The Arvan Game: Pt. 6

On their way to the ruins of Blackbrow our intrepid pair, Dead-Eye the ranger (played by Cris) and Bers the fighter (played by Jennifer), pulled along their donkey packed with an ample month’s worth of rations, water, beer, rope and a couple of 10 ft poles. Around high noon a lion attempted to punce on their pack animal and Bers slew it in a single swing of her axe, then felt guilty for some reason. By nightfall they had veered North-East from the road and already ascended the first hillside at the foot of which lay the Barrows (an ancient burial ground complete with tumuli still in use by the locals of the Cleft-Rills). They had gathered up against another higher hillside concealed underneath a hedge of thorn-bushes and tough woody hill-scrub sans fire (just in case). To their immediate North lay the Meadows, a foul marsh.
During the night as the Donkey and Bers slept, Dead-Eye heard someone or something moving quickly and quietly through the high-grass and woody-bush. He peeked out and saw a scrawny Otkid (wild Fawn savages) in cowhide with javelin in hand and a well-made hunting horn strapped to his back. He came uncomfortably close to their position and after he passed Dead-Eye carefully woke Bers and they waited. After a few seconds a group of 12 Otkid marched by quickly and quietly traveling Southward. They kept alert till the morn.
They spent the better part of the next day pulling the donkey up the slippery hill, they reached the top of the hill which spurred from the direction where the hill atop which the tower of Blackbrow sat. It was dark by the time they reached the shadow of Blackbrow. What they saw was a ruined dark keep with a 10 ft wide open trapezoidal entryway and a stone well surrounded by dusty desolation. They quickly inspected the inside of the tower seeing no immediate threats and citing there were a set of steps going up into the upper floors, which appeared intact. Dead-Eye assumed the lair of the Wyvern must be below probably at the bottom of the well. In spite of that since it was growing dark they decided to camp outside by the well and started a fire. Needless to say the Wyvern lept into their camp after exhaling a blast of hallucinogenic gas, both adventurers were driven insane for the duration, 24 hrs.
The next night they began to come to, hungry, covered in dirt and Dead-Eye with pockets full of stones realizing their donkey was gone eaten by the dragon. They began to gather their equipment which was scattered all over the hilltop when the Wyvern flew in upon them and blasted them again, again they failed their saving throws and were thrown back into madness. During the late hours of that night a group of two men and a hill-giant came upon them with camouflage painted cloaks from the direction of the marsh as they wandered babbling over the hillside and decided, wisely, to avoid them. Again the two began to emerge from their stupor the next evening, starving, dying of thirst and excessively filth covered just in time to see the dragon flyby and gas them again this time Dead-Eye got a Natural 20 on his save and gave Bers a dose of Negate Toxin potion purchased in Fertum Dreyhawk. They immediately ran into the 80 ft tall tower and hide under the niche of the steps and behind the pile of stones which lay at the center of the dirt floored entrance chamber. They took turns sleeping and pledged themselves to hunt the dragon at first light.
So they decided to check the upper parts fo the tower when morning finally came. They carefully moved up the millenial worn steps of powder-black stone into a pitch black chamber. They lit their torches and had only 3 between them. They observed a small L-shaped chamber, rusted sconces lay anchored in the North and East walls, a yellowed candle sat in the North one and a human-scale doorway yawned in the West. Dead-Eye took the candle and tucked it away as they moved further in. They inspected the first door they came to was a solid bronze door with a relief of a grinning demon atop a pile of skulls. They turned their attentions to the opening to the South avoiding the demon-door like the plague. They thoroughly searched the handful of litter-filled dust-choked rooms they found for another way up and found none. They returned to the demon door and found it locked. So Bers kicked it in. They were met immediately with a rush of fowl stale air. Behind the door was a spiral stone-stair which was cracked and crumbling but still holding fast. They went up.
They came to a tiny chamber which was lit by a small obviously magic orb of light which flickered unpredictably in the corner next to anotehr door identical to the former which they kicked open as a team this time. They made a note to purchase to a crowbar the next time they were in the Fertum. They entered into a small 15 ft x 15 ft chamber with a rusted iron door to the East with uncharged runes scribed onto its surface and a Rotten Wooden door criss-crossed with blade marks, spoted with burns bearing uncharged runes carved into its face. They went with the “easy” one and broke down the wood door even though it wasn’t locked or barred. and walked into a hall which turned to the East. The hallway floor was cramped with armored bodies which crumbled into dust before their eyes as the fresh air from outside seemed to follow the two slayers and the weapons and armor became useless trash. Among the ruin, teh walls were scarred with blast marks, stood an anthropoid statue which had been that of a muscular youth but which was half destroyed having no head and a single arm left. It immediately attacked as they approached.
They hammered at the aniamted statue for 3 melee rounds until it was a pile of gravel. Bers taking a good blow (it’s only hit). They walked around after the fight and followed the hall as it bent Northward finding a staircase going up to the next level and another rusted iron door in the West wall. They took turns bashing at it and kicking it until by luck (a Natural 20) Dead-Eye kicked it open. Not before however, Bers broke her dagger trying to pry the door open. The room was mostly empty and on the far end they could see the other rusted iron door they first encountered before the statue. on the walls were a set of crossed weapons, a falchion and a battel axe. They both entered the room to see if the weapons were worth looting. The weapons suddenly animated, flew at them and attacked. Dead-Eye took a Defensive Stance and Bers just kept swinging with her axe and parrying with her shield behind which her torch burned. It took 2 rounds before the weapons lay shattered at their feet and Dead-Eye and Bers both nursed some wounds. They proceeded up the stairs to the Fourth floor.
The black steps terminated into a spacious chamber which comprised the entire floor. The room was filled with a dim pale light which illuminated the corpse strewn flags. The bodies, reduced to rags and bones and continuing to disintegrate in the freshening air, lay at the foot of a carved jade throne. On it sat a skeleton mummified strips of flesh still clinging to its frame. A dozen swords nailing it to the throne, among them a single blade shone with the sickly light which filled the chamber. Bers scanned the corpses on the ground and saw the blade of a great sword gleaming with reflected light locked in the death grip of its former owner. She ripped it out of the skeletal hand before Dead-Eye could stop her, but nothing happened because of it. She inspected the sword, it was a single handed great sword of superior quality with a silver blade stamped with the image of an anvil being struck with a hammer. She decided to keep it. Dead-Eye also scanned the dead but saw nothing and decided to inspect the throne (Cris making a point ot state that he was not going to touch anything just look). He spotted a seam on the seat around the corpse which could be a secret panel but would have to move the body (which was pinned to the chair with several swords, one being obviosuly magical I would remind you) and decided not to “risk it.” He knew, “it was a damned ghoulie.” Don’t fret some of you’ll get a chance to find out what’s in there since I borrowed this from an initial draft of the Obsidian Doom adventure module. So they decided to check the steps that were against the South wall behind the throne. As they could see no obvious traps, tripwires or broken steps they ascended to the 5th floor.
They noticed the smell of decades, probably longer, of bird mess while the decrepit
wooden floor creaked precariously beneath their feet. The stuffy darkness was pierced by beams of light from holes in the roof. Before them, to teh North, lay a black lacquered double dor with severe water damage glowing runes on each. There were also open archways both opening to the North at the far right and left. They went right and found themselves in a claustrophobic passagway choked with dust, rotten boxes and detritus which eneded in a red lacquered door. It was locked and so they tried to kick it in. Surprisingly the decrepit wooden door stood up to their kicks so they hit with their swords, Bers completely shattered it with a single hit. Behind it in a tiny 10 ft square room was a badly rusted iron trunk. So they whipped out their daggers in order to pry it open. Dead-Eye tried it with his spare dagger and broke it. Bers tried it with her last dagger and snapped the blade. So Dead-Eye took out his Bowie Knife and with a bit of luck and a Natural 20 popped the lock with a twist of the wrist. Within was 3 potions (each labeled with 1 being Eyes and Ears of the Dragon and two being spell powders of Miniaturization), 1 Scroll (Turn Beasts), and a pair of boots (to be identified). Note that Bers is the one that can read, Dead-Eye is illiterate.
To the immediate East was another red door which Bers easily kicked down and they continued to the rickety wood staircase in the East corner upon which sunlight streamed down from the open hatch above. Dead-Eye carefully went up into teh battlements but spotted a nest atop a wood frame platform at the center of the tower battlements and a Roc eyeballing him probably atop its egg. So he carefully went back down to Bers and decided that there was nothing of interest up there, he being a ranger and Rocs being natural creatures on this world (Eu).
They hurried down the passageway that led directly South from teh wooden steps and Dead-Eye hit a weak point in the floor and nearly fell through noting the hole was directly above the steps below meaning he could have fallen two floors instead of just one. They went back around through the room with an iron trunk and went all the way down to the bottom. They decided to rest for awhile as dusk was upon them.
They had just settled down when Dead-Eye spotted movement just outside the door suspecting it was the dragon he took out and uncorked his last Neutralize Poison potion and motioned for Bers to do the same. As the blast of gas was shot into the towers ground floor they downed their potions saving them from tis insanity inducing effects. The dragon then walked out of Dead-Eye’s range around the corner and waited apparently apprehensive about entering the tower itself. They quickly decided to make a search of the ground floor for a route of escape or a good hiding place.
They noticed a damp cool draft wafted from under the larger gaps in the stone-pile. They began to remove the stones from the pile and found an old moldy well underneath from which they could hear running water. As far as they could tell the well opened up into an underground cavern in which a body of water probably an underground river flowed. Before tying a rope around his waist and having Bers lower him down into the well gave the tower’s ground floor another once-over. He found a hidden trapdoor in the niche under the steps in which he had spent the night. It led down into the very cave in which the well opened. They lit their torches and ventured down the roughly hewed and slimy steps.
They entered a large natural cavern which was partly roughly hewn a 25 ft wide course of water flowed to the South at their right. They traveled South along the bank, the roughly hewn wall to the left skewed suddenly at an angle narrowing the bank. They could see a barred door in this wall through which they could see a small chamber wet with slime its floor littered with grime blackened chains and cuffs. While inspecting this long forgotten prison-cell Bers was suddenly struck by a large serpent which had slithered from the water. Dead-Eye wounded it with a strike from his longsword and it retreated back into the water. Bers passed her saving throw for the venom and only suffered the secondary effects, about 8 points of Hit-Point damage. Jen (Bers’ player) just shrugged, “it’s nuthin.” Of course, it’d be a couple of days before that damage would even begin to heal.
They leapt down a 5 ft ledge into a shallow pool of water running off of the main body into a crack in the dead-end after the angled wall. The crack was just big enough to squeeze through so Dead-Eye led the way. He made it easily through the 20 ft crack but Bers got stcuk, due to her armor, and the water rapidly built up behind her and began running over the top of her head so Dead-Eye gave her mighty tug and she dislodged along with the water pushing them both into the center of the foul smelling chamber behind the crack head first into a pile of rotting semi-fleshed bones streaming with rats and beetles. both of their torches were useless while they got to their feet in complete blackness. Dead-Eye fumbled for the candle he had stuck in his hip-sack and struggled to light it while the squeaking of rats grew louder about them. Once lit the candle shed light over the bone littered chamber, obviously the feeding chamber of the Wyvern, and a huge hoard ravenous rats which immediately attacked them. They hacked away at them as they ran for the nearest exit. The rats did not pursue as they wandered bleeding into what appeared to be a smooth walled passage. The floor undulated and was slick and pearlescent, the trademark of a wyvern’s lair. They crept carefully into the nearest side passage and the candle suddenly flared and ignited a pocket of gas, they got a bit singed. They found the passage dead-ended and decided to continue owth the main passage and hit another gas pocket shortly after. The passage finally terminated in a small chamber with a mud-pit (the wyvern’s wallow) at its center a water-filled sidespur and another passage winding completely around from the North to the East. Three wyvern hatchlings attacked hidden in the mud-wallow and our two dragon-slayers easily slew them in a single round. They inspected the Northern passage which wound East and found it broke through into a well, probably the well outside of Blackbrow keep. The bottom continued down for at least 60 more feet. They traveled back around to the feeding chamber the remaining rats scurried away. The West end of the feeding chamber opened onto the flowing water of the underground river.
Dead-Eye could swim but Bers couldn’t especially in chain mail. So Dead-Eye decided to swim over to the shore he could just spot 35 ft diagonally from where they stood 10 to 15 ft inside of a partial passage withint he feeding chamber. He would tow a rope to the otherside and pull Bers to him through the water. So he clamped his bowie knife in his teeth and tied the rope (they had salvaged 50 ft from what had been carried by their ill-fated donkey) around his waist and jumped into the water. He struggled against the current but made it to the otherside, stood up and turned. Just in time to see Bers get pulled under by the Wyvern which had leapt from the water and snatched her from the shore. It drug her down, she kept a strong grip on the rope which after a really brief struggle yanked Dead-Eye into the water as well. So whipped the dagger from his teeth and stabbed the dragon. It quickly swam away and they both made it back to the mouth of their desired landing. They quickly made their way in and found it a dead-end and the tresure horde fo the Wyvern in the center of the room after lighting the oil lamp that Bers realized she had been carrying this entire time (original issued equipment). It was set at the far end and they waited for the dragon which immediately charged in a rage from the water.
The battle lasted for 3 melee rounds, they actually kept on top of it fearing its insanity-inducing breath weapon (and them being out of Neutralize Poisons). Bers began the battle by dodging twice in a row the creature’s tail stinger as she was now ailing from the cumulative damage she had suffered through the day. Dead-Eye had to make a recovery check to keep from falling unconscious and possibly dying which used up an attack from the second round. The creature got in a breath blast in the middle of the second round fortunately they had all been turned around and the area of effect being a cone both of the slayers were too close to be affected (oversight on my part actually). The third round was more in the favor of the slayers but Bers again began the round with a dodge, both had taken alot of damage and in their words their armor was “trashed”. Bers got the death blow and the creature died with a hateful gurgle. They commenced to looting the chamber, Dead-Eye was loathe to take skin and bone from “a dirty wyvern.”
They copped a Silver Close Helm, a superior quality cutlass with an electrum embossed grip and a dark metal blade with electrum rivets, a light crossbow, a composite shortbow, a mace with an alexandrite head and a glowing rune on the grip, a longspear and several jewels (3 malachite, 4 amethysts, 2 pieces turqiouse and 1 garnet). Their trip back to Fertum Dreyhawk was miserable but uneventful though rather cheery as they had the prospect of having the ger identified and having the money to pay for it easily.

To be continued …

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