Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Outside the city of Drache lies a number of cities, towns and provinces of varying size and populace. Most of the people living outside Drache are natives who speak Arangothian and observe the native customs and rituals. Click here for a list Arangoth's locales, and here to view a map.
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Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by metalslime » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:44 pm

The work of a lifetime can take many forms. An artist might hold a gallery of masterpieces, a lord might gaze out upon the expanse of his kingdom. To Ares Calgrix, the work of a lifetime was a simple, illegible carving etched within an ancient masonry wall far up within the Grey Fangs range, far from any trade roads and with only a precarious, crumbling path clinging to slopes steep enough to urge most necessary traffic elsewhere. A few weeks later, and the vindication of all those years poring over forgotten maps and tomes in a dozen different cities was revealed in the form of a door of stone, hung on thick stone pins and set into the mountainside. Easily some fifteen feet high and twenty wide, the double doors took the archaeologist and all of his workers most of an afternoon to open. Once that yawning abyss was exposed to the light of day for the first time in untold centuries, it became clear that more assistance was needed.

it has been almost a month since those doors were first opened. Flyers have been displayed in taverns throughout Arangoth, seeking stout souls willing to help guard a scholar's investigation of an old ruin. The details are sketchy at best, the trek hazardous. When finally the select few who had agreed to the payment offered arrive not far from the border from Elvendeep, the sight before them is not a heartening one. Far up in the mountains, a winding, narrow road and a day and a half of constant hiking separates them from the nearest settlement below. Before them, what should have been a working camp lies in ruins. There amidst the stoney slopes, a few tattered tents lay scattered amidst toppled tables and chairs. Cracked stones and rusted weapons lay scattered amidst pages of notes ruined by days of exposure to the weather. There are barrels and sacks of supplies, shovels for digging, stakes and rope for securing loads, even preserved foodstuffs, water, and ale. Many of these casks and crates have been broken into, however, and their contents scattered amidst the debris.

There is no sign of the archaeologist Ares Calgrix nor his workers, save for a few ominous bloodstains, long dried. The stains range from large pools near ruined tents, to drag marks leading up toward a set of ancient stone stairs, and in through the massive stone doors set into the side of the mountain, which still remain ajar. What dark creations await between those ancient stone doors? What may have already escaped into the surrounding countryside? But most importantly, what souls out of those many who were assembled would brave the darkness with no guarantee of survival, much less the pay they were promised?

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by KnightErrant » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:18 pm

Thalion surveyed the surrounding area in the darkening gloom, eyes trying to pierce shadows thrown by pine and mountain spruce up and down the rocky gorge. He was perched atop a large bolder a good ways up from the camp he had only recently arrived at and with a cold mountain breeze trying sinuously to sneak its way in between the wool fibers of his cloak, he began to wonder at the wisdom of coming here. The sight that had greeted him and a few other travelers when they had reached their destination was not a heartening one. A deserted camp, supplies left abandoned or broken in to, stains of blood and worse, not a sign of the inhabitants of the camp they were supposed to meet with.

Thalion had already examined the camp for signs of battle. If it had been bandits there should have been more tracks to suggest fighting, not to mention bandits would not have left so many supplies behind. Unfortunately, the signs were much more ominous. He had discovered a few streaks of blood further up on the rock. Usually that type of thing was made by a large predator dragging its prey away to its lair. Was that lair the newly opened doorway further up on the side of the mountain? It seemed a likely possibility. His first thoughts were that it could have been a dragon, sometimes known to dwell in subterranean environments. If it was a dragon that could fly that would account for the lack of large beast tracks he had found around the camp. The lack of tracks had bothered him greatly; it could also suggest some kind of beast supernatural powers, some kind of spirit or demon even. There were many strange things in the world and sometimes evil things that were locked up were released unknowingly long after they had been forgotten. He was reminded of what his sword-teacher used to say in Dindrathil about the short memories of humans. Thoughts of his teacher reminded Thalion about the time he had spent on the western side of the Grey Fangs, in Elvendeep.

A small bird, a thrush, came and settled on the rock next to him. Thalion had been sitting quite still and it seemed the bird had not been able to tell he was not part of the rock, especially with his grey cloak. The little bird flew away, startled when he rose to his feet a moment later. It was time to be getting back to camp and unfortunately he had nothing of consequence to report. They would build a large fire and take turns keeping watch tonight. Some who had travelled this way from Arangoth wanted to leave as soon as they had arrived, but did not like the idea of travelling through the night so close to the mountains. Better to try to survive the night by sticking together and make decisions about going or staying in the grey light of dawn. In his ascent as night fell he thought about the warm bed in the Black Dragon Inn in Drache so far away that had been like a home to him. He had answered the call to adventure as described on a piece of parchment posted among other bulletins and as usual he and found a much different adventure than the one he thought was awaiting him.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by metalslime » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:14 pm

The area, at least, lends itself to encampment. There is wood for the fire and game to hunt. Unfortunately, it's not long after dark that the strangeness begin. But a half hour or so after the last fingers of light from the setting sun have vacated the starry sky, there is a panicked stir amongst those horses and beasts that had been brought up with those who had come seeking the gold of the expedition's leaders. Ferrow, a nervous young lad who had come not to guard but to labor, had taken it upon his own initiative to watch over the gentle beasts. Now though, where the youth had settled himself there is nothing. Just an empty seat, beside which lies a whittling knife and a half carved stick. The light of the campfire dies out just a few feet beyond, leaving the rest of the slope lit only by the stars above.

The animals themselves remain nervous, with the look they get when a predator is about.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by Drache » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:25 pm

And a predator was about, though this one had yet to give the livestock a reason to fear her specifically. And it was well she ignored them, knowing that they would likely lunge and shy if she drifted too close. The shifting orange light of the campfire played off of the half-dragon's red and gold scales, setting them aglitter as she paced nimble-footed around the destroyed base utilized by their doomed precursors. The nostrils on her snout flared when her slit-pupiled eyes narrowed, her backswept horns tilting slowly as her head panned observing the trashed equipment and the rusty red smears of old blood.

Trust the enigmatic dragoness to show up of her own accord, with no clear indication of what interest she had in this adventure. If anyone asked, she would shrug those wings, the spike of each alar thumb hovering over her shoulders, and reply that she could "hardly resist the chance at treasure". And she was dragon enough that it might as well be true. Better still, there was no one here who knew her well enough to suspect differently.

The chill gusts that sighed around the mountain peaks brought her in on swift wings, landing amidst the others gathered with nothing more than the pack settled between her wings, the cutlass on her hip, the curious pouches lining the belt that circled her hips. An aura of warmth surrounded her, simmering from her red hide, though her lip lifted, fangs bared with distaste at each gust that tugged at the leather membranes of her wings and the long hem of her black, enchanted cloak.

With an eager flip of her long, sinuous tail, she moved to stand in front of the out-flung doors, peering down into the yawning depths that either concealed or had released whatever fate had befallen the archaeologist and his compatriots. Arcane ability sang in her blood, summoned and released in the form of spells of knowing, sensing, seeing, to tell her more than the darksight that pierced the black. It wouldn't have taken much to luminate the tunnel, but then she didn't need such things. She was comfortable in the dark. let the humans bring their own torches and lanterns.

When enough time passed that her divinations could tell her all they could, she turned her scaled visage to peer back at the camp. "Shall we proceed?" A loft of a brow as she peered at a certain rock. Hadn't there been a human boy sitting there a moment ago? A snort as she disregarded it. Perhaps the lad had fled. Another twitch of her tail and she moved, talons striding confidently down into the tunnel.
Last edited by Drache on Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by metalslime » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:59 pm

It's not like the bulk of the expedition would press an issue of motivation too hard. Especially against someone with such wings and scales. Treasure, whether it be something found within the expedition or the hard coin they'd been promised on coming up to assist was something few of them would argue with. Now though, in the dark, there were many who were having second thoughts about just how much bravery money could buy from them.

In the dark, the dark that kept most of those who had come huddled about their campfires, certain things become clear to the dragon's blood. This place, this spot was a locale of arcane might. Ancient magics may have lingered here in aeons past, and were focused over the course of centuries by someone, or something within the depths beneath. It provided a certain level of interference, though nothing that couldn't be overcome with concentration and effort. Still, the very air still hummed with latent magical energies. As the dragoness peered into the darkness beyond those doors, the outline of the hall beyond was easy to make out. A broad, brief passage the width of those doors and some fifteen feet tall, with an arched ceiling stretched inward for a distance of just twenty feet. It immediately opened into a much larger room. Some sort of domed, circular chamber easily fifty feet across, with five darkened niches carved along the outer wall. A ring of six standing stones surrounds the center two thirds of the chamber. The floor within that circle of stones is recessed another five feet down, set with a trio of steep steps all the way about, offering access to the bottom of the room.

Within the very center of the chamber, a figure stands motionless upon a pedestal. It's realistic enough that at first glance one might mistake it for a living man, but it is merely a statue. Standing some six feet in height, the statue is carved of a smooth, dark stone, and depicts an elven man in flowing robes, one arm outstretched, bearing a wand that points toward the passage to the chamber, the other arm clutches a book to his chest, while the robes he wears are frozen in an eternal imaginary wind. A small plaque of bronze has been affixed to the base of the statue, though one can't read it from the doorway itself, even with shadow-piercing vision. The statue itself is somewhat lit by a thin shaft of starlight, descending from some unseen spot within the dome above.

The walls and ceiling of the chamber within are of exquisite, close fitted stones without a hint of mortar to secure them. Indeed, only their tight nature and the weight of whatever stone and earth lay beyond them holds them together. The floor itself is of broader stones, worn smooth over the passing years until it may as well be constructed of one continuous stone surface.

There's a shovel and a pack placed neatly within the doorway, along with a lantern that looks to have long burned out. The pack is of fine leather, and has rope, hooks, and a prybar of iron tethered to it, along with a visible waterskin. It's as if whoever placed these here intended to come back for them at some time.

The floor itself is only moderately dusty, mostly near to the walls of the passage and teh chamber beyond. Further, dark streaks of dried blood, not unlike those found outside line the flooring, in a broad arc about that central recessed floor, only to disappear into the niche facing the main entry passage.

The niches themselves are shallow, and seem to contain stone relief carvings upon their inner walls. There's no sign of other exits from that central chamber.

As for the camp outside? It doesn't seem anyone has missed the youth who had chosen to tend to the mounts. Not yet at least.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by KnightErrant » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:06 pm

Thalion woke, and judging by the stars and moon it was still some time before his watch. He could hear nervous sounds coming from the baggage beasts. He did not feel as though he had been asleep long, although it had been a deep sleep with strange and twisted dreams. There was an air to this place, almost a hum, but nothing definable that he could sense. It was the kind of feeling though, that made the hair on the back of his neck rise, although that could be the predator on the loose.

He rose silently from his sleeping place and loosened the sword in its scabbard so that it could be drawn quickly, very quickly if need be. The single edged and slightly curved blade could be drawn with speed, the draw itself becoming an attack, or a defense. Quiet steps took him from where those were still slumbering to check to the parameter of the camp where the soft glow of the fire had faded. He moved along the edge of the light like a shadow to where the horses were kept. He could hear others in the camp stirring, some had been awake but were loath to journey out to where the horses where, supposedly some lad had either volunteered or been duped into guarding the beasts. He found that the boy was gone; stooping down to examine the scene he could not find much. He picked up the small knife and piece of wood that had been left behind when the boy was taken; he tucked him away in his belt pouch for now.

When he returned to the center of the camp a few more people were awake, the unease in the beasts had spread to the humans and most looked into the night with nervous expressions or gazed intently into the fire as if to keep their minds off of what could be happening.

“The boy is gone. Something took him,” Thalion stated flatly to those around the camp.

“Nothing but bad omens since we got here, this place stinks of death. I say we leave in the morning,” said a dark haired man with a hook nose.

Thalion shrugged. “Something has been opened here and is hunting in the lands around. When we leave it will most likely journey further from its layer and find prey in the country side,” he added.

“Not our problem,” said the hook nosed man. “Let the Crown deal with this. Send up some of their soldiers and hunt it down, or maybe some of their blasted mages. I’d like a bit of treasure as much as the next fellow, but this ain’t no treasure hunt.”

“Do as you wish. However, I did not see any blood where the boy had been taken. Could be he’s still alive. I wouldn’t mind finding out. Whatever the beast is, its lair is through those doors up there. Whoever is staying, we can either go in after it, or set guard to those doors at the least. Are there any talented adventurers here? Or are you all just treasure scavengers? I suggest the latter leave so you don’t get in the way,” said Thalion waiting for a response. His words sounded harsh, but needed, he felt. The ones who weren’t serious or skilled could get in the way, and no one wanted someone who was secretly a cowards watching his back. Let them save their own skins and be out of the way. He hoped though, that there were some serious adventurers who had dealt with similar situations, ones who had gone in dark places and faced things that most people only talked about in hushed whispers around the fire on cold nights. He looked around the faces of those gathered around waiting to see who would leave in the morning, and who would stay and do what could be done.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by Drache » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:30 pm

There was already a serious adventurer down in the darkness. Not content to wait for lazy loiterers to work themselves up to venturing into the deep, the fire-drake forged ahead, settling her wings along her spine in anticipation of not being in spaces wide enough to use them for a while. The thrum of paranormal power wasn't as off-putting as it was informative. Her own lair had a similar, though obviously more familiar hum.

Drachia sniffed and looked about, moving into the chamber with a thoughtful claw tapping on the hilt of her cutlass. Once inside the chamber, she summoned a reddish magelight with a thought and sent it hovering somewhere over her horns. The better to see the statue with, gazing upwards into the elfin face, following the gesture of his frozen hand as though it might reveal something to her. She even peeked at the book clutched to his robes as though tempted to see if she could wrest it from him and skim its pages. Like many half-dragons, the fiery magus was a bit of a bookwyrm. Since doing such a thing was unlikely, she simply eyed the bronze plaque and the writing thereon.

About this time she could here the mutterings and murmurings of those camped on the doorstep of the mountain, those in the camp stirring to life and speaking in low tones that echoed down into the chambers where she was. She flicked her ear-frill and paid them no mind. With the reddish magelight glowing above, she turned with a swish of her tail to check the shallow alcoves, eyeing the engravings that were previously lost in the darkness. Perhaps they would give some clue as to what they might expect to find as they moved deeper into the earth.

She had likely passed it several times by now, but eventually she paused to nudge the pack with a set of talons, wary of vermin made all the deadlier for their existence underground. Provided nothing nasty made itself known, she began to pilfer through it curiously.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by metalslime » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:59 pm

The question Thalion put to the group might have been answered in a number of ways, but no sooner had those words left his lips than there was a rustle and creak in the trees above. Not directly above, but well over their heads and behind the horses, toward the dark side of the camp. Something that wasn't wind moved those trees, and it was clear that whatever it was had a heading that brought it closer to those dark doors. The trees bend and sway, and there's a dull, sickly thump from time to time, as if something heavy and meaty were striking the trunks. And then, well then a flickering flare of light shines from the doors that stand ajar, and from small shafts above, just the thinnest of red lights that are visible nonetheless within the dark of night.

Within the chamber, the drake's magelight flares brighter than it should, bathing the chamber in its reddish glow, before beginning to fade back to normal. Like a torch lit in a place with built up gasses, flaring out to consume them, then sputtering back to normal. In this case, it was likely latent magics that had caused that spell to flare at first. The elf certainly has an imperious look about him, frozen in stone forever. But then, what elf didn't have that sort of look about them at some point? In that light, and far enough into the chamber that the depression of the floor was no longer blocking the view, the plaque at the base of the statue could be read. It was in an archaic elvish script, but could likely be deciphered by those who understood that tongue. 'Alxethren, seeking ever that which he valued most in life'

The book itself is hard to decipher from any angle, but the exposed pages do seem to be some sort of spellbook's contents, carved into a stoney page.

The light also brings the niches into view. There are five, with the space where the six would be being occupied by the actual exit from the mountain ruin. One of the niches bears a carved scene of a pastoral field, another that of a tower stretching into some sky, with dragons flying about it. The third, where the blood stains seem to disappear into the wall bears the image of stacks of books, while a fourth depicts some manner of treasury room, with coin and gems that actually glint in the magelight, as if the carving bore some manner of metal to it. The last of the niches depicts an elven woman in a flowing gown, her face well rendered on the stone, almost haunting in its expression.

About this time, in additino to the stirrings from outside, the dragoness can hear the creaking and rustling of trees, as if stirred by some strong wind. Except it seems to be getting closer.

The pack itself is easy to disturb, and spills its contents out. A battered journal lies amidst rope and grapple, various vials containing oil and other liquids, and enough rations for a man to live on for a few days. There are also ample supplies of paper and charcoal, suitable for drawing or taking rubbings with. A pipe and a bag of herb lie tied together with a piece of twine near the bottom.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by Drache » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:17 am

The oddly enthusiastic flicker of fire overhead didn't bother the drake too much. She noticed, certainly, but considering the thrum of power on the air she didn't consider it very surprising. Instead, her attention drifted from niche to niche, tail-tip twitching thoughtfully as she considered the carvings in turn. She lingered longest over the one with the swooping dragons, even going so far as to reach out a claw and trace the edge of one stoney wing. And certainly her eye lingered over the depiction of glittering wealth, but eventually she returned to the bloodstained floor, bringing the abandoned pack with her. It seemed this way was the way onward and downward, but how? Her pupils widened and narrowed as she considered it.

Scooping all the various accouterments back into the fine leather bag, she hefted it over her shoulder in addition to her own pack. Only the journal remained in her claws, and she flipped the pages to the last with writing on it, as though to learn something about its former owner and what befell those who had been here before.

The odd sounds from outside caused her earfrill to flick, but that was all, for now.

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Re: Expedition to the Grey Fangs [Adventure]

Post by metalslime » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:35 pm

The bloodstains on the floor aren't entirely fresh, but they aren't faded enough that one might guess them to be ancient. They move right up to that niche facing the main entrance, then terminate, as if the wall in the back of the niche wasn't even there.

The leather bag is easy enough to lift, still sturdy and undamaged, although it was clearly designed for a humanoid without wings. The journal doesn't have that many pages filled, it's as if whoever had filled it had just started a new one. Still, four or five pages in, she comes to the last of the writing, written in a confident hand that showed no signs of fear of whatever befell whoever left the pack there...

"Day 90 - When I saw the statue, I could scarce believe it. This has to be the lost laboratory of Alxethren. Years of research, months of digging and clearing, the ridicule of my peers, none of it matters now. Ever since I laid eyes upon that statue, I feel a dozen years younger. Vindicated. I can die happy now, knowing that I have discovered this place, and yet curiosity drives me onward. What manner of secrets still remain in these halls? The men talk of treasure, but even if we find nothing, even if the laboratories and libraries are long emptied, the treasury scattered, even if the fabled crypt of Alxethren's lady love lies defiled, there's so much we can learn about this lost genius simply from the fragments left behind. That is the real treasure.

Day 91- The men have been growing increasingly agitated. Two more wandered off last night. The others believe some creature snatched them away, but it's superstitious nonsense. I've still got the best hunters I could find, and they could find no tracks, no sign of wild beasts or monsters. Well, their job is mostly done. For all I care the whole lot of them can wander back on home, I can always hire more muscle. Preparations are almost complete to venture beyond the main chamber. I suspect it is a simple concept puzzle. Somehow the right niche has to be selected, perhaps the way will open then? Who knows.

Day 92 - Still no progress in finding the method to select an answer. Perhaps I was mistaken?

Day 93 - It's the statue itself. That brute Marcus leaned against it and noticed it was loose. We managed to turn it to face each niche in turn, but nothing happened. There has to be a second aspect to it.

Day 94 - 'Ilbraetha'. It's been in front of me all this time. Alxethren keyed it to the name of his dead wife. But this discovery has come at great cost. The consequences for selecting the wrong panel are horrific. At least that's four men's wages that won't need to be paid. Still, with care we should be able to continue onward tomorrow.'

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