Bear Claws

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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13. Shadows and Solitude

I am very confused. The priest of Avandra tells me to remain faithful. He says Avandra left me because I was not faithful enough. In what way have I been faithless? I have always sought to further the precepts of my faith. I value freedom and luck and try to help others recognize their independence wherever I go. How have I offended my god?

I find I am also uncomfortable with others. I desire solitude and the jovial nature of my friends leaves me chafing.

My friends were attacked by some hired thugs. They captured one who seemed to know little. When speaking to the magistrate Alain, Alton and Brin came with information they had gathered. I suggested using this information to set up an operation to capture Modra, the apparent leader of the Dark Ones responsible for the Orc attacks. The Magistrate didn’t seem interested. He told us to follow our leads instead.

James and Xaladin were fined for torturing their prisoner. James became angry and assaulted the Magistrate. He spent the rest of the time in a cell.

One of the leads we were given by Reniss, sister of Jen of the Farstriders, was to look for Modra in the Happy Beggar. In the Happy Beggar I spoke with an old man named Brenat. He claimed to have knowledge about Modra but said he hadn’t been seen in years. When he left one of the workers told me he had been asking those same question just before we arrived.

Motioning to my comrades I pursued. They must have discovered some other clues because only Reniss followed. Brenat proved altogether too spry for his apparent age and managed to elude us by use of carefully placed ruffians.

As darkness approached a small mouse brought me a message from Xaladin. “Return to the cellar.”

I asked Reniss to keep looking for the elusive Brenat and returned to the Happy Beggar to join my comrades.

This anger and carelessness do not seem like me. I feel my death has made me more focused and driven to find answers. Also, I am less patient. After my failed attempt to find Brenat, a man I should easily have smelled if not outrun at a walk, I feel a burning need to smash things.

On my way back to the Happy Beggar I will stop at the prison and try once more to bargain for James’ release.

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12. This is how I died...

This is how I died.

Kalad instructed us that in order to seal the vents we must fill the Nexus with boiling water. We found a strange shadow creature helping the orcs in the boiler room. We made quick work of them and opened the pipes to flood the Nexus.

Inside the Nexus we found Tusk and a Shadow Warlock. Alain was thrown from a height attempting to climb to the control panel that would flood the chamber. He nearly died but survived.

The rest of us attempted to fight our way to the top. The warlock came close on the upper platform and I hooked a grappling hook around her leg and tried to pull her off. When she didn’t move I stepped off the ledge. She fell on top of me. I held her down and broke her hand, forcing her to call off the orcs. She laughed, threw me aside and attacked. I fled, trying to regroup with my comrades but she caught me and darkness descended.

I found myself in the presence of Something dark and terrible. Incessant whispers plagued my mind and I plead with Avandra for solace and safety. For the first time since I spoke my vows she did not answer my prayers. I suffered alone.

I awoke a week later amidst revelry and celebration that somehow seems hollow to me. My companions killed Tusk and the Warlock and saved Overlook and the lands beyond. I feel drained and used. The shadow creature claimed one of my fingers as trophy and I find my grip is weaker at its loss.

May Avandra give me strength to stand against whatever future is coming.

I fear I no longer have the courage to act on my own.

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11. Madness in the Dark

Our trip to the Vents took us two days. On the way we talked about what brought us away from home, what we thought of Orcs. I struggle with the hatred around us. How do we know we are in the right?

We found the Farstriders camp at the entrance to the Vents. Inside was a cramped and claustrophobic twist of tunnels that were filled with madness. Many times we heard voices whispering to us. Insidious words sowing distress and betrayal. There were warnings that Kalad would kill me in my sleep, that all the dwarves hated me. I know this is not true, but I found I doubted Kalad’s faithfulness all the same. He has been most taciturn since his ordeal with the Orcs.

We helped a lone Orc fight some beetles that corroded our weapons and destroyed my armor. The Orc turned out to be a liar and a worthless source of information. He seems to be another spot of evidence that the world may be more black and white than I had supposed.

We encountered another room where echoes magnified, deafening us and destroying our ability to communicate. Another room where light had no power, no existence and where spoken language could not be heard.

Clearly somebody toys with us.

Alton has been hearing a voice telling him he will have to pay soon. He prays to Ioun constantly. James does not like us talking about it without including him. He does understand.

Xaladin tried to swim a rushing river when he had many safer options open to him. The fool. He nearly died. Alton’s floating disk turned out immensely useful in saving him from death.

Finally Kalad recognized where we were and lead us to the Vents. We found Orcs and a Troll desecrating an altar to Moradin with the remains of the Farstriders. We killed them.

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10. Forge Fires Burning

We dispatched the Orcs attacking us and were joined by Xaladin, a Druid looking for his brother. I was immediately impressed with his abilities and find him… Acceptable as a companion. Though I’m not sure he can be trusted.

I questioned one of the Orcs. He seemed to think that he didn’t need a reason to attack the dwarves. I d ont understand how anything can be violent without provocation. What is justice if both sides fight merely out of hate?

Beyond the hall we found a huge descending staircase that twisted over two hundred feet into a mountain valley. The Orcs had claimed the stairs and we fought out way down to the bottom. In an attempt to surprise the Orcs I lashed several ropes together and swung from the stairs onto a lower platform.

Beyond that was the Dwarven forges, filled with Orcs, fire and destruction. The Orcs were beating a dwarf for collapsing the tunnel. He is a paladin of Moradin. He has told us that the Orcs can get through the mountains by going through the vents. We must make sure the Farstriders have succeeded in sealing them.

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9. Deeper Delve the Dwarves

Beneath the stairs we found a small room with two doors. Hearing the sound of Orc voices behind one door we went inside to find two Orcs, hiding in the chamber. In an attempt to smoke them out Brin offered his bedroll as a sacrifice. The smoking bedroll filled the room with smoke and made the battle difficult. After dispatching the Orcs I tossed one of their bodies on the bedroll to put out the fire. Unfortunately the body ignited. James extinguished the fire with his great spray of urine but the stench was enough to make Alton stumble and fall in the smoldering steaming mess. His vomit only added to the stench.

Through the other door we found a small chamber with an emaciated and caged bear. I was able to coax it out, calm it and lead it to the exit. I hope it will recover and find safety. I wish there was some way I could see how it is doing. It seemed a poor animal. Alain tried to stop me from rescuing the bear. Had he been less of my companion I would have struck him.

Farther down we encountered an ogre that barely fit into the hallway. We dispatched it with little real effort.

Deeper down the hole we went. The dwarves main hall was littered the slain bodies of monks and clerics, killed while sleeping. We interrupted the Orcs in the very act of looting. The battle was vicious and long and we all sorely needed a rest. Just three hours into the night Alain woke us with the sound of approaching Orcs.

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8. Orcs
The Siege at Bordrin's Watch

Orcs.jpg
Loovat has taken time off to be with his son. In his stead Alain has joined our party.

We were recruited to help defend Bordrin’s Watch from the invading hordes of Orcs. We travelled to Overlook, stopping to check on a helpless old farmer on the way. In Overlook I saw other Dragonborn. They seem very proud and sure. I wish to speak to them but don’t know what to say, finding no commonality. News of Orcs makes me worry for the clerics in the temple of Avandra. Are they safe?

We found a letter from a demon written to Alton. He tells me the demon is the one he made a pact with to avenge his village. He feels confident he can take care of it. I trust him.

We journeyed deep into the mountains to warn the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. When we arrived we found Orcs feasting on the flesh of the priests. We scaled the wall and vanquished them, burying the charred remains. Inside the Monastery is blood, gore and feces. Under the desecrated altar to Moradin is a stairway. We go down, the Orcs must pay for these crimes.

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