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…