Friday, September 12, 2014

Westmist Session #79 - Duncal Rescued (Again); Kern Dead (Again)

The party awoke the next morning to a blanket of snow covering the ground, and to find Riley, Gurruk and Darnorth had departed during the night on some urgent business. None the less, Kern, Bjorn, Lomar and Erijay decided to brave the abandoned halls of the Blackhammer clan once more before, Duncal and Janus were lost forever and beyond saving.  Passing once more through the entry chamber, and following the oil/stone trench to the right, the party paused briefly for some spell casting. Erijay caste locate object to hone in on Janus' mighty warhammer, while the ever cautious Lomar cast find traps to ensure the path to that hammer was clear. Erijay was able to get a fix on the direction of the hammer, so the party turned right again to investigate a new corridor. Here, the found that the oil/stone system ended here in front of a pair of iron double doors. On the opposite corridor wall, two additional iron doors could be seen.  Erijay's spell seemed to point towards the two smaller doors, so Kern stopped to listen. Behind the second he could here the faint sound of whimpering.  "Must be Duncal" said Erijay, so Kern knocked on the door and called out.
There were a few tense moments as Janus tried to confirm that it was the party and not some foul fiend intent on tricking the watchful knight. Inside  stood Janus, four of his men (and a crestfallen Duncal), in what proved to be a storage or supply room for the dwarven blast furnaces, At the back lay a body, wrapped in a cloak. Questioned by Kern Janus revealed he had dragged Duncal along into the dungeon  so the young man could learn to 'face dangers and fight like a man and leader'. That didn't work out too well, and they'd ended up trapped in here, forbidden to leave by Duncal for fear of encountering more slime beasts. Once Duncal recovered his composure now that salvation was in sight, he raged at Kern and the party for not honoring the intent of their bargain (he lives in luxury, plays along with the coup attempt, but then gets to go his way). Much foot stomping and hissy-fits followed before the erstwhile 'March Baron in waiting' was placated. Ready to leave the awful darkness, Duncal was once more crestfallen when Sir Janus agreed to accompany the party on further exploration of the dungeon.
With Janus, Duncal and entourage in tow, the party choose next to investigate the double set of double doors. Lomar carefully tied a rope around his waist, gave one end to Erijay, and poled himself across the oil pool on one of the stones. Opening one set of double doors revealed a large room with three blast furnaces on the opposite wall. Scattered around were barrels, heaps of slag, piles of ore and charcoal, and various implements and bellows. Erijay crossed over the join Lomar, and stuck her head in one of the blast furnaces. Disturbing some ash and soot, the elf also disturbed another of the ash creatures encountered previously, which billowed down from the flue to pummel and blind and suffocate her. As Erijay stumbled away, Sir Janus lead his men in a charge across the oil/stones (in which one slipped into the viscous stuff and began to drown), dragging a terrified Duncal after them. Lomar turned to try assisting Erijay and/or the drowning man-at-arms, while Kern and Bjorn provided missile and magic missile fire support from behind. While battle raged, Erijay dunked her head in the oil to try washing the ash off her eyes and throat, but instead just made things worst as the molasses thick liquid coated her head. Lomar tossed her a wine skin, which the elf pored partly over her head and partly down her throat.  Then Lomar pulled out the drowning man-at-arms. Sir Janus, Kern and Bjorn continued to fight the ash thing. The knight's men however, unable to hit their foe and with one eye on the simpering Duncal, thought discretion the better part of valour, and turned and ran. In the process of which another slipped in the oil and began to thrash around and sink. All was not lost though, as the ash thing was finally dissipated, the drowning man rescued, and Duncal's tears dried.

After some discussion, the party decided it best to escort Duncal and Janus out of the dungeon before exploring any further. With some coaxing and slapping by the elf, Duncal was made to look leaderly for his emergence from the dungeon, with great (well, some) cheers from the assembled men. Duncal disappeared into his pavilion, and the party disappeared back into the dungeon (but only after Erijay rounded up a suitably ornery porcupine to slip into Duncal's tent). Heading back to finish exploring the corridor they;'d just left, the party was surprised by the sudden appearance of another slime beast at the first intersection.  Erijay, then Kern, were pummeled by the dwarven pseudo-pod which appeared, and both ended up paralyzed and being slowly engulfed by the thing. They were luckily rescued by Lomar and Bjorn, respectively, and a series of potions of healing  rammed down throats revived them from paralysis. They then rejoined the fight, assisted by a haste spell from Erijay, fireball from both Erijay and Bjorn, and lots of flaming oil from Lomar. It was not long before the great monster was an ankle deep layer of crispy goo on the floor.
Rather than continue to their original goal, the party decided to explore the hallway off this intersection. Like the others it was a 20' wide corridor, but unlike the others it contained no oil/stone trench. A set of double doors lay at the far end, while a pair of regular doors lay to the west, and a small hatch or door lay to the east. This small door intrigued Kern, so he hustled over to listen and search for traps. Hearing/finding nothing, he opened it up to reveal a narrow, low tunnel. This extended about 20' before opening up into what appeared to be the massive flue and chimney for the blast furnaces. Poking around uncovered nothing but ash and soot, so the party moved on to the other doors. At one Kern heard sounds of movement, so they bypassed that one and entered the next room. This looked to be a dwarven domicile, complete with stone furniture and a stone chest. The chest received immediate attention, and Kern disabled a scything blade trap before opening it to reveal the shine of gold coin.  Which were quickly swept into Kern's chest of holding. The second room was quickly checked later, but left unexplored when the sounds proved to be 5 more of the stone centipedes.

Moving on now to the double doors at the end of the corridor, Kern opened these up (after the usual noise and trap checks) to find a vast hall on the other side. In the center stood a stone lectern, formed of three large black hammers, on a circular base. Scattered around were stone benches, all at weird angles. Something shimmered on the wall to the east, but of immediate concern was another large slime beast at the south west end of the room. It lunged forward as the party opened up with flasks of oil , crossbow bolts and a scroll cast fireball. This all made relatively short work of the thing, but alas Kern did not live to see it's defeat, and he fell dead to it's terrible blows.

Temporarily leaving Kern's corpse in the safe dwarven domicile, the party continued to explore.  Erijay poked about the lectern and discovered that the whole thing (including the round base) could be turned with some difficulty and a god-awful grinding sound. Eager to find what lay below, she and Lomar rigged up a block and tackle to lift the whole thing out of the floor. Inside the shaft and on the base itself, they found a series of now somewhat stripped gears. Putting it back in place, they discovered the thing moved easier when pushed opposite the way they'd turned it before, but still saw no sign of how the mechanism was activated normally.
Bored with the mechanical stuff, they now moved on to check out the shimmering wall. There they found and arched opening filled with what looked with a film of quicksilver, A little experimentation proved that there was some 'give' in the film, but nothing (10' pole, hand, face) could penetrate it. A little flummoxed at this point, the party decided to move off and check out a few other doors they'd missed. Behind one was a dwarven workshop where fine iron work was done. The other was empty, except for a stone font filled with a silvery liquid. Again much poking and prodding ensued, until Lomar exclaimed "hey, maybe this has something to do with the silver door", and everyone started filling vials and empty wine skins with the liquid. Marching back to the lecture hall, Lomar tossed a vial of the liquid at the wall, and it miraculously passed through! Bjorn then stood in front of the shimmering arch, quaffed a flask of silver liquid, and tried to walk though. To no avail. Next he spread some on his arm, and was able to stick it through the wall. At which point, Lomar dumped a flask over his head and walked right through. On the other side was a small room with an interesting feature. Three black metal pillars stood in the center, each forming the point of a triangle. In the center was a rapidly spinning matching pillar of what appeared to be liquid gold. Passing the news on to his compatriots (who now followed him through the gate), Lomar moved towards the gold. And was immediately drawn into one of the pillars, where he remained stuck until Erijay the brawny elf-maid pulled him free. She then proceeded to pick up a small stone, and toss it at the golden pillar. It immediately started to wobble and oscillate until it was obvious it was about to collapse or something equally unpleasant. Lomar and Bjorn quickly dashed out the gate, but Erijay was too slow and was caught in a spray of hot liquid gold as the pillar burst out of it's containment and scattered all over the room. Once she stopped cursing the pain, the elf beckoned Lomar and Bjorn back into the room to help her scrape the massive pile of now cooling gold off the floor and walls. Which was stuffed into the magic chest to be smuggled out of the dungeon. And with that the trio headed out, after picking up the cooling Kern along the way.

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