, , ,

Across Ithron there have been appearances of strange men shaped of metal and stone who move with an unknown will. The Thane’s advisor McTavish calls for brave adventurers to put an end to the workings of the Mithrans and their automata in Berwickshire, by entering the tunnel network at the village of Southington aka Ember. These strange tunnels have not been mapped by Berwickshire Scouts. Who knows what lies beneath?

The adventurers who answered the call were:

  • Ranger Kestrel of the Scouts Guild; Ranger Wulfric Nolastname and Ranger Finn of the Berwickshire Medium;
  • Roger the Blacksmith;
  • Dr Krom Goodfellow of the Guild of Physicians;
  • Master Ash Stocktown of the Alchemists Guild;
  • Albrecht Crowe of the School of Enchantment;
  • Errant Vincent Savage of the Feudal Order of the Stag;
  • High Mother Anne Turner of Longstor; High Father Andre of Rolbor; Novice Brigit Wooller of Crowa;

The group gathered at the village of Southington, now known as Ember by the Dwarves who have taken refuge there after the Dwarven kingdom of Dun Mhurdo was overrun by Foulspawn. In preparing a new mine the Dwarves had broken into a set of tunnels beneath the county from which automata had appeared. Adventurers had previously helped to secure the newly sunk shaft and helped repair the lift, had found a source of the automata near the lands of Baron Pendrake, and another tunnel in the mountains on the western side of the county. Of these three entrances the one at Ember seems to be the best option, and so they gathered and prepared to go down underground.

They passed a group of Dwarves who had been standing guard, who told them that a group of men in green and gold had come through earlier but had caused no trouble. Warned that the Mithrans had been sighted in the area, they pressed on towards the mine shaft, stumbling into a scarecrow ambush. A group of Auklish Militia, led by the brother of the dead Baronet Auklish, came looking for those who had killed his brother Richard Sharpe. After putting him down, the group pressed on, heading for the Dwarven mine shaft. The dwarf on duty was jumped by more Scarecrows, and the party were hurried onto the lift. As they began to be lowered into the shaft there was the sound of a scuffle, a cry from the dwarf and the lift suddenly began to speed up. Automata dropped onto the platform from above as the body of the dwarf hit the platform and the party were stuck in confined quarters fighting the metal men in amongst them.

They hit the bottom with a thud, and after Roger had examined the rope and found a possible way out, they continued on. But the wide tunnel was not safe –  a trap was triggered and automata burst from a hidden door in the wall of the tunnel. Progressing more carefully they navigated pitfalls and cracks and other “oddities” in the tunnel, fighting off automata, until they came to a crossroads where a group of people were loitering. Urged on by a man spouting the Mithran heresy they attacked the party. After defending themselves the adventurers were able to back the leader of this little group up a side passage where they found a noxious bottle rigged to emit gas through vents into a shrine above. Working to disarm it the rest of the party kept watch on the tunnels ahead – fighting more mithrans and figuring out that they would have to negotiate some pipes of steam that were likely connected to the forge. After disarming the bottle and recovering a document, the adventurers continued on. Fighting more automata and Mithrans and finding a map of the tunnel system they were able to choose one of two paths.

The scouts decided it would be best to avoid the well used passageways but were wary of the incomplete section of tunnel on the map – it could lead to a dead end and waste valuable time – but there was a chance it was the safer option. But travelling up the path they came upon a statue of warrior and the experienced adventurers realised they may have chosen the wrong path. Taking bits of equipment from the statues – vials, coins – they deduced they were likely to face a Medusa. Sharing what knowledge they had to such creatures gave a grim impression. Someone would have to be willing to fight such a beast, ideally two. Volunteers were sought – and High Father Andre and Brigit prepared themselves. Advancing up the path with their shields raised, the group worked their way through the petrified warriors who had clearly faced this monster. Trapped, with no hope, their future looked bleak. And to cap it all there were live snakes in the tunnel. With a hissing sound one crossed Brigit’s boot and she swallowed a shriek. Kestrel tried to convince her it was harmless, but she was eager to leave the tunnel, warily looking around to see if she could spot any more.

As they entered a cavern they expected to meet the creature, but instead were faced with a group of undead with their Roden master. As they fought off the skeletons and the zombies they were focused on their foe when suddenly people froze in place. The Medusa! Raising her shield, Brigit turned to peer about her and listen for the creature. Finn was still talking and stopped and Brigit followed where her gaze had gone. A brief glimpse of a halo of snakes made her block out the rest with her shield and she shuffled forward, looking for a pair of unfamiliar boots. A longsword wavered into view and she dodged the blow, stepping forward to slash at the monster with her ensorcelled short sword. The blood dripping on the blade began to hiss and Brigit prayed to her Lady for her strength before pressing on in the attack. Andre flanked the monster and the pair slew the creature, breaking its hold on the rest of their party. With the undead smashed, the remaining zombies were ended with the sizzling sharpened blades before the blood shattered the weapons leaving only broken pommels in their hands.

So on they went. Another ambush by automata, an interesting puzzle for the doctor, blacksmith and mage to examine, before coming to a great fog hanging in the tunnel. A small bucket with cloths gave them the hint that the tunnel was dangerous. Brigit and Kestrel braved it first, then Kestrel returned with Brigit’s rag for others to use and dip handkerchiefs into the bucket the navigate the danger.

As they descended down the tunnels the temperature rose and became stifling, a river of magma bubbling below a stone bridge. Kestrel and Roger pressed ahead of the others, eager to reach the other side. There was a cracking sound as    bridge broke apart, tumbling the unfortunate pair onto a small mound of rubble amid the firey river. The party surged towards the edge, trying to reach their companions but they were out of reach. But never fear – the Rolborian has a trick up his sleeve. His prized hammer at a word began to extend and grow – the head providing a stable footing for Krom as the others grabbed the haft and levered him up the to bridge. But the small island of rock was destablised and Roger was splashed with lava and set aflame. Again the team scooped him up with the giant hammer to deposit him on the bridge. He began to roll as others tried to pat out the flame and together they were able to extinguish him before he lost conciousness. Brigit and Krom began to bandage and soothe the charred flesh before carrying him away from the edge of the bridge so Krom could take his time to administer to his patient. Drugging him with painkillers, the doctor woke him up and checked him over whilst the scouts sought an alternative route. Finding a smaller bridge further downstream the party were able to cross safely and enter the next cavern.

Before them were uncountable ranks of automata, silent and still in the gloom. To finish off this army would hamper any planned attack against the county and the party were of a mind to do as much damage as they could. Only problem was, how? After deciding it would be better to sneak past the automata to get to the far side, rather than risk awakening them or blocking their way to their objective, the party began their passage through the cavern. The wall at the edge of the cavern curved and there was a space between the automata and the wall through which the adventurers could pass. Walking single file, pressing back against the stone and shuffling along, they crept through the silent ranks, trying to avoid bumping any of the statues or knocking weapons against them. There were several moments where Brigit had to carefully maneuver her staff and the spear she was carrying to avoid great weapons or poised figures. She breathed a great sigh of relief when they reached the other side and Albrecht, Roger and Andre surveyed the situation. There was a great column rising from the floor to the ceiling and the chance that breaking this would bring down the roof. However, how close was the forge and would bringing down the roof alert the Mithrans to their presence?

High Father Andre decided it was wide to have a look – and cast the ritual of Foretell Future so that Finn could go watch the building across the river of magma to see if an alarm was raised when they brought down the roof. Albrecht shattered the pillar and set an automata to hew away at the base. Cracks spiderwebbed across the surface and across the roof and blocks began to rain down on the automata. As the roof began to come down the adventurers ran for it and caught up with the scouts who were crouched by the bridge. Surprised, they asked if the deed had been done, and the party congratulated themselves on a job well done thus far … but there were people across the bridge …

They advanced upon the storeroom and fought the Mithrans guarding it before Albrecht and co took the mage to one side – but not after he had cast an obey upon Kestrel. Having been run through the elf was tended to by the doctor who proceeded to wake him carefully – but not carefully enough as the obeyed elf tried to bite him. Brigit knocked him out again and the pair shared a nervous laugh before leaving the elf unconscious on the floor. A group within the store room, using a set of instructions they had picked up earlier, set about making some acid to break into a “panic room”, whilst others tried to get information out of the mage or keep watch. The mage was uncooperative and was killed – much to Brigit’s horror and disgust as the severed head was shown to her (nausea!). So when a man came wandering in muttering nonsense, Brigit was concerned for his safety. The others terrified him such that he fainted as they waved bloodied knives in his face, so Brigit tried a different tactic to try and assist those inside the store room. Disarming herself she attempted to put the man at ease, but seeing the symbol around her neck terrified him. She was able to get a little information out of him but the adventurers were able to get into the panic room and went after the overseer. To keep the Mithran alchemist from harm, Brigit knocked him out and hurried after her party, but she missed the fight atop the stair.

But destroying the cavern had weakened the surrounding rock and debris was soon cascading into the river, leading to lava lapping at the stones and cracks spreading over their heads. Fleeing the debris Brigit remembered the unconcious man, whom she had rendered defenceless, and she turned on her heel to drag him out of harms way. Aided by Errant Savage they were able to drag the man at the leading edge of the cascade of debris until Krom could rouse him. Then Finn’s bandage fell off her leg and she was half dragged half carried until someone could give her a heal limb on the run as they ran through the collapsing tunnels. Reaching a sturdy rockface the party threw themselves behind it and Brigit paused to catch her gasping breaths, to watch as dust and rock skittered to a halt around her ankles. Mercifully it seemed they were safe.

Passing along a tunnel Albrecht turned an automata to his will and they entered the Forge where they fought against automata and their controller, had weapons destroyed in the conflict and were victorious at the near deaths of many of the company. As Krom dashed around patching and woundworting the worst of the wounds, Brigit was roused and joined in his effort to save the company once the battle was won and the adventurers were much relieved to find another tunnel out of the workshop. Safely back above ground, they headed back to their hirer with a report on what had happened.

Have they stopped the flow of automata through Berwickshire? Have they made some dent in the Mithrans’ evil pl