Upon our exit from the mining site, we intrepid warriors held a council to determine our next course. Some argued that we should return to Fallcrest to reap the rewards of our vanquished foes from Lord Markelhay. Erich explained that though he would welcome the bounty, he still needed to return to Blackroot to investigate the strange occurrences there. He also reminded us that his adventuring with us was done on the premise that we would return the favor.
“So be it,” squeaked Avanta. We decided to aid Erich and headed north through the Winterbole Forest to the frontier town of Blackroot.
Upon our arrival, we notice that there was a strong sense of xenophobia. Most of the townsfolk walked around us. Few would look at us, and if we caught their glance, they would look down and quickly walk away. “These independent territories are all alike,” Peleous muttered. They don’t know what to make of ‘strangers.’ Surely we three need to ‘blend in’, eh Avanta…Kerric?
“We need to find my friend, Doria Veladar. She was the one who summoned me,” said Erich.
“Let’s get something to drink first,” commanded Noname.
We walked into the local tavern where we learned that the town is governed by Torash, of the Ruling House of Thrashk. After a few mugs of ale, we thanked the innkeeper and made our way out. Someone in the bar must have overheard our conversation because as soon as we had exited, Torash himself approached us. “I am Torash, the town Reave.”
Torash’s demeanor could best be described as “aggressive.” “The Veladar family moved to another town. You can use their house tonight, but you had best be on in the morning. We are a simple folk and we don’t want any trouble.”
“Thank you for your troubles. We shall be on in the morning as you ask,” said Erich. But, as soon as Torash was away, Erich turned to us and said, “He’s lying! Let’s go to Doria’s and check the place out. Something doesn’t seem quite right.”
We arrived at the house. Avanta senses a strong arcane presence. We cautiously enter, weapons not drawn, but at the ready. Once inside, we notice that there was a struggle at the house. We noticed some blood on the floor. What was unusual was that there was no forced entry. We inspect the area more carefully and found a necklace with the leather strap broken. Avanta recognizes that the necklace bore the holy symbol of “the dragon below.”
We continued our investigation, but found nothing else. Soon, our weariness soon took over. We decided to rest for the night. “We need to be wary. I got a bad vibe from the town,” said Kerric. “And this apparent scuffle doesn’t sit with me either,” said Erich. As always, we set up our watch. Fortunately for us, it was uneventful…and we were finally proffered a well earned respite.
We woke the next morning and decided to walk the town and see if we could glean any more information on what may have happened. There is a open air market in the town center which looked promising.
Kerric looks around, and doesn’t see much. Avanta and Erich search for the Reave, but are unable to find him.
Peleous and Noname were approached by an Orc. “If you know what’s good for you, you will go away.” Peleous quickly grabbed Noname’s hand, and explained to the Orc that they didn’t want any trouble…that they were just looking around. [The Orc was fortunate, for had not Peleous stayed Noname’s hand, the Orc would have lost his head.] Peleous intuited that the Orc seemed more shifty and…afraid, more than he seemed to be a threat. Knowing the inherent nature of Orcs, Peleous is able to question the Orc more in particular…Reaching for his satchel and drawing forth a small bag of gold, Peleous stated, “We are looking for someone…someone by the name of Veladar. Perhaps you may have some information for us?” Peleous seductively shakes the bag of gold…the jingling of the coins apparently capturing the Orc’s attention.
“I know nothing.”
“Are you sure?”
“Maybe. But give me the bag first, and I’ll tell you what little I do know.”
“Fair enough.” Peleous hands the bag over to the Orc. After looking inside to verify that there really was gold in the bag, the Orc said, “All I know is that there is something going on to the northwest of here. There is a ceremony that takes place. That’s where all the townsfolk go. That’s all I know.”
“THAT’S IT!” grumbled Noname. He began to draw his sword when Peleous again stopped him.
“As you can see, my associate doesn’t like being lied to or taken advantage of.”
“I swear, that’s all I know!”
“We believe you, but if you are lying, then you will have to answer to the both of us!”
“I am not afraid of either of you!”
“Oh…but you will be!”
“Hmmmph…” and with that, the Orc turned his back and walked away.
We found the rest of our band, relayed the story and headed to the northwest.
Skill challenge: 545 XP (125/ea)
Heading northwest, we came upon a cave guarded by two heavily armed orcs.
“Let’s skin them,” claimed Noname.
“No,” said Erich. “We don’t want to raise an alarm. Remember, we want to find Doria. If they get suspicious, they may harm her.”
“I hope she is worth it. I don’t like this sneaking around stuff,” said Noname.
Avanta has an idea and leads the group toward the guards. He donned the amulet that we found at Doria’s and claimed that we were part of the ‘ceremony’. Our intimidating ploy must have worked because the guards didn’t know what to think of this little gnomic bard having absolute control over our party. The fact that Avanta could command the obeisance of Noname had the guards thinking twice about question, much less crossing, the little guy. Therefore, they let us in without further trouble.
Skill challenge: 650 XP (135/ea)
We walk inside the cave and see bloodlines and glyphs eerily lining the walls. Erich touches the wall and tries to understand what it all means. He is visibly shaken and thrown back by psychic backlash. Avanta, however, succeeds in interpreting them and determines that the glyphs morph into the names of the people that are missing, presumably those that are taken against their will and are part of this ceremony to which the orc in town was alluding. “It the Hall of Living Words,” Avanta announces.
We round the corner and we come upon pulsing lines of crimson light. The light covers the floor and appears to “slither.” This column of light is a swirling, undulating mass that fills the area with a dim aura.
“Wait guys,” Avanta warns. “This doesn’t seem right.” Avanta examines the light and gets the feeling that it would let him pass. He successfully goes in, and the eerie light is extinguished.
Skill challenge: 500 XP (100/ea)
Pelous goes in and notices three defaced shrines. Reaching back into his memory, he realizes that these were the shrines for Arawai, Balinor, and Oladria. <successful>
Erich hears an low guttural chanting coming from deeper inside. Peleous heard it too and is able to decipher the chant. “He who watches behind each eye.”
We move on, following the source of the chants. They get louder the further we go in. We see dim lights as we round the corner.
Erich raises his hands in silence, signaling us to hold our position. He then shifts into a spider, and uses his Skittering Sneak ability to blend in without being noticed. [Aside: given the laws of the conservation of mass, which must hold true in any universe, I am often at a loss to explain how a 6 foot spider is anything but unnoticeable!] Erich reports that he has witnessed an evil rite!!!
TOTALS: XP: 1695 (339/ea) Treasure: Necklace with Holy Symbol (the Dragon Below)…worn by Avanta.