EBERRON- GAMER'S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN

I HAVE RECENTLY AGREED TO RUN AN EBERRON GAME AT MY LOCAL GAMING STORE. THE STORE IS GAMER’S GROTTO LOCATED IN BENNINGTON VERMONT.

UNCERTAIN WHAT TO DO WITH A PUBLIC COME’N’GO GAME I DECIDED TO RUN A GAME THAT RUNS PARARREL TO MY HOME GAME OF THE HIDDEN. THUS THE TITLE “GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN”.

DUE TO THE UNIQUE NATURE OF THE HIDDEN IT SHOULD ALLOW ME TO HAVE PLAYERS AND PCs COME AND GO MONTH TO MONTH.

AS SUCH, I AM TRYING TO CREATE SHORT LITTLE ADVENTURES THAT CAN BE COMPLETED WITHIN FOUR HOURS. THE PCs WILL ACT MUCH LIKE A WAYFINDER GROUP.

THE LEAD NPC IS GROTTO. HE RUNS A WAYFINDER’S GROUP AND WILL BE HIRING THE GROUP TO EXPLORE SPECIFIC AREAS OF THE HIDDEN.

THIS SAID, WE CAN NOW BEGIN.

TIM MY SON AND AVID PLAYER AGE 15
CATHY MY DAUGHTER, PLAYS SOME AGE 18
JESSE SON’S FRIEND. FIRST TIME PLAYER AGE 14
JULIE WALK-IN PLAYER, NEVER PLAYED EBERRON AGE MID 40’S
JARED WALK-IN PLAYER, LONG TIME DM AGE 25
NEVER PLAYED EBERRON
 
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GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 001
ACT ONE: GROTTO’S TAVERN
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
GROTTO’S TAVERN
RHAAN 11, 999

Snarl, a shifter ranger comes to Grotto’s Tavern hoping to find work. Swoon, a human wizard also has come here to look for work and listen to the locals and their stories. Naila, an elf archer is here for a drink and look about. A cleric named Gilad Freeman comes in looking to get a feel for the swamp settlement. A very large warforged named Cornnerstone draws attention from the locals as he strides in also.

All five of these adventurers are new to the city and literally just arrived on various ships today.

They take in the rumors and speak to each other to learn a little about each other. There is talk about a colossal red dragon that roams the swamp to the south. It apparently attacked the city a few months ago for no reason then left. people have gone missing also. Some taken from their beds and homes at night. A group of local heroes (or villains depending on the source of the rumor) have returned many but not all of these people. Many people that live in the swamp are also disappearing. These include able-bodied rangers and druids. Strange times.

War. Many speak in fear of armies to the north and the east. Fiends and dragons are massing to the north on the edge of the Demon Wastes and Eldeen Reaches. In response, Aundair has begun to mass an army on the opposite border of the Reaches. There are also reports of encampments of trolls, ogres and gnoll in the Graywall Mountains that separate Breland from Droaam.

So much happening in a quiet corner of the continent of Khorvaire.

Speaking of strange things, the cook here has a chicken on his shoulder. One drunken customer whispers that this chicken is no chicken but a familiar. Another worker is a goblin whose mixed drinks at the bar are well known for their strength. Orcs and dwarves go easy on his drinks even.

They turn as they hear footsteps on the stairs behind the bar. A large ½ orc whom is well dressed comes down. He wears a dress shirt (mostly unbuttoned), a black vest and dark red pants. His forearms are covered by black leather straps that hide many defensive wounds and their scars. One eye has scar tissue around it and a white milkiness around it. Obviously, this ½ orc has seen battle. His name is Grotto. He owns this tavern and the Wayfinders Organization next store.

He puts a sheet of parchment up on a bulletin board with a small iron pin. “Looking for some help for anyone interested.” He says in a deep and gruff voice. “Pays well.”

The drunkards stare and blink their eyes trying to concentrate. The five new people to the tavern are first to approach him.

House Tharashk is willing to pay people a silver a day to enter the swamp and investigate the events of one of their collection facilities.

When asked more about it, Grotto adds they have given him a note of passage to use the Dragon Road to go most of the way in.

The five of them agree to do it.
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 002
ACT TWO: DRAGON ROAD
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DRAGON ROAD
RHAAN 11, 999

The just hired adventurers head out. They have further learned that all contact ended with the facility last week. They sent out a team to investigate. They never returned. Curious.

They walk through the Yrlag docks to the west until they reach Dragon Road. Dragon road is an exclusive high dock and roadway built by House Orien for House Tharashk. The Finder’s Guild, use this road to quickly and safely move the collected Dragonshards from the swamp to their headquarters in Yrlag. These Dragonshards are used with magical storage and call for a top price to the rest of Eberron. Several armed ½ orcs are guarding the stairs that connect the civilian docks from the Dragon Road at Black Tower. There are several short towers along the Dragon Road. Each is given a name based on its color. This one has been painted Black and thus- The Black Tower.

“Halt” snarls a large ½ orc guard.

The group slow down and only stop when several other guards level their spears in the direction of the adventurers. “None may pass.” The guard declares.

“Sorry my good gentlemen, we are new to the this fine city and its ways.” Offers the cleric Gilad.

“We have these and permission to go.” Offers the elf as the shifter hands them the travel papers.

The ½ orc reads it carefully while peering out over the outstretched scroll. “So you do. Good luck and tell us what has transpired.” He says with a smile (complete with a gold tipped tooth showing above his upper lip.

The Dragon Road is made of ceramic tiles and magically reinforced timber. Instead of being about ten feet above the water and swamp, it stands about twenty feet high. Once they feel they are beyond the point of being heard they discuss the recent events and more about each other.

“Did you notice he was smiling? Do you think he knows something we do not?” asks Gilad to the Shifter and the group.

“Or maybe he thinks he knows something” suggests the shifter.

They continue down the secure walkway into the swamps outside of the city of Yrlag’s boundaries. The raised walkway begins to drop in height but even here, the group can see occasional alligators, crocodiles (Yrlag is in brackish water), snakes and thousands of insects.

Within a mile of the city the walkway is now only a few feet above the watery mess that is the swamp. Short brush and trees over hang and create tunnels of gray and shadow on the Dragon Road. Soon, the very edges of the road are being consumed by the swamp. Instead of a twenty foot wide path it is fifteen foot and then ten foot.

They still have not seen any other guards.

They approach an especially dark and over grown area and hesitate. It looks like an ideal place for an ambush.

Swoon looks carefully and sees something within the shadows. Something large and with glowing eyes.

The shifter Ranger walks closer and sees it for what it is-

A Dragon!
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 003
ACT TWO: THE BLACK DRAGON
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DRAGON ROAD
RHAAN 11, 999

“Stop where you are.” Demands a five foot tall Black Dragon. He tries to spread his wings some to make himself appear bigger and more fearsome. “You will stop and speak to me.”

This is the first dragon any of them have seen and it spooks them. They had heard of a very big red one but a small black one? It looks skeletal- maybe undead even.

“You are not the orcs. Why are you here?” It commands as it begins to shift its weight from foot to foot.

“Official business.” Offers the shifter.

“We have permission.” Adds Swoon.

“What brings you here?” dares the cleric.

“I will ask the questions here. I am the power here.” Declares and orders the dragon as it shifts from side to side.

“You appear to be at unease. Is everything alright?” offers the cleric.

“I offer you your life to do something for me.” Snarls the dragon as it rises to its full height of six foot.

“And what would that be?” asks the elf. He is uneasy facing a dragon. Dragons and elves have a long history of conflict in the past.

“Where do you go? What is your Official Business?”

Seeing no point to trying to lie to the dragon Snarl tells him that they seek a dragonshard collection facility with missing staff. The dragon listens very carefully to the shifter.

“You will tell me everything that you would tell the orcs. I wish to know what transpires within the swamp also.” At this point the dragon is outright pacing….. in nervousness or fear?

The dragon withdraws itself into the swamp and seems to disappear in the brush. The five of them look to each other. Did this just happen to them?

They continue down the Dragon Road for another mile and spot several ½ orcs again. They appear very distracted. At about thirty feet one of the guards spots the adventurers and barks orders. Most of the guards turn around quickly and put on a fierce and stern look. Some are slow to and seem distracted.

They must show their paperwork again and once more the lead guard seems somehow amused.

“What makes you so happy kind sir?” asks the cleric.

Before he can answer, Snarl looks over his shoulder. The swamp looks very open…. Too open.

“You may go as the papers say. The boats to reach the facility are about 75ft this way. Be my guest.”

There is an unnerving gleam in the ½ orc’s eyes. Everyone moves up and the guard’s glances return to what lies beyond.

“What….. what is it? Asks the mage.

“We are calling it NEW WATER.”
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 004
ACT THREE: NEW WATER
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DRAGON ROAD
RHAAN 11, 999


The swamp is gone.

The Dragon Road has partially collapsed into purplish-blue clear water. About twenty feet away, the road emerges onto an island where a small dock and several row boats are.

“Those are you boats.” Says the ½ orc. “All you need to do is walk to them.”

Everyone is speechless and motionless.

Finally the shifter steps up to the “water” and sniffs at the air. No insects… no rot… no vegetation…. No fish….. “What happened?” he asks in quiet and humbled awe.

The cleric walks up the water and sticks his quarterstaff gently into the substance. He expected it to eat away the wood… after all- it ate the swamp.

“It was a dense and dangerous swamp three days ago. Now it is an open and dangerous expanse.” Says the guard. “Go and report back what you find.”

The shifter notes what the bottom looks like. Hundreds … thousands…. Millions and millions of bright blue berries or even frog eggs cover the floor of the water. Occasionally there is a red or green bead. Even a yellow or green one can be seen here and there.

The cleric dips his staff into the murk and stirs the bottom. The beads are semi-buoyant. They lazily float and settle back down. He takes the staff out and inspects the tip. It looks intact.

The warforged soldier steps up but the shifter motions for him to stop. He fears if he gets too close, the bank may collapse and thus toss him (and the others) into this New Water). “Give us another moment my friend.”

The cleric dips his staff in again and brings it up. Cautiously he fingers the substance. “It’s oily” he offers.

Gritting his teeth, the shifter comes to a decision. Before the cleric can stop him, he steps into the water and onto the fish-egg like colorful beads.

He comes to realize he had his eyes closed and opens them one at a time. No pain.

“That could have ended worse.” Offers the mage.

The beads are soft and jelly like. However, they are tough enough to not burst or tear open under the shifter’s clawed feet. The beads merely float up and settle again. They are ankle deep. The ground under the beads seem solid… very solid. No mud or rotted vegetation.

The ½ orcs let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding in. The head guard huffs and reminds them they have a duty to fulfill. They need to be going.

The shifter walks across the water to the boats. The cleric empties his water flask (you may need that later!) into the water. Nothing. He carefully collects several blue beads and the New Water and caps it tightly.

Looking at the boat, they suspect the weight of the warforged may be too much for it. The shifter offers a push. He pushes and guides the boat the warforged sits in. The cleric travels by himself and the mage and elf in the third boat. Occasionally, they see a small bush growing out of the water or a stray dragonfly. But no animals within the water.

“What happened?” asks the Warforged looking at the water.

“Madness” states Swoon.

“What do you mean by that?” Asks the elf.

“This area was once the stronghold of a race of planar invaders. These aliens… these aberrations to everything normal and natural lived here. It took the combined strength of giants and dragons to push them back.”

“I thought it was Dragons and druids….” Suggests the cleric.

“Whatever…. What is important is this area has ruins of these creatures still here. Their taint remains. Many scholars believe that is the cause of such creatures like Beholders, Mind flayers and worse to exist. Perhaps… this is somehow related.” Says the mage with a concerned look on his face.

“What is that?” asks the watchful elf.

Two pebbled lumps can be seen about thirty feet away. They are greenish-gray in color.

“Frogs. Really big frogs.” Offers the shifter.

Stir clear of them. Maybe they will leave us alone if we leave them be.” Suggests the cleric.

They do this and soon they can see a structure in the distance. Is that it?” asks the elf.

“I hope so.”
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 005
ACT FOUR: THE FACILITY
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
NEW WATER
RHAAN 11, 999

The Tharashk Dragonmarked family uses this place to collect and clean their Eberron Dragonshards. They can be found within the mud and water encased in brittle stone. One must first find them then collect them. When brought to the facility, they are broken open and the magical crystals inside are separated and washed. Then they are packed and secured to be brought back to Yrlag. Here they are brought to Zarash’ak where air ships and ships take them across the continent to Sharn, Trolanport and other cities.

There are two building here. One is a large three story structure and the other is a two story square. The two are joined by a small stone bridge that connects two stone and rock structures. It appears House Orien built these also possibly from clever use of mud to stone spells.

They check it all out as they approach the structure. There are many trees and brush still around the building. Looking into the water, it is still a dark blue with beads within it. The water depth never changed either. It has remained at about 18 inches in depth with about 3-4 inches of these beads on the bottom.

They spot two balconies on the tallest structure. One is encased in glass and the other with a blind. There is no way to be certain if anyone is watching them. There are signs of life here.

The shifter gently pushes the warforged’s boat to a dock the cleric had seen. The cleric gets out is thankful he not walk in the New Water as much as the shifter did. The mage and elf get out next. The mage is less than graceful but doesn’t fall in.

The warforged tries to steady himself now. The shifter has moved away to climb onto the structure further away. The warforged tries to get out but the boat kicks out from under him and his foot lands hard in the water with a loud splash. The beads slowly settle back over his large foot. He walks back to the dock and finds it will be difficult to clear the 18 inches of water and the foot of rock. Seeing his distress, the cleric offers a hand. Forgetting just heavy the fighter is, the cleric gives a good yank and finds himself falling into the water head first.

Luckily- he kept his mouth shut.

“Well that was embarrassing.” He says as the warforged thumps a leg onto the dock and rolls onto the structure. He offers his own four fingered hand to the cleric and easily pulls him out of the water.

Swoon and the elf go to the smaller square building. Snarl has already entered the other building as Gilad and Cornnerstone arrives. Snarl sees little as he first enters the structure. Stairs lead up and an open doorway leads to the rest of the first floor. He looks into this room and sees long sorting tables. Based the bits of debris here and there, he guesses this is where they process the shards. The cleric agrees.

At the other building, the mage and elf find no windows to look in. There is but one door. It is reinforced with a metal frame and copper strips. The elf tries the door and finds himself electrified. Stunned but not ready to give in yet, he goes to kick in the door. The mage shakes his head in disappointment. He thought all elves knew better. The electrical jolt sends the elf back against the rail.

“The copper adds to the warded doors magical jolt. You will not be opening that door easily.”

“To be reinforced suggests the need for protection. I suspect there is money or something of worth within.”

“And thus not the reason we are here. We are looking for answers to why the employees are missing- not gold or shards.” Scolds the mage.

At the top of the stairs Snarls finds a 3ft by 2ft cloth that glows. He carefully steps around it. The room here is plush with large and comfortable looking seats and tables. At the end are two doors that lead to presumably the glassed in room. The warforged climbs up the steps and holds at the top.

“What is this?” he asks of the mat. “Is it a trap?”

The cleric comes up behind him and inspects it. Against his better judgment, he reaches out to move the small rug. As he grasps it, the glow flows onto his dirty gloves and magically cleans the dirt and muck from them.

“That is incredibly nice.” He exclaims. “It’s a foot mate that magically cleans your boots.”

“No wonder the floor is so clean.” Adds the shifter looking at his own footprints on the floor.

The sound of the elf triggering the electrical trap can be heard. “Sounds like trouble.” Warns the warforged. He and the cleric go down the stairs. The shifter remains at the top of the stairs wondering why one would want a mat to clean their boots like this.

He begins to look around now while alone.

When the warforged and cleric arrive, the elf is climbing a tree that grows close to the building. He has spotted small windows on the second floor. Using the tree, he can hop onto the window sill but finds there is no way to open it. The rock has been magically molded over and around the edges of the thick glass. Peering in, he can see little inside. Frowning, he decides to try the roof.

The mage is not impressed with the decision but does appreciate the elf’s climbing ability. The cleric reaches him first. “What happened?”

“The elf is proving how foolish it can be to try to steal from a Dragonmarked House.”

“Any success?” Gilad says with a smile.

“Oh plenty. The door is warded with electrical magic. The windows are designed to be theft proof also. He is trying the roof now.”

The cleric hears a howl of pain and rushes off back to the main building. The warforged slumps his shoulders. He had just gotten there with his large and heavy frame and now he has to go back.

From the roof, Naila spots the group entering the larger building and decides that would better than standing here still smoking from the electrical barrage.

Inside on the second floor, the shifter is fighting off bloated dire rats that were hiding under a large couch near the doors. He has just gotten away from them when the others arrive. Like the others, the mage comes to an abrupt stop when he faces the mat. “Cleans your feet” adds the cleric as he rushes past him.

“Amazing- what will the Houses come up with next?” says the mage in true amazement and appreciation.

The shifter points out where the rats are and they wait for them. In a few moments, they spot one sticking its head out. They rush it and attack. A total of four dire rats have collected in the corner under the couch. When the creatures are struck they seem to burst like a balloon. “Ugh!” calls out the mage.

“Not undead…. What are they?” asks the cleric as another is burst.

“Maybe they will offer clues to this New Water….” The cleric strikes the creature with intensions of stunning it instead of killing it. The warforged stomps on one and it bursts loudly. The fourth one is knocked out.

“Now what?” asks the shifter.

“What is it?” asks the mage.

“Dire rat…. diseased maybe.” Offers the shifter.

“It’s not undead.” Adds the cleric. He collects the magical rug and rolls the rat up in it. “Should be safe enough to travel with now.”

They don’t bother checking the rest of the level and go upstairs. This is a small room that acts as a lookout.

Nothing of any interest. They go back down and step outside of the building. The elf goes to the mage. “Do you have any magic to locate secret doors?”

“To do what? Enter the tower?”

“Well- yes in fact that is exactly what I had in mind.”

The mage uses a spell to do this and finds nothing. There is only one way into the vault- through the electrified door.

Instead of using the spell on the other building, they decide to get back into the boats and leave before it is dark.
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
01 NEW WATER
SEGMENT 006
ACT FIVE: THE REPORT
4/5/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DRAGON ROAD
RHAAN 11, 999

The guards at the dock are disappointed when the group hurries by them. The one is repulsed when he sees a warty tail sticking out of a small rolled up rug.

It is not long before they are approached by a certain Black dragon once more.

“What news or evidence do you bring to me from the swamp?” it demands.

“There is no swamp. It’s gone. Magically altered.” Says the shifter.

“And you knew this. Why are you afraid of it?” demands the mage.

“I do not answer to you. You are mere mortals.”

“Dragons live a long time but not forever. So tell us what YOU know about the New Water.” Demands the elf. The cleric and mage take a step away from the elf.

“Errrrrrrr….. The swamp- report.” The dragon snarls as its red eyes glow fiercely in the dusk’s light.

“The swamp has been altered, seemly overnight. What was once a thick and dark swamp is now open and brightly colored. It is artistically beautiful to behold. Life is limited but exists.” Says the mage.

“We have this.” Offers the cleric whom tosses down the bundle.

“What is this? It stinks of rat.”

“It is a dire rat… a diseased one. Maybe altered by the very magics that altered the water. It absorbed my magical attacks without harm.”

This quiets the dragon that then begins to shift foot to foot again. The bundle quivers and kicks as the rat awakens. The dragon strikes it with his tail. Blood and guts squirt out then are sucked back into the rug through its magical cleansing effects.

“Any payment?” asks the warforged.

The dragon glares at him then a few coins pop out of nowhere and bounce and roll on the path. When they look up from grabbing the coins the dragon is gone.

They return to the tavern and tell Grotto everything including things they left out for the dragon. They do not mention the dragon just to be safe however.

He pays them and thanks them.

“Don’t go too far, I suspect others will want to explore this “New Water.”
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
02 ASSIMO’S MISADVENTURE
SEGMENT 007
ACT ONE: THE GNOME
5/3/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
GROTTO’S TAVERN
RHAAN 14, 999

DM NOTES: Julie is playing basically the character but this wizard is named Gandalf (yes- she is a LoTR fan)

Snarl, Cornerstone, Gilad and Aramil join the wizard Gandalf at the Grotto for some food and drink. While there, Grotto approaches them with a job offer. He hands them the flyer given to him by the scholar Amisso ir’ Lenni (some of you may remember him from the first The Hidden storyhour).
ASSIMO ir’LENNI OF MORGRAVE UNIVERSITY IS LOOKING FOR

ABLE AND WILLING EXPLORERS AND GUIDES TO ENTER THE

SWAMPS TO EXPLORE AND MAP THE REGION.

WILLING TO PAY A SILVER A DAY. ITEMS AND ARTIFACTS FOUND

THAT WOULD PROMISE EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL VALUE

WILL BE RETAINED BY THE UNIVERSITY.

WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA, ITS HISTORY AND

LANGUAGES WOULD BE BENEFICTAL BUT NOT REQUIRED. OTHER

SKILLS HAVE GREAT VALUE ALSO AND ARE RECONIGZED BY THE

UNIVERSITY.

THE FIRST EXPEDITITION LEAVES ON RHAAN 25TH FROM THE

GARDEN AT SUNRISE.

The group is quick to agree to check it out. Gilad recalls hearing the name before. It was associated with a fire and the attack of a colossal red dragon a few months ago. The group seriously doubts this is true and even if it is- so what. If he pays that is all that matters.


YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
THE GARDEN
RHAAN 15, 999

The group arrives just as the sun rises. Gilad checks out the garden. This section of the docks is nothing but potted plants and flowers that are maintained by a druid. It is a popular place to go for meetings or to read.

At this hour, there is only one other person here. A gnome dressed in bright red robes and a bent- once pointed wizard’s hat (bent-up from past adventure with original Hidden team) and the biggest and thickest glasses ever seen. They make his eyes look to be 2+ inches round. He is talking to himself and kicking his feet back and forth like a child waiting for his parent. What appears to be a street cat peers out from the potted plants and looks at the group. This cat has seen better days- much better days. One ear is damaged as if chewed on; it has two different colored eyes, tuffs of course hair on its hind quarters and a broken tail.

“Oh hey! Are you here for the job offering? So I am I!” exclaims the joyful gnome. “I mean of course I am- I am Assimo ir ‘Lenni. I work for Morgrave University. I’m a mapper!”

They introduce each other and then the gnome scholar introduces his familiar- Scratches. Scratches hides behind him at the mention of its name. When asked about the fire and dragon rumors he is quick to change the subject.

Not a good sign.

“I have boats and a wonderful map I made. I think I saw this place deep in New Water a few weeks ago. It looked like a building on top of some cliffs. I never knew the swamp had cliffs. Go figure!”

The group begins to get nervous about agreeing to work for this gnome. “It will take several days to reach there. I’ll pay you folks to go there and back. Anything found can be split up between all of us except things that my University would find of great interest (which translates as nearly anything).

“The New Water is safe enough to walk in,” he says looking at the large warforged, “though I wouldn’t recommend drinking it. It tastes really nasty.”

They start off immediately walking through Yrlag’s docks towards the swamps to the south east of the river town. Except for a few merchants arriving, the only activity are the fishermen. They leave the docks and walk for an hour or so on muddy trails that wander about from soggy but mostly intact mounds of earth and brush. The bugs have not begun buzzing about yet but the birds are calling and a few splashes can be heard within the bogs and hidden areas under the mangroo trees. These could be fish but most likely are crocodiles and alligators which both survive within this swamp with only a slight brackish water quality.

As promised, the gnome leads them to a group of three small rowboats. Snarl tells Cornnerstone that is will be his turn to push. If the warforged warrior is bothered by this he doesn’t show it. Amisso is disappointed as everyone decides to crowd into two boats and leaves him and Scratches to be the sole occupant (thus the rower also) of their boat. Scratches requires some help to get into the boat as he distrusts water- especially New Water.

Soon they are off and away.
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
02 ASSIMO’S MISADVENTURE
SEGMENT 008
ACT TWO: THE BONES AND BIRDS
5/3/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DEEP INTO NEW WATER, NEAR THE HIDDEN
RHAAN 17, 999

The first night was uncomfortable for the group. They “anchored” themselves to some stray mangroo in the swamp and slept within their tiny row boats as the warforged watched over them. More than once was a bit jumpy as a stray splash sound would be heard or in one case Scratches peeked up from the edge of the boat.

The second night, they found a small island. Snarl was concerned by a disturbance within the blue beads on the water’s unnatural surface. He steered everyone away from the area (Dragon Fish). Late on the third day out they spotted a grey cloud in the distance. As they closed in on it they noticed the cloud moved about within itself and seemed to be over a rounded structure. Amisso was quite excited as he did not see this before when he had adventured this way before. Again, when asked about this adventure he changed the subject quickly.

As thy got closer, they saw the cloud was in fact thousands of birds flying over an incredibly large, even colossal, body that was more bone than anything else. Snarl and Gilad observe the birds. There are ravens, crows, vultures and small brightly colored parakeets within this swarm. Snarl warns that not all birds are non-threatening. The group watches the vultures carefully with renewed respect.

As they get closer they are stunned by what the body is- it’s a colossal red dragon! Amisso nearly falls out of the boat at the awesome spectacle of the huge bones. He cannot help but wonder if it is the dragon he “saw” a few months ago. The others wonder about the rumors also. Though he doesn’t say anything, the gnome scholar truly hopes these remains belong to that dragon. The dragon was a real killjoy with his adventures and mapping of the New Water. How dare it try to burn his new “friends” on the docks a few months ago (See The Hidden)

The warforged decides to walk over to the skull. He figures there has to be some value in dragon teeth. Even as he is moving away from the three small rowboats, many of the very small green, blue and gold birds separate themselves from the other birds. The hundreds of small birds begin to fly towards the boats. Snarl is very concerned by this turn of events. “Uh…. Cornerstone…. Could you come back…NOW.”

Scratches quietly meows and hides under a seat as the gnome scrambles to pull out a fresh scroll and draw the dead dragon. He is so excited he drops the charcoal pen several times. The time he is giggling and smiling ear to ear.

The warforged grabs a long tooth and gives it a pull. Not only did it not come free, it damages the warforged’s metal and wood hand. The shudder of the skull and noise he makes seems to draw the attention of the swarm of little birds. They swoop down onto him even as Snarl shouts out a warning.

The warforged is confused by the sudden flashes of color and movement around him. Worse- these cute lil’ birds have razor sharp barbed beaks that individually would do no harm to him, are scoring his wooden parts. The elf stands up gracefully within the rowboat and fires an arrow into the swarm. Cornerstone feels something glance off his metal shoulder pad that he is certain was not a bird. Snarl hops out of the boat and makes way to his friend. The others use various spells to attack the swirling and swarming little birds.

After many minor scratches and nibbled off pieces, the warforged is relieved to find the spells are working on the swarm and they disperse. “Are you alright?” asks the Shifter as he splashes through the blue oily water.

“Yes.” Says the living construct in a monotone and emotionless reply. He tries the tooth once more but finds he is doing more harm to himself that the tooth. The shifter spots something mixed within the blue beads on the water’s floor. A leather strap from the looks of it. Being careful, with the handle of a weapon, he hooks it and pulls it out of the beads.

It is a necklace with an iron ring. (Amulet of NAC +2) He is not sure what it is and if the dragon once possessed it or someone else. He pockets it.

Snarl then collects a few of the dead birds for later identification. Amisso calls out to him- “Can you collect a few for me also? Scratches is hungry.”

They find another small pocket of brush with bits of land on it. There are also bits of sharp obsidian projecting through the water’s floor. Gilad had seen some at the dragon’s body and wondered about volcanos within the swamp? Snarl is aware of one in the mountains to north but none here. But then again- so much doesn’t make sense within New Water.

They sleep here and hope to find the scholar’s place soon.
 

GAMER’S GROTTO: THE HIDDEN
02 ASSIMO’S MISADVENTURE
SEGMENT 009
ACT THREE: WALL OF OBSIDEON
5/3/14

YRLAG, SHADOW MARCHES
DEEP INTO NEW WATER, NEAR THE HIDDEN
RHAAN 18, 999

“This can’t be right!” exclaims the gnome as the sun tries to peer out from the horizon. He is looking at a map and squinting at the last view of the stars as day arrives. He turns the map over and checks if this is better. Nope.

“What is wrong ?” asks the priest.

“The stars…. They are wrong. Nothing matches up. Well…. Maybe that one…. Nope. My bad. That’s not the Moon of the Finders.”

Snarl rolls his eyes in disbelief. “We’re lost?” he wonders out loud.

“No. I know where we are….. I think.” Says the gnome as he adjusts his thick glasses and looks at the sun again. “We came from there…… so this is…. North?..... yeah- north. So this is where we go.” He points out over the New Water. “Or it there….?” and he points in a different direction and bubbles with his star map in the process.

“Are you sure? Would you like some assistance?” asks the priest of knowledge and magical secrets.

“No….nope I’m sure which way to go. Straight that way (pointing to yet a third direction).

“So long as we get paid.” Grumbles the shifter as he tries to stretch out the kinks in his back. Sleeping in the boats is not for shifters. “Eldeen is better than this…. Even with the threat of fiends.” He mumbles louder than he meant to.

An hour or so into moving in a fourth direction Assimo gets excited. “There it is! I can see it!” He drops the oars and scrambles to collect them quickly. Everyone looks in the general direction he is looking. Something very large and reflective can be seen in the distance. With renewed haste they walk and paddle to the area.

Move and more black glass shards protrude from the water. Some of the shards are smooth edged but most are not. They do their best to avoid them just in case. Occasionally, the shards have bits of land or brush at the base. As they close in on what they saw from the distance they see there is a wall over 100ft tall of the black glass. There is also a very tall mass of land near the wall.

Gandalf notices something different about the water. The beads on the bottom are gently rolling towards the wall. When he mentions it to the others Snarls recognizes it as current. The water is no longer perfectly still. Is this good or bad is unclear.

Everyone watches the glass wall as they move towards it. Gilad and the elf feel there is something in sky beyond the wall. Two or three objects are high above the ground behind this wall. They can’t make out details as the sun is behind it making it painful to stare to long at them. Not that it matters…. They are nearly there.

The cliffs rise above the New Water by about 100 ft. There is thick vegetation growing on the top including long vines that hang down the sides. A building or two can just be seen near the top. The cliffs also seem to have holes within it.

The gnome nearly falls out of the boat as his robe snags on the wall of the boat as he tries to step out. Once in the water, Scratches climbs up his arm and onto his shoulder. It stares with great fear at the water.

Naila, the elven archer, looks to climb to the lowest cave available. He easily climbs up. The warforged slides down several times digging into the packed earth and stone each time. Snarl picks up the Gnome and his familiar when he sees a pathetic look on the gnome’s face. It is obvious this climb will not go well for the scholar.

The elf spots footprints leading into the cave. After a few false starts, the priest arrives and castes Light onto his walking staff. Using this, the two of them go deeper into the cave. Once the shifter is near the cave entrance, the gnome scrambles and jumps off (using the shifter’s head for a push point) and hurries after them. Scratch’s miss-matched eyes plead with the shifter as he bounces along on the gnome’s shoulder.

In everyone’s excitement…. They leave the warforged behind. He has made several failed attempts at climbing and has become frustrated (the player also) at his inability to climb. They find nothing within the cave and discover tracks lead out also.

Assimo hopes back onto Snarl which leads to him snarling in action as well as in name. The warforged reaches the first cave entrance just as everyone has begun further up. Snarl spots movement to the side near another cave entrance. He alerts everyone to it and they see a small white reptilian creature waddle out to the edge of the cave. It yawns and gives a quiet screech.

Gilad recognizes it as a Spire Dragon. He thought they only lived in Sharn at the highest points of the fabled mile tall towers of the city. The creature settles down and watches the water, possibly for food.

Soon they can reach vines and roots and with these to help with their climb, they go up much smoother and quicker.

Soon they reach the top and discover there are several buildings here. And like everything else here- strange to behold.
 

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