Diurn speaks to the dwarves,
"We need to find out what happened to these kids. We need to get under Cauldron--the skulk probably knows how. We need to rescue the captured familiar to get Keyguard's support and goodwill. Dwarven expedient interrogation methods are not off the table in these extreme circumstances."
Diurn looks meaningfully at the prisoner and the proprietor. He continues to glow with the golden light of divine fury.
Dreygard squats down and addresses the tied up skulk in the language of the underdark. At some point during the dialogue, he jots a thumb back at Ghelve. After that, he cocks his head towards Adolpus.
Ghelve sighs heavily at Darthal's question and walks to the back room. He pushes at a section of the wall underneath the staircase. A loud squeal fills the room, and the wall pivots open, revealing a 10-foot square landing at the top of a stone staircase that descends into darkness.
"This leads to Jzadirune, the enclave where my people lived until 75 years ago, when the Vanishing caused several of them to fade away into nothinginess. My people abandoned it after that. About three months ago, several of those creatures-" he points at the skulk, "-snuck into my shop and kidnapped my familiar, Starbrow. They threatened to kill him unless I cooperated. I had no choice, you understand! None. They demanded I tell them everything I knew about Cauldron, and when they found out I make most of the locks for the city, they forced me to make three skeleton keys that could open any of my locks. They also made me turn over my records listing who I’d sold the locks to over the years.”
Ghelve’s face colors with shame as he continues, ”There’s two types of creatures involved in this – tall ones and short ones. The tall ones look like your prisoner, what you called a skulk? They typically wield either short swords or rapiers along with crossbows. The skulks often leave the shop wearing cloaks, letting them blend into their surroundings with ease. The short ones are sinister gnomelike creatures with pallid skin, large noses, and soft black hooves for feet. They typically wield daggers and wear black cloaks and cowls to help them hide in the shadows. The creatures work in groups of threes, and speak that language your dwarf friend seems to know.”
”If you think to go after them, please, find Starbrow and return him to me. I know he’s in a dark place within a mile, and that he’s starving and afraid. He’s a good rat. Don’t let them hurt him.”
”I know little about Jzadirune itself – I’ve never been. But my father told me a few stories about it. There are supposedly secret passages all over the place. The doors are gear-shaped and designed to roll to one side or the other. Father said many of them bear traps that only gnomes could safely bypass. If you wait just a moment, there’s one more thing I can do to help.” Ghelve walks up the stairs to the second story and returns a moment later with a tattered piece of leather in his hand. He gives it to Darthal and says, ”This is a rough map of Jzadirune my father gave me. It doesn’t show any of the secret passage he referred to, but hopefully it will help.”
Ghelve draws several deep breaths and looks at you hopefully.
Diurn smiles at Ghelve and speaks solemnly to him,
"Arshea aids those held captive against their will. I will do by utmost to bring Starbrow back, your information and help have been crucial today. The blessings of Arshea be upon you."
Adressing the dwarves, "The hunt continues underground--not my first choice of location, but thankfully we have you two dwarves with us--your knowledge of underground construction is common knowledge. We have learned much from Ghelve, I doubt this skulk can add much information. He will definitely have to prove his continued usefulness."
Diurn glowers at the Skulk. Maybe the implied threat will loosen his tongue.
What to do with the Skulk?
Jzadirune...finally! After all these weeks looking...found by happenstance! I will fulfill my vow and discover what happened to your people Firebottom and save these kids at the same time. I will not fail! Luc has a look of determination as he grips his pistol, ready to move on when the party is ready.
|Sir Adolphus Ministhrien|
As he is shown the entrance to the underground of Cauldron, his squire wraps a bandage around his shoulder. At least the bleeding has mostly stopped, the skin slowly knitting itself back together.
"And that is what I was waiting for! Behind the Curtain, Beneath the Cauldron. Bring my armor."
The young lad rushes to the chest he had left in the shop and opens it, taking the time necessary to put on the armor appropriately. It'll be several minutes.
Dreygard puffs up at Diurn's mention of the dwarve's prowess underground. "You're friend is as good as found with us on his trail." He jabs a thumb towards Darthal. "Do you have any of Starbrow's favorite treats we could give him? So he can be sure we are friendly. And there's nothing to be ashamed about. It is a hard thing knowing a loved one could be hurt at any moment. The important thing is your helping us now. I just hope we are on time for the children's sake."
Darthal ignores the skulk, busily studying the map. "Do you know what part of this map your entrance leads towards? Secret doors, doors like gears... this sounds like a tinker's paradise. If you would be so kind, tell me what sort of traps your people would be like to build. We dwarves tend to go in for bottomless pits, but I expect that your folk would be more... showy."
|Sir Adolphus Ministhrien|
Adolphus looks over the dwarf's soldier at the map.
"I would say here." He points at the spiral staircase in the middle of the map. "But I could be wrong. It seems the most likely location to put a route up and down from the darks below."
Valamont nods approvingly as Diurn drops their foe then preserves its life.
"Yes, mother, I think the guard should take custody of this... what is it again? a skunk?
-ah, yes, a *skulk*
-No, I don't think it'd be a good idea to kill it outright.
-Because it should be tried at least, that's why. Now hush."
Valamont looks from Ghelve to the curtain in his shop to the revealed door down to Jzadirune. He comments as Darthal and Adolphus poor over the map, "The doors are fashioned like gears? Our prophetic riddle is turning out to be surprisingly literal. Though, to be honest, I was expecting doors with fangs that would bite. Can't say I'm disappointed we're getting big gears instead."
The skulk glares at Dreygard and speaks.
Undercommon "Well no s+#@, you attacked us. And at odds one to seven. That was foolish. But I can tell you that the big guy isn't too interested in your well being, and the one mumbling to himself seems to be. The rest of us are more interested in getting to the bottom of the mystery of the missing children. Do yourself a favor and point us in the right direction. Also, it would help your case if you told me how the Last Laugh gang is involved."
Diplomacy 1d20 ⇒ 9
Responding to Darthal's question, Ghelve says, "The best I can say is that the traps are elaborate and clever in design. There will, of course, be a way to allow you to pass safely. Other than that, I know not. As for the entrnace, I believe your friend is correct."
He turns to Dorian. "Half a dwarf? Well, we have half-elves and half-orcs and the like. Why not a half-dwarf?"
Darthal fumes silently at the mention of half-dwarves -- the very idea! -- but says nothing.
"Coming down in the middle of everything? Sounds like a gnome design. I think dwarves would have built something more... defensible. Ah, well, it makes life easier for us." He thinks for a minute. "One request, Ghelve. Do you have anything your familiar used much? Slept on? My dog could use a scent to track him by."
Ghelve nods and walks upstairs. A moment later, he hands Darthal a rat-sized blanket. "Starbrow sleeps on this. I know not how much use it will be to you, however. They took him several weeks ago; I can't imagine the scent is strong."
All this talk about Jzadirune leaves you with a nagging sense that you're missing something obvious, that you know something about it and the riddle. If only you could remember...
Darthal stares at the map again, something clicking in the back of his mind. Did one of those rooms remind him of the dream he dreamed before the dawn? The cavern of stone, lit by glowing insects, where one of the children was imprisoned in a cage? Did one of those rooms match the shape of that half-remembered nightmare?
"I think... Darthal says slowly. "I think... I dreamed about this room here." He points to one on the map. "Always I have dreamed of the deep places of the earth, but here... I saw Terrem. At least, I knew it was Terrem in the dream. It could be all a dream, of course, but the shape... is a strange coincidence if so."
Which room on the map was it?
"Let's wrap this skulk in a cloak or rug and discreetly run him to the temple. We wouldn't want him to be seen and endanger Starbrow or Ghelve."
"I agree. He's just a guard and I've got all I could out of him. He seems to believe that we might be the bad guys. Maybe the priests will disallude him of that thought. It'll only take but a moment."
As Dreygard and Diurn (and whomever else) take the skulk off to the temple, Valamont takes a turn looking at the map. If Dorian and Darthal remain behind, Valamont will look toward them specifically as he speaks, "If Ghelve is right about the place being filled with secret passages, and I've no reason to doubt that he is, then we should keep an eye out for them - they'll likely help us bypass some of the traps. It'd be easiest to hide a door where adjacent rooms share a wall." Valamont then points to several places on the map. "I'm sure there could more, but these places seem likeliest to me."
Darthal remains behind.
"Good point. Let's be sure to check those spots. Also, if they ahve secret passages connecting rooms, they likely built some secret compartments elsewhere. Dorian will probably need to keep an eye out since I'm better with native stone and the magic of it than worked stone."
He pats the dog by his side. "If we're lucky we'll pick up some scent trails."
Darthal gave up stonecunning for an alternate racial ability.
Dreygard and Diurn attempt to bundle the skulk into the borrowed rug, but it resists until Dreygard whispers a few choice words into its ear. They depart for the church of Iomedae.
Upon arrival, an acolyte informs them that Jenya is not there for the moment, and if they have a criminal, they should take it to the town guard barracks.
Assuming you do so...
When you arrive at the barracks, a guard halts you. "What's your business? And what's with the squirming rug?"
Ghelve fidgets nervously for a few minutes after Dreygard and Diurn leave, then says, "So you really think these creatures are behind the kidnappings of the children? I hope you're mistaken. To think that I helped them..." he trails off, a sad look in his eyes.
After a few moments, he shakes himself and says, "If you're thinking of exploring Jzadirune, be cautious. It's not a small place. I wouldn't be surprised if it will take you several days."
Darthal says, slowly, "They deceived you, and held hostage one dear to you. Remember this, and tell your kin: perhaps the next time they try this someone will be more wary. And make what amends you can: tell us everything you know of this one and his companions. Was there only one here? Did they change off? How often did they do so? Did they have any weapons? Any magical abilities other than their concealment?"
"Several different ones have been through the shop. I don't know how many. It was easier to look the other way and keep my thoughts away from them. As for weapons, as I told you, the tall ones, which you call skulks, wield either short swords or rapiers, and the short ones use daggers."
"And if we go down, then must retreat, they will doubtless set up new defenses, change things around, and so on. Even foes as stupid as orcs do that; these folk seem rather smarter. Well, no help for it, save to take care."
Darthal paces back and forth, thinking about how best to use tracking dogs underground.
Dreygard will let the guards know that as far as we can tell, he was acting as a guard for the folk involved with the kidnappinga.
|Sir Adolphus Ministhrien|
Diurn will inform the temple how important it is to keep the skulk from reporting to his network. "This needs to go to Jenya directly. We are questing underground Ghelve's shop in the warrens to find the children--this skulk can compromise our safety and the childrens' safety. We will try to report back when we have more information."
When the temple has taken delivery of the skulk, Diurn returns ready to go. Even so considerate to return the rug, tapestry, or blanket that was borrowed.
"Mr. Keyguard, he will bother you no more. I too, am a man of action. Anyone hurt need some healing before we go? To the basement."
|Sir Adolphus Ministhrien|
When Diurn and Dreygard return, Ghelve nods his thanks at Diurn’s comment, choosing to ignore the mangling of his name.
The party chooses to descend the hidden stone staircase. Its steps are shrouded with cobwebs and dust, descending twenty feet to a ten-foot square landing before bending to the right and plunging into darkness. An empty torch sconce sits on the opposite wall at the landing.
First dungeon delve, and it’s a bigun! To make this go as smoothly as possible, I’d like the party to come up with some marching orders. Things to think about include:
1) Who will take the lead? Who will take rearguard?
2) Will you have somebody(s) scouting ahead?
3) Light source?
4) How thoroughly will you be searching the place? Taking 20 on each room? Aiding another the person with the highest Perception? Depending on reactionary Perception checks? Searching both the rooms and the corridors? Etc.
5) Are you trying to be stealthy?
6) Anything else you can think of that will help this go well.
Sweet-in the dungeon!
How about we lead off with
Dreygard up front and stealthy
Darthal and Adolphus with light then
Luc and Valmont then
Diurn and Dorian.
Luc is behind Darthal so he can aid perception and fire over his shoulder (hopefully Darthal has hearing protection). Plan to search everything thoroughly (mapping speed) taking 20 at every major room. Diurn and Dorian checking behind them regularly.
1) Valamont is unarmored and squishy, so somewhere in the middle or rearguard would suit him best. At least until he gets his hands on a wand of shield, at which point he could be more up-fronty.
2) I'm digging Dreygard scouting, but I will fear for his life at the same time
3) Valamont has dancing lights prepared and can cast that as many times as we need. He also has a bullseye lantern if we'd like a nice, long beam of light to operate with.
4) Taking 20 in each room will take a LONG time, if just searching a room would take, say 5 minutes, taking 20 would render that into almost 2 hours (100 minutes). We'll need to weigh the time it'd take vs how soon we need to find the kiddos.
5) Not particularly, especially if we have some hounds with us sniffing and barking and making all manner of noises.
6) Not at present, but if I think of anything I'll blurt it out =P
|Sir Adolphus Ministhrien|
1) The middle is fine for me, but somewhere where I can move ahead if need be.
3) I will need one, as I do not have darkvision or low-light vision.
4) We will need to move swiftly to effect a rescue, so not taking 20 all the time will be helpful, I think.
5) Heavy armor and stealth? Not likely to happen.
6) Adolphus keeps his two handed sword ready.
Adolphus bids his squire farewell, asking him to inform the Vanderborens of his current quest when the day has drawn longer.
Perception 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23
"Folks, there are some footprints here. Bare humanoid feet, looks like the skulk's trying to be stealthy, and someone with a small pair of hooves."
1. I'm fine being in the lead, as I have a dog to track with and a high Perception score. I'll probably duck to the rear in combat (or else fight with total defense) as I'm NOT particularly a tank.
2. Dreyguard can scout ahead. I'm keeping the dog on a leash and having it look for scent trails (see 6) We can probably do a basic Perception check of the room while he scouts ahead. I'll let others aid me while I roll -- searching dark caves is what I was born for.
3. Light? What light? Oh, that's right, some of you don't have darkvision. We should have a couple of light sources at all times in case someone nastily breaks a sunrod, and maybe another sunrod in reserve just in case.
4. I'm thinking that careful mapping can wait. Check out rooms, see if there are scent trails, find kids. If we can't do one of the above THEN we start careful mapping and checking for secret doors. Speed is important given the hostages. Not crashing into traps is also good, but Dreyguard can find some traps, and if we pick up a scent trail it's unlikely that the kids were led through trapped areas. Likewise if they're moving around and we see footprints they _probably_ don't have areas where they routinely walk through traps. In cases of doubt, remember I can summon allies and send them ahead to see if anything happens. (At least till I run out of spells.)
5. Not trying to be noisy, but doubt it matters. Light alone will reveal us to anyone with eyes, and most of us are not trained to be stealthy. The first fight will spread noise all around. But let's try not to yell, blow trumpets, anything like that. Maybe we were lucky and the gnomes put sound padding in the doors.
6. If the dog finds a scent trail, we should follow it. I'll try Terrem's clothes first, then the other kids', then Ghelve's familiar (old scent and too many places he might be).
At the mention of taking several days to explore Jzadirune, Dorian realizes he'll need some food. "I hadn't planned on going on an expedition and need to buy some rations. I'll be back shortly!" (Assuming I can find a store nearby to buy some trail rations... 5 days' worth.)
Dorian follows everyone down the stone stairs.
Dorian would prefer the middle so as to not be a target of ambushes from behind, but is ok with being anywhere that's not in the front.
He'll do a sweep of each room with detect magic, but other than that leaves any scouting/searching decisions to the others.