The Dragonslayers II Pt. 17: A Black Moon Rising

Our trio of heroes found their selves gathered around a table in the Harbor Tavern in Asternor two days after the battle on the delta their weary faces masked in yellow candlelight. The army had left earlier in the day, earlier than they had told Bers and Vorwulf due to Lord Vorahd wounds not healing. Grom the shaman had diagnosed that the satyr’s ghost was at work against Vorahd and realized that it would fade into the astral plane every sunrise and emerge each dusk to prevent his wounds from healing. Grom had also run into the faunic bard Canohk accompanied by a rather large arborean and the druid from fertum Vorahd mourning the loss of marshal Bullom Rock-Puncher. It was then he realized that they meant to bury the dead under stone cairns and then he went on a rant trying to convince them to burn the bodies as “Blackbrow was on the move”. It was at this time that a tired looking warrior pushed a jack full of wine into his chest which he gulped down and then promptly passed out from exhaustion rather than the wine. The next thing he knew, he told the other two slayers, was that he was being carried on a litter through the woods. He ended up having to guide the army to Asternor as they had decided to travel overland back to Merdna but had become lost.
While collapsed by the treasure chests Bers and Vorwulf had suffered another nightmare from the fighter lich (see the Dragonslayers II Pt. 5) and saw in the nightmare the black disc high in the sky which they now recognized as a black moon with a vast army of undead marching even in the day before Dead-Eye, their former companion now presumably undead, loosed his arrows on them which prompted them to suddenly awake. They let the shaman know that their chests were intact but they had to leave them in the lair. The pair had flown during the night using Bers’ Cape of Bat Flight along the river in search of the ships eventually finding them safely moored in Asternor. They rented rooms and went to Vorwulf’s to make plans for the recovery of their treasure. Bers & Vor revealed to the shaman that they had taken the Gate Stones and a manual that the trolls had been using when they interrupted them. When Bers and Vor had arrived at the Harbor Tavern they found the shaman drinking and eating with Zancor the one-armed. Vor dusted himself off as he entered in an effort to appear “all tough” and began bluffing Zancor telling him that the “troll-guy” had taken their stuff. Zancor had easily seen through the ruse and excused himself after shooting a glare at the ranger/dragonslayer. After they had decided on a plan of action they all retired to their respective beds.
The slayers’ sleep was fitful plagued again by the fighter-lich and the visions of the black moon and an undead army.
Come morning after finding there were no mounts or even beasts of burden available for rent or purchase and after buying 1,500 gold pieces worth of rope and tackle they had decided to jump on the wagons contracted by Lord Vorahd to take him, his jarl and housecarls back to Merdna. By late afternoon they were back in Merdna and had already paid the wagoneers 1 gold talon apiece to take them to the top of Hirok the following morning before they went back to their tavern the Hopping Rat. As soon as they stepped in the door they found a messenger waiting for them from the Blackwings Guild. They went to the cellar to meet with him and received word and a warrant for the apprehension of Xanto the Wasp as the Tome of Dragonslaying that was recovered from him turned out to be a fake. The price on his head was 10,000 gold pieces and they would have exclusive rights for 1 year, if he wasn’t apprehended (or killed) before then the guild (with the blessings of the mage guild of Chago, the Pillars of Vision) will issue an open bounty throughout the land. They agreed and went upstairs to sleep.
Bers (Played by Jen): “C’mon let’s get to the lair. I want my treasure!”
It took them a full day to travel from Merdna to the top of Hirok along the North road losing 1 wagon to a mishap with a boulder and a broken axel, the driver and the oxen were fine however. They set up the rig above the gaping hole which opened into the high chamber of the former dragon’s lair and through that floor down into a massive water-cavern. It was after the rig was all set around noon that they noticed the black moon low on the western horizon. Basically they all shrugged. Grom cast a spell on himself enabling him to fly for a brief time (Nature’s Ability) and took the end of the rope and flew down into the passage into the treasure room where the chests rested. He landed on the precipice of the passage, a 20 ft. drop to the dark water behind him, and lit a torch. He saw something step from the darkness about 20 ft. in front of him.
It: “I’m gonna skin you alive and laugh in your face while you scream!”
The creature stank of rotting flesh steeped in brimstone and appeared as a winged, horned emaciated creature whose blackened flesh appeared to drip from its partially exposed bones. He recognized a demon when he saw one. Its claws slashed at him narrowly missing and he stepped to the side and let loose his Primal Scream which alerted the other two who waited above for a tug on the rope but which did not have as much of an effect on the demon as the shaman had hoped. Vorwulf immediately went to grap the rope and rappel down but fumbled (a Natural 1) and fell straight into the water taking no damage from the 100 ft. (but probably more) fall arcing his body into a perfect dive (Cris rolled a Natural 20 to save). Bers successfully grabbed the rope but as Grom was still only holding the other end she found herself falling into the black water below and sinking quickly in its depths. The shaman got a severe rope burn across the palm. Vorwulf activated his boots of water walking and grabbed Bers on his way to the surface.
Grom tried to push the demon over the cliff and into the drink using a Windrush spell twice, unsuccessfully before Bers and Vorwulf were able to make it to his side. The demon had unleashed a couple of blasts of black lightning at him hitting him causing his flesh to whither where it touched him passing through his armor proving it useless. The demon backed away using its leathery wings and cast a death spell which Grom and Vor were able to withstand easily, Bers however rolled a Natural 1 and dropped dead. Vorwulf shot the creature but did little damage even with a magic frost arrow and quickly switched to his swords. Grom kept dodging the monsters’ attacks as it kept flying in and focusing its attacks on him. Bers’ corpse sprung to unlife before the end of the first round and swung its axe at Vorwulf but missing and Grom blasted the demon with another wind-rush but he failed to take into account that it had gotten in between him and Vorwulf. The ranger was slammed into the wall opposite Grom and then slammed by Bers’ corpse before he and the newly undead Bers fell into the water. The corpse went under but Vorwulf landed on the surface due to his magic boots. He used his cutlass to dimension door back to the shaman’s side.
It took another 2 rounds to take out the death demon with the shaman sticking to a strategy of dodge-everything and Vorwulf getting the deathblow which caused the monster to explode in a storm of purplish bolts of negative energy. The surviving pair of dragon-slayers were somewhat hurt and in shock at the loss of their companion.
Gill (Grom’s Player): “Aww man, our heavy-hitters’ gone!”
They spent the next 3 days recovering the chests and another to make it back safely to Merdna. They set the chests in the cellar and contemplated hiring guards and getting security installed. Over the next few days Grom crafted a Totem of Spirit Protection for Lord Vorahd solving the satyr-ghost dilemma and the pair prepared for winter. The surviving slayers took note, kind of, of black moon as it inched painfully but steadily along its path in the sky day and night from west to east nearing its zenith just before the first winter storm.
Sometime later long after the first snowstorm of the season and on the eve of another in the dead of freezing night a messenger beating on the door of the Hopping Rat roused the duo from a dead and strangely un-haunted sleep delivering to them a message.
Messenger: “Lord Vorahd demands your presence at his manor now! Achoran has fallen and Asternor is under siege. A sizeable force is on the move north along the road and they have a DRAGON with them!”

The End of the Second Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between January and July 2014).

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 16: The God-King Awaits!

The battle was over and the field was aflame, the moans of the dying barely audible over the roaring fires. The slayers had begun to fall back with the Westlander forces that were dragging what companions they could grab with them. Vorwulf glanced over the field as he and Bers retreated. He caught sight of a pair of wounded and barely moving lumberjacks through the flames their gory broadaxes next to them. He ran over to see what he could do. The first he came upon was lying on his back grasping a severe stomach wound. Vorwulf recognized him as Forgax the bad-tempered foreman of the woodcutters. He went to grab the elder man by the shoulders.

Forgax (begging Vorwulf and motioning to the other woodsman): “Wait. Wait. Check on poor Arik.”

Vorwulf went to the other man who was considerably younger and lying face down. He confirmed the younger was dead and when he turned to take Forgax up, he was dead as well.

Vorwulf: “Damn. Oh well.”

Back at the far south end of the delta Bers and Vorwulf met beck up with each other at Lord Vorahd’s pavilion. They saw the shaman assisting the healers with the wounded while at the same time trying to cook a stew under the nose of the camp cook. The pair left eh shaman to his work. When they turned they saw Lord Vorahd being drug on a litter into his tent with a gaping belly wound and rent armor.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “S#*t. I’ll give him one of my healing potions. Does that help?”

The potion helped somewhat but seemed a bit ineffective though it stopped the bleeding. Lord Vorahd immediately gave the pair orders to scout out the lair and authority to take along a few men. Vorahd wanted to make sure they would not be ambushed while they were still so vulnerable. The pair of slayers decided to forego snatching up any “peons” and decided to double time it to Old Sawback’s Lair and from there try to prowl inside. They decided to eat some of the shaman’s soup before setting out on the mission. Grom had made the soup from the frogs he found on the battlefield, the ones that used to be trolls.

After about an hour’s travel they made it under cover of darkness to the mouth of the lair to where Vorwulf had tracked the retreating trolls, the trickling of the creek water which flowed from the cave being the only sound. The bright orange of the flames of the battlefield loomed angrily behind them past the night-black pines.  Both the slayers could see the giant troll commandant trying to stay hidden just inside of the cave entrance probably prepared for a surprise attack as soon as the slayers attempted to enter. Bers used her magic boots to kick a boulder at the giant troll but missed.

3 large trolls armed with two-handed hammers and wearing scale mail armor, wolf-skin mantles on their backs, and steel caps on their heads. Vorwulf dropped his bow and pulled out his heavy great axe and Bers repeatedly swung power attack after power attack with her axe. It took only 2 rounds to bring down all 4 trolls. After they were all down Vorwulf emptied a jug of acid he had purchased for such an occasion over the twitching and fast regenerating corpses.

After their easy victory over the last troll unit that had taken the field they were trying to remember where the treasure chamber to the lair was and how to get there as the lair was by no means small, it was a twisty complex of caves with a subterranean river running through it. After a short while they just decided to use Bers’ Cape of Bat-Flight, as it was still night, to fly to the top of Hirok where they knew the opening to the central shaft of the lair was located. They had hoisted the 3 massive treasure-laden chests through it before burying them under the shadows of the broken towers; ruins at the far end of Hirok. This took them about an hour to maneuver up to the shaft at the top of the hill. Once inside, however, they easily maneuvered their way to the entrance of the inner lair, a passageway lit with hundreds of oil lamps set into the niches in the smoothed rock walls. They landed on the cliff’s edge which dropped to the dark subterranean river below. At the end of the massive vaulted passage where a pair of equally titanic polished gold doors bearing the image of a ridge-back dragon behind which was the treasure chamber. However four 10 ft tall suits of animated armor bearing the twisted faces of roaring trolls stood in a line before the doors, from behind them the pair could hear chanting.

The slayers turned invisible using their cloaks of Invisible to Sight and tried to sneak past the orange-steel constructs. As soon as they got within 100 ft of the orange-armor the constructs began to advance on them. The constructs were armed with shields and spiked maces made of the same strange metal as themselves. The pair rushed to meet the lumbering things with Vorwulf peppering one of them with his nega-steel arrows then switching to his great axe when he finally closed. Bers rushed in swinging wildly and in the second round dropped it to slip on her Gauntlet of Transmutation in an effort to reduce one of the constructs to a puddle of slime, but it made its save easily against the gauntlet’s magic. Vor became surrounded by three of the four while Bers bashed away at the one dueling with her in the third round. The tide turned when Bers shattered the one she was fighting and ran to assist Vor who was taking it from all sides but steadily wearing down two of his metallic foes. By the end of the battle which lasted for 5 rounds Vor was somewhat worse for the wear but Bers was only slightly scratched. After guzzling some healing potions they noticed that one of the great double-doors was slightly ajar. They peaked inside.

They saw a pile of gold and other riches disappear with a flash at the center of a circle of roughly hewn gemstones while a nearby half-troll mage chanted in front of an open tome. 3 latter-generation trolls each bearing a large chest (an Orange-Red Metal Chest, a Mother of Pearl Chest and a Titanium Chest with Quartz Hardware; the slayers’ buried treasure) were approaching the circle. Looking on the proceedings were 2 young brownfang dragons, 2 very tough looking brown-skinned dragonsauri and a giant creature which looked like a cross between a brownfang dragon and a troll with a large tome dangling form a chain around its neck.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Aw man! We can’t take all those guys on! We’re wounded on top of it!”

Jen (Bers’ Player): “Maybe I should just use the mallet!”

They waffled a bit finally deciding on using the Mallet of Mass Harm to even the odds possibly netting an easy victory reducing its remaining charges to 1. Bers struck it on the ground and the latter-generation trolls, the half-troll mage and the pair of young brownfangs shrieked and fell dead onto the floor. Bers activated the shield ability on her helm and charged through the gap in the doors and came face to face with a dragonsaurus it snapped at her but missed. She swung at it with her axe wounding it.

The big creature, the so-named God-King of Trollguard, ran at her and stomped on her dissipating the shield spell on her. The second dragonsaurus charged her and snatched her in its jaws, she had rolled a natural 1, and then proceeded to rend her whipping its head and her side to side savagely. Vor, still just outside of the doors, activated his Boots of Fleet of Foot. When Vorwulf charged in Bers retreated to drink down a Potion of Heal as she was very badly wounded saved only by a successful luck roll from instant death. Bers rejoined the fight and the pair battled it out with the pair of dragonsauri and the God-King next to the double-doors. By the end of the first round they had taken out one of the dragonsaurs and leaving the other badly wounded and dying. Vorwulf, using his extra attacks granted by the Fleet of Foot ability, drank down a Potion of Might essentially turning himself into a superhero.

The second round saw Vor a whirlwind of activity delivering power-attack after power-attack and Bers downing two more potions in order to stay in the game while the God-King of Trollguard kept trying to stomp them into jelly forcing them to dodge repeatedly. Bers dropped the second dragonsaurus. The third round of battle began with the God-King missing with a power-claw strike at Bers and her retaliating with a power-chop with her axe and Vorwulf following with a slash of his paired cutlasses. The God-King then made a stomp at Vorwulf who rolled a Natural 1 to dodge the monster’s giant foot.

Fortunately a luck roll saved him, barely though he took enough damage to be very near death. Bers took down the monster with a power-attack dealing just enough damage to drop it. They doused its corpse in the remaining acid they carried with them and collapsed giddy from exhaustion and loss of blood against their treasure chests.


To Be Continued…

Original Lair Map
Original Lair Map