Lord Helsweut thinks he rules Avadall Township. He can be excused the delusion, as Baron Folwyn granted him title and lands there. A number of other local rulers find themselves laboring under the delusion that the Baron’s land grants allow them to rule. And why not!
A shadowy figure, the Lord of the Star Vault (a he calls himself) has taken up residence in the area. More cunning than a bandit leader, he has informed four local communities that they must pay him a tribute, or suffer. No one has ever seen him, but he has claimed responsibility for the disappearances of two local nobles’ spouses, and he just captured Lord Helsweut’s favorite minstrel, Gelbritch Vance (rumored to be Helsweut’s bastard son.)
No one knows how he manages to kidnap nobility from their secure homes, but they have learned to fear him, and tribute is flowing. It looks bad for Baron Folwyn, who is annoyed at this threat.
The Baron assigned his not inconsiderable spy and scholar network to the task, and they unearthed a crisp and brittle map that indicates something called the “Star Vault” is an ancient dwarven temple to Lunestra in the Foskell Hills. That matches with what the Baron’s spies could find out about where local lords were to bring the tribute.
Well, he’s asking for it, this self-styled Lord of the Star Vault. Time to give it to him. The Baron asked the Guilder Council to send a diplomatic expedition to use steel and violence to teach this upstart his place—a grave. In exchange, he offers those who participate a fine steed by way of gratitude, and he forgoes the local salvage tax. However, he does want the goods that were given to the Lord of the Star Vault returned. The rest? Thanks for services rendered. As long as the Lord of the Star Vault dies…
Mokthres 20, 1230
After following a guide for hours over the rough terrain, they came to the place where tribute was left, maybe 100 meters from the arch carved into the cliff. Their guide left, and they approached the entry. Tory noted that someone in good boots stopped about 7 meters from the arch, for something, while everyone else noted what a fabulous spot for an ambush they had entered.
Grimly marching ahead to the unguarded door, they were not surprised when skeletons erupted from the loose soil. They dispatched the skeletons, holding the choke point of the entry to the Star Vault. Not only were they swarmed by skeletons of humans, they also broke an owlbear skeleton before it could dig all the way out.
Breathless but unharmed, surrounded by the litter of shattered bone, they trod into the Star Vault itself.They quickly ran afoul of strange pale boulders that Tory recognized as something he called “moon rocks.” These amorphous creatures mocked them in a strange language and flung stones until Rook slaughtered them. However, they were spotted from across the cave by more moon rocks, who jumped on puffballs that let out a shrieking whine and alerted everyone to their presence.
Dozens of moon rocks swarmed at them, but they were slowed by Rothchilde’s webbing and picked off by Pansy and Tory’s range weapons as Rook gleefully slit more of them open. When Rothchilde burned his own web off with squealing moon rocks inside, the rest retreated back down into their dark pit.
The invaders admired the chips of stone that glowed when exposed to sound, forming constellations overhead. They also admired the massive 3 meter tall statue of the dwarven aspect of Lunestra that dominated the room. Overwhelmed by the beauty, Landru swore his faithfulness to Lunestra from now on, leaving an offering of a single silver coin; a metal sacred to the moon.
Moving along in their search for the Lord of the Star Vault, they confronted a strange construct with 4 shields that spoke with them briefly until Tory leveled a heavy crossbow at it; motivated, it sprang into action only to be hewn down by Landru and Belstaag Bob.
Tramping over the remains, the invaders entered a last antechamber, with doors of clear dwarven make and artistry leading deeper. Wary, they investigated carefully, and found the lair of a Morglian Clubber. Rotchilde lit the room clearly with his golden sphere, and they spotted it hanging in ambush in the center of the ceiling; a crossbow quarrel, javelin, and sorcerous bolt settled the clubber before it could spring at them.
They entered the audience chamber of the former temple to Lunestra, hushed in the presence of the luminous aspects of the god and the magnificent throne for the ruler of this place.
Continuing down a back hall, they attacked a massive guard wolf and swiftly murdered it before it could raise the alarm. Then as they explored, a robed figure sprinted out, looking to escape. Rook pursued, and flung her sword at its retreating back, bringing the escapee down. Belstaag Bob accommodated with the killing stroke as he pursued.
The Lord of the Star Vault was a Gelbrian Masker! Now a dead masker.
As they checked out the living quarters behind the audience chamber, they found a Kudjell Deep Slaver’s room, and the imprisoned minstrel. Freeing him, and noting the location of the tribute the locals paid to the masker, they investigated a bit further to find the masker’s office.
Tory expertly sprung the locks and enriched the group with the monster’s ill-gotten gains, and Rothchilde realized a Shadowplayer was plaguing his steps. His golden sphere sent it shrieking through the wall, and Tory gathered up the enchanted objects, coins, ledger of local extortion, and other treasures as the party retreated back to open air.
All that remained was dividing up the treasure, satisfying the Baron’s demands, and receiving their rewards. Each enjoyed a steed worth about 20 sina, trained light warhorses or ponies as appropriate from quality breeding stock.
The party celebrated their victory with delicious Clubber Wings harvested and prepared by the redoubtable boggie cook Pansy.