Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

In the gate room
you can sail the seven seas!

And so we found ourselves alone in the gate room. Next, to defend the gate room, and open the 87D. There were winches all around the blocks for raising them. And there were barrels near the murderholes, labelled “acid”, “fire” and “special”. Al’s eyes lit up at the possibilities.

As we all gathered to commence winching (the smaller members of the party acted as roving lookouts, checking periscopes, doors, etc), we heard a loud “boom” from… well, all around, really. Someone also looked in through the store room door and closed it quickly (apparently this door didn’t bar? But Cog jammed the lock, at least).

Then Al, checking the periscopes, saw a large group of dwarves in various states of life and death at the first portcullis from the corridor to the temporary stores… which their boss chopped through quite quickly. Not Good.

Al called the scouts over to help drop fire and other things on those dwarves. After a couple of rounds of various fire, and a tanglefoot, Cog poured a barrel of “special” through the hole, which turned out to be… an ochre jelly in a barrel!

And we kept it going: a whole lot more of the same – flaming spheres, magic missiles, barrels of acid and fire. Even an extra ochre jelly. The boss seemed to have unlimited healing potions.

Eventually, they broke through the portcullis so we fought them in the loading area (“we will fight them on the beaches”)… but there weren’t any more reinforcements coming. And suddenly, we figured out why: that big boom was the inner 87D on the other side being dropped closed. That means we are cut off from the whole monastery except for the lower barracks, and it seems we’re fighting all of them… so if we can beat them, we’ve got all the time we need (until the doors to this gateroom are broken, anyway).

The last glaive-bearing dwarf proved pretty tenacious, and made life very difficult for us. We finally took him down, spending a shiny point to get a critical hit.

The boss – who turned out to be Elder Durn – had a magical set of full plate, and on examination we found his greataxe was adamantium, which explained the ease with which he chopped through the portcullis.

At this point, we figured that it would be wise to get reinforcements from the prison… only to discover that the prison was still guarded. Oh, and Mel got shot by a ballista on the way to the prison. Fugging fantastic.

No one said it would be easy™.

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One does not simply walk into Walkers'
We need... A Plan

So we made a plan.

We would hide ourselves – plus a supporting force of dwarves – in a mushroom cart, and wait for the cart to be wheeled inside the Abbey from the mushroom fields. Once inside, we would wait until the cart was taken through to the loading area… then, once inside the inner 87D, we would wait until the guards begin to unload our carts, then: cast a prepared Silence spell and attack the guards doing the unloading (Cog had already confirmed with Denarik’s brother that the prisoners don’t unload the carts). After dispatching those guards, we would use an Invisibility Sphere and another Silence to ambush the gateroom. Then, we intended to jam the inner 87D release mechanism, lower the inner portcullis, and overcome the people inside the gateroom while using the natural defense of the gateroom to keep out the rest of the Abbey’s forces. Then we would open the outer (upper) 87D… and send a signal to the main invading force – a spell of Dancing Lights to be sent outward from the upper door.

The supporting force comprised:
Captain Dorria (lvl 4 paladin)
Sergeant Korsta (lvl 4 fighter)
Brother Odrak (lvl 3 cleric)
Sister Ederokk (lvl 3 cleric)
Denerik (our friend the ranger)
Burla & Eltu (scouts – lvl 1 rogue/ranger)

Time to put the plan into action.

We got into the carts successfully, and were duly buried in mushrooms, and so we lay there. For hours. Finally, the cart moved: wheeled for a while, then we stopped… and heard a squeaky grindy noise, which went on for quite some time (that would be the lower-outer 87D). The noise stopped, we moved again – wheeled a bit further, stopped, and could then hear the prisoners’ chains walking away. Then, a new squeaky grindy noise for yet another long time (that would be the inner 87D). Then, a clanky noise (the portcullis opening). Then, we were wheeled a bit further. And stopped. Then the clanky noise behind us (which, all going according to standard operating procedures, means the portcullis is closed).

Then we heard some clanking from some way off.

Then we heard… a bit of swearing and a thump. Maul had a readied Silence, so it didn’t surprise us when it suddenly went very, very quiet… but at least we all heard her casting it.

It was now very silent and none of us could know what was happening, because we were all under mushrooms! And then …

As various members of the party stood up, we found ourselves surrounded by… zombies.

So we fought them – as well as a couple of dwarves and a wight – and made our way up into the gate room. The sergeant headed through the door to the guardroom, and the captain slammed the door behind him – a noble sacrifice, and one that was probably vital to us maintaining defence of the room, but a bitter turn of events nevertheless.

One of the remaining dwarves managed to set off the alarm gong before we finished them off, but we have control of the gate room and every door is closed and barred. Cog managed to jam the lever for the inner 87D while fighting off the dwarf who sounded the alarm. And we defeated everyone inside.

And so, it was on with the rest of the plan! And if things had gone according to plan elsewhere, the dwarves in the lower mushroom fields should have been rescued by now.

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Things of Rock and Rust
Feeding the giant with our leftovers

While the fight itself hadn’t been too nasty, Mel had taken a lot of damage so Maul healed her up. We then spent a “quiet” night, quiet being except for the snoring of Gragnog in the corner. His snores occasionally brought slates down but other than that rattle, it was peaceful. He also ate a lot of dead Hobgoblins.

Al worked out that if we go back to the watchtower and let them know the giant is there, then the cover of “oh, so you’re surveying the area?” is sort of blown. We used a couple of beams to make a splint for him.

“Beans?”

“Beams.”

“But then he could plant them and climb up!”

“It’s traditional.”

So we moved all the Hobgoblin bodies close by the giant, so he didn’t starve in our absence. And our spare flatgoat. Of which there was a surprising amount.

Mel: “Be good.”

Gr: “OK. You be careful of those trolls.”

All: “We will.”

Denerik mentioned that what we are about to face are Rock Trolls, which we haven’t met before. The “burn the bastards” trick doesn’t work on them, but she wasn’t certain what does, although she was pretty sure acid would be good. At this, I beamed at Al. Sunlight would hurt them but we didn’t have any way to carry sunlight with us.

I remembered that Roderick has a once-per-day scare spell, and “Scent”. Which of course started the party on loads of “My dog smells terrible!”. Then we realised – Dwarves have to put up with 50 years of Dwarvish Dad jokes until they move out of home! Poor things. There ought to be a law against it.

Denerik started muttering about “_aren’t we supposed to be checking the tunnels out?”_ I think she was getting a little impatient, or even annoyed at the comments about Dwarvish Dad jokes. Besides, Roderick was all enthusiastic about killing trolls. I allowed that I would be doing a lot of hiding. So we worked out our marching order, with Maul and Denerik up the front, then Al, me, then Mel. I won’t tell you what Mel was saying – it’s most unbecoming and I definitely wasn’t blushing or anything.

We went on for a while with Roderick snuffling a fair bit. “Big smelly thing!”

“Smells like rock?”

EVERYTHING smells like rock”

The passageway started very narrow, then widen out. Maul cast light on a pebble which Mel stuck on the front of the shield.

Then Mel noticed that one of the rocks up ahead looks symmetrical. TOO symmetrical.

And then it moved.

200px-Rock-troll_Lobber.jpgMaul went to enlarge Mel to Massive and Al set to give her Bull Strength. I considered getting different sorts of bladders. No, wait – it wasn’t like that. I considered that there needed to be different sorts of containers for the different liquids I carry. This, as I loaded up the crossbow to try to get a shot off before it noticed us.

Well, um – so long as it didn’t hear the sound of the bolt bouncing off Denerik’s helmet, we should be fine.

Mel hunkered down behind her shield as Maul and Al cast the spells on her, but then the troll charged at us, obviously attempting to overrun her.

With that, it knocked Mel down, and likewise Denerik. Then me. Then Al, then Maul. Crap. We were all flat on the ground. Al lost the spell she was casting. But brave Maul realised that if she stood up, the troll would go for her and give the rest of us a chance to regain our feet. And so she did, copping a rather nasty blow in the process. As the creature drew back for another blow, she took the chance to cast the Bull Strength on Mel. I scrambled to my feet, stepped back and fired the crossbow at him. Hit! Al did likewise, and her acid ray splattered on the beast with a satisfying sizzle. So glad that that stuff worked – I think we would have been stuffed if it didn’t.

Trolly McTrollface then roared at Maul, which shook her to her core! Denerik was unaffected by this display of prowess, though, and fired away. Badly. Back at me.* I AM NOT A TROLL!*

SORRY!”

Maul tried to steady herself, but her hands shook as she put the spell together, and it fizzled into nothing. I stepped even further back but my arm twinged as I fired and I missed. And could see my previous wound on it healing automatically. Bugger.

But Mel hit hard as well, bring the creature’s attention on her. TmcT went for Mel again, and bit her. Its claws got tangled in each other though. I couldn’t help but notice that its teeth were shiny purple – probably worth a bit! Denerik also shot at it, and did well, while Maul stepped back a little, out from its reach, and threw a “Shatter” spell – which left the creature weeping loose crystaline rocks off left and centre. I fired again, but my bolt bounced off the ceiling just beside its head. Mel’s “thwack” rang around the cavern, then she suddenly grew so large! And Roderick – not so much “wolfhound” as “Grizzly Bear Sword”

Al’s acid hit again. Just a little damage, but every bit counts. And it tried to overrun us again, as Mel whacked hard again with Roderick. Maul was well bowled over, and the beast went straight for Al and I and stopped when it had knocked us to the ground once more and was standing on us.

Can I just mention here that being a troll’s footrest is not a very comfortable position?

Maul cried something to Nimbus (I think it was STUFF THIS FOR A JOKE!”) and the troll lost interest in her. And in a great deal more – I extricated myself from the limbs of the creature, and used its slight confusion to stagger as far away from it as I could, as Roderick yapped and connected once more.

And it dropped!

Al dived on it and started to spray acid from one side to the other. We reduced the beast to a sticky rocky sludge then dragged its remains back to Gragnog’s cave to be dealt with any time it moved. Gragnog loves a nice bit of troll for a snack – I think we’ve made a good friend in that giant. Alas, Mel shrank down, with a moan of disappointment. She was enjoying being big. And I souvenired a couple of teeth for my collection (and Lady Elamnea)

We headed back to the cave, and to the troll’s lair. It didn’t have a lot – mainly the gnawed bones of humanoids, probably hobgoblins. At least this means there weren’t any dwarves heading down this way regularly. 20gp in jewellery and small coins were donated to party loot, and the teeth would be worth more.

Maul: “What – the troll had grills?”

Denerik led the way, making marks as she went to make sure we could find our way back. The area we were in was not natural but had been worked, and Denerik makes rude comments about trolls. The nails are rusty, and some of the supports seemed precarious, making moaning noises as we went on.

Then she stopped, and held her hands up to stop us too. A pause, and then…

SHIT

And she turned and ran towards us.

“AL! DEAL WITH IT!”

Rusty.jpgSomething coming towards us, like a crawling insect with long antennae, about dog sized. It didn’t look too dangerous, but I was still being cautious (and I trust Denerik. If something this big scares her, it must be nasty). I dived behind a rock, and readied the crossbow. It missed me, spotted Mel and went for her. Al threw a Magic Missile which seemed to hurt it quite a lot. But it still went for Mel, and hit her – and her armour was suddenly covered in rust! Mel sheathed Roderick, to save him, despite his barking protests, but in doing that, it left her open to another attack. The creature hit Mel again …

… and her armour fell off…

And she ran.

Maul threw a soundblast at it, stunning the creature. And I hit it beautifully from behind, and kill it dead. There was a LOT of swearing, and I thanked whatever gods are keeping an eye on me that I was able to hide from it. There is NO WAY I’m losing this Mithril Shirt. Do you know how long it took to find underwear that matched it? Sheesh.

This, though, left Mel armourless, so we trudged back to Gragnog’s cave to scavenge what we could from the dead Hobgoblins’ armour. We scavenged enough studded leather to cover Maul and Mel, and grabbed a couple of basic weapons to use against the beasts. I wrapped the smelly Hobgoblin rags around myself to protect the Mithril from the bastards. And Gragnog, pleased to see us again, was sad that we hadn’t brought him a dead rust monster to eat. Apparently they’re a delicacy. We shall have to see what we can do.

As we headed back down, Denerik talked of an iron ore vein down here, which is probably what they were after. And then we spotted a hole that’s probably their hole. I stripped down to silk undies and, leading with my goblin-dagger – crawled in.

TWO MORE FUCKERS INSIDE

They saw me, I wriggled out as fast as I could, then Al threw in a flaming sphere. Snap! Crackle! Pop!

“Rust monsters were invented by 1st edition DMs to give their players a hard time.”

“So today we’ve dealt with trolls and griefers?”

“And we dealt with them by a flame war.”

I redressed, but still wrapped the rags around my shirt. No point in taking chances.

As we continued, Denerik and I spotted that the mine was not in good condition. The wood props were groaning in a very alarming manner. I sneezed, and a bit of dust came down – from then on we tried to be very very quiet. We got past it and into a better quality area. Then we came to natural caves, Denerik made marks every now and then, saying “oh, we need to go in this direction”. I put a tiny secret mark under a distinctive rock, in case anyone tried to bugger with the marks on the walls. It has been known…

There were some nasty bits with narrow spaces. Then Denerik stopped, put her finger to her lips, and pointed to mushrooms growing on the nearby walls.

Edible cave mushroom – we were near the mushroom fields.

Maul extinguished her light, and after a couple of minutes we could see a very faint glow in the distance, and hear noises – gruff speech, but hard to tell what type. It was time for the thief to do his stuff.

Denerik got out her rope. I was expecting her to tie it around me, but she just pointed it in my direction and it tied itself! Wow! Sadly, it is not for sale, nor could I find one to buy in the Tower, as they are a special Dwarven item that is passed down the family. But such a nice rope! Al used the wand, and I wrapped my Elven cloak tight around me, and snuck up through the cavern until it opened out.

Mushroom_Fields.pngInto a big mushroom farm – obviously the Lower Mushroom Field of our map. There were 15 dirty chained dwarves there, working on the mushrooms. Two guards with crossbows were wandering up and down, while two of the dodgy undead ones were standing dead still. One of prisoners was washing mushrooms at a trough at the side. Many of the dwarves looked injured, and some – oh how shall I tell Denerik? Some had had their beards cut off.

I sneaked back, gestured to the others, and pulled them even further back. There was no way I was letting any noise through to that room, and I was worried about how Denerik would react. Then the suspicious gits checked to make sure it’s me by asking me my donkey’s name. Blighters. My reaction assured them they had the real Cogs. I told them what I had seen, and Denerik looked as upset as I have ever seen a Dwarf look. I drew the map on the floor, and we discussed a plan.

We agreed that we can’t take them all on, not even at our most buffed and vicious (although I reckon Al would take out most if we tried). And we couldn’t do it without the chance of one escaping back to the Abbey and alerting the rest. And there must be more than just these four.

So I’ll sneak back in, get to the trough, hide and ask the washing guy questions.

1. How many prisoners in whole complex.

2. How many guards

3. Who is in charge

4. Are the gates in the same configuration as they were before – 0110 or 1001?

5. Is Rorick, Denerik’s brother, still alive, and is he a prisoner or guard?

I went in without the rope, because they’d see it if I did. Invisibled and Cloaked, I waited until the moving guard closest to my end of the cavern moved away from the side I needed to go along. I snuck around, got to the trough, and spoke to the guy washing mushrooms there.

“Master Abbot sent us. Try not to look surprised.”

He nodded slightly

“We can’t rescue you this time, but we will be reporting back. I need to ask some questions.”

“Ask,” he muttered.

And the answers were:

1) “As much again as is here.” (In other words, about 30 all up)

2) “Four”
“No, not just here – the whole complex.”
“Oh – seventy or so.”

3) Renda, Torva and Dern. (Elder Torva Songteller, Scrivener: in charge of the library and research; Elder Renda Goblingrinder, Master of the Acolytes: in charge of training and discipline for the acolytes; and Elder Dern Goblingrinder, Master of the Works: in charge of the fortress’s machinery and of engineering.)

4) The front gate is always kept down now.

5) Prisoner, other work detail. (Oh thank goodness. Denerik will be pleased.)

I asked him to pass on to Rorick that his sister is helping, cares very much for him, and to pass on around the prisoners that they are working on this up top.

Then his eyes widened.

Fuck.

The invisibility had worn off. No way that was five minutes!

He started throwing mushroom stalks on me.

“How long until you finish for the day?”

“About two hours”

“Bugger. Any chance you could create a diversion?”

“Not at all. Just hide and be quiet.”

So I hid and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

With no way to get info back to the party.

I need to train me some mice.

I was getting pretty cold and miserable, with icy water slopping on me. Then I heard guards.

" … all right you bastards – let’s go. Load it up "

I made a hole so I could see under the trough – I could see movement, and hear carts creaking and chains jingling. I waited until I was pretty sure that they’d all moved out. Then I took my time moving to end of trough – I looked to make sure no unpleasant surprises had been left for me, but there was no sign of the undead ones. So I made my way to the wall and quietly made my way out.

The others had been worrying like crazy. Mel thought I must have been captured, but the lack of noise (and of search parties down the crack) meant I must have been trapped somehow, and they had decided (wisely) to wait instead. But as I came up, covered in dung and mushroom bits, they still looked pleased to see me, if only at a distance. Al cast a Prestidigitation on me – twice – to get most of the mushroomy bits off, and I told others what I did. Denerik was relieved to hear about her brother , but thought I shouldn’t have told my informant to tell the others because we don’t know who’s an informant. Personally, I reckon that after all this time, they’d be able to tell.

We headed back to the exit, grabbing crispy rust monster for Gragnog. Talk about BFFS! We told him we’d be getting some Dwarves, but he wasn’t to let any come through from the hole we’d come from. He was confused, poor lad, but hopefully he’ll understand.

At the watchtower, the old guy asked how it all went. We told him about Gragnog, and I was about to say something of the Bad Dwarves, but I realised just in time (and just as Denerik stomped on my foot). I changed it to “Smegging Rust Monsters”, which the old guy nodded at and said that they’d been around for years. Worse than cockroaches, I reckon.

With that, we headed back to the Tower, and asked Denerik to pass an anonymous note to Master Abbott, so that the information can be disassociated from us. Our story was that we had been heading home, but ran into a rust monster above ground, and that poor Mel had copped it (as indeed she had). Thus, we headed to the armourer, where Mel got measured up for and paid for a lovely shiny set of full plate. The armourer suggested Mithril, which got a sigh of longing from Mel, and she has promised that when she can afford a set, she will come and see him. She also gave him her contact details so that he could send word of anything she might be interested in.

Maul also invested in an armour upgrade, which I think she fully deserved. I asked around about possible messaging systems, but I’m starting to think this might be something for druids or the Bestiary or similar. Then Denerik showed up (what a coincidence! Although this is her uncle’s place), and invited us to dinner.

I couldn’t put it off any longer. I headed for the appropriate area of town, and invested in a large tub of hot water, a lovely bar of violet-scented soap and a gloriously fluffy towel. It was definitely well-past-bathtime.
Bathtime.bmp

We arrived in our good, clean clothes, to dinner, and were strangely not surprised by the appearance of Master Abbott.

“I understand you found some more serious information about the Monastery,” he said to open the discussion. “We agree that they probably only open the bottom door long enough to get work parties in. So we need to work out a way to get a large force in the top, as we’d never get them all through the lower tunnels. I offer you the resources of the Tower, in collaboration with myself and the Council, to work out a way we can get into the Abbey and save those trapped there.”

Ideas flew thick and fast. “We will assemble force up top. Could you get a force in through the bottom, and take control of one of the gatehouses?”

“Do you have a wizard who can project a field of invisibility around a small force? And braces for the rocks?”

“Perhaps if you could think about what you might need? I think, with the state of the prisoners, we should move soon.”

And dinner was not flatgoat. All in all, it was a good evening.

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When you're in a hole, keep digging

After a night to recover, we set the giant up with plenty of hobgoblins in reach, and at least half of our supply (and all of Cog’s) of flatgoat. Mel splinted the giant’s broken leg. So it seemed that he’d be fine… which left us with the question, would we? Denerik was not enthused about the prospect of encountering a rock troll. It seems they are immune to fire (Al was rather disappointed by this revelation). But vulnerable to acid (Al perked up again).

We cleared some rocks which had been used to partially block off the tunnel system, then worked our way down into the tunnels.

Roderick smelled something. Maybe troll?

As we continued to tromp, the cavern widened so that we could go two abreast. And Mel noticed that a large rock up ahead looked just a bit too symmetrical… FIGHT

Aargh! A rock troll just ran over all of us! Maul was hit as she got up, but the rest of us were back on our feet and OK for the time being.

Mel did a lot of damage (especially after being given Bull’s Strength and Enlarged), but the damage was all non-lethal. The troll was rather unhappy about the acidic rays coming from Al, but Al managed not to get stomped by it before Mel was able to take it down. That was “down but not out”, mind… but unlimited Acid Splash spells, and a few minutes later… dead – and somewhat liquefied – troll.

We continued the trek down into the hole. It seems that some of this area had been worked by hand – Denerik thought it likely hobgoblin work (and was very critical of it).

And then something really scared Denerik – “Al, deal with it!”, she cried.

Cue a puzzled look on Al’s face (especially as she didn’t see the monster in time)… what could scare a dwarf so? A rust monster, that’s what! It damaged, then destroyed Mel’s banded mail. Not cool! Al fired off a set of magic missiles, Maul hit it with a sound burst, and then Cog finished it off with a very impressive sneak attack.

We returned to the hobgoblin’s cave, picked up some “disposable” weapons and armour, then headed back down; we located the hole that probably belonged to the rust monsters. Cog snuck in, found two more, and drew them out, whereupon Al toasted them (and not in a polite, “to your health” kind of way).

Continuing to explore, Cog noticed some timber that really didn’t look like it was holding up – it groaned as we pass – then eventually we found ourselves back in something that looked like a “natural” hole.

And after a lot more going through tunnels, Denerik finally noticed mushrooms – edible cave mushrooms. The start of the abbey’s lower mushroom fields.

We sent the stealthiest of our number on a brief recon mission, and then on what was to be a very slightly less brief recon mission. As Cog has recounted, this second mission became anything but brief: two hours worth of “not brief”… but we got the info we needed.

We learned that in Walker’s Abbey, there were 30 prisoners being held, with 70 guards and… the dead ones, too. In charge were “Render, Torver and Durn”. Denerik gave us a bit more info – and a family connection: “Render Goblingrinder, Durn Goblingrinder… I am Denerik Goblingrinder”. Cog had also learned that Denerik’s brother was still alive, and in the other group of prisoners. Cog also told the dwarf with whom he’d made contact that we would take the info back upstairs, and to pass word to the other shift of prisoners. Denerik was worried that Cog had told them to share information, concerned about leaks… but there wasn’t anything to be done about it now.

So we headed back up, checking in with Gragnog on the way. We also checked in with the guard outpost, and told them about Gragnog. then headed back towards town.

As we went, Denerik explained that treachery in the monastery would come as a big shock, so we needed to be very careful who heard about this. And so, we returned to the Granite Tower independently of Denerik, so she could report on her “surveying” work.

Mel, of course, was now in need of some new armour. She got serious about putting her well-deserved proceeds of our adventuring so far towards being fitted for a set of full plate (although the dwarven armourer was keen to earn even more of said proceeds: “have you considered mithral? Mithral would look great on you.”)

While she was being fitted… what a coincidence! “Hi Denerik! Fancy meeting you here!” Denarik invited us to dinner… and suggested that Cog have another bath first (Cog was very pleased at that idea… Al would have thought prestidigitation was enough, but nooo). At dinner, we were not in the least surprised to find that the Master Abbot had also dropped by.

Unofficially, the Master Abbot was willing to supply us with a small supporting force, but he would like us to try to get inside and take control of one of the gatehouses. And so, we made our plans…

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Giant in the Hole!
Not Every Time is Mist time.

We were summoned to the council, which had been deliberating for some time. There was a great deal of discussion on how to break into Walker’s Abbey, considering the plans for the floors showed a great deal of security, and especially those doors!

dwarf_door.gifAlso, there seems to be no emergency exit. Instead, they expected that any of the Abbey’s inhabitants should barricade themselves in, and wait for rescue, which means that now the rebels or whatever they are can barricade themselves in and wait forever, dining on the mushrooms and quite a supply of flatgoat. And there is supposedly no alternative whatsoever to that. We also concluded that charging in and putting jacks under the blocks will not work as the security blocks will get lowered before jacks can be put in place.

We were sent out again as they held further discussions, and Denerik came tagging along with us. She was quite upset, and questioned us incessantly about the dwarves we had seen, and had we noticed a particular braid on any beards or a ring… We were quite sorry not to be able to either help or reassure her. To try and elicit a smile from her, we headed to the smithy (and to see her kin there) and were greeted by the news that Roderick was ready! He’s shiny and sharp and highly improved – and barking to tell everyone about it.

Then we got word to head back to the Council, as they had reached a decision: for now they’re going to block the passageway and set up fortifications to make sure no-one comes up from the abbey.

Master Abbott looked sternly at us, and told us that we had done quite enough, and it was time for us to leave. But we couldn’t help but notice that his beard-stroking seemed to indicate that something was up. So we agreed to leave, after re-stocking up on flat hack goat gag and other essentials. Al also asked around about her nemeses Lady Floriane, and Argenias Lat, but apart from “oh, they might have come through at some time”, there was nothing more to be added to what we knew already. The chances are extremely high that the information we seek is down in the Abbey. Dammit.

Al considered purchasing a new Magic Missile wand, but as she can now fire those off at a great rate herself, she thought there was really no need. I suggested that, from now on, when she wanted to use her “Sleep” spell she should attract the enemy’s attention then I sneak up behind and whack them on the head.

Correct key for the song of the trapped dwarves? A Flat Minor. (Blame the DM)

After we left city limits – Denerik suggested we go surveying with her. I of course would welcome the chance to expand my engineering knowledge, so instead of back along the road with the chalk-dust-trebuchets, we turned right and went tramping along the side of the mountain. Most of the snow was melted, and it was quite nice out there. Fresh. Sunny. No lingering odour of farted flatgoat.

As we went, Denerik told us some of the history of the area. Over on eastern flank, about 10 years before, there had been an infestation of hobgoblins, so the Dwarves had brought some barrels of blasting powder, and blew the goblins caves into smithereens.

Also, the Abbey below had been having hobgoblin trouble around the same time, but that had strangely stopped at the same time the tunnels were blown up.

Far be it for me to insist that correlation always equals causation. Sometimes, though, it’s at least worth checking for any possible connection between events occurring at the same time.

Flatgoat_1.jpgWe stopped for our meal, and I offered Denerik some of my field rations which she accepted gratefully She also confessed that not every Dwarf is mad keen on Flatgoat.

“Oh really?”

Then she mentioned a small matter. It seems that the Abbey has upper and lower mushroom fields, and they haven’t used the upper ones for some time, so the Council may not have remembered this. She also said, very sternly, that if we should happen across any information of interest, it would be appropriate to report it afterwards. Right. So the Master Abbott did remember, and that’s why we’re here. Got it.

We finally came to the last guard tower before the old hobgoblin’s area. A gruff, friendly dwarf was happy for us to leave our mounts there while we investigated, and even lent us a few digging tools. I recognised his type right away, and just braced myself for the inevitable bad pun. And then, as expected:

“Take your pick!”

I would hate to hear what Dwarvish Dad jokes are like.

And finally, I asked Al what I’d been wanting to ask for some time.

“Al, you know how I basically saved your bacon by throwing you off the bridge?”

(Very dubiously) “Yes…..?”

“What does the donkey want to be called?”

I could see her struggling with her conscience with this, then finally…

“He doesn’t care – just cares about whoever feeds him!”

I consider the debt wiped.

(And an afterthought. Was Al struggling with her conscience, or just struggling not to laugh?)

(Further thought – must have been laughter. I’m pretty sure Al doesn’t have a conscience.)

We stopped and surveyed the area. An area that looks like it’s been blown up.

“Boomtown”

Al noticed that there’s quite a hole among the cracks and all. It looked recently disturbed, and Denerik commented that the hole wasn’t there 5 years before.

For some reason, Maul wished she had a banana for scale. Weirdo.

Denerik reckoned she didn’t know if this leads to the monastery or not. But she longed to accompany us, and as she carries a shortbow and is quite tough, we agreed.

When we got close, I tied a rope around my waist, and Mel held it while I went to the edge to look. There was a scree slope, badly damaged, leading down to a crack at the bottom. It’s possible something heavy broke through, or as Mel and Al thought, something fell through. Possibly a trebuchet round. A really big one. Huge, in fact. I slipped a little but was able to look right down. The hole goes down about 60 foot, through damaged caves, and then stops at the bottom layer. I headed back to the others, to explain this.

Then we heard a groaning noise. Maul sent a summoned eagle down to reconnoitre, but it didn’t come back. We watched to see if anything else came out – I suggested there might be a poor starving dwarf down there, who grabbed the eagle for a meal.

Next, we set up signals for the rope, and Al invisibled me.

“Pull” means pull me back. “Help” means come help me. Nothing and slack means “oh fuck come and get me.”

Al Mage Armoured up and Maul Blessed us.

Boomtown.png
Silence is definitely golden. I made my way right down to the bottom of the cave, the rope appearing oddly ten feet behind me as it exited Al’s magical invisibility aura. As I got to the bottom, I spot a pile of hobgoblins, most pointing their bows at the rope which even made them suspicious, while one at the back was standing over a prone giant. But with great luck, they didn’t spot me, so I decide to head back up, and let the others know. And next time to decide on a bunch of silent signals as well, dammit.

I made it back safely, and we held a short discussion, Al’s eyes lit up with the possibility of bright flames and burning fire,. We decide to light up a stone, and chuck it down there, so we’d have light to see all the goblins and the giant by, although we were a bit worried about the giant. Denerki then remembered there used to be a nice giant who kept the trolls away, by the name of Gragnog. Well, we can only hope.

surfinlegolas.bmpDenerik then remembered an old Elvish tale she’d heard about a fighter who slid down a slope on his shield. She suggested we slide down – Mel on her shield, with Al on her back, flaming sphere at the ready. For a moment there, Denerik and Al could almost have been related, so similar was the look of hatred in their eyes.

Brilliant idea though. Maul felt she was the clumsiest, so borrowed the Ring of Feather Fall to ward off any serious injury. I made sure all my flasks were safely tucked away, and down we went.

OW! Whose bloody idea was this? I skidded around the edges, banged into a couple of rocks, as did Al. Poor Mel on the shield skidded from side to side, hitting every rock on the way and planted face-first on a really sharp rock. I think she lost a tooth in the process, and a smear of blood across the floor as she skidded.

“Hey – we haven’t killed anyone in cold blood for ages!”

“The wights were cold blooded – but I suppose they didn’t count.”

I grabbed my bow and shot a hobgoblin, who instead decided to go for Mel. However, in his anger, he only managed to bounce off her armour. Al had a mucking great ball of fire ready, which went onto that same one, and toasted him good and proper.

“Hey Al! Teamwork! High five!”

“You mean ‘Low Five’!”

snickers all around

Denerik chopped at one, but it got her first. Maul also ended up face down, but Nimbus must have her holy eye on her in the process and no goblins hit her as she came to her feet.

Another swung at Mel just as she ducked to get her shield, and the others flailed uselessly, luckily for us. Then I noticed that one, right beside the giant, looked bigger and nastier than the others and was moving up to the giant and yelling at it as he went.

And then the big dude went for Mel.

That’s it. No more Mr Nice Guy.

A couple went for Maul as she tried to get up, and for once, they hit. But as they were recovering from the swings, she threw her fart spell set up a wall of mist. Which really wasn’t a great idea – there was I all ready to come and rescue Mel, and now I had no idea where she was. I did know one location though, perfectly.

I headed into the mist, stowing my bow and pulling out my dagger. Al threw a swarm in the other direction, while Denerik concentrated on the hated foe in front of her, who was really feeling her burn. That dwarf is wasted anywhere but in combat!

Maul was copping a beating from the dude beside her, but Mel was able to swing while grabbing her shield. Her recently-developed blindfighting skill meant that a goblin yelled something obscene, and Roderick barked very loudly.

Then Maul yelled, and Mel yelped and Mel yelled again. There was a scream from Maul that sounded like WITNESS ME and a rather nasty THUNK.

I made my very slow way south, dagger at the ready, past Al’s glowy ball of doom. There were thunks as Denerik took her foe down, and squeaks as if a hundred rats had been let loose. More thumping, grunting and axes hitting the ground.

Maul and Denerik went for the one between them, and swung but missed.

I came up to the giant, who looked rather badly damaged, patted his arm and said “I’ll bring my friends as soon as I can to help you.” I think he understood me. There were more squeaking noises, and yells that I think were the goblin equivalent of “GEROFF ME YOU BASTARDS”. Mel caught a gap in the mist, saw the boss hobgoblin and swung at him hard.

Maul: “I’ve got a feeling”

Background Chorus

The giant spoke in very simple common speech, but there’s no mistaking “Goblins mean! Get me out of here!” I told him we were there to help him, and gave him a bit of cram. Poor Denerik, who had been set upon by rats, managed to get away from them while Mel further set upon the boss and took him down! Roderick’s barking made her an easy target, and two went after Mel, but they didn’t get there. We really need to teach him “Shhhh”.

Then I felt my way past the giant, and ran into a hobgoblin, who I stabbed. Only a little damage, but I hope it did some good. Or bad. Or something. The squeaking continued, as did the cursing by Denerik and some similarly ugly words by a goblin. Then cursing by Maul, along with “Oh no! Not again!”

Another hobgoblin near me staggered, obviously dazed, and I heard a welcome barking from just through the mist, along with “TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT” in Mel’s lovely voice. One swung at me, but the Butt Dance of Doom meant he missed me. Gotta love that. Apparently Maul came crashing out of the mist, took one look at Al, and ran behind her, yelling GET THEM OFF! It seems her own rats had developed quite a taste for any flesh, including hers. I could hear the poor giant begging for food and help for his leg, as I took another really good swipe at the guy in front of me.

The rats around Maul and Al decided both of them were food, and I believe Al’s opinion of Maul was not improved by this. Al moved out of the swarm, but then Denerik came out of the mist and straight into the rats. Mel swung at the better-off of the two hobgoblins near us, and cleft him in twain.

Maul extracted herself from the rats, and threw a quick heal up, yelling “OW! Al? Why does it hurt?” Honestly. It’s not like she hasn’t been hit before.

I stuck my dagger into the guy one more time, not as well as before but I still drew blood. The rats went for Denerik one more time, then vanished.

Then Roderick flashed in front of me as Mel took on the last guy – who dropped in between us! I made my way back to the giant, and patted his hand as I gave him another piece of cram.

Yells of “Is everyone OK?” “I’m hurt” “Hurting!” (That from the giant).

Giant.png
“What’s your name?”

“Me Gragnog.”

Mel: “That’s a lovely name!”

Gr: “My mum gave me that one.”

We talked with Gragnog, who had fallen down the hole and hurt his leg. The hobgoblins were refusing to feed him unless he did what they asked. His leg appeared to be broken, although it’s started healing. I gently felt down, and the toes seemed to be warm. I knew that he needed to rest and heal, and he’d be fine in a couple of weeks, but he needed food and water, and would need help getting out of the hole when he was ready.

Then he asked “You want to go where rock trolls are?” pointing down hole.

Oh. Dear. Rock trolls before we get to the dwarves. Great.

The goblins had nothing but a few coppers and lots of fleas. The big ugly one had nothing better. We cleared a space, tried to de-flea it, and bedded down for the night.

320 xp

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Dwarves Gone Bad
Hiding in Shadows like a Boss.

After extricating ourselves from that fight, we remembered that one of the bastards had headed back, and was undoubtedly going to bring along a bunch of friends for the next part of the battle. That, or he was scraping up 40 pennies and a nice pair of dancing shoes. We were low on spells and ideas, and figured that this was the time to inform the bunch upstairs of what was happening, and to get some help ourselves. So we headed up the hill to report at the gate, and at the very least let them know. And we marked our way with chalk, with the intention of marking the final side passage with “We went this way”. Crude, but you never know what might happen.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try it. As we went, I heard the sound of heavy boots behind us – RUNNING! I dived to the side and hide behind a rock, while Mel and Maul went ahead to take a stand, and Al got shoved behind another convenient boulder. I also took note of a pothole in the floor a little way up the tunnel, as I had a feeling it might be useful. Then Maul cast one of her mists and we waited for the rapidly approaching footsteps to congeal into things.

Which they did.

Cave_to_the_top.bmpA bunch of seven dwarves came up to the edge of the mist. 4 armoured guys, two unarmoured and a boss dude. Boss dude cast a spell on an unarmoured dude, then everything went very very quiet. Then they snuck into mist, and I saw my chance. Using my sneaking sneak skills, I snuck out behind them and shot into the fog, just about where I’d seen the big dude go in. I assume it hit him, although I’ve no idea how badly.

But there was silence.

Total silence.

Then the dude I aimed at scurried out of the mist, and hurried into the shelter of a nearby rock, before I could peg him again. He left a trail of blood, though, so I must have hit him (yay for the new bow!)

It was still unnaturally quiet.

And if it seems like I have some supernatural knowledge of what was going down, it’s because I’m incorporating what the others told me later.

Suddenly a pile of dwarves stepped out of the mist in front of Maul and Mel, and commenced their assault. Mind you, they’d have done better to just start up a round of Riverdance, for all the good they did. Maul apparently was about to cast a soundburst on the beasties, when she realised the silence was not natural, and instead swung at one of the unarmoured dudes, causing a nasty cut with her massive axe. Mel leapt forwards with Roderick, and got a swipe into the other unarmoured guy. It was odd, there being a fight like that without Roderick’s barking echoing off the walls.

Al backed up the corridor until she could hear the sound of her own feet, then cast FBNS on one of the shielded guys, knowing that they’d have the hardest time avoiding it. Sure enough, a few moments later, despite the silence and the mist, I could tell from the smell of farting dog and crispy dwarf that something good was happening.

Then I heard the big dude casting a spell, so I rushed out and fired at him – and hit! But it looked like he’d healed himself, so it’s likely he wasn’t bleeding any more. Damn him. But hey, at least I kept him nice and busy.

On me.

Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Then one of the unarmoured guys hit Al with something nasty – he felt chilled, weakened, and as if some of his life force had drained out of him! Maul also copped a hard hit – and felt the same nasty effects. Only her Orcish blood kept her on her feet. The shield guys tried to surround the Big Girls, but failed to hit them. Maul called to the heavens to help her, channeled the positive energy and dashed past them into the mist. Luckily none of them hit her. Mel swung Roderick at the one that picked on Maul, and surely Nimbus had decided to bless her excessively as Roderick released the undead dwarf’s intestines. Mmm. Squishy.

undedwar.gifBut that meant that some of these dwarves were … ewww. Undead.

Al looked around her, and decided that discretion and disappearing was her best chance (thank goodness for that wand). The bastard on her got another hit in, but then she vanished in a puff of gnomish anger.

The big dude started up another spell – so I fired at him again . hit him slightly. The crossbow guys started after Maul, and found each other and the pointy ends of their comrade’s daggers. The shield-protected ones moved up to Mel, but missed. Unfortunately, the undead near Mel hit her, in the face with their ugly pick. The last one figured he knew where Al was, and swung the pick around in a menacing manner just above her head. Maul used the last of her positive waves of energy, which unfortunately healed one of the crossbow dudes, and was not enough to harm the undead dude, then she also retreated further into the mist.

Mel stomped on the undead dude’s foot, and as he looked down, she swung Roderick and took off his head. Oh how I love her when she does that. Al snuck past the undead critter, back towards the bunfight, and moved the FBNS to make sure it toasted the shield guys, who were also looking slightly better than they should have. (Maul’s spell had helped them as well.)

Boss dude started up another spell, so I hoicked an Alchemist’s Fire onto him – he managed to keep casting but he was roasting just a bit. I mean, they’re not for every occasion, but sometimes they are just beautiful. The one way up the tunnel near Al raced past her, for Mel, and looked like he was about to land a beauty, but Mel’s armour saved her from worse. Mind you, it was bad enough – there was life force being lost left right and centre here! Maul healed herself, and Al’s sphere slipped away and burned out. She cursed, and started casting up a swarm.

Poor Mel, though. As far as she knew, everyone around her had died! They’d all gone off and disappeared, and she was the last one left. Until she got a clue that maybe her favourite Halfling was still in the fight. You see, I hid back in the alcove, but then this mucking great hyena bit me! I yelped, stabbed him, ran and dropped into the pothole in the mist.

Mel engaged the guys with big shields, while Maul was attacked by the guys with crossbows who couldn’t find their own feet in a shoe shop. Mind you, Maul was having the same issue. Mel swung at the undead dude that had returned, just as Al’s swarm appeared, a pack of rats, who went for the dudes with the tower shields. She also decided that discretion was the best chance for staying alive, and stopped deadly still, still protected by her invisibility.

The hyena was snuffling around, and I could hear the boss dude coming near, so I stayed very very still and quiet. The other dwarves shuffled around in the mist, or next to Mel, and managed to avoid hitting any of my people. Then Maul swung her axe at the guys with crossbows, and whacked one fairly hard, enough that I could hear it from my hideyhole. Mel whacked at the undead dude, rather badly, but that’s ok – Al’s rats were all over him, eating his eyes out.

Ewww.

Yeah, we found the bits of them on the floor afterwards.

1425823129350.jpgThe hyena found me, but only slavered in my direction. Alas, this alerted the Big Dude, who had pulled out a nasty spiky chain and started swinging it at me. Ouchie. I ducked as low in the hole as I could, and the noise both the hyena and I were making started the other uglies towards me, which gave my amazing girls a chance to whack-a-wight. Maul only scratched them, but Mel finally took down the wight (for wight it was).

Al’s rats took another guy down, and moved to the next dude. Shame the rats couldn’t get at the hyena, but the hyena blinked out with a “woof”. The boss dude went at me again, but hit the side of the hole instead. I thought I swung at the dude, but it was the mist. Then one of the crossbow dudes came up to me too, although his aim was a bit off. And Mel, magnificent Mel, who could fight with a blindfold on, hit again and again.

Then the big dude hit at me, and hit, so I whacked an AF on his feet. Serves him right. Although that was no excuse for him to hit me again! Ouchie! So I hunkered down to the bottom of the hole, and didn’t try hitting anything else. In fact, all I did was to yell “HELP!” before ducking. Maul was feeling the agony of having lost some lifeforce, but Mel was still whacking away, and then ran towards where I was, drawing the rats onto the other guy trying to hit me, who went down.

Mind you, the Big Dude still tried at me with his mucking great chain, but missed. I stayed down, getting the wand of Cure Light Wounds out. I had a feeling it might be needed. And I could always try and use it on myself, even if it gave them a chance to hit me.0

Then Mel struck him down. HARD!

And Maul struck down her target! YAY!

And the fight was OVER! But we were sore hurt. Maul wisely applied the CLW wand to get us up a little, then we ransacked the bodies.

The goodies were basic weapons, although the boss guy’s Spiked Chain was masterwork, and not normal Dwarvish style.

“Weft hand or wight hand?”

“Don’t you mean weft hand or warp hand?”

He didn’t seem to have a holy symbol, but near where he was is a small empty vial, which had a slight trace of a conjuration effect.

So we took the head off the head cleric dude, (heh) and the hand of a wight, to help us prove our issue at the gate.

We headed up to gate, and the guard wouldn’t let us through. He called the Sergeant. The Sergeant called the assistant Abbott, who was horrified by the wight hand. He also identified the head as being that of a novice who had been at the Monastery. They called Master Abbott, and there were recriminations and the calling of a council and we were sent off to the Abbey for healing and repairs.

And at the Forge, the guy identified the chain as “not best Dwarvish work”, then offered to upgrade Roderick because Denerick is his niece’s daughter and they are thankful for our help.

“Not going to touch the spirit of the sword,” he said. “That would be wrong. But don’t be going telling anyone about this or they’ll all want it.”

Roderick’s reactions were as expected:

“Oh boy! The Forge! My favourite!”

“Oh boy! Hammering! My favourite!”

“Ooooh. Bath. Bummer.”

We were allowed to keep the amulet and the glowing dagger, as these were not local items, and we headed off for a good night’s rest.

1200 xp each!

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Nice of you to drop in

Denerik was understandably very concerned that her brother might have been among the dwarves we had fought and killed, but said that he would have been wearing his goblin-crusher clan ring (she shows us hers)… and we hadn’t found any such rings (despite looting … er, carefully inspecting… the bodies)

We were eventually summoned to the council after it had been going for some time. The dwarves showed us a model of the abbey, and the defences therein… about which they are not really sure what to do. Some were keen to blow the place up, some wanted to try a frontal assault.

A messenger arrived to tell us that Roderick was ready, so we asked for leave to go and collect Roderick, and to have a think about strategy. When we were eventually summoned back to the council, we were told that the dwarves would “take it from here”.

Denerik was sent to escort us away. As we went, she told us that she had been assigned to “survey the eastern flank”, and offered for us to join her. Which we did. Denerik mentioned that some time ago, they had done some blasting to get rid of a hobgoblin problem… and apparently that had also fixed a minor hobgoblin problem which had been troubling the abbey at the same time. In other words, there’s probably another way into the Deep below the abbey.

We stabled the animals, and Denarik led us to where the blasting had taken place.

Al noticed a substantial hole, which Denarik told us hadn’t been there five years ago. The hole appeared to have been broken or collapsed… perhaps someone or something heavy had fallen through. It’s possible it could have been from one of the trebuchets, if it had hit here. As we approached, we heard something groaning from below, and Maul sent a celestial eagle down to investigate. It didn’t return. Cog then asked to be made invisible, and we lowered him on a rope to see what he could find. Fortunately, Cog did return.

He reported 6 hobgoblins down there, torturing a giant… who was presumably the reason for the hole (and the groaning).

Denarik suggested that we make a sliding rush… so Mel got on her shield to slide down, with Al riding along behind her (ready to fire a flaming sphere as soon as she saw the lights of their eyes), and Roderick barking all the way. Denarik slid Legolas-style. Cog went deftly with acrobatics, and Maul wore the ring of feather-fall in case of mishaps.

That was the idea, anyway.

Mel fell very badly, Al and Denarik and Cog all got a bit bumped up too. Ouch.

And fight was joined! Cog and Al took out one of the hobgoblins, Mel and Maul got back to their feet; then Maul cast her Obscuring Mist, and the melee disappeared. Having no idea where she might now direct the flaming sphere, Al decided instead to send a swarm of rats to somewhere near the only place that had more goblins than our party. From then on, she just sat outside the fog and concentrated.

We prevailed in the end, although Maul did get pretty beaten up along the way… meanwhile, Cog had made friends with Gragnog the giant, and we talked to him about what had happened to him. He had indeed fallen down the hole and broken his leg, after which it seems the hobgoblins who lived in the caves had enslaved Gragnog to defend them from… trolls. Who attack from below. From a tunnel. Which presumably leads to the Deep.

So… we decided to rest for the night, recover, and then head on into the deep. After which we’ll get other dwarves from the tower to help Gragnog out of the hole.

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The Dwarvish Miners

There was a team of miner Dwarves, a-digging they did go,
Through dirt and dust and heavy rock, to reach the gold below,
When suddenly the roof fell down, and trapped them in the dark,
With nothing there for them to eat, their future looked quite stark

For dwarves can do without their ale, if luck has left them dry
But none can live without their food, and surely five will die.

The five of them, they tossed a coin, and started on the youth,
For picking on one fully grown would surely seem uncouth
They cut his throat, stripped off his flesh, and chewed upon his fat,
He lasted them two days or more. They even ate his hat.

For dwarves can do without their ale, if luck has left them dry
But none can live without their food, and all the four will die.

The four remaining lasted but a day before they broke,
And chose by lot the injured one. Their comrade they did choke,
They sliced his body into strips, and made it last a week,
But even though they rationed him, their future now seemed bleak.

For dwarves can cope with water, though for ale they will sigh
But dwarves can’t live without their food. Three will surely die.

The dark was weighing down on them. They’d water, but no food,
And those three dwarves discussed their fate and felt their darkened mood,
’Til two of them turned on their friend, their brother, cut him down,
And ate him in just four short days, from toes up to his crown.

For dwarves can live for many days if water close runs by,
But they can’t live with nowt to eat. The two should shortly die.

The two remaining tried to keep awake, for fear of hurt,
But finally one fell asleep, lay snoring in the dirt.
In seconds did his erstwhile friend jump on him with an axe,
Three meals a day for two more weeks, and many tasty snacks.

For deep inside the darkened cave, a dwarf may sing and cry,
But if he doesn’t find more food, then this poor dwarf will die.

The day had come. The last bone cracked, the marrow sucked and chewed,
The dwarf had none but he himself to feast on for some food.
His legs he severed, three more days he lasted. Then his arm,
The left one, cut with tourniquet, for fear of further harm.

It’s dark, it’s cold, and he’s half gone. He cannot reason why
He’ll have to think of something quick, for surely he will die.

Finally he had no choice. His options down to one,
They’d sworn they’d leave it to the last, and this they’d clearly done.
For in the corner, standing high, beyond his comrade’s gear
Stood six big crates of flat goat, near enough to last a year.

For dwarves can do without their ale, if luck has left them dry
But leave them only flat goat, and surely they will die.

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Cave Fighting and Dastardly Dwarves
That time when Cogs threw Al off a bridge.

We spent a quiet night in the spider’s lair, untroubled by screaming fungi, overenthusiastic goblins or squelchy jellies. Maul seemed to have worked out why her armour wasn’t fitting right for a while, and thinks it’s even better now that she’s let out a couple of the straps. Surely she can’t have gained weight from flat goat or anything?

We couldn’t work out what the ring or the cord were, but Al said he’d have a go at them in the morning – or what counts as morning in this forsaken depth. The next morning, I set up with the ropes we have, and all the pitons we’d found back at the goblin base, and started up the wall.

Slowly.

With lots of falling back.

Lots of time.

Even with spells on me to make it easier.

And pitons.

And hold spots for the ropes. I’m going to have those rope burns on me for life, I swear.

Bridge.bmpAnd then, finally, I got to within a few feet of the bridge, to find myself looking back up at a smiling dwarvish face. My arms felt like they were going to fall off by this stage, so when he leant down and held out his hand, I took it with gratitude. And then hate. Because the bastard hoiked me up, then threw me down into the abyss!

And for that, he dies.

Ever heard of “zippering”? Neither had I until then – it means that the pitons pull out of the wall as I fell down. Luckily some of the pitons held, or I’d have been dead in the water down the bottom, but I still hit the wall really hard, and it hurt like hell. Meanwhile Al could hear the bastard heading on up the tunnel, yelling “INTRUDERS!” as he went.

Al yelled back “What the hell are you doing? We’re trying to help!” Their response was a pile of crossbow bolts. Al threw a Magic Missile at the bastard who was going for me, then a sleep spell that stopped some of the bolts, while Mel lowered me down and into safety. We hoped the remainder of the pitons would hold, but they threw rocks at them until they all came out.

Then the yelling started.

“We were sent by the Abbott to find out what’s happening.”

“Who are you?”

“Sent by the Abbott.”

“Why would he send a bunch of outsiders?”

“To stop wasting dwarf lives!”

“You can stay down there then.”

“Let us come up and explain!”

“Only without weapons!”

(Not bloody likely)

“Why did the monastery close?”

“Secret dwarf business. Stay down there. Hope you’ve got plenty of food.”

“We have! Lots of lovely flat goat.”

Not what I wanted to hear, and despite having been healed, I suddenly felt really off, and threw up at the back of the cave.

The others weren’t keen on this lot either. Maul summoned an Air Elemental and sent it up, as Al used one of her lovely Flaming Bloody Nuisance Spheres. I think we managed to kill one, as there were screams and some more of the bolts stopped. Then Al unleashed the most intimidating of her intimidating voices.

“How many more of you would like to die?”

There was the sound of running boots. Dammit. They were getting reinforcements.

And then I remembered something, – the goblin we saw in the chasm was climbing up the walls – maybe his ring was something nice for climbing! Maul decided to put the ring on and climb… and fell riiiiiight down the bottom. We waited with bated breath for the “squelch”, but instead she bounced up and yells “I’m ok! Oh fuck it’s cold!”

Cool. It’s a ring of Feather Falling. Wish we’d thought of that beforehand.

Al and Maul had an argument about whether to go up and cure the dwarf they’d injured, but then Maul started shivering, and we decided that she’ll spend the night recovering then we’ll try it again.

We held watches of course. These watches were enlightened by singing from above, all about a group of dwarves trapped in a rockfall who started eating each other. We tried to ignore it, and discussed whether we should try negotiation again in the morning.

The song continued, where there was one dwarf left. He’d eaten all the others. His own legs. His left arm. Only then does he start eating the flat goat.

Figures. Bloody dwarves.

In the morning, Maul used stoneshape to make some handholds. Using a pile of other useful spells, she started trying to climb but a crossbow bolt hit her. She was slightly injured, so went back to cave, cast obscuring mist, then headed out and did 15 feet of handholds.

I offered to do a spoken word performance on the foolishness of those who stop the valiant adventurers who are trying to help them.

Then Al yelled up a last chance to parlay. The dwarves said “Unarmed!” So Al and I decided to risk it, and asked them to lower a rope so we can come up. Carefully, we climbed up over the parapet onto the bridge, to face five of them. Some had tower shields, and the big boss was just uuuuugly.

“Where are the others?”

“At the bottom with our gear! We don’t want some goblins to come and nick it!”

“Get ’em, boys!”

Crap. I thought we’d done pretty well on the persuasion. Al charged up the spells, while I ran to centre to tie the rope for the others to come up. The FBNS started its stuff (and seemed to be behaving better than it usually does. All that practice must have helped). I got hit with a crossbow bolt, and then one of the guys grabbed Al. Suddenly, there was a yell from Maul below us of “SMOG” and the whole area was shrouded in fog. I heard footsteps inside the mist, and ducked silently back into it, away from the sound, to try and tie the rope to the side of the bridge. There were strange noises nearby – apparently Al was trying to make noise to distract them from me. Or that’s what she said to me later. That, and putting the FBNS onto the back of the dwarf holding him. Mind you, she screamed rather loudly – I believe they were gnomish curses. Apparently the guy holding Al dropped her, to try and get away from the FBNS. She copped quite a bit of damage in the process, too.

Maul started muttering down below, and I kept tying the knot. There were more noises from where Al was – I hope she got a hand up under each of the dwarves loincloths and got their attentions pretty thoroughly. There was one hell of a smell of singed beard, which I assume was the FBNS doing its job. Then I thought I could hear her running towards me, complete with a thud and a squish, and an OUCH!

From below, there was a whoosh of air, which headed over near the crossbows. I can only assume that Maul’s Air Elemental was doing its job. Then Al stumbled into me, looking pretty badly damaged. She needed to get to Maul as quickly as possible. So I did the only thing I could.

I grabbed her, shoved the Ring of Feather Falling onto her finger, then pushed her off the bridge.

I heard an AAAAARGH, then a slight “boing” which told me she’d hit the web, thank goodness. There were more burnt smells through the fog, and the big dude came through and up to me, but he missed. Mel grabbed Al off the web, and Maul quickly healed her. I then took a chance and went to dive past the goons and off the bridge. (Almost made it without damage – ran into the first guy and got scratched but got past the others very very nicely.)

“Tell mother I died game!”

“Died what?”

“Game.”

“Oh – that’s not what I heard.”

“Hey, don’t assume Cog’s preferences!”

“I’m not – I thought he had more of a Sphere of Effect”

Crashes of lightning. Whooshes of air from the other side of the bridge. I ducked out of the fog and off to a nice hiding place behind a big solid rock. And from there, sheltered from the dudes and the lightning and the whooshes of air, I lurked.

Out of the fog cloud came a dude with a big shield, looking mean. There was a sucking noise from the other side of the bridge. And a “NOOOOO!” from Al, which sounded like it was coming from the cave – what was she doing? There was a crash of lightning and a yell of pain from the dwarves, and yells of “BOSS? WHAT’S UP?

And quiet, for a while. Apart from the lightning crashing and the staggering of shield-guy. After a while, the guy with the glaive came out too. There was a long wait, with yells from the crossbow guys. Then the glaive guy started trying to search, so I chucked a pebble onto the bridge to distract them, using the distraction to sneak out back up the cavern. I was tempted to try for the gate at the top, but without a light source, I’d be falling into every bloody rock and hole.

The dwarves yelled at each other, and one set of footsteps headed away from the area. There was a weird flapping of wings for a bit, that went away pretty quickly.

Apparently, the others summoned a set of eagles which scanned around and reported back, including that they hadn’t seen my body either. They considered the cord they found with the goblins, and Maul tried it on her right hand, realised that it was actually helping her climb, so they loaded Mel up with them. With that, and the invisibility wand that we’d found earlier, Mel climbed up, making as little noise as she could. Then she dropped the rope back down, with the little cord on the end of it.

At this point, the two nasty dwarves near her obviously realised that something was up, although they weren’t sure what that was. There was a yell from the crossbow dude, and things were on again!

heart.gifGlaive guy dropped his weapon and came up to see what was happening, and Mel PUSHED hard! There was a dwarvish scream that disappeared down the crevice, then Mel hit the other guy and took him down. I ran to the edge of my cavern and looked out – and saw Mel standing over the bloodied bits of the guy who had had the shield. There was a whizz of a crossbow bolt, and Mel turned and started racing over the bridge, jumping over the spot where the trap lay.

Up to the crossbow guy.

And made him Mincemeat.

The others hauled Al and Maul up on the rope, while I jammed the bridge trap completely.

We checked over the guys, and they weren’t wearing the same gear as the guys upstairs. What they did have were full plate or banded mail armour, a glaive, ordinary weapons, and the boss had a couple of masterwork items.

And of course, Flatgoat.

“Mmm. Flatgoat. Reminds me of my mother.”

“Smelly, covered in whiskers?”

XP 600 each, taking us from 16617 to 17217

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On Top of Old Smoky
Flaming Goblins!

After a small rest, Al cast a pile of resistance spells on us, and we searched for wherever the goods would have dropped – because of course we wouldn't be the only ones who had been attacked by a triffid. There were quite a few bog-standard fungi. (Bog-standard. See what I did there? Oh shut up) and bits of a well-chewed goblin with an amulet around its neck. We tried to get it off carefully, but the head wasn't actually attached any more, and we all ended up with a bit too much goblin guts all over us. The amulet was magical (no surprises there) and some sort of a Monkish "Fists of Fury" magical doover – all set for us to sell the next time we're somewhere handy. Or able to give back to the dwaves. Or something. Me, I'm for selling. It's definitely not the sort of thing for me, because I'm not the type to hang around where the fight it. Much prefer hanging back. Waaay  back. Mel popped it on, and it didn't seem to cause her any problems – but then something got the drop on us.

Vampire_Squid.bmpNow I used to live on the docks, and sometimes those fishermen brought in things that would make your eyes fall out of their sockets. Fish shaped like the moon, octopus tentacles long enough to wrap twice around the boat, fish that looked like they came from the Dimensions of Chaos – and once, they brought in a thing that looked like a squid married an umbrella. And that's what this thing looked like. Floated down, and tried to EAT ME!

They missed.

Maul cast the usual blessing, while Mel swung, and I threw another Alchemist's Fire (that splashed a little. Oh well). A second one went for Mel, missed, and then the first one went for me again. Filthy unnatural creatures! I ducked it, and had a good look around in case there were any others, while Al used her lovely acid ray and squirted the bastard. SEE! THAT'S WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE SQUIRTED YOU SQUID THING! It made a horrid noise and flapped up into a crack in the ceiling, but Maul chucked a spear up after it, and a moment later, both the spear and the dead Darkmantle fell down among us, uncovering in the process a bag of bones, a bag of rags, and a bag of gems. Nice!

Shrieker.jpgAnd in the distance, further up the cavern, something shrieked.

Loudly

Loud enough that we were pretty sure we were spotted and done for.

Until I spotted a little something up beside the shrieking critter, that was probably the reason it started sounding the alarm. He was probably trying to do the "try a little from the left hand side", although without a friendly caterpillar. hqdefault.jpg

Al sent a sleep spell up to the small fellow, but all it did was encourage him to yell "INTRUDERS!" as loudly as he could and shoot back at Al. Luckily the snit's aim was worse than mine – the arrow skittered past Al and into a nearby puddle. Two more showed up and fired – alas, one did hit Al. Maul set up the Entropic Shield just as another two turned up and fired, this time at Mel (but they missed). So Al pulled up the regular Flaming Nuisance Sphere, which, from the lovely smells of burnt goblin that wafted back, did its job very nicely. I added to the Rain of Unhitting Arrows, and we suddenly realised that one of the goblins was halfway up the side of the rock wall and doing a lot better than the rest of them. There was a bustle of goblins at ground level drawing their swords and going for Mel, but Roderick was in prime "Bite Them" mode, and whacked hard.

Maul threw her Soundblast at a pile of them, and Al fired away at the one up the wall. Then, a snarling noise from the back of the goblins caught our attention. The dude up the wall scurried to a crack and disappeared, and a bunch of confused goblins started hitting each other as the ugliest dog you ever saw charged through them and towards us. Towards Mel, to be exact. There was chaos and arrows and flailing blades and another pair of dogs after Mel dropped the one that had taken a chunk out of her. Mel found herself surrounded, but made a yell of "TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT" and swung Roderick with such enthusiasm. His old master would have been so proud! Maul cast one of her Obscuring Mist spells, and I kept a wide eye out for that tough dude who was undoubtedly awaiting his chance to sneak up and do his worst. And indeed he was – and that HURT! So I ran back into the mist, and when I tripped over a soft warm thing that smelled bad and wasn't one of our party, I ensured it never woke up again.

There were uglies everywhere! I was reloaded and ready to fire when I suddenly got drenched with something hot and wet – Mel had connected with a goblin and Roderick had been rather active. Indeed, she couldn't stop him barking with glee! Then something large barged past me – luckily I realised at the last moment that it was Maul, and didn't fire on her. There was a strong smell of charred goblin (Al at her best), and the sound of dying goblins left, right and centre, and gradually we worked out that all but the ugliest of the lot had met their maker.

We backed out of the mist towards where he'd gone up the wall.

Maul: "Surrender and no more of your people will be harmed!"

Goblin: "I don't think you understand how goblins work!"

Cogs: "I don't think you understand how I work!"

FlamingSphere.png And Al just lost it and cast a FBNS onto him, and we watched as he dropped off the wall and onto the floor with a soft  'Thud".

We hurried on over, weapons at the ready, and Al made sure the FBNS was on the guy good and proper until Mel persuaded her that the dude might have some treasure. And sure enough, a nice cache of gems and a few items we couldn't identify – a ring of some sort, a loop of cord around his neck, and bracers.

Oh, and he did not survive the fall. In fact, he probably wasn't alive when he dropped.

We searched further up the cavern and found the Goblin village, but it looked like they had abandoned it to squeeze through a hole at the end, and we had no doubt that going through that hole would be trouble. Al and I could have made it (single file), only to be cut into pieces at the end, and Mel and Maul wouldn't have been able to make it through at all.

So we faced up to the inevitable – time to climb back to the spider cave, recuperate, and then attempt getting back up to the bridge tomorrow.

Lower_Cave_System.bmp

 

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