Bear Claws

23. The Queen of the Drylands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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17. The Fall of the House of Umbraforge
How to make friends and burn down a mercenary camp.

image.jpegCharacters: Alton, Roland, James, Xaladin
Level: 5
Location: Umbraforge, Shadowfell, Overlook
NPCs: Sarshan, Thannu, Reniss, Prashant and Ausma, Elder Caddrick, Magistrate

The Bear Claws continue up the secret passage to the entrance into Sarshan’s tower. When they open the door they find themselves in a library. There are two guards guarding the door, a witch doing research and some fool sent by someone to find a book. The guards immediately attack and the witch triggers a trap that sends darts of shadow lancing about the room.

Alton, and Xaladin work on the guards while James trades a whiffing series of missed blows with the other enemy. Roland immediately targets the witch and duels her from across the room until lightning, blasting from his fingers chars her against the back wall. The others are quickly taken care of.

Opening a door in the library they find themselves in one corner of the tower with stairs rising to the next level. The Bear Claws decided to go up the stairs rather than explore the rest of the ground floor.

At the top of the stairs they meet a gnoll hunt master and his assistant. The gnolls are frustrated because they have been waiting to talk to Sarshan for an indeterminate number of days. They think the Bear Claws are messengers of Sarshan and pay them to take a message to him. They want Sarshan to give the promised weapons to their leader, Fangren, or he will go on his own. They claim he has discovered his own source of power. Fangren is threatening to rebel against Sarshan.

The Bear Claws promise to speak with Sarshan and the gnolls depart. In the next room they find a large garden with blue and greenish gray plants and trees. Through a hole in the floor they can see a yellow-skinned, lanky man arguing with a Shadar-Kai. The yellow-skinned man insists that Sarshan owes General Zithiruun more trained troops.

While the Bear Claws listen to the argument several swarms of rot scarabs and a giant shadow beetle attack them. They fight off the insects, barely staying alive and are just finishing the battle when shouts from below bring the Captain of Sarshan’s guard, Thannu, charging in. He brings lots of soldiers with him and demands they surrender their weapons. He doesn’t believe any of Roland’s negotiations or claims that they are helping by killing Modra.

He is ready to escalate the matter when Sarshan himself shows up, arriving through a portal that leads back to the black-tiled room where the portal to the natural world is. Sarshan wants to know what is going on. He listens to Thannu who accuses the Bear Claws of infiltrating the tower. Then he listens to the Bear Claws who present him with Modra’s body. He examines it and tells them he respects their skill and offers them a position in his company, where, he tells them, they will have room to grow. “In a week, or a month, or a year, the world you are from will not be a place you want to be.”

Hoping to live just long enough to escape they accept his offer. He dismisses his troops and tells Thannu to show them to the officer’s quarters.

At that instant the bomb in the foundry goes off. The explosion tears the bluff out from under the the tower and one corner of the tower falls away, the corner with Sarshan in it. The tower starts to tilt and shake.

Thannu and his two shadow Panthers attack. Alton and Roland take turns burning Thannu while James holds off the brunt of his attacks. Xaladin tries to flee through Sarshan’s portal and finds that it is keyed to let only Sarshan through. Xaladin immobilizes one of the Panthers long enough for Alton to burn a hole through Thannu and James to take a mighty golf swing with his hammer that caved in the head of the other Panther. Once they killed the last one the Bear Claws set to trying to adjust the portal to let them through while the tower tumbled around them, knocking them prone.

They fail at changing the portal but it malfunctions when the tower falls over the edge of the bluff, just long enough for them to get through. They are blasted with dust and brick and rock before the portal breaks.

In the black room the magistrate waits for them. He begs them to take him back to Overlook. James and Xaladin want to leave him but Alton and Roland talk them into taking him back. Outside the explosion has plugged the rift and chaos lava is backing up and flowing all about Umbraforge. As they watch the volcano explodes from the pressure and lava washes towards them.

They dive through and the lava and tremors destroy the Shadowfell gate behind them.

Once in Overlook they meet Reniss who has been looking for them. She has unearthed news that Sarshan is the old man they chased from the Happy Beggar a few days before. She also knows that the Elsir Consortium rented some warehouses to Sarshan.

They take the magistrate to elder Caddrick who thanks them warmly for their service and introduces them to Aerun the new captain of the city guard and magistrate of the law, who will be taking his place. Caddrick also thanks them for the information about Modra as he had not been aware that the Orc attack was anything more than just unrest.

Caddrick finishes by warning James and Xaladin that torture is never acceptable and the only reason they are not being punished is that there is no evidence that they actually tortured anybody.

Caddrick offers to get the Bear Claws a table at Lenas, a very high end restaurant in Overlook, and a larger bed for James.

The Bear Claws leave and return to the Belden’s Rest exhausted but satisfied that Overlook is again safe because of their efforts.

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16. Sarshan or Modra
Justice or Revenge

Characters:Alton, Jak, James, Xaladin
Level: 4/5
Location: Umbraforge, Shadowfell
NPCs: Pug, Leena, Modra

The Bear Claws head to the Umbraforge market to look for information about Modra. While there Alton and James find a book seller who has some magical books with rituals. They purchase a few and Alton finds a treatise on the differences between divine and infernal magics that he buys from the shopkeeper.

While they peruse the rituals Xaladin and Jak wander around looking for Modra until Jak stops in surprise. A few stalls down is a large black Minotaur that he doesn’t know who is wearing the Gorebeast clan medallion. Jak is worried because he was exiled from his clan for being unwilling to slaughter innocents. When the Minotaur approaches Jak finds out he is Pug, Jak’s older brother who was exiled for being too cruel.

Pug welcome Jak, thinking he is one of Sarshan’s mercenaries. He tells them that he works for Sarshan’s employers as part of a group gathering in force across the planes. He and a Tiefling named Quick are the local generals overseeing Sarshan’s efforts.

He tells Jak he would like him to go to one of the training grounds and fight with some of the mercenaries there to teach them a few things since they are rusty.

The Bear Claws oblige and soon find themselves in a fight with a group of ogres. The group doesn’t present much of a problem to the Bear Claws who deal with them quickly. A crowd gathers and cheers them on. Among the crowd is a Shadar-Kai witch who watches their performance. After the fight they are given gold for their winners portion of the betting proceeds and the witch approaches them. Her name is Leena and she was an assistant to Modra.

Leena knows Modra’s plan to blow up the foundry and she knows a secret way into the foundry. If the Bear Claws will go in and kill Modra she will show them how to get in.

The Bear Claws agree and go to meet her late that night. When they enter the foundry Modra tries to make a deal. He will plant the charges and they can sneak into the tower to get Sarshan, who is planning an invasion of Overlook. When the Bear Claws try to make him go with them he turns and breaks open one of the mutation vats in the foundry, revealing a huge two headed boar.

Jak and James mop up Modra’s goblin followers while Alton goes toe to toe with Modra himself. Xaladin shifts into beast form and helps take out the Boar and archers. Jak gets pushed into the flowing lava in the foundry before coming out and facing off with the giant boar. Alton burns Modra’s face off and they set his timer so the foundry will explode in fifteen minutes.

Making their way along the secret passage to the tower they discover a secret shrine to the Raven Queen that contains some treasure and heals them of all their wounds.

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15. Into Shadow
For revenge

The Bear Claws burned Alain’s body and sent his magical items to Loovat, as per his request. Mary invited the entire group to an Avandra worship service to be held later that night. Jak arrived in the city to find Roland waiting for him at the gate, having expected him. They meet a drunk dwarf who gives them a small granite carving of a bear.

Xaladin and James go to watch the city Magistrate. They witness him having what looks like a shady deal with somebody. Xaladin also sees a band of Eladrin adventurers who taunt him for being a druid and bestial (he was in his beast form at the time). A young halfling named Emil meets Alton and asks for his advice, he is a tinker and is upset that orcs attacked his caravan and he wants to find a way to protect his family. He is hoping Alton can teach him to be a Warlock. Alton recommends him to the temple of Moradin and tells him to seek aid there. Roland sees a vision of a shadowed camp and a tower that are split with a river of flame.

Mary brings two dwarf paladins to watch the prisoner, Modra (who killed Alain and was responsible for the recent deaths of the Farstriders and the orc attacks at Bordrin’s Watch). Kalad, whom the PCs know from the Vents and Brak who is James’ friend from the temple of Moradin. Brak tells James to come see him some time, he has an experiment with runes that he wants to show him — something he’s been working on.

On the way to the party the group is surrounded by Lost Ones who threaten the Bear Claws and tell them to get out of Overlook.James scares them off and Jak and Roland, passing nearby come to see what the commotion is about.

At the party James gets drunk and does a lot of dancing. Brin and Roland do some gambling with the dwarves. Mary tells the party that she is leaving to seek information about her past. She wants to find her own kind.

A bear attacks and Jak uses the granite statue to bond it to him so that it will come whenever it is summoned.

Brak runs up tellling the PC’s that the magistrate came and took Modra away. The PCs run to follow and are just in time to see the magistrate let Modra go. James, Brin and Xaladin rough up the magistrate and find a brass key to the Shadowfell gate that is in the room beneath the Happy Beggar. The other PCs follow Modra to the Happy Beggar. Everybody arrives beneath the Happy Beggar in time to see Modra slip through the portal into the Shadowfell.

There is much discussion about stuffing the Magistrate into a box and/or torturing him but there isn’t enough time, since Modra is the one that killed Alain and is getting away the PCs open the portal and step through.

On the other side they find a war camp that is filled with tents and buildings. There is also a volcano spewing lava that runs like a river down the middle of the camp. There is also a tower and a large square building near it. The PCs are mistaken for mercenaries by the guards and told not to leave the war camp again or they will be punished. They try to question the Magistrate, who they brought with them. He tells them that the lava comes from the Elemental Chaos and the local lord, Sarshan, is using it to make some kind of monsters. He also hints that there is more to what is going on here but he doesn’t know any more than that. He mentions that the Elsir Consortium might be involved in some of Sarshan’s plans. When James asks for his money back he mentions that he has money in an account here in the Shadowfell that he can give them if they will let him go.

The account is held by a Shadar-Kai banker near the entrance to the slave compound. When the PCs approach the slave compound a tremor opens a rift in the ground and elemental monsters come out. They make short work of them. A bubble of lava rises up and when it bursts it contains a pair of gloves. Alton’s demon speaks to him and tells him they are a gift.

The PCs take the magistrate to his banker and get his money then turn him loose.

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14. Darkness and Death

Under the cellar of the Happy Beggar we met Modra, demanding a key to the Shadowfell that we had found on the person of one of Tusk’s minions.

He threatened to kill Alain if we did not give him the keys. When we refused he slit Alain’s throat. In retaliation Alton melted the keys, burning his hands.

Brin captured Modra and tied him up. He has promised us money and weapons from his caches here in the city.

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