After camping out in a cramped, blood-soaked, very hot single room "house" (more like a hut) the party continued investigating the mining camp. They decided to hit up the Shardpit garrison, with Moxie (Liz) and Hawkeye (Josh) scouting ahead to see if it was clear. The doors to the garrison were open, and they could see something moving about inside in the morning light. Moxie tried to get closer while Hawkeye went back for the rest of the gang, and on the return trip Randy's character knocked over some crates, causing one of the warped hounds to investigate. Unfortunately, Moxie was a bit too close and she was the first thing it saw.
The encounter was pretty brutal, with a level 2 elite, some normal level 2's and a quartet of warped hounds to round it all out (600 XP). Most of the fighting occured in the gate, so there wasn't a lot of room and Randy ended up getting gang-raped by powerful strikes and dog bites. Though the XP budget was high, this encounter shouldn't have been as hard as it was since the monsters had Defenses of 15 or less (and the elite had an AC of 14). No, the real culprit here was shitty rolls on both sides of the screen. There was a string of bad luck for me where I didn't roll anything higher than a 6, and brutes are already suffering for attack bonuses. I threw in the warped hounds hoping that they could teleport into key locations and grant the guards and hunter combat advantage, but the party refused to move out of the gatehouse (to their benefit).
Further investigation of the garrison had them hewing their way through more warped guards, a few warped Tharashk hunters, and even the Tharashk patriarch before discovering a +1 byeshk scimitar. True adventurers, they even scrounged up the leftovers out of the pantry for a few days of rations. In the last wing of the garrison barracks they found out the source of the problem; a planar tear connected to Xoriat (Far Realm) that was bleeding warping energy into the natural world. While Beth's character tried to seal it using Arcana, various forms of fell taints slipped out and attacked. It took them quite awhile as Beth was only able to succeed when she had her ferret roll for her. I'm not kidding; when Beth rolled she couldn't get a single 9 on the die, but if she put it in the ferret's paws and let it drop, it worked every time.
After sealing the rift they rested up in the kitchen since it only had one door and some tables to prop against it, they head over to the House Tharashk enclave. They rummaged through personnel files--which were mostly complaints from miners about various illnesses and symptoms--and found a logbook with entries pertaining to a man named Obed from the small fishing town of Greyshore who'd apparently showed up prior to the incident hoping to purchase any relics found in the mine. Hawkeye had heard of the place, it was poverty-stricken and almost never received visitors because it had nothing to offer anyone except a meager existence.
Further exploration had them face off with a few more hunters, an insane dwarf artificer and his chisel-wielding assistants, and sealing a second planar tear. This was a more lucrative run, as they found hundreds of gold pieces worth of unfinished and finished dragonshards, gemcutting kits in case they wanted to try their hands and improving the value of the small horde, a Khyber dragonshard, and a tangler (which Randy isn't so sure he trusts). Oh, and they found a dried mucus trail leading down into the mining quarry, which I'm sure will not result in anything bad, no siree.