Jumping right in from where we left off last time…
Flint, Kardin, & Co get to the ziggurat to find chaos. Smoke is billowing up from the ruins, dwarves are rushing around and there look to be some triage stations set up. Flint manages to find a dwarf (failed Circles — the enmity clause will be invoked at some later point) and starts to get an idea of what happened. About three days ago something happened in the forge. This huge stone creature rose out of the ground and took the forge key, which released huge amounts of uncontrolled flame. Nothing could control the flames. Argus was scene, completely bald, talking to the stone creature, with Delana and two of Rutger’s now-orphans in tow. They walked off towards spider territory.
Nearly everyone has been evacuated, but no one has seen Flint’s brother Arak, or Captain Grahm. Additionally the fire hasn’t stopped. All of the flammables at this point are going as the flame has gone around the hold burning everything it can and even melting stone in places (this is starting to make Flint & Kardin think about what Tareek had said about the elemental spirits).
Flint is more concerned about Delana and the children. Not to mention the feeling of betrayal from Argus. Flint & Kardin decide to seek the spiders out and that Arak and Grahm should be able to take care of themselves. Heeding the warnings that the flames are still moving around down below, Flint & Kardin decide to look for an alternate way into spider territory.
“They’re spiders. I’m sure they have some sort of trap-door entrances somewhere around here,” says Kardin. They head out into the forest around the clearing and eventually find a great spider trap door at the base of a tree (successful Great Spider Wise).
Audience with the Queen
They head down below and begin calling out for Dew, the spider they’d talked to so many months ago. She shows up after a while (successful Circles) along with a body guard. She tells the dwarves they shouldn’t be here and that Midnor is down below talking to the Queen Mother. Flint & Kardin just stare at each other. And then pieces click into place. The stone spirit. The flame spirit. A bald Argus. Could Argus be Midnor? He’s too tall, but the stone spirit had said that Midnor was no dwarf.
They beg Dew to take them below to speak with the queen and allow them to speak out against Midnor. She agrees reluctantly.
Down below they reach a large audience chamber and a huge (even more so) spider drops from the ceiling along with a couple, what seem to be, attendants. They speak for the Queen Mother and want to know why we’re here.
At that point Argus comes out. He’s shorter. Completely hairless. His body seems slightly malformed as though he’s transforming. Argus & Flint stare daggers at each other across the room. Argus/Midnor points to Flint’s armor “You have something of mine.” Flint nods his head towards Delana, standing behind Argus/Midnor, “and you have something of mine.”
Flint addresses the spiders “no good can come of dealing with this… with Midnor.” Let us take him away.
Argus/Midnor calls out, “you know I was going to offer a trade. My armor for your woman. But now I think I’ll keep her after I’ve taken my armor back.”
“Come and get it.”
At this point they start arguing in front of the spiders with Flint trying to convince them that they shouldn’t allow Midnor to stick around (Duel of Wits). Flint proves to be the more persuasive and the spiders decide that they don’t want this possessed human in their midst. If Midnor ever comes back they might allow future dealings, but not for now (minor compromise).
Knowing that Argus/Midnor can summon/control spirit creatures, they decide to cut his tongue out, right their in front of the spiders as a display of power, hoping to gain their respect. Unfortunately they see it as brutal and unnecessary (failed Will test). They do agree to wrap Argus/Midnor in webbing so that he can be kept under control more easily. The head back towards the surface with Argus/Midnor wrapped up along with Delana and the two children.
Before parting Dew warns the party: “ensure that Midnor is dead if that’s what you intend. If he does come back, the Queen Mother will not hesitate to work with him again like old times.”
Flint & Kardin get back to the surface and find that Arak has come back. He was down below looking for survivors. Grahm is still down there somewhere. Arak is being treated by Halel for fairly minor injuries (though he appears to be playing it up to stay close to her).
Kardin decides to go down and find Grahm. Flint stays on the surface with their prisoner while trying to decide how best to make the journey with Argus/Midnor in tow. He decides to pay Kelgin (the trader from earlier on) a visit to see if he might have a sleeping potion that he can use to keep Argus unconscious. He’s able to get a good deal (successful Haggling and Resource tests) and buys enough that he hopes will keep Argus/Midnor unconscious for the 5-day trip to Tareek’s camp.
Meanwhile, down below Kardin is carefully making his way around the hold looking for Grahm. He occasionally will hear noises in the distance as of a great fire roaring, it must be the fire spirit. He keeps his head low and does his best to keep his distance. After quite some time (failed Perception, successful Forte) he finally finds Grahm buried under some rubble. Grahm’s still alive, but not able to help at all, but Kardin is able to dig him out without taking too much time or making too much noise (successful Power).
They’re able to get out of the hold without incident and Kardin leaves Grahm in Halel’s care.
The Stone Spirit
Barely a day out from the ruins while at camp Flint & Kardin are confronted by the stone spirit from the forge. He says “I’ll give you a choice. If you try to leave here with Midnor, the pact we have demands I stop you from doing so. However, if you were to kill him now, I could do nothing about it and our pact would be broken.”
“What’s to stop you from attacking us anyway?”
“There would be no point. I would be free, there would be no more pact. I would have no reason to attack you.”
Flint takes a few moments to antagonize over returning Argus alive to Tareek or having to fight this creature or possibly getting its help in some way. Flint raises up his hammer and smashes it into the face of the unconscious Argus.
“There, creature. You are free from your pack.” The creature starts to leave “Wait!” It turns back “Who, or what was Midnor?”
“I told you when we first met that Midnor was no dwarf. Midnor was the Gnome King. A gnome is a dwarven abomination. Born of dwarves, but twisted.”
“Thank you. Enjoy your freedom. Also, I think you have something that belongs to me.” Flint holds out his hand and the stone creature hands over the forge key then walks off and disappears.
They reach Tareek’s camp with Argus’ corpse in tow. He’s none to happy that Argus is dead and demands an explanation. Flint & Kardin tell him of the events as they knew him. They make it sounds like Argus had been controlling the fire spirit and Tareek second-guesses himself. “I did not think he was a true spirit talker. We may need a new sacrifice. Either way, I must purify his body, bring him to my tent.”
They ask if there’s any news of Urgo. Tareek says that Urgo has gone out to track down the great spider, Wind and has taken a couple humans with him. Flint & Kardin make their plan to track down Urgo known. Tareek says that is the affairs of you half-men, but do not harm our people in doing what you plan.
And at that, Flint & Kardin head off to track down Wind.