In our previous installment, the party successfully cleared out the necromancers at Fellglow Keep and survived their second dragon encounter. The players report back to Arvanell that the keep has been cleared out and secured. They inform Arvanell of the strange shrine that they found and (in an uncharacteristic lapse of good judgement) make the wise decision to hand over the black book they found so that it can be destroyed. Arvanell initially shrinks back from the thing, recognizing its evil. But then finally takes it so he can make sure it is destroyed.
He tells them that he will move out to the keep immediately and begin to secure the location as a base for them all to work out of. He says he intends to put a variety of wards up to keep out unwanted elements, however he can key the wards to recognize them so they can come and go as they please. He requests a sample of blood from each of the party members in order to do this. Nobody objects so they all provide the sample. He then says they are at their leisure for now and to report to the keep in a week for further instructions.
In the meantime, Sampson decides to go back to Riverwood to spend some time studying the Dragon Wall (and to learn the Word of Power). And as Lizette is still in Riverwood, spends some quality time with her. The three spellcasters decides to go back to the College of Winterhold to begin research on a new spell that is designed to help give them some advanced warning regarding any dragons that may zero in on Bob’s location at inopportune times.
Detect Dragon Focus
Level: Sor/Wiz 2, Druid 2
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch/ 1 mile per level
Target: 1 Dragonborn
Duration: ten minutes/level
The caster casts this spell on a willing Dragonborn. Utilizing the same mystical beacon that attracts dragons to the Dragonborn the spell reaches out from the Dragonborn seeking any dragons currently aware of and focused on the Dragonborn. If such a wyrm is within the range of this spell it alerts the caster with an affirmative response and the caster becomes aware of how far the dragon is from the Dragonborn. As this information would constantly update, it is possible to determine how long it will be before the dragon arrives. It does not provide any other information such as type of dragon, age, or direction. Only that there is one and how quickly it will arrive. It will also not detect a dragon that has not focused on the Dragonborn through his or her bloodline.
After a week, the players regroup and journey out to the keep to see how things are going with Arvanell. The exterior of the keep looks the same as they left it (in ruins). But when they step inside the keep, the interior looks completely refurbished. Though they are curious how he managed to completely remodel the interior by himself, nobody questions him as he greets them in the main hall (still wearing his robes, but not wearing the armor beneath them) and gives them a tour of their new base. Each player has his own room and private study, but will need to furnish the rooms themselves. He also reminds them that any furnishings they want to do they will need to be able to do themselves, as they can’t have craftspersons out at the keep for security reasons.
Arvanell makes dinner for everyone and discusses their next mission during the meal.
He says that his research requires an original copy of the book Battle of Sancre Tor. The book details then-general Talos’ assault on the fortress of Sancre Tor and how Talos used guile to assault the supposedly impenetrable fortress in the dead of winter. The original version was written shortly after the events in the 2nd Era. Modern versions of the events are a glamorized retelling that focus on Talos’ cunning and heroism. But Arvanell believes the original contains more nuts-and-bolts information on exactly how Talos got into the fortress.
The spellcasters realize that the Arcadium has an original copy (as they have seen it under a locked glass case in the rare books collection.) but nobody mentions this to Arvanell (as they don’t really want to get the librarian angry!) Fortunately, Arvanell thinks he knows where there might be a copy: Hamvir’s Rest. The old tomb is the final resting place of a 3rd era court wizard who collected ancient books. It’s believed he was buried with his entire collection. The mission is to go to Hamvir’s Rest and retrieve any old books there.
In the morning, Arvanell provides breakfast for the party (they out of character note that they are starting to feel spoiled). They decide to stop in Whiterun first so Sampson, Grog, and Bob can check in with the Companions. When they arrive, Aela shoves a letter at Samson with a comment about not being his personal secretary. It’s a love letter from Lizette, who has moved to the Bannered Mare in Whiterun. She then notes that Kodlak has been looking for them.
They find Kodlak, Skjor, and Vilkas in a heated discussion, but they stop as the players approach. Kodlak jokes that it is nice of them to show up for work, since he has a job for them. They received word of bandits that have been particularly vicious as of late, not just robbing caravans but brutalizing the travelers. Go out to the Silver Moon camp and deal with them.
While it’s not exactly on the way to Hamvir’s Rest, the party decides to go handle that situation first as it is the more immediate problem. Bob decides to scout ahead to see how many are in the base. Unfortunately, he doesn’t check for traps while stealthing up, and plummets into a spiked pit trap! He’s caught by surprise that the bandits would bother with a pit trap out in an open field, but more shocked when he realized the pit spikes are tipped in…silver. As a Silver Hand assassin leans over he pit and fires silver-tipped arrows at him, he realizing this whole thing was a trap! (Gee, ya think?)
[Annnnnndddddddd roll initiative…]
The combat is complicated by the entrenched positions of the Silver Hand and the traps that litter the field. The party eventually is able to turn the tide of battle before losing any of their own [Sampson had been reduced to one hit point and Bob was in single digits himself].
No sooner than they defeat the Silver Hand, however, do they realize that Bob’s use of the Thu’um has attracted the interest of a nearby dragon. Spent and injured, they hide in the ruined structure of the Silver Moon camp and wait for the dragon to fly off.
After the dragon leaves, they loot the Silver Hand and check out the base, which is an ancient forge. It seems odd to have a forge out in the middle of nowhere, but as night falls and the moon shines through the opening in the ruins, the forge begins to glow with a strange white light. They also notice a couple of weapons lying around the forge begin to glow as well. Unsure what the weapons actually do, Sampson and Bob decide to identify the enchantment in proper Nord fashion…by stabbing each other with them!
The party has discovered the Lunar Forge, and the Lunar longsword and lunar dagger deal fire damage under moonlight.
They rest for the night and then resume their journey. As they travel, they come across a battered wagon. The wagon belongs to the East Empire Trading Company and was traveling to Whiterun when it was sacked. Because of the war, bandits in the region have grown bold and have been hitting East Empire caravans, so the merchants tried to disguise their shipment as a normal farmer wagon. Obviously, that plan didn’t work and the bandits left them for dead and took the horses and loot.
Being proper adventuring heroes (and liking the additional promise of a reward for the return of the goods), the party decides to track down the bandits after helping the East Empire merchants heal up a little and recover. They track the bandits back to a cave, where they find two Khajiit sitting outside the cave consuming skooma and cracking jokes.
Sampson decides to try to talk to the Khajiit first, since the merchants had said the bandits were Nords. The Kahjiit enthusiastically welcome the party to sit with them and chat. The party cautiously approaches while Sampson asks if the Khajiit know anything about the bandit attack on the caravan.
“Oh, no,” says Sha’cheem. “Kahjiit are not bandits. Kahjiit are thieves.”
The party look back and forth at each other, not sure how to respond to that. Sampson asks if they know where the bandits are. Sha’cheem says that they are in the cave. The bandits would not allow him and his friend Mijah to rest in the cave with them, but seemed content with allowing them to camp outside the cave. Bob scratches his head and asks if they are thieves, why haven’t they stolen anything from the bandits.
“Sha’cheem likes you, so Sha’cheem will share. Kahjiit will steal from the bandits, soon. Kajiit sold bandits some very strong skooma, so as soon as the bandits fall asleep, Kahjiit will take what they want.”
Sampson informs Sha’cheem that he can’t exactly just let them take any of the caravan loot. “Oh, this is fine,” says Sha’cheem. “Sha’cheem does not want to carry heavy cargo. Kahjiit will only take coins and gems.” Sha’cheem looks to the sky to check the position of the sun, then says the bandits should be asleep by now. Amused by the entire situation, the party go into the cave with the Kahjiit to find the bandits all passed out on skooma. Sha’cheem and Mijah rob the bandits of any gems and coin they have, leaving the East Empire cargo to the party.
The party asks how they could get in touch with them in the future, and Sha’cheem says thay since he likes the players, he will tell his friends in the Kahjiit caravans to do business with them, and if they ever find themselves in Riften, to come down to the Ragged Flagon in the Ratway. Perhaps they can do business.
The party ties up the bandits, reclaims the East Empire cargo, and also finds among the left over treasure a very expensive-looking pendant that has the seal of House Battle-Born etched on the back. They catch up with the merchants and escort them to Riverwood, where the local guards take the bandits into custody.