Once back from Forest Netheril, the party heads south , stops over at Venzor's Lair, then heads out via a raft towards Stone Helm. They stop at a conjunction of two rivers and find a hidden lair occupied by an Astral Stalker named Balthazar and his kobold and spider minions. They kill Balthazar and take his invisible pouch of holding. (xp awarded already)
full party: Regdar, Eberk, Whirlflock,Narwale,Pirrip, Aramil,Yazov)
Before heading out, the party waits an extra day to try out the magical circle of plus or minus bonus. They run into some kobolds and dispatch them (100xp total)
Next they head out overland through the Dim Forest, encountering 3 gnolls along the way. (300xp total) Once out of the forest, they encounter a farmer names Fineas who tells them of a nearby town Blasingdell. (100xp bonus to Regdar for giving gold to poor farmers along the way)
They reach Blasingdell and talk to some locals and gather some information about Stonehelm. (100xp each for roleplaying to Pirrip, Narwale, Eberk, Regdar)
The party reaches Stone Helm and scouts the following morning. They locate the chimney entrance and repel down into the orc kitchen. They go west , encountering the orcess shaman Burdug and her two guards. . They are attacked by 4 stirges . The fire trap in area 10 is set off. Then the party descended into the glitterhame. There they encountered 2 trogs and some more stirges. . They find a bear trapped in a cage and release it. They discover a tunnel leading up and out of the glitterhame that ends on the side of the Stone Helm overlooking the black lake. Finally , they holed up in the bear cage for the night.
The next morning they ventured into the Glitterhame. They find the dwarven tombs but do not plunder them. A swarm of spiders attacks and the party fends them off. They locate the enrtance to the Foundry but it is locked and taked a DC 22 to pick it, which Pirip fails at. Then Eberk starts pounding on the door with his warhammer. Even with assistance from Pelor, he can only manage a small dent in the door, and he also makes so much noise that he attracts 3 troglodyte warriors. The trogs follow the trail of spider bodies to the spider lair where the party is hiding.
-action stops for the day right before Trog battle. Mid-day game time- —
-next session, the party defeats three Trogs, then heads to the south of the Glitterhame, only to encounter a gelatinous ooze creature who comes very close to killing Aramil. Afterwards they take a south passage into the Sinkhole, exporing two cave chambers before retiring for the evening. They cross a bridge to the south which leads them to a narrow East/West cavern with a brisk stream running through it to the east. The follow a short stair case to the south and find a store room flooded 5ft in murky water but do not go into the room before heading back the cavern and camping for the night.
Next morning, they go look at the flooded storeroom again, Pirip uses spiderclimb to explore the room without getting wet. He does not see anything worth getting wet for so they leave. They then head East following the winding cavern. After a bottle neck, the cavern opens up again into the "Roper Chamber" where they do battle with the roper. After defeating the roper they cut it open , finding some gems and a Ring of Wizadry One. They then continue to east end of the chamber where they find the dwarf Gaol. They search the dwarf body in one of the cells and find a silver key with the mark of Durgeddin on it which will open the door to the foundry. They hole up in the cells for the night. Here endeth the session. 1000 xp for defeating the Roper.
The party returns to the locked door and is able to get it open using they key they found. They are able to enter into the dwarven foundry area. First they come to an octagonal room with trapped statues that they have to figure out are guarding false doors. Once the find the correct door, they follow the sounds of hammering , through a large dwarven hall , south into the actual forge area, which is a long cavern with a stream running through it. The stream flows east and drops off into a large black opening. There are several dark dwarves (Duergar) working the forges. The party talks to the duegar, who make some half-hearted attempts at re-forging Regdar;s sword, to no effect. Meanwhile, Pirrip sneaks over and looks inside two rooms on the southern wall. One room has a large armor construct creature and pieces to make another, covered over with a tarp. The other room contains a shrine with a black dragon statue. At the base of the statue there appears to be trace amounts of mithril dust. It turns out there was an invisible Duergar mage watching this, who sounds the alarm "they know about it!!" , and suddenly the relatively friendly duergar turn on the party. A battle ensues. The leader of the Duergar, a female warrior named Nimiria, manipulates a ring on her finger and suddenly the armor contruct comes pounding through the store room door and starts slowly heading toward the party, a huge steel hammer raised high. The party eventually defeats the duergar, except for the mage, who had promptly become invisible again. As soon as Nimira is killed, the armor construct stops moving. Eberk grabs the control ring, though he is not exactly sure how to use it. They also find a map on Nimiria, which shows the black lake area below the waterfall. It seems to indicate where the mithril mine might be, but also indicates some sort of danger , with a skull and cross bones marked on the map as well.
The party decided to go back to the large dwarven hall the the North of the foundry and spend the night there. During the night, the duergar mage and one other surviving duergar attacked. He attempted some illusion spells to scare off the party, to no avail, and the party won the battle, relieving the bodies of a couple of invisibility potions. The next morning, they took a look around the hall and saw that there were 3 doors, two on the northern wall , and one on the west wall behind the throne. They did not look at the door behind the throne. Looking at the first door on the northern wall, at the east end of the hall, the saw that it had some boards nailed over it, and in crude orcish writing was scrawled "beyond this door the Maker of Death is chained. May he gnaw on his own hate until the sun dies and all things end". The party discusses whether this might be referring to Durgeddin, or perhaps some other hateful entity that they would rather not encounter. After listening to the door and hearing a strange shuffling and rattling sound, the elect to go through the other door towards the west end of the room.
In this room, they encounter the crazed apparition of Arundil. He is babbling insanely about how he let down Durgeddin, and this insane babbling hypnotizes several of the party. Luckily, they think to stuff wax or canvas in their ears, helping them over come the hypotism. They are then able to dispatch the ghost of Arundil. They look through a few rooms in this area, finding mostly evidence of the final battle between dwarves and orcs. One room has a picture of Durgeddin and some of his main followers, hoisting steins, standing on some sort of altar. Eberk rolls up the painting and keeps it.
The party now decides that they are going to follow the map of the lower cavern area, and seek out the mithril mine, so that they can have the material they need to reforge Regdar's sword. They go back through the foundry area, and go down the chain ladder leading down the side of the waterfall. When they get to the bottom , they see that they are in a vast underground chamber , much of it filled with water, with various ledges around the outside. What do they decide to do at this point? Go fishing of course! They do catch a couple of strange looking fish, but they also attract the attention of….. a young adult Black Dragon! Perhaps skull and cross bones marked on a map do not look dangerous enough!!
The dragon spews acid all over the party. Some are lucky and dodge out of the way, some take some pretty severe acid damage. In the following chaos, most of the party runs to the east towards the entrance to the mines, but Whirlflock runs back to the chain ladder and is able to escape back to the dwarven forge. The party is able to clear some rubble out of the way and squeeze into the mine shaft before the dragon can attack them again. As they leave, the dragon says "I'll be waiting" .
Whirlflock waits for a while, then decides to go back to the octagonal entrance area to wait, as this is a more secure area.
The rest of the party heads down a steep mine shaft for about 60 feet and then arrive in the mine. They notice that there are large spider webs hanging in sheets from the ceiling in many areas. They start looking around the mine, periodically getting attacked by either large spiders or other underground creatures known as Krutik. These are gian insect like creatures with silver carapaces and 6 ft long razor sharp claws that make a clicking, chittering sound. In between fighting off these creatures, the party looks around in some of the obvious mining areas and finds a few chunks of granite-like ore with silvery veins running through it that they believe is mithril ore. The only problem is that they are not sure how much they need, so they press on with their search. They manage to spend the night in one of the old mining areas, having to burn oil on the floor to scare off a swarm of spiders in the night.
They set off South the following morning, and find another area filled with even more spider webs. One room's entrance is completely covered over with spider webs, and is emanating a sickly purple glow. They decide to torch the webs to see what is inside the room. They see a giant spider, resting atop a huge network of webbing. The webbing is glowing, and the center of the webbing seems to be some sort of portal. Through the portal comes three more spiders. After a brief skirmish, the spiders go back into the lair and do not come out. The party waits a little while, just long enough for the giant spider to spew acid at them, which does minimal damage but persuades the party to leave the area for the moment.
Meanwhile, Whirlflock decides to attempt to rejoin the party. He manages to sneak his way past the dragon, and enter the mine. After a few minutes of exploration he finds the rest of the party. Further encounters with Krutik and spiders ensue. Towards the south the party runs across what looks like the mine's office area. In this room there are a desk with some papers on it , a bookshelf with some old books, and a locked chest. On the desk is a map of the mine, showing the progression of mining activity from the west entrance to the east. There is also a note that mentions that Krutik activity began when the final mine passage to the east was opened up. On the bookshelf there were a couple of intact books remaining, that were treatises on mining methods, identification of rocks, metals, and minerals. In the chest, Pirrip found some old dwarven miner's clothing, and also two strange artifacts. One was some sort of divining rod, which Pirrip quickly realized was a mithril detector. The other item was an old horn with silver bands on both ends. There were ancient dwarven inscriptions, that Eberk translated roughly as "Horn of the elements". Finally, Pirrip looked under the chest, rolled a 20, and found a secret tunnel leading back to the foundry area , through some very tight twists and turns.
Following the map, and using the divining rod, the party headed east to areas where there might be higher concentrations of Mithril. At the far Southeastern corner of the mine, they encountered several more Krutik, and the battle ensued…..
So the party was camped for the night in the dwarven forge. Regdar had managed to re-forge his sword "Durgeddin's Malice", and Eberk had received the war hammer Soul Forger from the animated skeleton of his great grandfather Durgeddin. Durgeddin was released from the Orc Priest's curse to eternally wage war with the orcs, and collapsed.
The party briefly discussed whether to go back down to the Black Lake to take on the acid spitting black dragon, or to venture out of the Glitterhame they way they had originally come, to take on the orcs in the main fortress area of Stonehelm. On their way out of the Glitterhame, Pirrip went down one watery tunnel they had not been down before, and was attacked by Troglodytes before fleeing. They then proceeded up to the fortress, taking out 10-12 orcs, and their giant ogre master Ulfe. On one of the orc bodies they found a map of the area, showing that they were intending to take some prisoners south to the Jagged Mountains to sell some prisoners. On Ulfe himself, they found a scroll that was a decree from High Wyrmlord Azzar Khul- ordering all orc tribes to go north to the Wyrmsmoke Mountains, there to prepare for a future invasion of Elsir Vale. This might explain why the rest of Stonehelm was deserted— the rest of the orc horde has apparently gone North already.
Searching the rest of Stonehelm, they found in Ulfe's bedchamber a chest with 512 gold pieces and 311 silver pieces. Pirrip and Regdar argued for 10 minutes about who had to carry the gold. While they were arguing about the gold, Aramil found a Rapier leaning in one corner. Ulfe may have been using it as a toothpick or a back scratcher. It does not have the mark of Durgeddin, but it may have been made by one of his apprentices and is still a very fine weapon. (+1 to hit , +1 damage) Aramil swings the blade back and forth, a gleam in his eye…he thinks "finally , no -1 on my sword attack!".
In another area, they locate what appears to be a prison area, but it has been vacated. Further exploration reveals one room near the entry way that has a rift in the floor with water running swiftly a hundred feet below. There is a rope bridge that you have to use to get from one side to the other. In a frontal assault, this would have to be traversed, making the fortress pretty secure. The main entrance to Stonehelm is carved out of the side of the mountain, with kill holes hidden above that can be used for arrows, boiling oil, etc. The party realizes it was very prudent to have gone in the back door.
Walking down the narrow winding narrow path to the foot of Stonehelm, Whirlflock checks for signs. He sees that a large party of orcs left Stonehelm several days ago, heading North, and he can tell that a smaller party of orcs left at about the same time, but headed South. Amongst the large booted orc prints, he sees smaller bare foot prints that are probably humanoid of some sort.
The party decides at that point to head South to see if they can intercept the prisoners headed towards the Jagged Mountains, although Aramil is quite concerned at this point that peaceful Elsir Vale may be coming under attack soon.