Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

Slug lyfe
When you're going through hell, it's best to do it in a meat suit of a giant beast.

I’m a slug! And the others are all trolls! This is fun. But we’re heavy – while scenting for the location of the troglodytes, the crevice through which they could be scented collapsed, and we fall into a … target-rich environment.

Trog fight! None of us were adversely affected by the stench, but we were rather flat-footed. Which makes exactly no difference to a critter that is essentially one big flat foot.

Growler struck up a rather inspiring song, and we began to fight. I’m not sure what all these trogs have against a giant slug, but unfortunately they’re not stupid enough to keep doing damage I can simply absorb. The one trog charging on lizard-back with a polearm hurt quite a lot, actually.

But the trogs weren’t the only creatures who could run at things and hit them hard – Bigmug came thundering through the crowd, clawing and biting all the way (“ho ho ho”). Squelcher kept tonguing things (occasionally effectively), and Crusher just stood in the middle of a crowd of trogs, ignoring their slings and arrows (or clubs and teeth), and poking things VERY HARD with a guisarme. Growler bit and clawed their way through a couple of lizards, then went running off after the fleeing spellcaster who had left some rather unpleasant acid arrows embedded in Bigmug’s otherwise impervious hide.

After a lot of biting, clawing, acid, and guisarming (guisarmament? guisarmadillo?), the cavern and its fungal floor was strewn with bits of troglodyte. One spellcaster got away, presumably to go and get help, but that does mean we’ll be able to follow the trail of his stench all the way back to… troglodyte HQ? Squelcher is just starting to get a taste for troglodyte, after all.

of gnomes and trolls and transformation
there's a fungus among us... or is it the other way around?

Al, speaking in gnomish, thanked and introduced the party to the gnome that had led us away to apparent safety. The language he used in reply was slightly odd – Al recognised it as being from a group of gnomes that live underground. The gnome offered us healing, and led us along a passageway. We were unable to tell whether or not the passageway was natural or gnome-made, due to the overgrowth of fungus. We asked the gnomes how they keep safe from the troglodytes, and they say they have several forms of defence – some magic, the rock troll, etc.

There was a pulsing feeling from all around us… almost like something breathing very slowly. Cog and Maul noticed that they felt especially aware of the whole party. And Maul noticed… something else, too. The rest of us could feel calming vibes coming from Maul. We passed another large troll, also with fungal growths, just watching us, and on we walked into a larger cavern, with quite a lot of little gnomes (30-40), huts carved out of mushrooms, clothes made from mushroom skins.

All the gnomes were bald – except the really old ones – and rather timid. They appeared to be curious, but not there to harm us. Maul then explained to us that she had noticed that we are sharing thoughts, and that the old gnomes don’t have hair – it’s fungus. Perhaps we should not stay here for too long. The gnomes seemed to behave with an unusually common purpose… almost as if they are of – literally – one mind. We could feel a large presence, but it was not clear what. Was the fungus sentient? Al greeted all the surrounding gnomes, and thanked them for welcoming us into their home. They ALL replied, in unison, that we were welcome here.

That was just a little creepy.

One of the gnomes came forward, and began speaking to us in broken common (although she tried dwarvish first) with occasional words of deep gnome thrown in… words that we found inexplicably much easier to guess than we usually would.

She asked if we came from the surface, we said we had, and she mentioned that there were earlier visitors from the surface – the second of which was Floriane. About 18 sporings ago (however long that is). She asked if we’re looking for Floriane, and we say that we’re looking for a weasel. Since the telepathic connection was becoming somewhat obvious by this point, to explain what we were looking for, Maul thought really hard about what a dire weasel looks like. The gnome said that there was something like that in the area… near the troglodytes. We asked for some help in finding the weasel, and she proposed that we could come to an arrangement… but first she needed to speak with their leader. She then walked about ten feet away, sat on a toadstool and meditated.

Al decided that having a sleep was the best option, and did so – there were convenient gnome-sized beds – and had some seriously weird dreams: she felt that she was in a gigantic forest with no up or down, a warm glow, a feeling of nourishment and growth. In the distance, something conflicted, hostile. Huge plants fighting a great slow battle against each other, trying to steal the sunlight and nutrients from others.

While Al slept, the gnomes offered Cog some fungus for healing and for food (we couldn’t really tell which was which, but the gnomes seemed to know). After a while and with help from the gnomes, everyone was fully healed. Maul was verging on paranoid about the fungus, putting a wet cloth over her nose & mouth. Mel chatted to the gnome children, and offered them some flatgoat, which they received with appropriate puzzlement. The children appeared to have limited options for fun, but don’t seem to mind.

On thinking about where we’d found ourselves, Cog considered that one of the problems with large dungeons tends to be the food chain: not a lot of nutrition naturally comes into caves. But this section of the caverns seems to produce even more than it consumes. It’s possible that it is even the ultimate source of much of this dungeon’s food.

The party figured out that the previous visitors had been Kristian and Floriane, and that we were in the presence of a very large, sentient fungus. The older gnomes seem to be halting of mind, slow to think, gaps in speech… and there just aren’t very many of them.

Cog learned that there are a few other communities of gnomes around… but none with the kinship to “the master” that our current hosts have. Their people had fled into the caves a long time ago; the caves were very dangerous, but eventually they had found the area where the master lives. Thereupon they had made a… friendship? Symbiosis? An arrangement, with the master. "We serve the master, and the master protects us. When we are old, and our time is come, we go out into the caves…” It seems the old gnome finds something fierce which could be used to defend their colony, and then… they get eaten. Thus allowing the fungus to take over the creature which has eaten them.

After we had all slept, the spokesgnome returned to us. She had spoken with the Master: “we believe we can assist you in finding the weasel, and would like a favour in return”. Al helped Mel armour up. Taking advantage of our group cognitive ability, Cog watched through Al’s eyes… which Mel could also see. She flexes. Cor!

The favour the gnomes ask in return: they would like assistance in dealing with the troglodytes. Because troglodytes seem immune to the overtaking effect of the fungus, the gnomes can’t neutralise them with a walking fungus-bomb like they do trolls. Normally they’re still ok, but once in a while there is a demonic leader born into the troglodytes, and there has been just such a leader born: Slaugh-grack? Which we’d heard the troglodytes chanting. And that seems to cause problems.

Despite how we would like to see ourselves, we are still too puny to take on the troglodytes as we are… but the gnomes can help with that, if we’ll follow. We do so, and the brightness grows… we find our personalities bleeding into each other. Eventually it gets overwhelming, but then dims as we continue. We’re not as close as we were – distinct personalities – it’s dark, but it feels “like we’re wearing someone else’s clothes”.

Al comes to her senses, opens her eyes, and can see three rock trolls opening their eyes. The other three members of the part can each see two rock trolls… and a slug. I’m a slug! But I’m a HUGE slug.

The spokesgnome returns: “I hope you find these bodies appropriate”.

So these are bodies of monsters which elderly gnomes have sacrificed themselves to be eaten by, in turn allowing the fungus to control and subdue the monsters… but they still don’t have the level of control they’d need to go attack the troglodytes, which is why they need us to pilot the bodies for this sortie. Next-level meat-puppeteering! Well, this will be interesting…

To catch a weasel
Or, a shortcut to mushrooms

After a brief night’s rest to recover, and giving Roderick a good opportunity to have a scent of the weasel pen, it was off down the tunnel whence the troglodytes had emerged. This part of the tunnels was much less finished than the dwarven areas – cracks, mushrooms and mould, and the floor was quite uneven. But with only one way to go, we headed down the tunnel.

As we headed further down, with little misadventure other than Maul tripping over and hurting herself surprisingly badly, we began to notice that there was a lot of fungi around, and also a rather surprising absence of any other wildlife. The tunnel became steeper and steeper. And at about this point, Mel fell over… and took Maul with her. Maul managed to stop after a bit of tumbling, but Mel kept right on rolling. Cog valiantly (if foolishly) attempted to save her, and was swept along (that may, of course, have been his plan all along). They were now falling very fast, and Roderick was barking enthusiastically. Al looked on in disgusted horror.

Maul followed carefully, and Al… came tumbling after. Ow. We could potentially have climbed back up, but it would be long and slow and difficult.

And so we found ourselves in a large cavern, the floor of which was covered with huge mushrooms – we had landed on the caps, and those had broken our fall. There were spots on the wall of the cavern that had artwork on them in red and white. It looked very old, and we guessed it to be troglodyte art. Cog noticed that it had been laid down over a very long time by many different people. Maul noticed vaguely recognisable religious symbology of demon worship.

We got the distinct feeling we were not alone in here. One direction of the cavern looked like the direction the troglodytes came from. Al cast a Detect Magic and found a general haze of magic, but with no specific location. Maul then noticed movement from what we thought to be the troglodyte end of the cavern, and we prepared for battle.

The initial fight went well, except for one much tougher magic-user dropping fireballs on us. He then ran away calling for help (presumably the troglodyte version of “Guards! Guards!”), and an overwhelming force returned (about 20 heavily armoured trogs), so we began to beat a hasty retreat across the mushroom caps towards the other end of the cavern. Cog cleverly suggested that we drop below the level of the caps, which we managed to do fairly stealthily and successfully. The troglodytes charged right over the top, and underneath we found… a surprised but friendly-looking gnome. The gnome – presumably recognising us as no friend of troglodytes – gestured us to a tunnel, that led to another cavern with even more and more different types of fungi. A mycologist would lose their shit in here (which would in turn, presumably, provide welcome nourishment to the fungi).

Now that we could stop for breath, we saw that the gnome had greyish skin, great big eyes, and short fuzz for hair. And there was also… a rock troll in the corner. It wasn’t doing anything, but it seemed to be watching us. It also had tendrils growing on it.

Well that’s rather interesting, isn’t it?

Extreme Merchanting

Unfortunately, it seems a page has been lost from Al’s journal, as she has no record of what happened since we returned from the Abbey.

We had agreed to escort a merchant, Kapi, to bring beer down the newly re-opened tunnels below the Abbey, for a wedding among the Oresniffer clan in the Near Deeps. Along the way we were interrupted by an encounter with the Goldmelters, and Mel had a bit of a wrestle with one of their number, after which the Goldmelters got a bit of the ale in exchange for quite a lot more than the Oresniffers were paying for that fraction of the ale. Still plenty left for even a dwarven wedding.

And so, we continued along through the Near Deeps towards the caverns of the Oresniffer clan. On the way, we also passed clan Trollbiter. They take their clan title seriously – always prepared to meet a troll (duly armed, flask of acid, etc). Their caverns had some pretty serious fortifications, although still not as serious as the monastery – clearly geared for defence against marauding trolls. And while they grow some of their own mushrooms, they clearly hadn’t been doing well while the monastery was under the control of the zombies, shutting off trade to the Tower. Kapi gave a promotional keg to the guards, and we continued on through Trollbiter territory without event.

As we were making our way uphill towards the Oresniffers, it seemed word had already gone ahead: some came out to meet us, and one particularly well-dressed one came bounding out, weeping for joy: “hooray, hooray, I can get married at last!” Trurach Oresniffer, who, it turns out, was engaged to a Trollbiter.

Part of the dowry, we learned, was to be the marriage weasels (Trurach’s father would select and give prize weasels to the Trollbiter clan). Weasels are valuable in the Near Deeps, as they are used to sniff out gremlins – after all, gremlins are a serious problem when you rely on heavy mining equipment. The dwarves even make little cold iron tooth- and claw- caps for the weasels.

The bridal chainmail was also a topic of animated discussion. And of course, Kapi could now sell his ale.

We took some advantage of the local wares – cold iron and adamantine items considerably discounted from what one would pay to buy from a smith or merchant on the surface.

We talked for a long time about weasels. Now that the ale had arrived, it was time for a pre-nuptual shindig (including the Showing of the Weasels) – to which we were all invited. We had some conversations about the state of the middle deeps, the abbey, etc. We learned that, prior to being taken over by the traitors, the Abbey would from time to time send out scouting parties, which would help deal with threats arising from below the near deeps. Since the abbey had been out of action, that hadn’t been happening at all, which caused a sense of unease among the dwarves here.

While on our way to the shindig, there was a sudden commotion. Al heard something that sounded like draconic, although it was difficult to understand… “for slougrach”? And then, we saw four… things charging towards us – bipedal, human sized, lizard-ish looking things with stone grey skin. And boy, did they smell BAD. Troglodytes. And they were kicking a dwarven head before them.

Three of them were waving big axe-like weapons (a large bone attached to a large skull with shards of glass in it). The other one had a spiky glove. One charged at Maul. The one with the spiky glove cast a sound burst at us. Another one charged at Mel and hit her. Another one ran forward, at which point Al dropped a fireball on them all – weak, but they were all somewhat singed. We took no more hits from the trogs for a while (they really haven’t done a decent one since Wild Thing), their spellcaster attempted to silence Al but failed, and she responded with another fireball, slightly better… but all were still on their feet. There followed several more attacks, a flaming sphere, and a crit from Mel caused the first charger to explode. Another flaming sphere, and then a spectacular tumble from a vomiting Cog (they really do smell terrible) put him in place to deliver the spellcaster a fatal stab to the jaxie.

A few more hits were exchanged, and Al used the flaming spheres to chase the remaining trogs. Maul finished one off, and Mel finished the other one off, after collecting a couple of broken-off teeth from trog bites.

Maul wommed out some positive energy, and we searched the bodies. All they had were weapons and some thoroughly disgusting armour, in addition to a handful of jewels.

Concerned as to what we might find, Cog took a stealthy look ahead. He could see a group of dwarves finishing off the last of a bunch of troglodytes, but a lot of bodies of all sorts lying around. Maul ran ahead to help heal the wounded. The rest of us followed after picking up the troglodyte axes.

It seems a whole hoard of troglodytes had broken through one of the lower gates, but the Trollbiters had rallied and fought them back down. Unfortunately, the weasel (the weasel!) had escaped, and disappeared down through the gate that the troglodytes had come out of. At least weasels are weaselly recognised (unlike stoats, which are stoatally different)… but first, we’d have to find it.

Roderick can track the weasel by its scent (just)… so, down we go!

The Battle of Walker's Abbey - Postscript
Things we're allowed to say outside the Abbey

Previous logs – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Mel got a new shield, which made her very, very happy. I do like to see her happy. It brings the lights out in her eyes.

The Dwarves were grateful to us for the big help, but rather awkward and embarrassed that a bunch of outsiders had to help. Finally the Abbot asked us to submit to a geas, to not reveal to anyone outside the party either what happened, or the security of the abbey. He then asked me (yay) to write an account of the Battle for their own archives, but not to be spread ouside. For this, he paid me 100GP, which also gives me the qualifications to apply for the Pathfinder Chronicler qualification, which will be pretty sweet.

Interestingly, as well as gaining an excellent reputation with the Dwarves, they also gave us a lot of the traitors’ stuff as, to them, it’s tainted. Niiiiice.

Of the traitorous Dwarves, Renda and Dern died in the battle. Torva, however, was nowhere to be seen… He may have gone off exploring, and be deeper down.

Maul realised that the Evil Dwarves are now Zon Kuthon’s followers. This is useful in one respect – Mistress Ann asked us to keep an eye out for what’s happening up here, but we can’t let her know the details, thanks to the geas. However, we can at least say “We’ve had word of ZK activity in the mountains!”

From the dwarves we received – Adamantine Great Axe, set of full plate +1, +1 spiked chain, +1 breastplate, Headband of inspired wisdom +2. MW Metal shield. They also gave us 5000gp in gold, gems, IOUs and general thankfulness. Al made a “WHOOP” sound, and dashed off to buy a Headband of Alluring Charisma she’d had her eye on in one of the shops. I’ve got to say it really does make her look lovely!

And now, a rest. Damn it, I think we deserve it by now!

The Battle of Walker's Abbey - Part 3
You should see what the parties are like down here.

Continued from here

We headed through the corridor past the Ballista, managing to avoid getting hit by the bugger. They tried – oh they tried – but we were just too good for them. (Actually, if that was their accuracy, they’ve got great careers ahead of them as Stormtroopers. But I digress.) (OK, they might have hit us a little.) (Maybe)

The barred door near the prison was open, and the one after seemed to be guarded. Or at least that’s what we surmised when Mel opened it and got hit right in the face. She looked drained, and staggered a bit, but she hit back damned hard!

Then a guy behind with a glaive tried to whack Mel, but failed. Maul couldn’t get through so she cast a Magic Circle against evil, touching Al to centre it. (I would have expected that to cause a few problems for Al, but maybe she’s not quite as bad as she pretends to be. Tough, but not evil.) The spell covered the area right up to Mel, who still got hit hard again. I tried to squeeze through past Denerik, and manage to get through and to the other side of the wight, but that left me rather vulnerable. Luckily the three other dudes couldn’t hit the side of a barn door. The taunting Squirrel Dance worked well, but the ugliest dude still hit Mel. There were cries of “MEL GET BACK!” as we faced the undead ugly.

Al was unimpressed, and went straight for the Disrupt Undead, giving the wight a hard time. And I stepped behind and stuck a dagger in its ugly hide – really, really really hard. I really need to start working out. Lifting tiny weights. Footstool presses. Something like that. Didn’t do much damage, but every little bit helps.

Then Mel got back out of the way, and Denerik went for the wight with her own pick, proving that the right weapon at the right time will do the job.

Maul decided that the energy of Nimbus needed to be laid upon Mel, and cured her bigtime. I love our team.

The guy with the glaive poked at me, but missed, so Al threw acid at him and I stepped up and stabbed him, keeping him on his toes. Or separated from them. Hey, I can’t reach that high, so I go for the easiest target, ok? Behind me, Mel started moving up to the prison bars, tucking Roderick away and hefting the large and ugly axe. At this point, Denerik yelled “YAH THE DWARVES” and charged in, hitting the glaive dude as well.

Glaive Dude dropped the glaive and pulled a mace, but still missed me, while of the two at the back, one was being held by prisoners. Very helpful – and I think the prisoners were taking the chance to rip bits out of him. The other shot into said prisoners and hit one, which Al took as an insult and shot over my head, (although it didn’t hit).

I tumbled past the dude with the glaive, and took advantage of the fact that one other dude was held fast by the prisoners to stab him with my vicious stabby attack. He looked a lot sicker, and started bleeding, but didn’t drop like I hoped he would. I need to take lessons in vicious from Al.

Mel started on the door with the prisoners, and Denerik took advantage of my distracting presence behind Glaivy Dude to hit him from the front, doing a solid whack. Maul started firing away, distracting them a little while other things were happening. The other dude shot one of the prisoners holding his buddy, dropping one, but the buddy dropped down as well. I stabbed Glaivy guy in the back, not doing a lot of damage, but keeping him busy with the bleeding. Mel whacked at the lock again, a nice hit, and reckoned one more would do it. And Denerik showed that one more DID do it, and dropped Glaivy Guy with a hard whack. I could almost fall in love with her for that, were my heart not given to Mel.

Maul ran up to the prison, trying to see what state the dropped state of the prisoner dwarf was, and calling for the prisoners to move him up to the bars, while Maul called to Nimbus with the depth of her soul, asking for mercy and relief from death for this poor benighted prisoner. Either that or she used a “Summon Electrical Energy” and with three jolts he was back.

I searched the undead dude, but no keys. Then Al found them in Glaivy guy’s pockets. And there was cheering and telling and in one corner, Denerik and Rorick hugged as hard as they could.

Enough of the cute stuff. I whistled so that I had everyone’s attention, then emptied the sack of maces I’d brought all that way. The prisoners leapt upon the weapons with an eagerness I’ve only seen before by a bunch of gnomes at a fishing rod sale. Then we went back to the gatehouse, where the block was about 4 1/2 inches off the ground. Denerik took the speaking tube, and told her fellow dwarves that we’d freed the prisoners, and that there is a guard room full of dudes and probably a dead good guy.

I calculated it would be 18 minutes until the door was high enough to allow dwarves to crawl under, and another 20 to get it to 4 feet, to allow them to run under. Then 10 minutes for the dwarves to loot the bodies and equip themselves. The upstairs had become really deformed, and was losing strength quickly – we didn’t really have 18 minutes, let alone 38. I considered the options. Alchemists Fire? Ochre Jelly on a grump of bunchy dwarves. The others pointed out my error, but hey, it works. We kept up our spirits with choruses of “Do you hear the dwarves sing? Gold, gold gold gold!” “I hear knocking but you can’t come in.” and other classic tunes.

I took a moment to thank Rorick for his help, to which he replied “Thanks for coming. Not bad for a non-dwarf.” I was rather chuffed and terribly pleased. Glad I don’t have to show how easily I cry…

We made a barricade in front of the door, and I set myself at the side of it, on the top, ready with an Alchemists’ Pretty Burny Fiery thing. Al set up her crossbow with the bolts coated with spider venom, and crawled on top of the other winch. We could hear yelling from the other side, which Al worked out was some sort of opening spell. Filthy Bastards.

Crossbow bolts started flying, but bounced off the tower shields as the zombie dwarves broke through the door and started at the barricade. Mel went for them with the glaive, but her lack of expertise in the weapon showed. The joy of a bless hit us, along with “The filth of your coming will be washed away with the coming storm!” and the lovely feeling of a positive energy surge, even if it wasn’t aimed at us. I do love our team! From the groans below us, it was doing its job on the bastards. A Thud-squish-YAY elicited a cheer from me, and I dropped my Alchemist’s fire. The “Woof” and the total stink told me I’d hit something that had been dead a loooong time – and was now toasty. Then a squeak from one of those on our side meant there was a bit of a splash – whoops – sorry.

There were whizzes and thuds from various sides, which I caught a sight of. I could hear spellcasting going on, which sent a chill down my spine, and I could just make out some seriously strange moves by the guys with shields. I made use of my amply augmented curves by sending another Holy Water boob down. The sizzling THUMP meant I’d done well! Alas, one of our rogues copped a hit from a zombie, but our side was doing fairly well, for all that some of those glaives were waving around in a really random manner. Maul threw some sort of “You can’t see me” on the damaged people, while I threw down another Holy Water – I thought it had missed, but something got splashed as it groaned most piteously, and seriously, our guys wouldn’t mind getting a bit damp in battle. Arrows flew, and glaives and picks waved, Burla went down and had to be revived quickly, and a voice on the wrong side of everything started chanting. Then Al, who had been waiting for exactly that, fired – and while it wasn’t a great hit, it was enough to make the spellcasting stop with what I think is a very wrong word in Dwarvish. I filed the word away for use later, and beamed at Al who was looking nicely pleased with herself.

Then I realised I could just make out a big dwarf coming up from the back, and the dwarves started yelling “It’s Renda!” “Elder Renda!” I could see something large swinging around him, as Maul whacked back. I went to do a last AF, but it slipped from my fingers and splashed somewhere useless. Mel, however, swung hard and something went “Splorch” and we were pretty sure it wasn’t one of us. A moment later, though, from the other side, Maul went “OW”.

“Dwarves’ Wights Activists?”

Finally, though, Maul took out the Wight! I realised I couldn’t see well enough to tell friend from foe, so I moved back so I could see the two guardroom doors, while the others fought on in the gloom.

There were cries of “Renda! Surrender!” Maul yelled “You bastards” or something in Orcish – I think it means the same thing.

I could see dwarves beside the other two doors, and things looked under control, but I readied the bow anyway. Every now and then I could see the flash of a sword or hear a grunt from one side or another, and on a couple of occasions a “clang” of a chain.

Then a “Whizz” “Whack” “Urgh”

Al had used her abilities and steadied herself and hit the guy.

“Al – did you just save the paladin? That’s almost a good action!”

“I was just aiming to hurt this guy as much as possible.”

“That’s the Al we love”

There were more grunts and hits, and the occasional excited barking. Roderick really is magnificent when he hits his stride. More scuffling, a cry of “Don’t you do that to her, you bastard!" and then there was a very satisifying “Squelch” noise. Crossbow bolts were also flying around, and that chain was clanking in a rather nasty way. And there was an ARF and a THUNK and a cry of YES! from Mel as apparently she took down the nasty guy. She took his arm off. All the usual puns ensued. And then a similar scream from Maul of “The only one allowed to hit on dwarves is ME!” followed by a spray of guts around and Renda’s head apparently went rolling down the corridor.

By now the gate was 18 inches up.

And the guy with the crossbow ran back, and the Captain yelled “resecure the barricade!”

Suddenly, we heard a surprisingly high-pitched cheer from the front gate, and through the periscope, Maul could see that the dwarves outside had miniaturised themselves and were running underneath the door.

About a hundred dwarves poured in, and took out the rest of the abbey.

Alas, when they opened the door to the guard room, it was obvious that the Sergeant didn’t make it.

“Shame we don’t have a bard to sing his story.”

“But we do have a bucket to take his remains up top to be resurrected.”

We all traded information. The prisoners that escaped out the back had made it! The inside dudes told us that a few months back, Elder Jontar and a couple of acolytes came back from the deeps with an old journal of Venerik’s. Elder Torva spent quite a while studying it.

Then, after a while, Torva, Renda and Dern started acting … oddly. They may have been recruiting, especially from among the acolytes. There was an “Accident” – the Abbot, the deputy and guard, and elder Granda too, found themselves under a block that came down rather too fast. Renda then took charge, and gave an order to “seal the abbey so that no-one hears about the losses before we can strengthen the defences”. Anyone who protested were imprisoned.

Then Elder Aberast Leatherhands was murdered. Elder Ganrak Granitecarver was framed for it, and taken out of the picture.

What followed was a nightmare of Reanimate Dead, evil practises, and things detailed in Torva’s journal. Let us leave that forMaster Abbot to deal with.

The Axe
In which Maul spends 500gp on a purely cosmetic upgrade

The old dwarf stirs as he hears unfamiliar footsteps approach. Heavier than he expects, with the rustle and odors of overland leathers. Word has come to him about the strangers in town; misfits who, by luck or skill, opened the gates to Walker’s Abbey and drove out whatever filth had claimed it. He knows it is one of the strangers in front of him now, one of the larger two. She’s hidden the stench of orc well, but it still lingers about her.

“Hrmph.” The dwarf gets to his feet. “State yer business.”

“Uh, Greetings” the orc stammers, and the dwarf’s breath catches. Her voice is so fresh, she cannot be more than a child. The dwarf wonders what her parents must think about her escapades, but holds his tongue. She has her reasons for being out here, whatever they may be. “I was told you were the best engraver in the Granite Tower, and I- oh goodness.” The dwarf knows she’s seen his eyes.

Like all overlanders, her theatrics wear thin quickly. He cuts her attempts at sympathy short. “Tell me the job.” The orc pulls something from her pack, unsheathes a span of metal. There is something odd about the blade.

The orc sets it down in front of the dwarf. He runs his hands over it. It is an axe, and by the sound of its hums, Adamantine. There is something more to it, though. “Where did you get this.”

“From the Abbey,” the child says. “It’s been used for some horrible things, yes. I want to give it a good legacy again.” The dwarf harrumphs.

The child continues “I was hoping you could engrave this onto it, but, uh… I’m sorry.” She fumbles at her neck while she says this. “You wouldn’t know the symbol of Nimbus, would you?”

“Don’t know the god at all,” says the dwarf, “but that doesn’t matter. You can pay?”

Jingling. Gold, definitely. Whatever this child has been doing, it has been profitable.

“Alright. Wait here.” The dwarf retreats into his chambers, feeling for his most prized chest. Inside are vials and beakers of fluids he’s known all his life. Their odors call to him, and he picks out a small container that calls at once of peat-water and spring. Along with another pot, he returns to the child. She has not moved an inch. Impressive.

“First things first, you can’t engrave Adamantine. You’d just ruin all your tools. You’ll have to etch, which might wear thin over time. Does that bother you, girl?”

The child takes her time responding. “It’ll hold the etch longer though, won’t it? Since it’s adamantine and all… yes?” The dwarf nods. “Yes, that will do. Do you, uh…” She stretches out her hand to the dwarf, the little symbol singing its weak silver tune at him.

He brushes it aside. “We don’t need that. Just give me the axe.” He takes it when it is offered, and rubs a clay-like muck from his pot onto its surface. “A stand, I need a stand. Hold this” He returns the axe to the child, and retreats to his chambers again.

On his return, he sets up a rudimentary cross of poles. Like a tiny rotisserie, the axe is hung between them with its mucked blade faced downward. “Come here. Put your hands on the flat.” The orc does so. “Tell me about your god.”

The child is pensive. “She looks like a young woman, and she’s holding a clay pot. It’s full of the rivers, and she’s pouring-”

“No no no, stop that. You’re paying me too much for that.” The dwarf kneels down next to the other flat, his face opposing the orc girl. “Tell me about your god. Tell me what she means to you.”

“Oh! Well… goodness. Nimbus…” The orc is taking too long. “She means a lot of things.”

“Then tell me one thing. And another.” The dwarf grunts as he feels the muck shift under his fingers. “Close your eyes”

“Yes. She… Nimbus is happiness, when I’m laughing with my friends. She’s safety. Not the safety of armor, but a warm embrace from my M. That moment when I know I’m doing the right thing, the good thing. I know it’s her. She is a river. She is every river. I’ve felt her wash over me so many times and I… she is help. I couldn’t help anyone until I knew her, and now I’ve… she’s forgiveness. I’ve lost too many to evil. I cannot save everyone. Nimbus forgives me when I fail.”

The dwarf knows the orc has noticed the shifting muck. She hasn’t said a word about it. The dwarf is starting to wonder about the girl, but she continues. “And when we’re fighting, and Mel swings her sword with such might… that’s Nimbus, guiding Roderick in the haze. And she’s guiding little Cog too, he knows where the rivers of man run because of her. Even Al, I can sense a little of Nimbus in her too. Maybe that’s because of me. Am I making a difference?” Mel. Roderick. Cog. Al… the other newcomers. So those are their names. “And when they’re scared and I don’t know if I can save them, I can feel her in me. My body is her temple, my blood is her river. And I know that while I’m still bleeding I am still-”

“That’s enough, girl.” She quietens, and begins to move her hand away. "Not so fast. There’s one thing left. He produces the vial. “It will sting a little, but if you keep your hands where they are, it will look better.” She grunts, what must be orcish for yes.

The dwarf uncorks the vial, and pours the substance within over the suspended axe. It runs down the blade, sinking into the grooves that have formed between the muck. It does not drip down, but wraps around the edge of the blade. The dwarf hears a gasp and the gritting of orcish teeth, but the girl says nothing. The air is filled with the fumes of acid and burning adamantine. Even the dwarf coughs a little.

“You can let go now.” The girl does, and the muck dries and falls from the blade as if on command. The dwarf hears a gasp, followed by another display of overland theatrics, this time in the form of excitement. The dwarf shushes her, takes his gold and gestures her out the door with all the dwarvish politeness he can muster. The child’s squeals of joy take a long time to fade.

The party is invited to look upon Maul’s axe anew. Denarik is also invited, but she declines. Apparently she’s seen enough of that damned axe already.

Comparing it to Maul’s old silver symbol, the axe’s insignia is the same but completely different. The old symbol might as well have been any young woman pouring water out of a jug. The woman in the axe is something else entirely. A creature both beautiful and terrifying, she has Mel’s might and Al’s awe in her face. Even something of Cog’s slyness has slipped into her lips. From her scalp the clouds grow, and in the waters that flow from her vessel Maul can see the waves of Northport, the rapids at Bridgeford and the trickle of an underground stream. There is blood in those waters too, Maul can tell, and she knows this axe is not going to deny that part of its heritage any time soon. But when she holds this axe, Maul knows for certain that Nimbus is with her.

A Story About Dragons

This letter is addressed to Keeper Brennit, elder of the wayhouse of Northport

Dearest Keeper. I come to you with an ask for guidance. Know that I am still not as learned in the ways of Nimbus as I can be; I have learned many things from these friends and travelers I am with, and I have saved some lives from death, but I have still seen more death in my watch since my early failures.

Though I feel in my heart that I am still as true to Nimbus as I can be, I have seen men and women and others of other faiths act badly and evilly in what they think is holy to them. Without another follower of Nimbus to confide in on my journey, I am worried that I may be strayed from this path without ever knowing it.

To better tell my fears, I wish that I could tell you of what has happened during my travel to the Dwarf lands of the Granite Tower, but I cannot. It is best for the safety of those we fought for, and I may also be magically compelled not to.

So instead, let me tell you a story which is not true and never happened at all.

Once upon a time there was a castle that was very hard to get to and it was also a temple. It was in the sky, and passing it was the only way to reach a sacred cloud that a young traveler of Nimbus needed to visit. To get there, she went to a city full of dragons, where the only gate into the sky existed.

The traveler and her brave friends discovered that the sky castle, which was once full of good dragons who were searching for the dragon that had founded their sacred order, was now in the hands of evil dragons who had killed a lot of the good dragons and turned them into wights (who were also dragons). When the traveler and her friends sneaked through the gate, they were attacked by some of these dragons and almost did not escape.

The good dragons in the city did not know how to retake their sky castle because they had built it to be really well defended from any other dragon attacks. But one very clever and beautiful dragon who was now friends with the travelers knew of a secret second gate which the city dragons had forgotten about. So the travelers, with the help of the beautiful dragon and some other friends of hers (and one of them will never be forgotten for his sacrifice) sneaked into the temple and opened the defenses from the inside so that the other good dragons could come in and retake the place.

But while the traveler of Nimbus was on the inside of the castle, waiting for the defenses to be raised (which took a long time) she fought with many living dragons who had once called themselves good. They had turned to evil, but there was no sign of mind control or madness in their eyes. Whatever dragon god now fueled their power, they followed it openly and willingly.

After the fighting ended, the travelers and good dragons discovered why the other dragons were now evil. It was because they had found a letter from their lost dragon saint, which claimed that she had turned to evil herself while in the darkness of the sacred cloud. Because she had turned, they thought they had to turn, even though it went against everything those dragon clerics had worked for all of their dragon lives.

I do not know if this story has a moral. I have been thinking about it for some time. I am a follower of Nimbus, and to me that will always mean I must heal the sick and give mercy when I must kill, but I do not know if I will meet some follower of Nimbus one day who will not agree with me at all. If they tell me I must change my ways to make Nimbus happy, will I follow them blindly? I do not think so, but I still wonder. When next I am in Northport, I would like to make time to discuss these qualms with you in person. I feel as if the dragons had not been so secretive about their discoveries, a lot of misery could have been avoided.

Wishing you all the best
Acolyte Mauldrit
In the name of Nimbus

The Battle of Walker's Abbey - Part 2
Being the continuation of the tale of a battle hard fought and vicious.

Continued from here

Keeping out the Nasties.

We closed and barred the doors, and dropped any portculli that were still up. Our next job – raise block A. I worked out that raising the block the entire 10 feet requires 10 Dwarves 100 minutes, so each foot requires either 1 Dwarf for 100 minutes, or 2 Dwarves for 50 minutes, etc. We figured that they would only need the block open 4 feet, but that was still going to take 400 Dwarf-minutes – with all 8 remaining big people on the job, it would still take a good 50 minutes to raise the block enough to let the main party in. Al checked through the periscopes, and could just make out a large group of Dwarves outside the main gate.

And I just looked at my crossbow.

My Masterwork Crossbow.

More like a Manglework Light Crossbow.

There were still ten of our original eleven left. Denerik was badly injured, and Sister Eddarock had had a level drained by one of the wights. Bastards.

And then, of course, we’ve lost our Sergeant.

I sniffed a little, but then bent my abilities to making sure that B door would not close again without some serious engineering work.

Beside the murder holes for both doors A and B were a number of bottles marked “Acid”, “Fire” (presumably Alchemists’ Fire) and “Special”. I had no idea what “Special” was, and I was thinking of just opening the top a little and sniffing, but my musings were (luckily) interrupted by a voice coming through the Speaking Tube.

“Upper Gatehouse. What’s happening up there?”

We debated what to answer but were interrupted by the Paladin’s “Surrender, traitors.”

Right. So subtlety is out, then. I’d forgotten that little fact about paladins.

We moved the barrels to the murder holes, and got ready to pour when necessary, and then I checked the Door A Mechanism for any nasty traps. I didn’t find any, so, crossing my fingers, I waved the big people on to start winching it up.

Suddenly there was a distant, heavy WHAM that shook the floor. They must have dropped door C. We heard the sound of boots coming towards the temporary stores – we had dropped the portcullis, but it was only going to hold them back for so long.

Looking through periscope, Al spotted a bundle of ugly Dwarves. Just then I heard the door at the back of the balcony area open! Someone looked out, squeaked, and shut it again. I rushed over and jammed the locks, and as it’s the storeroom, they had no other way out of there. I checked that the other doors were well and truly blocked and locked, and hurried back to Al.


Al thought to open the portcullis, let them rush through, then drop it behind them. But they had something special down there , and were likely to get through the Portcullis before we could arrange it. So we started the defence. The clerics cast a Consecrate to screw with the creepy ones, and Al started up a FBNS then threw a Disrupt Undead at a zombie and took it down. Not to mention the acid and Alchemists’ Fire we poured through. But, scarily enough, what looked like the Boss just walked up through the fire, and hacked at the portcullis, slicing through one bar as if it were butter!

I grabbed a tanglefoot bag and sent it through on top of him, as Al sent a Ray of Enfeeblement his way. He still managed to dodge the FBNS, but was having trouble moving through enough to hit the door again. Al did her little adjustment for the FBNS and gave us a lovely roasting Dwarf scent through the whole gatehouse.

So we tried the one marked “Special”. It was an ooze! It dropped into the middle of the fight, and went for their faces! The Chief Dude moved across the door away from the Oozy thing, but then the stupid Oozy Thing crawled on top of FBNS, and started getting crisped. Boss dude yelled “Blunt Objects”, so Al moved the FBNS onto the boss, putting the crispyness where it belonged. Meanwhile, the Jelly charged around the wights and did its duty.

The winching crept on apace. I worked out later that, being down to 6 winchers, they would have lifted the block a whole quarter inch by now.

Al and I watched in frustration as the Boss swigged a potion, and the wights pounded on the jelly. I grabbed another bottle marked “Special” and started towards the Murder Holes. Al’s toasty Sphere toasted the boss some more, but the first jelly got whopped into gel. The barrel with the next one was rather heavy, and it took me a while to move it.



Al let loose a rat swarm, which went for the undeadypoos, but frustratingly, the Boss dude moved away from the portcullis, swigging another potion. Al moved the FBNS to a nearby living dude. And all the while, our larger team mates winched away.

Alas, now the guys downstairs started to shoot back at us through the Murder Holes, and one got Al, (bastard), while another lobbed some of their own Alchemists’ Fire into the swarm.

“Does that make these guys the Embalmy Army?”

Al dropped more acid down on the guys shooting her, which hit her swarm as well, but got the important Nasties nice and proper.

Then the Big guy came charging forward again, whacking at the door with his rather big axe Despite the bars’ strength, he managed to chop through a couple more bars. Al and I made use of another FBNS, and another “Special” barrel, while the people winching sang silly songs to help their stamina (and our morale).


But despite Al’s and my efforts, the bastards got through the portcullis, and started their rush into the Loading Room. We left the 4 Dwarves on winching, while Mel and Maul stepped out so they can help. Luckily the hole in the bars would only allow one person to come through at once. Mel, Maul and I hurried to the balcony to get people as they came through, while Al moved the FBNS back onto Boss Dude, then added the pleasure of a Magic Missile or two.

And dammit if the boss didn’t swig another potion. Al threw another Disrupt Undead, but this one didn’t do so well – just managed to make the nose fall off another zombie.

And the block was a whole half-inch up.

We threw a third jelly down, but this one must have been past its use-by date – it just wibbled a bit while the Dwarves pounded it into the floor. I used another tanglefoot bag, and the zombie that walked into that one pulled itself to pieces trying to free itself. Yes! Yet some of Mel’s shots on the bastards seem to be shrugged off. And as the next bunch tried to come through, Al dropped some more acid on them.

“If I could put Ooze in a bottle…”

Al grumbled about not being able to target the big dude, and instead dropped some Alchemists’ Fire on the undeads under murder holes, causing quite some damage. By now, though, the rogues were almost up to the walkway. I readied my nice bow. Then Maul threw a spear – badly – and it clanged off Mel’s armour.



Mel fired at the Zombie, but it had no effect. Same with my bow – dammit. At last, I remembered the holy water and tanglefoots. (Tanglefeet?)

Al abandoned the Murder Holes, and ran up to join us, while Mel fired into the live Dwarves, aiming for one with a crossbow. Maul’s lightning finally crashed down, into a guy with a shield. And the scouts with us took out the crossbow dude. Meanwhile a bunch had made it upstairs, but I realised the front one was undead so I gave it what for with the holy water. It was a nice hit – who would have thought water would make things sizzle. Al used “disrupt undead” again, while I got the bow ready to get the alive guy.

Mel aimed at the zombie coming up the stairs, causes some damage on the dude. Maul was holding something back, and crackling with energy. The zombie that got to the top of the stairs charged Maul but missed, and she unleashed the lightning on the shielded dude, who staggered and fell into a mushroom cart down below. The guy under the walkway dropped his bow into the muck, where it sank beneath a pile of sweaty mushrooms. Al disrupted another wight, which looked unhappy, and I shot a bloke who looked nasty. Mel got angry at the wight, dropped her bow and charged the blighter, blasting it into pieces. Maul’s axe flew, slicing and dicing and splitting the zombie, and it flew off the balcony in several pieces.

Our own scouts (actually rogues) went for the live guy under the walkway, and took him down. One wight managed to climb the stairs, so Mel took a swing – but missed. Al’s “Disrupt Undead” flew about, not always hitting, as neither did my next arrow. But I was getting better. And as for “better”, you should have seen Roderick whacking the wight, which also copped a shot of lightning from Al, and its eyes lit up with an unholy glowing fire. From the yell of anguish, one of the fighters below also got a shock. The wight attempts to bullrush Mel, who whacked but missed. But the bullrush failed.

Al threw a Magic Missile salvo at the boss, while I fired at him (a nice solid hit, by the thud). Poor Mel had a wight in her face and swung Roddie, as Maul threw another lightning on the staircase. The buzzing and the charred smell were magnificent. And the rogues went right for the boss, but missed him.

The wight ran past Mel to get at Maul – but by the time it got there, only its hand hit her. The next three came out – two live Dwarves went for Maul, but the wight tried Mel (and missed, thank goodness. Those Level Drains are vicious!) Al threw another Magic Missile at the dude behind the shield, and I realised we had left the murder holes un-watched, so I rushed back to double check. And behind me there was an almighty crash of thunder as the last of Maul’s lightning hit hard.

There were flurries of movement at the stairs, the wight went for Mel again, but she managed a whack at the Boss Dude, who tried back with a Sunder on Mel’s shield. His shiny shiny axe did really nasty damage on Mel’s shield – it’s a special sort of axe which we really should give to Maul instead of letting this bastard use it. But Mel’s shield was broken, dammit.

Al sent another Magic Missile onto the boss, finally taking him out. (I have no idea why they shouted “Take that, Peter Dutton”, as they did, but.). I double- checked in the periscope, in case there might be reinforcements, but saw nothing but dead bodies. Our the rogues fired madly into the dudes. Mel whacked at the guys coming up, but there was a flurry of blows and nothing more. One went for Maul with a pick, and the look of hatred for Maul’s Oricsh good looks. The glaive missed her though. Al Magic Missile’d back onto the one with the shield trying for Maul, and I ducked forward and lobbed an Alchemists’ Fire over the shield guy’s head onto the one with the glaive. Mel flailed at the wight, and almost removes an arm, but it still kept on.

Maul swung.

Her axe flew from her hands and hit Burla, hard as anything, while the axe fell down to the mushrooms below. Eltu swung at shield guy with her war axe, and Denerik with her axe, and he dropped. The guy with the glaive whacked at Maul and hurt her, while the three going for Mel tried hard, with one dude waving his mace around double-handed and hitting her. Then the guy behind with a shield though copped a whack from Roddie and staggered severely.

Brother Oddrack started the heals, and Denerik stepped up to help Maul and handed her a pick. The glaive guy stepped back and took another swing at Maul, hitting rather hard. The wight moved up behind it, and Al disrupted it into bones and rotting flesh.

Maul: Down-wight nasty.

Mel’s combat continued, and I tried to fire at the guy with the glaive, but missed. Maul’s efforts were rebuffed by the glaive guy (who had full plate) and Denerik went for the dude with the glaive going after Mel, and downed him! The Rogues kept trying for shield guy. The two left – the glaive guy near Maul and the shield guy near Mel – kept waving their stuff. Then Al Magic Missile’d the guy with the shield, (which is of course guaranteed to avoid said shield), and he clutched his face, screamed and fell into the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, my little bow sproinged and missed again.

And Mel ran around the back of the guy with the glaive, allowing that Mel and Maul could now flank him and hit hard.

Al shot acid at the guy, but missed, and Mel and Roderick took one last whack, double-handed, but he ducked, which allowed Maul to swing the pick up and into his side. There was much yelling of encouragement, despite the dude’s last whack on Maul (which did hit her hard on the helm and draw blood). Al’s acid drbbled over the mushrooms, Mel’s sword swung over the top, and Maul got a last hit and backed off (the guy didn’t hit her). He then went for Mel, missed, there was a flurry of arrows and blows, lots more misses, (because everyone was getting tired), and people started making silly mistakes.

One of our rogues shot at the last guy but hit Mel instead (luckily it pinged off her armour). Then, in a manoeuvre worthy of a well-choreographed dancing troupe, Denerik moved back and Maul handed her back the pick. More flurries of blows. Maul threw a stormburst at him, dusrupting his concentration, and Denerik headed in. Al called upon the glories of the gods of her heart, fired her crossbow, and hit him well and proper.

And I realised that we might be able to see the good guys coming in, so I headed to the periscope out the front. There they were – Dwarves we recognised, hefting swords and axes and hammers, and watching as the door got up to 2 inches high.

Then Mel finally connected with Roderick, and the guy dropped.

At. Fucking. Last.

Maul and I headed to the chopped portcullis, and cast an Invisible on me so I could go scouting. The others checked the bodies. There was Dwarf-shaped full plate magical armour which we made sure Darria put on. The Boss Dude turned out to be Elder Dern, one of the senior people of the abbey. And his Axe was shiny but not magic.

I snuck to the portcullis near lower barracks, but found it was locked, so I headed back. There were noises like huge hammers on the guardroom doors as if the bad Dwarves had brought up bigger tools. But we had prisoners to release.

The Battle of Walker's Abbey - Part 1
Being a true and honest rendering of the actions of a party of brave allies who sacrificed much in the Relief of the Abbey

Here shall I, Cogglefree Bridgewomble, Halfling, relate the tale of the Battle of Walker’s Abbey, as I myself saw the action, and was related to me by the others involved.

Those others including:

Of our brave and noble party:

Melisande Mel the Mighty, warrior of great might.

Almaz, mighty sorceress, wielder of scary magicks

Mauldrit, Beloved of Nimbus, She of the Mighty Blows

Our Dwarvish companions on this fight:

Denerik, sister to one of the prisoners, brave fighter and boon companion,

Captain Dorria, Paladin, Leader, wise and fierce fighter

Sergeant Korsta, Warrior, whose bravery and sacrifice shall ever be remembered.

Brother Odrack and Sister Eddarockk, scholars of Torag, who channel his mighty energy towards victory!

And Burla and Eltu, fighters in the name of the Dwarves, who I will consider to be my friends forever.

  • Introduction*

We had a plan – to use an Invisibility Sphere to get into the carts in the mushroom field, and get delivered right to the storeroom below the controls for the front gate. There, we should hold off the enemy while we raised the front 87-D, so that the main force could come in and retake the Abbey.

We calculated that our part of the fight would take two hours, viz:

  1. Get into the carts towards the end of the shift, waiting approximately an hour for the filling of the carts themselves. (Note to self – pack a change of clothing for afterwards. That mushroom stuff STINKS!)
  2. Be wheeled to the back entrance where door D would need to be raised. The Dwarves would be forced to push the carts under as soon as the block was up about 4 feet, so that would be 40 minutes after arriving.
  3. Wait while the other shift go out and door D is lowered behind us – about 20 more minutes.
  4. Be wheeled to door C and wait while it, too, is raised – about 40 more minutes
  5. Wheeled into loading room, wait 5 minutes, then leap out and attack..
  6. Head into the upper gatehouse and take it. Break the mechanism for door B so that it is jammed open, drop the portcullises, start opening door A. Hope to hold the gatehouse long enough for the Dwarves to get into it.

We made sure that the spells we had, Disrupt Undead, Invisibility and Silence, were ready to go, and Mel promised to gag Roderick. I also made sure I had my Tanglefoot, my Alchemists Fire, and a pile of Holy Water. With so many bags, I waddled like a pregnant woman! We were hoping to co-opt some of the prisoners into helping us with the winches, guarding the doors, etc, and there would be murder holes to keep the local bastards under control.

And as a final help, I filled the Handy Haversack with as many maces as it would hold, to hand out to the prisoners once we could get to them.

(We kept counting the prisoner rescue team as 10, but in reality it was 11, once we included Denerik. 4 of us, her, and 6 on the highly-trained Dwarvish Team.)

There would also be a team of Dwarvish mine specialists who would shore up the dodgy parts of the mine while we went ahead, and a rescue team for the second shift of prisoners, who could be rescued 2 hours after they started their shift (to give us enough time to get in safely, but before the alarm was raised). That way, even if the mission was not a success, at least half the prisoners would have been rescued.

We also arranged that once we had taken the Gatehouse and were starting to raise door A, Al would send some dancing lights down the front murder hole to signal that it was really us and it would be safe for the main party to attack.

That was nearly everything. There just remained one last, important task. While the others were gathering their supplies and sharpening (and grooming) their weapons, I went to Denerik’s uncle (the armourer) and gave him a note that said “In the event that we don’t make it, please give ”/characters/wallace" class=“wiki-content-link”>Wallace to Denerik’s family". It’s odd – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dwarves show as much emotion as I did when he read that note.

DM: “It’ll make a difference from flat goat!”

  • On the way*

We traipsed out from the fortress and down to the mine hole with no problems., We had a cheery wave from Gragnog as we passed him, and there were already shoring teams (with rust-monster-lookouts) in place. It took almost no time before we were up to the area near the mushroom field. I wrapped myself in my lovely Elvish cloak, felt the strange tickle of the Invisibility spell fall over me, then raced for the trough and the person washing mushrooms there.

It was a different Dwarf, one I hadn’t seen before.

“Try not to react.”

A slight nod

“We need to come in and hide in your carts. Please let the others know. We’ll hide in the carts until the storeroom, splat the guards then get upstairs. And what’s your name?”


Oh god – Denerik’s brother, and no guarantee we’ll get him out. At least …

“Your sister Denerik is with us.”

A look of combined hope and joy. I hoped he’d be able to keep it together until we had the situation sorted. For once, I was glad of the Dwarvish dourness – if we’d been doing this with a bunch of Elves, it’d be a full cabaret dance with glitter by now!

I scarpered back to the others, barely making it out from the cavern as the spell wore off. We reiterated our priorities:

  1. Jam door B open,
  2. Drop portcullises
  3. Kill
  • Into the Abbey*

It was time. Up went the invisibility sphere, and we made our way to the carts. I had the sphere centred on a pebble I held, so I would get within 10 feet of a cart, the chosen cart occupant would scuttle straight from the sphere into the cart, and I’d go on to the next. Al and I were in the last cart, as there were only 10 and there were 11 of us.

Luckily, although Rorick hadn’t had a chance to tell the other prisoners what we were up to, they worked it out pretty quickly. It only took a couple of minutes before I was damping the spell, and Al and I were being smothered in mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms. Smelly, heavy mushrooms – I could breathe, but only just.

Carts moved. Bumping. Bouncing. 20 mins then stop. Dwarvish yell. Response. Grindy scrapy noises. Squeak. For ages. Then stops after more than half an hour. (Door D) Carts jerk on – over bumps in floor. Sharp turn. Move more. Dwarvish conversation. Metallic clang. (Portcullis?) Scrapy noise, wheel further. Stop. Sounds of chains of prisoners clanking away from us. (Bugger). Clang again. Squeaky grindy again. (Door B) Shuffling noise. Lighter metallic noise. Carts moving again. Wheeled short distance. Stop. Metallic noise. (Portcullis again?)

I waited for the signal from Maul – the casting of the spell. Instead, I heard some far-off clanking, then close by:


Rukhsul menu!!!


Oh hell.

Then the joyous sound of Maul’s incantation, and then wonderful silence.

I leapt out of my mushrooms to see Denerik facing a bundle of 10 undead Dwarves, her weapon raised high and her voice even more so. I fired at one of them, as I saw Mel leap out of her cart, into a target rich environment. She whacked at the creatures, then fell over as it turned out she was standing on top of the Sergeant. Her landing was on top of another one of our people, who also had trouble getting up.

Maul stood, and waved her arms – her energy flew out and hit a pile of zombies. Denerik took one down as well, and I suddenly realised that her brother would have been taken back ot the slave barracks, and I had no idea if she’d stay with us or go to him, for he’d be in danger of being slaughtered.

Scanning the area, Al took at shot at one of the zombies upstairs with his crossbow, a nice solid hit that left the bugger lurching.

Burla stood up, as did Dorria, and one of the zombies tried for Mel, but missed her. More of our force climbed out, or readied their weapons. One hit Denerik, who turned and took off his arm – alas, not his sword arm.

I took out one of the ones standing over Mel, who managed to stagger to her feet and then swing at the one beside her in a wonderfully decisive manner – such that when I next looked there wasn’t even a pair of feet left. In fact, this meant that there were not many left downstairs, but plenty upstairs firing down on us. Denerik copped a hit or two, and the Sergeant started for the stairs, as the last of our mushroom-hidden people pulled themselves out of the carts. Maul’s energy burst flared over the undead nasties again, dropping all of them. Then another stalked over to look at us, and it seemed to be a bit uglier than the zombies, if that was possible.




This, of course, was where Al’s acidic ray came in really handy. She shot it towards the one who’d hit Denerik, splashing it nicely and sizzling it in a rather satisfying manner – but the splash caused another to run away (hopefully not towards the A block). Dorria headed for the stairs too. Denerik fired but missed, so I decided to head for the stairs (after tugging at the robe of one of the clerics with us to give her the idea). It had suddenly dawned on me that, no matter what, we had to meet the priorities, and that meant getting upstairs as quickly as possible.

One of the guys upstairs started heading for the Guard Room, but the Sergeant got up and charged at him with a pick and whacked him hard. Brother Odrack finally worked out he needed to get out of the cart, and Maul hefted something in her hand and threw – it was a mushroom! What was she planning? (It turned out that the mushroom was what she had cast the Silence spell on, and she was trying to send it upstairs.)

“How bad would that be? Her farts would be silent!”

“Silent but deadly!”

“But at least her snoring would be silent too.”

The wight charged at the Sergeant, but luckily his nasty pick missed. Clambering over the mushrooms, Al fired an acidic ray a tthe wight, then moved towards the stairs.

Captain Dorria, using the power of her paladin abilities, called upon her god, who answered her prayer with a Holy Power of Glory and gave her the power of a Mighty Smite

Denerik also shot at the wight, and her hatred of them and love for her brother sped the shot on even faster. I got to the top of the stairs, took one look at the pile of people fighting at the next corner, and realised I had an important job – to get around the other way, dodge the nasties, and jam that smegging lever. Mel came racing behind me. The Dwarf at the guardroom door got it open, despite the Sergeant’s best efforts.

Brother Odrack finally worked out what to do, and ran for the stairs, and suddenly we could hear clangs and whacks. The wight went for the Sergeant, and there was a woof noise as Al’s FBNS hit the wight. The rest of the Dwarves finally got out of the carts, and upstairs, Dorria swung her sword as Sister Eddarack used her own clerical abilities to render the wight useless.

And I got to the top level, with Mel right behind me.

Then I realised what Korsta was doing, and my heart sank.

The rogue went for Sergeant Korsta again, missing with vigour, and the Sergeant kicked him through the door and then followed, closing the door after him and yelling “CLOSE IT!”

With a yell, Maul scarpered to the stairs and up them, as the wight went for Sister Eddarokk. She blanched, staggered, and reeled back, but that was the wight’s last action – Al’s Flaming Bloody Nuisance Sphere got the bastard good and proper. She headed for the stairs as well, just behind Maul, just as an alarm rang through the whole complex.

Then the bastard who had set off the alarm headed for the door B lever.

The captain slammed the guardhouse door shut behind Sergeant Korsta, and barred it. I hope they name an entire Military Training School after him, and a spell, and a medal.

But the Dwarvish blighter was heading for the lever for the B door, which HAD to stay open so that the main party could get through.

So I had only once chance.

I had to jam it. I had something in my hand that would jam it. So I raced across the floor and jammed it in the lever.

My crossbow.

My beautiful, Masterwork, saved-my-life-I-don’t-know-how-often crossbow.

And I got it in the machinery just as the guy went for me and whacked his pick into my back. The bars went crunch onto the bow, and then held.


Roderick slammed down beside me, slicing off some of the crossbow, but it was ok – the door was jammed.

Maul ran along the edge near us, and Al not only moved her first FBNS up, but set up another one just behind the git who was going for me.

Who was trying to pull my crossbow bits out from the lever. Mel whacked at him but hit his enormous shield. There were good Dwarves running everywhere, trying to stop this guy from screwing the whole thing, and we needed to stop him, so I ran behind him and stabbed him in the back – hard! The Bastard got a whack at me in the meantime, but I don’t care – and it meant Mel had a better chance of hitting him too – which she did.

But there was no time to be gloating (or mourning) over the dead. We had a job to do.

Next Chapter: Battle Phase 2 – Raising the Door.


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