Session 4: Sif’s No Good, Very Bad Day
Rorin’s journal led us to the burnt church, which Katrezra saw as a place of evil churning beneath the ashes. There, we found Rorin’s missing Hopeknife beside the initials R&B, carved into a shelf. We defeat giant bugs, rats, and experiencing the haunting imagery of plague victims so weak that they burned to death in their very beds. We learned what a gelatinous cube is (Note to self: do not ever let one engulf you again. Ever.). We found the missing boy (Ofthen) from the Barter stones. We are still below the burnt church in a series of well-crafted tunnels. The room in which we stand once had statues, but now it features broken stone, a hole in the ceiling, and another one in the wall – heading towards Trunau.
I have no idea why lovers would ever come here. Not even on a dare. Tiva is most adamant that the burnt church wasn’t always so full of giant bugs and giant rats, and that no one ever goes into The Room. She then protests her innocence and refuses to explain how she’d know all of this.
We have no clue what “Skree” means, and the morning is far from over.
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Starday, 18th of Gozrun 471 (continued)
The blast tunnel is some 15’ deep. From the darkness, two mangy rats run out. One bites Sif while the other bites Tiva – both in the ankle. The rats appear and disappear as they move, not just darting among the debris on the floor but actually traversing through the debris; the rats are surrounded by shadows that move of their own accord. They are ghosts that can bite, and their bite leaves both ladies badly shaken.
Tiva attacks with a vengeance, but her giant axe blade goes right through it, doing it no harm. Sif’s axe butt finds the creature as it scurries among the rocks, but she can’t seem to do it any harm either. Torva intones a quick prayer for her own protection. Seamus utters arcane words and throws a ball of liquid at the mangy rats, but his ball splatters and makes the rocks sizzle without connecting with the rats.
Beauxite looks on, but does nothing and I am blocked from the rats by my friends. Of all the things to come out of the darkness, this was not what I was expecting!
Tiva and Sif step back to give the rest of us more room. Ofthen, the boy in the hall, throws in the torch at Sif’s request. It clatters between Tiva and Torva, barely making half the distance required. I yell and my weapon glows as it is infused with the power from the earth upon which I stand. I slam my Lucerne hammer down on the rat, shattering its spine. The shadows around the rat disperse and the rotting rat corpse remains.
Torva calls upon Torag to bless her weapon while Seamus continues to conjure up and throw balls of acid. As he looks up, he sees something moving down from the beams towards Sif; at his warning she looks up as it drops on her. She manages to deflect it with her axe, then follows up with a swing. She misses.
Tiva picks up the torch and tries to brain the rat that just missed biting her again.
Seeing the insect intent on Sif, I move in and take a swing. I hit the spider off Sif and into the wall. Sif shifts her grip on the axe and swings wildly over her shoulder, just barely able to lift her axe. She pulls her axe back but the (now dead) spider is still attached. She proceeds to slam the axe repeatedly into the wall until the spider splits in two and slowly peels off her axe.
The rat scurries around, and after everyone else seems to miss hitting it, gets bold enough to scurry into and up the wall. Tiva tries to bash the rat with the torch. She misses exclaiming “I’m too sober for this!”
I’m further back and have given up trying to strike the ghost rat. As I watch, I see another oversized spider before it can move into attack. When I pull my polearm free however, the spider dies and falls from the ceiling, striking Sif! Sif dances out of the way and then cleaves into it on general principles.
After a massive number of attacks, Torva strikes the rat once, and the shadows disperse from the rotting corpse.
Torva and I put our heads together. As best we can guess, these ghost rats were created when dead rats were infused with negative or necromatic energy. Looking down at the necromancer’s corpse, we can only guess at his intents, but I have to wonder if the rats killed him when he slept here; or perhaps just finished him off after the blast.
As to the tunnel, Seamus knows of some spells that affect solid rock and they are all pretty powerful. None of those spells would create such a hole as the spell’s results would be far cleaner. There’s not much in the way of fire damage. I strongly doubt this was excavated. This must be the result of a series of explosions, maybe 3-4 in total. There are mining tools among the debris. Torva notices that the tools all bear the makers marks of Blackhammer hall.
We head through the last door way but stop when Tiva notices the floor’s flagstones around the corner are not stone. Something’s been painted to look like stone though. From a safe distance away, she sets off three bear traps that were hidden under the plaster. We elect to go back the way we have come.
The bookshelf in the central room has mostly books destroyed by insect infestation and rot. The chest seems newer than the bookshelf and in better repair. It is stocked with the following:
- A small jar of something.
- Two flasks of something else.
- 50’ coil of silk rope.
- A small wooden case, inside which is some make up, glue, a little mirror, and some wigs (a disguise kit with six uses remaining).
- There’s a fine leather satchel with lock picks inside.
- There’s a set of fine clothes (a noble’s outfit in human sized).
- A signet ring made of gold. The symbol is a mountain with a cleft in it.<
- 237gp, 155sp, 55cp,
- A Hopeknife of dwarven manufacturer. It looks like the ones Tiva and Torva are wearing.
Tiva recognizes the Hopeknife as belonging to her younger brother Thori. Tiva gave him her Hopeknife to calm him. She promises to return his Hopeknife to him, but can’t figure out how it got here. I think she avoided my gaze after that, it would seem that Rorin wasn’t the only one that didn’t feel deeply about the Hopeknife. To save Torva took this piece of information well, well – that would be a lie. But, ever focused on the task at hand, she put it all aside for now. Still, her brow became chiseled and her face was more a mask of stone than my own!
We gather up what we can, take the chest, and head back to home.
Outside at last, the day is warming. The sun feels incredible after so long in the darkness. As we come back in through the gate, we notice there are a few extra guards than when we left. It would seem that Carson has called out the reserves.
We stumble back to the Blackhammer hall where everyone but I bed down for some much needed rest.
About 1/2 dozen priests and acolytes along with the curious and the parents all gather around Tiva and Torva. As they tend Torva, she starts to feel crappy. She is diagnosed with filth fever from the dog bites of yesterday.
The younger cousins are fascinated by Tiva and Torva’s story, but they are shooed away. And the higher-ups in the clan discuss what is going on and what to do, including the Patriarch Mjothar and his mother, Agrit.
In the Ivory Hall, in Chief Defender’s Halgra’s study, I give a general report on what we found in the plague house, and most importantly described the blast tunnel. The plague house (and the pit) are less than 170’ from Halgra’s back window. This doesn’t sit well with her.
After the report, I head home to wash. There, I finds my clothes are very easy to rip. All my armour’s straps need replacing. It would seem that the acid from the gelatinous cube has caused them damage. My skin is slightly crusty to the touch. Has the acid etched that as well? I bath and redress in new cloths. I restring my armour as I eat.
Once refreshed, I take an observation over Rorin; my time with the priesthood must be repaid with service, and after all – it is my honor to stand watch over him.
The rest of the day passes quietly.
Sunday, 19th of Gozrun 471
The rest did us all good.
Torva and Tiva are interrupted in their discussions when their father enters their room. He heals his daughter of the last of her sickness before departing to do the same for Sif. He asks we meet the clan’s senior members in the armory.
Tiva and Torva are kind enough to collect the rest of us.
Downstairs we see ½ a dozen people that make up the ruling council of the Blackhammer hall. Patriarch Mjothar takes the lead. He is a venerable dwarf, but younger than Agrit. They have been discussing current events. Rorin’s death combined with the wanton attack on us in the streets, has left them worried. They acknowledge us as defenders of the town and of the clan. They have grown concerned for our welfare. The clan can ill afford to loose any member. To that end they want to equip us more appropriately so we will remain safe and return from our adventures.
Dar presents Torva with the Family chain. The rest of us are allowed into the vaults to pick and choose from the myriad of masterwork weapons stored beneath Blackhammer hall. I admit to feeling overwhelmed when I see the works of the great masters of our past and present ornamenting the halls. The lantern light glints and glitters off the well-oiled metals and shafts of weapons both familiar and new to me.
The elders of Blackhammer hall have been speaking to the Steelskin clan. They’d like to have us outfitted with more appropriate armour, but it will take some time to prepare. Torva and I ask for Full Plate. Mjorthar opens one of the many doors and hangs up a lantern. There are suits to kit out 200 heavy infantrymen in this one room alone. He suggests the Steelskin clan will craft our armours to fit us perfectly. Torva and Sif elect for something lighter, while Shamus dithers.
We depart with our masterwork weapons and promises of armour. It is truly a nameday beyond namedays! I hold in my hand something more valuable than I have ever owned. We all select two weapons and ask for specialized things like silver short swords and cold iron weapons; knowing that after dealing with the bizarreness of ghost rats can other creatures of lore be truly far behind?
Over breakfast we learn that there are more white crosses painted about the town; one is by the Hope spring and one on the grounds in the commons. No one saw who put up the new crosses, but the old crosses glow red to a dwarf’s vision when the light fades.
The warm turn in the weather seems to have caused a thick fog; reducing visibility to 70-80’.
Tiva leads us to the longhouse to meet up with Carsen. She gives a report and he brings us up to date with what he’s gathered: he’s been trying to bring in more forces for the militia and bring everything back in line, but the disarray from Rorin’s death is still prevalent. Omast Frum is no longer drunk. It would seem Griffin/Ackrin has gone to ground this past week. The other ½ orcs also seem to be missing (Sarah Morninghawlk’s apprentice Urnsel as well as Melira).
After the report, Torva and I head to Sanctuary to return the money we found in the haunted hall of the old church. It is a somber moment, but the priestess is grateful and hope our actions will give the souls of the restless dead some peace.
Tiva speaks to the prisoners one last time to try and convince them to tell on Griffin. But the time comes without any new information. The prisoners are loaded up and there’s quite a turn out. Halgra has arranged a good parade route, giving the chance for the locals to show how they feel about such infiltrators and would-be assassins. The prisoners are bound to a post in the cart, and the locals pelt them with vegetable matter. We walk beside the cart.
The parade makes it way through town, down the slope, then back up and finally up to the commons where a scaffold has been erected. As they are led out of the cart and marched up to the chopping block. Halgra comes up and waves for everyone to quiet down.
She tells us that these men are outsiders who infiltrate our town and sought to assassinate our defenders. They’ve been found guilty of attempted assassination.
Jarin is in the crowd. He seems to have aged 50 years. Carsen is with him and seems calm, at least. The executioner, unmasked, is Halgra herself. She unsheathes her blackened blades. After speaking quietly with the prisoner, she stands and cuts off his head with a single blow. The second looks out at us all with contempt, but dies just as quickly beneath Halgra’s blackened blades.
A cheer erupts from the crowd once both men are dead. The bodies and the baskets containing their heads are put back in the cart, and they’re brought over to the Flame of the Fallen (next to the Longhouse) for cremation. They are burned on a separate bier from Rorin. After the prisoner’s bier is burning well, all eyes turn to the wrapped form of Rorin. Prayers are said, and then the bier is reverently set on fire.
During the mingling, after the ceremony we learn that Carsen has some of the militia trying to clean off the white crosses. It’s pretty slow going. Most of the locals assume that the crosses are some kind of curse or a condemnation.
We speak to Dar Hollowfell, and he agrees to help us speak to the dead 1/2 orc we found, but we’ll have to bring the body back into town. We agree to try and organize it on the morrow.
Tiva tries to discern more information about Morninghawlk’s apprentice. She learns only that the town is slowly turning against the 1/2 orcs.
We are asked to be pall bearers for Rorin. We gather the body from the Iron works, hefting him up. We follow the procession of priests that are leading a small army of dwarves to the Flame of the Fallen. Militia men and townsfolk fall into place behind us. Others are standing in doorways and watching as the procession goes by.
Just before sunset, the fog is very thick. Brinya is in the crowd. Unfortunately, Jarin sees her. If looks could kill, she’d be bursting into flames. When she notices, her face already puffy and tear streaked, she is defiant briefly, but she lets it fall and returns to weeping.
Lis Hallowforge leads the funeral. She speaks of Rorin and the memory of him, that he was our voice. And it has now grown quiet. He will be missed and we shall remember him. Finally, she lights the bier and it catches slowly. She pulls out Rorin’s Hopeknife and plunges the blade into the fire, where it starts to blacken.
When it’s later removed from the flames, Jarin refuses the knife, but Carsen accepts it; but then he walks over and presents it to Brinya. Many dwarves are appalled. Brinya accepts it without a word. The cloth shroud around Rorin catches fire and the body begins to burn. Brinya’s tears wash over the blackened blade as she watches her lover consumed by the fire.
The Hopeknife’s blade is illuminant in the dying light of this foggy and smoke-filled night. As the body continues to burn, some of the dwarves form into a choir and start chanting.
A gem on he ground attracts my attention, and it moves away as I reach down for it. When I call to Shamus to ask him what it is. It moved away and says “It speaks” in Terran. The gem then disappeared below the ground and I can find nothing like it for the rest of the night. Shamus has no clue what it was, having not seen it; near the end of the night, I’m not even sure of the memory.
At one point Halgra speaks to Carsen, and they both seem stressed. Tiva goes to talk to them. Halgra dispatched the scouts this morning for a long patrol, and they haven’t returned yet. It’s making her anxious. She hopes they decided to camp overnight due to the fog.
As the sun sets and darkness gathers, the cross in the commons area glows a dull red.
Much later we hear drumming coming from the centre of town. There’s a whistling noise followed by an explosion. Whatever it is, something seems to have landed in the inner quarter and we can see a glow of fire. As we run to it we hear another whistling followed by an explosion.
Trunau is under attack!