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Overdue I know and I hope I can find the time to do the next bits as well before Wednesday! If I make any errors in these feel free to comment in and set the record straight. Its only a bit of fun and any help will be welcomed!
Bormir pelted down the road, his stout legs pumping as he whirled his blade around and around his head in defiance at the feasting abominations.
With a sideways look at each other Donny & Auri shared a look of disbelief at the bellicose behaviour. So much for the element of surprise!
“You go left I’ll go right..” Auri began, but was interrupted.
“And I! I shall go though the middle to a glorius battle!” Lucious muttered sibilantly. The sorcerer gathered his robes an scurried after Bormir forthwith.
“Him I expect it from he’s nuts” Donny muttered half to himself. Then more loudly so Auri could hear it. “No I take it back your all Nuts!” he added as his slipped into the foliage at the side of the road and began weaving towards the battle filed.
Auri could hardly disagree. Instead he made his way as subtly as he could to the opposite wagon.
Meanwhile Bormir had closed on the nearest winged beast. Hacking at the think he scored a long slash in it leathery leg making it squeal in pain as the thing raked back at him with huge paw like hands. Metal shrilled as furrows in the metals lacquer peeled away as it raked him. The armour did as it should and turned the blow. Ignoring the blood and gore of the innocents slaughtered around him Bormir struct back again and again using his superior bulk to drive the lighter predator back from his last kill.
Lucious paused at the edge of the clearing a moment and took stock. “Ah such a waste” he sighed, looking at the eviscerated animals and yokels. “Come back to us for a little while!” He whispered then more loudly “By the Will of the Lady of Dark Rebirth Arise you slain take vengeance on your slayers!”
The corpse still in the grip of the further creature shook even as the thing took another bite out of it. Ghastly tendrils of white fungus filled every wound as the deadly demonic spores filled its corpse. Temporarily reanimating the tortured flesh of the peasant..
Shrieking in surprise the Winged beast launched into the air still clutching the now writhing and flailing Zombie.
Donny sneaked into the closest wagon and took a peek out of the cloth cover at the battle. Nope nothing in his line of sight. Shrugging he took out a knife ready to throw if an easy target presented. Then got back to rummaging through the wagon for even easier loot!
Across the ruined campsite, Auri was doing the same. He had also crept into a ruined covered wagon and was observing his fellow dwarfs antics while looking for loot. “Amateur” he snorted as a dagger from Donny when sailing over both Bormir’s head and the creature he was fighting with. His snort of derision changed to a scowl as the creature finally managed to sink a set of its claws deep into Bormir’s shoulder. Tucking the purse he had found into his jerkin he unhooked his pick and dropped from the wagon to approach Bormir’s opponent from behind.
Bormir grunted in pain but fought on. Typically only the loony Mage had followed him in. The dagger had been a surprise so he had to assume one at least of the others was somewhere nearby. He hadn’t the attention to spare right now. He had gotten in a couple of good licks on the creature and it was looking rather shabby now with a wing not able to support it for a day this one would stay here till one of the died. Out of the corner of one eye he saw Auri drop out of a nearby wagon and raise his Pick as he charged the things back. “’bout time as well!”
Lucious stood entranced watching his Zombie fight the airborne creature. Such elegance and grace the creature was obvious of some nether Hell released onto the mortal sphere by arts dark and delicious. As he watched the mighty demon thing tore his fungus Zombie in half and dashed the pieces to the ground. No matter there would always be more dead to replace that. Noting the Tendrils of fungus still writhed in the sundered flesh he nodded a salute to his mistresses power and raised his palm at the supposed victor of the fight. Purple red flame bloomed from his palm and played across the clearing towards the Flying one.
Back at the main body of the group, Joseph Pope eyed the road ahead uneasily. “Ah Bugger this they are taking there own time and i don’t like it!” he declared Come on you two with me!” He shouted as he took off after his supposed scouts.
Phaedra eyed the man run. “Foolish I cannot match that pace with my leg” she muttered supposedly to herself.
“No problem lady!” Boomed Mogar from somewhere almost behind her. Massive hands hoisted her into the air and she was sat across Mogar’s broad shoulders in a trice. “You no weight at all!” The warrior rumbled as he held he legs tight while he charged after Joseph.
Bright ladies save me! Phaedra prayed as she pitched and reeled on the warriors shoulders as the thundered down the path.
Bormir had all but got the better of his creature when with a shriek a third one burst out of the trees and swooped down towards Auri. It failed to connect but it broke his charge. Donny looking out of the wagon stuffed the last of his loot into his pockets and sidled up behind Bormirs foe. The Bloodstained Dwarf was a great distraction at least.
Swiping at the creature trying to rake at him with huge distended toenails Auri was wondering if the thing would ever come into his reach, When suddenly the creature instead of slashing past him ran into something hard and invisible and slid down to the ground like glob of Mud thrown on a wall.
Lucious eyes glittered as the force wall had exacted amusing vengeance on the interloping creature. But before he could capitalise on the temporary victory his first opponent shot back into the air and began to circle him. “Come and fight for me little one” he crooned to the almost decapitated peasant woman near him. Again Ganelea’s ghastly transformation overtook the corpse as it lurched to life as a fungus zombie.
Bormir grunted as he took another minor hit. Next time either of them connected would be it he thought grimly. Best make sure its me! With a mighty shout the dwarf smashed a massive overhead blow int the thing just at the joint of neck and torso. Eerily the thing instead of spouting more of its weird grey blood hissed and dissolved into a rancid grey mist. Blinking his eyes Bormir found himself squinting at Donny who had evidently been about to stab the thing in its kidneys.
Lucious eyes narrowed as hi target kept swooping in and out of range of his flame blasts. He considered attempting the Spell he had learned from the Elf but he had yet to try casting mystical bolts and this was not yet so desperate to try and cast a spell for the first time! As he watched mentally urging his remaining Zombie thrall to shield him an arrow arced past the thing and disappeared into t he woods. What was this?
Joseph Pope snapped the bow of his knee in utter frustration. He’d have better luck throwing the arrows at the enemy. Seeing Mogar and.. Phaedra come gulumphing up he motioned towards the battle. “Take your pick” Still on Mogars shoulders Phaedra swung her bone club at the creature dueling Auri While Joseph drew his sword to join Lucious’s Zombie in dispatching the last.
The battle did not last long after that. Lucious’s foe attempting to flee but being swatted down like a blowfly before he could get clear. Looking around at the mess, Lucious’s eye narrowed as the remains of the creature whisped into grey greasy smoke. Returning to their home plain perhaps he realised or something. The discorportaon nagged at a distant memory of something he had read but he couldn’t place it now.
“Ware!” hissed Phaedra reaching for her throwing needles.
Spinning around Joseph could see what she indicated. Something was hiding perhaps about to burst free from a bush. The encounter was not done yet!
With barely a sound the trio of deadly steel darts sliced into the bush to be met by a wet gurgle as at least one found its mark.
Rushing over to the bush Joseph prodded it open with his sword. To their surprise a solitary drover dressed in homespun rages stare back at him sightlessly. The man was covered in barbarous scratches from the creatures claws, but one of Phaedra’s needles sprouted from the base of his throat. Damn! He cant talk at least he thought.
“Heres your needle back witch woman” he said holding it out for the shaman to take. “You missed the bad guys”
“Did I?” she said archly looking emotionlessly at the dead drover. “This battle was his time to die, no more no less” The mysterious witch turned away leaving the rest of them (Apart from Lucious) looking open mouthed at her back…
In due course the rest of the company arrived and the drovers were laid to rest. Some wanted to cremate them but Lucious overruled them quite vehemently, stating there bodies would be far better in the embrace of the Earth. As nobody cared to argue that much with the mad sorcerer shallow graves were scooped out and the bodies of man & beast tipped into them.
The lighter of the two wagons was deemed salvageable and after hitching the spare horse to it Lucious, Temerian and Felix appropriated it for the time being.
Wanting to get a bit more distance the group then pressed on for another hour or so. At least at this campsite they’d not be treated to the aroma of freshly spilled blood as they slept.
Right lets see if I can get back into the flow of a journal as well 🙂
The days passed slowly for some while others were filled with activity. The dwarves in the warband lead by Auri especially seemed to finally have recovered from the voyage to the island and had taken over the inspection and resale or renovation of the salvaged arms and armour from the ruins of the Sandlanders Temple.
After a day or so’s intensive rest the injured magicians were back on their feet. Though in Temerians case it was merely to collect some rations before flopping back into his bed perhaps with a book but more often than not the Elf merely tranced and recuperated.
Lucious was a bit more in evidence. The dark skinned warlock seemed to have made a faster recovery once his eyesight returned. Though the addion of a velvet eye patch did nothing to soften his sinster aspect.
Phaedra was always present in the group. In fact some of the other troopers were begging to get a little spooked as they said every time they turned about there she was silently watching them never saying. After a quiet word from Grimwarden the young mysterious woman instead dissapeared from camp early in the morning to return quite late carrign arm fuls of herbs. Dissapearign into her quarters chanting and invocations could be heard late into the evening. But each day she appeaered with a few vials of healing balm as the results of her efforts. Much more greatful of her now the mercinaries eventualy ignored her as she stood standing watching – judgeing them as they went about thier assigned tasks.
Mogar managed to find a captain that was sailing back to the mainland and had pressed a packet of letters for his family. Hearing the package “chink” revealingly Grimwarden took the big guy aside and gently explained that while it was a fine thing he was doing for his old Mama if he wanted master Zathabar would send part of his wages on to his relatives. Happy at the thought the warrior went back to practising with his new gear.
Joseph Pope surveyed all this from his rooms mainly. His focus was on the road ahead. he’d heard a few rumors and ferreted out a few more. Calling for some more parchment he penned another letter…
At the end of the week the entire warband assembled in the town square. The band had aquired a cart and a couple of spare horses but in the main the troop was packed for marching in decent military order. In fact the sudden display of martial competence had caught the eye of the town guards who non too subtly observed the muster albeit at a respectful distance.
When the troop stood ready Grimwarden cracked them a smile and shook his head. “awe fer gawds sake try and look less green ye boogers! Stand easy ya asshols.” Crackin open a firkin of Ale he took a deep pull then passed it to the next trooper.
“Alright we’re orf from this… nice township. As mosta ye know we got leads saying some of our targets have taken up with the Thane of the next district. Some may even hae signed on wi’ him as gaurds an the like. If so we gotta go a bit careful like. Still and me an master Joseph have discussed if the Thane up there isn’t totally stupid we can make him see that his new recruits have a few bad ‘un in with ’em. As long as we play it cool we should be able to bag at least a couple of them. So I want ye on yer best manners when we get there cause no offence with the local authorities or ye’ll get me boot up yer arse! ” He looked at Jospeh pope. “Anything to add Master?” he asked in a middlin’ respectful tone to the groups brevet leader.
Joseph looked a little nervous as he stepped up. Being right out in th eopen didnt sit well with him. “Not much Master Grimwarden, just this. The Thane up there is a Mage of sorts so take no chances. I heaer there is a growing Bandit problem up there which might be why he hired a bunch more gaurd Or it might be our targets are th ebandits. So we find out the lay of the land then we act. That’s all”
“Fair enough,” Grimwarden agreed. “Well looks like three days march maybe just two is we step lively and master elf in there.” He stuck a thick finger out in the direction of the Covered wagon “gets his beauty sleep. Stay alert and lets be on the way!”
The group had been on the road for maybe four five hours when the the forward scouts called a halt.
“Whats the situation?” Joseph pope asked of “Rats” & Boggis.
“Take a look” Rats replied laconically indicating the scuffed ground ahead of them. Squatting down Jospeh could see the definite impressions of tracks crossing the road at right angles. Glancing to the side of the road he could now a group had left the high grassy fields on one side of the track and crossed over to the next just ahead of them.
“Who and how many you think”?
“Ah easy that one seen plent of tracks like that last week or two. Lizard folk a buncha them but trying to make their numbers seem smaller I deem.”
“More than us?”
“Maybe…” came the laconic reply
Joseph thought a moment. “Ok you two go follow the tracks for a few minutes see if you can determine thier numbers just don’t get seen!”
“No fear of that!” Rats agreed “C’mon smelly lets take a look see”
Returning to th wagon in the center of the group Jospeh explained what had been found to the rest of the group. “I figure we wait up a few minutes – no more than an hour and see what the scouts find out. I’m not having a large force of Lizard people wandering about unless i have at least an idea where they are!”
“Right” agreed Grimwarden. “Ok Lads eight pickets on alert one with a bow one with a shield in front of them. Compass point watch. Get to it!”
Forty minute or so later Rats and Boggis slipped back into camp. “Well we seen ’em at a distance about 50 of the Lizard folk heading back towards the Town we came from.”
“You sure they are not going to double back on us then?”
“Nah cant be sure o that without being close enough to hear ’em. But I saw no sign, this was a raiding party alright then had plenty of empty sacks stuffed in packs and lots rope. I figure they were gonna plunder a farm or two maybe scare the town, but there’s not enough of them to take those walls.”
“As long as there not on our tails.”
“But what of the people in the town?”
“We’re not on retainer for them so what?”
“True. But even so…”
“Ok can we get a message back to them without gettin’ caught?”
“Leave that to me!” Termerian interjected from the edge of the Wagon “I need to practice I suppose”
Once the magician had sent the Guard of Newsandport a warning the Warband again set out. A few hours later the group pulled just to the side of the road and set up a camp for the night on a flat piece of ground on the edge of a small copse of woods.
“Ok I want constant watches over night” Joesph Pope declared once the horses were tied up and the beginnings of a camp fire going. “Two folks every four hours overlapping”
Some time later Mogar and Boggis were staring morosely out into the empty still countryside. When a strange noise got Boggis’ attention. Stumbling towards it he suddenly felt the ground dissappear beneath his feet. “Help!” he cried as the ground swallowed him hole (Pun Intended).
Mogar rushed over just in time to see a whitish blur in the sky silhouetted against the waxing moon. Effortlessly the Owl floated past him to disappear into the nearby trees.
Scrambling to the edge of a rough pit Mogars nostrils wrinkled at the aroma wafting up from below. “Quick get me out!” Boggis cried all the louder waking some of the camp.
“Trust you to find a latrine pit!” Mogar grunted as he heaved the man back to the surface. “How do you stand that smell?”
“What smell?” Boggis replied confusedly…
In the light of Morning the warband could see a few other signs that there camp site had been used at some point before them. Not terribly recently but clearly the copse beside the highway was popular among travellers.
The day wore on and they made good progress. it was interesting to see the landscape slowly get less dry and barren with more and more trees staring to be in evidence. As much as the group enjoyed this it slowly came to them that the land was strangely empty, less wildlife was in evidence than you’d expect for the growing verdantcy of the landscape? Likewise, for a busy route between districts the fact they were yet to come across any other travellers was perhaps noteworthy as well.
Though to be fair anyone seeing a two dozen strong band of warriors might think it a good idea to go hide in the bushes while they went by…!
Just after mid afternoon Temerian’s Meditations were disturbed once more. Not this time from any of his oafish companions hollering but by his own familiar. The nightmarish creature began crooning to itself and swaying irritatingly from side to side. Sensing no fear only… ‘admiration?(!)” emanating from it Tem eventually had to demand an explanation.
“Well! what ails you creature” he ordered; dimly realising he perhaps ought to give the parody of a horse and giuant bat an actual name sometime.
“ohh my master..” It crooned “Something lies ahead of my order, my home. Strong and full of shadows” it thought back at him.
Suddenly alarmed he asked: “What of your order. What mean you? Demon kind?”
The creature hesitated. “No but they dwell in the abyssal shadows that I can feel but I know them not” it replied a little more calmly.
Cursing the interruption Temerian summoned the others, and explained the news.
“Hmm well I’m not going to run into a demon thing either” Joseph exclaimed. “Any volunteers see what the little creature thinks he feels?”
Auri Bormir Lucious and Donny crept forward. A half mil;e down the road they could make out a pair of wagons, but they were not camped. No they were skewed crazily across the path. A road block maybe?
Auri unshipped his spyglass and took a closer look. Two thin gangling creatures with over large heads and hand flittered between the wagons on huge leathery wings. no more than man high they were clearly not like the Huge eyeless Demonic thing the others had fought in the temple.
Hurredly describing what he saw to his fellow he suggested carefully advancing from the flanks to….
“Chaaaaaarrgggeee…” screamed Bormir brandishing his weapons as the dwarf took off at full pelt down the road….
And there I’ll leave this as while we manged to play out the fight there was just a touch more in that scene I wanted to see played out before we move past it. Besides this narrative has gone on quite far enough for one post LOL!
Seeing Joseph & Felix lead the injured sorcerers back towards the docks, “Rats” Magee shook his head. He’d barely managed to get in here and folk were heading out the door! Looking over to where Phaedra was bandaging a scratch on Mogars forehead; he asked.
“Well what about your two? There gotta be more loot to find in a bloody burial crypt!”
Phaedra adjusted her hood and replied. “I am sure their is. But we are not here to rob the honoured dead, Mister Magee!” She declared – a note of warning in her voice.
“Fkkn peasants aint got shit anyhow..” He muttered.
“What was that!” the cleric barked.
“Erm! I was just thinking aloud that she..” he pointed to the bloodstain that marked Dark Odo’s final resting place “… or her creatures mighta left something still. This place’s been looted and fought over a few years, the looters may have left some stuff that wasn’t grave plunder that’s all. I reckon it deserves a quick look just to check it out?”
“Spider..” Mogar mumbled as his bandage slipped again over one eye.
“What mate?” Asked ‘Rats’
“They didn’t bury no spider, so there’s gotta be some things out of place. Besides I thought I saw something back there?”
‘Rats’ looked at the big guy sceptically. He’d already cased the sticky and now scorched ruin of the spiders nest. Still if it got the pair of ’em going he might get his chance to loot still. He nodded. “Alright lets check it out again, but after I wanna at least see where the main passage leads. Ok!?”
“I am curious to know what causes this low whistling howl” Phaedra admitted. The other two blinked and concentrated a moment. Yeah the faint whistling noise was ever present like hearing the trees hiss with the wind outside your bedroom window.
“Exactly!” Declared ‘Rats’ with a grin “Probably out to put that in our final report anyhow, right?”
Phaedra nodded a little hesitantly in agreement as Mogar stumped back off to the side passage where they had burned the spiders webs.
After a few moments wading through the sticky half burned webbing Mogar grunted with satisfaction “Found something!” The warrior half dragged a skeletal corpse out of the ruined webs.
Phaedra coughed as the ashes kicked up and swirled around them. “Drag the dead one free Mogar” she instructed. Turning to ‘Rats’ she nodded. “You were right that gear is not of the local make I can see that from here. A looter most like .
‘Rats’ agreed with the woman. Inwardly he was cursing he’d missed the corpse before they torched the webbing! Still any coin the deader had would still be good; just a little grubby.
A few minutes work had the body and its remaining gear back out into the wider hallway. Whomever they had been they had invested in some decent gear at least. The three set the small pile of coin and still good supplies to one side to go into the general pool. But each made sure to pick out a trophy item. Mogar took the sword as it looked pretty despite the layer of ash and grime. Rats was admiring the workmanship of the crossbow the unknown man had carried. The string was charred and ruined but that would be an easy fix once they got back to town. But apart from that its was a quality bit of gear.
Phaedra knelt by the mans body whispering a prayer for the departed. What ever it was she held in her hand ‘Rats’ was pretty sure wasn’t her Holy symbol. The rogue smiled as apparently the cleric wasn’t above a tasteful bit of looting either, in the right cause of course!
After setting the mans remains in an empty crypt the trio turned their attention to the main hallway once more…
Seriously dudes! Have you any idea how annoying that was? You basically ran for the door before I could introduce more loot for you??? Hrmm gonna have to be a bit less “subtle” in future sessions I can see that now – especially if I want to salt the loot with plot hook items.
Probably do another (or even more) of these epilogue type posts as I get my notes in order in preparation for another story arc.
Right part two. Hopefully this will finish the retelling of the session. I may feel like doing an “epilogue” post just for my own amusement as well.
Summoning up his flagging strength the Elven Mage began edgeing forward chanting the ritual words once more.
Meanwhile Joseph seeing the thing starting to rise and Phaedra flat out on the floor nearby him grabbed the frail looking woman and began shaking her awake. “C’mon girl we need you!” he shouted, with a start the clerics eyes popped open.
Felix watched Mogar pick Dark Odo over his shoulder with interest. Oh he was being nice and wrestling her to the ground instead of slashing her with that big sword of his, he thought. But no just as the diabolic flying lady got up again Mogar disappeared around the corner. Confused the halfling same mr Temerian coming up with a look of great concentration on his narrow feature. Oh well that was always interesting to watch! Felix liked the pretty colours the Magicians spells made so quietly he followed the mage around the corner.
“Fire again! Sorcerer!” Rats Magee cried steadying the mans arm.
Violet red fire bloomed catching the creatures attention but with little effect other than to make it swoop in on them!
“Awe crap!” Cried Rats, “Somebody remind me to get some silver bolts if we get outta this!” he said to nobody in particular.
Temerian had reached the corner. His frail body protesting at the effort and his aching head protesting at the effort of holding one more spell in check till he was ready. Around him was the corpses of the enchantresses remaining mortal henchmen, but ahead was Mogar carrying thier quarry away once more, no more…! Spotting Felix by his side he caught the Halflings eye and nodded to the retreating Mogar. With a wracking cough he spat out blood along with the trigger incantation. A searing blast of violet light speared out and literally blew Dark Odo’s body off Mogars back. The Witch had to be dead. Her creation might withstand such a blast but no mortal surely! Termerian thought as he sank to the floor exhausted, every nerve screaming with the magical feed back.
Thrown aganst the wall as his sister was knocked from his back by the blast Mogar stared uncomprehendingly as her headless form slammed against the opposite wall. Gripping his sword he vowed somebody would pay! Looking back the way he had come he saw a Boney Wizard and a small Goblin with twin Axes laughing back at him. Gettign back to his feet he got ready to charge.
The winged creature swooped down on where rats and Lucious stood. Shoving the blind mage one way Rats dived the other as the creature raked where they had stood with its talons. He had nothing to hurt the thing he was sure, and the Sorcerers fire left barely a mark. The thing was hurt, maybe badly but very much alive and foaming at the mouth with vengeance for the previous indignities heaped upon it.
Shaking off the magical slumber Phaedra saw the creature had at last thrown off her enchantment. She tried again but either she was still under the lingering effects of the sleep or it resisted her. Wracking her brain for another option she saw it swoop down on the blinded Lucius…
… only for its claws to pass right through him as its form turned transparent as it lost its contact with the material plane. Writing and cursing in its diabolic tongue the thing faded from view till not even a wisp of it remained.
“Is everyone alright?” She asked looking around.
“How is Mogar?” Temerian croaked from the floor to the halfling by his side.
“He looks confused Mr Tem.” came the happy reply
Mogar did indeed feel strange, the goblin and wizard had gone probably vanquished by his friends Tem & Felix that had evidently gotten to them before he did. Good job. Not being one to dwell on such things he took a moment to look around him. The near headless remains of Dark Odo’s body lay close by, but so did a couple of dozen small Orc like creatures. Judging by their wounds the winged beastie had ripped them apart shortly before he arrived. Sad but such was existence. “Hey! You all come here there is some kind of ransacked camp here!” he called to the others.
By ones and twos the exhausted adventurers made their way to the corner of the passages where as Mogar said some battle had been fought between the Winged creature and some lesser Orcs of some sort. Looking at the grisly wounds many of them displayed (in many cases their eyes had been ripped from their heads) A search of the assorted bodies did turn up a bit of loot, a good few coins and most importanly for Lucius & Temerian a pair of spell books!
Phaedra also found a book on the body of the largest looking Orc, it was written in Goblinkind and she almost broke into laughter as she read the title. Managing to stifle her reaction back to a single chuckle she pocketed it. Perhaps she’s show it to select others in the group in due course but for now at leas tone person had to be kept in the dark of its nature!
“Huh not much loot on her for a ‘powerful mage’!” Joseph spat disgustedly as the last of the meagre coin was counted.
“Yeah true that,” commented Rats. “Question is why’d she flee this way not to get aid of the Orcs as she slaughtered them all. Maybe her horde is nearby but she didn’t get a chance to retrieve it?”
“Possibly, but I can think of another reason” Temerian coughed from where he lay propped against the wall. “She needed some place to summon that, that Demonic woman. Where better than in the middle of a crypt for dark magic?”
“Logical, my elven friend” agreed Lucius from where he sat still hugging one of the spell books, sightlessly pawing at it like a cat.
Phaedra sighed, she would need to fast and pray to heal the dark ones affliction soon enough. She had hoped that with the creatures banishment the blinding spell would also fade, but alas it wa snot going to be that easy. Rising to her feet she spoke.
“We have set out what we came to do it is true but there is much more to explore here. Something is worng here, has no one else wondered why the Lizard folks did not simple take over this perfectly serviceable complex when they took it from the Sandlanders? No there is a mystery here yet that I would see the end of.
“Dunno about mysteries but we did the job but I like Magee’s point about loot!” Joseph said, turning to Temerian, “You got a good point too, dunno much about magic but that makes sense but also means that she didn’t think she’d be disturbed here so a quiet place is a good place to hide your stash. I’m gonna take a look around here while you guys gather your strength. Whose coming with me?
Leaving the Exhausted mages in the care of Felix the four remaining party members spread out along the encircling corridor looking for anything out of the ordinary among the ever present burial niches. Logically Dark Odo might have hidden something in one of the empty ones, but chances were she wouldn’t have sealed it up as well as the originals.
While he and Rats searched near the northen end of the passage Mogar jumped as he heard Phaedra’s cry of pain. Grabbing his sword he charged past the skeleton statue with Rats coming up behind him cocking his crossbow as he ran.
At the clerics cry Joseph spun away from the niche he was searching. Standing behind and leaning over the small woman was a gigantic spider! One of its fangs dug deep into her shoulder! With no time to draw his bow he summoned up his courage and slashed at the thing with his sword scoring a narrow cut on the things body. By no means a fatal wound it was enough to make the great hairy beast take a scuttling step away from the wounded woman..
Phaedra grabbed for her holy symbol with one hand and her wound with the other. She could feel the spiders venom already working its way into her. Sobbing an invocation to the three-who-are-one she sagged as the healing energies coursed through her purging the venom.
The spider bit back at Joseph, clipping him, just before Rat’s bolt goosed if from behind. The thing scuttled around just in time for Mogars sword to smash through one of its eyes dashing it to the ground!
When these new wounds were treated Rats ans Joseph managed to trace the spiders faint trail back to the opposite hall way to where they had been searching. Sure enough after twenty or so feet the walls of the passage became increasingly choked with webs as they lead to the corner of the passage. Gingerly they burned away what they could, there was no sign of more spiders but evidently it had been around for some time as the flames revealed bones and traces of equipment. Leaving the smouldering flames to clear the lair out the party took council.
“It is clear there are other dangers still” Temerian began, “I and Master Lucius are wounded and our powers at ebb..”
“Speak for yourself elfling my powers are great still!” Lucius objected.
“But you are wounded.” Tem replied evenly. “We at least should return to camp.”
“I am tired of this place as well!” Felix piped up.
“Hmm we have done what we were asked to do that’s all that counts. Not much point in risking more if we’re not being paid for it” Joseph shrugged. “I’ll go back with Felix and the wizards, I’ll make the formal report while they rest.”
“There is mystery here still” Phaedra said quietly, “I would see what it is.” she replied simply, Mogar simply nodded in agreement with the Witch woman.
“Yeah I been stuck out side shooting Lizardmen while you guys explored” grumbled Rats Magee, “I’d like at least a bit more look around”
And that’s where I’ll leave this narrative chunk. With the party dividing with the wounded and exhausted making it back to base camp & the remaining three to take a little look about still. I know the session did carry on just a little further but this is the better break point narratively speaking I think. Definitely need an “Epilogue post” though.
OK Long overdue I know (I been busy!) but lets complete this for posterity before we mothball things till my turn comes about again. In this session it was good to have the whole crew available all 7 PC’s. Just as well really…. Anyhow going to have to split this into segments as I see I have got to 3.5K words and not finished… Stay tuned.
After some minutes Lucius unbarred the door and peered in. Unsurprisingly the strange fungal zombies he had created lay in pieces upon the debris strewn floor. Also unsurprisingly the bandits lay alongside them save for their leader who was still clinging to life:
“You.. you did this!” he wheezed raising an accusing finger to the dark skinned man scowling down on this.
“I did” Lucius replied simply. “…also this..” A blast of flame incinerated the dieing bandit from the Sorcerers outstretched finger. Moving into the room Lucius bent over the form of “Amdor” and rifled his pockets.
Joseph looked at the cold efficiency of the man with a mixture of respect and loathing. Still the dead bandits meant nothing to him so tough to be them.
Meanwhile Phaedra had been examining the leavers set into the wall. After a brief trial and error the rumbling of the main portcullis was heard from the Hall adjacent to them.
“Helllooo the Temple!” came a voice from outside as the stone gate and portcullis fully retracted. It was one of their own from Grimwardens squad. Mogar grunted a greeting as ‘Rats’ Magee cautiously peeked inside, his crossbow extended before him. “What the hell’s been going on?” He began “The dwarf’s been getting antsy for some information” he finished hooking his finger back to the tower where Grimarden had made the war-bands base camp.
“Many things have happened to many people” Phaedra declared ambiguously “But all you need to know is we are on the trail of our quarry, one is dead, as is one of our own but we have found… assistance as well. Lucius Singultus have you finished your work in their!?”
“Pah yes I have and a waste of good resources it was as well” The Sorcerer spat as he joined the group in the antechamber, apparently empty-handed.
Quickly the newcomers were introduced to each other and Mogar set off to see if Temerian and Felix had recovered from their beating at the hands of the Goblins enough to continue. If they were unwell still perhaps they should report back to camp and ‘Rats’ accompany the group further in their pursuit. Fortunately apart from the added bruises and lingering headache they could continue.
“So you flushed this Odo from her strong point huh?” ‘Rats’ commented after they brought him up to date. “Fair enough, sounds like shes a tricky bitch no pitched battles, traps and subterfuge every time yeah I know the sort. We’d best not hang about then, she’s probably preparing a warm welcome for us someplace right now and the less time she has for it…”
“Yeah I thought of that too” Joseph agreed. “Thing is this is her turf we rush in we fall for the ambush.”
“We must proceed with precision and alacrity” Temerian commented in his accented common Mogar and Felix looked at each other puzzelley.
“He means we go fast and careful” Lucius snorted taking delight in the simple ones confusion it seemed. “That hall lead to the main gallery of the Temple when we came through it some time ago. I can assure you there is little elsewhere she can go. But if we do not hurry she can double back around to where we met. From there she could get behind us and escape!” The sorcerer waved his still fire blackened fingers in the air for emphasis!
“Would bet on that Dark one!” ‘Rats’ grunted “Ol’ Grims got the place covered with archers and the rest of our squad. Had you not been with this lot and poked your snout outside you’d like as not been shot as well. She aint getting outta here any time soon unless you missed a secret passage whenever you searched the place last.”
“I miss nothing!” Lucius protested theatrically.
“Enough debate, I wish to see this statue you noted in the next chamber” Phaedra whispered. Somehow her quiet tone caught everyone’s attention.
The adjacent room was dark and gloomy with only the light from the entry chamber half illuminating it. Cautiously Joseph and Phaedra lit the torches on the walls. The a wrought iron bridge crossed a shallow stream on one side of the room while facing that was a commanding statue fashioned from a waxy looking stone. Its arms held wide in some kind of benediction the figure would have been comforting were it not for the very obvious fangs showing at the corners of its mouth! Grinning the Vampire looked down on them from a pedestal.
Phaedra’s knelt down to read the inscription on the statue’s plinth:
“Bathe, Sandlander, and restful
Ease your cares,
Til the Singer stills his song
Then rise to claim your wares”
“Huh typical cryptic nonsense” snorted ‘Rats’ “here do you see that?” He added pointing up at the ‘Vampire’s stone jaw.
“The Jaw, there’s a funny line to it, her hold this” He passed his crossbow to Phaedra and began clambering up the statue till he stood on its hip and grasped its oversized face. “Yeah the Jaw flips open.. I wonder…?” A moments work and the jaw hinged open revealing a row of perfectly formed steel teeth and a “tongue” of red velvet. Darting his hand in and out ‘Rats’ grabbed something off the tongue and held it up to the meagre light. It was a small silver Key.
Meanwhile the others had checked the rest of the room, the water of the pool was clear and shallow enough to paddle in; even for Felix, but was otherwise uninviting. Lucius seemed a trifle annoyed, perhaps because ‘Rats’ had found something that he and his erstwhile companions had not. But then those religious namby pambys would not have countenanced climbing the “Holy” Vampire statue Hah! Smiling to himself the Sorcerer followed the rest down and into the barrel vaulted processional vault.
Lighting torches as they proceeded the group marvelled at the huge arching vault of the temple. Every three feet or so a niche was carved into the stone walls, Some with a stone plaque inscribed with a faded name of some peasant, but many standing open and apparently unused.
“Should we open one up just to see?” Joseph queried as they passed another of the filled niches.
“For what reason need you to disturb the dead?” Phaedra replied Archly. Clearly not at ease with the idea though willing to hear any reason.
Joseph shuffled his feet a little uncomfortably “Weel just to be thorough y’know, just to be sure its just dead villagers and so on not a secret door or anything…” he said unconvincingly.
“One then, to satisfy your curiosity, but if there is nothing more than bones we leave it be – agreed?” The group nodded, even Lucius, though his acquiescence was practical. he could make no more Zombies this day so it mattered little. And besides bones did not have enough left for his magics to work with in any case! Still he liked that this cleric at least did not have such a soppy attitude to such necessities!
Working carefully Mogar and Joseph chipped the seal stone from the burial niche. Peering inside revealed nothing but a dry dusty skeleton devoid of anything save a dry rage about the waste. “Satisfied!” Demanded Phaedra staring daggers at them. Sheepishly they placed the name plaque back on and returned to the task in hand.
Meanwhile Rats, Temerian and Felix had been examining the stone floor of the crypt with interest. There was enough dust and debris on it to just make out some faint tracks here and there. That was the disturbing thing, there were many tracks and many different kinds!
“I make it mebbie thirty sets” ‘Rats’ stated disgustedly. To him they were a confused mess.
“Yes twenty eight in total” Temerian agreed sombrely, “some much older than than the rest, but four sets are recent within a day” Elf though he be Tem was not really one of those that spent their time gallivanting through the woods on the hunt. But still somethings came easily to him compared to these humans!
“Why do most of them seem to be my size?” Came the childish voice of Felix. Looking again the three of them saw that indeed the older tracks were child like or Hobbit like perhaps?
“I guess Orcs or orc Kin” Temerian declared after a further look. “Your kin do not use shoes as these do, do they master Felix?”
“I haven’t got any Kin down here mister elf?” Felix replied obviously confused. “They are all back on the mainland?”
“He means other Halflings!” Lucious sneered.
Unaware of the Sorcerers tone Felix broke into a happy grin. “Oh no! we like to feel our toes wriggling! Never understood how you biggers close off your flesh like that ughh!!”
Picking their away along the huge vault the party progressed to what Lucius’s map said was the mid point of the structure. Sure enough in a vaulted chamber with multiple spurs of passage radiating from it stood a giant statue made of wrought Iron of a skeleton Dancing on a pyramid of steps leading up to its plinth. The thing had to weigh tons, and was a master works creation, still un-rusted in the dry air of the crypt.
“Fancy another climb?” Joseph said winking at ‘Rats’ Magee and pointing to the things grinning skull face some thirty feet off the floor.
“If I have to” came the short reply “Check out down here first. Where those tracks lead?”
“Left spur” Temerian stated pointing with his quill. The elf had been making some notes of some sort.
“All of them?”
“Yes it seems so…” The elf mage began but he stopped as his keen senses felt something. A faint displacement of air from the passage he was indicating. Immediately he began a low chant of magic under his breath. His power was all but exhausted as he was himself from too much magic in too shorter time. He had perhaps one or two good spells left in him, and intended to make them count if needed.
“What is it?” Phaedra whispered to the elf. Still chanting he merely pointed sown the side passage. “‘ware!” she called to the group. “Something comes!”
Mogar dashed to the fore, readying his sword. Rats shouldered his faithful crossbow and sighted down the hallway, while the others assumed positions of readiness all about them. Soon all of them could feel rhythmic pulses of cold dry air gusting from the passage way ahead. Braced they awaited a nightmare…
From around the corner of the passage just visible at the edge of the torchlight came a monstrous flying thing. Some nine foot tall had it been on the ground the winged creature resembled a woman in some respects, and a monster in others! Huge Bat wings beat keeping the figure aloft as it approached them with a deliberate menace. Green scales flashed from its flesh while huge fangs protruded from its wide open mouth. Where its eyes should have been riven holes bleeding a sickly green Ichor gazed sightlessly into their quaking souls!
Rats snapped a shot off at it at once, and Felix slung a stone, but the wind of the things wings blew the missiles aside harmlessly. “Heh! Let me!” cackled Lucius as he sent a blast of fire hurtling down the hallway towards the flying monstrosity. Stung by the flames it let out a ululating hiss of rage!
Seeing the party had collectively let fly; though Temerian still was chanting some deadly magics, Mogar charged sword swinging.
Two black streamers leaped from the things eyes to envelope Lucius’s head. “Aiiee I cannot see!” wailed the Sorcerer as the magical attack receded.
Striding up to stand next to the Sorcerer, Phaedra raised her Shamans rod. “Crash” she intoned with sudden authority. A grey light coalesced about her words and wrapped the things wings. Suddenly without lift the monster woman was dashed to the floor, hissing and cursing.
Rats took another shot quickly before Mogar got int he way. This time the bolt flew true. But to the horror of all ricocheted harmlessly off its shoulder without leaving a mark..!
Temerian still chanted narrowed his eyes. He had been saving his last spell for their Quarry: Dark Odo but if this think shrugged off their mundane arms then he had no choice. Screaming the trigger incantation aloud he raised his enchanted quill to the creature and sketched a massive arrow in golden fire in the air. Immediately a half dozen glowing bolts sprang into the air about to him and embedded themselves in the thrashing creatures form!
Amazingly though now hurt the creature again struggled to rise, clawing weakly at Mogar as he smashed at the thing with his blade. But to no avail the creatures skin was proof against his plain long-sword. Nearer now he could see a familiar set of forms lurking just behind the corner from where the creature had emerged. Dark Odo and her remaining retainers at last!
Felix had faded back into the shadows at the first sight of the thing. After firing his readied stone he had been picking his way forward and also saw the bad women an Goblins from the fight before. They had killed the funny man Arvid, and that’s not nice he thought. As a Gor’bayen stepped forward to spear Mogar he stepped in behind it and slashed upwards with his hand axe.
Joseph had had a similar idea. Though doubting his sanity for getting nearer to the thrashing abomination he had sidled forward keeping to what cover he could and aimed a shot at the Archer woman he had met on the bridge some time ago. She must be some kind of chief underling he reasoned. Let the Wizards battle the wizard woman and whatever that winged thing was, he’s clean up the rest.
Laying hands on the distraught Sorcerers head Phaedra prayed. A stinging feedback made her palm itch. His malady was beyond her right now, his contrary nature inhibited her powers too much. His woulds she could heal but not this curse of blindness. “Lucius, you must focus, the creature will not be held forever by my spell!” she hissed in his ear.
“I cannot see where to project my fire!” He complained.
“I can help with that!” Broke in Rats grabbing the Sorcerers outstretched arm. “When I say go; you do your thing wizard!” the Crossbowman stated flatly. He couldn’t hurt the thing with his bow but his aim was still as good as ever.
Temerian felt light headed. He stared unbelieving at the creature that still lived after his most potent casting. yes it was hurt but f he tried that spell again the cost might kill him as well. Slowly in pain he unslung his bow and began firing arrows carefully at any of the foes that exposed themselves.
Meanwhile Mogar had turned his attention to the Other Goblin, he had gotten in a decent hit or so but the canny creature still fought on. Dark Odo peeked around he corner for a second her hands raised to cast something. She looked like her description alright but with one difference. She was now missing an eye, instead a green velvet patch covered the missing orb. But the remaining one had the spite of two in it still. She uttered some words and waved an arm.
Phaedra felt a moments drowsiness fall over her but she shook it off. Hurling a needle back at the Wizard Woman that was the source of their woes.
From his vantage Joseph took his chance. An arrow snapped out and buried itself in Dark Odo’s shoulder. If she’d’ve stayed still it woulda been her other eye, he crowed. Then suddenly a sharp pain wracked him. Staggering down he saw the sword in his gut then nothing as he passed out from the shock.
Mogar felt strange. Suddenly the scene had shifted. Just to his left he saw his “sister” against the wall with an arrow in her and some thug with a bow standing across from her drawing another arrow. Without thinking he rushed to her side stabbing the fellow in the belly as he charged to save her.
Felix finally dropped his Goblin foe just in time to see the the winged creature reach out to Mogar and caress his face for an instant before the thing again slumped o the ground as its wings spasmed once more. What was the nasty woman doing now he wondered?
Phaedra and Temerian had felt the thing power reach out. “Not again!” Temerian muttered under his breath. If he ever learned a way to shield from such mental deceptions he would surely try it out on the big warrior – assuming they lived through this! Having scant power left to render the man unconscious this time he grimly shot at the human woman firing back at their group at Dark Odo’s side.
Seeing Joseph fall Phaedra dashed forward. She could see the wound was very serious, if her powers failed her now he could likely die! Drawing deep upon her faith she implored for his fate to be extended beyond this hour.
Josephs eye snapped open! He felt.. weird. Like he’d slept for a week refreshed but stiff as hell, and where had this scar come from? Glancing about he saw Phaedra kneeling next to him trembling with exertion. “Oh” he uttered as the memory of the swords pain came back. Before he could say anything else the cleric pitched back on herself fast asleep. That was not natural he thought. Then he saw Mogar pick Dark Odo up like a sack of potatoes and sprint back around the corner, just as the winged monstrosity finally clawed its way back into the air.
“Fire!” Rats bellowed into Lucius’ ear. With a cackle the blinded sorcerer flung bolts of reddish purple fire away from his arm. One gout splashed across the winged creature and it glared down on them balefully claws outstretched. “Great do that again!” he shouted.
Temerian fired off another shot at the Archer but she ducked back. Steping forward she raised her bow, but before she could fire there was a buzzing snap and she pitched backwards. “That’s how you do it elf!” Rats staed as he dropped his expended crossbow and returned to Lucius’ side once more. Pushing his irritation at the mans manner back Temerian paused to assess the situation.
The creature was regaining control form whatever spell Phaedra had put it under. Mogar had again been suborned, and blind Lucius’s fire bolts were not having great effect upon the winged one. He had little strength left he must use it wisely. If only they knew what it was they faced!? Suddenly he forced his powerful mind onto his lurking Familiar. Perhaps the demonic thing had information on such a foe? He wrestled with its resentment and evil joy at the death going on around it and demanded it real anything it knew!
*Master…* its eerie voice echoed in his head, *ooh my master be not angry with me,* it pleaded. *I am but a little demon not half so mighty as that one.*
*Demon is it?* he demanded back at it. *Of what order, how may we defeat it?*
*It is of the Sul’uress the demi succubi my master. The seducers that fail their high lords are disfigured and cast down for a time till there masters restore their full powers* it mewled into his thoughts.
*How may we defeat such one. Tell me all ways you know!*
*Why by your mighty magics master of course* it began suavely.
*None of your honeyed words creature. The fastest way here and now. Answer I demand it!* Temerain thundered back at it. The creature dipped its head and its mental tone was almost cowed.
*They lack the power to remain on this plane unless bound to their summoner mighty and puissant master* it purred
Of course! Temerian reasoned. His first instinct had been correct. Had he saved his spell to obliterate Dark Odo the moment she showed herself then he would have killed two with one act.
*Not precisely master..* the Dark familiar began *..such creatures will fade away after the link is severed but they may not depart in an instant.*
“That will have to do” Temerian said out loud, “If I can muster the power to do it.”
Right got this underway the following day and resolved to work on it in chunks. As both Tem & Felix were away this time I arranged to have them sidelined for the session with a little creative licence. I was almost certain the Party would save them… Took a few liberties with the exact sequence of events but as ever translating rounds of combat to a story board doesn’t exactly flow so this is my approximation. Hope it scans to you all 🙂
“I don’t think I want to swim anymore..!” Felix declared looking down at the water filled room forlornly.
“If Dark Odo and her cronies came this way they’d have to” Mogar rumbled from the back.
“Not if she used her magic. Let me see..” Mused Temerian. Making a few quick passes in the air he conjured another floating disk of force. “It will just about take my weight or that of master Felix. If you then throw us a rope..?” he left the thought hanging.
“Yeah that’ll work” Replied Joseph with a confidant grin. “I’ll throw it to you.”
First Felix was gently floated down towards the stairs on the right of the room. Then gingerly Temerian followed. Truth be told the disk barely held under the elfs slender form but he was not going to admit that to the rest of them!
“What happens here?” a strange voice announced from behind them. Snapping around the group was surprised to see the strange sorcerer called Lucius had approached them from behind.
“Water filled room again.” Joseph replied eyeing the weirdly tattooed man. “Whats it to you? Aren’t you supposed to be get re-acquainted with your friends or something?”
“They are as useless as always; they are too soft! I could bear it no longer, and at least you people have power, I want some revenge for the inconvenience this “Dark Odo” has caused me.” The dark man shrugged. “I left them holed up in one of the bedrooms, so they should be safe, they promised to guard your companions body and that of your other quarry the Jailer fellow as well. I said I would tell you this and offer my services as you were a man down. They are in no position to be of any service to anyone right now!” Lucius spat with some contempt at his former comrades.
The group shared a look. This odd fellow was not one of them but it was true they had lost a man, and he had to be of some use if he had survived an ambush and evaded capture without help for a while. “It is fated he joins us” Phaedra whispered, a far away look in her eyes just visible under her trademark hood.
“Very well” Joseph agreed still eyeing the fellow. “Just follow our lead and make yourself useful ok?”
“I can make many things Useful, my mistress demands it!” the Sorcerer replied cryptically.
A rope sailed out and Tem tied it to a spike he had driven in to a crack in the wall, while Felix eyed the double doors with interest next to them.
“Very well you should be able to climb or slide down now… ” Temerian stopped mid sentence as he had observed the water begin to churn in the midlle of the room. “..ware!” he manged just as a trio of Lizard folk leaped from the water!
Two of them crashed into Tem and Felix knocking them into and through the door as it burst open. Momentarily stunned by the sudden ferocity of the attack the pair lay winded at the mercy of the Lizard warriors!
Not again! Thought Joseph, but I got something that will make them think twice about more coming out of the water. Wresting a couple of Oil flasks from his pack he poured them on the greenish water below.
Phaedra caught his eye and nodded. Shaking her bone wreathed fetish stick a small flame began to dance on the end of it.
Mogar wasn’t the kind to hang about when there was a fight brewing. Leave the others to dither and call it planning; he acted. Slapping a strap over the rope line he hurled himself down the taught rope to land right behind where the Lizard folks stood over his surprised companions.
Seeing the oil now fully on the water Phaedra sent the little dancing flame from her rod to ignite the lamp oil which began to flame and spread its yellow tendrels of fire across the surface of the scummy water.
“That is not a fire!” Cackled Lucius striding forward now that Mogar had gone. Raising his hands in a cupped fashion he pointed at the trailing lizard warrior still in the pool. “This is a fire!” With a hissed word reddish purple flame blossomed between his palms and a cone of fire wreathed the Lizard man and igniting the remaining oil all at once. The creature wailed and cavorted in the unholy flame. Till no one could be sure if it was alive or dead.
Meanwhile Mogar had skewered the nearest Lizard man from behind killing him instantly. The second made a half hearted stab at Temerian but its spear sparked off the Mage shield he had cast earlier. As his companion fell it spun about to face Mogar.
Watching from above Joseph cursed and grabbed his bow. “You had better hit something this time or I am making firewood outta you!” he whispered to the bow as he drew an arrow back to his ear. Letting fly he saw the shot whistle past Mogar’s ear and strike the Lizard man in the shoulder. “You get to live a little longer” he told the bow, while reaching for anther arrow.
Mogar took a half step back to steady himself. Wary in case it made another leaping attack, and this probably saved his life. With a ratting crash a Portcullis dropped from the ceiling directly above where he had stood. The fallen Lizardman was impaled upon its lower spikes with some force. Force that could have killed Mogar with ease. From the passage way where his friends lay sprawled a handful of Goblins came running around the corner, mostly brandishing spears but two held a large net. Cackling they tossed it across the Elf, Halfling and Lizard warrior from behind and began to beat them with their spear butts. From around the corner almost swaggering came a Hobgoblin captain.
With an evil tone of menace in his voice he began taunting first his captives then Mogar as the big warrior strained to lift the fallen portcullis. Impotently Mogar struggled with the heavy gate, nearly tearing a muscle in his back, but to no use. The gor’bayen laughed and taunted the warrior as he stepped away from the massive gate.
“Silence! Fools!” a strident voice declared in perfect Goblin tongue. For a moment all stared as Phaedra strode to the edge of the balcony and waved her fetish stick menacingly. “You interfere with Fate at your peril!” She declaimed. “Open that gate immediately!” Before the started creatures could reply she slid down the rope and landed lightly beside Mogar, her half hooded eyes blazing with passion. Even the Hob goblin leader paused in his mockery and took a pace or two forward to examine this strange woman that spoke his tongue.
Back on the platform Joseph replaced his bow and slid down on the line motioning Lucius to follow. But the Mage had another idea, casting a spell he scanned the pool, as he suspected something magical lay within its depths. Though he had no intention of diving to find it. A second more unholy incantation later the blackened Lizard man corpse twitched and moved once more. Ordering the thing to go dive and search for a prize the Sorcerer joined the others below where Phaedra was daunting the creature with her eyes and voice alone.
“I know not your “Fates” woman!” The Goblin sneered. “Deal with human fates if you will, your elf and Halflings fate is mine to choose!” he declared turing his back on the angry woman.
Slowly Phaedra raised her fetish stick and uttered a single word. “Kneel!”
Shocked as the spell mastered him the Hobgoblin fell to his knees, helpless in the Witch Womans grasp. Standing next to the Bars she reverted to her characteristic whisper. “You have tempted fate. Tempt it again and I shall speak another word: ‘Die’ and then you can explain to the Three who are One your impudence. Open. This. Gate. or die!”
Suddenly terrified the Hobgoblin craned his head back to look into her remorseless eyes. Daunted he began to jabber and shout at his goblin troopers.
Joseph could understand the fellows words well enough, they didn’t translate exactly to Common but to say he was about to crap himself would would have been close enough. Hurriedly two of the Goblin troops cam back around the corner weapons drawn. But at a word from their commander they put the swords away and called back to their fellows. Slowly some hidden block and tackle squealed as they hauled the Portcullis back up into the ceiling.
As soon as she could fit underneath the slowly rising metal Phaedra stepped forward and laid a hand on the still transfixed Hobgoblins shoulder. “Wise choice” she whispered to his large pointed ear. “Now take us to our companions, and I shall speak well of you to the Morae.” Allowing him to rise to his feet she motioned him to go on. His troopers still looking at the scene with deep suspicion, backed away from the group around the corner.
Lucius at the back of the group rubbed his hands together as the charred Lizard man Zombie dragged a chained skeleton to the edge of the steps. Sadly this was nearly naked and long despoiled by tide and death. “Go back again idiot creature!” He waved his arms at the Husk of their foe impatiently. Looking down at the twice impaled Lizard corpse he repeated the incantation. Hopefully the thing could still swim without the portion of its tail Mogar had taken as trophy. Two more useless skeletons were dragged from the depths before he gave up for now. The rest of them were following the Goblins, he could return for the prize later he reasoned. With his grisly servants in tow Lucius hurried after the group.
Passing a door, the group had moved along the passage way and been ushered in to the Goblins guard post. Ancient barracks furniture stood here and their in various states of repair. The weapons racks were part filled with added spears and small weapons. But more to the point the remaining two Goblins looked up from where they had strapped Felix & Temerian to crude torture benches. One waved a heated poker and said something to the Hobgoblin questioningly.
The creature shook his head still in terror of the Witch woman. As Lucius arrived Phaedra shared a look with Mogar and Joseph.
“Ahh what have they done to the little one?” Lucius stated almost curiously. Quite casually he and the more intact Zombie walked to where Felix lay bound and semi conscious from the beating he had taken. The Goblin torturer had not yet started his grisly work it seems. Very good he thought, now they can be indebted to me! With a flourish he produced a dagger from his sleeve and suddenly slashed at the Goblins throat. The short humanoid had better reflexes than that however. Obviously wary of the group and not having seen Phaedra’s intimidating acts the creature ducked away and swung back at the wizard with the scalpel it was holding.
Suddenly the whole group exploded into action! With squeeze on his shoulder Phaedra paralysed the Hobgoblin fully, then stepped around to look the creature in the eye. “This is your fate” she whispered then bashed the things skull in with her bone fetish stick. Grotesquely the thing remained upright under the spells hold while the skull sagged in place broken in two.
Mogar drove felled the goblin nearest to him with a sudden blow then forward to engage the One by Lucius. Joseph strode closer to to Temerains would be tormentor and kicked the brazier of coals towards it. The creature skittered back but burned itself on its own Poker as his tried to strike the rogue back! The last Goblin was engaged by the fire blackened zombie.
Slashing again with his knife Lucius foot slipped on the debris covered floor sending the knife tumbling from his hand. “Ahhh enough of this!” he cried and his hands swept up together in a cup shape. Another blast of fire incinerated the creature. The satisfied smirk fell from his face as he saw the table upon which Felix lay strapped was also ablaze.. Hurriedly the Sorcerer retrieved his knife and sawed at the leather straps holding the Halfling down.
Meanwhile with Mogars Help the other torturer had been dispatched and the Zombie held the last fast in its grip. With a mighty heave the Goblin was dashed head first to the unyielding stone floor. Its brains spattering as its skull was crushed.
Freeing their companions the companions bound thier wounds as best they could. The Gor’bayen had marked Temerian as a Mage it seemed and rendered him unconscious. Felix had fared only a little better. His head spun from the blows and while Phaedra’s healing hands took the pain away, the short one declared he needed a sit down.
“Stay here and look after Tem.” Phaedra suggested to the halfling. “With a blow to the head I would rather he awoke on his own without further spell craft. Sometimes the healing should not be forced.”
“Pity we didn’t capture at least one alive” Joseph ruminated. “We might have learned if Dark Odo had come this way..?”
“I heard one of them say that she had run past their post an hour or so past.” whispered Pheadra. “She cried they were to be wary of intruders but left no specific instructions to them.”
“She must be going to some other bolt hole then?”
“Yeah but if she goes outside the rest of the squad’ll get her good” Offered Mogar. It was true she had to be somewhere still within the complex most likely, as unless there was yet another way in Grimwarden’s squad holding the Base camp would have seen and likely shot her full of Bolts.
“We press on then?” Asked Lucius. “If my memory serves then through that far door we shall come to the entry of the Crypt where I and my former companions entered previously. You can go outside or to the crypt itself only from their I think.”
“We press on for now, not too far then we’ll double back to see if Temerian and Felix are feeling well enough to continue I suggest” Stated Phaedra.
“Very well,” Lucius agreed “But I think we can have some temporary replacements till they recover..” his eyes gazed upon the corpses of the fallen.
“More of your dead things!” Spat Mogar in disgust.
“They are not dead my friend” Lucius protested “I deal not in the undead! My Mistress has taken their fallen husks and gives it new life for an hour or so before returning their forms to the soil too feed a new generation! See here..!” The sorcerer pointed to a huge gash one of the “Not Zombies” had sustained. Inside the corpse was filled with white fungus like filaments.
Phaedra peered at the white tendrils with interest. The slightly musky moist smell of mould and earth greeted her nostrils. The wizard spoke the truth these were not undead, but animated by the rapidly growing fungus within. Likely they would not last more than an hour or two before it broke the shells of the creatures down. A strange life then but a living thing none the less.
Mogar spat. He didn’t care about the hows and whys of it, as long as the creepy Sorcerer kept those things away from him and in front of the enemy he could deal with it.
Peering through the door the party could see a large roughly octagonal room. Doors lay tot he North east and west, the latter wide open and indeed partly off thier hinges. Phaedra stepped up to peer into the darkness by the open gate. Then stopped short as she saw the bodies upon the floor.
Three corpses long dead lay their in a sprawl. Two had been hacked to death that was easy to see.. but the last? No the poor sole had starved it seems, tragic. Stepping over and past them she looked into the half shadowed entrance to the main Litchway. A gentle sound of running water came to her ears over the incessant low moaning of the winds in the crypt. From the doorway she could see a massive statue of a man with arms open wide. Something was inscribed on its plinth but she could not read t from the doorway. Looking at the mans face she saw with horror and disgust the over large distended fangs on the creature…
The rest of the group had been scouring the room. It seemed bare. The eastern door was blocked by another portcullis arrangement but through the cracked open main doors they could see glimpses of the wharf outside. Nobody could have come that way recently at least.
The northern door was tried next. Confidently Joseph squatted down to look at its lock, but no light came through the key hole so he tried the latch first. Somewhat unexpectedly the door swung inwards and he peered inside.
The room in its size was a mirror to the goblins guard post, but all the furniture was hopelessly smashed and reduced to ruin. More importantly as he looked inside three men standing by a far door swung about to look at him in surprise.
“Who are you!” the apparent leader demanded brandishing his sword at Joseph Pope.
Without missing a beat the rogue produced a package from his pack and held it up. “JP Couriers, I have a delivery for Dark Odo, you know where she is?” he asked his voice as full of fake innocence as he could manage.
“Dark Odo?” The man replied puzzled. “Never heard of ’em. Whats that you got for them anyhow?” He continued eyeing the box in Josephs’ hand.
“Dunno” Joseph replied with a dead pan look. “I just brings ’em I dint look inside that be-more-n-me-jobs-worth mate. So you not see the mage then huh?” Hopefully his companions would be at his back bu now.. But noo they were wandering all over the Hallway it seemed!
“Mage?!” The man replied “Oh we got a Mage in there!” he thumbed towards the door.
“Really?” Joseph relied interested. “Whats they like?”
“Called Amdor he said when we asked him for a service.” The man replied “I’m Venman by the way this is me firm:” he said indicating the two thuggish looking types still standing by the door. “We tracked him here after he skipped out on us without making even one of the potions we asked for! led us a chase through the long corridor out there and back he did, but ewe got hit cornered now!”
“I see…” Joseph began then noticed his own companions had begun filing into the room behind him. “… Oh these are my associates as well” he answered Venaman’s wary and quizzical look as the first of the group entered the smashed guard room. Quickly he explained Venmans objective to the rest.
“I can get that door open fer yer” Mogar offered tieing down his steel cap harder and taking a step back.
“He really can” Joseph stated confidently to Venman. With a nod to the big warrior.
Mogar charged the door almost head first. The old wood held for a split second then burst inwards. Mogar came down on one knee inside the smaller room and quickly saw a figure cowering behind an over turned table. The Mans brightly painted staff and embroidered robe was easy enough to spot, and looked nothing like the description of the Woman ‘Dark Odo’ they were sent to kill or apprehend!
With a cheer Venman and his boys charged into the room. Joseph and the others were surprised when a fourth unexpectedly rose from hiding and shouldered their bow and followed his fellow through the door.
Lucius peered in to the short but brutal fight in the small storeroom. This wizard whomever he was was out of magic it seemed and the four thugs were working him over badly enough. No knives but plenty of punches & kicks and repeated demands for “wheres our Potions!” Turing back to his bemused companions he waved them forward. “Gentleman and lady I suggest we leave them too it or maybe we use the distraction to our advantage?”
“What do you mean Sorcerer?” Phaedra whispered.
“Never fight if you need not.” He replied and ushered his coterie of Zombies though the door, which he shut behind them…
The faces of the others dropped open in an “O” of surprise; except Mogar’s. Maybe the wizard was not so bad he had a black sense of humour the warrior reflected as the sounds of threats turned to shouts of fear and rage as the Zombie creatures attacked all within the room!
And thats where I leave it. 3500 words is more than enough LOL But not so bad done in a couple of sittings. Hope you liked it. Until next time folks.
OK as I fell behind this may be a bit inaccurate as that darn real life got in the way of story writing (again!). I would appreciate the players using the comments to insert any edits as needed if I assign an action to the wrong player etc or any other general goof up. NB Absent this week due to illness/work Phaedra & Rats Magee.
Felix looked puzzled but didn’t argue. Tem had said he was a bad man and that was enough for the little Hobbit. Meanwhile may as well see what he had in his pockets – the rest of the room while he was about it.
Meanwhile Temerian had approached the shocked and shaken woman bound to the cot and freed her. “You have nothing to fear of us..” he said awkwardly; the human tongue did not site easily with him yet. “How are you called? How came you to this place?”
“I am Pinella” she began after taking a long pull on the water offered her. “My companions and I were exploring these ruins a week or more past. We were ambushed by some rogues and captured, at least I don’t thing any escaped from the five of us. Some are dead for certain, the sorceress had them dragged away and all I heard was distant screams. I think Paxon our priest may live still I thought I hear him chanting prayers from my cell.”
“Cells? With locks?” Piped up Felix, waving a bunch of crude keys he had taken off the cooling corpse.
Pinella nodded. “Through there” she said with a toss of her head to the western door way. “Vivlok would drag me from my cell to here whenever he wanted his way..” she burst into tears, and Phaedra sat down next to the shaking girl and wrapped her in a thin blanket.
“Go see to any others” The Hooded Cleric whispered. “I shall tend to this one, call me if there are indeed more unfortunates”
Happily Felix tried the door and he and Temerian stepped into the Cell block.
“Well, if that’s made of wood we could carve our way in if we wanted to?” Jospeh pondered as the three of them looked up from the waters of the underground river. His arms ached from climbing sideways along the rough walls laying out a length of rope on spikes so Arvid and Mogar could follow.
“If ya can get me up there I can bash my way in sure” Mogar replied.
“I can assist with that!” Arvid crowed rising higher into the air on his glowing disk of magical energy. He had barely got the end of the rope tied tot he wooden structure when the spell eventually gave way and he tumbled back into the shallow water.
“Thanks, go dry off” grinned Joseph shinnying up the rope. “Lemmie examine it first Mogar, if I can’t worm my way in I’ll swap with you and you can bash as bigger hole as you like!” good as his the nimble thief produced a crow bar and soon had a couple of planks free. Squirming mightily he wriggled into what he could now see was some sort of causeway or bridge. “Got in, but I don’t think you’ll fit Mogar if you want in then I’ll leave you the crowbar, see if you can make a bigger hole!” Mogar grunted and started to climb laboriously up the length of rope.
On the floor of the cave river Arvids ears tingled: “Arvid, this is Temerian, listen the spell does not last long. We have gained entrance and met and slain a guard. We have found prisoners, come join us…” Eyes lighting up the mad priest hauled himself back along the rope line to the edge of the wharf and the secret passageway.
“I think I managed to send a message to the others” Temerian declared to Felix and Phaedra. The three of them stood in a narrow cell over an unconscious man. Pinella was correct their party’s cleric one Paxon still lived as did one other. But despite her best efforts Phaedra could not rouse this man from his death like sleep.
“Good, we may need them.” Phaedra declared. “According to the girl there are two Jailers that take it in turn to watch the captives. Eventually the dead ones relief will show up we had best be either ready for them or else, gone by then.
“lets see whats in this room first?!” Piped up Felix reaching for the door at the far end of the block.
“Use caution short one!” Temerian urged, though he also was curious.
The pair cautiously opened the old wooden door and peered inside. The room was dimly lit by a single torch opposite them and was maybe ten feet across and apparently filled with nothing but smashed wood dust and other detritus. The trash had been roughly swept aside out of the middle section of the floor that led to the outline of another door. Idly Felix shuffled to the right and stooped to examine something in the dust. Suddenly a hideous roar like an angry tiger erupted from that side of the room sending the Hobbit skittering back.
Seeing nothing about Joseph helped the big man wriggle onto the walk way. He had needed to bash a couple of cross beams out of the structure to admit the big warrior. He had wanted to search more but shortly after Mogar began testing the hole for size the glow of Arvids disk had faded out, leaving them in the dark. A short trip up the passage had revealed an unlit torch in a sconce by a simple wooden door.
Lighting that Joseph had made his way back to assist Mogar. “Where the Preist?” he asked puzzledly. Looking through the staved in side of the walk way Arvid was no where to be seen? Mogar just shrugged, he was just glad to be out of the threat water, chain mail was not known for its buoyancy!
“Wait here I saw a door up this end, I’m going to check it” Joseph Pope (II) cautioned the big warrior. He had barely gone half way when he heard Mogar arguing with somebody behind him. Expecting it to be thier tardy cleric he almost carried on with his task, until he heard the gravelly tones of a Dwarf join the conversation!? Hurrying back he saw Mogar stareing down three individuals he had never seen before. Scanning their faces he couldn’t match them to any of the wanted descriptions he had carefully tried to memorise.
“Well why din’t you bring the wine then?” Mogar rumbled at them. Naked confusion stood out on the Dwarfs face and the other two (a man and a woman) looked suprised and shocked as well. Finally the woman found her voice.
“Who the bloody hell are you anyways! We’re not your servants” He hand was hovering next to her short-sword and the Dwarf already had a mean looking warhammer out and ready.
Joseph strode forward and projected all the confidence and swagger he could right back at them. “Vivlok sent us, you know he is go get some wine before he gets mad at us all!”
“An’ who is you mister!?” the Dwarf grumbled
“Yeah how you know Vivlok?” Asked the man right behind him.
“Oh we’re the new guards” Joseph replied coolly “Didn’t he tell ya? Oh well that’s all..”
The woman at the back looked at them with deep suspicion. “You all stay here!” she declared “I’ll go ask the mistress, you and Trob keep them in sight til I get back got it?” Her companion nodded, eyeing Mogar still with suspicion. She disappeared to the south back the way they had come.
Even odds at least. Thought Joseph as she left, lets see if I can keep them talking just a little longer…
“So you like it here?” He asked nonchalantly
“its sokay” the Dwarf mumbled back. “Underground prefer it, here but no like the..”
“Don’t talk with them till Runas gets back” The man cautioned, interrupting his partner. The Dwarf stopped and sank into a sullen, glaring silence.
They tried again, as the Dwarf was seemingly only now interested in a stareing contest with Mogar looking at the suspicious man instead.
“So whats Dark Odo like to work for? Not met her in person yet…”
“Huh?” grunted the man looking surprised “She is the mistress; nobody calls her by name, Vivlok woulda told you that!” He cried drawing his sword.
Crap! Joseph thought “Look out Mogar he…” But the Warrior never needed the warning nor the help it seemed. As the Dwarf dashed towards him Warhammer swinging at his nuts. With an almost contemptuous sidestep and kick Mogar dodged the Dwarf and kicked him through the Hole in the bridge!
“Your friend not so bright heh!” The Warrior smiled an evil grin at the suddenly alone human approaching him. Weapons clashed in the half darkness, and the man slipped on his backside. Crab like he tried to scuttle back out of the big mans way but took a nasty cut to his leg before he could get back to his feet.
Alert for any reinforcements yet reluctant to fire his bow past Mogar in the narrow passage Joseph suddenly became aware of what sounded like a growling animal somewhere behind him…
“Where is it! Where is the beast!” Temerian cried arcane energies gathering in his eyes as he prepared to blast the beast when it came into view. He and Felix cast about in vain looking for the animal but none came. The hideous noise seemed to come out of nowhere.
Eventually the pair realised that the “roar” was exactly the same over and over again. Niether knew a fig about Tigers but they didn’t sound so repetitive, even Felix was sure of that.
“It is but an illusion for the unwise!” Called a familiar voice from behind them.
Arvid Klerx stepped resolutely to the rooms edge and extravagantly waved his hands about. “See there is nothing there but sound and seemings!”
“Oh hello funny Man!” called Felix happy to see a familiar face.
“I am no ‘funny man’ short one. I am Arvid the Great, messenger of the five!” the Cleric retorted with passion.
“Where are the othe..” Temerian began to question the newly arrived cleric when with a crash the door sprang open: revealing Joseph in the door frame dagger in hand torch in the other.. The hulking form of Mogar was visible in the shadows behind him. “Ah! never mind” he concluded.
After a few minutes the group briefed itself on their several experiences. Arvid could not rouse the comatose prisoner with his invocations either. Frustrated the man stamped to his feet. We should seek out the source of his injury not fuss over him now. He declared impatiently.
“let me see this Jailer you killed” Joseph declared ignoring Arvids advice. Temerian led him back to the jailers room but inexplicably it was in pitch darkness, No light would enter it the mans copse shrouded from view.
“One moment I can rid us of this I belive” The Elf Mage muttered calling a specific spell to mind.
Meanwhile Arvid had gone back to examine the other side of the bridge, the bridge He had discovered from below! He knew the Five was leading them to the right goal and so he pressed on down the passageway. Mogar tagged along a short ways behind him. “You do know the one I wounded escaped back this way?” He asked the cleric.
“Yes yes I see his blood upon the floor my fine friend. It is no matter we should press on!”
A wave of nausea ripped over Mogar, and his eyes felt suddenly heavy. Shaking himself back awake he saw Arvid had apparently taken leave of his senses and was making a little Jig as he skipped and pranced down the passage way.
“It is magical compulsion” Arvid hissed through a grimace. As his involuntary steps carried him towards some kind of well lit opening at the end of the passage way.
I had best stop him, thought Mogar, If he gets into the open he’s and easy target. Out loud he called over his should to his distant companions “Hola! we are attacked!”
Temerians magics had pushed back the darkness now obscuring the jailers room enough for Joseph to see the disfigured corpse upon the floor. “yep” he crowed with satisfaction, “that’s one of them Vivlok, we’ll have a bonus waiting for us once we get that one back to the base..”
Temerian simply nodded, then inclined his head to once side. “Do you hear that?” the elf stated levelly. “Mogar calls us.”
Felix had heard the big mans bellow as well and the Halfling had scooted down the passageway just in time to see Mogar crack Arvid over the head with his quarterstaff.
“That wasn’t verey nice!” he called out accusingly to the Big warrior.
“He’s not in control of himself!” Mogar flung back over his shoulder at the small critic.
“oh never mind then!” Felix agreed drawing his dagger “Shall I help?” he asked quizzically cocking his dagger to take out a Kidney.
“No not with that!” Mogar cried in alarm, knock him down or something don’t kill him!” A harsh bray of laughter started to be heard coming from the the room up ahead. Several voices, and not all of them sounded human to Mogar’s ears…
Arvid still bereft of his own volition skipped into the room. Arrayed in front of him was a trio of evil looking Gor’bayen and behind them was an upturned table with two humans with short bows cocked and at the ready behind it. At the back of the formation a well armoured man waved a spiked flail with golden chains menacingly at him.
Felix slipped in the room using the involuntary gyrations of Arvid Klerx to shield himself from the enemy. In vain he sought a patch of shadow to use, but torches burned on every wall. Awaiting his opportunity he descided to just stab anyone that came for Arvid while he couldn’t help himself.
Mogar tucked his staff behind his pack and readied his sword and shield then cautiously stepped into the room. A pair of arrows volleyed right at him one skipping off his chain covered flank. Couching their swords two of the Goblins advanced to meet him. The Spear wielder edged towards Arvid…
Temerian and Joseph arrived in time to see Mogar charge past the two Goblins, his armour ringing as the surprised creatures tried to slash at his flanks. Stepping suddenly up and over the Tables barrier the Warrior smashed downwards on the Bowman cutting his head almost in half. Dimly Joseph recognised him as the fellow from the bridge that Mogar had hurt before.
Temerian sketched a glowing rune in the air with his writing quill. From a rent in space something like a fiery spike of stone spat forth to smash into the chest of the fellow seeming to command the defenders. The man was blown backwards and landed in a heap against a far door. Smoke rising from the hole in his chest to mingle with that of the torches.
Joseph standing by the entrance took careful aim with his bow at one of the goblins. Felix dated between Arvids legs just as the spear wielding Goblin stabbed at the helpless Arvid. Both Goblin and Arvid fell almost on top of the Halfling. The goblin dead Arvid unconscious…
Suddenly Mogar turned and with a wolf like howl threw down his sword and grabbed his staff once more. Barrelling forward he used it to crowd Tem & Joseph back to the rooms entrance. “Leave my friends Alone!” he screamed into their faces.
Temerians practised eye saw the compulsion and the agony of resisting it writ large on the Human warriors face. “He is controlled!” he barked in warning to the others. Inwardly he reasoned that the sorceress herself must be observing the battle either invisibly or mayhap via a spy hole of the like. No matter the grim necessity he had to take down his erstwhile companion or the Warrior might slay them all! A pair of smaller eldritch bolts blasted Mogar against the wall tearing at his body but sparing his life by the narrowest of margins. Joseph and Felix wrestled their friend to the ground and pummelled him into unconsciousness.
One more spell, I need one more spell to see us safe. The Mage thought wearily. May the fates be with me. Drawing deep from his reserves of stamina he concentrated as never before. The enchanted quill swept back and forth describing runes and symbols in the air that lingered with a faint golden light before fading: With a cry he proclaimed the trigger word and like a pent up spring his magics unfolded into a shimmering glassy wall stretching from the passageway to the wall some 20 feet, carefully enclosing the supine forms of Mogar and Arvid as well as his companions sitting upon Mogars chest.
An arrow sprang back as it hit the adamant energy barrier and Temerian smiled to himself. They were safe. For now…
Ok! Ok, ok that is IT. I know the session went on just a little longer but 3000 words is my limit in a single sitting! I’ll append the last actions of this session to the start of the next which I hope to do in a day or so fair enough? Hope you enjoyed it!
From the prow of the fishing ship the distant coast that once held the Sandlanders settlement slowly cam into focus. Three, well two and a partial tower sat in the mouth of what appeared to be a sea grotto. The captain steered the boat towards one of the two barge bays all the while nervously looking at the water about the ship. He explained that it was not uncommon for lizard folk to attack ships that ventured too close to this shore and that as soon as the troop was disembarked he’d retreat further back into the bay.
“Climb one o those towers..” he began “… light a lamp at the highest point and I’ll no to come an’ fetch ye. But I’ll not stay closer than a mile otherwise.”
“We’ll take care of that.” Grimwarden grunted squinting at the two remaining towers. The cranky Dwarf possibly assessing them for the most structurally sound.
Joseph, Felix and Tem began to examine the main doorway in detail. It was a large affair some 20′ high festooned with the Bone & flame motief of the local cult, now the once grand decoration was sadly weatherbeaten. But still traces of bright paint glinted from portions of the carved stone. Arvid seemed more interested in the western entrance and the rickety bridge leading to the coastal path for now. Phaedra stood in the middle of the wharf, hooded as always but seemingly watching everything from beneath her shoud. Mogar glanced about looking for enemies perhaps, and they all threw more than one suspicious glance at the half concealed and temptingly half open set of double doors on the seaward side of the wharf. The darkness of the temple interior awaited. But nobody wanted to try the obvious route it seemed!
“Ah hah!” came the cry from the fellows by the door. A small perhaps three foot square section in the doors lower right section had come away revealing a small compartment and a leaver. Fastening a rope to the leaver Joseph pulled it fully flat to the floor, and from somewhere to the east a dull rumbling vibration as of stone shifting could be just made out. Could it be they had disarmed a trap on the most obvious way in?
“Wait there is more inside!” Someone said as Temerian half stooped into the compartment and did something within. “Second secret door inside..” the Taciturn elf half explained to the rest.
It was true the back of the Leaver compartment had come away revealing a crawl space. “I’ll never get down that little hole” grunted Mogar eyeing it suspiciously. “Well maybe if you took of all that heavy gear you might just…” Mogar glared daggers at the group. Clearly the idea of taking his armour off wasn’t sitting easily with the warrior!
“I can manage easily enough!” chirped little Felix. The halfling barely had to bow his head to walk into the smaller space.
“What do you see!?”
“Not much it turns west and heads deeper in as far as I can make out.” he replied. “I’ll explore!” Without further ado the alfling edged into the small passage way.
“I can fit as well” declared Tem, the wirey elf dropping to his knees and squirming in after the Hobbit.
“I as well” Phaedra stated abruptly. The small woman also following Temerian on her knees into the darkness.
“Leave them, I have found the true way inside!” Arvid half cackles from the edge of the wharf. Joseph & Mogar stomped over to where the strange cleric was gesticulating expansively. “See I thought there would be a passage. Did not the local priests say the place was overrun after an earth tremor? The great Godz whom I serve revealed to me that there had then to be a crack int he stone through wish their enemies entered! We may do the same!” he said triumphantly.
“‘Cept we cant swim like Lizard folk” Mogar muttered eyeing the water filled rift in the grotto’s edge.
“You might not have to big guy” Jospeh grinned unspooling a length of rope. “I can rig up something to help you I think. Gimme a minute or two” Swiftly the rogue clambered out on the fractured and uneven rock of the grotto. Every ten feet or so he paused to bash a spike deep into the grotto’s sea weathered stone.
At the edge of the visible fissure he paused. “Yeah goes in as far as I can make out. Gonna need torches or something from here on in.”
“Go on nimble one!” Declared Arvid. “The Lord of light that I serve will guide our way” Recklessly the strange cleric sprang onto the rock clinging to the line tied to the rock wall. At the edge he paused and muttered something strange and a glowing disc began to hover int he air near Joseph and he edged deeper into the dark water floored crevice.
“Yeah, now I see it there is a side passage that heads towards wherever that big door woulda led I’d guess” Joseph stated squinting in the passage now illuminated by the Clerics light.
“We head towards that then!” Exalted Arvid.
In a few moments more the three of them clung to the rock by the side passage. Looking at the way the water flowed over the stony bed it was clear that the water of this passage was maybe 4’ deep only. Suddenly Arvid slipped and demonstrated the depth. Chest high the priests fervour seemed undampened. And instead slowly he rose upon his glowing disk out of the water and int the passage way.
“Look some crafted structure my friends!” He cried pointing up at what appeared to be wooden panels set near the ceiling of the fissure.
Felix snuck forward happily along the rough hewn passageway. Really this wasn’t much smaller than uncle Jeremiah’s closet he had hidden in as a lad. Edging up to the first twist in the passage he peered cautiously around the edge. But there was nothing to see. Still the crudely made crawl-way edged deeper into the side of the cliff. Behind him the quiet elf and equally Taciturn human woman toiled along on their hands and knees. The bells and bones of Phaedra’s stick making the loudest sound in the confined space… She never felt nervous yet she felt as if she was being followed, but she could neither turn nor hear anything behind her in the cramped darkness.
“Going south now I think?” He whispered over his shoulder and carried on. But only a few steps revealed the depressing site of the diggings end. “Looks like a dead end chaps – sorry!” Felix stated apparently unconcerned that if true there wee now two big ungainly types between him and the way out!
“Unlikely” Stated Temerian. “I shall look. I lie flat and you climb over me so I may see.” Obediently Felix clambered across the supine elf. Trying ever so hard not to laugh as he did so.
“Yes I see it, it was above your eye Halfling” the ELf declared reaching up near the top of the crawlspace. A faint jingle of a chain was the only warning as another panel abruptly dropped out of the wall to one side. Tumbling into the revealed room Temerain looked about. It was some sort of chamber. Not crudely fashioned as the crawl-way but obviously well made. But more importantly he now faced a half naked man who was turning about in startled surprise at his sudden appearance.
From one knee Tem took in the battered sleeping cot behind the man and the struggling figure of what seemed to be a female cruelly tied to it. It seems his appearance had interrupted villainy most foul! Observing the man flailing for the giant sword leaning against the wall near him Temerian brought his powers to play and a shield of force sheathed his form.
With an Oath the foul looking man charged forward and smashed his blade down on Temerians head. With an actinic flash the mage’s ward held and the deadly edge stopped short of taking the elf’s head off. Dropping into the room little Felix stared at the combatants. “That’s not very nice!” he said sadly “Why can’t we talk this out?” he muttered wistfully.
“This not nice man he hurt woman!” Tem snapped back irritated perhaps at the innocent Halflings naivety. “Be nice to her and stop him!”
“Oh Ok!” stated Felix drawing his knife and stabbing at the mans waist.
Tem drew his quill and sketched a symbol into the air. A moment later the pock facd ravager was sprawling back as two blasts of eldrich force. Shaking his head the warrior braced himself to spring back when suddenly he stiffened. Two slim steel needles protruding from his shoulder and neck. Silently Phaedra observed the dieing man before retrieving her thrown darts.
Ok close enough. To any unrelated reader. Yes they really have split into two parts. And no I don’t know how best to reunite them at this point…!