The return of the Campaign!
The party, accompanied by the disgraced Dwarf Floi, returned from their successful raid against the river crossing used by the Giant King’s forces. While successful, the best it was likely to accomplish was to slow them somewhat, as there were many places and methods for the Giant King to move forces from the Highlands to the lands beyond. Upon reaching the Dwarf City of Kazakh, you noted a much stronger guard presence at the great gates, though you were admitted without hassle and escorted to the Citadel, and Nali, your patron, of sorts. After filling him in on the results of your raid, Nali informed you that the Lord of the City had received orders to avoid battle with the Giant King, unless the Dwarven Kingdom was threatened directly. The King’s reasoning was not given (at least not to you). Of greater interest, a message had been received during the party’s absence, demanding that they be turned over to Giant King as criminals. The Lord of the City had declined to comply, stating that the party were now considered refugees and were guests of the Kingdom. In any event, traveling north would remain be very dangerous for the party.
Given all this, Nali apologized for putting the party in such a position. As recompense, and for their services to date, he had procured the party a suite of rooms in the city for their use as long as they wish to stay (he also told you that he understood if you wished to depart, and that he would provide escort through the Dwarf Kingdom to the south, where they party could leave these lands entirely if they wished – the party declined). In any case, the party was tired and worn, and wished to rest a few days to determine their next course of action anyway. Nali seemed genuinely pleased that the party was not leaving right away. He further suggested that the party procure a few servants to make their stay more comfortable – he would see that some likely candidates were sent to them (he suggested three would be good, a butler or majordomo, a cook, and a runner). The rooms could be found at 185 East Avenue of the Weavers, First Deep, just south of the Street of Feasting. He then bid you good morning and detailed a Dwarf soldier to show you the way. Nordak, however, made it quite clear he had no particular interest in remaining underground, and would rather return to aid the Druid Annan. He departed with another Dwarf soldier to be escorted to the main gates.
The party were shown to their suite of rooms in the city, and they proved to be fairly comfortable, though a little Dwarvish for their tastes (low ceilings, heavy stone furniture, etc). After getting settled for a short time, there was a knock at the door — their candidates for servants had arrived. There was a fair amount of questioning and none of the “candidates” seemed quite perfect, but two were eventually hired (I don’t have their names in front of me, however one was a butler and one a cook). After paying them for a month, and providing some money to buy supplies, the party made their way to a nearby tavern, the Stonespear Ale House, just around the corner. Despite being in the heart of the Dwarf city, they were somewhat less of a novelty than they might have expected, and there were even non-dwarves in the alehouse. The alehouse proved to be cozy enough, so much so that Cadwalider and Iban soon began to carouse. As things spiraled out of control, there was an altercation, the city guard arrived, and Iban soon found himself locked up (he would later pay his own fines and be released). During this time, a local dwarf named Zhuld-zir Gemforger introduced himself to the party and offered his services as a guide while they were in the city. When asked, he did say he would travel with them elsewhere, though he preferred to remain underground where possible. Also, the party met a human cleric, a lone traveler in search of adventure named Wulfrid who also joined the party. A halfing thief, named ??? also joined them, making the party as large as it had ever been.
As the raucousness died down hours later, the party was approached by a local Dwarf, Orrin, who made friendly overtures. He eventually revealed he had a business proposition for the party. He had recently discovered a tunnel complex near the city that he wished explored and cleared of any dangers. However, his small party had been driven out by animated statues that proved nearly impervious to normal weapons. Further, he admitted to some “legal ambiguities” as to ownership of the place, though he insisted is was very old and clearly abandoned. As foreigners and non-dwarves, the party would be excellent candidates for the job. As for pay, he offered 250 gold up front and 750 upon completion of the work. Rowan, however, complained that the complex might be huge, in which case that pay (while very generous) might not be adequate. The party and Orrin would eventually agreed on a codicil which stated that, if the complex exceeded a certain size or depth, the party would receive 15% of whatever value was placed on the additional space cleared. He would bring a contract around to their new home in 2 days times, along with the first payment. In the meantime, he repeatedly emphasized discretion. The party’s impression was that he was a tad sleazy, though probably not malicious.
With that, the party retired to their new domicile and rested for two days, utilizing the time to identify some previously discovered magic items, rest and recover from their recent adventures, and allow for the return of Iban the drunkard and petty criminal. On the second morning, Orrin came to their quarters with two copies of a rather extensive contract to be signed. After a brief discussion, the party all signed both copies and Orrin then had his servant hand over a small chest with 250 gold coins. He reminded them to be discrete and then told them that his servant would show them the way to the tunnel complex, as the party had decided to leave immediately.
They headed out of the city, led by Orrin’s servant Dwarf, who clearly had little love for the party. He led them through the Great Gates to the north and followed the usual road (the city guards noted their departure but said nothing). After a mile or so of traveling the main road north, their guide led the party off the road into the wilderness to the west. They went another two or three miles, passing through a thickly forested valley, one clearly seldom visited despite its proximity to the Dwarven city (Dwarves are not much for wilderness, of course!).
Finally, they came to a cliff face, perhaps 80′ above them, with a bare stone face and a small waterfall. This was the location, he told them. As he turned to leave, the party stopped and questioned him. First he showed them how to open the cliff face secret door. He admitted to having been with Orrin when the door was first opened — beyond was a 20′ stair, he said, followed by a wider hall — the whole place seemed very, very old and undisturbed, he said. Once inside in which “three or four” statues of Dwarves had come to life and attacked them. Their blades had been largely ineffective against them, except for his boss’s magic sword, so they’d fled. When asked about how they’d found such an obscure and well-hidden place, he seemed somewhat put-out, and claimed he had no idea.
At this point the Dwarf left rapidly, clearly uncomfortable with the party. The door was opened and the party found a low ceiling and stairs going up, leading to a hall as described. They observed what they could without entering, noting a recurring motif of an eye with a square or diamond-shaped pupil, looking downwards. These were lined up, as best they could tell, with a series of stylized Dwarf statues alternating with pillars upholding the ceiling. Thinking the eyes might be related to the animation of the statues, the party sent the Halfling thief to scout along one wall, being careful to keep below the “gaze” of the eyes. However, as he came even with the first statues, it animated and attacked, followed by three more of the same.
The Halfling fled at full speed back to the party, which now entered the wide hall so as to bring more weapons to bear. The statues proved to be quite tough, but were indeed susceptible to magical weapons and spells, mostly magic missiles from Cadwalider. The wizard also used a wand to conjure a horde of Kobolds and Manes, though these were little more than fodder to keep the statues busy (the monsters could not harm the statues and died rather easily under their powerful blows). Parker plied her bow with her usual skill, to great effect. Aldeberon seemed to be the one most attacked by the statues for some reason, though the tough fighter was able to withstand the pounding quite handily. During the battle, there was a bit of chaos, and Wulfrid, their new cleric, struck Iban rather badly in the confusion. But, one by one, the statues were eventually beaten, falling to dust as they were destroyed.
There were multiple side passages to east and west, as well as one to the north down which Cadwalider ordered his summoned monsters to go – they found a pit trap and fell into it in a great rush, lemming-like. Skirting it, the party came to a door that opened into a larger chamber dominated by a low dais atop which rested a great dragon statue, its eyes with square pupils and an open maw pointed directly at the party. The statue was quite stylized and not life-like, and the stone was of many colors, albeit subdued. A palpable sense of menace emanated from it. After a short time, Parker, Sir Rowan, and Havok began to feel extremely paranoid, to the point of becoming somewhat hampered in their ability to continue. Havok attempted to dispel magic on himself but it failed to have any effect. In addition to the open-mawed dragon, the walls were covered with more of the stone eyes, as well as a continuous line of text written in Dwarvish that encircled the room multiple times, with a very long and rambling quotation:
Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dimlit halls of other places (etc…)
The party debated their next course and decided to open the three doors leading to the different compass directions (with the new Halfling joining Parker as thief-scout, there was a nice division of labor). In the end, they chose west, first running into a Gray Ooze in the passageway which they quickly dispatched. Just past was an oddly angled corner room. Form the ceiling hung dozens of stone chains from stone hooks in the ceiling. Their purpose was unclear, and the party did not fancy exploring the room thoroughly and continued, turning south with the corridor.
They next came to a widening of the passage they were exploring. In the wider area were a pair of dwarf statues like they’d fought previously, but that did not animate. Between them was a very large carving of the diamond-pupil eye. A search revealed a secret door there but, before opening it, the party opted to check a door opposite it first. Inside, they found an octagonal room empty except for a floating 2′ diameter ball of some sort of smoky-grey stone, slowly rotating in mid air. Cadwalider used his wand to summon more Manes who then tried moving the sphere. They did so easily, stopping its rotation. however, the further it was moved from its initial spot, the heavier it seemed to grow. When released, it simply drifted back to where it was originally, and began to rotate once more. About this time, someone (forget who) wandered back the way they’d come from, only to run into a pack of Large Spiders, which proceeded to follow as he fled back amongst the party. Fortunately they were quickly slain without anyone being poisoned.
The party now moved south, following the same corridor. Parker sensed a secret door at one point, but the party decided to check it later. Turning to a door to the west, the party came into a large, long empty room. Two doors led from it to the west and into a corridor and another brief fight with spiders. From this point, the party could see three short corridors going west, each ending in a door, and a passage north…and then we broke for the night!
– Experience: carried over