The Coffers of Kundarak

One Last Riddle

After considering their options in the hamlet of Miel, the party (consisting of Charles Cavandish, D’artagnan, Krishna and S. Danger, Human Ranger ) decided to investigate the strange, glowing leonine presence that had been haunting the night sky south of town. At dusk, they made their way to the hill where most of the sightings had occurred. D’artagnan saw something odd out of the corner of his eye and stared at a patch of stars that were just becoming visible. Soon, he saw among the stars a constellation that gradually became a man’s face staring at him. The image moved forward and was no longer lost in the background: a large, ghostly sphinx with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the face of a man. The sphinx addressed the adventurers and growled:

What is half of dragon, but has not a wyrmling’s strength?
What is half of canine, but has not a mongrel’s length?
What is it that is of two halves, but has but half to stand on?

Charles Cavandish, being a learned student of the arcane and a fine tobacconist as well, instantly responded that the answer was Kobold. After a brief explanation of the answer to his fellows, the Sphinx nodded and introduced itself as Ujaset. Ujaset said that by answering the riddle, the adventurers had proven themselves clever enough to hunt down the tribe of kobolds that (it was shamed to say) managed to overpower it. In exchange for their aid, Ujaset would be willing to let the party have the treasure that it had collected in life. When the heroes agreed, Ujaset told them how to find his former lair.

Though the trek to Ujaset’s lair is a brief one, it was not brief enough for the party to avoid catching the attention of a hunting Wyvern. A combination of guile and skill allowed the team to bind the Wyvern and entrance it. Wondering if it might have some treasure stashed in its lair (since Wyverns are related to dragons), they released it while it was spellbound, allowing S. Danger to get a rough idea of where it might be nesting when they saw it leave. It wasn’t long before they found the Wyvern (who wasn’t at home when they came). While there wasn’t a pile of loot, they did find a small trinket among the bones, a silver brooch that S. Danger began to wear (which he would later learn gave him protection against the Magic Missile spell.)

They soon found Ujaset’s cave, which looked as if it had been expertly tiled and carved by talented artisans. There were many footprints going into and out of the cave, and the cave itself was empty…empty, that is, except for a single kobold named Jaalask who had been left behind by his former friends in the Blackspear Tribe, the very tribe that had murdered Ujaset. With a little convincing, Ujaset was willing to join the party and let them know where his former friends had camped.

The party slowly followed Ujaset’s directions (aided by S. Danger (human ranger)‘s tracking skills, and the vast number of footprints) to a small encampment of kobolds who were celebrating their recent victory around a fire. Krishna used her magical music to cast a lullaby at the camp, causing most of the kobolds to become very drowsy and distracted (though the kobolds seemed to have two dire weasels as pets who were also not affected.) Of note, however, is the fact that the Kobold Sergeant and War Leader were also affected. This allowed D’artagnan to quietly sneak into the group and backstab one kobold at a time without attracting the attention of the others. However, after a few of the kobolds dropped, the Dire Weasels noticed and began to rush at the intruder.

Charles Cavandish took the opportunity to intervene by conjuring a Bison, which charged the two weasels and took out a couple of the kobolds as well before vanishing, and S. Danger, human ranger, joined the fight as well. D’artagnan decided to stop focusing on underlings and moved to attack the Sergeant, who was not felled in a single blow as the other kobolds had been, though he did fall quickly. While Krishna continued to play the entrancing lullaby, Cavandish summoned yet another bison to charge the war leader (the bison in question being ridden by an enthusiastic Jaalask.) The sergeant fell to D’artagnan at this time, and S. Danger’s arrows began reducing the war leader’s resolve (though he did notably stand up to a charging bison and took the damage from it, seemingly without flinching.) Soon, however, he threw down his weapons and surrendered when it was clear that he would not win the fight.

The war leader revealed that their tribe’s spiritual (and, in some ways, true) leader was a sorcerer named Oppol, and that Oppol organized the plan to strike as a way of removing a potential enemy from the area and as a means of gathering finances to increase the clan’s might. He said that Oppol was not around, and that he had returned to Miel. Though tempted to spare the remaining kobolds, the heroes remembered that Ujaset had demanded revenge against those who had killed him, and the battle was, briefly, rejoined with predictable results (especially since the war leader no longer had his primary weapon.)

A quick trip back to Miel and some questions around town gave the heroes two names of people who might know something: Caramip was a gnomish merchant who was knowledgeable about the town’s not-quite-human population, and the town’s blacksmith, Potter Holm, dealt with everybody and saw much. Potter Holm wasn’t much help, however, saying that he hadn’t seen any kobold sorcerers recently that he was aware of, possibly due to how busy he was with a sudden rush for masterwork weaponry that he had received. Caramip was slightly more helpful, however, pointing out that a kobold sorcerer might not look like a kobold thanks to well-timed magic. She said that there was one gnome who rented a building in town, but the gnome never seemed to have problems moving through the doors with the horseshoes on them, like other gnomes did. She was glad to give the heroes this gnome’s address (he had been unusually cold and unfriendly for a gnome).

Charles Cavandish and Krishna had to replenish their gear at the blacksmith’s, but two new people came to town at about that time: Izuma the halfling ninja and Philosopher Bronze the human factotum. The four went to the building and knocked on the door repeatedly, but no answer was given. Philosopher Bronze then tried knocking on the window, with the same results. D’artagnan pulled out his thieve’s tools and began to pick the lock on the door, when Philosopher Bronze decided to noisily break the window, step in, and open the door from the inside.

The bottom floor of the small house only had two empty rooms and a staircase. The staircase was searched carefully, but as soon as the party stepped on it, a magical trap was sprung, hitting the entire party with a Cold Blast, leaving them weaker and wounded. The good news, however, is that D’artagnan knew that Kurtulmak, the favored deity of the kobolds, was a god of trap making, and a trap in a residential building indicated that they were probably on the right track.

The top floor was slightly smaller, but more interesting. One room was a study, a study containing books, maps and treatises on war, military strategy and conquest. The other room seemed to be a living quarters of some sort, though no one was there…or so it seemed. Oppol, having heard the sound of the breaking window and the trap discharging, had taken the precautions of casting mage armor, expeditious retreat and invisibility on himself, meaning that the party didn’t see him until he chose to reveal his presence by attacking with a spell. The Cone of Cold swept over the party, rendering Izuma unconscious and the rest of the party nearly the same.

Oppol’s next move was to create a thick webbing to ensnare the party, though the only person so entrapped was D’artagnan, who was easily able to escape (even Izuma seemed to be able to dodge the web, despite being prone on the ground). S. Danger, human ranger, began to attack, as did Philosopher Bronze. Distressed, Oppol might have considered leaping through the window of the room, but instead chose to attempt to summon a viscious beast. The lengthy spell was his undoing, however, as it not only provoked attacks from the adventurers, but took too long to cast, giving the heroes more time to work against him. As such, Oppol died and the dretch that he summoned was weak and easily dispatched.

Leaving Oppol’s house, the party discovered Potter Holm arriving with the masterwork weapons he had been working on, apparently intent to give them all to Oppol (who had used the Sphinx’s treasure to finance the creation of the many weapons.) They claimed Oppol’s weapons as part of their payment from Ujaset for dealing vengeance.

Krishna and Cavandish rejoined the team at this point, and as they traveled towards the exit of the town, they heard a familiar Pssst from an ally. Looking in, they found Gemdust, the fortune telling construct that had sent them to search Malloroy’s casino for her deck of spells. Sensing that they were once again near her, Gemdust requested that the cards be given to her in exchange for a fortune reading with, as she revealed, a Deck of Many Things. Many of the adventurers accepted the cards, though Izuma did not. Both Philosopher Bronze and S. Danger were fated to meet a Dread Wraith in single combat, though they also gained some helpful bonuses to their personal skills and insights to give them edges. Charles Cavandish benefited from increased intelligence, and D’artagnan discovered two knights who wished to offer their services to him (though he also lost all of his personal possessions and property.) It was a bittersweet meeting with the fates, as all such meetings are.

The party continued heading out of the town to report their successes to a pleased Ujaset, who tossed in an extra bonus: his lair contained a secret panel, behind which was an elvish chain shirt. The question was raised, though, about whether or not Ujaset knew anything about The Harvest Lord, to which Ujaset merely smiled and recited another riddle:

What has Cities, but no People
Beaches, but no Sand
Forests, but no Wood
Mountains, but no Land?

D’artagnan thought for a moment and responded that the answer was a Map, and Ujaset nodded. A map appeared in D’artagnan’s possession then, one that would reveal the location of the current entrance to The Harvest Lord’s domain in the nearby corn fields (his domain had an ever-shifting entrance that required a time table and chart to keep track of, apparently.) With that, Ujaset faded back into the stars and allowed the heroes to go back to their normal business.

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