Sunset Dominion

The Calm
Nan 38 - Deh 10, 1255

While they slept in Kitte, Rahu reached spoke to members of the group, questioning their tarrying. They spoke very little to him, and the group remained divided over how much to aid and follow him. But Samyell, Nemah, and the rest of the Knights soon returned, having received Ana‘s bird messenger. Though the group withheld mention of Rahu, they were able to convince Samyell that the gnomes in the Dark Heart posed no threat – indeed, nearly all of them perished during Jarl’s strange experiments. Samyell agreed that the Beacon needed to be notified immediately and he and Nemah would go with the party to Long Fall.

As they left the woods for the Gap, Ana reecountered one of the snow spiders the party had met on the journey back from Youhan. She learned from him that beasts were beginning to return to the woods now that Jarl was dead and Rahu no longer influencing the Dark Heart. However, some of the beasts were altered, like the winter wolf the party encountered in the Youhan labyrinth. With her previous recognition of the elemental dimension, Ana came to believe that the dimensions were beginning to bleed together.

It was decided to spend two nights in the Gap, during which Samyell held conversation with the displaced Kitte gnomes and Vilhelm (with a little help from Ana) put on a couple shows. The gathered residents rewarded the actors with what gold they could spare and the entertainment provided a welcome respite for the dwarves and gnomes, especially those who had been forced to leave behind Kitte.

Back in the capital, Ferk, Gunnar, and Ana – as the only remaining original members of the expedition – went to the Lighthouse during the night to speak with the Beacon in private. They shared the loss of Mumford and the encounter with Jarl/Rahu, as well as revealing the two new companions met in the wilderness. Though the Beacon was displeased that they (and Samyell) had entered the Dark Heart against his orders, the news of a powerful warlock, a strange experiment, and a rival deity fascinated him. He took leave for the night, to be prepared for the coming conversation with the whole group. In that talk, the presence of Rahu was revealed to all and put the Knights on edge. It was decided that the party would visit the elves in Frozen Point to seek further information, the Knights would return to their patrols with a new enemy to watch for, and the Beacon would put his efforts into study and keeping the Light Warden from prying too deeply.

As it was on their way, and provided convenient cover for their journey, our adventurers stopped in Fieldhaven and inspected the building progress of their new ship. They discovered that five others were meant to accompany them, that supplies were intended to last just over a month, and that seeds were being packaged for planting in the new world (though Berron, the ward of Fieldhaven, doubted they would find anything beyond the known continent).

Eager to complete their mission, they moved on the next day to Frozen Point, climbing its treacherous inclined “road” and keeping an eye out for the flying wolves rumored to live on the slopes. The town itself was surrounded by a tall iron wall and the party struggled to even get attention from residents who could grant them entrance. Once inside, the escort was strong and vigilant, walking the group through a spiraled town layout to the largest building in the center of town, though it seemed initially to be a single room with naught but a desk within. Gilmarie, the Keeper, greeted them coolly and briefly interrogated them about their purpose. Convinced they were generally harmless, he granted them access to the massive subterranean library beneath his feet, though they were to search for only two hours and head towards the section on light and darkness.

Climbing down into the catacombs, the party discovered an extensive network of rooms, halls, rotundas, and stairs where hundreds of thousands of scrolls were stored, some clearly dating back over a millennium. Following Gilmarie’s directions, they discovered first a wall mural depicting a civilization interacting with animal headed gods which was later abandoned by those gods and stranded in a barren land. Moving on, they came to a room housing several texts mentioning both Astrid and Rahu. Ferk, Gunnar, and Ana focused on a journal that seemed to offer the possibility of contacting Astrid; Vilhelm and Agave copied a scroll with details on worshiping Rahu.

Back in the town, the group was given quarters in an empty home near the entry gate. Agave, though, knew the town and had connections, so was able to provide a place for dinner and conversation. Ana was also able to convince Gilmarie that she was sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to benefit from a conversation with a local alchemist. Celesar met with her in the evening and offered to provide several necessary equipment kits and what knowledge should could share about using them. Of course, Celesar had something to ask of the group: she asked them to visit the gryphons who lived on the cliffs outside Frozen Point to retrieve a gryphon egg, some gryphon feathers, and some hoppers (rare poisonous toads the gryphons eat). The party retired for the evening with plans to attempt this mission come morning.

Out of the Cold
Nan 30-38

Waking in Jarl’s laboratory, the party was anxious to leave Youhan and return to the settlements of Bouvet with the information they had gained about the gnomes and Rahu. They followed the marks left to return them to the side entrance. From their, they turned due north, but were wary of a storm lying between them and the Last Forest. They navigated around it to the west, but thus encountered the deep snow left in its wake, which Gunnar and Vilhelm navigated with their Winterland Boots and Agave solved with Tenser’s Floating Disk. As they walked, they came upon several gnomes frozen to death by the storm and covered in snow. Searching the body, the party discovered one of the two gnomes they had previously encountered and let go with a note. It was clear that something had gone wrong between him and his kin, but it seemed the other messenger may have escaped to complete his mission.

Reaching the edge of the Forest, our adventurers encountered two large snow mounds which not-so-secretly concealed giant snow spiders. Gunnar was attacked and frozen by one before Ana was able to cast Animal Friendship and appease the creatures with an ample supply of Goodbugs. Quick attempts to revive Gunnar failed, but he came to after a rest by a warm fire under cover of the trees. From there, the walk to Kitte was straightforward. The settlement was even emptier than before and the group may have missed the few remaining gnomes entirely if not for magical guide lights sent out by the old gnome introduced to them by Samyell.

In a small space underground, the party learned that Samyell had received the note and thus set off for Youhan immediately. The group explained all they had discovered and clarified that the gnomes and Jarl were no threat to the people of Bouvet. Ana prepared an animal messenger to get the news to Samyell and bid him return to Kitte. While they waited for the Knights, the group watched the aurora come and go (centering itself over the icy labyrinth they only recently escaped), and Vilhelm and Agave aided the last few Kitte gnomes in their move to the Gap.

Alone in the abandoned forest settlement, our adventurers discussed their reactions to Rahu and potential plans for the future. Ferk was specifically interested in sharing the information with the High Beacon, though everyone worried about the Light Warden’s potential reaction. Some proposed that Rahu’s plan for dimensional travel could instead be used to summon Astrid, whom Gunnar wanted to attempt contacting as soon as possible. In the end, they sat in wait for Samyell and considered the upcoming ocean voyage in a new light.

Nan 29, 1255

Refreshed by a break in the safety of the empty basilisk room, our adventurers turned their attention to clearing the remaining two rooms of dangers, intending to ease their path back out. The third room was of solid ice and held a prisoner beneath it’s frozen floor. Ferk and Vilhelm strung together a pulley system to extra a chunk from the top of the prison cell sunk below. They helped a tall, thin half-elf climb through the opening. The stranger introduced himself as Agave Orym, and explained that he had been kidnapped by Jarl. The warlock had questioned Agave about dimensional travel and some kind of device, but left him in the ice prison when the half-elf could offer no helpful information.

Now a group of five, the party continued on to the fourth room, in which lurked two dire wolves. Entering without hesitation, Vilhelm discovered that the room was ringed with quicksnow, which the others were then able to avoid as they jumped into action to slay the wolves. One was slain with blades while the other was hoisted by Gunnar and buried in the quicksnow. But now everyone was tired and desired to sleep before venturing further into the dark beneath the Arid Steppe. They elected to stay in the fourth room, using the quicksnow as a barrier to intruders but also rigging up alarms and complicated axe traps on each doorway.

They had barely lay down when the darkness in the room became denser and prevented them from even seeing the fire they had lit next to their makeshift beds. They prepared themselves for whatever danger lurked but, just as soon as it darkened, the space lit up, though now the icy cavern appeared to be a spring meadow. Noticing that the floor felt as before (including the areas of quicksnow) and that the axe traps hung as before, they quickly deduced it to be an illusion. By remembering the layout of the space and some clever maneuvers, they were able to return out the door they came and proceed further into the stronghold, where the illusion eventually faded.

As they made their way, a sinister voice began to ring out in some of their heads, urging them forward. Down a narrow tunnel, they spotted a flickering green light that recalled the magical fire seen at the gnome camp outside. Following the glow, they entered a large inner cavern lit by a massive green fire. Along the left wall, a blue wolf slept not far from a pile of gnome corpses. On the right, two stone tables with covered and surrounded by various detritus of metal, stone, and glass. A gnome, who Agave confirmed to be Jarl, paced between the tables and muttered to himself. When the party entered, Jarl was dismayed at their arrival on this auspicious night.

Sensing that the small gnome posed no danger, Vilhelm waded in to attack, but was rebuffed by a thunderwave spell and missed his strike. Ferk attempted to help but could also not cause the gnome any trouble. Meanwhile, the wolf approached them slowly and the voice in their head grew louder, eventually bending them all to his will so they could not harm the gnome or wolf. During a tense conversation filled with riddles and obfuscation, Jarl explained that the voice was Rahu, his patron, and that the gnome toiled away down here to make a device that would allow travel between dimension. Rahu, it seemed, had been imprisoned by Astrid and others but was seeking to return to his proper home dimension. The only way he knew how was to use a technology developed in this dimension, though the secret of its function was held by a race of sea people in Arissis, who had refused to reveal it to him.

Constrained and confused, the party reluctantly agreed to investigate the sea people and see what they could find about making such a device, though none were willing to fully commit themselves to Rahu. Eventually, Rahu came to believe they had an acceptable accord and he released the spell so the group (i.e. Vilhelm) could mount the wolf and smite Jarl, who was no longer of use to Rahu now that five great adventurers were on his side. Uneasy but exhausted, the group made camp in that dark inner sanctum, hoping this sleep would not be interrupted but illusions or the voice of the one who know believed them to be his team.

The Axe Man in the Ice Maze
Nan 29, 1255

The remaining three walked down the slope towards the icy maze they had come so far to find. As he stepped, Gunnar kicked aside not a rock, but the skull of a gnome. This skull was not alone, surrounded by the scattered and piled bodies of dozens of gnomes, all in different states of decay though with no obvious cause of death. The group gave this haphazard graveyard a wide berth before coming up to the icy wall itself. Remembering the gnome’s words from earlier, they searched and found a narrow doorway cut into a dark section of the western wall and slipped through.

The passages within were narrow and winding, the walls high and oppressive, especially in so dark a place. Following a plan of sticking to the right wall, Ferk led a path to a sizable room. Though Gunnar sensed the presence of faint evil, he could not look in stealthily enough to not disturb the winter wolf they slept within. The fight seemed deadly at first, but soon the tide was turned and the beast slain, skinned just as the yeti before it. As they gathered themselves, Ana transformed into a spider and scaled the wall to have a look at the maze from above. She could see that the wall of the Arid Steppe was not far, but a small fire blazed further north, which they decided to investigate.

A long straight hallway eventually offered some passages on the left. Gunnar was kind enough to discover the dart trap but walking directly over the trigger, and Ferk happily collected the usable darts. Ana continued to scout, discovering a gnome armory, though the gnomes within were dead and the only occupant was a huge, burly man with an axe. Ferk recognized the famous Captain Kelpskin from his performances in Long Fall, but the man introduced himself by proper name: Vilhelm Valdemar. He had wandered into Youhan looking for a challenge, but found only puny gnomes. Still, he had picked up some useful gear in their armory, including a very nice pair of boots, of which a second pair was handed to Gunnar.

Convincing Vilhelm that further challenges lie ahead and they could use his help, a new group of four turned back down the long hall towards the step. In the room of the winter wolf, VIlhelm broke out some equipment and scaled to the top of the wall (though it took a couple tries). From there, he helped navigate the group south to a long corridor beyond which larger rooms were completely encased in ice and sealed with stone doors. Pushing open the first one, they discovered a rectangular space with weird gnome statues scatted about. As they tried to force open the door on the other side, they realized the statues were actually petrified gnomes, created by a basilisk, another creature Gunnar was “happy” to find. Knowing to avoid its gaze, the group killed the creature and were able to open the second door.

They were know past the edge of the Steppe and the wall of this corridor was hewn from stone. Its length was adorned with empty torch holders and further doors lie ahead. Behind the second lie an undead gnome, filling the space with the scent of death and decay. Despite danger from the strength of the odor, the gnome was no match and quickly taken care of. Still, everyone felt it best to rest and regain a little strength before pushing further into the Steppe, so they returned to the less stinky room of the basilisk.

A Small Delay and a Great Loss
Nan 29, 1255

The group slept in a little later to recover from their late night yeti encounter, but were soon off to locate the gnome stronghold. They stuck close to the wall of the Arid Steppe, strong wind at their backs as they progressed back towards the site of the magical darkness. As they journeyed, a strange green light caught their attention to the north and they cautiously approached what turned out to be a strange flame sitting atop the snow. Though they did not stray too close to the fire, they stepped close enough to rouse several gnomes who hid beneath the snow.

Mumford attempted to reason with and then intimidate the gnomes, a fight was all but inevitable. The wizard was able to put two of the gnome company to sleep, but the other six attacked swiftly. They focused their energy on Mumford, who had approached them first and stood against the gnome leader. Ferk‘s blade slew several while Ana and Gunnar waded in to protect their comrade, but all was to no avail. A poisoned dart and the strong swing of an ice axe took Mumford’s life.

Fueled by vengeance, the party dispatched with the remaining gnomes and would have torn them all apart if not for Ana’s rational decision to interrogate the two sleeping gnomes who, after all, had done no harm in the combat. One was shaken awake, but proved to be the most simple of underling. All he could say of the stronghold was the presence of a secret entrance in the western wall (he knew nothing of the interior) and to present a hagiography of Jarl, the gnome warlock who had convinced the other gnomes to follow him into the cold and who was said to wield great otherworldly power.

This information gained, the other gnome was awakened and both were sent towards Kitte with a message for Samyell about events on the expedition and thoughts about the mission. The party now turned to the loss of Mumford, offering him the best burial and farewell they could in that inhospitable place with so much on their minds. Forced to leave him behind, they returned to the wall of the Steppe and marched east, pausing only when a small rise revealed the icy labyrinth of Youhan below.

Through the Woods, Across the Ice
Nan 23-29, 1255

After a night of rest in Light for Dark, our adventurers set out with Samyell and a small coterie of Knights for Kitte. Two days hence, they arrived in the nearly abandoned town and were given shelter by an elder gnome who was clearly a close contact of Samyell’s. The elder shared what he could about the dangers of the Dark Heart and had rations prepared for the mission into the dark and cold.

The first two days in the Heart were largely uneventful, with mainly the cold and wind as adversaries. Occasional patches of deep snow and the difficulty of navigating in such barren land slowed the party’s pace, but the end of the second day brought them to a patch of magical darkness that seemed to mark the outer edge of the gnome stronghold. The group rested overnight, but rose early to let Ferk explore the darkness. Only a short distance in, he encountered stronger winds and greater cold which suggested going through the darkness was not a feasible plan.

Instead, they followed the barrier westward until it allowed them to turn south and reach the base of the Arid Steppe. Severe westerly winds swirled around the base and the efforts of their travel brought the group to exhaustion. Though unable to locate a cave, the party found a large rock outcropping that provided protection from the wind and took another night’s rest before making for the stronghold proper.

In the middle of the night, however, scraping sounds caught Gunnar‘s attention while he kept watch. His investigation revealed a seemingly lost and confused yeti scratching at the wall of the Steppe on the other side of the outcrop that protected camp. Gunnar was unable to keep his presence hidden and the yeti approached. The rest of the group was roused and they set about defending themselves from the beast. Though it possessed great strength and the ability to paralyze with just a look, clever use of Ana’s entangling webs literally tied the creature’s hands and gave the party the upper hand. After dispatching the beast, its fur was shorn and kept as potential cover against the snow and cold before sleep could again be pursued.

Back to the Mainland
Nan 12-23, 1255

During dinner on the Temple Island, Ferk snuck away to explore the upper floors of the Grand Lighthouse, with magical support from Mumford in the form of alarms and illusions. In a room of disused furniture, Ferk discovered some purposefully hidden robes, one of which he secreted away. Higher up, he was able to enter a room filled with strongly sealed crates, some of which which covered in foreign molds and grasses. When Mumford came to check on Ferk’s progress, the two were able to pry open a couple crates, discovering wooden discs in several sizes and carved female idols in both wood and stone. Their activities aroused some suspicion, but they were able to finagle a way out of the Lighthouse with illusory owls and the previously planted Darkmantle darkness sacs.

The next morning, they returned to The Brilliant for the ride back to Fieldhaven, after which a two day walk brought them again to Long Fall. A city guard expressed great excitement at their return and encouraged them to visit the High Beacon right away. When they found him in the Light Room, however, he was not alone. The group was perfunctorily introduced to the mysterious Samyell Gian; he could not be convinced to share much in the presence of the Beacon but agreed to meet later in the Blinking Darkness, Long Fall’s bar.

Now alone with the party, the Beacon became ebullient and set to business. Ushering our adventurers into his messy office, the Beacon produced four contracts, setting forth the stipulations of joining the upcoming mission. With varying degrees of reluctance, each party member signed, receiving free room & board at the Lighthouse until their mission commenced and 25 gp for their efforts so far. With more openness from the Beacon than he received on the Temple Island, Mumford began preparations to spread the information he uncovered in On Radiant Life.

Their business concluded, the group repaired to the Blinking Darkness, where Samyell waited. He revealed that he was a leader in the secretive Knights in Sheep’s Clothing, the military force created by the Temple to protect Bouvetians from the dangers of the Dark Heart. Though reluctant to share many details while in the city, he did explain that he had come to the Beacon seeking additional support – hopefully in the form of the hired adventurers – in response to an apparently urgent threat from a breakaway group of gnomes. With a month to spare, the party agreed to lend their support in secret.

After waiting a couple days, to gather supplies and hopefully prevent suspicion, they departed on the two day journey to the Gap, where Samyell awaited their arrival. He then led them on a winding path through the Last Forest, finally coming to the Knights’ outpost of Light for Dark. Inside, they met Nemah Oresti, the second in command, and then gathered to learn about the situation and make plans.

Samyell explained that Kitte, the gnome town in the Forest, was largely abandoned. More civilized gnomes had moved to the Gap or all the way into Long Fall, but the majority had actually gone out into the Dark Heart. Reconnaissance was difficult in the frozen emptiness, but intelligence revealed that a new settlement had been constructed up against (probably tunneling into) the Arid Steppe. From within the walls of this mysterious hideout, called Youhan by the gnomes, one particular gnome claimed power owing to supernatural powers he was rumored to possess. It seemed that not only gnomes were in his control, but other foul creatures from the Heart as well. Though most of this information was second- or third-hand and could not be confirmed, any truth to it presenting a significant threat to the people of Bouvet.

Currently, the Knights believed that two upcoming eclipses were important moments for the breakaway gnomes, whose love for darkness was no secret. Their working theory said that the Eclipse of Delta, in 7 days time, signaled the marshaling of forces at Youhan, after which the evil army would set forth for Bouvet’s settlement. Likely moving underground, from the Gap to Ingell, these foes would emerge under cover of the Eclipse of Prime (a further 15 days hence) into Long Fall. The available options seemed to be taking the fight to the gnomes, storming Youhan (perhaps using the light of an upcoming aurora) and cutting off the enemy before it could set forth, or creating a blockade (likely at Kitte or the Gap) and preparing for the enemy to arrive.

As the day came to a close, the agreed upon plan involved Samyell and the party, with roughly half the Knights, setting off for Kitte in the morning. Once there, the Knights would begin preparations while our adventurers embarked on a scouting mission towards Youhan, hoping to confirm exactly what they were up against. In the meantime, Nemah would wait at Light for Dark until the rest of the Knights arrived from their posts, readying them to follow whatever orders Samyell and the party issued.

Upon the Island
Nav 10-12, 1255

Our party arrived at the dwarven port and met Captain Sisu “Z” Pelkka waiting for them with The Brilliant. Though unfamiliar with sea travel, they enjoyed an uneventful day and a half journey to the Temple Island. While aboard, Mumford was able to peruse the dwarven clerical book he discovered in Ingell. Titled On Radiant Life, the book contained ancient philosophy and spells that challenged many of the Temple’s ideas and beliefs.

Upon their arrival, our adventurers first metFalco Khast, who introduced himself as a fellow servant of the Temple. He led them immediately to the grand cathedral/lighthouse, where they were to meet the Light Warden. While waiting for the Warden to be available, the group met Eha Ranta, a devout elven acolyte whose lack of curiosity angered Mumford and whose general haughtiness offended the others.

After finally being welcomed into the Warden’s office, the party revealed their successful retrieval of the Arch Light and the fate of Ant. The Warden thanked them for their service, but his request to hand over the Sun Stone was met with resistance. Given the contents of_ On Radiant Life_, Mumford desired to time to study the Stone in more detail. However, the Warden was not about to relinquish or allow investigation of a most holy relic finally returned to the Temple after being lost in the dwarven schism. Eventually, Ana and Gunnar were able to smooth things over, with Gunnar further donating a recovered dwarven prayer book to the Temple library.

Their meeting over, Gunnar spent some time with his fellow Paladins while the others visited the glassworks, a wonderful metal silo on the Temple grounds. Inside, they discovered glass craftsmanship beyond anything seen on the mainland. While marveling at the creations, Mumford noticed magic in the fire and he and Ana struck up conversation with Niilo, a glassman. Demonstrating his work on a rod capable of containing and directing light, Niilo agreed to craft a special staff for Mumford and accepted a gift of spider silk from Ana.

With time to spare before dinner, Falco suggested a venture to the only cave on the island, which he had not yet explored due to his fear of the underground. Deep inside, the party discovered pits exposing the molten core – and that they were not alone down there. A group of five mephits, claiming to be part of the mountain itself, seemed to live in the cave and spent much time bickering among themselves. Misunderstood the group’s friendly intentions, however, led to a skirmish that destroyed three of the mephits and knocked Gunnar unconscious before the last two mephits fled into the magma and our adventurers could escape. They returned to their quarters to rest and recuperate before the evening meal.

Darkness and the Light
Nan 9, 1255

Our adventurers made their way back to Ingell, carrying the Ankheg head, when Mikel appeared from the shadows. He expressed respect for their discovery of his crawlspace and their slaying of the spiny death monster, but was dismayed by their insistence on returning to the dwarven city. He offered to help them complete their mission so they could depart safely and he – and the rest of Ingell – could be rid of them. Though reluctant at first, the party accepted his help and they set off through another system of hidden pathways.

Eventually, they emerged through a hidden door into The Guinea, the exact bar Reko had invited them to earlier. The young dwarf was overjoyed to reecounter them and introduced the group to his girlfriend, the barmaid Pirla. Mikel’s face was well-known at the bar, though all present referred to him as Finga. While the party ate and drank (with Gunnar playing some hearty tunes in hopes of paying for the food with his entertainment value), Mikel ducked into the backroom to converse with The Guinea’s owner, Harv. The rest of the adventurers were soon called to join them and a deal was struck: Harv would take the Ankheg head in exchange for food and drink, a cure for Ana’s compulsion, and silence about their presence.

Locating the old temple, which housed the Arch Light, required some careful planning. To distract both the citizens and guards away from the north gate, Mumford would create illusory piercers, creatures the dwarves feared most of all. Reko and Mikel were to aid the illusion by claiming it as reality and alerting the guards. The ensuing panic and confusion drew attention to the south end of the courtyard long enough for the party to sneak across the north gate to the temple stairs.

The entryway to the temple stairs had been barricaded with the rocks and the glow rock decorations were smeared with tar. The rocks proved easy enough to clear and the group made their way up the long stairwell to the narthex. Here, they encountered another magically locked door which required Ant to strike his axe across the seal. Beyond, the temple stretched a few hundred feet towards a speck of distant light: a tunnel had been drilled to reach the cliff wall and allow Astrid’s light to shine in.

The contents of the room were heavily disheveled and dusted over, the temple long ago abandoned and forgotten. Dwarven hymnals and books of worship were salvaged, to aid in language acquisition. Several small boxes of hiding dust were discovered, though most were empty, and stored for later use. The Arch Light itself was sealed in a monstrously heavy granite box, which required the might of several to open.

In the darkness, the glow of the Arch Light was overwhelming and caused many party members to go temporarily blind. Those who could continued searching and located the priests’ room behind the alter. While most of the contents were mundane or worn beyond use, some decent robes were discovered and Mumford found a book made of stone sheets, which he pocketed for further study.

When the party had recovered, they set about making their escape. The excitement caused by the earlier distraction had died and the group was almost spotted by a guard in the courtyard. However, speed and Ferk‘s roguish skill effected a quick and stealthy path back through Mikel’s hidden passages. A brief pass through The Guinea allowed everyone to say their goodbyes to Reko and Pirla. In a later passage, a patrolling guard attempted to accost our adventurer’s, but intimidation by the Arch Light and the great size of Mumford and Gunnar held him at bay.

Finally, the group reemerged in the abandoned mining cavern that held their path to the port. Mikel was waiting for them, offering his congratulations and good riddance. A brief conversation about the Arch Light and the temple convinced Ant that faith in Astrid still dwelt beneath the ground and he felt called to stay in Ingell with his people to see what life and religion might be made there. The others bid him farewell and, Arch Light safely stowed, headed into the tunnel and towards the sea.

A Night and a Day Among the Dwarves
Nan 8 and 9, 1255

After a tense but brief conversation with the Regina Biborka, our party was invited to stay a single night in Ingell. A feast would be thrown in their honor the next morning, after which they were expected to depart immediately and never return. The guards showed them to dark quarters far from the Courtyard. Potentially locked in, our adventurers settled into an uneasy sleep, a watch posted.

In the middle of the night, Ferk‘s watch was disturbed when his candle was suddenly snuffed and an unknown voice requested a conversation. Rousing Gunnar, Ferk cautiously approached the stranger, who had already put Mumford into a deep sleep and quickly affected Gunnar’s focus as well. When the dwarf revealed himself, Ferk easily concluded that this was Mikel, the deadly rogue spoken of previously. Mikel was familiar with Ferk’s exploits in Long Fall and was keeping an eye on the party. He cautioned them to play along, to touch nothing, and to leave quickly. Having said his peace, Mikel disappeared, seemingly without a trace.

In the morning, Ferk told of the encounter with everyone (including Ant and Ana, who had slept through the whole thing). A thorough investigation of the room revealed a secret hatch in the ceiling – clearly how Mikel had entered and exited. Ana explored the passage, discovering a network of tunnels that spread in all direction (including up and down levels) with several similar hatches. The search was cut short, however, by the call to come join the Feast, which was about to begin.

The Courtyard had been transformed, filled with tables and hundreds of dwarves eagerly waiting. Our adventurers were seated at a table near the throne, with all the guards nearby. The Regina Biborka entered soon thereafter, riding her grand wolf spider; after a brief welcoming speech, she announced the commencement of the Feast. With great haste and little decorum, all the dwarves set about eating large helpings of the various stews and soups. Several giant spiders appeared, bringing yet more food and drink. Our party members ate cautiously at first, fearing some chicanery, but eventually settled in to a fairly pleasant meal, including conversation with Lappi, a rather intense gnome who was a regular visitor to Ingell. (Well, everyone except Mumford, who was extra cautious after discovering that the queen and her head guard held items of great magic.) In the end, the only trick involved the massive, layered Dobos cake presented to the guests of honor; though most were unaffected by its curse, poor Ana became compelled to encourage others to eat and drink beyond their fill.

When finally the food was gone and the dwarves had all returned to their homes, the Regina Biborka ordered our party to leave her realm. The guards escorted our adventurers down a long flight of stairs to an old mining cavern and pointed the way to the path down and out. With the Arch Light mission still upon them, the party waited for the guards to depart and set apart crafting a new plan. After Ana gained some insight from local spiders, everyone first explored a tunnel to “the bucket.” This turned out to be an abandoned mining elevator, though it was not completely empty this day. From the depths appeared Reko, the dwarf explorer who was extremely happy to encounter Uplanders in the flesh. Having missed the Feast and last night’s encounter, he knew nothing of their reception by the queen and encouraged the party to return with him to the city. They demurred and insisted they would instead take the tunnel to the “big spiny death monster.” Seeing they could not be persuaded, Reko departed, but invited them to join him for a drink at The Guinea if they managed to not die.

Down a second tunnel, the group was attacked by a lone Ankheg, a brown mantis the size of a human. Though the beast had a thick carapace, the party quickly surrounded it and delivered devastating blows which soon cracked its shell and split the monster in two. A decision was made to remove two of the beasts claws for use as weapons, and to sever its head as a trophy to take back to Ingell as proof of the adventurer’s might and good intentions (and as a bargaining tool for the Arch Light).


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