tag

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 7: The Pillage of Ekit’s Watch

After having defeated the were-raven mage Moezra and his gruesome demon the slayers crept cautiously up the stone steps which rose from the ground floor and its black oubliettes to an archway flickering with flame-light.

Vorwulf: “This is a wizard’s lair so watch it.”

Bers: “No duh!”

The room at the top of the steps was small with an angular northwest wall in which was a large cleft revealing the latrine. The room was torch-lit and windowless with a door-less archway to the east and a solid bronze door with an image of a roaring demon over the entire door-face in the south wall. The south door did appear to be locked and all could see the evil glow of the rune engraved on the demon-image’s forehead. Vorwulf peeked through the archway into what appeared to be a sitting room from which a narrow band of sunlight beamed in through the arrow slit in the north wall. There was a black iron door in the south wall bearing the image of a twisting serpent, also apparently locked, an unlit golden candelabrum on either side. A table of an unidentifiable exotic wood squatted in the dark northwest corner on which sat an astrolabe and a small wood box, a finely carved bone pipe sitting atop that. Vorwulf took the pipe and checked the box in which he found contained fine smoking herbs. There was also an unlabeled vial of yellow powder which the shaman identified as yellow lotus pollen and he took that. There was also a stuffed leather chair in the niche next to the arrow slit. They proceeded to an archway in the east wall from which a spicy scent was wafting.

Bunches of all kinds of spices were hanging from the ceiling rafters and the angled northeast wall was lined with shelves filled with bottles of spices, a 1lb. sack of salt, 3 bottles of wine, 1 jar of honey and 10 lbs. of salt fish. On a small square table in the north corner sat a wheel of cheese, a knife, fork, spoon and a stack of 4 wood cups, 4 wood bowls and 4 wood plates. On the floor beneath it sat a 10 lb. sack of nuts. In the southwest corner next to the door in the south wall was bronze-wood barrel with a loose cover. The door was a solid looking wood door which could only be opened from the other side. The shaman occupied himself in collecting as many spices he could carry while Bers contemplated the door. Vorwulf lifted the lid of the barrel and found a plate of roasted chicken, a loaf of freshly baked bread and steaming squash & potatoes along with a full jack of fine wine. He replaced the cover and Kyr tried it out but failed to pull anything else out of it. The shaman performed clairvoyance on the bronze demon-door and the black iron door. He found that the bronze door if touched would emit the effects of the Fear spell if touched by any other than Moezra. The black iron door would emit a cone of poison gas filling the entire chamber if touched by any other than Moezra. He returned to the larder with his new revelations just as Bers decided to try the wood door. Bers tried to kick down the wood door but failed. Grom (the shaman) cast Bull’s Strength on her but it still took another 3 tries to bash the door down.

They found themselves in what appeared to be a magical laboratory. Alchemist’s glassware covered the long worn table in the southwest. There was a large wooden chest in the northwest and northeast corners on both sides of their entrance both were locked. Grom found 3 bottles of acid, 1 bottle of powered diamond, 1 polished copper mirror and an alchemical manual on the table. Vorwulf took a crowbar to the northwest chest. Inside he found 1 bottle labeled ‘mummy powder’, a book of what appeared to be potion formulae, 4 dragon-scales (identified as shadow dragon scales) and 8 bottles of various color pigments.

Vorwulf looking wide-eyed: “Crap. I screwed up. I should’ve checked that chest for traps first.”

Bers after receiving the crowbar from Vorwulf checked the other chest for traps before she pried it open. She found multiple scrolls of paper, a book of Westland dragon-lore (that got snatched up quick), 3 large semi-precious crystals, 1 potion labeled ‘Stone to Flesh’ and 1 piece of obsidian and 1 onyx. They checked the small narrow room through the east archway which was lit by an arrow slit and found a couple of crates and shelves on both sides of the arch. On the shelves was an alchemist’s kit, a bottle of powdered onyx, various tools and writing implements. In the crates were jars of various herbs, dried insects and preserved bits of animals such as lizard tails and batwings. They then proceeded through the archway in the laboratory’s west wall.

They came into an octagonal chamber with dark wood paneled walls and dome ceiling painted with the image of the night sky with a full silver moon. The only light manifest in the chamber came from the painted moon filling the chamber with what seemed to be true moonlight. A stuffed leather chair sat against the angled northwest wall, a polished jet table inlaid with mother of pearl sat at the center of the room. A locked cabinet was against the southeast wall and a tapestry hung over the southwest angled wall which bore the image of a murder of crows. Vorwulf checked behind the tapestry for a hidden compartment but found nothing. Grom snatched up the crowbar from Bers and went to smash open the locked cabinet. The others ran back through the east archway ‘just in case’.

The shaman wrenched open the cabinet doors rolling a Natural 20 for the pry check also inhaling the blast of fine brown dust which hit him in the face at the same time. He definitely felt the effects of a powerful toxin but only the secondary effects imparting a -4 to all Will saves and CHA based checks (unfortunately all of his magic is based on his CHA). Bers gave him a Purification potion which negated the poison. Within the cabinet he found 3 rings (made of titanium, gold and bronze respectively), a leather pouch containing 50 silver pieces, an ironwood scepter with copper embossing, a scroll with the spell Wood to Weapon on it, a crystal ball, a ruby wand, a bronze wood wand, a bottle of Oil of Preserve Corpse, and 2 potions (Ghost Form and Celerity). After they finished looting the cabinet Vorwulf lit a gold oil lamp that he had picked up and they continued through the west archway into a dark chamber where the only light was a thin blade of white daylight slicing in from a westerly arrow slit from between a pair of round columns.

The room was mostly bare save for the suit of full plate of obvious Ivoran make standing in the northeast corner next to the archway they had entered. It bore a shield painted red with the black silhouette of a raven and a heavy mace in the other hand.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Is it moving at all? No. Hmm.”

To the north was the backside of the bronze demon-door and to the south was a solid oak door with black iron hardware upon which was a glowing rune. They were stymied as none of them were willing to even get near the door; Vorwulf was still keeping a careful watch over the armor. Grom performed his Clairvoyance spell and envisioned the mage Moezra opening and walking through the door which repeated and zoomed in to his hand touching the door. After he told them his vision they figured out that they could open the doors using Moezra’s head which was being carried as a trophy by Vorwulf. They touched the head to the door and were able to open it without a problem. They continued south into the room the door communicated with all the while Vorwulf keep glancing back at the armor.

They entered into another triangular chamber, the south wall being diagonal. The room was lit with a warm light emanated by a pair of quartz fire-gems set in the torch sconces. There was a chest of drawers of polished redwood against the diagonal wall. A table with a matching wood chair was in the northeast corner upon which sat a ceramic basin, a wood cup, a clay jug filled with water, a bar of soap, a rag and a small bottle of perfume. Vorwulf snatched up the soap and perfume.

Bers: “Damn, I should’ve done that.”

Kyr and Grom went through the chest of drawers finding about 20 articles of high quality clothing and a pair of red silk slippers each with a single large opal on them. After ransacking that room they moved through the archway in the east wall into the were-raven’s bed chamber. The room is lit by a narrow slash of weak sun coming through the arrow slit in the south wall falling upon the superior quality carpet on the floor and glinting from the four censers hanging from the ceiling filled with mild aromatic resins as evidenced by their noses. The other light in the room, a strange deep-blue glow, was provided by a fire-sapphire sitting on the stool by the bed which was in the southwest corner of the room. There was an unlocked chest in the northeast corner and a cabinet in the northwest corner of the room. Bers and Grom pushed Kyr towards the chest and told her to check it for traps. Vorwulf rifled the four-poster bed and found several handfuls of small loops of braided hair tied with scraps of clothing under the mattress. The shaman busied himself rolling up the carpet and stuffing it into his bag of holding. Kyr opened the chest and found a suit of silk bedclothes, 1 set of high quality bed linens, and 1 bottle of yellow lotus pollen containing at least 3 doses which was given to the shaman. Bers gathered up and took the bed linens.

Kyr: “What’re gonna do with those!? You don’t sleep in a bed!”

Bers: “Not out here but I like to sleep in style.”

Vorwulf then checked the unlocked cabinet within he found 1 gold oil lamp, a bottle of lamp oil (an hour’s worth), steel & flint, straw matches, an empty clay pitcher, a wood cup, 1 bottle of whiskey and 1 silver goblet studded with aquamarines. After taking the whiskey and giving the goblet to Kyr, the others each have their own ‘fancy’ goblets, he turned his attention to the black iron door in the east wall. He recognized it as the door with the glowing white rune he had seen from the other side when he was looking for a way down after slaying the were-raven mage Moezra. To avoid any trouble he used his Powder of Knock. The door opened of its own accord after the powder was tossed over it.

Vorwulf found himself in a familiar place after the group surmounted the stone spiral staircase. They had entered the room where he had faced off with the mage.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 6: Raven’s Eyrie

By sundown the slayers found themselves half-way up the south-western-most slope of Hirok below Ekit’s Watch on their way to see the wizard. It was dark and the group was passing into a dense clump of scrub when Vorwulf detected something moving in the bush. He spotted some human shapes prowling around the bushes one of which had its bow drawn on him. He knocked an arrow and a voice rang out with Bers’ name. The slayers had run into the Hill-Landers (see The Dragonslayers Pt. 10 & 14) Han the half-faun ranger/archer, Skran the half-faun/half-Hill-Giant and Baalkra the satyr. They were wearing plate armor painted a dull, dirty black. They explained that they had been spying and were on the wrong side of the battle lines to the south amongst the Black Soldiery on the side of the lich of Black Brow whose forces were currently sieging the city of Achoran on the south bank of the Nirix River in the south. They had left in disgust but had got all the info that they needed and were thusly returning home to report when they ran into the dragon-slayers. They asked after Dead-Eye and were sorry to hear of his death and Bers introduced them to Vorwulf his pupil. Vorwulf wasted no time in grilling them.

The group was told that the Hill-Landers had found that a large part of the lich’s army was composed of the Black Soldiery, a gaggle of thugs, criminals and sell-swords who wear black painted armor identical to that they were wearing. They also had seen that the Blackbrow forces had undead dragons on their side with a draeco-zombie and a “dragon-skelly” on the south-side of the river. They have heard a rumor of another more powerful undead dragon but also heard it was sieging a fortress somewhere in the Cleft-Rills region farther to the east. The command structure of the “black army” is 3 disciples, young necromancers, at the head of the siege forces with 3 units of zombie warriors and “skellys” led by a Death Knight serving as general followed by 3 fighter liches serving as captains and 3 vampire warriors as lieutenants. The shields of the undead soldiers bear the standards of a rampant rooster against a purple field, a green snake biting its tail on a brown field, a red hawk on a light blue field and a sword through a coin on a blue field. These corpse-fighters fall dead every dawn and rise at dusk. The black soldiery number in around 100 fighters and are well-paid they have a similar straight forward military hierarchy with a general, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants under each captain and 2 sergeants under each lieutenant and all are well-paid. They also revel in the rapine, pillage, and murder that they engage in. On the battlefield their dead are raised as zombies along with any other war-dead raised by the disciples. Vorwulf lets them know that they no longer have to worry about 1 of the disciples anymore. They pass on a couple of passwords used by the Black Soldiery but were not sure if they were still good or not. They left shortly after Bers asked about Sir Chinsalis. It had been some months since they had last seen him just before departing for their spy mission several months ago. As far as they knew he was currently tied up in a crusade against the druids of Strignor back in Chago far to the west.

After the Hill-Lander spies had left Vorwulf found a campsite that was well-hidden amongst the brush which clumped against the hillside with Ekit’s Watch in clear view. The first two watches passed without incident but on the third, Vorwulf’s watch, he spied a pair of bat-like creatures which he deduced to be vampires flying towards the mage tower a leather sack in tow. With his spyglass in hand he watched them land on the battlements at the top of Ekit’s Watch. Come morning and after Vorwulf briefed the rest of them about the vampires the shaman decided to cover them all in war paint before moving out to the tower. A couple of hours later by mid-morning they found themselves gathered on the small platform and at the front door of the tower at the top of a 20 foot-tall flight of stone steps their steeds left at the bottom.

Grom (the shaman): “Open up wizard! We want to talk to you!” He shouted while banging his fist on the door, the others had volunteered him to be the spokesman for some reason.

Moezra (the mage of Ekit’s Watch): “What do ya want! I’m busy. GO AWAY!”

Grom: “We’re the dragon-slayers! We have come to trade wizard!”

Moezra: “Oh? You are huh? Just wait right there.”

They heard a loud mechanical click and the platform dropped out from beneath them and all but Vorwulf fell into the hole. The ranger/dragonslayer leapt away and acrobatically flipped back onto the steps avoiding a 20 ft drop to the ground. He looked up at the tower and spotted something small and winged watching from a window on the third floor. The others slid down a glass-smooth chute which shot them into a pitch black chamber each slamming into a floor of moist earth. They wasted no time in getting to their feet and lighting a lantern finding themselves trapped in an oubliette, a stone walled bottle-shaped room with a rusted trap-door sealing the top of the bottle-neck 20 ft up. They could see the opening to the chute from which they were dropped into this prison. Bers used her Cape of Bat-Flight to fly herself and Kyr back up the chute. Grom cast a spell on himself and growing wings followed. The rusted trap-door was held shut by a powerful spring mechanism and was impossible to just smash open for several reasons. They retreated back to the oubliette where Bers dropped Kyr and pulled out and slipped on her Gauntlet of Transmutation. She flew back to the iron trap door at the top of the chute but found it protected from the gauntlets power by magical wards which pulsed with energy when the gauntlet touched it. She flew back to the oubliette and in frustration she flew full speed into the wood door sealing the top of their cell smashing it to splinters.

Grom: “Into the tower it is then.”

Grom followed with Kyr in tow.

Meanwhile outside Vorwulf pulled the cowl of his Cloak of Invisibility over his head rendering him invisible to sight and slashed the air with his Silver Scimitar. The sword opened a dimensional door and he stepped through instantly emerging on the top battlements of Ekit’s Watch. When he landed on the south battlements he found that they were a level above the north battlements connected by two sets of stone-steps. Below him on the northern battlements he saw a trap door granting access to the interior of the tower and next to it in a pair of large iron cages 2 naked girls were cowering. Being the heroic type he immediately leapt to the floor below with the intent of approaching the cages but was nearly struck by a bolt of black energy which shot from a position very near the cages. He could see the shadow of a small winged creature from where the bolt had struck. He shot at the creature but missed due to it also being invisible. Suddenly with a raven-shriek the mage named Moezra shot up into the air from the trap-door. He was carried aloft by a pair of large black wings and Vorwulf could see that the mage had the head of a raven and talons in place of feet. The dragon-slayer shot him with an arrow wounding him then the mage struck back by calling forth lightning from the cloudless afternoon sky which Vor readily avoided. The dragon-slayer did an acrobatic tumble into the trap-door.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Dude! You’re running away!?”

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Hell yes! That guy’ll kill me up there!”

Vorwulf found himself on the top of a stone staircase which wound down into the third floor chamber. The octagonal chamber was large taking up the entire level of the tower. It had a 12 ft. high ceiling and had narrow columns in sets of three in front of its huge floor to ceiling lead-pane windows at the northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast walls of the chamber. The floor was tiled with marble and at the center of the floor was a 5ft high dais set with 4 gold 16-candle candelabras and an inactive magic circle inscribed deeply in its surface. Unlit torches sat in sconces in the east and west walls next to floor to ceiling length tapestries; one portraying a white dragon the other a purple one. A leather chest with no lock sat against the opposite wall from the adventurer and a pair of solid iron chests cast with lions’ feet and heads (the heads at one end) with no discernable locks sat against the west wall below the white-dragon tapestry.

Cris: “Man, I don’t like the looks of those chests.”

He ran down the steps and towards the passageway which opened in the floor to the southeast in front of one of the windows. He readied to leap into the opening which presumably led to the second level. A plate of solid steel manifested over it stopping him dead in his tracks. He turned but could see nothing but was still able to hear the rustling of feathers and the beating of Moezra’s black wings.

The battle lasted for 4 more rounds with Vorwulf and Moezra exchanging blasts of lightning and arrows, some of which were silver, most of which missed as both were invisible. The mage’s familiar the small invisible creature was slain in the beginning of the third round which suddenly appeared after the deathblow, an arrow to the chest, revealing itself to be a shadow-imp just before its corpse evaporated away into nothing. Moezra pulled out a magic dagger with a starmetal blade which darted about the room and fought on its own wounding Vorwulf significantly in the last round. At the end of the third round Vorwulf while near the iron plate over the stairs connecting this floor with next, made a successful Will save versus illusion revealing the plate to be an illusion. The mage blasted out a large window with a misplaced bolt of lightning and melted the entire staircase leading down into the chamber from the battlements when he lost control of one of his spells. The wild magic melted the stone into a large puddle of greyish goo. Moezra was killed at the beginning of the fourth round his corpse studded with 5 arrows. After the battle the room was in a shambles and its walls were studded with nearly a dozen arrows. The illusion sealing off the stairs dissipated.

Vorwulf, assuming the others were “stuck in a hole” at the base of the tower somewhere took the mage’s head with his silver scimitar and looted the feathery corpse without actually searching it. He snatched 3 rings (worth about 3 silver pieces each), the curved starmetal dagger which fell to the floor inert after the mage’s death rattle, a phenacite talisman with a starmetal inlay, an ivory wand with decorative runes, an elephant hide spellbook, and a red velvet bag with platinum embroidery portraying the silhouette of a flying raven. He found it to be a bag of holding stuffed with goodies some of which were 4 potions (all labeled), money & jewels, some lotus pollen & seeds and a rod which was made of infernal slag.

After he stowed the booty he used a magic ability on his scimitar sending a Prying Eye which emerged from the pommel stone down the stairs. The prying eye saw a shut and locked black iron door with a rune glowing white on its face at the foot of the steps with no other way to go. He then sent the eye outside and decided to rappel down using his ropes and climbing gear. After gearing up he slid down on the rope through the blasted-out window and successfully swung around to the entrance platform. There he found the front door unbarred and opened it cautiously. He was confronted with a gory sight.

As Vorwulf battled Moezra at the top of the tower the others found themselves in the entrance level after escaping the oubliette. The windowless chamber they found themselves in was dimly lit by a candelabrum at the far end by a set of steps which rose to the next floor. The high ceiling, well-above 10 ft. above their heads, disappeared into shadow. In the floor behind them at the south end of the chamber was the shattered trap-door they had broken through. Directly behind them recessed between a pair of thick round pillars was the assumed front door with a heavy wooden bar across it. The room appeared to be storeroom with another pit in the floor to the east and the curb of an open well-head to the west. Crates stood against the east wall and barrels against the west behind the well. The entire central section of the octagonal room was occupied by thick square pillars placed every 5 feet from the walls. All could see a hulking humanoid shape standing at the foot of the steps at the far side of the storeroom. They approached it aggressively until they got a clear view of it.

It was a powerfully built creature, at least 10 ft tall with a pair of twisted bull’s horns jutting from its ugly forehead and deep sunk yellow cat’s eyes. Its wide multi-fanged mouth appeared to be grinning though it was hard to tell as it lacked lips. Its feet were split hooves and a horse-like tail swished and twitched behind it. Its scabrous fingers curled into jagged yellow claws. They could easily see magical symbols and runes carved deep into its pale flesh, all wet and red but not bleeding.

Gil (Grom’s player): “Man, that’s gruesome!”

Isis (Kyr’s player): “Yeah it’s gross; let’s kill ‘em!”

Jen (Bers’ player): “Ugh! What is it? Is it attacking us?”

Cris (Vor’s player): “Probably a demon. Demons are weird things.”

They all were forced to make Courage saving throws versus Horror Factor and all 3 (Grom, Kyr and Bers) failed and suffered the effects of the Feast of Flesh spell. Small bits of flesh stripped off of their hides and were sucked into the monster even from under their armor. All three were significantly wounded by this. As the creature approached the shaman was able to negate the effects of the horror and the other two met the beast in the middle of the room. In the first round the shaman spent his time trying to cast the Mass Bull’s Strength spell but failed and Kyr activated the Shield ability on her helmet. Bers landed a power attack on the creature but her axe reflected harmlessly from its chest the ward inscribed their glowed brightly when struck. Kyr also landed two blows to Bers’ other two but each time their weapons were deflected by the runes which flashed with infernal light. The creature’s claws were meanwhile dealing significant damage and Bers could feel a sinister cold trying to take hold in her very bones.

Bers: “We’re not doing anything to it!”

Kyr: “Maybe we should hit it in the head!”

Bers: “Let’s just hit it harder!”

The demon took another power attack from Bers’ weapon, now the silver-bladed great sword that she had taken from the ruins at Black Brow (see the Dragonslayers pt. 6) after dropping her axe, the blow from which proved harmless. The creature returned her power attack with one of its own but she parried it easily and countered finding her weapon all but useless again. Kyr reactivated her helms Shield ability and the shaman while casting the Mass Bull’s Strength spell lost control and unleashed wild magic. The wild magic worked in their favors however, by doubling the effects of the spell granting them all a massive increase in raw physical strength.

Kyr: “Maybe I should use my Doom Sword! I need to use my Doom Sword; I think I’ll use my Doom Sword!”

The other 3 players in unison: “No!”

The players settled on a strategy of trying to push the monster into an oubliette or the well since they couldn’t seem to harm it. Bers tossed her sword to the ground and successfully pressed the creature towards the open mouth of the oubliette in the east part of the room but was disheartened when it moved in another direction on its turn. Kyr readied by the well-head for the creature to get near so she could try to force it into the well. The shaman successfully tripped the horned creature and it fell into the remaining barrels shattering them to bits and spattering their contents everywhere.

Grom the shaman: “Aw. That’s a waste of good ale!”

Lamp oil and fine ale splashed and flowed over the flagstone floor. After rising from the flags the creature picked up and tossed a barrel, which was full of syrup, at Bers whom dodged it. The barrel shattered leaving the west wall oozing with syrup. The third round was spent forcing the creature to the well where it simply wound up straddling the mouth with a hoof on both sides of the curb. Grom healed Bers as his first action since as Bers was badly hurt by this time and found himself forced to make 2 recovery checks in order to survive a pair of nasty and successful claw swipes. Their luck turned as at the beginning of the fourth round Bers successfully pressed the creature into the mouth of the oubliette from which they had escaped earlier after it unsuccessfully tried to push her back into the well as one of her items granted her the effects of the Might of the Mountain spell making her immovable by force. Granted the respite from battle Bers walked to the front door and after looking for traps and finding none she lifted the bar and set it aside. The shaman yelled his warning too late as a claw reached up from the open pit for the fighter’s ankles. Bers jumped back and the demon crawled from its hole.

The battle began anew. Bers failed her save versus horror and suffered more damage realizing that she was now badly injured. Grom attempted to press it back down into the pit and was successful but it used a simultaneous attack to grab him as it fell taking him with it back down into the pit. In the pit the shaman jumped to his feet from the damp earthen floor and tried to cast a spell in the pitch black of the pit and the creature broke his concentration disrupting his attempt to cast the spell with a successful claw strike. The creature climbed back out to confront Bers who had overcome her fear and attacked but got her sword slapped from her hand and after having just picked it back up! It clattered 15 ft away and she chased after it snatching it back up. Grom flew up from the hole after casting a fly spell on himself behind the monster but careful to fly to a safe height. The creature struck at him as he flew by. The sixth round commenced and all three adventurers were feeling the strain of battle. Bers struck at the beast’s head as she realized it had no runes carved into its face and was surprised that the blade finally sunk into its flesh and struck bone. Grom after pulling out his Mace of Supernatural Power flew struck the monster in the head for a second time splintering one of its horns. A black syrupy ichor leaked from the wounds and clung in heavy spidery strands to their weapons. Bers brought her sword down on the demon’s deformed skull as it tried to grab at the blade and the door opened flooding the chamber in blinding daylight. Vorwulf opened the door in time to see in full light Bers’ blade shear the monster’s skull to the shoulders splattering her, the shaman and him in stinking thick pitchy blood.

Isis (Kyr’s player): “See! I told you; hit the head!”

Jen: “Oh yeah! You did say that. Why didn’t we try that before?”

Isis: “I don’t know, somebody said no or something! I don’t remember who.”

They spent the next few minutes post battle drinking healing potions and the shaman found a sea-chest in a far corner and took what Vorwulf identified as a pair of white harpy feathers, taken from harpies native to the Icefere to the far northwest, from it.

After healing up they decide to move up through the tower in order to “clear it out” and rescue the girls that Vorwulf told them about imprisoned at the top.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 5: Into the Gauntlet

After burying the bard Jesae our intrepid group of slayers carried on their quest to recover their buried treasure, buried atop a plateau on Hirok. They decided to make their way to the mouth of Sawback’s lair to see if the trolls were occupying it and if their treasure had been found. Vorwulf guided the group following the foot of Hirok to the cave mouth by late morning. The cave was intact and seemingly deserted the sound of water flowing from the cave met their ears as did the stench of troll mixed with the sharp scent of a reptilian origin. They sighted dozens possibly hundreds of small smooth stones akin to water smoothed river-stones scattered about most collecting on the shores of the creek each deeply engraved with a spiral pattern.

Vorwulf: “Well there’s definitely troll here.”

Grom: “What’re those stones? Are they magic?” He picked up a stone and his magic sense told him they were mundane.

Vorwulf: “Aw, probably some bored trolls sittin’ around carvin’ on ‘em.”

Since they appeared to be alone and were intent on charging into the cave the shaman performed the war-paint ritual and painted the faces of each of the adventurers in preparation. As the shaman finished up the ritual, all faces now painted, the others sighted shambling humanoid shapes stumbling towards them from the other side of the creek approximately 60 ft. away. Bers pulled the cowl of her Cloak of Invisibility over her head disappearing from sight. The others attempted to hide in an effort to avoid a fight as they could clearly see these were undead creatures with a mage leading them. The mage had an Acton bearing the white star being gripped in a black gauntlet against a purple field. The shaman stumbled through a bush making quite a racket while trying to hide (he rolled a Natural 1). Needless to say the creatures and their mage saw him. They began moving towards the creek in an agonized attempt to cross its chest-deep waters. The slayers could see that the enemy group consisted of the mage whom they could see now was wearing a black hood over his head with a red skull painted on the face, an undead warrior wearing a rusted great helm and a bronze pectoral plate over a suit of scalemail bearing a bearded axe in his hands shreds of shriveled blue flesh still clinging to his yellow bones, four half-faun zombies bearing sledgehammers wearing rusted helms and rotted studded leather armor, and five skeletons bearing battle axes and carrying medium wood shields with the same arms as the mage painted on them.

Grom and Kyr emerged to do battle as Vorwulf stayed back in the bushes with a ready bow and Bers still invisible began moving forward. The undead warrior with the bearded axe began to levitate and float forward over the running water while the skeletons easily crossed running straight through the creek. Bers engaged a skeleton easily smashing it down while the shaman called down lightning onto the rest their bones dropping into the current. The levitating creature moved towards Bers and caught her in its gaze, her eyes went white and she dropped to the grass apparently dead. The shaman was able to reach her used his Mithral Helm to cast Heal on her bringing her back from the brink of death (she made the luck roll not to be just dead but only caught a glimpse with her left eye which is now permanently discolored). Vorwulf shot the mage and stuck him good. Kyrahma charged forward to Bers’ and the shaman’s sides. The lich warrior, they now knew what it was due to its Death Gaze, reached down to touch the shaman whom dodged. The mage attempted to cast a spell on Vorwulf whom saw cold grey mists begin to surround him but he was able to shake off its hold and remained unaffected. The zombies reached the water and the skeletons re-emerged from the water onto the bank with Bers, Kyr and Grom the shaman. The mage was slain by a second arrow which nearly passed directly through him and Vorwulf emerged from his cover. At the start of the second round Kyr battled the skeletons and the zombies forded the creek. Grom pulled his magic mace gaining the benefits of the Supernatural Power spell from it (his spells for the day were nearly exhausted) and swung at the lich. The lich successfully touched Bers and she froze in place unable to move a rigid muscle. At the end of the round only two of the skeletons had been permanently smashed into dust as the group found that these keep putting themselves back together after being beat down and getting back up and the lich was struck down after a couple of massive blows from the empowered shaman the corpse crumbling to dust leaving behind the wretched armor and gear. It took two more rounds to dispose of the zombies and the skeletons. After the battle and the adventurers took account they found themselves exhausted and badly wounded. Bers however was still as stiff as a statue.

As they persisted in looting the remains of the undead and the shaman used his Clairvoyance (a cantrip for shamans) in order to try to find the warrior lich’s phylactery but got nothing but the definite sense that he had just given their position and identities away to something particularly nasty (rolled a Natural 1, again). They could all hear the sounds of metal armor, multiple voices and weapons being drawn from within the cave. The shaman then turned his attentions towards Bers and casting the Mystic Diagnosis spell on her he found that the paralysis was permanent. They briefly debated on whether or not to use the Potion of Arch-Cure that the shaman carried but in the end decided to save the potion. Vorwulf dug around in her gear remembering that she was carrying a dragon-metal Ring of Freedom of Movement from when he and the shaman had taken inventory of the group’s gear before this little venture and slipped it on her finger which allowed her to move suppressing the lich’s uncanny paralysis. The shaman got around to healing the wounds of Vor and Kyr. Vorwulf took down a healing potion in addition to that. Four 12 ft. tall trolls in full plate armor and bearing large two-handed serpentine bladed swords emerged from the cave mouth and charged the hapless, exhausted adventurers.

Behind the four armored trolls a human in full plate armor with a visor resembling the face of a roaring demon and a creature resembling the unholy union of a troll and a dragon in half-plate armor and a wolfskin mantle followed them. The human locked eyes with Vorwulf whom immediately recognized him as the merc commander from the battlements at Merdna (see Dragonslayers II Pt. 2). The commander pointed at him hissing, “You”, before he lowered his demonic visor. A troll attacked Bers and avoiding the blow she hit it with a power attack cutting it down. The armor split and burst open as the body within turned to stone. The other tow trolls charged and engaged Bers and Kyr. Kyr power attacked wounding one and the shaman cast Mass Bull’s Strength increasing the slayers’ physical strength. Vorwulf used a magic ability on his weapon to warp the sword of the troll that had yet to charge. The group fought the three remaining trolls as the commander and the half-dragon troll readied to join the battle. During the first round of the fight a troll was knocked back by the blast from Kyr’s armor when it struck her causing it to fall on Vorwulf who became trapped underneath the immense bulk of steel and troll-flesh. When it came to the second round the commander in the demonic armor and the half-dragon troll joined the fight. The felled troll rose off of Vorwulf whom appeared dead to him and attacked Kyr again striking at her helm who after parrying the blow struck at him with a counter-strike. The commander engaged Vor who landed a power attack on him causing the demonic-armor to glow red-hot. Vorwulf was forced into a recovery check to reduce the damage of a nasty blow from the commander’s claymore. Grom and Bers fought on as the half-dragon unleashed a blast of steam-breath with little effect and met the shaman in battle. By the end of the round two more trolls fell, their armor bursting unleashing gouts of foul blood as they fell into pieces of stone and twisted metal. By the third round the group was fighting the remaining pair of enemies. Vorwulf, the shaman and Kyr were on the merc commander and Bers was fighting the half-dragon. With every blow he had suffered the commander’s armor glowed brighter and flames had begun to wreath his glowing form with flames forming around his weapon. The half-dragon was dropped with a single blow from Bers and her magic axe and when struck the deathblow by Kyr the commander exploded with a burst of flame which burnt them all and reduced the Hill-Lander’s corpse to dust leaving the demonic armor empty and still standing.

Blood and sweat pooled in gauntlets and boots of the adventurers and their sweltering helms dripped. The group realized that they were “really beat down” and decided they had to get out of there far away from the cave especially since they could hear more troops mustering within. Grom and Vorwulf were again badly injured; Bers and Kyr were mildly hurt. Grom found that he had cast all the spells he could for that day and thus was “out of magic”. Kyr admired the commander’s armor and inspected it closely but without touching it.

Isis (Kyr’s player): “Man, I really want that armor! Its frickin’ cool!”

Cris (Vor’s player): “You don’t want that f@$#in’ armor. It’s probably evil anyway.”

The group began deciding whether to travel either to Ekit’s Watch or to Robber’s Roost. Robber’s Roost where they had really gotten under the craw of the Crossed-Staffs gang unintentionally (see Dragonslayers Pt.26) lay half a day even going at full speed on their mounts to the southwest. They had no news about or knowledge of the place since returning to Hirok-Nor. Ekit’s Watch lay almost half a day to the northwest and which housed the wizard which Bers, Vorwulf and Grom had bartered with over a year ago before they went on to slay Old Sawback (see Dragonslayers Pt. 26 & 31). Bers, as senior member, decided that they would go to Ekit’s Watch.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 4: The Day the Music Died

Jesae the bard (played by Rhiea) awoke in a haze and realized after a few moments that he was in a southern nomad caravan with a naked Stranis next to him sans most of his stuff (Rhiea lost her character’s inventory list). He only had the Ring of Invisibility, a few coins and his lute still on his person. He quietly vacated the wagon before Stranis could wake up and high tailed it back towards the tavern. He stumbled through the gates as the gypsy camp was located outside of the city ramparts. As he reached the neighborhood of the Hopping Rat Tavern he was surrounded in the muddy street by four well-armed thugs all with a black ‘X’ tattooed on their throats. They demanded everything on him commenting on his ring. He attempted to talk his way out of it but as he realized that they had no intention of just letting him go he activated the ring and escaped while the mooks were still reeling with surprise shortly reaching the tavern.

Jesae rejoined the group while they were preparing to move out towards Hirok to reclaim their treasure trolls be damned. While he waited the bard pined after his lady love and began to compose songs to her. Bers after a little while realized the bard might be under magical influences (he was, see last entry) as the situation was comparable to that of Dead-Eye when he was affected by the snow-maiden’s power (see The Dragonslayers Pt.18). Grom, the shaman, used Mystic Diagnosis to confirm it and the group searched their potion stores and came up with nothing that could lift the spell.

Rhiea: “Aww, f@%k me, f#$k me! Well, are there any of that guild, what’s it called, Whitestars in this town? No? F#$k me!”

After a while Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer decided to check to see if the coast was clear before they exited the tavern and spotted a familiar ratling spying on them atop a nearby roof. The creature ducked out of sight immediately as it realized it had been spotted. Vorwulf also could see, easily, that there were at least four Crossed-Staffs thugs waiting in the alleys across the street probably in ambush.

Vorwulf: “Tell Bloodspear we’re ready when he is!” The thugs immediately started mustering in the street.

Isis (Kyr’s player): “Woo-hoo!”

After several minutes 8 thugs led by Arvor Bloodspear were in the street ready to fight. Four of them were wearing leather scale armor with a warbelt and bronze bracers. The other four had on leather lamellar and had yellow actons over that with steel bracers on their forearms. All but Arvor Bloodspear were armed with iron-staffs. Arvor was armed with a fighting spear and was wearing a wooden chestplate under his yellow acton with steel bracers on his wrists. All had most of their faces hidden under yellow bandannas.

Gil (Grom’s player): “Man. Why do all these weak guys gotta fight us all the time.”

My Answer: “Street Cred.” (see The Dragonslayers Pt. 27)

Vorwulf drew his paired cutlasses and charged Bloodspear himself. The fight was lively with the shaman hitting a few of the thugs with lightning, two of the wounded pole-fighters finally being killed by the cone of force emitted by Kyr’s magic armor when its hit, a thug being burned to death by Grom’s throwing fire at him, and Vorwulf and Kyr getting tripped in battle. Only Bloodspear and 1 other thug survived into the second round both being basically chopped in half by Bers. Jesae even got a shot in at Arvor with a Forceball emitted from his magic bow, the one with a large emerald in it, given to him from the group’s armory. The battle ended and ended on a high note as none of the adventurers were remotely injured. They looted the bodies, or the remnants thereof and collected a few platinum pieces, gold bits (pieces of a gold coin often worth an eighth of gold coin each) and a lot of fliks (zinc coins minted by Fertums in order to keep economic control over the local area, often only good at the Fertum that minted them). Kyr and Jesae split the platinum pieces. The fliks and gold bits went into the empty strongbox behind the bar. Vorwulf smoothed things over with the angry shop owners whose buildings were damaged in the fight paying them off with 1 platinum piece each. After Vorwulf hung Bloodspear’s fighting spear on the oven the adventurers whipped out their map of Hirok-Nor and began planning out the route for the excursion in earnest. Jesae went back to talk to Stranis while they did this and while in her presence he wound up giving her all of the coins he had just gained. Strinis’ parting words to him were, “now go make some more money for our family.”

By noon they were heading out on horses sans servants or protégés who were left behind to watch the tavern and wagons. Just before they trotted through the gates Canohk the bard ran up to them hailing them to stop. He avoided eye contact with Bers and was brushed off by Vorwulf who said that they already hired a bard. Dejected Canohk frowned at Jesae who made faces at him as they exited the city gates.

By early evening the group had made it a few miles into the forest and was preparing to find a campsite until Vorwulf sighted a full unit of Hill-Landers patrolling the woods. He realized that they almost ran headlong into the mercenaries as the company of warriors was only 30 ft. away mostly hidden by the trunks of trees. The mercenary unit bore the standard which the slayers had seen before, a split field of blue and red with a spiked club over a cracked yellow skull. It consisted of 5 human warriors showing traces of faunic blood, 5 faunic warriors, a single Hill-Giant being led by a commander baring the traces of both a faunic and Hill-Giant heritage. The fight was very brief only lasting a single round and ending before all of the mercs even got their first turns. Almost all of them including the giant were transformed into chickens by Grom, a single unfortunate human warrior was cut down by Bers splattering Kyr with blood and gore and the remaining 5 fauns ran away into the woods heading east, the same direction in which the adventurers were traveling. Grom collected 3 of the chickens intending to make dinner of them.

They looted the lone corpse and went through the gear that the victims of Grom’s magic had left behind. A little while later they had settled down in a well-hidden campsite which Vorwulf had searched out and took turns at watch. The night was uneventful on two of the three watches but on the second watch, Kyr’s watch, she caught sight of a man-sized raven flying overhead through the trees. She thought she could hear a faint screaming as it passed then a silk slipper dropped from above to the ground. She woke the group and climbed a tree sighting that the over-sized raven had flown in the direction of a tower from which she could see lights in the distance almost directly north of them. Vorwulf and Grom figured it was Ekit’s Watch where there was a wizard which they had dealt with once before. They shrugged their shoulders and went back to sleep.

The next day at late morning the group while nearing the southernmost slopes of Hirok sighted 12 ft. tall trolls in full plate armor waiting behind a copse of trees possibly in ambush about 50 ft away through the trees. All of the trolls had great helms on their heads and were bearing giant-sized serpentine bladed great swords. Kyr dismounted in preparation to fight and the lead troll charged rushing through splintering trees directly at the still mounted Jesae. The troll struck him with a natural 20 slashing the little bard and his mount in two.

Rheia: “F*@k me! I got f#$king disemboweled! F*@k me!”

Vorwulf dismounted and Bers deactivated her Ring of Phantom Mount, the phantasmal horse under her disappearing landing her on her feet. Grom called down lightning onto 3 of the trolls dealing some damage. A second troll charged the shaman who parried its powerful blow getting locked into a clinch his magic steel buckler versus its crooked blade. A third troll charged Bers and struck her with a massive blow of natural 20 she dropped almost dead (by 1 pt.) to the ground bleeding everywhere.

Jenn: “Nooooooooo!”

Grom let go of his buckler which was thrown away by the troll’s blade and he used a magic ability on his mithral helm to cast Heal on Bers healing her wounds (save for 5 Hit Points). Vorwulf got struck with a critical blow and was hideously wounded but was able to active his Boots of Fleet of Foot.

Cris: “I’m gonna f#^k these guys up!”

Kyr was forced into a recovery check to reduce the damage and the shaman quickened a healing spell to help her. The shaman when parrying another sword blow used his battle magic (a magic feat) to try to transform the trolls into chickens but the monsters’ armor began to glow seemingly protecting them completely from the spell. The rest of the round was spent avoiding blows or taking a fair amount of damage while Vorwulf danced around the trolls unleashing a rain of paired weapons blows and power attacks dropping two of the trolls. The second round began with Kyr striking out with a power attack facing off with one of the trolls in single combat. The shaman cast Mass Bull’s Strength reinforcing all of the adventurers and by the end of the first turn Bers leapt back to her feet. Kyr went into a berserker rage and Bers dropped 1 of the remaining trolls. The last which Kyr was engaged with in battle was killed by Vorwulf which had to flee with a blindly raging Kyrahma on his heels. Fortunately the duration of Kyr’s rage expired at the exact same time as the duration of Vorwulf’s boots.

The remains of the trolls were scattered about and the armor unrecoverable as it had been torn to scrap when hacked-open by the adventurers on the deathblows when the sun turned the flesh of the trolls into stone. The group of dragon-slayers surveyed the scene and gathered up the remains of the bard and his gear and buried him near a tree on which they carved his epitaph.

Vorwulf: “We’re gonna have to deliver the bad news to our bar-wench when we get back.”

To Be Continued…

Map of Hirok-Nor the slayers purchased a while ago.

Map of Hirok-Nor the slayers purchased a while ago.

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 3: The Hopping Rat

By late midday the gates were back up and functional so Vorwulf took a break to go check on something he had arranged for the last time the team was in Merdna. He had paid the Dracorian Brothers (3 Hill-Lander brothers who ran the opposition gang to the Crossed-Staffs in the city) to rebuild the old Blackwing safe-house which had been burned down presumably by the agents of Sawback the dragon. Finding it barely half finished he stormed to the Hopping Rat Tavern, the tavern owned and operated by the Dracorians. There he found the tavern packed to capacity with a morose collection of locals and the eldest Dracorian out front readying a full wagon to depart. He told Vorwulf that they were unable to finish the guild-house due to the onset of the trolls and went on to warn the dragon-slayer that the splinter groups of the broken Crossed-Staff gang will be after them especially him and Bers in order to gain some ‘street cred’. He described the dominant group as being led by a Moorvyr Spearbearer named Arvor Bloodspear. He also told him about a group of ratling adventurers, tat-eyes that were trying to dominate the criminal underground of the whole area as of late as well. As for himself the Dracorian said that he was traveling south while he could to join his brothers in Skullhead far to the south off of the West Trade Road. Vorwulf asked about the tavern and the Hill-Lander gangster offered to sell it cheap waving the deed before him since he was going to ‘gamble it away anyhow’.

After securing the deed for 4 gold talons (gtals) Vorwulf returned to the gate just in time to see 20 warriors in snakeskin warbelts and covered in dirty oiled-hide capes march up lead by a tough looking commander. They were apparently unarmored, had daggers on their belts and armed with axes and unpainted wood shields. The leader announced himself as Gafar and offered himself and his men as sell-swords. A chance breeze moved aside Gafar’s cloak exposing the tattoo on his chest of a coiled green serpent to Vorwulf’s keen eyes.

Vorwulf: “Berserkers! S*!#.” He sighed. “Let ‘em in!”

Vorwulf and the rest of the group invited the berserkers to the Hopping Rat so they could sit and negotiate a price. It didn’t take long and the price of 4 gtals was settled on to keep them in town. A few hours later the slayers and berserkers occupied the tavern along with a few locals. Kyr engaged Gafar in a drinking contest and was surprised as the tavern-keeper Ebor pulled several ‘special’ tankards from behind the bar which were essentially casks with handles. She lost after about an hour of drinking and passed out onto the floor. Gafar strode through the doors with a hardy laugh his men stumbled after. Shortly after a gaggle of ratlings, adventurers by the appearance their expensive and probably magical gear entered the saloon. They were followed by 1 human with strangely rodent-like features and a 5 ft tall ratling whom ordered his drink with a Tanglenese accent. The group noted that each including the human had a tattoo around the left eye.

Vorwulf sat behind the bar drinking from his magic gold chalice careful to monitor the situation. Grom, the shaman, saw that one of the ratlings was also a shaman and decided to talk to his ‘brother’. He tapped the little creature’s shoulder and engaged him in conversation initially courting a good reaction. Bers, drunk, decided to see if she could ‘get her some’ and approached the human adventurer trying to flirt with him. She failed and growing bored she poured a Purification potion down Kyr’s throat which instantly revived her. Vorwulf’s attention was directed back to the doors when a cloaked faun appeared. He was dressed in a green cloak with silver fringing fastened by a silver acorn brooch. He introduced himself as Bard Canohk Sharptongue as he approached Vorwulf and offered his services as chronicler to this branch of the Blackwings. He was told they already had a bard, Jesae btw was sleeping in the wagon in which he had ducked during the earlier battle, but he could ply his trade in the tavern. His skills with his flute, polished redwood panpipes with mother-of-pearl inlay, were impressive. Bers attracted by the sweet music walked over and flirted.

Grom somehow offended the ratling shaman (a roll of a Natural 1 on his Social Aptitude skill) and got a tankard of ale poured out at his feet leading his companions from the tavern. A short while later Vorwulf ‘kicked out the drunks’ and began to shut the place up with the assistance of the bar-wench Stranez the Beautiful, a human with faun and naga bloodlines. Before the doors were bolted for the night Bers left with Canohk to his wagon where she intending to “get some info” had fallen victim to his charms.

The next morning, the Shaman took over cooking duties while Vorwulf set his protégé Drasknor to cleaning the place especially clearing a pile of shattered stools and tables in a far corner. Vorwulf disbanded the surviving teamsters paying each 1 platinum talon. He then took down the Hopping Rat’s slate and gave the bartender, Ebor, all of the ale and booze he could cart off on a wheelbarrow to sell down the street. Vorwulf paid Ebor and Stranez 1 gold talon apiece telling them that their services were ‘no longer required’. He then set up a sign in front of the place notifying the public that the tavern was ‘closed permanently’. Stranez offered additional services and was sure the new guild could find a place for her ‘talents’ so Vorwulf let her stay on the payroll. Vorwulf then found the pigeon keeper of the town and paid him to send a pigeon to Chago with a message written for the Black Wings guild.

While Vorwulf was away and while he was finishing up the preparation of breakfast Grom had a sudden vision. He saw three familiar chests, the ones he, Bers and Vor had buried at Hirok, being dug up by trolls and saw visions of creatures that appeared as half-dragon half-troll. The heraldry of Trollguard and the Hill-Landers mercenaries danced in his head when magic devices called the Gate Stones were revealed to him apparently in the possession of the trolls (Gil rolled a Natural 20 on the vision).

Cris: “That’s how they’re gonna get the treasure out of there!”

The Group decided they needed to get to Hirok as soon as possible. Vorwulf pulled out the map of Hirok-Nor he carried and both he and the shaman poured over it trying to figure out where the forces of Trollguard might have an encampment. The wagons were being loaded by Drasknor and Bers began itemizing their supplies and equipment. Kyr stood by the tavern door. She noticed a young berserker with a shaved head and naked save for a loincloth tucked under a snakeskin warbelt and the gold emerald eyed serpent bracelet on his right wrist. He demanded she get out of the way but she refused telling the place was closed. He became somewhat angry. Drasknor noticed this and alerted Vorwulf to the situation. Vorwulf walked up to the berserker and told him the place was closed but there was a job for him and his ‘buddies’ and the ‘pay would be excellent’. He finished by tossing him a platinum piece which dropped into the street. The berserker scowled at the both of them, Vor and Kyr, and stomped off growling.

A few minutes after that Vorwulf tossed Jesae the bard a Ring of Invisibility from the group gear. When the dragon-slayer turned back to help Bers with the equipment a couple of well-equipped street thugs walked up to Jesae while he was admiring his new ring. The black ‘X’ on each of their throat evident.

Lead Thug: “Nice ring.”

Luckily the bard pointed out the group he was following which was at arm’s length and the pair of gangsters quickly trotted away. After they were finished with the wagons the group went back inside and locked the tavern up tight. They began looking again at the map but then thinking about the plague, the shaman brought it up, so they decided to try to find a living victim of it in order to see if it had any connection to what was going on in the region. Stranis was able to tell them where they might find one, at the charnel house on a low hill by the lake shore. The people of Merdna were laying their sick among the dead in an effort to keep the disease from spreading. Vorwulf, Grom and Kyr were going to check out the charnel house while Bers and Jesae were going to sit about the tavern and drink the remaining ale.

While the trio was leaving the tavern Vorwulf caught sight of a ratling spy whom disappeared with blinding speed when he noticed he had been spotted. Heedless of their being watched they continued to the lake and the charnel house. Drasknor went into the back to take account of what was left in the stores as well as to ‘straighten up the place’. Stranis dismissed herself to wash the dishes for which she had to get a bucket of water from the public well. Jesae followed her on her way out catching up with her in the courtyard where he accidentally seduced her (an attempt to massage some info from her but she rolled a Natural 1 versus the charm check) and wound up with her rolling in the hay of the tavern stables.

Jesae was privy to Stranis’ tattoo which was a slithering black snake with a black star above it on her well-shaped thigh. Later on Stranis would tell the bard that her family name was Ressha and that her tattoo was her family’s “mark”.

Meanwhile the others were reaching the boardwalk which ran along the lakeshore and fishing piers. They could see the hill and the miserable wood building atop it. They had several narrow alleys along one side and the lake waters and small piers on the other. Kyr caught sight of the young berserker that had previously tried to enter the closed tavern with a young boy in one of the narrow alleys. He had the boy by the neck and was apparently squeezing. At the same time both Vorwulf and Grom could see the ratling following them by leaping from roof to roof and a gang of three Crossed-Staffs gang members possibly lying in wait.

Vorwulf (calling out the thugs): “Show yerselves we know you’re there!”

The three thugs stepped onto the boardwalk. Two of them were dressed in leather scale armor with warbelts, bronze bracers on their forearms and armed with iron staffs. They were being led by another who was wearing a yellow Acton over his leather lamellar armor and steel bracers on his arms. He was armed with an iron staff as well but seemed to have more skill than the other two even though he appeared to be less experienced. The black cross tattoos on their necks made it clear that they were crossed-staff gang members looking for revenge.

Grom the shaman: “You guys looking for trouble?”

The thugs charged and Vorwulf was tripped but was able to dodge an opportunistic staff strike leaping onto his feat using his acrobatic skills while Grom attempted to Call Lightning but failed. Grom was able to parry and avoid all staff blows leveled at him. Kyr was nowhere to be seen. Grom was able to back up quickly and let loose with a Primal Scream spell hurting all three thugs somewhat but also causing them to flee in panic. Vorwulf shot the yellow acton in the back wounding him knowing full well that in Westlander warrior culture that shooting a fighter was a deadly insult much more so if in the back.

Cris: “Hell yeah I know it is!”

Gil: “It is?”

Cris: “Hell yeah!”

They heard a scuffle coming from an alleyway further back and found Kyr fighting with the young berserk next to the body of a young boy. Kyr was winning and had hit her foe twice with her sword with the Coiled Serpent Berserk trying to snatch it out of her hands. The shaman and dragon-slayer just stood by watching the brawl as “some crazy berserker honor s%*t was going down”. The young berserk went into a rage foam flecking his lips and was able to snatch and toss away Kyr’s sword and knocked her to the ground on a tackle. The fight went on for two more rounds both warriors gone berserk taking turns reversing their position from under to atop each other and pummeling each other’s faces to bloody messes in the alley-mud. On the third round the shaman foolishly tried to cast a spell on Kyr but fortunately the spell failed and he didn’t extend his hands to touch her. Vorwulf warned him away from the struggling, bleeding pair. The young berserk tried to tear out her throat with his sharpened teeth and the fight turned in her favor. She power punched him in the face spattering his nose everywhere. Four half-naked berserkers walked up with wide sharp-toothed grins on their faces and green coiled serpent tats on their chests. The smiles instantly disappeared when they saw that the shaman was a bit close to the fight. Grom immediately walked towards them attempting to get between them and the fight but they were simply interested in watching the fight and began to cheer their man on.

Vorwulf: “I’ve got 5 gold pieces on the Ferenoi!”

The berserkers took that action. The next and fourth round of the fight was the end with the berserker being beaten unconscious and nearly to death. Barely breathing he was lifted up and taken by his coven brothers while Kyr’s rage ended with the fight and she shot up with a final burst of energy and snatched the berserker’s gold serpent bracelet from his wrist.

Kyr: “This is my trophy!”

The berserkers tossed Vorwulf 20 gp as they walked away. The shaman checked out the young boy and was able to heal him back up though he was very near death. Apparently the name of the berserker was Andracor the Wolf’s Jaw and he had snatched the clothes off of his sister in the streets so he in an attempt to defend her kicked him between the legs and ran off with the angry berserker hot on his heels. Satisfied with that explanation they walked on to the charnel house. Vorwulf and the bruised, muddy and bloody Kyr stayed outside by the door. The shaman cast a protective spell on himself and walked inside finding a few moaning victims of the plague. Using Mystic Diagnosis he was able to find out that the plague was supernatural created by the Plague Carrier spell and it was tinged with a significant amount of negative energy. He was able to cure the sufferers and after emerging with the restored townsfolk he relayed this vital information to his companions.

Back at the tavern Bers was sitting by herself in an empty and dark tavern drinking and by now quite drunk when the door was smashed in and in the doorway stood 3 fighters. The first entered and declared himself to be Arvor Bloodpsear speaking with a heavy accent unknown to her. He was armed with a superior quality fighting spear (the head has barbs on the sides enabling it to hook opponents), a bowie knife on his belt and wearing a yellow Acton over his wood plate armor and steel bracers on his wrists. The other two were wearing similar armor but were armed with iron staffs. All had black ‘X’ tattoos across their throats.

Arvor Bloodspear: “I am here to take revenge for the 3 brothers…” He noticed the empty tavern but recognized Bers.

Bers simply invited them to drink with her and clumsily tried to ‘seduce’ them. Not knowing exactly what they were going to do the three simply backed out saying that they would be back (they rolled a neutral result on their reaction roll). For some reason Bers thought they had said they wanted to duel them the next evening but fortunately when Drasknor rushed into the room from the cellar he couldn’t understand Bers’ drunken babble. The bard cautiously walked back in fifteen minutes after he heard the crash finding all okay save for the smashed door. Drasknor lit the place and started the oven fire. The bard sat with Bers and Stranis set a fresh tankard of ale out just for Jesae who mindlessly began drinking it while conversing with a barely coherent Bers.

Rhiea: “Awwww. F*@k you! Really!?” She failed her saving throw versus the love potion that the barmaid had slipped her character, Jesae.

Hopping Rat Tavern

 

By the time the others returned it was dark and the tavern was alive with a gaggle of drunks who had wandered into the street, the barkeep was

 

 

again behind the bar selling ale and Jesae was singing the best song they ever heard him sing to his love Stranis whose eyes he was intently staring into. They shrugged their shoulders and sat down to get drunk.

To Be Continued…

 

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 2: Assault at Merdna

The group (now consisting of Bers the female fighter played by Jenn, Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer and his protégé Drasknor both played by Cris, Grom the shaman played by Gil, Jesae the bard played by Rheia, and Kyrahma the Ferenoi berserker played by Isis) sat drinking at a table and Vorwulf saw that Xanto the wasp was eating by himself and so walked to talk to him about the book when the shaman saw this he followed him over to the mage’s table. Vorwulf began bidding on the book but was lowballing Xanto but he looked as if he was about to give in as he was desperate to unload the thing. Grom immediately threw down 10 superior quality diamonds.

Xanto: “Sold.”

The bard thinking to make a little coin while the others drank decided to play a few songs. After a short while a rough looking ratling with a tattoo around his left eye tossed him a gold piece and told him to “play” in a gruff tone. Jesae played the best song he ever had (Rheia the bard’s player rolled a natural 20). After the song finished the ratling as he walked to the door while passing the bard mumbled “you play funeral dirges well”. When he told the others what had happened they immediately took it very seriously but Jesae couldn’t remember exactly what the ratling had told him.

The night was uneventful otherwise, the group retired to their campsite by the water troughs in the courtyard by the front gates amongst their wagons. Vorwulf looked for ‘the wasp’ at camp as the mage had disappeared almost immediately after selling off the book. The slayers took alternating watches as usual especially on the lookout for any ‘suspicious’ ratlings and the rest settled down for sleep in their bedrolls or on the wagons. The night was peaceful and quiet with Bers catching something out of the corner of her eye on first watch but found nothing. On second watch however, Jesae’s watch the horses began to buck and neigh foaming at the mouth their eyes bulging. In a panic the bard awoke everyone, as if they weren’t already that is, and pretty much ran around the campsite like a chicken with its head cut-off. Grom cast Mystic Diagnosis and Commune with Animals to try to get a handle on the situation as the horses collapsed and their bellies bulged. They had been poisoned and would be dead within the hour without treatment. Vorwulf used 3 of his Neutralize Poisons potions, Bers gave up 2 of hers and the shaman was able to concoct a quick antidote for 1 of the horses. They managed to save 6 of their 12 horses.

Vorwulf in a huff checked for tracks and found ratling tracks, which appeared that they were purposely left there to be found, by the water troughs. It was at this point that Jesae the bard was fumbling with the gold coin he had be given by the ratling at the tavern and noticed that the coin was stamped with the icon of a coiling dragon which the others recognized as Sawback’s symbol. Jesae observed that the ratling that gave him the coin appeared to be an adventurer of some experience and that he had heard rumors in the tavern that there’s a ratling adventuring party muscling its way into the Hirok-Nor underworld.

Bers: “The tat-eye’s getting revenge for Sawback?”

Grom: “That was a warning.”

Vorwulf: “Damn Tat-Eyes, Damn ratlings!”

They decided to leave for Merdna at dawn and doubled up the watches till morning. The next day it took almost 4 hours on the road to get the wagons to the city of Merdna a trip which should have taken 1 to 2 hours. As the city came into view they found that there were trolls between them and the city gates. The trolls were definitely familiar with 3 large trolls wielding war-hammers with wolf-skin mantles on their backs led by a 12 ft tall troll with stony brown hide. The group was interested to see them harassing the wall and its guards seemingly unaffected by the daylight.

Vorwulf: “They’re being protected by magic.”

The shaman stepped forward while the wagons were still a few hundred feet away from the trolls and cast Call Lightning causing the trolls to scatter and runaway. The group hurried to the gates and gained easy access based on their reputation. They heard horns blaring in the Thur Wood to the northwest and responses from the northeast each further than the last. Just as the last wagon rolled into town and the gates closed the very same trolls were gathered outside of the gates followed by 4 12-ft tall trolls in full-plate armor and great helms bearing troll-made Kris-blade swords. Vorwulf and Grom mounted the wood palisades alongside the young guard captain whom seemed on the verge of panic. Fifteen minutes later a mercenary unit of 15 warriors, 5 of which were Hill-Giants, spilled onto the road from the tree line led by what appeared to be an experienced captain. The mercs were obviously Hill-Landers and were bearing a standard on their leather lamellar covered chests of a split field of blue and red with the symbol of a spiked brown club hovering over a cracked yellow skull. Vorwulf used a power on his magic bow to fire a Thunder Arrow into the crowd of warriors slightly wounding a few of the human mercs and causing the armored trolls to charge the gate.

The gates were smashed into splinters as the armored trolls charged through and were followed by the four familiar trolls and 15 roaring Hill-Lander mercenaries. Bers and Kyr were on the ground to meet them as the four wagons continued on in an effort by the teamsters to get out of the way with Jesae alongside the head teamster on the lead wagon. Vorwulf drew an arrow on his bow and Grom was preparing to sling spells. Bers and Kyr met the 5 faunic Hill-Lander warriors one of which clinched Kyr’s sword on a parry while parrying with his curved longsword. Bers easily killed another spattering blood over her, Kyr and the clinching warrior. The 5 human Hill-Landers charged through the gates into the town intent on pillage some being met by sword & spear wielding residents. The commander was shot by Vorwulf whom he met eyes with and charged into the gates intent on taking out the bowman. 5 hill-giants charged through the gates and went straight for the wagons.

Rheia: “Wait. What?” She looked up at me like a deer caught in headlights (seriously).

Luckily the giants attacked the wagon last in line (it was a random roll) smashing it to bits and killing the driver, horses and all of the livestock that the shaman had acquired. The shaman hit the armored trolls with lightning to little effect. The scout trolls led by the mountain troll (the 12 ft tall troll with the horn and stoney brown hide) attacked Bers and Kyr wounding Kyr badly. Jesae ducked into the back of the wagon he was on and hid. The battle was seemingly going in a bad way for the dragon-slayers at this point but the shaman going against an initial decision to try to make it to Kyr to try to heal her cast Mass Animal Form zapping 3 of the fauns, all of the armored trolls (only one of which was even remotely injured btw) and the 3 troll scouts transforming them all into frogs. The Hill-Lander captain made it to the top of the palisades and charged Vorwulf engaging him in a sword fight and was disarmed by the ranger his curved sword flying over the battlements. The remaining faun warrior was struck by a cone of force when he hit Kyr, a feature of her magic armor given to her by the slayers upon joining as a “prospect”, and was killed by the amazon when her sword was freed from the clinch when that warrior dissolved into a frog. The captain blew his horn before Vorwulf could stop him and the giants and human warriors reversed course and leapt over the palisades just as the hill-giants passed out of the gates getting snatched up by 1. In an effort to try to capture him Vorwulf shot the giant in the back and the shaman cast Entangling Growth causing the grasses they were running through to lengthen and entangle him but he easily ripped free (rolled a Natural 20) as Vorwulf leapt over the battlements using an acrobatic roll to prevent taking damage form the fall and while Grom ran down to the smashed gates. The mountain troll was killed by Bers who cut him into two pieces covering her and the wounded Kyr in black stinking troll’s blood. They wasted no time in calling Grom over in order to blast magic fire over the two already regenerating bits. The group assessed the damage and the shaman began healing the wounded.

While they did this they could hear the panicked blaring of signal bugles the bleating fading into the northeast. They realized that the guards as Vorwulf went to chastise the guard captain were just kids around the early teen-years and were armed with lower-end hunting bows the arrows they were using were useless for big game much less against fully armored warriors. Real fighters would’ve been armed with javelins while manning the timber. They were told that the absent forces of Merdna were sent to Fertum Vorahd to reinforce it about 3 days ago against a potential siege. Vorwulf asked after the druidic marshal, the druid and lord Vorahd all of which were based out of this city were also gone. The lord had retreated to the Fertum when the first troll incursions began and thus the reason the city forces were dispatched to protect the Fertum. The druid fled to where no one knows but he left with his pupil in a loaded wagon several days ago. The marshal left on what they assumed was an official mission but none knew exactly what he was up to or he had gone. They were also informed that a mysterious and sudden plague that spread from the south and was ripping through Hirok-Nor had made its way to Merdna and was rumored to have already hit the Fertum. Vorwulf and his protégé began helping the guards and resident artisans to repair the front gates while the rest of the team recuperated.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers II Pt. 1: Goin’ Back to Hirok-Nor

We rejoin our heroes Bers the female Westlander fighter played by Jenn, Vorwulf the Westlander ranger/dragonslayer played by Cris, and Grom the Westlander shamsn in mid-spring preparing their caravan. Chago was as they prepared to depart suffering an insurrection led by the druid Siamnecca and the last word Bers had on Sir Chinsalis was that he was managing a military encampment as a pretext to mounting an expedition into the Corcander Moorland where Westlander guerilla forces were believed to have established a camp. After gathering hirelings which included a gang of 3 lumpers, 1 personal servant (for Vorwulf) and 3 teamsters for each of their 3 wagons rolled out of the city of Chago committed to making their way to Hirok-Nor where they would recover their buried treasure and set up a Blackwing dragon-slayer guild house. In tow they had three new companions Kyrahma the Ferenoi berserker played by Isis and Jesae played by Rheia a Westlander human male bard dressed in the half-brown half-green clothing indicative of the Bardic College at Ezmer and Drasknor Vorwulf’s new protégé. Kyrahma came from a Feren queendom with Hellonica goddess of warships as the state patroness and had been banished by her queen for killing her fellows in battle and after finding herself on Westland shores she blundered into a skirmish between Westlanders and a Berserker Coven finding herself on the side of the berserkers. She still bears the tattoo of the coven on her chest, a picture of a flaming black gauntlet, a symbol of Malfaind patron of berserkers and god of madness, with a skull on either side. Jesae came with a half-hearted reference from minstrel Lugo Anmori as the slayers’ new tagalong has a reputation among the alumni of the Ezmer College as a slacker. Vorwulf was mounted on his new personal mount armored with its own plate barding. Grom also purchased a personal mount and just before they departed the city he gave Vorwulf and Bers the totems he had made for them. They checked their maps, a map of Chago to Hirok-Nor and a map of the “known world” before finally moving out.

At the end of 15 days just after leaving the town of Corvik/Corvir they caught sight of a small group which watched them cross the over the borders beyond the Chago sphere of influence, Vorwulf recognized Rrhga the Wilderland wolf as the leader. The last sight of the wolf saw him turn back in the direction of the city. They followed the trade road for a few more days till they found themselves settling down for the night. They had circled the wagons and started a fire. After dinner they laid down for the night with the slayers and their new companions taking turns on watch.

It came to Vorwulf’s watch and he woke everyone just as they heard the thundering footsteps of a mace wielding troll stomping into their campsite. Its face was swollen and red with nasty looking welts and it appeared to be blinded as it swung its spiked mace in wide sweeps instead of targeting anyone in battle. It was screaming, “You! I know you have it! Give me the book I know you stole it! Aaaah!”

Vorwulf struck the creature wounding it badly and then Grom turned it into a rabbit which Kyr grabbed up and tossed into the fire. The battle was brief. By morn they were in the town of Wenbaer where Grom hired 2 more lumpers and bought some livestock for some reason. They spent the night in town and left in the morning. After several more days between the towns of Wenbaer and Anaster they were flagged down in the morning by a dirty, exhausted man in dirty robes. Vorwulf spotted the yellow and black striped robes hidden underneath the peasants rags recognizing the man as Xanto the wasp.

Vorwulf & Bers in unison: “Xanto!”

Jesae & Kyr: “Who’s Xanto?”

Xanto: “Ah! My friends it’s fortunate that I’ve stumbled upon you! I’ve been mugged you see by devlish companions! How’s about a ride? For a friend?”

At that moment he jerked as if kicked and he dropped the sack he had over his shoulder and out plopped a large iron-bound tome bearing the image of a golden ruby-eyed troll’s face on its cover. The tome cussed him out and he immediately offered to sell it to them for “cheap”.

Vorwulf: “Where’d you get that book?”

Xanto: “Oh that cheating troll-king Pallgak!”

Jesae & Kyr: “Troll-king!?”

Vorwulf: “Oh he wasn’t a troll-king dirty old Pallgak! You stole the Blackwings’ tome didn’t you!” Pointing an accusatory finger.

Xanto: “Well, um, yeah. That stinking troll didn’t pay me enough for it either. SO I stole his book.”

Kyr: “I don’t trust this guy let’s kill’em.”

Jesae: *Sigh*. “Whatever.”

Vorwulf: “Ya never trust Xanto, we don’t trust Xanto and we ain’t gonna kill’em. You can ride with us but we’re gonna have a conversation about that book!”

Xanto was careful in using the sack to scoop the tome back up from the dirt road without touching it with his hands and jumped up onto the last wagon with Grom’s livestock. They continued on. They traveled for around 2 and half months finally arriving in Hirok-Nor along the West Road into the Varidna Plain where they found a battlefield.

The plain was littered with shattered armor and shields, rusted sword shards and broken axe blades some bearing the arms of Fertum Vorahd along with the bones of the hill-giants of Sirti. Standing here and there were the petrified bodies of trolls. The stamp on the front of what was once their chest plates represented a conical mountain with a surrounding moat and a dragon above the pinnacle with wings outstretched. Grom then attempted to commune with the spirits in order to glean some answers. He found out from the voices of the dead that the God-King of Trollguard had orchestrated the battle allowing his forces entry after victory into Hirok-Nor. The slayers realized this was the same character that had probably forged the mirror-vault door for Sawback. Vorwulf used his tracking skills to try to get a bead on the direction of the rest of Trollguards forces. He found they went due east directly towards Hirok.

Grom: “Crap! That’s exactly where we’re going!”

Grom was asked to and did locate a camping spot which wasn’t haunted and the caravan set up to rest. They gathered around the fire and were just finishing dinner when the bard started to play his lute. A group of trolls immediately charged into camp catching them all by surprise. The trolls clobbered 4 hirelings, all lumpers, before engaging the slayers in battle. There were 4 trolls, 3 of which were the standard size for a troll about 8 ft tall but well-equipped with large war-hammers and wearing wolf-skin mantles over scale mail with steel skullcaps on their heads. They were led by a 12 ft tall troll with brown skin the texture of gravely earth also wielding a hammer but of giant size and wearing patchwork bear hide with a horn bugle at his side. Jesae the bard hid by one of the wagons. Grom dodged a blow from a troll-hammer and Bers and Vorwulf power-attacked one of the three trolls and the big guy respectively. Vorwulf commanded the teamsters to move the wagons and Drask to protect them. Kyrahma slashed with her magic sword with a critical blow unfortunately the magic of the sword activated by the critical blow slashed open a dimensional rift to the hell-dimension of supernatural darkness known as Tartarus. 5 shadow beasts immediately emerged and as a result the trolls fled in one direction and the slayers in another following their wagons.

They kept moving through the night making sure to put as much space as possible between themselves and the creatures unleashed by the sword. By midmorning they arrived at the mining town of Sirti. The gates in the high stone wall were shut tight. The painted arms of the town, crossed black hammers above a block of gray stone against a field of orange, were faded and in places defaced with a weapon’s edge. It took some negotiating but were finally let inside. They spent their time in the cavernous tavern drinking among the local hill-giant miners/quarrymen wary of the ratlings which scampered apparently unseen among the tables. They pondered over the information they had gotten from the guards. They had been told that Achoran at the far south end on the other side of the Nirix River was under siege by “black” forces bearing the standard of a black gauntlet grasping a white star against a field of deep purple. The trolls of Trollguard had invaded months ago and had moved east confirming what they already knew.

To Be Continued…

The Dragon-slayers Campaign II: Intro

The first series of blog posts covered the first campaign played with the characters of Bers the fighter, Vorwulf the ranger/dragon-slayer his master Dead-Eye the ranger whom was tragically killed in a fight with giant highwaymen. I did gloss over certain details and simply left out most of the random encounters as they pretty much didn’t matter to any of the over-arching character goals or possible narratives. This blog is from my (the Game Master’s) point of view and I drew as a clean as possible narrative form what I had noted and what I could remember sometimes with the players’ help. As we’ve finished the game which Cris was running as GM which I’ll start blogging shortly as the Man Behind the Mask following my mage character. The burden of GM shifts back to me and of course Jenn, Cris and Gil want to pick back up with their dragon-slayer characters.

Again I’m pretty much doing this just to record the sessions and will try to post entries for this blog once a week though often life gets in the way so regularity can be a challenge. Promoting or publicizing Dice & Glory as well as the upcoming Arvan campaign setting are also aims of the blog of course. I didn’t keep very strict notes for the first campaign as I didn’t have much intention of blogging the whole thing. This time I’ll try to keep tighter notes and hopefully type it down while the session is still fresh in my mind.

Short of recapping the previous campaign, honestly I didn’t realize how much information is contained in a single game session until I started to blog them, the characters have wintered in the Ivoran coastal city of Chago. The group consisting of Bers the female (human) fighter played by Jenn now level 7, Vorwulf the male (human) ranger/dragonslayer now levels 3/3, and Grom the male (human) shaman now level 5. They are joined by Kyrahma a Ferenoi berserker (level 3) played by Isis, Jessie the male (human) level 4 bard played by Rhiea and Drasknor a male (human) level 2 ranger/level 2 dragonslayer as Vorwulf’s NEW protégé.

Well, this concludes the introduction. My next dragon-slayer post will begin with the first session as they travel out of Chago and the city’s sphere of influence on the road to Hirok-Nor far to the east.