In Laskon on day 31, after the ankheg attack, I helped with the clean up, filling holes and making repairs, setting things back to rights. A pair of local wizards, an elf and a dwarf, both in robes, arranged that one hole not be filled, but instead be roped off. I overheard a few things while helping out. One dwarf muttered something about a great fire opal never being found. I should find out more about this. One of the dwarves blamed the empire for the attack, for other monsters, for everything it seems. While this may be a possibility, I just don’t know. I hope not.
When the work was done and no one around, I checked out the unfilled hole and found a tunnel leading away to the south at the bottom of the hole. I decided not to check it out without the others, so I climbed back up and went to the inn to find them.
Back in the inn, Piper reported that 4 guards were killed, 2 injured, and 3 civilians were killed and 4 injured. It was a sad day for Laskon. I told the others about the hole that didn’t get filled and about the wizards in town. That night, we had a chance to talk with many townsfolk and heard or overheard a lot of tales and rumors. Scarkill, a local semi-retired warrior, and local miners have been recruited to assist with guard duty. Some of the dwarves think it odd the ankhegs showed up right after we did. Perhaps we should be very circumspect for a bit here til we prove ourselves…. Though our efforts in the fight should help in that regard.
One of the dwarves thinks that Stravella might be behind the attack. Mac told us that Stravella, also called Queen of Winter’s Mourning, is a powerful magic user who lives in a crystal tower north of a city called Hammerfast, which is north of Laskon. She uses her magic to keep her gardens green. Her gardens are reputed to be filled with dangerous plants, werecreatures and murderous fey. Those who invade her realm are said never to return. She looks to expand her realm but herself cannot stray far from her tower, which lies in a valley called Summerdown.
Speaking of Hammerfast, we learned that it is a dwarven city north of here, beyond Glimmerpeak and Glimmerlake. Apparently the city grew on the site of an old dwarven Necropolis and ghosts live side by side with the living there. There was once a great battle on the site between dwarves and orcs. It was so fierce that Moradin and Gruumsh, the dwarven and orcish gods intervened and made a peace in the city – dwarves and orcs tolerate each other there and temples exist to both gods, the city being sacred to both faiths. Piper said there was a temple to Pelor there too, a famous one that though open to the sky year round, was always temperate inside. The city is full of tombs, as to be expected from a necropolis.
The road to Hammerfast is a trade route and supposedly beset with bandits, including spider goblins who raid caravans on the road.
That night, Ceri sang at the inn and did very well for herself, earning a lot of silvers. She made up a song about the fight with the ankhegs which the dwarves really enjoyed.
A self-important looking dwarf came into the inn and announced that there would be a town meeting tomorrow morning.
Ceri and Piper took baths and Ceri cast a spell to clean our clothes. We stayed in rooms at the inn – it was nice to have a full night’s sleep for a change.
Day 32 dawned what seemed early, but we had a lot to do that day. Ceri and I went shopping, sold those javelins from the bugbears and the daggers we got from the orcs. We also cashed in our gems for gold.
We found a booth where Calan, the elvish wizard’s apprentice sold talismans and potions. Calan is a half elf who told us about Ondran, his master, and Gronde Clubfoot the dwarven mage. He identified our potions as cure light wounds for a small fee and said he’d talk to his master about identifying our other items. Ceri made the mistake of telling him his talismans were fakes. I don’t think that kind of talk, especially in the open, is likely to ingratiate us with him or his master.
We also went to Astlof’s booth and left a message with his apprentice that we’d like to see him and we told the apprentice where we could be found.
We talked to a few other town residents while shopping to learn what we could about anything local that was of interest. Ceri learned that Calistryx, an evil dragon, had something to do with a wizard named Starris. We didn’t learn much more than their names though. Also, there was supposedly heavy monster activity around someplace called High Peak in the spring.
One of the locals mentioned that he thought these bugs never left the swamp. We asked around more about this swamp. It is south of Laskon and contains all kinds of critters – big alligators, giant spiders, frog people, and lizards that shoot lightning.
Finally it was time to go to the town meeting. Everyone was gathering at the guild halls. We found the place. Three large guild halls dominated this section of town. One was for Lore, one for Craft and one for Trade. On the steps of the Lore Guild House were 5 figures – the Mayor, an elderly dwarf; Tom Ironshield, captain of the guard, wearing full plate and a symbol of Moradin; the sgt of the guard we’d met when we first arrived in town; Gronde Clubfoot, the dwarven wizard; and Ondran, the elf wizard.
They talked for a bit about the attacks and really were there more to try to reassure the townsfolk than anything else. There was mention of a reward for finding the source of the attack.
I talked to Tom Ironshield and told him we would try to find out what we could.
After the town meeting, we checked out the unfilled hole and tunnel. The tunnel ran south for a distance, but ended suddenly. Anders could find no sign of any other creatures than us and the ankheg itself in the tunnel. He thinks the tunnel ended because the ankheg was shoving dirt behind it as it tunneled (as opposed to collapsing later). Nothing was found here that could help us determine the source of the attack.
Back at the inn later, Astloff came in. We told him Delgarion said we should ask about the special dark. He had Mac serve us some wonderful dark ale, special for us. Apparently it is never sold to the empire, so it is very unique. It was really good.
We talked to Astloff for a bit, and he told us about a recluse wizard with an apprentice named Ance. The wizard himself guards his own identity fiercely. He might be able to do what I need – remove this damned tattoo. His prices are steep, but not unusually so. He is rumored to have once been one of the red robes himself once.
He also told us of a dwarven wizard in Hammerfast who might be able to help me. His name is Grirdil, and he is a ghost, having died in the battle for Hammerfast. To gain his favor though, one needs to prove their worth. He is usually found at the Lore Guildhouse in Hammerfast, where he teaches. Ceri seemed quite interested in visiting a Lore Guildhouse in a city where she could join the Guild. Apparently, the guild is not active in Laskon, so she will have to see about perhaps joining in Hammerfast.
Gronde came in and talked to us later as well. He offered to ID our items, apologizing for his colleague who never contacted us. Apparently, Ceri had angered Ondran by insulting his wares. We sent the two items (bracers and wand) with Gronde for the night.
Ceri played and sang at the Stone Dragon that night, and I helped out a little, humming some back up during her second set. It was fun, but a little strange. I’ve never sung or performed in front of people before, but Ceri seemed a little off her game and needed a little help. Not sure I’d want to make a habit out of it. People were like, watching me and stuff. I felt very embarrassed.
I was hoping to buy a skin of the special dark to take with us, but apparently the offer of it is very selective and only to be had at Astloff’s direction. So instead I had Mac fill the skin with his best regular ale – something we could all enjoy on our travels.
The night passed uneventfully again.
Gronde returned the next morning with our items and told us the wand casts a spell called mirror image and has 9 charges and that the bracers provided armor as if wearing studded leather. I sold my armor and am wearing the bracers now. I am less encumbered this way. Gronde told us the cost would be 240 gold OR we could find some items for him when we go to the swamp. He wants 2 glands from shocker lizards and a pound of yellow fungi mushroom spores. He gave us containers for both items and we agreed to try. We will either find what he wants and deliver it, or return to pay him for the identification of our items.
Midmorning of day 33, we left for the swamp. It should take us about a day and a half to get there, which will give us two or three days to search for the items and the source of the attacks before we have to escort Piper back to Highmeadow to help birth Nathaniel’s child. That first night we slept in a local farmer’s barn.
On day 34 we entered the swamp. It is mucky and wet here and I don’t like it much. We did find a dry hillock to camp on that night. Ceri set snares for lizards and traplines with bells as a warning system. Sometime during Ceri’s watch, I woke to hear her screaming. I leapt to my feet to discover we were being attacked by giant spiders. I drew my weapons and the fight ensued. When it was over, we had killed four giant spiders. Ceri and Piper were both poisoned. Piper healed both of them the damage they had taken, but both of them felt weakened.
Day 35 was just as dismal as yesterday. Piper was able to help return some of Ceri’s lost strength, and will help her more tomorrow. We need to press on regardless.