Leading the remnants of the Gilded Lions and the refugees from Kenting, Breegan, Kai, and Ovan began the long trip up the side of Mount Whitetop, looking for an entrance to the Stalwart Hall. Fighting their way through a blizzard, they managed to force a path to a sheltered cliffside where the travelers made camp. Here they talked to some of their companions, starting with Sergeant Dural.
Dural told them a bit more about the Stalwart Hall, and its use of an elemental item known as the Tear of the Sun. He told how the Hall had been abandoned 150 years ago when the Crimson gained possession of Mount Whitetop. Dural also mentioned the attack on the Hall by the white dragon known as Verax, the same dragon that had fought an ancestor of the late Lieutenant Lanyard’s wife, and the same dragon slain by the sword Redtooth.
Kai approached Henneth, the elven mayor of Kenting who was now the unofficial leader of the refugees. Henneth thanked the heroes again for saving them from the demons, and explained that the refugees were holding up relatively well considering the circumstances. After speaking to Henneth, the heroes were approached by the merchant Wilem Tesker. Tesker asked them to consider working for him as hired bodyguards, suggesting to them that they would be better off than if they stayed with the Aurum military. The heroes welcomed the suggestion, and Tesker said he would get back to them about the pay rate he could offer.
Scouting the mountain passes ahead the next morning, the party moved in advanced of the rest of the refugee caravan. Going along a narrow mountain pass, they came upon a cave from which Kai could hear loud breathing sounds. They stopped, and Briana, the eladrin scout, approached to ask what was holding up their progress. At that moment, Ovan, in the midst of singing an old song, reached a crescendo which echoed across the pass, waking up the cave bear inside of the cave. The bear attacked, resulting in a difficult battle. The bear was finally slain when Briana was able to hamstring it and cause it to tumble off of the pass road and to a far ledge below. Badly injured in the melee, Briana returned to the rest of the caravan to update them about the incident.
With the pass cleared, the party finally located one of the doors to the Stalwart. Ovan translated the dwarven runes on its surface, explaining that it was a riddle that had to be answered before the door would open. After some thought and examination of the runes, the heroes solved the riddle, causing the door to roll back and reveal an old tunnel. Finding that the tunnel was obstructed with debris, they began trying to clear a path. Unfortunately, their efforts caused a rockslide that dropped some rocks onto their heads before collapsing a part of the floor. It did however result in the tunnel being passable, and they continued on into the main hall of the Stalwart. Here they found things cold but relatively quiet, with the place more or less as its troops had left it. They made two worrisome discoveries; one was the presence of insectoid kruthik, indicated by marks on the tiled floor, and the second was the fact that the Aurum forces had left behind several deadly traps before departing.
Navigating past the traps, they discerned that the Tear of the Sun had been taken from the Stalwart when it had been abandoned, apparently to ensure that it would not fall into enemy hands. The heroes battled several kruthik while investigating some barracks, then identified another infestation in what had been the place’s vault. Resting before going after this horde, they met with the rest of the caravan as it arrived and set up camp in the chilly Hall. Properly recuperated, they finally entered the vault and took out the remaining kruthik, reclaiming some of the treasure from the vault. This included a dwarven longbow named Stormsong, which Kai claimed as her own. Covering the hole that the kruthik had come up through, the heroes then turned their attention to locating the Tear of the Sun.
After some investigation, the party found something called the Sheltered Road, a glacial tunnel which led out of the Stalwart through a secret door. Following the Road, they found the bodies of several Aurum soldiers preserved in the ice. They also discovered tracks and other traces which indicated that an old orc had come up the path and dug up something, presumably the Tear, and then walked back down the path to a plateau below. Following the tracks, they saw a white dragon flying past in the distance, carrying the body of the cave bear that had fought the day before. Descending further into a forested part of the plateau, they witnessed an orc child being attacked by gray wolf. Coming to the boy’s rescue, they scared off the wolf and then asked to be taken to his village. The boy, named Sharuk, did as requested, leading them into the nearby village of the Stoneaxe tribe.
The heroes received a mostly chilly welcome from the inhabitants of the village, but were introduced to Uguld, the tribal chief, and Gnasher, the village shaman. Uguld was all for killing them for their trespass on Stoneaxe territory, but Gnasher spoke to the party about the Tear of the Sun and the white dragon Martax, son of Verax. Martax, a young and arrogant wyrm, had demanded tribute from the unfortunate tribe, stealing their crops and livestocks, and also killing many of their bravest warriors. Gnasher explained that he had found the Tear after a vision he had, and that he had hoped it would protect his people from the dragon’s next rampage. Unfortunately, the Tear was not a weapon, and Martax took it on his next raid, claiming it for himself as a sign of his lordly might. Gnasher spoke in confidence with the party about his desire to keep his people out of the war between Crimson and Aurum, and offered to try and keep the Stoneaxe from troubling their own people in the future. He also gave the heroes information on how to find the dragon’s lair.
Returning to the Stalwart, the heroes conferred with Dural, explaining the situation with Martax and the Stoneaxe. Considering their few options for negotiating with a dragon, they decided to rest and think about what their next move should be.
The party received 1150 XP apiece. I’m pretty sure you’re still a few points shy of 3rd level.
The party found a Thunderburst Bow +1 (Stormsong), two healing potions, 190 gold pieces, and a pearl worth 100 gold pieces.
A fun session. I think using skill challenges more than regular combat worked out well, and we’ve finally had a sort of dungeon crawl. Shortly we’ll have our first encounter with a dragon, so we’ll officially be a Dungeons and Dragons game.