November 3rd Session
After securing Nostri, and getting the residents of the Morgan Tunnel established, we moved out to bring in the residents of Dimitri and Aschim’s groves into the safety of the Tunnel.
While Dimitri’s 2 groves were found unharmed, it seems that while he was gone – Aschim’s Grove was discovered and burned. In the end, the number of people involved were :
Dimitri’s Groves – total humanoid population of 214
Aschim’s Grove – 74 killed originally, at least 1 survivor found later (see below)
On the plains, after we gathered my groups of refugees and found that Achim’s were slaughtered, we headed out to see if we could find out who attacked his grove. We found the kobold tent city of Kull (I think) seemed to be where they came from.
A day or so after we began backtracking from Aschim’s Grove, we ran into a patrol, and killed them all (approx 40 – nothing stronger than kobolds). Recovered a Human Child, survivor from Achim’s Grove. Apparently, taken to Kull, and then traded to these Kobolds – likely as “food”.
Continued on, ran into large force of Kobolds, with several casters and 4 hill giants. All thing equal – poor choice of us to fight them … We got hit hard, and eventually managed to break contact with them using magical cover. We did take down several casters and all (?) of the giants – but we nearly lost the Dwarf in the fight. Avoided encounters for a few days, and then in the middle of the night had a group of humanoid refugees wander within range of our cold-camp. We spoke with them, and found they had escaped from Tarronville (?). The kobold forces are thin, as a major Orc attack is taking place & all Kobold reserves are being moved to combat it. We moved north to the western side of the Harlsburg Heights, and contacted a druid there. We have left off the refugees we had (22 human, 18 elf – 11 men, rest women / children, and the surviving child from Aschim’s Grove) there. Our plan is to move to the base of Mount Speartip and find Keldra – Gwyndion’s aid. Once there, we will plan our next step – and we hope that Keldra will go back to the grove in the Harlsburg Heights and with 2 druids there, they might be able to shuttle small groups of refugees overland to the Morgan Tunnels, and to safety.
As we headed out from the lower reaches of the Western Harlsburg Heights, we began using the newly realized abilities of our two druids – Wild Shape. Between the two brothers they could maintain a bird-form for a total of about 8 hours. So the ongoing plan is for one of them to be our eyes-above at all times. Very shortly after we began moving, Aschim spotted a massive column of Orcs moving in the plains to the North. Apparently, the fighting between the Orcs and Kobolds is getting serious … He reported a scouting party of some 20 orcs, and a black-cloaked figure leading them. Thier course would take them within easy reach if we wanted to engage them. As a group, the vote was to do so – but with the plan that we needed to make the remains of the encounter seem that it was not “us” – but a kobold band that they were attacked by.
We placed ourselves in a fairly concealed area – being the plains, the best we could do was an area of fairly tall grass with a couple of well placed depressions to hide ourselves in. As we watched the Orc band approach, there was a flash nearby and a figure appeared … The figure – a Night Hag, was riding a Nightmare …“Umbarra” called out to Aeromir, one of our wizards, as well as to Razmik, our dwarven cleric. The Hag asked them to “Join the Bloodline” – to which they both replied “no” … With her offer rebuked, she rode towards the Orcs, and gave them a wave of her arm – and they attacked.
As they rushed forward, Dimitri cast one of his Entangle spells. This brought the entire band to a halt at first. As they began to slowly fight thru the spell effect, the party rained arrows and magical damage down upon them. We had dispatched about 2/3 of the Orcs, when the Hag appeared again. She was invisible at first – her position being given away by the tall grass she was riding thru … She charged down upon (Chris A.), and the Nightmare struck him a fairly serious wound. As the party changed its attention from the remaining Orcs to the Hag / Nightmare, Dimitri summoned a Gust of Wind – which was just enough to dismount the Hag from the Nightmare. She was only 10’ off the ground, so she took no damage from the fall. However, the riderless Nightmare took the chance to gate (?) away once it was apparently free of the Hag’s control … We apparently managed to hurt the Hag enough that she shifted to an Ethereal state – smiling at us as she watched us. She then faded away. We finished off the remaining Orcs – there were no escapees that we are aware of. We searched them, took a few weapons that were useful, and then set to burning a few of the bodies with some kobold oil flasks we were carrying. We left a few of the battered kobold weapons we were carrying in the area. The last thing we did was have the druids and the ranger try to cover up the tracks of the “normal” sized members of our party – leaving only the smaller shoe prints of the halflings, hoping they might be mistaken as kobold tracks.
End of 11/2 session.
Needing to try and lay low for a day or two to heal our wounded comrades, we began to search for a place to get out of sight. Not that easy, in the middle of a vast plain … We angled our path North West, trying to make the lower edge of the Alton Mountains. Dimitri and Aschim remained aloft as much as possible, scouting to keep the party clear of trouble. Late in the day, as the party trekked closer to the western edge of the Alton Mountains (see Map 1) Dimitri spotted 4 figures in a cave opening high up towards Oliver’s Peak. 3 men and 1 woman, who moved inside the cave and out of sight before any closer look could be taken. In the morning Aschim flew up that way to see if he could spot anything. From the air, he spotted a druid-trail moving up the mountain from the plains. There was a small camp of kobolds, approx. 25, camped in the path of the travel we would need to take to reach the druid-trail. They were not Nitchgar, but were dressed in reddish clothing / armor. They have a greenish skin, which upon closer look seems a bit “scaley” – but is still more “skin” than “scale”. As we found out, it is definately tougher to punch thru with a weapon ! (AC-20)
We moved up the low pass to a point just out of view of the camped kobolds. Our obsevations revealed 25 kobolds, a few which were noticably bigger that the rest. We would find out that they are a bit stronger, but in fact are no tougher than their smaller counterparts. There also were 4 large sacks in the camp – we would investigate them after dealing with the owners !
Earamir used his powers of illusion to create a “false wall” – the view of the pass we were coming up out of. We planned to close the gap between us as fast as possible, and if they believed the illusion itw could buy us an extra round or two to close. The vast majority of the kobolds did not notice the illusion right away. We moved forward as quickly as possible – some of our band opened fire with arrows, and in the case of Razzmek – a Spiritual Gauntlet spell effect. (Fir-ria or Aschim) nearly fell into a concealed pit – but at the last second relized there was something in front of them. Unfortunately, with the attacks from the bows, and the noise of the pit-trap sprinnging – the illusion was breaking down quickly. As we began to take some damage from crossbows that the kobolds had, Dimitri cast a Wall of Wind – aligning it partway across the encampment. This caused any missiles crossing the Wall to be deflected and automatically miss. Earamir, I believe, summoned a Swarm which he set upon the nearest kobolds. As we closed into melee with them, Fionn and Aschim lead the way into the melee. The fight was short, and no kobolds attempted to flee. We cut them down entirely. When all was said and done, we investigated the bags, one of which seemed to be wiggling. Inside, we found a dwarf fighter named Finaharal. He had been captured farther north, and was apparently sold to these kobolds. He seems willing to stay with us for the time being, as we are heading generally northward – and as he has found out, it is not safe to travel alone !
The other bags held poor quality foodstuffs, mostly inedible to us – but one bag had 12 carefully wrapped packages in it. Upon opening them, we found each parcel contains 12 crossbow bolt-shafts. They appear to have been soaked in a naturally-based poison. They obviously were intended to be tipped and fletched where-ever they were to be delivered to. But, it made us question if these new kobolds were possibly resistant to poison – as it seemed that even to handle these shafts to finish them would expose the fletcher to the poison soaked into the wood. A new twist, and a new breed of the vermin …
We took a few more of our kobold oil flasks, and tried to stage things as if this was a squabble between factions – dumping all of the bodies into the pit-trap before we left the area. Again, working to cover our tracks as best we could, and trying to make things look like it was more in-fighting amongst the green-skins, and not what it really is – “us”.
End of 11/9 session
The December Sessions
The party wound their way with great toil to the end of passages. Fighting off Nichegarr attacks and eventually found their way to a passage in the rock that seemed suspect. Upon closer examination it revealed itself a passage into the tunnels of the Duergar. These people had little respect for the outside world. But having problems of their own agreed to invite the party in for a parley and perhaps recruit them to do business. This meeting revealed much.
The party was placed in a waiting chamber and eventually sat with the Duergar Queen. She was calm but obviously mistrusting. She revealed answers to a few questions and made a grand offering. The first answer was that the Duergar had found the body of the druid that looked over these lands. It was suspected that he was slain perhaps by kobolds, greens, or worse. His valuables were returned to the party druids to bring to Gwydion. The Duergar were divided into two factions. The elders that dug deep, and the grays that the queen revealed wished to leave this lair of generations and reunite with others in mountains in the north.
When asked by the party why they simply did not leave, they revealed that Gelsh had a great hatred for them, as the elders had long ago killed his wife in mage form. They asked the party to approach Gelsh on this matter and offered the lair for the humans to make a new home of in return. The party left giving no assurances, and the Duergar made it clear that they would not be welcomed should they come back. While in the guest chamber they spotted what they assumed the crypt of Gelsh’s wife.
After making their way to the surface the party spotted a passage across the mountain to avoid climbing all the way over it. It was a scary journey as the mountain was riddled with bug bears and owlbears. They proved to be dangerous foes, and on a few occasions the party took injury to its ranks in battling them to make passage.