Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:50 am Post subject: 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 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.
Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:39 am Post subject: 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
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
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.
Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:37 am Post subject: 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.
[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 .
"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 like...like rats! Emyn gets a swing at one, hitting it . 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.
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 . Emyn simultaneously attacks the one before him, hitting it for .
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 , 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 , while Sir Godwynn does likewise for another . 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 , 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 . 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  while Thorgrim steps up and hits it with Souldrinker , 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.
Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:09 pm Post subject: 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.
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.
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!
Joined: Sep 09, 2009 Posts: 2430 Location: SW WA state (Highvale)
Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:13 pm Post subject:
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!
Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:03 am Post subject: 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?
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!
Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:57 am Post subject: 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?
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.]
Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:22 am Post subject: 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!
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
Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:50 pm Post subject: 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 , 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 . 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  and missing but hitting Mortadella with the other . Emyn is knocked back off Mortadella by the blow and lands on his back .
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  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  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 , 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 .
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.
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.
Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:56 am Post subject: 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 , while Thorgrim cures Emyn . Sir Godwynn adds a CLW himself , thanking Berenn. Gotrek drinks his Potion of Extra-Healing , 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: 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 .
Isilme flies up, almost 100' in the air. From her vantage point she sees the giant clearly.
It swats the falcon, hitting it  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 .
[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 . Sir Godwynn hits with his lance too, doing . 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!
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 . 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 . 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  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  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 , and he is knocked off his horse. His javelin goes flying, and he lands in a heap .
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!"
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 . 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 . 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 , then sidesteps to the right.
Sir Godwynn moves up on the rear flank of the other giant, slashing it in the back .
"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."
The giant swings its club at Thorgrim, slamming him into the side . He flies sideways 5' and slams into the rock .
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 . Finally, Sir Godwynn takes two swings at the giant, missing badly each time.
Gotrek hits the giant, slashing it with Goreblad . 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 . 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 . 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 . The javelin unleashes its electrical discharge, which blasts the giant for .
It howls in pain until Thorgrim hits it in the back as well .
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.
Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:19 pm Post subject: 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.
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
Joined: Sep 09, 2009 Posts: 2430 Location: SW WA state (Highvale)
Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:09 pm Post subject:
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.
Posted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:48 pm Post subject: 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.
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."
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
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:26 am Post subject: 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.
[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
Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:59 am Post subject: 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.
Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:00 pm Post subject: 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 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
Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:01 am Post subject: 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.
Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:50 am Post subject: 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 seems....to 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....
Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:29 am Post subject: 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.
Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:57 am Post subject: 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."
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.
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 "Hold...it 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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