Saturday was another night site for Newcastle Fools and Heroes, a mission into The Pit in Dun Mhurdo, the ominous sounding name that had players and monsters wondering what the refs had planned for us. A gorgeous clear night, sky sprinkled with stars, the temperature decidedly nippy, a good night for adventuring into the dark tunnels of the Dun Mhurdo dwarves.
The adventurers were called together by Magistrate Lorik, a stern man who got straight to point after wining and dining certain members of the party. A treaty between the elves and dwarves, something many years in the making, was at risk of failing before the treaty was completed due a number of factions within the politics of Dun Mhurdo and the recent alliance of elves and dwarves in the call to arms for Llaminusia. The party was hired to assist in the completion of the treaty and to appease a particular faction known as the Dun Mhan Clan. But, our task would not be easy. We were to enter a place known as The Pit, a name that filled one particular inexperienced scout with dread.
We travelled by merchant cart to Carlech and then on north east through the mountains to the dwarven stronghold of Dun Mhurdo, where we were joined by two adventurers who had journeyed ahead of us. And then, with the help of a dwarven tunnel scout, we began our descent into The Pit.
Those who were amongst the party are as follows: Ithilden Prince of the Rowanwood – also known as Defender Finwe of the faith of Longstor, Mother Anne Turner of Longstor, Primate Douglas Davison of Rolbor, Novice Benedict DePiercy of Crowa, High Guildsman Johnny Test the Mage, Surgeon General Georgina Herald and Guild Protector Brigadier Marvolo “Stitch” Crippen of the Physicians’ Guild, Master Alchemist Ethan Fairbrass of the Newcroft Guild and Woodsman Rowan Tait of Amblevale the borderlands scout.
We began to make our way along the tunnels, the scouts at the front followed by a rank of shields and a secondary rank of fighters with the physicians and mages hovering at the back to be drawn into the centre of the group should we be flanked. As we made our way cautiously through the dark, we came across a number of hobgoblins aka foul spawn aka “Grobies” who had come up from deeper down. The dwarf was concerned as the Dun Mhan Clan were tasked with keeping these tunnels clear but something was obviously up. So as we fought out way along this tunnel, advancing back and bunching up when flanked, Rowan and Finwe kept up their forays ahead. Rounding a bend, Rowan spotted a number of dwarves and advanced to a point where they could see her but not the elven scout at her side. She stood still, attempting to look as unthreatening as possible whilst the party advanced and the Crowan Priest made his way forward with the Primate of Rolbor and Ithilden to attempt to pass through the line of burly dwarves.
But, alas, they were in no mood to talk, and after coming to understand that they had been ordered by their High Father of Crowa to not let anyone past, the party agreed to combat to try to force our way through. Due to the sensitive diplomatic mission we were on and Ithilden having sworn an oath to harm no dwarves, he stepped aside and the others ploughed into combat. After patching ourselves up and having another attempt on the line of stalwart defenders, the party managed to break through. All dwarves were patched up but left unconscious and our guide got decidedly edgy and decided it was time to return with his report of the dwarven Oathmaster on the state of our party.
It took some convincing for him to give up the instructions for the Primer, the device we were to collect from the storehouse and use to wipe a name from a Pillar of Dun Mhurdo, a condition of the treaty between the elves of the Rowan Wood and the dwarves of Dun Mhurdo. But we managed to get them written down in the back of Rowan’s law book and Rowan managed to get a verbal description of the route they were to take. And on they went, scouts to the front, shields and the party behind.
Up ahead they encountered a Dragonkin Seer who advised that we deal with a group of foul spawn in the company of a white faced golem, who we let escape down some bolt hole in the ground – though not before we’d heard them mutter about some victory over a storehouse. Rowan’s heart sank, certain this was the storehouse they were supposed to be collecting the primer from and after listening to the Dragonkin Seer speak of a stone that must be allowed to sing that night, the party having been warned of an artefact that would be destroyed if read, and of a destiny and of the clouding of his vision, we marched on.
More foul spawn crept out of the rocks on our path and our party beat them back until we came upon the splitting of the ways. Rowan and Finwe scouted ahead where Finwe encountered two dwarven bodies at the foot of a bridge over a deep chasm. Calling the party up, we skirted our way across the bridge and up the steep rise to the storehouse, where Finwe spotted more of the white faced golems and called for shields to the front. The party smashed the golems to powder and brought another creature to the ground before investigating an number of boxes, pieces of paper and a strange smoky smell coming from the abandoned storehouse. As several more golems attacked and blunt weapons were called to the front (Rowan facing two alone for a time), the party discovered that the primer was gone and that the dwarves had been ordered to retreat. And gazing up at the ceiling, Rowan noticed that two large strut like pillars of stone rose up the cavern wall – one closer than the other – roughly where she would expect the first pillar to be. They had been warned about this pillar, that this pillar should not be messed with. There was a tightening in her gut at the thought and she informed Finwe as to her concerns.
With nothing left in the storehouse and the concern about what havoc could be caused with the Primer in the wrong hands, the party set off, the scouts examining a number of tracks leading away from the storehouse. Making the party wait, they crept ahead to get a better look at the tracks to see a number of figures on the road ahead. When questioned, a figure came dashing out of the bushes, running towards us as the party closed the gap between them and the scouts, then parted to let the elf come bombing through. He was grateful for us stepping in and dealing with the foul spawn on his tail, then introduced himself as a Seeker for the Rolborian Library on the coast, seeking a special tablet. As he spoke with the Rolborian Primate, Rowan and Finwe kept watch, the knot in Rowan’s gut tighted further at this stranger in their midst who seemed interested in something we had already been asked to find. Eventually, the Primate called for a discussion to be had for seeking this item and whilst this was discussed, the scouts set off to follow a drag track down the road.
More foul spawn were engaged and a wounded dwarf tended to at the crossroads, whilst Rowan and Finwe scouted the two pathways. As Rowan had suspected, the drag tracks led away from the advised route towards the first pillar and as they discussed the tracks quietly, foul spawn and golems came to scare them off. A fight ensued and Rowan angrily attacked a spell caster in their midst before being laid low. The party fought their way up the slope, running out of time to burst into an open chasm where dark figures tinkered around the base of the pillar and a white faced golem waited, still as a statue. The party hurled themselves against the saboteurs, being knocked back by the statue or feared by the beasts in their midst. The primer was on the pillar, ticking down to certain doom (as they obviously would NOT have set the primer correctly) and Ethan began to attempt to defuse the situation. Everyone cleared the area save for the physicians and repairs were made quickly to armour and shields.
Then, there was a cry from Ethan, the shout to clear the area and with a loud crack, the pillar began to fall. Those still standing dashed back in to retrieve those caught in the rock fall, patching them up and hauling them away just as rock began to fall from the ceiling, narrowly missing the exact spot that the Guild Protector had been lying in and with an almighty crash, billowing cloud of dust and avalanche of rock, the pillar came down. Coughing in the fumes, grateful to be alive, those standing were counted and we were all glad to find we had made it out alive. However, the way back was blocked and we could only go forward.
Scaring off a number of foul spawn, the physicians begged a moment to allow them to clean their growing number of dirty bandages, and the Primate of Rolbor, the elven Rolborian Seeker, Johnny Test, Mother Anne and Rowan climbed back up the slope to see if the crystal the Rolborians were hunting for had survived the cave in. As the others picked their way through the rubble, Rowan watched for signs of more falling rock until her eye alighted on a cobbled tunnel leading off the main passageway. Informing the others of her intentions, she cracked open her vial of alchemical light and crept cautiously inside. Within a few paces it was obvious the tunnel led nowhere, but her boot knocked against something on the ground and looking down, Rowan saw a small box, tucked away out of sight. Not daring to open it, she returned to the others, gave the box into the keeping of Mother Anne and informed the Rolborians of her find. When she was back on watch, the Primate of Rolbor opened the box to find the crystal contained within, and the party continued on. Creeping ahead, Rowan and Finwe stumbled upon another dwarven guard post and began to attempt to pass them by before the rest of the party came up on their heels. Diplomacy did not work, so another challenge was issued and the party were forced into battle. They were knocked down, but somehow those still standing rallied themselves and beat off their attackers to rouse the others and heal the dwarves, leaving them for their kind to find.
A large pillar was curving down the cavern wall and Rowan was sure this was the one they were seeking, so off the scouts went, seeking out the path to take them back across the cavern and to the foot of the pillar. Nothing crossed their path until they crossed another bridge and came face to face with High Father Mhan, leader of the dwarves we had encountered on our way. And behind him, rising out of the base of the pillar, was a dark stone pillar, inscribed with runes and names.
And thus began the long talk of diplomacy, which some of the party tried to circumvent by using the primer themselves, but Rowan refused to allow this treachery to occur, so took the Primer into her care and taking the task of using it upon herself. The dwarves were adamant that this tool would not be used upon the main supporting pillar of the city of Dun Mhurdo, that a crack would bring the whole city crumbling into The Pit, whilst the treaty between them and the elves could not go ahead unless a certain name was scrubbed from the pillar. The Primate of Rolbor offered to look into the future, though he did not know that Finwe and Rowan intended to use the Primer to see if it would bring down the city above. As preparations were made, Rowan ordered all those not involved across the bridge and rechecked her instructions. Then, as the ritual circle was drawn and cast, under the watchful eye of a dwarf, she climbed the steps to the base of the pillar and set about her task. She rechecked her instructions, took a deep breath and set the primer, sending up a silent prayer to the seven and her ancestors that she wasn’t going to screw up, before setting the primer at the foot of the Pillar and running for her life.
A bell rang, a subdued rumble echoed across the chasm and the Primate of Rolbor screamed in agony, blood running down his face from his eyes. The dwarves confirmed that the pillar was stable, though a chunk of rock was missing from it’s smooth face and the mission was accomplished, although the High Father wished for Douglas Davison to confirm that his vision of the future did not foresee danger or death for the citizens of Dun Mhurdo. Unfortunately, the Primate was in no fit state to do as he wished, having been drugged into a coma by the physicians who were at a loss as to how to help him – mutters of a foretell future gone wrong were passed between them and preparations were made to move out.
Except Ethan and Johnny Test had disappeared, having taken the crystal box from the Primate’s possessions. Rowan went to look for them and found them within the base of the pillar as a voice spoke softly of some long forgotten story, legend, myth, vision, prophecy, history or doom.
“And the Sun Prince came to the Dragonblooded one at night and they were wed, binding together the bloodlines”
Listening, Rowan realised Ethan had begun to read the crystal and she was reluctant to interrupt, though she could not see Johnny Test in the area. But she could hear the Guild Protector roaring for them, threatening dire consequences of them holding up the party and she felt the angry knot within uncoil. She barred his way and there was a brief shouting match between them until Rowan told him to go back to Newcroft and she would find the missing pair and bring them back alone if she had to. This seemed to be the final straw for the military minded physician who strode away in anger and the fire of anger in Rowan finally rose it’s ugly head.
She strode back to the room to drag Ethan out of the ritual but was struck by an intense feeling of pain as the vision ended and when she uncurled from the position the pain had driven her to, she ordered Ethan after her, setting a quick lick of a pace to try and find the rest of the adventurers. They caught up with them in the company of a dwarf in fine robes and a sword that looked similar to the one Finwe carried and a wolf like creature with a Longstorian pendant who gave them a passing glance but said nothing.
It seemed that the mission was a success, the deed done, the treaty set to be signed and trade routes and friendship between the Rowan Wood and Dun Mhurdo could at last tentatively resume, but something else had been brought into play, something that perhaps should have been left in the dark of The Pit of Dun Mhurdo …
Post down time during our weekly pub meet, a notice was placed in a prominent place in the marketplace – one declaring that the task of deeds had been completed and listing the names and the second declaring that Ethan Fairbrass, Johnny Test and Rowan Tait were to be grudged, their names marked in stone forever. Whilst the first two have been grudged for various reasons, Rowan Tait’s grudging was open for debate. And quick as a flash, several members of the Berwickshire adventurers vanished off the Dun Mhurdo.
After defending herself and telling of her actions on that night in The Pit, Rowan’s name has been cleared and she will not be carrying the grudge of the dwarves with her to her grave. However, for the other two …
I really enjoyed this mission, the second of my scout’s adventuring life.
Turns out that my character was the highest ranking military member of the party that evening, being a guilded member of the scouts guild. In theory I could have led the party – but that was definitely not happening!
But I had a great time listening to what Finwe had to tell me, running off scouting and actually getting to blow stuff up. Yup – something rather satisfying about that!
I can’t wait to see what’ll come up next!