30-JAN-2010

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The dwarves that come to the rescue of the party turn out to be a patrol from Koshrak's View, lead by Talan ko Veltar (a veteran of the Battle of Koshrak's View). There's a familiar face in the group: Hilda Ungart is scouting for the Dwarven patrol. She introduces two other Dwarves: a Dwarven Cleric named Daemon and his hunter friend, a Ranger nicknamed Chewey. On the Mandragora bodies, they find a message describing the PCs, and signed by Sarthis, a House Xeduus Inquisitor (a role with great political power).

The patrol makes haste back to Koshrak's View, where they are rushed in to see the King. As the group waits, the sounds of raised voices are heard within: the door crashes open and a terrible smell floods the corridor. A small spike-armoured figure clanks toward the group; he pauses to smash his mailed fist into a pillar knocking the bust of a dwarven king onto his own head. Muttering darkly, the figure stomps away, his armour squealing.

More shouting erupts and a number of dwarven generals leave the King's study with undignified speed as a number of Dwarven swear words are hurled after them. King Koshrak bellows for the PCs to come in, and apologises for the smell; the source of which was Argak the Battlerager, the odious dwarf they saw outside. Koshrak takes the scroll-tube from Fucius Noran, and opens a secret door - Daemon tries to see inside, and sees a small dust-covered collection of books and scrolls. Koshrak advises the PCs to take their ease in the city and he will contact them when he translated the scroll.

The PCs are also paid a sum in diamonds for their trouble. Hilda explains that she was separated from the group she was with as the group leaves the King's presence. As they have not appeared at Koshrak's View, she fears the worst, as they were pursued by Remnant forces after leaving Volkraad.

The PCs take their ease in the city, Fucius attempting to make some business deals with the famed armourer, Bremius. Whilst talking in the taverns, some of the others learn that the population of Summervale has disappeared. Although a few bodies were found the town is deserted, and the Dwarves are stepping up their patrols. Goblins have been seen in the lower tunnels and the dwarves are somewhat excited at the prospect of clashing with their ancient foe.

Koshrak summons the PCs, and he has translated the scroll. It is a map to the Dwarven city of Dwarrowdelve, long-lost in the orc-ridden Eastlands. However, there is more to it than an ancient set of directions: it is the resting place of the Crown of Command. The Crown of Command was an ancient magical artefact, used by the Nerovian Empire to secure the support of other nations by a powerful compulsion spell. Koshrak makes the supposition that the BlackClaw Goblinoids may have been ensorcelled in this fashion.

Further musings are interrupted by the arrival of a breathless Dwarf messenger, carrying news that fighting has broken out in the lower tunnels. Koshrak secures the scroll and urges the PCs to follow him. A number of grinning Dwarves are massed outside the entrances to the mine, and are splitting into groups - many are laying bets and King Koshrak is no exception. He wagers 500 crowns that the PCs can't get "50 points", and explains a scoring system based upon the number of Goblinoid heads that the PCs can take.

Heading away from the main force of the dwarves, the group are joined by Sardurii, a human rogue and head west. It's not long before they run into a group of bugbears. The battle is joined, but is over fairly quickly after a grease spell gives the group an advantage. Capturing a bugbear, the group force him to lead him to the other forces. Ignak leads the group straight to two ogres, who prove tougher opponents!

The group are a little bloodied by the encounter and advance cautiously, and they are fortunate(?) to come across a group of a dozen Orcs forming up to press on through the mine. Taking on the Orcs, Issaria and Fucius demolish them with grease and color spray as Chewey fells the leader with a dead-eye shot. Hilda attempts to throw alchemists fire over the Orcs but a lucky javelin shot explodes the jar in her hands

The group moves toward the main battlefield - a drawbridge over a crevasse. When they arrive they see a group of Ogres attempting to use grapples to haul the drawbridge down, as the dwarves fire crossbows at them. Tonrar, with characteristic brilliance decides to tie a rope to himself and knock the ogres off the ledge. He hands the end of the rope to Chewey and races toward the ogres as Issaria casts grease. Hilda and Sardurii discover an Ogre proceeding toward them, and they sneak into position behind it.

Things do not go well for Tonrar. He slides past the Ogres missing them and plummets over the abyss. He is saved by a ogre when it grabs the rope and begins to spin him around, eventually sending him smashing into the PCs who try to scramble out the way! The Ogres are dangerous opponents, but they eventually fall - in one case literally!

With the Ogres dispatched the Dwarves lower the drawbridge, and a bruised but happy King Koshrak, greets the PCs. He gladly pays up the wager. As he jokes with the PCs, Krato senses a magical disturbance above the ground. As the group, with the Dwarves in tow, race toward the surface.

When the group reaches the surface, a number of battered dwarves are being tended to by clerics, and the door to the King's study is hanging off the hinges. The scrollcase has been stolen! Or so everyone thinks: amid gales of laughter, Koshrak explains that he hid the real scroll elsewhere - whoever has stolen the scroll has a fake...