The Valley

Rewards and Resolutions

The party travels on from the clockwork base, heading toward the Hobgoblin encampment. They do experiment with the font of magic dust that they find, leaving the clockwork greataxe that Dougoon prised from one of his defeated foes to marinate in the sweet magical juices.

The party approaches the encampment noisily to avoid any semblance of trying to sneak up. The scouts recognise Gwyneth and show fear and deference and let the party pass. They are led to the hut of the hobgoblin leadership where they run into Zunnit a hobgoblin captain, a hobgoblin devastator and Ahmed Noke. Cronny breaks out in a musical number that literally charms his audience and catches them up on the going on since their warlord left, about the agreements made, the attack of the clockwork creatures and the going-on at the clockwork base. Dougoon is quite taken at the greatsword that Zunnit wields and gets his hands on it briefly, quenching the fires in the area upon grasping it.

Soon enough negotiations commence with the party attempting to get the Wand of True Polymorph from Noke, with Noke trying to get assurances of safety and compensation. He will not agree to come along with the party to restore Finethir, fearing his former master's wrath. Cronny boldly offers to take the wand from Noke, prompting a wild magic surge that summons a scourge of stirges. They are quickly dispatched, but the hut suffers greatly in the process. Cronny's use of Hypnotic Pattern being the key to this particular battle.

Eventually it is decided that Gwyneth will be given the wand in exchange for Noke being allowed to leave with his life intact. The ritual of transference is conducted and Noke flies off, with only a bolt in the bottom as punishment for his treachery and misdeeds. 

The party heads off towards Heathguardholt, where Finethir is being looked after by the Stedman family. On the way they stop by the clockwork base and collect Dougoon's axe which has gained magical properties but also been corrupted by a blood curse. Despite the others' efforts to dissuade him, Dougoon retains the axe as they arrive at their destination.

Cronny's performance gathers a bevy of fans as the party meets up with the Stedman clan. Freya points them toward the sheep paddock where Finethir is waiting. Gwyneth activates the wand and restores a somewhat grateful, but quite haughty wizard. Rewards are discussed and given, with Dougoon's axe being uncursed and Gwyneth being allowed to keep the wand after a tense moment. Finethir also tells the Artur of the last time that he saw his father, some twenty years ago, as he was on his way east towards the Anauroch as he had a lead on a clockwork servitor of Aarken the Clockwork Mage, someone knows as the Viceroy. Artur is also given a magical boon as one of his blades is ensorcelled to be particulary effective against clockwork creatures and other constructs.

The party retires to the Green Dragon Inn where Cronny buys the crowd a round of drinks. Gwyneth thanks them for their aid in recovering the wand and pays the party handsomely in coin and magical items. She tells them that she will return in two tendays to see about further employment, allowing the party a chance to look in on the goings on of Kriegar Haelt and Hearthguardholt.

 

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The Clock Strikes No More

After the party regroups, looks over their newly found treasures and ponders their newly won skills, they resume their assault upon the clockwork creatures. Through their explorations, they defeat their foes speedily, with little damage taken. Nor takes the brunt of the damage between being a front-line fighter as well as exploring a mysterious room filled with harmful gases. However, his new collar seems to help quite a bit and even he managed to complete the assault. Even two new types of clockwork soldiers, an abomination and an engineer, the latter of which seemed to have been building other clockwork beings, fell quickly.

In their investigations, they find strange miniature portals to some other realm through which tiny clockwork insects emerge, bearing the strange coloured gemstones which seem to be a part of the clockwork technology. They also discover a cabinet containing full and empty soul jars. Finally, the group discovers the grisly remains of beings captured by the clockwork army, including that of the Hobgoblin Warlord and Stent. Stent is buried with honours while the party prepares to take the warlord's body back to his encampment to fulfill the terms of their previous deal.

 

 

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The Fabulous Cronny Osman

Cronny Osman, fleeing the unwanted attention of one Kriegar Haelt over the affections of a woman, finds a job with the innkeeper of Khinoe's Braids, delivering a message to Dougoon with the aid of a finding stone. Cronny finds the group and unleashes the full force of his personality, instantly winning the adoration of Dougoon and Gwyneth, while Artur and Nor are a bit bemused at the One Direction-level fandom demonstrated by the two. After introductions are made and feelings setttle down somewhat, the party makes its way back towards the clockwork dungeon. 

Reentering the dungeon, Cronny finds a treasure chest that the party missed during its first foray. Soon after, the party enters the throne room from the front side, only to be met by the Clockwork Myrmidon and several Watchmen. Gwyneth occupies the Myrmidon while the party whittles down the others. This tactic proves successful and the party is triumphant and as they settle down to figure out their next step, Dougoon, in his rage charges through the door behind the throne, triggering another round of attacks. The battle is fought on two fronts, one where the Cloud of Daggers and an enlarged, raging Dougoon hold the line, while the rest of the group deals with the clockwork soldiers that attack from the back. The battle is pitched, but the party prevail relatively unscathed. 

A short rest and examination of found magic items ensues, soon to be followed by another venture into what the dungeon holds.

 

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Stent Tallman R.I.P.

The party ambushes the clockwork dogs and make short work of them, allowing them the freedom to explore the rest of the polished clockwork construction area. The passageway the hounds were guarding has several doors and ends in a strange chamber with a fountain that seems to be dripping a fine powder into a pool. 

Cop investigates the hallway and his keen senses pick up the sound of a struggle and screaming coming from the second door on the north. Opening the door, they discover the Hobgoblin Warlord in an oddly-shaped room dominated by what appears to be an operating theatre. There is a long table long enough to accommodate giant-sized humanoids. It sits about 5’ below the ledge that runs around the room (5’ wide) and is reached by a ramp that descends from the door. The floor is made up of crystalline tiles that have a faint pulsing glow. The table is made of brass with steel studs around the edge. Strange clockwork gears and devices spin on the sides of the table and are visible behind thick glass panels. Above the table is an array that has three pyramid-like crystals (pink, sky blue and orange). There is a control panel inset in the eastern wall by the entrance. The warlord is screaming as he is strapped to the table which is being operated by one of two Clockwork Watchmen in the room. 

A battle ensues in which the party is shut out of the chamber for the precious moments it takes for the warlord to meet a grisly end. Judging by the screams and some deciphering of the mechanisms lead the party to believe that the warlord's soul has been extracted and placed in a soul jar. Any attempts to restore the soul are hindered by Dougoon's destroying of the mechanisms in the room. Morot, the hobgoblin spellcaster who was accompanying the party expresses his dismay and anxiousness in trying to find a solution. 

The party investigates further, hoping to find another device, but their explorations lead to them nearly activating a room full of clockwork soldiers and actually activating a large type that they had not encountered before, a Clockwork Myrmidon as well as two Huntsmen. The battle was tough and drifted between a stand up fight and running for it. 

Morot fell first, leading the party to try and arrange their escape. The Myrmidon blocked Stent's escape and despite everyone's valiant efforts, Stent fell as the rest of the party escaped. The survivors hid in a clearing in the woods outside to formulate a plan, clutching the soul jar of the Hobgoblin Warlord. 

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The Mystery Deepens

While the rest of the party traveled with Gwyneth and the hobgoblins, Artur and Nor take care of their mission, escorting Finethir, in sheep form, to a safe place – Hearthguardholt. This halfling community is built into the side of a hill along the Greyflow river. It is surrounded by the beginnings of cleared farmland. Artur notes the presence of a small, literally, inn, a smithy and a general goods shop. Artur meets with Freya Stedman, the one-eyed halfling (due to an errant shot by Cop) who accompanied the party to Greyholme. Artur explains enough of Finethir's situation so that nothing tragic will happen and heads off, but not before he is beseeched by Freya to help their community with the trouble they are having with the herders and their ruffians led by Kriegar Haelt. 

Artur and Nor catch up with the party without incident and they head off to investigate where the Clockwork army has taken the Hobgoblin warlord. This rocky outcrop does not match the surrounding stones which are mostly weathered rocks and boulders. The exposed stone is different in colour and composition being composed or more sharp edges of shiny black, blue and green, as well as having strange crystals or metal glints shining through in a variety of colours. The entrance lies somewhat hidden between two knife-like planes of the strange stone, but once revealed is easy to spot. It is about 12’ wide and a bit taller than wide. Its edges are jagged, but not quite sharp enough to cut. 

The party enters the underground passage which corkscrews downward. Their keen senses keep them from being surprised by a group of clockwork watch spiders whom they dispatch expediently. The party explores the lairs of the spiders and surmise that they were originally used by watchmen armed with crossbows. They discover further evidence that this area was not created by the Clockwork army as they discover tents, a firepit and benches. 

Further exploration reveals a locked area which unleashes an overwhelming putrid olfactory wave of rotting flesh, which the party decides to leave be. They find a storeroom with some ale and oats, a two-person bedchamber with some coin and a magic die, and a luxirous bedchamber with several magic items (a crystal, a fan and a necklace) as well as some coin and valuable goods. The party also discovers a hidden tunnel that leads them to an area which is different than their explorations have uncovered so far.

Dougoon breaks through a stone-tile wall revealing a chamber which appears to be some sort of clockwork magic communication room. Attempts to discern the manner of its operation are futile, leading the party to do some further exploring, revealing two clockwork hounds whom the party lure into a trap…

 

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Attack of the Clockworks

The party resumes its adventures doing some quick shopping at Nendor's Nick Nacks, spending substantial portions of their collected wealth, before heading off with the Gwyneth and the Hobgoblin band back to their encampment. 

Along the journey Gwyneth again attempts to recruit them to be her hirelings. She reveals that she is in the area trying to loot dungeons and gather magical or other significant items for sale by her family. Stent rebuffs her firmly, while Cop leaves the door open to further negotiation. 

In the afternoon, the party spots the glint of metal and hears odd sounds of ticking. Quickly making defensive preparations, they are still not quite ready as a group of clockwork men appear from the woods and attack.

Shooting out nets made of a metallic mesh, these Clockwork automatons split into two groups, some attacking the party and others attacking the Hobgoblins. The party and Gwyneth hold their own despite Cop being wrapped up and having difficulty escaping. The hobgoblins seem to fare well at first, but as the battle unfolds, a second and larger group of enemies emerge. Two Clockwork Hounds occupy the party while the leader of the group and more of the net-shooting soldiers swarm the Hobgoblin warlord and soon carry him away along with two of his soldiers. The party manages to defeat their attackers, with Dougoon falling at the very end in confronting the Clockwork leader who explodes when struck down. Cop searches amidst the 'bodies' and discovers in addition to the metallic bodies and gears, each clockwork creation seems to have odd, magic-infused crystals and powdered minerals with which he is unfamilar. 

Cop sends his familiar winging off, trailing the captives to a odd outcrop in the woods. This rocky outcrop does not match the surrounding stone, being quite a bit different in colour and composition, as well as having strange crystals or metal glints shining through. The party has a quick rest and convinces Gwyneth and the only surviving Hobgoblin, their war mage, to mount a rescue operation. 

 

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Plans Within Plans

The party, other than Artur who spends his time catching up with Janessa, have a discussion in order to figure out their plans in regard to the goblin army and the Wand of True Polymorph. While there was a bit of confusion in regards to plans to make and what everyone's motivations are, the party comes to a decision. 

The party will play along with the hobgoblins' claims that they are being hunted down by clockwork beings and that they pose a threat that they must find allies to combat. They will return to the goblins' encampment in exchange for Noke being returned back to Greyholme. They accommodate Gwyneth in that they agree to help her repair the wand. 

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Cougars and Wolves and Plotting, oh my!

The party returns to Greyholme with no difficulty. Stent immediately hides himself away in his room at The Braids with Finethir, locking the door and not allowing anyone to enter. Any entreaties aimed his way are met with incoherent and perhaps drunken muttering of "Never again" and "Go away."

The rest of the party catches Dougoon, who has recovered from his sunlight-induced migraines, up with their adventures and the increasingly complex situation in which they find themselves. Urjallet, a oddly black and grey complected dragonborn approaches Dougoon and asks about him. She asks if he is on the surface world on the business of Clan Whitestone. She is drawn to him based upon the tattoos and markings that are prominent on his skin. After the others go to bed, Dougoon is approached by Gwyneth Brokengulf who mentions that she would like to talk to the party about something important and arranges to meet with them for dinner the following night. 

Cop and Artur head to Nendor's Nick Nacks and meet Deed Nendor, a non-descript woman who runs a shop that has all manner of things for sale, seeming to specialise in goods that can only found in the Underdark, but has a wide selection of goods that seem too much for a relatively small settlement like Greyholme. They are told that the shop provides all the goods that are seen as well as 'special' items that can be procured for a price. Artur manages to purchase the herbs and other things he will need in order to bring Nor back from the dead. They also discover that the stock animals from the caravan they escorted have moved on, as well as the farmers and their families. 

Artur is able to procure the breastplate he ordered from Janessa Flameheart, paying the remaining coin that was owed and inviting the older dwarven woman to dinner as agreed. This leads to a dinner date between the two at The Braids where Artur gains some insight into the feelings and life of Janessa. She is middle-aged for a dwarf and has lived apart from her clan for quite some time. She is surprised that Artur actually responded to her advances and reveals a vulnerable side, as well as impressive muscles in her evening attire, which leads to some sort of connection between the two. They also report to Khyrael of their finding of the goblin encampment and make arrangements to gain aid in conducting a raid to finish the threat off once and for all. 

Dinner with Gwyneth is interesting in other ways. She hints at wanting Finethir in order to 'fix' the Wand of True Polymorph. She intimates that the wand is somewhat defective and the Noke claims that the only one who can repair it is Finethir. She wishes to make an exchange, Finethir for some 'interesting' items that the party may find useful. She demonstrates a great deal of knowledge about the party's goings on, particularly when it comes to their attack on the goblin encampment. She also hints that the party may run into the goblins sooner than they expect.

The next day, the party proceeds to the High Forest in order to resummon Nor. The ritual goes without incident, though the whole affair takes two days. Nor returns, smells an unfamiliar scent upon Artur, but their relationship is restored quickly enough.

Upon their return to Greyholme, they try to meet with Khyrael but are met with an unusual sight. There is a group of hobgoblins outside the great hall. The party is invited inside where they are invited to participate in a conference that is taking place between Gwyneth, Warlord Ghist of the goblins, and Jhord and Khyrael. Ghist has arrived with the body of a humanoid clockwork automaton and is claiming that the threat posed by these things is what is driving them to attack. He claims that his people are being hunted and captured by these constructs and that are having difficulty driving them away and are seeking an alliance. The party is asked to corroborate the warlord's story after the warlord is offered accommodation within the town.

The party is now faced with a choice. What do they decide to in regard to allying with the goblins and what do they do in regard to revealing Gwyneth's machinations, in light of her family's rivalry with Jhord's. Also, how drunk and paranoid has Stent become, and who wants to go into that room to view the unspeakable acts that have taken place…

 

 

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A Wand-ering we will go

As the party recovers from their battle at Aldarbar, a chastened Nor returns from his pursuit of Noke with shards of glass covering his entire body. Cop quickly ascertains that Nor was likely polymorphed into something tiny, trapped in a glass vial and left while Noke ran off. When the spell wore off, a painful regaining of size ensued.

Nor was able to communicate to the party the path that Noke had taken and after some discussion, they set off again with Finetheir the sheep in tow. Cop's familiar finally was able to stay focused on a task and spotted faint wisps of smoke off in the distance, giving the party a clue as to where Noke may have fled. 

Following Noke's tracks along the forest path led to the party discovering a point in which Noke crossed paths with a group of goblinoids and a mysterious humanoid, Cop's suspicions immediately leaning toward the cloaked figure from the caravan raids. Finding no signs of battle, the party pursued the group as the raven scouted ahead once more.

The raven reported back of the goblinoid encampment at the base of a waterfall. Around the camp were several treetop watchposts, both along the cliff face and down below. Steps leading from the cliff top led past a cave before reaching the main settlement. The only guarded structure was a large semi-permanent pavilion tent.

Sneaking up on the watchtowers and killing the guards went very well as Cop's sleep spell incapacitated several of the goblin watchers, allowing Stent and Artur to assault the surprised guards. However, the attempt to sneak past the bugbears in the cave did not go as well, as the ambush the party planned was cut short by their bait, Nor, being cut down. A pitched battle ensued in which the party managed to defeat the bugbears and their chief, with the timely aid of Artur's sister, but were wounded and spent.

The party decided to make haste back to Greyholme to report their findings.

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A Baaaaaaaad Trip
As the party tries to rescue Finethir Shinebright

As the party recovers from their battle with Finethir's pursuers, they question the transformed mage to determine how they can help him. The sheep baaaaables a bit about leading them to his home, rewarding the party with the magics at his disposal, and that there are guards that will have to be dealt with.

The party scouts ahead and discovers Aldarbar hidden in a bushy hollow in the forest. Cop and his raven scout ahead but the raven gets distracted by a crow and they fly off to take care of some bird business. Sheepishly, Cop sneaks into the hollow and discovers the nature of Finethir's home. 

There were three outbuildings, including two barracks and an outhouse. The main structure consisted of three main buildings that seem to have been grown from living oak trees rather than built, with walls crafted from interwoven branches and leaves. The entrance was in a raised open garden. A walkway connected this to the largest building, with a second walkway leading to the highest and smallest building.

Three apes were monkeying around on the lawn, gambling with dice, with greatswords close at hand. As Cop watched, a brown bear emerged from the outhouse, answering that age old question. 

Cop reported his findings back to the others, quickly forumlating a plan. Finethir hid in the bushes while Cop snuck back down. Using his mage hand, he attempted to trick the apes into thinking that one of their number was stealing from the others, but was not subtle enough. This led to money being thrown up in the air to fall like rain and a shout of alarm being raised. The apes rushed around and spotted Cop in the bushes and a fight ensued.

The apes were quickly dispatched, but the brown bear and Finethir's apprentice and now master of Aldarbar appeared and they proved to be tougher fores. Noke hasted the bear, who mauled Cop badly, before falling to Stent and Artur. Noke, angered, called into his room for help and started raining magic down upon the party.

Wall-climbing and jumping and bashing of doors resulted in the party entering the main building of Aldarbar, only to be met by an outlandish creature the likes of which the party had never seen, a bed dragon. It's splintery breath proved nearly deadly for Artur, but the party managed to trap it in the main building whilst Stent chased after Noke. Noke hasted himself and leapt down to the ground and started to run away with Nor in hot pursuit. The bed dragon managed to eventually break down the doors keeping it trapped and started to chase the party around the grounds. Stent made a heroic leap down from the upper walkway and like a mightiest of lumberjack, split the dragon from head to tail.

Nor, meanwhile, eventually caught up with Noke, but due to some polymorph magic, any connection he had with Artur was cut off and his fate, uncertain. In the meantime, the party rested and searched Aldarbar. A few potions and coins and another scroll of speak with animals was the extent of their discoveries. The scroll did allow Finethir to express his gratitude for the party's help, but also the knowledge that the Wand of True Polymorph was nowhere to be found.

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