Last time, the party arrived in Pavis, and learned about a valuable suit of armor that once belonged to their tribe's great hero, Derik Pol-Joni. The armor had been stolen by it's original creator, a mad dwarf named Vorlokk. The heroes decided to follow the thief's trail into the Big Rubble.
On the Trail of a Thief
First the group was joined again by He Who Spits at the Devil. After a few days of carousing at the Storm Bull temple, he stumbled into Gimpy's in the middle of the night, ready to rejoin his kinfolk and kill things. The next morning everyone met with the Rubble Tracker, Chain Song. He offered the use of some "secret" tunnels beneath Dwarftown to get into the Rubble, as long as everyone put on blindfolds. According to Ginkizzie, other iron-crafted items were stolen from the human community in Manside, and the Loricek troll clan. HWSAD held great respect for the Zorak Zoran cult, and proposed speaking with the trolls as "brothers in the fight against Chaos." Garkar was opposed to dealing with trolls in any capacity, and everyone else felt that it would be dangerous to approach them, so the decision was made to visit the humans in Manside.
Everyone followed Chain Song to Dwarftown, and down into the tunnels. The journey was uncomfortable and bewildering, and seemed to go much faster than the distance should have allowed. Soon enough, the party climbed up a staircase into the ruined streets of Old Pavis. To give everyone the feel for these ruins, I asked the players to imagine the towering structures of Rome or Constantinople, with people and livestock going their own way through the shattered streets. Compared to New Pavis, these old structures were more taller, more ornate, and more ambitious in their original design.
(The image below is a bit too medieval-looking for Glorantha, but still captures the feel of the Manside ruins nicely.)
Chain Song led everyone through the streets to an impressive temple. It was a stepped pyramid, built from some kind of crystalline substance. It had no doors or windows to speak of, but many people came and went around the base of the structure. Their dwarf guide introduced the party to a group of Zebra Riders, now the local constabulary. Erindros used all his charms to ingratiate himself to the captain of the riders, and explained that they were hunting a thief. The captain warmed to him and explained that a shield had been stolen from the museum nearby, and the Pavic guards had been hunting the thief as well. When Erindros shared their information on the trolls, the captain remarked that he had seen a large band of Loricek trolls returning from the Griffin Gate area the previous night. Garkar proposed visiting Griffin Gate and searching for Vorlokk's lair themselves. Everyone else decided it would be a better idea to follow up with the Loricek trolls, and determine if the raiding party was theirs. Garkar was greatly displeased by this plan.
The Zebra Riders asked Erindros to share any new information, and to return the shield should they find it. Erindros swore to do so. The captain then gave him an emissary's banner marked with the runes of Argan Argar. He had used it when parleying with the trolls, and he claimed that they had "usually" respected its use in the past. The party then traveled out of Manside into the Huntlands. Here the ruins of the old city were little more than foundations, and most of the area was wild and overgrown. Before getting any closer to troll territory, Chain Song explained that he would stay behind and rendezvous with the PC's when (and if) they returned. He did not want to risk being surrounded by hungry trolls with a taste for dwarf flesh.
Trolls of the Big Rubble
Upon entering the Troll Stronglands, everything became noticeably more barren. Trollkin sentries watched from the shadows, and HWSAD kept the emissary banner visible at all times. They were soon confronted by two well-armed dark trolls, and a gang of vicious-looking trollkin. Erindros asked to see the leader of their gang, and pointed to the banner, saying that he represented the humans of New Pavis and the Big Rubble. He also mentioned that they were hunting a thief who had taken something from the Loricek clan. The trolls thankfully spoke Tradetalk, and agreed to take them to see their war leader, a Death Lord named Kozkal.
The trolls led them deeper into the Riverside section of the troll ruins. These had been transformed over the centuries into the squalid, dilapidated mess that trolls love to squat in. Everywhere was discarded bones, filth, and the smell of Uz. They were led to a partially collapsed building, decorated with skulls, dried blood, and the runes of Zorak Zoran. There was the sound of beating drums, and soon the party was surrounded by angry-looking trolls, annoyed that their day-time rest had been interrupted. The Death Lord Kozkal appeared with two great trolls at his side. He was a hulking brute with many disfiguring scars on his snout. He gave acknowledgement of the party's status as emissaries, and then coldly explained that they would still need a good reason for coming into his home, otherwise they would be torn apart and eaten. HWSAD stepped in and gave praise to trolls and Zorak Zoran for being mighty foes of Chaos. It wasn't clear if this had any effect or not, so he passed the mic to Erindros.
The silver-tongued merchant was straightforward with Kozkal. He said that many people knew that the Loricek trolls had been robbed by a dwarf, and lost something valuable to them. He also took a chance and voiced his theory that the trolls knew of Vorlokk's whereabouts. At first Kozkal was belligerent and threatening, but then admitted that Vorlokk had stolen an enchanted iron sword from him. He had sent a group of trollkin scouts the previous night to Griffin Gate, looking for the dwarf. They were attacked by Vorlokk, but one of the trollkin followed him back to a well-hidden basement. Kozkal had been preparing to attack the dwarf once night had fallen again, with greater numbers.
Erindros offered to kill or capture Vorlokk for them instead, and return the iron sword, if the trolls could guide them to the hideout. He also promised to bring back Vorlokk's body as a "gourmet's gift" for Kozkal to enjoy. The war leader eventually agreed, on the condition that he send one of his trusted lieutenants to make sure the PC's stayed true to their word. He also demanded to seal the deal with a "traditional Loricek ritual", wherein Erindros would have to place his head in Kozkal's mouth for about 10 seconds. Erindros reluctantly agreed. After the count of ten Kozkal and the others started bellowing with laughter, and he realized that trolls did in fact have a sense of humor.
An obese dark troll named Azgog made ready to accompany them to Griffin Gate, dragging half a dozen trollkin scouts with him.
The Thief's Lair
The party marched back north to the ruins around Griffin Gate. As they approached, someone called to Erindros from the shadows. It was Chain Song. He expressed his alarm that the party was cooperating with a group of trolls, and said he would not be able to help them apprehend Vorlokk. Instead he planned to bring in more Rubble Trackers, to ensure that the trolls wouldn't steal anything that "didn't belong to them." Erindros accepted this, seeing as he had little choice in the matter. The trollkin guided everyone deeper into the claustrophobic ruins around Griffin Gate. They soon came to a courtyard, but before they entered, HWSAD's Chaos sense began tingling.
Egajia sent forth her fetch to see what enemies were lurking. She spotted three scorpion men in the courtyard, feasting on a human corpse. One of these was covered with unusually thick, horny plates of chitin. He Who Spits wasted no time, and charged the trio, calling on the Bull's rage. The scorpion men shrieked and advanced on him. Garkar flung lightning, and then javelins. He scorched one of the two smaller of the creatures, but did not seriously wound it. Erindros tried to protect HWSAD as he charged in, but this didn't prove necessary. Egajia brought all of her new powers as a shaman to bear, casting a barrage of sleep and demoralize spells, and also summoning her bound wraith. HWSAD succeeded in crushing the head of the largest scorpion man. The other two were put to sleep, and he finished them off in his usual gory fashion.
Throughout the fight, Azgog and the trollkin hung back. When it was over, they appeared again and dug through some rubble. He revealed a hidden staircase leading into a basement. Azgog warned the party that dwarfs are notorious for setting traps. His preferred tactic was to march the trollkin in one-by-one, and allow them to reveal anything deadly by walking straight into it. HWSAD felt pity for the miserable trollkin, and offered to lead the way in. He climbed down into a brick passageway, and almost immediately tripped over some wires. This triggered a loud, groaning sound further away, followed by the sound of small footsteps. Garkar then took point, having a much better Scan rating. He discovered a hidden pitfall, opening into a shaft with wooden stakes. Everyone skirted around the edge. When they reached the other side, the sound of footsteps grew louder.
Egajia sent out her fetch again to scout past the bend of the passageway. She saw something odd. Three tiny creatures, humanoid and no more than a foot tall, were marching toward them, carrying small wooden casks on their backs. The passage suddenly filled with a burning, sulfurous smell. Egajia cast Disruption on one of them, which dismembered it completely. When it dropped it's cask, the side broke open, and a deafening explosion followed. The passage was suddenly filled with dust and falling bricks. Everyone prepared to run, but the creatures also picked up their pace. They appeared around the bend, and ran at the confused party. Garkar threw a javelin at one of them, which nearly took out it's leg. But the creature was determined to die heroically, and threw itself forward with the exploding keg. Everyone was knocked off their feet by this explosion, and one side of the passageway collapsed. Egajia managed to Disrupt the last creature, and no-one was harmed by the final blast.
When everyone recovered from the attack, and dug themselves out of the rubble, Egajia sent her fetch out the explore the rest of the hideout. She found more of the strange creatures in other rooms, packing up weapons and artifacts, or just wandering around aimlessly. One room was guarded by a large earth elemental, which she avoided. Finally, at the end of another hallway, she saw that another pit trap had been triggered. On the other side was a frantic looking dwarf in heavy armor, ramming powder into a strange black tube. The PC's discussed their next course of action. They expected more traps, and perhaps strange dwarf magic as Vorlokk defended himself. Everyone decided that they would need to regain the element of surprise. Erindros proposed casting Flight on He Who Spits to get over the pit. Egajia then called an ancestor to cover his approach with Darkwall. HWSAD prepared himself by gripping his maul in both hands, gripping a torch in his teeth, and then casting Fanaticism.
First Vorlokk saw an encroaching wall of darkness. From the shadows then sprang a flying barbarian with a large hammer, and his beard partially aflame. The dwarf fired his strange tubular device at He Who Spits, but misfired and fell backwards. HWSAD succeeded at yet another called shot, and knocked the thief out with one blow to the head. As the trolls approached to apprehend him, HWSAD finished the dwarf off, knowing that the trolls might not care if he was alive or dead. Everyone else began searching for hidden doors or passages. Egajia found a well-hidden door that led into Vorlokk's workshop. Connected to that was another hidden room, which contained all the stolen artifacts that the party sought, including the Zebra Riders' shield, an iron sword inscribed with Death Runes, and an ornate breastplate and helm that could only have been Pol-Joni's armor. They took the armor, and entrusted the sword to Azgog. They warned him not to take anything else, as the Pavis dwarfs were coming to secure their secrets. The troll thanked everyone for staying true to their word, and then hoisted Vorlokk's corpse onto his shoulders, licking his lips.
When they climbed back out with their prize, they met again with Chain Song, followed by several more dwarfs. They parted peacefully, although not on the friendliest of terms. With their prize won, the party made ready to leave Pavis, and return to Sartar before the end of Sea Season. They visited the cattle pens north of the city to claim Argrath's gift for the Dundealos Tribe. Between that and Pol-Joni's armor, they would have gifts aplenty for their tribe and clan both!
Thanks for reading! Next time we move on to Fire Season, 1626. My players and I all have a lot going on these next few weeks, so we'll be taking a break until the middle of September. Until then!