In one of the many narrow, zigzagging streets of Port Cullis, there are a series of squeaks. They are not coming from a mouse, but oddly enough they are emanating from a swinging sign suspended over an arched doorway that looks very much like a mousehole. In fact, the sign reads “The Mousehole”, and, even more oddly, the warm aroma of herbal teas wafts almost continually out of the round windows.
If one were to peek inside, one might get a glimpse of one of the more well-known adventuring bands in the tri-state area comprising Brinn, Port Cullis, and Corsail. It just so happens that they are currently negotiating over breakfast with the tavern/tea-house owner Zoey about a trip to the local marshlands to investigate a missing shipment of exotic herbs. And so the adventure begins…
Venturing out to the marshy bit of shoreline east of Port Cullis, the party came across the farm in question. Deserted and filthy, it was apparent that bullywugs had turned this place over. A helpful druid informed them that the local bullywugs were becoming increasingly bold in their moves against outlying settlements. The party spread out to deal with these meddling creatures.
The druid’s exceptional speed and agility distracted the bullywugs out in the open while the rest entered the farmhouse, which had been lit on fire while they were stealthing around in the undergrowth. Not one to let arson go unpunished, the avenger cleaved one of the bullywugs leaving the house in twain. The series of javelin wounds given in reply swayed him from engaging the remaining 2 arsonists; instead he gave chase to the quarterstaff-wielding leader-type. The summoned mud elemental was dispatched in similar gory fashion, but it seemed that was where Avandra’s luck ran out for him and was transferred across the way to a bullywug locked in combat with the druid.
Rushing to the cove where the staff-bullywug was fireballing from, the party tried to swarm his defences. Mud, centipedes, and people flew everywhere, but the party eventually brought the bullywugs down. Unfortunately, the house could not be saved, but thanks to quick relaying and firefighting, most of the herbs from the basement were saved.
Heading back into town, the party returned the bags of herbs to Zoey, who could finally get around to brewing that latest flavour. Concerned about the activity of the local monsters, however, she sent them to Lucius Bale, the local governor, to report their findings.
Lucius does not like this turn of events one bit. His pet parakeet Frosty seems indifferent as it bobs around on its perch. He invites the party to scout out the forest inbetween the triangle of roads that link Port Cullis, Brinn, & Corsail, suspecting that any new monsters in the region are avoiding being seen near the regular patrols and merchant caravans. “Should be an easy few hundred gold pieces, eh?” He twirls his musketeer moustache as the party leaves.
The party patrolled most of the next day, finding little of interest; but near sundown they encountered the ruins of a tower that is guarded by several orcs, a goblin, and a giant scorpion. The selfless druid again volunteered her services as a distraction as the party set up an ambush. Pretending to be a wounded but succulent wild boar, the druid successfully drew out the orcs into the open to get slaughtered by the party. Unfortunately, the more cowardly goblin and the clueless scorpion were nowhere to be seen.
Investigating the tower ground floor, it was apparent that something strange had happened here: the floor is covered in (cooled) molten iron that has rusted for years, maybe decades, and there is a small hole in the very centre of the pool. There is also a trapdoor, which the fighter is keen to investigate. The party finds a disused bookshelf with something on the very top of it – the alchemical journal of one Alumus Faestus.
Unfortunately the party is too engaged in the journal to notice that the fighter has thrown a sunrod down the trapdoor and stooped down to investigate. A hail of javelins, handaxes, and crossbow bolts later, and the party has dragged the unconscious goliath out of the staircase. Suitably more cautious, they advanced down the stairs a second time but with the goliath using a large orc as a hu—I mean orc shield.
In the confines of what turns out to be the kitchen, the battle rages, with people flying everywhere (literally), and two goblin sharpshooters almost getting away across the next room which appears to be a barracks. The one they leave (Kargor) alive quickly tells them all he knows about the raiding party of orcs that is investigating this dungeon. Led by Morkaan, they have travelled anywhere up to 1,500 miles, but what for, who can say? Kargor turns out to be a mercenary from Hillcrag just hired as muscle.
The new orc prisoner is much less amenable to interrogation, so the party ventures down into the depths of the next level. It seems to be the dorm level, since there are two bedrooms. The bedrooms, however, are still occupied by their long-dead inhabitants. Thankfully the ghosts don’t seem to be openly hostile. A gentle inquiry reveals that they are bound to this plane because their laboratory work was never completed since they were vaporised by the nightmare storms 40 years ago. They seem to see promise in the orcs down the hall who are somehow lightning-touched, and they don’t want the adventurers to meddle with whatever it is they are doing.
The head alchemist puts this very strongly to them when he appears, drawn to his journal that is currently being carried by the paladin/cleric.