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The Dragonslayers II Pt. 11: Dragon Bones

A few hours after splitting from the army on a recruiting mission among the farms just south of Merdna the slayers were traipsing through a wild field crowded with high grasses and peppered with clumps of woody bushes. The land was eerily quiet, no sounds of any birds. In fact, they had not seen any birds in the area since shortly after breaking away from the main force of Vorahd’s army. That was when the stench of troll and rotting flesh invaded their noses and the nerve grating buzz of flies seeped into their ears.

They slowed and continued stealthily ahead until a large corpse, the grey oozing bloated remains of a troll rotting in the sun came into view lying among the grass and weeds, then another, and another, and another. The flies grew thick and hovered in great buzzing masses about the eight blubbery corpses and swept over the field in sickening black waves. As the slayers moved through the gross masses flies began to crawl up their noses, gather on their lips and they could feel them pop and crunch as they got under their armor and clothes. The cacophonous buzz became deafening and the slayers began to run through the swirling clouds of flies. While running Vorwulf and Bers saw vague humanoid shapes and ephemeral sneering faces take mercurial form in the constantly shifting masses. Grom caught sight of them also and, after a successful spirit lore skill check, guessed that they were malignant spirits which were assembling gestalt bodies from the fly-swarms. As the other two continued to run at top speed he stopped and raising his arms, rebuked the spirits. The malignant spirits fled and the flies not blanketing the troll-bodies soon after began to scatter. The three continued on to the farms reaching them within the hour.

They approached the farms careful to make sure they were seen as they could see the farmers at the nearest stead were armed and bearing javelins behind a makeshift bulwark consisting of stakes studded logs and a shallow defensive ditch surrounding the central cabin. Grom walked ahead and was able to act the diplomat allowing the slayers to recruit 20 farmers armed with wooden round shields, short spears, 2 javelins apiece and a battle axe on their belts. The shaman “blessed them welcoming them into the company”. The group returned to the army whom they met on the road 2 hours later.

Vorwulf took up the lead and accidentally followed a game trail leading the army off of the road and into the Aeoch Woods west of the South Road. He realized his mistake when he came upon an ancient monolith at sundown. The slayers and the army set camp, all save Rock-Puncher kept their distance from the monolith. After the camp fires were started the shaman began to cook up a stew consisting of a few dead chickens, he pulled them out of his Bag of Holding, and the wheel of cheese he had taken from Ekit’s Watch of which some of the soldiers partook of. The farmers had their own rations.

Just before dawn the woods were silent save for the army which lay sleeping around smoldering embers except for a couple of guards, a symphony of snores drifted over the camp. Marshal Rock-Puncher lay propped up against the monolith. An ear-shattering roar ripped through the air rousing all except for Grom, the shaman, whom due to his newly acquired deafness remained peacefully unawares. Another roar ripped through the air and Vorwulf identified it as a dragon and as the roar seemed to originate several miles to the south he assumed it was the zombie dragon sieging Achoran. Vorwulf went hunting while the camp sprung back to life intent on getting fresh meat for breakfast. They broke camp shortly after he came back empty handed telling a tale of running into a Chaos Boar. He avoided it by hiding then fled back to camp.

By nightfall Vorahd’s army reached the South Road-High West Road fork where they set camp. Bers tried to seduce a strapping young farmer tempting him with a bottle of fine wine (taken from Ekit’s Watch) but he ultimately drank the wine with her and fled her tent shortly thereafter. During the night as all the slayers slept the fighter-lich haunted their dreams once again fortunately all successfully resisted the constitution drain.

By late the next morning the army had traveled to the town of Marnez marching into the surrounding fields which were a patchwork of fences, fallow fields, tall late season crops of grain all crisscrossed by irrigation ditches. The town’s arms consisted of a golden wheat stalk against a brown field which was painted on most of the buildings that squatted along the main street. The slayers were told just before they entered town that they would be scouting the Low West Road which went southeast along the bank of the Arz river to the South Road Bridge which crossed the Arz to make sure it was safe and clear. The slayers decided to “lunch” in Marnez before heading out. Later just as they were leaving town Bers had to talk the shaman out of buying dozens of chickens getting him to settle for 3, which he put into his Bag of Holding.

Following the Low West Road they, being Bers and Grom led by Vor, reached the bridge by evening. Vor spotted a trail of large clawed footprints which he identified as those of a dragon, a skeletal dragon apparently coming from the water near the bridge heading towards the forest lien then turning back towards the water. He knew they were less than 24 hours old. Vorwulf found a well hidden camping spot in the tree-line. The shaman took the first watch while Bers took the second and Vor the third.

The night passed quietly, again too quietly for the first 2 watches. On the third Vorwulf caught sight of the skeletal rising form the river waters and slinking unnaturally quiet towards the campsite. He shouted the alarm and the other two sprang to action. The battle didn’t last long with Bers getting in 3 power attacks the third smashing the creature to powder. Only the shaman was slightly wounded having been bitten as he engaged it with his magic mace. At sunrise the group returned to Marnez to report the way cleared arriving by midmorning.

They found Lord Vorahd and his jarl were only able to recruit 4 warriors from Marnez whom were armed with round wood shields, battle axes and wearing leather jerkins with the golden stalk embroidered on the chests. The slayers purchased supplies of dried fish, a few casks of ale, and wheels of bread for the road. By the afternoon the army was marching out of Marnez south along the Low West Road. The army set camp by the bridge at the tree-line.

By late the next morning the slayers again found themselves sent on a scouting-slash-recruiting mission. They were to push ahead of the army and then travel off of the road heading east into the north-receding tree-line of the Aeoch Woods where they would find a woodsmen’s camp. It could’ve gone better. The slayers made it easily to the camp after only a few hours and Vorwulf announced their intentions to the woodcutters whom met them with shields and axes. He found that the foreman, Forgax, an older man, was reluctant to commit and was essentially bluffing them when he said, “We’ll meet the army in a few days at Asternor”. So Bers tried to intimidate the woodcutters into following them which did not go over well.

Vorwulf (trying to smooth this over): “We don’t want to kill all of you.”

Strangely enough, this seemed to work as his statement gave them enough pause to look over the very experienced and very well-equipped dragon-slayers more thoroughly. Grom jumped in and helped to disarm the situation with a Social Aptitude skill check of natural 20.

Vorwulf: “A few days then.”

The slayers slunk back to the road and Vorahd’s army with Grom gathering various herbs and roots along the way.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 10: Trial By Combat!

The early morning sun streaked through the windows of the Hopping Rat tavern gilding the damp taproom which still stunk of spilt ale and worse things with lazy gold. The only two figures amongst the tables and empty mugs were Kyr sitting on a bench by the door and the shaman Grom who was busy putting war-paint on her face.

Isis (Kyr’s Player): “I’m so pumped!”

A few minutes later with the full of the morning sun blazing down on the scene, Kyr entered the ring formed by members of the Coiled Serpent berserker coven in the middle of the muddy street. She faced off with Andracor, a young Coiled Serpent berserker with shaven head. Both were completely nude lacking all else save the war-paint on their faces. Her face was painted yellow with diagonal red streaks and black rimming the eyes and lips. His face was speckled green and blue with bright yellow around the eyes and black along the lips.

Andracor immediately charged, foam bursting from between his black lips, missing with a wild swing at Kyr’s head. Kyr instantly exploded into a screaming rage and snapped at his arm with her sharpened teeth but was easily slapped away. He followed with a vicious punch to her guts and she took the opportunity to bite a chunk from his shoulder barely missing his neck and the carotid artery. He snatched her up in his knotted arms and began to crush her, compressing her ribs; she in turn sank her teeth into his forearm to the bone. Blood and filthy mud flew and spattered onto the roaring crowd as the fighters grappled. Kyr broke free of Andracor’s rib-cracking bear-hug and tried to snatch him up in turn but was instead forced to parry a kick to the stomach. She managed to grab onto him and bite into his shoulder as hard as she could, him head-butting her to keep her from locking her teeth onto his flesh. She landed a tooth-crunching power-punch to his face and his counter went wild missing completely. She followed up with another power-punch but he parried, ducked under her blow and let loose a shot at her jaw. She knocked his fist aside just in time to parry another kick aimed at her stomach. Both were badly injured and bleeding and covered in mud. Andracor threw an overhand swing, was parried and then Kyr jumped forward for another hard bite at his throat. He threw a fist at her face in an attempt to stop her attack. Her nose splattered but her teeth still clamped onto the mark tearing his throat open. Torrents of hot blood gushed everywhere. The young berserk fell limply into the mud. Still in a blind rage Kyrahma leapt atop the corpse and rained fists into its skull peppering the dark mud with white teeth until her rage faded into exhaustion.

Jen (to Isis): “Oh No! You’re sweating! And your face is all RED!”

Isis (Kyr’s Player): “Yeah and I’m breathing hard too!”

Jen (to Isis): “Maybe you shouldn’t play this game!”

Isis: “No man no! I’m fine, she survived! I thought I was gonna die but whew! I did it!”

Jen: “Jeesh!”

The Coiled Serpents left their be-shamed brother’s body in the street and dispersed with the crowd. Vorwulf was annoyed that he couldn’t find any ‘action’ during the fight and the shaman had remained in the Hopping Rat after painting Kyr’s face to converse with a young shaman apparently another vagabond of the Ogtra who had shown up late the previous night. The army of Lord Vorahd was preparing to move out by at least noontime so the slayers, after Kyr’s trial by combat, prepared their kits for travel.

The shaman introduced Og to the group a little while later telling them he was another errant shaman of his tribe, the Ogtra tribe from the far north. Og was going to wait for Grom to return and stay in the tavern with Drasknor, Vorwulf’s protégé. By early afternoon they marched out. The army marched along the South Road on their way to Marnez, a farming community on the banks of the Arz River a tributary of the more southerly and much larger Nirix River. From there Lord Vorahd planned on heading to the city of Asternor along the Low West Road which followed the northern banks of the Arz and then Nirix rivers. It was figured that it should take the force of forty-one men plus the slayers 2 days to reach the South Road/High-West Road Fork about 4 miles north-east of Marnez.

A few miles outside the palisades of Merdna just as the tree-line of the Aeoch woods came into view the slayers, as the army’s sole scouting force, was commanded east-north-east towards the farmsteads there to recruit all able-bodied men while the main force continued south on the road. Kyr would remain behind with the main force as she was still badly hurt not to mention she was also busy stringing the teeth she had picked out of the mud into a necklace. The remaining 3 slayers broke away, rushed into the bush and quickly disappeared into the high, green grass.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 9: Rock Puncher

The slayers were up at dawn with the idea in their heads that the wizard must have had a secret way to get into the nearby dragon’s lair from the tower. After breakfast they found themselves in the storeroom and began their search. They found the front door completely destroyed and so irreparable. The wellhead then caught their attentions for some reason and Vorwulf and Kyr took turns inspecting it being lowered in and pulled up via Vor’s rope. Vorwulf got dowsed when he kicked at some loose stones in the oozing well-wall through the gaps of which foul waters were seeping. The wall had burst and a gush of dragon-tainted waters had inundated him.

Vorwulf (covered in slime and stinking of dragon): “Well, the waters are definitely flowing from Sawback’s lair.”

He could see no way from the well into the lair and so after a few hours they gave that idea up and lounged around the rest of the day determined to leave for the city of Merdna at sunrise.

During the night on second watch Bers had caught sight of the flames of battle in a clearing south of the tower. She saw Hill-Lander mercenaries retreating to the west and lots of large bodies and many more smaller troops moving slow and weird among them. Later on third watch Vorwulf was determined to keep an eye on the field from which now they could see no active fires as before. He took out his spyglass and scoped over the clearing. He saw several undead stumbling about and a decidedly human mage dressed in crimson with a red-hood over his face occasionally stopping and stooping over the bodies that lay in the field. While he was sweeping over the field Vorwulf met eyes with a fighter lich which was floating lazily and aimlessly about. He recognized it as the same fighter-lich that they had bested at the mouth of Sawback’s lair and which now haunted their dreams. If it had had lips he could’ve sworn it was smiling at him. The mage and lich were busy animating the war-dead. Just before dawn the battle field lay empty.

They packed their gear that morning after breakfast. The shaman commanded the chests to walk down from the top floor but found that they were too slow to take on the road with him and so decided to command them into the oubliette into which they obediently thudded. After exiting the tower they predictably found that their mounts which they had left tied at the bottom of the steps several days ago were missing. So they continued on foot.

Grom the shaman: “Crap! I just realized I don’t know how I’m gonna get those chests back out of there!”

They walked at a speedy pace headed directly east running into a farm immediately after breaking the tree-line of Nor-forest. They approached a farmer, who emerged from the farm compound to meet them armed with a round-shield and axe. He told them troops had moved west towards Ekit’s Watch last evening but there was no other news besides that. The girls whom the slayers had rescued ran into the farm compound and the farmer that the group was speaking to seemed to recognize them as they swept past him. He turned towards the slayers with a hardened expression and eyes filled with suspicion so they moved on.

They quickly made the road and a couple of hours later they ran into a large group of refugees fleeing the fertum. They were all in various stages of the fever which Grom had cured in Merdna (see the Dragonslayers II: Part 3 – The Hopping Rat). The adventurers also noted with some melancholy that they had no children with them. When questioned, the refugees told them that most of the warriors and the lord of the fertum, Lord Vorahd, were still alive but sick. The druidic marshal of Hirok-Nor, named Bullom the Rock-Puncher (he was introduced the first time the slayers were in Merdna in the game but as they never interacted with him then, I left him out of the blog which would have been in the Dragonslayers: Part 28 – The Blackened Cathedral), was there as well and so far as they knew the only person not touched by the plague. They were fleeing the fertum where they had been trapped for some time due to a sudden siege by the forces of Trollguard. The siege was lifted as quickly and mysteriously as it had begun just last night. Grom took mercy on three dying women among the sick curing them and as soon as he did the rest began to surround him desperately pleading for his services. In a panic for he had no more of the cure left on him, he tossed up a couple of handfuls of his herbs shouting, “Eat these” and as the crowd grappled for them the slayers ran away. By early evening they arrived at the fertum.

The banners with the white ram hung in shreds on both sides of the battered gate. They announced themselves upon approach but were concerned as the place appeared to be deserted. The gate creaked open slowly and they could see a half-giant with a wild mane of hair pulling it open. He was rippling with muscle and was at least 7 feet in height wearing nothing more than a tattered jerkin, a thick leather belt and a loincloth. His heavy, solid iron ale-mug was hanging from a thong off his belt. Vor and Bers recognized him as the druidic marshal Bullon Rock-Puncher.

Rock-Puncher: “Ha-ha! YOU [pointing at the shaman] yes you! You’re the shaman we’ve heard about from Merdna. Right!?”

Grom acknowledged this and after a brief conversation agreed to be taken to Lord Vorahd and to begin working to cure the fertum of the plague. He was led by the marshal to a high room in the manor house on the grounds. He was guided to the chamber whereat Lord Vorahd sat in a heavy wooden chair. The man was old with a woolly grey beard streaked with black that reached to the center of his wide chest. His long peppered hair was draped over his shoulders which were high and powerful, the results of a lifetime of wielding the weight of a bearded ax. His deep green eyes were set deep within his face and focused with the hardened air of Westlander nobility. He was gathered into a blanket which he held tightly to himself. When he spoke it was haltingly and with great effort. Grom found that the seasoned lord had been badly wounded in a night battle when they had first tried to break the siege lines but was able after a few hours to bring him back from the brink of death and close the large wound on his side.

The slayers decided to stay in the fertum as it would take until the morning after the next for Grom to brew enough of the cure for all 76 of the troops within even with the help of the Haldred (advisor office held by druids or mages that have little or nothing to do with the Orthodox Druidic Church of the Westlands). In the meantime Bers, Vor and Kyr occupied themselves dousing the piles of rotting, diseased corpses crowding the main street with lamp oil and setting them ablaze with their torches. They were the only ones left in the place able to do so.

After two days the sick were cured and the place was up and running. The Haldred passed along a writ of hospitality to the shaman which would allow him access to most noble houses to be treated with royal hospitality as if he were a housecarl/knight. The Haldred was determined to make his rounds around Hirok-Nor providing the cure using Grom’s formula and was leaving that morning by himself. On the same note Lord Vorahd was determined to rally his troops and lead an army against the trolls clearing them from the land once and for all.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Yeah, he has to do that. Guess we’ll join him?”

The rest of the players agreed and so their characters volunteered to join Vorahd’s army. He accepted and assigned them as the forward scout unit. They left around noon with the army which numbered 38 (the fertum warriors and their jarl) in addition to the marshal. The army was marching to Merdna where they would recruit more troops. By nightfall they were within the city palisades. The slayers retreated directly to their tavern the Hopping Rat.

They were heading to the back room in order to split up the loot they had snagged from Ekit’s Watch when Stranez the Beautiful, the bard’s multi-racial nomad wife, stepped into their path. Without ceremony Kyr told her that the bard was dead (see the Dragonslayers II: Part 4 – The Day the Music Died) and she, more angry and annoyed than upset, demanded that they pay her the insurance for his life as he was hired under the guild.

Stranez: “He can no longer earn for his family! What am I to do now! You owe me!”

Vor tossed her 2 gold talons and 3 high quality garnets which she happily accepted.

A few minutes later as they divvied up the loot the shaman found out that Bers, Vor and Kyr had lost the totems he had made for and given them way back in Chago and was mildly offended. Just as they finished splitting up the booty they could hear a commotion break out in the tap-room. When they emerged from the backroom they saw a group of armed men waiting for them.

All of the intruders were wearing quilted gambesons, three of them with a crimson escutcheon with a needle threaded with white thread on their chests and crimson cloaks. The crests on the other three were dark green squares with a crossed axe and log as the central charge and dark green cloaks. Four of the men were armed with two-handed wooden mauls. An unarmed pair each with in one of the two aforementioned costumes approached the adventurers introducing themselves as the spokesmen of the clothworkers’ and the woodcutters’ guilds respectively. The adventurers would need to file some paperwork to be officially recognized by the other guilds, by the clothworkers and woodcutters in particular, and be allowed to operate in the city of Merdna and the territory of Hirok-Nor. They would also have to pledge to the defense of the town either through warriors pledged by their guild or by helping to fund it. Vorwulf began negotiating ultimately signing a document along with Bers making them the top representatives of the Black Wings Dragon-Slayers’ Guild of Hirok-Nor. They would decide the structure of the organization later as they would have to ship out in the morning with Lord Vorahd’s army. As negotiations ended and the guildsmen and the slayers were about to lift some ale the Coiled Serpent berserkers burst in lead by Gafar (see the Dragonslayers II: Part 3 – The Hopping Rat) in his full Holy Berserk regalia his tattooed chest heaving.

The glistening snake-mask on his face shone with scales painted with crushed emeralds as he roared from underneath it; the enamel-red mouth was open wide baring two-long mother of pearl fangs.

“I am the Holy Berserk presiding over all of Hirok-Nor! There has been an injustice among the warriors of this city which must be drowned in BLOOD!”

Andracor, the young berserk whom Kyr had beaten in a barehanded alley brawl (see the Dragonslayers II: Part 3), stepped from behind him his eyes locked on the Ferenoi. The Holy Berserk pointed at Kyrahma.

Gafar (the holy berserk): “There has been a complaint of dishonorable combat amongst you! Kyrahma of the Black Wings has been accused of an unfair duel by Andracor of the Coiled Serpents! My judgment is …

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 8: Sweet Dreams

The slayers’ footsteps echoed throughout the large octagonal chamber reverberating across its marble-tile floors as they rose from the lower level via the trapdoor. The chamber was dimly lit by the red dusk-light leaking through the four large windows, one with the glass blown out. There were scorch marks on the floor and a small area of shattered tile. Broken arrows, some gilded with silver, peppered the chamber walls, a few pillars and some were stuck in the floor. The far side of the chamber was polluted with a large puddle of greyish slime where the steps to the lower battlements had been, the orange sky visible in a square through the portal in the ceiling to where the steps had led. Among this ruin was the headless corpse of Moezra the were-raven in a congealed puddle of blood.

Vorwulf immediately went to the leather trunk and lifted its lid. In it he found 1 jade rod, 3 labeled potion bottles (Neutralize Poison, Protection from Demons, and Purification), and a manual of demon-lore. The other three turned their attentions towards the two iron chests near the northwest wall. The chests appeared to be solid iron with no apparent locks, sitting on lion’s paw feet and bearing the relief of a lion’s head on one end.

Grom the shaman: “Kyr you should try and open them.”

Vorwulf: “Watch it with those chests they might come alive and attack us or something!”

Kyr and Grom approached a chest each and the shaman sensed magic on the one nearest him and after he said so, Kyr refused to touch either of the chests. Vorwulf, on a hunch, searched the mage’s corpse and found a key hidden under its feathers. Realizing the key didn’t go to the lockless chests the shaman cast protection from poison on himself and attempted to pry the lid off one with the crowbar but found there was no purchase for the tool. He tried to pass the crowbar to Kyr but she refused. Getting another idea Vorwulf tossed his trophy, the mage’s raven-like head, to Kyr. She touched it to one of the chests without effect. All the while Bers was inspecting the chests but could glean nothing else from her effort. Vorwulf looked behind each of the two tapestries bearing the images of a purple dragon on the west wall and a white dragon on the east in search of any possible secret compartments but again found nothing. He went to the window and pulled up the rope which he had used to rappel down earlier in the day.

He checked it then used it and his grappling hook to gain purchase on the portal in the ceiling.

Kyr: “Yes the ladies! Let’s save the ladies!”

At the same time as the others began to climb the rope the shaman used his clairvoyance on the chests and discovered the command words in order to open them as well as make them walk. He then followed after the others finding the rope slicked by the strange slime as if it had wicked or slithered part way up the rope as it hung there though it did not hinder his climb. They found themselves atop the lower battlements confronted with a pair of iron cages imprisoning two naked girls. Vorwulf broke the lock off one and Kyr pried open the door of the second. The girls stumbled out of the cages and gave blubbering accounts of where they were from, farms from the north side of Merdna lake when questioned. The shaman put his cloak on one of the girls. Their attentions turned towards the spiked bronze door in the south wall above which they could see the crenulations of the upper battlements a stone stair on either side. On the door was a glowing rune and Kyr, who still had the head in her possession, jammed the feathered skull on the door-spikes and opened the door.

Vorwulf: “Hey! Don’t mess up my head! That’s my trophy!”

Kyr pulled the head off the spikes and tossed it to the ranger.

They entered the room, it had 10 ft ceiling and was mostly empty. A single large lead-pane window let in the only light and was recessed in the south wall. A large iron chandelier hung from the rafters above and 5 high quality carpets lay over the wood plank floor. A tapestry of a green dragon in a forest was hanging on the southeastern wall. A stuffed leather armchair sat facing the window with a small oak table next to it. On top the oak table was a silver candlestick, a half-filled bottle of whiskey and a silver goblet. In the east end of the room was simple bed and a polished oak table with chair. On that table was a bottle of ink, a quill, an open journal and under it was a leather chest. There were book shelves along some of the walls and an arrow slit in the east and west corners. At the center of the room sat a large sack obviously stitched from the skin of human and faunic faces tied shut with a short rope made of braided hair. Vor opened the bag and found 8 gold talons within stamped with the arms of Blackbrow.

Vorwulf: “This must be the gold the vampires paid him. We must be in his library.”

Grom: “I call the carpets those are mine!”

Bers: “I don’t have any use for a library.”

After rolling up the carpets and tucking those away in his bag of holding the shaman began to read the journal. He found that Moezra had figured out how to open the mirror door to the vault in Sawback’s lair finding a counter-spell, a very difficult one, which could open it. Unfortunately he couldn’t cast the spell being a shaman and all. They found writing supplies in the leather chest and found that the book shelves contained 1 Standard Booklot (spellcraft), and 2 Comprehensive Booklots (magical script, use & recognize poison). The shaman then realized the chickens he had tied to his belt were completely stripped of all flesh probably from when they faced the demon and then pulled another 3 from his bag of holding which he found had suffocated. He was going to make dinner but the others said they wouldn’t touch those rotten things no matter how he cooked them.

They decided to stay the night in the library and decided watches as they unrolled their beds. The shaman used his remaining spells for the day to heal Vorwulf and Bers. It wasn’t until second watch that things turned risky.

Bers was on second watch and hearing something coming from outside through an arrow slit she walked to the window and looked down. She saw about a dozen human warriors bearing torches with around 5 trolls among them all being led by a giant troll. She was busy waking the rest of the group when they all heard a massive pounding akin to a battering ram from downstairs on the front door. They had time to half-equip themselves and led by Vorwulf hustled down the rope.

He shouted to Grom, “grab the mage’s robe and put it on make sure the cowl’s over yer head!”

They continued on until they made it to the room with the standing armor where Vorwulf made a sharp turn to the right through the archway into the moonlit room with the shaman immediately following. As soon as Vorwulf passed under the arch the armor sprung to life and just barely missed Grom with its heavy spiked mace.

They engaged the animated armor in combat. In the first round Grom was able to disarm it of the mace and it stumbled while using its shield in an attempt to slam Bers throwing it. They realized their swords were dealing virtually no damage to it and Bers in response picked up the heavy mace from the floor.  In the second round Bers began power-bashing the armor and Vorwulf turned to the shaman.

Vorwulf: “S#*t! Go,go,go! Me and Bers’ll handle this! You [to Kyr] go with the shaman!”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “I knew something like this was going to happen!”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “At exactly the wrong time! Exactly.”

The shaman ran at top speed into the octagonal moon chamber into the laboratory stomping over the remains of the door, up into the larder and through the sitting to the stairs in record time. Kyr struggled to keep up. Bers and Vor continued to engage the animated armor. By the beginning of the third round the shaman and Kyr were at the ground level in the storeroom where they had faced the demon the previous day. Kyr remained halfway down the steps in an effort to stay hidden but still be able to see what was transpiring. The shaman ran towards the front door as it began to splinter with every furious knock.

Giant Troll: “Wizeeerd! Open up! We know the dragon-slayerzzz are here! Open!”

As Grom got within 10 ft. of the door it burst into splinters and the giant troll stuck his face in the doorway. It was gazing into the darkness of the tower with one wide eye the doorframe completely filled by sore spattered warty brown troll-flesh.

Grom (imitating the were-raven): “My door!”

Giant Troll: “oh uh. Sorry bout yer door but turn ‘em over! But we paid you for this so give ‘em to us we know you got ‘em.”

Grom: “I have already slain them they are dead! Take my word for it troll!”

The troll seemed to buy it as did those behind him that could hear and with complaints and snorts the human mercs and trolls departed. Meanwhile upstairs the fight went into its third round with a lightning tongue shooting from the animated armor’s closed helm after the visor opened. Fortunately both slayers were able to avoid it and after Vorwulf landed a power attack Bers followed with her own smashing the armor to bits. They hurried downstairs to join the shaman and Kyr.

After the situation calmed the adventurers used the two intact crates to block up the door and pulled the lever in the door niche to arm the outer trap-door mechanism. They made their way back up to the library at the top of the tower. There they found the two girls joined by a filthy third holding each other and crying fearing the worst.

Grom: “Wait. One, two, three!?”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “That’s it! I pull out my mace and get ready to murder her!” He rolled a Sense Motive check against her story of hiding in the latrine and in various places around the tower for the past month after she escaped from the cages but she was unable to flee the tower. After that the group decided to get back to their rest. Their dreams were haunted by visions and a familiar foe.

Vor suffered a fitful sleep the image of the fighter lich they last encountered at the mouth of Sawback’s lair whom turned to glance over its shoulder revealing the site of Dead-Eye’s grave. The turf grown over the grave split as did the black earth and a cloaked figure bearing his former master’s longsword and bow, those buried with him, rose. He woke suddenly drenched in sweat a drop of blood ran from his nose and felt a little ill. He wiped the blood away and went back to sleep.

In the morning when all rose and after breakfast Vorwulf related his dream. Bers had the same dream and both of them were a little ill. The shaman cast a restoration to restore their constitution and related his dream-vision. He had dreamt that he was soaring bodily over an endless forest like those found in the far north near his home and soon a great looming shadow, a dragon-shadow began to appear racing him over the treetops suddenly a pair of flapping red wings created a roaring torrent of air then he fell from the sky into a vast river-bed and when he looked up from the ground he saw a giant glowing toadstool as tall as a tree. He awoke soon after drenched in sweat. The image of his clansmen incinerated in dragon-fire from a great red still danced in his head. Kyr admitted she had a dream but refused to reveal it.

Isis (Kyr’s Player): “She’s a woman of mysteries!”

Kyr volunteered to take the girls downstairs in order to ‘wash and dress them’. As soon as she and the girls were down there she successfully seduced all three of them.

Cris: “Man, taking advantage of those girls when they’re vulnerable! All traumatized and s#*t!”

Vor kept a watch from the upper battlements and Bers and Grom remained in the library when Bers noticed that the human-skin sack had an eye open and was watching them. She lit a torch and jabbed at the sack which began to squirm in response. She grabbed a bottle of lamp oil and doused it setting it alight with her torch. As it burned the mouths which were stitched closed ripped open and began screaming. Bers withstood the soul-shattering force of the scream but blood burst from the shaman’s ears, his body went erect then he fell forward on his face like a plank of wood. Vor leapt through the door just as the screaming stopped. The room was permeated with the thick, foul smelling oily smoke of the bag’s cremation. They both checked the shaman for signs of life.

Gil: “No! Grom’s dead! Oh, well, s#*t. Guess it’s time for a new character.”

Jen (Bers’ Player): “Wait! What about a luck roll, you rolled a natural 1 maybe it’ll help you!”

The shaman awoke after a few minutes but permanently partially deaf which he tried to cure with a restoration spell but the spell failed. After the shaman was at his full faculties they went to find Kyr and the girls but stumbled upon a scene they simply backed out of and waited up top for Kyr to show up. The girls were clean, very clean and were wearing the dead mage’s fine silk clothes. The group decided to spend 1 more day at Ekit’s Watch since they all needed the rest especially after the last night!

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 7: The Pillage of Ekit’s Watch

After having defeated the were-raven mage Moezra and his gruesome demon the slayers crept cautiously up the stone steps which rose from the ground floor and its black oubliettes to an archway flickering with flame-light.

Vorwulf: “This is a wizard’s lair so watch it.”

Bers: “No duh!”

The room at the top of the steps was small with an angular northwest wall in which was a large cleft revealing the latrine. The room was torch-lit and windowless with a door-less archway to the east and a solid bronze door with an image of a roaring demon over the entire door-face in the south wall. The south door did appear to be locked and all could see the evil glow of the rune engraved on the demon-image’s forehead. Vorwulf peeked through the archway into what appeared to be a sitting room from which a narrow band of sunlight beamed in through the arrow slit in the north wall. There was a black iron door in the south wall bearing the image of a twisting serpent, also apparently locked, an unlit golden candelabrum on either side. A table of an unidentifiable exotic wood squatted in the dark northwest corner on which sat an astrolabe and a small wood box, a finely carved bone pipe sitting atop that. Vorwulf took the pipe and checked the box in which he found contained fine smoking herbs. There was also an unlabeled vial of yellow powder which the shaman identified as yellow lotus pollen and he took that. There was also a stuffed leather chair in the niche next to the arrow slit. They proceeded to an archway in the east wall from which a spicy scent was wafting.

Bunches of all kinds of spices were hanging from the ceiling rafters and the angled northeast wall was lined with shelves filled with bottles of spices, a 1lb. sack of salt, 3 bottles of wine, 1 jar of honey and 10 lbs. of salt fish. On a small square table in the north corner sat a wheel of cheese, a knife, fork, spoon and a stack of 4 wood cups, 4 wood bowls and 4 wood plates. On the floor beneath it sat a 10 lb. sack of nuts. In the southwest corner next to the door in the south wall was bronze-wood barrel with a loose cover. The door was a solid looking wood door which could only be opened from the other side. The shaman occupied himself in collecting as many spices he could carry while Bers contemplated the door. Vorwulf lifted the lid of the barrel and found a plate of roasted chicken, a loaf of freshly baked bread and steaming squash & potatoes along with a full jack of fine wine. He replaced the cover and Kyr tried it out but failed to pull anything else out of it. The shaman performed clairvoyance on the bronze demon-door and the black iron door. He found that the bronze door if touched would emit the effects of the Fear spell if touched by any other than Moezra. The black iron door would emit a cone of poison gas filling the entire chamber if touched by any other than Moezra. He returned to the larder with his new revelations just as Bers decided to try the wood door. Bers tried to kick down the wood door but failed. Grom (the shaman) cast Bull’s Strength on her but it still took another 3 tries to bash the door down.

They found themselves in what appeared to be a magical laboratory. Alchemist’s glassware covered the long worn table in the southwest. There was a large wooden chest in the northwest and northeast corners on both sides of their entrance both were locked. Grom found 3 bottles of acid, 1 bottle of powered diamond, 1 polished copper mirror and an alchemical manual on the table. Vorwulf took a crowbar to the northwest chest. Inside he found 1 bottle labeled ‘mummy powder’, a book of what appeared to be potion formulae, 4 dragon-scales (identified as shadow dragon scales) and 8 bottles of various color pigments.

Vorwulf looking wide-eyed: “Crap. I screwed up. I should’ve checked that chest for traps first.”

Bers after receiving the crowbar from Vorwulf checked the other chest for traps before she pried it open. She found multiple scrolls of paper, a book of Westland dragon-lore (that got snatched up quick), 3 large semi-precious crystals, 1 potion labeled ‘Stone to Flesh’ and 1 piece of obsidian and 1 onyx. They checked the small narrow room through the east archway which was lit by an arrow slit and found a couple of crates and shelves on both sides of the arch. On the shelves was an alchemist’s kit, a bottle of powdered onyx, various tools and writing implements. In the crates were jars of various herbs, dried insects and preserved bits of animals such as lizard tails and batwings. They then proceeded through the archway in the laboratory’s west wall.

They came into an octagonal chamber with dark wood paneled walls and dome ceiling painted with the image of the night sky with a full silver moon. The only light manifest in the chamber came from the painted moon filling the chamber with what seemed to be true moonlight. A stuffed leather chair sat against the angled northwest wall, a polished jet table inlaid with mother of pearl sat at the center of the room. A locked cabinet was against the southeast wall and a tapestry hung over the southwest angled wall which bore the image of a murder of crows. Vorwulf checked behind the tapestry for a hidden compartment but found nothing. Grom snatched up the crowbar from Bers and went to smash open the locked cabinet. The others ran back through the east archway ‘just in case’.

The shaman wrenched open the cabinet doors rolling a Natural 20 for the pry check also inhaling the blast of fine brown dust which hit him in the face at the same time. He definitely felt the effects of a powerful toxin but only the secondary effects imparting a -4 to all Will saves and CHA based checks (unfortunately all of his magic is based on his CHA). Bers gave him a Purification potion which negated the poison. Within the cabinet he found 3 rings (made of titanium, gold and bronze respectively), a leather pouch containing 50 silver pieces, an ironwood scepter with copper embossing, a scroll with the spell Wood to Weapon on it, a crystal ball, a ruby wand, a bronze wood wand, a bottle of Oil of Preserve Corpse, and 2 potions (Ghost Form and Celerity). After they finished looting the cabinet Vorwulf lit a gold oil lamp that he had picked up and they continued through the west archway into a dark chamber where the only light was a thin blade of white daylight slicing in from a westerly arrow slit from between a pair of round columns.

The room was mostly bare save for the suit of full plate of obvious Ivoran make standing in the northeast corner next to the archway they had entered. It bore a shield painted red with the black silhouette of a raven and a heavy mace in the other hand.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Is it moving at all? No. Hmm.”

To the north was the backside of the bronze demon-door and to the south was a solid oak door with black iron hardware upon which was a glowing rune. They were stymied as none of them were willing to even get near the door; Vorwulf was still keeping a careful watch over the armor. Grom performed his Clairvoyance spell and envisioned the mage Moezra opening and walking through the door which repeated and zoomed in to his hand touching the door. After he told them his vision they figured out that they could open the doors using Moezra’s head which was being carried as a trophy by Vorwulf. They touched the head to the door and were able to open it without a problem. They continued south into the room the door communicated with all the while Vorwulf keep glancing back at the armor.

They entered into another triangular chamber, the south wall being diagonal. The room was lit with a warm light emanated by a pair of quartz fire-gems set in the torch sconces. There was a chest of drawers of polished redwood against the diagonal wall. A table with a matching wood chair was in the northeast corner upon which sat a ceramic basin, a wood cup, a clay jug filled with water, a bar of soap, a rag and a small bottle of perfume. Vorwulf snatched up the soap and perfume.

Bers: “Damn, I should’ve done that.”

Kyr and Grom went through the chest of drawers finding about 20 articles of high quality clothing and a pair of red silk slippers each with a single large opal on them. After ransacking that room they moved through the archway in the east wall into the were-raven’s bed chamber. The room is lit by a narrow slash of weak sun coming through the arrow slit in the south wall falling upon the superior quality carpet on the floor and glinting from the four censers hanging from the ceiling filled with mild aromatic resins as evidenced by their noses. The other light in the room, a strange deep-blue glow, was provided by a fire-sapphire sitting on the stool by the bed which was in the southwest corner of the room. There was an unlocked chest in the northeast corner and a cabinet in the northwest corner of the room. Bers and Grom pushed Kyr towards the chest and told her to check it for traps. Vorwulf rifled the four-poster bed and found several handfuls of small loops of braided hair tied with scraps of clothing under the mattress. The shaman busied himself rolling up the carpet and stuffing it into his bag of holding. Kyr opened the chest and found a suit of silk bedclothes, 1 set of high quality bed linens, and 1 bottle of yellow lotus pollen containing at least 3 doses which was given to the shaman. Bers gathered up and took the bed linens.

Kyr: “What’re gonna do with those!? You don’t sleep in a bed!”

Bers: “Not out here but I like to sleep in style.”

Vorwulf then checked the unlocked cabinet within he found 1 gold oil lamp, a bottle of lamp oil (an hour’s worth), steel & flint, straw matches, an empty clay pitcher, a wood cup, 1 bottle of whiskey and 1 silver goblet studded with aquamarines. After taking the whiskey and giving the goblet to Kyr, the others each have their own ‘fancy’ goblets, he turned his attention to the black iron door in the east wall. He recognized it as the door with the glowing white rune he had seen from the other side when he was looking for a way down after slaying the were-raven mage Moezra. To avoid any trouble he used his Powder of Knock. The door opened of its own accord after the powder was tossed over it.

Vorwulf found himself in a familiar place after the group surmounted the stone spiral staircase. They had entered the room where he had faced off with the mage.

 

To Be Continued…