The long forgotten crypt room you have decided to rest in is not the most idea place to camp for a night. It is cold, musty and covered in hard stone. What it lacks in comfort it makes up for in defensibility. With only one set of sturdy wooden doors leading into the room, the party can easily secure the doors and seal the cracks around the doors with cloaks to prevent light from escaping into the room beyond.
“My savior!” Jalissa says as she is unshackled from the walls. Once freed, she rushes towards Runtwold, the first person she saw enter the room and smothers him in an embrace.
“I knew Ioun would send me a savior! I just knew it!”
Jalissa goes on to tell you about how she was taken in the night by a group of Orcs that burst through the gates near her home. She was walking back to her house from the temple when they grabbed her and knocked her out. She awoke as she and the others were being led through the ruins. She knows that Thurann, the 8 year old son of the captain of the guard is being held nearby as she heard him yelling just a few hours ago.
The hours of brutal fighting cause you all to collapse onto your bedrolls in exhaustion. Runtwold and Artin tend to the party’s wounds; cleaning them with water and then bandaging them with clean strips of cloth. Jalissa tags along with Runtwold as he helps to heal you, trying to help as much as she can, though she proves to be more of a hindrance than help. As they tend to your wounds, you all dig into your packs and pull out some of the hard tack trail rations that are a part of your adventurer packs. The rations are tough and bland, but are all you have.
The sunrod the party ignited after their last rest begins to die an hour into your rest in the crypt. It sputters for a moment, the flashing light causing the shadows to dance about the small burial chamber before plunging the room into total darkness.
Jalissa lets out a soft whimper as she grabs Runtwold tightly and pulls herself closer to him. “Oh no!” she cries softly and pleads; “It’s so dark. Please, Runtwold, light another torchy thing before they sneak up on us.”
As her words die out, you are left in the absolute darkness and silence of the long forgotten crypts beneath Castle Rivenroar.
To Jalissa, after, et-hem, holding her for a while in the dark: "I appreciate your fear, but I’m not the kind of guy you should hold on to. This party may have helped me to save you, but I’ve been cowardly in the past. There’s no guarantee we’ll make it out of here alive. Can I persuade you, when we’ve had some rest, to draw up a map of what you know of the nearby area? At very least, we can try and get you to safety.
Samhain says; “This is ridiculous,” and lights another sunrod and places it in the middle of the room. He then takes his bedroll to a corner and tries to get some sleep. “Wake me when it’s my watch,” he says as he lies down to face the wall.
Jalissa turns to Runtwold: “You, cowardly? Nonsense! You rushed into this room without fear of any danger and saved me from those beasts! You’re my hero! I just know you’ll help me and the others get out of here, being the brave adventurer you are. Those motherless Hobgoblins better flee if they know what’s good for them!”
“I’m not sure if I can draw you a map of any use. They blind folded me most of the time and the times I was not blindfolded, it was awfully dark. I can try though. I’ll do anything I can to help you.”
Boreas’s voice booms in the confined room: “Hey lady-friend, he speaks the truth about cowardice. He carries the cowardice of entire people on his shoulders. He and most other small of stature. His people bring about many sadness to my people. They scurry like rats below the ground, scrounge for riches and come to find things they no want.”
“My people, great people. My people walk about the mountains and clouds. We walk the lands of our people. Then the rats come and bring plague to our people. They disgrace our sacred land. I go with my people and find out how rats defile holy ground.”
“We find rats reaching in ground and pulling out ancestors. We fight them. We destroy their equipment and break their bodies. They fight with fire and ice. They corrupt the mountain and trees with their magics. They corrupt guardians that watch over graves and send them against us. My people will not fight. They smash and swallow my people. I not see guardians anymore. I see only abominations. A few of us fight.”
Boreas presents his pick before him. Even In the darkness it glows faintly.
“I rip this tooth from giant maw of mountain and bring it back down into burning eye. I kill mountain. Together we kill all. We return to people – only a handful. We tell our story.”
Boreas looks disturbed and a momentarily shaken until his face is overtaken in anger.
“We not cheered. We not champions. We are hated by people. We are outcasts. Our people tell us that is no life for us. Tell us we should bring end to ourselves at great cliffs. I go with others. I go and sit at fire and look for answers. I hear father’s voice – he tells me how to help my people. I see battle again in flames as nightmare. I wake and find friends gone and this rat come running up.”
A smile slowly opens his small mouth wide in a hardy laugh.
“Ha-ha. He no rat. Ha-ha. He mouse. That’s why I not kill him. He honest about cowardice. Runtwold see vision too, so I think he help me find answers. I go with him here. You safe with mouse here in darkness.”
Samhain gets up and joins the others in the center of the room. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he idly toys with his dagger, not making eye contact as he speaks.
“I, too, am an outcast. When my abilities manifested, my family sent me away, in the hope that I could learn to control the magic, the chaos in me, that I might benefit the clan’s business someday. I am no scholar. I spent years poring over dusty tomes and fragile scrolls, only to fail again and again at what the masters of the tower tried to teach me. Their ancient formulae were nothing compared to the song that rings in my blood. After a time, I quit trying. Why twist my tongue and tie my fingers in knots when my true path lies in simply whispering a few notes of that song, feeling the rush as the Elements burn through me? But no, I can never learn to control it completely.”
He looks up, fear and anger in his eyes as he remembers:
“And then I learned the true source of the masters’ powers. Pacts with demons and devils! My curiosity and frustration overcame my common sense, and I crept deep in the heart of the towers lowest levels, and there I witnessed atrocities to quell the heart of even our large friend there.” Samhain drops his gaze to the knife in his hand again. "So I fled, ran home, only to be shunned by my former friends and family because my magic was seen as too dangerous, too random. No benefit to the clan.
My dreams brought me to Brindol, visions of a… a town in danger. Perhaps, if I do enough good in the world, my family will accept me. I will prove my worth to them, and I will be able to go home again."
Without another word, or looking at his companions, Samhain returns to his bedroll and rolls to face the wall…
After hear the Goliaths speech, Artin, the Dwarven paladin stands and approaches the Goliath: “Runtwold over there may not have a problem with you calling Dwarves ‘rats’, but I will not allow you to call MY people ‘rats’. Perhaps you’ve forgotten all that me kin ’ave been through and done for ALL of the folk of The Vale.” Artin stands tall before tearing into the large man: " Centuries ago, me people were enslaved by your kindred giant folk. Not by your people, but by ‘real’ giants. These savages worked my people to death, all the while plundering the surrounding area. In fact, your people may very well owe your existence to the liking many giant men had for Dwarven and human women. Not that the feeling was mutual."
Artin paced back and forth in front on Boreas as he spoke.
“When the dwarves rose up and fought back against the giants, we struck with a savage fury only a dwarf with nothing left to lose could muster. We lost many men and women in the battle, but I can assure you, they lost many, many more. The giants were sent scurrying back into their mountain holes where they came from.”
Artin is worked into a pretty good rant at this point. His face is red and spittle exploded from his mouth with every word.
“After we had won our freedom, the Dwarves of The Vale created a fortified gate at Bordin’s Watch to prevent these scum and their kin from ever threatening the Vale again. Me father, me fathers fathers and generations before them kept vigilant watch at the gate. Many fine Dwarven warriors have died at that gate defending the citizens of the Vale from attack. The same Vale where the mountains you call home reside.”
Artin calms down and takes a deep breath before continuing: “So, my large friend, think of all the dwarves of the Vale have sacrificed, before calling us ‘rats’. Some of us may take offense.”
He turns and begins to walk away before stopping and turning back to him: “I am sorry about your people, friend. It would sound like we all are searching for …. well….something and the gods have brought us together to find it.”
Jalissa turned to the Goliath as she hugged Runtwolds arm; “Runtwold is not a coward, you big dummy. Whatever he may have done in the past, is just that, in the past. All you can do about the past is work to make amends in the present. He ran in here and saved me. He’s me hero.”
Boreas sits for a moment, before breaking into a broad grin: “Haha. I see I upset little man. Hah. You anger easy, I fear you might boil over. I see now that you not all rats. I am not stupid but I never learn of ancestry and history. I spend time learning to fight. My father did not teach me about people. I hear different stories that sound the same as you tell. I thought that maybe just for children. They make them feel better for being small. Haha…”
“You tell good stories and make me believe that it is truth. I take it back, you not rat. You not mouse. You just small. But you tell good story and swing weapon well. Haha… You make me think of mother when she used to nurse small brothers. That compliment. Brothers fight well. We now family from fights on battlefield. Maybe Jalissa give you milk now if you thirsty. Haha… “
Boreas turns to Runtwold before continuing: “You bring good dog to fight. Dog fight well, better than most. Your my brother in fight and it is only in death does that bond end. Brothers not leave brothers in battle. That’s when we are not family … That means death.”
Artin let out a bellowing laugh and smiled broadly: “You’re a strange man, Boreas, but I like you and it’s an honor to fight by your side.” Artin hoisted the mug of ale he mysteriously produced from his pack and looked around the room to make eye contact will all of his companions: “Here’s to being Brothers in Battle!” I one deft move he tilted back the mug and finished its contents. “It will be an honor to fight at your sides!”
The party then settled in for a long cold night in the damp, dark ruins of Castle Rivenroar. After a fitful night’s sleep filled with the echoes of long forgotten crypt, the party continued their search for the stolen relics of Brindol, the captive towns folks and the answers to how and why they all came to be in the Antler and Thistle.