Chapter 2: RedRiver
Borden leads the party and the knights of lakewood south of Ket Keep for a day, arriving at a series of natural rock tower-like formations that jut from the forest floor, hidden by a thick forest.
Borden refers to these rock formations as “The Honeycomb” due to the series of interconnected caves and tunnels that are perfect for hiding. While Basil’s forces scout the Honeycomb and set up camp, you are led by Borden into a room where Basil waits with a female elf and a human at a table.
The elf steps forward and addresses Radcliffe: “My name is Jendril. I am an advisor to the elven council of Brennevin. A week ago I travelled with your uncle Bez’rin from Lakewood south towards the border of Verma. Your uncle undertook an extremely dangerous missing over the border to the town of RedRiver. Baron Rottli claimed that Tyn sacked Redriver and burnt it to the ground, precipitating this war. The elves must remain neutral if this is the case. However, if Bez’rin finds proof that Rottli is lying, we can convince the elven council to aid Tyn.”
“I was to wait on the north side of the river well away from the border. Your uncle was to remain in contact with a whispering wind spell. I never heard back from your uncle, and I fear he may have been captured or worse.”
Basil interrupts at this point, pushing the table out of the way to clear room for his girth as he stands up:
“I’m not happy that you can’t assist us in arming the people of Lakewood immediately, but if you must find your uncle, well I respect that you are honor bound to do so. Gaining access to Verma is a dangerous prospect in this time of war. This gentleman with me is Earl Hillibrand, cousin to the regent’s father, former Grand Duke of Tyn.”
The man stands up. He is tall, blond clean-shaven, short haired man with a thin, girlish build. He offers his hand and you realize it is indeed the hand of a nobelman, probably never worked a day in his life. His shortsword looks largely ornamental. Although ostensibly a nobelman, he wears clothes that could pass for a middle class merchant, good quality but low key.
The Earl speaks:
“Basil mentioned that you are heading south. You can ride with me as far as the Iron Hills. I travel to parlay with the Dwarves at the Bloomery- it’s a dwarven fortress. Well, part fortress, part trading post, part forge. I have two extra ponies that you can use to ride with me. We should be there in three days. Once there, I will offer the ponies to the dwarves as a gift, but you may be able to find passage downriver to the village of Redriver, or what’s left of it…”
Sometime later on the journey:
The Bloomery is the main source of Tholian steel in the entire region. Before the war broke out, most of that steel went downriver from the Bloomery to Pallmoor Gates. It still does, except now instead of selling it to Tyn, they are selling it to the new occupiers of Pallmoor Gates, Verma. I plan to make the dwarves an offer they can’t refuse, to place an embargo on Verma and send that steel north to us.
The party journeys south out of the western forests across the southern plains of Tyn towards the iron hills. The party skirts a battle miles in the distance where forces of Tyn are being overwhelmed by a larger Vermese force. The group reaches the foothills of the Iron Hills and proceeds through the Skree Pass to the southern edge of the mountains. The group encounters two dwarves who welcome the party to the land but emphasise that the dwarves have no interest in the war.
As the skree pass leads to the southern foothills, the Bloomery comes into view. The bloomery is a squat, odd shaped fortress-like structure that juts from the side of a mountain like an iron toe. Smelting tanks are visible from the outide, and a flume runs from the mountain over the building, powering a water wheel that is half exposed and half recessed into a section of the structure.
At first, the sounds of forging metal are presumed to be heard from inside as the party approaches, but soon something is determined to be clearly wrong. The main doors to the building are open, and a large cart driven by two oxen in wedged in the doors. The sounds of hammering metal are actually battle sounds.
The party tentatively proceeds into the Bloomery, quickly finding two dead dwarves and a dead goblin inside. Soon, a mass of onrushing humanoids is seen rushing the entrance from down the path. Clinton manages to get the oxen to drag the cart inside while the rest of the party closes and bars the heavy iron doors.
The party heads north into a central chamber, following the sounds of battle. The central room is a octagonal chamber with tracks running into different chambers for transporting ore carts. The party assists a bald dwarf with a tightly tied beard, who is assaulted by three hobgoblins and manages to vanquish the humanoids, but the dwarf is knocked unconscious in the process.
A loud BOOM is heard (a dwarf has collapsed the tunnel leading into the mountain, standard protocol in a surprise attack to stop attackers from reaching the dwarven tunnels).
Sounds of battle come from rooms to the east and west, reverberating through the iron walls. The party proceeds to the west, into a forge chamber where a dwarf battles a hobgoblin, a large bugbear, and a human female. Again the party is able to dispatch these foes, but the dwarf smith dies in the battle.
The party backtracks to the eastern chamber, the part of the building containing the lower portion of the water wheel. In this room, a bugbear has two goblins chained to himself, and is using them to torment a fat greasy dwarf, Bobin. A fierce battle ensues, with hobgoblins outside attempting to enter the Bloomery from the water wheel. Eventually the room is cleared, and Bobin leads the group to the main tower, where he is able to control a defensive device known as the “steam cannon”, which he uses to scald and scatter the hobgoblins outside.
After the battle, the party questions the human female, Renda, who provides little useful information, but clearly enabled the humanoids to gain access to the Bloomery by posing as a peasant selling mead. Earl Hillibrand notes that Tyn in in luck. With the humanoids moving to attack the bloomery, he is likely to not only get their consent to an embargo on Verma, but may even get their assistance in battle.
The dwarves provide the party with fine quality weapons and armor of their choosing as a reward, along with a rowboat. The party uses the boat to proceed down the River Red towards the village of RedRiver, passing the marshy fens and the Gray Wood overnight.
As morning arrives, a fog sets in. Through the fog, horse galloping can be heard. The party beaches the boat along the banks just as a young man in Vermese armor and two mounted Vermese scouts break through the fog. The horsemen appear to be chasing the footman.
The horsemen attack the party and are routed. The young man is revived after being knocked out and introduces himself as Derek. Derek was a Vermese conscript originally from Red River. Derek was part of a group of soldiers tasked with capturing the villagers weeks ago and trading them into slavery to the humanoids in return for their help in battle. Derek refused to attack his own village and abandoned his unit, and has been hiding ever since.
Derek leads the group to a view of RedRiver, which has been completely wiped out. Every building made of wood has been removed, but not burnt as Rottli claimed to the elves. Only a few stone structures remain: the temple, now used as a barracks, the armory, where prisoners are being kept, and a small coliseum built into a hill.
Derek leads the group to the foundation of an abandoned windmill miles outside of town, where a cluster of a dozen former villages have been hiding out. A town elder claims that Rottli raised taxes after a bad spring where new crops failed to take. The mayor refused to pay the additional taxes, and the Vermese army sacked the town. The buildings were then dismantled and used to create barges which were used to float the Baron’s army across the River Red for a surprise attack on Pallmoor Gates in Tyn. This allowed the Vermese to achieve complete surprise as no boats were moved upriver where Tyn could spot them.
The party and townspeople devise a plan to free prisoners from the armory and steal a remaining barge across the river to escape. The party proceeds at night, but the plan falls victim to bad luck and Derek is killed. Re-inforcements start arriving and the paladin and halfling are forced to hold off guards while Radcliffe and Clinton manage to gain access to the armory and free the prisoners (including BezRin) after battling the captain of the guards and a gnoll torturer.
The party manages to flee with the prisoners back to their rowboat and shuttle everyone across, but loses the other villagers in the battle (a few of which were apparently able to get the barge free and escape). As the rowboat makes it’s last trip across the river, Clinton attempts to force open a chest found in the Armory. A needle shoots out and poison’s Clinton, who falls unconscious as Parkynride whimpers helplessly…