On August 8th, Friday, a message from the gnomes comes through Matthias to Citadel House, informing them that Verdis and Q are awaiting reinforcements in Slighe Domhainn, where they (especially Q) are resting from a first attempt to enter the dwarven fortress. On the 9th, Rowan departs, making hard march through Gnomish lands and arriving in the evening Monday the 11th in Slighe Domhainn.
- Verdis (HuS): Level 9 Human Fighter
- Phineas, Talking Rock Companion
- Q (TrS): Level 2 Human Thief
- Rowan (MiM): Level 2 Elf Magic-user
Tuesday morning, joined by Dargos’ team again, they return to the dwarven fortress, filling containers with 2 days of water at the last opportunity before the village. Verdis, Rowan, and Q go ahead into the village and find it all clear but for some Chlaymids fishing in the river near the bridge. They deal with them with little trouble, other than Q being caught up in a blazing cyclone ended by Verdis’ thrown hunting knife. Verdis heals him by laying on hands, preventing the fatigue associated with magical healing.
With the way to the fortress door clear, they return and bring in the gnomish team. They all approach the right tower (the one better secured by Q on their last visit) and guard the space beneath while Q climbs (now better at it since his level up). He easily reaches the top of the tower and ties off his rope for the others to climb. They are soon all atop the tower.
Leaving the two gnomish guides on lookout, the rest descend to the ground floor of the tower and the three adventurers go out into the main chamber, seeing that the high sun is brightly illuminating the central area of the cavern and they can see well. Fresh eyes reveal a small building near the gate that they go to investigate. Verdis is able to open the metal rolling door and inside they find a metal horse and unusual, treaded carriage.
While Q and Rowan inspect the horse, removing a large stone cylinder from the mechanical guts of the horse and reinserting it, Verdis finds his way into the carriage, playing with levers inside until it rattles to life. He soon rides it out of the shed, learning a bit about the controls. They show the gnomes what they’ve found and they are very excited about the new discoveries. They’ve seen machines like these, but this is a great find. In another shed, they find another horse that the gnomes are able to activate for Q to ride.
With the gnomes excited about the new equipment, Verdis, Rowan, and Q make their way into the buildings and toward the light, creeping up on the eight Chlaymids basking in the sun around the pit at the center of the cavern. They ambush and quickly kill them all, moving in quickly to stop the last two from climbing out of the steamy pit below. Some sort of engine in the pit keeps the massive flywheel spinning above them. They can see a large metal base supporting the axle of the flywheel and beneath that steam hiding the bottom of the pit.
They leave Rowan to watch over the pit and return to the gnomes. There, they work together to lift the bar from the doors and use the metal horse to pull one of them open. Through it, they push open the outer door. They then return to Rowan with some of the gnomes, who agree they can’t seal the pit if the engine is to keep functioning. They warn against descending into the heat of the pit, but agree that it must be the way the Chlaymids are getting in. While the gnomes split into two groups (one to guard the pit and the other to explore the rest of the interior buildings), the adventurers go out to see what can be done about the hotspring end of the entrance.
Outside, they confidently approach the dozen chlaymids in the hotspring pools. The chlaymids scramble to drive them off, but Verdis is an unstoppable force. As a storm of flames descends on them from the pair flanking above, Rowan and Q withdraw away from it, Q killing the last chlaymid grappling Verdis. As the storm continues to close, starting to take its toll on Verdis and the others, Verdis is forced to charge, soon getting to the remaining shaman (though Rowan’s arrow has already broken its concentration on the storm). It damages him with a breath of fire, but he cuts it down.
During the fight, one of the chlaymids escaped into the large pool, revealing to them the way into the fortress. They return and inform the gnomes, who have become excited about what they’re finding: a factory once used to create the machines they have found throughout dwarven lands. Their plan is to occupy the factory, keeping the chlaymids out, but ask for a little help sweeping the area. The party spends the rest of Tuesday searching, finding a small lockbox of money. They also load up a significant supply of chlaymid dung to sell.
Wednesday morning, they set out with Vecno (one of the gnome mages) to report to Dargos in Slighe Domhainn. Q rides the iron horse on the way back, but it dies out about an hour from the town and Vecno assures them they will come back for it. In the town, they sell most of the dung, turning a smart profit. Dargos also pays them all, thanking them for giving the gnomes access to such a facility. They spend the night in the town, resting most of the day, and then make their way back to the Vale, arriving in Citadel Saturday evening (the 16th) after a hard march.
This was the first major complication we’ve had with real time scheduling, going back in time to play August 11th adventures on August 25th. It worked out fine with a little luck, but we only completed it just in time for Dargos to invite them back for another mission on the back of their success a couple weeks before.