Welcome in Saruun Khel
12 Nightal, 1479 DR
The next day was spent on recupuration and rebuilding, as well. Our foray into the Keep has taxed our party, and while rebuilding wasn't relaxing, it was at least something else than dungeoneering.
I helped out by directing, bullying slackers and standing guard. The latter mostly during the brief service Gründahl kept in the reconsecrated temple. As a result, I can't tell you the details about that but the dwarf told me it had went very well. I guessed he was a better orator than I'd given him credit for.
In the strangely organic way this sometimes happens, our party seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that we would go into Saruun Khel, the city in the Thunderspire Mountain, and try to find the kidnapped villagers. Late in the afternoon we departed, after having declined the offer of Valtruun to join us. We work better on our own, without bumbling "wizards" tagging along. At nightfall we struck up camp near the crossroads between Sembia and Cormyr.
13 Nightal, 1479 DR
Our directions seemed to have been faulty, as it took us a bit longer to reach the Mountain than Valtruun said we would. Ah well, the weather was good enough. There was not a lot of traffic on the road, so the peddler we encountered earned himself a mention in this tale by sheer existance. It sure isn't because of the goods he sold, as he tried to sell us crap, orange crap and more crap. Eowan and Lilsy were entertained for quite some time before having to admit the merchant was a disaster.
Shortly thereafter we turned right and walked on a dusty trail, named the "Avenue of Glory" according to our armchair guide. Small houses and farms dotted the countryside. Sure that we had been misled I asked a farmer for directions. He was very helpful after he had been calmed down a bit by Grüdahl. Apparently he had never seen a tiefling and my mere presence made his day, his week and probably his year. Having ensured him free rounds at the bar for some time to come I felt pretty good, especially since we seemed to be on the right track. He hadn't seen any war party come along, but I guessed the city had more entry ways.
We continued our trek and passed through the Minotaur Gate, into the tunnels of the mountain. Immediately the wait of the earth descended upon my shoulders, while my dwarven friend cheered up immensely, as did Lilsy. (She is the kind of person that is happy just for seeing new things.)
We traveled for a while before we encountered a halfling who tried to pass himself off as a friend of Lilsy's. Why was a bit unclear until we spotted a quintet of goblins chasing the halfling. I noticed that they all wore tattoos on their heads: a circle with a crescent moon lying on top of it. They ran away once they saw we had gathered around the halfling.
he halfling introduced himself as Rendil Halfwit, errr, Halfmoon. He didn't really explain why he was chased by the goblins (he called them Bloodreavers!), but he was very grateful so it must've been bad.
The rest of the evening was spent pleasantly, as we were invited by Rendil to the inn of his niece, Erra. There we were treated to a free (and grandiose) meal. Over the course of the evening we assembled a picture of the situation in Saruun Khel. It seemed to be a shady city (literally and figuratively), led by a group of magic users called the Mages of Saruun. There is at least one criminal present, an enormous ogre called Brug. He was supposed to protect Erra and Rendil, but basically he was just a big bully with a fondness for beer and a penchant for mistreating women. The latter I deducted from the total lack of waitresses when visited the inn later in the evening.