23rd of Uktar, 1048 TR : The group convened with Drew the Avaricious, getting him to hawk there few treasures, and arranged to have their rooms and warehouse slot for another ten-day. They began interrogating Lady Alimira of Blackhill, finding-out her past, and any reasons why she had been kidnapped, and by whom. She wasn’t much help, but the group concluded that she had been valuable enough that the kidnappers had insisted she not be harmed… and getting goblins not to eat her or otherwise do anything to her meant they were highly motivated by someone not to…
Then the group realized something. The goblins from The Monastery of Magos had only had a few handfuls of copper coins among them, but also had a cache of silver nuggets in their possession. The only other silver nuggets they’d found, were being mined by the goblins in the “Goblin King’s Mine”… Someone had been paying-off the “Monastery Goblins” with silver from the “Goblin King”… Perhaps the rumored “Master” was, in fact, real…
While the rest busied themselves with various personal tasks, Ash Cogward and Fangrik decided to go to Quarrytown and see what rumors they might uncover. They wandered about, and eventually settled near the fire in the central tavern they’d visited before. As night grew dark, they listened about for any rumors, hearing about the magical properties of the local baker’s bread (drugged?!?), and the mystical man who lives high on the Quarry’s heights, one Goazaar. SOme claimed he was a mage, others a priest of Magos, the God of Magic.
The pair then clambered up to Goazaar’s shack high on the side of the quarry, and found the old man blowing smoke-rings on his veranda, despite the cold. After a few passing insults, (apparently he finds it insulting everyone thinks him both a mage and a priest… “I mean, can’t an old man just enjoy the stars at night without being labelled a wizard or some such”…) they settled into a casual comradeship, and the pair were able to get a promise from him to help answer some of their questions, if they would get the local courtesan’s free of their contracts from their “master”…
The pair returned to Quarrytown and headed straight to the Courtesan’s Guild’s tent, where they paid 1 gp each for the privelege of a lady’s companionship… “appropriate” to their tastes. Larkka, a tall petite blond took Ash, and Tokanu, a buxom brunette to Fangrik, each into their private chambers. Fangrik tried to get his girl to talk, but she was insistent upon having a go at him, so he wrestled her into her sheets, tying her up and gagging her. Taking her into Ash’s chamber, he found his attempts less than successful, with Ash helpless, having been wrestled into a compromising position, while Larkka had her way with him. After waiting for the two to finish, he Fangrik smuggled Tokanu outside and had her point-out “The Master’s” tent, meaning Rikar the Raven. She warned that they’d never get close to him, since he always escaped every attempt on his life, having his “Ravens” sacrifice themselves to get him away…
24th of Uktar : Letting the girls go, they returned from Quarrytown, stopping long enough to acquire some rolls from the bakery, just as it was opening, and slept a few hours in The Palisade before returning back to The Keep.
With the dawn, the group met again in The Inn of the Prancing Pegasus, and compared notes. They decided teh best way to keep Alimira safe was to hide her “in plain sight”, keeping her as though she were just another of Lord Taumus of House Daure‘s servants. They rented a couple cheap apartments along the southern castle wall of the Outer Bailey in The Keep, since it would save money, and moved the girls into it. They gathered some supplies (along with a thick winter coat for Alimira), and left the girls, under _Alimira’s_ care, a pouch of coins for incidental expenses (21 gp, 20 sp and 40 cp). The group made preparations to return back to the site of the orc ambush, since, it seemed, this was possibly the back entrance to the Goblin King’s Mines they’d looked for but never found.
25th of Uktar : Despite the hard, blowing storm outside, the group headed back up the trail into the mountains above Quarrytown, looking for the site marked on their map with a mining symbol, or, at least, the pile of orc corpses they’d left by the roadside. At the site of the frozen corpses (now half-buried with snow and solid as rocks), they left the trail, and headed into the forest.
Up the trail they found an old mine-head, with tumbled shacks, and a guard watching just inside the open mine beyond. Fangrik snuck up along the mountainside, and just as he thought he was being sneaky, heard Ash and Taumus just behind him, which, of course, alarmed the guard. He shrieked a warning about there being “…thirty intruder elves and an elephant!”, and a battle began. After promptly removing the guard at the entrance, the group found a winding cave entrance shorn with timbers, that opened into a large cave organized into a camp. In addition to various supplies and a warm fire with supplies of firewood, they found a pair of horses, about a dozen bandits and a mage. The cave was sealed by a large porticullis.
While Fangrik struggled with the gate, eventually performing a heroic effort to open it (a 20!, and assisted by Squirrel, who also got a 20!), Kruck, Aaron Fisher and the others slipped into the chamber and laid into them with spells and blades. Ash disabled the portcullis open with his thievery skills and the battle turned very strongly against the bandits, despite their apparent skill at arms. Indeed, during the fight, they showed great skill and co-ordination in their defenses, with halbardiers guarding the archers and mage, while a leader-type warrior waded into the fray with zeal.
Finally, their forces being taken apart by spells and ranged attacks, the mage and a couple of his followers tried to employ a floating elevator platform to slip down into a lower cavern. Fagrik, in a brave display of acrobatic prowess, leaped over one of the pack horses, and landed next to the fleeing troop, taking one archer with his spear. As they dropped into the pit, he scaled down the chain easily, skewering the mage and crouching over the body, frightening all of the survivors. Taumus blasted one archer from the pit’s rim into charcoal, and by the time it reached the bottom, the survivors had surrendered. Fangrik noted a pallet along one wall of the chamber, sitting on a stone shelf to the north, along with a collection of supplies. Several other passages led from the chamber. He gathered the bodies onto the platform, and with Kruck’s help managed to get the platform pulled back up into the upper cave.
The group sealed-off the platform mechanism, tied-up the prisoners, and piled the bodies outside in the snow. They secured the belongings of the dead (including 118 sp, 12gp and various weapons and armor), and piled them next to the other supplies in the chamber, and tied-off both horses, intending to use them to take these valuables back down the mountain. Then the group settled into a lengthy interrogation of the prisoners.
The survivors (one archer and a pair of halbardiers), claimed to be soldiers from Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom, who were under orders from the now-dead mage to watch Frandor’s Keep and its trade for some purpose they weren’t privy to. They had come to this cave, following the mage, slaughtered a half-dozen orcs in the cave, and dumped their bodies down into the pit. It seemed the mage had been meeting with someone (or something) down below, and had been camping here ever since. Something about their stories, however, did not seem right. They were lying about one aspect of their story, but the group couldn’t tell which. The group secured them tightly and setting a guard, slept.
26th of Uktar : Taking a careful extra time (and thievery check), Ash made certain the prisoners were tied tightly together, and then the group left Squirrel to keep an eye over them. The group then gathered aboard the platform, and travelled back down into the lower caves. They found a large open cave that had evidence of mining work. Along the north was a stone shelf with an old pallet, and several collected supplies in a bundle. The entire floor of the cave was covered in milky water about an inch deep. The roof was strewn with glittery pockets of gold that Ash quickly determined to be iron pyrite.
Gathering the supplies and spreading the valuables among the group (oil, lantern, sacks, rope and a bunch of relatively new miner’s picks), they started moving methodically through the deeper mining tunnels, finding evidence of extensive mining in pockets. Eventually they uncovered a chamber holding six skeletons armed and standing, looking in all directions. Fangrik approached, and from among them a black cloud appeared, slowly moving towards him, before forming into the shape of a large humanoid monster with black skin and bearing a massive rusted iron morningstar. They identified it as an Nighthaunt Oni. It breathed on him, stunning him. Combat ensued.
In the fight, a series of sharp strikes against the orc skeletons and the massive black figure that was able to stun them with its vaporous breathing, and oddly dreamlike qualities. Eventually the skeletons were all defeated, and the black figure fled, turning into black vapour before slipping away down a small, narrow tunnel deep in the mines… the group believed they had met, The Master. Aaron performed last rights on the orc skeletons (using Elvish traditions…).
Searching the remaining mine tunnels after a brief rest, they slipped back out of the mines, gathered their supplies in the upper caves, and took the rest of teh day to sleep and discuss other options.
27th of Uktar : Returning down the mountain, they brought the prisoners to the attention of the Captain of Storm Tower, where they had to explain why the men were tied-up. Fangrik reminded Taumus to keep it simple, which helped speed the process. They were given writs for 10 sp for each as a bounty. They returned back to teir apartments, checked on the girls and spent the night in the Inn of the Prancing Pegasus, feasting and taking their rest in warmth and good company.
Discussing their options, they contacted Drew to get some money on the weapons and armor they’d collected, though he convinced them to keep the two horses at least until Spring, since they were free to maintain, and the group would get good money for them then, if they didn’t want them anymore, since caravans and mercs would likely be looking for new mounts.
They also thought about the other question on their minds… what about Brightflame?