Beneath the Clockwork Mountain

When Huxley met Tormund

The ground was wet and soft, perfect for tracking. Tormund felt the ground give way with each step and kept alert to be sure they were walking into an ambush. There had been several Globlin raids on the livestock and local farms. Normally it's nothing the average dwarf can't handle, But they had been coming out in greater numbers in the past months. They had also been getting bolder pushing out into more populated area's.

 

The worried farmers of the surrounding area pleaded with the Dwarf hierarchy for assistance with the Goblin threat, but their pleas were unheard. The hierarchy would not listen until the threat was at their gates.  Tormund's Father Brolin Blackale, the owner of a modest local brewery, had become a voice for the worried farmers. He was a somber man, average height with black hair and a large beard. His position as a business owner held more weight when asking for help. After all, failure to produce ingredients would mean the end of the brewery, and his family.  Brolin pleaded with the hierarchy for a second time, warning them that "Once the Goblins have slaughtered our countrymen and grown fat from their labors, Do you not think they will come for you?". The Hierarchy was unmoved and indifferent. Brolin returned to the farmers and told them that if they were on their own and would have to protect their borders themselves.  In order to halt the advance of the Goblins they needed to destroy a nearby camp. "They are too many, and there aren't many fighters among us" the voice of Arbor Hurksoil one of the farmers. Arbor was able to track the goblins back to their camp and was able to see their location and their numbers. Brolin had volunteered to lead an expedition. Tormund was eager for a fight as always, and was right behind his father. Arbor had also joined bringing along his two sons Keni and Feni. Feni was much larger than his brother, and stronger to boot, favoring a hammer. It was clear Feni took after his father in this respect Arbor was just as large when he was younger also boasting a large hammer. Keni was a hunter by trade like Tormund, and this was not his first expedition with him. Tormund and Keni had gone on numerous hunting trips together but under better circumstances. Keni preferred range over close quarters and wielded a crossbow.   A potato farmer named Wygruf Stonecutter was too old to join the fight but in his stead were his daughters Broomhilda and Gretchen. The sisters were twins and were hard to tell apart with matching red hair. They detested being mistaken for one another as they often were. Both wielded axes as was there namesake and were quite skilled with them. Since their father was in such poor health the upkeep and defense of the farm fell on them. 

"Not much further." Arbor lead the way With Feni close behind. They were truging through a forest about 6 miles from the Hurksoil Farm were Arbor had tracked them. The Stonecutter sisters walked side by side behind Feni. Brolin, Tormund and Keni were in the back making sure they were not being followed. Tormund began to hear the rabble for goblins and the soft glow of a bonfire. Arbor held up his hand "Wait!". He looked back at Keni and nodded. Keni nodded back opened his pack. He pulled out a length of rope and spiked shoes. He wrapped the rope around a nearby tree and proceeded to climb it. Brolin touched Keni's shoulders before the decent and whispered something in his ear. Keni turned back and nodded.

"What did you tell him ?" Tormund whispered. Brolin only smiled.

The group waited as he climbed. Tormund could feel eyes on him he glanced over his shoulder to see the Stonecutter sisters staring at him whispering something to themselves. Once they were discovered Broomhilda and Gretchen turned away immediately and focused on Keni climbing the tree. Tormund looked back at his father who raised his eyebrows in a goading fashion, nodding toward the Stonecutters. Keni had reached the top and let out three birdcalls, then waited and let out a fourth. This was Feni's way of communicating with the group. The calls represented a number, this perticular bird represented the number five. Twenty on seven didn't sound good but they had the element of surprise. Tormund brought out his Axe and Brolin brought out his Longbow. The Stonecutter sister's readied themselves with a sort of ritual. Touching their foreheads and reciting a old family creed: "Axes guide the way, Hearts of stone are never alone".

Brolin pulled Tormund aside "You're my son, Tormund and I want you to know whatever happens…don't tell your mother". Brolin grabbed his longbow got into position in a tree adjacent to Keni. Tormund made his way to where Keni and the Stonecutter's were.  Through the trees Tormund could see two bonfires and few small tents. Next to the tents were cages with various animals being kept alive before being slaughtered and cooked. One bonfire was right below Keni's tree with four Goblins sitting around it. The other was on the opposite side of the camp with five Goblins sitting around it. Arbor looked at Brolin and then at Feni.

"Hoot-Hoot" Arbor made an owl call. He wasn't really sure how to make bird calls, so Arbor just said "hoot-hoot"

One arrow shot from Keni's crossbow and into one of the bonfires. Simultaneously, Brolin loosed an arrow that hit the remaining bonfire.

FOOSH

Once the arrows hit their targets there was a flash of white light which stunned the Goblins around it. Tormund and Feni ran toward the furthest bonfire while the Stonecutter's ran to the other. As Feni and Tormund ran toward the fire they could seven goblins coming out of the tents. One Goblin pointed right at Feni. The goblin began to say something  "GraHbAhBa-" 

Thwip!

He was interrupted by crossbow bolt through his neck. Feni made it to bonfire before Tormund and swung his hammer. Feni's hammer collided with the head of goblin knocking it clean off the goblins shoulders. The hammer kept momentum continued knocking over another goblin in the process. One Goblin attempted to bury his blade in Keni's back but Tormund had seen it and swung his axe in a downward motion. The axe cut the goblin right down the middle in a grotesque manner. One of the other Goblins had witnessed this and attempted to flee. "COWARD!" Tormund hurled his axe at the creature and it found the back of its head.

Thwip!

An arrow rushed past Tormunds head and found itself in the ribcage of an advancing goblin. Tormund could hear his fathers voice faintly from a different tree "PAY ATTENTION" It wasn't long before Broomhilda was rushing over to the advancing goblins. Gretchen had finished dispatching of the Goblins at the first bonfire and was on her way to join her sister. Tormund ran over and grabbed his axe. He spun around in time to see a goblin advancing toward him. Tormund readied himself and cracked a smile but the head of a large hammer came down on the goblin smashing him to a pulp. It was Arbor with a worried look on his face. "HELP FENI!"

Tormund looked to see Feni fight off three goblins but he was on the defensive. He had lost his footing and fell down losing his hammer. "Har-HAr" The goblins laughed at his misfortune.

Thwip!

Another bolt found its target in the eye of the laughing goblin. The goblins were so startled by the shot they didn't hear Tormund running over. Tormund knocked over the first goblin and buried his axe in the face of the other. The goblin who was knocked down struggled to find his feet, but Feni found him first and crushed his head with the hammer.  Arbor, who was now covered in blood, looked toward his son to be sure he was safe and nodded at Tormund. Arbor had lost his Hammer in the fighting and had resorted to using his hands. Tormund witnessed Arbor tear the jawbone off of an unfortunate goblin beat him over the head with it.

"SHOW OFF!" Brolin could be heard from another tree.

Two goblins managed to get bows and started to fire arrows of their own. One arrow found Broomhilda's chest, piercing deep. She let out a cry, then laughed. "Fool! Arrows cannot pierce a heart of STONE" She hurled her axe at the goblin cutting him in half.

Thwip! Another arrow found the last Goblin. 

Keni descended from the trees as did Brolin. Brolin looked over at Keni "Twenty huh? I count eightteen" Feni shrugged his shoulders "Supposed I miss counted" Broomhilda was breathing hard "GRETCHEN!!…a little help." Broomhilda still had the arrow in her chest.

"Wow, looks like it hurts, Hildie" Gretchen stared at the protruding arrow. Taunting her sister. Broomhilda sat down, tired. "Only when I breathe, Now help me pull it out."

"You'll notice my dear Hildie, that I have no arrow stuck in me. Do you know why that is?"

Grecthen took both hands around the arrow. "Because your a cunt, who fights in the back?" Broomhilda retorted. Quite pleased with herself until Gretchen yanked with all her might to pull the arrow out. Broomhilda winced in pain then passed out, her wound began to bleed profusely.

"Damn, it tamponaded." Gretchen looked back the way they came. "We need to stop the bleeding soon. Someone will need to help me bring her back to our farm and patch her up. I have medical supplies there." Arbor volunteered to help he had seen arrow wounds before and could be useful. Keni and Feni offered to help carry her back to the farm. Tormund gathered his things but noticed one of the animal cages was gone. No one had taken one so he went to investigate and found goblin tracks heading to the south.

"Tracks!" Tormund called to his father. "Bah, the cowardly whoresons." Brolin motioned to Arbor and the rest "Take her back, Tormund and I will deal with the stragglers"

The ground was wet and soft, perfect for tracking. Tormund followed the tracks for what felt like a few miles then he could smell the smoke of a campfire. Tormund could hear the rabble of goblins. He peered through the trees and saw two goblins sitting around a campfire with their intended meal: A terrified baby bear. Brolin looked at Tormund "Remember Tormund…don't tell your mother" Tormund wondered why his father was focused on keeping secrets from his mother.

Thwip!

Brolin put an arrow in the chest of one of the goblins. He fell down and started screaming. The other goblin looked around and began to foam at the mouth he had a crazied look in his eyes and ran toward the dwarves hiding spot. "Well, probably should have mentioned that was my last arrow." Brolin looked at Tormund and sat down. "You can handle it."  Tormund took out his axe and reeled it back. The goblin rushed over toward them, his eyes were so focused on Brolin  he didn't see Tormund hiding in wait for him. Tormund swung his axe cut the goblins head clean off. The goblin that got shot by Brolin's arrow was still writhing in pain on the ground. Tormund thought to put it out of its misery. They approached the campfire, the baby bear was crying as they approched. Brolin puled out a small dagger and walked over to the goblin and stabbed him in the head. Tormund walked over to the cage. The opening was on the top of the cage with a handle on the door for carrying and unlocked it letting the cub out. "Go on." said Tormund as he motioned out of the cage. The cub stood up and jumped out of the cage. It looked up at Tormund and growled at him, but he wasn't hostile. "He won't survive without his mother." said Brolin. The cub growled and pawed at Tormund's leg. The cub was no bigger than a housecat. "Kill it and be done with it, it's a mercy, son."Tormund reached down and picked him up. The cub was immediately taken with him and latched on to Tormund's shoulder. Tormund also felt a connection with the cub, it felt like nature itself was telling him to look after the cub. Brolin recognized the look on his son's face. "You don't mean to keep it?".

"Bears can be good at tracking and hunting prey. He could be useful to me." Tormund said. The little bear licked Tormunds face and clawed at his beard. Brolin took a long look at Tormund. After five minutes of silence, Brolin finally said "Don't tell your mother, perhaps you can disguise him when he gets older." Tormund let out a sigh of relief. The Dwarves began to make their way back to Stonecutter farm with their new addition 

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Toasted underfoot
third log

  Pffn awaits the group at The Tin Fiddle with their reward in hand. He invites the group to visit him at the Krackengibb House once he has had time to study the components. Klaus greets the adventurers after the Wizard leaves inquiring about their quest.

  After being regaled and a few rounds drank Klaus happily announces the preliminaries for the upcoming Under Country drinking tournies. He happily answers questions to those uninitiated in the sport. 

   A few days go by seemingly business as usual for the group. Stores received summer wares from Whitefield and the general vibe of the city has calmed some since the goblin raid. Gnomish theremin marachi mixes with the din of the inn. Recruitment posters for the drinking league cover the walls of homes and businesses zig zagging through the massive city state. And it seems like the group are cultivating a modicum of celebrity in the neighborhood around The Tin Fiddle.

   After four days since the group retrieved the esoteric components for Pffn the inn is thrown into chaos. Klaus has gone missing! Where the proprietor sometimes attends to business around town his sickly condition does not let him linger far. Two days is enough to cause an uproar among the senior staff and most loyal patrons. 

     The group believes goblins did it and want to plunge into the tunnels. The murky network twisting through the heart of the mountain. Having a starting point helps the skilled trackers in the group and its not long before the old trail runs into something fresher.( per 1/16/17)

     They rush through the tunnels and stumble onto a base camp for the Goblin pests. They engage in a lengthy battle through out the tunnels unknowingly sparring a hidden town of misfits called Rut-town. Going so far as to intercede mid raid against the poorly armed hamlet. Regrettably they realize Klaus was never here and the leader of the Goblin band escaped in the final fray.

  Goblin hate runs deep and the group tracks them to the rope bridge they used to filter in to conduct their raids. The tracks indicate many more than they anticipated and rally back for more numbers. They return to Rivvihuas to find it besieged by crime and mysterious horror looming in the shadows. They resolve to return to the search for Klaus.

   Pffn directs them to the Gray Hand in the warehouses. There its the Gnome who drinks her way to help. Impressively bested the local champ in a shady drinking game called Drowish Wetnurse  they persuade the crooks into sharing further information.

   They are greeted by a trapped door that lodges an arrow into Quinn's face. While they render healing they are approached by a mysterious halfling and her strange pet Raven. Gilley Pad and Pip offer to join the group and after some mild debate they accept this mysterious stranger's help.  Its not long before they navigate through mess in the warehouse to the hidden door into the temple.

   The bare rough hewn stone hallways usher the group into a small sleeping cell. The group, despite the occasional effort is not subtle or quiet  so the first line of cultist defense is waiting for them. Though outnumbered the cultists are fierce opponents until Gilley enchants them with magic. They find out that this is a temple to a cult who wish to seed discord, destroy the Great Wheel to tear open the planes and give this world to unnamed horrors. They kill him as soon as temper flare and move on to save Klaus..or recover his body.

  Again the lack of subtly leaves their enemies waiting prepared. With Klaus holding Death's hand on the altar they waste no time in joining battle. They almost lose to the cult's strange powers but manage to win the day, save Klaus's life and retrieve their wounded. Hard fought victory is theirs as they return to the Tin Fiddle to recuperate and contemplate all that has occured.   

  

 

 

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Staring into the kaleidoscope pool
second log

  A wealthy Wizard, Pffn Krackengibb is one of the senior students who study and tutor in magic at the Krackengibb House. Gossip being what it is has spread across town like goblin fire and Pffn reaches out to hire the group to gather some things for him. Primarily he is asking the group to pierce the tunnels in the center of the circular borders of the Gnomish city states.

   The Wizard is young by the standards of his people, adorned in wealthy robes so no one can doubt his pedigree. He gives the impression of great intelligence spread very thing to a myriad of his shifting thoughts. He offers gold and magic for as much on the vellum list he produces as the group can collect. Assuming the group takes the job leaves with a warning, "Watch out for Petunia. She got loose and I worry might be wandering the tunnels." disappearing before he can explain any more.

Toward the center of the mountain are an intricate network of tunnels. Steam power carts zip through the neck breaking twists and turns to maintain commerce, brave messengers plumb the lost roads to find the fastest routes but much of the network remains a dangerous mystery to the Gnomes. On the list provided are a set of rough guesses where the components might be found. Anyone with basic map reading skills can guess that this job will take them at least three days away from civilization, best case.

Its only a few hours into the journey the group runs into a hideous creature coiled in the middle of the pathway. It looks a like a gray lipless goblin head on a serpentine body and huge viper's fang. Its likely from the lair located nearby that aberration has been here only a few weeks. The winding paths give way to hard packed earth and the smooth Gnomish architecture finally reveals the mountain itself. 

A nervous air haunts the group as the mysterious twists and turns seem to taunt something waiting for them. And for days maybe that is not the case. Perhaps compounding the hanging dread. They eventually stumble upon tracks suggesting Goblins also wander these tunnels. After a brief debate they decide to track them down. After four days with no success they return to the task at hand.

 When the group eventually finds the arcane cache they have stumbled into an awe inspiring sight. An open cavern bathed in blue light emitting from bushels of large non poisonous mushrooms. Veins of magical elements zig zag through  rock and anyone employing magical senses is initially dazed. The perceptive might note piles of bones, some still wet littered around the area, the even more astute sees the giant freakish rabbit before it tries to trample the group.

Once the battle has concluded one way or the other pain moan echoes through the chambers followed scattered moved just beyond. Investigation reveals a strange hodgepodge of features on some wounded humanoid that Petunia was making a meal out of. Terrified creatures similar to the wound one if nothing else but their unique jig saw configuration peak out from rocks. The group heals the wounded creature who sprints away afterward.

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First rounds on Cayden

  "Hello good patrons how are you enjoying yourselves this evening?"

The owner of the The Tin Fiddle, a sickly looking Gnome barely strong enough to drift between the tables of his establishment inquires. Tonight it seems strangers or close enough find themselves seated at the same table. The din of music from the stage and the shouts from around the neighboring tables create a bubble around the group. The smile from his face fades when the peal of klaxons drowns the noise inside the bar. Screams can be heard outside and some of the gnomes panic inside the bar. The band continues to play throwing strange ambience of whatever danger has arisen within the city.

  Before anyone can muster much more of a reaction the door bursts open and a trio of creatures barely three feet tall with giant heads and gnashing teeth rush in gibbering loudly. Their armor bears some scratched out insignia. People scramble trying to flee, someone yells "Goblin!".

  After the fight is resolved Klaus urges the party to see whats happening outside while he secures his bar. Chaos is spreading as Gnomes run away in fear, fires start and the guards scramble to fight the marauding war band that has somehow found its way within the city. The group is soon faced with more Goblins on top of giant geckos who moved with impressive speed in just the goofiest way possible, flopping back and forth as it ambles forward.

 The riders can be repelled but the city still struggles to regain its sanity. Gnomish fighters do what the can but it seems this sort of thing never happens and the city is caught off guard. Cries for help echo between the buildings, some of which are consumed in flame at an increasingly alarming rate. The group has a choice on how to act but little time to weigh their options.

  The raid is over surviving Goblins flee into the cracks from whence they erupted and Rivvihaus licks its wounds. The group returns for another round and are greeted by a small pouch of gold as reward for their efforts. Klaus is nerve wracked as are many of the other locals, many of whom are still in shock. A Gnomish guard, scraped up and singed runs in and asks to speak to Klaus. The two walk off to talk in heated whispers while the group divvies out treasure and mulls over the eruption. 

  The proprietor returns trying his best not to look dour. He explains that since a mishap occurred during the last Great Turning festival the Gnomish army has been diminished. And the fact Goblins not only were able to breech the cities defenses but in such great numbers suggests something very wrong. And what is worse in the melee some of the fleeing Goblins stole last year's drinking league trophy! Klaus if offering a reward of 400 gold for its return. Gnome drinking pride! 

  Assuming the group takes up the noble quest Klaus can provide a first step confirmed by reliable bar chatter. A service tunnel to the Great Wheel's inner workings is hidden in the outer wall. It is believed this is where the vile creatures made their way to and from the city. After whatever, if any preparations are made they set out. Past the jigsaw puzzle-esque architecture of the Gnomish city into the shadows throughout.

  The door is hidden by magic, the secret word provided to both reveal and unlock its way. The group is immediately assaulted by acrid Gobo stink. The tunnels are labyrinthine forcing the group their strategy or putting faith in blind luck as they wander.

The maze of smoothly hewn stone stretches in zigs and zags for miles. Through the cobwebs and disconcerting streaks of Goblin filth the party tracks their prey. Accosted by the vermin infesting the walls, a lost war party of Goblins and just the staggering distance of the Gnomish tunnels. But the quarry, even with their head start can only evade the Druid and Hunter so long before they are confronted. 

  In  cavern giving way to the carefully laid stonework for the rough mountain rock itself a small host raiders drag their prizes away. The conflict continues to suggest that these Goblins are not of the norm. Led by some mysterious figure with a blue mohawk, piercing yellow eyes and maggot white flesh they fight with tactics and organization not in keeping with normal Gobo behavior. The leader quickly flees, which displays more recognizable cowardice as the rest of the troops are cut down. The party gathers up the loot and returns the Trophy safely to its stand at the Tin Fiddle.

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