Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:02 pm Post subject: Part 19 - The Hand of Rao
Isilme recognizes the name, the name of something from her many studies of extra-planar beings, the name of a demon. She shifts her form into a large winged angelic being, based on Maerthorlear's true form.
"Hold Dragon," she cries. "I am here by the will of Elistraee. Why do you claim a name of such unadulterated evil!?"
The dragon watches as she changes, holding steady with a massive flapping of its wings that buffets the area, kicking up a cloud of dirt. It then roars in rage and hatred when Isilme "reveals" herself as an angel. It roars in an unknown language, but one you've heard before, or like something you've heard before. It is a language of the Abyss!
"Damnation!" says Manny, as he recognizes the tongue, "It's a servant of Iggy! From bad to worse!"
"Something's wrong," Thorgrim says. To Delaim and the Dwarves, he speaks. "Isilme communes with the God of All Metallic Dragons Himself, but this dragon may be beyond her power. Delaim, hold the fort. Send your scouts to the ridge and where you will, to watch for goblins. Remember we are still undiscovered, so avoid shouts or blowing of horns until and if."
"If the dragon attacks, seek shelter. Let us handle it."
Thorgrim looks at his party. "I can't provide Protection for everybody. Or even anybody other than myself, if I'm to effectively attack. Gotrek, you're with me. Elrae, we could use your language and spellpower. Berenn, we could...damn, we'd better bring everybody." He looks at the newcomers. "If any wish to remain, there are roles here to be filled. The continuation of our Quest not least among them, should we fail."
"Elemental," Thorgrim points at the earthen monstrosity. "You will do as I command. Follow me as closely as you can, and obey my orders."
[DM OOC: there was a lot of talk here ooc about what to do, and I'll skip it. Plus, there were some things that had to get done a couple times, with miscommunications and such. In the end, Isilme decided to use her amulet, the one which she found in Markessa's chambers in the Pomarj and that she learned would summon some kind of angelic being. In fact, she learned from the priests of Rao that it had potential to summon Incarnum Himself!]
Isilme takes out her amulet, knowing that they are not prepared for this encounter, and reads the summoning power written upon it.....
Suddenly the skies seem to open up, as a hole of brightest light appears as if from nowhere. From the white void a voice is heard...
"AGOTH!" it cries. "I AM COME TO BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE CAPTIVES AND RELEASE FROM DARKNESS FOR THE PRISONERS. "
The dragon stops, looking up to the opening in the heavens. If anyone thought to ask, you would all learn that the voice spoke in every native language simultaneously.
[Isilme OOC: I called in the Heavy Calvary. Didn't want to hear certain players crying about how it's my fault someone died. I carried this amulet for years, and figured this was as good a time as any to use it!]
Emyn looks up, completely in awe of the majesty before him. It is as though he is transfixed by what he sees to the point where the dragon is practically forgotten. "Trithereon, thank you for your aid," he says in a quiet prayer.
The dragon tries to flee, but the power of the angelic being summoned by Isilme cannot be denied. For all its great power, both of the demon Agoth as well as the fully possessed Copper Dragon, Incarnum is the Hand of Rao Himself.
Sir Godwynn silently mouths a prayer to Rao, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
[DM OOC: Forgive my unabashed stealing of Isaiah quotes; they seemed appropriate!]
As the dragon wailed, twisting and turning violently in an attempt to pull away from the angel's unconquerable power, a long black filament began to stream from its mouth, like a thread, pulled from a loom. As it pulled free, it coalesced into a terrifying form, beyond description in its terribleness. Miri notes the fish floating to the surface of the lake, now boiling at the sheer horror of the thing!
Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in Her shape how lovely: and pined his loss as the power of Incarnum washed over it." It could not help but weep the forelorn cry of the damned.
“Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep,
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.”
And just as suddenly, the ground opens, and into the abyss was thrown the beast, with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.
"Farewell happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells: Hail, horrors, hail.”
And the ground closed upon it and the terror was gone.
[sorry, could not help throwing in some Milton!]
Seeing the depth of Godwynn's faith, Emyn walks over and puts his hand on the man's shoulder. A single look from Emyn shows the man his great respect and joy in such a moment. He stays with him and joins in prayer.
The dragon falls down, lightly, landing upon the ledge by fortress. It seems completely exhausted. The angel speaks again, at least it seems speech. Nobody can actually see any lips or even a face, and again, it speaks in all languages.
"ARISE, SHINE, FOR YOUR LIGHT HAS COME, AND THE GLORY OF RAO RISES UPON YOU."
The dragon seems instantly invigorated, and it rises onto its haunches, though it bows its head reverently before the righteous majesty of Incarnum.
Noot is having second thoughts about having no religion. He watches in awe. Gotrek places Goreblade on forehead. He hopes, someday, Clangeddin will honor him so........
Isilme returns, flys over and lands next to the dragon. Before she can do anything, The Voice of Incarnum echoes across the valley:
"See now, the Lord, Rao Almighty, is about to take from Chendle and Mitrik both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water,
the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder,
the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.
I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them.
People will oppress each other-- man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable.
A man will seize one of his brothers at his father's home, and say, "You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!"
But in that day he will cry out, "I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people."
Veluna staggers, Furyondy is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.
The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Reltarma; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.
Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.
Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.
Rao takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.
Rao enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: "It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?" declares the Lord, Rao Almighty.
Rao says, "The women of Vol are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
Therefore He will bring sores on the heads of the women of Vol; Rao will make their scalps bald."
In that day Rao will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,
the earrings and bracelets and veils,
the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms,
the signet rings and nose rings,
the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses
and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.
Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle.
The gates of Vol will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of RaoAlmighty and spurned His word.
Therefore Rao's anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
He lifts up a banner in the distant islands, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.
Rao Almighty will lash them with a whip, as when he struck down Vecna at the rock of Oerth;
and he will raise his Crook over the waters.
In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck.
"Woe to Iuz, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.
'Are not my commanders all kings?' he says.
'Has not Molag fared like Narisban? Is not Chendel like Arztin, and Critwall like Shanfarel?
As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Niole and Galgul--
shall I not deal with Mitrik and her images as I dealt with Reltarma and her idols?' "
When the Lord has finished all his work he will say, "I will punish the tyrant of Iuz for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.
For he says: " 'By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings.
As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.' "
Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood!
Therefore, the Lord, Rao Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame.
The Light of Knowledge will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and his briers.
The terror of his armies and unholy fiends it will completely destroy, as when a sick man wastes away.
And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down."
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, Rao. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.
Surely Rao is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, Rao, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
In that day you will say: "Give thanks to Rao, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to Rao, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Vol, for great is the Holy One of Oerth among you."
[DM OOC: So, that's the end of the bible quoting! Again, forgive me the blatant ripping off of scripture, but how can I really beat all that? But, it does tailor nicely to the dawn of the Greyhawk Wars.]
With that, Incarnum disappears, fading away along with the last rays of light.
Posted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:03 am Post subject: Part 20 - Clonoc
"Great," laments Manny. "Nothing like being caught up in a God's War who care nothing for those it tramples between. Let's get this over with." Manny puts his stuff away and starts heading for Thorgrim's fortress.
"What do you suppose Rao has against Mitrik?" Thorgrim whispers to Gotrek. "Corruption in the priesthood? Was it not they who sent us on this quest?" Thorgrim shakes his head. "I need to consult with Isilme on this matter."
[DM OOC: Well, for the most part those quotes were supposed to ONLY do a few things:
1) Be fun to read!
2) Foreshadow the great war that is coming.
3) Give a new clue about the Crook of Rao.....
So no, Rao is not really upset with anyone, I don't think. But then again, I'm not a God. I'm just a lowly DM. But seriously, don't read into all of that too much. Mostly it's flavor. However, there are some important bits of info in there. We can discuss it in the Inn, if you want.]
The dragon looks around, then sees Isilme. "Forgive me," it says, "for many years have I been at the mercy of that foul demon. I could no longer resist its will, except to keep myself to these distant lands." The dragon bows its massive head, and Isilme sees true sadness in its eyes. "I am Clonoc, and if you were responsible for that, then I am forever in your debt."
Isilme bows and says "I am Isilme, Battledancer of Elistraee." She looks into his eyes and says "Be not sad, Clonoc, you are now free of a great evil. I am happy to accept your gratitude and number you among my friends. Is there anything you can tell us about what you have witnessed in these lands? We journey to the horn of Iggwilv. Do you need any help returning home? I would be happy to use any power at my disposal to assist you."
[DM OOC: Not a lot of time, so I'll summarize.]
Clonoc is very thankful. He then tells you his story....
Clonoc is a large, old, copper dragon. It uncovered an ancient site of Iggwilv's many years ago and unwittingly released the demon Agoth. After losing a duel of wills with the demon, Agoth possessed him. However, Clonoc was able to fight off the possession for many years, keeping the demon's attempts to control it at bay, at least partly.
Agoth desired to use the dragon to cause death and destruction throughout the lands, but Clonoc somehow maintained just enough control to keep the demon at bay. To Clonoc's great regret, the demon did succeed in forcing his actions, when they came across the occasional caravan. The dragon's innate desire for precious metals and such allowed just enough weakness to creep into its psyche for Agoath to take advantage and assert control, to the ruin of too many mountain folk.
After the destruction of the last caravan a few years ago, Clonoc managed to stay always in the high mountains. Over the years, the two battled continuously in a war of wills that never ended. Clonoc has not slept in a dozen years, as to do so could have left Agoth in complete control. Thus the utter exhaustion the dragon showed upon Agoth's banishment. It was only Clonoc's intense and natural hatred of the chromatic dragons that allowed Agoth to take full control earlier, when it spied Isilme as a White Dragon.
Now that he is freed, he would sleep. However, he will first see you to his lair. There you will be safe to rest, about a day's journey from Iggwilv's Horn.
[DM OOC: This is the dragon from the adventure "The Copper Raider," originally found in the first Greyhawk Boxed Set, published back about 1980 or so. I just tweaked it for use here. Good job with the result. Everyone gets 5K for this, and Isilme gets 10K, for her central role.]
Gotrek grunts. "Well done, lass!"
"Thanks Gotrek," she replies. "I didn't want to have to listen to Berenn whine for the next 100 years about how I brought a demon down upon you."
Emyn says to the dragon, "I am glad we could help you and - thank you in return for your kind invitation to your lair. Might you know more of what we could expect in the caverns?"
"Our new friend is weary," says Isilme quickly. "Let's get to the cave of the dragon and rest. We are almost to our goal, and with our new friend I doubt any will try to slow our progress. Soon we will reach the horn and find what the gods have in store for the Heroes of Hommlet."
He gives this all to you, freely, for having saved him. Of course, you can't probably carry it all.....]
"If we leave the silver and copper, can we carry the rest Thorgrim?" ask Berenn. Noot too is looking over the hoard, quickly appraising its total worth.
"None of you lifted a finger," says Isilme, anger creeping into her voice. "Your greed is monumental! Leave the dragon his bed of coins, gems, and jewels that he may rest easily. Did you not hear he has not slept fighting off this demon for YEARS to spare others its hate and avarice!"
Clonoc smiles. He then explains that this isn't his real lair, just where he has lived these last decades while under the influence of Agoth. He is going to return to his REAL lair, so you may take all of this. He is rather ashamed of having taken it in the first place!
[Isilme OOC: Well in that case....]
Isilme looks embarrassed and says "sorry" to the party.
"Actually, I was going to suggest something like that as well," says Manny. "And it is true none of us fought or had anything to do with freeing the dragon from his foe, but we had made preparations to do so. Would it have succeeded so well as Mistress Isilme's? Probably not, but we would have tried. The dragon deserves some just for having fought the insidious influence for so long and so well. I have to assume that some of this is likely from times when the demon had the upper hand and so he is embarrassed by it."
Manny then approaches Clonoc, addressing him directly. "Good Clonoc, the fact that there is not far more is testimony to how well you fought, and you clearly deserve some reward." He turns to the others. "We should leave him a goodly portion. There is no telling how well his real home has done in his extended absence, and he should have a base from which to grow."
Again, Clonoc will not take any of it. He will, however, give you directions to the Horn before heading for real lair.
Godwynn does give Clonoc his holy symbol of Rao. "A reminder of Who it was that freed you from bondage," he says, bowing deeply.
Clonoc is very pleased with that. "You will always be welcome," he says, bowing his great head in return. "If you should ever need help, you may call upon me. " He then tells the party the relative location of his true home. [DM OOC: don't worry where it is for now!]
The party spends the night in Clonoc's "lair", and for the first time in weeks they sleep an utterly peaceful and sound sleep.
Posted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:49 am Post subject: Part 21 - Avoiding trouble, for once!
Earthday, 20th of Reaping (582)
Skipping a day to get you to the dragon's lair and rest and then to be ready to move on. It's warmer, with clear skies. Temps about 40*, rising to about 60* in the late afternoon.
Plus the party took the time to Identify the magic items. Here's the list:
Oil of Acid Resistance (its use is pretty obvious)
Potion of Teleportation (drinker is teleported as spell to first place visualized)
Oil of Double Cross (When sprinkled on an enemy, it confuses the victim as the spell of the same name. Also, when applied to oneself, it causes anyone with an Intelligence of 10 or less to believe whatever the wearer says (no saving throw). The oil lasts for one turn.)
Oil of Permanent Disenchantment (Permanently disenchants any one magic item or effect, except for Artifacts of course!)
Potion of Healing
Elixer of Life
Scroll of Wizards (Wizards only: This scroll is blank and used to Identify magical effects. Hold it out and command it to identify any magical effect within 30', and the name of the spell/effect as well as its level of casting will appear on the scroll. Useable once/day.)
Shield Ring (warriors only: It grants a +1 to AC.
Yatil Wand of Zooming
Banner of Terror (used in battle, it causes fear in enemies, forcing morale checks when closing.)
Short sword of skewering (theives only: ignores magical AC bonuses and causes maximum backstab damage.)
After it is distributed, Gotrek, who has been strangely in awe of the dragon, finally approaches him. "Great Clonoc," he says, looking up at the dragon's majestic head. "May I touch your wondrous armor?"
Clonoc smiles, "Sure, knock yourself out!"
Gotrek passes his hands over the copper dragon scales. He grunts. "Master Clonoc. Besides the obvious differing colors of dragons, are ye all..built the same? Scales, and such?"
He taps Master Clonoc gently on the side. "Majestic, indeed." As Gotrek admires the dragon, on a purely professional level, he memorizes the structure of the scales. He looks for any vulnerable spots on the dragon. Just in case, we run across any evil dragons....
Isilme rises, refreshed and alert, and addresses the party. "Let's go. I would like to reach the horn as soon as possible." She looks to the dragon as Gotrek pulls away. "Friend Clonoc, where is this site of Iggwilv you discovered, and are any of the items here recovered from treasures of Iggwilv?"
"It is in the valley of the Horn of Iggwilv," Clonoc replies. "I investigated the area years ago, and there found the demon-relic, accidentally releasing Agoth's captured essence." He trails off, and you feel that he can't really help you with further info, or doesn't really want to think of it. However, he does tell you of two ancient fortresses full of orcs, and he shows them to you on the Azcral map.
He points out the best route to avoid them is to head SW from here. That will lead you to a cut between two shorter mountains, which should avoid orc patrols from both areas. You can then cross the valley and river, then follow another north-south valley right to the Horn of Iggwilv. He warns you, however, to not pass during the night. "Foul undead lurk in the ruins there, and the passage is to be avoided except during the light of day.
"This land is veritably crawling with danger, especially humanoids!" Thorgrim remarks. "Our earlier thought to 'clear' the lands of the Goblin Fortress must give way to a more methodical plan of eradication, methinks..."
Clonoc bids you farewell, though he also gives one last warning. The path to the Horn goes through a steep valley, nearly a gorge, with a lake in the middle. Upon the lake is the Giant's Isle, home to half-dozen evil giants.
Gotrek looks up. "Giants!" he spits fiercely. He then looks at Isilme, who does not fail to notice the battlerager's glare.
Isilme pats him on the back. "No more trickery, no more magic," she says reassuringly. "Our blades will drink deep the blood of giants friend Gotrek."
Gotrek smiles. "Ye are a true friend, Isilme!" he says quickly.
"Onward to giant island!" she says, and she walks out and starts walking in the direction instructed by Clonoc.
Before he leaves, Thorgrim makes sure to introduce Delaim and Clonoc to each other, so there is contact between the copper dragon and the Azcral Dwarves. After all, they're neighbors!
Clonoc bids farewell, flying off to the East, while the party follows Isilme to the south. That trail is long and uneventful the next day. You are walking an old road, left over from the days of Iggwilv. Towards dusk you have a view of the mountains towards which you are traveling.
The Horn of Iggwilv lies somewhere beyond these jagged peaks.
"Looks like we'll be putting our mountain-climbing gear to good use," Thorgrim says. "If not on those peaks, then the Horn itself."
Noot, who is in no need for something else to carry lets the treasure stay in common. He checks out his rope and other gear in preparation for a climb.
Isilme has stayed relatively quiet and reflective all day. She casts "fly" and "invisibility," then flies up and circles the area at altitude, making sure the surrounding area is secure and finding a place to lead the group for the evening that is adequately concealed.
Emyn says "let us try to avoid attention. Even if the way is clear, there could still be guardians from the horn about. "
Manny picked the Banner and now approaches the dwarven unit. He looks at them for a moment, “Ye have but newly come forth into the lands and have already been tried by worg-riders and dragon. Ye have been steadfast and true, and it seems to me that you should have a means to commemorate this. Thus, I present to you this banner. Long may it wave and show the strength of dwarven resolve.”
The dwarves accept the banner from Manny with many thanks. They itch to put it to use against the many humanoid foes you have encountered.
The party encamps for the night in a valley, hidden from sight. There are no trails except game trails in the area. Scouts keep a lookout, but nothing is encountered in the evening. There are signs of orc activity to the east and west, but they seem to stay away from this area. The night passes uneventfully, and the party can continue on in the morning.
Freeday, 21st of Reaping (582)
The dawn breaks with another chilly morning. Skies are partly cloudy, and those accustomed to mountains have a feeling that rain is coming.
"Smells like rain," says Miri.
The party moves through the two large hills, cutting straight to the south. Manny's birds scout around, and the way seems clear. There is no sign of life at all here. Once you reach the larger east/west valley, the area is devoid even of wildlife. No birdcalls sound, no animals chirp, nothing. For most, the silence is not even noticed, but for Berenn and Manny, it is totally unnatural. A small hill rises in the center of this valley, atop which can be seen a ruined castle.
"The lack of wildlife cannot be good," says Emyn. "Proof of the presence of the undead, even without Clonoc's words of warning. We should investigate this. If there is an undead presence, it should be cleansed if for no other reason than to give us a safe fallback position in case we need to exit the caves early. "
"We need to make our way to the horn," says Isilme. "I don't see the need to waste time and clear out an abandoned tower. If we need a fall back position, we have our own tower to throw up, that doesn't require clearing."
"To the Horn," says Miri, "though I will return with you here when we are done." It then occurs to her that she is creating quite a list of pledges to future adventure in these mountains.
The party skirts the ruined castle and heads across the valley with all haste. They travel along ancient roadways, completely overgrown by trees and brush.
Travel isn't necessarily easy, but it is not hard. No bushwacking is needed, but one must watch his step. There is a stream which runs north from the valley to the south, and it bends off the east, around the hill with the ruined castle. You make it quickly across the east-west valley and enter the valley leading south to the Horn of Iggwilv. Manny's birds bring back news shortly about a lake ahead with an island in the middle.
Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:16 am Post subject: Part 22 - Giant's Isle
[DM OOC: Now, I've done my best to retouch it with an island in the middle. Sorry if it looks a bit janky. Still, this is the view from the mountainside to the east and north of the lake. I put that island in it (no, the REAL lake does NOT have an island!) for the giant's island. However, all the other terrain is exactly as shown.]
The road goes around the lake on its left (western) side and continues south through that massive V-shaped steep valley. Iggwilv's Horn is somewhere further south, beyond that point. Judging from the map you looked at, you are now within maybe a dozen miles. There are huge jagged mountains all around, and especially to the southwest, rising thousands of feet ( 5-7K) above you.
Miri says, "Push on or deal with the giants? I say push on."
[DM OOC: I'm going to go out on a limb and say there is no way Gotrek will allow that.]
The party approaches stealthily and checks out the lake. From the shore of the lake, you see it's crystal clear and not very deep. However, it's certainly above the head of anyone trying to cross to the island. The lake acts as an ideal barrier, for the distance between the shore and the isle is about half a mile, and the crossers have no cover at all. Miri finds a huge skiff, large enough for a dozen people and hewn from tree trunks, tied up along the shore.
You can tell Isilme is just itching to fly off and wreak some havoc with her "elvish tricks". She looks at Gotrek and nods. "Gotrek this is your show. You decide how we cross, and how we attack. No tricks, no invisibility. My blade is yours. May it slake its thirst in the blood of giants." She draws morlather and salutes him.
PRAISE Clangeddin! Gotrek applies war face paint....
"What type of giants are we dealing with?" asks Emyn.
Gotrek doesn't know what type of giants they are. He's not an expert in them; he just hates them. However, based on the size of the paddles in the giant boat, the giants are probably about 20' tall or so. [DM OOC: Please, don't go meta-gaming the giant type from that now! You know I'll just make up a new type for you if you do that anyway!]
While watching, you see movement on the island. From a large cave atop the central crag, almost unseen in the shadows from the late afternoon sunlight, emerges a giant.
It looks like a stone giant, but much bigger. From here, it seems almost 25' tall!
Manny looks speculatively at it. "Too big to be a stone giant or even a mountain giant. Hmm, cloud giant? Right type of place and size, but they usually are a . . .little more . . civilized. Not likely storm, which is good. They'd be bad to tangle with. Not that cloud aren't. If they ARE cloud, they could be friendly." He muses.
"Clonoc told us the giants were evil," Thorgrim says. "I trust that he would know."
"I think Berenn and his water walking spell is the fastest way to get our team there, Gotrek," says Isilme. "If you want to rush in immediately. If you want to bring our entire army we need to wait for the full cover of darkness, and I need time to set my dragon turtle plan in action and see if it's favorable. Your choice, my powers are at your disposal."
"I think that idea," says Thorgrim. "It is best for getting us across in secret. Giants are accurate with their missile-fire. That boat could be sunk by rocks hundreds of yards before we reach shore. I don't see a practical way to bring the other Dwarves with us. I suppose an Elemental could help us to drain the lake, but the muck would make the island even more inaccessible than it stands now, methinks. One thing is certain: when we go, we need to conquer, with no chance of failure. I dislike being cornered. We need to take cover and send a scout, unless the spell-cost would be prohibitive."
"We should at least try to speak with them before killing them," says Emyn. "Does anyone have the ability to speak giantish?"
"I speak giantish," replies Isilme. "But clonoc said this was an island of evil Giants, so I trust he had dealings with them. Since when are we having discussions with everyone before battle? I didn't hear you suggesting we conversate with the goblins before battle to guage their feelings. Marriage has made you soft."
"I see no need for parlay," interjects Berenn. "We have been informed from what I would consider a reliable source that the giants are evil, so what exactly are we going to discuss? Maybe we can get them to agree not to throw rocks at us during the fight?", Berenn mutters in a sarcastic tone.
Isilme scouts the island, and returns to give the party an idea of the terrain.
The party waits until nightfall, then crosses the lake. Berenn casts Water Walk on half the group while the dwarves, Miri, Elrae, and Noot cross on the boat. The water walkers cross to the island from the other side, about 90 degrees away and just beyond the next "ridge." It's a two-pronged movement. Isilme flies overhead. Still works well. Thorgrim uses Silence on the boat to mask the sound, while everyone else is soundless Water Walking. No giants notice as you all cross over, as a strong wind picks up drastically, blowing 36mph from the west. That's from the right to left on this map. There only seems one entrance, the main cave, inside of which you now see light flickering.
Gilhak, the second in command of the Azcral dwarves, stays behind with half the dwarves, 25.
"I wish we would have left the dwarves behind," says Berenn quietly. "It is going to be difficult to climb this face without having 20 pairs of short legs with us. That is not meant to be offensive, but they are a liability in this terrain. I have my Rope of Climbing which will get us up in 50' increments. It will be a slow, but safe climb with the rope. I am not in favor of bringing the dwarves up the incline, they will slow us down. They should have been left on the shoreline."
The dwarves look a bit annoyed, overhearing Berenn, but they quickly reassure him that they are EXPERT mountaineers, though they don't have mountain climbing gear. However, they are relatively sure they can gain the bottom of the top cliff, that's about 4 contours down from the top, without a problem, either by the SE route, or right up the path. However, they believe only the "stealthy" should use the path. That's basically Berenn, Isilme, and Noot. Noot will head for the top top, and take a position there. You see smoke coming from the top, so there's at least a chimney there. He will hold position there and wait for you guys to do whatever you do. He then starts to expertly scale the side, quickly disappearing into the darkness above.
Isilme casts Farspeaker, handing out boxes so the three groups can keep in contact.
The dwarves are heading to the SE corner, just around the last ridge and top left of map, where they can start their ascent. Gotrek and Thorgrim head with them, along with Elrae and Miri. Noot's already heading to the top, actually above the cave. Isilme will join him there, flying up to the top. The rest traverse around to the front to enter that way, right at the base of the final cliff face (about 80' down from the top), using the stairs for the last ascent.
Isilme, Manny, and Noot find a large hole in the roof which looks like it was simply bashed in. The hole is about 5' wide, and from it a large billowing mass of smoke pours forth. It looks like there's a campfire inside, though it's more like a bonfire! The ground is about 40' down, but you can't tell with all the smoke.
Isilme listens carefully, but it's hard to say, as they have a very difficult dialect. However, what she puts together are that this is a giant "family." They didn't say anything important, just family talking stuff. [DM OOC: Sorry I didn't make up a bunch of dialogue between a mother and her sons, smacking one around for misbehaving, yelling at the others, etc.] She gets a couple names. A female voice says the names Gilim, Kyvyn, and Dude is yelled a couple times. She can't tell exactly where they are inside, but they seem pretty much right around the fire, somewhere.
Isilme waits until the dwarves are closer to use the wand of slow, right? When the dwarves reach the rear of the hill, Elrae begins to use his wand to Passwall into the cavern. It takes a few, but eventually the dwarves see a rough chamber about 40 square feet. It's a sleeping chamber, and the floor is full of furs and such. There's an opening in the far wall, and they see light through it and hear voices.
So, the way is open. The others are closing on the entrance, and have snuck up just outside. Berenn's already crept up with his Cloak of Elvenkind, and he sees the insides of the cave. Here's a map of the interior:
Not bothering with lighting. Just assume the two fires create enough light to illuminate the entire area. There are two giants that look like very big stone giants sitting around a fire in the front. A female giant is in the next area cooking, while a smaller giant, about normal stone giant size, is sitting crosslegged looking at the wall. Another large giant, bigger than the first two, is in the side chamber to the right, while a massive giant is at the far end. The chamber descends gradually, and has a steep slope down to the kitchen area. Nothing that affects movement or combat, but just so you know it goes downhill a bit. I also put the passwall at the far side, where Elrae broke through. The dwarves can pour in any time.
Berenn then goes back to tell the others, and he uses the Farspeaker boxes to tell everyone. You all can move at any moment, with Isilme will use here Wand of Slow on the two giants around the fire to start.
Thorgrim cast Strength, raising his score to 18-00 (+3/+6).
Sir Godwynn does detect evil.
Noot ties his rope off to a rock. This isn't a building, it's the top of a rocky crag. So there are plenty of tie-off points.
Elrae casts Stoneskin.
Isilme drinks her Potion of Heroic Action, gaining 21 hit points!
Gotrek grunts. Rotates his neck. He hears bones crack. The sound comforts him. He looks down at Goreblade. It is almost time. But it is taking too long. He grunts harder. He was but a babe, but he still recalls screams. From his Mother. The Giants. Killing all. He growls. Miri glances over at him. White spittle leaks down from Gotrek's beard. Gotrek's forearm muscles expand, as he grips Giant Goreblade. He shakes his head. More violently now. Out of control. He starts to sing. Miri follows suit.....
For some reason, images just don't seem to work right anymore. Either they don't show up at all, or they are too big and mess up the formatting of the screen. It's a combination of program changes, I think, like losing Picasa and having to switch to Google images. So, everything is going to be simple links now. You can click them to see the images. They aren't really important, but I used them, so I like to post them too. I think they add to the story, giving nice visual elements to go along with all the text. Hopefully, you do too.
Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:56 am Post subject: Part 23 - A Giant Fight!
Isilme uses her Wand of Slow. One of the giants seems to move more slowly, talking funny, and the other one laughs at him.
"What is wrong, Kyvyn," he says, pointing. "Dragon got your tongue?"
Before Kyvyn can reply, his eyes open wide as Berenn steps into the entrance and casts Holy Orb. The two giants are caught in the sudden expanding sphere, doing [38 and 40] to them, respectively.
At the other side of the cave, Thorgrim does the same thing, catching the large giant. It makes its save, only suffering .
Emyn will step in front of Berenn and go into full defensive stance (not parrying) to draw some attacks from the giants.
Then Noot and Manny will wait for the Holy Orbs and such to go off before climbing down, no sense in being caught in an AOE.
Sir Godwynn moves up too, taking a position in front of Berenn. He too will fight defensively, though obviously not as well as Emyn!
Elrae steps up behind Thorgrim and casts Sunfire, exploding a ball of fire around the giant. It takes  and roars in pain as its clothes ignite!
Gotrek and Miri charge forward, both attacking the surprised giant from behind. They each hit, Gotrek doing  and Miri doing .
The rest of the dwarves swarm in behind them, Delaim shouting commands and staying back with Thorgrim and Elrae for now. Four attack the large giant, with one hitting . One reaches the giantess in the kitchen, hitting her for , while two attack the smaller, sitting giant. It takes one hit .
That was a surprise round. The giants didn't have any actions. They were caught completely flat-footed. The two near Emyn and Sir Godwynn are both seated, as is the one in the kitchen. Of course, that means they still tower 6' taller than all of you! The dwarves swarmed in, and right now are in a long, strung-out line. They are attacking any giant within reach, fighting with abandon.
GIANT'S ISLE BATTLE Round 2:
Elrae casts Melf's Acid Arrow, hitting the large giant . Gotrek then hits it in the legs .
Realizing that he's not sure how to get safely 40' down and not fall into the fire and/or avoid being hit by giants, Noot looks around. "Maybe I didn't think that through correctly."
Miri slashes the giant  with Remorse. It is reeling by the many blows!
Sir Godwynn and Emyn hold their positions.
The giantess turns and swats one of the dwarves with what looks like a massive frying pan. It flies backwards, landing in the corner very still.
Thorgrim then casts Axe Storm of Clanggedin. [All dwarves with a RED halo are affected.]
The young giant stands and smacks one of the dwarves, knocking it back against the wall. The loud crack doesn't sound good, and he doesn't move.
The loud giant roars in rage, stomping on another dwarf which is flattened like a bug!
Berenn then summons a Flame Strike upon the nearest giant, and it is suddenly engulfed .
The large giant in the alcove grags a club, steps forward, and slams it down on another dwarf's head, which explodes in a red mist!
The two giants by the cave mouth stand. The one that Isilme slowed grabs the tree-trunk it was sitting on and throws it at Sir Godwynn, hitting him in the face . He is knocked backwards 10', and rolls down the path a bit. The other one moves up to Emyn and grabs at him, but Emyn avoids the giant with his Defensive Stance.
Isilme drops down through the smoke, using Maerthorlear to create Hope in all her allies within range. She is in the smoke, but she make her Con roll. She's fine for now....
Four dwarves attack the main giant, two hitting for [10 and . Gotrek then hits it again, chopping it down. The other dwarves swarm forward, attacking the other three giants. One is killed by an AoO by the larger giant, but the rest make it, attacking with axes. The smaller one is hit again . Another dwarf moves up and is hit by the giantess, knocking it backwards. Delaim moves up and checks him. He notes that he's alive, and he calls for aid!
The other dwarves attack the main giant, hitting the prone form a couple times and finishing it off. [That was a VERY tough giant, BTW!]
Sir Godwynn was knocked outside by a thrown stump. He's lying outside on the path, but not stunned or anything. I think you can see everyone else. Isilme is now shown with a normal yellow halo, to show she's actually INSIDE the structure. Noot and Manny are still atop it.
"GILLIM!" yells the giantess when she sees her mate fall. She looks around, seeing the blows being dealt to her youngest son. When you see her gaze, it is one of pure anger and hatred!
Gotrek looks around, and laughs at the Giant Matron. "Ye boy is DEAD. Come follow suit!"
Manny holds the rope, runs, and leaps below. Noot braces it, so that the rope swings and he lets himself go just as it clears the firepit. He does a flip, flies over a large log, and lands on his feet about 10' away from the firepit!
Noot stays where he is, watching best he can.
After Gotrek yells, the giantess looks at him with evil intent. She bounds over the three dwarves in her way, one of which hits her with an AoO . Two more attack her when she approaches Gotrek, one hitting . She then reaches out and grabs Gotrek, picking him up in the air. Her great grip does  as she squeezes the tough battlerager.
"Nothing to say now little man," she scoffs. Gotrek is caught, one arm pinned, and he fails to break free as he writhes this way and that, also unable to swing Goreblade in his present state.
"PRESS!" Thorgrim shouts. "Clanggedin, feed our fury!"
The dwarves all miss her with both their attacks. Thorgrim moves up and attacks, avoiding and AoO by the giantess with her pan, but missing as well. Miri however slashes her with Remorse for another .
Elrae casts Magic Missile, and the darts sing forth from his cittern, striking the giantess for .
Berenn moves back to Sir Godwynn and casts Cure Serious wounds, healing [+17]. With a quick nod, Sir Godwynn then stands and moves back up the steps.
The giant fails to hit Emyn. The other two hit dwarves, the larger one hitting and killing one with his club.
Delaim bandages up the one he dragged back, then gets ready to attack.
Isilme flies along the cave ceiling, attacking the giantess from behind with Maerthorlear. She slashes her in the back of the neck .
"Mother!" cry the two giants in the center. They then go berserk! Each swings with wild abandon, knocking dwarves flying left and right.
Gotrek growls in anger. He is...embarassed he cannot hit the Giantess, the Matron. He punches the Giantess with his left hand spiked gauntlets, hoping to get her release him, so he can strike with Goreblade. He looks down at Goreblade. "If ye be holding back some of the powers of Goreblade, Clangeddin, perhaps now would be a good time to unleash them!" He looks back at Giantess, and spits in her face.
"Come on Gotrek, quit playing around and kill this bitch!" cries Isilme as she gives herself over to the dance attacking the giantess relentlessly. She swings Maerthorlear, but her blow misses, trailing silver streaks through the air. [That was bad luck!]
Manny secures the rope to the log so Noot can slide/climb down. He does this while trying to stay low, unnoticed by the giants.
The giantess realizes that she is in a difficult place, and she hurls Gotrek at Elrae. Gotrek flies across the cave, slamming into Elrae. Elrae takes nothing (but loses a Stoneskin); however, he is knocked back 5' and falls down. Gotrek takes  and he too ends up on the ground, tangled up with Elrae. Elrae loses his concentration, and he fails to cast his next Magic Missle. He and Gotrek disentangle each other and both get up. Gotrek looks very angry!
The giantess, then backs off, turning to face to the right. Thorgrim hits her with Souldrinker as she backs away, doing . Miri misses as do all but one dwarf, which does . Isilme also clips her . [Good Attacks of Opportunity!]
Thorgrim steps up and swings again, clipping the giantess in the leg with Souldrinker .
Noot slides down the rope, ending up next to Manny.
Sir Godwynn steps up and swings his sword at the giant before him, but misses badly, nearly hitting Emyn.
Berenn ignites Bonefire and advances, careful to stay out of the giant's reach as he does.
The slowed giant moves up to attack, swinging at Sir Godwynn from his flank but misses, his club banging off a rock column sending shards flying.
The smaller giant kicks out at a dwarf, but he misses, the dwarf rolling under his leg and coming up behind him! Both dwarves hit it back [10 and 14].
Emyn fumbles and hits Sir Godwynn, except that he can never hurt a friend like this due to his Deck of Many Things card, so it's just a miss. See? I remember stuff!
The giant attacks Emyn again, but misses, due to Emyn's incredible defenses.
Miri steps up to attack the giantess, but as she approaches she is hit by the giantess's frying pan right on top of her head. There is a loud CRACK! and Miri crumbles like a rag doll. She takes  and she is knocked out!
With a roar, the larger of the two giants in the kitchen moves to aid his mother. He strides across the cavern, his great steps shaking loose stones from the ceiling as he moves. Delaim hits him as he goes by , as does another dwarf fighting the young giant , but he is undeterred. He moves all the up to Isilme and swings a mighty blow with his great club, but Isilme barely sees it coming and slips out of the way. [Missed by 1, and that was with the attack from behind!]
The giant stands astride the fallen log that they used for a seat, as Isilme spins around and floats backwards, away from it.
Delaim hits the giant again  and a dwarf moves up to attack, missing. Another dwarf attacks it, missing, while one goes after the giantess. She misses with an AoO, and the dwarf hits her .
The dwarves all get their extra attacks now. Thorgrim misses, but one of the dwarves hits . Delaim and another attack the larger of the giants, both hitting. Delaim does [7 while the other does 14.]
Emyn also hits with his second attack .
Isilme swings Maerthorlear, trailing a silver streak, and slashes the large giant in the face , splashing blood across the room.
[Berenn OOC: I just figured out how to get through the giant adventures ... all we need is about 300 to 400 dwarves to use as cannon fodder.]
[DM OOC: Dwarves are good at fighting giants! Now, who was whining incessantly about these "worthless dwarves?" ]
[Berenn OOC: I said they were a hindrance when we were trying to be stealthy, never said worthless. They do a real good job blocking giant blows with their faces and other parts of their bodies.]
Sir Godwynn fights defensively, attempting to parry any blows by the giant before him.
Elrae moves along the wall to his left, then casts Magic Missile at the giantess, hitting her for . The singing bolts hammer her back, and Thorgrim wades into her, driving Souldrinker deep into her belly [32!]. Her eyes roll back in her head and she topples over, falling forward and atop another of the dwarves , trapping him beneath her.
He groans that he's ok then adds, "Just get this big bitch off me!"
Emyn slashes the giant before him .
Isilme turns and hits the one behind her with another silver streak [20: BTW, I'm putting three of Maerthorlear's pluses to AC, giving her an AC of -10. This gives her a total of +8dam. Seemed good with giants, and she's using Silver Streaks too, so it works. If you want to change this for later actions, let me know.]
Gotrek charges across the chamber, attacking Dude (the young giant) which misses with an AoO as Gotrek charged. Gotrek slams Goreblade into the giant  spilling entrails everywhere. The giants reaches down to grabs its guts, weakly swatting Gotrek .
Delaim then moves away from the downed dwarf, calling again for aid as he charges the largest giant. He avoids an AoO, then plants his axe in the giant's knee . The other dwarves then attack, with two hitting the young giant [8 each, bringing it down finally!]
One charges into the big giant, again missing an AoO and then hitting it . One helps the pinned dwarf, while another checks on Miri, who is breathing, but knocked out.
Noot sneaks along the log, then hits the giant in the back of the knee. He smiles at the loud CRACK! as the giant cries in pain and drops to the ground [34!]. It collapses forward onto Sir Godwynn, who barely manages to get out of the way.
Berenn casts Sunbow, then sheathes Bonefire.
The giant swings at Emyn, but cannot seem to hit him. The one that Noot knocked rolls on its back and kicks Noot , knocking Noot backwards into the fire ! The last giant hits another dwarf, mashing it into almost nothing.
Elrae heads towards Thorgrim and assists on getting big momma off of the dwarf. He sheathes Snowfang.
Emyn taunts the giant before him, which presently slaps him aside with a swipe of a club . Emyn avoids being knocked by, and he strikes back hitting the giant .
Emyn's getting cold-hearted, Thorgrim thinks to himself. "You two dwarves! Attend!" he shouts to those nearest him. "Get this Giantess off, then gather the wounded." And the dead, the thought finishes in his mind.
Thorgrim grabs Miri and drags her 5 feet to the northwest. He briefly inspects her damage, casting Cure Medium Wounds, healing . She wakes up, holding her aching head.
Noot tumbles out of the fire, rolling around on the ground to put out the flames .
The prone giant gets up, smacking Sir Godwynn as it does and knocking the paladin across the room . Sir Godwynn gets up and attacks the giant between he and Emyn, missing.
Berenn pumps four arrows into the giant that just got up and hit Sir Godwynn [34.] It turns back and looks mad.
Gotrek is hit by the large giant , but he just ignores the blow and steps in close. He hits it with Goreblade . It stumbles backwards, and Delaim steps up, hitting it again and chopping a leg out from under it . As it drops to the ground, three dwarves rush to it and add their axes, slaying the beast.
Isilme flies down to the southern part of the cave, stabbing the giant fighting Emyn in the back of the neck and slaying it. It falls backwards, out of the cave, and Berenn barely leaps out of the way. He ends up on one knee next to it and outside. Emyn is not so lucky, with the giant landing on him  and pinning him beneath its massive bulk.
There is only one giant left, but it is sorely wounded. The next round, Isilme and Sir Godwynn slash it while Berenn pumps four more arrows into it, slaying it. The giants are all dead!
Noot, seeing the giants are all dispatched will dust himself off, back into the shadows and wait for further developments. He looks around, and in the back of the cavern you find an enormous treasure bin covered by a stone slab weighing half a ton. The Giants' fortune is suitably huge, worth 24,000 gp in uncut gems. They would fill a chest in Thorgrim's portable hole.
The dwarves gather up their wounded, which amounts to three of their kin. Another 6 were slain in the battle. However, the dwarves are in good spirits for it has been a generation since they have tasted such a battle. Delaim recommends bringing the rest of the dwarves to the island and camping overnight in the giant's cave. It is without doubt the safest place around, for nothing in the region likely passes this way. There is also ample supply of food, mostly fish and hanging meat, to furnish a decent meal.
Emyn says, "that was a good fight. Our Dwarven friends made a great difference and deserve honour. Let us search this island for treasure. Giants always have loot even if there is no magic. My share of the money will be gifted to the dwarves as thanks for their aid in battle. "
Isilme smiles at Gotrek and says "true and honorable battle! see, no elvish tricks as promised. "
Gotrek slaps Delaim on the back, and shouts loudly. "Well done, lads! Nothing beats the flow of Giant blood, upon a Dwarven Axe! Except, maybe, Gutshaker!" He laughs at this, and takes a long gulp of Gutshaker. He looks at the gathered dwarves. "Any of ye want some of this?"
The dwarves can't handle the Gutshaker; that's just the drink of Battleragers! However, Thorgrim has a keg of ale, which he is only too happy to break out this night.
Posted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:19 am Post subject: Part 23 - Valleys of the Horn
Starday, 22nd of Reaping (582)
In the morning the party continues its travels south. The mountains are indeed incredible, and the morning sun on the peaks leaves everyone breathless. The path south is not hard to follow, again an ancient road makes going easy along the valley floor. Though heavily wooded, you occasionally gain quick glimpses of the steep canyon walls to your right.
"I don't suppose it was supposed to look like it collapsed and there is a secret door around?" asks Berenn.
[DM OOC: In actuality, it's a WWI bunker! However, for us it's the ruins of a dwarven bunker, like a secret postern/sally port. It seems to have been destroyed centuries ago.]
"It would appear it is going to take quite an excavation to find out if this leads anywhere," says Berenn.
"Hello?" says Elrae. "Magic Wand." He holds it up and smirks. "But do we want to go exploring another dwarven ruin right now?" He glances at the dwarves, all of whom seem to be saying "Hell yes!" with their eyes. "No offense," he adds with a wry grin.
"I hate to be the person to point out AGAIN we need to make our way to the horn in haste," interjects Isilme, a slight hint of irritation creeping into her voice. "We don't have time to explore every item of interest we find as we travel the countryside."
Elrae pulls out his Wand of Earth, "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with magic wands and those who dig, and I am not going to get my hands dirty for nothing."
Miri asks, "Can anyone's Detect Magic check to see if there is any in here?"
Isilme pretends to cast detect magic. She walks around like she is sensing for magic then spins around facing the horn and starts shaking... "I detect GREAT magic...THERE." She points in the direction of the horn. "Now we can get the hell there before I age another hundred years?" She says, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Miri," says Manny, noticing the tall warrior's sour look, "this is a battle site from when Iggy assaulted the Dwarven Holds. It is extremely unlikely that Iggy's troops left anything of value to her here. And anything magical was valuable."
"I agree," add Berenn, "and we should continue onto the cave. If there is anything of value in here, it isn't going anywhere and we can check it out on our return."
"Then let's not waste any more time," replies Emyn. "We can always return here later, if need be. It does seem though that we should be prepared for magical fire given the rocks themselves in that bunker melted. Whatever caused that damage might still be alive in the Horn."
Gotrek grunts. "Yeah. How many times havecye told me we come back to something, but don't! This is a part of my Dwarvish History! Something monumental happened here. If ye be true friends, ye would wait the hour or two."
Gotrek shrugs. "If not, me and the dwarves will catch up with ye." He looks at Elrae. "Will ye stay?"
Isilme casts "fly," takes off a bit, then speaks to Gotrek. "Gotrek, you constantly put your passions above the fate of oerth. Frankly, I tire of it. Your actions are highly suspicious, perhaps you are an agent of Iuz."
Isilme flies off to scout the way ahead to the horn. She then casts "Invisibility".
"I'd say that Iggy attacked a side entrance and the dwarves collapsed the access tunnels to keep her forces out," says Manny, investigating the area. "They launched fire, probably dragon breath and fireballs, trying to burn through. The defensive blockage held. Assuming these were well-designed dwarven defenses, it would be a complete waste of time to assume we could easily dig through. If it was a defensive site that you put 50 years to, do you think you could dig through it in an hour?"
Watching Isilme and Gotrek, Manny plays peacemaker. "Yes, something monumental happened here. Iggy attacked the dwarves. As to friends; I hardly know you all. Unlike Miri there, I am not motivated by the desire for money. I am here to prevent Iggy and her associates from wrecking anymore of my world. You may do as you like, the dwarven defenses are certainly worthy of attention. I, however, wish to defeat her and her ugly son, in the here and now, not some distant time in the future when you will be available."
Thorgrim doesn't want to wait to see what Gotrek will do. He rapps on the door, then turns around, eyeing Gotrek. "There is nothing to see here. The bunker sounds like it goes back about 20' before being totally sealed."
Noot finds a small piece of armor with a dwarven rune on it. Kholaduhr, the ancient clan from which all dwarves in the region descend.
"Their great city was laid waste centuries ago by demons summoned by the Witch-Queen Iggwilv," says Delaim sadly. "This is another reason we have come," and his tone morphs from sadness to steel.
Gotrek looks around, then relents, again. "Let us move on then," he says as he turns around and starts walking. He mumbles something and Noot hears "least I got to kill some giants." With a smile, the others follow.
Isilme returns form scouting shortly thereafter and reports. "I flew down the valley and saw mountains that I never imagined in my many years in the underdark. Absolutely breathtaking. Just about a mile or so further up the valley, I saw another large valley to my right. It seemed the cliffs were carved with images of dwarven warriors."
This gets Gotrek's attention again, but he just spits. "Bah, probably just keep walkin' even if we walk by Moradin himself."
"I looked further up the valley," she continues. "It seemed to form a Y with one valley branching to the SW and another to the SE. Between the two valleys stands a high, flat-topped mountain. I say we take whatever path the dragon directed that get us to the horn with all haste."
Isilme then casts Farspeaker, and hands out some boxes to the others. "I will take one and scout further," she says before flying off again.
Isilme meets the party on the road south, after they decided to leave the old dwarven bunker alone. The party then continued onwards until they saw the mountains which Isilme described.
When the Azcral dwarves see the mountain with the carved dwarven kings, they stand speechless. Even Thorgrim and Gotrek have heard of this place. You are looking upon Durren's Rock, the entrance to the lost dwarven kingdom of Kholaduhr, original homeland of all the Yatil mountain dwarves.
Miri says, "Now isn't that something, very, very nice."
Elrae moves over to Gotrek. "Once we are done saving Oerth by liberating Iggwilv's Horn from evil, we should totally explore these mountains. There is a lot of unfinished business here."
"Aye," he replies somberly.
Delaim takes a few steps toward Durren's Rock, then he slashes his hand with a dagger. He makes a fist, holding it out before him and squeezing the blood out on the rocks at his feet. "I swear by the blood of Durren which runs in my veins, I shall return. We shall regain Kholaduhr."
Thorgrim grunts in approval. "Perhaps this is what Clanggedin wills for me," he thinks. "Perhaps he wants to test my mettle assisting other Dwarves in their aims before He allows me possession of my home."
Thorgrim takes a deep breath, composing himself, before continuing, "Gotrek, these are Kingdoms of the Dead, and the dead keep them. Let your concern be for living Dwarves, and those who will live after. We make for the Horn. We can investigate this area later, at our leisure. We still have a lost expedition to find, as well."
Gotrek nods in respect. "I will help ye," says Gotrek, nodding to Delaim. "I cannot speak for my companions," but I will by your side when the day comes."
Noot mumbles under his breath, "Dwarves and their oaths . . . "
The party then continues south. Soon they come to the Y intersection of valleys that Isilme spoke of, and see the great flat-topped mountain between them, directly ahead.
Isilme returns to the party as they reach the Y of the valley, at the edge of the flat top mountain. There are two valleys, one to the southwest (that's the direction you were given towards The Horn) while another goes to the southeast. She isn't certain, but there does seem to be a large, distinct mountain to the southeast. Here are some images:
To the southeast, there is another large lake covering the valley floor. The mountain massif beyond that lake is the largest you have seen during this trek. This is the one you were told by the dwarves is "The Horn of Iggwilv" though remember, none of them has seen it, since none are old enough to have ever been out of their home. However, it seems likely as this is also where Clonoc said to find it.
It's early morning, the party only having traveled about two miles total.
[DM OOC: The reason I point out that nobody is "sure" exactly which peak is The Horn is because nobody has seen it. I gave you a pretty damn good map to it, circled it, etc., but it was all provided by dwarves who have not ever been there. They are going by their 400 year old maps. Don't blame me if nobody ever asked for more specific info. :) Also, you have no idea where you will find entrances, and finding them is all part of the process. Good luck!]
Emyn says, "Maybe if we got on the flat top mountain, we might get a better sense of where we should go."
"It's supposed to be the tallest in the area," says Manny. "Looks likely. I would imagine it would be easier to decide from a higher view point, but that can be done by a flyer rather than climb a mountain. And it is likely to have been a road to Iggy's base. I can't imagine all of her orcs being able to fly or teleport in when they delivered tribute. So let's try the way the dwarves suggested and look for the remnants of the road. I suspect the trick is surviving finding it."
"I will go investigate the southeast peaks," says Isilme. "Rest here and await my return."
"I miss the days when we just looked for a secret entrance through the sewers?" Elrae japes.
Isilme flies up to the large peak in the distance to the southeast. Berenn and Emyn see a difficult trail leading up to the top of the flat mountain. They also think they they see ruins atop it, but cannot tell from the valley floor. Looking back, the party sees that other large peak in the distance to the west. It is also quite striking.
The party rests, and after a couple of hours Isilme reports. She flew all the way there, coming around the mountains in the front that blocked her view a bit, and said that it's pretty obvious which peak is the horn. It's the western peak.
Further, Isilme spotted a few interesting things. First, there are ruins atop the flattop mountain. She didn't investigate them, but it looks like it may have been a large town or small city. Second, there are many caves around the Horn of Iggwilv. She spotted a few more established entrances though. Finally, there is a village to the south of the Horn, about a mile away beyond it to the east, inhabited by gnomes.
"Gnomes..." Thorgrim mutters, stroking his beard and noting how it's grown out since his Soul Burn. "We may best hope our reputation hasn't preceded us. I can barely believe they live unmolested in this area. It seems to me they would know much of the mountain...but they may try to thwart our aims."
He shakes his head loose from his musings. "Still, they could hardly do so, unless they were servants of Iggwilv herself. Perhaps a brief visit to the Gnome village? We may learn much of value, and save time and lives on our trek. I'm not sure what approach to use if we do so, other than a direct one. We can hardly blend in."
Isilme replies via her Farspeaker box. "It will take a good day to reach the Horn, and the gnome village is on the FAR side of the mountain. It would probably take a full extra day or two to get to it on foot. I did find what is clearly the main entrance to the caves. There is a path leading up the central mountain valley, and then a stone stairway branching up to the left leading to a cave. The stairs continue up the peak, though it is collapsed a few hundred feet further and it seems a large chunk of the peak collapsed some time ago.
The party has to go around the lake which fills the valley, then continue on to the Horn, going up the mountain's central valley. It doesn't look like too difficult a path, just time consuming. The can basically just follow the river which flows down from the great mountain massif. Here is a map which shows the area and the party's current progress. This view is from above and to the southeast, looking back to the northwest, showing where you are in relation to where you have been.
Posted: Sun May 21, 2017 5:17 am Post subject: Part 24 - My Little Demonic Pony!
The party is traveling along an ancient road. They reach the lake where they find a stone causeway almost 2000' long spanning the edge. Large waterfalls pour into the lake from both sides of the steep valley. The party is crossing the causeway when they are startled by a roar even louder than the waterfalls. Looking above, they see a massive creature, nearly 50' long, looking down upon them from a ledge about 50' above them.
This beast could have come only from the depths of a fever dream. It has three heads, each possessed of unholy, gleaming eyes. The head on the right is that of a sharp-horned goat, on the left, a dragon with scales of shadow, and in the center, snorting bursts of dark smoke, a black horse with a mane of fire that trails down the creature’s back. Its forequarters belong to the horse, with hooves of flame, while its hindquarters are those of a goat. It possesses draconic wings and a matching tail.
Emyn starts firing arrows at the beast. "Spread out! IF this thing can breathe fire, it can hurt us in great numbers. I know not what this beast is but if it bleeds we can kill it!" he shouts.
"Where's Bellerophon and Pegasus when you need them?" says Elrae, quickly checking to see if his stone skin is still on. He draws Snowfang and starts to sing, "Creature of flame and despair, daughter of Typhon and Echidna, prepare to meet thy doom." [OOC: Using bard power.]
[DM OOC: I think I should be more clear. The thing is on a ledge about 50' above you and about 100' away. OK, it's not perfect, but it'll work. You are on a long causeway, maybe 2000' long which crosses the edge of the lake. The lake is only maybe 5' deep here. The land to the right is a cliff face going straight up, with the thing on a ledge. It will fly down at you next!]
[DM OOC: I think positions are obvious. Everyone except Manny it in front of the dwarves. You are not surprised because one of Manny's hawks (not shown) cawed loudly as the thing appeared! Anyway, it's not the best map, but it shows everyone correctly, along with distances. So, let's go!]
[Berenn OOC: OOC: Close ... I believe it is a cauchimera. Nasty creature if I recall correctly.]
[DM OOC: That's a 3rd ed monster! Oh, I forgot, I don't care about such things! ]
The cauchimera (yep, that's what it is!) leaps from the ledge and dives towards the causeway. When it gets close it breathes a dark, smoky cone which wafts out over the dwarves. When it passes, nearly a dozen drop to ground, weakened (and having lost a level!).
Berenn casts Protection from Fire upon himself.
Thorgrim casts Holy Orb, hitting the creature for . It howls in anger and swivels its heads, all three, right at him!
Miri runs away up the causeway, while Gotrek stands before Thorgrim, guarding him.
"Run!" shouts Delaim, when he sees the creature's deadly power. "We are sitting ducks out here!" He then grabs the nearest of the Azcral dwarves and shoves them along the causeway. The rest start to run that way too. Enough stop to aid their weakened companions, while others rush past everyone and run down the causeway. Two step in front of the fallen dwarves to protect them, and a couple fall off the causeway into the water. It's only a few feet deep right at the edge, so they aren't sinking into the abyss!
Manny fires two arrows into the beast [1, and 2: 3 total]. Emyn also hits with one .
Sir Godwyn takes out his sword and moves up beside Thorgrim and the others, trusting in the blessings of Rao to protect him from the beast.
Noot runs off as well, easily outpacing everyone!
The dwarves with the little dots have gained a Negative Level. The little squares show that there is another figure there. Those are other dwarves picking them up and trying to get them to safety. Miri and Noot are off the screen to the top-right. The cauchimera is actually about 15' high right now too, so it's not in range of any hand weapons right now.
[DM OOC: TW, here's a real pic of the real life causeway here. I was actually basing my map off a piece of screen shot from a causeway battle during Market Garden in WWII, but oh well. Anyway, this is what it looked like in 1900, looking in the direction you are going, towards the Horn of Iggwilv which is Monte Cristallo in reality.]
There's also the german name of the lake, Durrensea, which I'll keep. Sounds better the Landro's Lake! It also has the Durren root which works with the dwarven flavor of the area.
The cauchimera suddenly just drops right onto the dwarves. Berenn and Manny both note that its movements had nothing to do with its wings or the aerodynamics of any winged creatures they have ever seen, for it should not have been able to so quickly and decisively change its speed and direction. Such flight could only be supernatural in nature.
It squashes about a half-dozen dwarves, while the rest around it are scattered, rolling off to the sides. Some fall into the water, where they will struggle to get up like their fellows. A dwarven axe is seen lodged into the beasts belly , testimony that at least one of the dwarven guards got in a good shot as the thing fell upon them.
Berenn casts Holy Orb on the beast again, almost simultaneously. It takes , and it is clearly not pleased! It's nightmare head hisses out smoke which fills the area, making the thing hard to see.
It kicks at Delaim with two flaming hooves which miss, but you cannot fail to notice the very earth beneath them smoking after the strikes. The dragon head bites Gotrek , and the goat head butts Thorgrim . Thorgrim loses his second Holy Orb and is knocked backwards 5' and to the ground.
Gotrek moves forward and swings at the beast, hitting with Goreblade .
Sir Godwynn steps up, slashing the thing's goat head , forcing it to back away from him. He can tell that the thing doesn't like him.
The rest of the dwarves run off with Miri and Noot, while those around the beast back away, pulling themselves from the frigid water best they can. They regroup behind the thing with the unwounded ones forming a shield wall across the causeway to defend the others. Some crawl out around the party and scramble out of the way, while one drags Thorgrim back out of harms way as well.
Delaim then swings at the central head, hitting it .
Elrae has no clear shot with Snowfang, so he charges forward, pointing Snowfang over the head of Delaim as he sends a cone of cold into the beast .
Finally, Emyn fires two shots at it, but they both miss as he doesn't have a clear shot.
It has now landed.
The cauchimera attacks. It rears back and strikes Delaim with two hooves [15 and 16: 31 total.] Each blow sets the dwarf's clothing on fire [4 and 2: 6 total]. He is knocked backwards and to the ground.
The dragon head bites Gotrek , while the goat head and the nightmare head bite Elrae, but with Stoneskin do nothing.
Thorgrim rises with help from one of the Azcral, then casts Axe Storm of Clanggedin.
Berenn draws Bonefire, igniting it and casting Sunbow, while Elrae casts Wall of Ice above the thing, dropping a horizontal wall upon its back  as it crashes down on it.
Four more dwarves charge, emboldened by the blessings of Clanggedin they just received. Two take hits by the thing as they approach, but all make it, and two hit [12 and 7] with extra attacks.
Emyn and Gotrek both miss, but Gotrek then hits with two extra attacks [18 and 22].
"Do you really think you can defeat all of us?" mocks Elrae who shows a rare form of bravery and strikes with Snowfang.
The beast cries out, flying up and away in a quick bound. Berenn sheathes Bonefire, then fires a shot at it, but misses. Manny also fires, hitting it . However, the cauchimera flies away, horrific cries coming from it as it flees. Watching, it flies towards the flat mountain, trailing smoke as it disappears from view.
"We drove the beast off," says Emyn, "but what scared it away? I doubt it was us. We need to get off this causeway with all haste and watch the water and the skies!"
"I think it was us, but I agree we should get off this causeway," Thorgrim says. He looks to see if any of the mortally wounded can be saved.
Only two dwarves perished, and Berenn's rod can take care of the others. Those which suffered negative levels are alive, but weakened. Noot will render aid to any of the dwarves who are injured. They are very greatful, though they try to act like they don't need help, as dwarves do.
Isilme returns about the same time the group gets across the causeway. They find a sheltered spot in the trees where they can rest. Manny keeps lookout, his birds circling around to ensure the strange beast doesn't return.
[DM OOC: As for the dwarves, they are all 2nd level. Well, except for the two leaders who or 4th and 5th. Anyway, there are 7 left now that have negative levels. They can roll to regain them tomorrow. They can still function, however, in the mean time.]
Mir says, "What if that was a baby?"
Delaim looks up at Miri. "What are ye talking about?" he asks.
"Just saying, what if that was only a young one, and there are parents about?" she replies.
"That thing was bigger than our greatest forge," says Delaim with a sense of dread. "I hope it was not just a baby." He looks back up towards the flat-topped mountain, barely visible through the trees.
Thorgrim follows his gaze. "That encounter could've been much worse," he says. "I'd like to track that beast and slay it, but it distracts us from our goal. It will have to wait. Perhaps Clonoc could assist us in that task or even allow one to ride him, for aerial combat."
Isilme informs the party she found the entrance to the horn, and the most feasible way to get to it. Looking back up, she adds, "What do you plan on doing about this creature you spoke of?"
Miri mumbles, "Pray it is not a fast healer."
"I would feel safer knowing that foul creature was unable to harass us at a later," says Berenn. "It is wounded which will make it more dangerous."
"Berenn, what you say is true," Thorgrim begins, "But we haven't a moment to lose. Still, it would be unseeming to be caught by surprise while ascending a cliff face. Isilme, does your route include any vertical ascents? If it does, I'd say take the critter out, first. Otherwise on to the Horn."
Looking up you can see it's a virtual cliff face all the way to the top where the cauchimera flew. "There was a path back at the Y of these valleys which wound precariously up the point of the flat top mountain," says Isilme, but we'd have to backtrack a few hours. We should just move on to the horn, maybe get there before that beast returns."
A chorus of "To the Horn" comments come from all, as the party decides to make all haste. As they head towards the Horn, Elrae calls out, "Did you see how that cauchimera fled when it gazed upon Snowfang? It inspired a new song." He then starts to play his cittern and sing:
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
And I captivate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
(Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh )
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
See me dominate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
(Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh)
You think you've got what it takes to go toe to toe?
I've got more moves than you'll ever know
I own the stage, I'm all the rage
You're from the past, I'm from the Space Age
Come on, you're just making noise
Listen how my music destroys
Anything you throw at me
I'm gonna throw back, just wait and see-ee
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
And I captivate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
(Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh)
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
See me dominate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
I'm here to take you down a peg
Oh, whoa, oh-whoa-oh-whoa-oh-oh
By the time I'm done, you're gonna beg
Oh, whoa, oh-whoa-oh-whoa-oh-oh
To be in my band, application rejected!
Don't look so sad and so dejected
(And so dejected)
Don't mean to brag, don't mean to boast
But I'm a six-course meal and you're just burnt toast
Think I'm gonna ever give up?
No, never, ever, ever, ever!
Come on, you're just making noise
Listen how my music destroys
Anything you throw at me
I'm gonna throw back, just wait and see-ee
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
And I captivate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
Ya better believe
I got tricks up my sleeve
See me dominate
'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat!
Though Miri applauds, Noot suffers in silence.
"And your singing is going to bring it back and more angry than it was before," Berenn mumbles.
Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:55 am Post subject: Part 25 - The Hidden Temple
Sorry for the absence. Work has been crazy! Anyway, I will now return to the adventures of the Heroes of Hommlet. We left off as they were seeking Iggwilv's Horn and the Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth. They just fought off the cauchimera at the causeway, though they did not slay it.
"Before we go," says Manny, "someone should check our wounded. We will need to be in good shape to enter a fiend's lair."
"By 'fiend's lair' I assume you are speaking of the dungeon-entrance to the Horn of Iggwilv," replies Thorgrim as he moves to tend to the Azcral dwarves. "Because that seems to be the direction we're heading." It is clear they lost a few of their dwarven allies on the causeway, and Thorgrim is obviously pained.
He looks to Delaim, speaking loudly. "This land swarms with fell creatures. What horrors lie in the mountain, we soon shall see. Delaim, where does your mandate end? I would see you and your kin in secure halls once more."
Delaim looks at Thorgrim. "Would you have us leave, after all we have faced together?" He looks pained to even ask the question.
Thorgrim casts his eyes downward, embarrassed. "Of course, you're right. I would be ashamed to deny you the glory of combat." He looks Delaim in the eye and clasps his shoulder. "I will not speak of it again."
Thorgrim and Berenn then tend to the party's wounds, with Berenn using the Rod of Xodal to heal the dwarves. Some have died, and some are left weakened by the beast.
[DM OOC: Dwarf count is down to 41, 6 of whom are currently suffering a negative level.]
After another couple more hours, the party reaches the foot of the mountain. It is an intersection between four valleys. It is a huge riverbed with a raised road which leads left, right, and ahead. An ancient rock signpost stands at the intersection of the raised causeways, written in strange runes that resemble dwarven. To the right it says Red ____, the second glyph broken and worn off. To the left it says Misery. The route ahead leading up the valley towards the Horn has a glyph that nobody recognizes.
The valley you have followed has ascended a few hundred feet and here it branches left and right. To the right through the trees the party sees only more massive peaks, rising starkly in the afternoon sun.
Emyn asks if a mage might have a spell that would let them read that last glyph.
"It doesn't matter," replies Isilme. "It doesn't look like a language, but more of a symbol. What it means cannot be determined by a spell." She looks up at the peaks ahead. "Besides, our way is obviously onward." She then continues ahead.
They spend a few more hours hiking up the valley of the Horn. It leads straight into the heart of the mountain. You eventually reach a tight gorge, where you have to travel 2 abreast for a hundred yards or so. One you pass that point, the valley begins to open up again.
Clouds have built up around the higher peaks, but Berenn says there will be no rain. The stream bed you are following continues up, and you see the great cleft in the mountain ahead and to the left. Immediately to the left of the cleft rises the Horn of Iggwilv. It will take a few more hours of tough hiking to get around the next promontory and begin the last ascent towards the Horn. According to Isilme, the last part is the steepest, most difficult part. However, a stair, cut into the rock, leads you to the entrance. It is a long climb, maybe a thousand feet or more.
"Looks like we finally found the place," says Berenn with forebodding. "Hope it was worth the search!"
Suddenly there is a loud screech from up above. Manny looks up just in time to see one of his hawks, Teivor, diving straight down towards him. Before he can act, it hits him in the face, clawing him wildly, clawing him  and pecking him in the eye . Manny is blinded in that eye! (it's only temporary--for 6 rounds).
Bow out, Emyn puts an arrow through the hawk, slaying it instantly. It falls to the ground with a light thud where it lies unmoving.
"Emyn!" cries Thorgrim, but too late. Teivor is clearly dead, and Thorgrim moves up to Emyn, grabbing him roughly. "You are always first to attack the possessed," he scolds him. "Pray that you never become so again, lest others follow your example."
Berenn says he prayer over it and carefully hands it over to Manny. "The unnecessary loss of life is always tragic, but it is especially tragic when it happens to a virtually helpless animal."
Elrae looks at Emyn in utter disgust, "We could have saved Manny's trained raptor."
[Elrae OOC: We are going to have to call Emyn, Dave Winfield now based on how he treats birds. (For those too young to remember, Winfield killed a seagull by throwing a baseball at it.)]
[Berenn OOC: We can now add bird killer to Goldie's long list of negative adjectives!]
Manny says nothing. He just walks away and buries Teivor in a small cairn. He then sends his other birds back down to the crossroads area. He tells them to fend for themselves, and he will return for them later. They fly off back down the valley, and the party continues up the steep slope.
A blanket of sadness covers the party as they continue their journey up the valley. None speak, as they reach the head of the valley. There the party finds that there are actually TWO entrances to the mountain. There is the high one which Isilme found earlier, at the top of the thousand steps which leads to a worked cave (I posted a pic of that earlier). However, there is another at the base, a cavern with an entrance that seems like a fanged maw.
Miri looks at the entrance then up the long stairs and says, "Either one I suppose. I don't mind the steps."
"All that is missing a large sign saying 'Abandon hope all ye who enter'", Berenn mumbles.
"Let us continue to the peak entrance," says Isilme. "This one just invites danger."
Noot checks inside. It leads to a cavern about 40' wide, 70' long, and over 20' high in the central area. It has obviously been used in the recent past. The walls and ceiling are blackened by soot, and there are bits of broken weapons and armor and discarded gear scattered around. At the back of the place is a smaller cave 20' wide, 30' long, and 15' high. At the easternmost end of the cave is a 10' wide passage slanting steeply down. Steps have been roughly hewn in its floor to allow easier passage. The tunnel leads down into the heart of the mountain.
Miri moves up behind Noot. "These weapons and gear are not old," she says. "I wonder if this is what is left of the other party?"
"That would be a logical assumption," says Berenn, also moving inside. "But you have to wonder what destroyed the party."
"Iuzians," says Noot, standing and moving away.
Thorgrim moves in and looks around. "Looks more like a temporary base camp for evildoers," Thorgrim says. "It seems to me that enterring here would be a mistake. Let's start at the top. If we need to descend into the heart of the mountain to attain our goal, we can do so later."
The party agrees, hoping to find an easier way inside, and begins the long trek up the stairs. It will take about three hours to climb the stairs.
[DM OOC: BTW, this is based on the average time it takes to climb the stairs of the Empire State Bldg, about the same height. Normally, it takes a fit person about 40min. Taking into account two things, your encumbrance and the fact that you are climbing stairs without a railing as opposed to a nice safe interior stairway, and it takes longer. So, I have arrived at 3 hours. That also assumes a rest every 100' or so. Anyway, I say this to show where I got the figure and to forestall the inevitable comments about it. So, just go with it!]
The group starts to mount the stairs.
"We should rope off to each other," says Miri. When nobody even answers her, she shrugs and continues, but keeps rope handy.
About 10 dwarves stay behind, the five that suffered from the flying beast, and another five to aid them. That's 10 to guard the entrance/bottom of the stairs. The rest of you begin the long trek up the stairs.
About halfway up the stairs, Noot is suddenly attacked by two creatures. They look like gargoyles, but with a more rocky hide. They had blended into the rock, so he couldn't see them. One attacks him and the other attacks Miri. Everyone is on this single-file stair, which is quite the precarious perch.
The only ones who can even see them are those in the front, from Elrae forward, since they were somewhat behind a small bend in the cliff face. This map is hard to use; however, let me say that there is a straight cliff up on the top of the trail and a straight cliff DOWN on the bottom. So, there is only space for one person/token. I really couldn't make the map much better, but let me reiterate, there is ONLY room for one at a time on the steps. Also, ignore the arid background. It's just there to be a contrast. Really all that matters is the path.
Isilme is not flying, but she isn't worried with her boots of levitation. She also is invisible, just walking along behind Miri and likely talking to Elrae.
Manny is in the far rear of the line taking up the rear, so he does nothing.
Noot draws blades and parries.
Gotrek growls, but he cannot do anything. In fact, most cannot do anything. Isilme uses her boots to levitate 20' straight up. She's still invisible.
Miri swings Remorse, hitting the Margoyle for . It attacks back, hitting her with two horns [6 and 3: total 9]. She makes her dex check, and avoids falling off the cliff.
[DM OOC: As you can see, this simple encounter may turn deadly VERY fast!]
Noot is missed by all four attacks.
Elrae casts Magic MIssile, hitting the one attacking Miri . Miri misses with her second attack.
Emyn has his bow and fires a shot, hitting one. The arrow just bounces off, and he knows he cannot hurt these things with them.
There is a loud cry which makes everyone glance up. A few hundred feet above can be seen two more margoyles, and beyond them a couple more. They are diving down towards the group....
Emyn also shouts, "Dwarves link arms! These things might decide to grab us one by one and drop us off the side."
Isilme casts Fly, while Noot tumbles behind the margoyle, coming up with his back to the wall.
The margoyle attacks Miri again, butting her with its horns . Miri maintains her balance, swinging back with Remorse and missing.
Manny calls for the dwarves to locks hands, then takes out his Rod of Security. He takes out his haversack, searches for his Rod of Security, and prepares to transport everyone to safety. "We just need to lock hands," he shouts.
The dwarves ignore him and all back up to the wall, facing out, and lock shields in as near a shield wall as can be made on the stairs.
Berenn casts Spiritual Hammer, smacking the margoyle attacking Miri .
The other margoyles dive, with the two center ones reaching the ledge. One attacks the dwarves near Gotrek, knocking into one and sending him toppling over the edge. He falls, bouncing off the rocks until he impacts the bottom 500' below. The other attacks Sir Godwyn, who impales the margoyle first . It attacks him with four attacks, hitting with its horns for , but Sir Godwyn holds his ground, back against the wall.
The one attacking Noot spins around, attacking him four times and missing each time as Noot stays defensive.
Emyn summons Trithereon's Avengers, and two Giant Hornets appear. They attack the two that are still 200' up.
Thorgrim casts Holy Orb, bringing the wrath of Clanggedin down on the three at the head of the line. The two fighting Miri and Sir Godwynn both are slain by the holy power, while the one fighting Noot takes . Noot takes . Miri takes . Elrae takes  and Emyn takes .
The two dwarves next along the stairs to the lower Margoyle attack, missing.
With a wild yell, Gotrek leaps over the dwarf below him, landing atop the Margoyle and burrying Goreblade in its back [20!].
Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting the one fighting Noot and destroying it!
Gotrek and two dwarves hit the last margoyle, killing it, while the two fliers fly away, chased by the giant hornets. Battle over!
Miri takes a length of ropee and ties one end arround Noot's waist, the middle part around her waist and when she sees who is walking behind her the other end around his waist. Then she says, "I can't force the rest of you to rope up but I plead with you to do so. Twice I just came close to falling off these stairs, help protect those of us who are a bit more clumsy then the rest of you."
"No arguments from me," says Vaddarra.
Thorgrim says a prayer for the soul of our fallen comrade. "I apologize," he says to Miri "We should have listened to you." Then he ropes up with the others.
After another couple hours, youmake it up to the top, where you can enter the Horn itself. You are still well below the peak, and maybe 500' below a couple glaciers that cover the dark side of the mountain's northern face here. The air is very cool now, and the wind whips strongly by. Once everyone is up, the party takes a break and then enters the cave. Inside is a wonder beyond description.
You can assume that figure up above is Isilme, so you get an idea of size. The cave rises hundreds of feet straight up, completely out of sight except for the shaft of light coming from somewhere far above. It pierces the cave along with a thin waterfall, falling together upon an ancient temple half collapsed and still brimming with magical energy. In fact, it is entirely possible now that you look that the light is also coming from the temple itself.
While you are staring in awe, Isilme speaks from just above you, invisible to all. "Impressive, isn't it?" You learn from Isilme that the shaft goes up quite a ways, she estimates about 500' or so where the water pour in from outside, likely from under the glacier. The cave continues up another 1000' or so until it emerges at the top of the peak.
Emyn gazes with awe and says, "What deity does this place honour?"
"No good one," mutters Berenn.
Isilme also points out another shaft, this one in the rear of the cave and leading straight down into the darkness. It is about 10' wide and perfectly circular.
[DM OOC: Yes, I know it's not perfectly round, but again, I had to do some retouching to make it look even that close. Work with me!]
Isilme didn't go down there as it goes straight down beyond what she can see with her drow infravision.
Emyn and Sir Godwyn both feel evil in the area, a palpable sense of forebodding that is as real as the very air. The both concentrate upon it, and sense it coming from the strange temple.
Emyn says, "Evil remains here. I feel it in my bones. We should tread lightly and remove the source of evil if we can. Does anyone know a way to prevent fear from taking hold? It would be a terrible death if one of us ran off the cliff in an attempt to flee. "
Miri lights a torch and looks down the hole. It is totally smooth. In fact, it looks very much like the walls of the tunnels Elrae made with his wand, when he used the Passwall ability.
"Maybe I could climb down it," says Noot, "but probably not, and there's no telling how far it goes."
"Let us check that temple," says Emyn, steeling himself. He strides forward, his sword out, to investigate this shrine more closely, praying to Trithereon for his divine protection.
Miri walks with him, and suddenly the two feel "weakened". [DM OOC: In game terms this equates to a -1 Negative Level.] This occurs when you cross the 30' approach boundary.
Emyn says, "I feel weakened in this place, friends. Be wary." Miri backs away as Emyh proceeds. He suffers another -1 Negative Level when he crosses the 10' boundary as hers goes away when she leaves the area.
Miri calls out, "it seems the weekness goes away when you move away from the temple."
Committed, Emyn continues. He sees that the water from the waterfall basically falls right into the temple. There are magical energies present, as can be seen. What the nature of that magic is, he is uncertain. However, it "feels" like he has sensed it before, though he cannot place it. He also notes that the water that hits the temple is evaporating, as if landing in a fire, but there is no fire.
"I fear further effort may unnecessarily attract the attention of evil gods who would seek to thwart us," says Thorgrim. "Let us explore this place and move on. Emyn, quit playing in the waterfall and let's go."
Emyn ignores Thorgrim as Isilme casts "Negative Plane Protection", then draws morlather, entering the temple area and detecting for the source of evil. "Morlather guide my hand," she whispers.
The spell protects Isilme from the baneful effects. She stops after crossing the threshold, because she doesn't experience the normal "thunderclap" as the positive energy of her spell counters the draining energy of the Negative Plane. This is definitely something new. She then passes Emyn and enters the temple itself.
Isilme joins Emyn in the temple. He is much relieved to find that he doesn't suffer any more ill-effects. There isn't much to the temple, just an altar in the center. The place is full of magical energy, and Isilme senses that it is energy of a type very similar to that used by Hepla's mother, and to a lesser degree Hepla as well. [DM OOC: btw, using your proficiencies to get this!] Further, they find some writing in a strange language, ancient glyphs carved into the bare stone altar in the center.
"Baba Yaga?" Emyn guesses.
Far away at home, Hepla gets an eerie chill and goosebumps appear on her as she shivers from a touch of dread.
"Yes, good guess," replies Isilme. "Considering that Iggwilv was Baba Yaga's daughter..... It's only fitting the greatest witch in history paid homage to her mother, the queen of witches."
"We should go back the way we came," Thorgrim calls. "Or down that hole," he says, eyeballing it. "Perhaps we should've explored the lower entrance a little more thoroughly. This pit may well intersect with those levels. I've no desire to descend by rope unless required."
Thorgrim looks down the hole and can tell that the hole was NOT made by natural forces. "Best guess is that it was made with Passwall spells," he says, remembering Elrae's wand. "However, that must have happened centuries ago, for the hole is weathered. Water has flowed through it in large amounts, likely from the waterfall which at the moment is small being mid/late summer."
Isilme and Emyn decide that there is nothing to be gained at the temple, and they finally follow Thorgrim's advice and back away from the temple. When they leave, Emyn finds that he regains some of his strength. [DM OOC: he regains the first negative level, but not the second.]
Moving to the hole, Emyn looks in too. "Unless we can find a way down this hole safely, we might as well go back downstairs," he says.
"My suggestion is leaving and returning below," says Berenn. "I can drop down safely, but I can't carry anyone with me and I don't see how the rest of you will be getting down."
"If no one else will do it I will," says Elrae. He casts Stoneskin, then casts Fly, draws Snowfang, and descends into the hole. "If I am not back in 10 minutes then go on without me."
"I will regale people with your adventures years from now," says Berenn. "And when he gets to this point I will simply say, 'And that is why you'll never see Elrae again to this very day!'"
Hey, anybody have any idea why the formatting has changed here? It seems that I can't get posts to stay thinner, and they go way off the side of the screen. I'm not sure if it's something to do with how I view them on my PC/monitor or what.
Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:31 pm Post subject: Part 25 - Down the Rabbit Hole
Emyn drops a lit torch down the hole to see how far it goes. It falls down so far you can't tell, at least 500', before hitting bottom and bouncing away. There is dim light down there, but you can't see anything. It's so far and hard to see that you just see the light.
Before Elrae leaves, he gives his Wand of Earth and Stone to Isilme and she casts Farspeaker and gives him one of the boxes. He then flies down (it's a three minute trip to the bottom) while she uses Passwall where the water near the temple flows into some cracks. She uses three charges, but fails to find any kind of larger passages. Frustrated, she tucks away the wand and gives up. At about this time Elrae makes it to the bottom.
It is a very large underground chamber, fashioned over many, many centuries from the flow of water through underground cracks and passages. It abounds with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flows, etc., and the flickering light from Emyn's torch plays interestingly along the intricate walls.
Elrae notes that the hole through which he traveled was NOT natural, though it does show sign of erosion. In fact, water seems to have flowed out from the hole for many centuries, pouring along the ceiling before forming wondrous stalactites and stalagmites. There is a large basin directly under the hole, which holds about 10' of crystal clear water. A "stream" runs from it or would if the water were just a few feet higher. It flows along around the central stalagmites, curving in a great arc and disappearing out another tunnel. There is another dark tunnel directly opposite, and the dark shadows along the cavern's far walls seems to possibly hide even more exits.
All the rest of the cavern is shrouded in darkness, as the only thing illuminating the chamber is a combination of Snowfang's light blue and the flame from Emyn's torch.
So, Elrae can tell you that with the Farspeaker.
"Good news, everyone," Thorgrim says. "This hole was made long ago. We have not yet been beaten in this race." He looks relieved. "I've got a 300-foot rope, and with the rest of the party we can extend that quite a bit. Still, a dangerous road. It would take us an hour or more to get everyone down that way."
"Do you really want to risk a 500' drop when we could just rest up and descend by the stairs in the morning?" asks Berenn. "Seems like we are taking some unnecessary risks, I am not at risk, but one small slip from anyone else and they will make a pretty blood splat on the cavern floor."
Miri looks down the hole and takes a step back. "I don't relish the idea of a rope climb but I will do whatever the party wants."
While they discuss their options up above, Elrae picks up the torch, so he can see better, then walks around a bit, staying in this chamber.
The bright light shows what he can actually see. There's an exit on the ledge to the southeast, a tunnel to the south, one to the west, a large tunnel to the north, and one to the northeast. The one to the north, through the columns which you can see blocking light there, is the direction the water flows, or would flow if there were any here right now, or any more than the slightest drops and trickles.
Meanwhile, Gotrek listens to the party discuss things. He knows they will take forever, then likely choose to go back down the stairs outside, and he is uneasy leaving Elrae alone. He takes Isilme's farspeaker and calls to Elrae. "Laddie, do ye want me down with ye?"
Elrae doesn't answer.
Gotrek calls again and again, but there is no answer.
"We've got to find Elrae, now!" Thorgrim says. "Isilme, see what you can do! Berenn, your ring! Use it or loan it! My kingdom for a Potion of Flying!"
Isilme casts "Fly" on Gotrek. "Gotrek take Thorgrim below to check on Elrae. Thorgrim keep constant communication on the Farspeaker so we know what's happening. Once you get down there I suggest you cast "locate object" to find something of Elrae's, like his wedding ring or "sweetness" as it's likely on him.
"Berenn," she says, addressing him next. "You should follow with your feather fall, but it's up to you. They could use the help and it wouldn't be that difficult for me to get one person back up. I will stay here and depending on thorgrims/berenns report move the whole group with feather fall or wait for your return. It's one thing to get everyone down there, and another to get them all back up, so I want to be sure this is what needs to be done." She nods to everyone. "Good luck my dwarven friends!"
Berenn moves up to leap into the hole, and Emyn smiles to him. "You must really miss Elrae's company given how enthusiastic he is. Perhaps Elrae will immortalize his love in song," he chides.
"Nah," replies Berenn without even looking back. "I'm just hoping someone has cast a permanent silence spell on Elrae, and that is why we haven't heard from him." Berenn then leaps, using his Ring of Feather Fall to drop him safely. He holds his ring off his finger for a couple of seconds, then slips his ring on just in time to not go splat! He doesn't want to try that again any time soon.....
He takes another couple minutes to fall the rest of the way. There's no light anywhere, so he can only see with infravision. It's the same chamber Elrae was in before, but nobody is here. Berenn walks around a bit, checking for evidence that anyone was here. He finds bits of burnt wood from Emyn's torch, but the torch is gone. There are no footprints anywhere, and the ground it such that you cannot walk here without leaving them. Nothing has walked here in many years.
After looking around this cavern for a minute or so, Manny appears, flying down through the hole. He is followed a minute later by Gotrek carrying Throgrim, whom he deposits on the ground. Thorgrim's heavy boots make a loud crunch on the cave floor.
"I am not a fan of splitting up not know what is down here," Berenn interjects. "So I will just concentrate on Elrae's cursed instrument and follow the trail to him." Berenn casts Locate Object and concentrates on Elrae's Cittern of Calen Sirithe. Should be easy enough to concentrate on something he has hated hearing over the years.
He quicklys picks up the direction, and they set out. "Gotrek," says Thorgrim, "you're on point. Manny and Berenn in the center. I'll take rear guard. Perhaps it were better we had no rear guard at all. In any case, Gotrek and I will need to engage attackers from any quarter, abandoning our position. So be wary, all of you."
To Isilme he speaks through the box: "We're taking the northeast passage. We sense Elrae's cittern."
Moving away from the cavern to the north, you go around some large curtain walls, stalgmites, and columns. Just beyond them you reach a chasm, about 20' across, which cuts across the entire cavern. It's hard to say how deep it is, as the bottom is out of sight. Well, all but a small light at the bottom, the flickering of Emyn's torch which Elrae took with him.
Thorgrim speaks into the box again, "Elrae, can you hear me?"
When Thorgrim does his "com check" on the farspeaker, you guys here it from the other side of the chasm, NOT at the bottom of it!. It comes from behind one of the columns, and you hear a voice, a strange gravelly voice, say, "So much for surprise." You also think you hear Elrae laughing, and in fact you do, for when you look that way you see him come out of hiding from behind a large stalagmite.
"Oh, we got you good!" he says with a laugh.
"Yes," replies that other voice, "it seems like it's time for plan B."
Out from behind a pillar comes a truly terrifying sight....
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