Scales of War
The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge
Chapter 3: The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge
THOUGH WE ARE MERCENARIES, only a precious few have honesty enough to admit it. Whether we sell ourselves for coin, for honor, or ideals, we all have a price whose continued payment leads us inevitably to our end. But when that end comes, will you admit to your balance sheet? Or will you lie when you claim that the blood on your hands was spilled for just cause, not simply your hunger for glory?
The heroes of the Second Wind find themselves targeted by a group of street toughs seeking the mysterious brass key they obtained at the end of the previous chapter, Siege of Bordrin’s Watch. Through their would-be assailants, they uncover the person responsible for the attack — a dark creeper named Skuld, recently promoted in Sarshan’s hierarchy after a former creeper, Modra by name, was disgraced.
The heroes learn that Skuld has connections to an arms-running operation operating out of a poorhouse known as the Happy Beggar. Joining forces with a half-elf ranger named Reniss, whose twin sister Jenna (a member of the ill-fated Company of Wolves) was slain by Skuld, the party discovers a network of secret caverns beneath the Beggar, the front for a weapons-running operation that extends from the Shadowfell to Overlook by way of a pair of ancient magic portals. When the dark creeper flees to the Shadowfell, the heroes give chase.
Transported to the Shadowfell, the heroes make their way to the Umbraforge—an isolated military enclave that grows ever larger in its preparations for war. Foundries, forges, mercenary camps, and slave pens stand between a dark tower and a volcanic rift venting a river of lava and shadow. In addition to arms running, Sarshan sells mercenaries and creatures bred for war—horrid mutants created in an arcane foundry fuelled by the raw power of the magma shadow rift.
Within the foundry, the Second Wind eliminates Skuld and her followers, assisted by the renegade Modra, who reveals a secret tunnel to gain access to the tower. As the heroes infiltrate Sarshan’s inner sanctum, they face off against his house guards and allies before slaying Thannu, Captain of Sarshan’s guard, and retrieving the paired brass key from his corpse that will allow them to return home. Then a massive tremor generated by the magma shadow rift shakes the tower, allowing the party to flee back to the Shadowfell gate. As Sarshan’s foundry is leveled by the destructive forces of shadow and fire, the Second Wind escapes back to the world, though Sarshan himself has eluded the party once again, leaving behind more mysteries to be solved in future adventures…