Seekers: Into the Belly

Observer’s Log – September 3rd, 1943

On a personal note, I feel I may be getting too close to the group.  I believe Dilemma may have noticed me.  I will have to be more careful.

After defeating Xinnik the group was worn and beaten.  They decided to make their way back to town to rest but didn’t get far before they were attacked by two of the Kobonashi as well as several other kobolds.  I believe the Kobonashi used Xinnik as nothing more than a decoy in order to get the heroes to burn through their resources so they would be weakened when the kobolds attacked.  The battle went very poorly for Dilemma and his group as the Kobonashi quickly overwhelmed them, devastating them with their lightning breath attacks while the kobolds moved in and separated the group.  The one scarred Kobonashi, who lost an eye to the previous group in their first encounter and whom I have come to know as Rakan, grabbed Dilemma in its mighty jaws and clamped down with its teeth while one of the others snatched the staff from him.  The heroes fought valiantly but it seems the odds were stacked against them from the beginning.  I was sure at this point that they would indeed perish.  The kobolds seem more interested in the staff and once it was in their possession they and the kobonashi fled.  I cannot fathom was sinister plans these creatures have.

Their victory snatched from under them, the group returned to town to rest and recuperate.  Allowen, the Halfling that runs The Lucky Halfling Tavern told them that they could no longer stay for free.  They decided it would be best to stay at a much cheaper location as the Lucky Halfling Tavern is 45 gold per night.  The rested for the night and had breakfast at the Quickfinger Tavern.

While waiting for their meal the group discussed their next course of action.  They knew the staff was important, but they were unsure as to how to recover it from the party.  Considering their contacts in town they decided to split up and gather as much information as possible.  Dilemma spoke to Verrin about the situation and altered him that Coppernight Hold was in danger as the kobolds had attacked recently.  Ravonna spoke with Azera concerning the staff and that they had not recovered it successfully.  Azera did not seem to be worried that the kobolds had the staff stating that they could do no harm with it and it is safer in their hands, deep within their warren, rather than in the hands of the Shattered Star.  She was concerned, however, as she had gained wind of a group of Shattered Star members infiltrating the mountains with the intend of leveling the kobolds’ home.  Such an act of aggression would cause a war between the city and the remaining kobold populous as well as the dragon that lives in the mountains.  She requested that they prevent the Shattered star from causing such chaos.

The entire group spoke with both Redra regarding the incident.  Redra could not offer her insight to the value of the staff but was able to help them locate it.  Using her divination magic she was able to connect with the radiant aura of the staff left behind on Dilemma.  She was able to see the staff as it was carried away by the Kobonashi deep into the mountains.  The group decided it would be in their best interest to take the staff and keep it safe, possibly destroying it so it could do no harm.  Their first thought was to charge headlong into the caverns of the mountain and slaughter their way through the kobolds but Redra believed that to be a bad idea.  The mountains are home to potentially thousands of kobolds and they would surely be stopped if not by those reptiles then by their dragon guardian.  They decided to consult an expert on draconic biology: Avro Weedas.

The party had not had much success with Avro in previous encounters.  They usually seek his assistance in times when they need assistance with magic and arcane arts knowing that he is an student at the Airelei Academy, but they seem to forget that he is not a student of magic.  Avro specializes in the study of dragons, kobolds, drakes, and other draconic creatures.  He has been working on a thesis that would tear apart the current assumption that kobolds are nothing more than malicious, unintelligent, xenophobic beasts.  He hopes his research will change the views on kobolds and help mankind’s interaction with the poor creature.

Avro was remarkably helpful.  He was able to enlighten them greatly about the Kobonashi and the kobolds.  According to his theories kobolds have a history of draconic blood flowing in their bloodlines.  Kobonashi, while very rare, are manifestations of that heritage.  Physically they are very similar to dragons though much smaller, only about as big as a very large dog or a small horse.  The kobonashi are able to manifest elemental powers much more effectively than kobolds since they are more closely tied to the elements, much like dragons.  They have shown themselves to be much more intelligent and cunning than the regular kobold as well.

He explained many things to the party and ultimately helped them decide their path of action.  With his help as well as a few other citizens of the town they would disguise themselves as kobolds and enter the warren in an attempt to find and recover the staff.  Redra agreed to provide them with a spell that would allow them to appear as kobolds, but it would not modify their actual size or any of their abilities.  Avro said he could make an ointment for them that would cause them to smell like a kobold.  It wouldn’t be perfect and certain more animalistic creatures would see through the disguise.  It is very likely that the kobonashi would be able to tell as well.  They would need to sound like a kobold and the ex-Herald Caine proposed that he could brew a drink that would do this for them.  It would allow them to speak and understand the kobold language, but they would not be able to speak or understand any other language.  Ravonna decided to try the mixture immediately and found that she was unable to even read or write the languages she knew before.

Avro and Redra needed a few additional regents in order to completely their parts of the disguise.  Redra required some [[Tarrochi]] paper which the group acquired from an old hermit to the east.  The hermit was a professor at the Airalei Academy in days past and was at first unwilling to part with his most precious of paper, but agreed that the plight was one of dire need.  Avro required Kruthik venom and the group knew where they could find some Kruthiks so they decided they would go and hunt them.  They would require some bait in order to lure the Kruthiks to the surface so visited the Shattered Star’s armory in order to purchase some.  It was a mere 30 gold, but they were required to fill out a few pages of paperwork since they were not members.  Rather than face the perilous bureaucracy the group decided to pay an additional 120 gold to purchase the venom directly from a different vendor.

Having an evening to burn before they could adventure into the mountains they decided to take up a contract through the mason’s guild to liberate the southern bridge to Coppernight Hold from the troll that was holding it.  The troll claimed that his union had built the bridge since the previous one had fallen and he was collecting tolls to pay for the materials and workers.  The Thromgarde Mason guild did not appreciate having work stolen for them and wished for the troll monstrosity to be killed.  The group adventured south and fought against the beast for what seemed like hours, his regeneration keeping him alive and the players having no method of counteracting it.  Eventually they proved victorious as he fell.  They liberated the bridge from the  troll as well as one of his totems, his money, and his private herbal stash.

Returning to town they rested for the evening in Westpoint.  They awoke early the next morning and checked on Avro and Redra to see how they progressed.  The ritual and salve was not yet prepared and the group had a couple hours to burn, so Dilemma decided to go fishing.  Two hours and zero fish later Avro and Redra greeted the group and explained how to use the materials they were providing them.  Shortly after the party was off to pass the King’s Wall and once again enter the Horadrim mountains.

They had a general idea of where they were heading, but no directly inclination.  They made their way through the mountains trying to navigate as best as they good using their natural knowledge and the information they know about kobolds to find their lair.  They knew that there was an old dwarven mine that connected to the kobold’s warren as well, so they hoped to find that and enter through it.  They searched for tracks of the Shattered star, as well.  After a few hours of searching they came across a what appeared to be a door 50 feet up a set of carved stairs.  They proceeded upward only to be approached by three women who were living in this cave.

The three women didn’t seem very welcoming and claimed to be the guardians of the mountain.  They told the group that only heralds of the queen were allowed past the Wall and if they could not show proof that they were then their lives were forfeit.  Thinking quickly, Dilemma told Adrik to show them the armband he had obtained from his nightmare.  These seemed to appease the women and they invited the group inside to discuss their journey.

They introduced themselves as Emilith, Kaerawyn, and Aezneri.  They said they were the guardians of the mountain and that they were to protect it from intruders.  Aezneri the raven-haired rogue seemed particularly distrustful of the party almost to the point of wanting to slay them on the spot for intruding.  Kaerawyn, the beautiful robed one was much more welcoming, offering them tea and something to eat.  Emilith was much more straight to business.  She listened to the groups request and figured they would do more good than harm and that the sooner they were out of the mountains the better.  She gave them directions to the dwarven mines and warned them of the dangers of the mountains.  She told them to avoid the basilisk cavern, as well, as those who have entered it seeking treasure have never returned.  Aezneri was glad to see them on their way.

The group continued their journey deeper into the mountains following the map given to them by the guardians.  It was not long before they garnished the attention of a few creatures.  Hovering above and following them were a pair of hungry wyverns, possibly looking for an easy meal.  The followed them for quite a distance before deciding to attack.  One wyvern separated Dilemma from the group while Ravonna and Adrik attempted to handle the other.  The beasts refused to land so Dilemma found it appropriate to grab onto its leg in an attempt to drag it down.  The wyvern was unwilling to remit and stung at him relentlessly, stabbing with his envenomed barb several times.  The monk managed to grab onto the barb at one point and use it as a method to climb to a more secure location onto the wyverns back.  Panicking, the wyvern flew higher and attempted aerial maneuvers in an attempt to drop the shifter from his back.  Nearly letting go at one point Dilemma managed to catch on to the tip of the wyverns tail avoiding a perilous 100 foot drop.  He pulled out his rope and tried tying it around the beast in order to help maintain his stability.  Meanwhile, Adrik and Ravonna used their magic to keep the other wyvern under control and at bay as it relentlessly dived and attacked then flew out of range, not staying in melee combat.

Frustrated by the parasite on its back, Dilemma’s wyvern dove into the ground landing on its back in hopes of crushing its prey.  While it was weakened on the ground Dilemma attempted to secure the rope further.  By this point Ravonna and Adrik had finished the other and came to Dilemma’s assistance.  They managed to secure the rope, though Dilemma was dragged across the cliffside in the processes.  They eventually got it to the ground and were able to finish off the ferocious beast.

Continuing their journey they did eventually come across the basilisk cave, but decided not to enter.  About a half an hour later they came to what they believed was the old entrance to the dwarven mines only to find that the main path was caved in.  They considered perhaps the Shattered Star had already detonated the explosive runes, but were unsure.  Continuing they way up the mountain they came to another entrance.

As they approached, a small contingency of four kobolds exited the cavern to go on patrol.  Suddenly one in the rear began spurting blood as he fell to the ground, grasping his slit through.  A small halfling appeared behind him, wiping his blade clean.  A beam of dark-red energy errupted from the mouth of the cave and hit another in the back disintegrating it into a pile of dust.  The elven mage that cast the spell began channeling another as a fully armor warrior charged the last two, cleaving them in half.  The Halfing and warrior moved back over to the mage and all three were engulfed in rings of light, disappearing from sight.  Adrik, Ravonna, and Dilemma were stunned by the situation.

Moving closer, they determined that the other group was surely the Shattered Star and had completed laying the runes.  They decided to activate their camouflage and enter the cave in hopes of finding the runes as well as the staff.  While they wandered the caves they set off several of the kobolds home security traps, but the kobolds didn’t seem concerned about intruders.  They helped the group up and gave them directions to the entrance to the old dwarven mine warning them that kobolds that go there in search of mushrooms never return.  Wandering around the caves a bit more they discovered the kobolds armory.  The huge room had its walls covered in  various high quality weapons and suits of armor of all types.  Intrigued, the group asked if they could purchase some of the weapons.  The kobold agreed and named his price, but it was not anything they had.  They were prepared to pay gold but the kobold wanted Sibiki mushrooms instead.  He said he would be willing to pay them some mushrooms if they could bring him some extra vanadium ore which they were willing to do.  He also passively mentioned that the reward for defeating The Gauntlet was s significant bunch of mushrooms which they eagerly accepted.  They headed off cheering “The Gauntlet!  To The Gauntlet!”  A crowd of kobolds soon gathered following them and cheering so they could watch.

Only a few other kobolds have previously survived the gauntlet.  It it a series of deadly traps designed to kill anyone that enter it, but the group was sure they could manage.  After watching a few kobolds get burned to death by explosive fungus and others chopped to bits by spinning blades, they got their turns.  Dilemma went first.

Moving quickly through the slinger passage he avoided as many attacks as he could.  Their globshots slowed them down and slid them around but he ducked near walls and stayed out of sight as many as possible, barely making it through while still being able to move.  Next was the scytheblades which came through the walls.  There were 6 in total and he needed to move back and forth through them in order to make it safely.  It requires quickness of body and knowledge of the mechanisms in order to safely move through without being rent asunder.  He was sliced several times, but made it through to the log room and eventually through the training posts of death as well.  The next room was an empty room which he had to get across, but the tiles were trapped.  There were slits separating each 5×5 tile which potentially shot a jet of fire upwards.  It took timing and reflexes to get through, but after a while he eventually made it through, barely surviving.  The next room was the gravity pits in which he just needed to get to the end safely.  The pits pulled him towards spikey death but he was able to navigate a quick, safe route and was crowned the first victor over the gauntlet in a long time.

Ravonna attempted  the gauntlet and was able to get through very quickly thanks to her bestial speed.  She had troubles with the gate before the fiery maze room, however, and was disqualified for taking too long getting past it.  Adrik attempted the gauntlet as well and, though their was some controversy over the terms of his success it was deemed valid.  We shall see how they fair throughout the rest of the warren.

Michael McElrath

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