The armored wagon, heavily laden with dwarven relics wrested from the hands of orcs and derro, reached the town of Hadden just before the gates were closed for the night. Frugal as ever, the band pulled the wagon into a handy stable yard and spent the night on the bunks. All except Lahfawnduh and Vorlakk, who slipped away to find the seediest drinking establishment they could deep in the smelter district.
The next day Jeton returned to the dwarven sage to arrange the return of the dwarven relics and payment in return, and relay the story of their discovery. The sage was astonished and overjoyed to hear of a forgotten settlement cleared of enemies and ready to be reclaimed, and even moreso when he discovered that the party had retrieved the Hammer of Moradin belonging to the settlement’s temple. He invited the entire band to a celebration in the evening to commemorate it’s return.
Meanwhile, Nala and Tim returned to the castle to claim the bounty for their sack full of orc ears. The clerk paying out bounties was shocked and scampered off, returning a moment later with the handsome Captain of the Guard, Lota, a green and copper scaled dragonborn. He was suitably impressed with the party’s exploits, and accepted Tim’s request to spend some time drilling the guards while he and Nala.. discussed her adventures.
Returning to the wagon, Nala and Tim set off again to track down the drow and goliath and inform them of the ceremony that evening. On the way back, they found themselves being trailed by a young ruffian. Their stalker signaled to two others when the band ducked into an alley: a shadowy figure in black armor stalking the rooftops, and a rag-wrapped beggar who ducked into an adjacent alley. Tim shouted insults at their stalker as he attempted to walk nonchalantly past their alley, but after twitching his hand towards a concealed weapon the figure dissapeared and they made their way to the dwarf quarter without further incident.
Framboise, though, was not so lucky. Returning to the wagon after an afternoon spent in the temple of the Raven Queen, he spotted a figure lurking in the shadows near the wagon where Hadarai was studying. When challenged, the figure dissapeared, and before Framboise could investigate he was struck in the back by a dagger flung by a shadowy figure across the street. By the time he could pull out a sunrod and light it both had dissapeared.
Kat, newly remade as the Raven Queen’s paladin, spent the afternoon investigating the temple district, and was disturbed to find a larger than normal number of doom-sayers and mad would-be prophets. Confronting one only gleaned crazed mumblings about the dark rising again to destroy the world, consuming it from beneath.
The ceremony that night consumed much of the dwarven quarter, with casks of fine ale and whiskey rolled out for the occasion. The high priest of Moradin gave thanks to the party and added Moradin’s blessing to Nala’s Avandra-gifted mace, imbuing it as a +1 Medic’s Weapon. The rest of the evening was spent in drink and revel, until late in the night when the band was called upon to recount the tale of their victory in the lost fortress and the hall came alive with discussion of just what the party witnessed meant. A few worried that the doomsayers were right and the sighting of such a darkling force meant the Dark was ready to rise again, but they were quickly shouted down by those who believed such a force, while cause for concern, was not likely to threaten a large city, much less civilization itself. However, maps were retrieved and poured over in search of a possible destination for the dark army. Some thought perhaps they made for Ambenar along the dwarven Underway, but it seemed unlikely they would pose much of a threat to the great fortress city unless there were dozens of other such groups under way. In the end the consensus seemed to be that there was no way to know their true destination without investigating the path they had taken. Others suggested searching other darkling sites in search of evidence of who had gathered such an army, or researching the branded leaders who seemed to keep order amongst the normally hostile races. All agreed that gathering such a diverse group of darklings together without them falling upon each other would require a being or beings of great power. Mention was made of the derro’s worship of the primeval That Which Crawls Below (aka the Gnawer At The Roots Of The World) and/or the illithids as the masterminds behind it, but again not enough solid information was available. Of the party’s stalkers none could offer any information, though Lota promised to have his men investigate.
The evening winding on, Nala departed with the Captain and Tim followed the sages back to their library to seek out tomes of new languages to learn while the rest of the party plotted a counter-ambush for their stalkers. Setting out with Vorlakk, Jeton and Kat in plain view, flanked in stealth by Lahfawnduh, Framboise and Hadarai, sure enough not half an hour had passed before a figure stepped out of an alley behind the group, only to have his surprise neatly spoiled by a scorching burst from the wizard. More ambushers emerged from the alleys and rooftops: the street tough that had tailed Tim and company and the beggar approached from opposite directions, and the figure in black leather revealed itself to be a mad-eyed young woman as she lept from the rooftops to attack. All four attacked, but the group quickly gained the advantage, isolating the beggar (revealed as a warlock as he pulled a wand and began slinging curses) while Kat and Hadarai took control of the battlefield with ice and fire. The ambushers wounds healed with supernatural speed, and their true nature was revealed when the youth, cornered, transformed mid-lunge into a rat-faced humanoid creature and sunk filthy teeth into her. The grizzled veteran, called Barchan by his fellows, was the first to fall, struck down by Hadarai as he attempted to flee the battle, followed by the nameless youth, crushed into a wall by Vorlakk’s mighty hammer. The warlock, attempting to flee in the form of a dire rat, was pinned under Framboise’s glaive, and finally the assassin Aenya’s throat was slit by Lahfawnduh’s flashing blade, but not before her blade and the warlock’s foul corruption dropped Kat. During the chaos of the battle another figure, perhaps the Ronan that the warlock and youth called out for when things turned dire, emerged from the alleyways to attempt to save Barchan, but was forced to flee after getting his ally concious again.. only to have him smashed to the ground again by Vorlakk.
And so the session ends, with Kat being nursed back to conciousness, two wererats dead and two unconcious. Bodies looted, the following is found:
- +1 distance dagger looted from the wererat assassin
- A badge of the berserker also found on the assassin’s body
- +1 cloak of resistance worn by the grizzled wererat
- +1 amulet of protection retrieved from the mangled remains of the street tough
- +1 cloth armor worn by the warlock, artfully disguised as tattered rags using a few bits of cloth and liberal application of mud.
- 2 deep red garnets, worth 100gp each in a leather pouch in Barchan’s purse.
- 50sp or so in each of the rat’s purses (totaled to 20gp and added to the loot list)
Next up: The joys of interrogating regenerating creatures
Bonus: Filth Fever!