After weeks on the road to Cloudhome the group has finally arrived. The mountain looms above them, its top piercing into the very overworld. But, the ominous peak now bears a large blemish in the form of several large burrows holes near its top. Whatever was large enough to cause such damage must have been something of immense size, not to mention power. The groups trail leads them down the slope of the adjacent mountains and onto a road that comes in from the north before cutting west towards Cloudhome itself. Where the road meets the base of the slope the outer districts of a dwarven city, that goes by the same name as the mountain it resides in, sits.
The dwarven guards at the gates great the travelers and seem to be oblivious to the recent damage done to their mountain home. They inquire on the group’s business in the city, but let them in with little questioning. The guards inform the party that as visitors they may go anywhere in the outer district and the lower inner city but the noble district above is forbidden to them without proper papers. Recently made destitute upon their departure from Eldolan and hiring of the guide Olga the party seeks a means to fund their stay and any expenses they might incur. As the first order of business, they seek out more period appropriate wear for their friend Kronus and then a merchant to sell his old garb too, hoping to cash in on its pseudo-ancient nature.
Though a merchant is quickly found it is quite clear that the stingy dwarf is unlikely to pay the group well for Kronus’ clothing. After a few moments of fruitless haggling, their exchange is overheard by a noble merchant trolling the wares of the lower quarters. The noble informs them he is an experienced collector of goods from past ages and if the group claims possession of such a windfall of ancient artifacts he has a merchant in the lower noble quarter that he could connect them with. The noble gives the party a letter of introduction to the merchant and asks only that any further acquisitions of ancient artifacts go through him when next they are in the city.
Unfortunately, the group still lacking the papers to gain access to the noble districts heads back to the guards, hoping to come up with something to convince them to grant the group access. After a few moments of convincing Gili manages to get the guards to believe the group has dire news for their king. The guard stamps the papers giving the group access to the lower noble quarter and informs them they’ll have to take up further permissions with the guards at the higher levels.
Papers in hand the group heads to the lower noble quarter, find the merchant mentioned by the noble and the additional papers necessary to reach the upper noble quarter. There they run into yet another tier of guards, this time protecting access to the peerage quarter. It is at this point the group seeks out a local watering hole to learn what they can. While heading to the nearest tavern Lief notices that the ceiling of the upper noble quarter appears to have an infestation of a strange form of ivy, even from this distance he recognizes the telltale signs that identify this plan as a unique strain of ivy referred to by followers of the High Druid as Destroyer Ivy, a plant that when charged with druidic power quickly tears the foundation and structures of civilization to the ground.
In the tavern, Vode Arpa happens to make contact with a local member of the cities death cult, worshippers of the Lich King. The contact points Vode to the cities crypts, a maze of catacombs that typically stretch the height of the entire dwarven city. With little else to go on the group heads to investigate this cult. There they find the leaders of the cults presence on this level who offers the group passage through he crypts in return for dealing with the levels sheriff, a stubborn dwarf who has made the cults operation difficult.
After some debate, the group decides that murdering a sheriff isn’t something they are comfortable with and seek other paths. It is at this point that Lief mentions the Destroyer Ivy he saw earlier and the group decides that perhaps the ivy could be used to open a path to the upper levels. Leif, shifting into the form of a small bird, flies to the scaffolding of the workers who seek to tame the growth to investigate. There, he places his hand upon the ivy and channels his nature magic through the plant. Within moments the ivy begins to rapidly expand, tearing scaffolding and cavern ceiling away. As the portion of the cavern in contact with the ivy gives way an opening into the peerage quarter appears. The group quickly takes advantage of the chaos ensuing in the city following the collapse and darts through the breach.
The peerage quarter is an opulent district where the wealthiest dwarves live, but as the party enters the streets of the district they are struck by the uncanny silence that greets them. The windows are dark and the streets quiet, the street lamps flames have long gone out and a deathly pale can be felt. The group heads towards the side of the district that would have the crypts, hoping to take the unguarded entrance and find their way to the top of the city. As they travel the streets they get the impression they are being watched and from the corner of their eyes they see small palid dwarven figures dart between abandoned house windows.
Just as the crypts come into sight a dark iron crossbow bolt skitters off the cobblestones near the groups feat and the chittering manicale laughter of the derro surrounds them. Forming a tight defense group in the center of the square outside the crypts the party fights off the derro. Off in the distance the huddles band of crypt priests and priestess can be seen, apparently still at their post despite the state of the district.
to be continued….