Chapter 01 – Blingdenstone
03 – Arriving at Blingdenstone
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About a century ago, several thousand svirfneblin called Blingdenstone home. Svirfneblin are also known as deep gnomes. The most notable difference between them and other gnomes is their dark grey complexion. Their former settlement is a mere forty-five miles from Menzoberranzan, the drow city, but the gnomes used illusion, geomancy, and traps to avoid drow attention. This peaceful existence was shattered, however, when drow came in force to enslave the svirfneblin. Fewer than a thousand gnomes escaped to the surface, finding refuge in city of Silverymoon in the Silver Marches, where most have lived in exile ever since.
In the last four decades, svirfneblin have begun moving back into the ruins to recover their homes, with aid from the folk of the Silver Marches. But developments in the past few years have drawn the attention of surface folk away from Blingdenstone. Efforts to reclaim the ruins have stalled. The gnomes’ supplies and numbers have begun to dwindle. They need help to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
The caravan arrives at the base camp in the entrance of a cave on the side of a mountain. The gnomes were expecting the caravan. Their guide is a svirfneblin explorer named Briddick, who is slender with slate-gray skin, a bald head, and wide, gray eyes. He leads the way through secret tunnels and a winding labyrinth. As travel down, Briddick starts sharing with the group. He mentions that the town is thankful that this caravan was able make it in, they are in need of those supplies. Alora tells him the story of your trip, with different members adding their bits here and there. Briddick is impressed and expresses his thanks again, he says that you must be the help that was promised to them from Silverymoon. He looks at the elves and says that another person like them arrived a few days before to help also, though he’s not dressed for battle like the group is. Finally, the team reaches the ruined city. Work to repair damage the drow dealt continues. The gnomes wear tattered armor and bloody bandages. They carry notched and broken weapons, suggesting that the fighting has been fierce and frequent.
Brando had provided Rynox with a map, the link is here – Blingdenstone Map
The gnomes have already reclaimed areas 1 – 5 (the entrance areas), 8 (the Ruby in the Rough), 11 (The Silent Shrieker), 12 (Phantasmal Glamours), 13 (The Trader’s Grotto), 15 (The Singing Stones), 16 (The Golden Hllls Hearth), and 18 (The Speaking Stones).
The main entrance to Blingdenstone is a wide stairway between two walls of stone. The stairs go up to a landing. Beyond the landing are two immense metal-banded doors that open into the city. In the wall of the stairway, a tunnel sized to allow ore carts through leads up to a small side chamber. After such carts are hitched to a chain at the bottom of the tunnel, a single svirfneblin can turn the crank at the top of the ramp, hauling carts up to the landing. The merchants part ways with the group at this point, again expressing their thanks.
Blingdenstone is a series of chambers connected by low tunnels. Past the entrance doors is the largest cavern, home to the city guard and designed solely for defense. A narrow corridor, where even gnomes must march single file, leads into the rest of the city from the entrance cavern.
The adventurers’ guide led them up the stairway and through the defensive labyrinth in the entry cavern. Neither the maze’s twisting tunnels nor the deadly traps found in them are accurately depicted on the map. If the group wishes to leave, they must secure a gnome guide to lead them out or risk becoming hopelessly lost in the tunnel network.
The svirfneblin have secured a ring of caverns and tunnels surrounding what was once the temple of Segojan Earthcaller. Barricades assembled from rubble define the boundary between the reclaimed portion of the city and the wilderness beyond. Where the gnomes’ boulder-like buildings still stand, they are cracked and crumbling, testimony to the fury of the drow attack that destroyed Blingdenstone. Shallow caves in the ruins are deserted, but some still show signs of those who once lived within. Connecting tunnels are choked with bones and debris, although the gnomes tidy the remains when they are able.
Briddick introduces them around and then has to run off as he is needed elsewhere. The group tries to gather information. Almost everyone strikes out pretty badly, except Kade and Pugg. They find out the following needs doing -
1. The Bane – The owner of Phantasmal Glamours (a spell component shop catering to illusionists), Henkala Shadowsong, says that there’s an evil force called Ogrémoch’s Bane that is influencing earth elementals in the Hall of Miners (area 6), making them dangerous. The group needs to secure the help of some creatures called pechs to help them with the Bane. The pechs are living in the Armorers and Weaponsmiths Guild in area 7.
2. The Wormwrithings – The young bard, Gurmadden Stonesinger, was the group to collect singing stones for him. One of the leaders of Blingdenstone, Burrow Warden Kargien Dissengulp, wants them to clear it out of kobolds. Someone needs to close off whatever passage they are using to get in and collect singing crystals in the Wormwrithings. Gurmadden’ll pay 10gp for each stone.
3. The Crown of Blingdenstone – The Crown was lost in the House Center. There is an evil in the House Center that needs to be cleared out. This came from one of the leaders of Blingdenstone, Burrow Warden Kargien Dissengulp. Kade and Pugg could tell he wants to wear the crown himself.
4. Wake the Speaking Stones – The priest Pingtu believes the Stones are silent because of a drow curse. He needs the group’s help to life the curse and revive the Speaking Stones.
5. Stop the Orc Raids – The healers Jalless and Krell in the Trader’s Grotto say that someone needs to stop the orc raids. Jalless does not like Kargien, he is unworthy of the crown.
6. Negotiate Trade with Mantol-Derith – Supply manager Fendrick Pestle needs the group to go on a trade mission to the trading post Mantol-Derith. For some reason they won’t trade with the gnomes, so the group must not let on that they are with the gnomes.
As the group was collecting the above information, something happened. They were talking to Fendrick in the Golden Hills Hearth, 4 orcs attack the northern barricade. They all wear studded leather armor and wield greataxes, much like KalEl’s. The gnomes defending it don’t look like they will stand a chance, they are outnumbered and half the size of their attackers.
In a large temple that dominates this cavern, the keen ears of the wood elf monk Calidor hear the sounds of battle.
Gnome 1 yells at Orc 1 in Gnomish, and to the party’s surprise he becomes blurry. Out of the temple to the East, the wood elf Calidor comes running out with his longbow, wearing what looks like monk garb and heavily tattooed. He lines up a shot and hits Orc 1 through the arm (-3 hp).
Alora runs up, lines up her shot and also hits Orc 1, her shot goes through the orc warrior’s leg (-3 hp). He is starting to get bloody. Mialee runs out and shoots at Orc 3, hitting him in the forearm (-3 hp). The orc yells and becomes enraged.
Orc 1 swings at Gnome 1 with his great axe (much like the one used by KalEl) and misses his blurry opponent. Orc 2 has better luck. His great axe cleaves deep into the shoulder of Gnome 3, who yells out a death cry and falls to the ground (-11 hp). In his rage, Orc 3 jumps over the barricade and runs at the party with a war cry!
Seeing the Orc charging, Kade gets besides his elven sisters and lets loose a shot, but misses. KalEl’s first instinct is to face his opponent toe-to-toe and charges full speed at Orc 3. Pugg follows behind him. He curses that the orc is looking like he is just out of range of his divine wrath. Pugg pulls out his crossbow with a grumble while he is running up. Moradin must be with him as he fires the bolt, since it strikes the charging Orc 3 right between the eyes (20!). With wide eyes, the orc’s head jerks back as his feet keep going forward, falling backwards to the ground dead.
Seeing his friend felled by Orc 2, Gnome 2 goes blurry also.
With KalEl running so far ahead, Rynox runs to catch up. However he lags a bit behind, as dwarf’s legs are shorter than those of his half-orc friend.
Orc 4 sees his fellow warrior go down. He yells angrily (KalEl can understand, “For Gruumsh!”), jumps over the barricade and tries to charge at the group but comes up a little short.
Grey gnomes have a very communal society. Since they are young, they are conditioned to work together in teams. Maybe it came about as a way to survive the many dangers of the Underdark. Naturally that teamwork is part of how grey gnomes fight. Thanks to Gnome 2 also engaging Orc 1, Gnome 1 is able to coordinate his attack with Gnome 2 and drive his pick into the guts of Orc 1 (-7 hp), taking the orc down.
Calidor sees the party seems to be helping out the gnomes and runs up. He pauses for a split-second and whispers to himself, “Mialee? Here?” But seeing the grey gnomes in need, he recovers his focus and lets loose another arrow, this time at Orc 2. The arrow strikes the orc (-4 hp) who grunts loudly trying to hold back a pain filled scream.
“Wait, is that…Calidor?!” Alora thinks for a moment, but regains her composure as she sees Orc 4 about to clash with KalEl. With her bow in her left hand, she reaches for her wand that is in a pocket of her robe with her right hand. With a slightly haughty tone her race is known for, she exclaims, “Eat cold death, vile creature!”. She gestures and mutters a magic word effortlessly, causing a thin blue ray streaks from her wand to Orc 4. The ray strikes true. The orc starts to shiver and starts to visibly slow down (-2 hp).
Mialee runs up and finds herself next to the stranger that has joined the battle on her party’s side. She opens her eyes wide, “Calidor!? Brother!!” she yells out. Calidor looks back with surprised look he tries to hold back. Before he can say anything, she interrupts him with frowned eyes and a smile, “There will be time for cheer soon, after we finish fighting this scum!” She fires her arrow at Orc 2 and nicks him (-2 hp).
Orc 2 is starting to bleed badly. With two of his pack down, he begins to fear for his life. “I must warn the boss!” he tells himself to justify his flight. However, in his panic and with the blood he is spilling, he slips trying to get over the barricade set up by the gnomes and cannot get over it. “You won’t get away, you coward!” yells Gnome 2 in Common.
Kade sees his opening. But as he rushes up next to Mialee he also pauses, “Who’s Cali…?” he thinks to himself with a confused expression. He then spurts out, “Wait…Calidor!” He then quickly thinks back, “I have to take the shot!” With his time living in the streets, Kade learned how to press an advantage over his opponents. He learned long ago that few threats are more dangerous than a group of thieves ganging up on an opponent; there’s not such thing as fighting dirty when life and death are on the line. With Gnome 2 engaging Orc 2 and the orc having his back turned, Kade grins. He fires his arrow and drives it right into the middle of orc’s back (-3 hp and -3 hp sneak attack). The orc loses his wind and cannot let out that final scream as his mouth opens wide in the attempt. He can only wheeze and cough up blood as he slumps awkwardly face first onto the barricade.
With his opponent close at hand, KalEl instinctly enters into his rage with a mighty war cry, “The pain is coming, sheepfucker!” He crouches low and charges Orc 4, speartackling him into the ground (-4 hp) and restraining him.
Pugg runs up and tries to take a shot at Orc 4 with his crossbow. He’s unable to get a clear shot with KalEl on top of him and misses.
Seeing what KalEl is trying to do, Rynox moves up on Orc 4 while he takes out his maul. He swings low and hits Orc 4 across the face with that giant sledgehammer. However, he holds back enough to knock out the orc rather than kill him, bringing the battle to an end.
With the orcs defeated, the party can finally drop their guard. Mialee jumps on Calidor and they give each other a big hug. “Brother!” she exclaims in Elvish with a big smile. “Yes, it is I, my dear sister.” responds Calidor in Elvish with a relaxed tone and a slight smile. Kade and Alora come over to also greet their friend Calidor. Being High Elves, Kade and Alora as little more reserved and exchange light hugs with Calidor rather than the hearty embrace he shared with Mialee (“Wood elves,” they would both think to themselves). They all talk in Elvish. KalEl and Rynox are busy stripping the prisoner to his undergarments while he is unconscious and tying him up.
Pugg clears his throat, “Who is this guy again? And talk Common like the rest of us.” Rynox and KalEl are still too busy with the prisoner to hear. Alora responds, “My apologies, friend Puggter. Calidor is Mialee’s brother. We are so excited because we have not seen him for a long time, even for us Elves. We grew up togther. But he was accepted into Order of the Silver Arrows many years ago. It is an order dedicated to our Lady, Sehanine Moonbow.”
Calidor pipes in, “My apologies, brave dwarf, it was rude of me to speak in our native tongue in your presence. My name is Calidor. I was sent here to offer assistance to the deep gnomes here in Blingdenstone.” Pugg replies, “Puggter. That over there is my cousin, Rynox. And the big guy is KalEl. Mialee is a friend. That was good shooting.” He shakes hands with Calidor’s hand with a firm grip. They are interrupted as they hear some gnomes yelling in Common -
- “Someone please help us!”
- “Krick is dying!”
- “We need a healer!”
- “Our friend needs help!”
“We need to help!” says Mialee. Pugg nods, “We’ll pick this up later. The rest of you should take a look at the bodies.” Pugg and Mialee rush over to the gnomes. Alora says, “Let us search the bodies.” Kade looks at the fallen orc close by. Alora and Calidor follow the priests, as there are two bodies in the barricade.
When Pugg and Mialee arrive, they pause at the large wound caused by the orc. “The orc did this with just one blow?!” mentions Mialee. Pugg uses Spare the Dying to bring back the gnome. Mialee casts Cure Wounds to try to restore some of his health back. The gnome is brought back far from the brink of death. He and his friends are amazed and bow deeply in gratitude. “Thank you for saving my life.”
The party recovers 34 silver pieces and the equipment used by the orcs. Rynox and KalEl ask Pugg who the new guy is. Pugg tells them that’s Mialee’s brother. Fendrick finally steps away from the supply store to talk to the group, accompanied by two gnomes. “Good fighting. Thanks for the help.” He looks at the prisoner Rynox and KalEl are holding. “Kargien will want to have his gnomes handle the interrogation. We will share what we find with you. These orcs have been a pain in our asses for most of the year and this is the first time we had one in custody. Please hand him over.” The party members look at each other. Pugg starts to nod OK. Alora agrees and speaks for the group, “Very well, you can have our prisoner. Would it be prudent for us to participate in the interrogation, good Fendrick?” Fendrick motions to the two gnomes and they proceed to escort the prisoner, shoving him and menacing him with their picks.
Fendrick watches them as they walk away. He turns back to the group, “What have you got there?” He looks over at the salvage the group collected. “Tell you what, we could use the steel and the leather from that stuff. I’ll give you 10 gold.” Puggter frowns, “Someone else will give us a better price.” Fendrick smirks, “I’ve been told you’ve been walking around our little town today. I think you know that I’m the only game in town right now for this kind of stuff, friend dwarf. Henkala only deals in illusionist stuff.”
Kade interrupts, “10 gold is an insult, my friend, but I know you would not insult us after the help we have offered Blingdenstone. But we are in a generous mood and don’t feel like carrying this merchandise around. 20 gold. The equipment would be a bargain at twice the price.” Fendrick looks at Kade right in the eye for a moment. “Very well. I’ll need you to bring it over to the store.” Kade extends his hand and Fendrick shakes it, the deal is done. Fendrick offers a silk rope in exchange for the one lost to the prisoner. KalEl grunts and takes it.
The group walk away from Fendrick, towards the large abandoned hall in the cavern to get some privacy. Pugg says, “This matter of the earth elementals and the pechs sound interesting. Let’s help with that first.” Alora agrees, “That would be interesting indeed. I’ve never seen a pech or an elemental in real life. How intriguing an adventure that would be!” Rynox says, “The orcs are a big pain here. We should go kill them.” Mialee objects, “Pugg and I saw that they did to that gnome, we should get more combat experience before taking those orcs on. We don’t even know how many there are or how well they are organized.” KalEl grunts out, “The Bane.” Kade nods, “Yes, I agree. The Bane.”
Calidor says, “Since I’m here for the same thing you all are, maybe I could join you?” Mialee says, “Of course! You must!” She realizes that she did not check with the group yet, “Well, if it is OK with everyone else, is it?” Kade says yes. Alora says of course. Pugg says, “Well, since you are Mialee’s kin that should be fine.” Rynox interjects, “When things get rough, you better pull you weight, that’s all I’m saying.”
KalEl looks at Calidor, “Are you only an archer? Where is your armor? You only fight with those little daggers?” Calidor responds, “As part of our training growning up we learn to use the bow. And my order is one of the few that embraces it. But when things get rough…” Calidor punches a nearby stone stalagmite with his bare fist, breaking it, “…I’ll be sure to lend a hand.” The party is impressed, this being the first time some have seen a monk.
Pugg says, “It’s settled. Now to get these pechs to journey with us.” Mialee says, “Pugg, I just need some rest first. We should probably stay at the barracks in the Singing Stone where we met that bard, Gurmadden I think was his name. But we should probably walk through the infirmary first and help out a little.” Everyone agrees. They start walking.