Dungeon Delvers

Book 1: The Call of the Mountain King
Prologue

Book One: Call of the Mountain King

The bards sing the sorrows of Eisengard, overrun by the Warlock of Morgath and his Black Beast. Armies of orcs, goblins, and other fell creatures burst forth from the Dark Roads below, spreading a shadow across the Middle Marches that lasted for over a century.

Through might and daring and great cost, the King Under the Mountain was restored and the land reclaimed. Depsite the return of law and light, there remains the taint of darkness. Maurading bands still roam the wilds, paths to the Underdark still lie undiscovered and unsealed, and evil cultists undermine the great cities of the Marches.

It is a time of upheaval and change, of fear and hope, and even opportunity. Caves of plundered loot to be recovered, villages needing defenders, and intrepid explorers to restore what has been lost.

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Chapter 1: Curse of the Kobold Caves
A band of adventurers come to the aid of besieged farmers

Many have answered the call to adventure and journeyed to Eisengard. However such endeavors require more than just noble intentions. Several such individuals found employement as caravan guards for Chester Q. Copperpot, gnomish enterprenuer.

While still several days from the trade town of Lakeshore, the night was interupted by a young woman being chased by kobold raiders. After driving off the kobolds, it was learned that Juliana Verdun had been urged to flee from her farm by her father, Hugo, while he attempted to drive back the larger band of raiders.

Rushing to the farm despite the cover of night, the party found a handfull of kobolds laying in wait. Once vanquishing them, the party further pursued the tracks to a series of caves soem hours away.

The cave they found turned out to be a series of traps and hazards, a ruse set up by the kobolds. After retreating back to camp to regroup and recover from an agressively slithering slime, the party ventured once more during the early dusk to the caves, finding an entrance that had been concealed.

After a pitched battle though the tunnels and vanquishing the kobold chieften, the party cautiously searched for signs of the missing farmer. Locked up in primitive cells they found Hugo as well as two monsters, a merchant and his guard.

Not seeking further engagement with the kobolds, the party once again returned to camp and resumed their trek. Not even a day further down the road they found the recent remains of another ambush, the guards showing signs of a far stronger attacker than mere kobolds. Simple funerary pyres were performed in the manner of the Archaens and the caravan hurried onwards to the city of Lakeshore.

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Chapter 2: A Long Stay in Lakeshore
Where in a band of adventurers is left to their own devices within the walled city of Lakeshore

An old friend and classmate is encountered, a fight breaks out, and it isn’t the fault of the party.

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Chapter 3: The Barbarus Contract

Our Heroes are hired to retrieve a lost item but find themselves in a gang war.

While out and about, Peleus encounters Arlo Barbarus, the merchant they had picked up on the road to Lakeshore. Appealing to Peleus’s as a fellow Archaen and the opportunity for earning over a hundred gold in exchange for the simple task of retrieving a singluar item. The item in question had been en route to a client in Archea when it had been intercepted on the road. According to Arlo’s sources, the item had come into the possession of the disreputable Blackhammer family.

Using brawn and charisma, the Heroes attempt to track down the Blackhammers, apparently a criminal cartel. Using a surprising amount of restraint, a lead is found through a concealed entrance to the tunnels beneath the streets. What they found was death.

From room to room, bodies slain by repeated stabbings lay strewn. Among the bodies a calling card was found, a silver coin bearing the sign of a wolf. The identity of the attackers was revealed when a sole survivors was found, narrowly clinging to life and a crossbow. According to Ulrich Blackhammer, the Lycanos has infiltrated this hideout and killed all they found. Once healed, Ulrich led the party back to the surface through a hidden door through the back of a less than reputable waterfront bar, The Cecil.

No closer to finding the stolen goods, the party turns to exploring other options in the morning.

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Chapter 4: The Circle Broken

Our Heroes seek to restore a blight stricken Circle of the Old Faith

Taking up the quest from the old crone outside Lakeshore, Our Heroes investigate the Stone Circle of the Old Faith, only to find that it has fallen to the forces of the Dark Fey, tainting it’s guardian and spawning blighted plant minions.
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Defeating the Blight Guardian, the party brought back it’s nose (as per the old crones request) from which was fashioned to track down the source of the corruption.

However Our Heroes had other problems in Lakeshore as the repercussions of the previous night’s activities were starting to spill over into the streets and back alleys.

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Chapter 5: A Clash of Gangs
The heroes attempt to infiltrate the Lycanon Bravos

Summary
Our heroes live up to the rumour that they have been hired by the Lycanon gang to wipe out the Blackhammer gang, thwarting a raid and adding to the bodycount of the already suffering Blackhammers

Details

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Chapter 6: The Hand of Agrik
The deadly hand behind the plot reveals itself

Synopsis:
Our heroes finally track down the mysterious stone and must defeat otherworldly abominations to gain it, only to find that they must defend it from the fanatical assassins of Agrik. Success is theirs but it comes with the loss of an ally. The stone deemed too dangerous in most mundane hands is instead turned over to an order of religious warriors.

Full Version:
For some it was a restful evening. For Peleus, it was a night in jail as repayment for an attempted good deed of informing the night watch of the latest conflageration between the Lycanon Bravos and the Blackhammer Gimen, an event he and his fellow adventurers were intimately familiar with.

Meanwhile an off duty Gregor Crabapple chatted with Jem, discussing his own aspirations of being a publically read writer while waiting for the return of Peleus to unofficially share insights into the mentality of Reeve Bloodaxe. Hilda privately updated Jem as to what had passed the nigth before and Jem bid Crabapple farewell. Peleus managed to avoid the constable and sought out a lengthy bath (keeping his sword at his side for such was the way of Ancient Arkeans). With some spurring on from Fletcher, the party decided that they would at least investigate their latest lead before setting off to settle the far less tangled quest of restoring the Stone Circle.

The investigation not only led Jem and a transmorgified Hilda up and down the docksides (and into an interesting confession of an opressed worker seeking the fair pay for fair work garunteed by a guild), but to the party involving Deitrich of Baeduex, aspiring paladin of Kalael. Leaving many details vague, they attempted to get the opinion of the upholder of good but found his answer to most deliemas was a rightous smiting. Proming to contact him again, the party once again sought the aid of Fletcher of Remul. Reluctantly Fletcher did accompany them to the cryptic pier 14, a site marked by a concealed set of scratches resembling sideways ancient Arkaen numerals.

Sending Fletcher forth to search for traps and other hidden obstacles, they eventually managed to infiltrate the lakeside warehouse without arousing the suscisions of the goons at the shipping door. Searching through the darkness, they stumbled upon a pool of blood, triggering the arrival of eight mishapen beings. Appearing to be molded of smoke and fire by a hand unfamiliar with the human form, they moved stiffly but with purpose as they attacked the intruders. The party rallied but Hilda’s efforts to reduce the numeric advantage of their foe also alerted all nearby with a thunderous clap. While the party acted quickly to dispatch the malformed spirits, Fletcher leapt to secure the shipping doors before the goon squad added themselves to the mix. Meanwhile HIlda had inadvertantly discovered the final resting place of severeal Lycanons, consumed by the gibbering abomination dwelling in the concealed basement below.

Though they looked of smoke and fire, they fell like soft clay before the efforts of the party. When at last the spirits had been vanquished, they returned their attention to the pounding at the shipping doors. By the time the doors had been unjammed, there were no goons to be seen. All was clear but for a small spray of blood all but missed during a quick scan of the area. Fearing the worst, Fletcher demanded the doors be closed and sealed. While the party turned their attentions to the thing below, Fletcher ran to secure the damaged front door.

By spell and endurance, Serena and Hilda attempted to resist the maddening whispers and bileious spit of the writhing mound of flesh and teeth below, eventually besting it with a final blow struck by Peleus.

Searching through the foul smelling chamber below, the sought after stone and the lead case were found. With utmost care the stone was returned to its case and the shattered lock closed as best as they could manage. Returning up the ladder, they were greeted by two men and a woman in simple traveler’s clothes.

“Hand over the Trapezohedron and you may still live to embrace the glory of our lord and master Agrik. Resist and you shall face his wrath today,” spoke one of them. Peleus replied with his ashen spear. The speaker deftly knocked it from the air and grinned in response.

“Excellent,” he hissed. “It shall be my honor to deliver you into his pit.” And with that the three moved deftly to surround the party, despite Hilda’s attempt to entangle them in place.

With but their bare hands they humbled the party, but could not manage to wrest the stone from their possession. Suffering their own share of wounds and losing one of their own, the remaining two fled with the aid of an unnatural cloud of darkness. As he fled, he called to them, “His shadow shall spread across this land and be my shelter. The day is yours but the war is yet to come.”

As the party attempted to pursue, they found Gartok attempting to force a healing berry down the throat of Fletcher. The elf bore a singular stab through his chest and had long died, ambushed by the Agrikan fanatics, presumably while he was either attempting to flee or to bar the door.

Fearing that soon the lawful authorities would arrive and hold the party responsible for the multiple dead bodies, Fletcher’s body was concealed in a pickle barrel and only a handful of loot gathered from the secert basement. Speeding through the night, they turned over the stone in its case over to Dietrich and urged him to see to it that it was looked after.

Finally seeking rest, the party returned to the Tin Tankard and examined the pickle barrel and the dead elf. Upon the elf they found some minor items, but most notably were the slave marks he had kept hidden as well as those that marked him as now free, and a single silver locket with the image of two elves inside – a female and a youth. More surprising was the twenty one uncut gemstones found concealed in the false bottem of the barrel.

The night was over but the consequences still remained to be dealth with in the cold light of day.

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Chapter 7: Lair of the Blight Witch

Summary

Our Heroes journey into the blighted wilderness to confront the Unseelie Black Annie and recover the Heart of the Woods.

Details

Stormfury 14 – 15th, in the 1523rd year since Founding

Peleus attempted to collect some form of payment for the the efforts of the party, first from Barbarus and again from the Lycanon front at Ludo’s but was left still wanting.

Even more concerning was Deitrich of Baeduex having left at first light to the chapter house across the lake. With hours of a head start there was little that could be done at this time.

With the nose compass in hand, Hilda led the party past the old hag of the woods (who appeared to still have no recall of the previous encounter). To the relief of all, the nose compass still pointed further afield.

The oppressive silence of the forest grew deeper still as the party pressed further on, but the alternative proved far worse. The forest itself rose up in wrathful assualt as blight warriors and minions besieged the party. The evening passed uneventfully but the morning showed signs of observation as tiny foot prints were discovered near the camp site, met with gleeful expectations of brownies and wee folk.

Shortly thereafter there was heard the plaintiff calls for help. The source proved to be an alchemist’s apprentice (Maurice), tied down slightly removed from the rough path. As they tried to cut Maurice loose, the trap was sprung and the wild cries of the mysterious bluish-purple boggarts (unseelie brownies) armed with tained spears of despair. Being only three apples tall, the threat to the ankles was minor at worst, but the viscous clouds of clawing and biting spriggans (unseelie sprites) quickly ripped through Gartok before Serena and Hilda’s arcane arts bug zapped them into fried heaps.

With a terrified Maurice in tow, the party plunged deep into an enormous briar patch emenating dread and despair. In the dark heart of the briar patch they emerged into a clearing. There they found a shadow version of the stoen circle, bone like stones froming henges and at the centre a black fir of enourmous size (and signs of precious skeletonized victims caught within its bark), reaching the canopy above. At the far end of the circle emerged Black Annie, the blight witch herself, flanked by two enormous hounds of living wood. She spoke briefly, bragging of her accomplishments and taunting the intruders before the battle was joined.

The hounds were dispatched quickly but the witch fled into the black fir and proceeded to bash at the attackers as they hacked at the trunk. Having woken the tree, Black Annie again emerged from one of the henges to snipe at the heroes. As they struggled through the overgrowth, Annie phased across the circle, fleeing attacks and peppering the hated druid with a necrotic evil eye. The tree then finally toppled, but not before Gartok and Serena had fallen themselves. With relentless determination, Peleus continued to launch spear and sword after the blight witch, achieving the killing blow and being showered with hideous viscera of Blind Annie’s spontaneous explosion.

The foul fir toppled, the sought after Heart of the Forest was revealed. In addition to recoving the Heart, they also discovered the apprentice Hannah and a pile of goods from previous adventurers. Most of the pile was long past worth, but many unique items were found and bagged. Returning to the broken circle, they turned the Heart over the hag. As she touched the heart, clarity returned to her eyes and her posture straightened. With deliberate purpose she approached the broken circle. The malevolent spirits knealt before her as she returned the Heart to the withered stump. Within moments a slender sapling sprung forth. Likewise the hag’s features began to smooth and her features sharpenend. She announced herself as the true guardian of the Circle, long waiting for heroes to restore her and the Circle. In gratitude she awarded Hilda the reward of a Bowl of Goodberries.

To the party’s fortune, when asked about an elven funeral, the Guardian of the Stone Circle replied that it was part of her duties to the elder folk to act as a Speaker to the Dead. After a long hike to retrieve Fletcher’s body, the Guardian thanked the party again and took the body away.

A quest complete, the party returned to the Tin Tankard for a long desereved rest.

Maurice’s Tale: Apprenticed to Alchemist Gustave along with Hannah and Geofrey, the three of them sent deep into the woods in search of rare flora before stumbling upon the mushroom village of the boggarts. Awakening to being tied down and fattened, Maurice had all but given up hope when he was discovered by the party. Though terrified during the experience of confronting Black Annie, his acquisition of

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Chapter 8: The High Road

Summary
Once more Our Heroes or on the road, potentially finding new allies within the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice and new enemies as they are ambushed by goblin worg riders. Tracking the riders back to their lair, they suspect that there might be more behind these attackers.

Details
Time Frame: Deepstorm, more specifically beginning on Kingday, the 16th Day of Stormfury

Characters
Myrtle penetient knight and cleric to Themes
Bella, Corwin, Fritz (penetient knights)
Ariel (Elf scout)
Jack Montrey (Teamster)
Morin, Ox, Hymni, Deever (disgruntled dwarf hired guards)
Knight Captain Stefan (former Champion)
Knight Sergeant Alaric (right hand to the Knight Captain)
Wandering Knight Kevin ‘Mac’ MacArghul (Skald)

16 Storms: Leave Lakeshore but within hours caught in seasonal downpour
17 Storms: Arrive at Vordergrund Castle (currently serving as a chapterhouse to the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice but mostly jsut referred to as Storm Chapterhouse)
18 Storms: Resume journey, dwarf guards have been replaced by poor knights of the order
21 Storms: Evening is shattered by a goblin ambush. Though routed, the goblins have inflicted enough harm to delay the journey by at least another day
22 Storms: The heroes leave their caravan to the protection of the poor knights while they further pursue the trail of the goblins and worgs to their foul lair.

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Chapter 9: Fury of the Worg Riders

From the 22nd to the 24th of Stormsfury, Kingdom of Eisengard

Synopsis
The heroes confront the remains of the Firefangs, and drive off what flees too fast to kill. Among the looted goods they discover a map detailing other possible location of evil’s footholds in Eisengard. The victory is short lived for within two days the Firefangs return with reinforcements and the worgs riders are closing fast.

Detailed
Chapter 9:
Wherein our Heroes press on, killing their enemies, driving them from their mountain lair, and hearing the parting threats of the hobgoblins.
Delivering a mighty blow with not only the slaughter of all but a handful of goblins but the death of Rictus, Cultist of Agrik, they come across a map showing that this is far more an organized assualt than earlier suspected.

Following back the trail, they gain further signs of something abominable dwelling in the region, finding a gutted black bear near the path. After some discussion, it is agreed upon that it is a matter for another time and that they needed to return to a defensible posistion before the goblins made good on their promise to return and in greater numbers.

Returning to the caravan, they managed two more days of cautious travel before they were visited by the results of the Firefang massacre. With a sudden burst of birds from the underbrush, in the far distance a horde of worg riders came approaching at speed. Driving them with fury, the clamour of drums and horns and the might of their warlord upon his chariot. Sign of dwarf markers suggest that help should be near, but will be it near enough? To be continued …

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