(note – because this was the first session and someone was missing, this update is a little more verbose than most of the others will be, to bring people up to speed.)
The party questioned the Sheriff and his deputies briefly, then retired to a nearby inn to become acquainted with each other and search for more information. Hazerath, suspicious of one of the deputies, snuck back to the Sheriff’s office and overheard two of the deputies discussing a plot to “warn the boys” and “scare them off”. Meanwhile, back at the inn, Droverson gave a hungry deputy some magically-enhanced beer and found out more about the local affairs of Painter’s Grove.
Hazerath informed Kael about what he had overheard, and the team made plans to sneak out to the graveyard and ambush “the boys”. Droverson went back to the Sheriff’s office to see if any of the deputies had gone to warn the others, and noticed that one of the deputies was indeed missing. Kael located his tracks, and the party decided to go after him. After a quick crash-course in sign language, the party stealthed out to the graveyard. At first, all seemed peaceful, but Droverson caught sight of someone hiding behind one of the tombstones. Kael and Hazerath quickly ambushed and disposed of the man, who turned out to be the missing deputy, lying in wait for the party with some kind of trip-wire.
The party searched the graveyard, and Droverson accidentally located a moving gravestone, which revealed a hidden series of caves and tunnels roughly 30 feet under the graveyard. Kael performed some reconnaissance and returned to formulate a plan with the rest of the party, but after a few minutes, they were overheard and the lights below were swiftly doused. Hazerath, making himself invisible, went below and discerned that there were bandits preparing ambushes in the tunnels below them.
In a swift, surgical strike, the party went below and split into two groups: Hazerath counter-ambushed two bandits in a cavern to the east, while the rest of the party headed for a larger cavern to the west. Hazerath quickly killed one of the bandits with his crossbow, and engaged in a knife-fight with the surviving bandit for several rounds. Meanwhile, Tomokk led the way into the western cavern, cutting a bandit in half in the first round despite being struck by some painful arrows. Kael was almost ambushed by another bandit hiding in a side-tunnel, but Tomokk Bloodfist and Droverson worked together to spoil his trap, blasting the bandit with a Magic Missile. The bandit tried to play dead and surprise Kael with a stab to the heart, but instead he was the one killed when Kael slashed him apart.
Darius and Droverson entered the fray in the western cavern, fighting a pitched battle against the remaining bandits – Darius bisected another bandit with his katana, while Droverson cast a powerful spell and crushed a bandit with invisible force. Meanwhile, another bandit with a large sword and shield tried to cut Hazerath off from the group, but Kael quickly came to his rescue and cut the newcomer down. Droverson, showing off, tossed another Magic Missile the entire length of the mine and blasted Hazerath’s remaining bandit as well.
Shortly thereafter, the fight was over, with three unconscious prisoners tied up and manacled together by Tomokk and Kael. A quick interrogation of one bandit who had surrendered before being knocked out revealed that there was one remaining person in the mine, the “boss”, located in a locked room to the south. Tomokk bashed down the bolted door, and the party discovered a man in robes standing near an anvil with a crystal object sitting atop it. “Stay back! I’ll smash it!” threatened the man, holding a blacksmith’s hammer high. Kael tried to rush and tackle the man, but the distance was too great, and the man brought the hammer down upon the crystal object.
There was a burst of light and sound, and the blacksmith’s hammer shattered. The crystal object jumped and sparked, and suddenly an earth elemental appeared in the room and began to attack anyone who came near. Darius and Droverson blasted the creature with spells, and Kael hit it with a well-placed arrow which damaged it badly. Tomokk charged in, obliterating the robed man, but his blade could find no purchase against the elemental’s rocky hide. Suddenly, Hazerath appeared behind the creature and stabbed it with his dagger, then channeled a powerful burst of energy into the elemental. It exploded, showering the party with rock and dust.
The group searched the room and discovered a log book, stating that the robed man was the leader of this gang. The book made references to “this is the place” and “searching for it”, but what the mysterious object was or who wanted it, no one could discern. Kael, approaching the anvil, discovered that the crystal object was in fact an orange-bladed dagger, made out of several types of stone and crystal. Descending into another mining tunnel behind the anvil, the group discovered a small, mostly-collapsed ruin, holding only a large sarcophagus. Inside the sarcophagus was a huge skeleton of a half-dragon man. Although the ruins held no magical auras, the sarcophagus nevertheless emanated a powerful feeling of forbidding, which kept the party from disturbing it. Hazerath noticed the word “MILAMBRE” written on the sarcophagus in dusty, half-faded letters.
Returning to town with their prisoners, the party prepared a trap for the remaining corrupt deputy. Although he attempted to escape out the rear of the building, Hazerath stopped him cold and knocked him unconscious in a mysterious, completely silent manner, to the approval of Kael. After informing the sheriff of all the circumstances, the party was deputized according to the terms of the Bond of Druxus and charged with requesting new deputies and a magistrate from Auspex.
Resting for an evening before departing, Hazerath tried to pick up the dagger, but snatched his hand away when it burned him with magical power. Droverson examined the dagger with his tablet of identification, but each time, it would only display the word “MILAMBRE”. Droverson tried to return the dagger to Kael, but each time, it reappeared on his person. Intrigued, Droverson tried to awaken the magical power of the dagger.
Suddenly, magical energy began to spray from the dagger every which direction, blasting holes in the night. Droverson, bewildered, suddenly felt himself growing huge, bursting out of the inn and crushing it underfoot, until he was enormously big, towering above the trees as if they were blades of grass. The dagger shot out a huge beam of magical energy into the sky, and Droverson slowly shrank back to his own size. Horrified, he tried to cast the dagger away, but it cartwheeled off into the distance as a tumble of blades and scything beams of magical power before reappearing in his hand once more. Droverson, flustered, managed to convince the innkeeper that the Darklands Army would pay for the damage, and the party was forced to find other lodgings for the night. The next morning, they would set out for Auspex...