Week 40 - Mud, Roc and a mine.

After the great omelette feast, the rulers of Newhaven held a planning session. They decided that their new military unit should be made up of Archers and Hammer-men and that it should be based at fort Stag. The Horseguard would also be based in Fort Stag, while a regular unit of Light Foot would replace them at Tor Watch. The leaders themselves would continue their exploration of the land north of The Gurdin all the way to the mountains.

Next it was a review of intelligence reports – with Jovvox, Mivon and Drelev being of particular interest. In part they were interested in visiting, Rudy is keen to seen Tamary again, there is an interest in visiting the traders in Mivon, and there was an awareness that mercenaries might be hired in both Mivon and Jovvox. However, there was also an element of irritation that Jovvox appeared to be claiming land to the south of Newhaven.

Then it was off up country again – first into the hills north of the river and then to explore Lake Silverstep itself. The hills themselves were fairly quiet, just a few sightings of elk, wolves and similarly ‘normal’ creatures and, apart from the sight of the Roc taking a couple of elk, nothing untoward happened. That did make them realise that they would need to deal with the roc before the road between Newhaven and Varnhold was built - but they decided it could wait for a while.

Then they moved on to Lake Silverstep. Using the boat they sailed across the lake, and then around the coast looking for signs of interest, before landing on the southern land tongue. Almost immediately they spotted some humanoid foot prints on the beach - but massive. Hebrin estimated that the creature who made them must have been at least fifteen feet tall and probably weighed tons – a giant of some kind – and it was dragging dinner with. Probably some sort of giant water creature from the size of the drag marks.

They followed the tracks back up the tongue, towards the cliffs, to eventually see them disappear into a large crack in the rock. The scouting mission wasn’t very stealthy, and the scouts were spotted – the Great Cyclops (for that was what it was) rose to its feet and started out into the open after then. They might only be small, but even a light snack, like half a dozen adventurers, isn’t to be passed up!

It was a tough battle. Ox and Larran went into the attack and were both felled by a couple of blows from the beast’s club. Cassandra summoned a storm and started hitting it with a combination of fire balls and lightning bolts, Rudy summoned up earth tremors, Hebrin tried, not very successfully, to damage it with a few arrows, and Robert called on Iomedae’s grace to make him as big and as strong as the Cyclops. Robert grew, almost doubling in size and weight - but he was still not a match for the great Cyclops. Then he rained fire down on the creature before attempting to take it on in single combat. By this time, Rudy had dragged Ox away and was administering first aid, before continuing with the combat. Literally half the party down, and that was all the real combat trained members - the three who were expected to stand up in a fight!

In the end, Rudy went into toe-to-toe combat as he tried to distract the monster - and all the while Cassandra was using lightning strikes and fireballs … Eventually it did the trick, a lightning bolt seemed to stun it, then the follow up fireball finished it off. Even then it swayed for a moment, before it fell - and fortunately it missed both Robert and Larran who had been left prone at its feet.

Fortunately, no one had died - although Larran, Ox and Robert had been very close indeed - but it still took them a while to carry out enough basic healing that every one was fit to go on. After all, there was still it’s lair to explore. However, that seemed fairly empty - apart from all the bones. They did find the remains of a traveller, a half-orc cleric by the look of it, various large birds, water monster bones and even the remains of a great mammoth. But most important were the red streaks on the back wall, which Rudy recognises as coming from an iron rich rocks - and they marked the cave down as a potential iron mine!

Then it was back to the boat crew, and a simple camp. Away from the remains of the Cyclops, away from the shores of the lake and the potential monsters within it - they settled down for the night. Well, at least they did until Rudy was distracted by the wind groaning across holes in the rock surface. As he was trying to plug various holes to make chords and tunes he noticed a gleam deep inside one - which meant he just had to find out what it was. However, he was cautious enough to call the others, when he realised it would mean putting his hand deep into a hole in the ground. It situation screamed ‘trap’ to all of them - so they searched for traps (to no avail) and discussed all sorts of different ways of getting the crystal, for they had shone a light on it now, out of the hole.

Eventually, they decided to summon a minor earth elemental to dig it out of the rock for them, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a high quality Crystal that would be worth a fair bit of gold back home. What with Iron, Crystal and the particularly tasty eels, Lake Silverstep would clearly be a great addition to any kingdom.

The next day it was on to the northern tongue of land at the far side of the lake. There appeared to be a ridge and than a flat muddy, swampy area that stretched for miles. For some reason Cassandra decided to cast detect magic, and the whole mud field showed a very faint magical aura. Literally stretching for miles away from where the party had pulled up on the side of the lake. No one wanted to venture onto the ‘land’, so Cassandra fired a crossbow bolt, only to have a lump of mud thrown back at her as the vague shape of a humanoid upper body formed from the mud. As soon as he could, Rudy started to steer the ship back towards the middle of the lake, while Hebrin decided to fire an arrow – that passed straight through the mudman without causing any harm. By this time there were more of the things forming out of the mud, all hurling mud bombs at the departing vessel. Fortunately, Rudy and the crew were able to get the boat out of range fairly quickly - well before anyone was at real risk from the rapidly hardening mud.

There were a few deliberations as they headed home. An eventual settlement of the southern tongue to exploit the fish and mineral resources, warning about the Northern Tongue and declaring it a no-go area – and a fairly uncomfortable understanding that they would have to do something about the Roc sometime soon.

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