One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
With the Heroes of Hommlet so weakened from their experience in the Soul Gem, they sent out their trusted henchmen on a special assignment. The plan is to check out the area around Cat's Claw Tower, Hepla's fief on the southwestern border of the Viscounty. Actually, the lands technically belong to Veluna, but have been left uninhabited since the fall of the Duchy of Karaduum.
Cast of Characters
Brytallis Burnheart: 1st level Human Wizard. Brytallis hails from Thornward in the March of Bissel, where his family still resides. His parents (both half-elves) run a small apothecary, where they offer herbs and medicines to those who might need them. Brytallis was not really interested in continuing in their footsteps, though he did learn some alchemy from his parents due to their trade, at least until they threw him out of the house for bad behavior. He then travelled to Mitrik in Veluna where he apprenticed with a dottering old mage until the coot blew himself up trying to make a potion of fire breath. Bry then came to Hommlet, seeking employment. He journeyed with the original party from Veluna to Hommlet, but left shortly thereafter. Of medium height and build, Brytallis gives a pretty regular appearance. He often looks scared, and generally seems to lack courage. Yet, he always overcomes his fears and manages to move forward. He prefers to fight from a distance and sometimes have others do it for him. He's been apprenticed to Burne for some years who has now tired of his incessant whining. Others generally don't appreciate the fact that Brytallis seems to think that everything is someone else's fault and that he seems to think the world owes him something.
Din Deadeye: 1st level Dwarven Sharpshooter from Thunderstrike. He followed Thorgrim north after the party's expedition to the Pomarj. He was struck by the grizzled dwarf and his dream of one-day retaking his lost homeland, Dorob Kilthduum. Taking his few possessions, he left Thunderstrike and joined the refugees from the Pomarj on their long trek to Hommlet. He is Thorgrim's representative on this mission, and he has been tasked with the "secret" mission of seeking info regarding the Lost Mithril Mines of Dorob Kilthduum.
Dymir: 1st level Archer, trained originally by Altan Qorchi and Rakk. Dymir won the Archer contest held by the Viscount when the Viscount journeyed to the Watchlands. With the magical bow and arrows he won, he decided to journey with the group as well, seeking his fortune in the unknown.
Filbin Vermaalen of the Lortmils: 7th level Fighter/Thief (-4 Negative Levels still). Filbin was a gnome from the mountains near Rastor. He joined the Heroes of Hommlet when they journeyed there and brought down the Temple of the Elder Elemental God. However, the adventure left him nearly dead with 6 negative levels. After months of recovery, he has joined the Wild Bunch as their guide to Cat's Claw Tower, after which he plans to continue to his home in the Lortmils.
Hyril of Safeton: 1st level Avenger of Trithereon. Hyril was a guard aboard a ship bound from Safeton to Scant. When the slaver ship The Ghoul descended on them and snatched people away, he was the only man who put up a fight. An elf cast a spell on him and he awoke in chains on a ship; "I owe you all a debt, " he said to Emyn when he was freed in Highport. "For my freedom, and to continue to defend others, I pledge myself before all, to Trithereon, to protect the innocent, defend the helpless, and avenge the injured." Hair is streaked with grey from an encounter with the ghost. He also wields the mended sword of the Hill Fort's commander, Dravan Strongbough. He joined the expedition as Emyn's representative.
Lareth: 10th level human priest of Ellistraee. Lareth's history is far too long to compose here. Suffice to say, after his rescue and redemption by the Heroes of Hommlet, which ultimately led him to a personal meeting with Isilme's Goddess, Ellistraee who healed Lareth's hopelessly burned face, he became completely devoted to the Goddess. However, his faith in Her could not so easily wipe from his mind the terrible guilt he felt for all his wicked deeds as a priest of Lolth. For all his potential, the troubled man could never find the way to come to grips with his own life. He remained stuck in a lethargic, self-deprecating existence which even began to frustrate his new mentor, Isilme. The greatly troubled man thus chose to accompany the Wild Bunch on their journey to Cat's Claw Tower, in the hopes that by spending time as their healer, he could find the way to heal his own troubled heart. [Though 10th level, Lareth is not even supposed to be a priest of Ellistraee, as he is not a female. This issue is currently unresolved, so he only has access to spells of 1st to 3rd level. Further, he fear causing more pain and sorrow, so he will limit himself only to healing and other benign magics.]
Malgubet: 1st level Hobgoblin Fighter. Mal was a member of the hobgoblin tribe which was attacked by Caustichlorinus, before the Heroes of Hommlet slew the dragon. As debt to Berenn, Mal was sent to serve him. Berenn was unsure what to do with this strange, worg-riding humanoid, so he sent him on the expedition as he representative. Everyone was instinctively a bit nervous around Mal and his worg, Maugrim, and they basically kept their distance. Many would actually have preferred to not have him along at all, but he was Lord Berenn's man (or hobgoblin), so the choice was made for them.
This is the group which would start out from the Watchlands, Lord Berenn's fief in Verbobonc centered around Nulb and the old Moathouse, renamed Warden's Station. The party needed to take a game-time break to rest and recover from their travails, and I wanted to use some low-level adventures I had come across in Dungeon Magazines. So, we came up with this new party to "start over" so to speak. By keeping everyone tied, in some way or another, to the original party, we kept a certain continuity which made everything flow. While starting over at 1st level (for most anyway), we yet maintained the feel of simply continuing our previous adventure. Hopefully, you enjoy the journey as much as we have.
Last edited by ragnar on Sun May 17, 2015 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
Starday, 15th of Fireseek (582 CY)
After about three days of nice weather, that is no snow, the group gathers together at Hommlet. Some have met in the previous days, though it is here that Din, Brytallis, and Filbin join the group. You are given your last set of instructions from Hepla, and then are ready to set out. It's still rather cold (only about 30*), but at least it's clear. Din looks at the hobgoblin and bites his lip, grumbling something under his breath. Thorgrim whispers to him, and all you hear is drow. What he said is not clear, but Din nods and moves on, still grumbling. As the party leaves on the path to the Greenway Valley, they are met by another, the priest Lareth. He wears a long heavy cloak, and keeps himself wrapped tightly, hood drawn. He doesn't say anything, keeping to himself, but he is apparently to be your support. With everyone now together, you begin your trek.
OK, just to make thing move, you reach the Greenway Valley the first day, as it's not too far away. There isn't a lot of travel on the roads right now, which are muddy tracks more than roads. However, the cold has frozen the ground enough that it's really not so hard to walk. You sleep in a warm inn, where Filbin can speak with the other gnomes of the area. Things have generally calmed down since the ToEE was thrown down. The gnomes have returned to their normal lives, as has most of the Viscounty. You find them quite good-natured, and when they learn that Filbin had a hand in the latest foray, they feed everyone for free, as well as take care of your rooms. In the morning, you can continue on your way.
You will have one day to travel to Littleborough, home of Derry, and then another day to reach Castle Hagthar. From there it's a half-day to reach Cat's Claw Tower. Filbin has not been here. None of you have. However, he comes from the mountains beyond here, closer to Rastor, and knows of the old road that goes by it, the one the party originally took. It skirts the haunted Valley of Karaduum, a lost fief wiped out during the Hateful Wars a few generations ago.
Sunday, 16th Fireseek
The dawn breaks, and you continue your journey through the Greenway Valley and on to Littleborough. It is colder (high of 32*), and everyone stays rather silent on the ride. Actually, I don't know who rides and who walks, not that it matters. I'll kill your mounts soon anyway!
The day is cloudy, with a light breeze from the north. You have an uneventful day's ride, reaching Littleborough just before nightfall.
This village is the home of about 150 halfling stouts. They dwell in little boroughs, hence the village name, which typically have only one door, a shuttered window, and a chimney. They are very carefree, working only as much as they need to. They interact little with the other communities of the Kron Hills, though this is as much because of laziness and disinterest as for any other reason. They are very friendly with a tribe of centaurs which lives to the Southeast. They raise much grain which is traded to the centaurs for their hornwood bows and for the variety of fruits, particularly Karafruit, which they gather in sheltered glades. There is no mayor over Littleborough, though each year the inhabitants elect a Sheriff. His job is not only to judge in the case of any legal matters, of which there are few, but he is also the liaison with the gnomes of the Greenway Valley. As he is almost constantly shuttling back and forth between the two communities, sometimes even traveling to Verbobonc itself, the position is greatly desired for its adventurousness. There is one inn in Littleborough, The Galloping Pike, where the Greenway crosses over the Clearwater River. Prices are quite low, and the quality and entertainment grand as travelers are the villages main source of news and the Halflings attempt to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. [Please pay for rooms and food (1gp each).]
Mal will sleep outside with Maugrim, his mount. Inn's and nice cozy beds make one weak. And its doubtful the inn will board his mount in the barn with the horses. Maugrim might get hungry. The night gets very cold, dropping to about 6*. Luckily for Mal, he is able to get a good fire started and stay decently warm. However, he's going to be very happy with the sunrise! [I deducted money for your rooms, with Thelyn taking a nicer room for 5gp. He is a noble!]
Moonday, 17th Fireseek (582)
Everyone wakes up, finds a nice bowl of steaming pooridge prepared for them, then thanks the halfling proprietors before leaving. They find Mal outside of town, rubbing his hands by his fire. He kicks some dirt over it and stomps it as you approach, clearly ready to go. It was extremely cold overnight, and he doesn't look happy, even for a hobgoblin. Din smiles, but says nothing.
A thick fog has appeared towards the end of the night, drastically reducing visibility as the party continues on its way towards Castle Hagthar.
Marching order: Mal and Hyril at front center. Brytallis and Thelyn middle center. Dym and Din flanking positions. Filbin forward scout. Lareth rear guard.
Din whispers to Dymir, "Looks like we're the archer support for this party. My sturdy crossbow has taken out many an enemy at range, for my aim is sure." He looks uneasily towards Mal, "Can't say as I approve of some of our core fighters. I stomach it only because I am bidden to do so."
The party spends most of the day quietly riding and just trying to stay warm. Din constantly grumbles, with cold being a very common word that is overheard, along with a plethora of dwarf swear words. By the end of the day, the fog clears as the group approaches Castle Hagthar, boundary between the Viscounty of Verbobonc and the Archclericy of Veluna.
This rather decrepit keep marks the southern border of the Archclerichy of Veluna. It commands the heights of a massive rock escarpment, overlooking the Greenway where it passes the border. Although it was obviously a once proud citadel, it has fallen in disrepair.
At the foot of the escarpment is a small village, with an inn where you may stay. The party enters the inn, where they can get a meal and a room. Again, 1gp each.
I could get some nice shots from those walls, thinks Dymir.
While eating a bit of supper and warming up by the inn's fire, you catch a few comments from other patrons. Apparently the previous Lord, Farkaesh, died a few months ago. Word has gone out to the court in Mitrik, and everyone wonders what will happen now with no heir.
[BTW, I should add, in case you all didn't know, that Castle Hagthar is NOT part of Verbobonc, but part of Veluna. Perhaps that's also why the Viscount was so easy to give Hepla land. If anyone could really claim it, that would likely be Veluna.
Castle Hagthar history: This rather decrepit keep marks the southern border with the Archclerichy of Veluna. It commands the heights of a massive rock escarpment, overlooking the Greenway where it passes the border. Although it was obviously a once proud citadel, it has fallen in disrepair since the wars with Keoland. Taken by Keoish invaders in 400 CY, it was bypassed by the Veluna/Furyondian armies during the Small War, and was not reconquered until 442 CY in a siege lasting 2 years.
Due to its relative unimportance compared to Veluna's other frontiers, reconstruction did not resume until the 470s. The work was completed in 482 CY, and although the new fortifications were formidable, they were far less daunting than the earlier defenses. This proved to be quite unfortunate, for in 507 CY, fleeing Euroz tribes, driven from the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars, sacked the castle. They held Hagthar for 9 months, while Veluna's calls for dwarven assistance went unanswered. This event aroused much resentment among Velunas southern nobles and continues to plague relations between them and the Lortmil Dwarves to this day.
The castle was rebuilt once again by the Plar of the Southern House of Veluna, although little true effort was put into the undertaking. The current castle is only a shadow of its former self, and its current lord, Farkaesh the Grim, is about as poor a soul as his castle. Hardly wealthy by any means, he inherited Hagthar from his father along with sizable lands extending well into the Relgwood which he quickly lost gambling. Castle Hagthar and the land for only a dozen or so miles radius around it is all that remains from the previous fief. Farkaesh is now nearing 90, and has lost any interest in life. He spends his remaining days staring dejectedly from his lonely battlements, surrounded by a score of retainers interested only in being named his heir. They dote over their miserable master and one must wonder whether it is the place itself which draws such people to it.
When the Heroes of Hommlet passed this way, Berenn was able to heal Lord Farkaesh from whatever sickness plagued him. In thanks, he gave Hepla the deed to Cat's Claw Tower. It sounds like he has since died.]
"Well," says one man, looking the party's way. "In that case Aghur Naran would have been the new Lord, if it worked that way."
"To Aghur Naran," says another man, raising his mug in toast. A chorus of "ayes" follows, as the rest of the men in the inn, about a dozen total, share the toast."
Nobody has noticed that Mal is a hobgoblin, as he is wrapped in a fur-lined cloak as well as his armor. He's also sitting at the back of the table where the party is eating supper, so nobody will notice him.
Filbin was informed about Aghan Naran before the party left. Aghur was Lord Farkaesh's bastard half-brother. Their father had an affinity for Baklunish women, and took a Kettite noble for his bride. A few years later, while fighting in a border war with the Kettites, he took a Kettite woman, Aghur Naran's mother. His mother was slain in the war just after Aghur was born, and Lord Farkaesh brought him back to Castle Hagthar. He raised him as his own, much to the disappointment of his wife. The only reason she put up with the affront to her pride was the knowledge that, under Veluna law, a bastard had no claim to inheritance.
Anyway, Aghur and Lord Farkaesh, became inseparable. The only reason they survived the assault of the orcs was because they were off hunting in the Relgwood when the Euroz attacked. Everyone they knew was killed when the orcs took the castle, and ever since Lord Farkaesh had been a solitary, brooding man. Aghur, loyal to the end, had stayed by his brother's side his entire life. He had endured the loss of nearly 90% of the fief, mostly to gambling debts, but also to simple mismanagement. Still, he had never left. He was still watching out for Lord Farkaesh when the party came through here a year ago. They healed Lord Farkaesh of his disease before leaving, so it will probably be sad for them to eventually learn that he died anyway.
Unfortunately, Filbin quickly learns that Aghur is dead as well. "So who is running things now?" he asks.
"That's just it," says one of the farmers. "We don't know."
"Yeah," says another. "After Aghur Naran died fighting them blasted norkers, it seems Our Lord just lost his will to live. He got real listless, stopped eating, and then just died. Now we don't know what will happen."
"Tournament good leader chooser," mutters Mal. "Birthright is weak tool."
"So, what's up with yer friend there," says one the men, indicating Mal after hearing him. "He speaks kinda funny."
"Yeah," says another. "Sounds like a Norker hisself!"
A couple men stand up, big strong farmers who look like they've had better days.
"Why hide yerself?" asks one of them.
"Maybe he was burned by acid," says another, which brings a couple of laughs before the big farmers stare the other men back down.
"Why start trouble?" Din says, calmly cocking his crossbow. "We seek no war with you."
Under his breath, he grumbles "I knew Mal would lead us to trouble."
"I would like to point out, gentlemen, that I an a gnome, that is a dwarf. With us stands an Avenger. Do you really think we would be having an evil humanoid in our group? I should also point out that a dwarf in full armor is nothing to mess with." All said with a smile. "A toast to the good Aghur! My mistress will be most distressed to hear of the passing of both. She was one of those who healed the Lord, and asked me to see how he was doing. A round for the house from me!"
The men calm down a bit, and when they look at Din, obviously still cold and looking none-too-happy himself, they decide that Filbin has a point. And of course, when he toasts to Aghar Naran, they all nod, though maybe with a few grumbles.
"Oh sit down Marl," says the barkeep, coming around and taking the big farmer and pushing him back down. "We done fought enough lately," he says, pouring him a drink. He takes the tray of beverages from the serving girl who had been standing there, about to bring them to your table, and he approaches himself. "Here," and he sets them down. He notices Mal, but doesn't say anything. "On the house."
He turns to everyone else. "This round's on the house fer everyone," and they all toast Aghan again. The barkeep then plops down in the last vacant stool at the table. "So, what brings y'all this way in the dead of winter?"
"Sorry upset feelings," says Mal. "Disrespect me mean not."
The barkeep leans in, "Maybe you should have just a pint," and he shoves a beer mug into Mal's hands. He then looks back at the others, waiting for answers.
"We represent those who came through here last year," says Hyril. "One of them bought from your lord, may he rest in peace, an old tower in these parts and now she wishes to secure the peace of her claim. Now I am sure she would offer condolences to the people of this area and if I or we could be of help we would be glad to aid you. I am Hyril, I am an Avenger, my word is true."
"Well met, Hyril," he says. "I remember your friends. After they healed our Lord Farkaesh, the land itself seemed happy again. There was talk that brighter days were coming, despite his advanced age. We all were looking forward to the next dawn for the first time in many years. That was before the norkers came." He then tells you the sad tale of the norker invasion.
Recently, the village suffered repeated raids of norkers from the foothills to the south. The raids continued over a period of eight weeks, at which point the druidess Aldrelle came from her hermitage to warn Lord Farkaesh of a great host of the humanoids coming to surprise and burn the town. Aghan Naran assembled his small group of men-at-arms and militia and went forth to meet the threat. Hunting bows were brought out, old swords retrieved from attics, and hatchets, meat-cleavers, and pitchforks were sharpened for use.
The great host of norkers did arrive, hundreds strong. Though great generals may sneer at such a small force, it was almost five times the number of trained warriors that faced them on the fields south of the village. The battle was desperate as the village's common folk valiantly fought for their homes and lives. The humanoids were driven back at a terrible price; most of the defenders lay wounded or dead, and would have lost if not for the valiant stand of Aghar Naran. When the rest of the trained men-at-arms were slain and the remaining villagers ran, he alone stood his ground. Nobody knows how long he fought, but the norkers never continued to the town.
The next day, the survivors returned to the battle sight. Over a hundred norkers lay upon the field, more than half in one large circular pile around where Aghar Naran stood. When the villagers dragged the bodies off to burn them, his body was nowhere to be found. In the end, only a handful of men-at-arms remained, those who had stayed behind to guard the rest of the villagers who had retired to the castle. Over half the men of the village fell as well; no one in the town avoided loss of family or friends.
"And how long ago was this?" asks Filbin. "Who is in the running for inheriting the land?"
"That is the question," he replies. "There were many distant relatives who had been hanging on Lord Farkaesh's death for years, hoping to be declared heir. They remain, waiting for word from the capitol."
"A fine tale of valor and what even one good person can do to hold back evil," remarks Hyril respectfully. "I have two questions. What has been done to find Naran's body, or even if he might be alive?"
"Nothing," he says. "What could we do? Most of the warriors fell in battle, and those who survived were in no shape to chase after the norkers."
"If Aghar's body was not found, it is not certain he is dead," Din remarks. "Perhaps we should investigate."
"And what's a norker?" asks Hyril.
The barkeep glances over at Mal. "Nasty buggers, norkers. Distant relatives to hobgoblins, with thicker hides, and duller wits. Such a horde as descended on us was unheard of; they usually fight amongst themselves so much they never act so organized."
Mal says nothing, but he grips his warspear firmly as if to run it through someone if they move towards him.
"Are any of these distant relatives know to travel much in the northern lands or did any of them mysteriously not go to the battle when he or she should have?" asks Hyril.
"None went to the battle," he says. "Rather, they all stayed up at the castle."
"Yeah," says Marl mockingly. "The last line of defense." He drinks the rest of his ale, then stares into his empty mug.
"The Norkers sound nasty," replies Hyril. "It was lucky that your side won. I can see why you raise a toast to Naran whenever you can," he pauses, "and mock those who would not fight." He notices the villagers nodding in agreement, and then continues. "It strikes me that one of the goals of that attack was to capture Naran and weaken your defenses by his loss."
"We all lost something," says the barkeep, watching the big farmer with concern. He turns back. "The norkers weren't trying to capture Aghar," he says. "Aghar stood and fought when everyone else fled. He saved this village, maybe the castle too. He didn't have to do what he did."
"Yes he did," interjects Lareth, staring solemnly at the barkeep. "Yes he did." He then gets up and walks to the door. You hear him mumble something about choices as he heads out into the cold night, the echo of the door closing a final statement of affirmation.
After Lareth leaves, Hyril stands up, trying to take charge as he saw Emyn do. "Is there any night watch here in the village? If so I will take a first watch here in the inn. If there is not, one of us needs patrol outside, the other inside. Make sure our cleric and mages get enough sleep, and in the morning we can see what we can do. Is this acceptable?"
The party agrees, and then they learn some more background from the townsfolk, happy to have their help. The town has had a couple men patrolling for the last month, since the battle with the norkers. However, no evidence of their returns has been found. They maintain the patrols, but without a lot of enthusiasm these last cold weeks.
According to local trappers and rangers, there should be no more than 50 norkers alive within 30 miles, all to the south. What perplexes everyone is how the norkers, chaotic creatures by nature, could have been organized for battle on such a scale. The druidess Aldrelle, who reappeared after the battle had some new information. There have been rumors among humanoid tribes that the norkers had a powerful leader named Grakhirt. Little is known about him except the unquestioning loyalty the norkers gave him; no other beings have even seen him. Before the battle, the norkers were organized at the lair of the tribe whose chieftain is named Hragtam; perhaps this Grakhirt resides there. The ambition and charisma of this person are apparent. If he could discipline the disorganized norkers like this, what could be done with the more organized humanoid races such as the goblins and hobgoblins?
"Seems we're in for it," grumbles Din. "There is no way to clear the area around Cat's Claw Tower without first scattering the Norkers, who threaten the very base of power in this area. At least 50. Damn."
Godsday, 18 Fireseek
The party awakes the next morning to another cold, foggy day. Visibility is even worse than the day before, though it's a hair warmer. The villagers don't seem to have any other knowledge. [DM OOC: BTW, that's the DM's way of saying "don't wasted time asking more questions!]
"Miserable weather," grumbles Din. The party notices that he grumbles a lot. "The very warmth of my bones seems stolen from me. The ache in my joints tells me it's not like to get better any time soon. Let's be off. First order of business is to scout the forest for Norkers, no?"
"Maugrim belly groan," say Mal. "I go he eat. Be back when you ride." Mal and Maugrim do a short ride in the area. Maugrim uses his superior sense of smell to track down a medium sized rodent (hopefully not a farm animal but a wolfs got to eat). In hobgoblin Mal calls out towards the forest line: "Any norkers nearby brave enough to come and exchange words?" When none come to speak then he will ride back and rejoin the group.
The party leaves the village, following the path south into the hills towards Cat's Claw Tower. Around midday, as they get near the summit, they stop when Maugrim starts snarling. Just passed a large granite boulder stand four flinds. The flinds are 10' away from the front of the party, sitting around a small fire behind a large boulder. Both them and the party are equally surprised!
Mal dismounts taking up shield and spear given the short distance from him to foe. In goblin he speak, "Come to die or just warmth?"
"Non- fighters get behind us," shouts Hyril. Then he adds, "Greetings, we simply wish the use of this road but will defend ourselves."
The flinds spread out a bit, seeing Mal in the forefront riding his wolf. They take up large, wicked-looking polearms and seem to not understand anything said to them, or they don't care. Dymir takes aim at the flind, while the others spread out as well. Only Lareth doesn't move, sitting his horse and looking uneasy.
The leader of the flinds looks at Mal, scans the party, then back to Mal. He then barks a command at the others in a strange dog-like tongue, which makes them all back up a step though they keep their strange pole-arms pointed towards Mal and his wolf.
"We pass through too," says the flind leader in broken common. The others start barking, pointing at Mal, and the leader barks back at them. "Seek HIS kin," he says, pointing his flindbar at Mal.
"I say they pass," says Mal. "We seek first goal. Dirt herders insult Mal, no care if their misery increase." Mal puts the point of his spears up in a non offensive position.
The flinds growl at Mal, but their leader silences them with a bark. "Seek us goal too," he says. "Kill norkers. You good, can go."
"Killing norkers is a good goal," says Hyril. "Have they attacked your people too."
"Sounds to me as though we have a mutual problem," says Filbin. "The enemy of my enemy is not my enemy today' would seem to apply here. Let us move on." Filbin has the rest of the party move on, swinging into his saddle as the last past and riding at the end.
"We fight norkers long time," he says. [Don't laugh!] "Now track small group to cave."
He listens to Filbin, then says, "You come? We kill norkers all us." He makes a couple large wavy circles with his arms, as if to encompass the entire group.
While you are talking, two more flinds come out behind you, wielding very large longbows, arrows knocked and pointed at you.
Hyril sees them and says, "I thought there were more, that's why I asked someone to keep an eye on our backs." Then to the finds, "If you need some help we could aid you, or do you want to kill them all yourselves?"
The leader barks at the two archers and they slowly lower their bows, looking his way. The flinds talk amongst themselves, the newcomers pointing to the west, through the trees. After a bit, the leader says, "We find trail. This way." With that, the six flinds take off through the snowy forest, without barely a sound from their padded feet.
Brytallis looks around, uncertain. "I have a bad feeling about this."
You follow the flinds, until you get to a nearly frozen creek, tumbling down the mountainside. You are strung out in a long line, approaching a large tree which seems to serve as a crossing. Mal and Filbin fan out left and right as soon as they reach the stream. They do not see any other places to cross, riding a minute or so in each direction. As the flinds cross, a half dozen savage looking goblinoids rush out of the woods. They assault the lead flind so quickly that it is bashed by two or three clubs before it can react, and it drops to the frozen ground. Two others attack the one just on the tree, and knock it back into the freezing water.
"Do you know Flame Strike?" asks Brytallis, looking at Lareth.
Lareth glares back at Brytallis. "Don't talk to me," he says coldly, before turning away.
Mal and Filbin are riding back, and will be back on the map next round. Assume that off the map they don't have a shot. Din and Dymir may fire their missile weapons. Hyril looks at the stream, considering just charging his mount across it. Brytallis falls off the right side of his horse, doing a faceplant in the snow.
Meanwhile, Din swings his crossbow around, lining up a shot when his horse rears back. Not holding on, Din is thrown back off it. He slams his head on a rock, knocking himself out! [DM OOC: Violator, you always have the best fumbles!]
[Din OOC: Well crap. Din does nothing, then.]
[DM OOC: Well, that's one you can add to your sheet! Din fumbles his first attack EVER! Result, he falls, hits his head, and stuns himself for 1-6 rounds.
Light Riding Horse...75gp
Falling and knocking yourself out...PRICELESS!!!]
Dymir takes aim from his horse, and puts an arrow through the throat of the closest norker, killing it instantly. [DM OOC: Hm, one fumble, one critical!] Hyril then charges his mount across the stream. It's not deep, though it is freezing. He makes it across, then angles to take the norkers in the flank.
Lareth hesitates, then sighs, thankful no one else is hurt on his watch. Then he sees one of our own knock himself out trying to attack and rolls his eyes. "Lady Ellistrae, help those under my protection, may our blows strike true and our enemies blows miss widely!" Lareth fingers his holy symbol and speaks - casting Bless on the party. Then watches closely, prepared to render aid to any of our group who come to harm.
"Get those people up, Lareth!" yells Filbin. "We need firepower!"
[Filbin OOC: Brytallis you kind of expect to be lying about, but the Dwarf! tsk, tsk]
Mal rides up, firing his bow and hitting a norker . Filbin rides across the stream, then leaps from his mount, tumbles, and comes up behind a bush. Dymir fires again, firing at the one over the log and hitting it in the face. It's the same one Mal shot in the back, and it topples back over.
The norkers then attack, leaping up and clubbing/biting the flinds, taking down two them. The flinds respond with equal savagery, killing another two norkers.
Hyril rides forward, attacking from horseback and hitting one norker in the back, finishing it off. Nobody has a shot at the last one, but it's now surrounded by Hyril and two flinds. It turns to run away, but Hyril easily runs it down from behind, slashing it a couple times and killing it.
Lareth moves up and is able to heal two flinds with CLW. They are back awake, though sorely wounded. The others are very impressed.
"So how far away is this cave or lair?" asks Filbin of the flinds.
"Close," he says. "Cave there," and he points up through the trees, higher up the hill's slope.
"Great, stay here," says Filbin. He then uses his stalker talents to scout the area.
Lareth looks on impassively. He notices the flinds watching him, though they try to act like they aren't. When he looks at them, they glance away quickly. They then speak in hushed barking sounds, and he can tell they are talking about him.
Mal checks the norkers, curious. They have nothing. They wear rags, and don't even have pockets. Like stunted, neanderthal hobgoblins.
Dymir gathers up the used arrows, including Mals, and brings them back to the hobgoblin. Din comes to, and is disgruntled seeing as he missed the battle. "Damn slippery saddle. I was in the process of dismounting."
"What's Lareth's butt? He's not turning evil again, is he?" Brytallis asks the others, making certain it is loud enough for the rude cleric to hear.
Lareth just ignores him, prompting Brytallis to continue. "Lareth, what is your problem with my question?"
Lareth looks away. "If you had seen as much death as I, you would not be so quick to cause more." He then walks away, to check on the Norker that fell.
Brytallis, realizing he's just made an **** out of himself, says, "Lareth, I am sorry. Sometimes my mouth runs faster than my brain. I know you have much to atone for but you have made a good start. Just keep it up. I'll help if I can."
Hyril stays mounted and watches for other attacks. He glances down on the Flind leader and says, "Your troops fight bravely, I commend you." He then glares at Brytallis, before speaking to Lareth, "Thank you for your help." As soon as he is pretty sure we are momentarily safe, he dismounts and make sure his horse did not hurt himself fording the river. Finding all ok he remounts and continues to guard.
After a short wait, Hyril speaks up. "If you are done healing and searching, our companion has been gone about 15 minutes. Who is the best tracker in our party. Maybe one of the Flinds? We need to support our scout." He is obviously anxious to move out.
The flinds lead, following Filbin's trail. Soon the party approaches the cave. The sound of their horses footfalls makes loud crunching noises in the icy snow. The flind leader stops them. "Four legs no good," he says. "Leave here."
The party dismounts, with Lareth and Brytallis watching over the horses while the rest approach the cave. It is only a small opening about 4’ high in a rocky hill. Near the cave mouth is a half-frozen pond, fed by the small stream that runs down to where you fought the norkers. Next to the pond is a charred, dead tree with axe marks upon its trunk. Though there are a few scrubby bushes, the landscape is mainly stunty trees and shrubs, except for the stream, and everything is covered in a blanket of icy snow. As the flinds stealthily approach, a norker grunts, falls backwards from a hidden ledge above the cave, and lands headfirst, snapping its neck.
Everyone stops and looks up, where you see Filbin standing there.
Hyril looks up, waves at Filbin, then points into the cave. Clearly signaling the question, "'should we go in?"
Filbin makes an elaborate shrug, then starts down, looking for traps and guards still. Once he reaches the ground, he tells them how he saw the norker guards and moved up behind it to surprise them. He has an odd smile, like he knows something they don't.
[DM OOC: Here's what happened, all in PMs between myself and Filbin player.]
Filbin will attempt to get closer, watching for traps and guards. The ability to disappear in the woods will come in handy. He is using a slightly curved approach, like a bow, so as to not come directly from the fight area. He followed the norkers trail all the way to its source — a small opening about 4’ high in a rocky outcropping on the back side of the hill. The area you are in is dominated by the foothills of a great mountain range visible in the distance to the south.
Near the cave mouth is a half-frozen pond, fed by the small stream that runs down to where you fought the norkers. Next to the pond is a charred, dead tree with axe marks upon its trunk. Though there are a few scrubby bushes, the landscape is mainly stunted trees and shrubs, except for the stream, and everything is covered in a blanket of icy snow.
Seeing the rocky path and many limestone outcroppings on the hills, Filbin reasons that caves beneath the entrance occur here naturally or could easily be hewn from the rock, which has at most only a thin layer of soil atop it. He freezes into the background for a bit and sees if he can spot any guards. Staying hidden in the brush, Filbin virtually disappears. He waits for about 5 minutes, before noting movement above the cave entrance. On a ledge behind some boulders are two norkers, carefully hidden, watching from above.
If there is just the two of them, see if Filbin can quietly backstab them both. Check first that there is not a guard viewing this area as well. And make sure there are no traps. After that, retreat to the party and report. Filbin sneaks around, making a long loop to get behind them, moving silently. He gets to within just a few feet. He waits until they aren't looking his way, then moves cautiously through the brush, using Hide in Shadows and moving quietly until he gets to where he can strike. He will be watching for traps and other guards as well.
The crunch of feet on icy snow in the distance gets the norkers' attention. Filbin knows the party must be following after him, as he's been quite some time now. With the norkers distracted, he slips forward like the shadow of death and slits the throat of the rear norker. The slight gurgle makes the other turn around, and it snarls when it sees Filbin dropping its companion to the ground.
Filbin smiles at him.
The norkers grunts, and swings it's club at Filbin, slips on the icy ground, and falls backwards off the ledge. It lands on its head, breaking its neck with a loud SNAP! [DM OOC: Now THAT was an unlucky fumble!]
"Still haven't tried the entrance yet," he adds, leaving out the details of the norker's death fumble.
Din cocks his crossbow and is ready to enter. Hyril loops off a dead branch of a nearby tree and uses it as a 10' pole. He sheaths his sword and proceeds to probe the entrance to the cave, looking for traps.
"Dear me. What are you trying to do?" says Filbin quickly, stopping him before he does something to set off traps. Filbin checks carefully for traps before entering. Finding none, he carefully peeks in, ready to tumble out of the way if needed. The cave goes forward into the hill about 30', descends a bit, turns, and opens to a small chamber. He can't see more without going inside.
Filbin sneaks into the cave, alert for traps and trouble. He finds neither. He comes back out a minute later. "The cave is not big, and there is a hole going down from the next chamber with a ladder in it. Many tracks lead to and from the hole. I think we've found their lair."
"We will have to leave our mounts outside," said Lareth. "I shall watch them, while the rest of you continue on." With that, he gathers up the horses, leading them a little away.
The flinds bark back and forth, then one of them stays behind with Lareth. The rest move into the cave. "We first," says the leader. "You follow."
Bry joins the rest of the group and says, "Why don't we just smoke them out? I bet this cave has a back entrance where we could then ambush them."
Filbin shakes his head. "Who knows where this cave goes," he says. "It certainly goes down, and smoke goes up. I know caves, and it wouldn't work, not without more knowledge of the cave system. All we'd do is alert them to our presence."
Hyril says to Lareth, "Keep an eye on your new ally," glancing at the gnoll. "All of you stay safe."
"More like a new pet," grumbles Din.
[Filbin OOC: Which means most of our healing and all clerical spell support will be outside.] "Be careful, friends," he says. "If we need healing it may be a long haul back."
"Hey scout," says Brytallis sarcastically. "Get in there and look around before we die of old age, would you?"
"I just told you what's there," replies Filbin. "Clean out those ears a little better and follow along."
There is a small hole in the floor of the cave with a ladder going down into the darkness. Filbin, using his infravision, can see that there is a chamber down there. Those who do not possess infravision will not be able to see in here.
Being his usual insensitive self, Mal grumbles, "Dark blind humans need go first with fire or hang back" He is however glad to hear the hole is small. "No dragon down there riiiiight?"
"Depends on whether there is another way in," says Filbin with a grin.
Hyril will let those who can see go first while he lights a torch.
"This is bad, very bad," mutters Dymir. He stays close to Hyril.
"Do not worry," replies Hyril, giving Dymir a reassuring smile. "Do your best and we will prevail."
The ladder leads down to another chamber. Filbin hears nothing below. From the ladder he can see that it goes down to this room. Though the room is empty of traps and creatures, there are signs that it recently held many beings. Discarded food scraps, an occasional trail of blood, a couple of broken weapons, and some discarded, bloodied bandages are scattered about.
[DM OOC: The ceiling height for this entire level (carved out by norkers) is not greater than 5½’, requiring taller characters to stoop and be less able to fight effectively, unless using thrusting or stabbing weapons such as short spears, daggers, and short swords. Any character between 5½-6’ in height has a -1 “to hit” on all attacks, save for those made with thrusting and stabbing weapons. Characters taller than 6 ’ have a -2 “to hit” penalty on all attacks of any kind and cannot use medium or large shields effectively (no armor class reduction for their use). All dwarves gnomes, and halflings are completely unaffected by the ceiling height with regards to attacks they make, though they must use weapons appropriate to their size, of course.]
Last edited by ragnar on Thu May 28, 2015 7:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
The ladder leads down to another chamber. Filbin hears nothing below. From the ladder he can see that it goes down to this room. Though the room is empty of traps and creatures, there are signs that it recently held many beings. Discarded food scraps, an occasional trail of blood, a couple of broken weapons, and some discarded, bloodied bandages are scattered about.
Those with infravision descend, looking around carefully and quietly. Without touching anything, Mal looks for any exits out of this chamber. He sees a door that has very rusty hinges. It may not open, and if it does will probably be very loud. He also hears broken goblin from down the hallway, where the two alcoves are. "Hear sumthin?" Looking that way, a norker head peaks around the corner!
Filbin charges down the tunnel, where he runs into TWO norkers. He stabs at the first one, but trips over an old bone and falls to the ground. Both norkers leap atop him, slamming him with clubs and biting him. He takes one club blow  and two bites  and .
Mal rushes down the tunnel, stabbing at one of the norkers, but missing, while Brytallis stays behind.
Filbin is prone, but not stunned or anything. The two norkers are above him, beating and biting him. Mal has moved up, but Din is still back in the chamber. The tunnel's only about 4' wide, so only one can fight in it at a time.
The norkers attack, with one clubbing Mal , and one clubbing  and biting  Filbin. It also bites off Filbin's left ear. [DM OOC: Another strange critical!]. Filbin curses the slowness of his movements, as he tumbles away down the tunnel, coming up ready to fight further.
Mal attacks, driving his spear through the norker's stomach, killing it. The tunnel continues, splitting into two tunnels just beyond where Filbin ends up. Hyril, once he hears the commotion, starts down the ladder with his lit torch, Dymir following. The last norker cries out, a very loud and savage cry, just a Mal and Filbin attack it together, hitting it from both sides and slaying it.
[Filbin OOC: So much for surprise. Ah, well. Check all three ways at the intersection. See if I can see anything. Still looking for traps.]
As Filbin turns around, he hears footsteps in the dark somewhere and a norker call, though the echo in the tunnel makes it impossible to tell exactly where it comes from.
Hyril He drops to the floor, and his light stops everyone's infravision!
"Why do humans ALWAYS have to bring torches," whines Brytallis. "I mean REALLY! REALLY?"
"Don't you have a Light spell?" asks Dymir. "Those don't screw up your vision, do they?"
"Any light source does that," he replies in a condescending tone.
"Then this could turn into a deathtrap," replies Filbin. "Mal and Din guard the passage. Hyril, let's see if we can open this door. If we can't achieve surprise, we need to get out."
"I told you we should have used smoke but does anyone listen to me? NOOOO....!" laments Brytallis. "Why listen to the guy who is smarter that the rest of you combined. I swear, I am working with morons..."
"Those who are injured drop back for healing from our cleric and send forward some others to support me." Hyril says.
Up top, somebody calls for Lareth. He comes trudging over, leaving the flind to watch the horses. With a sigh, Lareth goes down the ladder. He clearly doesn't like it down here. He enters the tunnels, where he finds Filbin and casts CLW on him. Din just grumbles about the tall humans and their lights.
Also, Hyril opens the door, which is not really hard, though it makes a loud squeek. Beyond is another tunnel. He sees the lower half of a prone norker about 15' down the tunnel, in an alcove to the right. The tunnel continues, turning to the right passed the norker.
Hyril moves quickly up to the prone norker, which he finds to be lying unconscious, a spilled amphorae of wine next to it.
Meanwhile, Filbin moves forward, where he can see a bit more. There's another tunnel heading up to the left. Down that tunnel comes a norker, which almost plows into him. A flurry of blows follows, as they both miss each other.
Brytallis moves up and slits the throat of the sleeping norker as Hyril stands at the door. "I thought they wanted this door open," he says. "Now they are going the other way? I will just stay here, with my torch, and take a guard position," he grumbles.
"Who is watching the horses?" asks Dymir.
"Bugger the horses!" says Din. "Filbin's in trouble!" He then follows Mal who just rushes down the tunnel.
Filbin backs up, fighting defensively and letting the norker follow. It does, not seeing Mal in the other tunnel. As it attempts to hit Filbin with its club, Mal runs it through the side with his spear, killing it instantly! [Filbin OOC: Nice tactic!]
Brytallis moves down the hallway and slices the drunken norker's throat. Hyril is about to back up, when he notices. Rather than leave the mage undefended in the hallway, he holds his ground, keeping an eye on the other end of the tunnel.
Two more flinds and the leader move down the ladder. It's VERY crowded in the chamber now, so Din moves down behind Mal. He squeezes passed him and around to his left. Behind him is a passage going back to his left, but before he can check it out another norker comes around the corner ahead of him. He fires his crossbow instinctively, but he misses, the bolt bouncing off the wall behind it. The norker rushes forward to attack, but missing as well.
The norker yells in a rough form of primitive goblin. Mal understands "enemy" which is enough.
Filbin glance behind him, thinking he saw a door there. He does so just in time to see it open. Standing there is a particularly large norker. Rather than the crude stone clubs common to the others, this one wields a large mace!
The norker in the doorway swings its mace at Filbin, hitting him . Filbin is knocked backwards, off-balance, as another comes up on his left flank, seemingly from nowhere [DM OOC: though Din sees that it came from the far SE tunnel]. It also hits Filbin  with a club, and bites him . Filbin is reeling from the blows!
The norker attacks Din as well, missing, and is quickly joined by another, from the eastern passage. It misses as well. Filbin tosses his crossbow back behind him, towards Mal, and takes out his 2-handed axe.
Mal steps up towards Filbin and stabs behind him, just between Filbin and the wall, hitting the norker . The norker grunts, but keeps fighting.
Filbin stabs out at the norker to his left, killing it, then takes a step that way to give Mal some space too.
[Back at the entrance, Brytallis takes out his wand. Dymir moves that way, covering the hallway, while Lareth stands in the center of the entry chamber. Hyril looks around the corner, and he sees that the tunnel ends in two doors. Both are barred with large braces jammed against them and keeping them stuck shut from this side. Two flinds move down towards the sounds of battle, while the leader and two more talk in their strange barking language.]
Filbin tumbles behind the two fighting Din, stabbing one in the back and killing it! He sees another through an open doorway to his right. The passages behind him continue, and he hears norkers there too. Mal steps to his left, fighting back to back with Din. Din glances that way, then mumbles something about hobgoblins as he swings his axe, missing again.
The big norker follows Filbin, attacking him and hitting him again with his club . The other norker comes down through the doorway, and it too attacks Filbin, who is now surrounded by norkers. He takes another club blow . They miss with their bites. The one attacking Din gets his club tangled with Din's axe [fumble] and gets no attack next round.
One flind comes around the hallway, attacking the large norker from behind, but missing.
The others runs through the doorway into the chamber to the west. Up north nothing interesting happens. Nobody moves down into the darkness where the others are fighting. The flind leader and one flind stay next to Lareth.
Brytallis moves down to the end, checking the doors. They don't have locks, as the norker doors are crude. Thus the norkers have jammed them closed with braces. He sees that opening them would be quite easy, just remove the braces. Hyril stands guard in the corner, while Dymir and Lareth hold their positions.
Filbin tumbles back away from the norkers, coming up in the intersection of three tunnels. To the right he sees LOTS of norkers, more than he can count. Three older ones stand in a line, blocking the way. Beyond them the others seem to be young and females. To the south, another large norker stands guard, wielding a mace and shield. It slams the two together repeatedly as it prepares to charge. Beyond it, down the SE tunnel, Filbin sees other norkers, either dead or sleeping, lying on the dirt floor unmoving.
The large norker turns around and attacks the flind, joined by the smaller one which now ignores Filbin. The flind then slays the large one, while Din and Mal combine to kill the other one. Sounds of fighting come from the west room where the other flinds went.
"We need fall back!" shouts Mal. "We give away our only advantage in tunnels."
Lareth stands resolute, waiting for the group, prepared to find some way to defensively aid the group should they be followed.
Brytallis thinks it's better to leave those doors alone, so he moves back to the ladder. Dymir moves aside, watching behind them, as Hyril moves into the chamber as well. They cannot see down the other hallway, as the torch only sheds 30' light.
"What find?" asks the flind leader, but he is ignored.
Down the tunnels, the battle continues. The norker bites the flind, while more charge Filbin. One steps up from the chamber with the young, hitting him with a club  and biting him . Filbin looks back anxiously, about to tumble away, when the large norker from the southern tunnel moves up and hits him with his mace . Filbin goes down hard under the blow!
A HUGE norker [huge for them being about 5' tall!] comes out from the eastern passage, sees Din, and throws an axe at him. It misses, flying passed him and sticking into the dirt wall behind him. Another norker sneaks down behind Din, who doesn't notice, and brains him in the back of the head .
Din shrugs off the blow, spins, and takes the head off the smaller norker with a backhand swing of his axe! Mal stabs with his spear, but can't quite reach. The flind kills the other norker, then steps up to fight the large one.
"Why have these fools split up in the lair of their enemy?" mutters Lareth. "Have they not heard Islme's tales of the Heroes of Hommlet and the kobold lair?"
Lareth casts light down the tunnel, which instantly blinds both Mal and Din.
Mal backs off, while Din blinks away the effects. He then sees the big norker finish off the flind before turning towards him. The norkers down the southern tunnel move up towards Din. The large one loops around to the left, taking Mal in the flank, who turns to face it. By then Mal can see again, and he is able to block the norker's blows. Then Hyril comes down the passage, swinging his sword and making the norker back up a step.
Finally, the last norker slams it's club into Filbin's head, smashing it open like a ripe melon.
Din hacks through the norker standing between him and Filbin. "Mal!" he shouts. "Filbin's in trouble! We have to get to him." "SOME ASSISTANCE!" he shouts back up the tunnel.
"I can't help if you continue to run blindly into the caves to your deaths," shouts back Lareth. "A strategic retreat and regroup would be wiser."
"I am staying here," says Brytallis. "No point in rescuing idiots who run off in ten different directions to their deaths.."
"Where is everyone?" shouts Hyril? "Get them and lets fall back to a defense position."
Hyril hits the large norker once , driving it back. Dymir moves down the hallway, coming up behind, his bow out. He fires a shot which whizzes out, just passed Hyril's ear, and slams into the large norker's face, dropping him.
Mal drinks his potion of Hill Giant Strength. "Dying time," he says in goblin while Din attacks the norker before him, slicing it in two with a stroke of his axe!
Lareth looks at Brytallis, shaking his head. "We must help though," he says, then moves down the tunnel to the alcoves. The flinds look at each other, then move that way as well, leaving Brytallis alone in the entry chamber.
The norker that killed Filbin charges towards Din, attacking him with club and bite. It misses. It's joined by another two from the chamber beyond. The other one misses, while the third is behind them and can't attack.
"Would you make up your mind?" says Brytallis. "Fine!" he adds and moves forward so he can see better.
"Seems this is everyone except Filbin," says Hyril. "Where is he?" He steps to the right, as no norkers can attack him right now, and prepares to defend the right side of the black pillar thing in the middle of the room. The others are fighting on the left side of the pillar as they face it.
Din steps back, seeing Mal suddenly looking...stronger. Mal stabs out with his spear, driving it through the nearest norker with such strength that the others just stand there, gaping. He doesn't even pull the spear out, he just drives further, stabbing the next one, in effect pinning both norkers to the far wall! The last norker turns and runs away the way it came!
"Someone keep an eye on these doors, and great work Din," says Hyril. He steps around the pillar looking for Filbin.
"Filbin! Where are you?" calls Brytallis.
He doesn't answer.
Hryil moves forward, glancing the way the flinds went. He sees a larger chamber with tables and chairs. A couple of dead norkers are within, as well as one dead flind, sprawled back over a table. He hears fighting going on in there still.
Mal moves forward, checking on Filbin. He's clearly dead, his face smashed in by a club. He sees more norkers to the left, moves that way, and attacks. He kills the first one to stand in his way, the one which ran away, stabbing it through the belly as it turns towards him. He rips his spear out, and in the room he sees what looks like half a dozen females and a dozen young. He stands there, panting at his exertion.
Behind him Din picks up his crossbow, then moves forward to cover the next passage. The passage to the NE goes through another crude doorway, already opened, and into a chamber. He sees a large tapestry hanging on the opposite wall. With infravision, he can't make it out. You also hear a door slam to the south. You can see the door on the map, about 15' passed Filbin's corpse. It turns towards the south. Anyway, that door slams shut!
Dymir covers the rear tunnel with his bow out. Lareth moves up and the flinds flow around him towards Hyril. When they see the dead flind in the chamber to the west, they rush inside. They stop and growl/bark at something.
Brytallis moves up by Lareth. He continues around the column, and when he sees what is left of Filbin, he immediately empties his stomach. He's never seen a dead comrade before.
Seeing Filbin's crushed skull Hyril says to Brytallis, "Sorry, can you pull Filbin's body back to Lareth to see if he can help Filbin? I need to go and help in here." Hyril goes to the room on the right where the fighting is happening.
Brytallis quietly does as he is told.
Din keeps his crossbow aimed down the northeast passage.
[Din OOC: We're actually still in good shape, with the exception of Filbin. And we've got them on the run. Retrieve Filbin's body and retreat? Or continue on? And what to do about these women and children? Were we not tasked to slaughter the lot of them? Din waits while we assess the situation, and defers to Lareth's leadership.]
The females charge Mal. He kills two quickly, taking three bites in the process [3, 1, and 1: total of 5].
Hyril enters the west chamber, with all the tables, and finds the flind leader and the other flind fighting a massively large norker. It stands atop a small dais, before a throne-like chair. As he enters, it bashes the last flind's head in with a mace.
Dymir makes his way around to Hyril, and when he sees the flind fighting the norker chieftain, he fires his knocked arrow. It hits the norker chief in the shoulder, driving it backwards .
Din moves into the NE corridor, just to take a peek. He sees a bedchamber of a norker, maybe a sub chief. An open door beyond leads to another chamber. Through there he just makes out a crate on the floor. Seeing and hearing nothing, he returns to Lareth who casts Continual Light on a norker mace he picks up.
When Din asks Lareth what to do, Lareth looks uncertain. He glances at the longsword in his hand, and Din sees Lareth's hand tremble slightly.
Lareth casts "light" on his longsword, then he cautiously continues to walk forward towards the commotion. He prepares to cast a mass command spell if large numbers of norkers come forward, ordering them to "flee."
"I didn't come here to lead" he mumbles, clearly irritated.
Mal kills another of the norkers, taking no hits in return. Din moves over to Filbin, helping Brytallis pull the body towards Lareth. Dymar fires another arrow, missing, while
Hyril, as he moves to fight the Norker, yells, "Surrender if you want any chance to live!"
The norker ignores Hyril's call to surrender. Hyril has to move around all the bodies, so doesn't get an attack this round. The norker chieftain and the flind leader trade blows; both are sorely wounded.
Hyril fights defensively, but the norker ignores him, concentrating on the flind. The flind leader is hit again, knocked back to the ground, and the norker chieftain turns on Hyril.
Dymir fires his bow, putting two arrows into the chieftain, driving him backwards where he falls back through a hanging curtain.
In the east chamber, Mal kills another norker female, taking a bite from the other . He then slays her with another spear thrust. The bodies are piled up before him, making a wall about 3' high. Beyond it, he sees the young all huddling up against the far wall.
Brytallis goes through Filbin's pockets, picking up those things which seem valuable, as Din moves down the corridor. He sees Filbin's shortsword on the ground where he fell. He then glances inside the eastern chamber, before taking up a guarding position at the corner.
Dymir has no shot now, so he holds, waiting. Brytallis moves up behind him. Hyril steps up and cuts off the head of the prone norker chieftain.
The air was stagnant with fear, the smell of rage wrapped itself around their throats near suffocation. Dark was the chamber, blood dripping from the pile like a light rain. The crackling of a distance torch cries from a nearby friend. "Sit, We decide soon your fate," says Mal in goblin. With that Mal turns to follow Din down the corridor!
"Mission accomplished," says Lareth.
That just couldn't be helped!
Lareth casts CMW on the flind leader, reviving him. Then the party looks around the throne room. This room is used for meals and celebrations, as well as torturing of prisoners — an activity that these norkers consider an art. It was last used for a meal, so the four tables and crude stools are set out rather than piled haphazardly along the walls. Upon the roughly-hewn dais is a large, intricately carved, thronelike chair (obviously not of norker craftsmanship). Behind the chair was a curtain of cheap red cloth dividing this room from the next. The chieftain pulled that down when he was knocked backwards by Dymir's arrows. Hragtam, the chieftain, also has an item of value strung around his neck: a small, finely crafted, silver statuette of a female warrior. Unfortunately, the norkers drilled a hole through its neck so that it could be strung on a copper wire and worn by their chieftain.
The chamber beyond, as well as being used for the storage of most of the tribe’s treasure, is the sleeping quarters of the chieftain Hragtam. He has a crude bed, stolen from a human cottage some years ago, that is slightly rotted and has no mattress, but is instead filled with moldy, dirty straw. Underneath the bed is an old wooden chest. There are some other items of potential interest to the party scattered about the room. On the southwest wall are hung a variety of weapons: a composite long bow with a broken string, a short sword with a rusty hilt and notched blade, three 5’ spears with bronze heads in good condition, and a quiver of 20 arrows (four of which are silvertipped). On the north wall, near the foot of the bed, is a 5’ spear which holds on its tip a mummified, severed flind head (a war trophy of Hragtam’s). On the southeast wall is a large, human-made shield with a beautifully painted coat-of-arms (crossed golden sabres with a golden palm tree above them on a black field).
Hyril makes a note that this room needs to be better searched as well as the body of the chieften. He puts the head on one of the tables then continues to look for battles. When he sees the kids he says to them, "Which of you is in charge now."
"Mal get some healing," says Hyril. "Then Mal smash a few of these doors and see what's on the other side, carefully."
"I have an healing potion if anyone needs it," says Dymir.
"Don't waste the potion," says Brytallis. "I have Filbin's. Why he never drank them, I have no idea. Pretty stupid if you ask me. Drink this one." He hands it over to Mal.
Brytallis hands Dymir the five arrows of paralysation that Filbin had on him. "Anyone able to use a magical short sword?" he asks.
[DM OOC: Brytallis didn't pick up his sword. It was dropped back where he fell. Dymir already has a great bow. He can throw the other bow across his back if he wants, but it'll be cumbersome. You guys have to remember, it's not a video game where you just pick up stuff and can magically carry everything without any thought as to how you're doing it! There are two other potions of ex-healing, which Brytallis keeps as he's the one who stripped Filbin's corpse. Brytallis can put those on his sheet.]
Lareth just shakes his head.
Mal moves down the passage, towards the door that was slammed shut. Off to the southeast, he sees a large chamber. Lying around are about a dozen norkers. They all look sorely wounded, and the place smells of disease and death. The door to the south is jammed shut.
Hyril is not with the others. He's in the chief's room. Lareth is in there too, having just cured the Flind leader and cast Detect Magic to look around. He finds nothing. Dymir is there as well, as he picked up some stuff. Din and Mal are down to the southeast, before the southern door which was slammed shut earlier. The chamber of wounded is to the southeast of them. Everyone else is in the chief's throne room. Brytallis is down there, as he took the two potions of healing to Din and Mal.
"Bad Omen," says Mal. "No go in room of death." Mal rips the southern door off its hinges and if not immediately attacked places the door over the opening to the disease room. "Fell better now, move on."
He rips it off quite easily. There's a grunt from beyond, and glancing there, while holding the door, he sees a big norker standing there. It lifts a mace, but Din fires his crossbow point blank, hitting it square in the chest and driving it back to the ground. It doesn't move again. There is nothing in this chamber, except for another door at the far end.
[DM OOC: I'm trying to do things in sync between the two groups, but you all know, it gets tough. This is essentially round 18. I don't have any idea what the guys in the chief's area are doing. They are now a round behind.]
"Let's find out what is behind that door," says Brytallis.
The three of you enter, after Mal makes sure the busted door is jammed well. The next door is locked as well, but it's nothing Mal can't handle with his giant strength. He bashes it in, which basically splinters the whole thing.
Light from within momentarily blinds you, but in seconds you can see again. There is a fire burning in the center of the room, dimly but enough to see. This room is rather messy and cluttered, filled with all sorts of things, useful and not. The bed is by the west wall is of rather good human make. Under the bed is a small open crate. Covering the floor are, three rugs, haphazardly spread around. Scattered on, under, and around the rugs are various coins of all types, several goblin and gnoll teeth, some crumpled pieces of parchment with illegible scrawls, some broken feather pens, and other useless things. On the north wall are three shelves, full of various things, vials, herbs, etc. The top shelf has a book, a stack of vellum, and what looks like ink and quills. In the center of the room is a bronze brazier with a block of incense burning in it. Scattered around are a few piles of more incense blocks. You hear chanting from beyond a door on the other side.
Bry whispers to Mal, "Break down that door before their shaman completes whatever spell he is trying to cast."
Mal kicks this in too. This chamber is a shrine to the deity Maglubiyet. Directly opposite the entrance is an altar on which monthly sacrifices (every new moon) are made of the hearts of creatures with souls. The altar is carved from limestone and rudely sculpted with the forms of fighting norkers. Leering over the altar as if studying the figures is a large, stone statue of Maglubiyet, with rubies as eyes. On either side of the altar is a dull gray iron brazier with smoking incense.
Kneeling before it is a norker, clearly a shaman or witchdoctor. It looks back at you when you kick the door open, holding hand up as if appealing for mercy.
"Stop and kneel in surrender!" says Mal in goblin. "Do this now for the little norker's who still live and we no kill you" "No surrender and none will harm the children."
Brytallis casts Sleep, and the norker drops to the floor, snoring loudly.
Brytallis calls to Lareth and says, "Lareth, we found their shrine to their god. It's a vile place that might need your attention."
"I am going to find the others," says Lareth. "They shouldn't be running off alone. Let's go."
Lareth makes his way over to the others. He notes that the shaman has a magic necklace. Hyril, Dymir, and the flind leader continue looking around in here. Dymir flips the bed over. The chest is oak, banded in iron. It is locked.
The chieftain had the key, and the chest contains much of the tribal treasure: 430 cp, 2,439 sp, 1,054 gp, 25 pp, three gold earrings set with small pearls (each worth 160 gp total), a jade map case (value: 435 gp) with a rolled up scroll inside, and a flindbar.
Meanwhile in the chief's room, the flind leader cuts the head off the norker chief. He then takes the flind head off the spear and replaces it with the norker chief's head. He also takes a small gold ring from the chieftain's hand, which was underneath his body and not noticed before. He places it on his hand, smiling (which looks more like a sneer on his hyena-like face.)
Dymir then goes back to open the door to the south. It is a ramshackle door, propped closed with a rock. Most of these doors are not real doors like you find in more civilized areas. These norkers are just not that advanced, mostly. Dymir and Thurr (I just gave the flind leader a name, which will be easier than always writing "flind leader") come with you. Thurr stops and says something to the dead flind before continuing. He is not looking happy, though the flinds never look happy. At their best, when they grin they just look like animals looking at some fresh meat!
So, you hear nothing from beyond the door, nor is there any light there. Opening the door, reveals a storage chamber full of crates. A small passage off to the side leads to another chamber, and you can barely see a couple of barrels in there. There is another chamber there, smaller and full of barrels and casks. There are 50 pints of ale, 125 pints of beer, 15 pints of mead, and 42 pints of watered wine. Most of the room’s contents were stolen from merchant caravans, hapless travelers, and an occasional farmhouse. There are no empty ones.
The party then gathers to decide what to do with the rest of the norkers.
"We no slaughter the norker childern regardless of our feeling," says Mal. Mal will agree to ask the shaman some questions then he expects the group to do the right thing.
[Mal OOC: Give the shaman at least a club to defend himself and the children. Allow them a couple of crates of food. Agreed its the goblin version of trail of tears but if the gods will it then they will make it to safety.]
"We be no butchers of children!" he adds.
"As a few people have noted, norkers normally do not band together," says Lareth. "The local druidess, Aldrelle, said the norkers were led by somebody named Grakhirt; however, the chief's name was Hragtam. So, there's clearly more going on."
After binding the shaman, the party questions it. Shum-Valka is the shaman's name. He is very much an evil-hearted coward. He will take the wounded norkers and the children and flee into the mountains if you let him go. Remember, he can ONLY talk to Mal, and only barely since they are hard to understand.
"Wolfmen said find Grakhirt here," says Mal. "I no come to attack but forced to defend" "Where find Grakhirt?" "I talk with Grakhirt" "If you freed, need leave area. Villagers and friends intend kill you. No come back."
"Grakhirt down," he says, pointing at the floor. "Deep caves." Then he answers Mal's other comment. "Yes, go far way, long way, no come back."
Bry will collect the herbs and potion items so they may be given to Lyseious later on. He will also take any papers in case there are recipes or other important things one them. If some are written on, he will look at them to see what they say should they be written in an understandable language.
While this is going on, Hyril continues through the rooms, looking for unopened, non secret doors. He goes into room 17 and its two extra rooms, saying, "That altar needs to be destroyed." Then into 16 then 15 then 11 and its extra room and then into the small passageway to the northwest of the pillar. If he finds any doors or Norkers he will stop.
Rooms 15 and 16 are the common rooms. They are filthy, and where the majority of the tribe seems to have slept. Room 16 is now where a dozen wounded norkers are sleeping, all near death from wounds suffered in the battle with the villagers. Hyril passes by, not wanting to enter the smelly chamber, the scent of rotting death just too strong. He moves on, ignoring the frightened young, then checks out the other tunnels. By then, Dymir catches up to him, Thurr behind him. Together, they head up the small passage. They then loose Thurr, who slips off on his own.
At the end of the small passage, they find a cave used by the norkers for the storage of weapons. Stored in the room are five javelins, two light crossbows, a broken crate with 94 normal arrows (of which 63 are in usable condition), 12 clubs of the sort normally used by norkers, two hammers, a single short sword with a rusty blade, an unopened crate, three horsemen’s flails, and three short bows without bowstrings. There is also a human-sized suit of plate mail tossed into a pile in the corner. An open door to the right leads to another cave, and through the door you can see some crates in there as well.
Carefully he will examine the unopened crate for writing and if there is an easy way to open it. If it looks safe to open Hyril will grab one of the hammers to open it. It is full of crossbow bolts, probably about 200.
Hyril moves carefully into the room with all the unopened crates and repeats the process of check and then open with hammer. When he enters the room, he immediately notices that it is cold, very cold, like outside winter cold. He thinks that strange, because the cave has been a pretty stable temperature so far.
Hyril steps back out of the room. He goes in search of Lareth to confer with him about magic. He says, "I hope your Detect Magic is working because I have a room full of weapons, some of which may be magical. But then I found a room of crates that is unnaturally cold, like winter outside cold, I suspect magic is at work here. Please come."
Lareth goes back with him, finding no magic on the way. About the time he enters the cold room, his detect magic will end. However, he does not detect any magic when he enters. None of the weapons are magical, nor anything in the cold room.
Hyril, asking Lareth to stand in the other room, just in case, examines and then opens a crate in the cold room, unless something occurs to stop him. He opens the first crate, and it contains perishables. It's like this is some sort of natural refrigerator. He reaches toward the wall that the crates are stacked against.
He says to Lareth, "There is enough stuff here for an army. You don't suppose they were using this as a supply base? And are there more of these pllaces? Questions the shaman might be able to answer."
As he says that, there is a sudden chilling affect, as if the heat were being literally drawn from Hyril's body. He takes  damage, and he falls backwards, unconscious, not really sure of what just happened. Lareth grabs him, putting down his sword. Hyril is freezing! He first casts a CMW [healing 14]. Hyril's eyes open up, and he finds himself lying on the ground, Lareth administering to him.
[DM OOC: He would have died just now if not for Lareth being there. Just a note of warning....]
"I feel as if I should say thank you," he says, getting up, "but I want to get somewhere warm. Then I will say thank you and ask what happened." With that he stumbles out of the room.
Once in the next room, Hyril is surprise how week he still is. "I need more healing," he says as he pulls out one of his bottles of healing. If Lareth offers him more healing he will accept the spell, otherwise he will drink one of his potions. Lareth cures another 11, and Hyril feels better. The chill doesn't quite go away, but he definitely feels better.
[DM OOC: The party's split into two groups again, with Lareth, Hyril, and Dymir in the armory next to the cold room while the rest are in the shaman's room. Maybe we should wait, let the party come back together?]
[Mal OOC: I think Din is the only person in the shaman room other than Mal. If anyone stops him then he will obviously be compliant but...]
Mal stands the shaman up and says, "No oppose me or Friends. You and survivors travel high into mountains. No turn back till way out of area." He then cuts the shaman free and tell him to pick up a crate of food. Unless the shaman knows of surviving wounded adults, stack some clubs on top of the food crate. "We go get children," he says. Have the shaman tell the children to line up and march him and the kids to the entrance of the caves. "Go and no come back. Take care of kids or I find you. Stay clear of villagers and go straight to mountains. No safe here, go quickly don't look back."
The party comes together now at the central pillar, just as the shaman is leading the young and wounded out. "Hold on," says Hyril. "Ask him about that cold room."
Mal translates, and the shaman says, "Mold," he says. "Yucky cold."
Lareth hangs back and waits for the party to regroup. He doesn't mess with the mold, remembering Zuggtmoy and her minions.
"Molds are very dangerous, I have heard," says Brytallis. "Best we leave those things alone."
Hyril tells the party, "There is a lot here to deal with; Treasure, weapons, a trap door, maybe other stuff, but there are more doors yet to be opened., the ones I started to go to. I will feel better once we have checked out those doors." He sets out for the doors in room 3 to the west from where they entered.
The party heads back that way, after the other norkers have left. The doors are stuck shut, with large posts jammed between the walls and the doors, keeping them jammed shut. All you have to do to open them is remove the beams.
Mal rips one open. The door reveals a small dank chamber. Water trickles through the ceiling, puddling up in the NW corner. The room smells horrible, of filth and feces (I guess that's a bit redundant!) It's only occupant, is an old, battle-scarred norker of very large size. He looks up when you open the door, and seeing Mal instantly comes to his feet, balling his fists as if ready for a fight.
He sees Hyril, heavily armed and armored, then looks back at Mal, before speaking in Goblin. "I Kargh," he says, before asking, "Hragtam?"
"Dead," says Mal. "You can stay. I can put wooden beam back, you like starve?" When the norker shakes its head, he continues. "You obey me now. Choose fight with us or go back in cage."
"Kargh fight," he says, drawing himself up so that he's almost as tall as Mal.
"Maybe this fellow has more informaion of what is in the deeper areas?" asks Brytallis. "Ask him."
Kargh laughs, "Kargh know man speech," he says, "but speak own tongue more. Kargh know secret door. Kargh was chief before GRAKHIRT," he says, spitting the name out venomously.
"Who in other cage," asks Mal.
"Kargh don't know," he says. "Lock Kargh up when Grakhirt come. Long time."
He looks up at Mal. "Kargh no lose honor," he says. "Shum-Valka use magic, know thoughts. Hragtam lock me up when I no like Grakhirt." He looks at the others. "You look Grakhirt, Kargh help. I show you way to Grakhirt, then go home. We from far in mountains. Hragtam bring clan here. Hragtam gone, I am chief. I take clan home. You kill Grakhirt. Good no?"
"Yes. We accept your word," says Mal. He then pulls the timbers out of the left door to make sure someone else isn't caged.
This is where the majority of the prisoners of the norkers are put. Conditions are terrible, to say the least, and the prisoners have been ignored since the battle with the townsfolk. Not counting a starved and dead goblin, and the bones of an old dwarven prisoner, three prisoners remain, all in pretty bad condition. There is a man, a half-elf, and a flind. The man and half-elf huddle in the right corner, while the flind lounges in the left corner.
Lareth moves in, heading over to the man and the half-elf first, taking the measure of their wounds. Each are pretty well beat up, but without permanent injury as far as he can tell. The flind sits still, eyeing you all carefully.
Thrarr enters, and when he sees the other flind, he growls and immediately attacks him! Mal blocks anyone from interferring. Thrarr has been loyal and there has to be a reason for this drastic action. The fighting continues, and the prisoner flind snaps the neck of the Thrarr, the flind leader. As the Thrarr slumps to the ground, you notice the flind gently lower him to the ground, as one would do a fallen comrade. He seems genuinely sad, as much as you can tell such emotions on a flind.
"Who are you and why did you fight?" Din asks menacingly, brandishing his crossbow.
The flind speaks in a very houndish form of common. "My name is Remarr," he says. "Thrarr was my brother," he adds, looking down sadly. "It was a personal matter that could only end one way....or another."
Lareth says some prayers to the Goddess, casting cure spells upon the two before turning his attentions to the new flind. "Remarr is it?" he asks. "Would you object if I read your auras?" [i.e. cast Know Alignment.]
The flind looks around, then shrugs. Lareth says the necessary incantation, then reads the auras surrounding the flind. "Interesting," he says. [Saving lots of posting, for which I don't have time, he's Chaotic Good. Lareth sees a strange affinity to nature, akin to that of Lord Berenn in fact.] "Very strange indeed."
"There's another of your tribe up top. Do you think he'll give you the same warm welcome?" Din asks the Flind.
The equipment for the flind is in the armory and chief's room. He can get equipped quickly. The half-elf will take the human, just a merchant, back to the village. He takes up a spear, and they leave. The other two were dead. The norker, Kargh, was sub-chief before, and he was imprisoned for not going along with Grakhirt's scheme to use the norkers against the village. He explains that Grakhirt is an extremely powerful wizard, who can do just about anything he wants. His power seems limitless. [To a norker!]. He is on the lower level, though Kargh has never been there. This wasn't the norker's original home; that was far in the mountains. Grakhirt led them here for his own purposes, whatever they may have been.
The flind says,"That is the reason I got captured. Finding out why the norkers were behaving strangely. I would help, but then the others will not. It is up to you."
The rest of the party heads to the chief's room, where you are shown a secret door behind the chief's bed. It opens into another tunnel. This area of the complex is particularly damp. The slow trickle of water from above makes the wall glisten almost as if it is sweating, as well as causing rippled lime deposits on the walls. The water runs along the floor of the tunnel and down a crude set of stairs carved into the floor.
[DM OOC: Remarr is a new character, replacing the lost Filbin. Never had a gnoll PC in the party before!]
With the death of Filbin, the player came back as a flind fighter (Wilderness Protector).
Remarr was always more attuned to nature, but unlike the others of his kind, more in a protective way, hence the kit. Basically, that kit gives him all the ranger abilities. So, he's a flind ranger (though technically just a fighter). Anyway, he has had dreams which led him to forsake his tribe and wander the wilderness alone. The norkers were doing bad things, and seemed led by some other force, something made them more organized than normal. So, he was checking them out when he was captured.
The flinds that the party is with, they really don't care about the norkers. They have been looking for him! They tracked him to where he fought the norkers, and then tracked the norkers here. They are looking for him, and want to kill him for leaving the tribe. When they find him, that's what they'll try to do.
Anyway, that's his story in a nutshell. He has a superstition about dreams, which is a positive one. He will have strange dreams once in a while, which may give him benefits the next day. I'll play with that as we go.
The party carefully makes its way down the stairs, until reaching another tunnel. Most of this level has walls, ceilings, and floors glistening with condensation. The moisture drips down to form rivulets of water on the floors. The tunnel quickly reaches a junction, with one branch heading left and ending in a door, a real door, and the other heading right where it ends in a T-intersection. Just before the end, there is also a side passage to the left.
"Those of you with night vision, go ahead," says Hyril. "I will follow with a torch."
"Dymir, would you take a guard position," says Din. "Watch the northeast corridor, while the rest of us deal with this door?" he asks.
Brytallis says, "Can we get moving please? I am not getting any younger."
Hyril listens at the door, prompting a chuckle from Brytallis. "Oohh. The paladin thinks he's a thief now."
"Someone needs to do it, but I can't hear anything if you keep talking," replies Hyril with clear annoyance. "Anyone else want to try listening?"
"Just open it, meat shield," says Brytallis.
Mal busts the door open quite easily. This currently unused room is strewn with an assortment of tools for inflicting pain upon captives. On the south-west wall is a strange device (a rack), and next to it a rack full of torture implements and such. In the center of the room is a large wooden table, upon which lies the dead body of a man, his skin completely removed.
"A horrible end," Din says, then spits in disgust. "Do you suppose the skin is some sort of delicacy for them? More likely it was removed for some arcane purpose by that shaman we let loose."
Din searches the floor for trap doors and the southwest corner for secret doors while we set up for the next room.
"Mal, take the door to the left and kick it open," says Brytallis. "Or are you afraid of this one too?"
"Have we tried opening any, yet?" says Din. "Our friend may injure himself with his magical strength. Although haste seems warranted."
Din will cancel his search if we are ready to go. Too many real doors to check to check for imaginary ones, as well. Although the leader has a serious head start on us. What's our elapsed time, like half an hour? Well, we didn't actually find out if the leader had gone below or if he already was below. For some reason I'm thinking he was already there. I think what we got was "Grakhirt below."
As Mal is pushing the super large table over to block the door, the west door flies open. Standing there in all its fury is the ogre torturer. It's small for an ogre, which perhaps explains why it likes to inflict pain so much. It doesn't surprise anyone, as you were watching the door.
The ogre steps up and drives a spear right through Hargh, who says something like "argh!" It pulls the spear out, and Hargh falls to the ground.
Din fires his crossbow, but it just barely nicks the ogre . Hyril steps up, taking a defensive stance. Mal turns, leaving the table, and moves back to the ogre. He attacks with his spear, hitting the ogre for . It roars in pain!
Lareth sighs, though he can't really do anything himself, now that everyone is in the way. In fact, nobody else can do anything, and no more missile weapons can be used at all.
Hyril yells, "Back out," then, since it has a spear and can reach around him, starts attacking with his sword, while waiting for the chance to back up a step.
The ogre hits Mal . Mall misses with his spear, but Hyril hits  with his longsword.
Nobody else is doing anything, since nobody else can reach. Brytallis backs up to the table, standing next to Lareth. This leaves room behind the others, and Hyril backs up. Everyone else is pretty much jammed into the torture chamber. Mal then takes his second attack, but misses.
The ogre stabs with his spear, hitting Mal again . Mal drops to the ground, his spear clattering on the floor. It then backs up a bit.
Din fires a crossbow bolt, hitting the ogre . It grunts as the bolt sticks into its arm, and it grabs it, ripping it out. Remarr steps up, stabbing through the doorway. He drives his spear into the ogre's gut , wounding it quite severely.
Brytallis climbs atop the table, prompting a "what the hell are you doing?" look from Lareth.
Only Remarr can fight it now, as he takes up the whole doorway.
Hyril grumbles to himself, "The idea of backing up was to get more people to be able to fight, not less."
Hyril moves up behind Remarr, while Lareth moves over to Mal and uses his healing proficiency to heal . Mal's back at zero again.
Remarr is stabbed by the ogre . He stabs it back, driving his spear through the thing's neck . It gurgles, as blood spurts out into Remarr's face. With his off-hand, Remarr uses his flind bar to rip the spear out of the dying ogre's hands. The thing then staggers, stumbling to one knee. Yanking his spear free, Remarr kicks the ogre, pushing it over backwards. It lands with a heavy thud, dead.
"Good work." Hyril says, "looks like you can use some healing."
Lareth checks the norker, but it's dead too.
"Uuugh. Chest hurt. Brymage curse Mal. Talk of meat shield bad omen." Wearly Mal stands and brushes himself off. He takes a second to drink one of healing potions, then walks over and pees on the body of the dead ogre. "Bad spirits stay here!"
Brytallis now enters and checks out the room. This chamber is rather filthy. There is a bed, some nasty food, refuse, etc. You don't want to know what the food is! There is also a small sack under the bed. After finding a handful of PPs (7) and a couple of gemstones, the party then turns to the north door. Hyril uses a key found upon the ogre torturer, unlocks the door, and throws it open. Din and Dymir stand back to the sides, bows ready to fire into the room if necessary. Mal, his potion finally ending, is being tended to my Lareth, and is healed of  points.
Though he mutters annoyingly, Lareth does realize the good he does for the group, and the respect they give him as their healer. It is altogether a new feeling, to be respected but not feared, and much more rewarding. The more he contemplates, the more sour his disposition, as he ponders the years lost in the service of Lolth. "Wasted Years," you hear him whisper to himself.
Inside the room, lying against the far wall, is an old baklunish man. He looks up, almost bored, and stares at Hyril through his one non-swollen eye. "Back for more?" he says. "Just kill me and get it over with."
"We're here to kill Norkers, not humans, friend," says Din. "Today could be your lucky day. Who are you?"
"I am Aghar Naran," he says, standing up.
Din brightens up. "Aghar Naran! I knew you yet lived! Clanggedin allowed me to sense it. Your townspeople had given you up for dead. Do you require healing? Our healer here is without equal."
"What do these thing want of you," asks Hyril.
He shakes his head, seeing Lareth off by himself and seeming to sense the man's dour mood. "No, I will live. I've taken worse beatings in the brothels of Ekbir!" He then laughs as Din helps him to his feet. "I could use my weapons and armor though," he muses. [You may remember the gear with the crossed sabers/palm tree? I think it was in the chief's room, as a trophy.]
He also answers Hyril. "The norkers didn't want anything to do with me," he says. "After leaving nearly a hundred of them dead on the field of battle, I think they thought I was a demon or something." He laughs a bit, though he holds his side when he does so. "They didn't even want to touch me," he adds. "But they had orders, from Grakhirt. He's the one behind all this, that mangy cur!"
[DM OOC: I know you are going to ask, so he tells you what he knows. Grakhirt is a wizard, and a pretty tough one. It was he who brought all the norkers together. The tribe that lived here was not that big, as you can tell from the tunnels. He brought about 10 tribes together for the attack on the village. He wanted Aghar Naran alive for some reason. He also seems to have been answering to somebody else, or at least was hired by someone else. Aghar doesn't know any more than that.]
"Accept this, at least," Din says, handing him one of his precious Potions of Healing. "It may save your life, and your people are lost without you."
"My people," he says. "Would that it were that simple, but the succession will likely go to one of those damnable relations!" He spits as he says it, "They've been waiting for my brother to die for years now."
"We should move swiftly," interrupts Brytallis. "The more time you give a wizard to prepare, the worse off you will be when you meet him."
Unfortunately, Aghar doesn't know where the wizard is, so can't help. However, when he came into the torture chamber, it was always from the right door. Since you've come from that way yourselves, that makes it pretty obvious that this Grakhirt is somewhere down that tunnel to the NE.
Remarr scouts ahead, being more...scouty. Actually, you first have to move the table. Without Mal's super-strength, you have to use a few people to do it. You push it aside, then can open the door. Remarr moves ahead. The side passage to the left (going roughly north) is filled with mud. At just about the edge of his infravision, he can see a rock fountain, overflowing, in the middle of the tunnel.
"We are employed by a young Lady who came through here with a party that cured the lord of this land," says Hyril. "She then bought from him an old tower. She sent us to make sure this land was safe for friendly peoples to live in. I am Hyril, an Avenger, and if this Grakhirt is a problem then we should get rid of him. Also, the people of your town want you for the new lord we have talked with them. This would seem to be the best for our Lady as you are known to be fair and good. Let's get your stuff and do what we can."
"I know of this lady, Hepla," he says. "There was another Avenger with her as well, if I recall? As for the succession," he adds, "What the people want is irrelevant."
Hyril will go with him to get his gear. He then tells him of Hepla and Emyn's marriage and how they are now on a sort of honeymoon. "As far as what the people want, if you have a place in the noble bloodline then that seems to match up with what the people want and I am sure you would be more appealing to the liege lord since happy people pay taxes better then sad or dead ones."
While Hyril and Aghar go back up top, Remarr will check out the next intersection. There's a tunnel to the left (going north) which bends as it goes, so he can't see where it leads. To the right (south) is a chamber with an underground stream. The north passage leads to a chamber with more passages. The south chamber is empty, just the underground stream running through it, but there is another chamber to the SW. It smells quite bad there, and Remarr doesn't go any closer. He really hates bad smells!
After a while, you realize that it has been a long time since Hyril and Aghar Naran left. Considering that it would have taken a good 10 minutes to get the armor on, you had to wait for a decent bit. However, it's now been unusually long time.
"Make yourself useful and go look for them," says Brytallis to Din.
"I think we should stay together and all go look for them," replies Dymir.
Lareth agrees. "Splitting up is the worst thing we can do." The party heads back upstairs. In the chief's chamber, they find the shield gone. They then continue to the armory. When they reach the entrance, they find it blocked. The various racks and storage bins are all piled up in the entrance, totally blocking the way. The party heads around the other way. Inside the storage chamber they find Hyril's body. His breast plate has been removed, and his heart has been ripped out!
[Hyril OOC: I guess he's dead.]
Lareth says a silent prayer over hyril's body.
[Lareth OOC: DM going for a TPK?]
[DM OOC: No, DM is just not messing around! I can't post details this time; however, I will say there was ample opportunity for Hyril to not die. For now it's a mystery.]
Dymir looks at Lareth. " I once saw an old shaman speak with the dead to solve a murder. Would that be helpful here?"
Lareth shakes his head.
"I would suspect Aghar, but the gruesome details point to a beastly murderer," says Din. "Which leads us to wonder, is Aghar alive or dead, or is he in fact a werewolf? Perhaps that's how he killed so many Norkers?"
"Perhaps this Grakhirt has control over him somehow," says Brytallis. He then takes Hyril's two remaining Healing potions. "For safekeeping," he says. "Someone should also take the sword and shield."
When he looks around, he finds the sword is gone.
"What have we walked into?" asks Dymir.
"I don't know," replies Brytallis, "but something that would rip out a man's heart must surely be unnatural. Maybe we might learn more if his breastplate were to be found. Did he remove it and was then attacked or was the force of the blow such that heart and armour were torn from him in a single blow. Can anyone tell where his assailant might have gone?"
[DM OOC: Yeah, Hyril's breastplate is there. Whatever killed him removed his breastplate before ripping out his heart.]
Remarr inspects the ground. He finds something very odd. There are two sets of footprints leading here (the ground is just dirt, and damp at that, so he can follow them.) In the tunnel just before the armory he sees that the footprints stop. One set turns around, while the other set ends. However, a new set of hoofprints begins, prints that look more like a goat than a man. There is a fight, with the goat prints advancing while the human footprints slowly retreat. This continues all the way through the cold room, where he loses the footprints. However, finding Hyril's body there seems to tell the rest of the story. The goat prints then turn back into man prints, and he loses them in the tunnels where they mix with the rest of the party's prints as well as the norkers. They seem to be going towards the exit though.
"I knew it!" snaps Din. "Aghar is a shapeshifter. The hoofprints leave me puzzled, however, and are like no shapeshifter I know. Perhaps Aghar is some sort of demon from the Abyss...as he, in fact, said to us, enjoying the perversion of telling the truth. Either he was summoned by Grakhirt and assumed Aghar's shape, or he has been acting as Aghar for some time. Perhaps this demon was what killed the king and the other heir."
[DM OOC: BTW, bonus points for Din for picking up on that comment!]
Din smacks his fist into the earthen wall of the tunnels angrily. "It must be destroyed, but may be beyond our power. Do we seek it out, or seek instead the summoner below?"
"Now is not the time for caution. If this thing makes it to the village, many will die. Stop dickering and move!" commands Brytallis.
Lareth literally starts laughing at Brytallis' whining. "Now the worm grows a backbone. We need to confront this evil head on, here, not run home back to the village and hide under the bed."
"I'm with you," Din says. "I understand you have experience with evil beings of the netherworld. You will know if we're in over our heads, yes? What kind of creature do you think we face?"
"Fine, Lareth," replies Brytallis. "But if we come back out to find that this demon has eaten the villagers, then that is on you. Personally, I thought worshippers of Elistrae has a higher regard for preserving life. "
Lareth looks Brytallis up and down with a look of disdain and says, "well MOST life," and rolls his eyes. He then turns to the others. "I have no idea what we face, though considering the number of deaths so far I can only assume we are over our heads. Well, maybe you are. I have no intention of leading here; I only came to provide healing and get away from those pressuring me. What the gods will, the gods will. Some die, some live. What I will say, is you don't work together as a team, and you keep running off alone, you are probably going to die."
Remarr tracks the prints, back outside, which is easy since it recently snowed. He follows the prints a bit, towards where the party left their horses. The flind is dead, slashed with a long sword, and Hyril's mount is gone. The prints end, Aghar having mounted up and ridden off towards town.
"See...what did I tell you?" says Brytallis. "We're heading into a village of soon to be corpses. Wonderful. Hepla will be thrilled."
You mount back up, and then begin the trek back to the village. About half-way there you find the corpses of the half-elf woman and the merchant. The merchant's heart has been torn from his chest as well. The tracks head down towards the village.
"Any thoughts as to how we'll take on this demon on his home turf?" asks Din. "He will surely shift shape to Aghar Naran once again, and then we'll be forced to slay villagers as they jump to his defense. "
[Remarr OOC: Well of course you would believe what a hobgoblin and a flind said over your beloved leader returned from the dead. We are a party of strangers passing thru, the two leaders of the group are dead, we have two humanoids in the group and we say he is a monster. What's not to believe? I figure Remarr isn't even going in the village. If we don't catch it beforehand, then it's up to you guys. Either Lareth beats it or we avoid the village from now on until they are all dead.]
[Mal OOC: I would tend to agree. Mal will lend missile fire support but he's not sure he can even damage this thing with shafts of ordinary wood.]
Bry gets on his horse and starts heading to town. "I may be the weakest of you but I will not stand by and let this happen. Are you cowards or will you follow me?" He rides off.
"They are your people, not mine," replies Remarr. "Do as you see fit. They would kill me in a heartbeat if they found me in their fields. I'm not stupid enough to stick my head in a lion's mouth."
"We may be able to get you in under cover of darkness," says Din. "Let's see where the tracks lead, first."
Unfortunately, the party loses the tracks in the creek, and with darkness approaching you probably won't be able to follow them quickly.
"Stupid humanoids," mumbles Brytallis. "If they hadn't wasted so much time mewling like scared babes, we would have caught him by now."
"I didn't see you tracking. Show me how it's done, mighty human." Remarr stands back, arms crossed.
"I leave lesser tasks to lesser beings, like you," replies Brytallis.
Din stops the argument, then rides along with Brytallis. "Hopefully we find more signs of the demon on our way. Brytallis, what is your plan if we don't? A house-to-house search? Aghar will likely go straight to his castle. I don't like leaving Grakhirt behind to plot his revenge, but the Norker's power does seem broken."
"I think Aghar is Grakhirt," replies the mage. "And I think he is not a demon but rather polymorphed himself into something else. Still, that dog is right, and we cannot track during the night. We may have to find shelter and recover. At least I know Dwarven blood is true and strong and willing to be brave, unlike others here."
The party decides to go back and camp at the norker cave, then follow the tracks in the morning. While resting, they go through the rest of the place. They find Grakhirt's chamber which is comparatively well furnished. There is a nice feather bed, an oak desk, a book case, and a dresser with a large mirror. In the dresser are other clothes, mostly of average quality. On the desk is an inkwell, a feather pen, and several pieces of parchment detailing the norker forces, the village forces, and the outcome of the recent battle in a “play-by-play” style — with many angry notes. There's also a note that Aghar Naran has ruined his plans, but that this brings new opportunities, regardless of what Arham wants.
The books are not all that interesting, though one stands out. It is plain a plain journal, and it is full of details on the structure, operation, signals, passwords, and key members and contacts of the Pellak Assassins’ Guild. Finally, you find a journal of sorts about an illusionist named Arham. He apparently had some secret lairs scattered around, including this one. There are notes to another, with a crude map sketched out. It's a few days from here, judging from what you can tell.
"Whoever this Grakhirt was," says Lareth, "it seems he quickly grabbed some things and fled. Things have been recently rummaged through, and some other stuff is strewn about, as if somebody went through things in a hurry. He probably took off when we left and started back to town."
The party camps for the night just inside the cave entrance above. An uneasy silence filled with dread thoughts hanging in the air as they sleep restlessly.
Waterday, 19th of Fireseek (582)
You pass a rather uneventful night, with the watches careful to ensure no surprises. In the morning you take your leave of the norker caves, moving back outside. It's another cold morning, temps ranging from 20-40*. Wrapped up tightly in your cloaks, you take to your horses and head out.
"We should go to this other lair," says Brytallis dryly. "Everyone in town is probably dead already."
Din agrees. He takes along the journal with the Assassin's Guild contacts, as well. "Our Flind companion will be more comfortable outside town. Our hobgoblin companion, as well," he says, looking at Malgubet.
The party agrees, and they travel for the better part of the day, skirting the higher foothills as you travel west. Going is slow, there being no roads. Just before nightfall, you reach a river cutting down through the higher hills to the SE. This is the river which passes by Castle Hagthar [see map: I added both Grakhirt's Lair and Arham's Lair to the Cat's Claw Tower map in the Verbobonc thread.].
You spend the night in a sheltered area of the valley, passing the evening uneventfully. You are also completely healed by now, and have spells replenished.
Earthday, 20th of Fireseek (582)
You get up early, as the cold really makes sleep uncomfortable anyway. It's another cold day, with an even colder wind blowing strongly from the NW. The stream heads up the steep valley, and you are forced to walk your horses through part of the way, as it is simply too precarious. The snow also hides many hidden pitfalls, making going slow. Around midday, you come through a narrow draw, and find yourselves in a large valley. Steep hills bound it to the north, while the same hills quickly turn to true mountains to the South and Southeast. Ahead, a low range of north/south hills separates this valley from the river which runs from Rastor down to the Velverdyva [I don't think any of you know its name.] The map indicates that you should skirt this valley to the north, where you'll find a rocky knoll. There lies the entrance to Arham's secret lair.
"Send the flind ahead to scout. He probably knows the area," says Brytallis.
He shakes his head no. "This is a few days from my clan lands."
After skirting the valley to the north, you find an ancient path leading up the side of a single mountain. It quickly turns into a narrow ledge along a virtual cliff side. The info you have says this is the way to Arham's Lair.
"A perfect place for an ambush," Din says. "I like not the looks of it."
Not wanting to lead their horses up the narrow ledge, the party ties them up below. They then continue along the ledge.
[OOC: And watch them get scared off or ate! LOL! Rags must have been kicked in the head by a horse when he was young.]
[DM OOC: They don't ALWAYS die!]
[Mal OOC: I'm pretty sure Maugrim would not appreciate being tied up nor do I think it would be effective if he wanted to leave. Tied up you would be less able to defend your self.] "Try not to eat any of the horses," he says. "Stay here."
"Then tie up the horses, let the doggy roam free, and head up the cliff path," says Din. "Just hurry up," he mumbles.
"Not dog," grumbles Mal, flashing a foul look at Din.
"Dog, hobgoblin, warg, flind," says Brytallis sarcastically. "It's all the same to me. Just don't pee on the carpets."
Din takes lead, so we'll have a good chance of slaying any guards or scouts he sees, at a distance. Everyone else follows, with Mal and Remarr giving Brytallis a wide berth, lest they cut off his head.
You follow it up for a few hundred feet. Eventually, you reach a large natural opening in the cliff face. A semi-worked tunnel leads inside, quickly splitting off and turning.
Remarr tries to see if anyone else has come this way. It's a rocky ledge, so you can't really tell.
"Someone should look down that other small opening, just in case," says Brytallis, hanging back and looking at the "meat shields."
"A perfect spot for a guard outpost, although I see no guards," Din says. "We'll likely need to clear it, so that we're not attacked from behind and so no warning is given." Din checks out the small opening. The other opening is a small cave, like 2' high. It goes back into darkness and turns out of sight as well. The other passage is about 7' high. Squares are 5' wide.
Dinor also notices that the passage did not occur naturally. Further, it's clear that the passage's entrance was once concealed. The camouflaged portal was destroyed, by what you cannot say, but the rubble shows that it was broken apart physically.
"The west passage is natural, but the east is definitely man-made. Here, look at this," Din says, holding a piece of rubble. "Looks like there was some sort of secret door here, once, to waylay travelers as they passed or investigated the cave. I suggest we inspect this tunnel first, and avoid the natural one if possible. Although both may contain traps. Seeing as we've lost our thief...Lareth, do you have a spell that can help us?"
"No."Lareth says grimly. Then goes back to sulking.
Brytallis volunteers to look in the small tunnel, since he isn't that large. He crawls down the side tunnel. After about 10' or so, it branches left and right.
"I don't think our mage should be our scout," says Din. He shrugs. "But it may be a suitable end for him."
Lareth nods in agreement.
The two tunnels each go about 15-20' and then turn south. Brytallis backs out. He is NOT a courageous person, by any standard. Thus, he realizes that he has no business crawling into these tiny tunnels. It takes him a bit to push himself back out, but eventually he reaches the entrance. "That was a dumb idea," he says to nobody in particular. Lareth actually smiles, thinking that maybe, just maybe, there's is hope for this group after all.
"Well," says Din, looks like it's pretty obvious.
Heading down the main tunnel, Din in the lead, he makes it to the side tunnels. They are also about 2' tall, and burrowed crudely. However, the main passage is worked stone. [The arrows show that the tunnels go down.] Anyway, once around the corner of the descending and turning main passage, he sees light ahead. Peering down the tunnel, there is a chamber [room 3] ahead.
[DM OOC: With all my map updating during play, sometimes this don't come out right. Anyway, this shows the map with quite a bit revealed. Eh, it helps to follow along, so it's no big deal.]
"These tiny tunnels could be the work of Derro, or some other unsavory critter," says Din. "Be on the lookout." He advances slowly towards the chamber, giving his eyes time to adjust to the changing light conditions.
The passage opens into a chamber. There was a door here, but it has been broken down. The looks like it was a workshop. There is a workbench along the SW corner, along with some sawhorses. Assorted carpentry tools lie on the workbench and hang on the walls. Hanging from an iron hook on the south wall is a lit lantern which illuminates this room. In the NE corner is a large, sturdy, iron-bound chest. There is a door in the east wall, and a passage to the west leads to another chamber. In that chamber, you can see a large wooden dining table in the center, surrounded by half a dozen chairs. A curtain hangs over an opening in the far wall. There is another door in the north wall of that chamber. Finally, there's a large fireplace in the west wall, which is lit with a roaring fire.
"This looks like a meeting place of sorts, " says Brytallis quietly.
Though not used recently, as you can obviously tell. Well, except for the fire that is burning in the fireplace.
Din says, "Boy would Thorgrim like all these tools!"
Mal tries to open the chest, but finds that it is locked. He then checks the east door. It opens the other way, so even if you could put something heavy over it, like the chest or table, it wouldn't stop the door from opening. He then goes back to the chest, ready to break it open.
"Let's not break open that chest until we see who's here," Din says, quietly. "We likely could've passed unnoticed, but it's good to be certain." Din pushes aside the curtain to see what's behind it.
Beyond the curtain is a kitchen. In the kitchen 's northwest corner is a fountain of briskly running water. A stone projection from the wall, carved into the shape of a horse's head, delivers the water from its mouth . The liquid then falls into a stone basin, also hewn from the rock . There is a table by the curtain, upon which food was likely prepared. There is an open box on the table, within which are some cheese, bread, and dried fruit. A firepit on this side has a tripod with a pot hanging above it, the water not quite boiling. The firepit doubles as a fireplace for the dining room. There's an open door in the north wall. Glancing in, you see a privy. Din sees a giant rat sitting atop the privy. It squeaks, then disappears down the privy hole.
As he turns back, the door that Mal had been checking out opens up. In steps a man, wearing a cloak. He looks young, though his hair is white as snow. When he sees those of the party still in the workshop, he curses, obviously recognizing them. "You!" he snarls.
[DM OOC: I have taken the liberty of spreading the party out a bit, through these three chamber. You should be able to see where each of you are located. ]
Dymir turns, arrow knocked and ready, but he doesn't shoot right away.
"Who are you?" asks Brytallis, pointing his wand in the man's direction.
With a couple of words, the man disappears. Brytallis tries to fire magic missiles, but the wand doesn't work. [DM OOC: Not an anti-magic shield or anything. There's just no target, and that's essential to Magic Missile. No big mystery.]
Dymir fires his bow, but the arrow doesn't hit anything. The door then slams shut again! Brytallis yells for help!
Lareth comes in, looking around. He then looks at Brytallis. "What happened?"
"The shapeshifter," he replies. "He came through the door, but before we could act he went invisible. He then shut the door."
"Any idea where he went," asks Mal.
"Seems to me he went back through the door," says Lareth in that superior tone of his that he tries so hard to conceal. "Else, why close it?"
As you can see, Mal is at the doorway in room 3 which leads to room 8. He opens the door, revealing a bedchamber. There's an old bed along the southern wall, with a circular table next to it. Atop the table is a bronze oil lamp, currently lit. There is a large tapestry hanging on the north wall, showing a man standing on what looks like the trail outside, looking out over the valley. A secret door in the east wall is open, and you hear footsteps running down the passage leading away [towards area 9 which is dark].
Din and Mal charge down the passage, entering another chamber. This was apparently a study, both the north and east walls are covered with bookshelves that reach to the ceiling. Most of the shelves are barren and dusty . A few scattered titles, however, were left when the illusionist moved on: a treatise on tropical weather patterns, a manual detailing the construction of canoes and rafts, an astronomy handbook of constellations, several volumes on humanoid anatomy and physiology (goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, gnolls, and kobolds), and four more texts on whatever topics the DM can dream up. [OOC: that means I'll make up some random ones!]
In the northern part of the room is a cushioned chair that, despite its age and thick covering of dust, is in quite good condition . A small wooden table holding a bejeweled goblet and a parchment scroll is in front of the chair. Against the south wall is a mahogany desk . An lit oil lamp is on top of it, along with several feather pens, an inkwell, and five sheets of blank parchment.
Brytallis and Lareth move up into the bedroom, with Brytallis looking down the small tunnel to the north. It is another 2' tunnel, dug into the wall, and clearly not part of the original construction of the place. Dymir keeps a keen eye on the exits from junction of the entry-hall, with Remarr guarding the area with him.
While bending over to look down the tunnel, Brytallis notices another tunnel dug under the bed. [That's where the T trapdoor symbol is located.] He tells Lareth, and the two push the bed aside to reveal another tunnel, again about 2' tall, heading down through the floor/wall and going south.
"He's invisible," says Din, "and may have led us here by illusion. Guard the entryway while I check for secret doors, if you please." He then searches the southern wall for secret passages.
Brytallis casts Detect Magic, and quickly notices something in the corner. He picks it up, and finds that it's a small vial with but a few drops of magical fluid within it. "It was a potion," he says. "Whoever this was must have drunk it." Seeing nothing else in the room, he calls Remarr and adds, "If he were still here, I'd pick up the magical emanations. Can you find the trail?"
Remarr knells down and inspects the floor, esp the two tunnels. There are giant rat prints in both tunnels leaving the bedroom, but he also finds some very small human prints leading north. They are prints of a person about 2' tall.
Din grabs the goblet and the scroll. "I'd bet my last copper he's the rat, and the other trail his Derro slave or somesuch. Although I saw a giant rat in the privy, I should mention. Very strange, given there was someone here. Another of his compatriots? Perhaps they're all wererats!"
He looks into the tunnel, swearing. "How in Hell's Holy Heart are we to follow?"
"I don't see how we can," says Remarr, moving to the chest. He then starts to break it open with the flindbar. "I suggest someone check the other door, the one we haven't opened. After that take what we can and set the rest on fire."
Lareth goes to Dymir, "Let's go outside. If he is attempting to flee through the rat tunnels, then we shall find him on the ledge and block his escape."
Dymir nods, and follows Lareth outside. Meanwhile, Mal moves to the workshop, to take up guard position, while Brytallis uses his Detect Magic to look around. The scroll which Din grabbed resonates with strong magical energy. Nothing else does, so Brytallis starts to flip through the books. Suddenly, you hear a "Woo hoo!" from Brytallis.
"A spellbook!" he shouts exultantly!
While everyone else goes about their other business, Remarr breaks the chest open. Suddenly, a noxious gas erupt from it. Remarr, very susceptible to gas, falls to the ground, chocking and coughing. Mal, Din, and Brytallis hear Remarr's distress, and move to where they can see. As the gas subsides, they find the flind lying prone on the floor, unmoving. They go to his aid, only to find him dead.
[DM OOC: Another one bites the dust! I guess I should add, now that the chest is opened, that Brytallis also detects magic from within the chest. There are four potions within.]
While Mal checks out Remarr, Brytallis reaches into the chest and takes out the potions. They are labeled in common: Glue, Oil of Slipperiness, and two are labeled Shrinking.
[Din OOC: Where's Elrae with his Queen impression?]
Din joins the others on the ledge to cut off possible escape, ready with crossbow to take the mage at distance if need be.
Brytallis then pillages the corpse. He has nothing that catches the attention of the mage, so you can ignore him. As Din runs outside, he hears a high-pitched cry from down the side tunnel to the right, followed by some skittering, or squeaking, or whatever sound rats make.
Brytallis will make his way outside and cast phantasmal force. The illusion he creates will be that ice and snow block the small exit to the outside. It will fill the entrance for as far as he can see. He will stay and concentrate on it. He recommends to the party that they find a way to capture the rat or the small person at one of the tunnel exits.
Dymir pulls out the silver dagger from the sarcophagi room and the 4 silver tipped arrows from the chiefs room. "I think these might help us," he adds.
Din replaces his normal bolt with one of his bolts +1, in case this thing should be a wererat.
Brytallis says, "Are any of you idiots going to follow my orders? Give me strength, amateurs, just how are you going to find a tiny invisible man? Follow my instructions and you may get out of this alive. We also have two shrinking potions if two of you want to become tunnelers."
"It may be our best bet, to flush out the rat," Din says. He looks at Mal. "Preferably by someone proficient in spearfighting, or some other thrusting weapon."
Brytallis says, "You know, the rat is probably just his familiar. If you kill it, he will be badly weakened. He's probably just a mage. Wererats like sewers, so I have heard, not frozen caves."
While the party is discussing options, a little man comes running out onto the ledge. He turns and sees Lareth, standing there barring his path. He turns the other way and there's Dymir and Din, pointing their bows at him. He's bleeding from a pretty nasty cut on his arm, which he holds with the other.
"STOP!" yells Dymir, drawing a bead on him.
"I think not," he says, then leaps off the ledge, casting a spell. Dymir fires an arrow into him, hitting him in the back as he casts. His levitation spell is foiled, however, and the suddenly not-so-smug villain cries out as he plummets to his death.
A sad look crosses Lareth's face, after the man's fall. "Few deserve such a death," he mutters.
"Deserves got nothing to do with it," says Din.
"I guess a ring of feather fall was not among his possessions," jokes Brytallis.
"Well done, Dymir," says Din with obvious relief. "I couldn't have shot him better myself. " He turns to the party. "I want to see the corpse before we leave."
Din and Dymir head down, it's only about 50'. Of course, that was plenty far to kill a 4th level illusionist! Oh, and one that was already injured by something.
At the bottom, they find him, very dead. He has a small pouch with broken glass inside and liquid that spilled out (lost potions). He wore a red silk tunic with sable trimming (value: 160gp), a brown leather belt with gold wire, decorative stitching and a gold-inlaid silver buckle (worth 55 gp total), and a mink cape for the cold (worth 2,700 gp). You also find a magical dagger.
You've cleared out the place, and from the information you figure out the following. Grakhirt came from Bissel, where he was a member of the Assassin's Guild of Pellak. He learned of an illusionist named Arham, and of a couple of lairs the man had in this region. He sought them out, and found his old spellbooks. That's when Grakhirt changed to an illusionist.
[DM OOC: He was actually a 2nd level Assassin, 4th level Illusionist. It was good how things worked out, as he would have made assassination attempts on you guys!]
Anyway, you found those journals and such, which have all this info. You also learn that Grakhirt was approached by a Velunese noble, one of those who was trying to become the new lord of Hagthar. After the original party healed Lord Farkaesh, this less than scrupulous individual hired Grakhirt to raise an army and wipe the place out, killing Lord Farkaesh. However, Aghar Naran drove off the invading norkers, ruining the plan.
There also is a note about a demon that Grakhirt accidentally freed from imprisonment. It was a lesser demon, but it agreed to assist him if Grakhirt would bring him souls to eat. It started with Aghar Naran, killing him and eating his heart. The thing then took the form of Aghar Naran, which apparently all kinda freaked out Grakhirt. He thought he was in over his head, and didn't know how to get out of the mess. He didn't know anything about this demon, what it really is, it's name, nothing. He only knew that he released it from beneath the old Norker lair, and that it was very, very evil and crafty. He seems to have been legitimately scared of the thing.
[DM OOC: So, that ends the two adventures. BTW, they were from Dungeon #1 and Dungeon #8. These are very old little adventures, but I liked them and thought they would work well here. Thanks for playing!]
You guys can probably return the next day to town, though it's dark, and the party should rest. Campfires appear out on the valley floor as it gets dark. Somebody is out there.....
Last edited by ragnar on Thu May 28, 2015 7:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
So, a couple short old Dragon adventures, and we have three deaths. Life is cheap with the Wild Bunch! Actually, poor Filbin just kept getting deeper and deeper into trouble, and eventually it caught up with him. Hyril went off alone at the wrong time, and paid the ultimate price. I don't know if I have the PMs for his fight with the demon. IIRC, he actually had a chance, but he screwed around one time too many. Remarr, well he was just unlucky.
Still, three deaths already, and I'm just getting started. Sir aris would be proud! :)
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