Monday, December 15, 2008

SESSION EIGHT "The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Hit"

Huddled in the midst of the old fortress ruins, the group comes to a decision to advance uphill and toward whatever forces are mustering against them. As they weave their way through the wreckage of what must have been in the distant past a formidable structure, Rory spots a Kudra warrior. It disappears in the fog before they can attack.

A short time later Grog nearly falls into a hole in the ground. Examination reveals a mostly collapsed passage leading into the hill. Tristan can't find any trace of the passage being used by anything more than small animals. The space is tight and after brief consideration they decide to move on and leave the hole behind.

The ground flattens out, though the ruins still surround them. Rory, who has taken the scouting position several paces ahead of the rest of the party, spots a quick flare of fiery light that instantly arcs skyward and towards them. He yells out a warning just before the object crashes down and explodes in their midst. Everyone dives for cover but Shujen and Gerty aren't quite fast enough. Their injuries are light.

Two more of the clay fire pots sail through the darkness and explode among the group. Still desperately trying to wipe the foul, burning liquid off from the last blast, Gerty is scorched and thrown head over heals over Tristan by another of the missiles. She cries out in pain and rolls around trying to put out the flames before passing out. The rest of the group rips her burring armor off and thankfully puts out the fire, but the damage has been done.

As they take what cover they can find, Grog performs what first aid he can on Gerty as a rasping Kudra voice cries out, "We have you surrounded. Surrender or die!"

A quick discussion rules out surrendering and a charge seems unadvisable. With Gerty unconscious they decide their best course is sneak back to the passage and quickly explore it as a possible escape.

After determining that the passage is passable by everyone, and that it at least continues a short way into the hill, they file in as quietly as possible. With a tremendous show of strength, Grog pulls a heavy stone slab over the opening behind them. By the glow of Shujen's light stone they descend into the hill.

The passage turns out to be of an extra large design and very damp. As soon as they determine that they will not immediately be followed by their enemies, Shujen sets out to heal Gerty and Rory explores further. A partially submerged fountain room lies beyond, illuminated by strange, glowing algae in the water. Beyond that room lies a short passage and two sets of stairs.

When Gerty comes to after her healing, she informs the group that the passage and ruins are of Firbolga design. Rory finds a finely crafted, unrusted shortsword within the fountain's bowl.

As they are deciding which stairway to try out, Grog suddenly remembers the Kudra he has tied up in his bag. A combination interrogation/torture session follows where they learn the following tidbits from the uncooperative captive. He serves a being called Lord Grist (who apparently will kill them all) and there is another important figure by the name of Master Scrank (who apparently will kill them all too). Grog repackages the captive Kudra and stows him away for later use, with the evil creature's last muffled words being, "I will pee pee in your bag!"

Trying both the stairs they discover that both pretty much dead end, but the left one has a very tight crawlspace that leads outside. Rory checks it and discovers what he believes to be the kidnapped citizens of Aronsborough. Grog will never fit though however.

At an impasse, the group begins searching the walls for hidden doors. Gerty's knowledge leads her to believe that all Firbolga dwellings were riddled with Slave passages. Their search pans out when they find a stuck door in the fountain room. Another display of "Grog Power ™" opens the stone door and the group is soon on the surface again.

Rory climbs a tree from which he can see a line of figures moving away through the fog. The captives perhaps? He can't be sure.

The group decides to backtrack the trail and finds the wood-lashed cells where the captives were being held. Moving down the trail the opposite way they come to a clearing with much activity. A huge, intact tower sits to one side of the clearing with a massive, giant-sized door in its south wall. From hiding they witness an eighteen foot Morodos swathed in dark wools speaking with none other than Master Greyleg and the mercenary Kirith Syvani, Spider. Daagar soldiers mill about the clearing.

The Aronsborough prisoners are led into the tower as the adventurers decide on a plan. It is decided that Rory will get a closer look while cloaked in an invisibility spell, while the others fortify themselves with Ewald and Shujen's protective spells in preparation for an attack.

Greyleg and Spider depart the clearing, presumably heading back to their boat. The robed Kudran figure from the rooftop battle arrives in the clearing as well. Next to him shuffles a blurry figure that most closely resembles a skinless, ten foot tall weasel with elongated arms and wickedly extended claws. Shujen and Ewald both immediately recognize the creature as a demon - a blasphemous enemy of the natural order. The Kudra sorcerer and the demon both enter the tower.

At closer quarters thanks to his invisibility, Rory spots their prize tucked into the nine foot high belt of the giant presumed to be "Lord Grist". The magical rod fits the description they were given perfectly. When he feels sure the others are prepared he makes his move.

Calling a globe of fire into existence on Lord Grist's head he nimbly jumps and grabs the scepter from the giant's belt and rolls away with the prize. The battle commences as the heroes charge the clearing.

The giant quickly bats away the fire and roars as Grog, Gerty and Ewald start chopping at his legs, scoring several damaging blows that serve to enrage the giant. Thankfully they manage to avoid any of Lord Grist's attacks, though even a strong parry by the giant's huge mace sends their axes and swords flying.

It's not long before the demon comes charging out of the tower and joins the battle. Tristan and Rory attack the Daagar soldiers with swords and fire, all the while keeping one eye peeled for the possible return of Greyleg and Spider.

Then the world goes dark.

Yes, once again the brave heroes find themselves swathed in magical darkness as the enemies favorite trick gets played again with great effect. Not only do the Daagar seem capable of seeing in the inky blackness, but Lord Grist seems unhindered as well.

Doing the perhaps smart thing, Tristan, Rory and Ewald retreat out of the darkness. Doing perhaps something other than the smart thing, Grog continues to battle the giant. In the dark. And blind. No one is sure where Gerty is until her battle cry can be heard from within the tower itself, showing that her choice was to advance instead of retreat. Or maybe she just got turned around?

In any case, it is only Ewald's shield of faith and maybe Shujen's blessings that keep Grog from getting tapped by the business end of Lord Grist's mace. Tristan summons a whirling, glowing sword of faith and continues to attack in the general direction of the giant, keeping his attacks high enough to hopefully avoid damaging his deranged, Hodran friend.

Then a blood curdling Kudra scream comes from the tower. With it's ebbing the magical darkness lifts and Ewald sees Gerty standing within the tower, her great axe buried in the skull of Master Skrank. At this distance he is unable to help as he then sees the demon let loose with a terrible, disemboweling swipe that sends Gerty over the lip of a giant hole within the tower. Her screams end abruptly.

Once again able to see their foes, the heroes renew their attacks. The demon charges back into the clearing. Shujen and Ewald concentrate on the demon as Grog continues to battle Lord Grist. Rory, in desperation attempts what their dragon Mistress' forbid - to use the rod. Gripping it tightly he thinks "Death to the demon" as he points it at the creature. Rory's arms sort of tingles as the demon sneers and attempts to rip a hole in Shujen's side.

So much for magical rods of ultimate power.

Tristan, having a moment to consider his options, decides to try his trusty bow on the giant in hopes of hitting something a bit more vulnerable than Lord Grist's armored ankles. His first shaft clangs loudly off the giant's helmet, but the second sinks into Grist's unprotected cheek, causing the powerful Morodos to scream in pain and make a hasty retreat toward the tower.

Grog is slow to follow, having been somewhat dazed and winded from avoiding the worst of the giant's attacks. (let us remember that fighting opponents larger than himself is something of a new experience for Grog.)

At the doors to the tower Lord Grist throws his weapon within and grabs hold of the handles as a line of Kudra bowmen let loose with a volley of arrows. With Tristan's fletched shaft still jutting from his face
he takes a great lungful of air and breaths out a horrid, wreaking fog over the clearing, then slams the doors closed.

The effects on those in the clearing is horrible and instant. All but Shujen get the rancid smoke into their lungs and eyes and fall to the ground coughing and spitting up bile, helpless to defend themselves. We should note that one other seems unaffected. The demon smiles a wicked, weasely grin and does his best to end Tristan's life.

Although overcome from the effects of the giant's breath weapon, Tristan manages enough of a defense to keep the demon's attack from being deadly, but still takes a nasty wound.

Shujen sends his magical spell blade into the demon's exposed back.
Ewald shakes off his condition long enough to sink his axe into the beast that killed Gerty and the beast dissolves in a hissing puddle of acid.

Silence falls over the clearing.

Eventually all in the group recovers from the stinking breath of the giant. Rory aids Tristan in taking Wical Illiana's healing potion, which slowly begins to knit the wound.

With Ewald's axe, Grog begins chopping furiously at the weathered but still strong oak of the reinforced tower doors.

Tristan, Ewald and Rory have what they were required to retrieve. Mistress Tashea's magical scepter has been recovered. But the Aronsborough prisoners might still be alive within the tower, and Grandma Gerty, or at least her body, is still inside.

Grog seems eager to continue the chase, and though the doors are very thick, they will eventually yield to the psychotically strong Hodra.

Friday, November 7, 2008

SESSION SEVEN "Daagar in the Mist"

Session Date: Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Adrift in the thickening mist of the fens, the group spends a few minutes getting things in order and unsuccessfully searching for the lost boat pole. Once they figure out the pole is well and truly gone, they lash the two boats together, tail-to-nose. Shujen the summons his owl to lead the group in the direction of the enemy.

A half candle later, with owlish help, they hear the enemy boat and soon see the dim glow of a torch in the fog. They come upon a large block of hewn stone, and other signs of an ancient ruin ahead. Being extra quiet, Rory is able to spot a Daagar sentry and at least two other figures briefly in the fog. They skirt the area and move around what is apparently a large land mass, coming ashore in the reeds to the left of the enemy landing.

Trying for as much quiet as possible, with some members in field plate, the group moves upslope from the boats with Rory in the lead. Rory soon spots another Daagar sentry and motions the others down. Using his invisibility spell, he sneaks up on the sentry. He's about to sink a Daagar axe into a Daagar neck when he spots a second figure near the sentry, this one with a bow.

Perplexed by the additional hidden figure he decides to carry through his sneak attack and drops the Daagar with one good blow -and is promptly fired upon from the hidden archer as he becomes visible. Jumping nimbly to cover he motions the rest of the party up as the archer puts mouth to horn and blows a warning alarm.

Grog smiles and laughs, seemingly glad to be done with the sneaking portion of the mission.

Shujen sends his owl after the hidden archer as answering horns are heard further up the hill. Ewald takes advantage of the moment to hastily don the Daagar's leather armor as Grog rifles the corpse for loot. A terrible shriek puts an end to the archer's warnings. The group moves uphill and finds Shujen's owl badly injured and the enemy archer (a strange, black-skinned kudra with white irises) unconscious and dying from horrible injuries to the face and neck.

With the enemy forces warned, the group moves further left through the ruins, hoping to at least find a better tactical position. Rory spots more enemy forces taking cover above them and Grog smells enemies along the shore behind them. It's not long before Kudra arrows, fired at severe arcs, begin to hit the ground and stones near the group.

Fearing they will soon be flanked and in serious danger from arrowfire, they decide to take the battle to their enemies. Ewald envelopes Gerty and Grog with his Shield of Faith spell and Shujen casts a Protection from Evil spell. Thus readied, Grog and Shujen head downhill to engage the enemy below while the rest of the party charges the enemy forces above.

Grog's fear-inducing charge renders the Kudra archers he his facing helpless with fear and he quickly smashes one to a pulp before the Daagar warriors with them can react. Above, Gerty and Ewald dodge arrows while Tristan and Rory trust to their speed and armor to charge the enemy. Stopping short of the Daagar warriors, Rory summons his Flaming Sphere on the head of an enemy archer, who screams in pain and terror.

Above and below, the adventurers cut (and burn) down the enemy, taking mostly minor wounds in the conflict. An exception is a nasty, chain splitting cut to Tristan's ribs that's sure to leave a bruise, but is of only light, immediate concern. As the last of the current round of enemies fall, the heroes regroup. Gerty strips another Daagar of his armor and dons it herself as Rory senses something from higher in the ruins.

"Uhh, guys, I think something is being summoned..."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SESSION SIX "The Battle of Many Splashes"

After wrapping up their affairs with Captain Ranald (who expressed his thanks) and accompanying Rory to the Temple, the group returns to the Gilded Rose. Grandma Gerty, having seen the fire from Thurgood's place on the edge of town, also rejoins the group.

In the morning, the group splits up to pursue different leads around town. The time limit for their mission is quickly approaching and they are desperate for a substantial lead. Ewold and Tristan go back to the guild hall to speak with Master Raymond, the GuildMaster about meeting with "MacAngus" concerning possible future business. Master Raymond explains that MacAngus is to meet with the Fiscal from the castle today to finish the trade and collect his moneys, and he will see if he can arrange an introduction directly after.

Meanwhile Grog and Shujen head down to the docks with Captain Ranald to procure a boat capable of traversing the marshes. Having just heard this morning through Gerty's Mercenary contacts that a Border Knight who is currently staying at the castle might be interested in "avenging" the damage done to some of the clan warriors by Grog, Shujen decides that it's best to get in a little better with the authority figures in town, and keep Grog in Captain Ranald's good graces. Getting into the spirit, Grog decides to make a gift of one of his Great swords to the Captain. Ranald is somewhat taken aback by the gesture but accepts the sword with good grace.

While at the docks, they learn the very suspicious news that the Rivermaster's best marsh boat was stolen last night. He offers them his two next best, shallow draft curraghs on condition that he get them back in one piece. Captain Ranald procures a cart and donkey and they head back to the Gilded Rose.

Rory wakes in the Mistress' temple, healed of his head wound, but still somewhat weak. Rightfully nervous in a Wical temple, he begs off further aid and decides to make his way back to the Gilded Rose. The Head Mistress, insists that a Wicala accompany him and he thanks her and heads off. On the way back to the inn, he and the Wicala see a Mogdan Wical hauling a death cart. Stopping the deathpriest he learns that the owner of the Purple Taper was killed last night. Fearing the worst, he pulls back the shroud and discovers his Aransborough contact, the one who first gave him info on Greyleg, has been murdered.

Back at the Guild Hall, Ewold takes an opportunity to cast a Detect Evil spell and check out both MacAngus and the Fiscal from afar. Neither one shows signs. He then attempts to examine the wagons for magic, but his spell goes wrong and he ends up with spell-induced nausea and a splitting headache without learning anything about the wagons' contents. Tristan meets with MacAngus, who doesn't seem to recognize, or suspect him of anything. They talk business briefly and MacAngus promises to "do what he can" to aid the MacTaggarts in future business dealings.

Though Ewold still isn't feeling too well, the two then decide to follow the Fiscal, who eventually leads them back to the keep, with no suspicious stops or actions along the way.

With everyone back at the Gilded Rose, Rory feeling somewhat recovered and Ewold feeling better from his spellcasting mishap, they decide to head out into the marsh, knowing that the party that stole the boat might also be out there. Just for curiosities sake, Rory checks on MacAngus' camp one more time, both for signs of the boat and signs of the camps current activities. The wagons appear empty and the guards sit around the fire. MacAngus himself is spotted.

Later, at the old campsite on the borders of the marsh, the boats are put into the water and some of the group chooses to divest themselves of their chainmail, for fear of drowning should they be knocked into the water. Shujen declines to leave his field plate behind.

Underway, Shujen summons his owl to lead them and they laboriously crisscross the waterways of the marsh, ever heading inward and eastward. It begins to grow dark and large frogs are seen on the water's edge. At nightfall, the group decides to stop and make camp on one of the larger "islands". Through Tristan's survival skills they manage a very nice camp, even making use of the local flora to make a passable bug deterrent. With a cozy fire to keep them warm, they keep two man watches and turn in.

During the first watch, Grog spots a faint light out on the marsh. His nightvision is able to discern a largish boat passing them by at 100 yards or more. He wakes the others and Shujen curses and quickly smothers the fire, though it's obvious by this point that they must have been spotted. A decision is quickly made to follow the boat and the camp is hastily torn down. They set off with Grog leading and the other boat occasionally being spotted through the night mists. With determination and good navigation they start to draw closer when they spot a purplish glow from their quarry's boat. The gifted among the party immediately recognize it for spellwork and draw their weapons.

Soon after, they are attacked by giant, dark shapes hurtling through the air and trying to knock them into the water. Closer inspection reveals their foes to be pony-sized frogs with glowing red eyes. Grog has his boat pole ripped from his grip by a sticky tongue and Shujen is nearly knocked overboard (which would be seriously bad considering his armored state). Tristan attempts to shoot the frogs but the combination of darkness and the rocking boat makes it too difficult. He is knocked overboard and so is Rory, who takes a nasty bite and begins to sink. Grog's quick hand rescues Rory and the tide of the battle turns as the group is able to set up and attack their targets as they jump.

It's bloody, slimy work, but they manage to chop, dice and skewer the remaining amphibians and haul Tristan and Rory back into the boat. Unfortunately, the delay was enough to lose the enemy boat in the thickening mist and the group is left wet and adrift.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The First Five Sessions

Another Unisystem offshoot. This time we're back to an old creation of mine, Aeranos. We're using a modified DnD spell list.



SESSION ONE. "An Old Tower"

The village of Dunsmuir. Seat of the MacTaggart clan lands on the northern borderlands between Argos and Deoria.

The youngest of Laird James Malcolm MacTaggart's sons, Tristan MacTaggart, is out on a hunting trip in the hilly forests near his home. With him is Ewald, a Durin diplomat from Steel Mountain and Rory, a Kirith Syvani villager from Dunsmuir.

On the third night of their trip, their pack horse is stolen away while they sleep. While tracking the thief the next morning, they don't find the horse, but Rory is contacted telepathically by a celestial being naming herself Tesha Stormswallow. She claims to be trapped in a tower nearby and requests the parties aid to free her.

Drawing near the tower, they are ambushed by two Forest Mulcher's, enchanted plant creatures that resemble great, undulating masses of brambly vines, leaves and earth. Ewald's horse is brought down by the creatures and Rory's horse is scared off before the creatures are destroyed with axe, sword and magic.

At the crumbling tower, they are attacked by Assassin vines when they try to enter. Again they are eventually successful in destroying and burning the vines, but not before Tristan's leg is horribly wounded, beyond the group's ability to heal magically. Despite their desire to free the celestial prisoner, they are forced to return to Dunsmuir for healing.


SESSION 2. "No Good Deed"

Equipped with a healing potion from the Mistress' servant, Wical Illiana, the group returns to the tower several days later. Though the place seems to be in ruins, when they enter a fire starts up in the hearth and magical boar's head mounted on the wall invites them to take their ease. It also warns them not to go further into the tower.

When Ewald tries, the flames shoot from the hearth and attempt to set him on fire. The three adventurers survive the attack and continue into the tower proper. They pass up several doors in hopes of avoiding additional traps.

In the great room at the base of the tower they set off a lightning warded door and are attacked by two, wand wielding statues in what looks to be a wizard's study. They soon figure out the means to destroy the statues, by shattering the jewels at the tips of the wands.

By means of careful climbing they make their way to the top of the tower, which is in severe jeopardy of collapsing. They find a heavy, metal, locked door. The only way through requires Rory to unhinge the door. When it falls, it punches a hole through the floor and continues all the way to the bottom, sending Tristan crashing down with it. Fortunately, he escapes serious harm.

Inside the room, they find a magic circle and the celestial within it. She begs them to free her, promising to heal their injuries as partial payment of her debt. After some consideration of the possibility this might be a trap, they decide to free her by snuffing the magic candles that burn around the circle. Before their surprised eyes, she turns into a great green dragon and breathes a sleep inducing gas over them all.

When they wake, it's to find that they are the ones trapped in a circle, in a glade somewhere in the forest. The dragon reappears, this time once more in the human guise of a beautiful and powerful sorceress.

She allows them to live in thanks for freeing her from her prison. She also requires their service for the space of five years. The party has little choice but to accept, and upon doing so, she places a magical geas upon them to seal the bargain. Assuring them that she will be in touch, she flies away.


SESSION THREE "In Service to a Dragon"

Several uneventful months later Tristan finds a note on his pillow. On it is written, "The Rooster, Sundown." He's at first perplexed until he notices the stylized celtic dragon, drawn in green ink on the back of the parchment. He collects Ewald and Rory and goes to the Rooster, a small tavern in the village.

There he meets a traveling tinker who also works for the Green Dragon, whom they learn is called Tashea. This tinker, Oristain, conveys a mission they are to go on. A merchant from the south has stolen an important magical artifact and Tristan and the others are to retrieve it before he sells it to an unknown buyer in Aronsburough. They are told the artifact is a silver rod, about arms length. Glencul Greyleg, the thief, is going to make the sale in five days. They are warned that the artifact is dangerous.

They also meet up with an old friend of Ewald's known as Grandma Gerty. She's an old, tough as nails Durin warrior. Gerty offers to go along with the group for awhile, since she's not doing anything else at the moment.

Aronsburough is a town in Tristan's father's clanholdings. The four set of by horse and arrive the next day. They choose The Gilded Rose, a nice inn in the merchant's quarter, as their base of operations.

Tristan questions the Captain of the guard, Rory checks with a local fence he knows in town, Ewald checks with Thurgood, the Durin Forgepriest who runs a small shrine outside of town, and Gerty checks with her contacts in the Black Crows, the local mercenary guild. They're all checking to see if anyone has heard of a deal going down.

Tristan is the first to hear of a series of disappearances over the last ten-day. The guard captain, Ranald, tells him that men, women and children have gone missing during the night, with no signs of struggle and no one hearing or seeing anything. Though he's unsure if its at all related to their mission, Tristan promises to help.

Rory doesn't find much initially, beyond a little magical doodad he buys with some of the loot from the old tower. His source does offer to pass along any new info.

Ewald gets a little something from Thurgood, who tells him that while collecting water the other night he heard an evil sounding, flute-like music coming from the east side of town.

Gerty learns that this Glencul Greyleg person is a big deal in Moritasgus and some of the cities to the south. Her mercenary friends tell her that he walks with a severe limp, something even magic probably won't be able to hide well.

Their first night they decide to take a midnight stroll through town in hopes of finding a clue into the disappearances. They do, in the form of the the same eerie flute music that Thurgood spoke of. Unfortunately, the music seems to have some sort of magical effect on them and their all entranced before they can track it to its source. They wake in the early hours of the morning, cold and stiff from their trance and head back to the Gilded Rose.

SESSION 4 "The Plot Thickens"

Two new adventurer's arrive in town, Shujen the Beremian Knight, and Grog, his huge, warrior companion, with obvious Knockfar ancestry. As is their custom when entering a new town, Shujen first goes to the authorities, both to announce his arrival and see if there's anything he can help with, and to let the captain know that Grog is under his supervision.

The captain eyes Grog warily and tells Ser Shujen about the disappearances, suggesting that he go speak with Tristan and his group, who are also looking into the mystery. The two adventurers go to the Gilded Rose and introduce themselves.

Meanwhile, having learned of a new merchant caravan arriving in town from the south, with a merchant in the group who walks with a limp, Rory goes to check it out. With the aid of an invisibility spell, he finds the camp well guarded but searchable - all that is but a central tent. An older merchant with a limp, that otherwise doesn't fit the description of Greyleg at all, steps out the tent and seems on guard, almost as if he's aware of Rory's presence. Rory decides discretion is called for and departs the scene.

Back at the Gilded Rose, Rory tells the others what he's found just before Shujen and Grog arrive. Having introduced themselves and offered their aid in finding the missing people, the entire group goes off with a guard who has been sent to bring them to most local crime scene.

They question the clansman husband who lost his wife. Shujen seems very suspicious. Grog thinks the ale might have been tampered with. Rory finds evidence that a locked shutter may have been jimmied. He also finds signs of one or more people having been on the roof.

From here the group splits up. Shujen and Tristan taking horses to the edge of the nearby swamp, since it seems a likely spot for criminal kidnappers to be hiding, Ewald and Gerty going back to Durin temple to speak with Thurgood some more, Rory again walking the town, and Grog going down to a riverside tavern to ask some questions of the seedy element.

Rory, Ewald and Gerty don't have a great deal of luck.

Tristan and Shujen speak with some hunters from town and find an old campsite inside the outer edge of the boglands. Shujen summons his celestial eagle and instructs it to look for neran presence deeper in the bog and come back if it finds something. After nearly an hour it returns and tries to lead the two to it's find, but their prevented from following since the bog is too deep and dangerous for their horses. They resolve to come back later with a boat of some kind.

Grog on the other hand, gets his usual reception when trying to question some of the local warriors. A huge fight ensues on the dock of the riverside tavern, limbs are broken, consciousness' are lost and no questions get answered. Grog staggers back to the Gilded Rose, drunk and morose.

SESSION FIVE "Up On the Rooftop"

Once all are returned from their various missions (with the exception of Gerty, who chose to stay at the Forge temple and help Thurgood with some things), The original group decides to let Shujen and Grog in on a little more of their mission. They tell the new members everything except who their working for.

Meanwhile, Captain Ranald and four men with large crossbows arrive to give Grog a stern warning about causing any further disturbances in town. He's informed that any more problems will at least see him expelled from town, and at most see him dead. Grog wearily accepts the warning.

As they go back to discussing what's to be done next, Grog steps out onto the streetside to smoke his pipe, when he sees a man he assumes to be Greyleg walk by with two Neran guards and another Kirith Syvani warrior. The Half elf looks very competent and seems to assess Grog's threat level as they walk by. Grog moves back in to tell them what he saw.

A plan is quickly decided upon. Grog follows the merchant, Tristan and Ewald follow Grog. Rory and Shujen use the opportunity to go explore the merchant camp.

Grog attracts the attention of a pair of town guards as he follows the merchant to a Guild hall. He steps in and tries to get some information from the workers. Ewald and Tristan wait anxiously outside.

Rory and Shujen get near the camp before going invisible once more, with Rory's help. Rory distracts the guards while Shujen cuts a hole in the central tent and steps inside. He begins searching for magic.

Tristan heads around the back of the guild hall, to explore a bit more. Grog is inside the warehouse area.

Shujen finds a magical orb on a wooden pedestal in the main tent. It glows with strong magic and an eerie glowing spot on the orb swings around and seems to follow his movement. Disconcerted by this, Shujen decides to leave.

Back at the warehouse, Grog is about to climb the stairs to confront the merchant when the Kirith Syvani warrior comes hurtling down the steps and sprints out the door. The merchant and two guards come hurrying after and Grog stops them, trying to get some info. The merchant brushes him off claiming to be in a great hurry at the moment and also leaves.

Ewald watches first the Half Elf warrior and then the merchant and guards go moving quickly back toward camp.

Rory and Shujen are once again visible and nearly back to the Gilded Rose when they pass the Kirith Syvani on the trail from the camp. They eye each other warily but the Half elf continues on.

All once again at the Gilded Rose, they discuss the new developments. Whatever the orb was, it seemed to not only sense Shujen's presence but also alert the merchant. This combined with the hole in the tent means the merchant will undoubtedly know that someone was snooping. The fact that the Kirith Syvani pass Rory and Shujen on the trail from the camp means they might make the connection with the group.

Rory makes another visit to his fence-friend where he learns that the Half Elf warrior is a former gladiator named Spider. An extremely skilled swordsman who if rumor proves true, also wears gloves because his very touch is poisonous.

It being night, and without anything further to do with the merchant at the moment, the group decides to head out on another midnight patrol. This time with Beeswax earplugs to hopefully provide some protection from the magical flute.

During their patrol, Rory (the only one not wearing earplugs) hears the music and heads towards it. Pinpointing the houses, he climbs to the roof and sneaks towards the source of the music (earplugs back in). He spots several crouched, cloaked figures on the roof, one obviously playing the wind instrument. Even with the plugs he is partially overcome by the music and slightly befuddled. He casts a light above the group's heads to pinpoint their location for his friends.

Done with waiting, Grog leaps to the roof and is charged by what turns out to be pale skinned Durin with mace, axe, crossbow and shields. A melee on the rooftop ensues as the flute playing figure leaves off with the music and douses Rory's with an inky darkness that envelops most everyone on the roof.

The evil dwarves are eventually brought down, but not before critically injuring Rory with a nasty head wound. The magic using figure and one of the durin escape through magical flight and set the roof of the houses on fire with fiery rays. Ewald kicks one of the Durin bodies off the roof to save it from the fire. The rest either work in giving first aid to Rory or saving the clanspeople in the houses.

Grog heroically enters the burning building as saves the families within. By this time the whole town is awake and fighting the fire. Rory is stabilized with Ewald's magic and the help of the local Wicala of the Mistress.

Grog makes presents of the Dagaar's simple possessions to the peasant children (Ewald is able to identify the evil dwarves as dark offshoots of the noble Durin who dwell deep in the Underdark).