A plan is made where each party memeber watches one or two street urchins during the day, in an area known for abductions to occur. Sure enough, Laen spots a suspicious stranger from his perch on the roof walking down the alley towards two street urchins. The stranger casts two spells, and one of the children topple over, asleep. The other stands up and looks around, alert. Laen swings hiself down from the 4th floor rooftop, drops dowards through several washing lines, and lands with an expert dive-roll into a pile of refuse, receiving only a small graze. He steps out, blocking the stranger's exit and draws his bow. The stranger rushes past him and a chase ensues through the alleys and back streets of the slums. Eventually he catches the stranger who screams for help. Two small creatures emerge from the remains of a long since burnt building and attack him as he wrestles with the stranger. The distraction proves successful, and Laen is forced to release the man so that he may defend himself. The man and the two creatures run into what appears to be the cellar of a burnt building. Laen follows with his bow and manages to incapacitate the man before he escapes. He stabilises the man, hoists him over his shoulder and returns to the others. The stranger is deposited in the only guard post in the slums distict, and they return to examine the building. The whole block seems to have been burnt to the ground many years ago, and has never been used since. From what the guard said it's likely this was a plague quarantine where corpses were piled and burned. From the stranger's scars it seems possible he was caught in that blaze. They enter the room and discover several underground rooms which are apparently inhabited by rat creatures. Some of the rooms are trapped, and various forms of creatures are found living amongst the refuse. An enterance to a lower level is discovered and explored, and a nest of rat-things are put down. Disturbingly, there is evidence that the stranger they apprehended was performing morbid experiments on the children he had been abducting to create the rat creatures. They return to the surface with the findings, and the man is swiftly found guilty of kidnapping and witchcraft, and is burned publicly.
With nothing left to do the party return to Belm. Ever since the incident with the Charnel House (the butchery) Xavier has been itching to leave, and seems to be suddenly much more at ease once outside the city limits. They spend several weeks in Belm and an early winter begins to settle in.
It is on an idle Waterday that Cardinal Gleam summons the party once more, and explains that he has had a vision. In his vision he saw the Splinter which was stolen from the cathedral by young Weracy, then cast into the maw of the Sepinus Ulcer that the party clensed. The final words of the demon Azgúk had also mentioned the Splinter, and had claimed that it played a part in creating the Ulcer at Felric's Redoubt.
The good news is that Cardinal Gleam's vision has shown him the location of the splinter. That however is also the bad news for it seems that the Splinter has resurfaced in Tarukkhal, the south-eastern most fortress of Uzarâg. As the name is mentioned, everyone falls silent. Uzarâg is a mountaineous region to the east. It is the fallen dwarven empire, a hellish corrupted land long since overrun by the Warlord and his orcish hordes, and is a permanent Ulcer. Few who travel there return, and aside from occasional Dwarves performing the Great Revenge of their ancestors, nobody does anyway.
Cardinal Gleam pleads with the group to try to retrieve the Splinter. He knows that his information is vague, and he knows he is likely sending them to their doom, but such was the power of the vision that it can not be otherwise. The implications of the Splinter appearing inside another Ulcer are unknown, but certainly far from positive. The party must attempt to rescue the Splinter whatever the cost. It didn't take much meta-gaming to figure out that the party didn't really have any choice anyway, so they all grudgingly agreed and muttered grumpily to themselves about fairness and gratitude and so forth.
However, the deed is not to be done without gratitude or forethought. Opening a hidden compartment in his desk Cardinal Gleam produces a cloth package and opens it upon the table, revealing a small collection of curious objects. No two objects are similar, and all appear to be finely crafted. "These are all guarded treasures of of the church, yet they do us no good gathering dust in our vaults. Their uses are many and varied, and you will doubtlessly require their aid in this journey. You travel into lands cut off from God's influence. The least we can do is ensure you are adequately prepared." There is a small backpack, a pair of leather boots, a corked bottle, a tightly bound pouch, a ring, a feather, and a necklace with a glittering tear-shaped diamond on it.
Cardinal gleam explains the general functions of each item in turn, and then explains how you might get to Uzarâg in the swiftest possible manner. He is able to commandeer a ship to take the party to Felric's Redoubt where rendezvous with Khelinûl, the leader of a dwarven party who will be holidaying into Uzarâg to perform the Great Revenge. From there the quickest way into Uzarâg is to sail directly across the gulf by boat. The party will enter the mountains on foot and find a way to Tarukkhal. He gives the party maps and any travel equipment they will need, and gives them the blessings of the church. The party leave directly to their rooms to pack and depart.
- Obstacles overcome:
Human sorceror (CR7) = 2700XP
12 ratlings (CR1) = 3600XP
Spike trap (CR1) = 300XP
8 monstrous centepides (CR½) = 1200XP
5 Dire Rats (CR⅓) = 500XP
2 Carrion Crawlers (CR4) = 1800XP
Total XP gained = 10100XP / 3 = 3367XP each
Xavier = 16786XP + 3367XP = 20153XP (lvl6, 85% to lvl 7)
Laén* = 17886XP + 3367XP = 21253XP (lvl7, 4% to lvl 8, new level!)
Þórhal* = 16724XP + 3367XP = 20091XP (lvl6, 85% to lvl 7)
Lyam = 10027 (lvl5, 1% to lvl6)
Fjidor = 10027 (lvl5, 1% to lvl6)
* Cinematic point awarded to Laén for his cinematic leap from the roof.