The Sunless Dawn

Chapter 2 - Day 1 - On the North Road

Exploding Kobolds?

A group of sentients gathered today in a meeting held in the assembly hall of Eichenstark. Representing the town of Eichenstark were Laucivor, the five-term mayor of the town, Jane Cooperson, a local business woman, and Tarik, a surly dwarf representing the districts outside of the city walls. The topic is the North Road, a major trade route leading from Eichenstark.

The mood is a little tense…but not overwhelmingly so. The North Road is a well-maintained and heavily-travelled route, at least in the stretches near the town of Eichenstark. As the weather gets colder, the number of travellers diminishes, but unlike the mountain passes, the North Road is passable year round (albeit with difficulty if the weather turns for the worse). The road is largely safe, but there are occasional troubles with miscreants along the roads, but apparently nothing as bad as what they’ve been seeing in the last few days. The mountains are rich in mineral resources, and creatures of all types are out to extract. And anybody wandering around is likely to encounter somebody seeking to defend their turf.

But the attacks have been more, ‘malicious’ than that…while most well-prepared caravans have been able to fend of the attacks, but injuries have resulted and they have been quite grisly. There are conflicting reports of reports of marauding orcs (which are definitely atypical, since they usually keep to themselves in the mountains), but then also of an increasing number of animal attacks…including a number of grisly gorings, some of which proved fatal.

Reports suggest that the attacks are centered at an old religious site…approximately one days journey North. The travel is easy enough and the terrain is mostly flat, with a few minor bridged river crossings and some travel through forest. The town council has put out a call for those who would be willing to seek out the cause of these troubles, and put an end to them. A group of adventurers has responded to the call. They are, as recorded by the town scribe (a notoriously poor speller):

Rawena – A Female Human Sorcerer

Keyla – A Female Human Fighter

Novachek – A Male Gnome Druid

Grik – A Male Half-Orc Monk

Vorinir – A Male Dwarf Fighter

Vicmor – A Half-Orc Cleric

Katso – A Female Human Cleric

The town council offered 500 gp for each member of the party as a reward for completing the mission, or 750gp in merchandise credit if the party members so desired. This offer was gladly accepted by the members of the party who agreed to set out immediately on the mission.

As they were leaving the town hall, the party was approached by a man named Arthur, who claims to be a caravan manager, one of whose caravans was attacked by the raiders. Saying that he had a valuable star sapphire stolen that was desperately wanted by a client, he would be very grateful if the party would be willing to keep an eye out for this gem as they carried out their mission. Some members of the party say they would very happy to do, but only for a reward. Other members of the party were contemplating just keeping the gem and leaving poor Arthur to his fate (Evil Points!). Arthur seemed willing to provide information, including that the attackers were a band of orcs, and that the attacks did seem to resonate from an old abandoned temple about a days journey up the road. Armed with the information, the party set out.

Prominently placed along the side of the road are a series of stone millarium, or mile-markers, shaped like miniature stone obelisks. Each commemorating the hard work of one Berengar, apparently the head of Public Works (or something like that) responsible for the road’s construction. Each identical stone bears the inscription, in an archaic form of Common:

“Commissioner Berengar restored the roads and bridges of Wuserlich in the 6th year of the reign”

In the first dozen or so miles leading away from Eichenstark, a number of tombs and cemeteries line the North Road. Burials are not permitted inside city limits for fear of ghosts and disease. There indeed are a few restless spirits in the area (there always are), but none are particularly malignant. Most of the structures are pretty mundane, simple headstones and burial mounds. They are largely divided into a number of zones, mostly splint up into categories of wealth and status, but also a few by race, religion, or occupation.

A few of the richer former citizens of the area (those who didn’t choose to get buried back at the capital) have more elaborate structures. In contrast to the funerary monuments near the capital, the ‘aristocrats’ of this outer region have a penchant for the gaudy…perhaps just as a way to make up for some perceived deficiency (like living in the boonies). Several of the notable ones include:

Garen Cooperson, a barrelmaker and son of barrelmakers, is buried in a 25 foot granite scale model of a barrel. Rumor has it that his remains are packed into one of his family’s finest wares inside the rather imposing structure. Nobody really knows how a barrel-maker came by enough wealth to construct a tomb such as this, but nobody really every asked him what he put in the barrels either after they were done. Roquat the Dwarf, wasn’t really a dwarf. Well, he was…but in the sense that he was a really short and squat human (a little toad-like, actually) But perhaps because of his business acumen, or more likely just his stature, he was particularly skilled at making business contacts with several of the dwarven mining conglomerates in the nearby mountains. He was also a vocal proponent of equal rights and was well regarded in both communities. The trade was profitable, and with a generous commissions taken off the top, he developed quite a fortune. It is said that much of his wealth is stored within, and the walls are almost entirely studded with the jewels and treasures that he had collected over a lifetime. The outside is no show of cheapness either, a mound with retaining walls of marble lined with and the top studded with an array of glittering jewels. Tomb raiders have been tempted in the past, but it stands to reason the security here is fairly good. Additionally, this tomb located across a deep chasm from the road…thus serving its purpose of broadcasting the Dwarf’s wealth while remaining largely inaccessible. And perhaps the most arresting monument is actually a public one. It is a memorial to all those who have perished while traversing the nearby Adler mountains as well as final resting place for the dozens who have been found but never identified after the winter snows thaw. The tomb of the ‘unknowns’ as it is known is a simple polished granite structure, decorated with a few carved wreaths. The bronze statue to its left is the haunting image of a local woman, dressed in simple homespun cloth. She stares outward over the trees towards the highest peak of the range, holding up a single lantern lit with an Eternal Flame, as if waiting for her husband to come home. Officially, this place is called The Tomb of the Unknowns and the Eichenstark Mountaineers Memorial.

Several of the older tombs have started to crumble, especially those without living relatives to maintain them. It is one of the perils of building in a tectonically active region.

As one travels further outside the city, they see clearings, where farmers have cleared some of the forest to plant their crops.

Crossing over two rivers, the party comes to a fork in the road…where they find a small child sitting on the ground crying…Approaching the child, the party is startled discover that he is nothing but an illusion, and are dismayed to find themselves being pelted by rocks. It is an ambush…And the screaming yipping kobolds that are popping out of the woods do not mean them well at all.

In a brief but intense battle, the kobolds quickly find that they have bitten off more than they can chew. Several are pummeled to death the monks fists or cleaved into quarters by the dwarf’s longsword. Arrows and magic missiles fly. Soon, the kobolds are nothing but a warm pile of corpses on the side of the road. Looting the bodies, the party sets off on their way.

By evening, they have reached what appears to be a temple…but this one appears to be occupied by normal temple-like people doing their evening chores. In fact this is the multi-denominational New Temple that was built to replace the old one, abandoned many years ago. Approaching and introducing themselves, they are lead to the temple elder, an elf named Drusiphia who tells them about the situation. She conveys that the epicenter of the disturbances is in fact the old temple…but that the Gods have told them that this is not their business. Furthermore, she notes that the leader of the band…mostly orcs…is “at once a man, and sometimes a best…but at times both.” Finally, she gifts the party a party a map of the courtyard level of the ‘old temple’ as well as a box full of a dozen silver tinged arrows. She offers them a place to stay at the temple for the night…sending them off with a blessing. “The Median is the Path to Holiness…”

Tired by their first day of adventuring, the party falls asleep in the safety of this temple.

Today was gained 1000 xp. And approximately 300-500 gp worth of loot.

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