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    The Slavers!
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 655

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    Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:29 pm  
    The Slavers!

    The Slavers! -- Part 1

    Cast of Characters:
    Berenn: Half-elf Priest of St. Cuthbert /Ranger
    Elrae: Human Bard
    Emyn: Human Paladin of Trithereon
    Gotrek: Dwarven Battlerager
    Hepla: Human Mage (kind of a witch)
    Isilme: Dark elf Bladesinger/Song Mage/Priestess of Eilistraee
    Noot: Human Thief
    Taki of the Hill People: Human fighter
    Thorgrim: Dwarven Cleric/Fighter

    After the death of Kilrak, and the fulfillment of Gotrek's quest for Giant Goreblade, the party decided to push after the slave caravan and rescue the slaves being taken into the Pomarj. Isilme was honor-bound to find the elf girl, and Emyn, paladin of Trithereon, was intent on bringing down the entire slave trade in the region. Thorgrim was skeptical, but Gotrek was perfectly happy with the chance to kill orcs with his new axe. After seeing to the safety of those slaves they did rescue, the party set out from Highport.

    Gotrek bid farewell to his uncle Urgal. The Deldukr made Urgal their new captain, and they were going to march back north, to Elredd. Gotrek promised to seek him out on his return, and he wiped tears from his eyes as he turns and left. "Gots dust in me eyes," he said to Thorgrim, who just smiled as the battlerager walked off down the cobblestone road.

    Before leaving the camp of the Deldukr, the party decided to pay a visit to Sturm Blucholtz, Lord of Highport. Hepla found that she could cast Polymorph Self, as he iron body still inhibited her spellcasting gestures. She polymorphed into Urgal, and then with the rest of the party cloaked in invisibility, the snuck up to the manse of Lord Sturm. The front door of the manse was locked, but you slip around it, and find a rear door as well as a balcony above the rear door. The party used magic to gain the balcony, and found that Lord Sturm was in the room beyond. Hepla changed form back to her Iron Maiden body, cast a mirror image, and promptly broke in through the fragile French doors.

    She easily pushed open the doors [being in Iron Body form, she had 20 STR.], and inside she sees a man, sitting on a bed. He looks over towards the doors, startled. Hepla starts to go towards him, making very loud footfalls, but he cannot move in time to get away. Wearing no armor, just a nightshirt, she smacks him in the side of the head [10] damage. The appearance of about a half-dozen Iron Maidens startles the man even more!

    He rolls back over his bead, before Hepla can hit him again, and takes up his longsword, leaning against a chair on the other side of the bed. Hepla cannot get to him, so she moves around the bed, trapping him in the corner. "Who in the Nine Hells are you?" he says, one hand touching his reddening cheek.

    Hepla easily pushes the bed into him, crushing his legs and pinning him against the wall.

    "Sur...en..der...To..Us..Now...STURM!" The Iron Maiden smiles.

    He swings his sword, hitting Hepla, who makes no move to avoid the blow, and his sword just bounces harmlessly off. She then smacks him in the head again, knocking him reeling back against the wall. [9] Gruff laughter comes from behind Hepla, who tries to suppress a giggle, knowing it wouldn't look tough.

    " I...Must...Break...You!" she says, and slams him on top of the head again. [10]


    He looks around frantically, seeing if there's a way out. He then sees Gotrek and Thorgrim emerge from the balcony blocking his way, and then just resignedly drops his sword.

    [OOC: Did you think he would say, "Go for it!"]

    Iron Hepla steps forward and forces him to the ground face first. She motions for the dwarves to tie him up and gag him.

    "You...Make...A...Sound...You...Die!" she says, and prepares to bash his head into the floor.

    Once the others in the party tie him up, Hepla shifts form again, this time taking Sturm's own appearance which utterly unnerves him. Isilme casts a Detect Magic, sees that his ring glows strongly, and quickly takes it from his hand.

    "Tell me everything you know about the slave lords, the temple, your business with Kilrak and his twin brother, and what you were doing in this city and I MIGHT let you live," says Isilme. "Otherwise the Iron Maiden makes mush out of your head."

    "Speak quickly, man!" says Thorgrim inpatiently. "We've no time for your dilly-dallying. Spill your guts and we may let you live. Choose not to, and we'll spill your guts for you." Thorgrim pats his military pick for emphasis.

    Sturm Blucholtz reveals that he was just one of the many thieves in Highport until a few years ago. He was approached by Markessa, a beautiful and deadly elven sorceress. She helped to elevate him to head of the Highport thieves guild, then to leadership of the human population. It was through her that the three orc chiefs in town met with mysterious ends, while she arranged for the hiring of the Deldukr in order to defeat an orc tribe nearby, whose chief would have moved on Highport otherwise. This left Sturm as sole leader, and with the Sturmkeep's defenses, he was secure.

    He barely knew Kilrak, whose relationship was with Markessa. All he knew was that the fearless dwarf nevertheless feared Markessa, and Kilrak feared nothing. Kilrak and the Deldukr left Highport shortly thereafter, but Kilrak's fear of Markessa was enough to make Sturm extremely cautious. Kilrak's brother lives in Foxvale Hill, where he oversees all of the slave trade along the Wild Coast. He is a wily dwarf, as smart as his brother is strong.

    Over the last few years; however, things changed. The Temple of the Earth Dragon was built on the destroyed foundations of the old Temple of Kelanen. Then Nofosh appeared and began to attract many followers from amongst the various orc tribes in Highport. A couple years ago, the yellow-sails appeared, under command of Eanwulf the Bold, a barbarian from the far north. The longships began to raid along the wild coast, sowing terror throughout the region. These raids brought back many slaves to Highport, and the slave trade began in earnest.

    Most of the slaves were simply sold to various buyers, usually for forced labor in the many mines now under humanoid control and very ineptly worked. This has increased the production, and with most of the goods flowing through Highport was quite profitable. It was only recently that Sturm learned that Markessa had been taking the choicest slaves herself. These were secretly sent to her fortress in the foothills. He has heard the rumors of some mysterious group of Lords who secretly rule the Pomarj.

    "It seems hard to believe, as the place is a chaotic den of savage brutes," he says. "And certainly, nobody gives Markessa orders! You should see her experiments under the temple. Hideous creatures!"

    However, he has evidence that the Nine exist, a letter from Markessa.

    Further questioning reveals the following:

    The location of Markessa's stronghold is to the south, in the foothills of the Drachenscrab Mountains. The party has the map taken from the slaver merchant in the temple. Eanwulf is a huge barbarian warrior from the far north. His yellow-sailed longships began raiding the area a few years ago. Sturm does not know him personally, as Eanwulf has never come to Highport since Sturm has been Lord.

    The letter was from Markessa:

    Lord Sturm,
    I have received your letter and considered your request. I will not do as you ask. Do not grow overbold, Sturm Bucholtz. Membership in the Outer Council is no safety from the wrath of the Nine! Once now, you have refused an order of the Inner Council. Lest you reconsider your actions, you shall never refuse again. I will not give my aid to stubborn fools--neither shall they win my affections. You will comply, I trust, proving the trust I have placed in your hands.

    Mistress Markessa

    Sturm says it was about the slaves that were being diverted by Markessa, through the Temple. Sturm had taken some of the slaves from the temple, slaves that were of a noble Keolander family. He was going to ransom them himself, and that angered Markessa. The slaves were sent on to her stronghold.

    "Markessa comes here, was just here in fact," he says, seeing the party's interest in the sorceress. "She left with the caravan of slaves this evening."

    [BTW, they also learn his ring is a Ring of +2 Protection.]

    The party then considers what to do with Sturm. Some want to leave him alone, "Better the villain we know, than the one we don't," says Isilme.

    "I say we slay him," says Thorgrim, "lest he seek revenge or tries to thwart our plans. Just the fact that other evildoers will soon take his place is no reason for him to escape Justice. I highly doubt we can get him to change his evil ways."

    Gotrek shrugs, then leaves it up to the Iron Maiden.

    "Your call Thorgrim, thumbs up or down," says Hepla.

    Thorgrim considers. "Sturm, you have been given fair warning. Remember well this day, and remember how easily we bested you. We shall keep a close eye on you, and our retribution shall be swift and merciless if you make a move against us. Let us be off. He will meet his god in Hell soon enough."

    As you leave, Hepla-Iron Maiden clouts him unconscious and stuffs him in his closet. "That should at least buy some time to leave the city."

    As he is about to leave, Thorgrim seems to have second thoughts. "Let not sleeping evil lie," he says. "Time for Justice." He crushes Lord Sturm's head with his military pick, Souldrinker.

    The others look on, Berenn frowning, but Emyn nods. "Justice," he says, almost to himself. After leaving, the party heads out of town in pursuit of the slave caravan.....
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 655

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    Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:13 pm  
    The Slavers! - Part 2

    The party sets out in pursuit of the slave caravan early the next morning. It is a cold day with a very think coastal fog blanketing the ground in its misty embrace. Visibility is only about 20-30'. Berenn and Isilme fly upon the griffons, though they will have to fly low enough to follow the ground, for the fog is about 150' thick, and from above it all they see is an endless sea of whiteness, dotted with green islands where the peaks of small hills emerge into the bright sunlight. Far to the south, more and more hills emerge from the fog as the ground rises towards the foothills. Beyond, they see higher hills and mountains in the far distance, maybe a few days ride away.

    By the time Hepla wakes up, she finds that she is no longer Iron. The spell effect has finally passed. The smell of eggs decides for you, and you go downstairs for a quick meal. There are a few other merchants there, and you learn that there was some disaster at the Earth Dragon Temple. Apparently, about half of the structure collapsed overnight. Word is that the High Priest along with about half the guards perished. It seems the sewers collapsed, then backed up, and with all the winter rains, they quickly eroded the area beneath the temple, bringing most of it tumbling down.

    Meanwhile, Thorgrim and Gotrek stayed with the dwarves as they finished their preparations, then left town. The Deldukr leave unmolested, as nobody really knows there's anything up with them in the first place. Plus, it seems Sturm had ordered them to leave anyway and had left word with the guard earlier. So, they walk right out through the front gate. They circled around to the cave, and there await the party.

    Isilme suggests to Berenn we meet with the party outside the gate before we take flight and pursue Markessa. As much as she wants to save the elf, she knows the party was injured when we parted - especially Gotrek, and could use his healing skills

    Hepla looks at her hands, and seems a bit sad over the loss of her iron skin.

    Emyn readies his horse, his lance in hand. "Sorry I wasn't much help back there," he says, "I seem to have lost my concentration for a time."

    "It's ok," says Hepla. "I think you're great," and she kisses him. While Emyn stands there dumbfounded, Hepla casts Fly on herself, asking someone to lead her horse, and flies up and around the city, high enough to be in the clear, and looks for the griffons. If she doen't see them, she shouldn't, then fly back to the party and report what ever she did see. While up she finally relaxes a little from the past events and her fear that her miscasting of the Iron Body spell might have been permanent, she enjoyed the power but did not want to be trapped in it. As she flies she lets out, not a giggle but a full loud laugh just as a bird almost flies into her so it comes out more as a loud cackle.

    View from above the fog

    Berenn scouted ahead while waiting for the party, and he finds that the track from the cave entrance takes an easy loop around and meets up with the slave road heading south about a mile away. It's pretty clear that is the way the caravan went. So, for one brief moment you will all be together, as the dwarves gather up the freed slaves to bring them north with them.

    "Onward," says Emyn. "Let's catch these slavers and put them to the justice they deserve!"

    Isilme and Berenn take off. Their rate of travel is about half normal, as they have to constantly adjust, flying down through the fog to find the road before they can take off again. While they fly ahead, the party begins to walk. The dwarves wish you luck rescuing the elf, then head out, leading the humans back to Elredd.

    With Isilme always flying off on her own, Emyn revokes his vow to protect her. Rather, he pledges to protect Hepla. Everyone laughs, and Hepla say, "Only if you seal it with a kiss."

    Isilme rolls her eyes, as Emyn gives Hepla a kiss. For some reason, he's exceedingly nervous about the whole thing. It's obvious that he's in love with her.

    Hepla may be the only one who is not aware that she has him besotted. She likes the kiss but after a moment turns back to studying the new ring, "That was very nice but I still think you need to keep your vow to Isilme. Mom always said, 'How can a person keep a second vow if she or he cannot keep a first vow.' You may protect me and Isilme that way you keep both vows."

    Emyn replies to Hepla, "You are right. I will protect both of you. I swear it by Trithereon."

    "Wonderful Emyn, in that case I do accept you as a protector, Thank you. Now if I could just get someone who can detect curses to look at this ring we would know more."

    Emyn puts the ring on, "Consider me your curse checker."

    "I hope somebody can remove curses," mumbles Gotrek as the party marches on.

    Hepla takes back the ring and says, "That was very brave but also dangerous, that's kind of how we lost Derry."

    About noon the fog has started to lift and Berenn and Isilme, flying high on the two griffons, catch up to the caravan. There are six cage-wagons, each drawn by a couple horses, in the center of the caravan. Ahead and behind the wagons are more figures, some mounted some walking. They can't tell exactly from a distance. It's taken a good four hours to catch up to the caravan which is still traveling along the main southern road.

    Isilme pulls back and meets up with berenn to discuss plans and cloak myself and the possibly the griffon with invisibility.

    "If the rest of the party is on the road and the caravan is not leaving the road, I see no reason to go back for them," says Berenn. Berenn is going to fly far enough ahead of the caravan so he can't be seen. He will dismount and cast Plant Growth and cover the Slave Road in vegetation. He will then go off to the side of the road that allows him the most manueverability and wait for the caravan to arrive. When the caravan stops, he will cast Soften Earth and Stone under the first wagon. He will have Ra a safe distance away and will be wearing his Elven Cloak and Boots which should make in invisible and silent. Berenn will also use his Summon Earth Elemental Scroll and cast it just as the caravan arrives. He will have the Earth Elemental smash as much of the caravan and kill as many horses as he can. I assume the spell allows me to control his actions, so he will start with the wagons.

    This should delay the caravan for a while and hopefully allow our party to do some catching up.

    [As for movement, I am following the Wilderness Survival Guide, as it has all the necessary stuff compiled in one place. Rules may have changed a bit for overland movement in other editions, but that's what I'm going with. As such, don't argue if you don't like it; it is what it is. I'm just going to copy the Overland movement stuff from the Wilderness Survival Guide, so you can see it. Go check out the Gameplay Thread for details.]

    The party is crossing over relatively good terrain, and this is a very nice cobblestone road, actually paved with stones from the nearby mountains. With the fog burning off, Isilme and Berenn can begin to see much better. The terrain is still pretty level, passing through the coastal plain before rising into the Drachenscrabs. It usually goes around the small hills in the area, or at least skirts along them at nice easy slopes.

    The Slave Road

    Berenn and Isilme can see the caravan as the fog's breaking up. The rest of the party is still closer to the coast, and a little lower in elevation, and are still in heavy fog. Berenn sets up. The riders about a half-hour later and of course come to an abrupt stop where the thickets have totally overgrown the track. The wagons aren't far behind.

    [Timeline of events: Berenn sets up. The caravan will be to his blocked section of road in 30 minutes. Isilme goes invisible and moves to the caravan, reaching them when they are about 15 minutes from Berenn's position. She has 15 minutes to trail them before it actually reaches him. The Riders are all men, the walking soldiers are all orcs. They all seem very disciplined. The captive elf is in the lead wagon. There are two other people riding just ahead of the wagons, but behind the lead riders by enough that they don't have to deal with any potential dust. There is an elf woman wrapped in a cloak, and a half-orc warrior, also wearing a cloak. I guess I should have set this up to give Isilme a chance to act spontaneously if she desires. Anyway, you've about 15 minutes before they reach Berenn.]

    Berenn will use his scroll of Conjure Earth Element and have it on the opposite side of the road approximately where he thinks the first wagon will stop (He has observed the caravan so he should know the separation between the front group and first wagon). As soon as the caravan stops, Berenn will command the elemental to destroy the first wagon, making sure not to hurt any slaves (smashing the wheels should do the trick).

    The first riders reach the blocked section a couple minutes ahead of the wagons. The leader swears, wondering what the hell happened. He orders scouts out to the flanks, and a couple to go back and report to Markessa. Meanwhile, he dismounts and goes up to inspect the "barrier." He also calls for a couple of men to break out the axes.

    Isilme casts Message, and speaks with the captive elf. She finds that the elf's name is Meriliel Tanvanseer. The prisoners are not shackled, just locked in the carts. There are four other people in her cart, all women. The next four carts are all carrying six men, while the last one carries another six women.

    The advance party is only about 150' ahead of the wagons. They aren't even out of sight of each other. Two riders scout out to each flank, looping around the strangely dense foliage on and around the road here. Two ride immediately back while four are left on horseback. The leader and two others dismounted, the soldiers taking axes from their saddles. The riders all seem pretty alert. The orcs will reach this point in a minute and the wagons a minute later.

    The elf pulls back her hood and you see a beautiful elven woman, with exquisite golden hair that falls about halfway down her back. Her face is also painted or tattooed, with three broad stripes of a metallic gold which gives her a strangely savage yet attractive look. She says something to the half-orc, who wears a small steel helm and has a hand on his sheathed longsword. A shield hangs off the left side of his saddle.

    Markessa and the half-orc. Found the right picture!

    All the mounted men have shields hung on their saddles, and swords at their hips. The orcs all have spear and shield.

    The elemental rises from it's hidden position, though it makes a LOT of sound so there's no surprise. As everyone turns to see the elemental coming out of hiding, Braks (the half-orc) shouts a command to the orcs. Markessa casts a spell. The elemental slams the wagon, busting the front wheel right off it and breaking the tongue, allowing the horses to bolt. The driver dives off to the ground. The orcs up front turn to face the creature, but the first few just have their spears break against it and the rest don't move up at all. The horsemen up front turn their horses, while the two axemen start to remount. The cavalry leader who is on foot turns too, and moves back to his horse.

    Berenn is 100' from the second wagon. He is hidden in the bushes and trees, so he can't necessarily see everything, though he can move around to get better views.

    "Get back!" shouts the half orc as he moves forward.

    "What are you doing Braks?" yells Markessa.

    "Something!" he replies, moving up to the elemental.

    As he moves up around the orcs, Markessa points her finger and a golden ray flies from it and strikes the elemental. For a moment the whole things seems to quiver and glow golden, then it passes.

    The elemental begins to walk down the row of wagons. Seeing what just happened, the next driver simply dives from his wagon as well, and the horses take off through the brush pulling the wagon along behind it. They leap a tree trunk, and the wagon slams into it, breaking free and tumbling on its side as the horse run off. Isilme, hiding in the brush, barely dives out of the way as the horses run right by her!

    The elemental is slow, so it's only half-way to the last wagon. There are two broken wagons, the one it crushed and the one that broke when its horses bolted.

    Braks rushes passed the elemental, hitting it with his sword as he rides by. Chunks of rock fly from it, and it howls in rage that some insect from this plane would dare sting it. It continues on to the last wagon, keeping an eye on Braks as he turns for another pass. The 5th wagon moves out of the way as well, but the elemental grabs the rear of the last wagon as its driver tries to flee. He picks it up and smashes the rear axle, tossing it aside like a child's toy. You hear screams from the occupants and the terrible cries of one of the horses which gets tumbled over with the wagon, snapping both rear legs.

    The orcs in the rear step away from the elemental, as the riders form up, unsure of what to do. Isilme and Berenn watch carefully as Markessa rides back to get closer. She orders the others to stay back. Isilme can see the people in the overturned wagon are alive, though it seems a couple are hurt. The corner of the wagon broke open, and a few of the people are crawling out into the brush right by Isilme.

    Isilme flies up out of the brush when Markessa rides out of sight. She flies above the road, about 30' high and almost right above the broken lead wagon with the elf, and from there can see everything. Markessa's about 20' away, looking towards the elemental which is maybe 100' away. Beyond the elemental is another group of orcs as well as the human horsemen behind them. The horsemen have divided up, with some looping around to the right and left of the caravan and making their way towards the front.

    Isilme flies down and casts knock, unlocking the wagon with the elf. Meanwhile, Markessa casts another spell, moving further down the road, while the half-orc charges the elemental again. He swings and hits, but the elemental also hits him square in the chest with a massive fist, lifting him right off his saddle and knocking him to the ground.

    Berenn uses his Slay Living off the scroll, cast. The leader suddenly clutches at his heart as he topples off his horse. [I love that he just blew that on like a 3rd level fighter!] Half the horsemen take off as one jumps from the saddle to check on the leader. He turns back to the remaining men and shakes his head.

    Content that their ambush has served its purpose, Berenn slinks back into the brush, heading off to meet Isilme at their prearranged site.

    Isilme opens the door, calling the elf to the rear. She casts invisibility on the elf, as the orcs notice the open door. Luckily, Isilme is able to slip away with her, before the orcs come over and slam the door shut. She can only move at about half speed with the elf, but it's enough to get away. Meanwhile, the orcs now notice the other prisoners trying to crawl away and go after them.

    Markessa rides over to her bodyguard and dismounts, kneeling next to him. The elemental tries to hit him again, but is unable to move any closer. It vents its frustration by slamming its massive fists into the ground and tearing up a patch of highway.

    By the time Isilme gets Meriliel to a safe distance and returns, she finds that all the orcs and men have fled. The elemental is stalking after a group of a half-dozen orcs that run about twice as fast; however, it has no other command to follow except to kill the orcs now, so it's trying. The orcs will have nothing to do with it, and are probably breaking orc land speed records! Four horse have run off to the south, and there is one horse lazily grazing at the head of the caravan. Other than that, everyone's gone, including Markessa and Braks. The prisoners are all still left in the three broken wagons, while the other ones have all scattered.

    Berenn returns first, not concerned with getting the elf to safety as Isilme was, and flies over the battlefield. He sees the destruction, and in the distance can see the elemental lumbering after a small group of orcs. Far back down the road he sees some horsemen riding back towards Highport. He flies out further, making a few circles to make sure nobody is nearby. About the time Isilme messages that she's returning.

    From the area where Markessa and Braks were, Berenn can see the elemental turned and went after the orcs. Markessa and Braks remounted, and took off to SW, along with some of the horsemen. The main body of orcs took off to the NW. Some horsemen rode back towards town, while a handful scattered in random directions. The wagons all ended up going back towards Highport. There is also one dead horse and one with broken legs. The others seem to be ok. Finally, two of the wagon drivers are still alive, standing around kinda in shock. The third broke his neck falling from his wagon.

    While Berenn's checking out the tracks, Isilme arrives and begins to open the other slave wagons, the broken ones. When she gets to last wagon she finds all 6 women either dead or dying. A few were knocked out by the elemental's action, and two had broken arms, but what stands out are the hundreds of insect bites on each person. Only the two who weren't injured or knocked out are conscious, and they say that the elf sorceress summoned a swarm of insects to attack them just before she road off. The others, unable to fend them off, were simply eaten alive.

    Berenn will quickly use his rod on the injured including the horse and tell the drivers they will be spared from judgment if they assist with the injured and wait for his friends. Berenn will tell Isilme to stay here with the slaves until the party arrives while he hunts Markessa and Braks. After his instructions, Berenn mounts Ra and flies off after Markessa and Braks. "The wagons will run into our party and hopefully they will stop them and turn them back around."

    Isilme becomes visible and asks Berenn to heal Meriliel (if needed) and will arm her with bracers AC6, Longsword +1, and my potion of human control in case the slavers return. She tells Meriliel to stay invisible and ride secretly beside the wagon. She will cast invisibility on one of the healthy horses so she has something to ride.

    She executes the drivers and any wounded slayers. She then passes out any available arms to the slaves. Casting Strength, she permanently removes the door from the working wagon with her new found strength and makes sure it has a good pair of horses. She will ask the slaves to load up into this wagon and tell them that the slaves they parted from in Highport were also rescued and our friends are a few hours behind us and to meet up with them. She has the healthiest slave drive the wagon. She will take the time to listen to Meriliel's story and get any information she has. She tells her to reveal herself to Hepla as my friend and gives her the "order of the cat" sigil to prove it.

    "Stay here with the slaves until the party arrives," says Berenn. "I will hunt Markessa and Braks." He then takes off on Ra.

    As soon as he flies off, Isilme states grimly, " "Nay friend Berenn, Markessa will die by my hand for her crimes against the elven people or I will die trying."

    Then she flies off on Thoth after Berenn... casting "haste" on him to catch up.

    About an hour later and back down the road, the rest of the party sees a group of horsemen up ahead, riding hard towards them. The riders approach, and they reign in before they reach you. As they approach, you see there are about a dozen, they have weapons in hand, and are ready for a fight. They tell you their caravan was attacked by some kind of rock thing up the road, and warn you about going on.

    "Caravan, you say?" asks Emyn. "What happened to Markessa? I hope she is well."

    "Last we saw," says the leader, "she was riding off the other way with Braks. The men seem to relax when they realize you know about Markessa, assuming you are friendly.

    "What about the cargo?" replies Emyn. "I hope you didn't lose the entire load."

    Gotrek rides by casually, then suddenly swings his axe, taking off the leader's arm and dropping him instantly, blood fountaining from the stump all over Gotrek. Emyn charges forward, lance dipping, and skewers the apparent leader right through the chest, killing him instantly though he gets his lance stuck. Elrae fires his crossbow, hitting another horseman in the eye and launching him backwards, as Noot hits another with his dagger, hitting him in the arm. Hepla fires magic missiles, splitting them between the one Noot hit and another, taking both out. In less than 10 seconds, all 6 men are down. It happened so fast, even the horses didn't spook.

    The gather up the horses and make haste to catch up to Berenn and Isilme.

    Up ahead, Berenn can't be certain, because of paved road, but he was able to count a half-dozen horses at one point. Others may have joined the road at other points, and he would have missed them. In any event, he follows the road, and only another mile or so he finds a little village nestled along a small stream cutting through a narrow valley. It's possible the horsemen stopped there. After scouting from above, Berenn will leave Ra at a safe distance and sneak around the village. He will try to determine if Markessa and Braks are in the village and where they are located. He will also try to locate a stable or find where they might have rested their horses.

    Berenn sneaks into the village by skirting along the stream where there is plenty of brush. The village only has about a dozen buildings, including an inn, a chapel, a smithy, and a mill. The other buildings seem to be rather ramshackle farms. The fields look pretty poor. There is little cover from the stream to the village itself, but he moves forward, trusting in his cloak and boots. Apparently, they work. He sneaks up to the inn where he flatten himself against a wall. Peeking inside through a half-broken shutter, he sees about a dozen men, the riders from the caravan. He does not see Markessa or Braks.

    Berenn then approaches the stables and speaks with the stable boy. From him he learns that an elf woman and a half-orc warrior are also within the inn. He gives him a dozen gold pieces, then takes all the horses from the corral and Speaks with Animals to send them running off back down the road. He then meets up with Isilme, assures her that their quarry is in the inn, and says he will stay and watch while she flies back and gathers the rest of the party. She agrees, and flies back. When she reaches the site of the ambush, she finds the party there waiting and speaking with Meriliel and hearing her story.

    She was taken while aboard a ship, returning to the Free City of Greyhawk from a journey to Onnwal. Sorry, it's not a terribly sad or interesting story. She says they've have never caught her if she hadn't been aboard a ship. The captain of the Ghoul treated her pretty roughly, as if taking out the guilt of an evil life on her would make it go away. When she finds out what happened to the Ghoul and its captain, she nods, not really happy sad, sad for another lost life. She had never before met such a twisted elf before, and wouldn't have thought it possible, until she was given to Markessa.

    "That one is pure evil," she says. "As beautiful a woman as I've ever seen, and just as vile." She looks at Isilme, "Do not underestimate her, or her cruelty."

    After sending the slaves back with the wagons, with instructions to skirt Highport and head north, hopefully meeting up with the Deldukr dwarves, the party heads for the village where Berenn is watching the inn. After a short ride, they reach the outskirts of the village and meet up with Berenn, who shares his information with them. The soldiers are all downstairs in the inn, while he assumes Markessa and Brak are upstairs, though he didn't see them. After a short rest, the party prepares for the final confrontation.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:27 pm  
    The Slavers (Part 3)

    Hepla still volunteers to scout out the inn; she would feel better if someone more used to the seedier inns was with her, they could pretend to be looking for a room for the night. She would use a cantrip to change her dress color to scarlet and remove her hat and wear a scarlet veil instead.

    Isilme says, "Noot has proven himself to be quite skilled in the art of deception and smart about the ways of the "seedier" elements. Perhaps he should go check the ground floor of the Inn with Hepla."

    Noot looks at Isilme, his mouth open....

    "I can fly around and look in the windows," adds Isilme, "and quickly check inside all the rooms upstairs to see if I can locate our friend Markessa."

    [Isilme OOC: If the party agrees while Noot and Hepla go inside, Isilme will cast "invisibilty" and "fly" on herself and fly around the outside of the bottom level of the inn before Hepla and Noot go inside and then up to the second level and circle, looking in windows and such for signs of Markessa.]

    Hepla takes out a small silk handerchef and casts the Cantrip color to change her silk to scarlet. Now her hat, dress and the scarf are bright red. she takes off the hat and puts the scarf on as a face vail. She looks at Noot and says,"Lets go see about getting a room, you are paying."

    Noot adjusts his outfit to look a little more scruffy and then prepares to enter the inn.
    Emyn is decidedly distracted now. He has no idea what to do is an overwhelmed by Hepla's beauty. He'll stay as close to her as he can to protect her and make fumbling small talk and blurt out things he doesn't mean to from time to time.

    "Remember, my knight," says Hepla. "You are protecting both of us, so stay alert if either Isilme or I need help we know you will be there."

    Emyn says, "Yes, Hepla." and follows her into the inn.

    The cobblestone road runs in front of the place, with a small worn path looping around it to the stables off to the side. It's a large inn, nearly 100' wide and 50 deep. It has some windows, but they are all shut tight against the cold; well, it's only just over 50* but it's cold enough and will be colder still in the night. Berenn (IIRC, he looked through a broken shutter) could barely see through a window on the south side, basically looking through a crack. There is an upstairs, with windows, but all the windows are shuttered.

    Inside the ground floor, the place is rather dirty. There are a lot of tables; they place can clearly hold many people. There is already a fire burning, and the twelve men are all sitting somewhat close to the fire. A serving boy is standing by them, collecting plates. Behind the bar is the barkeep. The men glance over at the door when Hepla enters, and Noot notices some hands moving to their weapons, but they then relax and go back to eating and drinking. When Emyn enters they certainly become more alert. The ones sitting with backs towards him shift slightly, to keep an eye on him.

    Just found this old map!

    Isilme is flying outside. She sees no way into the upstairs. Taki is in the rear, by the door. Behind him is the corral (now empty) and a rickety stone building which is a combination barn/ferriers, with an indoor section for horses in the rear. A stableboy is inside cleaning up. Next to Taki are also some woodpiles and a chopping block with a large axe.

    I don't have exact locations for anyone else, so I assume they are hanging out by the stream, staying hidden. They are about 50' from the inn, hidden in the brush and behind trees.

    Hepla moves over to the bar where she demands the best room.

    Before the bartender replies, Emyn will take out his sword and start to sharpen it, saying, "You really don't want to make her angry. The last inn that did this to her've heard of teh Wild Oat Inn, haven't you? Oh no? That's because it doesn't exist anymore."

    Hepla looks at Emyn and says,"Peace friend, they will give me what I want, I know they will, and you can pay for half the room that would be fair."

    "I would gladly share your bed...erm room...milady," says Emyn as he flushes bright red realizing his misstep.

    Hepla, turns back to the innkeeper and says, "Now about that room." She thinks, "Emyn is certainly getting into the acting he sounds as if he really means it."

    The bartender replies that will not be a problem. Only one of the two suites are occupied, so she can most assuredly have the other. When Emyn messes with his sword, the men inside get nervous. The closest ones stands up and move away.

    Seeing we have a room, Emyn is satisfied and restheathes his sword. He also gives the men by the fire a close and discerning look, making it clear he's not to be trifled with.

    "You better keep yer pet on a leash," says one of the armed men, giving Emyn back an equally grim stare. Meanwhile, Isilme casts wraithform so she can pass into the upstairs.

    Emyn replies, "Don't worry. I won't try to hump your leg, no matter how much you wish it."

    Hepla sighs as the guy gets up, as do about 3 of his friends. They draw swords. "Don't worry," he says. "When we're done with you, you won't be able to hump nothing."

    Emyn draws his sword as well and says in a loud and confident voice, "I am an Avenger of Trithereon. Be certain if you wish to cross swords with me." There is no fear in his eyes.

    That gets the rest of the men up. "Trithereon, eh?" says another. "We spit on you and your god." The men spread out, to get into position to flank you. The serving boy runs off passed you.

    "Get into the kitchen, boy," says the innkeeper, who looks around nervously.

    "Boys, boys," says Hepla, putting her hands up before her. "He meant nothing why don't you SLEEP," she adds as she casts the spell. Hepla casts a sleep, which drops four of the men. The others see them fall, snarl, and leap to attack.

    [Berenn OOC: We really have a lack of subtlety in this group.]

    Upstairs, Isilme passes through the cracks in the window and reforms inside. She's in a dark empty bedroom, with a three beds. It doesn't look like anyone's staying in it. [Except me!]

    One of the men checks on a fallen comrade. "They're asleep!" he yells. "She's a wizard!"

    Another of the men tries to push passed Emyn to get to Hepla, but Emyn puts a sword through his gut, killing him. The others move forward to attack, surrounding Emyn and Noot. They all miss as Emyn takes his defensive stance. [I guess I should add here what that does. 4. Defensive Stance. Guardians have the option of allocating any and all of their attack bonuses to their armor class instead. They also gain an Attack of Opportunity against any foes which attempt to get passed them.]

    Hepla steps back and casts another sleep spell, dropping another 3 men. One falls across a table, breaking it. Taki and Thorgrim hear the noise and burst in. They find themselves in the kitchens. Noot attacks but misses.

    Isilme slips under the door, and finds herself in a hallway. It goes to the left then turns to the right. There are three doors on the left side. [She came inside above the top-right corner room.] Berenn, Elrae, and Gotrek move around the front.

    Noot stabs one guy [2] but takes a stab in cut from a longsword in return [6]. Emyn hits the leader [8] and is missed twice in return. Hepla waits, thinking that everything seems under control. The rearmost foe kneels down and slaps a sleeping guy, waking him.

    Taki pushes passed the innkeeper, and hits the leader with his maul [14], knocking him back over a table. He doesn't get up. Isilme moves along the upstairs hallway, getting a good layout of all the rooms and doors. She's in her wraithform, so he doesn't hear what's going on below.

    Gotrek shakes his head. "This isn't even worth pulling me axe," he thinks as he goes to the bar. As the innkeeper has backed into the kitchen, Gotrek leans over, grabs a pitcher, and pours himself an ale. He then sits back and watches.

    Hepla moves over to him, "How does a girl get a drink around here?" She glances back, and can't help but stare at the incredible fire.....

    Gotrek grunts, and bodily lifts Hepla around, so she is facing the opposite way (180 degrees). He pours her an ale, and sits on a stool, head down.

    Emyn hits the guy in front of him, killing him, as another steps up as two more step up to take his place. Elrae also enters, Snowfang out and ready for action. Isilme goes into center alcove with a door and slips underneath it, assuming this is the suite. She finds herself in a large, unlit room with many beds. It is a common sleeping area and it is empty of people. Berenn is outside, casting Detect Magic, which reveals nothing.

    "Bah! I just smell a trap" he mutters. Something about this is just too easy and no one from upstairs has heard the fighting? Probably going to regret this ...

    Berenn then draws Bonfire and enters the inn. As he enters, he notices Elrae turning to his right and then just standing there. Beyond him, he sees the two warriors also looking in the same direction, their mouths agape. He detects a trace of magic around them.

    Emyn is hit by a swordsman [6] and hits him back, killing him. He turns towards the last one and can't help but check out the fire burning behind them in the great fireplace. He lowers his sword and is immediately hit by the swordsman in front of him [8], snapping out of his trance.

    Emyn will close his eyes so that he doesn't look at that fire. He will then use his blindfighting skill to fight his enemies while shouting, "Don't look at the fire!"

    "Huh?" Elrae stares off into space.

    Berenn comes in and goes right at the first guy, jumping up on the table and knocking hitting the first guy with his sword, knocking him down. A quick kick to the face finishes him off. Isilme uses her wraithform to head back into the hallway.

    Emyn fights with the guy in front of him, both missing. Gotrek turns Hepla around, and then complains when he sees there's no ale on the bar. He puts his head down and then hears Hepla saying, "What happened?"

    Gotre sighs, and replies, "No more ale. Can you pour me a tankard of ale, sweetie?"

    [Everyone in the room is charmed by the fire except Emyn, who now has his eyes closed and Berenn who is actively not looking at the fire. Gotrek is also fine, but that's because he's bored and sitting on a barstool looking the other way. Hepla was charmed until Gotrek grabbed her and turned her away from the fire.]

    Hepla looks around for ale and draws a tankard of the best she can find, all the while thinking what happened. She remembers looking into the fire, then nothing.... She then takes out her wand and uses it to put out the fire.

    [DM OOC: Damn, that works. I had the whole party charmed just about! ]

    Hepla uses the wand to put out the fire in the fireplace. All the charmed people slowly snap out of the effects of the Fire Charm. Meanwhile, Emyn and the warrior trade ineffective blows. Isilme slips back into the hallway, and checks out the next room, the one directly across the hall, and finds a small empty room. [OOC: everyone is now free from the effects of the Fire Charm.]

    Noot shakes his head, " Duhhhh... er..... oh."

    The warrior behind Berenn steps up and hits him in the back with a sword [3]. Berenn whips out Bonefire and in a clean swipe, cleaves off the man's sword arm [14]. He screams and falls back on the floor writhing in pain as his sword arm flops onto the table. Noot throws a dagger at the last standing warrior, missing him, and his dagger goes flying across the room. Emyn meanwhile continues to fight with his eyes closed, swinging wildly. He trips over a prone sleeping warrior, and falls across him. The warrior stabs down at him, hitting him in the leg [4]. Taki then moves up, swinging and missing with his maul.

    Thorgrim steps into the room, over to Gotrek. Seeing only the last warrior standing, and now facing Taki and his maul, he looks across the bar at Gotrek and laughs. "So, what can I get ya?"

    Isilme goes into the next room and finds another small empty room. With a sigh, she moves to the next one. She hears a scream from downstairs, though it doesn't sound like one of the party. Elrae shakes his head, then goes towards the screams only to find they are coming from the armless guy bleeding out on the floor!

    As Taki finishes off the last man with a swipe of his maul, everyone then hears Thorgrim shout from the kitchen, "Fire!"

    Berenn tells Elrae that his Dispel Magic didn't cover the area back by Hepla and Noot and the front door, so Elrae casts Glitterdust there, in the 20' section by the door. Noot fails his save and is blinded. Nothing is revealed. Noot responds by tumbling back away from the combat, and he hits his head on the tables behind him [1].

    Berenn casts Detect Enemy, and senses enemies in every direction.

    Hepla looks for something for the dust cantrip, but finds nothing she can use. Emyn gets up and moves to help search when he is struck from behind by the man he fell upon [4]. As he turns back, he sees all of them are getting up!

    Thorgrim continues yelling "Fire!"

    Upstairs, Isilme searches the next room, finding a large corner room. It if pretty dirty and has some stuff thrown around some of the beds. It looks like it's been used recently, and could be where some of the men from downstairs were going to stay. She hears Thorgrim yell "FIRE."

    Isilme heads back into the hallway and waits in the hall to see what happens. It's all quiet upstairs. Downstairs Emyn hits the warrior in front of him, killing him. Taki misses and all the warriors all attack, one hitting Taki for [6]. Just a flesh wound!

    Berenn misses. Gotrek starts to sing as he circles around the entire room, eventually coming up behind the two men fighting Taki.

    Hepla and Elrae join Thorgrim inside the kitchen. They don't really see any fire, though there is smoke coming into the kitchens from outside the back door.

    Noot is still writhing around in the corner, blinded by Elrae!

    Hepla heads for the back door as she says,"why the concern about this fire, its outside?"

    "As is our prey," says Thorgrim. As he heads for the door, he shouts, "Keep an eye on me! I may yet be charmed again! And helpless like a baby!" Thorgrim grunts at the thought. He charges through the kitchen door to the outside, heedless of flames and watchful for any escapees.

    Berenn hits and kills his last foe, while Taki does the same. Gotrek then taps the last one on the shoulder, and when he turns he punches him in the face with a guantleted fist, knocking him out.

    Elrae waits as Thorgrim triest to out the back door, but it won't open. You can hear the flames outside the door. By the front door, Noot smells smoke as well.

    Upstairs, Isilme uses her wraithform, slips through the cracks of a window shutter, and goes outside. Her wraithform ends just as she goes out through a window. She sees fires all over the outside of the building and small flame creatures that look like little bats flying about, setting the building aflame wherever they touch it.

    Thorgrim kicks the door repeatedly, but it doesn't budge. Then he notices that there's pretty much no way to kick it open, as the hinges are on the inside reveal that it opens inwards. Hepla's Detect Magic reveals magic around the door lock.

    Taki moves over to the front door, but it doesn't open either. He attempts to bash it down, but fails. He'll have to actually break through the door, so he starts to pound it with his maul.

    Berenn moves over to the semi-broken shutter, and he can see flames through it. Now that the sound of combat is over, he can hear the fires outside. He grabs a chair and throws it through the window, revealing a veritable conflagration outside, engulfing the window.

    Elrae rushes back out to the other side and gathers up Noot, whose sight is finally returning.

    Outside, Isilme flies, invisibile, around the building. She sees about a half-dozen of the flaming bat-things setting fire to the building on all sides. As she's watching, a large section of the wall along some windows is suddenly covered with grease which instantly ignites into a raging inferno.

    Emyn rushes upstairs, throws open a window, and is greeted with lots of smoke and flame as the outside of the building is all aflame. Smoke billows into the hall through the open window, and Emyn barely jumps back to avoid being either burned or breathing a bunch of black smoke.

    Hepla follows Thorgrim back into the main room, as Berenn casts Resist Fire upon himself. Thorgrim moves over to the door, as Taki continues to pound on it with his maul. It is breaking. Smoke is now entering through the other closed shutters, on all sides of the building. It seems the entire thing is on fire. Hepla, wand in hand, isn't worried. She points it at the window Berenn smashed open, and the flames in the window immediately disappear. However, smoke and flames from below the window still rise, and the charred wood glows as it struggles to reignite. Gotrek runs and jumps through the window while the flames are mostly out, taking only [1] damage.

    He is still singing when he gets outside, rolls, and turns back to the burning building. He too sees the flaming bat-things flying around setting fire to the structure in dozens of places. The area around the bottom floor windows he sees is completely engulfed, except for the one small patch that Hepla just put out, but even that will simply ignite again as the flames around it are too big and strong. [OOC: If Hepla gets outside, she can use the wand more effectively.]

    Everyone else is still inside, and Emyn makes his way down the stairs. Outside, Isilme casts Detect Invisibility and begins to scan the area.....

    Hepla casts fly on herself, and flies through the window, taking [2hp] damage from the fire as the shutters erupt in flame once more. Outside she sees the flaming creatures up above and Gotrek running off around the corner, towards the rear of the building.

    Inside, Emyn rushes the front door, but pulls up short as he sees Taki smashing the door into pieces. Another few rounds and he should be through it. The area beyond the door is totally aflame.

    The rest of the party gathers in the center of the room, with Thorgrim casting resist fire on Noot and Berenn casting it on the unconscious warrior he's dragging.

    Outside, Isilme sees Markessa and Braks, standing about 50' from the building. She is grinning evilly as the building is being engulfed in flames.

    Hepla uses her wand to put out all the fire along this part of the building, except where the flamebats just start fires again. Emyn then dives through the window as Taki bashes in the door. Flames lick over him [4], and Thorgrim moves quickly up and casts resist fire on him. [Everyone's now protected from the flames, so the party can exit the building next round.]

    "C'mon let's get out of here," shouts Elrae.

    Gotrek sees that fire has consumed the barn/ferrier's in the back, and in the corral he sees the burning body of the stable boy. He grits his teeth and runs the long way around the corral.

    On the north side of the building, Isilme casts Fireflow and causes a line of flame 1' wide to move from the building towards Markessa and Braks. They notice it at the last second and dive to each side, Braks to the left, Markessa to the right. Braks becomes visible.

    Hepla flies around the side, and uses her wand to put out the fires around the front door. Everyone inside then rushes out. Emyn follows Hepla, and most the party is now in the front of the burning inn.

    Markessa runs away to the right, away from the fire, as Isilme hits her with Glitterdust. She immediately starts to sparkle. Gotrek also comes around the side, and sees Braks just as he goes into a rage. He charges as Braks drinks a potion and prepares to battle Gotrek.

    Berenn uses Create Water and puts out a bunch of fire on the building top. Elrae hits two nearby creatures with Cone of Cold, which also freezes all the top of the inn, leaving icicles where Berenn's water fell. The two creatures simply disappear into a cloud of steam, making strange popping sounds. The same is true of Hepla's wand, as she uses it against a third creature. [wand does 6d6 so it destroys the Fire Fundamental]. Taki sees the glittering woman, and heads that way.

    [So, Gotrek and Braks will be in melee combat next turn, with Gotrek in a rage. Markessa is running away glittering. Isilme is still flying by the building. Taki is moving towards Markessa. Everyone else is standing outside the front of the inn. They look where Taki is going and see the glittering figure themselves. She's about 75' away. Only Isilme and Gotrek see Braks, though Gotrek only really sees red! Other characters like Noot, Thorgrim, and Emyn weren't left out; they just didn't have an action other than getting out and/or around the building.]

    6 duplicates of Markessa suddenly appear and they all continue to run away. Hepla was casting Magic missile at Markessa, who suddenly becomes 7 Markessa's. She can't change her action in time, and all her missiles fly into one duplicate, which vanishes. Now there are 6 Markessas.

    Elrae casts Haste on Taki, who's the only one he can get in the area of effect. But Taki will move REALLY fast now!

    Emyn stays next to Hepla, as Noot slips away. Berenn spots people coming out of the surrounding buildings. None are close, though there's a church about 100' away. From it two figures emerge. Everyone can see the burning inn, and now the conflict outside it. He takes out his bow, just in case. Thorgrim rushes after Taki, casting Soften Earth and Stone beneath the fleeing Markessas. The ground beneath her feet instantly turns to mud, and you hear her curse in elvish as her feet sink suddenly, slowing her movement.

    Flying and invisible, Isilme takes off after Markessa, also keeping an eye on the other figures coming out of the church. By the time she gets close to Markessa, she can see it's a priest of the Earth Dragon moving forward; the Church is dedicated to the Earth Dragon.

    Gotrek charges Braks and hits him [15]. Braks hits Gotrek back [? due to rage]. Gotrek hits Braks again, the blow ringing off his shield and driving him back [11] but Braks recovers and slashes across Gotrek's leg, scoring another hit [?]. He's a tough half-orc and grins at Gotrek who just grins back!

    [I think that only leaves Taki, who can hold onto his bands or throw them, hoping they grab the real Markessa. Thorgrim's spell also covered 6 10' squares, so that's maybe 25'x25', all centered on Markessa and her duplicates!]

    Hepla fires another barrage of magic missiles, which takes out 4 of the 6 Markessa images. Markessa begins casting something, and Isilme recognizes it as Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter. She stubtly casts her own version, cancelling out Markessa's.

    Elrae then fires a series of magic missiles, splitting them across the two images. One blinks out, leaving just the last, and real, Markessa.

    Taki throws his bands at her, but she dogdes them as they fly overhead.

    Thorgrim moves up, circling around behind Markessa and cutting off any escape.
    Markessa also struggles to move away from Taki and towards the other side of the muddy area, only to have Thorgrim appear blocking the way. Also, the handful of people who are closest stop where they are when Berenn yells, but the priests from the temple do not. They move closer and then everyone can see they are orcish priests of the Earth Dragon. Further down the street, you see a group of about a dozen orcs coming out of one of the old rundown farmhouses.

    Markessa raises a wand, pointing it towards Taki. A cone-shaped beam flashes for an instant, and Taki drops his maul and runs away. Berenn raises a hand towards him, and removes the fear from Taki's mind. He stops, shakes his head, and wonders what just happened.

    Gotrek hits Braks [15] and Braks hits him back [?]. The Gotrek and him both miss.

    Isilme flies out and uses her Wand of Highfolk on the orcs [please deduct a charge.] The orcs ask the priests what's going on and it seems the lesser priest insults them. The next thing you know, about half the orcs jump the priests. The other orcs join in, trying to separate them and they all start fighting.

    Hepla then fires magic missiles into Markessa. They flash when they reach her, as if blocked by something.

    Emyn then uses his Monster Summing power, calling upon Trithereon. A huge Angkheg comes up through the mud, right next to Markessa who lets out a shriek!

    Markessa drinks a potion, just as the Angkheg attacks. She fades away, becoming like a ghost, and starts to float away towards Thorgrim. Thorgrim swings at her with his pick, which just flows right through her.

    Hepla flies over a little closer, and then casts another Minor Globe of Invulnerability.

    Isilme casts her spell from above Braks, but it has no effect. She sees something in the air around his head shimmer for a moment as she casts her spell.

    Taki recovers from the spell and runs back up to pick up his dropped maul. Meanwhile, Noot slips over and picks up Taki's Iron Bands.

    Emyn curses as Markessa turns insubstantial and moves up to protect Hepla.

    Braks hits Gotrek again [?], and Gotrek hits him back [18]. Braks is knocked backwards, almost falling, but he recovers and stabs at Gotrek, hitting him again [?]. Gotrek just grunts and hits him back [20], knocking him to the ground.

    Berenn then casts Dispel Magic on Markessa. The dispel magic cancels her gaseous form, as she immediately begins to solidify again, much to Thorgrim's delight. She's still glittering, but you can also see her beneath that, so apparently her invisibility was cancelled as well. No telling what else was cancelled.

    Elrae moves up and sings a lullaby, putting one priest and 5 orcs to sleep. As they fall, they are instantly set upon by the other orcs and killed.

    Gotrek steps up and buries his axe in Braks's head, splitting his skull right in two!

    Isilme casts Strength (gaining 2 points) as Hepla and Elrae both send a barrage of Magic Missiles into Markessa, but they just flash out when they reach her, not affecting her at all.

    Markessa gives an evil grin and levitates up 10'.

    Thorgrim leaps up trying to hit her, but misses. Taki holds his ground on this side of the mudfield while Berenn draws Bonefire and moves up next to Thorgrim.

    Noot then throws the Iron Bands, which hit Markessa squarely in the back. She struggles, but they constrict around her, wrapping her tightly!

    Isilme flies down above the levitating Markessa and shoves, pushing her down into the mud.

    "Someone knock her out!" yells Hepla.

    Emyn sends the Ankheg off towards the orcs, where it is spitting acid on the group. The priest and a couple of orcs scream as they fall on the ground, writhing around in pain. The other 4 orcs turn and run.

    Markessa looks pretty calm as Taki and Thorgrim approach, and then Isilme catches her mouthing words to a spell. Spellcraft identifies it as Dimension Door. Isilme cannot cast it, so she attempts to counter with a Dispel Magic. It's the last of Isilme's "spell points" but it is well-used. The spell fizzles. Markessa's grin suddenly disappears and for once she looks scared.

    Isilme chops off Markessa's head with a deft stroke of her longsword. "For your crimes against the elves, you foul betrayer of your people, justice is served! "

    [I ruled that her head was the only part of her NOT wrapped in the iron bands. Hepla takes care of the last orcs. All the regular people fled back to their homes. In the mean time, Taki takes back his Iron Bands of Billaro, and you can check out Braks and Markessa. Elrae checks for magic. You find the following items:

    Braks: chainmail, longsword, small pale lavender stone.
    Markessa: Ring, Wand, Necklace]

    Berenn leads the party away from the village. You go back to where you left the Griffons, and he sends them to grab a couple orcs for dinner. Why not?

    Then you head NW, along the stream. Berenn finds a good place to camp, secluded, with water, and seemingly well away from anyone, certainly away from the road by a few miles. There you can rest, tend wounded, regain spells, and decide your next course of action.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:55 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:45 pm  
    The Slavers! - Part 4

    Isilme says "I have saved the elf and gave justice to the one who harmed her, I have no further duties compelling me as a bladesinger. Now that we have Gotrek's Goreblade let us return to the quest at hand of visiting justice on the evil ones of the temple of elemental evil."

    The party is now camped out by the stream, about 5 miles upstream from the village. It takes two days to heal completely, and the party stays hidden the entire time. The party slays the orcs, after learning that they were just part of a group guarding the village and the crossing, as it's a waystation on the Slave Road leading further into the Pomarj. They then feed them to the griffons.

    Berenn also finds that the man he pulled out of the fire is just a warrior in Markessa's service. His name is Deric Vanne, and he is indebted to Berenn. He vows to serve him. His auras say he is a man to be trusted, and his word should be true.

    Berenn, realizing he saved a cooperative henchman from certain death, gives Isilme a "pfft" and asks him what the morale of the fortress is and anything he knows about the slavers including any other locations. He also offers him a job at Warden's Station in return for the information.

    Deric realizes that Markessa would have had him burned in the inn, serving as bait, while his enemy saved him. He pledges his life to Berenn, swearing by Kelanen, Prince of Swords. You also find that there are many human mercenaries and guards who once followed Kelanen, but his temples were thrown down, replaced by the Earth Dragon. Most harbor resentment over this. Deric knows the route to the fortress, and he can provide much intelligence regarding the place, at least the portion he knows. He also knows enough that you could probably cut across country, avoiding the road altogether. Between his knowledge, and your flying abilities, you shouldn't have much problem. He does warn you about the many humanoid tribes in the area, so you have to be careful. There are thousands throughout the land.

    Thorgrim lights his pipe and pulls at it, looking into the distance. "Time could somehow be of the essence when considering the fortress. Markessa was expected there, with a shipment of slaves. Defenders will be most alert when expecting their leader. Her delay will make them anxious, and they may send scouting parties looking for her." He pauses for a while, lost in thought. "If news of her death has reached the place, there will be a change of power...maybe fortifications improved, sentries increased. Or more likely the place in complete chaos. Hard to say."

    "Deric," says Gotrek. "Have you seen other drow with Markessa? How about dwarves?"

    "No," he says quickly. "I ain't never seen no drow."

    "What do you know about Eldarve and the slave lords?" asks Emyn, "And do you know where their secret city to the south might be?"

    "No," he answers. "Sure, I've heard rumors of them, but don't know anything. Supposedly there are 20 of them and they secretly rule the entire Pomarj from their hidden city. Some say they are in turn ruled by something even greater, the Earth Dragon itself. Some say the Earth Dragon is not real, though the powers of its priests certainly is. Nobody really knows."

    Berenn asks, "How many mercenaries and guards are still loyal to Kelanen and would consider an insurrection against the worshipers of the Earth Dragon.

    "It's hard to say," he replies. "Maybe half of them were sworn to Kelanen, and maybe half of those would consider joining you. Most of the defenders of Markessa's fortress are hobgoblins, although they are usually led by men. There are maybe 50 men-at-arms there at any time, and perhaps double that number of hobgoblins. My troop was the only cavalry, and they are all now dead and gone."

    With the questioning over, the party gets one last night's rest, before heading out for Markessa's fortress.
    Waterday, 12th of Fireseek (CY 581)
    You awake in the morning to a slightly warmer day with temp around 40*. It's partly cloudy, with a very slight breeze blowing from the east. A good day for travel.

    After saying hi morning devotionals, Emyn helps Hepla to get her mount ready. [They all now have horses, taken from the slavers.] "Isilme," he says. "perhaps your wand might be of use in breaching the fortress? Also, "and he looks at the other warriors, " Does anyone how to build a siege engine like a catapult, mangonel or trebuchet?"

    Gotrek looks at Thorgrim and laughs. "What do you have in mind, laddie?"

    "I think sneaking in would be the best entrance," says Noot.

    "I have some skills in this regard," says Thorgrim. He takes a draw from his pipe. "But perhaps it might be better to approach the fortress by stealth. If we have decided to use neither plan of subterfuge: the Change of Leader plan (with Markessa's head in the bag), nor the Markessa Impersonation plan...both of which seem quite risky."

    "Perhaps if the gates are open, one of the mages can sneak up and cast wizard lock or hold portal on them. It would make them impossible to lower," offers Emyn.

    "I could always use Call Lightning and hit the main gate with that," says Berenn. "Not very subtle ... but it should open the gate. We could also scout around when we get there and see if we can find a weakness. I think we should decide on a plan of action once we have surveyed the situation. We should break camp and head out immediately."

    "I agree with this part of what you said," says Thorgrim. "You all are speaking as if we are an invading army laying siege. We don't yet know what traps are laid for us, nor what numbers we face, except an estimate from a human follower of Markessa's. Though we certainly out-class ordinary hobgoblins and men, there is strength in numbers. They may be able to simply swarm and overrun our ranks. And we know not what spellcasters or other powerful creatures we may face once we get there."

    Deric also adds the following, after Thorgrim speaks. "You are correct, Master Dwarf. The place would be quite difficult for any group to attack, let alone besiege. It is not just the garrison with which you must contend. Markessa's Executioner is a huge ogre, Golhâk the Nasty. Then there is Blackthorn." He almost shivers, "Nobody even knows who or what he is, but he was close to Markessa. I never saw him, as he stayed in the dungeons most of the time, but they say he seemed some kind of undead creature, over 7' tall!" If we could contact Icar, Markessa's Weapon Master and commander of the garrison, maybe he would come over, especially now that Markessa is dead. He is a great warrior and even yet retains his affinity for Kelanen. Markessa confronted him over this, and he laughed in Markessa's face, but such is his skill and tactical ability, that she left him alone."

    "Enough talk!" says Gotrek. "Let's go before I die of old age."

    "My friends," says Noot. "I think that whatever we do we should spend time gathering intelligence. The more we know, the more advantage we will have. Let us move in stealthily, learn all we can before we even decide to attack."

    Emyn looks to the sky and says, "I could have sworn I heard Trithereon whisper a word of caution to me. Perhaps the best track is to infiltrate subtly and then knock it down from the inside."

    Taki asks about moving cross the open country, but Deric hasn't ever been off the road down here. "There are way too many humanoids!" he says. Once you get closer to the fortress, he'll either recognize landmarks or find the trail. It's just the area between here and there, cross-country, that he doesn't know.

    You travel south throughout the day keeping about 5 miles from the road. There are virtually no trees along this route, and you travel through and around little rolling hills. Well, not hills, but just rolling ground where you can never see much more than maybe 1/2 mile or so, except the times you come to a "peak" and can see further. Eventually, this brings you to a large river, just upriver from where the first tributary joins it on your map. [Player Map which I can't find, but it was based on Anna's map, naturally! ] You can stop and rest there for a bit while you consider how to cross. The river is high and rough, and you don't see any crossings. Deric says that there is another village, this one with a small fort, where the Slave Road crosses the river. It is heavily defended with a permanent garrison of men and humanoids. He doesn't know of any other fords, and there certainly are no bridges. It also warms up as the sun breaks through the clouds. It just about reaches 60, the warmest day you've had in months and a welcome respite from the snow, rain, and fog you have been dealing with for so long.

    The river is about 100' wide. If it weren't swollen from rains, you'd probably cross it easy. You may just have to find a good spot.

    "I can levitate somebody across," says Hepla.

    Gotrek scratches his head. What does he hate worse. Roaring waters clamoring to take him and his full plate armor down to a restless grave, or be snapped up by magical winds, without any control? He grunts, unconsciously taken crumbs out from his beard. "Hepla. I will take you up in your most generous offer!"

    Hepla agrees to Levitate Gotrek and about 600lbs of equipment across once we choose a spot. Putting him down on the other side she will giggle and say, "I just want you to know, this is not the way I usually pick up guys." She giggles, then flies across.

    Meanwhile, Elrae does his best Ice Man impression with Snowfang, creating an ice bridge spanning the river just upstream a bit. Everyone can then carefully cross without difficulty.

    You follow the small stream upriver the rest of the day. The land is rising, and the terrain getting rougher. The small rolling mounds are turning into actual hills, though you are moving up a decidedly lower section. To the left and right much higher hills rise, and ahead they quickly rise to form the Drachenscrab Mountains.

    Berenn spots a group of goblins in the distance, maybe about 30 of them. They haven't seen you yet, so he flies down to let you know. "We can easily avoid them if you like," he says.

    "It matters not," says Thorgrim. Let us avoid them so as not to distract from our true purpose in traveling these lands."

    "I agree," says Emyn. "We should avoid them. It is more important to find out way unannounced to the fortress."

    Taki shakes his head in disgust and says, "We are here to defeat evil, and evil is ahead of us, yet we ride around?" With that he spits but follows the parties lead.

    Nobody argues with the big man as the party moves on. With Berenn scouting out the goblins, it is no hard task to avoid them. They pass on their way without ever knowing you were there. You can make camp for the night near the stream, about a mile north of where it intersects the trail to Markessa's fortress.

    When they stop to camp Taki, will patrol around to make sure we are safe. He doesn't seem happy, and Thorgrim goes with him.

    "Your anger is righteous, my friend," says Thorgrim while they patrol. "But the defenders of Markessa's fortress must not be forewarned of our approach. We need to pick our battles. If even one of the goblin scum escapes our wrath, it will be a hard road indeed."

    "I'd prefer to deal death to all this evil scum," replies Taki.

    "Taki, might you be a paladin in disguise?" says Emyn, who meets them as he's gathering some wood. "Sorry, didn't mean to eavsedrop.

    "Nah sir not me I care not for many rules," he replies, picking up some wood himself.

    "Then perhaps I might persuade you to join my order?" asks Emyn. "We who follow the Summoner are of a similar mind and don't truck with rules. We also oppose evil and oppression."

    "Not much of a joiner either," replies Taki, handing Emyn the wood before walking away.

    After watching him go, Thorgrim and Emyn return to help set up camp, and everyone except Taki has their armor off, to repair it, dry it, oil it, etc. Hepla and Emyn have gone off to look for herbs, while the rest of the party laughs at the holy warrior's fumbling attempts at courting. It is late afternoon and everyone is resting when the party hears a loud growling noise.

    Taki tells the group to relax. "I've seen a large bear, but I do not think he means us harm."

    Emyn looks ar Berenn and says, "Looks like one of your friends decided to look for a meal. Maybe you want to talk to it."

    Berenn will try to calm the bear down and cast Speak With Animals. He then moves down to the stream, where the bear is splashing around. He will apologize if the party has stumble into its territory and will assure the bear we will be moving on in the morning.

    Keeping an eye on the extremely large human with the maul, the bear slowly moves to the other side of the river and huffs once or twice in his direction before turning to the half elf. The ranger was obviously attempting to talk to him. He thinks, This could go badly.. Maybe if I perk my ears up or smile or something?

    Berenn immediately realizes something is odd about the bear. Its eyes are darting back and forth with more intelligence than a normal brown bear. And was it smiling at me," he wonders to himself....

    Berenn is a little more wary now, but will continue to use Speak with Animals to try to open a dialogue. "Are you a lycanthrope in the form of a bear," he asks. "I've seen other stricken by this disease and there may be a way to break the curse if you want the assistance."

    Hepla and Emyn, gathering herbs near the campsite with her loyal herb carrier, wanders in the bears direction until about 15 feet away she looks up, stops and says,"Bear. And what a magnificant bear you are too."

    The bear's head swings back and forth watching everyone warily before it slowly starts to back away. It then fixes Berenn with an oddly intelligent stare.

    "Berenn, what does the creature say?" asks Thorgrim.

    The bear stops and stands on both hind legs and you hear popping and snapping as it begins to twist and crack and shift into a human male. The human stands about 6'1" tall and has wild and unkempt black shoulder length hair and green eyes. He is extremely skinny but has a very wiry muscular build. And he is buck naked.

    "So sorry about the clothes. My name is... Well, to tell the truth, I have no clue who I am. Or why I was captured." He turns uncomfortably and kneels down in the water to make himself at least decent. "I recently woke up in a bear cage. In the night I shifted into the form you see now. I was able to squeeze through the bars and have been wandering ever since. I was starving so came here to see if I could catch a damned fish when you arrived."

    The man is well spoken and obviously intelligent. He keeps a wary eye on everyone and firmly fixes his gaze on all those that speak.

    "That's something you dont see ever day," says Taki.

    "So you have no memory of your past, or how you came to acquire this Curse?" asks Thorgrim. "If you would have me do it, I would remove this affliction for you." If the werebear is agreeable then Thorgrim will cast Remove Curse.

    The human further explains his situation and he continues with what he remembers.. "The first memory I have is of falling into water and bouncing along in the dark. There was a bright light and the next thing I knew I was laying on shore of a lake, naked. I wandered around a bit, and ran into a bear at one point. The bear somehow spoke to me and I learned that I was a shape-shifter! I changed and stayed with the bear for some time, as it helped me to understand what I was doing with the shifting.

    Eventually, after parting from the wild bear a bunch of goblins chased me away from the lake area, and I was left alone. I wandered a long time, but was then captured (in bear form) by some hyena-like creatures. I escaped from them a couple days ago, as they were traveling on the road to the south, by becoming human and slipping through the bars. I made my way down the stream when we just met.."

    Looking up his final words are, "And that's all I remember.. of anything!"

    "What should we call you," asks Taki. "Mr. Bear?"

    "I don't know," he replies. "Bear I guess would be as good a name as any until I can hopefully get my memory back."

    [OOC: just want to say, that was all perfect! Welcome to the game Tripwire. His character is still kinda in creation, so you won't see it posted for a bit. We're kinda mix and matching a bit between 2nd and 3rd ed to make this work. Anyway, welcome Tripwire.]

    Thorgrim attempts the remove curse, but it doesn't have any effect. Only a few of you really have any knowledge of lycanthropy, and everything you've heard agrees with one thing, there's no easy cure. The rumors also agree in one other point, werebears are generally good.

    Emyn reaches into his pack and gives the man some food and water, "How about Manbearpig?" [OOC: sorry, he couldn't resist!]

    The party is able to gather up some clothes he can wear, and Hepla uses her cantrips to tailor them just right. The man is very grateful.

    "Do you need arms and armor?" asks Taki. "We have some extra of both, not sure how it works when you turn into the bear."

    "Thanks for any clothing," he replies. "I will be careful when I shift. I can control when I do it. As far as weapons and armor I don't really use them much, just possibly a dagger "just in case". I am slowly starting to learn that I have mental "abilities" that I am quickly remembering. I can use them to defend myself if needed and to help offensively if there is evil. The abilities are coming back to me as they are needed it seems. So far I know I can make my flesh into armor, enhance my strength as well as effect other creatures minds. I can tell when someone is lying as well as other abilities just out of my grasp, but they will come back to me." [OOC: he's a psionic, but he's playing like he has amnesia, so he's learning his abilities as he goes. Certainly turned out to be something new, a psionic wearbear. Like Taki said, "you don't see that every day.]

    "Now that I have this nice set of chainmail our new bear friend can wear these magic bracers." Elrae reaches in his satchel and gives him the bracers of AC 4.

    Bear is suprised by the quick acceptance by the group of adventurers. He knew also that they weren't lying about anything they talked about and that they were genuine in their concern.

    "Thank you all. I don't think I am as shabby as I appear normally." He graciously accepts the offer of food and is stunned at the offer of the bracers.

    A extremely burly dwarf offers him some concoction of liquid that looked like it could start a fire and he graciously declines, "Thank you sir but I think I need to get some food and rest a bit before hitting anything very hard."

    After he accepts the bracers he turns to the group. "I am looking to find out what happened to me. Who I am and why I am in this area. If you will have me I am willing to do whatever it takes to help out the group in any way I can. I can be extremely useful, maybe not in physical firepower, but I am excellent as support in any situation. I can read minds, turn anyone of the group invisible to individual eyes, I can tell when someone is lying regardless of the language they speak. I can also mentally harm people if I need to, make them believe things they don't want and even dominate someone mentally and force them to do things they wouldn't normally. I don't tend to look for violence but when evil is concerned I will act as necessary."

    A closer look at "Bear" and underneath the grime you see a very gaunt figure. His frame is very thin and his feet quite large. He doesn't look that strong or graceful and is nothing at all special to look upon. He does however seem to have an iron hard willpower and he seems to be in perfect health, with a strong wiry frame and very intelligent eyes. There is also a wisdom that can't be denied in the way he talks and delivers himself. Looking at his hands you don't see the hands of a warrior, but one that seems to not know hard labor.

    "Perhaps "Bear" can lead us back to the beginning of his memory tomorrow," says Berenn. "I think it worth taking a look around since he first memory is a fall. It could be he is a failed experiment, I have heard that powerful mages can cause these sort of curses upon men. If a mage has caused this curse, he or she will probably know how to remove it."

    Hepla casts a Clean cantrip on him and continues to look for herbs. Now she is looking for some to season food as she plans to make a good stew to welcome Bear into the party. After she finds some she will use, a pot to make a good rich stew in. In the ashes of the fire she will bake some bread so that everyone has a good meal.

    Taki also offers Bear his magic dagger that glows in the dark. Bear gracefully accepts the dagger and shudders with pleasure as the clean cantrip washes all the grime from his body. "I don't know anything about herbs so sorry I can't help you there."

    The group sits around talking, finishing up their armor repairs and maintenance, and then settles down to a good night's sleep. Tomorrow, they will follow Bear's memory, backtracking his steps and see where they lead.
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    Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:28 am  
    The Slavers - Part 5

    Earthday, 13th of Fireseek (CY 581)
    You get another good night's sleep, waking up to a slightly warmer clear day, getting up to about 60. There is a slight breeze.

    "We should go cross-country," says Taki, already prepared to travel.

    Hepla offers Bear her horse, and Emyn quickly offers to ride double with Hepla on his warhorse, Camilla. "The warhorse can easily handle the weight," he stammers, just as quickly.

    Berenn takes the griffons on a hunt early in the morning. He is going to use them alternately for a while with the other not being rode until he can make a decision about a more permanent solution.

    "Griffons are not just mounts," he explains, "and they are a little upset they are being treated that way."

    Berenn helps the party to avoid the goblins, a large tribe of which live nearby. He estimates about 1000 warriors in all. Bear acknowledges that he saw many goblins in the area, and they send parties to the lake often. There is a small cave near the lake where he lived, and he leads you there. It is evening by the time you reach the place, and you can camp there. The fortress is just over the small hill where you are camped.

    The lake is in a little bowl, with nothing more than a couple tiny rivulets running into it. Certainly you don't see a river like Bear described. There is also no river around the fortress. When asked, Bear says that this is definitely the lake where he washed up. He can take you to the exact spot he woke up, a shallow spot with a sandy back.

    Hepla thanks Emyn and kisses him lightly on the cheek as she jumps off. Emyn's face turns an embarrassed red as Hepla gives a bit of fruit to Camilla to thank her too. She goes to examine the cave and see if it is shallow or deep. She quickly notes that it is plenty large enough for the entire party.

    While the party sets up camp in the cave, Berenn will take the griffons out hunting again in the evening and take a look around the fortress. He is looking to see if a river runs through or near the fortress.
    Markessa's Fortress
    The hill fort is a Combination of recent construction and the remians of an older stone fortress.The outer walI of the hill fort is an earthen rampart topped by a wooden stockade. However, the curtain wall containing the drawbridge is made of stone. The wall is 35 high and is topped by a stone parapet which is constantly manned.The curtain wall is connected to the rest of the fort by the rampart and stockade.

    The ground slopes upward from the curtain wall, and some distance back,across an open courtyard, is the gate house. This is of massive construction, four stories high, with a stone parapet atop it, so that all sides can be defended. The rampart and stockade connect to the gatehouse and surround the fort keep.

    The keep abuts the rampart on three sides, with a parade ground to the north between the main building and the gatehouse. The fort was originally a single story stone building, but the slavers have added a wooden guard post as a partial second story. The entrance to the main building is recessed back and an enclosed garden leads from the building's entrance to the parade ground. The rampart and stockade surround the fort on the west, south, and east sides and join the curtain wall to the north. The outer face of the walls and stockade are fitted with downward sloping spikes to prevent attackers from scaling the walls. The stockade has a walkway on all sides, the walkway being 15'above the main building's first floor. Guards patrol the walkway, and the top of the gatehouse and curtain wall, but it is impossible to estimate numbers from a distance.

    "Maybe we should hit him in the head again?" asks Emyn. "I hear that works sometimes to help people remember."

    Bear smiles at Emyn hoping he was kidding about another blow to the head. "I think I will pass on that." Moving off with Berenn he try's his best to remember anything at all. He stares at the spot on the lake where he woke and starts talking out loud. "I remember falling. I don't remember how far. I remember water and bounding around in the dark, then I remember a bright light and waking up right there." He points to the beach. With frustration he begins to pace back and forth looking and trying his best to think of anything else.

    Circling around the lake, you see evidence of goblin camps on the far side, and goblin tracks around that part of the lake, though they are old. There is an outlet stream there, which winds down a small valley towards the river in the plain. There is simply no river emptying into the lake.

    "He said falling into water, bouncing around in the dark, then a flash of light and he is on the shore line," says Berenn. "The flash of light could have been a teleport spell or dimension door. Berenn will cast Detect Magic where he ended up on the shore."

    Bear turns to Berenn before he begins to cast and says, "I think the flash of light was more me breaching the surface of the water than any magical type flash."

    "You were underwater?" asks Berenn. "I guess we could explore that." Berenn tells Ra and Thoth to fly around for awhile, but stay near. Berenn removes his armor, puts on his breeches, takes both his swords, casts Water Breathing and dives into the lake.

    "I do wonder if there is an underground cave or river involved with this lake," muses Emyn. "It seems to have a fresh source of water, and these small streams likely cannot sustain such cleanliness."

    Gotrek says to Berenn, "You should take Bear with you."

    Bear nods to Gotrek, "I can go one better, I can hold my breath for quite some time and swim like a fish." He carefully removes his clothing and folds them neatly before diving into the water where he transforms into a black bear. Nodding at Berenn he takes a huge lungful of air and dives below the surface with him.

    Berenn and Bear dive in, but quickly find that they have a problem. It is dark now, so they can't see very well. Berenn's infravision doesn't really work that great, as the water, surrounding rock, dirt, and plants, and even fish are pretty much all the same temperature. He does notice one current of water which has a distinctly different temperature; it is colder than the lake water, and as it moves and diffuses, it also is warming up. Following the current, which gradually increases in strength as he seeks its source, they find a small underwater cave, about 20' down. It is large enough for a man to swim through, but the force is such that a man cannot swim against the current.

    When Hepla gets back from her flight, as a bird, around the fortress she can hep investigation. Hopefully her cloak of the manta ray works in fresh water. She finds that the cloak works perfectly well, allowing her to see and move just fine. She can also swim easily against the current of the underground stream. It goes for quite some way; it's hard to get an accurate assessment of distance swimming as a manta ray against the river's current. There are some pockets of air, small caverns through which the river passes. That's probably why Bear survived, but she get the feeling he was very lucky.

    She finds a couple of caves, but further on she finds a shaft just above the river. The water goes up about 5' then ends. There is a well going up, though it's pitch black and she can't see up there in your manta ray form.

    She removes the cloak, changes to a bat, flies almost to the top of the well where she becomes a rat who scurries to the lip of the well for a look around. It seemed she swam for a couple of minutes to get to each of those caverns with air, as well as to get to the shaft. The caverns don't seem to match Bear's description of falling into the water, so she doesn't really investigate them. The first one is pretty small and the second one bigger than the radius of her light spell. The shaft is a couple minutes further, and the river continues on after that. She continued a few minutes further, maybe five, without seeing anything else of interest. She then returned to the shaft, which she reached very fast moving with the current. At that point she swam up, held the side and used her polymorph to change into a bat, and just gets out of the water. She then flies up about 30' to the top of the well, bouncing along the walls a few times in the dark (polymorph doesn't give you much beyond the size change, breathing, and locomotion). At the top of the well she can turn into a rat, but that doesn't do her much good because she still can't see. However, it seems there's nothing else in here, so she turns back into herself. As soon as the dagger returns to normal as well, she sees she's in a small chamber, maybe 30' or so wide, with a 10' wide well in the center. The is a door in one wall. Happy with her discovery, she reverses the process to get back to the party, that is rat to bat to manta ray then Hepla again.

    Thorgrim waits for Hepla to return and report. When she does, he will say/do the following:

    "Well every keep has a water souce," says Thorgrim. "Looks like this is it." He suggests the party use this route to infiltrate Markessa's stronghold, unless scouting reveals any better ideas.

    Now how are we going to do it? Polymorph? Make some air bladders and swim for it? Thorgrim suggests that if we take our normal selves in and swim for it, the party can stow their equipment and arms in his Portable Hole. Although the party would be defenseless upon arrival, and it would take some time to gear up. He thinks Polymorph might be the best bet, but won't that use all our mage's spells up?

    "What other ideas have ye?" he will ask the party.

    "Who has rope and how much?" asks Berenn. "We could just run a line the distance and everyone could drag themselves through stopping at the air pockets along the way. I think we should stow our armor in the portable hole for the journey. We can keep our weapons on our persons. Hepla swims through, gives a couple of tugs when she reaches the chamber and we pull ourselves through."

    "Dam the river with wall of stone," says Emyn, "and flood the keep from the inside?"

    "Not a bad idea," replies Gotrek. "but that would entail a lot of work, without magic. If the place was flooding, they would run out the front door. And we would be waiting for them."

    "It might destroy evidence we need to find these slave lords, though," adds Emyn. "Still, infiltrating through the dungeons is likely to be unexpected."

    Gathering up all their rope, the party has 350' of rope, by my count, seven lengths of 50'. Noot uses his knot-tying skills and links them all together, making one length about 325' long. It turns out to be about 250' from the first cavern to the opening beneath the lake, so they can barely string the rope out to there. They have to do things in stages, get to the first cave, then the second cave, and then to the well.

    "Everyone one put armor and other things that might get ruined if wet in the portable hole or Isilme's chest and keep your weapons on you just in case," says Berenn. "We will move one cave at a time, taking a little rest in between and when Taki and Hepla get to the well they need to make sure the room is clear before signalling the rest of us to come."

    "Aye. I need a bath, anyway," says Gotrek. "Let's get started!"

    "No, let us wait for morning," says Thorgrim. "Though I agree, you do need a bath." He smiles at Gotrek, who just glares back. "We have had a long trek, and everyone's tired. Let's get some sleep, then proceed at first light."

    The party agrees and settles down for sleep. Hepla and Taki gather some fish from the lake, and Hepla cooks it up on a small fire in the cave. Everyone then goes to sleep, taking turns on watch just in case.

    Freeday, 14th of Fireseek (CY 581)
    You awake in the morning to another nice, clear day. The air is clean and brisk, with a slight wind swirling over the lake. You see no sign of trouble, no goblins, etc. You can get a bite to eat and then proceed.

    All spells and such are regained. Hepla casts Water Breathing. She can touch 9 characters, giving 1 hour of water breathing to each, so it's better if she does it. She doesn't believe anyone else can swim against the current without help, so she will have to go alone. Assuming Emyn will pitch a fit about this, so of course he wants to go. Unfortunately, he doesn't have Rope Use. You need somebody who you can count on to tie a good knot at the other end, and Noot's the best. So, Hepla gives Noot the cloak while she casts Polymorph Self on herself, changing form into a Merman (woman!). Everyone except the two of them put their gear into the Portable Hole while Hepla and Noot swim to the first cave. Hepla casts light on a column, bathing the small cave in light, and then they tie the rope off to the column. Hepla just swims back to tell everyone they're done, while Noot investigates the cave.

    The cave is is pretty large, maybe 30' wide. It's obviously been created by flowing water, and there is some still dripping from the ceiling, creating more stalagmites and stalactites. The river flows on through it in a shallow channel, about 5' deep and maybe 10' wide. The tunnel is only about 5' wide, so the water slows down just a bit in here as it flows out over a larger area. There is a ledge next to it where you can crawl out, and more flowstone ledges create a three-tiered effect. From the top tier he also finds a small crack, about 2' wide and high which opens in the wall. There's no telling how far it goes.

    Hepla swims back out the other side, to tell everyone they're ready. A few minutes after she leaves, Noot hears a chittering sound coming from the small crack in the wall. He also smells a foul, fetid odor, carried on the ever so slight breeze coming this way. Noot moves silently away, back to the edge of the top tier in the cave. There he tucks himself back into the shadows, awaiting whatever may be coming through the crack in the wall. About a minute later he sees about a 2' wide and 6' long centipede emerge, with a bunch of tentacles on its head.

    Noot stays hidden as the thing comes out. It sways its bulbous head back and forth, tentacles flickering out over the ground and rocks. It then turns in Noot's direction and starts to move towards him. The creature moves directly towards Noot, who jumps down to the next tier. The creature goes over to where he was, "sniffs" around with it's tentacles and then seems to see Noot, turning and crawling after him. Noot runs and jumps across the water, grabbing onto a small ledge on the other side. The creature moves over to where he jumped, rears back, and flails at the air with it's tentacles. It then stretches towards the ceiling, grabs ahold with it front legs, and pulls itself up to the ceiling. It then starts to crawl across.

    It crawls across the ceiling, and Noot dives into the river. With his diving skill, he easily cuts across and comes back up on the other side, scrambling out before the current can pull him downstream. The carrion crawler (yes, that's what it is!) flails around a bit in frustration, then turns around and very quickly scurries back across the ceiling, down a stalactite, and stretches to the floor. Noot gets up, his sword and dagger out, and the creature nearing him. Just then Taki and Hepla come up in the water. They look up and see Noot, wet and breathing heavily, standing off against the long, chitinous creature. Hepla fires a magic missile at it [17]. They slam into it's large, multi-faceted eye, and the thing turns and flees away as Taki crawls out of the water. It goes back through the crack from which it emerged earlier.

    It's takes about thirty minutes for the entire party to make it to the cave, and then about the same to get to the next one. They then follow the same procedure to reach the well, where they crawl up a rope they fasten. With no other encounters, they spend a good half-hour as Berenn uses Bonefire to warm everyone up. Once everyone's dry, the party then gets their gear out of the portable hole, and everyone gets ready to move out.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:05 am  
    The Slavers - Part 6

    Here's a map to follow their progress:

    [The party actually begins in room 16. In the original A2, this was the Beehives chamber, which I thought was out of place. I made this the well and access to the underground river.]

    The door opens to a tunnel. It is a natural tunnel, but expanded by hand to be more of a worked corridor. It bends back to the east and enters another large natural chamber, also likewise expanded and shored up into a larger storage room. If contains several stacks of crates, kegs and barrels along one wall, boxes, etc. There is a large tunnel exiting the chamber to the SW and headed west.

    As you are walking town this large 15' corridor, you spot a net attached to the ceiling [marked 18A on the map]. A rope heads away from the net, along a series of rings, to the far end of the corridor.

    Emyn says quietly, "This is an obvious trap. Maybe we should go the other way to avoid notice."

    "You have to wonder why someone would leave a trap so visible," says Berenn.

    "It's a distraction from the real trap, perhaps," says Thorgrim.

    While you're standing at the beginning of the corridor, considering what to do, a horn blows from the other end.

    Emyn says, "Rip that net down, Taki. The last thing we need are people caught in it with the fight we're probably going to have next."

    The ceiling is 15' high, so even Taki cannot reach the net to pull it down. Elrae cancels the light spell on Taki's maul, throwing the area into darkness. Everyone is basically blinded for the moment, though infravision gradually kicks in for others. Meanwhile, Hepla transforms into a small black dragon. As the party hears growls and howls from worgs in the distance, they all prepare for an attack.

    Isilme wonders why the party didn't send a drow to scout ahead for them while in the underdark. She levitates to the ceiling, still using invisibility, and will use her superior dark vision to see what's ahead, as soon as she can see. She takes a deep breath of the air and smiles, waiting.

    With Emyn effectively blind, he will use his blindfighting skills if combat is required. He also says, "You do realize half the party cannot see. If we get into combat, we are going to have an issue."

    Noot can see the trap clearly from the front of the party, as he has 30' infravision. If the rope is pulled, it releases a bunch of small clasps that hold the net up. Taki lifts him up, and Noot is able to cut the rope. Once he's done, Elrae casts light at the end of the tunnel, illuminating the area beyond. You hear cries and the dwarves recognize goblin curses, along with sharp howls from worgs. The party is still completely in the darkness, but the area at the end is bathed in light. Looking down towards the lighted area messes up your infravision, so you are all using normal vision. Still, you can clearly see the end, while nobody down there will be able to see you now.

    Hepla flies down in front of the party, lands, and morphs into Markessa's form. She looks back at Noot and quietly says,"Why not?"

    When Bear sees Hepla (looking like Markessa) he freezes in place, a weird look on his face. He stammers and then straight passes out, dropping to the ground with a thud!

    As Elrae and Berenn check on Bear, Hepla giggles and begins walking down the corridor, backed up by Thorgrim and Gotrek. "Be confident, my child," says Thorgrim.

    As they approach the end of the tunnel, two worgs come charging around it. Hepla casts Mirror Image, and the two worgs leap to attack, but tumble through mirror images. Thorgrim and Gotrek slam their weapons into the beasts' heads, dropping each one with single blows. The other goblins seem to have their worgs in check, and the rest hesitate, unsure what to do. Around the corner, they find a group of goblins and worgs, though the worgs are being held back.

    Hepla/Markessa, not even looking at the dead worgs, says "Captain, present yourself".

    A large and particularly vile-looking goblin comes forward, dropping to one knee and looking down, not meeting Hepla/Markessa's gaze. "Mistress," he says, staring at a spot in the floor and shaking with fear. "Forgive us. Light made thems mad frenzy."

    "Give me two of your best and continue your assignment," she barks, "and get me some wine NOW."

    "You heard her Grace," says Elrae, coming up behind her while the dwarves just do their best to look mean. "Give her some wine now!"

    The goblin leader barks orders, and the worg riders take their beasts back to their kennels, to the NW. A few others take off to the north, fetching wine. The leader, still on his knees, turns back, always keeping his eyes on the ground. "What more, Mistress?"

    As the rest of the party approaches, Emyn (visor down) laughs in a hollow wicked sounding voice, "Watch the vermin scurry, ha ha ha!"

    "Where are the two I ordered?" asks Hepla/Markessa.

    The goblins bring wine, which she drinks, then spits out, dropping the bag to the floor. "What did I expect," she mumbles.

    When she gets two guards she will tell them, "Escort me to my quarters, I trust I do not have to give you directions."

    Back to the captain she says,"Return to your duties, you have performed adequately. And clean up this mess." She then points back to the two dead worgs.

    The goblins escort the party through their area [ 19. Worg Kennel on the map] The area really smells, and is evidently the Worg Kennel. There are numerous side passages that lead to their dens. At the far end is a portcullis, which is raised so you can pass into the corridor beyond. The area is worked stone, with lit torches providing light everywhere. The goblins close it after you enter. The party is escorted along a corridor [to where the "30" is on the map]. There are two very large gnolls with wicked looking polearms standing at attention. They see Hepla/Markessa and stand even straighter, stepping to the side, backs against the walls, and slam the butts of their polearms on the stone floor, standing at attention. Beyond them down is a 20' long passage angling back to the left and ending in a door. The goblin leader backs away, bowing profusely and keeping his head down.

    Hepla/ Markessa, without even looking at him says, "You have my permission to continue TO my door." While waiting for the goblin to take us farther Hepla casts TONGUES so she convers with these beings in their own language, if needed.

    The goblin leader stammers another "yes Mistress" and moves with you to the door. The large gnolls seem surprised by the order, but only the most observant could catch their brief reaction before they steel their visages once again. They are clearly not going to question Markessa, whom Hepla appears to be. The party is about to head down the passage, when the door opposite the intersection opens. You turn and look, and standing in the doorway is Markessa!

    The entire party stands there, dumbfounded. The elf woman standing before you is identical to the one you fought earlier, except for two distinct differences. First, she lacks the gold paint on her face. But second, and much more obvious, this elf has skin as black as the darkest night, and long flowing hair as white as winter snow. Before anyone can react, Hepla/Markessa flashes an evil smile. "And what have you been up to, deary?" she asks.

    The startled dark elf looks away from Hepla/Markessa. She actually looks scared as she looks down and speaks in a whisper, "Nothing, Mistress."

    The party can clearly see that this NEW elf is an absolute TWIN to Markessa. Well, except for being a dark elf.

    Hepla says to this Black Markessa,"Your presence is helpful. I really need to rest my voice so I appoint you to take these new recruits around the fortress and acquaint them with all we have here. They are specialists so give them the complete tour. You never know when or where I will be sending one of them, it could be anywhere."

    Thorgrim whispers to Hepla in Dwarvish, "Not sure where you are going with all this...should we not all retire to your chambers and make a group gameplan? Once we're inside tell Black Markessa she can do the tour later."

    In dwarvish, Gotrek adds, "Invite her to the group meeting. And kill her."

    In Dwarvish Hepla/Markessa replies, "Once we get the door open, without it killing us, and we get inside, we need a plan. Should we take the tour with Black Markessa or kill her in the room, If necessary I can become her."

    The goblin leader goes down the hallway to open the door, while Black Markessa acts totally subservient to Hepla/Markessa. Isilme levitates up to the ceiling, then pushes herself along, to get to the north side of the party and get a better look. This "drow" just seems too timid to be one of her kind; something's definitely not right.

    Noot steps aside, backs up, and lets the goblin try to open the door. He turns back, absolutely fearful. "It not open, Mistress."

    Black Markessa [I like that name!] glances around at the party, then back at Hepla/Markessa. She seems confused.

    Isilme, invisible and floating above Hepla, casts ESP. She senses a bit of confusion in the two large gnoll guards, though also determination and not a little fear. There is nothing but absolute terror coming from the goblin, who is terrified beyond all other thoughts! As for Black Markessa, she is very strange. She seems a bit afraid of Hepla/Markessa, but also curious with an edge of doubt. You also sense a very general timidness to her, which is very odd for a Drow.

    After the Goblin checks the door, Isilme casts a Knock, then whispers to Hepla/Markessa from just above her head, "I've opened it with a Knock spell. All's clear."

    "Try it again captain," says Hepla/Markessa, a little harder this time. Remember I ordered TWO goblins to come with me, you changed it to one, yourself. The reward for changing my orders is to open my door for me, prove you are worth two of your kind." She suppresses a giggle, and glances up, winking at Isilme wherever she is. The goblin goes to the door and opens it easily. You may now all enter.

    Hepla dismisses the goblin, and strides boldly into the room, calling back for Black Markessa to follow. Isilme senses hesitation, but it is overridden with fear, and the other Markessa meekly follows. Isilme slips down and lightly slips through the doorway, as the rest of the party follows. Taki takes the unconcioius Bear from the goblins, who flee after he gives them a grim stare. Once everyone is inside, Isilme whispers to Hepla/Markessa to wave her hand at the door. When she does so, the invisible Isilme closes it, making it seem Hepla/Markessa did it.

    You enter a chamber about 30' square. It is clearly a bedroom. There is a large bed along the north wall, a full length mirror stands against the western wall and a painting of Markessa hangs on the eastern wall. There is a wardrobe on the south wall.

    Hepla/Markessa looks at Black Markessa and says,"Wine, now." Then while she is getting her some wine, [Hepla OOC: I presume she keeps some in her rooms] Hepla/ Markessa says,"Sometimes I don't know why I keep you here, how long has it been?"

    Isilme picks up very conflicting emotions from Black Markessa. There is an initial resistance to the command, very faint, which is immediately overpowered by an incredibly strong desire to please Hepla/Markessa.

    "I have been with you always, Mistress." Isilme picks up a momentary thought of a year or two, then confusion. "I shall fetch your wine," she says, then turns to go back out the hallway.

    Hepla/ Markessa looks at the party and says," We have a moment, what shall we do with her?"

    After Black Markessa leaves, Bear wakes up while Elrae uses Snowfang to Detect Magic around the room. He finds magic emanating from a scroll sitting atop a small writing table. Isilme looks at it, and sees it's blank. There is a small inkwell next to it, so she takes out the pen and writes "need help" on the scroll. She then takes out the scroll they found with the captain of The Ghoul. Sure enough, the note appears there. They found the other half of the Scroll of Communication.

    Bear is still shaky, but he can now relate his tale:

    After waking and nearly freaking out once again at the Markessa sighting, the group quickly explains what happened. "My full name is Azaer Ael-Koth...."

    [OOC: I know this is probably longer than they have in the game at this second, but this is what you learn from him as we go through the dungeon and just talking in general. First his background then what happened most recently..]

    Azaer came from a family of scholars and archeologists and was born on the outskirts of the Bright Desert at an oasis trading post called Ul Bakak. His father was a prominent figure in the archeology field and also a powerful telepath. A pacifist, his father preferred to use his mental abilities only as a last resort and only to gather information. Quickly he recognized his son’s mental abilities as a child and sent him to his own mentor to learn how to control his powers in Radigast City. His father had other secrets as well that he hoped wouldn’t show up with his son.

    Azaer spent his youth as a scholar and became a very intelligent and well spoken student who learned his craft quickly. As a teen he began to learn more about archeology and like his father before him began travelling widely at a very early age. He continued his studies in Psionics and that was where things to a strange turn. Azaer began to learn that for archeology and the extreme climates he needed to spend outdoors he would need to harden and somehow overcome his delicate frame and tried to come up with a way to do this through his psionic abilities. That was when he came upon a science called Animal Affinity. He knew it was an extremely dangerous and delicate science but dove in head first. He soon learned that (unfortunately for him as he would mostly be in desert climates) his animal affinity was a Grizzly Bear. Not familiar with the large hairy animal be began to use his powers haphazardly to quickly try to master the form so he could use it to his advantage.

    He was alone outside of the city one night working with his newfound psionic ability when he felt a terrible calling deep inside. The moon shone full and he began to change and found himself in bear form. Thinking it was his psionic affinity gone crazy he returned to the city the next morning and confronted his mentor and master. He immediately sent him home to speak with his father. That was when he learned that his family had a history of Lycanthropy. Every 3rd or 4th generation in the male portion of his family a child was born with the “disease”. His father had hoped it would skip his son but it was not to be and he taught his son all he knew of his family’s legacy. Embracing it as a good thing instead of a bad Azaer went on to “find himself” and become an adventurer not for monetary gain or fame, but for knowledge and wisdom and to further his psionic mastery. He quickly surpassed his father and even his mentor in mental abilities and soon found himself travelling Flaness looking for the right opportunities to farther his abilities and knowledge.

    Azaer is a soft spoken scholar with a thin frame but a very deep constitution and ruggedness that only the desert people seem to have. He is very smart and very worldly and wise for his young age. He doesn’t shy away from violence if it is the last resort and only vs evil but would prefer to use his mental abilities in a support role for adventurers and has become an invaluable asset to many teams that are surprised at his resourcefulness in many areas.


    Azaer was on a ship travelling the coast with a group of Archeologists when the slavers surprised attacked by ship in the middle of the night. Realizing there was no escape he went below in the hold area and changed into bear form where he acted unconscious. The slavers while surprised to see a bear on a ship took him captive in a cage anyway and brought him along.

    He stayed with the slavers thinking he would easily be able to escape at the earliest opportunity. However, in his supreme confidence he didn’t realize the danger of Markessa. Somehow the wizard knew he was a werebear and quickly subdued and captured him. He learned quickly that he was the actual reason they captured the entire ship and brought the slavers down on his companions. It seemed as if she wanted to use his werebear abilities in some experiements. He was taken to Highport and as she thought he was some sort of priest she kept him from resting or “praying” and even though she was wrong that he was a priest the tactic worked and he couldn’t regain his psionic powers through rest and meditation.

    In Highport he learned that Markessa was doing insane experiments and creating monsters. In her insane mind she thought to dissect and study Azaer and use his abilities somehow to create more of her monstrosities. The results of her early experiments were the hybrid creatures below The Temple of the Earth Dragon. These were nothing compared to what was going on here.

    Here they are much worse and her creations are called The Broken Ones. Being kept hooded and studied and poked and dissected (as he can heal without silver or magical items) he was tortured and studied and kept barely alive. He was moved (Hooded or unconscious) from a horrid laboratory to the cells and back and forth for an unknown amount of time.

    Then the last things he remembers of this place was something beyond horror. While in her lab a new creature appeared and it was the most fiendish creature he had ever encountered, something truly out of a nightmare. It stood about 6 feet tall and had hideous mauve skin that glistened with slime. The head resembled an octopus, with white eyes with no pupils and four tentacles around its mouth, a round many-toothed orifice like that of a lamprey. It had three reddish fingers and a thumb on each hand.

    "It communicated with me via telepathy, although its foreign thoughts were accompanied with an evil hiss and the eager lashing of tentacles. It was highly intelligent and dressed in flowing robes, with high, stiff collars, adorned with strange symbols and it impressed upon my mind just one thing, despair! What Markessa and this thing didn’t count on was my psionic ability. The creature started to probe my mind with a stronger mind than I had ever encountered, and I had fought many psionic battles. However, it had no clue that I possessed psionics as well and I surprised it by lashing out with every last ounce of strength I had. Normally with that type of attack I would have killed someone, but it only stunned the creature long enough for me to shift to bear form and smash through the lab door escaping to the well area where I leapt down into the well and into the water. The rest I have told you. I nearly drowned since I was in horrible shape and awoke on the shore."

    Hepla/Markessa looks at Azar and says,"Could Black Markessa be one of those experiments? Crossing a Drow with something else, wow she must have been really crazy to experiment with a Drow."

    Taki offers to smash the drows melon when she returns if the party wishes it.

    "Good idea," says Thorgrim. "Any ideas as to a general plan for storming the keep? We could gather up groups of evil humanoids for a 'protection spell' before a 'special mission,' and then execute them. We could gather them up to face Markessa's 'displeasure' and execute them. We could simply go room to room like a normal adventuring party, slaying all we come across and relying on the confusion created by Markessa's presence to leave our opponents befuddled as they die."

    "The questioning of the slave and Markessa's twin Drow sister could reveal some answers. And then there's Icar not sure how we should approach him. Lots of options here, with Hepla as our 'ace-in-the-hole.'"

    "Azer," says Hepla/Markessa, "Were you ever in this room before? Do you remember anything different about it? And where was her laboratory?"

    "No I have never been in this room before. Directions were a blur while being transported in and out, most of the time unconscious and with a bag on my head, but I think the door north and west of here is the cells where I was kept. Then directly east of that is the laboratory, then south of there is where I escaped to the well."

    While this is happening, Noot does a thorough search of the room. He finds a secret door behind the wardrobe to the south. Pulling a peg swings open a door, and reveals a passage 3' wide and 20' long, ending in a wall. He goes down the passage, looking for traps. He finds none, though there is certainly a secret door on the far wall. He can see the disturbed dust marks, showing that the stone door pivots open somehow. He finds no way to make it move. Taki comes over to help, but he can't budge it. There's nothing to grab hold of. Noot points out how it pivots in the center, and should swing easily if you push on the right side of the wall. It is either locked or barred on the other side or wizard locked. There's nothing he can do.

    Emyn whispers to Hepla, "Stick dead Markessa'a head on the door. That might let us open it."

    "It is time to get ready for battle," says Gotrek. "I feel it in the air at night. Oh, Clangeddin!"

    Hepla/Markessa goes to the door, opens it and summons the guards. To one she says, "have the elvish prisiones or slaves brought to me!" The gnoll hurries off as she then turns her wickedest grin on the other one. You are too valuable to me, STAY here." She then closes the door. She goes inside, and then moves to the mirror and examines it carefully. If it looks to be of very fine quality, and doesn't move or do anything else, she will cast her new spell Magic Mirror with it looking for Black Markessa. If it is just a normal quality mirror she will not cast. She will ask if anyone can help her evaluate the quality of the mirror.

    About that time, there is a knock on the doorway. Isilme casts Detect Magic, and Thorgrim casts Detect Charm. The door to the hallway starts to open. Black Markessa enters, quite hesitantly. Isilme picks up a bit of irritation from her before the ESP spell ends. [See? It lasted JUST long enough for her to return! ] In her hands is a tray with a crystal carafe and a tall crystal goblet. She notes [with interest from the ESP] that the door behind the wardrobe is open, as she moves passed it and sets the tray on the small sitting table. "Shall I poor, Mistress?" she asks.

    Hepla/Markessa, not realising that the ESP has ended, gives her a look like-what else would you do- and says,"While you do that tell me again your very first memory." Hepla/Markessa will insist that Black Markessa take the first sip of wine.

    "Why, of you Mistress," she replies, pouring.

    Gotrek movs a chair over, casually behind Black Markessa. He sits there and hums a little ditty, and his Goreblade is resting blade down on the floor. His hands are on the haft, and the axe currently seems to hold the nonchalant position of a cane. However, Gotrek is ready to fight.

    Thorgrim does not detect any charm on Black Markessa, and Isilme detects magic on her cloak and slippers. In the corridor, Taki takes out his bands, holding them behind his back but ready to use.

    Black Markessa sips the wine, then as Hepla/Markessa goes to drink from it she says, "Is it to your liking, Mistress?"

    Hepla/Markessa takes the glass, looks at it and throws it to the ground where it shatters in a hundred pieces! "You did not wipe the rim after sipping! You will now answer HER questions until I am satisfied." She points to where Isilme is, though Isilme is invisible.

    Black Markessa shrinks back from her. "Mistress, I am sorry," she stammers. She looks where she pointed, "I don't understand, Mistress."

    While Hepla shows her displeasure Isilme casts wizard lock on the door exiting the room.
    She waits a moment (the point when Black Markessa looks at the empty space in confusion) and then dismisses the color cantrip and invisibility spells she had cast upon herself, appearing suddenly in the room as a full Drow with the evilest grin she can muster (copying her mother).

    "What an interesting TOY you have dear Markessa!" She laughs evilly. Testing the edge of her longsword while her eyes bore directly into Black Markessa's "What are you child? How DARE you PLAY at being one of my Drow sisters?" She pauses then says in Drow "Speak the truth or it will cut it out of you - worm!" all while motioning in the silent language of the Drow "What is the name of your house?". (she is utilizing the ESP to see if either form of Drow Language brings up a hint of recognition or jars a memory.) She also casually points the longsword at BM as if to make good on her threat but really so she can detect truth when she speaks.

    Black Markessa collapses in a heap on the floor, sobbing. "Mistress," she cries unconsolably, "how have I failed you?" She kinda crawls forward, wrapping her arms around Hepla Markessa's legs. "Please don't give me to the Drow too. I'll be good, I promise."

    [Isilme detects no Drow thoughts from her, nor any recognition of the silent language. BM is then too engaged in grovelling before HM to pay any attention to her.]

    Hepla/Markessa steps back from Black Markessa's arms and says "You will obey," she says, ripping off her cloak. "Answer questions, then we will see. Do I have to repeat myself?" She looks at Isilme and says,"Find out what she means by 'TOO'. And try not to break my toy; she's mine."

    Taki comes forward to bind her, but there's no need. She's terrified. Isilme removes her slippers, as Elrae japes, ""Can we remove her robes as well? It's been a long time since I've seen a woman bound up and naked." He flashes his most evil grin as Hepla/Markessa suppresses a giggle.

    Isilme's stomach turns at the thought a real drow could ever act this way. She sings a charm person, suspecting this may not be an elf at all. Being an elf herself, when she attempts it, she immediately senses the innate elven resistance to charm. [I don't know that's in the rules anywhere, but I figured she'd probably be able to sense that by now. It works here anyway!]

    Hepla just demands that she tell Isilme all about her items, and you learn they are a Cloak of the Bat and Slippers of Spider Climb. As they are about to further question her, there is a knock on the door.....

    Hepla looks at the party and says, "I don't think Markessa opens her own door. And it is wizard locked."

    "Mistress," says Thorgrim, realizing also that Hepla just gave herself away, "I believe it's the guards returning with the elf slave you wanted to question."

    OK, so Hepla changes form into Black Markessa. This startles Black Markessa a bit, a fact that Isilme quickly picks up on. "Enter," says Hepla/Black Markessa, as Thorgrim pulls the bound Black Markessa into the secret corridor. The door opens, and the gnoll is standing there with a group of elves.

    They are shoved into the room, and Hepla/Black Markessa goes to the door and in her whisper voice says, "The Mistress now wishes to see Ikar as soon as possible. She has found out a terrible betrayal happening in her fortress. She sent me to tell you to get him here with all speed."

    The gnolls salute, then depart. The party quickly learns that the elves was captured some time ago, by raiders in the Suss Forest. There are 5 elf men as well as one pregnant elf woman. They also learn that there are lots of other prisoners too, including three dwarves and some halflings. Most are humans though. From Black Markessa they learns that there are Drow here as well. They buy slaves, particularly elves, and take them away, into the Underdark. The elves are then led into the secret passage, while the party decides what to do.

    Thorgrim whispers to Hepla, in Dwarvish, "You'd better get your questioning done before Icar's arrival. In any case Black Markessa may become aware of our true identities soon. But she's no threat. Icar is the one to worry about, but we have the jump on him."

    Thorgrim then says to Berenn. "I believe Deric may be of use in our negotiations with Icar. You should work out your strategy with Hepla before his arrival so that Deric may be properly instructed as to what to do. Maintain the ruse? Or become our primary negotiator?"

    "This guy's a slaver. His motivation is greed. I don't think that convincing him that we are good people of good will is going to be enough. We need to consider his motivations. And be prepared to Charm or slay him. He may lie and agree to help us while at the same time giving orders for an ambush. Or if it's as Deric reports and he's chafing under the rule of an elf-woman and evil religious zealots, he may be willing to help...for a price."

    Thorgrim looks at Deric, "Would he then just set up his own slaver operation, or seek other employment, I wonder?"

    Deric says that Icar is not a slaver. He detests the slave trade, but there is not much one can do about it. "In the Pomarj," he says, "men tread softly, and with the Slavers it is best to be seen, not heard." He looks around, "dwarves and elves too." He then tells Berenn, "Icar was, is, a great warrior. There are few who best him, despite his blindness."

    "Is it possible to talk Icar into joining our side?" asks Berenn.

    Gotrek looks at Thorgrim. "It sounds like this Icar would be a worthy ally to have at your back, while cutting down all forms of scum. Such friends are hard to come by."

    Gotrek grunts, appeasing the sharpness of Goreblade. "Truth be told, I am not made for this......" He looks around. "And I am getting restless."

    Berenn tries to use his Rod of Health on Black Markessa, but nothing happens. However, while checking her out, he spots very fine scars around the edges of her face, all along the hairline, and though well-healed, his practiced eye spots them. Taki removes his bands, and then ties up Black Markessa, who stays in a huddled, submissive ball anyway. Soon, there's a knock on the door.

    Taki opens the door, and standing before him in the doorway is an older man, dressed in flowing robes with a longsword at his hip. His dull white eyes reveal his blindness.

    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:13 am  
    The Slavers - Part 7

    [The party has infiltrated the fortress of the Slavelord Markessa. Hepla has taken the form of Markessa via a polymorph spell, and have captured Black Markessa, freed the elf prisoners, and summoned the leader of the garrison, Icar, in order to stage a revolt among the guards. Icar has just arrived.]

    Hepla/Markessa will invite him in. The elves are in the closet/corridor, Black Markessa is tied up with her cloak and slippers in the corner and Hepla/Markessa is standing in the center of the room tapping her foot. "Throat wound," she says with a fake raspy voice. "still recovering. Explain what is happening here, why is there treachery in my fortress."

    Icar smiles, looking around the room, though his obviously sightless eyes kinda give everyone (even Taki) the creeps. He then looks at back at Hepla, "So, what happened to the real Markessa?"

    Taki is ready to bash his head in if needed at the first sign of him going for a weapon.

    "I feel the tension in you, Hillman," he says, still looking at Hepla. "Worry not, for I draw steel only when I must."

    "You have nothing to fear from me sir unless you draw that blade on my friends," says Taki. "As you must know by now we are goodly folks and are here to stop the slavers. We have heard you are of like mind and may be of some help to us"

    "He speaks true, Icar," says Deric, stepping forward. "They spared my life when Markessa would have left me to burn with the rest of my squad."

    "She received her just reward," says Emyn. "We mean no harm to you if you mean none to us and feel we might be able to work together to better the situation here."

    "Deric tells us you have no love for the slavers," says Thorgrim. "If this be true, now is your chance to shake free of their yoke."

    "Aye, Icar," says Gotrek. "Your fighting prowess is well known. It would be an honor to fight by your side."

    " I thought we should be direct with you Icar," says Isilme. "No one could have survived in this place or your position "blind" and be caught so easily in a simple deception. All that you have heard is true. Markessa is dead, and she used your men as pawns by leaving them to die in a burning inn. Our cleric Berenn saved your man Deric at a risk to his own life. I brought you Markessa's head as proof of our words, though I am at loss what proof we can now provide as I did not realize you were blind."

    Hepla/Markessa asks the party,"Does he seem the man we have heard him to be? Will he be an asset or a problem?" She drapes the cloak over Black Markessa's face so she cannot see, but not so she can use the cloak to turn into a bat. She then walks right before Ikar and while morphing back to herself says,"You see more without your eyes then most see with their eyes." She then takes his hands and puts them on her face, Hepla's face. "Tell me what you see with your hands." She knows that this puts her neck inches from his powerful hands. "Tell me if we want your trust and help and tell me if you want our trust and help." A tear comes out of her eyes at the thought of this man being forced to live in blindness when he should have been cured years ago. "We may even have the means to restore your eyes."

    "There is none to restore," he says, "though you honor me with your offer. I am honored by your desires," says Icar, "but my blindness is neither curse, nor blessing. It is payment, willfully rendered unto Kelanen. It is His to remove if He wills it. Yes, it's true I have no love for the slavers, but they are powerful, and they have powerful friends. They brought their accursed Earth Dragon cult to these lands, driving out the veneration of the Knight of Swords, to whom I am eternally sworn. I have remained for two reason, to see to the safety of my men, and to see their cult brought down."

    He then releases Hepla. "You are right," he says with a friendly smile, wiping the tear from her cheek. "Eyes are not our only senses. I can feel your strength, as well as your courage. You may be the answer to my years of prayer." He turns around, scanning the room with sightless orbs. "I shall assist you."

    "Sounds like a good plan," says Taki, introducing himself. "Where do we start?"

    "I reckon," says Icar with humorless grin, "We should start with Markessa."

    "Markessa is long dead," replies Isilme. "I have her head as a trophy. Would you recognize the features of her face by touch? We also ended the life of her Orcish Gaurdian and her apprentice."

    "Markessa's dark twin mentioned Drow, if there are Drow here there they would be extremely dangerous to the cause. Did she have any other apprentices or helpers? Are there any other leaders of note here that pose a threat? What was the purpose of Markessa's twin? What type of access/role did she have?"

    Hepla adds, "My name is Hepla and we have finished with Markessa. We can show you her head if you wish. We also hold her thing, we call her Black Markessa but have not yet figured out who or what she is or what we should do with her."

    "Describe her," he says, waiting for Isilme to do so. Once she finishes, he shakes his head.

    "Markessa has conducted many experiments," he says, "and the one you call Black Markessa, she is but one. Though an elf, Markessa is obsessed with eternal life, even that beyond the extended lives of her kind. Unable to yet master arcane arts to achieve this goal, in her cruelty and narcissism, she has used the knowledge of the lost Chirugeons of Malaqugot to alter others, to make them look like her. Then her fiendish servant Dd'stlzsth warped their minds, making them actually believe they were Markessa."

    He points to Black Markessa, "Her real name is Telaril," he says sadly. "She was a mage from the north to whom Markessa had taken a liking. She also turned her skin black and dyed her hair, that she may act as her intermediary with the Drow. They seemed...amused by this."

    "So Markessa still lives, then?" asks Thorgrim.

    "Oh yes," he says. "I just "saw" her yesterday," he adds. Isilme takes out the head from the bag, and Icar feels the face, running his hands over the tattoos on her face. You can tell he can feel them somehow.

    "This was Tyshali," he says sadly. "She was the most successful of Markessa's... experiments, the most like her." He places the head reverently back in the bag, wrapping it gently. "She did not deserve this fate."

    "That is regrettable," says Thorgrim, "though we may only act on what we know." To the party, he says, "Sounds like Icar is the man to identify the real Markessa when the time comes." Then, to Icar, "Do you know where Markessa has gone or what she is up to at the moment?"

    "Yes, Icar, tell us what you know," asks Gotrek. "Any further information would surely help us. I am Gotrek, by the way."

    Isilme senses nothing from Icar, nor does her ESP pick up anything but truth and hope. She also starts to pick up some disturbing thoughts from BM, evil thoughts. As she checks to insure BM's gag and bindings are secure, Isilme can sense that she now knows Hepla is NOT Markessa, and her subservient nature has disappeared. She is now full of anger and hatred.

    "I feel the evil trying to secure a hold on her mind," says Isilme. "She plots against us even now. Sometimes the only way to save a dark elf from such evil is to set their good spirit free evil's control. Her true self deserves a better fate than such a sad existence. I think we she should give her the mercy of death and burn her corpse that no evil spirit will return to haunt her body."

    "Aye, Isilme," says Gotrek. "And you should deliver the blow."

    Isilme nods, casts strength on herself and quickly snaps Black Markessa's neck, ending her life. "May Corellon Larethian grant you peace for all the suffering you have endured at the hands of evil in this life."

    She wipes away a few tears and then turns away from the party for a moment to regain composure.

    "Can we arm the new elves so that they may help?" asks Taki breaking the awkward silence that settled over everyone.

    "Even if they want to," says Thorgrim, turning away, "they'll be more hindrance than help, I believe. Better to ship them off to the coast to meet up with Urgal."

    Azaer frowns and stands up in the back of the room locking eyes with Isilme. "Why did you do that?" Looking at the rest of the group he says, "You don't condone that kind of garbage do you? Killing defenseless people? Regardless of what you thought or sensed, the elf was obviously not a danger being bound and helpless."

    "Er...I suppose it depends," says Thorgrim. "Although, unlike Lord Sturm, you're right that she didn't seem like much of a threat."

    Isilme turns back, wiping away an errant tear and then locks gazes with Azaer. "You fainted at the mere sight of her. This alone indicates the tortures she has suffered. No elf deserves to live a "life" bound so helplessly to such great evil. Your mind was strong enough to break free, hers was not. With much sadness did I snuff the candle of her life that she could be free of this evil and rest in peace. It is my charge to make these decisions for the good of elfdom as a bladesinger. Heavy is my heart that such judgments must be made. There will be more death and hard decisions before this night is over, if you don't have the stomach perhaps you should leave. Though I hope you will stay, I sense your heart is in the right place even if your understanding is limited."

    Icar seems saddened, but he puts a hand on Azaer's shoulder. "I understand your pain, all the more so for I knew both of these women before Markessa's experiments." He nods towards Isilme, "To be virtuous, you must do what is right, simply because it IS right, and only you and your God can truly judge what is in your heart." He then releases Azaer, looking him in the eyes, as if his sightless orbs could see directly to the man's soul. "For us, the only true measure of our character is the joy or pain we feel in performing good or evil actions."

    Azaer cools down but does put out a word or two before moving on, "I am not used to the barbarism of killing a defenseless creature, regardless of who it was, so it startled me a bit. I have seen the results of races that do that in the past, but mostly they were kobolds and goblins and such, unintelligent deviants. I didn't expect it of our own group. Also, I didn't "faint" with fear when I saw Markessa's double. A flood of memories assaulted me and overpowered my mind. I don't fear her."

    After a short pause, the party then has a long Q&A with Icar. They learn that all the humans answer to him, although only about half of them are truly loyal to him. Those were, and are, followers of Kelanen, and they would certainly long for a chance to strike back. There is little to be accomplished here in the Pomarj for them, other than to survive. He would lead them to a better place. Berenn offers them a place back home, and Icar thanks Berenn for the offer to go North.

    "It would be a good start," he says. "First, there are a few things that must be accomplished. You must deal with Markessa, her illithid ally, and the drow. All are most dangerous foes, far surpassing any others you've faced."

    "Is Markessa here in the fort?" asks Thorgrim, trying to forget Isilme's deadly deed.

    "Yes, she is," says Icar. "I do not believe she is in her quarters, so she is likely in her laboratory."

    " And what of this illithid?" asks Emyn. "I have heard they are most dangerous enemies."

    "Really?" replies Elrae with a wry smile. "More dangerous than Iuz and Zuggtomy?"

    "Well..." says Thorgrim. "We didn't actually fight either of them, so yeah, totally!"

    "Tales have it that mindflayers are squishy if you can get past their powerful mental abilities," says Elrae. "Since it seems that most of our party can be charmed at the drop of a hat, we'll end up as slaves to our calamari overlord in no time."

    "As far as the Mind Flayer goes," says Azaer, "if we can surprise it, I can put it immediately on the defensive hopefully with psionic attacks of my own. To defend against them it will have to put up mental defenses and we will have a mental battle that usually takes awhile. I am not saying I would win the battle, but it could by the group time to get to the Flayer itself. I just have to have it within sight."

    Gotrek looks at the far wall, wondering if this is where the hordes of heaped bodies slain in the name of Clangeddin will finally end. Is this where he meets his glorious doom? He takes a sip of gutshaker. And laughs out loud. He has much to do yet, before he takes his final breath!

    His armor(and balls) were frigid from all of these drow around. And with his plate armor, he could not even give his nuts a comfort scratch. The Battle Rager takes a deep breath, veins in his neck and forehead bulging. His body seems to..swell, though perhaps that is just a misperception.

    Gotrek looks around at his brothers and sisters, bonded together by blood. And smiles. Gotrek goes into the hallway, with Goreblade held in his hands. Perhaps after this adventure, these vile drow will curse him with another name: DeathDealer. A low growl emitts from him. One bloodshot brown eye glares out intensely. He stops, and rips off his eye patch. A golden eye twinkles in the low light, as if in anticipation of the blood and chaos ahead.

    He turns to Noot. "Jump ahead, laddie. I will be right behind ye." Then to Isilme he adds, "Isilme, what is your plan?"

    "If Markessa is nearby," replies Isilme, "then I don't know how long any ruse will work. Perhaps we can leave the elves here or have them help if our new friend has access to weapons to arm them? Or have them taken underground where we came in and tell them how to exit? Perhaps we can also call forth the other few demi-humans as well? Calling all human slaves would attract way too much attention. At the very least when the mercenaries leave everyone can head back with them so that problem is solved."

    Turning to Icar, she adds, "I think we should use our new friend to quickly get us in key positions, our fighters could be placed anywhere near key leaders. Then we hit everyone and slaughter. The Drow are going to be to tough no matter what we do."

    "Least we have one of our own," says Hepla with a smile.

    "You think you have your own drow," replies Isilme with a sardonic smile. "and I might at least equal one, but it there are more...I might as well just be an elf colored with black ink having been so long from the underdark."

    She looks around the party, shaking her head with a resigned look. "We can defeat Markessa. Maybe we can defeat this mind-flayer. But I do not think we can defeat a group of dark elves. Some of us will surely die."

    Everyone stands quiet for a bit, as the certainly of Isilme's comments sink in. Then Emyn steps forward. "I fear nothing. My sword will rain bloody justice upon their heads."

    "I'll stand by ye," says Gotrek, grimly.

    "As will I," adds Thorgrim, putting a hand on Gotrek's shoulder.

    "Should I just pass out now?" asks Noot. Everyone looks at him, and the bursts out in laughter.

    After some more planning, the group decides to go to Markessa's laboratory while Icar goes with Deric to get the rest of the men ready. When they hear the signal (the party starting a fight somewhere) they will raise the men and attack the rest of Markessa's garrison, especially the humanoids.

    She hands Gotrek the Phase Spider Potion and says " Rager, when you see the Drow drink this and begin your not hesitate, and do not underestimate the threat they present. If there is a female present she will be the leader, and the strongest."

    Before they go, Isilme drinks her Clairvoyance potion. She sees a chamber beyond a secret door (labeled 35 on the map). This room is a luxurious bed chamber, richly outfitted with costly furniture, expensive tapestries, and brightly colored carpets. There is a curtained alcove in the southwestern corner of this room, draped with white velvet. There is a canopied bed, a blanket chest at the foot of the bed, a wardrobe, two ornate chairs, and three small tables, one holding a basin and pitcher for washing. There is also a small fireplace. The fireplace is burning brightly, illuminating the entire room. This must be Markessa's room.

    She also sees another room (Room 34) as she scans around. This room contains shelves filled with alchemical and surgical equipment and dozens of closed bins. On the shelves you see a lot of materials for spell research and the like. Most of the baskets are filled with straw, to protect the contents, and you see some glass containers inside one. A pentagram is painted on the floor of the room in red. White candles stand in candleholders at each of its five points; they are unlit. In the center of the pentagram rests a gold amulet. This seems like it must be Markessa's magical study.

    Finally, her ability reveals a third chamber (Room 31) This room appears to be a fighter's practice room, with weapons hung on teh wall, a quintain and practice dummies of straw. There is a rack of six throwing knives on the wall, two wooden shields, two polearms with wooden heads, and a goose down mattress on the floor. Icar lets you know that this is Devon's room, an elven warrior of some skill. Markessa is never without him.

    There doesn't seem to be anyone in those rooms. The secret door on the west wall, going towards the warrior's chamber [31] is behind the full-length mirror. You find a small worn spot next to the mirror, and if you push it in, the mirror slides to the side, revealing the way. Noot checks for traps and finds none.

    There is some more debate, but Berenn doesn't want to split up the group. "We're almost done checking these rooms, so let's just finish," he says.

    So Isilme, Noot, and Emyn move into the warrior's room. It doesn't seem to be a bedroom, despite the bedroll on the ground. With the clairvoyance still working, Isilme can look beyond areas (up to 30' distance). So she can see more....

    [ooc: 32. This room is simple and austere. There is a cot, a table with food and a flask on it, and a stool. A footlocker sits at the foot of the cot.

    33. This room is littered with old bones and a plank of wood lies just in from the door, propped up against it. In one corner of the room is a pile of furs, upon which sleeps a minotaur.]

    Elrae draws Snowfang, and uses its detect magic ability. There's nothing else magical in Black Markessa's room. He then follows the others, scanning for magic in all the secret rooms, while everyone else is in room 30 waiting.

    [OOC: It was from room 31 that Isilme could see into those other rooms, but the party is still in 31. Noot checks out the door leading north from 31, and it is neither locked nor trapped. Elrae detects no magic in 31.]

    "Noot," asks Isilme. "Can you sneak in and slit the minotaur's throat? He appears to be sleeping. I can have my blade sing the emotion of helplessness in his mind."

    Noot rolls his eyes, "A minotaur?"

    "Nobody but her guardians seems to know about this secret area," says Isilme. "It makes a great base of operations and safe place to leave the slaves. Hell, if we set up it up right we can jump Markessa back here alone (with maybe the one bodyguard) if we had to. And don't worry about the minotaur; I'll be right behind you."

    They head down the hallway then, to the minotaur's room. Noot finds that the door is not locked, but the wood plank leaning against the door keeps him from being able to open it without the plank falling and probably waking the minotaur.

    Isilme is able to levitate the plank as Noot opens the door. Then she sets it carefully down. She then levitates Noot, who then floats slowly across the room, barely propelling himself along the floor. When he gets to the minotaur, he stabs it in the heart with his short sword, killing it instantly. [I gave them credit for a decent plan. Can't be a hardass DM all the time! Actually, I'm a rather mild DM most of the time.]

    After bypassing magical locks and traps, the party entered room 34, Markessa's Spell Room.

    [OOC: "Room 34: Isilme can also see this, as I'm assuming that she walks around and checks out the various areas. This room contains shelves filled with alchemical and surgical equipment and dozens of closed bins. On the shelves you see a lot of materials for spell research and the like. Most of the baskets are filled with straw, to protect the contents, and you see some glass containers inside one. A pentagram is painted on the floor of the room in red. White candles stand in candleholders at each of its five points; they are unlit. In the center of the pentagram rests a gold amulet. This seems like it must be Markessa's magical study."]

    Noot doesn't find any traps, but Elrae detects magic with Snowfang. He senses magic coming from some of the glass bottles in the boxes, as well as from a handful of scrolls on a shelf. There is also a TON of other useful wizard stuff in here, though nothing magical. Oh, and the amulet in the center of the pentagram is magical as well!

    Gold Amulet

    Isilme warns everyone to stay away from the pentagram. Having seen these among the Drow in the underdark, she warns very bad things like possession can happen. She asks Hepla and Elrae to collect the items that are magic like the scrolls and bottles and carefully dump them in a sack (I am sure Hepla will grab some choice interesting herbs as well).

    "Emyn," she says, "you can stand guard and be prepared if a demon pops in!" She smiles as his mouth drops open.

    While Noot continues searching, Isilme levitates the amulet out of the pentagram into her pouch for later identification. She then destroys the pentagram.

    Hepla spots explosive runes on two of the scrolls. Elrae gathers up all the potions. They are labeled, in elvish. Noot empties out the stuff in the box and the checks the bottom for traps. Not finding any, he opens a false bottom. Inside he finds what seems to be a spellbook. He doesn't touch it, but just lets you guys know.

    After gathering things up, they head to Markessa's bedroom. This room is a luxurious bed chamber, richly outfitted with costly furniture, expensive tapestries, and brightly colored carpets. There is a curtained alcove in the southwestern corner of this room, draped with white velvet. There is a canopied bed, a blanket chest at the foot of the bed, a wardrobe, two ornate chairs, and three small tables, one holding a basin and pitcher for washing. There is also a small fireplace. The fireplace is burning brightly, illuminating the entire room.

    There is a powder puff on her dresser which radiates magic from the end. There is also a wand lying on the table next to it. The mirror also radiates magic. And the log in the fireplace is magical.

    Behind a hanging curtain Noot finds a kind of wall-safe. Also, Hepla doesn't see anything strange about the mirror. It's about 3' tall and 2' wide, oval, ringed in gold leaf, and obviously very valuable.

    Dispel Magic doesn't work on the safe, and the party is afraid of setting off magical traps, so Thorgrim casts Soften Earth and Stone on the wall around the safe. Then Taki and Gotrek can take it out. The safe is about 2' wide, and 1' tall and deep. You also see a cavity behind the safe, about another 1' cubic area, and resting in it are 5 large leather-bound books. They are all labeled in elvish along the spines. These are Markessa's REAL spellbooks!

    They everything in Thorgrim's portable hole for now, and while they are doing that, Hepla casts Read Magic. Writing appears along the edge of the mirror, hidden in the design. She reads it aloud, and when she speaks the words, "Adel Fein na Toure" the mirror instantly becomes cloudy, with a rainbow of colors swirling around. Gradually it becomes clear, and you can see a room.

    It is a large room, going beyond your sight from whatever vantage point this is. It has a high, vaulted ceiling and you see a balcony on the far wall. There are several goblins up on the balcony. This chamber appears to be a large workroom for an alchemist or a physician as there are many beakers, flasks, and such on the various tables, and bookshelves and benches about the room. You can't see all the way to the left and right, but what really catches your eye is what your vision is centered upon. In the center of the room are two tables, upon one of which is a strange caricature of a man. He is strapped down, but you can see that his long thin frame is deformed. His mouth is strangely deformed, though it's hard to tell exactly how, and the arm closest to you is not that of a man. Rather, it is a long strong arm ending in a huge claw. Isilme recognizes it as the claw of a hook horror. It emits a brutal croaking sound, as an elf woman, standing with her back to you, slowly slices into it with an obsidian knife. Opposite her, you see a creature seemingly out of nightmares, with a strange octopus head, a mind flayer.

    "Good to know what we're up against," says Thorgrim.

    "It appears to be a scrying mirror," says Hepla. "Maybe a mirror like we had found before. If we can control it, we can do a surprise attack on Markessa and her friends. But we must be careful; scrying can be detected.", she says. She touches the mirror and finds they cannot go through it like Isilme's mirror, and then quickly ends her scrying

    Isilme says, "They are preoccupied, but let's not risk them sensing they are being watched. We now know who we face in the lab, let's go get them!"

    Taki goes over by Gotrek and says, "We are going to have to hit these folks fast and hard to do any good, you go low and I will go high my friend."

    Gotrek grunts, then takes out a couple of potions and gets ready for a fight. "Bring 'em on, I'd prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around."

    The party takes everything, splitting up some magic that they are able to identify, then head to the lab to deal with Markessa. Markessa MUST pay for her sickening crimes against the elves," says Isilme. "Bind her if you wish, but she WILL die!"

    [OOC: After some off-thread brainstorming by the players, they decide on a course of action and head off to fight Markessa. Icar and Deric go to raise the garrison. Everything is prepared for the big fight....]
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:58 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 8

    After a bit of off-thread discussion and planning the party moves off for the confrontation with the Slavelord Markessa.....

    OK, you leave Markessa's rooms, and Hepla/Markessa sends the gnolls away while you go see the goblins. A quick lie is all it takes to send them off on their worgs, and the goblins take off on a scouting mission outside. That opens the way for you to move north, towards the lab. You head into the corridor, and short of the doors you pause to take care of all the details.

    Berenn casts Silence 15' radius on the hallway this side of the double-doors, to block Gotrek's singing. He is also ready to cast another on Markessa once you enter the lab.

    Gotrek takes the Dust of Disappearance and uses it. There was only one dose, but he's invisible now.

    Isilme has cast Strength, Invisibility, Fly, Detect Invisibility, Item on the bed, Protection from Evil. Her plan is to fly to the ceiling and drop the "bed" on them, maybe then close with Markessa.

    Thorgrim has cast pre-fight Pro-evil upon Hepla and himself, as well as Bless. He is planning to use Battle Cry once the bed falls.

    Taki is going to be holding his Iron Bands, maul in his other hand? He'll throw the bands, then wade in with his maul.

    Noot has his Wand of Magic Missiles and +3 dagger, while his Rod of Smiting is ready at his belt.

    Azaer has in place a Tower of Iron Will. He then will use ID Insinuation till he breaks through followed by Invincible Foes.

    Emyn will use his Monster Summoning III ability, then stay close to Hepla and Isilme, protecting them.

    Elrae casts Haste before you enter, then uses Sweetness, his Crossbow of Speed.

    So, everyone else can stay in the corridor, with just Hepla, still polymorphed as Black Markessa, and the invisible Isilme entering the room. Isilme will fly up above the mind flayer, while Hepla/BM tells a tale of the drow attacking from the underdark. While they are distracted, Isilme will drop the Itemized 4-post bed on Markessa!


    Here's the opening screenshot from the battle. It's drawn with Maptools. Yeah, I'm not the best mapmaker. :(


    Hepla opens the double doors, and you see the rest of the room. [see the map, but I pretty much described it already] There is a balcony running around the edge of the main room, overlooking the floor, and on it are a bunch of goblins. Also, there are two gnolls at the head of the stairs. Standing right in front of you is an elven warrior. His face is twisted in a scarred way due to injury. You can tell that his injuries have been repaired, though through surgery, not magic. Still, he is an evil-looking guy with a smile that is more a sneer. He basically bars the way into the room.

    Beyond him you see Markessa and the mind flayer working on the "man" on the table. The both turn in your direction.

    Hepla/Black Markessa, since she is hastened, will try not to sound like a chipmonk when she says her line. "Mistrress, the drow are attacking!" She then turns subservient, looking down. "I...just thought you should know." Then she falls to the floor and has her spell ready for after the bed crashes down.

    The elf warrior looks down at Hepla/Black Markessa with a contemptuous stare, but he keeps his hand on the sword at his hip. Markessa turns, a frown crossing her features at the interruption. She sees Hepla/Black Markessa and opens her mouth to speak, pointing at her with a bloody scalpel when Hepla speaks. Anger flashes across Markessa's face, as she stops, confused for a moment.

    "What?" she says, as Hepla/Black Markessa drops to the floor. "Oh stop your worthless prostrations!" She points the scalpel again, "Now speak, and be quick about it!"

    Isilme flies in, settling right over the Mind Flayer. She says the command word, and Markessa's large four-post bed appears in mid-air over the illithid, slamming down on top of it with a huge crash! HEpla then lets loose with her lightning bolt, which slams Jevon to the ground [11] and rips passed Markessa, who dodges to the side, taking only a glancing shock [11].

    DM OOC: And THAT's your surprise round!

    Markessa swears something in elvish that even Isilme didn't know when the bed comes down. She doesn't have time to react, however, before a lightning bolt flies from Hepla/BM's outstretched hand, blasting into the elf warrior and throwing him back to the ground [11] while also shooting passed Markessa all the way across the room. Markessa ducked behind the table just in time to seemingly avoid the blast [taking 11], but Isilme drops down right on top of her, slashing at her with Maerthorlear. When Isilme appears, Markessa's mouth drops open and her eyes widen in fear.

    Markessa starts to say something, but no words come out as the area around her and Isilme is blanketed in silence thanks to Berenn's quick casting from beyond the doors.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek rushes into the room. As he passes out of the silence spell, everyone can hear the song of the battlerager, the clanging of metal, and thundering of armored feet on the floor. However, they don't see the invisible dwarf.

    Gotrek attacks the elf but misses as he leaps away, coming to his feet a few yards away.

    Taki moves up, going around Hepla, and attacks the elf.

    Thorgrim moves through his early silence spell, moves into the room, and casts his Battle Cry. [BTW, Tempus was right. God how it hurts to say that! Battle Cry is too powerful. It didn't seem to bad when Thorgrim used to use it at 1st level, but at 6th, it's very tough. So, I've changed it to a third level spell. Yeah, mid-game changes suck, but it's better than eliminating the spell!] So, he casts it and stuns most of the goblins in the room!

    Elrae moves up behind Hepla/Black Markessa and fires his crossbow, hitting the stunned goblin on the balcony in the far right corner, above the barrels. He puts the bolt right thorugh him, and the goblin falls backwards dead.

    Hepla, keeeping an eye on Markessa in case she tries to cast a spell, casts invisibility on herself, if it looks like Markessa can't get a spell off this turn since she is covered with an angy Isilme. She also crawls toward the bed.

    Emyn moves into the corridor and casts MS3. Appearing out of thin air on top of the broken bed are two huge white wolves, snarling and hissing.

    Azaer moves out into the hallway, then frowns when he cannot see the mind flayer. [He cannot do any psionic combat, as he needs to see his foe and doesn't know where it is!]

    Noot, with his wand out, sneaks up the hallway but stays back, under the walkway. He sneaks up to the room, and then starts to move along the right side. He is nearly grabbed by a huge bear-like thing with a monstrous beak. He barely rolls out of the way in time, though the thing was reaching through some strong bars behind him. "Um, guys, watch out for this thing!" he says, watching it warily.

    Most of the goblins don't get an attack because they're stunned by Thorgrim's battlecry! The gnolls are not, and they fire their bows. Four shots streak at Thorgrim. All miss, and the one gnoll trips, nearly dropping its weapon.

    Isilme swings at Markessa but misses, and the Slavelord swears at Isilme as she appeared above her. [Though of course it's a silent curse due to the silence spell!] She draws a shortsword from her hip, works her way to the side and gives Isilme a slash across her cheek [6]. As the blood flows down from the wound, Markessa smiles.

    The scarred elf draws his blade and attacks with his broadsword, swinging wildly at Gotrek. The clang reveals the dwarf's presence, but there's no telling what damage he did, if any [Raging Battlerager!] He also hit Taki with a strong blow [14], knocking the big man back. He then steps back 5' in-between the two tables.

    Also, a loud grating sounds behind you. Noot continues into the corner [note, you are shown beneath the goblin because you are under the overhanging balcony.] There are TWO portcullises, to either side of the double-doors, and each are slowly raising.

    Taki, who was knocked back sees this and can quickly react. He turns, blocking the great beast's way and guarding the party's softer targets.

    [Next round]

    Isilme swings at Markessa, but misses. She's amazed at the elf's speed and agility! Markessa misses Isilme, as she takes a further step backwards.

    Suddenly the bed flies up from the floor, sending both wolves leaping away as it flips up, turns over, and lands with a heavy thud in front of Thorgrim. One wolf ends up on the balcony, while the other lands next to Thorgrim.

    Hepla casts invisibility and crawls towards the first bed/table. Meanwhile Thorgrim has to leap up on the bed, he falls, rolls, and comes back to his feet on the far side of the bed. He can see the illithid turn and look at him, and while blood oozes out of a limp tentacle; yet, Thorgrim has a grim foreboding.

    Elrae fires a crossbow bolt at Jevon (that's the elf bodyguard), but it just misses. Noot rumages around the lab shelves, looking for something useful, but he can't read elvish, and all the labels, at least for things that ARE labeled, are in elvish.

    Jevon moves up to attack Taki, and is hit unsuspectingly by the invisible Gotrek [20], who knocks the elf backwards and into a desk. He shakes his head, wondering what happened, when Gotrek is on him again, missing, but chopping a big chunk out of the desk.

    Thorgrim is hit by a goblin arrow [5], while another misses him. Only one gnoll fires this turn, as the other still fumbles with its bow. It shoots at Isilme, but misses.

    The wolf on the balcony leaps on a goblin, taking it down, while the other attacks the owlbear. [those UNDER the balcony, have the blue prone outlines]

    The two owlbears attack, one on Taki and the other the wolf. Taki takes a peck from the thing's massive beak [5], while the wolf is grabbed by both claws, beaked, and torn to shreds! The owlbear then starts to enter the room.

    Berenn rushes up at just that moment, turns, and attacks the owlbear in the flank, missing it. Emyn comes up the hallway too, and he too veers to the right, blocking the way between the owlbear and Hepla. He moves up to the owlbear and attacks, hitting it [20] a wicked blow across the body.

    Taki steps back and throws his bands at Jevon, who ducks as they slam into the goblin next to him, wrapping it up tightly! With a curse, Taki readies his maul and turns to the owlbear.

    Azaer was about to contact Jevon's mind when he saw the bed fly away. He cannot see the mind flayer, though it's clearly there on the floor. As the mind flayer rises, Elrae fires his second bolt at it but misses. Azaer reaches out with his mind, finds the strange mind of the mind flayer, which is INSTANTLY guarded by a nearly instinctual defense, and strikes out with an ID Insinuation. The Mind Flayer's defense is Mind Blank (gives the ID Insinuation a -3), but Azaer pushes through the first layer of the surprised illithid's defenses! He gains his first tangent. [This is the first time I've EVER actually DMed 2nd ed psionics!]

    The mind flayer reels under the unwanted contact and attempts to bar its mind, but Azaer's second thrust also succeeds, gaining him his second tangent!

    Isilme steps up, attacking Markessa again but missing. Markessa attacks her back, slicing her in the leg [3], grinning evilly. Islme then hits her across the chest [7], using the speed of the haste spell. The surprised Markessa then slices Isilme back, her sword darting back out with insane speed, but missing.

    Taki swings his maul at the owlbear, smashing it in the leg [25]. He hears the bones crunch, the owlbear collapses, roaring in pain.

    [Next Round]

    Markessa swings at Isilme, slashing her across the arm [8]. [Damn she rolls well!] She then backs up another 5', and you see a wide evil grin cross her face.

    Thorgrim leaps down from the bed, slamming his pick into the mind flayer [11] and knocking it back to the ground!

    The Mind Flayer focuses it's creepy alien eyes on Thogrim, and a blast of mental power hammers the dour dwarf. He drops his pick, puts both hands to his head, and screams a bloodcurdling scream. He takes a step back, then drops to the ground where he sits, staring blankly ahead. Above and behind him, you see the Dire Wolf and the goblin slump to the ground as well.

    Elrae's shot is blocked, so he waits....

    Isilme is a swirl of gold skinned movement as she rolls, dodges, and moves her sword to parry markessa's attacks with incredible speed. Suddenly her eyes seem to almost glow with renewed hope at defeating this powerful foe, her steps becoming quicker, her parrry more sure as she surges forward with renewed spirit, keeping pace with Markessa. [Isilme fights defensive this round having the +2 bonus of her sword applied to defense (add another -2 to AC). She has the sword sing the emotion of hope in her mind. Hope: The effect of hope is to raise morale, saving throw rolls, attack rolls, and damage caused by +2.] She moves up and to the right, trying to angle around behind Markessa to keep her from continuing to back up. She quickly realizes why Markessa smiled; they have moved out of the silence spell!

    Hepla crawls under the table in front of her, but she cannot see Markessa anymore. The second table has a bunch of boxes under it. She thus fires her Magic Missiles at the gnoll on the balcony, blasting it back down the stairs.

    Emyn attacks the owlbear, but slips and falls to the ground.

    Jevon swings at Gotrek, but misses badly. Gotrek then slashes him across his face [14]. The poor elf is no match for the invisible, raging dwarf!

    Seeing both owlbears are in trouble, Berenn will disengage and attack Markessa. He simply ignores the owlbears, turns, and rushes to help Isilme. The owlbear takes a swipe at him but misses as Berenn weaves his way across the room. Seeing what happened to Thorgrim, he changes his mind, comes up behind the prone mind flayer, and slashes at it's head with his flame tongue, Bonefire, hitting for [10]. The thing screams in a strange eerie voice that seems also to bite right into your minds!

    Berenn is then hit by an arrow for [4] from the second (right-hand) gnoll.

    Noot looks for a shot with his Wand of Magic Missiles. Though he would rather shoot at the squid, his shot is blocked and Emyn looks to be in trouble. He fires the wand at the owlbear, and two blue missiles flying out of the wand hit it for [5].

    The two goblins that released the owlbears move back to the corners to check their comrades which all start to come out of their stunned state.

    Azaer steps back into the hallway to get away from the owlbear, but continues his assault on the mind flayer. He fails to get any more tangents. He also sets up his Tower of Iron Will.

    Taki will swat the owlbear in front of him again then move to the next nearest "hard" target. He misses, and the owlbear attacks back. He takes a claw hit [3], but manages to evade the second claw (and the things viscious hug) but is hit by the beak again [9].

    Elrae fires his crossbow, hitting the gnoll at the far right [7].

    Markessa takes another two swings at Isilme, hitting her once [6].

    The other owlbear attacks Emyn, hitting him with one claw [5] and with its beak [5]. Again, you just manage to avoid being grasped by both claws. Emyn gets his extra attack, and slays the owlbear, hitting it while prone! Taki also takes his extra attack, slaying HIS owlbear!

    The surprised Jevon hits Gotrek, who then hits him back, twice! [17] and [16], knocking him back over the desk where he falls in a heap on the floor! [Damn, hasted, raging Gotrek is nasty!]

    [Next Round]

    Noot points the wand at Markessa, firing two magic missiles across the room into her. They both slam into her [8], startling her. She throws a glance his way, but doesn't seem to notice him beyond the bed and under the balcony. Plus, she's a bit busy with Isilme, to whom she turns her full attention. She moves to the north a bit again, slashing at Isilme but missing.

    Azaer continues his assault on the mind flayer, which for some reason has switched to Intellect Fortress. He fails with the first assault, but on his second attack gains his third tangent. The mind flayer's mind is open!

    The mind flayer stands up and turns towards Berenn, sending another Psionic Blast his way. Berenn feels the mental assault, but through sheer force of will fights it off. He then swings at the Mind Flayer, but misses.

    Isilme comes at Markessa with renewed fury, raining down blows and pushing forward, her face of tribal tattoos, patterned after the first Markessa elf she killed at the inn, twisted into a strange grimace of fury. She uses her increased speed to get around Markessa, cutting off her movements to the north, and hits her with a slash from Maerthorlear. [7] Isilme is coming at markessa all out, and Markessa sees this. She just smiles.

    Meanwhile Emyn gets up, looks around for Hepla who he sees under the table, and rushes over to make sure she's ok. She kinda just nods, so Emyn leaps up onto the bed, continues across it, and jumps down the other side, flanking the mind flayer between himself and Berenn.

    Hepla says, "Stupid boxes," and pushes them out of the way so she can see. She can see Markessa battling Isilme, and the legs of Berenn, the mind flayer, and Emyn.

    Taki rushes towards Markessa, but runs into the invisible Gotrek and gets knocked to the ground. [Hm. Gotrek failed his INT save!] As Taki is getting up, he is hit by Gotrek [16] who mistakes Taki for a foe! [The downside of a Raging Battlerager!] Taki runs towards Markessa, and Gotrek takes a swing at him as he runs away. Fortunately, he misses.

    Elrae fires his crossbow, killing the gnoll on the right.

    The goblins all fire at Thorgrim, and he take 4 arrows [16], knocking him over. [the bad side of Battle Cry!]

    Markessa attacks Isilme again, missing. Isilme attacks back, hitting her again [13]. Then Markessa misses again.

    Berenn takes another swing at the mind flayer, hitting it [12].

    Elrae fires his second shot at the mind flayer, even though it's in melee with Berenn and Emyn, but misses everyone.

    [Next Round]

    Elrae puts away his crossbow and fire magic missiles at the mind flayer, but they just fizzle when they hit it.

    Noot fires his magic missiles at it as well, but is shocked when they go right through it. Berenn and Emyn swing at it, but their blades pass right through it as it simply fades from view. Even Azaer is unable to understand what just happened, as his contact with the alien mind is suddenly snapped.

    Meanwhile, Hepla crawls around to Thorgrim. He is laying on floor, drooling, as she pulls him over and tries to get him to drink the potion of healing. She sees the wounds close up, as she pulls out the arrows, and she takes care of them, but he still just looks around blankly.

    Isilme continues to attack Markessa with unhesitating fury. (blade set to full attack) Any movements she makes will be to block markessa and push her back into the silence area and towards the party. "I will cut that smile from your face as due justice for all the torment you have visited upon our people" she says as she attacks, Maerthorlaer barely missing.

    Markessa just smiles and says a few quick words of power. Isilme recognizes them instantly as a Dimension Door, but it happens too fast for her to react and Markessa is simply gone!

    "No!!!" cries Isilme, swinging at the air.

    Two goblins fire at Isilme, both missing. Two fire at Hepla, hitting her once [5]. The other four all fire at Taki, hitting him once [3].

    Isilme continues to scream in rage that Markessa got away, and doesn't even notice when two more arrows come flying by her. The goblins all continue to fire, and only Hepla is hit [6] again.

    Suddenly Gotrek attacks Taki from behind, hitting him square in the back with his axe [15] and knocking Taki to the ground. Taki rolls away as Gotrek takes another swing, his axe taking up a large chip of tile from the floor. You couldn't even hear him coming, as he was running through the silence area!

    Finally, one goblin moved up behind Isilme, taking a swing at her back but missing. She spins around and in a rage takes off the goblin's head with one clean slash of Maerthorlaer. As Isilme turns back, she spots Markessa standing on the balcony almost directly above Azaer.

    [Next Round]

    Hah! I stumbled across another map! So, in this one you can see the current situation. Elrae and Azaer are the two at the bottom of the map, left to right in the doorway. They are actually below the balcony, but the two-dimensional rendering makes it hard to do. Noot is now at the right, and he too is under the balcony :( In the center of the room you see Thorgrim, with Emyn and Hepla each to one side trying to help him. They can't figure out what's wrong, though he has basically been feebleminded. Berenn is in the center of the room, with Taki north of him and Isilme still north of Taki. All the goblins around the balcony are stunned, as is the remaining wolf. Finally, Markessa stands atop the balcony to the south, virtually right above Elrae and Azaer. The color is from the spell Markessa is about to use, Ice Storm!
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:58 am  
    The Slavers - Part 9

    [Markessa has Dimension Doored to safety, but has not retreated. She stands atop the balcony, now behind all the rest of the party.]

    Isilme yells "Markessa is above the door we came in!" [Free action]

    Elrae cast sleep at the humanoids to his left. "Damn Squidward got away," he mumbles. He casts the spell, and those in the room see the three goblins in the corner fall asleep.

    Azaer attempts to reach out and contact Markessa's mind, now that he knows where she is, but fails.

    Those in the room look up and catch a quick glimpse, just as Markessa points a wand. A silvery beam shoots forth straight towards Taki, and suddenly erupts in a blinding sleet storm! Nearly the entire room is covered, and nobody can see anything. You have to close your eyes against the biting sleet, and all vision is reduced to zero! Even Bonefire is but a sputtering thing while the sleet storm is raging. You still cannot see, and things are rapidly coating with ice, especially the floor which is very slippery. Even Noot is affected under the overhang.

    Isilme begins casting Melf's Minute Meteor, but the casting is disrupted by the sudden sleet storm! She takes out a Potion of Extra-Healing and drains it [14]. Then flies up to the ceiling.

    Taki is clear of Gotrek, so he will drink his Potion of Extra Healing. He regains [20], but as he stands and tries to move, he slips on the now icy floor.

    Emyn will shield Hepla from enemy arrows with his body and give her his Potion of Healing. "Thanks," is all she mutters. She heals [10].

    Noot shoots at Markessa, though he can no longer see her. He can't tell if he hits. Suddenly, the wand fizzles and the small crystal tip cracks and falls apart. [last charge!]

    Berenn tries to move, and he too falls. You hear cries of pain and anger from some of the goblins too, so apparently they don't like this either. At least they aren't shooting at you though.

    Nobody knows what Gotrek's doing. Actually, his stuff was done in PMs, since nobody knew where he was, and I believe he just is moving from one foe to another, killing humanoid guards. :)

    [Next Round]

    Azaer holds back, waiting to see what happens. No sense wasting his PSPs. Elrae looks at him and shrugs as the two take a step back, away from the sleet storm.

    Isilme casts invisibility on herself and flies upward diagonally another 5'. Now that she's nearer the ceiling, she can tell the entire room, floor to ceiling, is being blasted by this ice storm. No visibility.

    Hepla heads up the stairs, but immediately slips. Blinded and trying to move on the slippery floor is nearly impossible, as others have found out.

    Berenn drinks his potion of flying.

    Emyn shouts, "Can somebody shut off this infernal storm? as he tries to detect evil. Hopefully the strongest emanation of evil can be found and he can track it that way. Emyn detects evil intentions from the general direction of where Markessa was before the ice storm.

    Taki carefully makes his way towards the south, fumbling around blindly until he finds the goblin wrapped in his Bands and takes the bands back. The goblin falls to the floor.

    Suddenly, they all start to choke and gag, taking some small damage, as a Cloudkill, unseen in the general maelstrom, slowly rolls over them.

    [Next Round]

    Berenn casts Wind Servant at the same time Hepla casts Gust of Wind. They push the cloud to the right, away from them, though they all take damage. Berenn [2], Hepla [4], Emyn [4], Thorgrim [10]. Hepla then works her way towards where she remembers the stairs to be, trying very hard to not slip.

    Noot sneaks over and hides in the shadows by the entrance.

    Taki crawls under the balcony, and from there he can now see a bit, maybe 10'. He starts to make his way back towards Elrae and Azaer. After travelling about 10', he catches a glimpse of Jevon, the elf warrior Gotrek apparently didn't kill, standing up in the far SW corner.

    Isilime flies across the ceiling, not really able to see, but able to cross the room in one turn. Just before coming out of the sleet storm, she finds herself in total darkness, clearly of magical origin. Isilme DID come out of the sleetstorm. The ceiling drops along the edge, so she goes from flying along the ceiling at 40' height, to being about 30' height when she reaches the south wall. However, she still cannot see because she is in total darkness.

    Emyn then throws his Javelin of Lightning, and all anyone hears is the thunderclap accompanying the lightning bolt and Markessa's elvish curse. Apparently it hit her!

    [Next Round]

    Berenn tries to fly up above the storm. He makes it to the ceiling, 40' overhead, but cannot get away from it. He then moves south until everything becomes dark and he backs up. The darkness overlaps with the storm, so he is still in the storm, but not in the darkness.

    Hepla fires a lightning bolt, and can hear it ricochet off a couple walls but can't tell what happened. She then hears goblin curses somewhere behind her.

    Azaer attempts to contact Jazaer's mind, easily doing so at the cost of 8PPs. Jevon sees you and charges forward, hitting Azaer with his broadsword [14].

    Elrae points Snowfang at him and blast Jevon with a Cone of Cold. [16] He is rocked back 5' by the blast, turns, and flashes grimace that looks all the more evil with his twisted visage.

    Suddenly, he's backstabbed by Noot, who had been sneaking up in the shadows. [15]

    Taki makes his way underneath the balcony all the way south, out of the storm, and throws his bands at Jevon. They snap open and then instantly encircle the snarling man.

    Emyn is detecting evil again, trying to find Markessa. Once again, he has the general area.

    Isilme casts light, and the darkness disappears, just as Markessa finishes casting something. Isilme didn't see what the result of that spell was, but Markessa is looking out into the room (well, a few feet away is the edge of the ice storm, and presumably she can't see anything in it either.)

    [Next Round]

    In the middle of the room, there is a sudden commotion. Muffled sounds come from Emyn.

    "Emyn, whats wrong?" cries Hepla.

    "I'm wrapped in a big black tentacle!" he yells back. Hepla use her Polymorph Self to change into a bear, based on Azaer.

    Isilme casts Mirror Image on herself, moving closer to Markessa. Markessa also casts a spell, which Isilme recognizes as Detect Invisibility. She also moves further away 5'.

    Emyn has his other javelin in hand when he's wrapped by the tentacle, so he cannot throw it. Nor can he attack the tentacle himself. He attempts to break free, but fails and takes [8] damage.

    Berenn casts his Dispel Magic, centered back in the center of the room. The Ice Storm goes away. Suddenly everyone can see again. You see a dozen or so 10' long tentacles have burst from the tile floor. One is wrapped around Emyn, constricting him. One has wrapped the table with the guy laying on it. Some have wrapped around other items, like desks and chairs. Others flop around somewhat randomly. The floor of the place is VERY hazardous.

    Hepla is in mid-change, then changes immediately back to Hepla as her Polymorph Self spell is also dispelled. [she does regain her lost HPs though.] You also see the vestiges of the yellow-green cloud, which your wind spells only held back, also disappearing. [that was a lucky break, as it was a cloudkill!] Personal magic for Hepla and Emyn are dispelled as well, actually, Hepla still has her Bless intact.

    Azaer uses Invincible Foes on Jevon, and then Taki raps him in the head. Jevon swoons unconscious.

    Noot backed up, away from the room as far as possible, and now you all can see the rest of the room.

    [Next Round]

    Isilme begins singing her siren song, and her voice instantly attracts Markessa's attention. Markessa was looking out at Berenn, flying in the room, and as Isilme casts her charm spell, Markessa looks up in Isilme's direction, frowning.

    "You have strong magic," she says as she begins casting a spell of her own. "Let's see how strong."

    Isilme recognizes the Dispel Magic and grits her teeth, hoping it fails. Suddenly, Berenn's magic flying ends, and he plummets to the floor taking [12]. Berenn also loses his haste, and blessings. The area effect does NOT include Isilme!

    Elrae hits the tentacle with magic missiles, blasting it away, and Emyn wastes no time in throwing his javelin. He hits Markessa [2] plus another lightning discharge [10]. The bolt ricochets back off the wall, but misses Isilme.

    Hepla drags the drooling Thorgrim out of the way of tentacles and underneath the overhang. She finds that Thorgrim is kinda looking around going "ew, ah" and clapping. She slaps him and he starts to cry. Then she hugs him and gives him a kiss, but he just looks at her like a baby, still whimpering.

    Taki takes his bands from Jevon, and prepares to use them against Markessa in some way.

    Noot and Azaer back away, dragging Jevon and checking him out.

    [Next Round]

    Markessa Dimension Doors away again, before anyone can do anything.

    Emyn can only back away from the center of the room, where the tentacles are whipping around and trying to grasp things. Berenn and Taki go under the balcony with the others. Hepla casts Polymorph Self and changes into a Black Dragon. Everyone else stays put.

    A large creature then enter the room from the NW door. It looks like a wolf, but stands on its hind legs like a man. Azaer had also just changed into his wearbear form. When the werewolf enters, the two seem to almost sense one another. He growls primally at the sight.

    Here's another map:

    Here you can see the current situation. The Markessa counter is actually a mistake, and should be a werewolf. Also, you now see where Gotrek has gone, way off to the NW in another chamber. Actually, he's way passed that point, but I'll get to that....

    [Gotrek player OOC: I can't believe NONE of you guys have noticed the absence of a screaming Battle Rager! Just follow the trail of blood and corpses..........]

    [Next Round]

    The werewolf doesn't seem to even hear Hepla, fixated as it is on Azaer. Azaer has a strange, instinctual urge to kill the werewolf too, and the two charge each other, regardless of everything else. Azaer rushes right through the tentacle area, swatting aside two tentacles and ripping one right out of the ground and he rushes and leaps into the charging werewolf. The two tumble in a confused tangle of fur, claws, and snarls.

    Azaer take a bite [6], but he grabs the werewolf with both hands, crushes it in a bearhug, and bites it in the neck, snapping its spine. He lets the thing drop from his bloody jaws as Hepla pulls Thorgrim over. Berenn grabs Taki, telling him to avoid the tentacles, and the two make their way to the north side of the room. Noot meanwhile searches the body of Jevon, but finds nothing of interest.

    There is a trail of blood and bloody corpses, leading out the door to the NW. Emyn goes out the NW door, and into the area beyond it. It is littered with dead goblins, over a dozen, some chopped completely in half! The trail goes around the corner, and back down the long corridor towards Markessa's room.

    Elrae sheathes Snowfang, draws his crossbow of speed out and cautiously avoids any tentacles while following the blood trail with the rest of the party.

    [Way down there, Gotrek wades into the fight of his life, perhaps his last. As the party's about to be there, I started doing Gotrek's actions publicly again. Plus, his last PM I thought was cool, so wanted to immediately share it, though of course, the party really doesn't have any exact info, since they aren't there yet. However, the trail is easy to follow!]

    In the midst of his rage, Gotrek charges the twenty plus drow in the cavern. As silent as a raging dwarf in plate mail can be (if even possible), he charges. He charges, with one thought in mind:

    "You'll take my life, but I'll take yours too.
    You'll fire your spells but I'll run you through.
    So when you are waiting for the next attack,
    You better stand, there's no turning back."

    As he swings Goreblade, memories of his dark past come back to him.
    Of his killed parents.
    Father, Thrval Blackhunter.
    Mother, Gilora, the "Fiery Protector."
    He thinks of his reunion with his long lost Uncle, Urgal.
    Memories flash fast within him, but not as fast as his axe.
    He is amidst them now, with no hope of victory.
    He thinks of all unaccomplished, and he growls.
    Clan Delgrim not restored.
    Scum still residing in those Halls.
    He grits his teeth.
    Just the thought of those Giants still there,
    enrages him even further.
    And to think.
    Goreblade with him wielding it,
    and not an ounce of Giant blood spilt.
    Could there be a deeper dishonor for Gotrek?

    As the drow blades cut him, he laughs.

    "See what enemy I bring to you!"

    Gotrek roars, vigor renewed.

    "Whur A Faeyn!!"
    (Wake The Iron)!!

    And he fights on...

    He howls in rage.
    Let these whoresons tell their drow spawn tales of Gotrek Goreblade, to put them to bed at night!
    And with such thoughts fueling him, he fights on.......

    [Obviously, this adventure is about to take a very dangerous turn....]
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:25 am  
    The Slavers - Part 10

    Following Gotrek's trail is pretty easy. There are large bloody dwarf footprints heading back towards Markessa's room. You head that way and find the gnolls dead, along with another goblin. Further south there is another dead goblin, and more blood that way.

    Taki takes the lead and hurries the pace, maul ready. You guys hear Gotrek singing, as you rush south. Suddenly, the entire tunnel is plunged in absolute darkness.

    Emyn moves into the darkness, and everyone hears a thud.

    [Emyn OOC: For the record, I don't thud, I clang. ZZZZZZ....Oh Hepla...ZZZZZZZZ]

    Elrae counteracts the darkness with continual light in the center of the tunnel ahead, singing as he does so:

    Blinded by the light.
    Revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night.

    Elrae cancels the darkness spell, and you see Emyn lying facedown on the floor. About 30' away is a dark elf, riding some kind of giant lizard mount, reloading a small hand crossbow. Berenn ignites Bonefire.

    Beyond the dark elf, you see Taki also on the ground, but it looks like he is getting up when another globe or darkness appears around him.

    Berenn is up front, with Elrae beside him.

    Hepla, in the form of Markessa, is leading the feebleminded Thorgrim along behind, with Azaer behind her, guarding the rear in bear form.

    Hepla/Markessa, setttles her gaze on the dark elf and is about to play her role, when she's interrupted by Elrae. He casts continual light in the eyes of the mounted drow. "One thing I heard about the dark elves, they hate light."

    Taki charges out of the darkness right into another dark elf on a lizard mount. He misses, the elf ducking under the blow and firing another dart from his hand crossbow. Taki takes the dart in cheek, and suddenly everything starts to go dark. He drops to his knees, fighting the sleep poison, and then collapses to the floor, asleep.

    Thorgrim will continue drooling and express amazement at the pretty flashes of light.

    Hepla starts to talk, but the elf's not listening. He's especially not listening after Elrae casts continual light on him! The elf put its hands up against the blinding light. Berenn will cast hold animal on the giant lizard. The elf struggles to get it to run, but it doesn't move. The elf then turns towards Berenn, flashing an evil grimace. [The party's Haste spell has now ended.]

    Elrae fires his crossbow, but the bolt flies passed the dark elf, which dives from the lizard, rolling into the darkness. Azaer attempts an ID Ins but fails to call forth the power. [does he still lose the PP?] Berenn casts light, dispelling the darkness.

    You can see now that you are in a large natural cavern, about 50' wide and maybe 75' long. The west side is lit by a soft glowing light, which gives light about over to where the dead lizard is in the middle of the room. Beyond that, you need infravision to see. You see the elf standing just back a ways, and another mounted on a lizard moving up from the south. Beyond him, you see Taki laying motionless on the floor.

    Wow, finding my old maps is great! I hope you guys appreciate them. :)

    These map squares are also 10' squares, not 5'. Here you see the party coming down the tunnel in twos. The dark elf lept off the held lizard and ran ahead. The body next to the lizard is Emyn, asleep. The other one in the center of the chamber ahead is the sleeping Taki. There's a dead lizard out there, with its neck nearly chopped off. That's Gotrek's handiwork. He's fighting in there somewhere....

    [Next Round: I've been slacking on the rounds.]

    Berenn takes out his neutralize poison scroll, and uses it on Emyn as the other drow retreats back, sword out.

    From the SW tunnel, a half-dozen goblins riding worgs come rushing into the chamber. They nearly slam into the drow on the lizard, but the thing leaps up and grabs the wall, climbing up the side of the cavern as the worgs charge in, straight at you!

    Emyn is revived by the scroll. Elrae sings a lullyby, and 4 of the goblins topple off the worgs. The rest charge right at you. The two riders draw up short, listenting to Hepla/Markessa, as she tries to make them stop. However, the 4 riderless worgs plow right through you, knocking everyone to the ground as they charge on by. They seem to be running from something.

    Berenn heals Emyn with his rod, as the big man gets up. The drow leaps up behind the worg and slits the goblin's throat, as the other one takes a dart from off to the side somewhere and topples off his worg. Hepla moves up and fires her lightning bolt, blasting the two worgs and the drow.

    Suddenly, everyone hears a load shout from the direction the worgs entered.

    "WHUR a FAEYN!!" It is the battle cry of Clan Delgrim!

    [OOC: Now, I realize that there were a bunch of missing posts here. I guess I did stuff in PMs, and never saved them. :( To summarize, Gotrek charged in here, fought though the dark elves, and was actually down another corridor, fighting the two dark elf leaders. It didn't go well, as he was eventually hit with a drow wand that encased him in a glob of glue-stuff. Meanwhile, Isilme apparently spotted Markessa and battled her one-on-one. Isilme actually seems to have gotten the better of the encounter, and finally Markessa Dimension Doored away again, this time for good. That's why Isilme wasn't around. Nowadays, I save the PMs, and then post them for the group when I'm done. That way these parts of the stories aren't lost forever.]

    Gotrek howls in frustration, immobolized and unable to attack the dark elves right in front of him. He laughed hardily, as he threw Goreblade at the drow bitch, hurting her. Now she was coming for him, twisted knife in her hand. Her evil smile gave away her intentions easily enough. He growled in frustration, unable to move his legs. As death approached him, he said a silent prayer of gratitude to Clangeddin for giving him the opportunity to rid the world from as much vermin as he had recently. He would let these drow know the sound of a dwarven battlecry echoing loudly across their caverns, as his last act. As he took a large intake of breath to scream out his clan pride, he suddenly choked as her heard that same cry from somewhere behind him....

    "Whur A Faeyn!!"

    The battle cry of the Delgrim clan rings out loudly. But not from Gotrek. It is the voice of his Uncle, Urgal. Dwarves rush forward out of the darkness, fighting the drow. And to completely add to his confusion, the second drow priestess, behind the one with the blade who was about to slay Gotrek, backstabs her former companion! The dark elf's look of evil glee turns suddenly to surprise as she collapses at Gotrek's feet. The other one signals to the drow behind Gotrek, then locks her eyes with his.

    "Follow not, Delgrim," she says. "You're a long way from home." The drow then disappear into the darkness. Only two more follow the two which were behind Gotrek, as the last few are stuck fighting the dwarves.

    Meanwhile, Isilme comes out into the hallway just in time to see the worgs gallop by wildly.

    Hepla/Markessa looks around, still pulling Throgrim by the hand, and looks to see if any enemy remain. While changing back to herself, says in dwarf, "Good to see you again Urgal. You could not have come at a better time. This one needs some help,(she moves Thorgrim forward). I don't know where Gotrek is and almost everyone needs medical attention. There is also another evil elf by the name of Markessa and a mind flayer around here somewhere. I was just looking like Markessa. -giggle- How'd you get here, not that I am complaining?" She is one of the few unhurt ones.

    Urgal is there, with a dozen of the Deldukr. They rush into the chamber, hard on the heels of the goblins they were chasing, and smash headlong into the two surprised dark elves. Still, five dwarves fall before the blades of the elves before they are cut down. You hear Gotrek call from the darkness, and Urgal leads his dwarves that way.

    The rest of you can slowly enter the cavern, followed finally by Isilme, who invisibily taps Hepla on the shoulder. "Did I miss anything?"

    Hepla casts a light spell, and lights this place up. You find another tunnel heading out, from which direction came Urgal and the dwarves. There's another tunnel going down. You find a couple dead dark elves there, along with a dead female drow. You also find Gotrek, now out of his rage but completely stuck to the ground by some kind of sticky stubstance. There are two other dwarves that are bent over and have their hands stuck to his legs where they tried to pull him free. Urgal stands there, as two dwarves move cautiously passed, guarding the tunnel to the underdark.

    Isilme gathers all the bodies of the drow together, stripping them of all their items for Elrae to detect magic and reverently gathering their Drow cloaks, armour, weapons, ect. to place in her chest - her mind clearly in another place and time.

    She will perform last rites of her goddess upon the corpses and set them on fire to burn.

    Isilme tells the party it will take Taki about 8 hours maximum to wake up from the drow poision. She also knows the viscous glob that has stuck Gotrek, and can tell him all he needs to disolve it is some alcohol. She suggests they pour some Gutshaker on Gotrek as party of the victory celebration to free him from the goo.

    She has Elrae cast Continual Darkenss on a coin, and she will use it to protect all the drow items she places in her chest.

    The party uses up their healing, but they still find that Thorgrim's condition seems beyond anyone's ability to heal.

    After the gutshaker is thrown on the goo, Gotrek goes over to Urgal and gives him a hug that seems to shake the cavern.

    "I thought that drow bitch had me!" he says.

    He then looks over at Thorgrim, concern clearly in his eyes. He feeds Thorgrim a sip of gutshaker.

    Isilme also explains that she battled it out with markessa. "Her robe absorbed my magic spells!" she says, "but at least I destroyed the ice wand while she was still holding it."

    [DM OOC: In the end she got a critical hit, which brought Markessa close to death but triggered a contingency spell that dimension door'd her away. Well, guess we found out a bit of what happened!]

    Isilme takes out a potion. "I've carried this a long time, and I think it will work." She gives it to Thorgrim, and a glaze seems to clear from Thorgrim's eyes. They become bright, keen!

    "What the? Who? Urgal! Gotrek!" He seems also frantic for a dwarf. "And where is Taki?" he asks. "Thank you for the potion, Isilme. You are a credit to your kind. Methinks there was not much more could help my enfeebled mind."

    He grabs her by the shoulder. "I know it must be hard, fighting against your own kind. Many a dwarf have I slain, many more seen slain at the hands of other dwarves. It is always a nasty business, no matter who is right."

    He takes a healthy swig of Gutshaker, then wipes his beard and offers the flask to Isilme.

    Isilme kisses Thorgrim on the cheek once she see's the dwarf has revived. "Good to see you back to your senses old friend! Taki is need of a neutralize poision once you have recovered; he took a hit from a drow poisioned dart. I could also use a continual darkness cast on a coin to use when working with drow items, if you have the strength." She shakes her head at the Gutshaker.

    Hepla smiles at the reunion, then gives Emyn a kiss as well. "And you be careful," she scolds.

    As he stands there dumbfounded, Isilme comes over and kisses him as well. "You truly are my guardian! Had you not struck Markessa with the lightning javelins I would surely be dead! I had no idea the strength and power of the evil I faced! I barely defeated her! "

    Emyn blushes and saus, "It was but my duty." He looks furtively over at Hepla, hoping she didn't mind the kiss.

    The party then returns to the lab, where they find Jevon is gone as well. They do your normal ransaking and such, before moving on. They also find out that Icar, Deric, and their men defeated all the humanoids on the upper level. The fortress is taken.

    You find that all the humanoids are dead or scattered. The men are going to leave, and they'll take the freed slaves with them. There are about 100 slaves in the pens. You can soak the whole upper level in oil and light it on fire, as it's mostly made of wood. No sense leaving the place intact. Oh, and from Urgal you learn that the slaves you freed caught up with him and the dwarves, and he decided to come follow you. The other dwarves volunteered to come with him.

    Thorgrim packs his pipe and lights it, drawing deep. "It was Hepla's idea that enabled our success. To Hepla!" he says, raising his pipe in salute.

    Before Icar, his men and the slaves leave Berenn offers any that was wish to make the journey a chance to start over at Warden's Station. In the Spring, Berenn plans to clear land for farming and draining as much of the swamp as possible. Land would granted to those who wish to start anew the only requirement would be a reasonable tithe paid in return once you are established. Berenn will also need seasoned men to defend Warden's Station.

    I'll skip all the ransaking. Suffice to say, they gathered up what they could, and then split. Important to note, the found and freed an alchemist. His name is Lyseios (later dubbed "the Life-Saver, AKA: Mr White). All the survivors take Berenn up on his offer and plan to head back to Verbobonc and make a new life there.

    On another note, Isilme used her Oil of Etherealness to gain access to Markessa's vault. They did loot it for lots of good stuff, including a strange form of amber pudding kept in a crystal case. Isilme ends up carrying this around in her LLL. Anyway, this potion was unique though she didn't know that, and it transferred her PERMANENTLY to the Ethereal plane. As she keeps waiting for the effect to end, eventually it becomes clear it will not. Luckily, she's on the Border Ethereal, and so she sticks near to the party. However, this ends up having far-reaching consequences later.

    Anyway, it's just after noonday as the party leaves the fortress, together with the remainder of the human garrison under Deric Vayne and Icar, the hundred or so freed slaves, and the half-dozen Deldukr under Urgal's leadership. There is a pretty good column of smoke rising from the fortress beyond the ridge.

    "If you can see it," says Urgal, "it's safe to assume anyone (or thing) else around can see it too. We should hurry from here."

    "I am not sure I am up for chasing after Markessa at the moment," says Berenn. "I would prefer to be someplace safe to figure out what we are doing next. We also have an obligation to all these people to see them to safety. When Markessa returns, she won't be alone, and I don't want to be caught out in the open."

    "The slave lords will be licking their wounds, methinks," says Thorgrim. Now that we have rested and are away from the immediate vicinity, perhaps we can divine Isilme's location. Our surviving mage may be of help in this regard."

    Hepla uses the password to summon Isilme's LLL, which appears from the Ethereal. When you open the chest, you find a note on top of everything. It is in Isilme's hand, and it reads:

    "I am trapped in the etheral - the oil was cursed, but I am still following the party. We can use the chest to communicate if you send it back to the etheral, give me a few minutes to write to you - then call it back. I would like to attempt getting into the chest and having you recall it. Isilme"

    Isilme was able to leave the party and enter the Deep Ethereal, and she finds that she can call the chest to her. Calling it back and forth, they can communicate. Still, she's not sure how to get back except to get into the LLL, and that may be dangerous so for now they choose not to try.

    "Problem solved, sort of," says Thorgrim. "I am well-pleased that Isilme survived. With nine heads working on the problem, we are sure to think of a solution. Now let's be on our way to pursue these dogs. To the ends of the earth if need be! Berenn, where shall we head next?"

    OK. With Berenn scouting ahead [he gathered up the griffons], you can get across the Pomarj without too much difficulty, at least through the hills. Plus, you have about 25 warriors left alive under Icar, as well as the dwarves, who take on most of the new dwarf slaves as "recruits." The party gathers water from the lake, puts some distance between them and the burning fortress, then camps for the night to heal and regain spells.

    Next up, the trek out of the Pomarj....
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:03 pm  

    I guess I should add, that pretty much summed up the end of A2, Secret of the Slaver's Stockade. Obviously, much is different when using 2nd ed. Also, I have used all three incarnations of the Slaver series: the original set, the Scourge of the Slavelords supermodule, as well as the 2nd ed Slavers!. By pulling from all three, as well as a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) changes of my own, I've ended up with a strange amalgam of everything and hopefully a totally new take on an old classic.

    I did like how this entire part happened in reverse. The party entering through the underground river allowed them to start at what was basically the end. Further, because they befriended the warrior Deric Vayne, they made friends with Icar. I used that to deal with the rest of the module, basically skipping the entire upper stories. It also leaves some NPCs in "limbo" so to speak, and I can bring them back later if I choose. Finally, I really have had to ramp up the toughness of Markessa from the original. She's not quite as tough as the Slavers! but she's close, and will get tougher.

    I also liked how the illithid encounter went. They were actually lucky to have a unique potion (can't recall what it's name was now) which cured feebleminds. Still, Thorgrim's player did the best he could playing up the whole drooling idiot thing! All-in-all everyone was quite pleased by the adventure, except for Markessa's escape. With I had all those old Private Messages, but alas, it's not to be. I hope you enjoyed it.
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    Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:16 am  
    The Slavers - Part 11

    Starday, 15th of Fireseek (CY 581)
    You get a good night's sleep, with Thorgrim using the Daern's Instant Fortress this time to house everyone comfortably in a secluded little meadow in a small valley between some steep hills. Berenn has his griffons hunt on their own, as well as scout the area while they do so, while you set up patrols around the hilltops with the men and dwarves. Nobody bothers you all night.

    It gets cloudy overnight, and by dawn it is looking like rain. The wind also begins to pick up steadily.

    [You have all spells back, and the healers also help everyone to heal 3 hps naturally. I'll take a look at doing some quick healing.]

    OK, it didn't take much to handle the healing. So, everyone's healed, and you use a few to heal some of the others as well. You have plenty of spell points left. It's the next day, so you guys can decide what you are going to do. I know you're moving west, towards Ulek, but you do have some other things to take care of, like the coffers, safe, etc. if you want. Also, there's Isilme to deal with.

    Lyseios the Alchemist can tell you quite a bit about the potions, actually.

    Potion of Metal Immunity: He has heard of it. Metals will simply pass right through the imbiber. Drawback, you can't touch, hold, or wear anything metal either.
    Potion of Seeing: Restores blindness except for actual loss of an eye.
    Magic Enhancement: next 1-4 spells have max effect, damage, etc.
    Immunity from Lycanthropy: Imbiber is immune to lycanthropy for 24 hours (he created this one!)
    Potion of Regeneration: Acts as a ring of regeneration for 24 hours

    The party offers to give him a home in Hommlet, and set him up with whatever he needs. He accepts gladly; he never liked working for Markessa. He can make mostly simple potions at this time, but he can learn more if you guys spend enough. He'll need a lab, research materials, components, etc.. He's more than happy to show what he can do. He has no idea what the amber liquid is. He has a kit, which he used to test the potions. That's how he can identify them. Since you haven't opened the crystal jar yet, he doesn't know what it is. But the liquid wasn't magical, so it can't be a potion. Anyway, the party then looks at other stuff.

    [This here is the map of the Pomarj the party found in Markessa's fortress. It shows the basic layout, as well as all the humanod tribes. I made this map maybe 25 years ago. It's based mostly on Dragon article #167, See the Pomarj--and Die!" They also have the note regarding what the numbers mean. Here's the map:]

    The circled numbers are humanoid tribes. The party is not 100% sure where they are even starting; however, they're pretty sure it's just above the circled #24, give or take. They spend a bit of time early taking stock of the stuff they looted. However, without Isilme they don't want to press things too far. Further, they don't have time for Identify and such. So, after dispersing a few items, they decide to head out.


    They do find a scroll with one of Markessa's peronal spells: Makessa's Maiming Missiles

    Markessa's Maiming Missiles (Summoning)
    Level: 3
    Range: 60 feet + 10 feet per level
    Components: V, S, M
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Casting Time: 5
    Area of Effect: One creature per 3 levels
    Saving Throw: special

    Upon utterance of this spell, metal shards fly from the casters fingertips to the target doing 1d4 points of damage/level of the caster. An additional target may be selected for every 3 levels of experience the caster has (damage done is still 1d4/level per target). Therefore, a 10th-level wizard can hit 3 targets for 10d4, divided as he/she sees fit. The caster must make a successful hit against his target's AC, but there's no save if the target is hit. Material components are a porcupine quill and a lodestone. The quills are destroyed during casting, but the lodestone remains intact.


    They also found a letter in Markessa's safe:

    Letter #1: (written in Drow) "It is agreed that old Klim has grown soft. I shall look forward to having you sit on the Inner Council with me. There will soon be many openings. <signed> --Edralve"


    "Well now we know some more names of the Slave Lords," says Thorgirm. "We've got so many bad guys to kill, I can't keep track of them all. Good thing Sturm is dead. We've got Markessa, all 666 of her clones, Jevon and her other minions, Eldarve, squidboy, some dude named Klim. And what ever happened to Blackthorn?"

    "He was Markessa's ogre-mage assistant," says Icar. "Unaccounted for in the battle, unfortunately."

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Taki go out scouting. They don't see anything except the weather is getting worse. By the time they get back the wind has picked quite a bit, and serious storm clouds have rolled over. The day is getting cold and dark, with what seems to be a sudden and impending storm.

    "I would say we should make camp early today," says Thorgrim. "Since we haven't yet left the vicinity of the ruined fortress, perhaps we should just brave the storm? It's only water and wind and wet and cold." Thorgrim cautions the fighters not to ride to the tops of any hills with their swords held high. Nor climb any trees."

    "We have three options," says Gotrek. "One, we have this city of Suderham. It is located near the foothills of Mt. Flamenbut. The dwaves, with Urgal, can lead us there. We are close by to this spot." When nobody says anything, he continues, or we can head back to Highport and go home. Of we can head west, to Ulek, and get the people to safety."

    "The Deldukr should already have marched north," says Urgal. "It's likely known we'll head back for Highport, so I say we strike west, for the Principality of Ulek. They won't expect us to go that way, and it's our best bet to get these people to safety."

    "Let's get these slaves to safety, first, in Ulek," says Thorgrim. "Once there we may find a quicker way to return Isilme to the Prime Material Plane. Then with full strength return to seek these rats in their holes."

    "As the group heads out, braving the coming storm, Hepla looks uncertain. "I'm worried about Isilme," she tells Thorgrim.

    "We all feel the same as you, child," says Thorgrim, as he pats Hepla's shoulder.

    "Thank you Thorgrim," as she takes one last look back and makes a comment that makes both dwarves blush and leaves them wondering where a 16 year old would learn such words. Then she giggles and says "I guess we had best head out to Ulek."

    As the morning goes on, the winds pick up. Eventually they are blowing as hard as a Gust of Wind spell. Soon they pass that, and a heavy rain begins to fall. The griffons cannot keep up their flying in the gale force winds, and the rain is relentless.

    "It seems unusual for the weather to turn so foul so quickly," says Thorgrim. "Do you think it's Markessa's doing?"

    Thorgrim will use his Fortress, if the party desires. Thorgrim suggests we should let ALL of the freed slaves rest comfortably in the Fortress, if possible. "In their weakened condition, some of the slaves may become sick and even die," says Thorgrim.

    The weather quickly gets worse, tuning into a full gale storm. The slaves are simply not able to cope with it. You can't make much headway. By noon, you've maybe covered a couple of miles. By nightfall, you probably won't have covered much more ground than that. Since you are no longer travelling along a road, the terrain has gotten rougher, and the weather makes it quite a rugged walk.

    Berenn is going to Commune with Nature and see if we are being followed from behind us, to the left or right. He will also cast Weather Prediction for the following 3 days.

    Since Weather Prediction is easier, I will give him the results first. The storm will continue for the next three days, steadily getting worse and bringing lots of rain and cold temperatures. After that it is very hard to tell. He thinks it will clear up.

    Commune with Nature: Berenn has everyone take a break while he sits down and prepares for Communing. He can gain knowledge of the aread in a 3.5 mile radius. He also gets to know several facts. He learns that nobody is following the group. He learns of a small tribe of kobolds in a cave system about 1 mile to the SW. He also learns of a good place to set up the fortress. There's no sense in pushing on through the worsening storm.

    The party gives up trying to march through this storm, moves to a good place about 1/2 mile further along, and Thorgrim sets up the tower. You move everyone inside, and with three floors can easily accomodate everyone. You are camping for the rest of the day.

    Once everyone is settled, Gotrek gets up, ready for battle. "I will go kill some kobolds," he says plainly. "Never leave anything evil at your back, is my motto!"

    Hepla looks up from her spellbook and says,"Do you want magic support? I can come along."

    "They're just kobolds, living peacefully in their caves," says Elrae. "Even though I think Kobolds are kind of cute--like little dragon dogs--I'll go too."

    "Just kobolds?" says Thorgrim, laughing. "Those buggers, tiny as they are, can be among the deadliest creatures known." But he gets up anyway, and gets his gear together too.
    "Gotrek, my friend, shall we organize an excursion to wipe some more evil from the land?"

    "We could clear out the kobald cave," says Berenn. "Is there any objection? Speak now or we head to the kobald cave tomorrow morning. The dwarves, mercs and slaves can stay with the fortress until we have cleared it out."

    "I suggest that Urgal and the slaves continue the journey without us," says Thorgrim. "It will be a simple matter to catch up with them, since us nine would most likely be faster than a big group like that."

    "I disagree," says Berenn. "Shouldn't take long to clear out this cave. I think they should just hold tight. We'll be back soon."

    The party then uses the LLL to contact Isilme, and see if she wants to scout the place in the Ethereal. She replies that it's dangerous for her to go too far away, because vision is so bad. She could EASILY get lost returning, and never find you again. So, she will just stay put, inside the tower (in the Border Ethereal) and study the spellbooks. "It's actually quite nice here," she says in her last note.

    You have no encounters overnight, as the storm increases in intensity. You are VERY happy to have this dry tower to shelter in, and even it has water leaking through the roof to the upper level. It also is very cold outside, but the Log of Everburning provides good warmth for the ground floor, which gradually flows up throughout the rest, making the cold night bearable. Everyone is completely healed and all points restored in the morning.

    When day breaks, the party is off to clear out a nest of kobolds....
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    Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:02 am  

    I just have to add. You guys will love this! I think SirXaris will find extra special pleasure in what is coming.....
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:07 am  
    The Slavers - Part 12 (The Kobold Fortess of Doom)

    Sunday 16th of Fireseek (CY 581)
    You awake the next morning to a much colder day, a howling wind of about 60 mph, and a pouring rain. It's been pouring non-stop since about noon the day before, and water is ripping through the once dry arroyos of this otherwise barren and scrubby landscape. Travelling will be hard and dangerous.

    Gotrek snorts. "A mile for a warm and dry cave AND I get to kill! Let's go!"

    Elrae sings a song he once heard:

    " Twenty kobolds stood together
    Gathered in a field.
    The mighty Fighter saw them there and dropped his magic shield.
    A plus five long sword in each hand, Plate mail shiny bright.
    He confronted all the kobolds, Thinking slaughter, not a fight.
    The Fighter is an impressive sight, Some kobolds seek to flee.
    But the kobold chief, in a commanding tone, Barks, “Kobolds, follow me!”
    And so the score of kobolds charge Towards their fearsom foe.
    The Fighter calculates their exp. And waits to fell them all.
    The DM merely smiles at him, and rolls a single die.
    The result was only seven, but “You go down beneath the tide.”
    “What?!” The Fighter yells, outraged, “They need a twenty to hit me.
    They’re armed with shitty swords and knives, There’s no way that this could be!”
    “Kobolds are small” The DM replies. “So all of them do their stuff.
    Since they’ve only teamed up to overbear, Lucky seven is high enough.”
    “Big deal!” Is the fighter only retort. “I unleash my Swords of Doom.”
    “I’m afraid” The DM replies to him. “You no longer have the room.”
    “The kobolds have you grappled now. Your weapons are too large to bear,
    If you wish to fight back at all. You’ll have to drop them here.”
    “Fine!” He cries in an angry huff. “I’ll punch them in the face!”
    “Your one attack hits.” The DM informs. “But another quickly takes its place.”
    The kobolds call for surrender then, or they’ll have him for their meal.
    The Fighter tells them where to go, and swears at them with zeal.
    “They can not pierce my armored skin.” The Fighter cries in a fit.
    “It says in the rules.” The DM replies. “‘Held opponent’ equals automatic hit.”
    “Half of them now hold you down, Half now use their knives.
    You take twenty points of damage. Are you sure resisting’s wise?”
    The Fighter gnashed his teeth in rage. “My strength’s eighteen double zero!
    I’ll throw the half off with a mighty heave. They’ll see why I’m the hero!”
    The DM, a fair and impartial soul, says “Fine, your will be done.
    Just roll the die, you want low.” (‘Course, the Fighter ‘rolls’ a one.)
    “Ha!” He cries, as kobolds fly. “Now the tides have turned.
    I hack and slash and chop and cleave, and dash and crash and burn!”
    “With what?” The DM says concerned. ”Both swords!” The Fighter vents.
    “The ones you dropped?” The DM says. “You wonder where they went.”
    “Then I pull out my Two-Handed Sword of Instant Vorpal Death. It’s right here in my other pocket, I’m sure I mentioned it.”
    “OK” Sighs the DM. “You draw your sword. But the kobolds are quite fast.
    They all jump on you once again Until down you go, at last.”
    And thus the melee continued on. Until the Fighter fell.
    His mail still shining brightly, His swords still sharp as hell.
    Of the kobolds, all were well, A few nursed knicks and scrapes.
    And in the end, they had a feast, With the Fighter on their plates."

    [DM OOC: I love how King gives me good ideas!]

    [Isilme OOC: %$@^ing gamers!]

    Everyone laughs, then the party heads out. You make your way up around a couple of hills, trying to stay as sheltered as possible. It takes a few hours to make the hike towards the kobold caves. You come around a hillside, and find an old, overgrown dirt track. Berenn studies it carefully, but cannot find any evidence of travel except old prints nearly washed away. No telling what they were, but they were small. The kobold lair is up the road to the right, not far away.

    You follow the road around the next bend, and it levels off in a somewhat large, flat area. The remains of stone fortifications on the left reveal the entrance to an abandoned dwarven mine.

    "These be dwarf ruins," says Thorgrim uncertainly.

    "And they called it a mine," says Gotrek.

    Berenn scouts out the far right arches. Using his Cloak and Boots of Elvenkind, along with ranger stealth, he is a very efficient scout. This area seems to have been a gatehouse of sorts. There are square arrow slits above the arches, and the remains of a tower to both sides. To the right it seems there were a couple of large towers, but only the foundations remain. The one to the left has collapsed leaving the rusting remains of some metal, maybe an old staircase. It's hard to tell. Directly above and beyond is another ruined fortification with a crumbling tower leaning dangerously to the side.

    Berenn creeps up slowly, and when he's about 10' from the entrances, he can see that they once had stout doors, but all that remains are the hinge points. There are three separate areas beyond them, each with another archway in the back, heading into the hill. These archways are blocked by iron portcullises.

    Berenn scouted all the way up to the outside entrance, and from there he could see beyond with his infravision. The three archways all open to one chamber, about 30' deep with a corridor going left and right. He couldn't see any further than about 10' in either direction. He then reports back. It is pouring rain!

    " Let's check out these fortifications first," says Thorgrim, after Berenn reports back. " If there are no kobolds in the towers then it's time to enter the cave complex. What do you guys want to do about these portcullises? Lift them or disintegrate them?"

    "With what?" says Elrae. "You think the acid would do the trick?"

    "Let's just get out of the rain," says Thorgrim. "I'll then examine the portcullises."

    The party agrees, and they move up quickly towards the arches. When the party approaches, crossbow bolts are fired from the three arrow holes above. One hits Hepla [6].

    [Thorgrim OOC: I am thinking we should've thought this out more, lol]

    "RETREAT!" shouts Thorgrim. "Withdraw and take them as they exit. If they exit."

    KOBOLDS: 1
    PARTY: 0

    He will then cast a healing spell on Hepla.

    After falling back outside of bolt range and taking cover in the trees, Berenn looks upset. "I could call lightning to blow a hole somewhere, but is this really worth it?" he asks. "I was expecting a cave, not a fortification."

    " It's a shameful disgrace, retreating from lowly kobolds..." mumbles Thorgrim.

    "Umm they are kobolds," says Elrae. "A few well placed magic missiles should do the trick, perhaps a sleep spell or color spray. Lightning bolt, seems like a waste until you need to slay a horde of them."

    Thorgrim chants, summoning a minor elemental to aid you. It appears right from the very stone of the fortification itself, and immediately begins to attack the kobolds beyond the arrow slits.

    Taki says "To hell with this." He grabs his maul and charges forward looking for targets....

    " That should be enough of a distraction to allow us to move up," muses Berenn. "Party forward!"

    Hepla and Elrae ready Magic Missiles, but cannot target the kobolds because they cannot see them. However, no arrows are fired as the group approaches.

    Thorgrim's animal spirit is out of sight, though he tries to remain close enough that it will hang around. He is trying to keep up with Taki as well, who charged into the middle of the three arches. The floor is made of bricks, but when Taki gets to the center, it simply crumbles beneath him. He drops into a 10' deep pit, the bottom of which is about 5' deep with oil. He falls completely under, getting covered head to toe. Elrae and Thorgrim both tumble in as well, but Gotrek makes a leap, landing on the far side (only about 2' of floor) and grabs ahold of the portcullis to avoid falling backwards. The rest of the party stops just inside the archway, and avoids falling into the pit.

    Those in the pit see that there are two hinged metal doors which are hanging against the side walls now. They were under the floor holding it up, and the kobolds must have opened them, leaving the bricks ready to fall when somebody crossed them.

    "Classic dwarven entryway," things Gotrek. "Then you just drop flaming cinders and it's fried invaders!"

    [Here's a map of the whole first part of this. I don't have any screenshots that I can find. However, this is the map. You can see where party enters, way to the right. There's some outside grass, the three archways, then the entry chamber. The center arch is an open pit. There are also some large blocks to the left and right of the two passages heading deeper, but they haven't actually moved out yet. You'll see what they do. You can see all the side tunnels which the kobolds will be using to attack the party, firing through arrow slits. There are also murder holes in the ceiling which aren't actually shown. It's not going to be a picnic. ]

    Elrae takes out his rope, and then is bodily lifted up to Gotrek before he can even do anything. Gotrek grabs him and pulls him up, and Elrae begins to tie off the rope to the portcullis. Taki then boosts Thorgrim up as well. There isn't room for Taki to climb up that side, but Emyn and Berenn each grab a hand and pull him back up to their side. [Good thing Thorgrim's animal elemental is distracting the kobold guards above....]

    Gotrek grabs the bars at the bottom, and with a mighty heave lifts them off the floor by about 2'.

    "Let's get everyone out of the pit first," says Elrae. "We need to clean this oil off too."

    The only ones on the far side are Gotrek, Thorgrim, and Elrae. Berenn and Emyn are directly across the pit, with Taki and Hepla there. Noot and Azaer are in the archway, keeping an eye out behind them, but they can't see anything through this storm.

    "Everyone's out of the pit," says Thorgrim. "We just need to get the rest of the party across to our side."

    Hepla offers to use the clean cantrip on Taki, but he can feel the oil all through his underclothes too. He's totally soaked in the stuff, and it really smells bad too.

    "This fire trap is still ready to be sprung," yells Thorgrim. "We need to get the rest of the party across quickly. We can probably exit another path."

    Hepla casts levitate on the portcullis, and she's able to lift it all the way up.

    "We need to get the party across," says Thorgrim.

    Hepla's holding the portcullis up, and Elrae, Thorgrim, and Gotrek enter the area beyond. It's a 20' deep chamber that spans the length of all three entranceways. The left and right ones still have portcullises blocking them. There are two passages heading out of this chamber, directly across from the right and left entrances. You hear kobolds yelling from both passages.

    Hepla can do something else, but unless somebody props up the portcullis, it will fall back down.

    "Everybody get through!" shouts Thorgrim

    Berenn will cast Resist Fire on Taki while Thorgrim casts it upon himself. The kobolds above have fled from the elemental, and Thorgrim summons it to him. Those inside see light appear down around the corner of the left-hand corridor, approaching fast.

    "About time!" says Gotrek, striding down the hallway to the entrance of the corridor, swinging Goreblade in anticipation. When Gotrek gets to the corner and looks down the corridor, he sees another kobold shield-wall. Beyond the kobolds are a couple of torch-bearers.

    Meanwhile, Elrae casts light, illuminating the chamber. Thorgrim sends the minor elemental down the corridor, but it just slowly sinks back into the ground as the spell ends. "Crap," says Thorgrim, as he jams the portcullis to keep it up.

    Hepla then casts fly on Taki, who then flies across the pit and into the chamber beyond.
    Noot, meanwhile, puts on his slippers of Spider Climb, while Azaer transforms into his bear form.

    Thorgrim rushes over to Gotrek, planting a palm on his back and casting Resist Fire on him. Elrae sings one of his lullabies, putting three of the kobolds to sleep. Hepla casts fly on herself as Azaer leaps across the pit and into the corridor. Noot uses his slippers and walks up the wall and across to the corridor. Berenn takes out his Rope of Climbing, has it tie off on one of the murder holes above, and swings across the pit.

    Gotrek charges against the kobold shield wall. He takes two hits [10] and [10]. He then attacks the kobolds, hitting and killing one.

    Taki charges passed Elrae, into the kobold shield wall in the right corridor. He takes hits from two spears himself [12] [8] before slamming one to pulp with his maul.

    [Everyone is inside now.. Gotrek fighting against the shield wall in the left corridor, Taki fighting the ones on the right. Thorgrim is behind Gotrek, and Elrae and Azaer are in the center of the chamber. Behind them, having just crossed the pit, are the rest of the party.]

    The kobolds back off from Gotrek, reforming their shield wall. The ones facing Taki grab their three sleeping comrades and do the same, backing up into the narrow corridor.

    Noot sees scratch marks on the ceiling and floor, and cries a warning to the others not to advance. "It's a trap!"

    You hear a grating sound as two large stone blocks begin to slide over into the chamber from the left and right sides. The will completely block the two corridors in another round. Taki backs up quickly, to avoid being cut off.

    Luckily, Gotrek is not singing; he'd been keeping himself in check because they were just kobolds. Oh hell, he knows it's an old dwarven fortification, so he curses, "Drooling, addle-pated, troll-spawns!" But he backs up, and the blocks slide into place, blocking the corridors. Just before the block closes off the corridor, one of the kobolds turns, picks up his scale skirt, and waves his **** at Gotrek, laughing!

    Gotrek growls. "That scrawny assed %$#@er." He looks at Noot. "Noot. Can I borrow ye slippers of spider climbing?"

    Simultaneously, a bunch of crossbow bolts are fired at the rest of the party through arrow slits in the far wall. One hits Azaer, but he just ignores it. Two hit Elrae [6] [4], and one hits Hepla [4].

    [Thorgrim OOC: Oh these guys are just asking for it! They're also kicking our asses. What will we do next? We now have to go back over the oil-pit trap we just crossed with much difficulty? That would totally suck!]

    Azaer frowns and slides the bolt from his body, dropping it to the ground. He then shifts back into human form and moves to the back of the party. "I can perhaps use the cloak of the bat to move ahead and get behind the little beasts. Then I can shift from behind them and take care of business. I don't think they have anything that can harm me in my bear form, unless I run into some king kobold back there."

    Looking at the blocks, Noot you can see they go all the way to the ceiling, blocking the way completely. That's how Noot figured the trap out; he saw the scratch marks on the floor and ceiling. While you're considering things, another 8 bolts come flying out at the party from various arrow slits. Thorgrim is hit [1]. Azaer is hit once, to no effect. Hepla is hit again as well [3].

    The two passages are now blocked by large square stone blocks which slid over from the right and left walls. The Gotrek is just inside the left block, Taki just inside the right block. The rest of the party is pretty much in the center of the entry chamber, being fired at from numerous arrow slits in the far wall.

    Gotrek say Dras Stonecrusher. Gotrek will start wailing at his block with the Warhammer, looking for weak points. He gets into a rhythm, much like smithing. His hope is to remove enough of the rock to allow access to that passage. He will probably be awhile. It's a 10' cubic block of granite.

    [DM OOC: You guys are essentially in a fight, so you can't spend a bunch of posts talking about what you should do. You can only post what your characters are going to do next. Though you can do a little talking to each other, in character, in your posts. But keep in mind these are combat rounds, and you're taking fire.]

    "If we need to withdraw," says Thorgrim, "we could possibly exit through one of the closed portcullises, checking for traps at those entryways before proceeding back to the entrance."

    "I ain't runnin" grumbles Gotrek, continueing to hammer the stone block.

    [Hepla OOC: Hepla is standing against the wall with the arrow slits in it and cast sleep through one of the arrow slits so how can any awake crossbowmen hit her? Do the crossbows act like boomerangs going out from the the wall and turning aroun to hit someone agaist the wall or did they come from another area? The reason I had her go to the wall was so she could not be hit. Also, we should just bust through the arrow slits to the areas beyond.]

    [DM OOC: Because the ceiling is riddled with murder holes too, and this turn they fired from them as well! Further, although I am not a stonemason, I am not inclined to believe that it will be an easy and quick process to bust through solid granite. Further, this was a dwarven fortress, and the stone used was good. The work is top quality. Not easy to destroy. That said, I will look to see if there's info I can find to help me, but Gotrek and Thorgrim should both probably know that dwarves built stuff well. Trying to bust through the stone may not be so easy!]

    "Let's get out of here!" shouts Thorgrim, after he's done healing Hepla. Kobolds suck," he mumbles to himself.

    [OOC commentary: I think it's cool that the party very early was starting to think that maybe this wasn't going to be easy. Now they are franticly scrambling, trying to figure out what to do next. The dwarves are role-playing well, especially Gotrek the battlerager who just won't run from kobolds. Ah, this was such fun as a DM!]

    "Obviously a full frontal attack in a stronghold got us nowhere," says Elrae quickly. "We need to scope out another way to enter the mines, or just leave."

    Hepla flies up and casts sleep through one of the arrow slits as the others begin to make their way back outside. Noot just walks back out, followed by the flying Taki, who grabs ahold of Azaer and carries him across. Elrae uses Snowfang to make an ice bridge over the oil pit. Meanwhile the remaining archers continue to fire. Berenn takes a hit in the back [6] and Elrae is hit for a critical [10] right through the elbow. He drops Snowfang and his arm just hangs useless. The rest rush across the ice bridge.

    Thorgrim will pause to help Elrae before he rushes over the ice bridge. He will make sure Elrae has his weapon or help him retrieve it. Thorgrim will be last to cross the bridge, after the entire rest of the party is safely across. "Shoulda thought of that, sooner," he tells Elrae.

    Hepla flies out, followed by Thorgrim, just before another volley of bolts flies out at them. Everyone rushes back outside, through the storm, and takes cover across the open ground. You could swear you hear a kobold yell behind you, "And stay out!"

    KOBOLDS: 2
    PARTY: 0
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 655

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    Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:46 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 13 (The Kobold Fortres of Doom-2)

    "Kobolds in possession of a Dwarven Fortress?" says Thorgrim, shaking his head. "It's disgraceful. Let's regroup."

    Thorgrim OOC: We just got our asses kicked with ease by the tiniest and weakest of humanoids. But not the dumbest. We're all banged up and Thorgrim is about to get very low on spells. Thorgrim will also cast Repair Injury on Elrae.

    "Kobolds are always deviously clever little buggers," says Thorgrim after healing Elrae. "A pox on their race! Troll-dung, the lot of them!"

    "We've faced Iuz, defeated the Temple of Elemental Evil, Quested for Gortek's Goreblade, and handed it to the Slavers," says Elrae. "and freaking Meepo the Kobold and his little minions humiliated us."

    "We can not leave this" Taki looks to the dwarves "Perhaps we can go around the mountain and attack them from above?"

    "Lots of other entrances to scout," says Noot.

    "Hehe," laughs Gotrek. "Who picked the middle one, Taki?"

    "Let's send a note to Isilme," says Thorgrim "to see if she can scout about for us while we're licking our wounds."

    Hepla pops up and casts lightning bolt at the entrance, which ignites the oil pit. "Sorry," she says. "It just felt good!"

    DM OOC: Maybe you guys should just tuck your tail and go back to the tower.


    "The burning oil pit shoud give them something to remember us," says Hepla. She then casts gust of wind to blow the smoke back into the fort. Unfortunately, Gust of Wind has a 1 round duration. So Hepla blew it back, but then it's done after one round. That's really not going to do a whole lot.

    "Slow down there, kiddo," says Thorgrim. "We have lots of spells we need to cast, yet. We are safe, for now."

    Those around Hepla hear her say,"Smoked Kobald, Yumm."

    Azaer pulls the bolts out of his body and drops them. "Ok guys whats the plan? If we wait till dark I can use the cloak of the bat to possibly get in and behind them? I could easily also dominate one I am sure but I need to see it."

    The dwarves can tell you that you're not going to succeed in smoking them out. Dwarves built plenty of ventilation holes in their works, to just stop that from happening. You may drive away the kobolds from the entrance, but that's about it. They remind you, these are kobolds who live in a place constucted by dwarves. They will be much more difficult to deal with, as the defenses are sure to be far stronger than anything mere kobolds would have made.

    Everyone's healed, but you have to march away from the mine entrances, to find a place to safely take off your gear. Hepla uses cantrips to clean it, but it takes about an hour to get all that done. In the meantime, you can do some scouting, or just wait to get done. The weather is worse and the wind howling. Rain is pouring down in buckets! You are all thoroughly soaked and miserable now.

    Thorgrim OOC: But not as miserable about the weather as we are from our dismal failure against the kobolds.

    Berenn scouts out around the hillside, while Noot scouts inside. The rest of the party takes refuge in a small ruined building nearby. Noot finds that the two central and lower archways are completely collapsed. The two to the left go back into darkness. He doesn't want to go too far, but it seems like there are more fortifications here, similar to the ones on the far right. The tunnel to the left went inside the tower, which is all collapsed. There's no entrance there. The primary mine in mostly collapsed at the entrance, but you could climb over the ruins and enter if you wish. It goes back quite a way. To the left (and above a bit) of the mine entrance is a long block structure, built into the hillside. It also has an archway entrance. Its walls are also pierced with arrow slits, and Noot saw a dozen or so kobolds inside.

    Berenn finds smoke filtering out of the ground in a few places above where you lit the oil, through vent holes very artfully concealed in the natural stone. None are bigger than palm-sized. There isn't much smoke coming out, and most pours right out through the archway where it is dispersed by the storm.

    To prepare for this excursion, Thorgrim will find some sturdy tree branches to throw in his Hole and use for jamming open portcullises, etc. Can he find a log that's about 12 feet long and use his old battleaxe to flatten two sides, thereby making a very thick makeshift plank. He does has carpentry skill.

    Hepla casts invisibility on Noot, who then goes to investigate the primary mine entrance. Noot takes an invisibility spell, and Berenn can move virtually invisibily as long as he doesn't move fast. Together they enter the primary mine entrance. It actually goes uphill a bit, and then levels out. The floor is worked right out of the stone, so it nearly perfectly smooth. The passage goes back about 100' into the hill, then opens up into a large area. There are huge columns, more like places simply not excavated, holding up the place, which divide the area up into a network of rooms.

    Noot is struck with how empty the place is. There are some rock piles in a few places, but there is no evidence at all of anything else. He wanders the entire area, but finds nothing at all. He reports back, and the party decides to leave well enough alone. In fact, most decide they should just leave and return to the tower. However, as they go to leave, Gotrek snorts and stands fast.

    "I CANNOT walk away from this," he says. "Sounds crazy. And trust me, I would rather not do it. However, it is what it is. I am going back."

    "You also can't go off and fight every humanoid in the Pomarj!" exclaims Thorgrim. "They number in the hundreds of thousands! There's a reason that the men and dwarves of the Pomarj were defeated." You can hear the exasperation in his voice.

    Gotrek just stands there, arms crossed. "All the same," he says. "I'm going back."

    Thorgrim sighs. "Ok, but we need to find a different way in. What about arrow slits? I've been wanting us to blast at those since the beginning. You think it will allow us access?"

    Berenn scouts the entrance again, but finds nothing at the entrance where you already fought, except what you expect there. It seems the kobolds are back in defensive positions, the blocks are sealed, and the oil's still burning.

    DM OOC: There is a long period of planning that followed, like a few hundred posts! Eventually, the party came up with a new plan. The Plan, for everyone's easy reference, was:
    1. Gotrek borrows Cloak of the Bat from Azaer. Hepla borrows spellbooks and wands from Isilme. Hepla casts Invisibility on Noot.
    2. Hepla casts Protection from Normal Missiles on herself. Gotrek slips inside the arrow slits above the archways in bat form.
    3. Gotrek kills everything while the party goes up to the arrow slits and Berenn casts Stone Shape to open one enough for entry. Hepla casts Polymorph self.
    4. The party enters the arrowslits. Taki, Azaer, Thorgrim, then the rest.
    5. Azaer transforms into werebear form. Berenn casts Find Traps.

    So, Gotrek went it, but the kobolds on guard saw him transforming from a bat and all ran away. He wanted to go off after them, but he waited for the others. Berenn soon gets inside, leaving the Rope for others to use. He finds that he has to bend over, as the ceiling is only 5' high. It is a chamber that covers the entire area of the entry as well as the three archways. There are no kobolds, and Gotrek is looking around for something to kill. Hepla flies right through, ending up in the short chamber, and is followed by Taki and Thorgrim, both scurrying up the rope. Eventually, everyone gains entrance.

    You can push on through the chamber. You find that there are two small corridors, 5' high and 10' wide, running above and along the same lines as the primary corridors which were blocked by the large stones. Gotrek and Thorgrim move to watch each one, while the rest for the party plans. Berenn casts Find Traps. He doesn't detect anything up here, and as he turns around scanning the entire area, he finds no traps. All the taller people are forced to hunch over in the close quarters, including Hepla who must bend over in her Markessa guise (she loves polymorphing into her!); only Gotrek and Thorgrim have no problem with the low ceiling. There is also no light up here, except the light coming through the two arrow slits and the large hole where the central one was.

    Noot checks out the murder holes in the floor, overlooking the entry chamber below. The murder holes all have stone covers which flip down and lock in place. They are all closed. They're only about 1' wide. Gotrek and Taki check out the two tunnels leading away. The two tunnels mirror each of the two passageways below them. The one on the left turns left after about 10', while the one on the right has a side passage on the right after about 10' though it also continues straight for another 20' after that before ending in a blank wall.

    The party opts to go down the left passage to where it turns left. It goes another 10' or so before ending in a trap door. Berenn detects no traps. It has a bar on this side which can be used to lock the door by sliding it into an iron ring. In the meantime, Berenn checks out the other direction. The area above the right corridor dead ends as I mentioned. There is a side passage which ends at a trap door just like the one on the left. Berenn finds no traps on that one either.

    Taki opens the left trap door. It reveals an iron spiral staircase going down to the level below. It's dark down there, with barely any light coming through the trapdoor, since it was around the corner. The party is using no light except what filters through the arrow slits.

    Gotrek and Thorgrim look down, and they see the spiral stairs go down about 10' and there's a passage there, going back towards the entrance as well as further into the hill. It is 5' wide and 5' high. Gotrek starts down, the Thorgrim behind him. Gotrek's about halfway down when Thorgrim starts down. As soon as Berenn gets back to the trapdoor, after having checked the other side, he sees that the stairs are trapped. He shouts a warning, but it's too late. you hear a click.....

    Gotrek dives off the stairs, as blades underneath each step whirl around like a dozen scythes. He is hit by three blades, taking [4], [18] and [18] as well as [5] from the fall. One blade breaks upon impacting his armor. Thorgrim is hit by one blade [7] as he quickly scurries back up [he only was on the third step down.]

    The blades continue to whirl around, blocking the way down, though Gotrek is down at the bottom level alone now.

    Taki starts to break the blades with his maul, while Gotrek looks around. He says he sees a door here, leading back into the main corridors. It is barred on his side. He is going to explore these defensive corridors. He goes back towards the front, and in fact once he gets around the corner, there's a tiny bit of light coming through the arrow slits. By where the block slid out, he finds a lever. He then comes back to the stairs to see how things are going and to call up with what he's found. He hasn't gone around the other way, deeper into the hill, but is pretty sure that goes along the rear wall and is where more kobolds were firing at you from beyond arrow slits.

    As he looks around, Gotrek runs into some kobolds, coming from the other way. They shout in kobold and all but one run away, as Gotrek steps up and cuts down the one closest. He watches them flee, then comes back around the corner, limping from a couple of wicked wounds to his legs. "Just a kobold," he says. "Rest fled that way," and he points down the corridor.

    Noot searches the stair trap and uses the broken blades to jam it so it cannot work again. The rest of the party can make its way down the stairs. You're in a 5' wide hallway, which as you can see from the map goes two ways. You also find there is a barred door here which leads back to the regular corridors as well as a lever. He finds a trap on the door, a wire attached and disappears into the ceiling above. He disarms it. As for the lever, he doesn't know what it does; however, it's opposite the block so it could be the mechanism for it.

    "These damn kobolds are nothing but trouble!" says Thorgrim.

    After healing Gotrek's wounds, the party decides to go down the defensive corridors. They are so narrow that the group must proceed single-file. Modified marching order: Thorgrim, Berenn, Azaer (in bear form), Gotrek, Taki, Hepla, Noot, Elrae, Azaer and Emyn. They follow the side corridor which winds along, following the wall of the primary corridor until it ends at a steel door.

    [Here's a larger map the this area.]

    The party is at the end of the bottom of the defensive corridors, roughly the center of the map. Berenn is 5' behind Thorgrim. He doesn't detect any traps along the way, nor on the steel door either. There also are no handles, hinges, or anything. Thorgrim says, "These iron doors are made to seal off passages; they are very thick and very tough!"

    Hepla squeezes up close enough to cast knock. "See?" she says. "I'm not that scared of the Kobald Castle of Doom."

    You hear the sound of bolts being thrown back, but the door still won't open. You also hear kobolds yell from the other side.

    Hepla, knowing time is now of the essence, drinks her Potion of Clarvoyance. She sees that the door is held by huge bolts which secure it on all sides, except the hinged side. 6 bolts in all. The knock spell threw opwn two bolts, and the kobolds have run away. Two more knock spells will open the rest. After casting them, they are able to easily push the iron door open.

    The corridor continues, but with a floor of smoothly fitting flagstones, like the primary entrance, rather than the rough hewn stone of the defensive passages. It is still 5' high, but after 20' it turns left and increases in size to a 10'x10' passage. Berenn immediately sees traps in the ceiling. There is some kind of mechanical trap associated with the door bolts. Noot comes and examines the doorway. He can tell you that had the door been forced, it would have set off a mechanical trap which would have dropped the ceiling blocks here, sealing this corridor.

    "We mst take care," says Emyn. "These Kobolds are indeed fierce."

    "Cause they be livin in a dwarf fortress," snorts Gotrek.

    "Methinks this fortress may become our tomb. It is too well-built by my Dwarven kinsmen," says Thorgrim. "There are corridor-sealing traps everywhere. If we fail to react quickly enough to one of these, the party may be split in twain or maybe what's worse, stuck on the wrong side of a 10-ton block of stone."

    "We don't have Passwall, we don't have Soften Stone or Stone to Flesh. Only a besieging army or a great and powerful sorcerer could hope to take this place by force or magic." He pauses for a moment and looks at Hepla. "But you are going to have to do."

    Hepla bows to Thorgrim and says,"Thank you for that vote of confidence, but I am starting to run low on spell points and many more doors like that and we could be in trouble. Lets find these Kobolds and finish this."

    Hepla uses her clairvoyance until it runs out, scanning around like Isilme had done before. She is able to reveal much. The series of rooms ahead are old guardroom, and the large central chamber is a large courtyard and meeting area. There are no kobolds in the guard rooms, though some are formed up in the courtyard.

    You go into the first guard barracks. It is pretty much what you'd expect. It has some nice stone tables and benches, built sturdy for dwarves. There is also a lot of kobold refuse around; they clearly don't keep to the same standards. There is a long weapons rack on the wall, mostly empty, and what's left is nothing you'd be interested in taking. There is a door on the far side.

    Noot opens the door, and Berenn doesn't sense any traps. You enter into another guard room, just like the last one. The door to the next room is half-open. Noot listens, but hears nothing beyond. Berenn detects a trap above the half-open door. He looks up and sees a large bucket set there, ready to fall if anyone opens the door. He takes the bucket down. It's full of kobold piss!

    Berenn OOC: WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are these kobolds related to the 3 Stooges?

    "Hepla, would this be of any worth for your spells?" asks Emyn.

    "Only if you were stung by a jelly fish," laughs Elrae.

    "It shouldn't be long before we engage them in open combat," says Thorgrim, trying to be serious. "This time, without arrow slits for them to hide behind."

    The next room is another barracks, much like the others. There is a door going north. The door is locked, Berenn does not detect traps.

    "This should be the door into the room the Kobalds were forming up in," says Hepla.

    Everyone gets ready, while Noot is able to pick the lock. Opening the door reveals a short corridor. There is a door to the right and one straight ahead.

    Hepla points ahead, "that should be the door to their courtyard and where I saw them gathering." She preps a sleep spell to use as soon as the door is open and she gets a shot at the Kobalds.

    They check out the door to the right, which opens to another empty room. Emyn moves up to the final door and kicks it open. A bunch of startled kobolds look over.

    Emyn casts MSIII, and three large spiders suddenly appear in the midst of the kobolds. They scream in terror and run in all directions away from the spiders. Berenn, Thorgrim, and Gotrek (always in the front) push passed Emyn and into the room, followed by Elrae and Hepla, who both cast sleep spells. All the kobolds still in the room, about 20 total, fall asleep. Only the handful that ran down the rear corridor are unaffected.

    "That's what I'm talking about!" says Elrae triumphantly.

    Hepla helps finish off the sleeping kobolds with her bone dagger, while the others go after the fleeing ones. If she recognises the one who mooned us she will let him live till Gotrek comes back then she will let him decide his fate. "Beware of traps," she yells.

    Looking around the chamber, you don't see anything except the other exits. There is a door on the opposite side, which leads to another series of barracks like the ones you passed through, and then to the defensive passages on the other side of the entrance. Hepla saw that with her potion. There is also the narrow corridor back to the front. There's nothing else in here except one tunnel heading deeper in the hill. That's the way the kobolds fled.

    "Let's round up the rest of these kobolds, then search for secret doors in the supposedly empty fortress. Their women and young have to be here somewhere," says Thorgrim.

    "Let's not get careless now," says Gotrek with an amused smile.

    Emyn whispers to Hepla, "My dear, I think there is something Gotrek isn't telling us."

    Hepa and Emyn finish killing the sleeping kobolds. Gotrek wants the kobold who mooned him, though it's pretty much impossible to tell which that is. He also wants to interrogate at least one.

    Hepla looks up and says to Emyn,"I only got one look at him and I'm not checking out that part of any of these guys." Then to Gotrek,"I think this is him," pointing to whichever one Emyn didn't kill.

    "Interrogate Moonboy and see where that get us," says Elrae. "Stinking little lizard dogs."

    Berenn looks down the corridor. It is 20' wide and high, and slowly gets smaller as it goes, gently sloping down. He cannot see the end, but Berenn sees that there are mechanical traps of an indeterminate nature in the corridor. His spell then ends.

    "Crap," he whispers.

    "We had better work systematically to round up these kobolds," says Thorgrim, "although it's likely many will escape. I can find traps if we split up. Should we clear out the opposite side before proceeding on?"

    "There was nothing there," says Hepla. "They were all gathered here."

    Hepla then looks at the Kolbold and says,"Your life hangs by a thread, tell us what we need to know. What are you guarding." She still is morphed into Markessa.

    The kobold only speaks kobold. Elrae barks at it, "Bow wow ruff grrrr yipe!" but it just glowers at him.

    "Kill this mangy cur and let's be on our way," says Thorgrim.

    Hepla is not going to waist the spell points to cast Tongues so she kills him. "My mistake, he's not the one." she says.

    Meanwhile, Noot looks at the walls and ceiling of the descending corridor, and he determines that the stones there move. Whether they fall, slide, or what, he cannot tell. Nor is there anything to disarm. Whatever activates them is also unknown. Noot finds no pressure plates or anything like that, and Berenn did say the traps were mechanical. However, there doesn't seem to be anything that will set them off.

    "It's another corridor-sealer, activated from beyond these walls," says Thorgrim. "Either that, or a descending-ceiling crush-trap. Let's be ready to move swiftly."

    Berenn casts Find Traps again, then heads carefully down the corridor. He makes it to the end of the hallway and a flight of steps that go up to a small octagonal chamber, 5' above the level of the corridor. You can see that there are stairs on the opposite side going back down, and another corridor continues on just like the one you are in right now. The area of the stairs and the octagonal chamber reveal another mechanical trap of some kind.

    The party makes it to the end of the corridor. Noot inspects the area from the foot of the steps, and finds an odd gap between the stairs and the corridor. He does not know what it means, however.

    "Why don't we retireve a few kobold bodies and toss them from the air onto the stairs?" says Emyn.

    "Excellent idea," says Thorgrim. "If that doesn't set off the trap it may just be another corridor-sealer."

    Hepla flies back as a small dragon, grabs two small kobolds, and gives them to Thorgrim. He throws the kobolds on the stairs, and you hear a click! Way behind you at the far end of the corridor, out of sight of the party which is now down by the stairs, you hear stone grating on stone.

    As Emyn is about to run back up there, Thorgrim shouts "Wait! They're only locking us in! If we clear the place we can easily let ourselves out. If we withdraw we may unable to re-enter."

    Berenn heads up the stairs, and when he crosses to the other side of the octagonal room, the entire room starts to tilt. It is turning so that the left side is going down and the right side is going up. Before you hardly know what's happening the two corridors are about 1/5 blocked already.

    DM OOC: Just so you understand, the chamber you're in (including the stairs) is like a huge ball that is now turning. The left side is dropping while the right side is rising. The exits are slowly closing as the chamber turns, kind of akin to an elevator slowly going up or down with the doors open.

    Berenn rushes through the left side, leaping up from the stairs as they sink, the exit to the left slowly closing. Hepla flies through, dropping the kobolds, and Gotrek is able to scramble through, with Berenn and Hepla grabbing him by the collar and pulling him up. Thorgrim leaps but can only grab the edge. As the room keeps turning, he quickly finds himself hanging there. Taki tumbles into Thorgrim and with his great height and strength is able to push him the last bit, just as Thorgrim is about to let go rather than have his fingers cut off as the chamber keeps turning. Thorgrim gets over the lip and rolls out of the way as the chamber continues to turn, completely blocking the exit.

    In the rear, Azaer leaps back into the rear corridor, followed quickly by Noot who deftly dives down the stairs and into the corridor. Elrae, Emyn, and Taki are all stuck in the rotating chamber, as both exits are closed. There is nothing to hold onto as it keeps turning, and Taki sees another exit opening beneath his feet as the chamber continues to rotate. He is about to fall through the opening, and will soon be followed by Emyn and Elrae.

    Kobolds suck, thinks Thorgrim. I knew it would only be a matter of time before the party got separated.

    Thorgrim OOC: Looks like this may be the end for Elrae, Emyn and Taki.

    DM OOC: Yes, the party is split in three now. Noot and Azaer in the rear (right) corridor. Taki, Emyn, and Elrae in the trap and about to fall. Everyone else in the front (left) corridor.

    Thorgrim OOC: Oh, nice. Four, if you count Isilme. I thought Noot and Azaer had made it to this side. But I see I'm wrong. It's up to Hepla to get this fixed.

    "Let's wait a moment and see if this trap resets," says Thorgrim.

    Hepla yells,"Use the potion of levitation if you are in danger of falling, one drinks and holds the others up." If its dark she will ask either dwarf if they see anything.

    Emyn mutters a prayer to Trithereon for aid for him and his friends, especially Hepla and Isilme. He then tries to go into the new opening as carefully as possible.

    As the chamber continues to turn, the floor opens up beneath Taki who falls through. Emyn is right behind him, followed by Elrae. Taki falls through the opening floor, falling about 30' and taking [21] damage. Emyn successfully grabs ahold of the edge of the octagonal platform as the room continues to turn, so he doesn't fall, but Elrae fails to grab anything and tumbles to the bottom taking [33]. Emyn is hanging from the now vertical floor. When it reaches 90 degrees, it stops turning. The two exits are blocked completely.

    DM OOC: Now that it's sprung, I'll show you a little picture that describes basically how this one works.

    Gotrek OOC: I guess we should be thankful for no spear shafts!

    DM OOC: I just haven't gotten that far!

    Berenn OOC: Ugh! This place is turning into a death trap!

    Hepla OOC: This place IS a death trap.

    Hepla looks at Thorgrim. "Any idea what has happened to them? This room seemed to be designed to drop them somewhere."

    "Probably to their deaths," says Thorgrim, looking glum. "If it's only 20 or 30 feet they may survive, barring any poison stakes at the bottom. But pit traps can be as deep as the maker wants them. In the case of dwarves, very deep. Pit traps of 100 and more feet are not uncommon."

    Berenn sneaks further up the corridor, detecting traps. He is about halfway along when he sees a group of three kobolds stealthily sneaking down the corridor. He sneaks back down to tell the others. Thorgrim and Gotrek move to engage, but when the kobolds see them they run away.

    "Let's go and try to free our friends," he says to Gotrek. "I suggest you remain put, little one," he says to Hepla. "You're the one who can help the rest of the party the most if the trap resets itself."

    In the pit, Elrae's satchel burst open when he hit. All but two of his potions (Levitation and Lightning) were broken and lost. His figurine of wondrous power broke in two as well. Taki lost his +1 Dagger, his Potion of Climbing, Ring of Water Walking, and his jeweled ring though he can collect the pieces and precious stones. Emyn also dropped his bastard sword and shield, though neither broke.

    Elrae quickly takes his potion of levitation and drinks it, seeing Emyn hanging precariously above. He levitates up 20', halfway to Emyn, who holds on for dear life.

    Emyn shouts, "Elrae, if you can get me to that ledge over there. Then we can use your rope to haul Taki up!" He prays out loud to Trithereon to aid him and his friends.

    There are little 6" ledges which you can stand on, the faces of the steps being turned 90 degrees now. Elrae moves up to Emyn and grabs him before he falls. A trap door opens above, and some kobolds call out for you to surrender. It speaks in dwarven, which Elrae understands.

    Emyn whispers to Elrae, "Can't you charm them with a song and get them to let us up?"


    The kobold laughs and after telling the others with it what you said, one pisses out the trapdoor onto Elrae and Emyn. It's not a lot, but it smells awfully bad.

    "BAD DOGGIE?" yells Elrae. "YOU THINK A LITTLE KOBOLD PEE BOTHERS ME? WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE?" Next time the trap door opens Elrae will fire a full blast of magic missiles at the kobold's wiener.

    Thorgrim OOC: Oh, these kobolds are so dead... Very bold critters for only having 1-4 hp each. Thorgrim will not rest until every male female and young one is dead, dead, dead! Haha you're only instigating them. Better watch out what you ask for!

    Berenn OOC: Kobolds pissing on our party members? We need to find them and kill them.

    The kobolds in the trap door appear again wielding crossbows.


    Meanwhile, back in the right corridor, Noot calls over Azaer. "Azaer, come here. I have some infravision without the ring, so I can give it to you so you can see. Can you sense where the others are?" If the ring won't work then I can dig into my pack. I have some oil and a tinderbox. I can rip my cloak and construct a makeshift lamp if necessary.

    Azaer thinks to you that such would be a good idea. As you create a makeshift torch, he turns to guard the way. As soon as you light the torch, you see a strange sight. It is as if a nearly invisible wall blocks the entire passage, but it slowly moves towards you. Shining in the torchlight, you notice some metallic items suspended in the strange gelatinous wall. It touches Azaer again, burning his flesh and forcing him back.

    "Azaer," says Noot. "Check the door we came through, perhaps with your bear strength you can move the wall. I will look for trap doors or other ways out." Also, Noot pours oil on the moving cube and lights it once he sees what is going on.

    As the cube burns, Noot plugs his nose. "Let's wait for the cube to cook. Reminds me of that bad dessert I got at the inn in Hommlet."

    As it starts to burn, it moves away, back up the corridor.

    Noot and Azaer push the cube back with fire. At the beginning of the corridor you find the wall have shifted, blocking passage back into the larger chamber while opening up a smaller chamber to the side. You see a trapdoor above the chamber, and with your fire can slip around beyond the cube. The slippers allow Noot to just walk up to the trap door, which he quickly opens. It is a dark corridor which travels away about 40' before reaching a T intersection. Noot drops the slippers to Azaer, who quickly puts them on and climbs up the wall to the trap door, which Noot then closes behind them.

    "Azaer," says Noot, "do you sense anything in either direction?"

    "Doesn't really work that way! I have to see something to contact it."

    "Well then let's continue down to the T and I'll peek around the corners."

    The corridor is about 5' square, and Noot hears kobold voices down around the corner, though which way is hard to tell.

    "Azaer, left or right?"

    "Doesn't matter to me!" he replies with a smile.

    Azaer will shift to bear form and be ready to fight. He will follow Noot and if they get into trouble he will attack. If they see kobolds and they try to flee he will contact and attemt to dominate one of them. Then follow up with noots instructions for what to do with the fellow!

    Azaer leaps out and mauls two kobolds, killing them instantly. Two more literally bounce off him, falling back to the ground in a heap.


    In the other corridor, since the trap doesn't seem to be resetting itself, Thorgrim says, "Berenn! Let's pursue these kobolds! We need to reset this trap! Gotrek, you too! Hepla, hold your position and wait for the party, if you please. Cast yourself some Continual Light if you need to see. We'll be back shortly."

    Thorgrim OOC: If Berenn doesn't want to delve deeper into the dungeon without the rest of the party, that's cool. Thorgrim would then cast Find Traps himself. If Gotrek wants to stay behind, that's cool, too. It's not a bad idea to leave a protector behind with Hepla.

    "We should be able to hear if the trap resets itself. If it doesn't, it's probably up to us."

    Hepla takes out her quarts with continual light, the dim one from ToEE.

    The others head down the hallway. It goes for about 100', before opening up into a larger room. The dwarves realize that the passage slopes down such that after 100' you've dropped down maybe another 25' feet. Combined with the first slope, that's about 50' deeper than where you started. The 100' passage opens into a HUGE area. It's 100' wide and continues as far as you can see, which is only 60 with infravision. There are huge columns supporting a ceiling about 50' high, with complicated arches at the top to support the weight.

    DM OOC: It looks something like this, though not exactly, obviously. There's no exit right ahead. I just wanted to give you an idea of what is looks like.

    Gotrek OOC: Yes, I know. I was a bit premature last time.

    Gotrek looks around, and chuckles. "And they call THIS a mine! A MINE!"

    "This isn't a mine," says Berenn. "It's a tomb."

    [They just couldn't help it with the quotes!]

    "Ah, this is what I was afraid of," says Thorgrim. "It reminds me of the Great Hall of my blessed Dorob Kilthduum. This is the perfect spot for an ambush, so be very careful. We can't leave Hepla behind, when our enemies have such easy access to her, and can see twice as far as she can. You two scout on if you feel like it. I shall return to Hepla and see if I can work on the trap from this side."

    The other follow as well, knowing that further advances as it is are not a good idea.

    Thorgrim returns to Hepla, who is frustrated by her unsuccessful search for secret doors. She tries to polymorph into a will-o-wisp, but she just can't figure that out. Hepla tries to turn into a mouse, and finds that works. With a "squeek, little giggle, sqieek" she gives a little twitch of her whiskers and disappears into the crack. She goes into the gap on the floor, and drops about 6". She feels herself along, as there's no light at all. She is crawling over and around a bunch of iron balls. [she's in the ball-bearing area, between the room and wall, which allows the room to spin around.]

    Isilme OOC: you will be dead if that trap moves now.....

    DM OOC: nd here I thought you were Hepla's friend, giving the DM such an evil idea.... Actually, I thought of that a LONG time ago! I just don't know if I want to be good or evil.

    She starts to be able to see, and can continue moving until she comes to the end of the bearings. There is a bit of a gap and a steep ledge ahead. She continues to it, and finds herself at the edge of the bearing area, about 25' above the floor. Taki is below her, looking bored.


    In the trap, Elrae sets Emyn on the side of the steps, and fires magic missiles at the two kobolds. He hits them both, blasting them back into the area beyond the trap door. Two more step up to the edge and fire crossbows at him. One hits him [4] and the other hits him for [12]. He falls unconscious, hanging motionless in the air.

    The kobolds cackle happily, "Hoowah!" they yell. "Gug'yu shara mojo." They then begin to reload their crossbows.

    Hepla heard Elrae shout, now hear some kobold yells.

    Emyn gets his bow out and will start shooting the kobolds. He misses as they fire again, also missing. Emyn almost slips on the precarious surface.

    Taki stands helplessly at the bottom of the trap, with no apparent way up. He searches the bottom for secret doors. Meanwhile, Emyn fires another arrow, which misses the kobolds, bouncing off the ceiling next to the trapdoor. The kobolds each fire crossbows, one hitting Emyn [5]. They duck back and two more fire, both missing. Emyn fires another arrow, hitting one kobold [2].

    Meanwhile, Emyn fires again at a kobold, hitting it in the face [6] and killing it. The other kobold fires and hits him for [5] while the other two step out and fire, one hitting him [3]. He then take another shot and misses.

    [This is where Hepla showed up inside the trap.]

    Hepla shifts to bird for and flies up to Elrae. Turning into Dragon form, she pulls him to the stair. It takes a full round to change shape, so she has to change back into her human form, to access her potion. Unfortunately, while she is doing that, Elrae dies in her arms, exhaling his last breath.

    Meanwhile, Emyn, who could have saved Elrae had he tried. Rather, he left him hanging there while he fired arrows, and Elrae bled to death. Now he gets hit by a kobold for a triple-damage critical [15]. It strikes him hard, and he loses his balance, falling off the precarious step faces. He hits the ground below, taking [49] on impact. The other kobold fires at Hepla, hitting her but not hurting her due to her Protection from Normal Missiles spell. Taki sees Emyn's neck break when he hits the floor with a sickening crunch.

    DM OOC: Ouch! That was a brutal damage roll I made for Emyn. He fell just over 40', and took EXACTLY enough to hit -10 (after the critical hit by the kobold.) That's just some bad luck there.

    Berenn OOC: OOC: Geez kobolds killed to characters ... what is wrong with this picture? We need to gather what we can from the dead and leave. This was a really bad idea.

    Hepla flies down to ground to pick up Taki, as the kobolds fire about 4 more bolts at her. A couple would have hit, but they just bounce away. Seeing that she's protected by some kind of magic, they slam the trapdoor shut.

    Hepla casts Fly on Taki, who picks up his maul, flies up to the trap door, and smashes it apart. As he enters, the half-dozen kobolds in the room take off running. Half go left, half go right. The ones that go right run into Azaer, in bear form, and get rent apart by him. In this room you find some levers and gears and stuff. Azaer and Noot come down the corridor and find Taki in the room. Noot finds that he can use the level to reset the trap. After collecting Emyn and Elrae, along with any of their gear that survived, the do just that.

    Isilme OOC: The "heroes" of hommlet- heads low in shame, smashed by some measly little kobolds.

    Gotrek reels as if hit by a giant. Elrae and Emyn. Dead. And Gotrek blames himself. He was one of the more vocal persons expressing a desire to continue on here. And his companions have payed the ultimate price for his desire to kill. He howls in anger.

    "Leave this tomb. I will avenge our friends, or die trying. I shall seek revenge for our companions Elrae and Emyn. And for Elrae's widow and child!"

    He looks grimly around. "Everyone else, leave this place. Heal me what you can, before you depart. Assist me with spells/potions/oils. Death now walks these tunnels. Whether that Death be me, or the enemy, only time can tell. But time WILL tell!"

    Gotrek looks down at Goreblade. He snarls. He has not been the wielder this weapon deserves. He hands the weapon to Thorgrim. "Find someone worthy of this. It seems Clangeddin was wrong." He now wields Stoncrusher, and magical shield.

    Thorgrim accepts the Goreblade.

    "Thank you, friend. I know not what the gods will. I will use it to avenge the fallen." He offers Gotrek his potion of regeneration. "I have this. It will save your life even if you are an inch from death."

    He will then cast two CLW on Gotrek, and put his pick away.

    Hepla goes up to Gotrek. "In my desire for revenge, I forgot Isilme and her being in the Eitherial. If we are all killed who will help her? Gotrek, if the gods do not want us to do this now perhaps we should reconsider. It is not the nasty Kolblads that are deadly to us, it is the great skill of you dwarves. You build so well that the kobolds can be the pesty scangers killing the trapped lions. I do believe we need to come back here beter prepared and rested and restore this place to a dwarven clan. You have nothing to be ashamed of and you should be proud that the dwarves who built this did such a great job."

    "I'm not leaving here until our friends' deaths are avenged or I am too weak to fight on." says Thorgrim. "The kobolds must pay for their audaciousness."

    "What audaciousness?" says Berenn. "Defending their home? We are the interlopers here. We should leave now, before more die."

    "I stand by Gotrek," says Thorgrim resolutely.

    Looking at the dwarves Azaer nods, "Its time to rest up and regroup. Hepla has no spells. We've little healing left. And we have two dead companions. Lets think about things before coming back. A plan is what will be required to re-enter. A good one!"

    Thorgrim OOC: Haha we had a good plan, painstakingly pieced together.

    Isilme OOC: Your fighting kobolds who have sound tactics. Your not an army, you don't have the manpower to secure an area once you have cleared it. These guys will just hit and recede, from every side, catching you in traps if possible. they have numbers on their side, and see you as a superior force - they are not just going to stand in front of you so you can kill them. If they somehow manage to get you to split up again, more death will follow.

    "Yes," says Hepla. "Let us retreat, rest, then come back and get our revenge."

    The dwarves look at each other, and Gotrek nods. Thorgrim hands him back Goreblade. "You'll be needing this my friend." Gotrek takes it without speaking, then heads sullenly back towards the entrance. The rest of the party follows, and they return to the tower. None even seem to notice the howling wind and rain as they return.

    Urgal spends some time with Thorgrim and Gotrek, discussing the passed day's events. He recommends that you leave well enough alone. The dwarves left this area a long time ago, when the humanoids swarmed over the Pomarj. There is no reason to waste lives to clear an old dwarven hall that you're simply going to abandon to humanoids once again.

    "Let it be," he says. "There's been enough death here, and we have a greater charge besides. We must protect these people and see them to safety."

    Thorgrim takes some Gutshaker out of his portable hole and sits down with Urgal and Gotrek, pouring them each a mug. "We've a long road ahead, me boys. Let us leave this accursed land and never return."

    Gotrek just sits there, quietly drinking his gutshaker. He doesn't say anything, but he doesn't argue.

    Kobolds: 3
    Party: 0 (and 2 dead!)

    [So, the party did indeed decide to not return to the kobold fortress. Thus ends what they thought would be a quick Side Trek to get a handful of EXP for a couple characters to move up a level. That'll teach them!]
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:31 am  
    The Slavers - Part 14 (On the Road Again)

    [The party returned, licking their wounds. The Emyn player created a new PC, and I introduced her from amongst the slaves they had freed. Her name is Ali the Curious, a half-elven mage. Ali is one of the slaves who was staring blankly off into space. Those slaves are starting to come around now. About half are back to normal, with no memory of what happened. The last thing they remember is being taken from their cells.]

    A half-elven woan with red hair and a rather provocative but badly worn dress comes tp speak with the party as they are conferring. She asks, "I was wondering if you might have use for a mage and inventor? I have lost all my equipment to the slavers but maybe I can be of some use? My name is Alli the Curious from Perrenland."

    Hepla looks up and says,"Welcome, where did you run into the slavers and why are you in this area. giggle. Sorry, want some food?"

    Alli says, "Thank you, Hepla. I was among the people you rescued from Markessa. I am afraid I was adventuring in the area with my party but they were killed by a black pudding. I managed to get away, using a fireball to kill it but I was caught not long thereafter by the slavers. They took everything I owned, even my spellbooks and my inventing equipment. I don't think I will ever get those things back. If there is some way to loan me some extra equipment until I get my own, I would appreciate it. It doesn't need to be magical or anything but I feel a little vulnerable. As a fellow mage, what I would really love to have is access to some papaer and your magical ink for writing spells. With my spellbooks gone, I need to put what I know to papaer as soon as I can lest I lose the knowledge by copying spell you might have that I also know. I will try my best to get the otehr spells that I knwo and tradesome in return for any help you can provide."

    Noot offers her a dagger. "I wish I had more clothing, but my cloak got ripped up a bit."

    She gives Noot a kiss on the cheek and accepts the dagger, putting it in a sheath built into the bodice of her dress.

    Hepla gives her a dagger as well, the nonmagical one. She says, "You are welcome to use my spell books, until you find some of your own. I have a dress that might fit you, we are almost the same size, it might be tight on top but I can help you alter it with my cantrips of sewing."

    "I don't mind tight clothing," she replies. "It keeps the boys interested. Thank you, Hepla."

    Hepla giggles, "It doesn't take much to keep these boys interested."

    "As long as being interested means they do what I want," says Ali. "I have no problem with that," she whispers to Hepla.

    Hepla looks at the party and says,"I believe I can fly to Verbobonc in about a week. I am hoping that there I can get the high priest to get Ilsilme out of the Ethereal and maybe even bring back one or both of our firiends. Then, at worst it will take me, or us, at least a week to fly back here." She looks around, "Any suggestions? Now that we have a new mage I feel better leaving you."

    Thorgrim has put the bodies into his portable hole, after the party sees to some kind of preservation (I forget how, maybe priest spells from the Netbook?) He doesn't say anything at first, silently brooding over the kobolds. Ali keeps herself out of that discussion, as she feels it is not her place. She never really knew either of them well.

    "I think we should try to get them raised," says Noot. "We need the manpower, especially if, even with them, we can get ourselves run over by a bunch of little nasty kobalds.
    Hepla, please bring back some ale!"

    "Are you taking our dead with you, then?" says Thorgrim. "Use the Locker or something. We'll be moving on towards Ulek. But don't worry--a group this large shouldn't be too hard to find."

    Alli says, "Oh, I wish I still had my blueprints for my perambulator. We could have built one and perambulated to this village you call Hommlet."

    Everyone looks at her like she's crazy.

    Isilme OOC: Isilme is ready to risk experiment with the chest and try to get the hell out of limbo. Two have her friends have already died.

    Moonday, 17 Fireseek (CY 581)
    The next day dawns, but it is another bad day. The storm continues to rage for the third straight day. You keep hunkered down, and by around noon the rain stops and the winds begin to die down. You can probably get a half-day's march in if you take off shortly thereafter.

    Berenn takes his griffons out for a flight, and they grab a small pig which they happily eat. He doesn't notice any sign of pursuit, nor of anything moving in these dry hills. The flash floods have totally ended now that the rain has stopped.

    Hepla will share spell components with Ali. She will have been studying a spell when its time to go. As it is very wet she will ask if she can ride one of the griffins.

    When Alli hears about teh griffons, she becomes quite interested. "I always wanted to make a device that could fly. I never could figure out how to make it work though."

    Thorgrim, still quiet, takes down the tower. The party begins trekking west, towards Ulek.

    Hepla approches the griffon she rode before and sees if he remembers her. It is hard to say, but it rebuffs her, not letting her ride it.

    Berenn OOC: Rags has made the griffons more tempermental so only I can ride them ... blame him for reading up on griffons!

    DM OOC: Not just you, but they resent being treated like horses, which is normally their food! So yeah, they won't be just anyone's mounts anymore!

    The party travels well that day, with Berenn circling about them keeping watch from above. They do not run into any trouble, and make pretty good progress. Eventually, they find another good place to camp, set up the tower, and pass another night.

    Gotrek is in a foul mood too, and is not talking to anyone. Hepla looks at Gotrek and knows he's got to find him a reason for life, soon. She will sit with him for an hour, in case he wants to talk. She will be silent until he says something. When he doesn't, she starts to sudy her spells.

    Noot sits down next to Ali. " Alli, before you were here in this area, where did you come from? Did you ever sail? I spent a lot of time at sea. I miss seeing whales and dolphins and the sunset over the ocean."

    "I come from eastern Perrenland," she says, "near the town of Traft. There are often boats on Lake Quag. There is a lot fo fishing there. I learned to swim there too. We didn't have whales and dolphins though. The lake is very large but it is fresh water. There were many fish and the river that flows past Verbobonc can count the lake as its source. I have been on a few boats but never an ocean-going vessel. I'd like to do that some day. Maybe I could figure out a way for them to dive underwater do we could explore the ocean depths!"

    They make smalltalk until Berenn returns with some game for dinner. Hepla, after an hour with Gotrek, helps with dinner. The ex-slaves should be able to do some of their own cooking by now. After dinner she tells everyone a story about heros and adventure and romance before going to sleep till midnight when she will go out to try and look at the stars for a few minutes. She will not go far from the door.

    The weather is cold, but at least it stays dry. The party sets up watches, and they have another uninterrupted sleep.

    Godsday, 18 Fireseek, CY 581
    You pass another uneventful night. In the morning you are relieved to find that there is almost no wind, though it is yet cloudy and cold, maybe 30* out. You have only a couple more days of food for everyone. You continue west at first light. You break at noon, and Berenn scouts around a bit. He spots some orcs to the south, but that's it. It also looks like the hills open up to the southwest. There's a large valley, maybe 10 miles wide, with a river flowing through it.

    Going over the map you found in Markessa's lab, you figure you are roughly in the small hex above the number 6, which is the intersection of the three larger hexes. BTW, the large hexes correspond to the 30mile hexes from the world map. The small hexes are thus about 10 miles each.

    Map found in Markessa's lab.

    The numbers correspond to the areas controlled by various humanoid tribes in the region. I can tell you what any particular ones are, just ask. Also, Markessa's fortress was in the hills just south of 13 which is the Hill Beater goblins. You have to skirt around the valley of the Wicked Eye goblins (26). I'll just list what some of them in the area are:

    12. Green Meat kobolds
    24. Victorious Flinds
    5. Blue Eye gnolls
    14. Jagged Blade orcs
    6. Cracked Skull orcs
    15. Meat Eater hobgoblins
    18. Puss Dripper hobgoblins
    1. Black Tongue gnolls
    9. Dripping Eye hobgoblins


    "So it looks like if we head due west, we should avoid most of the danger," says Ali. "I suggest the clerics consider using their create food and water spells to feed folks to supplement the food we have."

    DM OOC: Being 7th level, they can cast create food/water (3rd level spell) and create enough of both for 21 people. You have roughly 100, so it'll take two castings each/per day. After another day, this may be what they have to do. Luckily, Icar's soldiers brought a couple pack horses with feed, for theirs and for your 10 horses, and you still have another 4 days of that. They also have their own rations for another 10 days, so they will be ok. Hopefully, you can make it to Ulek by then.

    Berenn will continue to scout ahead and hunt with the griffons. He wonders how many orcs there are to the south? Maybe killing some orcs will cheer up Gotrek, he thinks.

    The group continues to the west. Berenn spots a group of about fifty orcs, but he guide the group around them. They don't tell Gotrek. After another uneventful day, they find another secluded spot to place the tower. There they get ready to pass another night. Berenn reports that you are maybe about 5 miles from the big valley he spotted earlier.

    Hepla approaches Berenn and says that she still wants to fly with his griffins but understands that they are not horses, so she will polymorph self into a griffin so she can fly with them. She just wants him to know so they don't attack the new griffin. Unless he objects she will morph in front of the griffins and fly with them for 2 hours then return to the party. On her way back she will hunt and return the kill for their dwindeling food supply.

    "I will explain what is happening," he says. "I doubt they will mind you turning into a griffon and flying with them."

    Once you make camp, Berenn takes Ra and Thoth hunting, accompanied by Hepla polymorphed into a griffon herself. Berenn casts Speak with Animals and convinces them that she's ok. They seem annoyed at first, then amused as they watch her fly. Unfortunately, you find nothing while hunting that day.

    After dark you return to the tower, and Hepla begins to work with Isilme on her return. Isilme has come up with a plan, though it is, perhaps, risky. Here's the plan:

    Step 1. Summon the chest, write letter to Hepla and place it in chest. She then takes off all equipment her equipment except her amulet of Proof Against Detection, and places all of it in the chest, which Hepla can summon back to her on Oerth.

    Step 2. Once I see Helpa has read the note and removed all items from the chest and sent it back, I will open it up and get inside, casting diminution if needed.

    Step 3. Wait for hepla to summon the chest back to Oerth and cross my fingers!

    Isilme is still wearing her darksuit, so as to not be naked, and is wearing the amulet of non-detection with the Hebrew amulet in her pouch. She is pretty sure Leomunds Secret Chest spell fails with a living being within it, but isn't sure what the results will be, since Leomund's Labile Locker is not a spell, but a magic item. She hopes that when she opens the chest, she will see Hepla's smiling face.....

    When Hepla finally tries to call the chest, nothing happens. She keeps trying, and suddenly, there's the chest. Opening it up she finds a short little version of Isilme within!

    Hepla says,"Welcome back my friend, sorry, I seem to have shrunk you." She reaches down to help Isilme out of the chest.

    She laughs, explaining that she cast a Shrink spell upon herself, so that the chest would be more comfortable. She wonders what took so long though. "I've been in the damn thing for over 5 hours!"

    Only a little over 1/2 an hour passed for you guys, so you assume it must be something about the nature of the Ethereal.

    "Ahh, time pases at a different rate in the eitherial then here. good to know. That would be a 10 to 1 ratio." Hepla says.

    "Good to know," says Isilme.

    Isilme is in good spirits. She ends her spell, then gives Hepla a huge hug. "I thought I would be trapped there forever. It was frustrating to see your trials in the Kobold lair and not be able to help. Even with a 10 to 1 time ratio, we need to get the bodies of our friends to a priest quickly. As it stands we have the head of Gold Markessa and the body of Black Markessa that I need to deal with, and our friends Elrae and the paladin Emyn. I think the two of us should make all haste to the nearest city. If we can't find a priest to raise them there, then I will take them back to Hommlet or Verbobonc where I can get the priests of Tritherion can help."

    "I'll go with you," says Urgal. "I know people in Ulek."

    Hepla agrees. She will bow to the griffins before becoming one again. She also takes something out of her backpack and hands it to Thorgrim (later he will notice it all her rations, that will help a little). Finally she looks at Urgal and says," This will be my first time carring someone. You will be the first to ride me, I hope it is enjoyable for you." With that she morphs and Griffon/Hepla kneels so he can mount her.

    Alli (in griffon form) is also able to assist as needed. However, Hepla is not eager for all the mages to be gone from the party, even for a few days. Ali thus decides to stay.

    Isilme can fly on Hepla's back, with Urgal. You need to put most of yours and his gear into the Locker so that the weight is kept down, but then it won't be a problem. If you're good with that, then Hepla can fly off with Isilme and Urgal while the rest of the party proceeds on foot.

    "You girls remember to study your spellbooks, now," says Thorgrim. "Godspeed to you on your journey."

    "Thanks," says Hepla. "To you as well. We'll see you in Ulek."

    So they set off on what they believe is a dirrect line for the city. Hepla had studied her maps and is following a route that should give them the best chance of good landing spots.

    Waterday, 19th Fireseek, CY 581
    You pass another uneventful night, and in the crisp morning air take your leave of each other. With an extra blanket each for Isilme and Urgal (I'm sure taken from somebody!) they mount Hepla and are off. The rest of the group is led further through the hills by Berenn. A large party of orcs is seen in the valley, so he has to take you along the valley's edge for some time. Yes, I know Gotrek wants to go kill something. The fact is, you are leading 100 refugees through VERY hostile territory and really can't be getting into fights with the native humanoids. Rather, you avoid them whenever possible, and that's Berenn's job.

    You travel for half the day, until you reach the point one small hex SE of the circled #1 on the map, pretty much at the head of that big valley. That number represents the territory of the Black Tongue Gnolls. Berenn reports a LOT of gnolls in that area, hundreds.

    The party decides to circle around them and give them a wide berth. About two hours later, Berenn flies back to the group. There's a large gorge up ahead, which cuts right across your line of march. "We will have to circle around even more to cross it, go back the way we came, or do something else altogether."

    It looks like this, without the water!

    Berenn reports that it is big, far too wide to cross without some magical means. The western edge (the picture side) is a small valley where the gnolls have their "village." That's a few miles to the west of where you are, though you still have another couple of miles to go before you actually would reach the gorge. The other end is at least 10 miles away, maybe more. He didn't have time to scout that far. There is also no good secluded place around here to use the tower, so if you stay here, you'll be camping out, unless you want to set up the tower more in the open. The party pushes further, going along the gorge and away from the gnoll valley.

    Taki finds a small glen with a pond just beyond a small knoll. You can set the tower up there, and with watches kept on the knoll, you should be able to see anyone approaching before they can spot the tower. Icar's men can form a mounted patrol about 1/4 mile out. Taki offers to stand watch on the knoll.

    Berenn returns about 4 hours later, just as it's getting dark. He reports that the end of the gorge is about 15 more miles to the NE. It'll take you nearly a full day's travel to get to the end, and then another to get back, roughly two extra days if you try to go around that way.

    "I don't think that gorge is impassible," says Noot. "I have lots of rope and I know some others have rope. I have the spider slippers and I can climb down and up and pull a rope and we should be able to fabricate a crude bridge to get everyone across."

    "The problem is,," says Berenn. "We may have enough rope to tie it all together like when we sneaked into Markessa's fortress, but we don't have enough to make a bridge. We've also got women, children, feebleminded people (not everyone has come around yet), horses; you just can't get them across without some other kind of aid."

    "We need extra scouting parties tomorrow," says Thorgrim. "Any place a path is constricted or the way forced is a good spot for an ambush."

    Gotrek grunts. The rest of the party heed this. It is the first sign of communication in about 2 days.

    "I will stand watch first, Taki. Go get get some well earned sleep."

    Thorgrim takes Gotrek aside. He passes him his potion of regeneration. "My friend, if you're thinking of doing something bold, take this with you. You can drink it if you get in water that's too deep for you. Would you like me to stand first watch with you?"

    Gotrek doesn't answer, but Thorgrim sits with him anyway, taking out his pipe and sharing it with Gotrek. "After a meal there's nothing like a good smoke," he says.

    Hepla, Isilme, and Urgal
    OK, you guys fly quite a ways. You fly half the day, only stopping briefly to rest, have Isilme remove your fatigue, then you can continue. You don't have any encounters on the way and by nightfall reach the river. Urgal leads you to the bend in the Jewel River, where the river from the Pomarj meets it; there's a small town on the west bank.

    If Urgal has any suggestion as to an inn we will go there otherwise we will ask the gate guard for an inn. Hepla lands in a sacluded spot about a mile away and morphs back to herself and we walk the last mile.

    You are approaching the town of Keeltenen. The town lies on a hillock overlooking of the Jewel River. Its ideal position allowed it to control the River and the valley towards the Pomarj, the historic enemy of the Keeltenen barons even before the Pomarj was overrun by humanoids. The walls cover a length of 2000' and are alternated by 14 towers and two gates. The Senese gate rises at the base of a tower while that toward the River is opened in the curtain and defended from one of the towers of the fortified perimeter. There is a small, fortified dockyard along the bank of the river, at the foot of the hill, where trading vessels from Thunderstrike can safely put in, as well as a base for the Principality's river galleys.


    You enter through the far gate (from the pic above) after Urgal speaks with the two dwarven guards. You enter, and find yourselves in a main courtyard.


    There is a church on your right, and straight ahead is a tavern and inn, the Dented Mug. The church is devoted to St. Cuthbert. You meet the priest, Canon Beldin.

    "Pardon the intrussion good Canon," says Hepla, "but we have been traveling the whole day and only just arived. We bring with us the bodies of two of our friends, good men both who have saved many others from enslavemnt and worse. Can you help to bring them back to life? Or do you know the closest cleric that can help us?"

    The priest, a tall dark man with clear Flan blood, almost chokes when you mention raising the dead.

    DM OOC: I simply do not let you walk around, getting killed, then buying Raise Dead spells. Something to consider. I'm not saying it isn't possible, and you certainly can (and WILL) find magic that allows you to do it, but it's not like hiring a painter! Sorry, but that's the way it is. Don't get killed!

    Hepla, waiting to for an answer, admires his church,"I think this church is as nice as Bishop Haufren's in Verbobonic. I know he could help but that is sooo far away." she says.

    He is impressed that you know Bishop Haufren. After a short conversation in which he learns of your relationship to the venerable Bishop, he offers his services, such as they are. Of course, that doesn't include raising the dead!

    "For the moment, Canon, a prayer for our success and for the safty of the 100+ that are trying to get to safty would be my request." She leaves 25 gold in the poor box. They then head for the inn and rest for the night.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:31 am  
    The Slavers - Part 15 (The Fortress of Karacang)

    The Slavers - Part 15

    Earthday, 20th Fireseek, CY 581
    It stayed relatively warm last night, only reaching about 40*. The Log of Everburning creates a nice fire with which you can take turns getting warm. The night passes uneventfully. [Man, you guys luck out on these wandering monster rolls! :( ]

    You all awake to another decent day. It is partly cloudy, with a very slight breeze (4mph) from the SE. You take off towards the far end of the gorge and make good time. It takes nearly all day to reach the far end. You meander your way down the side of the steep, rocky hill, and come out at the source of the gorge.

    A small stream rushes through the center of the floor, however, all the ground around is wet. Taki explains about flash floods, very common in rugged hills such as these. It's a good thing you were not in this gorge a few days ago. Actually, you're not technically in the gorge, but still. :) There are three valleys further on which all drain to this point, and it seems a lot of water goes through here when it rains.

    The gorge ends at the valley of the gnoll tribe, about 15 miles back to the SW. You continue up and around the source of the gorge, and after a few hours make camp on the other side. Thogrim finds a good place to use his tower, and you can at least sleep inside this time.

    BACK in town:

    You guys awake, refreshed from a good night's rest on real beds. You find a meal prepared for you, compliments of the Canon.

    Hepla casts Magic Mirror and scries the rest of the party. She sees them walking through the hills. They seem to be ok.

    Urgal is sorry that there is no help here for your friends. If you are going to push North and return to Hommlet via flying, Urgal will stay here in the Principality of Ulek, and wait, or try to arrange for some help. He may be able to raise a band to cross into the Pomarj and help see them to safety.

    Azaers attempt to Contact Hepla, and succeeds. He then Mindlinks with her, and you find you can communicate fully, explaining what both groups have done. [Actually, having a psionic is pretty cool when you split up; you could have used him before! Anyway, this occurs at midday, after the party has began its trek around the gorge. It's just something I figured you can use to communicate, maybe plan to try this every evening at dusk from here out, so you can plan the next day and coordinate. ]

    Urgal stay in town to see about helping the others, while Isilme and Hepla use their magic to fly north, along the river. The river has an unusally high West bank, usually over 100', which is dotted with fortified villages like Keeltenen as well as true fortresses. You've never seen so many castles! It seems as if there's one every 5 miles or so. You fly over them, and make your way to Thunderstrike. You reach it just as it gets dark. It's a large town, about 15,000 people or about half the size of Verbobonc. It too sits on a hill overlooking the Jewel River, and it is very well fortified, with massive walls surrounding it. Across the river you see the vastness of the Suss Forest, spreading darkly as far as you can see.

    Just a quick view of the river walls. I actually don't intend to make a big deal about all these places unless/until I have to. Still, I'm liking throwing out quick images!

    Landing a mile away and walking the last mile Hepla and Isilme seek entrance and ask for a recomendation for an inn. They go there and ask about churchs and mages here in Thunderstrike while enjoying dinner. If there are any that sound promising we visit them after dinner.

    You find the gates closed and manned by dwarvens infantry. Hepla gets you through, speaking to them in dwarven which really impresses them. Though they look skeptically at Isilme, hidden in her cloak, and seem as if they are about to ask her to remove it when Hepla gets you passed them, sweet-talking them in their own language. They give you directions to a couple of inns. The also say that there are many wizards in Thunderstrike, and you can seek them out readily. Ask at the inn, and you can surely find who you seek.

    They find an inn, and also learn that there are about a dozen wizards here, all battle-wizards who work with the city garrison and the army in operations against humanoids from the Pomarj and Suss Forest. They have a mansion in the NW part of town were they live. You get direction for it. As for priests, there are many, as mentioned earlier. There is a large church of St. Cuthbert here.

    In the Pomarj:

    Freeday, 21st of Fireseek, CY 581
    You all awake to a crips, clear morning. Temps about 40* with a slight wind and clear skies for a change.

    The group continues their trek towards the west, staying in the hills with Berenn flying above keeping a sharp eye out for trouble. You travel throughout the day, again with no encounters! You reach the edge of the hills by nightfall. Berenn spies a ruined fortress on a bluff, overlooking the plains below. He didn't see any movement there, so it could be a good place to rest or you can avoid it and camp elsewhere.

    You make your way to the castle. It is pretty well destroyed, but looks quite ominous in the fading light as storm clouds begin to gather. Taki finds an easy way in, and the band makes its way around to the left, to the large flat courtyard.

    A second view, from that side.

    To your right and going down the slope are more ruins, seemingly an old village, curling around the hilltop surrounding the old fortress. You move around to the left, to the flat courtyard. An open doorway ahead of you with a rough wooden plank bridge goes into a large rectangular building. To the right, going up around the left side of the tower, is a rough path between the towers and a low, ruined wall.

    Thorgrim says that he can probably raise his tower in the courtyard, and it won't even be noticed, especially in the dark. The people can camp in and around it. [I made a list of the slaves a long time ago. It was darn near 100. Urgal had only 10 dwarves, and a few fell when they attacked the fortress. Losses were replaced by freed dwarven slaves. Icar had about 20 men left from his forces, all mounted men-at-arms. And of course Deric, who pledged himself to Berenn for saving his life. I just say about 100 all the time to give a round number.]

    Noot is ready to inspect the castle when there is some light. He will look for doors, traps!, passageways, etc. If he needs to climb, he will use his slippers. Taki is also going to take off and investigate the place.

    The building off the courtyard is pretty large, with some nice shuttered windows overlooking the valley below. You notice that they have been repaired recently, though they retain a more-or-less ruined appearance. A firepit in the center could be used to provide warmth, while the smoke escapes through the half-ruined ceiling. There is a pile of wood along one wall. Taki will search around the main building making sure it is safe. There's nobody there, though it seems somebody has been there recently. Berenn could tell more, when he returns from hunting with Ra and Thoth.

    Meanwhile Noot puts on his slippers and spider climbs up the nearest tower. He climbs up the side, and peeks in through the window. The inside of the tower is totally collapsed, with a pile of debris at the bottom and open sky up above.

    Taki calls out to Noot, who is halfway up the tower. He waves and comes back down. Taki tells him what he wants, for Noot to check for trap doors going down in this building while Taki will go search the others starting with the next largest building. Noot agrees, going into the building while Taki walks up the path around the towers towards the center of the ruins.

    As Taki searches the ruins, Thorgrim sets up his tower. You get the people inside, while some of Icar's men set off on a patrol. The dwarves set up watches around the tower.

    Azaer gets set to communicate with Hepla, when Ali gets his attention. She has noticed bones littering the ground, half buried beneath the soil and weeds. They are human bones, dismembered by violence and time, the one-time defenders of this place.

    Taki then hears a strange, eerie moan from out of the darkness ahead. Actually, everyone hears it. Noon slips quickly into the shadows, and about this time Berenn flies down and lands in the courtyard next to the tower, depositing a pig on the ground. He hears the moan, and he immediately takes flight again, leaving the pig on the ground.

    Berenn takes off on Ra, circling the towers and seeking the source of the strange moan. Noot was in the building searching for secret doors and such. Thorgrim and Gotrek were sharing some gutshaker in the tower itself. Ali was back in the courtyard with Azaer, examining the bones they found. It seems they are scattered all over the place.

    When Thorgrim hears the moans he will go outside to group with the party and see what's going on. He says to Gotrek, "Come on, buddy. There may be danger here."

    Gotrek and Thorgrim go outside, along with two other dwarves who were having a drink with them. The rest can't handle the Gutshaker! Outside they find Ali already heading up the path, hand outstretched and "scanning" the area. Azaer looks back as you exit the tower, then nods nervously.

    Taki is by himself, walking around the western side of the towers. Suddenly a stone flies out of the darkness, striking Taki [6].

    He looks around in the direction from whence it came, the ruined building off to his right. His maul glowing with continual light, he charges into the building, which is just the bottom floor of an old tower. The upper stories are all collapsed, and the floor is a pile of rubble. As he enters, he sees the ghostly form of a man with strange armor, wielding an old longsword. The glowing white eyes bore into Taki.

    Taki feels the strength ebb from him before the ghostly apparition. [His str drops 3 (to 18/51), his Dex drops 4 (to 11), and his Con drops 3 (to 14). The CON drops robs him of his Con bonus hit points, resulting in a drop of 21 hit points, lowering his total HP from 75 to 54. I'll mark all this on the Combat Notes thread.]

    Taki yells "why do you do this to me, I have done nothing to you at all."

    The ghost's reply is another mournful moan, as he glides towards Taki.

    Everyone hears Taki shout. They head towards the sound, and in fact see the light of his maul. He stands in the doorway to a partially collapsed tower along the rear of the ruined castle.

    The ghost moves towards Taki and seems to actually try to enter him, but Taki, with the steel resolve of his people, resists the attempt. The ghost's eyes briefly flare a bright red.

    Berenn lands behind Taki, about 20' away on the edge of the light. The rest must move up along the ruined path still. Only Berenn can actually see beyond Taki and into the room, so only he can see the ghost.

    "Taki," calls Ali, unable to actually see the ghost. "What's wrong?"

    Taki yells, "Some kind of foul undead thing," as he steps forward, swinging his maul. It flows right through the creature, whose forms seems almost like wisps of fog and then coalesces once again.

    Berenn leaps off Ra and moves forward, holding out the symbol of St. Cuthbert. He feels the effects of the frightful apparition [STR -3, DEX -3, CON -1] with the accompanied effects. His attempts to turn it fail.

    The burning gaze of the thing causes a further [15 damage to Taki and a loss of 4 CHA] while Berenn takes [8 damage and -3 CHA].

    DM OOC: By the end of this round, everyone else has reached the area. Taki is just inside the doorway, with Berenn just outside the doorway. The rest of the party, Ali in front, followed by Gotrek and Thorgrim, and then Azaer are another 20' back or so. Ali can see the ghost inside the tower now, though those behind her cannot.

    Ali feels the deathly weakness brought on by the thing, but she somehow resists it.

    Taki turns and runs out, hating the idea of fleeing, but not knowing what else to do. He ducks aside as multi-colored bolts fly from Ali's fingertips, streaking into the apparition. Her mouth falls open as thy fly right through it and into the night beyond.

    Berenn turns and runs, leaping onto Ra's back. The griffon grunts, but seeing the ghost itself, it immediately flies off with Berenn.

    The ghost passes out of the doorway, stopping in the open and wailing. Azaer turns and flees back down the path.

    Gotrek and Thorgrim shrug off the effects of the weakness as well as the fear, and both move forward. Gotrek attacks the ghost, hitting with Goreblade and apparently causing some harm to the thing as a high-pitched wail escapes its ethereal lips. Thorgrim tries his luck at turning, holding for his own symbol, but to no avail.

    Thorgrim casts Negative Plane Protection upon Gotrek, just as the ghost swings its blade at Gotrek. The blade passes right through him, though he feels a strange chill as it does. Gotrek attacks the Ghost, Goreblade slicing through it trailing wisps of ghost-stuff.

    Taki turns and attacks again, embarrassed for having run. As he does so, Ali casts Dispel Magic on the creature. Neither Taki's maul nor the Dispel Magic have any effect. Berenn flies off, circling around one of the towers.

    Suddenly the thing shrieks, and you see Noot, standing on the wall of the tower behind the ghost, having backstabbed it with his Black Knife (+3 dagger).

    Noot backs up the wall using his Slippers of Spider Climbing, which really looks strange to everyone how he just walks on the vertical surface as if on solid ground! The ghost then starts to float up in the air, as Gotrek and Taki swing ineffectively at it. It is heading for the remains of the ruined keep. Thorgrim casts his Protection from Evil 10' radius spell, as the ghost slowly fades away with faint moan.

    "Ali, stay close, and do not engage that thing in melee," says Thorgrim.

    Berenn will return and land. "We need to be prepared to cast protection spells if the apparition decides to return," he says. "Hopefully all its effects are temporary." Berenn will use his Rod of Xodal and heal Taki.

    Taki looks up at Berenn and says, "thank you for the healing, maybe next time you can join in the fight."

    Thorgrim strides out into the open and calls out, "Why did you attack our party? How did you come to be this way? Perhaps we can help your soul to rest?" He is met by foreboding silence.

    Thorgrim will regroup with the party, telling them to all hang tough in the Fortress.

    "Oftentimes these creatures attack the living for no better reason than their own misery, and lack of anything else to do, and consequent hatred of all life," he says. "There may be a way we can avoid further encounters, or possibly help this miserable soul to escape the twisted fate he has endured for long centuries. Be not so swift to attack this time," he says. We may be able to parley. And attempted Possession is not necessarily an attack, but sometimes the only way to communicate."

    He will then return to the ruins, alone, and wait until his spell is due to expire before returning to the group. "I await an answer!" he shouts. "I mean you no harm, unless you choose to attack again!"

    Though the ghost does not return, a strong breeze begins to blow. An eerie moan, different than that of the ghost, is carried with it. Thorgrim follows the sound to one of the crumbled walls. It is coming intermittently from an old skull lying in the rubble. It has a hole in it from an arrow wound, and that seems to be causing the sound. Thorgrim kicks the bones so they don't whistle and repeat his former questions.

    When there is no reply, Thorgrim returns. "Time to rest," he says. "Taki, a watchman is supposed to give warning, not take out intruders single-handed," Thorgrim says. Then he beds down for the night.

    "Taki is no bodies watchman," replies the hillman. "I was exploring the ruins, know your place dwarf and mind your own affairs." With that Taki walks away, though Thorgrim has already turned away himself.

    With some seemingly hard feelings going around, the party files off to sleep. Guards are posted, with the dwarves keeping a close nightwatch.

    During the night, you are awakened by a scream, followed by a loud thud outside. It is during a shift in which two of Icar's men and a dwarf are on watch above. One thing you find is that the horses and griffons are more comfortable away from the ruins. The horses are kept down the hill a bit, with half the men. Ra and Thoth can be calmed by Berenn, and they sleep in a sheltered spot in the courtyard. A couple dwarves and men take station in the building, overlooking the plain.

    Everyone inside the tower, which is everyone else, wakes up at the scream. Taki goes outside, joining a few others plus the rest of the party. They find one of Icar's men facedown on the ground, dead. You then hear a scream above, and looking up, you see another man leap over the edge of the tower. The man slams into the ground about 10' away with a sickening crack! He is killed instantly when his head hits a large rock.

    Ali casts levitate while a couple other guys check out the dead. The rest, weapons drawn, fan out. At the top of the tower a dwarf leans over the edge and look down. The ghost reappears, floating overhead, and moans again, a long haunting wail. All but the dwarves run in panic, with some men going back inside the tower but the others (about 5) running away down the hill. Those who remain are weakened by it's fearsome appearance. Ra and Thoth also take flight, getting away from the phantasm before Berenn can grab them!

    "Azaer, contact it with your mind," yells Ali. "Maybe you can get through to it!"

    Taki picks up a rock and throws it, but it just flies right through the ghost. Azaer tries to contact the thing. He concentrates, and then sags to his knees, exhausted and shaken.

    Thorgrim and Berenn immediately cast Negative Plane Protection upon themselves.

    Ami casts a fireball, which explodes in the air around the the ghost. Noot slips around to the other side of the tower as the blast slowly dissipates. The ghost is gone.

    "It seem that fireball is effective against this ghost," says Ali. "I will remain up the entire night on watch until we can move on in the morning."

    "Yes, but please don't damage the Tower," replies Thorgrim. "It's irreparable. Looks like there was no helping that poor soul. If it returns we should send someone to the Ethereal to slay it there with ease," says Thorgrim.

    DM OOC: Oh, the irony. You used to have an ethereal party member....

    Back inside, the people are frightened. Icar goes back inside to calm them down while the dwarves look to Thorgrim and Gotrek. Gotrek tells them to go after the men who ran away down the hill, and they take off.

    Meanwhile, you find that the two dwarves who were supposed to be patrolling outside are nowhere to be found.

    You suddenly hear a ghost shriek from around the backside of the tower. Before you can circle around, you see Noot running down the wall and around towards you!

    Noot is running and yelling! "The ghost is back up on the tower!!"

    Hyril says, "Everyone calm down, lets pull everyone into our tower out away from the ruins - figure this out rationally before more of our valiant heroes meet their death needlessly. We know this is the the Fortress of Karacang. It was thrown down nearly a hundred years ago, when the orcs and goblins overran the Pomarj. We need to determine if this ghost is evil or simply continuing to protect this place in death as it did in life."

    The ghost appears again, this time above Icar who doesn't see it. Hyril, standing nearby, does not detect evil.

    Taki bellows at the ghost, "Begone from here, leave us alone we have done you no wrong!"

    Hyril's brave voice booms off the tower walls as he says, "Spirit, I sense you are not evil, and feel that you may be only doing what you feel is your duty or some great or terrible event binds you here. If you cannot speak, then speak through me that we may help you complete the task or end the circumstances that binds you here - that you may finally be at peace."

    He sheaths his sword, and will relax his defenses that the spirit may posses him - hoping that it may finally speak and slay no more of his friends.

    The ghost flies right down towards Hyril, passing into him. Hyril's eyes momentarily flash white, then roll back in his head though he remains standing, turning and "looking" around.

    "Ghost why do you attack us?" Taki looks at Hyril when he speaks.

    Tears well in Hyrim's eyes as he starts to speak.....slowly and haltingly as if unused to forming words, and in an odd sounding form of common not heard for over 100 years.........

    "I was once known as Dravan Strongbough, and held the position of Commander in the great fortress of Karacang, a stonghold of the Baron Tavish, which we lost to the humanoid invasions all those years ago. All my men held valiantly, but we were slain to the last man. The corpses were eaten by the humanoids and our bones scattered and tossed to the ground like refuse. This great injustice, and my great grief, drove me to this existence in the afterlife. I now defend these ruins in death as I did in life."

    "We can bury you and your men," says Thorgrim. "We might need your help to make sure we get all but as one old warrior to another, I pledge to see your men propely buried. Let us end your pain let us set you free."

    Lyseios the Alchemist whispers (smirking) "This has all been just a GRAVE mis-understanding."

    "If your word is true warrior, I can at last relinquish this watch and rest eternally," replies the spirt. You need but dig a proper grave and bury our remains, having your priest give us our final rites. Then at last my soul can be at peace."

    Icar goes to whereever some of the soldiers are and says,"We are all going to work and dig and do all we can to put to rest some brave soldiers who died defending this keep. We don't know who they were but it does not matter, they are our brothers in arms and we cannot leave them unburied and call ourselves soldiers. Now get out there, find or make a shovel and bury your brothers."

    Hyril stands silently, his face contorted in a strange grimace. You are not sure but his posture gives you the impression he is skeptical of the parties intent. When Thorgrim leaps to action Hyril follows those willing to gather the remains outside, and for the next few hours, by eerie torchlight in the deathly cold, points out the remains of his warriors for burial while others dig a mass grave. Tired and cold, you hear grumbling from amongst your group and cursing from those who had friends recently die at the hands of this phantom.

    Eventually, Hyril points to a spot in the rubble of the keeps tower and says, "Here is where I took my last breath, how will you gather my remains?"

    Icar gets a half dozen of the best diggers and the troop's engenier and leads them to the rubble of the keep's tower. "Here is our greatest challange, at the base of this tower are the remains of the keep's commander. We must dig him out.

    The engineer looks over at Icar and places his hand on his shoulder. He can clearly hear the regret with which he gives the news... "Sir, it would take a full days work to safely clear this rubble to the point we are being directed, and some of these stones are beyond our ability to move with such rudimentary gear."

    With the phantoms guidance, Alli's help levitating all the difficult rubble, Thorgrims stone shape, and all hands being driven to exhaustion by Icar's stern leadership - A path is cleared to the phantom's remains in the tower when the first rays of dawn begin to break.

    When a huge stone is removed, in the hollowed area are the numerous bones of what are clearly orcs and in the center is one human skeleton, still wearing battered armour and bony hand clutching a broken longsword all of ancient make, a matching great helm that is all but caved in upon its head. On his broken blade, though rusted, you can still almost make out the ancient dwarven sigils. One you can make out, the symbol of Prince Olinstead Corond of Ulek.

    Clearly this commander went down fighting slaying an army of foes, but in the end his enemies found it easier to just bring the tower down on his head when he refused to surrender. Hyril breathes a strange and eerie sigh when the remain are found and dawn breaks, then collapses.

    Hyril recovers shortly, and seems silent and withdrawn. He walks over and with great awe retrieves the the two pieces of the broken sword, wraps them, and helps bring the remains of the fallen Commander to the grave site where the rest of his men lie.

    After all the bones are reverently placed in the hole and covered, Thorgrim performs last rites over the gravesite, and leads a solemn service in remembrance of these brave fighters. Once finished the party swears it hears an eerie phantom voice saying "farewell, noble and true warriors, I can now rest in peace."

    A simple shrine of gathered stones, formed into a pyramid with the commanders sword thrust in the center, (now mended into one piece and cleaned of all rust by Ali) is all that marks the spot where these men fell.

    Hyril draws the commanders blade from the pyramid of stones and raises it to rays of the rising sun. " I swear before Titherion, that this blade will once more drink the blood of these orcs and other vermin who have infested the Pomarj. May I be as resolute, even unto death, turning away these hordes from the borders of the frontier."

    He quietly puts his former sword in it's place within the rock pile.

    "That was an exhausting night," says Thorgrim. "I propose that we stay camped here for the day. Perhaps a half-day's travel, after noon when we've slept some. We'll be heading right back into humanoid lands at the south end of this gorge. Might be better to stay camped the whole day, rest a bit and hunt and scout and bed down early, then up before dawn tomorrow to resume our trek."

    When Thorgrim makes his suggestion, he looks over at him and says " I will take first watch, gods know sleep may be ever elusive for the rest of my days after an experience with death like that."

    It is then that Thorgrim notices the white streaks that have formed in the young mans hair, and the haunted look that seems to never leave his eyes.

    In Thunderstrike:

    Hepla goes, with Isilme if she wishes, to visit the mages to talk shop and see if any might be willing to cast reincarnation on their friends. She will appraise them as to what she knows of the kolbalds in the old dwarven fortress. On the way back she will visit the church of St Cuthbert and see who is the chief priest here. She will not mention ressuection or raise dead but mearly act as a visitor.

    You meet the wizards, but it quickly becomes apparent they are not versed in reincarnation. They are all battle-wizards whose focus is destroying the enemy. Eventually, Hepla tells them of Emyn and Elrae, and their desire for help. They sympathize with your situation, and they recommend you to the priestess of Ehlonna, Mieryniel Aerayaeth.

    Hepla and Isilme find the priestess of Ehlonna, Mistress of the Forests. Hepla and Isilme visit the priestess. Hepla tells her that their true goal is to find someone who can bring their friends back to life in one way or another. She knows its a big order but if she knows a way this can be honorably done they would be most grateful to learn it. If she does or does not have this knowlege Hepla also tells her of the rest of the party and how they are trying to save 100 exslaves and get them to freedom.

    The priestess is a most beautiful half-elven girl. She has a scar along her left cheek, which though nicely healed yet bears evidence of a brush with danger. "I leave it to remind me that there are some wounds that one can never heal, as well as to remember the lessons learned. We spend so much time hunting orcs and gnolls, it's easy to forget how dangerous even a deer can be." There really is not a church of Ehlonna; rather, there is a small wooded park with a shrine to the Goddess. The priestess is there, tending to the shrine.

    Hepla makes her request that they be on the alert for 100+ feeling slavery and coming to their country but she is not sure where they might cross the river.

    "From the Poor March?" she asks, a bit incredulous. "Few return alive from those wretched lands."

    Isilme says "We have been freeing those kidnapped from their free lands and brought into slavery deep in the pomarj. We have brought down the temple to their strange new evil god, deposed the ruler of the city, chased down and freed more slaves on the road, and recently brought down the stronghold of the evil one Markessa freeing all her slaves as well and destroying her doubles and a few of her drow allies.

    We seek to rid the lands of the scourge of these evil slave lords we discovered and their dark elf allies. Trust me, they will not be content to stay within the Pomarj for long.

    In the course of our fight against these evils our good friend Elrae was mortally wounded. He is a good friend and ally of ours, and it was with him that our band brought down the temple of elemental evil. I would see him walk the lands of the living with us once more, and have his voice lighten the mood with song in the darkest hours that we must surely face again."

    "What you ask requires great sacrifice," she says. "But it can be done." She asks you to tell her of Elrae, to speak of his life and experiences. After a few hours of listening, she tells you that she must commune with Ehlonna. "Return on the morrow, and you shall have your answer."

    Leaving, they find a temple of Trithereon. It is small, but notably well-built and ornate. You learn that though there are not a lot of worshippers of Trithereon here, He is much respected and given due reverence. It doesn't have the style of the Cathedral in Verbobonc, but you can tell that the small chapel gets plenty of money.

    They enter and find just one acolyte tending the candles and such. He sees the two of you and bids you welcome in a somewhat disinterested way. When you mention Verbobonc, you grab his attention. He nods and hurries off. Shortly thereafter, he returns with another priest. A middle-aged man in Blue robes with silver trim approaches, nodding to the two of you. "I am Brother Alaric," he says. "I hear you have come from Verbobonc?"

    "Greatings Brother Alaric, my name is Hepla and this is Isilme, we had such a wonderful time at you cathedral in Verbobonc that we has to see this lovely shrine here." says Hepla.

    "Ah yes," he replies. "I have heard of the cathedral's beauty. Alas, I have never been able to make the journey myself. You have been most blessed to have done so yourselves."

    "I'm glad we could make this stop," says Hepla. "We are trying to right some wrongs done to us and others by those east of here. My friend here can explain what we are looking for."

    "Yes," he replies. "We are constantly plagued by the foul beasts of the Suss. The Pomarj humanoids raid often enough, though of late these raids have increased in number. They used to war more amongst themselves, but these fights have seemed to diminish recently, more's the pity."

    Isilme addresses the head cleric "Have you had news of the downfall of the temple of elemental evil from Vervebonc? "

    He looks confused, and then asks if you mean the Temple that was destroyed a decade ago?

    "Good Alaric, I have much news to share with you from the temple at vervebonc. However, first I must address a sad and pressing matter. Our good friend and sworn defender - a Paladin of Tritherion received a critical wound while carrying out his duties. I would like his burial conducted with all the ceremonies and honors due his status and rank, and his deeds be added to the records of the church. Can you grant me your full assistance in this?

    Isilme will give a full recounting of his deeds since his joining of the party and of his noble and heroic death defending Hepla from harm to the last breath, honoring his sworn promise, for the church records. If she has time in-between she will further update the cleric on the resurgance and defeat or the temple of elemental evil, the short war, the heroes of hommlet, the slavers, etc.

    He is most saddened by the news. The Guardians are well-known here, as in any land on the frontier of such menacing areas as the Pomarj. He will certainly see that word is carried forth, that his deeds are recorded in the order's records, and that he shall have a funeral befitting his deeds.

    Then these are those with which we will leave the body of the paladin. She also mentions that he had hand-selected a squire under him for his brave deeds and granted him his set of full plate and horse to carry on after his death. Can they arrange for his proper training for entrance into the order as he wished?

    Any other time at the temple is spent getting the priest up to date on all the news and our parties actions, and asking him to pass the message to other churches. She feels a strong bond to this church who accepted her as she is and her goddesses place in the order of things.

    Alaric accepts everything, and he promises to see this young man gets his proper training. The process of becoming a Guardian is rather specific, but the circumstances here are unique. He gives his word he shall take care of it.

    There is little further news, and all seems relatively quiet. Of course, news doesn't travel fast during winter. There are no sages here. Thunderstrike is a large trading town, where many of the goods from Prinzfeld are brought. It is also a border town, sitting right on the edge of the Suss Forest and the edge of the Pomarj, thus it is strongly fortified. It is not a place of learning, and the people here live a hard life on the edge of danger constantly. There is work aplenty and money to be made, always a draw in good and bad times.

    Isilme gives over whatever monetary funds the paladin had at his death to the church, and also includes an additional 20gp donation from herself for the paladin's burial and the churches assistance. "I will have the prospective paladin/avenger sent to you immediately upon his return from leading the freed slaves out of the pomarj - please have the church note his heroic deeds as well."

    He thanks you, but goes even further. He take you to meet with the captain of the guard and you tell him what's going on. He agrees that sending a patrol to look for the other and escort them back is not a bad idea. They begin the process of planning the raid into the Pomarj.

    You don't talk to Azaer until nightfall, at which time you learn that they have stopped at some ruins. With the mirror you can actually scry the area, and you learn from somebody in Thunderstrike that it is the Fortress of Karacang. It was thrown down nearly a hundred years ago, when the orcs and goblins overran the Pomarj. Knowing this, you can plan for a rescue.

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:59 am  

    This is great stuff, Ragnar! Keep it up! Happy

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    Master Greytalker

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    Posts: 655

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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:43 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    This is great stuff, Ragnar! Keep it up! Happy


    Thanks. Boy, the players really were upset when I used Ravenloft ghost rules! You'd think they didn't realize I was a DM! It's actually a bit challenging when they split up, not just running the adventure, but then editing it to make it easier to read the summaries. I have try to do it like a book with chapters or something, cutting back and forth. It's a bit of a struggle, so I hope it stays intelligible. :)
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    Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:22 am  
    The Slavers - Part 16 (Reunited)

    Starday, 22nd Fireseek, CY581
    The dawn has come, and the sun's welcome rays immediately begin to warm your cold bones. Nobody got much sleep during the night, but you feel strangely unfatigued. Perhaps it was the final gift of the keep's commander?

    It is a bright, clear day, the best in weeks, as if the very forces of nature approved of your actions. [EXP bonus!]

    You can continue your trek today, as you all feel remarkably well. Azaer can contact Hepla to communicate your plans, once you make them. Hyril also knows, somehow, that there's nothing left here.

    You head west, with Berenn scouting ahead and Icar's men, led by Deric and now Hyril, scouting the flanks. You pass uneventfully through the plains, until you begin encroaching on hobgoblin territory. However, Berenn notes that a large hobgoblin warband has mobilized and headed SW. The way is clear to skirt around them to the north. All the people who were feebleminded are finally better, and you can now make better time. You travel through the day, giving the hobgoblins a wide berth. You press on, without pausing for rest, and as people become fatigued, you place them on horseback, pulling in some of the outriders to help. You push well passed the hobgoblins, and eventually reach the edge of the Suss Forest, where you are forced to camp, many of the people on the verge of exhaustion. Thorgrim sets up the fortress just inside the trees, and with strong patrols you pass an uneventful night.


    Back in Thunderstrike....

    The priestess has agreed to the raise dead for Emyn and Elrae.

    Isilme requests a private audience with the priestess. She will remove her amulet of non-detection so that the priestess can get a sense of her CG aura.

    "Please feel free to sense the truth in my words, and the motives that drive me."

    She will identify herself as a a blade singer and defender of the elven kind and then detail to the priestess her actions in the toee, leading to the events with the slavers and markessa's twisted harm to the elves she captured.

    "I have freed all elven slaves I have captured, I have pursued every incarnation of markessa to the end. It seems my weaknesses is, I could never believe elves would do harm to their own kind here, that by nature they were all good. Which I suppose is strange, since all assume every one of my race are by nature evil."

    At this point she removes her hood, displaying her drow features.

    "I have a request to ask of your goddess, to right two great wrongs done the elves."

    She replies that spells are not necessary. You actions in regards to your companions is proof enough of your character. After hearing all you have to say, she looks at you strangely when you mention your race being evil. Upon removing your hood, she is quite surprised, taking an involuntary step backwards as she sees you are a dark elf. However, she regains her composure and bids you continue, trying to sound more sure than she perhaps is.

    "Now that you see I am a drow," says Isilme. "I will not be offended if you wish to verify the truth of my words or aura, as I wish this request be given the full and honest weight of consideration."

    The priestess silently shakes her head, as Isilme continues. "It is not so well known, that my goddess Ellistrae loved Corellian, but chose to share the fate of her people in her mother's betrayal so that one day when the time came, there would be one good influence they could turn to in te underdark and return to share te light with our surface brethren."

    Taking a breath, Isilme adds, "I turn to Elhona, as my godess's influence is limited on the surface and this is a matter of elves where she should judge. I have the head of the gold skinned wood elf, and the body of a dark-skinned elf that were twisted by Markessa in mind and body to feed her evil need for immortality. It is my understanding they were once good and noble elves before markessa did them this grievous harm. It was my hope the goddess would allow you to reincarnate the gold elf, and reincarnate the dark elf, also healing their minds - that they might have the chance to live out their lives free of markessa and have that which was stolen from them restored."

    Mieryniel will consider your words and your request. She knows of this Markessa. She was once from Celene, but was kicked out of the elven kingdom. She hadn't been heard of in years and was presumed dead. What you say is troubling indeed, and she will have to Commune again for guidance on the matter. She will do so once she has completed the rituals to raise you companions. You leave Elrae and Emyn with the priestess, laying them upon the ground beneath the hearth tree of the central grove. It is a massive Ipp tree, perhaps 100' tall. She then asks you to take your leave as two other priestesses join her.

    After a time, one of the priestesses comes to get you, and when the two of you return, you find both Elrae and Emyn, alive again, their eyes open, being tended by the priestesses. They will be weak, and need rest. You may take them to the inn. The priestesses shall be by to tend to them.

    Emyn, seeing Isilme, smiles wanly and wraps her in his arms in a fierce hug. "Thank you," he repeats over and over.

    Hepla kisses the priestess's hand. "Thank you" she says. Then to her friends,"Welcome back, now let's get you to the inn, you need to and rest and recover.". She will help Elray since Emyn is with Isilme.

    When Emyn sees Hepla, he walks over to her, lifts her off of her feet and kisses her soundly.

    "Praise the gods and the two living goddesses, Hepla and Isilme," says Elrae. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am forever indebted to you." Elrae smiles, still weaken from the ordeal, closes his eyes then opens them again, not sure if he believes what happened.

    Isilme hugs him and smiles. She gives him two books from Markessa's study to enjoy while he is in bed recovering. The first is a History of Elven Poetry. The second she winks and and says, "Somehow I just knew it was meant for you," and hands him Kelargath Ignipad the Learned’s Tome on Erotic Poetry.

    Hepla returns Emyn's kiss with feeling, then says, "Put me down. You need to rest and recover your strength <giggle> although you seem to have recovered a lot of it already. And you Elray, the last thing I am is a goddess, being dead seems to have had an effect on you. But it is great to have you back, my two good friends."

    Mieryniel smiles, "Luckily, they were only mostly dead. If they were all dead, there's only one thing you can do. Go through their pockets and look for loose change." [Sorry, couldn't help myself!]

    Hepla says,"I feel a need for some advice and you have been so wise already. In the fortress, when my two friends died in front of me, parially because I did not try harder to get to them and ended up arriving at the last moment. Anyway, when I saw that happen I was filled with rage and attacked some kobolds, who were running away and threw them to their deaths and would have killed more but the rest scattered. I now realise that I greatly overreacted. What can I do to make up for what I did."

    "The let us take a walk," says Mieryniel. With that, she turns, her green robes swirling behind her, and begins to head towards her grove. Hepla and Isilme look at each other, then hurry to catch up, walking to either side of her.

    She thinks for a moment as you walk, then replies, "A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful." She turns and smiles at Hepla. "Unfortunately, beauty and folly are old companions. Your actions are the seed of fate, and deeds grow into destiny. But destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. For the stone that has been thrown up, it is no evil to come down. You must adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live."

    Her smile then vanishes, and she looks into Hepla's eyes with all seriousness. "My Lady said nothing when I communed regarding your friends, and I took her silence to mean she was not impressed. I would have said no to their raising, in fact was about to do so and would have, had a poem not appeared in my mind."

    She looks far off for a moment, before continuing.

    "The fairy poet takes a sheet
    Of moonbeam, silver white;
    His ink is dew from daisies sweet,
    His pen a point of light."

    She then looks back at Hepla, "HE told me to spare your friends, as their destinies are linked to yours."

    Isilme remains silent through the meeting and will let hepla take it all in.

    She will return the next day to hear what the goddess had to say about her and raising the two elves.

    As for the elves, Mieryniel requires the bodies you have (well the head of the first Markessa). She tells that they will be returned to the forest, but to rest easy. They have returned to the Seldarine. Their souls are free and at peace.

    Isilme breathes easier knowing the elves are in a better place.
    She leaves the bodies with the priestess and thanks her for all she has done.

    She also says, "To my knowledge there is one more elf that has been twisted into a copy of Markessa. If I manage to capture her or any others would your goddess allow you to heal whatever damage has been done to her mind?"

    "We can try," she replies. "Nothing can be promised, other than to try."


    Moonday, 24 Fireseek, CY 581
    Another clear day finds the rest of the party traveling west, skirting the forest. You follow its edge for most the day before coming to a large, slow-moving river. You travel along its bank until you spot a river galley moving upriver from the south. They spot your party and approach, and to your surprise you are hailed by Urgal! He greets everyone and explains that he has been traveling the river for two days, since the men of the Principality led a raid into the Pomarj. They had anticipated your attempt to cross the plains, and their raid drew the hobgoblins to the south, clearing the way. The galley takes everyone aboard, though there is no room for the horses. Deric pledges to lead the men across the river and meet you in Thunderstrike on the morrow. Meanwhile, the rest of you make your way to Thunderstrike aboard ship, docking just before dark. You find out where Hepla and Isilme are staying, and you meet up with them that evening.

    After catching up on everything, and learning about the raising of Elrae and Emyn, Hepla relates the mystery to Thorgrim. He ponders for some time, smoking a bit of the Old Toby.

    "Well it's clear that it's time to achieve your destiny," he finally replies. "But then isn't that true of everybody, always?" he asks. He looks far away, thinking of Dorob Kilthduum, and the dream which was gifted him by Clanggedin. "Get along with others, see to your friends, whose destinies are linked with yours, that part's clear..."

    "The mystery must lie in the poem. I know not which bard wrote it [Joyce Kilmer--no help there], but it was related to her by someone else, a man--not her goddess. A fairy perhaps? Do we have a secret benefactor among the fairy folk? Should we seek this person out?"

    Hepla goes back to the priestess and asks her who the "He" was.

    Mieryniel laughs, as if at some private joke. "Why, Rexfelis, of course. The Cat-Lord." When she sees Hepla's shock, Mieryniel reassures her. "Oh, don't be so surprised, my girl. He has taken quite an interest in you."

    "Rexfelis the Cat-Lord is interested in ME?" Hepla says."And I don't know anything about him or <giggle> how he and your goddess get along. I am guessing well otherwise she would not have done what he asked."

    Icar and Deric will be returning to Hommlet, along with as many of the refugees who wish to go. They will take up positions at Warder's Station. Also going with them is the enginneer and the alchemist. Azaer and Ali will leave too, helping to lead them along the way. Berenn will give Icar and Deric instruction on how to proceed once they reach Warden's Station. He will give them information about Elmo and Guhk and had them an item with Berenn's crest on it. This should be enough to convince Elmo they are there on my orders. Berenn also wishes them a safe journey and tells Icar he is sending his share with them to help pay the men and hopefully start repairs. Urgal and the remaining dwarves also leave, as they must rejoin the Deldukr. So basically, all the NPCs are going north.

    Isilme requests Emyn send Hyril to the high priest at Verbobonc with a letter of introduction from the two of them, noting his great deeds. "His quick thinking saved the parties life out there, there is no doubt he is a true paladin in word and deed". Looking at the young man she adds, "He needs formal training, and the greatest temple in the lands would be a high honor."

    The party then spends about a week in Thunderstrike, while Emyn and Elrae recover. Thorgrim buys a bunch of things for underground expeditions, based upon their failure in the Impenetrable Kobold Fortress of Doom. The girls study spells, and soon the party is ready to continue.

    Hepla, looking up from her alchemy/herbology book says,"Waiting even a week is bothering me, Markessa knows who we are and could launch a surprise attack at any point. I'm sure she has agents that could slip int the toen and kill us in our sleep if we ar not careful. Letting them regroop would be bad."

    "There are supposed to be 9 in the inner circle," says Isilme. "Markessa seemed to be being offered a spot beause there soon would be openings. They seem to be in disary now and this is another reason to hit them now."

    "Huh," says Thorgrim. "That is a good point, then, I suppose. We should leave in the morning."

    Noot who is a city guy at heart is in no hurry to leave; however, he agrees that if they are to go, it should be now. As usual, he also says they should go by boat.

    "It'll take a couple days to travel downriver to the sea," he says. "Then a few more days along the coast. No more than a week total on board ship."

    Agreeing, the party sets out the next day. They board a river galley, The Defender, which transports them (for 5gp each) to Keeltenen and then on to Grindin, another small town along the Jewel River, about half a day journey from the sea. From there they can hire a ship to take them along the Pomarj coast.

    The Jewel River continues south from here, to Grindeep Bay; however, there are no ships that will travel to the Pomarj. The handful of trading vessels in town are all going West, towards Keoland and beyond. Even if you did find a vessel going East, they put out to sea and make port in Scant, the capital of Onnwal. That way they skirt the Pomarj entirely, being that not only are there no safe ports of call, but many ships have been disappearing lately. The longer journey has been judged the safer.

    However, Noot speaks to some of the town's less savory types, and he learns that there are those who still sail the Pomarj coast. You are directed to a rundown river tavern, the Staggering Kelpie. Only there may you find a captain willing to take you to the Pomarj.

    Noot is able to strike a deal with a coastal trader (i.e. smuggler), and the party can leave in the morning. So, everyone gets one last good night's rest, before departing in the morning and returning to the Pomarj.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:50 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 17 (Squids!)

    Earthday, 6th of Readying, CY 581
    OK, it's actually about 9 days after you arrived in Thunderstrike. You board a small coastal galley, The Witch Pearl, in the morning. The captain will take you up the coast for 100gp. The ship is manned by about a two dozen sailors who manage the sails and can work oars in a pinch. There is a small captain's quarters aft, above which is an elevated watch along with the steering rudder. A small ballista is mounted at the bow on a swivel, and Taki is particularly interested in this as he thinks, with his large frame and strength, he could actually carry the thing. The crew usually sleeps on deck, and there is a hold where you are allowed to quarter, basically to stay out of the way.

    You leave just after dawn, taking a smaller branch of the Jewel to the southeast. The captain, a grizzled old seadog who doesn't talk much nor who give his name, tells you this will cut a day off your journey.

    You notice there are many sandbars along this stretch. Noot can tell this is not a very safe passage, and certainly could not be used by any of the larger warships like the one you sailed earlier. The shifting sandbars likely make the passage quite difficult. It's the kind of route avoided by most honest seamen, but often used by smugglers and such.

    The day is very clear, but the temperature just doesn't ever really rise. From below-freezing overnight, it never gets much better and is the coldest it's been since you were back north in the Gnarley Forest. There is no wind at all, and the men are hard-pressed all day to maneuver the boat downriver with oars and avoid the shifting sandbars.

    "Don't trust any of these sea rats," says Thorgrim.

    Elrae assumes that whoever took his bracers gave them back when he returned from the grave. Following Taki's advice he removes the heavy chainmail and stashes it away and wears the bracers, they are far more comfortable and fitting of a bard. He pulls out his cittern and plays a rousing sea faring ditty. Snowfang is never from his side.

    Way, hay up she rises,
    Way, hay, up she rises,
    Way, hay, up she rises,
    Earlye in the morning!

    What will we do with the drunken sailor?
    What will we do with the drunken sailor?
    What will we do with the drunken sailor?
    Earlye in the morning?

    Put him in the scuppers with the hose pipe on him
    Put him in the scuppers with the hose pipe on him
    Put him in the scuppers with the hose pipe on him
    Earlye in the morning

    Hoist him aboard with a running bowline
    Hoist him aboard with a running bowline
    Hoist him aboard with a running bowline
    Earlye in the morning

    Put him in the brig until he's sober.
    Put him in the brig until he's sober.
    Put him in the brig until he's sober.
    Earlye in the morning

    Make him turn to at shining bright work.
    Make him turn to at shining bright work.
    Make him turn to at shining bright work.
    Earlye in the morning

    Put him in a boat and row him over
    Put him in a boat and row him over
    Put him in a boat and row him over
    Earlye in the morning

    Hoist him up to the topsail yardarm
    Hoist him up to the topsail yardarm
    Hoist him up to the topsail yardarm
    Earlye in the morning

    Make him clean out all the spit-kids
    Make him clean out all the spit-kids
    Make him clean out all the spit-kids
    Earlye in the morning

    That's what you do with a drunken sailor
    That's what you do with a drunken sailor
    That's what you do with a drunken sailor
    Earlye in the morning

    Freeday, 7th of Readying, CY 581
    On the next morning, another bitterly cold day which has the sailor's cursing their bad luck, the ship reaches the mouth of the river. It enters a long bay and then beyond that, the open ocean. As a small coaster, it keeps close to the shore, just passed the jutting rocks and shoals. The captain and crew seem to know this section of coast quite well, and Noot sees how easily they navigate along. A good wind picks up later in the day, allowing the crew to make sail.

    Hepla smiles as she walks past all the males. She does a little dance, clearly not a sea shanty, to the music. The males smile as she walks past them to go back to her studies.

    Isilme shudders involuntarily after finishing the last chapter of the book she found, The Chirgeons of Malaquqot. She cracks open her next dusty tome, The Treatise of Wizardry, by Karoolck the Great hoping it will be more cheerful reading.

    Isilme OOC: I should probably mention before we headed out on this venture, Isilme went ahead and freshened up her cantrips to appear as a gold skinned, tribal tattooed elf type. (like gold markessa)

    Starday, 8th of Readying, CY 581
    The next day there is a good squall that picks up with heavy winds and seas. It doesn't last long, but the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow, I mean the Witch Pearl, would have been lost. When the storm subsides, nearly as quickly as it began, the crew gets busy working on the rigging. Suddenly, one of them yells. Nobody is sure what happened, but he's just gone. One sailor says the sea just reached up and snatched him!

    Isilme casts water breathing on herself and draws her elvish blade, having it begin to sing in her mind.

    "Noot have you heard of anything like this before?"

    Noot shrugs. "Could be anything."

    Isilme casts detect enemy (priest spell) and tries to locate the source of our troubles..... Looking over the side, she sees only water, though the spells indicates something is there.

    Suddenly another member of the crew is attacked from the other side of the ship. What looks like a large snake, except it seems to be made of water, strikes up from the water, engulfing the sailor, and snatching him from the deck of the ship before anyone can react.

    Gotrek looks at his plate mail, and growls. He takes a step back, hoping not to become a fastfalling creature to the depths of the bottom of the ocean. Hopefully, the other party members can handle a sea snake. Of course, he will attack if needed.

    Hepla hands her cloak of Manta Ray to Gotrek, who nods to her and puts it on. She then casts Polymorph Self, turning into a mermaid.

    "Looks like a water weird!" says Isilme, glad she took the time to read those elemental books they found. She will cast purify water on it when it appears again (range of 30 yards). She casts Purify Water on it the next time it rises up, and the thing is totally disrupted, splashing to the deck of the ship like so much water. She hears a faint scream, then nothing.

    Isilme sighs. "It saddens me I have no way to return these creatures back to their home plane yet, it would have been preferable."

    Her hands involuntarily twitch as if she was still clutching the golden skull from the TOEE.

    Emyn will watch amazed at mermaid Hepla, unaware that he is saying his main thought aloud, "She's even more beautiful that I would have imagined."

    Hepla dives into the water, and after a bit finds one of the bodies. She drags it to the ship, and Emyn pulls the dead man aboard. The captain thanks you for your help, for your quick reactions, then the crew unceremoniously dumps the body back into the sea. They certainly don't stand much on ceremony. The captain goes back to his work like nothing happened, but the crew seems much more happy about your presence. Noot lends a hand, now that the crew is short two men, and assists with fixing the rigging. Berenn flies aboard the ship, scaring the crew when his griffons land.

    The captain looks at you, "Who are you people?" he wonders aloud.

    "We are the Swords of Salvation," says Emyn. Everyone rolls their eyes.

    Noot, as he hauls on a lanyard, says, "We be just a group of adventurers that have been thrown together by the fates."

    As Berenn tries to tell him their tale, he finds that the captain really doesn't care who you are, long as you can pay. He then goes back to work.

    Hepla morphs back to herself and says,"Just trying to help captain."

    Moonday, 10th Readying, CY 581
    The crew repairs the ship, happy to have Noot and Taki's help. They get the ship underway again, and make back for the NE, keeping the land barely in sight. Through the evening you make good time as a strong wind continues to blow, and through the next day as well. By the afternoon of the 9th (today!) you are approaching a large island about 5 miles out from a point of land.

    "Whaler's Island," says the captain. When Hepla is about to ask, he continues, "From the shape." We'll pass between it and the mainland." He points to the mainland. "Lucky we are to have good weather. Many a boat's gone down in this passage."

    You sail easily through the passage, noting another small island which the captain calls the Beast's Blowhole. While you watch, a jet of water fires up from the island, hundreds of feet.

    You continue through the day, and just before nightfall you see a series of bays on your left. You sail through a particularly treacherous passage, and into a large calm bay. There you can beach the ship and take on water from a stream. The captain explains that the old Coast Road is about two or three miles inland. If you follow the stream, you'll reach a lake; the road passes it on the northern side. From there it's a day's walk to the crossroads where you turn north towards Stoneheim. He says you can take off on foot from here, or he can take you further, dropping you off just south of Stoneheim, though it's more dangerous. He is going to make port at Ostrand Keep, along the Coast Road just passed Stoneheim. You can also continue with the ship, and slip into the port if you like. Up to you.

    All three are fine with Hepla, she does enjoy the sea, now that shes on it, so would probably lean toward staying with the boat till port. "Captain, is there any reason for us not to go to Ostrand Keep?"

    Isilme agrees with hepla; she likes the sea too. She thinks we should remain until we get closer, than offload.

    Thorgrim disagrees. He does not like the sea.

    The captain tells you that Ostrand Keep is ruled by a Necromancer from the Great Kingdom. He was there when the humanoids invaded the Pomarj nearly 100 years ago. After an entire tribe of orcs failed to take the keep, the rest of the humanoids have decided to leave him alone. The more superstitious humanoids chose not to settle around the keep at all, and give the place a wide bearth. Ironically, many of the displaced humans found refuge in the shadow of Ostrand, and a relatively free town has grown up there.

    While Gotrek licks his lips, Thorgrim tells him to calm down. "We can't be fighting everything."

    The party decides to continue on to Ostrand. While getting the water, Taki asks the captain about the crossbow. "I'd like to buy it," he says, "or learn where I can buy another."

    "It's an Orz Crossbow," he says. "They are made by weaponsmiths in the town of Orz, near Hardby, and sold as small ship artillery. The bolts have an eyehole in the back for a thin rope." He shows you how to take the thing off it's tripod, and Taki finds that he can carry it easily. It has a crank for loading, so it would be slow, but the bolt is about three times the size of a heavy crossbow bolt. The thing would pack quite a punch. The captain won't sell his, as it's required for defense, but Taki makes a mental note to go to Orz someday.

    " Thank you sir," he says. "I will make note of that. Best thing I've seen since the Quad," he muses.
    Godsday, 11th Readying, CY 581
    You guys go on to Ostrand, the ship putting out to sea as soon as you've taken on fresh water. "No sense hanging out for orcs, or worse, to come by," says the captain.

    You sail through the night, and sometime the next morning you sight another sail just over the horizon. As it nears, the lookout calls out "Squids!"

    The sailors look around, obviously scared, and the captain seems a bit nervous as he checks the shore and gauges the distance to the oncoming ship.

    Noot climps part way up the rigging an focuses his eyes on the other ship. It's a large trireme. It is moving a bit to your right, but it has more wind and is gaining ground fast. As it begins to tack, you see the sails catch more wind and the large purple squid image is visible on it.

    The captain gives orders to head for shore. "It's our only hope," he says as the crew turns more towards shore. "If they catch us they'll break our backs and take us, every one!"

    They are a few miles away, but closing fast.

    "What are squids?" Thorgrim asks the captain. "Are they pirates?"

    "Hobgoblins," he says.

    Noot heads down and watches from the rail. "Hepla, do you have any long distance spells?"

    "Lightning bolts and I can fly," she says. "That's my long distance attack and I will be ready with them if needed, a couple of miles is still way beyond her spell length."

    "Captain," Hepla says,"Are you sure they will come after us? If yes perhaps the illusion of a fog bank would give us a better chance of escape. Our friend here, Isilme could give us that illusion."

    She is also thinking that if the squids follow them into the fog bank she can slip over the side as a mermaid and hit them with a lightning bolt when they are not expecing it from behind. Then others can hit them ffrom the front.

    "If you have such powers," he says, "well and good. It may be we can surprise these squids after all!"

    Noot fingers his potion of waterbreathing while readying his sword and a couple of throwing daggers.

    "A few miles is not beyond the range of a Fly spell," says Thorgrim, "but I am liking your other ideas, mermaid and fog bank, better. Best to keep the party close, or avoid combat altogether. I don't like the idea of fighting without my gear, even though hobgoblins should be relatively easy opponents to beat. Not much tougher than kobolds. I'm ready to get off this damn tub!"

    When Gotrek gives him a sour look, Thorgrim adds with a wry smile, "Normal kobolds."

    Thorgrim draws his pouch of Old Toby and loads his pipe, lights it. He takes a deep breath and exhales, gazing at the nearing slave ship. "Fireball and Lightning Bolt are death to a ship at sea. Lightning Bolt will both light her on fire and sink her, possibly...although we have means of dealing with that. If these be slavers, they deserve nothing better than a quick death." He takes another puff. "However, if slavers these be, good chance is there are slaves on board, who deserve their lives and their freedom. We need to find a way not to harm any innocents."

    "I think our best path is to head toward shore and see if they overtake us. Best to fight on dry land. If at sea, we surprise them with wizardry and armed resistance, where the worst fighting will be above decks and relatively safe for any slaves on board. Also we may find information that is useful to our quest, though that is doubtful."

    He takes another puff, "Either that or a strike force, those that can fly. Take the fight to them."

    Hepla looks to the captain and says,"How many fighters would they most likely have and do they usually come armed with mages and clerics?"

    Isilme says, "Are we trying to take them out, or pass by unharmed? We dont have to fight, I can just suggest there is easier prey elsewhere....."

    "Captain, are there any creatures that are feared in these waters? Dragon turtle? Mermen?"

    Isilme will cast fly, then invisibility on herself, and get ready to head out and help with the problem.

    "That's a Squid Cutter," he says. "Crew of about 150." As the captain speaks, the ship comes about. He shouts commands at the crew, and a crewman goes aloft. "Shoal water's our only hope!" he shouts. "Watch fer rocks!" The crew keeps up full sail as they try to make shore. Breakers ahead signal your approach to a reef. "We knows these waters," says the captain, seeing your discomfort. "Let's hope they don't."

    Your speed drops considerably as you turn nearly full into the wind, and the hobgoblin ship gains much ground, closing each minute. As it makes it's final turn to bear in on you, it drops sail and banks oars. They don't seem to lose any speed in the maneuver. The captain swears, "Damn Squids know their stuff."

    They are now a bout 1/2 mile off, and the captain looks to shore. "Less they give up," he says, "we ain't gonna make it."

    "Isilme, try an illusion please," Hepla says, As she slips into the water while morphing into a mermaid. She will be just inside the reef.

    The captain barks orders as the ship tacks again, trying to gain more sail. Looking back, you see the hobgoblin ship cutting swiftly through the sea now, gaining steadily and pushing towards the breakers. Hepla realizes she is not going to find a way to block its passage, as the way is not narrow, and she simply cannot find anything useful anyway. Berenn is not around, hunting along the coast with Ra and Thoth.

    As the ships continues, Isilme creates an illusion of a dragon turtle, rising up through the water just as she saw in the Water Node of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The illusion of the dragon turtle rising up out of the ocean in front of the hobgoblins works like a charm. They quickly turn away from it, doing everything they can to get away, completely forgetting about chasing some little boat! The hobgoblins ship oars and unfurl their sails, catching the winds and hightailing it away from the illusory dragon turtle. They swing out to sea on a more southeasterly course, back the way they came, and eventually they disappear from sight. The captain drops anchor, giving his crew a needed break. You can continue on in a bit. When Berenn returns with Ra and Thoth, you fill him in on the events. He says he can start to use them as airborne scouts ahead of your ship, and you will reach Ostrand Keep without incident.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:56 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 18

    Waterday, 12th Readying, CY 581
    You sail closer to shore throughout the day, swinging out around a long point which juts miles out into the sea. The winds are rough, and the captain would rather put further out to sea, but he daren't do so with the hobgoblins around. It is hard sailing, but you round the point by late afternoon, entering a large bay nearly 25 miles wide. The captain sets a course directly across the bay, towards another jutting headland to the East. The foothills of the Drachensgrabs are visible from the steep rocky shores, as well as the larger mountains beyond. As the sun goes down, you see a light appear to the NE.

    "Ostrand Lighthouse," says one of the sailors. We make for the light, and the Uruk Mabus, orc for Drowned Orc."

    You make it to the river mouth during the night, and make your way with oars upriver. A thick fog rolls in, blanketing the river so thickly that you must travel with great care. It'll be morning by the time you reach town.

    Earthday, 13th of Readying, CY 581
    You arrive in Ostrand early in the morning, a thick fog blanketing the area such that you can barely see anything. You pass a lot of ruined docks and old piers on your way into the port. You could swear you see someone, or some thing, swimming amongst them, but when you look more closely all you see is a swirl of water. It is very creepy.

    Hepla mentions to a crewman what she thought she saw.

    The crewman says a prayer to protect him from the dead. He reminds you that a powerful necromancer rules from his keep overlooking the town. "Undead are not an uncommon sight around here," he says, looking warily into the water. "On land as well as in the sea."

    Hepla stands with Emyn, a little extra close.

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole and get out his armor, and anyone else's that's been in his keeping. "The minute we make land I will be the first to get off this deathtrap, I mean ship."

    Noot thanks the captain for the passage as he disembarks. Everyone gets armed and armored, and comes ashore once the ship is tied up to a pier. The captain tells you that he will be taking on cargo and sailing back to Ulek in a week. You will have that much time to return, if you wish to sail with him. He warns you to watch yourselves, thanks you for saving his ship the other day, and wishes you luck.

    "Good luck!" shouts Thorgrim, hefting his military pick over his shoulder and waving with his free arm. He turns to the party. "With no sign of us for weeks, Markessa may think she is safe in her new rat-hole. Imagine her surprise when she sees our ugly faces once more!"

    "Well, your fer sure," says Gotrek.

    "We shouldn't assume anything," says Berenn. "She is a very slippery eel."

    You can make Stoneheim by dark, if you leave right away. The people aren't really even awake yet, as you pass through town. You hear strange shambling sounds in the fog, and once or twice catch a glimpse of movement, but then there's nothing there. It is a very creepy place. Soon the people start to appear, going about their normal business as you leave town. The road winds up a steep hillside, and off to the right and above you Ostrand Keep stands, a foreboding sight.

    Berenn does a flyby on Ra, and he sees the towers and walls are manned by undead. They seem oddly alert, and watch him carefully. Atop the towers some man heavy ballistas, though none shoot at him. He sees a file of zombies walking up another path towards the keep, from town, carrying bundles and boxes of who-knows-what.

    It seems good that you are not approaching the place, but moving on towards Stoneheim.

    The journey takes all more than half the day just to reach the crossroads. There is small village there, with an inn, tavern, etc. All the normal types of stuff you'd find at a crossroads village. You press on, and eventually catch up to another group of about a dozen men walking north, the same way as you. They are all obviously warriors, mercenaries by the look of them, and men who know their trade. They are traveling to Stoneheim for work, as they have heard the lord of that place is always hiring soldiers. They are guided by a local, who gives you the "history" of Stoneheim as you travel with the mercenaries.

    Stoneheim was always the capital of the Poor March, before the humanoid invasions. It was from here that the Keoish lords ruled the lands, and the wealth of the Drachensgrabs flowed through here. After the Hateful Wars, when the humanoids were driven into the Pomarj, they naturally fell upon Stoneheim for everyone knew of the great wealth to be found in its vaults. Upon seeing the massive orc armies approaching, most of the defenders fled to the south. The city was left defenseless, and the orcs sacked the place in an orgy of blood and destruction.

    When the orcs moved on, several roving mercenary groups banded together and approached Stoneheim, claiming the city as their own. The weak and cowed people who survived the orcs gladly accepted the mercenaries protection and proclaimed them their new lords. The mercenaries closed the city and began to wisely train the survivors in the defense of the city, teaching them the use of the crossbow and pike. When more orcs appeared, they found the city well-defended by a grim and determined populace.

    Rather than fight, the mercenaries offered the orcs a deal. Rather than fight, they would offer the orcs tribute in gold. The orc chieftain agreed, and the orcs took their money and left. After getting badly mauled in battle with other humanoids, the orcs retreated near Stoneheim. The mercenaries offered the orcs food and supplies, and even tended to the tribes wounded. A new arrangement was made, and the two groups formed an alliance. Eventually, the orcs settled permanently to the east, accorded a tribute of goods and gold yearly from the inhabitants of Stoneheim. The city attracted many of the remaining humans from the area, while the Red Fang orcs grew to be one of the largest of the nearby tribes.

    The peace has lasted for 75 years, with all profiting greatly. Gold and gems flow through Stoneheim once again, with all reaping the benefits. The smaller, roving humanoid bands yet plague the area, and caravans from Stoneheim need strong escorts. Thus the lords of Stoneheim are in constant need of strong arms to defend them. The men you have reached is one such group.

    Hepla feels much safer away from the undead. "The few times a necromancer came to our woods, mom would always insist that I stayed right by her side." The she gets into a conversation with some of the mercanaries as to what type of work they are hoping to get. Just general work or is there something special going on.?

    "Anything that pays," they say with a laugh. Eventually, one of them asks what you are doing traveling to Stoneheim.

    "Just a couple of adventures. I am a mage trying to learn a few spells. My friends are might fighters and clerics." She figures she is not going to introduce Noot as a thief. She also waits for someone else to decide how muck to trust them, someone who can read more of their alignments. She does add, "The Necromancer scares me, I don't like slaves of any sort." Her last comment hopes to get a response from them.

    Thorgrim catches up to Hepla, and whispers in her ear, "Knowing their hearts is hardly necessary. They are mercs, and not to be trusted."

    "I'm just hoping they don't like slavers also," she whispers.

    They pretty much shrug. "So, you're basically mercenaries too," says one.

    "Right you are," says Thorgrim.

    "I just don't like slavery," says Hepla. She then falls off the pace just enough that she is now in the back of the party.

    Thorgrim begins speaking to the mercenaries. "I hail from Thunderstrike, grand city of the Dwarves. From whence came ye? What news have you heard about happenings in the Pomarj?"

    They are only recently arrived from Ahlissa themselves. "The Herzog of the South Province cancelled his coming campaign against the Iron League, and you know what that means to mercs! Better to be somewhere else when the wars end."

    "Less you want to fight fer yer lives instead of pay," says another.

    "Yep, so we sailed for the Pomarj and greener pastures."

    Taki steps forward maul at the ready and sizes up the mercs trying to look tuff to keep them from wanting to fight.

    "Don't worry, Tiny" says their leader. "We only fight for pay."

    Soon it is dark, and Berenn's return with the griffons really sparks some interest. The mercs have never seen griffons before, except on shields. Though the beasts make an excellent show of their aggressiveness, the mercs are nonetheless very impressed. [I assume that Berenn will not even try to get his griffons into the city, so he'll be staying out in the countryside with them. That leaves the party to enter Stoneheim without him.]

    You reach the city a few hours after dark. The city is locked down tight, but the guide knows the guards and gets all of you in, saying you are all mercenaries seeking employment. You are directed to an area of inns and taverns, where you find rooms for the night. The mercs take their leave of you, wishing you luck, as they head into the first tavern they find. This area is pretty busy, even at night, with many people going about their drinking, gaming, and whoring. You are all pretty tired now, having gone nearly two days without sleep.

    It is easy enough to find an inn, as there are many catering to the mercenaries who come through Stoneheim. Emyn will stand watch over Hepla and Isilme for the night. He does not trust the people here. He goes so far as to suggest the three of them share a room for safety, even if it means Emyn sleeps on the floor.

    "You are kind, but you need your sleep," says Hepla. "And we girls need our privacy. If there is worry we can take turns being on guard, I wiil take the midnight watch."

    Everyone else gets combined rooms as well, the better to watch each others' backs.

    Freeday, 14th of Readying, CY 581
    You awake the next morning to another cloudy day. It is a bit warmer, with a slight breeze. Everyone is well-rested. After getting a cheap breakfast, the party huddles together to plan their next move.

    Thorgrim takes out the map from Markessa's fortress. That showed the location of Suderham, Hidden City of the Slavelords. It showed it as being at the foot of Mount Flamenbutte. It is just NE from Stoneheim.

    "If we travel north from Stoneheim," he says, "maybe a day or so, we should find the way to Suderham. With Berenn and his griffons, he can fly off to the NE, find the "Smoking Mountain" and see for himself, all while we are traveling up the road."

    The party agrees that this sounds good. Hepla wants to ask around, gathering any rumors around town, but Isilme advises Hepla against that. "Better not to let Locals know we are heading to the 'hidden' city," she says. "We need to keep our business to ourselves."

    However, Noot says he would probably be better suited to such a mission, and with the group's approaval, he goes for a stealthy walk around the area. He specifically is looking and listening for any information that might be useful. He doesn't really hear anything which pertains to the Slavelords. After a couple hours of slipping out hints about Suderham, he never gets one bite.

    "It's like the place doesn't exist," he reports, after returning. "Were it not for the information we found at Markessa's fortress, we'd probably not have even learned about its existence at all."

    "Given these are slave lords, perhps we should seek out some slavers, posing as potential buyers?" proposes Emyn. "Surely they would know more of the city if they get their merchandise there."

    They send Noot out again, and he learns that there is a slave market here as well. At the slave market, he finds that there is much less slavery on the south side of the Pomarj. The Principality of Ulek guards its borders well, and the Jewel River is a formidable barrier. There simply is not an easy source of slaves. Most in fact come to Stoneheim from the north, from Highport. There are few here who have made the journey, but you learn that there are a couple of slave merchants who make more-or-less regular trips into the mountains. It is an easy matter to learn where they live.

    "Let's approach one looking to conduct business or perhaps hire urselves out as guards for a trip north," says Emyn.

    They find the home a slave merchant here in town, Lady Lehuta of Hardby. Her manse is a large estate in the center of town, atop one of Stoneheim's hills; the city actually straddles three. Her husband was a very prominent provider of slaves, but he disappeared last month.

    It is an easy matter to gain an audience with her. She is a very young and pretty girl, and not at all what you expect. She wears nice clothes, but in a style of one who doesn't really know how to do it stylishly. She tries to put on an air of nobility, but fails utterly. She seems very insecure and unsure of herself, despite her attempts to project otherwise.

    Taki will stick out his hand and say, "Hello, my lady. I am Taki, a warrior with this band. I hear that we maybe of some service to you."

    She welcomes you, and over the next few hours you learn her story. She was taken as a slave last year when slavers raided her village near Hardby. She was brought by slave ship to Highport, and then made the long trek from Highport clear to Suderham. Her husband, and you find that she utterly detested the man as she nearly spits that word, was a slave merchant who took a fancy to her. He bought her in Suderham and brought her here. He posed her as his wife, but she was nothing more than his property. He had apparently tired of her, and he was going to sell her back into slavery last month to an orog chieftain of the mountains. To avoid that fate, she stabbed him in his sleep. She dragged his body into the wine cellar in the basement, and hid him there from even her own servants. She has since lied that he disappeared into the mountains with another caravan, but she doesn't know what she is going to do. She begs for your help.

    "What can we do?" asks Taki. "Take you away?"

    She collapses into sobs when he mentions taking her away.

    "What you did was right," says Emyn. "Trithereon bless you, young lady. It seems though that you know much of Suderham. Could you share what you know of it? We seek a woman named Markessa and any information you mgiht provide us on these so called Slave lords. I also pledge that we will do what we can to aid you."

    She knows the way to Suderham, though she doesn't know why anyone would wish to go to such a vile place.

    "Gather your things young lady," says Taki, helping her stand. "You are under the care of Taki of the hill people we will leave soon."

    Hepla and Isilme cast divinations on her to check her story. [Detect Evil shows nothing strange about her, while Know Alignment shows her auras of Neutral-Good.]

    "Can you really blame her for what she did?" asks Elrae. "He was going to sell her to an Oorg. That's pretty nasty. It reminds me of a tale from a long long time a go in a galaxy far far away, where a princess was captured by a fat slaver forced to wear a brass bikini and she choked him with her own chain when he was distracted."

    She goes to her room, and there Hepla helps her gather some warm clothes. She then opens a chest full of coins and gems, taking enough to fill a small belt pouch. She takes only what she can carry, enough to see her home. "You can have the rest," she says. "I cannot keep this blood money." Thorgrim just opens the portable hole and stuffs the chest in it, promising that she may have it all once you see her home to safety. She also provides papers from her husband's study that allow entry into Suderham.

    You make your way outside of town and go hook up with Berenn again. You slip out under invisibility spells, so nobody sees you leave. You find Berenn in his camp outside of town, and together the party starts its journey north. It's a clear night, and it was a full moon just a few days ago, so you can actually see quite well. You begin your trek north along the Slave Road.

    You march north into the mountains. You follow the Slave Road again, this time traveling north. It is built exactly the same as the road you took leaving Highport. You notice right away that there are more villages along the road here, more inns and waystations. Each has maybe one inn along with some shops catering to the caravans that travel this road. There are many smaller paths which lead east and west from the Slave Road. Berenn scouts ahead with Ra and Thoth. When he spots a patrol winding its way down the mountain road, he quickly reports back to the party. The patrol consists of 10 mounted men. After hiding from them, the party then continues.

    You stay on the road, and make your way north through the night. Berenn takes it easy with Ra and Thoth, and then takes off with them in the morning to scout ahead. He finds no traffic on the road ahead of you, and by midday you reach a fork in the road. The main road continues to the left, while another well-paved road, though smaller, winds its way to the left. Berenn tells you that there is a fortress up ahead along the left road. You also learn from Lady Lehuta that the way to Suderham lies along the main road, just up ahead. There is a crossroads where you turn to the East. Lady Lehuta tells you that the city lies within a huge bowl in the mountains, a few hours distance ahead.

    You take the path, with Berenn flying ahead. He flies for a couple of hours, before finding a large mountain ahead. There is a cleft in the mountain, which is well fortified, with a strong wall all the way across, gatehouse, etc. The mountain wall is nearly vertical here, and the only obvious way is straight through the cleft.

    Men point skyward, thoughBerenn's maybe high enough that they can't see he's actually riding the griffon. He banks off to the side, and he swings over the ridge to see beyond. There is a large lake, with an island in the middle. On the island is a city and a fortress.

    You reach the checkpoint, and find the way blocked by the gatehouse. Guards outside stop you, and the captain of the guard standing on the battlements above demands to know your business. You say you are from Stoneheim, and show your pass from the Lady Lehuta's husband. The guards check it, look you over, then allow you to enter.

    The cleft is barely 10' wide, though it is few hundred feet long. It is lined with arrowslits along both sides, about 5' above the floor. The area is lit with torches, now that the sun's going down, so you can make your way along. Beyond the secret mountain pass is the hidden valley of the slavelords, Suderham. Nestled in a large bowl the peaceful seeming valley is dominated by a brilliant blue lake. There in the middle of the lake is an large island. On the isle there rises the volcanic peak, Mount Flamenblutt. At its base is a small city. On the north side of the island is a small harbor area, and between it and the city are large fields. Off to the side on a small rock outcropping lies a large fortress keep.

    The path through the cleft then winds down the near slope towards the lack, to another harbor below. There are a bunch of buildings in the area as well.

    Berenn stays aloft, along with Isilme who flies and keeps them invisible. Inside the rim, you are told that you must hurry if you are going to catch the last ferry. After nightfall, it is only used for official business, and no other boats are allowed on the lake.

    There are two small keeps to either side behind you, which flank the cleft. It seems the men guard from people leaving as much as from entering. Below, along the shore, are a half-dozen barracks buildings, along with an inn and some other village buildings which you'd expect to take care of caravans. There is also a large blockhouse. There is a small dock area, with a ferry there. Off to the left are a couple of small galleys.

    The party decides to make for the inn, and they find it empty. The innkeeper is a bit surprised that you are there, as the last ferry is about to leave. Thanking him, they rush down to the ferry and just as they are about to cast off, hail them and get aboard. It is an oared ferry, and it takes you across to the city. There is a troop of soldiers on it, about 12, though they barely even look at you. You make it to the island. The soldiers immediately take off, splitting up into groups of two and three and heading into the shanty-town along the harbor for very dingy taverns.

    Hepla keeps an eye on the Lady, see how she is reacting to going back to the city. She's not really happy, but if you get her home, well, she's safer with you than without.

    As you approach Suderham from the north, you notice the city wall, the gate, and teh corner towers are all well maintained. The stone wall is nearly 30' high, with 50' towers, and the heads and shoulders of armored soldiers can be seen above the battlements. The roadway ends at the main city gate. The outer doors are open, but the far end of the gateway is barred by a massive portcullis and flanked by two sentry posts. Darkness has settled upon the city as you near the gateway.

    Isilme will stay invisble, recasting the spell first thing each new day so it does not expire.

    For the most part, she will cast fly or use her levitation boots to stay out of the way and provide support to the party.

    She will now switch rings since the boat ride is over, wearing her ring of fire resistance vice water walking.

    Also at some point during the journey she loaned the gauntlets of ogre power back to her paladin protector. "try to stay alive this time, I get the strange feeling myself and Hepla are going to need a strong arm to protect our backs soon."

    Emyn thans Isilme or the use of the gauntlets with a peck on the cheek. "I will do my best but it is rather hard to protect you when I cannot see you, so please be careful when you are goign for one of yuor strolls, please."

    Emyn will stay with either Hepla or Isilme, whichever is visible. If neither are, he will stick with the others. "It is near nightfall. Let us get into the city and find an inn of some comfort."

    "We should be looking for a rare slave, say a Drow or dark Dwarf."says Hepla, quietly. "This should get us to someone in authority.

    Taki looks at the party and says, "Why dont we just start killing and breaking stuff, I am sure we will get the right ones." With that he grins and gives Gotrek a little elbow in the ribs. Gotrek smiles for the first time in days!

    Emyn says, "I've no doubt you'd make an impression but let's not waste our blades on peons."

    "Two ways to do this," says Hepla. "Start at the bottom, start at the top. I want to start at the top."

    "Yes dear," replies Emyn. "But I doubt those at the top are directly engaged in the actual buying and selling.. We might have to try lower levels of the organization to gether information, first."

    Taki whispers to Gotrek again, "We set fires and kill who comes out that will put an end to their slave trade." With that he laughs letting folks know he is joking.

    Elrae walks towards the nearest inn for a drink. "Come on, let's get inside."

    Emyn takes Isilme and Hepla's hands and leads them there as well, smiling like a Chershire cat. Hepla is so surprised, she let's him.

    "My father always took care of us when I was young before he died," says Emyn. "I hope you will forgive my awkwardness but I've never courted a girl before. My mother always said the first step was to hold hands."

    "And I have never been courted before," she replies. "Whatever that is, what's the second thing?"

    Emyn blushes and says, "Well, kissing. But I guess we already did that a few times. Mom always said you should court a girl if you have feelings for her. Show how much you care and show her that in time, she might want to marry you. Sorry, did you grow up with a different custom?"

    "I grew up with mom and grandma in a hut in the woods. Any males who came by were either friends or kept at a distance. Mom always said that I would know when the right man for me came along, but it would not happen till I am 18 at least. Sooo I guess that means we can be friends for a few more years but no more." Hepla says.

    Emyn replies, "I can respect your wishes, though I hope you will forgive me if I attempt to change your mind from time to time. I already consider you a friend and will strive to earn your love adn your hand."

    You are allowed entry into Suderham, hidden city of the slavelords. The entrance to this arched gateway is guarded by a massive iron double door (now open) and a raised portcullis. At the far end of they gateway is a lowered portcullis, with two armed men on sentry duty standing before it. Beside each is a single door, one set in each side of the gateway. You show your permit (from Lady Tuatha's dead husband) and are allowed entry.

    Just inside is a long stone building to the right, without windows or adornment. That is where Lady Tuatha said she was kept, until taken to the slave auction block in the center of the city. To your left is obviously the wealthy quarter, as the buildings are much nicer. In the center of this section of the city lies a stonghold keep, rising above the rest of the buildings around it. There is an inn right there near the entrance, and you can enter and stay there. The building presents a rich and well-kept exterior. Above the door is a painted sign depicting an animated quarterstaff beating a halfling. You are at the Clever Cudgel. The sound of singing comes from within.

    Insde are about two-dozen townsmen and six off-duty soldiers. The townsmen are obviously men of some means, for they are well-dressed. A young handsome bard plays a local ballad and everyone is singing along and beating time with their mugs. You take seats at an empty table towards the rear, while Gotrek goes off to make trouble. When he starts to act rowdy towards the larger of the off-duty guards, the innkeeper asks him to calm down.

    Emyn walks over to Gotrek and says, "Friend, unless you want us to end up on the slave market, I'd suggest you remain epaceful. There will be more than enough time to spill blood when the time comes. Besides, we're mercenaries. Why kill if you aren't getting paid for it?"

    Gotrek looks a bit sullen, and as the guards come over, you see they aren't really wanting a fight with obviously strong mercenaries. Lady Tuatha approaches them, tells the guards she will deal with her guards, and buys a round of drinks. They take their companion back to their seats and the place settles back down. You all go and sit back down.

    Noot buys Gotrek a drink and whispers in his ear, "Don't worry, the time for fighting will come. We need to find the real bad guys first. " Then he continues to converse with those around him. You learn a bit here, while you are buying rounds. Somebody pay 25gp for it!

    You talk to a man named Oric, who is about 40 years old. He is a jeweler here. According to him, Suderham was once only a small fortress, built as a place of last defense by Olarek, self-styled king of the Drachensgrab.He supposedly held a barony in the area. When the humanoids invaded the Pomarj, Olarek was one of the rulers who refused to see the threat. His reward for such lack of foresight was a swift death. The humanoids swept through his "kingdom", ravaged his armies, and his skull became a banner which led their armies. The few people who lived here successfully hid from the humanoids, with the help of a young illusionist named Lamonsten. He kept the entrance hidden, and the Aerie as they called this valley, lake, and island, were left alone.

    Mysteriously, some years ago, new workmen arrived in Suderham, building the walls of the town that now stands. In a short time, considering the scope of the project, a new city stood where there had only been a citadel. Then the Slave Lords arrived. The people of the valley fell under their rule, not enslaved, but forbidden to leave the city on pain of death. He tells you that whle petty crime is tolerated, anything major is dealth with ruthlessly and with surprising speed. "It's like they Nine know everything!"

    Noot picks up a little hint, that the Slavelords are seen once in a while along the street, then either just disappear, or sometimes they enter buildings and never come out. Of course, that could be rumor....

    "If we keep our eyes open," whispers Thorgrim, "it may be possible to find one of many secret entrances to the fortress."

    Elrae sings some songs, and after paying for some rounds, the party finally leaves, looking for another place. Your new friends clap you on the back as you leave, thanking you for the drinks, song, and fun. Then you find yourselves out in the dark, deserted streets. Following directions, they find an inn where they get rooms for the night.

    Last edited by ragnar on Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:31 am; edited 1 time in total

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    Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:56 pm  

    That's a great picture you found for Suderham. What Real World location is it?

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    Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:13 pm  

    That is Crater Lake in southern Oregon. It's almost the perfect place for Suderham.
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    Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:02 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 19 (Suderham)

    While discussing options in their rooms, Thorgrim casts Detect Traps. He finds traps in the ceilings of ALL your rooms. They are mechanical traps, and close inspection reveals a handful of small round holes, currently cunningly disguised and plugged, in the ceilings of all the rooms. What they may be for is unknown.

    Noot tries to do a closer inspection of the holes. He will try to disarm one if possible. He finds there is nothing to disarm, just holes plugged from above.

    "They are probably spyholes," says Emyn.

    "See, I told you this place is no good," says Elrae. "That is why I wanted to go somewhere else."

    Isilme casts Wraithform, and she then flows up through a crack in the ceiling. She finds that there is a large space above the rooms, covering the entire inn, and that there is a large apparatus in the space, connected to the holes by a tube and bellows system.

    "Some sort of gas trap or ventilation system, perhaps?" Noot muses.

    "You fall asleep and wake up as a slave," says Elrae. "This stinks of evil."

    "Sounds like you were right," adds Thorgrim

    "They probably boil black lotus and pump it into our rooms," says Elrae.

    Isilme studies it, but she doesn't really understand such mechanical contrivances, nor how the whole thing would work. There are valves on the central part, along with other things that she doesn't really understand. The tubing is made of some kind of tarnished metal, and she doesn't see how to disconnect them without some kind of tools, unless she wants to break them. The central mechanism is clearly the heart of the system. It is made of iron and looks like a strange kind of stove. It has a door that opens with a latch, just like a cast-iron stove. There is also a resovoir above it full of water, with a valve that lets the water flow into the "stove". How it all works is a bit of a mystery. Leaving it for now, she looks around the attic space. There is a secret door that goes out the side of the building, through the rear gable, though she doesn't see any particular way down from there.

    Taki storms off downstairs and finds the innkeeper going about is normal business. About half of the wealthier patrons have left, as well as a couple of the guards.

    "What can I do for you?" asks the inkeeper, wiping out a mug with an old rag.

    Taki flashes some gold and says, "I have business I need to speak to you about but it needs to be up stairs."

    The innkeeper takes your gold, and says he will join you upstairs in a few minutes. "Don't wanna attract attention, good Ser," he says with a smile.

    Taki leans in close and whispers, "if you value your life small man you will lead the way upstairs now or I will crush you. Do it or die."

    Taki comes back, and shortly later, leading the innkeeper. Once upstairs with the inn keeper Taki grabs him by the neck lifts him off the ground and asks him about the trap.

    The innkeeper is thoroughly cowed, and basically says there's nothing he can do. "The Slavelords run everything, know everything. Nobody comes or goes without their knowledge or permission. Those who go against them disappear, either into the slave pens or worse. He says all the inns are rigged, so any unsuspecting troublemakers can be easily captured. They pump some kind of gas into the rooms that knocks out everyone, and they then just take them away."

    "AH HA! I knew it." Elrae beaming with confidence. "Well boys and girls, the Slave Lords are probably on to us, or will be shortly when their little gas trap doesn't work. What now?"

    Hepla asks," How do they know which merchants to take, or is it just random?"

    The innkeeper doesn't know that. He doesn't give them info, nor do they talk to him. He just stays out of the way and uninvolved.

    "Innkeeper," says Emyn. "Have you or any of your guards or patrons reported us to teh Nine?"

    He looks afraid, so Taki grabs him by the shirt and says, "Speak up!"

    "No," he says. "Of course not." He then explains again, "The Slavelords KNOW everything that goes on! I don't say anything to anybody, and I told you what I know. Best to keep out of such affairs if you don't want to disappear."

    "Let's just burn this place to the ground then," says Taki.

    "Let's not be hasty, Taki," replies Emyn. "With all these buildings stacked cheek a jowl, we could end up hurting a lot of people who don't deserve it. Better to cut the head off of the snake instead."

    Isilme flies back down and casts Charm Person on the innkeeper. She then convinces him that you guys are his best friends, servants of the Slavelords, and sends him on his way. He is only most happy to leave.

    "We better get a good deal on the drinks now," calls Elrae as the inkeeper shuts the door.

    "Maybe we can stuff the beds to make it look like we are here," says Taki. "Trigger the gas on whomever comes to see about us?"

    "We have to get somebody up there who understands mechanical things," says Thorgrim.

    "A quick levitate on Thorgrim will suffice," says Hepla. She casts levitate on Thorgrim, who then goes out the window, levitates up, and enters the attic through the secret door Isilme found.

    There he looks at the machine and determines that it must be some kind of two-stage process. You put something into the stove-like part and seal it shut. Then you open the valve above to let water enter, and that produces a gas. Then you open the valves which allow the gas to flow to the various rooms. Since you do not have whatever substance they use, you cannot use the system yourselves.

    Thorgrim returns to the room. "I don't think the Slavers are after us, yet, unless their spies at the inn told them so," he says. "We should rest such as we are able, seek this blacksmith, and hit them tomorrow. As soon as we can or wait until nightfall, as you all please."

    He pauses. "Should we not have Noot disarm this trap? Or my warhammer will make short work of the apparatus."

    "Hepla and I will watch the attic," says Isilme. "Invisible, we can sleep, but if anyone comes, we can also surprise them." The party agrees, and since they feel safe, everyone goes to sleep.

    About four hours later, Hepla and Isilme are upstairs, invisible, when the secret door opens and two men sneak into the attic. They move over to the strange apparatus. Everyone else is downstairs sleeping.

    Isilme casts a sleep spell, and one of them drops to the ground heavily. The other spins around, looking around the dark room, seeking enemies. A charm spell by Hepla then succeeds in charming the man.

    After some questioning, they learn that the men are two thieves from the thieves guild. They were charged with gassing some occupants of the inn. Once finished, they would report back. Usually, the guests then just disappear afterwards. The thieves have learned to NOT ask questions. That's it for their part; the thieves just follow orders.

    "My friend, who gave you this order?" asks Hepla. "Do I understand you that you do not rob the ones you gas?"

    "Our orders come from the theives guild, at the bequest of the Slavelords," he replies. "The gas wears off in a few hours, the folks none the worse, except for whatever fate befalls them." In a backpack, they have a few blocks of the stuff, which when added to water creates the gas. [DM OOC: Don't ask too many questions about it; I made it up and don't even have any further idea how it works. It just does!]

    Hepla will take the blocks. She is interested in it's properties, mixes with water, heavier then air gas, knockout with no ill effects. "I might have a use for these."

    After a quick discussion, the thieves are sent back to report to the guild that their mission is accomplished. The charmed one is only too happy to do so, and he takes his accomplis with him. A few hours later a dozen guardsmen show up, once the inn has cleared out. They go up the stairs and approach the doors to your rooms.

    After a quick grease spell by Hepla, the party throws open your doors and attacks the guards. Taki and Emyn knock a couple out. Elrae sings a lullaby which drops half the guards, and the rest are easily taken. You have all of them prisoner in no time. There are no other guards around. There are a total of 10 guards, and you drag them all into the largest of the rooms you rented.

    After Taki gathers their weapons, Noot takes their belt pouches. They don't have much, but he appropriates the gold. Hepla asks,"what are your orders about us and who gave them?". She is looking for whoever they look to answer, an officer.

    Their commander. These guys are just common soldiers. Their orders are simply to take you [you're supposed to be knocked out!] and bring you to the dungeons beneath the keep.

    "Who gave that order," she replies. "Markessa?"

    "Some guard captain," he says. "It was just another order to go pick up captives and take them to the dungeons." He looks scared now, replying that "it's not good to question orders here." None of these guys have heard of Markessa.

    "Do you want to do the old switcheroo?" says Elrae. "We dress up as the guards and make the guards look like us and bring them to their leader?"

    "It might be a touch hard to appears as soldiers unless we leave our real equipment behind, which I am not prepared to do," says Emyn. "Many of us would also stand out," he looks at Taki, Hepla, Isilme, the dwarves.

    "What about an illusion then?" says Noot.

    "I would act like I was captured if it helps the cause," says Taki. "Maybe throw a cloak over my weapons."

    "Maybe Elrae can carry you," jokes Emyn. "I think our best bet is to get info on how to infiltrate this place from teh soldiers and then do so. We can tie up the soldiers. Either that, or charm them all and have them carry us "unconscious" there. When they try to strips us of our stuff, we fight back. The other way is to get info from them on how to influtrate the place and then do so as quickly as possible, provided they don't react to the tardiness of the soldiers."

    Hepla and Isilme both say that an illusion will be the best bet. Hepla then charms the leader. "We need help getting into the keep," she says sweetly. "My friend, I do not want to delay your mission but please explain what you were sent to do and who sent you. Who is your superior and who are the slavelords?"

    He doesn't know who the slavelords are. Nobody really does. Sometimes you see them, sometimes not, but mostly you just wonder. There are some leaders in Suderham, but nobody knows if they are the slavelords or not. The only one his knows of for sure is Eanwulf. He leads the army here in Suderham. He is a barbarian from the northeast, whose longships prowled the seas around the Pomarj and first began taking slaves a few years ago. He has since risen to command of all the armies in the Pomarj.

    The soldiers were commanded by their captain, likely on orders from Eanwulf, to capture people at the inn. They've done it many times in the past. The thieves knock them out, and the soldiers pick them up quietly, bringing them to the dungeons beneath the keep.

    "I do not like the sound of this Eanwulf," says Taki, "and would gladly challenge him to combat if their paths should cross."

    Emyn says, "The more we talk, the more suspicious this will be. Let's get going now."

    Taki smiles, "I am ready to swing this maul at something myself."

    Gotrek grunts, "Bout time."

    "Should we leave these evil guards tied up or just slay them to keep things quiet?" asks Elrae.

    "Lets leave them tied," says Taki. "Killing them would not be the proper thing to do."

    "I say tie them up and gag them where the machine in the attic is," says Emyn. "No point in killing them if we don't have to."

    That agreed upon, the party gets ready to go. Isilme uses illusions to make it seem that all the guards are leading the party as prisoners, when really the only guard present is the sergeant. He will lead you out a rear door which opens up to the fortress in the center of the wealthy district. A 10' stone wall with battlements and guards can be seen, enclosing a large square area. It has small towers in each corner, raised another 10'. A large tower, also 10' higher, is in the center of the north wall, and it through there you are taken. You go through a gate and two portcullises, maned by stern-faced guards. Between the wall and the keep is a large courtyard, covered with close-cut grass that is all but dormant right now. The guard leads you to a door in the SW tower. Once inside, you find another door, heavily barred with a small grate in the center. Two guards stand before it. The sergeant tells the guards that he has prisoners, the guard glances at the "illusion", then turns and bangs on the door, yelling for the turnkey as he opens the door. There is a spiral stair going down, and you hear the turnkey approaching.

    The turnkey appears at the top of the steps. Isilme is taxed continuing the illusions, but she does so successfully and the party goes down the stairs into a large dungeon area, the guards shutting and locking the door behind you. There is just the turnkey and the sergeant now, in a large area of passages and dungeon cells.

    Hepla charms the turnkey, who suddenly wonders what she's doing down there. Questioning him, they find out the following: You are in the dungeons of the Slavelords. Currently, the other cells are empty. The turnkey don't really know what happens to the prisoners brought here. They just vanish, eventually.

    [Emyn OOC: What amazes me is the person being charmed never seems to fail his or her save. We've been getting lucky with that.]

    [DM OOC: Well, Isilme is good with Charms. But....]

    [Isilme OOC: She not good at face to face combat, her magic is not like that. What irks me is lately every time I get a good sneak going and I run into a boss it's a gods damned elf I can't even try!]

    "I don't think a dungeon is a great place to begin an attack from," says Noot. "We need to find the way out and any other passages that might be useful. Perhaps our charmed friend may want to loan us his keys."

    Searching around, Noot then finds another secret door which opens into another whole set of tunnels. "Let's put them to sleep and lock them in a cell," he says. "Time to explore the door! -- I bet that's where the slavers come in -- perhaps we can find their lair."

    After knocking out and binding/gagging the two charmed men, Taki throws them into a cell. "Now, let's go!" he says, maul in hand and ready to smash something.

    "Right behind you," says Gotrek, finally smiling.

    Taking the keys Hepla locks the door to the cell they are asleep in then bows to Noot, and says, "This is your specialty, doors and traps, lead on."

    "I kinda like it when they go first," says Noot sheepishly. Noot, wearing his Slippers of Spider Climbing, will proceed thru the door, walking on the wall and searching for traps and listening carefully. "It might help if someone could be ready with invisibility."

    "Ah, you'll be fine," says Gotrek.

    Taki will allow him to get about 50 feet ahead and then take off at a slow pace, Gotrek next to him. Everyone else follows closely behind.

    [DM OOC: Ignore the lights!]

    Actually, this passage is lit by continual light spells. There are many smaller passages going off to either side, and they are not lit. Looking into them, you see small, round sewer tunnels, and rats go scurrying away when you shine a light in them. Obviously, the way to go is to follow this passage.

    Thorgrim quickly tells you that the passage is NOT going towards the keep. Rather, it leads beyond the city walls and begins to also slope upwards, though it maintains its depth underground. It seems to be leading towards the castle you saw earlier that overlooked the city from a higher promontory on the island.

    Isilme will drop the illusion in the dungeon and wizard lock the secret door on the inside after the party passes. She will trail far behind the party and guard the rear as usual. The passage goes on for about 1/4 mile before ending in a closed door. Noot listens at the door and checks the lock. If he can open it, he cracks it open and peeks out.

    Noot doesn't hear anything. There is no obvious way to open the door, but you find a small block in the wall that twists open to reveal a lever. Noot finds no traps, so he prepares to pull the lever. Everyone else backs up, Isilme casting invisibility, and the party prepares for anything.

    Noot pulls the lever and you can give the door a push. It swings open, revealing a long tunnel going to the left and right. To the right it goes down and is dark, while to the left it goes up and is lit by continual light spells as the corridor was.

    "Another entrance to the Underdark? It makes sense. We should scout the upward-sloping corridor first," says Thorgrim.

    The party follows this tunnel another couple hundred feet before it ends in a bricked up section with a large wooden door set into the middle. It is locked.

    Again, Noot checks the door. He hears nothing, but finds a mechanical trap. The keys from the turnkey do not work. They were for the cells back under the keep in Suderham. He successfully picks the lock and opens the door. It reveals a short corridor, built like the one you were in earlier. It goes about 25' before reaching a 4-way intersection. Continual light spells keep the area lit. There are chambers to the right and left, and they are full of crates, boxes, barrels, etc. Ahead of you is another 4-way intersection.

    A quick check of the crates reveals foodstuffs. Up ahead at the next intersection are two more side chambers. In one of them there are heavy crossbows, crates of bolts, along with racks of swords, spears, and halberds. The room to the other side is full of suits of chainmail and studded leather armor. The passage continues, and there is a locked door to the right. Further ahead there is a side passage which turns a corner and then ends with stairs going up, turning around to the right. The stairs end at another stout door. The passage that continued straight turns a corner to the left, and it ends in another door. So, there are three doors. One in the right-hand wall of the corridor, just beyond the last 4-way intersection, one at the top of the stairs going up, and one at the end of the corridor.

    Anyway, Noot listens at the right door, hearing nothing, and then picks the lock. Beyond the door is a large wine cellar. Thorgrim smiles and takes out his portable hole. When Emyn starts to complain, Gotrek gives him a sour look. "Priorities, boy," he says.

    After grabbing a couple boxes of bottles, Thorgrim closes up the hole. "No need to be greedy," he says.

    Noot then moves to the door at the end of the corridor. It is locked, and he cannot pick it.

    Emyn is about to bash it in, when the others stop him. "We need to be stealthy," says Noot, shaking his head. "Not every problem is solved by breaking things."

    "Only most," says Taki, who barely suppresses a laugh.

    "I can handle it," says Hepla, who then casts wraithform. She then flows right under the door. The area beyond is pitch black. She has to cast Light, which she does after ending her wraithform. She decides to check the place out on her own, and she sees a short corridor with two doors to the left and right and one straight ahead. The four side doors each have a small square grate in the center, and a slot along the bottom. The door straight ahead is open, and beyond it is a torture chamber. This is a dungeon. All the cells are empty except the last on the right.

    Hepla checks out the man in the cell. When she goes into the cell, she sees that the man is a half-orc. He's wearing only a torn pair of leggings. He is pretty strong and bears a lot of scars. He has a bunch of welts on his back from a whip, as well as a bunch of burns on his arms. He has been recently tortured.

    The man is asleep, so she leaves and checks out the torture chamber. Seen one you see them all. She then goes back to the door, cancels her wraithform spell, and unlocks the door. She opens it and tells the party what she found.

    This takes a good 5 minutes or so, and while she's doing that Isilme flies off back down the tunnel. She goes down the dark way for a couple of minutes. It just keeps going. After a few minutes, she comes to the realization that she's in a lava tube. Not wanting to go any further, she returns and gets back to the party just as Hepla opens the door to the cells.

    Taki will take up a guard spot making sure we don't get jumped, while Noot checks the other cells. They are empty, and he doesn't find anything strange within them. Thorgrim casts Know Alignment before you open the door and wake him. His auras are Lawful-Neutral. Emyn goes off to gather some weapons and armor for him, while Noot easily picks the lock and opens the door, which wakes up the half-orc. He is tired and hurt, but his eyes are very focused. He clearly doesn't miss much. He rolls backwards, stands up, hands balled into fists, and grimly says, "Who's first?"

    "Stand fast half-orc," says Elrae. "We have no quarrel with you, just the ones that put you here."

    "We are here to help," says Taki, seeing a fellow warrior in the half-orc. "I am Taki and these are my friends. We are here to take down the Slavelords."

    He looks at you with some skepticism, but as Emyn comes back with weapons and armor, setting it down before him, he sees that you are telling the truth. He nods, slipping on the leather and chain, some boots, and takes the halberd. "I prefer a sword if you've got one," he says, "but this will do." He reaches out his hand to Taki. "Turrosh Mak" he says, looking him squarely in the eye. "I'm in your debt."

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:42 pm  

    "Turrosh Mak." Ha! Happy

    Do your players know the significance of the person they just freed?

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    Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:19 pm  

    Nope. They had no idea. :) I should add, my TM is NOT the slavelord Theg Narlot. I had created a totally different background/story for him. But yes, he WILL go on to great things.....

    What's the old saying? No good deed goes unpunished!
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    Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:37 am  
    The Slavers - Part 20 (Drachen Keep)

    As he arms himself, Taki hands him a potion of Extra-Healing. Drinking it heals some of Turrosh Mak's wounds. "No need to worry about debt," says Taki. "You can either help us take down your former masters or try to make your way put on your own." He then hands him an extra sword.

    He takes the sword, and belts it on. "They are not my masters," he says. "I came here to free my people from their grasp, but landed in their clutches just the same. You will certainly have my help."

    Taki nods. "Can you give us any information on this place?"

    He tells you that this is Drachen Keep, former stronghold of the Lord of the Aerie. Now the Slavelords rule the Pomarj from Suderham. He knows the identities of only a few of them. The barbarian, Eanwulf, lives at the keep in Suderham. There are a couple of wizards, though he doesn't know their names nor where they live. The spymaster, a half-orc named Theg Narlot, is one of the Nine. He lives at the thieves guild in Suderham. It turns out that Theg set up Turrosh Mak, after pretending to aid him. That's how he was captured. He's not sure who lives here, though he was brought before the Nine once, when they captured him.

    There were the above-mentioned people, along with another woman and a grim-looking man with killer's eyes. There was a bald man who never said anything, but stood in the background and just watched calmly. There was also a priest of the Earth Dragon. Finally, there was a dark elf named Edralve, who seemed the personification of cruelty. They met at the Great Hall above, and questioned Turrosh about what he was doing here. It was the drow who tortured him. She seemed very upset that Turrosh was going to be sent to somebody named Klim, to be sacrificed to the Earth Dragon.

    He can sketch out the layout of the keep. Through the door above you enter the garrison barracks. There's about 50 men in the garrison, though about half are on duty at any given time. A spiral stair goes up to the great hall above. There are other corridors off the stair, but he never took any of them. They brought him through the barracks, up the stair to the hall, and then back down here only the one time.

    Isilme is still invisible, and she holds Maerthorlear before her, pointing it at Turrosh Mak as he speaks. She senses no lies from him.

    "Who are your people?" Thorgrim asks him.

    To the party, he says, "Sounds like Markessa, Jevon, Blackthorn, and Edralve are all here. Along with some new enemies of whose powers we know nothing. There's no knowing who's Klim, and maybe we don't need to know. One can be coerced as easily as the next. Whether we need his aid or not we shouldn't accept it, lest he bargain for his life. Their sentence is the same, one and all: death."

    He looks at Thorgrim, hesitant for a moment, before he continues. "The people of the Pomarj," he says. "Of all races, even the orc. They deserve to be free of these Slavelords, just as much as any."

    When he sees Thorgrim's obvious reaction, he adds. "If we live through this, I'll tell you my story, Master Dwarf. But for now, let's leave philosophy alone. Blood and justice is my kin tonight."

    Thorgrim considers. "I know not what hateful act of malice spawned you and hellishly dragged your soul, unbidden, into this world..." He pauses, thinking.

    "But we seem to be united in cause. Join us and accept this healing." Thorgrim then cures Turrosh Mak's remaining wounds.

    "The longer we hang out in any given spot," says Taki, already getting antsy, "the longer we give them a chance to catch us unprepared, lets be off to take the fight to them."

    "It might make sense to explore this place then," adds Emyn. "and, if nothing else, burn it to the ground when we are done."

    Hepla cancels her invisibility, then changes form with her running Polymorph, taking the form of Markessa. Turrosh Mak notices the change, lifting an eyebrow at the whole affair, but he doesn't react to the appearance of Hepla/Markessa.

    "Yes, let's ascend the stairs and get Noot to open up that door," says Emyn, impatient as well.

    As we start out, again, Hepla is surprised that he did not recognise Markessa. She takes out her small mirror to make sure she got the morphing right. She wonders if Markessa is part of the nine or just missed the meeting that day. As the party moves out, she asks,"How long have you been here?"

    "Just a couple of days," he says.

    Hepla takes Gotrek's potion of Clairvoyance and drinks it.

    "It probably wouldn't even work for me," he mutters.

    She borrows Noots Ring of Infravision so she can see. With that she can see beyond the door. Beyond the stairs is a chamber where it seems the guard captains sleep. There are a couple men sleeping there. The garrison room has about 20 sleeping men. There is a chapel beyond that, dedicated to the Earth Dragon. In the far room is a bedchamber with a sleeping man. The spiral stair goes up throughout the keep.

    On the first floor is a hall [labeled museum] with a couple of soldiers. The queen's chamber is an empty bedroom. The other room (4) is a guardroom, with 4 guards in it. She can't see the next floor yet.

    "Lets take out the guard captain and his officers first," says Taki. "Then we can deal with the others."

    The group moves up the stairs, and Noot checks the door. It's locked, but he easily picks it. As he pushes the door open, is squeals loudly. From the dark interior you hear a voice mumble something unintelligible.

    Taki and Emyn surge into the chamber. The light of Taki's maul, along with the noise of the party's movements into the room, wakes the guard captain, who rolls from his bed as Taki advances. Noot is the next behind them, with the rest of the party strung out down the stairs.

    Thorgrim throws a Silence spell in the center of the room, just as the captain begins to shout. He looks confused when the sound disappears, and then Taki slams him in the face with his maul, dropping him to the ground. Emyn is right next to him, stabbing him through his naked chest. Noot slips over to the next room, looking into it. He doesn't obviously hear anything, but the light from Taki's maul reveals sleeping men. Nobody seems to have stirred. He points to Taki's maul, makes an encompassing gesture at all the light, and shakes his head. Meanwhile, the rest of the party enters the room.

    Hepla looks at the captain, thinking to morph into him, but his face is nearly completely caved in by Taki's maul. She can't tell what he may have looked like. She looks away, almost getting sick at the sight.

    Taki nods, covering his maul with his cloak. Everything is dark again, except a small amount of light filtering up the stairs through the open door.

    "Let's sneak to where the temple is and take out the cleric or head priest or whatever that person is." says Emyn. "If we can take a spellcaster alone, it will be easier than trying to fight him when protecvted by others."

    Taki looks around, finds the captains belt pouch with a handful of coins in it. While he's doing that, Thorgrim casts silence on one of the silver coins. Noot carries it, standing in the center of the party. Hepla meanwhile morphs into a bat and flies through the next room with the sleeping guardsmen. In total silence, the party moves into the next chamber. After crossing the room with the sleeping guards, the party sneaks into the next antechamber. It is a sitting room for the priest. They move through there into the chapel. Beyond that is a door, on the other side of which is the priest's bedroom. The door is locked.

    There's a lot of religious paraphenelia in the antechamber, though it's more of a private nature. It doesn't seem that this is a place for services or anything like that. Meanwhile, Noot picks the lock. Because of the silence, you get into the next room without issue. The priest is sleeping in his bed. Turrosh Mak sets a grim face when he sees him.

    Hepla motions for the silence field to move far enough so she can cast Charm on the priest, then move back quickly so if he wakes and is not charmed he cannot cast a spell. The bands should be handy. Isilme, still invisible, stays outside the room with the 20 troops, prepared to wizard lock the door or use the wand on them.

    Hepla tries to charm the priest, but fails. He tosses fitfully in his sleep, then opens his eyes, waking up. Thogrim quickly tosses the coin on the foot foot of the bed as Taki and Emyn grab the priest and hold him immobile. He is easily bound with a rope, and Thorgrim interrogates him just outside the area of silence. His name is Rorik, and when he sees Turrosh Mak and glowers at him, until Emyn slaps him!

    Hepla begins to question him. Hepla asks the questions:

    "Where are the nine? Who are they? and Why do you react to Turrosh Mak, the half-orc so? Keep answering truthfully and you may get to live, you are doing well."

    "Nine? Because there are nine. It's a good number," he says smugly.

    Emyn then slaps him again. "Who are they?" says Emyn, "I want names!"

    With a sword to his throat, he names all the slavelords: Eanwulf the barbarian, Nerelas the assassin, Ajakstu and Lamonsten the wizards, Slippery Ketta the thief and Guildmaster of Suderham, Theg Narlot who commands the humanoids, Edralve the Drow, Brother Milerjoi the monk, and Stalman Klim the High Priest of the Earth Dragon. He reacted to Turrosh Mak because he's supposed to be locked up in the dungeon.

    "Who scares you most?" asks Hepla, as she again morphs into Markessa.

    "Edralve," he begins, the he gasps when Hepla turns into Markessa. He knows who she is.

    "You know who I am?" asks Hepla/Markessa.

    He nods, and as he answers, she then learns that Markessa is the head of the Outer Council. She is NOT one of the nine Slavelords, though she desires to be. They have stayed with Nine as it's a powerful number, so she cannot join the Inner Council until there is an opening. As it is, she is the most powerful, dangerous, and demented of all the Outer Council.

    "Then you know why we are here," answers Hepla/Markessa. "I need an opening on the nine, perhaps two or three openings. I might just need a new high priest, are you interrested?" Hepla asks. "Keep answering the questions, I need to know you are not an idiot as some of them say you are."

    He knows you are not the real Markessa. "You are just one of her twisted experiements," he says with a smile. "The sad truth is, you don't even know it!"

    "The happy truth is I do know it," says Hepla/Markessa, "and I have broken free, I am stronger then the real Markessa and want her serving me when we take seats on the council." Then she morphs into Black Markessa.

    "What do you want from me?" he asks.

    "You can die, false priest," snarls Turrosh Mak.

    Hepla holds a hand up, silencing the others. "The real Markessa never told me some key details of the layout here. You can earn a place next to me by telling me just where and when we can take out at least two and then show the rest that we deserve a seat at their table. Or you can content yourself with being second for the rest of your life. These who came with me want to help me take my place so they can earn rewards, some money, some power in the world, one even love, but they know they will not be rewarded unless I become one of the nine. Me, who has broken the midflayers power, me who has escapped Markessa's spells, I can and have proven myself the greater but now I offer you the chance. Are you with me?"

    He laughs, looking from you to Turrosh. "False priest?" he scoffs. "The Earth Dragon is true, It's power supreme. As you will soon find out."

    He looks back at Hepla. "You think we care for these Slavelords?" He laughs. "The Earth Dragon demands far more than slaves, and It shall have it. If you want to live, you will swear faith and loyalty to the Earth Dragon. Then maybe you shall be allowed to serve IT!"

    "I will never bow to a pathetic godling like yours," says Emyn, glowing at him. "Trithereon is the way to salvation. I am an Avenger of Trithereon, acolyte. You know just how far I will go to achieve my goals, for foul deeds must sometimes be done to further the greater good. You will cooperate and summon Klim here or face the wrath of the Holy Summoner."

    "Spit on The Summoner!" he says. "The Earth Dragon shall tread this world once again, and all your petty godlings will be brushed aside like children."

    "You seem to want death," says Hepla/Markessa. "Tou are an idiot like I had heard. Your choice." With that Hepla/Black Markessa takes out the two halves of Markessa's Magic Missle wand and shows it to him. "Want some proof of my power? That is what is left of Markessa"s trinkets, you will be next."

    "Well, since you are so convinced of the Earth Dragon's superiority," says Emyn, "let him reattach these." Emyn then uses his dagger and cuts off the priest's genitalia. He screams in pain as Emyn lops off his balls.

    You suddenly hear Isilme's soft voice whispering, "What happened? Oh." The sigh that follows tells you that she sees Emyn still standing there with the priest's bloody balls in his hand. "Humans," she says. "Always impatient. Quick, the men are waking."

    Thorgrim feels almost bad enough to heal the priest's wound. "Just ain't right," he says, "even to an enemy."

    Taki, Emyn, and Thorgrim are close to the real priest and within the silence area. Elrae is within it as well, using Snowfang to detect Magic. The priest's robes are magical, as is his suit of scale mail. There is also a magical helm, shaped like a dragon. Everyone else is in the fore of the room, just outside of the silence. Berenn is standing back against a wall, invisible in his cloak. He's been silently trailing the party for some time. The others are sort of just standing around, except for Noot who's hidden in the shadows somewhere.

    Turrosh Mak stides out to Hepla. "What is your plan, witch?" he says quickly. "We don't have much time." He doesn't say "witch" like it's a bad thing, just matter of fact.

    "Time to take care of the guards," she says, and pushes the door back open.

    Turrosh looks out, "They ain't gonna like me being here," he says, a grim smile crossing his face.

    "Wait 'til they get a load of me!" says Gotrek, also smiling.

    Light shines into the next room from the garrison room, and two guards then rush into the antechamber. They can see into the next room, where Hepla calls out, "The prisoner's escaped!" The men are not armored, but they have swords in their hands. They make to attack Turrosh Mak.

    The guards rush in, going after Turrosh Mak. The first one reaches him, and TM slices him twice across face and chest, killing him. Gotrek then charges around TM and hits the second, cleaving him nearly in two, right through the stomach. He falls on the floor, blood and guts spraying all over Hepla. The men rush out, through the antechamber, and run into more guards. Thorgrim tosses his silenced silver piece out the nearest arrow slit, considering that the time for stealth has now fled.

    Gotrek leaves the antechamber and while on the steps of the spiral stair runs into three guards coming from the garrison room. Behind Gotrek, in order, are Turrosh Mak, Emyn, and Taki. In the next room are Berenn, Noot, and Isilme all hidden or invisible. In the far chamber, where the priest is tied up bleeding in bed are Hepla, Thorgrim, and Elrae.

    Drachen Keep- ground floor

    1st floor plan

    [Here's the floorplan. I used a castle in either England or Wales, and it had a virtual tour which I used to show what it really looks like. Unfortunately, I can't recall which castle it was. If I do, I'll let you know, unless somebody else knows. I also don't have any old battlemaps, just these originals, so I'll just post them for your enjoyment!]

    The men of the garrison are shouting, and the party hears more shouts from up the stairs. Elrae gives the priest the gift of mercy and slices his throat with Snowfang.

    The guard swings at Gotrek, but his blade just clangs off his armor. Gotrek hits him in return, knocking him back into the guys behind him and making all three fall. The one he hit doesn't move. Gotrek then steps up as another guard strides over the fallen ones and misses him. TM rushes up the stairs, and you immediately hear the clang of steel on steel from up above. Emyn and Taki move out onto the stairs.

    Thorgrim nods at Elrae, then moves out to follow the warriors.

    Gotrek yells, "Clangeddin!" Goreblade rises and falls, as bodies start to pile up around him. For the first time in a long time, he is content. He presses on, growling as he does so.

    Gotrek kills the guards in front of him, and those in the garrison room back up. Some are now armored, and they advance.

    Gotrek pushes into the room, knocking over the guard in the way. He takes a cut from one of the guards he passes [4], but he is now in the thick of the fighting. Emyn pushes in behind him, kicking the prone guard in the teeth and he enters. The guard rolls over, spitting blood, then gets up as more come up. About half these guards have their chain shirts on, while the rest are still without armor. Gotrek just smiles.

    Taki runs upstairs, following Turrosh. Turrosh has stepped off the stairs, and he's fighting another guard in the tight passage leading to another guardroom. Taki slips out another passage to the left, leading to the great room, and runs into a guard there. He tries to hit him with his maul, but the close quarters makes the large weapon unwieldy. Taki misses, and takes a stab in the arm for his troubles. [4]

    Berenn slips out passed everyone and starts up the stairs. He is blocked by Turrosh and Taki, who are locked in combat with a couple of guards. Noot and Elrae are going through the priest's quarters. Noot finds letters in the desk, and he stuffs them in his pocket. Elrae shrugs and follows Isilme back out into the antechamber.

    Hepla and Isilme are now in the antechamber, and they stop when Hepla senses another wizard scrying.

    Elrae grabs the helmet and preist garbs. This could come in handy for my next performance, he thinks. After Noot and Elrae take everything that is of value the continue on to help their friends.

    Isilme relaxes and stays out of it then. These guys wanted a big fight anyway, she thinks.

    Gotrek kills another guard, as does Thorgrim, hitting one who was fighting Emyn. Thorgrim steps up into the room, going back to back with Gotrek. A guard hits Thorgrim [2] and one misses Emyn. Emyn hits him back killing him, then steps up beside Gotrek. Gotrek it attacked by three guards, getting hit once [3]. Hepla, Isilme, and Elrae are discussing the priest's stuff. Noot finds the priest's money: a coffer full of gems and a belt pouch with 250 PP.

    Upstairs, Taki pushes forward, knocking the guard back and entering the great hall. He is hit by the guard [1]. There are two other guards, one of which has a crossbow. He fires it at Taki, but misses. The other guard moves across the room to face Taki as well.

    Turrosh Mak meanwhile kills the guard he was fighting, and steps into the guardroom in front of him. There he faces two more guards.

    Berenn hears guards up above. [I'm assuming he's been holding his sword all this time.] When the guards come down the stairs, he hits the first one, killing him and appearing. The other two are too startled to act. Only one can face Berenn at a time, the other being further up the stairs.

    [Again, we see the party getting all spread out. It's quite hard to follow, actually, and without my Maptools maps, it would have been impossible. I had to have three combat maps going simultaneously, with the party on three levels, moving back and forth, man! Still, it's a great tool, and for this style of play, that is via a forum, it's indispensible.]

    Thorgrim gets hit in the side with a longsword [18: ouch, x3 crit!] The guard attacking Emyn hits his companion [and a fumble!]. One of the three attacking Gotrek hit him [6]. Thorgrim hits his guy with his pick, killing him. Gotrek hits TWO guys, killing them both, while Emyn hits his guy killing him too. [Good round!] The three who were hanging back step up and attack. These guys are all fully armored now. Thorgrim is hit [5], Gotrek is missed, and the one attacking Emyn trips over the dead guys at his feet and falls to the ground.

    Isilme goes into the garrison room and is amazed at the carnage. All but four of the guards are down, and everything is covered in blood, including her three companions. She returns to the stairs and moves stealthily up them, coming up behind Berenn who is fighting the two guards ahead of them [in antechamber room 4].

    Noot retrieves the items, then joins Elrae and Hepla.


    The guards attack Taki in the Great Hall [actually the Museum room of the level 1 map, room 2]. He is hit [9, that was a x3 crit too!]. One guy misses and the other impales himself on his own blade [crit hit self on a fumble!]. On the stairs Berenn is hit [5], while in the guardroom Turrosh takes two hits. He misses twice. Taki kills one with his maul, but misses with his second attack. Berenn misses the guy on the stairs.

    From out of an archway beyond the great hall, Taki catches a glimpse of a dark-elf woman with long white hair entering the room.

    Isilme is now on the 1st floor. She's on the stairs just below Berenn. These stairs don't give any way to fly over or around. She could probably get passed him if she's careful, and get into the small passage behind him. That would allow her to get to the great hall. Noot, Elrae, and Hepla are still downstairs, hanging back to let the warriors finish their fight.


    The guards attack first. Gotrek is hit by another blow [7]. The prone guy gets up and hits Emyn [6], while the last guy misses Thorgrim. Thorgrim swings back missing. Emyn hits his opponent [11], but doesn't kill him. Gotrek misses twice.

    Hepla moves over to the garrison room and tells the boys to hurry up, while Noot moves around the combat and heads up the stairs. When he sees Berenn fighting on the stairs, he walks up the side, using his Slippers of Spider Climbing, and moves up beside him, crouching low (high) to stay out of the way. Elrae goes up the stairs too, but finds his way blocked by Berenn, fighting a couple guards.


    Isilme takes care to avoid the fight, way to the small passage to the left. She will reach the hall [Museum room area 2] next round.

    Taki suddenly feels himself wracked with indescribable pain [14]. He screams out, which shakes Isilme coming up behind him, for he has never cried, ever. He drops his maul and collapses to his knees, helpless. The warrior he was battling attacks him, hitting him with his sword [6]. Taki then falls over, writhing in agony.

    Berenn and the guard on the stair trade ineffective blows. In the other guardroom, Turrosh kills another guard, while the other guard loses his grip on his sword which is knocked away. In fact, Elrae can't see anyone except the guard Berenn is fighting. Iislme finally enters the chamber, seeing Taki writhing in agony on the floor. From her vantage point, Isilme can see the female dark-elf across the chamber.


    The warriors all finish off the remaining guards. Hepla just took out her whip to help when the last guard is slain. "Put that away, girl," says Gotrek. "This is man's work!" He then starts up the stairs towards the sound of battle.

    "Sounds like the party is still going upstairs," she answers. She then gives a little bow, "after you." She stays armed with the whip and follows Gotrek.


    Isilme tries to see if the dark elf is doing anything, like maintaining a spell, but she can't tell. She does notice that she's laughing wickedly. The guard standing above Taki raises h is sword and is readying a coup de grace on the fallen warrior.

    Not willing to expose herself just yet with a fellow drow in the room, Isilme casts scare on the fighter attacking Taki. The guard suddenly drops his sword and turns away from whatever he sees, running in fear. Isilme slips out into the chamber and flies up to the ceiling, where she begins to move towards the dark elf. The dark elf frowns, glancing in her direction, though not directly at her.

    "Spoil my fun, eh?" and casts a spell. Isilme recognizes the Dispel Magic, and suddenly she is visible and no longer flying. Since she is wearing Boots of Levitation, which control her vertical movements at will, she only drops a few feet before invoking their power and stopping her fall. She is, in essence, hovering about 12' above the ground.

    "That's better," says the dark elf priestess. She sees Isilme, currently in the guise of an elf, tatooed like the first Markessa double they encountered. "An elf? Well, this WILL be fun." You see she has a strange rod in her left hand, the head of which is a mass of writhing tentacles. Isilme has NO IDEA what that rod is. Though she too is a dark elf, she has never seen such a thing. She does't who this dark elf in the strange purple robes is, but she is seriously creeping Isilme out. Taki continues to lie helpless on the floor.

    In the guardroom to the right, Turrosh Mak misses his opponent, who then tackles him, both falling on the floor grappling.

    In the stairway Berenn hits the guy above him, finally killing him. He steps up 5' to meet the next guy, who misses him.

    "Fools," you hear a voice from above say, followed by a strange crackling sound. Noot dives into the space to the left as a lightning bolts erupts from above, bouncing its way down the spiral stairs to the bottom. It blasts away the guard above Berenn. Berenn takes a full blast in the chest [28], barely getting his shield up in time. He is knocked backwards down the stairs, tumbling about 10' before stopping [2]. He lies smoking, a huge hole blasted right through his shield [DESTROYED]. His elven cloak is in tatters as well [DESTROYED], but his armor, though blackened, is ok. Noot barely escapes the main force of the blast [20]. Elrae also takes a full blast [39], which knocks him back to the bottom of the stairs [2]. His chainmail armor is destroyed, along with his crossbow and cittern. Gotrek dives back out of the stairs just in time to not be hit. [ouch! Well, guess one of the wizards has appeared....]

    Hepla is stepping out of the way to let the fighters by when the lightning bolt blasts down the spiral stairs. They sound is deafening, and the flash is quite brilliant. For a second she is blinded, and when her vision clears she finds a stunned Elrae rolling out of the stairway, his clothes smoking.


    Isilme cancels the magic that makes her look like an elf, revealing that she too is a dark elf. "I hear lolth calling for you," she says in Drow. "Time to die bitch"

    "Lolth can rot in the Abyss, Spider-Lover," replies the priestess." She is clearly a bit shocked though.

    In the other room, Turrosh Mak shoves the guard off him; he impaled him on his sword when he grappled him. He stands up, glances back towards the stairs where Berenn is crawling through the narrow archway, then strides into the great room.

    Berenn crawls out of the stairs, casting Cure Serious Wounds on himself and curing [15]. Noot goes down the small stairs, around the corner (away from the great hall) and hides in the shadows.

    Hepla moves out of the way, and Thorgrim grabs Elrae, pulling him away and casting CLW on him [8].

    So, we have Isilme levitating in the Great Hall [Museum room 2], with the drow priestess across from her. Taki lies on the ground, still writhing in pain. Turrosh Mak is in the guardroom [area 4] having just dispatched the last guard. Berenn and Noot just crawled out of the circular stairs, Berenn into area 4 and Noot to the left, the way Isilme went and into the small corridor which goes to the SE corner of the Great Hall. Downstairs are the rest, Elrae, Emyn, Gotrek, Thorgrim, and Hepla.

    Last edited by ragnar on Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:29 am; edited 2 times in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:57 am  
    Newcastle Keep

    I just remembered, it's Newcastle Keep.

    I will add this link, so you can see the virtual tour I found. I used it to show the party what a lot of the various rooms looked like. Everyone actually enjoyed just doing the tour for themselves anyway, since it was cool. :)
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    Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:19 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 21 (Damn! We're in a tight spot!)

    [Thorgrim OOC: We are getting our asses KICKED and fast!]

    [Isilme OOC: I agree, and fast. I am alone. If it were not for Taki I would have got out of there. Isilme does not like getting her hands dirty close up like this. oh that and I ahve an opponent that spells probably wont work on - lets just say I have a hunch even though she has been working on the surface she still has full resistance. Well, here goes nothing.]


    Isilme drops to the ground, looking like Kate Beckinsale in the beginning of Underworld! She then rushes right at the surprised drow and slashes at the tentacle rod in her hand. Maerthorlear cuts right through it, and the rod explodes in a violent concussion. Isilme takes [34] and is blown back 15'. The dark elf is also blown backwards through the archway to her own chamber, disappearing into the darkness beyond. When Isilme comes to, she will see that she is holding only the hilt of Maerthorlear, the blade having been blown apart by the magical explosion. She's unconscious right now. Taki then shakes his head, gets up, and charges across the room after the drow yelling some strange warcry Isilme has never heard.


    Gotrek and Emyn rush ahead and up the stairs. They get to the next level, see the blasted people and Berenn crawling away. Gotrek keeps going up, singing, while Emyn moves to check on Berenn, asking where Isilme is. Berenn shakes his head and points towards the great room. "I heard her that way."

    Hepla runs up the stairs. She sets her Ioun stone circling and is hoping that it actually does what she read it did, absorbs spells cast at .

    Gotrek nearly runs into a wizard who just cast a clairvoyance to see what happened. SURPRISE! The stairs continue to go up, but there's just the one way to go on this level, and that's through the wizard.

    Drachen Keep 3rd Floor

    OK, so Isilme is unconscious on the floor. The drow is knocked back against the wall in her chamber, with Taki looming over her. Turrosh Mak is coming into the great hall right now. Berenn is healing, and Emyn is standing above him, about to move into the great hall in search of Isilme. Gotrek is upstairs, face to face with the wizard who just fired that Lightning Bolt. Hepla, Thorgrim, and Elrae are all on the ground floor still.

    The drow priestess is stunned, and she puts her hands up, pleading for Taki to protect her. The big man looks confused for a moment, lowering his maul. Then he shakes his head as he clears his mind of whatever spells she was trying to cast upon him.

    "Nice try," he says grimly as he slams his maul into the priestess [17]. He swings again, hitting her a second time [14] as she tries to fend off the blows.

    Turrosh Mak moves over to check on Isilme. Seeing that she's alive, he then moves across the great hall to follow Taki. He approaches him from behind, and sees him slamming his maul into the priestess. He can't get passed the big man, so stands there, breathing hard from the heavy fighting. The drow throws up her hands, crying for mercy from Taki, but her only answer is another swing of Taki's maul. The large man never stops; he just keeps slamming the woman repeatedly until even Turrosh Mak turns away.

    Emyn and Berenn move up the stairs and into the great hall, where they are joined by Hepla, who immediately goes over to Isilme. They see Berenn has his rod in hand, and he hurries over to her as well.

    Upstairs, the wizard backs up and disappears. Behind him are a score of guardsmen, and Gotrek howls in rage as he charges forward. He kills one with his first blow, and the next one attacks him missing. With his second blow he kills him as well.

    Noot sneaks upstairs, crawling along the ceiling. He sees Gotrek moving forward after the wizard disappeared, and then sees two guards coming down the stairs from above, looking to take Gotrek in the rear. He stabs one in the back, killing him instantly. The other whirls around, startled at facing the upside-down thief who stands on the ceiling.

    Those downstairs hear Gotrek's cry of rage, and Thorgrim decides to continue up to help Gotrek. He sees the guard with his back to him, facing Noot, and hits him in the back with his pick, killing him. Elrae, hesitant about another near-death, hangs back. He gets up and approaches the stairs on the ground floor, looking up. [he's the only one on the ground floor now.]

    Meanwhile, downstairs, Elrae hears a sound behind him, from the priest's chapel, like something was just knocked over. Drawing Snowfang, he moves into the room. He hears mumbled chanting from around the corner. When he looks, he sees the bloody priest, clutching the idol of earth dragon. He looks up at Elrae. "Klim was a fool," he says. "He should never have led you here." He spits out blood. "Bringing down Edralve was not worth this," he gasps. "Not worth the wrath...of....the....Earth...Dra....." and then he slumps on the floor, dead. Elrae sees a sacrificial dagger in the priest's hand, buried to the hilt into his own belly. It is almost as if he sacrificed himself....

    Berenn uses his Rod of Xodal on Isilme, healing [10]. She comes around, and Hepla gives her a big hug. Emyn has a tear in his eye, then grimly turns in search of vengeance.

    On the third floor, Gotrek kills another guard, moving forward. He is missed by the next one then kills him with single swing. Thorgrim moves over to the left, peeking through the arrow slit into another great hall [this is actually the one that says Great Hall], while Noot moves up the stairs, reaching the next level which has a balcony overlooking the King's Great Hall below. From their two positions, they see, standing in the hall, a wizard, surrounded by a half-dozen soldiers.

    [Isilme OOC: The bloody priest is dead, balls chopped off and throat cut........ how exactly did he rise up to sacrifice himself again?]

    [DM OOC: He had just a little bit of life left. Very common plot device, actually.]

    [Isilme OOC: And that's why I chop heads off!]

    Taki turns and leaves, brushing passed Turrosh Mak and following the sound of the fighting. With a glance in at the grisly scene, Turrosh Mak follows him. Hepla helps Isilme up as Isilme cures 10 more hp. Berenn casts CLW for 8 as well. Thorgrim goes upstairs and finds Noot, healing him with a CLW [7].

    Meanwhile, the wizard casts a spell. The warrior next to him sees Thorgrim and Noot up on the balcony above and shouts a warning. Gotrek kills the guard in front of him, then moves into the great hall. Two guards block his path, attacking twice each. He takes one hit [5].

    Taki and Turrosh Mak reach the stairs and begin to climb.

    [So, we have Gotrek standing in the entrance to the Great Hall on the 2nd floor, with guards blocking the path between him and the wizard. He is actually pretty much surrounded. He also just went into a rage! Noot and Thorgrim are on the balcony above, overlooking the room. They see two other guards on the balcony, on the far side of the room. These guards have crossbows. Taki and Turrosh Mak are at the stairs, but one floor down. Isilme, Hepla, Berenn, and Emyn are in the lesser hall on the floor below. Elrae is at the ground floor back in the chapel.]

    Noot slips back and hides in the shadows while Thorgrim casts Dimensional Anchor on the wizard. Taki and Turrosh Mak rush up the stairs when there is an explosion above them. The wizard points his staff at the balcony, and a fireball flies from it, exploding just above Thorgrim. Both he and Noot make their saves, Noot taking [14] and Thorgrim taking [10]. Their cloths are smoking, but since the entire area is unadorned stone, nothing catches fire.

    Gotrek kills one guard. All five of the remaining ones attack him, and he is hit by one and by their leader, who steps in front of him to block his path. Gotrek then hits another guard, killing him. The guards across the hall fire crossbows at Thorgrim, but both miss as they bounce off the stone balcony's parapet.

    Isilme goes over to the body of the drow in the next room, to see if there is any breath of life left. She is clearly dead, beaten truly into a broken, bloody pulp. Of course she will cast a DETECT MAGIC, removing anything magical from the body (the broken wand if she is clutching that too) and pointing out anything magical in the room to the others. There is little magic on her. A ring, a dagger, and a broach. There is residual magic in the broken Rod, though it's fading. Same goes for the broken blade of Maerthorlear. Isilme feels a strange, dwindling emotion of contentment as the magic of the blade fades away.

    "Farewell Maerthorlaer my faithful old friend," says Isilme, wiping tears from her eyes.

    Emyn went with her, to protect her, while Berenn and Hepla moved to the stairs. Downstairs, Elrae makes sure that the priest is truly dead this time and takes the dagger, before coming up the stairs too. He runs into Hepla and Berenn on the first level.

    Isilme searches through the drow priestess's quarters, gathering up a bunch of stuff. She does a very thorough search, so she's out of action for a bit. Emyn stands guard, but feels anxious about Hepla.

    Noot goes even further away this time, slinking along the balcony over to the right side. Thorgrim also ducks down behind the balcony and quickly casts Protection from Fire on himself. Taki rushes through the halls and reaches the point behind Gotrek. He takes out his Iron Bands, planning to throw them at the next foe. Turrosh Mak goes upstairs, reaching Thorgrim on the balcony above, and kneels beside him too.

    Thorgrim looks at him, shaking his head. "Strange bedfellows, eh?"

    Turrosh Mak just smiles.

    The guards attack Gotrek, who doesn't feel a thing. One of the guards loses his weapon. Gotrek hits him, killing him. The guards attack again, their blows clanging against Gotrek who just keeps laughing, singing, and focusing on the wizard. He then kills another guard.

    Berenn and Hepla reach the next level, just as Taki goes around the corner. They follow him.

    When the wizard sees no movement up above, he smiles and turns his attention back to Gotrek. He points at him and fires a group of magic missiles from his fingertips, which streak into the raging dwarf.

    The wizard casts another spell when he sees Taki enter. Suddenly Taki, Berenn, and Hepla feel very sluggish. Hepla figures out that they are under the effect of a Slow spell.

    Gotrek is hit by the warrior, and Gotrek hits him back. He then is missed, and Gotrek finishes him off, opening the way to the wizard.

    Upstairs, Thorgrim casts a Hold Person, holding both the guards on the balcony opposite him. Noot sneaks around to the first one, pulls him down, and slices his throat. Turrosh Mak sneaks around the balcony the other way.

    Taki slowly moves out into the room to Gotrek's left, while Berenn makes his way to Gotrek's right. Taki was going to throw his bands, but just can't act fast enough. Hepla come up behind them, casting Dispel Magic. Suddenly the sluggishness is gone. The wizard looks at Hepla with scorn, and Taki is newly determined to throw his bands now that the spell is countered.

    Elrae is up to the first level now, and he goes out into that hall, finding Emyn guarding the drow's chamber where Isilme is busy. Before anyone can do anything else, there is a deep rumbling and the entire fortress seems to shudder.

    "It looks as if the Earth Dragon has awoken," says Elrae. "Let's get the Nine Hells out of here."

    "I get the feeling the twice dead priest summoned the earth dragon," says Isilme. "Can't win em' all."

    [ Gotrek, Taki, and Berenn are actually inside the GREAT HALL on the 2nd Floor. Hepla is right behind them in the archway which leads around back to the stairs. On the balcony overlooking the hall are Thorgrim, Noot, and Turrosh Mak; they are technically on the 3rd Floor.

    On the level below, inside the drow priestess's chamber (the one marked Queen's Chamber) are Isilme, Elrae, and Emyn.]

    Isilme summons her LLL (Leomund's Labile Locker, in case you forgot!) and puts all the stuff from the dead priestess inside it. While she does that, Emyn moves up to the next floor. Elrae takes his old "normal" crossbow from the chest once Isilme summons it.

    Upstairs, Hepla fires her magic missiles, which streak around Gotrek's head and slam into an invisible shield around the wizard. He points his hand towards the party, though you don't see anything happen. Berenn hits the warrior fighting Gotrek, killing him and clearing the path. Gotrek and Taki both move up to attack the wizard, and slam into an invisible barrier. Gotrek hacks at it madly with Goreblade, without effect while Taki moves along [looking like a mime!] trying to find a way around. The barrier goes all the way to the left hand wall.

    Upstairs, Noot sneaks around and kills the second and last guard upstairs while Thorgrim casts CLW on himself [7].

    Turrosh Mak rushes along the balcony and leaps over it with a yell, landing atop the wizard, both falling to the ground in a heap. The wizard drops his staff, which rolls away from him.

    Isilme takes her +2 Longsword from the LLL, before sending it back to the ethereal. Then the earth suddenly shakes in a most severe way. [Not sure if anyone's ever felt a quake, but if so it's beyond anything you've ever felt.] Nobody can hardly do anything. The balcony where Thorgrim is collapses, and he barely gets away in time. He scrambles towards the stairs, and is shocked when they start to collapse. The whole side of the keep simply starts to crumble away. Everyone inside is thrown violently to the ground, and no actions are possible. This continues for what seems like a couple of minutes, and by the time it's over, nearly the entire eastern side of the keep is gone. Those who look out are stunned by what they see!

    The peak of the island above Suderham is exploding!

    Off to the right, a huge fissure has opened up and lava is pouring out into the lake.

    Way across the lake, you see the rim of the caldera (obviously that's what this whole place was!) erupting as well.

    "Lets make our escape it looks to me like these slave lords have sealed their own fate," says Taki.

    Isilme casts Fly on Elrae, who flies outside and down to the ground outside. Thorgrim cures another [8] for Noot, who then uses his slippers to get down to the ground where he joins Elrae. Thorgrim then moves around the balcony going the other way which didn't collapse, to get on the other side of the wall of force. Berenn tells everyone to get out, but Emyn ignores him and moves up to protect Hepla. Berenn leaps over edge, using his Ring of Feather Fall to gently float down to the ground, where he too joins Elrae and Noot.

    Gotrek continues to vent his frustration on the invisible wall, unable to come out of his rage, and Turrosh Mak suddenly starts to shake as the wizard uses Shocking Grasp on him. The wizard then pushes the unconscious half-orc off him and gets up. He looks around, seemingly unconcerned.

    Hepla gives Taki the Potion of Fly, while she casts Fly upon herself. Both are now capable of flight. Taki starts to fly up over the wall, maul ready to smash the wizard to a pulp. The wizard sees what's going on and attempts a Dimension Door, but nothing happens. He looks confused, and only moments too late realizes that he has been held by Thorgrim's Dimensional Anchor.

    Thogrim laughs, a hearty dwarf laugh, then leaps down next to him [taking 6], but hitting him with his pick at the same time that Taki hits him with his maul. The wizard goes down hard, smashed beneath the two weapons. Hepla flies over the wall as well, landing lightly beside Turrosh Mak, who she notes is alive. A glance at the wizard shows he is VERY dead, but Hepla notes that the Wall of Force didn't disappear. Hepla thinks that's strange, as she picks up the wizard's staff. Thorgrim casts CLW on Turrosh Mak, and the half-orc wakes up, groggy, but alive.

    Gotrek STILL fails to come out of his rage, and just keeps swinging!

    Flying about 50' in the air, Isilme looks around to see what she can see. Below her, at the bottom of the stairs, she sees lava filling up the bottom part of the structure and start to pour out of the arrow slits at the ground floor. She remember the lava tube they walked through for a bit and shudders. She reasons that it's now full of lava, seeking a way to the surface. Then entire basement and much of the ground floor is probably now full of lava. The heat is intense, and everyone has to get away from it fast.

    "DAMN!" says Isilme. "We're in a tight spot."

    Gotrek finally comes out of his rage, as Hepla quickly strips the wizard. Using their Fly spells, the rest of the party quickly exits the keep and retires away to a safe distance, to take stock of the situation. There is lava pouring through Suderham, and it looks like some great cracks have opened up in the city. Half the wall has collapsed, as has the keep within the city. You see lots of people running about, most heading for the docks. The main peak is really erupting now, with ash starting to fall over the entire area. You see lightning crackling in the cloud above the peak.

    "DAMN!" says Isilme. "We're in a tight spot."

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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:02 pm  

    Awesome, Ragnar! Keep it up. I love perusing maps/architectural designs of real world castles and adapting them to my campaigns. Very nicely done. Happy

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    Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:52 pm  
    The Slavers - Part 22 (Suderham in Flames)

    Isilme casts Find Person, trying to divine the location of Lady Huerta. She is down by the docks.

    Before she takes off to go find her, Gotrek shows up. Hepla has cast flight on the rest of the party, and they are leaving. Gotrek isn't about to pass up a fight if it can be helped. He's been cured a couple times by Berenn and Thorgrim, and by Berenn's rod. Berenn also cannot find his griffons, which probably flew away from the volcano anyway. Time to worry about them later. For now, everyone else is flying away with orders to meet up on the road to the west.

    The party flies over a group of farmers and slaves, nearly nude people, who are in the process of impaling their former masters. A few of them are hurriedly making stakes from a stack of logs. Nearby, several struggling overseers and guardsmen are being held, each pinned by several ex-slaves. As soon as a stake is finished, another slaver is brought forth and impaled, and a cheer goes up from the mob.

    When we arrive at the road Taki looks at the party and asks, "Is that the end of the slavelords?"

    Turrosh Mak shakes his head. "We only found two of the Nine, so I fear not." He looks back towards the burning mountain. "I fear some shall indeed escape, as we have."

    Nobody makes a move to stop the slaves from killing their overseers, so the group continues to the docks. There seems to be a huge melee underway on and around the three docks, but it's not always clear who is on whose side, if there are any sides. There are three fishing boats at each of the three long piers. Several more out on the lake are moving toward the far shore and one appears to be capsized. Townsmen, slum-dwellers, guardsmen, ex-slaves, and assorted humanoids are all fighting over possession of these boats. To add to the confusion, a number of grotesque gray-green humanoids are climbing out of the water and falling indiscriminately on the other combatants, biting and clawing them to death. There are at least 200 figures battling it out in this area. Scanning the area from above, Isilme sees Lady Huerta cowering at the rear with a group of slaves.

    [Isilme OOC: Did you say the magic word HUMANOIDS? ]

    She asks Emyn to grab and save the lady so we can uphold our promise to her. Meantime she waves her wand on the gray-green humanoids climbing out of the water so they can fight each other. Whatever they are, they start fighting amongst themselves, though it just adds to the general chaos. Emyn flies down to the lady, as Hepla casts Sleep upon her. She drops, along with a half-dozen other slaves. There are maybe another dozen who cower away from Emyn, until he says you are not slavers. Once Isilme has set the humanoids to fighting each other, she returns, along with Gotrek.

    Emyn looks around and say, "We cannot leave these slaves to perish."

    Isilme lets out a chuckle. "I would love to hear your plan. How do you propose we save this massive number of people, or better yet determine who is worthy and not the enemy?"

    With only a little magic left, Hepla uses what she has remaining to levitate 1600 lbs of mothers with children. When they float up she says,"Everyone hold hands and lead mom, hold on to my back." She pulls them accross the water landing on the nearest shore, exhausted.

    Emyn looks to see if there is a ship that might accomodate at least some of the slaves. With Noot, we might be able to get them to safety.

    "Counting only mothers....that's 16 down out of 200," thinks Isilme. "Humans...."

    "There is no way to save all these people," says Thorgrim. "We must leave them to their fates."

    Taki looks around, tired and unsure. "I suggest we find a place to hole up and rest and heal before we get into another fight."

    "Taki," replies Emyn, "if we do not get off of this island and out of this caldera, we will surely die. We must secure transport for us and some slaves or fly outselves, at least carrying a single slave. We can rest when we're dead."

    Taki nods, "Then lets move. I still have this half orc to carry but could manage another, should we get caught with our hands full by this slave lords then sir we are toast."

    "We need to get miles away from this volcano," says Noot. "If it really blows, we are really burnt toast." Noot is scared, and though nobody knows it, he remembers another volcano....

    "Then lets grab our things and head out," says Taki. "Save who we can but we must also save ourselves."

    Meanwhile... Gotrek puts a stop to the people attacking the slavers. They don't want to listen, but they listen to his axe. When the slavers thank him, he smacks one across the face. "I did this for them," he says, "not you." Isilme and Emyn come back with Lady Huerta. He also finds the rest of the party there. They just didn't want to fly off without Gotrek.

    They group now has maybe three dozen ex-slaves to rescue. One of the slave overseers says that the Slavelords have a galley at their private dock. "If you can reach it, you can take it and get everyone across the lake and away to safety. That's where we were going, before we were grabbed by these slaves."

    You make your way towards the dock, avoiding the rest of the scrambling people. You get to a small rise, overlooking the last dock. There is a long galley at the end, with a small crew making it ready to sail. Noot estimates that they need another 5 minutes or so. There are about a dozen people on board. At the beginning of the dock are two ogres and a giant with a huge club, holding back a crowd of about two dozen more people.

    About this time, Hepla returns, still in her Black Dragon polymorph form. She morphs into Markessa and addresses the other ogre,"If you want to live, you will finish off that other ogre and aid us in saving some of the slave stock. We need this boat and you can have a spot on it and live."

    "Let's just kill them," says Taki.

    Gotrek looks at Taki. "No laddie," he says, twisting Giant Goreblade in his hands. "The giant is mine."

    Hepla looks at Gotrek, then back to the ogre,"Ignore the dwarf, he hasn't killed anything in the last few minutes and needs his exercise."

    In the center of the dock, near the ship, is a half-orc who Turrosh Mak recognizes as Theg Narlot. With him are two guards. On the ship, there are more people. There is one guard at the bow. With him are two sailors. There are two more at the mast, along with a tough-looking warrior. There are two sailors along the edge by the dock messing with the rigging and such, and one more at the tiller. Next to the sailor at the tiller is a wizard. There's one man left, standing where it says "Monk." He looks like your old friend, Hung Lo.

    While Isilme casts Invisibility, Gotrek flies down and hits the giant unawares [44! Well, Giant Goreblade is pretty sweet against giants!] The giant is actually knocked backwards and crashes to the dock, breaking through the boards and becoming half-stuck.

    Taki flies right behind him, throws his bands at one of the ogres and binds him, while landing right in front of the other with Hepla/Markessa, who bluffs the ogre. It looks at you, then at Gotrek who is standing on the giant's chest about to finish it off, and then back at Hepla/Markessa. He then steps aside. From the middle of the dock you hear swearing in ogre which Gotrek understands as "what the hell are you doing?" It is Theg Narlot, approaching with his two guards. He sees Hepla/Markessa and stops, uncertain.

    Isilme will have cast Invis upon herself, and flown out above the combat. Emyn's trying to get a better look. Berenn has his bow ready. Noot slips down around the side, making for shore but staying out of sight. Elrae stays back with Thorgrim.

    Hepla looks back to the crowd and says,"Well, do you want this boat or not? Help us take it, and we will take as meny as we can. Now is the time to fight for your lives."

    Hepla/Markessa looks back at the half-orc and says,"Deny me a place on the nine will you? "There is a place open now; what say you? Are you ready to deal with the crowd and me? I say if you cannot decide let the crowd decide."

    Berenn lets fly an arrow, taking Theg Narlot in the shoulder. He stumbles back, and as he recovers, you hear a loud roar. The crowd listens to Hepla and charges down the pier towards the startled Slavelord. Theg and his guards meet the attack, but are simply overwhelmed by the rush. A few people are killed, but the push Theg and his guards right off the dock.

    Gotrek hits the giant again [40], killing it. Taki hits the ogre in the head as it's looking back at Theg Narlot, doing [24] and killing it too. With his second attack he hits the bound ogre in the face [20], knocking it over.

    The sailors at the bow continue to frantically pull up the anchor, while those on the side move to cast off lines. The guard in the bow fires a crossbow, taking out one of the people charging down the docks.

    The rest of the party starts over the rise, bringing the other people with them. Isilme flies over to the ship, watching for threats. She's particularly interested in getting a clear shot at the wizard by the tiller. As she flies down closer, she notices him casting a spell....Suddenly a wall of fire appears between the ship and the dock. It erupts right over the charging crowd, instantly roasting dozens of people, their screams drowning out the sounds of combat.

    After the wall of fire went up, Berenn still had a shot so he takes it at the guard in the bow, hitting him in the face and killing him. There are just the two sailors there now.

    Taki flies across, landing next to the two sailors. They let go of the anchor rope, drop to their knees, and plead for mercy.

    Taki points over the rail and says, "Get off the boat now!"

    Without any delay, they turn and leap off the dock.

    Hepla takes out her Wand of Fire Extinguishing, very upset at the wall of fire and how so many people were just burned alive. She points it at the wall to put it out, but nothing happens.

    Berenn notices Hung Lo for the first time, and he fires an arrow at him. For his part, the nimble monk just knocks it aside with a grin.

    Gotrek growls, "traitor!" and flies across to engage him. Hung Lo steps aside, rolling, and comes up, prepared to fight Gotrek. Emyn flies down the dock with Elrae. Berenn and Thorgrim move towards the dock with the rest of the slaves.

    Isilme sees what Hepla did, and then realizes that the wall of fire is an illusion. She flies over it, "It's just an illusion!" she yells, though still invisible.

    The wizards casts another spell, creating a Hypnotic Pattern of swirling colors in the air between him and Emyn. Emyn makes his save, flies across and drops Elrae, who falls down to the deck and stays mesmerized by the colors. "Ooo, pretty."

    Hepla and Turrosh Mak make their way hesitantly through the flames, having heard Isilme's call. They do not harm them, and they leap aboard the ship. Thorgrim, unaware of the illusion but protected from fire, just runs through the wall and leaps aboard as well.

    Berenn casts Dispel Magic at the wall of fire and it disappears anyway.

    Gotrek takes a punch from Hung Lo [14], who then leaps back away, landing on the edge of the ship. Taki makes his way along the center of the ship. He puts his bands away, unwilling to throw them on board the ship, and he takes his maul in two hands, ready to smash the silly monk.

    Isilme casts Silence, and the area around the wizard goes silent. The wizard tries to cast a spell, but now fails so he runs away.

    Before Emyn can step up, he is stabbed in the back [18]. He feels a burning in the wound, which then goes away. [made your save!] Emyn turns to face this new threat, and sees a woman dressed in leather wielding a dagger.

    Gotrek and Taki move up against Hung Lo. The monk waits, then slips down, sweeping Taki's feet out, and kicking him about 5' away. Taki takes [6]. Gotrek misses.

    Hepla uses the wand of fear, which affects three sailors. They all take off running, leaping over the far side of the ship. She then morphs back into her own form. Turrosh Mak looks back down into the water, seeking out Theg Narlot, while Thorgrim moves towards the running wizard. Berenn cross over to the ship, moving towards the center.

    With the sailors gone, Hepla calls to Hung Lo. "Hung Lo, my old friend, what are you doing here with these slavers? You should be fighting them not us. Don't you remember us?" [She is preping Dispell Magic, depending on his answer. She knows she can hit him with Magic missles but would like to talk to him first.]

    He throws a smile her way. "My name is NOT Hung Lo," he says. "It is Brother Milerjoi, and you all are dead."

    Isilme flies after the wizard, casting Hold Person. He obviously feels the spell, but fights off the magic. He then disappears.

    Thorgrim curses, "Girly, nib-chewing, stalactite!" He then listens, and he hears the man running around to the starboard side of the open deck hatch. Thorgrim moves over to intercept, and swings anyway. He misses, but it seems the wizard stopped, as the running stopped.

    The thief slips back off the edge of the rear section of the ship, dropping down to the oar banks. "They don't call me Slippery Ketta for nothing," she says. When Emyn looks down, he sees her roll under a bench, then come up on the other side. With an oath to Trithereon, he leaps down after her, landing on the deck, then steps up onto the bench.

    Noot finally has made it to the ship, and he climbs up the side silently. He gets into position to backstab Brother Milerjoi, but the monk does a spinning circle kick that connects squarely with Noot's jaw. Noot takes [10] and flies backwards, falling back into the water.

    Hepla casts her Dispel Magic on Hung Lo, but to no effect. However, Taki steps up onto the bench, swinging his maul and hitting for [12]. Gotrek swings at him from the other side, missing as the monk leaps over the blow.

    Berenn fires his bow at Hung Lo (Brother Milerjoi), who bats the arrow aside. "You will have to do better than that," he says. Brother Milerjoi then strikes out with his open fist, hitting Taki in the face [4].

    "You too," says Taki, wiping the blood from his lip.

    Turrosh Mak leaps along the benches, eventually getting behind Slippery Ketta, while the people on the dock move up to the side of the dock, ready to climb aboard.

    Isilme casts Detect Invisible, scanning the area of the wizard. She sees him sneaking back away from Thorgrim. Thorgrim swings wildly in the area, trying to keep the wizard from passing him.

    Elrae come to, and looks around. He then fires magic missiles at Slippery Ketta [9]. She throws something in Emyn's face, and tumbles to the side, coming up in the center of the deck. Emyn is nearly blinded by some kind of painful powder [good thing you have such good saves!]. He steps up and attacks her, hitting for [12]. Turrosh Mak steps up to her and hits as well [6]. She doesn't look happy.

    Berenn switches to his sword and moves up to fight the monk, who does a leap up and over Berenn, landing behind him. However, before he can attack, Hepla casts her last spell, levitate, and raises him 10' up into the air.

    Gotrek cannot reach him, but he laughs. "Hah! We've got you now, traitor!"

    Taki CAN reach, and pummels him in the legs with his maul [15], sending him spinning upside down.

    The people start to clamber onto the boat. Noot swims back over to the boat, but away from where the Monk was.

    Hepla morhs back to Markessa. Then yells to the crowd,"Get them, show you have the right to live, these are the slave lords who took your lives from you and now would leave you on these docks to die. Get them."

    Hepla then calls out,"Noot, be prepared to captain the ship. We still have a volcano to outrun." Then to the crowd,"Any with sailor experience, report to captain Noot," she points to him.

    As some of the crowd take down the last sailors, some move over to Noot, who starts to bark commands at them. " Man the oars! Former slaves if you want to get out of here alive, we've go to work. -- Where is the first mate? Helpla - since you have the high view -- tell me when you have the slavelords out of action. Man the crow's nest! Prepare the mainsail! Where's the steersman?"

    Isilme casts faerie fire, outlining the mage for everyone to see! Thorgrim chases after the wizard, who tries to run away. He was going to cast a spell, but he cancels that now that he's outlined. Rather, he moves away from all the people, back towards the rear of the ship, and up by the tiller. He runs right into Elrae, [actually, I had forgotten he was there!] and Elrae hits him with Snowfang [6].

    Hung Lo goes into a defensive position, as much as is possible, and avoids Taki's blows. Hepla moves up closer, concentrating on him and talking to him as Markessa.

    "I know who you are, Hepla," he says, twisting around Taki's maul and batting it aside with open palms.

    Meanwhile, Slippery Ketta tumbles back towards the far side of the ship, avoiding Emyn and Turrosh Mak. She leaps up onto the rail, as Turrosh Mak approaches. Unfortunately, he steps on a caltrop and stumbles to one knee. Emyn then sees them and leaps across to the next bench, avoiding them.

    Berenn sees more soldiers approaching the dock, and shouts a warning. He steps up on a bench, sheathes his sword, and takes out his bow.

    Taki looks and hears shouting from the dock. There he sees a squad of about 10 guards along with a huge warrior charging onto the dock. Eanwulf!

    "Take back the ships, you dogs!" the Thillronian barbarian yells, pointing with his two-handed sword.

    Noot slips along the edge of the boat, hand over hand, and gets behind Slippery Ketta. He's still hanging off the back side.

    Gotrek remembers he can fly, raises up, and swings at Brother Milerjoi, missing, while more people get on board.

    "Taste the icy cold bite of Snowfang, slaver." As Elrae blasts the outlined wizard with the Cone of Cold. Elrae blasts the wizard with Snowfang's Cone of Cold. He pretty much freezes, is blown backwards, and falls into the water.

    Thorgrim gives him a thumbs-up, turns around, and moves back towards the bow.

    Isilme flies over towards the bow herself, still invisible. She calls to Elrae, "What about his magic?"

    "There are more important things than magic items," replies Elrae, who still peers over to see if he can see the frozen corpse of the wizard or Slippery Ketta. All he sees is the corpse of the wizard, encased in ice and bobbing around in the water.

    Noot continues to give commands to the people, then sees that the front anchor is not raised and runs for the bow.

    Slippery Ketta dives backwards into the water. Turrosh Mak deals with the caltrop, while Emyn waits for Ketta to appear. She doesn't.

    Gotrek flies away from the monk, and intercepts the guards on the dock. The guards charge. Gotrek kills the first to reach him, then gets surrounded by a bunch of them. The rest continue passed him and attack the people scrambling onto the deck. They kill three before they can jump across.

    Hepla steps over and snaps off a shot of the wand of fear, and the four guards are all affected. They will run next round!

    Berenn fires an arrow at Eanwulf, missing. Eanwulf replies with a roar and charges towards the boat. He reaches the edge of the dock and makes an amazing leap, clearing the 10+ feet and landing on the edge of the bow.

    Berenn fires his second shot, hitting him in the shoulder for [10].

    Taki sees Eanwulf's jump and gives up on his pinata practice, instead approaching the huge barbarian.

    Taki yells in a rage "This pretender of a barbarian is mine."

    Taki misses with his maul, and Eanwulf hits Taki with his two-handed sword [18].

    Noot cuts the bow anchor rope as Isilme flies back over to where the floating corpse is bobbing in the water.

    Elrae tells the sailors at the stern to man the tiller, while he looks over the edge.

    Thorgrim casts Hold Person on the monk, who glares at him. "You should know such tricks won't work, Thorgrim," he says. Then he shrugs and smiles, "Can't say the same for the Levitate though."

    The guards attack Gotrek, all missing. He hits one, killing him. The guards then attack again, all missing, while Gotrek swings and kills another. The other guards run away from Hepla.

    Emyn flies across to join Taki in the fight with Eanwulf. He reaches him, but cannot attack this turn.

    Taki swings, missing, and Eanwulf attacks again. He fumbles, slips and falls on the slippery deck, and hits his head on the bench, stunning himself!

    Turrosh Mak moves over to the other side, to help the people get aboard and get them squared away.

    Finally, a volcanic bomb lands on the bow, exploding in a fireball. Luckily, it doesn't hit anyone, but it immediately starts to burn the ship.

    "I got it," yells Hepla, taking out her other wand to extinguish it.

    Isilme uses her wand and puts out the volcanic fire, then she then moves to the edge of the ship. She'll jump across next round.

    The guards all attack Gotrek, missing. Isilme flies down to the water and cuts off the head of the bobbing wizard. Unfortunately, she is now visible.

    Elrae still sees no sign of Slippery Ketta. He moves back to the other side of the ship.

    Noot runs back to the mast, yelling orders to the people to start rowing. He starts getting the sails finished.

    Thorgrim moves up to Brother Milerjoi, who is still stuck. Then he goes below decks.

    Taki hits Eanwulf, who is apparently stunned. [12] Emyn hits him too [15], twice [12].

    Gotrek kills two more guards, and the last two run. He kills another with an attack of opportunity, and the last one flees down the dock.

    Berenn fires his bow, putting two arrows in the back of the last guard as he runs.

    Gotrek turns back, a big smile on his face. "Now that was fun!"

    There are a half-dozen people clustered around the mast. They are afraid to move towards the bow where Eanwulf and Brother Milerjoi are. Noot puts a few to work on the lines as those on the port side use their oars to push the ship from the dock.

    Isilme finds she cannot lift the guy; he was kinda fat. The ship's turning right over her, so she has to move quickly to grab what she can. [I'll let you know what she salvages before she has to move. It's just one round of quick scrambling for stuff.]

    Hepla turns to check on Brother Milerjoi, who is right above her head all of a sudden because he's floating in one place while the ship is being pushed to the right.

    Elrae keeps his eyes out for Slippery Ketta, but sees nothing.

    Thorgrim goes into the hold. There's nobody there, but there is some stuff down there. Not really sure what, but some of the treasure that the Slavelords were able to salvage before they fled. [Again, I'll tell you what you find later.]

    Noot sends a few people forward to man the last oars.

    Taki and Emyn finish off the stunned barbarian, bashing his brains out on the deck as Gotrek flies back over. That's all the Slavelords on the ship, except for Brother Milerjoi who is now drifting above Hepla.

    Thorgrim will go back above-decks to see if he can convince the party not to slay Hung Lo, before we can coerce some information out of him, and possibly save him if he's Charmed or something. He hopes he never gets possessed by a spirit and then instantly slain by his own former party-members...because that is surely what would happen, without a second's thought. He won't be fighting with or speaking to any more ghosts as long as he's with this outfit.

    Taki moves over to finish off Hung Lo, but Gotrek yells, "Stop it!" He grabs some rope from the deck of the ship and flies over to Hung Lo.

    "If you try to hit me, I will kill you right here and now," he says. Hung Lo nods, and Gotrek ties him up, and flies him back to the ship.

    Gotrek looks around. "No one else attacks Hung Lo. He fought by our side in many tight spots. The Hung Lo I knew was a honorable warrior. Let's find out what happened, before we kill him. Hopefully, we can save him, and get some information out of him."

    Taki stomps around, while the rest check out the ship as it pulls across the lake. They don't find anything else. It takes about a half-hour before you make it to shore. The garrison there is long gone, as everyone has fled.

    You'll have time to talk to Hung Lo if you choose. He seems rather calm for a guy captured by his enemies. You can continue to talk to Hung Lo/Brother Milerjoi while you go. He tells you that he was NOT a Slavelord. Rather, his order sent him to investigate the Slavelords and infiltrate their operations. He actually gained his place on the Inner Council by his work around Hommlet, investigating the Temple of Elemental Evil. But there was dissention on the council, caused by an elven sorcerous named Markessa. He didn't know her personally, as she was an associate of the drow priestess Edralve. He apologizes for his deception, but until the Slavelords were defeated and/or driven from the ship, he couldn't blow his cover, just in case. There was and is far too much going on here to risk it.

    "Good to have you back, friend!" shouts Thorgrim, laughing and slapping him on the back. "I must apologize for the hasty actions of your erstwhile friends. They are zealous. Now, can you tell us if you know the whereabouts of Markessa?"

    "Markessa was NOT a slavelord," he says. "Well, not on the Inner Council anyway. She was head of the Outer Council, and one step from the Inner. There was considerable rivalry between her and the head of the Inner Council, Stalman Klim. He is High Priest of the Earth Dragon, and it was HE who created the Slavelords. He thought Edralve was trying to overthrow him, so he's been keeping a close eye on her and her henchman, Markessa." Actually, Hung Lo thinks that Markessa may actualy have been the worse of the two, even though Edralve was a Drow. He looks at Isilme. "Evil is much deeper than the skin."

    Once the group makes it to shore, they high-tail it out of the caldera as fast as possible. They learn from Brother Milerjoi (that's his real name) that Klim lives in a town called Kalen Lekos, and yes, he knows where Kalen Lekos is located.

    "Kalen Lekos is Stalman Klim's personal town," he says, "It's people utterly devoted to his Earth Dragon. It actually isn't far, though you will probably need to get these people to safety first. Shouldn't be too hard, considering. There will surly be many hundreds of refugees fleeing from Suderham right now."

    Knowing they are running out of time, and now are pretty much out of spells as their fly spells are ending, the party flees with the refugees. They escape the caldera just as a massive pyroclastic flow erupts from the island and flows out across the lake. They don't stop, well into the night, despite their exhaustion. After a few hours, everyone settles down to rest.

    "I wonder is there nothing we can do about Slippery Ketta?" say Thorgrim as he gets out his pipe and lights it, puffing and staring at the flickering light of the Log of Everburning, and warming his old bones. "Perhaps it will be sufficient to track down Markessa and this Klim in Kalen Lekos and bring a final end to the reign of the Slave Lords."

    Thorgrim unfolds his Portable Hole, and using the convenient ramps comprised of his pit-bridging oaken planks, gets out his cask of Gutshaker and four ceramic mugs, and offers one to Gotrek, Hepla, and whoever else will partake. "To our success!" he toasts, raising his mug high in the air. "Shall we leave in the morning?" He takes another puff. "After treasure is divided, of course."

    "That sounds good, Brother." says Gotrek, raising his mug. "To Clangeddin!"

    "Any ale in there?" aks Noot. "If not, cheers!"

    After the large fight Taki begins to feel more a part of the group. He will scout out around the tower guarding his friends. He laughs to himself as he has begins to think of these folks as friends. He keeps a sharp eye out for the thief that stabbed Helpa; he would like a chance to smash her with his maul.

    They get a few hours sleep before morning, when they awake. Though it is morning, it is as dark as night. The entire area is covered in ash.

    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:50 am  
    The Slavers - Part 23 (To Kalen Lekos)

    Starday, 15th Readying, 581 CY
    You awake the next day. Very dark from volcanic ash cloud, so it's like night outside. Where the monk was there are only his bonds. He escaped them in the night.

    When Taki finds out he says, "I knew we should have killed him."

    "Or perhaps he feared his own demise at our hands and fled," says Berenn. "With all the talk of killing him, would any of you stay around?"

    "Blame Gotrek," says Emyn. "He is the one who insisted on killing us if we hurt the evil slave lord."

    While the party checks their things, to make sure the monk didn't steal anything, Berenn goes to the roof of the tower to look for the griffons. There he finds Hung Lo, sitting there with Ra and Thoth, petting them. When he sees you he smiles.

    "Good morning," he says. "Look what I found?"

    Berenn notices that Ra is burned somewhat on one side, probably from some volcanic fireball or some such. Berenn calls the others, and they join him above.

    "Hauwck P'toey" Elrae spits out a big glob of yellow phlegm. "That's how much I trust you, Brother Milerjoi. It will take much more than finding the Ranger's pets for you to gain back our trust."

    "Brother Millerjoi, it's a fine morning!" says Thorgrim, pleased that his faith was rewarded. "Good to see you still around. I see you've found our favorite aerial recon team. Would you be willing to submit to True Speak, so that we may allay the party's suspicions and lay their fears to rest? Many among us are convinced you are in league with the Slave Lords, since that's how it seemed when we found you. Your claims of being 'undercover' are only claims, until they can be proven."

    Taki looks at the monk, "He will take the test or we will finish what we started yesterday."

    He accepts your demands, and submits to magical investigations. Isilme casts Know Alignment, and his aura is that of Lawful-Neutral.

    [DM OOC: To save time, we didn't really role-play this. The party gave me a list of questions, and I just answered them one at a time. So, here they are:

    Q & A with the monk:

    Q: Are you HUng Lo or are you Brother Miljeroi?
    A: His real name is Brother Milerjoi. He went by Hung Lo while on his mission for the Slave lords, to get into their ranks.

    Q: Did your monastic order tell you to come here and infltrate the slave lords? If so, why and to what end?
    A: Yes, his order wanted to investigate them, and so ordered him to do it. They were interested in the Slavelords' plans, as well as this new "religion" of theirs. The Pomarj was long rumored to be the resting place of some ancient power, force, or being. His order also wanted him to discover if there was truth to the rumors, and whether or not this Earth Dragon was indeed real.

    Q: Why did you fight us instead of joining us in the final confrontation on the boat?
    A: His mission overrides anything else, and he could not be seen to fight against the Slavelords. And the boat was NOT the final confrontation. Suderham is gone now, along with most of the Slavelords. Their power is broken, but not completely. Not until Stalman Klim and his temple are destroyed will the Slavelords truly be defeated and the Earth Dragon cult destroyed. He will now openly work with you to finish this task.

    Q: Do you plan to bring us to any harm?
    A: No. In fact, he should leave and report, but the opportunity now presented to truly destroy the power of the Slavelords is too good to pass up. He plans to use you to bring about the final defeat of the Slavelords.]

    Thorgrim grunts. "So! Well, if there are no further questions, I suggest that we be off to Kalen Lekos for the final confrontation. We can come up with a gameplan on the way. Berenn, will you use your Rod on the griffons, and anyone else who still needs healing?"

    Isilme says, "Brother Millerjoi may very well have saved my life against the Earth temple priest in the Temple of Elemental Evil. I for one am willing to trust him with my life again. Call me a fool, but I will place my faith in his words now until shown otherwise."

    "I do not know you," says Emyn, nodding his head to Isilme. "but if Isilme trusts you, then I ,as her Knight Protector, must do so as well."

    Noot doesn't trust anyone, but for now will go along as it seems the most pragmatic path to follow. He rub his jaw, remembering the kick to the face he suffered, and plans to keep a close eye on the man.

    "Brother Milerjoi," says Elrae, "I've been to the doorway of Death and returned to breathe sweet air once again. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am willing to overlook your past transgressions against us. You did fight bravely with us for a brief time in the Temple of Elemental Evil."

    Brother Milerjoi nods, but says nothing.

    After an awkward silence falls on the group, with Taki looking unhappy but saying nothing, Emyn then changes the topic. "First we need to get any refugees with us to safety, and then we need to get to where Klim is. I can track him as I have laid a Pursuit of Vengeance upon him. I can feel him to the west of here. Brother, what is the best way to get to his earth dragon town?"

    [Pursuit of Vengeance is a special ability I have given to the Avengers of Trithereon, CG paladins I use IMC. He can't use it all the time, but when allowed, he can sense the guilty one he seeks, knowing their direction from him and relative distance - i.e. close, far, etc..]

    "Markessa's time on this earth can now be numbered in hours," says Thorgrim. "Is there some way we can use Markessa's 'confession,' written in her own hand, to our advantage? Klim already has his eye on her, so he probably suspects as much. Perhaps we could instead force him to reveal her location, and grant him a swift death for his cooperation."
    Thorgrim pauses, puffing his pipe. "Has anyone given any thought to a slow death for Markessa? Is there some authority to whom we could turn her over? Many would be willing to repay her in kind."

    " Markessa will not be turned over to any authorities," says Isilme resolutely. "She will meet her justice at the end of a blade - as swiftly as I can bring it down on her neck. Her crimes against the elves demand this. Perhaps I could approach Klim alone as a another drow willing to serve on the slave council with proof of her treachery. If he will disclose her location I will execute her for him. I do have this scroll still....I can use a message to attract her to whatever city we are taking the slaves to for refuge."

    "Agreed," says Thorgrim. "We cannot risk her escaping justice through magic or bribery."

    Hepla, whose aura has gradually shifted over the last few months, is torn between wanting to get her GOOD status returned and wanting revenge on Markessa. She thus remains silent.

    Thorgrim looks startled. Then he grunts. "Mm! I just realized that Klim and Markessa have no clue we are on our way, unless Slippery Ketta tells them. We may yet have the advantage of surprise!" His face goes sour again. "We need to hasten are steps."

    Brother Milerjoi tells you that there is a paved side road heading west from the Slave Road. It doesn't go far before you will reach a large mercenary camp and two large guard towers flanking the road.

    While they plan, they send the slaves on the way south with instructions to get to the ship which is waiting. With so many refugees, and the continuing eruption, it shouldn't be too hard to avoid trouble. Meanwhile, Hepla and Isilme finally break the large crystal jar which held Markessa's experimental pudding. They drop it off a cliff, and the thing quickly oozes away into cracks in the ground. Behind it leaves the amulet that was in the jar.

    As Hepla goes to pick it up, Isilme warns her not to touch it. She scoops it up into a pouch, to investigate later.

    Once that is done, the party moves west. Brother Milerjoi says he can get them all the way to Kalen Lekos, as he technically IS a Slavelord. He does tell Hepla to stop pretending to be Markessa all the time. "Most around here don't really know who she is, and those who did meet her, like himself, find it disturbing."

    Hepla starts to argue, but he cuts her off. "If you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss also stares back."

    Thorgrim ponders. "It seems Brother Millerjoi is our secret weapon. As an Official Slave Lord, it seems he is our best bet to lead us to a confrontation with the last of the Real Slave Lords." Thorgrim addresses the half-orc: "Turrosh Mak, you did well in the fight against the slavelords. Your bravery in jumping that evil wizard did not go unmarked. It gave us the time we needed to end his life. One more action on his part might've seen one or more of our party dead. I, for one, thank Clanggedin for putting you into our path. I thank Clanggedin, and I thank you." He lights his pipe and offers a toke to Turrosh Mak. "Now, would you like to kill the last of the Slave Lords?"

    "With pleasure," he says coldly.

    The moves on, and is easily able to bluff its way passed the guards at the encampment, thanks to Brother Milerjoi and Isilme, who openly walks as a normal drow for a change. The guards all seem rather scared of both! It is more than a day to get to Kalen Lekos. The party traveled away from Suderham, and camped out in Thorgrim tower off the road, a few miles from the Slave Road. It is a full day to get to the city. In the morning, they continue, reaching the city just before nightfall.

    Hepla's eyes go wide when she sees dragons. "They are so pretty," she says with a giggle.

    "Those are dragonnels," says Brother Milerjoi. "They are used for recon around the city, and messengers to carry commands to the army or sometimes between Slavelords."

    She looks at Brother and says,"From here they look like dragons. Did you say army, how big?"

    "And what exactly do those things do?" aks Emyn. "Do they breathe fire like dragons?"

    He laughs. "No, they don't breath fire or anything. They are just big flying reptiles, and very tough ones."

    While they watch, Emyn remembers the Dragon helm he took. He shows it to Brother Milerjoi. "Do you know what this does?"

    "It is a Helm of the Earth Dragon," he says, "worn only by the High Priests. It protects them while also allowing them to breath acid."

    Elrae smiles. "Oh really? How?"

    "I believe they simply will it," says Brother Milerjoi. "I have only seen it done once, and no words were spoken." As Elrae puts it on, completing his "disguise" as an Earth Dragon priest, Brother Milerjoi cautions him to be careful.

    Emyn also gives Hepla the magical dagger he found [+2 dagger].

    "I cannot accept this," she says, "not without repaying you somehow, and I have nothing to give."

    "That's not true," he replies. "Perhaps we can arrange something later?"

    Hepla caught a possible meaning this time. Blushing, she says,"I will hold the dagger for you. I will even use the dagger if need be, and I thank you for it, but I will not accept it as mine until we agree on what you want in return. I will return the dagger if what you want is beyond my ability to give."

    Emyn is a bit taken aback. "I mean nothing improper Hepla. To me, giving this to you is one more way I can help protect you. I would not see you come to harm. By the way, what are the rules of your family for betrothals? I assume I would have to meet your family and be accpeted by them?"

    Taki shakes his head and walks away from the conversation.

    Now it's Hepla's turn to be taken aback. "I have to be at least 18 and meeting the family, mom and grandma at least, is a must. Mom has never met you, yet. She has met both dwarves and a few other guys and she likes them, but I am too young to yet declare my intentions. Why?"

    "I would very much like to meet your family some day," says Emyn, slightly changing tack.

    Taki walks over and bashes a small tree with his maul, knocking it down with one swipe.

    Emyn inspects the devastated tree and says, "Taki, you need a woman."

    "Mind your business!!!" says the hillman, in a strange, forceful tone which puts Emyn back on his heels.

    "Taki," says Emyn, "have I given offense somehow?"

    "No, one and all of you have to some degree, but it matters very little. We will wander around doing what we think is right to defeat evil, then squabble like the evil vermin we defeated over the trinkets that we took during defeating them. Half will charge in and fight to the death this evil we have set out to defeat while others will hang back. We have very little in the way of leadership, and it has caused us hurt throughout this quest. I took a mighty blow from that bitch of a dark elf and if it had not been for the quick actions of a party member I would have likely died, while others prepared spells or snooped through the belongings of those that was soon to be dead. We either come together with a clear cut plan on how to go about defeating our foes, or we will all perish."

    That said, Taki walks away to be alone, leaving a stunned and speechless party behind, wondering from whence that outburst came.

    Emyn catches him, stopping him from leaving. "Taki, I will stand by your side through any battle. We all will. But you have to realize that some of us are more capable for combat than others. Should we be pillaging the dead in the middle of a fight? Usually not. But at times, there are exception if the circumstances call for it. You need never fear being alone, for I will throw myself in front of the blade that descends upon your throat, if need be."

    Taki listens, then nods. "Thank you sir, but you would better serve me and this party by declaring a new vote for party leader, and putting someone in that spot that can lead us into battle. And by lead I mean lead from the front."

    Emyn responds, "Berenn has led us capably but if you were to step forward and lead and the party supported you, I would not object."

    "I am no leader and do not want to be a leader," he replies. "In battle I charge into the fray and only care about destroying my target."

    "So you present a problem and a list of complaints, with no real solution," replies Isilme. "How...human." She then looks to Berenn, tending his griffons. "Berenn has been a good leader, I have not lost confidence in his abilities."

    "Little sister," says Taki, "the list of complaints are complaints that get folks killed. I did offer a solution; I called for new leadership. A leader who does not lead but simply stays out of the way during a fight is of no use to us. We do not engage in a fight as a team; we engage as a group of singles fighting on our own. During the battle in the keep before the lava came, healings were being passed out to all except the ones in the fight. I will shut up and do as I am told or I will shut up and do as I want, but heed this as a warning. We have been lucky up till now not to have been taken down."

    Taki then leaves, needing to be alone. The party decides that they would rather not try sneaking into the city. They do not raise Thorgrim's tower, but camp as innocuously as possible.

    "Turrosh Mak," says Thorgrim, while they huddle against the cold. "You said you would tell me your story. I would like to hear it now. At least then it might be told if one or another of us dies in this endeavor."

    Turrosh Mak then tells his story:

    Turrosh Mak was born in 555 CY, in a minor tribe of orcs in the Pomarj. In his early years, before his capture by the Flinds, he learned first-hand about humanoid life. Perhaps it was his half-orc status which allowed him to look upon this in a slightly more detached manner. Anyway, he was very young, and not much of that part of his life is remembered clearly. What he does remember is the constant struggle, both within the tribe itself as well as with external enemies. It was one of these enemy tribes, the Victorious Flind tribe, which captured Turrosh Mak during a raid and forced him to fight in the pit games, common throughout the Pomarj.

    While fighting in the Pomarj Pits, he became quite aware of the naked brutality rampant in humanoid culture. He also noticed how many young were brought to watch the games, and over time he watched their innocent faces, filled with fear and revulsion, gradually change. They became accustomed to the bloodshed and eventually looked forward to and enjoyed the horrible and gory spectacle. It was then that he realized that it was his own kind, not the other races, which was responsible for the humanoid condition.

    Having finally won his freedom, he traveled the human world in search of knowledge. This, so he thought, was the key to “transcending the miserable morass of brutality withing which my people struggle.” He was 14 when he arrived in Greyhawk City in 569. When he arrived in Greyhawk City he witnessed a thief steal something from an old man. Well, Turrosh Mak wasn't too comfortable about that; he was more idealistic back then, and he grabbed the thief as he darted by. He let the thief go, but took the item, a precious gem, back to the old man. As it turns out, he was the wize sage, Prosper, who needed the gem for research, and he was greatly pleased at its return. When he asked Turrosh Mak what reward he would like, he asked for tuition to the Grey College. Prosper was quite interested at the prospect of this inquisitive half-orc, and he granted Turrosh Maks request. Prosper paid Turrosh Maks first term's tuition, and made him his personal servant for the duration of his studies; Turrosh Mak would have to work and pay his own way from then on.

    Turrosh Mak quickly became a star student, and he excelled beyond anyone's wildest expectations. In fact, his essay on intertribal humanoid relationships was read by some of the City's most renown scholars who were amazed at his keen intellect. This attention, however, had the predictable effect of causing a growing envy from other students, jealous of this upstart half-breed. Eventually, they conspired against him, framing him for stealing books from the Great Library. Although Prosper knew that he was innocent, the evidence was against Turrosh Mak, and it was clear he would be expelled, mainly on account of Gratius Saghast's anger regarding the affair. Rather than bring any disrespect upon Prosper, Turrosh Mak quit the university before being expelled and left Greyhawk City in 571.

    Leaving Greyhawk City, Turrosh Mak booked passage on a ship to Admundfort, and crossed the Nyr Dyv to the Shield Lands. With a letter of recommendation from Prosper, as well as on account of his knowledge of humanoid languages and his fighting prowess, he was given a post in a small patrol guarding the eastern border from bandit raids. Although he was constantly looked down upon on account of his heritage, he nevertheless accepted this treatment stoicly and went about his job. After about 6 months of service, his patrol was ambushed by bandits. During the desperate battle, his commander, a young nobleman and son of Harald Jenturi, a powerful Knight of the Holy Shielding, was gravely wounded. With the rest of the troop slain, Turrosh Mak gathered the young nobleman, Cowen, and fled on the noble’s horse. Although wounded himself, having been shot twice by bandit arrows, he succeeded in returning with Cowen to the fortress.

    After Turrosh Mak recovered from his wounds, he was rewarded by Harald with a command of his own. Turrosh Mak excelled in this new role, and he eventually succeeded in bringing in the bandit leader who had ambushed his earlier troop, for which action he was promoted to captain of all four troops. Harald also allowed him to use his private library, stocked with works on the strategy, tactics and leadership of famous Oerdian generals of antiquity.

    Over the next year, Turrosh Mak spent nearly all of his spare time in Haralds library. However, just as his success in Greyhawk City invited envy among his peers, so to did his recent successes lead to grief. Some of his men, namely those with a bit of aristocratic blood, resented serving under a commoner and a half-orc at that. When one of these nobles finally challenged Turrosh Mak, he was forced into a duel in which the noble was slain. As the witnesses were all companions of the slain noble, they accused Turrosh Mak of murdering him and tried to capture him. Unfortunately for Turrosh Mak, this occurred at a time when Harald was away in Admundfort, and it was clear that he would get no justice without Harald's aid. He thus chose to flee into the bandit lands, where he joined up with the same men he had so recently fought against.

    For the next few years, Turrosh Mak fought alongside the bandits, trying to decide what to do with his life. Surely, there must be more in store for him than a life of banditry. Why else would the Gods have prepared him with such skill and knowledge if not to use it for his kind. Knowing he had to do more with his life, Turrosh Mak steeled himself for the trials to come and struck out on his own at the first opportunity. Nearly copperless, he stowed away on a ship bound to Dyvers. Just before reaching the commercial entrepot, he was discovered, and the captain threatened to turn him over to the Dyvers constabulary. Well, having no desire to trust in the understanding of its dour Dwarves, he immediately jumped ship and swam to shore. Before word could reach the officials, he had stolen a horse and fled off along the road, eventually reaching the Free City of Greyhawk.

    He bypassed the city, to avoid further troubles, and made his way south, constantly moving from place to place. He learned of the slavers while traveling along the coast. When he reached Highport, he ran into Theg Narlot, another half-orc with whom he had fought in the pits. It was from him that he learned of the Slavelords. He realized that they were using the humanoids of the Pomarj for their own gain, and that in reality, the humanoids were just as much in their thrall as the slaves being taken. He finally saw this as his opportunity to do something. He set out to free his homeland from their evil grip, but it was all a lie. Theg Narlot was actually one of the Slavelords, and he set Turrosh Mak up to be captured, once he had reached Suderham. He was going to be sacrificed to the Earth Dragon when you rescued him.

    When Thorgrim hears Turrosh Mak's story, he is silent for a long while, pondering, and smoking his pipe. "It seems you are different from others of your race," he says. Then he grunts.

    Hepla walks over and gives him a hug and says,"Glad you are with us."

    Isilme gives the Half-orc a nod. "Truly a moving story, and one I understand better than most here."

    Emyn look at the half-orc in a new light. "Perhaps you should consider learning of Trithereon," he says.

    He smiles, but doesn't say anything. He is pleased by your acceptance, but he lays back in brooding silence. Soon, the rest of the party sleeps as well, except for Taki who stays up all night, watching.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:33 pm  
    The Slavers - part 24 (End of the Slavers)

    Moonday, 17th Readying, CY 581
    [I think I skipped a day!]

    The party had a rough day and night, arguing late about money, magic, and leaders. Not sure if anything was resolved, you awaken to find that the dark clouds have mostly blown away as a strong wind has picked up, blowing from the NW. It is a much warmer day, with the sun finally appearing after many days of clouds, rain, and then smoke and ash. There is yet an ashen blanket over everything, and each step brings up a small cloud of debris. Never have any of you seen such a landscape, and you hope certainly to never see one again.

    In prayer during the night, Emyn invoked the will and power of Trithereon. He sensed the following, though weather from his God or his own mind, he cannot say:
    You have pursued these slavers, through earth, air, water, and fire; some even through death itself. Many have been freed, but many many more have perished. The cost in lives in Suderham alone is almost beyond counting. The last of the Slavelords, their leader, and head of the Cult of the Earth Dragon, Stallman Klim, lies close. You sought for this many times, but were denied. Perhaps the vengeance of your God was not warranted. Perhaps you were not yet worthy.

    Now Emyn prayed one more time, and Emyn felt the fires of Trithereon's vengeance pour through him. Every pain seemed to go away, the cold of the night seemed to disappear; all that remained was one overriding sense. Stallman Klim was near, and he would pay. While the rest slept, or took turns on watch, Emyn stood, staring off towards Kalen Lekos. There the foul villain waits, and as the dawn breaks Emyn sees his true, dreadful purpose revealed.

    "Let's make our way to this temple and take care of Klim," says Emyn.

    As everyone prepares for what they think will be the final confrontation, Brother Milerjoi turns to the rest of the party, all of whom are finally awakening. Emyn listens, though his gaze is fixed on the city.

    "I can lead you into the city, and even up to the Temple of the Earth Dragon itself. I have been inside before, and know a bit of the way. However, I cannot bluff the rest of you inside. They will believe I wish to speak with Klim, but there is no way to bring the rest of you with me."

    "Trithereon calls me, monk," replies Emyn. "His vengeance is nigh. I shall rain divine punishment upon Klim's unholy brow, even if it means dismantling the entire town brick by brick. My sword thirsts for vengeance and must be slaked. You WILL get me to this villain."

    "Let's all just enter Thorgrim's portable hole," says Isilme. "Then Brother Milerjoi can just carry us all into the temple with no fuss."

    "I do not like the idea of us getting in that hole with a monk we are not sure we trust taking us in front of folks we are meant to kill," says Taki. To Isilme he adds, "Just make me unseen, I will walk in beside him." Taki turns to the monk "You sir try anything funny with my friends in that hole, and I will finish the beating I was giving you on that boat. Heed my words little man you hurt them, and I kill you or die trying."

    Gotrek laughs, and nudges Brother Milerjoi. "When ye were in the air defenseless, he means!"

    Taki turns to Gotrek, "You stay out of my conversations and my business. You may trust this monk, but he attacked me and that is all I need to know about trusting him. That is unless you want to take his side in this matter." He grips his maul a bit tighter.

    "I already did, laddie," replies Gotrek, holding Goreblade before him, "when I stopped him from being killed by you! And just to let you know, I would do the same for you, if the need ever arose! But, by Clangeddin, if you want a fight...!"

    "Hold, both of you," says Berenn, stepping between them. "By St. Cuthbert I swear I shall be a better leader, and I shall start by this." He points a finger at both Taki and Gotrek. "You had both best stop this, or I will. As Taki has said, we must work together, and this serves only our enemies."

    The two both back down, but they don't seem happy.

    "I think everyone is confident Berenn is a good leader," says Isilme. "Taki brought up some valid concerns. We need to work together and for the good of all if we are to defeat the powerful evils we are destined to face. We HAVE been lucky so far; things could have gone far worse in our travels. The gods smile on us, for we are their champions! As we are about to try and finish off the last of the wretched slave lords, let us not argue amongst ourselves - when the fruit of labors is so ripe for the picking. Let us press on to victory!"

    Brother Milerjoi stands back, hands clasped behind his back, watching and listening. He then adds. "I know your hearts, and your deeds. You will prevail, as always. It is an honor to fight alongside you again."

    Taki and Gotrek nod to each other, and the party all sighs that the situation is resolved. They also agree to use the portable hole, though Taki still refuses to enter.

    "What use a Slavelord in our midst if we don't use him," says Thorgrim.

    Brother Milerjoi nods as you come to your agreement. "It is good," he says calmly. "I read a quote, long ago about a house divided. You have proven your mettle, from the Temple of Evil to Suderham. I am certain we shall prevail here."

    He looks at Thorgrim, "As for being a Slavelord," and he shakes his head. "I'm afraid it will have little weight here. Suderham was the Aerie of the Slavelords, but Kalen Lekos," and he sweeps his arm before him. "This is the domain of the Earth Dragon. Stallman Klim rules here, and the other Slavelords are but guests of the High Priest when they come. The people here may fear them, but they are devoted to Klim and the Earth Dragon."

    He looks back towards the town. "Getting in may indeed be the easy part of our plan."

    While they are discussing all this, the town is waking up. They see a lot of people gathering around the temple, but are so far away they cannot see what's going on. The party decides to follow their previous plan, and put it into motion. They easily enter the town, which has no wall or anything. It's all pretty well spread out. They make their way towards the center of town, where the temple lies. There they [and I mean Elrae and Brother Milerjoi and the invisible Taki, all others being in the Portable Hole] see the great throng ahead, listening to the words of the High Priest, Stallman Klim. He is flanked by a couple other priests, all three wearing dragon armor and helms, Klim's emblazoned with the sigils of the Earth Dragon. There are also quite of few other priests, at least a few score, also standing together to the sides as well. He finishes talking before the party arrives, and the people begin to break off, carrying brooms and shovels as they begin the task of cleaning the ash from the town. The townsfolk are spreading out around town, beginning cleanup efforts. Most of the priests are joining them, along with many of the soldiers from the temple. Klim and the two other armored priests, along with about half the soldiers begin to go back into the temple.

    Elrae, in his guise as the priest from Suderham and Brother Milerjoi approach the temple, Taki walking behind them. As they approach the temple, a couple priests come up to them. They bow to Elrae, thinking him to be the priest of the Earth Dragon from Suderham.

    "I am glad "you" survived," says one of the priests, looking at Elrae and intentionally not at Brother Milerjoi. This priest has an extra stripe on his rope, so he must be of some middle rank.

    "Yes, yes," says Elrae impatiently. "I have important business with our leader Stalman Klim. Please make it so."

    Brother Milerjoi says the same, requesting to be taken to High Priest Klim immediately. "All power to the Earth Dragon," he adds.

    The priests glance at him, seemingly annoyed at his interruption. However, they nod, with one saying to Elrae, "Follow me Your Grace." He then turns and heads for the temple.

    The Outer Temple consists of two groups of buildings separated by a broad processional. A raised stone platform lies at the center of the promenade overlooking the pavilion on the next terrace. A few of the buildings are homes of acolytes, lesser priests, and service staff. Other buildings are used for schooling, a small hospital, and guest rooms. The priests and acolytes are all human of either gender. The acolytes and priest, maybe about 100 in number, have scattered throughout the town to help with the cleanup. There are maybe two dozen of each left in the promenade area, seeing to the cleanup here.

    The priests then lead them to the main doors to the Inner Temple. These huge stone doors are incredibly well balanced so that a single person can open or close them. They are left only partly open, with enough of a space to allow a single person to pass through without touching either door. They are guarded by two guards. One to the left wears scalemail with a small shield, wearing a brown tabard decorated with a black coiled dragon over it. He holds a heavy crossbow, with a longsword and dagger on a belt. The other guard likewise wears scale mail and shield, with a tabard of black with a large coiled dragon in gold on the chest. He also wears a helm shaped like a dragon's head, though not made from an actual dragon skull like the high priests wear. He is also armed with a heavy crossbow, longsword, and dagger.

    With a quick word from the priests, the guards give you only a cursory glance as you enter the temple.

    Here's the map of the Temple, so you can follow the party's progress.

    The temple itself is a series of connected caves in Mount Drachnkopf. Coiled dragons are the predominant decorations, whether painted, carved, or made with mosaics of small colored stones. All caves are at least 15 feet tall, with most running to about half the height of their largest diameter. Tunnels have a height of 10' or more. Lighting is provided by glowing crystals embedded in the walls. As soon as you enter, you feel the oppressiveness of the place. The air is fresh, despite the number of enclosed spaces. Numerous small openings allow air to circulate, with the air moveing mainly from the entrance at area 1 and flowing slowly into the temple.

    The three continue into area2. The center of this room is taken up by a large, two-tiered dais upon which rests an elaborate statue of a dragon, coiled around a mountain peak. The dragon is realistically painted but does not appear to be alive. The dragon is also very long and snakelike for a dragon, and wingless. Its eyes are glowing crystals that resemble those jutting from some of the walls in the temple. Two 10' diameter bronze gongs stand in the far sides of the room, each decorated with the coiled dragon motif. There are two large curtains, also decorated with dragons, which block entrance to rooms to the left and right. Beyond the statue is the entrance to another chamber.

    The two (three) are led through the room with the big sand pit, the priest leading you staying out of the sand. There are two guards at the areas marked 4a, wearing the brown tabard with a black dragon like one of the guards at the front doors. They are also armed with crossbows. They watch carefully as Elrae and Brother Milerjoi pass by. There is also a stair winding down on the right side which ends in a closed door. The priest pushes the doors open easily, and the three step into the Main Temple.

    [Areas 13 and 14 on map]

    This is where the main worship services within the temple take place. The floor here is sand. A large number of glowing crystals jut from the walls and ceiling, providing illumination here at all times. There are two more gongs in this room, just like the two in the entrance. The north and south doors are open, allowing a view down the flights of steps into the chambers beyond. To the north is a large dining hall. To the south is a passageway with a double-door on the east wall.

    The top of this three-step dais has a carved stone dragon head whose body merges with an exquisitely detailed carving of a coiling dragon body on the floor and wall. The dragon's mouth is open, and its tongue is a horizontal shelf that slopes gently into the dragon's maw. The stone dragon is inlaid with jet and gold, thousands of gp in value. Its eyes are massive black sapphires.

    The priest leads them through the southern doorway, down the steps, and around the corner. The passage goes to the area from where you can continue to 16, 18, and through the double doors to 21. I shall describe each as they pass.

    16. This room is a smaller, more intimate temple to the Earth Dragon. Along the southwest wall is a dais that rises in front of a large ornamental carving of the EArth Dragon. Like the altar above, it is also decorated with many precious stones.

    18. This area is a small ornate dining room, reserved for the elder priests. Four wooden tables and sixteen chairs are aranged in the room (for some reason the map shows beds!) to allow plenty of space and movement.

    21. This large antechamber is decorated with three statue and several pieces of abstract serpentine sculpture. Carved in the floor is a large coiled dragon symbol, inlaid with black enamel. Six comfortable chairs are placed about the room in no particular pattern. This place is used as a sitting and discussion room by the elder priests and any important guests, like the Slavelords.

    The priest escorting them waves a hand to the chairs. "Please, rest yourselves. I shall summon His Eminence." He then turns to leave, heading towards the door to the SE.

    As soon as they are alone, Elrae opens the portable hole, letting everyone climb out. Isilme casts Item on Markessa's safe, then tucks it into her belt and flies into the NW corner of the room. Thorgrim casts his silence spell on a small pepple, which cloaks everyone in silence. Everyone comes out fo the hole, and Isilme casts Isilme's invis 10' radius, making them all disappear while Thorgrim quickly folds up his hole and tucks it into his boot. Elrae and Brother Milerjoi are thus sitting in chairs two of the six chairs, while the rest are huddled around Isilme, inside the Invis 10'r spell. They are also all covered by Thorgrim's Silence spell. Noot is standing upside down on the ceiling, by the door through which the priest left to get Klim.

    The priest comes back out, and moves over towards the chairs. "His Eminence Klim will be with you in a moment," he says. He then turns to leave the room, heading right towards all the invisible people.

    [Thorgrim OOC: Oh crap, the jig is nearly up!]

    Thorgrim attempts to tug everyone in the Chain of Invisibility towards the north wall of the room into a line pressed against the wall, making sure he himself is more than 15 feet from the creaking doors.

    [DM OOC: Well, here's the deal. Hepla has cast Invis 10'r. So, you are all simply cloaked by proximity to her. Unfortunately, you cannot see each other either. Further, you are all within the 15'r of your silence spell. So, you cannot see or hear each other. You all see the priest say something to the others, then he starts walking right towards you.]

    The priest steps into the silence area, when his footsteps suddenly go quiet. He looks down, saying something inaudible. Emyn grabs him, becoming visible. He spins him around and puts him in a choke hold, then snaps the vile priest's neck.

    About this time, the southern door opens. Stepping through the doorway is Stalman Klim himself. "You've all proven quite resourceful," he says. "Too bad your usefulness is at an end."

    Emyn senses with clarity that the object of his Pursuit of Vengeance stands before him. He draws his blade and speaks, "Your time of evil is over, Stalman Klim. Know the vengeance of Trithereon!"

    Hepla acts first, firing a lightning bolt from the Staff of Power. If blasts through Klim, exploding in a great flash. Her bolt is followed by Elrae's, adding to the display.

    Noot is nearly hit by Elrae's rebounding bolt, but it fades before it reaches him.

    As the crackling lightnings fades, you see Klims armor glowing brightly. Then it seems as if it is just the dragon eyes upon it that glow. Everyone feels a strange sensation, which then passes.

    "Now, my tralls," says Klim. "Protect they friend and master!"

    Emyn rushes around the room to engage Klim in combat, as Thorgrim throws his pebbles at Klim's feet. The area is suddenly silent there, bringing a frown from Klim.

    Isilme flies up to the ceiling, and the invisibility field leaves those left on the ground. Taki throws his bands, which miss, bouncing off the rear wall. Gotrek moves across the room as well, though he isn't able to get an attack. Thorgrim tossed his stones towards Klim and casts Dimensional Anchor on Klim.

    "He ain't slipping away, boys," cries Thorgrim. "And he ain't casting no spells where he stands. Get him!"

    At the end of the round, Edralve appears besides Klim, intent on serious bodily harm. Turrosh Mak and Brother Milerjoi go after her.

    Elrae stands up, ready to send forth an acid spray with his helm at Stalman Klim, but with Gotrek and Emyn in the way, he holds back. He will hold his action, until the opportunity arises.

    Klim steps back through the open doorway, and after just a couple of feet can begin casting, which he does. Suddenly, a heavy mist begins to appear, quickly billowing up to cover the entire room beyond.

    Emyn moves forwards, into the mist. "I'm coming for you Klim!" he shouts, just before he enters the silence area.

    Hepla fires magic missiles at Edralve. Isilme frowns, because it was her illusion of Edralve, meant to attack Stalman Klim! [I am going to handle Isilme's illusions a bit differently from now on. She's not going to just post that she's casting them, but she's going to PM me. So, you guys will never exactly know if something is her illusion or not, unless she tells you.]

    Gotrek and Taki both attack her too, and they see that their strikes do nothing. Isilme sees that the illusion is no longer valuable, especially with that mist pouring through the doorway, so she doesn't make the hits look like they count. Brother Milerjoi reaches out and passes his hand harmlessly through the illusion, while Taki and Gotrek both swear (in silence) as they realize their mistake.

    Elrae moves over a bit, to get a better angle, while Thorgrim moves to the center of the room.

    Emyn finds Klim in the mist, and hits him [12]. The priest grunts from the blow, amazed that Emyn was even able to find him!

    Hepla yells out,"Stop, have you not seen how his people love him? He is a good leader and so is his god we were wrong."

    Berenn echoes her sentiments. "Yes, we should not be fighting him. Hold your attacks, and embrace the Earth Dragon."

    "Noot!" yells Isilme. "Use your ring! Dispel whatever foul magic has charmed our friends." Unfortunately, he cannot hear, as he is within the silence area.

    I should add, by the end of the round the mist has flowed out and engulfed everything now. So, BOTH rooms are engulfed in mist. All vision, including infravision, is reduced to about 5'.

    Thorgrim and Isilme cast Dispel Magic simultaneously, and between them the persuading effects are dispelled, as well as the silence.

    Klim casts a spell, and the ground around Emyn’s feets begins to rise up. He avoids the earth as it enlarges to roughly his own size in a large hollow mound, before collapsing in on itself. He then attacks Klim, missing with his sword.

    Gotrek laughs as the silence disappears and he begins to sing. He wades into the mist, swing wildly, but having no idea where Klim has gone. Eventually he bumps into something wooden, and smashes it apart! Noot then uses his ring, which dispels the mist. It also dispels Isilme's illusion, and Edralve disappears.

    Gotrek drinks the Potion of Fright. He closes with Klim, and by the time he gets there he cannot believe how scared he is. [Gotrek suffers a temporary decrease of three levels while under its effects.] The good news is, in another three rounds hell'll go into a rage during which he is immune to fear!

    Klim shouts something in a language you do not understand. Suddenly you hear a grating sound behind you. Glancing that way, you see the large stone statue of a warrior in dragon armor beginning to move. Klim, meanwhile, breathes an immense jet of fire out of his dragon helm. It engulfs Emyn and Gotrek. Emyn makes his save and takes [25], but Gotrek fails and takes [50] which takes into effect his armor cancelling the first 10 points. Luckily, the only thing that burned is his Belt of the Veteran. The bed and armoire catch fire too.

    Isilme flies inside the room and goes to the center (and highest) part of the room. The ceiling is about 20’ there, but it’s only about 10’ above Klim’s head, as he’s backed up against the north wall. She comes in just after the flaming breath was shot, and sees the flaming furniture. Gotrek is also smoking rather badly.

    Taki moves in and goes after the priest as well. He doesn’t see that the statue started moving, and the thing swings a stone fist at him. It hits him in the side [16], knocking him backwards and to the ground!

    Hepla takes out her Ioun stone while she moves across and picks up Taki's Iron Bands.

    Brother Milerjoi rushes through the room, entering the door to Klim’s chamber. He barely gets around Thorgrim, who stopped as he entered, having seen the moving stone statue. Berenn moves and enters the room as well. He steps up beside Thorgrim, to battle the animated statue.

    One of the doors opens up and a female priestess, also wearing dragon armor and a dragon helm enters the room. Elrae turns, having been ready all this time to use his acid breath he attempts it. He screams in pain as the acid pours out of the dragon helm and only engulfs himself. He takes [12] damage as it pours down, covering his face!

    [Gotrek OOC: Wow. A bad turn for us. Someone should heal me a bit before I go berserk. Then, it will be too late.]

    Gotrek is down to 3hp now. He swings and hits [20], while Emyn swings twice, hitting Klim once for [18]. Klim is clearly hurt bad.

    You also see a strange shimmering around him, and for a second he seems to start to go insubstantial, but then he is ripped back. He realizes that whatever spell he had set up to get him out of trouble just failed, thanks to Thorgrim Dimensional Anchor.

    Meanwhile, the other priestess laughs at Elrae. "You didn't think to be able to use the weapons of the Earth Dragon against its own priests, did you? Silly boy."

    The priestess emits a sleep gas from her dragon helm, which engulfs Elrae, Noot, and Hepla. All three fall asleep, dropping to the ground. She laughs heartily, until Turrosh Mak hits her with the Sword of Eanwulf [16], knocking her back against the wall!

    “It’s not over yet,” he growls at her.

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Thorgrim attack the statue. Berenn hits with Bonefire, the blade clanging off but taking a small chunk of stone with it [6]. Thorgrim also hits with his pick [14]. Taki gets up and approaches the statue, ready to bash it into a thousand pieces with his maul.

    The statue swings a stone fist, hitting Thorgrim in the shoulder [14].

    Isilme does her best to fly over Klim and drop the safe, but somehow she misses, as he notices something and sidesteps her. Klim begins casting again, and steps back into the stone wall behind him. Gotrek attacks the wall with his axe, chips of stone flying everywhere! Emyn stares at the wall in frustration, knowing that Klim is just beyond his reach again! Brother Milerjoi moves up to the wall, careful to avoid the upset dwarf, and begins to search the wall.

    Isilme casts wraithform, becoming insubstantial. Thorgrim backs off to move around and heal Gotrek, and he sees what’s happening in the other room. He shouts a warning and takes the rest of his movement towards the priestess.

    Turrosh Mak steps up and attacks the priestess, but misses. She stands up, provoking an attack of opportunity, but he misses again, and she casts a spell on him. The ground rises up around him, totally encasing him in porous volcanic rock. She smiles, seeing all of her foes have been rendered helpless.

    Meanwhile, Berenn swings again at the statue, hitting it for [10]. The statue then hits Berenn [13]. Taki hits the statue with his maul for [20]. Berenn and Taki each get second attacks, and they hit the statue, smashing it to pieces.

    Brother Milerjoi, hearing Thorgrim’s shout, heads into the other room.

    Isilme flows through a crack in the stone, and reforms on the other side, in a secret passage. She doesn’t see signs of any Klim, nor any tracks. Emyn searchs the wall, finds a mechanism for a secret door, and opens it. The stone wall pivots outwards to the left. He focues on his Pursuit of Vengeance, and he is confused, for it seems Klim is now to his left. He is somehow INSIDE the stone wall!

    Berenn runs into the other room, where he casts a CSW on Gotrek, just before he goes berserk. Gotrek continues to smash at the wall.

    The priestess casts a spell, and suddenly all the stone beneath Thorgrim and Brother Milerjoi turns to mud. They immediately begin to sink into the mud. They sink 1/3 of their height each round, or in other words take 3 rounds to go under.

    Taki goes to rush out, but he stops at the threshold when he sees the floor beyond has turned to mud, trapping his friends. Finally, those who look see Hepla picked up by some invisible force and tossed face-down into the mud!

    Emyn stands there, frustrated as his inability to do anything. Gotrek grins and puts away Giant Goreblade, taking out Stonecrusher. Isilme and Berenn both are about to cast Stone Shape, when Stalman Klim steps out of the wall again. Emyn, holding his action, swiftly attacks, hitting Klim for [12].

    Brother Milerjoi grabs ahold of Hepla and pulls her upright, just as Thorgrim casts a Dispel Magic. The mud instantly changes back into stone, though it leaves him, Brother Milerjoi, Elrae, and Hepla all trapped. [Good thing Brother Milerjoi pulled her face out of the mud!]

    Taki drops his action, as he sees the floor change again, and moves across the room to engage the priestess. She seemed about to do something else, but with the floor changing and Taki’s approach, she simply readies her weapon, a nasty looking pick.

    Quick summary: In Klim's room, Klim has just stepped out from the door. Emyn in right before him. Isilme is actually right above the door (kind of between Emyn and Berenn, though I couldn't really put her there and still make it look right). Berenn is on the other side of the door, as is Gotrek right next to him.

    In the sitting room Turrosh Mak is in the NW, encased in some kind of porous rock that completely surrounds him. Next to him is the evil priestess. To her right is Taki, ready to strike with his maul. A large square area that was affected by the Rock to Mud, and though it was dispelled, everyone and everything in it has sunk 1/3 their heights into the mud, which is now solid again. That's Elrae and Hepla, trapped sideways, and Thorgrim and Brother Milerjoi, with their legs fully trapped. To the SE of the area in the corner is Noot, sleeping and still invisible.

    Brother Milerjoi summons his inner strength, then smashes the stone floor, shattering the stone as if he were using Taki’s maul. Still, it is obvious that he will not free himself quickly. Meanwhile, Thorgrim casts his Soften Stone, turning the hardened stone to soft clay, from which everyone can begin to escape.

    Taki swings his maul at the priestess, hitting her squarely in the chest. His blow blasts right through her dragon armor. He can feel the loud crunch of bones breaking, and the priestess’s eyes go wide in disbelief. She reaches out towards Taki, then slowly slumps to the ground dead. [Critical hit to the chest causing immediate death!]

    Your victory, however, is short-lived. As you turn around, you see an invisible force pull Hepla’s head back. Suddenly, a deep wound cuts across her neck from ear to ear as an invisible dagger lays open her artery. Appearing, bloody knife in hand, is another priestess.

    "You take my friend," she says evilly, "I take yours."

    Inside Klim's room, Klim reaches out and touches Emyn, who suddenly feels agonizing pain. His legs buckle and he drops to his knees, having only [1] hp left!

    Gotrek moves around Emyn, attacking Klim, but missing. Berenn, who was about to heal Gotrek, decides to lay his hands upon Emyn instead. He heals [16]. Reinvigorated, Emyn stands back up, thanking Berenn as he focuses on Klim.

    Oh, and at the end of the round, the broken stones of the statue form back together into a large Earth Elemental!

    [Thorgrim OOC: That didn't wake her up? Oh, I guess she would wake up dead. Wowza! What an exciting adventuring day! Things are looking rough. It is times like these when Thorgrim wishes he had his Stone of Earth Elemental Control (it really doesn't control anything, only summons, but still useful). And according to what I see we have not a single Potion of Healing among us.

    Thorgrim will free himself and cast Cure Moderate Wounds on Hepla, kicking Elrae awake as he approaches her. He will then try to interpose himself between her and harm until he is able to throw some more healing her way or she can polymorph into something safe and heal herself. He won't be leaving Hepla's side until he's sure she's dead or she is alive and safe from harm, regardless of any screams for help from the other room.]

    Isilme moves back to the secret passage, barring Klim if makes a run for it, and casts Silence on Klim. Berenn uses his rod on Emyn, curing [15], while all sound around Klim ceases.

    Noot, who just woke up, appears and backstabs the priestess [42]. [That was a first. A backstab critical. Can’t find any rules in 2nd ed about it, but in 3rd ed you get BOTH, so I gave Noot both. He rolled a triple damage crit, and also got x3 backstab, for a total of x6!] The priestess stumbles forward, stunned.

    Taki moves over to her and misses with his maul. Thorgrim gets out of the clay, stumbling up and prepares to help Hepla. Brother Milerjoi grabs ahold of her and he could reach, and checks her. He then turns to Thorgrim and shakes his head. Thorgrim will hold Hepla's head in his hands, being heard to mutter, "Don't die yet, child...too young..."

    Klim starts to casts a spell, but is interrupted by Emyn, who hits him again[13]. Gotrek sings his war song and slams Klim with Goreblade [16]. Klim is knocked back against the wall.

    Isilme moves back into the passage. I assume she goes far enough to get out of the silence spell, and casts Protection from Evil.

    Meanwhile, Klim breathes out a deadly chlorine gas, which rapidly expands into the room. Isilme, however, is safe, having stepped back into the passage. The raging Gotrek takes [?]. Emyn takes [29]. Berenn takes [35]. All stumble backwards, coughing and chocking. Gotrek and Berenn collapse to the ground.

    Emyn struggles forward, simply unwilling to go down, and hits Klim [12], then hits him again [22]. The second blow is to the head, and knocks his helm flying.

    In the other room Noot backs away from the priestess, walking backwards up the wall and out of reach. The priestess grimaces in pain from the wound, as she casts a spell. Her hand turns jet black, and she turns back to Taki now that Noot has moved away. Taki swings his maul, but misses, and the priestess steps inside the arc of the great weapon.

    “No, you die,” she says as she touches him in the face. Taki immediately feels a burning sensation, and he stumbles backwards, falling to the floor incapacitated. Afterwards, she steps back, into the doorway to the room from which she entered.

    Brother Milerjoi gets himself out of the earth, as Thorgrim explodes into action. He looks at Taki, and he sees strange black lines spreading out over his face. He wants to help him, but he is overcome with anger over Hepla. Thorgrim leaps over Taki, and attacks the priestess, slamming his pick into her leg [14]. She grunts as the blow caves in part of her dragon armor. Thorgrim then hears Brother Milerjoi yell "Thorgrim, duck!"

    Isilme moves over to Berenn, picks up his rod, and heals him with it. [15] Berenn is back in the positives! He’s still prone though. Klim swings his pick at Emyn, missing, and Emyn attacks back, hitting Klim again with his sword[15]. Klim is very hurt, though so is Emyn.

    In the other room, Thorgrim ducks and he hears a strange cry from Brother Milerjoi. The monk makes a running kick, flying right over Thorgrim's head, and connecting squarely with the priestess’s chest [10]. The blow knocks her back into her room, where she falls backwards to the floor.

    Thorgrim turns back to Taki, and sees that he is incapacitated. He also notes that he has clearly been poisoned as black streaks begin spreading across his features.

    At the end of the round, Elrae finally wakes up. He is half stuck in the floor but like the others can get free in one round. He gets out of the ground as Noot moves over to Turrosh Mak, taking out his Rod of Smiting and preparing to try and free him.

    Thorgrim casts Hold Poison. The blackness on Taki’s face stops spreading, though it doesn’t recede. He is, unfortunately, still incapacitated.

    The priestess backs away from Brother Milerjoi, starting to cast another spell as she invokes the Earth Dragon.

    “You revere the dragon?” asks Brother Milerjoi. “Then feel the Dragon’s Hammer!” With another shout, he steps forward and punches her in the chest. Her armor actually cracks under the blow, as does her ribcage. [20]. She looks at him in disbelief for a moment, before falling backwards to the ground, her dead eyes staring vacantly.

    In the other room, Berenn crawls over to Gotrek and casts CSW on him, curing [13]. Gotrek is back to 8hp after this, and no longer raging. Berenn is still prone. Isilme backs off into the passage again, casting strength on herself [rolled an 8, bringing her up to 18 (91-99) range.]

    Emyn and Klim both attack simultaneously, and both hit each other. Klim’s pick drives through Emyn’s breastplate, felling the paladin [10] while Emyn’s sword impales Klim through his belly [18]. Both lock stares before slumping to the ground in their deadly embrace.

    [DM OOC: Well, guess I don't have to post another map!]

    [Emyn OOC: I think I see Hepla near the end of that tunnel....follow the light...]

    [Isilme OOC: I have to say....if your going to die that is a sweet way for a paladin on a retribution quest to go.]

    Berenn reaches out with his rod and heals Emyn [15], bringing him back from the brink of death. "No more die today," he tells Emyn as the paladin opens his eyes.

    Meanwhile, Gotrek steps up to Klim, who stares up at him with fading eyes, and chops off his head with a blow from his axe. "Darned drow is growin' on me," he mutters.

    Elrae assess the situation and can't believe that Hepla was murdered so foul. He swears an oath to the gods that he shall bring her back from the dead. He then draws Snowfang and chops off the head of the priestess. To the monk he adds, "Brother Milerjoi, I was wrong about mistrusting you. That shall never happen again."

    Berenn moves over to Taki and casts Neutralize Poison. The blackness slowly leaves his face. He sits up and looks around.

    Isilme is stunned by the loss of her friend. She props Hepla up carefully and removes her own Ring of Regeneration and places it on hepla's finger... Saying a short prayer to the goddess and hoping that some sign of repair or life will be shown on her in the next turn. While she is waiting, she uses her cantrips to clean hepla's face and clothes of blood.

    She looks over to the party, wiping away a tear, "What now?"

    Thorgrim shouts, "Brother Millerjoi! Noot! Elrae! See to our fallen comrades, and stand guard! I'll check on the rest!" With that, he checks out the other room to see what's going on. He will cast CLW on anybody dying (Emyn) until they are revived. He will reserve further spellcasting until he can figure out what is going on and what the hell our next move should be.

    Isilme follows Thorgrim, adding a cure of her own. "Rise noble paladin," she says solemnly. "Your quest is fulfilled."

    Emyn gets to his feet and makes his way over to Hepla, tears coursing down his cheeks.
    He kneels next ot her and begins to pray:

    "Holy Trithereon, I pray to thee. Restore my friend and the woman I love to this life. She fell so that your pursuit of vengeance could be fulfilled. I plead with thee return her to this world hale and whole. If thou must, I offer my life to you in recompense for this deed or will undertake any task you set before me. Please, Holy Trithereon, I beg of thee. Let not the light in my heart fade."

    Suddenly, the ground begins to tremble, at first gradually, but then more and more violently. Earthquake!

    Thorgrim opens his portable hole, and everyone climbs in it. They know there is no time to waste. Noot throws a few items within it, before they close it, and Emyn climbs in carefully carring Hepla's body. Isilme then folds up the portable hole, casts invisibility upon herself again, and flies out of the temple.

    Inside the hole, Emyn cries over Hepla. When one of his tears falls on her skin, she puts a hand up to his face and says,"Whats wrong, and why are you holding me?"

    Thorgrim looks stunned. "Your god IS powerful," he says, "and generous, to help you so. I take back anything bad I said about Tritheron."

    Emyn simply weeps openly, lost for words.

    Isilme makes it out, with the place crumbling around her. She flies outside where she is amazed at the destruction. The ground is still shaking badly, and many of the buildings have completely collapsed. Isilme opens the hole to give everyone more air, and when she notices Hepla, she smiles and begins to cry again. Without a word, she closes it and flies off, further away. There are lots of dead around, killed by collapsing buildings or fallen into opening fissures. She thinks, I would almost feel bad if they weren't evil worshippers of a vile cult! Almost. She makes it away from the mountain, eventually finding a good place to stop, let everyone out, and take stock of the situation.

    Thorgrim gets out his pipe and passes around some Gutshaker, though only Gotrek takes any. "Before we celebrate too much, remember that we still have Markessa to deal with, and didn't get any information about her whereabouts..."

    [Thorgrim OOC: perhaps we could ask the survivors of Kalen Lekos? Hepla could polymorph into Markessa and we could trot her around with a sign that says, "Have you seen me? Call 1-800-EVIL-BCH."]

    He takes Turrosh Mak's hand. "Turrosh Mak, you fought bravely against the Slave Lords. The Sword of Eanwulf is yours to keep. You have earned it."

    When they are sitting there, Star walks out of the dark and sit and stare at Hepla for a long time. Then she slashes out with one claw cutting her hand. Faster then Hepla can react Star then licks the scratch mark and it is gone....except you might notice that the shadow of the hand has a single scrach mark on it.

    Hepla looks at Star, surprissed. "I don't know whats gotten into that cat. Also, I have everything I went in there with but I still feel I lost something. Oh well, maybe I'll remember what it was." She giggles. "Thank you for saving me," she adds. "I really don't know what was happening while I was visiting that nice guy." She looks at Emyn and blushes, "Its a good thing you were not there. I was naked except for this cat pendant that I wear around my neck, and it does not cover much." She notices for the first time that the pendant has actually changed color; it is now deep red.

    "Wow, a red cat," she muses. "I wonder how that happened?" With another giggle, she adds, "Maybe I should try red for awhile." She uses a cantrip to change the color of her outfit but it ends up such a dark red that its almost black.

    The paty then heads out, towards the main road. After a few hours, the earthquakes and tremors have stopped. Kalen Lekos seemed pretty well destroyed when you left. As soon as able, the party moves on. By the time they get to the road, everything's fine. The guard towers are still there, and you find that there has been a big fight. No telling what it was about, but there are dead mercs all over. The guard towers are deserted, so they decide to sleep there. The remaining mercs have left. They decide to sleep there overnight, and the priests all use up their remaining healing. Hepla sleeps snuggled up in Emyn's arms.

    Godsday, 18th Readying, CY 581
    The next day the party makes it to Stoneheim. It seems nobody is paying much attention to the many people clogging the road south. There they find the Lady Huerta of Harby and the other freed slaves, staying at her manse. The city is in an uproar, with nobody sure what the result of the eruption will be for the Pomarj in general, nor for Stoneheim and its inhabitants.

    As the party prepares to move on, Turrosh Mak thanks you all for freeing him, but he will stay here. "The Pomarj is my home," he says. "For better or worse, I must stay and help, and there is the small matter of Theg Narlot." He looks back at the column of smoke still rising in the NE. "I yet have a score to settle with that one," he says.

    "I wish you the greatest of success here," says Isilme. "Perhaps with these great evils gone, the humanoids will be looking for leadership and you can take that place and show them a different way. I hope someday to do that for my people. For us to change the minds of those who only perceive our kind in a certain way is a great task." She then stands on her toes and gives him a kiss on the cheek. "It was a pleasure and an honor knowing you Turrosh. If you ever leave here know that you will always have a place with us in Hommlet. If you run into any problems with Drow, send word to me and I will do what I can for a friend" She hugs him and says her farewells.

    Hepla thanks him for their time together, for the way he showed the nobility of his race and also says that she would be honored someday to fight along side him again. She also says,"Later we will be identifing what we have from the temple, but if you are leaving now it's not good to start a life with nothing but a sword." She takes her belt pouch and gives it to him. "Here is 100 gold and a sapphire worth much more." She laughs, adding, "a kiss," as she hugs him and kisses his cheek.

    Emyn says, "Turrosh Mak, thank you for your help, though I pray you do not revive this vile cult should you manage to bring some order to this chaos."

    Turrosh Mak leaves, and the party gets the group ready to leave immediately. Emyn also goes to Hepla, wraps her in a tight embrace and says, "Thank Trithereon you are alive. I offered my own life to him in recompense for your return but it seems he has other plans for me. My heart dropped out of my chest when I saw your throat had been slashed."

    "Just so long as I don't suffacate," she says, pulling away. "Thank you for your help, and I remember an old story about tears of love having power. Maybe I will introduce you to mom, when we get the chance."

    "I'd like that," he replies. "I hope Star will also approve. It seems I am the knight protector to the Order of the Cat, or at least its members, so I hope that places me in good stead."

    Waterday, 192th Readying, CY 581
    They leave Stoneheim and make their way back to Ostrand. The weather is warmer, and the skies still cloudy from the smoke, though it's more clear this far away. They are amazed that there is a thick layer of ash covering the ground even here. Unfortunately, they also find that that you are a day late. The captain who brought them there has left the day before. Brother Milerjoi, using his Slavelord status one last time, offers to find a ship.

    He goes to the docks, and gets one. It is a small merchant vessel which is traveling to Scant. Scant is the capital of Onnwal, and a major mercantile port, the primary port at the entrance to the Sea of Gearnat. Nearly all ships traveling the routes to Woolly Bay make a stop here, as well as those passing through to Relmor Bay, and the great Eastern Cities in Nyrond, Almor, and Ahlissa. From there it should be an easy matter to find a ship traveling as far as the Free City of Greyhawk, and from there to Verbobonc itself. It is also large enough that they can bring all the people they've freed, though they need to pay for extra food and water for them.

    Thus ends the Slavers adventure!
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:16 pm  
    The Voyage Home - Part 1

    Leaving the Pomarj, the party has an uneventful journey by ship to Scant. Hepla uses her Cloak of the Manta Ray to swim alongside as much as possible. In the meantime, she spends her time with Emyn. Isilme spends her time finishing the book she found in Markessa's room, The Treatise of Wizardry, by Karoolck the Great. She finds it quite interesting, and gains some good insights [translating into a +1 to her Spellcraft and the possibility of taking a new proficiency, Tactics of Magic. This is an extra thing I started to do. I let the party learn languages and proficiencies, or get bonuses to existing ones, by reading books. It makes sense, further gives them more proficiencies, and makes them want to find books!]

    They also take all the items they found which were sacred to the Earth Dragon, bash them up, and dump them into the sea. [Again, a new thing I do is give them double EXP for destroying "evil" items, or items consecrated to "evil" churches/purposes. It encourages them to destroy them, and keeps them from gaining too much magic. Just have a +2 sword engraved with runes sacred to Nerull, and you know they won't keep it. Yes, it is perhaps a cheap trick to keep magic items from them. Sue me! ]

    Thorgrim doesn't like travelling by sea, he never has. However, he is much more comfortable now that he has his nifty Ring of Water-Walking. He will take off his armor and check it out to see how it works. He walks around alongside the ship, while Hepla swims around him. He almost gets over his distaste for the sea, almost.

    Elrae sings an old sea ditty which Noot taught him:

    Up jumps a crab with his crooked legs
    Saying "you play the cribbage and I'll stick the pegs"
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a dolphin with his chuckle-head
    He jumps on the deck saying "pull out the lead!"
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a flounder so flat on the ground
    Saying "damn your old chocolate, mind how you sound"
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a salmon so bright as the sun
    He jumped down between the decks and fired off a gun
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a whale, the biggest of all
    He jumped up aloft and he's pawl after pawl
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a herring, the king of the sea
    He jumps up on deck saying "helms a-lee!"
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Up jumps a shark with his big row of teeth
    He jumped up between the decks and shook out the reefs
    Singing blow the wind westerly, let the wind blow
    By a gentle nor'wester how steady she goes

    Starday, 22nd Readying, 581 CY
    They reach Scant in just three days. It's evening when they reach port, the great lighthouse guiding the ship in. Weather has been great, with favorable winds the whole way. To the north they could see the smoke cloud from Suderham, stretching to the East along the winds.

    Isilme uses her magic to remove the scars from Elrae's face, then looks to Hepla. Hepla says, "The cat scratch will not heal. I know that, but this scar from a cut I don't remember getting runs ear to ear, that's what I want removed if you can." She shows the scar from when her throat was cut, and Isilme takes care of it. Sure enough the cat scratch will not go away.

    This ship isn't going on, so the party has to get another. It's not really a problem here, as ships are going to City of Greyhawk all the time. Noot says he can find one easily, though the party will have a couple days here in town before moving on. Brother Milerjoi knows Scant, so he sets everyone up in a good inn, paying for it himself.

    Elrae looks at Noot's map of Wooley Bay. "Scant is east of where we want to go, we need to head back, north by northwest if we ever want to go home."

    Noot then begins to give Elrae a lesson about Wooley Bay. "Two slow currents circulate Woolly Bay, the Safeton Spin, flowing counter-clockwise in the northern third, and the Wild Current, traveling clockwise in the southern two-thirds of the bay. Ships sailing from Hardby to Safeton often ride the Safeton Spin, traveling along the Wild Coast from Hardby south past Carnakh and Palgaryn to Safeton and the ruins of Cantona. Ships from Safeton hug the coast to avoid the tug of the current up to the mouth of the Selintan and then to Hardby. Sailing against the Spin slows ships to 50%, but this can be overcome by traveling closer to the coast using sails or oars. Hardby ships heading for ports in Relmor Bay of the Azure Sea nearly always take the long leg of the Spin, cruising down the western coast and crossing the bay until they near Barren Point, a rocky peninsula of the Bright Desert about 160 miles south-southest of Hardby. Here, the ship must quickly cross the current to catch the top of the Wild Current, which will carry the ship east and south along the Bright Desert coast to the Sea of Gearnat."

    He points out some of these places on his map, and when he looks up, Elrae's eyes are closed and he's fast asleep. Gotrek and Thorgrim chuckle, as Noot smiles, lifting a mug. "I always like to keep my audience riveted!"

    Hepla buys the two childrens reading books in Scant. She also looks into, buying some paper and ink and quills to start practicing writing scrolls. When she returns, she sits down and begins teaching Emyn to read and write, "as any gentleman should."

    Emyn finds a small chapel of Trithereon in Scant, and there he gives half of his share of the wealth they found. He spends time in prayer, then returns in the evening. When he learns of Hepla's purchase of books, he smiles, thanking her. The two then sit down to read.

    Also, at some point Brother Milerjoi will leave, that he may report to his order. Another of his order is an adviser to the Szesk of Onnwal, Lord Ewerd Destron. Onnwal had been hard-pressed in combating the slave trade from the Pomarj. While they were content to leave the troubled land alone for many decades, the increase in slaving had forced the fleets of Onnwal to increase their presence in nearby waters, guarding the trade routes and seeking slavers and pirates.

    The party ends up being summoned to the Szesk, who wishes to hear news from the Pomarj. The Lord was very well-pleased to hear of the destruction of the Slavers operation, as well as the defeat of the strange new cult of which they had been hearing rumors. In gratitude for their efforts, he provides transport on an Onnwalish ship bound for the Free City of Greyhawk.

    "Oh to go to the glorious Free City of Greyhawk," says Elrae. "It has been a dream of mine since I was a young troubadour busking for change in Woodstock. Let's make haste and set sail."

    Hepla, if there is time, will be up to a visit to Bigby. "Tea with Bigby," sounds like fun.

    "Bigby has a fearsome reputation and I'd rather not bother with him," says Emyn.

    "Wasn't Bigby an evil wizard that crushed foolish adventurers with his magical hand?" aks Elrae. "I doubt he'd open the doors for us to have some tea. I doubt there's anything that we possess that would interest him. Maybe if we still possessed the Orb of Golden Death or even the Earth Dragon relics he would let us in."

    "If he won't see us, he won't see us," says Hepla, "but you never know until you try." Hepla tries to find directions to Bigby's place, but she finds that nobody knows. "Strange, she thinks, but with an arch-mage, who knows?"

    They give the idea of meeting Bigby, then settle in for a last night. Most everyone spends the time drinking, especially the dwarves who simply don't relish another trip aboard ship. After a long night, they all head off to bed and get a few hours sleep before the morning.

    Moonday, 24 Readying (581 CY)
    They leave Scant aboard the Silent Spring, a large cog sailing for the Free City of Greyhawk. There are about 3 dozen freed people aboard, and the ship will drop them off on its way. The rest stay in Scant, everything paid for by Lord Destron. The ship sets sail in the early morning, and makes an unremarkable journey to Highport. It takes three days to sail across the Gearnat Straits before the ship sights land again, along the northeastern shore of the Pomarj. The contrary winds on the passage slowed progress, but as soon it approaches land, the ship catches a strong current and a better wind. In another day it is approaching Highport.

    When Hepla sits down to teach Emyn, she finds some scrolls in her pack. Taking them out, she finds they are unique spells from the arch-mage Bigby. A note with them reads, "I always take an interest in those who like books!"

    Planning to put in for water and supplies, they see lots of smoke on the horizon. Highport is on fire. When they get a bit closer, they see most the dock area has burned. There is no evidence of the Earth Temple; that entire area of the city is simply gone. The captain decides it is best to stay away, and they tack back out to sea.

    Noot explains that there are two currents in Woolly Bay, as evidenced by his charts. As he pulls them out, Elrae almost runs to the other end of the ship! Noot then explains the currents again. "In the southern half there is a general clockwise current, called the Wild Current. Once you pass Dragonnel's Tail, a long promontory about a day's journey north from Elredd, you will sail back across the bay towards Barren Point, a rocky peninsula of the Bright Desert. From there you catch the northern, counter-clockwise current, the Selintan Spin, which will see you quickly to Hardby. " When he looks up, everyone's gone!

    With create food and water spells, the party is able to supplement the crew's needed provisions. Berenn also takes off each day with Ra and Thoth, hunting along the coast. Once they bring back two nice-sized deer which is a welcome treat. It takes two days to reach Elredd, and the Silent Spring puts into port.

    Godsday, 4th Coldeven (581 CY)
    The ship reached Elredd early morning on the 4th of Coldeven. It's still nice, upwards of 60* during the day, but as they have returned north, the chilly nights return and temps drop to about 38*. [just giving you some idea!] The skies are clear, and it's a beautiful day as you sail into the port of Elredd. About half of the freed people take leave of the ship here. The party pitches in, everyone giving them some money to see them home and help them get started again.

    They go ashore and find that the port of Elredd is NOT part of the city they were once in. It is actually a separate walled city, about 2 miles East of the main city, with the area between mostly swampland and one raised causeway connecting the two. After the city was built on the hill inland, the port grew as a small fishing village and eventually into the full-sized decent port. While they wait for the ship to be re-provisioned, they are met by the rest of the Deldukr. They marched north with the rest of the freed slaves, skirted Highport which had descended into a battleground between all the various humanoid and human factions in the city, fought their way passed some humanoid bands, but eventually reached Elredd a few weeks ago. Urgal is leading them.

    Gotrek gives Urgal Firebeard a hearty hug! Most people would think they were wrestling each other. Gotrek walks away with him, to find a pub and catch up. They head to a local tavern, the Dancing Rat, where whoever wishes to go sits down for drinks with Urgal and the handful of dwarves with him. It seems he traveled downriver from Thunderstrike with a couple of guides in a small boat, then went north up a large tributary. After a couple days, two rangers led them through the Suss, a very dangerous journey. They had to cross the central highlands, really just low wooded hills, but very old, dense, and dark. While making their way through a valley, they came across a group of men, orcs, and gnolls. There weren't too many, maybe a dozen, and they were mostly wounded. Urgal and the rangers slew them all over the next couple of days. Urgal would never have thought about it again, had it not been for the fact that the gnolls were part of the Black Tongue tribe, the orcs Flaming Skull orcs, and the men wore the insignia of Markessa's guards. What they were doing so deep into the Suss is anybody's guess.

    The party files the info away [just a future adventure hook!] and invite the dwarves to travel with them. Urgal declines; the dwarves aren't going to the ship. They were considering taking another job for Brego Hammersmith, Lord of Elredd. After speaking with the party and learning what has happened, they wonder if the humanoid danger will now increase or decease. They will probably stay here a bit and see what happens. Besides, Elredd is one of the mercenary entrepots of the the Flanaess, so news of wars quickly reaches the city, in any case.

    While drinking in the tavern with Urgal and his sergeants, the party is further greeted by none other than the Lord of Elredd, Brego Hammersmith himself. He is very pleased to see them alive and well. "Heard about Kilrak," he says to Gotrek. "Musta been a helluva scrape!"

    "Aye," Gotrek almost grunts. He swirls the swill in the bottom of his tankard and looks intensely at Brego. "But I had faith in Clangeddin."

    He pauses here. Perhaps drink has loosened his tongue. "I have a lot more to kill, as well as restore," he says somewhat cryptically.

    Thorgrim and Urgal exchange glances, but say nothing.

    "Well, by all the Gods ye've earned it!" says the Lord of Elredd. "Barkeep! Ale on me." He takes a tankard himself, slamming mugs with Gotrek, Thorgrim, and Taki (and whoever else is there!) "And keep 'em coming all night!"

    Hepla has a full tankard of ale but is not drinking as fast as the dwarves. "Lord Elredd, this is very kind of you , to come to us and to pay for drinks, thank you.," she says.

    "You've earned it, girl," he says.

    Only Elrae stays away, his memory of Elredd and its Lord not his fondest. He doesn't even want to sing, and he slips away, taking his rest aboard ship.

    Waterday, 5th of Coldeven (CY 581)
    The party wakes up, totally hung over, except for Hepla of course who somehow seems to be able to drink anything, even Gutshaker. Urgal and dwarves plan to stay, to look into taking work for Lord Hammersmith, so the rest prepare to leave in the morning.

    Thorgrim awakens from his slumber still drunk. He had been dreaming of home. Not Hommlet, but Dorob Kilthduum. He sees first his 20-gallon cask of Gutshaker lying on the floor, and gives it a rap to find it is half-empty. He frowns. His Portable Hole is lying wide-open on the floor. Gotrek sleeps in the corner, snoring loudly. Thorgrim's not sure where he is. He finds someone sleeping in the Hole, but his eyes can't yet focus.

    Gotrek wakes up. He remembers having to carry Thorgrim to his room. That last tankard of gutshaker had knocked the Clangeddin priest right out! He looks at Thorgrim. He looks at the gutshaker keg.

    "Hand me a tankard from the hole, Thorgrim! I find myself to be a little parched."

    He pours two cups of gutshaker, handing Thorgrim one of them. Thorgrim takes it half-heartedly. Gotrek chuckles. He stops all of a sudden. Remembering the last fragments of a dream he had. Gotrek frowns. He was in a massive cave. His old ancestral home! Orcs and goblins surrounded him, and he went berserk. He killed his way thru, barely registering Thorgrim and Urgal there as well. And then the roar from the deep. The reverberating footsteps. The approach of Hill Giants. He finds himself now enlarged and hasted. Was the rest of the party here as well? He continues on, howling in rage, immersing from the darkness, and striking a Giant with two mighty blows of Goreblade.......

    "Gotrek, are ye ok?" Thorgrim looks concerned.

    Gotrek blinks and grunts. Only now noticing the remnants of the broken tankard in the hand, crushed easily by Gotrek's strength. Gutshaker drips down. He looks at Thorgrim.
    "No. Everything is NOT alright! He tells Thorgrim his dream, convinced it was a sign from Clangeddin.

    Before they go, an large earthquake hits the region. The coastal buildings suffer greatly, with perhaps half of the buildings around the port collapsing. Fires start up in various places, and there is just a general sense of destruction and suffering throughout the city.
    With the earthquake, Berenn sticks around to help the people. He will fly on home afterwards. The party spends the day helping out, and when they are done, they catch the evening tide. The dwarves change their minds after the earthquake, considering it a sign. Much as they don't like traveling by sea, they will sail with the party after all. Gotrek is pleased, as he has ideas regarding the mine outside of Hardby. So, the ship takes off in the evening on the way to Hardby, lighter by three dozen freed slaves, but with equal number of battle-hardened dwarves.

    "I'm sure this trip will be fun," says Noot to the other sailors.

    The party also handed over to Brego the names of those in Elredd and the surrounding area who were agents of the Slavelords. They had all that info from both Markessa's as well as Edralve's papers. He thanks them, promising to root them out of the region.

    The ships sets sail and with favorable winds and a good current (this is where both the clockwise southern Wild Current and the counter-clockwise northern Selintin Spin meet) makes the 160 mile journey across Woolly Bay in a single day. By late afternoon the next day, they see the rocky headland of Barren Point, westernmost point of the Bright Desert. The ship makes the transition to the Selintin Spin, and through the night the ship follows the current along the northern edge of Barren Point, always a few miles out to stay safe from any hazards.

    Freeday, 7th of Coldeven (CY 581)
    With the dawn, the ship is making the northerly turn along the edge of the Bright Desert. From what the crew says, the place is desolate, even for a desert, full of dangerous barbarians, savage man-scorpions, and worse. Few of those ever run aground survived to tell the tale. As they travel north along the coast, some of the dwarves get rather taciturn, even for them. It seems the ship is nearing their old home, the ruined port city of Zarak.

    A couple of the dwarves actually lived in Zarak for a few years, and they told many a tale of the dark times when the port was abandoned. Their melancholy has clearly affected the rest of the dour Deldukr, who stare ahead and to the right as you approach the coast wherein lie the ruins of Zarak. Off to the right you see a large channel cut between two small bluffs, and perhaps 1/2 mile inland, just over the low headlands, you see the ruined spires of Zarak.

    To the left of the channel is a small island, maybe 1000' wide, with a low hill that overlooks the entrance to the channel. Upon the hilltop is a small fortress, which would have dominated the passage.

    Replace cannons with catapults and ballistae. :)

    "Should we stop to check this place out?" asks Thorgrim.

    Hepla is for it, she has dreamed of finding Mithriel. Her mom has some pieces of the wonderful silver metal and wants some of her own. She also wants to help the dwarvess get back what is theirs.

    The dwarves who lived here tell you there is nothing in the ruins of Zarak worth investigating. "We took everything with us," says one. "The Pits, well, who knows what's there?" They then share the tale:

    Ruins of Zarak and Pits of Azak-Zil
    Hundreds of years ago, a great star fell from the heavens. It was in 514 that Jemrek Longsight, a dwarvish sage who as a child had been greatly impressed by the phenomenon undertook a study entirely opposite to Selvor’s: using records of the falling star’s flight she traced it not back to its origin but downward to the Oerth. Longsight’s calculations showed a landing along the easter wing of the Abbor Alz, between the Bright Desert and the Nesser River. On the basis of previous instances of shooting stars and their tangible results, Longsight predicted a great deposit of pure metals at the site: certainly iron, and possibly gold and mithral as well. The direction of Jemrek Longsight’s study has often been cited as evidence that dwarvish habits of mind persist even in those who choose the most undwarvish occupations.

    Longsight’s announcements resulted in a flurry of activity on the part of all the political interests in the region. All over the Iron League there was a ferment of alliance, misalliance, and reliance between the dwarvish clans and other groups preparing expeditions. The Herzog of South Province sent forth a large group of warriors and prospectors, reportedly with orders to return with news of the deposit or not at all. The Principality of Ulek took an interest, as did Almor, Nyrond, and the Duchy of Urnst, and trading houses from the Wild Coast and even Greyhawk and Dyvers. Even the rulers of the Pomarj, then new to their power, sent an ill-prepared company of orcs, goblins, and ogres. As these varied forces converged on the area delineated by Longsight, chilling tales of murder, treachery, and bloody massacre began to make their way back to the outside world. Soon the weaker forces turned back for lack of supplies or manpower. The Pomarjis were slaughtered by a temporary alliance of dwarvish interests. Nyrond and Urnst were unexpectedly impeded by the inhabitants of Celadon Forest, who did not desire such activity near their lands. The Herzog’s troops disappeared into the Bright Desert and were never seen again. All parties were harassed by the natives of the Abbor-Alz, who as always resented intrusion, and by the Sea Princes, who were attracted to the supply ships.

    After half a decade of struggle, the house of Highforge, one of the more prominent dwarvish clans in Irongate, emerged as discoverer and holder of the starstone’s wealth. A port was established on the waterless coasts where the Abbor Alz touches the Bright Desert, and a secret trail was established leading inland. Highforge and its allies maintained thorough secrecy, and for good reason: iron, platinum, gold, mithral, and adamantite began to pour out into the world at large through the carefully guarded harbor. Few have reported concerning the mine inland, but from peripheral comments it appears that the dwarves discovered a broad depression of fused and shocked rock marking the landing point of their prize and established themselves in a nearby mesa from which they coordinated a wellplanned mining operation. They dug deep artesian wells and established cisterns. The mine and settlement they called Azak-Zil, or Pureheart.

    For five years Highforge swelled with wealth; there were disruptions in metal markets as far away as Rauxes. Then, abruptly, the flow was cut off. The port city of Zarak remained, but communications with the mines ceased and probes into the interior found the roads to be erased and the dust storms to be intolerable. Members of a powerful expeditionary force disappeared suddenly and silently at night, even from guarded tents. Clan Highforge, after expending much of its considerable fortune in an attempt to refind and retake the mines, took heed of unfavorable auguries and abandoned the effort. Zarak was abandoned. Today, its empty halls and ruined dwellings are inhabited only by an occasional barbarian tribe which never stays for long, unwilling to tempt the many undead creatures that have crawled from the pits. As the departing dwarves, in typical fashion, took all their wealth with them, there is little to draw the average adventurer to this sorrowful place.

    Since the failure of Azak-Zil most southern dwarvish clans have declared the folly of meddling with “things from the sky.” Not a few suppose that the mine was visited by a curse, either by something imported from the heavens or by something wakened by the shooting star or the activities of the miners. Not a few suppose that the mine was visited by a curse, either by something imported from the heavens or by something wakened by the shooting star or the activities of the miners. Many have cited Nomad legends that an ancient nonhuman people dwelt in the mesas of the southern Abbor Alz and still guard them.

    After listening, they decide to return here later. The mages want to study, and everyone wants to get home. They press on and the next day the ship reaches Hardby.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:28 pm  
    The Voyage Home - Part 2

    The ship makes its approach to Hardby, and everyone marvels at the two massive statues that mark the port's entrance. One depicts a bearded heavyset man, while the other is slim, short bearded fellow. Both have their fist raised as if to box each other.

    ¬"Wow!" says Hepla," there must be a story to go with those statues. Captain, do you know the story?"

    "Aye," he says, looking up at them as you pass by. "They were commissioned decades ago by the Gynarch." He pauses. "Well, not the current one, at any rate."

    He yells at a couple of sailors struggling with the rigging, promising dire retribution if they ever mishandle a line like that again, then turns back. "Something about the meaningless squabbles of men or some such," he says. "What do you expect when women rule the roost?" He laughs then, offering a slight bow and a smile, "No offense My Lady."

    Hepla bows back,"None taken captain, men or women we can all have problems."

    "Stop looking up their loincloths, Gotrek!" jokes Emyn, as Gotrek stares at the statues.

    Noot moves over to show the novice sailor how to handle the line correctly, impressed, but busy. The captain watches, then tells Noot, "Anytime you get tired a being a landlubber, you got a job on my ship."

    The ship pulls gently into harbor, and the crew work to bring you up to the docks. After making the ship fast, the dwarves disembark, anxious to have ground beneath their feet again. The captain bids you farewell. His ship will be returning back to the south in a few days, after transferring some cargo.

    Gotrek ignores Emyn, looking around at the town. He doesn't notice anything, except the normal hustle and bustle of a port, though this is without doubt quite a busy port, almost as busy as Scant. There are quite a few ships, both river and coastal galleys as well as round merchant ships like the one upon which you just arrived. It doesn't look like it will be too difficult to find another ship here. Of course, you can always travel overland as well.

    The party is met by William Carister, commander of the Hardy Marines. He is a huge barrel-chested man covered with many tattoos. A fierce-looking parrot sits on his shoulder. He heard of the dwarven band, so he has come to talk with them. He and Urgal sit down for a drink, to discuss their purpose and plans in Hardby. [In the mean time, you guys can do a couple things. I know you want to check out the mine, so I'll look into that. Also, looking at the papers before you arrived, you find there is some interesting information regarding Slaver spies/agents in Hardby. There are two agents listed in your papers. One is a man named Gormadoc, while the other is a woman named Aleeta.]

    When you tell William the first name, he looks up quickly. "Gormadoc?" he says. "The tattoo apprentice? I know him well," he adds. Holding out his arm, he shows an elephant tattoo, "He did this one just a few months ago." He asks to see your "proof" and he will take the issue up with the magistrate.

    When you tell him the second name, he spits out his beer. "Aleeta Nardru?" he stumbles. "Judge Aleeta?" He wipes the spilled ale from his mouth, "She's fourth in line to rule Hardby!" He stands up, "I must see this evidence now," he says. "There is no time to waste, and if these be true agents of the Slavers, we must act before they know you have arrived."

    Thorgrim immediately sets to casting divinations on the man, and he frowns as he concentrates upon him. Seeing Thorgrim's symbols, he knows who and what he is. "I can assure, Sir, I am loyal to the Gynarch, and to Hardby." When Thorgrim detects no evil in him, he responds, "Satisfied?"

    "Yep," says Thorgrim, unconcerned about the man's feelings.

    "I am, sir," says Emyn. "Forgive my suspicion but we have of late faced many unexpected enemies of late and met others who were equally unexpected allies. I pledge by Trithereon that We will see this matter through at your side."

    William gets the town watch (he's commander of the Marines, who man the ships and primary coastal defenses). The watch will arrest the tattoo apprentice. He asks that everyone go with him to see the Gynarch, to bring the evidence regarding the judge directly to her. The rest of the party goes along, except for Gotrek. He stays in the bar with Urgal and the other dwarves.

    They meet the Gynarch. She listens to their story, is very greatful for their efforts against the Slavers, and promises to supply them with a ship to take them wherever they want to go. It's the least she can do for the work on behalf of all the people around Woolly Bay.

    The party then waits to the side while the judge is summoned. She enters, and the Gynarch's advisor, Mother Storanna, a priestess of Pelor, questions the judge, Aleeta, without telling her that she has cast Detect Lie. When she detects the lie, the woman panics and tries to run. Emyn grabs the woman and holds her in a bear hug until the Gynarch's soldiers can take hold of her.

    They take her away, and the Gynarch thanks everyone for their service, especially Emyn. It seems the City of Harby, is even more in your debt. When Hepla offers copies of the info, the Gynarch shakes her head. "Her guilt is obvious," she says. "I shall deal with her in time."

    Hepla nods and the party is about to leave when Thorgrim coughs, "Um, Your Ladyship?" He then produces the deed to the mine, signed by the Gynarch herself.

    "Ah yes, I do recall this," she says, looking it over. "The land had been held by the late Lord Perry's family; however, the family suffered a series of tragedies, and he was left without issue. The minor fiefs were divided between a few of my loyal retainers, but the mining claim was judged a separate item and sold at auction." She watches as the Aleeta is drawn away by the guards, "Of course you can guess which judge heard the matter."

    Looking back over the group, she hands the claim back to Thorgrim. "I see no reason to interfere with your rightful claim. You will be shown to the land, and can see to your claim. I am certain you know more than me about mines, Master Dwarf, so the rest, I leave to you." As the party then leaves, she adds, "Just don't forget your taxes."

    Looking down at the claim, Thogrim sees, in very fine print, that the Gynarch is entitled to 1/2 of all profits from any mining operations. "Great," he mumbles.....

    The claim lies in the hills east of Harby. It comprises the area around the headwaters of Jedel Run, a small river that runs through the village of Maynem Manor. The Gynarch provides you with a guide to show you the area. Neither Thorgrim nor Gotrek know much about mining, but there are a couple of Deldukr who do. Urgal sends them with you, while he remains to discuss potential work opportunities. You take a look at the area, which is perhaps 25 square miles. It'll take the dwarves about 3 weeks to fully survey the area, including searching for and exploring any existing mines, tunnels, shafts, or natural caverns.
    Sunday, 9th of Coldeven (581)
    It is another nice clear day, though the air's a bit crisper up here. Before leaving, you find you have a visitor, one of the Gynarch's servants. He delivers you a small ivory box. Inside the box are three potions (Invisibility, Clairvoyance, and Clairaudience). Apparently these were found amongst Aleeta's things, and the Gynarch decided it was appropriate to give them to you as a reward for your services. The party is also given a map, with the location of the mining claim circled on it.

    The party asks about the Star Cairns which they heard about, and decide to make a side trip in that direction. It is a two day trip to Storm Keep, the last of Hardby's official holdings. It is maybe another day to Freyl Keep, a small keep and village founded by adventurers years ago. They settled in the village while exploring the Star Cairns, then retired there afterwards, building a small keep. The current Lord is nominally independent of Hardby, and may have information about the Star Cairns. The nearest is maybe a day's travel from there. So, at best you're looking at 4 days to the nearest one.

    Gotrek asks Urgal if he and the Deldukr would like to go with them, but he declines. He explains that since there's really nothing happening around here, they are considering heading up to the Shield Lands, as they've heard rumors of warfare up there. Another option is to head to Nyrond, where they have also heard fresh rumors of war. Most aren't too interested in settling down and mining, or sitting around guarding empty lands. They are warriors, mercenaries, soldiers. They like to fight hard, and drink harder.

    They also find that Taki is not going to continue. He has personal matters to attend to, and will be finding his own way. "I'll meet you back in Hommlet," he says. Before anyone can stop him, the big man leaves and disappears down the street.

    Moonday, 10th of Coldeven (581)
    The party takes two days to get to Storm Keep. They are pretty uneventful, so you make it there midday on Moonday. Weather is staying nice, with clear skies and only a slight breeze. As you approach the keep, you see two riders on griffons approaching. Thinking them to be Berenn and Isilme, you are surprised to see two unknown warriors. They circle overhead, then one flies back to the keep while the other stays aloft, keeping an eye on you.

    The party continues, keeping their weapons sheathed, until they reach Storm Keep. The guards are alerted to your presence, and you see maybe a dozen manning the walls and towers of this small keep. There is a small village at the foot of the hill upon which it stands, and the people seem pretty much your normal peasant farmers, though maybe a bit hardier than most. The road actually goes through the village, continuing on, while a side track leads up to the keep. A patrol of a half-dozen mounted men-at-arms rides out of the keep and comes down the hill to greet you and learn the purpose of your travels.

    "We're here to look into the mystery of the star cairns," says Emyn. "Might you be able to tell us something of them?"

    "Should have known," says one of the men. "No other reason fer folks come this way."

    They relax, though you see that they are constantly ready for danger. There's a tavern in the village, with a common sleeping room, which the guards point out. "Buy us a round," he says, "and we'll tell ya what we know."

    You go to the tavern, and find that a round here costs about 1gp total, as the drink's rather poor. Hepla thinks even Gutshaker is better!

    The four cairns shown on the campaign map are 400 to 500 years old. Each is the burial site of a Suloise wizard. Although they are termed cairns, each burial site is a complex dungeon in itself. The four sites shown have all been plundered, though nobody's come this way in a few years time. Like many such places, it's possible some foul creatures have returned to them. There are four total cairns, as everyone knows, though the fifth has never been found.

    Emyn also asks if theya re somehow connected to this ghost tower of inveness he saw on the maps. "Emyn, your reading is getting much better," Hepla exclaims.

    "I am really trying hard," he replies. "I don't want to be seen as a big dumb lout, especially when I meet your family."

    "You are certainly not a dumb lout," she says, looking up at him sincerely. "You just have not had a chance to learn."

    The soldiers chuckle, thinking the Ghost Tower nothing but fancy, tales told by sailors and fools. Noot bristles a bit, but the old man interrupts. "The Tower of Galap-Dreidel is real indeed. It guards the Soul Gem, the source of the long dead mage's power. It is said that Galap-Dreidel lifted the tower from the very rock upon which it stands, and that time does not pass there. Many have sought the Tower, but none have ever succeeded."

    There is one old man, listening to the talk, and he can relate a bit more. Nobody has gone searching for the cairns, at least from this direction, in some time. He does say that there were some groups, about 10-20 years ago who returned, without ever finding the 5th cairn. Actually, they made their fortunes in the two nearest ones and considered themselves lucky. He knows that the cairns are all five-sided, painted in strange symbols, and accessible through a star-shaped hole in a flat stone. He remembers a couple of groups that went in search of the fabled 5th cairn, somewhere to the north of the other four. One group returned, finding nothing. The other disappeared.

    Godsday, 11th Coldeven (581)
    You awake the next day to a dark, cloudy day. Light rain falls and you pull your cloaks tight as you walk down the road. The men of Storm Keep give you some provisions, and the villagers bid you good fortune. As you leave in the morning, you see Taki standing outside, the biggest crossbow you've ever seen cradled in his arms.

    "Hi guys did you all miss me?" Taki has a sheepish smile on his face. He explains that he went in search of one of those Orz Crossbows, which he bought. Then he decided to catch up. After exchanging some quips, the party heads off on the path to Freyl Keep. It actually starts to rain heavier and heavier, and you are forced to finally take shelter around noon. Thorgrim finds a good level spot and erects his tower

    Emyn joins Taki for the walk and says, "Taki, I'd like to apologize to you for my behaviour back in the fight with Klim. Companions should not have wedges driven between them. Know that my sword will be there to defend you if the need arises. If you don't mind, I would also like to ask a question. You seem a little different since returning. Did something happen?"

    "No problem," replies Taki. "I felt the call to get out by myself but it turned out to be nothing. I think my leaving had something to do with the card I drew from the old witch, but I don't feel any different from my soul searching. I am ready to be back with my party and seeking out new adventure. This is where I belong, pulling you all's rear ends out of the ringer when you all bite off more than you can chew." With that said Taki smiles real big and walks off.

    "Perhaps if you prayed to whichever god or goddess you revere, that might help you set your path," says Emyn. "Tjey don't always answer and sometimes they answer in ways we don't understand but I have found it helpful. When I was called to Trithereon, I was also confused, but faith and patience and determination eventually led me down the right path."

    Looking back over his shoulder as he walks away, Taki replies, "I have little use for gods; it was the gods that allowed my family to be killed and gods that allowed all the wrongs we have brought right too. I believe in this," and he holds his maul high and then walks away once more.

    Emyn stands there deep in thought and sighs, hoping his friend will find his true path out of his empty existence.

    Noot doesn't mind this wandering in the country, as long as there are no Kobalds in sight. "Sorry," he says. "I've gotten a bit paranoid about the little buggers."

    The party shares a half-hearted laugh, which doesn't amuse Emyn and Elrae, and then everyone goes to sleep, dreaming of kobolds.

    Waterday, 12th of Coldeven (581)
    You get up early, to a brilliantly clear day. The air is cool and crisp, and everything has that wet earth smell. Your spirits are lifted by the sight of a couple of the griffon riders from Storm Keep as they fly overhead and wave.

    You arrive at Freyl Keep late in the day. It is not much more than a large tower on a hill with a small village below it along a swift-flowing creek. The few people here seem mostly farmers. There is large tavern here, though it seems abandoned, or nearly so. The villagers seem quite surprised to see you.

    "Hi, where can travelers find rooms and food for the night?" asks Hepla, eyeing the tower to see if anyone is in there.

    There's nobody there. A villager repairing the roof of a house calls over to you, his teeth clenching a couple rusty nails. "N'ones 'ere fer yers, now," he says as he takes a nail out and hammers it to secure a crossbeam. "Place's cosed up few yers now." He takes out the other nail, and finishes, finishing what he was doing.

    He then calls down clearly. "Say, you mind handing up them tiles?" Looking around, you see a stack of roofing tiles piled below him, next to his ladder.

    Hepla says,"I know a little magic, this is one of my favorit tricks."She casts Levitate and up to 900 lbs of tiles float up to him. "Anything else I can help you with? And where can we get rooms and food for the night?"

    The man almost falls off the roof, but he recovers and begins to take the tiles from you, or from the air. Other villagers come over to watch, some children pointing and laughing as well.

    You help the man finish his roof tiles, and then he comes down, very pleased with your magical help. Heck, Taki can reach up and place the last ones in by hand! The other villagers come up, and Elrae gives them a quick couple cantrips, just to impress the children. Hepla giggles quietly. You soon find that the villagers know "of" the Star Cairns, but don't really know them. They are about a day's walk away, so they wouldn't ever have reason to go that far, nor would it be wise to travel the Abbor-Alz, even these foothills, along.

    "There's lots a nasties out there," says Balen, the farmer you were helping. "Barbarian hill-people, raiders from the Bright Desert, norkers, ogres, even manticores."

    "You should go talk to Shav," says another, a young kid. "He's the wizard in the tower."

    "No he's not!" yells another kid."

    "Is so," the first yells back.

    Soon the two are pulled apart by their parents, who shake their heads. "True, his father was among a group of adventurers that settled here, after examining the cairns. They're all gone now, and only their tower and this village remain. Lord Shav pretty much stays to his tower now, but he used to tell stories about the cairns, stories his father had told him. It's from him that you may find more information."

    You thank him, and the villagers, and head up to the tower.

    An old man-at-arms greets you, and lets you in, once you have explained yourselves and your mission. Lord Shav is, indeed, an old man. You learn that he is the son of the adventuring wizard who searched the cairns almost 50 years ago. His father was a wizard from Urnst, and his band created this keep. The band broke up shortly after, with a couple leaving, and his father marrying a priestess of Celestian. With his parents now dead as well, he has remained, to look after the village they built. He is wealthy enough, enough to maintain a half-dozen men-at-arms and protect the area. "And some of my parents magic still works," he says, "so I keep the village safe."

    After a long discussion (which I won't post!) the party decides to NOT venture on to the Star Cairns. Rather, they make a note of them, hoping to return, and then head back towards Hardby. When they reach the mining area, they find that the dwarves are done. The area is apparently rich in tin, for which they can likely make a killing. After setting up Lady Huerta as their representative there, along with a few dwarves who decide to stay and help out, the party returns to Hardby.

    Thorgrim will look up Lady Huerta and inform her of the party's decision to offer her a 1/9th share of the mine in exchange for her administrating the operation to everyone's mutual benefit.

    Before leaving Lady Huerta, Thorgrim gives her a contract, entitling her to one-tenth of the mine's profit. Thorgrim will instruct her to hire a Master Miner and an Accountant to oversee the details of the daily operation of the mine. These two will report directly to her, and have no authority over each other. She will report directly to us. The Master Miner will determine the cost and scope of the operation, and hire miners to work the claim. He will work out all details of transporting the ore, smelting it, protecting it, everything. The Accountant will work in close conjunction with the Master Miner, keeping tabs on all expenses and revenues from the project, which will be relayed to Lady Huerta. She will be responsible for giving the Gynarch her share, splitting up the profits of the shareholders, and keeping everyone honest. She may wish to employ spies/moles to help her with this task. She is very grateful and is touched almost beyond words.
    Sunday 16th Coldeven (581)
    After securing a ship, it takes one day to sail to the mouth of the Selintan River, and just upriver you approach the small fishing village of Sevant's Cove. You put in to the docks, and Noot helps tie off the ship. There are a couple of inns and taverns spread out along the docks, catering to the many boats that stop here before heading up the river or out to sea. Talking to locals, you find out that the village was named after a Furyondian wizard, Sevant, who settled here about a hundred years ago. He pledged to protect the town from pirates, and built a tower upon a tall bluff, overlooking the river and the village. You can see its crumbling remains today. As nobody is interesting in checking it out, they continue on.
    Godsday, 18th Coldeven (581)
    The going is slow out of Savant's Cove, as there's a heavy rainstorm; however, the next day is clear with a fairly descent wind as well. You make good time and arrive at the dock of the Free City of Greyhawk in the late afternoon.

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:27 pm  

    You really post some good stuff, Ragnar.

    I think I recognize that map! Razz

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    Master Greytalker

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    Posts: 655

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    Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:17 am  

    Thanks. I work hard to try and bring my world to life. I know we could play by just taking the 1st ed DMG and going through random dungeons rolled up in the back, and my players would probably be happy. Not me. I want a real world, with as much depth as possible. That's why I don't like my players have too much magic. It just leads them to become munchkins, whether or not they want to do so. Further, I NEVER give them teleportation magic. Well, they have the mirror, but I've been careful to reign it in.

    Anyway, I want them walking around, taking ships, etc. That's how the world comes to life. If they didn't have to travel around, all kinds of cool little things would never happen. Many places would never be explored. Now they are starting to get a real feel for where their characters live, and that's what I try to do.

    Interestingly, I believe the online format really makes this easier. I have been surprised by this, for it moves EXTREMELY slowly at times. However, the written word is certainly more powerful than the spoken, and it allows me and the players to interact on a more fundamental level. It's like the difference between just telling somebody something and writing them a personal letter. The letter ends up having much more impact. Plus, I get to add pictures and maps quite easily. Finally, everything stays there online, for everyone to see and reference. It really adds a dimension that we never had in a FtF game. In some ways, I'm starting to actually prefer my game online!
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    Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:41 pm  
    The Voyage Home - part 3 (The Free City of Greyhawk)

    Godsday, 18th Coldeven (581)
    The going is slow out of Savant's Cove, as there's a heavy rainstorm; however, the next day is clear with a fairly descent wind as well. You make good time and arrive at the dock of the Free City of Greyhawk in the late afternoon.

    As you approach the city, you pass some dock shanties on the right. The place smells pretty bad, and the captain points out a small hill beyond the bank. "That's garbage hill," he say, wrinkling his nose a bit. "Sometimes the garbage haulers just don't reach the river by nightfall, or sometimes people is lazy, and stuff is dumped up the hill." You see some people picking around in the area, and the captain laughs. "Living off Greyhawk's ****," he says. "Guess it beats starvn'.

    Further up, you start to see a long series of docks. You quickly notice that there is a lot of traffic here, with much work continuing even though it's Godsday. "People may not wanna work," says the captain, "but they stills eats." The wharves lie outside the city walls, and there is a large gate through which wagons roll into and out of the city.

    The wharves are primarily rickety wooden docks extending into the muddy waters of the Selintan. The river sweeps a gentle turn here, which has cut a deeper channel right into the eastern bank. Ships of all sizes are able to put right into the docks, though the larger vessels must still use the longer docks. Countless smaller docks handle the smaller drafted galleys, river-craft, and barges which ply the river the from Nyr Dyv to Woolly Bay.

    The wharf is a relatively narrow strip, bounded by the river and the city wall which rests on a bluff above the river. The face of the bluff is precipitous, though any thief worth his salt could climb it thinks Noot. The wharf offers a few seedy taverns and roach-infested eateries, but little else. Space is simply too congested and land too valuable to allow for such amenities. Nearly the entire area is given up to storage buildings.

    The walls of the Free City are uniform, 30' high along their entire length and 18' wide at the base. The platform at the top is 10' wide with parapets running along both the outside and inside, and you see guards at regular intervals lazily walking the walls.

    "Shall we debark, then?" says Thorgrim. "I wish to visit a temple of Clanggedin, and report the party's doings, and tithe. Also, there may be some sights to see."

    Hepla is eager to see the sights of the city. She asks at the gate where the best magic shop in town is. Emyn will accompany her and he also wants to instriduce her to the temple of Trothereon nad its teachings if there is a possibility. Noot's looking for an inn, tavern, orgambling hall. "Time for a break, anyone want to join me?"

    "I imagine Taki and Elrae are always up for a beer, Noot," says Emyn, walking off with Hepla.

    Noot decides to look for a tavern or gambling house inside the walls, so the entire party makes their way to the Cargo Gate. The gate itself is about 24' wide, and 16' high, backed by massive portcullises with 2" thick iron bars. The gates are flanked by two large towers. A squad of guardsmen with swords and pikes stand in the entrance, checking those coming and going. They stop the party to find their business in the city. After hearing what you have to say, the leader takes down your names and jots a few notes.

    Seeing you are obviously adventurers, he requests you declare your items before entering and warns you about sneaking forbidden items into the city. No poison is allowed in the city, nor objects of worship related to any evil cults, demons, etc. "We've 'nuff troubles without them," he says. In addition, he requires you each pay a Freesword Tax of 3gp for entry. He also tells you that it is legal to wear armor in the city, once you've paid your Freesword Tax. However, weapons are another matter. The following weapons may be freely carried: dagger, dart, sling, staff, cudgel, and knife. Anything else must be checked or you may pay for a permit. Guards will escort you to the office of the Captain General of the Watch if you wish to gain permits to carry your weapons. Further, they tell you, and particularly Hepla, that use of magic is frowned upon. "There must be GOOD reasons for its use, and should there ever be any damage done you WILL be held responsible." Basically, magic is prohibited except if your life is threatened. Mind-affecting magic is forbidden and anything destructive WILL result in arrest and severe punishment.

    "We let lots a folks in here," says the guard captain. "See lots of adventurers, especially those seeking wealth and fame at Castle Greyhawk. So, we take extra care to keep things peaceful." He looks around at everyone, seeing the frowns from Taki and the dwarves. "You follow the rules, you gots no problems here and are welcome in Greyhawk."

    There are some quite famous places to visit in Greyhawk. Everyone has heard of the Green Dragon Inn, the most renown haunt for adventurers in the Flanaess. The Greyhawk Guild of Wizardry is second to none. The Golden Phoenix is considered the best inn in the land, and the Wheel of Gold is the most famous of all gambling houses. Further, just from what you've heard, pretty much everything is available in Greyhawk, so the city has much to offer.

    Taki will pay but he is not happy at all about not having his armor.

    "Oh, you can keep it," says Hepla, as she pays for the whip and blowgun. As they leave she says to anyone listening,"Wow, he figured out right away that I am a mage, he's good."

    "Well if it's civilization we were seeking, it's civilization we have found," says Thorgrim. "Let us repair to one of these inns. The Green Dragon? It sounds more interesting than The Golden Phoenix, unless there are those who want to wallow in luxury. I've had enough of being looked down upon by those with a very little wealth and power, who have less of either than any of us."

    "Once there, we can be about our business of exploring this City, and handling whatever business we wish to attend to, regrouping there at even-time."

    The party shall pay for one night at a time, as we won't be staying here in Greyhawk for too long. Elrae want's to checkout a big Greyhawk show. He has been dreaming of performing on a stage in this world renowned city. The pary is taken into an office on the ground floor of one of the gate towers. There you aren't searched, but clearly the guards give you a good look-over. In fact, a clerk takes down your names, makes very detailed accounts of your descriptions and weapons, and you are all asked to sign. Emyn proudly writes his name, smiling at Hepla. The clerk then asks if you have any further weapons in extra-dimensional spaces, looking up at you with a searching gaze. Thorgrim sighs, and you have to pay for them too!

    Charges for entry into Greyhawk are as follows:
    Elrae: 13gp
    Gotrek: 43gp
    Hepla: 5gp
    Taki: 38gp
    Noot: 8gp
    Emyn: 38gp
    Thorgrim: 48gp

    The permits to carry your weapons are small wooden tiles with a number engraved up them. These correspond to numbers kept in the ledger, a copy of which will be sent to the Office of the Constable. So, take off the requisite amounts from your sheets, and then you can enter the city proper. Once through the gate, you find yourselves in the River Quarter.

    "Good work Emyn," says Hepla proudly. "After we check in ,Thorgrim, you, and I are off to the Wizard's guild. Remember do not read any words you see there out loud."
    She looks at the guards and smiles,"May I leave boys or did you want another look?" She giggles, then gives them a little wiggle on the way out, knowing they are just doing their jobs. "Might as well let them enjoy a little."

    Emyn just frowns.

    The Greyhawk River Quarter is the most riotous district, centered along a great curving avenue called The Strip. With its taverns, brothels, gambling dens, and worse, The Strip is a cacophony of noise and chaos day and night. At all hours it teems with drunks, toughs, rivermen, and cityfolk. City watchmen are a constant feature, as the place if full of those who may fight at the slightest impulse. Naturally, adventurers love it here. Lodgings are cheap and plentiful, as is wine, women, and offers for work. Numerous merchants and shopkeepers are eager to sell their wares and help travelers unload theirs.

    You get directions to the Green Dragon Inn, which is located on Blue Boar Street, a bit off the strip. It's a favorite haunt for adventurers, as it's a bit quieter, but has excellent rooms. While the fare is rather mundane, it comes in copious quantities.

    Green Dragon Inn
    This is a favorite haunt of adventurers and of those seeking adventurers for various tasks. It offers relatively mundane fare, but in copious quantities. Its location on Blue Boar Street, just off of the Strip, insures that it stays a little quieter than most of the establishments in the quarter. Occasionally a bunch of students may be found here, or a Watch party hunting some criminal.
    The Green Dragon is a rough, tough place; any weapons and armor can be ( and often are ) worn in here. There are six members of the bar staff, of whom three are on duty at any one time. One of the six is Imogen Gellett (NPC) who does night shifts. The proprietor of the establishment is Ricard Damaris (NPC). He is 36 years old, 6'3", 236 lbs., with thick black hair worn to shoulder length and brown eyes. He has a small triangular scar on the left side of his chin, and the fourth finger is missing from his left hand.

    Fistfights, and even broken-glass and dagger fights, do not bother Ricard unduly, although he may wade in with his club to subdue people if matters are getting out of hand--his regulars know when to stop. Ricard also has a wife, Florence, who is not seen in the inn--she does the bookwork and prepares the plain bill of fare served as food here. He also has a nine-year-old daughter, Clarissa, of whom he is deeply proud, and his spoiling of her has made her a quite intolerable little brat who has temper tantrums and kicks and screams a lot.

    Hepla asks Richard for directions to the Wizards guild. He gives them to her, and her, Thorgrim, and Emyn head over to the guild house.

    "We secure lodgings for the night at The Green Dragon before heading there," says Thorgrim. Then they head to the Wizard's guild. Elrae tags along, thinking maybe he can get his Cittern repaired.

    Taki goes with Noot to find a gambling hall.

    To the Guild of Wizardry

    [img] [/img]

    Old image of the city. Here you see the citadel at the top, the pyramid building of the Wizard's Guild below that, further south is the wall separating the nicer part of the city, official area, and the gardens from the rest. South of the wall you see the arena for games. There's lots more, as you can see from the other map.

    The Greyhawk Guild of Wizardry, based in the City of Greyhawk, is the largest and most extensive guild of magi in the Flanaess. It also claims to be the least political, secretive, or closed off of any mage guild. Almost any proven practitioner of arcane magic is eligible to join the Guild of Wizardry, be they wizard, bard, sorcerer, illusionist, or even some more exotic arcane spellcaster.

    While the Guild of Wizardry is interested in it's own aggrandizement, as are most others, it has no political agenda, and neither does it require the exclusive allegiance of any of it's membership. Because of this, many magi across the Flanaess claim an affiliation with this guild. In many places, membership in the guild is a source of prestige, due to the guild's international fame.

    The guild can claim nearly a thousand members in it's official rolls. But in truth, only about half of that number are in the city of Greyhawk at any given time, and many of these are amateurish dabblers, or are virtually inactive.

    When you reach the Guild of Wizardry, you are met by a trio of dwarven "porters." They stand outside the closed adamantite gates, and are very gruff. Nobody is permitted entry to the guildhall, they say, except for members of the guild or students of the university. Guests are allowed only at the invitation of a guildmember, and such permission must be arranged a day in advance. The only exception to this are those who are willing to buy, sell, or exchange magical items or rare spell components.

    Hepla looks up at the head dwarf and says, "I do have a scroll I might be interrested in trading, but first, how does one become a member of the guild. I did not have any trouble becoming a member of the Silver Consortium as those mages inside who are watching us even now must know?" The last is a guess but one she feels is reasonable.

    It's 100gp. Membership is quite easy and affordable. Most of the greatest mages in the world, men such at Mordenkainen, Rary, and the rest of the Circle of Eight, are all members. This provides a prestige that virtually no other guild membership grants, despite the fact that more than half the members are members in name only. However, you do gain access to the guild, a place to buy, sell, and trade magic, and opportunities for spell research. As a side note, you also learn that it is illegal to do ANY of those activities within the city boundaries EXCEPT through the guild. Further, all of these services, however, cost, and the amount varies depending upon one's service to the guild. Those who just pay their fee pay more than those who, say, donate the bone dust of a demi-lich, as an example. Further, if you undertake jobs for the guild, you will also be looked upon with favor. Basically, the more you give, the more you get.

    Thorgrim learns the place has nothing to offer a priest. He asks about other dwarves in the city, and they tell him that alhough dwarves are common in the city, there is no established church. Most dwarves practice more privately than others, and none have ever seen fit to create more than a personal shrine, if that.

    Emyn asks about a Temple of Trithereon, learning that it's in the River Quarter, towards the SW side. It is very recognizable, a stout stone building with a low tower which holds a massive golden bell that is rung to call to worship. The summons comes hourly on Godsday, and is quite annoying to those who do not favor the Summoner.

    So, Elrae and Hepla can pay their 100gp each. The dwarves knock on the adamantine doors, and a peephole opens up at the top left corner. They say they've got new members and a gruff dwarf answers, shuts the peephole, and pushes the doors open. As they open, you see another stout dwarf inside, and you notice the peephole is at dwarf eye level. It must have been some strange magic that made the peephole open up where it did.

    You are allowed inside and find yourselves in a large gatehouse, much larger inside than the square tower appeared outside. You are take to a side room, the Office of the Head Porter, Darnak Khorshkan. He is a very old dwarf, who sits behind a large desk. A bookshelf behind him holds dozens of tomes, and a large safe sits next to it. He looks up at you, nodding approvingly at Thorgrim.

    Thorgrim nods back and turns to Hepla. "My friend Thorgrim is interested in potions," she says. "I have some odd components of unknown use, but first I wish to see anything you have on witches, please."

    Thorgrim steps forward. "I am the one called Thorgrim. I am no wizard, but a priest of Clanggedin. But I have much respect for the sorcerous arts, and call both wizards and sorcerors my companions, and my friends." He gestures expansively. "This building is a marvel. Truly unparalleled in all of Greyhawk. Would that I could meet the makers of such a place!" He pauses. "I am interested in any potions you may have available, and what be the price."

    [DM OOC: Hepla wants to do research, so she will have to go to the Guild Library. You will be directed to the Librarian, Jawal Severnain. A porter will take you there. Elrae wants to inquire about fixing his magic cittern, and for that you will have to see the Mage of Exchange, Kondradis Bubka. Thorgrim and Emyn may be given entrance as guests of Elrae and Hepla, but they must have approval a day in advance. The ONLY exception to this is if they wish to buy/sell/trade with the Mage of Exchange. So, they may go with Elrae to see him. ]

    Thorgrim will see the Mage of Exchange. He doesn't have much to trade or sell in the way of magic, nor much coin with which to purchase magic. He says to Elrae, "Well, laddie, if there is one place on Oerth where your Cittern might be repaired, this is it. I had never considered the thought of repair, until we found ourselves here."

    Hepla heads to the library, eager to do her reserch, she figures she can go to the exchange later. The others go to the Mage of Exchange.

    You are led out the rear of the gatehouse, and find yourselves going up the stairs towards the top. You enter just below the top, and find yourselves in a small office. Inside is an elderly wizard, in a plain undecorated gray robe. He has gray hair, balding at the crown and cut short. This is Kondradis Bubka, the Mage of Exchange. He leans back in his large chair, a somewhat bemused expression on his face as you are introduced. When Elrae is introduced as a bard, he has a bit of a condescending look about him. He barely even looks at Emyn.

    Emyn makes his request. He will offer trade for magical full plate (or the magicking of his current full plate). [Emyn OOC: He is willing to part with the plate mail +1, Footman's pick +1 and the Broadsword +2 in exchange.] If this is not possible, then a ring of tongues so that he may speak wtih his magically summoned creatures.

    [DM OOC: OK, if we're going to do this, please role-play your characters like they don't have the magic items in the DM's Guide memorized or know they are "+1 this" or "+2 that!"

    He looks at your armor, considering the request. You will have to leave all your items which you propose to trade, that he may examine them. It will take a few days, for he will make a very thorough examination. Then he will let you know what can be done. As for a magic ring, he laughs. "You think such things are common as copper?" he asks. He then shakes his head muttering something about warriors.

    "True, I am a warrior, good mage," replies Emyn. "But I am an Avenger of Trithereon; it is not as though I am a barbarian. I will gladly leave you the three items for verification. As for the ring, if one is indeed available, I would even make use of something that would allow me to speak with an animal, if something more powerful were not available." He takes the items out and provides them, as promised. He makes sure to get a receipt (he reads it) and then joins Hepla. Of course, he can't find her, so he makes his way to the Temple of Trithereon, where he attends to his devotions.

    After Emyn leaves, the Mage of Exhange mutters something about paladins.....

    "Sir don't let my good looks fool you," says Elrae. "I thirst for the arcane knowledge and am proficient in a few spells. I am also very interested in the history of such items that are magical of nature. However, at the moment I am most interested in possibly repairing this." He takes out the Cittern of Calen Sirithe. "It is most precious to me."

    He actually recognizes it. "I had the pleasure to hear Calen Sirithe, years ago," he says as he takes the cittern from you. "His music was unsurpassed. I shall do all I can to see this repaired."

    "Thank you so much for looking into my cittern," replies Elrae. "I would do anything to get it playable again."

    Thorgrim then asks about purchasing potions, particularly healing potions. He is thinking about Lyseios the Alchemist, and he is thinking about preparedness. Thorgrim learns that he can buy the following potions:

    Heroism: 600gp
    Super-Heroism: 1000gp
    Flying: 1000gp
    Healing: 500gp
    Ex-Healing: 1000gp
    Hill Giant Control: 1200gp

    Some good deals, here. Unfortunately, Thorgrim doesn't have the cash for a major purchase. He will take a potion of Hill Giant Control and a potion of Super-Heroism. He will have to wait and rely on Lyseios for the other types.

    On the way back from the Guild of Wizardry, Thorgrim and Elrae (Emyn left on his own earlier), pass back through the High Market. The stalls are being picked up now, as the merchants are packing up to go home. You see that there is pretty much everything available here that you can think of, so you may want to return. You continue down the main street called the Processional. It is hard-packed sand that may as well be stone, with a slightly rounded contour for runoff. It is 120' wide, and the largest street you've ever seen. Off to the west are gardens and large estates, while to the east is Temple Row, with many large churches and temples. The two largest buildings to either side of the Processional, between the High Market and the Garden Gate, are the Royal Opera House (the western building) and the Grand Theater (eastern building). Elrae will check when the next available performances are for the Grand Theater and the Royal Opera House.

    The Grand Theater and the adjoining Playhouse Theater are both styled in baroque splendor, and provide classical plays as well as bardic performances, poetry readings, etc. There is a play running which you can go see. It's basically sold out; however, you can procure a box (good for 6 people) for 150gp.

    The Royal Opera House is equally magnificent; however, you can see that it is in a state of neglect. There is a running performance by the Diva of the Opera, Aestrella Shanfarel. There are also crude posters on the walls, and you now realize that you've seen copies elsewhere in the city, for afternoon shows, at 2sp each.

    "I have to go!" he says, excited.

    "Let's do the opera," says Emyn. "That theatre is really expensive."

    Then everyone retires back to the inn.

    Guild Library
    Hepla is taken by a porter to the library. He explains to her that when the guild was founded in 393 by Zagig Yragerne, he brought with him a small clan of dwarves, the Khorshkan. They had served him for years, as he recognized the usefulness of such magic-resistant guards in the protection of the guild. So, the Khorshkan clan settled in the Free City, and became the permanent custodians of the Guild of Wizardry. They have served as porters for nearly 400 years, with the Darnak being the eldest in the clan at nearly 250 years old.

    Anyway, you are led to a central chamber, and there the Porter simply says the word library. You feel a strange tickling feeling, then when you leave the chamber you find yourselves in a massive library. It is a vast, windowless hall, filled with rank upon rank of shelves that stretch from floor to ceiling and groan beneath the weight of many centuries of accumulated magical knowledge and theory. Some kind of strange faerie fire illuminates the place lightly, giving the whole a rather gloomy aspect. There is a large desk before you, behind which is seated an elf.

    You are initially shocked, not so much by the sharp aquiline features, but by the inky black skin, silver hair, and piercing violet eyes. It is a dark elf! He looks up at you, as he takes a bite from a small plate of food which smells like some kind of strange mushrooms. He says something in dwarven that you don't quite catch, but the sarcastic tone is pretty obvious that he isn't too impressed, nor perhaps happy to be bothered.

    Hepla says hello in Drow then says ,"I wish first to see your section on Witchcraft please. It is good to see another drow in the service of good."

    He is clearly a bit more intrigued by your halting use of dark elven, though he chuckles at the last part. "Good, bad, I'm the drow with the gun, I mean library."

    Unfortunately, the library's not really organized like that, so you will have a LONG search, unless he knows some particular tomes which may help.

    Hepla says in common, "I see you grimace, my Drow is very limited and my friend has not had a chance to teach me more as we study spells much more then languages." She switchs to poor dwarf, "I can speak this a little, then switches to perfect sylvan elf, "but I prefer this if I am not speaking common." Now in common she asks, "I know it is asking for much, but do you know of any tomes on Witchcraft?"

    He looks a bit annoyed at the disturbance, and by Hepla's continued attempts to talk. "I don't have time to help every surface child who passes by," he says, a bit rudely. "But I can see you just won't leave me in peace otherwise," he adds, interlacing his long elven fingers and frowning. So, he gives Hepla basic directions to a part of the library where she may find what she seeks. "Now, if you'll excuse me..." and he goes back to reading.

    Hepla thanks him and promises to tell her Drow friend(she uses the feminin form of friend) that he is here. Then she goes to that part of the library that he directed her to. She sits at one of the desks and writes a message on the half of the communication scroll which Isilme left her.

    Isilme, I am in the great library of the Wizard's guild. It is great but not well organized. The Librarian is a dark elf but not too helpful to a "Surface child". Let me know if you wish to send anything, list of research questions, yourself. signed...Hepla

    Hepla doesn't find much; it's just about impossible to search the place, but she also learns from the porters that there is an even LARGER library in Greyhawk. [Think of it as the Library of Alexandria. ] She figures she really doesn't have time, so she leaves. She stops back at the Mage of Exchange, inquires about recharging her wands and staff. When she learns how long and expensive a process it is, she declines and then returns to the inn herself.

    To the gambling hall

    Noot and Taki go back towards the Cargo Gate. Just inside the gate and to the south is a long L-shaped building. Bestro's Bones. It's a favored gambling hall in the River Quarter, specializing in dice gaming. Just about any game which is based upon dice may be played within. They disappear inside, and even though it's still daytime, the place is already rather crowed. They don't allow weapons inside, for obvious reasons, though you can check them at the door. If you go inside, you still can find a nice table, get some drinks, and see what's going on.

    Noot sits down with Taki , studying the games, when a buxom barmaid shows up with a couple of mugs of ale. "First round's on the house," she says. "If there's anything I can get you," she adds, looking at Taki's huge form, "my names Pauli."

    She also sets a dice cup down at the table, in case Noot and Taki wish to simply throw some bones. If Noot wants to go play some other games of chance, there are plenty to choose from. Taki is not there to gamble, but he just wants to make sure Noot is alright. He will, however, flirt with the barmaid and tip well. Taki offers the barmaid to sit down and will tip her for the ale and whatever else she is offering.

    Noot continues to study the games. He looks around for any cheating that might be going on. If he doesn't detect any, then he will pull out his pouch, invest 10 gp and start playing. Noot moves over to a table where a handful of men are playing Doubles. The game is simple. You have to ante up 1gp to play each round, then roll two dice. If you roll Snake Eyes you lose. If you roll Boxes you win. Any other roll and you lose your turn. If you roll doubles you win the ante amount and roll again; however, if that particular doubles roll comes up again, it is also a losing roll. Play continues until one person wins, or until everyone else loses.

    There are only 3 players, so he joins and become the fourth. I'll play round by round:

    round 1: rolls of 11, 10, 7. Noot rolls 5. Pot 4gp. Noot down: 1gp
    round 2: rolls of 7, 8, 5. Noot rolls double 3's! Wins back 1gp. Rolls double 2's! Wins back another 1gp. Rolls double 4's! Wins 1gp. rolls 6 and loses turn. Pot: 5 Noot is up: 1gp
    round 3: rolls of 3, 5, and double 5's. The third player wins back 1gp, then rolls double 5's again. He's out! Noot rolls 10. Pot: 7gp Noot even
    round 4: rolls of 3, 5, and Noot rolls 9. Pot 10gp Noot: down 1gp
    round 5: rolls of 5, and 8. Noot rolls DOUBLE 6'S! Noot wins and gains 10gp.

    Noot pockets his winnings, tips the barmaid 1 gp and rejoins Taki for ale. By the time Noot comes back, maybe 15 minutes or so, the barmaid's sitting on Taki's lap and playing with his hair. There are three more empty mugs on the table too!

    Noot picks up a couple of rumors while in the gambling hall:

    1) Lord Silverfox in the High Quarter breeds exceptionally good dogs. Many adventuring parties buy from him.

    2) Not far from the city are the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. Centuries past, when Greyhawk city was still a burgeoning riverbank trading post, Zagig was already a powerful magician. His adventurous exploits had taken him the length and breadth of the Oerth and beyond-his command of magic had grown to heroic proportions. Zagig built for himself an enormous castle complex north of young Greyhawk. He used it to conduct his experiments, to build his personal guard of soldiers, and to store the treasures of his career. However, after just a century of occupation, the castle was mysteriously abandoned. Since then, the upper towers have crumbled and fallen, the grounds have succumbed to the erosion of time. What remains are the extensive underground mazes, overrun by monstrous evil creatures carefully guarding the legacy of the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. In its prime, Castle Greyhawk consisted of three main towers. They have fallen into rubble, but the corresponding dungeon levels beneath them still exist. Though below ground, they are still referred to as the Tower of War, the Tower of Power, and the Tower of Zagig

    Noot mumbles to himself, "Ruins! Probably full of those !@#$% kobolds."

    Taki goes to take the St. Pauli girl to his room, but the owner of the gaming house says she's working. Taki tosses him a few gold, as he takes up his weapons from the weapons check. The guy doesn't say anything else as they leave. Noot then picks the guys pocket and takes Taki's money back!

    [b]The Green Dragon Inn[/]

    Everyone reunites at the inn after running their errands. Hepla comes in last, and when she hears about the opera and play she says,"Can I come too? What is a play or opera?"

    Emyn explains, having just had Elrae explain it to him! "A play is a performance where people tell a story in front of you and ac it out, my dear. An opera is where they do that while singing but often they are very hard to understand and sung in different languages. I think in old elvish or high dwarven or something or other. Either way, even if you can't understand what they say, it still sounds nice."

    Hepla says, "I have spent the day reading bits and pices of different languages. Anymore and I think I would get a headache. The play sounds better. Do they ever sing in these plays and does the audience sing along? Mom would sometimes have a gathering of elves or old friends and we would sit around a campfire and they would tell stories and sing old songs while drinking Moonshine. Is it like that?"

    She then sings a bit of an old Dwarven drinking song that makes Thorgrim and Gotrek sputter and blush. "I always liked that one even if I do not know what some of those words mean."

    Emyn replies, "I don't think the actors like it when others sing along. They rpefer to have you watch, though Elrae can surely explain it better than I. THink of actors as people who want all of teh attention." The guardian ruffles Star's ears and passes her a bit of fish from his plate.

    Thorgrim prepares for a night at the Opera. He combs his beard, and gets out his "dress" clothes, which are really just new adventuring clothes. He looks at himself in Hepla's mirror, and grunts. "Good enough," he says.

    Emyn prepares his armor so it is especially shiny and his swords will be especially sharp.
    "Beware pickpockets in that place. For just two silver, it likely draws an unsavory crowd."

    That evening you guys go to the opera. You may need some new clothes, as you guys can't go with weapons and armor! The market is open well into the evening (just read that!) so you can buy nice new clothes there. Anyone who wants to go will have to buy a set of nice clothes, and there is plenty to choose from at the market. To go to the Opera, you need NICE clothes, so anyone who wants to go pay 25gp for a set of nice clothes.

    That taken care of, you get your box seats at the Opera for tonight's performance. Elrae picks up the tab. "I just can't do this without doing it in style," he says.

    It turns out the be a very nice box section, just off the stage up and to the left. You watch an amazing performance by the half-elven diva of the Opera, Aestrella Shanfaerel. While she has the honey-blond hair and blue-green eyes typical of the Celene elves, her voice is anything but typical. The slender woman belts out deep soprano like nothing you've ever heard; Elrae actually tears up.

    From the box seats next to you, you hear some men talking, and a large fat man tells them to be quiet. "I have come a long way to hear Lady Shanfaerel," he says. "You will NOT speak during her song!"

    "Sorry Otto," says one of the other men, a slender, polite-looking man dressed mostly in blue. "I forgot how much you enjoy her music and do apologize."

    "Fine, Tenser," he replies shortly, waving a hand absently without ever taking his eyes off the half-elf woman. "No please be quiet!"

    Hepla waits for intermission, then tries to meet those men. She will simply knock on their box door and ask if she can see them for a moment. "I believe you are two of the greatest wizards in the world," she says. "I meet Bigby the other day, but didn't know it till afterward. I did not want to pass up the chance to meet you. You are you are you not? I agree the singer has a great ability, best opera singing I have ever heard. Sorry I am Hepla."

    She stammers through the whole thing, almost never stopping and ending up out of breath and standing there, nearly panting. The two men look at Hepla, then back at each other, then back at Hepla. Then they both start laughing a rich, hearty laugh.

    Hepla looks embarrassed, then adds, "I am sorry, perhaps I mistook you for someone else when I heard your names. I am happy you have had a good laugh and I am sorry to have bothered you. May I buy you a drink to make up for bothering you?"

    The slender man gives you a very pleasant smile, and says, "Oh no, you were most correct," he says. "It's just, well, an inside joke."

    He gives slight bow to Hepla, and Otto jumps at the mention of a drink. "They have the most delectable Lendorian Ambrosia here," he says. "I accept your offer."

    "You are incorrigible, Otto," says Tenser. "Don't let him sucker you into that one girl," he adds. "The Lendorian costs 100 gold for a glass, and he knows it!"

    "It was my offer, so will that be one glass or two?" she asks. "It is a pleasure to meet such famous wizards. Of course I would love to talk with you but you are here to enjoy the music. Perhaps after the opera, if that is all right with you?"

    Tenser sighs, "Oh, just one," as an attendant takes Hepla's order for the wine. [take off 200 gp] The middle-aged Otto, at 332 pounds stills offers a graceful bow to Hepla.

    As the drink appears, Otto delights in savoring the incredible flavor.

    "My dear lady," says Tenser jovially. "You have found Ottos greatest weakness, other than Aestrella's voice, and that's Otto's irresistible gluttony."

    "You're just jealous that you lack an epicurean bone in your body," says Otto. "You know, he actually LIKES iron rations!"

    "I hope you enjoy and if there is any time after the performance I might speak with you I will be at your pleasure. Again my name is Hepla, daughter of Hepala." Star steps out of the shadows to look at the men. "This is Startle," she says, laughing, "we all call her Star." Hepla bows and collects Star to go back to her seat.

    Tenser looks at Star, and Hepla sees recognition in his eyes. Tenser looks at Hepla, "Well, you certainly ARE full of surprises, aren't you young one?" he says, looking at Hepla. Lost in his ambrosia, Otto misses the little exchange.

    Tenser actually gets up from his seat, moves over to Hepla, and kisses her hand. "It has been a pleasure," he says. "Please, you MUST come visit me after the show."

    "Speaking of which," says Otto, as Aestrella takes the stage again. "Now, run along lass," he says, "let us not be rude to our Lady. And thank you quite for the fine ambrosia."

    Tenser smiles to Hepla, then nearly whispers with a grin. "Forgive Otto, he's in love."

    "After the show it is," she whispers," as Star gives a little prrr. She goes back to her seat and enjoys the rest of the show. After another hour, the show is over. The applause is deafening.

    "Wow what a show!" exclaims Elrae. "Worth every copper!"

    Tenser is pleased to see Hepla again after the show, and he is quite happy to meet the others: Emyn, Elrae, and Thorgrim. Otto is going to meet Lady Shanfarel, so he will not accompany you. He is cordial, but a bit "not there" and then rushes off. Tenser apologizes for him, "Alas, the poor sot is quite smitten." Clapping his hands, he invites you to join him.

    Hepla accepts the invitation and Star actually jumps into his arms and stares at his face for a few seconds. "Please sir, excuse her. She is a little nervous still after our last adventures. I was very near to death but I'm much better now." Hepla then introduces all those with her.

    With a wave of his arms, and a small flourish of the arcane, Tenser casts a spell. Scintillating auras swirl around you such that you can't see beyond them, and when the subside, you are standing in a very comfortable sitting room. Shelves of books line one wall, a large fireplace dominates another. There are numerous couches upon which you may recline, and beautiful rugs and tapestries finish it out.

    "Welcome to my humble abode," says Tenser.

    You spend a pleasant evening with Tenser, whom you find has very refined tastes in fine fabrics. He asks of you, and you spend the next couple of hours speaking to him of your adventures, from the Temple of Elemental Evil, to the Pomarj. He has heard of your exploits at the Temple. One of his old acquaintances, Lord Robillar, had often spoke of investigating the place. Tenser is glad it was you.

    "I shudder to think what ill he may have unleashed," he says. "The rest of the Circle do not share my worries regarding the rise of Evil in the Flanaess," he adds. "They take a more central approach, serving to maintain balance, which is certainly to be appreciated. However, I sense changing times, a dark period ahead. The Great Kingdom flounders in decadence and madness. Humanoids have overrun the Bone March and Pomarj, though at least you've checked the rise of these Slavelords." He nods to you, toasting you with a small goblet of fine wine which servants brought everyone. "The Hierarchs rule beyond the Veng River to the north, and beside them broods the Old One himself, recently returned from who knows where."

    "I have tried to push the Circle to become more involved, but alas, to no avail. Mordenkainen and Rary keep their own councils, while Dramidj whiles away his life at the bottom of the seas. Otto cares more for his epicurean lifestyle and chasing after Lady Shanfarel." He laughs, somewhat ruefully, before he continues. "That leaves only half the circle to really pay attention to events. Nystul is concerned with strange activity beyond his land of Tenhas, and has spent many months working with the druids of the Phostwood. Only Bigby can be counted upon, but he is kept busy in Onnwal, helping the Iron League against the machinations of the Herzog of the South Province. Thus, it falls, naturally, upon myself to do what I can to hold back this dangerous tide."

    "This room reminds me of mom's sitting room," says Hepla. "Which tells me there is much more here then meets our eyes. This is good since everyone deserves their secrets." Hepla adds, "I'll even bet this is one of those places that the inside is bigger then the outside. <giggle> I spent the day in the Guild library looking for any references to Witchcraft. Grandma and mom are witches but they told me I had to find the books to begin to cast Witch spells with and I have had no luck yet. Tomorrow I plan to help my dark elf good friend to research these drawings she made(she shows him the packet of drawings from Isilme) she feels they have something to do with some of the evils we have found but does not recognise their meaning. I also want to see if anyone knows of a mated pair of black dragons and their baby that helped us in the TOEE adventure and moved back to this plane. Oh, and do you need help? You seem even busier then we are.
    Have you seen this spell Bigby came up with (she shows him the spell). You can copy it if you want I just ask for the original back. Wish I could remember which guy gave it to me so I could recognise him latter." She will continue on and on and on as an excited teen would but will stop when he is ready to speak. Star wanders around the room until she settles at Hepla's feet.

    Thorgrim puts a hand over his face, shaking his head. He then takes a drink of his wine, as Tenser laughs again. Thorgrim then speaks, "We recently scried Lareth, priest of the Temple of Elemental Evil, seemingly enjoying the protection of his giant cohorts. And we have encountered many Drow in the upper echelons of the evil we seek to destroy. We know the slavers were in league with the Temple of the Earth Dragon. Can you tell us anything you know about giants or Drow making alliances with these evil priests or with each other?"

    Tenser tells Hepla to toss his name out in the library, "You'll get some more help that way." He also laughs about Bigby, saying, "Yes, I have the same spell myself. Bigby is like to promote the protection of books."

    He doesn't know much about Lareth or giants, though he's certainly fought his share of giants in the past. He also doesn't know of your black dragons, but he does tell you that dragons are impossible to scry. He is troubled by the drow information. They have ever stayed well away from the surface, except for the occasional forest raid or maybe a lone adventurer type, usually an outcast. He's actually never met a good drow, so he's a bit intrigued regarding Isilme.

    Tenser seems shocked when you show him the drawings which Isilme had made. He actually seems almost...fearful. He asks if he may keep the drawings, to which you surely say yes, then he breaks off the evening, saying there is much he must do. He thanks you, apologizes that he can't say more right now, and teleports you all back to the street outside the Opera.

    "That was a rare opportunity. I am glad to have met him," says Thorgrim. "Let's get a drink and call it a night. Onward, to The Green Dragon! Let us conclude our business here, and be on our way."

    The party then sleeps the rest of the night, peacefully in warm beds.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:07 am  
    Zarak - Suakin

    Before moving on, I thought I'd post this. I stumbled on an image of the ruined island port of Suakin, in Sudan on the coast of the Red Sea. That's what I used for Zarak. Here's a link to a page about it.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:35 am  
    Back in Hommlet

    Waterday, 19th Coldeven (581)
    You wake the next morning to a rainy day. Nobody really wants to do much outside with the rain, so you pretty much stay to your room. Hepla returns to the Guild, and throwing out Tenser's name actually gets some help, albeit reluctant help, finding what she wants. [PM me about what you REALLY are searching for, and we can talk about whay you find. It's not critical to moving on, so we can work out what it all is/means on our own before posting more.]

    Meanwhile, others may spend the day picking up items they may wish.

    Gotrek goes to the Guild of Blacksmiths, and there finds that for 100gp he can become a member. He will not be entitled to work independently, but may pass the time working for another blacksmith, even be paid. If you pay, you can then return with the blacksmith and freely use his shop. He goes to work making harpoons for Taki, while working on some various projects for the blacksmith, Sam.

    Earthday, 20th Coldeven (581)
    You wake the next morning, and return to the Mage of Exchange.

    The items have all been re-identified, and the Mage will buy them from Emyn if he chooses. However, no mages could be convinced to work on a suit of magical armor. There is a mage who would create for Emyn a Ring of Spell Storing, with a Speak with Animals. Even Berenn could recharge a Speak with Animals ring. If Emyn chooses to not do anything, he can sell the items for 7500gp. They will also take them in exchange for the recharging which Hepla inquired about. In this case, she'll have to leave her items here for now. Elrae's Cittern can be repaired, but it will take some time. He will have to leave it there to be repaired, but they will do it. It will cost 5000gp.

    " I will take the speak with animals ring," says Emyn, "and I will trade the rest. If there is any money left from what I sell, I will donate it to Elrae for the repair of his cittern."

    Hepla suggests that Elrae's Cittern should have prioity for getting worked on. Meanwhile Isilme scrys Hepla when she is alone. She is excited to hear about the meeting with the wizard, the drow in the library, and all the pleasures Greyhawk has to offer. She thought Verbobonc was the largest human city! Gathering some things, she passes through her mirror and pays a very quick visit to catch up with her.

    "Good to see you my friend," says Hepla. "Here's Bigbys spell. Take it with you and put it in a safe place until we can copy it to a spellbook and commence learning it. This place is huge. Tenser said he has never meet a good dark elf and would like to meet you. I think he is working on that packet of drawings you sent me. Want to take a walk around? Be careful of your weapons, they have this registration, carrying fee that they seem to enforce."

    "That is incredible," replies Isilme, much pleased. "That such a wise man would take interest in my drawings! No My friend. If he does wish to meet me or allow me to visit the city tell the wizard I need a safe place to enter using my mirror."

    Isilme then gives Hepla another broach for the Order of the Cat. "This is for Emyn; I had two more made. Here also is a spare should you decide to let another join the order."

    "I do not know where his home is," says Hepla. "He teleported us there and back and I never saw outside, if there was an outside. The guild has a protection from teleporting in it, and probably a lot more. If you want to see what prices are here, lets go check it out."

    Hepla and Isilme then head back to the guild, and go to the library. Emyn stays to guard the portal and make sure nobody accidentally pass through it. Isilme introduces herself to the librarian, speaking to him in perfect drow and then lowering her hood to reveal her drow features. "It has been some time since I have seen one of my own kind, how did you come to be here?"

    He's a bit taken aback, and now even MORE on his guard than before. He makes it clear that he really doesn't trust anyone, ESPECIALLY other dark elves, and he really isn't interested in conversation. He prefers this easy job watching the library "because he is left alone." He pretty much just waits for Isilme to "get the hint," though she sees his irritation level is certainly increasing.

    She mentions Tenser's name to the drow (Hepla said it might give some clout around here) and SHE makes it clear that while he does not trust anyone it is hardly necessary to be rude to visitors of the library. "It is nice to know other drow have left the underdark and I am not alone. I am sorry to bother you, I thought it might be nice to finally converse in the ease of the tongue I grew up and with another member of our race who was not hostile. Perhaps just the chance to meet others like me. I was mistaken. May the light and goodness of Eilistraee offered to all Drow bless and guide you - A rightful place awaits all of us in the sunlit world of our elvish brothers and sisters, if we but go in peace to live beneath the sun and stars amongst them." Isilme pauses for a moment, the continues. "Now, would you please be so kind as to direct me to the section of the library where I might find information on celestial beings?"

    The second mention of Tenser seems to anger him. "If he so wants you to find answers, then he can bloody well come and tell me so!" he just about yells. He also ignores all Isilme's talk of drow and Ellistrae, not really even looking at her as she is talking.

    "Sigh, fine," he says. "If it means you'll leave me in peace." He points out where you may find some useful books. After Isilme walks away, Hepla explains that the place is seriously disorganized. "You could probably find anything and everything here, with time," she says. "Unfortunately, that's how the place is. The keeper of the library isn't really there to help; he seems more there to just keep an eye on the place. He's also quite irritable."

    Isilme sighs And says "Thank you for your help." Dhe then muses aloud, "I wonder if the guild would be interested in hiring a drow to guard this library AND be pleasant and helpful, maybe even organize the books....this seems like such a cushy job and I could read all i want!"

    She walks off checking a book or two on celestials in the direction indicated and after doing some brief research and probably getting frustrated by the lack of order here leaves with Hepla back to the room at the inn. Isilme and Hepla spend the day pouring through the library, but don't find anything in the area they are looking that helps regarding the amulet Isilme found. While Isilme looks for books, Hepla finishes a book that she had been reading yesterday. She studies the cover of the book and suddenly starts to write a lot in her notebook.

    As they finish up their search, Hepla says,"I don't know how to contact the wizard; maybe we can leave a note at the guild for him to pick up. I think we should leave a note for Tenser here at the guild and spend tonight at the inn and go back to Hommlet first thing in the mourning."

    Back at the inn, Noot is a bit irritable. He is ready to return home. "Too many cops, laws and regulations here," he says. Taki and Gotrek agree.

    " Yes, let us be rid of this city and its oppressive rules," says Emyn.

    The party then returns through the mirror gate with Isilme. It is good to be home, after such a long and difficult journey.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:26 am  

    Follow the party's exploits in The Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sat Feb 01, 2014 5:35 pm  

    So, I can find Pauli at the Green Dragon in the Free City of Greyhawk? Happy

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    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:21 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    So, I can find Pauli at the Green Dragon in the Free City of Greyhawk? Happy


    Reminds me of why we play....

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