Butt kicking for Justice!
“Long before men brought civilization to this valley, before the stout ones called dwarves discovered their precious metals here - this valley was a site of constant battle between the orcs and the five clans that made their home here. The five clans were the clans of the Bear, Badger, Elk, Raven, and Wolf. Then the dwarves came, ending the constant warfare with their steel weapons and armor. After they discovered their metals, the dwarves befriended the clans and came to us with a proposal. In exchange for our guarding an object for them, the dwarves taught us the secrets of steel and gave us the stone guardian that guards our sacred grounds.”
“Afterwards, civilization came to our valley - bringing humans, elves, gnomes, and Halflings. Soon there were cities appearing all over the valley, seducing with their promises of safety and easy living. It was becoming civilized that brought down the raven and the elk - a lesson that the remaining clans have taken to heart. Many ages passed before the disappearance of the dwarves. Those that remained in the valley gathered an army and went forth to discover the cause of the disappearance. Hundreds of our best warriors joined them in apparent death, for the army disappeared without a trace. In the ages afterwards - all in our dimmest of memories - the civilization of this valley crumbled like a beaver dam in the spring thaw. Slowly the valley returned to its natural state - save the city of Mythrazel to the north.”
“The item that the Dwarves entrusted to the bear clan is the Septerra Scepter - which is what startled the shaman when Toll asked about a Septerra Core. So long ago was the dwarves entrusting with us, that we feel we must return the favor. So I will entrust you with the Scepter, since your path seems so entwined with it. And I will send my daughter Ilea to help safeguard it, so that it will never leave the protection of the Bear Clan."
The group introduced themselves to the chief's daughter - a towering young woman eager for battle. Gwendon asked the chief about the gold, silver, and mithril ore found in the tunnels. He explained that the barbarians had what they needed and any more wealth was an unnecessary evil to avoid. Therefore, the group went and retrieved a vein of mithril and gold to take with them come spring. Afterwards, they returned to the Shrine of Brialyn to finish exploring the chamber. Gwendon climbed to the top of one of the pieces of ice and discovered that the mosaic on the floor was none other than a world map, with the Heart of Pelor and the Heart of Winter marked on the map. She then pulled Balin up so that he could sketch out the map. Just before joining her, Balin suggested to Kobort that he might try sheathing Brialyn in the hole on the ground that was emanating the flames. After casting a spell to protect him from fire, Kobort did just that. Immediately, a flash of heat shot through the cavern - immediately turning all of the ice in the sanctuary to steam. Down then plummeted Balin and Gwendon, with Gwendon selfishly using Balin to soften her landing. The sixty-foot plunge proved fatal to Balin, with Gwendon surviving with a few battered ribs. Due to the now oppressive humidity in the area, the group decided to leave.
Back with the barbarians, the group asked if the shaman could do anything for their fallen companion. This they did, raising Balin from the dead. Still feeling the need to vent, the group decided that they were going to attack the goblins and retrieve their stolen goods. Ilea arranged to have the barbarians attack from the entry cavern, while the group would move around and attack from the rear entry. Gallandro and Misha decided to attack with the Barbarians, leaving the rest of the group to move around. It took Gwendon nearly half an hour to actually fix the lock that she had earlier jammed and then open it. The cave beyond was full of rotting crates and goods that apparently belonged to the Goblin Chief. There were three Goblins in the cave - all decked out in full plate armor.
Gwendon and Kobort attempted to sneak into the chamber, but Kobort made a noise, causing the Chief to spin around and start firing arrows at him. Combat ensued, with arrows flying both directions. At one point, the Chief dropped his bow and grabbed at a staff on his back while drawing his Morningstar. Gwendon decided it must be some sort of magic staff, and stole it from his in the midst of combat. During the course of the battle, when five more goblins were joining the fray, she discovered that it was in fact a staff of healing. With the assist of a combination prayer and blessing spell from Toll, the chief and his lieutenants and sergeants all fell before the might of the group. Toll, now empowered with a combination of a prayer, blessing, bull strength, and having cast a death knell on the Goblin Chief - took the staff of healing in one hand, hammer in the other, and charged into the midst of the goblin horde screaming out to the glory of Moradin...
For two minutes, while the main group was entering the cave from its rear entrance, Misha, Gallandro and 5 barbarians fought the horde of goblins. Wave after wave beat upon them, with goblin bodies piling in the tunnel forcing the attackers back just to keep their footing. Two barbarians had to retreat due to injuries, but the rest kept their ground. Just when it looked like the barbarians were going to win without trouble, a group of worgs and goblins attack the group from the rear. Quickly, the tide of the battle turned, with Misha and Gallandro desperately wondering where their backup was. Just as they managed to gain control over the tunnel, dropping the last of the Worgs with the aid of the last barbarian standing, the rest of the group charged into the cavern and a wide-open battle ensued. Dart quickly moved in past the others, only to be beat down by the goblin horde. Acelia was able to make it to him to heal him with the magical staff, but forced to use its magic on herself as well due to the brutality of the little creatures. In the end, the enemy - 170 goblins, 2 dire wolves, and 8 worgs - was defeated and the group triumphant. Leaving the women and children alone, the group retrieved the goblin leader's treasure and returned to the barbarian caves.
After their victory against the Goblins, the group took a week to train and become accustomed to their new skills. During that time, the Bear Clan sent out another hunting party to get more meat. Upon their return, they brought with them a surprise in the form of another survivor from the airship - an Elven wizard named Nath'Tool. Seems that he fell further in the canyon, and wandered around until he was found by the great bear - who kept him safe during the night of "All Dragon's eve" and brought him down barbarian's who were hunting near the ruins at the base of the slope leading into the Valshiren.
After a round of introductions, the group took Dart and Nath'Tool to the crystal to see if the gods had marked either of them. Dart's hand showed the sign of Pelor - god of the sun, but to the unwelcome surprise of Nath'Tool, his hand glowed with the sign of Neruil - the evil god of Death. Quietly, the group returned to their chambers - many of them in deep thought.
It was finally decided that the group's next conquest be the tribe of Kobolds. Much planning went into the battle with traps placed, magical protections and enhancements cast, and protective beings summoned to aid in the fight. In the end - after a massive battle spanning the entire length of the kobold cavern, the group emerged victorious with only 27 out of the 475-kobold warriors left alive. Of the six dire weasel mounts ridden by the kobold leaders, none survived. To some of the members of the group - it was a harsh and bitter reminder of the power wielded by a few members of the group - power fortunately on their side.
With much deliberation on what to do next, the group finally decided upon an assault from the rear ranks of the Orcs. Using the golem to smash through the doorway, the group moved in and immediately split up. Misha, Toll, and Nath'Tool went down the west passage - Kobort explored the north passage - and the rest of the group remained in the bunkroom on the other side of the door wondering where Gwendon went (who was hiding underneath one of the bunks).
The west passage opened into an empty room with a single trap, a ballista that caught Toll right in the chest. Not seriously harmed, the group discovered that there had been no activity within the cavern for at least 3 days. They retrieved a nice silk tapestry from the cave and returned to the rest of the group.
Kobort, meanwhile, moved further into darkness until he entered into a large dark cave. Moving cautiously, he failed to hear the ogre skeletons until they began to attack him. Panicking, he attempted to run back to the group, only to discover that a wall of stone now blocked his way. Fighting for his life, he started attacking the skeletons, discovering in the process that his blade carries additional powers against undead. In the end, he was able to defeat the skeletons, though nearly losing his life in the process.
The group followed Kobort's path, and came to the blank wall. Hearing Kobort's cry for help on the other side, Toll proceeded to bash a hole in the wall to get to him. The combat was already over by the time the group made it through, and much healing done on Kobort. Misha then went down the west passage looking for Gwendon - who was in fact back in the main cave back by the Bear golem. Misha discovered fresh prints leading from the Orc cave - revealing that the enemy not only fled the cavern, but also had banded together to put an end to the new threat in the caverns - the group. She rushed back to reveal this to the group, about the same time that Gwendon jumped through the hole in the wall with her own story.
While waiting back in the cavern, she started to move to rejoin the group, until she heard sounds of marching down one of the corridors. Readying a smokestick to use as a diversionary tactic to flee, she waited to see who was coming. When she saw the threat, she quickly pocketed the smokestick and ran like hell. For marching down the passage were several ranks of kobolds - dead kobolds.
The group quickly moved to seal the hole, with Toll weakening the ceiling so that if the hole breached again - it would cause a cave in. Meanwhile, Gwen scouted the way back home through the middle passage in the caves. Narrowly avoiding death after tripping a trap the way south to freedom disappeared off in a cave in. Learning from experience, she began to scout carefully to the north - now relying on passage either through the goblin caves or through the cave of chains. Finding and marking a tripwire, she continued, suddenly finding herself magically held in place and used for target practice by creatures hiding in the darkness. Misha came to her rescue, though both of them became victims of an alchemist fire attack. Making it back to the group, a quick stop drop, and roll later, they were ready for someone to tend their wounds. Gallandro responded to the fire treatment with a little of his own - a fireball. The explosion burned a group of 10 skeletons and a hobgoblin, though the fate of the Hobgoblin was not clear to the group. The group moved forward past the trip-wire, and Gwendon began to scout the west passage.
Moving forward carefully, she entered an area of complete silence. Immediately, she came under attack in a mounted assault by two hobgoblins on lizard back. The first hobgoblin simply attacked and fled - taking several arrow wounds in the process. The second lizard stopped in its tracks as Gwendon tangled its legs with a tanglefoot bag. The rider dismounted and cast a spell, surrounding himself in darkness. Dart charged in and through the darkness, trying to hit the rider, only to discover a nasty surprise waiting on the other side of the darkness - 50 Orcs wielding crossbows, thunderstones, and tanglefoot bags. As the rest of the group took care of the mount, Dart was nearly taken care of as he was struck by five bolts and a tanglefoot bag. Struggling back through the darkness, Gallandro sent another retributive fireball through the darkness after seeing Dart's state. The darkness dropped to show that the rider was flying above the ground in the passage. Beyond, the burnt ranks of the Orcs scattered down the northern passage of the Goblin Caves, while the flier moved out of sight down the passage to the garbage cave.
Moving invisibly up to investigate, Nath'Tool discovered that a group of three Ogres and four Hobgoblin Clerics of Maglubiyet awaited them in ambush. After having haste cast on him by Nath'Tool, Gallandro moved up to the passage to the traps and caste two quick fireballs down the passage and retreated. Meanwhile, Toll discovered that a spiked stone had been cast on the other side of the passage leading into the Goblin caves. While debating what to do next, a host of Large, Medium, Small, and Tiny skeletons marched into the northern Battleground Chamber towards the group. Now cut off on all sides, the group quickly decides to move back to the Stone Bear, and regroup. Let us hope that they did not delay too long...
Sending Gwendon back to scout out their retreat, the rest of the group slowly backed out in the face of the large skeletal force. Unfortunately, the way back turned out to be blocked by a newly formed Wall of Stone. Gwendon returned to tell the group the bad news - arriving in time to see the skeletons halt in rank, to be joined by over 30 giant lizards mounted Hobgoblins, over 20 Orcish Archers, and a few Kobold and Goblins. A hobgoblin and two orcs moved forward and addressed the group - calling for the Whelps known as Misha, Gwendon, and Toll.
They claimed to have no desire to see any more casualties, and wanted to come to an agreement. The Hobgoblins would allow the group past their area to the rest of the cavern in exchange for peace. Toll and the Hobgoblin cleric swore an oath to their deity to this end, and the group was given an armband denoting their acceptance by the Orc's of the Bleeding Eye. The weary groups made their way back to the Barbarian caverns and there they stayed for another week, before returning to explore the rest of the caverns.
After being escorted through the Kobold caverns and hatchery, the God Hands moved east down a long upward slanting tunnel. Coming to an intersection, the group headed south, with Gwendon scouting ahead. After moving for some time, Gwendon was suddenly assaulted by a pack of Shadow Mastiffs. Assaulted from all sides, she was slammed to the ground as combat ensued. The group quickly dispatched the animals, with Nath'Tool identifying them as other-planar creatures from the plane of Shadow. After a quick bout of healing, the group continued once more.
Coming to another intersection, the group was delighted to find a burrow leading to the surface. Delighted that is until they discovered that it was below zero outside. They did remain outside long enough for Kobort to determine where the actual entryway into the caverns was so that they could come straight to the burrow, if need be. Back down in the warmth of the fifty or so degree caverns, Kobort discovered tracks down one passage of a 15-foot diameter spider, and no tracks down the other passage. Deciding to assault the spider first, the groups headed down the passage it had come from
Moving in formation with Misha bringing up the rear, she was attacked first. As all but Nath'Tool spun around to see what was wrong, the spider moved out of phase behind Kobort and bit him, before disappearing once more. Gallandro, with the aid of his familiar, determined that he was the next victim of the spider and lost his mind. After a quick bite and vanish bit by the spider, Gallandro ground zeroed himself with a fireball, blasting the entire party - but not the spider that was in the ethereal plane. The force of the fireball proved more than Gallandro could take, and he hit the ground with a smoking thud. Toll rushed over to heal him, as the rest of the group readied for the spider to appear. Appear it did, only to receive the ultimate adventurer beat down, killing it before it could take another bite, with only one stray arrow from Nath'Tool striking the partially healed Gallandro. Healing up the group with the aid of Acelia, everyone made sure and set Gallandro straight on his fireballs and where they would be stuffed if he blew up his companions again. The group - minus one upset familiar - then moved back to explore the passage that they had passed
Moving down the passage, the tunnel opened into a large chamber with no exits and something glittering in the center of the chamber. At that point, Misha cried out in warning, as the groups shadows animated and began to attack. Every strike made by the shadows passed through armor as though it was not there and drained the victim of strength. By the end of the combat, the Monk Dart and Ilea the Barbarian were weakened to the extent that they had to be helped back to the Barbarian caverns, where the group recuperated for a day so they could regain their strength with Toll's aid, before they could go back out. Gwendon discovered that the glittering object in the cave was a magical brooch on a corpse.
After several days' recuperation from the attack of the shadows, the group ventured out once more to explore the caverns beyond the hobgoblins. After being forewarned by the Hobgoblins that something was amiss in the area beyond, the group moved cautiously to investigate. However, the disturbance came to them, in the form of the death of a manticore at the hands of a 20-foot tall kicking-the-butts-of-evil outsider that resembled a gravity-wielding Jamaican bird man named Kyreeth. It seems that somehow, the holy giant was pulled into this plane during all dragons' eve and is now trapped. Making the best of his situation, he explained that he has been kicking the butts of evil all over the place and that "If the group kicks the same butts that he has been kicking, then they are OK with him." He then asked for assistance in cleaning out the harpy lair so he could use it for his own until he could find a way back, which they agreed to do.
Sever hours later, after a bit of cleaning up, the group continued in their exploration of the cavern. After encountering a Shield Guardian - a type of familiar/golem that is responsible for protecting a wizard or his property - they were allowed passage into the parlor of the Wizard himself - a human by the name of Vorkastarak who apparently has set up shop in the caverns for anyone who can make it to him. He has created a magical tome called the Lexicon of Deeds which apparently will teach new abilities to anyone who reads from it - for the low price of 20,000 gold and the subdual and subsequent retrieval of a 5-headed hydra that lives within the cavern. Agreeing to take on the task and paying to have items identified for them, the group rested within the Wizard's most generous quarters (Actually a permanent Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion), and started out the next morning to find the Hydra - "Just keep going left from the Harpy Cave!"
The next morning, the group started out through Kyreeth's Cavern, pausing to let him know their intent. Continuing through the caverns, the group entered a chamber that contained a group of devils - a Cornugon and 9 Lemure to be exact! After a long and drawn out battle, the group emerged triumphant over the fell beings - though the Cornugon was still not dead, even after having its heart removed and chomped upon by Misha. Therefore, the group dragged the carcass and the heart back to Kyreeth to kill finally, before dragging it back to see if the wizard might be interested in studying it.
Resting up after tackling the Devil - which the group received 5,000gp for - the group headed back out to once again subdue the Hydra. Unfortunately, a beholder had another plan, and less than a minute later the party defeated the foul orb - at the cost of Gallandro becoming stone. While one-half of the party retrieved the creature's treasure, the other half levitated the Gallandro Statue and dragged it back parade style to the cavern's resident wizard to disenchant. Paying for the spell out of the beholder's treasure, Gallandro was restored.
Immediately after Gallandro's restoration, the group angrily charged right back to where they left off, and finally arrived at the Hydra Lair. A quick Blessing, Bull Strength, Mage Armor, Shield spell beat down later, the group emerged victorious and began to drag the unconscious hydra back to the wizard. Along the way, Gwendon and Kobort got into an argument - it seemed that Kobort focused on acquiring a pair of gloves of dexterity enough to start taking from the party treasure to accumulate enough gold to buy one. Gwendon began to rag him on and on about being a thief and the others finally had to put a stop to it. In the end, after giving the Wizard the hydra and purchasing the Lexicon of Deeds, the group returned to the barbarian caverns. There they set Balin and Arlinde to the task of coming up with prices for everything in the party treasure as well as everything that each person had gotten during the trip into the valley and divide the treasure up evenly.
After splitting up the loot, the next day the group completed the exploration of the caverns, with the only trouble being a trapped passage that took Kobort's arm - luckily, he had a ring of regeneration. After bypassing all of the traps, the cavern beyond turned out to be a moonshine storage cavern and a still. Taking approximately eight of the 50+ bottles of moonshine, the group slowly made their way back out of the cavern and returned to the clan caverns, with less than a week before the spring equinox, when the barbarians would leave to take their trade goods to the ancient city of Mythrazel!