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    The Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth - Ragnar (and Lanthorn!) style
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:50 am  
    The Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth - Ragnar (and Lanthorn!) style

    So, the Heroes of Hommlet have their next mission, and that is to seek the Horn of Iggwilv and the Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth. The expedition from Veluna and Furyondy that disappeared a couple months ago, has not been heard from nor could they be scried by any means. Fearing the Iuzians that had earlier penetrated the border of Veluna, also on their way to the Yatils, the heroes have been tasked with their mission.

    They must find the Lost Expedition (for which I used Lanthorn's own version as the foundation for mine!). Then they must find these Lost Caverns. Finally, they must gain whatever of Iggwilv's treasures remain, and keep them from the hands of the Old One.

    Cast of Characters:

    Sir Berenn Silverwood: Half-elven Cleric-Ranger (8th level/8th level)
    Elrae: Human Bard (11th level)
    Emyn Frel: Paladin (Avenger of Trithereon) (9th level)
    Gotrek: Dwarven Battlerager (9th level)
    Isilme: Elven Bladesigner(Battledancer)/Song Mage (8th level/9th level)
    Noot: Half-elf Thief (11th level)
    Thorgrim Duerkas: Dwarven Fighter/Priest (Crusader) (8th level/8th level)
    Sir Godwynn: Human Paladin of Rao (9th level)

    Part 1 - Meeting at Whitehale

    Starday, 1sts of Richfest (582 CY)
    It's a much cooler day, not quite 80* as a strong northerly wind brings cool air from the north. But the sky is clear, with only some very high wispy clouds racing by far above. The party makes their final preparations, as priests of St. Cuthbert and Rao gather to see you off. A large combined ceremony is held, where they jointly call upon the blessings of both deities that your mission to find their missing compatriots may be successful.

    Noot yawns and joins up with the party. Sir Godwynn joins them on their expedition, as Vaddara returned to Hommlet. Hepla plans to stay with Emyn until they reach Highfolk, at least.

    It should take a couple of days to get to Whitehale, mostly through wooded hills. From there it's a couple more days, maybe three, to Highfolk. You should get there by the end of the Richfest, baring any problems.

    Emyn sits in his saddle but a tear does course down his cheek with the knowledge that he must part with his beloved and their unborn child. He can tell the others noticed but he doesn't care. He is among friends.

    "Let us be off. What should we expect to face in the Yatils?"

    "We'll have to be as vigilant as ever, or more so, as our numbers are significantly reduced," Thorgrim says, taking stock of the party. "Still, good to be on the road again. I wasn't looking forward to returning to Hommlet so soon after our last respite. Time enough for rest in the grave."

    Berenn remains quiet and rides in the middle of the pack.

    Sunday, 2nd of Richfest (582 CY)
    You travel through the day, the well-maintained and paved road gradually leading through rolling plains and by nightfall into forested hills. There are many villages [they aren't on the map], and the travel is rather uneventful. [BTW, everyone needs to remove 250gp for their stay in Mitrik. That was an expensive inn, and you probably ate and drank enough elsewhere to make that!] There are small inns for travelers, and you can stay in them, though it's nice out, only getting down to 56* for a low. You can comfortably stay outside with a nice fire.

    The next day the party reaches the town of Eddystone, situated in a lush valley. There is a nice inn there, and the party spends the night again. There is a large celebration going on, as this is the second day of Richfest. You notice that both moons are nearly full.

    "We would best stay here tonight," says Emyn. "It would be a terrible thing if Sir Godwyn were to become a wereboar through some attack in the night."

    Moonday, 3rd of Richfest
    The party spends an uneventful night in Eddystone, then continues on the next day. You are told it is a couple days to Whitehale from here. It starts to rain lightly in the afternoon, slowing progress a bit. By evening the party has descend from the hills and entered an area of rolling plains. The road has turned to the north, and to east and west, there are low hills. Far in the distance to the north are rising mountain peaks.

    The party doesn't reach any sizable town by late evening.

    Godsday, 4th of Richfest (582 CY)
    Guess you have nothing to say. You camp, uneventfully, and then continue on in the morning. IT rains a bit in the morning, but very lightly and then stops. It's another beautiful day and you make it Whitehale by the evening.

    Whitehale is the second largest town after Mitrik and is home to the ruling family of Whitehale. The city started out as more of a farmers market then a city. The farmers from the surrounding areas used it as a meeting place to swap goods and to sell crops to visiting merchants. It has grown into a decent sized town which supports many of the finer things in life. It is home to the Knights of Whitehale. A group started by the late Duke Yurik as a quick response force to threats from the Yatils. The Church of Rao has a large temple here and is by far the most common god worshipped in Whitehale. Temples to St. Cuthbert, Heironeous, and general temples to agricultural gods are also found, but they have small followings at the present. This is also the home of 'Slorg’s Cellar' tavern.

    It is Midsummer's Night, with both moons full. The streets are full of revelers, and it seems the entire city is having one big party. You find all but one inn is full, with a large influx of people from the countryside. It is the Orc and the Dog. As you can imagine, it has a weird sign out front of an orc and a dog. It is not a real large place, and you find only two rooms left. They will hold everyone, but they charge 25gp each. They are way overpriced, but this does seem to be the only rooms available.

    Elrae decides that he should pay for his inn by singing.

    Midsummer rain, you and I together
    I'm only dreaming again and I will forever it seems
    Midsummer dawn, kisses in a doorway
    I can't believe they are gone so
    I live our story in dreams

    But baby I always wake up lonely
    Mornings don't comfort me
    Sometimes I think you're only
    A midsummer's night's dream

    I should have know, friends gave me warning
    You had a dream of your own
    Now our midsummer mornings are through
    Follow your star, it will lead you somewhere
    Love is not really so far if in dream
    I can come there to you

    But baby I always wake up lonely
    Mornings don't comfort me
    Sometimes I think you're only
    A midsummer's night's dream

    Noot drops H'sims name, which makes the innkeeper take notice. He gives Noot an ale and a chicken. "Free," he says, bowing and slipping away quickly. While Noot eats, it seems everyone else leaves. Well, Elrae stays, singing away. The crowd really likes him, and the place fills up with people from outside who come in. The innkeeper can hardly keep up with demand!

    At the inn, the others have a nice hot meal, while Elrae sings. The crowd then leads him, quite forcefully, outside where he joins the revelers there. He ends up singing with some other performers in the streets.

    "Hopefully the revelers will keep Elrae," says Berenn, "but at least I will able to digest my meal this evening without a bad case of indigestion."

    "Berenn, if your ears are somehow connected to your stomach, I fear you have a much more serious problem than a lack of musical appreciation," jests Emyn.

    Meanwhile the others ride out, determined to camp outside the walls rather than pay for the rooms, but find the guards at the gates stop them. They warn them that it's not a safe night to be out, and he says a prayer against werewolves as he looks up at the full moons.

    After some grumbling, the party returns to the inn to secure the rooms. Sir Godwynn hears a familiar voice call him.

    "So, you finally left Mitrik, eh Godwynn?"

    He turns and sees and old comrade, another knight of the Temple Militant and leader of the Knights here in Whitehall, Sir Ellard Rojan.

    Also known as the Knight Imperious or the Avenger, Sir Ellard Rojan is arguably the most powerful man in the diocese outside of Mitrik. He is commander of the Knights of Whitehale as well as a member of the Knights of Veluna. A man of common birth and simple means, Ellard is a champion of the common man. Ellard is the type of man that sees the world in very black and white terms.

    Of course, he is not armored as his picture shows, as you cannot wear armor in a city, but carries a club. He looks around at Sir Godwynn's companions, then nods. "Seems you've finally decided to take the road again, and with quite an interesting group," he adds.

    With him are Berenn, Emyn, Gotrek, and Isilme. Isilme flies back to the inn, while Sir Ellard watches her for a moment.

    "An elf wizard?" he asks?

    Sir Godwynn introduces his companions Sir Ellard Rojan and he to them in a manner befitting his and their rank. "You would find our new mission quite agreeable my friend. The leaders of our order as well as the common folk in the region all benefit from our success. And yes, we have put our faith and trust in the elf wizard as well. We will likely stand against many dark magic trials before we complete our mission"

    Sir Ellard nods, shaking Sir Godwynn's hand. "Well met, my friend," he says. "It has been a long time." He looks around at the group, nodding with interest. "Please, retire to the Temple where we may discuss this mission of yours." He looks again at Emyn, bowing slightly. "You are more than welcome, Avenger," he says, clearly recognizing Emyn's symbols and rank. "We have tread many a similar path," he adds, "shedding our blood in common cause. Please, accept the hospitality of the Temple Militant."

    Emyn takes a deep breath and nods to Sir Ellard. "Sir Ellard. Thank you for your welcome. The Templar Militant are known among my brethren as honourable men and women who share a good many of our tenets. I am pleased to meet you. We are bound for the Yatils. Do you have much experience there?"

    The party (assuming NOT Elrae and Noot, but maybe others who wish to go) may retire with Sir Ellard to the Temple Militant. The Church of Rao occupies the center of the town, dominating the main square. The Temple Militant here is actually an adjacent building. Entering the place, you find that there are 10 other knights here, along with squires and some other types. As noted, Sir Ellard is commander of the Temple Militant here. He is also a Knight of Veluna (no they aren't the same thing!).

    In the plaza he meets another couple people, and invites them to join you. They are Bishop Roland Otjieg and the Lady Clariece Landis. I'll describe each, so assume you sit down and learn the following through introductions:

    Bishop Otjieg

    Bishop Roland has served as the representative from the College of Bishops to the diocese of Whitehale for over 30 years now. A white haired man in his early 60’s, the bishop still strikes a very imposing figure. He adventured with Clariece’s father, Yurik, in his younger years and has always been a close friend and supporter of the family. The bishop is a very wise man and is known for his acts of kindness and charity.

    Lady Clariece Landis

    The Lady Clariece is the daughter of Lord Yurik of Whitehale, Lord of this area. One of the first things noteworthy about Clariece is that she is a half-elf. Her mother was an High Elf from the Vesve whom her father married in his younger days, when he adventured alongside Bishop Roland. She died many years ago, and Clariece's father trained her in the martial arts so she would be able to defend herself, as her mother could not. Clariece was the first woman accepted into the Knights of Veluna. She is a very fiery lady who knows what she wants and is not shy about getting it done. She is on very good terms with Bishop Roland, whom she has known for her entire life.

    "M'lady, Bishop, we are well met," says Thorgrim. "I am Thorgrim Duerkas, priest of Clanggedin. This is our illustrious leader, Berenn the Parsimonious. Meet also my Dwarf friend Gotrek, Emyn Frel, Avenger of Tritheron, and Isilme, our Voice of Reason."

    When Thorgrim is finished with his introduction, Berenn delivers a rather subtle, but sharp elbow to an exposed part of his head.

    "Your excellency and lady, I am Sir Berenn Silverwood, Knight Commander of the Watchlands and loyal servant of the Viscount of Verbobonc." and Berenn bows.

    Sir Godwynn knows the Bishop, but Lady Clairiece is new to him, and he bows gracefully to her. Gotrek bows. He stumbles slightly. He is shocked he finds the half-elf attractive. Stunning, actually. He cannot speak. Thorgrim looks at Gotrek, and raises an eyebrow. He steps back and returns to silence, his face impassive. He feels his belt pouch for the familiar bulges of its contents.

    There isn't really a lot of news from the region lately. They know of the Iuzians that came by; in fact, it was just north of here that the skirmish with border forces occurred. However, that is the first interesting thing to happen in some time. They remember the expedition that was sent out after them.

    "The actually came through Whitehall on their way to Highfolk," says Bishop Otjieg.

    "A large and quite capable group they were, too," adds Sir Ellard. "I was disappointed that I could not join them, but the Temple Militant did not agree with my assessment." He shows a frustrated and concerned look, staring at nothing for a moment as if considering something else.

    "They will be fine, Ellard," says Lady Clariece, her voice soft, but firm with courage. "They were ably led by Captain Fallroyce and Lt. Thatcher, both of whom I fought beside in the Vesve. No finer warriors can be found." she adds.

    "And Friar Velestes is as wise as they come," says Bishop Otjieg. There is an awkward silence before he adds, "Has there been any word?" [They don't know about your mission yet, btw.]

    "We are planning an expedition into the "Horn of Iggwilv" to see what has happened to the expedition sent by Veluna and Furyondy," says Berenn. "We are hoping to learn the location of the Crook of Rao, which the agents of Iuz are actively seeking."

    Both the Bishop and Sir Ellard seem shocked by that info. They look at each other, then the bishop asks, "Why would they be seeking the Crook of Rao?"

    "There has never been any indication of it being in the mountains," says Sir Ellard.

    Berenn then explains what happened in the south, at the monastery in the Lorridges. They are further shocked, and you see Sir Ellard's fists tighten on his chair. He is a strong, fierce man, and you see true rage building up within him. "This must be answered," he says. "Such actions cannot go unavenged."

    Lady Clariece seems alarmed by Sir Ellard's outburst. She starts to say something, but the Bishop speaks first. He puts a hand on his arm calming him. "The best revenge," he says, "is to be unlike he who committed the injury."

    Sir Ellard snorts, pulls his arm away, stands up, and slams his goblet down on the table. "And that is why we exist," he almost shouts back. "The Temple Militant does what the Church cannot." He looks at the Bishop, his face showing sadness, yes, but also firm resolve. "I know, love has its place, but so does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge."

    Gotrek grunts in assessment, as he gazes at the lovely Lady Clariece. He grooms his beard a bit, and she winks at him, a sly smile on her face. She then turns to Sir Ellard. "You know I agree with you," she says, "but we must be wary of the Old One. Rushing off half-cocked is a sure way to get dead when dealing with Him and him minions."

    To your surprise, Sir Ellard seems to listen closely to her. He considers her words, then sighs. "You are right, of course." He sits, picking up his goblet and looking at the spilled wine regretfully. He then speaks to Berenn. "You are in good company," he says, glancing at Sir Godwynn. "We have fought together, and a more worthy man you cannot find. Would that I were going with you, but I must travel to Littleberg after Richfest. Baron Jemian is an old friend and has expressed concerns regarding the north. He would have my council, thus I cannot join you."

    "Your place is here, commander," says the Bishop, "regardless."

    Sir Ellard sighs again. "Duty," he says, draining his cup. "At times it is heavy as a mountain."

    Lady Clariece smiles at him, trying to ease his mind. "You cannot carry the world on your shoulders, Ellard," she says with a slight laugh. "Broad as they may be."

    He smiles back, then pours more wine, not speaking.

    "Not that I doubted Sir Godwynn for a moment," replies Berenn, also taking some more wine, "but an endorsement from a man such as yourself is very reassuring Sir Ellard. There is no doubt the agents of the Old One must never get their hands on the Crook and we intended to ensure they never do and if possible, return it to a place of safety."

    After a short, almost awkward, pause, Lady Clariece asks, "So, Master dwarves," looking at Gotrek and Thorgrim. "How do you like the wine? It is Isinon, from the Vale of Highfolk."

    "It is good," replies Thorgrim. "I haven't enjoyed the likes of it since the Celene."

    Emyn asks Sir Ellard, "Sir, what might we expect for opposition in the Yatils? What are the common dangers? Are there any friendly groups there that might offer us assistance if needed?"

    "These great mountains are nearly impassable for many leagues west and south of Lake Quag," says Sir Ellard. "Numerous orcs, ogres, giants, trolls, and bestial monsters dwell there, even dragons.

    "Though less than in the mountains to the south," adds Lady Clariece.

    "True," he agrees. "There are some hardy gnomes and dwarves there, and human mountaineers who fiercely defend their mines and highland territories as the Yatils are quite rich in ore deposits and gems. Carnalion Mountains is a smaller spur, stretching east and dividing Veluna from the Vale. There are, unfortunately, many humanoids which dwell in deep caves at the heart of the spur, though it is partrolled regularly to keep them in check. Thus, there are no roads through the mountains, and all traffic goes around them. "

    "And of course, the Yatils have a fair body of "lost magical treasure" stories," says Lady Clariece.

    "Most of which are unreliable tales," cautions the Bishop.

    "Let us hope that is true," says Sir Ellard. "I would not want to see the Old One find any of His Mother's lost troves."

    The journey around should end up taking three days. "You will arrive just after Richfest," says Bishop Otjieg.

    "Thank you. I think we will try to avoid the Old One if we can. The last time this group met him, only the direct intervention of St. Cuthbert prevented their destruction. I do hope that we encouter those who caused the slaughter of the monastery though. I have been granted a pursuit of vengeance by Trithereon on one of their number. His name is Keak. There was also another called Obmi. Have you heard of either before or their associates?"

    The men shake their heads, though you note that Lady Clariece's face seems to tighten.

    "Milady, you seem ill at ease with me questions. I hope I have not offended you," says Emyn.

    "Lady Clariece?" asks Thorgrim.

    She smiles, "No, of course not," she says. "It is just...I too know of this Keak." She lets that set in, before continuing. "His real name is Keakernin Nelathal, and he comes from Highfolk. I have met him before."

    "You don't seem to think kindly of him," Gotrek pauses, "mylady." He looks down to the ground, disgusted with himself. He recomposes himself, then adds, "Perhaps you would be willing to help us in our travels?" Gotrek silently berates himself for acting like a dwarven guild serf.

    "Tell us," Thorgrim says. "Difficult as it may be, anything we learn could be used to our advantage." Thorgrim looks at how Gotrek is acting and suppresses a chuckle.

    "Keakernin Nelathal also borrowed some personal property of mine," Berenn says dryly. "So if there is some way of locating him, it would be nice if I could provide him with the opportunity to return it to me."

    "Don't worry Berenn," says Emyn grimly. "I'll get you the bow back once I cleave his head from his shoulders."

    "You are not the only one that owes that one," says Lady Clariece sadly. She then tells her tale.

    "Night had fallen over the sprawling fastness of the Vesve Forest once again. The company of mixed humanoids, orcs and gnolls, pressed on in the darkness. The few wild elves within their ranks keeping them all organized. Spellcasters fley ahead in the treetops to make certain that no enemy lay in wait for the rest of the band. Fully a score had such duty, likewise flying as flank protection. In the center of the whole group was their leader Keak, well protected by tough humanoids. They had destroyed a sylvan elf village three days before, murdering every last one, including women and children. The remains were...half eaten." She stumbles a bit as she tells that part, and it's clear it unnerved her.

    "We followed them for two days before catching up. Despite the warband's precautions, yet the elvish company with which I fought successfully ambushed the column, slaying a good number of the elves along with the gnoll rear guard. Alas, tremendous spells drove us off before we could press the ambush. Still, out aim was achieved as the warband turned back to the north, so we fell back and regrouped.

    After the ambush and slaughter of so many of their rear scouts, Keak had directed that the company of gnolls be placed under the command of a half-breed orc who had some small skill at spells of clerical sort and great ability with assassin's weapons. There was also another renegade elf, albeit not much of a spell-binder. Keak saw to it that these two were in motion, up and down the line, frequently. They moved more swiftly now, marching mostly by night and resting during the day. This allowed them to keep a better watch for those who followed and harassed. It also kept the scum too tired to fight amongst themselves at every halt too.

    We swept around, preparing a final ambush before they could escape our lands. The soft thudding of hooves came steadily closer. The forest around the well-used track of packed clay was as silent as a tomb. Now the horses and their riders came into view around a turn in the pathway. A pair of man-orcs rode in front, small arbalests across their laps, lances and swords slung. They wore dirty cloaks of dull brown that failed to conceal the chainmail that was beneath the cloth.

    As tough and vigilant as these half-breeds were, the riders behind were more fearsome in aspect, though smaller in size. A broad and knotty-limbed halforc in steel plate came with a two-handed sword half as big as he, held casually in one hand. Beside him rode a thin-featured elf whose gaunt face matched his thin form perfectly. This elf was old, but not elderly, as it showed in lines and in the eyes that started forth from his narrow face. The robed demi-human smiled and giggled for no apparent reason, and a terrible madness shone forth from his bulging eyes. Behind this ill-matched pair were two more horsed figures, men in armor and bearing many weapons, but they scarcely mattered. Such riders were insignificant in comparison to the evil power of the two who went before.

    We were spread out in an arc around them, covering the flanks as well where we faced the sylvan archers too. Somehow, our ambush was not to be, as they clearly had been alerted to our presence. A volly of arrows took out the lead half-orcs, but all those that targeted the two leaders simply bounced harmlessly away.

    "Killing a few of those sort would be great sport, Keak" said the priest of Iuz, "for they are tough and die hard."

    "Too bad we are pressed for time," the elf cackled.

    While the fights on the flanks devolved into a game of sniping between highly skilled archers, we were completely unprepared for the magical assault from the main column. Lightning bolts flew into our force from at least three sources, and all the while I heard the maniacal laughter of the one called Keak. Before we knew what had happened, half our band was down. Then we heard the sound of heavy steps and looked to see two score gnolls bearing down upon us. Our only spellcaster left threw up a wall of thorns between us, allowing us precious time to gather our dead and wounded and flee before the coming onslaught. By the time we had recovered, Keak and his band were gone into the lands of the Old One.

    They knew everything about us, and had prepared their own ambush to counter ours. Felling only a few orcs and gnolls cost nearly half our company. Yes, we forced their evil warband from our lands, but the cost was high, too high."

    [DM OOC: liberally plagiarized from Artifact of Evil, by EGG]

    A fury sits darkly behind Emyn;s eyes as he hears the lady's recount of the battle, like an ebony fire that burns hotter but lets off no light. Emyn looks at her silently and kneels to pray.

    "Holy Trithereon, Summoner. I pray to thee in thy holy Forking Roads in Arborea. Keakernin Nelathal, an elf of great infamy, has led others to slaughter defenseless monks of Rao in the Lorridges and many innocents in Highfolk. He has shown no mercy to those whose only defense was a stout faith and courage. He has murdered them in their sleep like cattle at a slaughterhouse. My great lord, this can go no further. I pray to thee, grant me your sight so that I may avenge their deaths. Allow me to pursue him so that I might dispense your divine vengeance upon him and those who aided him. Let me be the embodiment of your holy sword Freedom's Tongue. Let me drive through their defenses and strike them in the heart like your holy spear Krelestro and let me bring just vengeance upon their heads like your holy Baton of Retribution. Let me be your vessel."

    "This Keakernin Nelathal has apparently done you a much greater wrong than the one I have suffered," says Berenn. "If the day comes when I cross his path, I will do my best to ensure he is brought before you to face justice ... or at very least ... his head."

    Emyn rises from his knees, his eyes no longer dark. They burn with a fearsome energy and even those not of his faith can feel the divine power pulsing from his body. At first he says nothing and all eyes in the room fall upon him as he reaches his feet.

    "Trithereon has heard my call. His heart beats within me. My hands are his instruments. Keakernin Nelathal lies far to the northeast. I can feel his loathsome presence from here. From the maps I have seen, he must be in the Lands of the Old One. We must lure him out and lay him low. Who will aid me?" he says in a firm deep voice.

    "I have heard of this," says Bishop Otjieg, "but I have never witnessed it."

    Sir Ellard bows formally to Emyn. "Truly the blessing and power of Trithereon flows through you Avenger." He look up, meeting Emyn's gaze. "I do not doubt but that you shall indeed deal out swift retribution to this one."

    Gotrek roars, startling the entire group. As the group steps back in surprise, all goes silent. A whisper is barely heard, from the bowed head of Gotrek, muscles spasming, resisting his anger. "They will pay with blood. By Clangeddin, I swear it."

    The bishop cannot do anything, as his job requires him to stay put. Sir Ellard also has other duties. However, Lady Clariece vows her aid. "I'll stand by ye," she says resolutely. "I have waited years to pay back this wretch."

    Sir Ellard looks concerned for a moment, but then it passes. He knows her mettle, and he simply nods.

    "Perhaps you should tell your father first," says the Bishop.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:39 am  
    Part 2 - The Wererats of Relfren

    Once lodging is settled, Isilme returns to the gate and asks the guards about the lycanthrope problem, and if any of the guards have a first hand tale of what they saw (something like a rat, wolf, etc.), also if the attacks seem to be nightly, certain times, and what was attacked, raided, or taken. (Food driven, thrill of killing or hunt) Seeking to find any sort of pattern and gather as much information as she can.

    [Isilme OOC: You all should take note of this. If there is a lycan problem, it most likely manifest tonight. Isilme will mention it to any of the party she sees. It may be best if the fighters stay near Thorgrim so they can gear up with weapon and armour in the event of an attack. (Portable hole)...or just have everything ready in our rooms and we stand prepared.]

    It's not that there is a lycan problem, they explain, but this night is especially noted for their appearances. So, people stay inside, priests bless homes, etc. That's the other reason the town if so full of revelers. Most of the countryside is empty, as the people have gathered within the walls for safety too, just in case. Basically, they kill two birds with one stone.

    Isilme goes beyond the walls, where she prepares a circle of protection using the powder of Lycanthrope Repellent. She casts a few other protective spells, then uses her scroll to cast Summon Lycanthrope. After doing all that, she summons a wererat.

    It's not quite dark yet when Isilme summons the lycanthrope. It's dusk when she casts her spell, and suddenly a man stands within the protective circle! He is a large, almost fat, man, with a belly that shows he hasn't missed too many meals. He wears a leather jerkin, and a club hangs at his belt. He has on his chest the badge of a constable. He looks around, confused at his new surroundings. She notes that his left hand is bandaged up, and Isilme sees a blood stain seeping through the bandages.

    Isilme goes straight for the charm, singing a song which completely puts the man under her spell. She asks his name, and he looks even more confused, as he doesn't know who's talking to him. "Must be going crazy," he mutters. He then tries to walk off but is stopped by the magical power of the protective circle. He tries again, but cannot pass it.

    Isilme then asks his voice again, and the man looks around. "What's going on?" he says. "I am Constable Bert Camem of Relfren. Who are you?"

    "Your best friend," she says. "Now, come with me." She turns and hurries back to town.

    As the rest of the group leaves the Temple Militant, it is just getting dark. Thus it's a few hours before midnight. They pass through revelers, and Berenn cringes when he hears Elrae singing loudly. He is out in the street, playing his cittern with a group of other musicians and leading a song. About to continue on to the inn, Isilme appears.

    "There is trouble nearby," she says quickly. "I went outside of town on this Midsummer's Eve, and there I attempted a spell I have never yet cast. I summoned a lycanthrope." She then indicates the man behind her. "He appeared."

    "Hi," he says, waving a hand with an embarrassed look. He is a large, almost fat, man, with a belly that shows he hasn't missed too many meals. He wears a leather jerkin, and a club hangs at his belt. He has on his chest the badge of a constable.

    You learn that he is Constable Bert Camem of Relfren, a small village in the hills about a mile outside of town. He didn't believe he was a werecreature, but he couldn't argue with the fact that he was summoned and could not leave Isilme's protective circle. He raises a bandaged hand, and adds. "I was checking out strange noises at the Cheese Factory the other day," he says. "The door was open, but chained up. I stuck my hand in and something bit me. Thought it was a dog, but now...I'm afraid it was something worse."

    He then explains that the village is having a festival tonight, with a special masquerade dance outside, all paid for by the Master of the Cheese Factory himself. "He even hired a carnival troupe to perform for the village. I always thought they looked odd," he says. "Now it seems I know why."

    [DM OOC: BTW, Isilme charm monstered the Constable, just so you know.]

    "We should attend and see if we can prevent harm to these villagers," says Emn.

    Berenn smiles, "It sounds like this Master of Cheese ... a title I though was always reserved for Elrae ... plans to turn your whole village into lycanthropes. This could be rather dangerous considering the full moon, these creatures will be at their strongest."

    Berenn seems to be lost in thought for a minute and then snaps back. "I seem to recall a recent case of lycanthropy being removed if Remove Curse is cast during the full moon before the first change. With your permission Constable, I would like to try to remove the curse from you. I assure you the procedure is painless and you are in no danger from me."

    He srugs, not sure in any case. Berenn says a prayer to St. Cuthbert, calling upon his blessings to cure the Constable. He places his hands on his head, and attempts to Remove the Curse. He feels a dark energy within, an animal energy, fighting against him, but it slowly is pushed away by the warm righteousness of St. Cuthbert. Berenn slumps a bit, for the curse seemed to actually fight back, draining him as well. As he catches his breath, he knows the Curse has been lifted before it could begin.

    The constable looks at Berenn. "Did it work?"

    "The curse was strong," says Berenn, straightening himself back up to his full height and slapping the man on the shoulders. "But the righteous light of St. Cuthbert was stronger. The curse has been removed. You are once again a whole man."

    Gotrek grins. "We best be gettin' ready," he calls back. "Seems it is finally killin' time." He then storms off to the inn.

    Thorgrim looks at the others. "He actually looks happy," he says. "But he's right. We best be getting ready." He then follows along behind him.

    In about 10 minutes, the party emerges once again, ready to go.

    "If they are related to cheese, my guess would be they are were rats," says Emyn. "Those ilk are some of the most diabolical lycnathropes there are, in league with devils, and as crafty as kobolds," warns Emyn.

    "Don't assume too much," Thorgrim says. "I have a few doses of Lycanthrope Repellant remaining in the Hole, but I fear it won't serve our purpose, here. 'Twould serve to identify the Lycans, but then it's a chase through the woods. I think we were better off using our wits." Nevertheless, Thorgrim removes the repellant from the Hole and puts them in his backpack. In the side-pouches for easy retrieval.

    Once ready, the party heads off to the village. It'll take about 10 minutes to get there, following a path that leads towards the hills. As you head for the village, Constable Camem tells you about the village.

    It is a small hamlet, whose people are friendly and welcome the few strangers that come their way. Being off the beaten path a bit, if only a few miles from the Great Western Road, they really see few travelers. Nothing much ever happens in Relfren, and the village continues on as it always has, until recently. A dwarf and his family were killed two weeks ago when their silversmithy was robbed. That was the first time in a generation that anyone has died in Relfren. Right after that the herbalist shop burned to the ground. Though we considered it an accident at the time, now I am not so sure. Right after that the Emerald Moon Cheese Factory, famous throughout the region and the lifeblood of the village, closed down, just days before the festival. A sign on the doors promised something special on the night of the festival.

    "I just thought Grendel was going to give out free cheese or something, but now I suspect something far darker," he says.

    [DM OOC: Yes, Grendel is the name of the owner of the Cheese Factory.]

    "These events are surely linked, as strongly as a steel chain," Thorgrim replies. "The Lycans have stolen your silver and burned your garlic and other herbs...anything that can harm them or thwart them."

    Gotrek growls, obviously not happy with the innocent dwarven family being slain.

    Here's the town. I'm going to ASSUME that Isilme flies along ahead. So, here's a map of the town. I can give you all details, but I'll just tell you some.

    1. Lazy Cat Inn
    2. Residences
    3. Town square (currently full of townsfolk, all wearing masks for the outdoor festival tonight.)
    4. Emerald Moon Cheese Factory
    5. Melte's Tavern
    6. Butcher and Candlemaker
    7. Karen's Bakery
    8. Burned up Herbalist shop
    9. Cloth shop
    10. Burgomaster's house
    11. General Store
    12. Silversmith
    13. Blacksmith
    14. Open ground with Elephant statue (and NOBODY, even the party, has ever seen an elephant!)
    15. Constable's house
    16. Wizard's Tower (though he tells you the wizard is never around.)
    17. Constables Station
    18. Shepherd's Stockyard
    19. Father Theo's House
    20. Church of St. Cuthbert

    Nearly all the townsfolk, including children, are milling about the streets or in the tavern and inn. It's a party!

    BTW, there is one hill, a few hundred feet high, with the village on the side near the top, along a flat area. [I've tweaked the map to fit!]. The area to the right is along a steep part of the hill, while to the left is open and the ground falls away. It's not a cliff, but it is steep. Not sure what else you may want to know before you enter. You guys are coming into town from the south path.

    Isilme and Thorgrim offer to arm the constable, but he declines. "I have arms at my house," he says.

    "Maybe we should just burn the cheese factory," says Emyn as the constable starts to leave. "It is much safer than fighting a horde of wererats."

    "You can't burn the Cheese Factory," he says. "It is the source of the village's prosperity. Without it, the village would be ruined."

    "Let avoid causing any harm to the locals if it can be avoided," says Sir Godwynn, nodding to the Constable.

    Thorgrim restrains Emyn from igniting anything. "I agree with Sir Godwynn and the Constable," he says. Releasing Emyn, he says to the Constable, "Although that factory may have already produced its last. Our group is not known for being either discreet or careful...yet life is more important than gold."

    "Where is the travelling circus that was mentioned?" asks an irritated Emyn. "If I were to suggest a method of action, I would use what lycanthropy powder we have to protect the party. I would then think about using it as a way to find other lycans. If they avoid it at all costs, being touched by it would certainly reveal them for what they are. Maybe it could even be spread by Isilme from the air to protect more villagers, assuming they have not been cursed already. I've not dealt with these creatures in the past and know only what might commonly be known. They hate silver and can change between animal and human form and this is somehow linked with the moon."

    "I think it would tip our hand too soon," Thorgrim says, "Scattering them like vermin. "Perhaps we should be more circumspect, awaiting the climax of the evening's festivities? The Lycans would likely be grouped, but the villagers are a problem. We need to find a way to protect them, by preventing them being herded, or dispersing the Repellant inside the factory." He pauses, deep in though, then continues. "I'm really not sure. A Detect Evil may help, but such spells will surely ensnare others in our net who are neither Lycanthrope nor deserving of death."

    The traveling minstrels are outside playing from a stage set up in the town square, by the cheese factory. They are surrounded by a large crowd of townsfolk, all dancing along with the music.

    I am assuming that nobody has actually entered the village yet, and that only Hepla and Isilme are flying overhead to check things out. Constable Bert wants to go to his house first (area 15) to get his weapons and armor. Maybe you should all go there first.

    The party moves quickly and quietly to the Constable's house first. They aren't noticed, as everyone is having fun and not paying much attention. The constable dons his chainmail, takes up his shield which is very fine and emblazoned with the symbols of St. Cuthbert, and he also has a fine longsword. He tells you that he was a soldier before retiring here, and he knows well how to fight. While he's getting ready, which only takes a few minutes, the party can make plans.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:37 am  
    Part 3 - A Cheesy Adventure!

    "Silver's long gone from this town," says Thorgrim as he gets into his Hole and gets geared up for battle. "Isilme," Thorgrim asks, "How might we best protect the innocent?"

    [Thorgrim ooc: Ragnar, it is my understanding Isilme had stopped by Hommlet before returning to the party? So she got my note? And retrieved the Blacksmith's Hammer? Was trying to finish my trade. Also, never heard word whether those were 10 potions Healing or Extra-healing? I seem to recall regular healing?

    Also, I know we can't get into specifics without checking the lay of the land, but in general was our plan to stop the Were-people before or after everyone gathers, and might not some of the plotters be newly-Turned, and therefore saveable?]

    [DM OOC: They were potions of Healing. All the townsfolk are in the streets or in the inn and tavern drinking. It's a festival!]

    "Is there any way you can use the Lycan repellent on the children? Even if you don't have enough for the adults, protecting the children would be a good start."

    "Well," replies Isilme. "We cured the constable, and I had intended to use his senses to find other lycans." She shakes her head thinking of the wasted charm. "I could try using animal sense to find another wererat, then charm that one to find out plans/or locate others."

    "Wait!" says Thorgrim quickly. "Constable you're right. Just the children, and any adults who huddle with and defend them would be protected, as well. That powder has an effective range well beyond ten feet. Our Alchemist is a genius in his craft." He walks around, getting excited as he plans.

    "We need to get them grouped together, and I know just the ploy--Elrae with a song for the kids! And Hepla sprinkling 'Fairy Dust' on the lot at once! There looked to be about twenty, from what I gathered with my eye. We could do this from either outside or within, though I think it best we let the were-beasts trap themselves, in the Factory. And spring our trap once all have gathered." Thorgrim takes a long pause and reaches for his pipe, and stops, suddenly worried. "'Tis a dangerous game..." he says, "but least the children will be safe."

    [DM OOC: The townsfolk are all over the place, but mostly in area 14, the big open area overlooking the valley, and in the town square. The musicians are in the town square playing on an elevated platform. Most of the kids are in the area of the statue, and there are maybe 50 of them. There are about two-dozen children playing around the statue, another dozen playing with a large dog, and another dozen are by the stage in the town square. Just so you know where all the children are. There are other people milling about the inn (area 1) and the tavern (area 5). There area nearly 100 people in the town, and almost all are outside or in those couple buildings enjoying the festival, eating, and drinking.]

    Isilme casts "Animal Senses" and uses a bloodhounds sense as she flies invisibly above the crowd. She doesn't "smell" anything beyond the normal bad smell of a bunch of peasants. Isilme notes that the kids by the statue are actually watching a man do tricks. He's juggling and such, and seems to have the attention of the couple dozen children there. He's a smallish man, with birds flying around his head and above, he's talking to the kids, juggling. As you watch one of the birds swoops down and grabs one of the rings as he tosses it. He looks annoyed as it doesn't come down, twirls (still juggling), says something to the kids, shrugs, continues to juggle. Then the bird drops it back down to him again and the man catches it. He stops, catching all the rings, and bowing as the birds all settle on his shoulders and arms. You notice they are all hunting birds. Then two fly off again. The man collects coins tossed on a small blanket in front of him, and tells the kids he will have a magic show in an hour or so.

    Menelbrethil (Manny)

    [DM OOC: This is Olorin's new character, a half-elf thief named Manny. He will be replacing Rakk who decided to stay back at Rylee Manor and aid the people in repairing the town after the troll attacks.]

    So, first order of business is to cast some spells. Hepla has already cast Fly. Improved Phantasmal Force isn't going to work like you want. Here area of effect is only like 800sq'. That's 40x20!!! Rather, how about I speed things along. She casts fly, then flies around doing the pixie dust scattering. It is much more simple.

    While she casts those spells, Elrae casts Stoneskin. He then goes out and joins the guy by the statue. He seems to be some for of magician/entertainer, doing magic tricks for the kids. Elrae starts to sing a song of battle, flourishing Snowfang so he can use its Detect Evil ability. Snowfang senses nothing as Elrae passes around the children, eventually reaching the stage and joining new guy (Manny). He puts away Snowfang, switching his song to an age-appropriate version of "F&$#ing Faeries" which quickly starts to gather a more impressive group of listeners as word starts to spread quickly of this talented bard! Manny keeps entertaining, but he sorta stops as Elrae plays and sings, obviously impressed.

    Thorgrim and the Constable walk over by the statue. Thorgrim casts Detect Evil and senses nothing around the area of the statue. The Constable places himself to the NE part of the statue square, between there and the town square by the Cheese Factory.

    Noot climbs up to the rooftops, slipping over to the peak where he can see both squares. It's bright, but he stays low by the Constable's chimney, hiding in the shadows.

    Berenn moves over to the kids playing with the dog after casting Detect Evil himself, as well as Speak with Animals. He quickly learns from the dog that it was the herbalist's dog. It tells him that some big furry animals burst into the house and started to tear the place apart. Though it tried to defend his master, the dog was driven off with firesticks. They lit the shop on fire, and it was force to flee when they attacked it. The things eventually went to the Cheese Factory, at least it smelled them there, but it didn't go inside. It tried to warn the people, barking until they took notice, but all it got was a bucket of water in its face and a kick. That's why it's playing with the children now, to keep them away from the Cheese Factory.

    By now, the kids have all gathered around Elrae.

    Gotrek, Sir Godwynn, and Emyn move to the town square. Emyn moves up to the stage, a handful of silver pieces in his hands, as Gotrek and Sir Godwynn stop at the edge. Sir Godwynn starts to detect evil, and he senses evil from all the minstrels! Hepla has already started to fly over the kids spreading "pixie dust" on them (the ones by the statue.) She'll get them all in a minute or so. Nobody notices anyone running away or anything.


    Berenn doesn't detect any evil, but Thorgrim does. Two "men" at the south end of the plaza have approached the children, and they are clearly evil! As Hepla flies around, they recoil a bit from the dust being sprinkled. They obviously do not like it!

    Berenn finishes his sweep, then asks the dog how many furry creatures he saw the night the herbalist shop was torched. It cannot count, just saying what amounts to some.

    The two "evil folk" notice Thorgrim moving towards them. He stands out, being a fully armed dwarf who walked out into the square with everyone else, along with the armed Constable, looking around! When they see Berenn moving on them from the left as well, they rip off their masks and leap into the midst of the towsfolk, biting an older couple that wasn't "dusted"! The woman screams, and the place is about to erupt in pandemonium.

    The crowd backs up, unsure of what's happening. The hawks fly up, and the wererats follow them with their beady eyes just as Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting each one for [8].

    "How dare you interrupt my performance!" he shouts!

    When a bunch of masked people draw silver shortswords (thanks to Isilme's Phantasmal Force), the two wererats decide they've seen enough. They turn and flee to the south. Thorgrim starts to give chase, but they get around the far corner before he can do much, mainly because he is delayed by the crowd. They also get away before Berenn can act.

    Constable Bert comes up, calling for the people to calm down, especially the children, and Hepla looks for the bitten couple. The woman fell to the ground, and the man kneels above her. Hepla flies over to them.

    The screams from the area are noticed by a couple that are moving by Gotrek, Sir Godwynn, and Emyn. They stop and look back, trying to see what's happening. Nobody else around the cheese factory seems to know anything's going on, and the music of the minstrels drowns out the yells.

    Elrae casts Otto's Soothing Vibrations to calm the crowd down.

    I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
    And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
    I hear the sound of a gentle word
    On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

    I'm pickin' up good vibrations
    She's giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
    I'm pickin' up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
    Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
    Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations)

    Close my eyes, she's somehow closer now
    Softly smile, I know she must be kind
    When I look in her eyes
    She goes with me to a blossom world

    I'm pickin' up good vibrations
    She's giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
    I'm pickin' up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
    Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
    Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
    She's giving me excitations (Excitations)

    (Ah, my my, what elation)
    I don't know where but she sends me there
    (Oh, my my, what a sensation)
    (Oh, my my, what elation)
    (Oh, my my, what)

    Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations a-happenin' with her
    Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations a-happenin' with her
    Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations a-happenin'

    Otto's Soothing Vibrations calms everyone down, and the Constable, moves up to assist.

    "Stay calm everyone, and proceed towards your residence, Constible Bert is here to assist you. My colleagues, the Heroes of Hommlet, are here to save this town from those nasty ratmen." Elrae tumbles off of the stage and heads towards the inn, leaving Manny to help the Constable.


    At the Cheese Factory, Emyn makes for the stage, sword out. People cry out when they see him, and the people scatter away from him. They back off, some running. Before he gets to the stage, the musician leader cries out, "Now!" and they rip off masks, changing form rapidly into half-man, half-rat creatures. At that, the people all scream in terror!

    Gotrek rushes the stage, as Emyn yells a warning. "Just stay out of rage, Gotrek. We don't need minced villagers," says Emyn.

    As they move forward, Sir Godwynn appraoches. He sees five wererats standing on the stage, with his companions drawing close to fight them from the ground. Isilme also flies over, watching from above near Noot.

    The wererats have ripped off their masks as they transformed there into werecreatures. Emyn goes full defensive, protecting the people who all start to stampede away in various directions. The rats make a lot of loud noise (I have no idea what that would be!)

    Isilme flies off to the SE, reaching the front of the inn about the same time Berenn and Thorgrim are about to bust in. Elrae starts that way as well, as Hepla casts her Remove curse on the downed woman.

    Noot keeps an eye out for other danger, while Sir Godwynn moves up to block any move by the wererats towards the people.

    Gotrek charges the stage, leaping atop it with a single, massive bound which startles the closest wererats!


    Meanwhile, Berenn tells the dog to watch the children, then he chases after the wererats. He turns the far corner just in time to see that went into the inn (bldg 1). "Watch the front door," he tells Thorgrim who runs up beside him, "while I check around the building." He wants to make sure they haven't slipped out the backdoor or another exit. If he finds their trail, he will call to Thorgrim. It butts up against the hill, so there are none, so he returns to the front with Thorgrim.

    "There's just two of them, and two of us," Thorgrim says. "And the rest of the party can handle the minstrels and the crowd. If this be their lair, we can wait here." Thorgrim pauses. "Still, it won't do to allow them time to prepare an ambush. How about this? I kick open the door, and we serve a double-dose of Holy Orb to any group of wererats we see. If there are few, only I will cast that. If no enemies are present, I will wait here and you can gather the rest."

    "Works for me," Berenn replies. "If they are lying in wait expecting us to charge in, they are in for an awful surprise."


    Elrae moves up to the inn. Berenn and Thorgrim both ready Holy Orb, while Elrae steps up and throws the front door open. For a moment he sees a scene of pure horror within, as a handful of wererats are busy eating people. Two are looking dirctly at the door, as Thorgrim and Berenn cast Holy Orb within the building. The holy power of the two is unleashed within the inn, and Elrae can only duck aside as a the orbs streak passed him and erupt within. When he looks back, all the wererats within are lying on the floor, unmoving, slain by the combined might of St. Cuthbert and Clanggedin!

    Back by the cheese factory, Gotrek attacks the wererats, Goreblade slicing a chunck from the nearest one. It attacks back, missing, and is joined by another, which also misses. The other three leap down, attempting to get to the crowd which scatters away rats! Emyn gets a swing at one, hitting it [14]. It hisses, not used to being injured, and attacks Emyn, failing to bite him.

    There's a sudden pounding on the cheese factory door as something from within is trying to get out, but the doors are locked tight now thanks to Isilme's spell.

    Gotrek then finishes off the first wererat, nearly cutting it in half with Goreblade.

    Hepla meanwhile casts a second Remove Curse on the woman's husband, who was also bitten by the wererats before they fled.


    Sir Godwynn calls out to the wererodents, "Surrender now or be cleaved in half by my friend's wrath!"

    Emyn goes full offensive on the closest wererat. He shouts loudly, "Three are getting away from us over here!"

    They aren't exactly getting away, as they slash their way through the panicked villagers! A couple kids and adults fall to the ground as the wererats rush the crow.

    Att the inn, Berenn moves inside carefully. Thorgrim does likewise.

    "Effective..." Thorgrim says. "Let's search inside."

    There are three wererats sprawled out on the floor, along with another half-dozen villagers. An older, one-eyed dwarf stands up from behind a counter. He's got a large club in his hand, and he looks around, then sees the two enter.

    "By Clangeddin's beard, what was that?" he exclaims! He then notices the wererats and adds, "And what are THOSE?"

    "DRAS," says Thorgrim, and Souldrinker appears in his hand.

    "Apparently a little effective, although had we attacked with our blades, the villagers might still be dead," Berenn replies. "At least there is one survivor." Berenn turns to the dwarf, "Apologies for our overzealous assault, we cleansed these lycanthropes with the Holy Light of our gods."

    "I am Thegor Hustimor," he says, "and this is my inn." He points to the wererats, "They just came in, and then Callin changed before our eyes. I ducked down to grab my club, and there was a flash of light. When I looked again..." he looks around, "it was as you see now."

    "Incredible, truly," Thorgrim replies. He tightens his grip on Souldrinker.

    "Thegor it would be wise to stay in this inn until this threat is ended, barring the door after we leave would also be wise.", Berenn then checks the dead wererats for anything useful. After the bodies are checked Berenn says, "We should probably check on our friends, they will probably need our help."

    "Indeed," says Thorgrim. "Allow me first to cast a spell of protection upon this inn." Thorgrim sets down his pick between himself and the were--er, dwarf, and then casts Detect Evil.

    Berenn checks out the wererats. The first one is dead. It has a beltpouch with some coins in it, which he takes. The next one is also dead, again, with some coins in a small pouch. They both are armed with leathor armor and longswords. Their attire is that of guards. Thorgrim casts Detect Evil. He senses nothing.

    Thegor comes around the bar, then kneels down next to a young woman. "Quick!" he yells. "She's still alive!"

    Elrae bursts into the inn with Snowfang drawn, then sees the dead were-rats. "Oh, you guys got them." He looks a bit disappointed. "I think the rest of the group is rallying by the cheese factory. We should go there as soon as we finish up here."

    He steps back outside, and notes two people run out of a building (area 5). There are a man and woman, and the woman is screaming!

    Berenn will cast CLW on the woman Thegor points out. "I will be out in a moment, I just need to help this woman." Berenn will also cast Remove Curse on the woman.

    "We've got a situation next door," Thorgrim says. "I shall join Elrae. He then leaves as well. Together, Thorgrim and Elrae investigate the source of these people's terror, in area 5.

    "I will be there as soon as I have attended to this woman," Berenn replies. "Save a wererat or two for me."


    The two wererats who ran into the crowd have knocked down a bunch of people, or they fell just by panic. Anyway, there are about a half-dozen people on the ground there. Some others are ether standing around, like the two between the wererats and Emyn, or have run away, like the one to the right. Isilme is now standing invisible next to the doors to the Cheese Factory. Noot sees the Contable has rounded everyone up, especially the children, and taken them to the NW, towards a large stout stone building. It's the village constabulary, with a jail inside.

    So, there's nobody left in the square with Manny and Hepla except the two old people upon whom Hepla cast Remove Curse. They are shaky, and probably need help moving.

    Hepla looks at Manny and says, "You are either brave or stupid to still be here. If you want to help me, please, carefully check on these two old people. Are they OK? Be careful, they were bitten by were rats, I believe. I think I cured them but who knows. I am Hepla. And do not attack me with those birds, please."

    "Hah", chortles Manny, "I've been called both plenty of times, so some of both. I'll check them." He gives out a strange bird-like call, and a hawk flies down. He spends a minute or two making noises at it and turns back. "I take it those are your friends fighting 'other furry ones' in the town square, you should go help." Then he turns to the old couple to see about their condition.

    "I will wait to help keep you safe," says Hepla. "Yes those are my friends, and one my husband. I believe you are a brave man now that I see you helping. When you wish to I would be proud to be told your name, or a name I could call you."

    "Hmm, oh, I'm Manny. Not sure if that's brave. People here-abouts are friends. Well, kinda. The herbalist was a friend. Sold him herbs for years. Can't see him setting his place on fire but that's what they tell me. Strange, that."

    At the Cheese Factory doors, Isilme casts Summon shadow, and three of the creatures materialize before her. She can send them into the cheese factory next round!

    Sir Godwynn charges around the stage, yelling at the two children, "Get back!" He then attacks one of the wererats from behind. He slashes it from behind with his longsword [10]. Emyn simultaneously attacks the one before him, hitting it for [13].

    The wererats attack! The ones attacking Sir Godwynn and Emyn miss, but Gotrek is hit by the last one on the stage. He takes a slash/bite in the leg [6], and stumbles, falling back off the stage! The last one attacks the old woman trying to assist the man that fell down. It rips at her, tearing huge swaths of flesh from her as she falls back to the ground.

    He gets up, cursing, then goes under the stage, lifting it clear up in the air and flipping the whole thing over. It cracks in half, and the front falls apart, dropping the wererat to the ground next to Gotrek!

    The last people flee, and some kids crawl away, backing up to the nearby buildings.

    The wererat crawls away from Gotrek, who grabs it by the foot and pulls it out from under the broken stage. He then slams Goreblade down on its head, smashing it into grisly halves. Emyn and Sir Godwynn both continue their fights with them and the wererats missing, as Isilme sends the shadows inside the Cheese Factory to kill whatever they find. She then casts Levitate on the last wererat, lifting it 10' into the air! It hangs there, out of reach of any foes, scratching a clawing at nothing! The boy next to her is scared stiff as the shadows flow under/through the doorway, around but not touching him.

    The two kids along the south side of the plaza are pushed along west by the man there, while the old man lies there, staring up at the floating wererat.

    One man comes around the corner from the tavern, only to stop dead in his tracks when he sees the fight going on in the plaza. The other woman runs south, only to be met by Elrae and Thorgrim. It takes a moment to calm her, and she tells them that there are ratmen in the tavern, three of them. "They surrounded Sven," she says, "who was trying to hold them off. He cut one with a bottle, and the wound just healed up. You have to help him!"

    They nod and continue to the tavern. Inside they hear snarling and fighting.

    Back by the statue, Manny helps the old couple, and Hepla sprinkles the last of her dust on them. She then flies up to where Noot is, watching the scene from above. He has moved over to the NE, so he can see better. In the far north Noot sees two kids running to the church (20), while another man is beating on the door of a large, well-built building (10).

    Emyn then hits his wererat for another [12], while Sir Godwynn does likewise for another [8]. Both wererats are badly wounded, and they fall back as their wounds don't heal.

    Emyn shouts, "You'll not get away from me, coward. I am an Avenger of Trithereon. There is no place you can hide that I will not find and destroy you."

    In the inn Berenn checks on the woman. She's alive, and he casts CLW which heals [8], stabilizing her, though she is still unconscious. [DM OOC: You BARELY saved her!] Meanwhile, Thegor moves to another, a man this time, finding that person alive as well!

    Hepla flies off after the kids, nearly reaching them as one moves to the door to the left and starts banging it, calling for Friar Theo.

    The wererat by Emyn and Gotrek withdraws, but it does so right by Sir Godwynn who cuts it down as it tries to pass by him.

    Berenn cures another person in the inn. The other two people within are dead, along with the three wererats.

    Finally, Thorgrim and Elrae burst into the tavern. They see a couple of people sprawled out on the floor, with one wererat savagely tearing at the body, eating it. Three more have surrounded a lone man armed with a broken chair. They laugh at him as they are basically playing with him, while three other townsfolk are hiding along the back wall of the tavern.

    Elrae casts Magic MIssile, hitting the wererat with a series of arcane bolts which sing across the tavern into its back [20]. It is blasted forward, off the unfortunate villager, and when it turns around it takes a mouthful of Souldrinker, sending it sprawling across the bar. The others see this and two turn to attack Thorgrim, both missing, while the last one attacks the man with the chair. He beats it away, and stabs the wererat with a small objects which causes it to wail in pain.

    Hepla flies back when the priest says he will see to the boys. She sees Emyn running her way, and stops, meeting him about halfway. Sir Godwynn moves that way too, stopping when he sees Elrae standing outside the tavern to his right. Meanwhile, Gotrek makes sure the wererats are dead.

    Elrae casts another Magic Missile, hitting the next wererat [16] while Thorgrim steps up and hits it with Souldrinker [15], killing it too! The last one turns to flee. The large man stabs it in the back again, and the wererat stumbles before Thorgrim finishes it off with another swing of Souldrinker.

    As Sir Godwynn enters, he finds all the wererats dead. Thorgrim is speaking with the man, who appears to be the town blacksmith, Sven. He is armed with a silver spoon!

    At the inn, Berenn convinces the survivors to go with him. They leave with Berenn, though the innkeeper is hardly that interested in following Berenn. "Sorry, but our odds of surviving are only marginally better with you!" he says.

    When you reach the tavern, they find Elrae outside. Thorgrim comes out, followed by Sven the blacksmith, wielding a bloody silver spoon. "It was all I had," he shrugs.

    Once they learn the Constable has taken everyone to his office, the other villagers are sent there. Noot takes them, while the rest of the party gathers in the courtyard before the Cheese Factory.

    Meanwhile, Hepla has flown back to the church again. There she's sprinkling silver dust around the ground, while the priest looks at her, wondering what she's about. He gets the two children inside, barring the door, then turns back to Hepla. "What are you doing?" he asks.

    "Making sure you are safe," she says, throwin powder on him and the children as well. "Now stay inside."

    So basically, all the townsfolk, for the most part, are out of the way now. The party is gathered in front of the Cheese Factory, except for Hepla and Emyn who are at the church.

    Breaking into the Cheese Factory is easy, and they find nobody there. The factory owner is dead, his body half-eaten. The wererats are all in one chamber at the top, the shadows having hemmed them in. After a couple of Holy Orbs from Berenn and Thorgrim, they fall dead like the others. You don't find any more in town.

    So, wrapping up the adventure, you all head back to town. A troop of soldiers, backed up by a dozen priests of St. Cuthbert, show up as you leave. They will see to the safety of the villagers.

    Manny returns with you, after discussing things and learning where you are going. He's familiar with Highfolk, so he can guide you there.

    Everyone gets 5K exp for the wererat adventure. Nice little side trek, and only done because of the calendar stuff. When Tempus (the Isilme player) noted the date and that he had a scroll to summon a lycanthrope, he decided to try. I had just barely seen this adventure while going through old Dungeon Magazines. It was called the Wererats of Refren, and can be found in issue #14. It was was basically just a quick side adventure, which also served to introduce a new character, Manny. With everything done, the party then returned to town, ready to continue with their primary mission.
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    Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:09 pm  
    Part 4 - Highfolk

    Waterday, 5th of Richfest (582)
    The dawn breaks and the town is pretty quiet. It seems everyone is mostly still asleep after a long night of revelry. The party makes its way outside to get their mounts ready and prepare to leave. Noot and Elrae are dragging themselves along, shambling like zombies; they were up well into the night, long passed everyone else. The grooms for the stables have your mounts saddled up and ready, and you tie your last belongings on when Lady Clariece appears. She is NOT dressed for the road, and she looks unhappy.

    "My father has forbade me to go," she says. "Apparently, he must go to to to Verbobonc and Dyvers in a few days. I must see to Whitehale in his absence." She looks like she is ready to go into one of Gotrek's rages as she explains.

    "MIlady," says Emyn with a bow, "duty can be a light as a feather but heavier than a mountain. Know that I will carry your honour in this matter if it is to your approval."

    As Sir Godwynn tips the stablehand, Gotrek looks disappointed, and seems reluctant to venture forward. Finally, he speaks. "I will slay all in my path, fair Lady Clariece. That is one thing I can confidently promise." He then straps Goreblade to his back and rides away, never looking back.

    "By the gods," says Elrae, stumbling outside. "I need to stay away from that gutshaker and stick with gnomish ale or elven wine. Where's Hepla's moonshine when you need it?"

    Sir Godwynn smiles lightheartedly, "Worry not my new friend, the bouncing up and down on your horse will quickly cure what ails you."

    As the party prepares to leave, Emyn and Hepla embrace, and she kisses him farewell.

    Thorgrim smiles and pats the neck of his warhorse as it snorts in response. "You are a sturdy horse. Perhaps I shall name you." Thorgrim gets out his pipe and smokes, and wonders what sort of battles the horse may have seen. His eye roams as always while traveling, keen for danger.

    Noot just got his first look at Lady Clarice and seems to have woken up suddenly. He rides off after Gotrek, but he is having a difficult time holding on to his horse as he keeps looking backwards.

    With a chuckle, Thorgrim follows. Emyn is last, as Hepla doesn't want to let him go. "Be safe, my dear," she whispers.

    "And you," he says, clearly meaning it. Though he heads off into danger, he is yet far more worried about her. He then takes to the road himself, following the others yet feeling oddly alone.

    Starday, 1st of Reaping (582)
    The party is about a day out of Highfolk. They are actually within the borders of the city state, camping along the Velverdyva River.
    link to Anna's beautiful map!

    During the night, a thick fog appears, and out of the fog comes Hepala, looking for Hepla. She is 4'10', 90lbs wearing long dress and a hat and vail that hides her face. The men (except Berenn) find her voice exciting. She is very upset with Hepla and Emyn. She presents a scroll to Berren with her normal coy way. She stops in front of our new knight, curtsies and says, "You are cute, I hope, My Lord, to get to know you better soon. For now I must find that daughter of mine and take her home."

    Berenn accepts the scroll. Berenn is openly relieved when Hepala shows interesting in Godwynn, but later gives him a warning about accepting any drinks from her, you will wake up the following morning feeling rather violated.

    Hepala then leaves, vanishing with her fog. Noot thinks it's probably not a good day to be Hepla....

    Sunday, 2nd of Reaping (582 CY)
    The party leaves the Velverdyva and follows the road up the pass to the town of Highfolk. They reach the town shortly after midday.

    The Free Town of Highfolk
    Originally founded as a trading outpost, Highfolk eventually grew into a bustling town on the edge of Old Ferrond. This kingdom existed many years ago, and comprised lands now known as Furyondy, Veluna, the old Shield Lands, Dyvers, and parts of Perrenland. The people of Highfolk have always had an independent spirit, and long ago, they distanced themselves from the rulership of Old Ferrond. Although still nominally part of the Kingdom of Furyondy, Highfolk has long been a self-governing land.

    Highfolk remains an important town for commerce and defense. The wooded town has many guilds, and is an important stop along the Quagflow Road trade route. Deerskin leather and woodcrafts are a popular export to other lands. Highfolk town and the outlying lands are diverse in culture and race. A host of elven clans live and work harmoniously beside the human residents of Highfolk, and a good many gnomes and halflings call the town home as well. Highfolk is well known as a tolerant land, where most people are judged not by their appearance, but by their actions.

    "Sounds like a place where they might be a shrine to Clangeddin, Thorgrim," says Gotrek.

    Enterring town, the party heads for an inn to get settled. As they enter they see a large woman, 6'8" dressed in full plate mail that was obviously custom made for her. Her helm is off, she is blue eyed and blond but rather plain in the looks department. She is shaking the hand of what could be a merchant and accepting a small coin bag.

    Mirielle of Traft

    The woman gets a beer, looks around, and sees you. She smiles when she sees Gotreck and walks over. "May I," she says as she sits opposite Gotreck and seems to consider him your leader. The bench bends a little as she sits down. She reminds you of Taki a little.
    "You are lucky, I just finished guiding a merchant caravan and am available. Mirielle is my name and a better guide and guard you will not find. Hah nor a bigger one. What is your names and how may I serve you."

    Noot heads for the bar to check out the ale, keeping one eye on the rather large woman. Berenn sits back, saying nothing.

    Isilme just looks at the new woman with a raised eyebrow and says nothing. She then leaves to go find the mage's guild, or whoever can help recharge her Wand of Highfolk. She also wants to learn the information about its creation, which may lead Isilme to learning a long-desired spell. She thus leaves the inn on her own errands.

    The party has now met Mirielle of Traft at the inn. This is Protector's new character, replacing Hepla who has to be removed for a time as she is pregnant. Mirielle has just finished a job as a caravan guard along the Highvale, and she will join the party on this venture. She knows where the Velunese expedition went, so she can help you to retrace their steps. If there is anything anyone needs done in town, let me know.

    Gotrek grunts, and eyeballs Mirielle. He smiles. "Glad to meet ye, lass." He clanks his mug of beer on hers. Surprisingly, the mugs do not break, with the force of the gesture.

    [Gotrek OOC-Hehe. Gotrek is the new sheriff in town. Get ready to fight. And die!]

    After meeting Mirielle and having a few ales, Gotrek and Thorgrim leave to seek out a dwarven shrine the barkeep told them of. There they learn that the Velunese expedition picked up two guides here, one being a dwarf. His name was Bolain Gladdik, and he was a very accomplished wayfinder. He worked often with a human ranger, Thaddeus, and the two were long-time companions. They left with the Velunese about a month ago.

    Emyn welcomes Miri but seems uncomfortable, since his eyes are naturally at her chest level. He stares up in her eyes or at her feet a lot, thankful that she's hidden under the plate mail. "Tell me something of yourself apart from what you already have," he says a bit suspiciously. "I've not met many guides wearing full plate."

    "Of course, my new friend," she says. "I have outgrown three husbands-to-be and took up the martial arts rather than the marital ones. My family has money and could afford this armor, but I have fallen out of favor with them since I broke a relative's nose. Now I work for a living and adventure for making things better. Where are you going, I am sure I can guide you as well as partner with you as an adventurer. I always keep my claymore, Remorse, sharp and handy." She is wearing a hugh 2 hand sword that he could imagine her swinging with one hand. "If your a mind to it we might spar sometime."

    Emyn is just happy that he was in mid-gulp when she asked him.

    The rest of the day is spent with the party splitting up, buying what last items then may need. Everyone then gets a good night's rest, knowning these be the last beds they are likely to use for some time.

    Godsday, 4th of Reaping (582 CY)
    After another day in which the party gathers more supplies, especially food, they finally prepare to leave. Though it is high summer, the weather is cool as the party starts back to the Velverdyva. A strong breeze blows down the valley, bringing cool northern air, but it is clear out, and still gets up to about 70*. It seems that the Velunese expedition left Highfolk traveling north along the river. They travel for two days, before crossing back to the west side of the river. From there they move west, to a small village about halfway between the river and the mountains. It was from here that the Velunese moved west into the mountains. You learn that they procured mountain ponies here before leaving. This was a month ago. It is late on Waterday the 5th when you reach the village.

    You have no guides except Miri, who took you here knowing this was the route the Velunese took to the village. You all have horses, so there's no need to buy more unless you want some spare pack animals. You may also need to buy some food. Everyone has a couple of weeks of rations from Highfolk which they before they left, and they buy a couple more here, along with a couple pack animals to carry it.

    "This is the last stop before the mountains," Miri tells them as she adjusts her gear. "Warm clothes everyone too; it can get cold up there. This is your last chance to gear up."

    Gotrek looks out at the mountains and has an feeling. He wishes Clairiece were here to see them with him. He thinks about how she said she could not come, and it pains him. He could see her in his mind's eye, as he remembers how she explained that her father forbade her. She looked very sullen.

    "Good luck on your mission to find the missing expedition," she said to the party.

    Gotrek handed the Lady Clariece the green dragon scale gloves, gloves he had bartered from Hepla. As he handed the gloves to Clariece, Gotrek mumbled something about "the gloves looking lovely on her."

    She looked up at Gotrek, sitting astride his horse, and smiled a lovely smile as she took the gloves. "Thank you Master Gotrek," she had said. "May the Gods keep you safe, that we may meet again one day."

    He had though long about that last comment, and he was now certain of where his future lay.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:42 am  

    Thanks first and foremost to Lanthorn, for his help with this adventure. I was inspired to run it after reading his version here. I certainly hope he sometime gets the chance to finish his version, as it was truly inspiring. :)

    He sent me a lot of info on the Velunese, Furyondians, and Iuzians, and I used all of this to try and turn the adventure into something of truly epic proportions. I hope I succeeded, only my players (and maybe you readers) can know for certain.

    So, sit back, grab something to eat and drink, and enjoy the ride. I have!
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:50 pm  

    Keep on him Ragnar. Lanthorn's stories are truly enjoyable to read.

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    Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:13 pm  

    Sheepdog and Ragnar, you humble and honor me. I am glad to have inspired your own adventures. Thank you both, and to all others with your accolades. Yes, I need to finish my tale, though the details have LONG since withered in my mind about that campaign. I've since taken a break from that contingent and am now pursuing a different group of PCs while also enjoying donning the mantle of PLAYER for a time. However, I still need to wrap up my Lost Caverns saga for my player and will surely finish it in time. There are still loose ends.

    Thanks to all for your support, and enjoy your own adventures!

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    Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:47 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    I've since taken a break from that contingent and am now pursuing a different group of PCs while also enjoying donning the mantle of PLAYER for a time.

    Player? What's that?
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:03 am  
    Part 5 - Into the Yatils

    Waterday, 6th of Reaping (582 CY)
    An examination of your map reveals that the track through the mountains has numerous branches. At the end of each track is a number, evidently standing for something known to the Iuz forces from whom this was taken. Nobody else knows what they represented except that it is likely that at one of the sites are the caverns you seek. Obviously, the map is incomplete, for from what you know of this part of the world, there are mountains where nothing but blank space is shown on the chart. With this map you must somehow find where the treasure is hidden. The more direct your route to the caverns, the less the likelihood of injury or death from the many perils of the journey. A scrap of parchment which you found at the Temple of Elemental Evil with the verse (included on the bottom of the map) might be a clue, or it might be of no use whatsoever, save to mislead you.

    The Horn of Iggwilv
    The horn of Iggwilv,
    Pierces the heart--
    Look over your shoulder,
    Before you start.
    How many sorrow?
    Foolish men,
    Because the didn't
    turn back then.

    [DM OOC: The following is information you have gained about Iggwilv.]


    Iggwilv appeared in Ket some 300 years ago, in the third century CY, where she was known as Hura. After being driven from Lopolla for plundering the Vault of Daoud, Hura made her way to the Free City of Greyhawk. Now using the name Tasha, Iggwilv encountered the wizard Zagig Yragerne, who quickly (and scandalously) took her on as an apprentice. Sometime during this period (early fourth century CY), Tasha also served as a member of the Company of Seven, Zagig's adventuring band. Zagig and Tasha's relationship culminated in the imprisonment of the demon lord Fraz-Urb'luu. When Zagig was unaware, Tasha spoke to the imprisoned demon lord, and learned many secrets. Shortly thereafter, Iggwilv absconded with many of Zagig's magical tomes, including the Tome of Zyx, which she would later make additions to and rename The Demonomicon.

    Iggwilv traveled to the Yatil Mountains, in the unclaimed wilderness near the Velverdyva River, to a twisted mountain now called Iggwilv's Horn, said to be the last resting place of the ancient mage Tsojcanth. There, using the lore and power she had stolen from Fraz-Urb'luu and Zagig, she mastered the lost magics of Tsojcanth.

    Iggwilv next appears in the historical records of Perrenland in 460 CY. Using what she had learned (and stolen) from Zagig, Iggwilv summoned and imprisoned the demon lord Graz'zt. She managed to seduce the demon lord into helping her with her plans of conquest and went on to bear him a son, Iuz. In 480 CY, she assembled an army and attacked Perrenland from her base in the Yatils known as the Lost Caverns. Iggwilv's conquest of Perrenland was complete by 481 CY, and she held a firm grip on that nation until 491 CY, when Graz'zt escaped her control.

    Iggwilv herself was forced to battle Graz'zt, just barely managing to slay his earthly form, banishing him to the Abyss. As a consequence of this battle, Iuz's beautiful form was wracked by magic and split into two hideous manifestations. Iggwilv was left shattered and powerless, enabling the native Perrenlanders to defeat her forces and regain their nation. After the loss of Perrenland, little was heard from Iggwilv for decades, and for a short while, she was presumed dead.

    Legend states that the arch-mage gained much of her prowess from discovering the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, where in was hidden magic of unsurpassed might. It is certain that lggwilv ruled her domain from these caverns. There she also conducted arcane experiments and rituals, trying to further increase her powers. With the wane of her evil, lggwilv's realm was sundered. Her former henchmen and slaves stole her treasure and scattered to the four winds in the face of enemy armies. The arch-mage, however, used the last of her power to prepare a hiding place in the caverns for her remaining wealth. Legends say that this included several tomes of great power. It is also rumored that she may have created Iuz's soul gem and hidden it within the lost caverns.

    The realms of luz, Perrenland, and Ket have sent expeditions into the Yatil Mountains seeking the exact location of the caverns; the few that have survived have all failed.

    [DM OOC: The following is information Isilme learned from King Belvor in Furyondy.]

    Learned from King Belvor IV in Weasun (582).

    A Velunese patrol along the northern border near the southern Yatils encountered a small group of individuals who did their best to avoid questioning as to their purpose. Magic was used against the patrol to bend their interests, but the enchantment thwarted by a cleric serving in the group. At this point, the group viciously attacked the patrol, unleashing terrible magical power, both clerical and wizardly in nature, as well as might of arms. The patrol was almost utterly annihilated had it not been for their training and some use of counter-magic; they fell back, scoring no decisive casualties to their enemy, but forced the interlopers deeper into the wilderness. However, in so doing, the group accidentally dropped a pack containing vital information about their hidden and dark plans.

    Upon examination, a crude map of the Yatils with winding mountain passes was found, none of them terminating to any specific location. More disturbing, however, was the discovery of the skull-like holy symbol of Iuz the Old within the pack, thus revealing the true nature of this expeditionary force on Velunese soil. Powerful divination magic (both arcane and divine) was used by officials and agents in the Archclericy, and they all concluded the same: agents of the Old One were seeking some ancient site of power hidden deep in the mountains to the north.

    To the goodly Velunese, this was unacceptable. Together with their ally Furyondy, always in the forefront of battles with the Old One, they mustered a rival faction to counter the Iuzian threat. The group was large, containing many warriors, priests of Rao, Heironeous, and St Cuthbert, along with a couple of wizards, too.

    "I guess it was too much consider that nobody else noticed," says the king. "I just hope our enemy hasn't...."


    Before you is the winding path leading into the grim mountains. Fortunately, you have sure-footed, mountain-bred horses given to you to assure a swift passage to your destination. Vellum map secured safely, there is naught else to do but proceed with the quest to find the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

    "With the weeks that have passed I hold little hope even the best scouts can track the party, but lets try," Miri says as they start. She tries tracking but is not the best at that.

    There isn't much problem taking the beginning track from the village. The foothills quickly rise into steep mountains, and the "trail" virtually disappears. Berenn says he can still follow it, but it begins to get dark and the party decides to make camp.

    Berenn is taking the rear, but when he catches up he nods. Miri has chosen a decent camp, near a small brook where they can get water, and with good cover but also good field of vision just beyond. She is clearly skilled in the wilds.

    After taking care of the horses, preparing camp, and eating, the party beds down. "We should double the watch since we have enough bodies," says Berenn. "Two man shifts, balanced between warriors and mages, will take two hour shifts. That should give everyone eight hours of sleep give or take."

    "I shall take first watch," says Gotrek.

    "Fine," says Berenn. He looks at Elrae. "You join him, and keep your singing down. The rest of us want to sleeep."

    Elrae frowns, but then winks at Gotrek as Berenn then sets up the next watches. Second will be Miri and Isilme. Third will be Thorgrim and Manny. Fourth will be Emyn and Godwynn, and last will be himself and Noot.

    Godwynn nods, content to take any watch assigned. He lies back to get as much sleep as possible before his watch.

    Miri gives a big smile at Isilme, "Great to be on duty with you maam. I will do my best to keep up my part of the watch. You look the magic type. Will you be providing any magic watch? Just want to know what I will be encountering."

    Isilme looks up at Miri, sighs, and turns away. Miri thinks she hears her muttering about "silly humans" as she does so.

    The evening passes rather uneventfully, the wild sounds of the mountains keep Noot and Elrae up, though the rest seem perfectly at home.

    During his watch, Gotrek thinks about Lady Clariece. He again remembers their last parting moment. She was moved by Gotrek's gift, that much he is certain. If she seemed to everyone else a little uncomfortable, Gotrek saw nothing but her beauty. He touches his cheek where she gives him a kiss, remembering proudly his parting words.

    He had mounted his mountain pony, back arched, and whirled Goreblade about.

    "The gloves are nothing, milady, to the heads I will swipe off in your honor! By Clangeddin, it shall be done!"

    Yes, by Clangeddin, he thinks, looking at Goreblade sitting across his lap. You shall bathe in the blood of our enemies, he whispers solemnly, staring out into the dark night. May if flow like the mighty Velverdyva!
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    Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:57 am  
    Part 6 - A Grave Encounter

    Earthday, 6th of Reaping - Low Summer (582 CY)
    The party awakes to a cool, mountain morning. It is cloudy, and a mist hangs over the lower elevations. The sound of forest come alive with the dawn, and the party awakes after an uneventful evening. Berenn finds the trail easily, for a dozen plus men and beasts is not difficult to follow, even after a few weeks.

    Miri will start this day, and everyday, looking backwards to see if there is anything she should notice. She is trying to follow the instructions in the poem, but she just doesn't get it.

    Elrae laughs. "It's a poem," he says. "It's not meant to be taken literally!" He shakes his head, then recites the poem, already committed to memory:

    The Horn of Iggwilv:

    "The Horn of Iggwilv
    pierces the heart--
    look over your shoulder
    before you start.
    How many sorrow?
    Foolish men,
    because they didn't
    turn back then. "

    "The Horn of Iggwilv pierces the heart" suggests several meanings: a heart broken by jealousy, the killing of a vampire, an active and deadly jealousy (which aggressively pierces someone else's heart)." He really gets going, his mind racing over the lyrics in a long poetic diatribe.

    "The word horn can have many meanings, several of which are applicable to Iggwilv's lair. In addition to the obvious meanings of mountain peak, a hollow horn to hold something (like a drinking horn), a wind instrument often used as an alarm or warning (note that with the many cave entrances to the Lost Caverns, on windy days they may produce haunting echoes, like a dirge), and a source of strength. It could even refer to jealousy; maybe someone presumably cheated on Iggwilv (a dangerous practice that probably didn't continue for long. Heart could also mean the center of her realm,whether that's the Lost Caverns or not, and that foes approach her realm at their own risk."

    After a short breath, he continues on, not noticing the dull looks in most of his companion's faces. "The phrase "look over your shoulder before you start" certainly suggests uncertainty: it advises caution, and not only that your back might be unguarded, but that you may not be able to trust whoever may or may not be back there: you should check your back before you start. But before you start what?--that is the key query. Before you arouse the jealousy that pierces hearts, by involving yourself in Iggwilv's love life? Or, before you betray that love/lover and earn a heart-piercing? Or, is it a general warning that Iggwilv has been burned in the past and that you shouldn't approach her heart at all, since you risk rousing her wrath?

    Additionally, "look" has several connotations: to "look over" is to look back, to look behind, but also to look beyond (beyond your shoulder, beyond your self)---to look to the past, and to where you've been before. To "look over" is also to inspect, to to examine closely, perhaps cautiously as well as thoroughly.The heart, shoulder, and back are all parts of the body, strong and muscular. A shoulder is also part of a mountain near the top, while to pierce something is to stab it, to enter/penetrate something; it is also to see truly, and with clarity. Thus, the first quatrain centers on cautioning about Iggwilv's danger---her strength pierces the heart---and advised them to retreat, to stop before they start.

    How many sorrow? This sounds like a rhetorical question, of course: the countless who have fallen before Iggwilv sorrow because they didn't heed the cautious warning. But it also suggests that others nearer to Iggwilv may sorrow as well. Perhaps no one sorrows, which is telling because no one cares about Iggwilv any longer. Note that all who sorrow are "foolish men"---perhaps it is good we have some women in our company?

    These men are foolish and they sorrow because they didn't "turn back then"---they didn't give up and retreat, but they also didn't turn around, look around, to see who or what what is behind them. Also, they didn't "turn back then"---they didn't convert to Iggwilv's ways, and suffered for their stubborn inflexibility (or obstinate resisteance, perhaps). "

    Elrae sighs. "Or it could just be words, with little true meaning, if any." He then smiles. "See what literary training gets you?"

    "You are really smart," says Miri.

    "Just don't let him sing," says Berenn sharply. He then turns to scanning their surroundings, so nobody can see his face.

    Thorgrim notices Gotrek's look, something that has been there since they left the Lady Clariece. He thinks he understands, and rides over to him.

    "Don't be disheartened, Gotrek," Thorgrim says, smoking his pipe as he rides. He hands Gotrek his flask of brandy. "Many a reluctant lass has reversed her position, given time and persistent courtship. She is comely, for her race, and I find her beauty is not diminished by lack of a beard."

    Thorgrim is silent for a while, thinking. "Women never know what they want, anyway."

    Gotrek eyeballs Thorgrim, getting angry. "What do ye mean about reversing positions?" He grunts, and grabs Thorgrim's weed pipe. The two then ride in silence.

    Emyn pulls Berenn over for a side conversation out of earshot of the new additions, "Berenn, don't you find it strange that just before we set to move out on a quest against the Old One that two new people suddenly appear in our midst? I fear they may be spies. I trust Godwynn but only because his clergy vouched for him. Manny and Miri are a different thing. It just seems too convenient. Maybe those are the ones the poem says to watch for."

    "Perhaps it is all too coincidental," he replies, looking at the two. "I guess we should keep an eye on our new friends until they have had a chance to proof themselves."

    The party follows the trail to the NW, winding along the wooded mountains. They make decent time, with no encounters as they continue into the higher mountains. In the afternoon they come across the remains of a camp, evidenced by the couple of fire rings they find. However, what really gets your attention is the fresh grave on the edge of the camp.

    Grave of Theodore O'Rorke

    It is that of Theodore O'Rorke. Berenn recognizes the name as one told him before leaving Mitrik. He was a billet of St. Cuthbert, junior priest to Sir Orsen.

    "I've enjoyed traveling with the bard and exchanging entertainment ideas," says Manny, as the party is gathered around the small burial. "but you all are heading into dangerous ground. Just why are you following this party?"

    Emyn ignores him, looking at the grave and says, "I don't like disturbing the dead but it might be good to know how he died in order to prevent a similar result for ourselves."

    "He died because these mountains are dangerous," says Sir Godwynn. "Doesn't take disturbing the dead to know that." He gives Emyn a distasteful look.

    Manny looks around the area, goes and picks up something, then returns. "From the looks of things, I'd say they were attacked." He holds up a couple of strange looking quills. "Probably some manticores."

    He holds them up, turning around and fanning his arms to encompass the party. "Anybody want to answer my question? The Yatils' got a lot of bad history. I'd like to know what you're leading me into."

    "We are going into adventure to right wrongs and make money," Miri says. "What more need you know?"

    "Been there. Done that," replies Manny quickly. "Not really an answer. Would prefer something a little more specific."

    Miri, still on the outskirts of the area says, "Because its the right thing and we may get rich. I have hired on for worst reasons." Her voice suggests that these are all the reasons she needs.

    "This area has had a lot of wrongs and money is easier found elsewhere," says Manny. "Ol' Iggy made a heck of a mess and her Son's no better. Manticores will be the least of our problems in these hills. Don't know how far in you've guided, but the land itself up here is uninviting. The cold can kill you if the mountains don't. The resident monsters aren't friendly and the wierd creations Iggy left are worse."

    Manny adjusts the equipment on his horse as he continues. "Now you high-falutin' types all have means to check on each other, so if you are friendly to them that went first, then they are in trouble. Which means you are leading me straight to it. And if you're NOT friendly, then there will be trouble when you DO catch them. Either way, that's trouble ahead. So WHY are you following? And why should I help?"

    "We're going to see what happened to the Velunese expedition," says Emyn. "We fear the Old One may have an interest in this area and we may encounter his minions."

    Manny laughs, almost a snort. "You fear Iggy's boy has an interest in the area? Let me catch my breath," and he then laughs again. "Whew, there's an understatement. Hoho You should be in entertainment. His, hers, and others been crawling these mounds for a long, long time. Yeah, he has an 'interest'. He wants his mother's old equipment. He wants what she learned from others. So do others. Been a lot of expeditions disappear up here looking. What's so special about this one?"

    Emyn looks flatly at Manny and says, "I am an Avenger of Trithereon. Sir Godwynn is a paladin of Rao and there are other goodly folk here. To suggest that we are evil or have such intentions is an insult to our honour. I have told you the truth. As for what is in it for you, treasure, assuming you survive and maybe a few stories to tell."

    "I am sure everyone has their own reason to be here," says Berenn. "I am here because I made a promise to one of leaders of my order to prevent the Crook of Rao from falling into the wrong hands. There is the small prospect of having some property of mine being retrieved as well. No one is bound to be here, so I can't really give you a reason to help other than without us showing up at the proper moment, you would probably be well on your way to being a wererat."

    "So you're on their side and lost contact," says Manny, summing up. "Fair enough." He looks up at the great mountains rising around them. "Finding them, aye there's the rub."

    "We know they came this way because they were seen in the village and Berenn has been tracking their progress," says Emyn almost defensively. "They were on their way to the Horn of Iggwilv based on the same map we have, captured from agentys of the Old One."

    "So they found something new," retorts Manny. Probably something bad. And the Old One's agents are mixed into this? Worse and worse. Well, we can try."

    "I have faith this group can manage it," says Emyn, drawing himself up proudly. "We are teh Heroes of Hommlett. We cleaned out the Temple of Elemental Evil, threw down the Slavers in the Pomarj, ended the days of Galap-Driedel, and destroyed the Throne of Vard."

    "All of which sounds good," says Manny, a sly smile playing across his face as he knows he got a rise out of the stern warrior. "Just remember, sometimes the hero doesn't live to celebrate the victory. Ol' Iggy captured a Demon Lord and made it obey her. Now you want to walk into her stronghold and swipe something out of her strongest, most secure place she could get. I'd say that's gonna have your hands full. Been a lot of heroes try it before. Not many came back. Gonna be a tough run."

    "None of our expeditions are for the faint of heart," Thorgrim declares bluntly.

    "Then you've come to the right area, just crossing this region is not for the faint. Sometimes not for the strong, neither." Manny then lets a series of whistles. In a second, his hawk overhead replies. "Well, at least the manticores aren't around now."

    Gotrek looks at him. "I don't recall asking for ye help. If you are scared of what lies ahead, turn back. If you want to stay and help us, shut up and help." He stares hard.
    "Can ye use your birds there to track ahead, or are they our next meal?"

    "HAH!" laughs Manny. "They already been looking. Apparently, they see the ground better at a hundred feet up than you do as close as you are. And I've crossed these lands by myself before, more than you can say. As to shutting up, why whole villages would agree with you. Too bad I just don't see any need at present."

    "Won't be a hard group to track," says Berenn loudly, breaking things up before Gotrek gets mad. "Not if they leave dead men wherever they go," Berenn continues. He then attempts to summon the power of St. Cuthbert and cast Speak with Dead and attempt to contact Theodore. The spell fails.

    "Probably warded from such things," he says. "Common enough, and what I would do." He looks at Manny, "let us search the area, see what we find."

    Together he and Manny investigate the area, and shortly they return, talking among themselves. "Berenn found some manticore parts nearby," says Manny.

    "From them, it would seem that at least one was slain here," adds Berenn. He indicates Manyy, continuing. "He spotted other tracks which he didn't recognize, leading him to conclude that the manticore's body was eaten by other mountain creatures. The horse tracks we have followed continue along to the northwest."

    "What in the nine hells eats a manticore?" asks Elrae. "Let's be extra vigilant in these parts. Did anyone grab any holy water while we were hanging out with all of those priests? Perhaps one of our priests can bless some for us. If we are going into the lair of the Old One's mother, I am sure we'll be dealing with demons and such at one point or another. My St. Cuthbert shine his wisdom upon us and give us strength to fight the fight of righteousness."

    The party heads northwest, following the trail of the Velunese. It's easy, as they seem to have basically forged their own path. Berenn notes the "bushwacking" skills used, as they pressed through dense areas. They also looped around the more dangerous places, guided by someone obviously familiar with this sort of terrain.

    The party finds it slow going, however, often being forced to lead their horses through more difficult places. Through the day they travel, thankful for the cloudy skies which cool the days down. Still, the temperatures are comfortable, if not on the high side. After nearly another full day of travel, the party finds the remains of a second camp. It is still daylight when they reach it, leading Berenn to conclude that the party seems to be traveling more quickly than the Velunese.

    "We should stay here tonight provided the hawks tell us the area is safe," says Emyn, nodding to Manny. "The other group clearly made this area defensible."

    Thorgrim lays out his portable hole, enters, and retrieves a cask of ale from Highfolk, along with a fine bottle of elven wine from the vesve, both of which he bought in Highfolk. He passes them around, then toasts the party. When they ask him why, he just shrungs. "Nobody should drink alone on his birthday, even when you have passed 89 of them."

    Emyn concentrates to see if he can tell where Keak is at this time. He wants to make certain the villain isn't in the area. He senses him far to the east, and senses something else, nagging at him, trying to push him that way. He knows he cannot, and shuts the feelings down, but they just don't go away.

    During the night a strong wind starts to blow. It gradually picks up until it is blowing over 30mph by midnight. Berenn wakes during Thorgrim's watch, and he is not feeling good about the weather. He prays to St. Cuthbert, and casts Weather Prediction. He learns that it's going to get worse, with winds increasing and a heavy rainstorm passing through for the next two days.

    "We should look for a more solid shelter or we may have to pop the fortress," he says to Thorgrim.
    Thorgrim doesn't want to set it up just anywhere, for it also announces their presence to any who see it. He is also leary of doing so without checking the ground. Since it's already midnight when the winds start howling; and with it being so cloudy there's no light. Most everyone wakes up, except Gotrek who seems to be able to sleep soundly no matter the situation. Everyone suffers through a night of poor sleep, since nobody took armor off this time.

    [DM OOC: From here out you will need to consider that carefully. I am paying attention to such things as how you sleep, personal temperature (though that's not a huge deal at this time of year), etc. So, it's up to YOU guys to make sure YOU pay attention too. If you ignore such details, then I will "rightly" assume you are taking no extra steps or precautions. You all are experienced enough that you do not need me to hold your hands.]
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    Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:22 am  
    Part 7 - It's just a storm

    Starday, 8th of Reaping (582)
    The winds continue to howl as the skies clear. It's cold as the winds shift to the south, bringing colder, northern air over the mountains. The party rests in the tower, with a few logs of everburning to provide ample warmth. Despite the hard ground, the rest is comfortable, more than it would have been out in the wind.

    "Wow, you guys have impressive stuff," says Miri. "This is great."

    "As deadly as it is powerful," Thorgrim replies. "Be sure never to be inside when I'm collapsing the tower, and never be near when I erect it. It could mean your death. Ten feet distance, minimum."

    "Least it isn't raining," says Emyn. "Let's keep going." He begins getting things sorted. "I hope the weather hasn't caused too much damage to the tracks or the trails. I have been told landslides and other problems can happen after a bad storm."

    "Indeed, we all must be careful," says Miri, eyeing the sky. "But moving on is a good idea."

    As the party prepares, Elrae sings a song:

    With tuppence for paper and strings
    You can have your own set of wings
    With your feet on the ground
    You're a bird in a flight
    With your fist holding tight
    To the string of your kite

    The party heads out, but it starts to get cloudy extremely fast. It looks like a large storm is rolling in. When you come around a bend in the mountains, you see heavy rain accompanied by lightning moving in fast....

    "Vadarra was able to petion her gods with a request for weather stasis," says Isilme growing concerned. "Do any of you have the power to do the same? It will at least keep us dry and able to move. This storms looks like it will get worse, and we don't want to be caught in it."

    "Should we erect the Fortress?" asks Thorgrim.

    "Aye, let's hunker down," agrees Emyn. "It cannot be safe to travel in these conditions. The last thing we need is a flash flood or a landslide. We should try ot set the fortress up on slightly higher ground just in case."

    "Just make sure our 'fortress' isn't a giant lightning rod," says Elrae. "Isn't it made of metal?"

    "I suggest looking for a cave or some other form of natural shelter until this storm blows over," says Berenn. "I am certain we can find something better than a metal tower, not to mention our armor!"

    "If we are looking for the fabled Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, looking for a cave is not a bad idea," laughs Elrae. "But I'll sleep in one of Isilme's Leomund's Tiny Huts if it is available."

    While the party is standing around talking about what they may or may not do, a lightning bolt blasts them from behind!

    All the mounts are toast!

    Elrae takes 74!
    Gotrek takes 29.
    Berenn takes 72!
    Isilme takes 71!
    Noot takes 33.
    Emyn takes 87!
    Thorgrim takes 56.
    Sir Godwinn takes 25.
    Manny takes 27.
    Miri takes 32.

    Elrae, Berenn, Isilme, Emyn, and Thorgrim all missed saves vs. Breath Weapon. I have to roll for all their gear as well.

    Elrae, Berenn, Isilme, Noot, Thorgrim, Manny, and Miri are all thrown to the ground as their mounts are blasted too. They end up prone, if not dead already. Gotrek, Emyn, and Sir Godwynn are able to come up on their feet. They see a massive blue dragon swoop down over them, banking off towards the coming storm and making a long, sweeping turn to come back around.

    This came after a long whiny session where the players were bickering for no good reason, basically derailing play. I didn't include all their bickering posts, because they were REALLY annoying, and went on for days! Anyway, I think I fixed it for them! Hopefully, but if not.....

    [Thorgrim OOC: I totally just thought that happened! Was gonna have Thorgrim say "My kingdom for a Flying potion!" or something.]

    [DM OOC: Anyway, it doesn't matter. As I've said, it's JUST a storm. Heck, you can just travel through it if you wish. You guys start getting all paranoid about a storm, like it HAS to be something terrible. It's nothing a simple couple spells can't deal with, or even building a makeshift shelter. It's really not rocket science.

    The thing I'm NOT just skipping is where I am REQUIRING you guys to actually use your heads a bit. I want to see some actual thinking regarding how you travel, eat, sleep, etc.. That's part of wilderness adventures, which I don't like skipping. It also helps to set up the environment, setting, etc., Finally, it has an impact on potential encounters. So, it all matters to me. I know it's not hack and slash, but not everything is. And don't worry, you'll have plenty of that. It's just, I want to see you guys actually adventuring. Besides, this way you never know if it is just a storm or really IS a blue dragon. Keeps you on your toes!

    So, a storm's coming in. Berenn knew this yesterday. You guys chose to move on, so here you are, about to get caught by heavy rain and lightning. From this point, it's up to you guys to say what you are doing, how you're dealing with it, etc. Too bad you don't have any outdoors type adventurers in this party that know how to deal with the elements and such.....]

    "What can I do to help?" asks Miri.

    "Let's find a cave," says Thorgrim.

    [DM OOC: Miri has survival mountains too, so she and Manny can start building a shelter. Since the coming storm appeared, nobody has really said anything pertinent. Really, it shouldn't take 3 pages to get from "a storm is coming" to "we are building a shelter." That's the problem guys. I just don't see how you couldn't simply take that easy step, instead of three pages of stuff. Why you so paranoid?]

    So fine, they build a shelter. Isilme can create her Leomund's Hut too. People can all find shelter from the storm now. Hm, might have been a good idea to buy some shelter supplies before heading off into the mountains!

    Anyway, between these various things, you can find some adequate shelter. Kinda late in the game to start looking for a cave, and in case anyone has not spent much time in the mountains, caves are not littering them like swiss cheese! So, the party is now hunkered down for the day, trying to stay dry. A 15' diameter sphere is plenty large enough for all of you.

    [Isilme OOC: We have enough clerics to create a cave with stone shape...and an earth elemental too. I really don't see the issues here.]

    [DM OOC: Just need somebody to actually SAY what the party is doing. I mean, I know it is not that hard to come up with a reasonable, and simple, plan. But somebody has to DO IT! This is how the party deals with a storm? What the hell will you guys do when a blue dragon DOES attack you?]

    This was a weird session, where the party fell to lots of arguing and bickering for no real reason. It was pretty frustrating, and I almost avoided even posting it; however, scenes like these have their uses too. We all have been here, and I don't think it a disservice to once in while see players at their less-than-stellar levels. And man, the blue dragon fake was so fun!

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:50 pm  
    Part 8 - Two Heads are Better than One

    Moonday, 10th of Reaping (582)
    HOWEVER, when Berenn attempts to do so, he fails to commune successfully.

    In the mean time, the party spends the night rather uneventfully, safe and cozy in the Leomund's Hut. The morning is wet, but the storm has stopped dumping water for now. Dark clouds still abound, and it's still cold. It may only be about 50* in the morning, and the wind is still howling, maybe 40mph.

    Miri thinks that it is not a good day to travel. "I will explore the local area, within a mile of our shelter," while the rest prepare.

    Having cast Weather Prediction, Berenn knows that it clears up after today, and then there is no more heavy rain. There really wasn't much lightning either, except at the high peaks. [DM OOC: That picture was just something I found online for a bit of a visual aid. You really were not supposed to get all worried from it!]

    It will stay cloudy, with a chance of light showers, but the wind will pretty much stop, and the storm will have passed.

    "Let's move along and find that lost cavern," says Elrae cheerfully.

    Emyn awakes in the morning after what seemed to be a fitful sleep. He seems subdued and anxious. Without anyone asking why, he says,"Trithereon came to me in my sleep. He told me that he was releasing me from my pursuit of vengeance on Keak because there was no way for it to be fulfilled at this time but that a time would come when he would face my blade nonetheless. He said I must continue on this mission with you because the balance of the world depends upon it. I fear the worst for the other expedition."

    "It's wise to adhere to the gods," says Elrae with a nod. "Keak will get his in the end."

    "I wonder sometimes," Thorgrim begins, "If the dreams and visions I've had are actually from the Gods. I believe that Clanggedin granted me the vision I had of reclaiming Dorob Kilthduum. But it is surely up to me to accomplish it. It seems we are once again at the center of conflict between the forces of light and darkness. We must prevail."

    Gotrek grunts his approval, but to Elrae or Thorgrim, nobody is sure.

    Berenn will gather his gear and pick up in the general direction the expedition was going before the storm. Hopefully at some point he will be able to pick up their trail again. Around noon it starts to pour, with a massive thunderstorm rolling overhead. The party is currently in a lower portion of the mountains, following along a stream, though far enough above it to be away from the tangled brush which grows right in its vicinity. [Which means there's NO FEAR of a flash flood or anything, which in mountains like this really isn't a big threat anyway.]

    As you can see, it's not really much of a stream anyway. Further, it's pretty dense around it. You basically have to stay a hundred feet or so above it, up the mountainside a bit, to avoid all the tangles.

    Berenn will let Miri take the lead. He can hangout in the back and relax for a day or so. Isilme will not scout on the ground, one of the others will have to provide this service from now on. (We have two thieves) Isilme will cast "fly" and "invisibility", and "stoneskin" if the older one has fallen off. What she will do is fly up above the party at a higher altitude and "scout" what's she sees ahead and report any things of interest. (Terrain features, movement, groups, ruins, etc.)

    "Manny please scout ahead for us on the ground," says Isilme. She takes this opportunity to use the fartalker spell, and gives everyone in the group a small box in which we can all communicate as we travel. This way she can coordinate with Manny or the group can communicate with both of them.

    From the air she mostly can't really see through the trees to the ground. So, if she's flying at altitude to see terrain features, that's one thing. She then won't spot the hill giants lying in ambush in the trees for instance. She also will lose track of the party, because she won't be able to see them, the route they take, etc. If she's flying around "through" the forest, she may spot something like that, but then she won't really see terrain features.

    She could spot larger features, like a ruined fortress, more easily from the air, and at a greater distance. If she's near the ground, basically flying "through" the trees, then she'd only see something like that when she stumbles right upon it. That's the kinda thing I want to know. How is she going to do this flying about? That will tell me what she may or may not see.

    If the terrain is "solid tree"; then Isilme will fly up and check things at altitude once every hour. She then returns to the party and scouts about a 1/2 mile ahead in a 360 rotation. Keeping just under the treeline. She does this for about 2 hours before her Fly spell runs out. Is Isilme going to keep this up? It's not really a practical use of magic, which is why I ask.

    Isilme stops wasting magic, which doesn't have much practical benefit here. Rather, she rides from here out, using her Boots of Levitation to rise up above the trees periodically to get her bearings.

    Manny and Berenn take the lead, tracking the Velunese party's trail. The rest travel by twos in-between. Miri leads the main group, with Thorgrim and Gotrek behind her, followed by Noot and Elrae, and finally Emyn and Sir Godwynn. Isilme follows about 50' behind.

    Emyn says to Godwynn, "Let's hope we get attacked from the rear. I am used to leading, not following, as I imagine you are."

    Just as Emyn says that, there is a terrible roar to his left! Slowly, a monstrous and muscular man-like creature, clad in ragged animal furs and hides slung across its enormous frame, appeared from beyond some brush. It was squatting, or sitting, among the towering trees, seemingly resting against one of the larger trunks. The giant was easily twice Emyn's height, perhaps a bit more, but what alarmed him most of all was that it sported not one, but TWO, hideous heads! One of them was resting, eyes closed, pug nose wheezing, mouth snoring, while the other, completely different in facial features but no less ugly, scanned the treeline, grumbling to itself!

    And actually, I rolled surprise and you guys were surprised. It wasn't. So it charges ahead, swatting its two clubs at Emyn. It hits with one [9], almost knocking Emyn off his horse, but he barely holds onto the reigns and stays in the saddle. [Good to have skill at riding!]

    [DM OOC: OK, regular rounds can commence, and pity the fool that kills Gotrek's first giant in a while....]

    [Berenn OOC: Not quite the hill giant ambush you promised, but an ettin should be fun!]

    With her own bellow, "Mine", Miri leaps from her horse and draws her claymore Remorse.

    Emyn draws his sword and swings at the ettin, slashing it across the face [10]. It howls in pain, or at least one head does!

    Elrae and Noot spur their horses on, pushing forward away from the ettin, while Gotrek and Thorgrim also jump off their horses and draw weapons.

    The ettin continues to swing at Emyn, hitting him with one club [20] and missing but hitting Mortadella with the other [15]. Emyn is knocked back off Mortadella by the blow and lands on his back [2].

    Isilme casts Polymorph Other, but it doesn't work as the ettin fights off the effects.

    Finally, Berenn turns around and rides back towards the ettin, drawing Bonefire as he does so. Manny turns around too, but opts to stay far away from the large, angry monster.

    Finally, Sir Godwynn rides over to attack. The ettin swings with its left club, smacking him for [23] and knocking him right back off his horse! He comes up on his feet though, as his horse rides off out of the way!

    The ettin roars in triumph as it has knocked BOTH knights to the ground!

    Elrae and Noot both ride off to the sides, to try and stop/gather up the other horses. They weren't really spooked, so it's not that difficult.

    Gotrek charges the ettin. It makes an AoO on him as he charges, hitting him with it's left for [20] and knocking Gotrek down! He uses the rest of his action to get back up.

    Berenn dismounts and draws his khopesh sword as well. Thorgrim moves up, stopping just at the edge of the ettin's reach.

    Manny's birds fly back to him, while he readies his bow. He sends them to go distract the ettin, and they fly off. They may be able to distract it next round. The ettin smashes Sir Godwynn with one club [18], knocking him back, then smashes the other down on Thorgrim, who rolls out of the way just in time to avoid a massive downswing.

    Isilme then casts Hold Monster, and the ettin freezes in its tracks! Gotrek and Emyn get up, as Isilme yells at them, "Hold your attacks!"

    Emyn shouts back, "Why? This thing is as stupid as it is ugly!"

    "He might be useful as an ally, if I fail then kill the beast at your leisure," she says. She then charms it.

    Miri moves up to the trees where the ettin was, to see what's there. Berenn sheathes his swords, then takes his rod out of his backpack, which is likely tied to his horse at the moment. Sir Godwynn lays hands on himself, healing [18].

    Thorgrim moves over to Emyn as he gathers Mortadella, moving away from the ettin. [Thorgrim will cure him next round.]

    Manny calls his birds back, while Elrae gathers Thorgrim's horse. Noot jumps down on the ground and gathers up Gotrek and Sir Godwynn's horses.

    Using the farspeaker, Manny then warns the rest. "Uh, folks, we have incoming from the NE. Noot, better hurry." Manny sends two birds to look, while readying his bow and slipping into the woods.

    "What is it?" asks Emyn into the Farspeaker.

    "Large and Loud," the elven scout replies.

    Gotrek gets up, takes a step forward, and delivers a coup de grace on the ettin, killing it with one swing of Goreblade! [Gotrek OOC: Since it's not a melee combat situation, he can automatically kill a held person/creature.]

    [DM OOC: Bummer, I was going to have only one head be charmed. It was going to be funny!]

    Isilme stares hard at him, but before she can say anything a large rock crashes into Noot's horse, breaking its back with a horrible snap! Noot looks to his right and sees a tall giant, dressed in furs. It has a club in one hand, and it looks like it's about to charge.....

    The party hears Noot holler and he slaps the horses, which come bolting back through the center of the group. Sir Godwynn grabs his mount, stopping its rush, but Gotrek's horse runs right on by. Noot comes running a moment behind them. "Giant!" he yells, pointing back the way he came.

    Isilme seems upset, crosses her arms, and looks at Gotrek. "Go ahead," she says.
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    Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:26 am  

    So, should have noted that the grave of Theodore O'Roarke was from Lanthorn's campaign. He was killed by a Manticore and buried. My players, following along the trail of Lanthorn's players, found the grave and discerned what happened by the Manticore quills.

    Further, the ettin also figured into Lanthorn's game, but his party ran from it. This was actually encounter #10 from the original, with Lanthorn's ettin substituted for one of the hill giants.

    As you can see, the members of my party are of higher level and significantly more powerful. The one thing they do not really have is access to teleportation magic. I have kept that from them, and I do not use the priestly Dimensional Folding, which spell I absolutely detest! But still, this is a very large, strong, and capable party. I have to bump things up accordingly, which can be tough. They whine constantly, which is probably what caused their great paranoia with the storm.

    Anyway, just thought I'd give an update about how my adventure was meshing with Lanthorn's. He did so much to help me; I just want to make sure he sees exactly how I was incorporating his adventure with mine.
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    Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:56 am  
    Part 9 - Three Giants

    Once he sees the party heard him, Noot runs off back towards the giant. He gets to where his horse was hit by the rock, and he sees the giant busy swatting at two hawks, flying around his head!

    Berenn moves up and cures Sir Godwynn with his rod [10], while Thorgrim cures Emyn [8]. Sir Godwynn adds a CLW himself [8], thanking Berenn. Gotrek drinks his Potion of Extra-Healing [16], then moves off to follow Noot. Emyn and Sir Godwynn both remount.

    Isilme casts Fly and flies up 5' from the saddle, while Elrae looks around, but sees nothing.

    "Isilme, you trying to Charm this one?" Thorgrim asks before engaging.

    "There's no point anymore," she replies with a sigh. "Just kill it."

    "Aye," Thorgrim replies. "Find out where these are coming from." He then turns away. "DRAS." Thorgrim speaks the word, and Souldrinker is in his hand. He advances north to engage the giant, stopping short of inviting an attack of opportunity.

    [Manny OOC: Can Manny make a called shot to disable the giant's arm?]

    [DM OOC: No. If you hit, you do damage. If you use a called shot to a specific part of the body, you simply change the AC, and you may have some other affect, depending on circumstances. However, the rules don't really allow for a disabling shot, except insofar as we are doing/using crits for them. I can start pushing the more realistic combat system again, allowing for this sort of thing; however, bad guys will do it to you. When Berenn lost his arm to a troll critical, the entire party went into a combat realism tailspin. So, do you guys want me letting that genie back out of the bottle?]

    [Isilme OOC: No thanks!]

    [Berenn OOC: You can keep the cork in this genie and throw the bottle in a bottomless hole in the center of Greyhawk!]

    [DM OOC: That's what I thought!]

    [DM OOC: Note, I added notes to show how high some of those rocks are. I also put them on the two rises, virtual cliffs though not too high. The hill giant is distracted by Manny's hawks, at least last turn he was....

    Noot and Miri are where Noot's horse was hit by a rock and fell, it's back broken and its cries terrible to the ear and disheartening. They can see the giant, which means it can see them.
    Manny is in-between the two large rocks and various trees. He can see the giant, say from the waist down, but the giant "probably" can't see him.

    NOBODY else can see it yet.

    Gotrek is next closest, moving up to where Noot and Miri are. Elrae is down behind another rock, maybe 15' high. Sir Godynn and Emyn are mounted back by the dead ettin, and Berenn is standing next to them holding his rod. Thorgrim is standing next to Emyn, having just healed him, and Isilme is just taking off into the air, having just cast Fly. She's also invisible.]

    Elrae rides back towards the dead ettin, stopping by a couple of the horses. Berenn joins him, putting away his rod and drawing blades grimly.

    Emyn shouts, "What's making all that noise?"

    "A giant," says Isilme.

    "Aye," Thorgrim replies. "Find out where these are coming from."

    "DRAS." Thorgrim speaks the word, and Souldrinker is in his hand. He advances as well.

    Miri runs to take cover at the 20' rock. "Come on Noot, lets get close enough to take out this giant," she says.

    Manny fires his shortbow, hitting the hill giant in the leg [1].

    Isilme flies up, almost 100' in the air. From her vantage point she sees the giant clearly.

    It swats the falcon, hitting it [20] and knocking it flying across the way. It slams into the cliff wall and drops to the ground, a broken thing. The hawk flies up and away from it.

    Noot then runs over by Miri as well, taking cover as Sir Godwynn and Emyn come crashing through the woods on their steeds.

    The giant bellows loudly, "Raaahhhhh!" brandishing it's club as two more come out from a large cave behind it. They each have a club as well.

    Manny takes another shot, hitting again [1].

    [DM OOC: It's now Emyn and Sir Godwynn's turns. They have ridden MOST of the way. I split their move in two parts, because they move so far. They were charging with lances, and can finish their moves. However, there are now THREE giants. I would not "force" them to continue to charge, though they may anyway. Thus, we wait for them to decide what they do. Further, Gotrek has used a double-move to actually pass them, temporarily. He also starts to sing when he sees the giants. ]

    Emyn and Sir Godwynn attack together, each to the opposite side of the giant. They get their attacks without provoking AoO, since the lances are long! Emyn hits it in the chest with his lance, doing [26]. Sir Godwynn hits with his lance too, doing [22]. Both lances snap with the blows! The hill giant bellows in anger, grabbing the lance tip stuck in its side and yanking it out, blood spurting! It looks REAL mad now!
    Here's a zoomed view, to show where they have ended up. They cannot stop on a dime. They MUST take a half-move next round, as they just charged and their momentum will keep them moving. Thorgrim's pretty far away, with Berenn. They are moving up on foot, so they won't be there this round.


    Isilme, invisible, flies down into the giant's cave.

    It's dark, and it takes a bit for her eyesight to adjust. Her nose never adjusts; the place smells almost as bad as a troll den. Once her eyes adjust, she notes there is nothing else in the cave, at least no more giants. There is a lot of stuff, mostly giant junk. [DM OOC: I'm posting here, because it's annoying to do TOO much in PMs. However, NOBODY knows that Isilme is even in the cave at the moment, let alone what it looks like inside!]

    [Isilime OOC: Understood. She wanted to verify there were no more enemies. Next round she flies at an angle out of the cave to place her above the combat scene.]

    [DM OOC: She'll have to spend this next round in the cave, to learn everything that I just told you. I just thought I'd save time, but I guess it wasn't really clear.]

    Round 8 (in case you wondered!)

    Isilme continues her stuff in the cave....

    Elrae rides his horse to the northeast to help out his friends. When he gets passed the boulders, he sees there are THREE giants! He sees a bunch of magic missiles fly out of the trees near Manny, slamming into the giant [15]. Noot continues to hide behind the rock and will keep his eyes on the situation.

    The hill giant swats at Sir Godwynn, hitting him a glancing blow [11]. Even with such a slight hit, he feels the great strength of the creature. With his lance shattered, Sir Godwynn steers his warhorse north until he can dismount, which he does behind some trees. He draws his sword and slaps his horse to send it away to the SW. Emyn does the same, circling around to the south. Rather than dismount, he grabs a javelin of lightning. [he can throw it next round.]

    Elrae moves between the two large boulders where he sees Manny holding out a crystal rod. Seems that was where the Magic Missiles came from earlier. Manny has to step back around the rock to let Elrae pass on his horse, and Elrae then moves to the right, still behind the trees, but he can see the giants.

    Gotrek charges the nearest giant, which swings its club at him, but Gotrek just slips to the side as it slams the ground. [He barely missed!]. Gotrek barrels into the giant, slamming it [32] in the belly. It crumples over as part of its intestines spill out, and it grabs at them with its free hand.

    [DM OOC: Well, Giant Goreblade, a +2 Dwarven Two-handed Waraxe Giant Slayer is finally used to its full purpose!]

    Miri rushes around the boulder and up to the giant. She shouts, "I said this was Mine!" as she does so, bringing her claymore down on the beasts head in a massive stroke which cleaves it in twain. Blood and brains spray all over Gotrek as the giant collapses. It then falls down, right on Gotrek. Gotrek tries to dive out of the way, but it slams down atop him [5] and pins him.

    "Miri!" growls Gotre as he struggles under the weight of the fallen giant, "Don't ye ever get between me and a kill again!"

    Berenn and Thorgrim both rush up to the fight.

    The two remaining giants both throw boulders, one at Miri and one at Emyn. Miri is hit with one which hits her in the chest [31: x2 crit!, but she made save vs. further effects.] She is knocked backwards and to the ground. Emyn is also hit [15], and he is knocked off his horse. His javelin goes flying, and he lands in a heap [3].

    Both giants still have clubs in their other hands, and they move up. One towers above Miri's prone form and the other strides over between Thorgrim and Berenn.
    The map should be self-explanatory. Gotrek is stuck under the giant, so he needs to get out from under it before he can do anything. Sir Godwynn is not shown as dismounted, but he is. He can move up the next round and attack, as he already drew his sword. Berenn and Thorgrim are now in melee with the giant. If they cast spells, he gets an AoO against them. Berenn could take a 5' step to get out of its reach, and then could cast, but Thorgrim cannot. He'd have to move 10', and that would provoke an AoO. Just trying to make that clear now, BEFORE you guys start asking questions which I know are coming! Manny and Elrae are in the trees. Elrae can only see the giant standing above Miri, while Manny can see the one by Thorgrim and Berenn. The other giant is blocked from sight.

    Berenn ignites Bonefire, preparing to cast Sunbow next round. "Sorry Thorgrim, but this ugly bastard has much less of chance of hitting you than me."

    Thorgrim just grunts as he continues to close, then laughs as he hears Berenn's next comment, shouted at Elrae. "This might be a good time to put those vocal chords to work. A few notes from you and these giants will be able to think of nothing other than covering their ears!"

    ROUND 9

    With a mighty shove, Gotrek pushes the dead giant off him. He then rolls away and stands up, a piece of intestine caught on his boot trails behind him. Gotrek growls, then takes the intestines, and squishes them. He moves forward.

    Elrae casts a lightning bolt, which flashes through the trees and slams into the chest of the giant standing over Miri [30]. It is knocked backwards 5' by the force of the blow! This allows Miri to stand, take a 5' step up to the giant, and strike with her claymore, though she just barely misses.

    Emyn gets up, looks around and spots his javelin by the tree, and goes to pick it up. [No attack this round, but next round he can throw it.]

    The hill giant between Berenn and Thorgrim swings its club, smacking Berenn a solid blow before he can back off [18]. Berenn is knocked back 5', and his spell is spoiled.

    Noot climbs up on the rock, crawling forward so he can see. He's lying prone atop it, just peeking up to see what's happening.

    Thorgrim swings his pick, hitting the giant in its leg [13], then sidesteps to the right.

    Sir Godwynn moves up on the rear flank of the other giant, slashing it in the back [8].

    Thorgrim then hits the giant again [13].

    "Berenn, how'd you like that last song?" jokes Elrae.

    "I think you have found your sound Elrae," he jokes. "More so than myself, it seems."

    Round 10

    The giant swings its club at Thorgrim, slamming him into the side [15]. He flies sideways 5' and slams into the rock [6].

    Gotrek moves forward, ducking to avoid a swing [AoO] by the giant, and swings Goreblade, missing badly and almost falling down on the spilled entrails before kicking them away. [DM OOC: He lost his second attack. He is also still singing unless told otherwise.... One more round to Rage Time!]

    Miri swings and misses with her claymore, again. She glances at it as if something were wrong with it.

    Thorgrim shakes off the effects of the blow, grips Souldrinker tight, and steps forward, swinging at the giant which just turned to face Berenn. He buries the pick in the giants back [24: x3 Crit!]. The giant roars out in pain, as Berenn draws his khopesh sword, then steps in and hits it with Bonefire [9+1 fire]. It roars again, swinging wildly in a circle to get these pesky gnats away!

    Emyn then rushes back to Mortadella and leaps into the saddle. He rides to the left, beyond Elrae, to where he has a view of the giant fighting Berenn and Thorgrim.

    The other giant continues to attack Miri, slamming its massive club into her shoulder [31: x2 crit w/broken shield arm! Yes, she failed her save to avoid the special crit result!]. She flies backwards 10', landing on the ground [this time she IS prone!] and losing her claymore which flew about 10' the other way. [You can see it on the map on the other side of the dead giant!]

    Elrae casts Magic Missile, sending a handful of darts singing across to strike the giant that just hit Miri [15]. Finally, Sir Godwynn takes two swings at the giant, missing badly each time.

    ROUND 11

    Noot slips into the giant cave, checking it out.

    Gotrek hits the giant, slashing it with Goreblad [36]. The giant reels back in pain as Miri pulls out her hand axe and hurls it at the beast. It hits it in chest, burying deeply [10]. The giant topples over backwards, and Sir Godwynn barely avoids it, slashing it as it goes down and finishing it off!

    The other giant then swings its club at Berenn, smashing him in the side [14]. Berenn strikes back with a double swing of blades, missing with both [rolled two "2s".]

    Emyn finally throws his javelin, which strikes it in the back of the neck [8]. The javelin unleashes its electrical discharge, which blasts the giant for [20].

    It howls in pain until Thorgrim hits it in the back as well [13].

    As the giant spins around, Berenn stabs it in the back with Bonefire [15+5]. It falls over, and Thorgrim finishes it by burying Souldrinker in the back of its skull!

    That's it for the giants. Gotrek unfortunately went berserk! He starts off just attacking the fallen giant, hacking away at it with his last attack that round, but everyone who knows the battlerager recognizes what they see...and moves away.

    Luckily, Gotrek makes his roll easily. He comes out of his rage, covered in giant gore and smiling broadly.

    Everyone else comes together, gathering up the horses and finding your lost stuff. Berenn used his rod on everyone available. Miri has a broken left arm. In the giant cave you find the following. Well, Noot finds it, and he comes and tells everyone. Not sure of the timing, but he doesn't steal from his party, so he shows everyone what he finds.

    There are some large sacks, and a tumble of stuff. GP: 2,300, SP: 3,600, CP: 1,900. The ettin had nothing, though you found the scars of what looks like a lightning bolt on its chest.

    Berenn casts Mend Bone on Miri and CLW on himself and Emyn. After that he will hit Miri with two Cure Medium Wounds. We should check what is left of giants' bodies as well. Did we get a chance to check the Ettin's body?

    "Thank you Berenn," she says, rotating her arm around to make sure it works right. "Does anyone, maybe one of the dwarves, know how to get dents out of armor?"

    [DM OOC: Armor didn't get broken or anything, so assume you spend a normal amount of the day working on it. Gotrek is VERY proficient, and can handle it himself. Thorgrim should start keeping an anvil in the portable hole!]

    Anyway, you have to spend an hour for the Mend Bone spell, with Berenn working solely with Miri during that time [read the spell for details]. By the end of that, it starts to POUR again, so the party takes shelter in the giant's cave while Berenn works on Miri. It rains for about 6 hours, so it's nearly night by the time the rain ends. If you plan to stay in the cave overnight, you can use up the rest of your healing to real everyone before bedding down for the night.
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    Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:19 pm  
    Part 10 - Discovering the Ambush

    Godsday, 11th of Reaping (582)
    It's a dark night outside, with the storm coupled by a New Moon. Still, safe in the dry cave the party rests up, heals completely, and can start refreshed in the morning. Berenn has to once again seek out the tracks of the Velunese, which he does. It is much harder now, after a second storm, and no telling how many before you even ventured into these mountains. Still, he finds their trail, moving in a western direction. After a few hours, he finds a trail to the northwest. Tracks are now confusing, as it seems that people have taken two directions. Some followed the trail to the northwest, along a valley floor, while others continued nearly due west, heading back up a draw between two mountains. It's impossible to tell anything else other than that there are now two possible paths.

    [What none of my players knew was these two paths were where the Velunese and the Iuzians went different ways. The Velunese expedition had been following the Iuzians, who went to the northwest, while the Velunese went west.]

    Miri takes out her copper coin, flips it and says "Northwest, good as any".

    Emyn says, "What sort of a guide are you, Miri, if your advice consists of flipping a coin. Surely you must know what might lie down these two paths. Or you Manny?"

    "Sorry," she replies, "but we are at the edge of my knowledge. We are off my last map and have to depend on that little map you have. Manny, have you been this far?"

    He shakes his head. "I've been through Ehlonna's Scar a few times, followed the main trails to Krestible and Clatsberg, been up into Gnome Vale. Nobody's really explored the whole area, too many monsters and traps from the old days. Since The Scar exits at Highfolk and we are north of there, heading west will likely lead us to connect with it. North west, takes us along the main range, unless we run into the Wijsgardten River."

    He spends some time looking at the trails, then sighs. "I'm more curious as to why they broke up. Any signs of a fight? Maybe they had an argument or went down the wrong route and came back to try a different one."

    Berenn seems to be lost deep in thought. Turning to Manny, he adds, "There is nothing here that would indicate a fight, they found a fork in the trail and perhaps thought it would save time to split up and explore both ways and meet at a designated point when they found something."

    This what the view west looks like:

    Obviously, it's without the fenceposts!

    There is a pretty large mountain straight ahead, with a cleft towards which the path seems to lead. The valley you are in continues along the right (north) side of that mountain, or couple mountains, continuing around them to the northwest.

    [DM OOC BTW, the fact that I don't have a view that direction means nothing; I just couldn't find one online. I've actually found a place that pretty much matches the map you have, and I'm using it to have REAL images and such to use, and a very good map, better than anything I could make because, well, it's real! Anyway, this is the view from where the trail splits, with this nice valley continuing to north and northwest, around those mountains. The are more mountains to the right, obviously, they just are not as big. The one ahead is a couple thousand feet higher than pretty much all the ones around here.]

    "Splitting up in the mountains is rarely a good idea," says Manny, looking like he knows this first-hand. "And there is not likely a known point they could meet at besides here. Since you see no sign that one or the other party came back then it is probable both ran into more than they could handle. Well, Iggwilv's throne was said to be in a 'twisted mountain', not in a valley. I always figured there was a lot of traffic going to it at the time, hard to get armies gathered and sent out otherwise. Be mostly unused now, of course. So, west is my guess, if you wish."

    Manny then shares some Yatil information with the party. "Ehlonna's Scar is a deep river canyon through the Yatil Mountains between Highfolk and the small city of Polvar. Locals use it to shave off at least 50 miles from their trip east to west and vice versa. The y-shaped canyon and its river stretches nearly 40 miles and its steep walls averages between 200 to 350 feet. To the best of my knowledge, it's also used by smugglers. You don't make any waves if you do encounter anybody there, and DO NOT SPEND THE NIGHT THERE IF YOU CAN AVOID IT! It's dangerous!"

    Sir Godwynn seems affected somehow by Manny's description of Ehlonna's Scar, and he is lost in thought, not really listening after.

    "It's also pretty far south of you, so we are not really anywhere near it. As for the Wijsgardten River, it's a large river that comes out of the mountains, it's headwaters near a large gnome community called Gnome Vale. That's clearly to the north of us, so if we run into it, and you cannot miss it as it's pretty big, then you know that you are clearly too far north."

    He takes a look at the party's rough map, then shrugs. "It has to be west."

    Miri puts her coin away and says, "West."

    It isn't long into their trek before Berenn discovers a set of roughly a dozen booted footprints, seemingly hobgoblins, crossing the hoof prints that you were following from the other group's mounts! The hobgoblins crossed their path going north to south.

    [DM OOC: Just so you understand, because you ALWAYS fail to get stuff like this. The hoofprints of the mounted party that you are following continue west. At this particular point it crossed a set of hobgoblin prints which are a bit older and went from north to south.]

    The hoofprints get closer together, and it's clear that the group closed up ranks at this point.

    You are following the Velunese group which is heading west. They are making their own path, for the most part, since there aren't really any roads here. As some point, after you've traveled a couple hours, you find this point where the Velunese crossed the path of some hobgoblins moving from north to south. This clearly made the Velunese wary, as they closed up ranks a bit, which Berenn notices from the tracks. The hobgoblins went south, and you don't see any other sign of them.

    Here is the view from where you are looking west, sort of.
    It's a look from google earth, so it's not perfect. However, it's better than anything I could draw. Please ignore the roads; I can't find virtually any images like this in our world without roads. Just look at the terrain! However, the trail you are following "seems" to go to the right of the larger central peak, where it follows an easier route around to the left, behind it and up through the draw in the mountains.

    Isilme says she will investigate the area. She casts Farspeaker, Invisibility and Fly, then takes off to scout. The party continues on for another couple of hours, with Isilme above giving the seeming all clear as she flies around. She especially checks out the route around the peak, and finds that it is going to be a difficult trek, though not terrible. Certainly it will be easier and shorter than going around. Obviously, she cannot be following tracks from above, and she's just looking for anything...out of the ordinary.

    On the ground, Berenn halts the party after a couple more hours when he finds the telltale signs of a fight!

    This is where the fight occurred. It's just up around that central mountain in the earlier image, in the draw leading behind it to the top of the ridge, so maybe four hours walk. You see the path ahead leads to a pretty steep face, but Isilme reports via Farspeaker that there's a track which winds up that final ascent. The party may want to wait to tackle it in the morning, since it will be difficult to manage by the end of the day. She's on her way back when Berenn notes the fight.

    While waiting for Isilme to return, he investigates the area. It was apparently an ambush. The hobgoblins where hidden along the treeline, and it looks like more came from left and right and charged the group here. The group retreated, or it seems some advance scouts did. These were on foot, and one was a dwarf, which matches what you heard about the Velunese group hiring a dwarf scout.

    Bloodstains showed that people were wounded here. Bloody hobgoblin arrows, as well as some bloody arrows which were clearly of elvish make, show that both sides seemed to have taken casualties. At one point a few, including the dwarf, fought back to back near a tree stump. The dwarf lived, as his tracks then continued away, but it looks like two others fell, as drag tracks went west, along with more hobgoblin prints and some others which were definitely a bit smaller.

    In the trees the half-eaten bodies of a couple hobgoblins are found, left for dead and then eaten by animals most likely. However, Berenn notes that the drag tracks continue a bit, mingled with hobgoblin tracks which continue west, towards the cleft in the mountains. Amid the trees just ahead it seems the Velunese camped, judging by the remains of a small fire and the horse tracks and spoor that is found there.

    "It's pretty clear that the Velunese group was ambushed here by a mixed group of mostly hobgoblins," says Berenn. "The hobgoblins clearly captured a couple people and dragged them off to the west with them, while the Velunese expedition halted here for the night." He looks closely at the evidence, then continues. "I would say this all happened about three or four weeks ago."

    Did any of the Velunese make it out alive?" asks Emyn.

    "Most," answers Manny. "I don't see any signs of dead bodies other than some hobgoblin corpses chewed on by wildlife. Some expedition members were probably dragged off alive, but I doubt they would be alive now." He looks up the mountain, then adds, "But since the hobgoblins went in the same direction we are headed, I don't see any reason why we can't track the hobgoblins down."

    "We might as well use the old expedition camp for the night," says Berenn. He then turns to Thorgrim, "but keep your fortress ready."

    As the party camps, Berenn, Miri, and Noot investigate the area carefully, piecing together what happened here. There was a group of about 4 men who were apparently the advance scouts for the Velunese. They were ambushed in that rocky clearing by hobgoblins. Archers fired on them from the trees, while two groups charged from left and right. One man apparently ran away back to the main Velunese group, lagging behind, but two others and the dwarf made their stand by a large tree stump. Two fell, and were dragged away by the hobgoblins, but the dwarf lived, rejoining the rest of the Velunese group which made camp nearby. A large round scorthed earth mark near the tree, along with two charred hobgoblin corpses (or parts of them) shows that somebody dropped a fireball on the hobgoblins, probably rescuing the dwarf, or at least allowing him to escape. The hobgoblins apparently fled west with the other two men captive.

    Isilme returns after they had figured all this out, and she notes that she did not see any sign of anyone else around. Since the trees shortly give way, she knows the hobgoblins must be gone.

    While the party camps, since it's not a good idea to attempt to the last climb in the dark, Berenn heads out to follow the hobgoblin tracks. They do indeed lead up through the same draw towards which the party is traveling. He notes that the Velunese also continued that way too. Just before the rise, he notes more tracks, heavy boots and not crappy hobgoblin ones. He can't really tell where they came from, as some point he is simply able to ascertain their presence. He also notes that the two dragged people started walking, but were seemingly injured as their steps were halting, half-dragging their feet. Very shortly thereafter, he looses all the tracks completely in the rocky ground heading up the cleft.

    "The cleft is too hard to climb without daylight and the trail also ends there, although I may find some signs of passage from time to time. Might as well get a good night's rest, the road gets rocky from here," says Berenn.

    "There is a long valley beyond," adds Isilme, "I flew to the top to get a look over the ridge. The valley branches in various directions, and of course, more and larger mountains further on. However, once up over the top, we should be back down into more easily traveled valleys again."

    The party camps for the night, wary for intruders. Manny is saddened at the loss of one of his birds, and Noot offers condolences, telling him the story of his heroic ferret, Isaac. The party sits close by a fire, sharing stories of their past exploits with Manny, Miri, and Sir Godwynn. Miri tells of her travels between Highfolk and Perrenland, but Sir Godwynn and Manny are oddly silent. Eventually, weariness greats the party, and they fall asleep, one-by-one, leaving only their scouts to silently watch the dark woods around them.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total

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    Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:09 pm  

    ragnar wrote:
    So, should have noted that the grave of Theodore O'Roarke was from Lanthorn's campaign. He was killed by a Manticore and buried. My players, following along the trail of Lanthorn's players, found the grave and discerned what happened by the Manticore quills.

    Theodore was slain early in the campaign, just as the mixed group of Velunese and Highfolkers were entering the mountains after skirting the Velverdyva River running north-south along the Highvale. The poor priest was killed outright by the volley of spikes by a nocturnal attack by those monsters and his corpse was dragged off to be consumed. The party found what was left of him the following morning.

    Further, the ettin also figured into Lanthorn's game, but his party ran from it. This was actually encounter #10 from the original, with Lanthorn's ettin substituted for one of the hill giants.

    Actually, it was a random encounter! Yeah, they ran for there lives, but it pursued and only retreated when it was battered by a Lance of Disruption... and a few Magic Missiles, if memory serves me right.

    Anyway, just thought I'd give an update about how my adventure was meshing with Lanthorn's. He did so much to help me; I just want to make sure he sees exactly how I was incorporating his adventure with mine.

    MY PLEASURE! Hoping everyone is enjoying your campaign. It's obvious to me you put A LOT of time and effort into it.

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    Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:27 pm  

    I've been trying to post, but I cannot. Seems the site isn't working.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:48 pm  
    Part 11 - Over the Mountains and Through the Woods

    Waterday, 12th of Reaping (582)
    After a cold night, which a few well-used spells and a fire offest, the party wakes in the morning. It's about 36*, with a strong south wind blowing at about 20mph. It swirls around in this nearly bowl-shaped area. The party leaves, with Isilme again using Invisiblity and Fly to scout ahead and above. Berenn takes the lead with Manny, whose hawks fly off and circle above and around the party, often coming back and landing on his perch. He seems to be able to talk to them somehow.

    "It seems to me your pets should always be used in this fashion, and never in battle, unless we're in extremis," Thorgrim says. "Certainly we've been known to handle ourselves." He pauses, then continues, "I am sorry for your loss of your bird. For some, the pain lingers."

    "Aye," says Manny with a solemn look. "The pain indeed lingers. He was a friend. I mourn his loss and hope his next life is better."

    The rest of the party follows behind, in their established order. The going is tough, but not overly so. When they get to the hardest part of the climb, the horses need to be led, rather than ridden, and by midday the party has reached the crest of the cleft.

    Isilme is waiting for them, at least you hear her say, "About time," though she's still invisible! The mountains to the left and right are sheer cliffs, totally impassable. This view shows the ones to the right (north), and the route down to the left. There is clear sign of traffic atop the cleft, so this is without a doubt where both the hobgoblins as well as the Velunese traveled.

    Looking back, they can see how far they have traveled, and and how impossible it is go go any other direction. The other group which branched off to the north would have to go around this entire mountain range, delaying them by weeks at least.

    This is a shot from the cleft. It's a long way down, but you will be happy to get into the valley and off these difficult mountains.

    This is the view looking kinda southwest. Please disregard all towns and roads. Remember, Google Earth views aren't perfect, but basic idea of terrain is right. The valley is TOTALLY wooded, though there are clearings here and there, I'm sure. Basically treat the valley floor as forest. A handful of rocky streams lead down, disappearing and reappearing through the forest and seeming to join together to a larger one which heads west and a bends south through another valley, while to the northwest there is a very wide valley in the distance.

    Elrae sings a song:

    Down in the valley, the valley so low
    Hang your head over, hear the wind blow
    Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow;
    Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.

    "Well if the inhabitants here weren't mad at us already, Elrae's singing should get them all riled up!", Berenn mumbles.

    "And it will herald our presence as well," mutters Thorgrim, "riding on these damned winds!"

    "Oh relax you two curmudgeons," laughs Elrae. "My music lifts the spirits of all around. It helps pass the time during our long journey through these mountains."

    "If by lifts the spirits of all around, you mean incites riots wherever you go, I wholeheartedly agree!", Berenn says with a grin.

    It takes the rest of the day to traverse the west face and get down to the first parts that are even remotely level. Looking back up, the view is quite beautiful.

    Ignore the snow; there is none here right now. However, this is exactly where you are traveling, just coming down, rather than going up.

    By late afternoon everyone is pretty tired, so the party camps in a clearing near the stream.

    These are the mountains you just crossed. The cleft you cut through is just off the image to the right.

    "It is like a massive wall," remarks Noot, unaccustomed to such magnificant displays of nature's wonder.

    "You're not in Verbobonc anymore," says Berenn, though the wonder of the Yatils does not escape the ranger either.

    Miri announces that she will do some hunting and set some snares so we might have some fresh meat. When she checks them at dusk, she finds she got a rabbit. She is pleased with her rabbit and resets the snare and will check it in the morning.
    "Fresh meat, " she announces when she gets back. " Rabbit stew tonight."

    Thorgrim has a pot of water boiling, and you skin the rabbit and make a stew.

    "It's a bit bland," says Emyn, longing for Hepla's spices.

    Luckily, Isilme has her Shaker of Everlasting Salt, and she adds just the right amount to make it delicious! "I have often wondered at just what to do with this little item. It may not summon elementals or throw fireballs, but there are times when the simple things are what really matters."

    Emyn asks Berenn if he can tell anything about the expedition now that we are on better ground and also what else he thinks we might encounter here.

    "It looks like a few were added," he says, "likely in Highfolk where we heard they hired local guides, including a dwarf named Bolain and a human ranger named Thaddeus. These two, along with another small person, were on foot, as were the men at arms."

    Isilme casts "Proofing vs Combustion" this evening on her cloak, starting the slow process of casting this on all her items over the course of her journey.

    Thorgrim watches. "When did you learn this spell?" he asks. "And have you given further thought to this idea of yours, this wooden armor that's same as steel? You need to test it to see if it works. Could be that Bahamut Himself forbids its use in this way...for you, personally, if not for others."

    As the party makes camp, Thorgrim takes off his backpack and removes the fingers of the dead hill giants from his backpackk. He explains that he dragged the corpses of the Giantkin far from the site, to avoid attracting predators, hacked off the fingers, and stored them in his backpack. A surge of emotion charges through him. He feels a direct connection to his god, Clanggedin. He feels a change in his god-granted powers. He raises his axe to the sky in acknowledgment of this gift.

    That evening, he gets out the gruesome trophies and sits by the fire. He uses his dagger to prise the fingernails off, and tosses the bloody stumps into the campfire. He thinks of the champions of the Temple of Elemental Evil, which took him hours to turn into fish-food. He says quietly to Isilme, "Clanggedin has granted me a boon. I can feel it in my bones. I know not yet its full effects or import. Strange, but an irrational hatred of these creatures," he nods toward the dismembered digits in his hands, "Has seized me."

    He continues his grim task. "I also feel like I should be seeking the undead, to ferret them out and exterminate them wherever they dwell." He looks at Noot to be sure he hasn't heard his turn of phrase, then continues. "Now that makes perfect sense. I feel that Clanggedin no longer wishes me to Turn them, but to fight them and destroy them utterly, always. They are an abomination." Thorgrim finishes his job, and wipes the blood from his hands. "I feel I should investigate the Abbor-Alz, when all this is over. With or without the party."

    Thorgrim cleans the fingernails in the dirt, then opens his Portable Hole. He places the nails in one of the glass jars he'd made for Hepla, and gets out his mountain-climbing gear. "Pity I forgot to give her these, when we separated," he says to himself. He checks his gear for all its components. "Would that we all had such tools, and knew their use, given the terrain we're facing," he mutters as he repacks his backpack.

    [DM OOC: This was posted after my mid-game change to the priesthood of Clanggedin, to bring it into line with official sources. Kudos to Violator for his job role-playing the change!]

    Earthday, 13th of Reaping (582)

    After another restful sleep, it's another cold morning. Your camp was a bit higher than last night, and a cold wind blows from the west now at nearly 30mph. Berenn nods, knowing it will hide your scent and sound from any in the valley below.

    "Even Elrae's singing," he mutters, hiding a smile from the bard.

    After breaking camp, the party can continue. Manny sends his hawks off to scout, while the party continues. In only about an hour you come across another camp. It was clearly another Velunese camp. They continued from there down into the lowlands below. Berenn is pretty sure he'll be able to follow their tracks.

    Checking the snare line, Miri finds another rabbit. This one they cook up as they prepare to leave, and eat a quick, small meal.

    "A lot better than rations," says Gotrek. "I could eat a couple alone."

    "Well, we only have one," says Miri, "so just a few bites each."

    With a grunt, Gotrek finishes his rabbit then gets ready to march. Soon the party heads down into the valley, following the river. Isilme levitates up over the trees, but the valley is thickly wooded. She can see nothing of note except trees, as far as she can see.
    This is a quick Google Earth view of the area, to show where you end up.

    By late afternoon, after stopping for a break, the party winds around that hill in the middle of the valley (marked "You are Here"). There the river they followed down winds around this hill, continuing to the northwest (your right), towards the large flat valley there. The woods are very thick, and soon you pretty much loose track of where you are, or at least you would without good trackers.

    Isilme uses her levitation to get above the trees, and she sees that there is a small clearing ahead where you'll be able to see. Making for it, you reach it a few hours before dusk.

    This is the view from the clearing on the west side of the hill. Remember, there are no buildings, no farmland, just forest. It's just too hard to try and photoshop these photos, so bear with me! It's thick, thick forest, like the previous picture above. However, this picture gives you the lay of the land with respect to the valleys and mountains. Put with the above image from the mountain ridge and you can consider where to go. This image is pretty much facing NW. Basically, there are two large valleys, one going left to the southwest, while the large forested flat valley lies to the right, to the north-northwest.

    The party follows the trail, continuing into the valley to the northwest. They are following the stream, which it seems the Velunese followed. The terrain here is pretty rough, and the going is slow. It's easy to follow the Velunese, because they basically bushwacked their way through this dense forest. In the evening you know you will shortly have to make camp again. Manny's hawks tell him that there is a small lake ahead. Pressing on a bit, the group finds the lake.

    It is only about 500' long, and maybe half that across, so it's rather small. The side towards the party is rather marshy, leading towards the valley. It looks like the Velunese swung around the south side of the lake. Following their trail, you find an actual path, not much more than an animal trail, which leads up a short hill, maybe 150' higher. You find a camp up there, where the Velunese spent a night as well.

    It is dark by this time, and the party camps there.

    Freeday, 14th of Reaping (582)
    The sounds of wildlife abound in the night, but the party sleeps well. Actually, some of them seem a bit nervous with the abundance of noises, including lots of wolves apparently; however, some like Berenn seem completely at ease, actually enjoying the evening. Clearly some feel it to be quite refreshing to be away from civilization.

    Thorgrim set up his fortress, for there is a good place to do so, where it would be blocked by a rise on three sides, and forest on the other. Thus, nobody could ever see it unless they flew directly over it. With an overcast sky and new moon, it's very dark. Thorgrim feels much better using his fortress again, as it provides a sense of security that he feels has been lacking.

    "Long as no wyrms make this valley home," he says, smoking his pipe.

    Gotrek drinks some Gutshaker which Thorgrim had stored in his portable hole, while others share in the regular ale. Miri tries the Gutshaker, but nearly pukes. Gotrek laughs, thinking it funny that Hepla is the only one other than himself who can really drink the stuff.

    "Miri, can ye catch me a big a big fat trout?" Gotrek licks his lips. "Noot. What spices do ye have. I wish we had some lemon...."

    Miri fishes, joined by Noot who seems to have a natural talent. In just a few hours they have caught a dozen fish of various sizes.

    Elrae takes out his cittern, but he is silenced quickly by Berenn. He looks at the others, but they back up Berenn. Much as they'd like to hear Elrae's songs, this isn't the place. Best to remain quietly vigilant. Elrae then tells the party an old tale he heard, entertaining them with stories and poetry rather than song.

    "This is one of my favorites," he says, a poem called "The River."

    I come from down in the valley,
    Where mister when you're young,
    They bring you up to do
    like your daddy done...

    Isilme says she is going to check out the small lake. She casts some protective spells, including "water breathing" to search the lake bottom for anything interesting. She finds that the lake is only about 10' deep at its deepest point. There are no predators in it, far as she can tell.

    While the others are gone, the party hears a quiet, lone, lonely drumming. It goes on for about 10 minutes, before it stops.

    "It appears we are no longer alone," Berenn states dryly. "I suggest we prepare for visitors."
    In the interests of giving you ADEQUATE info, as opposed to being afraid of giving you too much, I've made this map. I tried it with Fog of War, but it makes it impossible to tell you're in mountains. So, I kinda have to just put the whole thing out there. Just assume that Isilme flies high enough to see basic terrain once in a while, which was the point of her "scouting" anyway!

    It starts at the point where you found the grave. The dashed line is your route. I put labels on for various places/events. I added some post numbers, and I could put more if you want. I didn't think of doing that until about half-way done mapping your progress. Anyway, I hope this helps. I'll add this to the map thread too!

    Here is the key:

    1: first Velnuse camp; grave of Grave of Theodore O'Rorke
    2. second camp of the Velunese
    3. ettin and the giant's cave.
    4. crossroads with tracks going north and west. Party went west.....
    5. point where Berenn noted hobgoblin footprints
    6. battle sight
    7. Mountain pass the party used
    8. Party's camp that night
    9. Next Velunese campsite
    11. clearing from where the party could see the layout of the large valley
    12. Camp on lower hill next to lake

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:20 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:26 am  
    Part 12 - Drums in the Dark

    With the beating drums, Isilme will fly up at altitude and fly back towards the tower. She casts "animal sense - eagle eyesight" to see if she observes anything nearby or at far distance.

    She doesn't see anything in the near vicinity. Remember, it's pretty thick forest throughout here. The area of the lake is about the only real opening in the forest canopy. There are some small clearings, meadows and such, scattered around, but she doesn't see anything that draws her eye. She notes other birds flying around, including Manny's hawks. But in the area around the camp she doesn't see anything.

    However, about 10 miles away to the south, from way down that large valley, she notes smoke rising. It's not a lot, but maybe from a fire. Remember, it's almost dark, and will be shortly, in about an hour, so she can't really see great in the dusk light anyway. Definition is just hard now, and it'll be dark soon.

    Using the Farspeakers, she lets the party know and she flies off that way to investigate.

    Meanwhile, while that's going on Berenn finds that the trail from this camp leads north, into that large wooded valley (NOT the way Isilme is going!).

    "Those drums remind me of a an old story I heard as a young lad.

    There was a barbarian that stayed the night in a cheap tavern in Zelradton, near the Iron Hills run by a nefarious owner named Aram Baksh. As night falls, a Hepmonalandian cannibal enters the barbarian's small chamber by means of a trick lock to drag him away to be eaten. All of the Hepmonalandian slaves in the city are cannibals who roam the streets at night. As they only prey on travelers, the people of the city tolerate this and stay locked securely in their homes, while nomads and beggars make sure to spend the night at a comfortable distance from its walls. Even worse, Aram Baksh has made a deal with the cannibals - he provides them "fresh meat," while he profits from the belongings of the ill-fated guests of his inn. This night, however, the unfortunate cannibal attempts to prey on an armed and wary barbarian, and pays with his life. Realizing the trap his room is, the barbarian takes to the Zelradton streets where he soon rescues a naked woman chasing through the streets after her deranged lover. The barbarian soon takes his revenge on the tavern owner Aram Baksh by cutting out his tongue and shearing off his beard to render him mute and unrecognizable, and turning him over to the hungry cannibals to devour. He leaves the city of Zelradton on his way to other adventures.

    Let's hope those drums aren't man-eating savages ready to consume our party while we sleep."

    "We gonna investigate those drums, or not?" Thorgrim asks.

    "I think if we wait long enough the drums will probably come to us," remarks Berenn sourly.


    Isilme flies off to the south.

    This is her view, looking SSW from just above the small lake where the party is camped. In fact, you can see the lake at the center bottom of the picture. You can see the large, low hill wrapping around it. Then the valley heads off to the south. It is about a mile wide, and totally full of thick forest [despite my modern Google Earth image!] There's a lake in the distance, taking up the entire valley floor, and on the right (west) side smoke is rising.

    When she gets closer, she sees a village on that side of the lake, with large buildings of stone. Smoke rises from a few of them.

    Isilme notes a building far off from the rest (bottom right of image). That building is a farm. There are some fields beyond it, just passed some trees. There are some more fields towards the village. She flies around enough to see ruins too, right up on the water. There are houses scattered about in the village, and a few more farm houses further out, like the one she can see there. The village center has large stone buildings which are almost fortress-like. She sees some people (humans) walking around.

    Isilme lands near the isolated farmhouse and finds a single farmer there, charming him. She ends up scaring him to death when she starts talking to him invisibly. Anyway, without worrying about it like I usually do, she gets that the village is called Hausberg. The people have lived here for hundreds of years, farming the fertile land immediately around the lake and fishing its deep waters. They have no commerce, except some dealings with a tribe of Grugach (wood elves) to the north. They trade them platinum coins which they sometimes find in the lake, and in return the Grugach trade beautiful wooden items. This trade is done by leaving items along the banks of the lake where the party is camped. Each side thus never really meets the other. Other than that, they pretty much just hold to their own, living as they always have.

    No strangers have come this way for many years. When she asks about the Grugach, he says he doesn't know anything else about the elves. They don't interact with them, and the few times people have wandered too far, they were found close to the village, unconscious. So, the elves don't want anything to do with the people directly; certainly, they don't want them in there area.

    Isilme then reports to the party what she has found, gives a warning about the Grugach, and flies back with all haste.


    Back at the campsite, Thorgrim get's Isilme's message through the Farspeaker. "Where you are camped is the land of the grugach Wild elves, specifically they are know to frequent the lakes edge. They are hostile to those who remain there. Be on the alert for great danger! I am 10 miles out, returning now."

    "I suggest we break camp immediately," says Thorgim. "We need to rest elsewhere." Thorgrim gets out his Fortress and selects a clearing near camp but far from the lake. He speaks the word, expanding it to its 30-foot height. "In case we need to fall back to a defensive position," he explains.

    "I say we should leave this camp intact and set up a real camp nearby with no fire and noise," says Berenn. "If these elves are hostile, we can give them one hell of a surprise."

    Miri nods agreement, but it is Elrae who speaks up. "We are trespassing on their land, and this is their turf. They probably have a perimeter around us already. Trying to ambush the ambushers, when they know every inch of this forest will most likely fail. I am thinking the fortress will be the safest bet, if diplomacy fails."

    "Yes, let's move," says Emyn, who has been unusually quiet. "We don't want a battle we can avoid. Especially with **** faeries."

    While flying back, Isilme talks to Thorgrim with the Farspeakers. She tells him that the hill with the lake is "neutral ground" between the elves and the humans to the south.
    view looking south, showing the "border" of the lands around the hill.

    [DM OOC: Remember, IGNORE buildings, roads, farmlands, etc. It's all thick forest! I would try and retouch it all, but that's a pain in the butt. I'll do it here and there, but not for something this big. So, just do the best to "imagine" it as all forest! ]

    Anyway, the hill with the lake is outlined in the middle, and I've put markers to show the lake as well as the party's first camp, BEFORE you move it. I've outlined the rivers and streams. NONE are very big in the first place, but the main one is the one on the bottom, flowing left to right. That's the stream you followed down the mountain, and it's the largest one in the area. There is another stream, about half as big, which is pretty small (and by that I mean you can cross any and all of these without issue!) that flows north (this view is looking south), cuts around the hill, and then joins the main stream just off the map to the bottom-right (which is northwest!). There's another even smaller creek coming down the mountains to the left (from the southeast), which joins that stream just south of the hill.

    Isilme informs you that the streams are the borders. The elf lands are everything NORTH of the main stream and the second one which joins the main stream. The smallest of the three finishes the border of the human lands. The area south of the main stream but EAST of the tributaries is considered neutral, though there are gnolls there. You just walked through the gnoll lands without knowing it! I put labels on all this for you, though I called the gnoll lands "neutral" because they aren't human or elvish. This hill is considered Neutral to the elves and humans and the gnolls stay clear of it too. It is there that the men and elves trade.

    "Both the goblins and the expedition came this way," says Manny, "with no sign they went back. Somehow it doesn't seem likely the Grugach allowed them through, either." Grimly he adds, "Looks like a rough road ahead."

    [DM OOC: It's also nighttime, so you guys can't really see everything that well. The maps I just posted are for you as players. Your characters saw the valley as you descended from the mountains, so this is to make sure that YOU understand its layout. Before you leave, I made sure Berenn noted that the tracks of the Velunese went northwest, into the lands of the Grugach. They camped there next to the lake, where you had initially set up camp, and then moved on to the north. However, at this point that's all you know. ]

    Thorgrim retrieves his fortress, then the party moves south. They follow the creeks as they were informed "likely" by Isilme that they should follow it to the south until they pass the next small creek coming from their left (east). That will bring them into the human lands, and they should be able to safely camp there.

    It's about 6 miles to the southern lake, as the crow flies, and another couple to the human village. This is all pretty inexact, since you all are just walking/flying around at night. However, the party double-times it that way, getting away from the Grugach lands as quickly as possible. They meet Isilme right at the confluence of the two creeks.

    "There are three groups around here," she says, "humans, grugach (wild elves), and gnolls. You have walked right into the central triangle of the three "areas" and have now walked south into the human lands. So, you can decide now if you want to camp there or walk on through the dark of night to the human village on the lake. It's about 4-5 miles away, through the forest. There is a path now, which is the route the humans take to trade with the elves at the hilltop lake you just left."

    Berenn notes that the Velunese did NOT come this way, as he sees NO hoofprints. Actually, there are no recent prints at all, ie in the last few weeks, and what prints there are seem to be lone individuals, certainly not a large party like you've been tracking.

    "Let us camp in the human territory," says Berenn. "I guess we can talk to the villagers in the morning and see if they saw the expedition come through. Either way, we will pick up the trail tomorrow."

    "I'll rest easier not having to worry if Grugach are going to scalp me in my sleep. I am very wary of fey folk, they are so unpredictable," says Elrae.

    "Aye, let's stay put, for the night," agrees Gotrek. " At sunrise, we will move forward."

    Thorgrim sets up the fortress in a defensible spot, and the party settles down for the evening. They still keep a close watch, the drums really having them spooked.

    "I would like to figure out a way around the Grugach," says Berenn as they sit by the fire, "but I don't see a way to do it and not lose the trail we are following."

    "While I wouldn't suggest a Drow would be the best emissary, wouldn't a ranger have some clout to request permission to pass through?" wonders Isilme.

    Manny quickly snorts! "With Grugach? Not really. Wrong race and that's what counts for them. Even other elves aren't really welcome. Could try exchanging a favor or two for a clear path. If they need something, that is."

    "Yeah, heck with it, let's just rush through their lands, maybe set a couple of fires too." says Isilme. "Gotrek needs a good fight."

    Gotrek smiles, until he realizes the drow is being sarcastic. Soon, everyone falls asleep, the sentries keeping their eyes peeled and fingers on weapons, though all they note are the sounds of the forest around them. Once in a while, they think they hear the distant sound of drums, maybe.

    During the night, unbeknownst to everyone else, Manny slipped out of the fortress and headed back to the north. He made his way to the edge of the elf lands, quietly and silently using the elf movement through forest. He tried to make contact with the elves, but met with no luck. When he returned, he related that he did find where a large group had come stumbling out of those lands. They had no horses, it looks to have been 3 weeks or so ago, and he lost their trail as they went into a creek.

    The party chose to head south, to the human settlement, and not pursue the lost trail any further at this time.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:59 am  
    Part 13 - Ammsee

    Starday, 15th of Reaping (582)
    The dawn breaks, and for the first time in over a week there are no clouds. The sun is still beyond the high mountains to the east, and the air is chilly and crisp. However, for the first time weeks you feel...lighter. The stream continues to the south, and the path, though not well-trodden (according to Berenn nobody has walked it in at least a month), it is quite distinct. Even non-trackers could follow it!

    Other than birds chirping and squirrels chittering, you hear nothing but the wind ( blowing from the NW at about 20mph) blowing through the trees.

    Isilme suggests we head to the farmers house that she "befriended". "It is far on the outside of town and on the approach coming from our direction."

    Miri agrees to visiting the farmer. "Its on the way, why not. Than we can get back to tracking the other party."

    "Some civilization would be a good change" says Noot. "A farmer is a start. We could use some local information."

    Isilme flies ahead, getting there in no time. She finds that there are not very many people here at all. She only sees a handful of people scattered among the various farms, but considering the small area, she doesn't estimate too many people, maybe a few hundred at most. This farm is more isolated than others, so the party won't be visible as they approach. She finds the farmer, who is marveling at the new trees (if I read that spell right!).

    Isilme introduces the group to the farmer, and encourages him to answer questions about his native land from the party as they have only his best interests in mind. "In fact," she says, "I have a few. "What gods do those in the city primarily worship? Who is in charge or is known to deal with the grugach elves? How does the town feel about visiting strangers?"

    [DM OOC: I'll just answer them without a long role-playing session.]

    There is no city. It's just a village, Ammsee. The people worship primarily the Oeridian pantheon, with a special reverence to Stern Allia, the Shield Mother. The ruler is Duke Ryror Krorlin, of Ammsee. Nobody deals with the elves, officially. The treaty with the Grugach was concluded generations ago, and nobody has really dealt with them since. A few kids have been caught wandering into Grugach lands and always been left just outside the city, asleep and no worse for wear. Nobody else has talked with them in a generation, as they are reclusive to the extreme and do not tolerate any intruders. As for strangers, the town rarely gets any; however, as long as they are decent, they are treated likewise.

    "Who wouldn't behave so?" asks the farmer, confused with the question.

    This is the view of Varn Zell. Thorgrim and Gotrek notess that Varn means "mountain lake" in dwarvish. The village is named Ammsee. This view is looking almost due south.

    The party is at the single building bottom-center of the image. It is a farm. There are some fields beyond it, just passed some trees. There are some more fields towards the village. You see some ruins too, on a point jutting out into the water; looks like ruins of an old wall. There are large, stone houses scattered about in the village, and a few more farm houses further out, like the one you can see there. The village center has large stone buildings which are almost fortress-like. There are some people (humans) walking around there.

    You head down to the village. The area is mostly trees, with small patches of farmland scattered around. [You can kinda see that on the picture] As you approach the village, you note old ruins to your left, out on a triangular point. It is all old stone construction, walls and such, which are mostly demolished. It seems the people have used the stones to construct their homes.

    When you get to the village itself, you notice that there are maybe a few hundred people. They are primarily fishermen, it seems, judging by the small fishing craft plying the nearby waters of the lake. The locals in the village take instant notice of you, and word of visitors spreads fast. Soon a couple of armed men appear, big mountain types, who ask who you are.

    Miri gets off her horse and says, "Greetings, I am Miri, we are traveling in your area looking for a lost party. It dawns on us that we will need rations and mountain gear before going much farther. Also if you have any information about the group we seek we would be most grateful to hear it."

    They tell you that you are the first travelers to come this way in a generation. "Nobody has ever come from the Grugach lands," they say.

    W"e are impressed with the beauty of your village and with the stone buildings," says Noot. "We would love to learn the history of your village as we travel through the area. We are also looking for an Inn, or at the least, a place where we might purchase supplies."

    "Supplies you can find," says one, but for more, you will need to see the Duke."

    "Then take us to him," says Emyn.

    You are taken to the great block building which apparently serves as the Duke's chateau. It is unlike any other noble palace or estate you've ever seen, just a long block building built of stone. The dwarves think it looks more like a dwarven factory than a chateau.

    Whatever its one-time purpose, once inside you find it looks quite different. While somewhat spartan in appearance, nevertheless, the trappings of wealth are still apparent. Further, arms and armor, mostly of older styles not common for some time, line passages. There are few people within, and you find the Duke has only a handful of servants. Further, they are all youth, children of the village who learn to read and write while serving the Duke's family for a period.

    Duke Ryror Krorlin

    Duke Ryror Krorlin is a large, mountain man, reminding you of Taki though not as big. He wears all his finest clothes, which look like they haven't been worn in a while. He is introduced by a young boy, barely over 10 winters who clearly knows nothing of noble rules of etiquette.

    Helmet in hand, Miri bows in a very formal but manlike bow. "Your honor I am Miri of...of this party and I thank you for seeing us. I know you are busy and we must not take too much of your time. How may we serve you?"

    She knows that she has not presented herself to the party in any way to indicate nobility but before the Duke she feels she must be proper.

    He nods, clearly impressed. "My you are a big one," he says with a slight chuckle. When he sees Miri bristle, he coughs. "Apologies, My Lady," he says. "We do not get many travelers in Ammsee, and none such as yourselves, or you."

    "I guess I am a lot to take in on first glance your honor," she replies. "Allow me to step back and let one of my party speak to our purpose for being here." She steps back.

    Before enterring, Isilme casts Seeming on herself, taking the form of a Grey Elf. The people are surprised to see a "true" elf, and even the half-elves are clearly a bit foreign. They do NOT seem surprised to see dwarves.

    "Maybe you should take the lead here," Isilme whispers to Thorgrim.

    "Hail, fine folk!" says Gotrek, who nudges Thorgrim. Hard.

    "Sorry," says the Duke who realizes he was staring. He bows slightly to Isilme and Manny. "Don't get many elves around here, or anyone else for that matter. What brings you so far into the mountains?"

    Isilme returns the bow and shows her badge of furondy to the Duke. "I am Isilme, friend of the King, here to check on the well being of a noble subject of Furyondy that was part of a large expedition. That expedition sought the horn of Iggwilv, and seem to have met some serious hardships." She waves her hand to encompass the entire party. "Our stalwart party is in this region to track that expedition."

    She introduces Thorgrim directly and says, "This is noble Dwarf Thorgrim, of clan Duerkas. He leads our expedition."

    Thorgrim takes his cue.

    "I am called Thorgrim, of Clan Duerkas, of Dorob Kilthduum. I thank you for the honor of meeting with you. We come here to this hamlet seeking re-supply and information. As to the expedition we track, we know their route came near this way. Did any stop here as they passed? There is perhaps another party shadowing them, that mean them ill. They would be easily recognized as Adventurers, though their evil intent might be harder to discern. They left many Raoans dead at the Monastery of Serene Thought."

    Thorgrim pauses, takes another breath, and waits for a response. Then, "Their trail led us into the lands of the Grugach, with whom we have no quarrel. I understand visitors are unwelcome in their lands. Tell me, how can we travel them without incident? For travel them we must. Is there one of their race who speaks for them all, or how can we arrange such passage? My partners and I," he gestures to the party, "Have learned from hard Experience to always be wary, when dealing with the Fey-kind."

    The Duke listens thoughtfully, then answers. You find that the people here pretty much don't know anything of your lands. Furyondy is barely more than a legend to them. It seems their knowledge and exposure to the world beyond the mountains is as limited as your is OF the mountains! So, while Isilme's "friend of the king" sounds impressive, it doesn't mean much to him. Nor does he recognize Thorgrim's home, thought that's not surprising; people in Verbobonc don't even know about it!

    As for the Grugach, he shakes his head. "If those you seek ventured into the lands of the Grugach," he says, "I am afraid they are likely dead. None here speak with them; our treaty was forged many generations past. They never encroach on our lands, though if they did I doubt we would even know. When one of our own, usually over-curious children, enter theirs, the elves bring them back, depositing them just outside of town with no memories of what happened. That is the extent of our interaction. We do trade, at times, but even that is done without actual contact. We leave platinum coins at the lake on the hill, and when we return they leave us various items, beautifully crafted of wood. Our best bows and spears are of Grugach make, along with various other items they leave us. At times they leave things there, and we simply repay with platinum. It is a simple, if oddly random, exchange."

    Emyn bows and says, "My Lord, I am Emyn Frel, Avenger of Trithereon. Thank you for welcoming us into your hall."

    He nods to Emyn, though it seems the faith of Trithereon is unknown here. These folk worship the old Oeridian pantheon, and pay special homage to Stern Allia, the mother of Hextor and Heironeous.

    "Do you have a sense of the breadth of the Grugach lands, milord?" continues Emyn. "I am wondering if we could bypass them and take up the trail once we are past them."

    "The lands to the north and west are mostly theirs," he says. "To the south lies the Salach Valley, named for the river which flows through it on it's way east and south. The mountains between them are unclaimed, if that is what you mean. So, the Grugach do not claim the mountains to the west, but where their lands end is unknown."

    [DM OOC: These people don't wander from their village, and there is little civilization here. People in these parts (and other folk too) pretty much stay put. So, you aren't going to get much help information-wise."

    "You may find more from the Duke of Karprun, across the valley to the south," he adds. "He may know of a way around the mountains to the south. Otherwise, you will have to follow the Salach west, around the mountains. I cannot really say what lies there."

    "And what lies to the southwest towards the Horn?" asks Emyn.

    "Mountains higher than anywhere else," he replies. "You can see them from town, with snow on them even now. You can see them from the village, looking to the south."

    They are the largest mountains you've ever seen, probably well over 10,000' at their high peaks. He knows nothing of what lies beyond them. You all have to remember, this area is now wilderness. They have virtually no contact with anyone. All the civilized lands from which you came are virtually unknown to them. They barely know their few neighbors. They probably almost never leave their village, maybe for generations! That's really how people often lived in these places until very recently. Heck, I met a guy from China not long ago; he hadn't left his village in the mountains until he was 20!

    Anyway, you did get some info. You now know the basic direction of the Horn. It's not the same direction the Velunese went. However, it's very possible they didn't know where it was yet and went the wrong way. Who knows?

    "I know it is in opposite direction, but I don't think we should give up following the expedition until we know their fate," says Berenn aside to Isilme. "If there are survivors, they will be of assistance. If they are not, then we can report back for certain of their demise."

    "I don't like the implications," says Isilme, "but I agree with this line of thinking."

    Hearing them, Emyn presses the Duke. "Milord, I know that your people have little formal contact with the Grugach but is there a way for you to get in contact with them if the need arises? I am wondering if we might barter our passage through their lands, as I have some platinum and we may be able to find an equitable trade."

    "No," he says flatly. "We do not speak with them, nor ever even see them. Other than the little trade between our peoples, we leave each other be. I know not how to approach them, nor would I except in but the most dire of situations. I'm sorry."

    Having overheard the talk about the Velunese, the duke reveals that they did find some horses about three weeks ago. "A couple of mountain ponies and what could only be a lowland warhorse were found across the lake," he says. "They were spotted by fisherman who were able to retrieve them and bring them here. They were saddled, laden with mountain gear, and wandering alone. We had no idea from whence they came," he says, "but now it seems they must have been from the group you are following."

    One was a soldier's horse. You can tell by the gear which was given to the Duke, but it's not "knightly" stuff. The other two are just ponies with standard gear (blankets, food, etc.). There's nothing special about them. The fisherman took that stuff. The horses went to the Duke, who always wanted a warhorse. The ponies will just be used around the village or maybe for trade or something.

    "My Lord, if it isn't too large of an imposition, we would like to keep our horses here until our return." Berenn requests "If you could also keep the horses and the equipment of the other expedition safe, it would be greatly appreciated. If no one returns to came the gear within a month's time, I doubt anyone would dispute you claim to it, with the exception being personal effects which should be returned to the family of the fallen."

    "Might I propose an alternative?" says Isilme. "There is no reason to travel the same route they did, clearly they did not find this town or get better directions like we have. We may find that in the end they arrived at the same destination but by a much longer and more dangerous road."

    "This seems like a more sound idea than barging onto the Grugach's lands," reasons Berenn, clearly uneasy with the idea of crossing paths with Grugach. "At least it may provide us a way of picking up their trail again without the possibility of an incident."

    "The only reason the Velunese (and Furyondians, I leave them out all the time, but they are part of the expedetion too!) left was to keep the Iuzians from finding the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and getting Iggwilv's lost treasure. "You all seem to have forgotten that," says Sir Godwynn. "The leaders of Veluna are worried because they have heard nothing in a month and could not scry them either. So, we were sent not just to find out what happened to them, but to also complete their mission, if necessary."

    He turns around, looking each member of the party in the eye. "We have lost their trail, and they may have lost their very lives. Thus, reasons says we make for the Horn and complete their mission. If we find them on the way, or at the Horn, then so be it. It is in the hands of the Gods."

    "The paladin makes a valid point," says Isilme. "It is imperative we reach the Horn and the Lost Caverns before the allies of Iuz, or at least in time to stop them from taking whatever it is they seek. We may have the advantage here, everyone is using the odd map and traversing hostile territory, we seem to be the only ones who have made it here, and been directed to the exact location. We should press this advantage, especially since we are trailing both expeditions."

    That evening, after we've re-supplied, Thorgrim makes sure to gather everyone together to discuss these matters in private. "Sir Godwynn makes a good point," Thorgrim says, slowly stroking his beard. "My compassion for others has shrouded my eyes from our primary goal. I swear it will be the death of me!" he says, pounding his fist into his palm.

    "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. And the fate of the world hangs in the balance."

    "As always," mutters Noot.

    "I now say we follow our usual tactic of seeking the heart of the matter, of striking the head of the serpent," says Thorgrim, ignoring, or not hearing, Noot. "It has served us well in the past. Nevertheless, I will cast stones on it."

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole and removes his runestones. He sits in quiet contemplation for a long while, then casts Augury, rolling the runes through his fingers as he says the chant, praying for clarity in his vision. "What happens if we follow the path of the Velunese expedition?" he asks aloud, and he casts the runes.

    "WOE!" he says, after consulting the runes. "I am not inclined to go against the will of Clanggedin, when he chooses to guide me," Thorgrim says to Berenn. "I believe our present path is clear. I, too, desire to discover the fate of the Velunese expedition, but our true goal is more pressing. And I believe I can already tell you their fate."

    "WOE" might mean Giants, and other things worth killing," argues Gotrek." When nobody says anything, he shrugs. "Just pick a direction. Their path is old. Their horses were found. Two ominous signs. By Clangeddin, and going the wrong way. Let's go to find the Horn, then."

    "Woe in this case is more likely to mean many arrows," says Manny. "That the expedition went into elf lands without permission strongly suggests they went no further."

    "Mm!" Thorgrim grunts. "Indeed." He puffs his pipe, and looks at Isilme.

    "I think we can leave the expedition trail for another day," says Berenn.

    "And what of your oath to the prelate to find the expedition?" asks Emyn.

    Thorgrim replies first. "'Twas Sir Godwynn convinced me to seek first the Horn, and worry about the soldiers later...indeed, 'tis true: they are both capable, and armed." He looks at Godwynn.

    "And I still think it's important to follow up on that," Sir Godwynn replies. "However, more dire consequences will result from preventing our enemies in their mission than will result in a delay following up on the outcome of the expedition. I hate to be in a position to chose between the two, but I still hold to the belief that reaching the Horn has to be our primary goal."

    With the party set on its course despite his protestations, Emyn lets up and will do as the party bids. "Let's repair to our rooms and head southwest tomorrow,"says Emyn. "I would say that the Velunese expeditions is lost with no expectation of recovery given they entered hostile lands and cannot be scried. All we would get for following that trail is a pointless death ourselves. Let's do what we can to complete their work."

    As everyone goes to sleep, Isilme seeks out the chuch here. It is another large, block building. There is little of artistic expression here, these hardy folk using old stones to create strong buildings that are almost mini-fortresses. One such, a bit bigger than the others, is the church of Stern Alia. Within, Isilme finds the priests, Harda Loeddegar. She is a large woman, not like Miri but bigger than most, who seems part-warrior. She greets Isilme (and whoever goes with her, if anyone) in the name of Stern Alia. Nobody knows much about this goddess, except she is an Oeridian one, and the mother of Heironeous and Hextor. She's not singled-out as a major power anywhere, nor does anyone recall ever seeing one of her churches anywhere.

    Isilme greets the priestess with respect and reverence and tells her the some story as explained to the duke. She then continues, "I was hoping you have a passed down written or oral tradition about the Horn of Iggwilv or the Caverns of Tsjoanth, and what we might find there, or how to find our way there? Also, I am interested in your towns history - the ruins, the platinum in the lake? What was this place before and what happened here?"

    She doesn't know anything in particular about the Horn. As I said, nobody really travels. It is a long way from here, many days to the southwest. As for the village, she can tell you what was handed down. This entire area was once rules by Iggwilv. With the fall of her "empire" many centuries ago, the Yatils were plunged into chaos. Men, dwarves, hobgoblins, all the races split and warred amongst themselves. Eventually, things settled down, with various groups holding tight to their lands, while others found new places to call home. There has been no authority over these lands since those days, and few from the Lowlands (that's everywhere NOT in the mountains!) travel here except as hunters, trappers, or treasure seekers. Most are never heard from again.

    Ammsee was a stronger place, with some fortified buildings like the Duke's Palace. There were other buildings, either destroyed by time or ravages long past, which the surviving folk used to build their own homes. The people have thrived here, with fertile soil, a bountiful lake, and strong defenses. The borders are relatively safe, mostly thanks to the Grugach to the north. Nobody and nothing comes from that direction. The gnolls stay to their lands too. The people here have good relations with the Duchy of Karprun to the south, and freely trade with them for various items. From them they often get items of dwarven make, while the Ammsee folk trade some of the elven items they get from the Grugach.

    The platinum comes from the bottom of the lake. Fisherman drop buckets to the bottom and drag the floor of the lake, sometimes bringing in old platinum coins from Iggwilv's empire.

    "It is peaceful here," says Isilme finally. "Perhaps if we survive I may return alone someday and find rest here. Thank you for your time priestess," she says, bowing, and then returns to the party.

    Well, after a long session questions, it sounds like enough want to go straight for the horn, so that's cool. You can reprovision here. The people do not have much, but they share willingly what they do have. You can replenish your stores of food here, with dried fish, some not-so-great bread, etc. Who exactly knows? Suffice to say, you can have your full two weeks of provisions replenished. They tell you that water should be easily enough found. For one thing, you'll be following the river south, and there should be ample water still flowing from the Banners. That's what they call these mountains, because they seem to have long pennants flying from their peaks as fierce winds blow the perpetual snows. [Hey, look it up!]

    They have no idea what you will find beyond them, or even how to get through or around them. Like I said, these people do not get out much. Their advice is to head for Karprun, where you should find better information. There is a track that leads south, following the river from the lake to where it joins the Salach. Head west and you will see Karprun Keep to the south.
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    Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:00 pm  
    Part 14 - Karprun

    Sunday, 16th of Reaping (582)
    The dawn breaks to another clear day. The wind blows strongly from the north (about 35mph). The path leads south, following a stream which flows out of the the lake, dropping slightly into a broad valley which is mostly forested. A large stream runs down the center of the valley, and the path crosses it at a ford, just west of where the two rivers meet. There is a small village there, with very few buildings, but a handful of farms, scattered around a large area mostly cleared of trees.

    The farmers don't have much to add, though they are quite surprised to see the party. You guys really stand out! They haven't seen anyone come by here in years, in case you wonder. They do tell you the way to Karprun, which is the duke's chateau. It lies up a valley to the southwest, and I marked it on the following map.

    Here's a map to show where you are going. You spend the night in Ammsee, on the west shore of the lake. You can see where Karprun is to the southwest. I also indicated where the velunese went. I think it's about 5 miles to Karprun, so you should make it there by about noon, unless you get sidetracked.....

    Miri looks for someone in charge, but find there is nobody in charge. It's just a village of farmers. They point to the valley to the southwest. That's where the Duke lives, in Karprun. Miri thanks them and presses on.

    The party has moved south, and has entered the Salach Valley and crossed the Salach River. It is much bigger than any of the streams you have passed already, being a true river. It's not the Mississippi or anything, but it's big. It's easily crossed now at the ford, but probably wouldn't be when if it rises. So, you are on the south side, and there is an overgrown road along the valley floor. Though the valley is mostly full of trees, there are patches of cleared land with scattered farms. This area is much more densely settled than the area around Ammsee. Further, this road was once a large road, and well-used, though now almost completely overgrown with young trees. Still, it's an easily followed path, and indicates this was once a larger, more settled place. It only takes a few hours to follow the road to where it splits. A more used path leads south, up a valley to where the villagers said you'd find Karprun. The old unused and overgrown road continues west along the wide flat floor of the Salach Valley.

    "Well," says Manny, "the only major roads built through this area was back in Iggwilv's reign. Should we follow the old road or go visit the local ruler?"

    "Let us go to Karpun and see what we can learn," says Emyn. "Maybe they know where this other fork leads."

    It doesn't take long to reach the castle. It sits on a small ridge about 200' above the valley floor, with the mountains rising steeply beyond it.
    You can see the valley continuing south, leading to massive mountains, far taller than any you've seen before, which yet have snow on their upper reaches. (not as much as in this photo, but some. )

    You meet the local ruler, Duke Æthelric of Karprun.

    Duke Æthelric and his daughter

    The duke is a stern older guy, very tough and battle-hardened. He doesn't really care about your journey, preferring the "leave anything to do with Iggwilv alone" approach. However, his daughter Borghildr does want to help you. She implores him to help you, and he decides that he will. You are told that there are only three ways to the south from here. The easiest is to follow the Salach west. The great valley will eventually take you all the way around the Banners (that's the great mountains to your immediate south.) The next is to go back to the east, along the Salach. There is a little-used track which goes over a high mountain pass. It will lead you a bit further east, but you'll clear the main mountains that way. The third route, not really an option to others, but maybe to you, is to take the road to Azcral. Thorgrim and Gotrek look at each for the name is dwarven, literally meaning Rock Hall. It is a dwarven kingdom beneath the Banners. If the dwarves allow passage, you can literally pass under the mountains.

    We thank the Duke and his daughter for their assistance. I imagine it will be hard to talk Thorgrim and Gotrek out of visiting the dwarves, it also seems to be the easiest path if we can get passage through.

    "I would support taking the road to the Dwarven kingdom," says Emyn. "My Lord, I assume the road of which you speak is the one the branches off a few miles back? If so, may I ask why it is so overgrown? I understood dwarves to be eager to trade and the road should be a trade route."

    "I hope we don't run into a Balor named 'Gortek's Bane' when traversing under the mountain. We don't have a great wizard in our party to shout, 'You shall not pass!'"

    [DM OOC: Luckily, the DM will ignore such posts!]

    "The road you were on goes the length of the Salach Valley," says Borghildr. "The valley goes east/west, maybe 50 to 100 miles in total. It was a main road in the days when this land was a united kingdom, during the reign of the witch-queen Iggwilv. It is barely used now, only by traders from the scattered clans left in the valley like ours. The road splits off about 10 miles to the west, the branch leading south to the dwarf kingdom clearly marked, even now."

    "Wasn't that one of the Dwarf Kingdoms Iggwilv destroyed?" asks Manny. "Did they recover or is it still infested with Iggwilv's minions and creations?"

    They doesn't know about that. From what the Duke understands the dwarves successfully resisted Iggwilv's attempts to defeat them.

    "Which is the best way to the Horn of Iggwilv?" asks Miri shortly.

    "There is no telling," replies the king brusquely. "It depends what you think best means. By shortest, it's probably through the dwarf kingdom, if they let you through. The safest and easiest is the longer route around the Banners by using the Salach Valley, looping around to the west. The way over the pass is probably in-between, but also harder in that you have to actually cross the mountains."

    Miri says, "Thank you my lord." Miri votes to try the dwarf kingdom path, if our dwarves think we will be allowed by the other dwarves.

    "I don't like mountain passes," says Noot. "Always dangerous, and they're all full of spiders. I vote to try the dwarven road."

    "Aye, Noot," replies Emyn. "and prone to avalanches, rockslides and the like. You can fight a monster or a man but only a fool fights a mountain."

    "You will notice he said safest is around," says Manny. "In-between is the mountain passes, so the most dangerous and possibly hardest is the dwarf passages. But I'll come along, which ever way you choose."

    "Let us take the shortest route, and pray it will be swiftest," Thorgrim says. "Time is of the essence."

    "Agreed" replies Godwynn.

    You can continue right away, with there still being maybe half a day's light. The party takes their leave of Karprun and continues west, following the river until the evening. The farms gradually disappear, until you are once again traveling in completely unsettled areas. You see small ruined buildings here and there, but nothing you could even really investigate. They are mostly just half-collapsed old farmhouses. As you go to sleep, you hear loud baying of wolves in the area. Sounds like there are a lot of them!

    Thorgrim takes out his fortress, setting it up beneath the thick forest canopy. "This works much better," he says. "Besides, with this forest, you can't see it from above anyway."

    With that, the party can sleep easily enough. There are no encounters in the evening.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:22 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:01 am  
    Part 15 - The Azcral

    Moonday, 17th of Reaping (582)
    The party wakes in the morning to a much colder day. It is maybe 30* with a cold wind whipping down the valley at about 20mph. After getting ready, the party sets out to the west. The old road is easily followed, though nearly completely overgrown after hundreds of years of neglect. It takes about half a day to reach the statue. It stands to the left side of the road, marking a southerly branch.

    The head is smashed into pieces, all of which lie at the base of the statue. The hand, once holding a hammer high, has also been knocked off and lies on the ground beside it.

    "This statue has the appearance of a Dwarven Warrior," Thorgrim says. He looks more closely to see if he can learn anything about it. "It just says 'Azcral' on it in dwarven," he says.

    Isilme inspects it, determines that there are no secret compartments, and also that all the pieces are there. She gathers them up, then casts Mending, repairing the statue to its original condition.

    Miri says to Isilme, "Thank you for doing this, it is always good to honor a hero."

    Thorgrim chuckles. "It was just a marker to show the way," he says.

    "I wonder who or what was so disrespectful towards Azcral," muses Elrae. "I really hate vandals."

    "Iggwilv or her minions most likely," replies Manny, eyeing the surrounding mountains. "Let's hope they don't hold sway here."

    "Or any random humanoid who hates dwarves." says Emyn.

    "Never heard of these Azcral," says Gotrek. "Thorgrim?" he asks, looking at him.

    "Nay, nor I," he replies.

    Manny knows a bit about Azcral. "It was an old dwarf kingdom somewhere in the Yatils," he says. "It was supposedly destroyed by Iggwilv's armies, which included many hobgoblins. They were famous in the area for their weapons. It was especially known for a unique metal, Adarcer, which was stronger than iron."

    Gotrek's eyes light up. When he hears of Adarcer, Gotrek remembers a white hammer wielded by another dwarf he met long ago in the south. He saw it regularly shatter iron weapons, and he marveled at its strength. The dwarf told him it was made of Adarcer, a rare metal from the north, the secret of which was lost long ago.

    Thorgrim just shrugs. "Tales for kids," he mutters, nods to Isilme, then starts walking. "Let's go."

    It takes the rest of the day to march up the long, southern valley. The road quickly leaves the forested floor of the Salach and rises steeply as it follows a swiftly flowing stream, tumbling north from the head of this valley. The road itself is cut into the mountainside. Gotrek and Thorgrim note the craftsmanship, for the stone is carved to look like large paving stones while it is, actually, one long solid stone road. There are cuts across it at various points to allow for expansion and contraction, and a few places show excellent repairs that even a dwarf would be hard-pressed to notice. In some places the road is cut through the mountainside itself, forming a long half-tunnel, open on the left side.

    When you pass these spots, Gotrek spots cleverly disguised murder-holes in the ceiling.

    "Do you think there is an extensive fortification here?" Isilme asks gotrek and Throgrim.

    When they shrug, she casts Wraithform and flows through the holes to investigate. There she finds extensive tunnels. They are small, barely big enough for dwarves. They lead to larger tunnels which run parallel to the road. She sees more spyholes at various points. There are storerooms nearby with barrels of oil and strange bellows like devices that look like they could spray the oil through the holes. [DM OOC: Basically, they are dwarven flamethrowers!]

    The various sections are also able to be blocked off by clever trap releases, similar to those you all found in the Kobold Fortress of Doom. So each of these areas, if somehow lost, could be sealed entirely.

    "No defenders and the statue was never repaired," says Manny, shaking his head. "Both are bad signs that the Kingdom never recovered." Manny sends the hawk out a mile or so, to see if there are any creatures out and about. The party will continue moving while we wait for our scouts.

    Manny's hawk Wilbarra flies out, returning about the same time as Isilme. Neither saw anything. Isilme doesn't see any signs of dwarves in the side tunnels.

    "Very old defensive fortifications up there," she says, "but there doesn't seem to be anyone around. Let's move on."

    It will take the rest of the day to reach the end of the valley. Walking along is easy enough, as the road is so perfectly cut. By the time the party reaches the end, the sun has set behind the great towering mountains above. The road leads up over a wide ledge that spans the entire valley, about 200' wide at this point near its southern end. The mountains tower a good mile or more above you at this point, the peaks mostly lost in fog and cloud. When you crest the top of the ledge, you see that there is a wide basin beyond it, filled with water. It covers the entire valley, from cliffside to cliffside. Beyond the lake is a massive stone wall, which also spans the entire valley. Huge round towers dominate each end of the wall, built right into the cliffs themselves. The road itself turns left, crossing the valley to the far (eastern) side, where it leads to the farthest tower.

    The road would be just off the image to the left. It is, in fact, the top of what amounts to a dam, creating this moat across the valley and protecting the wall. The approach forces one to cross from the western side of the valley to the eastern side, about 200', always under fire from two towers and the wall. Then the road enters the far tower.

    "Do we wait for morning or risk the run under unknown eyes in the fading light?" asks Manny. As if to punctuate his question, you again hear wolves, this time behind you back down the valley. There seem to be a lot of them.

    Gotrek and Thorgrim both look approvingly upon the fortifications. "An approaching army would be funneled along that road for what, ten miles?" says Thorgrim, glancing back down the valley. "Hidden spy holes, murder holes for burning oil, and who knows what else would take their toll, and any which reach the end would be hard-pressed to pass these walls."

    "You would have to cross all the way from here to to the far side," says Gotrek, pointing across the top of the dam to the far side of the valley a few hundred feet away. "All the while under fire from the towers and the wall. Not easy."

    Manny makes noises with the hawk for a minute or two. "He says something moves up there in the western tower. Do we try the long walk?"

    [DM OOC: Just so you know, the western tower is the one directly across from you. It's about 100' across the moat/lake to the tower from where you are, or you can make the long walk around to the other side, then back along the top of the wall. The movement you saw was in the near (western) tower, directly across the moat from you. The road came down the right (western) side of the valley. When it reached the moat and dam, it turned left, crossing to the left (eastern) side. There is a tower there, and the road seems to turn and enter the tower there. There's another tower on this side too, as seen in the photo, with a wall stretching between them, totally closing off the rest of the valley beyond it. Further, there's a lake/moat in front of the wall, also stretching all the way across the valley and about 100' wide, with a spillway in the middle, crossed by a small bridge.

    So there's no way to approach the wall or the tower ahead of you, since it's protected by the moat. Without magic, like flying, or boats, you will have to cross the dam, get through the far tower, then cross back to this side, either atop the wall or beyond it.]

    "Looks like we found a place where that water walking ring is handy" Isilme says to Thorgrim. " I can cast fly and invisibility and far talker and fly up high enough to observe the entire area to assess the situation and then investigate the area ahead." She looks around, then adds. "I can at least check to see what our best option is."

    As Isilme speaks, but before she casts any spells, there is a sudden bustle of movement. Along the top of the tower, and spreading out along the wall, a line of armored figures rush forth, metal clanking on metal as they take up defensive positions.

    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:50 am  
    Part 16 - Under the Mountain

    "Somebody better speak to these dwarves," says Isilme.

    Bow in hand, arrow nocked, Berenn agrees. "I think you talk to these guys Thorgrim, before they attack."

    "Well, there is the water between here and there." Manny sends up the hawk again. "My worry is they waited 'til sundown to move outside. Dwarves don't worry about sunlight."

    "I can fly one of you up to speak if you wish," says Isilme.

    "We've tipped our hand, best speak to these lads," Thorgrim says. "Gotrek, you're up front with me. The rest of you fall in rank behind. We cross the bridge together. No matter what is said," he says, looking at the newcomers, then at Gotrek, then at Emyn, "Don't do anything rash."

    When we get within hearing range, Thorgrim will shout, "Hail! We seek entry into these lands! To whom must I speak?"

    The dwarves call back across the moat, asking who you are and what your business is in Azcral.

    "We are called the Heroes of Hommlet," Thorgrim replies. "Our business is to travel through your lands to our destination, neither staying nor tarrying long."

    They seems surprised, seeing other dwarves, and after conferring amongst themselves, their leader calls back. "The dwarves may come forward, the rest stay where you are."

    Thorgrim nudges Gotrek, and they both advance. "So sending the dwarves out first WAS a good idea," says Manny. "How about that."

    They follow the road across the dam. When they cross the bridge in the center, Thorgrim imagines the bridge can likely be collapsed, thus making any advance even more difficult. On the other side, they are met at the tower, where the road turns around and goes through the tower. A massive portcullis raises, actually a series of them, allowing entry through a gatehouse with arrow slits, murder holes, etc. Thorgrim and Gotrek just smile as they pass through. On the other side the road leads alongside the wall, back to the western tower. There's a ramp to a gate, about halfway up the tower, built into the mountainside. They climb up the ramp and are met at the top by a handful of armored dwarves. Their normally dour nature is shunted aside by their interest in the two very different dwarves.

    "A priest of Clanggedin and a Battlerager," says the leader, striding forward. "Not what one would expect from the first of our kin to call upon us in over two hundred years."

    "Indeed," Thorgrim replies. "Clanggedin has woven our Fate together, the better to serve Him. Two hundred years, has it been so long? We are well met, then."

    "Well," he says, ordering in a loud, clear voice, "Don't keep 'em waitin' you luggards! Get our kin something to drink!"

    The dwarves cheer, many rushing up and clapping Thorgrim and Gotrek in embraces, slapping their shoulders, etc. while others rush off to get some ale. You gather quickly that they have not seen any other dwarves in a long time, for most of these dwarfs most likely for their entire lives. The others return with small kegs of ale, which they pour out into tankards that the rest produce from who knows where. The dwarves all relax, sharing a long-sought moment, when one notices the rest of the party still waiting beyond the moat.

    "What about thems?" he asks.

    "Suren they be friends a yers," says the leader, "they are welcome in Azcral." The dwarves then call the rest of the party forward.

    Miri comes across and thanks the dwarves for their hospitality, takes a mug and drinks it slowly. She likes her ale but when you are on duty someone needs to keep a clear head. If asked about her slow drinking she will say that.

    Gotrek smiles. "If we knew ye were here, we would have come and visit sooner!" Gotrek looks around. "I am truly impressed my the defenses you have constructed here. By Clangeddin, the stones would turn the color of red, from anyone trying to conquer ye!"

    Gotrek then laughs. "Thank ye for your hospitality! Who wants some gutshaker?"

    They look at each other, and a few actually blanche at the prospect. "None but a Rager can stomach that rot," says one, handing Gotrek a tankard. "You can keep it!"

    The dwarves look at Isilme and Manny with interest, not having seen elves in a long generation. They knew men still lived in the lowlands, but the dwarves have stayed to themselves. They are impressed with the giant woman too! A dwarven priest appears, and he asks the party to submit to divinations before they be allowed entry to Azcral.

    Gotrek kneels on the ground. He gestures at the rest of the party to do the same. As they do, the dwarf priest recognizes the symbol of Rao on Sir Godwynn's shield and looks surprised. "I was not aware there were warriors in the service of Rao," he remarks as he casts divinations to look into the party's auras. "Can that much have changed in Ferrond?"

    [DM OOC: In case you guys have paid little attention to all the history stuff I post... Yeah, I know you ignore it! Ferrond was the original name of the combined kingdom which broke away from the Great Kingdom in 253 CY (500 years ago!). It comprised present day Furyondy, Veluna, Bissel, Highfolk, Perrenland, Shield Lands, Verbobonc, and Dyvers. Ferrond officially broke apart in the 450s with the secession of Veluna as an independent state.]

    [Manny OOC: HAH! I'm a history buff. Of course I read it! It's Gygax's version of the fall of Rome!]

    Thorgrim drinks his fill, asking the Dwarves to tell him how they have survived and lived here these past hundreds of years. "Tales have been told of your utter destruction, that you were wiped from the face of the Oearth," he says. "How do you live in such isolation?" He cannot shake the feeling that he is in some sort of Ghost Kingdom, and that these are mere shades. He then relates the tale of the Fall of Dorob Kilthduum, and his dreams of repossessing it.

    At one point, he stands upright. "But this reunion is a time for celebration, not for tales of woe. It calls for something special." He extracts his Portable Hole from his boot, and lays it flat. He descends down the staircase, stops halfway and pulls a drawer, then descends the rest and opens another. The other Dwarves peer over the lip in curiosity. Thorgrim returns, holding a box and his dragonbone pipe. He then tucks the Hole into his breastplate. He fills his pipe with Old Toby, and shares it with those who will. He sits deep in thought for a long while.

    Emyn bows and submits to the divination. "Your defenses are very impressive, master dwarves, as is your hospitality. I am glad not to count you among our foes."

    "And that we are not," says Miri, standing up to her full, domineering height. "Safe passage through to the Horn of Iggwilv and completion of our sacred mission is what we seek. The completion of which will safeguard your kingdom."

    Thorgrim sighs after Miri spoke. "Aye, 'tis true." He looks at the priest. "Clanggedin guided me here, and I'm sure Moradin speeds us on our course, as well. We seek to thwart Iuz and his whore mother in every way possible, lest She hold sway over the world. That is why we seek Her Horn. I am but an Axe of Clanggedin, and this" --he stands again and extends his arm-- "is my instrument of devotion. DRAS!" As he speaks the command word, Souldrinker appears in his hand. He raises it high, then reverses his grip and presents it to the Dwarven leader. "It bears my witness."

    Later on, he will take "Boneripper," his +2 Morning Star of ancient Dwarven make, out of its box. "I ask this of every one who might know. Can you tell me anything about it, its history?" After that, he will talk of forging weapons, and will inquire about ardacer.

    Later, when the barrel of ale is running low..."Another barrel! And two that are empty!"

    The Dwarven leader looks surprised, then nods to a few of his men, who trundle off to retrieve it. He can't help but suppress a chuckle. "What are the empty ones for...your gorge? Haw haw you may need them, yet."

    The other Dwarves return, rolling a full barrel between them. Thorgrim casts Blessed Abundance, and now there are three. He drinks no more, that we may leave them with more than they started with.

    After doing all of the necessary diplomatic procedures, Elrae grabs his paper and quill and starts taking notes. "A historical moment like this needs to be recorded, in the form of an epic poem."

    Berenn remains quiet during most of the exchange, however he noticeably winces when he hears Elrae is about to embark on another epic fail of a poem. He mumbles something about his ears not being able to take much more.

    "Berenn I am here to record your adventures and ultimately your glorious death for generations to come."

    Isilme laughs out loud as this but remains relatively quiet, allowing the dwarves to reconnect with their kin.

    "Glorious death? I plan on passing away at a very old age, long after you are in the ground and unable to annoy anyone with your music," Berenn retorts. "Keep making remarks like that and you will meet an untimely end and the company will be down lousy minstrel!" There is a gleam in Berenn's eyes and a devilish grin on his lips as he contemplates the possibility of Elrae's "untimely" demise.

    "Worry not, Sir Berenn," says Emyn. "Elrae's songs and tales will outlive us all."

    Berenn just shakes his head and mumbles something about no accounting for good taste.

    Gotrek looks at Berenn. He grunts. He does not look happy as he then returns his attention to the Azcral. "Aye, well forged weapons, tis true." Gotrek shows off Goreblade. "A lot of scum have fallen by this blade, in honor of Clangeddin. A true Giant Killer, this here be." He pauses. " I have made this armor, with my own hand. Tis spell enforced, as well. It forewarns me when elves or orcs are around. It also aids me against cold and fire spells."

    Gotrek gestures down at his plate mail. "At the time, I thought it was a marvel. But now, my skills are MUCH better in the forge. And since me enemies are stronger as well, perhaps I should enhance my defenses as well." He looks around. "Though the forging of this armor surely had Clangeddin's blessing." Gotrek points to the etching in his plate mail. Two axes crossed, in tribute to Clangeddin.

    The dwarves are astounded by Goreblade. Another old dwarf, Glorval Coldstriker, whom you learn is the Master Weaponsmith of Clan Duergirn, actually gasps when he sees it. He comes forward, asking to hold it, and when Gotrek hands Goreblade to him, he takes it like it were a holy relic. He turns it over in his hands, admiring every nuance of the weapon, its edge, weight, etc., before finally looking at Gotrek. "This is Gilnor," he says, "Fiery Mithril. I have only seen pictures of it, for we know not the secrets of its use. It was used in the most ancient and powerful forgings, the ore taken from the molten heart of the world itself." He hands Goreblade back to Gotrek, still awed by the weapon.

    Gotrek looks stunned. He is STRUCK humble by what Clangeddin gave him the vision to seek. He looks down at Goreblade, almost anew.

    "Aye," he whispers, as he holds it, fondly in his rough hands. "Clangeddin has surely honored me."

    Miri almost says something about adamantium but thinks keeping her mouth shut is best. She gets another ale staying away from the gutshaker; she still remembers her first and only sip of that strange brew.

    [DM OOC: Well, in the interests of time, considering my current schedule, I'm going to put your posts all together and deal with them this way. If I leave anyone out, I apologize; however, I don't think there was anything else that needed an answer/comment. If I missed something, let me know.]

    Thorgrim's tobacco turns out to be a HUGE deal. The dwarves have been without pipeweed for hundreds of years. For most, that is their entire lives. A few older ones, including the Thrrak Blackhammer, Captain of the Guard and Seneschal of the house of Duergirn (that's the name of the dwarf clan here) think they've died and gone to Moradin's Forge. He asks what Thorgrim wants for the Old Toby. The other dwarves who tried it start arguing immediately, bidding higher and higher amounts.

    The revelry is interrupted by an old, authoritative voice. "I shall try this Toby," says an aged dwarf with a crown of white metal plates on his head.

    "King Falal (Strongforge in Dwarven)," murmur the dwarves, giving way to their king.

    He tries the Toby, puffing out perfect rings. "Ah, but it's been some time," he says, his voice cracking with ancient memory. "Yes, this is the good stuff. Whatever you want in trade, it shall be yours for the rest of your stores."

    Also, Thorgrim shows the dwarves his morningstar, Boneripper. They note that it is of dwarven make, enchanted with ancient battle runes. "It's not Ardacer," says one of the dwarves, "but it'll do."

    You also learn that the Azcral have not left this fortress, except to check out the surrounding valley, for centuries. They suffered greatly under Iggwilv's assaults, almost losing their hall to her minions. The older generation is almost gone, however, and the younger generation is aching to explore the world around them. It seems there is growing dissatisfaction with the policy of withdrawl from the surface world. The dwarves once sold their weapons for great profit, as Ardacer was so highly prized. If things have changed outside, this could definitely be the time to reopen trade with the outside world, especially if it means a steady supply of Old Toby!

    "The king does not believe we should interact with the surface dwellers," says one of the younger warriors, obviously disagreeing. He is instantly shushed by Thrrak, who dresses him down with a look. There clearly are two camps here, one that wants to end isolation, and one that does not.

    Thorgrim relaxes when the king comes forth. When the king makes his offer, Thorgrim starts to choke and cough, and has to hand his pipe away quickly to avoid spilling it. "That's five months' supply!" he exclaims, then catches his breath. There is a glint in his eye.

    "But...As I told your kin, it's not for sale."

    The king's eyes widen in surprise, but Thorgrim continues, "Still, I cannot refuse your offer. It is yours, my gift to you. A token of the friendship between Clan Duergirn and Clan Duerkas, yet to be reborn."

    The dwarves stand shocked, then burst into cheers, raising mugs to Thorgrim.

    "I will bring more, when next I return this way," he says. Then, grimly and almost unheard he adds, "and I intend to." He then turns back to the younger dwarves.

    "Your elders are wise," Thorgrim addresses the upstart, "For Isolation can ensure Survival, and Intermingling can lead to Death. Just as metal must be separated from ore. But the opposite is also true, just as different elements may be alloyed to create something greater than either alone, a whole greater than its parts. As copper and tin make bronze." Thorgrim lets his words hang in the air as he contemplates such matters.

    "And as Ang (Iron) and Durang (Dark-iron) make Ardacer," says Glorval, nodding approval.

    [DM OOC: I am leaving some room for talk, since I think replies are needed from Gotrek and Thorgrim. This is some cool dwarf stuff that can have repercussions for everyone else too, so I'm taking a bit of time here. If you want to move along faster, then fine. You can go the old route of just rattling off a list of questions which I can answer. That's a good way to make sure that you get the info you want. It doesn't mean we have to stop the role-playing; we can do both simultaneously. So, just waiting. It seems that we could have had some good posts if you all weren't distracted by the gutshaker, belch, fart stuff. Anyway, not I've cleaned the thread, we can continue.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Replies? Maybe I was all distracted by the gutshaker, belch, fart stuff! Thorgrim wants to return here with a Hole full of goodies for trade. Maybe open this kingdom for trade with the outside world, starting with the Dwarven Kingdom of Dorob Kilthduum. He wants to recruit some of these upstarts for his Holy Army of Clanggedin. He does not want to get in the middle of a dispute between two camps right now. Although that's obviously gonna happen some time...Thorgrim's starting with a soft touch. Hell will surely be raised when he runs off with 20 or 50 of their shining youth!]

    If he gets a chance, Thorgrim will take aside the young whippersnapper who mouthed off, talk of DK again, and mention Din, the only other surviving DK Dwarf he's met, and how Din swore an oath to raise an army for him, before becoming distracted with dreams of mines. A common Dwarven Obsession. "He should be in Thunderstrike about now, Clanggedin willing." But Thorgrim has a feeling that Din may have met his doom.

    "Then let us speak now," says the King. "We have all night!"

    The dwarves all retire to a central hall, and you all marvel at the size of the place. Only Thorgrim really remembers a dwarven stronghold, and this one, though nowhere near as grand as Dorob Kilthduum, nevertheless impresses.

    It turns out these dwarves know nothing of Dorob Kilthduum, except the faintest memory of it being across Ferrond. As Thorgrim speaks of this, the dwarves too, of course, get roused. Thorgrim, being a Dwarven Crusador and priest of Clanggedin, has that effect. Coupled with Elrae's dwarven ballad, they all get into the spirit. Even the king, after hearing about the lands of Karprun and Ammsee, is intrigued with the prospects. It seems that when they fought off Iggwilv's hordes, they closed their mountain to all. Iggwilv's forces eventually left after years of trying to enter Azcral, but the dwarves always feared to leave. Being in the heart of Iggwilv's empire, there was no safety beyond their halls.

    If Iggwilv is truly gone and destroyed as the party says, the dwarves would emerge once again. They take you to their armory, where you find an immense hall, full of dwarf-forged weapons and armor. Everything you can think of is here, enough to outfit an entire army. There are also man-sized weapons and armor, again enough for thousands. They were crafted centuries ago, before their trade was cut off by Iggwilv. The idea of once again trading with the outside world excites them greatly. In fact, the king virtually ends their isolationism then and there, and he goes on to promise aid on your quest to find the Horn of Iggwilv.

    It seems they know exactly where it is. Further, the king asks for volunteers to escort you, and ALL the dwarves step forward. He tells Thrrak Blackhammer to pick out fifty warriors to go with you, and he nods. So, you'll have 50 dwarven warriors accompanying you!

    The king would be certain that Iggwilv and her empire are truly gone.

    Finally, Thorgrim and Gotrek are taken to see the forges. They show you the forges, and most of what they show really is beyond everyone. However, the important thing to note is that they use Durang to make Adarcer. Durang is a type of iron that they found in other deposits. It takes a lot to get it, so don't even ask me about the process. It's not important! They end up getting bars of the stuff, eventually, and then make an alloy which results in Adarcer. This is a picture of a Durang bar:

    [DM OOC: Yes, it's titanium. No, I'm not going to bother working out real-world issues about how they get it. It's a complicated process in reality, so just accept that these dwarves have a way to get it, and they use it to make better weapons.]

    "'Tis truly a marvel..." Thorgrim mutters aloud. "The likes of which I've never seen. Dumathoin is generous with his gifts, 'tis certain. The more so with those he especially favors." He runs his fingers over the metal, getting a sense of its essence.

    Thorgrim is then given a hammer made of Ardacer. It is incredibly light, and seems strong as steel. [Basically MW and has +6 item save.] The dwarves also have maps of the region, which you can see. I'll prepare one for you.

    "I thank you," says Thorgrim, solemly, as he accepts the king's gift. "I shall treasure it, always."

    After they return to the others, Miri comments on the fine hammer. Even Isilme marvels at the workship of the hammer and the beauty of the material. "In the ages past have your people ever worked with the elves to enchant such weapons or is there one skilled among you who worked such enchantments?" she asks. "What price or service would you request of me for a masterwork longsword of such beautiful metal?"

    "Ardacer makes for poor blades," says Glorval,"except for short blades. It is actually too strong, without the necessary flexibility for a blade. But it makes excellent maces, hammers, and such, and unequalled armor." They then hand some out to the party.

    Isilme does her best to hide her disappointment, but she also knows that where there is a will, there is a way and just smiles at the dwarven smith.

    Gotrek addresses the dwarves. "Ye have been too kind. But know this, these weapons and armor will be used to kill ALL sorts of scum."

    He then offers them his own armor, already reforged from the orc axe taken so long ago.

    "Rework this armor, for me," he asks. "I will champion the cause for TWO gods. Clangeddin, and Moradin."

    Gotrek pauses, as the weight of these words are heard. "Aye, I know Clangeddin will NOT mind sharing the blood of Giant scum, with his brethren, Moradin." Gotrek looks at the King. "Let me once again raise the banner of my clan, Delgrim, in my home. And I swear to you, the gods will feast on what I have slain."

    Gotrek takes a shortsword of Adarcer, "By this, and Clangeddin and Moradin, I do swear." He cuts his tattoed forearm with the shortsword, letting his blood seep quickly into the earth, and stone, beneath him. The earth accept the gift VERY quickly..... Gotrek pauses. "If ye so please, I will go to the horn, with me party. Kill ALL evil in my path [Gotrek OOC: watch out crew]. And return here for the armor."

    He looks around.

    "What say ye?"

    The dwarfs accept Gotrek's offer of blood, and they take the armor. "Return, and it shall be as you ask," they say. They offer him a replacement suit of Ardacer Plate Mail in the mean time.

    The party spends the evening with the dwarves, drinking and speaking long into the night and sharing stories, histories, etc. Most will not likely be feeling too well in the morning....
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:29 am  
    Part 17 - Facepalms!

    Godsday, 18th of Reaping (582)

    The party heads out to the south the next morning. It's cold, with a biting wind from the north, whipping down from the peaks above you. About 500 dwarves see you off, including women and young. King Falal gives a speech. Basically good luck! Glorval Coldstriker promises to see to Gotrek's armor personally. Thrrak Blackhammer makes sure the dwarves going with you are ready. He then talks to Thorgrim.

    "Take this," he says, handing Thorgrim a beautifully crafted black warhammer. "This is Earthshaker," he says. "It belonged to my father. I have no sons to wield it, but I would see it used once again for the betterment of our kin." He points out a dwarven rune carved upon the head. "Speak this as you hold the handle to the ground [like Thor with Mjolrnir] to summon the power of Dumathoin himself. Then hold on! [Basically, it does an Earthquake spell, centered on the hammer. It's also a +3 war hammer.]

    Thorgrim is stunned. He accepts the gift in awe and gratitude. "I will use it to ensure the safety of your kin, even as they ensure ours. I promise you many will return...all, if Clanggedin wills it."

    "This is indeed a godly boon," says Emyn. "Thorgrim, I am certain only you among us are worthy of this honour." Emyn bows deeply and then says, "Just take care using it underground."

    "Congratulations Throgrim," says Isilme with a smile. "With these new allies, a powerful weapon, and the battle rager earning his armor, you are one step closer to retaking your home."

    "Indeed, perhaps many steps," he says softly, thinking of his far off homeland. "I just hope to maintain our good impression by seeing to it that none of our escort is killed under my watch. I pray it will be so."

    With the dwarven escort, the party heads south down the valley. The party runs into no opposition on the route south, which is easily traveled on an old dwarven road for half the way. The dwarven road goes about halfway, and then the party walks a more "normal" dirt road, which though not maintained in centuries, is yet easy enough to follow.

    You are following a swift-flowing river all this way, and when you reach this large valley, you find that there's a shelf, then a waterfall to a lower, flatter section. Remember, this is ALL thick forest here. However, when you reach the waterfall, you can look out over the lower valley. There you see fires starting to spring up around the river, along the right-hand side. Across the river to your right, towering above you is an old fortress.

    Miri asks, "What is this fortress?"

    The dwarves don't know. "Probably some leftover thing from the time of Iggwilv's empire," says Delaim Steelfist.

    "Bypassing it, might we be leaving enemies behind us?" asks Miri.

    "Leaving all those fires behind?" wonders Manny. "Probably enemies. The question is, can we get past the fortress without a fight? Caught between will not be good."

    "I will scout it out," says Isilme, who casts Invisibility and Fly before setting out.

    "I'm sure we can pass by without a fight," says Thorgrim. "Let us have Isilme investigate its nature while we seek a passage through, or hole up and await her return. The fact that we've an army doesn't mean we need to fight them in pitched battle, or lay siege."

    In about a half hour, Isilme returns. Still invisible, she gives her report. "The fortress is full of goblins, at least 100 or more," she says. "The place was crawling, and that count is just from flying over the walls."

    "Anybody have a mass goblin extermination spell?" asks Noot.

    Miri holds up her two swords with a grim smile.

    The leader of the Azcral dwarves, Delaim Steelfist, steps forward. He nods to Miri, then says, "We have no need to fight these goblins, though nothing would give us greater pleasure. You have a mission, which doesn't include these scum. We can deal with them later."

    He nods, then turns towards the others. "So, what do we do?" he asks.

    Gotrek looks down at his new scar, on his forearm. He grunts. "Dwarves," he roars. "Do we skulk, or do we fight?"

    As he says the word skulks, he spits.

    Delaim Steelfist listens to Gotrek, then back at the other dwarves. They look almost ashamed.

    "We are each worth a hundred of these goblin scum," continues Gotrek. "We have magic at out disposal, as well as Clangeddin's and Moradin's Blessings. I say we go for it." Gotrek smiles. It looks like a half of a sneer. Miri smiles as well.

    Isilme's calm voice then breaks the silence. "I recall this was the same line of thinking used when you rushed into the kobold den." For a moment Gotrek looks almost embarrassed, but Isilme just continues. "Then again, the Kobolds were not to be feared, just your general stupidity."

    Gotrek's visage then takes on a distinctly angry tone, as Isilme chides him. "Have fun storming the castle!"

    "Definintely wise words," murmurs Vaddara, "though perhaps not spoken to a battlerager."

    "Gotrek, Miri, your enthusiasm is admirable, but borders on zealotry." It is Thorgrim this time who breakes the silence. "I cannot see the wisdom of storming this fortress now. Perhaps we should save it for after we save the world," he adds with a disarming smile to Gotrek.

    "We can killl them later," says Miri, obviously disappointed. "We will just need to keep a good rear watch if we go around them." She nods to Thorgrim. "We can save the world first." Then she looks at Gotrek. "Sorry Gotrek, maybe next time."

    Gotrek remains silent. But his grip on Goreblade gets tighter. And he is slightly gnashing his teeth. He is not happy bypassing the goblins, especially after his blood vow. Not happy at all. He will go along with the party, but at the FIRST sign the goblins detect them, he will attack. Gotrek spits.

    "They are not even worth the shite for fertilizer."

    "And all those fires down there?" says Manny, indicating the valley beyond. "If they are the rest of an army then all we do is fight the ones here til the others come up behind us. A most heroic death, but death just the same. And the Old One wins."

    "Come, Gotrek, don't pout!" Thorgrim goes to pat him, hard, on the shoulder, but thinks better of it. "There'll be killing a-plenty, where we head. Methinks we'll both be steeped in gore, before the day is done."

    Isilme puts her hand on Gotrek's shoulder and says, "save your rage for the true evil we will find at the horn. These goblins are mere distractions to the true goal and will cost us more than they are worth. Once Oerth is saved by our hand once again, you have my word I will return with you and help drive these vermin out."

    She then speaks to Thorgrim. "Thorgrim, perhaps you should send the dwarves home to prepare for the Great War that will be coming based off what we have seen here. Regardless, a small squad would be more able to slip through here to the horn unoticed than an entire company under these circumstances."

    Thorgrim addresses the dwarves. "I believe it is time we part ways. Select five of the best among you who knows the way. They will accompany us. The rest of you should return home and await our return. I will see to the survival of your brethren."

    Delaim Steelfist looks at Thorgrim grimly. "No," he says resolutely. "King Falal tasked us with seeing you to the Horn of Iggwilv, and we shall do just that. Do not ask us to leave again." His voice is firm as granite when he speaks, and Thorgrim knows that he will not be swayed. "Still, the king should be warned."

    He then picks out a handful of dwarves and sends them back to Azcral. They will warn the dwarves of the nearby goblins. They don't seem to be coming up the valley; rather, it seems they live there. The rest will continue with the party.

    "Very well, then," Thorgrim says. "The king's will must not be thwarted. I, too, understand something of duty."

    "Dwarves sure talk a lot," says Noot. "We should start moving or those goblins will see or hear us."

    Manny heads off to scout the area on the ground, while Isilme scouts from the air. Manny comes back first, having found some animal trails only. "There are no paths around the fortress," he says. "The road crosses the river, the leads directly to the fortress which guards the only route down into the valley below, since the escarpement effectively blocks the way."

    While waiting, the sun goes completely down; it was almost down already, as you could see the campfires in the valley below. Lights come on in the fortress too, as torches are lit throughout. The goblins don't seem to be overly active, but they definitely aren't just sleeping!

    Delaim Steelfist points out that the answer is simple. "We just go back and take the longer route around them." He points back. "There was another valley a few miles back. Let's just take that, and loop around this fortress."

    Returning from her aerial scouting, Isilme agrees with Delaim.

    "Let's backtrack, then," says Thorgrim. "A few miles out of the way won't kill us."

    Emyn then adds, jokingly, "If Gotrek is so set upon a glorious death, let him run off and atack the goblins alone while we sneak by."

    Gotrek grunts. He looks back at the goblin fortress. He remembers his blood vow.

    "Ye guys go ahead, the paladin is right. I will stand here."

    Gotrek smiles. He looks up at the moon, feels the fresh air blowing through his beard. He closes his eyes and thinks of the Lady Clariece.

    "Clangeddin," he whispers. "Get ready to feast." Gotrek kisses Goreblade. "Just don't let the buggers defile me weapon, after I fall."

    Miri comes up to 5 ' from Gotrek and now she is chewing on the back of her hand, and breathing hard. Gotrek growls as he looks at Miri.

    Isilme sighs, as Emyn puts a hand on over his face. "Let's get a move on before these fools get us killed."

    Confused, Godwynn looks around. "Were we not taking an alternate branch to avoid conflict with fortress?" he asks. Unsure what is going on he draws his sword in case the group has been spotted.

    "They're nuts," says Noot. "Let's get out of here. We have to get to the Horn."

    "Here we go again!" says Berenn, doing another facepalm.

    The dwarves are torn at this turn of events. Eventually, Delaim decides to join Gotrek, along with half the dwarves. Their natural inclination to fight goblins, along with their sense of honor, sort of ties them to this. Another twenty will follow the party to the Horn, continuing the king's mission of aiding the party in reaching the Horn of Iggwilv and learning if, indeed, Iggwilv is gone. So, it'll be Gotrek, Miri, and 25 dwarves attacking the fortress.

    Gotrek looks at the group, then back at the fortress. He is torn, remembering other things now than just his vow. He remembers all the way back to the Pomarj and the Kobold Fortress of Doom. He remembers the Temple of Evil. He remembers friends lost, due to his rash actions. He seemed content to follow his vows and die gloriously, but he cannot bring himself to doom his new companions. With a sigh that seems to come from the depths of the planet itself, Gotrek's shoulders sag. He drops to his knees, and Goreblade falls from his grasp as he pounds the ground with his gauntleted fists.

    "I have already sworn to aid you in the demise of those goblins once this quest is done," says Isilme, moving to him and kneeling before him, ending her invisibility spell so she can see his face. "My friend," she says. "I will return here. I will kill all of these goblins with you."

    "Aye, everything has it's proper time. This one's not quite yet," says Gotrek.

    Noot sighs in relief and readies himself for the long climb. Luckily he likes to climb things.
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    Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:57 am  
    Part 18 - Out of the frying pan...

    The party continues on through the night. Sometime after morning, they come to the valley which leads to the west. It looks like there was an avalanche here, as much of the head of this valley is ripped bare. On the right-hand side the mountainside is cut with an ancient road, zig-zagging up the first 1000' rise.

    The old road up the valley eventually cross the river (a big creek really!) to the south side, from which you get a decent view ahead. The end of this valley is a large area surrounded by high mountains. You find some old ruins, not much more than foundations and the remains of ancient walls, all crumbled into nothing. It seems there was once some settlement here, but whatever it was is long forgotten. The peaks up ahead are 3-4 thousand feet above where you are now, and it's pretty steep. The last thousand feet or so is all above the tree line.

    The party takes a break at the ruins, which are at the last flat area at the end of the path you've followed. Like I said, this area seems to have been some kind of settlement, and there's the stone walls of a large building, maybe 150'x75' right along the road. The wall along the road has collapsed, but the other three yet stand. There's another ruined building further on, still with half a roof. The area is very steep. For about two width's of that large building ruin the ground is relatively level; however, it rises very fast after that. There's a thickly wooded slope to the south, rising to a relatively bare hilltop 400' high. The top edge of the map is roughly 300' above you. So, you get the idea. I could put contours if needed, but suffice to say the ground rises in every direction except following the river to the right, which is downhill.

    Gotrek, Delaim, and a dozen dwarves go with him, as does Miri. A couple dozen dwarves sit down in the middle of the old road just NE of the ruined building where they start eating. The last dwarves check out the large building. It has no roof, and it basically just walls. Whatever it was, you can no longer tell.

    Thorgrim is sitting with the rest of the dwarves, talking about Azcral, while the rest of the party is up ahead, where the path goes down to the river. Isilme is giving them her report, which was that she didn't see anything ahead. You suddenly hear the sound of worgs approaching from the way you came!

    The dwarves in the road drop their packs, grab their spears, and quickly turn about. Delaim's second in command, Gilhak, barks out a command. "THRUNG!!!" The dwarves snap to, slamming their shields into the ground and forming a shield wall and planting their spears to receive a charge.

    With Remorse in her hand Miri starts to trot to where the dwarves have formed a line. Her breathing is getting deep and ragged.

    Isilme flies further down the old road, and she sees the entirety of the goblin/worg horde approaching at a run. There are about 50 of them! She waits until they are all in range, then she unleashes her "Song of the Banshee" spell. When she does so, floating above the ground with Maerthorlear in hand, she sings a song of blood-curdling horror. The worgs stop dead in their tracks, with about a third of the goblins being catapulted right off their backs! Most of the worgs turn, scattering in every direction trying to get away from the maleficent spectre before them.

    Berenn fires his bow, putting down a goblin that stayed in the saddle, and it's worg also flees. A lightning bolt then streaks out from midair, directed by Manny's wand, which plows into the central group of goblins, blasting worg and goblin alike.

    There are only a couple of worgs and riders left standing, and Berenn puts down another with his second shot. The rest of the survivors have all fled back the way they came!

    "Well, they will be telling the main forces," says Manny ruefully. "What do we want to do now?"

    "Find the Horn," says Elrae.

    ""Fighting every step of the way?" asks Manny?

    Miri's eyes light up, "Do you really think so?"

    "Which means we'll have no time to find the hidden complex and thus won't succeed in this mission," snaps Manny. "Of course, if your only goal is pointlessly fighting, then you're good."

    Gotrek looks around. "We need some higher ground, where they can't get to us in a rush."

    Isilme continues to sing, and flies down the trail for a round or two to ensure any stragglers keep running and don't immediately regroup. Satisfied they are gone, she returns. "Perhaps they will return to tell a tale of how this area is haunted and filled with great magic, to be avoided at all costs."

    "Then let us continue," says Emyn. "It isfoolish to fight here, defensively inside goblin lands. They have knowledge of the terrain and a huge advantage in numbers. We should simply quit their lands if possible and get to the horn."

    "Digging in here will only waste time," adds Isilme, nodding to Emyn. "Our goal is to reach the horn, not set up a forward operating base. No matter what we do at this point, our existence is known. Digging in and fighting endless hordes of goblins successfully will only seriously delay our reaching the true goal. We should take advantage of our success, and move out of this area quickly."

    "Bah!" says Gotrek, spittle flying. "Let's move out, then."

    Thorgrim strokes his beard. "We can make the speed. And consider also that goblins are cowards, and already felt a taste of what we offered. Also, we are moving away from their center of power. Still...a small Dwarven Army is unlikely to go unchecked..."

    He looks around, thinking quickly. "They will take time to marshal their forces. We make for higher ground, where there will be cover aplenty from any ambush. Up top, we will be able to see them coming. We make for the western ridgeline. It is less than five miles away. We can make that and follow it south to our goal." Thorgrim snorts in satisfaction at his decision.

    "The western ridge seems like a more reasonable route," agrees Berenn.

    The party continues up the valley. It doesn't take too long, a few hours maybe, to reach the foot of a waterfall coming down from a small lake. The path moves under a sheer rock cliff to the left, before crossing the stream. It then zig-zags up a very steep section to the right of a waterfall. Then it crosses back to the left above the waterfall, following the creek around and up to the lake. In all it takes about 4 hours to make the climb to the lake.

    Here's the lake when you reach it. It's not much of a lake, more of a high alpine pond.
    About the time you reach the lake, Manny's birds bring back news that more worgs are approaching below. You can't see them. If you were looking for a place to defend, this is likely it. There are some pretty sheer cliffs all around except the path up which you took.

    Isilme flies as high as she needs to go access how many troops are approaching and report to the party. Gotrek will go to the small hill, just to the right. He will climb to the highest point, and await any enemies. If the numbers are overwhelming, he will start to sing.

    Elrae prepares for the impending battle. He climbs to the ridge on the left, where there is a small V amongst the rocks for cover. He'll get Sweetness out and have it loaded. "It's been a long time since I've heard the sweet whistle of your bolts flying through the air. May you find your mark in the eyes of our enemies."

    Thorgrim removes his Fortress from his belt pouch. "Stand back! And make yourselves ready!" he shouts to the Dwarves. He places the Fortress on the ground, tells all present the command word for the magically locked door. "Remember it!" He steps aside, and whispers a different word to the winds, and the Fortress unfolds.

    "A place of refuge, should it be needed," Thorgrim states plainly. He opens the door and leaves it ajar.
    This shot from the south and low shows the elevations a bit.

    As you can see, there is NO WAY up except the winding path you took. That path "basically" followed the stream coming out of the lake. Even so, the last part coming up to the lake is quite steep with a flat ledge to the left as you ascend. Following the stream, especially on the second image, you start from the L in Google with a pretty steep cliff (not easily seen on either map) to the left. You go up a pretty steep incline between the two visible streams, then cut back to the left along the ledge of the stream, which in this case is easier to see on the overhead map. It is cliffs down to the right, and up to the left. Then the path up follows the stream as it turns back one final time towards the lake.

    Emyn says, "The path is a bottleneck. Either we can slaughter the goblins in it as it will be easy to hold with superb defensive troops like our dwarven friends, or we can simply collapse it and hope we find another way home after our exploration of the Horn."

    [Thorgrim OOC: Dead-center of that photo is the perfect spot for the Fortress. That's where it goes. More concerned with the multiple (two?) paths from the top down to our position...we should have scouts (from among the dwarves?) at the summit, see what's going on from up there.]

    To the party, Thorgrim announces, "I'll fight among the Dwarves, to start, so they can benefit from my spells. Berenn, your Rod of Xodal should come in most handy today. We should send a force to flank them. Here is one." Thorgrim removes his Stone of Earth Elemental Control, and uses its powers. "Make it a big one," he whispers.

    From the stone, a very large earth elemental arises, awaiting Thorgrim's orders.

    To Delaim, he speaks. "I know you are sworn to protect us, but trust me when I say that the party can handle themeselves. Mostly," he chuckles. "We will cut through them like a plough divides earth. See to your men."

    As the party makes their preparations, Isilme's voices carries across to them on the mountain winds. She apparently left to deal with the goblins herself, and her being invisible, none were the wiser!

    "I have attempted to fool the goblins with an illusion of our demise," she says. "I used the illusion of a great dragon, and they ran. I am going to follow up with the main party and see if it was successful."

    Thorgrim smiles, chuckles, looks at Delaim. "Leave it to Isilme to rob us of battle before it begins. I hope that Message didn't carry to Gotrek, though I'm sure we'll hear if it did. We may get rest tonight, after all."

    A curse from Gotrek tell him he did, indeed, hear, and Thorgrim laughs, sitting on a rock.
    He gets out his pipe, looks at it, puts it back in his belt pouch. "She really is my party's most valuable asset...a jewel of jet in our crown. Despite her Elvishness, she is the one I trust most. You would do well to heed anything she ever says to you."

    Thorgrim collects a few stones from the ground, as is his wont so as to be always prepared to use his Stone of Silence Stratagem, even though he doesn't expect to use it today. "We've a few new ones with us, I haven't figured out, yet. I suppose their mettle will soon show."

    "Hmm. Then as we have some time," says Berenn. "Let us consider the route we take from here. Do we follow the valley on the other side of the ridge or the ridgeline? The valley will be quicker, but is the expected route. The ridgeline will be slower, and we will have to descend the mountains into the main valley we have to cross in the face of whatever hostile forces are there."

    As the party waits for Isilme to return, a giant winged form of brilliant white looms on the slowly setting horizon.....

    "DRAGON! The dwarves yell, panic spreading among them as leaders call for them to hold formation. The heroes of Hommlet tense, preparing to use whatever powerful magic they have at their disposal when the form swoops down at a distance and drops behind the cover of the inner ridgline of this valley, transforming before their eyes into a griffon they can barely make out at this distance.

    "What the..." Thorgrim mutters. Having seen Hepla do this enough he calls out " must be our mage." Then lights his pipe and takes a few puffs, waiting for the creature's arrival and visibly relaxing.

    The griffin eventually lands down the trail from the party and transforms into Isilme, who approaches. "The goblins are gone," she says with a smiling flourish. "I convinced the advance party we were slaughtered by a dragon, then reinforced the reports of that group with a showing of a real dragon to the main body of goblins below that had amassed to attack us. We should be able to go on uninhibited from this point, as long as we manage not to piss off more locals."

    "Good work, Isilme. Although pissing off locals is something we're sure to do, wherever we go. We make camp here, tonight," Thorgrim announces. "No fires."

    "Damnned drow!" shouts Gotrek, storming over. "You keep taking all the fun outta things!"

    Everyone laughs, until Noot points up into the distance at a dark shape that is flying quickly towards the group. "Uh, maybe not...."

    As it comes closer, the dark shadow slowly grows until you can make it out clearly. It is ANOTHER dragon! It buzzes overhead as the party stands frozen; a massive, reddish-brown to rust-colored, metallic-looking dragon, and it turns about!

    Thorgrim immediately re-erects his fortress. Sir Godwynn takes cover behind it, since there is no other cover.

    The dwarves form up in their defensive formation, but Delaim looks skeptically at Thorgrim. "What good are spears against that?" he wonders.

    Berenn withdraws his Arrow of Red Dragon Slaying from his quiver and nocks it.

    Manny is actually happy to see the metallic dragon, as he didn't know Isilme was the white. When it breathes the slow gas, he smiles.

    Miri says, "Staying separated lessens the effect of their breath weapons." She heads north, away from the others.

    "Aye," says Gotrek, grunting and farting.

    "Oooh I don't think I've ever seen a copper dragon before," says Elrae. "They are known to be goodly in nature, but one never knows about the temperament of any dragon."

    "Elrae, are you sure it's a Copper? Quick! Say what you know!" Thorgrim says tersely. "Their breath weapon."

    "Copper Dragon?" Berenn mutters something about never getting to use this damn arrow and returns it to its quiver.

    "I'm just hoping it doesn't like goblins. Or it likes the taste of them," says Manny. "I would suggest that everybody scatter or seek shelter. If it's hostile it is better to be separated so fewer are hit by breath. There is little the rest of us can do til it comes this way again."

    Emyn ignores the banter and looks for cover. He has his bow out, with arrows (including half-dozen fire arrows) readied before him. The only cover around is the tower so he heads there, meeting Sir Godwynn behind it.

    Noot rushes to the fortress himself, huddling up with Emyn and Sir Godwynn behind it.

    The dragon roars in draconic, "YOU DARE ENTER THE DOMAIN OF AGOTH!"

    "Out of the frying pan..." mutters Noot, ducking inside.
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    Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:02 pm  
    Part 19 - The Hand of Rao

    Part 19 - The Hand of Rao

    Isilme recognizes the name, the name of something from her many studies of extra-planar beings, the name of a demon. She shifts her form into a large winged angelic being, based on Maerthorlear's true form.

    "Hold Dragon," she cries. "I am here by the will of Elistraee. Why do you claim a name of such unadulterated evil!?"

    The dragon watches as she changes, holding steady with a massive flapping of its wings that buffets the area, kicking up a cloud of dirt. It then roars in rage and hatred when Isilme "reveals" herself as an angel. It roars in an unknown language, but one you've heard before, or like something you've heard before. It is a language of the Abyss!

    "Damnation!" says Manny, as he recognizes the tongue, "It's a servant of Iggy! From bad to worse!"

    "Something's wrong," Thorgrim says. To Delaim and the Dwarves, he speaks. "Isilme communes with the God of All Metallic Dragons Himself, but this dragon may be beyond her power. Delaim, hold the fort. Send your scouts to the ridge and where you will, to watch for goblins. Remember we are still undiscovered, so avoid shouts or blowing of horns until and if."

    "If the dragon attacks, seek shelter. Let us handle it."

    Thorgrim looks at his party. "I can't provide Protection for everybody. Or even anybody other than myself, if I'm to effectively attack. Gotrek, you're with me. Elrae, we could use your language and spellpower. Berenn, we could...damn, we'd better bring everybody." He looks at the newcomers. "If any wish to remain, there are roles here to be filled. The continuation of our Quest not least among them, should we fail."

    "Elemental," Thorgrim points at the earthen monstrosity. "You will do as I command. Follow me as closely as you can, and obey my orders."

    [DM OOC: there was a lot of talk here ooc about what to do, and I'll skip it. Plus, there were some things that had to get done a couple times, with miscommunications and such. In the end, Isilme decided to use her amulet, the one which she found in Markessa's chambers in the Pomarj and that she learned would summon some kind of angelic being. In fact, she learned from the priests of Rao that it had potential to summon Incarnum Himself!]

    Isilme takes out her amulet, knowing that they are not prepared for this encounter, and reads the summoning power written upon it.....

    Suddenly the skies seem to open up, as a hole of brightest light appears as if from nowhere. From the white void a voice is heard...


    The dragon stops, looking up to the opening in the heavens. If anyone thought to ask, you would all learn that the voice spoke in every native language simultaneously.

    As all watch, a being beyond description appears.


    [Tempus OOC: I called in the Heavy Calvary. Didn't want to hear certain players crying about how it's my fault someone died. I carried this amulet for years, and figured this was as good a time as any to use it!]

    Emyn looks up, completely in awe of the majesty before him. It is as though he is transfixed by what he sees to the point where the dragon is practically forgotten. "Trithereon, thank you for your aid," he says in a quiet prayer.

    The dragon tries to flee, but the power of the angelic being summoned by Isilme cannot be denied. For all its great power, both of the demon Agoth as well as the fully possessed Copper Dragon, Incarnum is the Hand of Rao Himself.

    Sir Godwynn silently mouths a prayer to Rao, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

    [DM OOC: Forgive my unabashed stealing of Isaiah quotes; they seemed appropriate!]

    As the dragon wailed, twisting and turning violently in an attempt to pull away from the angel's unconquerable power, a long black filament began to stream from its mouth, like a thread, pulled from a loom. As it pulled free, it coalesced into a terrifying form, beyond description in its terribleness. Miri notes the fish floating to the surface of the lake, now boiling at the sheer horror of the thing!

    Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in Her shape how lovely: and pined his loss as the power of Incarnum washed over it." It could not help but weep the forelorn cry of the damned.

    “Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
    Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
    Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell;
    And in the lowest deep a lower deep,
    Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide,
    To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.”

    And just as suddenly, the ground opens, and into the abyss was thrown the beast, with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    "Farewell happy fields,
    Where joy forever dwells: Hail, horrors, hail.”

    And the ground closed upon it and the terror was gone.

    [sorry, could not help throwing in some Milton!]

    Seeing the depth of Godwynn's faith, Emyn walks over and puts his hand on the man's shoulder. A single look from Emyn shows the man his great respect and joy in such a moment. He stays with him and joins in prayer.

    The dragon falls down, lightly, landing upon the ledge by fortress. It seems completely exhausted. The angel speaks again, at least it seems speech. Nobody can actually see any lips or even a face, and again, it speaks in all languages.


    The dragon seems instantly invigorated, and it rises onto its haunches, though it bows its head reverently before the righteous majesty of Incarnum.

    Noot is having second thoughts about having no religion. He watches in awe. Gotrek places Goreblade on forehead. He hopes, someday, Clangeddin will honor him so........

    Isilme returns, flys over and lands next to the dragon. Before she can do anything, The Voice of Incarnum echoes across the valley:

    "See now, the Lord, Rao Almighty, is about to take from Chendle and Mitrik both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water,
    the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder,
    the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.

    I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them.
    People will oppress each other-- man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable.
    A man will seize one of his brothers at his father's home, and say, "You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!"
    But in that day he will cry out, "I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people."

    Veluna staggers, Furyondy is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.
    The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Reltarma; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.
    Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
    Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.
    Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.
    Rao takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.
    Rao enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: "It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
    What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?" declares the Lord, Rao Almighty.
    Rao says, "The women of Vol are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
    Therefore He will bring sores on the heads of the women of Vol; Rao will make their scalps bald."

    In that day Rao will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces,
    the earrings and bracelets and veils,
    the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms,
    the signet rings and nose rings,
    the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses
    and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
    Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.
    Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle.
    The gates of Vol will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground.

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
    Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
    Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,
    who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.
    Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of RaoAlmighty and spurned His word.
    Therefore Rao's anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
    He lifts up a banner in the distant islands, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
    Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.
    Rao Almighty will lash them with a whip, as when he struck down Vecna at the rock of Oerth;
    and he will raise his Crook over the waters.
    In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck.

    "Woe to Iuz, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
    I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
    But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.
    'Are not my commanders all kings?' he says.
    'Has not Molag fared like Narisban? Is not Chendel like Arztin, and Critwall like Shanfarel?
    As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Niole and Galgul--
    shall I not deal with Mitrik and her images as I dealt with Reltarma and her idols?' "
    When the Lord has finished all his work he will say, "I will punish the tyrant of Iuz for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.
    For he says: " 'By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings.
    As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.' "
    Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood!
    Therefore, the Lord, Rao Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame.
    The Light of Knowledge will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and his briers.
    The terror of his armies and unholy fiends it will completely destroy, as when a sick man wastes away.
    And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down."

    In that day you will say: "I will praise you, Rao. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.
    Surely Rao is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, Rao, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
    With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
    In that day you will say: "Give thanks to Rao, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
    Sing to Rao, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
    Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Vol, for great is the Holy One of Oerth among you."

    [DM OOC: So, that's the end of the bible quoting! Again, forgive me the blatant ripping off of scripture, but how can I really beat all that? But, it does tailor nicely to the dawn of the Greyhawk Wars.]

    With that, Incarnum disappears, fading away along with the last rays of light.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:24 am; edited 4 times in total
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    Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:03 am  
    Part 20 - Clonoc

    "Great," laments Manny. "Nothing like being caught up in a God's War who care nothing for those it tramples between. Let's get this over with." Manny puts his stuff away and starts heading for Thorgrim's fortress.

    "What do you suppose Rao has against Mitrik?" Thorgrim whispers to Gotrek. "Corruption in the priesthood? Was it not they who sent us on this quest?" Thorgrim shakes his head. "I need to consult with Isilme on this matter."

    [DM OOC: Well, for the most part those quotes were supposed to ONLY do a few things:

    1) Be fun to read!
    2) Foreshadow the great war that is coming.
    3) Give a new clue about the Crook of Rao.....

    So no, Rao is not really upset with anyone, I don't think. But then again, I'm not a God. I'm just a lowly DM. But seriously, don't read into all of that too much. Mostly it's flavor. However, there are some important bits of info in there. We can discuss it in the Inn, if you want.]

    The dragon looks around, then sees Isilme. "Forgive me," it says, "for many years have I been at the mercy of that foul demon. I could no longer resist its will, except to keep myself to these distant lands." The dragon bows its massive head, and Isilme sees true sadness in its eyes. "I am Clonoc, and if you were responsible for that, then I am forever in your debt."

    Isilme bows and says "I am Isilme, Battledancer of Elistraee." She looks into his eyes and says "Be not sad, Clonoc, you are now free of a great evil. I am happy to accept your gratitude and number you among my friends. Is there anything you can tell us about what you have witnessed in these lands? We journey to the horn of Iggwilv. Do you need any help returning home? I would be happy to use any power at my disposal to assist you."

    [DM OOC: Not a lot of time, so I'll summarize.]

    Clonoc is very thankful. He then tells you his story....

    Clonoc is a large, old, copper dragon. It uncovered an ancient site of Iggwilv's many years ago and unwittingly released the demon Agoth. After losing a duel of wills with the demon, Agoth possessed him. However, Clonoc was able to fight off the possession for many years, keeping the demon's attempts to control it at bay, at least partly.

    Agoth desired to use the dragon to cause death and destruction throughout the lands, but Clonoc somehow maintained just enough control to keep the demon at bay. To Clonoc's great regret, the demon did succeed in forcing his actions, when they came across the occasional caravan. The dragon's innate desire for precious metals and such allowed just enough weakness to creep into its psyche for Agoath to take advantage and assert control, to the ruin of too many mountain folk.

    After the destruction of the last caravan a few years ago, Clonoc managed to stay always in the high mountains. Over the years, the two battled continuously in a war of wills that never ended. Clonoc has not slept in a dozen years, as to do so could have left Agoth in complete control. Thus the utter exhaustion the dragon showed upon Agoth's banishment. It was only Clonoc's intense and natural hatred of the chromatic dragons that allowed Agoth to take full control earlier, when it spied Isilme as a White Dragon.

    Now that he is freed, he would sleep. However, he will first see you to his lair. There you will be safe to rest, about a day's journey from Iggwilv's Horn.

    [DM OOC: This is the dragon from the adventure "The Copper Raider," originally found in the first Greyhawk Boxed Set, published back about 1980 or so. I just tweaked it for use here. Good job with the result. Everyone gets 5K for this, and Isilme gets 10K, for her central role.]

    Gotrek grunts. "Well done, lass!"

    "Thanks Gotrek," she replies. "I didn't want to have to listen to Berenn whine for the next 100 years about how I brought a demon down upon you."

    Emyn says to the dragon, "I am glad we could help you and - thank you in return for your kind invitation to your lair. Might you know more of what we could expect in the caverns?"

    "Our new friend is weary," says Isilme quickly. "Let's get to the cave of the dragon and rest. We are almost to our goal, and with our new friend I doubt any will try to slow our progress. Soon we will reach the horn and find what the gods have in store for the Heroes of Hommlet."

    [DM OOC: I'll skip to the dragon's lair.

    cp: 16,000
    sp: 64,000
    ep: 21,000

    gems: 34 random
    jewelry: 23 random

    6 potions
    1 scroll
    1 weapon
    1 Misc Household Item
    1 Ring
    1 Wand

    He gives this all to you, freely, for having saved him. Of course, you can't probably carry it all.....]

    "If we leave the silver and copper, can we carry the rest Thorgrim?" ask Berenn. Noot too is looking over the hoard, quickly appraising its total worth.

    "None of you lifted a finger," says Isilme, anger creeping into her voice. "Your greed is monumental! Leave the dragon his bed of coins, gems, and jewels that he may rest easily. Did you not hear he has not slept fighting off this demon for YEARS to spare others its hate and avarice!"

    Clonoc smiles. He then explains that this isn't his real lair, just where he has lived these last decades while under the influence of Agoth. He is going to return to his REAL lair, so you may take all of this. He is rather ashamed of having taken it in the first place!

    [Isilme OOC: Well in that case....]

    Isilme looks embarrassed and says "sorry" to the party.

    "Actually, I was going to suggest something like that as well," says Manny. "And it is true none of us fought or had anything to do with freeing the dragon from his foe, but we had made preparations to do so. Would it have succeeded so well as Mistress Isilme's? Probably not, but we would have tried. The dragon deserves some just for having fought the insidious influence for so long and so well. I have to assume that some of this is likely from times when the demon had the upper hand and so he is embarrassed by it."

    Manny then approaches Clonoc, addressing him directly. "Good Clonoc, the fact that there is not far more is testimony to how well you fought, and you clearly deserve some reward." He turns to the others. "We should leave him a goodly portion. There is no telling how well his real home has done in his extended absence, and he should have a base from which to grow."

    Again, Clonoc will not take any of it. He will, however, give you directions to the Horn before heading for real lair.

    Godwynn does give Clonoc his holy symbol of Rao. "A reminder of Who it was that freed you from bondage," he says, bowing deeply.

    Clonoc is very pleased with that. "You will always be welcome," he says, bowing his great head in return. "If you should ever need help, you may call upon me. " He then tells the party the relative location of his true home. [DM OOC: don't worry where it is for now!]

    The party spends the night in Clonoc's "lair", and for the first time in weeks they sleep an utterly peaceful and sound sleep.
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    Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:49 am  
    Part 21 - Avoiding trouble, for once!

    Earthday, 20th of Reaping (582)

    Skipping a day to get you to the dragon's lair and rest and then to be ready to move on. It's warmer, with clear skies. Temps about 40*, rising to about 60* in the late afternoon.

    Plus the party took the time to Identify the magic items. Here's the list:

    Oil of Acid Resistance (its use is pretty obvious)
    Potion of Teleportation (drinker is teleported as spell to first place visualized)
    Oil of Double Cross (When sprinkled on an enemy, it confuses the victim as the spell of the same name. Also, when applied to oneself, it causes anyone with an Intelligence of 10 or less to believe whatever the wearer says (no saving throw). The oil lasts for one turn.)
    Oil of Permanent Disenchantment (Permanently disenchants any one magic item or effect, except for Artifacts of course!)
    Potion of Healing
    Elixer of Life

    Scroll of Wizards (Wizards only: This scroll is blank and used to Identify magical effects. Hold it out and command it to identify any magical effect within 30', and the name of the spell/effect as well as its level of casting will appear on the scroll. Useable once/day.)

    Shield Ring (warriors only: It grants a +1 to AC.

    Yatil Wand of Zooming

    Banner of Terror (used in battle, it causes fear in enemies, forcing morale checks when closing.)

    Short sword of skewering (theives only: ignores magical AC bonuses and causes maximum backstab damage.)


    After it is distributed, Gotrek, who has been strangely in awe of the dragon, finally approaches him. "Great Clonoc," he says, looking up at the dragon's majestic head. "May I touch your wondrous armor?"

    Clonoc smiles, "Sure, knock yourself out!"

    Gotrek passes his hands over the copper dragon scales. He grunts. "Master Clonoc. Besides the obvious differing colors of dragons, are ye all..built the same? Scales, and such?"

    He taps Master Clonoc gently on the side. "Majestic, indeed." As Gotrek admires the dragon, on a purely professional level, he memorizes the structure of the scales. He looks for any vulnerable spots on the dragon. Just in case, we run across any evil dragons....

    Isilme rises, refreshed and alert, and addresses the party. "Let's go. I would like to reach the horn as soon as possible." She looks to the dragon as Gotrek pulls away. "Friend Clonoc, where is this site of Iggwilv you discovered, and are any of the items here recovered from treasures of Iggwilv?"

    "It is in the valley of the Horn of Iggwilv," Clonoc replies. "I investigated the area years ago, and there found the demon-relic, accidentally releasing Agoth's captured essence." He trails off, and you feel that he can't really help you with further info, or doesn't really want to think of it. However, he does tell you of two ancient fortresses full of orcs, and he shows them to you on the Azcral map.

    He points out the best route to avoid them is to head SW from here. That will lead you to a cut between two shorter mountains, which should avoid orc patrols from both areas. You can then cross the valley and river, then follow another north-south valley right to the Horn of Iggwilv. He warns you, however, to not pass during the night. "Foul undead lurk in the ruins there, and the passage is to be avoided except during the light of day.

    "This land is veritably crawling with danger, especially humanoids!" Thorgrim remarks. "Our earlier thought to 'clear' the lands of the Goblin Fortress must give way to a more methodical plan of eradication, methinks..."

    Clonoc bids you farewell, though he also gives one last warning. The path to the Horn goes through a steep valley, nearly a gorge, with a lake in the middle. Upon the lake is the Giant's Isle, home to half-dozen evil giants.

    Gotrek looks up. "Giants!" he spits fiercely. He then looks at Isilme, who does not fail to notice the battlerager's glare.

    Isilme pats him on the back. "No more trickery, no more magic," she says reassuringly. "Our blades will drink deep the blood of giants friend Gotrek."

    Gotrek smiles. "Ye are a true friend, Isilme!" he says quickly.

    "Onward to giant island!" she says, and she walks out and starts walking in the direction instructed by Clonoc.

    Before he leaves, Thorgrim makes sure to introduce Delaim and Clonoc to each other, so there is contact between the copper dragon and the Azcral Dwarves. After all, they're neighbors!

    Clonoc bids farewell, flying off to the East, while the party follows Isilme to the south. That trail is long and uneventful the next day. You are walking an old road, left over from the days of Iggwilv. Towards dusk you have a view of the mountains towards which you are traveling.

    The Horn of Iggwilv lies somewhere beyond these jagged peaks.

    "Looks like we'll be putting our mountain-climbing gear to good use," Thorgrim says. "If not on those peaks, then the Horn itself."

    Noot, who is in no need for something else to carry lets the treasure stay in common. He checks out his rope and other gear in preparation for a climb.

    Isilme has stayed relatively quiet and reflective all day. She casts "fly" and "invisibility," then flies up and circles the area at altitude, making sure the surrounding area is secure and finding a place to lead the group for the evening that is adequately concealed.

    Emyn says "let us try to avoid attention. Even if the way is clear, there could still be guardians from the horn about. "

    Manny picked the Banner and now approaches the dwarven unit. He looks at them for a moment, “Ye have but newly come forth into the lands and have already been tried by worg-riders and dragon. Ye have been steadfast and true, and it seems to me that you should have a means to commemorate this. Thus, I present to you this banner. Long may it wave and show the strength of dwarven resolve.”

    The dwarves accept the banner from Manny with many thanks. They itch to put it to use against the many humanoid foes you have encountered.

    The party encamps for the night in a valley, hidden from sight. There are no trails except game trails in the area. Scouts keep a lookout, but nothing is encountered in the evening. There are signs of orc activity to the east and west, but they seem to stay away from this area. The night passes uneventfully, and the party can continue on in the morning.

    Freeday, 21st of Reaping (582)

    The dawn breaks with another chilly morning. Skies are partly cloudy, and those accustomed to mountains have a feeling that rain is coming.

    "Smells like rain," says Miri.

    The party moves through the two large hills, cutting straight to the south. Manny's birds scout around, and the way seems clear. There is no sign of life at all here. Once you reach the larger east/west valley, the area is devoid even of wildlife. No birdcalls sound, no animals chirp, nothing. For most, the silence is not even noticed, but for Berenn and Manny, it is totally unnatural. A small hill rises in the center of this valley, atop which can be seen a ruined castle.

    "The lack of wildlife cannot be good," says Emyn. "Proof of the presence of the undead, even without Clonoc's words of warning. We should investigate this. If there is an undead presence, it should be cleansed if for no other reason than to give us a safe fallback position in case we need to exit the caves early. "

    "We need to make our way to the horn," says Isilme. "I don't see the need to waste time and clear out an abandoned tower. If we need a fall back position, we have our own tower to throw up, that doesn't require clearing."

    "To the Horn," says Miri, "though I will return with you here when we are done." It then occurs to her that she is creating quite a list of pledges to future adventure in these mountains.

    The party skirts the ruined castle and heads across the valley with all haste. They travel along ancient roadways, completely overgrown by trees and brush.

    Ancient roadway

    Travel isn't necessarily easy, but it is not hard. No bushwacking is needed, but one must watch his step. There is a stream which runs north from the valley to the south, and it bends off the east, around the hill with the ruined castle. You make it quickly across the east-west valley and enter the valley leading south to the Horn of Iggwilv. Manny's birds bring back news shortly about a lake ahead with an island in the middle.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:25 am; edited 7 times in total
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    Fri May 12, 2017 9:16 am  
    Part 22 - Giant's Isle

    [DM OOC: Now, I've done my best to retouch it with an island in the middle. Sorry if it looks a bit janky. Still, this is the view from the mountainside to the east and north of the lake. I put that island in it (no, the REAL lake does NOT have an island!) for the giant's island. However, all the other terrain is exactly as shown.]

    The road goes around the lake on its left (western) side and continues south through that massive V-shaped steep valley. Iggwilv's Horn is somewhere further south, beyond that point. Judging from the map you looked at, you are now within maybe a dozen miles. There are huge jagged mountains all around, and especially to the southwest, rising thousands of feet ( 5-7K) above you.

    Miri says, "Push on or deal with the giants? I say push on."

    [DM OOC: I'm going to go out on a limb and say there is no way Gotrek will allow that.]

    The party approaches stealthily and checks out the lake. From the shore of the lake, you see it's crystal clear and not very deep. However, it's certainly above the head of anyone trying to cross to the island. The lake acts as an ideal barrier, for the distance between the shore and the isle is about half a mile, and the crossers have no cover at all. Miri finds a huge skiff, large enough for a dozen people and hewn from tree trunks, tied up along the shore.

    You can tell Isilme is just itching to fly off and wreak some havoc with her "elvish tricks". She looks at Gotrek and nods. "Gotrek this is your show. You decide how we cross, and how we attack. No tricks, no invisibility. My blade is yours. May it slake its thirst in the blood of giants." She draws morlather and salutes him.

    PRAISE Clangeddin! Gotrek applies war face paint....

    "What type of giants are we dealing with?" asks Emyn.

    Gotrek doesn't know what type of giants they are. He's not an expert in them; he just hates them. However, based on the size of the paddles in the giant boat, the giants are probably about 20' tall or so. [DM OOC: Please, don't go meta-gaming the giant type from that now! You know I'll just make up a new type for you if you do that anyway!]

    While watching, you see movement on the island. From a large cave atop the central crag, almost unseen in the shadows from the late afternoon sunlight, emerges a giant.

    It looks like a stone giant, but much bigger. From here, it seems almost 25' tall!

    Manny looks speculatively at it. "Too big to be a stone giant or even a mountain giant. Hmm, cloud giant? Right type of place and size, but they usually are a . . .little more . . civilized. Not likely storm, which is good. They'd be bad to tangle with. Not that cloud aren't. If they ARE cloud, they could be friendly." He muses.

    "Clonoc told us the giants were evil," Thorgrim says. "I trust that he would know."

    "I think Berenn and his water walking spell is the fastest way to get our team there, Gotrek," says Isilme. "If you want to rush in immediately. If you want to bring our entire army we need to wait for the full cover of darkness, and I need time to set my dragon turtle plan in action and see if it's favorable. Your choice, my powers are at your disposal."

    "I think that idea," says Thorgrim. "It is best for getting us across in secret. Giants are accurate with their missile-fire. That boat could be sunk by rocks hundreds of yards before we reach shore. I don't see a practical way to bring the other Dwarves with us. I suppose an Elemental could help us to drain the lake, but the muck would make the island even more inaccessible than it stands now, methinks. One thing is certain: when we go, we need to conquer, with no chance of failure. I dislike being cornered. We need to take cover and send a scout, unless the spell-cost would be prohibitive."

    "We should at least try to speak with them before killing them," says Emyn. "Does anyone have the ability to speak giantish?"

    "I speak giantish," replies Isilme. "But clonoc said this was an island of evil Giants, so I trust he had dealings with them. Since when are we having discussions with everyone before battle? I didn't hear you suggesting we conversate with the goblins before battle to guage their feelings. Marriage has made you soft."

    "I see no need for parlay," interjects Berenn. "We have been informed from what I would consider a reliable source that the giants are evil, so what exactly are we going to discuss? Maybe we can get them to agree not to throw rocks at us during the fight?", Berenn mutters in a sarcastic tone.

    Isilme scouts the island, and returns to give the party an idea of the terrain.

    It's about 400' to the top, which makes it very steep. The steps are the path the giants take, but not exactly easy steps. At the top is a cave:

    The party waits until nightfall, then crosses the lake. Berenn casts Water Walk on half the group while the dwarves, Miri, Elrae, and Noot cross on the boat. The water walkers cross to the island from the other side, about 90 degrees away and just beyond the next "ridge." It's a two-pronged movement. Isilme flies overhead. Still works well. Thorgrim uses Silence on the boat to mask the sound, while everyone else is soundless Water Walking. No giants notice as you all cross over, as a strong wind picks up drastically, blowing 36mph from the west. That's from the right to left on this map. There only seems one entrance, the main cave, inside of which you now see light flickering.

    Gilhak, the second in command of the Azcral dwarves, stays behind with half the dwarves, 25.

    "I wish we would have left the dwarves behind," says Berenn quietly. "It is going to be difficult to climb this face without having 20 pairs of short legs with us. That is not meant to be offensive, but they are a liability in this terrain. I have my Rope of Climbing which will get us up in 50' increments. It will be a slow, but safe climb with the rope. I am not in favor of bringing the dwarves up the incline, they will slow us down. They should have been left on the shoreline."

    The dwarves look a bit annoyed, overhearing Berenn, but they quickly reassure him that they are EXPERT mountaineers, though they don't have mountain climbing gear. However, they are relatively sure they can gain the bottom of the top cliff, that's about 4 contours down from the top, without a problem, either by the SE route, or right up the path. However, they believe only the "stealthy" should use the path. That's basically Berenn, Isilme, and Noot. Noot will head for the top top, and take a position there. You see smoke coming from the top, so there's at least a chimney there. He will hold position there and wait for you guys to do whatever you do. He then starts to expertly scale the side, quickly disappearing into the darkness above.

    Isilme casts Farspeaker, handing out boxes so the three groups can keep in contact.

    The dwarves are heading to the SE corner, just around the last ridge and top left of map, where they can start their ascent. Gotrek and Thorgrim head with them, along with Elrae and Miri. Noot's already heading to the top, actually above the cave. Isilme will join him there, flying up to the top. The rest traverse around to the front to enter that way, right at the base of the final cliff face (about 80' down from the top), using the stairs for the last ascent.

    Isilme, Manny, and Noot find a large hole in the roof which looks like it was simply bashed in. The hole is about 5' wide, and from it a large billowing mass of smoke pours forth. It looks like there's a campfire inside, though it's more like a bonfire! The ground is about 40' down, but you can't tell with all the smoke.

    Isilme listens carefully, but it's hard to say, as they have a very difficult dialect. However, what she puts together are that this is a giant "family." They didn't say anything important, just family talking stuff. [DM OOC: Sorry I didn't make up a bunch of dialogue between a mother and her sons, smacking one around for misbehaving, yelling at the others, etc.] She gets a couple names. A female voice says the names Gilim, Kyvyn, and Dude is yelled a couple times. She can't tell exactly where they are inside, but they seem pretty much right around the fire, somewhere.

    Isilme waits until the dwarves are closer to use the wand of slow, right? When the dwarves reach the rear of the hill, Elrae begins to use his wand to Passwall into the cavern. It takes a few, but eventually the dwarves see a rough chamber about 40 square feet. It's a sleeping chamber, and the floor is full of furs and such. There's an opening in the far wall, and they see light through it and hear voices.

    So, the way is open. The others are closing on the entrance, and have snuck up just outside. Berenn's already crept up with his Cloak of Elvenkind, and he sees the insides of the cave. Here's a map of the interior:

    Not bothering with lighting. Just assume the two fires create enough light to illuminate the entire area. There are two giants that look like very big stone giants sitting around a fire in the front. A female giant is in the next area cooking, while a smaller giant, about normal stone giant size, is sitting crosslegged looking at the wall. Another large giant, bigger than the first two, is in the side chamber to the right, while a massive giant is at the far end. The chamber descends gradually, and has a steep slope down to the kitchen area. Nothing that affects movement or combat, but just so you know it goes downhill a bit. I also put the passwall at the far side, where Elrae broke through. The dwarves can pour in any time.

    Berenn then goes back to tell the others, and he uses the Farspeaker boxes to tell everyone. You all can move at any moment, with Isilme will use here Wand of Slow on the two giants around the fire to start.

    Pre-battle actions:

    Thorgrim cast Strength, raising his score to 18-00 (+3/+6).
    Sir Godwynn does detect evil.
    Noot ties his rope off to a rock. This isn't a building, it's the top of a rocky crag. So there are plenty of tie-off points.
    Elrae casts Stoneskin.
    Isilme drinks her Potion of Heroic Action, gaining 21 hit points!

    Gotrek grunts. Rotates his neck. He hears bones crack. The sound comforts him. He looks down at Goreblade. It is almost time. But it is taking too long. He grunts harder. He was but a babe, but he still recalls screams. From his Mother. The Giants. Killing all. He growls. Miri glances over at him. White spittle leaks down from Gotrek's beard. Gotrek's forearm muscles expand, as he grips Giant Goreblade. He shakes his head. More violently now. Out of control. He starts to sing. Miri follows suit.....

    Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:28 am; edited 8 times in total
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    Fri May 12, 2017 9:23 am  

    For some reason, images just don't seem to work right anymore. Either they don't show up at all, or they are too big and mess up the formatting of the screen. It's a combination of program changes, I think, like losing Picasa and having to switch to Google images. So, everything is going to be simple links now. You can click them to see the images. They aren't really important, but I used them, so I like to post them too. I think they add to the story, giving nice visual elements to go along with all the text. Hopefully, you do too.
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    Fri May 12, 2017 9:56 am  
    Part 23 - A Giant Fight!

    ROUND 1

    Isilme uses her Wand of Slow. One of the giants seems to move more slowly, talking funny, and the other one laughs at him.

    "What is wrong, Kyvyn," he says, pointing. "Dragon got your tongue?"

    Before Kyvyn can reply, his eyes open wide as Berenn steps into the entrance and casts Holy Orb. The two giants are caught in the sudden expanding sphere, doing [38 and 40] to them, respectively.

    At the other side of the cave, Thorgrim does the same thing, catching the large giant. It makes its save, only suffering [17].

    Emyn will step in front of Berenn and go into full defensive stance (not parrying) to draw some attacks from the giants.

    Then Noot and Manny will wait for the Holy Orbs and such to go off before climbing down, no sense in being caught in an AOE.

    Sir Godwynn moves up too, taking a position in front of Berenn. He too will fight defensively, though obviously not as well as Emyn!

    Elrae steps up behind Thorgrim and casts Sunfire, exploding a ball of fire around the giant. It takes [16] and roars in pain as its clothes ignite!

    Gotrek and Miri charge forward, both attacking the surprised giant from behind. They each hit, Gotrek doing [21] and Miri doing [20].

    The rest of the dwarves swarm in behind them, Delaim shouting commands and staying back with Thorgrim and Elrae for now. Four attack the large giant, with one hitting [12]. One reaches the giantess in the kitchen, hitting her for [10], while two attack the smaller, sitting giant. It takes one hit [10].

    That was a surprise round. The giants didn't have any actions. They were caught completely flat-footed. The two near Emyn and Sir Godwynn are both seated, as is the one in the kitchen. Of course, that means they still tower 6' taller than all of you! The dwarves swarmed in, and right now are in a long, strung-out line. They are attacking any giant within reach, fighting with abandon.


    Elrae casts Melf's Acid Arrow, hitting the large giant [3]. Gotrek then hits it in the legs [28].

    Realizing that he's not sure how to get safely 40' down and not fall into the fire and/or avoid being hit by giants, Noot looks around. "Maybe I didn't think that through correctly."

    Miri slashes the giant [25] with Remorse. It is reeling by the many blows!

    Sir Godwynn and Emyn hold their positions.

    The giantess turns and swats one of the dwarves with what looks like a massive frying pan. It flies backwards, landing in the corner very still.

    Thorgrim then casts Axe Storm of Clanggedin. [All dwarves with a RED halo are affected.]

    The young giant stands and smacks one of the dwarves, knocking it back against the wall. The loud crack doesn't sound good, and he doesn't move.

    The loud giant roars in rage, stomping on another dwarf which is flattened like a bug!

    Berenn then summons a Flame Strike upon the nearest giant, and it is suddenly engulfed [20].

    The large giant in the alcove grags a club, steps forward, and slams it down on another dwarf's head, which explodes in a red mist!

    The two giants by the cave mouth stand. The one that Isilme slowed grabs the tree-trunk it was sitting on and throws it at Sir Godwynn, hitting him in the face [30]. He is knocked backwards 10', and rolls down the path a bit. The other one moves up to Emyn and grabs at him, but Emyn avoids the giant with his Defensive Stance.

    Isilme drops down through the smoke, using Maerthorlear to create Hope in all her allies within range. She is in the smoke, but she make her Con roll. She's fine for now....
    Four dwarves attack the main giant, two hitting for [10 and [12]. Gotrek then hits it again, chopping it down. The other dwarves swarm forward, attacking the other three giants. One is killed by an AoO by the larger giant, but the rest make it, attacking with axes. The smaller one is hit again [5]. Another dwarf moves up and is hit by the giantess, knocking it backwards. Delaim moves up and checks him. He notes that he's alive, and he calls for aid!

    The other dwarves attack the main giant, hitting the prone form a couple times and finishing it off. [That was a VERY tough giant, BTW!]

    Sir Godwynn was knocked outside by a thrown stump. He's lying outside on the path, but not stunned or anything. I think you can see everyone else. Isilme is now shown with a normal yellow halo, to show she's actually INSIDE the structure. Noot and Manny are still atop it.

    "GILLIM!" yells the giantess when she sees her mate fall. She looks around, seeing the blows being dealt to her youngest son. When you see her gaze, it is one of pure anger and hatred!

    Gotrek looks around, and laughs at the Giant Matron. "Ye boy is DEAD. Come follow suit!"

    Round 3:

    Manny holds the rope, runs, and leaps below. Noot braces it, so that the rope swings and he lets himself go just as it clears the firepit. He does a flip, flies over a large log, and lands on his feet about 10' away from the firepit!

    Noot stays where he is, watching best he can.

    After Gotrek yells, the giantess looks at him with evil intent. She bounds over the three dwarves in her way, one of which hits her with an AoO [10]. Two more attack her when she approaches Gotrek, one hitting [11]. She then reaches out and grabs Gotrek, picking him up in the air. Her great grip does [12] as she squeezes the tough battlerager.

    "Nothing to say now little man," she scoffs. Gotrek is caught, one arm pinned, and he fails to break free as he writhes this way and that, also unable to swing Goreblade in his present state.

    "PRESS!" Thorgrim shouts. "Clanggedin, feed our fury!"
    The dwarves all miss her with both their attacks. Thorgrim moves up and attacks, avoiding and AoO by the giantess with her pan, but missing as well. Miri however slashes her with Remorse for another [19].

    Elrae casts Magic Missile, and the darts sing forth from his cittern, striking the giantess for [15].

    Berenn moves back to Sir Godwynn and casts Cure Serious wounds, healing [+17]. With a quick nod, Sir Godwynn then stands and moves back up the steps.

    The giant fails to hit Emyn. The other two hit dwarves, the larger one hitting and killing one with his club.

    Delaim bandages up the one he dragged back, then gets ready to attack.

    Isilme flies along the cave ceiling, attacking the giantess from behind with Maerthorlear. She slashes her in the back of the neck [20].

    "Mother!" cry the two giants in the center. They then go berserk! Each swings with wild abandon, knocking dwarves flying left and right.

    Miri then misses with her second attack.

    Gotrek growls in anger. He is...embarassed he cannot hit the Giantess, the Matron. He punches the Giantess with his left hand spiked gauntlets, hoping to get her release him, so he can strike with Goreblade. He looks down at Goreblade. "If ye be holding back some of the powers of Goreblade, Clangeddin, perhaps now would be a good time to unleash them!" He looks back at Giantess, and spits in her face.

    Round 4:

    "Come on Gotrek, quit playing around and kill this bitch!" cries Isilme as she gives herself over to the dance attacking the giantess relentlessly. She swings Maerthorlear, but her blow misses, trailing silver streaks through the air. [That was bad luck!]

    Manny secures the rope to the log so Noot can slide/climb down. He does this while trying to stay low, unnoticed by the giants.

    The giantess realizes that she is in a difficult place, and she hurls Gotrek at Elrae. Gotrek flies across the cave, slamming into Elrae. Elrae takes nothing (but loses a Stoneskin); however, he is knocked back 5' and falls down. Gotrek takes [22] and he too ends up on the ground, tangled up with Elrae. Elrae loses his concentration, and he fails to cast his next Magic Missle. He and Gotrek disentangle each other and both get up. Gotrek looks very angry!

    The giantess, then backs off, turning to face to the right. Thorgrim hits her with Souldrinker as she backs away, doing [13]. Miri misses as do all but one dwarf, which does [7]. Isilme also clips her [13]. [Good Attacks of Opportunity!]

    Thorgrim steps up and swings again, clipping the giantess in the leg with Souldrinker [16].

    Noot slides down the rope, ending up next to Manny.

    Sir Godwynn steps up and swings his sword at the giant before him, but misses badly, nearly hitting Emyn.

    Berenn ignites Bonefire and advances, careful to stay out of the giant's reach as he does.

    The slowed giant moves up to attack, swinging at Sir Godwynn from his flank but misses, his club banging off a rock column sending shards flying.

    The smaller giant kicks out at a dwarf, but he misses, the dwarf rolling under his leg and coming up behind him! Both dwarves hit it back [10 and 14].

    Emyn fumbles and hits Sir Godwynn, except that he can never hurt a friend like this due to his Deck of Many Things card, so it's just a miss. See? I remember stuff!

    The giant attacks Emyn again, but misses, due to Emyn's incredible defenses.

    Miri steps up to attack the giantess, but as she approaches she is hit by the giantess's frying pan right on top of her head. There is a loud CRACK! and Miri crumbles like a rag doll. She takes [42] and she is knocked out!

    With a roar, the larger of the two giants in the kitchen moves to aid his mother. He strides across the cavern, his great steps shaking loose stones from the ceiling as he moves. Delaim hits him as he goes by [10], as does another dwarf fighting the young giant [8], but he is undeterred. He moves all the up to Isilme and swings a mighty blow with his great club, but Isilme barely sees it coming and slips out of the way. [Missed by 1, and that was with the attack from behind!]

    The giant stands astride the fallen log that they used for a seat, as Isilme spins around and floats backwards, away from it.

    Delaim hits the giant again [12] and a dwarf moves up to attack, missing. Another dwarf attacks it, missing, while one goes after the giantess. She misses with an AoO, and the dwarf hits her [8].

    The dwarves all get their extra attacks now. Thorgrim misses, but one of the dwarves hits [5]. Delaim and another attack the larger of the giants, both hitting. Delaim does [7 while the other does 14.]

    Emyn also hits with his second attack [17].

    Isilme swings Maerthorlear, trailing a silver streak, and slashes the large giant in the face [21], splashing blood across the room.

    [Berenn OOC: I just figured out how to get through the giant adventures ... all we need is about 300 to 400 dwarves to use as cannon fodder.]

    [DM OOC: Dwarves are good at fighting giants! Now, who was whining incessantly about these "worthless dwarves?" ]

    [Berenn OOC: I said they were a hindrance when we were trying to be stealthy, never said worthless. They do a real good job blocking giant blows with their faces and other parts of their bodies.]

    Round 5:

    Sir Godwynn fights defensively, attempting to parry any blows by the giant before him.
    Elrae moves along the wall to his left, then casts Magic Missile at the giantess, hitting her for [13]. The singing bolts hammer her back, and Thorgrim wades into her, driving Souldrinker deep into her belly [32!]. Her eyes roll back in her head and she topples over, falling forward and atop another of the dwarves [8], trapping him beneath her.

    He groans that he's ok then adds, "Just get this big bitch off me!"

    Emyn slashes the giant before him [20].

    Isilme turns and hits the one behind her with another silver streak [20: BTW, I'm putting three of Maerthorlear's pluses to AC, giving her an AC of -10. This gives her a total of +8dam. Seemed good with giants, and she's using Silver Streaks too, so it works. If you want to change this for later actions, let me know.]

    Gotrek charges across the chamber, attacking Dude (the young giant) which misses with an AoO as Gotrek charged. Gotrek slams Goreblade into the giant [36] spilling entrails everywhere. The giants reaches down to grabs its guts, weakly swatting Gotrek [11].

    Delaim then moves away from the downed dwarf, calling again for aid as he charges the largest giant. He avoids an AoO, then plants his axe in the giant's knee [12]. The other dwarves then attack, with two hitting the young giant [8 each, bringing it down finally!]
    One charges into the big giant, again missing an AoO and then hitting it [12]. One helps the pinned dwarf, while another checks on Miri, who is breathing, but knocked out.

    Noot sneaks along the log, then hits the giant in the back of the knee. He smiles at the loud CRACK! as the giant cries in pain and drops to the ground [34!]. It collapses forward onto Sir Godwynn, who barely manages to get out of the way.

    Berenn casts Sunbow, then sheathes Bonefire.

    The giant swings at Emyn, but cannot seem to hit him. The one that Noot knocked rolls on its back and kicks Noot [10], knocking Noot backwards into the fire [5]! The last giant hits another dwarf, mashing it into almost nothing.

    All other attacks this round miss.

    Round 6 and 7:

    Elrae heads towards Thorgrim and assists on getting big momma off of the dwarf. He sheathes Snowfang.

    Emyn taunts the giant before him, which presently slaps him aside with a swipe of a club [23]. Emyn avoids being knocked by, and he strikes back hitting the giant [13].

    Emyn's getting cold-hearted, Thorgrim thinks to himself. "You two dwarves! Attend!" he shouts to those nearest him. "Get this Giantess off, then gather the wounded." And the dead, the thought finishes in his mind.

    Thorgrim grabs Miri and drags her 5 feet to the northwest. He briefly inspects her damage, casting Cure Medium Wounds, healing [15]. She wakes up, holding her aching head.

    Noot tumbles out of the fire, rolling around on the ground to put out the flames [3].

    The prone giant gets up, smacking Sir Godwynn as it does and knocking the paladin across the room [24]. Sir Godwynn gets up and attacks the giant between he and Emyn, missing.

    Berenn pumps four arrows into the giant that just got up and hit Sir Godwynn [34.] It turns back and looks mad.

    Gotrek is hit by the large giant [22], but he just ignores the blow and steps in close. He hits it with Goreblade [38]. It stumbles backwards, and Delaim steps up, hitting it again and chopping a leg out from under it [16]. As it drops to the ground, three dwarves rush to it and add their axes, slaying the beast.

    Isilme flies down to the southern part of the cave, stabbing the giant fighting Emyn in the back of the neck and slaying it. It falls backwards, out of the cave, and Berenn barely leaps out of the way. He ends up on one knee next to it and outside. Emyn is not so lucky, with the giant landing on him [12] and pinning him beneath its massive bulk.

    There is only one giant left, but it is sorely wounded. The next round, Isilme and Sir Godwynn slash it while Berenn pumps four more arrows into it, slaying it. The giants are all dead!

    Noot, seeing the giants are all dispatched will dust himself off, back into the shadows and wait for further developments. He looks around, and in the back of the cavern you find an enormous treasure bin covered by a stone slab weighing half a ton. The Giants' fortune is suitably huge, worth 24,000 gp in uncut gems. They would fill a chest in Thorgrim's portable hole.

    The dwarves gather up their wounded, which amounts to three of their kin. Another 6 were slain in the battle. However, the dwarves are in good spirits for it has been a generation since they have tasted such a battle. Delaim recommends bringing the rest of the dwarves to the island and camping overnight in the giant's cave. It is without doubt the safest place around, for nothing in the region likely passes this way. There is also ample supply of food, mostly fish and hanging meat, to furnish a decent meal.

    Emyn says, "that was a good fight. Our Dwarven friends made a great difference and deserve honour. Let us search this island for treasure. Giants always have loot even if there is no magic. My share of the money will be gifted to the dwarves as thanks for their aid in battle. "

    Isilme smiles at Gotrek and says "true and honorable battle! see, no elvish tricks as promised. "

    Gotrek slaps Delaim on the back, and shouts loudly. "Well done, lads! Nothing beats the flow of Giant blood, upon a Dwarven Axe! Except, maybe, Gutshaker!" He laughs at this, and takes a long gulp of Gutshaker. He looks at the gathered dwarves. "Any of ye want some of this?"

    The dwarves can't handle the Gutshaker; that's just the drink of Battleragers! However, Thorgrim has a keg of ale, which he is only too happy to break out this night.
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    Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:44 am  

    Part 24 - Valleys of the Horn

    Starday, 22nd of Reaping (582)

    In the morning the party continues its travels south. The mountains are indeed incredible, and the morning sun on the peaks leaves everyone breathless. The path south is not hard to follow, again an ancient road makes going easy along the valley floor. Though heavily wooded, you occasionally gain quick glimpses of the steep canyon walls to your right.

    As you continue, the dwarves spot something to the right (southeast). Moving to investigate, they find an ancient bunker, built by dwarves.

    "I don't suppose it was supposed to look like it collapsed and there is a secret door around?" asks Berenn.

    [DM OOC: In actuality, it's a WWI bunker! However, for us it's the ruins of a dwarven bunker, like a secret postern/sally port. It seems to have been destroyed centuries ago.]

    "It would appear it is going to take quite an excavation to find out if this leads anywhere," says Berenn.

    "Hello?" says Elrae. "Magic Wand." He holds it up and smirks. "But do we want to go exploring another dwarven ruin right now?" He glances at the dwarves, all of whom seem to be saying "Hell yes!" with their eyes. "No offense," he adds with a wry grin.

    "I hate to be the person to point out AGAIN we need to make our way to the horn in haste," interjects Isilme, a slight hint of irritation creeping into her voice. "We don't have time to explore every item of interest we find as we travel the countryside."

    Elrae pulls out his Wand of Earth, "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with magic wands and those who dig, and I am not going to get my hands dirty for nothing."

    Miri asks, "Can anyone's Detect Magic check to see if there is any in here?"

    Isilme pretends to cast detect magic. She walks around like she is sensing for magic then spins around facing the horn and starts shaking... "I detect GREAT magic...THERE." She points in the direction of the horn. "Now we can get the hell there before I age another hundred years?" She says, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

    "Miri," says Manny, noticing the tall warrior's sour look, "this is a battle site from when Iggy assaulted the Dwarven Holds. It is extremely unlikely that Iggy's troops left anything of value to her here. And anything magical was valuable."

    "I agree," add Berenn, "and we should continue onto the cave. If there is anything of value in here, it isn't going anywhere and we can check it out on our return."

    "Then let's not waste any more time," replies Emyn. "We can always return here later, if need be. It does seem though that we should be prepared for magical fire given the rocks themselves in that bunker melted. Whatever caused that damage might still be alive in the Horn."

    Gotrek grunts. "Yeah. How many times havecye told me we come back to something, but don't! This is a part of my Dwarvish History! Something monumental happened here. If ye be true friends, ye would wait the hour or two."

    Gotrek shrugs. "If not, me and the dwarves will catch up with ye." He looks at Elrae. "Will ye stay?"

    Isilme casts "fly," takes off a bit, then speaks to Gotrek. "Gotrek, you constantly put your passions above the fate of oerth. Frankly, I tire of it. Your actions are highly suspicious, perhaps you are an agent of Iuz."

    Isilme flies off to scout the way ahead to the horn. She then casts "Invisibility".

    "I'd say that Iggy attacked a side entrance and the dwarves collapsed the access tunnels to keep her forces out," says Manny, investigating the area. "They launched fire, probably dragon breath and fireballs, trying to burn through. The defensive blockage held. Assuming these were well-designed dwarven defenses, it would be a complete waste of time to assume we could easily dig through. If it was a defensive site that you put 50 years to, do you think you could dig through it in an hour?"

    Watching Isilme and Gotrek, Manny plays peacemaker. "Yes, something monumental happened here. Iggy attacked the dwarves. As to friends; I hardly know you all. Unlike Miri there, I am not motivated by the desire for money. I am here to prevent Iggy and her associates from wrecking anymore of my world. You may do as you like, the dwarven defenses are certainly worthy of attention. I, however, wish to defeat her and her ugly son, in the here and now, not some distant time in the future when you will be available."

    Thorgrim doesn't want to wait to see what Gotrek will do. He rapps on the door, then turns around, eyeing Gotrek. "There is nothing to see here. The bunker sounds like it goes back about 20' before being totally sealed."

    Noot finds a small piece of armor with a dwarven rune on it. Kholaduhr, the ancient clan from which all dwarves in the region descend.

    "Their great city was laid waste centuries ago by demons summoned by the Witch-Queen Iggwilv," says Delaim sadly. "This is another reason we have come," and his tone morphs from sadness to steel.

    Gotrek looks around, then relents, again. "Let us move on then," he says as he turns around and starts walking. He mumbles something and Noot hears "least I got to kill some giants." With a smile, the others follow.

    Isilme returns form scouting shortly thereafter and reports. "I flew down the valley and saw mountains that I never imagined in my many years in the underdark. Absolutely breathtaking. Just about a mile or so further up the valley, I saw another large valley to my right. It seemed the cliffs were carved with images of dwarven warriors."

    This gets Gotrek's attention again, but he just spits. "Bah, probably just keep walkin' even if we walk by Moradin himself."

    "I looked further up the valley," she continues. "It seemed to form a Y with one valley branching to the SW and another to the SE. Between the two valleys stands a high, flat-topped mountain. I say we take whatever path the dragon directed that get us to the horn with all haste."

    Isilme then casts Farspeaker, and hands out some boxes to the others. "I will take one and scout further," she says before flying off again.

    Isilme meets the party on the road south, after they decided to leave the old dwarven bunker alone. The party then continued onwards until they saw the mountains which Isilme described.

    When the Azcral dwarves see the mountain with the carved dwarven kings, they stand speechless. Even Thorgrim and Gotrek have heard of this place. You are looking upon Durren's Rock, the entrance to the lost dwarven kingdom of Kholaduhr, original homeland of all the Yatil mountain dwarves.

    Miri says, "Now isn't that something, very, very nice."

    Elrae moves over to Gotrek. "Once we are done saving Oerth by liberating Iggwilv's Horn from evil, we should totally explore these mountains. There is a lot of unfinished business here."

    "Aye," he replies somberly.

    Delaim takes a few steps toward Durren's Rock, then he slashes his hand with a dagger. He makes a fist, holding it out before him and squeezing the blood out on the rocks at his feet. "I swear by the blood of Durren which runs in my veins, I shall return. We shall regain Kholaduhr."

    Thorgrim grunts in approval. "Perhaps this is what Clanggedin wills for me," he thinks. "Perhaps he wants to test my mettle assisting other Dwarves in their aims before He allows me possession of my home."

    Thorgrim takes a deep breath, composing himself, before continuing, "Gotrek, these are Kingdoms of the Dead, and the dead keep them. Let your concern be for living Dwarves, and those who will live after. We make for the Horn. We can investigate this area later, at our leisure. We still have a lost expedition to find, as well."

    Gotrek nods in respect. "I will help ye," says Gotrek, nodding to Delaim. "I cannot speak for my companions," but I will by your side when the day comes."

    Noot mumbles under his breath, "Dwarves and their oaths . . . "

    The party then continues south. Soon they come to the Y intersection of valleys that Isilme spoke of, and see the great flat-topped mountain between them, directly ahead.

    Isilme returns to the party as they reach the Y of the valley, at the edge of the flat top mountain. There are two valleys, one to the southwest (that's the direction you were given towards The Horn) while another goes to the southeast. She isn't certain, but there does seem to be a large, distinct mountain to the southeast. Here are some images:
    Google Earth view towards the southest, with the flat top mountain on the left.

    To the southeast, there is another large lake covering the valley floor. The mountain massif beyond that lake is the largest you have seen during this trek. This is the one you were told by the dwarves is "The Horn of Iggwilv" though remember, none of them has seen it, since none are old enough to have ever been out of their home. However, it seems likely as this is also where Clonoc said to find it.

    Looking up the southwest valley, the way looks pretty rough with very jagged peaks.

    It's early morning, the party only having traveled about two miles total.

    [DM OOC: The reason I point out that nobody is "sure" exactly which peak is The Horn is because nobody has seen it. I gave you a pretty damn good map to it, circled it, etc., but it was all provided by dwarves who have not ever been there. They are going by their 400 year old maps. Don't blame me if nobody ever asked for more specific info. :) Also, you have no idea where you will find entrances, and finding them is all part of the process. Good luck!]

    Emyn says, "Maybe if we got on the flat top mountain, we might get a better sense of where we should go."

    "It's supposed to be the tallest in the area," says Manny. "Looks likely. I would imagine it would be easier to decide from a higher view point, but that can be done by a flyer rather than climb a mountain. And it is likely to have been a road to Iggy's base. I can't imagine all of her orcs being able to fly or teleport in when they delivered tribute. So let's try the way the dwarves suggested and look for the remnants of the road. I suspect the trick is surviving finding it."

    "I will go investigate the southeast peaks," says Isilme. "Rest here and await my return."

    "I miss the days when we just looked for a secret entrance through the sewers?" Elrae japes.

    Isilme flies up to the large peak in the distance to the southeast. Berenn and Emyn see a difficult trail leading up to the top of the flat mountain. They also think they they see ruins atop it, but cannot tell from the valley floor. Looking back, the party sees that other large peak in the distance to the west. It is also quite striking.

    The party rests, and after a couple of hours Isilme reports. She flew all the way there, coming around the mountains in the front that blocked her view a bit, and said that it's pretty obvious which peak is the horn. It's the western peak.

    Further, Isilme spotted a few interesting things. First, there are ruins atop the flattop mountain. She didn't investigate them, but it looks like it may have been a large town or small city. Second, there are many caves around the Horn of Iggwilv. She spotted a few more established entrances though. Finally, there is a village to the south of the Horn, about a mile away beyond it to the east, inhabited by gnomes.

    "Gnomes..." Thorgrim mutters, stroking his beard and noting how it's grown out since his Soul Burn. "We may best hope our reputation hasn't preceded us. I can barely believe they live unmolested in this area. It seems to me they would know much of the mountain...but they may try to thwart our aims."

    He shakes his head loose from his musings. "Still, they could hardly do so, unless they were servants of Iggwilv herself. Perhaps a brief visit to the Gnome village? We may learn much of value, and save time and lives on our trek. I'm not sure what approach to use if we do so, other than a direct one. We can hardly blend in."

    Isilme replies via her Farspeaker box. "It will take a good day to reach the Horn, and the gnome village is on the FAR side of the mountain. It would probably take a full extra day or two to get to it on foot. I did find what is clearly the main entrance to the caves. There is a path leading up the central mountain valley, and then a stone stairway branching up to the left leading to a cave. The stairs continue up the peak, though it is collapsed a few hundred feet further and it seems a large chunk of the peak collapsed some time ago.

    The party has to go around the lake which fills the valley, then continue on to the Horn, going up the mountain's central valley. It doesn't look like too difficult a path, just time consuming. The can basically just follow the river which flows down from the great mountain massif. Here is a map which shows the area and the party's current progress. This view is from above and to the southeast, looking back to the northwest, showing where you are in relation to where you have been.
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    Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:48 am  
    Part 25 - My Little Demonic Pony

    The party is traveling along an ancient road. They reach the lake where they find a stone causeway almost 2000' long spanning the edge. Large waterfalls pour into the lake from both sides of the steep valley. The party is crossing the causeway when they are startled by a roar even louder than the waterfalls. Looking above, they see a massive creature, nearly 50' long, looking down upon them from a ledge about 50' above them.

    This beast could have come only from the depths of a fever dream. It has three heads, each possessed of unholy, gleaming eyes. The head on the right is that of a sharp-horned goat, on the left, a dragon with scales of shadow, and in the center, snorting bursts of dark smoke, a black horse with a mane of fire that trails down the creature’s back. Its forequarters belong to the horse, with hooves of flame, while its hindquarters are those of a goat. It possesses draconic wings and a matching tail.

    Emyn starts firing arrows at the beast. "Spread out! IF this thing can breathe fire, it can hurt us in great numbers. I know not what this beast is but if it bleeds we can kill it!" he shouts.

    "Where's Bellerophon and Pegasus when you need them?" says Elrae, quickly checking to see if his stone skin is still on. He draws Snowfang and starts to sing, "Creature of flame and despair, daughter of Typhon and Echidna, prepare to meet thy doom." [OOC: Using bard power.]

    [DM OOC: I think I should be more clear. The thing is on a ledge about 50' above you and about 100' away. OK, it's not perfect, but it'll work. You are on a long causeway, maybe 2000' long which crosses the edge of the lake. The lake is only maybe 5' deep here. The land to the right is a cliff face going straight up, with the thing on a ledge. It will fly down at you next!]

    [DM OOC: I think positions are obvious. Everyone except Manny it in front of the dwarves. You are not surprised because one of Manny's hawks (not shown) cawed loudly as the thing appeared! Anyway, it's not the best map, but it shows everyone correctly, along with distances. So, let's go!]

    [Berenn OOC: OOC: Close ... I believe it is a cauchimera. Nasty creature if I recall correctly.]

    [DM OOC: That's a 3rd ed monster! Oh, I forgot, I don't care about such things! ]

    Round 1:

    The cauchimera (yep, that's what it is!) leaps from the ledge and dives towards the causeway. When it gets close it breathes a dark, smoky cone which wafts out over the dwarves. When it passes, nearly a dozen drop to ground, weakened (and having lost a level!).

    Berenn casts Protection from Fire upon himself.

    Thorgrim casts Holy Orb, hitting the creature for [20]. It howls in anger and swivels its heads, all three, right at him!

    Miri runs away up the causeway, while Gotrek stands before Thorgrim, guarding him.

    "Run!" shouts Delaim, when he sees the creature's deadly power. "We are sitting ducks out here!" He then grabs the nearest of the Azcral dwarves and shoves them along the causeway. The rest start to run that way too. Enough stop to aid their weakened companions, while others rush past everyone and run down the causeway. Two step in front of the fallen dwarves to protect them, and a couple fall off the causeway into the water. It's only a few feet deep right at the edge, so they aren't sinking into the abyss!

    Manny fires two arrows into the beast [1, and 2: 3 total]. Emyn also hits with one [4].

    Sir Godwyn takes out his sword and moves up beside Thorgrim and the others, trusting in the blessings of Rao to protect him from the beast.

    Noot runs off as well, easily outpacing everyone!

    The dwarves with the little dots have gained a Negative Level. The little squares show that there is another figure there. Those are other dwarves picking them up and trying to get them to safety. Miri and Noot are off the screen to the top-right. The cauchimera is actually about 15' high right now too, so it's not in range of any hand weapons right now.

    [DM OOC: TW, here's a real pic of the real life causeway here. I was actually basing my map off a piece of screen shot from a causeway battle during Market Garden in WWII, but oh well. Anyway, this is what it looked like in 1900, looking in the direction you are going, towards the Horn of Iggwilv which is Monte Cristallo in reality.]

    There's also the german name of the lake, Durrensea, which I'll keep. Sounds better the Landro's Lake! It also has the Durren root which works with the dwarven flavor of the area.

    Round 2:

    The cauchimera suddenly just drops right onto the dwarves. Berenn and Manny both note that its movements had nothing to do with its wings or the aerodynamics of any winged creatures they have ever seen, for it should not have been able to so quickly and decisively change its speed and direction. Such flight could only be supernatural in nature.

    It squashes about a half-dozen dwarves, while the rest around it are scattered, rolling off to the sides. Some fall into the water, where they will struggle to get up like their fellows. A dwarven axe is seen lodged into the beasts belly [10], testimony that at least one of the dwarven guards got in a good shot as the thing fell upon them.

    Berenn casts Holy Orb on the beast again, almost simultaneously. It takes [20], and it is clearly not pleased! It's nightmare head hisses out smoke which fills the area, making the thing hard to see.

    It kicks at Delaim with two flaming hooves which miss, but you cannot fail to notice the very earth beneath them smoking after the strikes. The dragon head bites Gotrek [12], and the goat head butts Thorgrim [14]. Thorgrim loses his second Holy Orb and is knocked backwards 5' and to the ground.

    Gotrek moves forward and swings at the beast, hitting with Goreblade [18].

    Sir Godwynn steps up, slashing the thing's goat head [3], forcing it to back away from him. He can tell that the thing doesn't like him.

    The rest of the dwarves run off with Miri and Noot, while those around the beast back away, pulling themselves from the frigid water best they can. They regroup behind the thing with the unwounded ones forming a shield wall across the causeway to defend the others. Some crawl out around the party and scramble out of the way, while one drags Thorgrim back out of harms way as well.

    Delaim then swings at the central head, hitting it [14].

    Elrae has no clear shot with Snowfang, so he charges forward, pointing Snowfang over the head of Delaim as he sends a cone of cold into the beast [18].

    Finally, Emyn fires two shots at it, but they both miss as he doesn't have a clear shot.

    It has now landed.

    Round 3:

    The cauchimera attacks. It rears back and strikes Delaim with two hooves [15 and 16: 31 total.] Each blow sets the dwarf's clothing on fire [4 and 2: 6 total]. He is knocked backwards and to the ground.

    The dragon head bites Gotrek [14], while the goat head and the nightmare head bite Elrae, but with Stoneskin do nothing.

    Thorgrim rises with help from one of the Azcral, then casts Axe Storm of Clanggedin.

    Berenn draws Bonefire, igniting it and casting Sunbow, while Elrae casts Wall of Ice above the thing, dropping a horizontal wall upon its back [12] as it crashes down on it.

    Four more dwarves charge, emboldened by the blessings of Clanggedin they just received. Two take hits by the thing as they approach, but all make it, and two hit [12 and 7] with extra attacks.

    Emyn and Gotrek both miss, but Gotrek then hits with two extra attacks [18 and 22].

    "Do you really think you can defeat all of us?" mocks Elrae who shows a rare form of bravery and strikes with Snowfang.

    The beast cries out, flying up and away in a quick bound. Berenn sheathes Bonefire, then fires a shot at it, but misses. Manny also fires, hitting it [5]. However, the cauchimera flies away, horrific cries coming from it as it flees. Watching, it flies towards the flat mountain, trailing smoke as it disappears from view.

    "We drove the beast off," says Emyn, "but what scared it away? I doubt it was us. We need to get off this causeway with all haste and watch the water and the skies!"

    "I think it was us, but I agree we should get off this causeway," Thorgrim says. He looks to see if any of the mortally wounded can be saved.

    Only two dwarves perished, and Berenn's rod can take care of the others. Those which suffered negative levels are alive, but weakened. Noot will render aid to any of the dwarves who are injured. They are very greatful, though they try to act like they don't need help, as dwarves do.

    Isilme returns about the same time the group gets across the causeway. They find a sheltered spot in the trees where they can rest. Manny keeps lookout, his birds circling around to ensure the strange beast doesn't return.

    [DM OOC: As for the dwarves, they are all 2nd level. Well, except for the two leaders who or 4th and 5th. Anyway, there are 7 left now that have negative levels. They can roll to regain them tomorrow. They can still function, however, in the mean time.]

    Mir says, "What if that was a baby?"

    Delaim looks up at Miri. "What are ye talking about?" he asks.

    "Just saying, what if that was only a young one, and there are parents about?" she replies.

    "That thing was bigger than our greatest forge," says Delaim with a sense of dread. "I hope it was not just a baby." He looks back up towards the flat-topped mountain, barely visible through the trees.

    Thorgrim follows his gaze. "That encounter could've been much worse," he says. "I'd like to track that beast and slay it, but it distracts us from our goal. It will have to wait. Perhaps Clonoc could assist us in that task or even allow one to ride him, for aerial combat."

    Isilme informs the party she found the entrance to the horn, and the most feasible way to get to it. Looking back up, she adds, "What do you plan on doing about this creature you spoke of?"

    Miri mumbles, "Pray it is not a fast healer."

    "I would feel safer knowing that foul creature was unable to harass us at a later," says Berenn. "It is wounded which will make it more dangerous."

    "Berenn, what you say is true," Thorgrim begins, "But we haven't a moment to lose. Still, it would be unseeming to be caught by surprise while ascending a cliff face. Isilme, does your route include any vertical ascents? If it does, I'd say take the critter out, first. Otherwise on to the Horn."

    Looking up you can see it's a virtual cliff face all the way to the top where the cauchimera flew. "There was a path back at the Y of these valleys which wound precariously up the point of the flat top mountain," says Isilme, but we'd have to backtrack a few hours. We should just move on to the horn, maybe get there before that beast returns."
    A chorus of "To the Horn" comments come from all, as the party decides to make all haste. As they head towards the Horn, Elrae calls out, "Did you see how that cauchimera fled when it gazed upon Snowfang? It inspired a new song." He then starts to play his cittern and sing:

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    And I captivate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
    (Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh )

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    See me dominate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
    (Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh)

    You think you've got what it takes to go toe to toe?
    I've got more moves than you'll ever know
    I own the stage, I'm all the rage
    You're from the past, I'm from the Space Age

    Come on, you're just making noise
    Listen how my music destroys
    Anything you throw at me
    I'm gonna throw back, just wait and see-ee

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    And I captivate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat
    (Oh, whoa, oh-oh-oh-oh)

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    See me dominate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat

    I'm here to take you down a peg
    Oh, whoa, oh-whoa-oh-whoa-oh-oh
    By the time I'm done, you're gonna beg
    Oh, whoa, oh-whoa-oh-whoa-oh-oh
    To be in my band, application rejected!

    Don't look so sad and so dejected
    (And so dejected)

    Don't mean to brag, don't mean to boast
    But I'm a six-course meal and you're just burnt toast
    Think I'm gonna ever give up?
    No, never, ever, ever, ever!

    Come on, you're just making noise
    Listen how my music destroys
    Anything you throw at me
    I'm gonna throw back, just wait and see-ee

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    And I captivate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat

    Ya better believe
    I got tricks up my sleeve
    See me dominate
    'Cause I'm powerful and grea-ea-eat!

    Though Miri applauds, Noot suffers in silence.

    "And your singing is going to bring it back and more angry than it was before," Berenn mumbles.
    Master Greytalker

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    Posts: 655

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    Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:54 am  
    Part 26 - The Hidden Temple

    Sorry for the absence. Work has been crazy! Anyway, I will now return to the adventures of the Heroes of Hommlet. We left off as they were seeking Iggwilv's Horn and the Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth. They just fought off the cauchimera at the causeway, though they did not slay it.

    "Before we go," says Manny, "someone should check our wounded. We will need to be in good shape to enter a fiend's lair."

    "By 'fiend's lair' I assume you are speaking of the dungeon-entrance to the Horn of Iggwilv," replies Thorgrim as he moves to tend to the Azcral dwarves. "Because that seems to be the direction we're heading." It is clear they lost a few of their dwarven allies on the causeway, and Thorgrim is obviously pained.

    He looks to Delaim, speaking loudly. "This land swarms with fell creatures. What horrors lie in the mountain, we soon shall see. Delaim, where does your mandate end? I would see you and your kin in secure halls once more."

    Delaim looks at Thorgrim. "Would you have us leave, after all we have faced together?" He looks pained to even ask the question.

    Thorgrim casts his eyes downward, embarrassed. "Of course, you're right. I would be ashamed to deny you the glory of combat." He looks Delaim in the eye and clasps his shoulder. "I will not speak of it again."

    Thorgrim and Berenn then tend to the party's wounds, with Berenn using the Rod of Xodal to heal the dwarves. Some have died, and some are left weakened by the beast.

    [DM OOC: Dwarf count is down to 41, 6 of whom are currently suffering a negative level.]

    After another couple more hours, the party reaches the foot of the mountain. It is an intersection between four valleys. It is a huge riverbed with a raised road which leads left, right, and ahead. An ancient rock signpost stands at the intersection of the raised causeways, written in strange runes that resemble dwarven. To the right it says Red ____, the second glyph broken and worn off. To the left it says Misery. The route ahead leading up the valley towards the Horn has a glyph that nobody recognizes.

    The valley you have followed has ascended a few hundred feet and here it branches left and right. To the right through the trees the party sees only more massive peaks, rising starkly in the afternoon sun.

    To the left the valley also rises, following a small rivulet of ice cold water which leads to another massive peak.

    Emyn asks if a mage might have a spell that would let them read that last glyph.

    "It doesn't matter," replies Isilme. "It doesn't look like a language, but more of a symbol. What it means cannot be determined by a spell." She looks up at the peaks ahead. "Besides, our way is obviously onward." She then continues ahead.

    They spend a few more hours hiking up the valley of the Horn. It leads straight into the heart of the mountain. You eventually reach a tight gorge, where you have to travel 2 abreast for a hundred yards or so. One you pass that point, the valley begins to open up again.

    Clouds have built up around the higher peaks, but Berenn says there will be no rain. The stream bed you are following continues up, and you see the great cleft in the mountain ahead and to the left. Immediately to the left of the cleft rises the Horn of Iggwilv. It will take a few more hours of tough hiking to get around the next promontory and begin the last ascent towards the Horn. According to Isilme, the last part is the steepest, most difficult part. However, a stair, cut into the rock, leads you to the entrance. It is a long climb, maybe a thousand feet or more.

    "Looks like we finally found the place," says Berenn with forebodding. "Hope it was worth the search!"

    Suddenly there is a loud screech from up above. Manny looks up just in time to see one of his hawks, Teivor, diving straight down towards him. Before he can act, it hits him in the face, clawing him wildly, clawing him [1] and pecking him in the eye [2]. Manny is blinded in that eye! (it's only temporary--for 6 rounds).

    Bow out, Emyn puts an arrow through the hawk, slaying it instantly. It falls to the ground with a light thud where it lies unmoving.

    "Emyn!" cries Thorgrim, but too late. Teivor is clearly dead, and Thorgrim moves up to Emyn, grabbing him roughly. "You are always first to attack the possessed," he scolds him. "Pray that you never become so again, lest others follow your example."

    Berenn says he prayer over it and carefully hands it over to Manny. "The unnecessary loss of life is always tragic, but it is especially tragic when it happens to a virtually helpless animal."

    Elrae looks at Emyn in utter disgust, "We could have saved Manny's trained raptor."

    [Elrae OOC: We are going to have to call Emyn, Dave Winfield now based on how he treats birds. (For those too young to remember, Winfield killed a seagull by throwing a baseball at it.)]

    [Berenn OOC: We can now add bird killer to Goldie's long list of negative adjectives!]

    Manny says nothing. He just walks away and buries Teivor in a small cairn. He then sends his other birds back down to the crossroads area. He tells them to fend for themselves, and he will return for them later. They fly off back down the valley, and the party continues up the steep slope.

    A blanket of sadness covers the party as they continue their journey up the valley. None speak, as they reach the head of the valley. There the party finds that there are actually TWO entrances to the mountain. There is the high one which Isilme found earlier, at the top of the thousand steps which leads to a worked cave (I posted a pic of that earlier). However, there is another at the base, a cavern with an entrance that seems like a fanged maw.

    Miri looks at the entrance then up the long stairs and says, "Either one I suppose. I don't mind the steps."

    "All that is missing a large sign saying 'Abandon hope all ye who enter'", Berenn mumbles.

    "Let us continue to the peak entrance," says Isilme. "This one just invites danger."

    Noot checks inside. It leads to a cavern about 40' wide, 70' long, and over 20' high in the central area. It has obviously been used in the recent past. The walls and ceiling are blackened by soot, and there are bits of broken weapons and armor and discarded gear scattered around. At the back of the place is a smaller cave 20' wide, 30' long, and 15' high. At the easternmost end of the cave is a 10' wide passage slanting steeply down. Steps have been roughly hewn in its floor to allow easier passage. The tunnel leads down into the heart of the mountain.

    Miri moves up behind Noot. "These weapons and gear are not old," she says. "I wonder if this is what is left of the other party?"

    "That would be a logical assumption," says Berenn, also moving inside. "But you have to wonder what destroyed the party."

    "Iuzians," says Noot, standing and moving away.

    Thorgrim moves in and looks around. "Looks more like a temporary base camp for evildoers," Thorgrim says. "It seems to me that enterring here would be a mistake. Let's start at the top. If we need to descend into the heart of the mountain to attain our goal, we can do so later."

    The party agrees, hoping to find an easier way inside, and begins the long trek up the stairs. It will take about three hours to climb the stairs.

    [DM OOC: BTW, this is based on the average time it takes to climb the stairs of the Empire State Bldg, about the same height. Normally, it takes a fit person about 40min. Taking into account two things, your encumbrance and the fact that you are climbing stairs without a railing as opposed to a nice safe interior stairway, and it takes longer. So, I have arrived at 3 hours. That also assumes a rest every 100' or so. Anyway, I say this to show where I got the figure and to forestall the inevitable comments about it. So, just go with it!]

    The group starts to mount the stairs.

    "We should rope off to each other," says Miri. When nobody even answers her, she shrugs and continues, but keeps rope handy.

    About 10 dwarves stay behind, the five that suffered from the flying beast, and another five to aid them. That's 10 to guard the entrance/bottom of the stairs. The rest of you begin the long trek up the stairs.

    About halfway up the stairs, Noot is suddenly attacked by two creatures. They look like gargoyles, but with a more rocky hide. They had blended into the rock, so he couldn't see them. One attacks him and the other attacks Miri. Everyone is on this single-file stair, which is quite the precarious perch.

    The only ones who can even see them are those in the front, from Elrae forward, since they were somewhat behind a small bend in the cliff face. This map is hard to use; however, let me say that there is a straight cliff up on the top of the trail and a straight cliff DOWN on the bottom. So, there is only space for one person/token. I really couldn't make the map much better, but let me reiterate, there is ONLY room for one at a time on the steps. Also, ignore the arid background. It's just there to be a contrast. Really all that matters is the path.

    Isilme is not flying, but she isn't worried with her boots of levitation. She also is invisible, just walking along behind Miri and likely talking to Elrae.

    Manny is in the far rear of the line taking up the rear, so he does nothing.

    Noot draws blades and parries.

    Gotrek growls, but he cannot do anything. In fact, most cannot do anything. Isilme uses her boots to levitate 20' straight up. She's still invisible.

    Miri swings Remorse, hitting the Margoyle for [18]. It attacks back, hitting her with two horns [6 and 3: total 9]. She makes her dex check, and avoids falling off the cliff.

    [DM OOC: As you can see, this simple encounter may turn deadly VERY fast!]

    Noot is missed by all four attacks.

    Elrae casts Magic MIssile, hitting the one attacking Miri [17]. Miri misses with her second attack.

    Emyn has his bow and fires a shot, hitting one. The arrow just bounces off, and he knows he cannot hurt these things with them.

    There is a loud cry which makes everyone glance up. A few hundred feet above can be seen two more margoyles, and beyond them a couple more. They are diving down towards the group....

    Emyn also shouts, "Dwarves link arms! These things might decide to grab us one by one and drop us off the side."

    Isilme casts Fly, while Noot tumbles behind the margoyle, coming up with his back to the wall.

    The margoyle attacks Miri again, butting her with its horns [6]. Miri maintains her balance, swinging back with Remorse and missing.

    Manny calls for the dwarves to locks hands, then takes out his Rod of Security. He takes out his haversack, searches for his Rod of Security, and prepares to transport everyone to safety. "We just need to lock hands," he shouts.

    The dwarves ignore him and all back up to the wall, facing out, and lock shields in as near a shield wall as can be made on the stairs.

    Berenn casts Spiritual Hammer, smacking the margoyle attacking Miri [5].

    The other margoyles dive, with the two center ones reaching the ledge. One attacks the dwarves near Gotrek, knocking into one and sending him toppling over the edge. He falls, bouncing off the rocks until he impacts the bottom 500' below. The other attacks Sir Godwyn, who impales the margoyle first [16]. It attacks him with four attacks, hitting with its horns for [5], but Sir Godwyn holds his ground, back against the wall.

    The one attacking Noot spins around, attacking him four times and missing each time as Noot stays defensive.

    Emyn summons Trithereon's Avengers, and two Giant Hornets appear. They attack the two that are still 200' up.

    Thorgrim casts Holy Orb, bringing the wrath of Clanggedin down on the three at the head of the line. The two fighting Miri and Sir Godwynn both are slain by the holy power, while the one fighting Noot takes [34]. Noot takes [6]. Miri takes [20]. Elrae takes [10] and Emyn takes [6].

    The two dwarves next along the stairs to the lower Margoyle attack, missing.

    With a wild yell, Gotrek leaps over the dwarf below him, landing atop the Margoyle and burrying Goreblade in its back [20!].

    Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting the one fighting Noot and destroying it!

    Gotrek and two dwarves hit the last margoyle, killing it, while the two fliers fly away, chased by the giant hornets. Battle over!

    Miri takes a length of ropee and ties one end arround Noot's waist, the middle part around her waist and when she sees who is walking behind her the other end around his waist. Then she says, "I can't force the rest of you to rope up but I plead with you to do so. Twice I just came close to falling off these stairs, help protect those of us who are a bit more clumsy then the rest of you."

    "No arguments from me," says Vaddarra.

    Thorgrim says a prayer for the soul of our fallen comrade. "I apologize," he says to Miri "We should have listened to you." Then he ropes up with the others.

    After another couple hours, youmake it up to the top, where you can enter the Horn itself. You are still well below the peak, and maybe 500' below a couple glaciers that cover the dark side of the mountain's northern face here. The air is very cool now, and the wind whips strongly by. Once everyone is up, the party takes a break and then enters the cave. Inside is a wonder beyond description.

    You can assume that figure up above is Isilme, so you get an idea of size. The cave rises hundreds of feet straight up, completely out of sight except for the shaft of light coming from somewhere far above. It pierces the cave along with a thin waterfall, falling together upon an ancient temple half collapsed and still brimming with magical energy. In fact, it is entirely possible now that you look that the light is also coming from the temple itself.

    While you are staring in awe, Isilme speaks from just above you, invisible to all. "Impressive, isn't it?" You learn from Isilme that the shaft goes up quite a ways, she estimates about 500' or so where the water pour in from outside, likely from under the glacier. The cave continues up another 1000' or so until it emerges at the top of the peak.

    Emyn gazes with awe and says, "What deity does this place honour?"

    "No good one," mutters Berenn.

    Isilme also points out another shaft, this one in the rear of the cave and leading straight down into the darkness. It is about 10' wide and perfectly circular.

    [DM OOC: Yes, I know it's not perfectly round, but again, I had to do some retouching to make it look even that close. Work with me!]

    Isilme didn't go down there as it goes straight down beyond what she can see with her drow infravision.

    Emyn and Sir Godwyn both feel evil in the area, a palpable sense of forebodding that is as real as the very air. The both concentrate upon it, and sense it coming from the strange temple.

    Emyn says, "Evil remains here. I feel it in my bones. We should tread lightly and remove the source of evil if we can. Does anyone know a way to prevent fear from taking hold? It would be a terrible death if one of us ran off the cliff in an attempt to flee. "

    Miri lights a torch and looks down the hole. It is totally smooth. In fact, it looks very much like the walls of the tunnels Elrae made with his wand, when he used the Passwall ability.

    "Maybe I could climb down it," says Noot, "but probably not, and there's no telling how far it goes."

    "Let us check that temple," says Emyn, steeling himself. He strides forward, his sword out, to investigate this shrine more closely, praying to Trithereon for his divine protection.

    Miri walks with him, and suddenly the two feel "weakened". [DM OOC: In game terms this equates to a -1 Negative Level.] This occurs when you cross the 30' approach boundary.

    Emyn says, "I feel weakened in this place, friends. Be wary." Miri backs away as Emyh proceeds. He suffers another -1 Negative Level when he crosses the 10' boundary as hers goes away when she leaves the area.

    Miri calls out, "it seems the weekness goes away when you move away from the temple."

    Committed, Emyn continues. He sees that the water from the waterfall basically falls right into the temple. There are magical energies present, as can be seen. What the nature of that magic is, he is uncertain. However, it "feels" like he has sensed it before, though he cannot place it. He also notes that the water that hits the temple is evaporating, as if landing in a fire, but there is no fire.

    "I fear further effort may unnecessarily attract the attention of evil gods who would seek to thwart us," says Thorgrim. "Let us explore this place and move on. Emyn, quit playing in the waterfall and let's go."

    Emyn ignores Thorgrim as Isilme casts "Negative Plane Protection", then draws morlather, entering the temple area and detecting for the source of evil. "Morlather guide my hand," she whispers.

    The spell protects Isilme from the baneful effects. She stops after crossing the threshold, because she doesn't experience the normal "thunderclap" as the positive energy of her spell counters the draining energy of the Negative Plane. This is definitely something new. She then passes Emyn and enters the temple itself.

    Isilme joins Emyn in the temple. He is much relieved to find that he doesn't suffer any more ill-effects. There isn't much to the temple, just an altar in the center. The place is full of magical energy, and Isilme senses that it is energy of a type very similar to that used by Hepla's mother, and to a lesser degree Hepla as well. [DM OOC: btw, using your proficiencies to get this!] Further, they find some writing in a strange language, ancient glyphs carved into the bare stone altar in the center.

    баба Яга

    "Baba Yaga?" Emyn guesses.

    Far away at home, Hepla gets an eerie chill and goosebumps appear on her as she shivers from a touch of dread.

    "Yes, good guess," replies Isilme. "Considering that Iggwilv was Baba Yaga's daughter..... It's only fitting the greatest witch in history paid homage to her mother, the queen of witches."

    "We should go back the way we came," Thorgrim calls. "Or down that hole," he says, eyeballing it. "Perhaps we should've explored the lower entrance a little more thoroughly. This pit may well intersect with those levels. I've no desire to descend by rope unless required."

    Thorgrim looks down the hole and can tell that the hole was NOT made by natural forces. "Best guess is that it was made with Passwall spells," he says, remembering Elrae's wand. "However, that must have happened centuries ago, for the hole is weathered. Water has flowed through it in large amounts, likely from the waterfall which at the moment is small being mid/late summer."

    Isilme and Emyn decide that there is nothing to be gained at the temple, and they finally follow Thorgrim's advice and back away from the temple. When they leave, Emyn finds that he regains some of his strength. [DM OOC: he regains the first negative level, but not the second.]

    Moving to the hole, Emyn looks in too. "Unless we can find a way down this hole safely, we might as well go back downstairs," he says.

    "My suggestion is leaving and returning below," says Berenn. "I can drop down safely, but I can't carry anyone with me and I don't see how the rest of you will be getting down."

    "If no one else will do it I will," says Elrae. He casts Stoneskin, then casts Fly, draws Snowfang, and descends into the hole. "If I am not back in 10 minutes then go on without me."

    "I will regale people with your adventures years from now," says Berenn. "And when he gets to this point I will simply say, 'And that is why you'll never see Elrae again to this very day!'"
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    Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:00 am  
    Part 27 - Down the Rabbit Hole

    Emyn drops a lit torch down the hole to see how far it goes. It falls down so far you can't tell, at least 500', before hitting bottom and bouncing away. There is dim light down there, but you can't see anything. It's so far and hard to see that you just see the light.

    Before Elrae leaves, he gives his Wand of Earth and Stone to Isilme and she casts Farspeaker and gives him one of the boxes. He then flies down (it's a three minute trip to the bottom) while she uses Passwall where the water near the temple flows into some cracks. She uses three charges, but fails to find any kind of larger passages. Frustrated, she tucks away the wand and gives up. At about this time Elrae makes it to the bottom.

    It is a very large underground chamber, fashioned over many, many centuries from the flow of water through underground cracks and passages. It abounds with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flows, etc., and the flickering light from Emyn's torch plays interestingly along the intricate walls.

    Elrae notes that the hole through which he traveled was NOT natural, though it does show sign of erosion. In fact, water seems to have flowed out from the hole for many centuries, pouring along the ceiling before forming wondrous stalactites and stalagmites. There is a large basin directly under the hole, which holds about 10' of crystal clear water. A "stream" runs from it or would if the water were just a few feet higher. It flows along around the central stalagmites, curving in a great arc and disappearing out another tunnel. There is another dark tunnel directly opposite, and the dark shadows along the cavern's far walls seems to possibly hide even more exits.

    All the rest of the cavern is shrouded in darkness, as the only thing illuminating the chamber is a combination of Snowfang's light blue and the flame from Emyn's torch.

    So, Elrae can tell you that with the Farspeaker.

    "Good news, everyone," Thorgrim says. "This hole was made long ago. We have not yet been beaten in this race." He looks relieved. "I've got a 300-foot rope, and with the rest of the party we can extend that quite a bit. Still, a dangerous road. It would take us an hour or more to get everyone down that way."

    "Do you really want to risk a 500' drop when we could just rest up and descend by the stairs in the morning?" asks Berenn. "Seems like we are taking some unnecessary risks, I am not at risk, but one small slip from anyone else and they will make a pretty blood splat on the cavern floor."

    Miri looks down the hole and takes a step back. "I don't relish the idea of a rope climb but I will do whatever the party wants."

    While they discuss their options up above, Elrae picks up the torch, so he can see better, then walks around a bit, staying in this chamber.

    The bright light shows what he can actually see. There's an exit on the ledge to the southeast, a tunnel to the south, one to the west, a large tunnel to the north, and one to the northeast. The one to the north, through the columns which you can see blocking light there, is the direction the water flows, or would flow if there were any here right now, or any more than the slightest drops and trickles.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek listens to the party discuss things. He knows they will take forever, then likely choose to go back down the stairs outside, and he is uneasy leaving Elrae alone. He takes Isilme's farspeaker and calls to Elrae. "Laddie, do ye want me down with ye?"

    Elrae doesn't answer.

    Gotrek calls again and again, but there is no answer.

    "We've got to find Elrae, now!" Thorgrim says. "Isilme, see what you can do! Berenn, your ring! Use it or loan it! My kingdom for a Potion of Flying!"

    Isilme casts "Fly" on Gotrek. "Gotrek take Thorgrim below to check on Elrae. Thorgrim keep constant communication on the Farspeaker so we know what's happening. Once you get down there I suggest you cast "locate object" to find something of Elrae's, like his wedding ring or "sweetness" as it's likely on him.

    "Berenn," she says, addressing him next. "You should follow with your feather fall, but it's up to you. They could use the help and it wouldn't be that difficult for me to get one person back up. I will stay here and depending on thorgrims/berenns report move the whole group with feather fall or wait for your return. It's one thing to get everyone down there, and another to get them all back up, so I want to be sure this is what needs to be done." She nods to everyone. "Good luck my dwarven friends!"

    Berenn moves up to leap into the hole, and Emyn smiles to him. "You must really miss Elrae's company given how enthusiastic he is. Perhaps Elrae will immortalize his love in song," he chides.

    "Nah," replies Berenn without even looking back. "I'm just hoping someone has cast a permanent silence spell on Elrae, and that is why we haven't heard from him." Berenn then leaps, using his Ring of Feather Fall to drop him safely. He holds his ring off his finger for a couple of seconds, then slips his ring on just in time to not go splat! He doesn't want to try that again any time soon.....

    He takes another couple minutes to fall the rest of the way. There's no light anywhere, so he can only see with infravision. It's the same chamber Elrae was in before, but nobody is here. Berenn walks around a bit, checking for evidence that anyone was here. He finds bits of burnt wood from Emyn's torch, but the torch is gone. There are no footprints anywhere, and the ground it such that you cannot walk here without leaving them. Nothing has walked here in many years.

    After looking around this cavern for a minute or so, Manny appears, flying down through the hole. He is followed a minute later by Gotrek carrying Throgrim, whom he deposits on the ground. Thorgrim's heavy boots make a loud crunch on the cave floor.

    "I am not a fan of splitting up not know what is down here," Berenn interjects. "So I will just concentrate on Elrae's cursed instrument and follow the trail to him." Berenn casts Locate Object and concentrates on Elrae's Cittern of Calen Sirithe. Should be easy enough to concentrate on something he has hated hearing over the years.

    He quicklys picks up the direction, and they set out. "Gotrek," says Thorgrim, "you're on point. Manny and Berenn in the center. I'll take rear guard. Perhaps it were better we had no rear guard at all. In any case, Gotrek and I will need to engage attackers from any quarter, abandoning our position. So be wary, all of you."

    To Isilme he speaks through the box: "We're taking the northeast passage. We sense Elrae's cittern."

    Moving away from the cavern to the north, you go around some large curtain walls, stalgmites, and columns. Just beyond them you reach a chasm, about 20' across, which cuts across the entire cavern. It's hard to say how deep it is, as the bottom is out of sight. Well, all but a small light at the bottom, the flickering of Emyn's torch which Elrae took with him.

    Thorgrim speaks into the box again, "Elrae, can you hear me?"

    When Thorgrim does his "com check" on the farspeaker, you guys here it from the other side of the chasm, NOT at the bottom of it!. It comes from behind one of the columns, and you hear a voice, a strange gravelly voice, say, "So much for surprise." You also think you hear Elrae laughing, and in fact you do, for when you look that way you see him come out of hiding from behind a large stalagmite.

    "Oh, we got you good!" he says with a laugh.

    "Yes," replies that other voice, "it seems like it's time for plan B."

    Out from behind a pillar comes a truly terrifying sight....
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    Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:40 am  
    Part 28 - Xakrarloth

    As you can see, it's a beholder!

    Round 1:

    Berenn takes cover behind a stalagmite. "Remember the last time we faced one of those floating heads it had a disintegration ray, so I suggest we all take cover!" Once Berenn has cover he will shout, "Always hated your music bard, for an entertainer you would make a good accountant!" He will cast Dispel Magic on Elrae.

    Thorgrim ducks behind the column to his east and quaffs a dose of his Potion of Invisibility. He then talks into the Farspeaker. "Isilme, a Beholder has control of Elrae. We might could use your help. Gotrek, I have a plan," Thorgrim says to his battle-hardened friend. Into the Farspeaker box: "Noot, you got that rope ready, yet? We may need it. And the Dwarves to haul. Have a quaff of this, next," he says, and drinks. He sets his Farspeaker box on the ground, and goes Invisible.

    Gotrek takes cover as well, taking the potion and drinking it himself. [DM OOC: I don't usually let you take multiple drinks, but I'mm giving you a break here!]

    "Emyn get over here!" yells Isilme. When he approaches, she grabs him and flies down to help the group.

    "Why you running?" says the beholder. "Where do you think you can go?"

    Suddenly a burst of energy from one of the eyestalks strikes Manny, engulfing him in strange purple/black lights. He feels weakened for a moment, as if his very life energy was draining from him. As quickly as the sensation comes it passes. The young elf dives behind the stalagmites with the others, not wishing to feel that again. As he does, Gotrek and Thorgrim disappear.

    "You are no ordinary folk," grates the beholder from across the chasm. "That much is now evident. You may even be...heroic...if not for your fear. Fear of Xakrarloth!" You hear the beholder sigh, or what passes for a sigh for a beholder, as it then continues.

    Berenn steps out from behind the stalagmite and casts a Dispel Magic spell upon Elrae; however, it doesn't work. He feels no sensation of magical energy at all, and realizes that the thing has them in an anti-magic field.

    Before he can warn the others, Gotrek flies out from around the stalagmites. He immediately appears and drops heavily to the ground. Luckily, he doesn't roll forward and into the chasm!

    Thorgrim was about to cast his own spell, but seeing what just happened he stays put. He knows that if he moves into the open all his magic will cease, and his casting will fail. "Stinking beard-shaving...." he starts to curse, then pounds his hammer into the stalagmite in frustration.

    Manny takes out his bow, thinking that now may be the time for something less...subtle.

    Across the pit, Elrae almost falls over, holding his side and laughing. "Oh that was precious!"

    Also, Isilme continues to fly down with Emyn.

    Berenn dives back behind the stalagmites, as the beholder laughs. "Some heroes!" it mocks.

    Manny leans out from around the stalagmite, firing two shots at the thing's central eye, using the elven Quick-Draw Shot ability. Both hit it [5 and 4: total 9], and Manny ducks back behind the stalagmite before it can do anything else.

    The scream of the beholder rocks the cavern. Elrae looks horrified, and he yells at Manny, "What are you doing?"

    "He is dying," says the beholder, and suddenly Gotrek turns invisible again. The anti-magic field is off! Before Gotrek can act, a beam of energy flies forth and strikes the stalagmite, completely disintegrating it and leaving Thorgrim and Manny in the open, though Thorgrim also turns invisible.

    Gotrek misses no time, flying across the chasm and attacking the beholder. He swings Goreblade in a massive chop which hits the beholder in the side of the head [17], knocking it back 5'.

    Thorgrim had been taking out his stone, and he uses it to summon his earth elemental. It appears right up out of the ground behind the beholder, and Thorgrim stands, smiles, and points at the beholder. "Kill that gibbering, cave-slinking, lump of antracite!"

    "Hey guys," says Elrae, utterly unconcerned. "What's up with all of the hostilities? This is my new friend, Xakrarloth. He's been down here all alone for hundreds of years and is lonely. He really likes my music and stories. I don't know why you are attacking him? Can't we all just get along?" He looks confused and can't quite understand why his friends are attacking the beholder. "Xakrarloth, this is Berenn, Gotrek, Thorgrim, Manny, my fellow adventures. Where's Emyn and Isilme. You'd really like to meet them. They are a lot of fun."

    "If Xakrarloth loves your music, that is as a good as any reason to kill him!" Berenn exclaims and then casts Dispel Magic on Elrae. Elrae is no longer charmed!

    The anti-magic turns back on, dropping Gotrek again to the ground. He grabs at the edge, barely holding himself up from falling down the chasm. Thogrim's spell is ruined. Manny fires his bow twice more, hitting the beholder in its central eye again [3].

    The beholder then hits the elemental with a disintegrate ray, and the thing is instantly obliterated!

    Gotrek scrambles out and stands before the beholder once more. From this close, he notes that the thing really looks bad, with a few eyestalks hangling limply.

    Manny fires three more arrows at the end of the round (quick shot!) and hits once more [5].

    Elrae shakes his head and gathers his wits. "What the... best friends with an Eye Tyrant for all eternity, gross." He pulls out a small bag and with a pinch he throws it at the beholder casting Glitterdust hoping to blind it.

    "It might not have been so bad, the Beholder probably likes your singing." Berenn yells across the chasm. "Then again, I am not sure Beholders have ears!"

    Manny ducks and weaves, getting partially behind a tall thin column. He comes up and fires his bow, missing. Berenn ducks out from behind the large flowstone and fires his bow, missing as well.

    Suddenly Gotrek is pushed violently away from the Beholder by some unknown force, right out above the chasm into which he plummets! It's a 50' fall. Gotrek slams into the bottom, taking 63! He makes his save vs Death (from massive damge), so basically he slams into a few things on the way, before crashing into the bottom with a great CRUNCH!

    Gotrek slowly gets up, stunned by the fall, as Thorgrim runs and hides behind the flowstone wall next to Berenn. Elrae then casts Glitterdust at the Beholder, which unfortunately fails its save. It is BLINDED!

    I believe Isilme and Emyn reach the bottom this round. I put their tokens down. I don't think Emyn can see at all, since there's no light here except for his old torch, at the bottom of the chasm where Gotrek fell. Manny and Berenn fire again, both missing!

    Isilme flies Emyn over to cover near Berenn, dropping him there. [Is she invisible still?)

    The beholder laughs at Elrae's pitiful attempt to blind it. [It's central eye is an anti-magic field generator!) It then sends a beam of amber light towards Elrae, momentarily bathing him in its glow. He screams and runs away, hiding behind some columns.

    Berenn and Thorgrim step out cast their spells, but nothing happens. They curse when they realize they are once again in the anti-magic fields!

    Manny fires another arrow, striking it in the central eye again [6]. He doesn't use the special elven abilities, since they make it too difficult to hit, especially when trying to hit a specific target. So he just takes his normal shots and fires another arrow at the end of the round, but it too misses!

    Isilme is not in the anti-magic area, since she's protected by the large flowstone column. So she can act independently. Gotrek takes out his potion of ex-healing and drinks it but nothing happens. He also notes that his other potion bottles broke in the fall.

    Emyn lights a torch. As he's taking out what he needs, Berenn fires an arrow at the beholder's central eye but misses. Thorgrim casts Rockburst, but nothing happens. [DM OOC: Hello! Anti-magic field!!! :) ]

    The beholder backs away, floating back out of sight between the stalagmite pillars to the right. Isilme casts Dimension Door, appearing between the other columns near Elrae.
    Emyn finishes lighting his torch at the end of the round.

    You should now be able to see Elrae's light from Snowfang, the light from Emyn's torch, and with Isilme on the other side, you can see further, as she has superior drow infravision. I'll make a zoomed version if you need it; however this should be good enough. I know it's hard to see the edges, but this large chamber is literally ringed with large stalagmites and columns, blocking vision. That's why you see those "spears" of black, radiating away. Those are areas you can't see, beyond columns.

    [DM OOC: It is not stupid, and it's taking lots of hits from arrows. Plus, it can't aim its other eyestalks due to invisibility. I actually spent a bit of time looking into that one, and it seemed the most sensible of conclusions. The blindness from the glitterdust doesn't stop the beholder's eyestalk powers; however, those other eyes cannot "see." Thus, it can still fire disintegrate if it likes, but can't aim it. It used an area of effect eye, causing fear, to deal with Elrae. Now it decided to retreat, knowing it could keep everyone stuck on the other side of the chasm with the antimagic ray while it slipped between the columns and out of sight. ]

    "Damn you Emyn! Who's side are you on bringing that torch across the chasm and blinding us?! We had a chance to kill the beholder while it was blind, but now you have blinded us as well," Berenn curses! "I wouldn't worry about Gotrek at the moment Manny. If we survive, my rope of climbing will be able to retrieve our fallen friend." Berenn remains covered until his eyes adjust again.

    "It's wounded and blinded," says Emyn. "Let's go beholder hunting!"

    "That Beholder is injured, 'tis certain," Thorgrim says. "I don't know if it's a good idea to chase it through these tunnels, but our best chance of killing it is now. If it's wise it would just withdraw. But if we can surprise it, it won't be surprising us later. A horrible opponent to leave lurking and licking its wounds. Isilme, what thinkest thou?"

    "We should leave this place," she says quickly. "Before it brings help...." She lets that hang out there, in case the thought of a single beholder isn't enough to strike fear into the rest of them. She can't believe they want to actually follow after it!

    "I doubt that Xakrarloth would have gone for help," says Elrae, coming out from the shadows. "It told me that it's spent centuries here with nobody to talk to. It was a servant for many years to the great witch-queen Iggwilv. She turned the beholder into a Death Tyrant."

    The thought of fighting an undead beholder is even worse than a normal one, and that settles things. It takes a while, but the party is able to get back up the bottomless pit (I guess it's not really bottomless after all!) and regroup at the shrine cave above. It's dark outside now, and after some much-needed healing, the party decides to rest.
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    Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:48 am  
    Part 29 - The Fanged Maw

    Sunday, 23rd of Reaping (582)

    The dawn breaks, and faint light enters the upper cavern with the shrine. It's a cool morning, barely over 40*, with a strong westerly wind of about 25mph. It whips up over the mountain, cutting passed the upper entrance with enough force to blow a halfling off the stairs! Berenn looks out and sees a darkening sky. He feels the humid, cool air and knows that a storm is coming....

    Oh, and everyone is totally healed. Elrae did not recharge his cittern with Sunfire, because he had no available 4th level spell. All other spells are reset to zero. No invis, fly, nothing. You all are starting from scratch this day.

    "Maybe we should stay here until the storm passes," says Emyn, "lest somebody fall to their deaths."

    "Nonsense," Thorgrim replies. "We're not climbing down, we're flying. The worst danger is the caves will be wet and slippery for days to come, perhaps submerging lower levels. The sooner we leave, the better." He stands, facing the rest of the group.

    "Today is a Day of Destiny. I sense it," Thorgrim declares. He breathes deeply of the fresh air, knowing what lies ahead. "My party, gather 'round. These herbs Hepla gave me are infused with her witchy magic, and she wanted them used for the party's benefit. This one is Bloodkeep. Emyn, you already have some, I understand? And Isilme? Here, Isilme, you could use two." He hands her a pouch. "Emyn, you will do without." Thorgrim distributes a pouch of the Bloodkeep herb to each of the other party members, and to Delaim. "Use it well," he tells him, as he describes its function. [DM OOC: Apply within 2 rounds of injury to stop bleeding; character regains 20% - rounded down - of lost hit points at once.]

    He holds up three more pouches. "This one's called...ah, Hepla? It's labeled 'doubles vision, good for archers.' Let's see...Manny, here's two for you. Berenn, here's one for you. There is no party stockpile of Healing potions this adventure, so best to be doubly wary." Once everyone takes them, he nods. "Account for them and use them well, for surely I cannot do that for you."

    After that, the party got sidetracked into a long discussion about how to get down the hole again, without using all their magic to do it. Not just them, but another 50 or so Azcral dwarves, it wasn't going to be easy. The conversation devolved into a discussion about weights, mechanics, rope strength, etc., utilizing information from the web, mountain climbing sites, etc. I do appreciate when players get that into stuff, but I did finally have to remind them that this is a game.

    [DM OOC: I've told you all I could. Nobody with any mountaineering skill believes you can rope down that hole. Look guys, despite what WE think we know about rope-climbing, it is a FACT that NOBODY could ever climb down holes like these until the late 19th century, with the invention of modern climbing equipment that required the industrial revolution to create! So no, you can't safely rope down. That's why you have people with skills; it's not just to be able to do something, but it also is to be able to STOP you from doing something stupid!]

    In the end, they decide it is better to enter the main caverns below and the group moves back down the stairs. The entire group ropes off, and they procede down the treacherous outside steps. The gargoyles do not reappear.The party moves "as a whole" back down the mountain. At the bottom, they come once again to the skull-carved entrance to the caverns.

    They also meet up with the rest of the dwarves, who seem to be all healed up from their previous encounter with the weird chimera creature. It's not yet midday.

    "Let's not waste time," says Emyn. "We should enter without delay and explore this foul place."

    The cavern beyond the maw is 40' wide, 70' long, and over 20' high in the central area. It has obviously been used much in the past. The walls and ceiling are blackened by soot, and there are bits of broken weapons and armor and discarded gear scattered around. At the back of the place is a smaller cave 20' wide, 30' long, and 15' high. At the easternmost end of the cave is a 10' wide passage slanting steeply down. Steps have been roughly hewn in its floor to allow easier passage. The tunnel leads down into the heart of the mountain.

    Gilhak, second in command of the Azcral dwarves, will stay at the entrance with 20 dwarves. That leaves half the dwarves under Delaim Steelfist with the party, while you have a sizable force holding the entrance area behind you. Isilme casts Farspeaker, and hands out the boxes. [DM OOC: The spell is a bit confusing in terms of the box sizes, so I'm going to with a new size, they are 8 cubic inches. That's a 2x2x2 cube. It comes out to 8", which is I believe what the spell was intended to be. :) They will last for 10 hours, so that should be a good amount of time. Delaim has one of the boxes with his dwarves. That leaves 8 more. Isilme will have one, of course, which leaves 7 more. I will assume Isilme had 10 boxes made; I don't think they are listed on her sheet. Tempus, just add 10 boxes somewhere and subtract 1000gp. Also, denote who has the other 7 boxes, so we know. In addition, I need your marching order, and keep lighting in mind. Sir Godwynn and Thorgrim have continual light on demand, with their shield and eyepatch. Everything on my end is done.]

    Isilme and Manny are out front scouting. They are both elves, both have good infravision, and both can be very stealthy. So, I am moving them forward, just to get something posted. The rest of the party and the dwarves should be following behind. Marching order is: Thorgrim/Gotrek, Emyn/Miri, Noot/Berenn, Elrae/Sir Godwynn. The Dwarves can maintain a distance to retain their infravision.

    The cavern heads down into the mountain, hewn steps wet and slippery, as it seems water has made it down here over the years, but otherwise easily used. It turns around a few times, eventually leading to a well-built stone entry chamber. It is a 20x20' chamber, with one passage heading out the other way. [Squares are 5' I also set up the lighting to show the entire wall, so there shouldn't be any confusion regarding where the FoW ends and such. We'll see....] This seems to have most likely been a guard chamber, though it's otherwise empty now. Not much would survive 5 centuries of the cave's damp conditions.

    The thing that Isilme and Manny quickly note is the floor. It is tiled, or was, but the tiles have been turned to mud throughout this chamber and leading north, and then turned back again. You can tell, because there are some spots where the tile shows forth, but the rest is like it was melted. Some strong magic was used here! Further, there are footprints in the tile-mud-stone floor, leading away. Two large depressions in this chamber are roughly shaped like some kind of creatures, what is impossible to tell. It looks like somebody cast a rock to mud spell, and then turned the mud back into stone, trapping something. The footprints show that somebody went through here before the ground was changed back. There is no trace of the creatures or any remains of them.

    Further ahead, the north passage branches to the right. Further ahead it opens into another chamber, this one with a smashed statue of some sort at the far end as well as what looks to be an open sarcophagus. The party moves inside....

    The area just inside is deserted. Straight ahead is what looks like a small chapel or shrine of some sort. There are two sarcophagi within, one to each side. The one to the right is open, the lid twisted sideways. Further, there was a stone statue ahead, but it lies in battered pieces. There is nothing within the sarcophagus to the right, the lid of which shows what looks like a tall thin man on it, though the head seems wrong somehow.

    To the right is another chamber, though its use is lost. There is a large pile of timber in the corner, which is does not look like it ever belonged here. It seems more like it was gathered and stacked here.

    There are two passages leading out from this chamber, one to the north, through a set of open double-doors, and one east. Both have side branches about 20' down them while the main passages lead to steps going down to other chambers. Manny can see a table in the one to the right, while there is a large rent in the floor of the north passage. There are double doors there (as there were leading to that passage), which are open.

    They check the other sarcofagus, but there's nothing strange about it, not that you can see anyway! Down the hall from the next chamber, Manny and Gotrek then see something very creepy come around the corner from the side passage. It's a carrion crawler!

    Gotrek charges and cuts the head off one with one chop of Goreblade. As it dies, two more come out of the left chamber. One crawls along the wall and ceiling, hanging down and attacking him from above. He is hit by four tentacles, and is paralyzed!

    Upon hearing the shouts, Emyn runs towards the others, making his way passed Manny and down the passage. More carrion crawlers come out from the both passages beyond Gotrek, but Emyn yanks the paralyzed dwarf out of the way, sending him sprawling to the ground behind him. He then takes myriad hits from the tentacles, but they are unable to harm the Chosen of Trithereon! [DM OOC: As a Guardian, he is immune to paralysis!] In all there are 5 more carrion crawlers. They cannot get passed Emyn, nor can they paralyze him, and he eventually is able to slay them all. I'm going to skip the combat, since there's no point.

    New map of Gotrek and Emyn's two chambers. I'm going to go without lighting until we need it again. It's easier this way I think. I'm also not going to keep giving full views of the progress map. You can see the updated one constantly in the Maps thread. What I'll keep posting here are smaller, zoomed in maps.

    Looking into the other room, Emyn notes that it looks like it was a sleeping area for orcs. There are some piles of fur beds and broken stuff; it looks like there was a fight here, and the sword wounds on the orc bodies shows they lost! Gotrek notices the same thing in the next chamber with the eating table. The carrion crawlers seem to have been eating the bodies too.

    Emyn says, "We should make haste. THe expedition we were originally seeking may have come through here or the agents of the Old One. Either way, they may have cleared a path we can follow. If it is teh expedition, we need to aid them. If they are enemies then we need to move forward before they gain a decisive advantage."

    "Let's explore the hallway to the east of the dining room," says Emyn. "It looks like there might be some small rooms of to the side before we head elsewhere."

    Manny comes out of the open doorway from the passage going north. "I see another body up that way," he says.

    Thorgrim casts Remove Paralysis on Gotrek, then helps up the angry dwarf. Gotrek grunts, and look around fully at the carnage caused by Emyn. "Well done, laddie!"

    The party then continues. The passage branches left, before continuing a bit and turning north. The branch leads to a circular chamber with a perfectly circular hole in the center of the floor and the ceiling. Both have heavy grates blocking them. The main passage leads to another set of stairs leading down, this time to a closed door.

    Noot is eyeing the larger, double-door hall, while the rest are in the chamber with the pile of timber, where light from Sir Godwynn's shield reveals the chamber's details. This looks to have been an antechamber, with odd images of hags and things likely dear to with Witch Queen Iggwilv decorating them.

    "Everyone should gather back up and pick one passage since we have three to choose from," says Berenn, a hint of frustration in his voice. "I would think the antechamber would be a good starting place." Emyn nods in agreement, and the rest of the party follows.

    "Remember, we've a Beholder floating about, and worse, I'm sure," Thorgrim says. "This chamber seems like the one above, and may be the beholder's way here, though why the bars?" As the party leaves the strange chamber, Thorgrim takes Delaim aside. "Delaim," he says quietly, privately. "I beseech you to let us use our god-granted powers first in every fight. It has been the key to our long success. Clanggedin has imbued me with a massive arsenal of spellpower, the sign that He favors my path."

    "Together we shall prevail," responds Delaim resolutely.

    "I've never done this with a contingent," says Thorgrim doubtfully, but a look from Delaim reassures him. He thinks immediately of Dorob Kilthduum, and figures this excursion will give him excellent experience for his trials to come.

    The passage north leads to a 4-way intersection. The passage to the left is blocked by a wide pit, maybe 20' deep. A large hallway to the right goes down two flights of steps to a large door with some strange locking mechanism. A charred body lies on the steps just in front of the door. The passage to the north continues to another closed doorway.

    "There's your trap," says Thorgrim. "We'd better have our thieves do all of our scouting, finding traps."

    Noot notices that there are spikes driven into the walls to jam the floors open. "Somebody tripped this," he says, "then spiked it open." He looks inside, noting nothing except an empty hole 20' deep. "Least there's no poisoned spikes or snakes or snakes with poisoned spikes!" he jokes, turning back with a smile. Manny then checks out the burned body. It is VERY badly charred, but it seems to have been an elf.

    "It appears as if our advantage of reaching Iggwilv's Horn first has been squandered," says Elrae. Looking across the pit, the next chamber to the left seems to have been a training room, as there's an old wooden pell in the center. Emyn circles around to that side and reaches the old training room. There are two ramshackle weapons racks in the corners, with nothing but rusty-looking stuff no real warrior would touch. It seems the orcs used the thing a bit, but there really aren't many newer scrapes on it to indicate it's been used recently. The hallway continues on to the north, passed a rubble-strewn section of corridor, before reaching another 4-way intersection.

    Emyn then returns, not wanting to get the party separated again. He sees the charred body and says, "Is there any way to tell who this poor elf was? I wonder if he was a member of the expedition or an enemy. I would think his comrades would have at least given him a proper burial but he was left here to rot"

    "It's definitely a Highfolk or Vesve elf," says Manny. "I think I may recognise him. I suspect the elf was Loren from Vesve. A skilled scout and a one-time traveling companion. I don't believe he was as skilled as I or you, but he had an uncanny knack with magical traps. Somehow I don't think it was a trap that got him.If it IS him, he was a scout, which means he may have been hired by the Velunese expedition. He wouldn't have willingly worked with the Old One's people."

    "Then this is good news," says Emyn. "They did manage to get here. The only question is where they went. I do find it odd they left this poor soul like this though."

    [DM OOC: Well, there's no much left of him.....]

    Meanwhile, Noot inspects the north door, but a powerful magical effect forces him back from it. "This door is warded," he says, looking back at it. Berenn check the door and is able to determine that the glyph is Raoist in nature!

    "Might Sir Godwynn be able to gain access given his faith?" asks Emyn.

    Sir Godwynn approaches. "Shield your eyes," he says, and as everyone does, his shield illuminates with the Holy Light of Faith. He strides up to the door and pushes it open.

    This small chamber seems to have been a storeroom of some sort. Within are three bodies. The largest is a mountain of a man, wearing the livery of a paladin of Heironeous. One is a priest of Heironeous, this one wearing the robes of an Inquisitor. The third is a dead soldier wearing chain and shield; his armor bears the symbols of Rao."

    "Do you recognize them?" asks Berenn.

    "Yes," says Sir Godwynn sadly. "The paladin is Sir Marcel Lamoreaux, of Furyondy. He was well known as a towering defender of the righteous who was knighted for heroism on the field of battle. The soldier, his name was Bryce, and he was one of the guards that accompanied the Velunese expedition." He looks back towards the rest of the party. "The Velunese expedition most certainly came this way."

    [DM OOC: I guess I have to fill you in on stuff, because you clearly didn't pick up on any of it! Some of that is the nature of our medium, so I'll just help you out! It is clear that the Velunese made it here, and they fought more than orcs. The rock to mud in the entrance is not something to be wasted on orcs. Further, there was a large depression in the ground where the rock to mud trapped something after being changed back into rock again. Whatever was trapped disappeared, so that's certainly something worse than a mere orc. The broken statue in the crypt chamber was a stone golem, destroyed by the Velunese when they entered. It activated when they opened the sarcophagus. The orcs were just living in here, staying out of trouble maybe. They were just orcs, and were slain rather easily. That catches you up to where you are.

    Evidently, the Velunese took some casualties, which included a priest of Heironeous, a soldier, and a powerful warrior. Sir Marcel Lamoreaux was actually not a paladin but a 5th/7th Cleric-Fighter (Cavalier) of Heironeous. There was also the dead elf, which was a mid-level thief, a scout that Manny recognized from Highfolk. So, they ran into some tough foes/traps, for sure. This isn't an organized fortress place, for Iggwilv's empire collapsed five centuries ago. What you have are the remnants of her evil, along with whatever other baddies moved into the place either from outside (like the orcs) or from the Underdark. So, there's no telling what you may face in here. The only good thing so far is that there's no indication that the Iuzians have made it here yet.]
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    Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:53 am  
    Part 30 - Through the entrance halls

    “We have found one door blocked by Raoist Wardings,” says Manny, taking in the scene, “behind which were deposited 3 bodies. Near there is a dead elf, tentatively identified as from Vesve/Highfolk in front of another door. The odds are that the elf died AFTER the ones in the room (otherwise he would have been there too). We should sort over the bodies, cast Speak with Dead, deposit bodies in Thorgrim's hole. If we are going to cast the spell, I would suggest the elf, he probably died later and is not in a protected location.”

    He notices the look of distaste on Sir Godwynn, then continues. “Checking for potions and scrolls is alright, I guess. Neither are long-term items typically associated with a person. Past that, it feels like looting friends. If we knew they had something on them vital to complete our mission, then we would need to. Past that, it is important to return equipment to family and country to decide on their use.”

    “I know no use the dead have for magic, or any material thing,” Thorgrim declares. “Lest they be animated, of course.”

    Elrae takes Snowfang, summoning the blade's power to Detect Magic. The following items all glow with magical emanations:

    plate mail
    tower shield
    4 potions
    2 scrolls

    Nothing is identified, obviously, and there's no telling what the potions and scrolls are. They were in a bag of holding on the large cavalier. Also, Elrae detects magic on the door where the charred elf was killed!

    As the others seem to relax a bit, Manny continues. “We have two doors on this level we haven't checked. One that the burned elf is in front of, the other back the other way. I think we should try this door as it seems the party most likely went through there. I would also suggest people with fire resistance be up front when we open the door. The fiery blast that took out the elf is not the work of orcs, so either there is some strong monsters here or the Iuzians caught up with them, or both. The elf may have been in front killed by the first blast, or he may have been rear guard and hit by the Iuzians. Finding out if the Iuzians are here would be important, so Speaking with the dead elf seems our best course.”

    “I think he touched the doors and was blown back by whatever glyph hit him,” says Emyn. When the others look at him quizically, he replies with a smile, “Hepla has been teaching me!”

    Thorgrim attempst to Speak with Dead, but the spell doesn't work. He assumes there is something in this dread place that blocks the attempt. “Maybe even the Raoist wards,” he muses. “Regardless,” he says, taking out his portable hole, “I shall make room within and we will bring their bodies home, for kin and country.” He sighs. “I confess I have little desire to be keeper of a mausoleum for the dead. Should I discard my tools when it overflows? True, she's seen her share of dead bodies in the past. Live ones, too...”
    “Know you all that I've a mind to finish the job, now, by fire.” With that, Thorgrim gently but unceremoniously drags the bodies into the goddamned Portable Hole. He stops and looks at the charred elf. “This one stays,” is all that he says on the matter. He mutters a swift prayer and seals the Hole.

    “Pack everything up but the scrolls,” says Manny. “Put them separate somewhere and we can look at them later.”

    “Aye, come on,” says Gotrek irritably. “We waste time here!”

    Thorgrim casts Dispel Magic, and it does not work.

    [DM OOC: Just to give you guys a bit of an idea here, any magics of a more permanent nature were likely laid out by Iggwilv herself, centuries ago. Considering that she was at least 25th level, her spells will be nearly impossible to dispel. Base chance to DM is 11 in 20, +/- 1 for every level higher/lower than the original caster. So, that's about a -15 to dispel her magics, meaning you can't!]

    [Berenn OOC: Well after reading this ... I don't see any way through the door Noot is at without being roasted. The room the three bodies in was a dead end and the others would be exposed to the ward? Was it obvious what killed the three members of the expedition?]

    They have pretty bad cuts, as if by some kind of giant, clawed creature, as well as evidence of being hit by massive blows. Cause of death a combination of severe lacerations and blunt force trauma.

    “If there are no suggestions for passing these wards without causing members of the party harm, I suggest we had back to the training room.”

    Thorgrim takes out his stone and summons his Elemental to him. “Hulk...SMASH!”

    “Everyone else should take cover,” warns Berenn, backing up. “We don't know how much damage this magic will do and what its area of effect is.” Berenn will take cover in the room where the three bodies were found.

    Everyone takes cover and the earth elemental goes to smash the door. The area outside the door explodes in such a conflagration that there is nothing left of the elemental when the smoke clears. Nor anything left of the door!

    Berenn peers out and seeing nothing left of the elemental or the door mutters, “I guess that worked. Manny or Noot move up and make sure whatever spell was on that door has dissipated.”

    This chamber is lit by some kind of continual light, which may or may not be emanating from the central feature. There is a summoning circle, at least that's what it appears to be, in the center of the chamber, with a swirling white light in the center. What this is cannot be determined. Very strong magic emanates from the circle as well. Further, there is a book on an altar of sorts across the chamber. It lies closed. [DM OOC: Ignore whatever is in the top-left corner, as it isn't actually in this room! Just part of this map I'm using!]

    Emyn moves forward to get a better look. “Thorgrim, your elemental's sacrifice was a great one,” he says.

    "Indeed..." Thorgrim murmurs. He seems to have something else on his mind.

    The Avenger looks at the summoning circle and focuses his mind upon it to determine if it is linked to great evil. He detects nothing.
    “Noot, check for traps,” says Berenn.

    Noot looks back, “Go in there?” He shakes his head, “It's bad luck to enter a wizard's room.” Of course, he then enters. He doesn't blow up. He doesn't find any evidence of traps within, and there is plenty of room around the swirling light circle to get to the altar. He moves that way, checking the floors and walls but finding nothing dangerous. “Well, except that,” he adds, pointing to the magical (not necessarily summoning, just a magic circle of some type) circle. “Though I'm sure it is perfectly safe.”

    “As long as we don't touch it,” warns Manny. He then checks the other side, around the circle. Next check the altar, and the book. The book especially. Way too many things like this are trapped. As he does, he finds no evidence of traps of any kind.

    “Circles like that, in my experience, are to keep something in,” says Thorgrim. “Crossing it means it can hurt you. Worse, if you break the pattern, it gets out. I don't know what is in there and don't want to find out the hard way.”

    “Nobody touch nothin'!” orders Berenn finally, broking no argument. We should probably check the altar for magic / evil. So have Emyn and Elrae move up.”

    "So Manny, ye thinks going to the altar will unleash a dark evil, presently encased in powerful magic?" asks Gotrek. He looks at Thorgrim. "Me friend, look yonder, give me your magical and religious expertise on the matter. If ye think there is a chance we can accomplish something here by approaching the altar, I will volunteer." Gotrek grunts. His thoughts now go inward, and he says a small prayer to himself.

    "Gotrek, you are brave," Thorgrim says. "I will not see you sacrifice yourself as the Elemental did. I predict that book is a book of evil spells, and should be destroyed. I predict that any tampering may break the circle and release the evil power we see contained within."

    Thorgrim strokes his beard, contemplating. "These magical wards are terrible in their effects...far beyond anything I could create. I would say we leave this room alone, or destroy it by fire. I would hesitate even holding a torch to that book, for fear of the effects. I do not think the other party came into this room. I think they triggered the fire trap, then triggered the pit trap in their escape. Let's move past this, returning here only if we must."

    He stops, and says, "If evil it be. Isilme, how could we determine? These evil magicks are beyond my ken."

    Isilme inspects the circle. “It seems to have something to do with the Elemental Plane of Fire,” she says. Isilme knows this because she has a lot of knowledge of the Inner Planes. The book is a red book, and it looks kinda like Isilme's salamander gloves. "Maybe it's made from something from the Plane of Fire?" she wonders aloud.

    "Explains the fire blast,” says Manny. “So this is likely a guard or an experiment Iggwil left. If a guard, it looks like it is for the book. If an experiment, the book may detail her work. To touch the book may release the guard. This much guarding would imply the book is important, though."

    Thorgrim casts Resist Fire on Noot, who along with the Ring of Fire Resistance goes and takes the book off the altar. Nothing happens! He walks over to the rest of the party. "Now what?"

    Before anyone can say anything, Noot opens the book, flips a couple pages, then holds it out for Isilme. "It seems to be a spellbook or something."

    "Any spells you recognize?" Thorgrim asks as Isilme takes the book. She shakes her head, as much to Thorgrim as to Noot for being so reckless.

    “No,” she replies after a moment. “I see something about the Elemental Plane of Fire and gates, but without doing some serious study I won't be able to fully say. Suffice to say, these are NEW spells of which none of us have ever heard.”

    "We should take the book and leave,” says Berenn. “Just watch the circle as we are leaving in case something happens to it once we take the book."

    The party leaves, a sigh of relief audible from nearly everyone as they safely exit, happy to leave be whatever else was in the chamber. They then return to the northern hallway with the crack in the floor. The crack leads down into darkness. It is not a straight drop, but it twists and turns going down. It does seem large enough for a person, but not necessarily comfortably so. It seems this may be where the carrion crawlers came from. Continuing north, you head through the double doors and enter another large chamber. It looks to have been some sort of waiting room, and a large fountain, still pouring forth water, dominates the north wall. Exits lead to the north and west. There are more signs of a fight here, as you see the dead bodies of more orcs. Three are in this room, and you see another in a chamber to the west and one to the north.

    Miri says," let's bring up a pair of dwarves to secure this room.". She goes to the captain and requests he redeploy two of his troops to guard this room.

    The party continues on after Miri returns. There is a chamber to the south which looks like it was a storeroom. There's nothing of value there now. To the left is a leader's chamber, evident by the nicer remains there. A dead ogre warrior lies on the ground there. To the north is a passage with three ways to go: west, north, and east. To the east is a 4-way intersection, with a door in the far east section.

    Miri will go over to the leader's room to back up Noot, she kicks the ogre's sword and any other weapons he might have away from him. “Yes he is dead but no sense taking a chance,” she says when Berenn rolls his eyes. "Noot, search here well, I've got your back."

    Noot finds nothing of interest, and the room looks like it was looted. Meanwhile, Gotrek moves to inspect the eastern doorway.

    There are three chambers that you can see from the intersections. To the northwest is an old throneroom. A dead ogre lies in the center of the chamber. A sleeping chamber with mats for a half-dozen lies to the north, evidently where the orcs were sleeping. There is a final chamber, an old library, to the northeast. Nothing worthy seems left of the library except the stone statue of a warrior in the center. There are some intact books, but most are falling apart and already have been burned by the orcs which were living here. There is a locked door at the end of the east corridor.

    Manny advances quietly to the edge of the throneroom and checks around corners, just to see what the room layout is. It is about 25x40, with a raised platform to the left with a throne upon it. A broken statue is in the corner, as well as some other statues of some kind of aquatic dragon things which flank the throne. An ogre lies dead in the center of the chamber, and a couple more orcs are dead too. There's an exit to the north, a cave curing off into the darkness.

    Meanwhile, Noot checks out the orc chamber. There is nothing of value in either room; the orcs just had a bunch of junk. Noot leaves and checks out the door to the east. It is just a normal wooden door, but it is locked. Noot checks for traps, but finds nothing.

    “Stand aside,” says Gotrek, who attempts to smash the wooden door open with Goreblade. Though a seemingly wooden door, Goreblade bounces off it like it were steel. Gotrek's not going to get anywhere smashing this one! He is also racked by an electrical discharge [44!]

    “It looks as if magic has locked it, maybe magic will open it,” says Miri.

    Emyn says, "Elrae, be a good chap and passwall us into this chamber before Gotrek kills himself?"

    Elrae does that, and opens a wall through to another chamber. Gotrek enters. It is another summoning chamber of some sort. There are strange glyphs all around the chamber, and in the center is a swirling, ashen sphere. [Ignore the light thing in the image. All that you see is an ashen sphere.]

    Emyn will move to join Gotrek and attempt to discern whether evil is within this ashen sphere. He cautions the dwarf against touching the sphere. "Good thinking," Thorgrim says. "I shudder to remember what you released in the Fane." He looks at the sphere again. "Elemental Magic is at work, here. First, fire. Now, lightning. I expect water and earth, next. Or cold.” He scratches his beard. "I wonder if these are trapped elementals, ready to be unleashed upon enemies. I don't think we would gain their favor by releasing them. Let's avoid these rooms and move on to the northwest. The dwarves can follow our advance. That sleeping room secures the whole dungeon, thus far."

    Emyn agrees. "It seems every time we disturb something like that a huge monster comes out. I do hope they are not in league with Imix's kin.”

    Isilme smiles and investigates the sphere. She notes that it is not a solid object. Well, it doesn't seem to be. It is more like a swirling ball of smoke and ash, somehow held into a spherical shape. She touches it and finds that it has an solid shell, like a wall of force.

    Isilme calls out " I can return you to your home plane, if that is your desire. Speak now, or control the ash and dust to let me know you understand."

    Emyn stands there diffidently and says to Isilme, "Is this really a good idea? Whatever is in there is trapped and dangerous enough to have a wall of force around it. Remember, sometimes the bear gets you..."

    Gotrek goes to stand behind Isilme, to protect her, if need be, but there is no answer to her question.

    "Isilme, I don't like this. Can't we just leave this be?" mutters Thorgrim.

    She nods, though her mind races at the possibilities. With nothing else in the chamber, the party leaves, closing the door behind them. They return to the throneroom which Manny found, and investigate the exit. It was a secret door, evidently discovered by the Velunese. Booted prints lead into the cavern beyond. Berenn draws and ignites Bonefire to provide illumination and protection. “Let us proceed,” he says.

    The cave is about 5-10' wide, varying randomly, and about 10' high. Kinda normal. It goes about 50' or so, turning down and out of sight to the right. It starts to descend into the darkness; however the darkness isn't absolute. No, it is pierced by light glows from strange crystals embedded in the cavern floor, walls, and ceiling. The floor of the cavern is a hard, crunchy layer of dirt, upon which even the light-footed Manny leaves footprints. There are a series of deep prints leading both into and out of the cavern, booted prints. Far in the distance Manny can see what looks to be another hole in the floor.

    Berenn inspects the prints. They are mostly human prints, though there is one smaller set, maybe a halfling. There are some orc prints, but they are older. There are also some larger prints, older still, which are either ogre or giant prints. There's other tracks he can't quite figure out; too much traffic, especially the recent people, has made any definite info impossible to get.

    A bit down there are some branches to the cave, both from the right side. One goes up while the other goes down.

    The first passage ascends while the second descends. "It appears the Veluna party went this way," says Berenn, noting the footprints. “The same number seem to also have returned, so I doubt there is any point to going that way. They continued onward,” and so does Berenn.

    Meanwhile, Manny checks out the hole, he notices that it is ringed in solid crystal as well. Looking into it, it seems to shimmer slightly, and then emerging up from the hole are a half-dozen large crystal spiders, each about 5' wide! They attack Manny!

    Some spiders are doubled up, but there are about 6 down there. Everyone else is where they are shown on the map.

    Two of the crystal spiders move up, climbing through the hole they shimmer as if passing up out of water for a second before slamming Manny with their hard legs for [13 and 11: 24 total!]. He is knocked backwards, tumbling to the ground as more come crawling up out of the hole. Another hits him [15], while another misses. Two more continue up passed him and attack Gotrek, but both miss.

    Manny tumbles back away from them, then rolls by Gotrek and finally comes to rest along the far wall. His nose is bleeding from one of the blows, splattering drops along the floor as he moves. Ignoring it, he draws his weapons weakly, back to the wall.

    There is no room for anyone else to get closer, but Miri and Emyn move up behind Gotrek, ready to assist if they see an option. For the now, they just try to stay away from his axe!

    Gotrek then hits twice, doing [22 and 20: total 44]. Goreblade takes mighty chunks out of the creature, sending crystal shards flying with each hit.

    Noot stays in the southern passage, watching the way below. Isilme and Berenn are watching the party's back. Everyone else is stuck behind Gotrek and unable to do anything. Sir Godwynn moves up to support Gotrek if possible. Berenn moves up and casts CLW, healing 8 of Manny's wounds, as well as his bloody nose!

    Elrae casts Stoneskin!

    As you can see, the passage is only a bit over 5'. There's no room for two to fight, so Gotrek holds the line alone. Everyone else is as shown.

    Gotrek is attacked by three, one of which hits him for [16]. One crawls over the ceiling, then attacks Miri hitting her with a leg [14]. Miri hits hers twice [19 and 13: 32 total]. Gotrek hits his twice [22 and 21: 43 total]. It shatters, crystal and gemstones flying everywhere!

    Berenn casts another CLW on Manny, healing 8 more.

    The two in the rear then do something totally unexpected; they merge together to form a massive, 10' wide spider!

    Gotrek swings Goreblade, but it just glances off the crystalline creature. Two attack him, with one batting him with a strong leg [14]. One attacks Miri, missing, and Miri misses. Then, to everyone's surprise, the large one just walks right through the wall of the cave! It then emerges back between Berenn and Manny. Its great bulk simply pushes those near it out of the way as it flows out of the wall as if the wall of the cavern isn't even there!

    Gotrek misses with his second swing, while Miri scores a hit for [15]. Emyn begins cursing about how he is unable to help as he tries to get at the spider close to Miri.

    "Yarrgh!" Thorgrim shouts. "What's this?" He attacks the large spider twice with Souldrinker.

    Elrae yelps "What the bloody nine hells?" He tumbles away from the giant crystal arachnid and casts magic missiles.

    Noot: "Maybe I can shatter it with a rock" He grabs one and waits.
    "Hey, anyone have a spell that might shatter all that glass?" Up close, you notice they are not just crystal. They seem to be made up of various minerals, especially gemstones.

    Sir Godwynn is slammed by the massive spider [34!]. He falls backwards, stunned! Berenn disengages, taking an AoO as he does so [22]. Gotrek is slammed by one [17] while Miri is also slammed by another [16]. Both stand their ground, striking back. Miri hits twice [12 and 14] while Gotrek hits his twice [16 and 19].

    Thorgrim sidesteps, swinging at the large one and hitting it [13] while Emyn does the same, also hitting once for [10].

    Elrae casts Magic Missile, hitting the big one for [13]. Isilme cast Vitriolic Sphere, also hitting it for [43!]. Manny checks Sir Godwynn, who seems ok, just stunned. He and Noot watch from the southern passage, though Noot spends most his attention on the southern tunnel.

    Manny waves his Chaos Stone and yells "Echo!" throwing it at the spider. It hits in the same place as Isilme's Vitriolic Sphere, doing [40]. It takes another [48] from the acid, and cracks in half, starting to separate again. It actually starts to change form too, looking more like an elemental. However, it doesn't finish the change as Elrae and Emyn hit it simultaneously, one with Magic Missile for [20] and the other with his mace [16].

    It hits Thorgrim [28] after Thorgrim misses!

    Isilme casts Grease under it, and it slips to the ground. Thorgrim and Emyn then both hit it again, breaking it into pieces!

    Meanwhile....Miri and Gotrek use both their attacks on the one attacking Miri, and together they destroy it, Gotrek then taking a step back to fight side by side with Miri. The other two move forward and attack Gotrek and Miri, both missing.

    Gotrek hits his again for [20]. Sir Godwynn lies on the ground stunned (for another round!)

    Gotrek and Miri both miss, with Miri slipping on the grease. [Actually, it was just a fumble, but I embellished it. It's not Tempus's fault!]

    The strange creatures attack, both missing. Gotrek then hits his as Miri leaps to her feet.

    Elrae sends another MM into Gotrek's hitting it and destroying it in a shower of gems!

    The next round, Miri takes a hit [13], but her and Gotrek both hit the last one twice, destroying it as well.

    The remains of the creatures are weird. You find a combination of valuable gems and metal ore amongst the broken pieces. The gems are uncut stones of various types, totalling 6000gp value. There is also 2000gp worth of platinum, 2000gp worth of gold, and 2000gp worth of silver.

    "Well, that was unpleasant," Manny says as he retrieves his Chaos Stone. "At least it worked this time." he muses as he picks it up.

    As the party heals, Isilme inspects the hole She finds that the "hole" is completely surrounded by crystal. She also notes the one-time presence of some kind of circle of protection around it, though it is disturbed and clearly no longer complete. In the end, she determines that the hole is some sort of gate.....

    Hepla puts a Wall of Force over the hole, and the party retires to heal. After using up some of their many potions, they opt to descend the last tunnel, following the path of the Velunese. Berenn notes that the prints that descend do NOT return.....

    Last edited by ragnar on Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:07 am  

    I added this map to the Lost Caverns to make more sense. If Iggwilv hung out here, it seems reasonable that she had a more...normal dungeon level created, one where she could do some work, meet supplicants in the small throne room, etc. It had magical guards and wards, most of which were taken care of by the Velunese party which had arrived here first.

    Some of their number were slain by the entrance's guardians as well as by traps, and they were laid to rest with wards placed on the chamber to keep their bodies safe until they returned. At the time the party arrived, they had not yet returned.

    The party left well-enough alone with the two spheres and the hole through which the spiders came, and they proceeded down the last turnnel, into the Lost Caverns themselves.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:32 am  
    Part 31 – Into the Caverns

    The passage goes down, winding around for a bit before reaching a steep section with stairs carved into it. Thorgrim and Gotrek are pretty sure you've gone down another 50' or so. After descending the long flight of steps, you enter another area of level caverns. Though natural, there are plenty of traces of work having been done, parts chipped out and enlarged, etc. A narrow cavern leads off to the left, while the main passage seems to open up ahead into a larger chamber.

    The rock formations in these caverns are quite colorful. Stalactites depend from the ceilings of most areas. At the entryway, the walls and floor tend towards drab grays and gray-browns, but further along the stone is red, yellow, green, and blue. Some areas have sparkling mica or quartz, shining, low-value, onyx deposits, or vari-colored strata of minerals that would make the place look like a wonderland in torch or lantern light. There are frequent shelves and ledges, and along these grow strange lichens and fungi. Some of these plants give off a very faint, pale gray luminescence. This glow is not sufficient to see by, but eyes adjusted to the darkness can spot movement within 10' by its radiance. The caverns are quite damp. Floors are slick in places, and characters moving rapidly have a 1 in 6 chance of falling.

    You have ignored a narrow passageway to your left (west) in order to enter this area, for you have noticed something on the far wall of the place. Now you see that there are weird faces carved in bas-relief around the walls of this cavern. There are, in fact, six such visages hewn from the rock itself. Each face is by the side of one of six tunnels leading off in one direction or another from the cavern to unknown. Although each face is slightly different from its fellows, all are strange and doleful looking: one has doglike ears, another protuding tusks, a third drooping wattles, etc. There seems to be no relationship between the size of the passageway and the stony visage beside it. Nothing else in the chamber seems remarkable. There are a few stalactites on the ceiling above, a few fallen to the floor amid a handful of stalagmites.

    To Thorgrim's left is a tunnel (btw, all are natural unless I say otherwise) which heads off around a bend. Left of Noot is the first tunnel, then going clockwise there's a very narrow one, an alcove, then north of Manny is another tunnel, then the 4th one is to the northeast (where the 6 is), then clockwise further there are two more, ending with the one to the right of the stairs you came down.

    Noot advance to the side cavern, checking down that way, while Manny watches the main corridor and covers Noot. Once Noot signals it is clear, Manny advances down the main corridor to check the chamber while Noot watches the side passage and covers him.

    Berenn checks for tracks, which is easy in these caverns. There seem to be many recent ones, moving down various paths.

    The yellow lines and arrows show the paths and direction of tracks. I also put letters for each one where there are tracks. So, the Velunese went down four passages (IF all the tracks are theirs. There are MANY tracks here, so it's hard to tell and differentiate. However, there are tracks going down AND back in passages a, c, and d. The tracks ONLY go down passage b with none returning this way.

    Noot checks out the passsage to the left. It leads to a dead-end cavern, and it is all burned. A fireball seems to have exploded there, and there are many crispy, fried stirges there. You couldn't tell how many, but it was a lot. Looks like the Velunese came down here and ran into this stirge nest, which they then fireballed. There's nothing else there of any value.

    Miri says, "Let us go down that one [pointing to path b] very carefully because whomever came here last did not return."

    Emyn draws his bastard sword. “I agree.”

    “The way I see it,” says Manny, “we have seven passages. Three the other party went down and came back out of, three they haven't tried, and the one they went down and didn't come back. If we want to aid and/or join up with the other party our best choice is the one they went in. Thus, we follow the tracks.”

    "Manny makes good sense,” says Berenn.

    "Then let us follow the tracks that don't return,” says Thorgrim finally. “It is our surest path unless we are being intentionally misled."

    The tracks follow the caverns to the left, to what amounts to a 4-way intersection. There are tracks to the left, angling downhill and curving around to the west, but there are also tracks returning, so it looks like the party returned from this direction. There are tracks leading to the west and northwest, and it looks like the group split up here. No tracks return from either direction.

    "Why would they split up?" Thorgrim asks. "Unless they were desperate? Or numerous."

    "Which reminds me. I think we should bring up the Dwarves to help secure this area. I've a feeling we may need their help, before the end."

    Berenn moves up to the crossroads cavern and checks the tracks, using Thorgrim's eyepatch light. You immediately see a dead roper in the center of one wall which looked like just another stalagmite before. It's clear the other party slew it a few days ago. He also says there are maybe a dozen people; it's hard to tell for certain. All went down the southern passage and back, but only about half went down each way after coming back here. Looking at the prints, he also notes that one of the small sets of prints is missing. There were two sets of small prints, likely a dwarf and a halfling. It seems the dwarf didn't make it this way. He definitely saw the dwarf prints earlier though, in the chamber with all the bas reliefs and the six tunnels. He'd have to go back and look again to see where they disappeared.

    He looks at Manny. "They weren't running, either. The prints are balanced and evenly spaced. They simply split up here," he adds, looking to the NW.

    Noot and Manny sneak forward into those other tunnels. Gotrek went and checked the southern tunnel, and he saw that it went on for a long while. They move up the two other caves, and do find that they meet back up. They keep going until they reach another southern dead end as well as another cave leading north and slowly going up. The Velunese met back up and went that way. They also find that they camped out in the small dead end cave to the south. Berenn puts his hands to it and finds it to be totally cold, at least a couple days old.

    The party gathers back up at the entrance cave. Thorgrim uses his eyepatch to help Berenn track, and he wants to await Delaim and the dwarves anyway. Berenn finds that the dwarf prints went up cave c. They did not come back.

    Once the dwarves arrive, Emyn says, "We should follow the expedition with all haste. It is clear to me that they have cleared this area of foes before moving onward. "

    "Hardly that,” replies Manny. “There are at least three tunnels they never entered. Anything could wander out of those. They may have gone the wrong route and been trapped or killed. We won't know their fate unless we follow them."

    Soon Delaim and the Azcral arrive in the cavern. Emyn speaks with Delaim, relating what they have found and that the dwarf on the Velnuese expedition may have died up that tunnel. He offers to search for the body once the main mission is completed.

    "We should clear those tunnels before proceeding anyway," Thorgrim says. "Otherwise, this isn't a secure place for our Dwarven Host."
    Isilme tells Thorgrim she is going to take the book we found and stay with the dwarves to read it with her speedreading glasses. We can gain some info, and she can provide fire support to the dwarven platoon. She states she feels she would be of more use to the group figuring out what is going on here overall then crawling about the dungeon mindlessly killing everything that moves and heading down the next passage.

    "Thorgrim,” she says, “If you run into serious problems we have the far speakers, I can rush off to assist" She will renew the spell for the party.

    "I would thank ye for that, though your skills be sorely missed," Thorgrim says. "I know not what Plan Clanggedin had intended when he bestowed our current host upon me. The plan I must reckon, but the purpose is to help us, I'm sure."

    [DM OOC: You will be waiting all the rest of the day, just to read through the book and figure out what the spells are. To learn them so that you may cast them will take the normal time. I will also add that there isn't necessarily anything going on. You guys are basically going through these old forgotten caverns. Yes you have a couple missions but there really isn't anything to get figured out. It's not a murder mystery adventure.]

    Emyn says, "Given the news Manny has given us, I am going to go see what happened to that poor dwarf before we explore the caves the expedition didn't touch. Who is with me?"

    Isilme looks up and says "hmmm?", then returns back to the book, she seems very excited!

    Thorgrim speaks to Delaim. "Isilme desires to search for answers in that book we found. I ask that you secure this area, posting sentries at the unexplored tunnels while the rest of us function as a vanguard. She will need you to defend her while she studies, though her magical powers are not inconsiderable. I would say the Throne Room is more secure, but we'd like her in range if we run into trouble we can't handle ourselves. Isilme has been our savior more times than I can count on my hands, as you yourself witnessed in our encounter with Clonoc." He glances at Isilme, completely engrossed in the spell book.
    "I would recommend against molesting her during her studies, unless the need is great."

    Thorgrm then moves over to Emyn. "I am with you," Thorgrim replies. "We are two days late. It is my intention we explore all the side-caverns before following the Velunese expedition. It's the only way to be sure."

    Thorgrim follows Emyn, and they find that the passage makes a Y. Prints go in each direction, but the area to the right is just a circle. To the left you find a small cave. It has bones scattered throughout it. There is a low mound of dung in the middle of the place, and what appears to be a crushed skeleton of a large creature, maybe an ogre or something, at the south end of the cave. The floor and ceiling are unusually smooth. On the floor just inside are the remains of a strange creature. It resembles a large manta ray; its grayish belly is textured like stone. It is flat like a rug, and half rolled up and tossed aside, but you see many slash marks along it. Thorgrim recognizes it, a lurker.

    "It's dead Jim," he says.

    Beyond the dead lurker is a small cairn with a tombstone at the head. It reads:

    Here lies Bolain Gladdik
    Wayfinder of Clan Bargrin

    Gotrek grunts. "Thorgrim, do ye know of this fallen warrior's clan?" He then bows down, to pay respects.

    Thorgrim grunts. "I do not, friend," he replies. "This cairn is fresh and hastily-made. I believe it to be one of the Velunese expedition, though I do not recognize the name. One of the underlings, perhaps..." Thorgrim says a swift prayer over the gravesite, and trusts that that Dwarf's soul resides with Clanggedin, as he likely died in battle. He prays to be allotted the same gift himself, when his time comes.

    Emyn says a short prayer to Trithereon and Clangeddin for the dwarf.

    "This dwarf died a warrior's death. One can ask for no better," he says to Thorgrim and Gotrek. Emyn goes back to the main group and says they should make haste now to follow thhe tracks of the expedition. Clearing the floor here will only widen our distance from them and given what we've seen so far they may be in need of aid.

    Berenn will start marking the tunnels we have visited. "This could end up being an endless maze. But let us follow the Velunese trail, for now.”

    Following the Velunese, you make your way up the passage to the west which leads north to another, very high, chamber. This large high-domed cave is covered with bat guano. The floor is inches deep in the stuff, and you can see many beetles and a few normal rats scurrying away from you as you enter. The sound of flowing water comes from somewhere in the north end of the place. There are a half-dozen large dead bat-creatures in the cave, clearly killed by the Velunese when they came this way. On the north wall of the cave, 30' up, is a broad, projecting ledge. A tunnel leads to the underground river beyond, the surface of the water being about 40' below this opening.

    There are spikes driven into the wall of the north alcove, above the underground stream, and ropes tied to it and following a tiny ledge around the corner to the left. Noot goes out and checks it out. The rope is tied off above the ledge, which is only about 6" wide and about 40' above the water. It goes around the point and follows the ledge west about another 20'. Then it goes across the underground stream and down, tied off to other spikes on a large ledge on the opposite side. I had to put Noot in the middle of the stream to reveal this area correctly.

    “It seems they forded the river,” says Emyn. “We should follow.”

    "Ford isn't the verb I would use, here," Thorgrim replies. He looks at Elrae. "What do you think? Ice Bridge? We should probably save that for when we bring up our Dwarven Host, later. Let's follow using their rope. If you all like, I will test it. None weigh more than me, save the paladins and Miri. We can likely go two at a time, at least, with Miri last. Noot, would you like to join me?” Thorgrim gets out his Farspeaker box. "Isilme, we've followed our quarry to a room full of bat dung. We are crossing a river over a chasm. Thorgrim out."

    Manny is a tightrope walker, so he checks to make sure the rope is seated and if it is sound. If no one objects he can make a quick run across if it is, and scout the other end. Then make sure the rope end over there is secure for Noot.

    "Manny, Let's do it!" says Noot, agreeing.

    The rope is strong and stable. Noot and Manny get across without issue. There's a long passage heading north, disappearing into the darkness.

    "No need for my ice bridge then,” says Elrae. “Still I bet when half of us are in the middle crossing, some nasty creature from the depths will try and devour us. It always works out like that."

    Manny finds a good place to secure another rope above or below the other. Once it is secure, he runs it back across and secures it on that side. The idea is to set it up so they can balance with one rope while walking on the other. Much easier.

    Miri agrees, and she will go next. She also ties a rope around her and gives the other end to the party. “Better safe then sorry,” she says, thinking about the stairs outside.

    Eventually, everyone makes it across. Nothing comes out of the water to attack them. The walls don't collapse. Nothing happens. When everyone looks at Elrae, he just shrugs. “Well, that's a first!”

    The party heads north, following the trail. The passage leads pretty straight for over a 100'. After quite some time, it opens up to an area with another river. It bisects the passage, the water flowing from east to west, and the river itself is crossed by a stone bridge. At the south end is the stone statue of a man in plate armor, with a shield and mace. In the middle of the bridge stands another statue, this one of a bald man in robes, arms raised towards the north. The passage seems to continue beyond the bridge, but naturally Manny and Noot stopped here after making this discovery. They then returned, “I don't want to get stoned,” says Noot emphatically.

    [DM OOC: The image shows a constructed bridge, but it's not that. The real bridge is just a natural stone arch. I didn't have an image of a natural bridge. The water cut a passage under it, leaving the harder stone to arch over it. The main reason to point this out is to tell you that there are no sides to the bridge, as shown in the map. Also, the rest of the party are following behind Manny and Noot, who are ahead scouting. They are seeing this with infravision, so it's not a perfect image, of course. Anyway, everyone else is following behind.]
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    Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:00 pm  
    Part 32 – Stoned

    "I could cast Protection from Petrification on Gotrek and let him find the monster,” says Berenn. “Or we could just let Elrae sing it a lullaby....”

    “Is there a way to return those stoned to life?” asks Emyn. “It would bolster our numbers and give us some information."

    “No magic we possess,” says Thorgrim. "Only your beloved, or some other powerful wizard experienced in Arcana, might be able to do that," Thorgrim replies.

    Emyn walks out on the bridge to investigate the statues. "They likely killed whatever it was and moved on," he says. Miri moves up to aid Emyn, she has the mirror in one hand and cloak in the other.

    "Emyn, wait!" Thorgrim says. "Don't be rash. They may have killed it, as they did these other lurking fiends. Or simply evaded it or subdued it, leaving the Beholder for us to do the same. It yet lurks somewhere in these tunnels, though one would think it would've learned its lesson."

    [DM OOC: Where she cannot see, because the party is not using light. Here's how you guys have been exploring:

    Noot and Manny scout in the front, using their infravision. About 30' behind them are Emyn and Gotrek, also using infravision (Emyn is using a ring). Then about 30' behind them are Elrae, Sir Godwynn, Miri, and Thorgrim, all using Snowfang's light. Berenn brings up the rear about 30' further back, using his infravision.

    I'm sorry but Miri cannot just move out and do stuff without light. When you guys want to use some light, you have to say so. Thorgrim and Sir Godwynn can provide continual light instantly, but they do not unless you decide you need it. You all have to keep that in mind. :) So, do you want to make some light? ]

    Meanwhile, Noot checks around, including under the bridge, and says that there is nothing there. He then stealthily moves onto it, keeping an eye on the statues. He cannot see any details in them, since they are just stone like everything else. He moves across, checking the area beyond. The cave you are following splits into three different passages. He notes that there are no footprints here any longer, though there are some massive prints, looks like a very large creature of some type. Certainly, nobody came beyond that bridge.

    Emyn moves up and checks out the statues. They were definitely people. The one you thought a fighter is actually a priest of St. Cuthbert or a paladin. He was wearing plate mail and had a shield and mace, and the shield shows the familiar cudgel symbol upon it revealing that he was a member of the Order of the Billet. [DM OOC: For those who either forgot or simply ignored who they are when I described them before, I will repeat some info here. The Billets are the most numerous of Saint Cuthbert's clergy. Most are lawful good, and they seek to minister to and protect the faithful. These are well-beloved by the common folk. Their symbol is a wooden club. The Chapeaux often come into conflict with the Billets, because the former order wants to seek new converts while the latter wants to care for the worshipers they already have.]

    The other looks to have been a wizard, judging from the robes he wore and the wand he carried.

    When the others move up (which I showed on the map), they are using the light from Snowfang to see. Sir Godwynn instantly recognizes the priest that was turned to stone. "It is Sir Orsen Dalby," he says. "He was was a noble from Veluna, and was part of the Velunese expedition." He doesn't know the wizard, but he heard they had hired one before departing Veluna City.

    Mir puts her cloak back on and puts her mirror away, draws Remorse and is ready to move on. She examines the tunnels, to follow the tracks of the Velunes. She quickly notes that they came this way, but didn't go any further. It looks like they encountered something at the bridge, something that turned two of them to stone, then that's it. Berenn moves up, and he finds that there are some footsteps on the other side, but it's hard to tell anything because it looks like there was a fight. The steps then go back to the bridge or to the water and disappear. There is also one set of footsteps, the small ones, which leads up the middle passage.

    “There is another set of tracks here,” says Berenn, kneeling down and tracing the outline of one. “Whatever they enountered, it was not the beholder. This was a large creature, maybe 20' long, with cat-like paws on hits front limbs and hooves on its hind legs.”

    "That sounds like maybe the monster we fought that was like a chimera maybe?" guesses Emyn.

    "Well unless the chimera grew a medusa or gorgon head, it is not the reason these poor men were turned to stone,” says Berenn.

    "Could be some variant created by Iggwilv,” says Manny. “She was known for that kind of work. The question would be was it gaze or breath or some other delivery? Not meeting it's gaze would only help in one case and be dangerous for the others."

    As they look at this, Miri follows the small tracks a bit. The passage they enter turns to the right, narrows, then eventually dead ends. However, about 30' from the end, the footprints go right through the stone wall. It is a straight stone wall. One of the footprints is actually half in the stone, as if the prints were there first.

    "More Walls of Stone!" Thorgrim exclaims. "Well, there can't be too many, unless he had a wand. Speaking of which..." He turns to Elrae. "Elrae, let's use your Wand of Passwall to follow. I fear this is where the Velunese party met its end, to be killed and eaten. And the mage, separated from his party, likely met the same fate."

    Elrae nods, takes out his wand, and creates a passwall. It reveals another passage leading southeast about 40' before curving around to the northeast.

    "We are here to help," calls Emyn before entering. He is followed closely by Thorgrim and then Gotrek. As bright light can be seen ahead, Miri follows as well, staying close to Gotrek. The passage turns around a couple of corners, before you enter a cave with carpets strewn on its floor, rugs hanging from the walls, and beautiful furniture scattered about it. There are plump cushions piled on the floor, the air smells of orange blossoms, and faint music-tinkling bells and chimes-can be heard. A pair of divans stand along the far wall, with a chest of rosewood between them. The glitter showing from the chest is gems. There are stands upon which rest golden dishes and silver bowls. Malachite and lapis statuettes and bowls are everywhere, upon stands inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory, and rare woods. Silken garments are scattered on stools and heaped in chests and wardrobes. A pair of scimitars are framed by a tapestry showing scenes of battle. A great recurved horn bow and a sheaf of very long arrows rest near the left couch. As you complete your inspection of the wondrous place, you note that there is an alcove to the west, draped with a curtain of glass beads and covered by a strangely worked and decorated folding screen. From behind it you hear a high-pitched giggle, and before your startled eyes appears a midget dressed in orange silk pantaloons, an embroidered vest of blue and white, purple slippers with curled up toes, and a large turban of pale purple, set with a deep-hued purple gem. He waves a toy scimitar, bows, and bids you welcome to the "Antechamber of the Garden of One Thousand Earthly Delights."

    With that the small fellow smiles, bows, and waddles over to the screen. He pushes it out of the way so that you can see what is beyond. There is a marble passageway some 20' long and in it are two rather comely girls. They are accompanied by a fat, puffing chap who might be a eunuch. He is trying to prevent them from coming out to greet you. All three are dressed in a fashion similar to the strange, hopping and skipping little midget who is now urging your party to follow him into the bright corridor and the sunny garden you can see beyond it.

    Everyone is instantly suspicious, as Noot exclaims, “What illusion is this?"

    "Illusion?" Thorgrim whispers to Gotrek in Dwarvish. "No matter. You take the big guy, if you can avoid letting him lure you into that corridor. I will take on the harlots and midgets, get them to reveal their true form."

    [Thorgrim OOC: Thorgrim casts Rockburst, attempting to catch all of these demons in the area-of-effect. His target will be the archway, as that may be the only part of this illusion that's real.]

    "Thorgrim, should we not determine their intent first?" says Emyn.

    "It's clear enough," he replies curtly.

    Berenn takes out his scroll of True Sight, but before he can read it one of the women bang a hanging gong. Another one gestures and the ground at your feet suddenly turns to mud. Simultaneously a wall of stone appears behind you sealing off the cavern and dividing you from the rest of the party.

    Thorgrim does not sink, thanks to his ring of Water Walking. However, Gotrek, Miri and Emyn sink right into the mud. Berenn will use his Yatil Wand to "zoom" himself out.

    Thorgrim, realizing what is happening, springs into action. He runs toGotrek, attempting to grab his hand before he sinks into the mud. "Hang on to me," he says, as he roughly yanks his spidersilk rope from its tether, and hands him an end while he loops the rope around his forearm three times.

    Berenn sinks, fumbling for his wand of zooming, which he then uses to "leap" out of the mud. He ends up "zooming" out and across, then dropping lightly to the ground. Gotrek and Emyn just sink! glub...glub...

    Elrae and Sir Godwynn move up in the darkness, using the light of Snowfang to find their way. Eventually they reach the "new" wall of stone and stop there. Noot follows, and Manny is about to follow him when he hears a loud roar from back along the passage to the NW......

    The female dao (yeah, that's what they are!) disappears. The two others laugh at the others, until Berenn shoots up out of the mud and lands before them. "Well done!" says one, drawing a tulwar. "But you'll have to do better than that!" says the other, also drawing a similar blade. Together they attack Berenn, hitting him for [9 and 20: total 29].

    Gotrek sputters, and shakes the mud off himself, like a angry, wet dog. "Methanks, old friend!" He looks around. "Now, who dies first?"

    Outside, Manny calls Isilme on the Farspeaker, telling her about the situation. She sighs and tells Delaim they may be in trouble. He nods, takes a half-dozen dwarves with him, and they trudge off along the route indicated by Isilme..... Manny then slips through the passwall created by Elrae and hugs the side. He watches back the way they came.

    Noot slips all the way down the passage to where Elrae is taking out his wand again.

    Inside the dao chamber, a huge mound of mud suddenly rises right in front of Thorgrim and Gotrek. It has a huge, amorphous body and long tendril-like arms. It blocks Thorgrim's and Gotrek's way across the mud, and Thorgrim knows he won't be able to get Gotrek passed it. (not without attacks of opportunity).

    Meanwhile, Berenn is attacked by one of the dao which misses him.

    Thorgrim steps up and throws Gotrek passed the elemental. It takes a swing at Thorgrim as he does this, missing badly!

    Miri tries to poke her sword up while going "glub."

    Berenn uses his wand to "zoom" back across the mud. He launches himself across it, but finds there is nowhere to stand or grab. Lucky for him, he grabs a handhold on a rock outcropping. He holds on while his legs and waist sink into the mud. He cannot feel the bottom and knows that if he lets go he will sink like a stone!

    One of the dao moves up and attacks Gotrek, hitting him [14]. Gotrek gets up and swings back, hitting the dao for [18].

    Elrae then uses his wand to create another passwall. Sir Godwynn enacts the continual light from his shield and steps up to the wall. He stops abrubtly with he sees the mud within and Berenn floundering in it. He is about to step in to his aid when Berenn shouts a warning to him. Rather, he reaches out, takes Berenn's hand, and pulls the ranger back through the passwall.

    [DM OOC: I hid Emyn and Miri counters, since neither they nor anyone else know "exactly" where they are, having sunk down into the mud.....]

    [Berenn OOC: And here I thought this wand would be useless!]

    "Make sure you watch that first step, it is a doozy," says Berenn, taking Sir Godwynn's hand. He gets his Rope of Climbing out to help fish out the remaining party members.

    [DM OOC: Also, so everyone understands, I am using the rules from the old Wilderness Survival Guide: Holding Your Breath

    Under normal circumstances (with a good gulp of air and not performing strenuous feats), a character can hold his breath up to 1/3 his Constitution score in rounds (rounded up). If the character is exerting himself, this time is halved (again, rounded up). Characters reduced to 1/3 or less of their normal movement because of encumbrance are always considered to be exerting themselves. If unable to get a good gulp of air, these times are reduced by ½. All characters are able to hold their breath for one round, regardless of circumstances.

    While attempting to hold his breath beyond this time, the character must roll a Constitution check each round. The first check has no modifiers, but each subsequent check suffers a -2 cumulative penalty. Once a check is failed, the character must breathe (if he cannot reach the surface, he drowns).

    Emyn got a breath, but Miri didn't. I rolls saving throws for them to determine this. That gives Emyn 5 rounds to hold his breath before he needs to make Con checks. Miri has only 3. This turn has been two!]

    At the end of the round, another large creature, an ankheg, bursts from the mud, emerging onto solid ground where Berenn had just been. Holding its side is Emyn, covered in mud from head to toe! He falls off the beast, wipes the mud from his face, and stands. "Kill them!" he orders the ankheg, as he draws his sword.

    [Emyn OOC: I summoned it after sinking!]

    Emyn charges the Dao that is on his left leaving the other to Gotrek and Thorgrim. "Don't kill the Gome in the back" he tells them before turning his full attention to the Dao. "Feel the wrath of Trithereon trickster!" he yells as he throw himself headlong into the fight.

    Miri continues to hold her breath under the mud....

    Elrae takes out Hepla's healing herbs and uses them on Berenn, healing 10hp.

    Manny continues watching the caves behind you.

    Gotrek hits the dao in front of him [16]. The dao slashes him back for [18].

    Noot helps Berenn with his Rope, holding it after Berenn gets it ready this round. Berenn finishes, getting it to wrap one end around a stalagmite. He can dive in next round.

    The elemental attacks Thorgrim, pummeling him with its muddy fists [15]. Thorgrim backs off and tries to cast Protection from Earth but he fails, disrupted by the elemental's attack. Emyn charges the Dao that is on his left leaving the other to Gotrek and Thorgrim. "Don't kill the Gome in the back" he tells them. "Feel the wrath of Trithereon trickster!" he yells as he throw himself headlong into the fight. He hits the Dao [13]. The dao strikes back at Emyn, slashing him for [12]. The ankheg then bites it for [11] more.

    Sir Godwynn cannot do anything, as he cannot cross the mud. He looks very frustrated.

    At the end of the round, Manny spots a very large creature down the rear passage. It passes by quickly, going towards the bridge before stopping. It was just a big blur, and now all he can see is its large tail!

    Berenn dives into the mud, searching for Miri. Elrae steps forward and points his wand at the elemental, using its Dig power on it. Nothing happens; the elemental doesn't react at all. When Thorgrim sees this, with his knowledge of elemental earth, he starts to think something isn't right. Studying it, he notices inconsistencies in the elemental, determining that it is nothing but an illusion! He cries out a warning to everyone about it, then moves forward, right through it, until he is on dry ground himself!

    Berenn finds Miri under the mud. Thorgrim casts Detect Invisible, and he immediately spots the third dao, the female one, in the back controlling the elemental illusion. She stops when she sees that Thorgrim sees her!

    The ankheg continues to attack the dao, hitting again for [13]. Emyn then hits again for [19]. It slashes Emyn but misses, and Emyn scores another hit [14]. The dao then backs up against the rear wall.

    Gotrek hits his dao twice, while it misses, doing [19 and 15: total 34]. It falls back, reeling from the blows, while missing Gotrek completely.

    Finally, Noot notices that Manny is no longer watching the rear. He moves back to where Manny was, but doesn't see him anywhere. He looks through the passwall in the first wall of stone, but sees nothing down the passage.

    [DM OOC: Miri is now shown, as Berenn found her immediately. She BARELY holds her breath, [I rolled an 18 on her Con check!] as Berenn grabs her. I have shown the third dao now, though she is still invisible and ONLY seen by Thorgrim. I just want to show where she is.]

    About this time the gnome wakes up, watching the goings on. Thorgrim now notices that its hands are not bound; rather, they are encased in the stone wall behind it. The dao have used the very cavern wall to hold the poor guy prisoner!

    Emyn and the ankheg finish off their dao before it can do anything. Meanwhile, Gotrek finishes off his with a massive cut of Goreblade, just as it starts to go gaseous. It fails to do so in time, and Gotrek chops it in half.

    Before Thorgrim can charge the last one, she sees that he can see her and she does go into Gaseous Form.

    Meanwhile, Elrae and Sir Godwynn pull Berenn and Miri out of the mud. Both are covered in the stuff, and Miri takes a huge breath when she emerges. Her face is blue, and she coughs as she lies on the ground getting her breath.

    Thorgrim calls upon the power of Clanggedin and unleashes a Flame Strike upon the female dao. She takes 32! Fleeing from the superior power of the group she flows out through cracks in the wall behind her where nobody can follow.

    Basically, that's the end of the combat. . Noot is keeping an eye out through the passwall, and he hears some low growling from back towards the river.
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    Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:07 am  
    Part 33 - Chossoes

    "That'll send her packing!" Thorgrim declares with satisfaction. He looks about for any more invisible enemies before assessing the party's damage.  "We may need Isilme's help with healing before pressing on. I am getting low on spells. And there is an enemy between us and her, as Manny noted. Emyn, see to that gnome. We need to get the party together on one side or the other of this mud-pit." He grabs his Farspeaker box. "Isilme, status. Be forewarned that there is an evil critter between us, perhaps a cockatrice or some other creature that turns flesh to stone. Use caution." He fingers his Potion of Mirrored Eyes to make sure that it's still there.

    Thorgrim casts Cure Moderate Wounds on Gotrek and Cure Light Wounds on himself while we get it together. "Berenn, Gotrek's wounds look serious. Might use some assistance, here."

    Elrae casts passwall at the crack. It opens and reveals another chamber beyond! The dao is there, back to her non-gaseous state. Thorgrim and Gotrek charge in and with a couple of quick hits she is sent back to the Plane of Earth where she belongs. As she dissipates, she drops a stone jar which she had just picked up. It is sealed with a cork, and the whole is engraven with odd sigils you do not understand. It radiates strong magic. There is also a backpack and other items, the equipment/possessions of the gnome outside. When they are certain there's nothing else there, Thorgrim and Gotrek leave, bringing the gnome's stuff and the jar. Once back in the other room, Thorgrim uses a Stone Shape to free the gnome, while Berenn uses his rod to heal him. This brings him back to consciousness.

    Emyn approaches the gnome and says, "who might you be and how did you get here?"

    When they are certain there's nothing else there, Thorgrim and Gotrek leave, bringing the gnome's stuff and the jar. Once back in the other room, Thorgrim uses a Stone Shape to free the gnome, while Berenn uses his rod to heal him. This brings him back to consciousness.

    Ervil is a gnomish priest of Ulaa, evident by the brown priestly raiment he dons over his studded leather armor after you return his effects. He also has a hammer, footman's pick, and a long knife, all of which he straps on with various belts. He hails from the Highvale, and appears a friendly, agreeable personality, always talking. He babbles on about having joined an expedition of priests and soldiers from Veluna and Furyondy, how they were attacked at the bridge, and that some were turned to stone while the others jumped into the river to escape some dreadful creature. He escaped down this passage and was captured by the dao which were just toying with him. It's really a long, rambling thing, which almost makes no sense.

    "Must be a gnome thing," mutters Berenn, thinking about the other gnomes you've encountered.

    He smiles at Berenn, then looks around. "So, who are you?"

    "Hello Friend," Elrae flashes his ring given to him by the gnome in the tavern years ago. "Can you tell us how you came upon such retched predicament with those Dao? Any idea what's in the stone jar?"

    "And how long have you been here?" says Miri. She hopes someone is keeping an eye on the trail since Noot had said he saw something.

    He notices the ring and bows deeply to Elrae.

    [BTW, I'm assuming that Elrae created a passwall to get into this chamber too, since the mud doesn't go away! We'll say he did and move on! ]

    "I met Marius and his company in Highfolk," he says as the others enter the cavern. "They sought guides, and my companions and I obliged." He suddenly looks shocked as he remembers. "Thaddeus," he says. "Is he here? Have you found him? Is he safe?" He wrings his hands, then grabs his hammer and points out the way you came.

    "If that's one of the stone statues we retrieved, then he's safe enough, for now. Otherwise, I fear him dead," Thorgrim replies.

    "I don't know," he says, looking nervous now. "Two days I think." He starts off back towards the bridge. "We must find them," he says. "This place is dangerous, almost too much for us, and if those foul Iuzians catch up..." He stops suddenly, remembering something. "The monster!" he says. "Have you slain it?"

    "What monster?" asks Miri.

    "The gorghimera!" he says. "The dao called it 'Chossoes'", he adds. "It's a beast and killed at least two of our group before I fled."

    "Gorghimera? What is that? Some foul chimera hybrid?" asks Elrae. "We've dealt with chimera's before. Berenn has a stuffed one back home. But I've never heard of a Gorghimera before."

    "Nay, it's prowling about just around the corner," Thorgrim responds. Tell me quickly its powers. I believe I've heard tales of such a beast, but cannot separate fact from legend."

    Noot is still watching the passage. He sees nothing but did hear some roaring a while ago.

    Thorgrim speaks into the Farspeaker. "Delaim," he says. "Hold fast. This beast is dangerous. Your side of the river may be the best place, for now. Unless we need to use you for bait."

    As he does so, Emyn examines the jar. He opens it, and bunch of smoke flows out, swirling and condensing into the form of a genie!

    The party went a bit crazy for a bit here. Anyway, let me just sum up!

    So, you found a genie. His name is Almisahi Taul'nasam. He was captured hundreds of years ago by the arch-witch Iggwilv, when she was experimenting with inter-planar gates. Her magic, especially with summonings and bindings, was unparalleled. He's NOT a noble genie, thus cannot grant you your hearts' desires. However, he will pledge to perform one service for you, in payment for having freed him from his confinement.

    "Emyn," says Thorgrim quickly. "Do NOT use him to send a love-message to Hepla. Instead, have him determine the location of the Iuzians. Or tell us about the traps in this place. Or help us against the gorghimera. He could be a scout."

    Ignoring Thorgrim, Emyn speaks to the genie. "It is good to meet you, and I am happy we could free you. Such treatment is aenethema to me as I am an avenger of Trithereon. Your offer to help us with something is much appreciated, and I would confer with my friends before we make a decision. What may I ask are you able to do so that we can choose an appropriate task?"

    "Maybe we should just ask him to kill the gorghimera," says Manny.

    The rest of the party agrees, and the geniee nods. He will head off to do just that.

    Meanwhile Noot notices a jet of flame from back towards the bridge, and there's a loud roar which gets everyone's attention. By the time he goes further to see what's going on, the genie is flying out there in a whirlwind form. The goggimera is on the bridge fighting another creature which Noot doesn't recognize. It looks like a big creature made of plants. [DM OOC: yes it's a shambling mound.]

    The genie moves up passed Noot, followed closely by those of the party that can see in the dark. When they get up there, they see the gorgimera atop the bridge, where it is fighting a shambling mound. Suddenly a lightning bolt erupts from the south side of the bridge, flying north and taking the gorgimera in the rear [13] and destroying the shambling mound, which as it dies you note just fades away into shadowy mist. It was not real!

    Behind the gorgimera, appearing in the darkness south of the bridge, is Manny!

    The gorgimera breathes at the genie, but the cloud just whirls around in a circle and then is funneled into the stone jar the genie was in. The genie then picks up the gorgimera, spins it around like a top, and BLAMMO! It blows up into an explosion of flowers! The gorgimera is just gone. The genie closes the jar, then hands it to Thorgrim. "You may find a use for this some day," he says, cracking his knuckles and stretching. "1000 years in a bottle leaves you really stiff!" As Thorgrim takes the bottle, the genie says his farewell before shooting up through the ceiling and disappearing.

    Thorgrim throws the jar into the river where it breaks on the rocks. As the gas disappears, he says, "Just making sure your prison is destroyed."

    The genie nods, thanks you, then disappears as it returns to the Plane of Air.

    Berenn will attempt to pick up the trail of the expedition again. They did not go any further. It's pretty clear that they either perished here or fell into the river.

    "Surely men in armour would have not survived teh river," Emyn notes somberly.

    "The gorgimera would have been a formidable opponent for any group of adventures," says Berenn.

    Thorgrim uses all his spells to heal the party. "Getting low on spells," he says. "We can endure one more encounter, maybe two, before we find a secure place to rest. We can't be all beat up at the end of the day, or we'll need to spend a full day resting and healing before pressing on. We're already two days behind our quarry."

    The party decides to rest, as they were sorely pressed and used much of their magic. As they rest, they get the story of the Velunese from Ervil. I don't have all the old details handy, but here is a summary:

    The Velunese were attacked by Grugach at that island north of Ammsee. They followed a valley to the west, which meant they ended up skirting the village. They eventually made their way around the mountains, getting into a fight with werewolves in the Salach Valley just west of where you turned south at that broken dwarven statue. [DM OOC: You guys heard the howling before you found your way through the mountains via the Azcral dwarves. That was actually set up to be an interesting encounter, but you avoided it. See? I don't always railroad you!] Anyway, they continued up the valley, cutting through the mountains further west. They mostly avoided trouble, and eventually reached the Horn from the northwest direction. They thus never saw the giants isle or the chimera you fought along the causeway. Eventually, they found the entrance as you did, though they never took the stairs up.

    Once inside, they fought a demon at the dungeon entrance, which they only defeated with the use of great magics. One of the warriors died there. They then fought a stone golem, which killed another, I think a priest. They eventually cleared the entire entry area, losing their elven thief to a fire trapped door. After this, they placed their dead in the chamber you found and set wards to protect the remains while they continued. You destroyed the door to gain access to the gate room and the spellbook which Isilme has been reading.

    The Velunese then reached the actual caverns, where they lost another member, the dwarf Bolain. He was killed by a lurker above. You saw both the dead lurker as well as a simple cairn marking his grave. After this they fought another golem which guarded a chamber with an archway leading down to more caverns. Investigating further, they spent nearly two days battling foul underdark creatures including a huge tribe of troglodytes. Another of their number, one of the priests, lost his life at their hands before the party gave up that area and returned to the cavern entrance. From there they made their way to the mobat cave where they crossed the river; however, they quickly ran afoul of the gorgimera, to devastating effect. There are maybe 6 of the party left alive, and I don't have their names handy. I think they are Doran, Justarius, Marius, Thaddeas, Captain Fallroyce, and Lt. Thatcher. Further, Kelmar and another, I think Sir Darby but I'm not positive, were turned to stone on the bridge.

    Listening to Ervil's tale, Thorgrim reaches for his pipe, remembers once again that he's nothing to smoke, and interrupts the gnome with a shout.

    "Ale! We need ale! Noot, agreed? Gotrek, help me with the cask."

    He looks at Miri. "'Twas a difficult day. I thought I'd seen the last of you, but not if we had anything to say about it. Emyn, I've never been so pleased to see an Ankheg in my life. Your god shows you much favor."

    Thorgrim removes his Portable Hole from his boot and lays it out. As he descends the stairs with Gotrek, he says, "Sorry to have so few provisions, and no Gutshaker. I've taken a shine to ale, lately. It's"

    "Well then, you weren't with the party when we started this Adventure, now were you? I believe Berenn still has your store fermenting in vats in his dungeon."

    He lifts his cask, shakes it. "Less than half-full. I mightn't've needed your help, after all. Still, a half-cask of ale is better than none. I may have to resort to spellpower before the end. Clanggedin has granted me Blessed Abundance...a powerful spell, to be used only on days of rest."

    He hands Ervil the first mug.

    "Gotrek, you still haven't replaced the mug you crushed. You'll notice these are pewter, so I could at least re-cast the damned things in a pinch. I'd like four more pewter mugs like these, or something different."

    "A little for everybody who wants," he announces. "Best keep your wits about you. It's good we could rest before fully expending our powers. Remember the Fane, and the Long Grind." Thorgrim thinks of the beast unleashed by Emyn, and shudders involuntarily. He takes another gulp, and belches with satisfaction.

    He looks along the river, then shakes his head. "I see no point in trying to explore the river," he says. "They either survived or they didn't, but we have our own mission as well. We should see it accomplised first."

    Ervil looks at him incredulously. "How can you say that?" he blurts out. "They need us, and we're their only hope. We cannot abandon them!"

    "They jumped in a rushing underground river in armour!" exclaims Emyn. "I don't hold much hope unless they somehow had magical aid."

    Ervil just looks at Emyn with a face twisted by anquish. He opens his mouth to argue, but you can see that his mind is already finding the same answers that he does not want to hear.

    Oblivious, Emyn continues, pressing hard. "What do you propose then? Have you found a way to swim in ice cold water wearing armour? If we find them we can help them but jumping into a river won't do it. Mayne we can find the river again downstream by using these caves?"

    Godwynn agrees, stepping over to Ervil and putting a hand on his shoulder. "These were my friends," he said, "close friends," but they would want us to press on and complete our mission, THEIR mission, first."

    "Maybe I can take a look," says Isilme, returning finally with the Azcral. While the rest of the party stays up above, Isilme flies down the river. I guess it's safe to assume she casts Fly and Invisibility? :) It was at least 100', maybe 200 down the waterway BEFORE you reached the waterfall, including lots of nasty twists and turns and short plunges. Then at least a 200' waterfall. So, it's nothing that a passwall would help; it only makes a 10' long opening.

    After speaking into the farspeaker, Isilme also notices movement in the water. She flies up a bit, watching, and sees humanoid forms emerging from it around the island above which she was flying. They are ghouls, and there seem to be dozens of them, maybe hundreds, more than she can easily count! They swarm up around the island, looking for the prey they just heard....

    Meanwhile, the party finds the gorghimera lair. This high-domed cavern displays a rainbow of colors on its walls and floor. Even the many stalactites above hang like colored icicles. Various mineral deposits in the rock have seeped into frozen curtains, cascades, and many fantastic shapes. The floor has numbers of humps and stalagmites of varied hue and strange form. In the center of the chamber is a heap of coins and metal bars. This is the lair of the gorgimera, Chossos. There rear of the chamber is a huge pile of boulders that are clearly out of place and have been stacked there for some purpose.

    Waiting for Isilme, they find the following: 7,000 sp, 9,000 gp, 800pp, 21 gems, 2 pieces of jewelry. The gems and jewelry I can roll up randomly later. I'll add this to the treasure sheet. In addition you find some magic items: potion, scroll, bag, and horn.

    As they collect everything, Isilme returns. She tells you that a few hundred feet along, through winding, cascading ways, the river ended in a great waterfall in a cavern large enough that she could not see the other side. Further, mist in the area blocks vision and the sound was deafening. It must have been a few hundred feet down, based on the roar which would make talking almost impossible within the cavern. She returned to tell you this rather than press on further.

    Elrae looks over the items, and you see that he marvels at the horn, eventually recognizing it. It is Ekim Ssen's Horn of Distortion. It was crafted hundred hundreds of years ago, by priests of St. Cuthbert when they first appeared and took their message on the road. It allowed their voices to carry for a mile, thus allowing them to preach to multitudes. It's value was quickly realized by priests of a more musical nature, and was stolen by the bardic-priests of Olidammara. For many years it would appear and disappear, always in the hands of famous bards or priests of Olidammara and Lirr. It's most famous owner was the bard Ekim Ssen of Lopolla, who won great fame using the horn to entertain thousands at a time in great outdoor concerts. He eventually founded the great conservatory of Lirr in Woodstock, inaugurating the very first Wealsun concert festival. The last known owner was Heward, of most obvious fame, and the horn was assumed still with that august personage.

    This horn allows the user to project his/her voice without the necessity of screaming to be heard. Everyone capable of hearing can easily hear sounds amplified by the horn for a distance up to 1 mile. The sound is generally not overbearingly loud, the sound being heard by all as if they were standing right next to the user. In fact, sounds will be heard with perfect clarity and equal volume at any distance.

    As for the hollow rock, it is easily broken, and inside is a letter, written in Common.

    "The small cave was the secret, for in back, hidden by (here the text
    is blurred beyond any reading)... and we descended. There was no
    certain path, so we (smudged)... and this is told of above, for it is
    where Yaim and Brelid met their end. Our persistence paid. The right
    way was beyond and narrow, so (writing covered with dark stain)...
    -earn lies straight pas(more stains)... -pe the span swiftly to plunge to
    doom where the wat- (here smudges and stains obliterate several
    lines) ... They were right. It is more dismal here than above. Only the
    two of us su- (blotch) ... We pray that the lucky (smudge) is true, for
    we are now going to attempt entry fo- (large rusty smears have
    wiped out the next words) ... of no help. I managed to escape. Why
    did we (here the remaining few words are smeared and unreadable,
    save for the last word) ... beautiful."

    Also wrapped in the old parchment was a ring which glows magical (since you just did a Detect magic!)

    Ervil recognizes the name Brelid. He was a dwarven adventurer/mountaineer from Highport who disappeared a few decades back.

    After a short discussion about the cryptic message, the party rests before they continue down the once-blocked stairs.
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    Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:34 am  
    Part 34 - The Greater Caverns

    Delaim recommends posting guards here at this stairway you've uncovered if you are determined to go down further.

    "Delaim, that's a good idea," says Thorgrim. "Your men have proven invaluable this expedition. Oft has been the time we were ambushed from the rear. You have enabled us to focus our firepower forward."

    Manny scouts down the stairs. They are carved out of the naturally descending caverns, and lead down for some way. They are very slippery, with water seeping into them from the caverns above and lightly coating them in a slick layer of slimy deposits. Eventually they lead to an intersection of tunnels, going in four more directions. They all seem to immediately branch again, and Manny can tell this will be a very confusing place. To the north he sees a larger chamber and he edges to the right to check it out. He doesn't enter, just watches from the foot of the long steps.

    Water steadily drips from the stalactites of this low-domed chamber. Three large tunnels lead into and out of this cave, as well as several smaller passageways. The still air reeks with a mixture of odors: rotting refuse, pungent fungi, and some even more unpleasant stench. The thick fungi appear deliberately cultivated, for a compost of manure and other substances is spread over the floor. The stench is awful, worse than anything Manny has before smelled.

    Noot joins Manny, signalling that he will check the south. He moves that way until the passages branch again. Manny nods doing the same to the west, and finds more and more branching passages. They both return to the foot of the stairs.

    [DM OOC: I changed the map scale, because each square on the map is 10'. I had it wrong before, showing each as 5'. :) There is also no sense everyone waiting for Gorn and Olorin to do this. Just say what the party is doing, or give me further instructions for Noot and Manny, your scouts. Otherwise we'll never get anything done. The only reason I am not pushing them ahead any more is that I want to put the decision-making in YOUR hands, not mine. They have NOT at this point returned to report anything; rather, they are scouting alone. EVERYONE else is still up above. If you want them to return and report now, then that works. I also chose to NOT have them explore the area to the north.]

    Oh, just remembered that Noot was at the mines by the Temple of the Elder Elemental God, so he recognizes the stench. "Trogs," he says, wrinkling his nose and pointing north [towards area 1].

    Emyn says, "There must be something more dangerous than trogs down there. I doubt the gorgimera would fear such a trivial enemy."

    "Oh, there be worse things than trogs crawling around down here, surely," Thorgrim responds. And Trogs are not always trivial: remember the great hordes we slew with the aid of Hepla's fireball and Isilme's anvil...neither of which we have at our disposal this time..."

    "Then let's explore the trog area," says Emyn. "If anything else it may allow us to learn more of the area through diplomacy."

    "Diplomacy with trogs?" says Ervil, shaking his head. "You'd have more luck with the ghouls."

    "Then we use our swords," Miri says as she goes a few steps down.

    Noot looks around for more prints. He also sniffs around for a better sense of which way heads to the trogs while remembering the killer kobalds. Nothing is as easy as it seems, he thinks.

    "The trog smell is definitely coming from the north," says Noot.

    Isilme flies invisibly to the north. There is no way to track anything easily here, as there are too many tracks in the floor to tell anything other than there has been a lot of traffic hereabouts, mostly seeming to be trog tracks. Flying north, the are a couple side tunnels which are very narrow, less than 5' wide. The first, very narrow one, leads up while the second, slightly larger but still narrow, leads down through a vertical chute which looks like it can be climbed easily, and has. The smell this way is pretty bad. The wider cavern leads further north, and she checks that out as well.

    One look around this gruesome cavern and it is clear that this place is either a crypt or some kind of trophy room. The walls of this vaulted chamber are lined with corpses. A whole ledge of barely distinguishable forms creates a higher tier, maybe 5' above the lower floor. A fresher layer of corpses seems to stand upon the heads and shoulders of those below. The bodies are evidently varied, and were once trogs, orcs, goblins, dwarves, gnomes, humans, elves, and many others you can't recognize. The steady drip of water from the ceiling flows over the corpses and has solidified them into a wall, which reveals they have been here for many decades. The water has also created a pool of water in the northeastern portion of the cavern.

    [DM OOC: There are about a half-dozen or more trogs in that clover-shaped trio of caves just above the "1" on the map. Anyway, I didn't want to push Isilme's decision as to try and go in there and charm one when there are a bunch together. She probably can't do it secretly; the others would probably detect her spell-casting. I think she is looking for a lone trog.]

    Isilme goes further, thinking this is probably the chamber of a trog shaman or chief, and she flies up over the ledge. The larger passage heads north and turns left, while the smaller one seems to open into another chamber. She goes inside and finds some sort of sleeping chamber with a large assortment of junk piled up, including thousands of coins of all types, gems, jewelry, and a sword and spear sticking into the pile. [Think standard pile of treasure!]

    [Manny OOC: From the chamber marked "1". That wall with no breaks makes it unlikely any trogs are up there. I'd rather ask a trog what is behind the wall rather than find out the hard way.]

    [DM OOC: It's just a 5' high wall, which is actually kind of a natural elevation change in the cave to a higher level. The northern half is all 5' higher than the southern half. The chamber is about 20' high at its peak. Somebody or something stuck a bunch of bones/skeletons into the side, turning it into a bone wall. Isilme already flew over this northern section and into the chamber to the NE, where she found the pile of assorted treasure. It looks like just a bunch of stuff was tossed into a big pile.]

    For now she leaves that and moves back around, following the other tunnel. Strange lichens on the wall caste a bluish shade throughout the area, like a very faint faerie fire. It's actually enough to see by, though it doesn't hamper her infravision either. She follows the tunnel around until it reaches another chamber. There is a tunnel leading south, which goes eventually back to the entrance, though she notes more side tunnels off that one. A tunnel to the west goes about 50' before branching again, and there's another tunnel to the north, which is blocked by a very large boulder and rubble pile.

    [Berenn OOC: At least that's one direction she can't go!]

    [Isilme OOC: Not really!]

    At this time, Manny hears the sounds of distant footfalls from the north, coming closer. He attempts to pin down where they are coming from when he spies movement from the narrow tunnel to the right. (It's the one with the chute going down which is more just an easily climbed chimney). He sees trogs, and they see him!

    He speaks into the farspeaker, "Been spotted, moving south to distract them." Tell Noot as I go by, "Hide! Strike from behind."

    Manny starts south, while Noot hides in the shadows. Isilme, had just arrived at the crossroads to the north (E) when she hears the call on the farspeaker. So does everyone else, up the stairs back towards the Lesser Caverns. They are about 100' up the stairs, in no particular order. There's no light, except the soft glow of Snowfang so he and Miri can see. None of them are shown on the map, since they are up the stairs.

    "The Dwarves and I will be following, in Silence," Thorgrim says into the Farspeaker.

    Thorgrim takes a stone from the handful in his pocket and prepares to enspell it. To Delaim, he says, "This is a Silence spell. No speech will be possible for fifteen feet around me as long as I carry this stone, and we'll hear no shouts or calls from beyond its range."

    "Best if they don't hear our whole contingent tramping down the stairs."

    Delaim nods, and Thorgrim casts Silence. Ahead of them Gotrek and Emyn move down the stairs to "finally kill something!" Miri stays with Elrae and Sir Godwyn, since the three of them can't see without light, and Sir Godwynn doesn't turn on his continual light shield until told. :)

    Meanwhile, Isilme heard the last comment by Manny, so she starts to make her way back to the entrance. Coming down the southern passage, she notes a large chamber to the west (area 5 on the map). This large cavern is terraced, and the floors are moist and slick. The floor rises and drops in a manner that makes it impossible to move across the place without using great care. The walls are striated with bands of color, and a vast number of stalactites hang on the curved ceiling. Inside she sees two Umber Hulks moving in her direction. It's likely they heard or sensed the commotion at the entrance....

    Back by the entrance, Manny slips away to the south, while the trogs let out a strange hissing howl and charge towards him. Noot slips back and hides against the wall as the trogs rush passed him. Two go south following Manny while one goes west, trying to surround him. Manny reaches another intersection, turning north in an attempt to come around behind the trogs that he lured south, but he almost runs into the one that went west to cut him off. It throws a javelin at him, but he dodges it. The other two rush up behind him, and they too throw javelins, but they miss, slamming hard into the far wall and sticking there, testament to the great strength of these trogs.

    zoomed in southern view. Manny has reached another crossroads, but he finds one trog in front of him and two have reached him from behind. Noot is hiding along the wall as Gotrek and Emyn reach the bottom of the stairs. NOBODY else is down there. Thorgrim is coming down next with Delaim and a dozen dwarves, the rest are watching above. Beyond them are the rest of the humans who all need light, and are using the soft bluish glow of Elrae's blade, Snowfang, in order to see their way down the slippery stairs. Beyond them is Berenn, taking up the rear. None of them are pictured, because they are all too far back up the stairs and off them map. The progress map is updated, so you can see where Isilme is. I stopped her when she noticed the chamber with the umber hulks. Noot hears trogs speaking in their strange language in the chamber to the north, but he's hiding around the corner so he can't see in there.

    Gotrek can see the trogs to the southwest, so he will charge them. Emyn can only see 30' with Noot's ring, so he can't see any (each big square is 10'). He can peek around the corner to the north and see what's up there, and if he sees more trogs he can block that opening. Noot will now slip off to the west and attempt to backstab the trog that went that way.

    Manny rushes the trog, tumbles passed him, and sprints back to the party. He sees Emyn and Gotrek at the foot of the stairs, goes by them pointing behind him, and stops on the stairs when he sees Thorgrim and the dwarves coming down.

    Gotrek charges southwest, attacking the two that he can see. He hits one, killing it. Smelly trog musk sprays the area, covering Gotrek, who doesn't even notice! The other trog turns and attacks him, clawing and biting ineffectively. [It needs a 20!]

    Emyn moves out and peeks around the corner where he sees a dozen or so trogs. "Trouble right!" he says, then takes up his stance to block the passage.

    The trogs growl at him and throw spears, hitting him with 3 [18 total]. Two of these massive barbed weapons stick into Emyn armor at the knee and hip, each causing him discomfort and curtailing his agility. He shrugs them off and holds his ground.

    The last trog follows after Manny, but it gets backstabbed by Noot as it passes him. Noot kills him easily!

    Thorgrim, Delaim, and the dwarves then come down the stairs, followed by the rest.

    The umber hulks follow slowly, attracted likely by the noise. She spots a few more tunnels on her way. Also, Thorgrim's holding his silence stone, so now there's no sound within 15' of him, which is pretty much everyone at the foot of the stairs.

    The trogs move forward and attack Emyn. Two throw their remaining javelins, all missing. The remaining charge him, attempting to claw and bite him, but they fail to score a hit. Emyn's defense is simply too good! One tries to get by him, but he slays it with an AoO. Gotrek finishes his while Thorgrim and the Azcral dwarves rush forward. Delaim sends them to watch the various passages, while four join Emyn, two taking out a trog and pushing into the chamber. Isilme notes that one stays back and seems to be the leader, so she flies silently behind him, preparing a charm (for next round).

    Emyn continues in defensive stance but ceases parrying so that he can take the offensive a bit. "Come my friends!" he exclaims. "Take courage for the enemy is outmatched!"

    The Azcral dwarves rush north against the trogs, and quickly make short work against the last three. The leader turns to flee but is instantly charmed by Isilme, who's sweet voice the rest of you hear as she sings her siren's song to it. "This one is mine," she says, as Miri rushes in and is about to hack it down.

    Noot and Manny move up the left while Gotrek and some Azcral dwarves move to the right. They meet at the intersection, not seeing any sign of umber hulks. Manny and Noot notice further tunnels to the left.

    Meanwhile, back at the scene of the fight, Isilme has charmed the trog, but it is very difficult for her to control it, especially with the numbers of obvious enemies around it. It also cannot speak your language. Isilme casts "tounges", and calms the Trog down, explaining to her dear friend that her slaves will do friend of hers harm. She the proceeds to ask about the local area so she can avoid further misunderstandings.

    Isilme casts the spell, but even so the trog flees back down the tunnel. Isilme follows and at the chute convinces it to stop. She is now away from the rest of the party, at the point where the tunnels starts down a vertical chimney. A few dwarves take up defensive positions, while Emyn, Miri, Sir Godwynn, and Elrae move to the left, up behind Gotrek and the others. Berenn reaches the entry chamber (1) where he stops to talk to Thorgrim and Delaim, who are discussing the next move.

    Meanwhile, Isilme calms the trog down, now that they are away from the others. It is intent on heading down below to warn the rest of its tribe about these intruders. Despite it's "friendly" attitude towards Isilme, it is NOT friendly in even the slightest way with everyone one else, and there doesn't seem to be any way she can convince it otherwise.

    [DM OOC: Now, this is one of the tricky things with Charm Person. It's a "trusted friend" of Isilme, sure (who is invisible too, btw, for what that's worth). That doesn't mean automaton, as we've discussed many times, so it is going to go and warn the rest of the tribe about this powerful group that just came in and wiped out a dozen of its other friends. The way CP works, it really requires more role-playing to do correctly, and we simply can't do that right now. So I'm not going to try, and I'm not going to waste what time we do have arguing about it either, which usually happens. So, it's NOT going to listen to anything Isilme's disembodied voice tells it as far as NOT leaving; however, it will answer Isilme's questions if she goes with it. ]

    Thorgrim speaks into his Farspeaker box: "Isilme, see what you can find out from that Trog, but slay it if you must."

    "Emyn, Gotrek, see what trouble you can find, and keep us apprised. We're standing fast and awaiting Isilme's return. Or the alarm."

    He lets the box hang by its strap. "Delaim, we may need to bring up some of your reserves, soon. Berenn, you staying here with us? The others could likely use a healer. And a leader."

    "What ails our party is beyond my abilities to heal," Berenn mumbles. "But I suppose someone has to make sure they don't get themselves killed." Berenn rejoins the main party.

    [DM OOC: The trogs in the clover area were just a scouting/guard party. The rest of the tribe lives below, down that "chute" in lower tunnels. The party is a bit split up right now, but it seems the umber hulks are not coming this way. They were in the area labeled "5" on the map. Isilme can talk to the trog and get whatever info she wishes, pretty much. We don't really have time for role-playing right now, and really, who wants to do that with a trog? So, if you guys give me a list of the "basic" info you want, then I'll just answer it.]

    The umber hulks did not appear. Gotrek is leading the group that moved nw to fight them. Isilme is now back, having learned all she can from the trog before silencing it. She reported everything to Thorgrim and Berenn. Everyone else is about halfway up the passage towards where the umber hulks supposedly were. When she mentioned the "grey man" Thorgrim wanted to go deal with him first. The party can now decide on a course of action.

    Here's a recap of the info the trog provided:
    There is the Grey Man on this "level" and I use that term for you guys; the trogs don't think that way. Anyway, it is a very strong humanoid that kills whatever it finds. The trogs place sacrifices to it in the chamber to the north, the one with the bone wall and the pool on the upper level. These sacrifices are fellow trogs, which they do once in a while to keep the thing from messing with them.

    To the west somewhere is the Eye Tyrant. There are also the great doors, but the trogs never opened them. South are very big bad things, including a dragon and a rock man.

    In the level "below" is the trog caverns. They are pretty large, and the trog tribe is pretty big, but this trog doesn't have enough a concept of numbers to explain. Just lots!

    There are also some other cavern areas which are further away, including a massive underground chamber which has many bad things. Trogs totally stay away from it!

    Finally, Isilme reported having seen umber hulks in area 5.

    "I am more curious about this "grey man" and not really too enthusiastic about going another round with the eye tyrant," says Berenn sourly.

    "I think we all agreed the grey man was the next step," says Isilme. "So let's move it along!"

    Miri says, "excuse me, just what do we know of this gray man except that he kills? How big is he? Does he use magic? Is he even a human? Is he strong or fast or what? Sorry to bother you with these questions, I will fight whatever but it would help me if I knew something more about him."

    "It can only be evil living here and it accepts blood sacrificies to build a wall of death," says Emyn. "Sounds like it needs killing to me. "

    "Good enough for me," says Gotrek, anxious for a fight.

    "I agree with Emyn," Thorgrim states. "We'll find what power this creature has when we fight it. These Umber Hulks concern me, though, roaming about as they are. As long as we take these foes one at a time, we should be in good shape."

    The party pulls back to the larger cavern, a handful of dwarves watching each passage. After discussing things, Emyn takes the dead trog and begins to move towards the cavern of the grey man. One of the Azcral dwarves which was guarding that tunnel turns, then stops, looking around.

    "Where is Jorduk?" he says. "He was right here!"

    New map with everyone moved back to the entry cavern. The dwarf, Jorduk, was watching the tunnel to the top-right, leading towards the grey man chamber. He is simply gone.
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    Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:14 am  
    Part 35 - The Grey man

    "Something is wrong," says Miri. "The grey man must have taken him!" She draws her blade and charges up the corridor. It is dimly lit by strange, iridescent fungi, as is much of the place, so you can kind of see. She runs up the corridor before anyone can stop her....

    "Miri!” yells Thorgrim. “Someone get her," he says. "The rest of you, gather for a spell of Protection." Thorgrim waits until he sees a PC follow Miri, then casts Godly Protection.

    Nobody catches her, and she runs ahead.

    "Clangeddin!" roars Gotrek, waving his axe as he charges after Miri. Emyn follows with a rue smile.

    Emyn follows just in time to see a large greyish figure climbing atop the upper level of the chamber. It has just scrambled up the wall, and in its wake you see the dwarf, Jorduk's, dead body, pressed into the wall. His face is contorted in terror.

    Miri stabs out with her sword, having just caught the grey man from behind, and skewers him through the leg. With a hellish curse, it whips its head around and stares at Miri, locking gazes with her. She freezes as it then rips its leg free and and stands up atop the upper level, Miri's sword still in its leg. As Gotrek rushes forward, Miri falls backwards into him, and he almost falls over as he catches her. The grey man turns and runs away into the darkness, and as Emyn reaches Gotrek, the dour dwarf just looks up at him.

    "She's dead Jim," he says, and one look at the tortured expression on her face reveals the awful truth to Emyn as well.

    [Berenn OOC: Well…I guess this grey man is apparently more dangerous than I thought!]

    "This foul beast will not get away with this,” says Emyn. “I swear it by Trithereon. But prudence suggests we find a way to protect ourselves from that deadly gaze. We must consult with the others. "

    The others move into the chamber as Gotrek lays Miri's corpse down upon the cold earth. He covers her with her cloak, and recites a prayer in dwarven. Thorgrim hears the end, and bows his head, joining Gotrek.

    The night is black, the sky is blotted out, we have left the holds of our fathers,
    And Miri has returned to the Maker.

    Gotrek looks up, meeting Thorgrim's somber gaze. A solitary tear runs down Gotrek's cheek, but he ignores it as he stands, gripping Goreblade tightly. Thorgrim has seen this look before. It is death.

    Emyn stands next to Miri and says, "Rest now warrior. We will take up your fight. We didn't know you long but you came a strager and left a friend. "

    He places a single chaste kiss on her brow.

    Thorgrim removes his Potion of Mirrored Eyes from his belt pouch and looks at it ruefully. "I believe our only protection from gaze attacks lies in this bottle. Damn Lyseios for being so slow! Between the Umber Hulks, Beholders, and Cockatrices, we could've used one hundred of these already!"

    "But we have only one. And it is yours, friend." Thorgrim hands the potion over to Gotrek.

    "Wait for us to cover your attack, and provide backup as needed. Isilme, your Invisibility may come in handy this battle. Emyn, help me with Miri. Be careful and don't break the statues. This Hole is crowded already."

    Thorgrim takes out his portable hole, and he carefully places Miri’s body within, for return to her family.

    Gotrek takes the potion, nodding to Thorgrim. He drinks the potion, and his eyes gradually start to change, turning into opaque silver orbs with no pupils.

    "Can you still see?" asks Thorgrim.

    "Aye, good as ever." Gotrek turns and starts to climb the bone wall. He turns, holding Goreblade out before him, as if speaking to it. "Come, swift vengeance awaits." He then disappears down the new tunnel where the grey man fled.

    "Anyone who follows should be likewise protected," says Isilme, somewhere above the party. "I will follow behind Gotrek, keeping a careful eye on him." If they could see her, they'd have noticed the slight smile as she recognized the irony of her words.

    "I don't like this," says Delaim. "My men cover all the tunnels, but we are spread too thin. There are just too many passages to secure."

    "Agreed," Thorgrim replies. "Bring up your troops guarding the top of the stair, and recall the ones down here in these caverns to create a more concentrated defensive position here in this chamber. Those of my Adventuring Party who stay behind can assist with any trouble."

    "The problem is we didn't clear the level above, if it even can be cleared," says Delaim, getting ready to call in the rest of the Azcral. "We have no defensive perimeter at all. We are strung out over this system of caverns, where anything can happen and nobody is safe. Proceeding like this is folly."

    "Then bring your troops together here,” interjects Emyn. “If it comes to it, we can fight our way back out if required."

    “But leave those at the entrance,” says Thorgrim. “They can keep watch outside and warn us if anyone appears.”

    Delaim uses the Farspeaker to call in the dwarves. "It will take them some time to get here," he says. "Let us hope we have fewer problems getting out."

    The rest are waiting in the chamber with the bone wall. Delaim and a couple dwarves pull the body of their companion from the wall. "He deserves a better burial," says one of the dwarves.

    Delaim nods as they take the body out and lay it on the ground. "He returns to the Maker," he says, "to the halls of Moradin." Some other dwarves appear, and they bow their heads solemnly.

    Thorgrim bows his head and says a hasty prayer, invoking Dwarven Gods in quick succession. He scans the chamber, looking at everyone.

    "We can bury him here, if you like," Thorgrim says to Delaim. "You will find my pick works as well after a battle as during one." He gazes around the cavern. "We could also make a cairn of stone...or bone." His eyes narrow in distaste at the thought.

    "Alternately, we could hold his body in my Portable Hole until our Expedition is over, along with our companion and the Velunese statues."

    "But I will say to you now, I prefer to bury his body here in the mountain. If we proceed as we have, I could empty that Hole of all I possess and it would still be overflowing with corpses before our Adventure is through. Well, three-quarters, at least..."

    Once the Dwarven ceremony is done, Emyn will examine the wall to see if there are valuables in it. If none, he will look to start disassembling it. It's not really a wall, per se. It's more like a retaining wall with the upper level of the cavern beyond it. The skeletons, hundreds of them, have been pressed into the earth here, making it look like a wall of bones. There's nothing to dismantle.

    Meanwhile, Noot checks out the alcove to the NE. The alcove contains a large pile of stuff, including thousands of coins, with gems and other stuff mixed in. It'll take a bit to go through it all, as it's all scattered. In the end, you will find the following:

    [DM OOC: 187 cp, 3,440 sp, 4,196 gp, 289 pp, 20 gems of 50 gp value, 14 gems of 100 gp value, 3 potions, 3 scrolls, a ring, bracers, a magic candle, short sword, spear, and a suit of magical scale mail. Yes, all are magical, as determined by Elrae. I'll add this to the treasure list. It'll take you a good hour to collect all this stuff.]

    Back on the trail of the Grey Man, Gotrek continues to follow the tracks, obvious now that he knows what to look for. Plus, there are wet drops of blood on the ground. He reaches the intersection "e" when he finds Miri's sword lying on the floor. The bloodtrail leads to the west. As he begins to follow, Isilme catches up. "Ware," she whispers. "I saw umber hulks in this direction." [Actually at the chamber marked "5"]. Gotrek just grunts as he continues....

    Gotrek follows the tracks until he reaches another intersection. They continue to the NW; however, to the south he sees an umber hulk moving his way. It spots him and begins a lumbering charge towards him. Isilme is about 30' behind Gotrek, and doesn't see the umber hulk yet. Of course, Gotrek tells her there's something there by growling!

    Gotrek charges the umber hulk, his desire for vengeance given outlet by the appearance of the deadly, armored foe. He dodges an outstretched claw, large enough to rip a dwarf right in half, and swings Goreblade. To his dismay, it simply bounces off the beast's chitinous shell. [That's round 1. Isilme moves up to the intersection where she can see Gotrek and umber hulk. She watches, in case the dwarf needs assistance, but keeps a close eye on the passage to the nw [where the tracks went].

    As she watches, she sees another umber hulk emerge from the side and attack Gotrek in the rear, its claws just missing the angry dwarf. He glances back at the other just in time to avoid the blow, then curses at the things as he begins the strange, wild attack form of the battlerager.

    Next round Isilme casts Hold Monster, freezing the UH behind Gotrek, who rolls beneath the other, coming up swinging with Goreblade and hitting it twice for 18+22 damage. The UH hits gotrek with a claw [10].

    Isilme casts "Audible Glamour" of armored dwarves rushing up directly behind the umber hulk calling out "Whur A Faeyn!", and Gotrek smiles as the dwarves approach. He thinks it is Thorgrim, and he presses his attack, hitting the umber hulk again [22]. The umber hulk cries and smashes the ceiling with both hands, attempting to cause a cave in. Large bits of the ceiling begin to fall....

    Gotrek rolls out of the way, and just in time. The ceiling above the umber hulk collapses, burying it under a pile of rock. The collapse creates a chain reaction, bringing down more and more of the cave, spreading out around Gotrek. He gets partly buried by falling rock [15 damage], and a huge pile of dust is kicked up blocking all vision.
    For gaming purposes, every large square with rubble is impassable now. The few that have small rubble in the center are significantly weakened and can collapse at any moment.

    The rest of the party clearly hears the sound of the cave-in, which is immensely loud. It also sends a cloud of dust in every direction, down every tunnel, for a good 50-100'.

    "Gotrek,” yells Isilme through the dust. “Lead the way to the grey man or back to the party. Up to you. I will provide support."

    Thorgrim speaks into his Farspeaker. "Isilme, Gotrek, report. Delaim, get your men in defensive position. That sound will bring the curious. Emyn, pack up that Hole NOW." He turns to Elrae. "Elrae, be prepared to Grease this chute. Though the Trogs doubtless have many other points of egress."

    Thorgrim remains watching the Trog-chute, thinking of what spell to cast. He thinks of Lightning Strike and his other new spells, but hopes some Grease might buy us time.

    Gotrek shakes off the dust and tries to follow the trail of the grey man, but he no longer can follow any tracks. He and Isilme run into Berenn as they continue, who heals Gotrek with a spell, before returning to the rest if the party.

    Isilme casts Animal Sense, taking the smell of a bloodhound to try and track the Grey Man. She is absolutely revolted by the smell. It just about overpowers her, and she recognizes that this is no earthly foe they are dealing with. She has smelled such foulness before, when she was covered in demonic ichor. The grey man is some sort of demon!

    She steels herself, then turns to Gotrek. "Let's go! You didn't drink that potion for nothin!"

    They circle around the collapsed area, Isilme leading the way invisibile again. They do not find the Grey Man, though they do find a hole which goes down, newly tunneled. It looks like this is where the umber hulks came from. [It's marked "Hole down" on the map.]

    Isilme moves with him to that spot, and does NOT sense the smell of the Grey Man down there, she does smell him. She uses her heightened sense to follow the trail of the "grey man" to a particular point on the wall.

    “There must be a secret door here,” she says, then uses the passwall wand. It creates an opening which, although it doesn't reveal a secret area, it does temporarily make the wall disappear. When that happens, the grey man is revealed, having been standing there immobile, camouflaged perfectly against the rock.

    It is humanoid in appearance, with gray, pearly skin and a hairless, muscular body of no apparent gender. Its eyes are empty and milky-white, deeply set into a long, distorted face.

    It stares into Gotrek's eyes, but the dwarf just laughs, readying Goreblade.

    Gotrek his the thing, driving it back into the hole created by Isilme’s wand. It tries to flee, but has nowhere to go. Gotrek continues his assault, hitting it over and over without taking a blow in return. Isilme backs off, keeping others away. Gotrek easily finishes off the thing, which simply cannot stand toe to toe against angry dwarf.

    "And that’s fer me friend,” he says, standing there watching as the demonic form begins to rot away into nothingness.
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    Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:25 am  
    Part 36 – Beetles, Trolls, and Bats: Oh My!

    The party meets back up at the foot of the stairs, where you can plan your next move. You have 19 dwarves with you now.

    "Let's look to the southwest a bit,” says Emyn. “We may find signs of the expedition. "

    Isilme’s voice of warning leads the way. "Be wary; there is one more umber hulk around."

    "Gotrek,” says Thorgrim. “I want you on point, with your temporary immunity to gaze attacks."

    Noot looks for tracks and other signs of the previous party. He finds none. There have been tracks since the river, so it is clear that they all went down over the waterfall.

    As you are about to head south, there is a call on the Farspeaker. The dwarves guarding the entrance to the upper caverns are under attack by some big bugs. "Nuthin' we can't handle," says their leader, a young dwarf named Kilring.

    Emyn responds back and says, "We can assist you if needed. Just let us know."

    We got this," he says. [DM OOC: There are now 10 dwarves watching that area and 10 at the entrance above ground. You have 19 with you.]

    "We are pressing on then. Trithereon be with you."

    You continue down the tunnel until it splits again. Both passages seem to open up into larger chambers to the west and south. Taking the south passage, the tunnel does open up into another chamber, roughly square about about 30' on a side. There are 4 passages out from this chamber, going west, south, and east. The east one angles down sharply.

    Berenn puts on his Cloak of Elvenkind, rolling his Cloak of Protection up and putting it in his backpack. He's bringing up the rear, so now he can slowly do so while virtually invisible

    “Isilme,” says Emyn, knowing she is around. “Fly down the steep way and scout. I don't want it turning into a slip and slide. In the meantime we will head westward.”

    She goes down this way, which twists and turns a lot, including some areas which would be tough climbs. After a few minutes of this, she returns. “It's not an easy way to go,” she says.

    “Let's stick with westward then,” replies Emyn, “and worry about that particular path later.”

    When Isilme returns you get another call on the farspeaker. "Trolls!" The call came from the dwarves at the entrance to the upper caves! It will take some time to get there, as you have to go all the way back up and cross the river again.

    "To our allies aid at the entrance! Trolls are about,” says Thorgrim. "We're on our way!” he says into the farspeaker. “Use fire if you have it."

    Gotrek moves with the party but mutters to himself, "The dwarves say they can handle it themselves, what are we doing not believing them."

    “They said they could handle beetles,” replies Noot. “Trolls are another thing!”

    Two of the dwarves hit a troll with oil flasks, while another lights it with a torch. The troll screams in agony, spinning around wildly and attempting to put out the flames. The other troll claws a couple dwarves, which continue to battle it, hitting it a number of times with axes. Isilme flies down and checks one of the downed dwarves. He's still alive, and she quietly drags him back out of the way and binds his wounds. The two others nearest her are clearly dead. She can't tell about the one by the stairs.

    Isilme flies on ahead. She passes Delaim and a handful of dwarves heading up the stairs to the upper caverns. The others remain behind to guard this spot, while these are going back to help their kin. Isilme reaches the river about the same time the party is heading up the stairs.

    She continues on to the entry cavern which she reaches about the same time the party gets all the way up the stairs, back at the gorghimera lair. In the troll fight, four dwarves are down, and the rest are battling two large trolls. The carcasses of two giant beetles are also visible. They seem dead.

    Two of the dwarves hit a troll with oil flasks, while another lights it with a torch. The troll screams in agony, spinning around wildly and attempting to put out the flames. The other troll claws a couple dwarves, which continue to battle it, hitting it a number of times with axes. Isilme flies down and checks one of the downed dwarves. He's still alive, and she quietly drags him back out of the way and binds his wounds. The two others nearest her are clearly dead. She can't tell about the one by the stairs.

    The other dwarves are crossing the rope, when the party arrives. Elrae uses Snowfang to make an ice bridge, and everyone crosses over. Thorgrim casts a Stone Shape too, to make an opening in the wall for more easy crossing. No sense trying to mess with the ledge and rope system.

    Meanwhile, Isilme casts Fireflow, tracing a line of fire to the other troll, whose dry skin ignites like kindling. Now both howl in pain, while the dwarves continue their attacks. Another dwarf is laid low by a combination of claw attacks.

    Isilme keeps the flames on the troll, which swings wildly, unable to connect on the tough dwarves, while the dwarves continue to attack the trolls. Both are hit a couple more times by the dwarves, leaving gaping wounds which Isilme promptly burns using fireflow. The trolls are maddened by the situation and turn to flee. The dwarves cut down one, though the other one escapes down the long tunnel to the bottom right. By the time Isilme gets down there and looks down the passage, the troll is disappearing out of sight, around a bend far down the tunnel.

    Delaim and the other dwarves show up, along with a half dozen from the upper level of the caves, the dungeon level. The rest of the party is right behind Delaim, and they will all be there within a round or two. A trio of dwarves has started to follow the troll when Delaim shouts for them to wait. They stop and await his orders, but they don't seem happy. Delaim then sets others to checking on their fallen kin, as well as seeing that the one burning troll is truly dead, before he approaches the three at the tunnel (and Isilme, though nobody knows she's even there!). The rest of the party now starts to arrive.

    Gotrek is muttering, "A party of dwarves, specially a war party with Isilme's help, hardly need more help."

    "Well fought!” says Emyn, “but maybe all of our group should travel together now. "

    "Aye,” replies Thorgrim, surveying the scene. “These caverns be too vast to clear in one go. Together is safer, and we'll meet our fate as a group." Thorgrim tends to the wounded. He seems quiet and glum.

    Isilme will not run off chasing the troll, she will stay with the group. "As my good Thorgrim says, we should all stick together," she whispers from above as she rejoins the group.

    [Isilme OOC: these dwarves once again proving to be more a hinderance than a help, one step forward, two steps back.]

    [Emyn OOC: don't worry. the reddwarves will get killed off soon enough. We will then have to explain to the dwarf king how we killed all his kin and fight our way out of the mountains.]

    [DM OOC: How do you figure that? That's the third time they successfully guarded your rear and flank. And isn't that the point of such forces, to be scouts/pickets and then hold their own until reinforcements arrive? Seems to me they are doing their job quite well. In fact, I think they have lost 8 killed of 50, just over 15%. You guys have lost 1 of 10. That's about the same ratio. It may be that they will have to explain YOUR deaths!]

    Gotrek compliments the dwarves on their handling of the situation.

    "Yes, we are truly blessed to have such stout and worthy allies,” says Emyn. “Let us all then make way below to the depths and complete our mission." Emyn leads the party back down to where we left off in the greater caverns.

    Delaim wonders aloud if it would not be prudent to clear some of the nearby areas. "We would not want more surprises," he says, "and we do not know if those trolls were alone."

    "Why don't we just wall things off instead?" asks Emyn.

    "If we wall off the side corridors, it leads anything following straight to us,” says Manny. “If we wall off the way we are going, if we run from anything, we have to get past our own wall. Do we have any long-lasting illusion ability? We could fake a wall."

    "I for one," says Delaim with a nod to the other Azcral, anxious to avenge their fallen comrades, "would see that troll dead. We leave too many enemies behind us."

    "Aye," say a couple others, those who were prepared to run down the tunnel. "Only good troll is a dead troll."

    "Fine by me,” says Gotrek.

    "EVERYTHING here is an enemy,” says Manny. “And delay is the greatest one. The Old One sends his best people and troops to secure what is here. We are here to remove or destroy it before he can do so. Clearing these caverns will take time and every extra minute spent hunting down one means the Old Ones minions get closer. This is a race for us. For them, they merely have to block off our way out and slowly push in. If we remove something and die or get defeated on the way out is still a win for the Old One. We must hurry and both find what is here and find a way out."

    “I agree,” says Emyn. “That troll won't be coming back soon given the treatment you gave him. And if it does, we'll, it isn't that hard to handle.”

    “Probably better off not hunting down every stray monster we find in this place,” adds Berenn. “We could all be old and grey by the time we have killed everything in here.”

    Isilme sighs. "Should I just ring the dinner bell? It would probably attract less attention."

    Thorgrim prays for guidance. After a few minutes, he speaks. "I am inclined to agree with you, yet somehow I feel Clanggedin has returned us to this point for a purpose. Perhaps we missed something important in our haste. Let's finish exploring this level, wreak vengeance on any trolls we encounter, and see what else we find."

    As you are discussing things, there is a massively loud sound of fluttering wings which echoes down the tunnel towards you, from the way the troll went. Underground folks recognize it as the sound of millions of bats taking sudden flight!

    "Troll musta spooked 'em," says one of the dwarves.

    "Lots a bats means lots a crap," says another, wrinkling its nose.

    The ones at the tunnel entrance look back. They don't have the same anxious look anymore....
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    Mon May 28, 2018 6:50 am  
    Part 37 – Exploring the caverns

    The bats never end up coming towards the party, so there must be another exit somewhere else.

    “Ah this reminds me of a song for my next musical,” says Elrae. “It's a duet and a work in progress."

    Those vampire bats will give you a fright,
    Eating people both day and night.
    They rest for a minute, maybe three,
    Then they're eatin' every person that you see.
    They don't care about nada, not zilch, no, nothin'.
    'Cept bringin' about our party's destruction.

    Now wait just a minute, there's another side to this,
    And if I did not defend them, then I would be remiss.
    These bats are mamas and papas too.
    They care for their young just like we faeries do.

    Oh, give me a break, you're bein' too kind.
    These creatures have a one-track mind.
    The party is not their restaurant.
    But do they ever think what others may want?
    No! They don't! And that is just a fact.
    These bats, they simply don't know how to act.

    That's where I have to disagree.
    They're loyal to their family.
    Spreading seeds both far and wide.

    You see one comin', you'd better run and hide!
    They're big and ugly and mean as sin.
    Will ya look at the state my trees are in?

    They help your trees.
    They'll grow stronger faster.

    They've turned my life to a total disaster!
    Well, I for one don't have a doubt.
    These vermin must be stamped right out.

    (Human cleric)
    I second that, they've got to go.
    These bats, they've got to hit the road.

    It comes down to just one simple fact
    They've crossed the line.
    It's time to fight them back!

    Stop the bats! Stop the bats!
    Make them go and not come back!
    Stop the bats! Stop the bats!
    Make them go and not come back!
    Stop the bats! Stop the bats!
    Make them go and not come back!

    Yes, it comes down to just one simple fact.
    They've crossed the line.
    It's time that we attack!

    "If this is going to be a duet Bard, it actually has the potential to be half good,” replies Berenn with a sly look. He then laughs. “The half you aren't singing!"

    [Berenn OOC: Been a while since I have had the opportunity to take a shot at Elrae.]

    “Those bats probably have a home cavern around here,” says Noot. “Also, bats fly out nightly to forage and then return slowly in the morning. I suspect we are at sundown outside.”

    Emyn says, "We have a choice. Follow the Velunese through that den of aquatic ghouls or find a way deeper into the mountain and get those magical items so the Iuzians don't. I think the second option is the wiser one since we will lose too many in that lake. "

    Ervil looks hopeful for a moment when Emyn mentions finding his companions. However, he quickly lowers his head sadly as Emyn then discounts the idea out of hand.

    "Never fear," says Delaim, putting a hand on the slouching gnome's shoulders. "We SHALL find your friends. Likely, there is another way there. Besides, there is no easy way down the cascade, nor returning. They certainly did not."

    "Which is the argument for finding another way down,” says Manny. “Fact is Iggwilv would be more in the dark so her best stuff would be in the roots of the mountain. And down is where the others went, so down is where both paths lie. Hopefully we cross paths before we have to deal with Iggwilv's defences."

    “Then let's continue searching the greater caverns where we left off,” says Emyn.

    With dwarven reinforcements having come down here, Delaim proposes doubling the guard here at the entry to the lesser caverns, where the trolls attacked. Three died fighting trolls, but five from entrance came down to help. They will join the seven remaining at the lesser cavern entrance. This leaves five at the outside entrance, twelve at the entrance to the Lesser Caverns, and nineteen with the party. Five can guard the bottom of the stairs there, leaving fourteen and Delaim to go with the party. That should give them better defenses above where the troll danger was, and more punch with the party.

    "What do you think," he asks?

    “It is fine with me,” answers Emyn, “but do we have enough farspeakers?”

    “I have eight,” says Isilme. She leaves one with the entry guards, one with the lesser cavern guards, and one with the greater cavern guards. “That leaves five for us. We just need to decide who carries them.”

    Gotrek says, "I'll take one of them magic speaking boxe since sometimes I head out in me own direction."

    One of the Azcral, a particularly fierce and headstrong one who clearly looks up to Gotrek sets up. "I am Belak, and I will carry your talking box. You will need both hands, and will have no time for talking. Where you go, I shall follow."

    “Goood dwarf,” says Gotrek, “but be careful, that box is full of magic." If he still wants it Gotrek hands him the farespeaker box and shows him how it is used.

    “I will keep one,” says Isilme. She then gives one to Berenn who has been watching the rear. She gives another to Manny, who also acts as a scout. She hands another to Noot, who will hand out in the middle with Elrae and Sir Godwyn. “That takes care of all of them,” she says. “Now, which way? Back to the south, but that seems to just getting more complicated.”

    “Then we go west,” says Thorgrim.

    You move along the western tunnel, which bends down and left. After a few hundred feet it opens into another chamber, about 30x20 with more exits. To the right one goes back north, sloping up and opening up into another chamber just on the edge of your vision. Straight ahead one goes west, again opening up into another chamber. The one head and to the left heads southwest, and then turns west out of sight. Finally, to your hard left another passage slopes up sharply, almost requiring climbing, and goes east, then turns south quickly.

    The party choose scouts, and they head out, checking the four exits from this chamber. Manny discovers another square chamber to the west, with three more exits. Isilme flies along the south passage, eventually coming out in the chamber that Manny scouted. Noot finds another junction to the north, from which four more tunnels lead west, north, and east. Finally, Ervil climbs the eastern tunnel, which bends back and forth and eventually opens into a large chamber. He hustles back, QUIETLY. When he gets back, he is breathless for a moment.

    "What is wrong?" asks Delaim.

    "A black dragon," he says quickly, glancing back that way. It is curled up as if sleeping, and I dared not go any further.


    Gotrek says,"Hepla made friends with black dragons, I even road one into battle but most are evil. Let us finish this evil beast."

    "I thought they liked swamps,” says Emyn. “Seems like a strange place for it. Whatever the case, given how Caustichlorinus almost destroyed us in the wilderness, this beast would be especially dangerous in its lair. I suggest we let it be unless there is no other option."

    “Better to avoid dragons,” replies Noot, obviously not enthusiastic. “Been there -- done that -- don't want to do it again.”

    The party moves to the large, square-like chamber. It is mostly empty, though there is more water here. The chamber is damp, and lichens on the walls cast an eerie glow, almost like faerie fire, in the chamber. It doesn't inhibit infravision and only allows vision along the walls (i.e. within a few feet of them).

    As Noot moves along the passage to the party, he spots a side passage to his left full of strong-looking spider webs.

    “I think we can pass on the spiders too,” says Berenn.

    “Then let us follow Manny,” says Thorgrim.

    Manny scouts ahead, and finds that the wet, moss-covered passage soon opens into a wondrous cavern. However, beautiful as the cave is with flowstone, draperies, columns, etc., it seems menacing as well, with a half-dozen to a dozen large mushroom-like fungi scattered about. He backs up and reports.

    Isilme flies up and takes a look, being much more of an "expert" on subterranean fungi. She returns and says that they are, indeed, shriekers.

    "Probably something on the other side,” reasons Berenn. “Things usually these 'shrooms as an alarm system. Maybe Isilme should fly ahead and see what is on the other side of the shriekers."

    "Shriekers I can tolerate; it's Piercers I can't stand. Be wary," says Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim casts Silence on a stone, then hands it Gotrek. His nose rings no longer chime loudly, making the dwarf frown. He then smiles as he leads a half-dozen dwarves down the corridor. They move carefully up to the first Shrieker and attack it, hacking it apart. The next one tries shrieking, but is silenced and they finish it off. They then run into a surprise, violet funghi. However, the tough dwarves hack it to pieces with only one casualty. A dwarf named Duergen takes a blow from the fungi and retreats, being in need of healing. He only takes a few steps back, when Isilme's hands settle upon him. "Relax," she says soothingly. She summons the blessings of Ellistraee and cures disease, erasing any vestiges of the fungal rot.

    "Thanks," says the dwarf, a bit uncomfortably since he cannot see Isilme. Then he laughs. "It's like me mum's ol tales of faerie godmothers!"

    The dwarves find a couple more violet fungi, but they finish all of the blooms without issue. The area is very wet and full of mold and fungus, thicker to the west [Area 14 on map]. The dank stench of rotting fungi assails their noses. Gotrek can see that a lot of mushrooms and molds actively grow here, but and the whole chamber is strewn with parts and pieces of every sort of fungus imaginable. There are two other caverns leading out to the north. The right one leads downwards, as far as Isilme can see, while the other is more level.

    Isilme follows the slope downwards. It twists and turns, and is not easy, sometimes requiring tough climbing. She stops after what seems a few hundred feet and returns. "It continues down, but will be difficult going," she says.

    Meanwhile, Noot and Manny go north through the other tunnel. It leads to a crossroads, which links back up to another you explored earlier, as well as more tunnels to the west. However, what is new is a massive set of double-doors which Manny discovers.

    “We should look into those doors,” says Emyn. “It might lead to a temple or something where these artifacts may be hidden."

    The party approaches, and you see a pair of riveted iron valves. Each door is 9' wide and 21' tall. From the look of the hinges set into the stone, each of these great doors must be at least 1' thick. On each valve are many leering demon visages in bronze. Weird symbols form a crabbed tracery around the border of each great iron portal. In the center of each is a plaque with strange runes.

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon May 28, 2018 10:51 am  
    Part 38 – The Doors

    "I'd say it's Iggy's work, all right," says Manny warily. Manny starts looking it over for traps. "Check it also, Noot, she was a subtle one."

    Neither find any evidence of traps, nor do the dwarves note anything suspicious. The doors open outwards.

    “Outta me way,” says Gotrek, moving forward. He tries to pull the door open, but he is not strong enough.

    Thorgrim takes out his portable hole and folds it open to get to his block and tackle. "Knew this'd be good fer somethn," he mutters as he takes the time to rummage around for it. Then he sets it up on the great doors. A half-dozen dwarves, including him and Gotrek, then start to pull at one of the doors. With a groan, it then starts to pull slowly open...

    Gotrek growls, as his muscles bulge in effort. He feels the door giving, and starts to grin.....

    Emyn stands ready with his bastard sword drawn. He is on the opposite side of the doors from Gotrek.

    Beyond the iron doors is a corridor with walls of red marble. A thick black carpet [sorry, my map program doesn't have a black rug!) runs from the entry to an ebony door some 80 feet away. The arched ceiling consists of black marble shot through with bands of scarlet. An eerie red glow from the ceiling pervades the entire passageway.

    Sir Godwynn attempts to Detect Evil, and he is knocked backwards, almost falling over as he attempts to do this.

    Noot and Manny enter the hallway. A painting on the wall shows a 15-foot wooden boat with a lovely, black-haired lady at the tiller. She smiles under a stormy night sky. The boat in the painting has the name, “Kacerayu,” on the prow.

    As Emyn helps Sir Godwyn up, he notices that the man's skin looks a bit pale and sickly. [He also has -1 to his Con.] He can sense the way the evil taint of this place has directly affected him.

    “This is a dread place,” he says. “Perhaps a protection from evil spells might be advised.”

    [DM OOC: That will not help, per se. This is TAINT, which is a 5ed/Pathfinder effect. I obviously do it differently for 2nd ed, but the basics are the same. It's closest analogy in the genre is the corruption effects of the One Ring. No simple protection spell helps that!]

    "Maybe we should send a scout in to see if they can safely enter,” says Emyn. “Otherwise we will have no choice but to bear the effects of this evil in order to complete our quest. "

    [DM OOC: Noot and Manny already entered. That's how you saw what was on the walls. Sir Godwyn only suffered that because he attempted to Detect Evil. It is simply too pervasive here, and automatically hurt him.]

    As other people move down the corridor to the black wooden door, you all feel the tingle of perceptible magic in the air. You also see the gleam from silver hinges, studs, and a door ring, which is visible on the door.

    “Whole thing feels like a magical trap,” cautions Manny.

    [Manny OOC: Two options, really. One, try to chop thru the door without opening it. That may keep the trap from triggering. MAYBE. Two, open the door. I'm thinking we may want to split the party so half can rescue the other if we have problems. Leave a couple of farspeakers with both groups. Do we want dwarves with both?]

    After a brief discussion, Thorgrim jams the great iron outer doors with his StoneShape spell. The others move forward to open the inner doors. Manny, Gotrek, Thorgrim, Emyn and Elrae. Along with six dwarves are inside, while the rest stay beyond the outer doors. Gotrek pulls on the door and it nearly flies open! There is a brief flash of light, then they all find themselves elsewhere. As this is done, the iron doors inexorably close, shattering the stone which Thorgrim had used to block their movement.

    The others cannot pull the great iron doors open again, and the runes upon them glow brightly showing the presence of magic. Attempting to contact the others via Farspeak does not work.....

    [DM OOC: This was very powerful teleportation magic. I'm not going to bother with doing it all secretly, so I'm going to handle the half the party which was teleported away in the Side Treks thread. The only reason is to keep things more readable.]

    While the others are...elsewhere, the party left in the caverns can continue to do their own thing, or whatever it is they choose to do now. Here's a map of who's is left:

    Berenn, Sir Godwynn, Isilme, Noot, Delaim, Irvil, and thirteen Azcral dwarves.

    Oh, and remember, the doors are now shut, and you cannot budge them in the slightest!

    “We should wait here,” says Berenn.

    “Then I shall scout around,” replies Isilme, after waiting about a half hour. The others have now been away for two hours. She doesn't seem to be in too much of a hurry, but she is an elf.

    She files off to the east, then returns about 20 minutes later. She found other passages connecting back to ones you already explored, as well as another set of doors. "They are exactly like these," she says.

    “I wonder what would happen if we opened the other set of double doors?” wonders Berenn.

    "Probably nuthin' good," mutters Ervil. "This place is a deathtrap."

    It is now 3 hours since the others have gone, about. Since nobody wants to do anything the next hour, Isilme flies the other way to scout. She goes nw and finds a cavern to the west which is full of fungus, so she just leaves. There a carved tunnel to the right, like the ones with the doors, but it just ends. She continues on and finds another set of doors.

    It is now pushing midnight, and with you all doing nothing, people are getting tired. While discussing setting up a camp, you hear on the Farspeaker from the dwarves at the entrance.

    "Somebody is coming," they says. "We see a lot of torches moving up the valley towards us," they continue. "Looks like a large force."

    "Don't engage unless you think you have an advantage,” says Berenn. “Otherwise, seek to avoid contact."

    They reply shortly. "We are falling back inside," says Gilhak, Delaim's second in command. "There are at least a few hundred coming up the path. We will leave Orili outside with a farspeaker to scout exactly who's coming. He's taking cover on a ledge overlooking the entrance."

    “Who do you think that is?” asks Noot. “Dwarves? Velunese?”

    “Most likely the Iuzians,” says Isilme. “With help.”

    Orili reports back after a while. His voice sounds worried. "There are least a few hundred," he says. "Hobgoblins, gnolls, and men. Looks like a lot of warriors and a few mages too. They are entering the upper levels. Can't make out more in this light."

    "Don't get spotted Orili,” replies Berenn. “Hopefully this army will run into the eye tyrant or some of the other creatures we were able avoid."

    As they are entering the caverns at the same entrance you guys used, the dwarves are forced to fall back to the lesser caverns. Orili can't get back inside as a group of men and humanoids are now guarding the entrance.

    “I will fly up and see what is happening for myself,” says Isilme. “Flying and invisible, I can safely gather information.” With that, she flies off.

    It will take her about five to ten minutes to get there. We shall now leave her to find out what happened to the others, teleported by the trapped doors.
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    Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:57 am  
    Part 39 – The Iuzians Arrive!

    [DM OOC: The party has been split apart by the teleportation magic of the great portals. Where the half that disappeared is, nobody knows. Simultaneously, a large group of humanoids has descended upon the entrance to the caverns, forcing the Azcral dwarves on guard there to retreat into the caverns. Isilme is hurrying to the entrance to find out what is happening and to help.

    It has been 4 1/2 hours since half the party disappeared. In that time, Isilme has had to cast another fly spell, which by now has also expired. She has no other 3rd level spells. She is hoofing it. ]

    At the stairs between the entrance dungeon and the lesser caverns, she runs into Gilhak and 19 dwarves. The ones from the entrance dungeon have just reached this point. She can thus take a moment to give orders to the dwarves before she moves on. She orders the dwarves fall back. Elrae's ice bridge is gone now. The passwall that Elrae used is also gone, so they have to cross with the ropes. They remove them when they are done, leaving no way to cross the river.

    Meanwhile, Isilme makes it to the dungeon level. She is in the throne room. She continues along, and she sees orcs moving north through the chamber with the fountain. There are goblins on the stairs behind them. The orcs fan out, some going left out of sight, some going right, and they are followed by goblins, which start picking at the corpses of the dead orcs on the floor. Down the hall to the east she sees more goblins coming, spreading out through various passages.

    Isilme uses here Wand of Highfolk, hoping to incite fighting amongst the humanoids. She then slips back into the throne room, taking cover around the corner in the cavern which leads out the north side. She has a view of the chamber, where she waits to see what happens next. She can flee down the tunnels if need be. She hears sounds of fighting echoing through the complex. After a few minutes, she hears the guttural barking of orcish, and the fighting seems to stop.

    Isilme waits until a group of orcs and goblins enters the throne room. They look around alertly, then send a group of goblins down the passage towards her. She hugs the little nook where she's hiding, as the goblins pass by. They come back a bit later and report to the orcs. She doesn't know what they are saying, but they seem to be just scouting. She slips back away from the throne room and the reports back to Berenn on what she sees.

    Orili then reports from outside. The host has made a large camp, and they are settling down. He notes that many of them simply stand immobile, but he cannot tell why. One small group of about 10 are clearly the leaders. They all seem to be humans, maybe a couple elves. He cannot be sure from his vantage point.

    Isilme returns and reports what has happened. Ervil looks nervous. "You don't know them," he says. "They are deadly adversaries, who wield terrible magic. With more than half your number missing, we do not stand a chance against them."

    The dwarves look upset at Ervil's comments, and he continues. "No offense, but they will go through your number like a plow through soft earth. What will your strength matter when the very air erupts in fire, in lightning?"

    “We have no intention of fighting them at the moment,” replies Berenn calmly. “But we may have to fight them to escape from these caverns. For now, it appears they are content to hold the entrance / exit.” Berenn then uses the Farspeaker and tells Orili to report any change in their movements.

    “ We don't have the power to fight,” says Isilme, “and we cannot help those that are lost since we cannot open the doors.” She is clearly frustrated, and her tone is harsh and hurried.

    “If we were going to follow the others we should have done so immediately. At this point it could prove fruitless. The group has not returned, for all we know they are dead at this point. Without divination spells there is not much to go on. So this leaves us with either try and deal with these forces at half strength or withdraw completely and live to fight another day.”

    She looks at the others. “So what would you like to do? Commit suicide and jump heroically into the fire and try to save our friends. Commit suicide and challenge a group at full strength with an army at their disposal. Or withdraw and live to fight another day.”

    When nobody responds, she continues sarcastically, “Anyway, someone chime in.”

    “We must rest here,” says Berenn, “and trust in our friends to win through whatever challenges they face.”

    Everyone agrees, and the party sets up scouts and defenses while they rest. It now deep into the night, after midnight. It is now Godsday, 25th of Reaping (582 CY).

    Isilme casts Comprehend Languages. Here's what it says:


    "As I suspected,” she says. “With all the magic defense here this area is important. Although I never expected it to be a doorway to Igilwivs treasure." Well, maybe the others will find what we seek for us,” she adds. “In the meantime, I will go back up and see if I can get a prisoner.”

    Once all is set, Isilme uses a higher level slot to cast Fly and heads over to where some of the orcs are and find an outlying scout to capture. She will recast Invisibility if needed.

    [DM OOC: She does not need to recast Invis. That is still in effect.]

    When she gets to the throne room of the dungeon level, she finds a handful of orcs there, along with some other types. They are orcs, but they are dead, the same dead the party found earlier but now raised as zombies. A priest of Iuz is also in the chamber, and he is casting a spell which raises the body of the dead ogre as well. It stands up, a new zombie monster for the Iuzian ranks! There are some live orcs here as well, along with a half-orc warrior by the southern door and a black-robed priest of Iuz, which just raised the dead ogre as well.

    As she watches, the priest then orders the zombies to guard this chamber, and "kill any who enter," He then turns to leave. "You can rest now," he says to the orcs. "We will investigate further after daybreak."

    The half-orcs nods, says something to the orcs in orcish, then follows the priest out of the chamber, followed in turn by the three live orcs. Left in the chamber are the three orc zombies and the zombie ogre.

    Also, Isilme understands orcish now, thanks to the Comprehend Languages. His name is Moorsh, and he is clearly the leader of the orcs. He orders them to gather the others and find a place to sleep inside. He tells them to stay out of the way of the hobgoblins and not cause any more problems. You figure out that some of the zombies were the last orcs that caused problems. He then left with the priest.

    With only zombies left, and these Iuzians apparently content to rest for the night themselves, Isilme opts to not press her luck and she returns to the rest. She scouts out the caverns around the doors while the party rests, then gets a nap herself.
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    Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:58 am  
    Part 40 – The Marble Maze

    [DM OOC: Here is the first post for what has happened to the teleported half of the party.]

    They are in a small room, the walls of which are white marble, though they glow blue under an unseen light source. The blue light illuminates the area uniformly such that there are no shadows. The area is more like a corridor than a room. It is 10 feet wide and 10 feet high, and down the length of the hall, the area ends and appears to turn left and right. The walls and floor are without seams, as if the corridor had been carved of one enormous piece of marble.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Damn, was afraid that would happen. And . . . the farspeakers don't work. Damn, so much for that plan. Do the farspeakers work between the ones here?]

    [DM OOC: That's a good question. 😊 The ones separated from Isilme by the teleportation do not work at all.]

    The group finds itself in a 30x30' chamber, with four exits in the center of each wall. They are 10' square corridors, and they leads away into a swirling black mist. You cannot see more than 5'.

    Emyn says, "The farspeakers are not working. We must be very far away or on another plane. Manny, are you able to look for traps down these corridors? Elrae can you check for magic, please?"

    While they do that, Emyn tries to examine the surfaces of this room for magic sigils.

    You can only see about 10' through the swirling black mists. He can look down the corridors for traps. Meanwhile, Emyn finds nothing of note.

    The party decides to move on, since there does not seem to be another option. Manny will scout just about 10’ ahead, so the others can barely see him. The rest follow behind him in the following order:

    Gotrek and Emyn
    Belak and Thorgrim
    Elrae and Dwarf
    Dwarf and Dwarf
    Dwarf and Dwarf

    The corridor turned north, and you follow it another chamber exactly like the first one, with 4 corridors in the center of each wall. In the center of the chamber lies the remains of a large black statue. It seems to have once been a fully armed armored warrior of some kind with a large axe. It is very realistic!

    [Party OOC: pretty much everyone glumly replied, “Great!”

    Heading west, you wind around the west corridor until it turns north, then east, then north, then west again. Eventually it opens into another 30' square chamber. There your passage is blocked by a 9' tall statue that resembles a minotaur, carved out of black rock like the other broken statue you saw. The dwarves think it to be obsidian. It turns towards Manny as he enters the chamber, blocking his passage.


    "Elrae,” calls Manny, “Would you wand of stone hurt this thing?"

    "What thing?" he asks. "I can't see anything but black mist!"

    [DM OOC: Remember, nobody can see more than 10' in the corridors due to the mist. So nobody beyond Emyn and Gotrek can actually see it.]

    It turns completely towards Manny, as the rest of the party begins to enter. It then speaks in a gravely, basso voice.

    "A warrior amongst the flowers,
    I wield a thrusting sword.
    I use it when I must,
    to defend my golden hoard."

    [DM OOC: and please, don't cheat!]

    "What the--a puzzle-maze!" Thorgrim whispers. "Or is it a Sphinx?" He presses Emyn to urge him forward, pushing past him if he must.

    Thorgrim steps forward from the mist. "You are a Hon--" his voice catches as he views the towering Minotaur. He grips Souldrinker more tightly, and finds his voice again.

    "You are a Honeybee!"

    The menacing axe lowers, and the minotaur stands mute sentinel once again.

    "I was about to say bee too,” says Elrae. “How I do like riddles. Which way will lead us out?"

    "Hoho!" Thorgrim looks at Manny, smacks him on the back hard enough to knock him off-balance. "A Honeybee he is, then! Had a friend in the Lortmils, a teacher, who used to keep them, and brew his own mead. A divine drink, that. May be the most useful thing he taught me. I must confess I'd hoped for another riddle. Or a riddling contest, though I'm sure to lose. Perhaps not..."

    Thorgrim calls back to the party, "Come forward, lads. We must needs press on, lest this trap reset itself. Gotrek, Emyn, I feel a call to the North. Manny, if you'll do the honors and scout?"

    You head north for a bit, maybe 20' or so, and there is a side passage to the right. So, you can continue north, or turn right. They check constantly for traps, finding none.

    ‘This is taking too long,” says Thorgrim. “We must move faster. Stop checking every step. There are no traps, so let us move with more haste.”

    “And stay together,” says Berenn.

    "We must not become separated in this maze..." Thorgrim mutters. "How would we find one another again? These damn mists!"

    I came to a field of green
    Where the corn stalks grew so tall
    The sunlight could not pierce
    To the winding path below

    Around and around I went
    Under those waving stems
    I followed the shadowed path
    Marked so faintly with her steps

    Down in the winding corn maze
    Where the green stalks shiver in the wind

    Down in the winding corn maze
    Where the green stalks shiver in the wind

    Such spirals spread for miles through the bending leaves
    There in a swarm of bees, I knelt down at her feet
    And she took me to her arms in that cloud of honeybees
    Whirring in their whirling as they rose on golden wings

    Down in the winding corn maze
    Where the green stalks shiver in the wind.

    “Bees don't like corn,” says Manny. “Corn uses wind. Bees would go to flowers.”

    "Talking about maize in a maze. I am amazed," says Emyn jocularly.

    "Emyn, I believe Hepla's witchy weirdness is rubbing off on you, finally. It is good," Thorgrim declares.

    The group continues for some time, finding nothing but more passages. Manny remarks that this mist is unlike anything he has seen.

    "We have encountered spells like this before,” says Emyn. “I think Isilme called it guards and wardens or something like that. "

    "If it's Guards and Wards, my Dwarven direction sense might prove useless, and we'll find ourselves truly lost," Thorgrim says. "We'll know if we pass an area we've seen before. I am concerned that the rest of the party has not followed in our footsteps. I had thought of marking our passage, but who could see it in these mists? Perhaps Elrae's ballads could lead them to us? "Dammit, I'm going to start doing it anyway. Just in case." Thorgrim removes his chalk from his backpack and marks the point where the north passage turned east. He writes, "THORGRIM DUERKAS" in large, bold letters, with a big arrow indicating our path.

    "That should do it." He thinks about it a moment, then takes a dwarf with him, returning to the Minotaur Room, but not entering. He runs his hand along the wall, making triple-time but not trotting. He makes another mark just north of that room.

    "That'll have to do. The rest can solve their own riddles. Let's get back to the group."

    As Emyn and Thorgrimk cross the center of another chamber, the bottom falls open revealing a deep pit. Manny is already just passed it in the north corridor, and Elrae successfully leaps back just in time, the Azcral dwarves behind him grabbing him. However, Emyn, Gotrek, and Thorgrim all fall.

    They three all slam hard into the stone floor 40' below. Emyn takes 42, Thorgrim 31, and Gotrek 36.

    [Berenn OOC: Two thief types in the party and they let all the fighters fall into a pit ... team work!]

    [DM OOC: After not finding any, they stopped searching for traps! "Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive."]

    Once everyone gets out, Gotrek curses and looks for something to kick. He spits down the hole he had fallen into. "I am getting a wee bit annoyed now!"

    "An unsprung trap means something to hide. Maybe the way out or a treasure room. We should continue onward," said Emyn.

    Thorgrim digs into his backpack. "Ah, precious Hepla, and her obsession with herbs. These will help." He distributes a pack each of the Bloodkeep to Emyn and Gotrek, and takes one for himself. He then casts three Cure Moderate Wounds, one on each of us, and up to four CLW, as needed, to get himself and Emyn within 10 HPs of max and Gotrek within 20 or so. (Actually, with the Bloodkeep in effect, less may be required. Ragnar, tell us how it goes!)

    "Leave that pit jammed open, so others of our party don't befall the same fate. Heh, heh," he laughs at his own pun. "We will have to be more careful. My healing powers are seriously strained already, without Berenn's assistance. I hope our companions are not facing similar difficulties."

    "Let us tread North once again. Carefully."

    Eventually, the party finds a different side chamber. It appears empty with no other exits. Manny notices that there are many cracks in the ceiling plaster.

    [DM OOC: It is also equivalent to midnight now, just so you know.]

    “Do we collapse the ceiling?” asks Manny.

    "The question is what is above that ceiling,” replies Emyn. “It might be acid for all we know. If we try it, let me use a ranged weapon or maybe we could throw a loose stone at it."

    Using the dwarves and their ingenuity, you can collapse the ceiling. It falls and the entire chamber is completely full of rock, boulders, and dirt which pours out a few feet into the corridor. The way is completely blocked.

    After a short discussion about whether or not they should rest, the party decides to move on. Thorgrim uses some healing potions on the others, saving his spells, and the party retraces their steps. The go back to another intersection, and take a new route.

    Thorgrim crosses out his mark he made earlier and makes a new one at the beginning of the south passage.

    "Should make easy following," he notes. "For friends and enemies alike."

    As it is a new day, Thorgrim attempts to summon the elemental, but it doesn't work. “We must be in some kind of demi-plane,” he muses as he puts away his stone. “Let’s go.”

    You turn south, and after a short distance find another intersection. One passage goes east, the other south. Pushing back to the east, you enter another chamber. This one has two exits, one to the east and one south. In the center of the chamber is round fountain. Manny searches for traps, but finds nothing.

    “Based on our experience with these chambers, there is likely a creature in the fountain waiting to attack,” says Manny.

    “Or a trap,” says Emyn.

    “Let’s just ignore it,” says Thorgrim. The party agrees, and they press onwards.

    The passage turns right, goes another 100' then turns left. It ends in another chamber. This one is totally empty as well, except for a ladder in the east wall leading up to a trapdoor in the ceiling.

    After checking for traps, Manny opens the trap door. It opens to a cavern bigger than he can make out with infravision. About 10' away is a large chitinous shell of something. It looks like a giant, desiccated insect of some kind.

    Thorgrim doffs his backpack. “I wonder if we have moved to another plane,” he says. He opens his belt pouch and removes his Stone of Earth Elemental Control and summons its magic.

    To Thorgrim surprise, the magic works. A very large elemental appears out of the cavern floor. To his even greater surprise, the elemental walks over to him and takes the Stone of Controlling Elementals from his grasp!

    Thorgrim's eyes go wide. "Elemental! Drop that stone! TROUBLE, boys!" he shouts.
    The elemental drops the stone as ordered. Thorgrim sighs, but as he reaches for it the elemental stomps on it with its massive, stony foot. Thorgrim's eyes go wide, and when the elemental lifts its foot, there is nothing but crushed pieces of stone beneath it.

    Thorgrim brandishes Souldrinker. "ELEMENTAL! BEGONE! Return to your home plane," he orders.

    "I am home," it says, in a voice like grinding stones, and then swings at Thorgrim. A massive fist bludgeons the dwarf, sending him flying across the chamber [29].

    So, a play from the nodes from Temple of Elemental Evil, eh?” says Emyn, drawing his sword. “How unoriginal of Iggwilv. So be it."

    "Worse," says Elrae. "We seem to be in the Plane of Earth itself!" He points Snowfang at the beast, "Rhigosis," he cries. A domed wall of ice appears around it before Emyn can charge. "Everyone, back down the ladder, quickly!"

    Everyone gets down the hole, and the elemental does not follow.

    "How much do you want to bet that we will find similar elemental areas elsewhere?” remarks Emyn, concern etched on his face. “We should continue more carefully."

    "It seems that Clanggedin has deemed it fit that I summon nothing to aid my combat. His will be done." Thorgrim considers climbing back up the ladder to collect the pieces of his Stone, then discards the idea. He looks at the potions in his utility belt, runs his hand over them.

    "Emyn, we'll never last if we encounter more enemies with such power. Summon nothing, here. You're still sorely wounded. Stand still while I heal more of your damage."

    Thorgrim casts Cure Moderate Wounds on Emyn and himself. We then head back to the fountain-room and take the passage south from there. Thorgrim crosses out the mark he had made to the east of the junction, and makes a new one at the beginning of the south passage.

    Moving back to the fountain chamber, everyone waits while Manny checks the south passage. It ends in another chamber. A large pile of coins and gems lies in the chamber, atop which lies a sleeping, snoring green dragon. It is about 6' long and snoring loudly.

    The party decides to backtrack, heading to the next passage going south. You head south about 100' before turning east a bit. You find another chamber with two exits, east and south. There is a basin set into the north wall full of clear water.

    Emyn says, "How much you want to bet that goes to the water plane?".

    "I'm just hoping we don't have to go through a Plane to get back,” replies many glumly.

    "And why not the fountain, then? So far we've found nothing here except trouble. This isn't the Temple of Elemental Evil, Emyn. It is the Plane of Elemental Earth."

    Thorgrim consults his map. "Good news! We are making much progress...though by the look of things this place may take several days to explore."

    "More good news is that this maze appears static, with set traps. The only monster we've enountered thus far was the one I summoned. Emyn, I think that 'dragon' was an illusion-trap. More good news is that there appear to be many safe areas to rest, once we choose to do so. Elrae's Passwall wand will provide us an exit path from any dead ends, should we need one: these passages run close. Gentlemen, on till dawn?"

    The party continues along the maze, eventually entering another chamber. It is plain, with no exit. On the east wall is a large round relief of a face with an open mouth.

    When you enter, a voice magically emanates from the mouth. "If you would know your fate, step forward and have your palm read."

    Emyn is curious and steps forward to have his palm read. H wonders how it will be different from Hepla’s readings.

    [Isilme OOC: WTF?]

    Emyn's hand gets suddenly cold, but when he tries to pull it out he cannot. It then starts to get hot, blistering hot. When he pulls it out, he finds that it has turned a deep red color. A cackling laugh then fills the room.

    [Isilme OOC: Told you!]

    "Emyn, what in the Nine Hells were you thinking?!" Thorgrim shouts. "And to think it was you who advised Gotrek not to refresh himself in the fountain!"

    Thorgrim goes to heal him, and you find that he is not actually hurt. His hand is just…red.

    Thorgrim runs a hand through his hair, then sighs. "Well, it will make an excellent emblem for your cult...Sir Emyn of the Red Fist. Emyn of the Rosy Palm. Will your priests wear a single red glove to signify their loyalty?"

    He chuckles. "That's enough easting, for now. I've a mind to destroy that face and see what lies behind, but I suspect it will be nothing, or a river of blood. Let's continue, lads."

    The party continues for hours, turning this way and that. "Confound this Rat-Maze!" Thorgrim shouts. "Gentlemen, I feel it quite certain that north will lead us to another dead-end, but it won't do to have too many blank spots on our map. We've been most thorough, thus far. And our escape could lie in any path or chamber. Manny, lead us north again."

    The passage goes north about 20' before ending in another chamber. There are no other exits, and the north half is covered in a large mudpuddle.

    “I can easily imagine what lurks in that!” says Manny.

    Back, and try east again.

    “You know?” says Emyn to Thorgrim. “I actually like the sound of Emyn Bloodfist!” he says, holding up his red hand. “Been thinking of it for hours!”

    “Shut up!” says Thorgrim.

    Following the Easternmost hallway south leads you yuo another chamber. This one contains nothing but a stone archway along the south wall. It is full of fogy mist, so cannot see what is beyond it.

    “Well,” says Manny. “There is only one way to know what is beyond.” He steps through.

    Calling Manny, he does not respond. After a few minutes, emyn says, "We cannot leave him to die." He steps through the arch to rescue Manny.

    "Come, lads, we'll face our fates together," Thorgrim says, then leads the dwarves through the arch. "Elrae, don't be a laggart. We may need your skills most of all."

    You all find yourselves in a square cavern, with four passages heading out, one from each wall. It looks like you have returned to the lost caverns again, though you have not been to the place before.

    You use the farspeakers, and low and behold, you hear your friends answer!

    "Isilme, Berenn, report! We are back on the Prime Material, and apparently close. Do not follow through the Teleport trap. Repeat, DO NOT follow through the Teleport!"

    "We are looking for you, but may not be on your level. Berenn, hold fast where you are. Isilme, come try and find us. Your Farspeaker spell will be running out, soon, I suspect. Or you tell me. We shall search through the night to rejoin the party, but will be forced to rest some time or another, and certainly upon our return. We will force-march through the night, and then some, as we are able. Thorgrim out."

    Thorgrim, eager to communicate while he can, gets out his Farspeaker box again. "No casualties on our side. You?"

    "I am glad to get out of that maze,” says Elrae with much relief. “I really don't like mists of any sort."

    It takes little time for the parties to reunite back at the doors.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:01 am  
    Part 41 – The Doors

    With the party finally reunited, and the Iuzians, along with a small army of their own, arriving outside the mountain, the party settles down to plan.

    "Gentlemen,” says Berenn, “in your absence a rather large Iuzian force has made camp at the entrance of the caverns. They haven't moved further in, but I imagine that is only a matter of time. We have removed the ropes we used to cross the river, and the ice bridge has melted, so crossing where we did will prove more difficult."

    “If there is an army camped at our door,” says Noot, obviously worried, “then we need to watch them to see if they want to come where we are or they have some other purpose in mind. We should also keep an eye on the bridge area, since that would be the easiest to defend.”

    "Imagine to disintegrating the bridge while you cross it," says Emyn darkly.

    “What about the beholder?” asks Noot.

    "Mm!" Thorgrim grunts. "It were as likely to Disintegrate us."

    “No!” says Elrae rather emphatically. “Not an option!”

    Emyn actually smiles at Elrae’s discomfort. "I got the sense that thing liked to play with its food. "

    "Isilme, tell me again that word we saw inscribed by the portal?" asks Thorgrim.

    "KACERAYU," she replies.

    "Mm!" comes Thorgrim's response. Thorgrim mulls the word over in his mind, thinks of its letters and what other letters they might represent. He tears the word apart and sees if he can't make a new word out of it, using his hard-earned Cryptography skill to the best of his ability. He comes up blank.

    “I have told you all I know,” says Isilme. “While you plan our next move, I will search the rest of these caves and see what I find.” With that, she flies off, invisible, to reconnoiter.

    [DM OOC: Now, it's about 2am and nobody has rested. It's been about 6 hours since you were split up.]

    She comes back shortly, having searched out all the tunnels nearby using her superior drow infravision. Other than showing the rest of the tunnels around here, she discovers that there are a total of 6 doors which all circle a central point.

    “It seems there is a central chamber around which are sets of doors,” she reasons. “All the doors have been identical so far.”

    "I wonder where the other doors we've found lead,” asks Thorgrim? “I've a feeling they are key to our goal. Do they all lead to the Maze of Mists? If so, we need to scour that area, as a group. If not, we may end up somewhere no rest is forthcoming, like the long grind we did in the Fane. That would be...disagreeable. There is also no guarantee that any Teleport areas always go to the same place. We could exit the Maze and be spit out in the middle of the Iuzians!"

    He scratches his beard, then looks up. "Berenn,” he asks? “What do you think?”

    “I say the healers expend what spells are left to heal the wounded and then we rest,” he replies. “We can have the dwarves watch the Iuzians and warn us if they begin to stir.”

    “Agreed,” nods Thorgrim. He then takes out a Farspeaker before the spell ends, and speaks to the dwarf spying on the Iuzians. "Hold fast. Report any changes, and await our return. Stay safe, and out of sight. If you don't hear from us in a few days or a week, make your way back to Azcral and report our failure. Have King Falal take no further action for at least a few days after that: we may have an extended delay."

    The party then rests. You sleep for 6 hours. It's enough to get most people a decent amount of rest. Assuming those in armor slept in it, they did not get good rest. Just keep that in mind, as it's the SECOND day in a row they did not get good rest. It's now about 8am, sunrise outside about now. All spells have stopped, including Farspeaker. You can no longer talk to Orili, the dwarf outside. All wounds are healed, and all spells/magic are reset.

    Thorgrim stretches his old bones, feels his back to see that it's properly healed from his fall. He grunts. "We haven't discovered any levels below this, yet. Methinks we have reached the terminus of these dungeons, and our goal lies behind one of these doors. Let's open another door, enter together, and see where it leads. If it's back to the Maze of Mists, perhaps our goal lies there. If it's to another place...well, we'll find that out, won't we?"

    It takes the same effort to open the next doors, and in fact all the others. Beyond is another corridor, nearly identical to the first except that there is no bas relief. At the end is another set of doors.

    “Let's leave behind a contingent of 20 dwarves to keep an eye on any Iuzian progress,” says Thorgrim. “Ten at the door (enough to open it, yes?), ten up in the lesser caverns, with two Farspeakers. Orders are to watch for the invading army, and retreat to the doorway and follow us if they are pursued. Delaim can come or stay as he pleases.”

    Delaim nods, as Thorgrim continues. “The remaining Farspeakers go with us. Though we won't be able to communicate with the Dwarves, we can communicate with each other if we become separated. Like in the mists. And we can communicate with the Dwarves should we return to this plane.”

    "We're going inside," says Thorgrim. He agains tries the word, 'Kacerayu,' but nothing happens. “Blast!”

    Delaim will stay out with the dwarves, set up as you say. The rest come with you. There is another flash, as before, and the party finds themselves in a hot, steamy, jungle clearing. Since nobody here has ever been to a jungle, none of you have any experience with this. However, imagine the dismay at suddenly being in a place like this. There is a large ruin, totally overgrown, in the center of the clearing, which is of a strange architectural style you've never seen.

    Berenn quickly stops anyone from moving forward, for he recognizes the type of vines covering the ruin. "We've seen this before," he says, "at Cat's Claw Tower." He looks back at the massive ruin, then shakes his head. "This is a much, much bigger plant."

    “Morodin’s Arse!” swears Thorgrim, remembering that encounter. "Well, I have a single Potion of Plant Control here, in my backpack," he says. "And two more in the Hole. Care of Lyseios. I will attempt to get us past." Thorgrim drinks the potion and commands the vines to part.

    Thorgrim drinks his potion and finds that he can control the plants with ease. He gets the party passed the massive creeper vine, and to the top of the pyramid. There you find a chamber with an altar, atop which rests a large, elongated, crystal skull. Upon touching it, the group is suddenly transported back to the caverns!

    “Well,” says Noot. “That was easy!”

    The party finds themselves in another square chamber in the caves, one which Isilme has scouted earlier. Within are two shambling mounds. Thorgrim then commands the shambling mound to attack the other. The two start to fight, and they tear each other apart, literally. Whichever one wins, you can easily finish off the other.

    Thorgrim communicates with Delaim via Farspeaker: "We're back already, and on our way to you. The square chambers seem to be the points of return for the Teleport traps."

    They return and continue a counter-clockwise loop to the next doors. As they approach, they catch a flicker of light to the SW. Investigating, you find the following:

    This crooked, curving room has one peculiar feature—a huge stone idol 10 feet tall in the far wall. The idol is shaped like a demon of the Abyss, something out of nightmares. Isilme recognizes it as a Balor. Great magic gives it the semblance of demonic life and hellfire.

    As soon as Noot enters, the idol speaks. “Leave one magic item before me and you may choose one of those previously left.” As this is uttered, a chest appears magically in the hands of the statue, and the idol grinds stonily as it places the huge iron box at its feet. The lid opens....

    Noot backs up. "It's bad luck to mess with magic statues," he says.

    Emyn holds up his red hand and says, "This place holds nothing but trickery and deceit. I will not fall prey to its evil again."

    "If someone has a minor magic item, this might be a chance for an upgrade,” says Berenn.

    "Its your idea, feel free...." says Isilme, who then leaves the passage. She then casts "Stoneskin" if she is going to walk around for all to see.

    Gotrek throws his quartz of continual light at the feet of the statue.

    Emyn gets the he'll out of the room. Manny backs out, quietly. He doesn't trust this at all. He assumes this is a trick of Iggy.

    The others stand ready to see what happens next.

    [Emyn OOC: I wasn't about to wait while wiley coyote strapped his **** to another rocket. That never ends well.]

    Isilme muses how easily the party is derailed from its mission.

    [Isilme OOC: Once again we are jacking around with the things we bump into instead of focusing on how to get to the real treasure we came here for - somewhere past one of the huge doors. With time of the essence and the enemy at the gates, I am sure we have time to relax and sip a mai tai.]

    Gotrek moves forward and look into the chest. Inside are swords, daggers, maces, axes, javelins, boots, cloaks, scarabs, brooches, amulets, tubes, small boxes and coffers, bags, helms, arrows, bows, rods, wand cases, rings, flasks, bottles, jugs, gauntlets, bracers, gems, any jewelry—nearly everything imaginable! Gotrek is pulled by an irresistible desire for the wealth, and as he reaches in the idol lurches forward, swinging its arms in an attack. The statue hits Gotrek with a massive stone fist [25], pounding him down to the ground. Gotrek barely avoids the other fist.

    Emyn switches to his morningstar and moves in to assist. "Sometimes I think you just like to get in trouble for the hell of it!" he exclaims.

    Thorgrim advances to join the combat. He invokes the power of Clanggedin to guide his pick, using his priestly power to triple the damage of his first blow.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Mm! Turns out it was a bad idea to mess with statues! Who knew?]

    The golem slams Emyn aside as he moves up, its long reach impossible to avoid [17]. Emyn is knocked back and to the ground. He gets up and closes the rest of the way, but no longer can attack. Thorgrim avoids a swing with a quick duck under the lumbering golem’s arm, rushes up, and takes a chunk out of the statue with a good strike [39]. Gotrek then adds another swing of Goreblade, hitting it for another [12].

    The golem then hits Thorgrim with one fist [34]. There is a loud crack, and Thogrim falls back in pain as his arm is broken by the blow. He drops Souldrinker and stumbles backwards in pain, holding his useless arm.

    Gotrek then hits the thing a second time, this time in the leg for [20], Goreblade blasting a big chunk from it.

    Sir Godwynn charges into the fray, shield up to avoid an AoO, and then hits the golem, but his sword just clangs harmlessly off its stone body. [His sword cannot hit it.]

    "Godwynn, get Thorgrim out of here,” yells Emyn. “I will protect you!" The Avenger steps between Thorgrim and the golem, assuming defensive stance, including parrying.

    Godwynn does so, as Emyn stands like a stone wall, deflecting the blows from the golem as it attacks relentlessly. Gotrek then finishes the thing off with two massive blows of Goreblade which shatter the thing into pieces.

    Yes, the treasure all disappears! Actually, the two flaming eyes of the statue remain, massive ruby gems worth about 5,000gp each by Noot's estimate.

    "Well, that was predictably evil...a devil's bargain, to be certain,” says Thorgrim

    Berenn will help heal the party, using his rod and giving each a Cure Light Wound. He will also cast Mend Bone on Thorgrim's arm. "At least it didn't rip your arm clean off ..." he says, thinking about the encounter with the trolls.

    Emyn smacks Gotrek on the back of the head and says, "look what your foolish actions did. Think a little would you?".

    Isilme gets out the hell out of the way....

    “If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black,” says Berenn, stepping in before Gotrek loses control.

    "That's yer one, boy," says Gotrek, staring hard at Emyn. He then turns and stalks off. Thorgrim hears him muttering, but can't hear clearly.

    "I think we need to defeat the challenges behind each door before we can reach our goal,” says Emyn.

    Isilme leads the party over to the next clockwise door so we can take on the next challenge. "Our enemy is at the gates, and we need to acquire the items of Igwilv’s before they get here. They have a great deal to search, and with a little luck we may pull it off.”

    Isilme has the dwarves help us open the doors as they did before and we head to the next challenge. The dwarves are not going with you to whatever challenge awaits. They will protect the area and await your return, while also staying in contact with the others. Going through this door leads you to another area. This one is strange, a nearly spherical chamber within which you all seem to simply float, slowly "sinking" to the bottom. All around you it looks exactly the same.

    Isilme recognizes this as an area of Airy Water. It's less dense than water, which is why you all sank slowly to the bottom of the sphere. From the bottom, there is really nowhere to go. You are at the bottom of a sphere. However, you should have sank through the bottom of the area and into water, if it were a normal airy water spell. You are not sure why you have stopped sinking.

    Isilme moves forward to see if she can find and edge to the sphere and to see if she can gently push against the curvature of the sphere to make it roll or if she pushes more forcibly exit the shere. She can't push through, but a testing of parameters reveals that the sphere is weakening. As she presses the border gets softer until water begins to seep through it.

    Isilme immediately casts "water breathing" on herself and touches everyone to spread the water-breathing. "The sphere is weakening, but it may just be a preparation space."

    A VERY large fish then swims by. It's huge beyond description. It appears first as a distant shadow, then a distinct shape, like a whale, but immeasurably larger. It swims away out of sight. The sphere never bursts, but fills up faster and faster, especially after it is half-filled. It eventually fills completely, taking about 30 minutes. Then suddenly the entire party finds themselves back inside the caves again.

    [DM OOC: Another good use of investigation, spell-use, and reason. There were many ways to die there.]

    "I think we just got hit by 'diminution' and thrown in Igilwiv's coy pond," Isilme says. She uses cantrips to dry everyone out, and then we head through the next door in the series.

    "It seems to me each of these doors is nothing more than a trap,” says Thorgrim, stating the obvious. “None have offered exploration save the Maze of Mists, though that seemed nothing more than a bevy of traps.”

    The party then follows the same process to open the next set of doors…. This time they find themselves transported to a long hall with suits of armor along each side. There is a door at the far end.

    Emyn shouts, "Kaceyaru" if nothing happens, he says it backwards. Nothing happens.

    horgrim eyes the corridor warily. "Hold for a moment, Manny. I don't like the looks of these suits of armor. If all of them aren't evilly enchanted, one of them surely is. I won't stand for it." Thorgrim selects the closest one and gives it a mighty bash of his pick.

    Thorgrim hits the first with a loud CLANG! He's not really surprised when the armor immediately springs to life and attacks him back. It hits him with a wicked morning star blow [8].

    Gotrek sees what happened and moves up to attack as well. The armor is incredibly fast, and it attacks Thorgrim again, hitting for [4]. Thorgrim hits [13] and Gotrek then smashes it for [18]. Sir Godwynn then slashes it with his sword, which just clangs off it. Going to pause to give others a chance to do something before I move on. Isilme cast her Dispel Magic this round. Other spell casters are not wasting spells, so that basically leaves Emyn. He moves up around and then it hit in the back by the left armor [2]. He turns back to fight that one, missing it with his first swing.

    [Isilme OOC: You guys were always crying your fighters want to get out there and do your thing!]

    The battle goes on for some time, with the party taking a good deal of damage, but they eventually destroy all the suits, which just fall apart into piles of unanimated armor. Isilme casts Detect Magic and notes that the helmets are all magical.

    “These magic helmets must hold some importance,” she says. “They are probably the way out.” She picks one up and puts it on. Immediately, she disappears, transported back into the caves. The helm is gone, but Noot is suddenly attacked, hit in the back by a reconstituted suit of armor!

    "Fantastic!” says Berenn. “These things reanimate."

    Once they finish off the new set, Thorgrim quickly snatches up the helm from the downed armor. He grabs its weapon and throws it down the hall. "Boys, looks like this is a wash," he says. "Ideas? Grab those other helms and see that they don't reanimate."

    Noot noticed that when Isilme put on the helmet and vanished, the set of destroyed armor vanished as well, replaced by a new set. “It's probably not possible to stop,” he says.

    “With eight people left, I would suggest Noot and Elrae first,” reasons Manny. “Then we kill the two suits. Then everybody puts on a helm together.”

    “Your mathematics is inarguable,” nods Thorgrim. “We do it that way.”

    they do so, and Noot and Elrae return. Two more suits vanish and reappear, animating and attacking. Being ready for them, you handle them without a problem. Then everyone dons one, and you all make it back. There they find Hepla waiting for them.

    “Hepla? How did you get here?" Thorgrim asks.

    "Forget that, tell me you learned ‘teleport!’" says Isilme.

    Before anything else, Hepla kisses Emyn for a long time. It is starting to get embarrassing before she breaks long enough to say, "Hi,” she says, turning red.

    Emyn pulls back and says, "What are you doing here? You're pregnant!"

    "I missed you and talked mom into helping me get here,” she says. I also brought bottles of healing potions. Star would not come with me. Something is evil about this place and I think I know what it is, but I will not speak her name here. Anyone want some healing potions?"

    Noot steps forward. “Hepla, you're a sight for sore eyes. To answer your question... yes!” he takes a couple.

    A tear comes down her face. "Thank you all. I fear getting home will only happen after we defeat whatever you need to defeat and leave here. I can no longer sense Star and mom could only get me within a few miles of here. We need to take care of buisness and then leave." You do notice that her outfit is loser fitting then you are used to seeing her dress. "So, what’s the plan. You know you have a small army on your doorstep. I did not learn either of those spells, mom will not teach me to teleport. I did learn Fireball."

    Emyn sighs and says, "I will protect you both. Don't do anything silly please, dear. I could not bear losing my family a second time. How far have the enemy penetrated and have they taken losses?"

    “I do not know where you last saw the army,” she says, “but maybe he can help.” You notice that Orili is back as well. He reports that the army is basically camped outside. All the orcs and hobgoblins have entered, leaving a large group of men and gnolls outside. Half the men when inside too.

    With the Iuzians moving into the tunnels, Delaim suggests holding the entrance to the greater caverns, at the bottom of the long stairs. The dwarves head off, and the party opens the next to last set of doors.

    You find yourselves in a strange realm, not exactly a room, but just an open space. It's hard to describe. Half of the area around you is pure black, the blackest black, seemingly like the sphere of annihilation you once found. The other half the area is pure white brilliance, bright as a thousand suns and you just cannot look at it squarely. There is one passage between the two, along the border where they meet. It seems a tunnel of sorts, though unlike any you have seen. It pulses with light and darkness, and you cannot see anything down it for any light from the light seems to be quickly extinguished by the dark. It is very difficult to describe where you are, as there is no real world equivalent. Nor is there a map, as such things mean nothing here.

    As you move down the "tunnel" you walk into a strange conflux of energy. It is almost like the light and dark both reach out and strike at you at the same time.

    Gotrek suffers a jolt of energy from the left (light side) [8]. The bolt ignites combustibles, and even his metal items begin to glow white hot, burning him. Luckily, his armor seems to protect him from some of the heat.

    [The following things from his equipment list instantly catch on fire: Boots, Belt, Buckler, Utility belt with potions in it (the potions fall to the "ground"), bag with herbs. These metallic items begin to glow white-hot: ring of protection, Stonecrusher, Giant Goreblade.]

    Sir Godwynn takes a blast of black energy from the right (dark side). The blast causes him [12] and feels like the draining energy of certain undead he has faced. Further, his nonliving items such as paper, cloth, and wood to age and rot.

    [The following is a list of his equipment which simply rots away to nothing: Large Belt Pouch (belt), Silver Holy Symbol, and his +1 Mace.]

    Thorgrim thinks he actually sees two roughly spherical "things" in the two sides from which the energy seems to emanate.

    Isilme figures that these places are clearly some kind of extra-dimensional spaces, as the farspeakers stopped working again. Some clearly had links to other elemental planes, like the water and earth ones. From what she knows, this place seems to exist somehow simultaneously between positive and negative planes, though that doesn't seem to fit what she knows. The two do not exist side-by-side, so to speak. However, it's possible that the two areas are pockets of Positive and Negative planes. If that's the case, then you would suffer the effects of those planes if you entered them.

    Emyn rushes ahead, but Gotrek and Sir Godwynn grab up their potions. Gotrek actually has only an ex-healing, just received from Hepla, but it broke so he bolts. Sir Godwynn is able to scoop up his Super Heroism, but lost his TWO Extra-Healing and his two holy waters. He is still in the passage, though suffers no further effects. Gotrek takes [4] from Goreblade burning his hand. Emyn is gone down the passage, and they follow after him, disappearing from sight. The rest retreat away.

    The party realizes that these things destroy their items, so they remove everything, stripping naked and putting all their possessions in Thorgrim’s portable hole. Isilme holds it for safe keeping, remaining invisible with fly and a stoneskin. They add some protective spells to her, then decide to run the gauntlet.

    As you run down the corridor, you see the things attacking again. Watching carefully for them this time, you see that they are some kind of creatures. Both are spherical beings with multiple tendrils of energy writhing about them, almost like the tentacles of an octopus. Each creature’s main body is a globe of energy that’s unremarkable except for two narrow spots that suggest eyes. These eyes, in turn, suggest an unknowable and alien intelligence. At first glance, there’s only one way to tell the two creatures apart: The one from the positive side appears silvery and lustrous, while its negative counterpart is black and dull.

    As the party runs down the corridor, Thogrim and Elrae are hit with energy discharges from each. Thorgrim takes [10] and Elrae takes [7]. Running as fast as possible, you find yourselves plowing through a strange-looking "curtain" and reappearing back in the caves! There you find Gotrek, Emyn, and Sir Godwynn.

    Berenn attends to necessary healing with Rod and spell.

    "Dreadful," Thorgrim says.

    The party continues around the last set of doors which beckon ominously....

    The party follows the same procedure and all goes into the last set of doors. Transportation to this area brings the party into a dim, seemingly endless, pillared hall. They are in an open area with a star shaped ceiling above. Each separate party member is trapped within a magic circle of glowing blue-green metal inlaid in the stone floor. These confine them as surely as the strongest prison. Occasional footsteps can be heard in the distance, but no creature can be seen. Distant chiming and a strange chanting are periodically heard, but you cannot make anything out clearly enough to know for sure.

    Hepla takes out a coin and tries to roll it out. She cannot. It hits an invisible barrier and stops. Those adept in magic recognize that these are magic circles similar to those used in summoning magic. They keep you completely stuck inside the circle, nor can you touch the circle in any way to disrupt it. No use of physical force can do anything here whatsoever.

    The party spent a long time here, trying to get out. Nothing they did helped, and let me just say, their frustration level was maxed out! This continued for days until Isilme finally cast a Detect Invisible spell.

    She casts Detect Invisible, and new writing appears in the floor, writing which she could not see before. It is an image of a star made of chains within the circle.

    The chain writing is also inscribed into the floor with the same inlaid metallic material as the rest of the circle. It cannot be physically broken/damaged in any way by anyone in the circle.

    The party again spent a LONG time trying to figure this part out, but nothing they did helped. Eventually, Isilme stumbled on the answer. She pulled the chalk out of her poucc and casts "write" spell tracing the invisible design exactly. The barrier around Isilme goes down when you are done!

    Once out, she tried to get the others out; however, nothing she did worked. She even tried to pour acid on the circle, but to no effect. Nothing can pierce the circle, so she decided to investigate the hall.

    The hall seems endless in all directions. The only thing of note is the star-shaped hole in the ceiling. Actually, it turns out to not be a hole, but a pentacle inscribed in the ceiling. There, set into the polished marble are five small pentacles set in a star shape. They look like studs that can be pushed.

    Hepla will grind some herbs to a paste, add some water and make a finger paint that she can use to copy what Isilme tells her she did. As a witch she is used to using herbs to make potions and stuff, making a kinda ink should be easy for her. She then does the same and frees herself.

    Berenn and Thorgrim also cast "detect invisibility" and trace the lines and free themselves, then they help guide others in the party who can't cast the spell.

    Isilme assists others as well. Emyn plucks his finger, then uses his blood in the same way.

    Isilme helps Emyn, who was always a bit challenged when it comes to writing. "Stop drawing outside the lines!" she shouts, when Emyn's clumsy fingers cannot trace the lines properly.

    Those without writing implements do the same, and soon everyone is freed. They need only push the studs in the ceiling to escape, and they do so. Everyone is shortly back in the caves, this time appearing before the initial set of doors, rather than in a square cavern.

    “Well,” says Thorgrim, “we must be done.”

    The party agrees and rests for a bit. They contact the dwarves and find they have been gone almost a whole day! After some healing, they move to open the doors again. This time they open easily…..

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:07 am  

    Sorry, it's been a long time since I posted. They party has finally reached the central point of the original module, and I didn't mean to leave everyone hanging so long. So, back to the story!


    Gotrek and Emyn pull the door open. It swings easily, but this time there is no corresponding flash of light…..

    The room beyond the door is brightly lit. You step through the door onto a ledge of green serpentine. A decorative openwork screen stands at the end of the ledge. To the left and right you see that other doors open onto ledges like the one on which you stand, each with its own screen. The chamber is spherical, and the doors and ledges are symmetrically arranged along the equator of the sphere. They would seem to match the assumed locations of the other sets of doors which you have tried to open.

    The upper hemisphere forms a dome of lapis lazuli, as dark as the night sky at the top, as pale as a twilight horizon at the equator. The lower hemisphere is of serpentine, pale green at the equator, deep green at the bottom of the bowl. The sides of the sphere are perfectly smooth and look as if they cannot be climbed or walked on.

    The screen is carved from rare wood and inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl. It blocks your view of the center of the chamber, though you see a golden chain hanging from the center of the chamber which supports something in the middle. You can't get a good look from here, though if you get closer to the screen you would be able to see through the openwork and see the rest of the chamber. You could also move to the corner where you could peak around the screen to see the center and floor of the chamber.

    Looking through the intricately carved openings reveals a jeweled lantern on a golden chain, hanging from the top of the chamber. Within the lantern burns a steady amber flame. The crystal lenses set in the lantern’s framework magnify its light. The warm and comforting light from this lantern makes the air seem to dance with a fusion of sunlight and moonlight.

    The lanthorn hangs above a broad stone dais, its rays reflected mostly downwards by the smooth, polished walls towards a dais of rose-colored marble, 6' long, 3' wide; and 3' high. On the dais surrounding the marble block are small carpets and a pair of beautifully fashioned stands upon which rest rare porcelain vessels. At the foot of the marble block is a low table with a crystal bowl filled with a rainbow of gems. At the head of the block is a silver tripod with a small brazier which emits a tiny plume of sweet-smelling smoke. -- Atop the marble block is a slab of white alabaster, inlaid with gold sigils-moons, stars, and strange symbols. A woman sleeps on the alabaster slab.

    The sleeping maiden is armored from toe to neck in gold chased plate mail. A long bastard sword is atop her body, its quillons below her breasts, its point near her feet. The woman's gauntleted hands are crossed over the sword's pommel. Her pale face seems composed. Her lips are bright red and her raven-hued tresses are lustrous. A helmet with plumes as black as the maid's hair rests on the slab just above her head.

    The sphere is 40' diameter, so it's 20' deep from the balcony.

    Here's an image from the original module which basically shows the scene described above:

    Manny is back in the hallway, and standing right next to the painting. It shows a 15-foot wooden boat with a lovely, black-haired lady at the tiller. She smiles under a stormy night sky. The boat in the painting has the name, “Kacerayu,” on the prow. If he pushes himself up to the front, which I am assuming he does so I can say this, he sees that the woman lying below is the same one portrayed in the painting!

    He says the word, “Kacerayu,” but nothing happens.

    "Oh my,” says Emyn. “Wasn't that painting supposed to be of Iggwilvs daughter? She must surley be preserved through some necromancy. "

    "So Iggwilv's daughter.” asks Manny, though to nobody in particular, and not a question. “Daughter of one of the most powerful Witches ever to exist, granddaughter to Baba Yaga herself. Great. Now the question is; is she dead, undead, or living? Two of those say this is the strongest defense we are going to meet. The first, that something in the room guards her, the other two that SHE is the guard."

    "Virtually everything we have encountered here has been evil in nature,” says Berenn. “If this evil slumbers, I suggest we let it do so.” He looks at Manny with a glance full of warning. “If you are going to do any searching of the room, I suggest you tread lightly."

    He nods, not needing the reminder. "I suspect the treasure we seek is on the woman, under the woman or is the lantern that hangs above her. Iggwilv would never make this easy."

    [Isilme OOC: Nuke her from orbit...its the only way to be sure. This scene reminds me of the one with the Prince in the TOEE, the one we re-did twice.....that didn't go too well the first time.]

    Sir Godwynn and Emyn both use their Detect Evil abilities, and neither detects any evil within the chamber. Meanwhile, Isilme flies upward and above the party, holdling Maerthorlear out as she does. She then casts Detect Undead on the woman lying upon the alabaster slab. The result…she is most definitely undead!

    Emyn folds the screen, leaning it back against the wall that you can see. Gotrek had entered, and he stands at the edge of the balcony, gripping Goreblade tightly, his muscles bound in expectation of danger. Sir Godwynn and Emyn stand behind him. They both concentrate on the chamber, the woman, the lanthorn, attempting to detect evil. They can sense no evil at all.

    Manny had moved up and glanced in, then went back to the picture again. "It is the same woman as in the picture," he says.

    "I must see this," says Elrae, who moves up. He pushes passed Thorgrim and Gotrek, stopping dead in his tracks when he sees the majestic lanthorn hanging before him. Thorgrim hears him, his voice barely more than a whisper. "By the Gods," he gasps. "Daoud's Lanthorn."

    "Part of our mission was to destroy evil artifacts,” says Emyn. “I would say that lantern likely qualifies.”

    Elrae turns incredulously towards Emyn. "Are ye daft, man? Our mission is NOT to destroy artifacts. We are simply supposed to keep powerful magic from falling into the hands of the Iuzians. And the Lanthorn is certainly not evil. The tales that have come down speak only of its marvelous healing powers!”

    Elrae recovers from his awe, then tells what he knows. “Daoud was once the philosopher-pasha of Tusmit, a wealthy and well-respected man in his youth. In middle age, however, he lost everything. He was reduced to begging on the streets far from his homeland. He became a mendicant priest of Istus and contemplated the harshness of Fate before arriving at his radical new philosophy. When Daoud was stripped of his wealth, he decided that the Four Feet of the Dragon which define Baklunish society - piety, honor, generosity, and devotion to family - were mere ostentation. In their place he proposed four superior virtues: honesty, humility, piety, and endurance. He called this new philosophy the Path of the Seeker.

    His name is associated with the lanthorn, which supposed had wondrous healing powers. Its last known location was in Lopolla, Ket over a hundred years ago.”

    Gotrek snorts, his nose rings chiming. “Well, she’s undead, so let’s destroy her anyway!”

    Hepla casts Detect Magic. The hanging lantern is VERY magical, so much so it almost hurts her! The censer with the incense is magical. The sword is magical, as is the armor.

    Isilme casts Detect Invisible and scans the entire chamber. She discovers nothing.

    We'll have to awaken that lass to leave here, I suspect," says Thorgrim. "She must be a guardian. How will we fight her, from this ledge? How will she fight us? Disturbing the artifact or calling her name three times might do the trick. I wonder why no Evil was detected?"

    "Emyn my dear,” says Hepla. “Let me use that scroll you have." She will use the Scroll of Wizards to determine what sort of magic is at play here.

    "Good idea dear,” he replies. He takes it out of his pack and hands it to her. “Here you go. It was meant as a present for you anyway, so please keep it."

    “I have a few stakes,” muses Thorgrim.

    The old Isilme returns for a moment as she replies, "Chop her head off and torch her...its the only way to be sure."

    "Let's figure out what it is first,” says Emyn, “but that might not be a bad idea when the time comes."

    Hepla takes the scroll, stands at the front of the balcony, and uses it. It reveals the magic in effect, streaming from the Lanthorn. The magic is a combination of three spells: Lesser Healing Rays, Cure Disease, and Neutralize Poison.

    Isilme flies back over to the group, floating next to the balcony. “Through divination, Elistraee has revealed to me that this undead is unlike any other we have encountered. She is not innately 'evil' as undead are, and hence why your detection may be working. In fact, her aura she seems more like us among the living in this aspect, with varying gradients and thus harder to pin down. There is more to her than appears on the surface, we should not jump to any immediate conclusions."

    "She may not be evil, but her at least half-brother is the Old One,” says Manny quickly. “And her mother consorted with Demon Lords. We have no idea who her father was, but he was unlikely to be some powerless peasant. That 'hunger tragic' sounds like a real problem as well." He shakes his head. “I do not know what she is, but I cannot help feel a sense of dread, deadly and dangerous.”

    "I don't recall a time when the undead have been on friendly terms,” replies Berenn grimly.

    Gotrek spits. "Common sense, laddie."

    “What about Elrae’s Sunfire spell?” asks Emyn. “Undead hate the sun.”

    “If undead hate the sun,” says Manny, “then why is it being bathed in Healing Rays spell? That spell causes "a beam of healing sunlight” to caress one. Why isn’t it hurting her?”

    Isilme flies back to check the Lanthorn, but sees no way to unhook it, no clasps or open links. She checks the walls next. The walls are very smooth, too smooth for even a thief as skilled as Noot to climb. Finally, she looks at the floor around the slab. The flat bottom is only large enough for maybe two people to stand to either side of the alabaster slab and one at each end.

    Noot, pulling a rope out of his pack, says, "Hey -- why don't you hold this rope and I'll climb down and take a look."

    "Let me come with you, Noot,” replies Sir Godwynn quickly, “in case she isn't as friendly as we might hope."

    "Did we all get stupid during this adventure?” asks Berenn with an incredulous look. “We are supposed to be searching for Iggwilv’s treasures to keep them from The Old One, whose minions have arrived I might add.” He points above them for emphasis, then waves an arm towards the undead figure below. “Why are we disturbing this undead?”

    "I thought we were here to keep powerful magic items out of the Old One's hands," replies Manny. He points at the Lanthorn. “That certainly qualifies!”

    ""What better reason to steal the Lanthorn?” question Elrae. “Why don't we just have someone try to steal Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn without waking Princess Raven-hair,” says Elrae. “It's worth a shot if no one else has any ideas."

    Berenn nods at him. “I cannot believe I am about to say this, but for once I agree with Elrae.”

    “There are just too many questions,” says a quickly getting exasperated Thorgrim. “What's in the porcelain vessels? What is the function of the censer/brazier? Its smoke could be keeping her subdued, with the Lanthorn keeping her alive? What would happen if the brazier were extinguished?”

    “I am going,” says Noot. “We need to take a closer look.” When Berenn starts to speak, he quickly adds, “and I will not touch anything.”

    Godwynn moves forward to follow. “And I shall protect him,” says, shield out. “The Shield of Light has a decent chance holding off potential undead should that be the case.”

    The others nod assent, the two descend to the bottom. Noot finds no apparent traps, but he does find a secret compartment in the side of the slab. After making sure it's not trapped, he opens it.

    "Uh," I think you should see this Isilme," he says, looking inside.

    Berenn sighs. “Thanks for not touching anything,” he mumbles.

    Isilme flies down and looks inside. She finds that the alabaster slab is hollow. It is also lined with some kind of strange reflective material. There is only one spot not so lined, and it on the top, a small square hole. She can see the back of the woman’s upper torso through it, and she notes it lines up perfectly with her heart. Sitting on a small block inside the hollow is what look like a small cage. There is something inside it, and it looks like a very small version of the positive energy creature you encountered before, in the Soul Gem. Though seemingly trapped inside the cage, it yet gives off a steady glow of positive energy.

    “Whatever we do, we must not leave the Lanthorn to Iuz’s agents,” says Elrae.

    “I don't want to leave anything useful behind for them, period,” snaps Manny, obviously getting frustred. “There is a mystery here, though, that may be useful to solve. If the woman is imprisoned for being a threat to The Old One, then releasing her would be beneficial. Then again, she may just be a threat to us. But if there is any chance to release a problem upon The Old One, it is worth trying for.”

    “I am starting to think that hole through to her heart is the perfect size for a wooden stake,” says Thorgrim, getting another nod from Gotrek.

    “Iggwilv set this up,” says Manny, so there must be a foul purpose here. But is it to keep her trapped? Keep another trapped? Power the complex?”

    “I still think we are overthinking this,” says Emyn. “I suspect both the woman and this energy monster are just layers of protection and something else lies beneath. Who knows how many levels of protection are involved. I do think the first thing that needs to get done is get that lantern and stick it in the portable hole, even if it means dumping something out to make room. I bet someone strong like Isilme with her belt could break that chain and make off with it. After that we deal with what comes.”

    “Has anyone thought that maybe some good forces trapped her here?” asks Hepla.

    “I had considered it,” replies Emyn, “but given the unrelenting evil we've found here and the legends I find it unlikely.”

    Isilme seeing the parties murmuring seem to darken. "Nobody is harming this woman outright,” she says, standing up. “Let me see if I can rouse her, and I will take the brunt of what happens on my shoulders. Clearly this whole setup with the healing rays above and the positive energy below were meant to do something beneficial for her daughter - but after 100's of years we still sense that she is undead - this may have been a failure.”

    The others seem to consider, then a few are ready to reply, but Isilme waves them off.

    “I agree to the point if we can't figure this mystery out, we are not leaving a major artifact for dark forces to acquire either,” she continues. “I don't care what it's doing for this lady, it's simply not an option!" she says with an emphatic finality.

    “Whatever we do, we need to do it soon,” says Berenn, looking up as if he could see the Iuzians on the levels above.

    “Wait!” says Isilme quickly. She points back behind the party. “I sense undead, coming behind you!”

    Everyone turns. “What do you sense?” cries Emyn. Noot starts to quickly climb back out.

    “I cannot say,” she answers, floating up. “Only that it is and comes towards us.” She then casts Invisibility again.

    [DM OOC: Detect Undead has a long range for her, but only gives indication and direction, not type or strength or anything else.]

    Berenn draws Bonefire and moves to the rear. “This could be Iuzian vanguard,” he says.

    Gotrek takes out Goreblade and moves beside him. “Good!” he says grimly.

    As they stand ready, a dark shadow appears at the far doorway. As it gets a bit closer, you recognize it is a shadow. You have seen many of them before, some summoned by Isilme. However, this one speaks, and none have EVER done that!

    "Ah, you have found Iggwilv's treasure," it says in clear common tongue which obviously does not belong to the creature. "My Master will be pleased when we bring it to him."

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:06 am; edited 5 times in total
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    Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:08 am  

    Thing are REALLY about to start happening here!

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    Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:28 am  

    Well, things are really going to start happening . . . once you finish that bacon and mushroom sandwich, anyway. Laughing Evil Grin
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    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:05 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    Well, things are really going to start happening . . . once you finish that bacon and mushroom sandwich, anyway. Laughing Evil Grin

    Actually, it was a ham and cheese croissant! Wink

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
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    Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:54 pm  

    ragnar wrote:
    Actually, it was a ham and cheese croissant! Wink

    Noooooo! Ragnar changed his . . . sandwich! Eileen must be heartbroken. Evil Grin Laughing

    Keep it coming, my friend. I'm planning a "return" to writing. Perhaps I'll post a couple on CF. Wink
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    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:24 am  

    As we left our stalwart band of heroes, they were within the circular chamber at the heart of the Great Caverns. Thanks to Isilme’s “Detect Undead” spells, they were alerted to the approach of a shadow. However, this was no ordinary shadow, for it spoke!


    "Ah, you have found Iggwilv's treasure," it says in clear common tongue which obviously does not belong to the creature. "My Master will be pleased when we bring it to him."

    "Tell your master the only thing he will have is death,” says Emyn. He is about to charge, when a dark, billowing, cloud of black smoke pours forth from the shadow, quickly enveloping the entire area. Emyn cannot see, and the noxious cloud which smells of death causes [14] damage to him. He hears eerie laughter from the shadow.

    [DM OOC: Noot is at the bottom of the sphere while Isilme is near the lantern flying invisibily. Elrae, Gotrek, and Sir Godwynn are on the balcony. Everyone else is in the hallway, between Emyn who is at the end, and the balcony]

    "The Death Smoke of the Necromancer," says Irvil, voice tinged with fear. "The Iuzians are here!"

    "Sounds like we have run out of time,” replies Berenn, drawing Bonefire. “We are either taking the artifacts with us now or leaving them for the Iuzians."

    “To hell with this!” exclaims Emyn as he backs out of the smoke. “Time for action.” He then closes the doors.

    “That’s action?” says Gotrek, astonished. “Seems more like cowardice.”

    “We must buy time,” says Emyn, nearly shouting. He points down towards the woman inside. "That woman is Iggwilv's daughter. I think those things around her are trying to cure her somehow from her vampirism. Even an evil bitch like Iggwilv can love her daughter. I think we need to let those things be. Messing with them now will cause no end of trouble. We are better off to either close these doors and defeat the Iuzians in battle now, leaving the woman until later.”

    “Her name was Drelnza,” says Manny. “She was supposedly killed by Iuz way back before he became a demigod.”

    Hepla calls down to Noot. "Any chance that the platform is actually a doorway to something below?"

    Noot gets a strong whiff of the incense, and he suddenly drops to the floor. Isilme checks him out, being the only one who can, and realizes he is fast asleep. The Everburning Incense seems to cause sleep.

    "Everyone down in the bowl!” shouts Emyn. “We need to shut those other doors!"

    "I will NOT cower in a hole," says Sir Godwynn. "And I will not leave our dwarven friends to die alone outside." He strides to the doors, pushing passed Emyn who sounds almost panicked. When he gets to the doors, he pauses and looks back at the rest of the party.

    Gotrek grunts, then smiles and walks up next to Sir Godwynn. “Open them,” he says, then he starts to sing.

    Isilme revives Noot, then speaks. “Again, while it pains me to say so, I suggest we leave her be with the healing artifacts and incense, search the room and take the rest. With our enemy at the gates, our best defense is to re-set Iggwilvs traps and make our stand against the evil that faces us. We need to exit and shut these doors."

    "From the background on her, I doubt she is going to be friendly to the Iuzians,” replies Berenn. “I think we need every friend we can get. I still say remove the incense and see if she revives. This is a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If removing the incense does nothing, then we can leave her and go fight."

    "But if you are wrong, we face an enemy within and without,” cautions Isilme. “Let us heed the warning and leave her be. We can always find a way to monitor things here later. "

    Thorgrim nods, then walks down and stands behind Gotrek. "We are with you, Sir Godwyn," Thorgrim says. "I also do not wish death upon our allies." He moves to assist Godwyn with the door.

    Sir Godwynn nods to Thorgrim, then opens the door. The smoke is gone. With Sir Godwynn's shield emitting light, you see nothing in the caverns before you. Meanwhile, Berenn casts Negative Plane Protection.

    "They have returned to their masters to report finding us," Thorgrim whispers. "Either that, or they lie in wait for us to exit these chambers with our prize. We should Detect Invisibility before exiting."

    Back on the landing, everyone has left the chamber. Some still argue to revive the woman, if possible, but Isilme denies them. "I refuse to rouse the daughter of Igilwiv,” she states flatly. “Much care has been taken here, I believe to give her a chance to overcome the dark forces that strive to take her true life. I would not take that away from her even if it means leaving the lantern here for a bit longer. The fact that the lantern is found is a great victory in itself."

    "Fine,” says Emyn. “Then we take the fight to the enemy.” He drinks his potion of extra healing to get rid of the damage he has taken and then follows Godwynn. “Let us pray we succeed.”

    Sir Godwynn waits patiently, but when he hears the continued discussions he sighs. "I am going to find Delaim and the Azcral," he says. He then strides off in their direction.

    Feeling she has done her part to help the sleeping daughter, Isilme follows Gotrek and Sir Godwyn out. "I follow Gotrek,” she says grimly. “There is a time to fight and a time to talk. We need to repel this evil force." She drinks her heroic potion that increases her hit points.

    Hepla says, "I agree that we should not wake the lady even though I have the herbs that will probably do it as you just saw. If this is our last stand, it has been a pleasure working with you. I do ask one thing. Whomever is our last person break my staff. eYou will probably feel nothing but it might b powerful enough to vaporize a good part of this mountain and everyone and everything in it. We will never know but certain things will not fall into the wrong hands." She then gives Emyn a kiss that makes him want to live.

    Emyn tells her, "Stay close to me. If things go badly, you and the baby will need to escape. "

    Gotrek is aware who is with him, despite his talks earlier. His singing gets louder. And more violent. Spittle hangs off his beard. His nose ring shakes in anticipation. His eye bulge. And Goreblade sings along with his master, as Gotrek paces forward....

    Thoughts start to dim, as the rage seeps in. But two words. Clangeddin. Clariece. He hears a howl from Hell. He belatedly realizes it is him. Then, all goes black, as he looks for something to send to his deity.

    Elrae still wants to get Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn. "We can't leave it here. If moving it wakes up Iggwilv's daughter, then so be it. Spell casters up high in the balconies, melee types down in the bowl, just stay away from the smoke. I could use Snowfang to extinguish the flames of the brazier, there's a 50% chance of this working. Just feed me one of Hepla's shrooms if I pass out."

    “To hell with it!” says an exasperated Isilme. “Fine, do what you will. I am going with the dwarves.” She then flies on after them.

    While half the party is still discussing what to do in the sphere, for those who went to check on the Azcral dwarves, they turned out to be ok. A couple scouts were up above, watching the area of the destroyed bridge. They are still there, and haven't seen anything. Once Isilme returns and reports, Delaim reasons that the undead you saw came from another route, either by means of the Behir cave or some other place you have not yet found.

    "Either way it is bad, as we do not know where they are or where they may appear," he says. "We are blind, and they are not. Never a good thing before battle."

    It isn't long before Orili makes his way to the dwarves.

    "Orili!" they cry, and a bunch go up and bear hug him.

    "I thought ye trapped above," says Delaim.

    "Aye," but I seen that witchy woman Hepla go off looking for a way in," he replies. "Then a big dragon thing and some flying beasts attacked the Iuzians." He chuckles a bit, "tore right through thems that were outside," he says. "Until their leaders appeared." He then looks serious. "There was one threw lightning and fire at it. Thought he was a warrior by his armor, before that." He shudders, "never seen such destruction. Then the leader, Melchor they said he was, just pointed a finger and slew the biggest of the flying creatures. The rest tried to run, but another wizard, a flying elf, blasted them with lightning too. It was over quickly. I decided it was better to not hang around, so soon as it got dark and slipped away. I found where the big dragon thing laired, a long wide tunnel in the mountainside that wasn't easy to get to, believe that! But I got there, and it led me back here."

    He hands over the Farspeaker to Delaim. "Before I left, I heard 'em talking about their scouts finding a large archway and they sent most their troops there. They don't seem to know about crossing the underground river."

    "Information and communication are critical at this juncture,” says Isilme. “And we really need a good strategy and cohesive battle plan to repel the invaders." She casts Farspeaker again and hands out the boxes to the others. "I will fly out and report on the enemy, and ensure we still have an escape"

    Isilme flies off, and the rest wait impatiently. Meanwhile, back at the sphere.

    "I can light a candle of telepathy and try to reach her mind,” says Hepla. “I do not know how the candle will interact with the candle already burning."

    "This is worth a shot,” says Berenn. “If we can contact her first, it would be advantageous. Just be careful what you think to her."

    “Hepla, that sounds like a good idea,” adds Noot. “We really need info about this lady. I suspect she is the key to all that is going on."

    "Most of the questions I would have would revolve around her intentions and how she came to her current resting position,” says t he usually quiet Vaddarra. “Start there.”

    Hepla sets up the candle on the ledge she has been on, settles down on the floor, and lights the yellow candle. It burns for about 10 minutes before she can start. With a look towards the others, she begins…..

    "Hello, my name is Hepla, my friends and I have found you just ahead of a party that we believe your brother has sent out to destroy you and raid the treasures here. We want to be your allies and not allow those things to happen. Is that possible?"

    Hepla doesn't hear anything at first, but then the somewhat confused mind of the woman begins to talk back. At first it seems she thought this all a dream, but Hepla soon gets her to understand that this is real.

    "I am Drelnza," she thinks to Hepla. "Daughter of Iggwilv." She can't understand why she cannot see anything or where she is.

    “Drelnza,” replies Hepla. “You are in a room( she will give the compeate discription) and appear to be under the influence of a candle that is burning incense of sleep. I think it is a century candle, but it is almost burned out. I cannot tell how many years it has left. You are being bathed by healing rays and positive energy. Do you remember who put you here?"

    “No,” she replies. “I remember leading the campaign to put down a Perrenlander revolt for my mother. I then met my brother Iuz on the road back, but I cannot remember anything else.” When she hears of the century candle she asks, “What year is it?”

    Hepla looks at the others, then after a nod from Berenn replies. “It is 582.”

    “97 years!" she shouts mentally! Hepla then senses much anger, anger such that she has never sensed or felt before.

    “Easy Drelnza,” thinks Hepla. “Please, we are here to help if we can. Do you want to be released and if we do that will you agree to work with us and not to attack us?"

    As Hepla says this, Drelnza sits up on the slab. She looks around, taking in all the others. "I need no help," she says darkly.
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    Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:07 pm  
    PART 44 – The Enemy of My Enemy

    "I am Hepla,” says Hepla aloud. “We have been talking. I am glad you have such power, this can mean that together we can defeat your brother's army."

    "The Old One brings minions to slay you,” says Emyn quickly. Drelnza is armored from toe to neck in gold chased plate mail. She picks up the long bastard sword that was atop her body, looking at it, then runs a hand over her great helmet, through the plumes black as her own hair. Her pale face seems composed. Her lips are bright red and her raven-hued tresses are lustrous.

    “They have penetrated your defenses here in the Horn of Iggwilv and are gather near some sort of arch,” continues Emyn. “We can aid one another and perhaps by doing so, allow the healing work your mother started here to be completed. I propose an alliance that serves both our needs."

    She looks up at Emyn, is about to speak, then notices the Lanthorn for the first time. "Beautiful," she says. "So warm." She shakes her head, like one just waking up from a long sleep. She then stands up, sword in hand, and looks back at Emyn. "What healing work?" she asks. Her grip tightens on her sword, and she continues. "And what of my traitorous brother?"

    "We believe your mother placed you here after you were transformed into a vampire by your brother or through some other means,” says Emyn, rambling on quickly. “There is this lanthorn that is sending healing rays onto you and also some sort of a positive energy being in the bed you were laying upon. We believe that she wished you to be returned to normal life rather than lose you to the darkness. It seems your mother loved you a great deal to take such pains to restore you. The Old One has been sending agents to steal objects of great power and also destroy his enemies. Already his drums are beating towards war. We think He is coming here to slay you and steal this lanthorn as well. We would prefer not to see either of those things happen for everyone's sake."

    She listens to Emyn, then sheaths her sword. "My brother introduced me to a friend of his. Maskaleyne. Tall and pale, I thought him of Suel lineage. I remember now. I could not resist him, thought he was incredible. He....he was a vampire." She looks down, and for the first time she notices her pale skin. "By the gods..." she whispers, her voice trailing off.

    "I can only imagine how terrible your situation is," Berenn begins, "but your mother's design was restoring you to human form and we will assist in returning to your stasis once this threat has ended. We will do our best to ensure no one else disturbs you until the process is complete."

    "I remember," she says, ignoring Berenn, seemingly not having heard a word he said. "He bade me go to the Heart, and I could not resist. Me, Drelnza, a mere thrall!" She slams her fist down on the table, cracking it straight across the top.

    Shocked by her strength, Berenn puts a hand on his holy symbol. Emyn, however, seems not to notice as he drones on.

    "The forces arrayed against us may well include him among their number. Is there a way for you to control the denizens of this place and bring them against them? We have a small force of dwarves to aid us. You clearly are a fearsome commander and your knowledge of battle tactics and this fortress would be a great asset. There are also a few Velnuese who seem to have gotten themselves lost somewhere too who might be of help. We would appreciate your thoughts and counsel."

    "My mother," she says quickly, staring at Emyn. "Where is she?"

    "We do not know,” says Hepla, a quick glance at Manny to stay quiet. “We were not looking for her."

    "Then why are you here?" she asks. "She stares at Emyn. "Tell me!”

    When Emyn doesn't answer, she gets angry. She puts a hand on her sword and turns to Hepla. "Tell me what I wish to know," she says.

    "We were looking for ancient treasures," Berenn starts. "And a party from Veluna that went missing. The army of Iuzians came here as. We are opposed to allowing them to lay their hands on the lanthorn."

    "We do not know where your mother might be,” adds Emyn, “though there was a shrine to BaBa Yaga far above in the mountain. There was a very strong presence there. We only know what we have learned as we came here and investigated.”

    "Miss Drelnza,” interrupts Hepla. “My friend and my husband speaks the truth; finding you was a surprise. We sought artifacts and the lost party. Anything else was above and beyond what we were looking for. Your mother is not here, as far as we know. This is quite a clever place that you were hidden in, and it took us some time to open these doors. Meanwhile, the Iuzians have gotten close."

    Manny finally speaks. He cannot do otherwise. “Your mother is dead,” he says with grim finality. Her empire was thrown down a hundred years ago, and she was slain by demons of her own summoning.” He crosses his arms and has a feeling this entire thing is going to go bad.

    The dwarves return, and Thorgrim stands above, watching. He feels the wooden stake in his belt. He thinks of putting it back away, decides against it.

    This doesn’t pass unnoticed by Drelnza, though she says nothing. After learning what you know about her mother, she seems to relax. She studies those around her, then finally speaks. "So, my mother is gone, and you are but treasure-seekers," she says.

    "We are not thieves Drelnza and have no intention of stealing anything from you,” replies Berenn.

    "Nay, Drelnza. We are more than mere treasure seekers. As well as searching for a missing party, I am here to kill as much vermin as my skills and my axe will allow," Gotrek says. “And take whatever I find that aids my quest.”

    "I care nothing for my mother's toys," she replies. "If she is truly gone, then there is nothing left here for me. Take what you will." She starts to move, then stumbles weakly and has to reach out and steady herself on the alabaster slab.

    "If you insist." Elrae eyes the Wondrous Lanthorne.

    Berenn sees where Elrae's attention lies and rebukes him, "Perhaps you missed the part where I said we weren't thieves Bard?” he hisses.

    "Oh I'll just borrow it for a little while, maybe 60 to 80 years,” replies Elrae flippantly. “What's that to the undying. Imagine the lighting for the stage with this.” He notes Berenn’s frown, then smiles and adds, “At least we can use it to help defeat those evil Iuzian thralls."

    Noot, who had been listening to all this in silence, quietly smiles. "And the army gathering outside?" he asks.

    "Regardless of the location of your mother, who I doubt is truly gone given who she is, the threat to you is real,” adds Emyn. “If the Old One gets this lanthorn or control of you, then none are safe in this world. We have a score to settle with these Iuzians, that is true, but our true purpose of coming was not to be tomb raiders. It was to rescue those who came before us and make certain the Iuzians failed in their task of taking Iggwilv's treasure, which according to your mother's writings was in fact you, and also to prevent them from getting the Lanthorn. I ask you humbly to work with us. Your mother left many minions here, including dragons and a death tyrant. If you can somehow rally them to your defense, the Iuzians will be hard pressed to win."

    Drelnza looks at Emyn quizzically. "Who is this 'Old One' of whom you keep speaking? What is he to me? And by Iuzians, I can only assume you mean my brother's minions, though I fail to understand how he too lives after all this time. He must be over 100 years old!" She shakes her head, obviously unsure what to make of things.

    "The Old One is one of the names of Iuz and without going into too much detail, certain parts of the world revere him as a demi-god."

    "Your brother is also known as the Old One,” confirms Manny. “His form has twisted and aged over the years since you last saw Him, and he has gained some semblance of godhood, which may account for his age. He controls vast lands to the northeast of here where he sits on his throne of bones at Dorakaa. He spawns terrible evils of undeath into the world and seeks to dominate it all. Oerth will be covered with nothing but death and ruin if he succeeds.”

    After listening to you regarding her brother, Drelnza takes a very pensive stance. Then she pulls herself erect and proud. "Then we must stop him," she says. "This army you spoke of," she says to Berenn, "it is his minions?"

    "Yes, they are his followers." Berenn replies. "And since they are his followers, you would be more familiar than most with what terrible things they are capable of doing."

    Emyn interjects, "Aye, they are gathered supposedly at some sort of large archway right now. One of them is certainly a necromancer of some power. Our friend Isilme is scouting now to find out more information. They also know that we are here. The necromancer sent a wraith or something at us earlier. They also have some formidable warriors and strong mages from what we have been told with lightning magics."

    "When Isilme returns,” says Berenn, “we will make our final preparations. One thing is certain ... and Gotrek should love this ... no quarter can be given and none can escape. If someone survives and reports back, it will convince the Old One to send a larger expedition, but if there are no survivors they will probably go artifact hunting elsewhere deeming this place too dangerous to visit again."

    "I was here, but not often," she says. "This chamber I do not know." She looks pensive, then says, "The archway you speak of is in the Lesser Caverns. It leads eventually to the Heart of the Horn." She stops, lost in thought.... She looks around, taking stock of the items in the chamber, then turns away. "Let us leave this place and take care of my traitorous brother's minions."

    Berenn lowers his Rope of Climbing so she can get out, as Hepla asks quickly, “Mistress, what of the energy being?”

    Drelnza barely glances back, then shrugs. “I care not,” she says, then she just walks up, right up the wall as if it were level ground.

    “We can't leave the Lanthorn here,” says Thorgrim. “These traps are obviously insufficient to protect it. Earthquake might bury the whole place, but that's not guaranteed. And that's insufficient, as well.”

    Hepla casts Fly on Gotrek, who flies up, snaps the gold chain from the ceiling, and takes the lantern. He sets it carefully into Thorgrim’s portable hole, pushing it back behind the ladder without touching it. Noot takes the cage. The creature inside is only about 3" tall, and as he looks at it, he can see that it is a ball of energy with tentacles and what seem to be a couple eyes, but not really. It's very difficult to tell. He checks the door of the cage and finds that it is shut tight, though there is no lock. He has no idea how to open it.

    Meanwhile, Drelnza leaves the sphere and enters the caverns themselves. She looks around, then says, "this way," and heads north.

    We bring an enemy of our enemy, to aid in our fight," Thorgrim announces.

    You all soon reach the rest of the Azcral dwarves, who do not know what to make of Drelnza. Hepla makes introductions, but Drelnza seems unconcerned.

    "Milady, can you rally any of the denizens of this place to your aid as well?" asks Emyn.

    She laughs at Emyn. "These were my mother's haunts, not mine," she says. "And a hundred years ago. In any event, I spent most my time at the fortress of Duerngor, across the valley."

    "Ah, then we must wait for Isilme,” he replies.

    About this time, you hear a call from the dwarves by the stairs. "Trogs!"

    Hepla steps between Drelnza and the stairs, while Emyn moves to investigate. You have to go all the way around, via 4 (gargoyle cavern) and then through various tunnels. It will take a few minutes to get back there. Delaim sends Gilhak and another dozen dwarves too. Gotrek growls and heads off with the dwarves. Belak goes with him. "Let me at them!" says Gotrek.

    [DM OOC: Just so you know, there are 40 dwarves total. There are currently 2 dwarves setting up a scout position in the Behir cave. There are 2 up watching the destroyed bridge in the Lesser Caverns. There are 2 at the stairs between the lesser and greater caverns. A dozen others were with you just now, and they have gone running back to their companions at the bottom of the stairs to the Greater Caverns. That leaves another 22 dwarves there when the trogs attacked.]

    The dwarf that leads there is named Orrim, and he has the Farspeaker. He calls out again, "There are too many, we can't stop them!" You then hear him yell "Form Shield Wall!"

    Hepla stands with Drelnza and says, "Should we help them?" She is looking at Drelnza..

    She barely glances at Hepla, but seems unconcerned.

    "We should probably stay together at this point and follow the rest of the party,” says Berenn, watching Drelnza.

    The others finally catch up with the dwarves. Gotrek flies forward, passing Emyn, and crashes into the trogs, lopping the head off one with his axe. The trogs just flow by him, and though he hits a couple more as they pass, most just keep going. A few stop and swing crude weapons at him, missing, while the rest continue. They run passed Emyn, who also gets caught up with a few, while the rest run into the dwarves moving up behind you. Soon it's a big confusing melee. A trog leader stops more from coming your direction, instead getting them to go north. Another leader barks commands at the trogs fighting in the hallway, while some take off to the south, away from you, running down other passages.

    Gotrek takes out two trogs, and takes one club hit [5]. Emyn kills another trog, and is not hit himself. The dwarves and trogs fall upon each other with gusto. Lots of other trogs run off, and there is a stream of trogs coming from the direction of the rest of the Azcral. Some are small, evidently young, and some are females. They are not here to fight, but are clearly fleeing from something else, something that can make an entire tribe flee!

    Emyn enters full defensive stance, "something is wrong here. They are fleeing something!"

    The dwarves rally, all except Gotrek who is singing and doesn't notice. In fact, he charged singing, so he slips into his rage now. The slays two more trogs, and there are two attacking him. Belak is singing like Gotrek, but has not raged. He does slay a trog though, and takes a hit in return [5]. Another trog goes down, as does another dwarf. The rest run away. The dwarves following trogs hear Thorgrim yell and pull back. Emyn is still fighting two, but at full defensive, they fail to hit him. Trogs throw three javelins at Gotrek, one hitting [6]. Suddenly there is a further collapse from the area where the umber hulks caused a collapse earlier, which is the direction the trogs mostly were running. That area collapses, sending a billowing cloud of debris throughout the tunnels. Nobody can see anything!

    Thorgrim is able to save a couple dwarves that otherwise would have died. It takes a few minutes for the cloud to dissipate, and when it does the trogs are gone. The only ones left are a half dozen trapped down a dead end passage to the south. Gotrek is still raging, and he runs ahead toward the sound of more fighting. By this time, everyone else who was coming is there.

    Emyn follows Gotrek, who he finds bowling into the rear ranks of some more trogs, fighting against other Azcral dwarves. It's over in no time with the trogs scattering before Gotrek's fury. One runs back towards Emyn, while two others run south. The dwarves finish off the rest. Gotrek comes out of his rage when the last trogs are down and he's surrounded by dwarves. There are a couple wounded, but nothing too serious it seems.

    Meanwhile, those that did not run off continue to talk with Drelnza.

    "Drelnza,” asks Manny, “twice you have mentioned the 'Heart', why did the vampire send you there?"

    She looks back at Manny, as if she forgot where she was. She is obviously still confused, but she hides it well as she searches her memories. "He bade me free the wizard Tsojcanth from imprisonment," she says. "He attacked my mother, and though caught by surprise, she was still able to defeat Tsojcanth, leaving him barely alive on the floor of the chamber. The battle left her drained, however, bereft of her mightiest spells. Her demon lover, Graz’zt then chose this moment to strike. Yet even the mighty Graz’zt, in his hubris, underestimated the sheer power my mother had achieved. For hours the lovers battled, and the mountain shook with magic beyond the ken of most mortals. My foolish brother Iuz who had caused everything eventually attempted to interfere, but instead the chaotic energy mauled and deformed him. Truly, I thought him dead, as I thought myself to be. I do not know what happened after, for the next thing I remember is you waking me."

    "So something from the battle might still be there that your brother wants,” reasons Berenn. “For that matter, your mother likely still lives, or lived, so as to put you in that field. Clues would lie in the Heart, then, as to who won, what condition they were in, and the loser's losses. Do you remember anything else of the Heart that would help?"

    "It is all a blur," she says.

    "I would judge your brother decided to increase his power by removing his rivals,” says Manny. “You, your mother and possibly the Demon Lord. From what you say, he failed. And now he's trying to achieve what he failed to do the first time.”

    "This way," says Drelnza, as she starts to walk back towards the sphere.

    Manny, Hepla, and Sir Godwynn follow Drelnza as she makes her way to the chamber with the strange, glowing marble column.

    The cavern glows faintly blue, as if under the light of a fey moon. In the center of the cavern stands a flawless column of white marble with purple streaks that extends 20 feet from floor to ceiling. The radiance appears to emanate from the column. Thin rivulets of water trickle down the side of the cavern, helping give form to large crystalline growths that protrude from the walls. These crystals, anywhere from a few inches to a few feet, refract the blue glow, providing light by which to see.

    When Hepla sees it (this is her first time) she recognizes it as the same kind of witch magic as the shrine atop the flat-mountain which allowed her mother to transport her here.

    Drelnza continues to the other chamber. When she gets there she walks over to the Alabaster column and touches it. A fog suddenly starts to fill the chamber.

    Hepla says. "Wow, a teleportal, may we come with you mistress?" She moves close to Drelnza. She does not appear afraid of it.

    "Hmm, before we take off souldn't we bring as much strength with us as possible? It is better to be too strong, than to go to battle without needed support. Wars turn on small things. If the chamber we are going to matches this one, we could bring more warriors with us." Manny speaks, and as he does the fog engulfs Drelnza and Hepla. Sir Godwynn looks at Manny, then steps forward into the fog drawing his sword. Manny thinks to flee, then decides that he should watch after his friends, and he too steps into the fog. When it dissipates, everyone is gone.

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:08 am; edited 3 times in total
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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:09 pm  
    Part 45 – Another Facepalm!

    Isilme has returned, still invisible, to the party. She finds them confused after the scrambled melee with the fleeing trogs. They quickly piece together that half the party is missing, with Emyn having barely caught a glimpse of the party disappearing into the fog. He is back at the column trying to figure out how it works, when the others appear.
    He takes a farspeaker and attempts to call Manny. “Manny, can you hear me?”

    “Yes, Emyn,” he replies, much to the Guardian’s relief. “We have teleported through some fey magic I do not understand. A mist of some kind.”

    “Where are you?” asks Emyn. “What's happening? We are done with the trogs. But we cannot get where you are. "

    "Maybe you have to be a witch or spellcaster to activate it?” wonders Manny. “She just touched it and it worked. Maybe Isilme could work it? Just suggestions."

    Meanwhile, Isilme finds a wounded trog and tries to communicate with it. She finds it impossible, and gives up, slaying it instead. “Boring conversation anyway,” she thinks.

    Just then Emyn calls for her. She sighs and returns, as Manny is continuing. “Hepla just walked off with Drelzna through a secret door! Trying to figure how to open it.”

    “We have a choice to make,” says Emyn, getting more nervous by the minute. “Isilme, can you share what you have learned of the leaders, their composition, protections and anything else pertinent, please? We need to know before we blindly all follow the others.”

    She fills in the rest about what she saw when she spied the Iuzians. Outside the entrance to the mountains caverns are about 50 men, camped around two fires. There are at least two groups of gnolls patrolling, and she used her wand on them, though she didn't stick around to see the effect. There were a half-dozen zombie wolves guarding the entrance itself, along with a couple zombie orcs inside. There were some hobgoblin guards in the upper dungeon level. She used her wand on them, and they got into a fight which drew out one leader. He was a very strong man, in plate armor and wielding a great two-handed sword. He was commanded by another man she didn't see.

    The strong man's name was Deverell, and he made the hobgoblins stop fighting, after killing one. Isilme was thinking of doing something when the man then animated three dead hobgoblins as zombies. She had thought him a warrior, but he must have been a priest of Iuz. At that point she decided it wiser to slip away again. There was also an elf woman in the chamber, along with another woman who was sitting down. She only saw this woman's legs. So, four leaders in the throne room.

    [DM OOC: I want to make it clear that there are TWO throne rooms. There is the throne room in the upper dungeon level. That is where the four Iuzians leaders are. Oh, and there are a couple zombie orcs there and a zombie ogre too!

    There is also the throne room deep below, in what Drelnza called the Hollow of the Horn. This seems to be Iggwilv's "real" throne room. It is not to be mistaken for the one up in the dungeon levels.]

    Emyn says, "Though I am loath to do this, we really do need to think about attacking those leaders on the upper level. Maybe find a way to cause a distraction and draw some out so we can hit them piecemeal given we are also split. If we can remove the priest of the Old One from the field of battle, that might do us some good. The other option is draw them out, go after their other spellcasters instead, which will disrupt their rest and prevent them from regaining spells. If we are lucky, we can eliminate them entirely."

    Isilme’s voice interrupts him. “If you are expecting spell support from me you will be mistaken, my energies are close to sapped,” she snaps with irritation. “I did try to do exactly that, and make no mistake, those Iuzians are not to be taken lightly.”

    [DM OOC: missed some stuff about Isilme’s attempt to disrupt the Iuzians. She used her Wand of Highfolk and other magics, but her attempts were countered by even stronger reactions by the leaders. They had no problem slaying misbehaving humanoids, and then simply raising them as obedient zombies. She then decided to give up before they figured out she was around.]

    "Did anyone see where Ervil went?" Wonders Thorgrim. They look around and find no trace of him.

    The party looks around, but they find no trace of him anywhere. “Fine,” says Thorgrim. “We can’t worry bout him now. The Azcral should retreat to a central position near the pillar. Isilme stays with them to keep an eye on things and rest while the rest of us check out this level and search for Ervil.”

    “We are currently close to exhaustion,” says Emyn, “and divided again. And leaving the dwarves without our presence is a bad idea. If the Iuzians show up they will get wiped in a heartbeat and then turned into undead to pursue us.” He throws his hands up in exasperation. “Hepla, Godwynn and Manny are separated from us and with Drelzna. We have no way to get to them that we can discern. We have a group of Iuzians in the throne room on the upper level of the caverns. There is also a priest of Iuz and some peons near the front entrance. There is something below us where the trogs were chased from. We are slowly being encircled. The rest of us are exhausted and low on spells. We can either try to take on the enemy with minimal spell support, try and find the others, or we rest.” He looks around, arms crossed on his chest, waiting for somebody to argue.

    "Why are you intent on fighting?” asks Isilme, almost becoming visible again to emphasize her words. “What is the gain? Let us take what treasures we have found and begone! Through your folly the greatest threat here may have already walked away!"

    Stung by her words, Emyn snaps back. "These are some of the same miscreants who butchered a monastery full of defenseless Raoan monks. Vengeance must be meted out lest they do it once more."

    "Part of party is missing and we are heavily outnumbered,” answers Berenn, calmly. “Vengeance can wait for another day."

    Delaim looks to Thorgrim and Gotrek for their opinions. He has a high respect for Thorgrim's advice, but these dwarves have been pent up in their mountain stronghold for many years, and they also have an equally strong respect for Gotrek and his charge first attitude. Even Delaim is not old, as dwarves go, so all of these young dwarves are eager to get into a fight, whether or not that is the reasonable thing to do. So, Delaim waits to hear what your two dwarven party member think.

    Gotrek spits. "I think either way, we wet our axes wet with the blood of our enemies.”

    Thorgrim nods. "Isilme, stay here with the Dwarves, and see if you can figure out how to work that column. If you can, bring the lot of them with you. If no, stay here and await our return, and that of the others."

    "I will lead the rest of the party to explore the remainder of these caverns to see what caused that ruckus, and to extirpate any evil we find. Delaim, we could use a half-dozen or a dozen of your finest, to help protect Elrae and Berenn during spellcasting."

    "We came here to ensure the evil ones did not get the treasures of Igilwiv, and to find those of the goodly party that came here. Seems we have forsaken the people of the other party. Perhaps it's why the gnome left us, I was tempted to do the same with him earlier simply so we didn't abandon that quest. So, let us take the fight to our foes.”

    This time Isilme DOES appear. “We also came to get Igwilv's treasure,” replies Isilme. “Right or wrong you woke that treasure. No matter what she does in the heart of the mountain, do you truly believe the vengeance she reigns down will discriminate between us and the other forces? This place is a death sentence. While I am tempted to simply leave and ensure what little good we did here has value, I can't leave Hepla and our friends behind. Know this is the only thing holding me back, as the rest of you are choosing death for no reason other than the glory of battle.” She looks at Emyn and Gotrek, then turns to Thorgrim and continues.

    Thorgrim, if I can find our missing friends I say we beat a strategic retreat and you cause an earthquake with that weapon of yours that brings this mountain down around their ears, vampire and evil party alike!" She pauses. "If we all don't survive today, or see each other again, know it was my honor to fight by your side."

    "I have to agree with Isilme,” says Berenn, stepping over to her. “In hindsight, waking Drelzna was a folly and I don't think we should make another by entering into combat when there is no need. Our priority should be finding the rest of the party and leaving this place."

    The entire party meets up at the pillar, with the dwarves hanging back for support. When Isilme touches it, the magic activates. Fog begins to fill the chamber. Noot recognizes this as the same teleworking fog as before.

    "Here's our chance guys, back to the mists,” says Elrae.

    Emyn enters the fog, his sword out. As Gotreks starts to enter, Thorgrim takes the wooden stake from his belt and hands it to him. "I admire your loyalty, friend. You may join the rest if you desire. I will stay behind and ensure nobody ambushes us upon our returning. Come, Delaim, let us set up fort."

    As everyone else enters the mist, Elrae looks back. "Thorgrim, are you sure you want to stay here. Wouldn't the other dwarves be enough defense to prevent a sneak attack from the Iuzian?”

    "Nay, friend, my path lies here,” he replies. “I will hold down the fort for your swift return."

    Elrae nods solemnly. “You will be missed, and please join us as soon as you can." With that he enters the mist with Snowfang drawn.

    As everyone else enters, Thorgrim turns to the Dwarven leader. "Delaim, we Entrench right here in front of the Trog caverns, and prepare for attack."

    When the mists disappears, Thorgrim feels a hand on his shoulder and a familiar voice. He turns to see Isilme standing there. "I too stand by your side friend Thorgrim. Let us hold back the hordes. Besides, should you need to retreat or join the party, you will need my help to activate the portal."

    Thorgrim nods to her gravely. "Indeed, we may need your help, before the end."

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:13 pm  

    Sometimes I think this party's name should be the Facepalms, not the Heroes of Hommlet.

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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:59 pm  

    "Facepalms" sounds good! Evil Grin
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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:31 pm  

    That works! Laughing
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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:31 pm  

    I think the best was the triple face palm!

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:11 am; edited 1 time in total

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    Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:32 pm  

    Wow! How did your new post end up below mine? Shocked

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    Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:32 am  
    Part 46 – Cue Evil DM Laugh!

    Everyone except Isilme, Thorgrim, and Gotrek have now gone through the teleporting pillar. Thorgrim gathered the dwarves, and they prepare a defense of the main entrance chamber at the foot of the long stairs from the Lesser Caverns above. Guards were posted at the Behir caves as well as in the Lesser Caverns to watch for the approach of the Iuzians. Using the Farspeakers, Delaim checks on them constantly. Two dwarves were in the Behir cave; they didn't respond. Four were at the bridge in the Lesser Caverns, two watching the bridge and two with a Farspeaker watching them from the chamber with the stairs down. They didn't respond either. 32 other dwarves are with you at the bottom of the stairs.

    Assuming the Iuizians are coming, Thorgrim casts Entrench on the main cavern. Loose stones and boulders are magically arranged to form a defensible wall or rampart along the perimeter of the area of effect. [DM OOC: Those behind the wall receive 75% cover (+7 bonus to AC), or 50% cover if they expose themselves by firing missiles or defending the wall. In hand-to-hand combat, the wall's defenders receive a +1 bonus to attack rolls; man-sized attackers must spend one full round in climbing over the wall in order to enter the fortified area. Enemies take 2 full rounds to get over the barrier.]

    The dwarves take up defensive positions in the area, using the newly created fortifications.

    Two are watching the chute down leading to the troglodyte area, in case Iuzians come from that way. The plan to collapse a boulder over the chute, blocking it if necessary. The rest of the dwarves all man the wall. Thorgrim and Delaim stand in the center to give orders, while Gotrek stays in the NE corner, anchoring the flank towards the chute.

    "This is fine," says Delaim, though he has no real first-hand combat knowledge, certainly not like Gotrek. "But I am concerned with our flank, the Behir cave. We lost contact with Thurric and Whurvar too."

    “Isilme?” asks Thorgrim. “Can you check that out?”

    Isilme sighs. "I will see what information I can collect for you ‘General’ Thorgrim."

    She flies to the ceiling and will carefully make her way to the Behir cave to observe, then most likely check the tunnel and report depending on what she sees. She thinks the options are rapidly diminishing, and they will soon find themselves between hammer and anvil.

    She does not note the presence of enemies. She finds the two dwarves though. They are both dead, their throats slit. She finds the farspeaker with the dead dwarves in the Behir cave. There is one unaccounted for, the one with the dwarves that were watching the destroyed bridge.

    She continues on, checking the end of the tunnel. When she gets there, she finds a large group of goblins just entering. They are led by a priest of Iuz with some kind of armor under his robes and strange linear tattoos on his bald head, and another woman with leather armor, a strange spotted cloak, and holding a bow with a knocked arrow.

    Just a quick image so you ane see them!

    They are just barely coming into the behir cave, about 200' away from Isilme. That's a good 10 minutes from the rest of the dwarves IF they head straight there. She uses the Farspeaker to report to Thorgrim; however, her voice is then interrupted.

    They all hear a voice coming across the Farspeaker. In fact, everyone who has or is near one hears it. It is a man's voice, cold and full of malevolent power. "Thorgrim Duerkas," he says. "Are you quite comfortable? Have you prepared your graves adequately?" The man laughs. "Little good it shall do you for you shall soon serve Our Lord Iuz."

    [Thorgrim OOC: Holy **** he knows Thorgrim's name!]

    [Berenn OOC: You’re famous!]

    "Nothing to say?" mocks the voice. "What of you, Lord Berenn Silverwood?" The voice laughs again. "You have come a long way only to die."

    Berenn picks up his farspeaker box. Though he is with those that travelled through the mist, they can still communicate. "First meetings usually warrant introductions,” he says calmly, though he clearly is worried now.

    "I am Melchor," replies the voice, "Chosen of Iuz. I shall be your death, though you shall all be reborn in the service of our Lord."

    As the dark laughter of Melchor echoes through the caverns, Isilme ends the Farspeaker spell, silencing all the boxes. "Boring conversation anyway,” she says.

    Isilme then heads back. She is about a minute away when a mist appears from the ground. It quickly billows out from a point roughly in the center of the fortified area and covers the entire cavern. All of the dwarves are in it except for the two that are watching the chute. Within the mist visibility is reduced to 10', and everyone takes 1d4 chill damage from it. Thorgrim takes [3] and Gotrek takes [4]. All the dwarves take damage too, and I'm just going to give them all [2] for sake of simplicity. Further, Thorgrim loses a point of strength. About half the dwarves loose a point of strength too, you can hear them groaning.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Ugh this entrenchment is a deathtrap! Haha I thought the zombies were upon us! Well, we know we're in spellcasting range. We don't see anything up the stairs? Oh yeah, 10’ visibility. Not sure how to handle this, without burning most all of Thorgrim's remaining spells, before the battle. Thinking....]

    [DM OOC: Think quickly!]

    Cue evil DM laugh!

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:17 am  

    "Abandon the Entrenchment!" Thorgrim shouts. "To the northwest! Gotrek, go with them, and get to the Magic Pillar. We'll wait for Isilme there."

    Thorgrim then casts Dispel Magic, and the fog suddenly clears! However, just as quickly, half the dwarves are covered in webs!

    [DM OOC: Thorgrim is caught, but Gotrek is not. Consider Gotrek to be just outside the webs, and as long as he moves the other way, he's free of them. He can move through them at a rate of 2'/round, which means almost not at all! Delaim is next to Thorgrim, and he too is caught. The dwarves to the south barely escape, as do a few others. And Belak, the would-be battlerager next to Gotrek, is also stuck.]

    Gotrek pulls him out this round! One of the dwarves watching the chute come up to Gotrek, wondering what's happening. The dwarves to the south are about to split when the webs entangle the rest. They are momentarily delayed, and then, down the stairs, comes the sounds of shuffling feet. Looking back up the stairs, they see a dark mass which, when it gets close, they see are a zombie horde. Leading the zombies are the four lost Azcral dwarves, now serving the enemy in death. Beyond them are zombie orcs.

    "Hager?" says one of the dwarves. "Is that you?"


    Thorgrim attempts to tear himself free. "DRAS," he says, and his dagger appears in his hand.

    "THEY ARE LOST!" Thorgrim shouts. "SLAY THEM ALL!"

    Isilme is Flying, Invisible, and has Stoneskin. She can just see the webs sticking into the southern passage as she approaches. She sees the zombies coming down the stairs and facing the dwarves. The press of the many zombies would likely overrun the dwarves, if not for the entrench spell. It breaks up their "charge" and keeps the great mass of them from being exerted inexorably against the dwarves and pushing them back. So, there was a purpose for the spell after all!

    [Thorgrim OOC: Hooray for Entrench!]

    Isilme casts Dispel Magic, ending the web spell! Thorgrim moves up to the front, pushing passed a couple dwarves, and eating the herbs Hepla gave him so he can see better. He can see about 40' up the stairs, before they are out of his sight, and it's full of zombies! However, they are slowed down by the stakes, then the wall. The dwarves are forming a shield wall behind the wall, giving them further defensive benefits and allowing double the dwarves to fight in close order. Two ranks can use spears, which means 8 attack the zombies each round. Four more zombies are killed, as more move up!

    "There is no way they will ever get through there," says Gilhak.

    Gotrek and Belak start singing, and they move up as well.

    A Stinking Cloud suddenly appears over the dwarves by the stairs. Many of the dwarves start to choke and cough. They will be unable to do anything for 2-5 rounds, while others within the cloud must retreat out of it or suffer the same effects. The coughing ones are circled. The area of effect of the cloud is the square. Thorgrim made his save. Right after that, a Darkness spell appears over most the dwarves. That is shown by the shaded black area. So, now nobody within that area can see.

    “We need to get to the pillar!” shouts Thorgrim, seriously doubting himself now.

    “You guys are far as hell from the pillar,” replies Isilme.

    Isilme casts Darkzone along the southern hallway to cover escape, then flies off to the southwest, planning on heading for the pillar.

    In Dwarvish, Thorgrim shouts, "Everyone standing in this cloud, grab a comrade and get out! Delaim! Lead your dwarves to the pillar! Gotrek, get over here!" Dwarves start trying to grab their comrades and pull them out as Thorgrim casts Rockburst. It blasts the zombies at the bottom of the stairs, and the entire area collapses in a mass of rubble, blocking the way completely and burying dwarves and zombies alike! He then falls to the ground, coughing and choking on the Stinking Cloud that now is affecting him!

    Gotrek and Belak run north, singing, and then climb up the wall. They are looking for the spell casters and circling around to the left, to come out behind the dwarves. They hear Thorgrim's call and pause for a moment when suddenly a huge fireball erupts back in the dwarf chamber. They hear the explosion, though he doesn't see it due to the magical darkness. It is followed by the agonized screams of multiple dwarves which gradually turns to soft moans.

    Thorgrim coughs, "GET TO THE PILLAR!"

    Isilme continues, flying fast as she can back to the pillar. Other dwarves are following, dragging their incapacitated companions. Gotrek continues, coming around a corner just in time to see a man in armor cast magic missiles from his outstretched hand. The half-dozen magical darts fly from his fingers unerringly hitting a dwarf dragging another wounded, smoking dwarf through the tunnels and killing them both. He turns hearing Gotrek's singing, and that's the last thing Gotrek can rationally consider before flying into his rage!

    Here is what the Iuzian Battlemage looks like:

    [Gotrek OOC: I look scarier!]

    Isilme stays at ceiling level and stops to look back and see if Gotrek and Thorgrim are among those coming out of the devastated area....

    She doesn't see anything, but notes Gilhak and some other dwarves coming out, then all of them fall to the ground except Gilhak. Gilhak checks them out, then takes up his axe, makes a dwarvish warcry, and charges back towards the northeast, out of her line of sight. She hears Gotrek's singing from that direction. With a grim smile, Isilme flies back towards Thorgrim. Thorgrim continues to choke and cough, and though Isilme cannot see him (he's in the edge of the bad guy's Darkness spell!), she knows basically where he is and tries to reach him.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek charges south, attacking the Iuzian battlemage. His blows simply bounce of the man's Stoneskin, and the man laughs at Gotrek's frustration!

    The battlemage backs up, spreads his and sending an arc of fire from his Burning Hands. Gotrek takes [14], but Gilhak takes [27!].

    Gotrek steps up, swinging madly but futilely as his axe slams against the man's Stoneskin! Belak moves up and attacks as well, also doing nothing.

    The battlemage looks concerned with Gotrek's ability to shrug off his Burning Hands. He "floats" backwards, revealing himself to be using a Fly spell, and then casts Invisibility, disappearing from view!

    Gotrek charges, swinging his axe wildly, but he hits nothing! “NOOOO!!!” Gotrek howls in frustration, looking for something to lash out at....

    Meanwhile, an extremely irritated Isilme flies to where she hears Thorgrim. She casts Breathable Air, enters the area, and finds Thorgrim and a couple of dwarves. She sees the collapsed area of the stairs, and the dead leg and arm of a couple dwarves sticking out. She helps Thorgrim and the two dwarves get out of the area, pulling them out to the south, out of the darkness and stinking cloud.

    "What?" Thorgrim looks confused. "What of the others? Where is Gotrek? Where is Delaim?"

    "Look around you,” says Isilme sadly. “The dwarves are lost. I can try and help Gotrek but if he is raging. How will I help? He may have literally bought you time to escape with his life!”

    “How many Azcral made it?” he asks, regaining his strength quickly.

    “I saw only a dozen or so,” she replies.

    “Delaim?” he questions, looking back.

    “No,” comes her invisible reply. She then continues, "Thorgrim, have you not had your fill of glorious battle yet?” she asks. “Send the dwarves to the pillar, and I will see what I can do to get Gotrek. Stealth and care is needed here, not more confrontation."

    Thorgrim addresses the remaining Dwarves. "Gather your companions and wait for us at the Pillar. We will meet you there. Avoid the Stinking Cloud. Get them out through the northwest side." He then speaks to Isilme. "Isilme! Give me two of your empty crystal vials." They appear out of thin air as she hands them to him, and Thorgrim fills the vials with sips of Invisibility Potion before handing them back. He then takes a sip himself, turning invisible. That leaves two in the flask.

    “Let’s go find Gotrek,” he says.

    “Thorgrim this is folly,” she begins. “I...,” she hesitates, there is a pause of silence that feels like an eternity to Thorgrim.... "Fine. We help Gotrek together. Know this...I go no further into this accursed Mountain." [Isilme OOC: Probably use that last phrase on her epitaph too.]

    Isilme drinks her Elixer of Heroic action and puts the empty bottle in Thorgrim's hand to fill with some Invisibility potion.

    [Isilme OOC: Two dwarves and a dark elf, back to back in melee combat against the unstoppable horde. Would make a great book.]

    "Isilme, your courage is as great as your intellect. I cannot fault your logic. But this is something I must do. I pray that I see your face again, somewhere far from this accursed place. I say this now in case there is no time to say it, later."

    "We will see each other again friend,” she replies, placing an invisible hand on Thorgrim’s shoulder. “Now let's help Gotrek!”

    Thorgrim can hear Gotrek to the Northwest, through the darkness. The sound of his angry singing is hard to miss!

    Isilme flies back the other way, and she ends up in the corner of the various passages where she finds 4 dwarves down. The three next to her seem to be ok with no visible signs of damage, and their loud snores tell her what happened: Sleep spell. To her right is another dwarf corpse smoldering on its back. When she gets closer, she recognizes it as that of Gilhak, Delaim's second in command. He is horribly burned and barely alive. Back to her right she sees Belak, Gotrek's protege, and Gotrek himself, venting his rage on the air and walls just shy of the darkness area.

    She faintly begins to hear the sound of steel on steel from back behind her, in the direction of the pillar and where the other dwarves were heading.

    "There's no telling who or how many escaped that damned chamber," says one of the dwarves as they follow.

    In a rare moment of mercy and kindness, Isilme channels the healing power of her goddess and gently uses her "lay hands" ability (using all her 15 points) on the burnt dwarf to revive him. [DM OOC: Good move, as he was at -9 hit points!]

    She whispers in his ear, "Rise friend dwarf. Waken your friends and make way to the pillar."

    Gilhak awakes, shaking his head. Isilme flies down by Gotrek, who comes out of his rage, slumping a bit, but not badly. He looks around, and she sees clear frustration on his face. Behind her, Belak sees Gilhak sit up, and he rushes to help him. Thorgrim and the other dwarves meanwhile awaken the other three. They don't know what happened, but they are all awake and standing now. They do not know the fates of anyone back in the chamber.

    Thorgrim passes out droughts of his Potion of Healing to any who need it. "All you get to the Pillar and await me there,” he says. “I have to go back and look for survivors, especially Delaim."

    "So, you are going to abandon the warriors that we did save,” replies Isilme sternly, “to chase after ghosts in the darkness? Suit yourselves,” she adds. “I will lead the others to safety.”

    “I’m sorry Isilme,” he says. “I can’t leave without knowing. I promise we’ll soon be back.”

    The dwarves move off towards the pillar, followed by an invisible Isilme who flies over them. As the get closer, they hear the sound of fighting.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim moves to Gotrek, and he is followed by Gilhak and Belak. They refuse to leave without seeing if they can rescue others of their kin. Thorgrim nods, then they all return to the scene of the battle. When Thorgrim reaches the darkness area, he flips his eyepatch. The Continual Light counters the darkness, and you can see the chamber. It is littered with dwarven bodies, most of them still smoldering from the fireball unleashed on them. A couple of them move slightly as the darkness disappears. In a couple of deep alcoves, there are some other dwarves, also badly wounded but alive. One to the south is frantically tending to two others which lie still on the ground.

    Across the chamber, Thorgrim spots movement. It looks like a shadow!

    Thorgrim hands his Potion of Extra Healing to one of the Azcral dwarves, saying, "Save whom you can!" He then shouts to Gotrek, “Shadow!” and moves to attack with Souldrinker.

    "I'm sorry, Isilme. I can't leave without knowing. I promise we'll soon be back." Thorgrim remembers the last words he spoke to Isilme. He says a silent prayer to Clanggedin, praying for revenge against the battlemage who dealt this destruction. He moves in for attack. If the Shadow withdraws, he'll not follow, but attend to his Dwarven allies.

    Thorgrim charges across and attack the shadow, hitting it with Souldrinker for [16], blasting away a portion of the shadow and leaving it visibly weakened. He then notes that there are two shadows, and they quickly swarm Thorgrim, with one hitting him with its cold touch [4 and -1 STR drain. That's two -1s to his str now.] A third shadow stands up from the corpse of a fallen dwarf. The corpse seems to shrink, shriveling in upon itself, and rising in its place is another, newly formed shadow!

    Gotrek moves up, takes stock of the situation, then moves beside Thorgrim to fight. Belak and Gilhak move up and aid their comrades, two more of which come out from nooks where they had taken refuge earlier.

    Thorgrim attacks, destroying the shadow before him with a swing of Souldrinker. Gotrek then hits the one before him, formed from a fallen Azcral dwarf [13]. The shadows attack, missing, while one backs off a bit and from it a dark malevolence flows, pouring over Thorgrim and Gotrek. They feel their strength's sapped, but whatever the magic was, they fight it off! [DM OOC: Luckily, they made their saves!]

    Thorgrim and gotrek both hit again, Thorgrim doing [9] and Gotrek doing [12].

    “What is this unholy thing?” says Thorgrim. You can hear the rubble in the collapsed stairway shifting.....

    Thorgrim and Gotrek both finish off their shadows this round, though Gotrek is struck causing [4 and a -1 to STR]. The last shadow left the area, disappearing into the darkness. The downed dwarves have been stabilized, but three are unconscious and near death. The rubble in the stairway shifts again, and you hear the sound of digging in that direction. The zombies are working to clear the way.

    Gotrek laughs. “Good, more to kill,” he says as he continues to fight.

    Thorgrim hands Gotrek his Potion of Extra-Healing. He then distributes his own potion in three portions, one to each Dwarf that is near death.

    "Get to the others, before it's too late," Thorgrim replies. “This is a fight we cannot win, but we can save as many as we can.” He looks towards the collapsed stairs. “Then we will have our vengeance.”

    Reluctantly, Gotrek agrees. He will not have his own recklessness cost the lives of any companions. Nevertheless, one of the dwarves dies, joining his companions in this cavern of death. Looking around, Thorgrim counts eleven dead dwarves, plus Delaim, who's body is badly burned at the center of the compound. He looks to have been at ground zero of the fireball, as his armor has melted right to him.

    So, it's Thorgrim and Gotrek, along with Gilhak, Belak, and another five dwarves. Thorgrim doesn't know how many made it in total, but he thinks it can only be about twenty. He is deeply saddened to leave the dead where they lay, but the sound of digging and rockfalls is increasing, and he knows he doesn't have time to do anything but leave.


    Meanwhile, Isilme and the dwarves see light around another corner, and the sound of fighting beyond. The dwarves charge ahead when they hear dwarven battlecries. They round the corner and find another group of their kin surrounded in a narrow passage. Goblins press them from both sides, and a couple are down, though so too are a half-dozen goblins. The dwarves are fighting back-to-back, when they enters the fray. They charge into the rear of the northern group of goblins, dropping four with their charge. The northern goblins now find themselves trapped between two forces and look about to break. The dwarves in the center give a shout as they prepare to bust through the goblin ranks.

    Isilme rounds the corner just as the goblins are about to break. However, two other groups of goblins suddenly make their appearance, flooding into the rear of the dwarves from the north and south, giving new hope to the goblins. The battle in the hallway now becomes a confused melee, with participants all mixed up.
    Isilme casts Chaos on the battle. All but one dwarf and all the goblins are affected. The result is complete confusion. Most of the fighting simply stops, though she sees a couple goblins attack their neighbors, a couple of dwarves at attacked by goblins and dwarves, and all the rest simply stand there dazed. Two goblins just walk off, one to the southwest and another to the North. She hears a man's voice speaking common that way, now that the sound of battle has basically stopped.

    "Where are you going?" he says. "Get back to the fight."

    "Something is wrong," says a female voice. Then you hear a loud crack, like a skull being hit with a mace!

    Isilme finds herself wishing Gotrek were here.

    [Isilme OOC: Got to admit, I'm really uncomfortable with the turn this adventure has taken and the ridiculous risks we have opted for. I don't think I have ever been this low on spells AND faced with TWO equal opponents - alone. I think I have officially had it, and to quote blazing saddles, "son, you're on your own."]

    She flies quietly and carefully to the corner to take a peek. It is the two leaders that she saw earlier. The woman wears leather armor made from some kind of spotted animal [DM OOC: it's a cheetah, but Isilme doesn't know that!]. She has an amused look on her face, as she watches the priest wipe the gore from his mace. She holds a shortbow, arrow ready in her fingers, and has another sheathed sword on her belt. She looks pretty capable, as much a warrior as a thief. The priest is a typical Iuzian priest, and exactly what you would expect from one of their depraved, ghastly ilk. He wears a long black robe, the clasp being a large skull symbol of The Old One. Beneath she sees the bulge of heavy armor. In one hand he wields a large, wicked mace.

    "Something isn't right," says the woman, her voice with a heavy, southern accent. "There's a mage around," she adds, scanning around. [DM OOC: BTW, some of the goblins were carrying torches. Just so you know, this area is lit with actual light.] The priest is suddenly serious as well, he free hand going to his unholy symbol as he begins a chant.

    Behind Isilme, most everyone stands confused. Another goblin wanders off to the south. Three dwarves kill two goblins in the north, right behind Isilme, and two dwarves wander off. One goes to the NE, where it will eventually run into the others returning from the east. The other one wanders SW and is jumped by some goblins which pull him to the ground and start beating him.

    Isilme also notes a light appearing behind her, shining brightly. It could only be Thorgrim!

    Isilme then casts Hold Monster on the priest. When the man doesn't respond to his companion, she looks at him. "Alton?" she asks, then reaches out with one hand and shakes him. He is held!

    Meanwhile, the three dwarves at the top which saved continue to kill goblins, and quickly the northern ones are mostly down. Another dwarf and some goblins down at the far end wander off while the rest just stand around confused.
    A few dwarves with Thorgrim stop to help the wandering confused one, which is shortly joined by another. The others, along with Gilhak, advance with Gotrek and Thorgrim. When they get around the corner and see the goblins, they rush to attack, except for Thorgrim, who sees the now visible Isilme. He notes she is looking north.

    Isilme ignites Maerthorlear's "Silver Strike" power and swoops down to attack "Cheetara".

    "Yo, she-bitch! Let's go!" she quips as silver filaments trail through the air and she begins the intricate steps of the battle dance on her opponent.

    Though Isilme misses when she attacks, the cheetah warrior nearly craps herself when she sees Isilme appear! She actually stumbles backwards, not prepared to run into a drow! She falls to the ground, but she quickly recovers, rolls over, and sprints away to the NE faster than Isilme has ever seen anything move!

    Meanwhile, Gotrek and the Azcral continue to attack the goblins, which fall under their axes like chaff. Though the dwarves and goblins in the south/center basically stand around doing nothing, the last few goblins turn and flee into the darkness, dropping their torches as they go! The three beyond the leaders flee too!

    [DM OOC: Well, Isilme may have missed, but she scared the crap out of the enemy. That's one way to win a fight!]

    “Wise decision," Isilme mutters after the running Cheetara. She then ends her "Chaos" spell for her Dwarven allies with a dismissive thought and takes a drink of invisibility potion, disappearing again. "Thorgrim and Gotrek my friends, this priest is held frozen for a few more minutes and is yours to do with as you see fit."

    "I do not like doing this, but this is about our survival,” says Gotrek, as he walks up to the priest. “Such an evil cannot be trifled with,” he adds, then with one swing of Goreblade he decapitates the Iuzian!

    Thorgrim, who was about to do the same, grunts in satisfaction. "Here, friend, heal while ye may," he says, and hands Gotrek his Potion of Extra-Healing to drink. Thorgrim then casts Detect Invisibility, to help us avoid being waylaid as we pull it together and make our way to the Pillar.
    They check the body, but it has nothing of interest except some jewelry which Isilme takes. They then head off to the pillar. Isilme activates it again, and you all go through.

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:14 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:18 am  
    Part 48 – Heart of the Horn

    Now that the rest of the party and their dwarven allies have been driven back by the Iuzian assault, I will return to those who separated from them earlier when they followed Drelnza through the teleportation pillar.

    They appear in a large cavern, hundreds of feet wide. It is carpeted with fungi of all varieties and spanning hundreds of feet in every direction. The walls glow with strange light, and silhouetted is a large stalagmite, roughly in the center of the cavern. There is a very palpable taint in the air which makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

    [DM OOC: Now, just so you guys know. I find pics online, adjust them best I can, so they are NEVER perfect. They are more for "feel" than anything else, so don't get all "oh, what is over there?" and such. When I use real pics, they are usually just representative of what you see. Still, I think this one works!]

    "Wow, this is really something,” says Hepla. “Are we going to that stalagmite over there? I should tell the others." she says.

    While Manny is talking to those left behind on the Farspeaker [see previous post], Drelnza starts walking across the cavern. "This way," she says.

    Manny and Sir Godwynn look at each other, both sensing a darker tone behind her words.

    "Say hi to Emyn for me," Hepla says as she walks next to Drelnza.

    Manny calls out, before they get too far. "Drelnza! Have you thrown off the compulsion? Think as the general I believe you to be, we need troops for fighting. We need the dwarves and fighters to hold off opposing forces while spellwork is done."

    Drelnza doesn't look back, but keeps walking. "You assume that I care," she replies coldly.

    "No, I assume that you want to win,” he calls back.

    "I plan to," she says, reaching the stalagmite. You can't see clearly what she does, but a secret door opens. She steps through, followed by Hepla.

    "Hepla!" shouts Sir Godwynn, who runs to the door. Unfortunately, he is too late, and it shuts before he reaches it.

    Manny moves up and investigates for the secret door. He puts a hand on the wall, and a 10-foot section of the rock face slides back, revealing the entrance to a hallway of smooth, worked stone. The red-tinged illumination shines down from the ceiling. At the end of the hallway is a large illuminated chamber. You can't make out much from here, but it looks like a large throne room or something.

    Manny and Godwynn move in down the hallway. The rough passage goes about 50', sloping slightly down before ending at a 10-foot-wide entry hall, the ceiling of which arches about 12 feet overhead. The rough cavern wall transitions to smooth, worked stone. At the end of the hall, a set of stone stairs ascends into a larger chamber with a high, vaulted ceiling. The floor is covered in an irregular array of what appears to be slate tiles covered in odd pictograms and distracting shades of color. The chamber is about 40 feet wide, stretching at least as far in, and in the dim light, a door is visible on the eastern wall. You hear music playing from the chamber, a haunting melody played by stringed instruments.

    "Uh, Hepla, some help here,” says Manny, speaking into the Farspeaker. “Which way did you go?"

    "Sorry," she replies back into her farspeaker, giggling. "We are in the throne room."

    Manny feels a strange itching sensation. He just realizes that he has been scratching himself since they entered. “Great,” he thinks. “Either the place is getting to me or I'm picking up parasites.”

    "Straight ahead," says Hepla. Sir Godwynn has sword and shield out, and he moves next to Manny as they move forward. Once they move up to the top of the stairs, they see that about 40 feet into the chamber is another set of stairs, again leading up. This time, they rise only 10 feet before opening onto a raised dais that comprises the northernmost section of the chamber. Against the far wall is an extravagant throne, gilt in gold and set against what appears to be the bright blue-green splay of peacock feathers. On either side of the throne stands a black statue, each depicting a steely-eyed human female. At each statue’s feet sits what looks to be a short, winged creature with a clasp around its neck.

    You rush across and about the time you get to the top of the dais, Drelnza touches the painted stone with her hand. The section of wall bearing the feathers rolls quietly up into the ceiling, revealing a 10-foot-wide passageway. Hepla looks back, sees them, and giggles. "You have to keep up!" she says. "We are off to Iggwilv's sanctuary!"

    Drelnz steps through, followed by Hepla. This time the rest of the party can get through before it closes. Meanwhile Drelnza opens the far door. It swings wide to reveal a spacious cavern, some 30 feet wide and nearly twice that long. The stone floor is decorated with numerous multicolored murals, some depicting otherworldly beings engaged in various disturbing acts, others depicting images so abstract that they defy definition. Cutting through the middle of the room like a giant scar is a crevasse, across which stretches a makeshift bridge. A door in the stone wall on the other side of the chasm can just be made out.

    Drelnza doesn't even look back as she walks through the door and heads for the chasm.

    Sir Godwynn moves forward and grabs ahold of Hepla and spins her around. "By the Gods, stop!" he says.

    She turns around, surprised. "What's wrong?" she asks.

    "Don't interfere with my following my friend," says Hepla, trying to pull away.
    "Nice to know you aren't immune to charm," mutters Manny, watching and preparing for trouble.

    [Manny OOC: bad feeling about this. Not sure if we created a challenge for Iuz, or just released more evil chaos on the earth.]

    Drelnza stops for a moment, loowing back at Hepla. She stares at Sir Godwynn, locking gazes. "Release her," she says, her voice like cold steel.

    "No." He replies, his voice ominous but calm as he locks gazes with her.

    [Isilme OOC: You guys haven't noticed she's been calling her mistress and following her around like a puppy for a while now? Laughing Good news is the Paladin can't be controlled by a vampires charm due to their continuous protection from evil.]

    Sir Godwynn feels a strange attraction to Drelnza, a sense that he could do anything for her, would do anything for het. He is about to release Hepla, until his entire body is wracked with a feeling of pure revulsion. He immediately understands that the being before him is pure evil and he will not succumb to it.

    Sir Godwyn says "May the hand of Rao protect you from all evil," casting 'protection from evil' directly upon Hepla.

    Drelnza smiles, her face almost softening, but her voice sounds cold, emotionless. "Your concern for your friend is touching," she says, "but in this place you will find your prayers of little value." She turns and walks across the chasm. She continues talking as she walks away. "Stay, go, do as you will. I have more...pressing concerns."

    Sir Godwynn then addresses Drelnza again. "We released you and chose to aid you. We are your allies, you have no need to exercise such control and violate her mind. When you recalled how it was done to you you were angered. Remember that and release my friend. The will of the group is to stand by your side, and we will honor it."

    Drelnza has crossed to the other side, and stands before a doorway, but she stops after Sir Godwynn speaks. She doesn't turn for a long while, then finally does. It is impossible to read her face, shrouded in shadow so far away now. "Go," she says. "Leave this place before its evil taint destroys whatever is good in you....and your friends." Despite her clearly evil nature, he could swear he hears true, human concern in her voice. She then opens the door and passes beyond it out of sight.

    "I will stay with my good friend." Hepla says as she follows Drelnza.

    Manny and Sir Godwynn then follow, getting to the other side, almost to the door, when Drelnza turns back from inside the chamber beyond. "I said GO!" she shouts, hands raised. A wave of force rushes from her upraised hands, slamming into Sir Godwynn. He takes [5] from the forcewave, and is knocked backwards 10', flying right off the edge and into the chasm!

    “Drelnza,” says Hepla. “Stop, we can help you. I sense you still have a spark of good in you.’

    Drelnza moves faster than Hepla can react, literally flying to her. She grabs her by her hair and twists her head back savagely. "Then let this show you the folly of your ways," she says and sinks her teeth into Hepla's neck! Hepla takes [8] and gains two negative levels!

    Falling to his certain death, Sir Godwynn locks his gaze momentarily on Manny. It is a look of farewell, but to his dismay, Manny raises his bare hand towards him and mouths the words of an incantation. Suddenly, Sir Godwynn is light as a feather, and as he floats down into the darkness, he sees Manny nod towards him and smile.

    Hepla attempts to cast Spiritform. However, with Drelnza grappling her and draining her blood, she fails her Concentration check and loses the spell, as Drelnza continues to drain her [5 and another -2 Negative Levels].

    Hepla feels her strength rapidly draining away, and for the first time wonders if maybe this was a mistake. She thinks of Emyn and their unborn child, when suddenly Drelnza releases her, screaming and pushing Hepla away. Hepla falls backwards to the ground, and when she looks up she sees Drelnza standing there, blood dripping from her fanged mouth, grabbing at the sword that Manny has thrust through her chest! Manny backstabbed her for [28]!

    Sir Godwynn finds himself at the bottom of the chasm. It is not possible to climb, but it continues in both directions. Ahead it seems to cut across another small tunnel running north/south. [Sorry, no map]

    [DM OOC: Hepla has now lost another 5 hp, as well as gained two more negative levels. The negative levels cause her to lose two more spells. She's lost all her 6th level spells now and a 5th, plus the failed spell. Her hps are also very low; with 4 negative levels, plus damage, she's down to 2 left! Plus, with 4 negative levels, she in essences has -4 to everything she does.]

    Hepla is torn between helping Manny and helping herself. then she thinks of the baby and cast CSW on herself while taking the 5' step back. [DM OOC: After her spell, Hepla is as healed as she can get. She has 15hp left, but that is because of her negative levels. She is very weak.]

    Hepla reaches into her hair, grabs her hairpin then she roles off the bridge. She says her magic word, and as the broom appears in her hands she gets it to fly before splatting on the floor.

    Hepla pulls off her Harry Potter maneuver, while Manny rolls away. Drelnza is faster than he imagined, and it is all he can do to avoid her grasp. Recognizing that he has no chance, he leaps off the cliff!

    He casts Feather Fall on the way down, landing safely next to Sir Godwynn.

    "We should have heeded the vampire’s warning while she still had some humanity left within her,” says Sir Godwynn ruefully. “There is a lesson in this somewhere milady Hepla. While there is nobility in a last stand, methinks we should get this pregnant lady to safety." He braces for an attack and scans above him waiting patiently.

    Sir Godwynn's shield is providing continual light as per spell. Along with Manny and Hepla, they are all down at the bottom of the chasm, 100’ down. The top of the chasm is lit by some kind of continual light too, but you don't see Drelnza. She doesn't seem to be following. The chasm goes as far as you can see in either direction. It narrows towards the east and widens towards the west.

    "I have no intention of waiting here,” says Manny. “We need to get back to the rest of the party. He then casts Fly on Sir Godwynn and then himself. “I know you like to have your feet firmly planted on the ground, but you need to fly up and out to cover Hepla’s retreat, I'll come as I can. Rear guard is needed and you need to be her protector."

    "If Drelnza doesn't pursue, no doubt she returns to her quest deep within the heart of the mountain. Our best chance is to return to the pillar and see if our own witch can activate it. Wandering aimlessly about this place of the evil is no doubt certain death."

    The three fly up, and when they reach the top Drelnza is nowhere in sight. "I fear we have released yet more evil on this troubled land,” says Manny. “Yet mayhap it will disrupt the Old One's plans. First we need to rejoin the rest of our merry band, then decide on a course. There is both the other party and, I'm sure, yet more power-filled trinkets Iggy left behind."

    They then make their way back to the pillar. When they get there they find the others, minus Isilm, Thorgrim, and Gotrek, waiting, having just used the pillar themselves. Hepla goes right for Emyn's arms but steps back and says. "Drelnza attacked me and I feel very weak. She moved into the Heart of the mountain or the Horn, whatever she called it. Let me give some of you some herbs to help you.” She gives Emyn, and Sir Godwyn some Menaleas Flower powder mixed with a little wine. It is a full Cure Light Wounds.

    "I suggest we leave this place and seal it for all eternity,” says Berenn.

    "Should we not at least look into those buildings?” asks Emyn. “We may still be able to stop Drelnza. After all we did let her free, so we are responsible."

    "They are not just buildings,” says Manny. “That is the Heart of the Horn. Somewhere in there a Demon Lord and his captor fought a great battle. Those two titans of magic neither leveled nor hid this place. Somewhere in here is likely the heart of the evil of this place. I suspect the only reason it has not been pillaged before was the Old One being distracted, or restrained, for most of the last 100 years.”

    Looking around, Manny continues. "Our choices are few, and poor. We can follow Drelnza into the Heart, in the hope of destroying the center of this evil before the Old One can exploit it. We can turn and attack these minions of his, knowing more will come after. We can flee this place in the hopes that a stronger, more capable party can be found and brought here in time. None of these choices are good, we may be too weak to accomplish any of these tasks but the last, but I have no intention of fleeing like a cur. With honor, we can try either of the first two. In doing one, we may achieve the other as well."

    Sir Godwyn smiles and says "tis a fine thing to see all of you again!" Then his face become grave, and his deep voice carries throughout the chamber. "Truly we have let forth a great evil upon the land, I call upon you all to help me rid the world of this evil we have WILLINGLY released. This vampire is no ally, and all humanity in her is lost, but the black essence of the undead remains." He punctuates his final point with great fevor.
    "This dark misdeed WE have done needs to be rectified NOW!"

    Emyn simply clasps arms with Godwynn and says, "Then let us go brother and remove this evil we have so foolishly unleashed. " He starts towards the heart of the horn no matter what anyone might say.

    Sir Godwyn returns his clasp strongly and takes heart that there is at least one person of good conscience among the party.

    "Let us root out this festering evil brother!" says Sir Godwynn, and heads towards the heart of the mountain with Emyn.

    Berenn doesn't like this idea, but will follow the idiots ... I mean ... brave souls into the heart.

    “Just to be clear,” says Elrae, “I wanted to kill her in her sleep."

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:33 am  
    Part 49 – The Retriever!

    Sir Godwyn strides on foot across to the other side and the open door Drelnza went through, remaining just ahead of Emyn, sword and shield at the ready to smite down upon enemies with the righteous fury of Rao. Emyn follows Godwynn, vengeance in his heart for the attack on his wife and unborn child. The others have rarely seen him as angry. "She will pay for her treachery,” he almost hisses as he walks.

    Elrae looks at his comrades and goes towards the door. "Let's slay that bloodsucking bitch."

    The rest follow, crossing the bridge, and move towards the doo. Beyond is an irregularly shaped room, smooth on its southern and eastern walls, but jagged and rough to the west and north. At its longest, the room is 25 feet deep and 15 feet wide. The south and east walls are lined with shelving units, while the shelves to the north and west have toppled forward into the room. Opening the door causes a red glow to brighten overhead and a floral scent to emerge. A quick scan of the shelves along the eastern wall reveals a collection of strange curios, from stuffed lizards to gnarled, severed hands floating in jars of milky liquid. As this room’s appearance would suggest, this was a place of storage for the Witch Queen. It was here that she deposited many of the nonmagical curios she came across in her studies.

    Elrae uses Snowfang which reveals nothing to be magical, and a search for secret doors likewise reveals nothing.

    "D R E L N Z A !!!!" yells Sir Godwynn in his best Captain Kirk voice! The only answer you hear is the oppressive silence of the tomb. He then scratches at a small sore on his face. He doesn’t know if it was there before or if his scratching caused it.

    Berenn takes a look at Godwynn and assesses his condition. He uses his rod on it, but nothing happens. "This place is affecting all of us and it has the potential of being more fatal than the monster we are attempting to follow. There is nothing more to be done here." With that Berenn heads back to the entrance point.

    [Berenn OOC: Fighting a vampire on its terms is foolhardy. He is going back to the rest of the party.]

    As Berenn passes into the corridor he notes that the two doors to the sides are now open. Beyond them are two more rooms. He calls back over your shoulder. “Some doors are now suspiciously open,” he says as he continues on. Noot moves back there and glances in. The west room looks like a storeroom, while the east room seems to have been a library as it's full of bookshelves. There are maybe a couple of dozen books left there that he can see.

    About this time the party hears the voice of Melkor speaking over the Farspeaker. Then they stop functioning altogether as Isilme cancelled her spell.

    Hepla says, "Not that anyone, especially my husband, cares what I have to say, but fighting the fellow who is speaking to us over the farspeaker would at least be out of this opppresive place. After we kill him we should still have time to return here if we wish. Also there is a chance that this guy does not know us as good as he thinks he does. He might not know of Sir Godwyn."

    Emyn looks at her and says, "Dear, I care very much about your opinion, even when it is wrong. We need to understand what else is at work here."

    Sir Godwynn understands the desire to return to the others, but he now has an undead enemy to combat, and he moves into the library room. He does not see Drelnza in the room. It does look like it has been recently searched though, as dust is disturbed.

    Curious, even Berenn now stops. "We should probably do a little searching, and we might be able to find out what Drelnza was looking for." He casts Detect Invisibility, then looks in. He sees nothing.

    "If we can't retify our mistake of releasing the vampire, we should go,” says Sir Godwynn, scratching his sore. “There is nothing to be gained here. The taint of evil upon this place is palpable."

    Noot finds a secret door. One of the bookcases clearly moves over, as evidenced by the floor. The dust of a hundred years has been pushed to the side, resulting in a small pile that is out of place. Streaks in the floor show the bookcase moves. Manny finds a hidden latch, which once flipped allows you to push the bookcase over. It reveals a passage sloping down quite steeply.

    It is only a 5' wide passage, about 8' tall. It goes down at an angle for about 100' before turning north and still angling down. Sir Godwynn can safely assume that this is the passage that intersects the chasm.

    Sir Godwynn enters, his shield before him to light the way. Berenn has his cloak of protection on and ignites Bonfire. "Something tells me she went this way." Berenn enters the passageway.

    It goes a long way. It indeed is intersected by the chasm, which cuts the tunnel in half about 20' above the chasm floor. So, you have to get across, but it's only about 5' so it's not a big deal. It ends in a blank wall, that is obviously a secret door. Berenn notes it immediately, but cannot open it. Manny moves up to check it out, and as soon as he touches it, it swings open completely.

    “It seems a lot of these secret doors were attuned to magicusers,” he says. Beyond it, the passage continues a bit, then opens up into a large chamber. There is a drop off, but you can't see any more from here.

    The wall slides away to reveal an enormous, pitch-black cave. With the door open, a shrill wind whistles through the cavern air, echoing below in the darkness. A ledge, some 10 feet wide, stretches along the eastern wall. Beyond the ledge, in the inky blackness, the “floor” of the cave is open space, disappearing into the yawning abyss below.

    Sir Godwynn waits for the others. "I fear my light gives us away," he says to Emyn, "but alas, what hope do we have against such creatures of the night if we fight them in darkness black as their evil hearts." He holds his shield before him bravely illuminating the way. "Shall we?"

    "Lead on,” says Hepla bravely.

    You move on until you find yourselves on the edge of the pit. It goes down as afar as you can see, which is only 60’. The chamber is also so large that you cannot see the ceiling or across it.

    Hepla takes out her hairpin, turns it into a broom, then flies up to see how high the ceiling is. She flies up, just about beyond the limit of everyone's sight, when Berenn spots movement in the darkness. Clinging to the ceiling, creeping along it and preparing to pounce, is what looks like a giant spider.

    "Hepla, spider! Look out!" He yells. Hepla swerves away, circling off to the side since she doesn't see it. Nobody else can see it except Berenn, who has Detect Invisibility running which sees through the darkness above. As it gets a bit closer, he sees that it is not a spider, at least, not one from this world..... Everyone backs up, and the thing leaps down, landing on the ledge before the party, and right in front of Sir Godwynn!

    The creature resembles a huge spider, but it is the size of an elephant, with a black, chitinous exoskeleton and six insectile eyes. The creature’s four rearmost limbs actually carry most of its weight; its front four limbs end in cleaver-like blades that aren’t used for walking. Despite the monster’s bloated appearance and hideous bulk, it’s frighteningly fast and nimble. It makes an insidious whispering that disturbingly sounds like whatever your nightmares are, and they seem to be in your heads.

    “Great,” whispers Manny.

    [DM OOC: It’s a very good thing that Berenn had Detect Invisibility working!]

    Sir Godwyn stands defensively, sword and shield up, ready to blind fight. He hopes that perhaps his protection from evil can keep something like this at bay? "Lord Rao guide my hand against the forces of evil festering within this place!"

    The thing recoils from Sir Godwynn, who breaths a sigh of relief. "Gather around me, the protection of Rao shields my companions." He slowly walks "casually" in the direction we need to go, using Beren to guide him.

    The rest of the party gathers around Sir Godwynn, who then starts to move. Hepla has to circle back, and as she nears them, to her horror, the creature attacks! From one of its four eyes, a fireball streaks out, exploding right on Sir Godwynn!

    Sir Godwynn: 23
    Emyn: 21
    Bernn: 17
    Noot: 29 Manny: 25

    [DM OOC: Noot failed his save but was luckily using Emyn’s Ring of Fire Resistance. His items must still save though…..

    Here's what is destroyed:

    Dagger of Parrying (dang, I liked that)
    Backpack and everything in it
    Ring of Infravision
    Lucky Ring of the Wild Coast
    All potions except 2 flasks oil (go figure!)

    Please take this all off your sheet. Sorry Gorn!]

    Only Noot failed his save, and he is down in a smoldering heap! Hepla has circled around on her broom. She's at 25' elevation.

    Berenn goes to Noot and gives him a CLW. He turns to the rest of the party and says, "Just don't stand there, kill it!"

    [Violator OOC: Hoho you dudes are in serious, serious trouble!]

    Emyn goes full offense with his bastard sword. "Go back the Abyss in the name of Trithereon!" he shouts.

    Elrae casts Stoneskin, if he hadn't done so already. He will then move to get an angle on the spider demon abyss monster and start with his offensive spells, cone of cold, lightning bolts, melf's acid arrows, magic missiles until exhausted or end up dead.

    "Fear not comrades, together we shall send this foul creature back to it's wretched plane. Now is not the time to plan, but is the time to kill."

    "Spread out, people! Got a choice, Godwynn, fight or be spelled." Manny starts tumbling away from a straight line with the others.

    [Manny OOC: Did the fireball negate it's invisibility?]

    [DM OOC: It wasn't invisible. Detect Invisibility also allows you to see in the dark. The thing is, it's range is 10 yards/level, though only 10' wide "searchlight." But, since he was looking at Hepla, and she was moving right towards the Retriever, he was able to see it. Lucky for her, really.]

    “Don’t forget your fly spell,” calls Manny as he tumbles away, coming up on the far side of the ledge to the right. Elrae casts Stoneskin while Berenn casts Sunbow, then sheathes Bonefire. Sir Godwynn drinks his potion of Super-Heroism. He gains 15 hitpoints and +3 levels. He then floats up 5' to get even with the creature. The fly spell cast upon him is indeed still working.

    Emyn then steps up 5' and attacks. He misses with his first attack.

    It then attacks Emyn, slashing at him savagely with its four massive cleaver-like claws. It hits Emyn twice [16 and 9; total 25]. [DM OOC: it gets 4 attacks, each doing 3d6!]

    Then Hepla flies behind it and up a bit higher, using her staff to fire a bolt of lightning into its back [16]. Emyn then misses with his second attack.

    Noot takes a flask of oil, lights it from his flaming shirt, and throws it at the retriever. He misses, and it falls to the bottom of the pit and explodes there. It's at least 100' down.

    Berenn fires his first shot, missing with a sunbow arrow. It streaks by the thing and smashes into the ceiling!

    The retriever focuses an eye upon Emyn, hitting him with a ray of cold [10]. Emyn falls back to the ground, an armored Popsicle. It focuses another eye upon Sir Godwynn, hitting him with a lightning bolt [12]. The bolt continues on and hits Elrae [50]. That's a bad missed save! Gotta roll for all Elrae's stuff now. Elrae is blasted back to the ground, stunned, and he loses concentration on his lightning bolt spell.

    Hepla fires another lightning bolt, hitting it for another [15] as Manny casts Vitriolic Sphere which explodes on the retriever for [26: failed it's save].

    Berenn then hits it with a shot from his sunbow [8], missing with his third shot.

    [DM OOC: Emyn is at -5, Sir Godwynn at -7. Elrae has 2 left! Gotta roll for his items, so give me some time. I'll give you guys time to decide your actions.]

    [Sir Godwynn OOC: I think you missed sir Godwyn 's attacks]

    [DM OOC: No I didn't. He was knocked to -7; he didn't get any attacks!]

    [Sir Godwynn OOC: %&$#]

    [DM OOC: Elrae lost his magic crossbow Sweetness and its quiver. Not bad, considering. He also made his System Shock roll for Massive Damage, so he didn't die outright. However, he is stunned and cannot act for 3 rounds.]

    [Manny OOC: Ok, here goes nothing. Manny uses all his skill to cast Bigby's Force Sculpture to create a flat featureless (no eyeholes) helm around the thing's head, covering its eyes and connecting under its mandibles in a flat form. If he can get it to cover the mouth with the available amount he will, but the eyes are mandatory.]

    [DM OOC: 'll allow it, but it's going to get a save. If you try to put a Wall of Force (a 5th level spell with no save!) around a moving/meleeing creature, I give it a save, because if it is broken during casting, the spell is ruined. So, I'll give it a save to avoid you successfully being able to form it around a moving, fighting creature. It will not end up being a perfect prison helm, regardless, but if successful it will do something. That's the best I'll give you beforehand….]

    The retriever looks to be about to spike both Emyn and Sir Godwynn, but cannot break the plane of Sir Godwynn's Protection from Evil. [DM OOC: Yes, I know Emyn attacked but he never hit, so I'm ruling that's not any different than just making a show of attacking. And he's still in the AoE of the PfE, which only stops when Sir Godwynn dies. So, he just lucked out! I actually had to look that up to see if that was so, and I found it in the online forums!]

    Anyway, Manny goes first and casts his spell, putting a force helm around the thing’s head. It turns and tries to fire a beam at Hepla, but it is blocked by the helm! It makes a screeching, angry noise, and then scrambles around towards Manny, scratching at the strange force helm as it moves. It also takes another [10] from the acid.

    Berenn crawls forward, taking out his scroll and casting Heal on Sir Godwynn. “What a waste,” he says, but continues. “Better than we all die I guess.”

    As the flow of power from St. Cuthbert pours over him, Sir Godwynn is instantly healed of all but 2 wounds. He gets up, takes up his sword and shield, and prepares to battle the thing once more. He does not plan to hide behind his protection!

    Noot rushes forward, checks to see that Elrae is ok, then slips around to Emyn. He attempts to stop the flow of blood, but cannot. "Berenn," he says quickly, though not too loudly! "He needs help!"

    Finally, Hepla flies around a bit, trying to keep the thing lined up but not where she can hit her friends, and uses another lightning bolt from her staff, hitting it for another [16].

    He swivels its head around towards her, it's many eyes full of hateful malevolence!

    The retriever then slashes at Manny with four cleaver-like claws. He is hit by two, for [10 and 11: total 21]. Manny falls unconscious, and is lifted up by the thing's great mandibles!

    Hepla blasts the thing with another lightning bolt [13]. Chunks of abyssal armor are flying from its back.

    Berenn moves over to Emyn, casting CLW [8] while Sir Godwynn adds his Laying of Hands upon him for another [18]. Emyn can now rise, ready to fight some more.

    Noot moves up behind the thing, attacking with Rod and Dagger. He hits with his dagger, stabbing it in the leg [5].

    Elrae gets up and casts Melf's Acid Arrow. The arrow misses!

    The retriever swings its massive head back, sending Manny cartwheeling into the abyss.

    [DM OOC: I was actually going to pause, to allow Hepla time to use a Feather Fall, the ONLY spell I ever let you cast spontaneously in this kind of situation. However, I note that....she doesn't have it!] It's not a straight drop, the sides are more like small terraces, so, Manny tumbles slowly down, falling about 20' and taking [6]. He is still falling, so he'll continue his death tumble next round. He is bouncing along the terraces, like falling down a mountain side with several drops. He also is now at -6.]

    Sir Godwynn immediately flies down, finding Manny nearly falling off another terrace. He grabs him, stopping his fall. Manny groans unconsciously, as Sir Godwynn lays him back safely. "You saved my life today Mage,” says Sir Godwynn. “I but return the favor."

    [DM OOC: BTW, DMs like this kinda stuff!]

    The retriever then strides forward, attacking with its cleaver-like claws. Two attack Berenn, hitting him twice [10 and 6: 16 total], and takes him up in its mandibles too! It then hits Noot with one for [11]. Noot falls back unconscious, while Berenn loses his Holy Orb spell which he was preparing to unleash!

    Elrae was going to use Snowfang to do a Cone of Cold, but now holds his action since he would hit Berenn as well. Hepla does the same with her Lightning Bolt. Emyn then steps forward, slashing at the retriever. He hits it twice, [11 and 12; total 23]!

    "If my heavy hitting spells aren't effective, then I should try something else." Elrae casts golddust at the eyes of the spider demon blinding it's deadly gaze.

    Sir Godwynn pours his Healing Potion into Manny's mouth, healing [13]. Manny will be at 7hp. Hepla casts Fog Cloud, which covers the area around the retriever in a fog, limiting vision to 2'. Emyn stands in front of Noot to protect him, and fights using his blind-fighting. He misses the retriever with his attack. Elrae now has no target for his Glitterdust spell, and he cannot cast it, though he doesn't loose it. He just fails to cast another spell.

    The retriever throws Berenn off to the side. People suddenly see him fly out of the fog, and he falls to the bottom of the pit.

    While Berenn is gently fluttering to the ground thanks to his Ring of Feather Fall, he calls out, "There is only one thing I say to Death: Not today!"

    The thing then skitters away from Emyn's slashing sword. Hepla sees it come out of the fog to the north, along the ledge. It is now pretty much beneath her on the ledge. It can see Sir Godwynn and Manny, but it cannot see Noot, Emyn, or Elrae.

    ere's the map for the retriever battle. I added altitude labels, since there are four characters at various levels. Hepla is 50' up. Sir Godwynn and Manny are 20' down on a ledge, and Berenn is 100' down at the bottom. Berenn fell to the bottom, since Feather Fall drops your rate to 120'/round. It was 100' down, so he's at the bottom. I just created a texture for fog, so hopefully that is clear too. The other circle is Sir Godwynn's Protection from Evil 10'radius.

    Elrae will drink an extra healing potion he has been holding on for what seems to be an eternity. "I hope these don't expire," he mumbles. He then starts to sing!

    The retriever moves first, quicker than you'd have thought possible. From one eye it fires a lightning bolt at Hepla. She tries to get away from it but takes a glancing blow [which means she made her save!] and she takes [21]. She is blown back off her broom and starts to fall to the ground. Manny, just recovering from his wounds sees her and immediately reaches out, casting Feather Fall on her. She floats gently down, landing next to Berenn.

    Emyn heals Noot of [8] with his Potion. [please remember to delete it!] Elrae uses his Potion of ex-healing healing [17].

    "Rao,” calls out Sir Godwynn, invoking his Lord. “Illuminate your children and blind this creature of darkness!"

    He casts light upon the creature's eyes, and it roars out in chthonic rage, stumbling around as it is blinded! He then flew up 40', ending up at a +20' elevation.

    Berenn, going last, drops his action to do a healing check on Hepla. He stabilizes her and heals [3] with a successful Heal check. She is unconscious at -3.

    Manny casts Lightning bolt, which hits the creature [13].

    Berenn casts CMoW on Hepla, healing [9]. She's back to 6 hps. [Maybe with those 4 negative levels and the associated weakness it causes, Hepla should hang back?]

    The retriever crawls quickly down to the ledge and attacks Manny. It hits him twice [15 and 8; 23 total], also picking him up in its mandibles.

    Sir Godwynn cries out and flies down, attacking the retriever from above. "In the name of Rao, return to the hells from whence you came and trouble this plane no more!" He hits it in the back of its head [9]. His Protection from Evil is basically void now.

    Emyn drinks his potion, healing [16]. He then moves forward, just out of the fog cloud. He sees the thing below him, on the ledge below attacking Manny. Sir Godwynn is flying above it, smashing it in the back of the head. Noot retreats back by Elrae.

    "Let him go beast!" snarls Sir Godwynn as he hits it again [10]. The retriever rears back, slashing at him with all four claws and hitting with each one! Sir Godwynn takes [ 8, 9, 13, and 15: 41 total!] He is grabbed by the retriever which is about to throw him when Emyn shouts from above and leaps upon it.

    "Feel the sting of Trithereon's wrath, you accursed beast!" he says as he lands on it, driving his sword down through the things mandibles, deep into its throat [24].

    The creature shudders under the blow and immediately starts to fall backwards over the cliff..... [Yes, it is still holding Sir Godwynn, and Emyn is atop it!]
    Berenn simultaneously casts Holy orb, which which wracks it with righteous fury and blasts the thing into oblivion. Sir Godwynn takes [9] and Emyn takes [14].

    They topple off, tumbling to the bottom as Berenn cast Air Column and arrests their fall.

    It takes a bit to get everyone up. Hepla then gives out herbs, and Berenn uses up the healing of the Rod of Xodal.

    “My spells are almost exhausted,” says Berenn, “and we have already had one comrade fall because of this foolishness. There is nothing more to be gained here."

    “Aye,” replies Emyn, once recovered. “We should aid our friends now. Drelzna is certainly long gone and we are ill equipped to handle much more.

    The rest of the party agrees, and they return to the pillar. They reach it just as Gotrek, Thorgrim, and the dwarves used it after their battle with the Iuzians. The party is now all together again.

    Last edited by ragnar on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:44 pm  
    Part 50 – A little exposition

    After the battles with the retriever and with the Iuzians, both groups have come together again. As for the Azcral dwarves, they took a beating. Their leader, Delaim, fell in battle, as did many others. Gilhak is their leader now. Orili and Belak are the only two named dwarves left [meaning dwarves whom I have named so far, they all probably have names!] There are another 15 unnamed dwarves, and many are wounded badly. However, Berenn can take the time to heal them with the Rod of Xodal, which will bring most of them back to full hit points. Only a couple are left with wounds after this.

    Thorgrim gathers the Dwarves in a prayer for their fallen comrades. After some time, he speaks again. "I fear the dangers of this Adventure will only grow as we continue. I pray that, should we die, it be in glorious combat, rather than wretched ambush, as died noble Delaim. I swear I shall see that mage dead, before I am called." He turns to Berenn.

    "Berenn, there is a strong chance our enemy may follow. Did you find a place of refuge? Behind that secret door you described sounds promising, but we must assume our enemy knows of it, or can find it as did you. From the description of your encounter, 'twould seem foolhardy to explore further in our present state. "The way back is closed to us, for now. Things may change, if we are able to whittle our enemy. But I think our path lies deeper within the mountain. Indeed, the Heart."

    "If you consider almost getting ripped up apart by a huge demon refuge and spending time getting drained by a vampire refuge, we found refuge," Berenn say dryly. "There is no refuge here. I suppose we could all rest in one of the rooms while keeping Protection from Evil going, but I would rather leave this place."

    "We need to do something to impede their progress into here,” says Emyn. “We will likely face more fearsome foes and essentially be clearing this place for the Iuzians. We need to set some sort of trap."

    Hepla agrees, as does Gotrek who grunts in response. He spits harshly, clearly undecided. He wants to do what is best for his friends. He does not want them dying, because of any vows he may have. "I understand. Whoever has to go, let them go. I will stay a wee bit longer. We yet have business here."

    Berenn throws his hand up in the air. "The only business left here is our deaths!” he almost yells. “We are out of spells and most of the party is on death's door. We will be lucky to get out of here without another encounter, looking for another fight is folly."

    "We will have to kill many to get out,” says Hepla. “They may even be setting up a block to stop us. We should leave while they are still working on it." While speaking, Hepla hands an extra healing potion from her stash to Manny, Godwynn, Elrea, Noot and Emyn for immediate use. She keeps the remaining two in reserve. “Everyone needs to be more careful,” she warns. “I don't have many potions or herbs left.”

    "I doubt the enemy has every route covered,” replies Berenn, calming down. “If we did some scouting, we could probably find a way out of here without getting into another fight."

    Sir Godwyn rises, full of righteous anger. "ENOUGH!” he shouts. “THAT'S ENOUGH NOW, FROM ALL OF YOU!” He moves around, looking at everyone. His voice slows down, calming and cold. “You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once and it got a taste for murder. We were on patrol when the avalanche took us a week to climb out, and somewhere my men lost hope. I don't know when they turned on each other. I just know......that twenty of us survived the slide...and only four made it out.”

    He stops, quiet. He seems to be lost in thought. Then he nods and continues.

    “Now, we took an oath that I'm breaking now. Swore that we'd say it was the snow that killed the rest. But it wasn't. Nature can be lethal. But it doesn't hold a candle to man. You've seen how bad things can get and how quick they can get that way. Well, they can get a whole lot WORSE!” The emphasis on the last word shocks everyone, and they stare, rapt, as he continues. He speaks loudly, firmly, in a voice broaching no argument.


    Nobody speaks, and after an awkward pause, he turns to Hepla. "Hepla, use your herbal remedies to awaken Manny. I would have him face death with eyes open. If you cannot waken him then strip the Rod of Security from his body, we may have need of it this day." He then scans the group. "Everyone take stock of their gear, some may be out of spells, but many have magic that may still win the day, all hope is not lost.”

    "Emyn,” he continues, looking at the young paladin. “Help dispense all of our healing herbs and potions to those wounded, the party first, our dwarven army second. If there was ever a time they needed our strength to survive it is now."

    "We have choices here. We can use the rod of security and rest here and now. I am against this because we are still in the heart of the mountain and the evil here is great. I would prefer we use the pillar while still operable to at least reach the outer ring of the mountain where we can secure ourselves with the magic of the rod, or make our final push against the enemy to leave.

    We have things going for us. If we vanish through use of the rod, after a time the enemy will believe we somehow escaped or transported away. If we push now the enemy is still regrouping. We may be able to punch through one portion of the opposition while they are still imbalanced. I won't promise it will be easy or there will be no lives lost, but better to die out there facing an opponent in combat honorably, then to slink around the demon infested heart of this mountain and hope our souls and honor remain untarnished."

    He looks to Thorgrim. "Where are ye stones man? Would you run craven into the very heart of evil? Are you quak