The Night Before
With a riddle to follow the party got ready for the adventure that tomorrow will bring. Not wanting to go through the woods again, they got out lady Rena’s old maps and looked for an alternative route.
What they found was that several of the older maps had a trail marked on them, called the ‘Jagged Pass’, which went around the mountain passed the tower of Cinder. It would take them over the woods, rather than through it. With destination in mind and a plan to get to it, they spent the rest of the evening getting supplies and suitable winter gear.
The Jagged Path
With time not on their side, they choose not to stop in on Belethorn or the fire keeper. Instead they made straight for the path, finding it deserving of it’s name. The trail was a slender path at great height, making it not for the feint of heart. It was also a constant rising and falling, making parts of it a scramble.
Still they made it across and found it a convenient way to skirt around the northern farmlands and the wood. Taking a short rest, they then smelt the most foul odour of rot. Yet with a cursory look around they could not see anything on the path and there was no immediate over hang or shelf below them.
Curious but unable to find the source they cautiously carried on. The path wound on up and soon they were atop the mountain range, starting to plunge up and down the crests and peaks in huge snow drifts. However as they travelled on along, the wind picked up and started a snow storm.
Trapped amidst a flurry of snow and having missed the warning signs from before, they found themselves almost at an ambush by goblins. The foul creatures had a tunnel in the mountain range and with the snow blotted out in the mist of the storm, they came out to attack.
It was a hard pressed battle, but the main goblin fighters were felled and the others broke in fear. Weary, they pressed on to clear away from the goblin tunnels and other to hook peak.
They spent a night in the cold, at the base of hook peak, waiting for the light of a new day. The fire had to be sunk into a pit and a big barricade of snow erected to stop the goblins from finding them. Daeron who was significant hurt from the previous fight was allowed a full nights rest, leaving watch to Berwin and Durin.
The precautions they took stopped the goblins from descending down on them, and they had chance to rest before morning. Raising ahead of the sun, they furiously looked around to see where they needed to be. Sadly finding nothing, first light came and Daeron just had to do what came to him.
Throwing the glass beads on out, a magic took hold of them and they fell just as they needed to. Seemingly striking against surface that were not there, bouncing up steps of air and then smashing, one by one the beads shattered and their fragments came to make a tangible stairway in the light.
From there they found an interesting secret. The open face of hook peak did in fact have a path laid into it, in perceivable from down below. Following this on up, they got to the top that came to a dead end. It was Durins dwarven eyes that got them through, as he sighed a worked stone that when pressed in caused a large section of the wall to swing inwardly as a secret door.
The door opened up, not to some musty tomb or lost fortress, but instead to the new decayed though clearly lavish interior of what was once a lordly retreat. Tapestries lined the wall and the remains of finely carved wooden furniture filled out the spacious interior.
Daeron made a point to inspect the interior and the tapestries and murals in particular. It was easily identified as belongings to great Fram, who it would seem was a true King of the people. A scion of men, he is seen to receive both praise from Elves and Dwarves, whose great leaders are depicted alongside him and not as adversaries.
However the immediately chambers of the retreat were a façade, for Durwin found yet more secret openings, revealing yet more chambers. A private study with dusty tombs was found, along with a private bed chamber, that had left over jewellery that once belonged to Fram’s wife Athaca.
Beyond this yet more was found, this time beyond was a great wooden door. Due to the complexity of the bindings upon it, Daeron took hours to undo the mechanism and when he did it was broken. Yet the reward was well worth it. For beyond was the private treasure trove of Fram. Not that of Framsburg and the wealthy which belonged to the dynasty, but instead the items that Fram took particular interest in and showed somewhat that nearly every rules does indeed have some greed.
Much of the items were impossible to remove, but those that could be were taken. Beyond this there was only one last chamber to find, and no matter how well it was hidden, Durin found all. Beyond lay a mausoleum where it was found that great Fram, whose body was believed to be buried in Marbelain, is indeed not. Instead his actual resting place is within his private retreat and sanctuary.
With his armour and sword left behind. The heroes looked over what were some true relics of the second age. No doubt the sword that slayed Scatha would be a mighty weapon indeed, however these items belonged to Fram and as such his lineage. Out of respect, none of it was touched.
The Return Home
On the way back, having left the retreat behind. The heroes once again went past the place that had the smell. This time the change of perspective made it all the more obvious. Where they rested was in fact in front of a cave, but one whose entrance had been covered off in a rock slide and the smell was coming from within. A small opening could be crawled through. For fear of getting trapped, only Berwin and Durin went in, leaving Daeron on the outside should the worse happen.
Inside it became obvious that the smell was that of a bear, one who had died and was now nicely rotting and festering. Beyond it was a pile of bones, the meals it had over the years. Picking on through it was found that the bear had been supping on goblin, however there was also the remains of a man.
Just the one, his clothing was found that greatly shredded, he also left behind a satchel. With basic supplies the other thing of note was writing supplies. Several parchments were found in the bag, but only one that had been written on. However the ink vial had been smashed in the attack and had gone over the page, only the following was readable:
I have ________ the town for 14 days now. _____________ or so hunters leave the town each day, I count that most ____________ near the river or make the __________ the grass lands around _________ or west _____________ Only one seems to go near the _________ estimates put the strength ______ Cerulean guard at ___________________ However ____________________ defensive ______________ means that __________________ will succeed unless ___ numbers ______________________ though that there is a _________ goes near the tower of cinder, ______ the ’Jagged ___________ whispering trail. It was _____________ of the old maps in the ________ I shall inspect it, as ___ accounts show that it is ____________________ a armoured contingent. ________ it may ________ to get a small ________________ to seize the fire _____________ can react.
With this in their possession, they head on back. They have news of goblins in the hills to report and this letter. It was going to be an interesting year.