The Friday Knights
Session 21- Witch way to Thunderspire.
Once again another change of personnel, life intrudes some more on our ability to game.
In play this week we have-
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 5
Farkill, Dwarven Priest of Moradin Level 4
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 5
Lucan, Elven Rogue Level 5
Rock, Dwarven Fighter Level 4
[DM Interlude- yep, Rock's back and Aeolace is gone again- don't ask me, I only DM the game.]
The Knights head along the darkened passage to a chink of light, as quietly as they can, with Lucan out in front- through the half-open door the young Elven Rogue spies five Hobgoblins, one robed, four Soldiers, all menacing a Halfling- must be Randall Halfmoon. Beside Randall, on the floor is a sack... no, the sack has legs, an unconscious form- the cloaked mysterious friend of Randall's from the Inn.
Lucan relays the news.
Coarse laughter and guttural voices cause the Knights to collectively inch forward to the door- peer within. To see for themselves.
A rough voiced Hobgoblin, speaking Common, says, “You’re ours now, halfling.”
“We’ll easily get ten gold for you!” another Hobgoblin responds:
“That’s a shame, ’cause I’m worth twenty. I’ll buy myself if you let me go.” Randall grins.
The Knights like him already.
Less than thirty seconds later the four Hobgoblin Soldiers are dead, the last one dies attempting to get away, Lucan's dagger does the trick- the Elven Rogue has yet to enter the chamber.
Mid-fracas Randall gets away from his captors and swings into action, the Knights like him all the more, particularly when he manages to trip the robed Hobgoblin.
[DM Interlude- this week, lots of pictures.]
Look who's back.
The robed Hobgoblin, a Warcaster, blubbers a little and begs for his life to be spared- he's pumped for information.
It turns out, to no-one's surprise, the Hobgoblins are Bloodreavers, they hold sway in the Seven Pillared Hall- they receive orders from their command located in the Chamber of Eyes- they're slavers.
None of this information wins him any friends.
Rock smashes him down.
[DM Interlude Encounter #74 [800 XP = Level 2] Hobgoblin Soldier x4 (Level 3 Soldier) & Hobgoblin Warcaster (Level 4 Controller).]
Then the robed figure, the mysterious companion of Randall, reveals himself... to groans, and worse.
“I am back”, Splug swirls his cloak about him, disappears within its voluminous folds, re-emerges brandishing a rusty looking shortsword- thrust heavenwards.
“Cur (like Sir) Splug, Champion of the Raven Queen, Deathbringer- I laugh in the face of misfortune - certain that I will live until the day I die, at which time I will stand at my lady's side. I...”
“What happened to the Marxist thing?” Lucan enquires, and instantly wishes he hadn't.
“Marx was a thunk-head- we share only one fate, there is written but one end to all our stories...”
Cathal kicks Splug, Rock grabs him up and shakes him, Farkill punches the Goblin in the face.
“You can't... I'm a Paladin... I... I've never... Death's coming to get you- I'm gonna tell her where you live!” Splug splutters, and is dropped hard onto the stone floor of the chamber.
The Knights, and Randall move off, having already searched the Bloodreaver corpses.
“I've been wanting to do that for ages.” Randall adds looking back at the dishevelled Goblin.
Splug scurries after the Knights, one hand clutching the hilt of his holy Flaming (not actually Flaming though, or Holy for that matter) sword- Bent'ass.
Silently, under-his-breath, and in a language the Knights don't understand, he swears he will have his revenge.
The Knights venture on, another mile or so of the great passage, to the Seven Pillared Hall, en route Randall prepares them for what lies ahead.
Explains that the Hall is run by, or was run by, the Mages of Saruun, a bunch of mystics that defend the place from harm, and tax the inhabitants for their services, and make the rules- and seemingly move around the Hall invisibly.
He tells them also about Brugg, a heavy handed Ogre who works for the Mages, keeps the peace within the Hall when the Mages are not about.
And lastly about the Bloodreavers, although this new turn of events is beyond his understanding, the last time Randall was in the Hall- some three months back, the Bloodreavers made their fortune as nothing more than bandits. They ventured into the Hall only to re-supply, or else sell what items they had managed to locate in their nefarious activities. A mixture of Goblinoids and Humans, it seems things have changed in the Seven Pillared Hall.
Duly educated the Knights enter the Hall.
The Custom House.
Ahead is the custom house, but first things first- oh look, there's a very large Ogre, and some ruffians in tow. It must be...
“Brugg.” Randall whispers.
The Knights enter the Hall in dribs-and-drabs, that is to say a couple at a time, or else singularly- giving varying reasons for their arrival.
From Rock's “I'm the new Postman”, to Lucan's “I'm Dangerous.”
Only Cathal has a problem, he's not that good at lying, and not fond of it either, which makes it all the harder for him to do.
“State 'cher business?” A ragtag Guard barks.
“I have come to rid this dank pit of hell from the foetid grip of the noisome slavers, the Bloodreaver scum.” Cathal states, and then attempts a weak smile.
“Don't listen to him.” Randall quickly chimes in, arresting the Guards motion towards Brugg the Ogre.
“Insurance salesman.” Randall states and shudders.
The guard spits and lets Cathal past.
The welcoming committee.
The Knights saunter over to the Halfmoon Inn where they are treated right royally by the Halfmoon family. Randall tells his tale of high adventure, and his rescue by the Knights- soon enough they have supped and dined and are very ready for a constitutional, to see the sights of the Hall.
Randall bids them farewell for a little while, and suggests they try to keep their weapons sheathed- it seems the Hall is home to quite a number of Bloodreavers, Randall will have more news when he has discovered for himself what exactly is going on here.
Happy hour at the Halfmoon Inn.
Ulthand Deepgem, of the Deepgem Mining Company, is first to receive a visit, the Knights chat a while, particularly Rock and Farkill, happy to see a fellow Dwarf. Eventually the conversation hushes and Ulthand asks a favour-
“It's Mr. Slash see, he's gone missing in the Labyrinth, and... well I miss 'im. If you see 'im...”
“Mr. Slash?” Rock asks.
“He's my Boar- I rides him all the time, only he's wandered off. I was just sayin' if yer in the Labyrinth and yer spot 'im. Well, I'll be ever-so grateful, oh I miss 'im so...”
The stout Dwarf Ulthand collapses across his desk, and sniffs a while- Farkill and Rock stand silent, exchanging worried looks.
“MR. SLASH.” Ulthand screams, and flails in a blue-funk.
The Knights make their excuses, Rock and Farkill promising to keep an eye out for the wandering Mr. Slash.
Ulthand pines for his Dire Boar- Mr. Slash. It takes all sorts to make a world.
Next stop Bersk the Wainwright, who does a nice side-line in mounts and the like-
“Psst! Wanna buy a Lizard? One careful owner- taxed and insured. Low mileage, six 'undred crowns, practically givin' 'im away?”
The Knights examine the various creatures on offer, Ignaran checks each creature's teeth- the farmers do it at the cattle market, he figures it's the polite thing to do.
“'Ow 'bout a Giant Ant- lovely runner, off road- no problem; do anything for a cup of sugar the lad. I'll knock a ton off the asking price on account of 'is missing leg?”
The Knights decline and move on.
Bersk, 2nd hand Ant salesman.
On to the Temple of the Hidden Light, proprietor Phaledra, Halfling Priestess of Erathis, and that's more like it. The Halfling spies the Knights for what they are instantly- they make another friend, and tell a little of their story.
The Halfling promises to keep her ear to the ground, says she will arrange a meeting later in the day at the Halfmoon Inn, invite others within the Hall that are desperate to see the back of the Bloodreavers. She also pledges to use her skills to further the Knights' cause, Cathal leaves in a much better mood.
Phaledra of Erathis- a friend indeed.
The Knights nose around the market, buy trail rations and restock the incidentals that make life on the road bearable. Nothing strange to report.
“Paaaand a fungi- stalks or caps love?”
Eventually they wend their way round to Gendar the Drow Merchant's establishment, the Drow Merchant turns out to be a Drow? Much to the Knights ire- they are loathe to hand over Nimozaran's package.
“A Drow?” Rock and Farkill conclude, in unison.
“I am Gendar the Drow, purveyor of fine goods and antiquities. How may I serve you mighty Lords?” Gendar replies with a flourish.
“A Drow?” Rock and Farkill concur, in unison.
“Can we not move beyond the petty stereotypes, I think perhaps that humanoids of all races have at one time or another have perpetrated terrible acts. Besides, it would be wrong of you to simply judge a book by its cover?”
“A Drow?” Rock, Farkill and Cathal agree, in unison.
“If you prick me do I not bleed...” Gendar begins.
“Let's put that to the test shall we?” Lucan speaks at last.
The conversation circles for a good hour, going nowhere fast.
Gendar gives the Knights the finger.
That is, until the Drow simply states that he can, on occasion, lay his hands on magical and enchanted items, at which point the Knights start to pay attention.
Nimozaran's box is handed over, the Drow hands a similar box back- to return to Nimozaran, he also asks if the Knights would be interested in a little paid employment- Cathal is about to do his righteous indignation thing when Lucan elbows him into silence.
Gendar, it seems, is on the look out for three items that are 'lost' in the Labyrinth-
The first, the Crown of a Dwarven Clan Lord, stolen away by a mad Dwarf who attempted to seize the throne of said Clan- Thain Cardanas. Farkill and Rock ask pointed questions, and receive blunt but reasonable answers, they're persuaded to believe the Drow- he will see the Crown returned to its rightful owner (with his usual commission of course) should the Knights locate it.
Second, a Skull-topped Rod, the item was bound for the Seven Pillared Hall when those transporting it were waylaid by a bunch of vicious Duergar- the Knights will look into this. Gendar goes on to explain that the Rod is a symbol of leadership for the Blackhand Orcs, an Underdark Orc tribe- very war-like.
Lastly, a large crystal, not magical, but useful- it is said to be located in a section of the Labyrinth known as the Court of Bones, although Gendar's not certain what previous purpose this place served.
Lucan agrees prices, and shuffles out, warily the other Knights follow.
Thank you! Come again.
Voyage of discovery over, the Knights make their way back to the Halfmoon Inn, and a few hours later, after the Inn is shut at closing time, are in a meeting- a secret meeting, of sorts. Present are a good dozen of the inhabitants of the Seven Pillared Hall, and in fine voice at present is Noristo Azaer, a Tiefling, and of the Azaer Trading Company.
“How can we be sure of them? You're too eager to trust, no offence... “, Noristo motions to the Knights, “but prove it. Then we'll trust you- help you.”
“How?” Cathal asks.
There follows several minutes of whispered discussions, a brief vote- seemingly, and then Noristo's back.
“There's a Witch, she lives high in the mountain- Denoa, she's a Shadar-kai, she keeps a pair of Gargoyles, they watch out for easy targets on the road- merchants and travellers, she robs them, or kills them, or both. Anyway- find her and...”, Noristo gulps, “kill her.”
Many of the Seven Pillared Hall folk present pointedly nod.
“We kill the Witch and you'll trust us?” Cathal wants to get things clear.
“Not only that, but we'll reward you- 100 gold coins each for proof of her demise- what say you?”
Lucan shoves his way into the proceedings, clasps Noristo's hand, and shakes it hard- “deal.”
And so after more food and drink, and a full night's rest, the Knights awake, and with Terrlen Darkseeker, their appointed guide, head out of the Seven Pillared Hall and into the Labyrinth proper.
[DM Interlude- if I was running this scenario again I would make every journey out into the Labyrinth necessitate a Skill Challenge, random monsters the price for failures.]
Several hours into the arduous journey, stumbling through chambers that all look alike, particularly in the semi-dark.
“I tell ya, this Labyrinth's a bloody maze.” Farkill states without a hint of irony.
Several more hours later Terrlen suddenly comes to a halt, the Knights concertina.
“Something ahead... listen.” Terrlen states.
“I can't... Oh yeah.” Ignaran confirms.
“Flapping?” Lucan adds.
“Take a look then.” Cathal finishes and stares at the Elven Rogue.
Muttering under his breath, Lucan heads forward, the cavern passage splits- north or east, Lucan can hear, scratch that, see- two human sized creatures grapple and squabble mid-flight, although perhaps only a few feet off the ground. The place stinks of death- Lucan watches a while longer and then creeps back.
The Knights plump for their tried and tested tactic (singular).
“Charge!” Cathal leads the foray.
The creatures turn out to be a pair of Rotwing Zombies, one of which is decapitated by Rock in the opening exchange, the second creature flutters towards the ceiling and yells and shrieks- inhuman sounds.
“What's he...” Ignaran asks and almost immediately gets his answer.
Three more Rotwing Zombie swoop in from the northern passage, the Knights are effectively surrounded.
Cathal, Farkill and Rock cut down the shrieking Rotwing.
And now the Knights are not surrounded- things change round here pretty fast.
It gets worse for the Rotwings, in short time the flying menaces are no more, and the Knights are face to face with a wild-haired figure, clearly Undead-
“I am Az'Al'Bani, wanderer of the Halls, I search for the Court of Bones.” Az'Al'bani, the Deathlock Wight lisps.
The Knights collectively shrug and shoot disgusted glances at each other- they then press the attack, the Deathlock Wight is quickly very bloodied, only Cathal is wounded in the exchange, although the numbing cold of the Wight's touch leaves him disorientated, and hurting deep inside.
“I gift you this key... If you will only spare my life.” The Wight displays a key, seemingly made of silver, and yet fashioned from some large creatures shin bone.
There follows a short meeting- the Knights hurriedly whisper- deciding the forlorn Wight's fate.
“Couldn't we just kill him and take the key?” Lucan states.
Which is the catalyst for a host of cocky grins.
Thirty seconds later Ignaran is examining the silver shin bone key, while Az'Al'Bani lies motionless on the floor, never to roam the Labyrinth again.
Dead meat flying.
[DM Interlude Encounter #75 [1200 XP = Level 5] Zombie Rotwing x5 (Level 5 Skirmisher) & Az'Al'Bani, Deathlock Wight (Level 5 Controller).]
[DM Interlude- during the fracas Lucan, or rather Jack who plays Lucan has to leave in a rush, and so Lucan is no longer in play. Fortunately Splug, who has been following the Knights at what he thought to be a safe distance, is spotted- he rushes into combat and joins our happy gang.]
And so in play we have now-
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 5
Farkill, Dwarven Priest of Moradin Level 4
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 5
Rock, Dwarven Fighter Level 4
Splug, Goblin Paladin of the Raven Queen Level 1
[DM Interlude- what do you know, Splug now has enough XP to advance to Level 2, after an extended rest.]
The key is hidden away, Cathal barks, and Terrlen leads on- for what seems to be hours, and which is in fact hours and hours.
“Are we there yet?” Farkill whines, to which the answer is...
“Yes.” Terrlen nods ahead, there's light, or rather a lighter dark- the passage opens out, as in to the outside, a stone stair leads up to rough two storey squat stone building, which clings to the side of the mountain and looks down on to the road to Thunderspire below.
“Oh.” Farkill nods, “good.”
Break for a plan- the Knights connive a while, then this is how it goes.
Rock strides up the last few stairs, to a stone door, the other Knights scurry into concealment after.
Silence for a while, Rock looks back at his companions- shrugs his shoulders, is about to knock again, when...
“Who is it?” The voice is female and the wrong side of ancient.
“Mail man. Special delivery from the Seven Pillared Hall. You need to sign for it.”
“Yes, yes. Hang on- I'm not dressed.”
Sounds from the inside, Rock presses his ear against the stone door- nothing distinct.
Eventually the sound of a bolt being drawn back, a pale wizened woman appears at the gap in the door- looks Rock up and down.
“You don't look like a mail man?”
“Special delivery- special mail man, can't be too careful, it's dangerous out here.” Rock replies and smirks.
[DM Interlude- it's at this point that Rock rolls an adjusted 13 on his Bluff check, and curses; then I roll an unadjusted '1'.]
“You'd better come in then dearie...” Denoa, the Shadar-kai Witch, opens the door.
Which proves to be a fatal mistake- the Knights, all of them, actions readied, rush in- or worse.
Less than ten seconds later Denoa is retreating and already badly injured, her Iron Defenders, Fritz & Shultz, leap in front of her to protect her from the Knights.
All of the Knights are in the chamber, which is small and orderly- a cluttered desk, a made bed, a chest, a lit fire, a set of stairs leading to the chamber above, and a stone balcony with what looks to be a superb view of the valley bellow.
Out of the corner of his eye Cathal spots a ghostly black dog, and then it's gone- the Shadow Hound reappears behind the Knights and bays- a terrible loathsome sound that sends fear and dread into all that hear it- Farkill, Ignaran and Splug shut the beast up in a little over ten seconds, but not before it has taken a chunk out of Lucan.
Denoa bathes Rock with a dark ray, the Dwarf stumbles and swats at his face, unable to see anything more than ten feet away- he takes his frustration out on Fritz, Cathal joins him, and the first Iron Defender is battered beyond recognition in double quick time.
Soon after, the second Iron Defender also bites the dirt, but not before Cathal has also been hurt by the Shadar-kai's dark ray.
Which just leaves... Oh hang on.
Alighting on the stone balcony over the far side of the chamber are the pair of Gargoyles the Knights hid from on the road- Betty and Bobby, Denoa coos their names.
The gruesome stone twosome swoop into the fracas, just as Denoa surrounds herself in a thick impenetrable (by sight) bank of shadow.
The fight wears on, the Gargoyles are more than a match for the Knights- Cathal, Rock and Farkill are quickly bloodied; Farkill has to step back and provide what healing he can to stem the tide.
Finally Ignaran, once again in Bear form, breaks the line and gets up close and personal with Denoa, the Shadar-kai Shadow Jaunts, teleports away and becomes insubstantial, and still it's not enough, particularly as she was pretty badly beaten up already.
Soon enough the Shadar-kai lies dead, which serves as a cue for the Gargoyles to make for the exit- bruised and battered, the stony pair make escape.
The Knights catch their breath.
[DM Interlude Encounter #76 [1800 XP = Level 8] Iron Defender x2 (Level 4 Soldier); Shadow Hound (Level 7 Skirmisher); Gargoyles x2 (Level 9 Lurkers) & Denoa, Shadar-kai Witch (Level 8 Controller). Nice combat, the Knights pulled out some whopping rolls- with lots of damage, no actual crits but very close to max damage on occasion, and Gargoyles- they don't die quickly, very dependable from a DMs perspective.]
The Knights find some petty treasures- coin and valuables, but more importantly, after rifling through Denoa's papers on her desk, they discover a thick tome which seems to show that the Shadar-kai was working for a Duergar called... the Grimmerzhul?
“There's something else going on here.” Cathal states, and bundles up the tome for later perusal.
Rock decapitates the Shadar-kai Witch for good measure- and to provide proof of the Knights' success. Search completed, no stone left unturned, the Knights- having spent ten or more hours reaching the Witch's lair, settle in for the night.
And there they rest, undisturbed.
That brings an end to the 21st session, between them the Knights have mustered 12,900 experience points.
Next week... More.