Chapter 08: The Threat of the Wet

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Session Number: 61
Date: Sunday 1 August 2010
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr7 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Emily Ftr3/Rog5 (Densial) (kills: none)
Feren Rog8 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal8 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz8 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

So… continue at the fort, or go to the dam? It has been raining, perhaps that fact is connected to Lucrecia's letter. Vale says that following the track to Skull's Crossing is a ten mile journey - about a half-day trek. Arrian restates his case that the group's highest priority must be the threat against Turtleback Ferry.

Troll outfits Jakardros and Vale with imithrium weapons.

Elondel cannot hear or see anything at the portal. Arrian steps through with a lit sunrod, finding nothing out of the ordinary. The others follow and set up a perimeter. Rowaine and Jakardros depart on Harley. They feel her ascending in a spiral, then she bursts out of the stone. Immediately the trio are hammered by huge, pelting rain, limiting visibility and soon making them wet and cold. Jakardros can see a scant 300 yards in the deluge and is struggling to get his bearings, but finally nods and says that they are in the mountains west of the keep. "The river is that way," he says. Rowaine points Harley's nose in the direction of Jakardros' arm, flying closer to the ground so as not to lose their way.

Harley flies over the river ninety minutes later. Her riders are now quite cold. "At this pace," Jakardros yells over the rain's cadence, "we should be at Skull's Crossing in two to three hours." Rowaine tells Harley to follow the river until the water steps up abruptly, and the stone flyer dives underground. With no external stimulus, the underground journey is disconcertingly quiet as Harley maintains a fairly steady heading. Jakardros nods off behind Rowaine for a time. Rowaine senses Harley's more frequent direction changes, then they exit at pace into the driving rain. About thirty feet below them is a wide body of water. Rowaine cannot at first see the other side. Jakardros draws her attention to the left. Rowaine can make out something, around two hundred yards away, barely visible through the rain. She nudges Harley in its direction for a closer look.


As the distance diminishes the pair see an immense stone arc slightly above the waterline. At its centre is a building with an oddly lumpy roof.

"Welcome to Skull's Crossing," Jakardros shouts. "We're upstream. You should see it from the other side."

"Hang on!"

At Rowaine's direction Harley performs a wingover and accelerates towards the bank they emerged from. She hits the surface at full speed, much to Jakardros' horror. Rowaine smiles to herself. They exit two hundred yards downstream of the dam.


It is from this angle that the enormous scale of the dam finally hits. The stone arc is nearly three hundred feet high and fully spans the eight hundred foot wide canyon. Five huge stone skulls adorn the dam's surface, the largest one in the centre easily fifty feet high. A portion of the dam's right side has broken away and water cascades over the far right skull. The flyers are too far away to clearly see any figures. Jakardros says that the dam likely has some sort of floodgate system to cope with excess water - perhaps the skulls? The stone beneath the skulls is discoloured, as if from running water.

Harley flies towards the building in the centre of the dam, gaining altitude. As she crests the dam's top, they see two more breaks in the left half. They do not fully breach the integrity of the dam and do not let water through. Harley tracks overhead the building then along the left, eastern half. The building's roof resembles a pile of 5-6 huge stone skulls.

"Have you been here before?" Rowaine asks Jakardros.

"Yes, many years ago. Skull's Crossing is very much the mystery of this area. It's old, that much we know, but no one knows quite how old. It certainly predates absolutely everything in this area." Jakardros peers over Rowaine's shoulder, then grasps her forearm. "Ogres!"

Rowaine sees the two ogres that Jakardros has spotted, slamming their huge hooks into the broken stonework on the eastern span. The sound of their labour doesn't quite carry to the airborne scouts. The ogres are rather close to the chasm they appear to have created - might they be helped over the edge, falling to the water nearly three hundred feet below? Tempting… but Jakardros suggests discretion. They fly away, the ogres still intent on their work. Rowaine and Jakardros plan the return journey, Earth Gliding to avoid the horrid weather and following the east bank of the river as it flows northeast. They agree to each estimate two hours, then get Harley to surface and get their bearings.

Rowaine is the first to get to two hours. She urges Harley upwards. Rowaine looks behind her expectantly once they have emerged. "I don't recognise this place,", Jakardros says with furrowed brow. "Let's continue on a bit." After ten minutes they break surface again and Jakardros indicates that he knows their location. "The path to the fort is about three quarters of an hour farther on."

The scouts remain above ground. After a miserable two hours they approach Fort Rannick. Harley dives and they rejoin the others, telling them of their findings at Skull's Crossing. It is now around 4pm. Rowaine and Jakardros each avail themselves of Elondel's services for a well-deserved hot bath. Once they return the party use this new intelligence to discuss their options. Jakardros comments that the dam is holding back a lot of water. Troll thinks they have to stop the ogres at the dam before they rupture the whole thing. Arrian gets Elondel to fashion wet-weather gear for the group. The party's full strength is needed - how quickly can they all get there? Walking the known track could easily take 6-7 hours, a plan that Arrian points out may not be the smartest in existence. The party could fly due south over the mountains to the coast by means of Harley and Troll's Greater Disc, a trip of roughly two hours. But with only one one Disc available, each trip could only take four people, of which a minimum of two (Rowaine and Troll) would have to make the return journey. Not to mention trying to find the fort - possibly requiring the services of one of the rangers? Assuming Rowaine and Troll manage to negotiate the return legs by themselves, it would take five legs to transport eight people, taking ten hours - longer than the duration of Troll's spell. And then there's the walk around the coast to the dam.

"Rowaine, you saw the dam," says Troll. "Are the ogres going to breach it tonight?"

"I don't know. It's a massive structure…"

Vale speaks. "If the dam has stood for who knows how long, it must be pretty sturdy. The new damage could be wearing away at it, and knowing how much water it holds back, the water level won't be going down any time soon - especially with the rain. It's hard to say… I would probably back the strength of the dam and say it won't fall apart any time soon."

What to do? Walk through the night and risk being caught in a deluge? Or get there safely and face ogres at night? Take some people tonight, then finish off tomorrow morning? Fly at first light tomorrow? Does that pose an unacceptable risk to the people of Turtleback Ferry? There is no easy choice.

"There is no point going tonight if we're not going to attack them," says Troll. "We may as well stay here where it's comfortable. We're either in a hurry, or we're not."

The party eventually decide to go to the dam at first light tomorrow. "While we're waiting," says Arrian, "we may as well check out the keep!"

That settled, the party light up some sunrods and navigate through the shocker lizard caverns to the secret door into the keep proper. The door doesn't look tampered with and the room beyond seems quiet. Feren opens the door quietly. The bed is still perched beside the door opposite, and the overturned stools and table seem to be untouched. Arrian investigates the cells and sees Lucrecia's form at the other end. The bloody footsteps are still there.

Feren climbs the stairs and finds the door at the top wide open. He is fairly sure the group left it closed. He carefully retraces his steps. At Arrian's advice he returns upstairs and closes the door. The others then follow. Feren gingerly opens the door and peers into the torch-lit corridor. He notices one of the double doors at the end of corridor is slightly ajar. Arrian opens the door to the infirmary with Rowaine in support. They are met with the same scene of carnage as before. Feren peeks around the corner and confirms that it is clear; the body still lies at the foot of the stairs. He hears ogre-like voices from further down the corridor. He crosses the corridor and listens at the door opposite but hears nothing. He opens the door, revealling a narrow room with an upset table and benches. Bookshelves line the walls with many books that look as if they have roughly rummaged through. At the word "books" Troll's elven ears perk up and he enters the room. He casts Detect Magic but senses none. The far corner of the room is not square; in the wall is a sturdy oaken door with a keyhole. Feren exits and listens at the next door along the corridor while Troll pages through the books. He identifies a variety of atlases, bestiaries, and volumes documenting the Black Arrow's history. Arrian, Rowaine and Feren hold their current positions while Emily listens at the library door. Arrian returns and searches the door before trying to opening it. The door is unlocked and opens into a circular room with a ladder attached to the opposite wall. There is a trapdoor in the ceiling at the top of the ladder. Arrian recalls everyone back into the library and closes door. Emily and Feren sneak into the circular room, then Feren quietly climbs up the ladder. He listens at the trapdoor, hearing the drumming of rain. Water drips down the walls, seeping into the floor. Feren opens the trapdoor and it falls noisily on the other side of its hinges. Rain splashes on his face and shoulders as he looks around at the circular battlements, open to the elements. He climbs out, creeping towards the half-door in the battlements' southern arc. Beyond the door is a straight rampart that terminates in another similar circular tower. The canyon wall is at Feren's back. He sees the fort's inner walls and tower. Feren looks back down at the trapdoor, figuring the ogres would find it an awkward climb and a very uncomfortable squeeze to get up here. The battlements are cut at an angle, offering an excellent field of view (and fire) on the grounds below. He cannot see any ogres or other movement outside. The rain continues to pelt down and the grounds below are very muddy. Arrian asks if he can see any smoke; Feren responds that the only smoke visible is coming from the larger open structure next to the outer curtain to the southeast. Feren thinks about checking the other towers, but Arrian and Troll convince him to return. All exit and go back to the corridor, closing the doors behind them. Troll is careful to stay away from any opening doors because he knows there are ogres here! Feren returns to the last door he listened at and opens it. There is a small room beyond, with an overturned bed, a small table and chair.

"What's behind the doors to the west?" Arrian asks Jakardros in a low whisper.

"The mess hall and kitchen."

The party continue towards the ajar door, Feren in the lead. Deep voices can be heard, squabbling. Feren slips on some blood and his rapier's hilt scrapes against the stone wall. The voices immediately stop. There is a hushed argument between two different voices, followed by the thump, thump, thump of very heavy footsteps approaching…


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