Dawn’s Ending a game set for DnD 4rth Ed. Work In Progress…

Dawn’s Ending A continued work in progress…
The lanky apprentice driving the wagon pulls it over for the night into a rough clearing off the main road and surrounded by a small grove of trees. The trees appear to have been planted specifically in a circle as their branches touch to form a perfect circle in the air above them. The wizard who hired the party as his body guards and security patrol emerges to nod his approval, smiling. He lifts his hands up while tilting his head to the right to survey the clearing more closely. Then he closes his eyes, murmurs a word and climbs down the steps of the wagon.
General camp set up. The apprentice builds a fire in the center of the camp pulling out a pot to brew some tea for his master. Scurrying here and there, he makes a place for his master to sit to convene with the party by setting out a padded chair that he retrieves from inside the wagon. The wizard’s hair is long and braided in an ancient court style that is long out of date. On his head is an old patched floppy hat that was once a shade of dark purple but now appears a murky blackish gray. Quickly he provides the wizard with his long pipe and mug of freshly brewed tea before he continues with basic camp chores. [Does the party set up any type of watch?]
“You are probably wondering why I have brought you here.” begins the wizard you’ve been escorting for the last couple of days in a deep raspy voice. “Well get it out of your head that I’m going to explain. You signed your contract and that’s that. Just get me through these dag-blamed baronies before the rise of the full moon five days from now and you will receive your payment.” (500 gp each)
“Know that the baronies here have been at war for the last 10 years. The people here are fairly finicky and don’t like strangers so we shouldn’t run into that many people on the road. There will be little help from the cities and townships so we might as well avoid them. You can forget about the farms. There’s been a long history of local raiding of any livestock, general thievery, and assorted plundering between the two baronies. SO no one trusts anyone they haven’t known for years. All you need to know is that we must get through the two of them before the beginning of the rise of the moon. That means out by the day before the full moon, not the day of it.” With that he glares at each member of the party individually. (Perception for arcane and they feel the presence of a “touch” of magic upon them, a slight compulsion to do as he says)
Night camp: Lady Shadows creeps after the nightingale sings her last note. She is trying to scout out whatever the wizard has. She sneaks through the camp. (Stealth Check of DC10) if failed party gets (Perception DC 25) She ignores the adventurers and goes directly under the wagon. She peers over the joints of what she believes may be a trap door for undercarriage storage or a smuggler’s hold. Using thieves’ tools, she opens the lock triggering a siren’s scream alarm waking the camp (the lock will ALWAYS set off the Siren Alarm. The act of the lock unlocking triggers the magic.) She fades back immediately into the shadows trying to find a way out before the adventurers make it back to the wagon. (Perception DC 18)
In the storage area, there is a chest that the adventurers were unaware of. Thuds are heard from inside the chest. Something appears to be punching at the sides of the chest from the inside. The sides poke out with the size, the shape reminiscent of a fist. The wizard walks briskly over to chest shaking his hat in its direction as he glares at it. Annoyed, he waves his hand in the direction of the chest, his hat brushing it, and says, “Silence” at which time the siren stops and whatever was making the trunk move quiets. Outside of the word, the wizard appears to cast no magic.
If captured, Lady Shadows only knows that she was hired by Baron Jacon to see what the wizard is carrying. Rumors have been flying since they crossed into the countryside. The Baron would like to meet with them, but she was not sent to enforce that, merely to see what the wizard has, not take anything.
If she escapes, there is no sign that Lady Shadows was there except maybe a half footprint if pass Perception DC 18. Either way the siren goes off.
If killed she has Thief’s Tools +2, black garments, and 5 balanced throwing daggers. There is not any indication why she was there.
The rest of the night is uneventful. The dawn breaks through the darkness sheering through the mist with streamers of sunshine piercing the dark green leaves. Groggy, you wake, break camp and prepare for the new day. You have a hard four days of riding to cross through both baronies. There is a shorter way, but it takes you very close to Baron Jacon’s keep and will expose you to fighting. Stretching the apprentice slowly begins to break camp down, storing it back into the wagon in little cabinets set into the sides and back of it. Some of the items appear to disappear as they near the wagon. Some items look like they shrink before being placed. The apprentice does not appear to be casting magic, rather it looks to be inherent in the wagon.
The ancient caravan creaks along the dusty road being driven by a gangly young man in patched brown pants with a stained tunic as you ride along the side of it on the horses rented out just for the purpose of guarding it. The old wagon has obviously seen better years with its gilt edging peeling and it’s windows that show little cracks in the corners from years of jostling along the rutted roads. The sign that once was easily secured to the side flops lazily on its chain and reading, “Leop ld, iz rd of t e Re m of Drakveltan”. As you look at the driver, you see the reins drooping a little bit lower than expected of someone steering horses, but then again perhaps these animals are as affected by the weather as everyone else.
You feel the heat of the day on your necks as the lack of breeze continues. As you check the road for what seems to be the thousandth time, the wizard Leopold who hired all of you as body guards opens one of the little windows in the door of his wagon to look around once more. He sticks his head all the way out to look up and down the road before nodding his head to himself and closing the window once more. A few seconds later, the door leading to the seat in front where his apprentice is minding the plodding horses creaks open and he appears with a map. As his finger taps it, you see tiny images float above the paper as if he is moving them around to give him information about each area, but only he can truly see them in any detail or actually hear what is going on. Satisfied, he nods to himself and turns to you saying, “There is a good place to stop for midday up ahead. It has a stream passing through it where you can water the horses and some shade for once. We’ll stop there to discuss our plans.” (Perception DC 15 for any followers)
Up ahead you see straggly trees come a bit closer to the road as they cast short shadows upon it while the sun rests just past midday. The trees begin to close in on the road narrowing it until only the caravan can pass with one horse beside it. Beside the trees is a set of three boulders stacked upon each other making a rounded, standing triangle. (Perception Check DC 22) Sweat drips down your face tracking by your eyes. The piercing heat is enough to make you drowsy to the point of making you want to take your helmets and any head gear you may have on, off. (Endurance check) Waves of heat rise from the road the closer you come to the bend. You begin to see them curl around the boulders. Some of you may be edging a bit closer to sleep than you’d like (sleep spell). (Kir Lanan Voice target)
(Zhent Soldiers X 6) Soldiers emerge from the trees to surround the caravan. One steps up between the horses, holding their reins to keep them still. The apprentice looks on shocked but does not pull out a weapon or even appear to try to cast a spell. (perception DC 15) (apprentice knocks on the door to the wagon, it is not a typical knock, but rhythmic). The wizard does not appear. 2 soldiers in front, 2 at the rear, 2 at the sides by the boulders, the Kir Lanan Voice from the side by the boulders.
After 12 rounds, another group of 6 Zhent Soldiers and a Kir Lanan Wing join them circling in from behind them.
After 18 rounds, the voice and the wing leave as well as whichever soldiers are left. They return to the castle to report the hostilities to the Baron.
1) Soldiers win: they go to Dirkent Manse to discuss things with Baron Jacon
2) The party kills off or captures the soldiers and voice. Perception DC 15: find an official document signed by Baron Jacon stating that the Wizard, his apprentice, and his passenger have a bounty for 250 gp for apprentice, 500gp for wizard, and 1000gp for the passenger. The wizard and passenger are wanted ALIVE. The apprentice can be either. The picture is hand drawn but a fairly good representation of the wizard and his apprentice but they are envisioned in very expensive clothing, not the rags they currently wear. The third person appears to be nobility with a goatee, short mustache, hair brought back in a cue. Also their names are not as they told you or as the ones on the caravan. It does NOT say why they are wanted.
The road up ahead has an ancient stone sign post indicating that the road splits into three directions. Which way does the party intend to go?
The road to the right looks well traveled and fairly well maintained. There is a small border of stones that indicate the edges of the road. It goes to the town of Digby which is a small town of about 200 people including the villagers and farmers in the nearby area. The town has a small armory, a blacksmith, a bakery, a butcher, a seamstress, tannery, and local government buildings. There are 2 taverns, one of which appears to have rooms to rent. The Bull and Goat is a run-down set of rooms that reeks from the outside of stale alcohol, burnt meat, smoke, and grease. The Black Tusk Boar has a connecting stable and looks like upper class and nobility might frequent its environs. It has three stories, horse rails outside, stable boys.
Inside the Black Tusk Boar: 9 tables set around the room with some semblance of order. table cloths decorate the tables. While lit by candles and the fire it is still bright inside and the conversation appears mostly cheerful in nature. When you enter, the volume dims a little bit but not much but the villagers are watching from the corners of their eyes every movement you make.

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The road down the center leads back into a wooded area just past the crossing. The road is well rutted and very dusty. Occasionally you see stray rocks in the road and off to the sides are rocks that have dark lines still present from the dirt off the road from where they were removed. The trees are dry in the hot sun from the summer, their limbs drooping just a bit in the heat of the day. As you continue down the road the trees become more of a thick forest that becomes a darker green as you go. The sticks and twigs that litter the road slowly become larger until you come upon a small log lying across the road. It appears to have been there quite a while as there are hoof-prints of deer and assorted other hoofed and non-hoofed creatures where they have jumped over it. In order for the caravan wagon to proceed, the party will need to move the log. (Strength check fail unless 6 people or 800 pounds can be lifted)
Once the log is removed the party continues along road. The trees become denser, their green intensifying as the wagon goes on. The smell in the air changes slowly from dusty, dry dirt more towards that of life, green and damper. The air becomes a little cooler, while remaining hot, the party no longer has the urge to shed their helmets or cloaks at the first opportunity.
Leopold leans out of the door, looks around and nods his head at the direction the wagon is going. He pulls out his map, consulting it, turns it around a quarter turn, then cocks his head to the left to wink at it with his left eye before staring back at the party members closest to him. (Perception DC 20) Pass: if the person is within 5 feet of the wizard he sees a person that appears to pick up something from the map and move it over a river. If the person is further than 5 feet away, he sees what may be a person, but not sure. The jostling of the wagon interferes with a true picture of what is happening. If fail: the person does not see anything.
The wagon continues on until dusk. The party is given the option of continuing on through the increasingly dark woods or of camping nearby. While it is still hot the forest appears to have had either plenty of rain or run-off. It is now verdant green and smells piney. Pine needles litter the road cushioning the horses hooves. Night sounds are beginning to emerge as night creatures rouse themselves. The buzzing of bugs flying here and there can now be heard and the temperature begins to drop. Steadily the road has lead up at a very slight incline, so slight that it was virtually imperceptible once the party entered the forest.

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The Baron’s guards form two lines one in front the other behind as they prepare to take the party to the Castle. Their winged leader, drops down beside the apprentice, startling him (perception dc 10 he winks at the apprentice) before he lifts back to the top of the wagon for his perch giving directions to the others. Still not quite trusting the party, the guards have not returned their weapons to their scabbards.
Off to the left is a road that has clearly seen better days. It is rutted, filled with weeds and assorted rocks. The fields along it have some tree coverage, but they thin out in the distance. As the wagon starts down this road, it dips heavily before the apprentice reaches back his fist to knock on the wizard’s door to let him know which direction the party has chosen. The wizard looks out of the wagon door, up towards the roof. Seeing the winged one, he nods briefly then smiles a little grimly before returning into the wagon. (Perception DC 15) Two voices can be heard from inside the wagon. The wizard’s voice and that of another man are raised in argument. The words, “Baroness”, “Time”, and “Hunted” are clearly heard. Then the voices quiet. Sounds are heard briefly almost appearing to come from under the wagon before all is silent once more.
The road continues along this old wagon trail for several miles until it slowly becomes better maintained almost appearing to be that of an old paved road. The stones are well worn, rutted in some places, cracked in others. The trees begin to show signs of something other than the height of summer as they grow straighter and have brighter foliage. In the distance can be seen a tall castle glimmering in the sun beckoning to all to come in. On top of the wagon, the winged one naps in the sun with his wings stretched out to catch its warmth but with any noise, he comes immediately alert. The heat from the plains decreases the closer you come to the castle.
To the right a river can be heard, but not seen. Its effects have made the area become verdant despite the heat. The sun is slowly edging to the horizon. There may be an hour left of daylight.
As the party reaches Castle Dirkent, they see a well fortified keep that has obviously been around for centuries. Thick walls, enormous slabs of rock make up the outer walls. The battlements are high with plenty of spaces for projectiles to be launched. While the drawbridge is currently down, 2 guards are placed upon it blocking the way.
Upon entering the castle you see a busy courtyard filled with every day castle life. People are scurrying here and there as they prepare for the end of the day. Guards and soldiers train in the yard off to the left. Shouts can be heard as blows land and miss. The soldiers halt the party just outside the stables, asking for everyone to dismount and follow the winged one. Readily the apprentice knocks again upon the wizard’s door, then knocks again in a different pattern. Pausing, he waits for the door to open. Just as he is reaching to knock a third time, the wizard appears in his tattered splendor, head held to regal heights as he looks down his nose at the offending hand. Quickly the apprentice buries his hand deep in his robes, jumps down from the wagon and steps aside to follow. Leopold glares at him and shakes his head. “Stay with the wagon boy!” At that Leopold swiftly paces over the courtyard as if he is very familiar with where he is and up the castle steps.
The Captain of the Guards introduces himself to you as he paces alongside the party. At the first dais the party meets Glendon Airtry, the castle’s steward who leads you the rest of the way to the Baron Jacon’s study. The steward is a younger man, no older than thirty, who is obviously thrilled to have visitors of any type even under duress. He has blonde hair that he keeps curled into ringlets. He is wearing the height of fashion. If you watch him for very long, you may become tired just from watching all of the movement of his body and hands as he speaks. (Perception 10: You can see in his eyes his extreme excitement and that he wants to question you, but won’t unless you start it.) In the study are several portraits done of the women of the family throughout history. Some beautiful, some not, some thin, some rather large. (Perception Check 10: Only one similarity exists between all of the women in each portrait. There is a golden locket upon the neck of each one that bears the ancient crest of the House Dirkent. (History/Lore check 15: know that the locket will not open even when spelled.)
The Baron stands before a bank of windows overlooking the soldiers below. He is a very tall, slender man easily into his fourth or fifth decade. His hair has white streaks along his temples. His hands rest behind his back. His hair is ruffled as if he has run his hands through it a time or two. The room is brightly lit from the sun outside, but as it goes down, the candles spaced around the room continue to give it a bright glow. Once the door closes, the Baron waits a moment or two before turning to greet you. His hair has white streaks along his temples and his face bears the lines of his years of service to the kingdom. On his left hand is his ring of duty, a bold Marquis cut ruby with a diamond set to either side while on his right is his crest, that of the wolf on a field of sapphire blue. While his clothing is obviously well made, it has seen some years. He wears his coat and doublet comfortably, not fashionably.
“I’m sorry for any rudeness my people may have caused you in carrying out my orders, but it is of utmost importance that you came here.” He indicates various chairs around the room and offers refreshment to the party. “Please, stay the night here, so that we may speak.”
“I have a task for you that must be completed prior to the rising of the next moon.”
“Here now, Jacon, these folk were hired by me! They are obligated to me first and will do my bidding!” Leopold continues standing as he begins his tantrum at the intrusion, the theft, the ….
“ Now, um, Leopold is it?” The Baron casts the wizard a wry glance. “What I need your people to do won’t take you any further out of your way than you need to go, if I know you! You’re heading over the border, correct? I need these good people to do just that with one… side trip. I need them to find and return something that belongs to me.”
(The Baron is not talking about 4 days from now, but the moon after that one.)
The Baron will resupply the party with foods, water, some ale, and 5 bottles of healing potion. He provides tokens of safe passage to each party member. He offers a map of the area that is up to date. The wizard declines it, but the party may take it. Upon completion each person will receive 300 GP.
Leaving the castle the road goes over towards the river. The nearest bridge is most of a day’s uneventful journey. As the road nears the bridge it widens, some livestock can be heard. A few boats can be seen here and there as if there is some type of commerce to be had. Some people come near the bridge but the Baron’s guards there turn most everyone away. If anyone in the party is openly displaying the safe passage necklace, then the party may cross the bridge without question. If it is not in display, the party will be turned away.
Upon crossing the river the road wanders lazily over lightly treed areas. As it comes closer to dark, you come upon a group of men converged in the middle of the road blocking all from continuing. Two of the men are shirtless and look like they are wrestling while the others are cheering or jeering as they see fit. Money changes hands with each new position the men gain. Their horses are left with their reins hanging to the ground as the match continues.
The party cannot travel around the men. The deep tilled dirt along the road is way too soft for the wagon to travel through without getting stuck.
If the party waits it out and bets, the two men are Henley and Barlen. Henley is a red haired burly man who looks like the bulked out blacksmith he is. Barlen is as burley with black hair and fists like chunks of meat. He’s the local butcher. On his right wrist underneath his wristguard is the tattoo of a spider in its web. The fight scene will be enacted. Odds favor Henley 3:1. Rolls will determine who wins it.
If the party chooses to force them to move out of the way, a fight will ensue. Both brawlers will turn on the party. The entire group is 16 strong, and it will be rolled to determine how many will join the fight.
The Dragon-born intimidates a group of five men before trying to pull the wagon through the crowd. The others turn to attack and attempt to move the caravan wagon from their road in order to be able to continue their fight.
Five are killed off, multiple people are intimidated by their death and run for it. The two combatants are left with three others. (Perception DC 15 The butcher’s vambrace shifts enough to display the tattoo of a black widow spider with a woman’s head. It is spinning its web down and around his wrist from the inside. Where the hour glass would be are two intertwined tear drops with a red eye peering from where they overlay much like a yin-yang.)
If the group attempts to get information from any of the men left: Intimidate/Persuasion/Diplomacy DC 20.
Information to be had: The village is off to the rights while the Baron’s castle is mostly directly ahead. They may have heard of the locket, but only as a tale told over ale. It was a teen’s challenge and a teen claimed it years ago. They don’t know which who it was. It’s an old story now. But, they do warn the party to get off the road before dark. Strange things happen and people disappear once the moon rises in these parts.
If the party offers the men a ride back to town, they will become more gregarious and share all kinds of info about the area. Who to go to for the best ale, who has the best leather, who has the best dinner, whose armor you need to avoid… that kind of information. They will also warn that whoever is wearing the badges should remove them since they aren’t appreciated on this side of the bridge.
In order to get where the wizard needs for the party to go, the party must to go through the village, out the other side and through the Forest of Marching Embers.
History: DC 20, Persuasion/Diplomacy: DC 20 A long time ago the forest had another name, it had something to do with Dawn or the coming of day but no one remembers exactly what it was. Then one day a shriek reverberated from the forest, echoing into the village and the forest appeared to darken. Over time more and more people went missing whenever they travelled by the forest after dark. Strange chittering and clacking can be heard on nights when the moon is dark. The reason it is called the Forest of Marching Embers is that many people have sworn that they have seen red glowing embers the appeared to walk through the forest. These dancing lights can be seen at waist height as well as up in the trees. The hinted at forest creatures are now used to scare children at night on this side of the bridge.
In Tromph Village the party will find a butcher, stables, blacksmith, armorer, government building, weaver, tavern/guest house, and three temples. Two of the temples are in the center of town, one is just outside the village. The first has a bright gleaming sun on top. At first glance this temple appears to be extremely prosperous with bright, gleaming gold toned pieces perched to catch and direct every bit of sunlight inside. The columns are brilliant white. The path leading up to the temple is wide, crushed rock lined on the sides with lavender and summer herbs which are blooming, scenting the air. To the side is a small medicinal garden where a supplicant may be seen clipping herbs for his basket. Potted plants and flowers adorn the porch and stairs. While no one is on the outside of this temple, people can be overheard enjoying some kind of lively discussion just inside the doors.
The second has a set of bull horns on top of it that are white and tipped black. This temple of made of striated granite, beautifully polished, yet bold. Its pathway is made of grey stone pavers. On its porch are urns of oil that are burning something spicy, yet woodsy scented, very masculine hints of something musky echo in a sandalwood bed. Inside is a very Male oriented clientele, very bloodthirsty but warlike, not murderous. They are not soldiers per se…. but maybe berzerkers with a cause? You see hides strewn about, covering the chairs. Skeletal heads are perched on shelves throughout the reception, but they do not appear to be staring. Instead they are more vacant, absent, not malevolent. Men can be seen sharpening swords on well worn tables that bear nicks and scars from throws and points made. Pieces of armor lay in various repair all over the place some obviously being attended to while others have been long forgotten. Behind a large rectangular table bearing the worst of the scarring is a set of studded doors leading into where the inner sanctum probably is. A very large man is sharpening his sword while reclining against this door. He looks over the edge of his whet stone at the intruders, his eyes leave no confusion of the opinion he holds of them. Total in the reception area: 8 men who are not talkative. On the bulletin board is a picture of the wizard, the apprentice, and another man. There is a bounty out for them. The wizard and the man are wanted alive. The apprentice is negotiable. Apprentice: 250 gp. Wizard: 500 gp. Man: 1000 gp.

(Guard at the door: Human Dread Assassin AC: 36, HP: 161, XP: 4150, MH2: pg 145) Inside are: 4 Human Dire Beast Hunters AC: 22, HP: 76, XP: 400, MH2: pg. 145) Other 3 are Human Guards AC: 18, HP: 47, XP: 150 each, MH1: pg. 162). Total XP for Bull’s Temple: 6200

The third temple is not visible. If the party asks about churches or temples any villager will refuse to say its name or indicate where it is other than to tilt his head in its direction then warn you to stay away. The direction indicated is very overgrown with ancient trees overhanging a weed covered stone path. If the member travels that path it leads to a very old, worn down, marble temple. It has cracked pillars, moss growing everywhere, and has waist high weeds. An aura of great age permeates the temple and its grounds. The steps are well worn to the point of having hollows where countless feet have trod. Cob webs dangle from the ceiling on the porch to the mosaic on the floor (The mosaic is of three women with four arms in long skirts. Each woman is working on a piece of a tapestry about sometime deep in the past. It depicts great buildings of stone and marble in their splendor. The silk that she weaves appears to come from underneath her long, black raw silk skirt.) Intricate webs are spun between each column catching and reflecting the sun back upon the outer path, letting very little light into the temple proper. In order to enter the temple, the thick webs must be first cut then removed. Inside the temple every window is covered by intricately woven silk tapestries depicting women entertaining various men with food and wine. The tapestries show a progression of a party-like atmosphere where the women slowly entice the men with food and wine to do their bidding no matter how bloody and gruesome. Passive Perception DC 20: In each picture a small, very poisonous spider climbs out from a sleeve or skirt of the woman depicted. In one the spider is pouring its own venom into the cup she is giving to the man with her.
No one is present in this temple, but while the outside appear distinctly abandoned, the inside has been immaculately kept up. Candles are burning from sconces along the walls emitting a low light, nothing bright. Perception DC 15: Skittering sounds. Passive Perception DC 15: The spider webs from outside have disappeared to be replace by much more intricate ones high up, almost hidden in the depths of the ceiling.
If anyone looks up, red unblinking orbs can be seen. Some glide through the darkness, soundlessly. As you watch two seem to be swinging, like a pendulum but getting steadily closer to you. Once the party completely enters the temple, 12 Feyspitter Spiders (MH3, HP 80, XP 300, pg 183 (total: 3600XP) slide down runnels to attack them. Perception DC 20: An image of a lovely, dark elf riding an enormous black and red spider can be seen on beside the altar. She has an amused smile as she watches the battle. After the second round, she disappears. If attacked, she does not appear to be there at all. (Religion DC 37 to know who she is)
From a door behind the altar comes a tall dark skinned female elf with ghost white hair. (Arcana DC: 25. Drow Arachnomancer enters) (XP 800, HP 94, AC 26, MH1: 94) Flanking him are 2 Deathjump Spiders (HP 55, XP 175, AC 20, MH1: 246, total: 350 XP) Temple total XP: 4750.

Under the altar is a set of catacombs should anyone get that far. On one of the side stairs is a kick switch that allows part of the dais to move backwards to reveal steps that lead down into the darkness below. Thievery/dungeoneering DC 25. There are 15 stairs that lead down to the East. At the bottom is a platform where sconces are. Each sconce is heavily covered in webbing that obscures any light that may have been emitted. No torches are visible. Cobwebs dangle from the 10 foot ceiling that was carved from the stone hundreds of years ago. The walls and ceiling appear smooth. More stairs lead further down heading slightly Southeast. Perception DC: 10: As you touch the walls your hand comes away with webbing on it that has tiny pearly of liquid. It is not sticky, just wet as if the damp had become balls on the web.

Going along you see darker areas that are openings into various rooms. There is a constant feeling of being watched. The webbing begins to shine with an eerie green glow as some chittering can be heard as well as the clicking of many feet upon the floor. The floor is vacant of anything including dust. The air while damp does not smell that way. There is a breeze flowing through the tunnels. Up ahead is a gate with obscured writing on it. Some of the letters have been chipped out. Only 5 whole letters remain.
Where once there was what may have been a tree emblazoned on the gate is now the image of a spider done completely in a spider’s silk. Two dark elves are guarding the gate. They are inside it. The hinges of the gate open inwards, but the silk of the web covers the seam as welding the two pieces together.
Drow Guards X 2 (AC

Arcana DC 15: Blood spider (AC , HP, XP ) The spider turns to watch each member of the party as if memorizing each face before it recasts the web on the gate leaving almost invisible strands attached to the walls for tensors.

The tunnel opens up to a cavernous abyss. Torches are spaced out to indicate tunnels here and there. Perception/Dungeoneering DC 10 There are 10 tunnels with dark elves and humans both male and female coming and going (Arcana DC 20: Some of the females are clerics. The males are guards, messengers, etc.) There is an arched catwalk that crosses the abyss that leads to what may look like a column that connects the roof to the floor of the abyss. There is a ledge around it. Everywhere can be seen webbing, images of spiders are seen carved in relief all over the place. They cite the life cycle of the spider showing all different types. Off to the left there are what look like a room full of enormous caught bugs encased in cocoons of webbing hanging from the ceiling. Dehydrated carcasses of elves, humans, and other large animals lie scattered on the floor. To the left is a VERY large spider that is engorged and may be sleeping.

If the party decides to go to the Goose’s Tale Tavern it was at one time a nicely kept place, but there are signs of obvious wear now. It’s blue and white paint is beginning to peel in places. There is a stable that is kept by the son of the tavern owner. He walks out to greet you as he takes the horses inside. He takes one look at the wagon and tells you, “Gypsies stay on the southside of town down past the forest. You’ll find their wagons down thata way.” He indicates the road out of town towards Marching Embers Forest.

Inside, the tables are grouped with vases of herbs here and there. The herbs dispel the smoke from the fire a bit while candle lit lanterns shed light throughout. The smell of roasting meat and baking bread permeate the room. Mugs are raised as men joke and laugh here and there, telling stories. In one corner is a group of men that everyone seems to be avoiding. They are talking in low tones that cannot be overheard. As you walk around, each group of men watches you surreptitiously trying to figure out who you are. Perception DC 15: One table of men is not talking at all, just glaring at you. One man stands, points his finger at the party and yells, “That’s them! They’re the ones that murdered Willem and Caden!” 25 people in the tavern. (1 Human Knife Fighters. AC: 21, HP: 162, XP: 600, MM2 147) (2 Human Cavalier, AC: 23, HP: 78, XP: 300, ). 15 Human Guards, AC: 18, HP: 47, XP: 150 each, MH1: pg. 162.) Total XP for Tavern: 4050. Tavern Owner will demand payment for all broken tables, mugs, etc. BUT will let you stay. (DM roll to see if son sneaks out to get the city guard) IF ANY safe passage tokens are still out, the fight will be brought to the attention of the city guard.

IF the party chooses to EITHER stay at the tavern but not enter the common room, go to the Gypsy camp, or to the Sun Temple they get the FULL XP from the tavern for avoiding the fight. If they stay at the SUN temple, they will be asked to help prune the garden before dinner.

Next morning: Road out of town leads to Marching Embers Forest. Leopold informs the party that the border is on the other side of the forest. You now have 2 days to get there. The road is very well travelled leading out of the village. It goes South for a ways before it splits into three directions. Right before the fork is a small grove of trees surrounding a tiny cottage that is very well maintained. It has a thatch room, pots of herbs and flowers decorate its porch. Drying flowers and other plants hang from the porch roof scent the air giving it a very pleasant clean smell. The north road enters the forest a bit further on than the more direct due East one does. The one that leads Southeast goes back towards the river where the stable boy indicated the gypsies stayed. Small cottages decorate the countryside where tiny farms can be seen. Each has its own lean-to and workers are already in the fields around it bringing water to the plants and pulling weeds.

If the party goes inside, Maisie knows “Rheinholt”, the wizard, very well, jumping to hug him as soon as she sees him. He smiles and gruffly greets her as she flutters about bubbling over with happiness at having visitors. She has 4 healing potions that she will see at a discount due to her relationship with “Rheiny”. She offers one healing potion for 25 gp and if the party buys 3 or 4 they are 20gp each. She has 4 more that are “not quite aged” that she will sell for half price. These potions will heal for ¾ of the healing surge.

Entering the forest the temperature drops almost dramatically. The trees are a very dark green that twine together overhead creating a canopy that shields all below it from the sun. After travelling for about an hour, Perception DC 10: a party member feels something watching them, hears something following them. The ground beneath the horses’ feet is very soft and springy. Occasionally, one of the horses will shy a bit as something snaps beneath their feet, but it is so deeply covered by fallen needles and leaves that it cannot be seen unless someone digs it up. Nature DC: 10. Bones are breaking beneath their hooves. They are not trained war horses.

The deeper you go into the forest, the more silent it becomes. Nature DC: 15 The only sound you hear consistently is that of something chittering. After another hour, the chittering sound rises rapidly then becomes silent. You come to a fork in the road. One leads almost directly ahead while the other veers to the left and north a little.

If the group continues on the straighter one, after about 10 yards, it becomes completely impassable due to spider webs of an unusual, unburnable silken strand. (The same scenario meets them on each path, just the spacing varies as to whether it is 10 yards (straight) or 100 yards (left). Once in the forest, the wizard’s map is unusable. Knives, swords, and various pierced pieces of armor are strewn both on the ground and in the webbing. Bones have been cracked and pulverized along the edges of the webs. If the party peers through their strands, they will see hair, bones, some shreds of clothing and a couple of lone boots lying tossed about.

Perception: DC 10 Two dark gray-green cloaks are found dangling from one enormous web. As the wind blows through them the cloaks move as if there are still people in them, but no one is there. The webs remain perfectly still.

The webs hold everything within their grasp with ease. No breeze shifts them. The trees appear to bend towards them, not the other way around. Their tensile strength is incredible and does not appear to be able to be cut. The wizard consults his map. There was once a way along the other path. There may still be, but this group must exit the forest before night fall or the border will not be made by day’s end on the following day.

Should the party try to push their way through this path they will encounter:

6 Death jump spiders MM1 AC 18, HP 52, XP 175 (1,050)
3 Feyspitter Spider AC 21, MM 3, HP 80, XP 300 (900)

2 Ranger’s Cloaks with an ELVEN cloak +2 for Rob

Once the webs are touched, cut, burnt, or in any way damaged or moved, the spiders’ tremor sense will be activated and they will stalk then attack the party

Once past the webs, the path narrows and becomes darker. It is just wide enough for the wagon to pass. Up ahead a throbbing can be felt in the air. (Religion DC: 10 It is a ceremony. Religion DC 30: People are setting up for the appearance or calling of a god or goddess.)

As the party enters the clearing, they see about 25 people there. Some are dancing, sword dancing as well as knife dancing. Occasionally, one of the dancers will slice his arm to drip blood into a bowl set on a large, flat grey stone. Mist is curling around the stone slowly rising to the hole where the tree tops have parted to show the rising of the moon. The people dancing are mostly men with women chanting near the altar.

The women raise their arms up from the sides of their bodies making a slow circle until their palms meet in the center above their heads. As their hands rise, their heads tip back to the sky until their eyes are on where their hands meet above their heads. Their palms silently clap together as they bring them directly in front of them until their fingertips are just below their eyes.

Perception DC 20: Tattoos of spiders can be seen on their bodies in different places. Most of those dancing are nude to the waist, but have plenty of knives and assorted weapons on their bodies.

To the side is a:
Drow Blade Master (MM1, AC 30, HP 248, XP 1600)

He is acting as a “guard” to the altar. He will not step in unless Lolth is directly attacked. Then he will be purely defensive.)

In the crowd are:

XP are for each, not total
1 Drow female Spellspinner (Neverwinter AC 22, HP 64, XP 350) (350)
3 Drow male Swashbucklers (NW, AC 21, HP 81, XP 300), (900)
10 Human Goons (Monster Vault, AC 15, HP 1, XP 31) (310)
2 Human Knife Fighters (MM2, AC 21, HP 162, XP 600). (1200)
10 Human Cultists wearing chain (D Mag, AC 22, HP 1, XP 63) (630)

Total XP if all are killed or if all survive without fighting: 3,390

The mist deepens, swirls and grows before your eyes until it engulfs the area behind the stone where the bowl of blood rests. Silently the mist lifts the bowl up towards the top and tips it. The blood pours out into the mist, disappearing before your eyes. Slowly, so slowly the mist turns blood red, then deepens into the darkest of blackened mahogany. It spins harder and harder pulling itself inwards, ever inwards. Slowly it congeals and a beautiful dark skinned woman wearing a pale grey dress woven of the finest of threads solidifies behind the altar. The background behind her appears filled with stars for a moment as deep screams and soul stealing moans are heard before everything fades out to be replaced by the trees once more. Her eyes are bright, glistening and black. She smiles at her gathering, watching their dance, nodding her head as she notes who is gathered before her and who has called her back before she pounds her staff sharply on the rock at her feet. A crack splits the night as the gathering screams in high pitched voices, a sound unnatural to the human or even fey voice. It sends shivers down the spines of the party members. Her hand caresses her staff as she surveys all in attendance.
The gathered people begin making a strange sound, calling to someone or something. Nature DC 15: Spider calling.
Perception DC 15: You recognize many of the people in the crowd from the fight the party disrupted the day before.
Passive Perception DC 15: There is an exit to the clearing off to the right, not quite at the altar. It is about 10 yards from it. No one appears to be watching it, but then again, no one appears to be watching the one the party entered either.
The wizard looks at the clearing, nods his head gravely then pulls out his wand. Slowly he closes his eyes, whispers something, and the wagon disappears. The wizard then gasps as if attacked psychically, doubling over he is stopped only by his grip on the ash staff in his stress-white fingers. With pain filled stress echoing from every muscle, he pauses, still doubled over as he tries to catch his breath. Strain is seen all over his face as he forces himself back to standing straight, opening his eyes. “We may proceed” he barely whispers as he nods to the exit.
If the party attempts to hide or sneak successfully, they will split all the XP from this meadow encounter. This does not include the XP for Lolth. She will neither attack nor be attacked. She will sit back and watch the slaughter cheering on for the sheer chaos of the bloodshed.
Perception: DC20 Beside the altar is an ancient rectangular chest. It has stuff carved on it, but unless the party member is up beside it, he will never be able to tell what it is.
Perception: DC15 Off to the far, high left is a cave entrance that is lit by lanterns and guarded by
2 Drow Swashbucklers (AC 21, HP 81, Initiative +10, XP 300) (600)
It is well maintained, cleared of debris from this side. Looking closely, the shadows from the lanterns appear to be striking a wall as if the cave turns sharply in order to exit into the meadow.
Perception: DC 15 Off to the high right is an exit path leading generally in the direction the party needs to go. Between the party and the exit it is fairly clear. You see that by skirting the trees, you may be able to leave without being seen.
Perception/Nature: DC 15 The chittering that was heard in the forest is growing louder and much closer. It is as if hundreds of sticks were striking each other or perhaps something more sinister than that?
What does the party do? Do they stay to see what is going to happen here?
If they stay they hear the dark skinned woman say,
“You have done well my children. The time of my rising is coming fast upon us. The wolves that have threatened you these many years shall soon become fodder for my kith and kine. I can see by your offerings that you have been training hard and gathering the tools that we shall need.” She nods her head to a small group (6) of humans. “Your kind shall be the first to learn the rule of the ancients. The spinning of Time’s Web upon them has come. They shall be woven in the web of our creation!” Then she turns back to the drow. “You, my children, shall reap the rewards of your long service and servitude! Slaves to those bringers of light you will be no more! Rise my children and dance. Tonight we merge with my foundlings sharing our blood with them so that we shall be one!”
The drow and the humans let loose their unearthly screams as 30+ enormous spiders jump and drop into the meadow. The spiders are of the size to ride as a mount. Each spider hunts out a drow or a human to wait for their offering of blood. The gathering slices their arms to let their blood drip into each spider’s mouth bonding with it. There are more spiders than people present in the middle of the clearing. The last five spiders split up to find offerings. Two go to the guards at the cave entrance. One goes to the altar where the Drow Guard stands by the woman. Two more of the spiders move towards the party.
2 Blade Spiders (MM1, AC 22, HP 130, XP 500) (1000)
If the party treats these spiders as they people in the meadow do by giving it their blood, the spiders treat them as “friendly”. If someone who is fey feeds them, the spiders are a bit more, friendly. No one can ride these spiders to use in combat unless they are level 10+, but the blade spiders may trail the party and guard the ones who shared their blood. If someone of good alignment offers blood to the spider, he may spit it back out, appear to glare and wander off to find better tasting blood.
If the party decides to try to kill them off, they risk the chance of being noticed by the other people in the gathering. DC 20 to be noticed.
If they decide to sneak around the edge of the clearing, every 10 squares moved, they will have to reroll their Sneak/Hide score at DC 15. Unsuccessful rolls will require the DM to roll for the people in the clearing to see if the sounds made were loud enough to pierce their celebration.
Upon successfully entering the pathway, the party sees that it isn’t as late as they had thought. While in the clearing, it was very dark, requiring lanterns even though the sun should have shown. The further away from the clearing the party gets, the more “normal” it appears until at last the pathway no longer represents a spider’s pantry. Instead it begins looking like the ancient road through the woods that it should be. After about a half hour, the wizard halts the party and moves his arms indicating for all who are behind him to move out of the way. He takes a very deep breath and breathes a single whispered word that ends in his silent collapse at the front of the wagon. The apprentice jumps down from the wagon seat to revive his master asking for help getting him back into the wagon. He assures the party that his master only requires rest, that he has overextended himself. The wizard chooses to sit on the wagon seat, instead.
Perception: DC 15 The apprentice is chiding his master under his breath for casting magic at all. He calls him “Old Man” as he does. He repeats over and over that he knew better than to do so after the last battle he was in. He wasn’t ready… The wizard weakly opens his eyes and says, “Boy, get me my tea. This old man isn’t beaten, yet.” Then the wizard reaches out his hand to pat the apprentice on the shoulder affectionately as he closes his eyes once more.
The journey out of the woods appears to be uneventful except that the party feels constantly watched. At one point someone hears trotting behind them, but when he turns, nothing is there. From somewhere in the trees “wolves” bark, growl, then howl. The sounds of pursuit are heard from behind. If someone turns to look, they see three very muscular huge dogs bound across the trail chasing a stag. One stops at the edge of the path, turns to face the party. Red gleaming eyes take in every one who is watching before it nods then gives a deep bark before leaping back into the hunt once more. A strangled cry echoes through the woods that at first comes out as an animal, then as the echo fades sounds distinctly human.
If the party chooses to chase after them the “wolves” will turn on them for their prey. They will first stalk them, then as a group pounce on one of the party members most exposed. They will bite at the horses to incapacitate them.
1 Hell hound AC: 20, Fort: 18, Ref: 17 Will: 18, Init: 5, Speed: 7, HP: 96 XP: 300
2 Dire Wolves: AC: 19, Fort: 18, Ref: 17, Will: 16, Init: 7, Speed: 8 HP: 67, XP: 200
3 Gray Wolves: AC 16, Fort: 14, Ref: 15, Will: 13, Init: 6, Speed: 8 HP: 38, XP 125
For a moment, all is silent in the forest then snuffling of animals, limbs being jumped onto, and insects buzzing are heard. The sun goes down slowly and the closeness of the forest begins to dissipate as the trees begin to thin and the undergrowth begins to look more like grass and less like vines. By nightfall, the party has exited the forest to see the road continuing on through meadows of wheat and sunflowers. The apprentice consults the wizard’s map to see a town a day’s journey ahead. The border to this barony appears to be in the town.
Looking down the road, no travelers are coming towards the forest. In fact if anyone looks back at the forest, there are signs that tell travelers to go back to the town because of the dangers to be found ahead among the trees. Just ahead on the right is what appears to be a run-down ranger’s house with a couple of pony’s tied up. There is a lean-to shed beside it. A couple of trees in the yard hold targets and swinging dummies for practicing. Multiple holes are seen in grouped patterns all over it as if someone had been practicing specific placement groupings instead of kill shots. Upon closer inspection, you see the holes were made by knives, arrows, and sword slashes.
The sun has now set. The party is less than a mile from the edge of the forest.
If the party knocks on his door, then Gerhardt, while gruff and almost non-verbal, will indicate that there is space by his fire, hay, and water as well as stew for them should they choose. He won’t serve them, but space can be made available for weary travelers if they tell him their story.
While he recognizes the wizard, he says nothing to Rheinholt just looks at him closely noting the very pasty pallor of his skin, then nods towards the only chair in the room with padding. Rheinholt is the only person that Gerhardt serves. He brings out cool cider, apples, raisins, bread and cheese to hand with great respect to the wizard as if he were royalty.
Perception: DC 25 Gerhardt pulls Rheinholt aside and tells him that the package that Raven is looking for is in the regular place with all his favorites and a few new toys as well.
As the party gathers round the fireplace and the small table, Gerhardt warns of packs of shadow hounds that have been terrorizing the land and people around here. He shakes his head as if there is more, but doesn’t share it unless asked.
If asked, he looks deeply into the eyes of the one asking the question then tells them, “It is said that the hounds are in league with a pack of werewolves from the other side of the side of the forest. I haven’t seen them personally, but thought you may want to be warned in case you go back that way. I’ve lost 3 rangers to this forest in the last couple of years. At least, I know they haven’t returned from their trips.
**********************
If anyone cares to question Gerhardt they will learn that the incidence of what may be were creatures has been on the rise. Huge spiders such as the ones that are now with them have been seen. People with spider tattoos have also been seen. It is suspected that they are a cult, but no one appears to know what they are up to. He in turn asks for information concerning the cult. If the party chooses to share their information, he will send it on to the authorities to look into it more thoroughly. He is very concerned. He does note the ranger cloak that Marvelous appears to be wearing, but chooses to say nothing unless it is brought out in the open out of respect for Rheinholt.
The town is about 6-7 hours down the road according to Gerhardt. He provides a breakfast of oats, fruits, and cheese before pointing the party on their way. He warns that the spiders may not be very welcome in the town and may cause undue concern and attention. Rheinholt smiles and actually laughs saying, “Since when have I not been noticed when I wanted to be?”
As you go outside, you see the apprentice loading a few small bags into the undercarriage trunk area. They are dark color and do not reflect light well. You can’t discern their shape from where you are.
As the sun rises behind you, the road is dusty but better maintained than the ones you’ve travelled so far. There are well maintained grain fields on either side of the road. Farmers and their hands are out working them with assorted implements and wagons. The hot summer sun rises, but doesn’t appear quite as hot here as it did a few days ago. There are irrigation ditches along the way which make the fields more verdant than the ones from the previous barony.
Off to the left is the sound of water running. If the party looks at the wizard’s map, they will see the River Rizan bisecting that side of the land as it twists in and out, snaking its way along. It is a narrow, quick running river that burbles along happily churning its water along the way. On the map, boats can be seen traversing here and there with what may be cargo, but the distance is too great for the map to make it completely clear.
After an hour, the fields begin to yield to dairy and other farm animals with assorted farm houses scattered here and there. The scents of fresh herbs, flowers, basically clean green smells are everywhere almost as if everything was freshly washed or freshly cut, like fresh cut grass. People begin to come and go between the farmhouses and the party sees what may be families, workers, or servants travelling about doing chores, duties, etc as they go about their daily activities.
It appears to be a regular day with regular people doing their daily things. The town can be seen on the horizon. There are some hills between you, but they aren’t high. The buildings are easily 2-3 stories tall if not 4 in some places. There are roads that bisect the one you are on, but the wizard says to continue down the road you are on. Where he needs to go is on the far side of the village in what look to be more hills. Every now and then patrols come out, but they aren’t really looking for anything in specific, just noting what is going on here and there. While the people in the party are noted for being outsiders, they are not glared at as they were on previous days, but neither are the people exactly friendly. They are more standoffish, not quite turning their heads away rudely. To the observant it comes across more as if they do not want to know that you are there. Some stare openly at the spiders when they are visible. Others turn and hurry away. The wizard’s spider is sitting on top of the carriage basking in the sun while Nadar’s spider is scurrying along in the fields racing off here and there to snag a snack.
As the party travels, the wizard begins to look a bit healthier. Gerhardt gave him some travelling cakes that boosted him up a bit. He is able to sit up straight without slouching down now. The apprentice has kept him supplied with a slimy type of tea that he grimaces over each time he drinks it, but musters to keep it down. His color is better than it has been since he brought back the wagon the day before.
DC 15 A patrol stops the party to ask about the spiders. There are 4 total patrols, 1 every 1.5 hours. So there are 4 opportunities for someone to decide to ask questions. If their bluff or diplomacy check fails, then the party will be taken to the city to talk to the local sheriff about their spiders and the safety of the city of Rohein while the spiders are within it.
If the party makes their rolls, they travel in relative peace into the city.
The wizard reminds the party that they must go into the city and travel to the far edge exiting by the docks to the rocky caves on the outskirts of town. Rheinholt tells them that he needs to go to the Brawling Goat in order to get something before they exit town.
It is a large sprawling city with multiple businesses, taverns, restaurants, etc. Most whatever they would want may be here, but not necessarily in the quantities or the quality that they would want it. This is mainly a farming community that just happens to be at the crossroads of several different trade routes. SO they have all sorts of basic yet exotic items available. The buildings are stucco and heavy beams with lots of hand carved shutters and slated roofs. Oddly enough many of the shutters appear to have wards carved into them. (DC 15: Wards against evil in general and were creatures in specific, mostly werewolves)
There are several churches, temples, and guild houses throughout the city. The wizard avoids the churches and the guilds glaring at a couple of the guild houses in disgust as he passes them. The temples he ignores as he continues through the city.
Travelers, while noted, are not always thought of negatively. The people are not the most friendly, but will answer questions when asked. Bands of different people wander here and there, some dwarves, some elves, etc, but rarely are they in mixed company. The group sees taverns that advertise for dwarves, elves, etc as patrons with those nationalities and ethnic groups patronizing them.
The Brawling Goat is a very large tavern on the far side of town by the river port where all nationalities and ethnicities appear to be heading. Above its door is a sign carved into the shape of a hand holding a basket filled with varying produce. It is the local symbol of welcome to all. It is a very old building that may have been an old converted warehouse at one time. To the side is a stable. DC 15 the spiders upset the local horses. Someone needs to convince them to go somewhere else.
Inside it is filled with languages in all tongues. It is huge with two separate bars and multiple people waiting tables. It is obviously NOT a family-run establishment as people of all ethnicities are bustling everywhere filling orders, clearing tables, stoking the fire. Smoke wafts here and there. Laughter is heard as stories are told. If the party moves through the crowd, occasionally the words DC 10 Perception “spiders” and “wolves” can be heard in undertones. There is a small band of drow in a far corner that is keeping to themselves. Every now and then a person will walk to their table and they will wave them off as if they are looking for someone in specific. Rheinholt sees them and weaves his way towards the waving the party away. DC 20 The party member overhears: I have fulfilled my part of the bargain. When I cross the border, my cargo will be released. Remove the geas upon me! Return my magic!”
“ha ha ha, your magic was never taken from you wizard, it was just made …. painful to use. She made it that way so you could learn to appreciate how some of us see magic. Do you now wish to be able to use it without that incredible experience? For that you will need to complete the mission… then we will renegotiate.” The drow in charge places his mug down on the table with an audible click that immediately brings service his way. “Go and finish your task, wizard. I am waiting! You still have time to fail, yet…and then you’ll be mine.”
A patrol enters the Brawling Goat and everyone shuts up immediately. The unit looks over everyone present intently looking at gear and apparel. Is anyone in the party still wearing a badge from the first Baron openly? If so, the patrol wants a word with them immediately.
The lowest ranking member of the patrol walks over to the adventurer’s board on the column in the center of the room and nails up a wanted poster. On the piece of paper is a very well dressed man in dark clothes. It says he is a little taller than average height with dark hair and eyes. He is wearing a bandana over his mouth and nose with a scarf over his hair, but the edges of hair curling out of it are dark. On the paper is written, “WANTED ALIVE for QUESTIONING! RAVEN of Marelsburg .$100 GP for Any information leading to his detention or capture. See Captain Krandall
Off to the left back corner a group of guards are talking about the latest thefts and murders that have been going on. They mention the increased howls that happen during the night and their worries about the threat of the possibility of were creatures.
The crash of a mug hitting a table rings through the room silencing the patrons as an anciently decrepit man weaves his way through the room bumping into most and smashing his metal mug against tables and chairs alike. In a voice filled with cracks, greed, and the fumes of the drink he prefers, he says to any that will listen, “The MOON! The Moon will be out tonight! She will be hunting! Best stay in, stay in, stay …. in!” His eyes begin to glaze over as fear begins to shake him. The guards quickly pick him up by the elbows to escort him from the tavern.
“As you were! If you have any information about the capture of this man… The Raven, You know where to find me!” Captain Krandall announces to the room before he, too, exits.
The patrons slowly begin to talk again building the volume of the room back to where it was. Meat, cheese, and bread get passed along, beer and ale splash here and there. The table of drows exits in silence leaving Rheinholt by himself at the table.
With his fingers slowly drilling the table, the wizard looks up from under his heavy brows and motions for the party to join him.

“The time for repast has ended, I fear. We must continue our journey. It isn’t far, just on the outskirts of town.” With that he rises, drops a coin into the servers hand and steadily walks out the door.
He leads the way to the wagon and pays the urchins who were standing guard around it. One touches his forelock then dashes away saying, “My master had business to attend to, sir. Pleasure doing business with you as always!”
The wagon travels through some very tight narrow streets. The buildings become older, some more ragged than before. Some have window gardens, but most just look aged. Slowly the road begins to broaden, then opens up into a pseudo town square. Finally, the party comes to the market square of this area of town, but it is strangely empty.
No one is out on the streets, no children playing, no hawkers with wares, but there are some empty booths here and there. Pathways between the stalls are empty of people. The gauze used as walls wafts ghostly pale between the booths and stalls. All of the doors are closed and all of the windows are shuttered closed. No other people appear to be traveling this way. Wending your way through the maze of booths, something cracks behind the wagon, then slams down hard. (If they choose to turn around, they will see a booth over turned blocking their way back) A female’s laughter echoes through the square, but she is not seen.
“Rheinholt, did you really think I would let you go so easily?” Her laughter fades away and on the slight breeze is heard, “Get them, boys”
From the sides of the booths come: 3 BSM and 1 CB after 5 rounds, 2 CB join and 1 BSM joins, at 10 rounds 1 BSM and 2 CB join to make the total 10.
5: Boneshard Mongrel: AC 17 HP 70 INIT +5, XP 200 ea (Dungeon Magazine 166)
5 Cult Berzerkers: AC 15, HP 66 INIT +3, XP 175 ea (Dungeon Magazine 158)
Once the party takes out these, they make their way through the rest of the square. As they exit the square, they see urchins running off to inform people of the winner. There is a slightly nicer area of town up ahead where the party may rest. The sun will be going down in 3 hours. You are now less than an hour from your destination. After people are patched up and things are fixed, the party continues out of town to where the border is. When the party looks at it, they see a small “no man’s land” then the beginnings of more town. It is the borderline that breaks this town physically in half between the two baronies, but it is more than that. It is a stretch of land where no trees grow with one road crossing between the two. The fields are well mown and easy to traverse across, but no one is walking on them since the road here is very wide. Just outside the border a band of men stand waiting. They are inspecting each vehicle that comes by, looking for someone or something. They demand entrance into each vehicle. Without entrance, they do not let the vehicle pass.
Outside town:
Half-orc Scarthane: AC 20, HP 96, INIT +6 XP 300 (MM 2)
Human Cavalier: AC 23 HP 78, INIT +8 XP 300
2 Duergar Guards: AC 20, HP 58, INIT +6, XP 175 ea (MM2)
They demand entrance to the wagon. What does the party choose to do? If they choose to let them search, nothing will be found other than typical wizarding stuff. Raven will be safely ensconced in the hidey hold.
(950 XP for each player for surviving this and the market square)

************************
The party crosses through the barricade without incident. As the party continues up the road, it becomes cobblestoned and leads into a very decorative arched entryway into the city. It is hard to believe that this is the same city as the one you just left. Everywhere you look the city is more artistic. It has fountains, greenery, and birds flying here and there. The air feels cleaner, healthier than it has anywhere else you have been. The buildings are very well taken care of and the general populace appears happier.
Rheinholt comes out of the wagon and sits upon the seat as he gives very specific directions to his apprentice.
“We shall be there momentarily. You will need to accompany us into the courtyard then into the parlor where we shall conduct our business.” He says to Roa, nodding towards the others. Rheinholt sits straighter with a gleam in his eyes. His apprentice leads the wagon through wide roads and deeply into a residential area where the houses rest behind extremely well landscaped yards with assorted brickery used as paths.
You come upon a wrought iron, filigreed gate where the apprentice pulls out his wand for the first time and lets a small spark loose that ignites a small trail of fire along the filigree which releases the assorted locks allowing the gate to open, swinging on its own.
The wagon rumbles through the gates and on up the pathway, past the front of the manse and to the rear where the stables are. In the back of the manse is a flurry of activity as the people are appearing to prepare for someone of importance to arrive. When they see the wagon all activity stops and they immediately form two lines of welcome. One boy runs off into the house obviously on a mission. Another older man walks up to the horses to stop the wagon as he grins up at Rheinholt.
“Our master has come home to rest?” he asks as he eyes the two spiders, one on the roof and the other jumping from tree, to bush, back to tree. While a bit apprehensive, the stable master is much more interested in who has come. The spiders, while different from other creatures and items that his master has brought home are not the most unique, close, though.
“More likely to roost for a while, than to rest,” observes a deep voice from the man who exits the cabin of the wagon. He is a trifle taller than average and dressed entirely in black. On his collar is a golden embroidered bird in flight with a twinkling sapphire eye. The man grins as he leaps off the wagon to hug the stable master holding the horses.
“Carswell, it’s good to be home, man, if only for a short while.” He gives the man a rough pat then makes his way towards the back door to the manse. “You will join me inside, please, and I will take care of your expenses and see to your good will.”
He leads the party into an elegant house filled with assorted inlaid wood wooden tables and floors. The windows are covered in heavy curtains that somehow let in enough light to still appear airy. One by one the servants all doff their caps, touch their foreheads, bow or curtsey to him as he passes. In the background, you hear excited voices say over and over again, “He’s home! The Earl is home!”
Pausing to ask the butler to bring refreshments to his private study, the Earl looks over everyone in the party as he opens the door. “Your party has shrunk a bit since you first joined us, but no matter, the rewards will be the same as if you had not. I am sure that you have questions. I will answer what I may, but know that there are some questions that you are not ready to know the answers. Know that despite what I give you, I remain indebted to you. I will assist you as I am able when the time comes.”
With that, he walks over to his desk and pulls out 1340 gp for each person present. He then looks at Rheinholt and asks, “Don’t you have something for these good folks?”
The wizard nods and reaches into the pouch at his side. Slowly he pulls the sides open until a piece of leather armor appears. “Witchling, I believe this may help you in your endeavors.”
He reaches in again and pulls out a wand, “This goes with your armor.”
Wand of Withering +3 (or its equivalent)
Repulsion leather armor +2 to AC: gives the ability to once a day to push the enemy one square away as an immediate reaction.
The wizard turns to his apprentice and whispers something in his ear, sending the boy running back to the wagon to retrieve something else. Quickly he returns carrying a wooden box carved with a sword and thistle as well as a fabric wrapped item that dangles over his arm.
Circlet of Authority he gives to Roa.
Badge of the Berserker: When you charge, your movement does not provoke opportunity attack. The wizard gives this to Nadar.
“Let me introduce myself. I am known here as Godfrey Marsham.” He gives a crooked one sided grin at that. “I am the package that you had to deliver. Your mission was a success. Well done my friends.” He takes the tray that the butler brings him and begins to pour out ale for all there.
“I do assorted jobs for many people in many different lands where I do not want to be seen or heard. And while I could have easily travelled across the lands you travelled, it was to my benefit that you guard the wagon along that way.”
“In return for your good work, I would pass on a piece of information that may assist you in the mission from the Baron. He is seeking a pendant that has been handed down in his family for generations given to each wife. On this pendant is engraved the phases of the moon. He needs this pendant returned before moonrise next month. The significance of this is that his eldest male child is about to reach manhood on the night of the moon’s rise. There is a legend attached to this pendant, but I am not sure how much is fact and how much is fiction. You will need to figure this out. I do not know exactly where the pendant wound up. I know it was stolen about 10 years ago from the Baroness’s dresser whilst she was changing one night. Later on a youth was displaying it in the town, then it disappeared.”
“You will need to be very careful of the Spider Cult going back through the woods, but any further information that you need, will most likely be found in the town on the other side of the woods, not this side. But then again, if you assist Rheinholt back to the city on the other side of the barricade, I’m sure that he will probably provide you with further instructions once his dilemma has been resolved.”
“Rest a while here in my study while I retrieve the item those drow are hoping that I no longer have,” He chuckles as he walks out the door leaving that party in the study. He returns in a few moments with a very small pouch that he hands to Rheinholt. “Here my friend is all the proof you will need for the drow to leave you in peace for awhile, or at least until you piss them off again! She should be happy to have it, if a bit displeased to be forced to return you to yourself.”
Rheinholt nods with a twinkle in his eyes as he reaches for the pouch.
“You should return across the barricade to give them this in the morning. You are welcome to rest here with us for the night before continuing on the return journey.” Godfrey leads everyone to the door, then has his butler show each person to their rooms informing everyone of dinner etc.
Returning through the town across the barricade on the next morning is much easier than it was getting into it. While the guards look at the party as if they are on the unhinged side for wanting to leave their fair city, they do not stand in the way of anyone leaving. Rheinholt takes the wagon back through the way they came, through the same streets and market but all seems quiet, still, sleepy even. The Brawling Goat is quiet with only the sign squeaking in the small breeze from off the river’s edge. The wizard leads the way back into the tavern to the table where the drow were sitting the night before. There he sits back, lights a pipe and prepares to wait until they show. Lunch brings the working crowd and as the day progresses the crowd begins to become a bit rowdier. As the group sits, waiting for the drow to arrive, a young filthy dirty boy makes his way behind the wizard only to be yanked up before he can touch anything.
“Do you know what they do to thieves in this town when they are caught?” Rheinholt begins, only to stop when he recognizes the young one in his hands. “You! What are you doing trying to pick my pocket?”
“Sir, no harm, no foul! I didn’t get nothin’! You’re as fast as ever, sir! It’s just that my sisters are hungry and haven’t eaten in…”
“Since yesterday when I gave you food, child. Don’t play me!”
“Yes sir. There’s folks here who want something you carry, sir and they pay good gold for the best to get it. I thought I’d have a go at it was all!”
“Well, tell them to come show themselves. Its time they came out of their dark hole!” Rheinholt looks around the tavern then nods in the direction of another corner before placing the boy back onto his feet.
Two men rise and walk slowly over to the table. The closer they come, the more gray their skin appears until it becomes obvious that they are drow, not men.
“She isn’t pleased that you made it. But your group upheld the bargain. She will uphold her end of it once you demonstrate proof that the package was delivered.” Says one in a low wry voice filled with promises of danger to come at a future meeting.
Rheinholt pulls out the pouch and slowly opens it to reveal a very intricate broach shaped into a black spider with the crossed teardrop eye in the center. “He said that this would be sufficient proof.”
The drow reaches out to touch it, but something stops his hand just as he is about to do so. His fingers pause just barely out of range as if he cannot breach the distance of a finger width between them. With eyes widened by the implication he backs away a step and raises his head. “It is as she said it would be.” He cocks his head as if listening to something no one else can hear, “She requests its delivery directly to her, follow me.”
“That was not part of the bargain. Return what was stolen from me and then we shall discuss this item. I was not given leave to give this to you, only to show it to you. I’m not sure its current owner would like for it to exchange hands.”
The drow reach for their swords in a display of strength, then look at the party, grinning.
2 drow skirmishers: AC 21, HP 81, XP300, initiative +10, Speed 6
“Well then if you won’t give it over or deliver it, then we shall take it to her ourselves.”
“Do not kill them. We must keep at least one alive!”
If both are killed, Rheinholt will say, “Aidrith! I have fulfilled your wager, release this geas upon me!”
A woman’s laugh is heard that wafts through the tavern. Rheinholt appears to be pulled up into the air as his beard and robes float around him and a spiked silver nimbus encases him. He drops his head back in agony then raises it in full strength as he returns to the floor with the geas completely released from him.
“Next time Rheinholt, don’t let me catch you meddling in my affairs. I will not go so easily on you then.”
If the bodies are searched afterwards, they find 200 gp, 30 silver, two silver daggers, and a ring with an onyx stone that looks to be an emblem of some sort. Perception: DC 10. It is inscribed with some runes on the inside if one looks there. History: DC 20 The ring belonged to ancient nobility from a different region. Perception/Arcana: DC 20 It has wear marks in ways that most engravings would have disappeared long ago, but not these. It is as if the engravings were magically etched and cannot be destroyed. Level 7 Ring of Dragons.
XP 200 each. Loot split if found.
Decision of whether to:
1) go after the pendant
2) go back to the spider queen
3) find something else
************************************************************
Aidrith laughs again and a misty hand appears to take the broach from Rheinholt thus sealing the deal.
“Well, that’s that. Our journey’s finished. Thank you for continuing along with me to the close. The horses can be returned here or you can purchase them if you’d like. The stable out back will take them. Our paths separate here. Have you anything you wish to know about where you are going or what you are about to undertake?”
1) The Spider cult is rising in members. It may be becoming a threat to more than just the locals. Drow control most of it. Traditionally drow females are in charge of all magic, ceremonies, etc. Drow males are in charge of the war, weapons, day to day things.
2) The weres are rising in all of the forests around. There are several types in the forest that have been reported, but he has only seen the wolf version. Not all weres require a full moon to change. Those born into it may change at will.
3) The crown is using mercenaries to gather information as well as to enforce the peace. The crown has not been seen as a presence in these provinces in at least 15 years. Many of the groups thinking about an uprising are stating that the crown is dead/gone/changed. The emphasis changes with the group stating it. While there is no truth in it, the groups don’t care, as long as they get the reaction they want.
4) Aidrith? She is one you’d best just forget about. She is an old acquaintance. He looks around with a small grimace. She won’t bother you and her goons won’t follow you at all. Good riddance.
5) His relationship with Godfrey? OH, they go way back. He grins and a twinkle enters his eyes. You stay on his good side and Godfrey will look out for you, remember that.
6) Useful information for Godfrey? Any information about the movements of the Spider Cult, the mercenaries who are free booting, and the weres will be appreciated. Godfrey will repay in kind or in goods. Just leave the messages in the mint container at the Temple of the Sun in Tromphe, the good brothers will get it to him. Here is a token to present to them to express the importance of the information.
7) There are multiple merchants in town. Some even deal with exotic stuff. Most of it is cheap, older, broken, but been polished up to show well, break later. There are some mediocre vendors. Mixed into the bunch are one or two fairly decent merchants who will give a good deal. There are healers, magic dealers, armorers. All of whom will have up to a +3 item for 20% over the book price, but will haggle if you do so.
8) You can make purchases, restock supplies, get horses or not.
It is highly recommended that you go to Merc’s Tower. Rheinholt gives you directions and with a flare of his wrist holds out a golden bird in flight with a painted sapphire eye. He tells you to go there and show the bird to the guard at the door. He will take you to the Sgt At Arms who will fill you in where you could be used best. They always need people who can be relied upon to complete their jobs. Usually they can fit in details that go in the direction you need to go.
With that Rheinholt tossed his coins into the air, winked at them and they sprouted wings as they sailed over to the bartender who plucked them out of the air as if it were a normal thing before he laughed at Rheinholt.
“Glad to see you back to normal, sir! What she did, sir, well tain’t right!” The bartender whipped his rag upon the counter he was polishing, smacking it hard as he glared around as if hoping he could find Aidrith.
“All’s well Bord. These fine people got me through it. Take care of them when I’m not around.” Rheinholt returned as he walked through the bar leaving the party behind.
When the party leaves the bar, the wagon, wizard, and apprentice are nowhere to be seen. If anyone asks around, no one ever saw them leave. The wharf is bustling with incoming ships, lots of people unloading goods to the various warehouses.
After travelling through the streets a bit, the party comes to the South side of town. This side is much better organized than the Northern wharf edge. The streets are wider and the people appear better dressed. Not wealthy by any means, but they take better care of themselves.
They pass several patrols of 3 or 4 guards here and there but none take notice of the party other than in passing. As you approach Merc Tower you see that it is 3 stories tall, built of stone and looks like it may just predate the city. There is a porch that was obviously added on well after the tower was built where some brawny fighters are reclining as they address armor issues. A couple of men are fixing helmet straps, honing their swords, or replacing links in their maille. One man stands by the door with his spear at ease beside him resting in his hand. His eyes follow you up the steps to the door where he stops you by stepping in front of the door.
“What business do you have inside?” He eyes you standing firmly as a boulder in front of the door. “You don’t belong here witch.”
Copper Guard AC 31, HP 148.
If the party does not show the bird, he will not let them in and they will be forced to fight him to gain entry.
Once the bird is shown to him, his entire demeanor will change. He asks Stephen to take the door while he leads the party into the tower. The inside is filled with heavy wood furniture, large tables, maps, obvious planning areas, and several hallways that shoot off here and there from the main “wheel” of the entry area. The sounds of men fighting can be heard, but not seen and no one there appears to notice or care about the grunts of bodies slamming to the ground. He leads you through several hallways and finally out what you thought was the back, but in actuality lead into a contained fighting yard.
There to the right is a tall, stocky man watching a 3 on 3 match from the sidelines. One side is obviously overpowering the other. As you watch, he lifts his left hand and points at two men waiting off to the left. He indicates that they are to join the fight. Quickly the men jump in on the losing side and the power struggle to see who will win changes before your eyes. Nodding his head, he turns to face the party that is still a good 15 feet behind him. He waves the group over and takes the bird from the guard’s hand.
“Thank you, Jeff, you may go.” Turning the bird over he hands it back to the group. He claps his hands and another man steps in to watch and direct the fight as you are now led off to a door off to the right. Through it is his private office. He offers you ale and bread as he indicates seats, then asks, “What may I do for you?”
1) There are several places that require good fighters to lead merchants here and there.
2) He has only heard of one group fool hardy enough to want to go through the forest, but he hasn’t had enough fighters to spare them an escort. The money’s good. They offer 500 gp just to get to Tromphe. It’s only a day’s journey.
The merchants are carrying spice, fabric, and some type of gaudy jewelry. At first glance he thought they were gypsies who’d made it big somewhere, but that doesn’t quite fit the group. One thing’s for certain, they aren’t fit to travel that road alone. They don’t have a wagon, just good horses. Their goods are stored on pack animals and in their saddle bags. Their leader is Ezekiel. He drops by each night at sunset to see if I have anyone available to make it through the forest the next sunrise.
Most of my men are about to hop a boat and sail South to help man the walls in Reardon. Some fool noble’s baseborn child has decided that he should be the ruler, not his legally born younger brother. So Reardon has asked for a contingent of 200 to be trained and sent his way as if mercs just pop out fully trained! Nobles!” He shakes his head in disgust.
Do you want the job? Really that’s about all I have going your direction. I mean, you could hop a boat and try to go upriver, but with the water being the way it is, you’d have a quicker job of it going through the forest.
Once you get to Tromphe, let Merc Tower there know you made it. They will settle the bill for you and send you on your way.
Sarge leans his chair back on two legs as he stretches out his legs. His boots are well worn but of good quality. His clothes are obvious work clothes that are meant to get stained by sweat and dirt. He is no stranger to hard work. His hands are calloused from the sword that he carries.
Perception: DC 15 He is an honest man, but you are not of his design. You are not mercs, at least not his and definitely not of his clan. He’ll use you, but you may not get the best jobs.
He places a map on the table between you which shows the area you have been travelling though. He points out on the map where the Merc Tower is in Tromphe and gives you a name to talk to there. “The Tower in Tromphe may have more work for you than I do.”
Oh, I’ve heard rumors that there are some weres in the forest, as well as other creatures. You may want to plan accordingly.”
If anyone asks about a silversmith or a blacksmith that will do silvering, Sarge gives directions and hands you a token that will get the merc discount. “Otherwise he’ll charge you the rich man’s prices.”
True to his word, Ezekiel shows at sunset. He is a small, wiry dark skinned man dressed fairly flamboyantly in flowing silks and satins. He has a gold ring in one ear, and a few golden necklaces around his neck each one of which has an amulet of some type or other. He has dark eyes that seem to gaze through you before darting off to catch whatever is moving around him.
He tells you how he intends to travel through the forest but requires an escort. He and his family must travel to Tromphe. He is offering 500 GP each. He has a map of the forest that he intends to follow. If asked, he tells you that the map came from the guild he belongs. They have their own paths through the forest. He refuses to show the map at the Tower and will only share it once you are at the Forest of Marching Embers. He asks that you meet him at the central city gates where all the guard barracks are just before dawn. He and his family will meet you there. They will be on horseback, so if you have horses, that may make it easier for you.
Should you choose to follow the spice dealer’s you see a gathering of 3 people and 6 horses. 3 of the horses are laden with assorted bundles. One of the people is a female who has a scarf firmly wrapped around the lower part of her face, over her ears, and her hair. Only tufts of hair stick out the bottom of the scarf. She is very petite. Perception DC 15: ALL of the jewelry on her is made of silver. She has multiple strands of chain around her neck that are all silver. She has multiple rings on her fingers that are all silver. Even the buckles on her belt are silver.
The other man holds his head high and stays very close to the female. Ezekiel introduces them are Maya, his daughter, and Broma, his son. Broma is very protective of Maya to the point of overprotective. If anyone steps near her, he inserts himself between them.
The journey to the forest is uneventful as the dawn comes. When you reach the ranger’s hut, Ezekiel halts the party long enough to leave a small package on the ranger’s doorstep before returning to his mount. At the entrance to the forest, he pulls out his map and explains, “My family has been traversing these regions for hundreds of years. We have paths through this forest that only we have used and only we know about. Follow directly in my path. When I leave the road, it will be for reason, not just to wander.”
The forest closes around you darkening around you as enforced silence falls. After you have gone about 50 yards, Ezekiel has his horse step sideways off to the left of the path. It looks as if he vanishes in the brush.
The path looks like a well used deer path. It is slightly overgrown but has obviously been used by animals throughout the years. The spider that is with the party runs off into the trees at this point. He is jumping from tree to tree, catching his breakfast here and there, but not making a sound as he does it.
Down the pathway: 1 were wolf and 4 frenzied werewolves are eating a stag they brought down. They are in wolf form.
4 Frenzied Werewolves: AC 18 HP 78 init +6 speed 6 (wolf:8) XP 250 total 1000
1 were wolf: AC 20, HP 108, init+7, speed 6 (wolf:8) XP 350
They look up from their kill with glowing eyes, heads with noses pointed down as they glare at you
One stalks closer to you. He’s an enormous gray wolf with a black stripe down his back. He steps within 20 feet of you, lifts his head just enough to growl his displeasure that you are in his territory while displaying enormous canine teeth.
The other wolves spread out by going into the brush along the path as they attempt to circle the horses.
If attacked, Broma will protect ONLY Maya. If Broma goes down, Maya will attack the one who brought down Broma or whatever is left.
Broma: Half-elf Bandit Captain
AC 20, HP 69, init +9, speed: 6, XP 250
Maya: Eladrin Battle Dancer
AC: 23, HP: 94, init: +11, speed: 6 XP: 400

Continue through the forest. It is dark but the sun does reach the forest floor here and there. Birds call to each other and animals chased each other here and there. Insects buzz around, but are not a nuisance. After a couple of hours, Ezekiel checks his map once more and nods his head. “It should be about here.”
Slowly he turns to his left and looks at a small mound of dirt, boulders, rocks, and an old tree stump. He shakes his head then turns to the group.
“See if you can find the entrance. I know it’s here, somewhere” he says looking back at his map. “If we can’t find it, we’ll need to go through spider territory and I’d really like to miss that if at all possible.”
Dungeoneering DC 15: There is a crack large enough for a hand to slip into in one of the boulders. If a person slides his hand inside, there is a lever that will release the “door” mechanism and the door will drop backwards revealing a set of stairs that go down into the earth. The stairs are wide enough for a horse to easily maneuver down them, so taking the horse will not be an issue, if you can convince them to go into the earth.
Ezekiel states, “We have several hours down here before we exit. I know it is dank and musty here. My guild changes the protections down here periodically. I may not know every trap that they have put in place. Please, step carefully and keep a sharp eye out.”
The tunnels look like they are of dwarven construction. They are wide enough for 3 horses to ride side by side. The ceiling is easily 10 feet high. The walls are carved with murals and the remains of tattered wall hangings dangle here and there as if someone had tried to create the idea of windows. The hallway is lit, but the light source is unknown.
If Ezekiel is asked:
1) “I don’t know who made these tunnels. They’ve been around as long as my guild can remember. They are a closely guarded secret. You would not have found the way without my map to indicate where to leave the road and the placement of it off the path.
2) There are secrets down here that even I do not know. There are rooms, pathways, halls, and other such things. It can be eerie down here. Sometimes we encounter monsters that were left to protect this way or that took up residence here. Other times it’s an easy path to walk.
Ezekiel warns the party to keep quiet, not silent, just don’t make a lot of noise that would get you noticed. You come to an intersection where the hallway dims to the left and is lit to the right.
“We can go either way they both lead where we are going. One seems to lead under the other one before they come back together.” As he says these words, the doors at the end of the hallway open by themselves almost beckoning to the party to enter.
“No one has ever entered this area!” Ezekiel motions the party into the area opened by the doors. “I need to map this area for the guild while it is open. It’s strange. It’s as if this place welcomes some while keeping out others. Doors open and close depending on who comes in. Sometimes you come back and a path that you used is now closed to you. At times I could swear this place is alive.”

1) The room at the end of the hall is circular and has 3 large tables with hanging tapestries behind them. There are wooden wardrobe style closets by the doors that are heavily carved. There are what look to be heavy duty clothes racks or maybe armor racks along the walls. On one of them is a helmet whose strap has long since rotted away. It dangles, tilted a bit crazily. If someone inspects it, it is in good condition with lots of engraving on it.
Upon touching it, a person walks through the tapestry behind the head table. It slowly makes its way over to the party and waits patiently. It is a rounded dwarf in antique clothing. While it is well dressed, he doesn’t’ say anything.
Arcana check: DC 15 It has been spelled and is a lvl 10 helmet of Dwarven construction. History check: DC 25 It comes from a legendary group of dwarves long since thought gone. They were very warlike and known for their armor. On the walls are all sorts of carving. On closer inspection the carvings are telling a story of a time when the dwarves fought an ancient foe. The battle was intense and lasted for over a century during which the dwarves lost many lives but finally vanquished their enemy. Perception DC 20: The vanquished foes bore the symbol of the double tear drop eye on their armor. There are words/runes carved into the walls around the mural in dwarvish. There is a ghost who appears at one of the carvings towards the entrance of the room. If anyone pays him attention, he will lead the party around in the sequence of the story. If anyone reads dwarvish they can read the story of the fight, the foe, and how they vanquished her.
As the party leaves, the doors to this room close on their own.
2) The path to the right is dimly lit. The walls appear to glow with phosphorescence embedded in the stonework providing a slight green tinge to everything. There are several doors that may lead to rooms along the way. There are various pathways that lead away all of which have doors that are open. The areas that may be rooms have doors that are closed.
The first two rooms look like they may be dry storage with shelves, some baskets of dried, desiccated vegetables and ancient gnawed on cores from fruit. There are sacks of what may have been dried beans and possibly grains. Bowls are stacked on one shelf with assorted cutlery in a wooden block sitting next to them. There are netted bowls that may have held potatoes, onions, or fruit. From the ceiling herbs hang where they have waited for 100 years to be used.(Something is nagging at you as if you are missing something important from this picture) Perception DC 15: There are no signs of cobwebs or spiders of any sort. Nor are there any bugs anywhere to be seen despite the food and the obvious absence of people.
There is an obvious kitchen next door. It has tables where someone had chopped meat and veggies over the years wearing grooves and cut marks into the thick slabs of wood. There are “cook fires” on either end where enormous spits rest quietly waiting to be used. On one of them is a huge pot sitting directly over where the fire would have burned it. Beside the fireplace is a basket filled with assorted dried veggies where they were ready to toss into a stew or soup.
Hidden in the kitchen:
Chilborn Vampiric Mist
AC 25, HP 85, Init+ 10, Speed 0 (fly=5) XP 400
On the shelves are assorted herbs used in cooking, pots, thickeners, containers for sugar and flour as well as other items not as easily recognized. One holds dried mushrooms of a variety you haven’t seen or maybe you just don’t recognize it in dried form? (What do you do?)
In small practice room:
Force Burst Wall after the party is 10 feet into the room.
Whirling blades are along the left hand wall.
Gravity sphere by the back wall
On the staircase is a clamping staircase.

These come from the hallway shoot offs:
3 bloodfire Ooze
AC 19, HP 196 init +4 Speed 6, XP 600 each.
In the Left Hall way about half way down a dark gray form patrols the hallways 30 feet into the left hallway, they come out of one of the pathways.
1 shadow slime
AC 23 HP 154 init +13 Speed 5, XP 1000
Hidden in the barracks:
5 gnoll blood caller
AC 22, HP70, Init + 8, Speed 8, XP 250 each

****************************
As the party continues down the hallway the lights dim a bit more until they finally gut out, even the phosporescence does not appear to light up. The air seems to cool off a bit and feels a bit, wet.
Chilborn Vampiric Mist
AC 25, HP 85, Init+ 10, Speed 0 (fly=5) XP 400
3 bloodfire Ooze
AC 19, HP 196 init +4 Speed 6, XP 600 each.

From an off shooting pathway a mass of gel blocks the way you just came. You feel tendrils of something wet caress your cheeks, running through your hair and running down your arms.
After the battle, the hall lights come back up brighter than it was before. It is now as brightly lit as the other one had been. After a half hour, it meets up with the other hallway and you see a door directly in front where the two hallways meet. The door is easily 10 ft tall and in a half-oval shape. It is carved in intricate runes and knotwork indicative of dwarven carvings. There are what appear to be words engraved upon a plaque up above the door. The runes shimmer and shift finally into a language you can read, “You entered our realm unknown. You leave, a friend”
As you reach for the handle, the door opens on its own. Outside is a small clearing that is overgrown but that was probably some type of garden at one point in time. It has a ancient set up rocks ringing it that are heavily overgrown with moss, that may have been a short rock wall at one time.
Ezekiel is busily mapping out where you have just come from. In his sketch, he includes this garden and the rock wall around it. “Yes, yes! It is as the stories tell!” he murmurs to himself as he puts the finishing touches on his sketch then picks up the horse’s reins as he mounts it once more.
“My friends, it isn’t that much farther to where we need to go, maybe an hour or two. We have plenty of time to make it out of this wretched place before the sun sets! If we are quick, we can be there before dinner!” He laughs out loud and for the first time appears much younger than he originally looked to you. He could easily pass for 30 now, and not the father of Maya.
Perception DC 15 Maya stretches as she tilts her head to the sun as it shines through to the clearing. Briefly her scarf shifts and the face of a lovely young woman is seen before she quickly replaces it, glancing around to see if anyone noticed.
The party travels on through the forest until they exit it but not on the main road as was expected. Elijah has taken you to an exit that leads directly to the gypsy camp just as the sun is setting. He waits until the sun has completely set and it is dark before he leads Maya to the circled wagons. There he helps her down. Whispers echo around the circle as the gypsies gather round. As one once they see who Elijah is helping off the horse, they fall to one knee with their right hand over their heart and their head bowed.
One elderly woman approaches. She walks slowly, with a limp. Her head is covered in a very colorful scarf that catches the moon’s rays. Her wide waist is circled by an enormous scarf adorned with trinkets and bells. “You honor us, Princess! Our humble wagons are yours for as long as you wish!”
340 XP each
The princess dismounts from her horse. She removes her headscarf and instead of the gypsy princess in her place stands a slender blonde beauty whose skin has probably never seen the sun before. Her eyes, dancing with excitement, light up as a smile breaks across her face. She quickly embraces the woman who barely reaches her shoulder before reaching down to pick up one of the smaller children to tickle his cheek with her nose.
“Thank you, good mother! Your people have always been wonderful to me! I hope that by coming here I do not endanger you.” She turns back and looks at the party gathered around her.
“While indeed we did bring goods for the people of this camp, I was the real cargo. The House of Rammislan will not forget you. Once the rebellion has been calmed and I can return to my father’s house, I will ensure that he knows of the debt owed. Ezekiel was only seeking my safety by keeping me secret.”
“I have some advice for you,” with that she turns to look directly at Nadar as she says, “Young one, do not seek from behind what is in front of you. Your fortune awaits, but you must face it to gain it.”
To Marvelous she says, “Witchling, be careful of whom you cast your magic upon and what you ask of it. While you sought only knowledge of weres, there was so much more to learn that was so much more dangerous and could have cost you your life.”
To Roa she says, “Sometimes the right path is not the path you were hired to follow. It is never too late to choose that way as long as you can accept the results as true.”
Then she walks back to her backpack and removes three rings with a seagull insignia. “When the rebellion has run its course, bring these back to the capitol to arrange a meeting with my father, King Leonides Treion Rammislan. He will honor the debt owed. He is a fair man and will deal with you equitably. For now, I know that you would like to be paid.” She pulls out a paper and has Ezekiel sign off on it. “Take this paper to the Mercenary’s Guild in Triomphe. They will pay you the pre-arranged amount.”
As you look around the camp, you see the wagon’s being prepared to be moved come the morning. The fires are stoked, guitars and zills are brought out. Here and there bread is turned over and the sweet smell of fresh baked bread wafts over the party. Off to the side an animal is being roasted while some vegetables are being grilled over another fire. In the center of the encampment space is being cleared for the travelers to join in the nightly refreshment and storytelling.
The old mother grins as she walks to the party. In a voice that cracks with happiness and age, she says, “I am sure that fine warriors such as yourselves have fascinating adventures and tales to spin around our fire! Join us for dinner, then tell us your tales!”
If the party would like to ask questions of the gypsies, over dinner is the time. Dinner is a very festive occasion with lots of ale and wine flowing. Tales are spun, shared, jests are made. The questions that may be answered:
1) They have seen were creatures, mostly wolves, but also the rarer white stag. The number of wolves increases as the moon becomes full.
2) The spiders do not come this far south in the forest. Why else would they camp so near the forest?
3) They have been camped here for several weeks so as to be ready for when the princess could finally make it.
4) Godfrey? Hmmm, they know many people by many names. People who join them rarely give their true names because true names have power. Once you have traveled with the gypsies, you are never forgotten, but you are also never talked about.
5) The Rebellion started in the far North and has been slowly making its way to the Southern reaches. The outskirts are beginning to feel the pull to go fight, but many do not know why the fight is going on. The king has not been seen in weeks. The gypsies do not know where he is, but it is rumored that he is alive.
6) The Princess came to them because they rescued her from a long fall off a waterfall as a child. She did not remember who she was until she had already traveled with the gypsies for a month. As a result, she feels as if they are part of her family.
7) The gypsies see the Rebellion as a waste of time and energy. From what they have seen there are four factions trying to take the crown. One of them was willing to kill the Princess to get the crown, but have no claim to the throne. The second actually had a blood tie to the crown. With the Princess gone, they would have a better chance. The third is a house that ruled the land almost 300 years ago and would like to see their house returned to power. The fourth is a shadier one. It seems to be religious in nature, but no one can determine who is in charge of this one. Instead, graffiti is seen all over the place coating the walls, posters, etc telling of how “SHE” will rise and overturn the crown. No one seems to know who “SHE” is.
8) Jacon’s medallion was last seen in Triomphe about 10 years ago. The person who stole it was a young blonde haired boy of about 18-22 years of age medium height. He bragged about it at the tavern asking for anyone there to buy him ale for him to share the story. One of the men from this tribe did so and got the entire story of how the boy stole the medallion. When he was asked if the gypsy could buy it from him the boy laughed and said, “No. I plan to present this as a gift to my lady.” With that the boy gave a sly grin and looked around. The gypsy noticed one strange thing about the boy. On his wrist, just barely concealed by a leather band, was a tattoo, but he couldn’t tell exactly what it was. The boy’s name started with something like, “Re….”
2 hours before dawn, the camp is all packed up and ready to leave. Ezekiel comes to wake you telling you that it would be wise if you, too, were to vacate this area in order to remain fairly anonymous. The gypsies do not tell you where they are going, or why. Instead they tell the party to leave a green ribbon tied to a certain ash tree should they ever need help from their tribe. Someone would arrive at dark to help as they saw fit.
The road to Tromphe leads through fields that are being harvested. Rolls of baled hay, wheat, straw, etc can be seen everywhere. People are clearly very busy as they pick through the fields harvesting here and there, picking berries as well as vegetables. The sun feels hotter here as if it hasn’t rained while you were gone but the plants are still a verdant green. It is about a 3 hour walk to the Southeastern gate of Tromphe. On the way, the party does not pass anyone that they recognize.
Going through this gate you see the Goose Feather Inn Bed and Breakfast off to the right. It looks a lot like the Goose Tale’s Inn that you ate at before. It has arbors for growing grapes, a chicken coop, and assorted farm animals in small enclosures. You can see someone milking both the cows and the goats as well as collecting eggs. It does not have a stable, but there is one on the left side of the gate.
The party can smell fresh bacon, bread, and other breakfast foods coming out the doors of the inn where many people have tethered their horses while others have left their shoes at the door steps. There are pretty curtains in the windows and the sounds of someone humming can be heard as well as people talking and laughing inside.
The sun rose about an hour ago. You see lots of people entering the town as well as walking through it carrying baskets. It is too early for most establishments to be open at this time other than eateries. (What does the party do?)
The inside of the Goose Feather Inn fire place, tables, assorted tables filled with happy, eating people. There are several groups around the room. One group of 30-somethings are standing, talking around a table. They are very “buff” men. Throughout the crowd there are several people who have tattoos on their wrists that are very pale and frenetic looking.
One man with a tattoo is given a pouch by Roa that has a picture of the tattoo on the inside. He finishes his drink, sets it down and gives Roa a look that says to follow him. He leads the party to the stable.
In the stable, he says, “Brother, what do you think you are doing?”
“Everyone who has her emblem is our brother. If you claim otherwise,” he pulls out his sword.
The street to the Mercenary Temple is packed with people going here and there. Some people are leading assorted animals into town while others are pulling wagons laden with goods. As you near the “temple district” you see make shift booths set up for crafted items, fresh vegetables and fruits as well as the farm animals you had seen. Here are and there are people hawking items, meat pies, berry delights, fabric, spices, etc. Here and there you see what may be one or two of the gypsies you just stayed with.
The second has a set of bull horns on top of it that are white and tipped black. This temple of made of striated granite, beautifully polished, yet bold. Its pathway is made of grey stone pavers. On its porch are urns of oil that are burning something spicy, yet woodsy scented, very masculine hints of something musky echo in a sandalwood bed. Inside is a very Male oriented clientele, very bloodthirsty but warlike, not murderous. They are not soldiers per se…. but maybe berzerkers with a cause? You see hides strewn about, covering the chairs. Skeletal heads are perched on shelves throughout the reception, but they do not appear to be staring. Instead they are more vacant, absent, not malevolent. Men can be seen sharpening swords on well worn tables that bear nicks and scars from throws and points made. Pieces of armor lay in various repair all over the place some obviously being attended to while others have been long forgotten. Behind a large rectangular table bearing the worst of the scarring is a set of studded doors leading into where the inner sanctum probably is. A very large man is sharpening his sword while reclining against this door. He looks over the edge of his whet stone at the intruders, his eyes leave no confusion of the opinion he holds of them. Total in the reception area: 8 men who are not talkative.

On the bulletin board is a picture of the wizard, the apprentice, and another man. There is a bounty out for them. The wizard and the man are wanted alive. The apprentice is negotiable. Apprentice: 250 gp. Wizard: 500 gp. Man: 1000 gp.

(Guard at the door: Human Dread Assassin AC: 36, HP: 161, XP: 4150, MH2: pg 145)

Inside are: 4 Human Dire Beast Hunters AC: 22, HP: 76, XP: 400, MH2: pg. 145)

Other 3 are Human Guards AC: 18, HP: 47, XP: 150 each, MH1: pg. 162).

Total XP for Bull’s Temple: 6200

There are also several notices of war groups forming all along the Northern end of the kingdom. People are hiring not only soldiers but body guards and security personnel of all sorts. You see many groups that are calling for men to come to arms, to join the cause of the “good” but there is no one distinguished cause that is the sole “good” one.

You see an ad for the Reardon contingent that the Sarge from the other Merc Tower mentioned. Evidently, they still need men, too. So there is fighting to be had in the North as well as in the South. Reardon is a larger barony whose baron passed a few months ago. Reardon was well known and liked, but his children had always fought. His first born was not born in wedlock, not was his mother married to his father afterwards, but she had been kept well and the son raised within the castle walls. As a result, he not only knew of his parentage but also had the education and contacts to act upon it.

Perception DC 15: What you do not see are any ads for King’s Men. There is not a single mention about the king or his family anywhere.

One of the ads is a bit more intriguing than the others. It is about routing the were creatures from the forest and routing out the spiders. Those who are interested need to see Clement, the Sergeant Major of this facility, to discuss the terms.

The party needs to see the Sergeant Major in order to obtain their reward for delivering Ezekiel and his party safely.

Clement is a slender man that you would not expect to be recognized as strong enough to hold his position. He tops out around 5’9” but moves with an athletic grace. His face has scars from near misses and he wears his hair cued back with a leather thong. If he hadn’t been so scarred, he might have been termed pretty, but the scars lent a deadly presence to his visage. He takes you into the mess hall and sits you down to hear of your adventure before motioning to another to bring over your pay.

“You are an unusual bunch of adventurer’s if I do say so. I could use people like you. Not many survive that forest and live to tell about it. That you not only made it through once but twice is quite the accomplishment. That’s why I’ve set up a contingent to clear it out. Only there’s this problem, there’s some link between the spiders and the local cult. As well as another link between the weres.

What I need are people like you to infiltrate the temple. There’s something there, something that my men haven’t been able to find or even deal with. But you, with your knowledge and having your own spider, may be more readily accepted. Will you join us?”

The third temple is not visible. If the party asks about churches or temples any villager will refuse to say its name or indicate where it is other than to tilt his head in its direction then warn you to stay away. The direction indicated is very overgrown with ancient trees overhanging a weed covered stone path. If the member travels that path it leads to a very old, worn down, marble temple.
Plant Arborrean Plant Terror AC 25, HP 286, XP 1,200
It has cracked pillars, moss growing everywhere, and has waist high weeds. An aura of great age permeates the temple and its grounds. The steps are well worn to the point of having hollows where countless feet have trod. Cob webs dangle from the ceiling on the porch to the mosaic on the floor (The mosaic is of three women with four arms in long skirts. Each woman is working on a piece of a tapestry about sometime deep in the past. It depicts great buildings of stone and marble in their splendor. The silk that she weaves appears to come from underneath her long, black raw silk skirt.) Intricate webs are spun between each column catching and reflecting the sun back upon the outer path, letting very little light into the temple proper. In order to enter the temple, the thick webs must be first cut then removed. Inside the temple every window is covered by intricately woven silk tapestries depicting women entertaining various men with food and wine. The tapestries show a progression of a party-like atmosphere where the women slowly entice the men with food and wine to do their bidding no matter how bloody and gruesome. Passive Perception DC 20: In each picture a small, very poisonous spider climbs out from a sleeve or skirt of the woman depicted. In one the spider is pouring its own venom into the cup she is giving to the man with her.
No one is present in this temple, but while the outside appear distinctly abandoned, the inside has been immaculately kept up. Candles are burning from sconces along the walls emitting a low light, nothing bright. Perception DC 15: Skittering sounds. Passive Perception DC 15: The spider webs from outside have disappeared to be replaced by much more intricate ones high up, almost hidden in the depths of the ceiling.
If anyone looks up, red unblinking orbs can be seen. Some glide through the darkness, soundlessly. As you watch two seem to be swinging, like a pendulum but getting steadily closer to you. Once the party completely enters the temple,
6 Feyspitter Spiders (MH3, HP 80, XP 300, pg 183 (total: 1800XP)
slide down runnels to attack them.
Perception DC 20: An image of a lovely, dark elf riding an enormous black and red spider can be seen on beside the altar. She has an amused smile as she watches the battle. After the second round, she disappears. If attacked, she does not appear to be there at all.
Perception DC 10: You realize you have seen her before and where
Religion DC 37 to know who she is

Flanking her are 2 Deathjump Spiders (HP 55, XP 175, AC 20, MH1: 246, total: 350 XP)

Temple total XP: 750+1800:2550

In the midst of the fighting a grinding is heard and you see:

From behind the altar enters a tall dark skinned female elf with ghost white hair. Arcana DC: 25. Drow Arachnomancer enters (XP 400, HP 100, AC 25)

as well as a very tall dark skinned male with white hair emerge.
Drow Blademaster (AC 28, HP 214, Speed 6, Init: 12, XP 1200)

After these two emerge, the grinding is heard again along with a loud thunk as if a chunk of rock just fell into place. A webbed rope that wasn’t noticeable earlier, now looks as it was pulled as these two arrive. Not only pulled, but broken. It sways from the breeze the two created then the webbing disintegrates.

“I see dinner for our young, Blade!” says the woman as she smiles and chuckles. The male says nothing, just unsheathes his weapons and gives an evil grin to the party while he begins to swing his sword one handed.

It is a very strange brooch, though not the one you are looking for. It is about the size of the mouth of a large cup with strange ray shaped spikes. Do you pick it up? Do you examine it? Perception DC 15 it has moveable parts that look like they might insert into something, but you don’t see anything in the immediate area that it would fit in. Do you tell the party?

In the office there is a desk, two bookcases, tapestries on the wall that show older times, and many books about clergy life. There are books about when to clean the chapel, when to hold services, but all of them office style in nature. Basic every day chores for whomever would run the place. There is a tapestry on the back wall of a woman weaving a beautiful tapestry. On the tapestry there is a tree with golden apples. (Perception DC 15: The curtain moves away from the wall a little) Behind the curtain is a small alcove with a locked wooden chest sitting in front of a grate just large enough for the chest to fit through. The party needs to roll for perception according to the Shadow Dart page. If they roll 17 someone notices the dart holes. If a 21 is rolled someone notices the switch on the underside of the clergy desk. (If they open it there are 300 gp, a ruby ring, a silver necklace, 15 assorted gemstones, one magical Horned Ring, one Viper Belt, one Survivor’s Belt, and one Brooch of Shielding.)

There are several letters that are written as basic communiqué between offices, chapels, etc. There are several lists of people with various positions listed for them, some are starred, some not. There is a list of supplies necessary to run the temple.

Back at the altar: It is an ornately carved altar on the sides but not on the top. It has many scrolls and vines carved into it. Here and there are flowers or planets, you aren’t sure which due to the way they are drawn. Some are very large while others are rather small.

Perception DC 12: place the brooch into one of the suns that it looks like it fits. The altar makes a sound like it is unlocking then it groans a bit before shifting out of the way. There is a door of sorts in the floor with no apparent handle. Under where the altar rested are two different colored stone tiles. One is a faded scratched up crimson, while the other is equally faded scratched up smoky black. The choice must be made. One will open up the catacombs, the other will close the altar. If the black one is chosen, the altar closes and the party must reopen it then choose the red one. Once the red one is depressed, part of the dais (the trap door) the altar rested on swings backwards to reveal steps that lead down into the darkness below.

100 points each for the figuring out the brooch and the stone plates

There are 15 stairs that lead down to the East. At the bottom is a platform where sconces are kept but are not lit. Each sconce is heavily covered in webbing that obscures any light that may have been emitted had they been lit. No torches are visible. At the bottom of the stairs is a platform that has 3 divisions of path leading off of it. Cobwebs dangle from the 10 foot ceiling that was carved from the stone hundreds of years ago. The walls and ceiling appear smooth. You feel as if great caution may be needed from here on in.

The stairway is large enough for one large person to pass through, but not two. When the party gets to the hallway, 2 people may walk side by side.

Perception DC: 10: As you touch the walls your hand comes away with webbing on it that has tiny pearly of liquid. It is not sticky, just wet as if the damp had become balls on the web.

To the Northeast: the corridor continues about 40 feet. The overall feeling of this hallway is that it was abandoned/deserted ages ago and is not currently in use. It is easy to defend the entry to any of the rooms and may make a good resting place for the party. There is a door on the left at 15 feet and another on the right at 30 feet. These appear to be dry storage for cleric activities. Gowns, holy symbols of four different types (the most modern one being the spider ones, but there are also the sun, the bull, and another that looks Dwarvish. The other three are cast into what might very well be a rubbish basket), oils, wines, etc are kept here. There are broken urns, urns with solid wax seals on them and shelves of what may be table cloths, but they are very dusty. Perception DC: 10 Anything that you touch may fall apart if you pick it up. At the end of this hall is a single room. It looks like an inner office of an official that has long since been vacant. The décor is VERY different from the spider cult. In this room you see carvings that dwarves might have made centuries ago before humans and elves found this part of the country. They have been defiled here and there, but for the most part, left alone. Scattered around the room are ancient books in many languages. If one is picked up roll a D10 to determine if you can understand it. 1-2 Elvish, 3-6 Dwarvish, 7-8 Gnomish, 9-10 Dragonish. If Marvelous is wearing the ring that Rheinholt gave him, the Dragonish books seem to be speaking to him. There are many history books here. The Dragon book is one of spells for wizards up to level 12. The history books tell:

First to come to this land were the dwarves. They saw the fine minerals to be had deep in the earth just by looking at the rich soil and built their dwellings under the ground to seek out their wealth. As they mined the deepest earth, they did not notice the spiders that invaded the land. Slowly but surely, their forest home was taken over by the Lolth, Spider Queen and her cult of drow followers that she brought with her. She gained strength in these outlands where none resisted her. Her powers grew until even those dwarves that worshipped the sun were forced to remain below ground. Decades went by and Lolth decided that that she wanted not only the land above ground but the riches from beneath it. She sent in her spider troops to eradicate the dwarves. It was an heroic battle of epic proportions on the part of the dwarves, but in the end they were outnumbered. Feeling their defeat upon them, they sent out their women, children, and elderly to return to their kin deep in the mountains across the river. The final few who were left were wizards, herbalists, and craftsmen. They combined all of their knowledge to create the spider bane. It was a gem infused with herbs that repelled all insects especially spiders. The dwarves coated their underground home with it. Crusted their weapons and sent out birds to bring their people home. But Lolth’s archers killed their birds, so none ever left the forest. The remaining dwarves fought long and hard killing off the spiders exponentially as the spider bane not only repelled the arachnids, but also weakened them. Finally Lolth sent in her arachnomancers to kill off the dwarves for good. As a last resort, the dwarven wizards banded their power together and set off one last spell that would forever protect their home. As it went off, every dwarf, spider, drow, and living thing that was not a plant within a ten mile radius perished. Lolth, hurt beyond her ability to heal within this realm retreated to her plane vowing to one day return and reap her revenge.

4 dragon spells in the book

To the South: The hallway continues for 60 feet. As the party crosses the 30 feet mark, two blocks drop one in the front, the other behind them. Falling Blocks trap. Trap lifted from the back: party goes back to the corridor and platform. If the trap is disabled or lifted from the front, the party may continue down the hallway to the stairs that lead down 20 steps. At the bottom it there is a door on the left hand side. Do you open it? If it is opened, it is another corridor that leads back to the Eastern path. Along this way are what may have been dorm rooms for 2-4 people. Some of the beds appear to still be in use. Clothing is scattered around. Most of the clothes are for very slender men 5”8-6”0 150-180 lbs. Leather pants, boots, Jerkins are all seen either on the beds or in the wardrobes. There is a target board mounted to the wall with throwing knives, darts, and blow darts sticking out of it. Off in the corner of each room is seen a great deal of webbing with what may be spider droppings where a large spider obviously nests but is not there now.

The gear found is serviceable clothing and enough pieces of armor in the room to make up one set of Addergrease leather armor +3. On the table is a sealed decanter with a strap attached to it. Beside it are four cups. The decanter has many arcane emblems embellishing it. Arcana check DC 15: Decanter of endless water level 6.

Continuing down this hallway leads to a door at the end of the hall. It is unlocked, but closed.

To the East: More stairs lead further down heading slightly Southeast. The party will go down 20 stairs, then down a hallway 50 feet in length. Once one member of the party has gone 30 feet down the hall (6 steps) a Gusting Wind roars down the hall.

Going along you see darker areas that are openings into various rooms. There is a constant feeling of being watched. The webbing begins to shine with an eerie green glow as some chittering can be heard as well as the clicking of many feet upon the floor. The floor is vacant of anything including dust. The air while damp does not smell that way. There is a breeze flowing through the tunnels. Up ahead is a gate with obscured writing on it. Some of the letters have been chipped out. Only 5 whole letters remain.
Where once there was what may have been a tree emblazoned on the gate is now the image of a spider done completely in a spider’s silk. Two dark elves are guarding the gate. They are inside it. The hinges of the gate open inwards, but the silk of the web covers the seam as welding the two pieces together.

Lolth Human Slave Guards X 2 (AC 23, HP 115, Init: +12, XP 400

Arcana DC 15: Blood spider (AC , HP, XP ) The spider turns to watch each member of the party as if memorizing each face before it recasts the web on the gate leaving almost invisible strands attached to the walls for tensors.

*******************
READ THE LAST PART ABOUT THE TAVERN

The guards are talking and not really paying attention to anything that may come from the tunnel. They are much more concerned with who may be coming from where the tunnel continues to lead. The party may proceed to the edge of light and listen in if they would like. If they do so, they hear:

Guard #1: Taller human with black hair says, “Keep your eyes open for them. They come at you with no warning and their claws are nasty.”

Guard #2: Shorter balding male, “I was told to avoid them and to kill on site, clean up later.”
Guard #1: I don’t see why she doesn’t just let them out the gate. I mean all their gonna do is cause chaos out there and keep eyes away from us.

Standing just outside the guard house is a large spider that may or may not see you.

Guard #2: I know, but orders are just that, orders.

Lolth Human Slave Guards X 2 (AC 23, HP 115, Init: +12, XP 400

Arcana DC 15: Blood spider (AC , HP, XP ) The spider turns to watch each member of the party as if memorizing each face before it recasts the web on the gate leaving almost invisible strands attached to the walls for tensors.

While the gate is clearly locked, the cavern extends out into a larger hallway still illuminated by pale green phosphorescence. The metal fence extends into the side walls past the guard box at the gate about 10 ft to either side. It is roughly 6 ft tall.

The path opens up to split left, right and center once more. Depending on which side of the gate is the direction that they will go. The guards are CLEARLY watching the center path.

To the right the hallway goes on for about 100 feet steadily going down before any “rooms” begin to come into sight. At first they are just carved out alcoves filled with knick knacks for cleaning, cloths, wine jugs, wax stoppered jugs, dried food for a variety of creatures and peoples, etc. In one of the alcoves is what may be a spring/well. Fresh water clearly fills a basin with some type of ancient system to open and close the valve. These alcoves dot the hallway at regular intervals before the hallway slope levels out.

After about 40 feet of these, there is a heavy wooden door with a heavy bar latching it from this side. No apparent lock is present, no guards. There isn’t any dust on the floor and the door appears well used. From the other side of the door can be heard the sounds of misery, groans, soft pleas for help that won’t come.

DC 10 Perception: Roa and Marvelous hear something that sounds very familiar. It is garbled through the door but clearly feels like something they should pay attention to.

Open the door:

As you progress, cell doors reinforced with iron appear on either side of the hallway. Once the entire party has gone through the doors, they shut and lock once more.

Perception DC 10: The door has heavily carved runes all around it.

Arcana DC 15: The runes clearly spell out entry and exit.
If the party looks inside each cell, it will see humans (10), elves (12), eladrin (2), dwarves(3), rangers (2), werewolf (1) and in one, a dragon. Each cell has its own tale of misery. It would appear that no two were captured to be used for the same thing. They have watched their companions leave one by one never to return.

DC: 10 Perception for Roa and Marvelous: In dragon: “I smell you, blood of my blood. These intruders stole my home. Come, release me. Help me regain it and I will in turn repay you well.” The voice sounds weak, but filled with determination. He is not trying to intimidate, but rather to persuade. He has been their captive for a hundred years. While he is weak, now, because he is a magical being, he will quickly regain his strength with the aid of several cattle.

DC15: The speaker is an Adamantine Dragon

None of the doors have handle or any apparent means to open, close, or lock them

Arcana DC: 10 Each door is magically sealed. Each door has a set of 15 small runes set into a block beside it. The dragon tells the party that he knows it is a 4 rune code that had to be pressed in order. He asks you to read off the runes you see. If you do so, he will tell you that they are the same as the ones across the hallway and that he believes that a word is needed to be spelled using the runes to open the door. Not high magic since the only people he ever sees down here are simple people, not high born. The doors will close on their own. All of the other creatures defer to the dragon. He is clearly their leader in their underground prison. There are 8 cells that are occupied and 10 that are not. The ones that are not occupied have nothing in them except for a shelf for a bed.

Information from the captives:

1) They do not bother posting guards down here.
2) They only come down to feed them once a day.
3) They have been captured as either food for their pets (those people are in better condition) or to be used in various ceremonies.
4) They have all been captured from the forest EXCEPT for the dragon whose home this is. Some were merchants, some were simple travelers and some were sent on missions and came unprepared.
5) The dragon offers to give a diagram to the party, but he cannot help fight because he is too weak. He does offer physical assistance if you decide to come back and help him rid his home of the intruders once his strength is back.
6) The rangers recognize the cloaks you are wearing as their own that they lost a couple of years ago.
7) The dragon knows of some of the beasts that have been set loose in the hallway: Eyes of Shadow, chitine, and choldroith. He has heard that Kobold and Troglodytes are in the halls, too.
8) 1 human begs you to get him out of there before the full moon.

Do you release the captives? They all look like they’ve been starved and some may need help out of the caverns.

Just past the cell with the dragon, the hall starts climbing again. There is another heavy door with the same latch, but the party is now on the wrong side of the door. The dragon explains that these cells were added after he had been taken captive 100 years ago. He has watched the drow touch a panel in the wall which opened the doors for them once they closed.

This door has the same runes carved around it. It looks identical to the door the party came in. There is not a window to look through. If the party listens, they do not hear anything.

Opening the door, the hallway glows with the lichen that seems to pervade this set of caverns. As the party exits the dungeon, the door closes and latches behind them.

Now, there are torches in sconces about every 20 feet or so. The ones near the dungeon are not lit, but further down the hallway, they are. The floor continues to rise upwards slowly. There are various rooms with doors on them along the way up. Do you open any of the doors? Some of them are guard dorm rooms with assorted gear here and there, interrogation area, etc. As you continue up for another 150 ft, the hallway opens up a little as halls split off here and there. From the second hallway on the left, a group of 12 kobolds pile out, see the party and attack it.

12 Kobold Slyblades (Page 169 MM1) AC 18, HP 42, Speed 6, Init +10, XP 175 each

Total for this fight 2100

700 XP each
250 XP each for releasing the prisoners
50 XP for figuring out how to open the door

*********************

Continuing: The hallway widens every 30 feet or so until the tunnel opens up. Each time the tunnel widens, a metal gate is present that is currently open throughout. Torches are spaced out to indicate tunnels here and there. The phosphorescence continues to get a bit brighter almost to twilight brightness. The tunnel curves slightly to the left and downward. Perception DC: 12 As the party continues down there is a faint stench in the air that irritates the nose. There are banners on the walls now every 40 feet or so sitting just outside rooms that look like they might denote military units or something like that. If the party investigates the rooms, there are groups of 8 bunks per room. The people who live there are not present. The only gear around is in need of repair. 45 copper pieces are found, 63 silver, and 8 gold pieces are found. 10 items register as magical, but they look very well worn and not necessarily usable.

After the second node of tunnel expansion is passed, a horn is blown in the distance and a gate swings shut closing you into this hallway. A nasty green fog explodes though the hallway that makes you want to puke and 6 reptilian creatures appear chattering angrily about something. They see the party and don’t hesitate to attack. As they attack, 6 more wander in.

Saving throw for everyone. Everyone who misses the roll takes a -2 to all attack rolls from the stench.

1 Troglodyte Deepscourge lvl 9 (MM2, 200)
AC 22, HP 78, Speed 5, Init +7, XP 400

3 Troglodyte Curse Chanter (MM 1 252)
AC 23, HP 93, Speed 5, Init +5, XP 350

4 Troglodyte Impalers (MM1 252)
AC 22, HP 69, Speed 5, Init +5, XP 300

4 Troglodyte Maulers (MM1 252)
AC 22, HP 74, Speed 5, Init+6, XP 250

Total for this fight: 3650 SO each gets 910

Gold found: 30, Silver found: 75, Copper found 5.
A well worn necklace is found, but not magical. A wand is found on the chanter, but it is poor quality, looks like he stole it from someone.

Going forward is the only option as the trogs gated you into their hallway. You come to the open air and open drop rotunda. You are on the outside of it with the actual flat area across an abyss. If you look down you see a hive like set up where people come and go each has its own ledges, walk paths. Stairs are spiraled between the levels along the outer rim you are on. The platform/lair that the dragon spoke of is down several levels, but lit with torches so that even those with regular eyes can see it. People appear to be setting something up, but you can’t tell from this distance.

Perception/Dungeoneering DC 10 There are 10 tunnels on your level with dark elves, humans, and other races both male and female coming and going (Arcana DC 20: Some of the females are clerics. The males are guards, messengers, etc.) There is an arched catwalk that crosses the abyss several levels down that leads to what may look like a column that connects the roof to the floor of the abyss in the very center of it. It appears to be naturally made, not magically induced, but there are hints of magic everywhere now. There is an enormous ledge around it that may have been the landing pad the dragon spoke of. He said his lair was behind it.

Everywhere can be seen webbing, images of spiders are seen carved in relief all over the place. Perception DC 15: The spider carvings tell a story of Lolth coming into power. They were carved OVER the dwarven carvings of the coming of the dwarves to the dragon’s lair. Here and there can be seen images of dwarven battles, the dwarves and the dragon having meetings. The spider carvings cite the life cycle of the spider showing all different types. Off to the left there is what looks like a room full of enormous caught “bugs” encased in cocoons of webbing hanging from the ceiling. Dehydrated carcasses of elves, humans, and other large animals lie scattered on the floor. No weapons or armor are here, only clothing and people. Inside towards the back left wall is a VERY large spider that is engorged and may be sleeping. Off in the other corner in the back of this chamber is a humanoid head thrashing while the body is encased in webbing. You hear muffled screams of fury. He isn’t begging for release. He is swearing vengeance on the spider cult for when he is released. At the top of his lungs he yells that refuses to be used as a spider womb. He refuses to hatch spider eggs for them.

Tomb Spider Lvl 11 (MM2 190)
AC 25, HP 226, Init +9, Speed 6, XP 1200

As you watch, you hear the measured step of guards coming your way. It sounds loud, but because they are in step, it is difficult to tell how many. They are coming closer. What do you do?

12 guards march your way.

1 Direguard Assassin lvl11 (MM2, 70)
AC 25, HP 111, Init+ 12, Speed 8, XP 600

2 Direguard Deathbringers lvl 8 (MM2, 70)
AC 20, HP 134, Init+ 7, Speed 7, XP 700 each
1 Action Point

3 Barghest Battle Lords lvl7 (MM2 20)
AC 21, HP 82, Init+ 5, Speed 6, XP 300 each

6 Half-Orc Hunters lvl 5 (MM2 140)
AC 19, HP 62, Init+ 7, Speed 6, XP 200 each

Total for this battle: 4100


o about what you will do when you escape. It does not cross your mind that you won’t escape. You were captured when you were investigating the exodus of creatures from different parts of the Forest of Marching Embers. A spider trapped you and a group of drow hunters brought you into the caverns where you are about to become the “womb” for a tomb spider. So, its to your advantage to get them to release you . I have written in that you are furious. You have limited intel about the Cult of Lolth, but you do know who she is. She is the Spider Queen and is from another plane of existance. The drow in the area have been recruiting all humanoid creatures to their cause to bring her back to this plane for good. There is some type of uprising being planned, but you aren’t sure what it is. You also know about a shapeshifting amulet but only from the guards who passed you. One of them mentioned that they needed to hold the ceremony before the rising of the next full moon in order to bind someone or some house to their cause.

You may go up by climbing, down by scaling the cave, into rooms, or run around the ledge. Do you try to blend in? If so, how?

Daggers found
Swords found
Oversized armor on the creatures. The Half-Orc armor is very worn, but well repaired.
There are three helmets on the half-orcs. They are basic helmets but of good quality.

They creep down the spiraling tunnel. They make one sneak check and miss the next. They race into a tunnel meeting up with:

drow arachnomancer lvl 9 and
2 feyspitter spiders lvl 7.

300 XP each
30 gp
75 sp
5 cp
worn necklace
wand well used

Chest full of assorted necklaces, bracelets, torque, belts, etc that was tribute to Lolth.

**************************
While the hallway was lit like the rest of the tunnels by the phosphorescent mold that was typical of the region, the room you are in is lit by sconces. Looking around the room there is assorted furniture, nothing is very old, but all is well used. It looks like it is a minor gathering room of sorts in some ways like a prep room. There are some lowboys off to the side as well as a wardrobe that may hold basic ceremonial items such as incense, spell components, and robes. There are no other apparent doors or other means out of the room other than the blue door through which you entered.

In the hallway to the right (up the hall) are two blue doorways and one that is green that may be some more rooms or possibly hallways. {Something is pinging on your brain, making you think that there is something that you are missing. Perception check DC 15 (ALL of the doors of rooms are blue while the doors to hallways are green)} To the left is the spiraling walkway that leads either down or up as you choose.

While you were resting in the room, several hours have passed. What do you do?

If they remain on the hallway, the next door on the right is blue. In this room are 10 soldiers of various rank and 1 captain going over the days duties. Further down the hallway the next door has what looks like assorted wizards and other magical people discussing an attack:

The table is strewn with papers. Candles are lit and holding the pages down. There is a roaring fire going off to the right where a set of tools is laid out on a table. Perception DC 15 : there is a metal implement in the fire.

Next to the fire is someone struggling in a wooden chair. His gag is around his neck while his hands and legs are bound to the chair. A couple of the soldiers keep threatening him, taunting him. Next to him, but off to the side is someone writing down something.

Captain:
Brann’ot, GIthyanki Gish XP 1600

10 Soldiers:
4 Elkavar d’Deneith XP 300 (1200 total)
3 Tam XP 350 (1050 total)
3 Banite Captain XP 1000 (3000)

Total XP for the battle: 5800

If they fight there is a 0-20% chance that a candle will fall on the map and light it.

Search finds: 120 SP 64 GP, 50 CP

+2 swords (2), Serviceable helmets, +2 leather armor, amulet (blue stone in silver), holy symbol (mercenaries and thieves god), maps of the caverns that are being used.

4 wizards, 3 arachnomancers, and a war priest discussing the next raid to gather food (people) for their spider horde. They discuss how many they have. They have 1200 spider eggs getting ready to hatch with 100 spiders within the ranks being trained as both mounts and as independent fighters.

4 wizards:

3 arachnomancerslvl 13:

1 War Priest: lvl 17

Going out to the spiraling tunnel you find it much busier than it was the night before. You see groups of people hustling back and forth, in and out of the tunnels, running errands. You see patrols marching, but maybe not as many as you expected.

Perception check DC 20 People are talking and in some cases actually rushing away from the lower levels. You hear snatches of references to “the beasts” and how they wished the spiders were old enough to let loose to roam the halls and kill off the “vermin”. No one is saying exactly what is happening, but you hear pieces of 5 dead in Degath contingent, 10 dead in Takiel’s squad.

People appear to be rushing into the hallways and closing them off with doors or gates as they can.

As you go down the path, 5 heavily cloaked people push by you. One stops you to tell you that it’s too dangerous to go all the way to her temple. Turn back now or die trying.

Perception DC 20 If ANYONE looks down they see 3 people being tossed over the edge of the tunnel walkway, but you cannot see far enough into the walkway to see what tossed the people. DC 25 “You have extra sharp vision and see that the people were mangled by something huge.”

As you continue down, the doors to the hallways are now closed or gated. At the gated ones, you see guards with pikes and spears ready to battle off whatever comes their way. Some of the spears are held pointed almost to the ground while others are easily at head height. The soldiers look hassled and in some cases bloody. The ones who are bloody have torn uniforms on with what might be bite marks.

After you have spiraled down 3 levels (about an hour) you begin to hear fighting below you, but it is difficult to locate where it is. There are blood marks on the path where it dripped from wounds. Here and there are huge spatters, but no bodies to go with them. (Perception DC 15 The door-ways appear to be getting larger, wider as well as taller. The doors are easily in the 35 ft tall range and easily 35 feet wide.
Perception DC 20 There are scratch marks on the floors and walls almost as if something held onto the walls a long time ago to launch from the tunnels.
*************************************
As far as anyone knows, save you, you are the last of the Ember’s Edge Dwarves that is still in the area. You carry a spider repelling weapon that glows green. You were sent on an information retrieval mission several months ago. You were asked to scout out the area, make contact with the dragon who had fought at the dwarves side during the war, and to determine whether the Dwarven Homeland was clear enough for your people to return. You brought with you a small part of four. You are the only member of your party that made it. You entered the tunnels from the dwarven stronghold, then made your way slowly through the oldest of tunnels to the dragon’s lair only to find that Lolth and her cult were back. The dragon that your people remember died a long time ago being replaced by the young one, at least, that is what you believe. Of course, when dealing with dragons, it is always best to have a wizard on hand as well as someone who speaks the draconic tongue. The creature in holding may very well have been the ancient under a guise, but why would he subject himself to such a thing? Preposterous, right?

Circling downwards to exit the tunnels by way of the deep cave waters that your people know lead back to the river, your party was attacked by an enormous creature that you had not seen before. It slaughtered two of your members before the first blow was laid by you and your companions. As you struck him, calling upon your deity to help you, a swarm of spiders streamed down, separating the monster from you. In his haste, your companion stepped off the tunnel shelf, plummeting. You never heard him hit, nor did you hear him scream. The spiders, instead of eating you, cast binding webs about you and dragged you up to the area for chambers. There the captain in charge, realizing what you might mean to them, retrieved you from the spiders and brought you to the command enclave where they immediately began torturing you.
Fury burning in your eyes not only from the loss of your friends, but also from the return of Lolth, you became determined to not utter a word while they tortured you. You neither admitted nor denied that you are a Ember’s Edge Dwarf. All you gave them were grunts, glares, and the occasional groan. You were able to understand that the drow were arguing over placement on a map prior to being tortured. You knew that the maps on the table were important and if possible, you would try to not only retrieve them but to leave with them in case they held information that your people would not want divulged.
You know that Lolth is much too strong for this party to attack and win against. They have been lucky so far. While traveling the tunnels, you saw multiple hunters of the night and of the dark places. They hunt alone and in packs. They grow to enormous sizes while some stay so small that they blend into the walls. You warn them to be cautious, not to trust even the walls around them. Your people have a children’s story that you suspect is very true about a beast that haunts these tunnels, set out by Lolth herself. It blends into the walls, becoming as they are. It sits and waits more patiently than a spider before it snatches its prey into the wall with it. Your people have a name for this monster. It is the Ragothrahken, the Hunter from the Rock.

******************************

If the party decides instead to set up in one of the taverns, both have vacancies. The Goose Feather is more like a “home cooked meal” place while the Goose Tale is more of a tavern. In each establishment are people who remember the story of the boy who grabbed the Baroness’s amulet, but no one really knows much more. When prompted one man at the Goose Tale will remember his name: Remus.

Remus once had a small farm just outside the city with his brothers. They were a rowdy bunch of boys. Eight in all. Shortly after Remus lifted the brooch, he disappeared. Some say he just walked into the forest and never came back. Others say he walked off to the Temple we don’t speak of and never came back. The consensus of all is that he never came back.

If the party interviews the boys who are now men, most of them married off, this is what they find:

1) Remus was the one who stole the brooch
2) He had been acting kinda crazy for a while before that, wilder than usual
3) He kept trying to hide this weird tattoo on his wrist. While it fooled their oldest brother, the younger ones saw it one day when he was bathing by the river.
4) Remus went for a walk one night and never came back.

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