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November 12, 2011

The 11th Telvar Open: Hot Turtle!

The 11th Telvar Open: Hot Turtle!

An Open in Two Parts, only one part of which is described below.

11/12/11 in China Grove, N.C. Hosted by the Jones Family / D.M. E.B. Anderson, Jr.


Expeditionary Force:
Grogan Icevein, Expedition Leader, Fighter 11 (Played by Kathryn Snead)
Luether Blackrock, High Priest of Clangeddin, Fighter 8/Cleric 9 (Played by Ashley Merritt)
Morett Ironface, Lieutenant, Fighter 9 (Played by Sean Guarino)
Yeuslin Goldfire, Sargeant, Fighter 6 (Played by Andrew Anderson?)
Slorgin Ironface, Sargeant, Fighter 6
4 Dwarves, Marines, Fighters 4 (Melee Squad)
6 Dwarves, Marines, Fighters 4 (Bowyer Squad) (Played by Sarah Lane?)

Vessel Crew:
Hoine Ironface, First Captain, Captain 8 (Played by David Chappell)
Baryun Icevein, Second Captain, Captain 7 (Played by Keith Nelson?)
Florin Hilltop, First Mate, Captain 6 (Played by David Jones
Uther Hilltop, Second Mate, Captain 5 (Played by Ryan Jones?)
6 Dwarves, Crew, Captains 3

Our story begins very long ago, when the high priestess of Moradin, Ygrill, had a vision of one of the nine flawless jewels of Moradin resting in a domed city - a ruin of the Ancient's. The King of the Wall Kingdom, Gamil the Fourth, put together a recovery party of his greatest warriors, and sent them out on a quest of the greatest importance to recover the gem and bring it back to the Kingdom.

Unlike the other Dwarvish Kingdoms, the royal family of the Wall Kingdom had held a secret that had lasted for millenia - an ice-covered port facility containing steam-powered vessels and the materials to make them run. Specifically, an ice cutter would be needed to traverse the ice floe-strewn seas that separated the Wall Kingdom from the rest of the world and make the journey to the jewel. So, the Dwarves mined a path through the ice to the port, and recovered one such vessel, outfitting it for the journey.

It was the first such expedition to leave the Wall Kingdom since the "scalding summer" when another expedition of dwarves had headed out on the mostly ice-free seas, never to be seen again.

"We entered the ruined, domed city of the Ancient builders through its lagoon. Our earthsblood ship could be made to plow under the water for short distances and we used that trick to enter a submerged path into the domed city's lagoon. Investigating the lagoon, we saw treasure and the empty shell of a dragon turtle. We were distracted by the treasure, and comforted by the fact that the dragon turtle had apparently passed away a few years previous. We were considering our options when a younger dragon turtle came in the sea gate behind us. Normally the scalding steam of a dragon turtle's breath would have led to instant death, but we were mostly protected by the ship's armor and the fire-resistance spells we always had on us to protect us from the flames that belched out of the ship's engine when it was running. As the dragon turtle closed, we realized that the next blast of steam would kill most of us, and retreat was the only option. As we fled from the ship, the dragon turtle smashed the back of the ship with its mighty claw and, with horror, heard the sound of the main drive shaft shattering. We ran inland, away from the lagoon and the dragon turtle, away from a certain death and into the hazards of the ruined city.

"Although we were out of the fire, we were only up in the frying pan, for the courtyard we had entered rapidly filled with golems and undead. Strange wisps drifted down from the central tower. When any of us were touched by a wisp, it caused pain and our minds were filled with tortured thoughts and anguish. We couldn't stay where we were for long; it wasn't going well.

"Our escape from the city through the lagoon was blocked by the dragon turtle, which was angrily batting about our precious ship. The only escape was to run further forward. We ran into a nearby open doorway, into a particularly large building which seemed like it might shelter us from the horrible wisps of thought.

"We now know that building as the Mall of the Four Elements. We got inside and then the doors closed behind us on their own. We looked about and saw old workshops and stores, and beautiful fountains of fire and water, of air and shining stones. We were now trapped in a strange space and we had just started to worry when our spirits were lifted. Inside the the Mall, sitting on a simple stone bench was the box foreseen in Ygill's vision and near it, the skeleton of one of the Ancients who built the domed city. When we approached the box, the very golem which had killed the Acient steward so long ago came out from a hiding place and came after us. We moved into a defensive position, confident we would defeat the single, old golem as soon as it reached the tips of our waiting weapons. Yet, in its charge, the golem broke the ancient box, allowing the Flawless Jewel to roll across the floor. The un-attenuated effect of the jewel stabilized the malfunctioning golem (it stopped attacking) but also affected all of us. The last thing any of us remember is the sound of the Jewel bouncing along the floor of the Mall.

"We must have spent a lot of time repairing, replacing, and optimizing our equipment. Looking at us today we are no longer in our old chainmail; we are now all equipped in re-furbished Ancient's armor. We also appear to have built over a dozen dwarven crossbows by copying the one we had (a task rarely completed by great smiths over the millenia since the High Kingdom). Somehow the Flawless Jewel is back inside its cask, and the cask looks new."

When we first emerged from the thrall of the gem, there was a great deal of confusion. Eventually, we gathered our wits, consulted amongst ourselves, and realized what had happened. Undisputably, we had aged - our once dark beards had whitened. However, we were all still alive, and with the gem enclosed in its box once more, we could begin again to fulfill our quest. A few decades are not the loss to a dwarf that they are to other less-hardy species.

A motley group of adventurers approached us, shouting questions and debating upon possible future actions in a most haphazard way. It was decidedly unlike the strict discipline that our own group employed, but it appeared that these adventurers were often successful in their exploits. Beyond that, they had helped us in one important way. They had enclosed the gem back in its box and released us from its thrall. We decided to listen and consult with them.

Their members seemed of two minds about us. Several of the members were dwarves, and after a time, one approached, introducing herself as the queen of a long-lost group of dwarves in the near vicinity. She welcomed us on behalf of her clan, and hoped we would express her good wishes to our King should we return home. This show of dwarven hospitality helped us feel much more at ease, and it was with only minor trepidation that we agreed to join forces with the adventurers. However, one of the non-dwarven members made quiet threatening gestures at us while showing us his collections of scrolls. This show of force didn't concern us over-much. We were strong warriors before our enthrallment; now, with the equipment we'd been re-furbishing for years, we were virtually unstoppable. Besides, the group didn't seem like it could organize itself long enough to carry out an attack against us.

We learned that our ship was in the lagoon still, quite damaged by the Dragon Turtle's attack. In addition, the Dragon Turtle had grown in the intervening decades. It was now a significant force, and the combined strength of the two parties might not be sufficient to drive it away. If the Dragon Turtle could be kept away long enough, the adventuring party had the resources to get the ship up on a nearby beach using a combination of magical items, spells, and good old-fashioned dwarven engineering. A repair operation could then be attempted. However, the beach was populated by a group of lazy humanoids which might or might not object to their beach being used for such a purpose. Recently, the humanoids had begun training again after years of sloth. It was unknown what might have prompted this.

Here a coincidence occurred which led us to believe that Moradin himself might have led these adventurers to us. They produced the exact piece needed to repair our ship and make it seaworthy again - a replica of the main drive shaft. It was produced by a one-armed, blind artisan in a far-away land who somehow knew the dwarven secret of hardened stone worked by dripping water. He had dedicated his life to creating this piece, and it was perfect. Such a coincidence could not be aught but the work of The Soul Forger himself. We began listening with renewed respect and the keenest interest to our companions.

We consulted with Luether, who consulted with the will of Clangeddin. Luether was convinced that Clangeddin's will be that we wait to act until the next morning at 9 AM. The adventuring party agreed to attempt the salvage operation then. While some members wanted to engage with the Dragon Turtle, saner heads pointed out that the time to do that would not be while attempting a salvage mission of this importance. Finally, the group agreed to do their best to block the Dragon Turtle out of the lagoon until the operation was complete.

Some of the adventurers, accompanied by Morrett, requested the assistance of the Sphinx in the area, but the fickle creature refused, offering a few useful items in exchange for a percentage of the Dragon Turtle's treasure. We dwarves had learned the hard way that the lure of the Dragon Turtle's treasure was a false beacon, tempting us from our important mission of recovering the gem, and I had to remind the members of the expedition several times that we would not be so foolish again. The treasure, if it could be recovered, was for the adventurers alone.

Scouts informed us that the Dragon Turtle left the lagoon during the night, and we prepared for the block. However, well before the appointed hour of 9 AM, the Dragon Turtle reappeared, evidently heavily damaged from some other altercation. We positioned ourselves for a possible offensive up on balconies overlooking the lagoon and beach area. For its part, the Dragon Turtle emerged up onto the beach clearly intent upon destroying the humanoids and especially their leader, who was brandishing a Trident of unknown power. While their leader spouted lies and pleaded for our assistance, several members of both parties looked eager to engage the weakened Dragon Turtle. I consulted quickly with Luether again, who confirmed his strong belief that the time for our action had not yet come. With some reluctance, we held our ground.

Ultimately, the Dragon Turtle died of its wounds up on the beach,and the adventurers employed alchemy to gather important components for potions. Some unknown individuals had apparently tracked the Dragon Turtle back to the lagoon to ensure its demise, and consulted with the adventurers before taking off with a significant portion of the Dragon Turtle's treasure. The humanoids were dead as well, the result of years of manipulating such a great beast using the powerful Trident, and eventually losing that control due to the Dragon Turtle's ever-growing stature.

For our part, we began the salvage operation at 9 AM as was right. The ship was repaired and made seaworthy again due to the efforts of both parties, and we thanked the adventurers for their assistance. Furthermore, they agreed to keep the secrets of our vessel, as such knowledge might be dangerous in the wrong hands. One of the dwarven members of their party wanted to accompany us back to the Wall Kingdom, as he suspected that the nearby clan might be the remains of the expedition sent out during the "scalding summer". He requested that we stop by the clan on our way, and we agreed to the small detour in order to gather a proper message for our King.

Using a combination of methods, we now journey back to our King, the gem safe in our holds. It will take some time, but we are patient. We look forward to seeing our families again, the feasts and rejoicing that will surely come with the return of the gem, and the renewed efforts of the Kingdom under the gem's more gentle gaze. If we have been but a small part of Moradin's plan, then it has been our honor to be so.

Respectfully submitted, Grogan Icevein (Kathryn Snead, with quoted material provided by Edwin Anderson)

Note on Accuracy: Kathryn said, "I do not remember who played what role in most of the greater party - please fill in the blanks and sort out the question marks. Also, please check the story for errors - I have no notes, and my memory is notoriously bad. Thanks!" Corrections/additions are welcome!

Note on the Summary: No attempt has yet been made to summarize the defense of Bloop Bloop, except Kathryn noted that Sarah had a lot of fun playing a whale, and she got a real kick out of being a sentient coral.

Notes of thanks: Alan and Rhonda (and family) were excellent hosts, and Edwin, Chris, and Chrissy did a great job running the game.

Addendum from D.T. Chappell: "I have what I think is a correction based on my playing one of "team evil" who went to the lagoon. Kathryn said:

> Ultimately, the Dragon Turtle died of its wounds up on the beach,and the
> adventurers employed alchemy to gather important components for potions.
> Some unknown individuals had apparently tracked the Dragon Turtle back to
> the lagoon to ensure its demise, and consulted with the adventurers before
> taking off with a significant portion of the Dragon Turtle's treasure. The
> humanoids were dead as well, the result of years of manipulating such a
> great beast using the powerful Trident, and eventually losing that control
> due to the Dragon Turtle's ever-growing stature.

If the "unknown individuals" she mentions are the evil undersea humanoids from "team evil," then we did *not* consult with anyone (except each other) before taking part of the DT's treasure. We just went over and grabbed it on the way out. I am dubious whether the dwarves or Blades would even know that the aquatic humanoids had taken any of the treasure.

For the record (all OOC), the two evil aquatic humanoids took some high quality (likely magic) spears, bandolier-type belt-harnesses (I guess they may have been from sahuagin), and some gold-type treasure." --DTC