Icehammer Dwarves: Session 3

As Berreck regained consciousness, Don-Jon hollered from across the field as he approached, finishing off an orc that was getting up. Once Berreck was back on his feet, he retrieved his two javelins, and we began searching the bodies of the orcs, finding a handful of copper pieces and a few silver. 

After a short discussion, we decided to start making our way around the temple grounds, peering at the eroding outside structure of the shrine and the remains of the other three towers. After peering through small cracks on the outside of the shrine and finding an old worn-out iron bell inside the rubble of one of the towers, we decided to enter the shrine.
Inside, we saw rows of crumbling pillars supporting the 40-foot-high vaulted ceiling of the hall. Humanoid bones littered the dusty floor, and a 10-foot-square hole in the ceiling led to the belfry. After searching the room and finding no secret doors or treasures, we decided to explore the eastern door. Within that room, we could see nothing but the littered remains of what once was wooden furniture and a fireplace built into the far wall. As I searched for secret doors in the room, Berreck searched the fireplace; both of us found nothing unusual about the room. 

After agreeing that there was nothing of value worth scavenging, we decided to go back to the main chamber and try our luck in the western door. Upon entering, we could see six beds with moldy mattresses, the shattered remains of wooden furniture, and a soot-stained fireplace containing a rusty cauldron hanging from a spit. We also noticed a narrow break in the north wall providing us an alternative exit. Once again I searched the room as Berreck searched the fireplace, finding nothing. 

A bit disappointed, we went through the final door in the south wall. Upon entry, we saw six stone pillars bracing the vaulted ceiling of this temple, the floor of which was buried under a thick layer of dust. Also covered in dust were four humanoid skeletons in tattered priestly vestments, lying near a stone altar situated in an alcove under four narrow windows. Carved into the front of the altar was a humanoid eye. Berreck immediately began searching the corpses, but came up empty. Realizing the altar had a stone roller built into it holding it slightly off the ground, Berreck then attempted to push it. I watched as Berreck jolted upright as soon as he touched the altar and fell to the ground, seemingly unconscious. Careful not to touch the altar, I rushed over to Berreck’s body and cast spare the dying. Berreck’s eyes immediately opened up as he pushed himself up. He promptly insisted that we leave the shrine, in a slightly panicked tone. Seeing Berreck in this frantic state, we rush out of the temple grounds, withholding my questions. With no real place to hide in the open valley surrounding the temple, after a brief discussion, we decided to make our way to Conyberry.

On our way, Berreck began to explain why he was so frantic and prompt in leaving the shrine. He described how after touching the altar, he seemed to float out of his body, up into the air and zip toward a stone fortress situated atop the icy spur of a jagged, snow-covered mountain of Icespire Peak. The mountain overshadowed the fortress, which consisted of two separate structures joined together by a stone bridge. Berreck claimed to have seen the dragon sleeping on the fortress, waking once he approached. Just as it was about to attack with a breath of ice, Berreck zipped across the sky, back into his body and woke up. Uncertain whether or not the dragon could tell that we were in the shrine, Berreck thought it was best if we left, explaining why he was so insistent that we rushed out. Unable to explain Berreck’s out-of-body experience, we decided to drop the subject.
Eventually, we reached Conyberry; Berreck and Don-Jon were especially exhausted from the long journey of the day. Upon entering the town, it was immediately obvious that it had long been abandoned. Nonetheless, we were able to find some decent shelter in an abandoned building to get a good night’s rest.

* * *

We woke the next morning, after our long uninterrupted night. Looking at the town in the light of day, we were able to see that the Triboar Trail ran right through this abandoned town, which I could only infer was sacked years ago. I heard the whistling of the wind as it blew through the settlement's burned and crumbled-down structures. 

After recalling that one of the quests was to help out the Butterskull Ranch located 5 miles east of Conyberry, we decided to make our way there. As we were passing through the village, Berreck pointed out a horse grazing next to an old well without a rider, reins, or saddle. After closer inspection, it was clear that there were three unsaddled horses, and after a bit of trouble, we were able to get a hold of them. Using our rope as reins, we were able to lead them with us, hoping we could find saddles.

After traveling most of the distance to the Butterskull Ranch uneventfully, Berreck pointed to the north claiming that he heard the ringing of a bell. Shortly after, a cow with a bell around its neck appeared on the horizon, indicating that we had made it to the ranch. As we approached, we could see that it was a large plot of land on the north side of the Triboar Trail, nestled between two hills with cornfields, an apple orchard, gardens, and pasture land. While walking on the path that ran straight through the property, we could see that the path broke off from the trail to lead to a two-story farmhouse next to a pond. West of the farmhouse, we also saw the charred remains of a barn and smithy that had been burned to the ground.
As we came closer to the intersection where the path broke, we saw that there was an orc in the pond. Don-Jon led the three horses behind the corner of a broken stone fence and hid as Berreck and I started sneaking up on the orc. As we were sneaking, Berreck noticed there was another orc in the fields sneaking up on Don-Jon, so we ran to Don-Jon’s side and attacked the orc. After a few exchanged blows, Berreck and I were able to kill both orcs. With no other orcs in the area, we began searching the bodies and found a few copper pieces.

We decided it was best if we left Don-Jon and the horses behind the stone fence as we started making our way to the farmhouse. On our way there, we saw a few pigs wander the fields and between the farmhouse and the gutted barn were the scattered corpses of two orcs and five humans, which appeared to be ranch hands, swarming with flies.

Once we reached the farmhouse, we could see that it was a log building with a pitched, shingled roof and a stone chimney. Observing that the windows’ wooden shutters were open, Berreck lifted me up so I could take a look inside. I saw one orc in a room talking to what was probably another orc that was out of my sight. Relaying this information to Berreck, we quietly circled around the house to the front door. As we were making our way around, an orc appeared from a small outhouse to the east. We quickly hid behind a well, situated next to the house. As soon as the orc came up to the well, we jumped out and Berreck was able to quietly kill the orc with one swift strike.

After checking the body and finding a few more copper pieces, we made our way inside the farmhouse. We quietly entered the house and attacked the two orcs that I had seen earlier through the window. After a quick exchange of blows, we defeated both orcs and found a few more copper pieces on their body.

We explored the rest of the first floor uneventfully, finding nothing of value except for a glass orb filled with moving smoke, which Berreck put in his bag. As we made our way to the second floor we encountered two more orcs, which we were swiftly able to kill without too much trouble. After taking a handful more copper pieces off the bodies of the orcs, we began to search the second floor. We found a bag of coins filled with a handful of gold, silver, and copper coins. Berreck also took playing cards for three dragon ante and I took a silver badge in the shape of a five-pointed star which we assumed belonged to Alfonse Kalazorn, the owner of the ranch.

After clearing both floors, we decided to explore the cellar doors at the front of the house. As we entered the cellar, we were met with a large orc who referred to himself as Big Durgat. Berreck and the orc exchanged remarks before we plunged into combat. After Berreck took a few hard hits, we were able to take the orc down. Now that we had the time to look around, we could see that the cellar had a dirt floor, walls of mortared stone, and an eight-foot-high plank ceiling braced by wooden pillars. We could see skulls of butter protected by a thin coat of wax-lined on shelves along the walls and a humanoid figure with a burlap sack pulled over his head tied to a chair.

After removing the burlap sack and untying him from the chair, the man introduced himself as Big Alfonse Kalazorn. After he thanked us for saving him, we gave back all the items we had scavenged in his house (the smoke orb, the playing cards, and the sack of gold). However, he insisted that I could hang on to his sheriff badge to let us know we were always welcome back to his ranch. Once we moved out of the cellar, Don-Jon came out with the horses, which, after finding out they belonged to Alfonse, we promptly gave back. We also retrieved the cow we had spotted earlier, which we learned was his prized Petunia, the source of milk that Alfonse needs to make his famous butter. To reward us for our efforts, Alfonse gifted us two of his butter skulls and a piece of mithril chainmail armor which I gladly accepted and put on.

After taking a short rest in the farmhouse to tend to our wounds and having a short conversation with Alfonse Berreck, we set off on our way back to the temple we had explored the day before.

Eventually, after a few hours of traveling, we arrived at the temple uneventfully. Upon arrival, we decided that we should check out the belltower at the top of the temple before messing with the altar again. With no rope hanging from the bell and no means of getting on the roof, we stacked some of the beds, and eventually, I was able to help push Berreck onto the roof. 

A short while passed before Berreck hopped back down off the roof, relaying that there was nothing unusual on the roof or the bell tower except that the bell seemed relatively new and much smaller than the old iron bell we had found earlier amongst the rubble. 

After agreeing that we have explored the rest of the temple grounds, we decided to go back to the altar. Using his greataxe, Berreck carefully pushed the altar backward. As it smoothly rolled against the back wall, it revealed a small wooden coffer that was hidden under the altar. After checking for traps, I found a copper looking plate beneath the coffer. Unsure how to disarm it if it were a trap, I backed up with Don-Jon to the other side of the room while Berreck picked up the coffer. Fortunately, the plate was not trapped and was just a wooden board painted copper. Opening the coffer, Berreck found 59 gold coins and a mystery key.

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