Having missed many of the recent adventures due to ecclesiastical obligations, Riley returned full of vim and vigor, ready to take on the challenges of the dungeon. His new found crusading zeal was aimed less at the hobgoblins (who were deemed a little too powerful for a reduced group to handle) but the undead denizens of the dungeon. All agreed on the side-trek, and the trio of Riley, Erijay and Darnorth headed back to the crypts. Starting in the northern crypts where Kern and Darnorth had last explored, the group battered (and were battered by) zombies and skeletons with no reward but masses of cheap copper trinkets and an unusual travel worn but well made cloak, claimed by Riley.
Reaching the end of the corridor, they encountered a large pillared room that extended beyond their torchlight. While Riley stayed outside with the torch, Erijay and Darnorth scouted into the room with infravision. Before going far, they were attacked by another group of skeletons, easily handled with Riley’s help. Examining the room more closely, they noted the pillars were all carved with faces contorted in pain and extreme discomfort. At the far end stood a statue of a tall woman, dressed in leather with a veil over her face, and holding a huge flail in each hand. In front of the statue stood a jug. Carefully the party approached, and Darnorth gingerly poked and prodded the jug with a 10’ pole. After satisfying himself it was not trapped, he reached in to pull out several handfuls of silver coins. Unsure if that was a wise thing, he dropped in a few gold coins to compensate. The group next turned their attention to the statue. While in the process of trying to tip it over, they were startled by a sinister, creepy voice, which said “You are a brave group to toy with Sorcha, the Mistress of Pain”. Turning to look, they saw a humanoid figure standing near the door, draped in plain black robes. Questioning the figure revealed his name was Malfreces, and he lived here in the crypts with his ‘people’ (pointing at the jumbled skeletal remains at his feet). He gave the impression that he wished nothing more than to be left alone, and berated the party for having disturbed his peace with their explorations in the crypts. While certainly unsettling, he seems to pose no immediate threat, so the party hastily excused themselves from the room (with protest from Riley, who felt this individual was an evil affront to Habuu and should be destroyed).
They did not go far, however, and headed for the southern crypts where they dealt with more ghouls and zombies and recovered a few silver and gold coins for their trouble. Now rather battered by all the fighting, the trio headed back to town for a few days rest and healing. On their way out, they encountered another kobold work crew. Bribing them with ‘surface food’, they learned Malfreces rarely left the crypts and seemed uninterested in all others in the dungeon, and really did just want to be left alone for whatever reason. They also learned that the hobgoblins had been eerily quiet over the last few days.
Having exhausted all obvious options in this area, the three next headed east to fill in some gaps on their map. Unfortunately, while working their way around a previously identified pit trap, they were surprised by three crab spiders that dropped on them from the ceiling. One bit Erijay, who luckily shrugged of the poison, before they fell to a combination of the elf’s Sleep spell and a batting by the dwarf’s sword and clerics mace. Passing near the room in which they had a near disastrous ghoul encounter many weeks before, they were slightly disturbed to see that the spikes they used to bar the door had been wrenched out and the door was now free.
In the next room, they discovered stored preservation material including linens, embalming fluids, and bottled spices and strange liquids (which they gathered to take back for later examination). Listening at the next door, Darnorth again heard a slobbering, chewing sound inside. Suspecting ghouls, they choose to leave it for now. Instead they investigated a chapel of sorts, with prayers mats, frescos of mourners on the walls, a rack of ceremonial scourges, and a salt stained bronze font. After poking around the corridor to extend their map a bit more, they then discussed what to do with the ghouls. A plan was hatched, involving pouring oil under the door and lighting it on fire. A chorus of ghoulish screams was heard, and when the flames seem to have died down, Darnoth hauled the door open. They first faced a cloud of oily smoke, which obscured the surviving ghouls, who charged out of the smoke and fell upon the party. A relatively short fight ensued, which saw Darnorth paralyzed (but healed by Riley), before the undead lay dead once more. Rummaging through the gore stained room, they found a mass of copper coins mixed in with the offal, as well as a beautiful war hammer. This was quickly claimed by the cleric.
Headed back to Westmist again, the party stopped to battle with fire beetles (during which Riley learned his new weapon was indeed a magical war hammer +1). Rummaging through the trash, they also found the torso of an unfortunate adventurer with backpack still attached. In it they found a range of usual adventuring gear, as well as a small bag of coins and a notebook, blank except for a recipe for “Gnome Stew” on the first page. Back in town, they turned the bottles removed from the embalming room, and Riley’s cloak, over the Synthini for examination. After taking a day to investigate, she noted that the cloak was a journey cloak, designed to protect one form the discomforts of the road such as heat and cold and rain. Of the bottles, most were poisonous, but one proved to be a potion of longevity.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
Continuing to scout around the perimeter of the hobgoblin lair, Kern (with mule Sweet Jenny III) , Darnorth (with henchman Roth) and the two baronial guardsmen returned to Stonehell. This time they were accompanied by a purple robed and turbaned mage from distant lands by the name Salif the Stargazer. Headed to level 2 to explore around the lizard folk lair again, they were delayed for a short time by two swirling crypt shades blocking the way in the crypts. Brushing those aside, they first went looking for the elevator that the kobolds reported was in the area. They found two rooms full of gears, chains and other mechanical bits, obviously the mechanism for the elevator. They also found a blank wall, which both Kern and Darnorth examined in great detail. They found that there was a gap around the edges of the wall, and vertical scratches seemed to indicate it moved up and down. But they were not able to find any controls.
Somewhat stymied, they resolved the rush back if they heard the rumbling sound again, and headed back to the lizardfolk lair to finish exploring that area. First checking a bypassed door, they found a small room with a well in the centre. The clear water showed the well to be about 10 feet deep, but when Darnorth lowered the bucket into the water, it passed right through the floor before coming to a rest after 20 feet in total. Intrigued, Kern stripped to his skivvies, tied a rope around his waist and had Darnorth and Roth lower him into the well. Passing through the illusionary bottom, he found a chest, which was pulled to the surface with the help of Darnorth and Roth. Inside they found a fair selection of gold and silver coins, which quickly ended up on Sweet Jenny’s back.
Heading now into lizardfolk caves, Roth ran into a trip wire which brought a deadfall of wood and ruble down on the party’s head. Shaking off the dust and binding their wounds, they noticed the two guards did not rise, and thus ended the March Baron’s contribution to their exploration. Moving forward cautiously, they passed through the cave of their previous lizardfolk battle, now cleared of bodies. Leaving the rest behind, Darnorth scouted ahead with his infravision. Poking his head around the corner, he was met by a volley of spears from a half dozen lizard men, accompanied by a huge lizard. Battle ensued, with the lizardfolk holding back and lobbing spears at the party. Salif made his contribution with a Sleep spell, which dropped about half the lizardfolk. As the party then pushed forward to engage in melee, the remaining lizardfolk awoke several of their sleeping number before falling on the intruders. It was a hard fought melee, and the lizardmen were able to get behind the party and fell the mage Salif (who was luckily saved from death by timely help from Darnorth) before being finished by the party. With barely time to recover, their breath, another band of lizardfolk attacked from behind and was defeated with some difficulty.
After binding wounds and loading the invalid Salif onto Sweet Jenny, the party continued exploration of the caves. Of note was a new mound in the room with the large mound previously discovered, which proved to be a burial mound for the lizardfolk slaughtered by the party last time. Further exploration uncovered a few abandoned lizardfolk guard posts, what appeared to be the former quarters of the lizardfolk shaman, and a cave that opened onto a rushing underground river. This could not be examined more closely as the cave was also occupied by a large number of giant crocodiles. Slowly backing away, the party headed north towards another exit from the caves, and noted an odd buzzing sound ahead. Kern inched forward to look and saw three large flies buzzing around in the next room. After some debate, they decided to go after the buzzing vermin, only to trip a second deadfall trap as they left the caves, this one crushing Roth, Sweet Jenny, and the unfortunate Salif. With just the two of them now left, Darnorth and Kern decided the time had come to head back to Westmist.
After a few days of rest and recovery, Kern (with a new mule Sweet Jenny IV) and Darnorth (with a new man-at-arms Barfirth) headed back to the dungeon, this time to explore the crypts some more. Remembering the ambush after the last lizardfolk slaughter, they elected to approach the dungeon overland from the east rather than directly over the road from the south. Arriving safely at Stonehell, they moved directly into the crypts, only to once again encounter giant shrews grazing in the main entrance chamber. Filled with a rage he didn’t understand, Darnorth charged at the rodents, which were quickly killed with support from Kern and Barfirth. That taken care of, the party head east into another area of crypts similar to those encountered to the south. Bursting into several, they fought a mix of zombies, giant rats and ghouls, and liberated a pile of gold in one room. Alas, Barfirth’s adventuring career was cut short by a zombie club, leaving Kern and Darnorth once more short of assistance and the decision was made to head back to town once more.
Too restless to rest, the two poked around town for and sights or rumors. In addition to watching the execution of a thief in the town square, they did overhear some fisherman complaining that someone was stealing tools and knives from their fishing sheds west of town. Offering their services, Darnoth and Kern hid on a shed roof overnight, with unfortunately nothing to show for their efforts. They then paid a visit to Slate the dwavern tinkerer and engineer who had fixed up their house. Kern wanted to know if the dwarf could figure out some way to collapse the hobgoblins secret cave entrance, and then dig the party a new entrance so they could sneak in whenever they want. Slate agreed to take the job, quoting price of 1200gp to collapse the tunnel and have his crew of dwarven diggers make a secret secondary entrance. Before work could start, however, Slate needed more information on the layout of the cave entrance as well as assurance that he and his workers would be well protected during their work (which could take a number of days to complete depending on the layout of the cave entrance).
Friday, October 12, 2012
The next day, tales of unclaimed and unguarded wealth was enough to get everyone off to Stonehell at the crack of dawn. Erijay, Kern and Turrick headed off to hopefully haul another load out of the dungeon from the treasure trove Darnorth and Erijay had discovered and plundered the day before. Accompanied by the mule Sweet Jenny, the re-hired men-at-arms Humore and Undic, and Elineel the hench-elf, they headed straight for the treasure on the second level. Delayed first by a band of skeletons (who unfortunately made short work of Undic and Humore, who fell dead to the spears of the undead), the party arrived back in the fighting pit and prepared to re-enter the room with the strongbox. Cautiously, Kern checked the door for noises and traps. Nothing was noted, but just as they were about head for the treasure, a squad of disciplined hobgoblin soldiers burst into the room behind them and immediately formed up to attack. Desperate to avoid a fight at this point, Erijay quickly offered them a share of the treasure. This was enough to make them stop and think, although they were not quite ready to trust the party. While half the squad stood guard over Kern and Turrick, the other half frog-marched Erijay into the room with the treasure and had her open the chest (which she noted contained a little less gold than it did when they left it). Seeing now that at least the story of the treasure was true, the hobgoblins began to whisper themselves, discussing what to do. This went on for some time with Erijay alternating between trying to convince them to share the treasure and let the party go, and trying to overhear what they were saying. But suddenly, the hobgoblin corporal shouted a word of command, and the squad fell on the party in the hopes of claiming all the treasure. Erijay was lucky enough to get off a Sleep spell and neutralize the hobgoblins in the room with her, and then went back to the fighting pit to help Kern and Turrick finish off the rest.
While Turrick and Erijay watched the party’s back, Kern and Elineel first tied up the sleeping hobgoblins, and then proceeded to load Sweet Jenny down with as much coin as she could carry. They then slit the throats of all but the leader of the sleeping hobgoblins, and proceeded to dump all the bodies into the now much depleted strongbox and close the lid. The last hobgoblin they stripped, bound and gagged, then shook awake. Erijay proceeded to put him under a charm, and once they cleared up some initial misunderstanding about the binding and treasure share, proceeded to question him about the hobgoblins and their plans. In short, they learned that the hobgoblins planned to take over the first two levels of the dungeon, and then use it as a base for once wing of their attack on Westmist and the rest of the lands of men. The attack from Stonehell would be the minor wing consisting of about 1200 hobgoblin troops, while the rest of the armies would cross the Great River and attack up the old Westway road. The hobgoblins were building boats and rafts at two locations (one in the ruins of Nasper, the other on the Great River more or less directly west of Stonehell) to carry this invasion force. In terms of timing, the various forces were beginning to muster with the invasion planned for the spring, all lead by the cryptically named “He Who Walks in Metal”. The party also learned that the entrances to the hobgoblin lair in Stonehell are all well fortified and defended, but that there was a back way in. The hobgoblins accidently discovered Stonehell while investigated a serious of caves in the box canyon due east of the one in which the dungeon entrance lay. This entrance was poorly guarded and still open; a fact confirmed when the captive lead the party out of the dungeon and around the hills to the cave entrance.
Leading their new ‘friend’ back to Westmist, the party sent Rikar to inform the Baron of their success. Much to their surprise, the March Baron arrived at the house in person to question and collect the prisoner. Now much worried, but at least glad to know he had some time to prepare, the Baron asked again for any assistance the party could provide in blunting the hobgoblins plans, while he looked to marshaling troops and supplies to meet the threat in the spring. Kern, Turrick and Erijay discussed the matter, and felt that the first order of business was to head back to Stonehell to scout some more before the whole party decided what the best course of action would be.
Taking a few days to rest and recover (and to divide up the pile of treasure they had recovered), the three headed back to Stonehell again, accompanied by Elineel and Sweet Jenny, plus the 6 guardsmen previously promised by the March Baron. First, the impetuous halfling wanted to try his hand at the Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, his incredible luck had deserted him, and Turrick found himself paralyzed. After waiting several hours to see if it was a temporary effect, Erijay and Kern loaded the halfling onto Sweet Jenny and headed back to town to look for help. First consulting Duran the Physician, he sent them along to the Temple of the Three Virtues for divine assistance. There, Assistant Sub-Virtue Drull was able to cure the halfling of his affliction in return for a modest donation to the temple.
That taken care of, next morning they headed out for the dungeon again. This time, however, they never made it as they were caught in a lizardfolk ambush as they were moving along the old Stonehell road. Caught by a surprise volley of spears from the flanking marshes, the fight went bad from the start. Both Turrick and Erijay took multiple hits, and Elineel, Sweet Jenny, and most of the guardsmen fell under the rain of spears. Although the party was able to take out about half of the ambushing party (including the leader), things looked grim until Erijay conjured up a phantasmal red dragon in the hopes of driving off their attackers. While not exactly frightened by the dragon, the lizard folk were distracted long enough for the party to break contact and race back to town, with the lizard folk in hot pursuit. Only once within sight of the town did their pursuers turn back, and the remains of the party made it back into the safety of the town walls.
Friday, October 5, 2012
With Lord Merdwyn breathing down their backs, the party prepared to head back to the dungeon right away. Given the hasty departure, only Darnoth and Erijay were prepared go at once, leaving the others behind in Westmist. Darnorth choose to take on the eager Roth as his personal hireling, and also engaged the services of three new men-at arms (Humore, Alson, Undic) for additional muscle. And of course, Fonzi the loyal war dog accompanied his mistress once again.
Determined to locate the hobgoblin redoubt, this time the party headed straight for the second level and started exploring the area to the south of the spiral staircase. Scouting ahead of the torchbearers and using infravision, Darnorth and Erijay examined a few rooms before coming to one with an old table and chairs in the centre. The top of the table was covered with silver coins, which immediately made them suspect a trap. After much prodding around with a 10’ pole, Darnorth simply pushed the table over, only to find the coins did not come loose. Prying one off reveled they had been glued to the table top. Not interested in wasting time prying off the low value coins one by one, Darnorth and Erijay let the men-at-arms grab a few before heading on. Darnorth, still muttering about ‘those damn coins’, carelessly stepped on a pressure plate as they left the room. This set a huge blade in motion, swinging down from the ceiling, which barely missed the dwarf’s head. Breathing a sigh of relief, they passed next through a room full of small beetles (and several giant toads feasting on the beetles), and then encountered an iron post driven in the centre of the corridor. On top of the spike was a human skull. Written on the skull in hobgoblin were the words “Patrolled Area Ahead – 6th Century, 9th Cohort, Hobgoblin Occupation Army”. It would seem at last the party had found their hobgoblins.
With Erijay and Darnorth again scouting ahead, the party explored a series of rooms, pumped some kobolds for information and fought a handful of giant spitting beetles, before finally coming to a locked door. This door was unusual as it was quite new, the fresh cut timber still oozing sap. Listening carefully, Erijay could hear hobgoblin voices on the other side. Now putting their plan into play, Erijay drank the potion of gaseous form provided by Turrick, and in her incorporeal form slipped under the door. On the other side she found a hobgoblin guardroom with 3 hobgoblins playing dice and complaining as only bored soldiers can. Listening for awhile, she heard a lot about how much easier it was here in Stonehell than with the armies in the field, that the raptor corps wasn’t such a hot posting after all, and learned that reinforcements were expected in Stonehell in the coming weeks. Moving deeper into the hobgoblin lair, Erijay explored a dining and kitchen area, infirmary, mountain lions and hobgoblin handler, and a curious room with a white tiled floor and two glass and crystal spheres in the corners, before ending up in another guardroom similar to the first. Fearing now that the potions’ effects may soon wear off, Erijay headed back to the door where Darnorth and the rest of the party waited. Along the way she noted a corridor heading north from the tiled room, blocked off with rubble. She also noted that the new door was firmly barred from the inside, which would have made entry by conventional means very difficult.
Loaded with information, but with just Darnorth’s single silver coin and a few coppers to show in treasure, they decided to explore a little further. Going east to fill in some blank spaces on the map, they encounter a room with three kobold corpses. Immediately suspicious, Darnorth looked up just in time to see 2 giant crab spiders descend and attack. These were dispatched with relative ease, but not before the brave Fonzi fell to their venom. Heading back to the west, they party followed a twisted corridor ending at a set of double doors. Listening, Erijay heard a hissing sound on the other side. Warned of trouble, the party bust into what looked like a gladiatorial fighting pit, now occupied by a mass of pit vipers. Whipping out blades, the group attacked and killed one snake. This frightened the rest, who slithered away below one of the other doors in the room, but not before the man-at-arms Alson fell to their fangs.
Although time was running late, Darnorth and Erijay decided to check one more room. Choosing the door opposite the one under which the pit vipers fled, they found a disused bedroom with walls covered crumbling broadsheets advertising pit fights from days gone by. Before they could explore, a pair of shadowy figures descended on them, and a short but furious fight ensued. Luckily the party escaped with minor harm, except Erijay who temporarily found her strength drained by the touch of the beings. Now taking time to look around, the party noted that apart from some standard furniture, the most notable feature of the room was the massive strongbox against the far wall. This was latched and not locked, but Darnorth noted the lid was covered in a suspicious sticky substance. Assuming it was poisoned, Erijay used her 10’ pole to lift the lid, revealing literal ton of silver, gold, electrum, jewelry, potions and scrolls. Once over the initial shock, everyone starts stuffing the most valuable pieces in sacks, backpacks, and pockets until they could hold no more. Carefully closing the lid again, they left a note on the chest saying “Danger – Deadly Poison!” and then proceeded to slowly crawl out of the dungeon, burdened by all their treasure. With uncanny luck, they made it back to the surface without incident and then headed back into Westmist with their loot. Cashing everything in, they ended up with almost 9000gp, plus a scroll of Ward vs Undead and three potions (Sweet Water, Clairvoyance, Human Control). Stunned by the amount of treasure, they almost forgot to report their findings on the hobgoblins to the Baron. Lord Merdwyn thanked them for the information and their effort, and asked that they again head into the dungeon to blunt that wing of the hobgoblin attack. And although short on men himself, he offered a squad of his own soldiers to accompany the partly next time.