Wherein the heroes save the town and return to find new troubles.
The group was standing around the altar room feeling spectacular, but still could not decide what to do next. Meander wanted to chase down the kobold before anything bad could happen. The others wanted to finish hunting mushrooms and get back to town. It didn’t take long for them to talk him into searching for mushrooms while looking for the kobold.
Broken lashed the torch to the golem’s arm as the group left the altar room and gathered round the left-hand door in the hallway. Meander pulled on the door, but it was stuck tight. The door was stout oak banded with metal. Undaunted, Broken instructs the golem, “Bring it doooowwwwn.” Stone man heaves his stony mass into the door, cracking the wood. A loud crack, and the door breaks inward, an ancient chair wedged against the door shattering to bits. The room is dark. Meander says, “Oooh. There’s a dead body in the corner.”
The golem walks into the room, the torch on his arm illuminating the small room. A skeleton of a small creature, maybe a dog, is lying in the corner. Broken walks into the room to search for mushrooms. He doesn’t spot any mushrooms, but while searching near the bones, he notices the creature was wearing some kind of harness.
“There are only dog bones. Dogs don’t barricade doors.”
The group investigates the bones closer. The dog was wearing some sort of subtle cape. In the cape is a small silver hammer. Next to the dog, low to the floor, are small carvings and some broken glass. The runes on the wall are similar to the runes on the thin sheets of metal. There are also similar runes on the hammer, but they are cleaner. Red recognizes the runes as Dwarven, but says they don’t sound Dwarven. He is able to recognize the runes on the wall. “Forgive me my dark father, my toil will never be enough.” The symbols on the hammer are most likely religious, but he is not able to make a translation.
Red looks carefully at the stone floor, which is worn but undisturbed. There is sand and dust by the runes, indicating they were carved after the room was sealed.
The shards of glass look like it might have been a vial of some kind. The glass was very thin, of very high craftsmanship.
Broken wonders if the dog bones were similar to the giant wolf. Frog peers at the bones. “Not like any dog bones I’ve ever seen. The bones are smaller but heavier. Perhaps it was a bear, but it would’ve been a very small bear.” Broken asks, “Could it have been a man bear?” Frog answers, “Well, it was wearing things.” He smells the glass shards. “I think there was a very strong poison contained in that vial.”
Stone Man leads the group back up the north hallway to continue exploring, followed by Meander, Read, Frog, Broken with ToughBark watching the back. The hallway turns to the east revealing a long hall with several doors along the way ending in the broken rubble of one of the towers. As they approach the first door Meander says, “This room up ahead has a chest in it. It was left slightly open when the kobold ran away.”
Broken says, “Go in and be ready for anything.”
The group crowds around the door, getting ready to burst in. ToughBark gets out his bow and positions himself to guard the rear. The door is unlocked, and swings easily open. Stone Man and Meander walk inside. The room appears to be a small study, recently live in. Gnawed bones and tuffs of fur litter the floor. A stone desk stands prominently in the center of the room; its sides scuffed and scratched. An archway opens to the west and a chest stands in the northeast corner.
The group examines the chest, but it appears to be completely empty. They move to the desk. It appears to have been made for a child. It is made of stone, and has some drawers that pull out. In one of the drawers are some strange thin metal sheets and an ice pick like tool.
The group moves to the western archway. The ceiling of the chamber has fallen in, crowding the center of the room with rubble around a fallen support pillar. Gaping holes in the ceiling allow faint light to enter the chamber. The room is thick with the stench of wet fur with an earthy tinge. The rubble in the room offers plenty of shadows and hiding places.
The group goes cautiously into the room, and quickly finds several clumps of mushrooms. Frog identifies them as more iron-caps, enough to make a sizeable amount of cure that should handle all the people in the town.
The group stops to talk about next steps. They have the last ingredient for the cure. Do they take it back? Do they search for the kobolds? Do they investigate the wolves? Do they continue to search the ruins?
While they discuss, they also peer around the room a bit closer. On the north side of the room is a bed of some creature, made of fur and leaves. At the far west side of the room is a stairway going down. The stairs are dark and foreboding, covered in rubble. As they look down the stairway Red says, “There was a creature running down these stairs.”
Meander struggles with going back to the town or investigating the dark ominous stairway. Using his night sight, he starts to pick his way down the stairs through the rubble.
Red announces, “We are about to fight half a dozen things, coming up the stairs, not being subtle at all.” Broken starts chanting over a knife while Meander works his way back to the group at the top of the stairs.
Red says, “They are going back down.”
Broken adds, “Meander, go run down there and stir them up.”
“While that sounds like a great plan, let’s come back later and get them. The town really needs this cure.”
So, the group gathers together and goes back to the wagon. They have an uneventful ride back to town, leaving the wagon and the golem outside the walls. The group proceeds directly to Laurels to give her the final ingredient. She is very excited. Seven people have died since the taint first appeared in town. She pays each of us 30 silver. Frog stays at Laurels to help her craft the cure.
Afterwards, the rest of the group heads back for some food and rest at the Sitting Duck. Broken rents a nice room for the night. The others decide to stay in the common room. They gather around a table to share some ale. Broken rushes back into the common room lamenting the theft of some 200 silver. Broken goes up to the barkeep to question him about his missing money. “It probably would help to have some pockets to pick.” The town just wasn’t rich enough to draw pick pockets. He decides the theft occurred at the Cauldron.
During the afternoon, Meander overhears some talk of wolves and asks the innkeeper about them. “They’ve been braver. These ones have been doing sneak attacks and not showing themselves until the last minute.
Red and Broken decide to spend some time researching their magic. Broken is researching a spell to create dancing blades.
Meander decides to go for a walk and proceeds to the north lumber camp. He stays close to the forest and checks out the camp of the elementalists. They have four tents set up in a clearing; red, blue, black and white. Half a dozen robed men are talking to peasants, merchants, and sellswords. Words are faint, but it appears they are talking to the people about religion. There are only about eight people not in robes. He listens for awhile before going back to the inn and hears some talk about bases, research, and building houses.
The next morning, the group gathers early for breakfast at the inn. A man with a giant axe on his shoulder approaches their table.
Broken says, “Good day to you sir. What would you like of us?”
“Hello boys, I’m Sheriff Baleson. You boys did a fine job going out to the wilderness for a cure. Laurel basically has everything cured up soon. You making a name for yourself in town. You lookin for a job?”
“Possibly, what kind of job?”
“Help keep the peace and protect the people. Basically do what you already did.”
“How much does it pay.”
“2 silver a day.”
They nod interest.
Sheriff Baleson continues, “I’ve already got something that I need you to do. Some kids have gone missing. I’m afraid of what will go on around here if I leave. I’m the only person standing between the people and the lumber consortium. They’ve been looking to get rid of me for awhile.”
The group agrees and the sheriff gives them more details. A group of kids that hang together have gone missing; Kitten, Howler, Jabs, Junior and Vale. Kitten is the daughter of Brightcat, a seamstress. She is a rough headstrong girl of 10 that can beat up any boy in town. She looks after Jabs. Hawler is 11 and stays with his sister RedDance at the RougeLady. He is a pretty skilled woodcarver for a lad. Jabs is 13 and the town’s butcher’s kid. He is slow, but not afraid of hard work. He’s a good kid. Junior is Gavel Greed’s kid. He is 10 and is an insufferable bully who threatens all the kids. Lastly, Vale is 9 and is ShadeCough’s kid.
“They all disappeared yesterday morning. I can’t pinpoint when they went missing, but I walked the streets and saw kids playing all day.”
“Did you check the red robe camp?”
Sheriff responded, “That would be a good place for you to start.” With that, he left the group to their investigation.
Broken decides to try the merchants. He has no luck as they don’t track the activities of the non-paying patrons.
The innkeeper knows some of the kids. “Big personalities those kids. They’ve always been around here. They weren’t one of the two kids that got healed by them red robes.”
They start going to talk to the families.
Butcher Cauldron doesn’t know anything and is worried. “Don’t let people tell you about Junior because of his dad. He’s a good kid. He comes over here and reads to Jabs.”
ShadesCough is incensed. “But you guys can find him… You found the cure, right?”
RedDance is a very worried about Hawler, but has no additional information.
BrightCat is very easy going and not worried about Kitten. “She might get into trouble because she stands up to people. Her father was a ranger named IceSickle. He used to patrol the woods for the lumberjacks, but he’s been missing for many years. Anyway, I’d be the last to know what she was doing, because I’d just tell her they weren’t allowed.”
Red has an idea to ask the local kids. They find several kids and question them before one of them confesses. “They went to spend the night in the burned out house on the hill under the moon. You know.. Tender’s halfway house.”
They go to the Sherrif to tell him where they are going. “God’s be merciful. It’s right up against the wood and there is nothing there.”
“Ten years ago, right at the end of the Goblin blood war, there were lots of kids without parent. Tender started this orphanage and took them all in. A few years ago, the place caught fire. It was a horrible tragedy. The whole place burned. As far as we know, nobody survived.”
The group readies to go, but Frog decides to stay in town to help Laurel with her alchemy. So, Broken, Meander, Red, ToughBark and StoneMan gather by the wagon to head off to the orphanage. After a few hours, they turn off the main road to proceed towards the forest and the halfway house.
The charred remains of the orphanage lay on the top of the hill. It stands a broken husk, a mixture of fallen stones and burned cinder. The path leads up the hill and under soot stained stone arches. A child’s doll lies under the arch, its face sheared off. A line of toy soldiers lie twisted along the path, melted into tortured poses.
The group begins to search the ruins. They find a trap door in the center of the ruins however the handle was melted flush. Stone Man attempts to force the trap door open but it doesn’t budge. Broken and Meander assist the Stone Man. The door cracks and breaks into a few pieces.
From the hole, the stench of rot belches forth. After the stench clears a bit, peering inside reveals a scene of horror. A chipped, blood stained table stands in the center of the room covered with sharp implements of torture. Shackles line the walls. A robed corpse of a woman slowly decomposes on the floor.
The group goes down a short ladder to the torture chamber. Upon approaching the corpse, the remaining flesh cracks open and tiny spiders erupt forth in a swarm. The immediately begin to cover the ground at Broken, Meander and Red’s feet. They start crawling up their legs and biting all over their bodies, moving easily under their clothes and armor. Broken starts to freak out. Meander begins to swat the spiders on his skin and runs for the ladder. Red starts chanting and gesturing at the ground. The earth and rock bubble around his feet. The earth crawls up his body, completely incasing him in rock. Broken follows Meander, swatting off as many spiders as he can. He instructs Stone Man to squish spiders. ToughBark also goes to the ladder.
StoneMan starts stomping at the tiny spiders. They start to swarm over his legs. From the darkness of the corner of the room, a giant spider skitters over to Stone Man and lunges at his leg doing no harm. Red’s spell completes, crushing the spiders underneath and protecting him from further spider bites.
The swarm of tiny spiders leaves StoneMan and approach the rest of the group. They start to gather at ToughBark’s feet while he waits for Broken to climb up the ladder. ToughBark starts screaming as they swarm his legs and ankles and starts trying to climb the ladder. Meander reaches down to help and pulls him up. The swarm starts covering the ladder, climbing up to the warm bodies above.
Red pulls out his stout rod and strikes at the spider, but only cracks one of the spider’s legs. StoneMan grabs his greatsword and swings it down across the spider’s back, cracking open the outer shell. The spider curls up.
The swarm reaches the top of the ladder and starts to crawl across the ground towards Meander, Broken and ToughBark. Meander, at wits end, throws himself down on the swarm and rolls on them to squish them.
Red comes up the ladder to attack the spiders. The swarm reaches ToughBark and Broken now and continues biting the three men. Broken passes out from the bites. StoneMan starts to charge towards the ladder, rushing to Broken’s defense. Seeing the bloody smears where Meander was crushing the spiders, ToughBark and Red begin to roll on the spiders as well. ToughBark, Red, and Meander continue to roll around for a bit more and manage to crush the majority of the swarm.
Meander goes over to Broken, but is cautious as StoneMan stands vigilant above Broken. He attempts to bandage some of Broken’s wounds, but Broken doesn’t revive. After about a minute, Meander begins to feel weak and looks to his own wounds. He starts slicing open the bites and sucking out the poison.
Red and ToughBark also start feeling weak. ToughBark says to the group that they need to try to stop the venom, because it could kill. He works on himself, Red, and Broken, stabilizing them enough to continue. Broken finally comes too while ToughBark is tending to his wounds. Broken feels extremely weak.
While Broken rests a bit, the group looks around the halfway house. On the table in the cellar is a damp rotten bundle of herbs and two masterwork silver daggers. ToughBark finds wolf tracks around ruins of the house. Also, just off the hill, near the edge of the woods, ToughBark finds the kids camp. Their tent is shredded. There are signs of a struggle, with shreds of clothing and blood on the ground. He finds a few reptile scales, similar to the kobolds. Tracks of two legged clawed feet dragged things away, cutting into the woods due west, back towards Boar’s End.
One of the group spies a little girl hiding in the brush at the edge of the woods. We coax her out of the woods.
“My name is Jet”. She appears to be a rail thin, green eyed girl of about 14. Her mouse brown hair is a tangle. He rags barely cover her. Her back, arms and legs are covered in brutal scars.
“Where did you come from?”
“I was one of the orphans.”
“How old are you, little girl?”
“What’s up with the basement?”
“It was for my own good. She did this to make us better.”
“Did you see what happened to the kids here?”
“They made a camp and a fire. They were attacked by the little lizards. They dragged them off.”
The group talks for a bit about where the kobolds might have taken the kids when Jet pipes up, “Oh – I know where. I see them in the woods.”