Bear Claws

52. Trebuchet's Were Totally Designed With Passengers in Mind

Characters: Del, Galadorn, Thoran, Foe
Level: 10
Location: Sherbyrr
NPCs: Kalad, Emil, Pattie, Inogo Dravitch, Zoander, Sorry Apsilar

In an early snowstorm Kalad, Emil and Pattie show up at the Monastery of the Sundered Chain to take a small group of dwarves to Sherbyrr to help break the siege of githyanki.

Upon their arrival Inogo Dravitch introduces them to Zoander, the commander of the city guard, and Sorry Apsilar, the captain of a force of mercenaries sent by Fariex the Scalehammer.

Zoander wants to take the conservative approach and shore up the defenses of the city. Sorry wants to abandon it as lost, fill it with alchemist’s fire and light it once the githyanki move in. The dwarves convince her that they need to defend the city against the githyanki and try to point out methods which might help keep the city safe. Some of which include failed demonstrations of launching themselves from catapults.

Zoander and Sorry wonder why they are there.

The next day the siege starts in a rain storm as githyanki form up in ranks, pushing great rolling siege towers. Dragon knights lift off the ground and airships float into position for a broadside on the city.

Galadorn immediately straps into a trebuchet and launches himself at a dragon, hoping to punch it into an airship. He miscalculates and flies right past the dragon, fist cocked and ready to fly. Thoran, somewhat bookish and clumsy attempts to determine the attacking strategy from the map and gathers the forces to a place farther along the wall. Just in time for a large black minotaur to leap from a siege tower onto the wall and start laying about him with a giant axe and a large cleaver. Githyanki pour over behind him.

Del runs up to the minotaur and tries to throw him off the wall but finds him immovable. Foe chases after Galadorn, hoping to catch him but he sees Galadorn land on an airship and start punching and head-butting his way across the deck.

The siege takes a turn for the worse when the minotaur shouts that he has killed the leader and holds up the body of Kalad, high above his head. Emil, standing on a nearby trebuchet shouts, his spear raised high above his head and runs at the minotaur, stepping on the heads of the githyanki between them.

His spear flashes white and then a siege tower crashes through the wall between the dwarves and Emil and they can no longer see him.

Githyanki corsairs poor from the siege tower onto the wall top and archers can be seen behind the arrow slits of the tower. Thoran starts the encounter off by nearly wiping away all the githyanki on the wall before the tower spits a fireball from the metal dragon-headed top and the archers let loose through the slits. A dragon with a dragon knight shows up and things get pretty edgy after that.

Thoran summons an angel of blades inside the tower to keep the archers busy, Del rallies his allies around the tower to fight it better. Foe and Galadorn (who forced the airship he was on to crash near the wall) fight off the dragon and knock the dragon knight off his mount.

As the tower moves farther into the city the minotaur can be seen talking to Emil, telling him that Kalad can be saved if he is willing to make a deal. Emil agrees and fire bursts out of his mouth burning friend and foe alike.

The dwarves kill the dragon and climb down behind the tower to attack the dragon knight, not realizing that the tower is still mobile. It backs up over them, crushing them and rendering all but Thoran unconscious, and him nearly so.

The minotaur drops Emil on the wall top and sounds a horn that calls the githyanki to press the attack. The tower moves away and the githyanki pour into the city, leaving the dwarves behind for dead. Emil checks on Pattie, lying nearby. Climbs down to the dwarves and uses his Healing Hands to revive the three unconscious ones before climbing back up to check on Kalad.

Kalad moves, opens his eyes and says, “Emil, what have you done.” Then his pupils turn white and his skin gray and his wounds gape open as his mouth peels back in a death rictus grin. His fingers now curved like claws he swipes at Emil, alive only in undeath.

Emil screams at the minotaur and tries to chase after them but Pattie tackles him. The dwarves, nearly unconscious form loss of blood themselves attack the newly arisen Kalad and beat him back off the wall where they destroy his undead body.

At that moment Sorry Aspilar, leading a contingent of her mercenaries, comes by, fleeing the city. Sherbyrr is lost, the githyanki are pillaging and burning as they move farther to the center and the linked portal is working overtime to get the people trapped int he city out. Everybody else is fleeing while Caliandra’s elves cover the escape. Pattie forces Emil to his feet and drags him away from the city, tears streaming from his face.

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51. In Which the Bear Claws Fight an Epic Battle and Chillreaver is Killed

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 14/15
Location: Icehome
NPCs: Uarion

The Bear Claws fight their way to Uarion, Roland taking down both of the fire elementals with his dagger and his skill with elemental power. Jak knocks Uarion out and ties him up to take with them on the rest of their journey.

They hear some noises beneath a crevasse and Roland shoots a blast of energy into the crevasse to see what is in there. His blast wakes up the umber hulks inside and they crawl out to attack. One grabs Roland and falls back into the crebasse. Jak jumps on him and the umber hulks retreat into a corner. Jak and Roland climb out and the Bear Claws leave the crevasse behind.

Moving further along they encounter a group of ice giants and attempt to sneak up on them. James is spotted and the wolves and giants attack. As soon as it is clear that the Bear Claws are much more powerful the leader of the giants, Nara of the Wastes, offers to trade information and to abandon the iceberg if they will stop killing her sons — the other giants.

She tells the Bear Claws that Chillreaver is the White Exarch of Tiamat. She tells them that he has mirrors that amplify the power of the Seed of Winter. She tells them that there is a false wall in the upper chamber that hides Chillreaver’s lair. She tells them that the jarl of her tribe made a deal with Chillreaver to get the island of Nefelus as a new home once it was completely frozen.

After this she leads her living sons away and uses a linked portal ritual scroll to go home and leave the iceberg, which she says Chillreaver calls Icehome.

The Bear Claws use the ritual that Bejam gave them to rest inside the bole of a large feywild tree. They return and only an hour has passed but they are refreshed and ready to fight Chillreaver.

They venture up the slick ramp to his lair where they find a polished, finely crafted room full of ice gargoyles. They quickly spot the false wall and enter his lair.

Chillreaver sits at the end of a large chamber on a raised dais covered with runes carved into the ice. In the center of the chamber, glittering silver and white is a the Seed of Winter with ten silvery mirrors reflecting bright which light onto it.

Jak, James and Xaladin head for Chillreaver to distract him while Alton and Roland start breaking the mirrors. Chillreaver immediately starts to freeze people. He uses the seed to dominate Xaladin, then Alton, then Jak. His frosty breath proves hard to resist as well and the Bear Claws take turns being immobilized by the cold.

Finally Jak teleports above him and lands on his back to beat on him. Alton steps through the dimensions to arrive at the Seed of Winter, only to find the mirrors are anchoring it in place. He and Roland blast more of the mirrors while Jak is tossed away from the dragon, who scrabbles at the pillar where the Seed is, trying to get Alton away form it.

Jak, dominated and under the control of Chillreaver is dropped to the floor of the chamber and Xaladin fey steps to the pedestal next to Alton where he grabs the Seed of Winter and it speaks to him. “Intimidate and control your friends,” it say, “it is good to be back in the hands of the fey.”

James, unable to attack from a distance throws a rope over Chillreaver’s claw and swings across the attack. He slams into Chillreaver’s side who then swings him, still on the rope until he wraps around the dragon where the dragon bites him and claws at him with his other foot.

James is finally knocked unconscious and dropped to the floor of the chamber and the dragon rushes at Alton. Roland stands up and hits him with a spell that slams him to the floor next to the newly recovered Jak who unleashes his revenge on the dragon.

Alton finishes him off with a silver spike through his chest.

Jak rushes over to James and dumps a healing potion down his throat.

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50. ♫Oooh Chiiiiilllllreaver...♪
I believe you can get me through the night.

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 14
Location: Nefelus
NPCs: Amyria, Bejam

The Bear Claws receive gifts from the Thraxinium of Nefelus before departing on their way to the iceberg. On the way they are attacked by sahuagin soldiers that they dispatch without slowing down by very much.

At the iceberg they find a tunnel opening and follow it in. Inside the sahuagin are busy and one of them rushes off to tell Xurgelmek, their leader. Xaladin and Thornside charge into the cave with their Apparatus of Kwalish and the group quickly takes care of the sahuagin in the room. Thornside knocks out the priestess who is commanding the group and when they wake her up she tells them that Xurgelmek will kill them. She also tells them that Chillreaver will kill them. She annoys them enough that they kill her and move on through the iceberg.

Xurgelmek and his cronies rush into attack and one of the stalactites near Thornside comes alive and turns into an adult behir that tries to swallow him. He dodges and climbs on its back to shoot it. Xaladin rushes to his aid while Jak, James and Alton take out Xugelmek.

A beholder watches them from the top of an icy shelf but does not attack.

The behir swallows Xaladin when he rushes in to help Thornside and Alton dissolves into a cloud and dice and dives down it’s throat where he summons a storm of meteors. The behir belches everybody back out and tries to crawl away but Jak and James finish it off.

The beholder offers information in exchange for not getting killed — claiming that he’s seen them fight and thinks they are too much trouble for him. He tells the Bear Claws that Chillreaver is a two-headed dragon and is the White Exarch of Tiamat and was given the Seed of Winter by Cachlain the Stone-Skinned King who stole it from the Winter Queen in the feywild. Chillreaver came here at Tiamat’s bidding to keep Nefelus out of the war with the githyanki.

He hints that there is great treasure to be had but won’t tell them where it is unless they let him out of the iceberg. Alton isn’t comfortable letting him out because he has freely admitted that he eats people. He seems nice enough to Thornside and James thinks it’s worth it for the money but they leave the beholder behind and climb up through a hole in the ceiling of the chamber where they find another chamber full of stalactites and stalagmites. On a platform at the end of the chamber is a githzerai — probably the psionic mage Uarion that Bejam asked the Bear Claws to bring back — who alternates between cursing them and begging them to save him. As the last of them climb up through the hole in the floor of the chamber he raises his hands and a number of the stalactites and stalagmites in the chamber turn into icy flame and wind elementals.

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49. Over the Wall

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 14
Location: Dornaithos, Nefelus
NPCs: Amyria, Captain Savvy, Bejam

Pattie gives Xaladin some Ocenstride boots and tell him that if he sees any two-headed dragons to tell them she says hi.

The Bear Claws make their way to Dornaithos where they find a ship waiting for them. The Brindol’s Pride has been outfitted with armor and and ice breaker to try and break through the ice blockade around Nefelus. The captain is a tiefling woman who goes by the name of Savvy.

She welcomes them aboard and tells them she has been expecting them. She runs a good crew and her ship is small and light and built for speed. The journey to Nefelus takes a week in which the Bear Claws learn to help on the ship as well as interact with the captain and with Amyria.

Amyria sees great potential in Emil and asks the Bear Claws where they found him. She is only slightly amused by Thornside’s stories but sees through them almost right away.

As they near the island of Nefelus a thick fog gathers and through the fog they see a huge iceberg looming above the ocean. There is a giant ring of ice surrounding the island of Nefelus and a group of frost giants stands on the ice, waiting to push them back. Savvy rams the ice with her ship and the Bear Claws attack and kill the giants.

Continuing on their way to Nefelus they meet Bejam, the sixth Thraxus of Nefelus who takes Amyria to meet with the Thraxinium — the head of the magocracy of Nefelus. While they are gone the deva assigned to see to their comfort provides food, drink and books at their request.

Finally Amyria comes and tells them that the Thraxinium has agreed to join the Coalition of the Bear Claws can release them from the icy grasp that has besieged their island.

Bejam explains that they have been able to determine that the ice is being caused by an artifact called The Seed of Winter which they thought was in the possession of the Winter Queen in the feywild. He warns them that they sent three ships to investigate before the ice wall completely surrounded them. Two ships were overrun by arctic sahuagin and the third was beset by frost giants when it arrived. Only one survivor remained, a githzerai named Uarion. Bejam would like to get Uarion back, if he still lives but fears that he may be lost to the Seed of Winter which can seize control of people’s minds.

He also shows them to a room containing some underwater vehicles that he will give to them for use to get under the ice and approach the ice berg that seems to be the center of the Seed of Winter’s power.

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48. A Fitting End...
...to a tea party.

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 13/14
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Telicanthus, Pennel, Lord Divian Torrence, Baranor the Black, Lady Catherine Torrence, General Taramin, Archdean Isabelle Grimaldi, Amyria, Mary, Buttercup, Althaea, Thera, Jalissa, Members of the Coalition of Rhestilar

The Bear Claws hear Telicanthus’ voice at the entrance to the sunken tower telling them he was disappointed in their misunderstanding and had hoped to be their friends. With a sigh some of his minions roll barrels of burning pitch down into the tower and close the doors. Before the doors close the Bear Claws can see that Emil and Pattie are being held hostage.

Jak, Roland and Thornside bury the fire so the smoke won’t overwhelm them and the others charge out the doors to get Telicanthus.

They find several githyanki hacking at the wooden supports of the tunnel, ready to bring it down. Jak kills one and Alton kills the rest while Telicanthus and Pennel face off with the Bear Claws. Two githyanki haul Emil and Pattie away. When Alton injures one of the githyanki he strikes Emil down. Telicanthus takes control of James and makes him attack Roland, who hits back. Telicanthus then ties Xaladin to himself psychically so that the two of them share damage and healing.

Pattie gets free and cradles Emil’s head in her lap.

Telicanthus finally goes down and the Bear Claws revive Xaladin, who was linked to him. They bring Lord Torrence and his wife down and the two of them understand what is going on but he is stressed about the political repercussions.

Finally they agree to expose Telicanthus as a fraud and reveal what he had been doing. The city doesn’t seem particularly thankful to the Bear Claws but Torrence gives them the mansion as a prize for their aid.

At Bede’s Mary tells them she needs to get to the City of Brass but doesn’t know how to get there. Izera shows up and tells her she will get them to the City, just take her with them.

Alton convinces Buttercup to perform one of her ballads that she wrote. She is embarrassed but agrees. The ballad is the story of Io, father of all dragons and how he fell to the primordial Erek-Hus and how his eldest rose up to take his place.

It is written in draconic so Pattie translates and Emil translates for her into common.

The reception is good and Buttercup comes out of her shell a little.

Pattie tells Alton that she has been thinking of a prophecy given at Emil’s eight day celebration. An old man with a bunch of canaries showed up and made a proclamation. She thinks Malthazard is trying to manifest into the world through Emil.

At the Coalition meeting there is discussion of a githyanki attack at Sherbyrr, home of Inogo Dravitch. Kalad wants Emil to help him lead some dwarves to go help the city. Calliandra offers 1000 elves from the Gloaming Wood to help. They plan on setting out right away.

Inogo wants to parley, he doesn’t want a fight.

Torrence offers to go attempt to parley, to be the voice of the Coalition.

Amyria has a request of the Bear Claws. Her friend Bejam has not received her messages. She fears that the island of Nefelus where he is governor has been neutralized somehow. Quellenna mentions that the island is surrounded by ice, the tropical island governed by powerful mages. Amyria wants the Bear Claws to help her attempt to go there and free the island and bring them into the Coalition.

Fariex the Scalehammer offers to join the Freetraders for a controlling interest in the company and membership in the board.

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47. Have a Slice of Mind Pie

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Thornside
Level: 13
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Telicanthus, Pennel, Lord Divian Torrence, Baranor the Black, Lady Catherine Torrence, General Taramin, Archdean Isabelle Grimaldi

Jak buys a keg of ale as a gift for Telicanthus. James fills a wine bottle with urine.

They meet Telicanthus’ carriage at the River Jewel and ride it to the mansion which is the most opulent and nicely appointed mansion the Bear Claws have ever seen. Telicanthus greets them at the door and Jak ‘accidentally’ gouges a hole in the ale keg with his horn and spills some on Thornside.

Telicanthus graciously accepts the gift and tells them to make themselves at home in his house.

Inside they find a huge room that is mostly empty, the walls lined with artwork. On one side sits a very old black man who is grimacing and rubbing his knee as if in pain. James hides his bottle behind a statue before approaching the man. He is Telicanthus’s neighbor and is a talkative old fellow. He mentions that he has been feeling earthquakes lately, especially last night.

James heals him and makes his knee feel better. In response Baranor regales them with stories about fighting off hordes of Orcs and strangling a dragon with his bare hands while he shows them the way to the tea room.

Inside the tea room Lord Torrence and his wife are already seated and Torrence timidly tries to reassure himself that the Bear Claws won’t cause any trouble with his friend. Meanwhile Lady Torrence tries to signal to Thornside that Pennel should be watched.

Thornside is completely convinced that Telicanthus is a good person so he sits down to enjoy the spread of tea cakes, sandwhiches and tea.

Alton checks out the artwork in the main hall but finds no evidence of secret entrances or other underground locations.

Roland eventually makes his way to the library where he meets the archdean who practically throws herself at him and sets up a dinner date for that evening at the archdeans quarters on campus. Roland spends some time talking to her where he learns that she is there because Telicanthus has been using up the city’s food stores and she is concerned about what he is doing with it.

James takes advantage of the facilities because he has been holding it since the last time the Bear Claws found a restroom in the Lost Mines of Karak, then passes out on the couch in the music room while the quartet tunes their instruments.

Jak follows Pennel down the hallway to the kitchen and then snoops around the west end of the house. He sees Pennel pocketing a key and discovers at least one locked door.

Alton meets General Taramin who tells him that Telicanthus has asked that his soldiers do not patrol near his house because they distract him from his work.

Roland notices that the floor in the library has a hollow space beneath it.

He takes his leave of the archdean and goes to find Alton. They wake James and meet up with Jak and explore the other rooms of the mansion. Two of the rooms are locked.

Alton goes back to the tea room and asks Emil and Pattie to entertain the host while he talks Thornside into helping them pick the lock on the doors.

In the first office they find stacks of paperwork detailing the expenses of the household which are using much more food than would be expected and have many other expenses that are much higher than normal.

The next office is Telicanthus’s office and seems almost bare except when Alton notices that the room is smaller than it should be. The Bear Claws find a mirror on one wall that, when touched with a piece of stained glass opens up to reveal a secret passage.

Moving down the passage they find an excavation under the mansion that spiders out from a central hub. There are several githyanki gathered in the center, resting and complaining about wearing armor. The Bear Claws see them and decide to talk to them. When Jak approaches they shout an alarm and three of them flee to get reinforcements. The other, the only one with armor attempts to hold the passage.

The githyanki succeed in bringing aid and they surround Jak and beat him unconscious. The battle is quick and brutal as Jak fights in the middle of the githyanki warriors, James stands behind trying to heal him and the rest of the Bear Claws exchange ranged attacks with the githyanki mindslicers in the back.

One of the githyanki tries to flee and the Bear Claws pursue him to the entrance to a buried tower where they find the Bitter Glass, repaired and whole with four githyanki inside working at relaying messages.

The Bear Claws approach the glass and Jak charges in through a portal getting knocked unconscious and healed by James twice more before the fight ended when Roland exploded the glass and the last githyanki surrendered warning them that Telicanthus would be very angry that they broke his glass.

Jak, bloodied and beaten so many times, kills him.

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46. A Roly Poly Sandy Claws to Add a Little Spice

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 13
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Odos, Izera, Tokk’it, Amyria, Bede, Buttercup, Mary, Jalissa, Althaea, Thera, Kalad, Fariex the Scalehammer, Caliandra of the Stagrunners, Quelenna Entromiel, Inogo Dravitch, Lord Divian Torrence, Andor Scrollstone.

The Bear Claws immediately go to visit Odos and the githzerai to warn them that Brann’ot, the githyanki assassin might be coming for them. When they reach the githzerai warehouse they encounter Izera putting the finishing moves on a githyanki assassin. On the assassin they find another of the communication glasses. Alton uses it to discover that this assassin is Brann’ot. They also hear from the operator that the only other githyanki in Sayre that has a communications device is Pennel.

Roland, Xaladin, James and Alton work together to triangulate the direction of the signal from the three pieces of glass that they have. They can sense it coming from the northwest.

Roland takes them to the University to meet an acquaintance of his that knows about maps. The acquaintance sends them to talk to the Scrollstone brothers who have mapped the Underdark and other underground things in the area. They talk to Andor Scrollstone who tells them that he is convinced that Auglos’s tower is not underneath the pillar where it is rumored to be. He is convinced that it is underneath Telicanthus’s mansion.

Roland, Alton and Xaladin use a small earth tremor to try to sense the area around Telicanthus’s mansion and can tell that there is definitely something solid beneath his mansion.

Meanwhile James finds a group of students to party with and gets himself roaring drunk.

Xaladin returns to Bede’s and speaks with Althaea who mentions that she taught his brother is one of her classes. He left to go work for a dwarf — but she can’t remember the name. Xaladin tries the chili again. His friends find him out back with his head completely submerged in a trough of water.

Alton speaks with Mary briefly and talks her into calming down the chili a little so that others can eat it. She agrees as long as nobody tells Althaea — who has been saying the same thing since they got here.

The next morning a small group of zombies arrives carrying a heavy oval table between them. The Bear Claws are overjoyed at the breakfast that it provides and invite Mary and her friends to join them. Mary puts extra peppers on hers. Thera does the same, almost as if she takes Mary’s pepper eating as a challenge. Pattie’s food turns into a large steak, cooked rare.

Amyria comes to take them to the Coalition meeting and they tell her they found the writing on the wall.

She is very interested and wants them to continue to investigate. She leads them to the meeting and explains what her goals are. She wants them to choose a leader, choose a name and turn over their militaries to the coalition. She also wants them to investigate her dream and Telicanthus.

On the way a local guard recognizes Jak. He turns out to be Corwyn, one of Jak’s old squad. He is accompanied by a burly tiefling named Brutal and a gnome tricked out with small clockwork gadgets named Speck. They speak briefly about Jak’s former employer, the now-Emperor Zetch’r’r.

At the coalition meeting the Bear Claws are successful at herding the coalition members into a semblance of cooperation and they settle on the name of Coalition of Rhestilar with Kalad as their leader due to his military expertise.

The Bear Claws are asked to investigate Telicanthus and his involvement with the other githyanki.

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45. Mud in my mouth, river arisen.
I could use some tea.

Characters: Jak, James, Alton, Roland, Thornside
Level: 13
Location: Sayre
NPCs: The Filth King

The Bear Claws examine the spice house and Thornside discovers that he can open the entrance by pressing on certain nails and knots in the boards that are seemingly covering the doorway. Inside the warehouse is lit by stripes of golden light that leak into the warehouse through cracks in the walls and ceiling. Debris and a fallen staircase litter the floor. Thornside notices a track through the debris that leads to the center of the room and hidden trap door.

Jak opens the trap door and dagger flies from the ceiling and sticks into his shoulder. Beneath the door is a five foot drop with a dark, four-foot high tunnel. Thornside leads the way down the tunnel and James remains behind, unwilling to venture into a tight space without need.

At the end of the tunnel is another trap door with a coin slot. Thornside lowers a coin on a string so that he can pull it back out. The trap door falls open revealing a deep room and a dirty rope ladder. The Bear Claws descend the rope ladder and climb off of it onto raised platforms that jut out from the walls. Roland drops his torch from the ladder and it stops before it hits the ground. At which point he discovers that he has a phobia of gelatinous cubes.

Alton jumps from one platform to another to get closer to the door and lands on a pile of rags that turns out to be a beggar with shiny new chain mail and daggers. The beggar throws him off and Jak leaps across to grapple him. The beggar kicks against the wall, knocking them both off the platform.

Thornside jumps onto the gelatinous cube, trying to shoot it and the cube engulfs him. Jak throws the beggar into the cube and there is a quick melee as the Bear Claws kill off the rest of the beggars who try to flee only to find the door is locked from the other side. They curse the Filth King for locking them in as the Bear Claws finish them off and destroy the gelatinous cube.

On the person of one of the beggars Jak finds a small piece of blue glass. Alton examines it and finds that it is magically attuned to some larger device to be a communications device. He tries to activate and hears a voice asking who he is trying to contact. He asks for the commander and a voice answers, “Commander Brann’ott speaking.” Brann’ott wants to know if the Bear Claws are dead. Alton tries to pretend they are still waiting for the Bear Claws to show up. Brann’ott doesn’t know what he is talking about he just wants results. He tells Alton that he will take care of the githzerai, they should take care of the Bear Claws. He hangs up when Alton starts asking too many questions.

The Bear Claws open the door and find themselves in an underground roadway that has been seemingly buried by mud and then excavated back out.

Nearby is a former temple of Ioun that has a crude painting of a five-headed dragon above the doorway. They enter the temple and find a chapel with several beggars listening to a sermon about the importance of greed. Behind the priest — who turns out to by the Filth King that beggars referred to — is a long pit, and an enormous pile of gold coins. Beyond that is a statue of Tiamat on a pedestal.

The Filth Kings sees them enter and hisses at the beggars to “get them.”

Immediately one of the beggars stands up and shouts at his comrades and they all turn and stare at the Bear Claws in unison. Jak rushes into the room and the fight begins. The Filth King whispers to Jak about greed and makes him fall into the pit near the gold. He also scratches Roland’s face with his dirty fingernails, poisoning him. When Jak climbs out of the pit the gold starts to move and a treasure golem rises up and shoots coins at him.

The rest of the beggars and Filth King get killed by the rest of the Bear Claws and the Treasure Golem falls shortly after. In its death throws it thrashes around and tips over the statue of Tiamat that breaks on the floor revealing a secret door behind it.

The Bear Claws take a few minutes to catch their breaths then venture through the secret door. There is a narrow passage that slopes downhill to another door, that is partially obscured by debris. Inside is a small library where the writings of ancient seers was kept.

There are undead librarians in the library, trapped when the silt and mud of the rising buried the building hundreds of years before. Since then they have spent their time writing the words of the seers on the walls and floors in order to keep them from turning to dust.

One of them tells the Bear Claws that five hundred years previous this site was the city of Auger, named after Auglos the Seer who invented the Bitter Glass. The Glass was an immense sphere that was attuned to communicate across the planes with smaller pieces of glass that were attuned to it. The glass had a by-product of powerful psychic energy that Auglos shunted into the Astral Sea thinking nobody would be bothered by it.

The energy attracted the attention of the githyanki who destroyed Auglos, broke the Bitter Glass and left the city in ruin. The nearby river flooded the area and buried it under silt and mud. Years later farmers began to settle the area. Then dwarves moved in and dammed up the river and dug channels for the water to drain the swamps and the city of Sayre was built on top of the buried ruins of Auger.

On the walls and floor of the building were found the following writings:

You’re watching me. I can see you, but you don’t know that. You’re listening to my words even though I’m long dead. No, not you! Idiot. You’re just writing down my words because you were told to by the old man with a beard and a magic glass. I’m talking to the other people, the ones reading this on the wall. They know I’m dead. Oh yes, dead, mud in my mouth, river arisen! I sing of a ship that sails the air, that brings swords and fire. You’ve fought it, too, but it’s worse for you. We’re just going to die. They’ll kill us all because of what the bearded man does, talking through the mirror. They’ll just flood the room, and that will solve their problem until he finds it again. He’s been looking for it a long time. You think he likes you but it’s a lie. There was digging, you see, and cleaning, and many false leads. He’ll use it to conquer you all, but no one will believe you. You’ll have to prove him a liar. They can talk through it, you see. They’ve managed to do it, and the armies whisper through the blue darkness in a way that no one else can hear. You’re dead if you don’t stop it. Even now they are discussing you. “Distract them,” he is told, “this is too important to ruin.” But you can. Boy! Boy, I demand a goose! Pluck it and ruin it and save yourself if you find the right spot. Look for the old tower when no one expects you. It isn’t where they think it is. Ask the dwarves if you like, the brothers who dream of maps. Because in the days to come SHE will spread herself, and none will be safe from HER reach, so you may wish to trust the speech of the Bladed Girl. Trust, trust her if no one else. If her people do not come together, they will certainly be ripped apart. Like my goose? I am so very hungry. I could use some tea. Boy!

—verbatim account from the recorded visions of Graiden Brackenhaus, oracular guest of Seer Auglos of Auger, as scribed by Brother Pinnot from the Church of Ioun.

”A matrix of blown glass can be formed into a mathematically perfect sounding chamber, then used to amplify magical resonance. In theory, disconnected sheets of a similar substance can be attuned to the master. This would allow communication at unlimited distance. The question is: How can one handle the planar boundary? When I began this research in Nefelus, I never expected that this would be a concern…”

“A problem has developed. I need some method for shunting away the psychic residue cast off during communication. This seems to be quite toxic. I believe that I can redirect it into the Astral Sea, where it should do no harm to anyone…”

“The final Glass is more beautiful than I could have hoped. My apprentices have outdone themselves. A full 30 feet in diameter, it has anchored itself into the very nature of our plane, and hangs in space. Our ritual went flawlessly and it has taken on a life of its own; as thoughts travel from one external pane to another, the Glass shimmers like the night sky. It is quite beautiful. It seems to be invulnerable from the outside, as I intended, but the same protections have not transferred into the interior. This worries me.”

“The interior of the Glass becomes a psychic maelstrom if the information flow is not redirected. I have succeeded in rerouting the rogue energies to the Astral Sea. So long as no one is bothered by them, I see no risk; and in such a plane, what are the chances that they will be discovered? So small as to be infinitesimal…”

“I am making only a few select panes linked to the glass, but it would be just as simple to make many. I expect that selling these to far-flung allies could make me a rich man indeed. I will need to consider it.”

—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

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Adventure Supplement 1: Journal of Hautamaryat Firebreath

Characters: Mary, Jalissa, Althaea
Level: 11
Location: Orc Lands
NPCs: Thera

Jalissa says that Aunt Althaea and I like to bicker, the way I see it Althaea just refuses to admit when I’m right.

One small favor, she understands that I don’t want to hear about her father, ever. If I never see his desiccated, deceptive, devious little smirk again it will be too soon. He has made a life out of manipulating those around him and I will not suffer his arrogance.

After leaving Overlook we traveled into the Stonehome Mountains, past the Monastery of the Sundered Chain and skirted around the large peak called the Hammer. Jalissa wanted to climb to the peak to keep us “too out of breath to argue.” Althaea didn’t see the point of exhorting that much physical effort for little reward and I was anxious to continue on to the secluded monastery where I was raised.

Just a few miles beyond the Hammer lies the monastery of Avandra. It overlooks a harsh valley of craggy rock and perpetual wind and snow. It looked much like I remembered it but I found that I had no nostalgia for the place. It was home. But it is no longer. It feels somehow like it is steeped in betrayal and deception.

Althaea says I’m just being petty.

Father Garak greeted us in the way he greets everybody, by throwing a party. I did not feel in a celebratory mood but it is very much like a priest of Avandra to behave such. Garak told me that Bain left them almost immediately after I departed. He knew not where to. “Bain never cared for the monastic life,” he said, “I don’t think he even much cared for Avandra. He only stayed because of you.”

Because of his guilt, more like, but I didn’t correct him.

Jalissa says it’s just as well. She’s convinced I would have killed him if he’d been here. She might be right. I still don’t know what I intended. Thinking of him makes me feel at the pocked scar above my brow where his hook gouged me while sparring.

Now I feel nostalgic. How does that work?

We didn’t stay long. The village of my nativity lies across the Orclands and will be inaccessible once the fall snows set into the pass.

Seeing the Orclands I begin to understand why they so frequently try to invade the Elsir Vale. It is a desolate and sparse country that breeds hard people and harsh cultures. Seeing Bordrin’s Watch as we passed out of the mountains I can also see why they have never been successful. It is a formidable fortress and one that seems capable of holding back the hoards of the Abyss if necessary.

Jalissa says it is a giant symbol of the dwarves overcompensation. She thinks they build such magnificent strongholds to remind themselves they are no longer slaves of the giants.

Althaea says they just don’t bother thinking up more efficient ways.

We are a small group so crossing the Orclands while avoiding roving bands of Orcs proved reasonably simple. There are few trees of any significant size and the visibility is quite clear for miles once we found our way to the top of one of the tall sandstone bluffs. I begin to see a kind of beauty in the wastelands and the lizards, small and quick, have beautiful scales that blend into the browns and dull greens around them. They are so quick and cautious.

On our third day, however, we encountered a band of Orc slavers. Althaea said that we should remember that it is their culture. Jalissa did not speak but she is nearly as zealous as I when it comes to not suffering captivity. She has been on the receiving end twice and I believe she will die before letting it happen again.

I find that I am incapable of seeing people with their freedom taken away. The only thing that infuriates me more is seeing people who do not strive for their freedom.

As Avandra’s Hammer I will see people freed. Even if the slaves are other Orcs.

Jalissa and Althaea stayed in hiding while I approached the camp. A scout spotted me and I killed him, caving in his skull as he charged me. Soon I was surrounded by grunting, gray-skinned Orcs. They took my weapons and armor and locked me in one of their slave pens.

There I spoke with the slaves, told them that they should be free. The response was one of disinterest from all but one. They seem to be all of mixed race parentage.

One woman named Thera watched me until the other slaves had wandered away. Thera is half-Orc and half-elf. She is strong and fierce and wanted freedom. I told her of my desire to take away any who would come.

On the morning of the next day Althaea and Jalissa came out of hiding while the camp slept. Althaea surrounded the camp with summoned monsters while Jalissa lit up the early morning with holy light.

Thera and I climbed the fence of the slave pens. When other slaves spotted us they set a cry such as I have never heard before. It sounded to my heart like a hopeless envy that made me pity the poor creatures who are so broken they cannot even seek their own freedom.

The first squad of Orc guards that came running I burned with my breath and Thera attacked them while they were surprised. She seized two spears from the orcs and became a whirlwind of blood and blades.

She grinned when they were all dead, showing the small tusks in her lower jaw that were hidden with her mouth closed. She was trained to fight for entertainment by the tribe where she was born. When she got good enough that she started winning they sold her.

Using the spearhead of one of her new weapons we smashed the locks to the slave pens and threw open the gates. The slaves regarded us with hatred but a few of them looked hopeful enough that they ventured forward.

Once they started to move toward freedom the flood started. Halfbreed orcs poured from the slave pens, dirty, almost naked and completely unarmed they tasted freedom and became savage in their thirst for more.

I saw three women tear an Orc slaver apart with their bare hands and found I felt little need to stop them in their zealous rage. There is no mercy to be had for those who would willingly deny another creature her freedom.

Jalissa found us as I stood with Thera in the midst of chaos and carnage watching slaves beat and destroy their slavers. By that point we were both covered in spattered blood and exhausted beyond words. Jalissa had found my armor and other gear and I thanked her for them.

Jalissa thought it amusing that I had found a friend in an Orc camp. She said she shouldn’t have been surprised.

Althaea found us while I was donning my armor and feeling the familiar heft of my hammer once again in my four-fingered grip. Her only comment was, “Now we should go. These savages you have unleashed will only spare us until they have no other enemies.”

I took exception to her choice of word but saw the wisdom in them. Thera, seeing nothing for her there, followed us, her two Orc spears still clutched in her fists. Over the next week we traveled quickly across the bluffs and mesas of the Orc lands. Thera showed us how to find small streams in the seemingly dry wilderness.

As we approached the mountains on the far side my heart began to fear. I could already see snow on the passes and I wondered if I really wanted this anyway. I have been gone my entire life. They would not know me. Would they even want me? My mother, Nathyra, has never sought me out in eighteen years. Perhaps she is dead? Perhaps they all are. Perhaps she has forgotten me? Perhaps we would all be better if I never returned to that village. I seem to have survived just fine despite constant betrayal from both of the men who raised me.

Aunt Althaea asked me why I was so anxious. She says she can tell because I snarl silently when I am anxious, baring my teeth at my nervousness as if trying to intimidate it. I suppose she is probably right, this time.

I told her I didn’t want to meet the mother who gave me away and never came looking for me, but I feel like I have to.

She nodded as if she understood but I don’t see how she could.

My concerns proved unnecessary since the mountain pass turned out to be completely impassable due to snowfall that had piled to higher than my head in the drifts. Thera felt that we could continue, push through the snow, burrow like moles in the frozen white. It seemed foolish to continue so we turned back.

Althaea mentioned that the city of Sayre lay just to the south of us and she had long wished to witness the famed university there. I believe she wanted to assure herself that the Eladrin University of Corellon in the feywild was superior but she did not say it.

It took us two days to reach Sayre, following the curve of the mountains until the ground leveled out into a river valley spotted with cultured farmlands.

Sayre itself is a beautiful city. The focus of the University here is that of art and that focus shows in the city itself. Sculptures and stained glass dot the streets. Even the carriages are carved In great detail.

Not far from the University we found a small place called The Tankard of Ink, Bede Proprietor, Bear Claws, Beer, Bed and Breakfast. The name amused me because of my former companions and we took rooms at Bede’s. Bede makes flaky and sweet pastries that seem to melt when in your mouth. However the man cannot cook a meal to feed a hungry gnoll. His food is atrocious and his daughter, Buttercup, is nearly as hopeless. I offered to cook for him while we stay and wait out the winter. He seemed grateful for the offer, though Thera is the only one who actually eats my food. Althaea says I make it too spicy and Jalissa says she prefers food that does not leave her able to breathe fire.

I find this role is peaceful. I am not good at remaining complacent in domestic pursuits for long but for now I feel as if I can forget that I have been betrayed and abandoned in so many ways. Sometimes I can even abandon the guilt I feel that perhaps I abandoned my friends in the Bear Claws in the same way when I left them so abruptly. I hope they can forgive my need to seek my own way. I hope I get the chance to ask them.

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44. A hot meal...
...too hot.

Characters: Jak, James, Xaladin, Roland
Level: 13
Location: Sayre
NPCs: Emil, Pattie, Bede, Buttercup, Mary, Jalissa, Althaea, Thera, Odos, Gall’ott, Azitt, Amyria, Drew, Tokk’it, Izera

Jak and Xaladin go to the River Jewel where Telicanthus arranged for them to stay. They find an elaborate, very well appointed inn with a butler waiting for them to show them to their rooms. He leads them up the stairs and shows them to rooms that are more like a suite with a private dining room, living and sleeping chambers and a private room with a hot bath already drawn and steaming.

Jak, not one to turn down amenities decides to take a bath and scrubs himself with the rose and lavender scented soap until his fur glistens.

Meanwhile Roland and James make their way, slowly to Sayre along with the githzerai refugees from Akma’ad. Tokk’it approaches them and complains that Odos didn’t try hard enough to save Gallia. They assure him that there is nothing he could have done, Gallia was dead when she was possessed. Pattie suggests they offer to make him a zombie girlfriend. Tokk’it does not take them up on the offer.

Jak and Xaladin leave the River Jewel, Jak smelling of a wonderful floral bouquet, and go to the Tankard of Ink near the University, where Roland suggested they look for a good place to stay.

The Tankard of Ink is under the ownership of a new proprietor — “The Tankard of Ink, New Proprietor, Bede Quickfingers, Bear Claws, Beer, Bed and Breakfast.”

When they go in they find a very large elf woman sitting at a table alone. She has the normal proportions of an attractive elf with long, silky black hair and pointed ears but she looks like she would be well over six feet tall if she stood up. When she sees them she grins showing the sharp stubs of two small tusks in her bottom jaw.

“Bede, guests,” she shouts. Bede recognizes members of the Bear Claws immediately, as they provided some of the money he used to purchase the place. He immediately offers them lunch and brings them each a bowl of steaming hot chili.

The half-orc woman watches them intently as they each try it and immediately spit it out, finding it to be unbearably spicy. She laughs heartily, slapping her thigh at their discomfort.

Althaea — the Eladrin ‘aunt’ of Mary — comes from the backroom spouting a bunch of complaints about the capsaicin in the chili being too intense for guests when she see Xaladin and Jak and stops in surprise.

Buttercup, Bede’s daughter, enters through the main door, complaining about one of her professors then gets embarrassed when she sees the guests and bolts up the stairs.

Bede brings Mary out from the back room to introduce the ‘chef’ and she speaks with Jak and Xaladin briefly. She mentions that she and Jalissa and Althaea were attempting to visit her village before the snows closed the pass but they delayed in the orc lands when they encountered a group of orc slavers. That’s where they met Thera — the half-orc, half-elf woman — when they freed her from the orc slavers. When they got to the pass it was snowed over so they came to Sayre to wait out the winter.

They met Bede and found out that, despite his supreme skill with baking and pastries, he couldn’t cook so he hired Mary to cook for him while he takes cooking classes at the University.

The next morning there is a slight confrontation at the gates when the city guards refuse to let the githzerai into the city, calling them child-stealers. Roland offers to vouch for them and escort them to their destination in order to ensure they’re behavior.

He and James pass by the Tankard of Ink while Xaladin and James are eating breakfast and the two of them rush out to join them, eager to avoid the spicy gravy that Mary has made to go with Bede’s morning biscuits.

They follow the githzerai into the Riverdown district to a dilapidated warehouse where the other githzerai refugees are staying. As they approach they hear shouting and James barges in to see what is going on. Two githzerai, an older man and a woman, are in the middle of an argument which they only briefly interrupt to help the wounded refugees. Gall’ott is angry at the mistreatment of the githzerai in Sayre and wants to band together to create a fighting force to claim some respect. Azitt insists that in so doing they will become the rumors that are whispered about them.

Odos, angry and worried about his people, seems to side more with Gall’ott especially when he hears that the city harbors a githyanki noble — Telicanthus, who invited the Bear Claws to tea at his house the following afternoon.

While they talk Amyria steps from the shadows and asks the Bear Claws for some help. She tells them that she had a dream sent from Bahamut, of a great web of communication that stretched across the planes. She saw at its heart a great spider that tugged and pulled at the web, the center of the communications. She awoke with the sure feeling that the center of that web was in Sayre. She came here but does not know where else to look.

She also asks them to look into Telicanthus as she does not trust him because she has never met a githyanki who was not out for blood.

Her final request is that they come to a meeting she has organized the next morning. She is trying to put together a Coalition of city leaders and powerful people who can organize the material plane to fight back against the githyanki. She would like the Bear Claws to be there.

They agree and set out into the city to find information about the missing children that the githzerai are accused of stealing. After a few hours of searching and asking questions they find a lot of rumors of people who know people who know somebody who is missing a child but nothing that substantiated.

When they finish their investigation Amyria approaches them once more and asks them to convince Odos to come to the coalition meeting as well. His knowledge of the githyanki would be invaluable but he insists on fleeing the material plane and leaving it in the hands of the ‘humans.’

They return to Odos and he agrees on the condition that they cast a ritual for him to consult with mystic sages about what Telicanthus has to do with Amyria’s vision.

The response they get is:

Read the writing on the wall

You are not far from a place where knowledge turns to greed
Beneath the spice house lurks the profane

And knowledge lies trapped behind the guardian

As the Bear Claws leave the githzerai warehouse they notice several beggars approaching them from the alleyways, beneath their rags they wear gleaming chain mail and carry shiny new weapons they they brandish with obvious familiarity.

The Bear Claws leap to the attack and quickly slaughter the majority of them. As the bodies pile up the beggars try to flee but are maimed and killed even as they turn to run.

Jak grabs the final one and slams him into the nearest building. When James threatens to break his legs he confesses they they were sent by the Filth King, the King and priest of the beggars of Sayre. They ask him about the spice house and he gives them directions to an abandoned warehouse in Lowbridge and warns them that there is a young girls set up as watch to raise the alarm should they come poking about.

They tie him up and give him to the authorities on their way to Lowbridge. They also explain to the authorities that the massive count of bodies outside the githzerai warehouse had nothing to do with the githzerai.

They make their way to the warehouse in Lowbridge and find it completely boarded up and abandoned, just as the beggar insisted it would be. Across the street is a young girl — nine or ten years old — with a club foot who is begging from the passersby. When they pass close she asks for money.

Roland tells her there is warm food and free toys being given out at a location in Riverdown. She seems hesitant to leave her post but his information is compelling so she hurries away, hoping to get back before she is missed. Xaladin sends an animal messenger to Bede to make sure and arrange a hot meal for her as she is expecting so that she will not go without.

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