- XP: 900 each
- Great honor an notoriety for those who swam the Falls of Eamon.
- Treasure and revelations in the buried Tomb of Winter’s Dark, from whence the Crooked Vulture was summoned. A further attack on the crown averted.
- A pendant bearing the family crest of Harrowgrave inscribed in mother-of-pearl.
- The heavy smell of dust and blood hung heavy over the fair, filled the sound of steel against steel, the cries of the defeated and the roars of the crowd. This was the joust, anticipated for months, and the drama did not disappoint. Honor was humbled, fortunes made and lost, romance kindled, and political skirmishes waged, all along the lists to the sound of thundering hooves and rowdy spectators. All expectations were up ended when a rude warrior of the wastelands, an uncouth savage called Baldrick Deviltongue
managed to unhorse Sir Shiloh Shaalesti
the favorite of the court of Asgulan
, who had himself defeated the zealous defender of Dale honor, Gaz of Mithras
, in a personal challenge. Even as the crowd feted Baldrick, who walked away with a prized warhorse, trained and outfitted, and a heavy black banner carrying the very honor of the Black Eagle Castle itself, even so the mob turned its attention to a new, exotic distraction. It seemed that a visiting dwarf had been persuaded upon to defend his peoples’ honor at the lists, although this fearsome dwarf refused to ride any but his own mount, a wild boar of immense proportions, yet there was one who answered the brash challenge. This one was stranger still, a lizardman dressed in elaborate armaments, riding a warhorse, and carrying himself in a most regal manner. This dragon knight would surely test his lance against the dwarf called Thrag
, if only because circumstances had conspired to keep the reptilian tilter from participating in the primary competition. There was a rush and a push, once, then twice, and as swiftly as it began, Thrag
was rolling in the dust, victim to his own confidence against one he did not realize was a professional on the tourney circuit.
The dragon knight acted with great honor, presenting his lance to the newly crowned King Caradoc
and pledging his fealty. The king accepted the honor and promised to place the knight in his household. And then he made a gift to the knight of a very special cask of ale from Balean Nakt
, one of the few to survive a recent onslaught of orcs. The knight then re-gifted this ale to spectators in the stands, earning many huzzahs.
Meanwhile, the dwarven fan community made much of Thrag’s heroic failure, and they proceeded to carry him about the fair while plying him with spirits. The party grew in size and variety as many from the King’s entourage joined the celebration.
Drunken fools do many foolish things, yet few believe the story that is told of this night, when so members of the Brotherhood of Platonic Solitude drunkenly rowed a trio of hobbits across the Diamond Lake
to the very base of the Eamon Falls. Then, some say, the whole group climbed a treacherous cliff and proceeded to swim the mighty falls, taking such a beating from the torrent that some barely survived.
Late in the evening, in the wee hours before the dawn, some certain Platonics saw a suspiciously beaked figure rushing between tents in the “managerie” part of the tourney town.
arrived and the heroes girded themselves, drunk as they were, for mystery and mayhem. A thorough search revealed a missing goat and tracks leading to a strange mound near the lake where a hastily planted hedge sought to conceal the excavation of an ancient door, rimed with frost.
“Ach,” cried Iorweth Wolfsblood
“The air of this crypt is cold as the bottom of Diamond Lake. I see a giant carp in my future!”
The group drank the last of their dwarven moonshine to fire their bellies, then descended the cold stair. Torchlight revealed a grim room decorated in the frozen manifestations of tortured souls. Three doors were framed by writhing stone bodies. This room stank of ancient fear. This was a place sanctum where the Winter’s Dark
had never ended, a redoubt of the Imperium of Brutality. What horrors lurked beyond each door?
The heroes approached the door to their left. A voice resounded in each of their heads, thundering like a giant from the World Mountain. “Let those who embrace the darkness of ignorance walk forward, heedless of all knowledge. The blind and deaf fear no danger, for the Keeper of the Way shall guide their steps.”
“Perhaps this is not the right way,” offered Dyffyd Kinewatcher
The second door opened upon approach. As the heroes trooped through, the robed devils above the arch seemed to lean over and whisper into each man’s ear, “Your glory at the cost of another’s misery.” And so each knew exactly whose misery they had been cursed
The Inebriates of Platonism emerged from the Gate of Treachery to an icy tomb. A central sarcophagus dominated the room. Before the sarcophagus were a series of ignoble burial sites, mere square pits filled solid with ice, and within, victims of sudden freezing cold. Behind it was a frozen fountain where sat a frozen idol of some mollusk god. Alcoves to the left and right hid shadowy figures, and indeed, Cedrics sharp eyes quickly picked out a half dozen of the bird-like criminals lurking about, bearing crossbows readied for ambush!
The battle commenced, and seemed to be going well until the idol in the back of the room came to life, manifesting as a carapaced slug demon that flash froze all in its vicinity, but the now sober warriors held firm and smote their foes.
Then they made to ambush whatever supporters might be lurking in the chamber beyond, where a great deal of chanting and squawking, and chanting squawks was heard. Some treasures were unearthed before the door was burst asunder by the arrival of shrieking bird from hell, a crooked vulture, and a cloud of buzzards followed.
The beast surged through the doorway, and landed upon the sarcophagus, where it unleashed a deafening shriek that seemed to push the very oxygen from the room. Gerard
, Sword of the Sun was dazed by the onslaught, continuing to fight through a haze of ring ears and discombobulation.
The heroes closed in on that crooked vulture, even as it tore at them with beak and claw, and the buzzards made it impossible to see for all the feathers and beaks hurtling about. Then more of the black feathered skulkers arrived, one, an obvious mage on the wing, flew above the fray and unleashed torrents of hurricane winds beholden to the creatures esoteric commands. The other was a warrior of uncanny speed and grace, wielding a vicious sickle and chain weapon. Both fought with skill and tenacity beyond any kenku yet encountered, but even so, the intruders prevailed, the vulture was struck down and the wing mage skewered by Cedric’s arrow. The chain fighter attempted to escape, but was captured and offered to tell all in exchange for his life.
The kenku, who called himself Croaker, was a voluble bird. He described a robed and bearded man, a wizard of some sort who had gained influence over the flock and had directed them first to find the wayward prince in order to sell him to a “Mountain King”, and then, when that failed, word came that they were to steal specific items: drake eggs, goat bladders, the hair of old women, and so on. Then they came here, for the wizard had given the wing mage a book, called Mamuthek’s Tome of Summoning
. The ritual was meant not to finish until the evening, when the court was at table, so that the full might of the demon could be unleashed upon the fair. Finishing the ritual early sacrificed control, and so the summoners were wiped out.
The heroes searched the summoning chamber and found the Mamuthek’s Tome of Summoning
, as well as the bodies of a half dozen robed kenku. They also discovered a rough tunnel that ended in a log jam of debris. Thrag estimated that the end of the tunnel was directly under the refuse pile behind the lists, and that an exit by a fully fledged demon vulture into the midst of the tourney would have caused unbearable destruction.
Croaker the Kenku requested to make amends for his crime and called upon the mercy of Delver’s Dale. He told how the wing mages of his flock were corrupted by Bargle
and drove the flock to diabolical lengths that they would otherwise never have considered. “Spare my life and I will tell my flock of your honor and persuade them to abandon their alliance with this skulking wizard who sends his missives by bats born in the roots of the Thunder Mountain
Dawn broke with welcome warmth as the Platonists emerged from the wintry tomb. All agreed that the door would be blocked and the miners of the Dale contracted to fill in the evil place.