Smugs is not a werewolf. He is not a were-anything, in fact. He was bitten by one of the farm hounds when he drunkenly trespassed on their property. This fact is met with part relief, part disappointment from the heroes. But with the night’s harrowing events behind them, the Unflankables head to the wagon garage to talk to the halfling contractor they hired. He has blueprinted the second floor of the wagon and suggests larger wheels to keep the mobile anomaly from tipping over. For him and his crew to complete the modifications, he will need a few days and 300 gold pieces.
The heroes decide to go on a three day bender, but quickly realize that there are still occupants of their wagon. Dramatically face-palming in front of the construction crew, they remove Bernard and the Drow assassin from the wagon. Darksex tosses Bernard 30 gold pieces and sends him on his way as the heroes feign a warm farewell. The assassin is taken to the Ravenswood Penitentiary where he is turned over to Fyvo Puleesman, the guard on duty. The heroes hint at a reward and Puleesman shrugs, scribbling an IOU to give to the treasurer. At the town hall, the heroes meet up with Barnabus, who tells them that the other assassins were hired by Wickhaven. He offers the heroes 500 gold pieces for services rendered. The heroes exude some more greed from their pores and Barnabus offers to double their payment. On one condition. The heroes must take the mysterious gem away from the city and destroy it. Barnabus warns them that destroying the gem will release the elemental inside. He suggests that they take it to Kelburn’s Canyon, an abandoned quarry.
The heroes question the state of the quarry and Barnabus tells them the tragedy of the landslide that killed a dwarven miner named Kelburn. The quarry has been abandoned for years and should be the perfect place to release the elemental. The heroes leave the town hall and decide to ride their oxen to the quarry. They spend a few minutes whistling to call the animals, but they receive only looks from passersby. They head back to the wagon garage and retrieve their mounts, face-palming dramatically throughout the process. They send Gale off to have dinner with Jack Carver with instructions to make note of how a man with a pumpkin-head eats his food. Off into the sunset they ride…slightly to the left of the sunset to be precise, but it still looks pretty neat.
The ride continues for several miles, but eventually they come upon the quarry. The quarry could perhaps have made a good colosseum, as it is circular in nature and descends in tiers every ten feet or so. The heroes debate simply throwing the gem in and leaving, but decide that destroying it in a huge explosion would be far cooler. Ryndir ties two of his explosive bars to the gem and hands it to Ulfgar. The dwarf winds up and hurls the gem down into the stony gulch. It lands near the bottom and moments later explodes in a ball of flame. The flames quickly expand momentarily before dwindling down to a humanoid form made entirely of fire. The elemental has been released.
There is no time for high fives, however, as the entire quarry begins to shake. A bellowing voice echoes through the air demanding to know who has dared enter his quarry. The voice then vows to destroy them all and the heroes are thrown forward into the rocky valley by the massive stone wall that has risen around the entire quarry. Now trapped in the canyon, the heroes see that at the very bottom tier, a dwarf made completely out of stone has appeared. They fan out, taking cover behind some of the larger rocks. Luckily for them, the elemental attacks the first thing it sees…Kelburn, the stone dwarf.
Ryndir takes a quick poll. Should the heroes all light up a quick blunt before battle? Or perhaps firing a bag of Dink’s dank kush into the elemental would give Kelburn and the fiery being a crippling high allowing the heroes to defeat them. He decides on the latter plan and fires, first the Hydra-Kush, then the Trogdo-delight. Both land near the elemental, but not close enough to ignite.
Kelburn gives another echoing roar. Up from the stones rise a flock of cockatrices that begin to spread out towards each of the adventurers. Azaghal immediately lashes out at the nearest creature and quickly discovers why the cockatrice is so dangerous. Receiving a few pecks, he feels his feet and legs begin to turn to stone. Ryndir and Smugs soon find themselves in a similar pickle as the cockatrices peck away at them. Ulfgar runs to help Azaghal and uses his hammer to destroy a few toes of the foul creatures. Pineroot moves unnoticed around the canyon and seizes an opportunity to dive onto an unsuspecting cockatrice. He forfeits his style points, unfortunately, when he trips on the ledge of the outcropping. Luckily, he still manages to strike his target.
Darksex warms up his blastin’ hands and begins firing off bursts of eldritch magic in the direction of various cockatrices. While Smugs smites one of his avian attackers, Darksex heads towards Ryndir, who is more stone than elf at this point. Instead of helping, the warlock dwarf blindly scores a direct hit on his elven companion. Meanwhile, Azaghal has pummeled one of the cockatrices into the dirt. His legs still immobile, he attempts to throw his scimitar at the other nearby creature. The sword falls harmlessly to the ground, but Ulfgar delivers a bone-jarring blow knocking the leathery beast back into the tiefling’s reach. Together the two dispatch the scaly bastard. Pineroot lets the adrenaline flow through his veins, dodging, parrying, retaliating against the two cockatrices before him. It isn’t long before they fall beneath the gnome’s sword.
Darksex tells the immobilized Ryndir to watch out, then laughs and proves he can be just as deadly to his enemies, turning the cockatrice in front of him into a scorch-mark on the ground. Ryndir fights off his petrification just enough to fire an arrow point blank into the head of the other horrible creature at his feet. The only remaining cockatrice hops around Smugs who seems to be at the creature’s mercy. During this entire debacle, Kelburn and the elemental have been locked in combat – stone and fire clashing in a tense, bright scene.
What will happen to our favorite adventurers? Can they survive the raging battle between rock and flame? Can they fight off the curse of the cockatrice or will they be forced to open a statue garden? Only time will tell.