Beyond the Karameikan Frontier

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Gnarri
Joined: 2016-10-03 15:48

Awesome chronicle! Got me interrested in barrowmaze and B10. If there is more happening beyond the karameikan frontier, please share it!

bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Been mostly offline for quite a while, dealing with real life issues. But now that "we're putting the band back together," I thought it was time to post some more session reports here. We're miles ahead of where this account is at, at around Session 44, although the last few aren't written up anywhere as of yet. Regardless, here we go...

The first one back is a player recap from Belgarath's player as he caught up with the rest of the party in the wilderness near Sukiskyn after the tough battle with Fyodorryl that saw two of the parties' key Henchmen slain. Belgarath the Mage is now a virtual party unto himself, with probably the second-best Fighter in the group, Mearl, as his henchman, along with a retinue of War Dogs he keeps in top condition through his Animal Husbandry proficiency.

We tried out the Mercantile Ventures rules for the first time this session, and they were not a hit. Some of that was definitely my fault, as I was nowhere near as prepared as I should have been, but some of it is that they take some considerable work to run. No doubt this would be easier if I had them modeled in Excel, though I'm not sure how I feel about that. They are also not really worth the time for small loads, but I wanted to use the opportunity to "get our feet wet," so to speak. I will also need to do some more thinking on how to give them more of a hook to adventure or other campaign opportunities for the players...

The Belagarath Recap

PROFIT$, Goblins, and a Stone Forest

Session 22

I noticed three wagons in the clearing free for the taking while exploring near Sukiskyn. The idea of making some money grew like a weed, keeping me up most of the night. Calculated profit margins, return on investments, and risk analysis all indicated a caravan trip with two wagons to all the cities and towns between Sukiskyn and Specularum was a great idea (i.e. totally boring) and it had to happen. Caasi agreed to come along and after retrieving two of the wagons (DM said: which would become surprisingly important fixtures for some time to come) we asked Pyotr if he had anything to sell. I bartered for 3 bundles of beaver pelts and 3 bundles of fox pelts for 13gp and some oak logs for 11gp. I was trying to calculate what a 30 percent return would make me when Caasi interrupted saying, “Hey we have some beaver and some wood … Get it?” I was confused by her words, and more confused by the wink she flashed me. Why state the obvious? And what about the fox? She forgot the fox!

Anyway, we were on the move the next morning headed for Helix. Once there, we met Vandelay, an elf who was looking for some adventure and agreed to come with us to Specularum. We moved on the next morning for Kelvin. The market there was a treasure trove of opportunity. 200 iron ingots @180 gp, 20 salt bags @ 90 gp. Some lamp oil @ 130gp and 6 hunting dogs @ 55 gp. I was sure I managed to talk everyone down just a little. I could feel the riches coming in! So excited (i.e. totally boring)!  We also managed to pick up a passenger for the church of Karamikoes, brother Lucius, for 11 gp. Caasi was very interested in the poor man, and payed lavish attention to him on the trip. He didn’t seem to get the wood/beaver thing either.

In Specularum my dreams came true. I bartered up the price of the furs to 45 gp, the wood to 50gp, (beaver, wood, get it?!) ( stop it with the jokes, Caasi!) 130gp for the lamp oil, the salt for 120 gp, iron for 240 gp. And I managed to sell one of the wagons for 100gp! Yes, 100% profit there! The dogs didn’t sell, but I enjoyed the companionship. I met with my master, and was enlightened with new magics (DM said: Uncanny Gyration from the Player's Companion). Specularum was a great success! (i.e. borrrriing!) The way back to Helix was uneventful, and I managed to buy a fine bow for Kane, and a war saddle for Endithas,

Once back at Misha’s ferry I did a quick search of the cabin, but there was still no one there. Shortly after leaving the cabin we were attacked by a huge bobcat. We managed to fend it off and kill it but I felt it strange for a wild animal to attack a big group like ours (unbeknownst to the party, even now, the animal was Fyodorryl's pet).

Back at the Suluskin compound I managed to sell the hunting dogs for 45 gp. We decided to pick up the trail at the mining camp Segenyev and discover what the source of smoke was that Stikini saw the week before. The trip there was uneventful, but when we arrived we found 3 Gnolls searching through the rubble of the destroyed camp. Vandelay properly insulted them and they fell for it. Attacking us was their last action, and they were dispatched with ease. After searching the compound we found a note, with the words:

"Search for the map, make the prisoners find it, I will search in the east."

With my newly acquired hunting dog we managed to find a scent and track the goblins that attacked the camp to the south east. It was a long trip but uneventful first day of travel. The first night we were woken up by the noise of an Orc patrol to the southeast. They didn’t notice us as they seemed to be in a big hurry. Once the sun came up we tried to track them but the rocky terrain prevented us from picking up the trail.

We returned to the original trail for the goblins and moved south into a strange valley. All the trees, plants, and life, was turned to stone. Some great and terrible magic was released here. After exploration of the area we collected some stone flowers, pine needles, and branches. (DM said: this description glosses over how completely weirded out the party was by the petrified forest and the descriptions of the eerily silent gloom beneath its boughs...) Then the hunting dog yipped and egged us on: they had picked up the trail, and we were on the move again! We continued on and came upon a group of 10 goblins and 3 dire wolves. We attacked and dispatched several of them, the others surrendering in hopes their lives would be saved. I tried to communicate in hobgoblin, and was surprised to learn one of them spoke a language other than goblin fluently. After a little "persuasion" he informed us they had some human prisoners and he would lead us to them. But suddenly (DM said: inevitably?) he betrayed us, signalling the wolves to run off. We responded by finishing off the last of the group and tying up the translator. After further questioning we discovered that the goblins were working for a hobgoblin named Vlack who had brought the goblins together to search for "the great map." The traitorous goblin lead us to the edge of a small river where he said many guards were keeping the prisoners. Not liking our chances (DM said: it was, in fact, after midnight, our usual quitting time) we decided to take our goblin and head back to Suluskin to gather reinforcements and return to rescue the humans.

The trip was a huge success! We managed to make 288gp in returns and took 79gp from the corpses of the dead goblins! PROFIT$!

bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Around this time in our campaign I was buried with RL work commitments, and couldn't keep up with my usual pace of session reports. Fortunately, Endithas' player stepped up to fill the gap, and the next couple entries are his...

The party composition at this point was as follows:

Caasi - Cleric 3

Fodora - Fighter 1, Caasi's Henchwoman

Belgarath - Mage 3

Stikini - Belgarath's owl Familiar

Mearl - Fighter 2, Belgarath's Henchman

4 War Dogs - belonging to Belgarath

1 Hunting Dog - belonging to Belgarath

Kalasandr - Thief 4

Endithas - Fighter 3

Taras - NPC Explorer 3, younger brother of Pyotr (head of the Sukiskyn clan)

Attack on the Wolfskulls, Part 1

A Cock and Bull Fish Story

Session 23

Well, dear friends, you have come to me for another tale I see. One with goblins, you say? Let me think...I may have a chronicle or two about goblins.

This is the story of the Wolfskulls, a tribe of goblins so fierce, they train and ride dire wolves into battle! They had joined with other goblin tribes in the region of the Dymrak Forest and were mercilessly raiding camps and farmsteads along the Volaga River. This is the story of how we fought back, and how we raided the Wolfskulls on their home ground.

Caasi, Belgarath, Kalasandr and Endithas had just returned from having cleansed the world of the Viper clan, another tribe of goblins in the region that had fought alongside the Wolfskulls. I had been grievously injured in the battle, and decided to remain at the Sukiskyn farmstead for a number of days while my companions ventured out into the wild without me. A week later they returned, with a captive goblin and news; they had located the Wolfskulls’ lair, and it had prisoners from their raids within!

While I was recuperating at the farmstead, it gave me pause to reflect on my adventures, and I was struck with an idea, as if through divine inspiration! Our party had collected so many objects, clues and trinkets, yet we had not truly inspected many of them. Caasi raised her arms above the mound of retrieved jewels and weapons, spoke sacred words to her lord, and announced that she had indeed sensed magical objects here! The ring I had recovered in the barrows, and the battle axe that had belonged to goblin chieftain of the Red Blades, Gnhass, were both enchanted.

Belgarath quickly picked up the ring, bringing it close to his one good eye in careful inspection. He placed it on his finger and asked us all if we could still see him, but, unfortunately, we could. The mage had hoped for the magics to instantly reveal itself, but nothing happened. The ring remained a mystery, and on the finger of Belgarath.

I picked up the Chieftain’s deadly instrument, hoping that I could make it sing once again, but this time with the blood of his kind. I named it Gnasher, feeling its power as I gripped it firmly in my hand.

Also needing closer investigation were the scraps of parchment that our party had found in the study of the Dark Cleric under the hill. I was not present when they were recovered, but Belgarath had mentioned them months earlier and then we all seemed to forget about them. They were written in a script, semi-religious in origin, though illegible to Belgarath. We asked Irena, a priestess at Sukiskyn, but she also could not decipher the writing, and neither could Belgarath’s feathery familiar, Stikini. But when the parchment made its way into Kalasandr’s hands, his eyes widened in realization.

Apparently Kalasandr is adept at reading languages, and he explained that the notes were mostly banal, including lists of equipment, money, materials, and chattel to be moved. However, one point of interest was that there was a reference to the Master, and that the Reaver will prepare the defenses. This seemed to prove what we all had long suspected, that dark forces were amassing, and that perhaps war was not far off.

We turned our attention to our prisoner, a vile, snarling creature from the Wolfskull tribe. We had great difficulty communicating with it, and we learned very little. Eager to save Stephan, a member of the Sukiskyn tribe, we questioned it on its lair, learning that there were seven sentries guarding seven prisoners at their camp. We looked at one another, fearing it would not be that easy.

With Taras joining us once again, we left the next day, knowing it would take three or four days journey there. We headed east skirting along the Dymrak forest and into the grasslands. We made good time on horseback, but as we camped the first night, Taras mentioned that he thought he saw something following us during the day, though he couldn’t be sure.

We broke camp early and continued. Belgarath sent his fluffy friend into the air to see if Taras’ suspicions were correct, and they were. We were being followed, and by several large wolves!

Pushing our horses and picking up the pace of our ride, we discussed what to do. There were few options available to us out in the wilderness. As night came, we camped just inside the dense forest. We lit three fires, protecting the horses in the middle. With darkness came the curdling howls of the wolves, but they never showed themselves.

The next morning we moved as quickly as we could, running from these unseen assailants. Storm clouds loomed ominously behind us as we turned south towards the Wolfskull’s den. We caught no site of our pursuers, and we prepared to camp one final night before we would arrive. The night was cold, and again we could hear howls in the distance, but they never revealed themselves.

On the fourth day, at around noon, we entered the Valley of Stone. All life had been petrified into grey rock, with the only living plant life a sickly moss covering the ground and trees. It was eerily quiet, and it darkened considerably as we entered the forest. The stone branches and leaves blocked out much of the light, and though it was midday, it seemed as if night were minutes away. I wondered what could have done such a thing to this God_ Immortals-forsaken place.

We crisscrossed the forest along a perfectly preserved path, noticing animals turned to stone as well, seemingly running from the centre. It was unnerving to behold this abomination of nature.

As we passed below a large petrified oak, three dark shapes dropped from the branches of the tree, attacking us! They were brown, squirmy, winged beasts, each about the size of a small dog. One descended on Kalasandr, dropping him from his horse in desperate combat! I ran up to help and brought Gnasher down, cleaving the creatures beside Kalasandr.

Caasi raised her mighty mace and brought it full force into one of the enormous bats. It squeaked for a second on the ground, and then stopped moving. Belgarath began uttering his magics and a shiny object, perhaps a coin, appeared in mid air and suddenly flew through the centre of the final creature, leaving most of its innards spilled on the ground (DM said: Belgarath's player has decided that the Mage's Magic Missile spells have the appearance of a spinning coin).

We quickly and quietly continued along the path, though a little unnerved by the attack. The silence was soon broken by what sounded like running water. We could see in the distance a large petrified tree used as a bridge over a dark brook, and a single goblin guarding it, tossing rocks into the murky water below.

Quietly dismounting, Kalasandr motioned for us to make ready, and that he would take care of the lone sentry. Making his way along the edge of the path, and taking cover, he slowly and silently moved towards his target. Drawing his blade as he neared the bridge, his prey had not realized that death was upon him!

Kalasandr took the final step and swung his scimitar at the unsuspecting guard, but just as he leaned forward to attack, the creature noticed the advance, and narrowly dodged out of the way! Kalasandr brought his sword up and managed a glancing blow across the goblin’s face, and as he sliced his adversary’s cheek open, the fowl creature let out a piercing shriek!

Now locked in deadly combat on the bridge, Kalasandr and the goblin exchange blows. Mearl and Belgarath move up to help, but the only steel to strike home was Belgarath’s dagger in Kalasandr’s leg!

I took position with my bow at the ready should any other foes enter the fray, and no sooner had I raised my weapon, than a face emerged from the base of the tree across the river! I calmed my nerves and let the arrow fly; it found its mark below the beast’s eye, and the goblin crumpled to the ground without a sound.

Meanwhile, Kalasandr and the goblin were still entangled on the bridge, Mearl trying to impale the creature with his spear from behind Kalasandr. But the goblin was able to outmaneuver our nimble thief, getting it’s spear between Kalasandr’s legs and sending him over into the dark stream!

Belgarath, uttering arcane words and gesturing, fired another glimmering coin through the goblin’s chest. Such magics! He jumped as the beast hit the ground and shouted “Grab him! Money!”

Just then Kalasandr came up to the surface screaming! He was being attacked in the icy cold water by enormous bloodthirsty piranhas! Mearl jumped in the brook and pulled Kalasandr onto the path; he had gone limp, unconscious from the attack. Then we noticed where he had been attacked: he was covered in blood and gore, particularly in that place where men fear to see blood and gore! Surely Kalasandr would not be fathering any children in the future! (DM said: a tough roll on the Mortal Wounds table left Kalasandr a eunuch, his genitals destroyed (and eaten) by the ravenous piranhas; ACKS can be a wonderfully sick and twisted little game!)

Caasi collected a few coins from the goblin's corpse before rolling it into the stream below, and I ran across the bridge to a large opening in an enormous petrified tree. Taking cover to one side I could see a single light deep within. No other guards were aware of our intrusion, but we knew for Kalasandr’s sake we needed to retreat for the moment and care for our wounded companion. We mounted our steeds and withdrew, making our way out of the Petrified Forest.

Though the story does not end here, our evening does. I promise, more will come soon!

bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Attack on the Wolfskulls, Part 2 (EPIC!)

An Evening with Endithas Wolfram

Session 24

Yes, hello! So you’ve come back for more, have you? Ah yes, I didn’t finish the story on the attack on the Wolfskulls, did I? Well, let us fill our flagons and Endithas shall begin!

Caasi, Belgarath, Kalasandr and I had come with Taras from the Sukiskyn farmstead in search of Stephan, Taras’ uncle. We had heard that he had been kidnapped by the Wolfskulls, a tribe of goblins wreaking havoc along the Volaga River. Stephan was at the Iliyakan lumber camp on business when it was attacked, and one of the survivors recognized him as a prisoner taken by the horde.

We had ventured to the Accursed Forest, where the trees are petrified stone, and home to the ferocious Wolfskulls. We had attempted entry, but Kalasandr was gravely injured, forcing us to make a hasty withdrawal. We headed back north towards Segenyev, another of the camps that had been destroyed by the roving war party, hoping it would provide shelter.

The wolf riders were not far behind as we pushed our horses to the brink of exhaustion, but soon the ruins came into view, just as the sun began to set. We hastily made camp, preparing ourselves as best we could before night fell, listening to the dire wolves baying in the distance. The night was uneventful, but I don’t think any of us got much rest.

The next morning Caasi set about further healing Kalasandr. She said that he would need an entire day to recoup, and that we could continue on the next day. We agreed that this would be best, and as we discussed what to do, Taras alerted us that two figures approached in the distance! We braced ourselves for attack, but as the riders neared we saw that they were Vandelay and his henchman, Roland! What luck that they were able to find us! (DM said: Yup, lucky! <nudge, nudge! wink, wink!>)

I spent the remainder of the day searching through the ruins, but the camp had been utterly destroyed with nothing but rubble to be found. We spent one more night hunkered in the ruins of Segenyev, and once again the chilling howls of wolves filled our ears, but they made no attempt at attack. As morning dawned, we began making our way back to the Accursed Forest.

The journey was uneventful as we crept closer to the home of the Wolfskulls. As we neared the entrance, we dismounted and peered forward. Three guards stood in front of the makeshift bridge where Kalasandr had been pitched from a few days earlier. They seemed rather disinterested, leaning on their spears, not expecting another attack. We aimed our missile weapons at the unsuspecting foe and in unison fired at our chosen targets. I held my breath as I released my arrow, waiting what seemed like an eternity to see if our bolts would find their marks. And then, without a sound, all three sentries fell, dead before reaching the ground!

With great haste we pushed forward towards the two petrified trees on either side of the bridge, but from one side a dire wolf leapt towards me, its rider attempting to plunge his spear into my heart! I easily sidestepped the attack as Vandelay fiercely stabbed the warg with his spear. I raised Gnasher, cleaving one of the beast’s ears from its head, and Belgarath’s hounds, smelling blood, pounced on the beast, ripping its throat out while Fodora’s steel pierced the goblin’s breastplate and into its heart.

Vandelay was quick to act as he tossed a flask of military oil into the entrance across the bridge. It shattered all along the front and into the enclosure as he next threw a torch onto the oil. Heat from the blaze could be instantly felt as an explosion of fire consumed the entryway. We moved forward, ready to battle as the fire quickly died out, plumes of black smoke pouring from the archway and into the sky.

The smoke did not take long to clear, and we stepped forward into the lair, weapons at the ready. We had come to the front of a large well lit area. A number of pieces of petrified wood were scattered in the room, probably used as chairs and stools. We could see two exits on the other side, and as we stepped deeper into the chamber, the room opened up to our left. Standing there, likely to shield themselves from the flames, we came face to face with our adversary, a dozen rabid goblins!

They were first to act as several of their number broke ranks and ran out of the room. Caasi stepped forward and into the mob, bringing her mace into the midsection of an enemy, crushing his lungs, leaving him dying, gasping for air. As she did so, Gnasher, having tasted blood earlier, brought me into the middle of the horde. Seven of the vile creature surrounded me.

To tell the truth, I don’t rightly remember it. The confrontation only took seconds, and I acted without thinking, dancing among the enemy with Gnasher to guide me as we twisted and turned. She found her prey with every swing; all seven of them were dead at my feet, blood spilling onto the floor, and I hadn’t taken so much as a scratch! (DM said: as I recall, Endithas went last the first round, approaching after the Goblins had whiffed against Caasi's excellent AC, handily Cleaving the maximum number of Goblins the first round, then winning Initiative the next round and Cleaving through the remainder. If there was any remaining doubt around the awesomeness of Fighters in ACKS amongst our playgroup, this display most assuredly dispelled it! Once again, Endithas was a laughing, gore-soaked god of battle...)

As I stood there, drenched in gore, we could hear banging metal and growling from the room that the three goblins had run into. Vandelay stepped into the doorway, but all he could see were elongated red eyes and the clinking of chains! I grabbed one of the torches lining the wall and tossed it into the room, illuminating the space enough to see goblins hurriedly unchaining a number of dire wolves, one of which was already free! This fight was far from over!

Vandelay, feet planted, arms gesturing, began to speak his ancient magics, his eyes bright and voice echoing! Suddenly, four ghostly elven berserkers appeared in front of him, looking to him for instruction. “Kill the warg!” he ordered them! They leapt into the room with reckless abandon, weapons raised and hacking wildly at the ferocious beast, injuring it badly. It turned on one of them, snapping its neck, and the ancient ghost disappeared back into eternity.

More chains fell to the ground, and a second dire wolf leapt forward. Belgarath commanded his hounds to attack, and they pounced in at the goblin warriors, injuring two of them. Caasi, rushing towards the injured wolf, brought her mace down in a ferocious strike, but still the beast fought on. Mearl, wielding his spear with expert precision, skewered a goblin as he lunged forward, its blood spraying his face as he pulled his weapon free of the corpse.

Kalasandr took careful aim at the second warg, landing an arrow in its haunch. The beast turned towards him, locking its jaws around his arm, his screams following the vicious attack. Gnasher led me into the room, and leaping directly between the two freed wolves I swung my axe with all my might, killing both in a single fluid motion. I now turned, face to face with another wolf and rider. Axe in hand, I sidestepped the beast to attack its rider, bringing my blade through the villain and into the beast below!

I was not the only butcher. The ghostly elves descended into further barbarism as they hacked the life from a wolf! Belgarath’s hounds attacked a chained warg, but two of the remaining wolves managed to get their jaws on one of the hounds, pulling it savagely limb from limb!

Caasi, wading into the fray, knocked the life from another of the riders, but perhaps she had stepped too far as deadly fangs closed around her face! I ran over and pulled her to safety as Mearl ended the monster, but as he did so, the last beast brought its rage down on his knee! The hounds leapt to his aid, and tore the beast apart.

Caasi’s eye had been badly mauled. Belgarath ran over and gave her the the healing elixir from the gourd the Neanderthals across the river we had given us. The wound began to heal, but I feared she would have a scar to remember the encounter!

We looked around our surroundings amid the death and carnage. To the south lay a single door. We had been met with heavy resistance in this first room, and we knew that if we were to probe deeper in search of Stephan and the other prisoners, there would very likely be more. We collected ourselves and focused on the task at hand. Kalasandr tried the handle to the door, and pushed it slowly, the hinges squeaking as he did.

What lay behind was another room, considerably smaller than the first, with two doors. We moved in, prepared for more violence, but nothing disturbed the silence of this tiny chamber. Kalasandr moved forward, motioning for us to lay in wait as he probed our new surroundings. The door leading to the south was locked, but moving to the second door Kalasandr became tense, having heard something. Pointing to his ear and then to the door, we strained to listen. And that’s when we could hear it, a general murmur, a number of voices behind the closed door, all speaking together. Pressing together and ready for battle, Kalasandr turned the latch, opening the door wide into the antechamber of the Wolfskull’s lair!

The murmur ceased the second the door opened. Standing vanguard with Mearl, we could both see clearly into the throne room of the Goblin King. A dozen more goblins stood in front of us staring, and behind them was their monarch, calmly in his large chair at the other end of the room. He slowly stood as we all glared at one another, taking his heavy ax in one hand and gesturing towards us with the other.

The instant he pointed, four spears came hurtling towards us with deadly intent. We managed to evade the attack, and then charged into the horde! Vandelay sliced with amazing precision, chopping two of the goblins down in front of us. His berserkers followed, destroying three more with their shimmering steel. We cut through the first group with ease, but behind them were five of the Wolfskull elite, kingsguard to their lord.

Belgarath’s hounds next broke their ranks, clawing at one and dragging him down screaming. I followed our canine companions and brought Gnasher to bear into the breastplate of another of our enemies, returning him to his maker. Mearl, working his spear yet again, found a chink in the armor of his foe, and the berserkers raised their axes in union to remove another of the goblin mob.

The king stepped forward alongside his last remaining minder, the two of them quickly becoming surrounded. The king looked at me, and we moved towards one another. He was quicker in striking, but as his ax came crashing down onto the cold stone below, missing by only a hair, when a white light suddenly illuminated brightly across his face, blinding him! Belgarath howled in glee as his magics blinded our foe, uttering curses and profanities at the doomed chieftain from behind us.

The goblin lord, shrieking in anger, somehow made good use of his weaponry, and without the use of vision, guided steel into one of the berserkers, and then into Vandelay! Another ancient warrior disappeared from sight, and Vandelay received a grievous wound to his shoulder, temporarily removing him from the conflict. Enthused by his lord’s frantic assault, the final kingsguard sprang towards me and slashed his ax into my chest. I countered with Gnasher, and we both stepped back, having injured one another.

From the bodyguard’s blind side, Fodora slipped her knife into his neck. He was dead on reaching the ground, a fountain of blood pouring from the artery. Mearl, once again, lead with his spear towards our final adversary, the king. He pierced the king’s side, then viciously pulled it from the wound, spun the weapon above his head, and thrust it square into the king’s face! The leader of the Wolfskulls was dead. Stepping over his slain foe, Mearl placed his boot on the throat of the deceased and pulled the bloody instrument free.

Kalasandr circled the mighty throne, now vacant, scanning every nook and detail. After a few minutres, he put his shoulder to the mighty seat, and then it began to move from where it was resting. Looking into a small compartment under where the chair once stood, Kalasandr took out a sack of gold, a kite-shield with the emblem of a white tree, a broken coronet, and a crystal decanted with an amber honey-like liquid. This, along with a ring with a bright green jewel, the king’s heavy axe, his pelt and an intricately designed belt buckle of gold, we had gathered quite a bit of treasure! We looked at one another, satisfied in the spoils of our victory, though our mission was not yet complete, to find Stephan and the other prisoners.

We returned to the smaller room, the only place we had not yet explored was the locked door in the south. Kalasandr said he detected no traps, so I put my shoulder into the aperture, but it would not budge! Mearl then stood in front of the solid oak door, and knocked it from his hinges! A smirk on his face, he picked up his spear, motioning politely for me to go first. (DM said: the lanky Mearl, STR 13, while nowhere near as strong as burly Endithas, STR 17, typically outperforms the bigger man on strength and toughness related feats due to Mearl's Dungeon Bashing Proficiency combined with Endurance; it's fascinating to see the play impact of Proficiencies helping to craft stories, personalities, and undercurrents to the gameplay - brilliant! - and it all fits with Mearl's background as a tough farmboy)

Before I had the chance, Belgarath arrogantly strode into the room! We stood in disbelief, as we ran to protect him, but too late! Half a dozen goblins were lying in wait for us, and had viciously attacked Belgarath as he came to the centre of the room, bringing him dangerously close to death! (DM said: yet again, Belgarath's player's impatience nearly cost Belgarath his life; Endithas' player is vastly more cautious, perhaps overly so, and Belgarath's player eventually snaps and hurls his Mage forward into the unknown, with often hilarious results)

Mearl and I charged the monsters, knowing we had one chance to save our friend. Mearl once again used his spear to ruthless efficiency, ending the life of one of the goblins. Kalasandr and Fodora, moving towards the largest of the horde, stabbed the creature over and over again, blood running from a dozen wounds. I followed, and once again Gnasher led me in a dance of death and dismemberment, as four of their number succumbed to my attack! The hounds dispatched the last two, and once again we had fended off our foe!

We were in a room that had a large, petrified elm in the centre, rising into the ceiling, and the smell of unwashed bodies and blood assaulted our noses. Beside the door we had entered from there was a large portcullis, with a prone figure in the back of the cell. We raised a lantern to better see into the cell, and in fact, there in the back, was an elderly old woman! “Misha, is that you?” Belgarath whispered. Her head raised, but she said she was Babushka, from the Cherkass farmstead that had been raided weeks earlier.

There were no other prisoners in the room, so giving Babushka a water skin and sending her to wait with Taras and the horses, we continued deeper into the stronghold. As we were about to continue, Belgarath walked up to me and placed the shield ring from the barrows in my hand, telling me it may do me more good than him. A little surprised, I accepted, and placed the shiny thing on my finger. (DM said: Belgarath had been messing with the ring for a couple sessions, but with little ability in the party to identify Magic Items, he has given up on it being a useful item; it was, in fact, a Ring of Protection +1, something Endithas would have far more use for, anyway)

A door to the south was the only option for us to continue, and once again Mearl bested me in knocking it down! As he did, we saw heaps of bedding and straw, and hiding in the corner were a number of Goblin females and their offspring. Ignoring them, we moved past and towards the one other door in the room. It opened easily, and the passageway that continued through was the hollow of an enormous log!

Only by single file could we continue, so I stepped forward to take the lead. We could see a door a ways away with a painting of a split skull. It was necessary to crouch in order to continue, and as I moved along, suddenly the ground began to give way! The floor started to collapse, splashing into water below! I leapt to safety, and as I regained my footing, we could see the piranha filled river rushing below us.

Carefully making our way across the gaping breach in the floor, we made our way to a painting of a split skull. The door opened into a tidy, well-kept room filled with wooden furniture. Three large ferrets were rooting around the other side of the room, their ears rising as they became aware of our presence. I threw some food towards them, hoping they would be more interested in the dried meat than us. Indeed, they were, and they leapt towards the food, ignoring us completely.

As I stepped deeper into the room, Mearl, thinking the ferrets were too dangerous, raised his arbalest, and fired at the feasting creatures. He missed, but the ferrets raised their pointy snouts towards us, and charged!

We were able to fend off the furry creatures, but it seemed as quickly as we killed one, another took its place! We killed close to a dozen, with the final animal retreating down into a hole in the side of the room. I stuffed a number of his dead bretheren into the hole, plugging it up. Hopefully that would halt further attack from the vermin!

We ventured into the room, quietly exploring. There was a door at the far end, but isn’t there always! Kalasandr motioned for us to be still as he listened carefully to what was behind. Signaling that he could hear three creatures breathing from behind the door, we knew that we had yet further trials ahead. We prepared ourselves for battle as Kalasandr open the door.

What lay inside was insidious to be certain. Three creatures with red eyes, two meters tall, with swords raised above their heads advanced. We had met such a creature in the past; they were thouls, part troll and part ghoul, and they can paralyze their prey with a single scratch! We hurried backwards through the door and across the gaping hole in the floor. We hoped they would attack us and we could pitch them into the river below, but no such luck. The thouls recognized what we intended, and retreated back into the room. Kalasandr closed the door behind them, and sealed the creatures in, using his spikes. They would not be able to escape from this side withough destroying the door.

We returned back to the prison chamber, and then to the entrance. We knew our time here was done, and that we needed to head back to Sukiskyn to restock and get Babushka, the goblin’s prisoner, to safety.

As we traveled she told us that there were five other prisoners that had been taken by goblins wearing iron collars. They were taking the prisoners to Xitaqa, where Zetaka, also known as ole skinny legs, rules in tombs, somewhere in the east. We tried to console Taras, but he had hoped to save his uncle, and our search for Stephan was not yet over. (DM said: it's hilarious how garbled some information becomes; luckily, I record any pertinent information on our Obsidian Portal website, such that the players can reference a reasonable version of what their Characters "know" at any given time...)

And that my friend, marks the end of our story, as it was the end of the Wolfskulls!

 

bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Hungry Like the Wolf

...or, the search for Xitaqa goes to the dogs!

Session 25

 

Taras shrugged, seemingly uninterested.

Vandelay remained impassive, but Belgarath folded his arms across his chest in frustration, and Caasi shifted uneasily on her feet. Kane’s eyes narrowed as the elf explained, “It is important. It might be where your uncle is… detained.”

“I am sorry,” Taras said, his expression more drawn, “The name means nothing to me.”

The one-armed servant, Stellios, passed the man and elf carrying a crock pot.

“What name?” the balding man asked, puffing slightly.

Belgarath turned his eye on Stellios, “A name that none here seem to know: Xitaqa…” the Mage offered, saying the word as if conjuring.

“Gesundheit!” Stellios replied, grinning. None of the party members appeared to find his remark humorous.

“You misunderstand, human,” Vandelay interjected, “We are searching for the ‘ruins at old Xitaqa’ that the elderly crone, Babushka, said the goblins have taken Stephan to…”

Stellios heaved the crock on to a nearby shelf, then idly scratched his bald pate, “Eh… if you can’t find it, why don’t you ask the Horse-man of the Moor?”

Taras let out a sharp, barking laugh, “As if such an old wives-tale would help us! My grandmother would have suggested such a thing, were she still alive, but you, Stellios…?”

Stellios’ expression became more serious, clearly perturbed at being mocked, “Well, why not? Have you found anyone else who knows?”

“Pfagh! And a ‘protector of the horses’ is going to help the horse-traders, yes?” Taras shook his head in disgust, “Then my uncle is truly lost,” he said with finality, turning and walking away.

There was a pause as the man left, then Caasi asked, “How do we find this ‘Horse-man of the Moor’…?”

19th of Sviftmont to 30th Sviftmont, AC 999
Characters: Caasi (Cleric 3), Fodora (Fighter 1, Caasi’s Henchwoman), Belgarath (Mage 3), Mearl (Fighter 2, Belgarath’s Henchman), 3 War Dogs belonging to Belgarath, Kane (Elven Ranger 3), 2 Hunting Dogs and 1 War Dog belonging to Kane, Vandelay (Elven Spellsword 1), Roland (Normal Man 0, Vandelay’s Henchman)
Mortal Wounds: None!
Deaths: None!
Levelled: Caasi reached 4th Level

The party spent a day asking around Sukiskyn to see if anyone had heard of Xitaqa. While none had, the man-servant, Stellios, offered an old legend of the “Horse-man of the Moor” as a possible source of information (which Taras dismissed), that the adventurers assumed to be some kind of crazy druid. Pyotr’s daughter, Irina, pointed out that the word “Xitaqa” wasn’t Traladaran, but that the Traldar forbearers of her folk had once inhabited all the river-valleys of the Grand Duchy, before the Great Beastman Invasion.

Unable to think of any other way to divine the location of the ruins, the party headed for Helix, both in hopes of finding more information about Xitaqa, as well as discerning the secrets of the enchanted items they had recently realised they were carrying.

While passing through Helix, Kane and Vandelay stopped briefly to approach the goggle-eyed local sage, Mazzahs the Magnificent, and asked him about both the enchanted shield they had found in the Wolfskull lair, and the origin and location of Xitaqa. While Mazzahs could not be certain of the shield’s provenance, he surmised Alfheim as the most likely place of origin. He knew it was enchanted, but not the details of its dweomer. On the subject of Xitaqa, Mazzahs had considerably more to say…

While the sage didn’t know the exact location of Xitaqa, he recognized the word as being derived from the dead language of what he believed was a long-extinct progenitor race, pre-dating even the Traldar, and responsible for the construction of many of the ruins that now sat in out-of-the-way places in the Duchy. This long-gone race had even had a hand in the construction of the Barrowmaze, if the artefacts Mazzahs had collected were any indication. They had also enchanted many protective artefacts created in silver, and in jade. The Sage had seen enough of this race’s dead language to know that Xitaqa meant city of the branch, or fork (of a tree).

The group left Helix and carried on to Kelvin, Belgarath stopping long enough to purchase another War Dog from the market, as well as a trained Hawk. He and Caasi then left the city headed for Guido’s Fort, while Kane and Vandelay stayed in Kelvin to find and consult a sage on the questions Mazzahs the Magnificent had been unable to answer.

The elves’ search was not in vain, and after lining some palms with gold, they connected with a Mage named Reticulo, who was visiting the city from Darokin in pursuit of esoteric research. Unfortunately, Reticulo had never heard of Xitaqa, but he was considerably more familiar with Alfheim than Mazzahs. He told the two elves that the shield bore mighty defensive enchantments, and that few such specimens existed outside of Alfheim. No doubt the elves of The Forest Kingdom would pay dearly to return the shield to their people. In spite of this, it was decided that Vandelay would bear the shield ( making the Spellsword’s already formidable AC even higher! ).

Meanwhile, Caasi and Belgarath made the uneventful journey to Guido’s Fort, only to discover a buzzing beehive of activity. The number of militia present had noticeably increased, and they were actively drilling on the parade grounds. The pair quickly gathered coins and an enchanted cloak from the hidden chest in Belgarath’s townhouse, then sought out Ivana Boritsa, Reeve of Guido’s Fort, to determine the source of all the activity.

Ivana told them that bandit activity had increased markedly on the road around Penhaligon, and that extra militia drawn up in defense of the Fort were now being used to patrol the roads and scour the nearby countryside for the source of the bandit scourge. In the meantime, there had been no further abductions, and two other parties had crossed the River to the Hill; the first, in late summer, had returned unharmed but seemingly bearing little of value. The second, some weeks ago, had not returned, and as yet no one knew their fate.

The pair left the Fort behind with the uneasy feeling that the problems in the region were coming to a head, but with no clear sense of what might happen next. They reached Kelvin and reunited with their companions, exchanging much of their accumulated coinage and treasure for the trip back to Sukiskyn. Belgarath the Miser did his best to secure favourable terms, but in the end found himself outmatched by the slick money changer (the first time Belgarath had encountered someone with a higher rank in Bargaining!).

As the party went through their stash of items to sell and trade, they also turned up a black, glassy amulet they had taken from around the neck of the Dark Cleric under the Ruined Monastery. Realising it might be a potent embodiment of the forces of Entropy, they decided to take it to the Church of Karameikos in Kelvin for Caasi’s superiors to deal with.

Upon entering the cathedral, an argument broke out over who would be the one to present the amulet. Fearing mere possession of the thing would taint the bearer in the eyes of the Church, the amulet was tossed around like a hot potato as everyone tried to absolve themselves of responsibility for possession of the thing. Exasperated, Caasi finally relented, and nervously approached the prelate…

“Um… excuse me?” she stammered.

“What troubles you, my child?”

“Well, I have this friend… and they have this thing, that they’re not sure about. They got it someplace dark and dirty, and they’re worried about what other people will think if they find out what they have…”

“My child,” the Prelate said, soothingly, “For a reasonable donation such mortal ailments, as you – or your ‘friend’ – have, can be cured by the Immortals…”

“Okay, I… wait, what? You think I’m diseased?!”

Grasping the Prelate’s confusion, Caasi produced the obsidian unholy symbol from her tunic, and handed it to the Cleric.

The Cleric tut-tutted as he turned it over in his hands, before pronouncing it to be a symbol of He Who Shall Not Be Named. The Prelate drew out where it had been found, and then had to explain to Caasi the nature of Sinkholes of Evil, places where the power of the Sphere of Entropy bled through into the material world, and the importance of destroying them when found. Seeing the young Cleric was completely baffled, he went on to explain the nature of the Dark Triad to which Orcus belonged, and their lingering worship in the shadowed places of the Grand Duchy. Seeing his impromptu pupil wide-eyed and overwhelmed, the Prelate chided her for not attending to her spiritual studies, then promised to dispose of the unholy symbol.

“Are you going to throw it into a volcano, or something?” Caasi said, excitedly.

“I am going to whack it with my mace until it breaks.”

“Oh.” Caasi said, more than a little let down.

Relieved of their small burden, the party regrouped and headed back to Sukiskyn. Belgarath made one last stop at a glassblower’s workshop on their way out of Kelvin, as he had a special purchase in mind. Amazingly, the glassblower had what the Mage was looking for, in the form of a beautifully crafted glass eye ( Reserve XP! ).

“We must forgo such distractions, and keep our eye on the prize,” Kane admonished the Mage, but, as ever, Belgarath was immune to humour.

Arriving back in Sukiskyn, the party went to Stellios in hopes that his ‘Horse-man of the Moor’ might yet help them find the information they needed.

“How do we find this ‘Horse-man’ of yours?” Belgarath asked the servant, his eyes pointing in different directions.

Stellios seemed flustered, and uncertain where to look, “Well… you must travel on to the high Moor…” he began.

“Yes…?”

“And then,” the servant continued, “At midnight…”

“Yes…?”

“You have to whistle…”

“Really…?”

“For three nights…”

“Okay…?”

“While standing on one leg!”

“…you can’t be serious.”

Stellios was entirely sincere, however, as his last attempt at humour with Belgarath had fallen completely flat.

Resigned to the ritual, the party packed their horses and wagon, and headed for the far end of the grasslands, near to the ruins of Segenyev. There they camped, setting a watch by the light of the pitiful fire they made with what little brush they could find. The Spellsword, Vandelay, took the midnight watch with his Henchman, Roland, and was stuck standing one foot for some thirty minutes, whistling elven opera into the wind and waking everyone, until forced to stop as his leg grew sore. The remainder of the night passed without incident.

The second day Vandelay and Roland built a turf fort to provide a more defensible position. Later that afternoon, Kane spotted a large, tawny cat slinking through the grass towards their camp. He approached, and as he did, noticed a second large cat sneaking in. Mearl moved to deal with the second animal, but the Elven Ranger waved him off, slowly moving towards the animal, and attempting to befriend it...

I asked Kane’s player how he intended to do this, and his response was to hold out his fist, pinkie and thumb extended, then waggle his hand slowly while saying, “…wowwwwww-wowwwww-wowwwwww…” a la Crocodile Dundee. Unfortunately, even with Friend of Birds and Beasts, the Reaction Roll came up a 5, and both mountain lions ran off.

Disappointed, the party set watches for the night, and waited for Vandelay to whistle elven opera.

As the Spellsword stood lonely vigil on one leg, whistling, the sound of hoofbeats came rolling in from the darkened plain. As they approached, the party could see a group of horses, with a rider on the lead horse. As they horses came into the meagre light cast by the party’s fire, they were shocked to find the lead horse did not bear a rider, but was, in fact, a centaur!

Vandelay stepped forward to speak, but before he could, the centaur made sounds that were like nothing so much as whinnying. Amazingly, the party’s own horses pawed the ground with their hooves and tossed their heads as they responded in kind. Only after this strange exchange did the Horse-man appear to acknowledge the party.

“Who are you?” the Horse-man asked.

“I am Vandelay, Spellsword of the Callarii people, and these are my sworn companions. We were told we might summon your aid in this manner...”

The centaur nodded, then introduced himself, “I am Loshad. I am, and have long been… the guardian of the horses of this plain. But, tell me,” he asked, “…why are you standing on one foot?”

Chagrined, Vandelay dropped his leg before speaking, “We wish to know the location of the ‘ruins at old Xitaqa.’ Can you tell us where this is?”

Loshad seemed to consider the group before replying, “I know this place. And I can tell you it’s location…”

The tension melted from the group with this news, but then Loshad continued, “…and I will do so, provided you agree to two conditions!”

Wary, but hopeful, Vandelay enquired, “And what are your conditions?”

“First, you must bring to me, five days from now, in this place, the heads of Bailakask, and her son, Kalkask. They are skinchangers that prey upon the herds under my protection, and are mortal enemies of the horses. I will tell you where they lair…”

“And the second condition?” Vandelay asked.

“That you set these horses you have free to roam the plain within one month.”

There was considerable consternation at this, as the party had only recently acquired their steeds, but as Loshad’s offer was the best lead they had, it was decided they should accept. Loshad explained how to find the “skinchangers” lair, and then Belgarath asked, “What advice would you give in confronting these skinchangers?”

“They and their wolf-pack hunt by night. If you approach the lair then, most of them will be away on the hunt. That is the time to strike!”

Loshad departed, and the party began discussing plans. They possessed few enchanted weapons, with Caasi’s Ebon Mace, and Kane’s handful of Black Fletched Arrows the extent of their enchanted arsenal. They quickly came to the conclusion that it was risky to try and reach Helix to purchase silver weapons, and that Kelvin and back would be impossible in the time they had. Remembering that the smith from the destroyed lumber camp at Ilyakana had settled at Sukiskyn, Belgarath came up with a cunning plan.

The party gathered all the silver coinage they could, nearly 1,000sp in all, then dropped all the gear they could afford to spare in the wagon. Horses were loaded for fast travel, and the party left the wagon behind, conducting a forced “march” back to Sukiskyn. They arrived in a single exhausting day. The group immediately had the smith commence work on silver arrowheads, sling bullets, and a silver spear head, all made from the melted remains of the silver coinage the party had been carrying.

With two full days rest behind them, and a handful of silver weapons, the party headed on horseback to the site of the Werewolves’ lair. Arriving in the vicinity, north of Segenyev, the group travelled along a line of bluffs as evening approached, finding numerous wolf-tracks. Skilled as ever, Kane followed the tracks with his Hunting Dog to lead the group within sight of a cave. The party moved upwind of the cave, then Belgarath sent his owl Familiar, Stikini, to perch and watch. Well after dark, the owl returned, and reported that a number of wolves, one of them very large, had left the cave and headed west onto the Moor.

The party waited in darkness and silence for most of another hour, before leaving their horses behind (attended by Roland) and approaching the cave entrance. The opening was low, meaning all would have to duck slightly, and cut through the exposed sandstone face of a bluff. Moving into the opening, the party could see what appeared to be the skulls of horses, mounted on wooden pegs on either side of the tunnel. There was a low stench in the air, reminiscent of corruption. They could see the other end of the tunnel a dozen feet away, with the light of the starry sky as a backdrop.

Passing to the far end, the party’s movement was brought to an abrupt halt at the sound of a low, rumbling growl. A torch was thrown into the space beyond, illuminating two dark-pelted wolves, hackles raised, growling at the party’s approach. Moving to attack, the party released their dogs, and a howling, yelping melee began between the animals. Kane’s Hunting Dog was borne down by the Wolves, but the wolves themselves were killed by the party in turn. Three more pairs of eyes bloomed in the darkness beyond the light of the guttering torch, as the remainder of the wolf-pack present leapt to defend their den. These, too, were quickly cut down by the party, after which Belgarath moved to the aid of Kane’s injured Hunting Dog. His immense skill meant the dog would survive with no permanent injury, but would play no further part in any battles that night.

Belgarath got a decent roll on the Mortal Wounds table, then used his Animal Husbandry to cure the resulting Mortal Wound.

The group was now standing at the end of a slightly winding box canyon, open to the sky above, with steep walls some thirty feet high. The left-hand wall of the canyon was pierced by cave entrances at irregular intervals, some five in all. Halfway down to the canyon’s far end at the top of the wall on the right stood what appeared to be a figure, overlooking the canyon’s floor. A faint glint could be seen from its eyes. Stikini flew over to investigate, and discovered an unusual statue of a robed, jackal-headed man. The statue’s eyes gleamed with the twinkle of inset gems. Communicating this to his master (“Whoooo! Whoooo!”), the owl then took watch over the canyon.

Kane checked the nearest cave, and, finding nothing but dust and chewed bones (along with the stink of an animal den), carried his injured Hunting Dog inside to rest. After he did so, Kane and Fodora found a path and headed up to the statue to cover the floor of the canyon with their bows, while Caasi began searching the remaining caves.

It was at this point that Vandelay’s player was forced to leave, as he had a hard stop at midnight. The remainder of the group decided they wanted to continue, and Vandelay’s player agreed to have me NPC Vandelay, though he was more than a little concerned by our good-natured jibes about pushing the playerless elf to the front!

Caasi’s search turned up dust and bones in most of the caves, but one, neater than the rest, held a chest. Unlocked, the chest contained some tattered clothes, as well as a sizeable stash of coins, jewellery, and gems. An expensive saddle turned up in the final cave. Badly chewed, its silver gilt and fittings were nevertheless worth salvaging. While the caves were being searched, The Miser attended to prising the gems from the eye-sockets of the jackal-headed statue, determined to leave no treasure behind.

The canyon thoroughly looted, the party began their standard process of concocting a Rube Goldberg-eque plan to ambush the remainder of the pack upon their return. Kane, Fodora, and Belgarath would stand on the rim beside the statue, able to cover the floor of the canyon, a rope secured to the base of the statue coiled at their feet, the archers armed with silver arrowheads; Vandelay (playerless) would hide in the cave by the entrance, ready to cast Summon Berserkers to prevent the pack’s retreat; the wolf corpses would be piled in a heap at the farthest point in the canyon that could be seen from the entrance; the War Dogs would be kept quiet at the dead-end of the canyon, out of sight of the entrance, but within earshot of their master; and Caasi and Mearl would stand with a shuttered lantern on the path up to the statue, flasks of military oil at the ready, the former armed with a few silver sling bullets, the latter with a few silver bolts and a slivered spear. They would be unable to see the entrance to the canyon, but the bodies of the pack members would hopefully serve as a lure to draw the pack into the ambush.

After a few hours of waiting, a lone voice broke the silence, approaching the cave entrance. The sound echoed weirdly as it passed through the tunnel, and was joined with growls and yapping.

“…mother?” the voice said, as the approaching sounds abruptly ceased.

Silence.

“Whooo! Whooo!” Stikini called, telling his master what the party already knew: the wolf-pack had returned!

Silence.

Kane tossed a pebble down the far side of the canyon, the rattle echoing off the sandstone walls.

“I know you’re here…” the voice said – it was low, smooth, commanding – “…why don’t you come out, and we can talk, like… men?”

Kane threw another pebble towards a different point on the canyon wall.

The sounds of sniffing came from the entrance, “I can smell you…” the voice continued, “Your stink is thick in the air!”

Worried that the wolves would smell Vandelay near the entrance, Belgarath whispered across to Mearl, trying to convince his Henchman to walk out into the pack’s line of sight. The Fighter’s eyes were wide with fear, and he merely shook his head in refusal.

In spite of his tremendous Loyalty, Mearl failed his Morale Check when asked to face the terrifying skinchangers!

With the skinchangers refusing to take the bait of the piled wolf corpses, the party was becoming desperate. Thinking quickly, Belgarath cast Ventriloquism and spoke from the pile of dead wolves, “You have committed great crimes!”

There were shuffling footsteps, “Show yourself!” the voice snarled.

Belgarath continued to speak from the wolves’ bodies, “You could have stopped and been ignored, but now you must be ended!”

“You come here and threaten us in our lair?! When I find you…” followed by a few more shuffling steps and the sounds of sniffing.

Hoping to finally lure the pack forward, Caasi took the brave (or foolhardy) decision to step forward, and could see the packs’ eyes glowing by the starlight towards the entrance of the canyon. The silhouette of a lone man stood in the lead. Caasi lifted her now un-shuttered lantern, casting the man in sharp relief. He tensed, shouting, “You have violated our lair, and now YOU DIE!”

The man lunged forward, and as he did, his features ran like melting wax. His jaws distended, massive fangs erupting. His legs cracked and doubled back on themselves, as he landed at a run, and a great, shaggy black pelt erupted from his body. Now fully a wolf, the beast charged Caasi, who let out a small squeak as she nearly soiled her armour.

We’re not certain, but we think Caasi’s player may have pooped herself at this point, too. Fortunately, the party won Initiative.

Caasi and Mearl ( who is very slow ) turned and ran for the path up to the statue. Kane and Fodora loosed their crude slivered arrows at the Werewolf’s back, and while Kane bounced his off the canyon wall, Fodora planted hers between the Werewolf’s shoulders!

Caasi’s player rolled a 20 for Fodora’s attack, then rolled the maximum, 6+1, for damage!

Belgarath unleashed the dogs who sprinted into combat with the werewolf, then cast Magic Missile, further wounding him. Badly injured, the werewolf lashed out, throwing the dogs ( who could not injure him ) aside as he fled to the nearest cave, Fodora hitting the fleeing werewolf with another held shot. The wolf-pack then charged the party’s dogs, swirling into an unruly mass as the two packs engaged each other. An enormous, grey wolf, far larger than the rest, broke from the others and ran to the base of the canyon wall below the statue, transforming into an unclothed woman with the sound of tearing gristle. The stout woman began scaling the rock face towards the archers!

Seeing the approaching Bailakask, Kane held up a flask of military oil that Belgarath lit, then hurled it at her, spattering Bailakask with a small amount of flaming oil. Undaunted, and cursing floridly, the woman continued her ascent. Back at the canyon’s entrance, Vandelay ( run by me ) came out of his cave and cast Summon Berserkers, the group moving to cut off the Werewolves’ escape route.

The trap now sprung, the party did their best to finish the Werewolves. Kane and Fodora fired at the climbing Bailakask ( who blew her Initiative Roll with a 1! ) with slivered arrows as she neared the rim, injuring her as the remainder of the military oil burned off, doing little more than reddening her skin ( the military oil had only inflicted a total of 3hp damage ). As Bailakask reached the top and began to clamber over, Belgarath cast Uncanny Gyration on her, ripping her from the face of the cliff, and hurling her to the ground below, landing her in a pool of military oil that had been lain before the wolves attacked.

I had thought that Uncanny Gyration would be a key part of any plan, using it to potentially render one of the Werewolves helpless and ready to be turned into a pincushion, but it seems not to have occurred to Belgarath’s player (who regularly laments the “uselessness” of his Mage) until the middle of the battle!

Meanwhile, after a shouted argument ( by the players, as well as the PCs; Belgarath’s player trying to convince Caasi’s player to pursue Kalkask into the darkened cave before he could heal himself ), Caasi ran back down the path to the dark cave Kalkask had fled into. Standing in the cave mouth, Caasi raised her lantern in time to watch the once-again human-shaped werewolf finish an entreaty to Entropic Immortals, before being overwhelmed by a stiffening sensation across her entire body. Fortunately, the power of the Church of Karameikos was with her, and she shook off the dark enchantment ( made her Save versus Spells with an 18, throwing off Hold Person! ). Once again panicked by narrowly avoiding death, Caasi turned and fled, Kalkask transforming back into an enormous wolf and pursuing her. The werewolf easily outdistanced her, savaging her legs from behind ( for 7 damage, raising the fear of Lycanthropy ).

Back near the statue, Bailakask had transformed back into her form of a monstrous grey wolf, rendering her immune to most harm ( she finally won Initiative, no easy feat against Kane who was at +3 to Initiative Rolls! ). The Elven Archer fired a flaming arrow at the military oil the mother werewolf had been dumped in, lighting it on her, to no effect. As she struggled helplessly, lifted off the ground by The Mage, Kane fired a final silver arrow at her, piercing her muzzle and ending Bailakask’s struggles.

As the party’s dogs slowly tore the wolf-pack apart, Caasi turned to defend herself from Kalkask, while Mearl lumbered up to aid her with his crudely slivered spear. Caasi’s enchanted Ebon Mace failed to connect, but the ever-reliable Mearl slammed his spear home into the Werewolf’s side, eliciting a howl of pain. Enraged, the werewolf turned on the man-at-arms, savaging his spear-arm ( 5 points of damage, once again raising the spectre of Lycanthropy ). The pair struggled with the beast, failing to connect, but avoiding further harm as the werewolf scrabbled against Caasi’s magic shield in vain. Throwing the beast off, Caasi brought down her mace, crushing the Werewolf’s skull, while at the same instant, Mearl stabbed his silver spear through its heart ( the two tied for Initiative, and each inflicted enough damage for a kill ). Without a sound, Kalkask fell dead at their feet.

Panting in the silence that descended, the party realised they had triumphed!

We immediately broke for the night, as it was now 2am, to leave all the housekeeping to our next session.

Hardrada
Patreon SupporterSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2015-06-28 02:40
Any chance you can make your campaign public on Obsidian Portal?
bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16
Sadly, no. Too much personal content on our Forum.
bobloblah
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

The Lost City

...it ain't lost no more!

Session 26

“What… are you… doing?!” Caasi asked haltingly, attempting to keep her gorge down.

Vandelay was carrying the bodies of the werewolves the party had slain over to the horses, and slinging them over the backs of their steeds. The process had been made far messier once the party had cut the werewolves’ heads from their shoulders.

“Is it not clear? Their corpses might be of some considerable sorcerous value!” The elf responded.

Caasi gagged again, barely maintaining her composure. She wondered to herself, and not for the first time: why were all elves so blasted weird?

1st to 8th of Eirmont, AC 999
Characters: Belgarath (Mage 3), Mearl (Fighter 2, Belgarath's Henchman), 3 war dogs and 1 hunting dog (belonging to Belgarath), Caasi (Cleric 4), Fodora (Fighter 1, Caasi’s Henchman), Endithas Wolfram (Fighter 3), Kalasandr (Thief 5), Kane (Elven Ranger 3), 1 war dog and 1 hunting dog (belonging to Kane), Vandelay (Elven Spellsword 1), Roland (Fighter 1, Vandelay’s Henchman)
Deaths: None
Mortal Wounds: None
Levelled: None

The party hacked off the heads of Kalakask and Bailakask, intending to return with them to their meeting with Loshad. Vandelay had grander designs, and hoped to sell portions of the werewolves’ bodies for profit, as his own arcane training told him that such things were often a potent resource in magical research. He hauled the bodies out of the box canyon and lay them across the backs of their horses.

Loading themselves down with the considerable treasure the lycanthropic mother and son had had, the party made the best speed they could back to their wagon, still waiting for them on the high Moor. They made it with a few hours to spare, and, as promised, the Horse-Man of the Moor arrived at the appointed time, his escort of stallions in tow. The party handed off the heads, and Loshad indicated his satisfaction, but reminded them of their promise to release their own steeds within another three weeks. The party once again assented, and so Loshad told them the location of the ruined city of Xitaqa: The site sat at the confluence of the Highreach River and one of its tributaries, not more than a dozen miles from the lair of the erstwhile werewolves.

Satisfied that they had the information they needed, the party bid Loshad farewell, and immediately headed back to Sukiskyn. Their journey was without incident, the open plain of most of the journey allowing them to avoid any encounters along the way, and they arrived at the homestead two days later. The weather was still unseasonably warm and sunny, and the werewolves’ bodies had not kept well in the hot Karameikan sun. With the entire party well and truly disgusted, Vandelay finally relented, and buried the bloated corpses in the woods a short distance from the homestead’s walls.

News that the ruined city had been found reached Pyotr and his family, who were elated. Taras, in particular, counselled immediately leaving in search of his uncle, but the party managed to convince him to wait another day as they healed and re-equipped for the task. Pyotr reminded the party of his offer of a share of the profit from the sale of the horses if they returned with Stephan in tow.

Re-energized by their short rest, the party again headed out, passing on to the open grassland of the Moor on the first day. Taras, with his considerable local experience, guided the party, and they reached the fork in the Highreach River on the late afternoon of the third day without mishap.

Taras’ ability as a guide was presumably useful, as the party neither became lost, nor encountered any dangerous creatures on their ride.

After a short ride along the riverbank, a broad, shallow ford was located. In the distance across the river, high sandstone cliffs rose from the level ground, looming above the surrounding plain. They were heavily worn, with deep gullies visible even at this distance. Atop the cliffs, part of a more regular, needle-like black object could be seen, a lone and ruined tower that presumably marked their destination. Tentatively, and with great caution, the party forded the river.

No sooner had the party moved out from the far bank than a group of horsemen detached themselves from the base of the distant cliff, and began riding at speed towards the party. Endithas Wolfram charged, spurring his steed forwards as the rest of the group dismounted and prepared to defend themselves! As Kane leapt to the ground, he donned his Ring of Invisibility and disappeared.

Endithas is the only PC with Riding, and his ability to fight from horseback has proven crucial up to this point.

The bulk of the approaching darkly-clad horsemen sped around Endithas’ charge, one of them struck from the saddle by the big man’s spear, but another among them spurred directly for the Fighter, drawing a sword and attacking Endithas’. The rest of the party hunkered down around their horses, exchanging bow fire with their attackers as they approached. The horsemen quickly closed, using their mounts to hem the party in, hacking at them from the backs of their steeds. The party quickly gained the upper hand as Kane appeared, his attack from surprise slaying several of the attackers, and the rest of the party finishing off the others. Vandelay readied his spear and began running towards the battle between Endithas and the leader of the dark riders.

That fight had not gone well! Endithas had failed to penetrate his opponents guard, whereas he had been grievously wounded in turn. The leader of the dark riders wielded his blade with considerable skill, and if anything was larger than Endithas. Just as it seemed the big man would finally meet his doom, Caasi shouted a frantic prayer to the Immortals across the battlefield. Instantly, the dark leader became rigid in the saddle, and toppled to the ground below.

Realising he had been saved, Endithas hopped down and raised his axe. There was just enough time for the other party members to shout, “NOOOO!” before Endithas decapitated the incapacitated man with his axe! As the party recovered from both the battle and their incredulity, they searched the bodies, only to discover that each bore the now-familiar manacles-and-chain tattoo.

This was the second time Endithas had killed the leader of a group of tattooed men before he could be questioned. The first time was way back in session 12!

Stripping the corpses of what few valuables they had (only the leader carried any gold), particularly their composite bows, the party moved the bodies and dumped them into the river. Caasi then tended to the worst of Endithas’ wounds, before they all remounted and rode the rest of the quarter-mile or so to the base of the sandstone cliffs.

Once they were within a hundred yards, they could see that the gulleys extended far back from the plain, and that a number of …buildings…had been erected, cut directly into the sandstone walls of the canyons. After some debate, the rest of the party hung back while Kalasandr scouted into the first of the canyons, invisible with the help of Kane’s ring.

Moving as stealthily as possible, Kalasandr explored a few of the gulleys and canyons, discovering that the buildings of Xitaqa were all built into the canyon walls. Made from large blocks of dressed granite, they bore doors with strange ironwork holding them in place. He also spotted numerous wild-looking baboons, an entire troupe passing near enough for him to fear being heard. The Thief finally found a building near the entrance to two separate gulleys that was occupied, with what sounded like goblins voices coming from within. Kalasandr went back to report, and the rest of the party moved up, kicking in the door and catching the resident goblins completely by surprise. The fight that followed was a slaughter, over almost before it had begun. After a few minutes more scouting, the group decided they would use the cleared building as a base of operations, and began exploring deeper into the ancient, abandoned city…

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