Lost Mine of Phandelver

Far Away Dangers

Hammer 9, Year of Three Sailing Ships, 1492 DR

Drysmorlin of House Duskryn was not bothered by the wintery Hammer winds that tried to tear his cloak off his slender shoulders. The cold didn’t bother the drow, as parts some caverns within the Underdark were as cold as any weather topside. What is more, Drysmorlin was thankful for the thick gray-black clouds that dulled the sky at the base of the Graypeaks, blocking out the vicious sun. As the emissary crunched delicately over the snowy hills, he was delighted that this part of his mission, at least, had been relatively painless.

Cresting the last of the hills that lay before the Graypeaks, Drysmorlin was taken aback by the army that sprawled before him in their “camp”. The entire spectacle was disjointed, with the forces of the Hobgoblin Chief Gantes dispersed around their regimented fires. On the eastern flank of the camp, Bugbears adorned in uncured furs and bone trophies lazed about in a disheveled heap, trash and debris cluttering the areas where they now napped. To the west Drysmorlin could just make the ranging forms of huge, cruel-fanged wolves, with goblins sitting atop their back. In all, Gantes had gathered an army of nearly fifty thousand for his winter campaign, and the Sword Coast had no idea the army was about to descend upon them.

Sometime later Drysmorlin sat in the command tent of Gantes. The wool walls of the tent were weather-stained, with only the cold keeping the splotches of mildew from spreading. Thick pillaged carpets, caked in grime, and stinking of rotting fabric, adorned the floors, and when Drysmorlin sat upon them, a cloud of lice erupted around him. After a time Gantes made his entrance.

Drysmorlin saw that Gantes was thick, even for a hobgoblin. His ugly orange-furred face was a ruin behind a scar that ran from his chin to wear his left ear must have once been. He wore a long lamellar coat of black leather, and yeti furred boots caked in mud. A huge stark white pelt of a winter wolf draped from his broad shoulders. A thick-bladed cleaver and shield hung over his back, clacking loudly with each of his heavy steps.

Gantes took no notice of the drow. Instead, the chief marched past the waiting emissary and sat down loudly atop a hardwood stool that was likely looted from dwarves. Gantes splayed his thick knees out in front of him and hunched over heavily, resting his thick chin in an even thicker scarred hand.

“Hail Chief-” Drysmorlin began with a supplicating dip of his slender chin.

“Drow wait,” Gantes commanded in broken common. His heavy voice seemed to reverberate the tent walls. “Others come. Then we hear words of liars.”

Drysmorlin capitulated with another nod. Showing no sign of offense at the chieftain’s barb.

Drysmorlin and Gantes sat in silence for a time, all the while the chief held the drow in his stare. Drysmordin was happy to hear the tent flap open behind him, and he could feel the chill wind and specks of snow as they was blown in.

First a bugbear clopped past the drow. The beast reeked of moldering fur and the spoiling remains of the hunks of meat and and entrails that matted his fur. The bugbear wore none of the heavy winter clothing that would be expected. Instead he wore iron shod boots and a thick leather belt that held up a moldering loan cloth. Heads, mostly elven and dwarves, hung from a broad studded-leather belt, all in various states of decay. As the bugbear passed Drysmorlin almost gagged from the stench. A thick garrote of spiked steel was looped around his belt, stained with dried blood and thick with rust. The creature nodded lazily to the chief before sitting down with a great thud, cross legged on the Gantes left. Redistributing his sizable girth, the bugbear paid no mind to the drow. Instead he began scratching at what little his loin cloth covered, before eating the lice that he had produced from his nethers.

“Him ”/characters/klarg" class=“wiki-content-link”>Klarg," Gantes barked. “She coming is Marrowsipper.”

No sooner had he said her name then a huge wolf padded into the tent. Not a wolf, Drysmorlin realized from the goblinoid features mixed with the lupine face, a barghest. The creature padded into the tent and stopped breifly to snuff at the drow. Without breaking stride she assumed her goblin form and sat on Gantes’s right. She wore a coat like Gantes, and thick boots, as well as a strange fur-trimmed conical helm that ended in a vicious spike.

“We all here,” Gantes said. "Cupbearer! As is custom, bring the drink so we may begin.

A bedraggled looking goblin ran into the room with a bladder full to bursting. He quickly placed four rough wooden cups in front of the those in attendance and began sluicing out a clumpy, curdled, drink that smelled strongly of spoiled milk. Drysmorlin waited for the others to toss back their cups. The liquid was thick and chunky, and the drow had to choke it down.

Klarg watched the slender face of the emissary and whooped a resonant chuckle. “Him no like fermented wolf’s milk.”

Choking down the last of the chunky liquid, Drysmorlin began anew. “Hail Chieftan Gantes, I offer good fortune from House Duskryn. I appreciate being granted this audience, and wish to congratulate you on this most impressive army.”

Gantes sat quietly for a moment and Drysmorlin was unsure whether to continue. Finally the chieftain spoke, and Drsymolin could swear his bones rattled.

“Drow slavers of the people. Drow killers. Drow tricksters. Drow no want anything that doesn’t benefit drow. House no matter. You want something. I decide if I want it. Or if I have Klarg choke the life out of you and add your head to his belt.”

Klarg perked up a little at the threat of his chieftain.

“Very well,” Drysmordin continued, letting all semblance of niceties vanish. “We do want something, and we have something to give. I see your maps, and plans,” the Drow said nodding towards some scrawled upon hides that roughly resembled the Sword Coast. You march upon Secomber next. It should fall quickly with your assembled might. However to do so, you must travel the corridor between the High Forrest and the Southwood. A force of this size will not easily go undetected by the woodland denizens within. Our house will cause distractions from the Highmoor, and the Evermoors, respectively. We orchestrate monsters launching raids into the forrest, pulling the attention away from the corridor for a time, allowing you to pass unmolested to Secomber. There is unrest within the Dessarin Valley that should allow you pass further west without much resilience, and from there you are nearly to the coast, and your goal."

“What is House’s ask?” Gantes asked after a time, his expression betraying none of his thoughts.

“In return,” Drysmorlin continued, his voice bereft of anything other than smug satisfaction, “We ask that you pass through the Dessarin Valley quickly. My master has interests there that are being pursued. There is no interest in having your creatures potentially destroy the plans. In addition, my master wishes you to route your course through a town known as ”/wikis/phandalin" class=“wiki-page-link”> Phandalin, and obliterate it and its people."

At the mention of Phandlain, Klarg’s mangled ears twitched. “I know this Phandalin, from my days with the Cragmaw. I had people to kill there, but they went and got themselves dead before I could. If you want Chieftain,” Klarg said turning to Gantes, “I can show the way.”

Gantes sat quietly, all the while with his gaze resting heavily on the drow. “Is that all?” He finally spoke.

“It is,” Drysmorlin responded. “But I offer you a warning as well. Do not break this pact, and once through, do not return to Dessarin Valley. My master cares not for the conquest of you and your rabble, save that if you return to the valley the skies will spit lightening, the rivers will rise and dash your soldiers, fire will rage where it was not, and the very earth will open to swallow you. Your horde is mighty Gantes, but my master’s power is mightier.”

Gantes dipped his chin in acknowledgement then said, “I will give your master my answer.”

Drysmordin smelled Klarg’s approach too late. He couldn’t comprehend how the slovenly creature had been able to maneuver behind him undetected so quickly, yet there it was. The drow felt the spiked wire of the bugbear’s garrote bite deeply into his flesh. Almost by instinct the drow shot his hands up to create space between his throat and the wire, but was forced to watch horrified as Klarg gave a quick tug, and the black skinned digits fell to the drow’s feet, severed at the knuckle.

Gantes rose and strolled toward the drow, gasping wetly for breath. Already the furs of his cloak were slick with his blood as the garrote cut into the slender neck. The hobgoblin chief produced a slim bladed dirk from his weapons-belt. With a grunt the hobgoblin ripped open drow’s garments, revealing the black chain shirt beneath.

Gantes looked disappointed briefly, then his eyes fell on the face of the suffocating emissary. He smiled, revealing broken and jagged yellow teeth, before raising the blade to Drysmorlin’s forehead and carving in the flesh, “I accept.”

As the blade parted his skin, and the life fled him, the last thing Drysmorlin heard was the throaty voice of Klarg sighing heavily before saying disappointedly. “Head has the message so Klarg can’t keep it.”

The Tale of Discord
A Past Remembered

5341 Netheril Year

And so it was that Kalsi’anon, the most favored and secreted land within the deserts of Calimshan, lived for a two millennia in peace and prosperity. The mythical oasis was known throughout legend as place of learning, introspection, and ultimate harmony, though few ever gained admittance. For Kalsi’anon was a sacred place, where only those invited to walk the lapis lazuli halls could enter.

The sanctity of this most blessed city was threatened as it never had been, three decades past, with the arrival of the Jin. The Jin, long enemies of the peaceful people of the desert, were known, yet their petty squabbles and selfish initiatives never posed a threat. Yet in the rule of Oron yn Yael yi Almraiven, the Jin aligned with powerful and evil primordials. These beings called themselves the Evil Elemental Princes and Princess, and served a strange power known as the Elder Elemental Eye. With their new found allies, the Jin threatened to bring war to Kalsi’anon, and shatter thousand of years of peace.

It was at this time of dire peril, that Sultan Oron and his first wife, Alya, were approached by an emissary of Shar, the blackest mistress. Normally one of that ilk would not be permitted within Kalsi’snon, however Shar’s ability to avert the impending disaster was known, and so Sultan Oron heard her offer. At the time Alya was round with child, and the Lady of Loss savored few things higher than the sorrow of a mother parted from her child.

Thus Shar’s compact was simple. She would divert the Jin and their primordial ally’s and in return, Oron and Alya’s child would bear her mark, forever to serve the Mistress of Night. Oron refused outright at first, yet after a time he had no choice. He acquiesced to Shar’s request.

Unbewknowst to any, Alya was pregnant with twins, and on the glorious day of their birth, the heirs to Kalsi’anon were born Assof yn Oron yn Yael yi Almraiven for the son, and Amalia yi Oron yn Yael yi Almraiven for the daughter. So sooner had the babes taken their first shrieking breath than Shar’s Emissary arrived, a demon of shadow and vilest putrescence.

“I have come to claim that which is my misstress’s,” The creature spoke. “You must choose which one I will take and mark.”

The son, Assof shrieked and wailed, even in his new life knowing the corruption that was in his fragile presence. Yet Amalia, was still. She made no sound, and though it not possible, seemed to return the black gaze of the demon she now beheld.

Though it pained him, Oron knew that Assof, as the son, though technically the later born, would be a more acceptable heir to the people of Kalsi’anon. And so, his heart heavy, he gave Amalia to the beast. The demon wrapped the newborn in his shadowy arms, and though the babe contorted, and her form changed, she did not make a sound.

“The babe is marked,” the demon hissed, “As in congruent with the arrangement. Yet I will not take her yet. I will come to claim her later, when you have come to love your daughter, and the loss will be the sweeter.”

Alya wailed at her child’s corrupted form. And the sanctified halls and gardens were heavy with the sorrow of Oron’s pact. Yet Shar upheld her bargain, and war never came to Kalsi’anon.

The next day, Sultan Oron called upon me, his humble advisor. He held his new daughter, his eyes heavy and red with sorrow and lack of rest.

“We will deny the black-bitch of loss this at least,” his imperial voice sounded aloud. “Amalia’s presence will cause only discord. For if her mother comes to love her, Shar’s bargain will be broken, as she will never surrender the child. You must take the child away from here, where her mother can never know her. Where I can never know her. Where we can never love her more than we do now. You must take this discord from us and keep it forever away from Kalsi’anon”

And so it was, that at my Sultan’s command, I fled with the child, to a remote hermitage that was sometimes used by contemplative scholars who visited Kalsi’anon. Knowing nothing of fatherhood, I raised the child as best I could. I called her Discord, in reference to the last instructions her father gave me, as I could never use her given name and risk discovery. ( Discord my child, as I came to know you as my own, should ever you read this, I am sorry. Sorry for my lack of knowledge in parenting, sorry for any mistakes I may have made, and sorry that I could not protect from a fate that you did not ask for.)

Now I lay near death, telling this story for the first time, as much has happened.I am not long for this world and hope to find the next life less cruel than this one.

First off the visitor came, strange and foreign. She knew of Discord’s past, or her parents bargain. She spoke of a pact that could be altered, as it was never freely given by Discord, and how it could be altered. She spoke with the girl in length, and when she departed, she left a strange and magnificent sword she called Myrkur with the child.

Days later, although it had been decades, I immediately recognized the sinister presence of the shadow demon that had visited Kalsi’anon upon the day of the heir’s birth. The voice of the shadow demon was filled with icy rage, and it raked me with ephemeral claws that tore my flesh as if they were solid steel.

“What has she done!” the creature shrieked as it struck. “My lady will have her payment, yet I cannot command her to come with me!”

As the creature raged I called to Discord, telling her to flee into the desert. After she had fled the beast’s rage subsided only slightly. Turning to me with a malevolent leer the creature spoke these words with finality.

“Your Sultan is not so clever, and neither is she,” The shadow demon spat. "My lady will have her due. If she cannot have the daughter, she will claim the son. And if she cannot the claim the son, the compact is broken, and she will allow the Jin to usher in the ruin of Kalsi’anon. For they, and their hatred, are eternal.

I write these words as the last of my life leaves me. For I may be the only one to know the danger that Discord (My beloved child), Sultan Assof, and Kalsi’anon are now in. This cannot die with me, for they must be warned. If not, I fear the worst, as both the heirs are lost, and the primordials return to to our land to claim that which Shar denied them.

I die a loving father, though I have no children of my own, and a faithful servant to the Sultanate of Kalsi’anon.

Vizier Alhambhir

Rosch and wizards sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Hammer 9, Year of Three Sailing Ships, 1492 DR

The Called, less Gundren Rockseeker but with the battlerager Quetson the Clanless, defeated Sir Bluto and his band of knights. Upon killing him they discovered that he was the same knight wanted in Waterdeep for a vicious massacre a few years back, at which time he had mysteriously disappeared.

Before progressing further into White Plume Mountain the Called took a long rest, seeking shelter in the Discord’s magically summoned shelter. As they rested, they noticed a large group of monsters waiting for the magical shelter to fall, anticipating the time when could savage the Called.

The Called made a quick dash further into the mountain, breaking through, and then holding off, the monsters while they escaped behind a secret door that could only be seen and opened, with Sir Bluto’s key. Their escape route ended in a strange terraced chamber filled with monsters. The Called fought their way past three manticores, but ended up needing to flee the chamber quickly, as a trapped safe shattered the walls of force holding in the monsters, filling the lowest tier with water and a bevy of snarling beasts.

At last the Called discovered an opulent chamber, wherein they met the stout halfling warrior named Qesnef, who had been held captive within the chamber. Also within the chamber was the legendary blade Blackrazor. Discord, having been summoned by the blade, gave her Hexblade pact to Blackrazor, and Savra attuned with the dark blade, in exchange for various promises the blade made.

There appeared to be no way out of this chamber but back the way they came, and after a short rest, the Called prepared to wade through the tide of monsters they had left in their wake. Redknife Savra Belabranta could feel Blackrazor’s greedy anticipation, as it’s voracious hunger for souls would soon be fed.

1,000 EP, 200 PP
A necklace, tiara, bracelet, and ring, all a matched set, and worth 11,000 GP.
Boots of striding and springing, potion of greater healing, scroll of protection (fiends), armor of vulnerability (slashing.
Discord now has access to a Greater Hexblade Pact- Blackrazor.

White Plume Dangers
"Let's not go back in there."

Hammer 9, Year of Three Ships Sailing, 1492 DR

The Called, less Gundren Rockseeker but with Quetson the Clanless entered White Plume Mountain to brave the dangers therein and reclaim the famed weapons that were there. In their exploration, they solved a deadly puzzle that resulted in Redknife Savra Belabranta becoming the master of the strange flesh-construct, Content Not Found: null.

After navigating down the western hallway, they took kayaks on a strange floating river, only to be ambushed by ancient knights, led by a Sir Bluto, that seemed tasked with guarding this area of the dungeon. The brutal melee is still in process, and the adventurers try to persevere and continue their search for the legendary weapons that will help them defeat the evil elemental presence tearing the Dessarin Valley apart.

A Family Memory
Secrets in Blood

Rosch sat cross legged in his room at Hillcrest Manor, hands resting gently on his knees palms up. Even with his eyes closed Rosch could feel the shape of the room around him, the cracks in the walls, the stone beneath him. Slowly he focused his awareness inward, sharpening and reducing it until his mind was focused on his body. When his master taught him this technique it was difficult to learn, but once mastered was relatively easy. An unconscious smile played along his lips, as he remembered telling his master that, the man had laughed and told him the more his power grows the more difficulty it would become. He was correct of course, at this point getting to this level of body awareness took all of his focus.
Looking inside he could feel the pools of energy within his body, the mostly empty and broken pool of Ki energy, the undeveloped and mostly untapped pool of mana, and the large pool of Psi that circled both in his mind and all throughout his body in place of the Ki that most people had.
As he followed his pathways he saw that everything was as it should be, now to go deeper. There were secrets in his blood, deep secrets, passed down from the first Uskevren. His family had a cup that, once of age, every member would drink a small portion of their own blood from. His father had told him that the ceremony, for most, was just a tradition; but those that had the power, and the will of a true Uskevren, one that was to bold to hide, would be shown the secret of the Uskevren’s origin. That was the legend anyway.
Rosch had gone through the ceremony when he was a young man, before he mouthed off to the wrong creature and was broken. He knew he had grown much since the ceremony, he had made great friends and seen some of them die. He had started a company and helped goodly folk. He had freed slaves and conquered dragons. He had been broken and reforged his body with his mind and will. While he did not have the cup he did have his blood and as his master had taught him he was in control of his body and all things it represented. From the broken Ki pool to the tattoo on his chest or the secret in his blood; he would learn and control it all.
Letting his body go limp Rosch focused his power deeper into his body than ever before, he forced open a connection to his blood and through it to his family’s past. Generations of Uskevren’s past through his mind’s eye, a black haired woman climbing a tower at night, a burly man standing in the wild suddenly transforming into a wolf, a skinny man with a cocky grin floating in the air with lightning playing between his hands, an old man with sharp eye smoking a pipe. All these images and more flashed through mind as he force his way deeper. They were Uskevrens one and all, awoken to the power of their blood; but they were not the primarch, they were not the first.
Then the flow of images suddenly stopped and for a moment there was nothing, then with a flash of light and the sound of a crashing wave a man appeared. Rosch found himself standing on a ship rolling gently on the waves looking up he saw a single man standing behind railing of a higher deck looking down at him. The man wore a long coat of deep blue and black, a simple cutlass hung from his hip and there was an odd trident learning on the railing next to him. Rosch did not get the impression that he was an altogether good man, the hint of calculation in his eyes and the cruel turn of his lip made that seem unlikely.
“Wall now, wha’ ‘ave we ‘ere? A traveler to this place, an’ within out da cup as a buffer. Interesting. Ta do ‘is on ‘ur own is a mighty feat lad, mighty indeed.” The man said as he considered Rosch. “Me old blood runs true in you I think,” he finished thoughtfully.
The man’s dark glittering eyes continued to study Rosch, “Aye the power’s there, but none oh me charm, ye be an ugly one,” the man said laughing at his own joke. “So, what do you want? Tis no easy task coming here, I saw to that.”
Rosch was not sure what he meant by that but he knew this could only be his ancestor the one who started his house. “You’re him aren’t you, the first of the Uskavers?”
The man barked a laugh, “Aye lad, I’m the first of many households, I plowed a few fields in my time if you know my meaning,” with a courtly bow his face turned serious and proud, “but aye, Twas I that started our line of nobility in Simbia and tied the strength of my blood to my bloodline.”
“ So there is a secret to our line and to our blood?” Rosch asked eyes widening slightly. Rosch always believed there had to be but believed it to be some kind of information not, power.
“Well…” the man said with a knowing smile, “of a sort.”
The man stood straight and took up the trident from its resting place on the rail. “You’ve the right to know I guess, you more than most. You have shown true grit to get here, especially without the cup.” The man said with a shrug, “ so I’ll tell you some of the tail.”
“Yur from the blood of a pirate lad, twas never a well guarded secret really and many knew. But with wealth and power doors are opened that would otherwise be closed and allowances are made.” As the man talked he seemed to lose the rough broge that he had started the conversation with.
“No lad, the secret was not that I was a powerful pirate it’s how I became powerful.”
Rosch nodded at the man’s words, the rumors of the Uskevren’s pirate legacy were, if not common, still whispered in Simbia before he left.
“There are many reasons and tails for how I got to where I was, but those tails are not for today, you seek a secret so a secret you shall have. I had a Weapon of Power.” He stated simply.
Rosch looked at the man confused, “what the hell is that supposed to mean.”
The man grinned, “HA! Tis exactly what I said to the man what told me about the thing, but his words proved true.”
“Twas a trident lad, one similar to this one,” he said gesturing with the trident in his hand, “one the legends say were forged by giants for the sea god himself. A Weapon of Power.”
“Seek it out I did, and I find it I did,” the man said with a satisfied tone. “It twas even more then the stories gave it credit for, it could lay low the greatest of foes in a handful of blows, and commanded many magical abilities. But it is no mere tool, it posses a mind and purpose all it own and it does not suffer the weak to bear it.”
“Many have tried to take it up over the many years since it’s creation, elf, dwarf, man or giant. Many have tried and many have failed, some paying with their lives for their failure.”
“And what do you think I had, and some in my line have, that the others who had tried to take it up lacked?”
“The will to take it and to wield it,” Rosch said firmly.
“Aye lad, the will to take it and to rule it. And if you had the will to get here you’ve the will to take up that same power, I think.”
With a heave the man threw the trident into the wood at Rosch’s feet. “Seek it out if you would have my power. That trident served me well just as I served it and it’s purpose well but you must be able to control it, tis no simple weapon to take up.”
“How do I find it?”
The man got a cruel smile on his face, “Why, it calls to your blood or perhaps for your blood. If you can no master it or come to an accord with it, the weapon will kill you. Make no mistake.”
“Well then..”
“Ba! No more questions! You know what you need if you want it. Leave me to sail the breadth of my lines bloody immortality,” the man gave Rosch a grim smile. “Tis our lines gift to me for founding it after all.”
With that the world around Rosch seemed to explode in a torrent of red and black before fading away. When Rosch came to some time later his face was in a thin pool of blood formed from a small stream coming from his nose.

Off To White Plume Mountain
How the other side lives

Hammer 5, Year of Three Ships Sailing, 1492 DR

Discord, Redknife Savra Belabranta, and Gundren Rockseeker all met in Red Larch, however Brother Seeker Rosch Uskevren was not present. The heat was sweltering, uncharacteristic for this time of year, and the rain that sluiced down was hot and murky. The Called in attendance observed that the cryer-board in the middle of town was filled with recent notifications inquiring about the location of lost loved ones, and warning of monster sightings throughout the Dessarin Valley. They also noticed that a large area outside of Red Larch had become an impromptu refugee camp, as more and more farmers and their family’s were forced to abandon their homes due to banditry and creature attacks.

Gundren said he needed to attend to some business, telling the others that if they accompanied him they would be extended the privilege of being able to enter a place where non-dwarves were not normally allowed. Discord shared with Savra and Gundren some of her past, telling them that she was promised to Share by her parents and that she may have a way to be free of the mistress of loss and sorrow. Gundren, taken aback at first, told Discord that she was a friend to him and his clan, then placed a comforting hand on the warlock’s shoulder stating simply, “Worry not lass, we’ll fix this.”

At that moment, Nitasys, an old friend and Agent companion of Savra arrived with news that the Belabranta’s had sent her to find Savra. Her words resonated with Discord, coinciding with the visions the warlock had been having, and they left for Waterdeep that very morning. Gundren parted ways, wishing them all well, and went off to see into whatever it was he needed to attend to.

Hammer 8, Year of Three Ships Sailing, 1492 DR

Savra, Nitasys, and Discord arrived at the palatial Belabranta estate in Waterdeep. Discord and Nitasys were overcome by the opulence of the manor, and Savra received a fairly cool homecoming from her father, Giovanni Belabranta. There, an old family friend and prominent member of the Waterdhavian nobility entreated Savra’s help in returning a stolen heirloom. In the place of the heirloom, a strange poem was left, challenging any to come and retrieve the weapons. The note was signed with a strange rune. Savra, Discord, and Nitasys agreed to help.

Traveling to the City of the Dead, an expansive and famous walled cemetery within Waterdeep, the traveler’s utilized a teleportation circle located beneath a tomb that is in the care of the Harpers. From there they traveled to another teleportation circle in Neverwinter, located in the basement of a rickety three-story boarding house.

From Neverwinter, the band traveled 30 miles southwest, to White Plume Village in order to stage their expedition into White Plume Mountain. Once there, Discord was able to piece together what was happening to her. She realized that a sword of mythic power had been calling to her, fabled to exist within the mountain. She also was able to recall the legend of the wizard Kerapatis, realizing that the strange rune was the sigil of the legendary wizard.


Nightal 30, The Year of the Scarlett Witch, 1491 DR

A frigid winter wind blew across the scoured stony floor of the Sighing Valley. It tore at the hood of Redknife Savra Belabranta’s hood, pulling it back and cause her black hair to whip into her face. Raising her chin, Savra gathered the errant strands into her hands, and with a quick twist, tied her hair back in a tight pony tail. Out of the corner of her eye Savra noticed Beebo admiring her profile. Beebo was not subtle, about anything, and Savra gave her a acknowledging half-smile.

Ever since Savra had met Beebo, after the heros had hired her to run the stables at Feathergale Spire, Savra had taken note of the woman. Beebo had an understated beauty, and her amber eyes always shown with an engaging intensity. More then once Savra had imagined those eyes alight with passion. What is more, Beebo and Savra were the only survivors of the Cult of Howling Hatred’s revenge attack on the spire. They had both seen the atrocities of the cultist first hand perpetrated on people they had come to know.

Savra blocked out the gruesome memories of the attack, once again looking upon Beebo.

“What would mummy and daddy think,” Savra thought, her internal monologue affecting the highest of Waterdhavian inflections. The scandal would not come from the fact that Beebo was a woman. Savra’s parents had known for some time that her romantic interests were not discerned by gender. No, the scandal would come from Beebo’s station. After all, the Bellabranta family could never be acknowledge a romance with someone as low as Beebo.

“They don’t know the half of it,” Savra said under her breath, flushing with equal parts embarrassment and frustration as she thought of her early and inadvertent involvement with the cultists that now terrorized the Dessarin Valley.

“Was’at?” Beebo asked loudly, trying to be heard over the wind.

Savra was amazed Beebo heard anything at all. And despite her rough inflection, her voice was quiet nice.

“Nothing,” Savra smiled back, restoring her hood. "What is this “surprise” that warrants us being out here in this bitter cold? I am freezin’’ me tits off!" Savra said the last in perfectly inflected low common, like Beebo’s way of speaking, smiling teasingly at the trainer.

“Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you,” Beebo turned and continued plodding through the shallow snow drifts that had been blown on to the valley floor. “If your Highness will attend?” Beebo called over her shoulder as she walked.

They plodded through the valley all morning. It was rough going over the cold, and uneven terrain. Savra’s armor was frost-covered, and heavy, but she wouldn’t dare traverse the valley without it. She hunted the manticores within the valley with The Society, and seen the knoll packs from overhead. The gauntlets Gundren Rockseeker had loaned her granted her improved strength, which helped. But, come late morning, she was glad to see Beebo stop atop a craggy out cropping, in front of a gash-like crevice, and begin unshouldering her pack.

“If only we had a way to fly,” Savra breathed out as she hauled herself the rest of the way up the ledge.

“Don’t want Jon and Winddancer up here,” Beebo said, removing heavy leather gauntlets like the ones Savra had seen her father’s falconers sport so often. “Perhaps her Highness can use her nose more’n her mouth for a tick?”

“I’ll have you know, her Highness has never had a complaint about the volume of her usage of her mouth,” Savra quipped.

As soon as Beebo mentioned it, Savra registered the smell. Even through the gusts Savra detected the carnal stink of decay. Letting her pack slip, Savra adjusted her great sword just in case, before cautiously approached the crag. Beebo seemed unconcerned and just waited patiently for Savra to come close.

It took Savra’s eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness, but she soon saw the source of the smell. Lying within the crag was a the bloated corpse of a female griffon. The majestic body was riddled with long black spines, the wounds around the spines were inflamed and wept viscous green fluid. Savra could only get so close, as the shelter of the cave seemed to store, and compound, the scent of putrefaction.

“Manticore got ’er,” Beebo said matter of factly.

Without further discourse Beebo reached her arms in and grabbed the corpse by the rear leonine legs, then gave a great heave. The bloated corpse jammed in the crevice, and the pressure caused the postmortem gases contained within the corpse to expel loudly in a flatulent-like explosion. Savra would have laughed, but she was too busy retching. Beebo heaved again. The corpse, now deflated, came loose, and Beebo drug it over to the side of the crevice. The corpse landed on the floor below in a squishy thunk.

“So,” Savra mused. "You brought me out in the cold, to brave the manticore and gnoll infested valley, to watch you throw a dead griffon off a cliff. How did you know that was what I always wanted?

Beebo smiled tartly at Savra and tossed her chin toward the craggy opening she had just pulled the dead griffon from.

Savra watched as a beaked head, like an eagle only significantly larger, feebly poked it’s way out of the crevice. The creature’s eyes were dull, and it shook as if straining under the effort of raising its own head. The head was as large as Savor’s chest, only slightly smaller than that of the dead griffon, and bore coarse black feathers in a line down the otherwise stark white plumage.

“I’m thinking’,” Beebo said returning to her pack where she fished out a large leather sack that was darkly stained at the bottom. “This one was still young, or youngish. Mum prolly spat some food into it, but the manticore’s poison was already in her. Weren’t enough to do for the babe, but it is in bad shape.” Beebo undid the bag she held and pulled out a side of raw mutton, still dripping with fresh gore.

“Like as not,” Beebo continued, placing the meat far enough away from the griffon that it would have to come out of the crevice to eat it. “This’un’ll die unless we take it in. What’s more, you and the others have been running aground of some nasty things of late. I seen you gettin’ pretty good at fighting atop Winddnacer, and I get concerned, for Winddancer of course. Winddancer is good, but hippogriffs can only do so much. Griffons, they can do a bit more. If you are inclined, I can help you train this one. It will take some time, and a herd’s worth’a meat, but I figure we can do it.”

Savra was over come with excitement. Ever since she had joined The Society she had wanted to ride a griffon. She grew up on the tales of the famed griffon cavalry of Waterdeep. This was a childhood dream come true!

Beebo could see that Savra was pleased. She focused on coaxing the young griffon out of the cave. After a time, the creature came, and was too weak to put up much of struggle as Beebo slipped on a hood on it’s raptor head. Next Beebo put a hobble on the creature’s legs. Try as it might, the griffon could only thrash weakly when Beebo lashed down its wings. Resignedly, the poisoned griffon flopped on its side, breathing shallowly.

Her work done, Beebo gathered her things strewn about the ledge back into her pack, then shouldered it. Making her way to ledge, she looked back at Savra expectantly.

“What?” Savra said, confused.

“Grab the damn thing,” Beebo exclaimed as she indicated to the bound griffon. “You’re strong as a bloody giant, and I am not going to carry it back.”

Savra made her way to the griffon and threw the creature over her shoulders, a pair of legs on either side of her head. It was heavy, and would have been impossible to carry were it not for her gauntlets. Savra couldn’t help but notice the strong talons on the fore legs, and the sharp feline claws of the rear-legs, so close to her face. She shifted the load a little to get it balanced, then began plodding her way down of the ledge.

“Don’t get used to this little one,” she said to the griffon bobbing ridiculously on her back with each step. “Next time we meet, you will be carrying me.”

Taming the Griffon will cost 1,000 gp in total and take 40 days of downtime. Beebo can do up to 30 of them, but Savra will have to spend at least10 days of downtime to get the griffon used to her.

I Call!
A summons from a smokey mountain.

Hammer 4, Year of Three Sailing Ships, 1492 DR

Discord‘s chest heaved as she tried not be heard gasping for air. She felt the cold stone against her wings as she pressed her back into the stone of the building, trying not to be seen by her pursuers. The warlock wasn’t used to running, and she could already feel her leg muscles ache. She couldn’t risk flying, not in broad daylight, they would see her.

Discord didn’t know what was after her. She didn’t know how many, or if anyone one else could even see them? But that didn’t make them any less dangerous. Wild-eyed, Discord looked around the alley opening for any sign of her pursuers passing by. She didn’t care that she looked mad. She probably was. These idiots dwell in darkness, and they can only keep their sanity because they didn’t know what awaited them.

Instead of a place to hide, Discord was met by the somewhat vacant stare of a man who had stopped pushing his cart to stare at the warlock, panting and pressed into an alley wall in broad daylight.

“Everything alright miss-,” the man begun.

“Piss off yokel!” Discord cut him off with a breathless hiss. “They’ll find me.”

The man stood, mouth agape and watched the warlock, his cart still rested in the middle of the Red Larch road.

“May as well paint a bloody sign,” Th Warlock thought.

“I can only assume that slack-jaws and vacant stares are a state in which you perpetually exist,” Discord hissed. She pulled the wane shadows around her to create a sibilant and cold tone within her voice. “And, I thought I voiced, in the parlance of the peasantry, my desire when I told you to piss off. Yet, here you stand. So, I will try anew.”

Discord slowed the countenance of her speech, annunciating every syllable with exacting clarity. “So help me, if I count to three, and you a still in front of me, I will hurly you into a shadowy hell, wherein you body will be flayed and simultaneous violated, in all your orifices, by creatures of unspeakable grotesqueness and cruelty. You will pray for death to release you. But your prayers will freeze as they leave your abused mouth, and the icy shards that your prayerful pleading formed will be thrust into your eyes repeatedly as your tormentors mock you!”

The man fled immediately, leaving behind his cart and the strong scent of fresh urine.

“Coward,” the warlock thought. “The cunt pees himself at my description, yet I am the one who has been shown this place.”

Even still, the abandoned cart will draw attention. And they were right behind her. She knew it.

“Besheaba’s black tits,” Discord swore, finishing gathering the shadows she had started collecting, and cloaking herself within.

The whispers were already waiting for her. They called to her, some pining for her like a lost lover, other’s mocking her. It was always risky to enter the shadows, one could only hide under their pursuers nose for so long.

Discord raised her hands to cover her ears and block out the whispers for a moment. Seeing her hands, her breath caught in her throat. Her skin swam like the night sky. Tiny points of light winked and shot across her form, and she stood like a celestial skycap amid a sea of deepest darkness.

“Myrkur!” Discord shrieked. “You twat! Is this some kind of joke? I shine like a bastion, how soon before she sees me?”

Panic began to over take Discord. Where was Myrkur? She was alone! She needed to get out of the shadows but what if she looked like this when she emerged. It was cold. Discord was always cold, but this cold was new. Old, and numb, like it Discord resided in cold for an eternity. And she felt sharp. He skin was cool, like steel, and unyielding to her touch. All of her curves were now sharp edges.

“I knew she would get to you Myrkur,” Discord spat at her sword. Her tears sounded metallic as they hit her sharpened cheeks. “She gets to everyone eventually.”

FUCK YOU, MISTRESS NIGHT!” Discord shouted into the abyss. She didn’t know where the words came from. The words were not from anywhere she had been, not from her, but yet she knew what they felt like.

It would only be a short time now before she came for her. Discord was alone.

“Enough!” The voice was imperious, and she knew it somehow. She felt colder, and the sound of crumbling ice could be heard in the distance. “She cannot harm you so long as you are under my protection, yet that wanes with every moment you waste in tantrum and added panic.”

Discord knew to look upon herself again. Already her edges were dulling, and the stars were growing dimmer. Discord surrendered. She felt her whole body swaddled in something like soft leather. It covered her completely, and her nostrils were filled with the scent of oil and a hint of old blood. After a time she was freed.

The warlock hovered again over the mountain that belched forth a steady spume of smoke. The country side beneath her was the same as that from her early dream. Or maybe she had been here before? Was this was her reality, and elemental temples were her dreams?

A brilliant nova shone from inside the mountain, basking everything within a harsh, frigid, light. Discord was bare before the night sky, the lights forcing harsh shadows over her pale flesh and making the spurs upon her wings glisten. Her body mirrored the night sky, not mirrored, replicated, over a smaller area, and she couldn’t see the tips her wings for they spread so far.

Above the warlock the night sky ended abruptly. A vast sea of shadowy, grasping hands and tendrils reached for her. Mouths formed from the umbral mass, seductively calling to her, or screaming at her to comply with their requests. She began to feel the limbs embracing her vast wings, some as gentle as a lover, others as fierce as any grappler. Her wings began to slowly pulse, and then beat, and she began to rise upwards, towards the darkness and the limbs. The warlock pleaded with her wings to stop, yet they continued to pulse, with each beat the wind scattered the stars beneath her like dust motes.

“Stop it, stop it, stop it!” Discord pleaded through panicked tears. “I didn’t ask for this. I never asked for any of this! I inherited all of this a cruel, fucking joke. And those responsible left me in a desert to die. I am nothing. I have nothing!” Discord shot her head skyward where she stared directly into a swirling mass of darkness, somehow more black than the sea of limbs and appendages that writhed and undulated in anticipation at her approach. “WHY DO YOU WANT ME?”

Suddenly the nova from within the mountain flared brighter. The smoke issuing forth began to coalesce and form a barrier between discord and the mass above. Her wings stopped against the smoke barrier, and she could hear the shadows sob, shriek, and gnash in protest.

“You must be reminded of what is at stake,” The regal voice boomed from the mountain. “Know that Myrkur serves me, and therefore, so to do you. I have use for you, warlock, but it is immediate. The next thing you must do is come find me, and the others. Free us and you will have the power to not just elude Shar, but dissuade her minions from ever coming after you again.”

Discord felt panic at the mention of her name.

“This is my offer warlock,” The voice’s proposition was more command then entreaty. “Release me, and the others, and I will take your pact from my lesser. You will be mine, and I do not easily give over that which is mine. Deny. me, and I will leave you with Myrkur, and I know not how long he can keep you safe?”

Discord’s blinked back bright sunlight that set upon her suddenly. She was back in Red Larch. Once more out of the shadows. The piss-stink still lingered in the air, and the feeling peddler’s back was still in sight. She couldn’t have been gone more than a few seconds. The cart. They would see it, and they would wonder. She couldn’t go back into the shadows. Not now. She needed to find her friends.

Wrapping her wings beneath her cloak, Discord calmed her breathing and began to pick her way forward around the cart. She heard their footsteps fast approaching. Their breath. She could smell them, and taste their oil presence in her mouth. They would come around the corner any second.

Discord threw up her hood against the chill wind and fought to remain composed. Perhaps they wouldn’t notice her this time. or think her someone else. She held her breath, feeling them close on her as she unhurriedly picked her way across the street.

And then they were gone.

“I call,” A distant voice commanded from all around her. “You must come now or scorn me, and forever lose me as an ally.”

Myrkur throbbed at the words, and Discord noticed the presence of her sword had returned.

“Where in the hells were you?” Discord snarled over her shoulder in her sword’s direction. She didn’t even notice the three confused passerby’s balking at the cloaked woman talking to her sword.

First Customer?
Walls in winter

Hammer 4, The Year of Three Ships Sailing, 1491 DR

Mirna Drendar’s eyes opened slowly, as they did every morning around this time. It had had taken her some time to adjust to living beneath the ground, yet her internal clock was now set, and her day was beginning. The ruin under Hillcrest Manor was warm, in most places, despite the biting cold outside, and Mirna was thankful as she threw off her sleeping furs.

It had taken Mirna a month to get Droop to agree to, and actually perform the task of, keeping the hearths burning through the night. At first, the goblin had shirked this duty, and the finally after more than a few mornings of the goblin waking to find a thin film of ice had covered nearly all of his trinkets and alchemy trappings, the goblin begrudgingly agreed. Sadly, the lack of diligence also resulted in Mirna’s daughter almost catching her death. Nilsa was still recovering, and so Mirna, Nars, and Droop did the work of four at the manor, and trading post.

“Bloody Droop,” Mirna muttered under her breath as she slid on her heavy woolen shift with a thick fur mantle. Droop was a habitual pain her arse, yet he had become her “pain the arse”. Although the effort had almost not been worth it, Droop was an integral part of the now functioning Hillcrest Manor. The goblin did his chores, mostly, and spent most of his free time in the alchemist lab tinkering, muttering, and making foul-smelling concoctions.

Mirna hurried to the make-shift kitchen. Nars needed to be up soon. The boy, now fourteen winters, ate as much as three. He worked hard up top, as he and Mirna were the only one’s who could. Nilsa was still too frail from the fever to face the biting cold, and although some in Phandalin knew about the goblin, Droop, Mirna thought it prudent to not flaunt the little monster’s presence among the trading post.

Mirna quickly assembled breakfast, and madder way to Nilsa’s room, stopping to badger Nars to the point of finally getting up, along the way.

Nilsa’s room was sweet smelling from rose water. The girl looked frail, yet cheery, smiling at her mother as she came in. Nilsa toyed with an affection granted to her by a young man, or woman, Mirna wasn’t sure, of the village at the Midwinter festival. Nilsa would be 19 in the Spring, and it was probably time she wed. Thoughts of nuptials forced Mirna’s thoughts to her own wedding, and the time she spent with her husband before the Redbrand Ruffians had killed him. His body was found in a chasm under Hillcrest, not far from this very room, gnawed upon by a one-eyed monster Brother Seeker Rosch Uskevren had called a “nothic”. Mirna steeled herself, and pushed the memories back for another time. There was too much to do today, she would weep when she had the time.

“Morning darling,” Mirna cooed to her daughter.

“Morning mother,” Nilsa returned. “I am feeling much stronger today. I thought I might cover myself in a heap of furs and help you, and Nars, up top.”

“Did you now?” Mirna asked with a smile. She had heard this every day for a week from her daughter, and Mirna couldn’t help but admire the stuff her daughter was made of. Despite Nilsa’s “feeling stronger” Mirna knew that it was too soon.

“I think you’ll rest a bit more, love,” Mirna said as she laid breakfast down next to Nilsa’s bed. “But, if you can get these dishes to the tub before I get your thick-headed brother ready, I will let you come up top for a bit while we open up the post, and afore too much of the day’s cold has blown in.”

Mirna could feel her daughter’s smile beam at her back and she hurried to Nar’s room to wake him up, again. Just as she thought, he lay half dressed, sleeping furs thrown over his head, sound asleep.

Once more Mirna battered and chided her boy to rise. Once more, he acquiesced with minimal grumbling. Gods but he was already tall, like his dad. He looked a lot like him too. There were times when Mirna swore a ghost stalked these halls. A phantasm out of time, as her boy looked almost identical to his dad when they had first started courting. They had been together nineteen years before he died, and she had lived with him longer than she had lived with out him. But with him dead, the “without him” would catch up, and then pass the “with him”. The thought saddened Mirna, but it was not the first time she had met it.

As she and Nars finished breakfast, reviewing what needed to be done at the post, Droop blew through the kitchen placing a pile of three plump rats atop the table with a squishy thunk. Mirna knew that was Droop’s breakfast, despite her offering to make him some of what the family ate. Droop declined, yet refrained from eating his preferred cuisine until he was alone.

“Morning Droop!” Nars said cheerily to the goblin.

The goblin responded in with something in its own tongue. Although Mirna knew next to nothing of the language, from what she had picked dup, she could recognize the goblin’s response as less than flattering, and likely not anatomically possible.

Shakily, Nilsa made her way into the area they were eating, empty dishes clattering. She looked like she was going to collapse under the weight of her winter furs, yet Mirna kept a firm hand on Nars’ shoulder, letting her daughter make he way to the basin. The dishes landed with a loud clink, and Nilsa smiled triumphantly at her mother and brother.

Nars and Mirna helped Nilsa make her way up the steps. The trap door was cool to the touch, and biting cold over took them as soon as she threw it open. The they climbed out of the ruin, and began throwing back the thick leather tarps that protected the trading post’s inventory. Nilsa brushed away a thin crust of snow that had blown in over night, but even that small effort caused sweat to form on her brow.

“Ehhmmm,” A deep voice cleared it’s throat intentionally loud in order to get the attention of the family busy at work.

Mirna turned to see a stout dwarf entering the trading post. His armor was dulled by a sheen of hoarfrost, and covered in cruel looking spikes and blunted studs. He kept all of his thick red hair piled atop his head in a wild bun. Mirna had never seen a dwarf without a beard, but then again Mirna had not seen a lot of dwarves. Even still, the dwarf before her had a recently shaved, smooth face, ruddy with cold and a little chapped, save some thick chops that covered the tops of his jaw. He wore a broad weapons belt that contained a pick on one hip, and a mace on the other. He bore a round shield on his back, the haft of an axe poked out from underneath the shield.

“Mirna is it?” The dwarf asked raising a thick, red, eyebrow.

“Good morn, sir, the post is not yet opened,” Mirna said with a smile. Looking around, she saw some of the morning patrols in the distance and knew that Sildar Hallwinter’s men would be within shouting distance if needs be.

“I am knowing that lass,” the dwarf thumped to the ground, arse first, is clatter of armor. “Me name is ”/characters/quetson" class=“wiki-content-link”>Quetson, and I were sent by the dwarves of Wave Echo Cave. They aren’t me kin a’course, I got none. I were just hired. Anyway, I am for sitting here, and making sure nothing happens to ye, and them, until they be done."

Mirna was a little confused. She knew of Wave Echo Cave of course, and her master’s involvement with it to an extent, yet she had heard nothing about a visit from them. She looked out on to the road leading up the hill and saw procession of wagons headed toward the trading post.

“Wh-what is all that?” Mirna said a little overcome. Nilsa and Nars were craning their necks to see the strange wagon train.

“What I were sayin’ woman,” Quetson sad boredly. “That is them from Wave Echo. Dwarven mason’s mainly, with a few gnomish and human engineers and fitters. They are a good enough lot. Prone to talking too long for my liking, and not nearly as into breaking things as they are building them. But in total, ye have a good crew in em.”

“I am sorry,” Mirna said, her voice returning to her pleasant, yet prudent registry. "I have no idea what you are talking about. Master Rosch is away, yet I am sure he would have told me if he had ordered a “crew”, as you say."

“He didn’t order it,” Quetson said with a grimace as fished around inside his armor, the confines making him stretch and twist uncomfortably. With a triumphant smile he pulled forth a fist-sized clay pot with a small, stout, neck and rubber stopper. He pulled the stopper with his teeth and spat it into his hands before taking a huge draw. His eye’s began to water slightly, and his cheeks instantly flushed. He offered the black pot toward Mirna and waved it at her. Mirna was over come by a smell like lamp oil, stale beer, morning water, and dill. “Ye be wanting a swig? Maybe some for the girl and boy? It’ll warm ye up.”

Mirna tried not to vomit at the thought. Batting Nars’ eager hand away as he reached for the stranger’s pot, she interposed herself between her children and this so-called “Quetson”.

“What is going on? Mirna exclaimed, "Why are they coming here if my master did not order them?

“Ta build the manor walls woman,” Quetson looked at her as if she was daft. “It’s bloody cold out!”

As if to emphasize his point, a shrill morning breeze picked up, chilling Mirna as she watched the wagons plod up the hill.

“Nilsa, back below,” Mirna said matter-of-factly. “If it is true that you are invigorated, see if you can’t get some water going for tea. We should have something warm to greet our guests. I will be down to help in a bit, and it is fine if you cannot. Oh, and see to Droop. Tell him…tell him not to come up from the ruin for…for awhile.”

Bringing Thunder to Wave Echo Cave
With these, few can fight like many!

Hammer 2, Year of Three Sailing Ships, 1492 DR

The staccato rhythm of the snare drum pattered off the stone walls of Wave Echo Cave, matching the clopping booted-heels of the dwarves who marched in the time with the drum. With a low moan that quickly built to a keen, Gundren Rockseeker’s pipes began to sound the harmony. The dwarf could not help but smile behind his mouth-piece as, tradition demanded he have a return processional, yet the Rockseeker clan was so small, and with so many helping the Bouldershoulders reclaim Tyar-Besil, he was forced to play the pipes in his own ceremony.

The procession lead through the main cavern doors towards the reception chamber. Three stone carvers stopped their intricate work, as each was carving a different ancestral longship, afloat in an underground river. The carving would commemorate the official reclamation of Wave Echo, with the new year. Young apprentices took advantage of the break to clear the area of the fine powdery dust created by the stone work with reed brooms and horsehair brushes, while still trying to watch the procession over their shoulders.

Muriwen, wise woman of the Rockseekers, waited at the center of the reception chamber in her simple garb. The reception hall was a clutter of stone blocks waiting to be used, sturdy built-scaffolding lining the walls, and heaps of tools. The center had been cleared, but a thick layer of stone dust coated everything, sticking to the inside of Gundren’s mouth when he inhaled as he piped. Even amidst the shambles, Muriwen had the countenance of a dwarven queen of old. Her shield maidens stood around her in a ring, and with a ceremonious hand raise, they parted as the music stopped.

Gundren, and all else in the chamber, Muriwen included, fell prostrate on the stone. Gundren, still unaccustomed to the feel of the pistol on his back shifted his baldric. It was lighter now, and the basket hilt of a rapier could be seen instead of the broad hilt of a longsword. Having lent the Gloves of Wave Echo to Redknife Savra Belabranta, the dwarf had been forced to return to a weapon that took advantage of his dexterous hands more then his magically gifted strength. Gundren smirked as he thought of his departed brother, Tharden Rockseeker, the first time he had seen the rapier Gundren had purchased.

“Well, would ye looka’ that,” Tharden had exclaimed in his voice like boulders shifting. “Some fool went and stretched yer dagger into a sword. Sure’n ye can pick yer teeth from afar now.”

Gundren and all in attendance pressed their foreheads against the cool stone, and in sonorous prayer, they offered appellation to Moradin, as was the custom. After a time all rose, the chamber sounded with the brushes and slaps of those in attendance trying to clear stone dust from their garb. Muriwen waved a hand at her attendants as they tried to brush her off. Gundren knew she didn’t mind the dust, and was more eager to conclude the ceremony so she could continue the restoration efforts. Gundren didn’t take offense at Muriwen’s need to speed things along. There was much to be done, and Gundren would have to ride hard to make Red Larch, where he and the rest of the Called had agreed to meet in just three days.

“Wave Echo Cave is bettered by the return of the The Rock Seeker,” Muriwen began with a warm, greeting, nod. Her red-hair was piled atop her head, and almost burned like a torch against her dark-brown face. “We have been told of your efforts in Tyar-Besil, but what is more we are told that you bring thunder to us.”

Gundren smiled at this. He had been home for a few days, and knew that this part of the ceremony was something of a pageant. Nundro Rockseeker and Muriwen had already seen the prototype pistol Gundren now carried. In fact, Nundro wasn’t even in attendance, as he and some of the more skilled craftsmen of the clan were busy at the normal forges around the Spellforge, all ready realizing the weapons displayed in the plans Gundren had returned with.

Gundren watched quietly as a servant brought out a wooden series of wooden planks, held together with cross beams, and roughly the six-feet tall. A comicaly gruesome orcish face had been painted on hastily on the planks, and a general chuckle erupted from those in attendance. Once set, Muriwen nodded to Gundren. The dwarf pulled the pistol from his back with fluid grace and took aim.

A thunderous boom resounded within the chamber, and a sulfuric stinking puff of smoke stung everyone’s nostrils and a small gout of fire shot forth from the barrel. The wooden target erupted in a mass of splintered boards and clattered to the ground.

The dwarves in attendance stood in shock for a second, before they all began to applaud heartily. They witnessed first hand the power their clan now held, and they knew what could be done with it.

“We Rockseekers are small clan,” Gundren growled, turning slowly while holding the pistol aloft. "Yet we are as proud, and fierce, as any Warcorwn or Battlehammer. Me an’ me mates found these, and sure’n your thanks is to them as much meself. With these, we few can fight like many. With these, the Rockseekers can defend Wave Echo Cave! With these we can help the Bouldershoulders reclaim Tyar-Besil! With these, the Rockseekers, small clan that we are, will shake the heavens as Moradin’s anvil blows do!

Gundren let the gathered dwarves cheer for a time, letting their exhilaration peak before he begun a wailing note on his pipes. With a quick wave he indicated for his drummer to begin hammering out his cadence. As he made his way out the reception chamber, he shot Muriwen a quick wink with his one good eye. The wisewoman’s wrinkled face split into the quickest of grins, before it returned to it’s regal resting state.

“Tradition is important,” Gundren thought, quickening the pace of the march by piping a half-step faster in order to conclude the ceremony more quickly, “But I still got me a ruin to reclaim.”


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