Title: Kalburn Stonehammer
Date: Mid Dalan, 1333 Avard
Synopsis: A grizzled dwarf on a hippotaun comes looking to see how much Meridian Explorations knows about Vaden Talross, and the dwarf's geas forces him to attack the company.
Midmorning of the 24th of Dalan, 1332 Avard.
The company had been up late chasing the second sons and the gold shipment that never was. Greff took a nap and then began writing his book about the food and drink of the region. Aeron took the opportunity to catch up on the myriad details of his duties within the church. Corrin tagged along with Arkhan out of boredom, while Arkhan went about taking care of general maintenance with his arms and armor.
Later, Aeron managed to round Arkhan and Corrin up, and gave them a tour of the city. They saw the galleries of the Swaddled Blade, the libraries and the vault of the Stamp of Peace, the inner workings of the engineers at the Deep Ditch temple of Mikindim, and the oracle of the Temple of Destinies.
Arkhan, welcomed in all the religious sites as a paladin, despite his dragonborn appearance, asked the monk at the Temple of Destinies for a reading of his prophecy by the priest of Brigain that resided there, a drow'ari named Storm. The monk said that Arkhan should return in the evening, when Storm would return, and Arkhan agreed.
Aeron continued his tour of the city, including a stop for a late lunch at the Order. The site of a Captain of the Guard with the dragonborn in plate, and the halfling that was curious about everything, made for an entertaining repast among the stodgy and stiff-lipped merchants and higher priests of the Order.
That evening, they returned to the Temple of Destinies, where they met the drow'ari Storm. She was of a general elven appearance, though her bat-like wings were clasped around her like a cloak, giving her a demonic air when coupled with her clawed feet. The drow had been shock troops of the Dark God in centuries past. When the Dark God had been defeated, his experiments upon the drow came to light; drow'ari were drow fused or bred or enchanted sometimes beyonds the means of recognition.
Brigain was the God of Destinies, the God of Storms. Many considered him the most powerful of the gods, for he could see the future, and was a core part of the panthon of the gods and goddesses of Gaeleth. There were few priests ofBrigain, for to attempt to become such a priest required ascending the Tower of Destinies in the far east. Most who attempted the ascention were burned to a crisp by the lightning wrath of Brigain, but those who survived had considerable power: lightning at their fingertips, and the power to foresee the future.
About Storm's neck hung an elegant chain of darkest ebonite. The chain held a black lightning bolt of ebonite, though it crackled with lightning and promised pain to anyone not a priest of the God of Storms.
There was a thunderclap and the skitterings of lightning that did not form, and Arkhan was thrown half way across the temple's marble floors, unharmed. Brigain had spoken through Storm: the dragonborn would fulfil a destiny that many paladins seek, to die gloriously in battle against the foes of his god; but, above all else, he must beware Nathel.
Nathel, the Dark God, had been killed twice already.
The prophecy pealed throughout the city, its thunder echoing in every priest of every god. News of the prophecy would travel, for they were rare, and often recorded. They were not set in stone; not every prophecy came true; but they were worth recording.
Storm had a bed roll brought out for the paladin. She explained that, if he was going to avoid Nathel, then he would need all the help he could get. The bedroll, after a night's rest in it, would give the sleeper dreams that might help him in his quest.
Arkhan mounted up on his trusty draestrier, and rode outside of town for awhile that evening, thinking hard about the prophecy and what it meant.
The next day was clear and beautiful. Greff enjoyed the time to write more on his book, taking time off for the first time in nearly a month. When he thought back on all that had happened in the last month, it reminded him of the time, nearly half a year passed, that he had worked for a reeve in Teras named Joshua. Joshua had retired; Count Stonegrudge was missing; and Teras had turned into a black cesspool of crime lords. Greff had done some considerable skull-cracking in his time, perhaps killed a few snots that deserved it, but he was not one of those kinds; he was not one of the thugs of Teras. He had left, and was glad he did. Working for Hershel reminded him of those good times, before the crime lords in Teras, when he had worked for Reeve Joshua.
Greff went out for fresh supplies, and ran into one of the off-duty Guardsmen that he knew. The Guardsman indicated that there was a dwarf asking after Meridian Explorations down at the Scarlet Armor tavern. The dwarf, or so the Guardsman indicated, had ridden into town on a huge hippotaun.
Hippotauns were the cavalry of the elite dwarven troops of Rakore. They were big, nasty brutes that could travel fast, eat anything, and carry half a dozen dwarves in full armor into a tussel.
Greff was intrigued. On the way, he ran into Arkhan and Aeron and Corrin, and invited them to go with him. They agreed, and the four walked and talked, sharing information.
The Scarlet Armor was a dive, catering to the sailors that came into the port. It was crowded, but there was an obvious hole in the crowd where a dwarf was asking questions, and getting few replies. Meridian Explorations had a reputation in the city, and the towering dragonborn Arkhan coupled with the blue-and-white surcoat of the Guard on Aero, coupled with the familiar face (and fists) of Greff the Githzerai, meant that the company had no trouble from the sailors and stevedores that crowded the bar and its booths.
The company got the dwarf into a booth, made introductions, and began asking questions. The dwarf's name was Kalburn, of the Stonehammer clan. Aeron sat up a bit straighter. Just that morning, William had been remarking that, in the records of Valen, there was a dwarf of the Stonehammer clan that had traveled extensively with Valen Talross in those decades passed. Aeron knew that the Stonehammer clan was assumed wiped out; their mountains had sunk into the sea during the War of the Undead. The Stonehammers were considered no more.
Kalburn Stonehammer was a grizzled veteran dwarf, with a bit of gray about his beard, scars and scarred chain that was well kept, and attentive and intelligent gray eyes. Kalburn wanted to know how much Meridian Explorations knew about Valen Talross, but was careful to ask only leading questions, and avoid giving any kind of information.
Aeron, seeing the situation as somewhat delicate, asked for a change of venue – see the Ducal Mage's tower, and William, who could answer more questions than Captain Aeron could.
The dwarf agreed, and met them outside, where he gave them all a ride on his hippotaun, Orc Dung. The hippotaun, despite it's name, was a relatively gentle beast with scars from many battles showing under the plate barding that the beast easily carried around. Aeron, Arkhan, and Corrin enjoyed the short ride to the Ducal Mage's tower, giving directions when needed but otherwise asking few questions.
The Guard assigned to the tower opened the door for them, and, dismounted, they stepped inside the tower. Kalburn enjoyed seeing the massive skins upon the walls: a giant boar, a dire snowfell, a cave troll, and a stuffed elderwood falcon.
Kalburn assumed that William was Hershel, the Ducal Mage, and the situation had to be clarified. When Kalburn was introduced as a Stonehammer, William was ecstatic, and began asking a long string of questions. The scribe missed the warning signs, as his questions sent Kalburn from consternation, into possession. Kalburn's eyes rolled up into his head, and then they began to glow with a holy light. A geas had been laid upon the dwarf, compelling him when the situation demanded it.
The dwarf was up on the table before anyone could react, his hammer in his hand. William was laid out cold, lucky the blow did not kill him. Aeron attended to William to ensure he survived, while Arkhan, Greff, and Corrin did their best to contain the dwarf without hurting him. The dwarf, on the other hand, had no such compunctions – and he was a tough old dwarf, with his hammer in one hand and his dagger in the other.
The hammer proved to be enchanted, for whenever it struck, a concussive shockwave would be pumped out, knocking people back, and sending papers and documents flying from off the table.
Greff hit the dwarf with all his considerable strength – and it was like hitting stone. The dwarf was tough, and shrugged off whatever damage they dealt him, determined in his geas to lay them all low.
Arkhan proved well nigh invulnerable against the dwarf's onslaught, and the geas apparently recognized a no-win situation. Kalburn took the door off its hinges fleeing, startling the guard as he mounted up on Orc Dung the hippotaun.
Greff followed, leaping into Orc Dung's back in a continuing attempt to subdue the dwarf, as the rest of the company streamed out of the tower. William was stable and would be all right, and so Aeron moved out of the tower just in time to see Arkhan knocked back by the hippotaun's attack. Aeron then found himself having the life squeezed out of him by a massive clawed foot, as the hippotaun stood upon him and attempted to defend Kalburn, whom Greff and Corrin had managed to knock off of the huge mount.
Corrin managed to hobbled Orc Dung as he tried to flee, but not for long enough. The mount shook off the company, made it a good fifty feet before Corrin hobbled it again, her small hand crossbow packing more of a punch than anyone would have guessed. The hippotaun flipped over on an apple cart, destroying the cart and nearly crushing the carter.
The company was on the scene before the Guard could even blink, and then the situation was contained. Kalburn was trussed in good spider silk rope, as were Orc Dung's feet. Captain Aeron paid the apple carter for his troubles and sent the man happily on his way.
Removing a geas was no easy task, but the rituals for such were kept in the Swaddled Blade's library. Aeron went to the library to get such a scroll, and decided to check the heraldic references as to a ring that Kalburn had worn. The ring itself apparently signified guardianship of some perilous task, and the emblem had been seen before – on a tomb outside the city, belonging to the older village of Kaerling.
Sometime that afternoon, William was back on his feet, despite a massive headache. He had quite a task ahead of him, repairing and reorganizing all of the documents and books pertaining to Valen. Several of the more fragile documents had been nearly destroyed in the fighting, frustrating William considerably.
Kalburn, once the geas was relieved, was a bit more willing to talk – but only a bit. He had, indeed, been friends with Valen. Kalburn was all that was left of Valen's party, Dardis in Teras having been only a handler that saw them occasionally. The dwarf refused to talk about some of what Valen saw or did, stating only that pursuing things as they were, Meridian Explorations ran the risk of exposing something that was best left buried. Valen and his party had found something – something that made Valen retire, and laid a geas on the surviving members of the party.
Aeron read to Kalburn the ME logs of the trip to Valen's Manse, the first expedition of Meridian Explorations. The conditions of Valen's death were horrid, dying as he did of dehydration and starvation, trapped with the rest of the villagers in his secret basement, as the ograns ravaged his home for wood and left too much stone gathered on the secret door to the basement, unable to dig themselves out.
Kalburn said that he would return, and consider divulging more, but because Valen had not been interred, the dwarf wanted to at least bury the remains of his old friend. The Stonehammer said that he would likely be back in a few days. Reegel, another member of the adventuring party, was buried in the old cemetery of Kaerling; Valen would likely be emplaced next to him.
Meridian Explorations let him go, feeling as though they would not see him again. Kalburn's tale – and lack thereof – raised considerable questions about the task of finding out what it was Valen had done, and where he had gone.
Afternoon of the 25th of Dalan, 1332 Avard.
I had prepared quite a bit more for the evening, but the rest will likely wait until the next session. The battle with Kalburn was fantastic, and as usual, the company surprised me with their initiative, tact, and ability to handle the situation. The bit about the prophecy was totally unplanned; I had forgotten about the Temple of Destinies, for the most part, but I'm glad that Dave pushed for a tour of the city. I happened to have a Bedroll of Dreams item card that had been sitting around, waiting for the right opportunity to make its way into the company, and Dave presented me with an excellent opportunity for that.
All characters have 18,500 experience points and are 9th-level.
Looks to me as if the DM has already said he's going to kill my character… -.-
Doh! I warned my prey. >.<
I had to leave early. But thankfully, Joe likes me enough that he hasn't booted me from the group. I will continue to kill a sheep everytime I am late to appease the great DM god Joe.
Greff's Orc friends should be arriving soon from Chasadan to assist in the construction of Meridian Exploration's new headquaters. He has also begun writing his book about traveling the lands he has encountered in the past month, although it felt as if Greff has lived a lifetime. I'm excited to hear back from Hershel when he arrives back from the Ducal Mage. He will be able to clarify the note I recieved about some race.. a Gyth..Grys.. Greff?? That's what I am. I'm a Greff.
I can't, not, kill someone with my hands
Tiny and a few of the other orcs should, indeed, be arriving soon. Be interesting to see how they integrate into Chasadan, and how they handle the Meridian Manse they're intended to help build. Looks like quite a menagerie going on in Meridian Explorations: Greffs, orcs, and the gods alone know what else!