Characters: Cynder, Lyric, Vraela, Dust, Oogway, Eddings
And we’re back! Our goal on this adventure was to scout out a dwarven fortress which adventurers had come across on a previous adventure. Supposedly, this fortress was occupied by a group of dwarves who had been taken from nearby settlements against their will, and enslaved into service under the god Talos.
Before we left, our group spoke with a defector from the fortress who the last party had rescued. He told us that there was a “legion” of dwarves within the fortress, at least a hundred. Based on accounts of the previous assault on the fortress, his numbers seemed accurate. He also seemed confident that there might be a secondary entrance, something less guarded. We decided to go off in search of this back entrance, in hopes we could do some investigation and perhaps infiltrate when they weren’t expecting it.
Part 1: Through the Mountains
Leaving from Swollen Tooth Inn, we made our way to the north along the route the previous party had taken, headed for the citadel. We had barely set out when we ran across a caravan of dwarves, looking battered and bruised.
The leader of the caravan, Noznek Koboldgranite, told us it was a caravan headed for Swollen Tooth. They were survivors of raids by the followers of Talos, and they were trying to get to safety. Apparently, the forces had been raiding villages near to their fortress for a few months now. They would take people of all ages, livestock, and anything else they could get their hands on.
We reassured Noznek that we were going to deal with the citadel, and continued on our way through the mountains. Some time later, we came across a horrific sight. It seems that the worshippers of Talos care not for life, only for wanton destruction and killing. They had murdered animals of all shapes and sizes, leaving their corpses to rot. Not a single hide nor slice of meat had been harvested. I said a quick prayer for the spirits of the creatures slain, and we continued on our way.
As nightfall neared, we found a small hotsprings to camp for the night. A mother baboon and her three babies were drinking from the water, and I made friends with them and learned their shapes. I thought they were adorable, but Vraela refused to let me bring them into the Tiny Hut. We said our farewells, and bedded down for the night.
Partway through the night, Oogway spotted four strange lights in the darkness. I helped him to investigate, and they turned out to be pyramid-shaped, faintly glowing objects. As we woke the others to see if any of them knew what the lights might be, we were attacked!
A group of drow came from the mountains around us, intent on spilling blood. We managed to fight them off with the help of a Sleep spell from Cynder, and found nothing of note on their bodies. Our best guest is that they were some sort of probe or scouting party, working under a priest of Lloth.
Part 2: Snowy Peaks
We set out the next morning, intent on reaching the citadel. However, our travels were stopped short as we encountered a platoon of skeletal soldiers, led by some sort of commander and accompanied by a mage in a black robe. The ensuing battle was a rough one, with both Oogway and Eddings falling to the skeletons’ blades at one point. However, we were able to overcome their forces through clever uses of Counterspell by Eddings and lots of lightning.
Once the undead had been defeated, we rifled through their remains in search of any clues as to their allegiances. On the mage’s robes, we found a crudely stitched symbol of a ram’s head with a drop of blood on its forehead. According to Dust and Vraela, the symbol is that of a demonic summoning cult. Beware of other patrols from this cult who may be in the area.
Continuing down the path, we came across a metal structure half-buried in the snow. Closer inspection revealed it to be a mechanical construction, a crane built to carry loads up and down the cliffside nearby. A battle had recently taken place there between a group of dwarves of Talos and a group of drow, and it appeared that the drow had won.
Deciding to scale the cliff, I used my Wildshape ability to ferry those of us with weaker arms to a ledge about forty feet down. We found a cave and tunnel there, which we followed a fair ways into the mountain. Eventually, the tunnel opened up into a massive cavern, and we found a looming fortress within.
Dust informed us that it was likely the home of a lost dwarven clan that went by the name of the “Iron Strikers”. Supposedly they had disappeared some 200 years ago, and she thought this might have been a structure they had made.
We bedded down for the night with the intention of exploring the fort in the morning. Partway through the night, however, we were approached by three shadowy figures. They turned out to be dwarven children who had escaped from the dwarves of Talos, manacled together and badly malnourished. We fed them and Dust translated for us as they told us of the atrocities the Talos worshippers were committing. Supposedly, the captured dwarves are forced to mine and work forges, and if they refuse they are punished with whippings or other barbaric penalties.
The children told us how they had escaped, following metal lines embedded into the ground for nearly two days before finding themselves in the cavern we now stood in. Apparently, the Iron Strikers fortress was some sort of back route into the keep we had been looking to scout out.
Unable to continue forward with children in tow, we finished our rest and began the trek back to Swollen Tooth. Once back, we reunited the children with their family and made a vow to return and clear out the barbaric dwarves once and for all.