1.8.1400 – A trip to Rogard
Adolan, Jimbo, Kira, Nuella and Vayera awoke on the morning of the eighth day of the year knowing they would face the arena at dawn. The arena, a massive magical creation, was set for the Battle of Holden Ridge. Standing in the middle of the arena, atop a raised platform, stood Gilead, bow at the ready. The area surrounding the platform had several small buildings forming a circle. Our heroes make wise use of these structures, limiting the amount of destruction that Gilead could rain down upon them with his bow. Only Vayera took significant damage, catching two arrows from Gilead before he could find sanctuary behind a building.
Adolan, in a moment of inspiration, pulled a lasso from his pack. A lucky throw entangled and tripped Gilead but he managed to cling to the top of the platform. He reached for his dagger at one point, but realized that he would be pulled from the platform if he let go even a little bit. Jimbo and Nuella joined Adolan and their tug-o-war against the prone Gilead and Kira advanced to take advantage of the fact the Gilead was now prone. The conclusion was nearly forgone at this point. It was only a matter of time before the heroes pulled Gilead from the platform, at which point Vayera raced to the platform and lit the signal fire, winning the Battle of Holden Ridge.
Klaus has shown up at the beginning of the battle and, seeing he had been out maneuvered, cursed them all and left the arena. After the battle, the heroes were treated to a feast of near epic proportions and got a much needed night of sleep.
The following morning Imbroglio approached them and told them that the council of Hero Guild was in a bit of a tizzy and suggested that they lay low for a few days until he could calm things down. He also mentioned he had the perfect distraction for them for a few days, a diplomatic mission to Rogard, the barbarian tribes of the north. It seems that communications, and even more importantly the supplies they trade, had been cut off in recent weeks and Imbroglio needed someone to check it out. The perfect excuse for our heroes to be absent from the guild for a few days.
The party traveled north along the road to Snake Head, a small city a days ride north of the guild. The following morning they made their way east along the road south of the Lupine Mountains. As they made camp for the night, they were attacked by nine more of the Ash Skeletons they faced that first night at the Ruins of Time.
The skeletons advanced on our heroes but it was soon discovered that while they delivered a hard blow, they were paper tigers when it came to taking damage. Vayera was knocked unconscious, but Kira’s aura soon had him awake and on his feet again. Almost as quickly as it had begun, the confrontation was over and the skeletons were defeated.
The rest of the night past without incident except for two things. The party discovered why the Lupine Mountains are named such: the baying of the wolves was nearly continuous throughout the night, and secondly, a soft voice could be heard singing. The party couldn’t determine the source but they would hear it again soon.
The following day the party left the established road which comes to a fairly abrupt halt at the eastern end of the Lupine Mountains and entered the less civilized regions of Rogard, controlled by the barbarians. It wasn’t long before it became obvious that they were being followed at a distance through the forest. As the day wore on, the pursuers drew nearer and nearer to the party. Near the end of the day, the party passed over a hilltop and into a clearing only to be greeted by a dozen or more kobolds armed with short bows; the barbarians of the Kota tribe.
Adolan spoke with the kobolds in Goblinesse. The kobolds, who have numerous goblin miners working their mines, spoke some Goblinesse and the party was able to have a limited conversation with them. They discover they are not far from the current location of the Kota tribal village and identify themselves as representatives of Hero Guild. After more negotiations, the kobold in charge sends a runner back to the village and eventually the party gains access to the village. Papau Kota, chief of the Kota tribe greets the party. Papau is a gargantuan among the kobolds, standing nearly five and a half feet tall. He is adorned in tradition barbarian style, in feathers and hides.
Papau relates to the party that communications and ore have ceased to flow south because the Spirit of the Glacier has apparently become angry with them and has killed many of their workers and driven even more insane. He also tells them that the village shaman went into the mines three days ago to find the source of the problem but has not returned. The party offers to investigate the cause but Papau Kota is not necessarily inclined to let them help. Jimbo, almost sarcastically, suggests a sacrifice be made to the Spirit and Papau Kota seems to like that idea very much. An “appropriate” sacrifice should be made immediately. Two points seem to make the party a bit nervous, the first being what an “appropriate” sacrifice might be and the second when Papau Kota indicates that they must all drink from the ceremonial brew before the sacrifice.
Jimbo, being the one who suggested the sacrifice, is selected to receive the honor of drinking first. The concoction, which seems to be a mix of fermented milk, soured entrails, and caustic herbs, knocks Jimbo unconscious after the first drink. Papau Kota tastes it and indicates that it is mixed too strongly, “for lesser folk” and orders Kuna Kota to execute the current brewmeister, which Kuna does seemly without regard. Papau then passes the bladder to Kira, and chastise her because, “we who share dragonblood should always be first” in challenges of this nature. Unfortunately, her dragonblood was not enough to prevent her from suffering the same fate as Jimbo, and she too ends up unconscious.
Next up, and down, is Vayera, suffering the same fate as Kira and Jimbo. Then Neulla, the actress that she is, feigns at taking a large gulp while in reality sipping only the smallest amount. Papau, who had already offered to, “let the little girl off the hook” seems to notice but lets it slide. And finally Adolan downs his portion and stands tall, if a bit lightheaded, for the sacrifice that is to be made.
Kuna Kota brings forth a giant red stag which Papau sacrifices over the fire, sprinkling its blood on our heroes and portioning it up so they can carry it to the glacier the next morning.
As the sun rises, so do our heroes and begin the trek inside the glacial caverns and mines. At the entrance, they notice a small smear of blood and in the distance they can hear the soft rhythmic singing of what sounds like a small girl. Making their way inside, they come across five goblin miners, three of which seem to be in the process of consuming the forth while the fifth appears to just be watching. When the goblins notice the intruders, they rush them and are dispatched fairly quickly. During the fight, Adolan bumps a wall and causes a slight icy cave in, but manages to leap out of the way before the rock and ice can tumble down upon him. Again the party discovers a small smear of blood and the singing voice is getting louder.
The party makes their way past a couple of cave ins and finally find the source of the singing. A small human child is sitting in the back of a cave playing with “marbles” and singing to herself. “One eye, One eye, it has seen you now you die. One eye, one eye, it has seen you now you die.” She was repeating it over and over. When the party could finally see her, the discovered that nearly half her head was missing from a point just above her right eye to a diagonal point just below where her left eye should have been. She was covered in grime and filth and the area stinks of rot and decay. When the party actually looks at the “marbles” she is playing with, they discover that they are actually eye balls. Vayera and Kira seem to react very strongly to this entire scene.
The party converses with the girl for a few moments, discovering that she is not “One Eye” but that he is just beyond a cave in and that he is the one who likes to kill things where she just likes to “play with toys” like her shiny new sword, which turns out to be the arm of a goblin. She decides to “play swords” with the party and attacks Adolan. A battle ensues and after she has taken some damage, she transforms into a tiny winged creature of some sort and escapes over a caved in area back toward the direction that she indicated One Eye was in. In the process the perfectly pristine pink dress she was wearing falls to the ground and the party retrieves it. The party clears the cave in and is immediately attacked by some foul creatures. Though they appear to be human from the waist up, where there should be legs, there is nothing but a pile of mangled flesh that moves, slug like, along the ground. These too are quickly dispatched and the party moves forward.
Jimbo, deciding to try to chase the little girl, runs head long into a trap and ends up with several chunks of ice and rock falling on his head. After the party regroups, they make their way down the only path left, rounding a corner to find the shaman and what appears to be a demon of some sort engaged in what appears to be psychic combat. The Shaman’s staff has been planted in the ice and forms a barrier of some sort that seems to keep the energy of their fight in the chamber. Jimbo rushes into the area past the staff and is hit with a bolt of purple lightning and is thrown fifteen feet back out of the area. Adolan and Kira begin pelting the creature with arrow and stone, but he doesn’t seem to pay them much attention.
Finally, the shaman breaks his concentration for a moment and looks at Adolan and whispers, “you must destroy everything, it is our only hope…” Adolan, looking around for something to destroy, has his attention drawn to the staff. He steps to it and snaps it off at ground level. The shaman seems overcome all of a sudden. He turns, ignoring the creature that is now behind him and yells to the party, “NOW RUN!”. With that, the creature steps up behind him and cuts him down with a massive two handed sword.
The staff releases a charge of built up energy. The blast wave causes the entire cave structure to begin collapsing in an area spreading out from the blast site. Adolan and Nuella head one direction as the rest of the party heads the other direction. Jimbo, Kira and Vayera head to the area they believe the “little girl” probably escaped by flying out of a hole in the ceiling. At first, they attempt to use a rope and a grappling hook to climb out, but quickly give up on that and make a run for it.
Adolan and Nuella, having gone the other direction, are faced with a cave in that prevents their escape. However, as the force of the shock wave spreads, if causes the caved in area to settle, allowing them enough space to slip out and find freedom. Meanwhile, the rest of the party is racing through the tunnels trying to get to the exit before the entire glacier collapses on them. They make it to the entrance just as the ceiling collapses and literally have to leap out of the cave to keep from being squashed.
Vayera stands, brushing himself off and says, “Well, that’s done. I hope we didn’t just screw up.”