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The Dragonslayers II Pt. 15: Troll Battle

In the creaking, smoking ruin of the Grey Fort the dragon-slayers after dealing with the berserker ambush and their compatriot’s betrayal began to poke around. Vorwulf checked the east stairs for stability and slowly walked up to check the mezzanine from the steps. He found the wood of the walkway that rimmed the main hall had many, too many, loose and rotten floorboards though he did spy three hallways stretching to the rear of the longhouse. They decided it was a good idea to just go back to the ships. The shaman, Grom, used his magic helm to cast Heal All and they made the trek back to the ships.

Reaching the lead ship just before dawn with the setting of the great purple moon decided to slip under-decks for a 4-hr nap after debriefing with Lord Vorahd. The next stop would be the determined battlefield of Delta Glade between the Estnik River and the creek which runs from Old Sawback’s Lair. The next thing our intrepid trio is aware of is that they’re shaken awake by a scrawny, sweat-drenched sailor.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Aww man! That’s not 8 hours is it? I’m not gonna get all my spells back am I?”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Nope.”

They were told that Lord Vorahd wanted to see them and so they walked still battle weary to his pavilion. On the way from the ships they saw the wood-cutters climbing and tying ropes to the tall pines scattered on the southern flanks of the battlefield and chopping the trunks most-of-the-way through. They were dumping barrels of lamp oil on the trees. The rest of the army was clearing the brush from the southern half of the field. They passed between the Housecarl guards and into the pavilion.

Lord Vorahd stood before them behind a heavy wooden table a map spread out over its surface. Next to him stood the Jarl (no one ever asked this guy’s name so I never gave him one, go figure). Marshal Rock-Puncher was on the field supervising its preparation which needed to be done before dusk. Vorahd’s camp was confident the heavy-trolls whom seemed to be proof against the daylight had been significantly diminished by the slayers and so would not try to ambush them with a full force behind them.

The battle plan according to Lord Vorahd was that he would command the housecarls and hold the right flank with the farmers with their javelins behind a makeshift bulwark of logs and earth at center. Jarl Wernoll (there he has a name now) will command the warriors from Fertum Vorahd taking up the left flank. Marshal Rock-Puncher will command the handful of warriors from Marnez and serve as skirmishers on the front lines with cover from the farmers’ javelins. The woodsmen will take positions in the cover on either side of the field where they will ignite and pull down the pines on the charging trolls. The slayers would reinforce the farmers in the center.

Jen (Bers’ Player): “Aww. I wanna be where the action is!”

Vorwulf felt something tug at his sack of holding and something else vibrate within, it was where he stuck the claymore looted from the satyr’s sarcophagus that he had picked up after Kyr had been changed into a snail.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Aww f**k it!”

Vorwulf opened the sack and the shaman with his spirit sight saw the semi-transparent image of a powerfully built satyr with blind-white eyes bulging from their sockets and black lips curled back revealing bleeding gums and a swollen tongue lolling loosely hanging from its slack jaws as flecks of bloody foam drooled to the floor in long strands reaching into the now open sack. The others in the room could only see the sword rise from the sack and swing at Lord Vorahd whom stood frozen in terror as he seemed to recognize the blade.

Vorwulf jumped in between the blade and Lord Vorahd taking a defensive stance. Grom attempted to exorcise the spirit but failed and Bers struck at the sword shattering it with her axe thus ending the threat. Vorwulf apologized and gave Vorahd the golden flamberg that had been Kyr’s weapon (he had taken that also) as a gift. The jarl guided the slayers from the tent and shed a little light on what had just happened. He told them that the claymore was a recognizable weapon with a reputation that was the owned by a Satyr lord whom had ruled over Hirok-Nor in Lord Vorahd’s grandfather’s time. The satyr-lord had been poisoned by Vorahd’s grandfather subjecting him to a slow and agonizing death. On the day of his death it is said that his apparition had appeared in the hall of Vorahd and laid a curse on the Westlander lord Afterwards the newly self-declared Lord of Hirok-Nor attacked the Grey Fort and the surrounding village laying waste to it and slaughtering every man, woman and child sparing not even the livestock. Shortly thereafter the elder Lord Vorahd fell ill and lingered for a decade, insane and raving until he mercifully passed. The Grey Fort and the land it sits on has been shunned ever since, the tale of the Satyr-Lord of Hirok-Nor and the Vorahd Clan just a tale to scare children.

The slayers shrugged in unison and decided to layout their bedrolls in the shade of the pavilion and sleep until dusk.

Come dusk the slayers found themselves in the center position of the battle line. Bers’ axe was ready in line with the farmers. Vorwulf and the shaman remained a few paces behind them ready with arrows and magic. Several open barrels of lamp oil were among the farmers into which they were dipping their javelins and lighting them in the braziers blazing behind the punji-stick studded logs. The great purple moon rose in east as the sun set and the silver/white moon was high in the darkening sky. At Vorahd’s command the warriors beat their shields roaring as they did so and others blew their horns. It wasn’t long since the last rays of sunlight disappeared that a troll scout unit broke the north tree-line and the leading gigantic earth-skinned mountain troll blew his horn.

Another troll unit with a similar mountain-troll with stony skin but armored in half-plate and bearing a serpentine bladed great sword followed by 3 trolls armored in scale mail bearing hammers emerged, obviously the commander of the troll side. Bers’ knuckles creaked on her ax. Three dragonsauri smashed through the tree-line and roaring charged the Westlander line splitting between Marshal Rock-Puncher’s unit, Lord Vorahd and his Housecarls, and Jarl Wernoll’s warriors. Vorwulf got an arrow off and wounded the dragonsuarus that was among Lord Vorahd’s men. Grom unleashed lightning which exploded from out of the sky and crashed into the troll commandant dealing little damage. The roars of dragons echoed over the battlefield and from over the tree-line flew in 3 young brown fang dragons hauling long chains with spiked iron balls on the ends. They immediately strafed the Westlander line with fire with one scoring a direct hit on the farmers and Bers.

The farmers withered before the dragon-fire and the barrels of lamp oil exploded in a blast of flame and splinters. Bers ran backward towards her companions screaming and wreathed in flaming oil. Vorwulf shot an arrow at the nearest dragon and scored a hit wounding it badly. It circled back around and engaged him directly. Another unit of trolls broke the tree line which were wearing chain mail and bearing war-hammers. The pines on either side of the Westlander lines burst into flames and were pulled to the ground exploding in a shower of flames and white sparks putting a barrier between the trolls and the Westlanders and isolating the dragonsauri already engaged. Rock Puncher met claw, fang and steel with stone smashing knuckles. Grom began summoning small fire elementals and sending them out to engage the trolls. Bers eventually stopped dropped and rolled (she kept rolling Natural 1’s to put herself out). A unit of heavies smashed through already ruined north tree line crushing it flat and began marching towards Lord Vorahd’s unit. The rhythmic clank of the heavy-trolls’ orange full-plate could be heard over the roaring of flames, beasts, dragons and general cacophony of battle. Following them was yet another troll unit consisting of a single mountain troll, 2 more heavies and 3 trolls in chainmail with serpentine swords.

The second round began with Vorwulf avoiding the ice-spit of the Brown-Fang Dragon which was flying at him felling it with a single arrow and then having to dive out of its way as its corpse crashed into the ground engulfing the slayers in a blinding spray of dirt. A dragonsaurus charged through the flames and swirling dust clouds to attack the slayers, Bers chopped it down with 3 power-swings. Grom could hear the screams of the woodsmen as the troll forces met them from beyond the flames and knew that they were through. Vorwulf drew his bow to try to send an arrow into the dragonsaur that was at the moment snapping at Lord Vorahd but his string snapped. He threw the useless bow down and drew his cutlasses. Rock-Puncher’s skirmishers fought a single dragonsaur to a standstill among the roaring fire. The housecarls were swinging their bearded axes wildly against the trolls that charged them as the dragonsauri broke off and continued on. The battle raged for a total of rounds (mass combat) with the Westlanders barely holding on and the slayers making all the difference.

Near the end of the battle the slayers finished off the last two dragonsauri which had leapt over the flaming logs (one of which was angered by Grom slinging a stone at it) and Grom reduced two of the nearby troll units to frogs and rats. They also witnessed Rock-Puncher and the Marnez warriors fall but taking the unit of heavies with them with the druidic-marshal setting the last troll-corpse ablaze holding the burning fagot with bloodied hands before he dropped. They saw Vorahd and his housecarls advance to the far end of the field to engage the troll commandant but lost sight of him through the flames. The troll commandant retreated shortly thereafter. Bers had killed all 3 dragonsauri, Vorwulf had killed all 3 Brown-Fangs and a Heavy Troll. Grom wiped out 2 untis of trolls and took down a Heavy Troll. The day was won but Vorahd’s army had paid dearly for it.

The battlefield was ablaze and the dead and dying were scattered between the flames, the large corpses of trolls sizzled in the fires. Vorahd had lost the farmer/javelineers and the woodsmen, 30 men between these two units. He had also lost 4 of his 8 housecarls and Rock-Puncher and his skirmishers. Of the 30 fertum warriors he had lost but a handful. The troll forces were all but wiped out.

The slayers surveyed the battle field for any forgotten foes and when they were satisfied they fell back with the remaining Westlanders.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 14: Betrayal!

The flask of alchemist’s fire shattered and the statue niche in the wall, sans statue, blazed with flame. The thick netting of webs burned and the dozens of hand-size yellow spiders scattered fleeing from the flames. Bers congratulated herself as it had been her flask and unerring throw. Kyr suddenly slammed herself to the floor squashing the last of the creatures which still clung to her armor. She rose and the others could see the score of disembodied twitching yellow legs which were scattered over her chest plate in the dwindling firelight. Vorwulf identified the swarm of spiders as Yellow Marsh Spiders and the shaman, Grom, determined that neither Bers nor Kyr had contracted the dreaded Marsh Fire fever from the bite of the venom-less spiders. They had entered the Grey Fort and found it utterly deserted and in a truly ruinous state. They had walked into the longhouse hall and walked through a doorway into the rear chambers into the rear stables and into the chamber in which they had been attacked by the spider swarm. The whole place was choked with a thick layer of soot and dust and tangled with dense wafts of spider webbing. The tang of ancient wood mixed with dry rat-piss permeated the place. As the slayers slunk through the ruin they spied rats skittering across the floor before them.

They reentered the great hall, the group emerging from a narrow doorway next to the dais where a throne should have been surmounted by a stone sarcophagus bearing the relief of a Hill-Lander satyr lord. The hall occupied fully one half of the massive longhouse its ceiling reaching to the roof from which hung a large chandelier of stag horns the upper reaches completely obscured by webs rendered into a multitude of wafting ghosts by the white moonlight which penetrated the smoke-ambered glass and broken panes of the windows in the second story. There were creaking wood stairs on either side of the hall leading up to the mezzanine which occupied the second floor of the hall supported by thick pillars made of the trunks of stripped trees carved over with images of nature; stags, goats, boar and twisting vines and leafy tree branches. The six support pillars at the center of the room, identical to those that supported the mezzanine, reached up into the unseen reaches above with a stone-lined fire pit at center which was nearly filled up with dirt and detritus. There were also 7 heavy wooden tables scattered throughout the hall all covered in a thick layer of dirt. The wall behind the sarcophagus was a rusted panel of cast iron with the relief of a dancing satyr playing his pan-pipes. They had already pried open the coffin on their first walkthrough and took the only loot they had found, a superior quality claymore with a carved bone grip, a solid gold cross-guard and a large smooth emerald as pommel stone which Kyr was carrying in its gold-trimmed black leather scabbard. Vorwulf and Grom hopped onto the dais determined to check out the iron panel.

Vorwulf [closely studying the iron wall]: “This is definitely a secret door. Hey! Shaman check this out to see if it’s got a magic trap on it or something.”

Grom [after concentrating for a moment]: “I sense some slight magic on it.”

Cris [Vorwulf’s Player]: “Great it’s probably opened by music. Hey where’s the bard! Ha! HA! Ha!”

Kyr [nervously]: “Hey guys maybe we shouldn’t be checking out the door since we have people waiting for us.”

Bers and Kyr had walked to the center of the room and were keeping an eye on the passages to the rear of the longhouse on either side of the dais. Kyr watched the southerly one and Bers the northern. Vorwulf found a purchase on the edge of the panel fit for the group crowbar.

Bers: “You need me to pry it open?! Let the ladies handle this!”

It was then that Bers heard someone stumbling in the chamber behind the portal she was supposed to be watching. She was able to see a mostly naked woman ready to charge through the doorway her hair in a state as wild as what shone in her eyes. She was wearing a war-belt, bronze bracers and greaves. She was armed with a claymore in each hand. On her chest was the brand of the Obsidian Gauntlet. Bers shouted out a warning and a fireball whizzed into the center of the room from the main entrance and exploded.

Vor ducked behind the sarcophagus, drank down a potion of fire protection and drew his paired cutlasses. Bers was burned badly (36 points of damage) and changed her helmet out for another with the Shield ability on it. A heavily muscled man in bear hides charged her from the passage she was guarding and slashed at her with his bladed iron claws which she easily parried save for the last backhanded slash which caught her cutting deep. Two berserkers charged in foaming at the mouths from the main entrance their dull red cloaks billowing behind them. The pair swung their bearded axes at Kyr and Bers respectively. Kyr defended herself easily but Bers was hit finding herself badly wounded and flanked by one of the berserkers to one side and iron claws on the other. Grom leapt from behind the cover of the sarcophagus and relieved Bers with his healing touch. He then quickened a mass Bear’s Strength spell reinforcing Bers and the other slayers. The wild woman who’s stumbling initially alerted Bers leapt into the fray onto a nearby table and swung clumsily at Bers missing with both blades and fumbling one which flew from her hand lodging itself into a pillar on the other side of the room.

A large muscular man with dark skin and equipment identical to the wild woman save for the bearded axe in his left hand strode through the passage that Kyr was supposed to be guarding. He was handsome save for the handprint shaped burn scar which covered one half of his face. A bronze facemask with the face of a drooling maniac beaten into it was sitting atop his brown-black mane. Kyrahma recognized him as Norwulf the leader of the Obsidian Gauntlet berserker coven.

His wild brown eyes locked onto and gazed deeply into hers. With a snarl his calm indifferent face turned fierce and flipping down his mask, attacked the young Ferenoi. He missed with his axe and got locked into a clinch with his sword against Kyr’s gold flamberg. Another of the coven strode confidently in through the main entrance, a smaller but still significantly tough looking man wearing only bronze bracers and greaves and a red cloak. A flame shot from his hand aimed at the shaman as he charged forward. Grom was burned but managed to still dodge out of the way. He recognized the spell as Throw Flames (see the Dragonslayers pt. 34) and his new foe as a fire elementalist.

Cris (Vor’s Player): “That’s why I guzzled that fire protection potion! After that first fireball man!”

A half-giant wearing wood-plate armor bearing a great club eased through Kyr’s door immediately smacking her for a good deal of damage. Vorwulf activated a magic item and was surrounded by colored magic orbs (Ring of Orbs spell) and sent the green orb to strike the elementalist wounding him with the orb’s acid. Bers hacked the female berserker’s belly open spilling her guts and splitting her body into two pieces dousing Grom and herself in the woman’s blood. The slayers held their own in this first round of combat with Bers trading blows with iron claws and Vor expending the orbs at the elementalist. Near the end of the first round found Grom simultaneously attacking the elementalist with his battle magic attempting to change him into a frog but the enemy mage was able to shake off the spell with a saving throw of Natural 20. By the end of the round the shaman and Bers found themselves surrounded on one side of the room and Kyr found herself fighting both her former leader and the half-giant alone on the other.

The second round began with the iron claw fighter making a double power attack on Bers which she easily parried and countered with a power attack hacking him into two separate chunks covering her, the remaining two berserks (both were now facing off with Bers) and Grom in his blood. Vorwulf leapt from the dais at the half-giant landing a double cutlass strike. Grom realizing how wounded he truly was went on the defensive as strikes rained on him from all sides transforming all of the berserkers save Norwulf and the elementalist into frogs but the tide shifted back when Norwulf began chanting beneath his mask restoring his followers back to their complete and savage states before the weapons could drop from their hands. By this point Bers was badly wounded as was Grom and Kyr. Vorwulf had taken a nasty hit from the half-giant’s great club but was in the best shape among the slayers. Norwulf unleashed the Ignus Malus spell using a dark prayer causing the center of the room to explode in a storm of blood-red and orange fire wounding all the slayers save Vor and sparing his own people. Two of the support pillars at the center of the room were completely burned away and parts of the ceiling began to rain down as the decrepit structure of the house groaned.

Isis (Kyr’s Player): “Uhm guys!? Maybe we should try to take this outside we’re fighting in a place that’s falling down around us!”

By the end of the second round it appeared as if the slayers had the upper hand though victory looked as if it may cost them at least one or two companions. Norwulf suddenly broke from fighting with Kyr, hopped onto the dais as she looked on and launched himself at the shaman in a vicious leap attack but was zapped into a frog just before his hungry blades could meet their mark. Bers dropped one of the berserkers surrounding her and Grom.

Kyr approached the shaman her berserker rage seemingly assuaged. Grom prepared to give her his healing touch. She struck at him suddenly but she failed to catch him off guard and he turned her into a snail. The elementalist then went into a rage magic flames erupting from his eyes and mouth and levitating 10 feet into the air as bolts of energy struck all about him. The third round began with a bolt of fire striking Grom and Bers chopping down the raging mage out of the air.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “He’s not goin’ to explode right?” The fire elementalist didn’t explode after Bers killed him.

Bers charged the wounded half-blood and smashed through his wooden armor with her axe easily slaying him covering Vor and herself in a shower of gore. The remaining berserk near Grom was reduced to a frog before he could even react. Grom bent down and picked up the snail that had been Kyr dropping her into a potion bottle.

Gil (Grom’s Player)[to Isis Kyr’s Player]: “Don’t worry I won’t eat you.”

Vorwulf searched out the frog that had been Norwulf and stomped on it.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Hey, just in case so the guy won’t come back y’know.”

The shaman snatched up the coven leader’s bronze mask and tucked it away.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Man, I want this mask. Defeating my spell like that.”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Well, at least he didn’t transform into a large monstrous thing with tentacles.”

Jenn (Bers’ Player): “Yeah.” (see the Dragonslayers Pt. 13)

The freshly singed room was scattered with smoldering bits of shattered wood and the bleeding remains of the Obsidian Gauntlet berserker coven. A single frog croaked and hopped away.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 13: Up the River

The bright morning sun shone over the marketplace in the city of Asternor. Vorwulf and Grom were at the tent-shop of a mage. Vor wanting the bronzed chest plate he had taken from the fighter-lich, who now was haunting his and the rest of the party’s dreams, to be identified and the shaman desiring that the ring he had taken from the corpse of the were-raven be enchanted. Vor was told after paying his 100 gp that the armor had the ‘feather light’ ability rendering it nearly weightless and that was all. Vor still refused to wear it since it bore the arms of Blackbrow beaten masterfully into the chest. The shaman paid the mage 16,000 gp in 8 superior quality diamonds and 1,000 gold coins to get the ring made into a magic ring with the Frost Nova ability built into it. It would be ready for pickup in ‘3 days and a fortnight’.

Bers and Kyr meanwhile, were sitting at a sticky table in the beerhall with Zancor the one-armed. They were simply chatting and drinking for lack of anything else to do when after some small space of time Bers spotted a pair of suspicious men in dull red cloaks. They were very obviously trying to act as if they hadn’t been eyeballing the 3 at the table just a second ago.

Bers (to Kyrahma): “Hey, check those guys out.”

Kyr looked over and recognized them immediately as members of her berserker coven, the Obsidian Gauntlet, but she successfully ‘played it off’ and Bers was none the wiser.

On their way to the beerhall to join their companions Vorwulf and Grom stopped at the blacksmith’s. They paid him 2 gold talons to get him to melt the infernal slag rod down thereby destroying ‘the evil thing’. Foolishly the blacksmith agreed and heated the thing to red hot and began to hammer it down on the anvil. It exploded.

Bers was busy guzzling ale with Zancor and Kyr was simply hiding behind her mug when the two women noticed that the patrons, mostly members of Vorahd’s army, were running outside and gathering near the saloon doors. They pushed their way out from between the men and saw a large dust cloud and smoke down the street from the hall and heard the exclamations of ‘explosion’!? They saw Vor and Grom stumbling out of the ruined smithies’ singed and covered in black soot then tending to the smith whom they had dragged out among the debris that had been flung into the street. Minutes later after the crowd had mostly dispersed back into the beerhall along with the other two dragon slayers. Vor cleaned himself off in a horse trough before walking through the saloon doors after the shaman.

As he entered the building a pair of fairly large men wrapped in red cloaks pushed past him hastily on their way out. He noticed the large tattoo on the chest of one and barely putting 1 and 1 together he recognized the brand.

Vor (to Kyrahman as he sat down): “SO what’s with those guys? They have the same tats as you. They yours or what?”

All those around the table turned their eyes to her. Kyr just “kept her mouth shut”. Vorwulf left it at that and pulled out his magic goblet of Swap Places and kept an eye on her. They passed the rest of the day drinking and talking little. At sundown Bers, Kyr and Vor decided to leave back to their respective rooms in the tavern at the docks. The shaman remained in the beerhall chatting with Zancor.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Man that guy is a damned SPY.”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “I know man; I’m trying to get some information from him.”

On the way to their rooms at the tavern Bers spotted a pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers following them. They were trying to follow the slayers in a sly manner but were failing miserably. Bers alerted the other two and they simply carried on to the tavern where she bought a hot bath. Grom had decided to return to the tavern and his bed since his attempt to ply information from Zancor proved unsuccessful with the old one-armed man wandering off sobbing after blubbering a sob story to the shaman.

As the shaman entered the threshold of the tavern Kyr pushed past him to outside and shouted an angry challenge at the pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers who were leaning on either side of the door. She successfully intimidated them and they walked off under the gaze of a small crowd which had gathered due to Kyr’s shouting. After that the group settled down to sleep.

Come morning Bers bought breakfast at the tavern for the entire group including Zancor who just happened show up as soon as they had sat down. They were getting ready to ship out with the army by noontime and their equipment had been gathered and packed, weapons and armor inspected. As they finished their meal they heard a ruckus outside and decided to investigate. They found a crowd gathered in the middle of the street gawking at the pair of headless bodies that laid there each bearing a coiled snake tattoo on the chest.

Vor: “Aw, sh*#.”

Kyr: “Awww Crap!”

The slayers joined the army and Lord Vorahd at the docks there Vorahd had revealed to them that the army was going via the Nirix River up into and along the Estnik River northeast on 3 ships to a depression called the Red Glenn. They would be with him and his warriors on the lead ship. The ships were going to stop at the mouth of the Red Glenn on the southern bank to let the slayers off so they can scout the nearby ruins called the Grey Fort to make sure the enemy, meaning the trolls of Trollguard, hadn’t occupied or engineered some sort of ambush. After the scouts return the ships would land on the northern bank directly across river form the ruins and from there the army would move to a place simply called the Delta Glade where the creek that flowed from the cave that was Old Sawback’s lair spilled into the Estnik just northeast of the Red Glenn. That was where they would face off with the trolls.

The ships were typical Westlander 6-oared river-vessels shallow bottomed with storage under the deck, single leather sail painted with Vorahd’s heraldry and a large wheel-stone attached to an iron chain for an anchor. The slayers mounted the ramp to board their vessel. Zancor put his hand on Bers’ shoulder to stop her and asked in a high, pitiable voice where they were off to as he was curious wouldn’t be allowed to follow. Bers just shrugged and said she didn’t know.

Jenn (Bers’ Player): “Dunno, I wasn’t listening, I’m not hitting stuff. Don’t care.”

It was a several hour trip up the river. The ship landed at the drop point at midnight and in the deep darkness the slayers disembarked moving silently and swiftly over the gravel beach inland but keeping the river bank in view. Vorwulf was able to discern that someone had been in the area in the past few days and warned the others to be ready. They traveled through clumps of woody bushes making their way towards the direction of the purported ruins. When the moon-limned outlines of their goal was visible Vorwulf stumbled upon and odd collection of stones and markings in the dirt by a bush. Kyr recognized it as a coded signal set by members of the Obsidian Gauntlet. It said ‘we are following you’. She couldn’t say if she was in good standing with them or not when pressed by Vor. She had parted them under ‘weird’ terms. (It’s funny that none of the players asked as to how the berserkers were able to know where they would be or how they beat them there but anyways.)

They began to approach the ruins and noticed that the natural sounds of the area were much louder than they should be with seemingly every insect and small nocturnal creature buzzing, squawking, squeaking or chirping. The shaman communed with nature and found that the powers of nature were magnified here but for the reason he did not know.

The ruins were ringed by a burnt and mostly fallen wood palisade with about half of the gatehouse left intact. The central longhouse, the only fully intact building, came into full view. It was huge and was at least 2 stories high and very deserted. The first story was built of windowless stone blocks with a helmet armed with two curling ram-horns and a small heart below it carved in the stone by the front doors. The upper reaches were wood burnt in large patches and where the wood lay un-blackened the wood had faded to a pale grey speckled with white accentuated in its ghastliness by the pale light of the white moon. They also noticed once inside the perimeter of the old palisades that the longhouse sat on possibly older ruins as the ground showed a rectangular outline of solid stone larger than the area of the longhouse and which was orientated northwest to southeast facing the Estnik River. The longhouse was oriented to the west and east. They crept past the piles of ruin covered in weeds and probing vines to the gaping door-less entrance. They slowly and with care moved past the threshold into the murky darkness.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 12: Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Jes Because…

By nightfall the slayers were camping with the army just a few miles outside of the city of Asternor, its high palisades visible on the eastern horizon. Lord Vorahd welcomed the slayers into his pavilion where he sat at one end of a heavy wooden table making battle plans by oil lamp.

Lord Vorahd: “At first light, you, scouts will go north to investigate the farmsteads there, between the Low West Road and the High West Road, if you find all in order gather able-bodied men for my forces. We will continue to lead the army into Asternor; we will be able to gather more intelligence there. We will be there for two days, if you cannot make it back before then, meet us on the road north, Hill Road.”

The slayers agreed and by late the next morning after rejoining with Kyrahma were again moving through wild glades and weed-tangled fields. They traveled for about an hour and wound up running into the High West Road. Realizing they had gone too far north they turned back south. It was another hour before a cluster of small wood buildings could be seen in the distance. They were brought to a standstill a few hundred feet away from the farm buildings when the stink of rotting troll hit their noses. The fields they were moving through were fallow, with the summer harvest rotting in the field and choked with weeds. They could see a large cloud of flies hovering over the buildings. They moved in cautiously and saw that the buildings were wrecked and apparently abandoned. Vorwulf looked out for an ambush and realized something large was in the closest building, a large barn which was laid open on one side. Vorwulf used the Prying Eye ability on his magic scimitar and sent the thing into the darkened barn. As he concentrated so he could see the inside with the eye the giant corpse of a troll stepped from around corner and attacked!

The giant troll corpse was joined by two others each of the bloated stinking bodies were covered in large open sores and hollowed wounds which were gushing maggots and black swarms of flies. The eyes and mouths were just gaping holes black with buzzing crawling flies; their nostrils dripping with bile-yellow maggots.

Jen (Bers’ Player): “Can this game get any more DISGUSTING! Enough, enough description! [gags]”

Bers took out and began to light a torch as the flies began to surround them flooding the area as a black buzzing torrent. Four giant flies, metallic green spattered with oily black hairs, flew out of the barn at the slayers and those were joined by 3 gestalts born of other masses of flies which flew in over the roof of the barn at the heroes. Vorwulf nailed a giant fly with an arrow, Grom tried to rebuke the gestalt spirits but failed and Bers dropped the unlit torch and pulled her axe. The first round found the adventurers covered in acid spit from the giant flies and the dense swarms which were beginning to choke them as the flies were crawling up their noses as well as getting in their eyes. They could barely see one another. When Bers and Kyr ran forward to engage the troll swarm-corpses Grom and Vorwulf could no longer see them through the swirling swarms. Grom was able to repel vermin causing a sphere to open up in the swarms around himself. Kyr lit a torch but it went out when she swung it at masses of flies swirling about her. Vorwulf managed to pinion a giant fly with an arrow and Bers splattered one with her axe getting covered in dark, red gelatinous fly-blood. She then hacked open a maggot-gushing wound in a troll-corpse with a powerful axe blow.

Jen (Bers’ Player): “This is the grossest battle ever!”

The second round opened with Bers chopping a troll-corpse into two halves revealing a massive gross mound of flies and maggots. Vorwulf retreated until he was out of the swarm but was assailed by an acid-spitting giant fly which he spent the rest of the round shooting at ultimately killing it on a simultaneous attack. Grom was able to rebuke and disperse all 3 of the gestalt-spirits. Bers and Kyr were forced to dodge slam attacks from the remaining corpses which they each facing off with. The shaman cast windrush in an attempt to blow away the flies which he did in a 100 foot long 5 foot wide column along the ground as well as knocking down one of the corpses, a giant fly and unfortunately Kyr, all of which were blown to the end of the 100 feet. She got to her feet and slicing the giant fly into two bleeding chunks with her sword. In the third round with only one of the troll corpses left they ganged up on it with Bers finally chopping it down. The group wasted no time in dousing themselves with their water-skins washing off the acid-spit which was covering their armor.

They made a final inspection of the premises and found that it appeared a fight had occurred here as evidenced by old blood stains but the bodies of the farmers were nowhere to be seen. As for anything valuable or even useful the place had been completely pillaged. With Vorwulf taking the lead the four slayers headed back to Asternor.

Once back inside the palisades of the city the group went their separate ways hoping to unwind. Grom went to the marketplace and found a mage that he paid to identify some of the gear he had pilfered from Ekit’s Watch. He found out that the strange tuning-fork shaped rod made of pale pitted metal was indeed of infernal slag and was used to summon a “pretty nasty” demon. Vorwulf went and rented a room for 3 days in the tavern by the docks. By the end of the day all of them wound up in the tavern by the docks bereft of Vorahd’s warriors as they filled the beerhall. The slayers sans Vorwulf, he had went upstairs to his room, were all sitting at a table near the saloon-doors which led to the streets in front of a banner bearing the city arms, a brown ram’s horn pierced by an arrow with white fletching against a yellow field. After a few rounds they decided for a change of venue to the beerhall as there they could drink for free, they had just realized as members of Vorahd’s army they could drink in the hall financed by Lord Vorahd free of charge. A dirty old-man wrapped in tattered purple robes limped up to the table and as he leaned on a polished black staff put his hand on Bers’ shoulder. She recognized him as Zancor, the old Hyvalian outcast she and Dead-Eye had rescured from an ice-troll so long ago (see the Dragonslayers Pt 16: Gone Troll-Hunting), she welcomed him to the table and bought another round. She found out that he had been in Achoran only a few days ago and was on the last ferry out before Asternor’s Elder Council decided to shut down harbor traffic from the southerly city. Vor showed up washed and perfumed and was introduced to Zancor. Vor remembered what his master had told him about the old Hyvalian.

Zancor: “So you guys a part o’ the army eh?”

Bers continued to talk with him mostly about what they were doing now and what happened to Dead-Eye for which he gave his condolences. Grom asked him a few questions but didn’t get any straight answers and was able to discern that he probably had ulterior motives. They got up and went to the beerhall, Bers invited Zancor and he followed. The night spent in the beerhall had been a bawdy, rowdy one but ultimately helped to relax the adventurers though Bers who had tried to seduce another healthy farm boy went back to her room a little frustrated. Vorwulf, ever mindful of security while he slept, set up a noise trap by the window and on the door to his room.

That night their dreams were again haunted by the Lich-fighter with the shadowy image of Dead-Eye at his shoulder.

 

To Be Continued…