A snake-charming Naga assassin!
Nefarious NPC’s #5 – 195k
Rahua Vish, snake-charmer, assassin, lotus-addict.
Come morning I met back up with the group when they found their way to the Lucky Traveler. They put the iron chest and the bags of treasure taken from the Red-Daggers in my room and stand guard as I went to find Alchemist Ebaik who should have been in town by then. My plan was to rent a back room in his shop so we could split the treasure up in privacy. I easily found him and he consented to let us use the backroom for free but I tossed him a platinum piece as a “shop-warming gift”. My share consisted of 1,070 gp, 64 sp, 226 pp, 10 gtal, 1 star metal ingot, a single 1 lb. mithral bar, 10 large emeralds, 10 alexandrites, 20 diamonds and 5 large rubies. I was able to disarm the Deathbolt magic trap on the chest and Tweena and Dolus worked as a team to open it. Our eyes sparkled as inside we found: 50 gtal (gold talons), 25 large fire garnets (glow with their own fire-like light), 1 superior quality garnet lion figurine worth about 2,500 gp, a platinum ring with a ruby, a gold ring with an opal (both magical as I identified them) and a high quality gold goblet set with seven large diamonds bearing the guild mark of the White Star healers’ guild. My share of this booty was 10 gold talons and 5 large fire garnets.
The gear we couldn’t sell to Ebaik Tweena and Shieldmaster took to market in the end I got a 585 gold piece cut of that. Meanwhile me and Nami returned the goblet from the chest to the White Star House in the village and were rewarded with an Arch-Cure potion. When we met back up around late afternoon Tweena said she couldn’t unload a large fire sapphire so I suggested that we go to the Fertum lord. Tweena and Nami remained at the Lucky Traveller so Dolus, Shieldmaster and myself went instead to unload the gem and the lion figurine. It turned out to be fruitless and we were referred to the keep where the lord may cut a deal for the items. So by early evening we were on our way to the keep. There we were able to cut a deal handing over the items for a land deed. It was for a plot of land with a deserted old longhouse on it at the far southwest edge of town. I was able to throw down the majority of coin for the rest that we owed after the items traded hands gaining majority share of the land.
That night I began to set my lab in the cellar of the place which needed some work while Shieldmaster went to post an employment notice in the Fertum. I set up my fire garnets for light and teleported to the green tower snatching up the L-shaped table from the lab there bringing it back to the cellar. I then gathered 15,500 gp worth of gems and coin from my hoard and bought magic supplies from the alchemist’s shop. I planned on staying in the cellar, my new lab, for the next 19 days working on developing some new magic. However, the very next night I heard a thud then a commotion followed by an explosion which brought me up into the central chamber. A gunny-sack loaded with the severed heads of Black Hands members and I spied among the purpling gore the faces of Keenor and Ranknor. The room was scorched and I could hear fire bells sounding from the Fertum in the distance. The others yelled to me that a wizard was out there and had blasted the place with a fireball. The others became engaged in combat with a gang of ratlings that streamed in from the windows and the rear hallway. I teleported to the front porch and countered a spell the distant figure in red robes and an ivory skull-mask lobbed at me. A red-masked figure that had been skulking along the porch got up next to me and put his dagger in my back. Luckily I wasn’t badly wounded by his blade. I stepped back and hit him with an acid bolt and teleported away next to the red mage while Shieldmaster emerged, his dragonsuarus had leapt into combat with another gaggle of ratlings just around the north corner, from the longhouse and engaged him chopping him down. I disabled the red-mage with a Shadow Ribbons spell and stabbed him in the throat with my dagger; the one that bore Keenor’s mark. I twisted it a little hoping that he had felt it before he finally died. The battle was over shortly thereafter the yard strewn with ratling bodies. I stripped the wizard taking his gold belt with the ruby belt buckle as my trophy making a bee-line to my cellar after.
End of Part 1 of the Campaign (played between May 2013 and December 2013).
My time at Farmers’ Keep was spent first fencing the signet set, 2 rubies and the chalice I snatched from the green tower using the barkeep at the Merry Farmer Tavern meeting back up with Keenor of the Black Hands. Later I took my new funds to purchase spell components from the various shops and spent the next five days sequestered in my quarters formulating the Crown of Eyes and Lightning Bolt spells adding them into my spellbook. On the 7th day in town I refined a single dose of the yellow lotus for my own special use. The following day I accompanied the group on hunt for a wild boar that Drogo the ranger had arranged. The creature was apparently harassing the locals and killing valuable livestock. Drogo after we reached the outskirts of town was joined by his ‘animal companion’ a big freakin’ bear. Later I was able to glean that the boar was itself an unnatural creature and that it had moved on using the Commune With Nature spell. We decided to travel back to Rockhollow after that revelation. The trip was uneventful until we got to Farmer’s Bridge, the bridge under which the troll Blackgut’s lair was.
There at the center of the bridge were several ratlings dressed in red capes with the symbol of the red dagger on the chests of their leather armor. Drogo’s bear seemed perturbed just before we took action as if sniffed something in the air but naturally we charged the little mooks and found that there were hidden archers at both ends of the bridge which as soon as we were all at the center of the bridge engaged with the ratlings sprung from their cover to shoot arrows tipped with sleep potion at us. A group of thugs charged from both ends and four more ratlings leapt over the edges of the bridge form positions underneath to reinforce their fellow vermin. Among these ratlings was an apparent captain, a ratling wearing a red eye-patch and who proved impossible to hit and who got his dagger in my back once during the fight. I recognized him as an apparent companion of Blackgut when we invaded his lair. The bear was the first to drop from a sleep laden arrow behind which I took cover from 1 of the archers. I took an arrow but did not succumb initially to its toxin. I inadvertently damaged the bridge a few times as the ratlings proved very hard to hit with my acid bolts but I was able to hold back a few thugs using my Shadow Ribbons spell. Tweena was the next to drop from one of the Red-Daggers’ insidious arrows followed by Nami. Drogo was fighting valiantly but the number of enemies was proving a problem as we only managed to drop a handful with me and Drogo racking up the lion’s share of the body count. The last thing I saw before the second arrow I took knocked me out was Dolus leaping from the bridge in a desperate last dodge attempt to escape.
After a while I awoke groggy, hogtied and gaged but with my mask and robe still on. The rest of my hard won gear had been stripped. Just as I gathered my wits the door to my cell burst open and I heard the words, “Get the shackles on him!”
Luckily my abilities had expanded while I was out and I managed to teleport myself by the sole use of concentration. I wound up on the filthy sawdust strewn floor of the Merry Farmer Tavern yelling with a gagged mouth to be cut free. After the shock and amazement of the patrons and his own had subsided Flek the barkeep cut me loose. I hopped to my feet and roared swearing my vengeance against the Red-Daggers! Keeneor was present and told the bartender to, “get him a drink”. We talked and I pledged myself to guide a force of Black Hands into the lair of the Red-Daggers as he already knew where it was located, not far from Blackgut’s lair, but the insides were still a mystery. I may have bluffed a bit on how much I actually knew about the inside. Keenor handed me his dagger. It had his mark on the pommel, not that of the guild, and said that I could have it for now. The next night I found myself at the edge of town on the back of horse surrounded by rogues of the Black Hand along with Keenor and Ranknor the latter of whom had grabbed my forearm in recognition. I had only my robe on my back and the mask on my face aching to wreak my vengeance. We rode into the darkness along the road towards the river cleft.
We had arrived nearly at the midpoint of our venture and ran into other travelers on the road traveling in the opposite direction. A large hostile man riding a dragonsaurus and mounted behind him was Dolus. He introduced the rider as Shieldmaster telling me that he was an ally. That was when I found out that Drogo had fallen in battle bristling with the enemies’ arrows. The others had been captured. My blood boiling for action I talked Ranknor into letting tag along as we needed the brawn and he agreed. We rode on until we had to foot it down into the cleft traveling through shallow water to an undisclosed location (hey I’m a mage not ranger) and as we neared a clump of bushes we were ambushed.
We easily slaughtered the handful of ratlings which shot at us from the cover of the bushes and I cast Crown of Eyes on myself. We moved into what appeared to be a hidden stable built into a limestone cave then to the main door into the thief-lair, a bronze troll-faced double-door. Ranknor picked the lock without effort and Dolus and Shieldmaster charged into a hail of crossbow bolts flying through the slits in another door. The ratling thief made his way to the door and was able to pick the lock but triggered a gas trap. Fortunately he and Shieldmaster were not overwhelmed by the toxin. Four well-equipped Red-Daggers were on the other side. I paralyzed them all with a wave of my hand and the Black Hands following us cut their throats. Red-Daggers began to course through the place and a cacophony of shouting and the sounds of battle rang out. In this mass confusion and among the slaughter I grabbed two Black-Hands that were charged with guarding my flanks by Ranknor and teleported them and myself past a dense battle into the room behind. We came face to face with several more Red-Dagger thugs so I cast Mass Paralyze again but lost control of the magic. It went wild and paralyzed nearly every rogue within a 100 ft. radius of me. It took me 6 rounds to slit all of their throats turning the chamber into something like the killing floor of a slaughterhouse. Among those I slaughtered was the ratling with the red-eye patch. During my blood-rage Nami and Tweena had emerged from a side door having taken the distraction of our raid to their advantage escaping from the prison wing of the hideout. We reclaimed our gear and helped to clear out the rest of the place of Red-Daggers. We also took the opportunity especially in the personal quarters to loot. We eventually found our way to a vault filled with treasure but also standing by the entrance was a suit of armor with a troll-faced longshield wielding a troll-made axe. I immobilized it with some Shadow Ribbons and Shieldmaster bashed it to pieces taking the shield as his own against my advice.
Before we left the lair with our immense hall of treasure Nami animated a pair of corpses that she named “stupid 1 & 2”. The Blackhands took possession of the hideout a large force of them riding into the place as we walked out. I teleported to Rockhollow ahead of the rest and secured a private room at the Lucky Traveller. That was when I realized we had forgotten to lop off the heads from all of the Red-Dagger bodies missing out on the bounty on each!
To Be Continued…
After burying the bard Jesae our intrepid group of slayers carried on their quest to recover their buried treasure, buried atop a plateau on Hirok. They decided to make their way to the mouth of Sawback’s lair to see if the trolls were occupying it and if their treasure had been found. Vorwulf guided the group following the foot of Hirok to the cave mouth by late morning. The cave was intact and seemingly deserted the sound of water flowing from the cave met their ears as did the stench of troll mixed with the sharp scent of a reptilian origin. They sighted dozens possibly hundreds of small smooth stones akin to water smoothed river-stones scattered about most collecting on the shores of the creek each deeply engraved with a spiral pattern.
Vorwulf: “Well there’s definitely troll here.”
Grom: “What’re those stones? Are they magic?” He picked up a stone and his magic sense told him they were mundane.
Vorwulf: “Aw, probably some bored trolls sittin’ around carvin’ on ‘em.”
Since they appeared to be alone and were intent on charging into the cave the shaman performed the war-paint ritual and painted the faces of each of the adventurers in preparation. As the shaman finished up the ritual, all faces now painted, the others sighted shambling humanoid shapes stumbling towards them from the other side of the creek approximately 60 ft. away. Bers pulled the cowl of her Cloak of Invisibility over her head disappearing from sight. The others attempted to hide in an effort to avoid a fight as they could clearly see these were undead creatures with a mage leading them. The mage had an Acton bearing the white star being gripped in a black gauntlet against a purple field. The shaman stumbled through a bush making quite a racket while trying to hide (he rolled a Natural 1). Needless to say the creatures and their mage saw him. They began moving towards the creek in an agonized attempt to cross its chest-deep waters. The slayers could see that the enemy group consisted of the mage whom they could see now was wearing a black hood over his head with a red skull painted on the face, an undead warrior wearing a rusted great helm and a bronze pectoral plate over a suit of scalemail bearing a bearded axe in his hands shreds of shriveled blue flesh still clinging to his yellow bones, four half-faun zombies bearing sledgehammers wearing rusted helms and rotted studded leather armor, and five skeletons bearing battle axes and carrying medium wood shields with the same arms as the mage painted on them.
Grom and Kyr emerged to do battle as Vorwulf stayed back in the bushes with a ready bow and Bers still invisible began moving forward. The undead warrior with the bearded axe began to levitate and float forward over the running water while the skeletons easily crossed running straight through the creek. Bers engaged a skeleton easily smashing it down while the shaman called down lightning onto the rest their bones dropping into the current. The levitating creature moved towards Bers and caught her in its gaze, her eyes went white and she dropped to the grass apparently dead. The shaman was able to reach her used his Mithral Helm to cast Heal on her bringing her back from the brink of death (she made the luck roll not to be just dead but only caught a glimpse with her left eye which is now permanently discolored). Vorwulf shot the mage and stuck him good. Kyrahma charged forward to Bers’ and the shaman’s sides. The lich warrior, they now knew what it was due to its Death Gaze, reached down to touch the shaman whom dodged. The mage attempted to cast a spell on Vorwulf whom saw cold grey mists begin to surround him but he was able to shake off its hold and remained unaffected. The zombies reached the water and the skeletons re-emerged from the water onto the bank with Bers, Kyr and Grom the shaman. The mage was slain by a second arrow which nearly passed directly through him and Vorwulf emerged from his cover. At the start of the second round Kyr battled the skeletons and the zombies forded the creek. Grom pulled his magic mace gaining the benefits of the Supernatural Power spell from it (his spells for the day were nearly exhausted) and swung at the lich. The lich successfully touched Bers and she froze in place unable to move a rigid muscle. At the end of the round only two of the skeletons had been permanently smashed into dust as the group found that these keep putting themselves back together after being beat down and getting back up and the lich was struck down after a couple of massive blows from the empowered shaman the corpse crumbling to dust leaving behind the wretched armor and gear. It took two more rounds to dispose of the zombies and the skeletons. After the battle and the adventurers took account they found themselves exhausted and badly wounded. Bers however was still as stiff as a statue.
As they persisted in looting the remains of the undead and the shaman used his Clairvoyance (a cantrip for shamans) in order to try to find the warrior lich’s phylactery but got nothing but the definite sense that he had just given their position and identities away to something particularly nasty (rolled a Natural 1, again). They could all hear the sounds of metal armor, multiple voices and weapons being drawn from within the cave. The shaman then turned his attentions towards Bers and casting the Mystic Diagnosis spell on her he found that the paralysis was permanent. They briefly debated on whether or not to use the Potion of Arch-Cure that the shaman carried but in the end decided to save the potion. Vorwulf dug around in her gear remembering that she was carrying a dragon-metal Ring of Freedom of Movement from when he and the shaman had taken inventory of the group’s gear before this little venture and slipped it on her finger which allowed her to move suppressing the lich’s uncanny paralysis. The shaman got around to healing the wounds of Vor and Kyr. Vorwulf took down a healing potion in addition to that. Four 12 ft. tall trolls in full plate armor and bearing large two-handed serpentine bladed swords emerged from the cave mouth and charged the hapless, exhausted adventurers.
Behind the four armored trolls a human in full plate armor with a visor resembling the face of a roaring demon and a creature resembling the unholy union of a troll and a dragon in half-plate armor and a wolfskin mantle followed them. The human locked eyes with Vorwulf whom immediately recognized him as the merc commander from the battlements at Merdna (see Dragonslayers II Pt. 2). The commander pointed at him hissing, “You”, before he lowered his demonic visor. A troll attacked Bers and avoiding the blow she hit it with a power attack cutting it down. The armor split and burst open as the body within turned to stone. The other tow trolls charged and engaged Bers and Kyr. Kyr power attacked wounding one and the shaman cast Mass Bull’s Strength increasing the slayers’ physical strength. Vorwulf used a magic ability on his weapon to warp the sword of the troll that had yet to charge. The group fought the three remaining trolls as the commander and the half-dragon troll readied to join the battle. During the first round of the fight a troll was knocked back by the blast from Kyr’s armor when it struck her causing it to fall on Vorwulf who became trapped underneath the immense bulk of steel and troll-flesh. When it came to the second round the commander in the demonic armor and the half-dragon troll joined the fight. The felled troll rose off of Vorwulf whom appeared dead to him and attacked Kyr again striking at her helm who after parrying the blow struck at him with a counter-strike. The commander engaged Vor who landed a power attack on him causing the demonic-armor to glow red-hot. Vorwulf was forced into a recovery check to reduce the damage of a nasty blow from the commander’s claymore. Grom and Bers fought on as the half-dragon unleashed a blast of steam-breath with little effect and met the shaman in battle. By the end of the round two more trolls fell, their armor bursting unleashing gouts of foul blood as they fell into pieces of stone and twisted metal. By the third round the group was fighting the remaining pair of enemies. Vorwulf, the shaman and Kyr were on the merc commander and Bers was fighting the half-dragon. With every blow he had suffered the commander’s armor glowed brighter and flames had begun to wreath his glowing form with flames forming around his weapon. The half-dragon was dropped with a single blow from Bers and her magic axe and when struck the deathblow by Kyr the commander exploded with a burst of flame which burnt them all and reduced the Hill-Lander’s corpse to dust leaving the demonic armor empty and still standing.
Blood and sweat pooled in gauntlets and boots of the adventurers and their sweltering helms dripped. The group realized that they were “really beat down” and decided they had to get out of there far away from the cave especially since they could hear more troops mustering within. Grom and Vorwulf were again badly injured; Bers and Kyr were mildly hurt. Grom found that he had cast all the spells he could for that day and thus was “out of magic”. Kyr admired the commander’s armor and inspected it closely but without touching it.
Isis (Kyr’s player): “Man, I really want that armor! Its frickin’ cool!”
Cris (Vor’s player): “You don’t want that f@$#in’ armor. It’s probably evil anyway.”
The group began deciding whether to travel either to Ekit’s Watch or to Robber’s Roost. Robber’s Roost where they had really gotten under the craw of the Crossed-Staffs gang unintentionally (see Dragonslayers Pt.26) lay half a day even going at full speed on their mounts to the southwest. They had no news about or knowledge of the place since returning to Hirok-Nor. Ekit’s Watch lay almost half a day to the northwest and which housed the wizard which Bers, Vorwulf and Grom had bartered with over a year ago before they went on to slay Old Sawback (see Dragonslayers Pt. 26 & 31). Bers, as senior member, decided that they would go to Ekit’s Watch.
To Be Continued…
We found ourselves at the foot of the hill atop which stood the green tower surrounded by a high green hedge maze. Covering the hillside in patches were hundreds of yellow, purple and blue lotus flowers. Tweena and Drogo easily made it to the top by prowling through the poison spraying flowers but the yellow lotus is valuable to me and I couldn’t resist snatched a bit of a flower before teleporting to the top. The flowers convulsed and hillside became wreathed in a fog of poison lotus pollen. We hurried to the entrance of the hedge maze. Drogo entered followed by Tweena but I waited at the entrance doubting the place was not trapped or creature haunted. The topiaries inside of the entrance by a fountain began to move and attack. I identified them as a pair of Bane Hedges, magical plant monsters one shaped like a cat the other a gryphon. We made quick work of the creatures but not before both I and Drogo were scratched suffering the distracting itch of the toxic sap. Dolus and Nami heard the fight and walked from a side path in the maze to us. They had found the maze when they had wandered away from our camp and became lost within it for a few days. Tweena took lead and we continued on deeper into the maze. Her sense of direction was impeccable and soon we were very near the green tower leading us into the courtyard at its foot. She spotted an assassin vine and shot it with her crossbow. More crept from the hedge walls and we soon realized that they were all part of a giant single plant. I destroyed two tentacles with my acid bolt and Drogo was able to find kill the central part of the plant. We rounded the corner to enter the tower courtyard proper and I could see that the tower appeared to not have been built but rather grown. The group came to a sudden halt with Tweena and Drogo spotting a pair of Bane Hedges and an animated statue which were moving from their positions at the front gates towards us. The battle lasted for a good while the statue taking me a while to wear down with acid as I was the only party member able to remotely deal damage to its stone body.
After the statue collapsed into sizzling rubble the polished bronze doors to the tower opened of their own accord and we entered cautiously. We entered a large room with a high ceiling and a grand staircase to the north leading to the next level. We could see a bridge spanning the space above us at least a few floors up. On either side of us were locked doors which appeared to have been mundane craft unlike the organic/alien architecture and design of the rest of the place. We searched through the tower taking our time. We found the rooms at the ground level were just storerooms and found our way to a circular hall which occupied the second floor and two more store rooms which led to a circular stairway leading up into the third floor where we found a lab, library and scrying room a millennia of dust was over everything. There was a chamber by the scrying room at the end of a walkway a large statue stood and thus we avoided it but Tweena attempted to pick the lock of the door next to it which we later found opened into the laboratory and failed. The statue immediately animated and attacked but battle was curtailed when the statue pursued us onto the narrow bridge and the other four were able to overwhelm it and knock it off the ledge causing it to crash into the bottom floor. The bridge spanned between the library and magic laboratory which were next to each other and the large scrying room. We followed the staircase by the scrying chamber which spiraled up onto a well-lit platform attached to a mezzanine on the fourth floor. Sunlight beamed into the tower from above the top of the tower seemed to naturally allow in narrow beams of yellow daylight as it appeared to be constructed of living vines and leaves twisting up to a spire point. We found a room filled with curbed planters where dozens of mature lotus flowers were blossoming with a large green one at the opposite end and opposite that room we found a cluster of four more chambers, living spaces. We proceeded to the large stair we found on the platform which led up to the top chamber. When we came to a stop I fumbled through my newly acquired gear just in case there might be something useful while the others spread out into the single huge fifth level chamber.
I had six scrolls containing the Neutralize Poison, Mind Shield, Control Plant, Commune with Nature, Animate Plant and Purification spells. Moneywise I had 1 gold talon and 2 rubies. I was also carrying an alchemist’s kit, 1 bottle of assassin’s vine wine, 4 jars of magic extracts which were taken from a Doom Blossom, Gas Root, Ghoul Hair and Dragonscale (all monstrous or lethal plant creatures) and a glass vial of lotus seeds. I had all of this in a newly acquired gunny sack which also was stuffed with an alchemy booklot lifted from the library. Figuring I was duly equipped and seeing the others hadn’t run into any danger (my curiosity about the mage-corpse was also to blame) I decided to teleport to the foot of the steps by the throne. The corpse on the throne had green shriveled skin. It was wearing a green dragon-hide robe with a gold necklace and large emerald around its neck under the green beard. Next to the throne in a planter and surrounded by a glass dome was a black death’s head lotus, possibly the most lethal creature known to the world. After scoping out the immediate area and careful not to get too near the throne I teleported back to snatch up Nami to see if she could shed some light on the corpse as she was after all, a necromancer. She was unable to approach, after much prodding on my part, the corpse as it appeared to be surrounded by a force field of some kind. Drogo was meanwhile checking the side 3-walled side chambers when he tripped and knocked into a bee’s hive. He was attacked by a swarm of angry bees and 6 giant bees. A Deathblossom (yet another monster flower) was close to where he was and began to fight as well. I assisted with a Mass Paralyze spell to neutralize the bee swarms and blasted a giant bee with acid. The fight was long but only Drogo in the end was badly hurt. We again began to snoop around and then Tweena in a chamber opposite the one where Drogo had been attacked was snatched up by a tentacle. We wound up fighting a Greenvise. The battle was short with Drogo scoring the deathblow. I returned to the throne as all threats within this room seemed to have been exorcised. I studied the circle about the throne which I noticed after a closer inspection for 2 hours while the others checked the circular chambers behind the throne. I was able to learn the spell used, Impenetrable Circle in that time. I then immediately tried to cast a counter-spell to lift the circle from the throne and its corpse without alerting the others but failed. I then realized the corpse was probably not actually dead and was being contained within the circle especially after Nami told me the guy wasn’t dead. Suddenly Drogo smashed the glass containing the death’s head lotus hoping I could harvest it.
The marble statues in the room which we already inspected and which I had identified as magic but which were not a danger at the time immediately animated and attacked. I faced down 1 of the things by myself using my acid to wear it slowly away the other 3 lured the second statue tot eh ledge by the stairs toppling it to the flood below. They called me over after I finished destroying the first statue and blasted the second while they assisted but we were only able to destroy it after it had gotten back up the stairs. After the battle we decided to retire sleeping in the throne room careful to keep our distance from the black lotus.
During the night I spent my watch learning the Control Plant spell eager to use it come morning. When dawn finally came I used my new spell on the Black Death’s Head Lotus forcing it to allow us to harvest some pollen and petals from it. We traveled back down to the library where we were going to spend another day as Drogo and Tweena were still somewhat hurt and needed more rest. The door was barricaded, Dolus set a noise trap and I took the opportunity to learn some more spells from my scrolls. I learned the Mind Shield, Animate Plant, Purification, Neutralize Poison, and Commune with Nature spells. While resting Nami played her pan pipes badly and Dolus drank down a bottle of assassin’s vine wine getting knocked unconscious by its narcotic effects. Not surprisingly we all heard heavy footsteps just outside of the library doors shortly thereafter.
In the morning I cast Neutralize Poison on myself as I was still suffering from the Bane Hedge venom. After a brief breakfast of stale trail rations we positioned ourselves ready for Tweena to open the doors as she detected something waiting outside of the door. It was a statue, the one they had pushed off of the bridge. The fight was brief as it was badly damaged with me dealing the final blow. We left the tower with Drogo leading us back to Farmers’ Keep after a few days.
I sequestered myself in my room while I used the alchemist’s kit to produce 1 acid arrow and 1 alchemist’s fire grenade while the others changed our haul for coin. After 3 days I gave the acid arrow to Drogo and the grenade to Dolus. That done I went to seek out the town’s resident alchemist whom I easily found. His name was Ebaik. I approached him with a proposition to use his lab with his assistance to formulate an antitoxin for the Death’s Head Lotus poison. He agreed in exchange for some of the antitoxin and a bit of the black lotus. As part of the deal he gave me an 11th level enchanted ring of breath without air that I could use upon my return to the green tower. Unfortunately while we were working in his lab he made a critical error and poisoned himself. Fortunately I was able to find an Arch-Cure potion in his shop which saved his life. I sat with him for a while and just before I left him at evening he told me that he was planning to leave for Rockhollow in order to replace the alchemist that had been there since he seems to have disappeared.
The next morning I met back up with the group. We decided to return to the tower so to clear out the two rooms we had missed. Traveling we were assailed by 2 Dragonscale Plants both of which I was able to seize control of and 4 Deathpods, from which I harvested their brain-nodes.
In the tower Drogo kicked down a door which Tweena had failed to open and had broken her lock picks on. As soon as it crashed to the ground 3 flying weapons shot out and attacked him with an animated stone statue following. We fought a good fight I of course took out the statue with the help of my pet Dragonscale plants and their strong entangling tentacles while the others took out the animated weapons. The room was empty otherwise. We spent the night in a storeroom off of the foyer on the ground floor with my Dragonscale plants on guard by the door.
In the morning we went to an unexplored room, one of the living rooms, at the fourth floor. After we entered the room after Tweena picked the lock on the door the two medium-sized statues in the room sprang to life. I teleported further in to the far side of the chamber to a small table and chair where a silver goblet sat, snatched it up and while the others battled I found and identified a teleport circle at the center of the room. There was a desk in an adjoining chamber which the ratling opened while inspecting the room with Tweena after the statue was dealt with. It was booby-trapped with a Black Death’s Head Lotus pollen trap which the ratling was able to escape but which poisoned the dungeoneer. I used my only dose of Death’s Head anti-toxin to prevent her death but she did not regain consciousness. After I did this I noticed a gold and ruby ring in the open drawer which I snatched up when no one was looking. Inside was a signet set, 50 silver, 500 copper, 100 platinum pieces, and 10 gold talons which was to be kept in the group funds until we could divide it.
We set up for the night in the chamber to let Tweena recover. During my watch I walked to the lotus chamber protected by my Breath Without Air enchanted ring to converse with the green lotus flower. Green lotuses are intelligent, possess telepathy and can control any other lotus flowers near them. It didn’t have much information other than it was waiting for its master to awake and as far as it knew he had been “sleeping” for the past few hundred years or so and would do so for several hundred to a thousand more. I took the opportunity to harvest some yellow, red and blue pollen from the flowers. We traveled back to town the following morning.
At the outskirts of Farmers’ Keep I released the Dragonscale plants from my power after harvesting some scales from then as spell components. Later in my chambers at the inn which I rented for the next 7-day we split the loot. I received 2 gold talons, 20 platinum pieces, 100 copper pieces, 10 silver pieces and I kept the goblet, the ring and the signet set. Nami rented a common room for herself and the rest of the team.
To Be Continued…
The following day we found ourselves traveling being led by Drogo and battled through 2 raptors and 3 Deathpods before reaching the edge of Farmers Wood. We had been following tracks the ranger had happened upon in the place the guards said they had fought the demon. Drogo tracked them to the shore of lake where stood an aqueduct with the green tower behind us visible on top of a hill. It was late and we decided to camp at the edge of the forest where of course we were set upon by a Brownfang dragon. Drogo got the deathblow.
In the morning we found our new companions had wandered off into the trees and met an old fisherman who had walked by our camp on his way to the lake. He told us that the previous night a cow had been killed by the “demon” and pointed us in the direction of the violate field. On inspection of the corpse my demonological expertise told me that this was a fiend with a touch of shadow and most certainly not a full-fledged demon. With a sigh of relief I broke the news to my two companions and Drogo searched the area around the body to try to pick up a trail. He found one and was able to back track the prints to some old ruins in the woods after a couple of hours. The place was not distinct just some moss-covered piles of old bricks and shattered masonry with some overgrown old foundations here and there. The ranger found a cave the mouth of which was no more than a hole in the ground held open by the roots of an ancient tree next to an old foundation. Tweena climbed down using her rope, she was the only one carrying any, and had to make gymnastics roll to safely leap the remaining 20 ft distance after a 70 ft. climb straight down. I teleported down after Drogo made it to the bottom and lit a torch.
We were immediately set upon by a pair of giant centipedes. I slew both of the monsters and found that both of my companions had been paralyzed by the centipedes’ venom. I could do nothing but cast Illuminate in order to hopefully stave off any more giant vermin and concentrate for the next few hours to maintain it trying to wait out the effects of the poison. After about 3 hours both of my fellows were able to move the venom having worn off leaving them only slightly stiff. We proceeded south down a short passageway connecting the partially collapsed chamber that we dropped into to a larger room with angled corners. There were arched passageways to the south, east and west. The passage to the south was choked with spider webs and Drogo picked up on the “demon’s” tracks going down the eastern route. Tweena and Drogo decided it was a good idea to set the webs ablaze before following the demon tracks so Tweena went to light them with her torch that was when Drogo spotted a pair of giant spiders which we easily took care of after the webs went up in a blinding blaze of flames. After dealing with the monstrous arachnids our focus went back to the mission and we followed the tracks through the eastern archway.
Past a set of niches and the remnants of a pair of shattered statues the hallway terminated in an archway through which we could see a set of stone steps rising. At the archway a pair of old bronze doors lay knocked down long ago atop which lay a desiccated corpse. Tweena looted the corpse finding 50 ft of rope, a superior quality dagger, a high quality longsword, a battle axe, a waterskin, 5 days rations, 10 silver pieces in a rotting pouch, a crossbow with 10 bolts, a gold ring on a boney finger, 5 unused torches, and the corpse was wearing a suit of studded leather armor which was amazingly intact. We proceeded up the stairs after Tweena packed up the loot.
The stairs led up into an octagonal chamber with statue niches in the north, east and south walls occupied by demonic goat-headed and winged statues. The center of the room sank with steps leading down into it to a wellhead. On three sides of the pit on the floor above were sacrificial altars equipped with silver chains and suspended troughs leading from the altars with spouts hovering over the well presumably to let the blood drain into the well and to wherever that led. The trail led to the well and probably into it. Scribed into the curb of the wellhead was demonic script but I couldn’t decipher its meaning. Tweena was able to identify the well as an open portal to somewhere. The “demon” sprung at us from the well and after a short battle the ranger smote the fiend with his sword. He severed the head and we tossed the black rubbery corpse back into the well. I teleported back to the surface shortly after the fight with the length of rope taken from the corpse so I could pull Tweena’s rope back up and tie the corpse’s rope to the end before lowering back down so the other two could climb back up. We camped near the opening and kept a large campfire.
Come morning we attempted to travel back to Farmers’ Keep but Drogo got us lost until midday so we had to set camp at the Western Edge (of Farmers Wood). The night was anything but uneventful as on my watch, the first, a Carnivog (another killer plant creature) happened upon camp upon which I got the deathblow. On second watch, Tweena’s watch, an unnaturally large wild boar rushed into camp but got away and on third watch, Drogo’s watch, a pair of trolls attacked but we made short work of them mostly due to my acid bolt. Later the next morning we finally made it back to Farmers’ Keep.
The first order of business was to deliver the package; the fiend’s severed head, to Lord Phenox (Black Eagle’s brother as he was in dispose at the time) and the captain of the nobles’ guards took us to Haldred Jeanor, Black Eagle’s druid, to receive our reward of 1,000 gold pieces. My share was 333 gold pieces, 333 silver, and 333 coppers. We made our way back to the Merry Farmer. I bought food and spoke to the bartender, named Flek, about the Red-Daggers thieves’ guild and found out that the local guild was the Shadow-Hands who are enemies of said other guild after dropping him a gold piece. We sat in the tavern for most of the day with Drogo picking up the first round. It wasn’t until evening that Corfen, the captain of the town guard that promised us he’d buy rounds if we brought the “demon’s” head back, showed up at the tavern and declared to the drunks and soon-to-be that our money was “no-good here tonight!”
He had the barkeep bring out the “best” bottle of Hill-Lander whiskey in the place and we sat and drank with him. We found out in the course of the night that Lord Black Eagle had a bounty on each Red-Dagger head brought to him for assassinating his wife the previous year. Corfen and Drogo rented whores for the night and left for their rooms. Tweena departed for hers. I sat and bought more food as I was drinking light for once. Shortly after Tweena left and I was finishing my meal a squire sat down across from me. He introduced himself as an envoy of the Shadow Hands guild and told me the Ranknor had stolen an item from the Red-Daggers that they were supposed to deliver to Blackgut the troll. Needless to say Ranknor now had a 1,000 gp price on his head if delivered to the Red-Daggers. The squire, a disguise btw, was named Keenor. He said that Flek the barkeep would know how to get a hold of him (Keenor) should I need to contact him for any reason. Later I went to my room. We stayed in town for 3 days before deciding to begin anew our quest for the green tower especially since now we knew exactly where it was.
To Be Continued…
Jesae the bard (played by Rhiea) awoke in a haze and realized after a few moments that he was in a southern nomad caravan with a naked Stranis next to him sans most of his stuff (Rhiea lost her character’s inventory list). He only had the Ring of Invisibility, a few coins and his lute still on his person. He quietly vacated the wagon before Stranis could wake up and high tailed it back towards the tavern. He stumbled through the gates as the gypsy camp was located outside of the city ramparts. As he reached the neighborhood of the Hopping Rat Tavern he was surrounded in the muddy street by four well-armed thugs all with a black ‘X’ tattooed on their throats. They demanded everything on him commenting on his ring. He attempted to talk his way out of it but as he realized that they had no intention of just letting him go he activated the ring and escaped while the mooks were still reeling with surprise shortly reaching the tavern.
Jesae rejoined the group while they were preparing to move out towards Hirok to reclaim their treasure trolls be damned. While he waited the bard pined after his lady love and began to compose songs to her. Bers after a little while realized the bard might be under magical influences (he was, see last entry) as the situation was comparable to that of Dead-Eye when he was affected by the snow-maiden’s power (see The Dragonslayers Pt.18). Grom, the shaman, used Mystic Diagnosis to confirm it and the group searched their potion stores and came up with nothing that could lift the spell.
Rhiea: “Aww, f@%k me, f#$k me! Well, are there any of that guild, what’s it called, Whitestars in this town? No? F#$k me!”
After a while Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer decided to check to see if the coast was clear before they exited the tavern and spotted a familiar ratling spying on them atop a nearby roof. The creature ducked out of sight immediately as it realized it had been spotted. Vorwulf also could see, easily, that there were at least four Crossed-Staffs thugs waiting in the alleys across the street probably in ambush.
Vorwulf: “Tell Bloodspear we’re ready when he is!” The thugs immediately started mustering in the street.
Isis (Kyr’s player): “Woo-hoo!”
After several minutes 8 thugs led by Arvor Bloodspear were in the street ready to fight. Four of them were wearing leather scale armor with a warbelt and bronze bracers. The other four had on leather lamellar and had yellow actons over that with steel bracers on their forearms. All but Arvor Bloodspear were armed with iron-staffs. Arvor was armed with a fighting spear and was wearing a wooden chestplate under his yellow acton with steel bracers on his wrists. All had most of their faces hidden under yellow bandannas.
Gil (Grom’s player): “Man. Why do all these weak guys gotta fight us all the time.”
My Answer: “Street Cred.” (see The Dragonslayers Pt. 27)
Vorwulf drew his paired cutlasses and charged Bloodspear himself. The fight was lively with the shaman hitting a few of the thugs with lightning, two of the wounded pole-fighters finally being killed by the cone of force emitted by Kyr’s magic armor when its hit, a thug being burned to death by Grom’s throwing fire at him, and Vorwulf and Kyr getting tripped in battle. Only Bloodspear and 1 other thug survived into the second round both being basically chopped in half by Bers. Jesae even got a shot in at Arvor with a Forceball emitted from his magic bow, the one with a large emerald in it, given to him from the group’s armory. The battle ended and ended on a high note as none of the adventurers were remotely injured. They looted the bodies, or the remnants thereof and collected a few platinum pieces, gold bits (pieces of a gold coin often worth an eighth of gold coin each) and a lot of fliks (zinc coins minted by Fertums in order to keep economic control over the local area, often only good at the Fertum that minted them). Kyr and Jesae split the platinum pieces. The fliks and gold bits went into the empty strongbox behind the bar. Vorwulf smoothed things over with the angry shop owners whose buildings were damaged in the fight paying them off with 1 platinum piece each. After Vorwulf hung Bloodspear’s fighting spear on the oven the adventurers whipped out their map of Hirok-Nor and began planning out the route for the excursion in earnest. Jesae went back to talk to Stranis while they did this and while in her presence he wound up giving her all of the coins he had just gained. Strinis’ parting words to him were, “now go make some more money for our family.”
By noon they were heading out on horses sans servants or protégés who were left behind to watch the tavern and wagons. Just before they trotted through the gates Canohk the bard ran up to them hailing them to stop. He avoided eye contact with Bers and was brushed off by Vorwulf who said that they already hired a bard. Dejected Canohk frowned at Jesae who made faces at him as they exited the city gates.
By early evening the group had made it a few miles into the forest and was preparing to find a campsite until Vorwulf sighted a full unit of Hill-Landers patrolling the woods. He realized that they almost ran headlong into the mercenaries as the company of warriors was only 30 ft. away mostly hidden by the trunks of trees. The mercenary unit bore the standard which the slayers had seen before, a split field of blue and red with a spiked club over a cracked yellow skull. It consisted of 5 human warriors showing traces of faunic blood, 5 faunic warriors, a single Hill-Giant being led by a commander baring the traces of both a faunic and Hill-Giant heritage. The fight was very brief only lasting a single round and ending before all of the mercs even got their first turns. Almost all of them including the giant were transformed into chickens by Grom, a single unfortunate human warrior was cut down by Bers splattering Kyr with blood and gore and the remaining 5 fauns ran away into the woods heading east, the same direction in which the adventurers were traveling. Grom collected 3 of the chickens intending to make dinner of them.
They looted the lone corpse and went through the gear that the victims of Grom’s magic had left behind. A little while later they had settled down in a well-hidden campsite which Vorwulf had searched out and took turns at watch. The night was uneventful on two of the three watches but on the second watch, Kyr’s watch, she caught sight of a man-sized raven flying overhead through the trees. She thought she could hear a faint screaming as it passed then a silk slipper dropped from above to the ground. She woke the group and climbed a tree sighting that the over-sized raven had flown in the direction of a tower from which she could see lights in the distance almost directly north of them. Vorwulf and Grom figured it was Ekit’s Watch where there was a wizard which they had dealt with once before. They shrugged their shoulders and went back to sleep.
The next day at late morning the group while nearing the southernmost slopes of Hirok sighted 12 ft. tall trolls in full plate armor waiting behind a copse of trees possibly in ambush about 50 ft away through the trees. All of the trolls had great helms on their heads and were bearing giant-sized serpentine bladed great swords. Kyr dismounted in preparation to fight and the lead troll charged rushing through splintering trees directly at the still mounted Jesae. The troll struck him with a natural 20 slashing the little bard and his mount in two.
Rheia: “F*@k me! I got f#$king disemboweled! F*@k me!”
Vorwulf dismounted and Bers deactivated her Ring of Phantom Mount, the phantasmal horse under her disappearing landing her on her feet. Grom called down lightning onto 3 of the trolls dealing some damage. A second troll charged the shaman who parried its powerful blow getting locked into a clinch his magic steel buckler versus its crooked blade. A third troll charged Bers and struck her with a massive blow of natural 20 she dropped almost dead (by 1 pt.) to the ground bleeding everywhere.
Grom let go of his buckler which was thrown away by the troll’s blade and he used a magic ability on his mithral helm to cast Heal on Bers healing her wounds (save for 5 Hit Points). Vorwulf got struck with a critical blow and was hideously wounded but was able to active his Boots of Fleet of Foot.
Cris: “I’m gonna f#^k these guys up!”
Kyr was forced into a recovery check to reduce the damage and the shaman quickened a healing spell to help her. The shaman when parrying another sword blow used his battle magic (a magic feat) to try to transform the trolls into chickens but the monsters’ armor began to glow seemingly protecting them completely from the spell. The rest of the round was spent avoiding blows or taking a fair amount of damage while Vorwulf danced around the trolls unleashing a rain of paired weapons blows and power attacks dropping two of the trolls. The second round began with Kyr striking out with a power attack facing off with one of the trolls in single combat. The shaman cast Mass Bull’s Strength reinforcing all of the adventurers and by the end of the first turn Bers leapt back to her feet. Kyr went into a berserker rage and Bers dropped 1 of the remaining trolls. The last which Kyr was engaged with in battle was killed by Vorwulf which had to flee with a blindly raging Kyrahma on his heels. Fortunately the duration of Kyr’s rage expired at the exact same time as the duration of Vorwulf’s boots.
The remains of the trolls were scattered about and the armor unrecoverable as it had been torn to scrap when hacked-open by the adventurers on the deathblows when the sun turned the flesh of the trolls into stone. The group of dragon-slayers surveyed the scene and gathered up the remains of the bard and his gear and buried him near a tree on which they carved his epitaph.
Vorwulf: “We’re gonna have to deliver the bad news to our bar-wench when we get back.”
To Be Continued…