After passing the remainder of the night in peace, the party considered their next action. Because of his serious wounds, and the taunts of the wolves with human voices, Iban feared that he might be afflicted with Lycanthropy. The party thus decided a powerful priest was needed to cure the warrior, likely one more powerful than simple Morsby could produce; further, time was of the essence lest Iban be afflicted permanently. Thus, the party decided to split, with half taking the four available horses and riding headlong for Manston, the largest human settlement of the region (and nearer than the city of Wellington). There was some thought to trying the Dwarf kingdom of Khwarizm, but in the end it was unclear if they could, or even would, help. Thus, Iban, Aldeberon, Rowan and Havok rode off to the east along the Dwarf Road, while the others returned on foot to Morsby to wait,
The mounted group reached Manston after two hard days riding (their horses were quite spent). Immediately, they entered the great wooden town, almost a city in its own right, and went in search of the temples of the more powerful gods. They quickly found a great temple of Maladominus. The priests were sympathetic, but imposed a stiff fee for any healing cast by the senior cleric (1200 silver). Somewhat chagrined, the party next tried a temple of Larana (goddess of the healing hand) and found her clerics much more accommodating (at only 800 silver). Iban immediately paid the fee and the chief priestess cured Iban. The healers were quite friendly, one chatting with Rowan a good deal. The Paladin also managed to locate and pay his respects at the local temple of Grimbold the Great, the patron god of his order.
The party now opted to rest in town for a few days, both to recover their horses and in hopes they might find a magic-user willing to join them. They began going from tavern to tavern, and through the market, seeing if anyone knew of one that might fit the bill. After the better part of a day of this, without much luck, they ran into Nali the Dwarf. Their erstwhile patron and employer told them he’d heard that others were in town doing the same as him – looking for a wizard for hire. In fact, the party and the dwarf were working against one another, as the Dwarf told them he was diligently trying to meet their needs as he’d promised. In fact, he had a prospect, and promised to send him to see the party for an interview.
Next day, the party was introduced to Rhialto the Marvellous, a youngish wizard who said he was willing to leave town to join in an adventure or two. The party grilled him on his magical abilities, which he answered both reluctantly and with some evasion, apparently. He was willing however, to join for an equal share of plunder, provided he was given a 250 silver signing bonus. The party immediately balked at this, and the mage was sent packing. He seemed rather put out, and he departed abruptly. Later, Nali appeared in some dismay, having learned of the party’s rejection. He’d spent days, he told them, trying to find a good candidate – in fact, he’d have happily paid the 250 silver if that was such an issue. However, now Rhialto was offended and wanted nothing to do with the party. Exasperated, the Dwarf said he would try again to find someone, anyone, willing to join the party as their wizard.
Next day, the four adventurers departed Manston, riding back down the Dwarf Road to Morsby. After a few days travel, they were once again reunited with the rest of the party. Parker reported that she’d spent her time talking with locals, and had heard some rumors about the Elf King seeking to conquer the region, something about Hober Mallow (a rich, local merchant) being an agent of the Dwarf King, and a general fear that the Trader’s Guild was taking over the town. The party spent that night at the inn and departed the next morning for the dungeon, after giving the innkeeper some money to hold for any wizard sent along by Nali to join them, enough to put him up for a few days until they returned.
The party traveled on foot without incident to the dungeon, spending a single night camped north fo the low ridge they’d crossed several times already. They found the surface portion of the keep somewhat disturbed, with new boot prints and the like all over, but no sign of any current inhabitants. Cautiously, they descended into the dungeon and made their way towards the stairs to the level below. En route, they were attacked by a trio of Carrion Crawlers. The slimy tentacles of the things managed to strike and paralyze Adoward and then Iban, but they were soon slain. A little further, and the party ran into a large party of Hobgoblins. The party rushed into battle with them, slaying many of them (and a few hits by Rowan’s arrows on Adoward) until they broke and fled. The party stopped to plunder the fallen before pursuing, and thus the Hobgoblins escaped them — except for a few that hit a pit trap and fell to their deaths.
After all this, the party made it down to the second level, where they began to explore to the south. In one room, they found some Dwarf runes, recently carved that said “Thrir — they follow me. South – DZ” though none knew what this really meant. They continued on and soon ran into a lair of Bugbears. A fight ensued for a short time, but as the party began to fell the Bugbears, a larger one came forth and called for a parley. The party accepted, and the Bugbear said it saw no reason for the two groups to kill one another (no party member had fallen,as they pointed out). This made an impression, and the party soon had extracted a small ransom from the monsters (250 silver, 20 gold, and two gold necklaces from off the chief’s neck). In return, the party told the Bugbears to watch for Dwarves (they knew one was around somewhere, though they did not know where). The Bugbears were also happy to tell them a little of what they knew: to the southwest lay numerous undead, shadows and incorporeal men of great evil. Others, less dangerous, were to the southeast. Beyond those resided many small toad men – their leader was said to dwell on the level above, which seemed to the party to mean their agreement with the bird-wizard they’d met was not applicable ot this area.
With that, the party considered their next acts…
– Experience: carried over to next time.
You may be gaining a wizard PC…