In the morning the party woke up, refreshed from a full night’s rest. Hepolita was eating a sparse breakfast when she remembered the strange contraption she had found when they had been in Happy Jack’s tent. It cast out projectiles like a crossbow bolt but needed no sudden reloading. It could shoot up to six times before it was empty and she didn’t want to waste the projectiles.
Instead, she wondered and asked the dwarven artisan, Thordin Lightforge, if he could make more for her as well as projectiles. He took a look at the weapon and his eyes went wide. He smiled and agreed to hold on to it to study and replicate. They ended up striking a deal where he would discount Hepolita’s weapon by half if he could sell the ones he engineered from studying the original.
The rest of the group also stayed indoors. Aleera and Kaladrax were still a bit tired from the trip to the Oasis and back. Kariss wanted to find out more information about the city and so did Milo. They asked Thordin a series of questions about the city and the people that lived there. He was reticent but after some questioning about life in Drakenforge and persuasion they got the truth out of him.
He explained that the leader of their outpost was Bromdhar Thornshield. He was the regent of Drakenforge, sent from Iron Mountain to manage their assets on the island. His youngest brother had recently arrived from the mainland to learn under him. He let the party know that they had enslaved the Aarakocra and many Lizard people to do the mining and menial work for the dwarves.
His eyes teared up as he spoke. It was shameful, he said, for a dwarf to leave the hard work of mining the rock to another. Dwarves always mined their raw materials, it brought honor and respect for the end result. He cursed the day he got too old to mine his own materials but he still wanted to tinker and build. He still wanted to contribute.
The dwarves held the slaves in the Skyroost. A large barracks of slave quarters watched over by a contingent of Orcs at all times. The other shameful act of the dwarves was the acceptance of mercenary help. Dwarves always protected their own. A dwarf that could not swing and axe or hammer over their heads to defend his property was no real dwarf at all.
There was a time, he continued, when the dwarves all worked together to mine to rock and protect their lands. Brothers worked side by side to bring up treasure from the thick grasp of stone. They all protected their lands with their own hands and weapons, no use of outside help. Now, the dwarves were on the side of Malthazar. He had come, promising protection from the Curse of Ash. Drakenforge was curse free since they had allied themselves with the former magistrate of King’s Crest.
The party reeled at the news that Malthazar had been hiding in Drakenforge the entire time. He had bought the dwarven power structure and made himself a nice hidy-hole here. They asked if there were any other dwarves that felt the power structure was slipping. He answered that he didn’t know but he knew of some that were traditionalist and refused to abandon their posts. The General of the Wall Defense was one. Storbar Wallcracker, was a complete asshole but he took his job seriously and believed that Dwarves should handle their own problems. However, he didn’t know if what was happening would be enough to make him turn his back on the current leader. He was fiercely loyal.
The party mulled this over as Hepolita and Thordin examined the weapon she had handed him and he began taking notes of all the interesting things he observed about it. Aleera went off to the side and focused on Elior’s Deck to figure out what moves they would take. She closed her eyes and thought of the problem and asked how they could solve it in time to save the people still left alive on the island.
She drew three cards. The first was of an ornate golden hourglass with the last bit of sand running out. The second card depicted a real human heart in all it’s bloody glory. The final card was the most terrifying. It was of a formless shadow with glowing red eyes. She looked up after the cards were revealed and let the party know that time was running out. They were on a knife’s edge of saving the city or letting crumble into nothing by ashes.
They went to bed that night full of worry and a restlessness brought on by the ticking clock on their mission. Although, they might be closer than they thought. There was only one known way that could cure the Curse of Ash and that was the panacea. They thought Malthazar might have a stash of the cure to make good on his promise to protect the dwarven lands from the curse.
Although Aleera, Kariss and Kaladrax went to bed, the same could not be said for Hepolita and Milo. They were anxious about their chances in the city and resolved to sneak out under the cover of darkness to explore the lands and find more information for the party. Leaving the exhausted three to rest, they stuck to the shadows as they left the store and wove their way through the dangerous, dark streets of Drakenforge.