Icehammer Dwarves: Session 7

Icehammer dwarves fight off ankhegs at the Logger's Camp
We departed Axeholm, leaving the portcullis closed behind us, and traveled back to Phandalin.

After an uneventful day of travel, we finally arrived in Phandalin in the early evening. We visited the Lionshield Coster, but did not buy anything, and then went to see if the Miner's Exchange was open. It was, and we were able to meet with the proprietor, Halia Thornton. She said she would give us ten gold coins for each of our ten chunks of ore, which we agreed to.
Return to Phandalin
After completing our errands, we went to the inn. Adabra called us over, and we sat with her. We made a bit of small talk and then showed her a couple of the things we had acquired. She said that the opaque red liquid was, in fact, just ink, but that the more sparkly red liquid was a potion of supreme healing. She also said that Berreck’s ring looked like a ring of protection, that the beaded fox skull looked to be purely ornamental, and that she could not identify any clues as to what the mystery key was for.

We also asked her if she thought the recipe we had found looked like a potion recipe. She said it did not, but that it looked like some type of food recipe. We asked Toblen if he knew what it was, and he said it looked like a recipe for macaroons.

We went to the Townmaster’s Hall to collect our reward. We talked Harbin through how to get into Axeholm, and how someone had to enter through the chimney and open the portcullis for everyone else.

We collected our reward for Axeholm and decided to do both of the listed quests in one trip. They were delivering supplies to a logging camp and helping Falcon’s hunting lodge with an orc problem.

We rested at the inn and headed to Barthen’s Provisions early the next morning. We explained that we were delivering the supplies to the logging camp. Barthen told us that his clerks had filled two crates with supplies and handed us a sheet of parchment, upon which was written an inventory of the crates' contents: mostly food and ale. The two heavy crates were loaded onto a two-wheeled cart pulled by an ox. He told us that the ox’s name was Vincent and that he expected to get him again. He also suggested that we bring a bottle of wine if we were going to see Falcon, and sold us a bottle of wine.

We set out, going north. That afternoon, we entered Neverwinter Wood, and I caught a glimpse of a couple of pink animals running ahead of us. We chased them and wound up in a clearing, where we saw a boar. We slowly walked backwards, and then circled around the clearing. I recognized that the animals were pigs, and managed to identify brands on them that read “BAK,” meaning they probably belonged to Big Al. I decided not to do anything about it.

We rested for the night in the woods. I awoke in the morning to Berreck alerting me to how there was a living tree looking down at us. I looked up and there was a tree that was slightly bent over us and looked like it had a face on it. However, it didn’t look too unnatural, and it wasn’t moving or making noise, so I dismissed it, although Berreck still seemed a bit shaken up.

We continued north and eventually arrived at a camp spread along the south shore of the river, where a dozen tents were arranged on a sandy beach. Near a dock stood a cabin with logs stacked under an awning. Older cabins close by had been torn down to leave only stone chimneys and foundations. A grim silence hung over the camp, and we saw no one around.

We tied Vincent to a tree, along with the supplies, and decided to explore the southeast campsite first. As we crept up on it, it seemed mostly empty.

I barely had time to jump out of the way as a creature burst out of the ground where I had been standing! It seemed to be a giant praying mantis, much bigger than Berreck or I. Berreck was quick to attack it. I also was able to attack, but then another mantis burst up a dozen feet away. Even though one knocked me prone, we managed to kill both mantes, along with another one.

After we had killed them, we searched the rest of the campsite, but found nothing of significance. We moved on to the second camp, this one on the northeast, but it was totally deserted, not even having any hidden giant bugs. Footprints and strange marks in the sand suggested several humanoids were attacked here and dragged away.

Next, we went to investigate the large building. We cautiously entered and started to search the room, but another of the creatures erupted from the floor and we had to fight it.

When we had finally killed it, we finished investigating the room, finding nothing of interest. We opened the door, which Berreck had to push a little harder than normal to do, and saw a man curled up on his desk, which had been pushed against the door, cowering in fear.

We calmed him down and told him that we thought we had cleared the camp of the monsters. He introduced himself as Tibor Wester, the half-brother of Harbin, and we explained that we had come to deliver supplies to the camp.

We went back outside and stomped around for a while to make sure there weren’t any more of the bugs. After no more appeared, we searched the ruins throughout the camp. In the center of the campsite, all that remained of the cabin was a ruined fireplace whose chimney had mostly collapsed. Searching the fireplace, Berreck found a totem buried in its debris: thirteen tiny, androgynous stick figures dipped in pig's blood, inscribed with tiny lightning bolt symbols, and tied together in a bundle with hair.

We could not tell what the figurines were, so we went back inside and asked Tibor about them. He didn’t seem to know anything about them either. We gave him the supplies and, as it was late, rested in the main room of the large house, while Tibor rested in his office.

Feeling rested, we set off east along the river to Falcon’s Hunting Lodge and arrived around supper time.

A thin fog surrounded a fortified compound standing in a clearing on the east side of a narrow river. A ten-foot-high log palisade surrounded the compound, whose main building was a two-story stone-and-wood affair with a high-pitched roof, gables, window shutters, and a stone chimney. Attached to the main building was a blocky tower of gray stone, its high roof lined with battlements. Other structures included a two-story stable house and a gatehouse whose flat roof was enclosed by iron railings. A stone bridge spanned the river, ending before an oaken door set into the gatehouse's outer wall. Mounted next to the door was a bell with a short rope hanging from its clapper.

We knocked and were soon let in by an older halfling woman, who introduced herself as Qelline. She led us inside and had a young halfling boy named Carp, presumably her son, take Vincent to the stables. She had us wait a bit in a bunk room.

Falcon the Hunter
After we put down our heavy packs, Qelline led us to the main building. Inside was an oak dining table surrounded by tall black chairs and two iron chandeliers hanging above. We were led up to the second floor, where presented on the wall were trophies in the form of orc and half-orc heads. There we met a tall man who introduced himself as Falcon.

After giving him the bottle of wine we had purchased, he led us to his dining table where we ate as he described his predicament. He described how there have been more and more orcs and half-orcs in the woods and that they seemed to be dwelling in a ruined stone manse overgrown by vines, roughly ten miles east of the lodge. He also warned us to look out for little stick creatures, who we recognized from the description as twig blights.
Falcon's Hunting Lodge
After we finished our meals and exchanged adventuring stories, Falcon offered to let us sleep in his guest room, which he normally reserved for visiting nobles. There we rested for the night.

The next morning, Falcon gave us boots of elvenkind, suggesting we may need to be stealthy on our mission. I gladly accepted the boots, and we set off on our journey to the manse, leaving Vincent at the lodge. On our way there we encountered a group of four orcs and one half-orc herding two wild boar. We were able to sneak up on them and catch them by surprise. Despite the two twig blights that seemed to appear out of nowhere during the fray, Berreck was easily able to cleave through all of them as I assisted with my spells from a distance. On the bodies, we found a few coins and clawed gloves, the latter of which Berreck put on. The half-orc also had a symbol on his forehead, three lightning bolts that were joined at the tip.

Following a trail through the woods, we came to a foggy clearing, in the midst of which stood a crumbling two-story manse, all but hidden beneath thorny ivy. The large house was set atop a six-foot-high stone foundation, and the main entrance had a balcony above it. We saw pumpkins growing wild in patches around the manse, with several wild boar feeding among them. The boars snorted with contempt as we drew near.

We decided to stealthily back up into the woods and take a short rest while we planned our next course of action. We ended up scouting around the building for other possible entrances beside the double doors at the front. We stealthily approached a side entrance on the north side of the building.
Icehammer Dwarves enter the Woodland Manse
As we drew closer we could see that the door had been smashed down into pieces. As we stepped through the doorway, we found ourselves in what looked to be a kitchen. There was a door to the east with small holes in the bottom of it; however, I was unable to tell what caused them. We decided that we should clear the whole house of any danger before searching the rooms, so we stealthily made our way through the other door in the south. As we entered the room, we saw that the walls were covered with crude drawings in blood that depicted boars chasing stick-figure humanoids. A fireplace dominated the south side of the room, and a smashed wooden dining table lay in a heap in the eastern half of the room, surrounded by six broken chairs. We also saw two small twig figures, like the ones Berreck found at the camp, resting on the mantelpiece. In addition, we noticed there was a small door next to the broken down door on the west wall of the room. Stealthily moving through the broken-down door, we found ourselves at the double doors marking the front entrance. In front of the door was a stairwell leading to the second floor. Taking a closer look, I saw the stairs looked very unstable and stopped Berreck right before he was about to ascend the stairs. Going back to the previous room we looked through the small door and found spikes under the stairs.

We decided to explore the door on the south side of the room. Outside the door were stone steps that led down to a flagstone courtyard that had a row of pillars to the east and in the middle was a five-foot-wide stone well with thick vines erupting from inside. The deep well contained a tree of sorts; a malformed column of twisted wood with narrow gaps between its curling branches. Guttural snorts and yells erupted from the southeast corner of the manse which I interpreted as strategic discussion in orc. Upon noticing the seven windows looking down on the courtyard, we immediately jumped back into the room in order to stay undetected.

We finished exploring the north side of the first floor finding nothing else except rubble and collapsed rooms. With nowhere else to go we stealthily made our way across the courtyard and entered what looked to be a laboratory; however, it laid in ruins. Its furnishings were broken and heaped against the walls. In the middle of the room, painted on the floor with mud, was a ten-foot-wide symbol depicting three lightning bolts joined at their tips. Where the lightning bolts converged, a half-orc wearing hide armor performed an eerie dance while consuming the entrails of a dead possum. Standing around the half-orc were several small twig figures.

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