We join our adventurers consulting with Harold in the sewers beneath Durham Falls. Harold just received a report indicating that the true Lady Arti and Lord Joseph are alive and being held captive in Al-Qadim, the capital of the borderlands where the factory which will produce mechanized monsters is also located.
Critical Solutions press Harold for more information about Sarkoth, he explains that he only learned of Sarkoth after he arrived at Durham Falls. Apparently Sarkoth is an arch-mage who worships Goeguva, also known as “The Rough One”. He too is looking for the power of the shards of Jondaar and was last heard of heading to the borderlands.
Harold explains that the party needs to find a easy into the borderlands, find the factory, rescue Lady Arti and Lord Joseph, and shut down the factory for good. He describes two paths by which he believes they might gain admittance: either sneak in disguised as a lord or lady with servants seeking to trade, or sneak across the protected border overnight. In the end the party decides to go in disguise, with Drahcir Brüzenslag as a lord, Kaen Brüzenslag as his body guard, and the rest of the party as slaves. To assist, Harold updates the party’s map, provides them with costumes, a carriage with horses, and 1,000 gold to assist with bribes and other supplies. After explaining the rules for slaves, the Heralds of Jondaar wish our companions a fond farewell as they set out to rescue the lord and lady.
The first three days and nights pass without incident as Critical Solutions pass from grasslands into the desert. During the fourth day they arrive at the border. The guards who approach the carriage are barbarically clothed. Kaen Brüzenslag attempts to bluff their way through announcing the passage of “Lord” Drahcir Brüzenslag. Unfortunately the guards are unimpressed and look to cause trouble. Fortunately Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to bribe the guards for 50 GP.
On their way to the capital, the following night, Cram sees torches approaching during his watch. He wakes up Kaen Brüzenslag who wakes up Drahcir Brüzenslag in turn. The torches turn out to be a group of guards. They recommended that he not let his “slaves” walk about freely at night. Drahcir Brüzenslag gives the guards a token 10GP to send them on their way. They encounter no more guards on their way to the capital.
When they arrive at the gate to the capital, Critical Solutions find a city filled with sand colored stone and towers topped by minarets. There is a long line of other nobles waiting to get into the city under a portcullis. In the half-hour waiting to get to the front of the line, our adventurers notice the other parties giving the guards small bags of gold in exchange for quick cursory inspections of their caravans. When they get to the gate, Drahcir Brüzenslag explains to the guards that he has misplaced his papers and he is willing to pay a generous replacement fee. He gives the guards 200GP and they pass the party through the gate.
The party looks about the city and takes a room at the Red Thorn Inn for the somewhat reasonable rate of 100GP a night. In the room they find one king-sized bed and four stone slabs. The adventurers waste no time in probing the city for information.
By listening in to various conversations and making friends with groups of slaves, Critical Solutions hear that there is a large amount of smoke coming from the North, someone is buying up large quantities of scrap metal, labourers are having trouble finding work despite production ramping up, and machines will soon be taking over all the jobs since people are outdated. The members pretending to be slaves return to the hotel when curfew begins, while Drahcir Brüzenslag and Kaen Brüzenslag seek more information. They discover that the factory they seek is on the North-West side of the city. The party the rendezvous at the inn and rest for the night.
The following day they explore further and discover that parts of the city are being blocked off for construction of some sort of underground tunnel. One commoner tells the party that there is a warehouse hiding a tunnel entrance to the factory. He agrees to show them for 40GP, and for 70GP he won’t tell anyone else. Critical Solutions agree to pay him the later fee and proceed towards their goal.
At the warehouse, Veryl attempts to find a secondary entrance to no avail, so our intrepid adventurers burst through the front door. They find an open warehouse with large archways and catwalks overhead. The floor has deep rivulets of liquid hot magma flowing towards the southern wall. Along the southern wall there are three large shafts, each with a large cart. Filling the room are a number of goblins and hobgoblins. They appear to be led by a fiery-skinned muscular man with flaming hair and spotted horns. As our adventurers engage their enemies, one of the goblins triggers an alarm. The front doors slammed short a short time later. Drahcir Brüzenslag, who was near the doors at the time, hears the noise of pursues at the other side. As soon as the fight has ended, Critical Solutions are forced to attempt to use one of the carts to proceed deeper towards the factory. Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to hotwire one of the carts and, as it slides forward, he grabs a map to the rail system to help guide them on their way.
From the map, Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to determine that Critical Solutions want to head to the forge via the assembly line. He quickly realizes that the cart is gaining speed and there are no breaks, so it will take all his concentration to maintain control. The cart rails lead the part along with strange machinery hanging overhead and magma flowing below. As they speed along, carts of hobgoblins pull up along side attacking as they go. Fortunately the party is able to hold them off while Drahcir Brüzenslag guides the cart to the assembly line.
At the end, the cart slides upward to fix in place in the floor. The assembly line has a rolling belt manned by humanoid robots. In the centre of the room there stands a squat, brass-skinned humanoid. Its head and shoulders are a blaze with a mane of fire, while heat ripples in the air nearby. Next to it stands a thin, lanky wolf with reddish-brown fur, white claws, and burning, fiery red eyes. Our adventurers spring into action and quickly dispatch both the fiends and the mechanized workers. To one side of the room, they find a closet with nothing of interest.
The other side leads to a sorting room of some sort, which passes into the forge. There they find more mechanical workers with a moving platform in the ground. As they pass through, destroying the mechanical workers, the whole factory begins to shake. They mount the platform, when a knocking rings out at the door. They ignore the knocking and push forward, riding the platform through the factory.
At the other end, the platform rises up into a stone platform surrounded by magma. 50 feet above a walkway extends above the room. On the walkway stands a figure in a red robe with pointy ears, gold eyes, scales as skin from the chest down, and a tattoo on his right cheek. Critical Solutions is seeing Sarkoth, the arch mage who has been causing all the trouble. Cram is able to see that the tattoo is the head of a dragon and Kaen Brüzenslag detects the evil aura emanating from Sarkoth.
Sarkoth explains to the party that Lady Arti and Lord Joseph are dead. He killed them after Lord Joseph gave him the information he sought. Sarkoth has big plans for Durham Falls, and he reveals that the doppelgänger of Lady Arti will be revealed for her true self soon now that the original has died. At that point he reveals that he has one of the shards. It glows red in his hands as he explains that he used it to power the whole factory. Now that the master work of this factory is complete, Sarkoth will let the factory collapse upon itself.
At that moment a man in full-plate armor enters on the walkway and tells Sarkoth that “the device” is ready. Cram and Kina Carnesîr recognize the man as their father and call out in frustration and anger. Arturo Griffen gives little notice of them as he jest urges to Sarkoth. Sarkoth then pronounces that he will recover the shard Critical Solutions has from heir corpses. With that, he and Arturo leave out one end of the walkway and a large creature rises out of the magma. The beast looks like a living, mobile bonfire, tongues of flame reaching out in search of burning our adventurers. The combat is tense as our heroes tackle the beast. It seems barely phased by their attacks. Kina Carnesîr enlarges Veryl, but the creature is relentless. As Cram, Kaen Brüzenslag, and Veryl begin to apply pressure to their foe, it circumvents them and attacks Drahcir Brüzenslag and Kina Carnesîr. Kina Carnesîr is knocked unconscious and just in the nick of time Drahcir Brüzenslag is able to fire magic missiles into its fiery maw. The fire elemental becomes extinguished and the factory begins to shake violently.
Knowing they have little time before they are engulfed in wreckage, the party climb to the walkway and chase after Sarkoth. What they find is a room with a console which was recently activated. Across the room are two large mechanical arms. When they activate the console, the space between the arms shimmers to life and opens a portal to a distant location. The location on the other side if full of fire. After a moment it shimmers and a new location is revealed. It flickers again to reveal a clearing about half a day from Durham Falls. Critical Solutions jump through the portal, and when they turn around they find that it has disappeared. They hurry towards Durham Falls in hopes of foiling Sarkoth ’s plans.