Arkose

Picking Up the Plot

Puzzles and explosions

Having successfully saved the Fortress Citadel of Garhlyn from the manic clutches of Zik Rockscrap, what did Moravia’s Most Wanted do? They of course immediately offered to play a show at Rockscrap’s reasonably-guaranteed execution following his upcoming trial. In the meanwhile, though, gotta pay them bills! Some reminder text sent the party scurrying after a mysterious crafter known simply as “The Smith,” who had created an insane justice-seeking sword in the party’s possession.

Dredgeknuckle, by now well established as a jumping off point for quests in the area, acknowledged that he knew about the Smith and usually tried to dodge the subject, but liked the MMW and so offered what he knew with a hearty dose of caution. The Smith was a reclusive artificer who used to engage in open trade with Garlhyn in times long since past – creating many weapons for the Fortress-Citadel, not the least of which was in fact Zash, Council Chamber Defender, Ramrider and Overall Badass. At some point, due to unknown causes, the Smith started getting progressively darker and nuttier, and so the Fortress-Citadel broke off relations. As far as Dredgeknuckle knew, he was still holed up in his well-booby trapped lair up the river to the northwest.

The conference with Dredgeknuckle plus a quick visit to Zash revealed merely that the Smith had a sadistic sense of humor, was really good at making defenses, could construct Constructs that could pass for organics, and – in a surprising but understandable twist – that Zash himself was actually created from the husk of the Fortress-Citadel’s founder. The baddest dudes in town decided it was time to shove and headed back to Kord’s Blade.

Docked immediately adjacent to the Blade was an enormous galley with a single cocksure elf on deck – a bounty hunter (probably?) intending to make good on the ACTUAL bounty posters posted up looking for the party. He seemed confident in his success, boasting that he’d convinced the hapless goblin manservant, Gobbers, to switch out the ballast on Kord’s Blade with explosives. He demanded that the team throw down our arms, secure ourselves in chains, and then surrender ourselves.

Trip’s ability to speak Goblin and confer with Gobbers – who claimed he’d outsmarted the elf on the ship and switched the ballast onto the bounty hunter’s ship – and his magical intuition to note that the ballast actually didn’t have any illusions woven onto it – led him to encourage the crew to cast off, belligerently ignoring the bounty hunter’s demands. The elf, amazed and frustrated, called for the ballast to be detonated – and his own ship went up in a huge explosion. Dwarven guards arrived and were assuaged with booze and an impromptu set played by Moravia’s Most Wanted. With that, they set off in search of the Smith.

A day and a half’s jaunt down the river led them to a thick cord stretched across the river, some 60 feet wide. An inspection on the shore revealed that the cord was not attached to a rock as was originally surmised, but was actually PART of a horrible, horrible operatic, rhyming sining roper. The roper – a denizen of the Underdark trapped in place and reinforced by the Smith, taunted the uninvited guests with song and rape. A fierce battle eventually saw our heroes win the day, but not without sustaining some serious abrasions and engaging in horrible singing of their own.

The river’s dangers weren’t yet completed – a ridiculously well hidden waterfall nearly demolished the ship, but our heroes saw through the veil of illusion in the nick of time and docked the boat before setting forth towards the Smith’s base – an eerie nuclear-reactor-looking structure far below in the valley where the waterfall descended.

The path on foot was no less perilous. The path leading down the cliff past the waterfall was trapped with fire spouts that were cleared only after the Most Wanted deciphered an alphabetical riddle etched in dwarven runes. Their success yielded confetti – creepy quantities of confetti.

The next trap was a bridge – a bridge protected not just with a coin slot toll, but also with magnetic animated chains. But it’s not like the bridge was labelled with all that information. No no no. We had to figure that out. There was some bruising involved. But still!

Past the bridge was a more nefarious piece of work a sign that simply read ‘Please wipe feet before entering.’ We got past it, but we had to do something that I’m not proud of. I certainly won’t repeat it here. My mother might find this, you know?

The episode concluded with our heroes nearing the front door of the ominous structure…

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