A World in the Balance

Safety In Numbers
A hivemind is a terrible thing to waste.

Game #17

As the journey through the main tunnel continues, it eventually comes to the large chasm the adventurers had encountered earlier on. Careful examination reveals a narrow and treacherous trail leading down the edge of the cliff. The party presses on for several hours knowing they will not be able to rest until they are in a safer location. Eventually, the trail leads to a cave that once again leads into the tunnels in the mountain.

The first cave contains the remains of a campfire and several pieces of round, fibrous fuel that turns out to be from giant mushrooms. The camp is several days old. Continuing on, they locate a fresh water source in one of the side tunnels and also notice that there seem to be several footprints on the sandy ground indicating lots of traffic in this tunnel. A bit further up the main tunnel, they come to another cavern where they are greeted by a gruesome sight. The cave is filled with stakes with heads mounted on top of them. Upon examination, they realize that least decayed of the heads belong to Garnath and Drimm. Exiting this cave, the group enters a narrow winding tunnel that continues on. As they begin to work their way down the tunnel, the earth begins to rumble and the entire area is shook by an earthquake. Although there is much falling rock and the characters are thrown to the ground, no one is seriously injured.

At the end of the tunnel, the sand turns to a paved stone floor in a cave that has a marble table in the middle of it, obviously of dwarven make. Upon the table is a relatively fresh sacrifice. It appears to be a male dwarf who has been beheaded, disemboweled and flayed. Examination reveals that this is the body of Drimm. There is also a pile of beheaded corpses in the corner of the room in various states of decay, mostly dwarven. The main tunnel has widened once again and now appears to have been carefully cut into the stone by skilled masons. Halfway up the tunnel, the group finds Garnath’s beheaded corpse on its knees facing the wall. As they begin to continue on, they can hear noises from up ahead and attempt to make a stealthy retreat to the previous cavern.

At first, it appears as if it is only a single shaman with two bodyguards but the party quick finds itself surrounded by small creatures with primitive weapons as a dozen more drop out of carefully concealed holes in the ceiling of the room. In the beginning, the creatures fight with synchronized tactics and carefully placed spells but as their numbers dwindle, they begin to resort to fighting with their bare hands, staring at rocks or ignoring the combat completely. After the last of them have been dispatched, Gavin recalls a story his uncle told him of underground creatures whose intellect grew greater the more of them there were in a group. Gavin suspects they have come across a colony of sauvig. This proves to be true as they follow the tunnel to the end where it opens up to a large mushroom forest with a sauvig village located in the middle of it.

Not wanting to alert the entire village to their presence, they carefully skirt the edge of the cavern until the reach the far side where the tunnel continues on. They come to another cavern with a large chasm running across the middle of it. It appears as though there was once a bridge in place but it has rotted away over the years and is hanging from the far side of the chasm. With help from Gwynne’s magic to put a rope in place, the party attempts to cross using the existing wooden posts that supported the original bridge only to find that they are not stable enough to support any amount of weight. They decide to set up camp and consider what their best option to continue might be.

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O Brother Where Art Thou?
Myrden looks like a shorter version of George Clooney.

Game #16

The group is greeted by Apprentice Argyle and is told that Elsbet Grimgut is currently in a meeting at the inner keep with members of a contingent referred to as ‘The Dynasty’. In spite of the warning that she will be in a foul mood upon her return, the party decides to wait for her in the shop as she is expected to return soon. In the interim, Cauldrev receives an education on jewelry for the male gentalia and why a gentleman would use such items.

Elsbet’s arrival is announced by several slamming doors and much stomping about. Argyle decides to face her wrath and seeks her out to let her know about the group waiting for her. This news is received with shouting aplenty and eventually, the proprietress storms out of the back demanding that the party leaves her shop immediately as she has had enough of pointless questioning for the day. Belhorn manages to get her to read the letter from Darbin Sparkspeak which she promptly throws into the fireplace. Unbeknownst to the adventurers, Darbin has concealed another message within the rather mundane introduction letter. As the letter burns, it folds up into a small metal cube which Elsbet promptly pulls from the fire with tongs. After putting on a loupe and examining the cube for several minutes Elsbet still refuses to share information with the party. She states that the only way they will get her help is if they can find her brother who was outcast into the Lower Caverns. After receiving a description of the young dwarf, the group realizes that they are looking for Myrden, one of the dwarves that they helped rescue from the kobolds. Elsbet gives them a simple charm so Myrden will recognize them and kicks them out of her shop.

After resupplying good for travel, the group opts to spend a night in some of the nicer rooms at The Gilded Pick to prepare for their journey deeper into the tunnels below the Hold of the Mithril Wolverines. After logging their departure with the city guards in the morning, the group carefully makes its way into the tunnels that lead deeper into the mountains making sure that they do not encounter any of the patrols as they do not have a legitimate excuse for traveling to the depths. They are almost discovered on their fourth night out of the Hold but Opal manages to extinguish the campfire and warn the rest of the party in time to avoid the dwarven soldiers. From here on out they know that there should be no more patrols but it is uncertain what other dangers the Lower Caverns might hold.

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His Lordship
With great power comes great confusion...

Game #15

The party travels seven more days into the depths of the mountains and slowly begins to acclimate to the sounds and surrounding environment of the caverns and tunnels. As they journey on, several of the party members begin to notice that there are tunnels that do not blend in with their surroundings. One tunnel is blackened and the stone has turned to slag, one has been worn smooth and one is devoid of any dust or debris. All of the unusual tunnels lead to the same place, a chasm that plummets deep into the earth.

After traveling farther down the main tunnel, the group begins to hear the sounds of battle. As they emerge into a large cavern, they can see a dwarven patrol of halbardiers and crossbowmen attempting to hold off the attacks of a massive elemental composed of air and fire. Although apprehensive at first, the party eventually presses the attack and the creature is driven back and it flees into the tunnels leading away from the caverns. The dwarven commander tends to his men and then turns his attention to the adventurers. Upon seeing Cauldrev, he addresses him as ‘my lord’ and thanks him for the timely assistance in driving back the creature. He informs the group that the Hold is nearby and they will reach it within three days of travel. True to his word, the party arrives at a large bridge that spans the chasm they saw earlier. It connects to large fortress with high walls that can only be the Hold of the Mithril Wolverines.

Upon crossing the span, they are greeted by a junior guardsman who informs them that the city is currently closed to outsiders. The group presents the letter of introduction that they received from Darbin and although the guard does not seem impressed, he agrees to present it to his commanding officer. The group watches as the commanding officer looks at the letter and looks carefully at them. He barks some orders to the junior guard and dismisses him perfunctorily. The guard hurries back and apologizes for the confusion and then quickly leads them through the outer wall and into the main city. He tells them that they probably want to go to the compound and it is at the top of the road in front of them. He quickly returns to duty.

They travel up the hill and begin to see many gated complexes with banners hanging outside. Although he is not able to identify the owners, Belhorn spies one banner that seems to be out of place amongst the others. It displays three stars and a winged blade on a light blue background. They find the gate closed and locked and there does not appear to be anyone present in the courtyard. The group decides to return to the main gate so they can get directions to the shop where Haggart Grimgut’s ancestors can be found. The guard explains that the city is arranged in rings and the artisans can be found a quarter turn around the first ring.

Their destination is not immediately evident once they reach the artisans district so Gavin uses his language skills to garner the assistance of a local passerby. He joking refers to Cauldrev as his lord during conversation and the woman’s demeanor rapidly changes. She quickly leads them to a jewelry shop simply called Grimgut’s and then departs after curtseying and receiving permission from Cauldrev to leave. They approach the shop and Gwynne’s cultured eye quickly appraises the high quality of the items on display. After a few moments of window shopping, they open the door and step inside.

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Three's Company
Mr. Roper reminds me of a kobold.

Game #14

After traveling ever deeper into the heart of the mountains for four days, Belhorn’s peaceful watch is interrupted by a distant clamor in the side tunnels ahead. When everyone has been roused, the group hurries off into the labyrinth of passageways off of the main tunnel. As the group navigates the myriad of pathways, shout can be heard in both draconic and dwarven. Apparently, some sort of pursuit is in progress. The party manages to find the scene of the commotion and finds a group of kobolds and beetles that are assailing a small group of dwarves. One of the dwarves is in the middle of the fray with an axe and a wooden shield that has been set aflame while the other two are hunkered down behind their shields in a corner of the dead end cave.

The adventurers leap into combat to help the outnumbered dwarves. As the kobold numbers dwindle, the find that the dwarf in the fight has gone beserk and is attacking whatever seems to be closest to him. After dispatching the rest of the foes, they quickly retreat from the crazed dwarf after being urged to do so by his companions. The burnt and bloodied dwarf, upon seeing no one left to fight, collapses in a heap. The unconscious dwarf’s wounds are treated and Gavin begins to converse in dwarven with Garnath, the leader of the group.

Garnath explains that he, Drimm the berserker and a young dwarf by the name of Myrden, are all outcasts from the Hold. Although they have not found any other survivors, the dwarf explains that “the General” has been exiling dwarves that “do not benefit the advancement of the Hold” for quite some time. The outcasts are only allowed the clothes on their back as they are sent out into the dangerous Lower Caverns. If outcasts are seen by the patrols in the main tunnels, they are attacked and usually killed on sight. Garnath also reveals that this practice began shortly after a contingent of nobles that looked like Cauldrev arrived in the Hold.

By morning, Drimm has recovered. Gavin shares his rations with the ragged group and the three dwarves quickly return to the safety of the unpatrolled side tunnels. The party gathers their things and continues on with their two-week journey the last remaining dwarven citadel.

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Know When To Hold 'Em
Rime without reason

Game #13

After much discussion, the young group of adventurers decides to winter in Glimmer in order to get a firmer grasp on their new-found skills and abilities. Once the snows set in and block the passes, they find that Glimmer is a very boring place to be when there are no caravans coming to town. By the time February hits, they are tired of learning and practicing and get geared up for their journey to the Hold of the Mithril Wolverines to see if they can learn more about the mysterious cards or their assumed creator, Haggart Grimgut. With a letter of introduction from Darbin Sparkspeak to gain them entrance into the dwarven citadel, they set out on a crisp grey morning.

After a day and a half of travel through moderately heavy snow, they reach the top of the pass on the main road. The horses are left with a handler so they may be returned to Glimmer and party begins the difficult climb up the smaller side path that Darbin Sparkspeak taught them about. Ghesh, Gavin and Cauldrev take turns breaking trail until they reach the top of the path where an open area leads to a cave entrance that will start their journey underground. As the party moves in the clearing, the wind begins to pick up and snow flurries begin making visibility difficult. As they near the cave, they can see two figures standing on either side of the entrance. Approaching the figures, they can see they appear to be made entirely out of ice and are wielding frozen mauls.

“These do not appear to be dwarves, brother,” says one of the creatures. “No but the human has the stench about him,” replies the other. The first screeches, “We will free our prince!” as he gestures to both sides of the clearing. Several more of the creatures appear on the rise and Gavin is bombarded with a rain of icy spears. Although they are solid hits, he does not seem to be severely injured by the attacks. A chilling combat ensues and the creatures are shattered by the combat prowess of the adventurers. With night approaching rapidly and a snow storm on the horizon, the group seeks shelter inside the depths of the cave and are left to ponder how many other unknown enemies might be plotting their doom.

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A Million Little Pieces
Starting to see the big picture.

Game #12

Gavin decides to bite the bullet and finally confesses his plan to become an adventurer to his parents after returning from the Weepmourn Caverns. Much to his surprise, his parents were once adventurers too and the animosity of his father towards Landon’s lifestyle was merely a ruse to give the appearance a deteriorating relationship between the brothers. Gavin receives his parents’ blessing and a dagger, one of the many fine pieces in the Stavros arsenal.

Having completed the tasks laid out in the first letter from Landon, the group returns to One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon where Jack presents Gavin with the second letter from his uncle. The letter reads:

Hey you made it! I would have felt bad if I had killed you but sometimes you need to play the odds. Good news is that those items you have are with someone safe instead of sitting in a cave. Bad news is there are some folks that want those really bad and once they find out you have them, you will probably have a hornet’s nest on your hands. That being said, the best course of action would be to keep them a secret and get out of Glimmer. Someone is bound to trace me back there eventually and it would be best for them not to find any leads to go on. Your father and I spent several years making a not-so-quiet point of showing our dislike for each other’s lifestyles so I am not too concerned for your parents since they will have solid support on a claim that they stopped having anything to do with me years ago.

Talk to Gregor in town and he will tell you what he can about that shard that was in the box. Head over to the church of Sehanine on your own time too. Tell the head priestess “veils are good for shadowed halls but masks are worn in royal walls” and you might be able to pick up some tricks to save your skin in the future. Burn this letter and the last one. No trace left behind. Remember that this spans several countries and something very wrong is going on in Bengra. I was never able to get a grasp on the entirety of it. I hope you can.

Gavin takes the opportunity to visit the church of Sehanine and the party agrees to meet outside of Gregor’s shop in the morning.

Morning arrives and after loitering aimlessly outside of the shop whilst staring at the “Open” sign for about 30 minutes, the young adventurers decide to go inside. When Gregor sees the shard, he closes up shop and ushers everyone into the back room. He informs the group that Landon procured the shard from cultists who wore black clothing with a red and black spider insignia. Apparently, Landon began running into the cultists in old ruins sporadically at first and then regularly later on. They were always aggressive and would attempt to kill or intimidate those in their way. As Landon began to investigate more, he found their presence in all sorts of places ranging from politics to religion and even within criminal circles. After viewing Belhorn’s shard, he is able to confirm that the pieces are carefully crafted to interlock and he suspects that they form a medallion or a seal of some sort.

Taking advantage of Gwynne’s new rank and training, Cauldrev has her examine the magical lockbox left to him by his father, Warden Havers. Although Gwynne is able to ascertain that it has three locks, she cannot determine what the keys are. She consults with Jerrol and he teaches her how to read the enchantments on the box which reveals that the keys are signet rings of some sort. Cauldrev uses the warden’s signet ring also left to him by his father and finds that it unlocks one of the three locks. After sharing this information with the others, Ghesh reveals that he is in possession of the signet ring that used to belong to Warden Nevarth. The ring proves to unlock yet another lock on the box.

Ghesh explains that the Church of Bahamut in Kveldan has been destroyed and Nevarth died while performing his duties to protect the church. Nevarth suspected that the church has been corrupted from within and hand-picked a group of followers still loyal to Bahamut to set up the outpost in Glimmer. Cauldrev confirms the worst as he describes how he barely escaped from the Church of Bahamut in Guardia before it was burnt to the ground. Ghesh suspects that the last signet ring must belong to the Warden of the Church in Qimtar, Mordant. This name rings a bell with Cauldrev as he distinctly recalls some of the soldiers during the attack claim “Mordant will pay nicely for the head of Havers’ whelp”.

With mysteries at every turn and enemies to spare, the group decides what their next course of action should be.

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It's A Trap!!
Too bad Ackbar wasn't in your party

Game #11

Upon returning the journals to the Balance of Pentacles Enclave, the group is met by a skeptical and rather haughty mage by the name of Montgomery Laroche. After much needless waiting about, they manage to secure an appointment for the following morning.

In the morning, the group returns to the enclave and receives a better reception. After being escorted into a study, they are greeted by Twelfth Mage Jerrol who is one of the more experienced mages at the enclave. He verifies the authenticity of the journals and orb and Gwynne stays behind to give a very detailed description of the events at the Sagewar Ruins. Third Mage Tobias Bleakley speaks to her about rewards and she asks for entrance into the Balance. Tobais has her tested for aptitude and decides to replace the inept Montgomery with Gwynne.

Cauldrev runs an unexplained errand and then meets up with the group at the saloon where Jack has noticed that they have been up to their usual adventuring hijinks. He decides to present at letter to Gavin left behind by his departed uncle, Landon Stavros. Apparently, Landon has left some items for safekeeping in the Weepmourn Caverns and he wants Gavin to retrieve them as a test of his mettle and skill. The party gathers provisions for the journey and opts to go on foot after having abused their last loan of riding horses. They journey for the remainder of the day and set up camp by the river near the caverns.

As they approach the caverns, the mournful sound of many ghostly voices is emanating from the entrance to the caverns but Gavin reassures them that it is only a trick put in place by his uncle to scare off the curious. The group is concerned when they see six riding horses tethered outside of the caverns although it appears that they have been there for a couple of days. They hurry inside and opt to take the main corridor into the depths of the cavern instead of examining the smaller side passages. Eventually they come to a door embedded in the rock walls.

Upon entering, they find themselves in a room with a table containing a riddle and seven bottles of liquid in various shapes, sizes and colors. The door has disappeared behind them and the only way to proceed is to pick the correct potion to drink. The room also contains the body of an unfortunate soul who appears to have been poisoned horribly by one of the potions. After much deliberation and keen observation on the part of Belhorn, Gavin picks a potion and is transported into a room with a large sarcophagus and five coffins with five doors behind them. The room also has a door leading back to the first room and Gavin opens it to allow the rest of the group to join him.

Upon examining the five coffins, each is found to have a plaque upon it with an epitaph. These turn out to be clues to the traps contained behind each door and the group manages to overcome the potentially deadly hazards. This unlocks the sarcophagus which leads to a room that seems to be the same as the beginning room. This is not the case, however, as there is a wooden coffer on the table with “Gavin” engraved on the lid and the body on the floor is different than the first. It appears to have died from suffocation and has multiple puncture wounds in the hand. The body contains a letter that gives some insight into the presence of the mysterious men. Gavin opens the coffer and finds a mysterious pie-shaped shard made of various precious metals and gems. There is also another one of the curious cards inside, this one portraying a gambler.

Assuming that this is what they came for, the party exits the caverns and appropriates the horses of the dead men for a much shorter return journey to Glimmer.

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Stopping the Madness
Three's a crowd...

Game #10

As the group cautiously approaches the figure on the dais, they also notice there are three large statues on this floor: a scholar studying a tome of lore on the west wall, an athlete who appears to be in the middle of a footrace on the south wall and a priest giving a blessing on the east wall. The figure on the dais appears to be a mage of some sort but Gwynne notices that his style of clothing is very archaic. As the rest of the party engages in conversation, Cauldrev examines the scholar statue and discovers that it is made out of paper-mache.

The mage thanks the party for freeing him from his prison. As they speak with him, they can see his image blur and occasionally during the conversation, whispers of other voices can be heard speaking as the mage speaks. The mage’s speech becomes more erratic and he appears to be having some internal struggle as he splits into three copies of himself. Through force of will, he pulls himself back into one body as he slams his staff into the ground screaming, “I will be whole again!” A protective dome forms over the dais and a beam of red light shoots forth from the orb in the mage’s hand hitting the scholar statue. Gwynne determines that the magic is some type of summoning spell and shortly afterwards, one of the Spellscoured appears. While some members of the party focus on holding off the attacks of the summoned creature, others focus on destroying the large statues. As the stautes are destroyed, the mage’s strength appears to be failing but he rallies and summons creatures from all of the statues at once. Battle rages across the top of the entire tower until the creatures are finally vanquished. The mage’s staff shatters with a loud crack and the dome over the dais fades as he collapses to the ground.

Examination of the body reveals that it has decayed rapidly. All that remains intact is the glowing red orb with the swirling liquid inside. As the group begins to tend to their wounds, the tower begins to quake and large sections of the walls start to collapse. They quickly run to the library to gather the set of preserved tomes and bolt for the exit. As they run away from the tower, it collapses on itself into a large pile of rubble. As the dust clears they can see that the rest of the structures have also collapsed now that they no longer have the magic of the mage to support them.

Gwynne and Belhorn pore over the tome that was left on the library table and find that it is written in an ancient form of the arcane language used by mages. The final entries speak of a need to find the cure and often fade into the ranting of a madman. It is clear from the most recent journal that the mage had lost his sanity from his millenia spent in the tower. The party quickly rode back to town, eager to share this information with the researchers at the Balance of Pentacles Enclave.

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Putting The Pieces Together
Literally...

Game #9

After recovering from the fight in the old barn, Cauldrev decides to go examine the altar outside the main tower. He finds a large stone altar ten feet in diameter that is engraved with the Mark of the Raven Queen. At the bottom of the engraving, there is a wide slot cut into the stone. Cauldrev pulls an ominous black blade that is different from the silver dragon-hilted greatsword that he previously wielded and plunges it into the slot on the altar. The top of the altar splits down the middle and the pieces fall to the side to reveal a large body shaped indentation in the stone with the slot now located where a person’s heart would be. Cauldrev proves that the indentation is made for something larger than normal human size by lying down on the altar and trying it on for size. Still unsure what to make of it all, the party moves on to the dilapidated lodgings.

The lodge is in disrepair and it is amazing that it still stands after all these years. Examination of a couple of the rooms off of the common room reveals nothing but decayed furniture. As Ghesh approaches the set of double doors at the end of the common room, everyone can hear a low thump-thump echoing around them. Opal attempts to pinpoint the location of the steady, rhythmic sound only to find that it seems to be coming from all around them. Ghesh advances towards the doors and as he is about to open them, a large ghostly heart with a network of veins and arteries for wings appears through the wall in front of them. More of the creatures descend from the ceiling to attack the party. Although the creatures appear to be partially immune to normal weapons, the party is triumphant thanks to the combined arcane and divine powers of Ghesh, Opal and Belhorn. Finding nothing else of note in the lodge, the group moves on to the withered gardens.

Although the gardens appear to have once been a place to relax or enjoy a walk in, they are now in ruins. Remnants of arches and benches lay strewn about and nothing grows there now. The gardens are arranged in a wheel pattern and the eight spokes lead into the center of the area. Upon arriving at the center, the adventurers see nine berms of dirt, eight small ones at the ends of each of the spokes and one larger central mound. Opal climbs the central mound and examines the dirt to see if she can find any sign of what once used to grow here. Her search reveals that all plant life in this area has been dead for centuries if not longer. As she turns to report this to her companions, the ground begins to tremble and a large bloody fist bursts out of the earth next to her. A large humanoid creature that is dripping with blood and gore emerges from the ground. It has a gaping hole in its chest and it appears as if the flesh has been removed leaving only the muscles and bone behind. As battle ensues, more of the creatures emerge from the smaller berms. In spite of being knocked repeatedly to the ground and having to deal with slippery footing from the splattering of gore, the party manages to bring the hulking beast to its knees.

Gwynne and Belhorn discuss the items at hand and decide that they will have to reconstruct a complete corpse out of the grisly remnants from their three battles. After much macabre pushing and pulling, a large body is reformed from the flesh husk, disembodied heart and the mass of muscle and bone. It is placed in the indentation in the altar and it appears to be a perfect fit. Cauldrev plunges his sword through the chest of the corpse into the slot in the altar. Runes begin to appear and glow on the door to the tower. As they fade, the party hears a loud but simple click. The door to the broken tower now lies open before them.

Upon entering the tower, they can see that the bottom floor has a large hallway leading to a staircase at the far end with doors to the left and right. The left door leads into a library. Most of the tomes are illegible and in tatters but there is one set of twenty unmarked leather-bound tomes that appear to be in excellent condition. The right door leads to a large laboratory. Many of the components appear to be dried up and several of the apparatuses are broken but the group does find one rack with intact vials. Opal has some alchemical experience and deduces that the four vials are minor healing potions. The party then travels to the top of the staircase. At the top they can see a large open area that is the size of the entire tower. In the center of this floor is a raised dais where a lone figure stands awaiting the arrival of the adventurers.

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Treasures from the Past
The adventure ended in ruins...

Game #8

With Gaver safely rescued and returned to his lodgings, the party stumbles off to get some sleep but not before Belhorn gets a begrudging promise from Wynne to start up his lessons again soon. There is no rest for the wicked, however, and Belhorn receives word from Darbin that he has found the information that he was looking for regarding the mysterious card that has disappeared. Belhorn, eager to hear the news, responds quickly…six hours later.

Everyone meets at Sparks of Rage and is ushered into the back room where Gretcha has set out refreshments for everyone. Against their better judgement, they sample the deeproot wine and fungus cakes only to find that they are much better than they look. Darbin gives them a brief lesson on dwarven lore regarding those who manage to master multiple crafts, specifically an individual named Haggart Grimgut. His suspicion is that the card may be a product of Haggart’s simply because of his specialties. He also suspects that the card has not been stolen, but has instead bound itself magically to Opal and has returned to her. Opal confirms this by relating the tale of how the card returned to her while she was meditating at Melora’s Boon. Darbin suspects that the card maybe a Masterwork of a dwarven Grandmaster but suspects that there may be more cards than this one as it seems to lack the grandiosity of scale that accompany most Masterwork items.

While the others head to One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon to discuss the card and engage in a new round of drinking games, Gwynne pays a visit to the recently rescued Alanna Fairflax to discuss her prospects of becoming a member of the Balance of Pentacles. Alanna suspects the best bet is the Sagewar Ruins. Third Mage Tobias Bleakley and his team of researchers have thoroughly investigated a mysteriously out-of-place altar to the Raven Queen in front of the sealed main tower without success. Alanna believes they have fallen victim to an overly narrow focus and suspects that the true answer to the altar and unlocking the tower may lie within the rest of the seemingly ordinary buildings and gardens in the area. Gwynne rejoins her friends and asks them for aid exploring the ruins. Everyone agrees to set out in the morning except for Belhorn as he is passed out from suffering another crushing drinking game loss at the hands of Gavin.

In the morning, the group finds Gaver and Wynne getting ready to head out to the Abandoned Quarry with their personal guard to exact some payback. The party decides to travel along for the ride. Upon arriving at the quarry, they find that all of the soldiers have been massacred, apparently by the same spiders that had attacked the adventurers during the rescue. Nothing has been left behind to help identify the group or its intentions. After burning the bodies, the party decides to “borrow” the horses for a bit longer and rides out to the Sagewar Ruins.

Gwynne, operating on the information from Alanna, suggests that they skip the altar and head into the barn. Although the silo has mostly collapsed, the remainder of the building seems structurally sound and the group heads inside. The building is mostly empty aside from what appears to be piles of sacks that once may have held grain. Gwynne attempts to move one of the larger piles only to have it come to life in her hands. Once it rises to its full height, the party can see that it appears to be an animated husk of human skin. More husks animate around the barn and a fight ensues. The smaller husks envelop their targets and slowly leech away life force while the larger husk sends out silent psychic screams into the midst of the party. The group manages to survive the onslaught and beats the husks. Further examination of the barn after a short rest reveals nothing else inside.

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