Sunday, February 23, 2014

Westmist Session #65 - Been Gone Long

... There was some discussion around whether it would be best to go straight after the big reptilian demon (which was Rylee's  preference) or try to recover weapons and armour from the old guardroom first. Even with the risk of having to fight more strange undead to get there, most of the others felt it would be better to 'load up' before fighting an extraterrestrial demon with a tendency to cause insanity in those around it. First off, Kern slipped forward to scout silently. He peered in the next room, and saw a dozen mineral encrusted skeletal figures working away at the mine, blocking the route to the guardroom. Backing up to confer with his colleagues, everyone decided it would be best to have Bjorn cast his invisibility spell on Kern, so he could slip past the ore bones and get to the guardroom.  As Kern moved forward however, he stepped on a dried bone, makes a loud 'snap' sound as he entered the chamber with the undead. This roused the evil creatures, but although they could sense the presence of the living, they couldn't see the invisible merchant, and wandered off in the wrong direction. Kern took advantage of this, and slipped forward into the next chamber, the guardroom. Here, a half dozen sets of skeletal remains lay on the floor, with armor and weapons scattered around. In one corner tied to a chair was another skeleton, dressed in leather armor and with weapons lying next to it on a table. Kern gladly slipped into a set of leather armor, and gathered as much weapons as he could carry back to his companions. The ore bones still had not returned, so the whole this time slipped into the guardroom to get what armor and extra weapons they could (they found latter that some of the crossbow bolts were bolts +1, and there was also a hand axe +1 amongst the dross).
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Now ready to take on the world (or at least a reptilian demon), they prepared to head west to search for the black stele. Before they left, however, Gurruk peaked around the other exit of the room to see what was there. In the next chamber he saw a ghostly procession of miners working the ore veins, overseen by a pair of desiccated taskmasters. He pulled back quickly, and was luckily not seen. The still invisible Kern slipped ahead to scout, and finding the ore bones chamber still thankfully empty, the rest followed. Tracking back toward the west, they pointedly avoided the large chamber full of undead and headed to the area just north of it. Kern was able to guide the party around another group of ore bones before leading them into large chamber. And here was the object of their quest. In the middle of the room was a pit, 15' deep. Sticking out of it at a 45 degree angle was a black stone, covered in strange alien carvings.  Though tempted to just go smash the thing and be done, everyone calmed down enough to plan how best to deal with the stele, and whatever consequences hammering away at it would bring. Darnorth examined some of the nearby tunnels, and was able to figure out how to collapse one with a few solid blows with a pick. That would close off one route of attack if they attracted any unwelcome attention. Then spells were cast: Riley cast a series of striking on various weapons, ans called down the blessings of Habuu. Erijay hasted everyone, then cast her mirror image for added  protection. Bjorn had similar plans, casting shield to protect himself. Erijay then approached the stele with the blessed hammer of Lughrin, Darnorth approached the weak tunnel with his pickaxe, and the rest took positions to cover the only remaining entrance and protect the elf so she could work on shattering the stone.

Swinging the hammer, Erijay struck the strange rock a telling blow. Her arms shook as the power of the alien thing pulsed through the hammer, and a small crack appeared in it. At the same time, Darnorth started hammering away at the weak tunnel to collapse it, while the rest stood in wait at the other entrance. Suddenly, a screaming roar was heard, and the reptilian beast partly materialized next to the stele. Darnorth's tunnel now collapsed in a rumble of rock and dust, and he and  Kern rushed over to cover Erijay. The beast waved it's four arms in the air and breathed a blast of purple fire  on the three, but Erijay kept hammering at the stone. Meanwhile, the rest could see a legion of undead marching towards them, skeletons, ore bones, zombies and others all lead by a grey, dessicated thing. It now looked grim, but with a final swing Erijay split the black stone asunder. Quickly, she tossed the hammer the Rylee so he could use it to call on Habuu to turn the undead. She joined Kern and Darnorth to battle the now fully materialized  beast. Swords bit deep, and it roared again, this time instilling deep fear in all. As it roared however, Kern and Erijay struck once more and with a final agonizing trash it dissipated into a cloud of pruple smoke and was gone. Suddenly the room around them began to pulse with a strange vibrating energy.

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While Kern and Erijay battled the beast, Riley raised the holy axe at called down the power of Habuu on the approaching doom. In the enter of the column, a mass of skeletons and zombies exploded into a cloud of undead dust and gore.  Raising it again and again, he drove off more of their attackers, while Darnorth and Erijay held the front line and Kern covered them with missile fire. Just as the strange vibration ended, they last of the undead were destroyed. At that moment, they noticed all the undead became 'normal' corpses. And of more immediate interest, all of their equipment returned! Well, almost all. Each noted some item missing, including Kern`s folding boat and ring of invisibility, Rylee`s eyes of the serpent , Bjorn`s magical dagger, and Erijay`s spellbook. While much cursing ensued, they were at least happen to have most of things back.
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Assuming the curse was lifted and they could now leave the mine and go collect Duncal from the trolls, they headed off. But first stopped by the huge forge room Kern had scouted earlier, just to see if the beast he`d seen there was the same one they`d just destroyed. It was, but it was not a wasted trip as they discovered a stack of gold ingots which slipped into his secret chest. Now though, it was time to get their reward, so without further exploration they backtracked to the troll halls. One more, the passed through the minotaurs room, again oddly unmolested by the creatures Reaching the troll halls, they confronted the two troll housecarls who stood guard outside the huge doors. The two seemed confused by their presence. Darnorth, listening in with his helm, overhead them trying to figure out who the party were as they seemed to remember something about a bunch of surface peoples visiting a long time ago. Kern managed to make himself understood by asking for Grammlemor, so the guards disappeared through the doors and soon came back with the old troll hag, her head under her arm. With her smattering of Common, she spoke to the party, and expressed surprise that they returned after being gone so long. Asked how long they had been gone, Grammlemor put down her head and started counting fingers, stopping at about 60. It would appear that time passed much more slowly inside the temporal distortion than they thought!
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Jarl Sveg and his bodyguards now arrived with Duncal in tow. He sent off some of his trolls to dig out one of the blocked mine tunnels, and they soon returned to tell the Jarl that the mine was now free again. True to his word, the Jarl turned over the scrawny heir, noting there`s enough meat on Duncal to make him fit for the stew pot anyway. The Jarl talked a little about where they might find some more slaves to work the mines, either gnomes or men. Rylee tried to recruit  the trolls to help overthrow the March Baron, but that didn`t go over well. The Jarl wasn`t interested in getting tangled up in surface wars; he would get the slaves his own way! He imperiously ordered the party to take Duncal and leave before he changed his mind, and seeing no reason to provoke a fight (or become slaves themselves the party complied. They headed back out through Stonehell, speaking amongst themselves about what might have happened in the two months they`d been gone. They decided that rather than go straight to town, they would hold up in Gurruk and Boohs (who miraculously was still there)`wooded hovel to question Duncal and to plan.