The longest winter

Letting off steam

second adventure

The party:

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

It has been a couple of days since their return from the peat cutter’s camp. During this time, Marellian was studying the items that were found in the lair of the undead Dryad. He gives his verdict on them, but a couple of characters feel they need a second opinion.

A young Tiefling rogue, called Rayne, joins up with the group after finishing a ‘re-education course’. Frank seems to take a liking to her, and she is admitted to the party without much fuss.

While wandering the streets of the Low Quarter, Daveak announces his intention to have his new necklace appraised by a jeweler. Marellian has told him it is a necklace of strangulation, and his is unsure what to do with it. He spies a merchant’s shop, and wanders inside, hoping to find directions to the nearest jeweler. The rest of the party follow him inside, where they discover a seller of foodstuff. Elden seems interested in the merchant’s wares, but after finding out there is a jeweler in the next block, Daveak is keen to go.

Meanwhile, Marellian (who is sulking outside because they want a second opinion) overhears two old ladies talking about missing people.Thinking back to the dead body the party found on their way to the peat cutter’s camp, he asks them if they know of any themselves. When he inquires, they tell him that many townsfolk are frequenting the soup kitchen set up by the compassionate church, and some of them have most likely wandered out into the snowy waste to either end it all or find work elsewhere. At that point, the others return from visiting the jeweler’s shop.

It seems the jeweler had examined Daveak’s necklace, and informed him that it was in fact an old piece, used by druids to train their apprentices. The wearer of the necklace would be able to approach wild animals without spooking them, as the necklace masks the scent of the wearer. As an added bonus, this meant that the wearer could not be tracked by scent. Daveak informed the jeweler that he had been told that it was a necklace of strangulation, to which the jeweler laughed. Hearing this, Elden becomes suspicious that his find is more than just a rusty old gauntlet.

With time on their hands, the party decide to visit a nearby inn, where they find an empty table. The Inn seems very quiet, with only three or four patrons, but it is early in the day. Daveak and Rayne go to the bar, where Rayne is mistaken for a child by the barmaid. Service seems very slow considering they are the only ones asking for drinks.

One of the council’s half Orc guards enters the inn, sees the party, and strides over. Without introduction, he simply tells them they are wanted in the council chamber, and walks out again. They scramble to folow, calling to Daveak and Rayne at the bar. The barmaid watches them go, still without pouring their drinks, and bemoans to herself that she should have asked for the money up front.

Out in the street, they follow the guard, when a hissing sound can be heard. Suddenly, a jet of steam envelopes the guard, scolding him quite badly. Daveak applies first aid to the guard, while the others examine the source of the steam. It would seem that one of the pipes supplying heat to the town has burst, and looks as if it has rusted through. The guard stoically continues on to the council chamber, without even thanking Daveak.

In the council chamber, they are met by councillor Parathion, who introduces a young man with her as Andrews. Councillor Parathion is from the Cinder path guild, who are responsible for the township’s heating system. She explains that several of the pipes have been found to have rusted through, which should be impossible, as they were created centuries ago and protected from such an occurance by magic. Something is causing the pipes to deteriorate, and she asks the party to look into it. She reassures them that during their time in the area affected the heat and pressure will be reduced, as a precaution.

Elden takes this opportunity to ask councillor Parathion about his rusty gauntlet. He figures as a member of the magic guild she should be able to identify it. She tells him it is a gauntlet of rust, which will protect him from any attacks that might cause rusting. It also allows him to use a ‘rusting grasp’ once a day.

The party realise that the councillor has yet to discuss their payment for the job, and ask her how much they will be paid. she replies that they will each get 50gp, which divides the party. Some think that this is fair for four hours work, while others think it should be more. Rayne attempts to bargain with the councillor, with great success, and she is forced to admit that she was also saving part of the reward as a surprise. On completion, they will each get a minor magic item. This cheers them up, and they are eager to be off. Andrews, who is one of the team that monitors the heat system, leads them to the access point nearest the breaches.

Andrews leads them down into a small room which is an access point to the heat system. He produces a small wand, which he calls a ‘spell-spanner’ (to sniggers) and explains that this deactivates the wards on the door, allowing entry. After showing Marellian how it works, he wishes them good luck, and heads off. Marellian tries it on the door, which opens. Loraella decides she will go first to scout the way.

A short way inside the doorway, Loraella discovers faintly glowing runes, which she cannot decipher. She calls to her brother to take a look. He tells everyone that the runes themselves make no sense, but they seem to have magic embued in the writing. Elden touches the runes, and a small bolt of elecricity sends him sprawling back. Marellian then decides to touch the runes with the end of the spell-spanner, and melts the end of the spanner. Frank can be heard back at the doorway saying; “Idiot”. He and Rayne join the group, but as they near the runes, Rayne feels a little queasy. This makes the party paranoid about traps, but Marellian suggests that it might have something to do with her demonic ancestry making her more susceptible to the runes. They pass by the runes without further ill effect.

After exploring a couple of areas without noticing anything, they come to an intersection. Frank looks down a corridor leading east, and spots two strange worm-like creatures that appear to be feeding on the metal plating of the corridor. Daveak, Elden and Frank rush into melee, while the others ready missile weapons. The first worm falls easily to Daveak’s longsword, while Frank and Elden take care of the other. During the fight, Marellian lets off a crossbow bolt, which clatters harmlessly off the ceiling. The shock of realising he could have hit one of his friends sends the mage into a faint, and he falls back into a puddle of water. Loraella scolds him for his foolishness, after she has slapped him awake. Frnk asks if anyone has a bag they can put the bodies in, to take them back for identification, as he’s pretty sure nothing like this has been seen in Flint-Harrow before. Loraella gives him an empty sack she was hoping to fill with treasure.

Frank, Elden and Rayne take off down the corridor east, nimbly stepping around the rust affected areas. Meanwhile, Daveak, Loraella and Marellian take a corridor north, where Daveak comes face to face with a large monstrous centipede. Marellian charges in, wielding his wooden quarterstaff, and deals it a sound blow on the head. Elden, on hearing sounds of battle, takes an intersecting corridor, hoping to catch whatever foe the others have found from the rear, while Frank and Rayne continue onwards east, where they find a further three of the strange worms.

With a stupendous blow, Daveak kills the monstrous centipede, just as Elden appears to join in the battle. Frank and Rayne find their three opponents fairly easy, and Rayne kills two to Frank’s one. The room in which they found these worms is a dead end, so they retrace their steps until they rejoin the others. There, they find that Daveak has carved the corpse of the centipede, and everyone is eating barbequed leg of centipede. Frank takes two, as he’s worked up an appetite.

Elden remarks that they must be pretty close to where the half Orc guard was scolded by steam, and maybe they should look out for breaches in the pipe ahead. Travelling east, they find such a breach, and when they look into the hole, find a nest of small monstrous centipedes. They take no time at all in squashing these vermin, and Marellian finds a pair of boots inside the centipede nest, which he shakes the rubbish out of, and puts on. He then asks his sister if she can help him with the laces, much to the party’s amusement.

Further on, the corridor opens into another small room, in which the party finally encounter rust monsters. Elden, emboldened by the fact his gauntlet gives him immunity to the monster’s rusting attacks, charges in. He is the only party member to go into melee, while the others stand back and shoot. Elden kills one of the rust monsters, while the other takes a few hits from crossbow bolts, and finally falls to Marellian’s magic missile. Elden has taken a couple of bite wounds, but he doesn’t ask for aid from Daveak, instead marching on to find more foes.

Loraella, who has been watching out for further runic symbols, finds yet another set in the corridor wall. As before, these runes make Rayne feel queasy, but there is no further danger from them. Marellian remarks that maybe their potency has dulled over time, and this is one reason why there are now rust monsters running about in the tunnels. Frank asks him why the monsters would be able to survive, given the heat supposedly in these tunnels usually, but Marellian has no answer to that. Their conversation is brought short by Elden, who has found another rust monster ahead. He kills it with one mighty blow, before the rest of the party have even readied their weapons.

Finally, the party reach a large chamber, riddled with rust. There are several spent pupae casings lying around, and bits of old rags and linen scattered around. Rayne steps into the room, and peers through one of the holes in the floor. Below her, she sees an enormous rust monster, it’s feelers gently turning some of the thousands of eggs that make up it’s brood. Rayne realises that if these eggs were to hatch, the whole heating system would be destroyed.

Elden takes the lead, jumping down onto the giant rust monster’s back, and plunging his greatsword into it’s segmented body. Frank jumps down too, but tries to ride the rust monster as if it were a mount. It is unsure if Marellian meant to jump down, or simply fell through a hole, but he bravely faces the rust monster, while squishing eggs underfoot. the others stat in the chamber above, and fire down onto the rust monster.

Elden gives the rust monster a death blow, and is crushed as it topples over on top of him. Frank manages to dive clear. After a brief discussion about leaving Elden beneath the body or trying to dig him out, the party decide to save their comrade, and Frank cuts off the giant rust monster’s head. They climb out of the hole, and make their way back to the surface. There, they are met by Andrews, and after taking Elden to be looked after by clerics of the compassionate church, they return to the council chamber.

Councillor Parathion is pleased to see that they have returned, and doubly pleased that they thought to bring back bodies of the strange rust worms. She tells the party she cannot be sure, but the worms seem to be a mutation from rust monsters. The immense size of the rust monster head they brought back also gives her cause for concern, as these things are not meant to grow that large. There is still a mystery as to how they got into the system in the first place, and how they managed to survive there, and eat the magically protected metal. she decides to shut off that portion of the system until a guild repair team have been in and cleaned it up. Thanking the party, she allows them a lucky dip into her bag of minor magic items. Loraella is first, and gets a potion of spider climb. Daveak gets a potion of sneaking, Elden pulls out a ring of warmth, Frank gets a wand of detect magic, Marellian fumbles around until he pulls out a scroll of magic weapon, and Rayne gets an ever burning torch. As an added bonus, the councillor gives them a +1 shield, deep red in colour. The party scratch their heads at this, as none of them see the need to use shields. It is suggested they could sell it, or wait until a new member of their team was to turn up.

With another adventure over, they still have not found anyone who could identify the clothes they took from the corpse in the Shelter wood, have vague hints about missing people they are yet to look into, and now are left wondering how rust monsters were able to get into the heating system.

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BarryParker

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