This is the continuing adventures of the Heroes of Hommlet. After a long rest, during which the players used an assortment of henchmen, hirelings, and other new characters, they decided to return to the original party. Their original intention was to head out on the road to the GDQ series, but I'll just say now that the quest seemed too difficult, and they turned aside. Actually, they were sidetracked by a small problem with some trolls....
So, with winter finally ending Rak returns, along with four stone giants. They will assist Berenn in the rebuilding efforts until the end of next fall, at which time they will return. Rakk brings some strange news as well. Apparently, their people were asked to join some kind of alliance of giants, though to what end is unclear. His father rebuffed the offer out of hand, and gave it no more thought. However, some of the giants were not of like mind. They were the same which had belonged to the faction that assisted the Temple of Elemental Evil. They were not really happy with how things turned out, nor with the loss of their "leader", so they have taken off to join whatever this 'alliance" is. They left to join a hill giant chief named Nosnra. They seem to be up to no good, and dealing with these hill giants may be a good thing.
"This is indeed troubling," Thorgrim says, stroking his beard before taking another gulp of Gutshaker. "This seems to be a matter worthy of our attention, to defend our newfound allies and family of Rakk, whom I call friend."
About this time Lyseios shows up in Hommlet. "Pardon me for interrupting your conference," he says. "I am heading to Verbobonc for fresh supplies, and was wondering what new potions you would have me brew, before your next Adventure."
[DM OOC: This was an open call for potion orders, which produced mainly a demand for potions of healing and extra-healing.]
The party is going to be leaving officially on the 1st Planting. It will be Growfest in a few weeks. Growfest is not taken as a week-long public holiday, though it is regarded as a time of good cheer with the full arrival of spring. The weather is usually blustery, with cool sunny days alternating with heavy rain. Farmers, herders, longshoremen and other workers prepare for the upcoming busy summer, and merchant activity is high. Growfest 4th, Godsday, is the Vernal Equinox, and thus an important day. It is also St. Cuthbert's Day, the largest annual festival celebrated by those of that faith. Berenn cannot leave his lands until after St. Cuthbert's Day. Thus Starday, the 1st of Planting seems a good target date to leave. That gives you two weeks from Rakk's return to tie up loose ends, for mages to finish their spells, etc..
"What more auspicious day to begin a quest?" laughs Thorgrim. He opens his Portable Hole and withdraws a piece of wood furniture. "Potions Rack," he says, proudly. "Fashioned it meself. An ideal companion for an extended journey, and I can store the party's spares. It renders the Hole unsuitable for holding prisoners or wild beasts. But then it always really was. Oh here I've just come up with a way to make it more sturdy," he says, then returns the object to its storage place.
Hepla comes over and admires the rack. "Great idea Thorgrim. How many will it hold?"
"About thirty," Thorgrim replies. "And I've a mind to fill it to capacity!"
The party gets their stuff together then. You actually have three weeks before you are ready, which will be the 1st of Planting. Just after the Growfest holiday. In that time, the wizards all learn a few more spells, while Thorgrim sees to it that the potions are either made or bought.
Also, while you are just waiting to go, a group of a dozen elves ride into Hommlet. They are looking for the paladin of Ellistraee. Ostler Gundigoot, the Innkeeper of the Welcome Wench is standing outside with his apron on waiting for customers and sees the commotion:
"Ye be lookin fer a paladin, of what didya say.... Elistraee? Ya be looking for our good Lady Isilme then. They buildin a new church to the Goddess up the river to the east, near the small island. You cant miss it, it be surrounded by the most magnificent and beautiful forest I ev'er did see...so peaceful a man could think himself in the heavens. Beggin your pardons of course ye lordships, I am sure the elvish forests ye be hailing from don't hold a candle."
"Seek out Lareth the priest in the small cottage there in the woods, Lady Hepla can guide you and probably help find her....she and Isilme are some of the legendary Heroes of Hommlett ya know!" (his face beams with a prideful smile)
"Of course, if ye be looking for a drink or rest after a long ride, we are the finest inn you will find!" He trails off....opening the door suggestively and hoping to make a sale.
Hepla and Emyn meet the elves, and agree to take them to see Isilme. The elves stop when they see the trees. Truly they have never seen such beauty, even in Celene.
"Yes," laughs Hepla with a giggling smile. "Isilme and her goddess do good work."
Isilme arrives, having felt a presence in her forest. She suddenly appears and floats down upon the rays of the afternoon sun. In ancient elvish she says "welcome brothers and sisters, I am Isilme, Battledancer of Eilistraee, what do you seek here?"
The elves approach Isilme, telling her that they have heard amazing tales of her. Almost as amazing was the news of The Goddess. They had never heard of Ellistraee!
Isilme says "You are welcome here. Sit, rest, and I will tell you of the goddess."
Isilme will spend time with the elves, telling them of the goddess, and when she can, finding out where they are from and what lead them here. She finds out if any wish to stay longer and will spend as much time as she can with them, overjoyed that a few elves would come to see her.
These elves are all from Celene. Word of the "Moriedhelaure," which roughly translates in elvish as the Dark Elf of Sunlight, has spread rapidly around the country. Even for elves, the passage of the news has been swift. They are led by Tári Melwasúl, a priestess of the Seldarine who would learn about this Ellistraee. This has been something almost as momentous as hearing of a dark elf, for the elves appear to have been completely ignorant of Ellistraee. She was, in fact, counted as a fallen daughter of Corellon Larethian and Araushnee, elven goddess of destiny, artisans and dark elves. When she fell into darkness, it was believed that Ellistraee followed her mother. None of the elven priests knew the truth which was revealed by Isilme.
When she was banished along with her mother the few other drow deities for their rebellion, it was assumed she was a willing partner. However, Isilme revealed the truth. Eilistraee had insisted upon this punishment from her reluctant father, because she foresaw that the dark elves would need a beacon of good within their reach. She thus has spent endless aeons waiting to guide her people back to the sunlight world they left behind so long ago. In Greyhawk, Isilme is the first.
Isilme spends all the time she can with the elves. She teaches all she knows of the history and teachings of her goddess, and how she now resides in the heavens of Arvendor. She stresses the importance of opening their arms to their brothers and sisters who would turn from the darkness and return to the light. "Only in this way, can we make our people whole again," she stresses, though she is not trying to gain converts here, and her conversations with them are plain and honest. Just to have elves respect and recognize her goddess is a great leap forward.
The elves are rapt, and they will stay for some time. If Isilme is leaving shortly, they will likely stay with Lareth and learn from him.
The party spends the next few weeks getting ready, until they have an unexpected visitor.
About this time Dymir, archer from the Wild Bunch, finally returns to Hommlet. He is rather downtrodden when he runs into Thorgrim at the crossroads. "I'll tell you over an ale," he says, and walks on into the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Hepla happens to be walking down the street when she sees him enter, followed quickly by Thorgrim.
Keep reading The Keep at Koralgesh to learn what happened.....
Dymir fills in Thorgrim and Hepla on everything that occurred up to the point he left. He then resignedly says, "Black Jay was right."
"What was Black Jay right about?" asks Hepla.
"Adventuring," he says sourly, taking a long pull of his ale.
"Adventuring," says Vaddara, perking up. "After months of studies I'm ready to put some miles under my feet. These fine rooms and lavish meals make me yearn for home." Vaddara orders an ale and the afternoon special. "You going back out adventuring with us?"
Dymir shakes his head. "Four brushes with near death, the deaths of three new friends, and nothing but long harrowing days and cold, sleepless nights. No, I am done. I only hope the other guys have better luck without me."
"Do you know where they might be now?" asks Hepla.
Dymir shrugs. "Hopefully, they did not attempt to return to the gnoll fortress," he says, looking off into space.
"Gnoll fortress?" asks Vaddara. "I thought you guys were going to check out the old dwarvish mines. A gnoll fortess sounds more dangerous than normal. Why in the kingdoms would they go BACK?"
"Well..." starts Dymir. "It was once a dwarven fortress." He then tells of how they entered through the Shrine of Kor, which makes Thorgrim spit out his ale!
Thorgrim coughs, then recovers, eyes wide.
"That must be the Keep of Koralgesh they've entered!" he exclaims, alarmed. "It was the fortress which protected the entrance to Karaduum itself! I told Din to avoid that place! I thought he would be in Thunderstrike by now!" Thorgrim drains the ale from his mug, then slams it down on the table. "If Din's party has ventured there, they'll stand no chance. No chance at all." Thorgrim stands, cinching his belt tight. "He's my friend. He came here at my behest. I have to help him."
Hepla thinks for a minute, "Maybe I can scry them." She tries and sees Toni kneeling next to a dead gnoll, then looking around. There is another elf woman with her and an elven warrior approaches. Hepla is shocked when she notices the arms and armor of the elven cavalier. It is the same which the party took from Caustichlorinus's lair last year!
Emyn says, "I cannot stand by if our young friends are in danger. We must make ready and get there with all haste. Is there a way to scry for some of the missing so we can see how they fare and where we can find them?"
Isilme arrives and joins the party to observe Hepla's crystal ball. She stands silent deep in thought for a while and says "It would trouble me deeply to see any elf fall, much less a noble of the Celene. Yet we must tread carefully, lest we yank the rug from beneath these young adventurers as they reach for glory. Fear not, I will observe and intervene if necessary." She then vanishes.
[DM OOC: Isilme is taking time out to continue her studies, so she will not leave with the party on their next adventure. However, she also has pledged to keep an eye on the Wild Bunch and aid them if necessary. I'm not a fan of the "deus ex machina", but it may be needed with that group!]
"It looks like the kids got in trouble with some gnolls and flinds over near Hepla's tower," says Emyn once he appears. "We may have to help them out."
"Oh, an adventure," says Noot, walking into the Inn of the Welcome Wench. "It's been awhile. I need to see something besides the inside of a tavern."
"If Bree has gotten herself into another situation, you can be assured that it is quite dangerous!" Berenn strides into the inn as well, wearing his adventuring gear. "She never does anything half way."
"Noot Dragonslayer, by my beard!" says Thorgrim who hasn't seen Noot in months while the young thief recovered. "It's good to see you! Be prepared to ride by the morn."
The party spends the evening preparing for the coming adventure, first to check on the Wild Bunch, then to head off and deal with the growing threats posed by the giants.
I forgot to give an update on the party, so here goes.
Cast of Characters
Berenn: Half-elf Priest of St. Cuthbert /Ranger
Elrae: Human Bard
Emyn: Human Paladin of Trithereon
Gotrek: Dwarven Battlerager (will join party later)
Hepla: Human Mage (half Witch)
Isilme: Dark elf Bladesinger/Song Mage (She lost her priestess class and returned to being just a Bladesinger/Song Mage)
Noot: Human Thief
Rakk: Half stone giant Fighter
Thorgrim: Dwarven Cleric/Fighter
Vaddarra: Snow Elf Peakwarden/Wizard-Anagakok
After saying their farewells to the Wild Bunch, the party decides to move on to the west, following the indications given to Rakk that the three stone giants of his clan went that direction. Actually, his clan lives even further to the SW, in the middle of the Lortmil mountains. The three giants (Kragtor, Bolthur, and Ironboard) all left and headed west, to the Chrystalmist Mountains. The easiest path through the Lortmils will take you back through Rastor and then south and west to the Duchy of Ulek. Alternately, you can travel the long way around the mountains, through Veluna, Bissel, and the Gran March.
"It would be interesting to see how the people of Rastor have fared since we left them," Thorgrim says, musing. He gets out his pipe. "Although I hear that short cuts make long delays...hohoho!" He smokes his pipe until we head out. For Rastor.
Rakk votes for thru the Lortmils. He wishes to check on the various villages and see how they fare since the war. Most should have decent militia now. He's been thru the area now twice since then, and intends to pass thru regularly. Or, if you chose to go round, he could visit the domain of his friends in the foothills between Veluna and Bissel.
Berenn doesn't care, although he would advise a route where the chance of running into trouble is minimal. "We are going to have enough problems with these giants."
"Trouble is wherever you find it," Thorgrim replies, then chuckles at his own joke. "Through the Lortmils it is. To Rastor!"
As Berenn heads ahead to scout, Thorgrim reminisces. "You know I lived once in the Lortmils, for some time," Thorgrim says. "Should be a fun trip." He seems uncharacteristically upbeat.
It takes a few days, maybe a week, to reach Rastor, and they will all be rather uneventful. I assume you will be buying mounts somewhere? There are none in Littleborough, so you will have to get them somewhere else. You will reach Castle Hagthar in a couple of days on foot. It takes a day for the party to reach Castle Hagthar. Actually, they arrive in the village, where they are met by the surviving villagers. They tell them everything that happened with the Norkers, Lord Farkaesh and Aghar Nan, etc. The priest of Rao who adventured with the Wild Bunch once now is established as head of the church there. That's Maedoc. However, he's not in charge. There's a military garrison up at the castle now, and they are watching things until the government decides what to do.
Berenn will ask where Lord Farkaesh was entombed, so he may pay his respect.
"He was a good man," Thorgrim says. "I will join you. I would also like to meet with this Maedoc. Hepla, do you think your claim to the Cat's Claw will be respected by this upstart or his peers? They may declare your lands forfeit, and cast your Gypsy friends to the Four Winds."
"I do not know if they will recognize my right to the Tower," she replies. "My deed is at home since I did not plan to stop here. I did not plan to bring it up, unless someone else does."
"They'll likely bring it up when they arrive in force for an eviction party," Thorgrim whispers.
You are told that Lord Farkaesh is entombed in the crypts beneath Castle Hagthar. Emyn will honour Lord Farkeash by standing watch over his tomb for several hours, praying to Trithereon that his good deeds be rewarded in the afterlife. Meanwhile, you are met at the inn by Maedoc, the priest of Rao.
Thorgrim bows, a little stiffly in his full plate. "Greetings, Maedoc. I have heard your name. Are you not the same Maedoc who led the assault against the Norkers?"
He looks at Thorgrim, sadness in his visage. "I hardly led the fight," he says. "Rather, I just tried to stay alive. Alas, quite a few of my comrades were less fortunate....."
"So I have heard. I don't know what possessed Din and the rest of that Wild Bunch, to take on a fight so dangerous. 'Twas even worse with the Gnolls, I hear."
Thorgrim pauses, thinking. "Still, they were successful there, also. The third time. Mostly."
"Greetings, your grace I believe, I am Dame Hepla, sometimes of Cat's Claw Tower. Thank you for aiding that party. I lost a new friend in the final battle, Antonia Zoltan, but at least she found a place for her people.". Hepla gives him a bow.
At the tavern, the party hears a familiar voice warbling a tune for a free drink.
I wake up and I'm sober
Don't even know you anymore
Punch drunk on a feeling
Lost in believing I was sure
I don't care what you have to say
Damn words get in the way, I don't wanna know
I know there'll come a time
When I look you in the eyes and say, "I told you so"
And I promise you this
You're gonna miss me, miss me
As long as you live
You're gonna miss me, miss me
Set me up for the falling
Gave me no warning, you were gone
Let me down, I was reading
I can't believe what you have done
Go do what you've gotta do
Damn words will follow you everywhere you go
And I know there'll come a time
When I look you in the eyes and say, "I told you so"
And I promise you this
You're gonna miss me, miss me
As long as you live
You're gonna miss me, miss me
I believe in my heart
When something's wrong, say it's wrong
I can deal with the part
When something's wrong if we both stay strong
I know there will come a time
When I look you in the eyes and say, "I told you so"
And I promise you this
You're gonna miss me, miss me
As long as you live
You're gonna miss me, miss me
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
I wake up and I'm sober.
Berenn listens to Elrae and mumbles something about NOT missing this and finishes his drink.
Hepla waits for the song to finish then says, "You still got it Elrae. Good to see you. Will you join us on an adventure?"
"I plan on doing just that, it's been way too long."
"This is good news. We are on our way to the castle, come with me." She skips a little as she walks along.
Maedoc helps you to gain entry that you may pay your respect to Lord Farkaesh, buried in the crypts beneath his castle. The garrison is small, and their commander has control of the region until a new Lord is established. "It's all above my pay grade," he says.
"Who decides?" Thorgrim asks.
"That would be Canon Hazen," he says, "Patriarch of the Church of Rao."
"Mm!" grunts Thorgrim. "Let us acquire steeds, then, and be off to Rastor."
Hepla says, "Thank you my lord." When she returns to the main room she asks, "Who is the keeper of the castle records. I wish to verify that a bill of sale was properly recorded?"
The commander of the garrison looks at Hepla and laughs. "We are soldiers," he says, "not bureaucrats!"
"Does no one keep the records here?" She asks whomever is in charge.
The commander shrugs. "We got sent here to kick **** and take names, and they DIDN'T give us no quills!"
[DM OOC: But seriously, these are soldiers, sent here to take control of the now empty castle on the frontier and maintain order. They are not pencil pushers, and they have nothing to do with politics, paperwork, etc. They are here to defend the castle and the border until they are relieved. ]
"I am sorry, milady," he says. "Anything you need of that nature will have to await the next Lord of Hagthar."
"You have the deed," Thorgrim says to Hepla. "That should suffice for any Lawful rulers who replace Lord Farkaesh, even be they clerics. And you have us to back your claim."
The party does buy some mounts from the soldiers before moving on.
Earthday, 6th of Planting (582)
The party travels through Veluna, reaching Vala Real in a few days where they get a good meal and bed for a night. Then it's a two day journey to Rastor. Again, they find the place quite peaceful. A thunderstorm hits just as they reach the town, so they take shelter in the inn as quickly as possible.
Just showing Rastor again, to refresh your memories!
Thorgrim will inspect the strange apparati parked in the central courtyard! "What's this?" he exclaims in amazement. "Some sort of wagon, but without visible hitches! And this--" He tests his pick on the asphalt. "It looks like basalt, but it's soft, not stone--some sort of amalgam."
[Thorgrim OOC: just kidding! Ragnar, as I recall the priests of--what god was that? The god of fungal decay--had this place under their thumb and the residents enslaved. What did we do with those evil dudes? Did we slaughter the lot of them, or what happened?
Thorgrim wants to find how the people have fared in the--what is it, a year? Two years?--time since the party's last visit.]
It was Readying of 581, which is about 14 months ago. The priests of the Elder Elemental God were nearby, but you defeated them. The town seems to have returned to "normal." Again, you notice a disproportionate amount of half-orcs here.
Thorgrim is noticeably uncomfortable, but doesn't provoke or engage with these half-breeds. He thinks of Turrosh Mak, and reminds himself that these humanoids could not control the circumstances of their abominable births...at least they're being raised by humans. He retires to bed early.
Freeday, 7th of Planting (582)
The dawn arrives and finds everyone ready to set out. It's a moderately cool day, with temps of around 45 in the morning.
Here's a screenshot from Anna's online map. Anyway, you can see the road through the mountains pretty clearly. It heads south from Rastor to the town of Luskan. From there it follows the river valley through the mountains, eventually coming out in the Ulek States. This is the direction Rakk heard those giants had gone.
Before you leave, you are told that it will take about three days to reach the town of Luskan. The road is relatively maintained, though sparsely patrolled. This early in the year, it may yet be damaged by severe winter storms. The first day passes uneventfully, and the party camps by the side of the road. Fortress? I'm assuming Thorgrim uses his fortress every night.
Starday, 8th of Planting (582)
The day breaks, and it's a beautiful morning. It's a little cooler as you are heading up into the higher mountains. Snow still covers the peaks towering above you, at least on the northern slopes, though the valley floor is clear. The road is wet with much runoff from the surrounding mountains all heading down towards a raging river, not terribly wide, but with tremendous rapids. Thorgrim shrinks his fortress, and the party can set out again.
The moves off down the path, riding along and enjoying the day. They pass alongside a large boulder, and Berenn is totally surprised (yeah, doesn't happen to rangers much!) by a bear right around the corner.
It howls in surprise at Berenn, and before anyone can react a much larger bear bounds out of the woods and attacks! It goes after Berenn, rearing up and swiping at him with a clawed paw. Berenn is hit and knocked right off his horse, landing on the ground in a heap! While he only takes  damage, he is shocked when his Cloak of Elvenkind simply crumples to dust under the bear's touch!
Vaddara uses a spell to hold the creature, and it freezes in its tracks.
"Let's get out of here," says Emyn. "No need to kill the animals since she was protecting her cub."
Berenn gets back on his horse. "No harm done. I think we should move on." [OOC: Stupid way to rob me of an item!]
Elrae then starts to sing again....
I called for a knight
but you're a bear
a bear, a bear
all black and brown
and covered in hair
"Vaddara make sure the spell isn't going to expire anytime soon," says Berenn. "Master Elrae's song will probably insight to do terrible things once it is loose."
Noot says, "Just try and bear with the singing.
"Ha Noot, very punny," laughs Elrae. "As you all know, music hath charms to soothe a savage beast."
"Hey Rakk, maybe we should leave Elrae with the beast to keep it nice and soothed!"
Without further incident, the party continues along the road, spirits lifted by the familiar banter between Elrae and Berenn. The party makes it to Luskan without issue, and spends a comfortable night in the inn. There has not been any travel on the Silver Path (that's the road through the mountains) since winter closed the path. It will take one day to reach the Luskan mining camp, then another three days to reach Castle Sarkiri, which marks the border of the the Ulek States. Actually, the castle is nominally part of Veluna, but it is essentially the seat of an independent fiefdom. The party sets out, and easily reaches the mining camp by the end of the next day. There they find a relatively ramshackle town, built primarily around a large inn and several taverns. They head to the inn and find that it is also nearly empty, as there has been no traffic along the road this year. The taverns have been doing quite well, with a large influx of miners recently.
The party continues, running into some halflings that were robbed by bandits the day before. With that warning, the party finds the bandits and captures them. They take them along to Castle Sarkiri, where they turn them over to the authorities.
Castle Sarkiri is an impressive fortress, sitting atop a rocky knoll at the edge of a large valley. The party continues there and there hands over the bandits to the local authorities.
The party is guests of the local lord, a retired priestess of Rao named Mynth. After introductions, they learn that everything's fine in the area. The pass had only barely opened, and they were unaware of the bandits lying in wait. You are given heartfelt thanks for clearing the way. Regular patrols will be sent along the path between here and Rastor, to maintain safety along the route.
The party is able to buy some extra weapons and variouis items, including food, before departing. It takes the rest of the day before you reach the border of the Duchy of Ulek. A small inn stands on the border, and you spend the night there. In the morning you can begin the climb up over the last spur of the higher Lortmils, before descending down into the lands of the Duchy proper. This area is part of the County of Carnelis, a rather wild county along the foothills of the Lortmils. The journey there is uneventful. You pass numerous villages, and find good inns everywhere you go. When you cannot find an inn, you are offered lodging by farmers or somebody akin. The folk here are very friendly, do not pry into your affairs, and share what they have with you. When you try to give a few gold coins, most even say no. The journey to Hammerfall will take a few days.
It takes nearly a week of travel to reach Hammerfall, a large down which shows many signs of dwarven construction. As the party's noticed, this land is full of elves and dwarves, and many half-elves as well. In fact, half-elves make up a substantial part of the population, at least in this area. Noot starts to feel at home among so many of his kind. Hepla is amazed. Here is where we start our search for giants. Seems strange but nice. Reminds her of the forests around her home.
"These places seem to be a model of different races living in peace and harmony," Thorgrim muses. "I would seek to emulate such an arrangement, when Clanggedin chooses to return our Kingdom of Kilthduum to me."
"We passed south of the Rushmoors the last time I passed thru Keoland, into Sterich and the Good Hills," say Rakk. "Then over the Jotens and the Cyrstalmists into the Sulhauts and back thru the Yeomanry. Thence back to Celene. Heading straight east we will arrive near the Valley of the MAge. I know little of him, but if any are true the giants will leave him for last. Mayhap the area around Geoff would be a land to start."
Hepla decides to cast Oracle. She sets about to do a reading, hoping to find a clue from the Gods regarding the party's direction. She calls for silence, sets out her cards, then begins.
"Where do we go to find these renegade giants?" she asks.
She turns her first card.
The Five of Wands - Reversed.
"This card represents the more passive of the two alternatives before us," she says. "The one that would come to pass through a relative lack of action. It could be the well-trodden road. The reversal of this card reveals litigation, disputes, trickery, and contradiction. It seems the easy road is NOT the way to go."
She turns her second card....
Seven of Pentacles - Reversed
Hepla winces a bit as she looks at it. "This card represents our dilemma. These are the forces - internal or external, relevant or irrelevant - that are presently guiding our preference. These are exceedingly contradictory, and reversed it reveals coming altercations and quarrels. Following the Five of Wands shows the importance of finding the correct road. Ingenuity may perhaps reveal a third opportunity."
She turns her last card....
The King of Wands.
"This card represents the more active of the two alternatives before us. It is the one that will be achieved through a greater exertion of effort or risk. It shows a good outcome, by choosing the road less traveled by."
"But what is this road?" says Thorgrim. "How does this help?" He takes out his pipe, lights it, then mumbles something about vague prophecies.
Hepla draws another card. "Where do we go?" she says. "What is this 'road less traveled?'"
She reveals the Five of Cups, and places it beneath the King of Wands.
"Ah...." she says, thinking.
"What?" says Thorgrim. "I just see dark man standing by some cups!"
"Shhsh!" says Hepla, giving Thorgrim a pouting look. "Yes, there is a dark, cloaked figure. He is looking sideways at three prone cups two others stand upright behind him; a bridge is in the background, leading to a small keep or holding. We must cross a great river, to reach a fortress in the mountains."
"Tell me something I don't know...." mumbles Thorgrim, blowing some smoke out.
"Is it to Geoff we must go?" asks Rakk. "It is beyond the Javan River, and is a veritable fortress land in the mountains."
Hepla ignores him. "Do we go to Geoff?" she asks, drawing another card.
She lays The Tower before her.
"No," she quickly replies. "That is clearly NOT our way."
"Then what river do we cross?" asks Emyn impatiently. "What mountains hold this fortress?"
"The next mountain range is the Jotens," says Rakk. "Been there before, and it is across a river, two in fact. Lots of giants there too."
Hepla nods. "Is it to the Jotens that we must travel?"
She draws another card.
The Two of Swords.
"Yes, we must go to the Jotens," she says. "This is a powerful card of courage, friendship, and strength of arms. Its harmony is in stark contrast to The Tower, and shows that this is, indeed, the way."
"That was a very helpful reading," says Berenn, unused to such...clarity. "To the Jotens it is."
The party follows the Lort River downstream from Hammerfall, eventually reaching Lortenford, the junction of the Lort and the greater Sheldomar River. This is the major river for which the great valley is named. It runs from the west, where it begins the Rushmoors, and flows southeast until it reaches the sea. It is the current border of the Kingdom of Keoland. To the north is the Grand March, and to the east are the Ulek states, two of which you have traveled.
The party is told that the easier road to the Jotens would be to follow the Sheldomar south, then cut across central Keoland. However, by traveling west and skirting the Rushmoors, the party can reach the upper Javan River. From there, it can be followed south, right to the March of Sterich and the Jotens Mountains.
"Seems we travel the road less traveled, the harder way," says Hepla.
"Then that would be west," says Thorgrim.
"Then west it is," replies Vaddara, exited about all these new sights.
Rakk leads the party along this route, following the familar road from one tow to another. At the Wounded Owlbear Inn, the locals remember him and the assistance his party gave them with some beasties from the nearby Rushmoors. Everyone gets a free room and good food and drink that night. They also learn of rumors from the area that a trio of stone giants had been seen walking the lands. Supposedly they crossed through the Gran March from the Lormils, entering the Rushmoors some time ago. Of course, this is just rumor.....
Hepla goes to the innkeeper and, while ordering cream and a mouse, asks him about the giants that were seen recently. "What can you tell us about them?"
He doesn't really know anything. "Just the rumors which filtered down from the north, from Fort Tribulation," he says. "Scouts there reported seeing a trio of giants some months ago. They passed into the Rushmoors to the north, heading west. It was a remarkable enough event, that word of it quickly spread."
Hepla asks, "What is to the west of the Fort that would attract a giant? Or should we head to the Fort and ask them?"
The innkeeper shrugs. "Nothing I know of. Who would go into the Rushmoors? Those troll-infested swamps are no place for anyone."
Of course, Rakk may perhaps have some information here. He recalls some things he learned as a child, that the trolls were a twisted version of giants, created by the Ur-Flan wizard Vecna, part of whose empire used to be in this region somewhere. This isn't the first the party has heard of Vecna, of course, nor of the Ur-Flan, of whom Galap-Dreidel was one. If the trolls truly were created from giants, then they could be part of whatever plan is being hatched.
Earthday, 203th of Planting (582)
A thin fogs rolled out of the Rushmoors during the night, and remains during the morning. The party is a bit on-edge on the way to the fort, but visibility is not bad, as the fog never really is very thick. A strong breeze picks up gradually as the day passes, eventually pushing the fog back into the marshes by the time the party reaches the fort, about 20 miles west of the Inn. The party is confronted by the garrison as they arrive, which demands to know what they are about.
Vaddara presents herself unarmed guessing the garrison has never seen a snow elf. "We are travelers only. We have been following up on rumors of troll-giant collusion and a growing threat to region. Right now we are simply trying to asses the validity of these rumors."
The soldiers look the party over, especially Rakk. "Seems kinda strange comin' from you all," he says.
Hepla says, "We are a small party of adventurers and what you see is who we are but we do wish to help keep the good people safe. We could use your help so that we know what is going on. Help us to help everyone."
"I will not try to disagree that each of us are strange in about every way," says Vaddara. "But you will also not find a more loyal group of friends. We were actually commenting how refreshing it was to see a wide variety of races living in harmony. We are here to preserve the harmony and keep the peace. I have and would trust my giant friend with my life. And as I said, right now we are simply on a fact finding mission until facts present themselves. "
"Well," he says. "We can't says much 'bout troll/giant colasions." Hepla can tell he isn't the brightest. "We did see some giants pass way herebouts."
"Yeah," says another guard. "Three a them, bigger 'n yers!" and he indicates Rakk with a pointed finger.
"They appeared from the east, then disappeared into the Rushmoors to the west, like they knew where they was going," replies the first guard. "That was just about mid-winter, maybe four months ago. Ain't heard a no giants since."
"But we have had troubles with trolls since then," says another voice. Another man steps up to the open gatehouse where you are talking. He is clearly an officer or a minor noble, judging by his dress as well as the haughty way her carries himself. Berenn instantly doesn't like him, as he sees this attitude in nearly every noble.
"How did these giants appear?" asks Emyn.
"They just walked by," says the commander. "Obviously, we let them go when they wasn't hurting anyone. I mean, they were giants!"
"What about these trolls you spoke of?" asks Berenn, trying to hide his dislike of the commander.
"We had a surge in troll attacks in the last few months, mostly solitary ones. However, we heard there were major raids in Shelspring, around Redlee Manor. The son of the Baron, His Honorable Lord Sir Etheran, is there now, dealing with the situation."
"Sounds like we are continuing west into the Rushmoors," says Berenn, glancing at the rest of the party.
The garrison commander looks at Berenn like he's crazy. "Into the Rushmoors?" he exclaims. "Ye daft man?"
"You would be surprised at the capabilities of my companions and I," replies Berenn. "Perhaps Elrae will share of sonnet or two of our adventures upon our return. His singing sounds like a cat getting its tail caught in a blacksmith's furnace, but his lyrics are digestible."
Hepla smiles. "We may indeed be daft but that is where we are headed, unless you think your baron's son could use a little help. Tell me, please, why is going into the Rushmores the act of someone who is crazy? As long as we are here if you have any injured troops, some of us have some gifts at healing, we would be honored to help them."
Thorgrim speaks, "Let us travel first to Shelspring around Redlee Manor and seek the son of the Baron, His Honorable Lord Sir Etheran."
Freeday, 21st of Planting (582)
The party rides back to inn where they spend the night. The next day is a day of rest, but with the pressing nature of recent events, they move on nonetheless. It takes about a day walking through a light fog, to reach the village of Red Willow, named for a large red willow in the center of the street. A heavy fog rolls in in the late afternoon, billowing south from the Rushmoors. Remembering their experiences with fog both along the Wild Coast as well as in the Lost City, the party is more than happy to rest for the night.
The party learns that the troubles in the west, towards Redlee Manor, have been worse. Apparently, the baron's son was returning home that way on some other business when the troll raids really started, and he and his men have driven them back into the Rushmoors. They've actually launched raids into the swamps themselves, taking the fight to the trolls.
"I believe we need to deal with the root cause of this action," says Berenn. "The trolls appear to be only a side effect."
Thorgrim takes a gulp of ale, and lights his pipe. "I long to meet this brave lord and assist his effort. Swamps...the very worst area for battle, I think. I don't miss the Suel." Thorgrim contemplates the mound of treasure left behind in the Lost City, then after a while clears his mind of such thoughts.
"My question is, what drove the trolls out in the first place," wonders Emyn. "They are wont to raid at times but not in these numbers. Something must be making them desperate."
"The Baron's son seems to have the trolls routed for now," replies Berenn, finishing his drink. "Even if we were able to capture and question a troll, I seriously doubt we would get any useful information. If the trolls were winning, then I would have no objection to providing aid, but as the situation stands, I think we would be wasting time and resources in an unproductive venture. Better we keep on our present course, I am sure the cause of this uprising will reveal itself in due time."
"A short visit would do no harm, Berenn," adds Emyn. "While aid to them is likely not needed, they may have learned things that would be to our advantage. We have seen trolls and giants together. It might be possible that giants were also involved in these attacks and the people here simply didn't know."
Hepla agrees with Emyn, nods, and gives him a quick kiss. Then, their course decided, the party heads off to sleep.
Sunday, 23th of Planting (582)
The day begins with the same light fog, which doesn't cause any serious problems with visibility. The party leaves, continuing on its way to Redlee Manor. After about a half-day's travel, while eating lunch, it starts to rain slightly. The party gathers their stuff, pulls cloaks tight, and plods ahead, anxious now to get to Redlee Manor before it rains any harder.
As you crest a small rise, a scene of horror unfolds on the road ahead. A gang of about a half-dozen ferocious trolls is pulling apart the carcass of a horse, squabbling over the choicer parts. The monsters are some 300 feet ahead of you, and appear to have not spotted you as yet.
Vaddara and Elrae dismount and cast Stoneskin. Hepla casts Fly. Noot stays back on the rise, not anxious to ride down and face a bunch of trolls. The others will dismount, leaving their horses with Noot as they draw weapons. The trolls still have not seen you yet.
Elrae looks at the others. "Seems a job for you guys," he says, one hand on Snowfang. "I'll be right behind you."
Emyn charges down the hill towards the trolls. He rides right by the first one, stabbing it with his lance from surprise and hitting for . The troll is thrown backwards to the ground as Emyn rips his lance out and continues along. The surprised trolls all turn towards him, away from Berenn, Thorgrim, and Rakk who are all advancing on foot down the hill.
Rakk fires his bow, hitting a troll for . Berenn charges up and hacks it as well, Bonefire cutting large burning swaths across it . It screams in agony at Bonefire's flames. Thorgrim moves up and attacks the troll to the left, missing. Emyn turns around and charges again, hitting another troll .
The others stay back on the hill.
The troll attacks Berenn, clawing him for . Thorgrim is attacked by the other troll, getting clawed  and bit . The two trolls to the right both attack, one moving up to hit Emyn while the other attacks Berenn. It crabs ahold of him bites him , and rips off Berenn's right arm! [24! and a wicked critical result!]. He cries out in pain as Bonefire falls to the ground at his feet, its flames extinguishing in a hiss at it lands in a puddle. Emyn is also attacked by the last troll, which only hits the other troll  with a swipe of its claw.
Rakk puts an arrow into the troll which just ripped off Berenn's arm, hitting it for .
"Berenn! To me!" Thorgrim shouts. To the rest: "Berenn is hurt!" Thorgrim continues engaging the trolls, attempting to get Berrenn behind him as he backs away to the south and towards the other party members, always attempting to interpose himself between Berenn and the trolls.
[Thorgrim OOC: As soon as he has a moment free, Thorgrim will cast his most serious healing spell (Cure Medium Wounds--3rd-level priest) on Berenn and perhaps himself before re-entering the fray. Later, he will open his Portable Hold and dig out his Ointment of Regeneration. It's in his Adventure chest. Could possibly hand over his Hole and let Berenn do it himself, but that doesn't really seem feasible one-handed.]
[Berenn OOC: Conscious for a minute or two perhaps until they pass out from shock and / or blood loss. ]
"Someone might want to pick Bonfire up," he says weakly as he withdraws. "It will work great against these trolls."
[Rakk OOC: Historically, most men who lose a hand in combat who live have literally stuck the stump into a fire to sear the wound shut. Painful, but effective. As to Bonefire, it will have to be someone other than Rakk. He's entering battle-frenzy against Trolls! Did I mention he HATES trolls. OK, that's an understatement. He HATES Trolls!]
Hepla casts Sundazzle, which blinds the trolls right around Berenn. [I marked them with a Red outline.] Berenn withdraws from combat, while Elrae and Noot move up to aid him. They bandage up his stump, and Elrae prepares to cast Lightning Bolt next. Vaddara casts Maiming Missiles at the nearest troll, sending metal shards to rip through it .
The trolls all flail about wildly, hitting nobody, though one grabs Emyn from behind and bites him hard in the leg .
Thorgrim hits his troll twice [16 and 11: total 27]. Emyn rides back through the trolls, hitting the one that was on the ground with his lance . He keeps going, right through the blinded trolls.
Finally, Rakk charges down the path and engages the trolls. He hits the first one, slashing twice [15 and 17: total 32].
Elrae continues to tend to Berenn while Noot takes Berenn's Rod of Health and taps him with it, healing  while Berenn lies there bemoaning his fate. "Fear not," says Noot. "I believe Thorgrim has the means to help you."
Vaddara casts Vitriolic Sphere, hitting the rear ogre . It flails around, rolling on the ground and trying to put out the "fire" it feels. Thorgrim continues to attack the troll before him, hitting it again . Hepla flies over towards Berenn and the others, prepared to aid them should any threat appear.
Suddenly, Hepla is hit by a massive sword  that knocks her flying back 10', which isn't an issue since she's flying at 20' altitude. Becoming visible before her is a large ogre mage, flying and wielding a greatsword. It grins wickedly at its successful sneak attack.
Meanwhile, Rakk continues his relentless assault of the troll. He hits it twice more, doing [17 and 22: total 39]. The troll falls back with large parts of its anatomy hanging out!
Finally, Emyn wheels about as he sees Hepla take that massive hit from the flying ogre mage.
Thorgrim will continue wailing on the troll in front of him until it's dead, and then one more time for good measure once it is. He smashes through its chest with a massive downward swing  that pins it to the ground. It thrashes around then dies.
The ogre mage turns invisible!
Noot rushes into the midst of the ogres, grabs Bonefire, and runs back to Berenn. The blind ogres don't even notice!
Elrae, Vaddara, and Hepla all cast lightning bolt, though Hepla's is from her staff, but all to no visible effect. Whether or not they hit the invisible ogre, they cannot tell. Emyn holds on his prayer to Trithereon, while Rakk attacks. He moves up to the next ogre, slashing it .
The trolls attack. Rakk is clawed for  while Thorgrim is bitten by the fallen troll which suddenly seems active again . The troll which is still burning by the acid steps up and attacks Rakk too, clawing him  and biting him .
Berenn holds his spell, as Rakk attacks again, hitting the troll with his off-hand for .
Before anyone can do more, a cone of cold frost erupts from above and behind Hepla. It hits her from the rear, blasting her to the ground where she lies, unmoving, her extremities frozen solid. [40 damage!] Elrae also takes a massive blast to his back, which is partially frozen [35 damage: He has no move or attacks, and will perish in 1d4 hours without magical help. This was a rare magical critical. I've been toying with them a bit, but this is the first one to happen.] Noot rolls out of the way, taking only . Berenn, partially blocked by the others [just adding that detail; he really just made his save!] and takes . Finally, Emyn takes  while his horse takes enough to be destroyed. It reverts to its stone statuette form and falls to the ground, Emyn landing with a thud above it.
DM OOC: This is a mid-round post. Considering that this attack was so deadly/destructive (yes, I have to roll for items too!), I figured on posting this first. BTW, the ogre mage appears, and it is flying above and slightly behind the party, maybe 25' high. Everyone who can, may still act. Just wanted to pause a moment. Now, one to items...
Actually, everything makes it through the cone of cold easily except a few items. All Hepla's potions are lost, as the vials broke and the potions are lost. Her Crystal Ball also shattered when she hits the ground.]
Vaddara casts Dehydrate (4th level wizard spell) upon the ogre-mage. It makes its save, still taking  from the rapid loss of water.
The trolls then attack. The one before Thorgrim claws and bites ineffectively, Thorgrim easily eluding its blind attacks. He follows up with two pick strokes, doing [13 and  which blast the thing's back and spine apart!
Rakk is clawed  and bitten  by one troll, and before he can swing back, the other one also claws  and bites  him as well. Rakk strikes back, hitting the one to the right  and knocking it back to the ground. He then hits the left-hand troll  lopping off a leg and dropping it to the ground. As it falls, he hits it again, taking its head off in one sweeping arc! .
All the trolls are currently down.
The ogre-mage looks at Vaddara, taunting her. "Blue elf will make a fine addition to Skalmund's trophy room!"
"You're gonna do it without your friends, then!" Roard Rakk in Giantish.
Lying on the ground, Berenn casts his Holy Orb, and just as the ogre mage is about to disappear again, there is a great flash of holy light around it. It screams out in pain, then plummets out of the sky, landing with a heavy thud! Meanwhile, Rakk and Thorgrim pour oil over the trolls, while Noot brings Bonefire, igniting them all in a pyre of stinky troll flesh.
With the pyre burning nicely, Rakk pulls Elrae over to the fire to warm him and makes sure he's ok. Berenn adds some magical healing, and Elrae starts to come around. Thorgrim returns to the group to see what can be done about Hepla. To Emyn, he says, "Still think the humans don't need our help? I'll bet these trolls are a real pain in the backside. Figuratively speaking."
After Berenn uses the rod on Hepla and Elrae, he will collect Bonfire and his arm from Noot and thank him. "Hopefully I can find a leather worker that can fix this armor, my arm is going to be another matter."
"Again I wish I still had my Ring of Warmth," laments Elrae.
Rakk picks up the ogre mage and carries it to the fire as well, but Emyn stops him, tears in his eyes. "Rakk, stop. I demand my vengeance first." Emyn takes the ogre magi corpse, throws it down, and beheads it. He then returns to aid Helpa as he can do nothing for her other than to pray.
Star appears and nuzzles Rakk, who moves over to Hepla as well. He then gently gathers her up and carries her to the fire and lays her down next to Elrae. Star then curles up next to her.
Emyn is distraut, and he uses the charge of his ring to speak with animals. "Bring her back, Star," he pleads to the magical cat."
Star says, in feline, "I don't bring her back, I do not know how she has come back in the past but she seems to be more gone this time."
"Is there a limit on how often she returns?" he asks. "Is this the work of Rexfelis?"
Star shakes its head, then lays it down upon Hepla's chest and closes her eyes.
Emyn then bows and says a prayer to Trithereon for his love, and adds another one to Rexfelix. "Trithereon, be not offended," he adds, "but I love her."
"A little thing like death hasn't stopped their love so far," says Thorgrim softly.
Meanwhile, Noot checks out the ogre mage body. There was some magic found on the ogre mage. It has a pouch with 4 scrolls, 4 potions, a ring, and a magic naganata. You also find three items of jewelry:
A silver armband set with jacinth (4000gp)
An ivory brooch shaped like a griffon (1000 gp)
A gold ring (1000 gp)
Finally, you also find the following letter, rolled up and splattered with blood.
"Brave and Honorable Baron Perenon,
I truly regret that I must send you a multitude of terrible news. May I state in advance my sympathies, and tell you that I, too, am aggrieved by the dreadful events that never seem to stop in these days.
Firstly, I must inform you that your son Etheran fell in battle against the trolls. He fought bravely to protect the people of Redlee Manor, making several expeditions into Rushmoors and slaying many of the beasts, but he was defeated before he could find the so-called King of the Trolls. A troll warrior delivered to our town a token proving your son is dead and declaring the intentions of Skalmad and his kingdom, which he calls Varghan.
Regrettably, your ancestral sword was lost as well. We believe it now to be a trophy of the troll king.
The trolls seem to be even more set on destroying our town, and we believe they will attack quite soon. They seem unusually organized for mere trolls, and we suspect some greater evil lies behind their rise. I am grateful for your help so far, but times are desperate; I fear that without help all the lands surrounding the Rushmoors will be in dire peril. Even should aid arise, I fear our town will be destroyed before any help arrives.
May the Gods favor us and this letter reach you in time. I hope this is not the last you hear of the people of Redlee Manor.
Mayor of Redlee Manor"
Gathering their dead and wounded, the party continues on to Redlee Manor.
You continue on to Redlee Manor, which takes only another hour of travel, Thorgrim tending to Berenn's needs while the ranger/priest stays unusally silent. During the journey, Emyn is inconsolable. He just carries Hepla, weeping and praying, kissing her face and talking almost incoherently. Something about a baby you think. Nobody can cut through his grief. Thorgrim says nothing, and seems uncharacteristically pale.
Redlee Manor is a trade town built on the confluence of two rivers. The penninsula on which it stands starts as rocky hills jutting up from the river at its easternmost tip. The eastern high ground is heavily settled, with the population thinning to the west as the ground slopes away. There, the town gives way to fertile farmland that borders the swamps of the Rushmoors. Just over a thousand people live in and around Redlee Manor. With the river serving as a natural protective barrier on two sides, the town has grown up rather than out, and multistory buildings are common. Situated as it is on a major trade route, Redlee Manor’s population fluctuates (sometimes drastically) depending on the number of travelers passing through.
A small row of rocky crags jut out of the river at the apex of the penninsula, ending at a larger island upon which a circle of stones (think mini-stonehenge) sits.
Trade caravans crossing from one side of the river to the other must pass by ferry through Redlee Manor. The town watch spends much of its time patrolling these landings, keeping them secure. They are even more heavily manned now than would be normal. They see you approach and take guard positions, but the commander sees the party's situation, glancing from Berenn to the body of Hepla. He says only one word.
It is not a question.
"Pretty obvious huh," saysVaddarra. "Can we rent a room and pay for a meal until we can sort this out?"
"Believe it or not," says Berenn dryly, "the trolls and their companions look far worse than us. Please inform the mayor his last letter to the baron was intercepted by the trolls we encountered and never made it to the baron."
The party is ferried across the river, to the landing area .
Here's a map, which I'll post to Atlas thread so you can find it later.
You land and are told that you can find lodging in the Cloudwatch Inn. It is east, overlooking the river. [area 3]. As you follow the main road south, before it bends around, you notice an old wall, about 20' high. [area 6] It is made of cyclopean blocks of unmortared stone. It is mostly covered with moss and though sturdy, there are numerous gaps in it. It clearly comes from a time long, long ago.
At the inn, you enter and are met by the innkeeper, a portly halfling named Cham. He dresses foppishly, reminding you of Derry, but he covers his cloths with a dirty apron. Cham is very talkative, as normal for a halfling. When he hears of what happened, and also when he sees Hepla, he proposes the party head to the Temple, where they may find healing. He also offers up rooms and a full meal for everyone, with ale on the house. Just as Thorgrim was going to head upstairs to tend to Berenn, a tall female half-elf with gray-streaked hair enters the inn. She wears a plainly embroidered blue dress and a silver chain of office. “Welcome, travelers,” she says. “I am Kelana Dhoram, mayor of Redlee Manor.” Kelana is horrified to learn that Perrol the messenger was killed, and she asks the adventurers to tell the story of their encounter on the road.
Thorgrim tells her about the encounter, with trolls and ogres and maybe giants working in concert.
Since Thorgrim has applied the ointment, Berenn will spend his time mostly resting, but he will take the time to discuss the mayor's plan to defend the town now that they can expect no help from the baron. He will also inquire if the town has a skilled leather worker that could repair his armor.
"This was found among the loot among the trolls," says Berenn, taking out the letter and handing it to her.
While she reads it, Thorgrim steps forward to talk to her. "Lady Kerana," Thorgrim begins. "One of our band was killed in the troll encounter, and another sorely wounded. Are there any priests in your temple with the power to raise the dead?"
Star meows and looks at the island with the stone tower. Knowing there is more to this cat than meets the eye, Emyn stands up. "We should go to the tower," he says. He gathers Hepla up and heads there immediately.
The party takes off, following after Star. Kelana stops somebody, asking, "What is going on?"
Berenn stops for a second and Kelana, "Is there a priest in this town that can raise the dead? Our comrade lies still from our encounter with the trolls."
"No, there is not," she says. "Such power is beyond our humble practicioners."
"No need to go the temple then my friends, which leaves us with Plan B of Rakk's. Since I am unable to travel until I sprout a new arm, the rest of you can decide who will go and stay." Berenn turns back to the mayor, "Is there anything I can do to help here. I have some healing powers and know something of war. I have fought several battles and as a knight I am obligated to provide aid where and when I can."
"You look like you need to rest first," she says. "I shall summon healers, and they will attend you. Rest now." She looks at the others as they head for the point. At the edge of the water, they must traverse a series of rocky islets. Rakk looks a bit unsure and glances back. "They head to the Moonstair," says Kelana. "Good. Perhaps Rualiss can help them."
[Thorgrim OOC: Ha we totally probably should have finished our interaction with Kelana. But I'm sure she'll be gracious. This mini-stonehenge does seem intriguing...just Hepla's sort of place.]
"I am sorry, m'lady," Thorgrim says, managing a stiff bow. "Please forgive us, but something urgent has arisen. We shall return soon." He then turns to the rest of the party. "Hopefully we can find out something we can do. Did her crystal ball survive the ice blast? No? Vaddarra, did you bring yours? Hepla's mother Hepala would be the person to talk to about such necromancy...but I don't think she can be scried? Berenn would be the one to find her...she would smell him out if he were in the area." One can almost see the cogs turning in his head.
"Do we really need to bring Hepala into this at the moment?" asks Berenn, a sour look on his face. "I believe I have suffered enough indignities for one day."
"Find your strength, friend!" laughs Thorgrim. "I am sure one arm would suffice for Hepala's...needs."
"That is what I am afraid of," replies Berenn, forcing a smile.
Berenn returns to the inn to speak with Kelana, while the rest hop the stones out to the island. There they find an ancient stone ring, covered in moss. Nobody is around, but Star suddenly steps out from behind a stone.
"Emyn," Thorgrim asks in a terse whisper, "What are we doing here?"
Emyn shrugs, but doesn't move, as Noot slips around the small island looking for traps and finding nothing. While he investigates, an elf woman appears on the shore. She wears the modest woodland clothes of a druid, though she is of surpassing beauty and elegance. The mayor approaches her, and they talk for a bit while the party looks around. You can't hear what they say, because they are too far away. Rakk stands on the shore, not having crossed over to the island due to strong superstitions. He looks down at the mayor and the elf. There is something almost too perfect about her. He glances at Vaddarra who also did not cross over, and she just shrugs.
The elf introduces herself. "I am Ruallis of Celduilon," she says gruffly. "What are they doing on my island?" She asks impatiently.
The party returns from the island, Emyn of course wracked with pain over Hepla. When everyone is back on the mainland, the elf, Rualiss, asks again, "What were you doing on my island?"
"We followed the cat," says Thorgrim, pointing to Star.
Rualiss looks down at Star, and a brief expression of surprise crosses her face. Quickly she recovers and again shows the same expressionless face.
Emyn steps up, carrying Hepla's body. "She is blessed of the Cat Lord," he says, "and we seek her return." He points to Star. "Star led us to the stone ring, though we know not why."
Rualiss looks down at Star again, then at Hepla's body. Finally, she looks back at Emyn. "I see the love you hold for this one, and sense the truth of what you seek. Bring her and we shall talk more."
Rualiss then turns around and starts to walk away.
Star follows, and Vaddara thinks to herself "this elf's temperament is colder than a snow elf in the artic. So be it, it's for hepla."
When the mayor follows, Rualiss stops and turns around. "This is not for you, Kelana Dhoram. We shall return shortly." Rualiss then continues, leaving the mayor standing there with a frustrated look on her face. Rualiss leads you across the north side of town to the ferry landing. There is a small boat there, which she indicates you to take it to reach her island.
"I thought that was your island?" says Thorgrim, pointing back the way they came.
"Nay, master dwarf. None own the Moon Door. I am merely its caretaker." She then turns back to the island (marked 7 on the map) and steps off the dock. She walks across the surface of the water, her feet never touching it. "Come," she calls out over her shoulder as she walks away.
When Rualiss reaches the shore of her island she turns back. Thorgrim steps ashore right behind her, completely surprising the strange and beautiful elf who takes a quick step back. As Thorgrim asks forgiveness for his trespass, he can barely keep himself from laughing.
Rualiss quickly recovers, though she keeps a slight frown. "You are indeed full of surprises Master Dwarf," she says.
"Lady Rualiss," asks Thorgrim. "Tell us of the meaning of this place, if you would?"
Meanwhile, the rest of the party gets into the boat. Actually, I'm pretty sure Berenn is back resting. He'd give his right arm to be there though! Rakk also doesn't fit into the boat, and since he will not swim, he will stay ashore. When the rest of the party land, they find Star already on the island.
"I would normally not say much," she says, "as it is not something for your ordinary man. However, I see you are no ordinary people." She looks at Star and smiles. "Star is evidence of that. Please, come inside and we will talk." She then heads to a very plain cottage, concealed from general sight by a dense grove of trees.
Emyn brings Hepla and says, "Whatever sacrifice or deed or boon you seek in return milady, I will grant if it is in my power. By Trithereon and Rexfelis, I swear this."
Rualiss enters, and the party follows. Once inside, Rualiss offers some tea. She sets a pot to boiling, igniting her fire with a flick of her fingers. As everyone sits down, she asks, "So, she is what brought you to the Moon Door?" She looks at Emyn, who lays Hepla's body down gently upon a soft bed in the corner.
"Aye," he says, turning towards her. "We seek the return of my beloved wife and friend, please. If there is a price to pay, let me bear that burden. I have lost my family twice now and I cannot bear life without her."
She listens to you, then smiles. "The Moon Door opens to the lands of the Fey," she says. "I do not know if what you seek lies on the other side, but if you are worthy, then it is possible. On the full moon (which is about a week away) the Moon Door will open again."
"Good!" says Thorgrim. "That will give us time to see if my healing magic works on Berenn's arm. Tell me, Lady Rualiss, does the portal lead to Celene? I did not much enjoy my last trip there."
"I do not know if I am worthy or not, interjects Emyn, "though we have aided Celene in the past. I merely strive to be a good person in my own way and fight against oppression and abuse of power. I pray to Trithereon that I am fit to help."
"You mistake me," she replies. "I do not mean the land of the elves, but the Fey themselves. I speak of Arvandor, The High Forest, land of the Seelie Court."
"Our friend Isilme has been to Arvandor," replies Emyn. "She and Maerthorlaer, her sword. Perhaps they can vouch for us with the fey."
"Oh my..." Thorgrim whispers. "Too bad Isilme's not here."
"It is my duty to guard the Moon Door," says Rualiss. "I see that none pass within, or without. Return in a week, and we shall see if you are to be allowed entry."
"Then we shall do as you say milady," replies Emyn, an edge of hope creeping into his voice. "May I ask a boon of you if it be in your power? Is there a way to preserve Hepla's body so her spirit may return to it unharmed?"
She looks at Hepla's body. "She does not need such," she replies. "Some force already preserves her body." Rualiss looks at Star, nodding. "In a week, we shall speak again. Please, leave her here where she will be safe."
Emyn lies Hepla down on the soft grass and leaves a tender kiss on her cold lips. "We shall meet again, my love," he whispers, "Until then, sleep soundly and safely under the soft light of the moon." Emyn then rises and thanks Rualliss for her kindness and protection of his wife. When he leaves, he will see if there is a small temple to Trithereon nearby where he can pray.
Emyn finds only a small temple, though with shrines to various deities, including Trithereon. He donates generously, and the priest is quite accepting, for everything. Emyn is made welcome. After Emyn speaks with the priests of the temple, they almost demand that Berenn come there. Along with Thorgrim, the two follow Emyn to the temple. There, the priests bring out one of their prized possessions, an ancient scroll of the Zodalites with the spell Regeneration on it. They then use it on Berenn, and everyone stands in awe as the severed limb simply reattaches to Berenn's arm as if it had never been torn off!
Berenn can hardly believe it, and he thanks the priests for their kindness. "I don't think I could ever repay you for the scroll, but the least I can do is put an end to threat your town is facing. My swords are at the town's disposal until the threat or my life is ended."
Meanwhile, Rakk is back at the inn when a very large man enters. He is a tall, muscular warrior, and he was clearly in battle recently, as evidenced by the bandages on his arm and head. The man is so big that Rakk could swear he had giant blood in him as well.
He looks up angrily. "Go away," he says roughly.
"Even if I'm buyin' the drink?" says Rakk, setting one down before the man. "Look like ya need one."
He looks up, way up, at Rakk. Noting a fellow warrior, he grunts and waves for Rakk to sit.
The man's nam is Bax, and he was one of Etheran’s companions. Bax was the only survivor of the deadly battle with Skalmad’s forces in which Etheran was slain. Though badly injured, he made his way back to Redlee Manor and has mostly recovered, at least physically. Bax is singularly courageous, but seeing Etheran and his companions butchered by the trolls has shaken him badly. He now stays at the Cloudwatch Inn, drowning his sorrows in expensive drink and speaking to as few people as possible.
Rakk buys a couple ales, then a couple more. After about a dozen, which only proves the man's giant blood, he finally pries from him some of his tale. The tale of Etheran's fourth raid into the Rushmoors.
"We struck deep into the Rushmoors that time," he says, staring blankly into space. "Beyond even the ruins of Bravak. Etheran believed the Great Warrens to be somewhere to the north of there. They came at us of a sudden with a ferocity you could not believe. Troll after troll assaulted us, and soon we were driven to a small knoll, not much more than a giant rock, which provided us at least a hope. They came at us for hours, endless hordes of trolls. I never knew there were so many." He drinks the rest of his ale, and the barkeep puts another in its place, also engrossed in the tale. The half-dozen other patrons all have stopped, and they too are listening, including the Mayor, Kelana, who just entered.
"We slew hundreds of them, but they kept coming. Like waves along the seashore they crashed into that rock. As man after man fell, it was only Etheran who held them at bay. Wielding Sunwrath like a demi-god of ancient times, he stuck down troll after troll, their bodies igniting in pyres of stinking, rotting death. Finally, when only a handful of us remained, exhausted and near death, the trolls retreated. We thought we had won, when great monsters crashed their way through the swamp. Trolls like giants, unlike anything we had ever seen. Their elongated claws were like daggers, and their gaping jaws were filled with serrated teeth, and their eyes, full of anger and death. Beastly and misshapen, the most massive of them all, wearing ancient black chainmail and a massive 2-handed axe, held them back. But it was the eye of Skalmad that struck despair into us, for it glowed with orange light that resembles a huge cat’s eye in the lantern light.
The trolls regrouped, and the great trolls stood back, as Skalmad approached. His eldritch eye glowed and suddenly Etheran erupted into flame! He burned, and nothing we could do stopped the fire. It consumed him until his body crumpled into ash at our feet. And Skalmad laughed. With a wave, he sent his minions again, and this time there was no stopping them. I fell into a small crack in the rock, half-buried in the muck, and like a coward I stay there. I made no sound as the trolls slew my remaining comrades, and only crept away days later, when they were gone."
He stops his tale, staring at his ale for some time before downing the rest in a series of massive gulps. He places it back on the bar, and Rakk can see the tears running down the man's cheeks.
Rakk puts a hand on his shoulder, "It takes a brave man to stay alive and warn others. It's all too easy to throw your own life away when your friends die. I sorrow for you, the loss of friends cut deep. We lost a friend on the way here as well. The damn trolls need to feel some fire!"
He doesn't say anything, too engulfed by his sorrow to say anything else.
Rakk fully understands. He orders a bottle of whiskey and pours them both a drink.
He doesn't have more to add, but he takes the offered whiskey. Eventually, others sit with Mayor Kelana, who adds a bit to what he said.
"A few days before Bax returned, a band of troll warriors appeared at the town gates, their leader issuing a challenge as he tossed Etheran’s burnt head over the wall. “Your hero is dead, puny humans! Skalmad the Great killed him. Soon Skalmad, King of Varghan, will claim Redlee and lands beyond, and all humans will die!”
"I am sure my friends would agree that this challenge should not go answered," says Berenn, as he and the others return from the temple. He draws Bonefire with his newly regenerated arm, and the sword ignites with tongues of flame. "When this Skalmad returns, he will find a very unpleasant surprise waiting for him."
Starday, 1st of Flocktime (582)
[DM OOC: Jumping a few days ahead. I don't know that you want to role-play every day of just hanging out in town. I'll assume a full day of rest, followed perhaps by a few days getting to know the people of Redlee.]
The last few days were rather busy. While those in need rest, others assist the townsfolk with the defense of the city. Kelana carries herself with an air of perpetual calm, showing emotion only in extreme circumstances. Though she holds a position of power, she is friendly to the party. In her dealings with the adventurers, she is never anything but respectful and gracious. She also recognizes that her leadership is based on the strategies of trade, not warfare. As such, she is more than happy to let the adventurers take the initiative in dealing with Skalmad.
While inspecting the town, Rakk and Thorgrim take notice of the inner wall. [area 6] The townfolk call it the Old Troll Wall. They believe it to be the first wall built around the growing town many centuries ago. However, Rakk and Thorgrim disagree. The construction is quite different, built of enormous unmortared stone. Rakk has seen construction such as this, back home. Only giants and their kin have the strength to build such walls, using the very mass of the stones to hold them all together. Thorgrim agrees, and noting the weathering estimates their age as over a thousand years. Thorgrim finds the remains of an ancient gate, and the following inscription hidden below years of mold:
"Cha tèid nì sam bith san dòrn dùinte."
Nobody knows what it means, but Rakk looks uncomfortable. He cannot read the writing, but he knows it is related to giantish. It has elements of various giant languages, and seems likely to be a mother tongue, perhaps Fomorian itself.
"Perhaps I can help you, Rakk, " a young female voice says behind the two of them. Both males feel good just hearing the voice. They turn and see Hepla's mother, Hepala, and Star standing a few feet away, Rakk notes that it is just far enough that he would have to take a step to reach them by sword.
"It is written in ancient Fomorian, the mother tongue of all giantish languages," she says. "It says, 'Nothing can get into a closed fist.'"
Elrae looks at the inscription, then along the wall. "Tthe Fomorians were a race of demonic giants, ancient occupants of Oerth, long before even the time of the elves." When Vaddara looks at him sceptically, he shrugs. "That's what I heard."
"He is correct," says Hepala, flashing Elrae a smile that makes the young bard blush. "The fomorians were indeed the first inhabitants of the world, along with the Fey. All were either driven from this world or left on their own. Their lands here have mostly faded. However, portals still exist between this world and theirs, the Plane of Faerie.
The plane of Faerie, what man calls the Feywild or Feydark, is the home of powerful elflike creatures called the Sidhe (pronounced shee). The Sidhe divide themselves into a Seelie Court and an Unseelie Court. The Seelie are considered good and the Unseelie evil, but both are unconcerned with the wants, desires, and needs of creatures from the Material Plane. They are two sides of the same coin, as the so-called Feywild and Feydark are the surface and underground of the Faerie Plane.
Many of the inhabitants are Seelie and Unseelie versions of fey creatures such as satyrs, sprites, nags, and grigs. They exist there, though in much more power than on Oerth. The Seelie court comprises Light fairies, known for playing pranks on humans and having a light hearted attitude. They are known to seek help from humans, to warn those who had accidentally offended them, and to return human kindness with favors of their own. Their most powerful members form a true council and are led by Queen Titania and her closest allies: Damh, Lord of the Dance; Oberan, Lord of Wild Places; and Rexfelis, The Cat Lord.
The Unseelie Court consists of the darkly-inclined fairies. Unlike the Seelie Court, no offense is necessary to bring down their assaults. They are wicked and cruel, delighting not just in mischief, but in true pain and horror. The more powerful members of the Unseelie Court are the Queen of Air and Darkness, sister of Titania; Baba Yaga, Queen of Hags and Witches; and Bres, King of the Formorians.
Members of the Seelie Court have been known to lure or even kidnap people into their realm for the purpose of feasting and dalliance. Members of the Unseelie Court are also interested in having people at their feasts, but more as dishes than as guests. Neither group is particularly concerned about the time that their guests lose while away from the Material Plane, as they simply do not consider mortals much more than interesting playthings. Even the Seelie Court sees us as pets, at best."
"In ages past," says Kelana, walking up to the group, "this area was part of a land called Varghan, a violent realm of troll war-clans and the monsters that served them. Varghan fell into ruin centuries ago, leaving only dank barrows and a few fogshrouded stone forts to mark its existence. The trolls and other foul creatures dwelling in the Rushmoors degenerated into savagery, preying on each other and any travelers foolish enough to venture into their lands."
"It sounds like a dangerous realm we travel to," Thorgrim says. I suggest we stick to the Feywild and entreat Rexfelis directly. If that doesn't work, perhaps this Baba Yaga can help."
"Do not even speak such thoughts!" barks Hepala, showing anger for perhaps the first time. "Baba Yaga is the Queen of Witches, the most powerful of the cannibalistic hags from the Plane of Faerie. She cooks children, causes storms, and traverses the country with Death at her side. She is NOT one from whom you would seek aid."
Hepala then looks at Mayor Kelana. "And Varghan was not just an ancient kingdom of trolls." she adds. "Rather, it was the center of the Occluded Empire of Vecna, The Whispered One."
"Tell us of this Vecna," Thorgrim requests.
"If only Isilme were here," says Noot. "She knows all about this old stuff!"
Hepla then continues, telling the party what she knows. "Few names in the long history of the Flanaess conjure such frequent nightmares as the Whispered One, Vecna. Though the once supreme lich ruled a kingdom of antiquity, his name has become synonymous with pain, suffering and the price of dabbling in magics not meant for the ken of mortal minds. Knowledge of Vecna came early for the Suloise migrants in the dark years preceding the Twin Cataclysms. In that period, entire Imperial Houses fled the empire, seeking refuge to the east. One house, the Kateri, found instead death and gruesome revivification. These migrants, typical Suloise in every fashion, had little time for the original Flannae inhabitants of the Sheldomar River Valley. They avoided what folk they could not slay, ducking from hill range to hill range, from this forest to that. Some one hundred miles south of the Rushmoors, the Kateri encountered tribes of Flan they could not displace. Had the arrogant Suel taken time to speak with the southern Flan, or even the few Oeridian tribes who even then settled the valley, they would have been warned. Instead, Lord Vecna had their heads torn from their necks and placed on spears, which his subjects stabbed into the earth to mark the southern border of his territory. As a grim joke, Vecna’s Ur-Flan necromancers had the heads animated. For seven years, wildly insane, pale-faced heads stretched from the northwest terminus of the Sheldomar to the waters of the Lort, announcing the dominion of Vecna in pathetic, vaguely human rantings.
The Occluded Empire of Vecna, as it became known, served ably as a ulcer in the gut of all migrants. Oeridians flowing east from the Fals Gap had avoided Vecna’s lands by coincidence, at first, but soon learned that the lich-lord’s dominion extended all the way to the northwest shores of the Lake of Unknown Depths. Despite Vecna’s control over such a wide berth of land, his actual grasp did not extend far from his own Rotted Tower, said to be located in the Rushmoors, or the now-ruined town of Tycheron, along the northern banks of the Velverdyva, not far from modern Dyvers. Between these centers of depravity ranged several tribes of debased Flan, who were all too happy to carry out the debased orders of Vecna, or those of his most trusted lieutenant in Tycheron, Kas the Bloody-Handed. Many otherwise good-spirited tribes, however, lived under the depravity of Vecna because, as the fledgling nation of Keoland would learn in the century to come, all but subservience to the Whispered One led to certain death.
After centuries of warfare throughout the Sheldomar, strife beyond even the Kindred Wars of the Olvenkind, even surpassing the wars between the Wind Dukes of Aaqu and the Queen of Chaos, great armies amassed in the Keoish capital. The king prepared for a great war. Though decimated by cataclysm and largely untested in battle, the skill of his troops would carry the day, despite the numbers of the Flan to the north. But what is a casualty to an emperor who can animate armies of dead with the wave of a hand? Exercises proceeded with a grim undercurrent that Winter. All might have been lost, too, had not one of Vecna’s rare acts of kindness come back with a vengeance.
In addition to an unnaturally elongated life, Vecna had granted his most trusted lieutenant, Kas, with a weapon of exquisite beauty and a heart as dark as the lich-lord’s soul. This blade, the Sword of Kas, whispered dark ambition into Kas’ ear, urging him to make a move for the lands his master had held for a millennia or more. As armies gathered to the south, and the Ur-Flan whipped the northern tribes into war furor, Kas the Bloody Handed made his move for the Spidered Throne. The titanic struggle that followed apparently destroyed both liege and lieutenant, and a great evil was expunged from the world.
When the armies of Keoland pushed northward in a seemingly futile gesture, they found little resistance. Vecna was dead, his empire shattered. Only the Varghani remained, retreating back into their swamps. The Flan tribes now warred against each other, a primitive rabble easily brought down by a military-religious order of knights formed to do battle with a lich. Compared to that service, defeating the Varghani was easy. It is said that three remnants of the battle between Vecna and Kas yet rest upon the floor of the Rushmoors. A hand, an eye, and a sword black as death."
"Bax told of the fearsome power of that troll's eye," says Rakk. "Perhaps the troll possesses this relic? He may have the hand, too, for all we know, though I heard no mention of that black sword...only the one of fire, which we must assume this Skalmad now possesses also. Powerful magicks."
Thorgrim chuckles. "Though I can't imagine a troll using such a weapon." Thorgrim chuckles at the thought, then after a pause he continues. "Though the Eye has doubtless given him unimaginable powers."
Mayor Kelana, who is more than pleased with the desire of Rakk and Berenn to aid the watch, then adds. "Our best and bravest all perished alongside Lord Etheran," she says. "I fear those that remain are not likely to stop the trolls when they come. I had hoped Bax would lead them...." She trails off, leaving her thought unfinished.
"I have faced more grim situations than this, but it would be better if one of your own was leading the way. I will return and talk to Bax." Berenn heads back to the inn where they find Bax hopelessly drunk, passed out at a table.
"I wouldn't think of asking anything of him in his present condition. Hopefully tomorrow will find him is slight better spirits or at least in a more lucid state." Berenn will withdraw to whatever accommodations are available and spend the evening thinking about the defense of the town.
With nothing else to do that day, the party retires to bed. During the night, it begins to rain. A heavy rain which soaks everything. Barely heard through the rain are the cries of alarm which sound from the city walls during the middle of the night!
I should add, this happens late when everyone is asleep, well, everyone except Rakk and Thorgrim. Rakk has been drinking with Bax, and is actually Moderately Intoxicated. He has been surprised at the man's ability to drink, and this has led Rakk to overindulge a bit. Thorgrim has stayed up as well, and is slightly intoxicated. Here are the repercussions of this:
Hepala disappears, heading to Rualiss's island to watch over Hepla's body. Emyn is sleeping at the temple [area 4] when he's awakened by the alarm. Everyone else is at the inn. Everyone wakes up. You will have to gather weapons and armor, and that will take time, depending upon what people grab. Please let me know.
Elrae casts Stoneskin and then grabs Snowfang before heading outside. He'll leave everything else in his room. It will take him two rounds to get outside. Rakk and Thorgrim never changed, so they can head right outside.
Map of Redlee Manor, and a quick key.
1. Moon Door
3. Cloudwatch Inn (Rakk, Thorgrim, Berenn, Noot, Elrae, Vaddara)
4. Temple (Emyn)
5. Ferry Landings
6. Old Wall
7. Rualiss's Island (Hepala)
Also, as I said, Rakk and Thorgrim can react immediately. Elrae acts as I noted. The others will have to decide what to do/get before leaving their rooms. Nobody is wearing any armor except Rakk and Thorgrim.
Vaddara will also cast Stoneskin, before grabbing her spear and heading downstairs. She'll meet Elrae down there. Berenn takes his time donning armor, so he'll be awhile. Noot throws on his leather armor, then he goes outside too.
Bax, GREATLY intoxicated, lurches to his feet. He is unarmored, so he lurches off to his room. "Whhrs mah fflael?" he stammers.
Thorgrim attempts to Cure Drunkenness on Bax, who looks in too bad a shape to fight, but his spell fails. Bax lumbers off to his room, as Rakk heads out the door.
Rakk runs to the central plaza. Through the rainstorm, he can't hear the sound of battle anywhere. However, the bells are ringing. Thorgrim's following behind him, and the others are getting dressed. The streets are all dark, and though it's almost a full moon, the storm blocks out the light.
Rakk and Thorgrim are making their way to the western wall. They are at the 4-way intersection (more like an X shape) between the Old Wall and the West Wall. Elrae, Vaddara, and Noot all exit the Inn. Emyn and Berenn are still getting into armor. Rakk and Thorgrim hear shouting to the west, towards the wall and the gatehouse (the middle one.)
Rakk continues on to the west gatehouse, where he can survey the scene. There are men on the walls above, firing flaming arrows beyond them. Thorgrim summons his elemental back at the crossroads. Elrae and Noot move down the street, making their way west. Berenn and Emyn are still getting dressed. Finally, Vaddara casts Wings of God, as great grey feathered wings sprout from her back enabling her to fly.
At the gatehouse, Rakk heads up the stairs to the top of the wall. There, he notes the men at the top firing arrows at what looks to be about a dozen trolls. The trolls rush the walls, take a few shots from arrows, and fall back, patting out the flames.
Thorgrim reaches the gatehouse this round as well, with the elemental following close behind him. Noot and Elrae moving up behind as well, almost reaching the crossroads, while Vaddara flies over them at about 50'.
I wanted to give you an overhead of the town, so you knew where you were. I didn't add the other guards and people on this one, because it would clutter it for this view. Also, Emyn and Berenn are still dressing. The map's not perfect. I assumed that the open gap there is actually a gate, so consider that a gatehouse. Rakk's up on the wall, next to some archers. Thorgrim's still down on the street. It's about midnight. It's pouring rain too.
Rakk fires an arrow, hitting the nearest troll . It roars in pain at the shot, and glares up at Rakk before charging at him. It leaps up at the wall, covering more than half the height with one bound, and easily starts to climb it before Rakk puts another two arrows into it [18 and 21], dropping it back to the ground outside. As Thorgrim moves up to the wall beside Rakk, he looks around and sees that there are maybe a dozen trolls attacking the walls. However, he notes that none actually attempt to climb them. The men fire arrows, and the trolls take minor hits and run away, patting out the flames before charging again.
Meanwhile, Noot and Elrae reach the gatehouse, where they see Thorgrim and Rakk on the wall and the Earth Elemental standing mute just inside the gates. Vaddara then flies overhead. Emyn is nearly finished, and Berenn is about half finished getting dressed. Emyn exits the temple, half-dressed and sword in hand. "Set a watch on the rivers too. Trolls can swim," he yells to some nearby guards. They were heading to the wall, but the change direction after Emyn yells at them so commandingly.
Emyn is about to run to the walls himself, when he hears one of the guards he just orders cry from around a corner. "Trolls are attacking the ferry!" he says.
Emyn runs to the south ferry which is close to the temple. He he sees a couple of large shapes on it through the rain, trolls!
Emyn will summon avengers (MS5). Two Water Weirds rise up from the river between Emyn and the Ferry. There is loud crashing from the ferry, as the trolls are smashing it apart.
Back at the wall, Rakk notes that with the pouring rain, the flaming arrows aren't hurting the trolls. They barely stay lit in the first place. "Where's the commander?" asks Rakk.
"The commander is dead," says one of the men next to Rakk. "He was killed last week fighting with Lord Etheran." The man fires a couple more shots at a troll, making it flee away from the wall too.
Rakk looks at the man, "Who is in charge, then?" He asks, mildly.
He looks a bit unsure, then shrugs. "I guess that would be Bax," he says.
Rakk sighs. "Bax went to the tavern. He left SOMEONE in charge. Who is it?" The tone is a little sharper.
Rakk gets the idea that the city guard is pretty inept. He is clearly new to the job, and he doesn't really know what he's doing. In fact, most of the guards look like him.
"We don't really know, sir," says another archer. "Most of the watch is now made up of levies, like us. All the commanders were killed in the Rushmoors."
"We don't know what to do," says the first guard.
There are four guards with you, and they fire arrows at the trolls. Unfortunately, they don't have fire arrows, and they really don't seem to make much impact. Also, Berenn is now out of the inn and heading in the direction of the walls.
Seeing the trolls hanging back once the fire arrows were depleted, Rakk has a sudden realization. "It's a diversion!" he shouts. "They are just here to draw attention, not fight! Alert the rest of the party, see if they are hitting the riverfront!"
Turning to the guardsmen, "Then I'm the new Commander!" he roars. "You, you and you. Go to the mayor and have her send people to the riverfront. You, go north along the wall. You, go south. Tell every 3rd man to come here! If you see trolls on the wall, comeback on the double. MOVE IT!"
"Yes sir!" the men say in unison, a look of relief crossing their faces. They rush down off the walls, speeding away in the dark rain on their missions. Meanwhile, Rakk turns back to fire at another troll, hitting it  and forcing it to flee for real!
Vaddara casts Blacklight Burst, hitting a group of trolls which howl in unearthly pain at the negative energies unleashed upon them. They take [19, 23, and 30 respectively]. These three troll run away into the trees.
Meanwhile, Emyn fires an arrow, hitting a troll for . The troll howls back, throwing something overboard. The tumbling scream tells Emyn it was one of the ferrymen, who hits the water with a splash! Emyn takes another shot, but misses. He then hears some large cracking sounds of wood splintering coming from the ferry.
Finally, Berenn rushes about halfway across town. Elrae and Noot make it to the gatehouse just as Rakk shouts about the attack being a diversion.
Emyn fires another arrow, this one missing. The troll continues to smash up the ferry, and Emyn sees two more swimming around it. He looses track of the water wierds in the dark water. He then fires again, this time hitting on . The troll turns and snarls at him, ripping out the arrow and tossing it away.
Meanwhile, Berenn heads north, to the other ferry. When he gets there, he finds the ferry completely smashed up, half sunk, and floating downriver. There are large trolls at each of the three docks, smashing apart the pilings and dropping the docks into the water.
Back at the walls, the trolls move away from Rakka and Vaddara, retreating back behind a farmhouse where they cannot hit them anymore. Thorgrim sends his elemental after them, and it sinks down into the earth to move through the ground and outside the walls.
Berenn casts Make Flammable on the trolls, which don't seem to notice as they continue to destroy the docks. The guard with Berenn went to get the Mayor, so he's alone.
Meanwhile, at the south ferry the trolls break it free of its mooring, and it begins floating downstream as well. It is also sinking, and the trolls dive overboard. Emyn swears as he no longer has any targets. Then he hears a loud wooden splintering further away, towards the docks. He sees a large shape moving underneath the nearest of the three docks. He also notes his water weirds attacking the trolls in the water.
Finally, the battle at the wall now seems anything but. The trolls that have backed off behind the farmhouse do not reappear. Vaddara has turned around and is flying back towards the keep at the far end of the promontory, near the inn where they all started.
Berenn ignites Bonefire, which gets the attention of the trolls. They sneer at him, but they continue to destroy the docks. Berenn casts Spontaneous Combustion on the nearest troll, the one he earlier made flammable. The troll ignites, but not really. It starts, but then looks like it is only smoldering, rather than burning fiercely. It still doesn't like the flmaes, so it dives off the dock into the water. Two of the trolls then leap off the docks to attack Berenn, while the other three continue to destroy the last two docks.
The trolls that attack Berenn do so with abandon. The first one bites him , while the second one claws him .
Meanwhile, at the south ferry, two trolls finish destroying two of the docks and then move forward to attack Emyn. He hits one . Another one appears at the last dock, helping the last one to destroy it.
Flying through the rain, Vaddara spots Bonefire's flame, as well as the suddenly igniting troll, and she flies to the north ferry as well. She sees the trolls destroying the docks and Berenn facing off against two of them.
At the wall, Rakk makes sure the trolls don't return, and he takes command of the men there, getting real defenses into shape. Elrae works with him, singing inspirational songs. Thorgrim and Noot head off towards the center of town.
Berenn withdraws, backing up 40' down the street. Vaddara then casts another Nystul's Blacklight Burst, hitting both trolls [19 and 18]. The holler out in pain, then turn and flee back to the water, diving in and rapidly swimming away. The other three continue destroying the last three docks.
To the south, Emyn hits another troll , knocking it backwards. It turns and flees back into the water, while the other one attacks. It bites Emyn . Emyn then attacks it again, hitting for . Thorgrim and Noot reach the crossroads, and they see Berenn to the north. They run that way, meeting him where they learn of the troll attack on the ferry.
Back at the wall, all is now quiet. With all the ferries, docks, and boats destroyed, the trolls dive back into the water and flee, their missions accomplished.
The runner returns with the Mayor, who is shocked by the attack. Once Rakk is certain the walls are PROPERLY manned, he returns, just as Bax also arrives. Mayor Kelana upbraids the man, sending back to the inn to get some sleep. Once more guards are posted around the town, especially along the water's edge, she finally addresses the party. "Such a well-planned attack bodes ill," she says. "Trolls have never been so organized." She thanks the party for their assistance. A few docks were nearly saved by their actions. "At least they can be rebuilt, but the others are a total loss." Sighing, she heads back home. "We'll all talk in the morning," she says.
The partys sees to defenses, basically not going back to sleep as they spend a miserable night out in the rain watching for attacks that never come.
The rain finally stops overnight, and eventually dawn breaks. It's a cool, cloudy day, and everything is wet, but at least the trolls are gone.
The party inspects the ferry landings, and they find that both ferries are gone. Cut loose and broken, they floated off downriver and sank somewhere. The docks are also mostly destroyed, but that is secondary. Without ferries, the docks really aren't very useful anyway.
While inspecting the north ferry, Mayor Kelana arrives. Surveying the damage she calmly says, "We are now alone."
"Given the attack, it is clear that this is just the first step they are taking," says Emyn. "There are too many people spread out here and too many without the skills needed to defend the community in its current condition. We need to shorten our lines of defense and retreat to a strong redoubt where we can make the most use. We should look to the keep or to Rualliss'Island if she is willing to allow the presence of the community there until this emergency is over. We also need to prepare some unexpected surprises for the trolls and their leaders when the final assault comes. Have we oil or pitch about that can be used to lay traps?"
"This raid was obviously a precursor to a massive, planned attack," Thorgrim replies. To the party, he says, "We cannot continue our quest while these people are so stricken and isolated. I suggest we track these trolls to their lair and take out their leader. It will render the remaining hundreds more manageable. Lady Kelana, how are your oil supplies? I think we will need Fire power above and beyond our spells to deal with these loathesome creatures. Perhaps a full barrel."
"These haven't been ordinary trolls," says Berenn. "Not only are they following complicated orders, but those ones at the dock, they were darn near fireproof. Even with St. Cuthbert's aid [i.e. a couple of good spells] I could only get them to barely smolder! They reminded me of those zombies in the Lost City."
He checks out the docks, investigating the footprints along the shore. "Lots of water in them," he says. "Must be some kinda water trolls."
He then turns back to Thorgrim. "I agree. We need to take the fight to these trolls. If we...."
"THAT'S SUICIDE!" says a deep voice from behind the party. Looking back, it's Bax, looking a bit worse for wear after the previous night.
"If I had a gold piece for every time I have heard those words," Berenn mutters. "There aren't many choices. What is left of the garrison isn't fit to fight off a swarm of insects ... more or less the threat that faces them. There is no hope of reinforcements or retreat. I would prefer to draw them out into the open and fight them on our terms."
"In the open?" asks Thorgrim, raising an eyebrow. "I don't know about that, but perhaps. Have we given any thought to how we're going to deal with this Troll leader? With the relics of Vecna, it appears he can kill with a look. Who knows what other powers he possesses?"
He gets out his dragonbone pipe and smokes, deep in thought. "I wish Isilme were here..." he mutters.
"We are assuming he has these artifacts and we are basing that off of second hand information at best," says Berenn. "I find it unlikely any troll would have the ability to find and wield such artifacts."
"Unlikely does not mean impossible," replies Thorgrim, "as we ourselves have proven time and again. Given time, the most unlikely of events become not only probable but in fact very nearly certain. And the information we have is first-hand, from Bax."
"Not to be argumentative," replies Berenn, "but I doubt Bax got a good look at the troll leader or the supposed artifacts he possesses. In addition, in his current mental state, I don't find his information reliable. The next thing you know, he will say Iuz appeared and struck his comrades down."
Bax looks at Berenn, anger flashing in his eyes. "You were not there," he snaps. "You did not see what I saw." He balls his fists, but when he sees Rakk tense, he calms down a bit. Looking at the Mayor, he bows his head. "I have shamed myself, and the memory of my companions. I am sorry."
Mayor Kelana places a hand on his shoulder. "That may be so, but today we start again. Rise, Bax, and start anew."
"How long will it take to rebuild the ferries?" asks Elrae, changing the subject. "Can we send word out to a neighboring town to bring supplies to shore up the defenses?"
Rakk nods at the bard knowingly. "I think that was the point of destroying the ferries in the first place ... to make the delivery of any sort of help extremely difficult. I am sure the roads to here will now be watched since we can't receive anything by water. Our choices are limited, we can stay here and hope by some form of divine intervention help arrives or we can take the fight to them."
"**** ferries..." mutters Thorgrim, winking at Elrae.
[DM OOC: LOL! OK, that never gets old!]
Moonday, 3rd of Flocktime (582)
So, the party can take a look at the ferries, but they are gone, simply gone. They floated downriver and sank somewhere. There's no way to rebuild them in a short time. Meanwhile, Rakk takes stock of the town militia. Bax seems to have come around a bit, upset that he let this happen. Together with Rakk, they spend the day inspecting the walls and outlying areas. He agrees that there's no way those walls will keep out the trolls.
"Trolls are excellent climbers," he says, "and they could have scaled the wall anywhere along its length. We may have some oil, but nowhere near enough to drive off the trolls if they attack with real determination. With scrags coming from the water, there's no real defense here." He looks at Rakk. "There's no way to defend this town," he says.
That's the basic consensus of the party as well, so they plan to make a foray into the Rushmoors. The party doesn't get a lot of sleep that night, worried about a troll attack. However, at least the skies clear up, and when they look up at the nearly full moon, they feel a bit of hope, for the first time in days.
Godsday, 4th of Flocktime (582)
The day arrives with a light drizzle, lasting through the afternoon. The party is anxious to meet Rualiss today, for it is a full moon. She told them the Moon Door opens ONLY on a full moon. That evening you head to the Moon Door. Rualiss is already there, Hepla's body laid out on a stone. There you wait, as Rualiss does some ritual stuff. She then shrugs, looking frustrated. "It should be open," she says, looking confused. The party then waits patiently for a couple hours, but nothing happens.
"Is there something we are missing here?" asks Berenn. "Or does it usually take this long for the 'Moon Door' to open?"
Hepala then appears behind Berenn, brushing his backside with a smoot carress as she passes. "What is wrong here," she says. She walks over to the "door" and steps through it. There is a shimmering of light, and she suddenly disappears. Rualiss exhales, clearly relieved. "That was strange," she says. "It was as if the gate was closed."
Rualiss keeps the rest of the party out of the stone circle, while they wait. After a bit, she enters the circle; however, she doesn't disappear. She stands there for some time, then turns back to Emyn. "I'm sorry," she says. "I know not why, but the Moon Door is shut." She looks back, staring into the nothing, then kneels down within the circle. She speaks in a strange language, apparently praying or communing.
Hepala suddenly exits the moon door, she is limping and her hands are shaking. Suddenly Hepla says, "Thank you mama," as she sits up. She is now all in dark forest green, though nobody saw her change. She runs to Emyn and kisses him hard. She then asks, "Was I gone long this time? Seemed like an hour."
"It was close to a week," he says, taking her in his arms. "too long..."
"I'm sorry," she says, kissing him fully. "It seemed like an hour until I saw mom walking over to me, she had a short talk with the cat lord then she took my hand and we sort of walked out. That is when I gave him my cat's eye ring."
Now that Emyn looks at her, he notices that her eyes now look like those of a cat!
She loos around, confused. "Where are we? What's going on?" When she sees Rualliss, she smiles. "Hello lady, you must be the guardian. I am Hepla. She says to the party, "Wow, ..giggle.. have I a story to tell you."
[DM OOC: Some of this may be a repeat of info Hepala shared. I wasn't sure how things would turn out, so there may be some duplication here. Anyway, this is pretty much what Hepla tells you all.]
After dying, Hepla eventually is met by the Cat Lord. There are other beings with him this time, other beast lords like Ferrix the Goddess of the Weretigers and Skerritt, King of the Centaurs. There are others with them, representing others of the beast lords, more than Hepla can really count, and Hepla notes that they have been in battle. Without going into a long drawn-out role-playing thing, I will just give you insight into what she learns. I'm just going to cut/paste from a few sources, so you get some info.
The realm of the Cat Lord is The Cat Lord's Prowl, and it is found in the Feywild. It is the realm of faerie, full of beauty—and deadly danger.
The Feywild (sometimes known as the Plane of Faerie) is a verdant, wild twin of the mortal realm. Towering forests sprawl for a thousand leagues. Perfect amber prairies roll between pristine mountain peaks soaring into the flawless clouds. Emerald, turquoise, and jade green seas crash along endless beaches. The skies are a perfect blue not seen in the mortal world—until storms come, coaldark thunderheads boiling with fierce winds and torrential rains. In this world, arcane power thrums through every tree and rock. All existence is magical.
The creatures native to the Feywild—the enigmatic eladrin, the wild dryads, and many more are all charged with the mystic energy of this plane. Like the land around them, the fey who inhabit this plane run to extremes. Good fey are noble and just, protectors of the natural world and those mortals they choose to show favor to. Evil fey are dark instinct unleashed, all blood and claw and rage. The creatures of the Feywild can be kind, cruel, noble, monstrous, and savage—often all at the same time. The Feydark is the Underdark echo in the Feywild and like most parts of the Feywild it is more majestic and fantastic than its natural counterpart. Inhabited by the vicious hags and tyrannical fomorians, a Fey echo of the titans and prejenitors of all giant races, the Feydark is a cavernous world of maze-like tunnels and portals. The most powerful of the fomorian realms is Mag Tureah, which stands within a country-sized cavern lit by precious gems and stones. This kingdom is ruled by the fomorian king Bres.
The Feywild is in many ways indistinguishable from the natural world. However, like a dream, the Feywild is a dangerous, vibrant reflection of the familiar. The geography of the Feywild parallels that of the mortal realm, if loosely. Various mountains, rivers, and seas on the natural world are found on the Feywild. However, the distances between landmarks in the Feywild—and the landmarks themselves—are often distorted.
Mortals come to this perilous realm to tap into the arcane powers that course like unseen rivers of magic through the wild landscape. Some wish to negotiate secret knowledge; some battle fey who inflict their capricious cruelties on innocents in the mortal world. The dizzying forests, storm-kissed seas, and cloud-sheathed granite peaks of the Feywild hold countless mysteries for those with both the courage and cunning to survive.
In the early days of the Feywild, wild magic swirled through the primal forest, giving birth to countless beasts that were more an extension of nature than inhabitants of it. Some deities found the bright splendor of the place more fitting for their creations, and so fantastic variants of mortal creatures were turned loose under the eternal green shade. Few truly dumb beasts reside in the Plane of Faerie. Most creatures are gifted with some sliver of intelligence, even if nothing more than a malign cunning.
The intelligent races do their best to bend the Feywild to their will. The main rivals attempting to rule the Feywild are the eladrin in their shining cities and the fomorians in their subterranean fortresses. Other races lurk at the edges of the conflict, and the unpredictable character of the fey keeps the balance of power fluid. When dealing with politics in the Plane of Faerie, only one thing is certain: Half of what seems to be true isn’t.
The Lords of the Feywild and their forces just recently battled the lords of the Feydark and their minions. They battled brutal hags led by Baba Yaga, as well as fomorian minions of King Bres himself. They battled to a stalemate, as is often the case, but something stirs in the Feydark, something new. There is tremendous upheaval in the Feywild and Feydark, as evidenced by the battles raging amongst the lords of the realms themselves. These battles are echoing in the Prime, and their center is right where the party rests. There is a portal to the Feywild, the Moon Door, guarded closely by Eladrin for countless centuries. However, another portal, this to the Feydark, lies within the Rushmoors. It was from this portal that the fomorians once reached Oerth, giving birth to the great giant races. In time the two portals were closed, or nearly so. There is always a way to open them, as the Moon Door opens on the full moon. This other portal is the Throne of Vard, King of Trolls and Left-Hand of Vecna. How it opens is unknown to the Fey Lords.
Something has happened on Oerth. The Throne of Vard has been activated once again, and it threatens to unleash upon the world the forces of the Feydark. It lies within the Rushmoors. An ancient fomorian relic which you must destroy to end this threat. Only then will all be set right. The fomorians clamor to return and rule the world once again. For now, the Fey Lords have driven them back, but they cannot defeat them. There must always be balance. However, they can keep them from crossing into the Prime Material Plane, at least for a while.
You must close this portal before time runs out.....
I have to admit, the whole Feywild/Feydark thing had me rather perplexed. I did not like the way it was presented, but it had a lot of stuff that I thought worked well for my conception of the Plane of Faerie. I wrestled with it a lot, looking at trying to make my own amalgam of older views of the planes and the newer view. In the end, I took some of both, and even if they were contradictory, I decided I didn't care. When dealing with the Plane of Faerie, the more confusion the better!
I don't actually ascribe to the Feywild/Feydark concept, but it was good enough to just roll with. What I really wanted was for the party to get an idea about what was going on beyond their reality, to understand the scope of conflict which seems somehow centered on them now. For the most part, I think it worked.
"Looks like we have no choice now but to assault the Rushmoors," Berenn says grimly. "We should make preparations to leave as soon as possible. I don't suppose the Fey didn't bother to saying how to destroy this relic the trolls possess?"
"No they did not," says Hepla.
"Hepla, I can't believe it's you!" exclaims Thorgrim. He gives her a great hug, and then, "What's happened to your eyes?"
"They feel a little funny and I can see better...giggle...do they look ok? It is good to see you Thorgrim, what is going on here?"
[DM OOC: Hepla sees that she can now see in the dark, just as if she had her ring, though the ring is gone. It's not infravision though. It's cat's vision, just like her ring.]
Emyn just grins and hugs his wife. After a time he says, "You're even more beautiful than before. I do think that we need to travel into the Rushmoors. I hate to do so given how the last encounter went but when you think of it, this party owes a debt to the fey following Vestron's actions so long ago. It's time to set that right and avenge the fey who have died."
A large raccoon appears; nobody saw it on the island before. It walks over to Rualiss, wrapping around her feet like a pet cat. You suddenly notice that Rualiss appears very different. Though still with an elven look, she is certainly no elf. Her eyes have no pupils, but are solid orbs of a golden color. Hepla recalls seeing others beings like her in the Land of Faerie.
Hepala smiles and says, "Love is grand but I must go home and rest. Come Star." No one had seen Star till then but when Hepala says what she said, Rakk discovers that Star is sitting on his foot. As Star walks to Hepala the Raccoon shows up. Hepala puts out her hand to stop Star, gets to her feet, looks at 'Rualiss' and says. "My lady, how may we aid you? I had not thought to see you on this side of the Moon Door."
"A dryad?" wonders Berenn aloud.
"No," says Vaddara, who goes to a kneel before Rualiss. She then adds, head bowed, "She is an eladrin. I consider myself truly blessed by your presence my lady."
Rualiss smiles, steps forward, and takes Vaddara by the hand. "Please, stand, I am no deity to be worshipped," she says softly. "Yes, I am an Eladrin." She turns to the rest of the party. "I have been tasked with keeping the Moon Door safe," she says. "Until now, it has been a boring posting, but I sense a change in the winds."
"And most of us have volenterred to help in whatever way we can," says Hepla.
Hepala says, "My daughter speaks the truth, but I am always available to serve this world, and a few others, if I am needed." It is obviouse that she is holding herself up by the strength of her will. She seems exhausted.
Hepala bows to Rualiss, then continues. "It is ever a pleasure to meet one of you race but I do need to get home. I wish you well and should you need me I am sure you will have a way to contact me. Come Star." Mists form around Hepala and she and Star take a step into the mists and then are gone, as are the mists.
"Milady," says Emyn, kneeling and plegeing upon his sword, "I swear by Trithereon that I will do what I can to right this situation and bring balance back to the Feywild and this world."
"Thank you," she replies. After hearing what Hepla shared, she adds, "This door to the Feydark must be closed, at nearly any cost. You have no idea what a true Fomorian could do. Giants, cycopses, even titans; all are descended from the Fomorians. They cannot be allowed to enter the world."
"This sounding vaguely familiar," mutters Berenn. "A gate that needs to be shut ... horrible evil waiting to enter the world."
"What type of otherworldly forces might be waiting on us," asks Emyn.
"I am sorry," she says, "I know only that the Rushmoors are a vast and dangerous swamp. You would do better to ask Mayor Kelana. As for the artifacts, that is hard to say. All have heard tales of the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Powerful and evil they be, infused with the very essence of the Arch-Lich. Who knows what powers they may possess?"
Returning to town, the party can also ask Mayor Kelana about the Rushmoors. Here's what you learn.
Separating Gran March and Keoland, these marshes are slowly receding as determined efforts are made to drain them and claim the fertile land for arable farming. Swamp otyughs, numerous reptiles, and lizard men are among the major fauna of the marshes here. The worst beasts are, of course, trolls. These marshes contain a very tall rush with a stalk as thick and tough as bamboo, which is valued for building animal pens and even stockades. Further, as you've learned, the Rushmoors were the heart of the Occluded Empire of Vecna, until its abrupt fall circa -358 CY. Vecna's Rotted Tower once stood there somewhere.
"What tower?" asks Thorgrim, putting a hand in his pocket and touching his magic fortress.
"It is said The Whispered One's tower, nay the very city itself, was destroyed," says Kelana.
"Another rumor," says Rualiss, "is that it was not destroyed but ripped from Oerth and transported to the Plane of Shadow. Blasted from reality by the powers unleashed in the battle between Vecna and Kas."
"Well, this throne is still there," says Thorgrim, "and it looks like it's up to us to destroy it somehow. Let us go and prepare. We leave at first light!"
The party spends the rest of the day getting ready, then plans to leave in the morning.
Waterday, 5th of Flocktime (582)
The day breaks with a cloudy sky and the scent of rain in the air. Still, Berenn says you must leave now if he's to track the trolls. Luckily, it's not cold, so you prepare yourselves and head north towards the Rushmoors. You are met by Bax who is armed (and sober) near the main town gate.
You recognize in him a man who, though he has seen his share of horrors, has faced his demons and moved forward. He nods to Rakk, taking his arm. "The town's defenses will hold," he says grimly. "Count on that."
"Hopefully we will be successful and there will be no need to put the town's defenses to the test," replies Rakk.
"There is a road going north," says Bax. "If follows the spur of hills extending into the swamp and goes as far as the river. You will find some ruins just before you reach the end, an ancient city, overgrown with grass, moss, and scraggly trees. The track continues into the Rushmoors, always staying on the highground which juts into the swamp like a causeway. Another day or so in, you'll reach our old camp in another ancient ruin. The road continues another for near another day's worth of travel, before the hills descend into the swamp proper and the track is lost. We never made it that far."
Emyn says, "As much as I wish it were not so, I recommend we proceed on foot. Horses will only die in the swamp or when left near to it."
This well-traveled track runs north, staying along the hills in a great bulge into the swamps. Looking east and west at various times you can see the swampy ground at the foot of this small range of hills, not more than 10 miles wide. The road has traditionally been safe, as long as you stay to its well-traveled path well above the swamps. Travelers venture off the road at their own peril. There is evidence of villages here and there, as well as scattered cottages, but most are ruined, recently. At midday you take a break in the center of what used to be a decent sized village, though the place is totally ruined now.
The afternoon break passes uneventfully. While you rest, Berenn takes a look around. There are no signs of a fight here, so the people must have fled before the village was attacked. After a short while, you continue on. The path winds steadily northwards, through the hills. You pass more destroyed buildings on your way. It seems the trolls have left nothing standing in these abandoned hills. Soon it will be nighttime.
"Let us make camp for the night." Thorgrim removes his Fortress from his pouch and erects it. "Shazam!"
Watches are Emyn and Noot, Berenn and Elrae, Rakk and Hepla, Thorgrim and Vaddarra.
"Why do I always get stuck with Elrae?" laments Berenn. "I think I would rather have my other arm ripped off than to have to spend several hours listening to him sing!"
Noot says, "I'll take watch with Elrae. Emyn can take watch with Hepla, and Berenn and Rakk can take a watch." He looks at Emyn and Hepla, "But you better keep watch!"
She laughs. "We will watch but not each other. At least until our watch is over...giggle...then, who knows."
Emyn turns red, starts to say something, then stop. Everyne else laughs except Berenn, who shakes his head.
Earthday, 6th of Flocktime (582)
In the morning you continue on your way. It's cloudy, and a light rain begins to fall. At least it's not cold. You pull cloaks tight, and continue along the road. After about an hour, you hear deep voices from up ahead, coming from a half-ruined stone building off to the right about 100' away. You can't quite tell what they are saying from here.
Berenn sneaks up, and hears a loud couple of burps from inside the ruined building. Peeking in through a window, he sees three trolls and an ettin. They are drinking from a large wine cask, passing it around like a mug.
Berenn will start casting Call Lightning. He kneels down and begins to quietly chant, summoning the forces of nature to do his bidding. [It takes 10 minutes to do this.]
While waiting for Berenn's lightning storm to begin, Thorgrim first summons an earth elemental. "Its job will be to guard the spellcasters, while us fighters engage the enemy." Second, he will cast Detect Invisibility (2nd-level priest), so we don't get waylaid by any invisible ogre mages this time, and suggests Hepla do the same. Last, he will cast Strength of Stone (1st-level priest) upon himself, just before the first lightning strike.
"I don't think collapsing the roof will harm them, much, Berenn...but it will certainly get their attention!"
In the 10 rounds that Berenn has been casting Call Lightning, Elrae has cast Stoneskin. Thorgrim has summoned his Earth Elemental to protect Vaddara and Hepla, while he also cast Detect Invisibility and Strength of Stone (str of 19 now). Vaddara and Hepla have both cast Mirror Image, creating 4 images each.
Now, Hepla and Elrae have both said they are ready to cast other spells, Hepla a Lightning Bolt and Elrae a Melf's Acid Arrow. I will reiterate, that does NOT mean they have them "prepped" or "ready." It means that will be their actions in the next available round/opportunity, unless they post otherwise. You do NOT prep spells. You simply cast them on a particular round as your action.
So, the situation is this. Berenn has completed his casting of Call Lightning, and will now be able to call one bolt every turn (10 rounds). In lieu of other posts, nobody else has prepared anything. So, I've moved Noot up behind the house, as he said. I've moved Elrae and Thorgrim up behind one tree, while Berenn and Rakk are behind another. Emyn is back with Hepla and Vaddara.
The light rain continues, and the trolls and ettin are still inside. That's where we stand.
[Berenn OOC: Enough talk! Berenn lets the first bolt fly!]
A lightning bolt flash from the sky, crashing into the roof of the building! Pieces fly from the building, and you hear the startled cries of the creatures within.
The trolls emerge, and Rakk immediately fires at the nearest. He hits it squarely . It looks mad as it rips the arrow out.
Noot and Hepla both wait.
Elrae casts Melf's Acid Arrow, hitting the troll for . It starts screaming as the acid burns its skin.
The troll that exited towards Noot starts to move around the building. Then it stops, sniffs around, and turns its head quickly towards Noot. It then charges right at him!
[DM OOC: Incidentally, that was a combination of two things. Noot failed his Hide in Shadows roll, so I did a contest of his Hide vs. the Troll's Spot skills, and the troll saw him!]
The troll attacks Noot, clawing him  and biting him . Both are just scratches, but Noot quickly decides to run away. He withdraws, backing up 40'.
Vaddara casts Ball Lightning, hitting the troll that just exited to the NW. It is blasted for  as the ball discharges into it!
The NW troll then charges Rakk. It closes with him, but fails to score any hits as Rakk is half behind the tree trunk. Rakk drops his bow and pulls out his two blades.
Emyn holds his position as the last troll charges right at Thorgrim. It's first claw rips along Throgrim's armor, just scratching him , but the second is a wicked cut across his face [21: x 3 crit]. Holding him with two hands, it bites down on Thorgrim's head [21: x3 crit too! That's bad luck!!!
Thorgrim shrugs off the attacks, swinging Souldrinker in a viscous blow .
Berenn has his Holy Orb spell finally ready, but he has lost any decent targets. He drops it on the one fighting Rakk. It shrieks in agony as the righteous power of St. Cuthbert tears at its soul [42!]. It falls to the ground in trembling lump.
Thorgrim missed his second attack. Rakk didn't get more, because he switched to swords.
The acid continues to burn the troll attacking Thorgrim , and it flails about madly, hitting him with a claw  and a bite .
Rakk runs up to the building. He finds a few collapsed walls, and takes up a position between them, in case the ettin comes out. Berenn ignites Bonefire and beheads the troll at his feet, the flames of Bonefire catching the dry troll skin. Noot runs further, with the troll running after him! They are well off the map now. Hepla casts Magic MIssile simultaneously as Vaddara casts Maiming Missiles. Hepla does  while a handful of steel missiles streak into it from Vaddara's outstretched hands doing  more. The troll falls back to the ground, and Thorgrim lays into it with two swings of Souldrinker [15 and 14: total 29]. It is a bloody, smoking mass of troll pulp!
The ettin then emerges, and Rakk immediately lays into it. In fact, the entire party, now not busy with trolls, attacks the thing together, and it falls back into the building. Berenn then unloads lightning on the building, burying the ettin beneath a pile of rubble. Eventually, Noot returns, having lost the troll which then got sidetracked and just went off into the swamp. With the things all finished, the party camps for the night, using what remains of the building for shelter.
Freeday, 7th of Flocktime (582)
You actually have a restful sleep. A few cantrips from Hepla clean the place up, and remove the troll stink, and you are relatively comfortable. It's at least dry, which is a good thing because it starts to rain in the middle of the night. It's warm in the morning, thought the light rain continues after the sun rises.
"I think I prefer the Fortress," Thorgrim says, stretching his back. "Although it may attract unwanted attention. And with such a dangerous enemy lurking...I don't know. Perhaps it's best to keep a low profile and provide opportunity for escape and movement."
"The question is, why were these monsters here?" wonders Emyn. "A sentry post? Or just raiding?"
Berenn looks around in the light and concludes that they were not here long. "Damage is all recent," he says. "The trolls have driven all the farmers and sheepherders out of these hills recently, and it seems the ones we fought were just taking refuge here from the storm. We should continue on our way."
As you move on, you find a ruined village. There is nobody about, and all the buildings are destroyed. However, just beyond the old village you see a partially broken stone marked with Giant runes. Rakk says that this is old, and it identifies this as the town of Orrak. Crumbled stone walls flank the remnants of a dirt road, the area around it overgrown with tall grass, moss, and a few scraggly trees.
Hepla says, "I thought the giants and the trolls were working together. This is a bit strange." She alos searches. If this was a giant's town she is feeling very small.
"No," says Rakk, "This is just a marker from a much older town. This ruin is probably one of the many remnants of the ancient troll kingdom of Vardar. The locals likely built upon this site, without having any idea that it was once the spot of an ancient Vardar town."
[DM OOC: Just in case you don't get it, there was once, over a thousand years ago, a town named Orrak. It was part of the kingdom of Vardar, part of Vecna's Empire. It was overthrown and forgotten, and in time people built their village on this spot. The marker was just one of the few signs of the ancient town still visible. Other than that, there's nothing here but the destroyed remnants of the human village that was here until recently.]
"The way of the world..." Thorgrim says. "Civilizations crumble, and new ones grow on top of the bones of the old."
You ride on with little issue until nearly sunset. The road basically stops; however, an old road continues down the hill. There are more hills to the north, but there is a small river cutting through them here. The road leads down to the flatland which looks swampy.
Nobody spots anything, though there is plenty of sign of troll activity. When you return, Thorgrim decides that it's probably best to not build his tower. However, he will keep it handy if you need to retreat into it. Meanwhile, it's better to bed down quietly, as stealthily as possible, and no fires.
"We will make sure our watches are move vigilant moving forward since we are in enemy territory," says Berenn. "In the morning, I will see if he can pick up and trails that are used regularly by the trolls."
Starday, 8th of Flocktime (582)
The dawn breaks with a cloudy sky and warm weather, as usual. You aren't disturbed during the night, though occasionally you thought you heard something heavy walking around somewhere. however, staying hidden, you had no encounters. In the morning, you get up and find that Berenn has already scouted the area. A river cuts through the hills here, and to the north and east it has carved a deep canyon. Towards the NW the river opens into lowlands which are flooded, though they don't look like swamp. Rather, it is simply flooded due to the persistent rains. As if on cue, the rain starts again as Berenn returns.
The road continues along, growing quite overgrown with weeds as it descends into the flooded lowlands. It doesn't look like a modern road or path, and certainly hasn't seen much traffic, at least by men. It is more like an ancient road that simply isn't used anymore. The road runs down into flooded lowlands. By the time you get to the bottom, you find that the creek/river has overrun its banks and flooded this entire area. Did I mention? It also starts to rain again.
"We shouldn't attempt to cross the river while it is flooding," says Berenn. "Finding higher ground would be advisable."
"It matters not to me," says Thorgrim. "I will go with you Land-Walkers wherever you choose. I do think Rakk would prefer avoiding the water, though. Although it will be only a temporary respite for him, before we get to the swamps."
Emyn says, "Hepla, why don't you change into something that can fly and take a look? Maybe you can find a safe path."
Hepla casts Invisibity and Flight and starts by flying stright to the hills she sees ahead of her. She doesn't spot anything around. It's two miles across the flooded plains, and then the ground rises to the hills again. Or you could continue through the floodlands until they turn into a nice proper swamp, extending north as far as she can see..... The hills also continue to the north, at least for a couple dozen miles.
"I thought we were looking for swamps, not avoiding them?" asks Thorgrim.
From what you heard, this small river (currently flooding with the spring thaw and the recent rains) marks the boundary of civilization, or at least it used to. Lord Etheran's men came this way, forded the river here, and then made their way back up into the hills, taking advantage of the higher ground as much as possible. This range of hills juts deep into the surrounding swamp, like a long finger pointing at the center of it. So, following the trail of Lord Etheran's men, you must follow the hills too. Of course, at this point, on account of the flooded area, Berenn has lost the trail of the trolls as well.
"Curse this rain!" says Berenn. "The trail's have been washed away. I will try to lead us in the same direction Lord Etheran's men went, but doing it from memory isn't as good as having a trail to follow."
[DM OOC: So you just have to cross the about two mile-wide stretch of flooded flatlands.....]
Hepla casts Fly on Rakk, who flies across the water alongside her. Vaddara also casts Wings of God to cross. Thorgrim just walks, using his Ring of Water Walking. Rakk carries Emyn with him, and they reach the other side. He then flies back and forth a few times, carrying the rest of the party (since the others aren't strong enough) until everyone is across.
[DM OOC: See? Not everything is a trap!]
The party crosses over the flooded plains without issue, then passes into the hills once more. In time the flying spells all end. Late in the day, they find signs of battle and the remains of a recent campsite. Rakk finds a few torn pages of parchment, trodden into the dirt. They are journal entries written by one of Etheran’s companions before they were ambushed here. The fragments reveal that the group was camping in the ancient outpost of Bravak, and were about to head north in search of something called the Great Warren. The writing ends abruptly, as though the author was interrupted in the middle of completing his or her thoughts.
Berenn investigates the site, and determines that trolls attacked from all directions. They were defeated, and the men continued on to the north.
"We had best make haste northward at first light," says Emyn. "I doubt this was the last ambush the Lord and his men had to face."
"We have a few more hours of light," says Berenn. "Let's press on."
The party travels a couple more hours to where the ancient road splits. One fork heads off to the NE while another continues north. Following the tracks is impossible here. Etheran and his men were here more than two weeks ago, and it's been raining nearly every day since. Plus there are many signs of large creatures here, trolls or ogres or such, so you can't "track" anyone from that old camp.
Vaddara mumbles, "Where is Isilme and her invisible flying speciality?"
Hepla takes up Isilme's old duties and flies off to scout. She scouts above the party, circling around, and when she returns she reports that the north road starts to head back down to a small swampy valley. The NE road continues to follow the hills, staying well up out of the swamp. It takes her about an hour to get all this info and return.
The party has stayed up on the highground and not really gone into the swamps at all. Here's a progress map:
The dotted line coming Northwest from Redlee Manor is your path, basically. It's following this long section of higher ground which leads into the swamp's interior. As you can see, you are now more or less on a penninsula, jutting into the heart of the swamp. BTW, emember that this map isn't perfect. You don't really have this map; I'm just using it to show you "basically" where you are. The terrain inside the borders of the swamp are pretty much unknown. Once you get into the darker parts, well.....
Sunday, 9th of Flocktime (582)
The high ground you are on right now is actually a small range of hills that juts into the swamp. It doesn't continue forever!!!
Again, you pass an uneventful night. However, crappy food and no fire is starting to get old already. Thorgrim mutters that it would be nice to use the fortress; however, he knows it's not a good idea to put up a tower where anyone could see it. So, you continue to endure the elements. At least your sleep was again not disturbed. [lucky encounter rolls!]
The next day is warm, but again, it's very cloudy. The sun doesn't seem like it will break out of the clouds today, and Berenn notes that it's likely to rain soon. As you continue along the old road, which is a VERY old road, it Y's again. One branch continues north while another starts to go east, winding down from the hills and towards the swamp below.
Before we're traveling in rain Vaddara casts Aura of Comfort on herself and any who requests it but especially the grumpy Thorgrim. The cold she welcomes but wet soggy leather armor just isn't going to work for her.
"Thanks," says Thorgrim, "but it's just a bit of rain. I'm sure we'll get a lot more wet before this day is done."
"Maybe Thorgrim should walk on his hands. That ring will surely keep him dry if his feet are above his head," Emyn jokes lamely as rain cascades down his armour. "We should take the path into the swamp, I think. Keeping to its edges likely won't help us find the warren unless there is some sign otherwise."
"We'll have to descend into the swamps eventually," Thorgrim says. "If we find no sign of our quarry soon, I'd suggest one of those roads we passed, as it's likely the trolls use them, too."
"Trolls don't live i' water, neither," says Rakk. "Just th' ones what breath it. They'll be in the hills, or caves, most like. They don' build much, now."
"We'll end up in the swamp either way," says Noot. "We might as well stay dry as long as possibe. Besides, the higher ground is easier to defend if something nasty should come our way."
"We're s'posed to be findin' their main fort," answers Rakk. "Won't be underwater. Most likely a cave ina hill. Or several of 'em that connect. Or the remains of a city. Most trolls don' breath water so they need ta be above. Let's follow the hills fer now."
"I guess that does make sense," says Emyn.
You continue along the hills for a few more hours. Eventually, you reach another Y crossroads. Hepla, scouting ahead and invisibile, reports that there is a ruin a few miles down the left branch. The right branch continues north into the hills.
"Let's investigate the ruins. If nothing else, they may be a defensible position for the night."
The ruins lie in some woods. Hepla could see a large clearing within. In fact, this small ruin is surrounded on all sides by forest, with trees growing inside and through the buildings. She says there is a group of trolls attacking a building. One side of the building is collapsed, but there is a fire blocking the trolls from entering. She could not see anything inside, though part of the roof of the building was destroyed. It's one of the only buildings that is still remaining. The trolls are gathered outside, south of the building and near a large round fountain.
"Trolls," Elrae sighs, "why did it have to be trolls? I'm staying back out of the way this time."
Emyn says, "They're not paying attention to us. We should prepare before charing blindly in. Flaming arrows, oil and the like. Spells cast before combat. Maybe a stoneskin spell on those in the front lines so we don't get arms ripped off."
Berenn gives Emyn a harsh look, then pulls on his Elven Cloak and disappears into the foilage.
"There's someone in the building, certainly!" says Thorgrim. "Hepla, save your Fire Ball for when possible innocents are clear, or they might be fried to a crisp!"
Hepla and Vaddara then fly up into the air, moving up stealthily to blast the trolls with spells.
Emyn mutters, "For once I urge caution and they just charge in like Gotrek....sigh." He will move forward, making sure he remains behind the trolls.
Elrae and Rakk have moved through the ruined building, to where there is a break in the wall and they can fire missile weapons. Berenn has moved up under the tree, invisibile. Thorgrim and Noot have moved up under the tree as well, behind Berenn. Vaddara cast her spell, and Hepla moved by her as she's going to stick close to Vaddara. Hepla's following, staying close so they can communicate. This will not put Hepla in a position where she can line up lightning bolts.
[Rakk OOC: wow, our scouts suck. I've shot half-size targets further out shooting blind with someone else spotting. I've seen deer further than that in the swamps around here. And we didn't see a blazing fire until we were 150' away? Why doesn't it work this way when it's us making the light?]
[DM OOC: Well, you were coming out of a forest and were on the other side of ruined buildings. And I put the fire there at the last minute! Look, some of how the encounters are set up is just based on what I can do map-wise. Heck, this map was supposed to be made for the large squares you can see in the image. It STILL isn't really big enough for an encounter that should start at further distances, because of Hepla's scouting. It was the best I could do!]
Berenn casts the spell Lava Monster, but nothing happens. He realizes that the fires from which he was attempting to draw out a Lava Elemental are not real; they are illusions!
Rakk then fires his bow, hitting the troll atop the building . The troll spins and falls off the precarious surface, landing with a thud on the hard ground .
The trolls move. The one gets up, snaps a broken arm back in place, and looks around. Two trolls move towards Vaddara, looking up at her and growling, while the one that fell moves over to the next building where there's a lot of stone and throws a large rock at her, missing. The trolls don't seem to have spotted anyone other than Vaddara.
Hepla flies back to the SE, lining up the trolls around the building for a lightning bolt. Vaddara meanwhile casts Call Woodland Beings. Emyn summons Avengers, and two ankhegs erupt from the ground behind the trolls!
Everyone else does nothing, and even Rakk holds his next shot since the trolls didn't spot him and Elrae whispers, "wait!"
Gotrek appears, seemingly out of nowhere, axe in hand and muttering and cursing as usual. Isilme appears also, flying above him. "Calvary has arrived" she says sweetly.
"Gotrek is back!" yells Elrae, revealing his presence to the trolls. "Huzzah! We've got the band back together."
Noot continues to hide, while Hepla flies up another 5' and casts Minor Globe of Invulnerability.
Vaddara attempts to summon centaurs while Thorgrim summons his Earth Elemental.
The trolls leap upon the ankhegs, tearing at them viciously. Two trolls attack each ankheg, and they all get caught up in a swirling tangle of claws and bites.
The two trolls below Vaddara rush the elemental, clawing and biting at it [for 35]. The last troll throws another rock at Vaddara, this time hitting her .
Elrae casts Lightning Bolt, hitting both trolls [12 and 13].
Rakk then drops his bow, draws his sword, and steps up behind the first troll. He hits it with a slash across the back .
Emyn changes weapons, as the trolls have advanced. He moves up around the elemental.
[DM OOC: Lost some posts, but the battle was short and swift after this, with a barrage of lightning bolts, fireballs, and acid arrows.]
Berenn walks through the flames and finds himself inside the ruined building, unharmed by the illusion. The interior is dark, and he doesn't see anything as he looks around. Berenn looks around as the flames outside suddenly disappear. Stepping out from behind a small rock is a 2' tall female pixie. The first thing he notices is that her silver, gossamer wings are missing; they have been brutally torn off.
"I mean you know harm," says Berenn. "The trolls which were pursuing you have been turned to ash. I am an accomplished healer if you will allow me to help you."
The pixie is clearly uncertain, yet she moves forward cautiously. "I am Alii Sidhenui," she says. "Thanks you."
"My name is Berenn Silverwood and I am Ranger and Healer," he says. "There are several of my companions outside and they will bring you no harm. We have been hunting trolls in these lands and I am sorry we did not arrive sooner. Allow us to tend to your wounds as best we can."
The pixie can barely move, before she falls forward and passes out. Berenn catches her just before she hits the ground.
The trolls are finally burned and the party gathers around the pixie, Alii. After some healing, which includes Berenn's rod, she regains consciousness. "Thank you," she finally says.
Hepla now says, "Hello, I am Hepla, will your wings grow back?"
She twists, glancing over her shoulder as if trying to see her back. "Not here," she says sadly. "Only the power of the Fey can restore them."
"What happened here?" Thorgrim asks.
"The troll kind, Skalmad," she says, bitterly. "He tore from me my precious wings. I escaped, but without them I could no longer disappear. The trolls gave chase and cornered me here."
Alii was scouting the area, seeking the location of the Throne of Vard. She followed the trolls after they slew Etheran and his companions, infiltrating their Great Warren. However, she was captured by them. They somehow cancelled her ability to become both invisible and fly. Then the troll king, Skalmad, tore her wings from her, and in the commotion (apparently that was a big deal to the trolls!) she escaped. She'd been running for a couple of days, and every time she thought she was safe, the trolls found her again. They finally cornered her here in this ancient ruin. She used the last of her magics to fool them with her illusions, but it was only a matter of time before they made their way in. That's when you all showed up.
Yes, she will tell you how to find Skalmad's lair, the Great Warren. She is not sure if she can make it back, not without her wings. It seems the wings are both the source of a pixie's ability to fly (naturally) but also their invisibility. That's why Skalmad tore them off. Pixie wings are used to make Dust of Disappearance. Of course, it's also possible that Skalmad just snorted it!
So, Isilme and Gotrek have returned, and the party has a guide to reach the Great Warren and find this Skalmad. They camp for the night, catching up on Gotrek's news from the Bandit Kingdoms while preparing for the coming day.
Moonday, 10th of Planting (582)
After finishing up here, the party rests and heals. You may as well spend the night here. While looking around, being in a ruined city, you find the following.
One crumbling structure has its door scribed with Giant runes identifying it as the Hall of Trozad. Exploring this ruined building reveals a loose stone that conceals a small compartment. Within the compartment, Noot find the tatters of a pouch and six large gold coins (about 4" in diameter) engraved with the seal of the ancient Ur-Flan empire. He judges them to be worth about 100gp, "However," he adds, "they could be worth far more to the right collector."
Other than that, you don't find anything here. There are signs of many trolls and other unsavory types here, but you find no more. Berenn follows the tracks of the last troll for a bit, and after talking to Emyn realize they go the same way the party intends to travel.
That evening passes uneventfully, and you set a fire up in the ruined building to dry equipment. In the morning you awake to continue towards the Great Warren. By all reckoning, it'll take about a day to get there, maybe more if you get delayed. The day is again cloudy, and a light rain falls around noon. However, it's warm enough (near 70*) that it isn't discomforting. You are ready to head out for the Great Warren.....
The scouts check the area out, looking for the Great Warren. In a dank mass of thickets among steep hills, you come across a
half-sunken road of stone blocks. The road leads to a 20-foot-tall standing stone carved with poorly chiseled runes. The ancient runes are in the Ancient Vardar troll script, which Isilme can translate thanks to her book. They read:
“This stone I raise to mark my kingdom. All that lies within fifty leagues of this spot belongs to me and those kings who come after me. You stand now in the land of Vard, first King of Vardar.”
The road continues for another two hundred paces, following a sluggish stream. It ends at a large, heavily overgrown cave. The stream flows into the cave through jagged pillars of stone that resemble great fangs in a gigantic maw. A path on its left bank ends in darkness. A large gate blocks the path where it enters the caverns beyond.
"A troll kingdom this old that has not been rooted out?" wonders Isilme. "Interesting."
"This is a cheery place," says Berenn.
Emyn says, "Skalmad has a special eye with great powers. I hope it is not the dreaded Eye of Vecna."
"There is only one way to find out." Hepla says.
"His power may not lie in his gaze, but within the eye itself," Thorgrim says.
"True," replies Emyn. "I suspect more is unknown than known about such a terrible thing. Maybe Elrae knows stories that could tell us more."
[DM OOC: I already gave you all the info you could garner.]
Isilme, flying and invisible, as usual, flies through the "maw" above the river. She is able to squeeze her lithe form through the "teeth" and scouts inside.
Ignore the party tokens. I just put them there to have them on the map, but the party is NOT that close. In fact, they are about 10 minutes away, well hidden.
The area is brightly lit, with torches in wall sconces around the entry chamber. The entire area is of unworked natural stone. There are two sections, with the east one raised 10' above the lower left side. A steep slope connects the two. [On the map that looks like stairs or a ladder, but it's more just a very steep slope.] Isilme noted that it would be difficult for a normal sized man to squeeze through those stone pillars, and impossible for Rakk. A large tree trunk spans the stream like a bridge [Isilme's counter is on the tree trunk], and the passage to the south continues off until it reaches a ladder going down. The stream continues on to east, bending to the north. The front door is barred with a sliding bolt. The north passage leads to an arrow slit, where there is another hobgoblin.
Inside the chamber are three trolls and three hobgoblins. The trolls are guarding the lower section, while the three hobgoblin archers guard the raised eastern section.
Isilme flies down to the SE, checking that area. The scent of wood smoke can’t cover the foul stench that rises from this good-sized cavern. The space is divided into a number of smaller chambers by poorly stacked stone walls. Dim firelight flickers from somewhere ahead, the wall jogging sharply to the east. Without going down there, she can't make out much more. Flying back along the stream, she reaches another log bridging it. A passage to the left goes back to the entry. One to the SE goes a bit then down a ladder to another passage. The stream continues to the NE, turning to the east after a while.
After seeing this, Isilme flies back to the party to report what she found. The party decides to wait until early morning to enter, and they pull further back to rest for the evening. They spend the night (about 10 pages of posts which I won't post!) arguing about how to enter. Here is what they decide:
Battle Plan: First, we wait til early morning, just pre-dawn or there-abouts, and any pre-battle spells can be cast, stoneskin, etc..Vaddara casts wall of fog. sudden fogs arise at that time a lot. Isilme and Hepla (if Hepla is) can sneak in using Invisibility and Fly.
If we are going to have Rakk front, then Isilme should try to charm the nearest troll, otherwise just get to one of the log bridges. If we don't want Rakk to try to talk, please sleep the watch at the spyhole! We advance to the gate. Either Rakk talks or Vaddara or Hepla Shrink the door. Rakk tries to push the first (hopefully surprised) troll back so the rest can rush in. Isilme or Hepla cast sleep on the hobgoblin archers if possible.
The fighters finish off the trolls. (YAY!)
Godsday, 11th of Flocktime (582)
It is just before dawn. Isilme and Hepla are invisible, and they head off into the troll warrens via the river. Hepla casts Fly before leaving, so she can fly in alongside Isilme. The two hold hands as they fly, and they take up initial positions by the first (southern) log. Thorgrim casts Silence on a stone, keeping it handy as the party moves up through the fog.
Rakk steps out of the fog and slams the door, roaring "Open up, ya sluggarths! Tis damp out here." in Jotan.
The peephole of the gate slides open, and a troll inside looks out. It speaks to Rakk, though he cannot understand the troll's speech. Rakk speaks Jotun (giant common) to the troll, but it doesn't understand. However, the troll says something to Rakk which seems to indicate he should wait there, then the troll shuts the sliding peephole door. Inside it turns and speaks to the other trolls, then one of them starts to head for the southern of the tree-trunk bridges over the stream. The hobgoblins, draw arrows, while one of the trolls starts to throw back the bolt and open the gate. The other stands ready for a fight.
"Stay ready," says Rakk quietly, as he hears the gate being opened. "They are letting me in." The gate then is thrown open, and the troll inside sizes Rakk up. It looks beyond Rakk, into the deep fog, then waves for him to enter.
Isilme casts Charm Monster on the troll as it crosses the log bridge. It stops as it is just stepping onto the log bridge, stands there for a moment as it hears Isilme casting her charm, then stands there confused, as she succeeds in charming it. None of the others noticed. Isilme Tells the troll that all those others have betrayed his tribe, and to pull the log bridge back and ensure no one passes him, once he gets to the far side. Our Friends and allies are here to deal with the disloyal, do not attack any newcomers.
Rakk enters, while the rest of the party crouches back in the fog, unable to see or be seen. They are about to charge....
Isilme Tells the troll that all those others have betrayed his tribe, and to pull the log bridge back and ensure no one passes him, once he gets to the far side. Our Friends and allies are here to deal with the disloyal, do not attack any newcomers. It complies, pulling the log bridge away. The hobgoblins behind it call out as it does this, and the nearest of the two lower trolls steps up, also calling to the troll asking what it's doing.
Just then Gotrek comes charging in out of the fog, attacking the troll at the gate. He hits it with a slash from Goreblade . Hearing Gotrek, Hepla casts Sleep in the middle of the three hobgoblins, but only one falls to the ground asleep. He turns and looks that way, after hearing her voice, then yells something about something invisible.
Emyn rushes forward, but cannot get passed Gotrek to attack the troll. Rakk quickdraws his blade, slashing the troll across the back .
The troll reals from the dual blows, whirling around and flailing at both. It rakes him with its claws and its bite and hitting with all three! He takes [16: Crit to left leg, minor bleeding, 1/2 move; 5, and 10: total 31]. He is also pushed 5' back by the attack to his rear. He is pushed up against the wall of the chamber. There are still more actions for the rest of the party, but I gotta run for a second....Gotrek also takes two hits, one is a claw swipe [5 and 10: total 15].
Isilme casts Charm Person on the next hobgoblin, charming it. She calls out to it as she said, which makes it confused for a moment before turning its bow on its companion. It fires a shot, missing, while the other one then turns and fires a shot back, hitting . Nobody else outside can get passed Gotrek, who is fighting in front of the gate.
A fourth hobgoblin runs into the chamber, trying to figure out what's going on. As he watches, the charmed one fires another arrow down the passage to the east, hitting the other , while being hit in return . The newcomer rushes up the stairs, then stands there confused when he sees his companions firing arrows at each other. When he shouts at them, both shout back conflicting stories.
Meanwhile, down below Rakk attacks, nearly slashing the leg off of the one fighting Gotrek in the doorway . Thorgrim rushes in, whirling passed Emyn and Gotrek, to attack the other troll. He takes a slash of a claw as he approaches , but hits the troll back , killing it and pushing into the chamber. Nobody else wants to push in, as they would be subject to AoO as they advance, so they hang back.
Hepla flies up a bit and casts Sleep, making another hobgoblin fall asleep. Isilme then flies around to where Hepla is, by the other log.
Berenn moves over to the arrow slit, with intentions to cast Stone Shape and make an opening. He is followed by Noot and Elrae.
The troll continues to attack Rakk, hitting him with a claw  and a bite [9: total 16]. Rakk strikes back with a sword cut .
Thorgrim steps further into the chamber, swinging back at the troll and hitting . Gotrek then steps up, also attacking the troll and hitting it . The troll is knocked back 5' by Gotrek's blow. Emyn follows behind Gotrek, and the troll takes a swing at him as he closes, missing. Emyn hits the troll with another sword stroke . Rakk moves up the rest of the way to the troll, basically surrounding it, as Vaddara moves up from the outside. A growl from behind catches her attention, and she sees Ralph growling as the fallen troll attacks him, clawing him [8 and 8, and biting Ralph 10]. Ralph whines as the troll rends it, tossing the wolf aside. The troll then gets up, facing Vaddara who stands in the gateway. Finally, the two hobgoblins draw swords, attacking each other atop the ledge.
Berenn Stone Shapes an opening where the peephole was, creating a doorway wide enough to pass through. Noot and Elrae step aside. "After you," they say to Berenn. Meanwhile, Isilme pulls the other log across the stream as Hepla flies off to the south.
Vaddara backs off to cast a spell, but cannot get out of the troll's reach. It claws at her, barely missing as she conjures up a ball of lightning. It fries the troll , and the troll falls back, dead again.
Rakk side-steps, slashing the troll for . Gotrek also hits with Goreblade for .
The troll misses with its claws, but bites Emyn [14 CRIT, but Emyn avoids an injury]. Emyn swings, hitting the troll , dropping it, and Thorgrim puts his pick through its face . Gotrek hits it again , and Rakk moves up to the gate, to hold off the last troll which claws him for  as he approaches.
Thorgrim stands guard over the downed troll, attacking if it even twitches, until we get some troll-finishing fire or acid into play. He seems to have forgotten to exchange one of the potions in his utility belt with a flask of acid.
A thud above shows one of the hobgoblins being pushed back off the ledge. The other one, seeing the fight below, turns and runs east; however, it stops at the stream which now has no bridge remaining across it.
Isilme charms the last hobgoblin, while the others take out the last troll. Vaddara dismisses the fog.
When Berenn and company finally arrives, Isilme mocks them. "Nice of you guys to show up! You didn't actually burn a useful spell when we had a wide open door did you?"
With one hobgoblin left, and charmed, Isilme sets to getting some info. Their tribe doesn't live in the Great Warren, but out in the swamps. Actually, most of the trolls don't live here either; they also live throughout the swamps. The Great Warren is basically Skalmad's Palace. Only the tribe's elite warriors are here, those with the troll gift (that is troll blood). You see this is quite evident by the great noses that these guys have; they are not normal hobgoblins.
Meanwhile, Emyn pours oil over the downed trolls, and Berenn uses Bonefire, his trusty Flame Tongue, to set them aflame. The hobgoblin the sketches Isilme a rough map:
[Berenn OOC: LOL! That is fantastic! Did little Rags draw that for you?]
[DM OOC: Shut up you! Drawing with a mouse is tough! Probably about as good as a hobgoblin could do anyway!!!]
Again, a long period of discussion ensued, which ended with the party deciding to get the hobgoblins and trolls fighting while they sneak further in. Isilme sends the hobgoblin down to tell them of the troll "treachery." They don't believe him until she sends the charmed troll down to attack them for "their" treachery. A big fight ensues between them. Meanwhile, the party slips off to the east......
"We should take the path where is no fighting," says Emyn. "There are many foes here and wasting ourselves on the lesser ones may cause us to fail at our true mission: kill Skalmad and prevent the formorians from destroying our world and the Feywild. Best to meet our greatest enemy at as close to ful strength as we can and then break the morale of his minions."
"I agree with Emyn," Thorgrim says, then seems surprised that he said it. "We take the path of least resistance, to fight Skalmad at full strength, which we shall need. Whether the minions break and run or whip themselves into a concerted killing frenzy is of no consequence." Thorgrim pats his Potions Utility Belt with a satisfied grunt. "We also have enough oil to burn the place out."
Isilme agrees with Berenn. A strange occasion indeed. "I stand with Berenn. I am not going to risk my life needlessly hacking my way through the troll nation. You guys couldn't make it through a warren of kobolds with that tactic," she chuckles.
While the party considers further action, Isilme flies invisibly south to see the fruits of her actions. The troll is now dead. About half-dozen hobgoblins died in the fight too. There are maybe another half-dozen left. The charmed one was one of the first to fall, so both Isilme's charmed creatures are gone.
While this is happening, Hepla flew further to the east. She flies about a 100' into the cavern flies out and returns to the party. When she flies further into the chamber, she sees a large sleeping creature (like giant bear sized) off to her right (the west). There were more exits from this cavern, to the left, right and ahead.
Thinking it a bear, Berenn enters with Hepla, using his cloak for invisibilitiy. Something is there, though he cannot see what from a distance. Berenn also notes, with his true infravision, that there is a large pile of bones on a lower level, and a troll sleeping there.
There are three exits from the upper level, and the lower level continues out of sight.
Before Berenn can act, Gotrek rushes in, singing his warsong. Berenn does his best facepalm, as the giant bear and the troll both wake up.
Berenn is totally taken aback by the size of this bear. He's never seen anything like it. It is over 10' long, and when it stands up, it is truly massive!
Berenn casts Animal Friendship, which has no effect except to draw the bear's attention to him.
Hepla flies back to the northern wall (there is no light. That may be on the map, but I very explicitly stated that the area is dark.).
The bear charges forward, and it is met by Gotrek in mid charge. The bear hits Gotrek first with its long reach, grabbing him  and pulling him into a massive bear hug . Gotrek is grappled, and he cannot wield his axe. He tries to break free and fails.
Everyone else hears a VERY LOUD roar! "It sounds like our friends need us. I wonder what happened to their plan?" Elrae pulls out Sweetness and heads towards the roar, though keeps and eye on what may lurk behind him.
"Let's," replies Thorgrim. "Rakk, care to play rear guard?"
Isilme does another facepalm, but being invisible nobody notices. "Not that it matters," she mutters.
Hepla casts Polymorph, but it fails. The giant bear continues to hug Gotrek  and bites him in the face . Gotrek uses his close combat weapons, wiggling around and doing  to the bear which lets him go.
Berenn casts Speak with Animals. The troll then begins to chant, and suddenly both Berenn and Hepla are visible!
Emyn takes a lit torch and heads east, crossing the log bridge. Thorgrim follows close behind. Everyone else stays with Rakk back at the entrance, which Elrae locks back up. Noot slips back into the shadows.
As Emyn crosses the bridge, a large gargoyle flies into him. It was just skimming the water and coming from the NE. It hits him with two claws [4 and 3: total 7] and carries him right off the log and into the water. He immediately goes underwater beneath the creature, and has no time to grab a breath!
Thorgrim moves up and he is attacked by another, which hits him with a claw . He is knocked off the log too, but falls back onto dry land. He is prone, with the gargoyle flying above him, clawing and such at him.
This shows the area of the log, where Emyn and Thorgrim were just attacked. Emyn and the one gargoyle are actually in the water. Emyn is totally underwater (and grappled) while the gargoyle is half in the water and half out. Thorgrim is just passed the log and prone. Sorry, forgot to circle him! Those still back in the other room, namely Vaddara and Rakk, hear the splash. They look over and see the gargoyle attacking Thorgrim.
Berenn tries to speak with the bear, but it completely ignores him now. The bear swipes Gotrek aside with one of its massive paws . Gotrek flies 10' to the southeast, right into the ledge. He hits it hard, taking  more and falling down. The bear then moves up on Berenn, attacking with another paw swipe and a bite, but missing.
Hepla digs out her Wand of Whips while Gotrek gets up. He then advances on the bear, hitting it .
Emyn and the creature are carried under the log bridge and downstream. Emyn is able to break free, and he finds he can touch bottom so he grabs a breath, but he cannot keep his feet in the current and is tumbled backwards again.
"Hepla!" cries Thorgrim. "Emyn's in the river!"
Hepla flies back towards the log. She sees Emyn tumbling downriver to the north, barely because it's dark. [She used a full move to get here, so she cannot do anything else until next round.]
Vaddara steps up and casts Lightning Bolt. It is able to move out of the way and the bolt only barely hits it . The bolt also barely misses Hepla, as it passes, bounces off the far wall and heads down the river tunnel. In the flash of light, Hepla sees Emyn trying to keep himself up. He's lost his shield and his sword.
Thorgrim is attacked by the creature, which hits him with a claw . Rakk fires his ballista, hitting for . He then drops it, draws his blades, and moves up.
With its prey gone, and seeing Hepla right above it, the other one attacks her. Of course, her stoneskin protects her. Elrae moves up to the top level, Sweetness in hand, as Noot slips into the corner, watching. Isilme is off doing her own thing....
[DM OOC: I'm running these two battles as two separate fights; however, they really do happen simultaneously. I just don't think there is much overlap, so it's easier to do them separately. If somebody chooses to do something that may affect the other fight, please, make that known.]
Berenn casts his charm, but the bear again saves. Gotrek and the bear then attack simultaneously as Gotrek flies into a rage! Gotrek attacks, hitting the bear  as the swipes at him with both paws, hitting him once  and pulling him in close for another hug . It also tries biting him, but misses, just chewing on a piece of armor! Gotrek cannot get his second attack, because he's now grappled.
The troll shaman then casts something at Berenn, but there doesn't seem to be any effect.
[DM OOC: no sense putting up a map, since not much has changed.] Gotrek is grappled. Berenn has failed again to do anything with this massive beast, and the troll shaman is still up above.
Vaddara casts Sharkbolts, which fly off towards the gargoyle thing. When they get right up to it, they turn around and fly straight back at Vaddara! The don't affect her with her SS though.
Emyn tumbles along further, taking  damage as he goes. Hepla flies after him, taking a hit (which does nothing due to SS) from the creature as she flies by. She then grabs ahold of Emyn, holding him steady so he can grab the side. There's no way to climb out where he is. Hepla can see that the stream opens up into an underground pool. From her point of view, she cannot see any way out, though she can only see 30'.
Elrae casts Magic Missile, and they too all reverse course and streak back into him, though he too has SS so the 5 missiles do nothing. Rak hits the creature before him, killing it.
The thing then turns and flies off back down the passage, where it attacks Hepla. It misses with all its attacks, but her Stoneskin spell is over.
Berenn moves up to attack the troll on the balcony. The troll swings its staff at Berenn as he approaches, missing. Berenn hits the troll with Bonefire . The troll catches fire  and retreats back away from Berenn, around the mound of bones, patting at the flames until it puts them out.
Gotrek wiggles around, doing another  damage due to body spikes, but cannot break free. The bear does another  crushing damage to him, though it fails to bite him, getting only a mouthful of armor!
"What the frack was that?" exclaims Elrae. "Our spells backfired." Elrae moves towards the log with Sweetness in hand. "Shall we cross?"
"No". Rakk takes out the potion of Flying and drinks it. "You go. I'm going for Emyn."
[Emyn OOC: What the hell is Isilme doing? She should help Gotrek.]
[Isilme OOC: Sorry to disappoint. Isilme doesn't care what Gotrek is doing - she is busy fomenting a war in another area. She too was tired of what was going on. I actually thought Gotrek showed an amazing amount of restraint.]
Gotrek wiggles around, doing another  damage due to body spikes, but cannot break free. The bear does another  crushing damage to him, though it fails to bite him, getting only a mouthful of armor!
The bear roars in anger. Gotrek roars back.
[Gotrek OOC: Gotrek will attempt to continue doing damage with the spiked gloves, and will also try to bite the bear's neck jugular. If Gotrek ever escapes this grasp, then he will try to get behind the bear(swinging around, using the bears motion against him), and strangle it. He will hold on to this bronco, using his dwarf guns to negate the glimmer of life from this proud beast.]
Thorgrim stands guard while Rakk drinks his Potion of Flying.
Hepla casts Dispel Magic on the creature. Instantly, her own Fly is cancelled and she falls into the water with splash. Emyn reaches out for her, grabbing her by the hand and barely holding onto a rock on the side. However, the creature then hits Hepla with it's claws [2, 2: total 4] and drags her off to the east into the darkness. Actually, she can see, but Emyn cannot. Hepla is grappled.
A dark lake fills this large cavern, with streams emptying into it from the west and south. Two stretches of dry ground hug the walls of the cave, with two small islands rising from the water between them.
In the other chamber, Gotrek breaks free, rolling away, as the bear attacks but fails to hit him. Berenn moves around the bone pile, attacking the troll which he hits again [16+4fire: total 20]. The troll was casting, and it fails its spell, falling back again.
Elrae moves up to the area on the map where there's a slope. The map mistakenly shows ladders, but they are slopes. He can only see about 5' with Snowfang, so he doesn't go further. Remember, there's no light in these caverns. Vaddara continues on to the bear cave. Noot is by Elrae, and Thorgrim is guarding the log.
Finally, Rakk fishes out his potion and drinks it. He can start flying next round. Isilme now returns to the area of the southern log, looking for the party, but she doesn't see anyone. She mutters something about impatient humans, then realizes that there are plenty of impatient non-humans in the group too.
Vaddara casts Encase, which succeeds in surrounding the bear with rock. Unfortunately, Gotrek is raging..... Gotrek begins to hack at the rock, and breaks the bear free in his attempts to get to it! The bear attacks back, hitting Gotrek again .
Meanwhile, Berenn continues his attack on the troll shaman, killing it. As he turns around, two large bone serpents rise from the bonepile to attack him! They appear to be masses of bones in the shape of a malevolent serpent, with random bones from various creatures. Each uses the skull of some ferocious animal or vicious humanoid, if available, to serve as its own ominous head. One bites Berenn for . He feels the thing attempting to pull his bones out, and somehow resists the effect. [DM OOC: Berenn makes his save vs. Death Magic, so the subsequent effect which was going to be really bad doesn't happen. Just so you know!]
Rakk flies down the passage, not really happy about flying over the water. He gets to the large pool and looks around. He sees Emyn on the ledge, but doesn't see Hepla. Behind Emyn he sees two more of the creatures and they are about to fly at Emyn!
Meanwhile, Berenn moves away from the Bone Wierds, which do not follow. Gotrek attacks the bear, hitting it . The bear attacks back, hitting with one paw . Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting the bear for . Gotrek then hits with another blow, downing the bear. He stands above it, hacking its head off, as he roars in triumph. He shakes the head violently, before punching a hole in the skull with his glove spikes. He then eats some bear goo.
Emyn was standing in darkness, readying his mace when Rakk flew into the pool chamber. He turns just in time to see the two creatures attack him. He takes a bite from the thing's bill  and a slash to the leg from a claw [4: total 10].
The other one also attacks Emyn, but it misses. Emyn notices these two are about half the size as the other two.
Emyn hits one with his mace, killing it with one blow to the head! Good critical!!!
Hepla comes up for air, just long enough to talk, when the gargoyle grabs her from behind and drags her back under the water!
Rakk dives into the water and stabs the creature with his sword . It releases Hepla and swims away. Rakk pics her up and "flies" up through the water, quickly emerging back into the air. The pool was only about 15' deep, and Hepla thought she saw something shiny at the bottom.
Meanwhile, back in the bear/bone chamber, Vaddara moves up to the top of the ledge, and one of the Bone Wierds moves to that side. She doesn't approach any closer. Gotrek comes out of his rage, collapsing against the wall behind him and Elrae and Noot move up to assist him. To the south, Berenn chases after the troll shaman and sees light ahead.
The chamber is dominated by great curtains of flowstone and magnificent stalactites. Dozens of mystic relics such as mummified frogs, bones, dried herbs, and crude stone figurines clutter wall niches here. It looks like this area [marked 8] was a shaman's cave. Further ahead he can make out a large chamber with some columns in it blocking vision. Firelight dances around the walls that he can see, shed from numerous small campfires. He doesn't spot anything living (or unlving).
Emyn hits the last one twice, killing it too. Rakk looks around for the other one as Hepla takes out and puts on her Cloak of the Manta Ray.
Emyn says, "We should regroup. We are easy prey when separated. Hepla dear, when you get the cahnce, can you use your cloak to get my sword and shield, please? They fell in the river."
"On my list, dear." as she prepares to jumps into the water. She looks for the gargoyl like thingie first. She also finds a bastard sword at the bottom of the pool. [Incidentally, she also finds Emyn's lost stuff.] The sword is clearly very old, its blade streaked with ebony lines that seem to move when you look away from it.
Berenn moves back towards the bone weirds, as Rakk carries Emyn back to the other passage. Everyone regroups and moves south to the bear chamber. So, Berenn is south of the Bone Wierds. Vaddara is north of them. Everyone else is at the lower level. Isilme flies off to the NE, doing a quick scout of that passage, while Noot checks out the left passages.
Noot sees that passage to the west leads down and to a door, which leads to the hobgoblin caves that Isilme had scouted earlier. Isilme flies up around the other passage to the NE, where she finds a door that leads to the southern landing by the pool chamber. The passage bends south, to a long chamber. She notes the skeletons of very large trolls seem to be imbedded into the walls of either side. She also notes that the far end has what seems a stone bridge passing over a stream.
Current positions. Isilme is up to the NE, above chamber 12, while Noot is to the West, above a steep slope down. Thorgrim has moved up beside Vaddara on the upper level, with Rakk flying up beside Thorgrim. Berenn is at the southern entrance to the Bone Wierd chamber. Everyone else is huddled around Elrae, illuminated in the soft bluish glow from Snowfang. As you can see, I've put lighting back in, using light red for infravision.
Hepla uses her disintegrate scroll to destroy the bone pile, which takes care of the bone wierds. Noot and Isilme returns about now, having scouted the other two tunnels. They report what they found; the NE one seems more trollish, but Isilme didn't like the giant troll skeletons in the walls. Noot's tunnel led towards the trog/hobgoblin area. Also, the south tunnel that Berenn had earlier taken seems to go towards the trog area.
Finally, while you are discussing, as I'm sure you are about to do, Vaddara goes and checks out the bone pile, There's not much left, but kicking around the last few bones she fines a bunch of loose coins. There are about 2000 coins of various types, as well as a small carving of a short, stocky sprite, a gold statuette of a coiled naga, and a bone and crystal bracelet.
After some quick healing, especially for Gotrek, the party is ready to move forward. They put everything into Thorgrim's portable hole except for the new, black, bastard sword, which Emyn decides to use. Emyn then focues further on his Pursuit of Vengeance, and he senses that Skalmad is to the east. They plan to head that way, but decide to try and reach the east by going south, through the trog area. They just don't like the look of that long passage Isilme found.
The party makes its way back down to the shaman's cave. The chamber is dominated by great curtains of flowstone and magnificent stalactites. Dozens of mystic relics such as mummified frogs, bones, dried herbs, and crude stone figurines clutter wall niches here. As they enter from the NE, a half-dozen trogs enter from the SW. Vaddara hits them with a Snowball swarm, and they retreat back the way they came. Berenn advances, but Gotrek just rushes by him.
"They're just stinkin' trogs!" he says.
He runs passed Berenn, into the next chamber. This is the main living area for the tribe. There is another stream running through it, with a log bridge. Passages head out in various directions, and there are fires burning to the west, though you can't actually see them. The fire just to the right of where Gotrek entered has been kicked over, so it's no longer really lighting up anything. Gotrek is using infravision, but he doesn't see any trogs.
Rakk flies up to Berenn, while Thorgrim moves up to the edge and uses his eyepatch to look around. Vaddara moves up next to him. The others are behind them, using the light of Snowfang to see.
Hepla remains on guard with Noot. "Any of this stuff look like religouse stuff to you?" she asks Thorgrim and Vaddara.
They shake their heads. "No," says Thorgrim. "Let us catch up to Gotrek together," he adds.
Gotrek grunts, and goes to cross log bridge. He whispers, "DRAS," and his warhammer, Stonecrusher, now appears in his hands, along with his buckler+1.
A half dozen trogs seem to emerge right from the walls, growling as they leap out to the attack. Two surround Gotrek on the log, while four more attack Rakk and Berenn who just entered the chamber. Everyone else is making their way through the other room still. Rakk and Berenn lose 6 str points each (temporarily) due to the stentch from these things. Gotrek fights off the effects.
The trogs gain surprise due to their successful camo/ambush. They attack, with one hitting Gotrek . He keeps his balance. Berenn takes a hit from another with a sword .
As you can see, Thorgrim has moved up, using his eyepatch for light, with Vaddara right next to him. Everyone else is back searching the shaman's area using the light from Snowfang to see. Noot and Hepla are looking around, while Elrae waits with Snowfang and Emyn guards them all.
Ralphs leaps at one, hitting . Rakk then hits that same trog, getting a critical and doing  cutting it in two!
Berenn misses. Thorgrim steps up and hits the one behind Gotrek in the back , knocking it into the water where it disappears, being washed downstream into the darkness (to the East, so you know which way the stream flows!) Gotrek then hits the one in front of him  knocking it back. He moves up as the trog gets up and misses him.
The trogs attack berenn and Rakk, missing. Berenn then hits one  while Rakk hits another [14 and 9]. Gotrek then finishes off his trog, hitting it a second time. Everyone is still searching the shaman's chamber....
The trog lair is pretty sparse, and to the north is the hobgoblin area. There are a bunch of dead hobgoblins and trogs and a dead troll up there. There's nothing else alive anywhere. Gotrek heads SE, looking around, and finds that the next large chamber is a big mushroom/fungus area. There are huge patches of fungus everywhere, and he wisely decides to not go that way. So, everyone is basically back together, considering their next move. No, they found nothing of value in the trog shaman's area.
"Might as well head back to the bone weird lair and start moving in the other direction," says Berenn.
"At least check for treasure first," says Emyn. "Churches are expensive to build."
[DM OOC: What about Emyn's burning desire to deal with Skalmad, who he senses in the other direction? Nah, let's put vengeance and justice on hold while we search for treasure.....]
Area 6 is the treasure area, and there you find a few thousand gold coins, all lose. You also find a small coffer with 20 various gems, totally 5000gp value.
[Berenn OOC: LOL! Emyn is the Daffy Duck of Paladins! Down! Down! Down! Go! Go! Go! Mine! Mine! Mine!]
[DM OOC: Yeah, that image never gets old!]
After checking out the area, the party decides to avoid the fungus chamber and return to the NE, heading towards area 12.
Thorgrim and Vaddara are providing light now, so Isilme is going to slip to the rear and take up a rear guard position, watching from the darkness with her superior drow infravision. You can see the setup of the party in the pic. Rakk still has the ability to Fly.
This long cavern seems some kind of eerie processional. There are large troll skeletons in the very walls to either side of the lower section. You can count 8, four to a side. For now the party is at the upper section.
Vaddara's Protection from Evil 10'r is actually still functioning. You also note that the far end of the tunnel is lit up by flickering torchlight. It is apparently coming from the other side of the stream that Isilme saw earlier. As the party cautiously moves down the passage ... nothing happens. When you get closer, you can see that the skeletons are actually part of the wall. They have been entombed, for lack of a better word, in the walls for so long that they've kinda fossilized, or at least been coated by the minerals dripping down the moist cave walls. So, they aren't coming to life!
[DM OOC: Again, leaving out a week of them posting and planning, assuming this to be some diabolical trap. I hate that they take so long sometimes to move forward, but it's worth it to see them blow spells and worry so much over nothing!]
You pass through without issue, and just as you get to a point where Thorgrim can start to see beyond the stream, a troll comes around the corner! He can also see a trog up on a high ledge beyond the stream, another one further away, next to the stream, and another troll, far across whatever the next cavern area is.
Noot slips back into the shadows, taking out his daggers, as Vaddara moves over to the wall to make way for others.
Hepla gets out her Wand of whips. She thinks, "So far this has been almost useless, maybe this time it will work well enough to hit something."
Ralph growls, but Vaddara holds him back. Emyn steps to the rear, keeping an eye on the trolls in the walls and watching the party's back. Elrae also steps clear, where he can cast spells in any direction or use Snowfang if needed.
Gotrek moves forward, ducking a swing by the troll as he approaches, and chops it in the belly . Berenn moves up beside him, slashing the troll with Bonefire for another [18 plus 4 fire: 22 total].
Finally, Rakk flies above both, slashing the troll as he flies by for . He cuts off the troll's head, which flops back down into the stream and tumbles away. Rakk continues across the stream, landing on the other side.
"Come and get some," he says grimly, seeing another three trolls sand three trogs up ahead.
This cavern collapsed long ago, creating a sinkhole open to the sky. Torchlight bathes most of the cavern in flickering light. The trolls keep their captives here in a dilapidated hovel of stacked stones and dank moss to the east, secure behind a heavy wooden door. What appears at first to be another cave is actually the floor of a huge sinkhole. Its rough walls rise 60 feet to the surface, the floor of the sinkhole fairly even except where two broad bluffs rise to the east and south. A stream winds along the west wall, flowing from one narrow tunnel to another. To the east, walls of rough stone create some kind of chamber, its door barred from the outside. You can’t be sure how many creatures occupy the cavern, but you see at least three trolls and three trogs. The two escarpments are raised 10' above the floor. There is also a lot of rubble strewn about, and you notice the nearest troll already holds a large rock.
The nearest troll throws the rock it had in its hand, hitting Rakk square in the chest [14: x2 crit which stuns him for 1 round and he suffers 1/2 move penalty (though as long as he can fly magically, this won't apply, as long as he flies.)]
The next troll steps over to the rubble pile, grabs a rock, and throws it at Rakk, missing badly. The furthest troll moves up and picks up a rock, but can't throw it yet.
Thorgrim advances, seeing Rakk stunned by the troll, and takes a position in front of him, Souldrinker at the ready.
Isilme moves up to a point where she's not in the light, but she sees that something is happening. She sighs, slowly moving south, flying and invisible, as usual.
Gotrek moves up, avoiding the troll's attack, but missing with his own.
Hepla steps up and uses her wand on the trog, but it misses. [I put a whip on the map to show it!]
Berenn moves up to attack the troll as well. [He stops short, to avoid an AoO, and will advance carefully with a 5' move next round.]
The trogs attack. Berenn and Gotrek lose strength due to the terrible stench of the trog. The trog atop the ledge dodges around, attempting to hit the whip but misses. The closer one attacks Berenn, missing.
This time the trolls attack first. The one to the bottom left throws a rock hitting Thorgrim in the chest. [20: another critical, this one knocking Thorgrim down and stunning him for 4 rounds!] His eyepatch flies off his head, landing on the ground beside him and illuminating the area behind them. Some may see the two trogs coming out of hiding along the far wall....
The other rear troll throws a stone at Rakk, then moves up to attack by hand while Gotrek gets bit by the third troll .
The two trogs move up and attack Thorgrim and Rakk, hitting both [5 and 6, respectively.] Berenn is stabbed by the trog in front of him [9: crit, minor bleeding. That means an additional 1d2/TURN until healed, so not a big deal.]
The trog atop the ledge backs off away from the whip, which then follows after him. It hits this time , wrapping the trog up! Hepla doesn't have to concentrate on this. She can do other things!
Isilme tells Emyn she has the rear, and Emyn moves up to assist in the fight. He makes it across the bridge, and closes with the trog attacking Rakk's backside.
Elrae casts Melf's Acid Arrow, hitting the troll that moved up to attack Berenn . It howls at the burning, looking that way and glaring hatefully at Elrae. As it looks away, Berenn slashes it with Bonefire .
Gotrek then hits the troll in front of him  dropping it!
Vaddara has no clear target now for her Ice Storm, so she doesn't cast it. The trolls moved first and she moved last, so they basically closed with the rest of the party. I assume she doesn't want to use it any longer in this instance.
"Svirfneblin...hakuna matata..." Thorgrim seems to mutter, but he really could be saying anything. It's pretty clear he's out of it.
The trolls press their attacks. Gotrek is clawed  while Berenn is clawed for . The last troll moves up and attacks Gotrek as well, clawing him for .
Hepla moves up next to Vaddara, though her whip attacks again, this time hitting  and wrapping up the trog atop the ledge.
Vaddara casts Sharkbolt, sending them up the ledge to attack the now-wrapped trog. One hits it .
Gotrek hits the troll before him  and starts to sing his warsong.
Rakk flies above Thorgrim and hits the trog that just hit him  and knocks it back and to the ground. The trog loses its sword, but it gets up and rushes forward, attacking with claws and a bite (all missing!). The other one attacks Emyn, missing. Another one leaps up out of the water at the far end of the bridge, right in front of Vaddara.
Elrae blasts it with his Magic Missile (sorry, I changed targets, but it makes sense!) for . It shrugs off the hits, sneering at Elrae.
Emyn then hits the trog next to him  as Berenn hits the troll before him .
[DM OOC: now for multiple attacks!] Gotrek swings, missing. Rakk hits with his off-hand sword  killing the trog. Berenn attacks with his off-hand weapon, missing.
Vaddara casts Ice Knife, firing her cold dagger at the trog before her. It hits it in the chest [10 and numbed]. Ralph then leaps at it, bitting for another . Elrae then steps up, slashing with Snowfang  and knocking the trog back into the water!
Emyn finishes off the trog by him as the shark bolts finish off the trog on the ledge.
Gotrek scores another hit with Goreblade  as Rakk flies up next to Berenn and slashes the troll to the west . Berenn slashes the same troll [13+5 fire].
The trog moves up behind Gotrek, stabbing at him but missing while the three trolls attack, one attacking each. Gotrek is clawed , Berenn is clawed , and Rakk is clawed .
Rakk then hits the troll with his off-hand sword , dropping it, while Berenn hits the last trog with his . Gotrek also gets another hit, slashing it for .
"These things keep coming out of the water," says Hepla to nobody in particular. "I wonder what would happen if someone shot a lightning bolt into the water. Would we get a bunch of stunned thingies?"
Vaddara moves up and checks on Thorgrim. He seems ok, just knocked senseless. Emyn holds position here, as the others move up across the bridge. Isilme flies into the chamber, just above the ledge where the trog was so she can see everything and act if needed.
Gotrek gets clawed in the belly  and Berenn gets bit [10.
Gotrek then slashes the troll  knocking it back through the doorway to the east. It flies through, landing in a heap. Beyond the troll, Gotrek sees a young woman cowering in the corner. He stops attempting to go berserk.
Rakk and Berenn both hit the troll before them [18 and 10+4 fire: total 32].
The trog then turns to flee. Berenn misses as it runs away, turning around the corner and heading east....
The troll teeters back, as Rakk and Berenn both hit again [20 and 8+3 fire: 31]. It falls back, dead.
Thorgrim gets up, readjusting his eyepatch again, as Berenn continues to burn the downed troll bodies. Gotrek steps into the room and hacks up the troll there, while Rakk gives a few extra shots to the next one. He notes that it is also burning from the acid shot it took from Elrae's Melf's Acid Arrow. It's done. Gotrek notes 5 captive people huddled in the chamber. Everyone then hears a loud throaty roar from down the passage to the east where the trog ran.....
"Showtime!" Thorgrim says. He uses his Stone to summon an earth elemental--to protect the captives. "Let's get these captives armed and out of here. Noot--can you help?" He hands his Portable Hole over to Noot, so he can open it and they can arm themselves from his weapons stores.
Vaddara is moving to where the corner of the room blocks her partially in case something is heading for this area. Berenn sheaths his swords, takes off his backpack, and removes his rod. He then heals himself  which also stops that slow bleeding crit. Hepla inspects the wounded. She gives Gotrek a potion of extra healing when she sees the prisoners.
"Hello, who are you and why are you here. I am Hepla, wife of Emyn."
They are just random farmers and such, taken by the trolls. They don't know anything except fear.
Gotrek downs the potion, healing , and moves back outside the room. Thorgrim takes out his stone and begins to summon an Earth Elemental. He has a plan, but doesn't think there will be time to handle all the details.
Noot leads the people out of the room. "Come on!" he yells. "This way, quickly!"
The people start to move out of the room, following Noot.
Rakk flies up to the top of the ledge, sheathing his blades. "I'll watch from up here," he says, starting to take out his bow. Ralph leaps up there, moving next to Rakk.
Elrae helps to get people across the bridge. They are just normal people, and they are not sticking around to get weapons and fight trolls!
"Close," says Emyn as he strides forward. He senses Skalmad close, and he moves that direction.
Hepla hears the bellow and says, "Emyn dear, is that where you sense our target is?"
The pulsing of Trithereon's call becomes louder and louder in Emyn's mind. No longer can he abide to wait. The call of his god must be answered. Vengeance must be had. For Lord Etheran, for the people of Redlee Manor, for the faerie... and nothing will slake his thirst for it but Skalmad's life blood. The wait is over. The time for death and vengeance has arrived. Emyn lights a torch and moves forward heedless of danger to fulfill Trithereon's command.
[Thorgrim OOC: Nice roleplaying, and more in line with what Pursuit of Vengeance is meant to be, rather than a magical GPS locator. But how do we deal with this?]
"Emyn! The innocents!" Thorgrim calls.
Emyn responds without a backwards glance, "You protect the innocent. I must punish the guilty."
Emyn hears the swish of air next to him, and Isilme's voice. "Skalmad is coming!" everyone hears Isilme shout. [She has been up ahead scouting.] Her voice comes from the center of the chamber, just south of Rakk. "And he looks mad as hell!"
Emyn prepares for the onslaught and stands in full defensive stance, awaiting Skalmad's apearance. "Let him come to his doom."
Vaddara and Hepla both cast Mirror Image, as Thorgrim casts Godly Protection. Now, this spell requires everyone else who is in the area and to be protected to not do anything, so I'm leaving all the rest of the party doing exactly that, nothing. Well, except Gotrek, who is drinking a potion of Super-heroism and moving up next to Emyn.
"I'll stand by ya," he says, taking out his speed potion too.
Noot leaves with the people, taking them back behind the log to safety. Elrae grabs a torch off the corner wall and hands it to the last man. "Here, you'll need this."
So, everyone gets protected by the spell except for Vaddara, Hepla, Gotrek, and Noot.
You hear loud, pounding footsteps as a massive troll comes down the passage. Behind him are a couple more big trolls. It carries the head of a trog in one hand, and a big ax in the other. One of his eyes has been replaced with a glowing red/orange stone that resembles a huge cat’s eye. When he sees Emyn and Gotrek, he laughs.
“What is this?” the armored troll roars in Common. “More fools come to die under Skalmad’s axe? You cannot stop me, puny insects! You are too weak, and I am too strong! No one can stop Skalmad, king of the trolls!”
As Rakk has the bow ready-to-go anyway, he will fire a preliminary arrow, and follow with his regular shots. "They're not Lugh's Spear, but twill have to do!" He fires his prepared arrow first, and to his dismay, it simply burns up in the air before it reaches Skalmad!
"Kill them!" says Skalmad, laughing. Two massive stone trolls move up around him. One attacks Gotrek and one attacks Emyn.
The first troll swings twice at Gotrek with massive, stony fists, but misses badly. However, it clamps down hard on Gotrek's arm with its bite , before Gotrek tears himself away. He quickly downs his Potion of Regeneration. Unfortunately, it doesn't mix well with his Super-Heroism. [DM OOC: Both work at 50% efficiency, so he loses 10 of his new hitpoints as well as 2 of his 3 extra levels. I rounded down! The regeneration will only restore 1hp/TWO turns, and last only 12 hours. It's not always a good idea to mix potions!]
Emyn takes a full defensive stance, parrying as well [which drops his AC to -10!]. The troll fails to hit him with all it attacks.
Noot continues to lead the people to safety. [He's not going to run into trouble, so he'll just be gone for a bit, taking them out and to your camp.]
Thorgrim casts Holy Orb! The north troll fighting Emyn takes [34!]. The south troll fighting Gotrek takes [37!]. However, he can't catch Skalmad in the area of effect. First, it's just on the edge of too far, but most importantly, Thorgrim can't see him from here. So, the Holy Orb can only be cast to catch the two stone trolls. He can't center it far enough away to not catch Emyn and Gotrek either; however, both are good so they make saves. Emyn takes  and Gotrek takes .
Hepla moves up until she can se Skalmad and his trolls. This puts her just south of the ledge where Rakk stands, next to a torch.
Skalmad laughs, looking up at Rakk on the ledge. "You should fight by our side!" he shouts in Jotun, which really only Rakk can understand. "Die now, as a traitor to your own kind!" Skalmad's eye starts to glow with eldritch fire, and suddenly Rakk feels his entire body heating up. In seconds he starts to feel like he is burning up. [5 damage and suffers -1 to all rolls.]
Vaddara casts Minor Globe of Invulnerability. Elrae casts another Melf's Acid Arrow at the north troll, hitting it for . It screams in pain at the acid damage!
Ralph growls, watching Rakk. He knows something is wrong....
Isilme sees what just happened, and she immediately drops her intended spell. Instead, she takes out her Ring of Fire Resistance, exchanging it with her Ring of Regeneration which she puts in her pocket.
Berenn steps up 5', casting Curse Light Wounds on himself [+8].
"Don't ye worry, Emyn," says Gotrek. "I am ready to help ye conquer this aberration of nature."
Gotrek then attacks the troll ahead of him, slashing it with Goreblade. It's almost as bad as hitting stone, and Goreblade bounces off the thing's hide. [It does only 1/2 damage, so he only does 12]. He swings a second time, missing.
Rakk ignores the pain, firing arrows at the trolls instead. He hits the north one  with his first shot, then hits it again with his second for [24: that was a x2 dam crit, but it made it's save to avoid injury. Total dam: 39!]
Emyn remains in full defensive stance including parry but shouts, "Skalmad the troll king? HA! More like SKalmad teh coward. Maybe you should send your women to fight next!"
"Maybe you I save for last," he says back.
Elrae sings, aiding his comrades in the fight.
"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!"
"Excuse me while I whip this out" Isilme says," thinking about Blazing Saddles. She draws Maerthorlear and has it sing the song of "hope" in the minds of the heroes of Hommlet. (+2 to morale, saving throws, attacks, and damage)
Berenn casts Holy Orb, centered on the two stone trolls. They take [21 and 20] respectively. Again, Gotrek and Emyn get hit too, Gotrek takes  and Emyn .
Thorgrim casts Cure Medium Wounds upon himself, healing .
Emyn continues his defensive stance, as Elrae begins his bard's song to inspire his allies.
Isilme casts Haste above, but it is countered by a simultaneous Slow from Skalmad!
The stone trolls then attack. Emyn is missed again, but Gotrek takes a massive blow to the head. His helm is destroyed and sent flying, while he is knocked back and to the ground [18: Crit, face injured, stunned 6 rounds, 1/2 move, –4 penalty to attacks].
Vaddara then casts Vitriolic Sphere, sending it splashing into the first troll . The troll screams in pain, spinning around, then drops to the ground flopping around as the combined acid from that and from Elrae's acid arrow continue to burn it. Emyn is not hit by the splash, but the other troll takes .
Hepla points her staff, sending a lightning bolt at the second troll, hitting it for . The blast seems to mostly bounce harmlessly off its stony hide!
Rakk then fires two arrows into it, hitting with each one [21 and 17: total 38]. The troll drops backwards, landing on its back with a massive thud!
Rakk then takes another  damage from fire, and his rolls drop another -2! He is literally burning up. He actually ignites with fire, and his items begin to burn! [DM OOC: I have to make separate rolls for all his stuff, so that will take time. However, the round's over, so you can pick new moves/spells/etc.]
Rakk's backpacks starts to burn. It doesn't burn completely, but next round items inside will be burning. His wineskins fall to the ground, one dropping to the river, the other to the ground smouldering. Both belt pouches ignite. Even his armor begins to burn! One of his bastard sword scabbards falls off, burning. His dagger falls from his burning belt and tumbled to the ground next to Hepla, as does his kujang. His quiver catches fire, as does his bow, though his crossbow/ballista does not.
Vaddara casts Wings of God.
"Destroy Skalmad," says Thorgrim to the elemental. The earth elemental then moves up to attack the troll king. It is hit by Skalmad's axe as it approaches . The elemental attacks, missing.
"No!" cries Emyn, as the elemental surges passed him and gets in the way! He then waits, to see if he gets an opening.
Hepla casts Dispel Magic on Rakk, who stays of fire, but loses his Fly spell.
Isilme summons forth Maerthorlear's emotion power, and the blade begins singing "hope" into the minds of the party. [That's basically another +2 to everything!]
Berenn moves up to Gotrek. He finds the dwarf is ok, just that he is stunned by the blow to the head.
Skalmad then hits the earth elemental with his axe  and with his free hand [14: 35 total].
Elrae moves up where he can see, Snowfang in hand and ready to use his sword's powers of cold.
Thorgrim is then attacked by the troll that Gotrek hacked up in the prison room. It charges out, hitting Thorgrim with two claw attacks [10 and 8: total 18]. Thorgrim was about to move forward himself, so he could see Skalmad, but now attacks the troll. He hits it with his pick , knocking it back to the ground again where it lies dead, for now.
Rakk curses and turns towards the water. For all his superstitions and fear surrounding water, he fears burning to death even more. He drops his burning bow and leaps into the river! His burning belt pouch that fell above explodes as his potion of fiery burning erupts, but he just leapt away from it. His backpack and belt pouches fall apart when he hits the water, and all of their contents head off down the river. A massive "HHIIIISSSSSS!!!" and cloud of steam fills the area, but to Rakk's horror, the fires do not extinguish! [He takes another 10 damage, and now has a -1 to his rolls, up to -3 now.] Also, the river is only 5' deep, so Rakk isn't going to go tumbling around downstream.
[Thorgrim OOC: Man, that Bonefire was just made for killing trolls, both from its flames and its +2 vs regenerating creatures. Perhaps Berenn should actually be in the front line? Haha no I'm sure he'd rather not.]
[Berenn OOC: That definitely is not happening. The last time I went to the front, a troll yanked off one of my arms like I was Mr. Potato Head!]
[Rakk OOC: So all his stuff is gone, as is his armor. lol! So no weapons, no way to fight.
Just send me a PM when he dies or the fight is over.]
[Thorgrim OOC: Rakk's not gonna die. We're gonna work together to save him! Don't really know what to do to help, except to kill Skalmad. If that doesn't work, I dunno. Also, it looks like he's got his bastard sword, so he can fight as soon as he gets out of the river. Is his metal armor actually on fire? That's awesome!]
Berenn casts CSW on Gotrek, healing .
The elemental hits Skalmad , and Skalmad hits the elemental with a blow from his axe . Skalmad then pummels it with his fist, destroying it!
Hepla takes of her backpack, fishes around for her wand case, and takes it out, then she takes her Wand of Flame Extinguishing out and moves over to the edge of the water.
Rakk gets underwater, trying to make the flames go out, but they do not. He takes another [10 and another -1 penalty].
Thorgrim will douse the the not-quite-dead troll with acid from his flask at hand in his utility belt, and then run to join the fray, attacking with Pick +1.
Elrae casts Magic Missile, sending 5 singing bolts into the troll king .
Isilme then flies up to Skalmad, slashing him from above with Maerthorlear at his eye. She hits him in the side of the head , making a wicked slash next to his eye, but failing to knock the eye out of his head. She becomes visible.
Emyn moves up, passes the destroyed elemental, and attacks Skalmad, missing!
Hepla calls back to Emyn, "Carefull Emyn dear, don't go taking on big and ugly without backup."
Emyn goes back to a full defense.
Rakk surfaces, and the fires almost immediately start again. He takes another [10 and another -1 (total of -4 to hit now from the intense pain!)] Hepla then uses her wand, and she feels it really working hard to extinquish the flames, which go out.
Elrae begins to sing another song as he casts Melf's Acid Arrow.
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Elrae cast's Melf's Acid Arrow at Skalmad. but it misses!
Vaddara casts Dehydrate, but it has no effect on Skalmad. She senses some level of Magic Resistance!
Skalmad turns his eye upon Isilme, and she can immediately feel the burning within. She struggles against it, and she can feel it begin to burn [2 damage: see? That's how you do it. Good thing she has Resist Fire going!]
Berenn casts Protection from Fire, as Thorgrim moves up besides him and Gotrek.
Isilme is the only one left, and she will attack Skalmad. She slashes him twice [18 and 17: total 35].
Isilme makes a powerful called shot to the already damaged orbital socket, trying again to knock the eye/orb out. She says in jotan (giant): "The time of your evil reign has come to its fatal end troll."
Emyn remains on full defensive and says, "What's wrong Skalmad? Afraid to face me? Do me a favour and throw yourself on my blade."
Skalmad laughs at Isilme, then turns his attention to Emyn. He hits him with his axe , knocking Emyn back to the ground! He then punches at Isilme with his other hand, but misses.
Elrae casts another Magic Missile, which seems to fizzle out when they nearly hit him.
Emyn gets back up, then moves back up to Skalmad.
Rakk wades upstream, then climbs out of the water. He is dripping wet, and has lost most of his stuff. His armor, while burned, is still mostly intact (it'll need some work though). All of his cloth stuff (pack, pouches, etc.) have been lost. He has only his one bastard sword on him, as well as his ballista, though his quiver lies on the ground nearby.
Hepla turns and uses her wand on Isilme, killing the flames around her. She then fights off the effects of the eye [i.e. made her save!] She laughs back at Skalmad as she stabs him in the eye, but she misses. Skalmad seems surprised that she is not burning up.
Vaddara then casts Random Casualty on Skalmad's axe. Isilme hears sounds from back to the east. Sounds like reinforcements.
"We need to lower that magic resistance," shouts Elrae. "Keep at it guys."
"Death will lower his magic resistance plenty," says Thorgrim, gritting his teeth. He then charges forward, slamming his pick into Skalmad when he reaches him . "BLOOD AND VENGEANCE!" he cries!
The southern stone troll gets up, steps closer to Berenn, and swings at him with its long arms. Berenn ducks one blow and steps back, firing an arrow at the troll, but misses.
Hepla picks up Rakk's kujang, but when she goes to hand it to him, it's like Rakk doesn't even see her. He strides passed, drawing his bastard sword as he advances.
The stone troll swings at him as he walks by, missing, and Rakk swings his sword two-handed in wickedly strong stroke. He nearly cleaves the stone troll in half [32: x2 crit: Torso injured, major bleeding, 1/2 move, –4 penalty to attacks]. The troll drops the ground, quite dead....for now. Rakk doesn't hardly pause as he continues towards Skalmad.
Skalmad roars, swinging at Emyn. He slashes him savagely, but due to Vaddara's spell the damage somehow appears across his own chest ! He cries in pain, as Thorgrim attacks, barely missing.
"You fight like a goblin, Skalmad," says Emyn. "Taste my steel. For Trithereon!" Emyn swings, hitting Skalmad in chest [20+5acid]. Emyn sees the sizzling line across Skalmad's chest where the acid from his blade burned the troll king. Skalmad stumbles backwards, as Isilme stabs him in the back of the neck .
The troll king falls to the ground with a terrible thud, just as another stone troll steps around the far corner. When it sees Skalmad on the ground, it turns and flees!
Gotrek finally shakes the cobwebs from his headwound. He was healed by Berenn, so other than the stun, he's ok. "Uggh. Did not think possible!"
Isilme quickly flies down as the troll king looks up at her, bloodied and broken—and then his mouth twists into a leer. “You have beaten me for now,” he hisses. “But already, my warriors advance on your town. It will fall, and I will feast on the children before the full moon rises!”
With that, Skalmad breathes his last. The orange stone in his eye socket glows brightly, spreading out to bathe his whole body in blinding light. An instant later, the troll king’s body is consumed by the blazing light. The orb then vanishes in a flash of crimson.
Gotrek roars in frustration. Noot crosses back into the chamber, dagger out and ready to strike. He looks over at Gotrek, "Oh, I thought it was more trolls!"
"How long did it take us to get here?," asks Hepla, looking nervous. "His forces are already marching on our town. Should we go back to save them? And what of Noot's charges? They may be going back to their deaths."
"We need to find and shut that portal," says Isilme, or it will be only the first of many towns destroyed. I will scout further while you all see to each other and these trolls." She then flies off to scout ahead further.
"Aaargh!" Thorgrim shouts in frustration, then spits in disgust. "I knew I should've used Dimensional Anchor!" After a moment he calms himself. "Probably wouldn't have worked this time, anyway." He looks at Rakk. "Looks like you've been through the wringer." He then turns to the rest of the party. "We need to make haste back to town. Are there any more trolls about, I wonder?"
"If we are going to search this place, let us make haste," adds Berenn. "We need to return to town as soon as possible."
Emyn also finds he cannot sense Skalmad.
"The whole 'troll army attacking the town' thing could be a ruse," says Thorgrim. "Although he does have a troll army. And it would explain the reason this warren wasn't as heavily defended as it could have been."
"The town is days away," says Berenn as he finishes off trolls with Bonefire. "The only way we are preventing the attack is to find the throne, so lets start looking."
Isilme has already flown ahead, and everyone reluctantly agrees that they must continue. Rakk takes stock of his stuff. His bow is gone, as is his quiver, which burned up atop the ledge. I had said his ballista was ok, but then I noticed he actually didn't bring it, so it's at home, where it is fine! Two Javelins of Lightning did NOT burn up, so he only lost one. As far as weapons go, he only lost his bow. However, he has all his swords, Kujang, Ankus, 2 Javelins of Lightning, and his daggers. He lost all his potions. He finds one broken flask up there, which was his Oil of Firey Burning. The others along with his backpack, were lost in the river. He lost his belt and clothes, if any. His armor, was damaged. It didn't burn totally up, as it is VERY hardy dragon scale armor. However, it is in dire need of repair. It should be ok for the time being, but its severely damaged.
[DM OOC: I just didn't think that the dragon scale armor should be so quickly destroyed. Basically, everything he did lose was normal leather/cloth stuff and one Javelin. Not bad. I made some notes on his sheet, but Rakk will have to rearrange his stuff now. Rakk will have to carry one bastard sword, since the scabbard is gone. He also has to carry those two Javelins of Lightning, though maybe he'll just plan to launch those at the first good opportunity. All-in-all that really wasn't so bad. Had that effect happened to about half the party, they'd have likely died! Good thing the troll king used it on the "traitor" giantling!]
Rakk picks up the javelins of Lightning and hands them to Emyn, "Here, you are more likely to have a use for them." He then just holds his great sword. "I plan to get up close and personal."
The party moves on, finding a large entry-chamber, with burning torches along the walls. A headless trog corpse lies at the foot of a flight of stairs. The steps leads up to a great set of stone double doors, carved with runes in that ancient giant language Rakk barely understands. He reads them:
“You enter the hall of Skalmad, King of Vardar, Scourge of the Trollhaunt, favored of Torog. None escape his Eye.”
Thogrim and Gotrek go up the stairs and check the door, after Noot checks for traps. The doors open inward, and Noot doesn't see any evidence of a trap. When they try to open it, it doesn't budge.
Rakk steps up and pushes on the doors. They don't budge. "Barred," he says. "I can fell it."
Isilme prepares to cast Knock, while the party gets into position. Thorgrim and Gotrek are in front. Rakk and Emyn behind. Berenn to the south. Noot hiding to the north, ready for a surprise backstab. Elrae is in the center of the chamber, with Vaddara near him, flying at a level even with the doors. Hepla is a bit south, with Ralph. Isilme is down at the curve in the passage, just outside of the light. She can see the doors, and she can also see back down the passage, where she put out the torches and uses her infravision.
Hepla casts Knock. Thorgrim casts Strength of Stone [raising it to 18-00], then he and Gotrek throw the doors open!
The doors open to reveal a foundry. The western half of this chamber is finished stone, with the eastern side dropping down a steep escarpment to a natural cavern beyond. The is a large pool of black pitch bubbling in the center of the chamber, which is full of anvils, and a pair of huge ceramic retorts of molten iron, forges, etc. A pile of ore lies just inside the doors to the right. A troll in chainmail stands just inside the chamber doors, about 10' away. It is a massive troll, bigger than Skalmad, wielding a huge maul. He smiles evilly as you enter.
Noot waits around the side. Isilme stays back where she is, watching the rear, while Hepla takes out her Wand of Whips.
Gotrek advances, moving forward and to the left, when he is hit by a massive blow from the troll's maul  and knocked back to the right 10' and to the ground. He gets up, shaking his head at the unexpected force of the blow!
Emyn throws a Javelin of Lightning, hitting Thark (that's the troll smithy) for .
Thorgrim steps into the chamber, moving to the right as he enters. He too is hit by a blow from the troll, a tremendous backhand swing that does  to him, knocking him 10' to the right, and to the ground. He gets up, wondering what the heck just happened!
Some humanoid creature moves up behind Thorgrim, swinging a big axe which just misses him. He doesn't recognize it, but it's kinda orc-like. Another comes out from the other side attacking Gotrek, but it too misses. They are armed with large blacksmith hammers.
Vaddara casts Stunning Flash, and a stunning flash of light erupts before the troll. It averts its gaze just in time though, and isn't stunned.
Berenn moves into the room, moving around by Gotrek and attacking the humanoid creature there, killing it with one slash from Bonefire.
Finally, Rakk strides straight into the chamber, swinging his bastard sword two-handed. The troll takes another AoO as he charges, but this time it misses. Rakk slashes it across the chest .
The troll then attacks Rakk with its maul, pounding him for . Rakk cannot recall ever taking a blow so hard, but he holds his ground, not backing up an inch.
Hepla's Detect Magic is still functioning. She detects very strong magic from that maul!
[Hepla OOC: WOW! Four attacks and doing 101 damage with the three hits.]
[DM OOC: Attacks of Opportunity! He threatens out to 10'. If you ENTER a threatened square, it's no big deal. If you LEAVE it, you provoke an AoO, UNLESS it's to make a 5' move or a withdraw. So, the way to avoid them is to move forward, but ONLY enter that first threatened space, in essence still being 5' away. You don't get attacks that round though. Then make a 5' move to complete your advance. Tactics!]
Isilme flies up next to Hepla, ready to cast a spell next round, while Vaddara casts Random Casualty. Noot sneaks into the chamber, staying along the back wall and stealthily moving around to the right, towards Thorgrim.
Berenn casts CMW on Gorek, healing .
Rakk swings with his first blow, missing.
"Ya big ape," says Gotrek, moving up. He slashes the troll, hitting it .
Elrae sends a chorus of Magic Missiles at it, hitting in rapid succession .
Emyn moves into the chamber, moving around behind the troll, as Hepla hits it with her wand of whips, hitting it for  but not wrapping it up.
Thorgrim takes out another humanoid! He then advances around to the take the troll in the rear, when he sees two more on the steps going down to the lower level.
Thark steps back away from Gotrek and Rakk, using his maul to slam into the retort to his left. He knocks it over, spilling out molten iron in a swath towards Gotrek and Rakk!
Rakk takes , and Gotrek takes [25: armor blocks 10, so he takes only 15, but it's heat protection is gone for now.] The spilled molten iron ignites the large pitch pool as well.
The grimlocks move up to attack, two heading straight at Thorgrim, but missing.
Not getting his second swing now, Rakk moves out of the fire and beside the overturned retort.
Emyn glances back and sees a huge red beast crawling up over the lip from the lower cavern. It doesn't actually look like a dragon, but it certainly is some kind of reptilian lizard thing. Though he can only see about half of it, he guesses it's about 50' long!
"Somebody kill it," shouts Emyn, "I'm busy!"
[Vaddara OOC: Not sure what I can do against this thing except cast Snowballs.]
[Hepla OOC: Snowballs might help. Might only have a snowballs's chance.]
Isilme casts Fireflow, spreading the flames quickly over the area of the troll. It takes  damage, and screams aloud as the flames bite him!
A glance to his left reveals the scene around him, and Thorgrim thinks that this Thark might have some Fire Resistance. "DON'T KILL HIM WITH FIRE!" he shouts, as loud as he can so he might be heard outside the chamber. "OR ACID! PUT HIM DOWN, AND LET HIM REGENERATE!" he shouts between swings of his pick. He hits the first grimlock, killing it with one blow.
Noot continues to hide along the far wall.
Gotrek backs off out of the fire, taking another , since there's no way to get out of it now that it has spread over the troll, which is burning. He then starts to move around the rear.
Berenn moves up and attacks the big lizard thing. It swipes him with a claw, missing, and Berenn slashes it with Bonefire . It doesn't seem affected by Bonefire's flame.
Hepla's whip misses, and Hepla casts Fly, raising 5'.
Vaddara is about to cast Ice Storm, when Isilme stops her. "Seems it can be hurt by flame after all," she says. "Let it burn!"
Elrae casts Magic Missile, sending singing darts towards the troll. They strike it unerringly !
Emyn steps up behind it, slashing with his sword [20+5acid].
Thark screams in pain from the combined blows, especially the fire and acid. He turns and swings wildly at Emyn, hitting him a tremendous blow [56: that was a x2 crit, and with that weapon...] Emyn also made his save vs. massive damage, so he didn't die outright! He flies back 15', right over the ledge, and lands in a pool of hot pitch, though his ring of fire protection keeps him from taking any damage! [Emyn cannot breath. His armor is totally dented in, and constricting him too much and now needs to be repaired before he can wear it any more. He has to start taking it off, after crawling out of the hot pitch. He's pretty much out of the next few rounds.]
Rakk takes another  from the flames, before they go out. He hears Thorgrim's call and holds off turning the retort; whatever was inside has spilled out already anyway. Rather, he moves around to attack Thark after Thark knocked Emyn off the ledge. Rakk stays back, slashing Thark for .
The grimlock attacks Thorgrim, missing, and Thorgrim hits with a second attack, killing it.
The fire lizard attacks Berenn, clawing him  and biting him , while simultaneously belching flame in a large jet which engulfs Berenn [8, but the damage is blocked by his PfF spell.]
The troll is massively beat up, burning from the fire and acid, and not in good shape. Just so you know....
The grimlocks go first this time. The last one steps out behind Berenn; it was hiding in the shadows there. It swings a big axe, hitting him in the back  and almost knocking him down!
Emyn gasps in pain, astounded at the force of the blow he's just received. Slowly, painfully, he tries to crawl out of the pitch and get his back against the ledge wall so he has at least some protection. Once he gets his chest pieces off, and some are just hanging now anyway, he can breath easier. Wiping the pitch from his face, he lies there, dazed.
Noot rushes around the edge of the chamber, goes down the steps, and finds Emyn. He helps to make sure he's ok, taking out a couple potions of healing from his pack. [Emyn can drink them next round.]
Gotrek steps up, hacking at the troll and hitting it in the leg . Isilme spreads the flames further, again burning the troll . It screams, stumbling to the ground, as Rakk steps up and cuts off its head with a final chop! [The troll's dead, and with the ongoing acid and fire damage it takes while in the flames, it will stay dead.]
Berenn steps back, slashing at the grimlock with Bonefire and killing it. The lizard claws Berenn again  and breaths more fire on him [6: which is blocked].
Thorgrim moves up, glances down to see that Emyn's ok, then continues forward to attack the lizard. It swipes at him as he advances, clawing him , but Thorgrim then plants his pick in the thing's hide .
Berenn slashes back at the lizard, hitting it twice [15 and 16: total 31].
Hepla doesn't have time to hit the troll, but she can move in and blast the lizard. It takes  and it killed!
Hepla sees Noot carring for Emyn so she takes a moment to look for other enemies and to reflect on if her staff felt weak when it fired off the bolt, although is sure worked well. With the Detect Magic still working, while she is looking around does she see any magic, besides the Maul? She says, "I think the maul is bigger them me, someone else will need to carry it."
[DM OOC: It's still strong, but it's hard to gauge I think because it's a powerful item. There's something about that somewhere. I'll look it up. You have used a lot of charges though; I'll tell you that!]
Here's a new map update, without lighting so you can see clearly:
Thorgrim looks at Thark's charred and burning remains and grunts. "We're beat," he says, and stands where he is, keeping watch over the exit door on this side. He casts Cure Moderate Wounds (2LP) on himself until we get situated and he sees what sorts of healing are floating around. Thorgrim heals . Berenn heals  using the Rod of Xodal, and another  for his spell. Meanwhile, Emyn heals  from Noot's two potions.
"We need to get back to half-strength or better before we proceed," says Thorgrim. "Emyn, how's your armor? I believe I've a spare in the hole." Thorgrim will cast another Cure Moderate Wounds and a Cure Light Wounds on himself while he waits to see what healing Berenn, Vaddarra, Hepla and Isilme provide the others.
Rakk checks out the maul. It's 6' long and weighs about 100 lbs. Rakk picks it up and swings it around. He can feel the strength in it, and as he looks at it, he sees strange runes etched in it. They are ancient Formorian, and he can't translate them. It says "Bas a Cual-chnàmh." Rakk says that seems to mean something like, "Death by Crushing Into Pieces."
Thorgrim opens the Hole and puts the maul in it, then retrieves Emyn's extra armor. Emyn strips off his other armor and changes, while the party finishes their healing.
The party then finishes with more healing, before moving on. Thorgrim watches Vaddarra perform her healing rituals. When she's done, he says to her, "Vaddarra, you are on a par with the best of us. Would that I had your Combat Spell abilities, as well. Although I sense that Clanggedin will grant me more, soon, if'n I should please him in battle. Surely this--" he says, hefting Souldrinker "--is all I've needed thus far."
Thorgrim sheathes his Pick+1 and resumes using Souldrinker as his primary weapon.
"There are four empty flasks that I see. Find the corks, and any who want oil can fill them from our stores." Thorgrim has his Portable Hole open for any who wish to do so. While he's down there, he takes another flask of acid and rearranges his potions and scrolls.
"We're set to go. Let's search this warren thoroughly, and find the Throne. It seems the only way to save the villagers in time." Thorgrim grunts. "I don't expect it to work, though. These trolls will see true vengeance if they've already destroyed the town. I'll not allow one of them to live...not one."
There's nothing else in the chamber of note. There are two doors leading out. One to the north and one to the south. There is also the access to the river to the east. Noot found nothing else. Vaddara flies out over the water and looks around. The river flows from south to north, and it carries a decent amount of water.
"I wonder where that damned river leads?" Thorgrim asks aloud. "The marshes? It appears it might be navigable. Perhaps they use it for transport, as well?"
"No," she says, coming back. "Let us go north."
Rakk kicks open the north door, and the party enters.The door opens to a dark passage heading north, then turning left after about 30'.
Emyn says, "Someone peek around that corner."
[Vaddara OOC: Oh ok, so the lightly armored Mage is suppose to walk past the brave paladin (loose association) and peek around the corner?]
Hepla says, "If Noot makes sure there are no traps, I will do it." She prepares to follow 10' behind Noot.
Noot moves up and looks for traps, finding none. He then slips around the corner above, hides in the shadows, and sneaks along. When he gets to another corner, he sees light ahead to the north. Peeking around the corner, he sees a large multi-level chamber.
A high escarpment divides this cave, with the eastern side about 20 feet higher, overlooking the western side. A sloping path and two flights of rough steps connect both halves of the cavern, winding up and around a huge column of rock. A handful of torches scattered around give the area enough light to make out the layout. A foul-smelling pool in the lower portion bubbles and reeks of pitch. Several trolls stand guard here, one below and one above. There is also a strange creature resembling a boulder with arms and legs just above the first steps. Noot recognizes it from the Earth Node, it is a Rock Lord (Galeb Duhr).
"If I remember my legends correctly," says Elrae, "Galeb Duhr's are not particularly evil nor good. It appears that this one is working with the trolls though, for whatever reason. Use caution for they can will rocks to do their bidding."
"Skalmad may have also had some sort of control over it," says Emyn. "Who knows what powers that dread eye has. Still, maybe we can break them with the knowledge that the Smith and Skalmad are dead."
"Aye," Thorgrim replies. "Though that may take some convincing, which could prove difficult, being untrue."
Since Vaddara's fly spell is still active she leaves her continual light shield with emyn and flys up the stream of the water to where she can barely see around the bend of the stream and hopefully can see into that eastern chamber to try and determine what we face. The stream continues until it is crossed by another log bridge. A passage heads west back towards the "corkscrew chamber" where she sees another troll. To the east the passage turns back to the south pretty quickly.
Vaddara flies back to report, and the party regroups in the foundary. "We could take the river," says Vaddara, "and avoid this conflict altogether."
Emyn says, "I almost drowned in that river a few hours ago. I'd rather die fighting than slipping away in icy water."
"Nay, I'd not try that without a few potions of Water Breathing," Thorgrim says.
Rakk just looks at the water uneasily, but he says nothing.
While the party is talking it over, Vaddara can fly south too, checking the river out that way. About 50' away she finds a pretty steep waterfall where the river tumbles down about 20'. Beyond that it branches SE and SW. She sees a strange greenish glow to the SE and a large chamber that way. She can barely make out a large crystal throne atop a stone dais. She spies one troll standing beyond the throne.
[Gotrek OOC: Make up your minds, before Gotrek screams!]
"So how about finding a way to cross the river?" asks Elrea. "I know the fly spell, even though I rarely fly myself. I can cast it three times, but then I'm done with all of my spells. Do we want three people flying, or three lightning bolts cast at trolls?"
"Let me check things out first," says Isilme. Invisble, she flies along the river to the chamber where Vaddara saw the throne. There actually was another waterfall, going up 20' or so, just beyond the first one. It's on the map! She flies all the way through, then to the ceiling of the great chamber.
Suffused with the magic of a Fey portal, the throne cave of the Great Warren was a source of power for the kings of ancient Varghan. The portal is a great throne of purple crystal, filling the cavern with an eerie glow. Patches of fungi along the walls shed a dim green light throughout the rest. The resulting combination of color is quite unsettling. Flowing stalagmites flecked with crystal catch the light of glowing fungi across this huge cavern. A stream bisects the area at the foot of a high cliff, atop which stands a great throne of purple crystal. Several trolls guard the key points, while a pair of stone giants stand across the river to the north. Most unsettling of all to Isilme are the pair of male dark elves waiting on the landing just south of the water. She doesn't get any closer to them than necesary, knowing how keen the awareness of her kin is, even to invisible creatures. She can't make out any house insignia or anything, and both elves have longswords, cloaks, etc., pretty typical of dark elves.
All eyes are on the empty throne, pulsing with strange purple light.
Isilme returns to the party to report what she has seen. She sees Gotrek ready to rumble, and cautions, "Rash action is not called for here, we need to find a way to deal with these enemies and not cripple us."
[Isilme OOC: Rags, I thought I would bring up her paladin ability to sense dark elves, were those the only two she detected?]
[DM OOC: It just tells her that there are dark elves within 100'. It doesn't give any info more specific than that. She wouldn't detect them through stone walls anyway. But when she went towards the chamber, she'd have sensed the presence of dark elves. When she entered that chamber she saw the two she saw. She never sensed anything else, so as far as she can determine, there are just the two.]
Since there is no way to get the party all up the stream, they opt to use Elrae's Wand of Earth and Stone to create passwalls and make their own passage directly across the river. Elrae makes the first. First Passwall spell is done! It creates an opening, 5' wide, 8' high, and 10' long. There is solid rock all around, so it didn't go through to anywhere. Elrae can use his wand multiple times to keep going.
As Elrae gets ready to make another passwall, lengthening his tunnel, Thorgrim and Gotrek stop him. They hear something, a thudding sound from beyond the rock ahead. It gets louder, then fades away.
"Sounds like something heavy walking or hammering," says Emyn. "Rakk, I think that maul of yours will come in handy soon. Hmm, I wonder what passwall does on a stone troll!"
"Probably a Xorn, or a Thuqqa," Thorgrim says. "Elrae, next Passwall, please."
"I wonder what's making all of that thudding" says Elrae with a shrug. "OK here I go." Elrae points his wand of Earth and Stone and casts passwall.
"Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go."
Meanwhile, Isilme flies off on her own, up the stream, to enter the throne chamber from another direction. When the party gets there, she will use spells from a hidden vantage point.
Elrae creates another 10' section with his wand. While the majority of the tunnel he creates stays within the rock, a small area about 1' wide breaks through in the SE corner. Thorgrim light (and Vaddara's too!) shines through it, and Gotrek can see another chamber. It's not the best view from his vantage point; however, he can see that there's a slope going down about 10' away. What looks like an iron cage hangs from the ceiling just beyond that, and then there's another wall beyond that. The entire area is bathed in a strange green light. Elrae does another passwall, which clears the last of the way. Patches of glowing fungi cover the rough stone walls of this huge cavern, illuminating it with a dim green glow. The center of the room is 15 feet lower than the northwest and southeast corners, with broad stone steps connecting the upper and lower levels. Five large iron cages hang by chains from the ceiling. Two stone doors can be seen on the rise to the southeast. In the bottom section, three old women stand in a circle chanting.
"Rakk tell the front line that we need a silence spell," says Hepla.
"Make sure you don't go under the cages," says Rakk. "They are traps. And silence those hags!"
Hepla says, very quietly," they may indeed be hags, the Baba Yaga kind. It would be best for all of us if they did not see me. They would want to use me to get to my mom."
"It will only affect one of them, or be stationary area of effect," Thorgrim says, "But either way, better than using a stone, I think. We'll need to attack as soon as I cast, and our chances of an effective Fireball will be severely reduced. What do you think, Gotrek? Hags first? They're undoubtedly evil witches. I think I will cast on a stone, and carry it with me as I charge into battle."
The hags finish their chant before anyone can do anything. They spotted the light coming through the 1' gap earlier. Thorgrim suddenly disappears! The party suddenly hears a roar from within the chamber! Is it a cave bear? Is it some summoned demon? No! It's Thorgrim!
"I'M HERE! I'VE BEEN CAGED!" he shouts.
One of the hags raises her hands and summons up a dense fog, which quickly engulfs the entire chamber, even spilling down the passwall tunnel and into the river. Nobody can see anything beyond 2'. Meanwhile, Vaddara casts Glyph of Shielding.
Emyn rushes forward, through the fog. He then realizes that he simply cannot see anything beyond a couple feet. He slows down, barely making it to the steps down.
Elrae moves down the passwall, then slips to the right, following the wall. Rakk helps Berenn and Noot over, then climbs up out of the river, dripping water as he draws his blades. Isilme and Hepla stay just out of the fog.
Vaddara casts Mirror Image, creating 7 new images of her. Rakk waits at the far end, as does Hepla. Elrae casts Dispel Magic, but it doesn't work! Gotrek stands guard where he was. Elrae is still just inside the chamber, to the right, and Noot feels his way along until he gets out of the tunnel. He finds Elrae, and slips around him, staying along the back wall. Berenn also moves forward, until he is out of the tunnel. He nearly bumps into Gotrek, and the two stand side-by-side guarding the tunnel, hoping for somebody to do something about the fog.
And here is the map of those by the tunnel. Since they are all near enough to each other, I'll post what they can see, sort of. Actually, the tunnel is full of fog too. In reality, each token can ONLY see right next to it, but since nothing's happening there, and you are all bunched up there, I'll just post this.
Rakk will move forward if there is room, "Can ye fight without light? If so, come forward wit' me. Ain can, guard the way."
Berenn will draw his blades, igniting Bonefire. "I don't have any spells that can work on this fog," he says.
"If you are so powerful," calls Rakk mockingly, "why do you hide like cowards behind this fog? And if one of your masters was Skalmad, he has already left you to die!"
"Death is only the beginning," replies a hag.
The party then hears a crashing thump, followed by Emyn praying to Trithereon.
Hepla wants to swim in the water where there is no fog. She takes a deep breath and goes under water, swimming through the water until she flies up to the waterfall. Then she surfaces and looks around. [Protector, I'll send you a PM.]
Elrae reaches out his hands, "Gotrek, where are you?" He finds his old friend and casts haste on the batttlerager. "Make like the wind and go kill those bitches."
Elrae casts Haste, which affects everyone in the area. That is himself, Noot, Berenn, and Gotrek. EVERYONE AGES ONE YEAR! [OOC: Yes, I'm going back to the rules here. Also, system shock is required to survive any unnatural aging. So, those roles will be made.....Everyone makes them automatically this time, and you are all amazed at the different effects of Haste now. Perhaps it has something to do with current events... But seriously, this is something that will go along with my reboot. I've read LOTS about Haste, and the consensus is that it is without doubt the most powerful 3rd level spell, primarily when you don't have these consequences. So, keep this in mind. It will also apply to Potions of Speed. In fact, ANY TIME you have unnatural aging, you will have to make a System Shock roll. So...be careful.]
Berenn waits for any trouble, as does Noot.
Gotrek starts forward, and suddenly a massive creature appears before him. He can only see part of its body, but it seems some form of dragon. He immediately attacks it, hitting it with Goreblade .
Berenn steps up and joins Gotrek, also slashing the thing .
Rakk then moves up slowly, eventually seeing the hindquarters of the creature. He slashes it with his swords, hitting for [26 and 16: total 42]. The last blows chop a leg off, and the thing falls to the ground with a heavy crash.
Isilme decides to not cast her spell, and she flies back appearing at the tunnel entrance.
You all then hear something heavy to the north, and something slams into the giant lizard's back, snapping it. It slumps to the ground quite dead.
Vaddara summons a Dust Devil. She can move it around next round.
Here's the map. It's tough to do the fog cloud right, and keep fog of war, lighting, etc. I think it's worth it, doing the extra work, because it adds to the confusion and difficulty. However, it slows me down, because it's tricky.
"Well you should let us know that you are summoning giant reptiles." Elrae says rather quickly. He snorts and rubs his gums with his finger and heads towards the south east, looking and listening for Thorgrim. Snowfang is drawn and ready for action.
The dust Devil flies past Berenn at full speed with Vaddara flying up and stopping above Berenn. The dust devil moves past my stopping spot 20 yards since the control distance is 30 yards. It clears a swath, at least momentarily, as it flies.
After yelling, Emyn takes out his lightest magical weapon and assume defensive stance as best he can.
Hepla casts Control Vapor, which clears all the fog from the river and the tunnel, making it all go downstream.
As it clears, you all notice Emyn is on one knee. A hag stands hunched over him, clawing and raking him while he defends feebly. You also not two more of the giant lizards, which suddenly attack the hag. They hit it with multiple attacks, completely rending her to pieces!
You also notice the stone giant with a massive club to the north. Rakk recognizes him, Coalraish, one of the three stone giants from his clan that you were following.
[DM OOC: With this much fog cleared, I'll give you a new map. This will allow you a bit of leeway to change actions accordingly. As a side note, I've put all the mirror images right on top of the respective tokens, because they otherwise clutter things up when you are flying around!]
Emyn tells the lizards to kill the other hags and then tells the others, "I am so weak I cannot even stand. The touch of that hag drew all of the strength from my bones."
Seeing Emyn and the party, Thorgrim shouts, "I'm in some Cage of Force! I've got it handled! ...maybe... Someone see to Emyn!" Thorgrim opens his backpack and removes his Scroll of Dispel Magic, to read it next round.
Rakk will move to engage Coalraish. In Stone Giant, "Coalraish, mother sends her regards and requires you to throw down your weapons and cease and desist. You know I will enforce her word."
"This is none of your concern," replies the stone giant. "Out of respect for your father, I will let you live. Leave now, halfbreed, and you need not die."
"Then you go against the decree of the shamans of our tribe," says Rakk, advancing. "Last warning you receive, foolish one."
Berenn moves down to Emyn, who gradually comes out of his funk. Whatever had affected him went away with the hag's death. [It was Weakness, and it's over now, as are all its effects.]
Thorgrim also is able to dig out his scroll spell and dispel the magic of the cage, which then simply opens to release him.
Elrae moves down, while Noot stays back. Isilme flies inside, floating invisibly above Emyn. She doesn't detect any enemies.
Gotrek stands still, torn by conflicting desires. He doesn't really know Rakk, but he knows giants. It takes all of his strength to hold back as he lets Rakk's parlay play out.
The dust Devil flies past Berenn at full speed with Vaddara flying up and stopping above Berenn. The dust devil moves past my stopping spot 20 yards since the control distance is 30 yards. It clears a swath, at least momentarily, as it flies.
Hepla casts Control Vapor, which clears all the fog from the river and the tunnel, making it all go downstream.
[DM OOC: With this much fog cleared, I'll give you a new map. This will allow you a bit of leeway to change actions accordingly. As a side note, I've put all the mirror images right on top of the respective tokens, because they otherwise clutter things up when you are flying around!]
Emyn was about to draw a lighter weapon, when the Weakness spell ends. The death of the hag must have ended it. He moves forward to try and get a better look at what his lizards are doing. The look at him, waiting for instructions.
Berenn will move back up to Gotrek and wait to see how the parlay works out.
"Rakk, can I join ye in this fight?" says Gotrek, grinding his teeth. If yes, Gotrek will attack the giant. If not, he will see how the fight pans out. He will attack the stone giant at the first sign Rakk is in grave danger.
Thorgrim dons his backpack and steps out of the cage, landing on his feet with a loud thunk. "Simple as that," he says, then: "Emyn! These are your pet lizards, I assume? Whence went the other hags?"
Emyn replies, "Yes, the lizards are friendly. They already killed one of those hags but I don't know where the other two are."
"I am grateful to you, friends, for coming to rescue me. I was stuck like a frongol in a dark cave!" Seeing the standoffish nature of the group to the north, Thorgrim heads to the east with Emyn, seeking hags and hidden foes.
"That can't turn out well," he says in an aside to Emyn. Thorgrim will attack and kill anything he sees. Well, almost anything, I suppose, he thinks. Those hags are going down, for sure.
Noot is looking around for traps/Hags and anything else that may be hiding. He doesn't see anything.
"Hey I don't want this buzz to go to waste," says Elrae. "Let's get those hags and trolls." Elrae rushes over to Thorgrim, joining them.
"Isilme, find us our foes," Thorgrim says. "Berenn, you coming?"
Isilme flies off into the fog, slowly moving along the ceiling. She senses enemies below her and to the south.
"Enough talk," says the stone giant. "Die whelp," he says as he steps forward, swinging his club. He bashes Rakk in the chest . Rakk holds his ground, slashing back at the giant. He hits it three times, swinging his swords in quick succession, each dealing a severe blow to the giant [18, 17, and 25: total 60!] Coalraish reels from the blows, but gives no ground.
Rakk's fighting the stone giant Coalraish up in the north passage, with Berenn and Gotrek flanking him to the rear, just in case. Noot's hiding in the shadows. Everyone else is in the lower section. Isilme has flown off into the fog, and she senses enemies to the south. Hepla is still back by the waterfall. Finally, Ralph runs and leaps across the stream, making it to the tunnel side.
Thorgrim acts firsts, because everyone waits as he attempts to dispel the fog. He chants to the gods, and suddenly the fog dissipates away, as to both of Emyn's summoned lizards! Isilme's Invisibility and stoneskin also are dispelled, as is the invisibility of one of the hags. You can now see it on the ledge to the SE. Oh, and Vaddara's Dust Devil dissipates too.
The hag curses when it sees the fog dissapear and it's own invisibility cancelled. It doesn't seem to notice Isilme, about 15 above it, as its attention is on those in the lower section. Isilme also notes that the door to the SE is now opened.
Elrae uses Snowfang and casts wall of ice to block the doors of the south east passage where the hag is trying to escape. The doorway is suddenly blocked by a wall of ice! The hag glances back, cursing.
Seeing the hag, Emyn throws his Javelin of Lightning. He hits the hag with his javelin, doing  damage. It discharges its lightning, blasting the hag backwards .
Rakk attacks Coalrais, hitting again . Coalrais swings his club again, hitting Rakk a second time . Berenn and Gotrek move a bit to the flanks, as another troll moves up behind Coalraish. It snarles, but stays back, away from the battling giant.
Vaddara casts Cloudkill. The noxious vapors roll north, hitting the giant, doing . It coughs a bit, but otherwise doesn't seem to mind too much. The troll takes .
Since she lost her Invisibility, Isilme will just fly down and attack the hag with Maerthorlear. She hit her for [23!]. The hag, which was slouched down a bit, stands to its full 8' height. Isilme draws back, surprised at the thing's size. The hag claws back at her, hitting her once . It tries to pull her down to bite her, but Isilme breaks free. The thing is strong as an ogre!
Rakk hits twice more, doing [19 and 24: total 43].
[DM OOC: Yeah, keep complaining about Rakk not being that tough!]
The stone giant falls back, and as the cloud rolls off down the hallway, the troll is nowhere in sight.
"Good job, Rakk!" says Gotrek, truly appreciating Rakk for the first time.
Coalraish falls back with a crash. He looks weakly at Rakk, blood pouring out of a half-dozen mortal wounds. "I should have known," he manages to croak hoarsely. "Your...father..." he then sighs as he breathes his last.
Rakk shakes his head sadly, "Trained me well. You saw our last skirmishes, you should have known better. Rest peacefully."
Berenn walks up to Rakk, handing him a potion while casting Cure Serious Wounds on him. Rakk then drinks the potion as he turns to Gotrek. "Gotrek, don't you want to kill the King of the Trolls? He's the other way."
Isilme says "yo she-bitch, let's go!" then drives her longsword into the hag's belly.
Finally, those on the stairs hear the muffled sound of an explosion beyond the ice wall, through which they momentarily see a reddish glow which then subsides. Those on the west raised section also hear the faint rumble of an explosion from upriver, the direction which Hepla went...alone.
"That was a fireball!" cries Vaddara. She then flies out to the river to check on Hepla.
With the hag dead, the party quickly uses some potions and healing spells. Then they hear Vaddara yell from the river. "DROW!"
Isilme casts Detect Invisibility. She begins scanning the chamber....but doesn't see anything yet. Vaddara and Hepla then fly inside. Vaddara flies into the main chamber and stays against the wall slightly north of the passwall opening.
"We saw one drow male," says Hepla quickly. "There is at least one more male drow, and a hag that might be following us. I sent a fireball into the throne room to weaken them a little and separate them. I may have done too well." She stops next to Berenn. "Berenn, do you have your rod handy, or we can wait till we finish off the drow and his friends?"
Berenn sees the long slash to Hepla's arm, blood dripping, and he moves aside with her to get out his rod. He sheaths his swords and takes it out, healing her wound.
Noot joins up with the group by the passwall, and stands to the side, dagger in hand. After making sure the hag is truly dead, Rakk also goes back to the passwall, taking up a stance in front of it and guarding against whatever may come.
Elrae moves up to the SE ledge, checking the far door. It's locked.
Emyn prepares a javelin, while Thorgrim scans around. "That hag's done for," Thorgrim says. "C'mon. Let's rejoin the others before exploring any further." He moves to rejoin the rest of the group.
While waiting to get healed Hepla gets her whip ready. She says, "Rakk, last time I saw the Drow he was spider walking on the roof of the stream."
Vaddara then cancels her cloudkill, as Gotrek heads down the corridor, but the troll is long gone.
"Someone club some sense into Gotrek!" says Emyn.
"Gotrek!" yells Rakk. "We need you here."
Isilme casts her last Invisibility, then flies out to find the drow and hags, following the ceiling and left side wall of the passage. "I will scout and see what I can find" she whispers to thorgrim as she passes.
Thorgrim shakes blood from Souldrinker, then hefts his gory pick. "Easier with weapons than with magic, I should think. Berenn! I think we can see the other exit from here. Would you cover our backs with missile fire and spellpower? Gotrek, stand with me to the north of the passage. Emyn, would you second Rakk? Rakk! We shouldn't tarry here long. Those Drow will be setting a trap, knowing where we're to move."
Thorgrim puffs air into his lungs, and prepares for attack.
[DM OOC: Incidentally, this what happened in various PMs, dealing with characters that were separated, hidden from others, etc. These were posts that were done in PMs, and I thought I'd post them before I lost them!]
During Round 2 Against the hags:
[DM OOC: This is when Thorgrim was "teleported" into the hag cage, and Emyn blundered into the fog alone.]
Thorgrim did what he could, but he cannot get the cage to budge. [That was his action for this round, which included serious Bend Bars attempts. Also, his Strength of Stone spell ended.]
Emyn pressed on into the fog, though he had to move slowly, due to the the stairs. When he reached to the bottom, a hand reached out of the fog, grabbing him. He instantly felt all the strength fade from his body, and he nearly collapsed.
[DM OOC: This was a Weakness witch spell. In game terms, his strength has been dropped to 3, with all accompanying effects. That gives -3 to hit, -1 damage. He was now considered severely encumbered, since he can only carry 10 pounds now. That gives -4 to all attacks, +3 to AC, and his move is reduced to "1". Yeah, it was pretty bad!]
Emyn was attacked by the hag which grabbed him with two clawed hands, raking his face [8 and 8: 16 total]. He fell to the ground unable to walk as the weight of his armour became unbearable. Lying there, he prayed to Trithereon for assistance to protect him in this time of dire need. [He used his summon avengers MS5 ability]. Through the fog, he faintly saw some massive shapes appearing around him, and three large heads of giant lizards appeared through the fog. [They would attack the Hag next round.]
Emyn shouted as loud as he can, "Be careful! One of these hags has weakened me so that I cannot even stand!"
He then activated his speak with animals in his ring and said to the lizards, "Kill the hag attacking me!"
Thorgrim took out some acid from his utility belt one, poured it on the metal of the cage, and saw that the acid did nothing. It's like it's not really touching the metal at all.
Meanwhile, Hepla swam to the waterfall, then made her way up through it. She was in the waterway to the south. She couldn't really see anything back to the north, because the waterfall wass 10', but the ceiling was only 5'. So, her view back was blocked. Ahead, she could make out that the river coming from the south, from a larger pool.
Thorgrim tried to smash and bash at the cage with Souldrinker, hitting the bars and the floor. They don't budge. It's like the cage is made of pure force.....
This is when the party finally made their way inside. Thorgrim cast Dispel Magic on the cage, which got rid of the Forcecage and made it open so he could get out. However, this is also when Hepla took off for a swim! Actually, she kinda messed around on her own, used Control vapor, etc. Then she continued on upstream...alone...
Hepla moved slowly up river until she saw the chamber Isilme described. She stopped and backed up a few feet, hiding in the darkness.
This map shows her infravision, along with the purple light from the throne and the green light from luminescent funghi. From her vantage point just up from the waterfall, she could see everything within the indicated arc. That included a stone giant, looking back to the NE, a hag speaking in an unknown tongue to a dark elf on the opposite ledge. There was also a troll on the far side, guarding a bridge.
[DM OOC: She was still in the darkness. The map shows dim red light (her infravision), but she's otherwise in pitch darkness. She's flying just this side of the second 10' waterfall. The ceiling is about 5' above the water, and she's flying there (or hovering). ]
Hepla lifts her pinch of diamond dust, says a prayer to her godess, and flies the few feet forward [Hepla OOC: 5' move]. She then casts Wall of Force in a hemisphere over the throne.
As soon as she casts her spell, everything around her went pitch black!
Hepla moved forward a little more, to make sure she could point her staff in the right direction. After moving forward enough to be where she wants to be, she fires a fireball into the room from her staff. Then she planned to flee as fast as she could.....
She prepared to cast Spiritform, but she suddenly took a sword cut in the dark , which foiled her spell.
[DM OOC: She should be about 10' from the falls right now. She can't tell exactly, since she's in the dark. She hasn't heard anything through the roar of the waterfall.]
About this time, Vaddara had begun to fly upstream. She flew upriver, just passed the first waterfall. With her Continual Light shield, she could see all the way to the pool upriver. Two streams join there, the one to the east comes from the Throne room. She couldn't really see up the waterfall from here, since the ceiling is only 5' and the waterfall is 10'.
Back upstream Hepla says in drow, "Figures, you attack the first thing you see and let the real enemy escape. You fool, I am a witch, now go get that elf."
In drow she hears a man's voice, whisper back. "More fool you, little girl. Now you die."
Hepla dove straight down into the water. The force of it carried her, **** over teakettle, down the waterfall!
Vaddara looked for burn marks and smoking remains, but she saw nothing. Whatever happened didn't happen here, she thought. Vaddara flew up to the pool when Hepla suddenly came tumbling down the waterfall. She surfaced for air, dripping wet but still clearly using her fly spell, when she saw Vaddara floating above the pool as well, her continual light shield lighting the area.
"I found Isilme's chamber," she said. "There is a least one dark elf coming this way. I told him that an elf had cast the fireball. I did not know you would be coming this way. Prepare to defend ourselves." She then started to fly downriver.
"I'm not fighting a separate battle away from the main group and not sure why Hepla started one," thinks Vaddara. She hopes her stoneskin, glyph of shielding and mirror images are enough and turns to immediately fly back to the group.
Before anyone can move, darkness enveloped the area! It basically cancelled out the continual light from her shield. Momentarily blinded, there was nothing either could do until their vision returned. As it did, they caught a glimpse of a dark elf walking in an upside-down crouch on the ceiling, just coming out from the area of the waterfall. Hepla and Vaddara then both turned away and flew off to the south as fast as they could! They made it to the passwall tunnel entrance and saw Noot standing there holding Ralph.
[DM OOC: This is where they rejoined the party. I just wanted to update everyone and not lose this PM stuff. Too often in the past, when doing campaign journals, I found PMs long lost. So, here you go!]
"Let's get out of here before we get flanked," says Emyn.
Elrae moves over by the fungi patch he indicated, ready to use his Wand to make another Passwall. Isilme flies back across the chamber, passes Rakk, and goes through the passwall tunnel. She then moves upstream 5', just out of the light from the adjoining chambers. Once her vision adjusts, she can see as far upstream as the first falls. Also using her Detect Invisibility, she sees nothing but empty passage. Well, except for the stream!
After some quick healing, the party prepares to attack the throne room. Everyone is down along the south wall of the hag's chamber. Only Rakk remains behind, holding the passwall tunnel against any who come that way. The light around them is from Bonefire, but otherwise it's just the light from the luminescent fungi that illuminates the chamber. Rakk can see through the passwall across the stream and to the other side, illuminated dimly by the fungi in the chamber.
As they get ready, Elrae speaks the verses of an old song.
Elrae puts Snowfang away and pulls out his Cittern. "There is still some magic left in this ol' girl."
Let's get ready to rumble!
Feel the fire, he's entering the ring,
His Mindset only knows how to win,
This danish fighter will break you in two,
You will feel all his power!
The viking warrior Mikkel Kessler
Will now brand his name, in the back of your head, yeah
You feel the floor again, unleashing his hell
You will not even hear the bell
Maybe you're strong, but you don't stand a chance
Feel the power of a warrior! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Let's get ready to rumble! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Breaking your Record and breaking your bones,
Born a warrior with a code,
A Champion feeding your face with a fist,
You will feel all his power!
The viking warrior Mikkel Kessler
Will now brand his name, in the back of your head, yeah
You feel the floor again, unleashing his hell
You will not even hear the bell
Maybe you're strong, but you don't stand a chance
Feel the power of a warrior! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Let's get ready to rumble! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
A Gladiators left hand hook FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Feel the pain of tomorrow!
Behold here comes the son,
Believe it, he was born to be the chosen one,
The call is for a warrior,
His name will echo on the sea and on the ground
Feel the fire, he's entering the ring,
His Mindset only knows how to win,
This danish fighter will break you in two,
You will feel all his power!
The viking warrior Mikkel Kessler
Will now brand his name, in the back of your head yeah
You feel the floor again, unleashing his hell
You will not even hear the bell
Maybe you're strong, but you don't stand a chance
Feel the power of a warrior! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Let's get ready to rumble! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
A Gladiators left hand hook,
Feel the pain of tomorrow!
Behold here comes the son,
Believe it, he was born to be the chosen one,
The call is for a warrior,
His name will echo on the sea and on the ground.
"Well," said Berenn. "Least they gave us time to prepare."
"It's just the calm before the storm," says Noot dryly.
Elrae preapres to use his wand to create another passwall tunnel and enter the throne room from an isolated corner, rather than the iced over door....
Elrae uses his wand, creating another passwall tunnel through the rock. As soon as it opens, you hear a scream from beyond. Emyn rushes through, and this is HIS view:
Suffused with the magic of a Fey portal, the throne cave of the Great Warren was a source of power for the kings of ancient Varghan. The portal is a great throne of purple crystal, filling the cavern with an eerie glow. [like my use of lighting?] Flowing stalagmites flecked with crystal catch the light of glowing fungi across this huge cavern. A stream bisects the area at the foot of a high cliff, atop which stands the great throne of purple crystal. There is dim light throughout the chamber. The roof of the cavern rises 30 feet above the main floor, 20 feet above the high ground to the south. The stone door to the north is opened, but Snowfang's wall of ice blocks the passage. A steep slope rises to a height of 15 feet, separating the southern part of the cavern from the lower northern floor. Stone steps are carved into the slopes (shown as ladders on the map). Large stalagmites rise from the floor, some nearly meeting their kin from the ceiling. Some are fully developed columns (the two to the north side). There's a chamber off to the west, and there is torchlight within.
That chamber is guarded by a stone troll. A stone giant stands off to the east, and another normal troll to the NE of it. There is a figure, looks like a drow, in the middle of a massive conflagration of burning oil (must have been Isilme!). Some of the burning oil has poured off the ledge, down the 10' cliffside, and pooled up again below, with some flowing into the stream and creating a cloud of hissing steam. Finally, the last hag is standing by the throne across the river.
If there is anything unknown, let me know. Emyn was acting first, so he charged through and will throw his javelin of lightning at the hag. The hag was looking at the fire to the east and didn't even see him. His javelin strikes her blasting her with it's electric discharge. It doesn't seem to bother her, and the bolt seems to simply flow around her, not even affecting her at all. It also doesn't reach the throne, reflecting back off some invisible wall before it and striking off in another directions. She turns, but before she can yell, Thorgrim and Gotrek rush through. They see the stone giant and plow right into it from behind. Gotrek hits it , while Thorgrim misses.
Berenn follows, rushing over to attack the troll. He hits it with Bonefire [15+4].
Hepla and Vaddara fly in, Hepla using her whip against the hag. It snaps out at her, then suddenly just fizzles out when it strikes her!
Noot stays on the far side of the passwall, while Rakk moves up beside Elrae, ready to hold this end of the portal.
Here's the final result of what I am considering a "surprise" round. With Isilme dropping the flaming oil as she did, attracting the full attention of the other creatures here, they were totally surprised by Elrae's Passwall. So, I gave everyone one free surprise round. Regular initiative after this.
"Damn," says Hepla. "My dome of force is still covering the throne, and the hag."
The hag looks back at Hepla with knowing eyes. "Traitorous girl," she hisses, pointing a gnarled finger at Hepla.
Actually, Gotrek got another attack, due to haste. He hits the giant a second time . Berenn also had another attack, and he hit the troll for another [18+4]. The troll is reeling and on fire as well! The haste spell then ends.
Noot slips through the passwall tunnel, making his way around to the west, keeping to the wall. He is followed by Elrae, who takes out his cittern and prepares to aid as best he can.
The troll attacks Berenn, slashing him with a claw .
Hepla uses her wand of whips again, with the same result. It snaps at the hag, and has no effect, the magic simply fizzling out when it reaches her!
Thorgrim swings at the stone giant, hitting it in the foot with Souldrinker .
With the surprise from the burning oil passed, the drow in the center of the conflagration seems quite composed. He walks back out of the fire, then chants in a language that Isilme could swear sounds like that of the eladrin. He is instantly cleaned of any oil that was stuck to himself. He then looks around at the battle and smiles.
Vaddara casts Airbolt at the stone giant, hitting Gwurall (that's his name!) in the chest .
Emyn moves around to assist Berenn, drawing his sword of acid. The troll hits him with an AoO, slashing him . Berenn then slashes at the troll, missing. The troll attacks Berenn and Emyn violently, missing with claws but biting Berenn . Berenn then hits with his bonefire, chopping off the troll's head! The thing falls backwards to the ground, and its burning head rolls off to the side.
Gotrek then attacks Gwurall, missing.
Gwurall kicks Gotrek , launching him backwards (like a field goal!). He flies back into the north wall , then drops to the floor. He's not stunned, but upset, and as he gets up, he starts to sing!
The hag sends a green ray from its fingertip, which strikes Hepla's last mirror image, both instantly dissolving. She curses in some dark language, but then smiles. "No tricks now, girl," she says. It then looks back at the stone giant guarding the doorway. "Don't just stand there, idiot! Go get them!"
It growls, then walks forward, going down to the lower level just before the stream.
Ralph and Rakk stay back, guarding the rear. Then the steam from the burning oil is so thick that nobody can see the hag anymore (except Isilme who is actually flying at the ceiling. She had a spell prepared, but I don't think she will use it now....
Emyn shouts, "Rakk, we need you in here!" before he attacks the stone giant engaged with Thorgrim.
The dark elf calmly walks back over to the purple throne, then speaks with the hag. Nobody can hear what they say.
Ralph starts to growl, looking back behind Rakk. He turns around in time to see a troll coming through the passwall tunnel.
Noot slips over into the fungi niche to his right, against the wall, and hides in shadows, while Vaddara casts Lava Monster, creating one behind the stone troll across the stream.
The Stone troll throws a rock, hitting Hepla . She fails her concentration check and looses the Mirror Image spell.
Gotrek drinks his potion of ex-healing and then advances. He stops short, to avoid AoO.
Berenn casts CMW on himself, healing all his wounds. Thorgrim swings at the stone giant leader, Gwurall, piercing his foot with his pick [x2 CRIT: 18].
Gwurall cries out in pain, smashing the rock he is holding down upon Thorgrim's head with both hands [x3 Crit: 53!]. Thorgrim is slammed to the ground, knocked out! His pick stays stuck in Gwurall's foot, as Gwurall lets go of the rock.
The giant reaches for the pick when Emyn steps up behind him, slashing him with his sword . I'm assuming he's using it 2-handed, since I don't think he has his shield out. The acid of the blow deals another .
Gwurall falls to the ground, foot still pinned by Thorgrim's pick. He tries to roll over and raises his hands. "I yield," he says in a gravelly voice.
Meanwhile, Rakk stands his ground where he is.
Isilme appears, slashing the drow across the back of the neck with Maerthorlear. The blow opens a wicked cut across its neck, which nearly instantly heals. The "drow" turns around and looks at Isilme, locking it's gaze with hers. There is a strange, deathly aspect to the man's gaze, and Isilme feels it, deep within her soul. Fear takes hold of her, and she can sense her body tense, her fingers start to open, loosening their grip on Maerthorlear. As she is about to drop it, the soothing sound of Maerthorlear's humming seems to cut across the darkness. It blocks out the dread that had nearly taken hold, and with newfound strength, Isilme takes a firm hold of Maerthorlear once again, having fought off whatever that effect was.
[DM OOC: OK, should explain something. First, Isilme was protected by Maerthorlear's ability to shield her and enabled her to make a key save there. Second, the "cut and heal" effect is NOT regeneration per se. The "drow" was immune to the blow. Now, that would be good enough to simply say, but I wanted something "cool-looking." I was thinking more of Wolverine's ability to instantly heal, and used something like that. I sometimes do things like this, but you should know what you are up against. Had this been a hard/stone-like creature which was immune to the blow, I'd have said it "bounced off with no effect." Had it been something like a ghost, I may have said, "your sword simply slices through it" or something like that. However, I see that sometimes I say things just to add flavor to a simple missed attack roll. This is a different situation, and I need to make sure that you guys understand it when this is the case. So, when this sort of situation occurs in the future, I will tell you SPECIFICALLY "your foe was immune to the blow" or something like that. You will know that it wasn't just a miss that I made more colorful.]
"Traitor" isilme says in ancient elvish.
"Yes," he replies, in a version of ancient elvish that Isilme barely understands, but that is clearly different. "You are."
I should have added the following too. When Isilme attacked the "drow" not only was her blow completely ineffective, but she was "pushed" backwards 15' (10' up and 5' back). I've adjusted her on the map, and here's the update:
Berenn will cast Cure Moderate Wounds on Thorgrim. "Looks like you should have ducked!"
Ralph starts to leap forward, but Rakk grabs him. "No Ralph," he says, holding him back. "Back." Ralph calms down, and Rakk prepares to meet the troll's charge.
The hag sees Isilme and instantly turns Ethereal. It attempts to move to the throne, but finds its way blocked!
Hepla uses her whip on the drow, but it just fizzles out when it strikes out at it! The "drow" ignores Hepla's whip and disappears, reappearing instantly and immediately next to the throne. It smiles at Isilme as it sits down. Swirling purple and ebony vapors gather and whip around it, then it disappears altogether.
Meanwhile, Gotrek steps forward and with one massive chop from Goreblade he cuts Gwurall's head clean off! "No time fer prisoners," he says grimly.
Berenn rushes over to Thorgrim. The dwarf is unconscious, but he is still alive. Berenn will heal him next round.
Elrae uses the power of his cittern to send magic missiles slamming into the stone trol .
Emyn stands there for a moment, unsure what to do until another stone flies across the chamber, just missing Hepla! He turns and sees the culprit, a stone troll, on the far side of the stream. He rushes towards Hepla, interposing himself between her and the troll.
The troll is then hit by the lava monster [2+4]. The troll turns around and smashes the lava monster twice, pummeling it for [7 and 13: 20 total].
Isilme stays further away from the hag, but doesn't cast anything. Now that the hag has gone ethereal, she probabaly knows she can't hit it. I'll let Tempus come up with next round actions. Vaddara, hearing commotion behind, goes back into the other chamber.
Meanwhile, in the hag's chamber, the troll charges Rakk. He meets it with his swords, slashing it twice [23 and 14: total 37]. First was an AoO, second was one of his attacks. He missed his offhand attack. The troll hits Rakk with a claw  and a bite . As Vaddara watches, she sees three black shapes glide into the chamber from the west...
"Could be an illusion," thinks Vaddara, but she's taking no chances. "Come here Ralph, Rakk..take a few steps backwards!"
Rakk hits the troll, killing it. It falls to the ground, and he steps backwards while Vaddara casts Protection from Evil 10'radius. The wraiths advance, but stop short of the circle of protection. They cannot cross it!
Back in the throne room, Isilme challenges the hag. "I resisted the temptations of Iuz himself, you are not even a shadow to the flickering light of his power"
Isilme holds her holy blade before her and then points at the hag and says "In the name of Eilistraee I command you to return from whence you came evil one." She hums a strange otherworldly tune that reverberates throughout the chamber, and all that can hear it feel a strange longing to return home. Isilme casts "dismissal" (note this is a song spell, so -1 to the save to be added to the spells calculation).
[DM OOC: Crap! That actually worked this time!] The hag shrieks as it is sent back to Hades!
The lava monster and the stone troll both destroy each other with simultaneous blows. Emyn drags Hepla over behind the column, before she gets hit again. Berenn casts CMW on Thorgrim, healing . Elrae sends a Melf's Acid Arrow into the back of the troll . It howls in pain, but the sound is drowned out by the roar from another source, Gotrek!
In a fit of rage (normal, not battlerager rage!) Gotrek charges across the chamber and leaps across the stream. The troll swipes at him, missing its AoO, and Gotrek plows into it, leading with Goreblade . The troll goes down hard, struggling with Gotrek standing on its back, bloody goreblade held high.
Berenn and Vaddara both attempt to turn the wraiths, and they succeed, with them backing off and then slowly dissipating until they are gone.
Meanwhile, Isilme starts to concentrate on the presence of a dark elf. She sense it to the west, and looking that way she sees one standing upside down on the ceiling, watching the chamber. It clearly notices her looking at it too!
Meanwhile, Gotrek finishes off the stone troll with Goreblade. As he chops it apart, a dart fires out of the darkness, hitting him in the cheek. He pulls it out, seeing that it is a drow dart; he's felt their sting before. This time, as the sleep poison starts to course through his blood, Gotrek struggles against it, rising to his feet. He licks the dart, then tosses it into the stream.
He looks up, just as the dark elf steps back into the darkness. He smiles just the same. "Have to do better 'n that, elf," he says grimly.
Thorgrim comes to, shaking the cobwebs from his head. "What the--" he begins, seeing his headless opponent before him--then he focuses on Hepla and the words she's saying. "But isn't Vaddarra--" he begins, then checks himself. "Oh, right. Berenn, you want to attend to that?" Thorgrim quaffs his Potion of Extra Healing from his belt , and prepares to charge across the bridge to help Gotrek. He sees the burning oil up on the ledge before the bridge, and thinks that probably isn't the best way to go.
As more of his wounds heal, he notes the weakness of that potion. "Have ta have a talk with Lyseious," he mutters, standing.
Noot comes out of the shadows as Elrae steps forward, looking around. Rakk stands guard in the other chamber, staying within Vaddara's circle of protection.
Hepla swaps out her wand, seeing things under control, and takes out her Wand of Fire Extinguishing. With it she puts out the flaming oil. The steam also stops, and the chamber clears up. Everyone can see that all enemies seem to be gone except for the dark elf. Only Isilme can see it, as she has Detect Invisibility working.
Berenn will come back through the pass wall. "Noot check for anything useful on the dead." After the dead have been checked, Berenn will decapitate the stone troll.
"You keep not saving any for me!" Thorgrim calls. He crosses the bridge and over toward Gotrek slowly, scanning for enemies and brandishing Souldrinker. He doesn't touch the Throne.
Noot moves over to Hepla, giving her the potion. She drinks it, healing [7: I removed the potion from Noot's sheet.] She is looking at the giant, and finds a large bag on it's belt.
Gotrek changes weapons, as Vaddara moves into the chamber.
Isilme flies across the chamber, going straight for the drow as it too turns to run, heading back around the corner. It disappears into magical darkness, and Isilme pauses before following.
Isilme casts "light" to cancel the darkness and does a 5' move to the ceiling. She then calls out in drow. "Those who guarded this place have fled or died. I claim this warren."
There is no reply, nor any indication the drow is still there. Rather than blindly follow into a trap, she returns to the throne.
After quickly collecting everything interesting they can find and casting a few more healing spells and/or drinking potions, the party gathers by the throne. It's a solid peace of crystal, pulsating with purple light rhythmically, like deep steady breathing.
"It is like a heartbeat," say Gotrek.
"Don't suppose we could get a volunteer to sit on the throne," says Berenn, looking at Elrae.
"No way," he says. "It's bad luck to sit on a evil throne."
"This is beyond me," says Gotrek. "I will do whatever it takes, to get us quicker to the town, and save the population."
"In truth," says Isilme, "if stranded somewhere on another plane I am the only one who could return to the prime material - I can attempt to use this throne of you wish. However, we could simply destroy the throne, sealing this passage and make haste to the town on foot. I remenber something in my books about this, but it would take the help of Rakk. After seeing the power of that strange drow we faced, this may be a wiser course of action."
"Indeed," Thorgrim responds, stroking his beard. "But how shall you return to tell us, if it isn't possible? The passage could be one-directional, but of course you should try. We know it transports, as we've seen it used. I think we need to use it to follow our enemies and get back to town in time to save it. We can't destroy it, Isilme...not yet, anyway."
"Well, lass, I'll he'p ya if you wish," says Rakk. "But, if tha's a portal to th' Summerland, it's likely beyond our strength ta destroy it."
"Lad, you can smash it to splinters. The Gate will still be there, and the Power on the other side will restore it. The Gate is beyond mere strength. Giants have strength to spare. The Titans of old needed great Magics ta block them. we have none o' the like."
"I stand ready too," says Emyn. "We pledged to fight this evil and if that takes us to the unseen world then so be it. I will not break my oath to Rualiss."
"Thorgrim shows great wisdom," says Isilme. "The truth is we could end up wandering the fey lands looking for a portal back to town. In our haste to help I think we did not realize the enormity of such an endeavor. I have walked the planes before, and time is not always what it is here, and it is very easy to loose your way in your wanderings."
She then glances at Rakk. "Agreed Rakk, but we have a mallet made by the Titans themselves, which should be of enough strength to smash the throne and render the portal itself inoperative. Yet you are the only one strong enough to wield it and survive the force of the gates destruction....and that is why I would need your help"
Rakk nods, still uncertain. "It's likely the real leader is on the other side too," he says. "Skalmad was not here, and the unseelie went to report. We may need to follow to block their plans, and who knows how close the Moon Door opens to it. If we destroy it, it may not reform til they are ready to come and too late for us. Any route we take may be disastrous, now."
"Much as I don't like it, I think we should attempt to use the throne," says Berenn.
"You have no idea how to use the throne either," replies Isilme, "but it doesn't seem to stop you from suggesting we try. You assume we are going to make it back before a horde of evil fey cross over into this world. What's the harm in attempting to destroy it? If I am wrong, then we are in the same place we are now."
Meanwhile, Noot checks out the far door, finding it unlocked. Neither does he find traps. He opens it and reveals Skalmad's private chambers. A human scribe named Dethos has been held here since being taken captive near town almost a year ago. He serves as Skalmad’s valet, scribe, and interpreter. Dethos knows that Skalmad “crosses into the fey lands” by means of the crystal throne, and he tells his rescuers that the troll king makes use of a place of power in the lands beyond known as the Stone Cauldron.
The room contains a variety of trophies and prizes, mostly the broken weapons of defeated enemies and shields marked with the emblems of other troll clans. Additionally, two large chests contain a large shield, a beautiful set of leather armor, 2,600 gp, seven pearls (worth 100 gp each), and a gold signet ring worth 700 gp.
Isilme recalls that ancient Varghan was allied with fomorian realms in the Fey lands. Stories of Vard’s “Seat of Power” mention the troll king holding court in great throne rooms in both realms.
Further, Dethos tells what he has heard and observed. Skalmad has the power to wield the trolls of the Rushmoors together, but cannot keep them together without conquests. Thus, he has unleashed them on the southern settlements. As for the throne, he has pieced together how it works. To activate the crystal throne, Skalmad would sit upon the throne. His eye would burn with eldritch fire, and suddenly he would be gone. Further, Skalmad died once before, after falling in battle to Ttarmek, the giant two-headed troll king of Kadorhak. After his return, Skalmad was larger, stronger, more powerful than before.
"Great!" says Emyn sarcastically. "So when we find him in this realm, he will be even larger and more powerful than before. How does one wield this eldtrich fire?"
"If you mean the Eye of Moran," replies Dethos, "then you stick it into your empty eye socket. I don't recommend it."
When he mentions Moran's Eye, Isilme and Elrae both take interest. They both know a little something. Elrae shares the following legend he once heard:
"The ancient fomorian king Moran was known for his pursuit of fell magic. He transformed his evil eye into a crystal vessel filled with fire. He then crafted several lesser eyes of similar design, naming them Moran’s Eyes and giving them to powerful monsters in exchange for fealty."
Isilme could swear she read something about this too. She takes off her backpack, removing her book, the History of Vaghan, a large heavily bound tome which deals with the subject. She then starts reading through it, searching for the relevant passage. Eventually she finds it:
"The troll king Vargh, founder of the realm of Varghan, wielded one of Moran’s Eyes, using it to dominate his violent subjects. When the realm was destroyed after Vecna's fall, Vargh was killed in battle at Kadorhak, his body and the eye vanishing in a sheet of orange flame."
Berenn turns back to Dethos, "So without Moran's Eye, we cannot hope to operate the throne? I don't suppose there is a spare eye lying around?"
"Maybe the drow used faerie fire to evoke the throne," says Elrae. "Dethos said that it needs eldritch fire to activate. Anyone have a spell like that? Or maybe Bonefire will work."
"Well, there's only one way to know," says Hepla. She gives Emyn a major kiss, "For Luck," then walks to the throne.
Isilme just drops into the throne before Hepla and sighs. "Someday your impetuousness will get you all killed. You will be missed." She then mimics exactly what she observed the "drow" did in the chair. Nothing happens, so she then uses her faerie fire ability, and suddenly she disappears.
"Like I said," says Rakk, "it most likely leads to th' Summerland. Land o' the Fey. And eldritch fire is again a given. Tis a Fomorian item. They have magic ta spare."
As the party considers their options, Isilme returns in a flash of light, holding what appears to be a fairy sized dead eladrin in her lap.
"I did a quick aerial scout of the area," she says. "The entrance seems clear enough but the doorway appears guarded by golems. This appears to be another pocket plane, like the elemental nodes we experienced before, only for dark faerie. Your hopes of rushing through this plane to find the gate to save the town are misguided. The town gate appears to lead into the pocket plane of the good faerie. Not that there might be a tunnel between the two somewhere, but nothing that would enable us to save the town quickly. I advise we attempt to destroy this throne and lock the evil within. Then rush with haste to see if we can save the town. The evil "drow" eladrin slayed this goodly eladrin I brought back, perhaps one of you clerics can speak with the dead?"
[DM OOC: Isilme's official report:
You feel a sudden lurch as the throne chamber blurs, then just as quickly snaps back into focus. You appear not to have moved at all, yet the roof of the cavern has been replaced by open sky. What were once walls have become towering cliffs heavy with moss, a tree-covered landscape around you torn through by enormous rifts extending down into darkness.
The color of the throne beneath her has darkened to a near-black hue. A rockslide has shattered the doorway that once led to the chamber to the north. A pale yellow glow radiates from that area now. Isilme gets an investigates.
A fall of rock to the east has pulled down part of the cliff wall on that side, and the area is open to the sky. Three suits of plate armor stand on display in the lower central section of the cavern. They appear to be of excellent make, and are posed with greatswords held up in salute. To the northeast stands an archway, with a solid slab of stone cliff face behind it. Ancient runes are scribed across it, glowing yellow. Close by, the corpse of an eladrin lies sprawled on the ground in a pool of drying blood.
[DM OOC: You rightfully figure they are golems of some sort. This image only shows one, but there are three.
Isilme then cast Invisibility and flew up in the air. She could see the fortress from there. The small outpost to the left must once have served as an inspection point for travelers bound for the fortress. Eight pillars support the ceiling, each carved at the top in the shape of a dragon’s head. The open mouth of each pillar drips an acrid-smelling viscous green fluid. One of the pillars has been smashed, and a section of the ceiling has fallen here without the support of the pillar.
She can also see a path heading from the outpost to the larger fortress. The path ahead is partially flooded where water cascades down from the cliff above. This wide pond is stagnant and murky, with trees and other foliage from the surrounding forest growing up on both sides of the submerged road.
Finally, there's the large fortress, mostly ruined with large parts collapsed. You can't make out anything about it from here.]
"Rakk is the mightiest among us, I think if I cast "enlarge" on him, and he used the Titans weapon we discovered it would generate sufficient force and magic to destroy the throne....though I would suggest we all clear out of the chamber."
"Aye, Titan magic clashing wit' Formorian will be . . . . most spectacular. "
Thorgrim grunts. "Then let's try that. Perhaps first without the spell enhancement. Rakk, the throne is yours."
Rakk spits on his hands, taking the Maul of the Titans as the party evacuates the area. After making a few practice swings to gauge the weight, and his new size and strength, he brings the Maul down in a herculean swing, smashing it into the throne.
Both the throne and maul explode in a burst of white energy, blasting everything in the chamber. Rakk takes 100 damage! When the smoke clears, he is standing there, his clothes and armor destroyed. Nothing he carries survived the blast, and he is holding only the shaft of the Maul. The throne lies in a half-dozen pieces, having been sundered completely by the blow. The pulsing has stopped, and there is no more magic coming from it.
The massive destruction leaves the party stunned. Never has anyone seens force such as that unleashed by the maul splitting the ancient throne.
"Zounds!" cries Thorgrim, and rubs his eye. "The reflection alone nearly blinded me!"
"WOW," says Hepla with a slight giggle, "that was something. Anybody got something for Rakk to put on?"
Looking around, Isilme laughs. "Plenty of dead giant clothes around to choose from."
"That was the most amazing feat of strength I have ever witnessed," exclaims Elrae. "Impressive indeed Rakk. Those ****' faeries should thank their lucky stars Elrae of Woodstock, Hero of Homlet didn't venture to their realm to retrieve his stolen goods."
"We've still Skalmad to deal with," Thorgrim declares, "And we're in no shape to fight further today. We've been blessed by Clanggedin with some days to prepare for that battle. Rakk, you can borrow back that replacement sword you bought me. Emyn, what did you do with yours? Rakk, I regret I've no armor that could fit you, of course."
As Rak takes stock of his equipement, what he has left, Thorgrim continues. "Let us ride forth and see what we can do about that troll army...the villagers may lose the battle and yet win the war."
"I am happy to offer the use of some of my backup weapons, Rakk," says Emyn. "But I think armour and clothing will have to come from those dead giants. You paid a high price to destroy that throne but you may have saved many by doing it. I salute your bravery and am honoured to call you friend."
Rakk slumps visibly as he is stripping off some giant cloths and armor. "I'm afraid someone else will have to bear the brunt of battle for a bit."
He still has the Bastard sword he borrowed from Emyn, as well as his kujang. Thorgrim and Berenn use some of their last healing on him, but just then the entire complex starts to shake, naturally. Pieces fall from the ceiling as it seems it's starting to collapse.
"Let's get out of here now!" shouts Emyn. He grabs Hepla's hand and starts to run back to the passwalls.
It takes a few minutes to run out, and no other trolls are met on the way. The party makes it outside, and the entire warren complex collapses into the muck and mire just after they exit.
"Well that did the trick," says Thorgrim, watching as the river begins to wend its new path. "We should consider a forced-march, and rest just before our return to the village."
"Time is wasting. We need to move," urges Emyn. he then mutters, "I wonder what damage the destruction of that throne wrought in the evil fey realm."
Elrae smiles at the thought as the party gathers up the people the freed. They start out, and travel through the next day. Hepla and Isilme fly ahead and around the party, scouting for them in the rough terrain. After a night's rest, you continue, hoping to make the town the next day. On the way, you get warning from Isilme and Hepla scouting ahead that an army of trolls, numbering into the hundreds, maybe thousands, are coming your way from the south, from the direction of town.
"We cannot hope to win this fight," says Emyn. "We must evade, watch what that army does and see if anything can be done to aid those in the town. Maybe the destruction of the throne prevented them from achieving their goals. Isilme, Hepla, were you able to tell if the town was still intact?"
"No, we are still about a day from the town," replies Hepla.
The party avoids the trolls easily enough, and the vast army flows on by them. As they pass, you note they are more a disorganized mob, and also seem to fight themselves too.
After they pass, you can continue on towards the town. Isilme and Hepla report that the trolls soon have disappeared into the swamp, going every which way. You sleep for the night, high on the hills, and then continue on in the morning. By evening you reach the town, and what you find is unsettling:
There aren't any enemies to fight here; all the trolls have left. The town is destroyed.
"Aaargh! We knew this would happen!" shouts Thorgrim, and then calms himself. "Perhaps destroying the Throne wasn't the way to go, though it was our objective. We have to look for survivors. And we have to kill Skalmad, lest his evil spread further."
"We should have attacked those trolls!" says Gotrek, anger rising. "Now, the town is in ruins, and the culprits have snuck away! AAAARRRGGGHH! Who do I kill now, by Clangeddin!"
[DM OOC: Well, the adventure is set up a certain way. If you choose to NOT go to save the town, then you can defeat Skalmad BEFORE he is reborn. Not necessarily how you guys did it, but hey, one way is as good as another. However, in that case the town gets destroyed. If you had chosen to help the town, then you would have arrived just after the trolls began their attack. You could have saved the town, but in the mean time Skalmad would have returned, stronger than ever. So, it could go either way.]
Casting Flight Hepla takes out her wand of Fire Extinguishing and flies as close as she can get to island where the gate is/was. She puts out fires when she can and sees what remains. She tells the party what she is doing and invites those who can to come along. She specially asks Vaddara as her gift of cold might come in very helpful.
[Gotrek OOC: I like the stronger Skalmad myself!]
[Berenn OOC: I guess there was no way to destroy Skalmad and save the town. On the good side of the equation, the trolls are disorganized and probably won't cause anyone trouble for quite a while.]
[DM OOC: Sure there was. You save the town, then go back and destroy Skalmad. He's just stronger for the finale. This way, there's no finale. Skalmad's not really destroyed, though he's hardly the worst thing in the Feydark. In fact, compared to the Fomorians and hags and such, he's small fry.]
[Berenn OOC: We would have needed to know the troll army was on the march and then headed back. Not sure how we would have discovered that.]
[DM OOC: Skalmad told you before he "died." I guess you weren't paying attention.]
[Berenn OOC: The point was the trolls had to travel the same distance and only a little faster than we could move. Unless they were aided by a time travel spell, we should have arrived about three hours after the attack started. But I guess the argument is moot at this point.]
[Isilme OOC: Even so, I get his point. We only delayed 2 hours at the most. I think what Ragnar is saying is that the module makes it clear the only choices you have. Any delay causes you to fail to make it in time. Even if it makes zero sense.]
[DM OOC: It isn't so much that it makes no sense. It just changes what the result is. I usually keep very careful track of time, and move things "off screen" appropriately. However, in this case there is no "time track" for the troll army. What you were supposed to do is go back to save the town. HOWEVER you do it (walking, flying, teleporting, etc.) you get there just as the trolls attack. There is no concept of actual time for the trolls to get there or anything; it's just set up as part of the adventure to happen that way no matter what.
The other option is for you to ignore the town and press on against Skalmad. If you do that, you can defeat him and his plans before he comes back. However, the price for that is the destruction of the town. So, there is no issue with timing. It's an arbitrary plot device, though maybe an annoying or frustrating one.]
After dealing with most of the fires, Hepla investigates the Moon Door. The stones are still there but any and all vegetation on the small island has caught fire and burned up. All that's left is smoking charred earth, and of course the henge, though it is blacked with soot.
Godsday, 11th of Flocktime (581)
It's a week after the full moon. The Moon Door doesn't open again for three weeks. The island of the Moon Door as well as the larger island where Rualis lived are both smoking ruins. All the vegetation has been burned off. The standing stones of the Moon Door are still there, though blackened with soot. There is no sign of the townsfolk.
"Might they have evacuated when they saw what was coming?" asks Emyn. "Might Rualliss, foreseeing this event found a ways to bring these folk into the feywild for some relative safety? If we can learn whether there were survivors somewhere, these people who we brought back with us from the warren might at least be able to reunite with them and find safety."
Hepla casts Detect Magic. The only magic she detects in inside the henge, but that's not surprising; it's a GATE to the Plane of Faerie!
Berenn checks for tracks, but finds none, only the tracks of the troll army.
Once the party gets the fire under control, something not too difficult for their spellcasters, especially with Hepla's wand, the rest can then search the ruins. A careful check reveals that there are not even any burned bodies. The people clearly left before this happened.
[Emyn OOC: You realize for once, one of my characters is actually trying to extinguish a fire rather than start one. Treasure this moment...always.]
"What now?" Thorgrim says. "Return to Hommlet?" He says a prayer for the dead, hoping they had a chance to at least die in battle.
"With no trace of these people to be found," says Emyn, clearly frustrated, "we can do little more than exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this atrocity. I swear by Trithereon that their lives shall be repaid tenfold in the blood of those who did these foul deeds. We must commit ourselves to investigating who put Skalmad up to this and destroy him or her utterly and forever."
"Likely a Fomorian or a greater Dark Fey," says Rakk, not looking encouraged. "And such leave the Summerland but rarely. So we'd need ta go there and, there, their powers are stronger. We would need a lot more preparation than we have available now."
"Rakk," says Emyn, calming down. "I can be patient. Vengeance need not be immediate but it must be most thorough. I am prepared to wait. If need be, I will bring an entire cadre of my brethren down upon them."
Hepla tries to scry the townsfolk she knows, but gets nothing. "We were told that the Moon door will not open for three weeks," she says. "Should we wait and search there?"
"Aye, the people are the important part, here," says Thorgrim. "They seem ta have vanished. The only likely way ta ma mind is the Gate. No idea how, but I'd wish ta find out."
Isilme fully rests, then meets everyone who decides to join her at the appointed place that midnight. She unrolls an ancient scroll and chants in ancient elvish. She is casting the "gate" spell in an attempt to energize the fey portal.
"Lady Ellistrae, render us aid and energize this portal that we may pass into the land of the fey."
Isilme uses her scroll of Gate, and with it she successfully opens the Moon Door. Cautiously, except for Hepla who seems giddy with excitement, the party then enters.....
They end up in the land of the Fey. It is what you expect, with incredibly verdant field, abundant woods, etc.. What you don't expect is the massive city/fortress in the distance.
"This is indeed a beautiful realm," says Emyn, standing there awestruck. "We should make haste to see if the townsfolk made it here."
Vaddara hurries along unprompted. The view in the distance reminds her of home, just a lot green'er. "Hurry up folks, move like you're glad to be out of the swamps!"
Glancing back, you see the Fey side of the Moon Door Portal. A strangely wild version of the same portal on the island.
As you turn back, you find you are surrounded by eladrin. They look like elves, but with a much more noble, older, and powerful look. Further, their pearly, opalescent eyes and the subtle radiant aura surrounding them reveals their true nature. One stands before the others, armored in a type of armor never seen to any (except Isilme, who has seen one set of it before).
"Who are you?" he says, in a melodic, yet simultaneously monotone voice that doesn't seem real. "How come you through the Moon Door?"
Rakk clenches both hands and pressing them together bows slightly. He has been to the lands of the Faerie before, and he gives the ancient giantish greeting of friendship.
"Please pardon our intrusion into your lands, fair Eladrin," says Emyn quickly. "We were working with Rualiss to try and defeat the evil Skalmad and his army. I am afraid we were only partly successful. We killed Skalmad but he disappeared somewhere. We also destroyed the throne he and his foul ilk were using to cross between realms. Sadly, there was a price to pay. The town Rualiss was protecting was destroyed by an army of giants and trolls and dark fey. We're seeking what might have happened to the townsfolk for they are all missing and we cannot find them through normal or magical means. We were hoping we might be able to find them here."
"Rualiss was not protecting the town," he says, frowning. "She protected the Moon Door itself." He looks around at the other Eladrin, all of whom lower their weapons...slightly.
"She indeed was protecting it as well," replies Emyn, not noticing that everyone else is standing silently. "Butt despite our and her best efforts, the trolls managed to sabotage it somehow. We needed to use a scroll to come here. We were hoping she and the others might have come to this realm. She has asked us to assist in your struggle to stem the tide of evil both in our realm and in the Feywild. How fares your war?"
"The Moon Door wasn't damaged, human," he says. "It is merely closed." Despite their stern visage, a couple of the other eladrin cannot help but chuckle at Emyn's clear ignorance. A glance from their leaders stops them. He then looks back at the party. "Come with me," he says, "Commander Dyynnd will wish to speak with you." He then points towards the city, obviously intending you head that way.
Everyone follows, saying nothing. Thorgrim follows, but remains alert for threats from these elves. He remembers well the "hospitality" he was shown by the elves of Celene.
You are taken towards the city, and when you get closer you find a camp set up beyond the walls. There are hundreds of multi-colored tents scattered about, with lots of people milling around. As you approach, you recognize the people of the town, or at least some of them. The people seem unhurt. When they see you a murmur ripples through them. Shortly, Mayor Kelana appears, bustling through the people now starting to crowd around you.
"My friends," she says. "You have returned." She gives a slight bow, motioning the people to be silent.
Hepla says, "I am sorry your honor. We could not get back in time to save your town. We put out the fires as best we could then came looking to see if you escaped here. You have."
"We defeated Skaldag in battle," Thorgrim says, "And thought we had slain him, but we did not." He shakes his head and continues. "His 'corpse' vanished before our eyes, and we have reason to believe he may be alive and trapped on this plane, or the dark side of it. I admit, I do not understand how such things work." He looks at Isilme, who just smiles, before going on. "We discovered his Throne allowed transport both to and from the Feywild, and so we destroyed it--it exists no more. Obviously, we know now that mayhap we should have done this from the other side, this side, but there was no guarantee we could find our way back and coule have trapped ourselves there with him. It is our hope that this is exactly the difficulty Skaldag now faces..."
Thorgrim takes out his brandy flask as he finishes. "But there's no guarantee of that. We thought it best to see if we could beat time back to town and help with the attack we knew you faced. We could not."
Thorgrim takes a long gulp from his flask of brandy, and hands it to Gotrek. "Finish it," he says.
The mayor nods to Hepla and Thorgrim. "After you left, Rualiss offered the townsfolk sanctuary here. She opened the Moon Door and brought the women and children through. Bax and the militia stayed behind to defend the town. From what you say, I take it they failed...." Her voice isn't exactly a question, and she seems genuinely sad. "However, it seems you have succeeded in defeating the plans of this self-styled King of the Trolls, this Skalmad or whatever he calls himself."
"Unfortunately we were unable to recover any bodies, so the militia's fate remains unknown. We were hoping to find them here among your refugees. The throne was destroyed and Skalmad is trapped in the Feydark."
"You destroyed the Throne of Vargan?" interrupts the eladrin commander who brought you here.
"Our mighty warrior Rakk destroyed the throne, "Hepla says then bows her head again, "if I am not too bold as to say."
The commander hurriedly leaves, while the Mayor says a prayer to the god for those who lost their lives.
"He seemed perturbed," whispers Thorgrim to Isilme. "I hope we didn't cause trouble."
Emyn also says, "We did bring some captives along with us who we liberated from the trolls. I do not know if they are of your people but I hope you will welcome them."
They are. They turn out to have been people who were captured from the outlying areas, primarily that northern penninsula which juts into the swamp. There is a lot of relief that they are back.
The eladrin commander returns, along with Rualiss and another female Eladrin.
Rualiss looks shocked when she sees you, but smiles and nods. She starts to speak, but the new eladrin woman speaks first. "Thank you commander Edrathior," she says. "That will be all."
The commander nods, then heads back the way you all came. The woman stands before you all, taking in the party. "I am Denneth Starfeon," she says. "Lord Comander of Celduilon," she twists a bit to indicate the Eladrin city beyond the walls. "You shall tell me all you know of this Skalmad," she adds, "and the Throne of Vard."
The party tells her their tale, and a few more eladrin gather around to hear.
"And don't forget the Eye of Balor," says Elrae. "We never recovered it."
"The Eye of Balor is indeed a potent magic," says Denneth, "but here it is but a bauble. With the destruction of the throne, the portal is forever closed. The fomorians will likely rage over the disruption of their plans, and it will likely not go well for this 'troll king.' I daresay you will be deviled by him no longer."
"Can we now visit the city?" asks Hepla, looking like a child about to receive a present. "Wow!"
The eladrin shakes her head. "No, and it is not a city but a fortress. You will be left beyond the walls, with the other townsfolk."
"Darn," says Hepla, looking dejected. "I was looking forward to seeing it, and I had hopped that there would be a shop I could visit. Darn. Its pretty to look at, at least."
Emyns stands proudly before her, surprising her just a bit. Berenn and Isilme do simultaneous facepalms as the paladin speaks. "Milady, as you can likely tell, I am an Avenger of Trithereon. I have sworn to Trithereon that I shall aid you in your fight in whatever way I can. If there is something I can do beyond what I and my companions have already done, I stand at your disposal. The actions of the dark fey and their allies cannot be forgivan and must be avenged," says Emyn in an extremely respectful but urgent tone.
"If you rush around the cosmos righting everyone wrong," says Rualiss with a slight laugh and smile, "you will be one busy knight. This evil is put to rest, for now. It is time for you to do the same."
"Yes, milady," he replies, glancing back her. "I only wish I could have helped more. If ever you need me again, I will stand at your service. You need only send word to the Heroes of Hommlett and I will come," pledges Emyn.
He then looks back to the Eladrin commander. , "Commander, it occurs to me that these dark fey likely have more allies in our world. Might you or your people have information you might share with us so we can remove them as a threat, please?"
"You can never remove the threat of the dark fey," says Denneth. "We are here to protect the Realm of Faerie from your realm. Never forget that from your limited perspective there is no "good" fey. We are just fey. Our ways are not your ways. Our magic is not your magic. Rualiss should never have brought your people here. They shall be returned." Her tones is firm and emotionless. "You shall be returned. You are not invited to return, for you do not belong here."
Rakk laughs, a low, rumbling laugh like a distant landslide.
Hepla digs around in her stuff and takes out 1000 GP. She gives it to the mayor. "Something to help with the rebuilding of your town."
The mayor takes it, leaning close to Hepla. "Not too friendly, are they?" she whispers.
"I am sure they have reason to mistrust people of our realm," whispers Hepla, just loud enough that the Eladrin can hear. "But they did allow your peole to rest here when they were in danger."
"Only because Rualiss opened the Moon Door for us," she replies. "Otherwise we would all be dead." She glances over at Rualiss and the Lord Commander. "For that she is to be punished."
"**** faeries," mutters Elrae, not surprised.
Hepla asks if she can pick some herbs and flowers while here. If yes she starts collecting as many different types as she can find. "It looks like I may never get this chance again. Even mom has never been here. She will enjoy working with these. Grandma will like them also. Can any of them be added to a fermenting vat?"
The Eladrin look at Hepla. "And that is why you do not belong," says Rualiss sadly.
"We wonder if you belong as well," says Denneth, trailing off as the implications of her comment set into Rualiss.
"I am sorry if I offended your laws but that is why I asked first," replies Hepla, not understanding.
"The so-called 'hospitality of elves' never fails to substantiate my opinion," Thorgrim says. To Isilme, he whispers, "I am beginning to think the Drow are the best among them, as the best among them is Drow."
"What punishment?" he asks aloud.
"Nay, Hepla, is'nt their laws," says Rakk calmly. "They can't grant what you want. As my mother does, you must ask the spirit of the herb if it wishes to work with you, and which part of its being does it desire you use. Use your witch side and commune with it. Here, that side is stronger."
Rakk then looks to the Eladrin, a strange bit of sadness visible in his stone-like visage.
"Aye, I don't belong. I belong nowhere at all. Neither here, nor there. Neither with humans or giants. There are none like me. I walk the lines between. Oberon and Baba Yaga both told me, long ago. I don't need you to tell me that."
"Thank you Rakk, and you belong with us," says Hepla, taking his massive hand in hers. She then turns back to the Eladrin. "May I ask your herbs and flowers if they will come with me?" Hepla asks.
"Let's get out of here!" mutters Gotrek.
In Dwarvish, Thorgrim responds: "Let's see what's going down, first. We may best leave with the townsfolk, and Rualiss may wish to join. I aim to give her the choice." He unconsciously fingers his warhammer, as he resists the urge to draw Souldrinker. He stops, and rests easy. "We wait." Thorgrim gains eye contact with Elrae and nods, purposefully, letting him know his own sentiments echo what surely must be Elrae's.
Emyn, taken aback by the eladrin's overbearing nature responds by chiding the leader. "I know not what you laws are milady but it does seem to me that you are goodly. What does your ethos say of thanking those who have aided you at great risk to themselves when asked to do so by an eladrin? We have all fought for your cause and Rakk in a single blow and with much self-sacrifice has either given you a great advantage in your conflict or he has at least returned balance to it when you were losing ground by destroying the Throne of Vard. Surely such service deserves better treatment than what we, and especially Rakk, are receiving now."
"Emyn! Silence!" warns Thorgrim.
"The answer to unfair and oppressive treatment is never silence," he responds passionately.
Thorgrim looks at Hepla for help.
"Emyn, dear," she quickly answers, moving over to him and calming him too. "We have not been treated with disrespect. Our appearance has caught them by surprise. Give them a chance."
"I would suggest patience as well," replies Berenn, using his most noble-like manners. "We are visitors here and don't know their ways. If the rolls were reversed, we would probably feel the same as they do."
Emyn stop fuming, and the party remains silent. They are then asked to wait, and Hepla finds that she can go get some herbs. Following the guidelines she heard from Rakk, it doesn't seem a problem. She finds a couple weird forms of mushrooms, as well as about 4 more herbs. She has NO IDEA what any of them are, and figures it's probably better not to ask.....
[DM OOC: I'll figure them out later!]
Meanwhile, the Eladrin, other than Rualiss, seem mostly devoid of emotion as they listen to the party. You see that they clearly operate on a level beyond that of the mortal world. Even the elves, possibly the descendents of the Eladrin if some stories are to be believed, seem downright frolicy and emotional in comparison.
Isilme who has been intentionally quiet until now, walks over and addresses the eladrin leadership and Rualiss. "I understand the importance you place upon protecting this realm, and greater than them all, I understand how those in the outside world can treat you with cruelty and not show reverence or respect due to the nature of this place. But all your guardian did was allow these humans to retreat from imminent death, as I am sure you would not be denied if those of the feydark overran your fortress. This kindness will live on in the tales of these humans, long after those standing here have passed on. You have ignited a reverence and respect for the Eladrin that will never die so long as the legends are told, and may serve to protect the sanctity of this place into the ages to a greater degree than even your guardian of the gate."
The eladrin look out at all the humans gathered around, for none have left the immediate area. They see the genuine respect and gratefulness on their features, and the wondrous smiles of the children. They look at each other, then back at Isilme.
"She is right, you know," says Rualiss. "Perhaps I broke our laws and my orders, but are not some things worth it?"
A tear forms in the cold, hard eye of the Lord Commander, who wipes it away. She looks down at her hand, then wipes the tear off on her armor.
Emyn is about to speak, but then holds his tongue as Isilme continues.
"Lord Commander, the law must be tempered with compassion and mercy, lest it be used as a weapon to cut beyond its originators intent." She pauses and says, "I myself showed compassion in the feydark for one of your people. Imprisoned and tortured by the dark Fey, then left to die tormented in the darkness. I have brought the body of one of your warriors home at last, to rest in peace."
She takes out her hand size chest and enlarges it to gently remove the body of the slain eladrin and place it at the commanders feet.
They don't know that eladrin, but they appreciate her doing that. "It's no good to leave somebody in the hands of the fomorians, or worse," says the Commander. "We will see to him," she adds. "You have gained favor with the Eladrin this day."
"Rualiss," says Isilme, looking at the Eladrin druid. "Should you be banished for a time you are welcome to stay in my forests, they are touched by Arvendor itself and may give you some comfort."
"F'n F" Elrae mutters to himself. "Ahem, now let me explain my story to you sir. Soon after I was married to my lovely bride after becoming one of the Heroes of Hommlet, we encountered a group of fey fighting over Shalandalan original statue. I parlayed for peace, kindness and compromise and was rewarded with the theft of my prized possession, my wedding ring, a ring that kept me warm when away from the embrace of my wife. I did nothing to deserve such injustice other than to have a loose associate with a pyromanic known as Vestron. Anyway if you come across a group of pixies that stole my wedding ring, an ebony fly, and an amulet of the planes, I would very much like to have them back."
The eladrin look at themselves for a moment, then laugh. "Be thankful that's all you lost," one says.
[DM OOC: The eladrin outpost here is to guard the Moon Door. They aren't going to let you wander off through the Plane of Faerie, since their whole purpose here is to prevent exactly that. You can, however, remain here and rest. You will be returned back through the Moon Door along with the townsfolk.]
"I've had enough of this hole," says Elrae, clearly upset. "I wish there was another way out of here. Three weeks with these ungrateful creeps is way too long. Soon we'll be wearing rainbow suspenders and singing fa la la la la and skipping through the forest."
[DM OOC: The eladrin have nothing but negative reactions. I couldn't have been more clear on that. They are UBER-haughty elves, so to speak. So all the normal attitudes that make elves difficult, the eladrin have in spades. Add to that these are the militaristic eladrin; they are even unyielding. So, you will never get anywhere with them. Isilme returning the body of one of their own simply brought them around to a "neutral" attitude, saving you guys from more issues. Though it may seem you aren't getting anywhere with them, you have.]
About a week before you are to return home (to Redlee Manor through the Moon Door that is) there is a loud commotion. People can hear music, playing loud from the nearby forest and growing closer. Soon, a handful of faeries fly from the forest. The flit around, and those which come closer are recognizable as pixies and sprites. They alight on tree branches, bushes, tents, etc.,
They are soon followed by many more, along with hundreds, maybe thousands, playing music and dancing. One flies above the rest, singing a beautiful song which captivate everyone, especially Elrae.
When the song ends, she flies down and lands atop Rakk's shoulder. When he looks at her, he recognizes her. She is the once-wingless pixie which they rescued in the Rushmoors. The pixie is named Alii Aithene Starshine. You learn that after she made it back through the Moon Door, she was brought before the Seelie Court to report her findings. Afterwards Titania, Queen of the Faeries, healed her and granted her new wings. She has since returned to give thanks to the party for saving her life.
Isilme listens intently to the songs of the fey, hoping to mimic such beautiful music herself at a later time. In fact if she has the opportunity she will spend time with them during the week learning their songs. She also expresses to the the once wingless fairy she is glad she had made it home and had been granted her wings back.
There is a sign of a pleasant smile from Gotrek for a second, as he listens to the faeries sing. He then goes back to scowling.
When you head through the Moon Door at the end of the week, you find the town just a burned rubble. Though the fires were extinquished, much damage was already done. Still, it is just a town. It can be rebuilt. Also there is a large force of Keoish soldiery. They marched to the area, reaching it only after the events you witnessed. They will stay and see to the safety of the townsfolk as the work of rebuilding now begins.
Earthday, 6th of Wealsun - Low Summer (582 CY)
The party returned back to the ruins of Redlee Manor on Godsday, 4th of Wealsun. Massive winds, beyond anything they had ever experienced, were blowing from the south at hurricane strength. These winds effectively finished off the town, as the half-burnt structures could not withstand the storm. Nearly everything was simply wiped clean, the debris scattered to the winds.
The soldiers of Keoland hunkered down as best they could, and they tell you that these winds have blown for two days. It sounds like a great hurricane moved north from the Azure Sea, scouring the land as it made its way up the Sheldomar Valley. There has been nothing to do but stay down and wait.
The next day things let up, with gusts over 70, and the following day all the winds basically stop. The keolanders send scouts north towards the Rushmoors, but they return with no news. It seems the trolls have indeed scattered back to their holes, hopefully forever. The party buys some horses from the soldiers, at far above normal cost. They then prepare to say their goodbyes and begin the journey home.
The temp is now much higher, with highs of 87 and lows of 63. It is much more comfortable to travel, and the partly cloudy skies block the worst of the sun. The roads are still pretty wet from the storm, but the horses don't have much trouble.
The party begins the trek home, taking the northern route this time, planning to go around the Lortmills to the north. Rakk decides to stay here and assist the people rebuild.
"I am sorry to see you go Rakk," says Emyn. "I hope your new sword will slay many trolls. If you ever need my help, you need but ask."
Hepla gives him a hug and kiss, and the party all tells him that he forever has a home with them.
The party then departs, beginning their long journey home.
That's it for the Trolls of the Rushmoors. The adventure grew out of a move on the part of the party towards doing the GDQ series. They got a bit sidetracked here, and I tweaked a 3rd ed module, King of the Trollhaut Warrens. I made its map fit into the Rushmoors, and just adjusted all the history and such to work with Greyhawk, Vecna, etc. I think it all went well.
Afterwards, they decided they were NOT ready to do the GDQ series, not because they were not powerful enough, but because they said I was too hard a DM. Really? ok!
So, they decided to return to Hommlet, lick their wounds, and then figure things out. You can follow their adventures in the following thread:
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