Beginning the Descent
The party wakes up early in the morning on the 25th of High Heat to begin their descent down the mountain.
There is only one path that leads down from the Dwarven Gate that our heroes choose to follow. Shoddily carved steps guide them down a steep path that quickly descends into narrow winding gorges. Visibility is restricted to a relatively short 30 yards or so in any direction. Thd descent takes most of the morning.
Several hours into the climb a thunderous roar from a beast out of sight comes at the party. Jumping from ravine to ravine the beat is massive and powerful… the clattering of the rubble beginning to slide down the slopes onto the path and the ferocious sound of the beast drives them forward at a frantic pace down the path and into an open area.
The open area is unlike the previous track; its wide and fertile with grass and a few small trees. To one side of the plane on a small hill a ruined tower stands… Without thinking the four begin to sprint towards the tower to escape the beast. Valner almost trips but is helped up and remains afoot as one by one the four make it into the relative safety of the tower… looking out behind them there is no sign of the beast.
The interior of the tower appears ruined. The first floor is strewn with fallen beams and broken furniture. The second floor is partially collapsed with the exception of a small area with some archaic symbols on the floor and some spell components that N'jall quickly claims. The third floor no longer has a roof as its been caved in… everything is the room is ruined with the exception of a remarkably well preserved book that is locked. Marcellus takes the book and together with Darion no sign of the beast can be spotted from the vantage of the top of the tower… regrouping on the ground level Darion and Marcellus decide to explore the basement… Darion almost kills Marcellus when he drops a beam accidentally… then again when they try a second time and the floor itself gives way as they both fall a short 10 feet into the basement.
The basement is a cadavers laboratory… countless glass jars are filled with the preserved remains of every sort of animal… at the far end of the cave like basement broken chains, a talon, and a broken ceiling giving way to daylight show where the beast hunting them likely was imprisoned for a time. N'jall takes a jar of snakes and empties several more jars out to save for a later time.
Coming back up to the ground level Marcellus tries to force open the lock to the book but is quickly jolted and lit aflame by the trapped lock… Valner quickly helps put out the flames, but a visibly scorched Marcellus gives the magical book to N'jall for safekeeping.
It's about midday, our heroes plot their next moves from the relative safety of the tower.
Having spent the first half of the day traveling down a narrow path through the rocks from the Dwarven mine, the party is attacked by an unknown beast and takes shelter in a ruined tower. Inside they find a sort of cadaver's workshop apparently belonging to a wizard, including a book Marcellus catches ablaze trying to pry open… With a shook Marcellus recovering from the trapped book, Valner and Darion plot their next moves while N'jall inspects his recently acquired jars. With no signs of the beast from their obscured vantage inside the tower they decide to move out. With an option to leave to the left or right they decide to go left, assuming it heads in a more southward direction towards their destination…
A cautious Marcellus is sent first, cautiously poking his head left right and up out the tower there is no sign of the beast in the immediate area but he does sight what looks like moving tree branches off in the distance near the left path… looking again the movement is gone. the 4 companions cautiously advance in formation across the dryer ground through the clearing into the western passage. The path continues in a similar manner to the path leading into the tower opening but is more rough… some of the four see what seem like sparkles catching in the air that appear then vanish without cause.
The Black Ore
Coming to another fork in the path the party chooses to head right, leading to a dead end; at the end there appears to be a deposit of hard black ore. Upon closer look the unknown ore is hard. Without a way to mine it Valner attempts to break some off with his gauntlets but only small fragments break loose, N'jall warns of the risk of an avalanche from the disturbance, but the party pays him no attention. The canyon echos with the sound of the impacts that carry well over into other ravines; pausing no response is heard but as they leave a small rock slide quickly grows into an avalanche… Marcellus and Darion are able to brace and resist the raw force of the tumbling rocks while Valner narrowly escapes, but as the dust settles N'jall is no where to be seen…. Frantically searching through the loose rock a visibly injured, but alive, N'jall is uncovered and drug out; a triggered Valner won't forget this.
Heading back out to the fork our heroes veer right and head deeper down the ravine…. another wide opening is reached that slopes from left to right before narrowing again at a small passage bridged by a natural rock… cautiously approaching the bridge, Marcellus faintly hears what appears like a screech similar to the ones hear the previous night in the mine, but upon a second attempt nothing… Unable to see the bottom the party cautiously crosses the natural bridge and continues… Marcellus in the lead… Passing several smaller passages they continue, after some time a delirious Marcellus loses his orientation and begins to tumble forward down a steeper section of the path… N'jall rummages through Valner's pack to find something to throw at Marcellus, by the time he finds the rope and throws it Marcellus is already halfway down the slope and beyond the reach of the rope. A visibly confused Darion does nothing.
Marcellus receives some minor scrapes but stands up under the shadow of an overhang in a den of bones. Some are humanoid, some are clearly animal like an oxen. Speculating that it could be the beast's lair Marcellus quickly recovers himself and scampers back up the fall to the other three. N'jall says he tried throw a rope while Valner tells him to drink some water to help ease the heat… At the dead end of the den our heroes double back and veer off down one of the smaller side passages they bypassed.
It's a Chimera!
Almost immediately they reach a larger opening ending at a collapsed dwarven gateway; before the gateway lays a scattered pile of partially clothed corpses between some small worn pillars. Before they can move in closer to investigate the ruins a roar and the flapping of wings disturbs the peace as the beast swoops in and lands amid the clearing.
Now clearly visible it is a Chimera, a large lion like creature with a snake in place of a tail, horns, and wings.
The Chimera takes an aggressive stance to confront our heroes; having been stalked all day by the beast and with no hope of outrunning it to safety they draw their weapons and prepare for combat.
Before they know it the chimera bellows forth a fiery blast, Darion and Marcellus are able to avoid most of the flames but Valner is lit ablaze and suffers serious damage before being able to respond… a still visibly injured N'jall is barely out of reach of the flames and quickly scurries to the edge of the cliff while Darion rushes the chimera with his falchion drawn and begins hacking at the beast, a more cautious Marcellus braces his shield for the next attack, putting himself between the beast and the others.
The chimera focuses all of its efforts on Darion, snapping at him, slashing at him, and even bitting at him with its tail. Taking some injuries Darion becomes enraged and begins attacking the beast more ferociously than before. Marcellus closes with the chimera and calls upon the power of Saint Sabinus, first healing the burns and then leasing forth a powerful searing smite, cutting through the chimera and setting its mane ablaze while Valner and N'jall continue to loose crossbow bolts into the beast.. Valner and N'jall scurry in and out of cover while Darion and Marcellus hack at the beast… a pint of oil is thrown at the flames to intensify the blaze.
After a devastating blow from Darion's falchion the Chimera staggers back then leaps atop an outcropping to recover itself, but before it can recover Darion draws Skylance, the bow gifted in the mines, and looses a magical arrow to finish the Chimera off… it's limp body stumbling down before their feet.
Apparently victorious, Darian, Valner and N'jall begin to dissect the Chimera while Darion and Marcellus searches the rest of the den for anything of note where a set of masterworked half plate is found on one of the dead while the other is the wizard from the ruined tower and the creator of the chimera; on the wizard'd remains a silver key, a silk robe, and a signet ring with an inscribed name are found. N'jall immediately uses the key on the locked tome to uncover the notes on chimera research used to create the beast with the second half being a list of spells. N'jall takes the spoils along with another salvaged chimera claw. Valner claims the breastplate and sees to the wounds of the others… examining Marcellus he notes nothing wrong with his condition despite the battle.
Marcellus gives some quick prayers to the Keeper as the others collect their loot and t he party moves to leave the den and continue their trek out of the mountains.
The four companions double back to the clearing where the ruined tower stands and take the only other exit out of the area, the one N'jall had previously recommended… The heroes proceed for a short time before coming across a low wall blocking the ravine with a small doorway and ruined door in the middle of the path. A cautious Darion throws a rock at the door causing the aged wood to fall off the hinges and crash to the ground with a loud thud… With no apparent trap the party precedes through the doorway.
Inside they find an open air temple with weathered columns in two rows going from left to right; straight ahead another doorway and wall like the one they just entered, exiting to the path continuing down the mountain…. to their left shuttered earth and pits separating them from some ruins and to their right a large doorway hewn out of the stone and some steps descending into darkness. They cautiously approach the doorway to the right and are met with the scent of honey… With no signs of traps the four descend down steps that wrap back around and under the temple above… before them is a roughly cut out cavern with a few unmarked pillars, natural light seeps in through the cracks in the ground above and before them is a fountain, the apparent source of the scent.
A beleaguered Darion rushes at the small pool and jumps in while a skeptical N'jall and Valner hesitate to even approach it…
Marcellus reaches back into his religious knowledge to conclude this spring is a sacred pool that had a temple built around it; these natural springs sometimes carry magical almost mystical powers, some are greater than others…. Usually large holy sites are constructed around them; some are more well known than others and the most well known sacred pools become pilgrimage sites for devoted followers…. Marcellus also moves forward and begins to touch the water and enjoy the refreshing cleansing held within…
Darion strips down and begins floating and swimming around with little reverence for the power of the pool while a mortified Valner looks on before accepting it and approaching…
The pool has great powers, it cleans clothing and armor without soiling the water, it tastes fresh, and it heals wounds. Marcellu s and Valner fill flasks with the sacred water while Darion fully submerges and fully enjoys the water. A skeptical N'jall doesn't get close to the water…
After some time has passed the others manage to pull Darion out of the water and resume their trek through the Temple and down the mountainside. Marcellus feels drawn to the far side of the temple but resists the urge to explore the perilous slopes and pushes down with the others. After traveling for a few more hours the sun begins to fade into the distance as the four companions arrive at the Bulwark.