When we last left the intrepid adventurers, they were hot on the tail of an evil wizard, and had butchered an entire tribe of goblins.
The players and characters were;
Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Wardancer
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger
Needing to get to an unknown location within the Barren Hills for the next stage of the adventure, the players travelled back to Kemperbad. Along the way, they finally realised they would never make any real money by trading, and finally unloaded the timber they had been carrying in their hold since they left Altdorf many moons previous. Amy, as chief pilot of the boat, had not really improved her skill at controlling it (unfortunately, she remained the best qualified…). This would come to a real head, as the journey from Kemperbad to the Barren Hills was all upstream and would involve rapids.
Needless to say, the boat received some real knocks on this journey which would require some serious repairs on the way back.
Further up the river, there was a twin waterfall which, to be negotiated, required travelling up a side channel comprising of twenty separate locks. As each lock required its own boathandling check, Amy was a bit dubious about continuing.
Fortunately, the players were flagged down by two washerwomen, who invited them back to their village, Unterbaum, just a short trip up through a tunnel next to the falls.
Unterbaum turned out to be a really tiny village deep in the forest (by this time, the players were far from real civilisation), but the people were welcoming enough, eagerly trying to get the players to buy turnips (they refused, but when one of them suggested they could buy rations here, they ended up with an entire cart full of turnips…).
They were introduced to the village elder and the village druid. While Alan quizzed the two of them on the whereabouts of a mysterious noblewoman who they said had passed through recently, the rest of the players were trying to work out why Alan was not talking career options with the druid, as he had said repeatedly that this was the direction he wanted to go in (as it turned out, he had changed his aspirations to Targeteer).
The druid explained that the woman had insisted on going to the Devil’s Bowl, but suggested they did not follow as it was a very dangerous place. Seeing they could not be dissuaded, he offered to go with them, as he needed some herbs that could only be found in that area.
They spent the night at Unterbaum, with Ed and James both enjoying the village’s cider so much, they were carrying a keg each away with them in the morning.
The druid explained that (much to Amy’s relief) they could not take their boat upstream as it was too shallow, but the village had canoes. After a brief argument about who was going to share which canoe, they were all set to start a journey that would take three days.
On the third day, as night began to fall, they reached the Devil’s Bowl, a water-filled crater surrounded by a stone circle. As they set up camp, an eerie blue mist formed over the crater and they watched as a ghostly woman approached, begging for their help. The ghost turned and floated away, leaving the players with few choices but to follow.
She took them to a hidden cave, where they quickly found her grave. As they debated the best way to lay the bones to rest (which encompassed suggestions ranging from taking them back to Kemperbad and a Temple of Morr, to just throwing them in the river), a group of Skaven appeared. They demanded to know where a stone was (the players having no clue at that point what it was they were trying to find), but negotiations quickly broke down when Amy let loose a scream and attacked.
Though the leader of the Skaven managed to last two entire rounds against Amy, the rats were soon defeated. The players poked around the cave, and found another chamber that had been blocked off by a cave-in. They could hear scratching on the other side, and so as James and Ed started to remove stones, the rest prepared to fight more Skaven.
They were therefore a little surprised when an animated skeleton clawed its way out and attacked – even more so, when it thanked them for destroying it (it had been part of the same expedition as the ghostly woman, and they all wanted a bit of peace in death). More skeletons clawed their way out, but the players were able to deal with them one by one.
When the fighting stopped and quiet returned, the players poked around in the chamber beyond the cave-in. It was there they found a fair bit of gold, along with a very familiar looking metal bar – identical to those James was still wearing round his neck.
Realising they had found the last key required to open the secret area in the observatory tower, the players left with all haste to get back to their boat for the return journey north.
Note: The evil wizard, Etelka, was very much doing her own thing at this point and was working to a timeline printed in the adventure – the players, through sheer bad/good luck managed to miss her throughout the adventure, and she remains at large.