BAND OF IRONS

How do you know he's the King?

As the portcullis closes behind you you can see the skyline of a squat city in a massive cave,. There is a light blue phosphorescent glow over everything, but it is still very dark, you have visibility out to about 100 feet through darkvision and the glow.

There is a massive natural cut staircase before you 30 feet wide that steps into the chamber. To your right a cut rock incline for carts to enter and exit and at its base 2 fountains shaped like mushrooms spraying water into the air.

You can see that most buildings are 30 feet high, but there are 3 natural rock towers that reach upward, most likely connecting with the ceiling with is lost above in darkness. The towers have windows cut in them lightly glowing, so you know they are hollowed out and gnomes live in them.

You can see dozens of gnomes scurrying about, wagons pulled by spiders or lizards and gnomes riding on lizards, the city is bustling with activity. All the gnomes eye you suspiciously, some stopping what they are doing to gawk at you

Off to your left is a massive tower with banners around it, it looks to be sitting on a plateau with a natural ramp rising to its human sized front entrance way and doors. Dozens of armed gnome guards dressed in chain-mail stand guard around it. It must be the palace….

The guards scrutinize your writ of passage, but you are eventually let inside. The tower is indeed hollow and you enter a oval room which looks to be most of the interior of the tower. In front of you a gnome with a long grey beard sits on a throne of polished jade. He is flanked by a couple dozen armed gnomes holding short pikes

Behind him twin staircases rise to a small balcony above the throne and then continue on to a larger balcony which rings the whole room. You can see movement up on the balcony, there are more guards up there.

Tiberious who speak the language of the deep gnomes approaches “Hail lord Greybeard” who answers “The biggest pair you’ve ever seen travelers”

Greybeard: What brings surface dwellers to my kingdom?

Tiberious answers truthfully about seeking the teleport as well as trade.

Greybeard: You are looking for the stone that controls the teleport? I do have it. It is kept secure, for that teleporter leads to a dangerous place. Why do you want it?

The party continuous truthfully then Greybeard explains that it leads to an evil place. He would not give it up but would let you use it. He woudl send a contingent of gnomes with you, they would hold the teleport spot for your return. Or meet you at predetermined time.

He explains that long ago a group of wizards created these portals to travel between the surface and the underdark, they can also move between the teleporters to get around the surface and underdark.

There were armies of evil creatures in the area that “his” teleporter leads to. The gnomes hold the stone to ensure those creatures do not get down here. But they have not used it in ages.

The party is forthcoming about their run ins with Drow Druegar and the Illithid ‘Zarlag’ and how the head of the house NOQUAR is now deceased. Greybeard has no love of the Drow and thanks you for your service, and explains the power structure in this area……

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Ahh Glimmerfell, tis' a Silly Place

The party walks for several miles inside the large cave hollowed out long ago by a river that is now just a noise of rushing water inside an aqueduct. They run into many gnomes moving this way and that and they see several smaller side passages tunneled away from the main route.

The whole of the cave has been dimly lit with phosphorescent fungi clinging to the damp cave ceiling. Everything is cast in dim blue light. Now that everyone in the party has darkvision, the combination of dim blue light and darkvision limits your vision to about 100 feet.

You are stopped several times by wandering gnome guards, who let you continue when you show them the writ of passage you hold. Now ahead of you you can see a brighter area of blue light. With a greater intensity blueish light is filling the entire tunnel.

What looked to be a solid wall of blue light is now a huge floor to ceiling portcullis, brightly glowing blue. To either side there are constructed towers built into the wall squaring off the passage so that the massive 30×30′ portcullis fills the center.

As the party nears the portcullis they see an identical setup 60 feet beyond this one and huge counter weights hanging toward the walls between the two portcullises are suspended by massive chains that run into the towers. It is clear that they can not be raised at the same time (think airlock) as you watch as travelers are let inside the middle section as one gate closes, then a minute later the other opens.

There are several gnome soldiers including 2 on lizard back who hail you ans ask to see your papers. You wait quite awhile as other gnomes gather around you and several carts as well. Eventually the guard returns your writ and the portcullis begins raising (like a garage door) and you enter the area between the two portcullises. There are several gnomes in brightly colored vests which give off a yellow glow, they hold yellow glowing rods and shout an usher your group and the other gnomes in.

You spend many minutes in the central area before the far portcullis raises. The ushering gnomes with the yellow batons are yelling and even those who don’t; speak gnome know it means “get out” There is a crowd of gnomes on the other side being held back by other usher gnomes, as your group leaves they start yelling and prodding the awaiting group inside.

You are in an IMMENSE cavern. It is all dimly lit with blue light and speckled with some brighter lights from fires and other phosphorescent glows. A huge rough cut stone staircase which looks formed from the bedrock spreads out descending before you, fanning out from 50 feet at the cave mouth to 80 feet at the base. A smooth track has been cut in it to one side for wagons.

Two large mushroom shaped fountains both looking like an erect phallus spray water at each side of the base of the stair. Many gnomes are moving this way and that and the crowd you came in with pushes past you.

There are dozens of squat buildings only seen as outlines in the dim light and several thick columns that run upward into the darkness dotted with light indicating they are hollow and occupied. This is the bustling Deep Gnome city of Glimmerfell.

The King’s name is Ardin Greybeard you have a writ of passage to see him, although no instructions as to where in the city he is located.

Actions?

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Into the Mountian

The mountainous wall that you’ve been walking toward now completely darkens all of the area in front of you. The light glow is off to your right and it provides the silhouette outline of this enormous mountain of a wall that looks to stretch for miles in either direction and straight up into the air above.

Ahead there are many more phosphorescent glows and the outlines of a structure built into the escarpment. A large hole is directly in front of you, a oblong cave 30 feet in diameter, with the structure directly next to it. Looking like a cross section of a football, or Stewie Griffin’s head, is only 30-40 feet high, yet 50-60 feet wide. The hole looks to have been cut by the river long ago with the river bed going down 15 feet from your central position while the roof is 20 feet over your head.

There is a clatter behind you and up ride 3 grey gnomes on large lizards about the size of Tiberious’ boar. The two in front are heavily armored, helmed, and armed with swords and short lances. The one behind is also armored but carries no lance and is helmet-less. The two front gnomes carry shields with a stylized mushroom on them.

The two front gnomes are as intimidating as gnomes can be and look to be competent fighters. The helmet-less one speaks in undercommon, understood by some of you and translated by Tiberious for the rest “Who are you headed to Glimmerfell? You wouldn’t be the group of hired thugs paid to harass me would you?”

Vinny steps up and begins speaking his mix of trade language to the gnome saying that he is a trader in salt and mushrooms…. As soon as mushrooms comes out of Vinny’s mouth the gnome gets agitated “WHAT? WHO DO YOU BUY FROM?!?!” he stammers and yells

It is several minutes of Vinny trying to explain that he is wanting to get into the trade business here and that he is from far away. Now a little less agitated the gnome says that he is “Funguseater” and he is owner of all the riches of the mushrooms grown here abouts. He lets Vinny know where he can be contacted, Vinny feels that Funguseater is a shrewd businessman.

The cave entrance has a small strong point built into the cave wall. There is a roar when the water from the riverbed pours into a structure and disappears into an aqueduct. Phosphorescent light is coming from within and seems to be embedded into the walls, everything is lit a pale blue. Gnome sentries acting very suspicious of the group question them as to their intentions, seeing the writ that you carry from Javi the commander of the keep reassure them and you are let on your way.

The football shaped passage is smooth and water carved. There is clearly a aqueduct to one side that funnels water down the passage. The floor has been improved and smooths so that there is at least 20 feet flat and is easily traveled. About 100 feet into the cave there is a slight blue glow from the ceiling, very dimly illuminating everything.

As the group moves down its length they encounter more carts, and grey gnomes. Everyone eyes you suspiciously…..

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Follow the river to Glimmerfell

Returning to the old riverbed, now damned off by the gnomes, the group travels along its bank, heading away from the dam. As they travel they notice that the river bed has a constant flow of water in a small channel cut in the bottom of the bed. The water is flowing very quickly and has many covers and small bridges. The water is purposely being channeled along the riverbed and the dam is controlling the flow rate. On this side of the riverbed there is a well worn path that you are on.

As they travel they run into more and more of the Deep Gnomes. Many are travelling as the group along the riverbed, some are engaged in repair and maintenance work to the water channel. As they travel they realize they are moving to ward the glow they saw earlier from the dam, like the sun had set and its last lights are silhouetting things in the underdark.

After several miles of travel there is a large area of darkness ahead, like a mountain in the dark. Tiberious speculates that it is a wall or mountain of rock. The glow which is now off to their right shows it as they draw nearer. A huge mountainous region rises into the darkness and stretches for mile in either direction.

Like a mountain on the surface, but with a very sharp face to it, like a shear cliff. It is lost in darkness of the ceiling but is so immense that it is most likely connected. The riverbed is heading directly into it. The path you are on is now a road well worn into the bedrock and having some obvious repairs in places

You are about a mile from the rock wall/mountain and the road you are on splits. There is a sign with a picture of a mushroom on it pointing to your right, off toward the glow. There is another one that says GLIMMERFELL in Gnomish with an arrow pointing straight ahead. You can see several carts moving off on the road toward the mushroom/glow. You continue

You pass more and more gnomes some on smaller carts pulled by large spiders, some on larger carts puled by lizards. All of them are wary of you, keeping an eye on you as you pass in the dim-gloom

The edge of the riverbank is now a well improved road and heading straight into the mountain.

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Finally the Keep

Weary from their travels the group finally sees the outline of the keep ahead in the gloom. Drawing near it looks to be the exact same as Coldstone, albeit in much better shape. Gnomes mill about it including 2 astride giant lizards at the front gate holding long lances.

The party approaches cautiously and is greeted with suspicion. It take quite some time to win these gnomes over. Again they ask the party if they have any “damn dark elf” blood in them. Tiberious wins them over with his necklace of Drow ears.

They are taken to see the commander, a stout deep gnome named Javilinchucker. Javilinchucker, like all these deep gnomes is a uniform grey color, skin, clothing, armor, everything grey. His bald head and large nose look like huge grey plump fruit. He asks why you come and after some banter, lets you know there is in fact the teleport stone here. It is guarded by the gnomes of this keep, who also watch for Drow and Troglodyte incursion raids.

Tiberious asks about the Drow medallions that you have captured. He says that is from “House Brier” a particularly wicked Drow House They usually don’t get this far as there are other factions in this area of underdark.

Javi tells the group they must seek the king of Glimmerfell who holds the stone if they want to unlock the teleporter. They are instructed to go back to the dam and follow the river basin, this will lead them to Glimmerfell. Vinny asks about a safe passage note. Javi says he will give you a Writ of Passage The group decides to long rest at the Keep. Spending 8 hours before heading back to the dam and then down the old riverbed.

When they are ready to travel Javi comes with the Writ of Passage It is written in the language of the Deep Gnomes and you can only make out a few words. He says to show it to any Gnome soldiers who hassle you and you should be fine. He has pressed a wax seal from his signet ring into the page.

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The Drow in/are the Trees

As the group moves ahead they hear the cry and flapping wings of birds taking flight ahead. Something has startled a flock of birds? It seems too dark for birds to be down here. Worried about stirges they proceed with caution. Ahead they see movement before seeing a lone tree It seemed like something moved behind the tree, or maybe the tree moved. Vinny creeps around the tree and draws daggers. Someone shouts “Barseck, behind you” from out in the dark somewhere, they group thinks they see movement in the dark.

Vinny is near the tree and it looks as though a camouflaged humanoid is standing as still as possible, Vinny tries to reason with it to surrender, but the shouted word of caution makes it move, Vinny stabs it, the “tree” seems to be covered in burlap and twigs, some sort of camouflage suit.

The rest of the party dashes at the movement, spotting 2 figures running away. Tiberious on his boar is on the first one, an axe blow cuts it down. Vinny has disengaged from his kill and dashed to stab the other in the back. All 3 “trees” lie dead. Investigation brings an odd discovery, the “trees” are drow elves, but the camouflage does not come off. Some sort of magic has bonded the twigs and leaves to the Drow’s flesh, it is like the plant is growing out of them.

The group is wary of the bonded plant material, using daggers and sticks to search the bodies they find each has a copper medallion on a chain around their neck. The medallion has an image of a stylized sun maybe? with many points coming off a circle.

The group takes a short rest and burns the bodies or the Drow where they are and the group continues to the keep

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Vacation at a Dam?

The group continues on from the mine. Vincent already scheming how he will use the teleporter to move salt and goods quickly too and from this region. The party discusses some of his business plans as they travel along the coast of the Obsidian Sea. The travel is uneventful, light noise from waves lapping at the shore of the sea, occasional lights far out showing there to be several miles at least in that direction.

After several miles more travel a structure looms in the dim-light ahead, outlined by several spots of dim glow. You can make out the form of a castle like structure right on the edge of the Obsidian Sea. A turret silhouetted against the minuscule amount of light.

Closer inspection reveals it a dam. There looks to have been a river flowing out of the sea as sometime that has been damned over. The dam is massive. A large stone turret to your side is occupied by dozens of small humanoids moving about, including what looks like a ballistae on the roof.

The tower rises 40 feet above the surface you are standing on, and you feel that the occupants have seen you. The empty river bed carves 30 more feet down into the rock in front of you. There is a scaffolding on some areas of the dam and you can see more humanoids in the river bed. There is an outer stone staircase on the turret leading to the top of the dam as well as several doors and balconies on the turret.

There are areas of phosphorescent glow, enough to make out forms but not get a distinct look at anything. Tiberious approaches and hails the dwarves speaking in under-common, he is eventually allowed to talk to the Dam’s commander, Halifax Greyleader. Greyleader is very suspicious of the elf and half elves in the party asking if they have any “Damn Dark blood in them” Tiberious is easily able to convince them that the party as well hates dark elves.

Formalities aside and able to win over the gnomes, Tiberious tells the gnomes the party has been tasked with finding a keep, he describes Coldstone. Greyleader says the Gnomes have many keeps like the one he describes. Tiberious tells him of the teleport device they seek. Greyleader is puzzled, but assists. The party is allowed to cross the dam with instructions as to the keep that they seek. He will have to talk to the commander there.

The Dam is 30 feet wide with a 10 foot wide walkway atop. It looks of very old construction. As you walk over the top of it it is a massive 1/4 mile across you run into gnome sentries and see gnomes working on the riverbed side. Gentle waves lap at the seaward side, and lights are seen far far out on the water. There are control gates in the middle, which are letting a stream of water flow into the riverbed. Off to the riverbed side is a slight glow, as if the moon is about to come up.

At the end there is another 40 foot turret identical to the one on the other side, and a bronze plaque. “Thank you for visiting the Gnerbert G. Gnoover Dam, please come again” The party descends the stone stair and follows the directions of Zarlag and Greyleader. It is only another mile to the keep

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Origin of a Phrase
Only the biggest.....

Donarious Thibault was a scoundrel. He had never needed friends, unless it was to gain their confidence in order to betray or use them. He lived alone, traveled alone, stole alone..a lone wolf of a rogue. He was a crude man, who’s vocabulary was mostly swears and rude retorts. The word ‘nice’ was never spoken of Donarious.

He was also easy pickings for a Drow raiding party a single loner, shot with a sleep dart and thrown in the back of a cage on on a wagon. Healthy human males sold well in the underdark slave market.

Donarious awoke to a stick poking him, he was still in the wagon. But it was not his Drow captors that he saw, for he saw no one. Just a stick poked up from below prodding him awake and a odd accented voice squeaking “Hey You, Alive?” from below the wagon. “well I ain’t fucking dead” Donarious said rubbing his aching head.

He looked over the side of the wagon in the darkness he could barely make out several 3 foot tall small humanoids. His head hurt from whatever the Drow drugged him with and his human eyes could not see in the dark of wherever he was at. He heard odd words he didn’t understand, and then his hand covered his eyes instinctively as a bright light source grew in front of him.

As his eyes grew accustomed to the light, there was more babble of words he didn’t understand. He lowered his hand from shielding his eyes. “What be you?” said one of the creatures before him that his eyes could now see. There were 5 gnomes, he knew them to be gnomes by their huge noses, but these looked as if covered in dirt and dust. They were almost uniformly grey/brown, clothing, armor, skin…everything the same color, almost like living statues. One gnome was forming his hands around a glowing ball that was illuminating the area, concentrating on its clearly magical eminence.

Scattered about the ground by the gnomes were several bodies of Drow, some had crossbow bolts buried in them, one body was still smoking and burned severely. He was in some sort of cave with a smooth floor, well worn and traveled. The gnomes babbled again in a tongue that Donarious could not understand. “What are you runts gonna do with me?” Donarious asked.

The gnomes mounted the cart, and took off with it. The cart bucked and bounced along the rock track, tossing Donarious about the cage. “Hey arn’t you little bastards gonna let me out?” he yelled his throbbing head worsened as the gnomes drove the cart at a freinzied speed…..

I first met the Deep Gnomes of Glimmerfell on a trading mission, fluent in the usual trade language of the underdark, undercommon. I greeted them, and then to gain their trust, I spoke what little gnome-tongue I knew “hail brothers, what have you got for me to trade?” is what I think I said. Surprisingly they responded in human-tongue, evidently for the same reason, but with the phrase “Only the biggest pair you’ve ever seen”

I wondered what I had said to them in gnomish, that made them say that? Better I go back to speaking under-common. But the gnomes persisted in human-speak, oddly ending many of their statements with “The biggest pair you’ve ever seen”

It was many years later that I learned that long ago the gnomes had rescued a human named Donarious from the Drow. This was at a time when the gnomes were interested in trade with the surface and wished to learn human speak. The gnomes learned all they could from Donarious before he disappeared, and unfortunately for them Donarious had a crude sense of humor, teaching the gnomes that in common human language “penis” meant friend “turd” meant good and “only the biggest pair you’ve ever seen” was a common friendly greeting to initiate trade.

It was even taught in the schools to the young…..

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just another 'day' in the underdark

As the party rests Vinny produces enough food to create a fantastic nourishing stew. Later their rest is interrupted by splashing toward the marsh side. Kvothe heads out with his cloak of Elvenkind hiding his figure into the marsh toward the noise to see what is coming toward them. Kvothe returns telling of a single Deep Gnome (Svirfneblin) riding a flat bottom boat, pulled by a large spider the size of a small pony.

The group awaits the gnome’s arrival and hails him. The gnome is typical of his race, his clothing and skin and hair all ashen grey. The spider a fuzzy black monstrosity that behaves as any draft animal would, slowing as the gnome pulls on the reins to halt it.

“I’m looking for the NOQUAR trade bridge, do you know of it?” The gnome asks the party who respond with accurate directions of where it is. The gnome’s cart is full of sacks and when questioned about what is in the sacks the gnome replies “the biggest pair of balls you ever saw” Mourning Storm is not amused and draws a dagger, but feels this gnome is not worth the trouble and re-sheaths it. The gnome thanks you and continues on his way.

The party packs up camp and continues to follow Zarlag’s directions heading along the edge of the swamp. They arrive at the black river, that they once crossed with the aid of a huge Kuo Toa and his ferry boat. The river is slow flowing, its smooth black surface 100 feet across and only occasionally broken by light ripples.

“Beware the salt” is their next instruction. Several more miles of trudging through the under dark, the area is just barley lit by occasional stands of phosphorescent fungi and odd lights that swirl like mists above.

The ground rises dramatically, there is a hill 30 feet in height in front of them, and Tiberious says he smells the sea. Cresting the hill, it drops off sharply, almost straight down 30 feet below is a light colored plain, which looks to have pools of water across its surface. the wall of the cliff indeed splashed with salt deposits

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Love Letters from Zarlag

After almost a month in town the party is considering returning to the underdark. They want to make sure that the evil that is below, stays below. Alynis has found several things of interest at the library.

1-A history of the region where Stercus sibling is, Nulb, seems to have seen a recent epic battle, and once housed a great evil temple.
2-Secondly that there were once 7 wizards who were scatterd about the region. They designed a system of teleportation, where each could teleport down into the under-dark, then around the underdark and up into coresponding areas.

There is speculation that the teleporter in Coldstone Keep and just outside Zulern is one of these. If they find more telporters they may be able to get about this world more easily.

Two things arrive, both from a suspicious source, Zarlag the mind flayer whom tricked the group into getting a magical cape called Fiend’s Embrace, has sent them assistance. Zarlag had said he would help the party if they helped him….

The first is a hand sized brass wheel/dial, its interior divided into 7 sections like a pizza, labeled R,O,Y,G,B,I,V. The outside of the dial is also divided into 7 equal parts, also labeled R,O,Y,G,B,I,V.

The second thing is a note. Seemingly directions from Zarlag “I know of what you seek”

The group contemplates Zarlag’s note, could it be a trap? Why would a mind flayer help us?

They gear up and use the teleporter in Mourning Storm’s cave to head to Coldstone Keep. Arriving there they find it in decent shape. They have spent several forays down here to rebuild it and nothign seems to have wandered into it to give them trouble. They set off following Zarlag’s directions.

Encountering things they already know are near, they trudge through the cold grey swamp, find the water wall and then move down it 2 miles. In the distance is a large stone structure, lit by faint red lights. It looks like a gatehouse, but it spans the water wall, rising up and over. Moving closer they see that it is manned by Drow and Druegar, including ballista installations on the turrets at each end. They also see the sigil of house NOQUAR on a sign as they approach and see banners with it hanging from the tower.

A quick examination results in them hailing the Drow. They learn that this is a trade bridge and are asked for a gold piece to cross. Vincent is able to talk the Drow into charging them only a silver. On the other side of the bridge it is no longer as swampy. Bedrock stretches away from them, altough the swamp continues to one side, a path that Zarlag told them to follow “the edge of the swamp”

They head off along the edge of the swamp, after many more miles they decide to rest.

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