Ahris

Changes in the air

Inside the “Head Shed,” the name Tenshea has given to the two-story building with the stairs and cave tunnels, you light some torches and prepare to look around some more. There are two tunnels from the ground floor and three on the second floor. Two of those upstairs are little more than widened cracks in the back wall of the building – that is, the mountainside – and are barely accessible. All five, however, go in for several or more feet and then open onto the same scene: a vast cavern, completely dark aside from what the torchlight can illuminate, reaching down into the mountain. Each of the tunnels ends either in a sudden drop-off or a small ledge, and all of them have gemstones inlaid around the openings into the large cavern. There are also sigils and runes painted and carved into the rock around those openings, and in many places inside each tunnel.

The cavern is so large that your light does not enable you to see the opposite wall, nor a bottom, A jagged, stalactite-covered ceiling is visible in the dim light above, with long, frozen-in-time drips of water as mineral tubes extending downward. The surface of the walls and ceiling sparkles with reflective minerals, and some larger crystals, mostly with a milky white appearance, are visible here and there in the rock.

In a way, it’s as if the mountain is a giant geode, bulging out slightly into the valley. Whoever made this place scraped, carved, and shaped the valley-side face of the bulge into this building, adding rock and mortar here and there to blend it with their odd, curve-intensive design style, and these tunnels provide access, at least to view, the inside of the thing. Like a geode, the inside dirty, unworked rock, with some crystal coming through here and there. Regardless, the interior is large – at least over 60 feet across and at least that deep from where the tunnels open into it.
Sigil.jpg
The rest of the town is as I described, with buildings seeming to fill residential or other official roles. One thing that you both notice throughout all the runes and sigils here and there – which are far more pervasive once you get used to seeing them – is the image to the right, usually etched cleanly into a surface, and in varying sizes. It is the most common of the runes, by a slight plurality.

Once you focus your efforts on digging out the rockslide, you spend most of the daylight hours doing so, eventually uncovering an opening large enough to crawl through. back into the mountain tunnel. All five of you are able to get in there by mid-afternoon – tired, dusty, and with cut, bruised hands.

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Chase to the Hidden Mountain Town

Mountain_Valley_2.jpgLife, albeit twisted and somewhat menacing, had aggressively returned to the hidden valley, in the form of gnarled trees and dark, oily grass. The trail, mostly dirt but with ancient cobblestones showing through here and there, winds down from the cave and the metal gate, then down a little more before splitting, with one route heading uphill to the west and the ruined town. That path is flanked to the right by a rough, rocky slope, and what looks like marshy grass on the left. The route that parallels the lake coastline winds among newly-green trees, ending in a collection of ruined walls and footings next to the lake; this is where you believe you saw some movement. Another path leads up the hill to the town from there.

The air is still and cool, and yet heavy with the smell of soil and the growth of foliage, with a strange, faint metallic scent beneath it all.

Click here for a full-sized version. Note that the water is of unknown depth; grey hexes are inaccessible (too rocky or steep); and the tan hexes between the two roads leading to the town are also inaccessible – too steep and rough. The distance from your perch outsite the tunnel to the lakeside ruins is about 1/4 mile, and just a little less than that to the town ruins.

Numbered Locations on Large Map:

  1. Landing from outside cave tunnel
  2. Lakeside ruins, where you think you saw movement
  3. Ruined town, with open square in the center
  4. Ruins on island, about 130 feet out from the shore
  5. Slippery, slime-covered rocks sloping up from the low area next to the lake toward the town – probably hard to navigate
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Another one bites the dust
"That's two!"

That which you accomplished:

  • Killed eight imps on the hillside to the east of the cave; had Tenshea head back to Errlay to get more men
  • Sought to draw off the imps to enable Blass and Turkel to ride by the cave and alert Last Home; resulted in Turkel’s death by blast of fire and the dispersal of a number of imps over a wider area
  • Attacked the cave head-on, with Flasch helping, resulting in injuries to the party before the decision was made to bolt for Last Home
  • Alerted Last Home to the threat; bolstered personal reputations as local heroes; helped organize the town for a combination of protection and attack
  • Scouted the cave area at dawn; attacked with some townies; drew out the Tall Man and, with the timely arrival of Tenshea and a team of his Regulators, killed the Tall man and the remaining imps.

The cave entrance, at dawn, looked dark as one would expect – at first. After peering inside, however, a green glow was evident, but seemingly only to Kane and Corwyn. Tenshea and his team have scouted the area around the cave, in search of scattered imps or other threats, and some have gone back with the folks from Last Home to restore normalcy to the town.

The staff that Kane is proudly carrying around is about 5 feet long and about 2" in diameter, and carved from a strong, dark wood. Perhaps the stain over it has obscured the type of wood, because you don’t recognize it. It has some dull metal inlay, twisted around the upper foot of it, and has what look like runes carved into the entire length. Similar runes are also carved into the tunnel walls, no visible as if an upper layer or coating has been cleaned away. The etched line representing mountains is still there, unchanged, but now bands of runes are above and below the line, heading into the mountain as far as you can see from outside the cave.

The others can see the runes, too, and they recognize them as such. (The idea of runic writing is widely known, but it’s comparable to our sense of hieroglyphics.) The difference here is that Kane and Corwyn can read them, whereas it’s clear that the other cannot. Would the two make it known that they could read the writing? Would the two enter the tunnel? What’s the plan of action?

From outside the cave, with the green glow from within, the runes read as if they are declaring a warning against entering the tunnel without proper preparation and without good reason.

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Revolution Calling
along with somethings coming out of the mountain

Executive summary of what went on inside and next to the mountain:

  • The bottom of the pit seemed to be filled with an expanse of dull black fluid which turned to powder once removed from the pool
  • Imps, as you’ve taken to calling the shrunken beastie-men, set up a wooden frame of some sort, in which the hung what looked like a large glass globe, which they then beat on with sticks until it shattered, seemingly releasing a blast of arcane quasi-fire, which blew C&K out of the tunnel and back to where the horses were.
  • Later, when exploring the inside of the tunnel again, beasties attacked from the darkness, seeming to probe closer to the mouth of the tunnel. They were defeated.
  • After going outside again C&K were met by a 5-man squad of Hehlen, of the Scheef, (think FBI meets MIB). While trying to explain things to them another group of beasties, accompanied by a tall humanoid figure who looked somewhat like the “fire mage” from inside the “prison room” attacked from inside the tunnel. The beasties were killed and the figure retreated into the tunnel after a short fight during which the humanoid ineffectively used some kind purple fire magic.
  • Rolay Fenstr, commander of the Scheef team, arrested C&K for violating a list of laws and brought them back to Errlay, the nearest town to the east, where they were held overnight.
  • The next morning, while the Scheef troops were preparing to transport their prisoners eastward to Waywynn (C&K’s hometown, actually, and a larger settlement than Errlay), an angry crowd gathered and prevented their movement, forcing the men to release C&K.

Eglyn, the leader of the hooded men who seemed to be the animating force behind the town’s resistance to the law, agreed to send a few men with C&K and Blass and Turkel to head back toward Last Home to warn them and, before that, check on the status of the tunnel and whatever might be spewing out of it now.

Rolay Fenstr and his men trundled off in their wagon, steamed at being rebuked, and promising a “prompt and forceful response” from the law. It’s reasonable to expect that they will deliver the news to the Dahr in about a week, which means the clock is ticking down to what could be a harsh response by forces of the elves, or even some elves in fact.

C&K, with supplies, a wagon, and four others (Blass, Turkel, Flasch, and Tenshea) head off swiftly to the west, following the road they’ve traveled several times of late, trying to reach the tunnel before nightfall.

What supplies would you bring in the wagon? What are you going to try to accomplish, where, and by what means?

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Guarding the Tunnel Entrance

Upon arriving again at the mouth of the tunnel, you find some footprints beyond what you believe you left when you were last here, earlier that day. They’re around the entry, among the roots, but do not seem to go any farther onto the road.

Just before sundown a wagon driven by two men, Blass and Terkel, arrives. Blass is a cousin to Corwyn’s mother’s family, and Terkel is somewhat known to you both, give your business connections in Last Home. They’re older than you both and are solid – physically and behaviorally – and bring with them a few shovels, picks, hammers, and rough-cut/cast-off boards and beams, as well as some more rope (albeit heavy stuff – not what you’d carry around) and a cargo net, the type that would be splayed over the top of an over-full wagon.

It looks like they quickly went through a storage room and grabbed whatever they thought might be useful and headed out. They also have a cask of water and a day or two of food each, and feed for all four horses. Each man is also armed: Terkel with an axe and a bow; and Blass with a bow and spear.

“Right – so describe these things you saw in there, lad,” states Terkel after the two settle the horses and begin unpacking the wagon.

(I assume that you give them the same information and description of beings and events that you gave Tallyn Mayfair, the constable, and help them unload the supplies)

The sun has dipped beneath the peaks to the west by the time you’re done unloading, and dusk will last for maybe 45 minutes. What are you going to try to accomplish in that time, and what else are you going to do?

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The Chamber

The finely-worked block tunnel ended with another archway, similar in style and details to the one that led into the mountain, under the tree roots. The major distinction was the lightly-glowing blocks, each emitting a dim greenish glow, barely visible alongside the torchlight. All the blocks in the arch were intact, save one, on the upper right side – it was cracked, dim as the stone of which it was made, and was partially displaced, likely by a shift in the mountain itself.

The chamber on the other side of the arch was similar to the one where the spiders had taken up residence, albeit larger, and with more ornate and prominent designs painted onto and carved into the walls, ceiling, and floor, the center of which itself was partially sunken, a step or two below hall-level, and accessed by two steps down, set into the ground just inside the room from the tunnel.

The entire circular room was about 50’ in diameter, with the domed roof about 15’ high at its apex and center. In the center 10’ of the room was a hole, with what looked like gold inlay around its lip, and on the floor spread across the entire room appeared to be a stylized map of mountains, lakes, and a coastline. On the ceiling there appeared to be constellations, stars, and other forms. There were no other doors, passageways, or means of access or egress – not that were evident – aside from the entry arch from the tunnel, and the hole in the floor.

Aside from a 6" lip around the hole, there was no furniture, nor other trappings, in the room – nothing, but a slightly warm movement of air from inside, smelling faintly of spice.

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A Tunnel, a Valley, and Questions

Here’s what you saw and learned from your trip through the mountain:

  • The tunnel, well-constructed and decorated in some places by line carvings representing mountain peaks, is about a mile in length, and goes roughly NW into an area, so far as you know, never explored by anyone else.
  • Giant spiders are a known subterranean threat throughout these mountains – their presence in the tunnel was not surprising.
  • The hidden valley is about 1/2 mile across at the base – at the lake level, that is. The lake is a few hundred feet across, and the ruined town/buildings to the west of the water is a several hundred feet in depth and width, reaching up the valley’s sloped wall a few stories. There are no structures, aside from the few, small ruined buildings on the island, in the valley.
  • You did not see any clear passes our other tunnels leading out of the valley, but given its shape and your focus during your time there, it’s impossible to be sure if there are others or not.
  • There is a dark hole among the ruins on the island, which can’t be seen from the town level – it was only visible from the ledge leading out of the tunnel.
  • The corroded metal gate is quite ornate, and still standing strong despite its seeming age and neglect. The seemingly hostile midgets did not approach it. The feeling of heaviness and pressure left you immediately once beyond the gate.
  • The midgets were stout, filthy, and you saw none of their features. Their hands were also within the tattered edges of their ragged garments.
  • You only found a few metal implements in the one building you searched, and they were heavily corroded and pitted – the gate was not like that at all. The wood was almost entirely dry pulp, with only some larger chunks here and there – as if whatever held it together had been drained or damaged.
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Berenwoon Geography
for background

Wynshern, the largest settlement in Berenwoon, overseen by Dahr Leighton, is about 3 days away by horse. Aaldershein, the provincial capitol and home to Moizhian Leth, closer to the coast, at about 5 days’ travel. A reasonable expectation a formal response to the tunnel, if any, by Dahr Leighton could come a day or two hence from where we left off, given travel times.

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The rains came, and exposed....
something unexpected

“Durston said the Scouts confirmed it – that old tree on the north side of the pass is still there, but all the earth and rock under it’s been washed away, along with some of the trail itself. He said they could see through the old roots and there’s something like a tunnel. I heard someone else say it was stone-lined, not cave rock,” explained Erich to the group gathered in the guild hall. He’d just returned from Wynshern where he’d been conducting business on behalf of the family for a few days, and had cut short his trip to bring back the latest news.

“You’re sure it’s on the road to Ablen?” asked one of the managers.

“Yes, for certain – I overheard everything they said, and how they made their way through the roots and partially into the tunnel, which looked to pass directly through the steepside along the pass – you know, that rough cliff with the lateral crack about 100 feet up? That one,” confirmed Erich.

“And what of the other side?” asked the same woman.

“After some walk through the mountain…Aa valley – never before seen,” he answered, letting the words hang in the air as he smiled, excited by the news he’d brought.

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A New Start in a Different Colony
Life among the mountains and valleys of Berenwoon

Meta
Berenwoon is where our story will begin, instead of Lineon. I threw the Lineon story at you because I knew it and had run it, and decided to give it a try to see if we even liked the system. I’d prefer to begin anew, elsewhere, with a completely new story rather than relying on content and plot developed a while ago and with a different set of players. You can keep your character, at 2nd level, and we’ll built a background around him to fit in this different place, and move in a fresh direction from there.

And if you hadn’t recognized it, Ahris is a geographic analogue for the English colonies in North America in the 1760s. Lineon would be New York leading into New England; New Orwell would be Virginia, and Berenwoon would be something like where West VA and the Appalachians west of the Carolinas.

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