Nature's New Order

Verse 4, Therinad
The Trial (Narrator's Account)

Shortly after Theydrin was pronounced guilty for not holding up his end of the trade with Adice, two half-orc guards dragged him out of the Bastion of Life. The adventurers, stunned, began to discuss what they should do to save their friend. Should they spring him from jail? The paladin and alchemist were not so keen on that plan. Perhaps win the trial the following day fair and square? What were the odds? Would the council elect to free Theydrin? After all they didn’t very much care for him or his attitude. No matter which plan the adventurers chose, they knew they would need to be prepared.

After taking care of a few shopping errands beforehand, the group decided to pay Rini a visit in the Mage’s Guild to inquire about her sudden change of heart to tell the council of the Lost Town. Rini sealed the doors of her office with a sound barrier, thanks to the help of Hammond, and proceeded to inform the group of the information Tenac gave her before the hearing earlier that day.

Tenac believed that there was a traitor either on the council or in the one of the three guilds. Things have been odd lately. A few minor thefts here and there in council-only areas. A couple of hushed meetings in the backs of guild halls. Tenac thought that at least one person in that group could not be trusted, and therefore, should not be let in on the secrets of the treasure beneath Halmond Vale. Rini was told because she was Tenac’s girlfriend, but as far as she knew, she, Tenac and the adventurers were the only ones that knew of the treasure, the location of the Library of Kings, and the secrets of the town.

Rini asked the adventurers to either investigate the Library in order to better solve the puzzle of the town and reclaim the treasure, or to rush over to the town and try to solve the puzzle that way. Either way, the council planned on demolishing the town in 7 days time, so the adventurers would need to be quick and not be caught in the crossfire.

The group decided that before they could do anything, they would need their imprisoned friend, Theydrin. They decided to pay him a visit at the jail, which was located on the bottom floor of Snow Melt. They boarded an elevator and headed down to the depths.

Once they reached the bottom floor, they found the entrance to the jail embedded into the wall, just like any other mine entrance. Standing watch outside was Bob the Guard, who had been given one more mission before he was allowed to retire. His job was to keep the peace at the jail for a few weeks. A simple enough task, but he was wise enough to know that things always seem to go wrong for him.

Bob frowned deeply when the party approached. “Oh no! Get out of here, you lot!” he shouted, knowing full well that they were nothing but trouble. But Tarin and Bram reassured him that they only meant to visit their friend and would be on their way once they did that. Reluctantly, Bob pointed towards the entrance and allowed them inside the prison.

Upon entering, the group is met with a busy looking half-orc secretary working at her desk. The office was small, and contained only her desk, a few chairs and a shaky, metal elevator leading down to the prison floor. The secretary, Krai, was much too busy to make small talk. She instructed the group that if they wanted to visit their friend in prison, they would need to go down the elevator and speak to her brother, Scrob, the warden. The adventurers board the elevator and head down.

Before the elevator even comes to a stop, the group can hear a familiar voice, barking out obscenities. The doors open and next to the warden’s desk stands the warden Scrob and Frogar Vall. Tarin begins to address either of the two of them, being as polite as possible, and with Frogar’s back still turned to him, he reaches back and holds up a signal to wait.

“This is the last time Scrob!” Frogar bellowed. “No more screw ups. You may be a warden of this prison, but I, the High Warden, own you. Mess this one up and I’ll have you, your sister and that pathetic lout Bob thrown to the cold!”

Scrob only managed to stutter a few “But I…” “I mean…” “I’m trying to…” before Frogar stomped away and got into the elevator. Aednoth stopped Frogar and tried to ask him some questions about the trial the next day, to which Frogar said, “Sure, I have time to talk. Say can you hit that button?”. Upon Aednoth’s compliance, the elevator, with only Frogar inside, zipped up the shaft.

The group then turned their attention to the now shaking warden. They asked to get past the jail gates so they can go visit Theydrin, but the warden, now strict on the rules, states that the visiting hours are over. After some pleading, the group managed to get Scrob to ascend the elevator and ask his sister what they should do about letting them in. Just before he could enter the elevator, Felior managed to pickpocket a slip of paper sticking out of his glove. Scrob enters the elevator and ascends.

The group moves quickly, they had to get in to see Theydrin. The slip of paper revealed a picture of the gate control console and an arrow pointing to it with the word ‘Krob’ scribbled underneath. Bram sends his earth elemental under the bars to scout around the prison while Tarin keeps watch for the warden at the elevator. Aednoth and Felior open the gate by writing ‘Krob’ with their finger on the console pad.

The cell block is empty and dark. A coal-bold soldier is locked up in one cell, clawing and scratching in the direction of anything that moves. The group enters cautiously, calling out to Theydrin.

Meanwhile, Theydrin is locked up in one of the cells in the back. He can hear the sounds of munching and swallowing, and the claws of the coal-bold soldier. The voice of Felior and Bram ring out, calling his name. He responds with something like “I’m over here.” and the group begins to approach him. The munching sound stops.

Suddenly, around the corner of the cell block glides a hooded, black robed figure with iron spikes where his eyes should be. The figure opens its mouth, but does not move its lips, and a hoarse whipser can be heard inside each adventurer’s head: “Intruder…. die….”. The figure glides towards the group preparing to strike.

Attempting to stall the figure, Theydrin pisses through the bars into the hallway. which does get its attention, slowing it slightly. The rest of the adventurers stumble backwards and retreat through the iron gate, closing it just in time.

The elevator comes to a halt and Scrob exits quickly to silence the figure, which was now bashing up against the gate. Scrob silenced the creature with a “Justice is served” and the figure once again disappeared into the shadows.

Immediately, Scrob turned on the party, “How dare you rile one of my Iron Inquisitors? What did you do?!” Tarin stepped up and explained that the door opened and it attacked them. They only wanted to protect their friend from it. Scrob bought it and began to panic, thinking of what Frogar would do if he knew the prison security system was faulty. Tarin suggested that they would stay quiet about the whole thing, if the warden agreed to write a letter to the council about Theydrin’s good behavior. The warden agreed and the party left without a peep.

The next morning the adventurers woke up in the Expedition Guild Hall to the small of freshly cooked waffles. Bram was excited and ate several. Outside, banners advertising the trial with Theydrin’s face everywhere shown brightly. Details were also posted, the members of the jury, the councilors who would judge and the time of trial. Interestingly enough, not only was Tarin, Aednoth, Felior and Bram on the jury, but also Warden Scrob. In addition, 2 merchant friends of Adice’s, 2 miners and a farmer were also on the jury. Judging the trial would be the Grand White Wizard, Eleneval Thora’adin, Frogar Vall, Grothnar Vall, Wolfwig the Grave, and Thorgron Stonegrip who was the head judge. Per standard Snow Melt law, each judge got a vote for each accusation, and the jury got a vote, provided it was unanimous.

Several townsfolk pilled into the Bastion of Life for the trial. The jury took their place and the judges entered. Then Adice and Theydrin were escorted in, with Theydrin in chains. Thorgron listed the accusations against Theydrin: Theft, Evasion, Breach of Contract, Disorderly Conduct.

Adice gave her view on the situation. She was very factual and direct. Theydrin agreed to give her one day’s worth of advertising in exchange for 2 cold weather outfits. When it came time to collect he was not there and did not return for several days. He also was rude to both Grothnar and Frogar.

Theydrin then stood to give his plea, but of course, in a backhanded way. He pleaded guilty to helping Snow Melt by embarking on a quest given to him by the council, and guilty to trying to keep his fellow adventurers warm. Theydrin claimed that had to put his duty to the council first, but this was shot down by Frogar who said that he could have gone back to Adice and worked out a new arrangement. The judges looked like they had already made up their mind to convict him.

After several hours of arguing and pleading his case, Theydrin stood to give his final wild card in his closing statements. He asked everyone to really look at the judicial system. “How is it that the people are not fully represented in these trials, that one man who did what he could for his home and his friends is being arrested for a misunderstanding? Why are gnomes, or halflings or drow not represented on the council for all of these major decisions? Why does the jury only get one vote, but only if they all agree. This is a dictatorship, a political ruse!”

The audience became restless with fast, hushed whispers until it grew into a louder ruckus. The judges looked worried as soon this could become ugly. They gave their votes one by one for each charge and Aednoth gave the jury’s votes. In the end, Theydrin was convicted for Breach of Contract, Evasion and Disorderly Conduct and sentenced to repay Adice with 4x what he stole and 1 week’s community service.

The crowd roared at this, and became even more hostile. The judges retreated to their respective houses and Thorgron presented Theydrin with a bracelet with an olive green gem. He was told that Theydrin must do good deeds in order to serve his community service and that he would be done when the gem was white like the snow outside.

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Verse 3, Therinad
Theydrin's Rotten, No Good, Very Bad Day (Theydrin's Account)

After our previous experimentation with the Water Clock outside the lost town, I decided it was time to take our experiment up a notch, and with the help of Garva we moved the water clock inside the town. Tarin and Bram continued urging caution towards this artifact (or cowardice as I like to call it), but I would not be dissuaded, so with Felior at my side, we flipped the water clock one last time inside the town.

The same scene played again, but this time, at the far end of town, we could see the villainous brother and sister responsible for the Vale’s destruction, and as we watched, they turned and looked towards me with their sinister yellow eyes and demonic horns half-visible. Of course, no one believes in demons, but these two looked a lot like what one would expect a demon of legend to look like, and given the barkeep calling me a demon as well, it seems these two are at least not native to Dinah or Therinad.

After taking in our final vision, it was time to depart with our water clock safely stored in my backpack. Our largely worthless guide, Garva, offered his expertise in navigation, and suggested we follow a narrow canyon back towards a trap (Trap? I mean Snowmelt). I made my misgivings about going into a narrow ravine well known but Tarin and Bram had a point: We’d rather not tangle with any Lobera if we can avoid it, and the only other route back was straight through Lobera country. So we set off back home to report on our findings, and deliver the clock. After following the ravine for a bit, we were set upon by a most deadly foe…

Sitting atop a Lobera was a Macabra, the first one I’ve seen in the flesh. I know why some originally called them Manhunters, he looked and moved like an apex predator, almost more beast than man. He came directly for me, or more precisely, my backpack, and I immediately knew he was after the water clock. On his initial pass, I managed to dive out of the way, and my comrades engaged him in battle. For a moment, I thought we had the rider within our grasp, dismounted and prone on the ground. As Bram, Felior, and Tarin closed in for the deathstroke however, the Macabra quickly turned the tables, knocking them all to the ground before reclaiming his feet, and in short order, his mount.

Aednoth’s bombs were once again an awe inspiring cacophony of incendiary chaos, but regretably, they were insufficient. Though we felled the rider’s mount in the ensuing battle, the rider himself was not so easily defeated, and he made off with my backpack, and most notably, the water clock. As a general rule, nobody steals from me and lives, and I was out for blood. Unfortunately, my comrades could not be bothered to dirty their elegant skirts and silken undergarments, so it took a bit of convincing to motivate them to pursue our foe, and even then I had to compromise for locating the enemy camp. During our conversation, it seems our friend, the traitor Garva, slipped off into the snow, undoubtedly to return to Snowmelt and sully our good name before our return, but having convinced my compatriots of the necessity of our task, I decided Garva could be handled another day.

Between the fresh snow and a solid blood trail, we easily tracked the Macabra back to the cave we originally located on our journey out towards the Lost Town, and found my pack, sans water clock. Naturally, this only spurred me on harder, and cowed my compatriots, with the exception of Felior perhaps. Still, after making camp, we sullied forth and continued to pursue our quarry further, right up until a fork in the road. At the fork, we discovered a pair of grave stones and a rather unusual coincidence.

It seems Aednoth had picked up a sort of dog tag from the lobera we slew in the battle with the macabra. This dog tag was written in the long dead language of our lost town, and interestingly, the same name on the dog tag was engraved on one of the two graves we found. We pondered this mystery for a bit, but soon the conversation turned to food. Unfortunately we were low on supplies, and though I craved the sweet taste of revenge, my companions desired warm beds and hot meals. After so long on the road, I was forced to acquiesce, and we agreed to return to Snowmelt to resupply before any additional pursuit.

We set up for the night, and my alchemist compatriot set about demonstrating his prowess in his chosen craft, that of the culinary arts. I must say, though I appreciate Aednoth’s confectionary treat he calls a “waffle”, I don’t have the same burning desire for them as our paladin. They are rather tasty, but I don’t personally consider them the end all, be all of cuisine that Bram does. Still, they fill the belly and satisfy the tongue, so I shouldn’t complain too much. After a satisfying supper, we turned in for the night, only to be roused from our slumber by the hungry dead.

I remember as a young man, first learning the ways of the world, my adoptive father gave me a bit of advice. “Son, never sleep where dead lie”. I always thought he was referring to the smells and diseases carried by corpses, but it turns out there’s more dangers to the dead than just the mundane. We awoke to Tarin Silverspring rousing us from our slumber, and the unmistakable moans of walking corpses. Alas, my powers of mental manipulation matter for about donkey dung in the face of the undead, so I was relegated to impotently thrusting my rapier while my compatriots dispatched the beasts. Bram Boulderhammer especially delivered a punishing blow with that hammer of his. He may have an entire tree crammed up his backside at times, but I’d never doubt the paladin’s prowess in combat, and I was most grateful for him this evening.

On our journey back to Snowmelt, I was reviewing my plans for dealing with the traitor Garva, and to my surprise, he came topside with a few mages in red robes to greet us. I decided to move quickly before he could further poison their minds with his traitorous lies, and sent the fool to slumber while I laid out his crimes to the red robes. It seems nobody really wants to have a conversation in the snow, so we moved the dreaming Garva into the elevator, and rode down to see the council.

On the way, a particularly ugly and ill-tempered half-orc attempted to coerce us into sharing our information, but I wasn’t about to let some low level thug harass and intimidate us. I gave him a good staring down and convinced him to back off. Little did I know the sniveling whelp would run back to his elder brother, Grothnar Vall , and my decision would later come back and bite me in the flank.

In the council chambers, our conversation mostly focused on the lost town of Halmond Vale, rather than Garva’s treachery, but I suppose one treasonous dwarf can wait when compared to the wonders and mysteries we found outside the town. We discussed the clock, the illusionary townsfolk, our discovery of a journal and map in the burned out mansion, and our journey back, complete with the macabra attack.

At that, Grothnar spoke up and made mention of “The Rider”, a macabra capable of taming lobera he has seen in the past. Grothnar and Frogar were a bit perturbed that The Rider chose to involve himself with regards to our journey. About this time, a delectable little human morsel by the name of Rini appeared. She was a wealth of information and offered her knowledge and expertise regarding the history of Therinad. After a bit of harumphing on the part of the council, it was off to see the mages guild for some information.

We were greeted by the beautiful young Content Not Found: rini-aldcar as we arrived, who was happy to provide us with yet more information on the lost town, and the history of Dinah. She mentioned the possibility of a hidden treasure, located under the town and lost to the memory of mortals. At this point, I thought Rini could use a little magical adjustment, and with a wave of the hand and a flick of the wrist, I had her convinced to keep the knowledge of that treasure a secret for a little while….

But as my father used to say “All good things are spoiled by paladins”, and this would be no different. Bram and Aednoth could not be persuaded to allow this omission from the record, and as a result, Rini shook off my compulsion and after a few choice words, departed. On our way out, we had the opportunity to bend and scrape before the Grand White Wizard who chose this particular time to come parading through with all the pomp and circumstance of noble maiden on her wedding day. I let my allies show their deference, but I chose to abstain, for no man deserves a bow simply by right of office.

Anyhow, we returned to the council chambers at this time to report our findings at the mages guild, and hear their decision on how to handle the situation. Surprisingly, Rini and Tenac chose not to divulge the treasure below town to the council, and after a few heated exchanges , the council voted to destroy the town. Of course, knowing of the possibility of treasure below, I tried to dissuade them from this course of action, however I was foiled by a pint-sized troublemaker by the name of Tenac. Somewhere during the discourse, he disappeared for a time, only to return with Adice Manka in tow, the poor gnome woman my colleague Felior Frostbrow chose to deceive when we left Snowmelt a week ago. I knew it was a bad plan when Felior first came up with it, but I played along with the intention of making things right upon our return to Snowmelt. Besides, what difference does one week make with regards to free advertising?

I had a sinking feeling from the moment Adice arrived, and before I had time for another word, I heard guards pronounce “Theydrin Durjss’Axle, you are hereby under arrest, for the crime of theft”. And so here I am, with bad food, no wine, no women, no smokable weeds… Hopefully Felior will be able to convince the rest of my compatriots to stage a daring rescue, but I’m not holding my breath…

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Verse 2, Therinad
History's Mystery (Felior's Account)

We survived the encounter with the Lobera, but just barely (for Garva at least) . As we were all trying to clammer up the trees (half of us blind), the grass wolves came back for more. Lucky for us they had no use for us anymore, or they didn’t want to fight up the trees to get us, or they just grew bored. Us blind folk spent the night in our own trees with our own little guardians to keep us warm and make sure we didn’t fall out. Garva basically built a tree house for me. I guess a dwarf is good for something.

We decided to gather up some food that the Lobera might settle for should we encounter them again, and we headed out toward our objective. We got somewhat lost around the mountains and got a little confused on how to navigate. I thought that was kind of funny, considering the amount of dwarves in our party.

Erelong it began to grow dark and we encountered a cave. I would have done anything to claim that cave to sleep in. As we walked up to it we heard the noise of an angry beast. The funny thing was that as we looked around and all up inside the cave, it seemed clear. I moved in, scary as it sounded, but there was no one there. It turned out to be some kind of spell trying to trick us from going in. Inside the cave I found a hidden cache with quite a few interesting items. We stowed ourselves away in the cozy cave and set up watch for the night.

Near the end of the night there was a very loud scream, like the roar of a wild cat. Everyone but the dwarves were awoken and ready to fight off the beast, but it seemed to run away before we could catch sight of it. It was a very cunning animal, as it didn’t fall for the expertly hidden tripwire I had set up before we went to bed. I decided to stay up to keep watch with Theydrin for the rest of the night. I don’t know how the rest of them went right back to bed after a scare like that!

After not too long of a walk, we finally spotted the town we were looking for. It looked burned and destroyed, as we expected. We headed right into town to search for survivors, but as soon as we hit the outer gate, we found something unexpected. There was some sort of squishy barrier around the town, invisible to the eye, but very real. I decided to push through it. It wasn’t difficult to get through, but once I did, I saw the strangest thing. The town in front of me was in pristine condition. There were citizens and buildings, all of which seemed perfectly normal. It was warm and the sun was high. The place seemed unaffected by the cold exterior of Therinad. A man walked up and greeted me. He glinted and shimmered, but other than that he seemed perfectly normal… Until Tarin tried to shake his hand. His hand went right through! Theydrin made a quick sweep of the town and told us that the people had no thoughts. The mystery was getting weirder and weirder.

After spending some time in the town, we discovered that the people had no knowledge of modern technology, or even modern times. They were really happy about their new and exciting “stone short sword” technology, and they believed they were on a continent called Dinah. They had never heard of Therinad. Theydrin discovered that the people don’t know what elves are, and kind of consider them to be evil or demonic. It was okay though, because all you have to do is leave the town and come back, and all seems well. Even the greeter was happy to see us, though he didn’t recognize us from before… Annoying bastard. We discovered that if you leave the town, anything you bring with you will spoil, as if it were suddenly affected by years of aging. We also felt hungry, as if we had spent a lot of time inside. And it turned out that we did spend a lot of time in there without realizing it! We decided to try to speak to the leader of the town, whom we were led to believe lives in the house up on the hill.

As we went up to the house, we were attacked by an ice troll, who burst out of the barn nearby, very grumpy from being woken up. We surrounded it and attacked it with all we had. Aednoth had plenty of fiery bombs which seemed to hurt the troll quite a bit. I couldn’t find a single weak spot on the beast for the entire battle – his skin was hard as rock and nearly impenetrable! Bram showed us all just how tough he could be, and went toe to toe with the beast. He came out of the battle without a single scratch. The same could not be said for Theydrin and Aednoth. They got beat up pretty bad by the troll’s clawing and biting and rending. The troll had a stash of pretty interesting items, the most interesting of them being a waterclock, which seemed to be magical. Theydrin told us that it was the same type of magic that was surrounding the town.

We went into the mansion and looked around for clues. Of course, the first thing we saw were two dead bodies, and of course the first thing Bram did was see to their proper funeral. We burned the bodies and slept in the mansion. It was another warm, indoor night. I felt a bit safer, though the sound of howling could still be heard in the distance.

We also discovered a book written in an ancient language which Aednoth translated for us. It told us a little bit about the town and what had happened to it. Apparently everything went to shit one day when this mysterious man and his sister showed up. We also found a map that resembled Therinad, but it wasn’t quite the continent we know. The map was titled Dinah and written in a language we called Dihgnaran. We went back to town, eager to discover its secrets.

After experimenting with the waterclock and the town, we made some discoveries. When the clock was turned, those inside the town could watch a little bit of what we guess is the history of the town. We watched a man and woman come into the town, and it was not long before they were murdering all the little fake people (even the greeter, much to my enjoyment). The mystery here is still unsolved, and there are still no signs of real survivors anywhere. I hope we can figure this out soon.

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Verse 1, Therinad
Into The Cold (Aednoth's Account)

Starday, 12th day of Gozran in the 300th year of the Age of Snow

My eyesight has finally returned after what that blueberry did to me. If I never see another one of those things in it will be too soon. Going back to the beginning though our mission began fairly well. We were called in to meet with the Council by rather rude gnome we were all fairly nervous, mostly anyway. The counselors were not at all happy with us for putting that guard to sleep and sneaking into the mines and they were really unhappy with Garva in particular for sending us down the without their permission. Things were starting to look fairly bad for us when in the middle of our hearing a man burst into the Council chambers bearing news of a new village in the West. As punishment for going in the spell it mines and putting the guard to sleep the Council decided to send us to scout out the village and bring any survivors back to Snowmelt. On a side note we discovered that the Bastion of Life is protected by silencing spells when Tarin and Felior tried to overhear what they were talking to the Explorer about. The less said about my shopping trip to get torches before we left the better. It turns out the knives I found in the mines were made from human bones. The shopkeeper was strangely interested in them and I’m probably going to try and stay away from from that shop from now on.

Anyway, the yesterday morning I was interrupted from my making breakfast before we began our journey by an old halfling woman looking for someone who sounded like Theydrin. Tarin Kamen answered her while I went back to cooking. For some reason I thought I saw Theydrin dressed as a human coming from the back. I have no plans to ask what that was about, ever. Anyway, when we were already Bram started leaving us away from Snowmelt I have to say, IT. Was. COLD.

Our first day of travel on the 11th was fairly uneventful. While we were settling down for the night it took us a while to get ready to handle the cold but we managed. Today though everything went the pot. First, Bram decided not to wait for me to cook the waffles before he started eating the mix raw and then neither he nor Tarin could catch any more fish. We should of taken that is assigned today would not be as good as yesterday. As was starting to get dark we were ambushed by something Garva called a Lobera. The first one, while tough, went down fairly easily. The strange thing though was that after Bram killed it, it turned into a wolf pup. Things got bad though when three more came in almost killed us. One of them use some kind of magic to blind and do a lot of damage to us. Luckily while most of us, including me, were blinded the others managed to lure them away and we just barely managed to make it into the trees before they came back, Garva almost didn’t make it. I hope the rest of the trip isn’t as eventful as this.

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Prologue, Therinad
A Lump of Coal (Narrator's Account)

Ages ago, in the grand continent of Therinad, there lived several prospering villages. Although Medieval in nature, the people were well lived and happy. But this time of peace and prosperity would soon come to an end. It started with slightly colder days and eventually turned to heavier snowfalls. As spring came, the cold did not relent and crops failed to bloom. Rain was replaced by ice, the ground covered in snow, and within the course of a few years, all of Therinad was covered in winter’s wrath. Thus began the Ice Age.

Fast forward 300 years. Our story begins with a ragtag bunch of Expedition cadets in the underground bastion for survival, Snow Melt. Among the cadets are Theydrin Durjss’Axle, the fun loving, manipulative, half-drow bard; Tarin Silverspring, the half-elf, orphan fighter-cleric; Felior Frostbrow, the mysterious, rogue, elven desert-blade; Aednoth, the human, alchemist prodigy; and Bram Boulderhammer, the hearty, kindhearted, dwarf paladin. It is graduation day at the Expedition Academy and the cadets are preparing to take on something more challenging then the previous training exercises.

A stout dwarf named Garva emerges from his office in the Expedition Academy to greet the graduating class. He informs the cadets that the Snow Melt Heater is running out of coal and without it, the town will surely freeze over. Normally, the Arms Guild sends roughly twenty miners down into the mines below Snow Melt once a month to gather coal, but this last month’s mining group did not return. Garva asks the group if they would go and investigate and mine out that month’s supply. The group agrees to the mission and they head towards the central elevator.

On their way down to the mines, the elevator stops and in walks Tenac Fithor, a well known, quirky gnome bard and tinkerer, who is on his way to visit the Council. The cadets determine that something is bothering Tenac, but are unable to glean what it might be.

The elevator reaches the mining level of the town, and the group exits the elevator. Circling them are several mining entrances, one of which has magical writing “caution tape” strung a crossed it, alerting people not to enter. A lone, half-orc guard, Bob, stands watch at its entrance. The cadets surmise that this is the mine where the group of twenty miners met their fate.

The group attempts to head into the restricted mine, but Bob stops them and asks what they are doing. After explaining to Bob that they are on a mission to rescue the lost minors and retrieve this month’s coal, the adventurers are asked to present some form of proof to back up their claim. With no proof to be had, Theydrin put the guard to sleep with a lullaby, so they could slip by into the dark cavern.

The two drow and the dwarf are able to see perfectly in the dark, including even the half-elf and full elf who can see using the dwarf’s torch. However, Aednoth, the only human, is left blinded by the darkness. A faint clicking noise can be heard throughout the cavern for a brief moment, and then a hush, as Aednoth is given a torch. The now illuminated mine looks abandoned for some time and feels cold and dreary.

With a few steps forward, the party is surprised by a volley of arrows shooting from holes in the walls, followed by several simultaneous, loud cackles in a foreign language. Theydrin and Bram leap to action, and attempt to block one of the holes. Theydrin uses his dancing lights to daze the attacker on the other side, while Bram picks up a rock, fits it into the hole and give a hearty swing with his hammer. Felior tries to sneak around the backside of the wall
to flank the mysterious attackers, but is unable to find a way behind the wall. It appears that there is no way to access the enemies other than those holes.

More arrows fly from the south, east and west, as the party is drenched in waves of crossbow bolts. Aednoth takes a few pot shots through the hole but misses the enemy on the other side. Tarin, evades the situation and makes his way further up the hall.

The arrows stop. From the end of the hall there’s a flash of bright orange light pouring from one of the holes, then another, and another, closer and closer to the group. Fire breath. A whoosh of flame covers the area, but everyone is able to avoid it. In dodging, Aednoth gets too close to one of the holes and greeted by a spear in his side. Theydrin trips a carefully laid out wire, which triggers a vine to wrap around his leg and send him hurling into a ceiling
of stalactites.

It is time to leave the entrance to the mines. Bram rushes further forward into the dark mines, crushing an ill-set bear trap with his mighty dwarven feet. He, along with Tarin and Felior who had run up on the opposite side to meet him, find that they can go no further south. A wide, deep pit, with no visible end, stretched out before them, with only a single, old, rickety ladder on the side for company. Seeing no other way forward, Felior begins his descent on the ladder, making sure to be very careful not to compromise its structure.

Aednoth and Theydrin, still lagging behind, makes their way south to join their team mates. Upon doing so, another whoosh of flame appears from the wall as more hidden enemies seem to have made their way further south as well. Theydrin springs another trap, a bear trap, and is braced in place directly in front of the hole. With the help of his team mates, Theydrin is able to free his foot and escape another jab from a spear in the wall. Once free,
he uses ghost sound to fool the enemies into shooting elsewhere, while the cadets regroup at the ladder.

Theydrin is able to take a quick look inside the hole to get a better idea of what kind of enemy they are facing. They appear to be reptilian in nature, dark red skin, with large teeth and two throats. Theydrin joins the group at the ladder. They appeared to be safe … for now.

Down and down Felior climbs, making his ever slow descent to the bottom. After reaching the bottom of the 100 foot chasm, Felior finds a smaller pit with an unnatural looking cluster of white objects. Upon further inspection, he is able to tell that it was 22 bodies, wrapped in linens and placed in a mass grave. The bodies appear to be slashed, eviscerated and burned. Two of the bodies, are Macabra and are not wrapped in linens. Felior signals up to the party that is was safe to come down, but only two at a time so to not disturb the latter.

Minutes later, the cadets assemble at the bottom of the mine. Through some searching they are able to find, 1 diamond, 4 cubic feet of coal, 2 bone daggers, 1 necklace of teeth (later identified as an Amulet of Mighty Fists +1), a flask of an unknown liquid and several bits of mining equipment.

Suddenly, there is a loud boom at the top of the mining shaft. Several scrapes, shouts and crashes echo down into the chamber. Then, silence for a moment, and several more thuds approaching the top of the shaft. At the top of the chasm was Grothnar Vall, the half-orc representative of the Grand Council and overseer of security. In a loud, booming voice he shouts down and demands the cadets explain why they are down in a restricted mine. Aednoth and Theydrin are quick to explain that they were sent by Garva to investigate and retrieve this month’s coal, and they found the bodies of the missing miners along with two Macabra.

Grothnar slides down the ladder with a gorilla’s agility, muttering under his breath that Garva was a major pain in the ass. He asks the party what happened and they fill him in on the enemies in the walls. Grothnar frowns, “”/characters/coal-bold-soldier" class=“wiki-content-link”>Coal-bolds." He explains that they have infested the surrounding mines and eat the coal, digest it and burn it to stay warm. They are like termites, but can breathe fire, and instead of eating wood, they eat the one thing you need to survive: warmth. Grothnar whistles and a few more of his half-orc followers slide down the ladder and begin carrying the bodies up. Felior decides to “play dead” and gets a free ride up the ladder.

As the cadets and half-orcs leave the mine, they see that the walls where the murder holes had been. They now have claw marks and larger holes in the two feet of stone wall where presumably, Grothnar had punched through and strangled the Coal-bolds on the other side. Tunnels that lead deeper into the caves can be seen behind these walls, with louder clicking noises coming from them.

At the base of Snow Melt, outside the mine, Bob the guard looks very upset. Grothnar had apparently gotten to him first and given him an earful. He informs the group to not tell the rest of the town about the Coal-bolds; there was enough panic around with the Ice Age, we didn’t need a threat from inside as well.

The elevator comes down and out walks Tenac, looking just as concerned as before. Bram, as convinced as ever that Tenac was trying to give subtle clues, tries to weasel more information out of him. Whether Tenac pitied Bram, or if he became annoyed with Bram is unknown, but Tenac shares briefly his concern. “There might be Macabra among us. Disguised as ”/wikis/alliance" class=“wiki-page-link”>Alliance." Tenac recalls seeing two Alliance children with Macabra tails running for the mines early one morning, but he thought he was seeing things. The party boards the elevator without Tenac and heads up to talk to Garva.

Upon reaching the Expedition Academy, Garva greets the party with open arms, congratulating them on a job well done. Aednoth and Theydrin curtly inform him that he did not supply them any proof, nor tell them that they needed proof in order to go down into the mines. Garva waves it off like it was no big deal, claiming Grothnar is just grumpy. A passing Frogar Vall (Grothnar’s “brother”) laughs to himself, “Garva, you are in deep trouble…again.”

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