In the previous episode: after sort-of delivering the remains of Gurin Forkbeard to their final resting place, the adventurers discovered the long-dead body of a dwarf in a crevasse, recently unearthed by a landslide. In his possession was a scroll indicating the location of a dwarven stronghold behind a waterfall further down the valley, and hinting at a powerful artefact hidden there.
The Waterfall Complex
Heading down into the valley, it didn’t take long for the party to find the bridge marked on their map and determine the location of the waterfall. Scouting ahead, Bea found the location and the entrance to the cave while the others concealed their cart off-road and unhitched the horses. Ascending the rock face up to the cave entrance was made easy thanks to Lythil‘s expert climbing skill, although his efforts were somewhat undermined by Bret effortlessly levitating up behind him. Wading into the caves themselves was similarly made easier by Bea leading the way, dragging a rope so that the others could follow, and ‘boosting’ them up to the bridge within.
While the rest of the party experimented with two (rusted solid) old pulleys, Bea swam beneath the bridge to follow the river upstream, discovering an additional cavern beyond. Rather than explore the well-marked (one might almost say leading) routes to either side of the bridge, the party pulled themselves through the submerged passageway into a cavern on the other side, where they got their first glimpse at one of the complex’s other inhabitants as he disappeared into the darkness.
The party quickly discovered that the caves were now occupied by a band of beastmen who were less than pleased that their home was being invaded. With some careful sweet-talking by Keru (in very broken shared languages) and an exchange of gifts, the party were permitted to continue exploring the caves, although the beastmen kept a wary eye on them from then on. Leaving the creatures in peace, the party pushed on through the caves, levitating up through a chimney in order to find themselves in parts of the caves barely-touched by their former orcish occupiers. There, Newman used his experience of dwarven mining and engineering to find secret passageways and disarm traps, and Lythil cleverly determined the gestures he needed to make to pass through a magical ward into the inner workshop of Hadrin, the father of the messenger whose body the party had found in the pass.
There and elsewhere in the network of winding caves they found further clues about the artefact they sought: long ago, an army of orcs lead by a war chief named Torgoch besieged the dwarves who resided here, eventually managing to force open the portcullis and storm the defences. Here, with the help of the dwarven books, Torgoch discovered the magical powers of a certain stone in his posession, and determined to use it to get back at the orc priests he felt wronged by. Leaving a handful of his forces to defend the caves (who would later, it seems, go on to desert him), he set off into the valley – possibly heading towards a tower marked on a map the adventurers discovered.
Unfortunately, Sir Bea drowned while trying to scout out a further submerged passageway, not knowing how long it was and too stubborn to turn back after determining that she would spend a dangerous amount of time underwater. Her body was subsequently raised as a mindless zombie to act as the unholy steed of Bret, much to the distaste of the other adventurers. And this wasn’t the only rift in the party: Keru took a bite from one of Bret’s zombies over a disagreement about who should open a just-discovered secret door, several people expressed suspicion about Lythil’s self-enforced noctural privacy, Newman struggled with the moral and spiritual implications of Bret’s necromancy, and Keru’s booze-fuelled charisma almost landed the group in trouble as often as it opened doors for them.
Can the group find a way to cooperate and continue their quest? How will they cope in the absence of their mighty half-orc friend Bea? We’ll surely see in a future episode…