Bear Claws

23. The Queen of the Drylands

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Xaladin, Thornside, Roland
Level: 7
Location: Lost Mines of Karak
NPCs: Shephatiah, Pug, Quick

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The Bear Claws descend into the mine shaft revealed under the Ironfell Fortress. The platform they descend on lowers slowly through eighty feet of bedrock. At they bottom they find crates full of iron infused with elemental chaos energy. The walls also pulse with the same glowing red veins of chaos.

Jak walks around the corner and sees a lowered portcullis and a couple Troglodyte guards. He approaches and triggers a trap that shoots poisoned darts from the walls.

The guards stab at him through the portcullis and the rest of the Bear Claws come around the corner to help him. James and Jak lift the portcullis out of the way while the guards attack.

The Bear Claws pursue the Troglodytes into a cavern where they finish them off. From there they explore several side tunnels, and find a narrow passage that leads to a secret door into another cavern. In this huge cavern are scattered the bones of long dead dwarves, their skulls mostly missing and their bodies piled in obvious signs of struggle.

Xaladin and James perform a speak with dead ritual on one of the more intact skeletons and ask him what they were fighting about. He tells them betrayal. They were all betrayed.

On one end of the cavern are two carrion crawlers with their egg nest that watch the Bear Claws suspiciously. Remembering the stench of their last encounter with one of their kind the Bear Claws opt to avoid the carrion crawlers. They instead head in a different direction. A swarm of spiders attack Thornside and a zombie rises up out of the debris that litters the floor. Thornside hurls the spiders away and they flee up the walls. However, a demonic barlgura comes from around the corner to attack, further slamming into Thornside who vows to never take the lead in exploring again.

After killing the zombie and the demon the Bear Claws hear voices coming from the passage ahead. They hear Pug and Quick arguing with a smooth and seductive female voice.

Pug: “Make sure the next shipment goes out. Sarshan has pormised Fangren one more shipment of these weapons.”

Shephatiah: “Tell your toady not to worry. I will fulfill my contract. I am the Queen of the Drylands.”

Quick: “Malthazard says to be careful of the Bear Claws. They have proven tricky in the past.”

Shephatiah: “Malthazard is a micromanager. Bram told me to take care of them. That’s why he sent them here. They’re far from Overlook and it will be long before they are missed.”

Pug: “Can you? They’ve been equal to your sycophants so far?”

Quick: “Bram is more worried about gaining power than about the mission. Sarshan is more worried about staying covert than about success. Malthazard, however, will flay the flesh from your bones if you screw this up.”

Shephatiah: “Sarshan will have his shipment. Bram will have the Bear Claws out of the way and Malthazard will continue to infect the material plane with chaos because I am in control. I am the Queen of the Drylands.”

Just then Jak and James round the corner into the chamber where they find a rift to the elemental chaos cut into the rock. Across the rock, coiled atop a massive pile of skulls is a serpent with a woman’s face, a Naga wearing a golden ring on her tail.

Also in the room are two mezzodemons, a tiefling and a minotaur. The tiefling is just finishing a portal ritual when they enter and he smiles and waves at James before stepping through. Pug looks at Jak and simply nods to him before following Quick and the portal snaps closed behind them.

The Bear Claws leap to attack and Shephatiah curses them with psychic blasts and her mezzodemons try to pin them down with their trident attacks. Shortly after the fight began a Firelasher comes up out of the rift and whirls around the room, burning everybody before settling in to lash at Xaladin.

The Queen and her demons prove to be a bit of a challenge for the Bear Claws but they pull off a couple of good strikes and render the queen unconscious, killing her companions.

In the room, before questioning the Queen they find a crumpled piece of paper on top of her pile of skulls that is a letter from Bram Ironfell asking her to kill the Bear Claws for him. They also find a pile of mining explosives in one of the alcoves.

Jake takes the ring from Shephatiah’s tail and the Bear Claws decide that it would best be served by Roland.

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