The level six Silvers for this session
Garth, fighter/Battle Master, wielding Ungart Hammer and shield;
Richlen, paladin/Oath of Glory, wielding Alagondar and shield;
Dakeyras, rogue/Assassin, wielding Whisper
Randomly accompanied by Vernon, wizard/Conjurer, wielding spells (NPC this session)
The Silvers begin 90xp below level 7 and end on 78
Part One: Cryovain has declared war!
It is night, and a humid one. The Silvers have had to outdistance a vast swarm of skeeters, and only Garth’s determination to ‘leave no loot behind’ has kept the pile of hardware picked up over the recent battles with them. They are all tired and in need of a good night’s sleep.
But looking around the square it’s obvious that a disaster has fallen on the little town. Few lights visible, and the Townmaster’s Hall knocked all about and its bell-tower gone! Stepping that way, Dak can see a trail of solid wreckage in a line, and a destroyed house beyond. Icicles are still visible in the more sheltered nooks of the building.
“What do you say, fellows? Looks like the white dragon attacked!”
“Well… let’s try the inn for news.”
The Stonehill Inn is untouched, but is near deserted. The patrons are all wearing black sashes of mourning. Off in the minstrel corner, young Galandro is picking a lament out.
At first, there’s no sign of Tobe the innkeeper, and when he does emerge from the back, he looks devastated. He too wears mourning, not just as a sash but as a dense cloud of misery.
Galandro explains, for Tobe is barely coherent. A day ago the white dragon tore the town hall roof off, then came back on the same trail and sent death into the square. Shalla was caught in the storm of death. They that perished are lying in state in the shrines, but there’s nothing to be done. Many of the townsfolk have fled to the caverns south, just as the council plans called for. Linene is one of them but Barthen’s store is still operating.
“What about Sildar?”
“He tried to fight, but his griffon was wounded -“
” – so he has gone south to seek healing for it.”
“Oh, that’s a relief. Has any message arrived for us by the way?”
“I think you should visit the orchard – Edermath, Daran Edermath did get something like a messenger bird.”
Tobe, who has automatically served them ale, assures them there are beds aplenty and – if they can spare the effort – a bath to draw. He retreats back out into his own quarters and personal hell.
Overnight the Silvers confirm that their priorities are unchanged. But they should make every effort to get to Cryovain’s lair once the Manticore nest has been looted. Then they turn in for a
Long Rest – exhaustion cleared, all health and spells regained.
Dawn finds a steady but gentle rain helping the town mourn. The Silvers are up early and slosh down north then around counter-clockwise to the orchard. A dog barks loudly: it is the same dog from their previous visit, so not a surprise.
The small female keeping house for Daran peeps out, recognizes them, and alerts her master (or granduncle?). By the time they step through the door Daran is up and bids them welcome, shows them where to leave their muddy boots and wet cloaks.
Waving them to seats near the fire, he invites them to breakfast. He must have a sweet tooth: his little housekeeper has cooked a bunkhouse-feedlot of bear sign, or donuts, for breakfast.
“Eat up! The workers have all left for the caverns, so the mix will go to waste else.”
Having once again discussed the tragedy and what a waste it seems having put so much effort into getting that ballista up, the talk turns to Cryovain itself.
“I fear, I greatly fear, that Cryovain is preparing to demand tribute, or send a force of minions to seize the town! But it’s very strange – white dragons are known to be stupid and treacherous, as treacherous perhaps as any black dragon.”
“Do you have much experience of dragons, Daran?”
“Once back in the day we original fought a green dragon, that laired in Neverwinter wood near Thundertree. Now that was a devious beast! And then of course, we cleared the wyverns from Wyvern Tor.”
He breaks off:
“By the way, I understand that wyverns are preying on travelers on the High Road south, towards Leilon?”
No-one has anything to say, this is news to them. Daran continues:
“And of course there is the legend that a great green dragon sleeps in Kryptgarden Forest, making it a perilous place for those that are not thoroughly prepared.”
He seems as though he would continue, but Dak brings him back to the point. Yes, crazy old Reidoth did send through a strange message, and Daran has worked out a bearing from it.
It ties in with the search, just recently, for the Manticore’s lair.
Garth jolts upright, shock and horror stiffening his spine!
Daran bursts into laughter: It has been quite the incident! Some young would-be adventurers heard the yarns and set out to find it, and ran back with their tails between their legs. He is cheered by that one piece of silliness, in which no-one died.
Advising them to speak to young Ander at Barthen’s about that lair, he bids them prepare well as he explains how to take a bearing off Potter’s Hill and then due east. Cryovain’s lair lies below Icespire Peak, in a lost fortress, ice-bound. They will all need good climbing gear and cold weather clothing.
The rain has eased off now. Retracing their steps back up inside the old wall, the Silvers see that Barthen’s Provisions is open now. Let’s strike while the iron is hot! There’s a busy few minutes as Garth (who has attuned the Wide Earth Belt) is loaded up like a pack mule then carries all of the party’s non-monetary loot to Barthen’s.
Barthen looks at the assorted weaponry dubiously:
“I’ll give you half value, and relay on the Council to repay me in good faith,” he offers. Garth grits his teeth and agrees… but it’s a strain.
Loot: 45 gold coin. If Linene buys the pile off Barthen later, he will pass on any profit.
Meanwhile Dak approaches Ander:
“I understand you had a crack at the Manticore’s nest, and had some bad luck?”
Ander is over the worst of his experience now and ruefully describes running for their lives from ghouls. They abandoned all of their precious adventuring gear. Dak claps him on the shoulder:
“These things happen! Adventuring is part luck part persevering. Don’t give up!”
With good directions from Potter’s Hill, they are ready to equip up. Barthen gives them free rein:
“Anything you need! Cryovain will end this town if nothing is done!”
Each character adds a separate pack for climbing gear and rope. This permits them each to drop it as they get into action. They are already wearing cold weather clothing so the rest is just a matter of waterproofing boots and gathering extra light sources, pitons, hammers, mallets, tinder and so forth.
Part Two: the Manticore’s Nest
A march into nightfall
The Silvers march into an increasingly fine day, up to Potter’s Hill summit. There are three kilns of various sizes, clay digs, and piles of discard rubble. Dak peers east and compares notes with Rich.
I ask for a separate Nature and Survival check. Between the two of them, DC10+.
The pair of elves – one extremely tall and powerful, one slight but with archer’s shoulders – agree that using game trails along hill shoulders will avoid the worst of washes and marshes that the rain will have made treacherous.
“It looks like a day’s march if we do that though, it will be up and down going?”
“I’m fine with that,” Garth pronounces, “much better than sloshing up to my knees.”
Vern pouts. “I’m not so sure: so don’t forget the kid was chased by ghouls. Do we really want to be there just in time for ghouls?”
Rich sighs. “Vern you used to moan about being the only non-sighted one at night. Now you have the goggles, you’re moaning again?”
“Well, if everyone else is fine with night, I’ll go along with it,” Vern says good-naturedly.
Aside from signs of regular wildlife, and herd-beasts that are feral enough not to have been driven south, there’s nothing to report about the foothills they tread. By nightfall, Dak is pacing cautiously past the remains of a stone fort, towards what seems to be a hilltop pool. The others follow confidently.
Now that he is Whisper’s master, Dak’s night eyes have only grown keener: he sees a humanoid figure lurching up to its feet within the ruin: a ghoul!
Inits: stirges, Garth, ghouls, Rich, Vern/Dak, grick
Warning his fellows Dak sends a shaft into the stocky undead. Stocky? Yes, another dwarf-ghoul. Its partner in flesh-eating hastens out with it as it lopes towards Dak, who continues on to cover.
Garth advances to draw the aggro and neither ghoul can make headway against his solid defense. Rich and Vern meanwhile become aware that a cloud of disgusting stirges has risen from the northern walls of the ruin and is about to attack! Vern expertly sears two with Firebolt – which makes him the target for six of the creatures! Three sink their probosci in!
“Get them off! Get them offfff!!” – Vern
Garth and Dak finish the last ghoul and hurry back. Rich whicks Alagondar up, severing two of Vern’s molester. Vern’s blood pumps out of the buried snouts. Garth shortens his grip on Ungart Hammer and smushes the last one.
Wait, there’s one more coin!
So far, so disappointing. But Dak can hear a mysterious booming and rushing, as though from a sea cave. But they are far inland!? His ears lead him to a rocky notch by the pool. It’s the entrance to a wide tunnel!
Meanwhile Garth finds the long-dreamed-of Manticore nest! It has levied many a coin, and they are strewn thick among the detritus a Manticore must leave. Garth behinds digging and sorting!
Vern takes a Short Rest while they all wait for Garth, and rolls four HD, restoring to 4 below full health.
“Just because you are stashing all the coin doesn’t mean it’s yours,” Rich reminds Garth.
“I know, I know, it’s for all of us! Hey, these are my coins, I recognize the smell! And look, there are more… I’m so happy right now!”
At that moment something taps his armor from behind. It’s a tricky Grick, but its snare attack has failed. Garth pounds it with Ungart Hammer.
Loot: 1200 gold coin worth of coin, weighing 74 pounds
All Silvers regain Inspiration for putting a capstone to the Manticore’s story
Part Three: Into Wave Echo Cavern
Having tidied the fallen packs and gotten ready for battle once more, the Silvers study the entrance for tracks. Many booted feet. Here and there ghoul tracks are visible.
“You’re leading, big guy,” Dak decides, dropping back to rearguard.
Garth follows close on Rich’s heels. The passage winds down, but is dry. Only occasional rain seems to have washed in. The pool must overflow downhill. Then the passage broadens abruptly, into a large cavern, a broad natural rock pillar supporting the left side. Beyond, the floor seems to have collapsed to create a sinkhole.
As they step in cautiously, a ghoul rises from munching something dead and meaty, and rushes to attack. Alagondar makes a couple of good gashes in the thing, then Ungart Hammer batters it to quietus.
The thing the ghoul has been snacking on is dwarf-size, And nearby, a fully-chewed dwarf skeleton. Rich stoops to examine the remains. The others look around the cavern:
- Off left, barrels and crates and tools suggest that multiple journeys have created a delving base.
- Pitons at the sinkhole edge show that the exploration proceeded down.
- A rope down from the pitons has been cut, about an arm’s length down.
- Two possible tunnels away from the sinkhole’s bottom seem indicated
“I think these are two of the Rockseekers,” Rich pronounces. “And look – at least one of them has been tied up to the pillar here and tortured.”
“Do we know by what?”
“No, and the cavern is too bare to leave much in the way of boot prints. What do you think? Should we push on, or do we not care?”
“You know,” Garth growls, tugging his beard, “that surging wave sound does remind me of the legend Sildar was on about, Wave Echo cavern. He seemed to think it was important.”
“Oh well, let’s push on then… packs off, travel light I suppose.”
XP: lvl7-80, the DM is sad that he has not planted the Wave Echo seed properly
Yes, sure enough, a passage leads north-west, and another east. Dak can see a skeleton lying east. More than one. Several.
Pushing that way – “but if they all leap up it’s your fault!” – Garth crunches across an ancient battle cavern. Gnomes, Orcs, and a Dwarf seem to have fallen locked in battle, scraps of equipment suggesting the Orcs were a war party and the Gnomes were not.
“There’s a door north,” Garth reports, and his voice triggers a swarm of stirges from above! But they have very little success against steel-sided Garth, and when Alagondar sweeps around, the battle as as good as won.
“There’s a weird atmosphere here,” Vern says uneasily. “Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.”
“That’s not fear,” Rich assures him, “I feel it too.”
A lucky find!
The cavern walls are incised with bas-relief showing gnomes at work and dwarves cooperating with them. Garth shrugs. More prosaically the walls are also notched with several recesses for lamps. Of course the lamps have been here for an age, so any lamp oil is just a solid cake now. But Garth spends a few minutes searching… and is rewarded when one lamp rattles! It’s a nice thick ring.
“I’m going to need time and space to do a ritual,” Vern warns him before Garth can so much as wonder what it does.
Loot: Draconic Speech ring. While concentrating, the wearer can speak and understand Draconic. It does not permit reading Draconic script.
The suspiciously clean door
Having tucked the prize away, Garth strides north up the broad passage. The door, at the end of a stub corridor, is really clean. And so is the passage. Even the traceries in the door are dust free, as though someone has really cared for it.
Dak checks the door for traps. Shrugs: seems OK.
Rich steps past them and with a lusty kick, drives the door open, but the three ghouls inside have already heard them and all leap at Rich!
Luckily for the High Elf, his shield and armor are excellent and no claw manages to scratch him. The battle is soon over, though Vern is a minor casualty: he firebolts himself, and his hands are burned slapping out the flame.
It’s a bunk room, now merely sporting stone slabs where pallets would have been, and a few decayed personal lockers, which have nothing in them save for the odd insect colony. A side door leads left.
“This looks like a place where we can piton doors and have a proper rest,” Vern suggests. “We did an all-day march and I’ve been blood-sucked and burned, so maybe this is a good time to take one?”
And as the others agree, the session ends.
Props: I used the ruins from Pathfinder’s flip mats ‘Ramlock’s Tower’ for the Manticore’s lair area.