It was a cold night in Skara Brae, where the nine of us sat in The Cudgel talking to a man named Zorrel Gnast. He was offering a job, an adventure into the ruins of Stonehell. Our reward? A fortune.
In the remains of a Dwarven prison to the north, there was said to be a Manifest Stone of great power, an artifact that contained the divine essence of 1/8th of all the love in the world… or so he said. I usually have no use for such folly, but this man was willing to pay handsomely for it.
Normally, a group of only nine normal men wouldn’t dare adventure for such a frivolous treasure, but these are hard times. Many of us had no source of income. The wild game I am used to hunting this season have all migrated somewhere else, leaving me no choice but to go on this fool’s errand in search of fortune.
So the nine of us set out to earn our reward; Pimpernel and Pervince Bangbottom (two half-men), Jackknife the Bootwhip, Mumbles (a mute), Lartek of the Bainful Moon, an urchin affectionately labeled Urchin, Blick Shammerhall, John Turnip, and I. An excitable young lad named Tobin led the way, a porter on loan from The Cudgel.
Along the way, we saw a few figures in standing outside, even guarding, the entrance to Stonehell…the very maw we meant to venture into. They did not appear hostile, but in the name of prudence, only three of our group were sent to greet them.
At this time I thought it a sound idea to provide arrow-fire from a nearby thicket of trees, just in case this encounter went awry. To my surprise, after entering the thicket and finding a suitable perch, I looked down at my feet to find no feet at all, but a massive tree trunk. This was the first time I had ever seen any magic, so I was quite shocked. Not long after, an arrow screamed past my head. I slowly started to back out of the forest when I took an arrow… not to the knee, but right to my face! I thought this first day was the end of my adventuring days for sure. Luckily, after falling to the ground in agony, I somehow managed to escape that cursed forest, barely clinging to life.
Upon crawling out of the thicket, my cohorts dragged me to safety and tended to the arrow protruding from my cheek. Though not in the greatest of dispositions after my rather painful encounter, I was quickly introduced to three Dwarves, the same guardians I spied prior. They were apparently comfortable enough with my friends by now to speak openly of the perils to be discovered in the depths of “The Dwimordelve”, what we know to be Stonehell.
They rambled for a time about a prince of theirs that had gone missing within the depths of this prison. One of them even agreed to guide us through the dark hell after we promised to find their lost stone-man.
And so, we entered the well fashioned mouth of the cavern…and descended.
One of the first rooms we entered was filled with a long table piled high with food, and a roaring fire behind a rather busy looking bugbear who was seated at the far end of the table. As the beast gorged himself on the delights before us, we were requested to enter and dine. Poor Poor Mumbles was the first to succumb to this accursed invitation. He was immediately ensnared by the smell of the feast and embarked on a crusade of consumption.
John Turnip and Blick quickly came to Mumbles’ rescue…or so they thought. Feeling compelled into the same business as our silent friend, John Turnip claimed his seat at the table and began to feed. Blick, however, overcame his urges. He called attention to a gilded looking-ball of sorts resting on the table. Even from the entrance of the room where I stood, I could clearly see the swirling shapes of two smokey-serpents EATING each other over and over again inside this sphere. Assuming this…thing was responsible for the obvious magic at work, Blick leapt at the device. Our host, the bugbear, snatched up his magical treasure with no hesitation and produced a wooden club of a rather intimidating stature. Meanwhile, we stood dumbstruck as we watched an entire entourage crawl out from under the table: a goblin, a kobold, and two orcs were now pawing at various articles of cutlery found on the great oaken table.
This was the first time most of us ever met the occasion to be stabbed.
After the dust had settled, the ancient and skeletal remains of our foes lay on the floor, to say nothing of the tapestries on the walls. Everything just sort of…fell apart after Blick Shammerhall seized the orb of swirly-serpents and stuffed it in a sturdy sack on loan from Jackknife the Bootwhip. The feast, the great and ornate hall dining hall, even our foes themselves all proved to be much…much older than they initially appeared. The facade had fallen. Bones turned to dust as we pilfered the silver cutlery gripped by the now-skeletal remains of our enemies. One of the half-men even had the nerve to make claim to a breadknife the very moment Urchin was removing it from his kidney!
Nursing many cuts and punctures from our encounter, we hastily returned to Skara Brae, not a copper richer, and sought lodging at The Cudgel. We decided to lick our wounds and save our luck for another day.