A week’s hike through the Monjols takes The Group to a large warcamp situated in a saddle between two high peaks. The camp is filled with thousands of kobolds, all preparing for war. The kobold herald “Duke” leads The Group to Meshega’s tent, to speak with the supposedly messianic hobgoblin. Meshega explains that his forces are in the late stages of a full takeover of the Monjol range and all territories within. Only a few key obstacles stand in their way of total control over the region. These obstacles are a little asymmetric in their resolution, and are not suited for conventional forces. Meshega wants The Group to take care of these obstacles, and in return he will reward them handsomely with a three-city hold, castle and all. The first of the obstacles is a large bridge, the Dekyn Gap. Meshega’s forces are holding a siege against a nearby hold and have almost taken it over, but reinforcements are on the way. If the bridge in the Dekyn Gap is taken out, the reinforcements will have to go around the deep chasm, delaying them by months.
The problem is that the bridge is no rickety matter of ropes and rotting wood. The Dekyn Gap is spanned by a rather massive stone bridge a hundred yards long and a few yards wide with square columns twenty feet wide supporting it, and was constructed by the Dwarves of this region many thousands of years ago. Needless to say, The Group is at a loss of how they’re going to sabotage such a large construction, especially with the time frame of less than a week before the reinforcements come. And that doesn’t even account for the militia forces Caleb Iodi has positioned on the bridge to secure it for the convoy.
The Group decides to pay the warcamp’s witch doctor for some sage advice. The kobold crone goes on and on about preordained events, visions, and ancient secrets. But out of all the nonsense, The Group determines that there is some kind of ancient sleeping beast and the base columns of the bridge, deep in the Underdark. This is ominous news, and The group is doubtful that such a venture is wise or at all in their best interests. Nonetheless, they pay the bridge a visit just to check it out. At the chasm they discover the Arqar steps, a set of narrow and ancient steps carved into the side of the indeterminably deep canyon. After a few minutes of heated discussion, the party of brave adventurers decide that this might just be a bit much. Anyways, there’s a good amount of gold waiting for them in Ironvale.
So The Group sets out for Ironvale, arriving to find the small trade town in slightly better condition than it was before, and with a smaller militia presence. They speak with Avi and in addition to the large sum of gold they receive for their efforts, the Salty Stone (an inn in town) extends a permanent offer of free room and board for life to The Group. Avi mentions that if The Group is interested, there is more work to be done in Hawkcrest, and with that the party takes off for Hawkcrest on a Razgauthen-chartered Roc.
On arrival, they find the city in turmoil. They are attacked by magical motes of energy outside the city, but eventually make their way to the town square where all of this seems to be centered. There, they find a robed man and a handful of Clockwork Horrors. It’s nothing they haven’t dealt with before, and they make short work of the mechanized monsters. After slaying the constructs and enchanter, a halfling named Liam approaches The Group, before the chaos of the battle has a chance to die down in the city. Liam is their Razgauthen contact in Hawkcrest, and the priest Apak has worked with him before. He speaks to the party very briefly, and seems concerned that he will be seen with the party.
In his hurried words, the party gathers that there is dangerous cult activity in Hawkcrest. Liam is too well known and can’t investigate the matter personally; he needs The Group’s anonymity to investigate the matter. He mentions that wizards, witches, and all manner of occult personalities are gathering in the underworld of Hawkcrest, inspired by the works of the wizard who created these Clockwork Horrors. He says that The Group can find more information at The Anah Athon, and without further explanation he disappears into the crowd.
What is The Anah Athon? Why is Liam so concerned about secrecy and discretion? Obviously there is more to this situation than is immediately apparent.