Bear Claws

27. Climb every mountain... every stream.

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 7/8
Location: Brindol
NPCs: Mary, Jalissa, Misty, Tuvok, Erlin

The bounty hunter Thorn attacks by throwing a net at Jak and unleashing sprays of crossbow bolts from his repeating crossbow. Jak nearly dies from the steady barrage of damage but James brings him back.

When he is beaten Thorn admits that the bounty was placed by Sarshan. He bargains to track down Sarshan for them if they will spare his life. The Bear Claws agree but keep his magic items.

Alton finds a library in the local temple of Ioun. The librarian shows him a scroll that cross references information regarding divine power being the same as that of arcane users.

Roland talks to the sword. She tells him she was once a woman and she will provide them with a ritual that will restore her and also close the portal to the Abyss that Fangren has opened.

Thornside makes some potions.

Mary and Jalissa bring them payment from Sertanian to help with their efforts to stop the gnolls. Mary mentions that she has just received a message, delivered by hedgehog, that her ‘father,’ Washburn, has requested she return to the Feywild. Her and Jalissa are heading out to find a Fey crossing.

Jalissa says her goodbyes to Thornside. She seems to be amused by his posturing.

The Bear Claws are also summoned by Effram Troyas. He asks them to bring back his friend, the sage Falrinth, who raised him when he was orphaned after the Red Hand of Doom killed his family.

The Bear Claws agree and set out the next morning. Along the road they encounter a farm guarded by a twelve year old boy that Jak recognizes as Erlin, oldest son of Loovat. Erlin’s mother, Misty, is nearby patching the thatching on their roof. She invites them in and tells them that they were attacked by gnolls a couple days before. She fled with the boys but Loovat was taken prisoner and the house lit on fire. She managed to douse the flames before losing more than just some thatching but she is worried about Loovat.

The Bear Claws continue on into the mountains, leaving horses and wagon at the farm. In the mountains they travel for a couple days before they find a game trail leading to a gray stone fortress hidden on a low peak, well off the traveled routes. It begins to snow and the Bear Claws are cold and wet by the time they reach the fortress.

Fortress Graystone reflects the dichotomy of nature of the githzerai who built it. One side is ordered perfectly and straight, the other side is twisted like a chaotic group project gone wrong.

On the stairs leading up to the doors Thornside notices a shadow behind one of the statues. He calls out and a gnoll comes forward. He sniffs them and then recognizes them from Sarshan’s tower. The gnoll welcomes them, thinking they are emissaries and they are responsible for getting Sarshan to send the weapons they now have.

The Bear Claws enter the fortress and find themselves in an octagonal room with five portals.

26. Back to the Future
a trip to the past.

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 7
Location: Overlook, Brindol, The Great Dwarf Road
NPCs: Aerun, Kalad, Emil, Ruth and Rory, Mary, Jalissa, Adronsius, Mirtala, Sertanian, Rufus Cromley

The Lost One tells the Bear Claws that Mary and Jalissa are held in two separate rooms of the temple and points out which ones they are. Jak and Roland intimidate the leader into writing down the locations of the rest of the Lost One hideouts.

Jalissa is badly wounded and faints when James finds her. Mary has been beaten and battered as well and is relieved to see Alton and the other Bear Claws. The group decides to take the living Lost Ones to the authorities.

Kalad and Emil show up and accompany them. Emil chatters to Jak about how great his axe is all the way.

Aerun looks at the captured Lost Ones and at the list of locations and tells the Bear Claws that there are too many for him to strike at once. If he moves too quickly word will get out and they will all get away. He promises that he will use them in the future when he has a plan for dealing with them.

The group splits up and does some shopping while Alton and Jak accompany Mary and Jalissa back to the Belden’s Rest. On the way Mary tells them that she left Overlook to check on people in Brindol and found Jalissa ready to leave her home and accompany her. While there Sertanian, the castellan of the Hall of Great Valor, came to her and said that the platinum sword they had rescued from the goblins had started to speak and it was asking for the Bear Claws. Mary went with him and spoke to the sword. It told them that it needed Alton and James and the need was great.

When they arrive at the inn Ruth hurriedly prepares a room for Jalissa and Jak plants himself outside her door to guard. Mary cleans herself up and joins Alton in the common room.

Xaladin and Thornside take the wagon back to the temple and load up the bodies of the Lost Ones to take to Rufus Cromley. Rufus offers to pay extra if Jak ever dies. Thornside mentions the Dryad body they have and Rufus offers to create a feast table for them as payment for the bodies.

He also mentions he wants to see Jak’s axe. He wants to know if Xaladin can still change shape if he is dead and offers to pay extra for him as well.

Xaladin and Thornside take the dryad body back and drop it off.

Roland finds a first person account of a naturalist studying the demons of the elemental chaos. Iggwilv’s Demonomicon.

James learns a new ritual.

In the morning Jak finds the man from Dunesend who bought their horses and purchases some of them back. James also buys his draft horse back.

The Bear Claws take their wagon and head out to Brindol. On the road they encounter Brin who tells them that gnolls have been kidnapping people in the Vale and his troop is looking for them. He tells them to keep it safe and bids them farewell.

On the way to Brindol Mary talks to Jak about why he left his family and wonders if he misses them. She finds it difficult to understand his feelings as she was never given a choice about leaving her family.

In Brindol they spend the evening with Mirtala, who feeds them a hearty stew with thick, hard bread. Mary shares some peppers with those who don’t know to avoid them. Thornside can almost breathe fire. Jalissa thinks his reaction is funny. She also flirts with Thornside a little and asks him to teach her to shoot a bow.

In the morning they go the Hall of Great Valor and the sword speaks to them. She tells them that a pack of gnolls moved into the abandoned githzerai fortress Graystone in the Giantshome mountains recently and have started opening a portal to the elemental chaos. This portal awoke her and she wants them to take her to it and close the portal.

They are attacked by bounty hunters while they talk and the Hall is lit on fire. They fight off the bounty hunters and escape but find another bounty hunter waiting for them outside.

25. Revenge... served with a side of mashed potatoes and a nice demiglace.

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Roland
Level: 7
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Aerun, Kalad, Emil, Ruth and Rory, Glorin Hammerfist, (Miranda), Haelyn

Thornside tells his friends that Rufus Cromley might be able to get them to the Shadowfell to catch Bram. He rushes away and the others follow.

The Gray Redoubt of Rufus Cromley is a squat, gray-stone tower that leans slightly to the left and bears the dubious distinction of being the tallest building in Shanytown. When Thornside knocks on the door a window opens up and a zombie dressed in black butler clothes peers out growling questioningly. Thornside asks to see Rufus and the zombie opens the door, revealing a cluttered single-room interior filled with strange undead implements.

Rufus agrees to send them to the Shadowfell if they promise to bring back any bodies they ‘find’ there, as payment. They agree and he performs the ritual to open a portal. The Bear Claws go through and find themselves in a long gray hallway that stretches out into the distance. Ahead they can see torchlight and hear raised voices. Thornside sneaks closer and sees Bram standing in the middle of a group of Shdar Kai arguing with them about who is in charge.

Pug is also there and when the Bear Claws are noticed he tells them they can have Bram and walks away in disgust.

Thornside shifts through the Shadar Kai, his armor expanding as shadows stretch out around him. He lunges at Bram but Bram slaps him aside at the last second.

The Bear Claws step in and Bram falls to their attacks, quickly. Yelling in rage Thornside continues to shoot arrows into Bram’s body, his armor sucking darkness and color from the corpse.

Bram’s guards go down quickly and the Bear Claws take the bodies through the gateway back to Rufus Cromley’s tower. He seems pleased with the payment they brought him and is muttering about reanimating them as servants when they leave.

They check in with Aerun to find that the other members of the Consortium were all arrested and four of them confessed to get a reduced sentence.

On the way back to the Belden’s Rest they split up to go their separate ways. Roland wanders around looking for a temple or shrine to the Raven Queen but finds that she is not a popular deity in Overlook. Alton and Jak head to the Temple of Avandra in the Nine Bells where they talk to (Miranda) again. She has some results of the research she promised Alton she would do last time they talked.

James goes Stonehammer to talk to Brak but he hasn’t made it back from Dunesend yet.

Thornside returns to the inn where Ruth recognizes that he is very troubled and she puts him in a room and gives him some drugged ale to make him sleep.

When the rest of the Bear Claws return she serves them some turducken that she has been experimenting with. Before heading up to their rooms for the night a table full of Tieflings make a few jokes about James. His friends talk him out of confronting them until he has rested.

In the morning Rory gives them two messages. One is from Glorin Hammerfist inviting them to join her for breakfast at Leena’s, to collect their reward. One is a ransom note telling them to get out of town or their women will be tortured. The note includes two sketches of a dragonborn and an elf.

The Bear Claws decide to stop by Leena’s on their way to track down the origins of the note. They meet Savory, the tiefling chef, who speaks to them briefly and crafts them each a custom breakfast. Glorin gives them their agreed upon payment and tells them that she is making a push to bring back the Freetraders in the name of Thornside’s parents. She is making him an honorary founding member. James, Jak, Alton and Thornside all give her back some money to help with her endeavors.

After breakfast they go to tradetown to talk to Haelyn at the Shrine of Erathis. She tells them she saw Mary and Jalissa, the two pictured on the ransom note, just two days before, asking after the Bear Claws. When she sees the note she seems very concerned and tells them to go to the Pickled Imp and follow the Lost Ones representative when he comes to collect his protection money.

The Pickled Imp is dirty and known for the pickled Imp on the counter. The Bear Claws wait a few hours before they see a half-orc enter, order a beer and be served a small bag of coins along with his drink. They follow him across town to the Nine Bells district where he enters the abandoned temple of Pelor.

It starts to rain as the Bear Claws approach. Megan Swiftblade calls to them from the porch of the Temple of Moradin where her and the Freeriders have taken a job as guards. Megan tells them to be careful if they are to confront the Lost Ones, they have a good reason to kill the Bear Claws because somebody has put a price on their heads.

When the Bear Claws enter the temple they see Jalissa tied up in chains in the center of the open room. She sees them and seems relieved that they are here. While they are releasing her there are sounds of a scuffle from one of the other rooms and Mary emerges carrying two short swords. One of them she tosses to Jalissa and she greets the Bear Claws as she approaches. When she is within striking distance she attacks, morphing into her natural form. Both of them are doppelganger assassins and the Lost Ones quickly emerge from the back rooms to attack the Bear Claws in ambush. There are some tense moments before the last of the Lost Ones finally surrenders, unwilling to fight to the death when he is obviously outnumbered.

24. Cabbages and Kings second cousin twice removed on my mother's side...

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Xaladin, Thornside, Roland
Level: 7
Location: Lost Mines of Karak, Overlook
NPCs: Shephatiah, Aerun, Balasar, Alebottom, Kalad, Emil, Ruth and Rory, Bede, Glorin Hammerfist, Brak


The Bear Claws wake Shephatiah and question her about what is going on. She tells them that she is the immortal Queen of the Drylands. Sarshan has employed her to operate the mines and provide chaos forged weapons. Bram is his contact in Overlook and he sent the Bear Claws to the mine so that she could kill them. Sarshan works for a General Zithiruun, a once great conqueror of the githyanki who disappeared a few hundred years ago. Pug and Quick represent some presence higher up than Zithiruun.

Malthazard is a demon of the Abyss and he has long had great interest in the material plane and in sowing chaos therein.

She tells them there is no way to seal the rift to the elemental chaos.

Jak dispatches her and Thornside skins her and puts the skin in his bag of holding. They load the entrance platform with mining explosives and leave it halfway down the shaft. Alton’s fireball he uses to set them off misses and lights the rope instead. The platform tips and the explosives begin to roll and then fall down the shaft. Xaladin throws one of his flame seeds after it and the explosion causes the floor of the dungeon to collapse. Xaladin summons the roots of the trees above to grow down into the basement and hold up the floor so that they can get away.

On the journey to Dunesend they discuss what their motivations are for joining the Bear Claws. Jak wants to know if he can learn to change shape into a human.

In Dunesend they meet Glorin Hammerfist, who is helping move the inhabitants to Overlook. The sandstorm destroyed their crops and they have nowhere else to go. With her is Brak. He has been given the job of High Ancestor of Moradin because Durkik Forgeheart passed away. He has come down here to help Glorin before taking up the position. He has some new information for James regarding runes and they go off to talk, taking Roland’s staff with them.

Glorin tells them that Bram killed Thornside’s parents because they were staring up a competing coalition of merchants. He is also responsible for the Orc invasion.

Bede tells Alton and the rest that he is not going to Overlook. His daughter Buttercup wants to be a bard so they are going to Sayre where she can join the University. Bede wants to open an inn there. Alton suggests more of a coffee house type setup to cater to the university crowd.

Alton summons his phantom steeds to pull their wagon to Overlook and the Bear Claws set out across the Thornwaste. As they enter the Westdeep Alton guides the horses across a small lake, their flaming hooves sending up a trail of steam in their wake as they run across the water.

As they enter Overlook Aerun meets them and tells them that there are rumors going around that they had all been killed in the Thornwastes. He asks to talk to Thornside and takes him into the guard room off the main gate. Inside are Balasar and Alebottom. Balasar identifies Thornside as the one who admitted to thievery and leaves. Alebottom curses Thornside and tells him he doesn’t want to see him again. Aerun makes a deal with Thornside that he will forgive the jail sentence in exchange for doing spy work for the city guard on occasion to help them round up the corruption in the city.

Thornside agrees and when they get outside Jak hands Aerun the letter they found among Shephatiah’s things, the one that is from Bram telling her to kill the Bear Claws. At this evidence Aerun is anxious to act fast to arrest Bram and the rest of the Elsir Consortium. He tells them to meet him at the inner guard post in one hour where he will have seven teams of men to arrest all the members of the Consortium at once.

The Bear Claws are teamed up with Kalad and Emil to go to Bram’s house and arrest him. Once there Thornside goes into the house to check for traps or guards before they make their entrance. While he’s in there he notices a shadow moving in the corner of his eye. Angry at the recent news that Bram killed his parents and upset that he just got kicked out of Alebottom’s house he loads an arrow and takes aim at the shadow.

Outside Kalad is telling the Bear Claws that he would like to reinstitute the Order of the Sundered Chain and asks if any of them would like to leave off adventuring and become priests of Moradin.

Emil shows Roland his plans for intimidating people: “I’ve come here to vanquish evil and eat potatoes. And I’m all out of potatoes.”

He’s also excited to tell Alton that he is getting married to a young farmer girl named Sweet Potato. The marriage was arranged by his mother but he’s met the girl before, their caravan passed near her farm last year.

Just then the door of the Ironfell mansion blasts out of its frame and Thornside comes flying out, followed by the huge head of a shadow dragon, the rest of its body coalescing out of the shadows as it lunges forward.

The Bear Claws rush in to do battle and fight off the dragon and two dragonborn mercenaries that are also hiding in the shadows. Emil tries to help out but only manages to knock a piece of wall across the street into Xaladin.

The dragon is killed quickly and the dragonborn tells the Bear Claws that he doesn’t know where Bram is, Sarshan left them here to cover Bram’s escape, probably into the Shadowfell.

Kalad and Emil run past while the Bear Claws are questioning the dragonborn and they all make a thorough search of the mansion. Emil finds some scraps of letters burned in a fireplace. One of the scraps has Sarshan’s signature on it. Several others are written in elvish on some kind of leaf-like material.

Bram is nowhere to be found.

23. The Queen of the Drylands

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


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.

22. Meat Shields

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Xaladin, Thornside
Level: 6/7
Location: Abandoned Ironfell Fortress
NPCs: Brian, “Shephatiah”

In the cells of the dungeon the Bear Claws find an old man, surrounded by seven bright yellow parakeets. The old man refuses to speak to them but will answer some questions with a nod or a shake of his head. He occasionally answers with a smile or a laugh when they ask questions that pry into who he is.

He agrees to follow them and they lead him back up the stairs. From there the Bear Claws explore the rest of the fortress. Much of the upstairs is blocked by closed portcullises so they explore the the other half of the castle before going in to confront the Queen. In the stables they find that several stalls have been converted into storage for ritual and alchemical components. In one stall they find a bag of holding and fill it with all the ritual components that they can use.

Before confronting the Queen they agree to a plan. Jak, James and Xaladin go in pretending to be mercenaries looking for an opportunity to earn money by claiming to have seen the people of Dunesend kill the Warden. When they enter the Queen is asking one of her soldiers where her berbalang is. Xaladin delivers his message and she immediately tells him she knew his brother. She claims that she is going to save lives by keeping order in the material plane.

The three of them notice that while she sits on her throne her image flickers frequently to one of a dryad, feeding off of a corpse at her feet. Xaladin asks her about the old man that they met and she quickly becomes suspicious then leaps to attack, shouting that Malthazard was a fool for thinking they would believe she was the real queen.

Alton bursts in at and lights her on fire. And the others lay into her and her followers, quickly killing most of them.

After the battle they wake the queen to question her. She seems scared of the old man when she sees him and she tells Alton that Malthazard is not there, in the fortress.

When she has no more information to offer them they kill her and explore the rest of the fortress. They find the place abandoned, trashed and dirty. The fortress is quiet. The old man wanders away while they are exploring and heads for the main doors. Outside is a giant sandstorm, blowing sand everywhere in huge sheets of sand. The old man turns to each of the Bear Claws and gives them cryptic advice before turning and walking directly into the storm. Alton rushes out to speak to him but can’t find him before he is forced to turn back. Jak and James venture out long enough to bring the wagon into the courtyard where they load it with the wooden body of the dryad Queen and her throne.

Alton goes to tell Brian and the other guards they left unconscious in their beds that they were free of service to the Queen. Brian seemed disappointed that he might not get to intimidate and kill people any more so Alton knocked him unconscious again and left him there.

Trapped in the fortress the Bear Claws decide to get some sleep.

Just before they wake Xaladin hears the sounds of a portcullis being moved and wakes the rest of the group. They hear some other sounds coming from the arrow slits in the room and when Thornside and Alton go to investigate they are grabbed by tooth-ended tentacles. The cavern crawlers squeeze through the arrow slits and rise up from the stairs below to attack the Bear Claws, grabbing them and using them as meat shields when they are attacked.

The Bear Claws fight them off and capture the troglodyte healer that accompanied them. The Troglodyte agrees to show them where he came from, speaking only enough common to tell them that he came from the mines below. He leads them down into the basement where there is a secret opening in the floor of one of the cells. The opening leads to large wooden platform with a pulley system to act as a lift for entering the mine.

21. What a Wonderful Smell You've Discovered

Characters: Alton, Jak,James, Xaladin, Thornside
Level: 6
Location: Abandoned Ironfell Fortress
NPCs: Brian

The Bear Claws move to attack the harpies. Jak and James rush in while the others make a few failed attempts to scale the bluff.

The harpies use their siren song to lure Jak off the edge of the hole in the bluff where he fell forty feet into a pile of sand in an inner courtyard of the fortress. When he landed a carrion crawler erupted from the sand, smelling or rotten meat and putrefaction. Thornside made it up the cliff in time to use his magical bow to force the harpies to the ground, where they fell next to Jak. When they tried to take off again James leapt off the cliff and landed on one of them, forcing it to the ground. He landed on the carrion crawler and Alton and Xaladin burned it from the top of the bluff.

After the battle Thornside found two harpy eggs in their nest and Alton went to get the ropes so that they could join Jak and James. While he was getting the ropes he heard the voice of his demon speaking in his mind. The demon liked the place. He also mentioned Alton’s task was approaching. He told Alton that he was getting too close to his friends and he might need to make things worse to teach Alton a lesson.

Alton told him that he had no friends.

In the fortress Jak curiously opened a door which startled a surprised guard who was waiting for intruders to come in through the entrance. The guard died quickly but was replaced almost immediately by more. Troglodytes who smelled of unbathed sweat and urine so strongly that it inhibited the Bear Claws in their attacks.

During the battle a small rodent transported in from the feywild, carrying a message for Xaladin. The creature was from Cachlain the Stone-Skinned King. He told Xaladin that his friend was a prisoner, Xaladar owed Cachlain a book — the Incanabulum Primeval — and Xaladin must pay Xaladar’s debt if he wants to live.

Once the troglodyte guards were killed the Bear Claws decided to explore another part of the fortress. Through the eastern doors of the courtyard they found stairs going down, guarded by a single human and a lowered portcullis. On the landing of the stairs several of the party saw a steel statue of the dwarf that had an iron belt that seemed to be moving.

The Bear Claws fooled the human and one of his friends into thinking they were recruits for Queen Shephatiah. They weren’t very bright guards and they seemed friendly enough. The Bear Claws went back to the courtyard, rearranged the bodies they had left to look like the harpies and the carrion crawler had killed the guards and devised a plan for dealing with the human guards at the stairway.

Jak approached the guard and told him the the Queen had sent them all to find a place to bunk in the nearby guard bunk room. The other Bear Claws went into the room and tried to surreptitiously place themselves near the other guards in the room, intending to render them unconscious and tie them all up.

They had just spoken to one of the suspicious guards when Jak walked into the room dragging the unconscious guard from the hallway into the room. There was a brief frenzy of activity as other other guards in the room were subdued.

Once they were tied up Alton performed a ritual to leave a silent and immobile image of the guard standing in the hallway while the Bear Claws opened the portcullis and proceeded down the stairs.

Xaladin recognized the steel belt on the statue as a serpent from the feywild, very poisonous. Thornside threw some bubbling foam down at it to try and freeze it in place before they proceeded down the steps. Jak and James started to be dazed by psychic attacks as soon as they neared the landing and then the snake struck out from it’s place of hiding behind the foam.

Thornside put two arrows through its head and killed it but the commotion attracted a couple razorclaws from downstairs. The Bear Claws took care of them in short order and kept one alive for questioning. He told them that were no other guards in the dungeon but there was an old man they found wandering in the desert.

They tied him up and took them with to explore the lower levels of the fortress. They found a few storage rooms that were filled with moldy and rotting remains of repair and maintenance items. The entire fortress seemed dank and misused, rotting garbage and mildew littered the corners.

At the end of the hallway the Bear Claws found some dwarven crypts. From inside the crypts a berbalong burst out and attacked them. He duplicated himself multiple times and the duplicates attacked the Bear Claws, exploding when surrounded to cause extra damage.

The fight was tough but the Bear Claws killed the bat-winged monstrosity and searched the crypts, finding writing inside one that linked the back wall to the feywild. Which is where the berbalong came from.

The Bear Claws have only to explore the cells in the dungeon before they will have found all there is to find in the lower depths.

20. Through the Desert on a Horse With No Name
It Felt Good to Be Out of the Rain

Characters: Alton, Jak,James, Xaladin, Thornside, Roland
Level: 6
Location: Dunesend, The Desert
NPCs: Old Bede, The Warden, Elberesk

After their meeting with Glorin Hammerfist the Bear Claws approach Dunesend. As they approach they hear shouting, and weeping. Through the trees several of the Bear Claws see a satyr tailing them. When he realizes he has been spotted he takes off toward Dunesend. The Bear Claws pursue and find a large gnoll who has just killed a teenage son of one of the citizens. He has a young Behir companions that slinks around behind him, intimidating the surrounding villagers. The gnoll Warden is shouting angrily that the people have not provided the proper amount for their tribute.

The Bear Claws leap into action, skewer the fleeing satyr and charge the offending Warden. Thornside knocks out the satyr with his bow in order to question him later. The behir rises up and swallows Jak, taking him down in one gulp. Jak rallies his strength and slices his way out of the behir, killing it.

The Warden and his satyr friends fall quickly and the townspeople react with anger. Now that the Warden is dead it will be worse for them when Queen Shephatiah finds out. Queen Shephatiah is the Queen of the Drylands and the Warden showed up about a year ago demanding tribute on her behalf.

James casts a ritual on the body of the Warden and sees a vision of him crossing the desert, living in a sparse room made of stone and speaking to a green-haired Eladrin sitting on a jeweled throne.

Thornside puts his tracking dust on the unconscious satyr and leaves him with the other dead in hopes of tricking him into thinking that he survived by chance.

Everyone goes to Bede’s Bakery where he serves them bear claws and tea and talks to them about adventuring. He was an adventurer in his younger days and he gifts a lucky charm to Alton. Thornside asks for advice about being a sneaky adventurer and Bede issues caution, telling him that sometimes poor choices reflect on your adventuring party.

Xaladin sends an animal messenger into the feywild to his old friend to ask about Queen Shephatiah.

Elberesk buys the horses from the Bear Claws because they will not be able to make the journey into the desert. He promises to sell them back at 80% when they return.

Checking on the satyr Thornside discovers that he has left and that his trail leads into the Thornwaste, instead of in the direction they intended to go. The rest of the Bear Claws sleep while he tracks it down. The satyr tells him that he was hired by the Warden to show up and intimidate the townspeople once a month. He doesn’t know anything about Shephatiah or the Warden or the Karak Lode.

Deciding to follow the trail that James saw in his ritual across the desert, Alton summons some phantom steeds with flaming hooves and eyes and the party sets out. The desert is hot and unrelenting and lots of sand. At night it is cold and uncomfortable.

Halfway through the second day they encounter a hag, disguised as a dry and thirsty old woman. When they spot her escort hiding in the sand she screams and turns into her hideous self. Jak smashes her teeth and the other Bear Claws make short work of her and the three razorclaw shifters that are with her. They keep one alive and try to question him. He tells them his tribe lives in the desert and Shephatiah uses them as muscle for her operation. He tells them that the fortress entrance is guarded and that there is a bluff behind the fortress that is unguarded. On the top of the bluff is a hole that leads into an inner courtyard of the fortress.

There is much discussion about what to do with the prisoner until Roland kills him. James buries the dead so they will be harder to find by roving patrols.

The Bear Claws continue on their way and approach the Ironfell Fortress. It is carved into a basalt bluff, two towers with a narrow passage between them. A broken Ironfell crest can be seen above the entrance.

Thornside sneaks close and sees that all the arrow slits that he can see are guarded by dummies and there are obvious signs of a trap in the entry way. The Bear Claws decide to scale the bluff and lower ropes for those less inclined to climb.

When they reach the top Jak and James find a nest of Harpies that leap into the air to attack.

19. Share the Lode
Mission from Bram

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Xaladin, Thornside
Level: 6
Location: Overlook, The Thornwaste
NPCs: (Whispers) Miranda, Brak, Bram Ironfell, Balasar, Aerun, Ruth and Rory Teng, Haelyn, Glorin Hammerfist

Thornside spent his time in the morning brewing up some tracking dust to use on the papers found in the warehouse. Meanwhile James and Alton settled down to a discussion of tastes in breakfast foods over breakfast.

Jak went to Elftown to stake out the warehouse and found it bustling with activity. Captain Aerun saw him and came over to talk. He mentioned that an intruder alarm had gone off at the warehouse and a private security firm was sent to check on it. The guards found themselves glued to the floor in the entrance and when the city guard found them they investigated the rest of the warehouse and found the chaos blood metal weapons inside. Now they are going through all the warehouses looking for more information and are contacting Bram Ironfell, the owner of the warehouse.

Jak returns to the Belden’s Rest to tell the others what happened. Xaladin drops by to check on his friends and he and Thornside are reacquainted.

(Whispers) Miranda drops by and tells Alton that she can’t come this afternoon but she has time right then, if he wants to talk. Alton asks her about Avandra and how divine power works along with arcane. She isn’t a scholar but she knows Avandra and knows that the important thing is freedom and adventure. Those are Avandra’s main tenets.

While they are talking James and Xaladin go to the Shrine of Erathis to talk to Haelyn. Haelyn is in an argument with somebody from the temple of Erathis who is accusing her of stealing worshippers. The other woman leaves and Healyn tries to answer their questions. She tells them that she knows the chaos ore weapons have been coming from somewhere south of the Thornwastes. She also tells them that Bram is probably the most powerful person in Overlook, right now. The Ironfell clan is the wealthiest of all the clans.

She gives them fresh baked cookies and invites them to come back any time.

Jak and Thornside go to try to talk to Bram Ironfell. They buy Jak some fancy duds™ and knock on his door. His gruff butler rebuffs them and tells them they can’t talk to Bram. Thornside notices that the dwarf is holding a book on birds and engages him in a conversation about bird watching. He succeeds in winning over the butler and he lets on that they can’t see Bram because he isn’t there.

Back at the Belden’s Rest Ruth talks to Alton about the different ways in which he and James enjoy their food. She gives him a letter that has been delivered for the Bear Claws. Inside is an invitation from Bram to meet them at Lena’s the next evening to discuss something that would be of benefit to the Elsir Vale.

That night Thornside tries to sneak into a house in Elftown to steal some things. He finds some hand-painted playing cards and an intricately carved jade statue of a Gith riding a dragon.

The next day Thornside and Xaladin go to Balasar to sell his stuff. Balasar offers market price for the cards but when he sees the statue he becomes suspicious. He offers 400 gold for the statue and the name of the person who got the statue. He and his friend are the only two people who have this statue. Thornside tells him the truth, expecting to get the 400 gold. Balasar gives him back his cards, keeps the statue and kicks him out, telling him never to return.

The next day they attend their dinner with Bram at Lena’s.

Bram starts when he sees Xaladin and asks him about twins in Eladrin society. Among dwarves twins are very rare and are seen as signs, usually of bad luck. He is curious if the same is true of Eladrin. He mentions that Xaladar worked for him.

Jak and James complain about the portion size but Alton revels in the fine food and delicate morsels of a twenty one course dinner. During the dinner Bram explains that hundreds of years ago the Ironfell clan became wealthy when they discovered the Karak Lode, a mine filled with platinum and aluminum and gold.

The location was kept secret through many layers of obfuscation. Then one day the mine went silent. Nobody ever heard from them again and nobody alive knew how to find it.

Inside the warehouse that was raided the previous day was found a sheaf of papers that Bram feels is Karak’s notes about the location of the lost mine. He wishes to pay the Bear Claws to go find it, vowing that the wealth will be of great benefit to Overlook and the lands round about.

The Bear Claws accept the offer with a healthy payment and Bram gives Xaladin some magical bracers and some boots for his friend Roland.

Leaving the next morning to follow the path detailed in the papers the Bear Claws take a wagon and their horses and travel through the Westdeep and into the Thornwaste. The first day in the Thornwaste they get in some arguments about the nature of the thorns but Alton blows them away enough to make a path. They spend one night in the Thornwaste and the next morning fail spectacularly at making their horses feel better after the scratches and stony ground they have been forced to trod.

As the Bear Claws leave the Thornwaste they encounter a dwarf woman with flaming red hair standing on a large boulder. She tells them to get out of Hammerfist lands. The Bear Claws refuse and she orders an attack from her crossbowmen that are hiding in the trees. The Bear Claws quickly deal with most of the dwarves until the woman surrenders and asks for a parley. She tells them she is Glorin Hammerfist and that the Karak Lode belongs to her.

She knows the Bear Claws are on a mission from Bram and wants to be told if they find the mine. She also wants them to destroy it if it contains chaos ore — something she suspects because the local rumors are that the mine closed because everybody in it went mad and killed each other.

When asked how she knows this she admits that the Hammerfists own Lena’s, through a shadow company that nobody knows in affiliated with them.

She offers another healthy sum if the Bear Claws will destroy the mine if it contains chaos ore and tell her the location if it does not. Deciding that this doesn’t directly violate their agreement with Bram the Bear Claws take her money and agree to the terms.

They ask if there is a place to eat in Dunesend and she tells them that there is a tea house owned by Old Bede that they should check out, though it isn’t much.

18. Thornside and The Conspiracy

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Roland, Thornside
Level: 6
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Miranda, Durkik Forgeheart, Brak, Murrik Ironfell, Balasar, Krombastrafina, The Freeriders (Megan Swiftblade, Ragnum Dourstone, Sylen Leafrunner, Ghena Tenson, Madrick), Lost Ones (Szagyn), Kalad, Emil, Aerun

The Bear Claws take advantage of some much needed rest in Overlook. Alton prepares his rituals and researches his book about divine and infernal magics. He meets an acolyte of Avandra named Miranda. Alton says he has some questions for her and she offers to stop by the Belden’s Rest the next afternoon to speak with him.

James goes to the temple of Moradin to talk to Brak about runes and the uses of them. Brak shows him a new theory he is working on to build runes that exist as tattoos that imbue magical power into the individual. He tries one out on James. On the way out of the temple Murrik, a disgruntled dwarf shouts at James and accuses him of tainting the temple of Moradin.

Jak hangs out in the forest, getting to know his bear better and sharing food with it. While there he meets Thornside, a young elf who lives there. During their discussion Thornside mentions he might be able to get them a better price on some of their gems. Jak takes him back to town to meet the rest of the Bear Claws.

Roland buys some new clothes, and spends some time talking with the rest of the group, getting to know them and trying to instill trust and friendship.

When Jak and Thornside return they find the rest of the Bear Claws eating dinner in the Belden’s Rest dining room. They also find two Gorebeast minotaurs sitting at a different table. Roland approaches them to see how they react to hearing about Jak but they seem completely uninterested in talking about Jak. They insist that he is not a Minotaur. Thornside steals a medallion from one of them that has a marking that represents Asmodeus. Jak comes over and antagonizes them further. They choose to ignore him, pretending that he doesn’t exist.

Reniss comes in, she wants the Bear Claws to help her track down information about the warehouses Sarshan was using in Overlook. She knows that they are owned by the Elsir Consortium but she can’t seem to find anything else.

They agree to meet in two hours, just enough time for Thornside to take Roland and Jak to trade their gems for a higher price than street value.

He leads them to a shady gambling hall in the Blister where they meet a dragonborn named Balasar. There is some haggling and Balasar ends up buying the gems for 30% above market value.

The Bear Claws meet Reniss and on the way to the warehouse district they encounter a fight between the Freeriders and the Lost Ones. The Lost Ones leader is threatening the Freeriders. “This is our town, and we want you out of it.”

The Bear Claws charge in, literally, and in a very short time the Lost Ones have surrendered. The Bear Claws threaten them back. “Overlook is protected.”

Megan, leader of the Freeriders, tells them that her group recently intercepted and destroyed a shipment of chaos ore infused weapons and traced them back to Overlook. She knows they came from the the same warehouses that the Bear Claws are headed to investigate. She also tells them to check with Haelyn in the Shrine of Erathis in Tradetown. She knows everything that comes and goes in Overlook.

When they near the warehouses Alton picks up on the chaos energy in the weapons and is able to lead them to the warehouse. Roland senses a lot of chaotic energy inside. Thornside picks the lock and they enter. Alton casts a ritual to warn them if somebody comes in behind them and Thornside leaves a powerful glue on the floor near the entrance to catch anybody coming in.

On a desk there are papers detailing shipments to a Fortress Graystone. Thornside steals a short sword form the pile of chaos ore weapons. Roland senses a link to the Elemental Chaos from the weapons. He also sees a vision of a powerful Githzerai fortress built in the eastern mountains of the Elsir Vale. Alton and James remember that Graystone was the name of a ruin in those mountains.

The Bear Claws decide to come back the next day and put tracking powder on the shipping papers so they can discover who owns the warehouse. On their way back to the Belden’s Rest they encounter Kalad and Emil going to investigate a disturbance in the area. Emil is really excited to see Alton. He is training to be a Paladin for Moradin. He feels sure that he will be ready to protect his family in a couple of months. Kalad won’t let him use weapons because he hits the wrong people in practice and he chose a holy symbol of Avandra even though he is a Paladin of Moradin. Kalad doesn’t think there is much hope.

Emil is very excited about Roland and Jak and asks them to teach him how to be scary.

Aerun comes and greets them warmly. He is in a good mood and seems happy until they mention the Lost Ones. He promises to send Thornside a gift. He has a new bow for him to use.

The Bear Claws return to the Belden’s Rest where Brin is waiting for them. He has accepted a job as Captain of a patrol squad based out of Terelton.


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