Bear Claws

39. The Wrath of Dragons

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Alton
Level: 11
Location: Elemental Chaos, Under the World Tree
NPCs: Emil, Pattie

The Bear Claws continue to explore the caves that Sarshan fled into. They encounter a room with a bookcase, a weapon rack and a table with a treasure chest. There is also a painting of chaos energy that makes those looking at it a little queasy.

Roland looks at the picture and finds himself in an alternate, mirror dimension. He passes back through easily enough. Jak picks up a weapon from the rack and finds that he can’t put it down, his hands will not let go. James figures out that the weapons in the rack are cursed and begins a ritual to remove the weapon from Jak’s hand.

Alton picks a book from the bookcase and the bookcase swivels around, locking him inside a closet on the other side of the wall.

Thornside sees the unlocked chest on the table and recognizes it as a mimic. Jak sees Alton disappear and helps pry the wall open so he can get out. Thornside tries to take a cursed dagger by throwing his cloak over it. It gets stuck to his hand.

Emil, intrigued by the mimic, tries to open it. It bites him and Thornside, Alton and Roland all unleash on it, killing it. Thornside uses the dead mimic to take another dagger from the weapon rack.

James begins the ritual to remove the first dagger from Thornside’s hand while they continue to explore.

Moving further through the caves the Bear Claws encounter a rear guard that Sarshan left behind. They tell the Bear Claws that he instructed them to make a line with the pillars to get out. They don’t know what the pillar are.

Jak tries the adamant one door blocking the northern exit which triggers odd shaped pillars to begin falling at random into the room. The Bear Claws quickly realize that they can slide the pillars and interlock them until they make a line.

When they do the pillars fade away and an image of an old man appears. He repeats a riddle about a salt shelf and a key that floats. The Bear Claws recognize the entrance room to the cavern being mentioned in the riddle. They head toward the entrance, passing through a shorter route that Sarshan’s guards tell them about.

On the way they enter a room with a raging river running across it and a slick rope bridge. Jak passes across safely but when James follows the bridge breaks and James is washed away under a stone shelf.

He finds himself in a pool under the pit-filled entry room, a large wooden key floating in an eddy current nearby and a sucking whirlpool near a small crystal shelf.

Jak runs to the room with the crystal floor and begins smashing it. James yells at him to stop.

Roland turns back and makes his way to the crystal-floored room the way they first came. Alton casts his Tenser’s Floating Disk and he, Emil, Pattie and Thornside ride it across the river and down the passage to the entry room just in time to see James climbing out of one of the pits with the wooden key stuck into a pouch in his armor.

They return to the adamantine door and open it. On the other side is a long corridor filled with boulders, running perpendicular to the direction they want to go. As they start across the hallway the gravity shifts and they begin to fall toward one of the distant ends. Jak catches a boulder, Alton grabs hold of Jak and Roland lands on the boulder next to them. Using a rope they climb to the exit and Jak and James stretch a rope across the span so the others can cross.

The passage slopes up slowly but feels steeper and steeper until they have climb along it. Finally they climb out into sunshine, the cave entrance a portal on a platform high in an enormous tree that is floating in a lake of Blood Chaos. As they start to descend two green dragons rise up from the other side of the island.

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They attack the Bear Claws but quickly find themselves outmatched as Alton opens up with a giant burst of energy.

The Bear Claws dispatch them quickly with one final blast from Roland who delivers the final blow to both of them in one shot.

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38. Down the Rabbit Hole

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Alton, Xaladin
Level: 11
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Emil, Pattie, Falrinth, Megan Swiftblade, farmers and travelers in the Green Dragon Inn

The Bear Claws journey toward Talar. While camping Pattie offers to tell a story about Malthazard and where he came from. She claims it’s because she is a bard.

That night Emil speaks to Alton using Malthazard’s voice. He tells Alton he will get what he wants which is the deaths of Emil and his family.

In Talar they enter the Green Dragon and Jak and Thornside get into a discussion with a drunk tiefling who tries to sell them his load of expensive cloth. Xaladin speaks to an Eladrin woman about the feywild and why she doesn’t feel comfortable with non-fey people.

The locals share some stories about rumored Githyanki attacks taking place in other parts of the world. They seem to think that there is an advanced communication between the armies.

One also claims to have seen a three-headed calf in Brindol.

While they are talking an earthquake starts and the building starts to fall. The Bear Claws leap into action to try to save the people and the building but quickly learn it is a lost cause when the building collapses on several of them.

Outside is a long flow of blood chaos coming from Falrinth’s tower. Tentacled chaotic beasts start to rise from the blood chaos and attack the Bear Claws in the destruction of the town.

As they wipe up the chaos creatures they see somebody crawling on the roof of the tower at the top of the hill. The tower has sunk into the hill until the roof is level with the top of the hill.

The Bear Claws approach and see that Megan is on the roof with a broken leg. Jak rescues her and she tells them that Falrinth is till inside. They find him shoring up the doors on the ground floor and help him wedge them in place. He repays them with some much needed items and a potion of vitality.

He tells them that Sarshan was there but he fled down a hole in the floor of the tower.

The Bear Claws follow Sarshan down the hole and find themselves in a maze of caverns. They pass through several caverns before they are split up by hallucinatory mushrooms. Roland absorbs the magical effect of the mushrooms and they find themselves somewhere in the dark on the other side of a cavern full of dead mushrooms.

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37. An Elephant in My Pajamas

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Alton
Level: 11
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Brak, Kalad, Emil, Pattie, Mary, Jalissa, Althaea Windleaf, Ruth and Rory Teng, Jacob and Coriander, Gwen, Marchand, Elder Ironfell, Elder Caddrick, Amyria

Thornside is woken up one morning to a banging on the door of his room at the Belden’s Rest. Kalad has come with an order to arrest him for cruelty in treating a prisoner. Rory has filed a complaint against him for breaking his pelvis after the battle with Malthazard in the inn.

While he is in prison Jalissa, Emil and Pattie come to visit him. Jalissa gives him a lodestone so that they can tell which direction each other is in. She mentions that she got it in the feywild from a gnome merchant.

Emil thinks Thornside is imprisoned illegally and wants to bust him out. Pattie teases Thornside about Jalissa after she leaves.

Roland agrees to be Thornside’s legal representative, called a second, and begins putting together a defense. While he is studying legal documents and precedent at the library he is approached by Althaea who is curious about his abilities because she doesn’t understand how he doesn’t explode or go insane from using his powers. Eventually they come to an understanding when Roland figures out that she summons creatures from the Elemental Chaos as part of her magic.

Mary speaks to James and Alton and mentions that she, Althaea and Jalissa are heading across the Orc lands to find her village and meet her mother, but first she’s stopping at the monastery to talk to Bain.

Alton checks on Gwen at the temple of Avandra and finds the place clean and in good shape. She mentions her family and tells him they have moved into the priest’s shack behind the temple.

Jak assists Roland in his preparations by completely misinterpreting his description of the traditional clothes worn by the legal council.

James visits with Brak and sets up a forge so that he can create magical items for people.

Emil and Pattie ask Roland what they can do to help Thornside and Roland mentions that if the accusers tongue were removed then there would be precedent to cancel the trial. Pattie gives him a nod of acknowledgment.

The next day the trial starts and Elder Ironfell is presiding as the judge. Rory and his council try to establish Thornside as a thief in order to defame his character but when Roland points that being a thief has nothing to do with what he’s being tried for the accusers find that they quickly have little to go on. Roland posits that Thornside’s actions were part of battle and Elder Ironfell lets him go.

Back at the inn they celebrate and Emil comes to tell James his elephant is at the stables. James runs away to get his elephant which is named Tembo and leaves enormous piles of waste behind — it’s a match made it heaven.

Alebottom comes to get Thornside to buy him a drink (or two) and is almost nice to him.

Glorin Hammerfist also shows up to ask the Bear Claws if she can reinvest their profits from the Freetraders back into the group, “In ten years you guys could own this city.” They agree and she tells them that the Freetraders held their first council meeting that morning and elected a council to run the coalition.

The next morning the trial of Ruth and Rory is postponed because Rory’s tongue was cut from his mouth during the night while he was in his cell.

Over the next month these events take place:

Alton checks on the temple of Avandra. Meets Gwen’s family, her husband who lost an arm in the siege and her four-year-old daughter who loves to tell stories as long as she’s got an audience — or possibly even when she doesn’t. He sets up a job for Marchand, Gwen’s husband, to help train new recruits when he’s healed. Gwen also tells him that there is a harpy living in the rafters of the temple.

Jak spends much of his time helping to train the troops himself, showing them techniques. He also makes a mess out of a library, mostly on accident because he’s not sure what to do in one. He speaks to Amyria about the former owner of his Urgrosh. She tells him a few stories about Grath and her experience fighting alongside him for Arkhosia. Then she tells him she must go to the University of Sayre and will be leaving.

James talks Brak into letting him have an old unused training ground in back of the temple to make a pen for his elephant and spends his time getting the pen and forge up to his standards. He also offers to make a prosthetic arm for Marchand.

Roland asks James about enchanting some magic items for him and gives him an old cloak that he can repurpose for something useful — magical components.

Thornside and Pattie spend their nights hunting down the few remaining members of the Lost Ones and killing them. He is surprised to learn that Pattie is surprisingly good at sneaking and at assassinating people.

Alton takes Thornside to the temple of Avandra and asks him how to take out the harpy. Thornside admits he doesn’t know what to do but he suggests that, when they know where Xaladin is he use the harpy as an animal messenger to somebody in the feywild and that will get him back home.

Jak, while out visiting temples sees a strange multi-weaponed elf with an eye patch watching him. He calls out to Gilgathorn and goes over to talk to him. He tells Jak that he has not found Sarshan but he has found somebody who knows where he is. Megan Swiftblade of the Freeriders knows where Sarshan is but she seems to have disappeared.

Jake goes off to tell the rest of the Bear Claws. When they all arrive at the inn they have a message waiting from Elders Cadrick and Ironfell asking to meet with them.

They have a mission for the Bear Claws. They want them to journey to Talar, at the Green Dragon Inn and leave a message for Megan. She will contact them and they should bring her back to Overlook so they can figure out a way to remove the threat of Sarshan. If the Bear Claws find out where Sarshan is and they kill him then they are willing to pay extra for the service.

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36. Mawiage
That bwessed awangement...

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Alton, Xaladin
Level: 10/11
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Brak, Kalad, Emil, Pattie, Mary, Jalissa, Washburn Windleaf, Althaea Windleaf, Bain, Nathyra, Ruth and Rory Teng, All the Halflings

The Bear Claws face off against Bain. Mary tries to calm the village citizens while the Bear Claws and Emil do their best to stop Bain’s advance. Jak tackles the crazed dwarf and Xaladin pins him down with a fallen tree. He struggles to free himself but as they close on him Nathyra charges in and cuts the hand from his arm.

His blood sprays across the snow and Mary kneels at his side, tears in her eyes as she reaches out to heal him.

Washburn watches the hand of Vecna fade into the Astral Plane and gathers his soldiers about him to return to the feywild. Nathyra approaches him and asks him to take her egg with him, to keep it safe and return in a few months when the village is safe and there are buildings where the egg can be kept warm.

Washburn wordlessly takes the egg and disappears into the feywild. James warns Nathyra that Washburn will never return with her egg. She seems distraught but can’t do anything about it any more.

Mary asks the people to take care of Bain until he heals. They look willing to not kill him, at least. The Bear Claws suddenly find themselves being sucked back the inn in Overlook where they find Althaea swearing and complaining that the field collapsed too soon, they should have been gone longer. Jalissa seems non-plussed by it all.

Mary grabs Washburn and holds him against the wall. She snarls at him to never show his face near her again. He has manipulated all of them including telling Mary that she was an orphan when her mother was clearly alive.

He leaves them calmly, with a look of satisfaction at getting what he wanted.

Emil’s wedding is about to begin.

Ruth asks Alton if he is nervous.

The Bear Claws sit down for the wedding and Kalad begins the officiating with many metaphors about the unity of marriage and forge work.

Malthazard speaks to Alton in his mind. “Kill them. Kill the halflings. This is your task. This is how you complete our pact.”

Alton starts to summon his powers. James sees his distress and reaches for him. Mary puts her hand on his shoulder and asks if he is alright. She tells Alton that Avandra will be with him.

He releases all his energy into the ceiling and Roland absorbs it, making his body glow with stored potential. Alton cries out to Avandra and collapses, seemingly dead.

Ruth shouts for Malthazard to come and draws a summoning circle on the floor of the inn. Rory opens up the trap door behind the bar and two minotaurs and six tieflings poor out as the demon forms at the end of the bar.

Althaea sees Malthazard and shouts, “It’s not a full summons. The aspect can be sent back. I need thirty seconds and a piece of him.”

The minotaurs focus on Jak. The tieflings die before they can even get around the bar. Malthazard lashes out with his lightning sword and flame whip striking at those who are nearest him.

Jak cuts off a piece of Malthazard’s earlobe and tosses it to Xaladin who changes to a wolf and catches it in the air. He delivers it to Althaea, Emil, Kalad and Jalissa who are working on the ritual to banish Malthazard.

Malthazard notices Thornside’s armor and speaks to it, “Rauthoros? Where have you been?”

The armor responds, “Trapped, brother.”

At that moment Roland hits Malthazard with an acid orb and the ritual completes. Malthazard fades into nothing.

Ruth is crying, “My Lord Asmodeus will not be happy.”

Meanwhile Alton wakes up on the side of a grassy path, with forest all around him. Avandra, a pretty young halfling with red curls, greets him and offers to take up his pact in place of Malthazard. He will have access to her power.

Alton agrees and she puts her hand on his chest and sends him back.

He wakes in the inn and his hair has gone completely white.

Rory is pale and shaking as Kalad ties him up along with Ruth and the one living Minotaur, Krombastrafina. Thornside approaches them and borrows James’ hammer. He smashes Rory’s pelvis. Kalad shoves him back as Rory screams.

James heals Rory and Kalad takes the prisoners away. James officiates over the wedding, marrying Emil and Pattie. Emil’s father sings them a song then the party begins. Dancing, food, drinking and lots of songs.

Jacob, Emil’s father, offers to settle down and run the inn instead of being a Tinker. He’s ready to retire.

The inn is still being held by the Teng’s until their trial at which point the ownership can be negotiated.

The next couple of days are quiet while the Bear Claws go about their business.

Alton checks on his sculptor and gives him a sketch of Avandra to work from. He also checks on the temple. One of the times he goes there he finds Mary there. He thanks her for helping him make the right decision and she tells him that she sought the truth thinking it would set her free but now she wishes she had not found it.

While they talk they find they are no long in the temple but are on the grassy roadside where Alton met Avandra before. Avandra approaches them and tells Mary her road will be harder still, and with much pain. She touches Mary’s forehead and tells her that she will the Hammer of Avandra to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of freedom.

She tells Alton that is broken by Malthazard’s control but is on the way to being healed. She has need of him. She wants him to be her Hellbringer to those who bring captivity.

Jak goes to help train the troops of Overlook to point out ways to use weapons and how to fight so that their forces can be ready for any future engagements.

On his way home one evening a minotaur named Kruk steps from an alley, several others come from the alley and surround Jak. “Minotaur does not kill minotaur. You are not Jak Gorebeast. You are Jak Clankiller.”

The minotaurs attack and Jak whirls into combat and cuts them all down in a matter of seconds, his urgrosh whirling and dancing among his enemies. When the last one falls he looks up and sees Amyria who is amazed at his prowess. “Never in a dozen life times of memories have I seen someone with such grace and strength in battle. You are a true Kensei warrior.”

James goes to the temple of Moradin where Brak anoints him as a cleric. Later while they are working at the forge and studying the making of armor James remembers the runes that Amyria showed him for fire, earth, air and water and sees the symbol of Moradin, representing the forge. He suddenly sees how all four of those elements are present in the forge and he draws the rune on his chest, combining the elements and the forge of Moradin.

Brak watches him in astonishment and tells him he has discovered the forge rune. He tells James that he is now Moradin’s Master of the Forge.

Thornside has a conversation with Emil. Emil needs to go on a journeyman adventure or three. He wants to be Thornside’s minion. They spend the next two days playing as many pranks on Kalad as they can. Pattie and Emil argue about Thornside’s archery prowess.

As a test, to prove his ability Emil climbs a tree and drops three apples. Thornside shoots an arrow that bounces off a rock and impales all three apples. Pattie sees it and tells him that he needs a real test. She turns and fires two crossbows at him.

Thornside fires an arrows that splits in two and intercepts the crossbow bolts before they get to him. Emil is jumping up and down laughing and Pattie does a quiet golf clap. Congratulating Thornside on his sharpshooting.

Roland talks to Alton about how his magic has changed. Then he searches through the libraries looking for information about chaos power. While there Althaea sees him and asks him questions about how he controls his power. She asks him if he would like to visit the Elemental Chaos. It’s basically a revers summons. He agrees and finds himself in the Chaos where elements war with each other. Malthazard speaks to him and offers more power. Roland doesn’t even hesitate to turn him down.

When he returns Roland is a Wild Mage.

Xaladin spends time in the forest watching the animals and practicing his primal magics. He sees a lone wolf and remembers his experience under the blood moon. As he thinks about that experience his senses expand and he summons the power that he felt during that red moon.

He becomes a Blood Moon Stalker.

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35. Wibbly Wobbly
Timey Wimey

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Alton
Level: 10
Location: Overlook, 18 Years Ago — Village
NPCs: Brak, Kalad, Emil, Rufus, Mary, Jalissa, Glorin, General Zithiruun, Washburn Windleaf, Althaea Windleaf, Bain, Nathyra, Balatan

The Bear Claws jump into the battle with Zithiruun. Seeing his ability to shift around the battlefield Alton pinned him to the ground with a magical spike through his foot, keeping him place. His dragonborn henchmen closed in and the undead dragon blasted them with his poisonous necrotic breath before flying up to knock tiles from the rooftops of the buildings at those below.

Thornside and Jak both had close calls with death and the Bear Claws burned through a number of healing potions before they finished off the fight.

When it was over the word of Zithiruun’s death passed quickly through the mercenaries who quickly broke off the assault and fled from the city. Emil and Kalad searched the bodies of their comrades to find those who were still alive and try to heal them. Covered in blood and grime a small caravan of halfings arrived with Emil’s parents who stopped and watched him work before his mother came forward and said, “Emil, what did you do?”

Glorin Hamerfist and the Free Traders volunteered to help rebuild the damaged parts of the city and Ruth and Rory Teng opened up the Belden’s Rest with free food for anybody helping rebuild.

The city elders thanked the Bear Claws and paid them handsomely for the many ways in which they saved the city. It was their destruction of the mercenary camp in the Shadowfell, the closing of the portals in the Mountainroot Temple and their actions in helping with the siege that saved the city from much worse damage.

During the next week the Bear Claws spent some of their hard won money. They had to approach several merchants to sell their valuables because the Elsir Consortium goods were poor quality and not selling well so the merchants didn’t have money to buy their wares.

Jak got a tattoo shaped like a bear claw. James put in an order for an elephant and a war chariot to go with it.

Roland spent his time trying to figure out how to control the massive amounts of power that he channels from the Elemental Chaos.

Thornside checked on his ‘father’ and left him some gold while he was sleeping.

Alton hired somebody to take care of the Temple of Avandra and also commissioned somebody to carve a statue of Miranda and Avandra playing dice in the courtyard.

Jak and James took the body of the undead dragon to Rufus and found him packing up his tower and leaving town, moving back to Sayre. He told them he has an estate there and his tower was mostly destroyed during the siege. He will ship their table to them when it is finished.

Back at the Belden’s Rest Emil introduces them to his fiancé, Sweet Potato. Her friends call her Pattie. She can’t talk and speaks in sign language which Emil translates. Even though it’s obvious she is not happy about meeting all his friends he translates her gestures as, “she’s happy to meet you too.”

Their wedding is the next day. He wants to make sure that all the Bear Claws will be there. Family starts to arrive. The wedding is going to be at the Belden’s Rest and Ruth has cleared the common room of all the tables so she can set up for the service.

While the Bear Claws are there Mary comes in with Jalissa and two other Eladrin that she introduces as Washburn and Althaea Windleaf. Washburn was the Eladrin who raised her. Althaea is her ‘aunt’.

Washburn explains to the Bear Claws that he met them, eighteen years ago in a small village in the mountains beyond the Orc lands. They helped him destroy a dwarf who had been possessed by the hand of Vecna and was murdering his way across the countryside.

Althaea steps in and explains that the magical situation is just right and the stars aligned just so that it is possible, right then to send the Bear Claws back in time to the location Washburn is talking about.

They agree and she and Jalissa start the ritual that will send them through.

James invites Emil along and he quickly agrees.

Mary accompanies them as well. As they pass through the portal Washburn shouts at them that Emil wasn’t there when he met them before.

They arrive on a snow-covered hillside and see a small village below surrounded by a deep black forest in a vale surrounded by mountains. As they approach the village they see a large deep red dragonborn outside one of the houses cutting wood. He introduces himself as Balatan and invites them in. Inside they find Nathyra, his wife, who is watching over her egg protectively. They are in disagreement as to what to name the infant when it hatches.

As they are talking there is a commotion outside and they see Washburn with a small squad of six Eladrin marching through the streets. “Get out now. He’s coming and I don’t know how many of you will die if you are still here.”

The Bear Claws help him convince the dragonborn, who do not want to leave their village, to hide in the forest so they will be safe, just for a few hours until the danger is past.

Once they are hidden Washburn leads his Eladrin into the forest in the direction of the danger to face down the Hand of Vecna. James, Roland, Thornside, Jak and Emil go with Washburn. Alton and Mary stay behind to guard the hiding civilians.

A large horde of zombies comes shambling, running and crashing through the forest and the Bear Claws and the Eladrin soldiers lay about them with their weapons bringing everything they can to bear on the undead.

They fight off the horde and the dragonborn come out of the forest to find their village mostly destroyed, their houses burning or torn down by the horde. They gather in the square. Nathyra has her egg and is clutching a two-handed sword in one hand, spattered with blood she drags the body of Balatan behind her.

Washburn warns them that it’s not over yet and at that moment one of his scouts shouts a warning. A dwarf, wearing chain mail and a dark baldric marked with the symbol of Vecna strides out of the forest, his movements unnaturally quick. He catches the Eladrin scout and tears his throat out with his withered and rotten right hand.

As he approaches Mary steps up beside the Bear Claws who are getting ready to fight and whispers, “Bain?”

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34. The Nine Bells is Burning

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Xaladin, Alton
Level: 10
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Brak, Kalad, Emil, Rufus, Mary, Jalissa, Glorin, General Zithiruun

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The Bear Claws sit down with Brak and take an opportunity to look at the Incanabulum Primeval. They find that it is written as a very intricate illuminated manuscript in the dwarven language. When James tries to read it he find it to be gibberish. They also notice that the letters change when you look away so that it is hard to find interpret what it says.

Brak tells them it will in the Stone Anvil if they ever want to look at it again. He also tells them the method for reading it is a closely held secret of the priesthood of Moradin.

The next morning the Bear Claws are wakened by the sounds of large boulders pummeling the walls of Overlook. They are summoned to the council chambers where they immediately are pulled into helping with the organization and operations of the siege.

Not long after it starts reports start coming in of a near-breach in the outer wall, the Nine Bells district being on fire and Councillor Itrika Mountainhome is missing.

Elder Caddrick tells them they might be better used in the field.

The Bear Claws hurry to the weakening portion of wall to find a group of trolls breaking through a breach. The Bear Claws fight back the trolls just in time for Brak to lead a squad of Clerics who blast the mercenaries outside with fire while masons reassemble the fortifications of the breached wall.

The Bear Claws then rush to the Nine Bells district where they find a Berbalang that has split into two different aspects and is dropping fire bombs on the buildings while also flying mercenary troops over the walls to drop them into Overlook.

The Bear Claws fight off the mercenaries, lead people to safety, put out the fires and bring down both aspects of the demon Berbalang.

They get a sending from Elder Caddrick telling them where Councillor Mountainhome’s house was, asking them to look for her since she is the Minister of Defense for the City.

The find the entire neighborhood destroyed by a boulder from a catapult and set into the burning rubble to rescue the trapped Councillor. They dig through the rubble, and succeed at rescuing Councillor Mountainhome.

Throughout the day the Bear Claws have seen many of the people they know fighting the siege of the Lost Ones in the city. They see Glorin and Megan leading a group of dwarves fighting mercenaries soldiers. They see Emil and Kalad leading guardsmen who are rounding up Lost Ones that are burning buildings.

They see Rufus and his zombies building some kind of contraption to generate a forcefield.

They see Mary and Jalissa, returning from the feywild with two Eladrin who immediately leap into the fray to help defend the city.

They see Amyria, standing atop the wall sweeping infiltrators off the wall with great swinging blows of her sword.

Jak joins the city guard to lead a push in the fiercest part of the fighting.

James joins Glorin and the Freeriders to systematically hunt down all the Lost Ones in the city who are causing problems within.

Roland climbs atop the wall to hurl spells of destruction at the mercenaries without. From his vantage point he can see a dragon with a rider swooping high above the mercenary army.

Alton joins the masons and clerics at the breach in the wall to discuss arcane and divine methods for strengthening the fortifications.

Xaladin turns into a dire wolf and carries Thornside on his back as they tear through the streets of the city shooting and mauling any mercenaries of Lost Ones they see.

As dusk comes Rufus’s shield finally takes hold, pushing the mercenaries away from the city, at least for now.

James goes to Brak and expresses a desire to become a cleric of Moradin.

Alton checks on the temple of Avandra to make sure it’s okay, he cleans it up a little to make it seem less neglected.

Xaladin asks Brak about Cachlain but Brak knows nothing about him.

They rest and are awoken the next morning with Brak teling the Bear Claws that they have lost all communication with Caer Overlook. The messenger they send have not returned and there is no word from the Council. He is leading a group to the Dwarf Gate to deal with a breach there and wants the Bear Claws to check on Caer Overlook.

As they approach the keep the find a street littered with dead guards, some of them look as though they had been dead for weeks. In the midst of the bodies are three dragonborn and a giant fire drake. Beyond them they can see a large army of mercenaries, Kalad and Emil fighting them with more city guards and dwarf civilians. Down another street they can see Rufus fighting an army of mercenaries by bringing back dead mercenaries to fight for him.

An undead dragon lands on the corner of a building. The rider throws off his hood to reveal a Githyanki. He says, “General Zithiruun claims Overlook for the Emperor Zetch’r’r of the Githyanki Empire,” his voice booming in an unnatural volume that can be heard in the entire city.

He leaps from the dragon’s back and flies in front of his dragonborn before he drops to the ground in a puff of dust. He draws two silver swords from his back while he turns to face the Bear Claws.

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33. We Never Liked Overlook Anyway...

Characters: Roland, Jak, James, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 9
Location: Mountainroot Temple
NPCs: The Caretaker, Brak, Kalad, Emil, Elder Caddrick, Elder Ironfell

The Bear Claws overhear Hethralga plotting with her minions to attack them after they deal with the trolls so that she can get the Incanabulum Primeval back from them.

They decide to deal with her later and maintain their faux-friendly relationship with the fey creatures.

Thornside sneaks into the remaining room to check it out. When he does he catches a brief glimpse of a tall, dark-robed man speaking with a rust colored dragonborn before they move out of sight on the platform high above him. He overhears the robed man telling the dragonborn that the siege of Overlook will begin in one day and it will also end in one day if he can get the temple open to bring his troops through.

Thornside sneaks up the stairs to the platform to take a look around and finds a huge room, the reliquary of the temple. It has stairs climbing to a platform in the center and a giant crystal platform that is suspended above several rooms built in the reliquary. Scattered about the reliquary are some trolls, dragonborn and several human thugs that look like the Lost Ones from Overlook.

He returns to the rest of the group and tells them what he saw. They devise a plane where the group goes back to the trap door in the vault which they presume will lead to this room. Thornside and Xaladin are going to sneak up the stairs, shout out “For Hethralga” and take quick shots at the people in the room before running full speed back to the trap door.

As they are sneaking up the stairs the rust colored dragonborn paces across the platform and sees them just below. Thornside jumps up, shouts, “For Hethralga” and shoots him with a crossbow. The shot throws him from the platform. Xaladin also shoots at dart at one of the trolls and they both run.

When they get to the trap door the party descends the spiral staircase and follows a narrow, dark passage to the north that leads to another spiral staircase going up. It emerges underneath one of the statues of Moradin in the corner of the reliquary. When they check there is a great deal of draconic swearing coming from the other side of the room and a troll picking his nose not far away. They can’t see much of the room from this vantage point so they decide to wait a minute and check again. Things look the same so they emerge and the troll bellows a warning to the rest of the room.

The resulting fight is over quickly as the Bear Claws find that the enemy is too spread out to present too much of a threat. There is one temple construct that Jak is very curious about that proves painful for him. They search the rooms and find some treasures but mostly destroyed and abandoned places.

In one corner of the reliquary is a small building that resembles a house. Inside, in the bedroom, they find a room with a carpet that is crunchy with dried blood and a dwarf tied to the bed, his skin metallic copper colored, his eyes shifting madly and his hair and beard made of bright red flames.

Jake cuts him free while James starts healing him of his wounds. The Caretaker shakes and snaps at them, his sanity obviously gone. James performs a Remove Affliction ritual to restore his sanity while Roland keeps him calm by talking to him soothingly.

When his sanity is returned the Caretaker tells them that he has been tortured because the General wanted control of the defenses of the Mountainroot Temple. Now that his sanity is returned he has released the entrances and they are all open. The General — whom Thornside saw speaking to the dragonborn — has already fled. At the behest of the Bear Claws he sends some of his constructs to chase the fey creatures out of the temple and seals all the entrances so that nobody can enter.

He tells them they may take the Incanabulum Primeval with them if they will promise to give it to Brak for safekeeping.

He asks them, before they go, if they will spend some time and money to help him cleanse the temple via ritual to restore its consecration to Moradin after all this bloodshed.

They agree and after the ritual they carry several of the more interesting bodies with them to sell to Rufus Cromley.

When they emerge from the portal they find the Stone Anvil completely deserted. Stowing the bodies they brought they emerge to find a troop of guards waiting for them. The captain tells them the Council of Overlook needs them right away.

After assuaging their mistrust the guards lead them to Caer Overlook, the keep at the center of the city. Inside they enter a great hall with a raised dais where there is a large table and three of the members of the city Council of Elders, Elder Caddrick, Elder Morgroth and Elder Ironfell. Ironfell doesn’t seem pleased to meet them and admits that Bram is her cousin.

She claims that is not her reason for mistrusting them. It is because they are mercenaries and vigilantes who get involved in things they don’t understand. She’s not above accepting their help in saving the city from siege, though.

The Council was discussing ways to keep the city safe, should the Bear Claws fail and an army came in through the Stone Anvil. Now, with this news they change their council theme to preparations for the siege. Brak, Kalad and Emil join in and the group is shown a large 3D map of Overlook and they spend the rest of the day making plans to help the troops and others prepare the defenses of the city.

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32. They've Got a Cave Troll
In the Dungeon

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Xaladin
Level: 9
Location: Mountainroot Temple
NPCs:

The Bear Claws move into the Cathedral of the Mountainroot Temple. It is a giant room that is larger than many of the castles they have seen. With a towering ceiling and long sloping ramps there are entire fortresses that could be built inside it.

They see several fey creatures hiding in the room and one, a feydark dwarf approaches them. They tell him they are looking for Hethralga and he starts to talk to them but just then there is a pounding on the door at the far end of the chamber and a large two-headed troll lumbers in.

Thinking they are betrayed the fey creatures attack the Bear Claws and the Trolls. The Bear Claws quickly persuade the party that they are there to help and they should team up against the trolls. The fight is long and bloody leaving many wounds and many of the fey quicklings dead.

Finding themselves too exhausted to continue they move back to the living chambers and set up a camp to rest. After about six hours Xaladin — who is taking watch — wakes them and they head off into the shattered barracks to confront Hethralga.

Hethralga is surrounded by Cyclops guards and carrying a large pack on her back. Xaladin, James and Jak approach her, Xaladin in the form of a Cyclops. They convince her they are there to help, and she offers to give them the Incanabulum Primeval as advance payment if they can free the Caretaker and let her get home.

As they are talking an earthquake starts and the ceiling begins to crumble. The Bear Claws flee, shoring up the falling rock behind them with arcane and natural magics. When the quake stops the barracks are sealed and inaccessible, many more of Hethralgas helpers are dead but the Bear Claws are safe.

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31. Getting Back to Our Roots

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 8/9
Location: Overlook, Mountainroot Temple
NPCs: Brak

The Bear Claws question the doppelgänger that impersonated Brak. He tells them that he is being paid for the work and is willing to cooperate if they won’t kill him. He tells them where the real Brak is being held and they let him go.

They find a secret trapdoor inside a crate in the back corner of the warehouse with a ladder leading down into a dank and moldy passageway. At the end of the tunnel is a steel door to a cell that holds Brak. He is bruised and bloodied and chained to the wall. Set in the ceiling of his cell is a trap set to kill him if they open the door.

Between Thornside and Jak they are able to disable the traps and free Brak.

While they rest and James tends to his wounds Brak tells them what is going on, as much as he has figured out from the questioning.

Hidden beneath the mountains is the Mountainroot Temple. A place built long ago as a place for all Moradin worshippers to come together. An earthquake damaged it and the priests and clerics abandoned it. Recently it has been reopened.

General Zithiruun wants to know about the Temple and how it works, specifically how to use the portals in it. One of the portals lies within the Stone Anvil temple in Overlook. Brak guesses that Zithiruun wants to use the temple to infiltrate troops into the city.

Of more concern to Brak is the Incanabulum Primeval, the book that contains the ritual of creation that Moradin used to create the world. It is hidden inside the Mountainroot Temple. If it is found by the wrong hands it could be used to unmake the world. He offers them payment if they will bring it safely to him.

He also tells them that the possessed citizens are dead. They are being controlled by Githyanki Mindbenders. When the Githyanki take control of a person the soul is completely pushed aside.

The Bear Claws decide to rest for the night — having traveled all day before finding Brak — and pawn off their acquired treasures. Thornside stays behind to sabotage the vast warehouse of Elsir Consortium goods.

Alton inters Miranda’s body in the temple of Avandra mourning her passing.

Brak leads them to the Stone Anvil and to a treasury room where he equips them items that he thinks will help them in the Mountainroot Temple.

He shows them the crypt leading tot he entrance but tells them he cannot go with them because he has made a vow not to enter the crypt.

At the end of the crypt is a silver filigree of Moradin at his forge. He asks for a parable or fable that shows understanding of his teachings in order to pass. James knows what Moradin teaches but refuses to put forth a story.

Thornside tries to talk to the filigree but Roland steps in and gives a story about a fox a crow and a piece of cheese. The filigree asks for explanation and tells them they must fight some animated chains in order to enter.

Once they defeat the chains the filigree parts and reveals two large doors. Jak opens them and they step through into another room that is in another place. There is no feeling of moving or sensation of magic about the portal.

Inside the room are many other doors and several fey creatures, including some dwarf-looking people and a couple harpies. One of the harpies talks to them and Roland tells him that they are looking for some harpies to take care of Thornside’s baby harpy — named Jerry.

They don’t really believe but Roland smoothly talks them into letting the Bear Claws explore as long as they promise not to hurt the other fey creatures.

They begin to explore and find a tea room, and a secret door leading to what was once a vault. The vault seems to be cleared out and is occupied by a couple more harpies and a few quicklings that try not to be seen.

The Bear Claws speak with them briefly then move on to a dining hall where they find some recently killed quicklings. A short Speak with Dead ritual grants them two questions and they learn that the quicklings were killed by trolls that were under the command of the general with braces.

Beyond the dining room is a kitchen and a small area with a forge where the traps of the temple seem to be very active. A radiant tendril of light blinds several party members before they deactivate the trap then they get attacked by charging anvils with legs. The anvils charge them through the walls, knocking prone anything they hit.

Jak manages to get knocked down by the anvils and can’t seem to hit them.

When the rest of the party finishes them off they explore the rest of the area, finding some living quarters that look to have been in use recently by half a dozen dwarves.

Retracing their steps they return to the hallway just beyond the chamber of doors to explore the area to the north of that.

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30. The World is a Mess
And I just need to rule it.

Characters: Alton, Jak, James, Thornside, Roland, Xaladin
Level: 8
Location: Overlook
NPCs: Miranda, Aerun, Kalad, Emil, Brak, Megan Swiftblade, Sylen Leafrunner, Ancestor Karros, Murrik Ironfell, Ruth and Rory Teng, Lavinya
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The Bear Claws have a discussion with Amyria about religion and Bahamut and philosophy. Alton has some ideas that confuse her because she is not philosophical. She tells Jak she has seen his weapon before, it was once wielded by a great warrior of Arkhosia.

Upon entering the city the Bear Claws meet Emil, practicing his intimidation techniques. Roland gives him some pointers on bluffing which he is a little confused about.

Amyria heads for the temple of Bahamut.

Roland, Xaladin and Thornside go to Rufus’ tower to sell him their gnoll bodies. He pays them and shows them the progress he has made on the table he promised them.

Jak goes to speak with Aerun and he finds Aerun acting strange. James has the same experience with Brak only he can tell that the person he is talking to is not Brak but is a doppelgänger.

Alton speaks to Ruth and she asks for advice on how to host a half long wedding, Emil has asked her and Rory to host. While they talk food choices the rest of the group returns. Thornside’s bag begins moving and he rushes to his room and dumps it out. There he finds a hatched baby harpy. Xaladin comes in and tells him about how harpies are hatched, and what they eat. Jak tries to take away the bag of holding but Thornside takes his bag, his harpy and flees through the window.

Thornside goes to Aerun to ask for advice but Aerun doesn’t seem to know who he is or listen to his complaints.

Meanwhile, Lavinya, priestess of Erathis comes and wishes to speak privately with the Bear Claws. She tells them her friend Haelyn has disappeared and she is suspicious. She has noticed that all the clergy is acting strange.

At this news Alton, Jak and Roland run out the door.

James and Xaladin listen to the rest of what Lavinya has to say. She thinks something is wrong in Overlook and wants the Bear Claws to look into it.

At the temple of Avandra Alton approaches Miranda, who doesn’t seem to know him. She acts different and doesn’t seem interested in any of the philosophical discussions her and Alton have had in the past. Alton senses another presence from her.

Back at the inn the Bear Claws discuss a plan. Thornside goes to Brak’s apartment to look for clues about how to find him. James and Jak go this office at the temple in hopes of finding him. Alton, Roland and Xaladin go to the old Temple of Moradin in the Nine Bells to see if he is there.

Thornside finds an empty apartment and a crumpled note about a prisoner that won’t talk.

James and Jak search Brak’s office but find nothing amiss. A priest tells them he went to check on the status of the update to the old temple I the Nine Bells.

Alton, Roland and Xaladin encounter Megan and Sylen guarding the door to the old temple. An angry worker shouts invective at them and mentions that he thinks they murdered his uncle Bram. There is a brief scuffle and Ancestor Karros breaks it up and tells them that Brak already left, but that he meets Aerun each night.

The Bear Claws decide to go to Aerun’s office at the Hall of Justice to confront their two friends about their weird behavior. They get there to find Aerun already gone but the receptionist says they can catch him if they hurry out the side entrance.

They follow Aerun across town to the Pig and Bucket. Roland and Alton go inside and overhear Aerun and Brak discussing a prisoner that won’t talk. Aerun insists on doing some questioning himself and the two leave.

The Bear Claws follow them to a warehouse and charge inside after them. A fight ensues and the Bear Claws quickly subdue those inside. Thornside shoots Aerun and knocks him through a window where he falls twenty feet, dead on impact. The Brak doppelgänger and Miranda are knocked unconscious so the Bear Claws can question them later.

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