Date: Fall, 1332 Avard
Master Walker of the Procurators had already spotted a potential recruit in nearby Kashin – a tough halfing lass that had killed several men who molested her. Walker – a member of the Council in Boulderdash – was a well-liked, influential, and wise man of middle years. And in his youth, he had hidden more than a few bodies of his own. He liked the spark he saw in the halfling named Nedda, and so he had invited her out to Boulderdash for a chance to earn a share of treasures found.
A small group that could have been an adventuring guild in itself approached the Procurators' master not long after. A bear rider dwarf from the Stonehelm clan traveled with an older human mage, and they had been friends for decades. With them were two statues of moving gears and steel and bronze, powered by crystals of some sort – and a mount of the same strange metal and energy to carry them. One of the statues carried a shield as tall as itself built into one arm, and the other arm was itself a blade. All three statues seemed to blow with a faint orange light from within. The statues – warforged, if the rumors were true – seemed friends with the Stonehelm dwarf and the human mage.
Master Walker thought that he might could kill two birds with one stone. The Investors, those who poured money into the Procurators in exchange for a share of the wealth, had tasked them with investigating a portion of the woods south and west of Boulderdash. It would be a two day ride to an outcropping of rock in the deep forest, circled on the map with barbed vines and labeled 'Vine Master' in a dialect of elven. The Investors thought that it might be related to an incident that had occurred not long ago at the Star's End Monastery involving blood-sucking vines that could kill a man and then walk in his skin. If the 'Vine Master' or the blood vines were related, even through the centuries of age on the map, then the Investors needed to know.
After two days of icy wet days and freezing cold nights, the team reached the general vicinity of the spot on the map labeled as 'Vine Master'. There were blood vines aplenty. Thorfinn Stonehelm recognized them easily enough; he and other Stonehelms often used them for self flagellation as proof of their adulthood. The blood vines grew singly and alone in the Warkore mounts. But they spied hundreds, perhaps thousands, increasing in density as they grew nearer to a 300 foot tall escarpment of solid rock.
Cornelius' abilities with the arcane were matched by Aragonite the warforged's powers, and together they started a crown fire among the trees in the hopes of burning out the blood vines. Aragonite's warforged mount Zwei dug them a chamber into the ground in the midst of a meadow to escape the worst of the conflagration that burned for several days. The arcane powers that ignited the crown fire also purified the air and made their visit in the burrow more tolerable, while the warforged machine Bastion held the entrance with his large shield.
Once the fire had dissipated enough for the party to leave, they went topside to discover twelve miles squared of forest burned away – and no bloodvines. The way to the pinnacle was cleared. At the base of the pinnacle, they could see the ruins of an ancient dwarven fortification that looked to Thorfinn and Aragonite to once have been an mine over a millennium ago.
They approached the pinnacle and the abandoned mine with caution, seeing all but vultures moving as the wildfire continued to burn off in the distance and smoke escaped the earth in random places. The blackened ground and gray granite only served to highlight the blood vines that streamed out of the mine, where they had been safe from the crown fire.
Leading the blood vines was one who wore ragged robes of some sort. He launched a bilious green ball of arcane power that flared into a mass of harsh thorns around some of the team, pinning them in place. Nedda immediately disappeared, perhaps fleeing the battle. Thorfinn and Cornelius and Aragonite gave battle, going on the offensive and seeking to kill blood vines faster than they could rise up out of the mine. Adding to the numbers, though, some of the blood vines were growing more from the seeds below the scorched earth near the mine.
Arcane powers and axes and blades and shields and claws gave battle to the blood vines, making progress, however slowly. Suddenly, Nedda appeared, her arcane powers hammering the blood vine master and hurling him backwards down into the mine. The other blood vines immediately followed their master into the mine.
An arcane light dropped down the mine shaft that was some fifteen feet wide. Passages swept out from the shaft as it fell, and the light illuminated hundreds more blood vines deep within the mines. The fire had not killed them; it had driven them, pushing them deep. Rather than let them escape, Aragonite's warforged mount and Theorfinn's bear, together, heaved a massive bit of masonry in place to help secure the mine and slow the egress of the blood vines.
DM's Notes: Ross and Paul wanted to play with some new ideas, and so they generated a spate of new characters. Sommer got crafty and didn't tell us what she made, making us guess as the evening progressed. We ran late, due to character generation and getting familiar with new characters, but they managed to wrap things up around 11pm. This whole 'playing only on Thursday evenings' bit has worked well for years, but I think we're going to need an occasional Saturday play to really get our geek on. Almost forgot; we've been at 2nd Level for all sessions until that night, when I let them level up to 3rd level.
Reference: Campaign IX
Lots of fun, just wish my dwarf would have been a little more viable in that battle. Cornelius really made me want to play Felix again, though!
I do have plans on creating another fellow to help figure out this “Vedik” issue though. I may introduce him next time, even if I don't play him!