When we last left our brave heroes, they had successfully infiltrated the Dreadhold, and had just entered its smithy. The smith-artificer, and some kind of Cobra construct, attacked, but were prevented from raising the alarm by Teppic’s Silence spell. The battle was quick, ending with the Cobra battered into a pile of bits, and the smith paralysed by Teppic’s Shivering Touch. Little damage was done to the party, though the single point of Con damage Castar sustained during the skirmish would prove a foretaste of things to come.
Grolsch, with a cloak covering his distinctive breastplate, scouted into the cellblock, finding and freeing the prisoner they had been sent to find. Or, one of them. The gnome Thraxis would have to be sought in the mines below the Dreadhold, where prisoners toiled at the dangerous trade of wresting dragonshards from Khyber’s stony grip.
Again Grolsch led the way, infiltrating a group of dwarven guards and gathering valuable intelligence about an attack in which creatures from the depths below had wiped out prisoners and guards, only one of whom escaped to tell the tale. Then, for some unknown reason, the treacherous guards turned on Grolsch, attacking him with their axes. The party sprung into action, and after a brief battle the guards proved ready to surrender. Surrender of a sort, refusing to be bound or disarmed, lest they be slain by creatures from below. Their fear palpable, the guards were left as they were, bound only by their captain’s word of honour, such as is given from dwarf to dwarf, that they would not raise the alarm. Just in case, however, Grolsch drew upon the power of the dragon marking his flesh to place an alarm on the passageway between the mines and the prison above, which would alert him of any movement, whether to or from the prison.
Moving deeper into the mines, the party encountered mummified bodies, dessicated and covered in countless puncture wounds. Not a good sign, but our heroes were not sure what to make of it. In any event, time was pressing as there was no telling how long the captain would be able to stay berthed in Dreadhold before he would be forced to leave. And Thraxis had to be found. Pressing on, deeper into the mines, they were attacked by four bizarre creatures, betentacled and blindingly fast in their movements. The details of the epic struggle that ensued could not possibly be captured here (but look for the special supplement in an upcoming issue!). The creatures’ tactics centred on teaming up to grapple and suck the blood of their chosen victims, focusing on Joharra and Castar, both of whom lost a great deal of blood. Eventually, all of the foul fiends (or were they?) were slain.
A search of the area found bodies, including the corpse of Thraxis, come to his bad end at last, but fortunately still legible, the notes tattooed on his body filling in the gaps left in the journal’s account. The search also turned up four pairs of Boots of Striding and Springing, and signs that the dwarven guard who had recently “escaped” death battling monstrosities from the depths of Kyber had in fact been permitted to escape. Taking the creatures’ heads as evidence, the party sought to warn the guards of the danger that might lurk within the mystery of this guard’s survival, but they appeared to pay no heed. Stopping by the smithy to return the warhammer used to good effect against those fell foes in the depths, Grolsch warned the smith also to be on guard against the lone survivor of the recent incursion from below. But he appeared no more interested in this warning than in the offer of contract work for the party as an artificer. So, with that, the party gladly left the Dreadhold in three waves, borne by Joharra through Flame-knows what strange dimensions to appear aboard ship, along with the prisoner they had saved, and the remains of Thraxis for whom they had arrived too late.
The ship set sail, arriving in Regalport without incident. The notes tattooed on Thraxis’ body pointed once again to Tehaz Sinara, but gave only cryptic clues as to the landmarks that could be used to navigate safely to its shores. A rare chart would be required to make sense of this, and as the party sought clues as to where such a chart could be found, the results of their enquiries all pointed to the Prince. Their next task: to impress, amuse, or intrigue the bored pirate enough that he might share this chart, and with it the secrets of the accursed isle and surrounding seas.