Brigand Five: An Unflankable Story

Chapter 14: Buzzkill Mountain

Another long rattling ride on the Deepcore Transit lies between the heroes and Palefort. After the cramped hours finally pass, the heroes are directed to a zigzagging stairway carved into the stone wall. They reach the surface and find themselves gazing up at a huge statue of a dwarf hewn from the mountain itself. The dwarf leans upon a shield, which is split down the middle to form a great open doorway. As the heroes approach the gate to Palefort, a dwarven guard asks their business. Seraphina explains the potential threat and that they are backed by the council, so the guard hands her a dark, glowing orb. With instructions to head to the Palefort Citadel, the heroes enter the city.

The city of Palefort is hewn completely out of the stone of the mountain. Stone roads lead to various homes and buildings, but are surrounded by precarious darkness. Mine carts and cable cars are quite commonplace, allowing dwarves to travel more easily to the multi-leveled roads. Dim light emanates from stones embedded in the rock around them. The heroes stand out among the dwarven citizens, who cast them dour stares. Othfir explains, however, that the dwarves of Palefort are all just naturally grouchy. Soon enough, they arrive at the Palefort Citadel, a three-story building that marks the high point of the city beneath the mountain. Once inside, the heroes make their way through dwarves carrying armfuls of scrolls and stop at a long desk at the back of the hall. The dwarves seated there are busy stamping documents and one looks up at the towering visitors.

In a very brief exchange, Seraphina hands the dwarven clerk the glowing orb, which is exchanged for a small stone tablet engraved with a dwarvish symbol. The clerk points at a door and the heroes approach, Othfir dropping the stone tablet into a slot allowing them entrance. Two flights of stairs later and the heroes are in a very plain stone waiting room. After an awkwardly silent fifteen minutes, the heroes are allowed access into the only office in the room. Waiting for them is Grehlm Frostpeak, Lord of Palefort. Frostpeak is exceedingly tall for a dwarf, rising higher even than the five foot Morningstar. He is dressed in grey, yet impressive, robes and his blue-grey hair and beard flow like a tide of thick, silken spiderwebs. His office is large, but mostly empty, save for his desk several chairs, a shelf topped with a few books, various scrolls, a beautiful axe, and a glowing blue orb atop the desk.

The frowning Frostpeak invites the party to sit, despite the shortage of chairs, and asks their business. Seraphina informs  him of the potential threat and the council’s support, but she is not met with cooperation. Frostpeak instead tonelessly asks for proof, and barely listening to the aasimar’s response, tells them that the city’s guards cannot be spared for every slight scare. He allows them to conduct their investigation though assures them that they will not be provided support from the guards and warns against interrupting the routine flow in which Palefort operates. The atmosphere becomes a little tense when Geandur starts getting sassy, but Seraphina is able to usher the barbarian from the room with the rest of the party. In the hurried, unfriendly exit, Quinn can’t help himself and snatches the glowing blue orb from Frostpeak’s desk, stuffing it in his robes before anyone else can notice.

The heroes get directions to the Sconce & Cinder, the largest of the city’s inns. While Morningstar does some worshipping in his room, the rest of the heroes grab a drink. Geandur chats up some dwarven ladies, blending flirting and investigation. Meanwhile, Othfir talks to the bartender. They both end up with similar stories: a human woman with black curly hair was inquiring about the popular areas in Palefort. Her forehead was obscured by her bangs and she didn’t stay at the inn. Geandur recognizes the description as the human form of the tiefling plagueomancer. On the advice of the bartender, the heroes leave to inspect the entrance to the mines, deeper into the mountain. The entrance is a great stone precipice lined with cable cars. As the miners are between shifts, the cable car operators stand waiting. The heroes are denied entry to the mines, but do receive confirmation that a human woman was spotted nearby the day before.

Geandur and Quinn go back to the Sconce & Cinder, for more in-flirt-stigation and to inspect the stolen blue orb, respectively. The rest of the heroes try to find any sign of their infectious foe. Barely visible is a set of human footprints, but there is little to gain as they quickly blend in with the hundreds of dwarven bootprints. Eventually, half of the cable cars descend into the abyss to retrieve the day shift miners. Quinn learns from an elderly wizard shopkeep that the orb is a communication device and leaves the stolen property there to have the enchantment on it reset. The thief joins the throngs of miners, as does Geandur, as they all head towards the entrance to the mines.

Before too long, the heroes are surrounded by dwarves, the day-shift miners heading back to the city and the night-shift miners crowding in to descend for a long night’s work. Arradon, spotting a rocky outcropping high above them, gets Othfir’s assistance to hurl his grappling hook up to the potential sentry-point. Unfortunately, as the elf swings out over the unending darkness, the hook breaks loose and begins to slide. Arradon is able to use his momentum to swing back to his comrades before the hook drops from the platform above and plummets into the abyss. Othfir laments the loss of the hook with the discouraged elf, while the passing miners shake their heads at the odd behavior. Geandur arrives and begins to emit echoing squeaks into the air. Seraphina asks what the hell he was doing and he explains he was telling the bats to keep an eye out for their quarry.

The dwarven riptide continues and the heroes desperately scan the crowd for any sign of the tiefling. Suddenly, shrieks filter down from the bats above. Geandur translates – “She’s here!” The barbarian spots her, a cloaked figure crouching among the dwarves, black hair flowing from the hood. Quinn, following Geandur’s outstretched finger, dives into the swarm of dwarves. At the same time, Geandur lets out more squeaks, instructing the bats to attack the hooded figure. As the heroes try and push their way through the seemingly endless flow of miners, bats begin dropping out of the sky, targeting no one in particular, but causing mass chaos among the unsuspecting dwarves. Quinn reaches the human figure and realizes he has no idea who this person is or why he’s chasing her. Instinct takes over and he swipes a nasty-looking dagger from the figure’s belt.

Desperate, Geandur shouts at Quinn to stop her. The figure turns, revealing a woman’s face suddenly fraught with confusion and panic. Quinn tries out his new dagger and sinks the blade into the woman’s side. Clutching her wound, the woman stumbles through the mob of bat-swatting dwarves. Quinn is right on her tail and the two reach an empty cable car. Othfir joins them as the woman reaches up and makes a twisting motion with her hand. The grips holding the car to the cable explode and the lift is suddenly only hanging by one support. Seraphina and Morningstar leap into the dangling car as gravity takes over and the whole structure hurtles down the cable and into the darkness.

Geandur and Arradon push their way to the nearest cable car and force their way aboard. The operator heeds Geandur’s demand to descend after the falling car and pulls a lever. The car’s top speed, however, is actually pretty slow, and Geandur loses his temper. Swinging his sword in a raging arc, he first strikes fruitlessly at the grip and follows up with a slash at the cable itself. The blade slices through cleanly and the cable car begins to plummet. Geandur quickly takes hold of the cable, as well as Arradon’s arm. The operator isn’t so lucky and disappears into the darkness with the falling cable car. Darkness also awaits the two heroes, however, as the swinging cable takes them deeper and deeper into the cold abyss.



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