… The Republic will not be happy if they find out we are digging for information on them.” The assistant, who has been scribbling notes, nods and says “Right away Mr Dwarrow.” The scene fades…
Lor feels that he has a fix at last on the location of The Chosen One. As the heroes barrel through time, the arcanist tells them to prepare themselves for the big moment. The crossover point yawns open and the WHG finds itself standing at the entrance to the wraith prison deep under Crag Mountain. The mighty doors to the tomb are firmly closed. Approaching is a large band of explorers. The heroes immediately recognise Stone Daddy and The Citizen leading a group of warriors and arcanists. At the rear are the ominous cloaked figures of Liberatoris and his Shadowguard.
As this group cautiously approaches the prison entrance, they seem oblivious to the presence of the time travellers who observe their every move. Suddenly there is flash of white light and an whithered, white haired dwarf materializes, clutching the glowing waraxe of legend. The Citizen is stunned to come face to face with his future self. Before he can run or his guards can react, The Chosen One rushes toward him and the two beings crash together with an explosion of thunder and light before disappearing. The Shadowguards explode into flames and immolate, screaming their death throes. Liberatoris howls as white fire engulfs him and the teifling disappears. As the explorers try to run, a huge swirling void opens up with N’Rishnigar hovering in it’s midst. As some of the unfortunate explorers are sucked into the void, WHG13 and Lor grab the weapon and hold on for dear life. The violent maelstrom threatens to scatter the team through time but just as their strength starts to fail, there is another flash…
… And the party is the clouds! On the deck of the airship ‘The Wanderer’ Barrabus stands at the edge of the deck, arms outstretched. Dr Bliss and various other members of the circus troupe stand nearby. The heroes, obviously invisible to the members of The House Of Fun, peer over the edge of the deck and strangely, are able to see events unfolding in great forest thousands of feet below them. In a clearing, a tribe of dwarf like creatures are gathered around a glowing circle: the site of a long dormant portal. On the ‘other side’ of the portal can be seen a quivering image of the Crag teleport room. An old tribal leader, resplendent in his huge head-dress begins a jerking dance and leads a chant before stepping into the portal. There is an explosion of white light….
Back on deck of The Wanderer, Dr Bliss shuffles forward toward Barrabus. “So we are to return to the Dragon Haunts?” he says. Barrabus turns to face his troupe but his arms remain outstretched. His huge, ever-present manic grin is gone. “We must continue our search, good Doctor.” says the ring master. “We must not let the others gain the upper hand. You will all have a part to play. That is why I chose you” Bliss gives a slight bow. “We all remember the debt we owe you. Although you gave us freedom, we are still bound to you my master.”
Barrabus closes his eyes and falls backward, toppling off of the edge of the ship and plummets through the clouds. There is is searing white light and heroes of the WHG suddenly find themselves standing on terrafirma, blinking in the light of magical torches.
They are standing at the portal in the wraith war room in Crag. Numerous arcanists are studying the maps with interest and pay the team little heed, apart from one particular eccentric white haired dwarf who gives them a sly wink. A guard marches up to the warriors. He is wearing the uniform of the Crag guard, not the Republic. He seems confused. “Who are you?” he blurts, rifling through a register. The heroes reply that they are WHG13 but this causes more confusion. Father B produces his warrant but the paperwork now shows the human as a member of WHG8! The crusty warlord breathes a sigh of relief. The WHG is back home!
The guard seems unimpressed and even more confused… “But…. But… You’re dead.” The team is directed to report to the office of T’ Supervisor without delay. They have been declared KIA before so surely this situation can be easily sorted out. If they can bring down an evil empire and negotiate time and space, surely explaining things to the Supervisor should be easy enough.,, Surely?!
The team makes it’s way up into The Slags and are relieved to find that everything in Crag seems to be as it should; much more… Crag-like. As they wander through the streets, grinning widely, a familiar face comes into view. Ma Gravel sweeps the steps of her soup kitchen and upon seeing the heroes gives a hearty greeting “You boys look like you need some food. Come on in!” Little does she know that in an alternative Crag the kindly matriarch was a traitorous undercover agent of an oppressive regime! The WHG, realising suddenly how tired and hungry they are, file into the soup kitchen.
Inside and already slurping away at a huge bowls of hearty broth are some familiar faces. It seems that the Dourstones made it safely back to real Crag. “You took your time lads” gruffs Durn. “Grab some food, we have an appointment wi’ T’Supervisor.” Reunited, the heroes of WHG8 sit at the large table and bowls are placed before them by a well known apron wearing warforged.
Stonedaddy serves a welcome dinner to fellow former stewards of a holy blade. A dark chapter of Crag’s history has been erased and only a few know just how close the wraith came to final victory….