The party arrives near Sperth due to some magical horses shortening the trip from many weeks to just 10 days. When they arrive they find that the city is in great need of supplies and heroes. Located North and West of city are farms, but they are all destroyed. It is cold and mountainous.
The party works its way towards the center of town to meet with the leader, Coaster Chandler. Many sources of old lore are located here as remnants of the last great wars that occurred. As the party works its way to the center of town, they see that the city is spread out west, east, and south for quite some distance. As the look north all they can see is rubble. Adding to the depression in the city around supplies, Xalara discovers that in Sperth there is no beer, which leads Xalara to be very concerned for the brewmaster, Skiv.
Coaster is not what the party expected. Standing at 6’9” and build like a shit brickhouse with a treetrunk for a chest. Atop his head is a thick crop of dark hair and is dressed in half-plate. As he speaks in a deep baritone, he tells them of the situation in the city. He makes it clear to the party that he does not trust them yet as they have not earned that right, but that he does have a young man, named Borthimir, looking for aid in hunting out a nest of undead. Coaster makes it very clear along with his right hand man, Brink Thundarr, that the city is in desperate need of supplies. The party decides to donate some of the meals that their magic bag contains to help the city. They know that it is not much and that the bag will take some time to regenerate, but it is a little something that they can do. In addition, they use the calling stones to contact Parn, and the King and Queen to see if they can get aid sent to the city. They discover that very little can be sent, but that they will send smiths and engineers to help fortify things.
With that the party sets off east by northeast towards the mines to root out these undead. After making it through the treacherous mountain passes which luck and skill, they find the entrance to the mines. As they work their way through the mines, they find many undead along with many chambers that were used for foul rituals, stained with old and new blood. Along they way they find many traps that occasionally they can avoid. Finally as they make their way into the depths of the mine, they encounter chanting where they find three priests chanting as well as a wizard in red robes. When the party charges in, the red wizard escapes leaving his priests to handle the party, which they fail to do. Once they are finished, they explore the rest of the caverns to find 8000 gold worth of gems and some magical equipment.
Arriving back at Sperth, more hunting has gone on, so meat is a tad more prevalent. Find they are going to have a big party. We tell Coaster all about the adventure. He mentions he will try to cleanse the tunnels, but that if nothing else they will use the tunnels for refuge.
By successful killing the priests, they have stopped more dead from being raised, in addition to stopping whatever nasty ritual they were engaged in. Outer farms should be safer, but not 100% safe. Now we know there is a Red Wizard of Thay, like the one in the volcano and the one in the southern mines. Northern farms are being attacked by ranks of armed troops, creatures from the north (wights, ghouls, werebears, werewolf, trolls). The west of Sperth is being attacked by large volleys of ice balls. The east is still pretty nice. Caves in northwest rumbling like a volcano. We also learn that Borthomir’s family, which was slaughtered, lived in the Northwest.
The party asks about the best approach to head toward the caverns to the northwest and are told that the path west then north is the preferable route. It is filled with pine forests but sparse amongst the mountainous terrain. The party settles in to wait for a scouting party that is due to come in, but Thoril is restless and want to start heading out.
Scouts arrive from the west about 3 hours later. They tell of the undead that haunted their every movement. The mountain peaks have frost giants and catapults. They also concur that going west is also the best approach to the caves to the Northwest.
Thundarr talks about putting explosive gems in the valleys underneath catapults and bring them down. “Gemming the catapults.” He has 3 Gems from the Great wars that were handed down to him, but he doesn’t know how to use them. Says they should visit an old retired warmage by the name of Thist Hammersdorn. Thist wasn’t a very good war mage in practice, but was fantastic at the theoretical stuff. Thist goes by the name Handy. Handy lives a half days ride to the east. When asked on how we could get on his good side, Thundarr mentions the only way to get on his good side is the head of a beast or two. One hand has been mangled by beast and Thundarr hints at a troll.
Thundarr hands us the note, and is very explicit: When you approach the gates of fire, simply yell out, “Handy, you old hagglesworn, get out here or Thundarr will kick your ass from here to next moonshine.” Then give Handy the letter.
The party arrives at the gates of fire about late to mid day. Raden says the phrase. The group is suddenly surrounded by a blaze of green fire and out comes Handy, an odd looking 6’2” dwarf with arcane robes and a black fist. The party offers the note to Handy and suddenly he softens and is sad. The party offers to send him to town, but refuses. The party tells Handy why that have sought him out. He invites them in as the work will take him some bit to figure out.
Handy is a bit unhinged. Fist is made of obsidian. When the party goes through the gates, they appear to be sitting in an ordinary mages tower and study room. On the back wall, however, they can see the astral plane.
Astral plane is in some ways where a lot of magic is learned from. Astral plane is highly chaotic plane but navigable. In the history of the world, when the material plane and astral plane meet in not good ways, the material plane gets abused, like a gnome with a limp. Creatures of the astral plane are some of the fiercest you can encounter.
Handy asks the party to find book by the author, Durtt. At that time, he starts tapping until a part of the gem falls off. He drops it in a box and a rune on the box starts to count down. Box explodes when the counter reaches zero. Handy tells us that he knows how to set them off but that they are unstable. They are made from the blood of trolls and elves. He then tells the party that he can make more but is limited by elf’s blood to make only ten of them.
Xalara bargains a price of 3250gp for the 10 bombs. Floating astral servant says dinner is served and we eat. About midnight we receive the 10 small boxes and are asked to not open them. They are about 3 inches cube in size with a twist lock. Handy leads us to his back porch where he has a modified slingshot out there. Each box can be both a primer and an explosive in a chain. To use a box as part of a chain, we turn the top left at which point the rune will be blue. To use the box as a primer, we turn the lid to the right where the run will turn yellow. When you want to make it explode, put a key in the box, and run.
Blue waiting for primer
Yellow is a primer
Red is about to burn
After this, we tell him our tale of blowing up a mountain. Handy enjoys the story so much he gives us back 500gp and gets the party a ride on the backs of eagles back to the town of Sperth. He tells us that when we use the explosives to make sure you tell the giants that it is some good handywork when you blow up them up.