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A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.6: Down, Down Under Bandit’s Well

I stood over the corpse of the wyvern I had just slain using the newest spell in my arsenal, Spinning Blades. Its breath weapon, nightmare gas, failed to affect me like it affected Tweena, the dungeoneer had run away into a side chamber. I harnessed some nightmare juice from the dead dragon while Vorox the monster rider, Greyshadow his dragonsaurus mount had to wait outside at the surface by the well along with the trio of followers he had just recruited (named Feak, Zar, and Zevor), went to deal with the temporarily insane Tweena. We were about a hundred feet or so underground in the ruins of a secret dungeon accessed through what’s referred to by the locals as Bandit’s Well. The intel I had gotten on the Red Daggers guided us here, the travel from Rockhollow occupying the past few days. After Tweena recovered, Vorox must’ve dumped a potion down her throat, we began our crawl through the seemingly abandoned human-sized chambers, over rusting catwalks suspended over vast bodies of black water.

A little while later we had gone deeper down a few flights of stairs to what appeared to be the back side of a secret door with Tweena again in the lead. I was busy rolling up my Portable Hole into which I had been dumping everything we had been looting along the way. A gush of stale, dusty air invaded my nostrils as she opened the door. The front side of the secret door was a superior quality white marble statue of a mage bearing a jet staff in one hand and a large fire amethyst in the other. The statue’s face had a maniacal expression on it as it gazed into the fire gem. The door opened into a long dark hallway the floor of which was covered in a thick layer of dust and detritus. Another similar statue as that which served as the door sat further down the hall, the gems of both statues providing the only light. Tweena unhinged the statue-door at my behest and I swept the portable-hole over it as well as the other statue when we came to it stowing them in the inter-dimensional space where I would put all the other booty.

We discovered a maze of dusty chambers and ruined halls which were populated with animated statue after statue bearing magical arms, a few skeletons, some giant spiders, pair of giant centipedes and a spider swarm from which we had to flee shutting it up behind a secret door. We found rest in a damp chamber the door of which bore the Wayfarer’s Mark where we licked our wounds all of us were pretty bad-off, after barricading the door. The next morning (we assumed it was morning) we wended our way to the final chamber where we fought a long battle against animated armor bearing magical arms and a magic helmet. The treasure which the armor had been guarding was almost completely collapsed and Vorox and I left it up to Tweena to crawl into the spider hole we found behind the door and pull out the treasure she had found in a locked and trapped chest.

Afterwards we decided to work our way back up to the wyvern’s lair and try to find its hoard. In all I had stowed away in the hole 16 wizard statues of white marble with a jet staff in one hand a large fire amethyst in the other and a maniacal expression on the face, 8 other wizard statues sans fire gems, 3 small white marble statues with ruby eyes and holding an iron spear, a black marble statue with an iron spear and shield, a small solid platinum gold & silver embossed jewel-studded harpy statue, a magic table bearing an illusory banquet, 3 superior quality quartz studded silver candelabras, 8 silver plates with matching silverware, and whole mass of both magical and non-magical but still precious gear. We easily found the rest of the wyvern’s lair across the black water which I was easily able to teleport both Tweena and Vorox, one at a time, into the cavern. We smote the wyvern hatchlings we encountered there and met a wandering and barely coherent berserker named Orn who took a small cut of the hoard after we found it and ran off after we exited the well. We rejoined Vorox’s dragonsaur and all three of his new followers, fortunately the monster rider keeps Greyshadow well-fed. We bivouacked by the well and settled into our bedrolls for a well-deserved rest.

I was awakened suddenly. “Harpies!” shrieked Feak just before he got snatched up in a harpy’s talons. We were able to rescue Feak, Tweena and Vorox took it down before it could carry him off, and fought the other two off of the attack. We managed to kill two of the she-beasts but the third was able to flee flying towards the distant mountains. The next morning we started back to Rockhollow. It started to rain by midday.

By evening while the others set camp I continued on for a couple of miles in the rain and dark so as to be able to teleport back to town and our lodge and a nice warm fire and hot food. My rest was deep and I had a dream concerning Blackgut’s emerald necklace (it was in the wyvern’s horde of all places) and something about the land meaning the valley of Rockhollow, needed to be “protected” whatever that meant. The others marched into town the next day.

We split the gems and coinage evenly and took up the magic items we individually wanted and could use the rest we decided to fence through my contact, Ebaik the alchemist. We set up a special auction in one of his back rooms which attracted some of the richest “collectors” in the valley including a shady mercenary and the fat merchant Keenor (see Pt.1). At the conclusion I slipped Keenor a dose of yellow lotus and took my fair share of the money and retired to my cellar lab at the lodge. That’s when it hit me.

Keenor was dead (see A Mage from Poisonwood: Pt. 7). I really need to lay off the lotus.

 

To Be Continued…

A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.5: A Day Late and a Troll Hoard Richer

The day after we fought the young Crimson Reaver in a torrential downpour we stood in the entrance passage of Black Gut’s lair. Our wounds mostly healed from the previous day’s battle with the young dragon. After Vorox had dropped it I managed to harvest a vial of venom from the corpse. Tweena was in the lead wielding the key-ring she snatched from Blackgut’s body before we torched it. Greyshadow, Vorox’s dragonsaur mount, was left to guard the tunnel entrance as he was simply too big to follow. I of course was taking up the rear of the party.

We followed Tweena down the roughly and freshly hewn stone 20 ft.-wide passage crossing a 20 ft.-wide pit crossed by a narrow but thick plank of wood at abouts halfway, past a couple of forking, primitively dug dirt tunnels and stopped briefly at a 15 ft. well-masoned archway where Tweena detected a trap door in the floor. Vorox crossed after she disarmed it and I simply teleported to a flagstone deemed safe by the dungeoneer. We found ourselves in a large rectangular chamber with stone-block walls. There were iron doors to the west and east and a large polished bronze door dead ahead. This door she opened with her keys and through the door we could see a green glow emanating poisonously from the west of the chamber behind and a large troll wearing a war-belt and wielding a warhammer near the rear wall of that chamber.

Tweena pegged the troll with a crossbow bolt and unwilling to walk into the chamber for fear of traps Vorox taunted the creature in an effort to draw it out. I zapped it with a lightning bolt and it retreated to the east out of our line of sight. Tweena quickly checked the floor in the doorway and found another trapdoor in the floor so I teleported to where the troll had been standing and gazing towards where the troll had run I spied a familiar hallway. It was the hall I had scryed several days earlier (see A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.1). The troll with the warhammer was just disappearing into a dark room at the end of the hall. I tried to catch him with my shadow ribbons spell but was too late. I hear the words, “Pull the lever!” No doubt gurgled from the diseased throat of the hammer-wielding coward followed by a series of mechanical clanks. Spikes came out of the ceiling and I was able to dodge the crushing ceiling to where I could remember seeing the lever. Unfortunately I found myself right next to a second troll.

I blinded the troll with a blinding flash and pulled the lever resetting the trap clearing the way for my pals. I spotted the silhouette of a troll-wife in the archway to the north which I knew was the torch-lit workshop of the recently late Blackgut. The lever-troll blindly lashed out clawing me but good, I teleported to the other side of the chamber, the first troll moved out of the shadows blocking my exit into the hall by the lever. Tweena and Vorox rounded the corner into my view and Vorox charged the first troll, the one wielding the warhammer. I attempted to cast phantom flame but it fizzled. The second and still completely blinded troll attempted to grab for the lever. Tweena dashed into the room and Vorox hacked down the warhammer troll in a single powerful strike. I used my gold magic ring, the one set with a ruby, unleashing an elemental blast of fire roasting the troll-wife a little. I then blasted her with a lightning bolt finally doing her in with a couple of acid bolts. Tweena jabbed the final troll with her dagger and Vorox finished him off. I zapped the leftover troll-meat with acid bolts ending the battle.

Tweena jaunted into the second archway to the north which led to a stinking, filthy kitchen. She said she had seen a ratling run in there during the fighting. I silently moved into the workshop and casting illuminate I spied and collected 6 gold talons, 10 silver talons, a talon mold, 10 iron pigs, and 1 titanium ingot from an open chest while the others hunted ratling in the troll’s mess. When the my companions entered after a little while, and long after I concealed my hard won booty, I pointed out a locked iron bound chest in the corner. I stepped just outside of the room. Tweena opened the chest lock avoiding the blade trap she triggered while doing so. She found a scale-mail vest with titanium inlay, 50 pieces of tiger eye, and 10 alexandrites. We went back south to the southernmost doorway with Tweena in the lead into what could only be described in the most banal terms as Blackgut’s bedchamber. The dungeoneer buzzed straight to the giant locked chest she spotted in the corner opposite the corner with the bucket/chamber-pot.

She thought it wasn’t trapped and picked the lock catching her hands in a spring-loaded blade trap nearly losing the fingers on both hands. Vorox had to rub some healing salve she had tucked away on her hands for her. Her hands were basically useless for the rest of the day. Within the chest we found a large sack filled with 500 gold pieces, 50 rubies, 1,000 silver pieces, 10 platinum pieces, and 50 copper pieces. There was also a high quality troll-make greatsword with a serpentine magic-alloy blade, a high quality troll-make dagger with a serpentine magic-alloy blade, a high quality titanium buckler, 5 bronze pigs, 50 gold talons, a manual on runes, 2 matching superior quality magic alloy battle axes with single large fire-emeralds on the heads and ironwood silver-wire wrapped grips, a superior quality large troll-make magic alloy greatsword, a high quality blue steel skull cap with star metal rivets inlaid with star metal, a high quality silver dagger with a jewel-encrusted grip, a highest quality platinum pectoral plate featuring a sculpted demon’s head bearing a large onyx gem in its multi-fanged mouth, 2 potions of healing, a potion of dampen magic, 1 oil of feather light, and several unlabeled bottles (2 of powder, 1 of oil and 2 of potions). Tweena also found a hidden compartment in one of the walls in which she found a lionel-hide bag of holding containing a medium silver shield with blood metal rivets, and dragon-hide bracers studded with dragon-bone. We began on our way out with Tweena still in the lead.

She led us to the source of the green glow and found a rather large fire-emerald which she appraised at around 8,000 gold pieces in value. We left it where it was as the ceiling and floor of the hallway at which the tempting, glowing gem was at the end of were made of solid steel. We all spent the night in the stone passage outside the lair entrance; a light sprinkle was coming down.

The next morning was marked by a torrential downpour so instead of traveling Tweena decided to make a go at the larger emerald, I was of course included in her plan to snatch it. I held out for the bag of holding. Her plan was to have me next to her when she grabbed the gem and I would teleport her out hopefully with the gem in her hands outside of the lair. SO the plan failed to capture the gem which was magically trapped with the Electrical Field spell and I lost one of my daggers, it had been stuck to the magnetized floor, when I teleported us out of there. The emerald was attached to its pedestal at the end of the steel hallway. It took about 2 days to get back to Rockhollow with a 1 day stopover in Blackwood and Druid Blackleaf’s tree through sporadic icy, cold showers.

It was still raining when we walked into town. Without pause I led the others to meet up with my alchemist contact, Ebaik, and paid him to identify the gear I couldn’t. The titanium buckler was a buckler of deflection and defence. The paired battle-axes had the ability to unleash the doom scythe spell on a critical strike. The skull cap was capable of casting the invisibility II and guardian shield spells. The pectoral plate was evil so the group agreed to let the alchemist “unmake” it. The silver shield was a simple magic shield and bracers were bracers of true-striking. The oil was an Oil of Stench; the powders were of Eagle Form and Conjure Flame. The potions were of Owl’s Wisdom and Fleet of Foot. After divvying up the equipment we went to deliver Blackgut’s horned helmet to Lord Black Eagle and collect our reward. We got 1,000 gold pieces for the bounty and an invite to Lord Black Eagle’s fall feast in 3 weeks. We left and were eager to get back to the longhouse in order to divvy up the remaining gems and coinage besides I was cold, tired and soaked to the bone. I was giving the teleport thing a rest.

Nailed to the front door with a crossbow bolt was poster bearing the mark of the Red Daggers and the words: 1,000 gold pieces for the head of Baerig Bronze Mask.

Great.

 

To Be Continued…

A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.4: …And on and on.

Vorox the monster rider and Blackgut the troll-boss were having at each other before the boulder that blocked the entrance to the troll’s lair and Tweena shot the black ratling that had harried me causing him to flee. The troll slave-master was busy backing up his boss against Vorox and the dragonsaurus so I teleported to the top of the wood pile and prepared to cast Phantom Flames again. The archer troll emerged from the bush his green cloak waving in the evening breeze; he appeared to be out of those big, black arrows. I unleashed my magic over the battlefield dropping Blackgut and the slave-master. Seeing this, the archer bolted. The seemingly deformed ratling, a proto-trollwife, chained to the lave-master was still alive and squealed as the remaining slaves attacked and killed her. Vorox and I finished the two crossbow wielding thugs. The bodies were looted and we burned used the wood pile to burn the troll bodies. The clouds moved in cutting off any moonlight and it started to rain.

I cast Mold & Shape Stone working a 12 ft. tunnel in the boulder both for shelter and in preparation for our foray into the lair on the morrow. I packed away my share of the spoils which was 76 gp, 3 gtal (gold talons), 1 vial containing a black sludge (4 doses of troll marital salve), several troll-make titanium daggers with serpentine blades, a pair of dragon-bone dice with jeweled pips, and a glowing starmetal amulet set with a large aquamarine. I donned the latter in order to find out what it did, it fortified my sense of willpower. After this I washed down some trail ration with the last of my wine and quickly dropped off into a deep sleep at the rear of the tunnel.

A roar from Greyshadow jolted me awake. Bleary eyed I could see my buddies fighting the troll-archer and the red-faced ratling. Both Tweena and Vorox appeared to be badly wounded. I came to my senses and the dragonsaurus charged into battle leaving the entrance to the tunnel where he had been standing guard. I pulled out a small vial of Paralyze II spell powder combining it with a casting of Mass Paralyze. My magic failed to take hold but feeling its power the troll archer turned tail and ran away. Vorox shouted a taunt attempting to draw him back into battle as he could not keep up with his enemy. Tweena shouted that she lost sight of the ratling and indeed he seemingly disappeared from the field. I cast Crown of Eyes but the magic got away from me and went wild. All of us including the dragonsaurus were crowned with a floating, rotating circlet of eyes above our heads. After scoping out the area Tweena and Vorox were sure that the pair had fled then when they returned to the tunnel Tweena found that the door to the lair was open just a crack and there were ratling tracks leading in.

Come dawn the slaves left and we prepared to camp out for another day as both Tweena and Vorox were still badly wounded and needed some rest, they had drunk most of their potions and were smeared from head to toe in Blackleaf’s medicinal salve. By lunch it had started to rain again which was coming down in gray torrents causing the creek to flood effectively isolating us from the other side. Not long after Tweena alerted us to the young Crimson Reaver that had come to perch on top of what was left of the wood pile near the remnants of the troll bonfire.

 

To Be Continued…

A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.3: The Battle Rages On…

The battle before Blackgut’s lair continued on. The whip wielding slave-master troll attempted to disarm Vorox’s axe and a troll that had charged across the creek went after Tweena preventing her from covering the field and us with her arrows. A fourth bestial type troll lurched at me with a double-claw strike but missed when I dodged teleporting to the large double door of the lair 30 ft. away. Vorox took a defensive stance as he traded blows with Blackgut as the troll had wounded him fairly badly but Greyshadow, his dragonsaurus, bit into the troll and rent the monster with his jaws. Unfortunately this caused Vorox to be thrown from the saddle. I attempted to cast Phantom Flames but failed. A bestial troll, the slave-master and Blackgut continued to engage Vorox whom was barely able to stave off their attacks with his tower shield. The troll that was after me continued to close as I tried to gather myself and get that spell out. That was when I noticed a scruffy black-haired ratling next to me who stabbed me in the back with a poisoned dagger. I teleported away from him preventing me from casting my spell and Vorox narrowly avoided a power attack from Blackgut’s massive flail while he jumped back into the saddle.

Vorox, Greyshadow, Blackgut and the slave-master dusted it up with Vorox scoring a massive blow against the boss troll. I spotted Tweena running towards the bridge drinking a potion as she was badly wounded. A large black arrow flew out of nowhere and pegged Vorox in the side. The black ratling nailed me again with his dagger and I teleported 10 ft. from his other side. The small cadre of slaves that had been slowly creeping forward towards my position suddenly attacked the shadow-ribbon bound shaman bashing him to death with rocks. In the central fight Greyshadow the dragonsaurus got a large chunk ripped out of him by a bestial troll and then again as another bestial fell upon him. I was finally able to get my phantom flames spell off but it had little to no effect on any of the trolls. Vorox and Greyshadow were ripping into Blackgut and I lost sight of the black ratling. The troll near me went on the attack and I was able to stop his claws with a shadow ribbons spell and then teleported away to another point on the battle field and acid-bolted one of the bestials attacking Vorox. At the same moment Vorox was disarmed by the slave-master troll’s whip. Greyshadow ran away from the center of the battle and the monster rider (Vorox) snatched up his axe as he rode by. Since I was left vulnerable a bestial troll that had been attacking Vorox tried to get at me but I got him first with shadow ribbons and then Blackgut nearly crushed me with a blow from his heavy flail forcing me to teleport and slam down the Arch-cure potion I was carrying.

I was behind the large wood pile still near the center of the battlefield and was able to see that the troll that had been harassing Tweena through the battle had chased her across the bridge, she turned and put an arrow in him. Vorox and Greyshadow had reared back around to the center of the battle where the slave-master was cracking a whip at him. Seeing that the coast was clear I stepped from behind the pile and cast phantom flame once again hoping to end the battle in spectacular fashion. The purple flames caught the slave-master and a bestial, the bestial dropped then Vorox charged in and dropped the badly wounded slave-master with a chop from his axe. I dodged a large black arrow by teleporting to the opposite side of the wood pile. Blackgut shouted out, “Where’s my PRIZE! No prize, no fight!” The troll-boss turned and began to move towards the lair doors.

Tweena was busy outrunning and shooting at the troll pursuing her and Vorox was fighting a bestial so I cast Stone Sphere dropping a gigantic boulder in front of and against the lair double-doors crushing a bestial troll at the same time. Vorox dropped the bestial. Blackgut shouted out, “Why is there a giant rock in my front DOOR!” He then turned and used his flail in a sweep attack against the monster rider and dragonsaurus leaving Vorox gasping, trying to keep himself conscious. The troll that had been chasing Tweena dropped his disgusting body bristling with arrows. She lit a torch with the intention of burning the corpse, I teleported next to her. A large black arrow shattered on Vorox’s shield. Blackgut went after the monster rider in earnest and I readied myself for any incoming. Suddenly Blackgut, who had the upper hand in his fight with Vorox, screamed and snatched something invisible off of his shoulders, it became visible as it landed won its feet with flop on the ground, a red-faced ratling. The ratling was bearing the symbol of the Red Daggers on his doublet with the glittering emerald necklace that had adorned Blackgut’s flabby neck in his sharp-nailed hands.

Vorox shouted out pointing at a clump of brush at the extreme north-east of the battle field on the slope where we could all see a troll-archer fumbling with a large black arrow and his black bow, the string had broken. Seeing how injured I was Tweena grabbed my head and poured a healing potion down my throat. A crossbow bolt shattered on Vorox’s shield shot from a large rock near the creek at the far south-west end of the battlefield to where the red-faced ratling was fleeing, I teleported to the rocks and cast Mass Paralyze freezing a pair crossbowmen where they squatted by the creek both also bearing the arms of the Red-Daggers. Blackgut roaring charged after the ratling and Vorox hacked at the troll but missed nearly losing his weapon. The ratling dove into water and the troll slave-master stood back up still badly wounded but regenerating fast. I cast a lightning bolt at the ratling in the water but he incredibly was able to avoid the electricity entirely! Vorox charged Blackgut on his mount. The boss-troll roared and missed the monster rider with a powerful swing of his weapon. The slave-master resumed his whip attacks against Vorox and Greyshadow sank his teeth into Blackgut badly wounding the giant armored troll. I shot another lightning bolt at the ratling energizing the general area of water where I thought he might be as he was completely submerged. I saw an outline of the little beast in the crackling flash of light but since no corpse floated to the surface so I had to assume that he had escaped me. Damn, I really wanted that necklace.

 

To Be Continued…