- Jack The Kami is with a merchant caravan, owned by a man named Reginald.
- The caravan is being escorted by Captain Foren and his squad of Sartii Royal Guard all the way from Heiron (north east, near the Great Rift.)
- Ug Fu'lao and Derek Arkantos emerge from the Endrel Forest on their way to Rudik's, and the Great Desert beyond.
- They have been traveling together for 6+ months (see prelude stories.)
- Elik and a seemingly mundane gnome approach from Sartarus, to the west.
- The soon-to-be-party converges at intersection of the Great Eastern Road and the path up to Rudik's Pass.
- Captain Foren invites the other travelers to join the caravan as they're all headed to Rudik's Pass (as is customary.)
- The now enlarged caravan begins moving up the mountainside.
- Both Reginald's merchant guards and the Sartii Royal Guard are on alert due to known goblin presence in the area.
The First Quest, Enroute
Forecast "Seek Shelter Fast!":
- Sky is getting ominously dark, and the weather is moving fast.
- Derek notices that the storm approaching has moved faster than it should have.
- Warns both Captain Foren and Reginald.
- Debate ensues about whether they should stay below the tree line until the storm blows over, or press on up the mountain:
- Reginald demands to keep going, insisting he has a schedule to keep.
- Captain Foren is concerned, but also wants to press on if possible; the troops are headed to the front to join the ranks fighting against the Ravannese, and every hour matters.
- Derek counsels them to remain below the tree line.
- Eventually, Captain Foren declares that the group will press on for now, and turn back to the tree line if the storm gets too bad.
- Group continues moving, and shortly after passing the tree line, hail and rain begin to fall.
- Weather gets increasingly worse over the next 30 minutes, the group finds a large cave entrance and seeks shelter.
Discovery Of The Ancient Abode:
- Once inside, it becomes obvious that this is no natural cave; it was constructed long ago.
- Ancient remains of what were once paintings are evident on the walls.
- There are three stone doors in the large room, clearly an entrance to what must be a large underground structure.
- 5 minutes after the group is all inside, a bolt of lightning strikes the cliff face and causes a minor cave in, sealing the caravan (and the party) inside.
- Reginald demands that all of his guards, and the SRG troops, clear the cave-in so the group can leave.
- Captain Foren refuses, saying the weather is too dire, and they have to stay.
- Reginald protests, and turns to tell his guards to start without SRG assistance.
- Captain Foren makes it clear that he and his men will use force if necessary, to stop them from exposing the group to the dangerous weather.
- Jack tests all three doors, none are trapped but they are all locked.
The West Wing:
- He unlocks the west door, though it takes significant effort.
- Jack and Ug search the west chamber and find a stone chest.
- Upon opening it, a poisoned dart trap showers down, striking… Ug.
- Inside is treasure… (a magical headband and gold).
- Jack collects several darts.
- Jack and Ug return to the main room.
- Elik has alternately been reading a book about some language, and blabbing at his unassuming gnome companion, Derek, Captain Foren, Reginald, and anyone else who will stand there and take it.
- Derek has been avoiding Elik, and trying to keep the merchant's horses calm.
- Jack and Ug decide to open another door.
The East Wing:
- Jack and Ug discover three sarcophagi in the room, with strange faces embedded in the stonework.
- Unfortunately, the faces detach from the sarcophagi and attack… turns out they are vargoilles!
- Combat ensues… people get paralyzed in fear, vargoilles get killed by party members and Captain Foren (who runs down the hall when the sounds of battle begin).
- Meanwhile, Derek searches Reginald's carts while the caravan guards are distracted.
- He discovers a lot of adamantine ore, and several barrels hidden in the middle of the big cart.
- The barrels are completely sealed with wax.
- Jack, Ug and Elik discover some treasure… (a ring)
- A second nearby lightning strike rocks the mountainside structure.
- The remaining door (South) collapses.
- Moments later, a small horde of rats comes squealing and scratching into the room.
- Combat ensues… rats get killed pretty quick.
Deeper Into The Darkness:
- Reginald again demands that all of his guards, and the SRG troops, clear the cave-in so the group can leave.
- This time, Captain Foren agrees.
- The party (Ug, Derek, Jack, Elik & the gnome) decide to head into the south tunnel, and explore, while the troops and guards get busy moving loose rock.
- After a long tunnel, the group finds a chamber with a iron big grating in the floor, which is allowing rainwater to drain, and an exit to the south.
- There is a shaft of light from the ceiling, and a very long tunnel headed straight up from this room to the mountainside and open sky above. A rope hangs down form the top of this, dangling over the grate.
- There are several tables in the room with rusted sacrificial implements. This place looks evil.
- suddenly, a group of four hobgoblin barbarians rush into the room from the south exit!
- Combat ensues… javelins get thrown, people charge, some trip and fall, people hit each other, the little gnome stabs a hobgoblin that was charging at Elik and leaves a disproportionately large wound, the hobgoblins are defeated.
- The group continues on southward.
A Door Of Darkness:
- The party finds 2 doors, one south, one west.
- Jack discovers another dart trap around the west door, and disarms it.
- Jack unlocks the west door.
- They party opens the door, and sees a long tunnel.
- Jack unlocks the south door.
- The party opens the door, but beyond it is utter blackness —light from spells/torches and darkvision do not pierce beyond the door.
- On someone Jack's recommendation, Elik summons a creature and has it scout into the dark room.
- The party hears the summoned celestial dog get beaten to a pulp and thrown around the room, and quickly shuts and locks the door.
- Everyone starts debating what to do.
- The group sets up for combat in case anything comes out.
- The gnome takes off his hat and drops it to the ground, and the illusion disguising his appearance fades —he's not a gnome at all, but rather a Guardian in Scout Form (small size). He proceeds to transform to Standard Form and then War Form (large size).
- Everyone continues debating what to do, whether to explore the west tunnel first or deal with whatever's to the south.
- A pair of large hands break through the seems of the door to either side, and rip it inwards into the darkness!!!
Dusk Of The Dead:
- A zombified bugbear barbarian emerges from the darkness, and attacks the party.
- Combat ensues… trip contest with Ug and the zombie, Elik summons more monsters, Jack strikes at it several times and ends up entering the darkened room to get away, Jack discovers the impenetrable darkness is only a thin sheet at the door, the rest of the room is visible to his darkvision once inside (but now he can't see back outside.) Jack discovers an evil altar in the room and gold coins scattered across the floor. The group is having trouble slaying the zombie, and people are taking damage. Derek stabs the creature from the west tunnel opening, Jack stabs from the darkness finally slaying it.
- After the combat, the darkness shielding the door to the south room disappears.
- The altar in the center of the room cracks.
- Jack deftly steals the Hat of Disguise that the Guardian dropped, while no one's looking.
- As a distraction, he says he heard noise down the west tunnel. Elik knows he's lying, everyone else believes the bluff.
- Ug heads down the west tunnel.
- Elik loot's the fallen zombie knight.
- The Guardian introduces himself as Aegis 9.
- Derek searches the room with the altar. Has Elik help him.
- Ug heads into the west tunnel alone, and finds a room with webbing everywhere.
- Ug gets stuck in the webs at the doorway, but burns his way out.
- He enters the room to search what looks like body mounds.
- A big monstrous spider leaps from it's hiding place above to attack!
- Ug's spidey sense (har har) goes off and he is not surprised by the attack.
- Ug swats the spider and splatters it all over the walls, before it can reach him.
- Jack runs down and searches the room with Ug. They find treasure (pearl of power and some gold)
The Ancient Scourge:
- Derek is convinced there's more to the altar room than a few coins on the ground.
- Party searches determinedly and discovers the altar is in fact, hollow.
- Inisde they find a black flail with wicked runes all over it.
- The party takes the flail, carefully bundled in cloth.
The Way Out:
- The party returns to the room with the drain.
- Ug climbs up the rope and out the top.
- Ug finds hobgoblin tracks, and also discovers that the weather has calmed down.
- Ug finds a path back down to the entrance of the cave, where the cave-in happened, and begins helping to clear the rubble from the outside.
- Jack returns to the main chamber to check on progress, and inform Captain Foren that all's well.
- Captain Foren sends a pair of guards down the tunnel to investigate the room with the bodies.
- Jack hides the stolen Hat Of Disguise in the room, after the bodies have been searched.
- The party congregates in the main entrance chamber, and debrief Captain Foren and Reginald on what happened.
- The rubble is finally cleared, and the caravan leaves.
- Jack retrieves the Hat Of Disguise before leaving.
- The caravan & party continue up the mountainside, to Rudik's Pass…
Adventures In Rudik's Pass
Arrival At The North Gate:
- Ug offers to help Elik walk as the group gets higher up the mountain.
- The temperature drops. People start putting on cold weather attire.
- After rounding the last bend in the snake trail, the caravan and party approach Rudik's Pass via the North Gate.
- The ground is covered in snow.
- There are several Sartii Royal Guards standing at the gate, which is open.
- Jack gets wierd looks from the gate guards, being a kobold, but Captain Foren vouches for him.
- The group enters Rudik's Pass.
…TO BE CONTINUED
Aegis 9 leaves the group, UG prays
Checking in at the Inn, getting some sleep (finally!)
Rumors of Rudik's Pass
The South Gate Is Locked, Ravannese Blockade
The Disappearance Of The Miners
Political Enmity Between The Mayor And The Commander Of The SRG
Knights of the Last Stand
The Two Rude Dwarves
Party Squabble, Derek Take Some Alone Time (sees the Ravannese Blockade over the South Wall, down the mountain)
Spontaneously Combusting Carts… and merchants.
Research On The Mines
Errors In Arcane Baking — The Calzone Golem
The Two Rude Dwarves Part II - Greasefest!
Turning Over The Ancient Scourge To The Priest
Another Party Squabble
Arrival Of Veterans (More Knights, Another G.o.S.Magi and Guardian, etc)