The Darkwinter Company are reunited… all except Gavaris, who is late. They all catch up with what everyone has been doing the last two years. “Two years?” Ask Xaven and Gotha, “Why, we only left you three weeks ago.” It seems time has different rules in the Feywild. Xaven’s usually exemplary memory is a bit fuzzy on his weeks spent there but he enthuses that “the Feywild is a magical place.” He shows sketches he made while there that help jog his mind a bit. As do the stories Gotha tells of how Xaven was the life of the party.
Neifion granted the answers to three questions asked by Xaven and Gotha. They first asked the wisest course of action concerning the Green Dragon that the druid wanted us to get rid of. “Wait until you are stronger,” was the reply. “What is the safest way to travel with the crown of Rockthwar?” “There is no safe way. And don’t ever wear it.” And finally, Xaven asks “How can I repair the rift in the Forge of Spells?” Neifion’s answer is a little vague, as is his wont, “You need the strength of a God and a blade as sharp as can be made.”
*Rod and Paul, please embellish!*
Sam has a tale of pirates!… *****Noelle, you’re up… write Sam’s story!******
It is the night before the party and Gavaris has not yet arrived.
Pavilions are set up all around Wave Echo Cave and there is a festive atmosphere in the air. Gundren Rockseeker is upset because the dwarven prince from Mirobar and his entourage are also late for the festivities… by two weeks! The party is tomorrow!
The heroes are in Gundren’s tent. He is drunk, drinking hard liquor from a bottle. Not only is he upset about the prince but he also says, “My clients think I can create magic weapons. If you can’t fix it I’ll be exposed as a fraud!” The heroes try to cajole him and he perks up a bit at the idea of giving them a sneak preview of the mines, “They’ll be a might different that last you saw them, I’d wager!”
Just then they hear a horse galloping toward the tent. Someone jumps off the horse and they hear a familiar voice, “I am Gavaris Autumnleaf, chosen of Mielikki, and member of the Darkwinter Company. Let me in now, as I must speak to my friends immediately!”
He is breathing rapidly, and he appears as if he has just been in a fight, if not a war. You see scars on his face and arms. You see that he is a little leaner than when he left with Gotha and Xaven. You see that his armour is riddled with notches, scratches, and dents. There is also an even steelier, more determined look in his eyes, if such is possible
"Greetings, Rockseekers," he says, nodding to Gundren and Nundro. Then he looks at the assembled members of the Darkwinter Company and says . . . .
“Friends, please accept my sincerest apologies for intruding upon your dinner like this, and for arriving this late before tomorrow’s festivities.
“I would have come sooner, but . . . obligations have kept me in the High Forest. In truth, I did not want to come at all, but I was commanded to do so by the Lady of the Wood. She believes that I must represent the Or-tel-quessir at this significant occasion, and so I have ridden these past several days from the High Forest to be here.
“Yet I fear that I cannot stay for long beyond tomorrow’s ceremonies. I must return to the High Forest as soon as possible.
“My people need me. We are at war with the orcs. Not just any orcs, but the tribe of Zarakh Blooddrinker.
“It was he who led the slaughter of my village and the community of those dedicated to Mielikki, of which I was once an acolyte. It is him and all his tribe against whom I have sworn holy vengeance, charged by Mielikki herself to cleanse the world of their blight.
“Today, that vengeance is within my grasp.
“In the final battle in the mines, when we faced our deaths, Mielikki was there, even in that deep, desecrated place. She favours us. I believe it in my very soul.
“This is why I humbly ask you now to return with me to the High Forest. Come with me, and together we will mete out Mielikki’s vengeance upon Zarakh Blooddrinker and his tribe. We are destined for this, my friends. We will gain Mielikki’s eternal gratitude, and we will be forever honoured as saviours by the Or-tel-quessir.
“I know that I am asking you to risk your lives for a cause that is not your own. I would not ask if my people’s need was not great. I would not ask if I held any uncertainty about our success.
“If you agree, we must depart for the High Forest after the ceremonies.
“What say you, friends? Will you come with me?”
Niki, takes a bite from an apple and shrugs a shoulder, “Personal vengeance? I get it. I’m in.” Gorm nods and raises his mug, “Killing orcs? Sounds good!” and downs his ale. The others of the company nod their agreement… but the party first, right?
The Darkwinter Company join Gundren for their sneak peak of the mine. The road built going to the entrance is quite grand and someone stuffed the Beholder which is mounted above the entrance, staring down menacingly. They reach the Forge of Spells and everything is shiny and beautiful. Statuary has been reclaimed by the miners and there is fancy, comfortable furniture spartanly placed. But Gundren is forlorn again and with a cry of “It’s all a lie!” promptly passes out.
Oh boy… well, maybe, they surmise, if we save Gavaris’ people the Lady of the Wood will grant us a ’God’s strength’… then we just need the sharpest blade of all time. Gorm isn’t so worried about it. “Let’s not worry. We’re still getting the mirthril. It’s his issue about the magic.”
The next day, the festivities start with a procession along the road leading to the mine entrance. The Darkwinter Company are in their finest adventuring gear… all spiffy and shiny. Gavaris is distracted and fidgety… he just wants this to be over and be on the way back to High Forest. The others of the company enjoy the attention of the many folk who came from far and wide to get a glimpse of this new force who reclaimed the Forge of Spells, taking their time and shaking hands along the way.
There is a ribbon cutting ceremony where Gundren individually mentions each Company member and he also presents Gotha with a Belt of Dwarvenkind (DMG pg 155). The elite of the crowd then enter the mine for the party while the plebs have their fun outside. At the entrance to the mine, even the guests of honour are asked to leave their weapons behind. Although not incredibly happy about it they do so, Niki making a show of producing dagger after dagger after dagger from her finery.
During the party Gotha makes a big show in the telling of the taking of the mine, using Illusion and Prestidigitation to really sell it. This attracts some investors and some recruits. Niki also talks with Saewynn Saehild, a disaffected youth, daughter of one of the nobles. She’s interested in making a name for herself and joining the Company too. Niki also slips a little packet of white powder in the drink of one of the more insufferable nobles.
Approximately 10 pm the party is in full swing. Gavaris is being unsociable and hanging out near the entrance. Gorm and Sam are in the pub the dwarves set up… Gorm is drunk. Xaven and Gotha are at the Forge and Niki is in the dining room, waiting for her mark to show some signs of discomfort.
Near the entrance Gavaris hears a disturbance and sees signs of combat… a glimpse of humans with gargoyle masks, fighting with hands and bare feet. Dwarven guards are going down. He turns into the mine shouting, “Raiders!!!”
Niki hears Gavaris’ shout and looks disappointed at the ass of a noble while she collects six of the sharpest knives off the dining room table. She hears the noble shit his pants as dashes out of the room and smiles. Gotha dashes to make his way up to intercept and sends his new familiar Skorn to find Gundren to get the keys to the armoury.
Then, from the top of the gallery, a man wearing a gold gargoyle mask appears. He is covered in cuts and wounds and is holding a yellow orb. He leaps and lands, hard, on the bridge, yelling “This abomination ends now!” He then hurls the orb down into the temple. There is a massive burst of energy and the whole mine starts to shake.
[I thought he leapt out with the yellow orb and brought it down on the centre column of the mine, killing himself and setting off the quake – Rod]
Almost everyone falls down in the earthquake (except Gotha). Gavaris gets up and dashes towards the man on the bridge. Sam gets up and looking around for a weapon finds a pickaxe behind the bar. Gorm gets up, shakes his head to clear it, and smashes a chair to make a club. Xaven gets up and looks out to the bridge. He sends a Fire Chromatic Orb speeding towards the masked man and sets him of fire!
Gavaris moves up to the intruder and punches him in the face, knocking his unconscious and he falls off the bridge to his death. Sam casts Cat’s Grace on herself and joins the line of panicked people trying to get out. Gorm slaps himself in the face to sober up and moves. Gotha is on the move and Skorn is still looking for the keys. Niki starts making her way to the top and Xaven casts Mage Armour and starts his way out.
Debris is falling everywhere and deep fissure are opening all around. Xaven falls into one! The ground is still shaking and everyone keeps falling down.
In the end, the Darkwinter Company all get safely out and capture one of the monks. But there are many injured and some dead of the other guests. Two huge rock walls came down and the fire elemental is loose. The mine is not going to be producing any mithril until it is fixed, which won’t happen until that fire elemental is dealt with.
Gavaris wants to go and leave this mess to the dwarves. “Guys, you promised! After the ceremony, we’d go to High Forest!” But the rest of the Company are pissed at this attack on their mine and want to deal with that first. “This is personal! They wrecked our mine!”
Gotha talks with the captive, “That was a bold attack. Those people were chumps.” The monk says something about “The fruits of the earth belong to Ogramach.” Apparently Ogramach s from the Prime of Elemental (earth) Evil.
A meeting is called with the higher nobles, the Rockseekers and the Darkwinter Company. People are freaked… there has been increased banditry, the orcs in High Forest, unnatural weather (drought and storms), pirates, and now this Old God stuff going on!
There is a debate after which Gavaris reluctantly agrees to take care of the fire elemental first, “But then High Forest, right?” “Well, after that we’ll reassess our priorities.”
The Company enter the mine again and head for the flame to temporarily imbue their weapons with magic. Gorm wears the fire resistant welder’s gear. They find the elemental in a deep crevasse that is slowly filing with water.
Xaven realizes he can talk with it in Primordial, casts Spider Climb and heads down, leaving his compatriots a little bewildered.
“Friend? You are no friend to me, fleshpod.”
“I could be.”
“I don’t trust you. Your kind trapped me here for hundreds of years.”
“No us. We could help you leave if you help us get to the Plane of Fire. You are about to be immersed in a lake of water. I’d like to avoid that.”
“You are magnificent.”
“Yes, I am.”
Xaven books it back up to the top to get Gorm. As they return back down the fire elemental shouts “No dwarves!” but as the water starts to lap at its fiery feet, “Ok, Ok.” However, as soon as it reaches the top it takes off… The charred trail shows it is heading towards the Sumber Hills… and he might have said something about going to a door.
Well, that didn’t go exactly as planned but at least the Rockseekers can get back to restoring the mine… again.
So… the monk problem…
The party pretends to turn on Gotha as an elemental sympathizer and tie him to a pole beside the monk. “What’s your plan for getting out of here?” he asks the monk. “To die well.” “We need to warn your master. These guys won’t stop.”
Gotha uses Skorn to ‘break them out’… [the notes about this stop here and we are suddenly heading out with no monk…. not sure what happened.]
Heading into the Dessarin Valley…
The Company head first to Coneyberry and are attacked while camped at night by werejackals and although their lack of silvered weapons is a hinderance they manage to put them all down. Continuing on to Triboar they hear tales of missing scouts. In Westbridge they stay the night at the Harvest Inn and chat with the halfing innkeep, Heriven Dardregan. “Its terrible what happened to those kids… homesteaders just outside of town. Abducted by raiders!” She also confirms that the Prince of Mirobar’s party did stay here, about a month ago.
Travelling to Red Larch they see a group of about 6 birdmen fly overhead. When they get into Red Larch they find a likely tavern. Here they hear tales of the elves in High Forest. It is not going well… The orcs are overruning them. Many dead, lost homes and refugees. The innkeep also mentions the weirdness happening in the Sumber Hills… hot winds, fog that persist, lightning from ground to sky, and it’s getting worse… a fell magic.
There is a half-orc in the tavern who had been a caravan guard for the Prince but had quit the Mirobar delegation 15 days ago at Beliard because she hates dwarves… to Gorm “Get out of my face dwarf.” Gorm balls his hand into a fist but does not strike. Gavaris stands beside him while Niki, quite obviously, goes to stand behind the half-orc. Niki calmly informs her, “You owe my friend an apology.” “Fuck you.” A slight smile, “You OWE my friend an apology.” “Get out of my way!” The other patrons are getting nervous and starting to leave but before things get out of hand Gotha casts Sleep catching the half-orc and a few innocent bystanders, while Xaven uses Prestidigitation to make a fart noise, “Excuse me!”
Before the innkeep can complain Gotha says, “I just deferred a bar fight. We don’t want any trouble.” All is ok.
Chatting with a priest in the tavern they ask about Ogremach. The priest once skimmed a book that mentioned him… an ancient prince of elemental evil. “Do you have the book?” “No, it is a rare book. The one I read was at Candlekeep.”
With directions on how to get to Featherdale Spire the Company depart at 9 am. They see the spire rising high from quite a distance away. It is high on a limestone cliff and the wind is howling through the valley. They approach the closed drawbridge. “Ho there!” “Hey! What are you doing here?” “We want our hippogriffs!” “Are you the Darkwinter Company?” “Of course!”
The Company is let in and greeted by a woman who leads them up the spire. They pass a dining hall that is being set up, apparently by for a big party. When they reach the top they are introduced to man in a feather cape. “Ah! The Darkwinter Company! My best clients… 6 hippogriffs! Quite a handful.” They pay him the 6000gp owed and convince him to throw in some harnesses.
They meet their hippogriffs… Gotha and Niki gets girls (Rainbow and Foxglove respectively), while the other are boys (Gorm names his Pokey). Training starts right away but on mature mounts. “Learn your gear or you will die.” is the advice of the trainer.
After training, they are invited to attend their 10th anniversary party! Much is discussed at the party, including the plight of the High Forest elves and the weird weather and the abductions. The birdmen are archokra… savages, not hostile but not friendly. Just when the conversation turns to the monks a rider bursts in, screaming, “Manticore!”
The Darkwinter Company with a day of training under their belts take to the sky with the Featherdale Society. They don’t do so badly and the manticore is eventually taken down by a Web spell from Xaven. They return to the spire and Xaven collects his prize as the one who took down the manticore, a hippogriff ring.
The next day training is complete and the riders tell of a monastery nearby. The Darkwinter Company, on their young Hippogriffs, take off from the Spire in search of it. They soon see a dark column of thick smoke rising in the air. It’s coming from a farmstead. “Oh shit!” says Gavaris, “The Hemsfords!”
Circling in to land, Xaven does what he can to douse the flames with Rays of Frost. Sam rushes to an injured half-elf and heals him.
“Where’s my wife? Gods! They must have taken her!” A band of orcs sacked his farm and took his wife… he’s going after them!… And so are we!
It takes 15 minutes to catch up to a band for four orcs with several prisoners. The orcs are dispatched and the people saved. Some of them were on their way to the Delvin Ranch. “We hear it’s been fortified and is our only chance. There is a much larger force out here somewhere!”
Approaching the Dellmon Ranch from the air they see a small fortified ranch and a warband of orcs, maybe 40 approaching through the forest……..