Icewind Dale 27-31: The Duergar Outpost

Erling lit a torch and threw it into the dark hall above the well, communicating with the rest of us telepathically.

Blaze cast shield of faith and climbed to the top of the well.

Mendel’s bat flew up to the ceiling to scout the area.

One of the duergar released a malodorous ogre with rotting, half-frozen skin and an empty right eye socket from one of the cages, and a couple of zombies from another cage.

I followed Blaze up the ladder and cast dancing lights inside the duergar hall.

Bran gave me his bardic inspiration.

Mendel cast misty step, and appeared prone at the top of the well.

One of the duergar began screaming and running out of the room.

The ogre zombie slammed Oosi hard, and Oosi slammed it right back with his warhammer.

One of the zombies slammed Blaze.

Erling aimed his crossbow and struck one of the zombies, spilling unused internal organs to the floor.

Blaze climbed out the well and held his symbol of Lathander out, turning undead, sending the zombie and zombie ogre fleeing down the hall. Then he cast spiritual weapon, and hit the remaining zombie, only to get slammed by it in turn.

I climbed out of the well and struck one of the duergar in the chest using slayer’s prey.

Bran climbed out of the well and cast healing word on Oosi.

Mendel cast toll the dead, but it had no effect.

Erling aimed his crossbow and finished the duergar I had hit.

Blaze hit a duergar with his spiritual weapon and mace.

Bran slashed the remaining zombie with his flaming sword, cutting off its head. Then he yelled, “will you aid us in our battle?” to a pair of nervous goats in the third cage, before advancing to Oosi’s side.

Mendel hit the duergar with three magic missiles.

Oosi hit the duergar with his warhammer.

Two giant spiders emerged from a door to the south, and climbed up the wall.

“The giant spiders have duergar riding on them!” Mendel squealed.

“Uh, guys,” Erling called, “there’s a mechanical guy coming from behind! What the hell is this?”

From a door to the north emerged a duergar fused to some bizarre armor, screaming in agony, its arms and legs wheezing mechanically as it moved toward Erling.

Erling reached into his bag of tricks, pulling out a dire wolf, and yelled, “Sick him, boy, sick him!” as he withdrew and began climbing up one of the cages.

“There’s two more duergar coming!” Mendel warned, having been warned by his bat. “And more spiders coming from that way. They also have duergar on them.”

Two spider-riding duergar hit Oosi with their war picks.

I cast faerie fire, illuminating one duergar who was already visible.

Bran inspired Oosi, and slashed the duergar with his flaming sword.

Erling’s dire wolf tore into the mechanical duergar, and knocked it prone, but it quickly rose and clawed the wolf with one mechanical hand and hammered it with the other.

Mendel cast web over three spiders and their riders, restraining all but one spider and its rider.

The free spider-riding duergar hit Oosi with its war pick.

One of the restrained spiders broke free of the webs, along with its rider, and bit Bran.

Erling hid on top of one of the cages.

Blaze hit the mechanical duergar with his spiritual weapon.

“There’s a large duergar right there!” Mendel warned us, pointing toward the dire wolf. “And there’s another invisible one behind it! And there’s two more invisible ones on the drawbridge!”

Bran cast thunderwave, killing one injured duergar and blasting a spider and its rider and an invisible duergar. Then he inspired Blaze.

The dire wolf tore into the mechanical duergar’s throat, knocking it prone.

Mendel pulled out his wand and hit the mechanical duergar with three magic missiles, putting an end to its screams.

Oosi smashed into one of the spider riding duergar, sending it reeling with a dented helmet. Its spider bit into Oosi.

Blaze held his symbol out and summoned the radiance of the dawn, radiating four spiders and five duergar. Then he hit a duergar with his spiritual weapon, and was hit in return with its war pick.

Bran cast thunderwave again, killing a duergar and blasting another, along with one spider.

At Erling’s command, the dire wolf tore into a duergar, knocking it prone.

Mendel cast mirror image, creauting three illusory duplicates of himself.

Five fungus covered people staggered in through the southern door.

A spider bit Oosi as he was maneuvering, and another bit Bran.

Erling quaffed a potion and fled across the ceiling to evade an approaching spider, but was hit with another rider’s war pick as he fled.

Blaze killed the prone duergar with his spiritual weapon and cast cure wounds on himself.

An enlarged duergar smashed Oosi with its warhammer.

I moved my slayer’s prey to a spider, and killed it with a well-placed arrow.

Bran cast healing word on Oosi and slashed a duergar with his sword.

Three fungus people swarmed Oosi, stabbing him with their spears.

The dire wolf tore at a giant spider as it leaped away and onto Mendel, biting the mage in the neck.

Mendel cautiously slid away down the ladder, into the well.

Oosi hit one of the duergar with his warhammer.

Blaze hit a spider with his spiritual weapon, and then killed it with a scorching ray while wounding another spider with another ray.

Smashed by a duergar’s war pick, I targeted it with my slayer’s prey, and finished it.

Bran cast healing word on Oosi and slashed a duergar with his flaming sword.

Two of the fungus people pulled themselves through the webs, while three others were restrained. One of them stabbed Erling with its spear.

Peeking over the well wall, Mendel dropped a duergar with three magic missiles.

Oosi charged forward, getting nicked by two duergar war picks in the process, and threw his javelin of lightning, killing two fungus zombies and blasting two duergar with lightning.

Scampering across the ceiling, Erling hit a duergar with a crossbow bolt.

Blaze cast cure wounds on Oosi and hit a duergar with his spiritual weapon.

A duergar slammed Bran with its warhammer, dropping the bard.

I targeted a spider with hunter’s mark and finished it with an arrow between its many eyes.

The dire wolf tore a duergar’s throat out.

Mendel hit a spider with toll the dead.

A robed duergar appeared from the south and tried to command Oosi, but Oosi threw his handaxe toward it, missing.

Blaze revived Bran with cure wounds.

Aiming my hunter’s mark, I dropped a duergar as my dancing lights disappeared.

Bran cast heroism on Oosi.

Two spore zombies and two giant spiders broke free of the webs. Another spore zombie stabbed me with its spear.

Mendel hit a spider with three magic missiles from his wand.

The robed duergar stabbed Erling with a dagger that caused a sharp stabbing in the halfling’s mind, dropping him.

Blaze hit a spider with his mace.

Careful to avoid my attackers, I ran to Erling and withdrew a potion.

Withdrawing, Bran cast healing word on himself.

Mendel killed a spider with a magic missile and hit a spore zombie with two others.

The robed duergar spoke to me in Undercommon, “Begone from here, and we’ll let you live!

How many more of you are there?” I asked, and it responded by stabbing Oosi in the neck with its dagger.

Leave, or I kill him!” the robed duergar demanded.

“Perhaps we should leave,” I suggested, in Common. “He’s giving us a chance to retreat. I think we should take it.”

We lowered our weapons, and I replied in Undercommon, “I will gather my companions.

“Go out the door,” the robed duergar demanded. “It’s open!”

I picked up Erling and brought him to Blaze, who revived him with cure wounds.

Mendel retrieved the rope and grappling hook and followed his companions out of the fortress.

As we were leaving, I asked the robed duergar, “What is your name?

Thradraek Othersight,” the robed duergar answered.

I thank you for your mercy, Thradraek Othersight,” I replied.

Honor in battle is all,” the robed duergar replied. “Now go!

Entering the frosty valley, we heard the large double doors of the duergar outpost being barred behind us.

We noted that the outpost’s barred windows and arrow slits were on the ground level, the former being six inches apart. There was still at least one duergar guard watching us from the bunker.

Defeated by the duergar, we returned to our campsite to rest.

Mendel indicated he thought we could have finished the duergar based on how many we had already killed, but the general consensus was that we had no choice but to retreat.

We made it to our camp without incident and had an uneventful rest under a full moon.

We spent at least an hour discussing how to deal with the duergar outpost, including ambushing anyone who arrives or leaves, picking off the duergar at range, trying the frozen stream again, Mendel could misty step inside or Erling could enter through and arrow slit and let us in, stowing away in any cart used to transport chardalyn out, goading their leader into a one on one combat, using something from Erling’s bag of tracks and/or a minor illusion as a distraction, infiltrating through the bunker, a full frontal assault, or hit and run guerilla tactics. I offered to use pass without trace to hide us.

While we were strategizing, I noticed that Oosi’s armor had begun to glow. “Oosi, your armor is glowing. What does that signify?”

“Uh, there’s a dragon nearby?” Oosi wondered. “I didn’t think this crazy thing actually worked. I suggest we take cover, quick!”

“Do you know how close the dragon is, Oosi?” I asked.

“I don’t,” Oosi replied. “I only know that it glows when it’s nearby.” Then he realized that the dragon must be within 120 feet.

We all ducked for cover in the nearby snow and rocks.

Mendel cast minor illusion of a snow drift in front of him.

Glancing up, we saw a very large white dragon flying low. It did not seem to have noticed us, and was not coming in our direction.

Using my eyes of the eagle, I saw that it bore a black robed rider using chains for its saddle and reins.

“There is a rider on that dragon,” I whispered, “robed in black.”

The dragon was flying west and was soon out of sight.

We returned to the duergar outpost, hiding just beyond sight of the bunker.

Mendel sent his bat to fly up and over the valley, and then back down and into the tunnel beyond the culvert.

“It seems that the tunnel goes on for at least a hundred feet,” Mendel informed us, once his bat returned to the vicinity, “but the well is blocked at the top by wood. Anybody have any idea how we can get past whatever’s blocking the well? Maybe a thunderwave...”

We eventually agreed to assault the bunker first.

As we were preparing to approach the outpost, Oosi covered his face in war paint, while Blaze knelt down in prayer, “Lathander, light our way in this new endeavor in assaulting this evil duergar palace.”

Everyone gathered close to me as I cast pass without trace.

As soon as we approached, Blaze and I noticed a trail of tiny fresh footprints not far from where we had been huddling to strategize.

I raised a hand to halt our progression and pointed out the tracks. “It appears that we’ve been spied upon.” Using my eyes of the eagle, I saw the tracks continue toward the entrance to the outpost, around the bunker and out of my sight.

Mendel sent his bat to scout ahead, but it did not spot anyone between us and the outpost.

We continued to advance toward the bunker and Mendel’s bat confirmed that there was one duergar guarding the bunker.

Once we reached the bunker, Bran cast minor illusion of a picture of the view outside the bunker’s nearest arrow slit.

I circled around the bunker, targeting the duergar with slayer’s prey, and missed the surprised guard twice.

Bran cast blindness on the duergar, but it had no effect.

Mendel circled around the bunker, hit the duergar with three magic missiles, and crouched against the wall.

The duergar opened a trap door in the floor of the bunker and disappeared into it, closing the door behind him.

Erling squeezed into the bunker’s arrow slit and jammed his crowbar into the trap door.

Three crossbow bolts came from the various outpost windows.

Oosi was ready with his longbow and returned a shot through a window to the north.

I threw some pitons and a hammer to Erling and continued circling around the bunker.

Bran followed Oosi to the outpost and cast blade ward.

Mendel cast minor illusion of a loaded crossbow aimed at the outpost from the bunker, which was immediately shot at twice. A third shot took out Mendel’s bat, eliciting a curse of, “Oh, darn!” from Mendel as a fourth bolt whizzed by him.

A fifth bolt missed me.

In a rage, Oosi charged toward the barred windows to the north, shooting his bow.

Erling secured the trap door with the pitons.

I aimed at the windows to the west and waited for a duergar to appear.

Bran inspired Oosi as he followed the barbarian.

Mendel cast minor illusion of a large shield in front of me.

Alarm bells rang out from the outpost.

As two duergar appeared in the window, I hit one, and the other hit Oosi. More crossbow bolts came from the arrow slits by the double doors.

Mendel cast shield as a robed duergar appeared next to him, and tried to stab him with its dagger. “There out here!” Mendel squealed.

Blaze cast fireball into the barred window to the north.

Oosi reached the nearest barred window, ripped two bars out of the wall, and leaped through the window, drawing his axe.

Erling climbed out of the bunker and shot the robed duergar with his crossbow before ducking back around the corner.

I almost killed a duergar in the window to the north.

Bran followed Oosi through the broken barred window and flanked a duergar within.

Moving cautiously, Mendel cast expeditious retreat, and ran past Erling and me, as we were both hit by crossbow bolts.

Blaze climbed into the outpost, joining Oosi and Bran.

Oosi picked up a makeshift club and smashed the nearest duergar to death.

Erling ran into the bunker and hid.

As soon as I started to run toward the breach, I was stabbed by a robed duergar that appeared right behind me. I spun around and shot at it with slayer’s prey, but missed. “He’s right over there!” I pointed out.

“Oosi, watch the door,” Bran shouted, as he ran down a set of stairs. “Blaze, help him. I want to make sure we don’t get circled from around behind.” At the bottom of the stairs, he saw piles of equipment pushed against the wall of the room. In the southern end of the chamber, was a trap door in the floor. As he was aiming his bow at the trap door, he was smashed by a war pick from an enlarged duergar that appeared next to him. “We’ve got a big boy here!” the bard yelled.

Mendel climbed in through the breach and dashed down the stairs.

I was hit by a crossbow bolt, but missed by two others.

The door burst open and two spore zombies shambled in, along with another zombie, an ogre zombie, and some duergar.

Blaze hit one of the spore zombies with his spiritual weapon and then with his mace.

A duergar threw its javelin, hitting Oosi before retreating back into the hallway.

Oosi ripped the javelin out of his chest and donned his shield, advancing on the door.

Erling removed the pitons from the door, but it was bolted shut from the inside, so he tried to hide again.

I dashed up to the breach and climbed through, marking an ogre zombie with slayer’s prey.

Bran drew his flaming sword to defend himself, but was smashed again.

Mendel drew his wand and hit Bran’s attacker with three magic missiles.

I was hit by a crossbow bolt from outside the window.

Blaze hit the ogre zombie with his spiritual weapon just as it had smashed Oosi. Then he pulled out his symbol to Lathander and turned undead. “Don’t hit it!” Blaze shouted, as the ogre zombie began to cower.

Oosi stabbed a spore zombie with his javelin.

I heard a high pitched whistle emanating from across the outpost. “Do you hear that?” I shouted. “It’s some sort of alarm.” Then I added, “And I’m really hurt.”

Transferring my slayer’s prey, I killed the duergar at the bottom of the stairs with an arrow in the neck, and dropped one of the spore zombies with a second arrow as I ran into the corner across the outpost.

Bran retrieved his bow and cast healing word on me, and blade ward.

“There’s a trap door down here,” Mendel yelled, dashing through a downstairs armory. “It probably leads to the bunker.”

As the ogre zombie turned to flee, Oosi stabbed it with his javelin. It turned and flailed at Oosi as Blaze smashed it with his spiritual weapon and hit it with a sacred flame, and Oosi smashed it with his warhammer.

Erling took out his thieves’ tools and began working the trap door, but hid again when he couldn’t budge the bolt.

I targeted the ogre zombie with slayer’s prey and stuck two arrows into its chest.

Bran slashed the ogre zombie with his flaming sword, and cast another healing word on me.

“Frizzt, I’m going to try and help Erling,” Mendel shouted and dashed down the trap door. “Frizzt it’s dark down there,” Mendel called, lighting his bullseye lantern, before yelling, “Erling! Are you there?”

I was stabbed twice by a robed duergar that appeared next to me. The blade caused a sharp pain in my mind that overwhelmed my senses as I fell.

Thradraek Othersight and another robed duergar appeared next to Oosi, the first missing with his dagger, but Thradraek stabbed him twice, piercing his mind with pain.

Blaze cast cure wounds on Oosi, and hit the ogre zombie with his spiritual weapon.

Oosi knocked the Thradraek Othersight’s dagger from its hand, dropped his warhammer, and picked up the dagger.

Erling climbed out through the bunker’s arrow slit and dashed toward the breach.

Bran revived me with healing word as the robed duergar was preparing to stab me again. Then he turned and slashed the Ogre zombie.

Mendel dashed to the end of the tunnel, climbed the ladder, and unlatched the bolt, calling out, “Erling? Erling, are you there?”

An enlarged duergar appeared and threw a javelin toward Oosi.

Thradraek Othersight tried to command Oosi, but shrunk down to six inches tall when the barbarian shrugged it off.

Before I could move, the robed duergar stabbed me again, overwhelming my senses once again with the pain in my mind, and then it also tried to command Oosi.

Oosi shrugged off the attempt again, but was stomped on by the ogre.

Blaze finished the ogre zombie with his spiritual weapon, and cast spirit guardians, calling forth floating balls of light to flit around him.

Oosi stabbed the duergar with Thradraek Othersight’s dagger, but it did not appear to affect its mind.

Erling climbed through the breach into the outpost and hit my attacker with a crossbow bolt before taking cover.

Bran revived me again with healing word as the robed duergar was preparing to stab me again. Then he turned and slashed a duergar with his flaming sword.

Mendel opened the trap door in the bunker, looked around for Erling, and not finding anyone, dashed back down into the tunnel.

An enlarged duergar smashed Oosi with its war pick, and a robed duergar stabbed him twice with his dagger, piercing his mind as well. Oosi began to fall, but endured the pain.

The shrunken Thradraek Othersight fled down the corridor.

Blaze cast cure wounds on Oosi and slammed a robed duergar with his spiritual weapon.

Erling popped out of the shadows and shot his crossbow at my attacker, but missed.

A sound of mechanical clanking could be heard from the west., followed by a loud thud.

The burly duergar hit Blaze with a crossbow bolt, causing the lights flitting around the cleric to disappear.

I created a fog cloud around me and crawled away from the robed duergar standing over me.

Bran ran through a nearby duergar and cast healing word on Oosi.

Mendel dashed to the top of the stairs and into the armory, aiming his wand at the cloud of fog.

Two robed duergar commanded Oosi, one of them compelling him to attack Blaze. Oosi reluctantly nicked Blaze with his hand axe.

Blaze hit the robed duergar with his spiritual weapon and then with a guiding bolt.

An even burlier duergar threw a javelin from the corridor and stabbed Oosi.

Oosi dropped his dagger, picked up the javelin, and threw it into the glowing duergar.

Erling popped out of the shadows and hit the burly duergar with a crossbow bolt.

The burly duergar turned to the burlier one and said, “Brother, this place is lost.” It pulled out a scroll, grabbed its brother’s shirt, and they both vanished.

We heard the front doors open and, dismissing the fog and looking out of the barred opening, I saw a pack of gnolls run out and down the trail away from the outpost.

I cast spike growth in the gnolls path, and up from the ground sprung spikes of hard icy thorns. Then I targeted the shrunken duergar with slayer’s prey.

Bran cast healing word on Oosi.

With the fog gone, Mendel ran up the stairs and hit Thradraek Othersight with four magic missiles just before it disappeared.

“Take your people and leave this place,” Oosi shouted, “and we’ll let you go.”

“Fine, we’ll go!” replied a duergar as they all began to flee down the corridor.

Blaze cast cure wounds on me.

“Then begone with you!” Oosi confirmed.

Oosi stood by the door and watched the duergar retreat.

The fleeing gnolls ran into the spike growth. One of them, adorned with bones, waved its arms and the spike growth was dispelled.

“They have some shaman with them,” Mendel recognized. “They cast dispel magic.”

“Take no further action,” Oosi shouted as I targeted a duergar in the corridor. “I gave them leave from this place.”

I lowered my bow.

“That zombie’s going to turn hostile in a few moments,” Blaze said of the lone zombie still cowering in the corner.

“We should kill the zombie!” Oosi instructed.

Mendel dashed out into the corridor and into the main hall. He noticed large stone blocks over wooden planks covering the well.

A duergar glared at Mendel and fled out the double doors.

Oosi smashed the zombie with his warhammer, and Blaze followed up with his mace, but it was still standing and it turned to attack. Erling put it down with a crossbow bolt in the head.

“The last duergar have fled out the door,” Mendel informed us. “Should we search this place?”

“Yes, we should move to secure it and search it,” Oosi instructed.

“There’s two goats in the cages still,” Mendel added.

“They’ll make for a hardy dinner,” Oosi responded.

Oosi helped Mendel shut the door and close the drawbridge. I stood guard by the breach in the barred window.

Bran and Erling searched the three dead duergar, discovering scalemail, shields, war picks, javelins, daggers, leather armor, heavy crossbows, and some gold coins.

Before searching the rest of the outpost, we took a short rest in the large, nearly empty room with three barred openings overlooking the snow-covered grounds outside the stronghold. Snow had drifted into the corners, and frost covered the stone walls.

After Bran sang us a song of rest to help us recover, we discussed what to do with the outpost and agreed that it needed to be defended from being reinhabited by the duergar, but that we lacked the ability to defend it ourselves. I suggested enlisting the Battlehammer dwarves from the valley nearby. Erling suggested we contact the town speakers. Blaze offered to cast a sending spell.

When we were done resting we explored down the stairs to an armory and tinkerer’s workshop. Searching the room, we found two suits of scale mail sized for dwarves, two steel shields, three war picks, nine javelins, two climber's kits, and four mess kits. In the southern end of the chamber, an open hatch revealed a route leading underground to the bunker.

We returned to the entry hall, which was devoid of decoration. The frozen well was covered with stone blocks over wooden planks. Three iron cages were pushed against the far wall. One cage held a pair of nervous goats. Leaning against a wall near the cages was a wooden dogsled with ice clinging to it.

Beyond was a long empty room, divided in the middle by two open doorways. In the far southwest corner, an iron lever stuck out of the wall.

With Blaze’s guidance, Mendel investigated the area and spotted holes in the floor and ceiling of the doorways.

At Oosi’s urging, Mendel entered the room and pulled the lever. Iron spikes sprung out from the floor and ceiling to form barriers across each doorway, closing off the room.

Mendel reversed the lever and the spikes retracted.

Beyond the lever was a wooden door.

After listening at the door, and searching it for traps, we tried to enter, but it was locked. Erling picked the lock with ease and pushed the door open revealing a drab room occupied by a stone-carved bed and desk. Atop the desk were several shards of dark crystal, as well as a crumpled-up piece of paper and a burlap sack draped over a glowing object that emitted colored lights that shifted from blue to green to red.

Erling removed the burlap sack, revealing a chardalyn glowing lantern. We recognized the four shards as chardalyn as well.

Bran picked up the crumpled-up piece of paper from the desk and read the dwarven message aloud:

You will find me on the frozen ferry in Easthaven. From this new base, the search for chardalyn continues. Long may our father reign over this dark land!


Mendel examined the lantern and the rest of the chardalyn and determined that the chardalyn, despite its crystalline composition, was physically and magically malleable, making it an ideal raw material for those who can fashion items from the substance or infuse it with magic.

We also found some gold and silver coins, and a map of the region showing the location of Xardorok Sunblight's stronghold south of the Ten Towns.

We returned to the main hall and explored beyond the unlocked door to the south.

The chamber beyond appeared to be a cellblock lined with stone doors that had small, barred windows set into them at dwarf's-eye height. Snow and wind entered the room through a barred window in the northeast corner that looked out toward the snow-covered bunker that guarded the main entrance. Stairs led down from an opening in the west wall.

Examining the cells, we saw that some of them were filled with what looked like nests, while others contained fungus riddled corpses.

We went down the stairs and saw four small rooms flanking a central common area where crates and sacks were stashed against the west wall. The doors of the rooms were open, and each room was empty except for a tattered bedroll and a chair, except for one which appeared to have been used as a cooking area.

The crates and most of the sacks contained basic supplies, including blankets, rations, hempen rope, and other equipment. One small sack held the stolen valuables from Caer-Konig: twenty-five pearls carved into decorative beads. Another sack contained three daggers, a set of woodcarver's tools, a set of navigator's tools, fishing tackle, and a potion along with some silver coins.

We searched the walls for hidden doors, but found none.

We gathered everything we had found together and Mendel cast detect magic from his spellbook.

We determined that we had found a potion of healing, which we agreed to give to Mendel.

After we distributed the coins evenly amongst ourselves, Mendel, Bran, and Erling began to draft messages that Blaze could use for his sending spell. Blaze suggested we can identify ourselves as The Winds of Dawn.

Erling and I were going to go to the dwarven valley to seek help from Clan Battlehammer, but Bran decided to come with me instead.

Bran and I departed for the long march to the valley to the southwest. I continually scanned the horizon using my eyes of the eagle, but my vision was often obscured by blizzards.

After a couple of hours we spotted two figures 150 feet in the distance. Using my eyes of the eagle, I saw that they were both orcs marching southeast. One of them seemed to have seen us.

I tried to pull Bran down into the snow, but he resisted briefly, and his scale male was gleaming, even in the minimal light of the day.

“It’s two orcs,” I whispered. “They see us. Let’s let them pass.”

One of them pointed us out to the other and they started coming toward us. They looked bigger than average orcs.

Backing away, I drew my bow and hit the one that spotted us.

Trying to keep up with me, Bran gave me his bardic inspiration, and I hit it again with another arrow.

Both of us continued to withdraw as Bran gave me another bardic inspiration and I hit it with three more arrows.

Having missed the orcs three times, Bran dashed as fast as he could.

I continued to retreat and dropped the orc with a sixth arrow.

As Bran continued to dash away, I moved up slightly to target the remaining orc with slayer’s prey and hit the orc with an arrow.

The orc threw its javelin at Bran, but missed, as did I.

Still retreating, Bran cast hideous laughter, but it had no effect.

I targeted the orc with hunter’s mark and hit the orc with two more arrows.

The orc closed in on Bran and swung its great axe wide, but caught the bard on the backswing. Bran managed to parry the blow slightly with his bow, but it broke in the process.

Bran gave me another bardic inspiration.

The orc began hacking into Bran with its greataxe.

Trying to dodge its blows, Bran cast healing word on himself.

I hit the orc with a fourth arrow.

The orc roared as it heaved its greataxe down. Bran managed to avoid getting his head chopped in half, but was still sliced badly by the blow.

Trying desperately to hit the orc with his sword, Bran cast another healing word on himself.

I missed the orc as it hacked into Bran, leaving the bard bloody and still.

As the orc closed in on me, I dropped my bow, drew my sword, and stabbed the orc in the throat.

With both orcs down, I struggled to stabilize Bran, but eventually stopped his bleeding.

Searching the orcs, we found two potions of healing and a bunch of gold coins.

I revived Bran with one of the potions.

We decided to continue on without taking any of the orc’s armor or weapons.

Eventually we reached the dwarven valley, a mining colony of twenty five dwarves. They were led by Golirra Flintfoot, their foreman, who recognized Bran.

“Thank goodness we made it,” Bran greeted them. “We had a tough battle on the way here. Perhaps your healers can help us out.”

They had their medic attend to Bran with healing salves as he told them about the duergar stronghold. “We have urgent tidings to tell you. The duergar had set up a stronghold at the base of Kelvin’s Cairn. We managed to force them out, but we need reinforcements to hold it and stop them from returning.”

“The place is stocked with armor and weapons,” I added.

Golirra agreed to send three of their guards back with us.

“That might be enough until we can get more reinforcements from Ten Towns,” I replied. “Is there anywhere else that you can call upon?”

“Do you have dwarven brothers,” Bran asked, “in perhaps another location nearby, that we might be able to send word to, that might be able to send additional soldiers?”

“Our people are in Mithral Hall,” Golirra explained, “which is south of the spine of the world and right now that’s impassable.”

“That’s too bad,” Bran sighed. “But it will help.”

After a short rest we departed the valley with the three dispatched guards. Golirra provided us with two extra handaxes and a crossbow.

The trip back was uneventful, but I found the last two hours of our march exhausting.

After an uneventful five hour march, we reached the outpost late that night and saw our companions watching from the barred windows overlooking the valley. The bars had already been repaired.

I gave Oosi the two dwarven handaxes from the dwarven valley and the five orc javelins.

The dwarves inspected the outpost and commented on the shoddy duergar construction.

I soon discovered that I was far more exhausted than I had realized, and was in desperate need of rest.

The Battlehammer dwarves determined that the outpost was of recent Duergar construction.

In the morning, Blaze used sending to communicate to Captain Imdra Arlaggath of Easthaven: “Duergar infiltrating Ten Towns. Planning invasion. Spread the word. Have taken duergar stronghold at base of Kelvin's Cairn. Dwarves need assistance to hold this foothold.”

Captain Arlaggath responded: “I’m preparing defenses of Easthaven. I can spare ten men. Will send them out forthwith.”

Then Blaze used sending to communicate to Hlin Trollbane in Bryn Shander: “Duergar infiltrating Ten Towns. Planning invasion. Spread the word. Have taken duergar stronghold at base of Kelvin's Cairn. Battlehammers need assistance to hold this foothold.”

Hlin responded: “I don’t know why you’re telling me this, but I guess I can let the speaker know about this.”

After much debate, and to Erling’s disapproval, we agreed to leave the chardalyn lantern secured in a chest at the outpost for the time being.

While we were debating, Erling was struck by a sharp spike of pain in his mind. After a minute, Erling explained that, “There’s a mental urge that I have to go and follow this urge. Ever since that meteor came by, I have a pull towards it. A compulsion to go find it. I’ve been putting it off while we’re doing this thing, and this is a tremendous pain in my head from it. Whatever it is, I think it’s close by. It’s definitely related to the meteor. It might be that there’s someone else who can detect it, or is trying to find it, and they detected me instead, or I may be picking up whatever signal they’re sending out. I don’t know if I’ve been targeted or identified, but there’s some source to the southeast that’s emanating this signal, and it’s very painful. If we’re going to go south, I need to find that meteor.”

We discussed our next moves. Oosi was determined to find the renegade barbarians, which meant traveling west of Good Mead. Mendel was interested in finding the meteorite, south of Good Mead, before anyone else did. Erling wanted to continue on to Lonelywood to confront Ravisin, believing that she represented the greatest threat to the Ten Towns. Even in my exhausted state, I was determined to drop what we were doing and immediately head to Sunblight’s fortress to stop Xardorok from building a dragon to destroy the Ten Towns, and find the Jarlmoot afterward. Blaze was undecided. Ultimately, Bran agreed that the duergar represented the biggest threat, but thought we weren’t ready and we should complete our commitment to Oosi before taking on any other quests. Erling was convinced by Bran, and we agreed to head south.

Blaze suggested allowing me another day to recuperate, but I insisted we head out as soon as possible.

Leaving the outpost in the care of the Battlehammer dwarves, we departed for Caer-Konig. In my exhausted state, it was slow traveling, but we made it there uneventfully late that afternoon. We headed for The Northern Light.

When we arrived, Allie and Cori Shorard were busy going about their business, and Trovus was passed out, drunk, in a padded armchair by the fire.

“Welcome back!” Allie greeted us. “I’m so glad you all are safe. I have rooms prepared for you, if you want them. How was your journey?”

We accepted Allie’s offer and ordered food and drink.

Erling explained that, “We found those duergar that were harassing you folks, and we took care of them,” Erling winked. “They won’t be coming around here any more.”

“Wow!” Allie replied. “You guys really are heroes!”

“The thing is—” Erling began.

“What we found—” Mendel interrupted, “What we found was that the duergar were sending stuff to an outpost to the south.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Erling concurred. “But we found your lantern, before they could do that, and we have it guarded under lock and key, so that nothing else happens to it, because of what our friend here mentioned, they’re stealing anything with chardalyn in it.”

“Oh, so you found our lantern,” Allie was overjoyed. “That’s awesome!”

“We did,” Erling hesitated, “but we’re keeping it under lock and key for the moment so they can’t get it and try and steal it again. And the reason is, because we need to sort this out. Once we do, we’ll retrieve it for you and gladly bring it. We just want to protect it so they can’t get to it anymore.”

“Oh!” Allie gasped. “So the material in the lantern is what they wanted…”

“That’s right!” Mendel emphasized. “It’s actually quite dangerous!”

“Oh my!” Allie grasped. Well, thanks for keeping it safe. I mean, if it’s a dangerous item...”

“Well…” Erling clarified, “it’s not that dangerous. You can have it around here. It’s dangerous that they’re going to want to come hunting for it again, and we don’t want to put you in danger and have it here for the moment, until we can clear things up. So, rather than you worrying about it, or think that it was gone, we just wanted to let you know that we have it in safe keeping for the time being.”

“Ok,” Allie agreed, “clearly we trust you and we’ll do whatever you think is best.”

Erling and Bran went to the speaker’s house to check on the duergar prisoner, where they were greeted by a constable.

“Greetings,” Bran addressed the constable. “We’re here to check on the prisoner that we turned over to Trovus. Novrael the Bearded?”

“Yup,” the constable replied. “We only got one prisoner. He’s down in the dungeon. You wanna see him?”

“Yeah,” Bran confirmed. “We want to check on his health.”

The constable grabbed a key ring and led us down the stairs to a small hallway with four cells. The only occupant, Novrael, was sitting there looking miserable.

He looked up at Erling and shouted something in Undercommon.

Not understanding, Erling replied sarcastically, “Well, it’s so nice to see you, oh bearded one.”

Novrael switched to Dwarven which Bran understood, “The Deep Dweller will shrivel your balls!

Bran translated the Deep Dweller's interest in Erling’s testicles, and added in Dwarven, “Where are you getting all the chardalyn?

I’m not a traitor!” Novrael replied.

I guess we’re not going to be able to help you much,” Bran sighed.

I’m not going to need your help.” Novrael hinted.

After an uneventful night’s rest, I was feeling much better, but still moving slowly.

Blaze used sending to communicate to Hruna, the Blackiron Blades dwarf from Bryn Shander: “Duergar infiltrating Ten Towns. Planning invasion. Spread the word. Have taken duergar stronghold at base of Kelvin's Cairn.”

Hruna replied: “Glad you killed those filthy duergar. My kin are in the dwarven valley. Please let them know. I’m just a shopkeeper.”

Then Blaze used sending to communicate to Oarus Masthew in Termalaine: “Duergar infiltrating Ten Towns. Planning invasion. Spread the word. Have taken duergar stronghold at base of Kelvin's Cairn. Dwarves need assistance to hold this foothold.”

Oarus replied: “Bad news upon bad news. Something is afoot in Termalaine. Can’t help right now. If you can, come here.”

Unable to communicate further, we went to the common room.

“You know,” Erling addressed Allie and Cori once they had brought our breakfast, “we also found some disturbing information up at their stronghold. We think they probably are preparing for some kind of attack on the Ten Towns.”

“You mean these dwarves?” Allie asked.

“Duergar,” I corrected. “They’re like anti-dwarves.”

“Oh!” Allie acknowledged. “That’s terrible!”

“So, you know,” Erling explained, “you probably want to encourage your speaker to figure out how to kind of make the town more defendable in the event that something does happen.”

“That’s a terrific idea,” Allie agreed. “We will press Trovus to be more defensive.”

“And also, you know,” Erling continued, “my companion here made a good suggestion. If it came down to it, and you needed to flee, or leave, the fort there is rather defendable and into the mountain. So that might be a good place to take refuge if it came down to it and you needed to.”

“Oh,” Allie wondered. “We don’t know where it is.”

“It is at the base of Kelvin’s Cairn,” I revealed.

Ering drew them a map with directions, adding, “Also, I would encourage you to spread the word to the other Ten Town folks around. So if the speaker meets with the other speakers, everybody should start talking about, not only are they looking out for duergar in their communities, but also thinking about how to defend them, should the duergar get bold enough to attack.”

“Okay,” Allie agreed. “I’ll let Trovus know that he should do that.”

“Some other towns are already sending reinforcements there,” I added, “from as far away as Easthaven. It is more defensible than any town.”

We acknowledged that the outpost could only hold about fifty people.

We soon made our way to Caer-Dineval, where we were welcomed by Rourke from The Uphill Climb and Speaker Crannoc Siever. Once again, the speaker made accommodations for us on the ground floor of the northeast tower.

We repeated the warning about duergar and informed them of the outpost.

The speaker noted the warning and information, saying he would pass it along to anyone he could, but said, “I don’t think we can spare any soldiers to go there, because it’s such a small community and we’re going to need everybody to defend the town if these durgar attack.”

Rourke was already trying to recruit additional militia.

After another uneventful night’s sleep, I was moving at full speed.

Blaze used sending to communicate to Oarus Masthew in Termalaine: “Explain nature of trouble.”

Oarus replied: “People missing. People behaving differently. Investigating guards never returned. Part of town, no one returns.”

We considered whether we should reverse course again and head to Termaline.

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