102. Home is where the hearth is

Gildor casts Comprehend Languages before moving out to read all the writings nearby first and passes the info to the group.

Standing before the gate, the elf casts his Comprehend Languages spell on it, only to see the words of the inscription twist and blur into what he thinks was common for a moment before reverting back to its original script.

Gildor says, “That should have worked. Gordon what do you make of it? Perhaps magic is disrupted here for some reason? I could only for a brief moment see something in common. You try Gordon, then let’s be going back to the breach and secure a building. Everyone stay sharp.”

Gordon casts Comprehend Language on the writing.

Gordon’s Comprehend Language spell has the same effect as Gildor’s, Gordon catches the words “Agis city port of…” before the spell fails and the words mutate back to their original script.

Getting a similar response, Gordon tries Read Magic.

Gordon’s Read Magic – read directly from his spell book – reveals a huge, complex and powerful rune cast on the door but again its form shifts and blurs, making it unreadable.

Looking from Gildor to Gordon and back, Jenson will, once they are done doing their magic, also look at the script and symbols in his vain attempt at maybe being able to read or comprehend it from his studies.

Not only does the script look unlike anything Jenson has seen before but the way the symbols are arranged gives him no clue to their meaning either.

“Wow, that is some powerful magic to make your magic fail.” Shrugging, Jenson looks toward some buildings, “Maybe there is writing like newspaper, or a flyer or map or something about that is less powerfully blocked further from the gate.?”

Jenson shakes his head in thought as he scans the area again, “Lets find a place to hold up for the night and I’ll set up the solar charger.”

Gildor nods to Kradorn, “Back to the first Breach in the wall. Let’s secure the first building inside and start bringing gear back to it. Once the pod’s cleaned out we secure the building, while Jenson gets the charging thing up and charging the weakest power cell we have. We bring it back down before dusk so it doesn’t get damaged. I suggest we ration our food until we know we can find a food source. Half rations from now. If we have time we should scout the gate we were at from this side and look for clues as to where we are and if we know where Lands End is from here. Let’s get a move on.”
“Saphiria hunt further away my dear. Find game to eat. Not humanoid. Be safe.”

Saphiria climbs up into the cold morning sky and begins to circle the party, steadily climbing higher and higher before heading off east, following the course of the river.

With a touch of impatience “Shall we get going, I would like to settle in somewhere to secure our gear and start charging cells for tonight.” Says Jenson.

Gildor listens at doors and checks the first good building inside the breach, his laser ready.

The party return to the breach and carefully climb over the rubble and into the silent city beyond. They emerge onto a T-junction heading east, north and south. The houses close to the walls seem little more than hovels and there seem to be a number of warehouses and yards to the south, closer to the gate. Many of the houses’ doors are shut and locked but they all seem to have been broken into, either the door being forced or windows or shutters being smashed. Everything seems oddly preserved, weathered but with no sign of rot.
The size and quality of the buildings seems to improve as the party head east and soon they come to a crossroads with a number of businesses on the corners. One of these seems to be what the party are looking for, a solid looking building maybe twelve by eighteen metres with a fenced yard maybe twice that size behind it.

The place has only a single door and 3 barred windows at ground level, probably for a cellar. The roof has three more small windows, also barred.

Talo can see the place is obviously dwarven and Kalam says it looks like a smithy. The front door is iron studded and bears numerous claw marks. It is shut and locked. A gold plated cartouche above the door reads in dwarven “Gert Rusty & Thokrin Silver-Eye – Master Armourers”

Two fence panels have been torn out where the fence meets the building and access to the yard behind the house can be gained that way.

Gildor can’t hear anything behind the front door, in fact the entire city seems as quiet and as cold as the grave.

Gildor looks the door over to see if he can unlock it and attempts to pick the lock if possible.

The lock just seems to be a pair of heavy bolts and after 10 minutes Gildor has the small, thick door open. While Gildor’s working, the party stand about, weapons drawn, watching the buildings around them for any sign of movement. There is a weapon-smith across the road and a blacksmiths next to a sizeable inn to their right.
The door opens into a small shop with a counter on the right and suits of studded leather, chain, banded and plate hanging on the walls to the left.

“This looks usable guys. Let’s clear this building quickly and start bring our stuff here and get the charging thingy going too”, says Gildor.
Gildor checks the doors for noises, traps and to see if they’re locked. He starts by going counter clockwise.

Gildor finds no traps on either of the interior shop doors and despite the locks being complex, manages to get them both unlocked in just a few minutes. The first door opens into a six by six metre room with dwarf and gnome height hooks on the east wall from which hang cloaks, hats and heavy coats suitable for their respective owners.
There are also a collection of heavy boots on a rack and a 50cm wide 1m high wardrobe in the corner. There are half a dozen lanterns hanging from the south wall and a barrel of lantern oil beneath them.
Just to the right of the door is a floor hatch carved with dwarven runes, painted red and decorated with gold leaf and semi-precious stones.

Talo identifies it as the front door to a dwarven, subterranean house. Though they’re not usually as fancy as this one. The door in the north of the room has no lock.

The other door from the shop opens into a dwarven forge, identifiable as such by its height and layout according to Talo. The forge is on the north wall with tools on either side. In the centre of the room stand two work benches between which is an anvil. Suits of armour and odd pieces in various states of manufacture or repair lie around the room.

There are large double doors in the east wall which are heavily barred. The party can see daylight under the doors. Just in front of these doors is another hatch in the floor with a pulley attached to the ceiling directly above it.

There is a staircase leading up to the first floor in the south east corner with a storage space beneath for buckets, brushes etc. Behind the door into the room is yet another floor hatch, carved as the one in the other room but without the fancy decoration.

The forge has been brushed clean and tidied up. Given the amount of dust covering everything, the place seems strangely devoid of cobwebs, even high up in the corners.

Jenson looks about as they walk in “Yeah, this place I think will do. Man it looks like they just left everything as is and, and left? Well, I am not much of an explorer, yet, so I’ll stand guard by the front door and let you guys work the building through but make sure we have access to the roof and it is flat.”

It is clear to Jenson that the roof isn’t flat. None of the roofs he could see from the road junction are flat.

Jenson moves back to the front door and is inside the building standing near the door looking out ready to close it if it he has to, Jenson asks “Shall I close the door now or see if anything comes out from other buildings now that we are out of sight?”

Nothing moves on the street, the city is silent apart from the party wandering about in the house behind Jenson. As he looks about he notices the odd snowflake drifting down from the frozen, silver sky.

Gildor says, “We should all stay together Jenson. Let’s bolt the door shut like it was and then we all go upstairs then we all go downstairs. In the past we’ve split up and we lost a guy doing that. Let’s not take any chances my new friend.”
Gildor helps bolt the doors again and then touches his mind to Saphiria, “How ya doing girl. Be safe. Gildor sends an image of the building they are in. Home before dusk.”
“Well let’s get upstairs and see what’s up.”

Jenson closes and locks the door. “OK, we stick together.”

“So, this place and most places around here do not have a flat roof, well that will make it harder to charge anything discreetly from prying eyes. ”

“Hey, is it cold enough around here to get snow?? You know that frozen liquid that falls from the sky all fluffy like that is really cold? I saw a snow flake flutter down.”

Jenson shuts the door and bolts it and the party move into the forge and then up the stairs to the first floor. The room has a low ceiling and from the roof beams hang numerous suits of armour of all kinds, including a finely etched suit of platemail which must be worth two or three times the price of a standard suit. There are dwarven and gnome sized suits of chain and banded mail but most of the armour is human sized. This armour is of a consistently good quality.

The three small windows in the southern end of the room are barred. Stacked up in one corner are numerous leather hides and rolls of felt and other thick fabrics.
Looking out the windows Gildor can see the roof has a scattering of snowflakes across it but the snowfall seems to have stopped now.

Jenson leans over Gildor to also look out the window “You know, if the snow lays on the ground there will be a good chance to see if anything is alive around here from the foot prints left behind.”

Backing up, Jenson measures out the room against the positioning of the windows “hmm, depending on the amount of light filtering into one of these rooms that face East and West, I possibly could set up the solar charging station and maybe collect enough sunlight to partially charge a cell in a day” Shrugs, “Better than nothing”.

The windows upstairs, face west.

As they move throughout the house, “Maybe one of these suites of armour would fit Cynan, that is if he wants to replace the space armour?” asks Jenson.

Cynan shakes his head “This armour is lighter and stronger than one of these suits of plate, fine though they are.”

“Warmer too.” agrees Kradorn. He turns to Gildor “The cellar next?”

The dwarven war-priest approaches a dwarven-sized suit of full plate armour hanging in the shop and looks it over, fingering the artisans’ gifted handiwork.

Talo pats the cuirass of the suit with a friendly, if ugly, grin.” Since we have some time left of the sun, let’s check out some of the near-by homes and shops to see if there is anybody in need, shall we?” Talo picks up a hide of some furry animal and drapes it over his shoulders and shrugs it into a comfortable position.

Gildor nods in agreement, “Let’s head to the cellar then. We can check it out. Let’s grab a lantern and fuel it up get it lit so we have some light before we go down.”

~

“Whelp…” Talo stands over the latched door to the under-cellar home, staring with an appraising sniff of the cold air. “I like me the idea of spendin’ the night here. Maybe make it a hold for us while we search the rest of the town.

Gildor comments,”Talo we need to first clear the cellar then we need to get all the stuff from the pod here before searching the town. Let’s get to the cellar.”

Nodding in agreement, Jenson steps back to allow others to go down into the cellar first “Yup, let’s verify this place is void of any unwanted guests then move our gear out of the pod to here and then start back up checking the area for anyone living.” shrugs, “or finding if there are any clues as to what happen here”.

Gildor lights a lantern on the main level. Gildor leads with spot checks as he goes with the lantern lit.

Gordon will cast Comprehend Language, Read Magic and Detect Magic on the trapdoor which leads to the presumed dwarven home before anybody touches it or tries to open it.

Talo can tell you what it says, it is in Dwarven. It says “Gert Rusty & Thokrin Silver-Eye – Master Armourers”

Gordon thanks the dwarven cleric, but still casts Detect Magic on it regardless.

The spell detects nothing on the floor hatch and swinging the spell around detects nothing else within range apart from the party.

Gildor checks the hatch for traps but finds nothing and so carefully lifts the counterweighted hatch to reveal a set of steep steps leading down to a junction. The tunnel splits north and east but both branches lead to almost identical doors. Gildor searches for traps along the passages but finding nothing decides to open the closest door first.

In the light of the lantern the party can see a kitchen with two tables to the right, one dwarf sized, the other gnome sized. There is a fancy dwarven cooker with a clockwork spit, oven and hob, numerous pots and pans to go with it. There is a heavy ceramic sink on the east wall and a tank of water with a small stove beneath to heat the water.

Just to the right of the door the party enter through is another set of steps heading up to a hatch in the ceiling and there is another ceiling hatch in an alcove in the east.
Moving north they find a hall with another large table, pushed up against the southern wall with numerous chairs of various sized stacked on it.

Along the north wall are the bodies of two dwarves and two gnomes. One of the dwarves and one of the gnomes is female. The bodies are fully dressed, all in armour and bearing weapons on their chests. The female dwarf is wearing banded mail, etched and inlaid with gems and silver filigree. By her feet is a leatherbound notebook. Strangely all the corpses are mummified and show no signs of rot or animal damage.

Looking further at the four bodies laying on the floor but not touching them or getting too close Jenson says “Guys, yeah this is bad but look, it looks like either they where laid out this way by another person or they laid that way and one of them cast some kind of spell maybe from that book as to why the book is laying out?” looks to the group, “Sure, we can back out if you want to retrieve the book and see what it is.” Jenson will back out of the room if so decided they should do and looks at the hatches in the ceiling. “As for those hatches/doors in the ceiling, I am guessing they connect to all of the living quarters on the first floor?”

Gildor say, “OK search the area well. Let’s verify the other hatches lead to this room or different areas.”

Gildor gives each room a quick search looking for concealed or secret doors in the wall panels or in the floors. The ceiling hatches lead to exactly where they expected them to – the forge above.

The storerooms contain little of interest, just the items of day to day life kept out of the way; a tin bath, piles of clothes, food and wood stores, beer and wine etc.

However in the soth wall of the kitchen, Gildor finds a secret door leading into a small workroom containing a workbench, pliers and cutters, a small Anvil, small hammers and a mallet, a small forge, tweezers, saws, thin sheets of various metals, wire cutters, needle files, ring size stick and wet and dry sanding and polishing stones. There are also a small locked casket, various books with inks and quills and a fancy multi-flame lantern just above the workbench.
Gordon immediately identifies it as a jewellers workshop.

Within the small jewellery room Jenson says “OK, we got the layout of the place down here including the hatches.” Turning around in the jewellery room, “Gordon, there has to be a secret stash of jewels in here. So when we have time we should come back in here and look for it, but,” pauses “we should now figure out what happen to those two Gnomes and Dwarves in the other room.” turns to Gildor “Gildor, we need to read that book now, so we can figure this out.” If Gildor or anyone else not have the book, Jenson will go back to the room and retrieve it for someone to read.

Gildor says, “Jenson, let’s have Talo or Gordon check out the book as it is likely either Dwarven or Gnomish and they’d have the best chance of deciphering the book. I mean… you can try and look the book over but it may not make sense to you until you can read Dwarven or Gnomish. I’ll check the chest for traps and try to remove any I find, then I’ll check the lock and try and pick it. Wish me luck lads.”

Jenson goes and retrieves the book from the western room and begins to examine it but can’t make head nor tail of the odd runic script. He’s recognises the style as similar to that above the shop door and on the floor hatches but nothing beyond that.

The text on the pages is written in pencil and divided into columns, it might be some sort of ledger Jenson thinks. The book is about three quarters full and the last page of text is a note filled in a different, larger hand.

Talo asks to see it and taking the book form Jenson begins reading aloud.

“ ‘Here lie Gertrude Rusty, master armourer, Biffer Bluenose, apprentice armourer, Kiri Sweet-tooth, apprentice armourer and Paternoster Abstantangree, jeweller. All fell to the ‘Red Death’ within the last four days, after the terrible night of Ditrì, Trì Deug of Geamradùk, seachd mile is ochd deug…’ “ Talo pauses “Wait, that’s 300 years ago. Anyway, it continues – ‘The city is dead and at night ghouls roam the streets, preying on those that survived that wave of death and darkness. Those of us that can, are leaving, the gnomes heading to their lands in western Cadbaria, while we dwarves will head east, to Carraig Glac, Moradin willing.’ It’s signed ‘Thokrin Silver-Eye’ and there’s a note on the bottom. ‘We’re taking all the valuables we can carry and the rest is trapped – so beware you thieving bastards.’ “

Gildor checks the casket and thinks that it might well be trapped.

Jenson sighs then looks at the group “So, 300 years ago this happened, this this Red Death. But they are so well persevered, eww I wonder if they could be awakened or worse, turned into those nasty ghouls things? Maybe a church library, or a (and says it with that thrill about magic) in a wizards recorded spell books or even an official law office or regular library might have a hint about this red death that we can find out about. Maybe reverse it for those like them in the other room???”

Cynan looks down at the mummified dwarves and gnomes “They look pretty dead to me Jenson, everything in this place looks dead. Has anyone seen even the smallest sign of life, anywhere?”

Jenson watches Gildor look over the casket “Well by the sounds of it you are right Gildor, the casket probably is trapped. Is it worth it to try to open it??? Your call as it probably is only jewellery and nothing magical we could use now. For now, I am thinking if we wanted to recon this town and free it of the ghouls and any other dead things and maybe find out about this read death we should make sure this place is secure enough to hold off the Ghouls and dead stuff each night as we search out and destroy them by day. I am thinking any other adventurer that comes here will face those things, so I am in to cleanse it.”

He shivers a moment “I just hope we can handle them piece meal since this place is rather large.”

Gildor says, “Jenson, friends….I think the chest is worth checking out. I think it’s trapped so you guys move back into the other room while I try and disarm it.”

“We need to just finish exploring this place to verify it is secure then I want to still get our stuff and secure this building and try to charge up cells here until we find a better place as we explore, so lets go.” Jenson stands at the basement door/hatch ready to go back up and finish exploring the upstairs, then to go get the gear.

Cynan nods to Gildor “Good luck.” and then moves out into the kitchen with the rest of the party.

“Friend Gildor, I think you should just respect these folk and leave the box be. We know it’s trapped and it aint gowin nowhere. Let’s concentrate on getting all our gear here and usin this place as a base to forward from.” Gordon seems quite certain that they should leave things be here as a mark of respect to the dwarf and gnome artisans.
That book says they went to Carraig Glac, well we know where that is just not where we are. If we can find summat that might indicate where we are then we at least know our route home.” Gordon will try to look for any other books or ledgers or paperwork which might give some idea how far East Carraig Glac might be. He also tries to wrack his mind for memories of the Red Death and any Gnomish exodus to Cadbaria.

Gordon thinks back to his time in Lands End and tries to remember everything he learned about Cadbaria while he was there.

He remembers that Lands End owes its continued existence to its proximity to Cadbaria, while the town itself was wiped out by the ‘red death’ adventurers reoccupied the fortress and once cleared of undead, it served as a staging post to ‘salvage’ valuables from all the villages and towns in eastern Cadbaria. The capital was the prize for all adventurers but despite several attempts, only single survivors returned, all claiming to have reached the capital and they all returned with enough gold to make them rich men.

As far as gnomes in Cadbaria, he knows very little. Most lands have gnomish settlements and there are gnomish jewelers in most big cities.

While he’s thinking, the gnome leafs through what paperwork he can find but there is little of use and the bookcase section marked maps is empty.

Gildor say,”Very well. I’ll leave the chest be.”

Smiling, “Good idea, you guys to leave it for now.” Jenson points back up to the first floor “OK, let’s go back up” and proceeds up to the first floor weapon ready just in case. “We should finish our search of this home then get our stuff”

Gildor says, “I’m worried about these dead bodies becoming undead if you know what I mean. I’m all for finishing searching this place to secure it for the night but I’m not sure we want to stay here much longer than just tonight. There’s no food around here to eat. The game in the area has all left. I haven’t heard from Saphiria but my guess is she’ll have to fly a ways away to get anything to eat. We might be able to fish in the stream/rivers or waters nearby for a while and we might need to be worried about this red plague disease too. It may still be here. It might be in the water. I can train you to be a wizard Jenson, but it will take several days to train you and that means we just sit and practice magic. Nothing else. Once you learn magic wearing armour will drain more magic power from you. My leather armour for example doubles how much magic I must use to cast the same spell if I were just wearing a robe. The trade off is I have some basic defence wearing the leather armour. There is a spell that you can cast that can create a magical armour but it’s temporary. After so many hits the armour disappears. I just want to be clear that all the hatches from above come down to this room and not a separate area down here that we haven’t seen yet.”

Gildor wastes a couple of minutes checking each hatch and going up and down the steps. Kradorn asks “Gildor, what part of the building do you want to search, are there any rooms we’ve missed? We’ve checked the basement, the ground floor and the first floor, where else is there?”

With a bit of concern running across Jenson’s face. ” what do you mean this this um red plague may still be here. And and ‘gulp’ we could catch it?”

Jenson looks to each group member. “So we will run out of food and water soon as I recall we only had a few days of it and then we will have find food, which sapphire has been unable to find for herself, then on top of that drink the water here, which could be contaminated.”

Putting his hands on his hips. “OK we chance it and hope we do not stay too long here or in the epicentre of this plague, finding out more of what happened here, so unless we stay in the escape pod we get our gear now and explore.”

Jenson looks to the priest.”Do your gods offer any help dealing with this plague or ask if staying here the plague will harm us?”

Jenson turns to Gildor and smiles “Gildor I would love to start my training now if that is feasible. If we find a mages house maybe that would be even better? But I am cool with waiting till the time is best. And I wonder if the space armour would not be a hindrance. Any how, until I get better or we start, I may keep this magical chain for the protection but I like your spell options too?”

Gildor says,”I’m just trying to be thorough Kradorn. OK everyone, let’s head to the main floor. Jenson, I don’t think we have time to get you trained in the arts of magic. We’ll need uninterrupted months to do that. I think we’ll be busy… I guess let’s start getting the gear from the pod to here.”

With a little chuckle Jenson shrugs, “Yea, I think it will be a little bit before we find the right time to train but I am hopeful it will be soon. Now, I think we should not split up to get the gear and the more hands to help carry stuff the quicker and less trips we shall have to take so all of us should go.” Smiling “We can secure the place when we leave since we know how to reopen the door now and leave a little dirt or something on the floor to know if anything got in after we left”. Weapon still out, Jenson readies to go indicating for someone to lead them out “I’ll take up my usual spot in line.”

Gildor says,”Let’s leave most of our gear here and just take a weapon and armor with us so we can carry more. Maybe some sacks.”
Gildor slings his laser carbine and gets his sack(s) and stows his other gear in a room. As they leave to go to the pod he’ll re-lock the door and find some dirt to scatter once every is out, in front of the door.

As the party leave the armourers, Kalam, Gildor, Cynan and Talo dump their backpacks in the workshop area, Kradorn thinks about it but decides to keep all his weapons and armour. Everyone heads back to the breach in the wall and from there, back to the pod, a journey of about ten minutes. The temperature seems to have dropped and the odd flake of snow drifts out of the low, grey sky.

The interior of the pod is as the party left it, filled with all their loot, a Kuo-toa body and a large collection of Kuo-toa spears, knifes and stinky shields.

At the Pod Jenson says, “OK, good, everything is as we left it. Gather all the gear and loot except all the Kuo-toa spears, knifes and stinky shields. We can come back another day for them if we need them.”
He looks to the dead Kuo-toa body. “Lets burn this guy once we are done here so it cannot be used by the undead” Turns to the group for confirmation “That is what you do right? I read about it in my fantasy zombie books about disposing bodies so I thought most appropriate.”
Jenson continues”Unless we need to preserve the meat for Saphiria or our own consumption if we run out of food?”

“Uh, no thanks!” exclaims Kradorn. Then he thinks “Hang on, aren’t there loads of those rations wrapped in silver in the escape pod?”

Gildor nods to Jenson “Yes we should burn the body so let’s start that just away from the pod so it’s going while we get it cleaned out.”

Gildor and Cynan drag the Kuo-toa outside the pod and everyone hunts about for fuel for the pyre. The wood they find is all long dead and dried out, ideal for burning, even in the cold. Within 10 minutes they have enough wood for a pyre and soon the Kuo-toa is burning.

“Brrrrrrrrr. I forgot my fur cloak and winter gloves in the escape pod with my backpack and sack there.” says Gildor. “I’ll make sure to get all my stuff at the pod and whatever else I can carry too. We may need to make more than one trip though. Slow and steady pace as we are not in a rush.”

Gildor gets all his own stuff, including his gloves and fur cloak plus 2 inflatable dingies (5lb each), 1 survival dome (10lb each), and all the food packs (193 day-rations 96.5lb).

Gildor also thinks about the Red death in case he remembers anything about it not that he studied ancient history but perhaps his race was aware of it none the less. But nothing springs to mind.

Talo helps to haul their gear from the pod as best he can. He ponders the nature of the deaths of the dwarves and gnomes they encountered.

Jenson does a systems check on the pod to see what condition it is in, then makes sure everything taken is dispersed evenly among the group. He then closes and locks the pod “For now let’s lock it up in case we may need it (states the condition of the pod).” And readies to go back “Best we get going before too long” as he looks up in the sky again watching the flakes fall.

With everyone loaded up to move at a slow walking pace there are still; a materials converter, 6 days rations, Backpack: 3 days rations, Whetstone, Flint and Steel, Wineskin 1.5 pints, 7 day-rations left outside the escape pod. Cynan and Kradorn offer to come back and get these as they can move more quickly carrying a load.

Half an hour later, the party arrive back at the armourers shuffling and rattling through the centimetre or so of snow that has accumulated in the time they have been away.
Cynan and Kradorn dump all of their load and quickly head off into the snow, back to the pod.

Upon their return, Talo hopes to inspect the bodies more closely and inspect the rest of the home with a detect evil orison.

The prayer cast, Talo concentrates but finds no hint of evil from the bodies or in the surrounding rooms. The four bodies are laid out in the traditional dwarven way, thinks the cleric.

Twenty minutes later Cynan and Kradorn return to the armourers with the rest of the equipment from the escape pod. They have nothing to report except that the snow is coming down heavier than it was and is a couple of centimetres deep by now. Their boot prints are clearly visible so they hope the snow continues for a while yet to cover the tracks.

Gildor says, “My mind is playing tricks on me. With the snow coming down I just thought I was cold, but my ring is keeping me warm. Bahhhh. You guys will get cold unless we get a fire going in here tonight.”
Gildor will look around for something to get a fire going and where the best place would be to get it going to warm the home.

“We can all go get some more firewood and those that take watch can keep the fire going. The problem with that is that will probably draw the attention of the undead, so we better be sure this place is sealed up tight.”

Gildor changes out his gear….listed below before heading out to get more firewood.
Gildor takes these items from the forge room. Buckler Shield, power pack, Grenades – 3 flechette, 3 incendiary, 2 poison gas, 2 sleep gas, 1 AP needler clip, 1 Healing spray, 1 food packs, Medi-pack, power-pack, 1 mini-power cell and a lantern.
Forge
room items left … 7 food packs, 2 mini-power cells, Kuo-toa dagger, 73gp, 190pp, 38pp and 14gp
He also takes from his equipment and backpack and put in the forge with his stuff… Fur cloak, winter gloves, Survival Dome and Sleep needler clip block.

Kradorn takes Gildor’s cloak and rearranges his stock of arrows into two quivers. The party set off again to the break in the city wall to gather firewood beyond the wall. The snow is falling heavier than ever, covering the ground to a depth of 6cm and limiting visibility to about 100m.

Gordon looks about and up into the low grey-yellow sky and says he thinks this weather is only going to get worse. Finding smaller sticks on the round is almost impossible due to the snow cover but a while hacking at the larger remains of trees and shrubs provides an armful of wood for everyone in the party, enough to keep a small fire going for at least 24 hours.

By the time the party get back to the armoury the snow is nearly 8cm deep and falling in great clumps.

After Talo has convinced himself of the safety with that spell, he returns to the bodies and begins last rites for all the bodies, one at a time with a solemness not often see in the blood-letting cleric. Talo grasps them each by the side of the head as he whispers prayers into their faces – pleading with the forces that be to welcome them home. His eyes closed he is moved by their passing without loved ones to avenge them or tender them their final oblations. His gentleness is methodical and painstaking. He touches their faces as a father might the face of a sleeping babe. “Were that thou was here. Never gone. Entreat the sleeping warriors their words and tales. Rest children of the rock.” He straightens a braid in a beard. He aligns a lock of hair and shifts weapons to be ‘just so’.”

Looking down at the mummified dwarves and gnomes its hard to make out much detail about any of the bodies. Their clothing looks typical of someone working at a forge, though the female dwarf has had her fancy breastplate added post-mortem, along with her weapon. The bodies are laid out as if in a tomb, which given the state of the city is probably appropriate, it looks like one vast necropolis to the cleric.

Once done he turns to Jenson, “About your question to this red plague. I do not recall anything that is of current concern. There have been tragedies in the past but I need to think whether I can figure out if any of those stories may be related.” He pats the human on the shoulder as he makes his way past looking for any books or studies. Finding none he inquires as to whether he can look at the ledger to determine if there may be any frequent clients. Any long outstanding debts. Any recognizable patrons. Rates and costs of common weaponry or master-work quality to determine the quality of the shop and the activity of the town in general.

Talo looks about the dwarven home and can see it as typical of the time of the Red Death, the plague which swept across the world, human, elf and dwarf, about three hundred years ago. Not that much has changed in the three hundred years since. The ledger and other books are much as he would expect. The fàrdùk (home) of these dwarves is just as the cleric would expect, with its central oven/hearth, larder and stocks of fuel.

Gildor reaches out with his mind to see if he can contact Saphiria, “Are you nearby girl? Did you find food?”

Saphiria is far away, barely at the edge of his connection with the firedrake. She is cold and hungry and following the river back towards the city through the snow.

Gildor says, “We have enough wood for only 24 hours. We’ll need more wood tomorrow. Let’s get a fire going….Either the forge room or in the cellar with the spit. Let’s get comfortable while we are here.”

Jenson gathers his gear and then takes out his Power Collection Unit. Re-examines it. Looks to the group, “OK, I can set this up upstairs with the hope that it will catch some sunlight through the windows and maybe charge a little bit of one power cell..” sighs “Though with this bad weather, I am afraid if we have a cloudy day it will be useless.”
He keeps it packed up for the night “This I will keep close to me for it is very important to me. In the morning I can decide what to do with it based on the weather and what happens tonight”.
Jenson helps unpack and sort the fire wood “I am not sure the best bet for a fire up stairs in the big forge as it will need lots of wood to keep it burning but is efficient. The smaller fire in the cellar would need less fuel and if it is in a smaller area could be better. Though it is in the basement so we would be trapped if we are overwhelmed with undead. I do have a survival dome that could be set up in the largest area to use if it comes to that but for now lets see if we can tough it out here.” Looks to each “Well, I am not sure but do we set up camp on this level or the basement? You guys are better at this sort of tactics real time then me as I only read about it in books.”

Gildor says, “I didn’t see a fireplace. I’d like to stay on the main floor and keep our gear close. Maybe a small fire in the forge will radiate a bit of heat out into the room for us. With any luck we’ll go unnoticed tonight. Let’s prep some more lanterns with some oil and get them positioned on the main floor to give light. We don’t want a to get out of control in here though since our gear is in the other room. Problem there is that fire is usually very effective against most undead. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.” Gildor grins a bit. Gildor will get a small fire going in the forge. He then sits down somewhere and enjoys a ration and some water.

Talo emerges from his work below in the dwarven home to See Gildor and the others eating their rations and gathered around a small fire set in the forge, The fire looks lost in the forge and the room is cold and draughty.
The dwarf has to ask around for water, there seems to be little left amongst the party.
As Gildor is finishing off his foil wrapped ration bar (he’s not sure what it is supposed to taste like but its filling at least) when he notices several bulging sacks shoved into one corner of the room that he’s not noticed before. A careful prod reveals them to be full of chunks of very light, black rocks, slightly shiny and dusty like charcoal.