Rolling in and rolling on.
I asked my group about a week or two before this last meeting WHAT they might have had in mind and if they would go back to Broken Hills and WHAT they would be willing to be paid to risk it.
And then I built my framework deeper around Shadows Run Deep (this adventure) and incorporated their opinions and feeling on it.
* The town that they were directly and indirectly a part of destroying.
* One of the character's brother taken whole cloth from his background as a potential foil.
* The hireling that they had 2 adventures ago who had gotten a lucky break and lorded was a pivotal part of their assignment.
* The feeling of limited time and yet still a large amount available for them to accord for any difficulties they might and will encounter.
Giving them a personal stake in the matter made it easier for them to go after the adventure and gave them the feeling of choice.
Write up follows:
Workmonth the 8th, the waning days and hot ones of a fairly mild summer, and we were gathered in the Common Room of the Antiquinarian and Adventurer’s Guild. Most of our gear had been repaired and fixed, arrows and bolts were restocked, and clothing was washed and bodies clean. Brother Beren had rejoined us over the last 20 days of his training; the priest of Tyr both happy and well rested himself.
As for news of the times, we had learned the Kazak and Moltas Falconhand, as well as a retinue of over 30 members of CornBlood Keep had escaped Broken Hills and wound their way northward, eventually stopping at Dilabria. Sverek had died during the escape and a bounty was put out to bring Sverek back – 500 crowns for anyone able to. Kazak had gotten in touch with Brother Beren and asked him if he or his group were interested but the good priest had to decline.
So a party known as the Fellowship of the Scale had succeeded (no one is sure how many bounty hunters and adventurers actually tried and/or died) and were returning to Cymbarton to deliver the body to Kazak. Dumethian Dracowulf was going to have an open congregation as Baron Umbar was fronting the funds to have a Deathspeaker ask Lord Sverek some questions as to the last minutes of Broken Hills. All members of the adventurer’s guild were invited.
We tossed about the idea of going for a bit and opted to do it. There was hope that Karis would be there (so Gustav could kick his ass) but to date, it seemed the Red Clouds were still up north. The Fellowship had come in late last night, beaten up and tired and were at the Yawning Portal, a fine hotel on the edge of Old City so would be at the ceremony shortly.
While we were milling around, various important people filed in, including members of Count Cedric Sedaris’ staff and Baron Umbar himself. It was then that there was a ripple near the door and the Fellowship of the Scale entered. There were 8 of them, all elven, and the leader was a handsome and charismatic (and familiar in some fashion) looking person. Soren stared at him under his cloak with open mouthed shock but said nothing. Everyone filed downstairs to the ceremony room and only Brother Beren made his way towards the front (eyeing Kazak and mouthing “hello”.)
The Deathspeaker asked who would give up his blood for the divination and the Fellowship leader, named Tyrnias, Smiled and said that he would. A silver sickle traced a line along his forearm and the blood welled up and was placed carefully around the rotting and very dead body of Sverek Falconhand.
The Lord of Broken Hills took a ragged breath, was helped to a sitting position and the questions from Baron Umbar followed.
• What went on during the last moments at Cornblood Keep?
** The raging Storm Giant had been slain by the increasing number of ghouls clambering up his side as well as the vicious claws and bites of the great dragon. Its form collapsed across the bailey and 3rd guard tower, breaking the walls there and allowing the undead held at bay from the protective energies of the Keep’s clerics and wards a way to swarm in. The Dragon let loose a last breath at Kwinzard, the court magician and his personal guards, killing them to the last before winging upward and flying towards Eider.
The undead waded into the outer walls and in the narrow confines most of the guards were struck on the flank, rolling into themselves and dying one after the other. Shadowy figured sieved through holes in the floor and walls and I was yelling for the men to retreat into the dungeons. From there I had hoped we could form ranks once more and lead the last of those still hiding out to the stronghold and then to safety. We had made it to the stronghold and it was here that the undead caught up with us. There were people running and fleeing and I felt ice and fire and cold and saw the dead feeding on me, draining my strength, stealing my warmth and then I saw nothing.
• What was the catalyst that you assume had this horror start?
** We had been having strange incursions of undead for a week by this time, zombies wandering the streets, one of our citizens forming a cabal of mages with some rites of necromancy, odd murders reminiscent of vampires but also not. Our local high priest had been troubled with activity at the graveyard and we had a band of adventurer’s attempting to find out what was going on and how it was happening.
The Skelt family was beset by some curse from their fallen patriarch, Aaron, who was at the heart on some level of these strange attacks. As the matter was being resolved though it had spiraled out of control. An altercation and some spell duel at an abandoned mining locale known as Murderer’s Hole started the assault but at that time it only spawned the dragon. It was many minutes later that the shadows and ghouls made themselves known and from what we were able to tell the appearance of the dragon and the undead were not directly linked.
• What in your estimation would be the best chance of saving Broken Hills?
** If I still lived I would have made it out of the Stronghold in the dungeon of Cornblood Keep. It was from the original foundations the ancient dwarves had laid over 7 centuries earlier. Besides linking up to two different mines further west of town and allowing us a route of escape beyond the undead, there were some artifacts there that my grandfather and those before had kept and shown their descendants how to work.
The best hope would the use what had been called the Sun Sphere. It was a stone ball about 10” round with a number of markings on it. A hollow spot was along the top of it where some stone would fit in and there was a space on the bottom where it would be mounted on a stick or staff.
• I know your spirit is weary but I beg for you to hold on, where is the Sun Sphere?
** I had it on me where I was slain and I do not know where it is now.
• What can we do now?
** Either find the Sun Sphere that was in Broken Hills or learn if there might be another one.
• Is there another?
** Blood can tell. Blood can reveal.
At this time Sverek’s spirit expired and the room was abuzz. Just about every adventurer wanted to hike out to Broken Hills and get the Sun Sphere. But Kazak and Umbar were talking and they said that they were going to offer a 2000 crown bounty on whoever went to Broken Hills and returned with the Sun Sphere. Tyrnias and the Fellowship admitted they did NOT have the stone but remembered it and where they had left it (not knowing what it was or that it was important). Baron Umbar offered them the job first and the Fellowship took it.
However, they pleaded that they needed to go back to Huntington to get certain amulets they owned to help in getting the stone. It was 8 days there, 8 days back, and they wanted at least 3 days to get back into Broken Hills and out again. 19 days total. Kazak was leaning on no but Baron Umbar was of the mind the group had already proven themselves and should be given the first crack. So the Fellowship was given 20 days – if not back in the 29th, then the next group interested would be given a shot.
The Adventurer’s guild was buzzing as everyone started doing their own research on possibly going to Broken Hills and getting the Sun Sphere. As for Tyrnias, Soren told us that it was his brother that he hadn’t seen for some time and was responsible for him getting cut up years ago. Said he couldn’t be trusted and we should watch out for him.
Kazak wanted to see us for dinner at Falconhand Manor so we went, visiting the new lord of the Falconhand family. It was a nice meal and we talked about possible things to find to help us learn about the Sun Sphere. There was talk of there might be another. So we went to search the entire grounds with Brother Beren doing a Locate Object spell. The main floor was a bust so we went to the basement. And there was one door down here that did not open. There was a strange bladed looking plate above the handle and Gustav cut himself on it – nothing happened.
So we had Kazak do it – and the door was blood locked! Inside was 2 old suits of leather armor, a very poor rusted sword, and an old book. We took the book that had a blank scroll in a tube with it and read what we could from it.
It was from someone named Yersius Falconhand and talked about a period 100 years ago. Falconhand family did work for the Sunderstone dwarves and were entrusted with 3 Sun Spheres for being so fair and honest. One went to family holdings, one went to King Daro for tribute, and one went with Crispani Falconhand to try and take out some necromancer in Double Dagger Dungeon. The operation of the spheres was written in blood runes so no one could accidentally discover how to operate the spheres.
We did the blood thing again with Kazak on the blank scroll and it filled in runes from the top to the bottom. A couple of the party members worked on the scroll while the next day the other three went to the seers and the library to learn anything about Falconhand, Crispani, Double Dagger, or Sun Sphere.
We learned that there the land known to be the Sunderstone’s was in the Dusty Mountains between Ponyboro and Orihalcus and was situated just south of the Copper Bottom River near a keep called Fulgore Keep (named for Fulgore Sunderstone). There is a mountain area there called Double Dagger Mountain but no mention of a dungeon. There is also near it a valley called Crispani’s Vale. There is no record of Crispani ever succeeding against a necromancer nor any mention of strange necromancy in that area.
As for the blood runes we learned that it would take a manastone to operate and to be mounted on a staff 2 inches taller than whoever wanted to use it. We went to Dumethian and asked around for any maps of the area in question and got one from him for a small fee.
Then we scoured the town for adventuring gear and decided to hire on some people for the expedition. 2 porters, at least 1 slinger, 1 heavy footman, 1 guild thief, and one full partner mage. We wanted to be off the next day (Workmonth the 10th) to maximize our chance of finding another Sunstone before the Fellowship of the Scale did.