Chapter Four

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Day Three, late morning.

 

With the Dragon subdued once more, it is double and triple checked against its bonds and the gag securely fixed to ensure that the biting or breath attacks from earlier are not repeated. The broken door is then picked up by the hearty lads; the Barbarian, Paladin, Fighter and Cleric, while the rest of us watch out for more Goblins or other attacks.

 

I say that, but rather than looking outward, most of us slowly turn to look at each other, all suddenly stricken with the same thought. Dragons are not only revered for their frightening presence and deadly combat, but also known for their treasure horde….

 

We do not even make it out of the room before the Dragon on the door is half dropped onto a pile of broken chairs and rubble as we all dash to the back of the room and have a scout around looking for goodies.

 

It seems the forthright Paladin has the best treasure finding related investigative skills as he is the one to find the Dragon’s nest, some coin, a box and a scroll mixed in with various bedding materials.  

 

Fiddler checks for traps on the box, finding nothing. This does not set him at ease however, so ensuring nothing bad is going to happen, he takes all manner of over the top precautions, starting out by being thirty feet away from the object. He then uses Mage hand to open the box from behind a pile of rubble that he first measures to ensure the appropriate level of cover, and with barely one eye exposed, he flicks his wrist to control the ghostly appendage to open the box to find it contains eight translucent beads.

 

The mere thought of being frightened of everything related to your chosen profession is quite frankly, a ludicrous situation to be in. Why pray tell, what if I was frightened of setting people on fire? It’s preposterous I tell you.

 

I have a good mind to mock him for his lack of bravery, and certainly would do so if I was not also was behind the same cover he was, with even less of myself exposed as the lid opens.  

 

With time ticking, we have to make a hard decision, so rather than search for more stuff, which will take a lot longer in this debris scattered area, we head out, deciding to come back later. The Sleeping Dragon actually staying asleep is the key point methinks.

 

So we set off once more, with the Rogue at the front, and the Dragon bearers following behind, and I am away from the pointy bitey end of the Dragon at the rear with Meepo.

 

We get to the Kobold area with no other encounters, and it turns out that they are quite enthusiastic to see us with the Dragon in tow. Meepo, now suddenly front and centre of the group is lapping up the crowd, his arms raised in the air, every now and then doing that fake ‘I can’t hear you’ cupping his hand to his ear as more than one person is chanting his name.  

 

We eventually stop at Ustral, and she also seems quite impressed with our efforts. She thanks us for the return of the missing Dragon and for rescuing some of the tribe along the way. The crowd cheers enthusiastically, and she announces that we are to get the key we sought, as well as another item of value.

 

Once the crowd and noise settle, I ask if they intend harm to the Dragon, but it appears that they worship it, and it is taken away from the group to be placed somewhere to be looked over and cleaned.

 

Out of the items presented; sorry, I was too caught up in the cheering to remember what the other items actually were, we take an elixir that can heal blindness and deafness. Which may come in handy, que the ominous foretelling music…..  

 

We take up their kind offer of resting for the day, or rather we interpret their offer for some drinks to mean that we can loiter in the throne room for the next six hours. It is actually not that late at all, but the brief Dragon battle was quite taxing to some, and with near death experiences all round, we all needed a nice nap.

 

Later that day, refreshed slightly and surprisingly not covered in fleas, we check over the goodies. The beads are checked and some of the more childish amongst us, naming no names, are extremely disappointed to find that the beads are not suppository beads of hamster summoning, and are in fact sustenance of sorts; either a magical source of food or water or possibly both. I stopped listening when no mention of insertion was uttered so not entirely sure.

 

With the key in hand, and the majority if not all of the paths in the Goblin area mapped out, we decide to head back to the locked door that we think this key will open.

 

The walk is not long, and soon we stand before a stone door with a roaring Dragon relief surrounding the keyhole and handle. Fiddler decides he needs to show off his skills, and with a hand wave of contempt when the key is offered to him, he tries to open it on his own. He squats down, his tools placed within the door, and while listening intently, the masses gather round him all hushed; not a word is spoken.

 

There is then a quick flash of a smile to signify, ‘yes, I am that good’ as he puts his tools away and with a flourish turns the handle, only to find it still locked. A good attempt, but it failed. As the Rogue wanders off with the hump, the Barbarian hands the key to Ser Guildan, which he opens with a click.

 

[Pretty sure he rolled very highly here (20+), but it simply needed the key.]

 

The Paladin slowly pushes open the door, peering in to find it dusty inside. A very faint tinkling noise is heard off in the distance, and once more we are all silent, listening intently. A few more moments of pause pass before Ser Guildan and Kal-El begin to walk into the passageway, followed at a safe distance by the rest of us.

 

They see ahead of them, further up the corridor, two small alcoves each containing a pedestal. On each of the pedestals, a globe rests on the top of them, one of which is glowing from within, the other dull and lifeless. They then indicate that the tinkling noise is emanating from the non-broken globe.

 

I fish in my bag for my Shawm, and try to accompany the tinkling sound, but am sadly not up to the task, and shamefully return my instrument to its bag watched with disapproval by Bags. The Bard however, with his Bagpipes fully wheezed, manages to turn the gentle tinkle into a full on rendition of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, allowing us to march onwards into the corridor.  

 

The Monk mentions that it is unlikely that this is the way the children we are supposed to be following would have gone, but the Cleric points out that this may be a shortcut, which is acceptable. Some of us add this may be a shortcut with treasure, while the Bard pauses mid song to add ‘or death’ before resuming the second chorus.

 

Now that the entire party have wandered in, the Gnome Cleric and I hang back to watch the rear. The Bard, bored that no one is marching anymore, puts away the pipes and says that the door may close as there is no door handle on the inside, so we all stop and look at Fiddler.  The Rogue sighs and trots back to the door to use some pitons to jam it open, but not until after he has marked it in his book as expenses incurred.

 

The ‘excuse me, coming through’ routine is repeated as he then works his way back through the party to lead, and we wait as he begins to search the walls and alcoves for ‘things’. During the searching, he manages to knock over the non-glowing orb, which crashes to the floor. The Barbarian standing nearby, rolls his eyes, reaches behind him and unleashes his ever present broom, and dutifully starts to sweep up.

 

The Rogue moves closer to the other orb, and the music switches up, from a gentle tinkling noise to playing a full, albeit quite mournful and extremely entrancing song. It seems I am not the only one overcome with strange emotions to the soul-wrenching dirge, its compelling nature urging me forwards, on and on further up the corridor. The notes of the song are now playing in our heads, a gentle urging to all of us to open the door, and step within.

 

Those of us enraptured seem to dwell within the song itself, high expectations and laughter in the fine top notes and rising primal fear from the crescendo of the large bass notes. 

 

…..which is when crossbow bolts hit half of the party as they reach the midway point in the bright room beyond the corridor.

 

Abraham had been trying to block the door to prevent people from passing him, but with the hive mind of the Monk, Rogue and Barbarian at the front working together the poor Fighter is jostled aside and while still struggling to contain them, gets pulled inside the room to suffer the same fate as the others.

 

The Fighter is struck very hard, despite not succumbing to the siren song and drops to the floor, dying, still dragged along by the other remaining stupefied party members until they are also struck.

 

Crossbow bolts are loosened again from the walls, and everyone is hit at least once. All of the affected party members suddenly shake their heads, emerging as such from the fog induced song blindness to find themselves in a room surrounded by discarded crossbow bolts and the dying Fighter at their feet.

 

Someone, unsure who as I was at the back of the party when I lost control, grabs the Fighter and drags him out, just as I am walking slowly into the room.

 

St Vincent assumes the orb is the thing controlling us, so advances on the orb to attack it, while Bags uses a slingshot to hit me in the back of the head. A good plan had it not hit me so very hard that it nearly killed me instantly.

 

[Of course he rolls a natural 20 on me here, amusing for all bar me]

 

My fractured skull does however brings me out of my trance and I look around wondering what has happened and why I am bleeding profusely as the Barbarian begins to run back into the room once more as he was instantly charmed again by the siren song.  

 

The Cleric hits the orb, and a large crack opens up on one side, but the song only gets louder and most of the party once more fall foul to the sirens song.

 

Back into the room I go, thankfully I had managed to drink a potion beforehand, and immediately receive a crossbow bolt deep in the guts. The Rogue fares far worse than I did; it’s as though I subconsciously strolled through the danger killing fields using Fiddler as a shield, but the Gods alone know. However, one of us is still standing and the other slowly slumps over like a freshly killed carcass with many crossbow bolt related injuries.

 

Wincing, I drag the dying Rogue out of the room, and then give him a potion to revive him. The Cleric finally manages to smash the orb, and the Barbarian snaps out of it moments before he was walking back into the room for the third or fourth time.

 

Everyone is wounded and looking at the ominous corridor, firstly peering at the blood and bolts strewn across the floor, then we all turn as one to peer expectantly at Rogue, who is currently pretending to be dead. With much grumbling and pained theatrics despite being healed almost entirely to complete health by the Cleric, he eventually moves in, but no matter how hard he peers and double checks and inches forward barely breathing, he can’t see the mechanics of the trap and comes back to us in the orb room.

 

Bags realises that we are going nowhere fast, so offers to help the Rogue with the trap detecting, and they both gingerly step back into the corridor. With bardic inspiration, and a short song on traps that was quite catchy “……snap snap snap go the metal jaws…..”, Fiddler finally spots the trap.

 

The Bard, his work now done, quickly exits stage left singing “…and the thief shall steal no more…..”, now that his services are no longer required. He leaves the Rogue alone in the chamber with just “…and the rats shall eat his corpse….” echoing around him as he carefully places the pitons in the mechanism to foul the trap and render it useless.

 

Flipping from lying on the floor to standing upright, the Rogue takes an elaborate bow, and with a flourish, indicates to the crowd of people watching from beyond the doorway that the path is now clear, pointing towards another door at the end of the room.

 

The Paladin, ever present at the front, leads us into the room, passes the Rogue with a nod and steps up to the door, rattling the handle. There is then a brief wet thud as Ser Guildan gets chopped in the side of the face and arm by a bladed pendulum that swings within the doorway.

 

The communal sharp intake of breath from us all quickly turns into an ‘oooooo’ - that expression you have when you think something is not that bad then find out that it really is. Guildan is led off by St Vincent to have his face stitched back together. Fiddler, back to the front once more, needs no songs from Bags this time; although as he is standing with me at the back, I can hear Bags trying to find a word that rhymes with ‘scalped’. The Rogues bag of pitons once more is put to good use as he blocks the pendulum from swinging again.

 

The door now opened and the sharp pointy bits of the trap avoided, we move into the next room to find it empty bar a large ten foot dragon statue the far end. The Dragon statue is marble with red veins running through it and is very well made.

 

The Rogue procrastinates again, his many wounds still fresh in his minds eye, and begins searching everywhere but the statue area, so once again the Bard walks up to help. As soon as he steps further into the room than the Rogue had done, the statue shimmers and blurs, a weird sight to behold as it appears that a live version of the dragon occupies the same space as the stone statue and they both overlap and morph from living to stone in the blink of an eye.

 

A booming voice is heard, not emanating from the Dragons mouth, but from all around the room.  “We come at night without being fetched, we disappear by day without being stolen”.

 

While most of us are either counting with our fingers, wondering who said that or trying to remember what was said in the first place the Cleric immediately shouts out “Stars!”

 

The shimmering dragon returns to normal and suddenly runes appear on the walls, flashing brightly one by one until they form an archway that a door appears in and opens.

 

St Vincent, standing at the front, moves closer to this newly found archway. He calls out that the runes are writing that he has seen before, but cannot read them, and so I move close enough to take a look. It is indeed in Draconic, but it’s very old, and so my translation is a little rusty, but basically something about a Dragon Priest being alive and in power, so we suspect something undead may be at large inside.

 

We dutifully all shuffle along again through the archway and again into another corridor. Ahead are more alcoves, this time six, and rather than singing orbs, there are six alcoves, each of which from this distance looks to contain an Elvish statues. The corridor has a green glow at the end, muffled in the darkness so we can’t tell if it comes from another doorway or some other form of light source. Just to make this more interesting, there is also a pit on the floor as well just beyond the alcoves.  

 

The Monk takes it upon himself to go forward alone, his candle in one raised hand and walks beyond the rest of the party, ignoring the alcoves up to the pit.

 

While he does that, Myself, the Barbarian and the Bard check over the first statue, but find nothing, while the Fighter follows the Monk.

 

Char and Abraham have now climbed into the pit rather than jump it as there are spikes below and jumping into the darkness ahead over a spikey pit doesn’t seem like a good idea. As the Monk leaps up to grab the ledge to pull himself out, something appears in the pit and slashes out at him, hitting him hard enough to lose his grip on the wall and fall backwards, straight onto the spikes which impale him through the leg.

 

Fiddler is the only one to see the imp like creature appear, and quickly nocks an arrow in his bow, loosing the shaft into the wall and dropping his bow. With everyone else down a pit or examining statues, he recovers his discarded weaponry and successfully pretends to examine the wall as others move up after hearing the Monks cries.

 

Abraham stabilizes the heavily bleeding Monk, and Fiddler describes the creature to the rest of us, so we are on watch looking out for the imp.

 

The Fighter and the Monk are soon climbing up the other side of the pit just as the Barbarian leaps across and over their heads. The Barbarian then draws his sword, and looks into the room beyond. He sees tiles broken across the walls, some torch sconces on walls, one of which is alight with green flame. A marble sarcophagus is in the centre of the room, perhaps nine feet long.

 

He moves closer with the Fighter and Monk and they can see that a Dragon’s head has been carved onto the lid and that there are iron clasps on the sides.

 

Myself and Bard gingerly drop into the pit and climb up the other side while the Rogue and Cleric both leap it.  We are all now in the room, and guess something bad is going to happen, but continue with what is surely our best plan yet, the one where people dart in to break a clasp off and then back out of the room again. Which might have worked in a better location, and not one where eight people are in an small enclosed space with their backs to a spikey pit.

 

When the last latch is removed, the green torch goes out, but nothing happens, so we start breathing once more and edge back into the room.

 

The Fighter, Paladin and Barbarian all creep closer to the sarcophagi, and on three, heft the lid open. Before we can see what’s inside, a blinding light erupts from within the sarcophagi and blinds half the party.

 

Myself, the Paladin, the Fighter and Rogue are ok, managing to avert our eyes at the last moment, while the Bard, Barbarian, Cleric and Monk are blind, blinking unseeing around the room.  

 

The Paladin and Fighter stare into the stone coffin, and see a Troll dressed in rotted finery, its beady eyes flicking open looking directly at them. The Fighter is ready to strike but as the gaze of the creature falls upon him, he is unmanned, and he lashes out in a panic, missing with his strike as the troll sits upright.

 

The Troll is shot by Rogue as it clambers out of the coffin, and as I back up, I pluck a dust mote from the air, ignite it and flick it at the Troll, hitting it with a Firebolt. Quite possibly the weakest Firebolt I have ever thrown at an enemy, but I learned the hard way that Trolls do not like Fire.

 

[One damage! on a d10]

 

Ignoring the Fighter, the Rogue and everyone else in the area, it powers through everyone and takes me out with a single thrust of its clawed hand. A punch with open fingers, the claws puncture my stomach, and there is a lot of blood and gore as it pulls its hand free and turns back to the rest of the party. I simply collapse to my knees, dying. The Paladin hits it in the back, while the blind Monk backs up defensively, and the Fighter, finally shaking his nerve and attacking, slashes it as well.

 

The blinded Bard lets loose with a Thunderwave spell, hitting the Rogue and the Troll with a noisy burst of energy. Both are shaken by the blast, but neither of them are moved by the energy released. The Rogue drops his crossbow to draw a rapier, and disengages away, hiding behind the coffin.

 

St Vincent gets a potion ready, while the Fighter keeps whacking away at the Troll. Bags launches another wave of thunder and this time blasts the Troll away, also catching the Fighter in the radius. The Troll’s trajectory actually causes him to fall backwards into the pit, but this just seems to make it all the angrier and it simply pulls itself of the spikes and climbs out to attack the Bard, downing him instantly.

 

The troll has been taking a good few hits from everyone though, and is looking quite battered, and then the Paladin steps up and gives it a solid whack, hacking off a large chunk of flesh, but yet the creature still stands.

 

The Barbarian’s vision clears, and he runs in to attack, raging as he hefts his great sword, but sadly misses, striking the wall next to the Troll.

 

The Cleric can now see again, and drinks a potion of fire breathing, while the Monk comes over to help stabilize the Sorcerer, pots and pans clanging and clattering as he ducks beneath the claws of the troll. He collapses next to Mr Tunde, removing the healers kit from one of his sacks, but whatever he tries sadly does not work, and the mossy like combination of herbs and elixirs spills uselessly from the Tiefling’s lips as the Monk failed to work out the correct formula. The Tiefling’s skin is now a very pale pink from its normal bright red hue, and the Monk notices that he is sitting in a larger pool of sticky blood which has stopped expanding. With nothing much else to do than hold him, the Monk looks around at the battle raging above his head as the Troll turns to Abraham, and shouts out for aid.

 

[Three failed death saves on the trot. I rolled an 8, a 2, and a bloody 6!  The Monk failed his roll to stabilize me, but at least he tried, as well as putting himself potentially in danger to do so. I lose my chance here. To explain if I hadn’t before, we all started the campaign with a chance to ignore our first death. Hence the kind of muddy “……er didn’t he just die but now is ok?” storyline continuum breaks. Think of it as A Holy Grail “I got better” moment.]

 

Abraham had been battering the troll over and over, with nearly every one of his axe strikes biting deep as he tried to divert attention away from Tunde and Char huddled on the floor by the Trolls feet. When the last axe hits quite deep, the Troll screams out, and turns on the Fighter, a backlash of a claw quite expertly opening his throat. Char, still holding the Tiefling while trying to back further in the corner from the chaos around him is soaked in more of the party’s blood, his white robes spattered as Abraham simply looks surprized, makes a large gulping bubbling noise and slumps face first into the wall.

 

[A critical roll, from which he took 30+ damage. The Fighter also lost his chance from this strike.]

 

Ser Guildan hits the creature again, and Kal-El the Barbarian, who is still raging whacks it hard with his great sword. The Troll twists and turns, trying to keep both the Barbarian and the Paladin in its view just as St Vincent steps up into its peripheral vision and breaths fire at it. The Troll screams loudly, its arms up trying to protect its face from the fire, but it’s too much. He turns and hits the wall, bouncing off that, still struggling, then falls back into the pit. Impaled below, it continues to struggle, but soon the fire claims it.

 

Everyone is back up again, and feeling battered, we slowly and with many moans and groans, search the area, finding coin and a few scrolls.

 

We decide to simply stay where we are for the moment, and with the pots washed of blood, the Monk whistles a tune and cooks up some lunch. Most of which is promptly thrown away into the pit with the troll or thrown up depending on whether the person was stupid enough to try it. Put it this way, the Troll was better cooked than the Monks lunch, so it’s not surprising all of us bar the Monk are tucking into dry chewy rations, while making sure our bits are still in order.

 

[The Monk, Bard and Rogue had to leave the session early, and depart here.]

 

Searching the rest of the room finds nothing, and we move back to the riddle room to search the statue again and see if there was anything we missed, which we didn’t.

 

One of the scrolls turns out to be a Dwarvish story of something, and those that can speak Dwarf say that it talks of areas outside the location where we are – it seems we have some direction for our party of heroes, assuming we manage to either finish this, our current adventure and also not die in the process.  

 

Unsure where to go next, we back track and head back to the Dragon area. Passing through the Kobold area first, we speak to Ustral and inform her of what was beyond the doors and she gives us a healing kit, and sends the albino warrior off to check to make sure the troll really is dead.

 

On our way back to the place where the Dragon was found, we find that the doors that were once broken are now repaired.

 

My voice rolls out the word “Open!” through the spell Thaumaturgy with gusto not unlike the best penny panto introductory, adding more letters and vowels than the word actually contains. I certainly look the part, smartly dressed but missing just an overly large hat and silver topped cane…which I really should add to my shopping list when back in town.

 

The door however, stays shut, and so the others move closer, finding not only that it’s locked, and when unlocked by Fiddler, also has many boxes piled behind it.

 

The Barbarian, always one to see that a task that requires a mountain to be moved means simply moving the little bits about until they form another bigger bit somewhere else, starts to hack the door down with his great sword.

 

Kal-El’s rhythmic chopping is almost therapeutic; chop, chop, chop. The door soon lies in kindling, and some of the boxes beyond have large hacking holes in them.

 

The hacking is taking a toll on his weapon though, so he quite intelligently, suggests to spread oil on it and “..let the tiny red man burn it.” Quite.

 

The party waits as I pull motes from the air and ignite them, flicking them into the doorway and the crates beyond. The booming thuds blur into each other as the crates soaked in oil catch and the fire spreads into the room beyond, consuming the remnants of the door and the visible crates we can see before the smoke pushes us back.

 

The fire burns for another ten minutes or so, before embers are left and the smoke has cleared enough for us to not run into anything, and people cautiously move up to the open doorway, just to be shot at by the goblins waiting beyond.

 

The Barbarian rages and runs in. Arrows fly, but either miss or hit him weakly, not enough to stop him from chopping the first goblin down. The Fighter Abraham, closely following behind runs through another archer, and the Cleric calls down a pillar of fire to smite the third. The less said about a random burning dust mote flying into the ceiling, at least five feet over everyone’s head the better.

 

Two more appear, stepping forwards with swords raised, and attack the two half orcs, but both miss. They then run back into the room, with the Barbarian bloodthirstily screaming following to attack, but finds that he has been tricked as there are more hiding round the corner.

 

A lot more. Eight Goblins, the back four armed with bows, all of whom unleash their arrows at the Barbarian. He takes a few hits, but still stands, calling out the numbers to everyone else.  

 

The Fighter is next in, running into the room and kills another, and I move in but again miss with a Firebolt. Wrong kind of dust in this room methinks.  

 

St Vincent runs in and brutal crushes a Goblins skull with a mace to the face, and the Barbarian is once again set upon with arrows as they dart in and out. This second barrage is just a little too much to take even with his rage soaking up most of the damage.

 

The Barbarian surges upright, raging through the pain, throws a javelin into the wall missing one of the goblins, before running back into the dragon room and getting taken out by a pair of goblins hiding in the room. Abraham takes another out, and hits another one hard, and I take a pinch of sand, sprinkling it in the direction of the Goblin archers, causing three of the four to sleep. St Vincent rushes to the stricken Barbarian, pulling a Cure scroll from his backpack that he had found earlier. The scroll is a powerful one, a higher tier than he is usually able to read, so it’s not a guaranteed chance, but the words disappear from the scroll and the scroll disintegrates as St Vincent reads. The power is thankfully utilised correctly, and the Barbarians wounds close and he opens his eyes, shaking his head to clear focus.

 

The fight is not over yet though, and Ser Guildan is shot by the remaining archer, and then another warrior steps out, taking a swing but missing the Paladin.

 

The goblins are starting to look a little frightened now with most of their people down or dead. The Barbarian pushes himself off the floor, draws a hand axe as most of the rest of his weapons are scattered on the floor, and chops the goblin next to the Paladin.

 

I approach one of the sleeping goblins, and with palms held parallel to the floor, both hands are moved slightly outwards causing crackling lightning to emanate from both palms, electrocuting one on the floor, sadly not quite killing him, but definitely giving him a rude wake up call.

 

The Barbarian drops another weapon trying to hit the goblin scrabbling to his feet, Ser Guildan kills one with a wet chop, the Fighter finishes off another. One of the two remaining goblin stands in the room looking frantically for an escape as the Barbarian, who has drawn yet another weapon, and the Cleric close in to cut and bash him to pieces.

 

[I think The Barbarian rolled 4, maybe 5 natural 1’s in combat this session]

 

A burning dust mote from yours truly finishes off the runner, the Firebolt catching him low in the back and spinning him into a pillar to sink to the floor aflame and quite dead.


 

 

Notes

 

XP: 561+176= 737 (XP Troll, XP goblins)

Played: 18/11/18
Published: 27/01/20
Attending: All 8 of us

 

 

 

 

 

The Party

Humble Narrator and sorcerer - Solomun "Major" Tunde

Fighter - Abraham "Cut throat" Williams

Barbarian - Kal-El

Paladin - Ser Guildan

Cleric - ST Vincent

Rogue - Fiddler Topov

Bard - Miley Cirus

Monk - Char Siu Bao

 

and other supporting cast members