Especially a young lady named Lissa. She's very forward in her desires, and makes it known that she'd very much like to "hook up" with any of the brave adventurers. The gallant elf Meloran is of particular interest to the stricken daughter of the owner of the Gem Store. But any of them would do... Yet none of the adventurers succumb, even though she's striking.
After their short foray in town, gathering information and restocking supplies, the group heads back to the Foehammer Spires, intent on finding the lost treasure of Zamuk the Swift in the dwarven mines. They make their way up the Saerdre river, looking for a natural way to make their way across. As they approach though the party determines that remaining on this side and penetrating the mines through the statue is likely the best course of action.
One of the first things that they notice as the day ends and their destination grows neigh, the sky is bereft of bats. The roar of the waterfall still remains of course, but the flittering of wings filling the night sky is absent. Where are the bats?
It occurs to the group that the goblins were serious when they mentioned that they were intent on moving...that this area was too "dangerous". And it is well known to every adventurer, when one alpha creature moves out, another moves in to fill the vacuum. And in this case the creature moving in is a draco lizard.
A mating pair is encountered high up in the abandoned tunnels. They provide a brief challenge before they are slain, but the monstrous lizards show just how quickly things change in the wilderness. It's a vibrant lesson in nature's economy.
Once the group carefully spans the rope bridges, (which by the way will weather quickly now that there are no keepers) they enter the cavern holding the strange demonic statue "Malraugin" and search for the door that they know is there, leading back deeper into the mountain.
Tevalon is an old hand at this by now, and quickly locates the secret catch, and "click" the door swings open again exposing the bare stone chamber and the dripping hallway. Lighting torches, the group, led by Rhovar, carefully makes their way into the tunnels below the river. It is quite nerve wracking hearing the rushing water just above one's head, but the hearty adventurers deal.
Carefully tapping the floor they find proceed to the corner and notice the very beautiful, if odd, stonework carved by the Foehammer dwarves. Flickering torchlight reveals flowstone, vines, strange corners, rounded edges and features that defy depth perception. Making for very strenuous exploration, they nevertheless find a door leading to the west, and decide to try that first, before proceeding down the hallway to the west (Which obviously leads directly below the river and behind the waterfall).
Opening is no mean feat, as it seems that it might be trapped, but the keen eyed elf and knowledgeable thief eventually figure it out. It swings wide on silent hinges to reveal more hallway winding further to the west. Proceeding that direction, they find a grate sunk into the floor, directly in front of another beautifully carven set of stone doors.
Entering a triangular room with a very ornately decorated set of stone doors flanked by a low set of braziers, the group decides to try their luck here. The odd doors have no handles, but rather keyholes in all four corners... Strange indeed.
Tevalon of course is immediately suspect and checks the door very carefully for traps, and sure enough, it is most certainly trapped. But as he is doing this, the elf Meloran spies a secret portal to the north after Gregory lights the braziers.
Meanwhile, Rohvar has tripped one of the traps on purpose, just to see what might lie in store for them. A pit opens in front of the door, at the bottom lie scattered bones, white in the reflected light... He rappels down and in his careful search is revealed that there is more here than meets the eye. Strange sliding doors are meant to open up, disgorging...something. The bones down here are strangely picked clean. A clue? Perhaps.
Opening the secret door is again a study in the stone wizardry of the ancient dwarves...but it yields its secrets nevertheless. Another hallway, carven slightly different from the rest, showing dwarves battling giants, goblins, orcs and other unknown creatures, stretches to the north terminating in steps leading down to a corner turning west.
Suspecting yet more trickery, the group very carefully makes their way down the stairs and finds that indeed, there is a pressure plate of some sort on the landing at the corner. Here the stairs lead yet further down to what appears to be a dead end.
Tevalon notices that there is a strange, well-hidden seam in the ceiling above his head near the top of the stairs and at the bottom, in the dead end, lies yet another trap door in the floor. And this trap door, after very careful examination, reveals rounded corners of some type...Why? Ah these dwarves were crafty creatures, not wont to give up their secrets easily.
Pondering the strange clues, the group comes up with the theory that the seams split apart, dislodging some type of ball that would roll down the stairs and thereby trapping whomever falls into the pit at the bottom. Develish in its cunning!
But what do all of these traps protect? Are they here simply to ensnare and confound the unwary? Or is there something here that has yet to be found? These dwarves were indeed vexing.
Finding nothing more of interest, and not willing to brave the door w/out the keys, the group moves on and explores the tunnel leading to the east. The sound of rushing water just above their heads is disconcerting, but they move forward to find yet another dead end!
Tevalon quickly finds a trap door in the ceiling though and also, a pressure plate just below it! Circumnavigating the pressure plate, he climbs up to the door in the ceiling only to realize that there is water leaking from around the seams. Is this somehow yet another trap?
The mage quickly calculates that the water seeping through is not nearly of the volume to indicate that there is much above it...and the sound of the river itself seems to be above and behind them at this location. So the party gives it a go and opens it.
As it rotates to the side with much effort, it dislodges quite a bit of water, but not enough to cause consternation. The room above is some type of religious room by all indications, but to whom? Obviously not to any known dwarven deity.
A chorus of croaking accompanies the party as they ascend into strangely disconcerting room. Candles burn in niches all around the room, providing an eery illumination, and the bones lying strewn around the odd plinth that the party moved to enter the room indicate that nefarious deeds have been perpetrated here.
But this was obviously not the original intent of the room. The pillars to each side show dwarves carved out of the stone, and the altar, although covered in a greenish cloth reveals dwarven script running all around. On top are 4 holes, for keys apparently. And around each of these are four symbols indicating, gold, bloodstone, an anvil and ruby.
Montcrief deciphers the writing which reveal 4 riddles.
I can point the way;
When I am empty,
Nothing moves me.
I have two skins,
One without and one within."
--(Which indicated a glove. Wherein the group finds a key with a nugget of gold adorning it, in a pair of stone gloves upon the belt of one of the pillar dwarves. Also upon the same dwarf's hand is a steel ring.)
"I have many feathers to help me fly.
I have a body and head, but I’m not alive.
It is your strength which determines how far I go.
You can hold me in your hand, but I’m never thrown."
--(Indicating an arrow possibly...But this has yet to lead to the "key".)
"I'm the part of the bird that's not in the sky. I can swim in the ocean and yet remain dry."
--(A shadow maybe? But again, this has yet to lead to a "key".)
"Clad in armor, never clinking, always moving, never drinking."
--(A fish possibly? Still, no key.)
As the group tries to decipher these clues they explore the large set of double doors in the southern portion of the room while keeping an eye on the stairs leading up to the east.
The doors seem to lead outside, and are barred at the moment. And just as attention is directed to the stairs, the sound of feet slapping on the stone reverberate above the sounds of the croaking frogs.
Emerging from the darkness is a group of "men" with the distinctive pallor and odd hopping gate of frogs! A croaking language erupts from their outsized throats as they charge into the room... Battle is joined.
The melee is furious, but quick as the very odd frog-men fall it is the noise from the confrontation that is of concern. A pall lies over the field of battle and a sense of urgency is now upon the group...
And no sooner than they've checked the bodies of the frog-featured invaders another threat emerges from the gloom in the east. These are shambling zombies though. The creatures accompanied by some sort of larger, ogre-sized undead, move inexorably into the room and again, in the span of minutes, another fight erupts.
But yet again, the party proves victorious...but not before one of their own falls, Paige the archer succumbs to the mighty blows of the undead. She is "buried" w/out much pomp or circumstance in the tunnel below the altar. And Tevalon, trying to provide a sense of decorum, closes the tunnel below as he slides the altar back into place w/ a noticeable "click".
Seems that there is but one way to go now if they are to continue searching for the famed treasure.
Down the eastern hallways the party explores, down one "lift" through yet another secret door, and up another lift, they end up in a long unused hallway strewn with columns. North and south, the wide edifice has two other exits besides the one that they've entered, and as they advance into the room they detect faint motion on the edges of the flickering torchlight.
"Ghosts" or shades of the ancient dwarves seem to pass through this room, and no amount of interaction will make them take notice of the living. The double doors on the western wall are made of brass and even from many feet away, they seem to radiate heat. While the door to the south is of stone, as most are in this demesne.
It is the southern door that attracts the group and they move to go through, opening it up and revealing a trophy room of sorts. Circling the room are pedestals, upon which sit broken dwarven relics of old. A crown, a hammer, a sword (dwarven urgosh), a tooth of some sort, a stone tablet and what appears to be some type of a cracked egg, mottled blue and white.
In the rear of the room lies a low stone plinth and upon this lies what at first appears to be a dragon carved from stone.... But in fact, it is indeed a living, breathing dragon! Young and quite hungry to be sure, but a dragon nonetheless!
It's grey skin covered in dust barely hides the ribs poking through from starvation, but rather than attack it recognizes the possibility of release and parlays with the adventurers. Stating that it's name is Sissrith, the creature tells them that it had flown into these caverns many many years ago, just after the dwarves had left, in search of food and possibly some treasure, only to be trapped in a cave in.
He will agree to let the party leave w/out a fight, and w/ any item or items that they wish to take with them IF they will agree to help him escape the shades in the room beyond, which he says have never allowed him to exit.
Sounding like the best deal available at the moment, the party agrees and picking up some of the artifacts in the room, find that the helmet allows them passage through the now swarming shades. Apparently the afore mentioned dwarven shades take notice when certain places are entered! And protect this area with vehemence.
After much experimentation it seems that it is the crown that keeps the shadow creatures at bay...and Sissrith takes advantage and flees with alacrity. But now that they have discovered a safe way through, the party explores the last of the doors, the brass portals that seem to generate so much heat.
Opening them, Rohvar is blasted with the intensity of a working forge. He moves in and makes the acquaintance of the master of the forge, one Gorlock Flamebrother, a legendary salamander from the deeps of the elemental plane of fire. At first the fighter fears for his life, but it turns out that like Sissrith, Gorlock is trapped here as well.
If the adventurers can determine a way in which to quench the forge, he will be set free, and doing such, he would then offer a weapon to each of his saviors. And these weapons! It is obvious that he has spent decades upon decades forging and re-forging each in search of perfection. But he is now overjoyed at seeing some of the broken trophies, for these are new items with which to occupy his time. And for now, that is all he has. He takes the hammer and urgosh and bids the party goodbye.
Making their way back north the party adjourns to the room with the double doors to the outside in order to take a well deserved rest....
And this is where we end.