BAND OF IRONS

Long Black River
Did that Kuo Toa Fart at us?

Another hour of slogging and now a huge river blocks your way. The marsh gives way to a rocky ridge which rises perpendicular to your direction of travel. The ridge rolls slowly up out of the marsh forming a long “road” of broken rock which stretches in either direction as far as you can see. It is about 5 feet above the surface of the marsh.

The Ridge varies from 10 to 30 feet in width and on the other side is a massive black river. The water is moving swiftly but without much surface disruption. There is an occasional twig or other flotsam in it, but it is mostly smooth like a black glass surface moving quickly by you. 100 feet across is another ridge

The group moves along the ridge, turning left of their original direction. After 15 minutes of travel the ridge becomes thicker and with more elevation, small hollows and caves are near the bank.

Storm is the first to see a large flat barge on the far side of the river. It is 20×15 feet and has a simple wooden rail about it. It is tied to several posts stuck into the rock. As the group wonders about how to get the barge to them, a hulking figure emerges from the darkness aside the barge

There is an enormous Kuo Toa, almost 7 feet tall it raises its hands to its mouth and makes a sound at you that sounds like a long ‘raspberry’ mouth fart. Raif Windgate (Mourning Storm) and Tiberius Hammersmyth understand under-common, and tell the others, “he says he’ll bring us across for 1 gold each”

The group agrees and sees the Kuo Toa unhitch the barge and flat it into the water. He uses a long pole to move the barge across, but even at his size you find it difficult to believe he can do this on his own. The barge is heavy, the current strong, yet the barge comes straight across to you

Everyone gives the brute a gold, the barge moves easily across and you feel it is being moved by some other force. The Kuo Toa is only going through the motions of using the pole to move it.

The Kou Toa says nothing as you cross, even when questioned. He watches you exit the raft and then begins affixing it back to the shore.

The group moves off into the darkness, off the ridge and once again back into the mists and the brackish water. They have been moving for 10-12 hours now, including about an hour at Zarlag’s Hut and another hour on the canoes. So you have taken 2 short rests and are in good shape to continue to travel for a few more hours…..

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The Boats, The Willows, and an otter
Red Indian Canoes

Based on the story ‘The Willows’ by Algernon Blackwood

Another two miles of slogging and the group comes to a wall of rock, a clip face that extends in each direction and straight up. According to Krundin’s directions they take a left, and follow the wall until they come to a small pond of water about 50 feet in diameter. There is a tunnel cut into the rock behind the pond with a river running into the tunnel.

Beached on shore are 4 canoes and a small shack. The shack has a counter and a large sign on the roof RED INDIAN CANOES. On the counter is a bucket and a sign written in several languages “1 gold/canoe” The group has been traveling for 5-6 hours now, including about an hour stop at Zarlag’s Hut. Even with slow travel in the water they know they are 6-8 miles from where they came in. They have lost track of time without a sun to tell time.

There is no one about, many footprints on the ground, including humanoid and webbed Kuo Toa tracks. The water is moving and it looks like the river is flowing out from the left, turning around in the pond and then flowing back into the cave on the right.

Water Flows Away from you on the right side of river
Water Flows Toward you on the left side of the river
Boundary between flow is dotted with small islands with black willows on them

There are no banks along the cave walls and small silt/sand bars in the middle of the river. On the sand bars grow vile looking black willow trees.

The group hears a GONG far away and echoing throughout the area. It GONGS 7 times and then the earth shakes beneath their feet as if a light earthquake is occurring, then all is still again.

4 gold are stuck into the bucket and 4 canoes are boarded, 2 in each canoe. Little paddling is needed as the current to the right carries the canoes slowly into the tunnel.

The boats move downstream, going by small island after small island, each with clusters of black willow trees on them. Many minutes go by and someone in the lead canoe sees a body floating in the water, it must have been a trick of light, as the body rolls over everyone sees that it is a large otter, like the ones that were common around Zulern above.

Many more minutes go by, a raft is seen coming the other direction, there is a man on it, grizzled and dressed in shabby clothes. Almost before the group can react the raft is gone by, the man making a gesture at you which looks religious in nature (crossing himself?) The group thinks about pursuit, but decides to just continue floating downstream with the current.

Coming the other directing is a Kuo Toa, it looks to be swimming in the water with its head sticking above. The group has some difficulty shooting arrows from the canoes, they manage to get over to the other side of the river and catch the Kuo Toa and dispatch it.

Another 15 minutes on there is an island with 4 stone statues facing each other. The statues look tiki/tribal and are about 3 feet tall. The group floats past, without investigation.

Ahead you see a roundabout pond, like the one you came in on. There are 4 canoes beached, a little shack, as you beach your canoes you see that the sign on this shack says BLUE INDIAN CANOES. It has the same bucket and sign 1 gold/canoe.

There is more grey swamp, swirling mists, brackish water and cold cold cold. The group trudges off straight away from the canoes

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Zarlag's Hut

Another mile of slogging about this wretched area, in the distance the group sees an outline of some structure, they slowly creep up. There is a tower of some sort built atop a larger island jutting out of the swamp. The island is about 60 feet in diameter.

The group fans out and smells a cooking fire coming from within. There are 4 solid timbers sunk into the island, 15 feet above and perched on the timbers is a large wooden hut. It has shuttered windows and a peaked shingled roof. It looks like any ordinary country shack, except that it is on ‘stilts’. There seems to be off key singing coming from inside.

Surrounding the shack the group discovers that it looks to be accessed through a trap door in the underside, although they are not sure how to get at it. Kvothe and Mourning Storm use the rope of climbing and scale the timbers. They are abel to see through the shutters which are partially open

The hut has two large chairs in it, as well as two large beds, a desk and an iron stove on which a kettle of stew is simmering. A HUGE man with a large sword in a back scabbard is doting on the stew and singing. The man is bald, with a red beard that is shoddily braided. He has layers of crude leather animal skins on as well

Tiberius Hammersmyth calls up from below “Hello there” As the brute of a man moves toward one of the front windows, throwing open the shutters, Storm Poisen Sprays the food in the stew kettle…

WHO THERE?” the almost 7 foot tall feral looking man yells “ME ZARLAG, VERY STRONG MAGIC USER! You NO CAUSE TROUBLE!” “Just a friendly adventurer,” returns Tiberious , “Could you assist my friends and I finding our way about this area?”

After a bit of convincing conversation Tiberious, Alynis and Helm are invited inside. The huge man lowers a rope ladder and the three climb through the door in the floor while the others stay hidden outside

Once inside the trio notice the desk has many writing implements and a few parchments, there is also a bookshelf that Alynis notices has numerous books of a magical nature. “You guys wants some stew? Krunidn…er Zarlag make great stew.” The trio feel this man’s demeanor is more that of a barbarian than a wizard.

Storm uses Mage Hand from outside to knock the (poisoned) stew over. “What the?” the huge man is startled by the kettle falling over. Eventually the trio learns that this man’s name is Krundin. He says he just pretends he is Zarlag a strong wizard who lives here to scare any bad guys away.

Krundin is looking after Zarlag’s hut while Zarlag is away on adventure. He knows the area well and gives the group some pointers on where to go. He asks them if they’ve seen monsters, and the group asks him about monsters as well. Looks like the Kou Toa have just began recently entering this area.

When asked about Zarlag, Krundin relates that Zarlag has been searching this area for something over the last few years. The area shifts somehow and changes making navigation difficult. Zarlag began acting strange and left many months ago….

Krundin gives the group direction to “the boats, you must get to the boats” The group eventually leaves with at least a little knowledge of the area and headed for “the boats”. They spent at least an hour with the barbarian.

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The Drow

Another hour of trudging goes by. Ahead there is an island, the group is alerted to it due to what looks like several torches or glowing orbs bobbing in what looks to be a ruined structure. Tiberius Hammersmyth is creeping up on the building, seeing that it is little more than the remains of two walls, when he sees 4 Dark Elves inside of it. “DROW!” he thinks to himself.

They look to be young Drow males. Three are doing something with a large spider. It looks as though one is squeezing the spider? and two others are rubbing large snails onto the filament web that comes out? The forth Drow is leisurely strolling as sort of a watch guard, but not doing a good job.

The Drow with the spider all of a sudden bites into it, the two others start fighting with him

Tiberius is able to get the drop on the guard, attacking him from behind with his axe. It takes a second for the other Drow who are fighting among themselves to realize they are big attacked. Tiberius is within the circle of Drow, swinging his axe as they scramble for weapons.

The rest of the group gets there to provide cover fire from arrows, the fight is over quickly and Tiberious has subdued one of the Drow by smashing him aside the head with the fact side of his axe knocking him unconscious..

One of the Drow has a bronze horse head broach that says NOQUAR on the reverse side. Another has a very nice green cloak. There are 4 hand crossbows, bolts, short swords, this looks to be a raiding group or outpost of some sort.

The captive Drow is wakened and Tiberious asks some questions that some of the others aren’t quite sure what they are about like “What house are you from?” Not getting answers he likes Tiberious cuts an ear off one of the dead Drow, and fastens it to a necklace, which held another Drow ear, one from the The Vampire’s Lighthouse

The Drow is still not intimidated and even with Turok’s working him over is not giving the answers Tiberious wants. Tiberius dispatches the wounded Drow with a heavy blow from his axe. He then cuts an ear off all the dead and fastens it to his necklace.

Tiberius has added another oddity to his story, he is clearly overtly violent toward Drow and is continuing to take ears off ones the group kills.

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Trudging along the cave wall

Mists swirl making visibility and lighting difficult. Those with infra-vision are even hampered with visibility out about 45 feet. Helm Tallstag and Toruk the two humans are trying to work within Helm’s light spell, but their visibility is severely limited to about 25 feet at best.

They follow the wall for almost a mile when underfoot the group encounters what seems to be a sunken road. Flat and made of rock it winds along the cave wall. CLICK Helm and Toruk have triggered something, the ground beneath their feet moves downward a few inches and a voice booms out, " IF YOU MOVE FROM THIS SPOT, YOU WILL DIE" No one is seen as defensive positions are taken, the voice came form no-one and from everywhere. .

The group takes some time trying to figure out the trip plate, feeling its outer edges and thinking about setting weight equal to the two characters onto it to hold it down. The voice booms out again “YOU HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO DIE” Helm and Turok feel the trip plate rise and reset, they move away from it.

The group hurries away from the area. Another 2 miles of travel. The mists thin somewhat and those with dark-vision are able to see out about 60 feet. To the group left there is a structure and they move toward it. Bricks have been stacked into a 60 degree angle, maybe some sort of defensive position? Or the beginnings to a building foundation?

Further away from the cave wall the group sees a faint light, glowing blue. Investigation finds a large ‘island’ which looks to be home to a large patch of 3 foot tall glowing mushrooms. As the group fans out a shrill blast like scream erupts from the mushrooms. The group has set off a shrieker..

As the scream continues another mushroom sprouts thin worm like tentacles that wave menacingly as it slowly moves toward the group. A firebolt ends its movement. The group uses a few more to end anymore shriekers from making noise, then moves back into the swam to continue.

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Brackish Water

The group decides to follow the cave wall to their right and trudges away into the dark…..

The Cleric kicked at a muddy little hillock as he walked, the group has been slogging through shin deep water for hours now, tendrils of wetness slowly creeping up toward their waists. Of course the Dwarf and the Halfling had it worse off, this was knee deep water to them, and the taller members would occasionally stumble and shower them with its vileness.

“Brackish” said the Cleric muttering, “Helm-damned brackish water” The Elf turned toward him, " your human term brackish is meant for a fresh river joining a salty sea" The elf was most likely correct and followed this flat statement said the word “D’quar’tar”

“Nah-Quarter?” the Cleric asked strongly mispronouncing the word. “D’quar’tar” the Elf elegantly replied doubting in his mind if the cleric could pronounce it as humans had difficulty rolling their thick tongues around elven pronunciation. “In my language, where the rivers meet the sea, the water is called D’quar’tar, this water is not D’quar’tar. It is vile and dead, and abomination that is not water at all”

“Brackish,” said the cleric, “It reeks of old ale and the piss latrine” The Dwarf who was just ahead turned “This water is wonderful, an essence of cut rock and earth, a subtlety that would be lost on the likes of you two.” The Dwarf drew in several lungfuls of the air just above the water’s surface. “Tis’ Alamon, water full of mineral content, sulfur and calcium. It you two learned to understand that, it could lead you to safety, or away from danger, or toward a wealth of mineral deposits”

“All-ma-lam?” the elf mimicked the way the cleric had mispronounced D’quar’tar, deliberately trying to raise ire with the Dwarf or the Cleric, who had long ago grown accustomed to his snarky comments and sarcasm. “So this is what makes you Dwarves crazy for gold?”

“Brackish” said the cleric to which the dwarf scooped a handful into his mouth, slurping it as if soup. “The tree lover is right, there is no salt in this,” he said with rivulets of it running through his beard. “Sulfur, brimstone…we had one in my clan who could concentrate this to etch metal,” the Dwarf continued, “and Calcium, soft metal worthless for weapon making, too soft even for jewelry, although I’m sure you soft Elves would find a way to decorate yourselves with it.”

BRACKISH” said the Cleric and the Elf simultaneously answering the Dwarf’s statement as the group continued to trudge on……

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Into the Underdark!

After coming to a conclusion the the Kuo Toa will continue to climb out of this area unless the group figures out how to stop them once and for all. Just bricking up the entrance, like at the library, is not a permanent solution.

The group heads back into the caverns beneath the second mansion. Through the water and the odd barrier and to the room where Storm and Helm saw the Ghouls fight the Kuo Toa. The bodies are gone, only a few items of worthless gear and some blood on the floor show that the fight occurred. The air is cool and moist.

Advancing cautiously they indeed believe this to be an old mine of some sort. Numerous short shafts head off from the main passage, extending from a few feet to more than 20, randomly every few feet. Some have very old tools, smallish pick axes and shovels. All rusty and very old. A cool moist breeze seems to come from ahead.

The tunnel widens to a large cavern dominated by 7 smallish brick structures. 6 of the structures are similar, small homes with limited stone furniture, all dusty and very old. There is 1 larger structure, a meeting building or chapel of some such. Several long stone benches and a raised dais dominate the room. All of the structures have simple windows and door openings, but no glass or wood in them, and never an indication that there was.

There is a drag trail with some blood, most likely where the Kuo Toa bodies were dragged through here. The cavern continues on the other side of this area and the group continues. The passage on the other side is similar, more random tunnels, a few items of equipment. The air is noticeably colder and still wet.

Down one tunnel the group finds the gristly remains of the Kuo Toa. Mostly just gnawed bones now the remains are torn into a mound of waste. “Looks like the ghouls had a fish diner” Helm says gruffly

The cavern continues on for another hundred feet, now obviously angling downward and the footing is difficult and slips result in cascades of small rock and dust. Suddenly the grou is confronted by a cliff. There is a 30×30 rough cave, with one side a hole that gushes cold crisp air at the group.

The hole is an benign into an immense underground cavern. The cave that the group is in is 30 feet above the surface of the immense cavern, situated in the wall. The ceiling is 30 feet above, rough and rocky. The floor looks to be a swamp, grey and lifeless save from patches of grey scrub grass that looks dead.

There are very faint colored lights that Tiberius Hammersmyth surmises are lichens or moss which can give off light in a cave such as this. Not enough for the humans to see by though.

Helm Tallstag casts light, and tries to get an idea on how big this cavern is, but the cavern stretches off into the blackness. There are some handholds on the walls surface, and the group uses their roe of climbing to assist in climbing down to the floor.

The floor is like a marsh, covered in a foot of water, and dotted with low little islands and grey scrub grass. Everything is grey, and the water is ice cold. Everyone’s breath clouds out as they breathe and they all check their rings of protection from cold, they are working, or most would be in hypothermia soon at this temperature and now wet to the knees.

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What the hell was that?
Ghouls fighting Kou Toa

Helm Tallstag and Raif Windgate (Mourning Storm) have entered the mansion’s basement finding stairs leading to a flooded room. Storm had dove in and beckoned Helm to follow.

Both found a magical “membrane” holding the water at bay about 30 feet down a completely submerged passageway. Walking through the membrane they emerged into a rough hewn rock passage. Oddly they were dry, having just swam through 30 feet of water.

The area that they are in looks to be an old mine shaft, the walls carved from solid grey rock. They move cautiously down the darkened way, Storm’ using his dark vision and Helm muffling a light spell 20 feet behind him.

Storm comes back to Helm and tells him there is a camp of kuo Toa just ahead around a bend. They look to be at rest as several were chewing on something and sitting down. Suddenly a commotion comes from where the Kuo Toa are. Storm advances and sees a group of Ghouls attacking the Kuo Toa, the fight is brief and the ghouls are triumphant, Storm and Helm retreat to the others.

Back above ground Storm and Helm describe the encounter to the others. Cautiously the bro descends through he water and moves into the mine. They find no Kuo Toa bodies, but drag marks where it looks as if the ghouls dragged the bodies away.

The area is investigated and there are several shafts dug into the rock, numerous ones going back 10 to 30 feet. The main passageway heads back to a larger cavern, with several rock carved structures in it. 6 are small rock “huts” looking to be for smallish inhabitants with 4 foot ceilings and 2 small stone beds in each of them. There is also a larger structure, looking like some sort of meeting hall with stone benches and a raised dias.

The group wanders through more mine passageways, eventually finding a gnawed Kuo Toa arm, most of its flesh torn away. They eventually come to an opening on a cliff face. They are at the edge of a vast cavern. Light is cast to try and see the dimensions.

The floor is covered in grey water, gotten with small hills and stalks of grey weeds. A vast ugly underground swamp. The ceiling looks natural another 30 feet above. The whole of the cave then expands in all directions looking to become enormous.

The group retreats to town, surmising that they will be down here for a significant amount of time and need provisions. A day is taken gathering items like rope, water, and food then the group returns……

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IDEAS!

Just an area to stick stuff

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Fresh Kuo Toa Bodies, and some live ones too

Kvothe and Helm search the the body of a Kuo Toa lying on the other side of the door. He could have set off the trap? The body is dry maybe a day or so old and has little on it except a short spear.

ON the walls are paintings in generally good shape of a sea captain and a pretty older woman both elegantly dressed. There is also a portrait of a ship with the name SeaWolf on it. To the far side is a broken set of glass doors leading to a small patio overgrown with the outside weeds.

Armand is the first to see them, from the mire of the swamp emerge several Kuo Toa, they begin advancing on your position, their swords and spears dripping with slime from the bog.

The Kuo Toa are not equipped for a ranged fight, as they attempt to thrown thier spears Armand and Storm make quick work of them with spell blasts.

Turok comes rushing out of the house trailing smoke, telling of being attacked by tiny creatures. Helm and Kvothe emerge from the other side, speaking of traps and Kuo-Toa, that Storm and Armand concur with. The group is mostly back together and starts to try to decide what to do.

Storm and Helm investigate the workshop and the basement stairs while the rest move back into the ballroom to try to figure out where Tiberious is and what attacked Turok.

Helm and Storm find more recently dead Kuo-Toa on the basement stairs. They can’t tell how they died but are worried about how many they have now seen. They move into the basement and find it full of water.

The others are climbing up to the balcony and find Tiberious there. He has gone through several rooms that look like servants quarters and found a child’s playroom. Nothing of interest. There is a hallway beyond with several doors and stairs leading to a third floor (attic) and down into the kitchen observed by Storm. Everyone decides to watch for more Kou Toa and eventually retreat to town to warn them

As the others take positions at the rear of the mansion, Storm and Helm are in the basement. Storm is intrigued by the water and before Helm can do anything, Storm jumps in disappearing beneath the brackish water. He surfaces moments later. “Jump in, 30 feet there is some kind of barrier, water wont pass through. I could see it with my infra vision.” He says

Helm trusts Storm and jumps in, his armor carrying him to the bottom about 10 feet of brackish water, he struggles forward and feels himself pass through somekind of membrane, it is dry and he can breath of the other side.

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