Falling Star

Adventure Summary - Week 4

About six weeks have passed.

Skorvir gets up one night to answer nature's call, and notices the usual guard patrol on the wall is absent.  He wakes his half-brother Torin, and they quickly discover chaos reigns at Skeggvarshold!  The gate is open; one wall-guard is down and one missing entirely; the dverg tasked with guarding the meteorite has been strangled, and the meteorite is missing entirely!

Skodi eventually organizes a headcount and figures out that Miika, the idiotic Varki thrall, is also missing.  Skorvir's tracking shows that three people only recently departed eastward on skis.  The downed guard – Solveig, who was recently spurned by Thrag – turns out to be alive and merely suffering from the effects of svartalfar sleep poison, which Skodi cures.  The  Skeggvasons quickly organize a pursuit and set off on skis.

They ski through the night.  Skorvir leads the way, carrying  a lantern so he can keep on their foes' trail.  The sun rises and then shortly sets again; the pursuit continues into the evening.  At one point when the sun is low in the  sky the pursuers spot  their quarry on a distant hilltop, silhouetted against the evening (2 PM, anyway) sky; apparently two svartalfar maidens (it seems as if all the svartalfar are female, or at least none of the heroes have ever seen any men) are dragging poor Miika along by a halter, and making him carry the chest containing the sky-metal.

Soon afterwards they spot poor Miika chained to a tree!  The thin links lead from his still-locked collar twenty feet up into a dead oak tree, where the chain is tied.  The thrall Thrag scurries up the tree and starts unhooking it; only to find himself in an ambush, targeted once more by the hated svartalfar hand crossbows and their poison!  But Thrag fights off the soporific venom and quickly descends.  The heroes advance cautiously into the darkness, only to hear the now-familiar blast of the Ulfhorn and the barking of charging wolves!

After easily dispatching the pack of wolves, and sending a whining Miika to walk home – his svartalfar captors having apparently stolen his skis – the intrepid Skeggvasons advance cautiously only to find themselves at a sheer cliff face.  The accursed cowardly svartalfar have apparently levitated up, but with Skodi's limited physical abilities the pursuers must now circle around, losing valuable ground on their prey.

They do not see them again until they reach Old Man Steam's hot springs, where they see the Old Man himself – an avaricious spirit with whom the brothers are well familiar, having often come to these springs for their healing properties and the tests of manliness Old Man Steam was happy to provide with his scalding breath.  Old Man Steam hints that he can reveal a shortcut to the lava vent which the svartalfar no doubt seek, for its access back to Svartalfheim.  Skodi negotiates briefly, and is cajoled into offering three rings for the information.

With his brothers' help, Skodi is able to ascend the treacherous shortcut without mishap.  Now, the party is right on the tail of the two svartalfar thieves!  They  cautiously follow the lava tube into a wide natural room with apparently manufactured streams of magma providing illumination.  The room is furnished with a three-sided table that sports two apparently insensate serpentine figures, lying facedown and burning!

Thrag enters from the west just as a shouting humanoid lump of living magma enters from the north, radiating intense heat!   Combat almost breaks out, but Skodi is able to pick out a few words in the lava-person's strange language, and the brothers figure out that the svartalfar must have just come through here and shot the salamanders.  A time-consuming fight is avoided, and some valuable intelligence gained about the further threats that await below.

The brothers soon descend further into the depths of the dormant volcano.  They soon find  themselves in wide cave with an enormous, crudely sculpted snake head coming through the wall!  As soon as they have entered, stone doors slam down around them, trapping them – and magma starts to pour from the  snake's mouth!  A reptilian figure watches through a grate above the snake. 

"Throw down your weapons and I will stop the flow!" it calls in elven.  Luckily, the half-snowcaster Torin understands, and the group agrees to be disarmed rather than burned to death.  A troop of lizardfolk-like creatures appear and grab the brothers, and they are marched into a nearby prison cell where they see the two svartalfar thieves already chained to the wall.  Before they are entirely helpless – but unfortunately after their weapons and most of their gear have been carried deeper into the caves – Thrag gives a mighty heave and frees them.

An intense fight develops in the prison cell.  Now freed, the two svartalfar run off deeper into the complex – probably seeking their own equipment.  The brothers slowly drive the fire-breathing lizard men back, but more reinforcements keep arriving.  As they try to push their way through wave after wave of the foe, following the svartalfar in the hopes of retrieving their own weapons, a new and more dangerous enemy enters the field – an evil priest who, instead of channelling positive or negative energy, seems to channel bursts of flame!

But at the same time, the two svartalfar thieves recover their gear and suddenly reenter the battle as a third side!  In a long and grueling fight, in which all parties are worn down to near exhaustion, the firenewts – for that is what these lizardine flame-breathers are – are driven back.  Eventually their priest retreats back out the front door with the last few warriors.

Torin is able to negotiate a fragile truce with the two svartalfar, agreeing to break the meteorite in half and each take their own part back to their homes.  This is done.  The svartalfar agree to give the brothers Skeggvason a ten-minute lead, then follow them out.  But when the brothers start back up the lava tube to the chamber of the salamanders and the magmin, they're ambushed by the remaining firenewts!  Thrag takes the brunt of the attack, eventually being overborne and knocked out, but the three brothers – now fully armed and equipped – make quick work of the remaining enemy.  The firenewt priest escapes with one lackey by running down a flowing stream of magma where the non-fireproof heroes cannot follow.

Skodi expects treachery from the svartalfar, who might decide to take the whole of the meteorite for themselves given the brothers' weakened state.  And he is not disappointed!  Having found the controls for the  front-room trap, one of the foul elves activates it again, slamming down a stone door and cutting off Thrag and Torin while Skodi and Skorvir  are once more in the path of the magma-spitting snake scultpure!

However, the svartalfar are unable to follow up their initial success by figuring out how to start the magma flowing; instead, they accidentally open one of the escape routes.  Skodi and Skorvir charge through while the thewy Thrag and Torin manage to overcome the pressure of the magma and lift the stone door that separates them from their companions!

In the final showdown between svartalfar and Skeggvason, Skorvir is dropped by a volley of poisoned crossbow bolts; Thrag manages to get caught under a door and almost crushed as Torin forgets about him and runs off to fight the dark elves; but eventually the combined efforts of the remaining brothers defeat the two exhausted  svartalfar!

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