Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

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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Reporting back

We decided we’d better report what we found to the tower… but as we began heading up the tunnel towards the gate where we had first come in, we heard boots coming up the corridor towards us. We set up an ambush with an obscuring mist and a stealthy Cog (crouching fighter, hidden rogue?). Things started going badly for us when two of the party were attacked by undead dwarves with picks… making absolutely no sound.

Al moved up the corridor and made herself invisible, which worked for a time. Meanwhile some (not undead) dwarves flailing in the mist managed to damage each other, and Mel hit one of the undead hard enough to leave its guts hanging out… sadly, that wasn’t enough to (re)kill it yet.

Around Al it had been quiet while she was being attacked by a nasty undead dwarf, and then suddenly it wasn’t quiet any more when said nasty undead dwarf ran back down the corridor to hit Mel. A lot of wandering around in the fog went on, but finally we took them all out (Al was quite proud of her swarm of rats).

We then headed back to the gates of the Deep, and talked with the guards, who eventually brought a sub-abbott, and after using a Zone of Truth brought us back into the Tower.

The master abbott was very concerned by our report (after “scolding” us for “stealing” his key), and offered us the healing of the sub-abbotts (who very kindly sorted out our energy drains). Mel was then invited to the forge. We showed them the spiked chain which we had taken from the boss in our last fight, to give them some clues about who or what we might face below.

The smith then offered to improve Roderick (the smith is a relative of Denerik, and he appreciates what we’ve done for her), making a remark about Roderick being “not up to his full potential”. It’s not every day you consider upgrading a sentient sword, so Mel offers the upgrade to Roderick, who commented “hammering’s kind of nice! Oh boy, the forge! My favourite!”. And so it was that Roderick began his journey to becoming an even better boy.

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Upward and Onward
With quite a lot of downward, too.

Another day, another set of identification attempts:

  1. a set of bracers – lesser bracers of archery (ooo!)
  2. a ring – ??
  3. a loop of cord – ??

Yeah, not much luck there.

Cog began to attempt the climb out of the pit (with the rest of us to follow once he made it to the top). This took a long time and a lot of falling back down, while using pitons and rope to minimise the losses of unsuccessful attempts at climbing. However, as Cog got close to the top, a dwarf reached over! He seemed to be making a friendly gesture, so Cog took his hand, and then… the swarthy little bastard threw Cog out off the cliff. As Cog was falling (slowed somewhat by the zippering pitons pulling out of the wall), someone else started shooting. Al yelled some things in Dwarvish, and the shooting continued. We all took shelter in the cave, the big guns put their armor on, and Al yelled some “diplomacy” back and forth.

After various falls, an air elemental from Maul, and then a fried dwarf courtesy of a flaming sphere from Al, the rest of the dwarves ran away. Maul (being wise) realised that the boss goblin of our previous encounter was inexplicably good at climbing around the place, and bet on the ring being a ring of spider climb. She put it on and attempted to climb the rock… at which point she promptly fell into the pool below. On the bright side, for a fall of over 50 feet, she didn’t seem to hit very hard. Ahh… a ring of featherfall!

Of course, while the impact wasn’t much, the chill of the pool was more than enough, so we now had two fatigued climbers, and decided to spend the night before making any further attempts at ascent.

Another day, another set of identification attempts!

  1. a ring – ??
  2. a loop of cord – ??

Bugger.

While we were sleeping, more dwarves had assembled at the top of the canyon. Al called up to the dwarves that had assembled, and they told us to come up unarmed. Two of us (Cog and Al) did so… and were immediately attacked.

So we did our best in the fight, which resulted in Al becoming quite badly wounded, and without many options left for survival. But, as the old saying goes, “a friend in need is a friend who will push you off a bridge”. Cog put the ring of suspected (!!) featherfall on Al’s finger, and pushed her over. That worked quite well, actually! Then Cog – being super-stealthy through the mist conjured by Mel – disappeared off into the cavern and hid. Meanwhile the dwarves – out of targets for the time being – sent a runner for reinforcements.

Still little closer to having our party at the top of the canyon, Maul tried the cord and found it made climbing much easier. So we used the wand to make Mel invisible, gave her both the ring and the cord, and sent her up the wall… literally.

She dispatched two of the dwarves very promptly (the element of surprise near the edge of a chasm can be highly effective – especially when accompanied by a deftly-wielded fecking huge sword), then charged across the bridge and skewered the one remaining dwarf.

And so, our party finally regained the top of the canyon, with all our stuff, and all (miraculously) in one piece.

The dwarves we had killed had some loot on them: plate and banded armour, ordinary weapons, a masterwork heavy pick and a masterwork chain shirt. As it was of little use to our party for the time being, and the dwarves of the tower would presumably value these items, we left it all piled neatly on the tower side of the bridge.

And now, since we believe reinforcements will be coming from the far side of the bridge (and evidently no welcome awaits us in that direction), we decide to start heading back the way we had come so many days before.

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So Many Goblins
Where did he come from, where did he go? Where did he come from, Goblin-Eye Joe?

After a rest, we investigated the area where the plant had come from, but found nothing but normal cave fungi. In one corner, there was a rather dead (and somewhat chewed) goblin. Cog investigated, and found a rather nice amulet (Amulet of Mighty Fists +1). While we were looking, some dark mantles dropped on us. Gross. Fight time! Splat and splat.

And then while we were discussing things, one of the fungi started screeching (apparently our Knowledge: Mycology isn’t up to scratch). Oh dear. We killed it, but we know such fungi screech to attract predators.

We headed up the gully, Cog going ahead (stealthily) to scout… and then he returned, having spied something furry and goblin-size near the screecher. Which probably was what set the screecher off, not us.

The goblin yelled “intruders, come quick!”, and shot at Al. Two others showed up and also shot at Al. Mel and Maul moved forward. Then more goblins showed up.

Target. Rich. Environment.

Even more goblins, and a dire rat. The boss climbed up, then disappeared into the ceiling. Evidently an exceptionally good climber… who subsequently sneak-attacked Al, causing quite a bit of damage… but Al got her revenge in the end with flaming spheres (and honestly, one sneak attack isn’t much compared to a couple of flaming spheres in your end).

Our fight with the goblins yielded quite a lot of loot, especially on the boss goblin. Four magic things: a Shortbow+1 (perfect for Cog), a set of bracers, a ring, and a loop of cord… the latter three of which Al failed to identify.

After making our way up the rift, we found a deserted goblin campsite about the point where the rift ends, and a hole through which we expect we would have found the bulk of the goblins. Not wishing to fight an entire community of goblins, we instead plugged up the hole with dead goblins and rocks and whatever else we can find, then returned down the rift.

And thanks to our great and glorious DM, the old giant spider cave is… a safe place! DING!

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Botanical Nightmares

We spent the night in the ex-spider’s lair, and then went fishing (after zapping most of the leeches), getting several more valuable items. The water was freezing cold, so those who went in suffered a bit, but we’d dry out and warm up eventually. However, just as we began to climb up the rope back to the bridge, a cart full of rocks (which had been attached to said rope by bastard or bastards unknown) came crashing down on top of us. Someone set us up!

Now without an easy option to climb back up to the bridge, and knowing that an enemy could be waiting when we got there, we decided to head down instead. We climbed down to the pool, where there was a crevice (about 15 feet across) to climb gradually upward and, hopefully, out. The bottom of the crevice was “suspiciously clean”. While cleanliness may be next to godliness, “suspicious cleanliness” has much less appealing neighbours. Specifically: a gelatinous cube. It engulfed Cog and Maul (twice), but fortunately was sufficiently scorched by three rounds of Al’s flaming sphere that a couple of arrows and a crossbow bolt finished it off.

As the cube disintegrated (gross), we found… stuff? Bat and goblin bones, as well as a wand of invisibility and quite a few hundred gold worth of coins and rings.

We explored the valley further up, found a boulder, climbed it and set up camp atop the boulder (because a high place above a valley which a gelatinous cube has roamed until very recently should be entirely safe, right?). However, during the first watch, we got puffed by spores, and Mel & Al started having some unpleasant hallucinations. Al was initially convinced she was covered in a swarm of spiders, and then the spiders “vanished” and she believed she was melting. Mel dropped her dagger (because it apparently grew teeth and tried to bite her), then believed she had shrunk to a very small size and needed to get under the corner of the boulder to avoid being stepped on.

After a couple of rounds, that wore off, and we were back to a normal fight. With a tree. That was moving around the roof and down the walls. And swinging at us with tendrils. But, y’know, normal otherwise. In the end, we defeated the plant and finally had our night’s rest.

We’ll go investigate where it was hanging out (geddit‽)… next time.

Oh, and Al finally identified the dagger: +1 Dagger “with a really annoying glow”

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Jelly, Jelly on a plate
Some spores make you taller.

We spent a very quiet night near the web. I was able to catch a bit of a nap before my watch, but those bloody leeches took more out of me than I expected. Mind you, around the dinner circle (of … can you guess? It starts with a F and ends with an “Ucking Horrid Flatgoat”), we had a robust discussion about which way to go the next morning. Although I had spotted a possible way out of the pool area below (following the water upstream), we decided to make for the Monastery first, try and sort them out, then look at the stream on the way back.

However, before that, we would ensure that the stream’s goodies were looked after by worthy types such as ourselves. And to minimise the effects of the leeches, we would use a combination of freezing spells to send them to Leech Purgatory before getting out the shiny things.

And a bit of dead dwarf to lure the leeches in so we could blast the fuckers. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were the Almighty’s revenge for something. Although I’m sure that Irori wouldn’t create such a being. Anyway, we gave the leeches what-for, so that the only not-nice thing Mel and Maul got for their troubles was a small dose of hypothermia, easily cured. We scavenged a few nice gems and a ring for that.

Then it was time to head back up to the bridge. The plan was for me to climb up, and then assist the others by belaying them.

Yeah. That was the plan.

The slight tug on the rope assured me that it was still firmly attached up the top. So I grabbed it with both hands, ready to haul myself up.

The rope went slack.

And instead hauled a wagon full of rocks straight down onto us. OMG IT’S COMING RIGHT FOR US!!!

I’d show you a picture of what it looked like, but instead you can have a picture of what it looked like for me…

passout2.jpgOK, that was done by someone who knew what they were doing. They’d very carefully balanced one of those broken down carts on the edge of the bridge, set to fall as soon as anything more than a slight tug pulled on the rope. Oh – for an added extra bonus, they’d taken my block of flatgoat out of the bridge mechanism, so the trapdoor was locked shut and hard.

All of us were badly beaten. (At least it wasn’t Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies – but it had been close!)

But on the good side, they’d taken the flatgoat.

So, the plan was now rather one-sided. Straight down to the pool, then along the tunnel into the cave. The crack in the wall was just wide enough to let us through. Although Al and Mel noticed that the rocks, which are normally pretty slimy, were clean. Sparkling, non-slippery clean. We decided to extinguish all the torches, and send Maul up ahead because she has the darkvision. I was just behind her, and at the same time, we spotted a great gloopy oozy pile of goop.

GELATINOUS CUBE!!!
large.jpeg

I’ve heard of these beasties, but obviously not enough. And I was a bit concerned that this might be a non-solo cube, so I took a second to look around.

Too long.

I got sucked in. The gelatinous ick wrapped itself around me, and I could not move. Maul got caught as well, but was able to pull herself free while whopping at it. I was still a bit whoozy after the rockfall , so I could vaguely hear sizzling and whacking, and then felt the whole thing dissolve around me as the creature died in a puddle of acidic goop. Mel pours clean water on myself and Maul, which helped rinse off the acid but left a nasty brown stain on my underwear (or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

We did, however, find some pretty things inside it, including a Wand of Invisibility. We could tell by the rockfall at the end of the cavern that the cube had been restricted to this small area, and in face had also kept the water clean. Already, the first whiffs of sewerage were coming from behind the rockfall.

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We decided to camp on top of the large boulder despite the mould and slime on the sides of it. It was nice and dry up there, and well away from the huge mushrooms crowding the cavern. The roof above us was clear, and nothing could get up the sides without us seeing it. So we slept (with watches, of course).

And in the middle of the night, Al was attacked by a swarm of spiders, and Mel’s dagger woke up and bit her.

Or at least that’s what they saw.

Maul and I looked at each other in amazement. There were no spiders, and Mel’s dagger had not suddenly become more sentient than Roderick. But there was a faint musty pollen-y smell in the air that we thought …

And looked up, and there was a large plant where earlier there had been bare rock.

Unfortunately, at this time, Al was screaming “Get them off! Get them OFF!” and running around just under the plant, so Maul grabbed her and jumped for it. Mel had already jumped, and was attempting to squeeze into a tiny crack. Now Al was screaming that she was melting, and Mel was trying to fight a twig. I tossed an Alchemist’s Fire at the plant (which unfortunately missed) and jumped off the side to join the others. Maul dunked Al and Mel in the water, and that must have done the trick, because she suddenly shook herself, used a word I really must get translated some day, and sent one of her trusty Flaming Nuisance Spheres up at the plant.

Which swayed and bent like a reed in the wind, avoid the bloody sphere with an agility that one scarcely expects in a plant. Mel, too, recovered her wits, and pulled out the long bow for a decent shot at the beast .It flailed around, dropping spores like Fronson with a Pepper Pot, but we realised what was happening and managed to avoid breathing too much in this time. Al left the Sphere to do its thing, while sending out an acid attack that did the job very nicely. Unfortunely her second shot just grazed it.

“Is it a tobacco plant? Was that close, but no cigar?”

The plant tried to reach us, so Mel swung with Roderick – and missed. The plant also swung at Mel, with a slightly better aim, and hit her, so Mel hit again and pruned it of a fair number of branches. At this moment, Maul’s summoned Eagle arrived, and went for the plant with its celestial talons. The plant disappeared over the back of the rock, and Al sent the sphere over to meet it.

And in a moment, we had a scorching smell. Not feathers – more like roasted broccoli. The plant fell off the wall into the middle of our campsite, scorching Maul’s bedroll. We gathered ourselves and our equipment back on top of the rock, and proceeded to get a decent night’s sleep, after which I felt almost back to normal.

And Al managed to identify the glowing dagger as a +1 glowing one. Not one for the secret attacks, then…

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In the Tower

It was time to finish up some business in town. Various members of the party needed some new supplies, and to Mel’s great delight, Roderick was entirely repaired.

We asked Denerik to tell us a bit about the Deep: after Venarik had built the Tower, she went into the Deep, and built a monastery there. The dwarves usually trade with the monastery… and with the races who live further down. However, the Deep is currently locked off. They lost contact with the monastery two weeks ago, and no one who has gone in has returned. The master abbot has therefore ordered it closed until they re-establish contact.

Denerik made an appointment for us to talk with the master abbot, and accompanied us to that appointment. In front of Denerik, he told us that it will have to wait for the council to consider it (in two to three weeks). He then sent Denerik away, and told us discreetly that he absolutely can’t authorise our venturing into the deep, and nor can he give us the key that is on his belt – right here – this one (Cog took the hint and stole it), while he made loud apologies: “sorry I couldn’t help you!” “Thank you, we respect your decision!” etc.

We waited until a suitable time, then headed down to the entrance, where we tried to bluff the guards to let us through (we had the key, so obviously it was authorised). They said they wanted to check with the folks upstairs – clearly they were rather suspicious of a band of random non-dwarvish adventurers being sent on official duty – but we convinced them that a delay could be dangerous and so they let us through – provided we leave the key with them (they said they would check our authorisation while we were away). We decided to take the chance for now, and headed down into the cave. As we walked ever downwards, we noticed various changing features along the way: rooms off the side near the entrance, murder-holes, a gridded floor, then the cavern sloped further downward.

We noticed that the walls have dwarvish script carved into them. We saw a cart that one of the wheels had broken off. We saw small side passages, but the main route was always pretty clear. And we saw no evidence of combat. It was very quiet: the sound of our footsteps, nothing else.

After about two hours of walking, we came to a spot where the cavern opens out a bit, and there’s a rift in the ground with a bridge going across it. Cog made an exploratory crossing, without event. There was a sound of water far below.

Then Maul crossed, and half way across… the bridge – trapped, as it turned out – dropped from underneath her. Mel, who had the other end of the rope, was pulled over the edge too.

They landed… in something sticky. Pro: it broke their fall. Con: giant spider.

Fight!

After defeating the spider, Maul & Mel investigated the bodies wrapped up in the web. Some looked relatively fresh (less than one week old), some shrivelled. About 10 dwarves, and a bunch of goblins. The smaller folk also climbed down to the web (Cog lowered Al, then climbed down himself). Searching the bodies, we found various identifying items, plus some cash on the goblins. And the cave in which the spider had lurked made for quite a secure shelter.

Al extracted some giant spider venom x 2 (double strength medium spider venom). We’d also seen something glowing in the water down below… so Cog climbed down to get that, and unfortunately leeches got him while he was doing so. And it was… a glowing dagger which Al utterly failed to identify.

And with that, we’ll heal everyone up and rest and decide where to go next (and how).

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Spider! Spider! Burning Bright!
Down down, deeper and down.

This dwarvish city was a bit of all right. Most things were made for the lesser-heighted individuals (like me), and for once the others were the ones who felt a bit … not quite the right size. Maul found her armour to be chafing in odd locations, so she handed it over to the dwarves for a makeover, and bought a basic suit of a lesser sort to tide her over until the pretty set was ready. One of the weaponsmiths was even trying to sell Mel a pretty dagger, with pinstriping. Honestly – next time it would be hammers that matched her eyes!

We got the wand and the scroll analysed. The wand is a “Protection from Evil”, and the scroll is “Align Weapon (good)”. Local shops were offering a special recipe for Flatgoat. “Best Flatgoat in the Tower!” Joy. I politely declined a second helping, and consider myself utterly virtuous for refusing it with a lack of expletives and new words for that filthy, disgusting vile substance. Shame my boots don’t need resoling – that would be the perfect substance for it. Luckily, there’s also Dwarvish Flat Bread. The special one. With Cheese. The Special Dwarvish Cheese. Can you guess what the special flavour in the special cheese is?

DNE.jpgWe headed for the Church of Torag, and on the way, I noticed a symbol on a bunch of doors. Denerik told me that these were the symbol for “Do not enter”, so I thought it might be a good idea to memorise it. I was also about to ask her about her brother who had gone missing, but something told me that that wouldn’t be a great idea. She did, however, mention that the Monastery had barriers between the Dwarves and “Further Down”, and something about the Lord of the Deep. I kept getting images of some enormous, ancient dwarf performing a ritual dance with their hands held down by their sides.

Either way, the Abbot should know who that is. The deep is currently locked off, and there has been no contact with them for a long, long time. Those that went to investigate have not returned either. Denerik kindly arranged an appointment with Master Abbot Lewarik so that we could see what needed to happen. I had a quiet chat with Al about the possibilities of poison sacs at the end of the crossbow bolts, which we will look further into later. (Hmm – small sponge, long-lasting fast-acting poison …. Later. Honest.)

Then we went off to meet Master Abbot. And his beard. He has a massive beard, a surly beard, a beard of great consequence that reaches far down to his knees, and which he strokes affectionately. Either that, or they keep some strange pets in that end of the world.

We offered to go and try and make contact with the monastery. A fair offer, I would have thought, but his Abbotness would not permit such an undertaking without the consensus of the entire council. Conferring would mean summoning the council, which would take 2 to 3 weeks. I was just about to consider an alternative, which would have involved a large distraction and a small slit to his belt hook, when he sent Denerik out.

And then proceeded to lean forward and say in a very stern voice “I couldn’t possibly let you down there, and I certainly could not give you the key on my belt.”

For a moment, I thought he’d caught my own thoughts, and I fumbled rather badly at swiping the key as he leaned over. In fact, it’s only by sheer and utter luck that I didn’t stab the old fellow in the process. (I really must get that small knife sharpened up!) He gave me a look of complete and utter disgust, and repeated even more firmly that he couldn’t possibly let us go down there, or to use the key on his belt.

This time I got it. The hint. And the key. Both.

We headed out of his office, to where a very dejected Denerik sat waiting for us, and let the poor lass know that we’d probably want to do a few tours of the area, especially the allowable lower areas of the tower. She was glad of the diversion, and we were easily able to pinpoint the locked gate to the Deeps, and to notice the very empty ore storerooms nearby. Then, with a few rather fake yawns (honestly, did no-one train in deception and bluff?) the four of us announced a need for an early night.

Dwarves_at_gate.jpgSo of course, as soon as it got all quiet outside (they don’t have much in the way of sunlight down there. Afraid of tanning or something) we snuck to the gate. And faced four rather burly guardsmen, and behind them, the gate.

“Do we sneak past?”

“Not a hope.”

“Kill them?”

“NO!”

“What then?”

“Why not tell an 80% truth?”

“A what??”

We marched right up to them.

“We have been sent to investigate the Deeps, and find out what’s happening with the Monastery.”

“We have orders – no-one to pass.”

“But we’ve been sent on purpose. Look – us two,” pointing at Al and myself, “are sneaky, and the other two are back-up.”

“I don’t know about this…” The chief guard was visibly wavering. “I need to check it with the boss.”

“But there are people in there! We must get through…”

“All right. But you leave the key with us.”

" errr … All right."

And through we went. The door was locked behind us, although they’ve promised to keep an ear out for us and let us back if when we return.

The pathway was lined with nice dwarvish-cut stone, and the walls and roof were likewise lined – and lined also with murder holes and other nasty surprises, to be used in the event of attack from beneath, I have no doubt. After a while, the pathway opened up to a large cave, with a smooth floor. The air was cool, and dampish. Except, of course, when Roderick farted and the smell of well-digested flat-goat wafted around us. The path gradually wound around and down, past walls with dwarvish scripts, and abandoned wooden carts that were obviously once used to haul the ore up to the gate. It was quiet.

Too quiet. For my liking, anyway.

Then, after a couple of rather nervous hours, the pathway opened right up to a huge cavern. Across the cavern lay a rather large chasm, with the faint sounds of water far below it. And, conveniently, across the chasm lay a rather nice bridge, of obvious Dwarven work, and pretty work it was too.

22-3_Cavern2.bmp
Not being the suspicious types, we still decided to take this bridge very, very carefully. Al tied a rope around my middle, and paid it out as I crossed. There was just nicely enough rope to reach the other side, and I undid my harness and fastened it to a nearby rock. The rock itself was fairly shiny, with striations. Although with what happened next, I’d be more likely to call it Schist than Gneiss.

I waved my lantern, and Maul started across. She was halfway there, when suddenly she dropped out of sight, pulling Mel down with her.

Then – a scream.

Then …

Silence.

I rushed over to the hole, which seemed to be a very well made weight-balanced trapdoor. There, below Al and I, was a huge spiderweb across the chasm.

Do you know what comes with Big Spider Webs?

I’ll give you a hint. They’re big. They have eight legs. Huge eyes. And enoooormous fangs.

And they think Maul would make a lovely meal.

Spider.jpgMel and Maul went for the spider, while I shot from above and Al sent down her Flaming Nuisance Sphere. Then, the bridge started creaking. The trap door was closing! I did the only thing I could think of.

I jammed a block of Flat Goat into the mechanism.

It worked! The levers creaked to a halt, and the bridge stayed open. Mel and Maul launched themselves at Old Hairy Legs, balancing between the wrapped bundles all over the web, while Al and I sent down bolts from above, both sharp and magical. There were a few moments of sheer panic – like when the lovely Magic Missile wand suddenly crumbed in Al’s hands (must have been nearly out of bolts), and when the bastard Arachnid actually managed to sink its fangs into Maul. But finally we subdued the spider, then killed her to make sure. The flaming sphere had actually managed to set the web on fire, but Maul was able to cast a “Create Water” and get it under control. Then Al and I checked that the bridge was properly jammed by the flat goat, and we abseiled down easily to join the others, leaving the rope tied tightly to one of the bridge struts so that we could get up it in the morning.

And none too soon, either. Pool Maul was turning a nice shade of green, and barely able to keep to her feet! We investigated the area, and decided there was nothing there that was alive and shouldn’t be. Sadly, some of those that we investigated were dwarf and goblin bodies; some fresh, some desiccated. But there were no little baby spiders (or their eggs) to be dealt with, so we tucked Maul into the spider’s den at the end of the web, and had a poke around. Most specifically, I looked over the edge of the web, and saw down to the bottom of the chasm.

There, at the bottom, is a pool of water. A light trickle of water comes down from one side, and out the other. And in the bottom?

Shinies.

Pretty, shiny things, including one rather pretty light that I felt ought to be taken out of the water before it rusted. Or something. So I got the others to lower me down on a rope, while Al kept a spell ready to blast anything that came for me.

The water was gold, and there were lots of skeletons in there, (goblin and dwarf), but the shiny thing was a pretty glowing dagger which I grabbed.

And while I grabbed it, a pile of leeches grabbed me. OW!

The others pulled me up while I called those bloodsuckers every nasty name I could think of. But even with the help of Maul, I was pretty dizzy and weak by the time they got me back up. I managed to tell them of the other shiny things in the water, before collapsing to sleep on the lovely soft webs at the side of the passage.

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Trolling for a response
When Roderick took a dive.

You know what’s worse than trooping along a muddy mountain track in the cold?

Trooping along a muddy track in the cold, knowing that some creep is back in Blackwater Port, slandering our good name left, right and centre.

Hang on.

I have an idea. No, not telling you, oh my gentle reader. Not until we get it rolling. But suffice to say that youthful enthusiasm may yet change the direction of history.

Anyway, back to the log. It got colder and colder as we made our way up the mountain, until the rain and the sleet became intolerable. There were little villages on the way up so that most nights we slept in some sort of rudimentary hut. That were tolerable, but only just (and at least twice it was only by huddling up together with Wallace and Bluefish that we managed to avoid freezing to death). But the villages were getting smaller, rarer, and the weather was getting colder. Also, the pathway was changing from a nice road to a rocky track to occasionally some sort of rough cliff-side ledge with half the rock missing. We only passed travellers going the other way once, and for some reason the rest of the party didn’t want to tell them about Slimy Vernon. Shame. I could have given them some prime ideas.

Keylong1.jpg Finally, we got caught out in the rain with no sign of a village or even a hut anywhere. The weather seemed to be getting worse, snow started falling, and our only chance for not being completely frozen was to huddle under the lee of a rocky overhang. It was only Maul‘s skill with weather resistance that stopped yours truly becoming a cold piece of meat as well. One good thing, speaking of cold meat – it was so cold that my tastebuds couldn’t even taste the flatgoat. Did I mention that nothing on this earth makes that stuff in the slightest bit palatable? Luckily, because we didn’t even have the means of making a fire, so we couldn’t have cooked it even if we’d wanted to. Even so, the night was miserable, and we bedded down with cold stomachs and even colder feet. Of course we wouldn’t sleep in such places without keeping a watch, and I kept mine with Maul, but I must have got some snow in my ears, because during mine and Maul’s watch I completely missed the sound of mucking great heavy footsteps. Maul didn’t, though. She decided that, should those be approaching be friendly, what better way to greet them than with the sweet sounds of hymns to the Greatness of Nimbus.

They weren’t friendly.

But then what else would you expect from Ice Trolls. The bastards charged us, and one swung at me – OWWWW! Those guys hit HARD! At least Maul’s singing had the expected secondary effect – it had nicely woken Mel and Al, which meant that as the plugugly one hit me, Mel could swing the mighty Roderick.

Or at least she could have if Roderick hadn’t been huddling in his scabbard and refusing to come out in the cold. It took a lot of pleading and yanking before he came free.

Speaking of cold, Al employed her ever-faithful (if slow-moving) fireball, which did the standard dance of “Tag” around the troll while Mel and Maul swung their mucking great weapons. I made excellent use of an Alchemists’ Fire bag, which hit the big guy right where I wanted it to. A bit of splash damage as well, but hey, these things happen, and at least Mel and Maul were a bit warmer as a result. Fricking troll swung his hips like he was hula dancing, missing that Flaming Sphere, but a fast spell onto Mel meant that our lovely Lady of Whopping was now a BIG Lady! Blows were exchanged between the troll and Mel, but of course those bastards have regenerative powers, not to mention are able to shrug off any but the worst damage. I remembered (and observed) how powerful the Alchemists’ Fire was against them, and hoiked another one in the direction of the first troll. Or was it the second? Either way, the Fire pouch bounced between them and over the side of the cliff edge, merely splattering a little on the way. Dammit. Al’s fire thing finally stayed on its target, though, and the beast fell over.

Al cast a belated Mage Armour on herself, (Maul had already blessed us), but in that short space of time, the bastard got up! DAMMIT! I thought there had been enough damage of the non-repairable sort, but no. Mel hit him hard enough to drop him again, and raised Roderick high over her head, ready to put him (and us) out of his misery.

Then…

Poor Mel.

Poor Roderick.

In a massive swing, that in reality should have taken the head off the troll and had power left to chop up the second one, Mel’s grip slipped in the icy conditions, and Roderick went flying out and clanged down hard on the road.
And slid.
… Right
… … To
… … … The
… … … … Edge
… … … … … Of
… … … … … … The
… … … … … … … Drop,

Teetered on the edge for what felt like forever, but was probably just a moment.

Then
… tipped

And started falling down the side of the mountain.

We could hear him.

clang

YIP!

clang

ARF!

clang

AOWWWWWWW!

Poor Mel was almost in tears. The second troll started laughing, almost half enough to shake his own head. Enough worrying – we had a regenerating troll to deal with. I hit at him with my dagger, which barely scratched him. Bloody damage resistance. Maul was going for the laughing dude, who hit her. But Maul swung hard with her axe, then in the same beautiful, fluid movement, passed it on to Mel.

Al recast the Flaming Nuisance Sphere again, and set it on the one that was down until it was a crispy piece of trollish critter (no I will NOT post the picture of that. There are limits. And the smell!) Mel swung the axe with a very credible swish, but it didn’t connect.

clang

ARF!

clang

YIP!

I threw my next Alchemists’ Fire, aimed at my height on the troll. And yes, chestnuts roasted on an open fiery codpiece. Maul used her spears and stabbed hard, and as the troll danced around to avoid the Flaming Sphere, Al sent the Acid out and got him.

clang

ARF!

Mel yelled something about FOR RODERICK and swung the axe, which connected this time with a very satisfying “ker-CHUNK!” This took the bastard down, and Al got her fire to hover on him until he, too, was a roasting sizzle hunk of troll-meat, well done and charred in places.

We had 50 feet of rope each, so while Maul threw a positive energy burst on us while Al and I tied the ends to make 200 feet of lovely long line, minus a couple of feet for the knots and for the rope harness around me. We also anchored it on Bluefish, in case we needed an extra pull-up. Then, over I went. The rocks were slippery, and dark, and very very cold, but poor little Roderick was whimpering and howling, and needed to be saved. I got down to him, and carefully tied him to a spare loop of rope before starting the assisted climb back up. Poor Roddy had a nasty chunk out of the side of his blade, and was quite battered and bruised. I got over the top of the rise…

… then Mel kissed me!

Goodness.

Then she promised Roderick the services of a good weaponsmith. Or at least I think she did – I spent the next minute or two in the thrall of some sort of bliss-distraction-spell, I think. Failed my save on that one rather badly. Never mind – I think it had more positive effects than anything else.

Anyway, the good mood was quickly dispelled by the need to check out the troll’s sacks. Which were, as you’d expect, pretty disgusting. Slimy. Bits of … let me say that that’s one dwarf who won’t be resurrected easily. Despite being a follower of Torag. So much for careful planning, although the “avoiding the sun” bit may have been what met this one up with the troll in the first place. Oh well. Bit late now. The body bits had a Holy Symbol of Torag caught up in the beard (no guarantee of being male, though. Or female. Bloody dwarves). We wrapped him her them up in a rag and stashed her him them in the haversack

A wand and a scroll in a case fell out of one bag, and a variety of coins and jewellery to the value of about 500gp, which will help make up the cost of what will probably be a fairly expensive repair on poor Roderick. That, and the two dwarvish axes which we scavenged from the charred remains of the two trolls, before booting them over the edge of the cliff to bounce hard all the way down.

So we cleaned up as best we could, Maul did more of her lovely healing on us, then we went back to sleep. And in the morning, Maul used a spell of “Make Whole” on Roderick, to last us until we could get him fixed. I didn’t like to say it, but while at a distance it looked ok, up close that repair was rather noticeable.
Roderick_dented.png

So in the morning, we started hiking back up the mountain, in a fairly wary state. Until we heard the sound of a large and clanky group coming down the mountain towards us. Maul gasped “Bandits!” and hauled us all into the shelter of a convenient boulder, just as I was about to greet the newcomers. In fact, the silly half-orc put her hand over my mouth so I couldn’t let her know that her “bandits” were actually a bunch of dwarves with the same symbol on as our mystery body. Luckily, the others in our party realised this, and stepped out of the overhang to greet the newcomers. Turns out our body-in-the-bag was a dwarvish fighter by the name of Rorich, who had come afoul of the trolls. Used to be there was a giant in the land, until they left or went missing or something (How in Irori’s name do you lose a giant?) and then the trolls became a bit of a problem.

So the dwarves, who had to continue on their patrol, lent us one of their number, a fighting lass called Donerik, who accompanied us back to Venarik’s Deep. She wasn’t impressed at being sent back, as she had only just been allowed to go on patrol and didn’t want to miss any of it. However, I sympathised with her, and by the time we got within sight of the granite tower, she was quite chatty. It was still quite a way to walk, so we spent the night in one of the fortresses the dwarves were building on the side of the pathway, and headed out the next morning after a fine breakfast of yet more bloody flatgoat. I vote we make it the key ingredient in a Northport competition of Iron Chef, see if any of them can make it edible.

So the secret ingredient is … flatgoat! Each chef has to create dishes that maintain the theme of the …

Fukui-san?

Yes?

I’m sorry, but both chefs have taken off their aprons and gone to the pub. They said that their honour was not a match to this ingredient, and only a madman would do it.

Hmmmm. Maybe I should ask Al to cook it instead one day. With acid. It can’t be any worse than it is.

We walked along the pathway until lunchtime, when we settled down for a nourishing and rich repast of more flatgoat. As we ate, I noticed something in the sky, that wasn’t so much flying as hurtling along. The odd tube we’d found before turned out to be some sort of spy glass, so I used it to see what the object was.

It was a sack.

A sack that was heading straight towards us!

I yelled, and we all scrambled off the road as the sack came screaming down, and exploded in a puff of chalk dust in front of us. Seems that was what they fire out of their trebuchets when they’re practising.

Weirdos. I bet we’d have been far safer if they had been aiming at us.

The walls themselves, though, are amazing in their makeup – huge stones cut in odd shapes, big as houses, and locked together by virtue of their configuration. We were met at the front gate by a dwarvish high-dude, who spoke with Denerik before thanking us for bringing their partial brother back to them. We did offer to pay our respects at the farewell ceremony, but they said bluntly that it was a Dwarvish ceremony only. Not a problem – I prefer blunt talk. Easier to understand. Denerik led us into their edifice, and to a weaponsmith, who was happy enough to take the two axes we’d taken from the trolls in exchange for fixing Roderick. They also confirmed that the weapons we’d taken off the bugbears were of their make, the sort that was shipped for the export market.

And then we headed for a quiet night (at last) in the merchant quarters. Oh, and dinner.

No prizes.

MM Used: 0 leaves 46.
CLW used: 0 leaves 45
XP: 800 – takes Mel, Al and Cog from 12317 to 13117, Maul from 11394 to 12194

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