Chapter 91 - "Theres Gold in them there hills!"

The morning arrives, and now fully stocked up with supplies, and the slaves as free and as safe as we can do at this time, we resume our quest. The headaches that have been a constant reminder of my Geas thankfully start to fade as we Windwalk back to the Temple, stopping at the first of the many Walls of Stone that myself and Carmaran cast.

Of all the power within the party, we suddenly realise that a simple stone wall prevents our movement onwards, and no one wishes to repeat Salas’s near unconsciousness attempt of repeatedly smashing himself at the wall, nor does anyone want to lose any more magical weapons – regardless of whether they where gathering dust in a cutlery drawer. And so I end up sitting on the floor, rubbing my forehead as my headache returns, while the rest of the party look stupidly about at each other, rubbing their chins.

We finally decide on another shopping trip - Rallets, Max and Snagger Windwalk back to the surface, using the excuse of "..there’s a good spot for mining a stream over yonder hills" to purchase a ton more rations, picks, shovels, and lanterns. I am not sure how they explained what gold panning stream workers wanted with 400 arrows, but I am sure it involved Rallets pirate cum yokel impersonation and more tales of gold.

Eventually with the newly purchased picks, the first wall, and then the next few have holes bashed in them big enough for us to travel through. We stop at the area of the temple where we encountered the old man Cranin, where we find the bodies of many gnomes – the dead of the watch post Carmaren told of us of earlier. While Rallets scouts the area, Max helps me drag the bodies to a pile, and over a prayer, I entomb them all within a shaped Wall of Stone as a crude Sarcophagus.

Resting here for the night, we leave the poor Gnomes across the altar untouched – the obvious chance of traps making us wary, so the evil temple desecration team sleep preparing themselves for a busy day tomorrow. The next day is spent Hallowing the area, but only after the bodies of the altar are dispelled after it is found that they where warded in some way.

Once the day long preparations are complete, and the potted plants are re-potted, we rest in the pleasant and serene surroundings, planning to head towards the Derro barricade once more.

Using Windwalk, it’s not long before we reach the barricade, but things have changed in our absence as the normally well lit corridors are in total darkness. Thinking wrongly that they ‘must have all gone home’ we more or less walk straight into a barricade of Kuo-toa, who spot us despite our wispy appearance.

We retreat back to the last corner before the barricade, become solid once more, and LotD whips out and lashes a light-stone down the corridor. The small stone lands exactly where he wants it, and as the Koa-toa who are illuminated watch the stone clatter near them with their large swivelling eyes, they don’t see the red pin point of light until the last moment.

Robbie’s impressive Fireball blast lights up far more than the stone could, and around a dozen fish-men can be seen, as well as a single Illithid, all of them abruptly masked by more flames as a Fireball from Agador drops on them.

The rest of the party move into a position ready for attacking the barricade, while another thrown lightstone reveals the host of the barricade charging at us. Agador and Robbie’s cacophonous elemental attacks blast the area, with Fireball and Ice Storm causing 8 of the fish-men to drop. I fly towards the Illithid, but he disappears before I am anywhere near him, so I land amongst the Koa-toa and Castigate them instead. Only one drops, but now only two of the very largest Koa-toa remain standing, and both of those are burnt, frozen and bleeding from the ears. A few of Beards large ballista arrows take down the first, and between myself and Max the final one drops amongst the other dead fish-men.

We move quickly into the Derro lair with Beard on point, and he flies up the main corridor deliberately setting off the slow trap. Almost immediately burning pitch is poured through the hole, but Beard has moved on, and the pitch splashes the walls and floor beneath the hidden murder holes. We start to become corporal, just as Derro and Kua-toa start to run towards us, and included amongst their number are several robed savants.

Rallets, as one of the first out of the Windwalk, fires a quarrel, but the stasis field directly under the murder holes stops the bolt in mid air, just as the rest of us emerge from the mist into a barrage of fire as a multitude of spells are concentrated in our area. Agador drops to the floor looking in a very bad way, and Max moves quickly to lay of hands upon him – just as I cast an Anti-Magic Shield to cover us all.

Beard, who was just outside the blast area, Dimension Door’s into the murder room above us, fully armed and ready to take vengeance upon those stupid enough to try to pour pitch on him. Below another salvo of magical attacks are harmlessly deflected by my shield, to which I quickly utter an additional prayer to Gorm as the only one who would have survived this blast would have been Rallets, looking far too smugly at his very burnt colleagues.

Back to the tar room, the five Derro are confronted with Beard, who looks far more respectable than the last time they saw him, but no less dangerous. With his head scrubbed of the black dye that he worn for so long, his hair and beard combed, groomed and glistening with Soul Glow, he looks every inch an ambassador of the Gold Dwarven people.

With a sly grin, he back hands the nearest Derro into the wall with his spiked club, who falls onto a table scattering jars and tools. The other Derro drop the barrels that they are holding and look about for something to arm themselves with, but Beard is in their way. The next two Derro die quickly, the punishing blows leaving them amongst the broken barrels, blood mixing into the spilt pitch pooling on the floor.

Everyone is sticking close to me within the confines of the spell, while the Derro behind us are held at bay by their own stasis field. Glancing behind me, the section of corridor is filled with dozens of quarrels obviously fired by their ballista machine, but all hanging in the air. Staying next to me means moving at my normal speed – which when the corner of the corridor is over 100 feet away, feels agonizingly slow.

The remaining two Derro with Beard run, but neither get anywhere near safety, and Beard steps over the dead moustachioed Dwarves and saunters down the slope. Our luck finally runs out, as we are about 50’ away from the corner when the clatter of many quarrels hitting the floor behind us indicates the stasis field has finished. Agador suddenly falls forward, a small cry escaping his lips as he stumbles into my back before slipping sideways to the floor. I can only afford a quick glance at the fallen wizard, but I can see the reason for his collapse, a bolt protruding from the base of Agador’s skull, the point of the quarrel not quite penetrating the skin of his throat on its way out.

As Agador was at the rear, he falls out of the protective field, but I have to continue onwards to get the others to the corner. Shouting out that I will look after Agador in a minute, the rest of the party hit the shelter of the corner, and I turn to cast Insect Swarm on the Derro. I then fly and land next to Agadors corpse, while Sword Spiders, who had rushed forward to grab a prone figure, pause long enough for me to fly off with him.

Passing the dead Wizard to Robbie, I start to Summon an Archon, too wrapped in the casting to notice Robbie removing the ‘one ring’ from the still warm Agador. A Hound Archon, who rolls his eyes as he is given the moniker ‘Shep’ asks what is required. Telling him "Evil casters beyond the insect cloud, attack them" he disappears, teleporting directly amongst them – and then gets banished immediately as the 5 Derro casters turn as one and destroy him with Magic Missile’s.

I move back to the spiders, killing the first of them, while Beard who has slipped into the insects, steps out the other side and takes bead on the Illithid who is currently whispering something to a Derro warrior. Beard shots him twice, the second of the arrows taking the octopus headed creature straight in the face, pole-axing him to the floor.

Retribution for this act comes quickly, but Beard is prepared, and the hail of Magic Missile are harmlessly dissipated by his Spell Immunity, and the follow up Lightning Bolts are described by Beard later as ‘skilfully avoided by my cheesy dancing’ – but was probably just Spell Immunity as well. The last spell that hits him was Dispell Magic, which strips him of a few useful spells including Windwalk.

While I fight the last spider, Robbie appears and fires a well aimed long range shot hitting the beast as it rears up to attack me. Unfortunately the spider finds one last well placed strike before my axe finishes it, as the sword leg spears my side, opening a viscous wound. Combined with the damage already sustained, my Spell Phylactery is set off, triggering a Cure Serious Wounds scroll upon me.

Seeing no enemy, and a wall of insects blocking the corridor, the spell could have been called a waste, but who knows what the next few seconds could bring? I doubt poor Agador expected a badly crafted crossbow bolt could end his life in the manner that it did, so I thank the scroll and check behind me to make sure the others are ok.

The cloud before me moves, and I see the familiar shape of Beard emerge, swatting bugs and freeing trapped insects from his gelled hair. Telling me that his Windwalk has gone, he climbs into his hankie and before it closes, asks me to carry him out. Flying to the others, we all retreat back to the Temple to recount the day’s exploits.

The next day sees Agador raised, and while he rests, I attempt to make Robbie a new bow. This takes me a little while, and soon I am proudly showing my handiwork to all, while pushing all the broken bits of other bows (including one marked ‘Rallets’) into a handy hole with my foot. Sendings are sent to Carmaren detailing the temporary tomb, the temple and our recent exploits, and then our planning for ‘what do we do now?’ begins once more.

Another day, and our idea’s are set – everyone has there places, knows the plan, and understands their role – what could possibly go wrong? – No, don’t answer that.

Beard Windwalks back to the Derro lair, and while Invisible, flies around the lair looking for a spot to release his little package. Soon he thinks he is ready – a large room at the end of the lair and past the slow trap contains many Derro, some resting, while others are chatting amongst themselves or playing dice.

Beard finds a spot near a few chests, and opens his portable hole as a signal for us to get ready for the battle. The hole is closed again, and so we start to cast those last few short duration spells, before it is opened again for us to start flying out - two by two like some of Noah’s more unusual animals. Rallets and Max are the last to leave, as they are ground based, and the Derro so far are unsuspecting of the assault to come.

The fliers are hovering in position, and Beard, leading the assault, waits for the few seconds he has allowed Max to get closer to the targets. With everyone being Invisible, Beard relies on instinct to know when Max is ready, although he does have a helping hand as one of the Derro groups stops their chat to listen out for something. Max, about 30 feet away, is very conscious of his armour, and despite taking as many precautions as possible - a few rags stuck in the louder sections of his plate mail, he stops and watches as the single Derro who has stood is peering in his general direction.

Dwere-her glances up from his abysmal dice roll to wonder what Fairace is doing peering over at the chests, but seeing him sit back down once more and resuming his eating, turns back to his warrior entourage who are busy clapping themselves on the back as they have managed once again to fleece their Savant once more of coin.

Another quick glance over to Danyale who is trying to keep his ridiculous blue robes from becoming too dirty, and laughing at something one of his personal guard has said – probably at the death of one of the invaders from the other day. Dwere-her smiles to himself, he rewarded his man Hytergy very well for the superb shot which felled the Elven Wizard, just a pity the spiders could not have gathered him back to examine him closer.

While he waited for his next roll, Dwere-her wondered when the next guard change would come – he had been holed up here for two months now, and preferred the City’s luxuries easily over the stench and squalor of these cave systems. He had to admit that the hunting was exceptionally good, the invaders where very good at keeping all the Derro posted here on their toes. The posting was not without risk though – the invaders had a tendancy to burn quite a lot of everything, there was the demon with the claws, the demon with the club, the one that shouts a lot….he smiled again as he realised that they would all make exceptional trophies.

Dwere-her rolled the dice again, and laughed loudly when they all turn up as Green Goblets. The warrior next to him groans and shakes his head, and Dwere-her slaps him on the back and drinks deeply from his flagon. Slaming his cup down, he gathers the coin and that’s when Beards arrow takes him in the shoulder. The force of the arrow moves him backwards against the wall, the gold coins scattering and spinning from the Savants hand. The next arrow is Robbie’s, which flies to take Dwere-her in the chest, a ragged gasp emitting from his mouth, and his head rocks back to strike the wall. Dazed, Dwere-her tries to mumble a spell, but this is lost as Agadors arrow tears through the cheek, pinning him to the wall. Dwere-her can only glance downwards due to the angle of the arrow, his breath ragged, vision blurring and as he closes his eyes for the last time, his eyes rest on the dice, still showing Green Goblets amongst the spilt food and coin.

Rallets becomes visible as his thrown dagger hits another surprised Savant in the arm, making him drop his weapon, and then Disco Danny and his guards are bathed in Holy flame as a Flame Strike covers them, leaving only the Blue robed Derro and four corpses when the flames disappear.

With as many people as possible buffed to the hilt, as well as Hasted, we are all very prepared. Disco Danny seems as though he is the first to react to what has just happened, but Agador once more is quickest off the mark, and calmly and coolly slots 2 arrows into the burnt leader, who drops amongst his guards. Agadors final shot hits another of the remaining casters, who then has the misfortune to be targeted by Beards ballista arrows, and drops without mumbling a single word.

The Derro casters are next to react. They have just enough time to register that their leader, his personal guard, and two more of there Savant brothers have been slain as they stand to cast a few spells. The first dispels Beards bow, while the other two Blur themselves, just as my Flame Strike covers one of the Blurred casters and his guards. When the flames are gone, more guards lie dead, but the caster looks at himself, and then directly at me and smiles when he realises that the flames didn’t even touch him.

I ignore the daggered glances from Beard as it seems another caster has gotten away from my wroth, and watch the Savant with the wounded arm hit by three of Robbie’s arrows, causing him to drop to the floor. Rallets has un-slung his bow and shoots another, trying to get into position so that he can strike at his targets vital points, while the still invisible Max charges through some startled Derro warriors to slash the face of the caster nearest to him.

The Derro warriors start to get up and ready their weapons and shields, but have a small problem as the majority of their enemy flying, so they turn to face Rallets and the black plated Paladin instead. Most of the attacks are directed at Max, who has shown no manners at all by slipping through their ranks, and is close enough to be hit by lots of warriors. A few blows hit, but don’t slow either of them, not even when Max’s caster panics and lightning blasts everyone in the paladins path, including Derro and the spiders behind him.

The two spiders, despite having statically charged fur thanks to the stray bolt, are still well enough to attack Rallets, while I redeem myself for my earlier transgression by landing next to the smiling Savant and Castigating him and his guards. The word of Gorm claims another 8 Derro, and the casters smile has turned to a silent scream as blood pours from his eyes and ears and he topples amongst his men.

A spray of blood splashing the wall indicates Max has claimed another, the caster falling to his knees trying to hold his throat together as the guards on either side of him push past the dying Derro to strike out with their half spears. It’s now obvious why Max wears black as the amount of blood letting that happens when he is around would be quite dreadful to clean on armour of any other colour.

Robbie has started alternating between humming a tune and laughing, as he strikes a dandy pose and shoots down a spider - a fine attack first taking out one of the legs, while the next two hit head and abdomen with pin point accuracy, causing the spider to slam into the floor.

The third spider, one not damaged from his own casters leaps up into the air, and gathers all of his legs together landing with a punishing strike on Max. The large spider knocks Max to the floor, and he scrabbles upwards with many puncture wounds, while looking a bit woozy. Beard shoots down another spider, while three massive axe strikes from me chop the last spider to the floor, fluid spilling from its oversized abdomen.

The guards, some of whom where only just moving into attack, decide to run instead, but flee into Robbie’s Sleet storm instead which he has targeted on the only exit in this cavern. The last of the Derro, now numbering 6, stop, drop their weapons, and kneel with arms raised. The room is searched, and at last the more materialist members of the party have some cash to swell their coffers, as the chests are found to contain coin, as well as potions, and a few magical items such as wands and rings as well.

For handing out some ballista arrows
For the killing blow on Danny
As Rallets
For Castigating those around him
For his planning skills
As Rallets