The Hollow Earth

Chapter 1, Part 7 - The Land of the Free

Tunnels and Trolls (well, Kobolds)

After leaving Kvothe, the team noticed that they were short on provisions to make the fully voyage to Hux in Ayfa. Based on Navki and Raru’s knowledge of the region, they decided to stop at a town in an ungoverned expanse called the Freeport. Along the coast there is a town called Freehold that Navki believed could help them out.

After succesfully parking (and mooring!) The Falcon, the team met a group of fisherfolk who offered to watch their ship while they went hunting provisions. They were told to head up to Fish’s, a large warehouse-like building that doubled as both a restaurant and the town’s only inn. Before they left the dock, the team also tried to befriend a lazy white dog relaxing in a dog house at the end of the dock. They offered it water and rations but it wasn’t really interested.

At Fish’s The Argent Defenders found an old man with a straw hat and working shirt sitting outside on the porch. As he sipped he drink, the told them all about the town and its history. Very quickly though, the conversation turned sour. He told them about the town’s 7pm curfew.

The curfew was in place “on accounta the death”. When Bellatrix asked about it, the told them the town’s story.

A long time ago they dealt with Kobolds who raided the town and stole things from people. They also killed and stole livestock as well and became a real nuisance. The town sent two men, Bert and Charles to a nearby cave that they’d tracked the kobold’s footprints to. The men entered and didn’t return.

Soon thereafter a gnome arrived in town named Xiff. He was an inventor who offered to help the town with their kobold problem. He moved into a large house on one of the nearby hills and set to work. People in town would hear explosions and see bright flashes of light for a few days. Finally, Xiff returned to town and told everyone he’d solved their kobold problems.

Sure enough, he had.

He explained that he’d managed to summon some creatures to prowl the town’s streets and take care of the midnight raiders. Every night around 7pm the townsfolk would hear a loud bang and see a flash of light up in the house and the air would grow still. The tall grass on the hill leading up to the house would sway and creatures – the townsfolk called them “the shadows” – would emerge and scour the streets for any living thing.

They quickly took care of the kobolds. Every morning when folks would wake up they’d find skeletons picked clean of skin, muscles, and tissue. The skeletons looked like they’d been boiled and prepared by professional taxidermists.

After a while when it appeared that the kobolds had been dealt with the town had a celebration. While everyone was in the streets having a good time the townsfolk hear a bang and looked up at Xiff’s house. They quickly realized that was happening and ushered everyone inside.

Sadly, some children were left in the street and didn’t make it inside. They were utterly devoured by the night prowlers. Xiff, seeing what his creation had become, returned to his home in the morning to shut off the machine and set things right.

That was over a month ago and Xiff hasn’t been seen nor heard from since.

After the story, the PCs offered to help Freehold deal with their problems in exchange for supplies for their voyage. The old man in front of Fish’s said it sounded like a good idea and the team asked if they could meet the town mayor. The old man explained that he in fact was the mayor. The mayor needed to hear some of their tales, to know if they were adventurers or not so Navki whipped up a short song to regale them of their exploits:

We saved Copper from strife
Furio found his dead wife.
On a boat named Falcon,
we took a ride;
to come to this place
and fight by your side.

They went into Fish’s place and while being served by a staffer behind the bar, they could hear swearing coming from the connected warehouse. Going back there, they met Fish, who was dealing with wooden crates that had been smashed and robbed in the middle of the night. A quick search revealed kobold footprints on the floor nearby. Behind some crates was a depression that looked like a collapsed cave. The team asked Fish and his assistant, Drum some questions and then decided to head out to the kobold lair next to Lover’s Peak.

After rummaging around in some bushes they found the entrance to the lair. There were older human footprints there (at least a month or two old) and kobold ones too. Large rocks had been placed in front of the cave’s opening to prevent others from entering.

After the sorcerer had cast levitate to move the rocks out of the way and the bard casting a spell to shed light in the dark tunnel ahead, the group followed the passage around until they came to a small lair that was dark and smelled like death.

The room was split up into “rooms” by hastily-constructed walls and had a fire pit in the centre of the room that hadn’t been used in a long time. Checking the small rooms, ranger discovered that inside those rooms were piles of slain kobolds. Doing a survival check, he realized they bore gashes and cuts by large weapons (larger than kobolds anyway).

Next, the fighter did a dungeoneering check and found a hidden passageway to the north that was covered with a piece of leather that had been stretched over a drying rack. She, the bard, and one of the rogues followed the passageway to a round room illuminated faintly by natural light high above. The floor of the room was filled with ivy and amongst the roots they saw two shiny objects. The bard went to check out one of the objects which turned out to be a small pendant that said, “Bert”. The rogue stooped to check out the other thing which turned out to be a sword but it was really wrapped up in the roots of the ivy. As he twisted and pulled on it, the ivy came to life as an assassin vine. Time to fight!

After some slashing, the vine grabbed the rogue and started squeezing him. With another vine it attacked the bard and fighter in turn. As they called for help and the other team members filed into the narrow, 5-foot corridor the wizard cast grease on the constricted rogue who managed to slip out of its grasp. During the fight, some of the grease ended up on the bard’s hands, causing her to drop her mace – which promptly got lost amongst the coiling roots of the monsters.

With their other teammates taking shots at the creature from the hallway they eventually managed to kill it but not before Mung was reduced to 9hp. They took the necklace and sword with them as the mayor of Freehold had suggested that if they found the men they’d sent to finish the kobolds, they should send them home.

At the far end of the room was a large carving in a wall. It depicted a skeletal dragon’s head and written around it in draconic was, “It feats on the wet gore of the living”. Mung brought one of the dead kobolds in the main room and rubbed it on the door with no luck. Ezren and Raru realized that it had to be wet gore so they got Mung to lean against the door as he was still bloody from the fight with the vine.

The wall became animated and took a bite out of him for good measure. Saturated with blood (and having bled itself), the wall began to rotate revealing a chamber beyond.

At the far end of the room was a large mural depicting a large gold-coloured, serpent-like skeleton coiled through the roots of a tree. The image showed figures breaking its ribs and crafting them into wondrous items. Ezren and Furio gleaned more information with a Knowledge Arcana check to discover:

  • the ribs have been turned into staves and wands
  • they’re depicted as being used to fight undead and then turning into small versions of the serpent to bite their user

In the middle of the room was another altar sealed with magics that looked to Raru like very old blood had been smeared on it long ago. Spilling Mung’s blood (again) on the altar caused its lid to slide away revealing a small wooden dish with 3 platinum pieces on it and a rustic-looking necklace covered with colourful feathers. The necklace was a talisman that bestows upon its user (a 1-time use) the Alter Self (Small creature, details: http://paizo.com/prd/spells/alterSelf.html).

A successful dungeoneering check revealed another narrow passageway leading deeper into the lair.

With Gunnar the paladin in the lead, the gang made their way down the narrow path until they found themselves on a small platform on one end of a large expanse with a 50’ drop. Across the expanse were kobolds sitting at fires eating and chattering with one another. Each platform was at least 10’ apart meaning that The Argent Defenders needed to leap between them in order to progress.

Eventually four of the players fell into the pit instead of making their jumps. Raru the ranger, Bellatrix the fighter, Gunnar the paladin, and Furio the sorcerer got to explore the bottom of the pit while the Merisiel and Mung, the team’s rogues, easily leapt across the platforms, lead by Navki the bard. Ezren the wizard hung back and shot frosty rays at kobolds from the safety of the original platform.

Eventually most of the kobolds were killed (but not before Furio took a shot at a kobold from below with a fire bolt, missed it, and caused a stalactite to fall on Gunnar’s head) and the team climbed back to the platforms to press on, to chase the one kobold who managed to scramble away down another passageway.

That passage ended in a large domed room with crates and barrels piled in the middle of it. Using the sorcer’s ability to open objects to try to avoid any traps, they discovered that the contents matched what had been stolen from the surface.

Off this room were three more chambers with ladders that led upwards. In one of them they could hear heavy breathing and Merisiel followed them up the ladder. She found a kobold trying to escape – the same one that had fled from the canyon earlier. Killing it, the team split into three groups and climbed the ladders to see where they lead.

In fact, each led to a completely different place. The first team found themselves going through tunnels and climbing up ladders until they emerged from the well in the middle of Freehold. Another group found themselves at a wall of loose sand that was moved out of the way by the shovels of Fish and Drums from the warehouse.

The third group found a twisted mass of steel and metal that was impassable. It looked like the hole had become sort of a garbage chute for whatever was above it. They returned and climbed up through the opening leading to the well.

When they regrouped at the surface it was about 4:30pm and they decided to tackle Xiff’s house – to get inside before the 7pm curfew and before the monsters came to pick their bones clean.

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