The Thundering

A Diplomatic Mission

We had left our fellows as they returned to Lord Vladistone in the Forunian capitol of Hammerfast, fresh from their victories in the deep places of the world. Hammerfast, it seemed, however, had more problems than simple earthquakes now, though. Vladistone had received a pair of letters from the Akhanati government within days of each other, one requesting a trade agreement, while the other set forth an ultimatum with the threat of military force. Vladistone asked that our heroes act as emissaries for Forun and go to Saladir, the Akhanati capitol, in an attempt to glean the meaning of these messages. Meanwhile, Vladistone was unable to ignore a possible threat to the south, so he moved what armed forces he had to the Akhanati-Forunian border as a preventative measure. He gave the stand-in diplomats a warning to preserve the stability of Akhanat as much as possible.

The heroes made their journey south in the company of the eclectic merchant Jan Ludendorff, a Pirithian merchant who happened to be making the journey to Saladir himself. The nervous, seemingly mild-mannered man with the thick accent made some of the party, particularly Koradar, rather edgy. However, Ludendorff assured them that while he was a poor merchant, he was not unprepared for the journey. Taking the merchant at his word proved to be a fateful decision as the cost cutting fool was using old water barrels that had seeped much of the water out over the course of the journey, leaving the heroes with no water left and two days remaining in their journey.

They stumbled into Saladir tired, dehydrated and dusty only to discover that Saladir itself was in no fit state to be sending correspondence to any nation. On their way to an inn, they discovered a murder scene in the streets, featuring a prominent merchant and a pair of thugs wearing black arm bands. The city was caught in a power struggle between Sultan Hakim, the new ruler of the city, and former Commerce Minister Mahmoud Abou Raba, an affluent and sly merchant and politician, following the untimely death of the previous ruler, Sultan Jamar. Prices were skyrocketing, disappearences and murders common, assassins and spies roamed the streets of Saladir.

The heroes had audiences with both of these feuding nobles, discovering that Jan Ludendorff was an agent of Abou Raba and that Hakim had sent two regiments north to block any forays by Vladistone into the Holy Desert, and were offered large rewards for the retrieval of the Jade Parrot, a highly symbolic figurine that would win the people’s approval of that ruler as the victor in the succession. After a great deal of debate over the various merits of both candidates, the adventurers decided (very) tentatively to retrieve the parrot for Abou Raba, mostly on the urging of Koradar, who desired the longsword that Abou Raba offered as reward, and a favorable dice roll. The main cause for hesitation was the understanding that Vladistone did not like Abou Raba and Abou Raba had stated openly that he would take preemptive actions against Vladistone if he deemed it necessary.

Guided by the ever changing accent of Ludendorff, the heroes set off for the tomb where the parrot was hidden. The cowardly merchant ran off as soon as he dropped them off there, fleeing for the safety of Saladir. Our fellows were perturbed to discover runes on the door of the tomb identical to those that had been in the mine shaft that the Forunian earthquakes had been emnating from.

The tomb proved to be a challenge unto itself, housing several undead creatures who tried in vain to keep our heroes from reaching the parrot. The zombies were vanquished in a battle that almost saw Grakk fall once again, but in the end proved to be only slightly challenging. A hidden room filled with runes housed their goal. The parrot was kept in a box that only the priesthood of the Raven Queen knew how to open, and appeared to be the source of these runes, but the diplomats showed their diverse skillset in weasling open the stubborn container. As they left the tomb, events took a startling turn.

Jan Ludendorff returned with a bulky lackey to kill our heroes! Ludendorff confessed to being an extremist Pirithian agent, intent upon throwing Akhanat, Pirith’s ancient enemy and Forun’s stalwart ally, into massive chaos and civil war by stealing the parrot, the only quick solution, opening the door for a Pirithian invasion of Forun. Whilst Ludendorff’s sorcery proved potent, our fellows quickly overwhelmed him with arrows and sorcery of their own, felling both enemies with little incident. They did, however, decide to reconsider their choice for parrot recipient based upon these new details.

They returned to Saladir, only to discover that Abou Raba had known of his agent’s deception and had decided to let the heroes take care of the loose end for him. He also promised specifically that he would not allow the Pirithians to leave their shores, but made no commitment to land support for Forun. He then requested the parrot. Not wishing to put their home country in danger and sensing his animosity toward Vladistone, the heroes attempted to bluff that they did not yet have the parrot, but he saw through them, ordering them to leave his sight as he would have preparations to make for leaving the city, as they clearly intended to give the parrot to Hakim.

The heroes left and visited the royal palace to finally bring this messy diplomatic mission to a satisfying, at least for Trace and the misers of the party, close. Hakim would prove to be a deadly opponent, however. The heroes gave him the parrot, earning a handsome sum of gold and a duelist’s short sword for Trace. Then, things began to unravel.

Hakim announced that the forces he had sent north had lured Vladistone’s troops into the desert and utterly destroyed them, opening the way for invasion. When he received news of Ludendorff, he laughed, saying that the Pirithians were right on schedule, attacking Forun from the north with a powerful force of 60,000 men. Hakim marveled at how he had managed to play the diplomats for fools, but acknowledged that they had made this possible. Hakim bought them passage on a trade galleon to the destination of their choice and requested that they hurry and leave. Grakk’s angered smoldered, barely contained, whilst Trace had to be physically held back for the good of the group. Virgil Tharne was speechless, humbled by his utter and complete outmaneuvering by this brutish Akhanati.

Our heroes boarded the ship, Sea Breeze, and set off, their homeland burning behind them, in hopes of a new start and the ever present goal of eventual revenge.

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Into The Deeps

As soon as they arrived at the mountains the party made for the Dwarven settlement within. Upon conferring with the Dwarven lord they found that the Dwarves had also been plagued by earthquakes in recent weeks. This appeared to be due to the recent excavation of a mine shaft as the miners had all gone missing. After some persuading, the adventurers were promised 100 gold pieces each, with half paid up front. They went to see the mine overseer and learned that he suspected magic was at work and that the rest of the miners were spooked by the shaft. The party check the overseer’s library and discovered that the area had been the spot of a structure constructed by an infamous wizard some 400 years ago.

The party entered the mine and were immediately beset upon by a swarm of stirges. The pests were dispatched without much trouble and the adventurers went on to check the bodies of the deceased miners. They found 30 pieces of gold and a Rod of Deadly Casting. It turned out that just inside the mine was the entrance to a structure that matched the time period of the wizard. The walls of the structure were lined with glowing green runes. Proceeding further the party were attacked by a tribe of strange albino kobolds. After a harsh battle in which Grakk was nearly killed the party discovered the source of the mysterious quakes: a large cauldron filled with earth somehow influencing the land itself. Using their combined magical aptitude (and some encouragement from Trace) the party was able to disable the bizarre device, but were dismayed to find that there were signs on similar sites scattered throughout the land.

Returning to the Dwarven settlement the party received the rest of their payment from the lord. After a debate about what to do next, they decided to update the lord of Hammerfast about what they had discovered.

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Quest Get!

The party started out as a rag-tag group of guards hired by the merchant’s guild, led by Grakk. Their first assignment was to protect a small caravan of a handful of carts between the small town of Garrant and the city of Hammerfast,about two days of travel.

The morning of the second day, the party was ambushed right outside the ruins of Castle Inverness, the halfway point of the trip. After getting bruised up, the party trekked on without looting the bodies.

Once in Hammerfast, their pay was withheld, and told to report to the local ruler, Lord Vladistone, to get compensation for the trip. There, he revealed that he has been hiring mercenaries to investigate the source of several earthquakes that have plagued the region. He explained then explained the theories circulating.

Scholars have told me that earthquake dragons used to roost in the mountains to the east. Now they haven’t been around in my lifetime, nor that of my father, but I’m not prepared to rule it out. Rumors from some dwarven merchants say that a dwarven klan has discovered fire-powder, and have been experimenting with it. Some of our clergy have been ranting that duergar, or other devils have been digging out under the region, and that they will soon breach the surface. Now we have workers and scholars digging to answer that, and some groups have been sent to a handful of dwarven clans, but we need you to investigate the mountains. Either diplomacise with the Ironfist clan, or search and destroy any and all dragon roosts.

The party quickly set off to hunt for some dragons, and left early the following morning.

We left the party among the various severed branches of a carrion vine, with no bodies to loot.

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