Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:02 pm Post subject: Part 19 - The Hand of Rao
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.
[Tempus 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.
Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:24 am; edited 4 times in total
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.
Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:25 am; edited 7 times in total
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.....
Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:28 am; edited 8 times in total
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.
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.
As you continue, the dwarves spot something to the right (southeast). Moving to investigate, they find an ancient bunker, built by dwarves.
"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: Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:48 am Post subject: Part 25 - 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 Dec 02, 2017 8:54 am Post subject: Part 26 - 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.
To the left the valley also rises, following a small rivulet of ice cold water which leads to another massive peak.
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!'"
Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:00 am Post subject: Part 27 - 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....
Berenn takes cover behind a stalagmite. "Remember the last time we faced one of those floating heads it had a disintegration ray, so I suggest we all take cover!" Once Berenn has cover he will shout, "Always hated your music bard, for an entertainer you would make a good accountant!" He will cast Dispel Magic on Elrae.
Thorgrim ducks behind the column to his east and quaffs a dose of his Potion of Invisibility. He then talks into the Farspeaker. "Isilme, a Beholder has control of Elrae. We might could use your help. Gotrek, I have a plan," Thorgrim says to his battle-hardened friend. Into the Farspeaker box: "Noot, you got that rope ready, yet? We may need it. And the Dwarves to haul. Have a quaff of this, next," he says, and drinks. He sets his Farspeaker box on the ground, and goes Invisible.
Gotrek takes cover as well, taking the potion and drinking it himself. [DM OOC: I don't usually let you take multiple drinks, but I'mm giving you a break here!]
"Emyn get over here!" yells Isilme. When he approaches, she grabs him and flies down to help the group.
"Why you running?" says the beholder. "Where do you think you can go?"
Suddenly a burst of energy from one of the eyestalks strikes Manny, engulfing him in strange purple/black lights. He feels weakened for a moment, as if his very life energy was draining from him. As quickly as the sensation comes it passes. The young elf dives behind the stalagmites with the others, not wishing to feel that again. As he does, Gotrek and Thorgrim disappear.
"You are no ordinary folk," grates the beholder from across the chasm. "That much is now evident. You may even be...heroic...if not for your fear. Fear of Xakrarloth!" You hear the beholder sigh, or what passes for a sigh for a beholder, as it then continues.
Berenn steps out from behind the stalagmite and casts a Dispel Magic spell upon Elrae; however, it doesn't work. He feels no sensation of magical energy at all, and realizes that the thing has them in an anti-magic field.
Before he can warn the others, Gotrek flies out from around the stalagmites. He immediately appears and drops heavily to the ground. Luckily, he doesn't roll forward and into the chasm!
Thorgrim was about to cast his own spell, but seeing what just happened he stays put. He knows that if he moves into the open all his magic will cease, and his casting will fail. "Stinking beard-shaving...." he starts to curse, then pounds his hammer into the stalagmite in frustration.
Manny takes out his bow, thinking that now may be the time for something less...subtle.
Across the pit, Elrae almost falls over, holding his side and laughing. "Oh that was precious!"
Also, Isilme continues to fly down with Emyn.
Berenn dives back behind the stalagmites, as the beholder laughs. "Some heroes!" it mocks.
Manny leans out from around the stalagmite, firing two shots at the thing's central eye, using the elven Quick-Draw Shot ability. Both hit it [5 and 4: total 9], and Manny ducks back behind the stalagmite before it can do anything else.
The scream of the beholder rocks the cavern. Elrae looks horrified, and he yells at Manny, "What are you doing?"
"He is dying," says the beholder, and suddenly Gotrek turns invisible again. The anti-magic field is off! Before Gotrek can act, a beam of energy flies forth and strikes the stalagmite, completely disintegrating it and leaving Thorgrim and Manny in the open, though Thorgrim also turns invisible.
Gotrek misses no time, flying across the chasm and attacking the beholder. He swings Goreblade in a massive chop which hits the beholder in the side of the head , knocking it back 5'.
Thorgrim had been taking out his stone, and he uses it to summon his earth elemental. It appears right up out of the ground behind the beholder, and Thorgrim stands, smiles, and points at the beholder. "Kill that gibbering, cave-slinking, lump of antracite!"
"Hey guys," says Elrae, utterly unconcerned. "What's up with all of the hostilities? This is my new friend, Xakrarloth. He's been down here all alone for hundreds of years and is lonely. He really likes my music and stories. I don't know why you are attacking him? Can't we all just get along?" He looks confused and can't quite understand why his friends are attacking the beholder. "Xakrarloth, this is Berenn, Gotrek, Thorgrim, Manny, my fellow adventures. Where's Emyn and Isilme. You'd really like to meet them. They are a lot of fun."
"If Xakrarloth loves your music, that is as a good as any reason to kill him!" Berenn exclaims and then casts Dispel Magic on Elrae. Elrae is no longer charmed!
The anti-magic turns back on, dropping Gotrek again to the ground. He grabs at the edge, barely holding himself up from falling down the chasm. Thogrim's spell is ruined. Manny fires his bow twice more, hitting the beholder in its central eye again .
The beholder then hits the elemental with a disintegrate ray, and the thing is instantly obliterated!
Gotrek scrambles out and stands before the beholder once more. From this close, he notes that the thing really looks bad, with a few eyestalks hangling limply.
Manny fires three more arrows at the end of the round (quick shot!) and hits once more .
Elrae shakes his head and gathers his wits. "What the... best friends with an Eye Tyrant for all eternity, gross." He pulls out a small bag and with a pinch he throws it at the beholder casting Glitterdust hoping to blind it.
"It might not have been so bad, the Beholder probably likes your singing." Berenn yells across the chasm. "Then again, I am not sure Beholders have ears!"
Manny ducks and weaves, getting partially behind a tall thin column. He comes up and fires his bow, missing. Berenn ducks out from behind the large flowstone and fires his bow, missing as well.
Suddenly Gotrek is pushed violently away from the Beholder by some unknown force, right out above the chasm into which he plummets! It's a 50' fall. Gotrek slams into the bottom, taking 63! He makes his save vs Death (from massive damge), so basically he slams into a few things on the way, before crashing into the bottom with a great CRUNCH!
Gotrek slowly gets up, stunned by the fall, as Thorgrim runs and hides behind the flowstone wall next to Berenn. Elrae then casts Glitterdust at the Beholder, which unfortunately fails its save. It is BLINDED!
I believe Isilme and Emyn reach the bottom this round. I put their tokens down. I don't think Emyn can see at all, since there's no light here except for his old torch, at the bottom of the chasm where Gotrek fell. Manny and Berenn fire again, both missing!
Isilme flies Emyn over to cover near Berenn, dropping him there. [Is she invisible still?)
The beholder laughs at Elrae's pitiful attempt to blind it. [It's central eye is an anti-magic field generator!) It then sends a beam of amber light towards Elrae, momentarily bathing him in its glow. He screams and runs away, hiding behind some columns.
Berenn and Thorgrim step out cast their spells, but nothing happens. They curse when they realize they are once again in the anti-magic fields!
Manny fires another arrow, striking it in the central eye again . He doesn't use the special elven abilities, since they make it too difficult to hit, especially when trying to hit a specific target. So he just takes his normal shots and fires another arrow at the end of the round, but it too misses!
Isilme is not in the anti-magic area, since she's protected by the large flowstone column. So she can act independently. Gotrek takes out his potion of ex-healing and drinks it but nothing happens. He also notes that his other potion bottles broke in the fall.
Emyn lights a torch. As he's taking out what he needs, Berenn fires an arrow at the beholder's central eye but misses. Thorgrim casts Rockburst, but nothing happens. [DM OOC: Hello! Anti-magic field!!! :) ]
The beholder backs away, floating back out of sight between the stalagmite pillars to the right. Isilme casts Dimension Door, appearing between the other columns near Elrae.
Emyn finishes lighting his torch at the end of the round.
You should now be able to see Elrae's light from Snowfang, the light from Emyn's torch, and with Isilme on the other side, you can see further, as she has superior drow infravision. I'll make a zoomed version if you need it; however this should be good enough. I know it's hard to see the edges, but this large chamber is literally ringed with large stalagmites and columns, blocking vision. That's why you see those "spears" of black, radiating away. Those are areas you can't see, beyond columns.
[DM OOC: It is not stupid, and it's taking lots of hits from arrows. Plus, it can't aim its other eyestalks due to invisibility. I actually spent a bit of time looking into that one, and it seemed the most sensible of conclusions. The blindness from the glitterdust doesn't stop the beholder's eyestalk powers; however, those other eyes cannot "see." Thus, it can still fire disintegrate if it likes, but can't aim it. It used an area of effect eye, causing fear, to deal with Elrae. Now it decided to retreat, knowing it could keep everyone stuck on the other side of the chasm with the antimagic ray while it slipped between the columns and out of sight. ]
"Damn you Emyn! Who's side are you on bringing that torch across the chasm and blinding us?! We had a chance to kill the beholder while it was blind, but now you have blinded us as well," Berenn curses! "I wouldn't worry about Gotrek at the moment Manny. If we survive, my rope of climbing will be able to retrieve our fallen friend." Berenn remains covered until his eyes adjust again.
"It's wounded and blinded," says Emyn. "Let's go beholder hunting!"
"That Beholder is injured, 'tis certain," Thorgrim says. "I don't know if it's a good idea to chase it through these tunnels, but our best chance of killing it is now. If it's wise it would just withdraw. But if we can surprise it, it won't be surprising us later. A horrible opponent to leave lurking and licking its wounds. Isilme, what thinkest thou?"
"We should leave this place," she says quickly. "Before it brings help...." She lets that hang out there, in case the thought of a single beholder isn't enough to strike fear into the rest of them. She can't believe they want to actually follow after it!
"I doubt that Xakrarloth would have gone for help," says Elrae, coming out from the shadows. "It told me that it's spent centuries here with nobody to talk to. It was a servant for many years to the great witch-queen Iggwilv. She turned the beholder into a Death Tyrant."
The thought of fighting an undead beholder is even worse than a normal one, and that settles things. It takes a while, but the party is able to get back up the bottomless pit (I guess it's not really bottomless after all!) and regroup at the shrine cave above. It's dark outside now, and after some much-needed healing, the party decides to rest.
Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:48 am Post subject: Part 29 - The Fanged Maw
Sunday, 23rd of Reaping (582)
The dawn breaks, and faint light enters the upper cavern with the shrine. It's a cool morning, barely over 40*, with a strong westerly wind of about 25mph. It whips up over the mountain, cutting passed the upper entrance with enough force to blow a halfling off the stairs! Berenn looks out and sees a darkening sky. He feels the humid, cool air and knows that a storm is coming....
Oh, and everyone is totally healed. Elrae did not recharge his cittern with Sunfire, because he had no available 4th level spell. All other spells are reset to zero. No invis, fly, nothing. You all are starting from scratch this day.
"Maybe we should stay here until the storm passes," says Emyn, "lest somebody fall to their deaths."
"Nonsense," Thorgrim replies. "We're not climbing down, we're flying. The worst danger is the caves will be wet and slippery for days to come, perhaps submerging lower levels. The sooner we leave, the better." He stands, facing the rest of the group.
"Today is a Day of Destiny. I sense it," Thorgrim declares. He breathes deeply of the fresh air, knowing what lies ahead. "My party, gather 'round. These herbs Hepla gave me are infused with her witchy magic, and she wanted them used for the party's benefit. This one is Bloodkeep. Emyn, you already have some, I understand? And Isilme? Here, Isilme, you could use two." He hands her a pouch. "Emyn, you will do without." Thorgrim distributes a pouch of the Bloodkeep herb to each of the other party members, and to Delaim. "Use it well," he tells him, as he describes its function. [DM OOC: Apply within 2 rounds of injury to stop bleeding; character regains 20% - rounded down - of lost hit points at once.]
He holds up three more pouches. "This one's called...ah, Hepla? It's labeled 'doubles vision, good for archers.' Let's see...Manny, here's two for you. Berenn, here's one for you. There is no party stockpile of Healing potions this adventure, so best to be doubly wary." Once everyone takes them, he nods. "Account for them and use them well, for surely I cannot do that for you."
After that, the party got sidetracked into a long discussion about how to get down the hole again, without using all their magic to do it. Not just them, but another 50 or so Azcral dwarves, it wasn't going to be easy. The conversation devolved into a discussion about weights, mechanics, rope strength, etc., utilizing information from the web, mountain climbing sites, etc. I do appreciate when players get that into stuff, but I did finally have to remind them that this is a game.
[DM OOC: I've told you all I could. Nobody with any mountaineering skill believes you can rope down that hole. Look guys, despite what WE think we know about rope-climbing, it is a FACT that NOBODY could ever climb down holes like these until the late 19th century, with the invention of modern climbing equipment that required the industrial revolution to create! So no, you can't safely rope down. That's why you have people with skills; it's not just to be able to do something, but it also is to be able to STOP you from doing something stupid!]
In the end, they decide it is better to enter the main caverns below and the group moves back down the stairs. The entire group ropes off, and they procede down the treacherous outside steps. The gargoyles do not reappear.The party moves "as a whole" back down the mountain. At the bottom, they come once again to the skull-carved entrance to the caverns.
They also meet up with the rest of the dwarves, who seem to be all healed up from their previous encounter with the weird chimera creature. It's not yet midday.
"Let's not waste time," says Emyn. "We should enter without delay and explore this foul place."
The cavern beyond the maw is 40' wide, 70' long, and over 20' high in the central area. It has obviously been used much in the 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.
Gilhak, second in command of the Azcral dwarves, will stay at the entrance with 20 dwarves. That leaves half the dwarves under Delaim Steelfist with the party, while you have a sizable force holding the entrance area behind you. Isilme casts Farspeaker, and hands out the boxes. [DM OOC: The spell is a bit confusing in terms of the box sizes, so I'm going to with a new size, they are 8 cubic inches. That's a 2x2x2 cube. It comes out to 8", which is I believe what the spell was intended to be. :) They will last for 10 hours, so that should be a good amount of time. Delaim has one of the boxes with his dwarves. That leaves 8 more. Isilme will have one, of course, which leaves 7 more. I will assume Isilme had 10 boxes made; I don't think they are listed on her sheet. Tempus, just add 10 boxes somewhere and subtract 1000gp. Also, denote who has the other 7 boxes, so we know. In addition, I need your marching order, and keep lighting in mind. Sir Godwynn and Thorgrim have continual light on demand, with their shield and eyepatch. Everything on my end is done.]
Isilme and Manny are out front scouting. They are both elves, both have good infravision, and both can be very stealthy. So, I am moving them forward, just to get something posted. The rest of the party and the dwarves should be following behind. Marching order is: Thorgrim/Gotrek, Emyn/Miri, Noot/Berenn, Elrae/Sir Godwynn. The Dwarves can maintain a distance to retain their infravision.
The cavern heads down into the mountain, hewn steps wet and slippery, as it seems water has made it down here over the years, but otherwise easily used. It turns around a few times, eventually leading to a well-built stone entry chamber. It is a 20x20' chamber, with one passage heading out the other way. [Squares are 5' I also set up the lighting to show the entire wall, so there shouldn't be any confusion regarding where the FoW ends and such. We'll see....] This seems to have most likely been a guard chamber, though it's otherwise empty now. Not much would survive 5 centuries of the cave's damp conditions.
The thing that Isilme and Manny quickly note is the floor. It is tiled, or was, but the tiles have been turned to mud throughout this chamber and leading north, and then turned back again. You can tell, because there are some spots where the tile shows forth, but the rest is like it was melted. Some strong magic was used here! Further, there are footprints in the tile-mud-stone floor, leading away. Two large depressions in this chamber are roughly shaped like some kind of creatures, what is impossible to tell. It looks like somebody cast a rock to mud spell, and then turned the mud back into stone, trapping something. The footprints show that somebody went through here before the ground was changed back. There is no trace of the creatures or any remains of them.
Further ahead, the north passage branches to the right. Further ahead it opens into another chamber, this one with a smashed statue of some sort at the far end as well as what looks to be an open sarcophagus. The party moves inside....
The area just inside is deserted. Straight ahead is what looks like a small chapel or shrine of some sort. There are two sarcophagi within, one to each side. The one to the right is open, the lid twisted sideways. Further, there was a stone statue ahead, but it lies in battered pieces. There is nothing within the sarcophagus to the right, the lid of which shows what looks like a tall thin man on it, though the head seems wrong somehow.
To the right is another chamber, though its use is lost. There is a large pile of timber in the corner, which is does not look like it ever belonged here. It seems more like it was gathered and stacked here.
There are two passages leading out from this chamber, one to the north, through a set of open double-doors, and one east. Both have side branches about 20' down them while the main passages lead to steps going down to other chambers. Manny can see a table in the one to the right, while there is a large rent in the floor of the north passage. There are double doors there (as there were leading to that passage), which are open.
They check the other sarcofagus, but there's nothing strange about it, not that you can see anyway! Down the hall from the next chamber, Manny and Gotrek then see something very creepy come around the corner from the side passage. It's a carrion crawler!
Gotrek charges and cuts the head off one with one chop of Goreblade. As it dies, two more come out of the left chamber. One crawls along the wall and ceiling, hanging down and attacking him from above. He is hit by four tentacles, and is paralyzed!
Upon hearing the shouts, Emyn runs towards the others, making his way passed Manny and down the passage. More carrion crawlers come out from the both passages beyond Gotrek, but Emyn yanks the paralyzed dwarf out of the way, sending him sprawling to the ground behind him. He then takes myriad hits from the tentacles, but they are unable to harm the Chosen of Trithereon! [DM OOC: As a Guardian, he is immune to paralysis!] In all there are 5 more carrion crawlers. They cannot get passed Emyn, nor can they paralyze him, and he eventually is able to slay them all. I'm going to skip the combat, since there's no point.
New map of Gotrek and Emyn's two chambers. I'm going to go without lighting until we need it again. It's easier this way I think. I'm also not going to keep giving full views of the progress map. You can see the updated one constantly in the Maps thread. What I'll keep posting here are smaller, zoomed in maps.
Looking into the other room, Emyn notes that it looks like it was a sleeping area for orcs. There are some piles of fur beds and broken stuff; it looks like there was a fight here, and the sword wounds on the orc bodies shows they lost! Gotrek notices the same thing in the next chamber with the eating table. The carrion crawlers seem to have been eating the bodies too.
Emyn says, "We should make haste. THe expedition we were originally seeking may have come through here or the agents of the Old One. Either way, they may have cleared a path we can follow. If it is teh expedition, we need to aid them. If they are enemies then we need to move forward before they gain a decisive advantage."
"Let's explore the hallway to the east of the dining room," says Emyn. "It looks like there might be some small rooms of to the side before we head elsewhere."
Manny comes out of the open doorway from the passage going north. "I see another body up that way," he says.
Thorgrim casts Remove Paralysis on Gotrek, then helps up the angry dwarf. Gotrek grunts, and look around fully at the carnage caused by Emyn. "Well done, laddie!"
The party then continues. The passage branches left, before continuing a bit and turning north. The branch leads to a circular chamber with a perfectly circular hole in the center of the floor and the ceiling. Both have heavy grates blocking them. The main passage leads to another set of stairs leading down, this time to a closed door.
Noot is eyeing the larger, double-door hall, while the rest are in the chamber with the pile of timber, where light from Sir Godwynn's shield reveals the chamber's details. This looks to have been an antechamber, with odd images of hags and things likely dear to with Witch Queen Iggwilv decorating them.
"Everyone should gather back up and pick one passage since we have three to choose from," says Berenn, a hint of frustration in his voice. "I would think the antechamber would be a good starting place." Emyn nods in agreement, and the rest of the party follows.
"Remember, we've a Beholder floating about, and worse, I'm sure," Thorgrim says. "This chamber seems like the one above, and may be the beholder's way here, though why the bars?" As the party leaves the strange chamber, Thorgrim takes Delaim aside. "Delaim," he says quietly, privately. "I beseech you to let us use our god-granted powers first in every fight. It has been the key to our long success. Clanggedin has imbued me with a massive arsenal of spellpower, the sign that He favors my path."
"Together we shall prevail," responds Delaim resolutely.
"I've never done this with a contingent," says Thorgrim doubtfully, but a look from Delaim reassures him. He thinks immediately of Dorob Kilthduum, and figures this excursion will give him excellent experience for his trials to come.
The passage north leads to a 4-way intersection. The passage to the left is blocked by a wide pit, maybe 20' deep. A large hallway to the right goes down two flights of steps to a large door with some strange locking mechanism. A charred body lies on the steps just in front of the door. The passage to the north continues to another closed doorway.
"There's your trap," says Thorgrim. "We'd better have our thieves do all of our scouting, finding traps."
Noot notices that there are spikes driven into the walls to jam the floors open. "Somebody tripped this," he says, "then spiked it open." He looks inside, noting nothing except an empty hole 20' deep. "Least there's no poisoned spikes or snakes or snakes with poisoned spikes!" he jokes, turning back with a smile. Manny then checks out the burned body. It is VERY badly charred, but it seems to have been an elf.
"It appears as if our advantage of reaching Iggwilv's Horn first has been squandered," says Elrae. Looking across the pit, the next chamber to the left seems to have been a training room, as there's an old wooden pell in the center. Emyn circles around to that side and reaches the old training room. There are two ramshackle weapons racks in the corners, with nothing but rusty-looking stuff no real warrior would touch. It seems the orcs used the thing a bit, but there really aren't many newer scrapes on it to indicate it's been used recently. The hallway continues on to the north, passed a rubble-strewn section of corridor, before reaching another 4-way intersection.
Emyn then returns, not wanting to get the party separated again. He sees the charred body and says, "Is there any way to tell who this poor elf was? I wonder if he was a member of the expedition or an enemy. I would think his comrades would have at least given him a proper burial but he was left here to rot"
"It's definitely a Highfolk or Vesve elf," says Manny. "I think I may recognise him. I suspect the elf was Loren from Vesve. A skilled scout and a one-time traveling companion. I don't believe he was as skilled as I or you, but he had an uncanny knack with magical traps. Somehow I don't think it was a trap that got him.If it IS him, he was a scout, which means he may have been hired by the Velunese expedition. He wouldn't have willingly worked with the Old One's people."
"Then this is good news," says Emyn. "They did manage to get here. The only question is where they went. I do find it odd they left this poor soul like this though."
[DM OOC: Well, there's no much left of him.....]
Meanwhile, Noot inspects the north door, but a powerful magical effect forces him back from it. "This door is warded," he says, looking back at it. Berenn check the door and is able to determine that the glyph is Raoist in nature!
"Might Sir Godwynn be able to gain access given his faith?" asks Emyn.
Sir Godwynn approaches. "Shield your eyes," he says, and as everyone does, his shield illuminates with the Holy Light of Faith. He strides up to the door and pushes it open.
This small chamber seems to have been a storeroom of some sort. Within are three bodies. The largest is a mountain of a man, wearing the livery of a paladin of Heironeous. One is a priest of Heironeous, this one wearing the robes of an Inquisitor. The third is a dead soldier wearing chain and shield; his armor bears the symbols of Rao."
"Do you recognize them?" asks Berenn.
"Yes," says Sir Godwynn sadly. "The paladin is Sir Marcel Lamoreaux, of Furyondy. He was well known as a towering defender of the righteous who was knighted for heroism on the field of battle. The soldier, his name was Bryce, and he was one of the guards that accompanied the Velunese expedition." He looks back towards the rest of the party. "The Velunese expedition most certainly came this way."
[DM OOC: I guess I have to fill you in on stuff, because you clearly didn't pick up on any of it! Some of that is the nature of our medium, so I'll just help you out! It is clear that the Velunese made it here, and they fought more than orcs. The rock to mud in the entrance is not something to be wasted on orcs. Further, there was a large depression in the ground where the rock to mud trapped something after being changed back into rock again. Whatever was trapped disappeared, so that's certainly something worse than a mere orc. The broken statue in the crypt chamber was a stone golem, destroyed by the Velunese when they entered. It activated when they opened the sarcophagus. The orcs were just living in here, staying out of trouble maybe. They were just orcs, and were slain rather easily. That catches you up to where you are.
Evidently, the Velunese took some casualties, which included a priest of Heironeous, a soldier, and a powerful warrior. Sir Marcel Lamoreaux was actually not a paladin but a 5th/7th Cleric-Fighter (Cavalier) of Heironeous. There was also the dead elf, which was a mid-level thief, a scout that Manny recognized from Highfolk. So, they ran into some tough foes/traps, for sure. This isn't an organized fortress place, for Iggwilv's empire collapsed five centuries ago. What you have are the remnants of her evil, along with whatever other baddies moved into the place either from outside (like the orcs) or from the Underdark. So, there's no telling what you may face in here. The only good thing so far is that there's no indication that the Iuzians have made it here yet.]
Posted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:53 am Post subject: Part 30 - Through the entrance halls
“We have found one door blocked by Raoist Wardings,” says Manny, taking in the scene, “behind which were deposited 3 bodies. Near there is a dead elf, tentatively identified as from Vesve/Highfolk in front of another door. The odds are that the elf died AFTER the ones in the room (otherwise he would have been there too). We should sort over the bodies, cast Speak with Dead, deposit bodies in Thorgrim's hole. If we are going to cast the spell, I would suggest the elf, he probably died later and is not in a protected location.”
He notices the look of distaste on Sir Godwynn, then continues. “Checking for potions and scrolls is alright, I guess. Neither are long-term items typically associated with a person. Past that, it feels like looting friends. If we knew they had something on them vital to complete our mission, then we would need to. Past that, it is important to return equipment to family and country to decide on their use.”
“I know no use the dead have for magic, or any material thing,” Thorgrim declares. “Lest they be animated, of course.”
Elrae takes Snowfang, summoning the blade's power to Detect Magic. The following items all glow with magical emanations:
Nothing is identified, obviously, and there's no telling what the potions and scrolls are. They were in a bag of holding on the large cavalier. Also, Elrae detects magic on the door where the charred elf was killed!
As the others seem to relax a bit, Manny continues. “We have two doors on this level we haven't checked. One that the burned elf is in front of, the other back the other way. I think we should try this door as it seems the party most likely went through there. I would also suggest people with fire resistance be up front when we open the door. The fiery blast that took out the elf is not the work of orcs, so either there is some strong monsters here or the Iuzians caught up with them, or both. The elf may have been in front killed by the first blast, or he may have been rear guard and hit by the Iuzians. Finding out if the Iuzians are here would be important, so Speaking with the dead elf seems our best course.”
“I think he touched the doors and was blown back by whatever glyph hit him,” says Emyn. When the others look at him quizically, he replies with a smile, “Hepla has been teaching me!”
Thorgrim attempst to Speak with Dead, but the spell doesn't work. He assumes there is something in this dread place that blocks the attempt. “Maybe even the Raoist wards,” he muses. “Regardless,” he says, taking out his portable hole, “I shall make room within and we will bring their bodies home, for kin and country.” He sighs. “I confess I have little desire to be keeper of a mausoleum for the dead. Should I discard my tools when it overflows? True, she's seen her share of dead bodies in the past. Live ones, too...”
“Know you all that I've a mind to finish the job, now, by fire.” With that, Thorgrim gently but unceremoniously drags the bodies into the goddamned Portable Hole. He stops and looks at the charred elf. “This one stays,” is all that he says on the matter. He mutters a swift prayer and seals the Hole.
“Pack everything up but the scrolls,” says Manny. “Put them separate somewhere and we can look at them later.”
“Aye, come on,” says Gotrek irritably. “We waste time here!”
Thorgrim casts Dispel Magic, and it does not work.
[DM OOC: Just to give you guys a bit of an idea here, any magics of a more permanent nature were likely laid out by Iggwilv herself, centuries ago. Considering that she was at least 25th level, her spells will be nearly impossible to dispel. Base chance to DM is 11 in 20, +/- 1 for every level higher/lower than the original caster. So, that's about a -15 to dispel her magics, meaning you can't!]
[Berenn OOC: Well after reading this ... I don't see any way through the door Noot is at without being roasted. The room the three bodies in was a dead end and the others would be exposed to the ward? Was it obvious what killed the three members of the expedition?]
They have pretty bad cuts, as if by some kind of giant, clawed creature, as well as evidence of being hit by massive blows. Cause of death a combination of severe lacerations and blunt force trauma.
“If there are no suggestions for passing these wards without causing members of the party harm, I suggest we had back to the training room.”
Thorgrim takes out his stone and summons his Elemental to him. “Hulk...SMASH!”
“Everyone else should take cover,” warns Berenn, backing up. “We don't know how much damage this magic will do and what its area of effect is.” Berenn will take cover in the room where the three bodies were found.
Everyone takes cover and the earth elemental goes to smash the door. The area outside the door explodes in such a conflagration that there is nothing left of the elemental when the smoke clears. Nor anything left of the door!
Berenn peers out and seeing nothing left of the elemental or the door mutters, “I guess that worked. Manny or Noot move up and make sure whatever spell was on that door has dissipated.”
This chamber is lit by some kind of continual light, which may or may not be emanating from the central feature. There is a summoning circle, at least that's what it appears to be, in the center of the chamber, with a swirling white light in the center. What this is cannot be determined. Very strong magic emanates from the circle as well. Further, there is a book on an altar of sorts across the chamber. It lies closed. [DM OOC: Ignore whatever is in the top-left corner, as it isn't actually in this room! Just part of this map I'm using!]
Emyn moves forward to get a better look. “Thorgrim, your elemental's sacrifice was a great one,” he says.
"Indeed..." Thorgrim murmurs. He seems to have something else on his mind.
The Avenger looks at the summoning circle and focuses his mind upon it to determine if it is linked to great evil. He detects nothing.
“Noot, check for traps,” says Berenn.
Noot looks back, “Go in there?” He shakes his head, “It's bad luck to enter a wizard's room.” Of course, he then enters. He doesn't blow up. He doesn't find any evidence of traps within, and there is plenty of room around the swirling light circle to get to the altar. He moves that way, checking the floors and walls but finding nothing dangerous. “Well, except that,” he adds, pointing to the magical (not necessarily summoning, just a magic circle of some type) circle. “Though I'm sure it is perfectly safe.”
“As long as we don't touch it,” warns Manny. He then checks the other side, around the circle. Next check the altar, and the book. The book especially. Way too many things like this are trapped. As he does, he finds no evidence of traps of any kind.
“Circles like that, in my experience, are to keep something in,” says Thorgrim. “Crossing it means it can hurt you. Worse, if you break the pattern, it gets out. I don't know what is in there and don't want to find out the hard way.”
“Nobody touch nothin'!” orders Berenn finally, broking no argument. We should probably check the altar for magic / evil. So have Emyn and Elrae move up.”
"So Manny, ye thinks going to the altar will unleash a dark evil, presently encased in powerful magic?" asks Gotrek. He looks at Thorgrim. "Me friend, look yonder, give me your magical and religious expertise on the matter. If ye think there is a chance we can accomplish something here by approaching the altar, I will volunteer." Gotrek grunts. His thoughts now go inward, and he says a small prayer to himself.
"Gotrek, you are brave," Thorgrim says. "I will not see you sacrifice yourself as the Elemental did. I predict that book is a book of evil spells, and should be destroyed. I predict that any tampering may break the circle and release the evil power we see contained within."
Thorgrim strokes his beard, contemplating. "These magical wards are terrible in their effects...far beyond anything I could create. I would say we leave this room alone, or destroy it by fire. I would hesitate even holding a torch to that book, for fear of the effects. I do not think the other party came into this room. I think they triggered the fire trap, then triggered the pit trap in their escape. Let's move past this, returning here only if we must."
He stops, and says, "If evil it be. Isilme, how could we determine? These evil magicks are beyond my ken."
Isilme inspects the circle. “It seems to have something to do with the Elemental Plane of Fire,” she says. Isilme knows this because she has a lot of knowledge of the Inner Planes. The book is a red book, and it looks kinda like Isilme's salamander gloves. "Maybe it's made from something from the Plane of Fire?" she wonders aloud.
"Explains the fire blast,” says Manny. “So this is likely a guard or an experiment Iggwil left. If a guard, it looks like it is for the book. If an experiment, the book may detail her work. To touch the book may release the guard. This much guarding would imply the book is important, though."
Thorgrim casts Resist Fire on Noot, who along with the Ring of Fire Resistance goes and takes the book off the altar. Nothing happens! He walks over to the rest of the party. "Now what?"
Before anyone can say anything, Noot opens the book, flips a couple pages, then holds it out for Isilme. "It seems to be a spellbook or something."
"Any spells you recognize?" Thorgrim asks as Isilme takes the book. She shakes her head, as much to Thorgrim as to Noot for being so reckless.
“No,” she replies after a moment. “I see something about the Elemental Plane of Fire and gates, but without doing some serious study I won't be able to fully say. Suffice to say, these are NEW spells of which none of us have ever heard.”
"We should take the book and leave,” says Berenn. “Just watch the circle as we are leaving in case something happens to it once we take the book."
The party leaves, a sigh of relief audible from nearly everyone as they safely exit, happy to leave be whatever else was in the chamber. They then return to the northern hallway with the crack in the floor. The crack leads down into darkness. It is not a straight drop, but it twists and turns going down. It does seem large enough for a person, but not necessarily comfortably so. It seems this may be where the carrion crawlers came from. Continuing north, you head through the double doors and enter another large chamber. It looks to have been some sort of waiting room, and a large fountain, still pouring forth water, dominates the north wall. Exits lead to the north and west. There are more signs of a fight here, as you see the dead bodies of more orcs. Three are in this room, and you see another in a chamber to the west and one to the north.
Miri says," let's bring up a pair of dwarves to secure this room.". She goes to the captain and requests he redeploy two of his troops to guard this room.
The party continues on after Miri returns. There is a chamber to the south which looks like it was a storeroom. There's nothing of value there now. To the left is a leader's chamber, evident by the nicer remains there. A dead ogre warrior lies on the ground there. To the north is a passage with three ways to go: west, north, and east. To the east is a 4-way intersection, with a door in the far east section.
Miri will go over to the leader's room to back up Noot, she kicks the ogre's sword and any other weapons he might have away from him. “Yes he is dead but no sense taking a chance,” she says when Berenn rolls his eyes. "Noot, search here well, I've got your back."
Noot finds nothing of interest, and the room looks like it was looted. Meanwhile, Gotrek moves to inspect the eastern doorway.
There are three chambers that you can see from the intersections. To the northwest is an old throneroom. A dead ogre lies in the center of the chamber. A sleeping chamber with mats for a half-dozen lies to the north, evidently where the orcs were sleeping. There is a final chamber, an old library, to the northeast. Nothing worthy seems left of the library except the stone statue of a warrior in the center. There are some intact books, but most are falling apart and already have been burned by the orcs which were living here. There is a locked door at the end of the east corridor.
Manny advances quietly to the edge of the throneroom and checks around corners, just to see what the room layout is. It is about 25x40, with a raised platform to the left with a throne upon it. A broken statue is in the corner, as well as some other statues of some kind of aquatic dragon things which flank the throne. An ogre lies dead in the center of the chamber, and a couple more orcs are dead too. There's an exit to the north, a cave curing off into the darkness.
Meanwhile, Noot checks out the orc chamber. There is nothing of value in either room; the orcs just had a bunch of junk. Noot leaves and checks out the door to the east. It is just a normal wooden door, but it is locked. Noot checks for traps, but finds nothing.
“Stand aside,” says Gotrek, who attempts to smash the wooden door open with Goreblade. Though a seemingly wooden door, Goreblade bounces off it like it were steel. Gotrek's not going to get anywhere smashing this one! He is also racked by an electrical discharge [44!]
“It looks as if magic has locked it, maybe magic will open it,” says Miri.
Emyn says, "Elrae, be a good chap and passwall us into this chamber before Gotrek kills himself?"
Elrae does that, and opens a wall through to another chamber. Gotrek enters. It is another summoning chamber of some sort. There are strange glyphs all around the chamber, and in the center is a swirling, ashen sphere. [Ignore the light thing in the image. All that you see is an ashen sphere.]
Emyn will move to join Gotrek and attempt to discern whether evil is within this ashen sphere. He cautions the dwarf against touching the sphere. "Good thinking," Thorgrim says. "I shudder to remember what you released in the Fane." He looks at the sphere again. "Elemental Magic is at work, here. First, fire. Now, lightning. I expect water and earth, next. Or cold.” He scratches his beard. "I wonder if these are trapped elementals, ready to be unleashed upon enemies. I don't think we would gain their favor by releasing them. Let's avoid these rooms and move on to the northwest. The dwarves can follow our advance. That sleeping room secures the whole dungeon, thus far."
Emyn agrees. "It seems every time we disturb something like that a huge monster comes out. I do hope they are not in league with Imix's kin.”
Isilme smiles and investigates the sphere. She notes that it is not a solid object. Well, it doesn't seem to be. It is more like a swirling ball of smoke and ash, somehow held into a spherical shape. She touches it and finds that it has an solid shell, like a wall of force.
Isilme calls out " I can return you to your home plane, if that is your desire. Speak now, or control the ash and dust to let me know you understand."
Emyn stands there diffidently and says to Isilme, "Is this really a good idea? Whatever is in there is trapped and dangerous enough to have a wall of force around it. Remember, sometimes the bear gets you..."
Gotrek goes to stand behind Isilme, to protect her, if need be, but there is no answer to her question.
"Isilme, I don't like this. Can't we just leave this be?" mutters Thorgrim.
She nods, though her mind races at the possibilities. With nothing else in the chamber, the party leaves, closing the door behind them. They return to the throneroom which Manny found, and investigate the exit. It was a secret door, evidently discovered by the Velunese. Booted prints lead into the cavern beyond. Berenn draws and ignites Bonefire to provide illumination and protection. “Let us proceed,” he says.
The cave is about 5-10' wide, varying randomly, and about 10' high. Kinda normal. It goes about 50' or so, turning down and out of sight to the right. It starts to descend into the darkness; however the darkness isn't absolute. No, it is pierced by light glows from strange crystals embedded in the cavern floor, walls, and ceiling. The floor of the cavern is a hard, crunchy layer of dirt, upon which even the light-footed Manny leaves footprints. There are a series of deep prints leading both into and out of the cavern, booted prints. Far in the distance Manny can see what looks to be another hole in the floor.
Berenn inspects the prints. They are mostly human prints, though there is one smaller set, maybe a halfling. There are some orc prints, but they are older. There are also some larger prints, older still, which are either ogre or giant prints. There's other tracks he can't quite figure out; too much traffic, especially the recent people, has made any definite info impossible to get.
A bit down there are some branches to the cave, both from the right side. One goes up while the other goes down.
The first passage ascends while the second descends. "It appears the Veluna party went this way," says Berenn, noting the footprints. “The same number seem to also have returned, so I doubt there is any point to going that way. They continued onward,” and so does Berenn.
Meanwhile, Manny checks out the hole, he notices that it is ringed in solid crystal as well. Looking into it, it seems to shimmer slightly, and then emerging up from the hole are a half-dozen large crystal spiders, each about 5' wide! They attack Manny!
Some spiders are doubled up, but there are about 6 down there. Everyone else is where they are shown on the map.
Two of the crystal spiders move up, climbing through the hole they shimmer as if passing up out of water for a second before slamming Manny with their hard legs for [13 and 11: 24 total!]. He is knocked backwards, tumbling to the ground as more come crawling up out of the hole. Another hits him , while another misses. Two more continue up passed him and attack Gotrek, but both miss.
Manny tumbles back away from them, then rolls by Gotrek and finally comes to rest along the far wall. His nose is bleeding from one of the blows, splattering drops along the floor as he moves. Ignoring it, he draws his weapons weakly, back to the wall.
There is no room for anyone else to get closer, but Miri and Emyn move up behind Gotrek, ready to assist if they see an option. For the now, they just try to stay away from his axe!
Gotrek then hits twice, doing [22 and 20: total 44]. Goreblade takes mighty chunks out of the creature, sending crystal shards flying with each hit.
Noot stays in the southern passage, watching the way below. Isilme and Berenn are watching the party's back. Everyone else is stuck behind Gotrek and unable to do anything. Sir Godwynn moves up to support Gotrek if possible. Berenn moves up and casts CLW, healing 8 of Manny's wounds, as well as his bloody nose!
As you can see, the passage is only a bit over 5'. There's no room for two to fight, so Gotrek holds the line alone. Everyone else is as shown.
Gotrek is attacked by three, one of which hits him for . One crawls over the ceiling, then attacks Miri hitting her with a leg . Miri hits hers twice [19 and 13: 32 total]. Gotrek hits his twice [22 and 21: 43 total]. It shatters, crystal and gemstones flying everywhere!
Berenn casts another CLW on Manny, healing 8 more.
The two in the rear then do something totally unexpected; they merge together to form a massive, 10' wide spider!
Gotrek swings Goreblade, but it just glances off the crystalline creature. Two attack him, with one batting him with a strong leg . One attacks Miri, missing, and Miri misses. Then, to everyone's surprise, the large one just walks right through the wall of the cave! It then emerges back between Berenn and Manny. Its great bulk simply pushes those near it out of the way as it flows out of the wall as if the wall of the cavern isn't even there!
Gotrek misses with his second swing, while Miri scores a hit for . Emyn begins cursing about how he is unable to help as he tries to get at the spider close to Miri.
"Yarrgh!" Thorgrim shouts. "What's this?" He attacks the large spider twice with Souldrinker.
Elrae yelps "What the bloody nine hells?" He tumbles away from the giant crystal arachnid and casts magic missiles.
Noot: "Maybe I can shatter it with a rock" He grabs one and waits.
"Hey, anyone have a spell that might shatter all that glass?" Up close, you notice they are not just crystal. They seem to be made up of various minerals, especially gemstones.
Sir Godwynn is slammed by the massive spider [34!]. He falls backwards, stunned! Berenn disengages, taking an AoO as he does so . Gotrek is slammed by one  while Miri is also slammed by another . Both stand their ground, striking back. Miri hits twice [12 and 14] while Gotrek hits his twice [16 and 19].
Thorgrim sidesteps, swinging at the large one and hitting it  while Emyn does the same, also hitting once for .
Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting the big one for . Isilme cast Vitriolic Sphere, also hitting it for [43!]. Manny checks Sir Godwynn, who seems ok, just stunned. He and Noot watch from the southern passage, though Noot spends most his attention on the southern tunnel.
Manny waves his Chaos Stone and yells "Echo!" throwing it at the spider. It hits in the same place as Isilme's Vitriolic Sphere, doing . It takes another  from the acid, and cracks in half, starting to separate again. It actually starts to change form too, looking more like an elemental. However, it doesn't finish the change as Elrae and Emyn hit it simultaneously, one with Magic Missile for  and the other with his mace .
It hits Thorgrim  after Thorgrim misses!
Isilme casts Grease under it, and it slips to the ground. Thorgrim and Emyn then both hit it again, breaking it into pieces!
Meanwhile....Miri and Gotrek use both their attacks on the one attacking Miri, and together they destroy it, Gotrek then taking a step back to fight side by side with Miri. The other two move forward and attack Gotrek and Miri, both missing.
Gotrek hits his again for . Sir Godwynn lies on the ground stunned (for another round!)
Gotrek and Miri both miss, with Miri slipping on the grease. [Actually, it was just a fumble, but I embellished it. It's not Tempus's fault!]
The strange creatures attack, both missing. Gotrek then hits his as Miri leaps to her feet.
Elrae sends another MM into Gotrek's hitting it and destroying it in a shower of gems!
The next round, Miri takes a hit , but her and Gotrek both hit the last one twice, destroying it as well.
The remains of the creatures are weird. You find a combination of valuable gems and metal ore amongst the broken pieces. The gems are uncut stones of various types, totalling 6000gp value. There is also 2000gp worth of platinum, 2000gp worth of gold, and 2000gp worth of silver.
"Well, that was unpleasant," Manny says as he retrieves his Chaos Stone. "At least it worked this time." he muses as he picks it up.
As the party heals, Isilme inspects the hole She finds that the "hole" is completely surrounded by crystal. She also notes the one-time presence of some kind of circle of protection around it, though it is disturbed and clearly no longer complete. In the end, she determines that the hole is some sort of gate.....
Hepla puts a Wall of Force over the hole, and the party retires to heal. After using up some of their many potions, they opt to descend the last tunnel, following the path of the Velunese. Berenn notes that the prints that descend do NOT return.....
Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
I added this map to the Lost Caverns to make more sense. If Iggwilv hung out here, it seems reasonable that she had a more...normal dungeon level created, one where she could do some work, meet supplicants in the small throne room, etc. It had magical guards and wards, most of which were taken care of by the Velunese party which had arrived here first.
Some of their number were slain by the entrance's guardians as well as by traps, and they were laid to rest with wards placed on the chamber to keep their bodies safe until they returned. At the time the party arrived, they had not yet returned.
The party left well-enough alone with the two spheres and the hole through which the spiders came, and they proceeded down the last turnnel, into the Lost Caverns themselves.
Posted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:32 am Post subject: Part 31 – Into the Caverns
The passage goes down, winding around for a bit before reaching a steep section with stairs carved into it. Thorgrim and Gotrek are pretty sure you've gone down another 50' or so. After descending the long flight of steps, you enter another area of level caverns. Though natural, there are plenty of traces of work having been done, parts chipped out and enlarged, etc. A narrow cavern leads off to the left, while the main passage seems to open up ahead into a larger chamber.
The rock formations in these caverns are quite colorful. Stalactites depend from the ceilings of most areas. At the entryway, the walls and floor tend towards drab grays and gray-browns, but further along the stone is red, yellow, green, and blue. Some areas have sparkling mica or quartz, shining, low-value, onyx deposits, or vari-colored strata of minerals that would make the place look like a wonderland in torch or lantern light. There are frequent shelves and ledges, and along these grow strange lichens and fungi. Some of these plants give off a very faint, pale gray luminescence. This glow is not sufficient to see by, but eyes adjusted to the darkness can spot movement within 10' by its radiance. The caverns are quite damp. Floors are slick in places, and characters moving rapidly have a 1 in 6 chance of falling.
You have ignored a narrow passageway to your left (west) in order to enter this area, for you have noticed something on the far wall of the place. Now you see that there are weird faces carved in bas-relief around the walls of this cavern. There are, in fact, six such visages hewn from the rock itself. Each face is by the side of one of six tunnels leading off in one direction or another from the cavern to unknown. Although each face is slightly different from its fellows, all are strange and doleful looking: one has doglike ears, another protuding tusks, a third drooping wattles, etc. There seems to be no relationship between the size of the passageway and the stony visage beside it. Nothing else in the chamber seems remarkable. There are a few stalactites on the ceiling above, a few fallen to the floor amid a handful of stalagmites.
To Thorgrim's left is a tunnel (btw, all are natural unless I say otherwise) which heads off around a bend. Left of Noot is the first tunnel, then going clockwise there's a very narrow one, an alcove, then north of Manny is another tunnel, then the 4th one is to the northeast (where the 6 is), then clockwise further there are two more, ending with the one to the right of the stairs you came down.
Noot advance to the side cavern, checking down that way, while Manny watches the main corridor and covers Noot. Once Noot signals it is clear, Manny advances down the main corridor to check the chamber while Noot watches the side passage and covers him.
Berenn checks for tracks, which is easy in these caverns. There seem to be many recent ones, moving down various paths.
The yellow lines and arrows show the paths and direction of tracks. I also put letters for each one where there are tracks. So, the Velunese went down four passages (IF all the tracks are theirs. There are MANY tracks here, so it's hard to tell and differentiate. However, there are tracks going down AND back in passages a, c, and d. The tracks ONLY go down passage b with none returning this way.
Noot checks out the passsage to the left. It leads to a dead-end cavern, and it is all burned. A fireball seems to have exploded there, and there are many crispy, fried stirges there. You couldn't tell how many, but it was a lot. Looks like the Velunese came down here and ran into this stirge nest, which they then fireballed. There's nothing else there of any value.
Miri says, "Let us go down that one [pointing to path b] very carefully because whomever came here last did not return."
Emyn draws his bastard sword. “I agree.”
“The way I see it,” says Manny, “we have seven passages. Three the other party went down and came back out of, three they haven't tried, and the one they went down and didn't come back. If we want to aid and/or join up with the other party our best choice is the one they went in. Thus, we follow the tracks.”
"Manny makes good sense,” says Berenn.
"Then let us follow the tracks that don't return,” says Thorgrim finally. “It is our surest path unless we are being intentionally misled."
The tracks follow the caverns to the left, to what amounts to a 4-way intersection. There are tracks to the left, angling downhill and curving around to the west, but there are also tracks returning, so it looks like the party returned from this direction. There are tracks leading to the west and northwest, and it looks like the group split up here. No tracks return from either direction.
"Why would they split up?" Thorgrim asks. "Unless they were desperate? Or numerous."
"Which reminds me. I think we should bring up the Dwarves to help secure this area. I've a feeling we may need their help, before the end."
Berenn moves up to the crossroads cavern and checks the tracks, using Thorgrim's eyepatch light. You immediately see a dead roper in the center of one wall which looked like just another stalagmite before. It's clear the other party slew it a few days ago. He also says there are maybe a dozen people; it's hard to tell for certain. All went down the southern passage and back, but only about half went down each way after coming back here. Looking at the prints, he also notes that one of the small sets of prints is missing. There were two sets of small prints, likely a dwarf and a halfling. It seems the dwarf didn't make it this way. He definitely saw the dwarf prints earlier though, in the chamber with all the bas reliefs and the six tunnels. He'd have to go back and look again to see where they disappeared.
He looks at Manny. "They weren't running, either. The prints are balanced and evenly spaced. They simply split up here," he adds, looking to the NW.
Noot and Manny sneak forward into those other tunnels. Gotrek went and checked the southern tunnel, and he saw that it went on for a long while. They move up the two other caves, and do find that they meet back up. They keep going until they reach another southern dead end as well as another cave leading north and slowly going up. The Velunese met back up and went that way. They also find that they camped out in the small dead end cave to the south. Berenn puts his hands to it and finds it to be totally cold, at least a couple days old.
The party gathers back up at the entrance cave. Thorgrim uses his eyepatch to help Berenn track, and he wants to await Delaim and the dwarves anyway. Berenn finds that the dwarf prints went up cave c. They did not come back.
Once the dwarves arrive, Emyn says, "We should follow the expedition with all haste. It is clear to me that they have cleared this area of foes before moving onward. "
"Hardly that,” replies Manny. “There are at least three tunnels they never entered. Anything could wander out of those. They may have gone the wrong route and been trapped or killed. We won't know their fate unless we follow them."
Soon Delaim and the Azcral arrive in the cavern. Emyn speaks with Delaim, relating what they have found and that the dwarf on the Velnuese expedition may have died up that tunnel. He offers to search for the body once the main mission is completed.
"We should clear those tunnels before proceeding anyway," Thorgrim says. "Otherwise, this isn't a secure place for our Dwarven Host."
Isilme tells Thorgrim she is going to take the book we found and stay with the dwarves to read it with her speedreading glasses. We can gain some info, and she can provide fire support to the dwarven platoon. She states she feels she would be of more use to the group figuring out what is going on here overall then crawling about the dungeon mindlessly killing everything that moves and heading down the next passage.
"Thorgrim,” she says, “If you run into serious problems we have the far speakers, I can rush off to assist" She will renew the spell for the party.
"I would thank ye for that, though your skills be sorely missed," Thorgrim says. "I know not what Plan Clanggedin had intended when he bestowed our current host upon me. The plan I must reckon, but the purpose is to help us, I'm sure."
[DM OOC: You will be waiting all the rest of the day, just to read through the book and figure out what the spells are. To learn them so that you may cast them will take the normal time. I will also add that there isn't necessarily anything going on. You guys are basically going through these old forgotten caverns. Yes you have a couple missions but there really isn't anything to get figured out. It's not a murder mystery adventure.]
Emyn says, "Given the news Manny has given us, I am going to go see what happened to that poor dwarf before we explore the caves the expedition didn't touch. Who is with me?"
Isilme looks up and says "hmmm?", then returns back to the book, she seems very excited!
Thorgrim speaks to Delaim. "Isilme desires to search for answers in that book we found. I ask that you secure this area, posting sentries at the unexplored tunnels while the rest of us function as a vanguard. She will need you to defend her while she studies, though her magical powers are not inconsiderable. I would say the Throne Room is more secure, but we'd like her in range if we run into trouble we can't handle ourselves. Isilme has been our savior more times than I can count on my hands, as you yourself witnessed in our encounter with Clonoc." He glances at Isilme, completely engrossed in the spell book.
"I would recommend against molesting her during her studies, unless the need is great."
Thorgrm then moves over to Emyn. "I am with you," Thorgrim replies. "We are two days late. It is my intention we explore all the side-caverns before following the Velunese expedition. It's the only way to be sure."
Thorgrim follows Emyn, and they find that the passage makes a Y. Prints go in each direction, but the area to the right is just a circle. To the left you find a small cave. It has bones scattered throughout it. There is a low mound of dung in the middle of the place, and what appears to be a crushed skeleton of a large creature, maybe an ogre or something, at the south end of the cave. The floor and ceiling are unusually smooth. On the floor just inside are the remains of a strange creature. It resembles a large manta ray; its grayish belly is textured like stone. It is flat like a rug, and half rolled up and tossed aside, but you see many slash marks along it. Thorgrim recognizes it, a lurker.
"It's dead Jim," he says.
Beyond the dead lurker is a small cairn with a tombstone at the head. It reads:
Here lies Bolain Gladdik
Wayfinder of Clan Bargrin
Gotrek grunts. "Thorgrim, do ye know of this fallen warrior's clan?" He then bows down, to pay respects.
Thorgrim grunts. "I do not, friend," he replies. "This cairn is fresh and hastily-made. I believe it to be one of the Velunese expedition, though I do not recognize the name. One of the underlings, perhaps..." Thorgrim says a swift prayer over the gravesite, and trusts that that Dwarf's soul resides with Clanggedin, as he likely died in battle. He prays to be allotted the same gift himself, when his time comes.
Emyn says a short prayer to Trithereon and Clangeddin for the dwarf.
"This dwarf died a warrior's death. One can ask for no better," he says to Thorgrim and Gotrek. Emyn goes back to the main group and says they should make haste now to follow thhe tracks of the expedition. Clearing the floor here will only widen our distance from them and given what we've seen so far they may be in need of aid.
Berenn will start marking the tunnels we have visited. "This could end up being an endless maze. But let us follow the Velunese trail, for now.”
Following the Velunese, you make your way up the passage to the west which leads north to another, very high, chamber. This large high-domed cave is covered with bat guano. The floor is inches deep in the stuff, and you can see many beetles and a few normal rats scurrying away from you as you enter. The sound of flowing water comes from somewhere in the north end of the place. There are a half-dozen large dead bat-creatures in the cave, clearly killed by the Velunese when they came this way. On the north wall of the cave, 30' up, is a broad, projecting ledge. A tunnel leads to the underground river beyond, the surface of the water being about 40' below this opening.
There are spikes driven into the wall of the north alcove, above the underground stream, and ropes tied to it and following a tiny ledge around the corner to the left. Noot goes out and checks it out. The rope is tied off above the ledge, which is only about 6" wide and about 40' above the water. It goes around the point and follows the ledge west about another 20'. Then it goes across the underground stream and down, tied off to other spikes on a large ledge on the opposite side. I had to put Noot in the middle of the stream to reveal this area correctly.
“It seems they forded the river,” says Emyn. “We should follow.”
"Ford isn't the verb I would use, here," Thorgrim replies. He looks at Elrae. "What do you think? Ice Bridge? We should probably save that for when we bring up our Dwarven Host, later. Let's follow using their rope. If you all like, I will test it. None weigh more than me, save the paladins and Miri. We can likely go two at a time, at least, with Miri last. Noot, would you like to join me?” Thorgrim gets out his Farspeaker box. "Isilme, we've followed our quarry to a room full of bat dung. We are crossing a river over a chasm. Thorgrim out."
Manny is a tightrope walker, so he checks to make sure the rope is seated and if it is sound. If no one objects he can make a quick run across if it is, and scout the other end. Then make sure the rope end over there is secure for Noot.
"Manny, Let's do it!" says Noot, agreeing.
The rope is strong and stable. Noot and Manny get across without issue. There's a long passage heading north, disappearing into the darkness.
"No need for my ice bridge then,” says Elrae. “Still I bet when half of us are in the middle crossing, some nasty creature from the depths will try and devour us. It always works out like that."
Manny finds a good place to secure another rope above or below the other. Once it is secure, he runs it back across and secures it on that side. The idea is to set it up so they can balance with one rope while walking on the other. Much easier.
Miri agrees, and she will go next. She also ties a rope around her and gives the other end to the party. “Better safe then sorry,” she says, thinking about the stairs outside.
Eventually, everyone makes it across. Nothing comes out of the water to attack them. The walls don't collapse. Nothing happens. When everyone looks at Elrae, he just shrugs. “Well, that's a first!”
The party heads north, following the trail. The passage leads pretty straight for over a 100'. After quite some time, it opens up to an area with another river. It bisects the passage, the water flowing from east to west, and the river itself is crossed by a stone bridge. At the south end is the stone statue of a man in plate armor, with a shield and mace. In the middle of the bridge stands another statue, this one of a bald man in robes, arms raised towards the north. The passage seems to continue beyond the bridge, but naturally Manny and Noot stopped here after making this discovery. They then returned, “I don't want to get stoned,” says Noot emphatically.
[DM OOC: The image shows a constructed bridge, but it's not that. The real bridge is just a natural stone arch. I didn't have an image of a natural bridge. The water cut a passage under it, leaving the harder stone to arch over it. The main reason to point this out is to tell you that there are no sides to the bridge, as shown in the map. Also, the rest of the party are following behind Manny and Noot, who are ahead scouting. They are seeing this with infravision, so it's not a perfect image, of course. Anyway, everyone else is following behind.]
Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:00 pm Post subject: Part 32 – Stoned
"I could cast Protection from Petrification on Gotrek and let him find the monster,” says Berenn. “Or we could just let Elrae sing it a lullaby....”
“Is there a way to return those stoned to life?” asks Emyn. “It would bolster our numbers and give us some information."
“No magic we possess,” says Thorgrim. "Only your beloved, or some other powerful wizard experienced in Arcana, might be able to do that," Thorgrim replies.
Emyn walks out on the bridge to investigate the statues. "They likely killed whatever it was and moved on," he says. Miri moves up to aid Emyn, she has the mirror in one hand and cloak in the other.
"Emyn, wait!" Thorgrim says. "Don't be rash. They may have killed it, as they did these other lurking fiends. Or simply evaded it or subdued it, leaving the Beholder for us to do the same. It yet lurks somewhere in these tunnels, though one would think it would've learned its lesson."
[DM OOC: Where she cannot see, because the party is not using light. Here's how you guys have been exploring:
Noot and Manny scout in the front, using their infravision. About 30' behind them are Emyn and Gotrek, also using infravision (Emyn is using a ring). Then about 30' behind them are Elrae, Sir Godwynn, Miri, and Thorgrim, all using Snowfang's light. Berenn brings up the rear about 30' further back, using his infravision.
I'm sorry but Miri cannot just move out and do stuff without light. When you guys want to use some light, you have to say so. Thorgrim and Sir Godwynn can provide continual light instantly, but they do not unless you decide you need it. You all have to keep that in mind. :) So, do you want to make some light? ]
Meanwhile, Noot checks around, including under the bridge, and says that there is nothing there. He then stealthily moves onto it, keeping an eye on the statues. He cannot see any details in them, since they are just stone like everything else. He moves across, checking the area beyond. The cave you are following splits into three different passages. He notes that there are no footprints here any longer, though there are some massive prints, looks like a very large creature of some type. Certainly, nobody came beyond that bridge.
Emyn moves up and checks out the statues. They were definitely people. The one you thought a fighter is actually a priest of St. Cuthbert or a paladin. He was wearing plate mail and had a shield and mace, and the shield shows the familiar cudgel symbol upon it revealing that he was a member of the Order of the Billet. [DM OOC: For those who either forgot or simply ignored who they are when I described them before, I will repeat some info here. The Billets are the most numerous of Saint Cuthbert's clergy. Most are lawful good, and they seek to minister to and protect the faithful. These are well-beloved by the common folk. Their symbol is a wooden club. The Chapeaux often come into conflict with the Billets, because the former order wants to seek new converts while the latter wants to care for the worshipers they already have.]
The other looks to have been a wizard, judging from the robes he wore and the wand he carried.
When the others move up (which I showed on the map), they are using the light from Snowfang to see. Sir Godwynn instantly recognizes the priest that was turned to stone. "It is Sir Orsen Dalby," he says. "He was was a noble from Veluna, and was part of the Velunese expedition." He doesn't know the wizard, but he heard they had hired one before departing Veluna City.
Mir puts her cloak back on and puts her mirror away, draws Remorse and is ready to move on. She examines the tunnels, to follow the tracks of the Velunes. She quickly notes that they came this way, but didn't go any further. It looks like they encountered something at the bridge, something that turned two of them to stone, then that's it. Berenn moves up, and he finds that there are some footsteps on the other side, but it's hard to tell anything because it looks like there was a fight. The steps then go back to the bridge or to the water and disappear. There is also one set of footsteps, the small ones, which leads up the middle passage.
“There is another set of tracks here,” says Berenn, kneeling down and tracing the outline of one. “Whatever they enountered, it was not the beholder. This was a large creature, maybe 20' long, with cat-like paws on hits front limbs and hooves on its hind legs.”
"That sounds like maybe the monster we fought that was like a chimera maybe?" guesses Emyn.
"Well unless the chimera grew a medusa or gorgon head, it is not the reason these poor men were turned to stone,” says Berenn.
"Could be some variant created by Iggwilv,” says Manny. “She was known for that kind of work. The question would be was it gaze or breath or some other delivery? Not meeting it's gaze would only help in one case and be dangerous for the others."
As they look at this, Miri follows the small tracks a bit. The passage they enter turns to the right, narrows, then eventually dead ends. However, about 30' from the end, the footprints go right through the stone wall. It is a straight stone wall. One of the footprints is actually half in the stone, as if the prints were there first.
"More Walls of Stone!" Thorgrim exclaims. "Well, there can't be too many, unless he had a wand. Speaking of which..." He turns to Elrae. "Elrae, let's use your Wand of Passwall to follow. I fear this is where the Velunese party met its end, to be killed and eaten. And the mage, separated from his party, likely met the same fate."
Elrae nods, takes out his wand, and creates a passwall. It reveals another passage leading southeast about 40' before curving around to the northeast.
"We are here to help," calls Emyn before entering. He is followed closely by Thorgrim and then Gotrek. As bright light can be seen ahead, Miri follows as well, staying close to Gotrek. The passage turns around a couple of corners, before you enter a cave with carpets strewn on its floor, rugs hanging from the walls, and beautiful furniture scattered about it. There are plump cushions piled on the floor, the air smells of orange blossoms, and faint music-tinkling bells and chimes-can be heard. A pair of divans stand along the far wall, with a chest of rosewood between them. The glitter showing from the chest is gems. There are stands upon which rest golden dishes and silver bowls. Malachite and lapis statuettes and bowls are everywhere, upon stands inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory, and rare woods. Silken garments are scattered on stools and heaped in chests and wardrobes. A pair of scimitars are framed by a tapestry showing scenes of battle. A great recurved horn bow and a sheaf of very long arrows rest near the left couch. As you complete your inspection of the wondrous place, you note that there is an alcove to the west, draped with a curtain of glass beads and covered by a strangely worked and decorated folding screen. From behind it you hear a high-pitched giggle, and before your startled eyes appears a midget dressed in orange silk pantaloons, an embroidered vest of blue and white, purple slippers with curled up toes, and a large turban of pale purple, set with a deep-hued purple gem. He waves a toy scimitar, bows, and bids you welcome to the "Antechamber of the Garden of One Thousand Earthly Delights."
With that the small fellow smiles, bows, and waddles over to the screen. He pushes it out of the way so that you can see what is beyond. There is a marble passageway some 20' long and in it are two rather comely girls. They are accompanied by a fat, puffing chap who might be a eunuch. He is trying to prevent them from coming out to greet you. All three are dressed in a fashion similar to the strange, hopping and skipping little midget who is now urging your party to follow him into the bright corridor and the sunny garden you can see beyond it.
Everyone is instantly suspicious, as Noot exclaims, “What illusion is this?"
"Illusion?" Thorgrim whispers to Gotrek in Dwarvish. "No matter. You take the big guy, if you can avoid letting him lure you into that corridor. I will take on the harlots and midgets, get them to reveal their true form."
[Thorgrim OOC: Thorgrim casts Rockburst, attempting to catch all of these demons in the area-of-effect. His target will be the archway, as that may be the only part of this illusion that's real.]
"Thorgrim, should we not determine their intent first?" says Emyn.
"It's clear enough," he replies curtly.
Berenn takes out his scroll of True Sight, but before he can read it one of the women bang a hanging gong. Another one gestures and the ground at your feet suddenly turns to mud. Simultaneously a wall of stone appears behind you sealing off the cavern and dividing you from the rest of the party.
Thorgrim does not sink, thanks to his ring of Water Walking. However, Gotrek, Miri and Emyn sink right into the mud. Berenn will use his Yatil Wand to "zoom" himself out.
Thorgrim, realizing what is happening, springs into action. He runs toGotrek, attempting to grab his hand before he sinks into the mud. "Hang on to me," he says, as he roughly yanks his spidersilk rope from its tether, and hands him an end while he loops the rope around his forearm three times.
Berenn sinks, fumbling for his wand of zooming, which he then uses to "leap" out of the mud. He ends up "zooming" out and across, then dropping lightly to the ground. Gotrek and Emyn just sink! glub...glub...
Elrae and Sir Godwynn move up in the darkness, using the light of Snowfang to find their way. Eventually they reach the "new" wall of stone and stop there. Noot follows, and Manny is about to follow him when he hears a loud roar from back along the passage to the NW......
The female dao (yeah, that's what they are!) disappears. The two others laugh at the others, until Berenn shoots up out of the mud and lands before them. "Well done!" says one, drawing a tulwar. "But you'll have to do better than that!" says the other, also drawing a similar blade. Together they attack Berenn, hitting him for [9 and 20: total 29].
Gotrek sputters, and shakes the mud off himself, like a angry, wet dog. "Methanks, old friend!" He looks around. "Now, who dies first?"
Outside, Manny calls Isilme on the Farspeaker, telling her about the situation. She sighs and tells Delaim they may be in trouble. He nods, takes a half-dozen dwarves with him, and they trudge off along the route indicated by Isilme..... Manny then slips through the passwall created by Elrae and hugs the side. He watches back the way they came.
Noot slips all the way down the passage to where Elrae is taking out his wand again.
Inside the dao chamber, a huge mound of mud suddenly rises right in front of Thorgrim and Gotrek. It has a huge, amorphous body and long tendril-like arms. It blocks Thorgrim's and Gotrek's way across the mud, and Thorgrim knows he won't be able to get Gotrek passed it. (not without attacks of opportunity).
Meanwhile, Berenn is attacked by one of the dao which misses him.
Thorgrim steps up and throws Gotrek passed the elemental. It takes a swing at Thorgrim as he does this, missing badly!
Miri tries to poke her sword up while going "glub."
Berenn uses his wand to "zoom" back across the mud. He launches himself across it, but finds there is nowhere to stand or grab. Lucky for him, he grabs a handhold on a rock outcropping. He holds on while his legs and waist sink into the mud. He cannot feel the bottom and knows that if he lets go he will sink like a stone!
One of the dao moves up and attacks Gotrek, hitting him . Gotrek gets up and swings back, hitting the dao for .
Elrae then uses his wand to create another passwall. Sir Godwynn enacts the continual light from his shield and steps up to the wall. He stops abrubtly with he sees the mud within and Berenn floundering in it. He is about to step in to his aid when Berenn shouts a warning to him. Rather, he reaches out, takes Berenn's hand, and pulls the ranger back through the passwall.
[DM OOC: I hid Emyn and Miri counters, since neither they nor anyone else know "exactly" where they are, having sunk down into the mud.....]
[Berenn OOC: And here I thought this wand would be useless!]
"Make sure you watch that first step, it is a doozy," says Berenn, taking Sir Godwynn's hand. He gets his Rope of Climbing out to help fish out the remaining party members.
[DM OOC: Also, so everyone understands, I am using the rules from the old Wilderness Survival Guide: Holding Your Breath
Under normal circumstances (with a good gulp of air and not performing strenuous feats), a character can hold his breath up to 1/3 his Constitution score in rounds (rounded up). If the character is exerting himself, this time is halved (again, rounded up). Characters reduced to 1/3 or less of their normal movement because of encumbrance are always considered to be exerting themselves. If unable to get a good gulp of air, these times are reduced by ½. All characters are able to hold their breath for one round, regardless of circumstances.
While attempting to hold his breath beyond this time, the character must roll a Constitution check each round. The first check has no modifiers, but each subsequent check suffers a -2 cumulative penalty. Once a check is failed, the character must breathe (if he cannot reach the surface, he drowns).
Emyn got a breath, but Miri didn't. I rolls saving throws for them to determine this. That gives Emyn 5 rounds to hold his breath before he needs to make Con checks. Miri has only 3. This turn has been two!]
At the end of the round, another large creature, an ankheg, bursts from the mud, emerging onto solid ground where Berenn had just been. Holding its side is Emyn, covered in mud from head to toe! He falls off the beast, wipes the mud from his face, and stands. "Kill them!" he orders the ankheg, as he draws his sword.
Emyn charges the Dao that is on his left leaving the other to Gotrek and Thorgrim. "Don't kill the Gome in the back" he tells them before turning his full attention to the Dao. "Feel the wrath of Trithereon trickster!" he yells as he throw himself headlong into the fight.
Miri continues to hold her breath under the mud....
Elrae takes out Hepla's healing herbs and uses them on Berenn, healing 10hp.
Manny continues watching the caves behind you.
Gotrek hits the dao in front of him . The dao slashes him back for .
Noot helps Berenn with his Rope, holding it after Berenn gets it ready this round. Berenn finishes, getting it to wrap one end around a stalagmite. He can dive in next round.
The elemental attacks Thorgrim, pummeling him with its muddy fists . Thorgrim backs off and tries to cast Protection from Earth but he fails, disrupted by the elemental's attack. Emyn charges the Dao that is on his left leaving the other to Gotrek and Thorgrim. "Don't kill the Gome in the back" he tells them. "Feel the wrath of Trithereon trickster!" he yells as he throw himself headlong into the fight. He hits the Dao . The dao strikes back at Emyn, slashing him for . The ankheg then bites it for  more.
Sir Godwynn cannot do anything, as he cannot cross the mud. He looks very frustrated.
At the end of the round, Manny spots a very large creature down the rear passage. It passes by quickly, going towards the bridge before stopping. It was just a big blur, and now all he can see is its large tail!
Berenn dives into the mud, searching for Miri. Elrae steps forward and points his wand at the elemental, using its Dig power on it. Nothing happens; the elemental doesn't react at all. When Thorgrim sees this, with his knowledge of elemental earth, he starts to think something isn't right. Studying it, he notices inconsistencies in the elemental, determining that it is nothing but an illusion! He cries out a warning to everyone about it, then moves forward, right through it, until he is on dry ground himself!
Berenn finds Miri under the mud. Thorgrim casts Detect Invisible, and he immediately spots the third dao, the female one, in the back controlling the elemental illusion. She stops when she sees that Thorgrim sees her!
The ankheg continues to attack the dao, hitting again for . Emyn then hits again for . It slashes Emyn but misses, and Emyn scores another hit . The dao then backs up against the rear wall.
Gotrek hits his dao twice, while it misses, doing [19 and 15: total 34]. It falls back, reeling from the blows, while missing Gotrek completely.
Finally, Noot notices that Manny is no longer watching the rear. He moves back to where Manny was, but doesn't see him anywhere. He looks through the passwall in the first wall of stone, but sees nothing down the passage.
[DM OOC: Miri is now shown, as Berenn found her immediately. She BARELY holds her breath, [I rolled an 18 on her Con check!] as Berenn grabs her. I have shown the third dao now, though she is still invisible and ONLY seen by Thorgrim. I just want to show where she is.]
About this time the gnome wakes up, watching the goings on. Thorgrim now notices that its hands are not bound; rather, they are encased in the stone wall behind it. The dao have used the very cavern wall to hold the poor guy prisoner!
Emyn and the ankheg finish off their dao before it can do anything. Meanwhile, Gotrek finishes off his with a massive cut of Goreblade, just as it starts to go gaseous. It fails to do so in time, and Gotrek chops it in half.
Before Thorgrim can charge the last one, she sees that he can see her and she does go into Gaseous Form.
Meanwhile, Elrae and Sir Godwynn pull Berenn and Miri out of the mud. Both are covered in the stuff, and Miri takes a huge breath when she emerges. Her face is blue, and she coughs as she lies on the ground getting her breath.
Thorgrim calls upon the power of Clanggedin and unleashes a Flame Strike upon the female dao. She takes 32! Fleeing from the superior power of the group she flows out through cracks in the wall behind her where nobody can follow.
Basically, that's the end of the combat. . Noot is keeping an eye out through the passwall, and he hears some low growling from back towards the river.
Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:07 am Post subject: Part 33 - Chossoes
"That'll send her packing!" Thorgrim declares with satisfaction. He looks about for any more invisible enemies before assessing the party's damage. "We may need Isilme's help with healing before pressing on. I am getting low on spells. And there is an enemy between us and her, as Manny noted. Emyn, see to that gnome. We need to get the party together on one side or the other of this mud-pit." He grabs his Farspeaker box. "Isilme, status. Be forewarned that there is an evil critter between us, perhaps a cockatrice or some other creature that turns flesh to stone. Use caution." He fingers his Potion of Mirrored Eyes to make sure that it's still there.
Thorgrim casts Cure Moderate Wounds on Gotrek and Cure Light Wounds on himself while we get it together. "Berenn, Gotrek's wounds look serious. Might use some assistance, here."
Elrae casts passwall at the crack. It opens and reveals another chamber beyond! The dao is there, back to her non-gaseous state. Thorgrim and Gotrek charge in and with a couple of quick hits she is sent back to the Plane of Earth where she belongs. As she dissipates, she drops a stone jar which she had just picked up. It is sealed with a cork, and the whole is engraven with odd sigils you do not understand. It radiates strong magic. There is also a backpack and other items, the equipment/possessions of the gnome outside. When they are certain there's nothing else there, Thorgrim and Gotrek leave, bringing the gnome's stuff and the jar. Once back in the other room, Thorgrim uses a Stone Shape to free the gnome, while Berenn uses his rod to heal him. This brings him back to consciousness.
Emyn approaches the gnome and says, "who might you be and how did you get here?"
When they are certain there's nothing else there, Thorgrim and Gotrek leave, bringing the gnome's stuff and the jar. Once back in the other room, Thorgrim uses a Stone Shape to free the gnome, while Berenn uses his rod to heal him. This brings him back to consciousness.
Ervil is a gnomish priest of Ulaa, evident by the brown priestly raiment he dons over his studded leather armor after you return his effects. He also has a hammer, footman's pick, and a long knife, all of which he straps on with various belts. He hails from the Highvale, and appears a friendly, agreeable personality, always talking. He babbles on about having joined an expedition of priests and soldiers from Veluna and Furyondy, how they were attacked at the bridge, and that some were turned to stone while the others jumped into the river to escape some dreadful creature. He escaped down this passage and was captured by the dao which were just toying with him. It's really a long, rambling thing, which almost makes no sense.
"Must be a gnome thing," mutters Berenn, thinking about the other gnomes you've encountered.
He smiles at Berenn, then looks around. "So, who are you?"
"Hello Friend," Elrae flashes his ring given to him by the gnome in the tavern years ago. "Can you tell us how you came upon such retched predicament with those Dao? Any idea what's in the stone jar?"
"And how long have you been here?" says Miri. She hopes someone is keeping an eye on the trail since Noot had said he saw something.
He notices the ring and bows deeply to Elrae.
[BTW, I'm assuming that Elrae created a passwall to get into this chamber too, since the mud doesn't go away! We'll say he did and move on! ]
"I met Marius and his company in Highfolk," he says as the others enter the cavern. "They sought guides, and my companions and I obliged." He suddenly looks shocked as he remembers. "Thaddeus," he says. "Is he here? Have you found him? Is he safe?" He wrings his hands, then grabs his hammer and points out the way you came.
"If that's one of the stone statues we retrieved, then he's safe enough, for now. Otherwise, I fear him dead," Thorgrim replies.
"I don't know," he says, looking nervous now. "Two days I think." He starts off back towards the bridge. "We must find them," he says. "This place is dangerous, almost too much for us, and if those foul Iuzians catch up..." He stops suddenly, remembering something. "The monster!" he says. "Have you slain it?"
"What monster?" asks Miri.
"The gorghimera!" he says. "The dao called it 'Chossoes'", he adds. "It's a beast and killed at least two of our group before I fled."
"Gorghimera? What is that? Some foul chimera hybrid?" asks Elrae. "We've dealt with chimera's before. Berenn has a stuffed one back home. But I've never heard of a Gorghimera before."
"Nay, it's prowling about just around the corner," Thorgrim responds. Tell me quickly its powers. I believe I've heard tales of such a beast, but cannot separate fact from legend."
Noot is still watching the passage. He sees nothing but did hear some roaring a while ago.
Thorgrim speaks into the Farspeaker. "Delaim," he says. "Hold fast. This beast is dangerous. Your side of the river may be the best place, for now. Unless we need to use you for bait."
As he does so, Emyn examines the jar. He opens it, and bunch of smoke flows out, swirling and condensing into the form of a genie!
The party went a bit crazy for a bit here. Anyway, let me just sum up!
So, you found a genie. His name is Almisahi Taul'nasam. He was captured hundreds of years ago by the arch-witch Iggwilv, when she was experimenting with inter-planar gates. Her magic, especially with summonings and bindings, was unparalleled. He's NOT a noble genie, thus cannot grant you your hearts' desires. However, he will pledge to perform one service for you, in payment for having freed him from his confinement.
"Emyn," says Thorgrim quickly. "Do NOT use him to send a love-message to Hepla. Instead, have him determine the location of the Iuzians. Or tell us about the traps in this place. Or help us against the gorghimera. He could be a scout."
Ignoring Thorgrim, Emyn speaks to the genie. "It is good to meet you, and I am happy we could free you. Such treatment is aenethema to me as I am an avenger of Trithereon. Your offer to help us with something is much appreciated, and I would confer with my friends before we make a decision. What may I ask are you able to do so that we can choose an appropriate task?"
"Maybe we should just ask him to kill the gorghimera," says Manny.
The rest of the party agrees, and the geniee nods. He will head off to do just that.
Meanwhile Noot notices a jet of flame from back towards the bridge, and there's a loud roar which gets everyone's attention. By the time he goes further to see what's going on, the genie is flying out there in a whirlwind form. The goggimera is on the bridge fighting another creature which Noot doesn't recognize. It looks like a big creature made of plants. [DM OOC: yes it's a shambling mound.]
The genie moves up passed Noot, followed closely by those of the party that can see in the dark. When they get up there, they see the gorgimera atop the bridge, where it is fighting a shambling mound. Suddenly a lightning bolt erupts from the south side of the bridge, flying north and taking the gorgimera in the rear  and destroying the shambling mound, which as it dies you note just fades away into shadowy mist. It was not real!
Behind the gorgimera, appearing in the darkness south of the bridge, is Manny!
The gorgimera breathes at the genie, but the cloud just whirls around in a circle and then is funneled into the stone jar the genie was in. The genie then picks up the gorgimera, spins it around like a top, and BLAMMO! It blows up into an explosion of flowers! The gorgimera is just gone. The genie closes the jar, then hands it to Thorgrim. "You may find a use for this some day," he says, cracking his knuckles and stretching. "1000 years in a bottle leaves you really stiff!" As Thorgrim takes the bottle, the genie says his farewell before shooting up through the ceiling and disappearing.
Thorgrim throws the jar into the river where it breaks on the rocks. As the gas disappears, he says, "Just making sure your prison is destroyed."
The genie nods, thanks you, then disappears as it returns to the Plane of Air.
Berenn will attempt to pick up the trail of the expedition again. They did not go any further. It's pretty clear that they either perished here or fell into the river.
"Surely men in armour would have not survived teh river," Emyn notes somberly.
"The gorgimera would have been a formidable opponent for any group of adventures," says Berenn.
Thorgrim uses all his spells to heal the party. "Getting low on spells," he says. "We can endure one more encounter, maybe two, before we find a secure place to rest. We can't be all beat up at the end of the day, or we'll need to spend a full day resting and healing before pressing on. We're already two days behind our quarry."
The party decides to rest, as they were sorely pressed and used much of their magic. As they rest, they get the story of the Velunese from Ervil. I don't have all the old details handy, but here is a summary:
The Velunese were attacked by Grugach at that island north of Ammsee. They followed a valley to the west, which meant they ended up skirting the village. They eventually made their way around the mountains, getting into a fight with werewolves in the Salach Valley just west of where you turned south at that broken dwarven statue. [DM OOC: You guys heard the howling before you found your way through the mountains via the Azcral dwarves. That was actually set up to be an interesting encounter, but you avoided it. See? I don't always railroad you!] Anyway, they continued up the valley, cutting through the mountains further west. They mostly avoided trouble, and eventually reached the Horn from the northwest direction. They thus never saw the giants isle or the chimera you fought along the causeway. Eventually, they found the entrance as you did, though they never took the stairs up.
Once inside, they fought a demon at the dungeon entrance, which they only defeated with the use of great magics. One of the warriors died there. They then fought a stone golem, which killed another, I think a priest. They eventually cleared the entire entry area, losing their elven thief to a fire trapped door. After this, they placed their dead in the chamber you found and set wards to protect the remains while they continued. You destroyed the door to gain access to the gate room and the spellbook which Isilme has been reading.
The Velunese then reached the actual caverns, where they lost another member, the dwarf Bolain. He was killed by a lurker above. You saw both the dead lurker as well as a simple cairn marking his grave. After this they fought another golem which guarded a chamber with an archway leading down to more caverns. Investigating further, they spent nearly two days battling foul underdark creatures including a huge tribe of troglodytes. Another of their number, one of the priests, lost his life at their hands before the party gave up that area and returned to the cavern entrance. From there they made their way to the mobat cave where they crossed the river; however, they quickly ran afoul of the gorgimera, to devastating effect. There are maybe 6 of the party left alive, and I don't have their names handy. I think they are Doran, Justarius, Marius, Thaddeas, Captain Fallroyce, and Lt. Thatcher. Further, Kelmar and another, I think Sir Darby but I'm not positive, were turned to stone on the bridge.
Listening to Ervil's tale, Thorgrim reaches for his pipe, remembers once again that he's nothing to smoke, and interrupts the gnome with a shout.
"Ale! We need ale! Noot, agreed? Gotrek, help me with the cask."
He looks at Miri. "'Twas a difficult day. I thought I'd seen the last of you, but not if we had anything to say about it. Emyn, I've never been so pleased to see an Ankheg in my life. Your god shows you much favor."
Thorgrim removes his Portable Hole from his boot and lays it out. As he descends the stairs with Gotrek, he says, "Sorry to have so few provisions, and no Gutshaker. I've taken a shine to ale, lately. It's more...social."
"Well then, you weren't with the party when we started this Adventure, now were you? I believe Berenn still has your store fermenting in vats in his dungeon."
He lifts his cask, shakes it. "Less than half-full. I mightn't've needed your help, after all. Still, a half-cask of ale is better than none. I may have to resort to spellpower before the end. Clanggedin has granted me Blessed Abundance...a powerful spell, to be used only on days of rest."
He hands Ervil the first mug.
"Gotrek, you still haven't replaced the mug you crushed. You'll notice these are pewter, so I could at least re-cast the damned things in a pinch. I'd like four more pewter mugs like these, or something different."
"A little for everybody who wants," he announces. "Best keep your wits about you. It's good we could rest before fully expending our powers. Remember the Fane, and the Long Grind." Thorgrim thinks of the beast unleashed by Emyn, and shudders involuntarily. He takes another gulp, and belches with satisfaction.
He looks along the river, then shakes his head. "I see no point in trying to explore the river," he says. "They either survived or they didn't, but we have our own mission as well. We should see it accomplised first."
Ervil looks at him incredulously. "How can you say that?" he blurts out. "They need us, and we're their only hope. We cannot abandon them!"
"They jumped in a rushing underground river in armour!" exclaims Emyn. "I don't hold much hope unless they somehow had magical aid."
Ervil just looks at Emyn with a face twisted by anquish. He opens his mouth to argue, but you can see that his mind is already finding the same answers that he does not want to hear.
Oblivious, Emyn continues, pressing hard. "What do you propose then? Have you found a way to swim in ice cold water wearing armour? If we find them we can help them but jumping into a river won't do it. Mayne we can find the river again downstream by using these caves?"
Godwynn agrees, stepping over to Ervil and putting a hand on his shoulder. "These were my friends," he said, "close friends," but they would want us to press on and complete our mission, THEIR mission, first."
"Maybe I can take a look," says Isilme, returning finally with the Azcral. While the rest of the party stays up above, Isilme flies down the river. I guess it's safe to assume she casts Fly and Invisibility? :) It was at least 100', maybe 200 down the waterway BEFORE you reached the waterfall, including lots of nasty twists and turns and short plunges. Then at least a 200' waterfall. So, it's nothing that a passwall would help; it only makes a 10' long opening.
After speaking into the farspeaker, Isilme also notices movement in the water. She flies up a bit, watching, and sees humanoid forms emerging from it around the island above which she was flying. They are ghouls, and there seem to be dozens of them, maybe hundreds, more than she can easily count! They swarm up around the island, looking for the prey they just heard....
Meanwhile, the party finds the gorghimera lair. This high-domed cavern displays a rainbow of colors on its walls and floor. Even the many stalactites above hang like colored icicles. Various mineral deposits in the rock have seeped into frozen curtains, cascades, and many fantastic shapes. The floor has numbers of humps and stalagmites of varied hue and strange form. In the center of the chamber is a heap of coins and metal bars. This is the lair of the gorgimera, Chossos. There rear of the chamber is a huge pile of boulders that are clearly out of place and have been stacked there for some purpose.
Waiting for Isilme, they find the following: 7,000 sp, 9,000 gp, 800pp, 21 gems, 2 pieces of jewelry. The gems and jewelry I can roll up randomly later. I'll add this to the treasure sheet. In addition you find some magic items: potion, scroll, bag, and horn.
As they collect everything, Isilme returns. She tells you that a few hundred feet along, through winding, cascading ways, the river ended in a great waterfall in a cavern large enough that she could not see the other side. Further, mist in the area blocks vision and the sound was deafening. It must have been a few hundred feet down, based on the roar which would make talking almost impossible within the cavern. She returned to tell you this rather than press on further.
Elrae looks over the items, and you see that he marvels at the horn, eventually recognizing it. It is Ekim Ssen's Horn of Distortion. It was crafted hundred hundreds of years ago, by priests of St. Cuthbert when they first appeared and took their message on the road. It allowed their voices to carry for a mile, thus allowing them to preach to multitudes. It's value was quickly realized by priests of a more musical nature, and was stolen by the bardic-priests of Olidammara. For many years it would appear and disappear, always in the hands of famous bards or priests of Olidammara and Lirr. It's most famous owner was the bard Ekim Ssen of Lopolla, who won great fame using the horn to entertain thousands at a time in great outdoor concerts. He eventually founded the great conservatory of Lirr in Woodstock, inaugurating the very first Wealsun concert festival. The last known owner was Heward, of most obvious fame, and the horn was assumed still with that august personage.
This horn allows the user to project his/her voice without the necessity of screaming to be heard. Everyone capable of hearing can easily hear sounds amplified by the horn for a distance up to 1 mile. The sound is generally not overbearingly loud, the sound being heard by all as if they were standing right next to the user. In fact, sounds will be heard with perfect clarity and equal volume at any distance.
As for the hollow rock, it is easily broken, and inside is a letter, written in Common.
"The small cave was the secret, for in back, hidden by (here the text
is blurred beyond any reading)... and we descended. There was no
certain path, so we (smudged)... and this is told of above, for it is
where Yaim and Brelid met their end. Our persistence paid. The right
way was beyond and narrow, so (writing covered with dark stain)...
-earn lies straight pas(more stains)... -pe the span swiftly to plunge to
doom where the wat- (here smudges and stains obliterate several
lines) ... They were right. It is more dismal here than above. Only the
two of us su- (blotch) ... We pray that the lucky (smudge) is true, for
we are now going to attempt entry fo- (large rusty smears have
wiped out the next words) ... of no help. I managed to escape. Why
did we (here the remaining few words are smeared and unreadable,
save for the last word) ... beautiful."
Also wrapped in the old parchment was a ring which glows magical (since you just did a Detect magic!)
Ervil recognizes the name Brelid. He was a dwarven adventurer/mountaineer from Highport who disappeared a few decades back.
After a short discussion about the cryptic message, the party rests before they continue down the once-blocked stairs.
Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:34 am Post subject: Part 34 - The Greater Caverns
Delaim recommends posting guards here at this stairway you've uncovered if you are determined to go down further.
"Delaim, that's a good idea," says Thorgrim. "Your men have proven invaluable this expedition. Oft has been the time we were ambushed from the rear. You have enabled us to focus our firepower forward."
Manny scouts down the stairs. They are carved out of the naturally descending caverns, and lead down for some way. They are very slippery, with water seeping into them from the caverns above and lightly coating them in a slick layer of slimy deposits. Eventually they lead to an intersection of tunnels, going in four more directions. They all seem to immediately branch again, and Manny can tell this will be a very confusing place. To the north he sees a larger chamber and he edges to the right to check it out. He doesn't enter, just watches from the foot of the long steps.
Water steadily drips from the stalactites of this low-domed chamber. Three large tunnels lead into and out of this cave, as well as several smaller passageways. The still air reeks with a mixture of odors: rotting refuse, pungent fungi, and some even more unpleasant stench. The thick fungi appear deliberately cultivated, for a compost of manure and other substances is spread over the floor. The stench is awful, worse than anything Manny has before smelled.
Noot joins Manny, signalling that he will check the south. He moves that way until the passages branch again. Manny nods doing the same to the west, and finds more and more branching passages. They both return to the foot of the stairs.
[DM OOC: I changed the map scale, because each square on the map is 10'. I had it wrong before, showing each as 5'. :) There is also no sense everyone waiting for Gorn and Olorin to do this. Just say what the party is doing, or give me further instructions for Noot and Manny, your scouts. Otherwise we'll never get anything done. The only reason I am not pushing them ahead any more is that I want to put the decision-making in YOUR hands, not mine. They have NOT at this point returned to report anything; rather, they are scouting alone. EVERYONE else is still up above. If you want them to return and report now, then that works. I also chose to NOT have them explore the area to the north.]
Oh, just remembered that Noot was at the mines by the Temple of the Elder Elemental God, so he recognizes the stench. "Trogs," he says, wrinkling his nose and pointing north [towards area 1].
Emyn says, "There must be something more dangerous than trogs down there. I doubt the gorgimera would fear such a trivial enemy."
"Oh, there be worse things than trogs crawling around down here, surely," Thorgrim responds. And Trogs are not always trivial: remember the great hordes we slew with the aid of Hepla's fireball and Isilme's anvil...neither of which we have at our disposal this time..."
"Then let's explore the trog area," says Emyn. "If anything else it may allow us to learn more of the area through diplomacy."
"Diplomacy with trogs?" says Ervil, shaking his head. "You'd have more luck with the ghouls."
"Then we use our swords," Miri says as she goes a few steps down.
Noot looks around for more prints. He also sniffs around for a better sense of which way heads to the trogs while remembering the killer kobalds. Nothing is as easy as it seems, he thinks.
"The trog smell is definitely coming from the north," says Noot.
Isilme flies invisibly to the north. There is no way to track anything easily here, as there are too many tracks in the floor to tell anything other than there has been a lot of traffic hereabouts, mostly seeming to be trog tracks. Flying north, the are a couple side tunnels which are very narrow, less than 5' wide. The first, very narrow one, leads up while the second, slightly larger but still narrow, leads down through a vertical chute which looks like it can be climbed easily, and has. The smell this way is pretty bad. The wider cavern leads further north, and she checks that out as well.
One look around this gruesome cavern and it is clear that this place is either a crypt or some kind of trophy room. The walls of this vaulted chamber are lined with corpses. A whole ledge of barely distinguishable forms creates a higher tier, maybe 5' above the lower floor. A fresher layer of corpses seems to stand upon the heads and shoulders of those below. The bodies are evidently varied, and were once trogs, orcs, goblins, dwarves, gnomes, humans, elves, and many others you can't recognize. The steady drip of water from the ceiling flows over the corpses and has solidified them into a wall, which reveals they have been here for many decades. The water has also created a pool of water in the northeastern portion of the cavern.
[DM OOC: There are about a half-dozen or more trogs in that clover-shaped trio of caves just above the "1" on the map. Anyway, I didn't want to push Isilme's decision as to try and go in there and charm one when there are a bunch together. She probably can't do it secretly; the others would probably detect her spell-casting. I think she is looking for a lone trog.]
Isilme goes further, thinking this is probably the chamber of a trog shaman or chief, and she flies up over the ledge. The larger passage heads north and turns left, while the smaller one seems to open into another chamber. She goes inside and finds some sort of sleeping chamber with a large assortment of junk piled up, including thousands of coins of all types, gems, jewelry, and a sword and spear sticking into the pile. [Think standard pile of treasure!]
[Manny OOC: From the chamber marked "1". That wall with no breaks makes it unlikely any trogs are up there. I'd rather ask a trog what is behind the wall rather than find out the hard way.]
[DM OOC: It's just a 5' high wall, which is actually kind of a natural elevation change in the cave to a higher level. The northern half is all 5' higher than the southern half. The chamber is about 20' high at its peak. Somebody or something stuck a bunch of bones/skeletons into the side, turning it into a bone wall. Isilme already flew over this northern section and into the chamber to the NE, where she found the pile of assorted treasure. It looks like just a bunch of stuff was tossed into a big pile.]
For now she leaves that and moves back around, following the other tunnel. Strange lichens on the wall caste a bluish shade throughout the area, like a very faint faerie fire. It's actually enough to see by, though it doesn't hamper her infravision either. She follows the tunnel around until it reaches another chamber. There is a tunnel leading south, which goes eventually back to the entrance, though she notes more side tunnels off that one. A tunnel to the west goes about 50' before branching again, and there's another tunnel to the north, which is blocked by a very large boulder and rubble pile.
[Berenn OOC: At least that's one direction she can't go!]
[Isilme OOC: Not really!]
At this time, Manny hears the sounds of distant footfalls from the north, coming closer. He attempts to pin down where they are coming from when he spies movement from the narrow tunnel to the right. (It's the one with the chute going down which is more just an easily climbed chimney). He sees trogs, and they see him!
He speaks into the farspeaker, "Been spotted, moving south to distract them." Tell Noot as I go by, "Hide! Strike from behind."
Manny starts south, while Noot hides in the shadows. Isilme, had just arrived at the crossroads to the north (E) when she hears the call on the farspeaker. So does everyone else, up the stairs back towards the Lesser Caverns. They are about 100' up the stairs, in no particular order. There's no light, except the soft glow of Snowfang so he and Miri can see. None of them are shown on the map, since they are up the stairs.
"The Dwarves and I will be following, in Silence," Thorgrim says into the Farspeaker.
Thorgrim takes a stone from the handful in his pocket and prepares to enspell it. To Delaim, he says, "This is a Silence spell. No speech will be possible for fifteen feet around me as long as I carry this stone, and we'll hear no shouts or calls from beyond its range."
"Best if they don't hear our whole contingent tramping down the stairs."
Delaim nods, and Thorgrim casts Silence. Ahead of them Gotrek and Emyn move down the stairs to "finally kill something!" Miri stays with Elrae and Sir Godwyn, since the three of them can't see without light, and Sir Godwynn doesn't turn on his continual light shield until told. :)
Meanwhile, Isilme heard the last comment by Manny, so she starts to make her way back to the entrance. Coming down the southern passage, she notes a large chamber to the west (area 5 on the map). This large cavern is terraced, and the floors are moist and slick. The floor rises and drops in a manner that makes it impossible to move across the place without using great care. The walls are striated with bands of color, and a vast number of stalactites hang on the curved ceiling. Inside she sees two Umber Hulks moving in her direction. It's likely they heard or sensed the commotion at the entrance....
Back by the entrance, Manny slips away to the south, while the trogs let out a strange hissing howl and charge towards him. Noot slips back and hides against the wall as the trogs rush passed him. Two go south following Manny while one goes west, trying to surround him. Manny reaches another intersection, turning north in an attempt to come around behind the trogs that he lured south, but he almost runs into the one that went west to cut him off. It throws a javelin at him, but he dodges it. The other two rush up behind him, and they too throw javelins, but they miss, slamming hard into the far wall and sticking there, testament to the great strength of these trogs.
zoomed in southern view. Manny has reached another crossroads, but he finds one trog in front of him and two have reached him from behind. Noot is hiding along the wall as Gotrek and Emyn reach the bottom of the stairs. NOBODY else is down there. Thorgrim is coming down next with Delaim and a dozen dwarves, the rest are watching above. Beyond them are the rest of the humans who all need light, and are using the soft bluish glow of Elrae's blade, Snowfang, in order to see their way down the slippery stairs. Beyond them is Berenn, taking up the rear. None of them are pictured, because they are all too far back up the stairs and off them map. The progress map is updated, so you can see where Isilme is. I stopped her when she noticed the chamber with the umber hulks. Noot hears trogs speaking in their strange language in the chamber to the north, but he's hiding around the corner so he can't see in there.
Gotrek can see the trogs to the southwest, so he will charge them. Emyn can only see 30' with Noot's ring, so he can't see any (each big square is 10'). He can peek around the corner to the north and see what's up there, and if he sees more trogs he can block that opening. Noot will now slip off to the west and attempt to backstab the trog that went that way.
Manny rushes the trog, tumbles passed him, and sprints back to the party. He sees Emyn and Gotrek at the foot of the stairs, goes by them pointing behind him, and stops on the stairs when he sees Thorgrim and the dwarves coming down.
Gotrek charges southwest, attacking the two that he can see. He hits one, killing it. Smelly trog musk sprays the area, covering Gotrek, who doesn't even notice! The other trog turns and attacks him, clawing and biting ineffectively. [It needs a 20!]
Emyn moves out and peeks around the corner where he sees a dozen or so trogs. "Trouble right!" he says, then takes up his stance to block the passage.
The trogs growl at him and throw spears, hitting him with 3 [18 total]. Two of these massive barbed weapons stick into Emyn armor at the knee and hip, each causing him discomfort and curtailing his agility. He shrugs them off and holds his ground.
The last trog follows after Manny, but it gets backstabbed by Noot as it passes him. Noot kills him easily!
Thorgrim, Delaim, and the dwarves then come down the stairs, followed by the rest.
The umber hulks follow slowly, attracted likely by the noise. She spots a few more tunnels on her way. Also, Thorgrim's holding his silence stone, so now there's no sound within 15' of him, which is pretty much everyone at the foot of the stairs.
The trogs move forward and attack Emyn. Two throw their remaining javelins, all missing. The remaining charge him, attempting to claw and bite him, but they fail to score a hit. Emyn's defense is simply too good! One tries to get by him, but he slays it with an AoO. Gotrek finishes his while Thorgrim and the Azcral dwarves rush forward. Delaim sends them to watch the various passages, while four join Emyn, two taking out a trog and pushing into the chamber. Isilme notes that one stays back and seems to be the leader, so she flies silently behind him, preparing a charm (for next round).
Emyn continues in defensive stance but ceases parrying so that he can take the offensive a bit. "Come my friends!" he exclaims. "Take courage for the enemy is outmatched!"
The Azcral dwarves rush north against the trogs, and quickly make short work against the last three. The leader turns to flee but is instantly charmed by Isilme, who's sweet voice the rest of you hear as she sings her siren's song to it. "This one is mine," she says, as Miri rushes in and is about to hack it down.
Noot and Manny move up the left while Gotrek and some Azcral dwarves move to the right. They meet at the intersection, not seeing any sign of umber hulks. Manny and Noot notice further tunnels to the left.
Meanwhile, back at the scene of the fight, Isilme has charmed the trog, but it is very difficult for her to control it, especially with the numbers of obvious enemies around it. It also cannot speak your language. Isilme casts "tounges", and calms the Trog down, explaining to her dear friend that her slaves will do friend of hers harm. She the proceeds to ask about the local area so she can avoid further misunderstandings.
Isilme casts the spell, but even so the trog flees back down the tunnel. Isilme follows and at the chute convinces it to stop. She is now away from the rest of the party, at the point where the tunnels starts down a vertical chimney. A few dwarves take up defensive positions, while Emyn, Miri, Sir Godwynn, and Elrae move to the left, up behind Gotrek and the others. Berenn reaches the entry chamber (1) where he stops to talk to Thorgrim and Delaim, who are discussing the next move.
Meanwhile, Isilme calms the trog down, now that they are away from the others. It is intent on heading down below to warn the rest of its tribe about these intruders. Despite it's "friendly" attitude towards Isilme, it is NOT friendly in even the slightest way with everyone one else, and there doesn't seem to be any way she can convince it otherwise.
[DM OOC: Now, this is one of the tricky things with Charm Person. It's a "trusted friend" of Isilme, sure (who is invisible too, btw, for what that's worth). That doesn't mean automaton, as we've discussed many times, so it is going to go and warn the rest of the tribe about this powerful group that just came in and wiped out a dozen of its other friends. The way CP works, it really requires more role-playing to do correctly, and we simply can't do that right now. So I'm not going to try, and I'm not going to waste what time we do have arguing about it either, which usually happens. So, it's NOT going to listen to anything Isilme's disembodied voice tells it as far as NOT leaving; however, it will answer Isilme's questions if she goes with it. ]
Thorgrim speaks into his Farspeaker box: "Isilme, see what you can find out from that Trog, but slay it if you must."
"Emyn, Gotrek, see what trouble you can find, and keep us apprised. We're standing fast and awaiting Isilme's return. Or the alarm."
He lets the box hang by its strap. "Delaim, we may need to bring up some of your reserves, soon. Berenn, you staying here with us? The others could likely use a healer. And a leader."
"What ails our party is beyond my abilities to heal," Berenn mumbles. "But I suppose someone has to make sure they don't get themselves killed." Berenn rejoins the main party.
[DM OOC: The trogs in the clover area were just a scouting/guard party. The rest of the tribe lives below, down that "chute" in lower tunnels. The party is a bit split up right now, but it seems the umber hulks are not coming this way. They were in the area labeled "5" on the map. Isilme can talk to the trog and get whatever info she wishes, pretty much. We don't really have time for role-playing right now, and really, who wants to do that with a trog? So, if you guys give me a list of the "basic" info you want, then I'll just answer it.]
The umber hulks did not appear. Gotrek is leading the group that moved nw to fight them. Isilme is now back, having learned all she can from the trog before silencing it. She reported everything to Thorgrim and Berenn. Everyone else is about halfway up the passage towards where the umber hulks supposedly were. When she mentioned the "grey man" Thorgrim wanted to go deal with him first. The party can now decide on a course of action.
Here's a recap of the info the trog provided:
There is the Grey Man on this "level" and I use that term for you guys; the trogs don't think that way. Anyway, it is a very strong humanoid that kills whatever it finds. The trogs place sacrifices to it in the chamber to the north, the one with the bone wall and the pool on the upper level. These sacrifices are fellow trogs, which they do once in a while to keep the thing from messing with them.
To the west somewhere is the Eye Tyrant. There are also the great doors, but the trogs never opened them. South are very big bad things, including a dragon and a rock man.
In the level "below" is the trog caverns. They are pretty large, and the trog tribe is pretty big, but this trog doesn't have enough a concept of numbers to explain. Just lots!
There are also some other cavern areas which are further away, including a massive underground chamber which has many bad things. Trogs totally stay away from it!
Finally, Isilme reported having seen umber hulks in area 5.
"I am more curious about this "grey man" and not really too enthusiastic about going another round with the eye tyrant," says Berenn sourly.
"I think we all agreed the grey man was the next step," says Isilme. "So let's move it along!"
Miri says, "excuse me, just what do we know of this gray man except that he kills? How big is he? Does he use magic? Is he even a human? Is he strong or fast or what? Sorry to bother you with these questions, I will fight whatever but it would help me if I knew something more about him."
"It can only be evil living here and it accepts blood sacrificies to build a wall of death," says Emyn. "Sounds like it needs killing to me. "
"Good enough for me," says Gotrek, anxious for a fight.
"I agree with Emyn," Thorgrim states. "We'll find what power this creature has when we fight it. These Umber Hulks concern me, though, roaming about as they are. As long as we take these foes one at a time, we should be in good shape."
The party pulls back to the larger cavern, a handful of dwarves watching each passage. After discussing things, Emyn takes the dead trog and begins to move towards the cavern of the grey man. One of the Azcral dwarves which was guarding that tunnel turns, then stops, looking around.
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