The Dead of Winter - Chronicle Part 3

Scaresby, Athas Valley, January 1043TA - The Search for Kundrukhar.

After a period of bad weather lasting the last few weeks of the year, they party set off again to investigate the norhtern hills. This time they are aided by a scrap of paper found in the dragon's hoard talking of a place called Kundrukhar. The town's dwarven smith tells them that Kundrukhar was the last retreat of the renowned smith Durgeddin the Black, who disappeared decades ago. Before leaving they are approached by the priestess of Phaedra. Sharwyn still shows no sign of consciousness and she is interested in anything they know about the tree they found. They promise to visit the Sunless Citadel again to investigate.

They set off north, making good time. They enter the Sunless Citadel and head to the lower levels, killing more goblins that have entered the place. When they arrive at the tree stump, they find that the mysterious skeleton has disappeared! Tarquin searches the area and discovers some tracks leading from the skeleton and then disappearing. After collecting some of the wood they leave the ruins and head northwards.

After reaching Featherstone they begin searching northwards for any sign of habitation. Three days later they spot a thin plume of smoke coming from a large mountain. Upon investigating they discover some orcs hunting in the area and returning to the mountain with their kills. Leaving their horses the party search the mountain and find a hidden channel heading into the mountain. They prepare for an assault.

Athas Valley, January 1043TA - Kundrukhar.

They head into the narrow channel, taking a couple of orc guards by surprise. They head further in and find themselves under attack from hidden archers. Hurrying past they head further in where they kill severeal more orcs who are trying to sabotage a rope bridge - the only way deeper into the complex. They cross the bridge and fall straight into an orcish counter-attack led by a huge ogre!. Outnumbered they begin to fall back but not before the magical axe Kargoth is sundered by the ogre. Enraged, WIll and Wyvern attack the ogre slaying it before it can cause more havoc. They party quickly mop up the remaining orcs.

They head further in, clearing out a few more orcs before coming across stairs leading downwards. They enter a large cavern area that was part of the dwarven stronghold. They clear out a nest of Troglodytes before finding more stairs leading downwards. They head down and find themselves in the dwarven complex proper. They enter a grand audience chamber where they are attacked by some human soldiers. They head deeper into the complex, killing a few more humans, undead and a magically animated rug! After a hard days fighting, they hole themselves up for the night and rest.

During the night Tarquin thinks he can hear the sound of crying. The next morning they investigate. They find what used to be a library. Inside there is a beautiful woman called Idalla, who has been locked away by an evil mage. She begs the adventurers to let her free. As they tell her that she is free to go, her eyes glint red and she disappears. The party think something demonic had just happened.

They continue searching and come across some forges and workshops. They have been very recently abandoned. As they search further, they are attacked by a mysterious mage and a half-dragon fighter. After a fierce battle they defeat their adversaries. The workshops have been used previously, but the workers have abandoned the facility.

They find another shaft leading down to an underground lake and they decide to investigate. As they reach lake, they spot a glitter in the distance. They head off around the lake and spot a small island off to one side. As they approach closer they are surprised as large reptilian form bursts from the lake – it is a young black dragon. They beat off its first attack and it returns to the lake, swimming for the island. The adventurers set off in hot pursuit with Wyvern and Tarquin soon reaching the island. They leap across just as the dragon pulls itself from the water. The party piles in and dispatch the dragon before it can cause more serious damage.

They collect up the dragon's hoard and while Wyvern and Tarquin carry the loot to the surface, the rest explore the last remaining tunnels in the complex where they come across a nest of orcs and rescue some prisoners. Amongst the prisoners is a gnome called Tibid, who asks to travel with the party. They gather together on the surface and then head back to Scaresby.

Athas Valley, February 1043TA - Assault on Brightstone Keep.

When they return they dispose of their loot and catch up on the events in the town. Sharwyn briefly awoke from her coma, calling ‘Gulthias, I am here!' before falling back into her coma. Tibid tells the others that Gulthias was the name of a vampire who terrorised the area several decades ago. A new mage, Kale Arakino, has arrived from Midwinter, taking over the position of town mage. They have a message from Aedrannel and Zagen, mysteriously saying ‘We know what Selbin was looking for, speak to you soon.' Shortly after they set off into the western marches and haven't been seen since.

For a while they do their own thing, Ranan and Tibid head for Midwinter and join the Academical Society while Tarquin goes into the wilds and returns with a wolf companion. Shortly after they receive word from Scaresby's mayor and the dwarven smith Rhurik Thorondil, both requesting meetings. The party meet with Rhurik first. He represents a party of dwarven merchants who wish to operate the forges of Kunrukhar. Because the PCs 'own' the complex, they offer to pay rent to the group for permission to work the forges. The party duly agrees to the deal. After this, they set off to visit Mayor Berrick.

He tells them that a few days north of town, just north of Kundrukhar and Featherstone is an outlying fort called Brightstone Keep. The Mayor has received no word from the Keep in several weeks and sent a local ranger, Aranmor, to investigate. He returned with word that the keep has been attacked and overrun by Orcs. He offers the adventurers a reward of 500gp each if they will tray and recapture the keep from the orcs. They agree and after a few days to rest and re-equip, they set off north again.

After a few days they reach the keep. Wyvern and WIll use Invisibility and Spider Climb Potions to enter the keep unseen and raise the portcullis' at the gatehouse. A battle ensues and they defeat two dozen orcs and a couple of trolls who are ensconced in the keep. They rescue some of the former guards who have kept prisoner by the orcs. They tell them that the leader of the orcs lives in a gemstone mine lying behind the keep. They party set off to investigate. They find the mine infested by undead which they eventually destroy, along with the orc cleric who has been creating them.

Athas Valley, February 1043TA - Orcish Reinforcements.

They decide to rest for a few days at the keep. Late afternoon the next day, one of the guards spots movement on the flanks of Brightstone Peak behind the keep. The PCs head off to investigate and discover a large encampment of about 50 Orcs. Ranan sends his weasel to scout the area and they think that two of the tents contain the leader and some spell casters. They set up a plan to Fireball the two tents from the top of a hill, loose a few volleys of arrows and then retreat to the safety of the Keep.

Things begin OK, the Fireballs are cast and Wyvern, WIll and Tarquin loose shafts at the orc sentries. Then Wyvern charges into the midst of the tents and disappears into the spell-caster's tent. The rest of the party keep up the barrage and narrowly miss being over run by the orc chieftain. After a minute Wyvern emerges from the tent leaving dead orcish priests behind him. He proceeds to wade through the remaining orcs joined by Tarquin and Will. Quickly the orcish threat is eliminated.

The party gather up the loot and search the tents. They discover some document that have been encrypted with a cypher. Will recognises it from his time in Midwinter and is able to decipher. It contains orders for Kurjan, the orc in charge of Brightstone. He is to hold the fort for the forseeable future. More orders will be relayed to him in a fortnight's time.

The adventureers decide to wait for the courier to arrive so they can intercept his message. They send Tibid and Tarquin back to Scaresby with news of the Keeps capture and the orcish threat and to bring back cupplies for the party. The others begin to clean up the keep, returning it to some semblance of order.

Ten days later, Tibid and Tarquin return from Scaresby with a dozen more guards and a castellan to run the keep. He also brings word of a proposal from Mayor Berrick. He wants the party to take custody of the keep and to try and keep the northern border secure so he can send men back to Featherstone to the south. The party agree and begin to plan their future at the keep.

On to Part 4 of the Chronicle.

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