Perfectly Legitimate Adventuring Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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A Story About Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued from here

Keeping out the Nasties.
=====

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

And I just looked at my crossbow.

My Masterwork Crossbow.

More like a Manglework Light Crossbow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incoming!
==

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

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

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

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

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

“Encumbered!”

“Cogcumbered!”

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

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

“Does that make these guys the Embalmy Army?”

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

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

Breakout!
=====

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

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

And the block was a whole half-inch up.

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

“If I could put Ooze in a bottle…”

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

“OI! WATCH IT!”

SORRY!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maul swung.

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

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

Maul: Down-wight nasty.

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

Meanwhile, my little bow sproinged and missed again.

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

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

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

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

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

At. Fucking. Last.

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

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

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

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

Those others including:

Of our brave and noble party:

Melisande Mel the Mighty, warrior of great might.

Almaz, mighty sorceress, wielder of scary magicks

Mauldrit, Beloved of Nimbus, She of the Mighty Blows

Our Dwarvish companions on this fight:

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

Captain Dorria, Paladin, Leader, wise and fierce fighter

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

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

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

  • Introduction*
    ===
    Walkers__Abbey_lower_level.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • On the way*
    ======

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

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

“Try not to react.”

A slight nod

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

“Rorick”

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

“Your sister Denerik is with us.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clank

Rukhsul menu!!!

Thud

Oh hell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh.

Wights.

Crap.

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

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

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

“Silent but deadly!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I had only once chance.

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

My crossbow.

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

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

Just.

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

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

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

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

Next Chapter: Battle Phase 2 – Raising the Door.

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Party Loot - the list
Will be updated when necessary

Anyone can edit, but please update the date when you do.

As at 23 May 2016

Shared Party Equipment
Handy Haversack (Currently carried by Wallace)
Potion of True Strike
2223gp

Wand of Magic Missile (with Al) at 46 charges
Wand of Cure Light Wounds (with Mauldrit ) 45 charges
12 × Holy Water
8 x Tanglefoot
8 x Alchemists fire
Brass bound horn of Fog
Lady Elamnea owes us a favour and 600gp

From latest fights

5000gp = 1000 gp each plus 997 to Party Loot (remaining 3gp for rounding up totals below)

Item
Adamantine Great Axe, 1510 (to Maul)
set of full plate +1, 825 (to Mel)
+1 spiked chain, 1112 (Sell)
+1 breastplate, 675 (Sell)
Headband of inspired wisdom +2. 2000 (To Maul)
MW Heavy Metal shield 85 (Sell)

Plus 3gp from PL = total 6460

Quarter Share 1615

Shared

Al gets 1615gp + 1000gp = 2615
Cogs gets 1615 gp plus 1000gp = 2615
Mel gets +1 full plate plus 790gp plus 1000pg = 1790gp + 825 = 2615
Maul gets Great Axe and Headband (3510) and 1000gp = owes PL 895 which she paid immediately.

Cogs wipes his debt (400+450+450 = 1300) and has 1315gp left! YAY
Cogs pays Maul 400gp. Maul owes PL 495pg. Maul repays that immediately and is debt free.
Cogs pays Mel 450gp. So Mel gets (in cash) 2240 gp
Cogs pays Al 450 gp. So Al gets 3065gp

Then MAUL borrows 200gp from Party Loot.
-—————————————————————————————————
Current XP – after 24/5
Mel, Al and Cog – 23 737 xp
Maul – 23 464 xp

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Break-out and break-in

As we arrived at the prison and opened the door, we found it… still guarded. Which was a bit disappointing, to be honest – we were rather that hoping all those dwarves, wights and zombies we’d already dealt with had been everyone (except those manning – dwarfing? – the ballistae).

So… guards. Including another wight! Poor Mel copped three hits and three negative levels. The only thing on the increase was our collective hatred for undead. But we did finally overcome them, and then freed the prisoners. Using the cover of mist and silence, we returned to the other side and the gate room. The prisoners were tired, but nevertheless they got on the winches. At that point, the 87D was 4.5 inches up (give or take). It was going to be a while before even a dwarf could get underneath. Denerik got on the speaking tube to talk to the main force and tell them what was happening.

While ten of the prisoners take the winches, the others scavenged the dead dwarves for armour and shields and weapons, so they’d be ready to help out if we needed to defend our position.

Meanwhile, Al lay down for a nap in case things took a while (and because she always feels more comfortable with some decent spells up her sleeves). The Abbey occupants kept thumping on the doors with sledgehammers, which did make it hard to sleep.

Eventually, without much in the way of sleep, Al decided to take up a position overlooking the door to the main stores, with a heavy crossbow and a pot of giant spider venom. Cog positioned himself by the door (which was now looking very much the worse for wear) ready with sneaky attacking and alchemist’s fire.

But no sooner did the door begin to break, and some zombies come through the door, than the whole area went dark.

Eltoo was blinded, and then whacked by a wight. Indeed, a lot of things happened in the dark, which Al did not see at the time. Nevertheless, Al managed to interrupt two spells with literal shots-in-the-dark. Al was herself hit twice with crossbow bolts, after which she decided to lie low.

At this point, the outer 87D was 1.5 feet up, and we heard spell-casting from outside the 87D, followed by what sounded like a group of chipmunks giving a war cry: mass reduce person! In rushed the miniaturised main force under the 87D, and on into our gate room.

With that, the overwhelming advantage was ours… and so, in due course, was the Abbey. It took several hours to mop up the remaining Abbey forces, and there were a number of casualties (including – unsurprisingly – the sergeant).

In the ensuing search of the fortress, a journal was discovered!

Torva, however, was not found… perhaps he had gone off exploring.

The dwarves were very grateful to us for helping, but they were also a bit uncomfortable about outsiders having led the invasion. The abbot asked us to accept a geas never to reveal what happened – or the nature of the defences – to anyone outside the party.

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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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