Gods of the Realm

Episode 11: The Days of Shieldmeet

The night passes very restfully, dawn just breaking as the heroes wake. Warfton’s Inn is quiet and it is a peaceful morning to greet the heroes.

Varro wakes early and rested with his longing for a good mead satisfied for now.
He gathers his gear and heads for the tavern turned breakfast hall for what has become his most recent favorite spot for a hearty breakfast before a well favored killing spree.

“Mornin, I be takin a hearty breakfast taday … an don’t ya be skimping on da meats .. ya hear me?” He says with a hearty humor in his voice

Brann wakes and finds himself feeling slightly more relaxed. The tension and pressure from the previous day’s battle has eased somewhat and his many hours of communing with Moradin have given him solace.

Time to see how the others are doing and perhaps learn some more about our new companions.

He heads downstairs and sees Varro at the table, “Morning my friend, I see you’ve got the food going”

“I’ll have some mead and a throw any of the food from last night onto that platter for me” he says to the innkeeper pointing at a large platter.

“So, any grateful villagers pop into thank you personally last night?” wink

“None dat I be memberin” returning da wink “But I do be memberin not seein ya partakin in da festivities, probly fer da best belly laugh ya missed a gud one brudder.”

Varro stuffs his mouth with a sausage and sops up gravy with his biscuit

“so ya be gettin prepared fer a gud day hikin in da wilderness? I be reckenin dat we gots us a keep ta be explorin taday.”

Francis wakes up, a broken, dismembered leg at the tip of his mind’s eye. He lights a candle, gently places it on the floor, and concentrates on the flame for a half hour. He stops because he is troubled by what he has done to the Elfess’s body. Is this the answer, he asks himself, to imbalance? Must I obligate myself to balance extremes with equal and opposite actions, tête á tête? He dresses himself in his awkward chainmail armor and hopes that the dwarf—what was his name? Thair, right?— has finished repairing his platemail.

Once he goes downstairs, Francis approaches Varro and Brann. “Good morrow, gentlemen.” He sees the food at the table and is slightly repulsed. Just as unappetizing the morning after. “I am interested in speaking privately with our compatriot, Belimir. Might I expect him to rally with us here at the inn or would I have better luck seeking him at the town gate?”

Varro looks up from his breakfast, buscuit in his hand gravy dripping on to the table.

“I recken he be out da gates, sleepin in a bush or such, oh ya be needin dis fer Thair da smithy " Tosses Francis a small pouch of coins “get ya armor … surely he be done wit it by now , dat is if he not be to drunk from last night.” noticing the dribbled gravy varro uses a finger to clean the mess and licks the gravy from his finger.

“get ya armor and get ya belly filled, I recken we gots a keep ta be visitin, Belimir can wait”

Francis nods. “Right, right.” He takes the bag and hurries over to the armory.

Thair greets Francis as he approaches the smithy booth.
“Ah Sir Halfling! I have yer breastplate right ‘ere. It’s as good as new! Tougher’n’a Orc’s Arse!”

He hands Francis the breastplate, and then holds his bearpaw of a hand out for the agreed payment.

Francis takes the breastplate. He removes the chainmail and drops it on the ground. Slowly, he puts on the platemail. It is firm, as he likes it. He nods in approval and drops the bag in the dwarf’s hand.

Taking the coin, slipping it into a lockbox under the counter, Thair smiles at Francis through his bushy beard. Then goes back to work on Varro’s axe.

After leaving the armory, Francis takes a quick detour through the market square. He purchases two apples and a squash, and returns to the Inn.

Wilam’s bones ache and his muscles are tight as bowstrings. He had fallen asleep almost instantly upon crawling into his bed and had likely not moved a muscle all night. He moans as his arms spread wide, reaching for the walls. Don’t bend over too far, Wilam… or you’ll likely never stand straight again, Wilam joked to himself. It’s going to be another long day, so best you get used to waking like this, old man.

Wilam prepares himself for the day, starting with a basic focus ritual that helps him find an attunement with Arcane energies. He flips through the pages of his spellbook, spending extra time on his conjuration spells. I think I’ll give this Dust Devil another try. The thunder from yesterday didn’t quite pack the punch I was expecting. He spends the next ten minutes memorizing the keywords and summoning chant. When he is sure he has it, he gathers his few belongings and heads out to meet the others for breakfast.

“Good morning, fellows,” is all he says before taking his seat. He finds himself wanting, deep down, to take leadership of the group… to take it ‘by the horns’ and demand that they comply to his plan of action. But something holds him back and he waits to see what the others have to say… without his prompting.

“ya best be gettin ya belly full, me finger-wagglin friend, we gots us a keep ta be cleanin out taday.” the dwarf realizing he is dripping gravy everywhere goes to work cleaning his mess with his finger and licking it off his digits.

“I sent da half-pint ta get him his armor and den some breakfast. I recken we be meetin Belimir at da gate. Try dis cider it be an eye opener.”

Wilam tanks Varro and begins eating. “I’m not used to this kind of work, but I agree… we must set out for the keep as soon as possible.”

“Indeed, best fill up if we’re going to have another long day my friend.”

Brann studies Wilam for a few moments and then asks, “Have you come up with any thoughts on what we might be facing?”

“I’m almost certain there will be cultists. It’s possible they’ve been enslaving the goblins or kobolds that we’ve also seen in the area. Irontooth was working for them, at least on some level.”

The panda wakes up in the morning, yawns and scratches his back. He takes his time going to the spring. Once there he drinks water and takes a quick bath. Suddenly, a scream could be heard and a second later, Belimir was shaking his head in anger, walking all blushed in a strong pace toward Winterhaven. Turned into a teddy bear….Oh the embarrassment. That`s it! I`m done with that garbage people call alcohol. Sure it lightens one’s mood but in the morning you`re a soft, cushy panda bear! From now on it`s just spring water for me! Some predator you want to be Belimir……..

After a long walk, Belimir eventualy cools off and walks into the inn, where he finds the others eating their breakfasts. I didn`t eat anything this morning. Might want to try something…..But careful and ask what it is and how it`s made.
Belimir greets the party as he heads straight to the bar, where, after a long discussion (one might say it was a debate), he ordered just some roasted meat and some bread……..And a tankard full of “spring” water…Or at least he`d like to think it was. He sits at the table next to Wilam and starts eating.

“I reckened we be seein ya at da gate, didn’t figure ya would come in fer breakfast, eat hearty me friend. we’s gots business dis day.”

Varro finishes up his meal and guzzles down his cider asking for a refill

The food goes does easy, filling you with energy. The mead and water respectively is also a nice refreshment. The air is light and the mood is jovial this morning. Everything seems to be easier and pleasant today.

“Wilam,” Salvana calls out to the wizard “I have something for you when you are ready.”

She pulls out several sacks, that are obviously full, placing them on top of the bar counter.

“These were left here for you early this morning by Lord Padraig’s servant. He said if there is anything specific you need to let him know.”

The innkeeper smiles and goes back to work, prepping some food for the day, and cleaning the dishes still remaining from last night.

Unable to resist the temptation, Belimir takes a peek at the sacks content.

“What do we have there, Belimir?”

Fresh provisions, a few candles, enough bedrolls for each member of the party, and several canteens of water fill the sacks.

“Just some random junk. I have no idea why they`re giving us this.”

This strikes Wilam as odd. He finishes his bite and then begins inspecting the bags. “Junk? I think these supplies will do very nicely… Especially if we’re out for more than a day.” Wilam eyes the elf and realizes why he would consider such provisions as worthless. “Not all of us are able to rest comfortably in makeshift beds… and eating small, raw animals is not my idea of a good meal.”

Belimir shrugs, understanding that the old man is used to soft cushions, made beds and comfort. “Nature provides. It always has. You just forgot about it.”

Jiles wakes to his usual routine. He spends some time cleaning his crossbows, making sure they fire, and checking for any signs of wear. He yawns tiredly – mornings are not his time of the day. All good things happen in the night. He had been up late the night before, drinking cider and relaxing in the inn.

Did Lugg have anything to do with this? Or was he just a pawn?

Jiles arrives downstairs in time to catch some food. He nods to Wilam and the others, sitting down with them. While chewing on some food, “Morning gents. Thanks once again for the most excellent timing. Any idea what’s going on? Why was Ninaran, a seemingly normal elf from this village, raising the undead for Orcus?”

“She was an acolyte of the Demon Prince… but I don’t suspect she was going around offering that detail in casual conversation. As for what is going on, I believe I know. But we should not discuss it here… we don’t know who we can trust here, in Winterhaven.”

Jiles nods slowly and knowingly, looking around the room for any possible eavesdroppers. “Fair enough. I shall wait until we have left the confines of Winterhaven.”

Eating a bit more, Jiles decides to elaborate a bit more on his story. "When I came here from Falcrest, I was given a letter by a brute of a man, named Lugg. The letter, " he points to Varro, “that letter that you have, Varro, is what I’m sure I was given. I was given the task of delivering the letter, for a price. That seems to implicate Lugg, but I can’t imagine, given his intelligence, that he is anything more than a pawn.” He chews on a bit of unknown meat, looking at it strangely for a minute, then shrugging with a smile before devouring the rest. “Unless you have a course of action set, maybe we should check out where Ninaran lived. I am assuming that you would not be adverse to my helping you deal with this matter.” Given how much money they got for clearing out some kobolds, we should see a fair bit for dealing with this undead, Orcus lover issue.

“We need all the help we can get. If you’re handy with a blade, I’m sure we can find some cultists to draw some blood. If Lugg is back in Falcrest, then I doubt we have anything to worry about here… but we could investigate when we return. Varro has some business there when we’re finished with the keep.”

“But before venturing to the keep, do you think there is anything we might learn from Ninaran’s dwelling? It should be easy enough to stop at before we head to the keep.” Jiles take a large swig of cider, smiling happily as it washes down some food.

“Splendid idea, if I don’t say so myself. It hadn’t even occurred to me that she would have a place here in Winterhaven. Is that something you could do on your own? Or would you need some assistance? I’m afraid I’m not very well versed in…” Wilam lowers his voice, “breaking and entering.”

Jiles winks. “I can definitely get us in, but no need in being too secretive. She is dead, after all, and one of the enemies of the town now. If you like, I can do it myself, but for anything magical I’ll be completely at a loss.” Jiles shrugs, leaning back in his chair. He pulls out a shuriken, and begins flipping it through his knuckles in his left hand. With his other hand he runs his fingers through his hair. “Up to you really, I’m quite flexible.”

Listening to the conversation and not having much to add, Varro continues to sip on his cider and pack his morning pipe. Once the pipe is sufficiently packed with his favorite sweet smelling tobacco, Varro wanders to the fire and lights his pipe from a piece of tinder. After lighting his pipe he returns to the table and waits for the others to finish their meals and develop a plan as he sips his cider and smokes his pipe.

Ehud wakes with a splitting headache and a warm snoring body next to him. Frick! How? I don’t remember… what the frick. He get’s up slowly seeing a white haired woman sleeping next to him. Frick! It’s a fricking half-drow! He get’s out of his bed as quietly as he can and grabs his stuff. He tries to sneak out the door and then gets dressed in the hall.

Finally dressed, Ehud heads down the stairs, his head pounding. He grunts at the others as he sits down with them at the table and forces himself to drink a lot of water and eat some toast.

Jiles winks to Ehud, a sly grin forming on his face. He fills a cup with some cider at the table, and slides it in his direction. “How’s your head? I noticed you had quite the good time last night.”

“My head feels like a fricken squirrel got inside my ear and started fricken humping my fricken brain while digging for fricken nuts at the same fricken time,” Ehud grumbles around some unbuttered toast. He eyes the cider before picking it up and then swirls it around a little before sipping at it while listening to the others.

Salvana pipes up, having heard the adventurers talk about Ninaran’s House.

“I really hate to burst your bubble, but Ninaran was a ranger and a hunter, I am not sure where she dwelled, but I do know it was not within Winterhaven’s walls.”

Jiles sighs, and sheathes his shuriken. Scratch that idea then.

Noticing that everyone is finishing up their breakfast and about ready to head out, Varro puts out his pipe and finishes the last of his cider.
“Well dat be about enough Chinwaggin, don’t ya recken, Lets be hittin da road. To da keep straight away or ya recken da necro’s house be needin a quick once over? "

“A’ight Lets get ta movin.”

Valthrun the Prescent approaches the group as they begin to gather their belongings to head out to the Keep.

“Heroes of Winterhaven, May I have a word with you before you depart? It is about the keep you are about to venture into.”

Varro seeing this might take a few moments more grabs a few canteens from the sacks and begins filling them with cider for the trip. after filling the fourth canteen with any help that is offered from the inn staff. He attaches them all to his pack and listens to the conversation.

Ehud sighs.

It turned out that the sacks didn`t contain anything interesting, and Belimir finished his breakfast and was begining to feel a bit caged in the inn. He started walking toward the door when Valthrun approached them. Interested in what he might have to say, Belimir stopped. “Speak up, but be quick about it. What about the keep?”

Wilam turns from the bags of supplies and raises his eyebrows questionably at Valthrun, How did he know we were departing? Padraig must have trouble keeping secrets… Gods help us if the whole town already knows we’re leaving.

“I would be doing you wrong if I were to allow you to depart without telling you the legends of the Keep. And not to worry, Lord Padraig did not spread word of your quest to others, I am the Sage and Lorekeeper in Winterhaven, and have been here longer than many of it’s current inhabitants. You could consider me Lord Padraig’s advisor. Your secret mission is safe with me.”

He clears his throat.

“I disgress though, let me begin the legend…”

“The people of Winterhaven avoid Shadowfell Keep. Some
leave it alone because all ancient ruins have a disturbing
feeling about them, a feeling composed of lingering
memories and unknown mysteries. Some say the place
is haunted. Others fear the rumors of goblinoids using
the place as a lair. Whatever the reason behind its solitude,
one fact is clear. Within two short decades after the
collapse of the Nareth Empire, Shadowfell Keep was abandoned
and left to fall apart and decay. It was on a grisly
night about eighty years ago that the commander of the
keep garrison, Sir Keegan, put into motion the events that
led to the keep’s downfall.
Perhaps the Shadow Rift’s malign influence is too
strong to resist. Maybe Sir Keegan was an insane monster
driven by demons we may never understand. Whatever
the case, at the stroke of midnight on that fateful day, Sir
Keegan began to systematically slaughter every resident of
the keep. His own wife and children were first to fall to his
blade, then his trusted advisors, and finally many of the
soldiers under his command. Sir Keegan was too skilled
for any one soldier to defeat, yet eventually the garrison
managed to respond with an organized defense. Although
many brave soldiers died, they managed to drive the mad
knight into the passages beneath the keep and finally dispatch
him.
The keep became notorious for a time. As one of the
last bastions of the fallen empire, there was no one to
order it back into service. So, it was abandoned, feared for
a time, and eventually, more or less forgotten. An earthquake
a few years later collapsed the upper towers and
walls, and turned the place into a ruin of tumbled stone.
Rumors persist of great treasures buried beneath the
keep, yet few have dared explore the passages over the
year. Sir Keegan’s ghost is said to roam the corridors
beneath the ruins, wailing in grief over the tragedy of his
life. The people of Winterhaven avoid the place, and the
mere mention of Shadowfell Keep is considered bad luck
by many of the farmers and villagers.”

After the longwinded story, Valthrun nods at the group, waits for any questions.

After answering all the questions, Valthrun leaves the Inn and goes about his daily routines.

Ehud mutters under his breath, “Pleasent fellow that Keegan.”

Belimir was mesmerized by Valthrun`s story. He was never this quiet, or this focused. The fact is, He likes a good story, and the one Valthrun told was the kind he liked best. We are going to that place…..of legend! WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?
“Thank you, sir. Thank you soooooo much. Let`s not waste any more time guys! We will find the answers to what really happened in that keep. Let`s go. That ghost isn`t getting any younger you know. 80 years is a loooooong time. He might have forgot some details about his demise!”
Belimir quickly leaves the inn, and waits impatiently at the town gate for the others. This is going to be so great. Wait till I find that ghost and solve this mystery! And then when I tell Vid about all this. He`s gonna be so proud of me!

Wilam thanks Valthrun for his words and the warning about the possibility of a ghost. “I’m ready to depart as soon as Francis returns from his errand.”

Francis taps Wilam on the shoulder. “I’m right here, friend. Apple?”

“Ah! Wonderful. Lets get going, then.” Wilam waves off the apple, patting his belly, “No thank you… I’m quite full already.”

Francis takes a bite of the apple. “Hmm, your loss.”

Arden moves slowly down the stairs and towards the group as they begin to stand and gather their belongings. Looking a little gray, he addresses the group. “Good morning everyone…. ouch…. no more celebrations for a bit eh? That’s some strong mead. Looks like we’re on our way, did I miss anything exciting?” Arden looks around and grabs any food he can find, ready to eat it as they move towards the gate.

“Good morning, Arden. You just missed Francis’ apple… but there are a few biscuits left.” Wilam holds up one of the supply bags from Padraig, “We have plenty of supplies, I’m sure we can find something while we’re on the road.”

“Ah perfect… they gave us bedrolls too. I seem to have forgotten mine somewhere… saves me a trip to the merchant.” Arden grabs a couple biscuits to tide himself over until lunch. Stomache’s not feeling too well anyway.

Jiles grabs his cloak he had hanging on his chair, throwing it around his shoulders in a theatrical fashion. He reaches down and grabs his crossbows, checking that they both cock and fire well, he replaces them beneath his cloak. “Let’s get going then. Day light is wasting.”

“a’ight den we ready, ya gots ya history and I be having me a bit of cider fer da road… Lets get ta goin den.” Varro with all his gear heads for the door and the city gate.

“Fricken cultists,” Ehud mutters. He pauses to think about what he has gotten himself into. Ehud then runs to catch up with Varro as fast as he can.

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Episode 17: A Fresh Start

The night passes uneventfully with everyone resting and carrying on with stories of their past. The morning breaks with a sweet, cool dew covering the ground. The chill morning air is overly refreshing and the feeling is calm around them. The dawn crests the horizon, making this cold and haunting place not seem as dead and uninviting.

The party wakes and discusses their course of action for the day…

The panther stretches its paws. Early morning. And just the way he likes it. His stomach was empty and was nagging Belimir. The panther takes a short walk, trying to find a stream to drink water. He`ll go hunting from there. But first to make sure the rest of the party is still OK. A peek through the bushes revealed that they were sleeping. Good. They`re alive. Although he wouldn`t admit it openly, he was growing very fond of the party. Even the new guys. His stomach talked back, evidently dissatisfied by Belimir`s current thoughts. This is not a way to start the day. Now off we go. Better find some breakfast. A nice and tasty rabbit. Or a fat, juicy quail. His stomach responded again, this time in agreement.

Wilam wakes slowly… the peaceful air is refreshing. Wilam begins to take account of himself and finds he feels much better than he expected. He didn’t have any nightmares—no dreams at all, in fact. That’s odd… especially since we’re so close to a place of such great power. I guess no dreams is better than bad dreams.

He stands and stoops to gather his bedding. As he does, he remembers the gash in his leg from the kruthik battle. It’s gone! The deep wound was nothing more than a scratch. I guess The Day has set out to give me nothing for which I may complain. He finishes collecting his belongings and heads over to meet with the others.

“Find day, this one, wouldn’t you say?”

“find day?” Varro cocks his head at the unusual salutation “Wilam, did ya sleep on a rock?” belly laugh

“To be honest, Varro, I can’t remember ever sleeping so well.” I can’t believe I’m saying this… we’re in the middle of a rocky hilltop, for crying out loud! “Don’t tell Belimir I said that, or he’ll see to it that I never lay my head on a feather pillow again.”

Tootle-oo-toot tweet-tootle-tooFWEEP! Panpipes shriek to a discordant halt as the gnome trips and falls.
BUGGER these blasted roots with a flaming half-orc’s knobby fist! They’re EVERYWHERE!”
Stumbling over yet another tree root, Vigo shares his heartfelt feelings with the woods,
“I swear, whoever built trees is a sap!” Momentarily mimicking an old man’s voice, he continues, “Go to the old keep, there resides ancient and powerful magic there… My ASS! There’s a shit-ton of wood, scattered about the forest floor in a sadistic web of woe and trees blocking my view every which-way! When I get my hands around old Nimoz—- NIMROD’S neck, I’m gonna play him like a friggin’ bagpipe. Why do old people hate me so much? It’s not my fault they’re on death’s door! It’s not my fault I can expect to outlive ‘em by a couple centuries! Sheesh! Sonnova… oh, my toes… I need to find out if there’s a god of toes I’ve offended… might explain my new-found limp better than root-kicking…”

The foppish little gnome pauses his tirade as he notices the forest’s sudden silence. “Right,” he mutters to himself, “creepy stuff around here. Snap it together; this calls for the role of Vigorous Vigo… but with subtlety.”

Pushing his miniature top hat back in place and dusting himself off, Vigo takes stock of the surrounding forest. Up ahead it looks like the top of a hill is near. Is that stone ahead? I may not have many more roots to bumble over.
“Thank-you, oh God of Toes, whose name I, in my mortal feebleness, do not know. Your mercy is greater than my pain… almost.” Making his way onward, he finds his hopes fulfilled as the ruins slowly resolve themselves, distinct from the surrounding forest. As the walls loom closer and footing improves, he straightens up, drawing himself to his full three foot seven inch height. Quickly transformed into a dapper little gent, he steps confidently through a break in the outer wall, eyeing the surroundings with aloof curiosity.

“Heck, this place isn’t that old… older than me, sure… I wonder if any ghosties heard that last tune. Heh! Might’ve scared ’em off with that last note!” He shrugs, takes a deep breath, and begins to sing:

My brother’s a priest of Bahamut,
He saves fallen women from sin!
For five gold he’ll save you a redhead.
My gods how the money rolls in!

My father sells sheep’s guts to sailors,
He pricks every head with a pin!
My mother sells backstreet abortions,
My gods how the money rolls in!

My gods how the money, my gods how the money
My gods how the money rolls in!

“See ghosties? I’m not all that bad… just misguided.” Chuckling to himself, Vigo begins to wander the perimeter of the ruins, piping a gentle tune as he goes.

The most unusal sound can be heard echoing around the ruins as the party goes about their morning rituals.

It sounds as if something is singing…and it seems to be getting closer…
Wilam doesn’t hear a thing.

Arden rubs his eyes in his bedroll as he hears the other stir about the camp. Yawning and streching he stands; taking a look around him he begins talking to himself, “What is that echoing noise? We may have another drunken dwarf on our hands by the sound of it! Doesn’t sound too unfriendly but we best be prepared.”

Arden moves to wake anyone who is still sleeping and make them aware of the singing which seems to be getting closer to their camp. Seeing Wilam is the only one up, he turns to the old man, “Do you hear that singing Wilam?”

Wilam strains his ears…“Eh? What’s that you say?”

As he wanders around, Vigo pauses from time to time, extending his senses through his music to the world around him, feeling the arcane energies present through the harmonics of his song.

There once was a Robin who lived in the West
He discovered a very strange egg in his nest
He turned to his wife with an angry remark
She said “Don’t get ruffled, I did it just for a lark”

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

A sparrow and vulture once met in the air
Soon they were coupling, a love hungry pair
The passionate vulture emitted some bleats
The sparrow inquired, “Am I hurting you sweets?”

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Sniff, Sniff Varro drops what he is doing and sniffs the air .. Sniff. sniff… “I be smellin sumting” sniff, sniff “it …. it … smells like …” sniff, sniff, Varro looks at the bottom of each boot in turn. He then looks to each of his companions “did sumbody step is sumting?” sniff, sniff " I be smellin …yep… I be smellin"

Varro darts into the forest and towards the keep, axe in hand.

“Well, there goes Cannonball… I guess we will hear him if he needs any help, I’m not about to chase after him until I wake up.” Arden stretches and yawns again, rubbing his sore back due to the hard ground.

Varro zigs and zags thru the forest like an experienced elven ranger, sniffing the air the whole time. As he approaches the gnome, he identifies his prey and stalks him like a cheetah in the Savana stalking a zebra, ready to spring on the unexpecting prey.

Varro pounces from the underbrush and gets right in the face of the gnome.

sniff, sniff hmmm, you ain’t much bigger den da half-pint." sniff, sniff “ya smell like…like …ya dat be wut ya smell like.” taking the gnome by the arm he leads him back to the camp and the others. "da udders are goin ta love meetin ya… jus wait till da lich and da dragon met ya … ummm … me dragon died, very sad, so ya not be metting ’im … but wait till ya met me lich. He be very interested in meeting ya … ooo oi an da devil cat will just eat ya up … well not eat ya, per say but I recken he be likin ya too … " Varro continues his standard greeting to all new party members as he leads him back to the camp in his vice like grip.

“Wha-? Yer…but… Yes, well. I can finish the song as we walk. So uh, how is it you can smell anything when you clearly haven’t bathed in, what, three days? A week? Oh… I uh, I’m not complaining or anything, just uh, y’know, making an observation… complimentary, of course, on your sharp olfactory senses… naturally.”

Vigo considers his options and decides the worst concern is likely a large cooking pot. With any luck, it won’t be gnome-stew-sized, and he decides to see what he can see.

“A lich you say? How uh, how evil is this lich, exactly?” he asks, as he prepares to talk his way out of slavery to an undead necromancer of unknown might. “You don’t mind me singing a bit, do you? I find a tune is perfect for travel, over any distance, great or small.”

How to kiss a duck’s bum without tasting the down
This answer has come from the men of renown
Endless experiments have those them the trick
First you blow, then you kiss but you’ve got to be quick!

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

There was once a parrot with strings on his feet
If you pulled on the right string he’d recite Della Bleat
If you pulled on the left string he’d act out a farce
If you pulled on them both he’d fall flat on his…beak

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Thinking quickly, Vigo weighs his options, comparing them to what he’s heard of liches and the undead. A surreptitious sniff or two reveals no stench of corpses, bones, or rotting flesh… just road-worn dwarf. Perhaps a fake lich? I’ve certainly pretended to greater power than I can honestly claim, when it suited; could be a similar ploy here… though spilling the beans may be unwise. Yes, playing along is best, whether it’s music or lies, at least until the jig is up. Not willing to drop his guard, the gnome again stretches his arcane senses through his music, seeking any sign of a lich on the path ahead.

As the gnome continues to protest in the most flattering of ways that a bearded gnome can, Varro doesn’t cease his pace of foot or of tongue. “well ya see dat whens Is first be sniffin ‘im out I be knowin dat it be lich by dat smeller sulfer, it be kinda smellin likes bad eggs but it be a lil diff’ernt, buts when I be catchin ‘im he be swearin ta not bein a lich, I be reckenin dat iffen I bes a lich, den I be swearin dat I not be ones too. It justs be commons like sense and all. Did I mention I used ta be havin me very own dragon toos… well … I don’tin be havin den both at da same time.. Me dragon fell ta some critters in da road, and den whens we reached da town and found fittin burial fer me dragon dats when I be findin me lich. well wouldn’t ya be knowin it I just be loosin me Eduh, he be dis persistant kinda bounty hunter, I be thinkin he used ta be part …we he be part sumting … I be seein him more den once sprout des wings and fly tru da air. He musta been part sumting, not be sure wut but he got ate by rats, we fixin ta have him buried too, I recken. and nows I be meetin you …wut are yous anyway … I be knowin wut me sniffer tells me yous are, but I guess I be figurin dat I ask yas wut you are and den I be figurin dat iffen you be sayin wut I be figurin den I recken dat yous it but Iffen yous say sumting diff’ernt den I be proven dat yous wut I be figurin yous be from dat start and yous just tryin ta hides it like da lich be. So wut are yous?”

“Son of Muradin, with these words you’re murderin’… what I am, is confused.”

“Wut?” Varro asks as he comes to a dead stop and looks at the gnome with his head cocked to the side.

“I’m a gnome… you’re a dwarf… The rest remains a mite vague, but I sense a story worth telling again and again, as soon as I have the threads untangled and woven into a proper yarn. My name is Vigo. An ancient old fella by the name of Nimozaran mentioned old magic around here, and I came to see it for myself.”

“Now is dat Ve-go, or Vi-go?” the Stubborn dwarf doesn’t seem to hear the rest

Vigo pauses for a moment, eyeing the dwarf. Looks battle-hardened…talks like a…well, he’s survived at least a dozen concussions, so he can’t be a worthless fighter, graceless words or no…

“Truth be told, my name is a pun. My whole name is Vigo Dhatway.” Pointing forward, in the direction he’s been walking, he says in an odd accent, “Veego Dhatway, yez?” and continues walking, dropping the accent, “Yes, of course we go that way… where is it we’re headed, anyway?”

“So wut ya be sayin is dat ya name is We-go, and ya ain’t no leprechaun?” Varro starts to loosen his grip then tightens it and renews his pace towards camp “LiksIsaid, Iffen I be a leprechaun den I be sayin dat I weren’t one too. Oh boys, oh boys, I be bettin me mudders best ale dat ol’ devil kitty ain’t n’ver bes layin his eyes on nos leprechaun… OOO Oi is he goin ta bes gettin a tickle out ov yous, So ya be tellin me, where it be da best place ta be hidin a pot ov gold at anyways … I be reckenin ya be damns good at dat.”

As the duo approach the camp, Varro stops talking to Vigo and starts announcing their arrival “Ya alls come and see wut I be findin off in da woods, I be catching me a Leprechaun!” Varro nearly lifting the gnome off his feet as the dwarf shows off his prize.

Arden chuckles as the “Leprechaun” is introduced. Varro sure does have a way with words.. I hope the little one isn’t offended.

Francis breaks from his morning meditation when the Vigo and Varro come to camp. He opens his eyes and remains quiet, gathering information to assess the visitor.

“Mmm… leprechaun, yes. But sadly, the last dwarf to find me took my gold and now all I have is a song.”

“dats um ok, I weren’t be lookin fer ya gold, I be hearin dat kinda stuff be cursed anywho, I just wantta be showin, er… intruducin ya ta me udder finds, and maybes we can be helpin ya find dat missin golds ov yers”

So here’s to the birds, let us sing loud their praise
Their Plumage, their habits, their natural ways
We’re grateful for birds flying up in the sky
Just think of the fall out if Horses could fly!!!

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Varro trys to sing along but always seems to be a beat or two behind.

That quail was DELICIOUS! It`s been a while since I had wild poultry for breakfast. I even had to chase it! The panther was walking back to the camp when he heard some noise coming from the direction of the keep. He hid quickly and found out that Varro was dragging something. I already had breakfast, but what the hell. An extra meal wouldn`t hurt! With sudden burst of speed, Belimir (in his panther form) charges from the bushes, knocking both the dwarf and the gnome down on their stomachs. He turns the gnome so he can see his face, saliva dripping from his mouth, his tongue slowly circling the panthers lips. Good hunting Varro. We can eat for a whole week now!

Hitting the ground hard, Varro flings the gnome called leprechaun towards Wilam and the others
“ya damn devil cat, ya can eat em after da udders get ta meet ’im, DAMNIT!”

“You did mention something about critters, as I recall, didn’t you?” Vigo quickly takes stock of those around him, noting a distinct lack of lich. Better than it could be…

Dusting himself off once again, he rights his hat and sits himself down acting, for all the world, as if he owns this particular patch of dirt. “I’m Vigo… you folks ever met Nimozaran in Fallcrest?”

Wilam’s ears perk up at the name of Nimozeran. His eyes narrow, but he does his best to hide the fact that he’s noticed. Nimozaran, that dog’s name should be outlawed. Wilam becomes lost in his anger concerning the Wizard and quickly forgets that he’s suppose to be hiding his disdain. He’s instantly suspicious of the gnome. No doubt this fool was sent here to spy on us!

“Well met Vigo, my name is Arden, I hope that Dwarf isn’t giving you too much trouble!”

“A pleasure, Arden; no trouble, just unexpected excitement (which is the best kind, usually).”

“Nimbo who?, I be hearin dat ol’ Sneaky does a mean Limbo … but never heard ov no Nimbo, ow about ya Darky, ya everin be hearin about any Nimbo-sumting-or-anudder?, or ya Wilam da Lich, ya be da type dat has ta ov heard ov a Nimbo, dat be soundin like a lich name iffen I ev’r heard ov one.”

“Oooh, I’ve heard of him, all right,” Wilam scowls. “He flaunts his magic for every child or wench he can find. Sells it cheaper than a floozey with crabs sells a trick.”

“oh wait … ya ain’t be talkin about dat ol’ half crazy, half loony bugger ov a finger waggler dat lives in da tower back in Fallcrest are’s ya… he be about a bellfree short of a bat’s nest. Oh and he be doin dos god-awful shows all da damn time … I be seein a mule wit da squirts be puttin on a better show. How did ya be luckin out ta be knowin dat ol’ coot?”

“Luck?… well a sort of luck, I suppose; and yes, ‘belfry short of a bat’s nest’ that’s the very one I mean. I came to Fallcrest to see the greatbigwooptydoopty show of theirs and missed it by a bit. Lucky me. So I headed up to that ghastly green knob and knocked on the door. Long story short (not something I’m oft inclined to, mind you) the old Geezer of Wheezer pointed me this direction.”

“Fer Wut?”
“I understand there’s supposed to be some magic around here beyond his ken… and what with his wrinkles, I assumed that meant magic worth looking at.”

" I be seein"
“So far, no dice… just roots, trees, and broken walls.”

“Well, If me lich ov a friend, der Wilam be assistin me, in da story tellin den I suppose dat ya be right, der be Majiks in der keep buts it bes da diff’ernt kinds den ya be hopin fer… it be majiks of da death gods …or was it demon god …. er Wilam Help me out ’er”

Wilam is unsure about how much he should be explaining at this point… his trust in Vigo is far from substantiated. “The Prince of Demons,” Wilam offers. He attempts to change the subject, “And for the record, I’m no more a lich than you are a leprechaun. Varro has a way with names… he refuses to respect their propriety.”

Wilam continues to pay attention Vigo’s mannerisms and looks for clues of lying. His head is cloudy from the morning and Vigo’s energy seems to be one (or two) steps ahead of Wilam’s observational prowess.

“Prince of Demons? Oh Nimrod… what’s your game, senility or sadism? Well met Wilam, glad to hear you’re not a lich!” Vigo peers at the older man for a moment… then nods briefly to himself, as if satisfied that Wilam is indeed not a lich.

Varro`s friend, eh? So I don`t get to eat him. Oh well…. The panther slowly steps back from the gnome, goes a few steps away and then thumps to the ground. He starts licking his paws and his fur.

“dats a good demon kitty, Lets be seein iffen we can be usin him befer we eat ’im … iffen he be turnin out worthless den I be volenteerin ta be da first to turn da spic da we be roastin him on” Varro turns to the gnome and grins an innocent smile. “no offence”

Oh my, what’s all this commotion. What a strange night.

Brann tries to recall the flashes of his dreams but they fade away without revealing themselves.

Well let’s see what has got everyone up and about. Someone new at the camp, this should be interesting.

“Greetings, young lad, I’m Brann. I’m sure Varro has been his usual charming self, but if he hasn’t already offered, would you like some food to start your day?”

Vigo hops up from his seat on the ground and executes a precise bow. “Sir, I would be delighted in some real food. I’ve subsisted on these journeybread things for the past fortnight (minus a couple days in Fallcrest) and they lose their appeal in less than a week, I assure you… Though, if you’re not tired of them yourself, I’ll happily share.” The gnome dips his hand into his nearly-empty pack, producing a few wafer-shaped packets of waxed paper. “Ol’ Nimrod’s nice enough for being decrepit, but I think his teeth are likely an illusion. This stuff’s all I saw in his pantry when he was preparing me for my journey out here. He told me, ’Go to the old keep, there resides ancient and powerful magic there. What you seek is beyond my means, but the old keep is certainly that!” though I suspect now, that he was just trying to get rid of me… I fear he may have tired of me rather quickly, what with his advanced years and crotchety ways. Y’see, I make my way in the world with story and song, being an adherent of the illustrious bardic profession… and I think Nimrod hates music."

Vigo’s toes still smart a bit and he limps slightly as he wanders toward the hospitable dwarf, proffering his food. “So uh, have you gents seen aught of mighty magics that might make for a tall tale, hereabouts? That is one hell of a cat you’ve got there! The Prince of Demons isn’t really my cup o’ tea, per se, but stories on the subject go over pretty well in taverns, when the night is stormy.”

Wilam decides to hold his tongue and pretends he didn’t hear the question.

“We’re not really sure what’s in those ruins yet. So far just a bunch of goblins and slimey creatures… oh, and rats…” Ehud’s half eaten corpse flashes into Arden’s mind, just fast enough to catch him off guard and make him flinch.

Arden clears his throat, “So it sounds like you’re meaning to join us in searching the ruins…. it will be nice to hear some melodic sounds other than that ones mumblins and grumblins, and gaseous noises.” Arden jerks his thumb towards Varro with a smirk.

Faking that he was insulted “Hey!… whatdahell be dat?”

Varro watches and enjoys the new party members induction ceremony as it seems to be. Soon after a short and jovial exchange between Arden and himself, Varro also partakes of the breakfast and the lightened spirits of the day. Hell ov a group we be havin, a darky, a sneaky, a half-pint, a lich, a demon cat, brudder Brann, and a cannonball. Now wes got us a leprechaun, Damn iffen I only still had me Dragon and da udders …dis would be a perfect team. but I be saying it be damn good da way it be … indeed damn fine “Damn fine!”

Varro eats some more to make it seem that he was talking about the meal.
Varro smiles and enjoys the rest of the morning with his companions.

The group talks amongst themselves throughout the morning, getting to know their newest companion, Vigo.

Jiles goes about his business this morning, rummaging through his things, fixing a short breakfast of sweetwater biscuits and spring water.

As he sits on a log near the rest of the party, his mind trails back over the past few days. He thinks back to his most recent time in Fallcrest, all the jobs he pulled and the scraps he got himself into.

“Huh. I can’t believe I forgot about this.” Jiles thinks to himself as he pulls a necklace out from a pocket hidden inside his cloak.

A radiant necklace made of solid gold with very intricate patterns carved into ivory beading along its length. It feels somehow warm in his hands.

“This little beauty almost cost me my left foot!” Jiles finds the unyeilding urge to put the necklace around his neck.

“I wonder how this would look with my armor…”

As he slips the necklace around his head, the warming sensation flows through his body, enveloping him in a very comfortable feeling of relaxation and serenity.

Jiles stands to introduce himself to Vigo.

He walks over raising his hand in greetings.

“…”

“……” Jiles opens his mouth to say hello, yet no words come out.

“…..” Try as he might, Jiles has become silenced somehow.

He tries to remove the necklace, but is unable to as it is magically fastened to his neck.

Jiles has been cursed with a silence spell!

Embarrassed, Jiles does his best to hide the fact he was foolish enough to fall for such a simple dweomeanor.

Vigo looks over at the white cat, pondering its abnormal behavior. Pounce and release? Last time I saw that it was followed by pounce and release and pounce and CHOMP. "Your kitten friend here seems well-behaved at the moment, and by your acceptance of it, I assume it’s a pet of some sort? And, perhaps more importantly, will it bide it’s hunger while we break our fast? I’m not fond of being nipped at while enjoying my first real meal in awhile… " he trails off expectantly as he waits for an explanation.

A pet? A PET? Did he just call me a pet? Why that little! Next time I`ll just eat him! I don`t care if gnomes or leprechauns aren`t good for ones stomach! I`ll just eat the little thing!
The panther shoots darts from his eyes at Vigo.

Varro looks to Belimir … Recken I be tellin ‘im … na … better ta see da look on ’im face when ol’ Belimir changes in front of ‘im … Varro smiles a bit at Vigo
“jus n’ver can tell wut mood dat da cat be in, ya jus watch ya back an be quick on ya feet when he be hungry. Belly Laugh

Sensing there’s more to Varro’s joking manner than meets the eye, Vigo examines the cat from his vantage point, a safe distance away, clearly trying to sort out the situation then smiles and shrugs. Seating himself, he begins to eat. After a light repast, he takes out his panpipe and begins to play, listening as always to the flow of energy behind the music. As the tune wanders through a gentle melody and climbs to a wistful refrain, hinting of unnamed longing, the flavor and form of the magics in play around him slowly reveal their harmonies to his mind: a tuneless singing in the voice of snow on the wind whispers to his senses and the cat’s two-legged nature unwinds in his mind’s eye. Druid, eh? Makes sense… can’t say I blame him for his fun… can’t blame me for mine later… the deeper hum of the Earth throbs a basso thrum near him as well. Ah yes, the armor. A faint but sharp buzz, almost like a nearby mosquito sings out from the burly dwarf’s helm. What in the..? Well that’s most interesting, Varro’s well-defended indeed! The familiar tinkling trio of his wand, armor, and amulet play their familiar three part song as well… A clear, susurrating vibrato emanates from the calm dwarf’s vicinity… Holy symbol or somethin’… seems bright and cheery; no lichness to it.

Hmm… Nimozaran, did you know about these folks? They are well-prepared to meet some formidable challenges, clearly expecting to find such here… and they speak of Orcus Himself… Unless this is pure happenstance, it would have been good to warn me, instead of just bustling me out of your way as swiftly as you may… I’ll remember your selfishness when I see you again, and repay you in kind… Okay, maybe that’s not fair, as he did tell me that creepy legend about this place. Still, there must be a song or three I can play at the Inn to make Nimrod look the fool… well, likely not more than he already does, but a fella can try. Setting his pipes aside, the gnome looks at the white panther thoughtfully. “Cat, you and me, we need to come to an understanding if I’m to wander these ruins with you… Ever been eaten by a mouse before? Of course not… not yet. I don’t take kindly to assault, half-hearted or otherwise, though I do appreciate a little mischief. As a creature of Nature, I’m sure you’re familiar with how She balances the scales, and they’re loaded in my favor after your unprovoked scuffing of my person. You didn’t know, so I’m not offended… but now you do, and it’s your only warning. We square?” Vigo winks at the cat, and begins to sing while drumming a simple rhythm on his thigh with both hands.

A worm he met a lark, high among the heather
The lark said to the worm, “Let us talk together.”
And she sang so sweet and clear, with her voice so tender
And the lark she killed the worm, high among the heather.

The lark she met a hawk, of the shiny feather
The hawk said to the lark, “Let us fly together.”
And they flew so high on the wind, as they soared in splendor
And the hawk he killed the lark, high above the heather.

The hawk he met a fox, and he looked so clever
The fox said to the hawk, let us dine together
So the hawk flew down to the ground, as a bird should never
And the fox he killed the hawk, high among the heather.

The fox he met a man, with fine boots of leather
The man said to the fox, “Let us run together”
“You have fine fur.” Said the man, “Warm in cold weather.”
And he killed the fox as they ran, high among the heather.

The man he told a Thief of his trick so clever
“That is fine fur,” Said the Thief, “And fine boots of leather.”
And he killed the man, with his knife, there among the heather
And the worm said to the man, “Let us lie together”

And the worm said to the man, “Let us lie together”

He`s threatening me? What does he think he is? The panther starts showing his teeth, obviously displeased with the gnomes attempt to use words and diplomacy in that manner. I don`t like you one bit. And your singing is off!

“I see teeth. Cats don’t usually smile, and I learned that song from the only druid who ever bothered to talk to me… Lemme put it another way…” Vigo reaches into his pack, digs around for a second, and pulls out some dried meat. “It’s not exactly fresh, but it’s the best I can offer, unless you’re into these terrible biscuit things the Geezer of Wheezer gave me.”

Varro watches the exchange with a smile on his face, under his beard where none can notice, of course, that is until the wrinkles around his eyes nearly cut off all vision, to any who is interested the bellicose dwarf is quite amused.

Dried meat? The panther makes a disgusted face. He`s horrified at the thought of eating that. Feeling he had enough of this game, he changes back to his human form. “…………I take care of my own breakfast……..Thanks for sharing but no. I don`t eat that stuff. Belimir is my name.” He sits near the others and lets them enjoy their breakfast.

“From your expression, I’ve offered you garbage or worse. My apologies. What with my diminutive stature, can we keep the pouncing on me to a minimum? I break easily… I’m good at mending, flesh or stuff, either one, so I’m worth more than the meat on my bones, honest!”

“Belimir be preferin his meals freshly killed”

“I was just trying to see what Varro brought. He`s not very good with explaining what…….who he found……..Maybe my predator instincts got me carried away a little. I`m sorry if I got you bruised.”

Vigo looks himself over. “None the worse for wear, no harm done… and I can uh, understand the confusion with words in Varro’s case; he had me baffled at first. I learned that little ditty from a sweet lady by the name of Red Frond… she had a habit of waking me up by dropping nuts on me from the branches I slept under. Not sure where she is these days, as she stayed in the forest while I followed the road… but she’s the only druid who deigned to speak with me, besides yourself. Pleased to meet you Belimir.”

Unsure as how to react properly, Belimir just nods to the gnome, trying to put a nice smile on his face……somewhat failing in the attempt.

Varro cocks his head to the side, “wut be wrong wit yer face, Belimir?”

“Music and magic are almost the same to me… and I must say, the music of your cat form is quite peaceful. Like snow blowing over crusted ice, all shushing and whooshing without making me cold. Red Frond’s song was more like water laughing over rocks… definitely laughing at things though.”

“What is this Red Frond? I`ve never seen a female druid in my life. You think she`s looking for a mate? What`s her Primal Beast?” Belimir speaks without tact or a flinch. This is obviously the way he thinks people talk about this stuff.

Vigo pauses for a moment in thought. “I’m not sure I know the answer to any of those questions, exactly. She is human, but I doubt that’s what you mean when you ask what she is. I only saw her take another form once, and it was no animal I recognized… almost like a blend of natural aspects, rather than any one creature. As to mates, well, I have a hard enough time telling when a lady-gnome has noticed anyone, let alone a druid who suddenly sprouted thick fur, feathers, and sharp claws. I suppose you could ask her, but I expect she’d laugh at you like she laughs at everything… it’s a kindly laugh, though.”

Looking around at the group he asks, "So, I take it these ruins aren’t just busted rocks and such? I was actually assuming Nimrod was just a doddering fool telling me a tall tale. I figured “tall tales are my stock in trade, so why not go for a walk?” but I see from your gear and apparent experience that this place might be more than an old story after all."

“I`ll take that as a promise!” Belimir thinks for a moment. It`s been………..forever since he had a mate……….And last time didn`t end quite well…But he didn`t want to spend the time remembering stuff like that. Who knows what this Frond is like. Giggly, eh?

Francis stands next to Belimir. “Stay calm, my unaligned friend,” he whispers in Elven. “It is passions that destroy us.”

He puts his hand on Belimir’s shoulder and then turns to face Vigo. “Good sir,” he begins. “If it is true that you are apt in…mending, then there may be some mutual utility in a shared expedition to the ruins.”
He slowly walks toward Vigo, keeping his eyes fixed on his audience. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone shorter than myself, he thinks as he nears the gnome. “Be prepared for more than a story, however. For even the smallest dangers may prove lethal. We lost…” He looks down at his feet, composes himself. “We lost a friend yesterday.”
He faces the ruins, his back now to Vigo. “It is important, for your sake and ours, that we can rely on you. That you can hold up in the heat of combat.” He stops. Letting the silence add to his words.

Vigo meets the halfling’s gaze directly, measuring his words. “I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve faced riots and war in childhood, leading ultimately, to a life on the road (which is not entirely safe). As you may have noticed, I can keep my cool when surrounded, outnumbered, and outmatched. That said, I’m not one to overlook or underestimate… several dead have done so. I would know more of what you face though, as I try not to overestimate myself, nor promise what I cannot provide.”

Vigo pauses, considering his next words carefully. If I don’t pass muster, I’ll miss my best chance yet to see beyond the last five years… Coming to some sort of conclusion, the little bard takes a slow breath and continues,“When I met Nimozaran, I came to him seeking magic mighty enough to pierce the strongest veils, for my family and my past are hidden by such a thing. This was beyond him, he claimed, but said such power may reside here. Nimozaran then told me a tale of this tower’s history, involving a demon lord and the tower commander. He implied that the common belief is that the commander was overwhelmed by dark powers and slew most of the tower’s garrison, starting with his own wife and children… He also said the commander’s ghost is rumored to haunt this place still. As you can imagine, I took this for fanciful embellishment of a grisly story… but your presence and battle-ready state seem to imply that this legend may be less fanciful than I would like. Honestly, I’m absolutely certain that I’m no match for a Demon Prince… but I’m willing to bet my life that no such being is here, else we’d not be safely having this conversation. Can you clarify the tales I’ve heard with a little reality? What have you seen in this place? What has happened?”

“We be seein Goblins, and devil lizbugs, ooo an a blob of goo, and I recken ya be hearin about da rats. Den we decided ta take a break an rest an den tackle it again fresh … speakin ov which how much longer we goin ta be hang around ere chinwaggin. wes gots a keep ta be clearin out an I be figurin dat da new feller be da new mapper. Ya gots any mappin skills der leprechaun?”

Francis turns around, facing both Varro and Vigo. “The longer we spend out here, the closer Kalarel and his followers get to their goals.” He begins packing up his things. I’m not sure about this one, he thinks to himself. I’ve a mind to put him on a very short leash. Metaphorically, speaking of course.

“I can map the path of music relatively well, but cartography isn’t something I’ve ever studied or practiced, really. As long as a simple drawing will suffice, I believe I may be adequate to the task. I do have a well-developed sense for magic, though. Depending on what’s afoot in these ruins, that may be useful, or not. Aside from that, my skills largely revolve around travel, tales, and sartorial magnificence.” Vigo tugs his vest into place with an automatic gesture, striking a pose that might actually seem impressive on a full-sized person, then turns to Varro. “I’ve played with goblins before, but I’m unfamiliar with ‘devil lizbugs’ or ‘goo’.”
Squaring his shoulders, Vigo pulls out his pipes and begins a light, upbeat ditty. “Shall we proceed?”

Wilam finally speaks up, after silently observing the previous conversations, “Francis is right. I’m ready when the rest of you are. Today we should make our way down to the second level after a quick scour of the first floor. We should know if someone else found our… handiwork.”

Arden stands from eating his breakfast as the others begin to gather their belongings. The morning banter was the perfect compliment to his meal, and left Arden feeling more refreshed and happy than normal. Hard to feel dark and alone when you are surrounded by jovial companions. A smile on his face, Arden packs up his things and is ready to go. “Well then, let us see what the day has in store for us… perhaps we will find some of these Arcane Mysteries that have led us here. I’m also thinking more than a few evil creatures will be meetin’ their maker today.” The smile remains on his face, but a flash of anger is briefly apparant in his eyes.

“True enough. We must find those behind this evil. Kobold minions and large overgrowing blobs aside, there is a far more dangerous foe still lurking. The toll has been high but we must persevere,” Brann sighs quietly as he looks over to Ehud’s corpse. It looks calm and serene after the ritual but serves as a painful reminder of the cost of battling evil.

“As Wilam mentioned, it is likely our battles yesterday have not gone unnoticed. We should expect a more dangerous foe than some unwary miners. I shall be keeping an eye out to assist those of us more prone to finding themselves on the wrong end of painful implements,” he tosses a quick glance at Varro and Belimir, “but do let me know if I should be paying extra attention to your health Vigo.” smile

Noticing the wrapped corpse for the first time, Vigo’s momentary shock is unmistakable. “I’m sorry, I understood you had lost a friend, but I didn’t comprehend the immediate nature of the loss. Again, my condolences. If you would like… well, we don’t really have the time for that now, but perhaps later, when you’ve shared the tale of his life and passing, I can… oh, now I feel silly. If a song will do, I’m happy to offer one; I don’t mean to re-open fresh wounds, however.” Ouch, classy there Vigo. Way to stomp on their feelings with all the grace of a drunken mammoth. Perhaps I should spit on the corpse as well, just to complete my inept display of callousness.

Looking to Brann he continues, “As your skills and mine are somewhat complimentary, let us look after each other as well as our fellows. But, for the record, though I’m small, I’m durable enough for what I’ve faced so far. While we make our way along, can you tell me of what you seek? I heard mention of one ‘Kalarel’ and his followers. Considering this site’s history, do I assume rightly that they have an interest in Orcus? I must confess an extreme curiosity in all things story-like; it’s the curse of my profession, you understand… though I’ve found it wise to contain my interest where it comes to others’ secrets; keep your own counsel on these as you feel appropriate.”

Vigo returns to piping a tune, the melody wandering into a somber progression, hinting at deeper darkness alternating with a hopeful bridge piece. As always, his senses stretch with the music, but his preoccupation with his recent social blunder blinds him to finer details.

“It would be an honour to tell you of Ehud. My ancestors have kept many records in song and otherwise of our heroes and clanmates and it is a fine way of keeping their memory alive. We shall sit once we have dealt with the masters of this keep and toast some ale to Ehud. Although my acquaintance with Ehud was brief, he acted in a manner befitting a champion of good.”

“Hmm, if we are toasting to his memory I will have to try to find you some good dwarven ale.” Brann looks over Vigo appraisingly,“We’ve found that some of the other races don’t always handle it too well though. Do you think you’ll be up to it?”

“I tend to handle liquor fine, in all forms, provided I indulge in gnome-sized quantities.” Vigo winks at Brann. “I don’t think anyone wants to see me too drunk… I’ve been told my singing is truly excruciating when I’m thoroughly sauced. While some may complain at my apparent lack of enthusiasm, I just remind ’em that it means more grog for the rest of the party.”

“A fine drunken song is always welcome to my ears. My voice would hardly do my brethren proud so I keep it stowed away but many of my raucous brothers have turned out a tavern after a strong night of drinking.”

“One thing I’d keep an eye on though is keeping yourself well clothed. I knew a gnome once who after indulging in a particular northern stout would lose all modesty and dance naked on the tables. I’d prefer to avoid dealing with that particular situation again.”

“Clothes make the man, as they say… I sacrifice my threads only when I have no other option… which is to say, I don’t recall stripping down when drunk, but there are many things I don’t recall that did happen.” Vigo gives a little shrug. “Let’s pray I never find out otherwise.”

“I’ll make sure to spend some extra time in my prayers to Moradin to ensure we are all spared such a sight.” wink

“I think we should probably start back to the Keep. Best not to waste time letting our enemies prepare for us.”

Brann starts heading off down towards the keep.
Varro gathers his gear and heads off towards the keep.
Francis follows closely behind.

Belimir was silent for most of the conversation. He was looking at the gnome most of the time. He understood when he was scolded by Brann, and knew he still had to learn how to fight with others. Seeing Varro and Francis move toward the keep, he changes quickly into a puma, hides swiftly in the bushes from where he`ll keep an eye on his friends.

The party heads back down into the belly of the Keep. The find themselves in the initial guard room they fought the goblins in just the day before.

The hallways west leading towards an unexplored section of the keep, and the hallway east towards the excavation site, and the stairs near the southern end of the room await attention.

As the darkness deepens, Vigo reaches into his belt pouch and pulls out a flaming torch. “Nothing like a cold torch to warm my nerves.”

Wilam snaps his fingers and speaks a word of light. His tome ignites in a bright glow, “Only the torch of the Arcane guides my path.”

“Hey taught dat lil ditty were fer me axe.” Varro holds out his Waraxe to be granted with the magical light.

Wilam tries to come up with a good excuse. “Your dwarven eyes should have no trouble down here… but rest assured, when you’re leading the way into pure darkness, your glowing axe can lead the way.”

Vigo puts on his best pouty face. “Go ahead, make me jealous… this stupid stick cost me fifty gold!” With that, he pulls his shield off his back, straps it on his left hand, and stuffs the magic torch into the strap. He then pulls a small, pointy stick, clearly well-crafted, from his belt and holds it like he means to use it. “This magic stick cost me even more, but I’m okay with that. It’s seen some nasties to their final reward… I suspect today will include similar escapades, unless you scared ‘em all off yesterday. Hmm… Wilam’s got his book… Arden, if the worst should happen and I fall over, feel free to use this wand to avenge me.”

“Sure thing Vigo! …. but what does the wand do anyway?”

“Just a magical focus. Your attacks will find their mark a little easier.”

“Aha! I have one of those!” Arden pulls his rod from his belt and holds it up, “Yup, this little bugger helps me hit those ugly Goblins! …. although I fear a wand would not do me much good, I prefer rods – thank you for the offer!”

As the lightshow competition continues, Arden looks cautiously to the hallway leading west, and the rest of the room. “Well I don’t care which way we go to start, I’m sure there are plenty of goblins to go around, but I would suggest that we have Jiles scout the path for us first. I can still feel the drop in my stomache when I fell into that pit, and I know I wasn’t the only one to fall victim to traps yesterday.”

Wilam turns to the west. “If I recall, we haven’t been down that way.”

Francis pulls out his shield and handaxe. “Shall we lead the way, Varro?”

Arden shrugs, “Warriors or Sneaks first, but myself and Wilam aren’t about to volunteer to lead the way!” He chuckles as he playfully slaps Wilam on the back, perhaps a bit too hard for the old man’s shrinking frame.

“Uph!” Wilam is taken by surprise. “Careful, young man! Bad enough the things the other critters down here do to me!” Wilam dusts himself off, as if he had just been rolling in the dirt. “But you are right about one thing… I won’t be leading the way.”

Arden grins sheepishly, “Oops, sorry Wilam, got a little carried away there.”

“Unless our sneakers can see in the dark, all dark spots will require light to search effectively, negating stealth for the most part. We may simply have the sturdiest up front to guard whoever has the best eye for traps and such.”

“Yes but I would think any of the rooms, like this one, which have Goblins or such in it are lit. We have really only found one area of pitch black in these ruins, and those were further into the Caverns – of course when we come to that situation we can worry about light sources.”

“Sounds like you know a lot about such things. Why don’t you take my light and go up front with Varro, there.” Wilam speaks the word of light again and his tome loses its glow. Taking its place, Vigo’s hat begins to shine.

Vigo looks confused for a moment, then takes his hat off and looks it over. His face transforms into the angelic smile of a child in a candy shop. “Oh now THIS is how it should be!!! Uh, here,” he hands his torch to Wilam. “Don’t need both lights up front. Uh, my eyes for traps are hardly the best, but if no one knows the workings of traps, then I’m as good as any, I suppose; I mean, I know lots of stories that have nasty traps, daring thieves, and wondrous loot.” Putting his hat back on his head, the little gnome struts to the front of the group. “Sorry if this AWESOME hat gets in your eyes, magnificence is hard to contain.”

“I second the idea of one of our sturdier companions taking the lead. No offense to the more scholarly among us,” nodding over at Wilam, “but I’m sure Varro can handle a bump or two and I’ll be ready with Moradin’s prayers to keep him going.”

Brann takes a closer looks around now that the magical illumination is in abundance.

“Looks fine enough from here, there doesn’t appear to be any more of those pitfalls we encountered yesterday. Although my area of expertise isn’t really in scouting around for danger.”

Why does it feel so different in here from yesterday? Perhaps it is just sense of failure after we lost Ehud but everything also seems more cramped and enclosing. I was feeling much more in touch with everything around me this morning after talking to Belimir last night about. That feeling seems somewhat oppressed after we entered the keep.

Having a look around for Belimir, Brann draws off back to him to have a quiet word.

“Belimir, I was wondering if you’ve noticed anything different about the keep? I’m not sure how to explain it….” he trails off, unable to fully understand, let alone explain his unrest.

Belimir was walking behind the group. He was silent, thinking about what they are to do next. Now there`s…………onetwothree………six………eight of us. The numbers should be on our side. I better keep out of trouble. These guys can handle things, and I`ll just lurk for any creature that fails to engage them………..Maybe go for the softies in the back………..
After Brann asked him to take a look around, he nodded to the dwarf. “Sorry Brann. Got a bit distracted with……….numbers.” He carefuly looks around their surroundings. Now this room……………

The guard room has not changed since the first encounter the party was in. Although the dreadful, haunting feeling has increased somehow. As if a crazed murderer is stalking the heroes, waiting to drag them off one by one into the shadows…

As the group ponders their next move, Vigo takes a minute to stretch his mind and feel for nearby magic, trying to sense why this place feels so… dark.

Arden yawns and walks ahead of the group to peer down the hall and see what he can see.

“Ya be sure ya wanta be headed dis way, der be anudder door down der in da caverns where we be losin Ehud at, ya sure ya don’t be wantin ta be checkin it out befer we be headin a new way?”Varro asks before heading down the western hall.

Belimir, worried about their original job says, “I must say I think the dwarf is right. We should finish mapping that part. I don`t want to go back and forth, and we will need to explore that area too.”

“Yes, that’s right… Dare I say I am getting ahead of myself due to the excitement of the day?” Oh Wilam, you do love this, don’t you? You’re going to die down here, you know…

Vigo pulls out a small book, flips to a blank page, and begins scribbling as he peers at the walls; slowly, he makes his way around the already-explored portions of the floor, noting what he sees as he goes.

Jiles just shrugs his shoulders and awaits the others to give thier opinions.

Not getting a response from anyone else, as they all stand there slack jawed, and Jiles only shrugging. “a’ight den, I was jus tryin ta present the options … a’ight den … Lets be checkin dis way out”

Varro lets Jiles take the lead and follows behind him about four or five paces.
Jiles turns the corner and not seeing anything continues into the next room.

Francis follows Jiles. If today is anything like yesterday, we’re going to be surprised.

Brann follows along trying to keep his focus on the keep around him to watch for any other trap.

Can’t get this strange feeling out of my head. Need to focus though. Feels like something is itching to get out of this cramped space.

He whispers over to Belimir, “So Belimir, we talked last night about the natural spirits of the world but I never found out how you discovered your ability to shift forms. Was it something that you had always been able to do or did it require training and teaching?”

“Oh it required hard work. Very hard work, patience, pain, blood, dedication to a cause, and an animal, of course. You know. Stuff like that. You can`t really change into an animal without an animal Why do you ask? Varro put you up to this, didn`t he? I already told him how one can become a shape changer. You dwarves are a funny bearded lot. He could have just asked you know. I`m happy to share my knowledge. But honestly, I don`t think he has what it takes to become a fierce animal. His head isn`t in the right place for such a thing. Look at him. It`s under a helmet! A HELMET! Name an animal that wears a helmet?”

“No no Belimir, this has nothing to do with Varro. Indeed his helmet would be a sizable issue.” Helmet? What exactly does a helmet have to do with transforming your whole body? Wait a moment, lets stop getting sidetracked, helmets aren’t important. I was more interested for my own curiosity but perhaps another time would be better."

Brann attempts to set aside the unusual thoughts and images swirling in his mind by settling into a meditative prayer to Moradin asking for clarity and guidance.

“You serious about this? Because I already told Varro what to expect and what the ritual is. You must be awake for three straight days, and that the last creature you fought was the one you want to change into. And the creature must bite you and you must not kill it. but you must defeat it. Then some herbs to treat the wounds and ease the transformation, and of course……………The Dance!” Belimir`s face was dead serious the whole time he was talking about the ancient druidic ritual.

Arden follows behind Varro as Jiles scouts into the next room. Even though Jiles has already checked for traps, Arden keeps a watchful eye on the floor. Damn hidden pits….

The party follows through the explored areas of the Keep. They come to the cavern where Ehud was killed, still dark and gloomy as it was when they first found it. A certain familiar feeling of dread is still found in these caverns. Could it be the passing of their friend in this cave, or something more…

The party stands before huge double doors. These bronze double doors are green with age and stained blue and purple with a thick layer of fungus. Scratched into the fungus in the Common script is this message: “Stay Out. Really.”

Wandering up to the group at the door as he finishes off his scribbled map, the gnome stares at the bronze doors. “Guys? Can we be careful about these doors? I mean, if this was where folks who liked Demon Princes hung out, I could see them being picky about the company they keep, y’know? Wilam, shall we check for devious magics? This’ll take just a minute.”
Vigo quiets his mind, listening to other senses for a minute.

Belimir takes a look at the note. “It`s written in……..common. It`s the first time I`ve seen them do that since we……….entered this keep. You think there might be someone else behind them? Now, I know we`re gonna ignore that warning, but what do you think is on the other side?”

“The kind of folks that befriend the Lord of Undeath,” whispers Vigo blankly, his senses clearly elsewhere.

“One can only wonder if there is some sort of reverse psychology behind the warning. Either way, we should probably investigate.”

In the cold caverns Arden feels a chill run down his spine, partly from the temperature, and partly from the feeling of loss this room holds. “Investigate…. as in Jiles checks for traps and then we open the doors? Ready when you are!” Arden pulls his rod out of his belt, ready to point it at anything less than friendly.

Wilam puts his hand on Arden’s shoulder to hold him back, “One moment, Arden. Vigo is in the middle of a Magic Detection ritual. He’ll need a little more time to determine if there’s anything magical nearby.”

No magic emminantes from the large bronze doors. The fungus coating them is unremarkable and slimey.

“I don’t feel anything within about ten yards… I’m ready for a fight. Anyone know how to find traps?”
Vigo tightens his grip on his wand, holding his shield between himself and the door and humming quietly, under his breath.

Without saying a word Jiles goes to work on the doors … checking them for traps and checking to see if they are locked.

“Sneaky, ya jus be givin me da sign and I be kickin in dem doors and we can get ta seein what be behind dem. only ways we goin ta find out anys way. sometimes ya jus havin ta go an find out iffen der be anyting der or nots.”

Varro steps back and lowers his head and draws one foot out and then drags it back like a bull getting ready to charge.

Jiles thuoroughly searches the doors for traps and special locks. Not finding any he turns to the group and shrugs, no traps to be found, or locks for that matter.

So quiet that only those adjacent to him can hear, Vigo’s humming changes tempo, shifting to a marching cadence with a rousing, martial quality; glowing hat bobbing in time.

Wilam shudders as they open the door. I bet there’s more of those nasty gelatinous things down there.

Francis takes a few steps toward the open door. We’re forgetting something, he thinks. “Of course,” he whispers. “The pass phrase.” He stands at the doorway, stands straight so as to project his voice, and says, quite loudly, “From the, uh, from the ground, some magic was found!”

Vigo chuckles quietly, “From your ass, gas will pass.”

Belly Laugh

Varro opens the door and allows Jiles to step in, then follows behind him a few paces back.

“it be open”

Jiles enters the shadows and checks for any additional traps or such.
He carefully picks his way through the doorway, scanning the walls and stone steps for traps. He is unable to find any and confident that there are no signs of traps in this small room.

“What?” Francis turns around. “Would you care to share your thoughts with everyone?”

Vigo begins summoing a minor enchantment.

Beginning quietly, a squeaky flatulent noice begins to emanate from Francis’ lower armor. The sound gets louder as it drops a few octaves into a raspberry rumble of flatulence.

“S’okay Francis, I’m a little nervous too,” Vigo snickers.

Arden holds his nose, “Damnit Varro, open that door before we all pass out in here.”

Wilam becomes annoyed by Vigo’s flippant use of his magic. “Enough!” he says, with his voice raised, “This is not play time for toddlers. Our mission here is dire and if you can’t take it seriously, then I recommend you dismiss yourself!”

“Just trying to loosen nerves; few fight well when scared… unless they completely lose it, which can endanger otheres. The way you’re all acting, you’d think you’d seen a ghost… Is uh, is this where Ehud fell?” Crap, hope I didn’t just step in it again.

Arden gives Vigo a little nudge and mutters to him out the corner of his mouth, “Don’t worry, that old man is a bit serious sometimes, comes with the age I think. Plus I think he ran out of prune juice a while back and hasn’t shit for days…” Arden snickers a little but tries to cover it up with a cough.

“A little lamp oil goes and goes and goes… least, that’s what I heard…for about an hour through the wall of the outhouse!” Vigo remarks.

Wilam resorts to a stiff glare. Silence. Don’t feed the troll and it will starve, as they say.

Arden follows behind Francis, ready to take on whatever may be in the next room.

Marching behind Francis, Vigo’s humming takes on a suspenseful tone; his hat bobs left and right to the beat while he conducts an imaginary orchestra with his wand.

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Episode 16: A Rest in Between...

After having explored a large section of the Keep, the party decides to take a rest outside. They make their way back through the Maze of Caves, back past the storerooms and guard rooms, and exit the Keep. It is dark out when they arrive back on the surface.

Arden sits close to the fire in the party’s camp, rubbing his hands together and trying to get the chill out of his bones. “Well that was quite a day! It is very unfortunate that we lost a friend, but I believe we made good progress. Rest up, tomorrow is likely to bring tougher trials yet.” With that Arden begins meditating on what he has learned in these past few days, training to strengthen his mind and bond with the dark powers from beyond.

As he rests and meditates, images of his past teachings flood his mind. Lessons of the power of the Infernal and the dark bindings of their knowledge consume his thoughts, power surges through his sub-concious granting him a firmer grasp on the dark powers he seeks.

Varro helps Brann carry Ehud to the campsite. and after a few moments of reflection on his fallen companion, he joins Arden at the fire. “I feel dat we all have much ta reflect on dis evenin. I be reckenin dat we all will be much refreshed come da mornin.” Varro drinks from the waterskin of ale then offers it to Arden.

Sitting quietly, something he doesn’t do very often, he reflects a bit on your fighting styles, trying to figure out a better way to do things. After a while of going over the lessons of past battles, he is able to come up with a few new moves that should put the hurting on some Filthy Greenskins. His axes feel lighter in his hands, and his eyes feel even more trained for combat than before.

Arden takes the waterskin from Varro and drinks before returning it to the Dwarf. “Thank you friend.”

Wilam finds a patch of grass and sits cross-legged in it. He begins a short traditional chant that aligns his mind. He lets his mind recount the experiences of the last week… battling kobolds, meeting new adventurers, defeating undead in the graveyard and finally discovering what may lie beneath the nearby keep. Finally, he sifts through some loose scripts and pages that were wedged between random pages of his tome.

Studying them closely, he can’t seem to remember where they came from. After transcribing a particularly interesting Elven text, he decides to give it a try. He reads the text of the key phrase, “ξεθώριασμα φεγγάρι”. Instantly, but only for a moment his body fades into a ghostly mist. Hmmm… interesting indeed! It seems these moon elves are more useful than their primitive nature suggests. I’m sure I’ll be able to use this in the battles to come. Wilam spends the next hour making an exact copy of the spell on a page still attached to his tome.

The knowledge gained from the pages found in his tome give him confidence in his quest to understand the mysteries of the Divine. One step closer to mastering his Arcane Arts. The more he learns, he feels, the more powerful he becomes. The energies derived from these spells is a dangerous tool indeed.

Wilam eventually tires of his studies and falls into a deep sleep. He doesn’t remember to offer to help with the night watch.

Brann sits down after carrying out the ritual to preserve Ehud’s body. He is drained from the day’s fighting and the loss of a comrade. However, looking over to Belimir lightens his spirits as he sees the druid appreciating his shinies.

Being able to take pleasure in the simple joys of nature and the world around. When did I lose the ability for that level of appreciation and wonder? I’m not exactly the oldest of dwarves yet. Brann chuckles to himself as he conjures up images of his clan elders and realises he is far from old in the eyes of his clan. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from Belimir, we certainly don’t get many like him back home.

“Come Belimir, while you inspect your new shinies why don’t I tell you about those stories I learnt from my teachers in the halls of Moradin.”

Belimir never felt this tired. His muscles ached, his head was throbbing and shinies just weren`t that interesting. Sure, he played with them for a while, watched how the sparks changed colours when he was watching the fire through his amethyst, but he grew tired from it quickly. I must become stronger. He appreciated Brann`s interest in his training, and since he promised him a story or two, Belimir went to the dwarf. Maybe it will change his mood.

Brann starts to share some of the heroic tales of great dwarven clerics that he learnt from his temple elders while growing up. He tries to explain how the source of power that the clerics draw upon is a way of channelling the energies that exist in the world as an aspect of their deity.

“Moradin is always watching over us and his power infuses those who worship him. When we are acting to help spread the message and faith of his teachings, we are able to use some of his power to aid us in our endeavours.”

“I’m not sure how it works for those who walk the arcane paths”, he says nodding over at Wilam and Arden, “but I sense that the way you are able to harness the powers of nature may be closer to our clerical ways. Perhaps you can share your ideas to help my understanding?”

That wasn`t much of a story!………An introduction maybe? Belimir carefully listened for what Brann had to say. He was silent for a few moments. How can people believe in such small things as Gods?

“In nature, only one thing is important. Balance. Unlike chaos, where everything dissolves and gravitates towards entropy, or the cities where races try to organize things by artificial laws, nature takes care of itself, in perfect balance. Nowhere can you find such harmony or such tranquility with life being present at the same time. But nature is delicate. Balance is delicate. In their short lives, races don`t see that they are affecting this balance. Long before your Gods established themselves as rulers of the universe, the primal spirits were there. Manifestations of all things present and living. Souls if you`ll have it that way, of mountains, of seas, of the stars. Of every stream and every breeze, every stone and gem in the ground. As the living world evolved, so did these spirits take form of the new creatures and now you have The Great Bear and The World Serpent, The Watchful Eye and The Silent Death. They existed in this world, organized things by the simplest of laws. Even now they are here, present in every part of our life. You rarely see them at work, you don`t hear them when they speak, you don`t even have to believe they exist, but they are here. And through them, we, the Primal disciples gain our powers, evocations.” His voice slowly trails off to a whisper as Belimir was thinking about something, then suddenly, his eyes were again fixated on Brann, a smile on his face. “You still owe me a story old dwarf. And if it`s good, I`ll tell you one legend of the Primals in return.”

“I do indeed owe you a story.”

Brann takes a deep breath, recalling the facts of a story he learned about long ago.

The cleric begins:
“Thoragrim was one of the great ancestors in my clan and a great champion for Moradin. His greatest battle was against a vile demonic entity that threatended our clan. An evil human sorceror had used his unnatural powers to raise a fiery raging demon-beast named Chogath. It had run rampant over the nearby settlements and Thoragrim and his companions set off to face it in the valley outside our halls. They had to fight through swathes of cultists that were worshipping Chogath and had taken many wounds before they finally faced the demon.”

“During the battle Thoragrim’s companions charged at the demon and blasted and rained upon it with blade, axe, thunder and ice. Thoragrim was taxed to his limit pouring forth his healing energies to keep his companions fighting. It was not enough however. Despite inflicting many wounds on Chogath, one by one Thoragrim’s companions were killed by wounds too severe for him to heal. At last he faced Chogath alone, drained by his efforts but also filled with rage and agony over his companions and the fate of their settlement. He uttered his final prayer to Moradin and advanced on the demon with his faith blazing brightly around him. As Chogath charged and tore at him, the power of Moradin channelled into him and ripped apart the demon, but it was too much for the mortal body of Thoragrim. Thoragrim was found by his clan barely holding onto his life and brought back to the temple of Moradin. He followed in the footsteps of our ancestors and went to stand at the side of Moradin.”

“Although he saved our clan and defeated a great evil, that is not what made him a true champion of Moradin. After his death, his journals were read to pass on his teachings to the next generation of clerics. Within these it was discovered that Thoragrim had been having visions of the final battle and his companions death for many months. He had known that the battle he was going into would result in his and their deaths but there was no mention of whether they would be victorious. Despite this, Thoragrim had devotion in his deity and the faith and belief that he was carrying out a higher purpose. He did not beseech Moradin for knowledge of the outcome of the battle. He fought and knew that he was championing a cause greater than his and his companions. It was this belief and devotion to Moradin that allowed him to overcome Chogath and save our clan. Our power comes from our faith and it is only by following the true path of our beliefs that we will be bestowed with the gifts to further them.”

Brann sits back to reflect on what he has said and how it relates to Belimir’s talk of the great natural spirits.

Belimir listened carefully to Brann`s story. It was interesting, although, for him a bit predictable. But he still liked it. And the fact that these dwarfs have great respect for their ancestors. After thinking for a while about this story, he began talking about a legend he promised Brann.

“When the Gods made war against the Primordials, at the dawn of time, battles raged across the worlds for uncounted centuries. At one point, Gods gained the upper hand, banishing and imprisoning some of the powerfull Primordials. Still, the war threatened the very existance of these worlds. In the last days of this war, a force made itself known throughout the cosmos. Spiritual expressions of the worlds themselves. And it was these spirits that declared an end to the conflict. These worlds will not be a playground for neither Gods nor Primordials. Both forces were banished to their home planes, and mighty spirits decreed a balance. The world would remain a place where matter and spirit mingled freely, life and death would be two parts of an orderly cycle. Seasons would change in their unending wheel without interference. Gods and Primordials could still touch these worlds it, but could never rule them again.”

“Well. That was fun.” Belimir says it with a large smile on his face. He really liked this casual, story exchanging conversation with Brann. “We could do this more often, don`t you think?” After saying that, he stretches and without a word, changes into a white panther. He winks to his companions and is off to the bushes to find a nice place to rest.

Francis slowly removes his armor. He sits quietly, staring at the flames but concentrating on the last few days. After a long while, he says, “I sink zat—ahem—I think that tomorrow will bring plenty of opportunities for revenge, which is what Ehud would have wanted.”

Varro takes first watch and decides to himself who he will wake to take the next watch,

“hmmm, well if I be reckenin da way I be figurin I should be reckenin den I be reckenin dat I should be wakin someone dat not be a finger waggler, so I be reckenin dat …. hmmm …ale… mmmm … good stuff …wut was I reckenin…DAMNIT … oh yea … I be reckenin dat I should be wakin a finger waggler … hmmm …no wait dat aint right … not a finger waggler… yea …is dat be it …not a finger waggler… yea, dat be right…. so who be it dat don’t be wagglin der fingers? … well der be wilich… no he be a waggler, der be Darky,,, na he waggles from time to time ta time… how about sneaky …he don’t waggle dat I be knowin ov … he be a gud one ta be a wakin, or I be figurin dat half-pint be a gud choosen I recken. so who be da one I be wakin … oooo …ale…. mmmm… “

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Episode 15: Kruthik Lair

The darkness continues as you press further into the caverns. The light from your torch does little to cure the dreadful feeling you have deep within the keep.

Arden turns to Varro and whispers, “I don’t have a good feeling about this place, it smells like death. Hopefully the others will join us soon.” He peers about the room and floor to see if he can spot any tracks or signs of danger.

“Bah, suck it up Darky. I be figirin dat ya be right at home where it be smellin ov death an such. Lets jus get dis part ov da keep cleared out and den we can be havin an ale or two or tree at da tavern. Ya jus be followin da Cannonball an ev’rting goin ta be jus fine. Lets go, if dos pansy asses wanta go sniffin rocks and slime in dat room den we be gettin dis done right … We got dis. Damnit Darky stop holding on ta me like I be your long lost lassy or something”

“Um, I can see just as well as you my short little friend… That isn’t me holding on to you. Maybe you are holding onto yourself? Are you cold?”
“Den Light a damn torch, jus cause I can see don’t be needin ta be playing seein eye dog ta a bunch of finger wagglers.”

“Haha, I don’t need a damn torch Dwarf! You forget my Elven blood mixed with my Human blood! And Wilam has his light spell, so what are you grumbling about!! You need an ale my friend!”

Seeming confused as to who is holding who, and not wanting anyone to be holding him without his say so, Varro pulls out one of the recently found sunrods and lights the room with it.

Seeing Arden’s hand on his shoulder, "Ya bloody liein Darky, get ya hand off me. Belly Laugh

Arden looks at his two hands again….neither on the Dwarf. “Nope! Not me Shorty! You are still very, very confused!”

Varro places the sunrod back in his pack

“Da least ya could bloody do is warm ya hands up … de be as cold as a well diggers arse”

Arden stuffs his hands down his pants for a few moments, then pulls them out and reaches for the confused Dwarf. “Dat nice an warm fer ya den?” He chuckles, trying to mimic the Dwarf’s accent.

Belimir slowly and carefully follows the two. “What did you find? And why aren`t you waiting for the others?”

“Hey there mes amis! It sure is dark in these caverns isn’t it? Have we found something further in the caves?”

The halfling shuffles up to the rest of the group, interested in what they have found.

A ten-foot-deep pit looks as if it were once concealed by a layer of thin flagstone, which now lies crumpled and broken at the bottom, around the unmoving form of a broken, six-limbed reptile.

Wilam arives behind the group. “I can’t see anything…” Placing his hand on the top of his tome, Wilam speaks a word of light into it and it begins shining brightly.

The cavern brightens instantly with the Light spell of Wilam’s. The pit is illuminated even further, making it much easier to see into.

Other than the obvious pit in front of them, Wilam is unable to notice anything else.

As Arden’s half-elven eyes adjust to the bright light brought by Wilam, he tries to see if there is a way around the pit. “Glad you all joined the party! Brann and Jiles still sleeping in that little cubby we found?” Arden chuckles at his attempt at humor.

“Do we have to climb into this pit to get across or can we get around on the edge?”

Arden turns back to Wilam, “Hey Wilam… are you able to cast that light spell on Varro? Since he is leading the way we should probably put the light on him, and the rest of us just try to stay in range of the light behind him. Hopefully everyone has their own light source if we get seperated.”

“Of course.” Wilam moves up to Varro and touches the blade of his axe, “Φως”. The light of his tome dissipates and the axe head surges with light.

“aye, tanks … so much fer me sneaky ways … belly laugh (echos down the cavern)”

Holding his axe up and out in front of himself, Varro Slowly advances further into the cavern.

As the bright axe moves into the caverns, Arden progresses slowly behind it, and then up beside Varro as he stops. He moves around the outside of the pit, not sure if he wants to try climbing out.

Varro and Arden move forward into the caverns.

On the walls around them, they notice several small tunnels, two feet wide, dug through the wall. Too small for any of the party to fit through though, except Francis.

A nose-wrinkling, snakelike musk issues from further into the chamber ahead.

As Arden moves up beside Varro, the flagstone floor crumbles beneath him, dropping him into a dank pit.

" Ya gots ta be watchin ya step better den dat, Darky. Now get up ere. looks like we’s gots ourselves a fight brewin"

Varro lowers his axe into the pit to help Arden to get out.

While helping Arden out of the pit, Varro looks to the others following up.
“Ya better watch yer steps, looks ta be a minefield of pits and traps up dis way, Wheredahell be dat damn sneaky one? Damnit Lad get yer arse up ere and earn ya keep or I be likely ta start usein ya as me new battering ram!”

Brann enters the room behind the others and finds that they have encountered a bit of a problem. He sees that Arden has fallen down a hole, and Varro is helping him out.

Arden grumbles something about shoddy stonework as he stands and brushes himself off. He looks up to see his buddy Varro lowering his shining axe into the pit. “Thanks Cannonball!” Arden reaches for the axe and pulls himself up with Varro’s help.

“Ok Jiles, enough hiding in the shadows. How about you get up here with Varro and use your skills to prevent this from happening again.” Arden looks over himself making sure he didn’t lose anything in the pit.

Arden, with the help of Varro, easily climbs out of the pit.

“What`s going on up front?” Belimir asks from the safe distance.

“I fell through the floor and into a small pit, and it hurt! Be sure to watch your step everyone, there may be more sink holes around here…”

The slight tumble of debris can be heard echoing throughout the cavern. Subtle scuffling can be heard all around the group.

“A’ight, Ya all follow me, ya step where I step and if I fall ya help me out ov da pit.” Varro advances on.

After scouring the secret room for sometime and then realizing that everyone had left him behind, Jiles dipping and dodging from shadow to shadow hurries to catch up for fear that Varro will make good on his threat to use the lil rogue as a battering ram if he doesn’t start earning his keep. That loony bastard would do it too…

A chittering noise can be heard coming from around the corner in the back of the cavern.

“Der be someting up ere udder den pits….gotta get infront of this big lug before he ruins any chance of me getting the drop on whatever it is up ahead.”

Jiles checks his crossbows with a fluid movement under his cloak and moves ahead around Varro and that god-awful lighted axe.

Varro feeling something brush against his arm, spins to see what it was. seeing nothing he awaits the others to catch up a bit.

The halfling shuffles by the others who seem to be in some sort of trance.

“Pardon moi, friends, I do not wish to miss somezing happening furzer in za caves. Varro wait for me!”

Francis’ voice echoes a bit off the walls of the cavern, he carefully navigates around the open pits and finds himself right behind Varro and his glowing axe.

“Salut Varro. What are we up against? Do ye know yet?”

“I don’t bloody know yet, der might be wraiths or ghosts …someting be holdin me earlier and Darky swore it weren’t he and jus now sumting be brushin up against me …and der was noting der.”

Varro looks around a bit more, then decides it was just a breeze or something.

“Ah, Ze Ghozts and Goblinz. Zey may be here, but we will have to zee!”

Francis wrings his hands around the hilt of his warhammer, preparing for whatever is to come.

Falling down holes and talk about ghosts and goblins, hmmm. Lets try not to get myself in trouble but if there are any otherworldly presences around I should be able to sense them.

Brann moves up to get close to the others and tell them what he’s felt from his surroundings.

“We must be careful,” Brann says to the others, “I sense that there has been much death around us and the spirits of the dead may yet linger.”

Looking over at Varro and winks, “That means we might need to cleave up some ghosts so hold off on the exploring down holes until we’ve finished up.”

The presence of the dead is strong in this section of the caverns. Many things have died in this particular cavern, which does not give a comforting feeling.

Belimir looks at the small holes in the wall. They don`t look good. Something must have made them and it wasn`t for ventilation.

As he was leaning over to see, a few small rocks got into his face and in an effort to shield himself, he raised dust from the floor with his hands which then got into his eyes. He doesn`t see a thing. He tries to pull out his flask and wash his face. I`m not sticking my head anywhere anymore!

Watching Jiles move up in the cavern and not hearing any sounds of battle, Arden decides to move up into the front of the action as well. He creeps along behind Jiles as quietly as possible, entering the shadows.

Moving with stealth and grace Jiles advances into the next chamber
Varro sick of waiting on the others to step up, Advances to the next chamber

Arden does his best to keep up with Varro and Jiles, as silently as possible.

The heroes make their way cautiously farther into the cavern. The chittering gets louder as they reach another bend in the tunnel.

Varro, Arden, and Jiles approach a wider section of the room. As their vision clears through the pitch black cavern, the forms of creatures begin to take shape.

Ahead, several creatures cluster around a small pile of loose
coins and other objects. Many are small, but one is the size of a
human. All resemble six-limbed reptiles with insectlike traits. Silvery chitinous plates cover their bodies and short tails, and each
has four limbs that end in scythelike claws. The creatures have
two smaller limbs, which have finer digits close to the body. The
head is vaguely reptilian, and the lower jaw is a toothed plate
flanked by serrated mandibles.

The creatures hiss at the approach of the adventurers.

As Jiles takes a step closer to meet up with Varro, the floor collapses out from under him, dropping Jiles into another pit trap. He drops ten feet to the bottom of the pit, landing hard on the rock below.

“What iz ze hissing I heeeaarrrr…..?” Francis gets cut short as he falls through yet another camoflauged pit trap, crashing to the bottom hard.

As Belimir investigates the strange holes in the wall, three reptilian creatures emerge from them, scythe-like claws cutting through the air threateningly towards the druid.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Belimir was surprised to see the creatures emerge from the holes in the wall. He gatheres his composure quickly and takes a step back. He changes his shape and roars, summoning a swarm of cave spiders to attack the creatures. These creatures……..I recognize them…

Belimir identifies these creatures as Kruthiks, deadly hunters that live in hives.

Seeing all the enemies that have appeared, Brann is spurred into action.

“By Moradin’s fire, your evil will be cleansed!” he shouts as he moves forward.

The cleric’s eyes begin to simmer and burn. Licks of flame start erupting from his vestments and a divine glow builds around him. The darkness of the caverns is gone as the light grows. The cleric lunges forward, his arms outstretched as the power builds and climaxes in a burst of blinding light. The light travels across the cavern and resolves into a bold being composed of light.

The cleric slumps down after the exhausting display of power but manages a brief muttered prayer to aid the his rogue companion.

Wilam sees the kruthik crawl through the cracks in the wall and instinctively throws a blast of frost at it.

Arden looks around him and realizing they are outnumbered shouts back to the trailing heroes, “We have quite a number of baddies in here boys! Would love some help!” He then focuses on the battle in front of him, dark chanting comes from deep within his chest as he curses the creature nearest him. He then begins chanting louder as a bolt of chaos magic blasts from his rod and into the reptilian beast.

Landing hard on the rocky floor, Francis takes a nasty fall.

“Ow! Zat was unfortunate.”

He stands up, brushing himself off, as he hears the shouts of his comrades as they engage something above the hole.

“Wait for me! I’m in zis hole, I’ll be right out!”

Once Varro’s eyes adjust and he sees the creatures, he springs into action, charging straight ahead towards the biggest of the group.

“Sonova…”

Varro grumbles.

“oooo, that was good, didn’t even see it coming, Goin to have to get you for that one”

As the lizard creatures emerge from their lairs, Belimir jumps into action. Shifting, he roars and swarms of cave spiders fill the openings in the walls, enveloping the lizard-beasts, dragging their poison-filled bodies into the tunnels to eagerly devour them.

Falling into himself in prayer, Brann shows his true faith, summoning a guardian of Moradin to protect his allies.

An ethereal Dwarven Guardian appears in a flash of light, ready to cleanse the evil threatening the party.

Brann, with a last show of faith, spreads healing words out to Jiles, closing some of the bruises and scrapes he received in the fall.

Wilam, spotting a kruthik hatchling poking its head out of the tunnel, searching for prey, releases a ray of cold at the creature, freezing the lizard-thing where it stands.

Arden, explaining their situation to the group behind him, curses the nearest Kruthik with Supernal hexes, then blasts the creature with Eldritch Energies, searing its scaley hide.

Francis, a bit embarassed having fallen into the pit, brushes himself off, stands up and climbs out of the pit.

Varro springs into action, charging straight ahead towards the largest creature of the group, drawing attacks from every lizard around him, he takes several nasty hits as he closes the distance with the Adult Kruthik.

Varro swings out with no regard for personal safety, clipping Kruthiks left and right, lizard parts flying everywhere.

He crashes into the Adult, his axe driving deep into the scales of the beast, green blood spilling everywhere.

Jiles, bruised but otherwise okay, climbs up out of the pit, ready for action.

The Kruthiks begin swarming the party, apparently very hungry, and having been without fresh meat for some time.

Their limbs, deadly and numerous flail about in a whirlwind of scythe-like claws, the heroes have a very difficult time avoiding their gnashing swipes, a few of the party taking several unavoidable hits.

The adult kruthik rears back and bile-dripping spikes shoot from the back of its hide, barely missing Varro and Jiles.

The youth flanking Varro trashes out at him with its razor sharo claws, raking his back causing the dwarf to cry out in pain.

The hatchling hiding behind the Adult tries its best to claw Varro again, but misses.

Jiles faces off against two Kruthik Youths, both with deadly hunger in their blank black eyes.
The nimble rogue dodges under the quad-strike attack of the first youth, only to run directly into the waiting arms of the second, taking a feirce number of cuts across the chest.

A hatchling surprises Arden from behind as it crawls out from a small tunnel in the wall next to him. The warlock manages to fend off the lizard, enough so it does no real damage to him.

The Guardian of Faith watches stoically over the battle. It wraps it arms around itself, bends over, gathering energy, then explodes, arms shooting out wide to each side as pure white holy light spreads throughout the caverns. The burning power of Moradin fries the lizards, burning their scales, and completely immolating the hatchling.

Varro charges the Largest Kruthik and several of the smaller ones seem to try to stop him to no avail. As Varro begins his charge a hatchling swipes for his leg, Varro kicks it in the face crushing its nose and ending its pitiful life. As the first dies another six-legged lizard snaps at the dwarf, Varro sees it coming and avoids the blunt of the damage, Varro returns the pain with a right cross to the lizards left eye, sending the beast searching for easier prey. Another youth lunges at Varro but misses badly only to soon find Varro’s axe blade slicing it’s soft underbelly, hurt and embarrassed the youth follows it’s brother. A brutish and obviously vicious lizard dives at the dwarf that his brothers failed to take down, the more determined lizard hit but could not penetrate the wonderful Dwarven mail. Varro punches the lizard but it just growls in response. The dwarf presses on to his target, as an ambicious hatchling springs to attack the bellicose heroes head, Varro ducks and then leaps upwards sending the lizard to its death by smashing into the ceiling. Finally reaching his main target, the adult Kruthik, The beast strikes, Varro reacts in time turning away a portion of the damage.

Varro lands an attack with the butt of his axe to the jaw of the lizard, and follows with the blade cutting a deep gash across the creatures mid-section. Seemingly from nowhere, another attack slices the battlerager but with pure determination, He avoids the majority of the pain. The persistant Youth rakes Varro across the back, the cowardly attack catches Varro unaware.

Varro steadies his stance and envokes the power of his armor, healing some of his wounds, and also envoking his dwarven heritage to gain a second wind.

Varro Swings his axe in a vicious arce slicing thru his main target and striking the foe to his back with the follow thru.

Not waiting for a counter attack Varro swings his axe high in a deadly sweep and at the last moment changes his grip and forces the axe into a downward slice, nearly impossible to avoid.

Jiles climbs out of the pit to face a savage beast with a nasty goose-egg forming on the side of its head, he dodges the attack from this one and runs smack into his brother. Not so lucky on his dodge attempt this time, Jiles takes a nasty beating from the creature, then seamingly from no where Jiles is struck for an additional wound.

“hey yo, wait a second, give a fella a chance here.”

Jiles fires a crossbow at one of the creatures, the one with the goose egg, and scurries away into the shadows.

As Jiles moves up, Arden takes the opportunity to move closer to the battle, positioning himself for an area attack. Arden curses the beast in front of him and begins chanting and gesturing, pointing his rod towards the group as he unleashes a deafening clap of thunder upon them. While the thunder is still booming throughout the caverns, Arden quickly begins chanting again, channeling dark flames into his rod and releasing them onto the Large Kruthik. Liquid flames seem to pour out of nowhere, washing over the Kruthik and searing its scaley hide.

Wilam’s mind begins to race as he realizes he’s out of reach of his companions. He hears the sounds of battle from the darkness and moves as quickly as possible without falling into a pit. He follows the western wall, his hand extended to keep constant contact with the wall. What have I gotten myself into? This is outrageous!

Belimir rushes to help his friends. Seeing there is a Kruthik around the corner, he changes back to his human form and summons a torrent of water to drown the threatening creature.

Seeing the rogue being attacked again, Brann channels his healing energies into him to bolster Jiles’ reserves. He then blasts the closest Kobold with divine light and uses this to aid the rogue further.

Francis moves carefully around the pit and summons his divine strength to attack the youth that has not seen as much action. He growls at the lizard, challenging it to mortal combat. The lizard seems to understand the threat and turns to meet the halfling, towering over the Paladin.

Varro summons his dwarven resolve, pulling strength from the ancient brethren who made his armor, and endurance within himself to shake off most of his wounds.

He slices his axe in a vicious arch, cutting through his main target and striking the foe behind him with the powerful follow through.

Varro eyes the Adult Kruthik dangerously, and not waiting for a counter attack, Varro steps through his follow-through, shifting the weight of the axe as it passes over his head, and bringing it screaming down in a downward slice, moving impossibly fast and near unavoidable.

His axe bites deep into the Kruthik, green blood pouring from a gaping wound. The creature is obviously very badly hurt.

Jiles loads his crossbow in a flash and fires the bolt at point-blank range into the young kruthik, as he releases the trigger he expertly moves around the lizard and falls into the shadows, sneaking up behind the Adult Kruthik, ready to plunge his blade into the creatures back as it is busy with Varro.

He takes a deep breath, steadying himself and he stashes his crossbow and silently unsheathes his shortsword.

Arden takes the moment of distraction to move closer to the battle, finding the perfect spot for an attack to harm the entire room.
He calls forth the curses from beyond onto the Youth in front of him, and begins chanting and gesturing. He points his rod towards the group as a deafening thunder clap booms throughout the small cavern. As the creatures reel in pain from the thunder, Arden releases dark flames onto the larger Kruthik, searing the scaley hide, burning its soft flesh underneath.

The adult kruthik lets out a squeeling cry as the fires consume its body.

Wilam, hearing the sounds of battle races to reach his companions. He tries desperately to not fall into a pit as he makes his way through the dark cave, hand on the wall guiding him. He curses the situation to himself quietly as he moves.

Belimir, charging to catch up with his friends, spots another hatchling peeking out of a tunnel, so the druid washes out the tunnels with a torrent of water.

Brann channels his holy powers to once again heal his companions wounds. Warm radiance falls over Jiles as Moradin works on closing the cuts and bruises across his body.

The cleric finishes healing Jiles, and begins concentrating on cleansing the closest lizard with divine purity, but is unsuccessful in summoning offensive magics so close to mending injuries. More healing power flows from Brann’s attempt at an assault and increase Jiles’ resolve.

Francis moves carefully around the pit and summons his divine strength to attack the youth that has not seen as much action. He growls at the lizard, challenging it to mortal combat. The lizard seems to understand the threat and turns to meet the halfling, towering over the Paladin.

He swings but with no conviction, missing the lizard as it dodges left and right past the slow-moving hammer.

The Kruthiks lash out again, gnashing their limbs across the heroes, causing more damage throughout the cave.

The youth behind Varro misses the dwarf cleanly after its barrage of slicing limbs.

The kruthik retaliates against Francis, but cannot penetrate the halflings reinforced armor.

The bloodied kruthik near Arden lands a solid strike on the Warlock, cutting through his robes and slicing his leg.

The hatchling poking its head out of the tunnel near Brann, moves back into the maze and pops out near Wilam, sythe-claws leading.
It rakes at the wizard, catching him on the back of the thigh, drawing a slim trickle of blood through his robes.

Brann’s Guardian unleashes another cleansing blast inside of the cave, the divine time-bomb blasting the Kruthiks left in the cave.

Seeing that Varro has things under control and Arden and francis are being pressed by Youths, Jiles Slides into combat with the Youths, Maintaining his stealth.

Having seen his main target fall, Varro spins on the cowardly creature attacking his rear. Varro slides closer to Francis to aid his friend once this beast is dispatched.

“Ya be holdin it tagetter der half-pint, I be a comin!”

Gasping for breath as the Kruthik tears into his leg, Arden turns towards the nearest foe and calls forth a dark blast of eldritch energy. “How many of these damned things are there?!”

Wilam is taken by complete surprise by the kruthik’s assault. He covers his wounded thigh with his hand and backs against the opposite wall of the cave.

“Damned creature! To the Abyss with you… Παγωνιά!” Wilam throws his hand towards the insectoid creature and throws a beam of frost.

Moving carefully forwards to avoid the pits, Brann goes to aid the bloodied halfling.

Belimir rushes forward to help his allies and nearly falls into the pit. He avoids it and goes around. Seeing the creatures are grouped, he summons another torrent of water to cleanse the area.

Francis strikes again with Holy resolve against the young Kruthilk.

Jiles, seeing that his friends have things under control, slides in between the youths hidden in shadow.

He then strikes out from the darkness, driving his blade deep into the backside of the Lizard, sticky green blood flowing freely as the beast lashes about in its throes of death.

Varro, having to switch targets, spins on the cowardly creature behind him. He slides closer to Francis trying to protect the weakened halfling, and hold off the beast.

He swings wickedly at the Kruthik, his axe cutting into the creature so that it never moves again.

Startled and gasping for breath at the sudden injury, Arden turns towards the beast that attacked him, calling forth a quick blast of Eldritch energy.

The young kruthik gets hit barely by the blast, getting thrown back against the far wall, slumping to the ground in a dead heap.

Wilam, taken by surprise, bends down and covers his wounded leg with one hand, instinctually protecting himself by throwing an icy ray at his aggressor. The freezing bolt flies from his palm and strikes the Hatchling dead, the creature taking its last breath before it even hits the ground.

Brann moves carefully around the pits and aids the bleeding paladin.

With no more threats present in the caves, combat comes to an end.

Arden glances around the room at the walls, expecting more creatures to spring forth at any moment…. none do. “Well I sure could use a rest after all that… casting so many spells is quite draining!” Arden moves over to the pile of coins and other items that the Large Kruthik was sitting on top of and begins gathering the coins and searching for valuables. He turns over anything he finds to the group’s dual action Cannonball-Pack Mule.

Catching his breath after the battle, Varro Restores some of his life force. Then begins searching the area for anything of value.

Wilam finally catches up to the group… he was not prepared for the carnage before him. The splattered insects and horrible smells… Eugch! “Is everyone alright?” He does a quick headcount.

“Where’s Jiles?”

“I’m Here” Jiles reveals himself from the center of the carnage. “Ya missed a heller of a show, ol’ Cannonball tore em up!”

Jiles moves to help Varro and Arden go through the loot
“Francis, buddy, how you feeling? Looked like they liked the taste of you.”

“Good, then we’re all accounted for…”
Wilam turns to Arden and agrees, “I think we look like we’re about ready for a rest, too. I know my old bones could use some relief.”

Arden nods at Wilam. “Maybe we should camp outside then? We don’t want to get caught by any patrols that notice all the corpses around here! It would also be a good time to take Ehud’s corpse outside… maybe Brann or Francis could give him a proper passage to the afterlife.”

Varro opens the chest, and examines the contents

“Aye, nice. Belimir, Shinies!”

Varro braces himself for the incoming Belimir

Belimir just changed shape into a panther when he heard the word shinies! The cat raised his head, a broad smile on his face and started running in full speed towards Varro, jumping at the chest and nearly knocking the dwarf to the ground. He starts examining each of the gems, and decides to keep one, throwing the rest away. He changes back to his human form, his eyes sparkling with happiness. “Ooooooooooooh it`s BEAUTIFULL! Look at it. LOOK AT IT! Thank you Varro, oh you little dwarf. I don`t know where`d you get the nose for these things, but you`ve got it!” Belimir starts playing with his new gem.

“Aye zat zey did! Must be somezing in my halfling blood! Ztupid inzects!” Francis goes about tending wounds and checking the condition of his armor.

Brann briefly looks over the chest but then turns to his companions. He moves from one to another, carefully checking even minor injuries and assisting with dressing the wounds.

“Well that was a rather large pack of beasts but we’ve still got to deal with those worshippers of evil that have defiled this keep.”

He turns to Belimir, “After I’ve seen to Ehud, we will have some time to discuss those stories you were interested in earlier. I’d also like to hear more about your adventures.”

Turning once more to Ehud’s corpse, Brann holds back the emotions of yet another companion lost.

“I shall carry out a ritual to preserve Ehud’s body to ward off any evil and preserve his corpse until we return to town.” Brann turns to the corpse to begin his ministrations.

After carefully stashing away all the coins and gems, Varro offers his assistance to Brann. “Brudder, I be ere if ya be needin me”

“Your prayers will be welcome brother. Although we have defeated many of the followers of evil this day, we have lost a champion for good and above all a friend.”

Varro nods and waits in silence while Brann finishes his ritual.

Belimir usually wasn`t this close to tears. Nature taught him how to deal with loss of close friends. Still, seeing the two dwarves mourn the loss of their friend almost brought a tear in Belimir`s eye. This new feeling of grief was strange to him. He tried to speak something but couldn`t find the right words. “I………….Ehud was………He………What the hell is going on with you!” Realizing he said that outloud, he quickly closed his mouth and silently observed as Brann performed the ritual.

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Episode 14: The Maze of Caves

The finely worked stairs and flagstones of the dungeon give way to a wide, natural cavern. The ceiling drips with dozens of stalactites, and the floor rises unevenly with loose rocks and stalagmites. The rocks and debris become thicker to the east and west, and both directions offer only narrow paths of unobstructed terrain.

Varro, Brann, Arden, Belimir, and Jiles move down the stairs. The sound of rodents squeaking and squealing grows louder as they descend into the pitch black darkness of the roughly made caverns.

As they reach the bottom of the stairway, small patches of stalagmites and stalagtites can be seen along the floor. Giant rats can be seen along the walls, floor, and ceiling just to the side of the stairway. They don’t even look up as the party reaches the bottom of the stairs, as they appear to be feasting on something around a bend in the cavern wall.

Varro looks to Francis, and whispers “get da Wilam, and da cat Belimir, der be more rats down ere”

Varro moves to a position to defend the rest of the party as they disembark from the stairs.

Rats! A cat that has any respect for it`s stomach doesn`t eat rats. They kill rats. I hate rats! Belmar changes back to his human form and sends a torrent towards the rats. “डूब मैल कीड़े, कीट कृंतक, डूब!”

“I believe he is coming,” Francis whispers back. He moves to attack the giant rat but stops when he sees that the rats are feasting on a fresh corpse. Although their fur and claws are in the way, Francis suspects that it is Ehud. It would have to be him. Francis moves and strikes his target.

“I see Ehud!” he shouts to the others. “We have to save him!”

Arden moves into the room to help clear the rats from Ehud. “I hope that we are not already too late!” Arden begins chanting and drawing his power from the infernal pact, pointing at the giant rat.

“Hold on Ehud, help is at hand”

Brann rushes down to get close to his injured companion, blasting at the closest giant rat with a divine word.

Varro whispers to Francis as he moves down the stairs, ready to protect the group if anything attempts to attack.

Belimir shifts from his cat form back into his elven body, moves down the stairs, then summons a torrent of water to drown the rats around the corner.

The immense amount of water washes through the rodents, drowning them in its wake. Only one rat manages to escape the attack, hiding behind several large rocks.

Francis begins to move in to help clear the rats when he spots what the rodents are feasting on…a human corpse. Suspecting that it is their missing friend, Francis calls out to the group as he rushes in to try and save their friend.

Dispatching the remaining rat as he closes the distance, Francis arrives at the half eatten body of Ehud.

Arden follows close behind Francis to help with Ehud, Brann at their heels, ready to smite any rodent that dares try to attack them.

Chittering of rodents mixes with odd water-sounding noises in the other pitch black areas of the caverns.

“Der be more o’er ere” Varro lifts his axe and charges.

Arden follows the living cannonball known as Varro, and picks out another target amongst the rubble. Uttering a dark curse under his breath he moves into and fires a blast of energy at the rat. “How do these dirty goblins live in such conditions!” He chuckles as his blast rips into the beast.

I……………….AM………………AWESOME! SEVEN IN ONE BLOW! COME HERE RATS! I`VE GOT SOME MORE WATER FOR YOU!
Belimir confidently walks forward.

Wilam finally stumbles into the area, late because of his confusion in missing the rock-hewn passage. The stink of dead rats nearly makes him vomit, but he holds back his lunch and looks for any threats. Spotting the rats struggling to survive Belimir’s thrashing waves, he attempts to freeze them into watery prisons.

Seeing that the two visible rats are taken care of, Francis moves to L9.
What will become of Ehud? he wonders. Will Brann be able to save him? He fights back the urge to cry or lash out in anger against the walls and the rubble. He takes three quick breaths and calms himself. He imagines that he is a river. I must move and wind my way through the world. I must adapt to new situations.

Varro spots more rats past a pile of rubble, charges the closest one and cleaves it right in half.

Arden following close behind the living cannonball blasts the other rat, exploding rat guts all over the cavern walls.

Belimir, pleased with his well-placed spell, walks with confidence into the caverns.

Wilam finally stumbling into the caverns nearly vomits, but maintains his composure. Wilam summons a cloud of cold to help protect the area.

Francis, noting the death of the other rats, moves around the dark cavern a bit. He struggles against the loss of Ehud, taking a few moments to himself to collect himself.

Varro and Arden are congratulating themselves on their easy killing of the last visable rats, hear a slimey, squishing sound. They slowly turn around to see a huge slime-creature making its way hungrily towards them.

As Francis is taking a moment for himself, another rat stealthily makes its way out of the stalagmites and attacks the halfling, looking for an easy meal. The rat is unable to peirce the halflings armor though.

“oo oi … Whatdahell be dat” asks Varro.

It took some time for Belimir to realize that the corpse under the now dead rats was Ehud. He was shaken by the fact that his friend was dead, but didn`t let it show. He whispered a short prayer for Ehud`s soul and continued fighting. There was a large slimey creature in the cavern. It didn`t look friendly………or tasty. Belimir thought it would be better to attack this enemy with claws than with his staff. He changes shape and races across the cavern floor, roaring angrily. A swarm of carrion beetles rushes to attack the slimey creature.

On seeing the monsterous blob, Wilam’s eyes grow large. He notes the creature seems to be having trouble fitting through the doorway into the next room and he sees a chance to keep the enemy at bay. “I can trap it in the opening there… keep your distance and we can dispatch it with our distance attacks. Jiles and Arden, give it all you’ve got!”

Jiles moves swiftly to gain some cover from the blob, readying his crossbow. He nods to Wilam, awaiting the storm pillar before loosing a bolt.

With a smooth motion, Jiles reloads, preparing for his next shot.

Arden turns to face the new foe as his comrades immediately launch into action. He points and utters a dark curse at the foul creature as he mentally prepares his next spell. This blob doesn’t look very sturdy… could probably blast it away with thunder. Arden begins chanting and suddenly a loud clap of thunder washes over the creature, making it shudder. He then slips into the shadows, moving away from the blob for safety.

Brann stares at Ehud’s body for a brief period, instantly knowing that there is nothing further he can do for his companion.
Another one? Why…I should have been here. I should have kept an eye on everyone. What must I do to keep them alive?
He looks over and spots the large mass and it gives him a target to focus his grief on.
“For Ehud, you’ll pay”, says the dwarf as rays of divine light spark from his fierce gaze.

Vitality flows into Arden as the rat explodes into peices. Death feeds his soul…

Varro is surprised by the appearance of the monsterous blob. He wastes no time in charging at it, axe held high.
He swings a wicked strike at the blob, his axe cutting deep into gelatonous mass, coming out the other side. A hole is left where his axe cut through, but then fills up again after a moment.

Francis strikes out at the rat but misses as dust clouds his eyes.

Belimir, after a short prayer for Ehud, shifts into his panther form and engages the slime. He roars, summoning a swarm of beetles from the cavern to swarm the blob. The beetles crawl along the surface of the jelly, only to be sucked into it, feeding the creature.

Wilam’s eyes go wide as he spots the giant jelly. It seems to be having trouble fitting through the doorway, then the blob changes its form and takes up the entire doorway to the lower caverns.

Wilam, intent on keeping the jelly in that section of the caves, summons a raging storm pillar, threatening to harm the creature should it move forward.

Jiles avoids notice of the blob, waits for Wilam to release his storm pillar, then fires off a crossbow bolt from the shadows, scoring a solid hit into the mass of the jelly.

Arden throws a curse onto the jelly, then calls for a thunderous Clarion to harm the creature.
Thunder claps and the creature tremors with vibrations so powerful that bits of jelly fling off and stick to the cavern walls, floor, and some even cover Varro and Belimir.

Arden disappears into the space between worlds as he moves to a better position.

Brann shouts a curse for Ehud at the jelly, vowing to make it pay for the death of his friend. Rays of divine light escape Brann’s eyes, but even with the vigor of revenge behind them, they have little effect on the blob.

The blob swells up and covers the entire cavern, walls, floor, and ceiling. It then begins to flow freely through the cavern, splitting and moving around Varro and Belimir, somehow avoiding attacks from either of them. As it reforms behind them, a long arm-like appendage protrudes from its mass and slams into Belimir, acid goo splashing onto the Druid, burning at his fur and skin.

The rat snips at Francis as it tries to protect itself, but misses the halfling completely.

Seeing that his swarm had little effect, Belimir changes back into his human form, stepping away from…….Bob. Can it be drowned? He summons a torrent of water which splashes the creature. He goes into the cave and quickly examines what`s in there.

Wilam is frustrated at the slime’s ability to move despite his electric barrier. He abandons that tactic and switches to his cold attacks.

He realizes he’s with distance of another strike and moves back to what he feels will be a safe distance.

Arden looks more worried than usual as the blob moves towards them, striking a damaging blow on Belimir. “Looks like this thing isn’t going down without a fight!” Arden begins chanting and fires a bolt of dark, crackling, eldritch energy at the blob. He then moves further back against the wall, entering the shadows for protection.

Varro growls in protest as the jelly shifts past him.
Raising his axe he charges back at the …thing.

Belimir’s hurt again but he’s too far away. This thing looks rather more serious than mere goblins so I’ll have to be careful, no rushing straight headlong into it. I’ve got responsibilities to all of our comrades.

Brann cautiously moves into a better position to assist his wounded companion while attempting to bolster the attacks on the blob.

Belimir shifts back into his human state, and begins the motions of summoning the torrent of water.

The water surrounds and splashes into the Blob, but again has little effect on the gelatenous mass.

Belimir then moves further into the cave to investigate.
He finds that the section of the cave is empty, minus several spots full of slimey goo.
As he moves farther into the cave, the sticky acid burns his skin some more.

Wilam, frustrated at the ineffective electric storm, pulls forth cold from the frozen elements to assault the creature.

An icy blast of cold assails the Jelly, freezing parts of the slime covering its mass, falling off and shattering on the floor.

Wilam, cautious not the be hit, moves back several steps, well out of reach of the blob.

…Something seems to be happening to the Jelly.

It collapses in on itself slightly and begins to quake and shake violently.

The slime then begins to part straight down the middle, slowly seperating into two halves.

Each side falls apart from the other, and there are now two jellies in the caverns.

The slime has split!

Arden, wasting no time, begins chanting and fires a bolt of dark, crackling lightning at the closest part of the blob. It strikes, sending eldritch energy coursing through the jelly. He then jumps back through the shadows once again, seeking protection.

Varro growls at the slippery goo sneaking past him. He raises his greataxe and charges back at the thing…or part of it…his axe slicing clean through the body of the blob, but not connecting with it at all. The slime anticipated his attack and apparently ‘dodged’ the swing…

Brann caustiously moves into a better position to help Belimir and bolster the attacks of the rest of the party against this creature.

His defiant gaze is overlooked as the slime is focused on an easier target.

The slimes begin moving closer, hungrily persuing the weaker party members.

The weaker of the two halves moves steadily towards Brann, weaving in and out of the stalagmites.

It reaches out and slams the cleric with a gooey appendage.

Francis strikes the rat with grief and vengence, smashing it into the rocky wall.

The second slime follows Belimir into the lower caverns, but as it passes Varro, cannot pass up a chance at weakening a closer meal.

It tries to slam Varro with its acid-dripping arm, crashing in hard into the dwarves side, Acid sticking fast to the dwarves armor and skin.

Belimir didn`t realize how much damage the blob had realy cauzed him and was paying the price for that. He finds new strength within him and get ready for the oncoming half of the blob.

Varro growls again in defiance of the slime and the pain it just inflicted on him. He once again raised his axe and attacks the nearest slime.

Still hiding silently behind the cover of the wall, Jiles looks on in horror as the jelly splits apart. What the?! Waking up from his stupor at watching the gelatinous creature split, Jiles fires his crossbow at the creature nearest him.

After firing the bolt, he shifts quietly back a few steps, reloading as he does so.

Seeing Belimir in some bit of pain, Jiles takes aim at the creature and fires again.

I need to get to Belimir, that acid is taking its toll. First I’ll have to get past this blob though.
Brann attempts to finish off the slime closest to him while trying to use his divine powers to aid against the acid eating away at himself.

Wilam smiles as the nearest blob gets overwhelmed. He summons his Astral Wasp to torment the second Jelly. “Τσίμπημα του από χίλιοι πόνοι”

Seeing that the nearest jelly is under control and Belimir is getting cornered, Arden rushes forward into range for the second jelly. He utters a foul curse at the gelatinous blob and unleashes another dark bolt of energy, crackling as it shoots from his rod.

Belimir stops to catch his breath while he is in the empty section of the cave. He finds new strength in himself and prepares for the persistant half of the blob. He also manages to swat away the last of the sticky acid that was clinging to his skin.

Varro growls in defiance he raises his axe and brings it crashing down onto the slime, goo flying everywhere as his axe obliterates the ooze. The flying goop cleans off the acid that was sticking to him as well.

Jiles slips out of the shadows, finally taking action against the slime, firing a crossbow bolt into the heart of the creature, he then slips back into safety of the shadows, reloading his crossbow as he does.

The first half of the jelly quivers and then deflates as it sinks into the ground, defeated.

Jiles prepares to fire again at the ooze, but is relieved to find that it is already dead.

Brann notices the acid eatting away at Belimir and makes a valiant effort to get close enough to tend to his wounds.

The cleric spots Jiles finishing off the first half, so he continues on his way towards Belimir, inacting a holy flame upon the second half, scorching the jelly, wisps of smoke rising from the burning ooze.

Brann shakes off the effects of the acid, and calls out soothing words, drawing power from his diety to heal Belimir’s wounds.

Wilam is pleased as the last jelly is overwhelmed by the Cleric, and saves his spells for when they are needed next.

Arden rushes forward hoping to help save the cornered Druid, luckily the threat has been dispatched.

Francis moves to rejoin the group, unaware of the jelly they had been fighting.

Varro wipes ooze from his axe and looking in Wilam’s general direction, “Whatdahell was dat?!”

Belimir takes a deep sigh of relief. The battle with Bob was hard. It got him. It really got him! One minute he was triumphantly walking in this cave and the next, some giant tar monster ate all his friends, and it hurt him as well. He was begining to feel really tired. I hope there isn`t more to this keep.
“Let`s just keep going…….I`m getting tired. The front just isn`t that interesting. I`m going to stay back, with Wilam.”

Wilam walks up to the lifeless ooze and shakes his head at Varro, “Some sort of gelatainous creature.” He catches a whiff of the dead creature and his stomach wretches. He holds his stomach and gags, but keeps from vomiting. “Vile creature, indeed.”

“From what I know of them, they’re barely sentient creatures that scour caverns and underworld places in search of food… their jelly ‘bodies’ simply absorb and digest anything it comes in contact with. Make sure none of it gets left on your armor… or it will be eaten away before nightfall.”

Arden peers around the room from the puddles of slime, to the rat guts, and eventually his eyes settle on Ehud’s corpse. “What are we going to do with him? We can’t just leave him here like this….” While Arden didn’t know Ehud very well, you can tell that he feels the sting of loss and would like to show respect for the dead. “We could cover his body and give him a proper burial on our way out, though I have nothing to cover him with.” Arden looks around the room and tries to remember if he saw anything in the other rooms that could be used to keep off the corpse.

“Ehud deserved better, but he would not want us to suffer now. We should come back once the keep is cleansed of evil and give him the send off to the next realm that he deserves.”

His life shall not be in vain, we must rid this keep of evil.

“Well, da cat be gettin tukered out an wit Eduh bein dead, I recken we could be takin him body back ta town and rest up a bit den we could be makin anudder go at da keep. Not likely dat da be havin much ov a way ov restockin der defences. I don’t recken der be much harm in takin Eduh’s body back, he be deservin dat much befere whatever critters be eatin his flesh ta a bare pile ov bones. I me self be good edder way, but I be reckenin dat Eduh be deservin ta be honored proper like. But Lik-I-said I be good edder way.”

Varro waits for the others to weight in on the idea.

“I think we should at least explore the rest of these caverns… unless they get too deep. But I agree that we shouldn’t over-extend ourselves.”

“Poor Ehud. But he is dead now. I say we make camp here, find a room, clean it up and rest. It might not be safe, but we`ll save time. I really hope there isn`t much more to this keep. Is anybody mapping it?” Belimir looks at his frineds.

Arden nods at the others, “I do agree that we should keep exploring at least a few more rooms. I suppose now that we have killed the rats in here his corpse should be safe for a while. As for the mapping, we agreed to handle it when we have cleared this place… it should be easier to do in one shot than pausing in each room to map out the dimensions.”

With one last glance at Ehud’s corpse, Arden looks to the group.

“So which way then?”

As the group calms down after the fight in the caverns, Varro, Arden, and Brann all notice something suspicious about the wall to their left. It doesn’t quite match the rest of the stone around it.

Varro examines the wall, looking for a way to open the secret door.

" ey Sneaky, come er. Der be sometin not hanky dorry wit dis wall"

Varro runs his hands along the edge of the door, showing Jiles where the edges are.

“Ya tink ya can be gettin it open?”

A small notch in the secret door appears the be what is used as the handle. The door has no hinges, but looks as if it would slide open and shut.

“Damnit sneaky, get yer head outta yer arse and be checkin if we can open dis ting wit out blowin any ting up er be killin ourselves. Is just be likely ta be findin out da hard way.”

Varro points out the handle.

Getting impatient Varro grabs the handle “Stand back!” and opens the the sliding secret door.

The door slides easily open, a large cloud of dust explodes into the room blocking the view and choking Varro up a bit. The dust settles after a few minutes. Inside the secret room lay basic adventuring equipment.

“Jack Pot!” Varro grabs the ale sniffs it once and drinks from it twice.

He picks up the rations, sunrods, and both wineskins.

“a’ight, Lets get ta goin.” He hoists his axe over his shoulder, and heads south.

That secret room looked very comfortable to Belimir. Maybe we can curl up in there and rest for a while. I`ve never felt this exhausted before. But I`m not going to show it. What would Vid think? A hunter giving up on it`s prey. I am going to live through this keep and make sure to be smarter in combat. Stand back like Wilam and drown everything that doesn`t like us.

Belimir feels his determination rising. He starts going to the next room, but remembers his own thoughts and is impatiently waiting for the party to move forward.

“Do those look like Goblin supplies? And why were they stashed behind this secret door? Although judging from that dust it may have been a while since that room has been used.”

Brann pauses.

“Still I think we’ll be best off trying to clear out this keep today. Not sure we want to be curling up for bed this evening with the thought of ghosts around, eh Belimir”

Brann winks over at the druid hoping his words have lightened the situation.

Wilam is startled by the sound of the sliding door. He walks over to the newly discovered room and studies it for clues of origin or anything that stands out of the ordinary.

Arden looks over the basic supplies found within the hidden room. Thought there would be more in there than that… guess it was just a hidden sleeping place. Bored with the empty secret room, Arden follows Varro through the southern exit and on into the next room.

Varro and Arden make their way south deeper into the caverns.

Belimir follows the two, although he is determined to stay back if possible.

“I am going to follow the others. I do not want to miss anything, as we do not know what we could find in these caverns. Care to join me?” Francis pauses for a moment waiting for responses, then moves off south to catch up with Varro, Belimir, and Arden.

“Right behind you.” Wilam walks beside Francis.

“Indeed, let’s see what we can find.” Brann moves up to catch up with the others.

View
Episode 13: Excavation Site

A bright lit room is at the bottom of a short stairway. The goblin warrior can be seen scurrying farther into the room as the heroes enter near the bottom of the stairs.

Upon seeing the fleeing goblin,
DER YA ARE, PIGGY
Varro rushes in and shoulders the Goblin from behind, knocking it flat on it’s back.

Jiles watches Varro rush in towards the goblin, and waits for him to finish before letting off a shot with his crossbow. “Die beast!”

After firing a bolt, Jiles quickly reloads.

Jiles fires a bolt at the fallen goblin, quickly ending its pitiful life.

Wilam continues to be silent and avoid attracting attention.

Now that the immediate threat of the goblin warrior is gone, a rough staircase can be seen leading down to the right. The rest of the room is brightly lit and the sound of pickaxes can still be heard coming from farther in the room.

Arden leans against the wall for a moment to rest. He then whispers to the others and points around the corner, “Let’s take care of the pick axes in the room before we head down the stairs. They are probably just slaves but we wouldn’t want them on our tail or blocking our escape.”

“W….what`s happening?” Belimir slowly enters the room. “Why did we have to go underground…….Couldn`t this keep have floors that go up instead of down…….”

Jiles slowly down the hallway to take a peek around the corner without raising any sort of alarm. He holds his hand up to the others, indicating for them to wait for a moment.
Reaching the end of the corridor, he looks around the corner as best he can without being noticed.

Not like the looks of this place and remembering the trap in the other room, Ehud begins to search for traps or hidden passages as soon as he proceeds down the stairs.

As Jiles peeks around the corner, the room comes into clear view. Torches are placed around the room both above and below the floor. A few goblins can be seen wandering around a pit dug throughout the center of the room. Red, scaly drakes can be seen walking through the pit effectively guarding the room.

Varro waits a report from the rogue, holding action to give controllers a chance to act.

Jiles moves back silently to the others, motioning and gesturing silently to indicate there are at least five adversaries of which he is aware. He whispers quietly that there are drakes and goblins. Jiles quickly checks his crossbows, moving back to the corner to await the others, readying for a strike.

Varro looks to the casters. Following their lead, he motions that he is ready to act.
Taking up a position just behind Jiles.

Arriving late to the party, Wilam walks carefully up to Arden and whispers, “What’s going on?”

Brann moves up close to the others as he sees them whispering to find out the situation.

Varro obviously growing impatient, looks to the casters and tries to silently get their attention …

once he has their attention, he holds up 5 stubby fingers and then holds his fist with thumb out and runs it across his throat.Varro then points towards the mine area indicating the number of enemies ahead.
He then points at the casters and directs them to the front of the group.

Wilam gives Varro a nod of understanding, following it with a puzzled look. I’ll be damned if I’m going out there first!
Even still, Wilam moves up next to Varro and gives a questioning look.

Varro whispers “Ya want me ta go on out der and be playin shield fer ya so ya can do ya thing?”

Whispering in reply, “Your wild charges have worked just fine in the past.” A spark of imagination hit Wilam and a wry smile crosses his lips. “I know… Just go when you hear the… distraction.”

Wilam moves up behind Jiles and begins chanting as quietly under his breath as possible. He raises his hands and then pushes out, away from himself. The sound of a screaming goblin echoes through the chamber, followed by a crash of something metal and a thump. After a moment, Wilam continues the illusionary sound effects with draconic curses.

Just as Wilam had suggested, Varro charges down the hallway with axe in hand. Once out in the main mining area, Varro immediately realizes this is a DAMN big room. Then he has an idea.

Moving to look out over the pit, Varro raises his axe over his head with both hands and shouts:

WHY YA BE SLAVES TO DES PANSY ASS DUNG DWELLERS? …

YA BE RISIN UP, AND TAKE ARMS AGAINST DES SMELLY SLUGS.

ME KINDRED, I BE HERE TA BE HELPIN YA ESCAPE,

ESCAPE DA SLAVERY DES SISSY PIG-NOSED SISTER-KISSIN BASTARDS HAVE BEEN FORCIN YA IN TA …

ARE YA WIT ME! ARE YA WIT ME! … ARE… YA… WITMEEEEEEEEEEE!"

Varro continues to shout to the slaves the goblins are controlling, to incite a riot.

Francis scoots to Q13 and whispers to Jiles, “The goblin at the northeast corner of the room is the only creature that would notice us setting up an ambush from up top. If Arden can’t maneuver there stealthily to strike it down, can you shoot it?” He looks behind him at the others, and holds his shield close to himself. Just in case.

With a silent nod to Francis, as Varro charges out, Jiles takes a shot at the surprised goblin in the corner.

Jiles moves back behind the cover of the wall, quickly reloading and peeking around the corner to watch.

Gesturing rapidly for the others to run in, and hearing Varro yell, Jiles yells out, “Get in there!”

Arden shakes his head at Francis, “I can’t reach the one in the corner. But I can hit that drake down there…” Arden moves up into the action, fading into the shadows as he does so. You then hear him uttering a curse at the foul being and he begins a series of chants and gestures, casting a dark spell at the drake.

Brann moves up to get closer to his companions and wait to see where his clerical skills will be of the greatest use.

Tired of this cowardly tactics, Belimir steps forward, raises his staff and simply says “डूबना” Another torrent of water rushes into the area, overwhelming the creatures.

Wilam moves around the corner to get out of everyone’s way.

The group holds back, quietly discussing their plan of action in the next room.

Suddenly, Varro runs to the edge of the pit, arms waving as he yells out at the top of his lungs. Crying about saving his kin from the oppressive Goblins.

The sound of a goblin crying out as it falls off the ledge startles the workers in the room.

The goblin miners stop what they are doing and look up at the crazed dwarf. Curious looks cross their faces as an awkward pause falls over the room as Varro realizes he is swearing to free a room full of Goblins.

The miners all look around at one another, then a crossbow bolt flies in the wall above the goblin in the far corner, appearing from the shadows of the entryway.

The goblin looks up at the bolt embedded in the wall, then turns back towards the pit, raises his shortsword and yells something that cannot be understood. Sounding very similar to “Attack!”

Arden moving into position past Francis, calls his target as the drake in the southern corner of the room. Uttering a curse from the Infernal Shadows, Arden unleashes a dark spell at the drake, searing the drake with shadowy flames.

Brann moves farther down the hall waiting to see the outcome of the beginning of the encounter.

Belimir, tired of waiting, steps forward, staff in hand. A torrent of water flies forth from his waterskin, overwhelming the drake and the goblin in the center of the pit. The drake falls hard under the weight of the water, crashing to its belly.

Wilam steps forward into the clearing, getting a better view of the room.

The goblins all scamble towards the ladders, firing their crossbows as they come to a stop.

The goblin Belimir hit with the water obviously didn’t like getting wet, and fires a quarrel at the Druid, scoring a very solid hit on the elf.

The goblin who was watching the pit from above runs across the planks crossing the landings around the room. He fires a bolt at Varro, nailing the dwarf in the shoulder.

One of the sharpshooting goblins has made quite the run towards the party. Seeing the stout halfling in full gear, he fires at Francis, having some luck with his shot, hitting the Paladin.

Varro accepts that these goblins are not slaves but mearly workers for the goblin heirachy, so he runs across the plank and knocks the Goblin Slinger that he has nicked named “Jerkie” off the ladder and into the masses.

Ehud sighs and moves to look around and then heads towards the staircase south of the Excavation site.

“Good idea, shame it didn’t quite go to plan!”, Brann shouts as he sees his companions letting nailed by a shower of bolts.

He scurries forward to lend his divine powers to the foray and blasts the closest goblin while using the healing energies to bolster his druid companion.

Belimir ignores the arrow, the blood and the pain. I will drown these cursed goblins and their pet dragons. I WILL DROWN THEM!
With language so foul it rings in everyones ears, Belimir utters another primal curse at the two enemies. “तुम कमीने मर बुतपरस्त जीव योनी”

Belimir barely realises how hurt he is, he’s so focused on bringing pain to those goblins. I may have to check with him afterwards to see if there’s anything I may be able to help him with.

“Belimir, don’t ignore your wounds”, Brann says as he channels his divine powers into the injured druid.

Watching the goblins approach, Jiles fires a shot at a skirmisher, trying to hit a shoulder or leg to leave him vulnerable to his next bolt.

With a fluid motion, a bolt moves from out from beneath his cloak and into his crossbow.

Wilam considers his options carefully. He notes the goblins on the eastern mounds of dirt have crossbows, so restricting their movement wouldn’t be effective. They’ll likely want to stay at range until forced into a melee. The goblin to the north was flooded in Belimir’s blast of water and was just met with the full force of Varro’s shoulder. No need to worry about that one. I wonder how well they’ll handle those crossbows while their hands are frost bitten.

Wilam finds the cold magic comes easily in the underground. Motioning with his arms, as if raising something from the ground, Wilam extracts a cloud of biting frost crystals to surround the furthest goblin. “ψύξη σύννεφο”

Arden picks out another target in the room and utters his infernal curse at the goblin. His eyes reflecting his fury, Arden calls upon the wild magic he learned from a sorcerer not too long ago. Brilliant light flashes, momentarily lighting the room, and a bolt of chaos shoots out towards the drake he had attacked earlier.

Francis runs towards the goblin and attempts to push it off the ledge.

Varro, understanding that these are workers of the Goblin Union, and not slaves, readies himself for yet another fight. He charges at the newly dubbed “Jerkie”, trying to knock him off the ladder.

Varro rushes across the planks and bullrushes the goblin standing at the top of the ladder. The goblin takes the hit hard in the chest, and flies backwards into the air, crashing hard down onto the ground below.

Ehud, sighing, moves down the stairs into another room.

Brann moves forward into the fray to lend his hand in the combat. He releases a sacred flame at the Flying Goblin that Varro just hit. Bolstering Belimir’s health.

Belimir, obviously troubled, ignores the arrow causing him pain, and begins moving the torrent of water around the room. Crashing waves assault the goblin and drake again. The waves crash into the Drake, but miss the goblin as it flies out over the pit. The drake once again falls to its belly.

Jiles weighs the situation as he watches the goblins advance towards the party. He fires a bolt at a goblin, trying to open up an opportunity for his next attack. The shot falls short of the Goblin, leaving it unharmed.

Wilam considers his options and begins summoning an icy cloud of frost from the bitter ground. Letting it fly at the farthest goblin, freezing the goblinkin in its tracks, shivers overcoming its body.

Arden curses another goblin, and calls upon the wild magic he studied long ago. Bright light flashes in the room and a bolt of chaos flies towards the drake he targeted before.

Francis, following the lead of Varro, rushes towards the goblin on the other platform, hoping to knock it off as well. The goblin stiffarms the paladin as it tries to tackle it, pushing the halfling off as he collides.

The frozen goblin moves forward through the cloud and crosses the plank, ready to flank Francis with its ally. It swings with its shortsword towards the halfling, but its frozen muscles barely respond, causing a half-hearted swing missing the paladin.

It’s ally attacks with its shortsword, using the distraction of the botched push and its ally to gain an advantage. It lands a solid hit on Francis.

The Guard Drakes move about the bottom of the pit, obviously not able to climb the ladders.

The fallen goblin and the drake on its belly manage to rise to their feet, angry at the Dwarf, being the closest enemy to them at the moment.

Bloodlust and the joys of battle begin to overtake the bellicose dwarf, Varro licks his lips and charges down after the prone goblin, axe leading the way.

Feeling refreshed, Belimir sees Varro has things under control, so he turns his wrath to the other group of enemies, who are grouping around Francis. He hits the ground with his staff and whispers another primal curse. “बंद करो दोगला अन्यजातियों”

Wilam waves his hands from left to right and as he does, the cold cloud moves through the air to follow the goblin. The cloud settles over the raging water from Belimir and continues to chill the goblins, hindering their ability to attack while in the cloud.

Arden grins maliciously and enters the shadows, moving closer to the two goblins and drake within range. He curses the other goblin with an infernal chant, and unleashes a violent, deafening clap of thunder at the three beasts in front of him.

At least Belimir isn’t at death’s door anymore. Let’s see about these goblins now.

Brann takes a moment to survey the room to try and figure out how the battle is going.
He whispers over to the rogue, “Jiles, I’m sure your eyes are better than mine, which of these little buggers is going down next?”

Turning briefly to look at Brann, “I don’t know, maybe this one?” With a wink, Jiles turns and shoots at one of the goblins.

Jiles moves out from beside the wall.

“May as well give him a shot, but when the others ask tell em I was busy taking out the big one.” Brann winks back and shoots out a burst of light at the goblin.

Francis invokes a prayer against the goblin in front of him, wracking it with terrible pain. The prayer seems to cause the goblin incredible pain when it tries to attack.

The paladin shifts back onto the plank and takes a deep swig of a potion.

Varro, bloodlust coursing through his body, leaps off of the plank, into the air, axe leading his assault.

As he passes over the goblin, his axe cuts deep, cleaning lopping off its head, coming back around to clip the Drake as he lands on the other side of the monsters.

Belimir, recouperating from his wounds, turns his focus on the group of goblins around Francis. He expertly moves his crashing wave to attack his new quarries.
The only target that takes any kind of damage is the goblin near the bottom of the landing. The water crashes along the edge of the platform, protecting the Drake from any real damage.

Wilam moves his chilling cloud, following its prevous victim. The cloud settles over the raging water of Belimir, freezing parts of the crashing water, and chilling the air around it. Even the Drake cannot escape the effects of the icy cloud.

Arden slips into his ever-familiar shadows. He moves closer to the goblins attacking Francis, mumbling an infernal curse at one as he does. He plants his feet right behind the halfling, and claps his hands together in front of him. A loud clap of thunderous noise emmits from the Warlock, causing incredible pain to the cursed monsters before him.

One of the goblins and the Drake seem to be stumbling about, almost as if they were deafened by the thunder.

Brann takes a moment to look about the room, surveying the battle. He tries to find which of the combatants are nearing death, but can’t seem to get a good look at any of them from where he is.

The drake and one of the goblins on the platform sure do look bloodied up. The drake can barely stand as it is. Obvious signs of it’s remaining constitution.

With a flourish, Jiles shows off a bit for Brann, shooting one of the goblins with his crossbow, causing a nice sized wound, blood rushing out.

Brann, meeting Jiles’ gusto, fires a bolt of light at the same goblin, helping Francis hold the threat on the landing.

The miner in this room, having taken quite a beating, are losing resolve.

The drake nearest to Varro, lashes out with its serpentine neck, razor sharp teeth leading, nipping Varro on his arm.

The goblins on the platform try to escape the frozen, pounding waves, but find little room to move.

They manage to climb out of the water, and level their crossbows at the warlock who has shown himself from the shadows. Both goblins hitting Arden.

The drake on the floor below dashes for the large ramp near the party. Crazed and on the brink of death, the Drake cares little for its safety.

It rushs in towards Belimir, its neck weaving and thrusting, rows of deadly teeth eager to kill anything it can. Belimir is unfortuante enough to be the closest target to the Drake, taking considerable damage from the crazed creature.

“Jiles! Finish the one in the back… I’ll keep the one by Francis busy.” He opens his tome and speaks a few words of Astral magic while staring squarely at the goblin. “Ελάτε εμπρός, σφήκα της μαγείας. Επίθεση εχθρός μου.”

With a quick wink, Jiles loads his crossbow and fires toward the goblin. “Gladly!”

As the first bolt pierces his enemy, ripping into its flesh, Jiles quickly brings his second crossbow in front, taking another shot.

As the second bolt flies slightly wide, Jiles loads both crossbows simultaneously.

Arden grunts as he takes two crossbow quarrels to the body. He turns toward the furthest bloody goblin and attempts to finish him off with a blast of dark energy. “Die you wretched beast!”

Seeing his companion once again taking a ferocious attack Brann cries out, “Back Beast, feel the light of Moradin.”

Belimir was growing tired. one minute he was bleeding and the next he felt like he just got out of bed. And to top that, every creature was after him. He`ll have to check if he smells or something because it was getting annoying. He wasn`t the type to go in the front and smack enemies. He was a hunter, a predator. Oh what the hell. I`m gonna kill this dragon sh*t.

Quickly he moved away from the creature and raised his staff, again whispering the drowning curse. “तुम्हें नरक में इस धार ले”

Varro recovers from his dive, rolls to his feet and blocks the drakes twisted assault with his off-arm. He then follows up the attack with an attack of his own.

Francis taunts one of the goblins, daring him to attack the Paladin.

He moves tactically forward, expertly guiding his axe straight through the goblin, holy power slicing all the way through the greenskin.

Wilam calls out orders to Jiles, focusing on the goblin in front of Francis. He begins chanting, bringing forth another spell, then his target falls from an incredible strike from Francis. Wilam finishes summoning his wasp, but without a target the wasp buzzes in place, ready for a new quarry from its master.

Jiles takes the que from Wilam, takes quick aim and lets fly an extremely accurate shot. The bolt drives itself deep into the goblin, dropping it where it stands.

Jiles, deciding to show off, pulls his second crossbow in his offhand, and shoots the goblin again as its falling, scoring a second hit before it is even able to hit the ground.

He then moves off, looking for his next victim.

Grunting as he takes two quarrels in the side, Arden turns to the fallen goblin and curses its soul to damnation. He blasts the body with an Eldritch Blast, its small lifeless green body exploding into tiny parts as the energy overwhelms its dead form.

Arden slips off into the shadows.

Brann cries out towards the Drake that walked up onto the landing. He brings forth a sacred flame to burn the attacking creature. The flames burn the Drake, bringing down the crazed beast for its last breath.

Seeing his healer protecting his allies, Belimir gains some resolve.

Belimir, healthy as can be now thanks to Brann, shifts back and brings forth his grasping tide of water to block passage up the ramp from any other enemies.

Varro rolling to his feet, recovers from his very successful dive. He blocks the drakes assault with his off-hand, punching the drake straight in the face, bringing his axe around to follow through with a wicked strike.

The drake dodges under the swing of the axe, only to find the dwarf staring daggers at him.

The drake, not wanting to show any intimidation from the battlerager, snorts out and strikes forward with its saliva-dripping maw.

As it continues to stare at the Dwarf, their eyes locked in an internal struggle of wills, the drake continues to drool all over the cavern floor. It drools and drools for what seems an eternity as the two combatants play the staring game.

The drake decides to move first, shifts back, and keeps shifting back, and back, and back. The drake has drooled so much that the floor underneath it is covered in slimey spit, and the drake slips backwards hard into the wall behind it.

Varro wasting no time and taking full advantage of the hurt and intimidated Guard Drake (he is now nicknamed “Slick”), he lunges forward with his axe held high and swings it hard against the beasts mid-section.

“Wee. Damn Slick dat be lookin like it hurt.Belly Laugh!”

Jiles smirks down at the guard drake, leveling his crossbow and pulling the trigger.

“Come on Varro, stop playing with your new friend. We’ve got a keep to map and we can’t stand around all day waiting for you.”

As the goblin explodes, vitality flows into Arden from his infernal curse. He then watches his companions strike the remaining drake multiple times, but he shrugs and begins another chant, first cursing the drake, and then blasting the nearly dead (or dead) drake with another burst of dark energy.

Varro takes full advantage of the drake’s clumsiness, and lunges forward with his axe, swinging in hard against the beasts mid-section.

The blow connects, taking a large chunk out of the beast. Somehow, it is still standing.

Jiles smirks at the Drake, above and behind the creature, an easy shot lined up. Jiles lets fly a bolt, burying it deep inside the gaping wound Varro just opened. The bolt peirces a lung, dropping the Drake where it stands.

As Ehud moves through the darkness of the caverns, he thinks he sees small figures moving in and out of the stalagtites and stalagmites around him. He walks past a large cluster of broken rubble, and hears small scurrying coming from all around him.

As he comes to a stop within the northern most cavern, giant rats appear all around him.

Ehud shakes his head. Last night must have really messed him up more than he thought. He moves and begins attacking the rats.

Ehud, still fuzzy from the alcohol last night, shakes his head.

He then begins clearing the infestation of rats around him.

He slices the rat closest to him, clipping its legs, killing the rat in one swing.

The other rats swarm Ehud, nipping and biting at him.

Ehud curses at the rats as they continue to swarm him. He shuffles to the right and holds his weapon before him. He swings out towards the closest rat, hoping to slow its movement while he holds his defensive position.

The rat is no match for the Avenger’s attack and falls quickly to the assault.

The other rats in the room continue to move closer to the lone adventurer.

The two rats scratch and bite at Ehud, trying to protect their caverneous lair.
Ehud takes a quick nip on the lower legs.

Many more rats climb out of their holes at the sound of a fresh meal. Ehud can see in the flicker of his torchlight that the rats are climbing along the ceiling, walls, and the floor to greet him with large yellow fangs.

Ehud becomes frightened by the rats swarming him and finds himself back on his feet, defending.

The rats continue to swarm him, trying to find an easy meal.

The two rats around him attack and find Ehud an easy target.

Move rats move in around him, disease-ridden fangs dripping with hunger.

Two of the Three rats that surround him score stinging hits onto Ehud, drawing nasty wounds on his body.

Ehud is surrounded by far too many giant rats. They finally overtake him, swarming his body, feasting on the hero, filling their vile bellies.

So the afterlife claims the Hero Ehud, falling to the evils of the Keep on the Shadowfell…

Arden moves to the wall and leans against it, attempting to recover from those crossbow quarrels. He scans the room, wondering what these creatures may have been searching for. “Are…. Were they mining for minerals or perhaps something more important?”

Francis drops his handaxe next his feet, bends over, and breathes as if as if he’s just completed a marathon. He squats down, inhales deeply, and spends a healing surge.

Still squatting, Francis prays to Oghma, concentrating on his surroundings

Lord of knowledge
Binder of what is known
I pray that Your whispers,
brilliant and sparkling,
shine upon the darkness
of what I do not know:
What were these creatures searching for?

After a moment of concentration, he picks up his handaxe and stands up. There was no answer from his deity.

Wilam walks around the edge of the entry platform. He’s not at all interested in attempting to balance across the boards connecting the other platforms. “I don’t know much about mining, but I’m pretty sure they’re not after precious metals.”

“Perhaps their masters gave them some maps or instructions. We might be able to figure out what they were up to from those. Might make our mapping a bit quicker too.”

Brann starts searching the nearby corpses for any documents.

Belimir nods in agreement to what Brann is saying. “That would be handy.”
He examines the room, wondering what might be so interesting about it.

Jiles looks over at Brann and Belimir. “I’ll help out.” With that, he begins searching through bodies, looking in shoes and pockets.

The group inspects the excavation area, trying to figure out what the Goblins were digging for. The equipment of the miners makes it obvious that they did not do this for a living, and must have thought something was hidden under the rocks and dirt of the room.

A small pile of coins is found next to one of the ladders. This must be all of the riches the goblins had found digging in the room up till this point.

There are twenty-two gold pieces in the pile and a dirt-covered medallion in the shape of a Shield with the Head of a Dragon facing to the left.

Varro places the coins in his pocket then examines the medallion a bit more closely thing try to notice anything else that is remarkable.

Wilam takes some interest in the dirty coin. “This is an interesting find, indeed.” He uses Prestidigitation to clean it and studies it’s characteristics.

Varro and Wilam examine the medallion closer. The symbol resembles a holy icon they remember seeing in a history book somewhere. Other than the fact that it is a religious icon, no other information can be discerned from it.

Finding nothing of great value, Brann heads over to Belimir. He approaches cautiously, unsure about the best approach with someone so different to his dwarfish clan mates.

“Belimir my friend, how are you recovering from the battle? You took some fearsome wounds during the last encounter.”

Brann steps in closer and drops his voice, “Is anything wrong? You seemed unconcerned for your own safety despite being grievously wounded. As a cleric of Moradin I will always be here to support my companions.”

Belimir smiles at the dwarf. “I am fine, and mostly thanks to you. Feeling a bit tired, but fine. Look. None of my wounds are visible anymore. You know how to heal flesh cleric. That simbol the others found. You think it might be of some God? You`re a man of faith, perhaps you could tell us what it`s used for?”

He goes to Wilam and takes the medallion. “Excuse me old man. It might be good for our men of faith to take a look at that…….trinket. If you are done with it ofcourse.”

Having gotten a good look at it and not seeing anything of note, he readily surrenders it, “Of course. My specialty is of a more… Arcane background.”

Belimir goes back to Brann and shoves the medallion in his hands. He was always interested in stories behind such things he couldn`t stand the anticipation. “So? What is it? Does it say anything?”

Ha, seems like he’s fine. Not a care in the world, the joys of youth. Not everyone is carrying around the scars of their past…

“Of course I’ll take a look. I’m not familiar with all of the evil deities that sadly plague our world but let’s see”

Brann and Belimir examine the icon. Belimir recognizes the symbol as the icon of the deity Bahamut.

Brann can tell that this holy symbol carries with it a holy power, uncommon in standard holy symbols.

“Hmm, very interesting. I can feel much power imbued within this symbol. It is marked with the icon of Bahamut, the Platinum dragon. He stands for honour and justice and would be supporting us on our intentions to cleanse this keep.”

Brann stares at the symbol for a few moments more to get a sense for it.

“I will use this symbol to aid us in our endeavours. Bahamut would support our blessed efforts to rid the world of evil.”

Brann clasps the symbol as he focuses his energies on it. Satisfied with the attunement he takes the thick chain around his neck and attaches the symbol to it.

He turns back to Belimir, “Thank you for noticing this my friend. If you would like I will gladly sit down to tell you of the many legends that have been carried out by the followers of the Platinum dragon.” He pauses for a moment, “Although perhaps now may not be the best time to let our guard down, I don’t think we’ve quite cleared out this keep of evil yet.”

STOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEES! Brann can see Belimir`s eyes have grown much bigger at the mention of stories. He has a big smile across his face. Suddenly, he starts harrasing Brann. “YOU KNOW STORIES!!!!!!!! YOU KNOW MANY LEGENDARY STORIES?!?!?!?!?! Please tell me. Pleeeeeeeeeasepleasepleaseplease.” Suddenly, he realized he was tugging the dwarfs arm a bit to hard and he noticed others were looking at him. He straightens up, pats Brann on the shoulders and starts coughing. “Khm khm………Yes, we`ll discuss these stories later……Once we make a camp and rest.” He walks away, pretending like he saw something in the ground. He changes shape into a black panther (he doesn`t want dirt to be shown on his otherwise white fur) and starts digging. After finding nothing, he starts digging at a different location.

Wilam is almost taken aback at the fact that the dwarf was able to detect a magic that he hadn’t. I have so much to learn. The differences between the power sources of the universe is staggering! The Arcane flows freely through me, yet I cannot sense a simple holy relic when it’s right in my hands.

“Brann, you’ll have to spend some time teaching me how to channel the holy magics… I’m sure they would be a great asset to my studies.”

“Of course my friend. Although I’m not certain of the compatabilities between the divine and the arcane, I would gladly sit with you to cover the fundamentals and experiment with your abilities. As a cleric of Moradin I am always looking to share enlightenment with others. As a follower of a noble path we are always guided and looked after by a higher power.”

“I would also be interested in learning of your powers but I doubt my abilities would allow me to carry out even the simplest of your magiks. I believe my path of the divine does not encompass any arcane powers.”

Varro continues dragging bodies from the last area into this one to search them. He overhears Wilam’s and Brann’s conversation.

“Bah, Ya ol dog, ya can’t be goin an learnin any new tricks. ya bes be focusin on what ya a’ready be workin on. ya call what ya did back der a distraction… ba me ol dead great grandma, rest her soul coulda been making a better distraction den dat. we best be workin on our stragigizin a bit, don’t ya be reckenin?”

Varro continues to dig thru the belongings of the last two victims from the last area, he looks up to Wilam and the others.

“Well, ifen we be stickin it out den we best be comin up wit a battle plan don’t ya be thinkin?”

“A plan? Oh dear Varro, did you take a hard knock from one of those goblins or has your madness from talking to your helmet returned. If you continue to come up with seemingly sensical ideas, I may be forced to start a ritual of exorcism to return your mind to your body.”

“Well, I’d say we’ve been doing a fine job, so far. We’ve outnumbered our foes almost two to one in most skirmishes. As a general rule, my goal is to simply disrupt the enemy. My magic is better for hinderance than it is for killing… But if things get desperate, we’ll have to play it by ear, I guess.”

Arden nods at Varro, "I’ll curse and blast anything you aren’t dicing up, and try to stick to the shadows so I don’t have to be healed much. Other than that, I’d say the plan is to move on and find some more Goblins to kill….”

Patting Arden on the shoulder, “Aye, I tink I be goin ta be liken ya jus fine. Indeed, yous and I be gettin along like biscuits an dat sweet gravy.” looking to the others “Dis be Darky, and he be wit me.” Full belly Laugh “Ya all be followin dis ones lead.”

Arden chuckles at the nickname, “We’re going to need to find a name for you friend!
And are we missing Ehud again? Is he scouting for us?”

“Now that you mention it… I haven’t seen him since we chased that goblin in here.”

Varro shruggs, “Well, he not be back dataway”, he points back to the guard room.

Jiles, watching the exchange from the outside, looks back in the direction they came. After a moment, he steps forward.

“I realize I’m new to this little group and all, so don’t mind me, but what exactly are we all doing just standing here?” Jiles points back where they came. “Sooner or later there are going to be goblins pouring in from there if they find their dead. I’d rather not be caught here studying religious artifacts. Not to mention, we’re all making enough noise at this point to wake up the entire keep!” After a brief pause, taking a deep breath, Jiles continues. “I suggest we find Ehud and move along before our position is compromised and they manage to form some sort of organized assault.”

“Ya be meaning des dead bodies?” Varro presents the pile he has made here in the hall of the bodies from the guard room.

“True enough Jiles. I fear we’ve got into the habit of being more like a cannonball than a carefully shot arrow. I blame Varro,” as he slaps the other dwarf on the shoulder.

“Tank ya” Varro smiles proudly.

Arden laughs out loud at the comment, “Aha! That’s your new name, Cannonball! Blowing the place to pieces without prejudice!”

Belly Laugh

“Still, we should save our mutual knowledge saving for the campfire.”

Brann cocks an ear to see if he can hear anything from beyond the stairs.

“Well my young friend, my ears aren’t the best so can you make out anything?”

Brann listens carefully and can barely make out subtle squeaks and cittering of what sounds like the common underground rodents. Cool air can be felt flowing up from the deep blackness of the roughly cut caverns.

“All I can hear are some rodents and they shouldn’t really be a problem for us.” Brann looks over into the caverns. “Hmm, I wonder how far these caverns go down. I can feel some cool air, they may have dug into a cave system open to the outside.”

Arden walks over to the stairway leading down. “Further down sounds good to me… hopefully we will find Ehud. Cannonball? After you!” Arden chuckles to himself as the visual crosses his mind…. it’s Varro shooting out of a cannon, clad in armor, double hand grip on his axe, and flying into a sea of soon-to-be-dead Goblins.

Wilam agrees about moving on and heads back through the dark hallway and back into the room with the pit. “There are two ways… The hallway across the way and the doorway at the bottom of the stairs. I suggest the hallway first.”

Arden shrugs and follows Wilam. “I thought we would explore the staircase in the mining room since we were there, but we can double back and start checking the other places as well. We will need to remember to come back to the mining room.”

“Staircase?” Wilam tugs on his beard. I don’t remember a staircase. He shrugs and turns to Arlen, “I’ll follow you…”

Arden points the stairway out to Wilam, “I don’t know if Ehud followed us in here, but if he did he probably went down these stairs… hopefully he hasn’t gotten himself into any trouble.”

Finding the staircase in question, Wilam shakes his head in dismay. How typical of you, old man. Missing something as plain as the nose on your face. You’re lucky you’re not alone.

Belimir observed the situation and didn`t interfere in the conversation and the discussion about tactics. I think we`re doing just fine. Still in his animal form, he silently follows Brann.

Accepting the tactical decisions of the others, Brann moves up behind Arden. “Sounds like a good idea. It can’t be safe to get caught alone in here and we’ve only encountered some lowly minions so far. Their leader is bound to be around somewhere.”

Varro moves to the top of the stairs and starts down.

“Den lets getta goin den. hey Sneaky get up ere and do ya ting”

Nodding for Jiles to take point.

Francis sticks close to Varro as he goes down the stairs.

Wilam waits for the others to file down into the new room before going in.

View
Episode 12: Entering the Keep

The party gathers at the gates of Winterhaven, a small number of villagers that happen to be near the gate all wave at the passing adventurers, calling out their farewells to the ‘Heroes of Winterhaven’ as they make their leave of the town.

The road to Shadowfell Keep is arduous. Since the keep’s destruction, few travelers use the road and it is obvious that no one bothers to maintain the path. The road is overgrown with grass, ferns, and small trees. The keep isn’t in any better shape. Evidence of its destruction can be seen as you approach the derelict ruins.

Ahead, the narrow track widens into a clearing. Great piles of shattered stone blocks and scorched timbers dominate the clearing, sprawling out from its center to the edge of the woods. No plants grow among the ruins or within the clearing. The ground is bare dirt, and although the forest has begun to reclaim the path leading here, it has not intruded into the ruins of Shadowfell Keep.

Yet clearly someone has tampered with the ruins. In the center of the debris, stone blocks and timbers have been gathered into a pile. Someone has cleared a path through the rubble an pulled aside the wreckage to reveal a stone staircase. The staircase descends into the darkness.

“Well it be sure dat none of my kin be involved in da building ov dis keep … shoddy workmanship”

Varro shakes his head in disgust.

“Well da path be clear as da nose on me face. but I be reckenin ya all be wantin ta take it easy and slow and check every lil spot.
Who be da mapper … ya best get started on dat mappin"

Varro looks the area over for any immediate danger or targets

Belimir frowns. I`m really not good at….“mappin”. Although, maybe I am……….I don`t know, I`ve never tried…….So………theoretically I might be a mappin` genius! Nah………It`d probably be a mess………How did Varro call it? Critter starch?

Out loud, he smiles and just says: “Not it.”

Wilam finds a stone from the ruins to sit upon. He begins meditating while the others begin their mapping. He lets his senses stretch out to the surroundings and he tries to get a read on the magical energies in the area.

An underlying sense of ancient, powerful magic emanates from the entire area. It is present but only a subtle feeling. The overwhelming sense of dread and incorporeal evil keeps anything else from being learned.

Wilam finds himself completely lost in the flows of magic. The physical world fades from his consciousness and his mind is enveloped in a swirl of dark energies. He can sense the portal and all of its evil. He reaches out to it but it eludes his grasp. It’s here… Terrible and wicked. It’s here… we must end it.
With a spasm, he wakes from his trance and nearly falls off the stone. Swallowing hard, he looks around at his companions, trying to gauge the time he was in the trance. To his dismay, he finds it was merely a few seconds and the group is still only discussing who will play the cartographer. The magic is strong if it only took seconds to enter so close, so quickly.

In rubble, the ruined keep looks to be of shoddy make, but closer examination of the blocks used for construction show obvious signs of dwarven make. There is no trouble afoot and danger seems to be only ahead of the party.

Arden looks around the keep for danger and shrugs at the others comments. “I suppose whoever brought the supplies to map, should be the mapper. Not I.” He smiles and moves up to the ruins, looking for arcane symbols or other such traces of magic. “This place looks very ominous indeed… I’m sure there is power to be found here.”

There seems to be no specific markings or signs found on any of the ruins of the ancient keep. No traces of magic can be found outside the ruins.

“So, nothing is outside. Let`s get inside and see who`s in there.” Belimir starts walking toward the keep entrance.

Eager to unleash the dark power raging inside him, Arden follows Belimir to the keep entrance. “I hope to get a little more involved this time, not being trapped in a crypt and all.”

Wilam falls in behind the other two. “It might be in our best interest to remove the threat at hand before going about the delicate and time consuming task of mapping.”

“I not be givin a speck of dung when da mappin gets done, jus as long as it be gettin done. I be reckenin dat I be agreein dat after we clear da place ov baddies den we can dos da mappin, makes fer a bad map when da first mapper dies and a second finishes da map… a’ight we clear it first… but I ain’t no mapper. But sombody needs ta be doin da mappin.”

Varro takes back up the lead position in the party, and enters the keep area.

Arden nods at the dwarf’s comments, “Again, I didn’t see large parchments or quills within the supplied provisions…. so unless someone has supplies to map, we may have to go back to town before we get to that.”

“Knowin Wilam and his sesitivities he is likely goin ta wanta go back ta town each moment he gets tired … he be a bit ov a ….” Looks to make sure Wilam isn’t listening “a bit ov a girlie lich”

Arden snickers at Varro’s grumblings… This is quite the entertaining group. At least I know I won’t be bored to death…. but there are still a million other ways to die in here I’m sure….

Wilam remains oblivious to Varro’s comments.

Francis follows behind Arden “This is assuming the cultists haven’t already made a map of their own. I’m with Wilam on eliminating the threat and then mapping a less dangerous keep.”

“I can fricken draw a little,” Ehud sighs. “Need drawing crap from town, though. Let’s do after the bleeding, eh?”

“A’ight … after da place be clear …den ya do da mappin.”

Varro steps over a bit of timber left in the path, points at it so the others don’t trip over it

“So ya would figger der be guards or sumting. We be damn near on da front porch and nuttin.”

Varro keeps looking for some sign of life, or a trap.

The stairway leading down consists of finely crafted stone, perhaps the work of dwarves. A breeze chills you to the bones as you take each step down. The flicker of torchlight spills from a room at the bottom of the stairs.

Francis pulls out his shield and handaxe. He motions for others to be silent.

Pulling out his axe and shield, the metal head of the axe bangs against the shield hard, ringing out through the stairway down.

Varro raises his stubby sausage-like finger to his lips as he looks at Francis
QUIET!” belly laugh

Varro leads the group down the stairs, about 20 ft from the bottom he motions for Jiles to take the lead and check it out.

As the party moves cautiously down the stairs, the room below comes into view. They see a room with several pillars in the center of the room. Torches line the walls every so often, lighting the room in bright light.

Across the way from the stairs a filth covered goblin can be seen, lazily guarding the entryway into the keep. He doesn’t seem to enjoy his job and hasn’t noticed anyone coming down the stairs yet.

Belimir tries to slip behind the columns unnoticed, sniffing the air around him. A goblin. I`ll catch you little man and then I`m gonna……..I`m not gonna eat you, but maybe you know something……….. He changes his shape into a white panther, but while doing so, he lost his balance on the stairway and went tumbling down. Ouch.

Varro tries to catch his friend, and avoid giving away their position.

“Hmm I be thinkin dat dez fellers are tryin fer a fight … well I be ok wit dat … but lets be seein if we can ease up on dis ugly.”

Varro watches the goblin to see if he notices Belimir’s botched attempt at stealth, axe at the ready.

Not seeing any immediate reaction from the goblin,Varro eases into the room and awaits the others to advance.

In a bit of a daze as he readies his crossbows, Jiles slips into the shadows, but awaits Belimir. He peers into the room, watching carefully for any other movement and listening for any footfalls.

Francis moves down to the end of the stairs.

As the party makes their way to the bottom of the stairs, the white panther slips down a few steps, causing a bit of noise.

The goblin across the room looks up, a stupid grin crossing his face.

He stands up and begins waving at the party. He hops up and down, hooting and hollaring, waving his arms at the party, trying to get their attention.

Belimir moves forward across the room, past a pillar. He takes one step past the first pillar in the room and the floor suddenly gives way!

He crashes down into a pit trap, landing hard on the stone bottom.

The instant he lands in the pit a swarm of hungry rats fall over him, covering his entire prone body, biting and nipping at his exposed white fur.

More torches light up in the hallway to the south and east of the main room.

As the trap opens and Belimir crashes down to the bottom, Arden moves up with the others, opposite of Varro. “Well no point in being quiet and trying to hide…”
He points his Accurate Rod at the Goblin and curses him, “Into Death!” before unleashing a bolt of dark energy on the creature.

The cursed creature falls from the bolt of energy and as his soul escapes his body, vitality flows into Arden.

Wilam hears the crashing floor. What is going on down there?! He moves down the stairs behind Arden and sees the peculiar scene… A plume of dust and a goblin dancing crazily in the back of the room. Wilam realizes the setup and curses under his breath, All too eager to jump into the fray. He’ll learn soon enough.

As the torchlight behind the goblin illuminates, Wilam anticipates a raiding party and conjures a storm of electrical energy near the goblin.

That should keep them at bay…

Varro continues to move along the western side of the pit, careful not to fall in. He takes a quick look down the western passage and seeing no immediate threats, he swings around the south-western corner of the pit to lay a wicked strike on the distracted Goblin. He comes in quick with his axe at the ready and strikes hard to the creatures mid-section. He steadies his stance to prepare for a good fight.

Looking at the rats, Belimir tries to evaluate his options. Fight them or flee? He tries to remember the stuff he knows about rat swarms.

Belimir remembers that rat swarms are difficult to get away from when you are within reach of the rodents. They eat anything they can find, and can easily chew through solid steel if given the chance.

Better make this quick then.

Deciding he has better chances while fighting. Finding new strength, the panther quickly stands up and roars at the rat swarm. He sinks both his fangs in the rats, then quickly jumps out of the pit. Once out, he changes back to his human shape, and moves behind the pilar, breathing heavily, but a smile evident on his face. I made it out!

Ehud moves down the stairs and heads opposite Varro.
Then he calls down radiant vengeance on the rat swarm.
Jiles quickly but silently moves into the fray, attempting to gain a vantage point over the rat swarm below.

After loosing a bolt into the rat swarm, Jiles reloads the crossbow with his one hand and prepares for another shot.

Jiles then takes a good look around the pillar to make sure no more goblins are on their way.

The rats in the pit snip and bite at Belimir as he continues to crawl on the floor. Luckily for the injured elf, none of the bites are serious.

The Goblin across the pit stops waving his hands when Belimir falls into the pit, having done his job. He then begins to move backward down the hall where the torches lit up just a moment before.

Varro, making his way around the pit, checks quickly down the western passage. Noting no pressing threat down to the left, he continues to move on around the broken floor. His growl challenges the goblin as he moves in to strike.

With a wicked strike, Varro cleaves a deep gash into the backside of the goblin, the goblin runs away for the deadly dwarf, blood trailing down the floor as he moves on down the hall.

Arden moves down the stairs and carefully makes his way around the pit. Aiming his rod at the goblin he curses him with an infernal chant, then lets loose a bolt of eldritch energy at the filthy thing. The dark energy blasts the goblin, it’s meager soul escaping from its body.

Wilam makes his way down the stairs to check out the commotion. Seeing enemies in the first room of the keep and the torches light up, Wilam acts quickly setting up a defense for the group.
Wilam summons a pillar of thunder and lightning to block any advances from the southern passage.

Francis, seeing his allies having the goblin handled, picks his footing carefully around the pit. Standing behind the storm pillar.

Belimir sizes up the swarm of rats as he stands to his feet, taking a deep breath, centering himself. He then darts forward, jaws snapping at any rodent he can catch in his fangs, then darts into the air, bounding from wall to wall, escaping the pit.

Ehud leaps down the stairs, unleashing radiant vengeance on the rat swarm as he makes his way around the pit.
The holy light sears the rats as it hits them.

Jiles quickly and silently moves down the stairs and hides behind a pillar near the pit. He lets fire a crossbow bolt at the swarm of rats, thinning their numbers even further.

Varro not being satisfied by the lone goblin falling in battle rushes past Wilam’s pillar to the chamber to the south.

Once there he again calls down radiant vengeance upon the rat swarm.

Still breathing heavily, Belimir raises his staff and calls forth the element of water to drown the nasty vermin. “कूड़े को नाश राष्ट्रों” A torent of water starts filling the pit.

Jiles moves quickly around the pillar and past his allies, leaving the rat swarm in their capable hands, now that Belimir is safely out of the pit. He shifts to the corner of the wall opposite Ehud, and listens intently, scanning for any signs of an incoming threat.

After the goblin falls, Arden follows the others to the southern room where the goblin was fleeing. There must be some sort of ambush awaiting us if they had this place so cleverly trapped.

Suddenly noticing how dark the room is, Wilam casts Light on his tome. The pages glow with bright light, as if on fire, but they are not consumed. Mind the pit.

With the light of the tome guiding his way, Wilam moves around the edge of the pit to press forward with the group.

Catching the lights of the torches as he passed the eastern path, Wilam doubles back to block that entrance with another crackling ball of energy. We can’t allow ourselves to be flanked. “Θύελλα Πυλώνας, guard our flank.”

Brann has been deep in meditation while trying to sense the ancient auras around the keep.

The sounds of battle have wakened him from his deep inner focus. He looks around and sees his comrades have already dispatched some foes.

Oh my, I can’t believe I became so oblivious to my surroundings. I must not let my curious instincts distract me from my real obligations to defend and protect my companions.

Seeing the obviously injured Belemir infront of him he shouts over at him, “Hold on, this should ease your pain my friend” and channels some of the his divine light into his companions body.

I need to get a better view of the battle to see what else I’ve missed.

Brann rushes inside and to the edge of the room and looks over trying to get a sense of the battle.

Varro moves past the pillar of storm and presses on further south. Axe at the ready.

Ehud moves his position and calls the radiant vengeance down again upon the rats.

Francis moves again deeper into the room, keeping his eyes peeled for anything interesting.

Belimir clicks open the cap to his waterskin, and out rushes a Torrent of water. It fills the pit, effectively drowning the rat swarm, not a single rodent makes it out alive.

Meanwhile, Brann works his holy magic on Belimir, closing some of his wounds, patching the deep bites from the filthy vermin.

Jiles moves cautiously around the room, sliding into the shadows, senses at their peak listening for any signs of activity around them.

Arden, following the others to the room below, ready to deal with any sort of ambush waiting for them. He pushes past Francis as he rounds the corner.

Wilam moves as close to the corner of the hallway as he can, Ehud blocking his way. He is now guarded in the corner by Ehud and the stealthy rogue Jiles.

Making sure the group isn’t flanked, Wilam resummons his Storm Pillar to block the hallway traveling East of their position.

Brann continues healing Belimir, then moves into the room to gain a better view on the action.

As the group enters the southern room, two more goblins jump in surprise, obviously unaware of the threat not reported by their companion.

Even in their surprise, the goblins take aim and fire a volley of crossbow quarrels at the three heroes who made their way into the room.

The bolts strike true, dealing some damage to Francis and Arden.

A cry can be heard from the east, through the doorway nearest to Arden.

A goblin warrior rushes to the door, weapon at the ready, standing defensively in the doorway.

Not liking the look that Hognose is giving the trio, Varro makes a Dwarven curse at the Goblin and Charges past Buttface and attacks Hognose.

“Whatdahell ya be lookin at ya, tentacled milk-drinkin thumb-basher?”

Jiles curses silently as he hears the goblins yell out, followed by Varro. He moves as quickly as he can while maintaining stealth. He then shoots from behind the cover of the wall at the skirmisher, appearing for an instant before ducking behind cover to become once again concealed.

Jiles shifts back further down the hall, then returns to hiding behind the cover of the wall and reloading his crossbow.

Seeing his companions charging south, Brann is once again finding himself falling behind the battle.

“Oi you lot, a bit of thought to those of us without those unsightly long limbs of yours!”

In an attempt to get back into a useful position for his companions, he throws out all thoughts of stealth and defense and sprints full speed towards the battle.

“Right, here we are, whats going on with all these goblins then?” Brann takes a look and sees a goblin in front of the party and shoots a bolt of divine light toward it. He notices Francis has taken a small wound and channels the healing energies back to him.

After drowning the rat swarm, Bleimir hears the shouting in the room up ahead. He wastes no time and goes into the room.

We have them out-numbered, it seems. Wilam doubts if there will be any trouble at all in the next room so sets to continue guarding the flank. He creates a new energy pillar just behind the last one and turns the corner into the hallway.

As Varro sets to work on the first Goblin, Arden focuses on the second ugly creature. Grinning with blood thirst, he points and shouts at the Goblin, cursing him, and then rushes forward to the melee. He points in the Goblins’ direction and shouts words of Arcane power, unleashing booming thunder at both foes.

Varro curses at a goblin, charging Hognose with his greataxe.

Quickstepping past the first goblin, the filthy creature gets a lucky swing at the dwarf, but doesnt come close to hitting him.

Hognose, as he has thus far been named, swings at Varro with it’s shortsword, scoring a solid blow on the dwarf.

Varro crashes down with his greataxe, swinging at both goblins as he charges forward. Axe cutting deep into green goblin skin as he continues his charge.

Jiles stealthily moves around his companions so he has a clear shot around the corner at the goblins who made themselves so audibly known.

Popping out from cover, Jiles fires his crossbows at ‘Buttface’ and sinks back into the shadows of the corner.

Brann, realizing he is falling behind a bit, dashes off through the room, past the pit, down the hallway.

He stops short, seeing the goblins, and warms the room with a Sacred Flame, burning the goblins and comforting his allies.

Unfortunately, the goblins barely seem to notice the prayers of the dwarf.

Belimir races down the hall and leaps into the room, ready for action.

Wilam refreshes his Storm Pillar, still blocking the eastern hallway, and moves around the corner.

Arden grins evilly at the goblins, sharing an infernal curse on ‘Buttface’ he moves into melee range, disappearing into the shadows of the lit torches and appearing in front of the pair of Greenskins, unleashing a Clarion’s Call onto the both of them.

The so-called ‘Buttface’ grabs its ears in protest, unable to escape the thunderous power of the spell.

Francis aknowledges the threat through the doorway, challenges the newcomer and move into the open doorway, handaxe leading the way.

Two brilliant swipes strike the goblin warrior, causing holy, radiant damage to the greenskin.

The two goblins, Buttface and Hognose move away from the dwarf and warlock as they try to escape the obviously dangerous room.

Taking nasty hits from both Varro and Arden, they make it to the corner of the stairs leading down to the next room.

They both let crossbow bolts fly, impressively accurate for rugged goblins. Both bolts finding their mark.

The goblin warrior, not one to turn down a fight, steps up to Francis, both combatants coming eye to eye with one another.

The goblin thrusts out with his spear, scoring a hit on the paladin.

Varro chases after the wounded goblin that he has deemed Hognose.

With a powerful swing of his axe he slices thru his target and hits the other goblin.

Wilam wonders if his protective actions on the party’s flank is even worth it. Still waiting for a goblin to attempt to move through his static field, he shouts over his shoulder to the rest of the group, “How are you faring in there? It’s silent at the rear.”

Due to all the sounds of battle (and Varro’s own battlecrys and belly laughs) in the southern room, Varro can’t hear Wilam’s question.

Unphased by the Goblin Warrior’s strike, Francis smiles and strikes him again.

“It’s a bit more active up here!” he says back to Wilam.

Through the excitement, Wilam yells at Ehud, “I can hold the rear, go up and help the others!”

Jiles, once again, peers from around the corner leveling his crossbow and firing, this time at the goblin skirmisher because he is easier to see.

Shifting quickly and slinking back into the shadows, Jiles moves to his left and reloads his crossbow.

Seeing another combatant near Francis, Jiles shifts his aim, firing another bolt in that direction in an attempt to find the goblin warrior.

Hearing Varro merrily hacking away at the goblins Brann turns his attention to the others. He sees Francis move out of sight ahead of him and hears him entering combat with another opponent.

“Any idea how many of them are around?” Brann shouts out at his companions ahead as he assumes a better location to assist.

As he moves into the chamber he attempts to aid Francis by blasting his opponent with divine light and bolstering Francis.

Arden shouts into the other room “Three Goblins in here!” He moves closer to the melee between the two Goblins and Varro, cursing the other Goblin and unleashing a Chaos Bolt on the bloodied creature. “Die you wretched beasts!” His eyes flash with anger as the dark powers flow through him.

“Only three Goblins? I guess Varro is getting a bit slow in his old age. Good thing the rest of you guys are around to give him a hand.”

They should be fine if there’s only three goblins, Wilam makes a quick mental check… three goblins, four of us. I’ll keep this hall closed.

Wilam peaks back around the corner and sees no activity. He says a quick word of dismissal and re-conjures a fresh pillar of energy in it’s place.

Belimir moves closer to the two goblins and lifts his staff, calling another rush of water to drown the green creatures.

Ehud finally manages to shake off his hang over enough to move.

Varro chases after the goblins, not wanting them to escape down the stairs.

The warrior cleaves through both goblins on the stairs, missing the monsters and slamming his axe heavily into the wall, chunks of brick flying everywhere.

Battle cries and the sound of battle ensue through the rooms.

Jiles peeks out from the corner firing his crossbow from his hidden position at one of the skirmishers.

The bolt sinks deep into the goblin, dropping the greenskin to the floor, tumbling down several steps before coming to rest.

Sliding back into the shadows, Jiles sidesteps and fires another bolt at the remaining sharpshooter.
This bolt deflecting off of the floor next to Varro, missing the goblin.

Brann, trying to gather information about the numbers they faced, moves into the southern room, covering a goblin warrior in sacred flames, burning its skin.

Arden unleashes his dark power upon the remaining sharpshooter, a bolt of black and purple chaos flies free of his body. The cursed goblin, some how, dodges the wild magic bolt.

Dismissing his old Storm Pillar, Wilam summons another thundering column of lightning to block the passage of any foes from the eastern room.

Belimir, lifting his staff, brings forth another wave of torrential water to crash into the goblin on the stairs. The incredible amount of water consumes the creature, drowning it almost instantly, smashing its wretched body against the walls and ceiling of the stairway.

Ehud shakes off his stuppor and takes off running up the passage to the North-West alone.

As Jile’s bolt tears through the Goblin, the cursed being releases vitality which flows into Arden.

The goblin warrior, hearing the rushing waves and the screams of it’s companions, takes off running back through the storeroom.

Francis, seeing his chance, makes a quick swipe with his weapon, stinging the goblin in the back of the legs.

Through his teeth, Francis says, “By Oghma, you’re not getting away!”

Hearing the paladin attacking the final goblin and eager to make up for his earlier lapse in concentration Brann charges past his companion after the last goblin.

“You’ll not escape our wrath, filthy wretch”, and resolutely calls forth the light of Moradin on the goblin.

Arden hears Brann and Varro give chase to the cowardly Goblin and almost pauses to rest for a moment. Then he remembers Varro aggravated assault on the wall, and his own Arcane failure and quickly decides to follow suit. “Don’t let it wake the entire place!”

What is going on back there?! And must they be so… vociferous?

Wilam decides the threat from the rear is gone and abandons his post to join the others.

“What is going on in here that we must awake the entire keep to our presence? One dead goblin?” Wilam looks at Varro and Belimir sternly.

Jiles curses as his bolt misses, and moves quickly to attempt to intercept the running goblin.

From around the corner, hiding nicely in the shadows, he squints and takes quick aim at his prey. Find the slimey creature’s head!

Pausing only a moment, Jiles reloads his crossbow.

Ehud continues to move through the northern hallway.

Varro scoffs at Wilam’s comment.

Hearing the shouts of Francis and Brann, making the assumption that there is an enemy combatant on the run, and using what he saw earlier of the northern room and the other passages out of it, he quickly determines an intercept route. Varro makes a dead sprint past the “Johnny-come-lately” wizard, trying to cut off the Goblins escape.

Wilam raises a hand to say something but is cut off by the dwarf’s wild sprint out of the room. He’s left standing, mouth open and finger raised… astonishing.

Curious at what lies ahead, Belimir wild shapes into a panther and stealthily approaches the staircase, stepping over the dead goblins.

Belimir moves to slowly open the door and take a peak at what`s behind them.

Francis, moving quickly to close the distance with the running goblin, draws strength from Oghma, and throws his handaxe, only to whiff as the goblin continues to move forward.

Brann, acting as with brilliant heroism, moves in past the paladin, calling forth the light of Moradin onto the escaping goblin.

A holy aura passes over the greenskin, causing minor pains across its body.

Arden slips into the Shadow-World as he moves quickly after the rest of the group, giving chase to the goblin.

Wilam finally decides to enter the southern room with the rest of the party. Very surprised to see only one dead goblin in the room, the group races past him towards the east. A curious expression on his face as they do.

Jiles tries his best to stealthily move into the room to the east, stalking the goblin warrior. As he is loading his crossbow, he bumps into Brann, giving his location away. The goblin warrior glances back and looks directly at the rogue.

Jiles fires off his crossbow, hitting the goblin causing damage, even if it was not surprised.

Varro, not wanting to miss any of the action, takes off running, pumping his short legs as fast as he can.

Belimir changes form into a panther and quietly approaches the doors blocking passage to the west. He silently nudges the doors open to see…..nothing. There are stairs leading down into pure darkness. A bitter cold air travels up from the stairway, a feeling of dread fast on its tail.

The goblin warrior rushes past a heavy curtain blocking the passage north.

Varro watches as the runt greenskin slips and skids around the corner and quickly bolts through the closed door to the west. Slamming the door shut behind it.

Ehud can see bright light coming from the room to the north.

The panther closes the door as if nothing happened. He looks around to see where everybody is. With a heavy sigh he rushes to help the others deal with the running goblin.

Francis moves, picking up his handaxe on the way. When he passes the curtain, he sees Varro and Belimir to his left and the closed door to his right. Varro, Belimir, closed door. Varro, Belimir, closed door. He hesitates, and looks at Varro.
“You didn’t…eat him, did you?”

The panther licks his lips, a smile evident on his face. A second later, a loud belch escapes his mouth. He changes back into his elven form, smiling at the halfling. “God no. They`re gross. All that filth! It can make you constipated for weeks. What happened Varro? I thought dwarves ran faster than those green turtles.” Belimir tries to tease the dwarf.

Francis points to Varro. “I was talking to him. Good to know, I suppose.”
Varro with one hand on his chest and bent over from such a run points his axe at the closed door.

Wilam moves to join the group. He remains silent and scans the room.

Old rotten crates and boxes fill the store room. Nothing of interest is in this room of the Keep. A heavy curtain hangs in the hallway leading north.

Arden runs through the curtain as he hears the door slam. “Damn!….. where is Ehud? We should move together… we may be walking right into another trap at this point.” He scans the room, curious where the wild one ran off to.

Huffing and puffing a bit after his mad dashing around Brann catches up with the others.

“More beer and maybe some lamb shank would be good. All this running around is making me hungry.”

He takes a look around and takes a guess, “I’m guessing you didn’t have time to strip the goblin of all his gear and stick him into a cupboard yet. Well at least we won’t have an easy fight now everyone in this keep is going to know we’re coming”

“Didn’t Kalarel’s letter to the elfess say he’d be on the second level of the keep? We should look for stairs going up… Somebody should also remember the pass phrase. Something about dirt and magic?” asks Francis.

Wilam comments, “Judging by the condition of the exterior, I wouldn’t figure there to be a second level up. We’ll probably have better luck going down.”

Regaining his breath, Varro moves to the door to check to see if it is locked.

The door is not locked and the handle turns easily with little effort.

“Da bugger went dis way”

Varro opens the door and assumes a defencive stance.

Varro heads down the stairs and motions for the others to follow.

“Lets be gettin dis witless lilly-livered fossil”

The room through the doorway is obviously brightly lit after the short stairway. The sound of picks on stone can be heard echoing up from the room.

“Ere ya green piggy, whered ya go green piggy”
Varro continues down the stairs and takes a look around.

Francis follows closely behind.

Arden looks to the other three standing in the hallway and shrugs. “Well down it is I guess… I assume the others will follow?” He moves after Varro, staying a good five to ten feet behind the Dwarf.

Jiles moves through the store room, past the curtain and to the others. Seeing the group moving down the stairway, he follows with his crossbows ready. He takes up position near Arden, though in front of him, moving quietly and watching closely.

“Last I saw Ehud, he was in the room with the pit, but I didn’t see where he went in all the comotion.” Wilam begins to worry, in the back of his mind, about Ehud’s safety. In the name of Morale, he decides to put it aside and remains positive, “I’m sure we’d hear him if he was in any sort of trouble.”
Wilam joins the group and stays near the rear. He does his best to remain silent.

Flaming hate goblins. Just then Ehud notices Varros booming voice growing fainter. Here piggy? No, that can’t be right. But then again… Ehud sighs, backs up carefully and then hurries to meet his companions.

Many of the party members exit together through the doorway to the East.

Realizing everybody else left the room through the door, Belimir is quick to follow.

Well, this should be interesting at least. Lets see if we can find the source of all the evil that’s been plaguing Winterhaven and put an end to it.

Brann follows the others through the door to the east.

View
Episode 10: After the interlude

Wilam is exhausted. He takes a deep breath and steadies himself but the world before him is starting to spin. He fumbles his way to the nearest headstone and sits on it. The dead are twice-dead now… surely no creature or spirit remains to lay claim to these grave markers.

Varro looking at the skull wedged to the blade of his Greataxe:
“ahhhh, ya going ta be a gud puppy now aren’t …oh yes you are …ya good boy now … yessss ya are…” ,tilting his head like listening to the skull, “wut was dat… ya want an ale …well I be thinkin dat be a fine Idea .. just gots ta be dealin wit dat bitch master ov yers …den I be takin ya ta a nice place and I be seein abouts an ale or three.”

“ahhhh, ya going ta be a gud puppy now aren’t …oh yes you are …ya good boy now … yessss ya are…”

Jiles, seeing the action complete, makes his way out of the crypt to the group. “It’s about time.” With a sly grin, Jiles winks. He leans over, examining the elven woman in detail. “Where’s my stuff!?”

The elf woman raises a hand, pointing to the southern-most crypt. She can not keep her arm raised for long, as her weakness is setting in.

With an angry growl, Jiles moves over to the southern crypt. “Fool woman… talking with the undead can only lead to you joining their ranks.” Jiles enters the southern crypt, searching around for his things.

Arden follows Jiles to the southern crypt and searches for his equipment as well. “I wonder how many townspeople they have turned to zombies and skeletons already… surely the town is much safer now. I really hope these people don’t spare that bitch’s life.”

Arden and Jiles find their belongings laying in a pile just inside the doorway to the crypt.

Muffled voices can be heard coming from somewhere nearby in the graveyard.

Arden gathers his belongings and moves back out to the others gathered in the graveyard.

Brann looks around to ensure nobody is still in dire straits. Seeing nothing too amiss he relaxes and focuses on his on recovery for a moment.

Seeing the prisoners emerging he shouts out, “Are you injured?” as his experienced healer’s eye wanders over them.

The prisoners do not look to be overly hurt or damaged in any way.

He wanders over to Varro, “Well done Varro, I see you’ve made a new friend. Shame he isn’t as handsome as you, quietly adding just about.” and adds a smile and wink, the tension of the battle draining from him.

Belly Laugh "I be bettin he don’t drink as much ither, but we be findin out soon enuf Belly Laugh

Holding his axe out towards the elfess so the skull is in her face "now ya be tellin sir Wilam all dat he be wantin ta knows or I havt ta come back and bite ya Belly Laugh

The elf cringes at the threat from the growling dwarf.

Ehud laughs.

Wilam watches the poor elf girl and considers the situation. If you could only ask one question, what would it be? He knows almost instantly.

Wilam walks over to the girl and stands, towering over her. “Who do you work for? Who put you up to this?”

The woman looks up at Wilam, eyeing him dangerously.
“Why should I tell you? You’re just going to kill me anyways.”

Arden speaks up, feeling he has a way of convincing people.
“Surely you would like to improve your chances for survival? These are good reasonable people and could very well be convinced to spare you if you were helpful. Think of your life.”

The woman seems to have a spark of trust in her eye. “How can I trust that you won’t kill me if I tell you?”

“Ya can’t but ya can be trustin dat I be killin ya if ya don’t”

The elf glares at Varro with a dirty look. She gets overly quiet.

“If your employer is, say, hidden… perhaps we would need your assistance in contacting him. We are here on behalf of Winterhaven and simply want to bring this …” Wilam pauses for a moment and motions to the surrounding grave yard, “issue to a peaceful end.”

“Very well. If you can promise a diplomatic end, I will give you what I know. I was just … cough following what my god decreed of me. cough, cough To fulfill a prophecy….cough

“You done torturing her? Not like we can trust anything she says anyway…”

Wilam turns and looks at Ehud squarely in the eyes, "Silence yourself and leave this to me, boy. I’ll not have you undo the work I’m so carefully crafting.”

Ehud sighs. “Whatever, Lich.”

Wilam turns back to the girl and lowers himself to one knee. “What is this… prophecy?”

The elf lowers her voice, as if afraid to be heard by the very air around her.
“The rift shall be opened once more to the unyeilding glory of Orcus, Lord of the Undead. His minions shall pour forth, spreading his influence across this valley, strengthening his grasp on this domain, pulling the Shadowfell forth into the mortal realm…”

Brann hears the talk of Orcus and tries to recall anything he knows about this deity.

Brann recalls that Orcus is known as the Demon Lord of Undeath, the Demon Prince of the Undead, and the Blood Lord. He is worshipped by undead and living creatures that do not fear undeath.

“What does opening this rift have to do with capturing townsfolk and holding them in grave yards?”

“His army will be built upon the bodies of those who inhabit this valley. These villagers were just the first of many to come.”

Aside, Ehud curses, “Hoars hairy balls if we have to do this fricken stuff again…” He swallows what he was about to say getting a harsh look from Wilich.

Brann fights down a sick feeling and tries to gather some further information from their captive.

“Does Orcus have others working for him? Who else is involved in these plans to open a rift?”

Wilam pauses to consider this and his next question.

“Orcus is great and many. He commands leigons of followers and minions. His generals are creatures not even conceivable in the imagination. Kalarel, he is who you seek….cough….Shadow…fell….cough, cough….keep….”

The woman’s will is fading. She is nearing death.

On hearing the name, Wilam finds a smile crossing his lips. “I pray you find rest, elf… pray your soul never faces your god.”

He stands and leaves her as she lays, “I’m finished with her.”

Facing the others, Wilam introduces himself to the rescued men.

Arden watches Wilam question the woman as he rejoins the group. “Well met friends, and thanks for the rescue. Surely we would not have fared well on our own!” He bows his thanks and smiles at the group.

“aye, lad … well met … ya might be tellin us how it be dat ya ended up in dat crypt.” Varro asks.

Arden nods. “I had come in to town in search of a path to greater power. Met this fellow Jiles on the road to town, and then went to sleep at the inn. Next thing I know I’m kidnapped and thrown in the prison with Jiles. I have no idea why we were targeted. How did you all end up here?”

“Captain of the guard came cryin to us like a bitch. Said some stupid fricken townies were being eatin by zombies. The Lich and Werekitty got all pissed, so here we came.” says Ehud to Varro.

“so ya tellin me ya jus ended up ere fer no reason … jus bad luck ov da draw … ya didn’t be doin anyting ta provoke da ’idnappin?”

Arden shakes his head, “Not that I know of. As I said we had just arrived in town…. my guess would be that they target newcomers, as they would probably arouse less suspicion when they go missing.”

“Well, the fricken Captain was fricken aroused. Missing townies is the only real action he’s gotten in awhile, I think.” Ehud spits, Hate fricken law men. “What power you trying to find?”

“Wut kinda skills ya got ta be findin power wit, ya gots any fightin skills we should know about, well besides the whole knees thing and the can’t be findin ya way out of a shoddy crypt wit out help thing?” Belly Laugh

Varro looks to the skull on his axe "Stuck in der he was … can ya fathum dat?” Belly Laugh

Ehud laughs along with Varro. “Maybe, he’s looking for the power of a good shovel and a pick. Fricken saw maybe.”

“I’m Wilam of Waterdeep. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he extends a hand to Jiles and Arlen. “I didn’t catch your names.”

Arden shakes Wilam’s hand. “My name is Arden, pleasure to meet all of you. I study the Arcane and this is the power I seek. As for fighting skills, you can count on my dark powers to bring pain to those who deserve it. It seems to me that Orcus may be able to help me in my quest for power, by allowing me to thin his ranks and destroy his evil. I would join you if that is your path.” Arden steps back, surveying the group, measuring their prowess.

“We can use all the help we can find. And someone who understands the Arcane arts would be a welcome companion.” says Wilam.

“I be sayin dat we take her back ta town and let da captian have her …wut ya say?” Varro chimes in.

“She’ll be dead by then. Time to put out the lights,” Ehud quickly and mercifully slits her throat. Then proceeds to mess her body up so she can’t be ressurected or raised as undead. “Damn messy business disposing of Orcus lovers, but it’s gotta be done. Now if only we had a whole lot of holy water, we could cut her into pieces, fill the pieces with holy water and feed them to the zombies we’re sure to encounter in Shadowkeep. I seen it done once. Kaboom! Fricken zombie head exploded.”

“The trick,” Francis says, grabbing the still-warm body, “is to shatter or separate the bones from each other.” He puts one foot on the torso and yanks one of the legs.

The bone pops out of socket with a loud Pop!

“Oh, like this?” Ehud tries the Francis method with the other leg.

“Quite, quite.” Francis takes the disembodied leg and drops it on the ground. He then strikes it several times with his warhammer. Splat. Splat. Crunch. Crunch.

“Burning at least some of it may also be desirable.”

“You ok, halfman Francis,” Ehud says enthusasticly patting Francis on the back. “We gonna get fricken drunk tonight, eh?”

“I’m afraid it would be a quite futile gesture,” Francis says, wiping off the edge of his hammer and finally picking up his thrown handaxe. “The instant alcohol touches my lips, it turns to water.”

“Damn friend-halfman-Francis. That sucks.” Ehud thinks for a second, “But, hey, you know, if we were shipwrecked and all we had were spirits. You could save us all by running them through your mouth.”

“Let us hope it never comes to that.”

“Hey lemme show you my trick,” Ehud says. "Take a coin and put an X on one side. Here, you can use one of mine.”

“Okay.” Francis takes the coin and marks one side.

“Don’t let me see what side you put it on, now. Ok, on the count of three you toss the coin and I’ll do a back flip over it as it turns. When I land, I’ll tell you what side it was on. Ok? Let’s go. ONE! TWO! THREE!"

Francis tosses the coin and Ehud does a backflip over it.

Ehud wobbles a bit on landing but tells Francis what side of the coin he put the X on.

With an astounding feat of acrobatics, Ehud does a standing backflip, clearing the coin in the air, sticking the landing on his feet as if the act were a trivial thing.
He promptly turns to Francis and tells him the side of the coin the mark was on.

“Impressive. I’m sure if we were shipwrecked with dozens of marked coins, you could entertain us for hours with that trick.”

“Damn straight. And don’t you forget it.”

Arden stands observing the brutal nature of the party. He feels the darkness welling up within him and has to turn away, briefly, to gather his thoughts. ‘I am not evil. I do not like hurting people. I only hurt those who deserve it…. by why does the darkness feel so….. empowering….’

“Well… I think it’s about time we had a real look at that… circle there. Any ideas, Arden?” Wilam heads over to the glowing ground and considers it carefully. “There must be some way to deactivate or dispurse it’s energy.”

Upon taking a closer look at the glowing ring, Wilam realizes it is a simple summoning circle of magic. Disrupting the lines will end the flow of magic and would have destroyed the undead in the graveyard.

Arden smiles at his fellow companion of the arts, happy to focus on something other than tearing a corpse apart. “Let’s see…” Arden moves to the circle and examines it with Wilam.

“I think if we just… Hmmm…” Wilam takes a closer look at the runic lines. "Yes, this is a basic enough summoning circle… probably what was empowering the undead creatures. Disrupting it should be simple. If only we had a shovel…”

“Varro!” Wilam calls over his shoulder to the dwarf. “You’ve been looking to replace that axe, right? What do you say to using it to overturn the ground here?”

“A’ight, I be right der”
Not be findin any fun in tearin da elfess ta pieces, guess I be leavin dat ta da half-pint

Varro wanders over to the circle with Wilam and the new guy, Arden. to help with the disposal of the circle.

Varro holding his greataxe in his off hand pulls the Waraxe from his belt and hands the monsterous axe to Wilam.

“Der ya go, get ta diggen.”

Looking back to the skull still wedged on his Greataxe, Varro continues to talk to the skull as if it his new pet.

“Dats a good boy, ya jus be sittin waitin patient like, don’t ya worry now we be gettin a good mead soon. Dats a good boy”

After gathering his belongings, and carefully tucking away all of his various weapons, Jiles walks to the group. Turning to Wilam, he nods his head, "I am Jiles. Well met, and thank you for coming to take care of this crazy woman.”

“Aye, well met indeed. I be Varro, dis be Wilich …I mean Wilam, Our Lich… I mean Our Finger Waggler.” Varro nods towards the skull wedged on his axe “and dis be Bozy boo, me new friend.” Looking back to Jiles he asks “So ya be tellin me Jiles wut be your skills, ya a darky like ya friend or ya someting else?” Varro impatiently awaits an answer, while still holding out the Heavy Waraxe to Wilam.

Wilam ignores the weapon and rolls his eyes at Jiles as Varro stumbles through the introduction.

With a light chuckle, Jiles pushes out his cloak slightly as he dips his head, causing the cloak to open briefly, revealing crossbows and shurikens lining the insides. “I prefer more direct means of dealing with trouble. Although not too direct.” Jiles winks. With a quick, brief motion, both of Jiles’ hands are armed with loaded hand-crossbows, one of which looks quite intricate. He looks down at his weapons with some affection. Ah, I’ve missed you my friends. With an equally quick and adept motion, the crossbows disappear beneath the cloak.

“A’ight … I gotcha … Der be Darky and Sneaky … gud enuf”
“What’s with your elven friend? Why did he just run off?" Jiles looks over his shoulder, jerking his thumb in the direction the elf ran.

“Oh dat Belimir be loonier den a slant head in da summer sun… no tellin wut he be up ta … he might ov got hungry …beats me …he be back when we be needin him dough. Don’t ya be frettin none about dat.”

Watching the party dismember the elf, Jiles squints and looks past the southern crypt at the surrounding area. I could have sworn I heard something… He moves off in that direction, scanning the area and listening intently.

He slips quietly into the shadows, heading towards the voices.

The muffled sound of someone gagged seems to be coming from the northern crypt.

Varro calls back to Francis “Ya get done wit dat body, ya not be fergettin ya throwing weapon dat be over der.” Varro motions towards the weapon.

“Varro, I have no intention of lifting your axe… not unless you wish this process to take a week. And you won’t be going back to the tavern until this job’s finished,” Wilam is stern but there’s a hint of good humor in his tone. “Come now, the ground is soft and it won’t take but a few good overturnings to break the runes.”

“Uh-oh Varro, Mommy Lich is pissed at you,” Ehud winks. “Best get to work.”

“I be sorry, Lad … I be thinkin ya would want ta do da breakin ov da majik runes… Hold on, let me put Bozy where he not be gettin in ta mischift.”

Varro leans his Dwarven-made Greataxe with the skull wedged on the blade against the crypt and with two hands he gets to work turning the ground upon which the ruins are crafted. Caring little for the Waraxe of questionable origins, Varro makes quick work of the project.

“Der ya be … gud enuf?”

The glowing runes come to a halt with the disruption of the magic circle. The gross stench and sickly feeling subside, returning the cemetery to a place of mournful worship and remembrance.

“Thank you, Varro. That will be sufficient.” Wilam gets the urge to offer an explanation of various summoning circles and how they may be disabled, “This was a simple summoning circle and constructing it on a disruptable surface makes it very easy to disable. More complicated Runes may be warded with magic and even when constructed on sand, they’re impossible to disrupt without a ritual process…” Wilam catches himself and notices nobody is listening.

He continues to mumble to himself. Nobody appreciates the finer arts these days. It’s lost on the youth. One day, it will save them… but do they listen? To the Depths with them, I say. Let the weak minded fools walk blindly into their doom. Wilam finds himself scowling as he stares blankly into the place where the runes were recently laid.

Turning to Wilam, Ehud asks, “We really goin back to the drink hole after this or are we gonna end more Orcus lovers? I gots some death left in me.”

“Judging by the sun, we have plenty of time to at least make the journey to the old keep… what did she call it… Shadow… Shadowfel Keep. Yes, that was it. But I don’t think it would be unreasonable to bring proof of our work here to Lord Padraig, first. I’m sure we could convince him to pay for our work.”

“Well it be needin more, der be me udder axe fer ya”

Varro cleans the soil from the axe and returns it to his belt.

“Won’t the freed prisoners be evidence enough?” Ehud sighs, “Sides, law men don’t pay for what they think everyone should do. They stupid like that. Fricken guards and lords and captains. Can’t kill em either. Can kill Orcus lovers, though.”

“Of course they will,” Wilam patiently explained, “But Lord Padraig never offered a reward… there was no time to discuss it beforehand. Winterhaven is on the way to the keep anyhow. We’ll stop to let them know the present threat has been eliminated. We have great leverage in this situation, you know… We know more about the greater threat than anyone else. Used properly, knowledge is the ultimate power in the universe.”

Calling back to Francis, Wilam questions, “Francis, did you search the elf’s corpse for a key or correspondence of any kind?”

“I thought…, hmm. Rather, I… No.” He searches the dead elf’s pockets…and her dismembered legs

Varro pockets the coins.

“wutdahell is dis” Varro holds up the rolled sheet of Vellum.

Unrolling the sheet of velum there is written in delicate handwriting is the following message:

“I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings in the envelope. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply you with a force to thwart them.

I’m very close to completion; see that I’m not interrupted. As you already know, if you do come to the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is “From the ground, some magic was found.”

- Kalarel

At the entrance to the northern crypt, Jiles retrieves his crossbow from beneath his cloak and loads it, somewhat cautious. He peers into the crypt from around the corner of the entrance, making sure there isn’t a threat. After seeing the gagged individual, Jiles calls out, “We got another live one over here!” With that, he waits for the others, holding his crossbows loaded at the ready.

Francis follows Jiles to the northern crypt. “Is this another Winterhavian.. Winterhavenite… Individual from the town?”

Gesturing with his crossbow, the point of a bolt glinting in the light, “Why don’t you go have a closer look. I’ll keep my sights on whoever it is. This may just be a ruse.”

The wind picks up momentarily, throwing some dust into the air. Jiles’ hand remains unwavering as he aims his crossbow at the captive. Squinting through the blowing dust, Jiles tries to remember if he has seen the person before.

Francis gently presses Jiles’s hand, the one holding the crossbow, to the side "Unless you see through the point of an arrow, I don’t believe it will be necessary to point, as such, to someone tied up. We’ve had plenty of violence here already. No need for more.”

Inside the northern crypt lay more prisoners, bound and gagged similiarly to how Jiles and Arden were bound. These must be all of the missing villagers! Also, judging by the condition of the undead that was fought, all of the villagers must be accounted for!

Ehud starts cutting their bonds free with the sharp end of his spear, muttering, “Stupid fricken townies. Bunch of fricken sheep. Can’t even escape from zombies.”

One of the prisoners, a child, runs up to Ehud and throws their arms around him.
“Thank you sir for freeing me and my mommy! You are a hero!”

“Thank Hoar, boy,” Ehud pats the boys head. “Hoar helps the weak. I was once weak. Worship the Doombringer and learn to wield the spear and javelin, then you’ll always be able to protect your own mommy.”

Arden smiles and nods as the other prisoners are released. Apparantly we were just another couple victims and were not targeted specifically. He helps some of the prisoners up and out of the crypt who need assistance or appear to be injured.

Wilam is puzzled by the situation. Who would stuff 8 captives in the smallest mauseleum and leave two in the largest mauseleum? “Something doesn’t add up here… Arden, you and Jiles were seperated from the other group… Any idea why?”

Jiles shrugs, then rubs his chin. “Well, who knows? Maybe the other one was just too full?”

“Not likely. You two were in the largest mausoleum, the others were in the smallest.” Wilam continues to feel suspicious, but can’t put a finger on exactly why.

Arden shakes his head. “Like I said I had just fallen asleep at the inn when I was awoken by my kidnappers. We had sacks over our heads and could see and hear very little between the inn and our crypt. Next thing I know you all are fighting the corpses in the graveyard!”

“My story is not so simple. I was on my way to Winterhaven when I was approached and asked to deliver a note to an elven woman. We found her in the inn. I don’t know what the note said, but I figured it was easy money.” Jiles absently flips a shuriken along his knuckles as he talks, staring at the road in front of him.

“After you delivered the letter, what did you do before finding yourself here?”

“After delivering it to Ninaran, I offered her my services and drank up, had some cider, and rented a room at the inn. Why?”

“Perhaps the elfess presumed that you would be more able to save the captured townspeople than anyone else.” He looks at the large crypt. “There may be clues in there. Care to take a look, Wilam?”

“Of course,” Wilam steps into the vacated mauseleum. He casts Light on one of the caskets, “But these old eyes aren’t good at searching for clues.”

There is nothing remarkable about the crypt.

Bored out of his gourd, Varro begins checking every skeleton, and every open grave for any treasure he might find. The whole time talking to the skull wedged onto his axe.

" Ya tink der might be sumting in ere, I don’t know what he did befer he be becoming undeed …ya I be sure he was sumting like a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. but I be not fer certian…"

The undead carried nothing of value or interest.

Finding nothing of interest anywhere in the graveyard, Varro heads towards town still talking to his new found friend wedged on his Greataxe.

“Yea, dis place be borin. I tink it be time fer a drink.”

Hollers to the others, “I be meetin ya in da Tavern … I …we be headed ta get a drink or four.”

One of the prisoners raises his hand saying:
“Wait up! I don’t want to stay here any longer!”

The other villagers chime in and agree that they want to return to Winterhaven, and they all begin following Varro back down the path.

“A’ight, But I ain’t be buying drinks fer da lot ov ya .. ya going ta have ta find a way ta pay fer ya own”

The villagers all chuckle at Varro’s comments, obviously amused at his strange dwarven antics.

“Let me tell ya about dis time I hunted out a dragon in a tavern….”

Varro and the villagers begin their way down the path and out of sight.

The villagers all listen and laugh at Varro’s stories of glory and adventure. The small boy who approached Ehud walks right beside the warrior, idolizing his every word.

Wilam joins them on the treck back to Winterhaven. He remains silent unless addressed by anyone other than Varro, who simply gets tight-lipped smiles and nods of sarcastic agreement when referred to in his wild stories.

Varro goes on with his story,
“So der I be, drinkin wit me new pals, when I sniff sniff smelled me sumting. and I not be sure if dey teach ya dis around dez parts but a dwarf be havin a keen sense of da smellin…”

After spending a few hours unconscious, the cheetah wakes up. It takes him a few moments to remember what happened and where he is. Again, memories of days long gone rush into his mind and tears start to well in his eyes. He changes back to his human form, wipes his cheeks and starts walking toward Winterhaven, hoping the others are safely there with the rescued villagers.

“Zombies and whiskey and wild wild women, they’ll drive a man crazy, they’ll drive him insane…” Ehud sings with his arms relaxing on the longspear over his shoulders.

Brann follows the others back to Winterhaven. Orcus, is there a reason behind this? He slips towards the back of the group as he focuses his thoughts inward to commune with Moradin.

As the party arrives at the gates of Winterhaven, the guards on top of the wall immediately open the giant doors.

They begin cheering and a crowd begins to form at the quickly spreading news of the villagers being returned.
The town is in an uproar with excitement and joy as the heroes walk through the town, being cheered on and greeted by all the townspeople.

They find Lord Padraig in the center of the town, grinning from ear to ear.

He quickly closes the distance and shakes each one of your hands, while saying:

“Thank you! Oh thank you so much! The town of Winterhaven cannot repay your kindness! Not only have you saved our stolen villagers, but I got wind a while ago that you were the ones to rid the valley of the Kobold Threat!
A great many thanks for all your help! Please, take this as a dowry of our appreciation.”

Lord Padraig holds up a brown cloth sack, obivously full of coin. Inside it holds 250 gold.

Varro gladly accepts the cloth sack.

“Please stay in Wrafton’s tonight, tonight is The Feast of the Flame, beginning our celebrations of Shieldmeet, two days from now. Salavana is even serving her famous Honey Mead and Hard Apple Cider! Come, come, let us begin the festivities.”

Lord Padraig begins walking towards Wrafton’s Inn, a light and cheerful mood frequents his step.

Wilam is not sure if he should protest the celebration. There isn’t much time… but there is something to be said for high morale. Perhaps I’ll have a talk with the Lord.

Wilam waits for a chance to catch Lord Padraig, “Your Grace, if I might have a word… in private.”

“Of course! Let us move to the backroom of the Inn. We will have our privacy there.”

Lord Padraig leads Wilam to the room behind the bar and closes the door behind them.
He pulls up two chairs, sits in one, an motions for Wilam to do the same.

“What may I do for you Wilam?”

Wilam goes to the inn and waits for Padraig in the back room. When he arrives, he wastes no time getting straight to the point, “Sire, I will be frank,” Wilam looks Padraig directly in the eye. “There is a plot afoot that threatens Winterhaven’s very existence. While the safe return of the townsfolk is cause for great happiness, now is not the time for a celebration.” Wilam moves closer to the Lord to emphasize the seriousness of the issue. "We found correspondence from a common source among both the kobold’s leader Irontooth and the elf responsible for kidnapping the townsfolk. A cult of the Demon Prince himself has uncovered an ancient portal that lies in the depths of the abandoned keep. They seek to open the portal and unleash the horrors of the Shadowfell upon Winterhaven. This is the prophecy, spoken by the elf in the graveyard:

‘The rift shall be opened once more to the unyeilding glory of Orcus, Lord of the Undead.
His minions shall pour forth, spreading his influence across this valley, strengthening his grasp on this domain, pulling the Shadowfell forth into the mortal realm…’"

Wilam pauses to let the words sink in. “Let the festival continue and speak to no one about what I have just told you… help my friends and me to slip out to stop the threat in the keep. Then, when the cult has been erased, we will have cause for real celebration.”

Knowing he could never persuade his companions to break away from the celebration now that it was fully underway, Wilam adjusted his plan for an ideal resolution, “We have had a hard day, so we will stay for the night… but we must be off, first thing in the morning.”

Lord Padraig nods solemnly at Wilam.
“I had in fact heard rumors about a death cult in the area. This is dreadful news that you are confirming their existance. I know the history of Winterhaven has been riddled with evil and undead, all because of that Keep on the Shadowfell. If you and your capable friends would be able to venture into the keep and end this threat for good, Winterhaven would forever be in your debt.”

Lord Padraig fumbles with his hands, rubbing them together as he takes in this dire news.

“Aye. I will help you in leaving Winterhaven early tomorrow morning. I will have supplies waiting for you with Salvana when you wake. When you are ready, I will make sure the gates are free and open for your departure.”

Ehud goes into Wrafton’s smacks Salavana on the rump and smiling says, "Honey Mead for this hero, please!”

This has been a hard day for Belimir. Although he doesn`t feel like celebrating, he knows how the townsfolk feel, having an undead threat dealt with. He is still shaken by what has happened at the graveyard but can control himself much better now. He keeps away from the central part of the celebration with a mug in his hand.

Varro continues on with the crowd to the tavern.

“A few coins, some free food n free mead … now dat be what I be talkin about.
can’t be stayin fer two days fer no celerbration, but no need ta be spoilin a feast. ’Morrow we can be worryin about dat keep …maybe we get back in time fer da festivities.”

The celebration goes on well into the night, joyous villagers, shopkeepers, and farmers all join together. The Undead threat dealt with and the beginning of the holiday brings countless amounts of joy to Winterhaven.

The heroes all take in the festivities, drinking, eatting, and celebrating each in their own way. They retire late in the night to their respective rooms, falling fast asleep, and resting well after several days of hard, yet rewarding adventuring.

View
Episode 9: Quelling the Undead

The air grows deathly still as the party moves through the graveyard.
Overturned tombstones dot the landscape, fresh dirt surrounds them.
An ice cold chill courses through the adventurer’s bodies as they pass farther into the heart of the cemetery.

In an instant, chaos and fear flow through the graveyard, moans and scrapping can be heard from all around as the dead burst from the soil and crawl from the shadows and attack!

A small undead army pulls themselves to the surface eager to tear into the flesh of the living.

The skeletons all move towards the heroes, shabbling mounds of bone and cartlidge.
Their feet scrapping against the rocky path as they move ever-closer.

Two gravehounds appear as if from the shadows themselves to block Ehud’s way into the large crypt in the back of the cemetery.

One of the hounds lunges out to bite Ehud’s leg, scoring a vicious hit, filthy fangs driving deep into his thigh.

The second gravehound snaps at the air, threatening Ehud with its foul breath.

Closing in on all sides, skeletons close the distance between them and the wizard. One skeleton gets close enough to strike out with its rusty longsword, easily hitting Wilam.

Belimir, bringing up the rear of the group in the cemetery, finds himself almost surrounded by Decrepit Skeletons. Three skeletons flank him, drawing his attention with every step they take.
They all strike out with Longswords, black with rust and filth.
The quick-footed elf dodges all but a minor jab from the skeletons, taking a nick on the forearm.

Emanating from within the large crypt, Jiles yells out, “Let us out of here! Give us weapons and we will fight!” Jiles begins to pull and push on the gate in front of him, trying to force his way out.

He turns back to Arden, “Arden, come help me work on this gate!”

Wilam winces in pain from the assault and knows that there is much more where that came from. He clears his mind and begins channeling cold energy into the air surrounding the group of undead to the north. It freezes and condenses, clinging to the bones and rotting flesh of the skeletons.

Wilam continues the freezing assault as he turns and conjurs another wave of cold, sending it at the skeletons to the south.

Wilam then moves as quickly as he can to a safer area, putting as much distance between the undead and himself as possible. He dashes around the corner of the mauseleum and is relieved to see there are no more standing dead awaiting him. Out of sight, out of mind for the mindless dead. By the time I am around the other side of the mauseleum, they’ll have forgotten about me and be gathered and ready for another blast of cold.

Wilam catches sight of someone or something standing in the entryway of a crypt.

The figure standing just inside one of the crypts is barely visible due to looming shadows, but, if you’re not mistaken, it looks to be an elf, a female elf, watching the battle transpire.

Ooooooooooooh crap. I should have kept my mouth shut. Belimir shapeshifts into a white panther, shifting to a nearby square. The panther roars, and thousands of locusts burst into the area, attacking the undead. He then quickly moves out of skeletons reach.

Varro moving double time rushes for the graveyard.
Dos brain dead buggers be gettin in over der heads, I jus knows it … dey don’t be knowin how ta keep der noses out ov da messes. Damn finger-wagglin nosy buggers.

“Damn it be a long time since I be runnin like dis, I be gettin a lil out ov shape, need ta cut back on da mead…. BAH Hogwash … must ‘ave been all dem finger-wagglin critters one ov dem musta put a spell on ol’ Varro, dat gots ta be wut be da problem, dats gotta be it.” Shakes his head

“…gots ta get ta da Damn graveyard"

“Come on, half-pint. No tellin wut kinds ov trouble dey be findin. and wes goin ta miss out” breaths a lil heavy

Francis runs alongside Varro. At this pace, we’ll be winded when we get there. Sensing that his dwarven companion anticipates danger, he draws out his shield and handaxe in preparation for battle.

Hearing the ring of steel outside, Arden removes the sack from his head and moves to help Jiles with the gate. “Looks like we have a chance in some new friends!” He begins pulling on the gate with Jiles.

The iron gate rattles back and forth as the two captives push and pull on it. Despite their current efforts, the gate does not open.

With a sigh of frustration, Jiles steps back from the gate. His eyes quickly turn to the ground, looking for bones, splinters, or anything else small that he might use to pick the lock on the gate. “Help me look for something like a pick for the gate’s lock.”

Seeing his druid companion taking care of the undead near him, Brann moves up to support his frailer wizard companion. He hears the sounds of people trapped in the crypt and fires a burst of divine light at one of the guard dogs, sending the healing portion back to aid their rearguard.

Wilam brings forth the deadly cold from earlier,
hoping it’s pain takes hold onto these abominations.
The cold drifts in through several skeletons, freezing
their bones and weakening the rotten flesh.
The skeletons break apart under their own weight,
frozen bones and flesh falling everywhere.

Desperation from being surrounded driving his actions,
Wilam summons another chilling cloud around a
different group of skeletons.
This cloud seems somewhat less effective, but reduces
the skeletons numbers further none-the-less.

He then quickly moves away from the mob of living
dead.

Belimir shifts into a White Panther, a familiar form,
and prepares himself for combat. He roars, summoning
thousands of tiny Carrion Beetles to attack the
undead.

Two of the skeletons fall instantly, being nothing
more than a few tatters of flesh to begin with, the
other monsters seem to be slowly eatten alive as the
beetles feast on their rotting flesh.

Varro and Francis finally make it to the Graveyard
gate, the scene of their friends in trouble pushes
them into action. They ready themselves for some
Undead Killing!

The two captives inside the crypt in the rear of the
cemetery desperately look for something to open the
gate with, the commotion only adds to the chaos.

Brann moves towards Wilam, protecting the frailer
wizard. He fires a bright bolt of divine light at one
of the Gravehounds, draining the evil energy from it
and bolstering Belimir’s health in its stead.

The mindless skeletons move forward towards the
heroes, rusty swords and shields ready to strike.
The undead once again surround the heroes, Brann being
completely blocked off from escape, and skeletons
chasing after Wilam.
It seems no one if safe from the numerous onslaught of
undead!

The skeletons strike out at Brann, fiercly pressing
him back against the outside wall of the Crypt.
He defends well, but takes a few stinging hits to the
side.

Belimir seems to have found some friends as he allowed
his pet insects to feed on the undead.
The skeletons shamble closer to him, and attack with
their swords.
The panther’s fur staining red as several hits make it
through his agile defenses.

Two skeletons round the corner of the crypt, not
easily fooled from combat. The sole motivator of
killing must be a strong sensation.
They swing their swords at the wizard, aiming for
anything they can hit.

Wilam’s feeble physical defenses do nothing to block
the attacks from the Skeletons.

Ehud goes on the defensive, blocking, dodging, and
parrying attacks from the Skeleton and the two
Gravehounds he faces.

A shadowy figure darts from the entrance to the
southern most crypt across the cemetery. While it is
running, the cloak-trailing figure fires off a few
arrows, deadly accuracy guiding them to their target.
Wilam feels a sharp pain in his back as an arrow
lodges itself deep into his shoulder.

Seeing the cloacked elf move from the cript, Belimir iz puzzled. Is he helping us? But, seeing it fire two shots at Wilam, Belimir is shocked. He changes back to his human form, raises his staf and curses the skeletons. Water rushes from inside the crypt and splashes the skeletons. He then moves to the other side of the crypt and confronts the elven figure.
in ElvenHOW DARE YOU! Aligned yourself with the dead! I won`t even bother to ask for your name. May the dead take you with them.”

Wilam is relieved to see Varro and Francis at the gate but his joy is quickly stifled by the screaming pain of an arrow in his shoulder. He falls to a knee and sees blood pouring from his side. He stands, only to find two more skeletons blocking his retreat.

“Damn these cretins!” Wilam swears in pain and frustration. The cold attacks had been effective and Wilam was becoming more confident in conjuring them. In desperation, he called out the words for the spell. The frost-laden cloud appeared behind the skeletons and began seeping into their bones.

Pain wrackes his body as the cold shoots from his hands. He falls against the outer wall of the mauseleum and steadies himself. Tripping through the frozen skeletons, he manages to turn the corner, out of sight of the archer before he collapses against the wall.

“Fricken undead bitches,” Ehud mutters under his breath. He was hoping to buy some time taking a strong defense in order to figure out what to do. Seeing the cloaked figure, Ehud thinks, That must be the necromancer. “I will see your doom brought this day, by Hoar I swear it.” Then radiant red wings sprout from his back and he flies quickly towards the dark figure and attacks.

Ehud grins and decides to dig a little deeper.

Varro charges thru the open gate.

Shouting the whole way to anounce his presence on the battlefield.
“GWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”

Hearing the cries of pain of his companions and seeing himself surrounded by the undead, Brann digs deep to call forth a radiant burst of Moradin’s power.

“Willam, try to hold on, help is close by.”

Heedless of his own safety, Brann attempts to rush around the corner of the mausuleum to aid the nearby wizard.

Wilam feels a rush of soothing warmth envelop his body. He feels his shoulder growing hotter and hotter, but the heat never crossed the threshold of pain. As quickly as it came, the heat vanished and as it disapated, the pain was all but gone.

Francis rushes over towards Wilam and throws his handaxe.

“What’s going on here?” he asks Wilam. “Who are those people tied up?”

“We’ve been… ambushed by undead,” Wilam can hardly form his words, he’s been so shaken up. “I don’t know who the captives are, but they sounded friendlier than the… the bitch who shot me.”

“Ambushed! Really? You didn`t expect this? I can`t believe there`s an elven undead lover! When I get my hands on him……….”

Wilam chokes, but can’t help but correct Belimir, “Her… it’s a she.”

Belimir then realized Wilam was talking about a girl, and he froze instantly. “Are you sure? A girl?”

Belimir shifting back into his natural form, raises his staff, not wanting a second longer to pass allowing these monsters to live.

Water rushes from inside a crypt and pummels a group of skeletons, the water crushes one skeleton, then pools around the boney legs of the remaining undead.

He moves off towards the other side of the cemetery, yelling something you can’t understand towards the cloaked figure.

With a sudden burst of power, Wilam combines the strength of his two previous clouds into one, and blasts the two skeletons threatening him into ice cubes.

Wilam then stumbles and crawls around the side of the crypt.

Swearing an oath of justice towards the cloaked figure, Ehud leaps from the ground, his radiant red wings carrying him across the cemetery. Landing, Ehud thrusts out with his spear, scoring a direct hit onto the cloaked figure.

Grinning with grim satisfaction, Ehud digs into his reserves of energy and twists his body, attacking with a whirlwind like charge, pressing the figure back on their heels, scoring yet another hit.

The figure cries out against the hits, the hood falls back revealing the face of an elven woman.

You recognize this elf as one who frequents the Wrafton’s Inn!

Varro charges, weapon ready, through the gate shouting the entire way. Rushing up to the skeleton, he was unable to defend against an attack with a longsword, taking a small nick from it.

Brann finds Moradin within himself, and releases his faith in the form of holy energy in all directions around him.

The light destroys one skeleton outright, but has little effect on the rest, his faith waivering in a place of tainted evil.

Brann, moving away from the skeletons, pushes through the undead, trying to aid his allies.
He takes two painful hits from the skeletons he pushes through, longswords finding creases in his armor.

Brann calls out a healing word, finding Wilam’s ears, giving him hope for surviving this battle.

Francis runs into the cemetery throwing his handaxe towards a skeleton. The axe plants itself into the skull of the skeleton, the skull and the axe flying far across the cemetery, landing beside a gravestone.

Francis then challenges another skeleton, divine power causing it to confront the paladin.

The halfling tries to get some information from Wilam.

The skeletons move back in towards the heroes, still thirsty for the kill.

Brann faces a skeleton again, the longsword it carries striking the dwarf lightly, a small nick showing on his forearm.

Varro stops his charge in front of two skeletons, who swing doggedly with their swords at the warrior, one only striking Varro slightly.

Wilam is attacked by a persistant skeleton, another hit landing on the frail wizard.

Francis, an obvious bane to undead, gets approached by a skeleton, swinging its sword at the halfling. Scoring a solid hit on the paladin.

The elf shifts quickly backwards and begins running and gunning with her bow, taking aim at the Holy Avenger who assaulted her.

Two shafts fly through the air as she takes cover behind the large trunk of an oak tree. The shafts drive themselves deep into Ehud, causing wracking amounts of pain.

The gravehounds, seeing their master in danger, step out from the Large crypt to intercept any persuers towards the elven ranger.

Varro swings his axe with a mighty Roar, the swing appears to be unstoppable likely slicing thru one victim and into another

Wilam finds himself trapped against the wall of the tomb. “Belimir!” he calls back to the nearby druid, “Help me with this monstrosity!”

Belimir couldn`t think clearly for a moment. It seemed like he wasn`t aware anymore of the battle.His eyes focused on the female figure who wasshooting arrows at his friends, He found himself unable to grasp this development of events. What do I do now? Luckily for him (and the party, Wilam called for his help.
Belimir turned to see the wizard facing a skeleton. The druid changes shape (white panther), roars in anger an attacks the skeletons.

Wilam thanks Belimir for the timely distraction, “Good work, my boy!” A rush of hope rushes over him and he skirts around the southern corner of the mauseleum. He surveys the battle before him and notices Brann’s crooked posture, the red stain of blood on his mail and the demonic beasts, snarling and preparing for an assault. Brann, you brave-hearted dwarf, I owe you this.

Wilam pulls his spellbook out from under his arm and deftly opens it to the pages he had been studying in the kobold lair that morning. He begins reading from it aloud. The ancient text begins to activate, making Wilam’s voice surge and crackle like thunder. “Peals of lightening, roars of thunder! Unleash upon this ground your Thunderous Wrath! Strike, Thunder! Strike!”

Bleeding and feeling dizzy from the repeated sword strikes Brann stumbles. He drops to one knee and mutters a dwarven oath and rises up again.

Needing to bring his deities righteous wrath to these undead he calls forth a blaze of radiance at the minion closest him and then draws the light back into himself

He looks over his shoulder to see his companions closeby and then Brann then struggles back to them to get some cover.

“Wilam, it is good to see you’re still standing. I don’t think you’ve spent enough time getting beaten up to take so many hits lightly. Our friend Varro here on the other hand is a fine example of a sturdy dwarf. He actually enjoys taking a pounding all day, don’t you my friend.”

“Maybe I should keep a bit behind the frontlines myself”, Brann mutters as he feels his wounds still sapping his vitality.

“Aye Brudder, Stay behind me. Tagether dis abomination will be cleanzed.”

Jiles watches the undead horde begin to dissipate. He searches the battlefield for the necromancer elf, unable to find her. After a moment, he yells out, “Make sure that bloody elf woman doesn’t bring them back from…” Jiles pauses, searching for the right word.

Jiles looks over his shoulder at Arden. “Sit tight Arden, unless you can help from in here. We should be out of here soon enough, by the looks of it. Whether or not we’ll be any better off remains to be seen, but they are at least on the right side of the battle for now.”

Arden nods. “I just hope we have a chance to repay whoever that was that threw us in here. I would love to hurt someone right now.” Arden looks less than pleased with the treatment they received and the look in his eye shows you that he is most willing to extract vengeance upon those who cross him.

His handaxe far away, Francis stows his shield and pulls out his warhammer. He moves to shield Wilam from any attacks.
“If those are friendlies, they may be able to help. One of us should attempt to release them.”

as Varro notices the others gathering around him “A’ight, Wilam Ya gots a plan? …. Right! Den we be sticken tagether and take em down, First ya squeeze em wit ya spells as we slowly advance den we smash em ta a pulp.”

“Focus our attacks on the archer. She’s wounded and those dogs will be in pain if they leave their lightning cages. And if we can keep the elf alive, I’m sure she can answer some questions.”

“A’ight, so we take her alive fer questionin, I like dat, got any finger wagglin fer capturin her or ya want me ta be tacklen her?”

“Edder way we need ta get closer ta her… so lets be advancen on her slowly like.”

Varro yells at the crypt where the captives are being held …

HEY YOU … IN DERGET OUT ERE AND FIGHT…”

Varro swings out mightily with his greataxe, slicing
through the backbones of two skeletons standing in his
way.

Wilam calls out to Belimir for help.

The druid, preoccupied with something, snaps out of
his daze and shifts into a White Panther, roaring in
anger at the skeleton cornering the wizard, as he
makes his way to a better view of the two skeletons
nearest the gate.

More carrion beetles swarm towards the skeletons,
fully encompassing one, dropping it to the ground in a
broken mound of bones and tattered cloth. The other
skeleton seems very untouched.

Wilam commends Belimir on his timely reaction, moving
quickly around the crypt, then noticing Brann’s wounds
for the first time, jumps into action, pulling forth
the power of thunder and lightning from ancient text
in his tome. Wilam recites his spell as a thunderball
erupts from the air, two balls of crackling lightning
and rolling thunder consuming the two gravehounds,
pushing them around and striking their rotten flesh.

Brann, quickly tiring from his wounds, drops to one
knee and mutters a dwarven oath, gaining a second wind
and some resolve.

Bringing the wrath of his gods upon the abominations,
Brann calls forth a blaze of radiant light at the
skeletons, drawing strength from it’s warmth.
The light seems to not effect the monsters, but he
still gains some strength from his answered prayer.

He then moves back to gain some cover against the
enemies, the skeleton swinging it’s sword at his
retreat, but missing the dwarf.

Francis tucks his shield away, drawing his warhammer,
then moves forward to protect Wilam from any further
attacks.

Although the paladin takes a slight hit from the
skeleton in front of him as he rushes past. More
irritating than painful.

The party shouts to one another, formulating a plan of
attack, as the undead move back in, relentlessly.

Ehud, standing too close to the markings on the
ground, suddenly screams at the top of his lungs,
stricken with fear.

The paladin’s previous skeleton cares not which target
it can kill, and it moves towards the druid, swinging
aimlessly at the elf, striking him with an careless
blow.

The last remaining skeleton shambles up to Varro, the
dwarf grinning at the assertiveness of this mindless
bone-bag. The skeleton swings its sword hard at the
dwarf.

The skeleton’s brittle arm breaks off halfway through
the swing, the momentum bringing the rusty blade back,
cutting halfway through its own spine.

The face of the skeleton pauses as it realizes it’s
disasterous error, its eyes seeming to go wide in
surprise and its ever-grinning jaw dropping open in
disbelief.

The skeleton the explodes in a thousand tiny shards of
white bone, and a tattered peice of its tunic floats
gently down to the ground, settling on the dirt in
front of Varro.

For a moment, combat pauses, both sides staring in
amazment at the spectacle, then everyone bursts out in
laughter at the very unexpected scene.
Combat returns to normal a few histerical moments
later.

The elf, barely able to concentrate beyond the sound
of the booming thunder, takes another step behind the
tree trunk, taking aim at the toughest looking of the
group.

She lets fly another pair of arrows, their fletched
shafts soaring through the air, striking Varro
directly in the left shoulder.

The gravehounds seem to understand their plight in the
thunderballs, and remain steadfast by their master
elf.

Varro breaks off the arrows, says a quick Dwarven … something… thru gritted teeth and charges at the Wench that struck him with the painful projectiles.

Dispatching the hound that stood in his way Varro Growls at the Elf with the bow that stands to be his next victim. “GGGGGGRRRRAAAAWWWW” and flexes his muscles.

Francis runs toward the elf, calling on Oghma to direct the elf’s attention to himself before he strikes her.

Giggling hystericly Ehud screams, “WHY WON’T YOU DIE!”

Ehud giggles and then coughs, momentarily choking on his own blood, “Fricken necrosnelf undead humper.”

From within the western crypt, Jiles’ sigh is quite audible. I guess no interrogation then.

Barely above a whisper and with a shake of his head, “Looks like we’ve got a crazy one over here…”

Wilam hears the moaning and crunching bones behind him. I thought we had dispatched all the… he thought as he turned to find still another skeleton bearing down on Belimir. Curse these wretches! “Belimir, shall I return the favor?”

The panther looks at the undead before him and slashes him with his claws. After destroying the cursed thing he roars in Wilam`s direction. “Thanks for the offer. I`m fine.”

Wilam watches the cat savagely rip the skeleton to splinters and blinks, “Very well then, I believe you have it covered.”

He changes back to his human form and rushes past Wilam and Brann yelling. “We can`t kill her……….I can`t………She`s…….” Not being able to find the right words, Belimir curses his luck. Why did she have to sell her soul to Orcus…………
Elven “Renounce your undead lord. Please don`t make them kill you.”

Wilam turns back to the last remaining foes and continues to harass the remaining gravehound.

With a single word, an incandescent wasp zips from Wilams hand and assaults the zombie dog.

“Belimir, do you know this girl?”

“What? No. I`ve never seen her before.”

Wilam’s brow furrows, “Hmph.” I’ll never understand Elves. Just when I think I have them figured out, they prove me wrong.

Seeing the battered Avenger coming into view Brann focuses on him immediately, ignoring the battleplans and cries of his other companions. He rushes over to and casts a quick healing prayer on Ehud. Seeing that he needs to do more he fires a burst of light at the remaining grave hound and channels the healing properties back to his hurt companion.

“Come on Ehud, you can pull through this, feel the healing warmth of Moradin’s touch.”

Varro gains a second wind as he grits his teeth and
breaks off the arrow embedded in his shoulder. He then
charges towards the Elf.

Plowing through the gravehound blocking his way, the
zombie-dog didn’t stand a chance. One strong swipe is
all it took to slice the hound in half, biles and
rotten gore spilling out of it’s now exposed cavity,
but not before in a final act of evil, does it bite
Varro’s leg, drawing blood.

The dwarf kicks the beasts head as it dies, for good
measure.

Varro lets out a feral roar at the elf, threatening to
make her next.

Francis runs towards the elven woman, calling on Oghma
as he goes, taunting the elf with the holy words of
his god.

He swings his warhammer as he approaches, looking to
disable to elf, rather than kill her.

His attack lands square on the side of her leg,
buckling her knee in, causing her to fall straight to
the ground, screaming in agonizing pain.

Giggling histerically, Ehud rushes in to cause pain to
the problematic elf. His radiant spear of light drives
deep into the elf’s chest, blood pouring out onto the
damp grass. Her breathing is coming short now.
From far off to the side of the cemetery, Belimir
cries out “No!” at the sight of Ehud and Francis
bringing the elven hunter down.

A sigh is heard from inside the large crypt,obviously
disappointed.

The panther rears up and rakes the last standing
undead creature, breaking its bones into several
pieces, ending the threat in the graveyard.

He shifts back into the form of Belimir, and rushes up
to the fallen woman calling, “We can’t kill her!”
He says something in elven to the woman, a grimmace
forming on her face as he finishes.

Wilam, spying the remaining guard-hound, sends an
astral wasp to pester the beast, but the rotting
undead creature pays it absolutely no mind.

Brann seeing his need in the tail of the battle,
rushes out and gives praise to Moradin over Ehud,
healing some of his wounds, and sending divine flame
to burn the black soul of the gravehound, the
permeating evil surrounding the zombie blocking all
effects of the prayer.

The gravehound, seeing it’s master fallen, rushes
Francis with an unending fury.

Clawing and biting at the halfling, the gravehounds
eyes glow a bright and evil red, the stench of its
foul breath is almost overwhelming to the warrior.
Smells of rotten meat and carrion blanket the air,
nausiating those around.

With a lunge forward, the gravehound latches onto Francis’ leg, biting and digging it foul teeth deep into the muscle.

The beast is almost savouring the taste of fresh blood coating its jowels.

The gravehound hit with his second attack.

The elf lies very still on the ground next to the
tree, awaiting her fate.

Varro seeing the bitch fall and Wilam’s plan to question her, and noting the last real threat on the battlefield is the remaining Gravehound. Varro manuvers in for a strike.

Varro nearly tripping over Francis makes a feeble attempt at an attack.

A voice coming from the western crypt, seemingly annoyed, “If you are about done with the beasts, I’d like to stretch my legs? Ask that bitch where my pack and crossbows are, or I’ll be leaving her alive with no limbs to live a very long life as a worthless cripple – oh, and did I mention no tongue either?”

Varro Shouts back at the captives in the crypt “Da stonework on des crypts be lookin ta be shoddy at best … are ya sure ya buggers haven’t looked fer a way out?”

A mild chuckle begins to emanate from within the crypt, rolling slowly into a hysterical laugh. “It would be quite funny, but I have spent enough time in here crawling around feeling the walls.. At this point, you might as well just bust the gate or take the key from that wretch of a woman.”

" Der be ya problem, get off ya knees lad … save dat fer when ya in town and be looking ta earn a coin like dos pretty lasses in da brothels … Look at der walls near da weak spots ..der gots ta be decay … dis workmanship be shoddy"

Jiles looks around briefly. Seems that no matter how many dwarves I speak with, they never understand sarcasm… Walking around the crypt, Jiles pushes on the wall in various spots as he moves, seeing if he notices any change from the last time.

And why is it so many dwarves make homosexual remarks, I wonder?

There are small breaks in the back wall of the crypt, just large enough for someone to fit through if they squeezed their body tight.

Arden follows Jiles around the crypt while he examines the walls. Noticing that Jiles has found something towards the back of the crypt, Arden looks closer and sees there is a possible way out. “Now how did we miss that earlier?”

Arden notices how dark the shadows are covering the back wall, not even the sunlight from outside shows through. Maybe the dark magic the elf used to raise the dead aided in creating this makeshift prison seem impenetrable?

“Huh? Alive… Why?” It finally dawns on Ehud what they mean. “Oh, we’re going to torture her and then kill her. We’ll need a pail of water, a long board, one white male mouse, two black female mice and a whole bunch of peanuts!”

Seeing she doesn’t seem to be reacting to his attempt at intimidation, “Well I get to kill her once you all get your rocks off.”

Francis is taken aback by the thought of torturing the Elfess. Such extremes are to be avoided, he thinks, but is not the desecration of the dead an extreme in itself? Would not the balancing choice be to torture–or allow the torture of–this individual? He’s not sure what to think about this and instead focuses on vanquishing the ghoul.

Seeing the women fall from Ehud`s blow, Belimir cries out in horror. Panicking, he changes shape into a cheetah and runs away from the battlefield, images of his past flashing before his eyes.

“Would you stop your foolish prattle and finish the hound!” Wilam is angered and nearly enraged at the obsurdity of the group ignoring the rabid beast. “That wench isn’t going anywhere while she’s crippled and nearly unconscious!”

Wilam scowls at the zombie dog and lances it with another ray of frost.

The distraction of the other’s foolishness leaves Wilam unable to focus the beam and it simply chills the ground near his target’s feet. He is nearly raging and can feel his face flushing red.

Seeing that most of the party are stable and heeding Wilam’s warnings of the danger Brann lends his efforts to vanquishing the demon hound.

“Indeed we must finish off this remaining hound. Come on Varro, less time chatting with the prisoners, more time beating on these undead. For Moradin”

To punctuate his point, Brann shoots a ray of light at the hound and channels the healing wave back to his nearby companion.

Ehud sighs.

While conversing across the graveyard with the
captive, swings halfheartedly at the gravehound,
whiffing his attack wide.

Varro, strengthened by the fact that he is wearing
armor crafted by dwarven-kin, is bolstered by his
pride, puffing out his chest.

Most of the group chats idly about torturing the elf
woman, as Wilam, Brann, and Varro dispatch the hound.

Arden squeezes through the small opening in the wall,
the light of day almost blinding his eyes as he
emerges from his prison cell.

He begins to move towards the rest of the group.

Wilam, anger mounting at the inaction of the group,
lances another ice bolt at the gravehound, the spell
fizzling out before it reaches the monster.

A beaming ray of light sears the flesh of the beast,
Brann’s faith acting well against the abomination.

The holy light empowers Wilam, allowing him to regain
some health.

Francis shifts to the backside of the tree, putting
some space between the hound and him.

Ehud tries to intimidate the fallen elf, but even
wincing in pain, she doesn’t seem impressed.

Belimir shifts into cheetah and without warning takes
off running as fast as he can out of the graveyard and
into the wilderness..

Ehud, helping to bring down the hound, sends a radiant
bolt towards the creature, barely missing it.

The gravehound snarls, bile-like drool dripping from
its bloodthirsty fangs. It snips at Varro, teeth
bared, looking to cause pain anyway it can.

The bite does little to peirce the armor of the
Battlerager, the finely made chainmail absorbing the
entire blow.

Wilam is frustrated with the hound’s resilience. He moves in for a closer aim and launches yet another ray of frost.

Arden notices his rescuers are still battling an undead hound and moves forward to enter battle. He points at the hound and utters his ominous curse “Into Death!” before launching into a series of gestures and words of power, blasting the enemy with dark energy.

The cheetah runs as fast as it can away from the graveyard in a random direction. After a few moments he stops, starts roaring sporadically as if he was gravely injured. After doing this a few times, it collapses to the ground, losing consciousness.

Varro trying to make full use of the flanking position that Francis has created. Varro swings his mighty axe in a wide arc and then as always shifts his grip and slams the axe low into the beast.

Again without hesitation, Varro shifts his grip again and lays a wicked strike into the beast’s head.

Destroying the beast, and finishing the battle in one solid display on axemanship.

Varro pulls his axe free of the beast, only to find the axe still firmly wedged in the creatures skull. No worries though, the skulll is no longer attached to the beast.

“Now wut ya be saying ta dat der brudder?”

Wilam, frustrated with the undying undead, the wizard moves in closer and sends another bolt of frost in the direction of the gravehound.

The bolt falls short and flies into the ground, splasing into a puddle of water as it unfreezes.

Arden, wanting to help his rescuers moves forward into battle. He points at the gravehound and mutters a infernal curse, moving into gestures and arcanic words of power, dark bolts of energy spring from his hands flying towards the creature.

The eldritch blasts crash into the gravehound, exploding as they hit, causing harsh damage to the undead beast.

Belimir continues to rush through the woodlands, falling unconcious.

Varro, flanking the beast swings in a wide arc, shifting his grip brings his axe down upon the gravehound. The hound shifts to the side of the oncoming attack, the axe digging a deep trench into the ground.

Varro does wait for the beast to react and repositions his hands and lays a wicked strike onto the hound, cleaving its head clean off in a single swipe.
The gruesome head still attached to the blade of the axe as its body crumbles to the ground.

The graveyard has been clensed of undead.

View
Episode 8: Moving Forward

The night passes uneventfully. Each member of the party getting a surprisingly good
night’s sleep for having spent the night in a, until recently, kobolds lair.

The party rises just as dawn breaks the horizon.

The smell of sweet dew permeates the air, and the fresh, crisp leaves from the nearby
forest color the air with a pleasant flavor.

Ehud yawns, stretching, “Nothing like being outside, sleeping on rocks and roots,
with Varro snorring, half-man whimpering, and Wilich talking and turning in his sleep
with his pointy elbows. Makes me miss home.” Ehud scratches himself.

The panther yawns and stretches its paws, showing his claws. He looks around him and
jumps straight into the waterfall for a quick bath. After that, he goes to where the
otheres sleep and starts shaking off water, splashing the rest of the party. “Time to
wake up guys!”

Brann yawns and stretches as he rises from the padding of his bedroll. He takes a
quick look around to check that everything and everyone appears to be in order before
moving off to a sheltered spot to begin his morning prayers to Moradin.

Varro wakes, disappointed that he still hasn’t reconnected with his helm but eager to
get to Winterhaven, gathers his gear and prepares himself for the trip. Sticking his
head inside the northern cave entrance to the lair he yells “Wakey, wakey, Time we be
getting ta Winterhaven, breakfast be a callin!”

He waits about 10-15 minutes then if all is not gathered outside the lair he yells
again.
Impatient to get on the road and get business attended to in town.

Wilam woke with terrible cramps and knots in his muscles. The floating disk he slept
on was sturdy and kept him clean, but it was hardly a comfortable experience.
Although he hated manipulating magic in futile manners, he gave in and used a
summoned mage hand to give himself a massage. After a few minutes of stretching and
pacing, he was ready to face the day. While the others prepared, he flipped through
the pages of his spellbook and reviewed one of his powerful spells on lightning orbs.
He practiced by arcing small charges between his fingers and rolling a small orb of
pure electricity in his palm.

Satisfied with his practice, he sauntered outside and met up with Varro. “This disk
is quite sturdy. If you would like to lighten your load, it will hold at least 400
pounds of equipment and loot.”

“I not be needin ta be lightenin anyting, I be just fine wit me load. Besides ya
might be usin dat fer yourself ya not be wantin ta get ya feet dirty on da way back
ta town. belly laugh How did ya ya sleep? sniff sniff ya startin ta smell a bit
like a critter. belly laugh

Damn sissy finger-wagglers.

“Lets get ta going” Varro starts walking towards Winterhaven.

Bah ask me ta lighten me load, probable wants to vanish da treasure off ta some
finger-waggler place.

“Very well. It shall follow us to Winterhaven unburdened.”

Belimir went hunting after he woke up the rest of the party. The hunt wasn`t much,
again another rabbit. As he was going towards the rest of the party, he heard the
conversation between Wilam and Varro. So the disk is going with us the whole way?
Suddenly an image of royal cats Vid used to speak about came to his mind.
Hmmmmmmm……..With his breakfast in his mouth, in an easy step, the panther jumps
on the floating disk, testing the surface to see if it will hold him and then slumps
with a thud on it, roaring with pleasure and excitement, a smug smile shining on his
face. You may proceed. I`m a royal cat! If only Vid could see me.
He then starts eating his breakfast.

Wilam doesn’t seem to mind the cat’s behavior.

The cat winks at Wilam, pleased and grateful that the wizard gave him a new toy.

“ta maybe da half-pint can ride on it, give him a better view den lookin at yer
behind da whole way. Belly Laugh dat way he can pout over him armor abit more.
belly laugh

“Speakin ov unburdenin, how about ya be tellin me about dis feller or felleress dat
be der in Winterhaven dat has da interest in dis keep?”

Wilam is contemplative in his answer, choosing his words carefully.
“Francis and I were approached by a priestess who was suspicious of cultist activity
in the area. She seemed to have reasons to believe the keep was acting as a … point
of interest among the cultists. I don’t know the source of her information, but it
seems to be confirmed by Irontooth’s note.”

“Well, I not be havin any contract ta be doin anyting about no cultist … we bein
paid ta jus map da keep fer dis feller in Fallcrest. I recken dat dos cultist be
movin on eventually and den we can do our mappin.”

“Quite right. But you are under contract with Francis and I to help us with our
business at the keep. We’ve performed our half of the bargain yesterday.” Wilam
looked down at the dwarf through his squinting eyes. “And I don’t suspect you’ll want
to map a keep that’s been infested by the minions of the Prince of Demons.”

“True nuf … I not be argueing dat, and ya did dat might nicely like. I not be
knowin nuttin about no Prince ov any demons. Maybe we best be talkin ta dat priestess
felleress dat ya be talkin about.”

Wilam glances nervously from left to right before speaking, “Orcus. Surely you’ve at
least heard myths of his exploits.”

“Oh Orcus, Why da hell didn’t ya be saying so?” Varro says a bit louder then Wilam is
comfortable with.

“You know not the powers you taunt, dwarf,” Wilam warns sternly. “Such words are not
to be used in jest.”

“Anyhow, all clues indicate a cult is working to open a portal to the demon prince’s
plane. If such a thing were to occur, I can assure you a map would be the least of
your troubles.”

“Well, I not be knowin about no jests, but dat udder ting ya be speakin about, …
well ,,, dat not be soundin too good, but … demons? … ya be thinkin we be able ta
do anyting about any demons?

I be reckin dat we be needin ta be talkin to dat felleress dat ya be mentionin
earlier. Maybe if dat be da case den she be uppin’ our pay a bit. Dat sounds a bit
might more risky den mappin, and a bit more dangerous den a lair of critters." Varro
nudges Wilam with his elbow “ya recken?”

“Who says anyone’s getting paid?” Wilam’s lips curl with a mischevious smile. “The
gods have mercy on your soul if you plan to extort the temple.”

“We not be talkin about mercy or any soul, we be talkin about life threatin cultist
of demon something or anudder, and I not be doin any ov dat wit out gettin paid!”

“You are getting paid. You made nearly 500g yesterday and we haven’t even sold the
loot you’ve collected. How much are you getting paid for your map? I doubt if you’re
doing that for free.”

“It be silly ta go off and be doin sumting dat not be fer yer self wit out bein paid
fer it, wut da hell be da point ov dat, I guess next ya be willin ta be diggin a
ditch fer somebody and just do it fer kicks, Hell ya we be gettin paid fer da mappin
job, dat is why it be called a job, ya loony bugger. I be reckenin dat dat dis
“church” be payin ya fer ya investigation, too. Now aren’t dey?" Varro looks to
Francis for the answer as he suspects Wilam will lie to him.

Bloody hell, what dis damn finger-waggler expect to do just go around doin tings out
of charity, charity don’t buy my supper and it not be buying any new gear, what da
hell be wrong wit dis bugger?

The white panther just yawns. This talk is boring. He continues to eat the rabbit,
making a mess on the floating disk. On with the journey!

Francis rises up from his makeshift bed, having listened to the conversation between
Wilam and Varro. “The priestess is currently unavailable. We won’t be able to
communicate with her until we’ve secured the keep.”
He wipes the sleep from his eyes and scratches his head. “Unpaid work may strike you
as silly but you must recognize that it is equally silly to hand yourself off to
excessive danger simply for the chance at material goods that do not follow you in
the afterlife.”

“Bah … ya fancy speaking half-pint … Just answer da damn question. Are ya getting
paid by da damn church, or arn’t ya.?” Varro presses the lil halfling warrior.

By the church? Maybe. Though it could be from Marla’s personal savings, if
priestesses are allowed such things these days.

Seeing how the halfling seems to be struggling with the answer, “It not be dat hard
ov a question, half-pint, was you or ya friend ere every offered any coin ta perform
ya investigation ov da keep? It not like I be askin ya such a damn hard ting.”

“If you must know, we have been promised a reasonable stipend for ensuring there are
no death cultists in the area. Do you ask because you’d like to discuss a reasonable
share or are you simply prying for the sake of it, much like a bored child with a
crowbar?”

“I be askin ta prove me point, Ya can keep da coin ya was offered ta do ya
investigation, I just want ta prove me point dat ol’ Wilam ere be doin it fer da coin
as well, dat be all. Ya all be guardin dat coin like a greedy feller, arn’t ya. Jus
goes ta prove me point dat ya both be doin it out of greed not out of charity Belly
Laugh
… oh but speaking of which have I had a chance ta show ya my crowbar?” Varro
pulls out a nice new and shiny crowbar from his pack.

“It seems that you denied the offer for a fair share to strengthen your argument that
Wilam and I are greedy. You have thus acted in spite of your economic self
interest.”

“Na I jus reckin dat wut ya was offered was bearly enuf fer da two of yous, and dat
be why ya be guardin it so closely. I jus be wantin ta discuss things wit ya contact
wit da church ta renegotiate da deal.” sliding the crowbar back into his pack since no
one seems impressed by it.

“Varro, would you have been interested in attacking the kobolds yesterday if you knew
there was not a coin to be found?”

DAMN SKIPPY… Dos Bastard Dung suckers Killed me dragon!”

“Then you should have no trouble understanding why I would want to purge a cult of
the Prince of Demons.”

“Did dey kill yer dragon?”
Wilam cracks a smile, “No. They haven’t killed any of my friends… yet. But if that
is a foreseable outcome of their existence, I find it a worthy cause to exterminate
them.”

“Well Worthy or not, ya wouldn’t be stickin ya neck out so fer, if someone wouldn’t
be payin ya some major coin. Dedication to wut be right is all great but dedication
only modivates ya so fer, dat wut I be sayin. So I be perposin dat we gos talkin ta
your felleress from da supposed church and let em know whut we be findin already and
maybe renegotiate fer da amout of danger dat we be facin and make dis lil venture
worth all dat trouble it be likely ta be causin.”

The panther snorts at the discussion.
This dwarf is boring. He is stuborn and can`t really prove a point………Is this
thing moving? “HELLOOOO……..I`m riding a floating disk!”

“Havin fun Kitty?”

Varro grabs the edge of the disk and spins it like a merri-go-round. Belly Laugh

“Heeeeeeey. This is great. Of course I`m having fun! I`m the King of Cats!”

“Orcus lovers, eh?” Ehud thinks a bit. “Yeah, I’ve run into some of that kind before
in the gangs. They squirm and scream an awful lot when they go. Guess their god don’t
like failure so much.” Ehud smiles, fondly remembering killing Orcus devoted gang
members.

Varro continues to spin the disk faster and faster. Amusing himself and appears to be
amusing the cat as well.

The conversation is light and frequent as the party moves on their way back towards
Winterhaven.
It is near late morning as the gates come insight. Late morning and the gates seem to
be shut.

More than the usual number of guards are patrolling the top of the wall.

Varro immediately senses that something is a bit amiss. He hollers to the guards on
the walls. “Whut be da ruckus, Martin, Bart? Anyting we can be a helpin wit?”

Varro waits for a response, possibly from the guards that greeted them the first time
they entered the small community.

Several figures stand with weapons drawn on the parapet above as the group
approaches.
One of the figures, Lord Padraig, waves as you approach.
He calls out, “We are in peril! Several villagers have disappeared, and the dead in
the cemetery have risen. We fear these creatures will emerge to assailt the gates and
drag us all away!”

“Open da damn gate den, we talk about us taking care ov yer raisin dead problem soon
enuf, once we have a chance ta knock the mud from our boots and get a mead or two in
our bellies … and ya tell us where dis damn cemetery be.” Varro approuches the
gate.

The Lord of Winterhaven nods to the guards next to him.
“Very well, let them in.” He says to the guards.
“You may enter Winterhaven, but make it quick! We do not want anyone in or out of the
town until this threat has been dispersed! We cannot risk the lives of our people!”

“ya be havin whoever it be dat be in charge meet us in da pub fer a bit of a chinwag
about dis undead problem and I be sure we can be workin sumting out ta be riddin ya
folks ov dis problem.” Varro continues on through the gate and heads directly to the
Smithy shop, with a nod to each guard he passes.

Lord Padraig calls out to the remaining group as Varro walks into Winterhaven through
the barely opened gates,
“I have not the time to twaddle over those who do not wish to help. Either aid those
in need, or I will find others ready to defend us. I have no other choice but to
protect those in my town. Gods Graces to those of you who come to help us.”

With that, Lord Padraig walks farther down the wall to discuss other matters with
other guards.

“Belimir,Since I be recken ya not be lookin ferward ta comin inta town, see if ya
mighten be finding dat cemetary dat dey so worried about and be letting us form some
kind ov plan ta be dealin with dis problem ov ders, by da time ya get back me
business in town most likely be complete, I recken. dat is if ya be findin anyting at
all.”

Once the party approached the city, Belimir changed back to his elven form.

“No.” Belimir answers simply. “And you might try to learn some manners dwarf.”
Belimir walks towards lord Padraig, thinking how to properly greet a lord. Now how
would one do this? I`ve never been near a lord….if he was an animal, I might bring
him something I killed myself………I don`t think that would work right
now…….And he doesn`t look hungry. Belimir bows clumsily and offers his help.
“Padraig, is it? I would like to help you and your city. I know how big of a threat
the undead are to nature. I`m sure some of my companions are willing to do the same.
The dwarf might tag along as well. I would like to know more though, before we start
looking into the matter. Please tell us about this threat.”

“Or ya could be doing that.. either way I be meetin up wit ya in a bit den we see ta
dis supposed undead thingy”
Varro continues his way to the smithy, without another word.

“Bah, ya could have been doin it my way and actually had a plan befere ya be goin and
rushin in, der ain’t no immediate threat, der jus be rumors of a threat, nuttin ta be
gettin ya panties in a bunch ov’r. Der be plaenty ov time ta be takin care ov
business den we be doin da cleanzen. Bloody do gooders, a waste ov time dey be.”

As Varro approaches the Smithy, he can hear Thair already working away at his craft.
The strong smell of hot coals and hotter steel assail his nostrils.

The streets are empty, an eerie feeling hangs about the town.

Francis tags along with Varro to the Smithy. I might as well get an estimate on my
armor.

Varro enters the shop and addresses the dwarven shop owner.

“Brudder, I have some work we be needin ta commission ya fer.”

Thair nods at Varro’s greeting.

“First me friend ere, damaged his armor. I recken he be needin ta get it fixed or
atleast be needin an idea of whut it be taken ta get it fixed.”

Thair takes a look at the broken breastplate, mumbles to himself, strokes his beard
covering it in even more soot than was there before, and says,

“Aye, I kin fix ‘er up nice and tight like. Might’n take me a day though ta get da
strength o’da steel back in’ta it. But nuttin’ ol’ Thair can’t handle!”

“I be thinkin he be likin a ta know a price on da repairs.”

“Fifteen gold fer da breastplate is all.”

“Ya be havin anyting in him size, dat he be able ta use ta be protectin him from hurt
while ya be workin on him breastplate? he ain’t but a wee thing, maybe a gauntlet. “
belly Laugh

“Aye, I’ve got a spare chainmail shirt ‘ere that’d fit’im. Not quite the same as a
breastplate, but it’ll do, eh?”

Francis removes his plate armor and puts on the chain mail. This is the smallest one
he has?

He pulls out his warhammer and practices a few strikes in the air, gauging the
armor’s flexibility and also trying to impress Varro and Thair. Dwarfs? Dwarves?

“Aye but it be up to im, but I feel it be a good armor” Pats his own chain.

“Speaking ov armor, when dis is all said and done I gots a few sets ov armor I be
needin a buyer fer. I recken dat we should be dealing wit dis threat first. I be
seein ya when dis be over though.”

Thair nods to Varro and Francis and goes back to work.

“den I need ya ta be makin wit yer dwarven skills an axe fer me like dis one.” Varro
shows the smithy the waraxe.

The smithy takes the axe from Varro looking it over twice and hands it back.

“but wit dese markins and symbols.” Varro shows the smithy the greataxe he carries.

“Aye, a’gin not a problem. Both peices are gonna be take’n me a while ta fix up.
‘Bout a week or more’s wotha work for da axe, ‘specially wit them fancy carvin’s o’da
Dwarven gods.”

“Aye, I be thinkin it be shody work if it be takin any least brudder. If ya be please
startin on it right away. Ya be needin any coin down on it?”

“Nay, no coin up front fer it. Ye can pay fer it when it’s finished. I s’pose i’ll be
seein ye t’marrow den fer da pick up of da breastplate, an’ in a lil’ over a week fer
da axe. It’s gonna be a but pricey ta make da new axe though. Dese t’ings are
complicated ta put t’gether. Thirty gold fer da axe, and anuther ten gold fer da
scribblin’s”

“And it be seemin dat we be in a bit ov a rush, brudder. Seems da town be in a hissy
wit dis trouble dat da guards be speakin ov. so I would recken if ya can be helpin me
out a bit I can get ta dealin wit dat helpin da guards wit dis mess.”

Thair nods to the pair as they conclude their business with the blacksmith.

“Be soundin about right, I be seein ya when it be done. Dat is if I not be seein ya
before den. Maybe I be seein ya in da inn, and I be buyin ya a mead or two or tree if
I do. I be leavin ya to ya work till den brudder.”

Varro leaves the Smithy pleased witht he conversation with Thair. He looks for his
companions and find them no where. He looks in the tavern and since the captian of
the guard is not there he heads for Barracks hoping to find the Captian or his
friends there. He enters the building and looks around. “’ello, I be lookin fer da
captian or me companions, I hear ya be having undead problems and we fixen ta fix dat
fer ya.”

The Captain of the Guard nods at Varro’s entry into the Barracks.

“G’day again Sir Dwarf. So you’ve heard of our little problem too eh? Aye it seems a
spot of trouble has befallen our little town once again. I was preparing the men here
to go investigate, until I got word that you and your friends were taking a look for
Lord Padraig. That is very noble of you, although I am surprised to see you inside of
Winterhaven. Has the threat been neutralized? Were the rumors of Undead true?”

" Da two ov us had a bit ov pressin business dat we had ta be dealin wit fore we
could deal wit dis trouble ov yers. dat is done now and de udders have gone on ahead
ta scout out da cementary, I be reckenin. I jus be needin directions as ta where dat
is so dat we can catch up ta dem. dat is unless ya be having a nudder matter dat we
are needed ta be takin a gander at." Varro tries to be diplomatic as he can, not
really his area of expertise.

The captain allows Varro to finish before chiming in,
“I was told by Lord Padraig and some of the local farmers that Undead was spotted in
the Graveyard. It lies just south of town, a path leads from the gate to the cemetery
gate. If your friends headed there already, I am sure they have arrived by now.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Frances nods. He tugs at Varro’s arm. “If this is as serious
as we presume, we may be needed.”

“It be da fools on fault fer running off, surely dey be smart enuf ta not get inta
trouble till we be catchin up, told em we would only be a few minutes. … well if I
not be tellen dem dat dey should ov known we be along shortly like.”

Varro heads for the door with some ugency.

“Ya lets get ta goin dey arn’t da brightes candles. Dey probly gettin in trouble.”

Varro and Francis leave the gates of Winterhaven, following the path from the main
road directly to the cemetery.

Wilam joins Belimir to hear what Padraig has to say. He hopes it is not too late…
Does this mean the portal was opened already?

Lord Padraig looks down with hope at those who stayed at the gate.

From the top of the wall he calls down,

“Thank you for your help! Several people are missing from the town, near twenty or
so. Strangers and inhabitants alike to Winterhaven. Those who awoke this morning were
in afright searching the town over for their loved ones, until a couple of farmers
rushed in through the gates with talk of Undead risen in the Cemetery. These are
trustworthy men and with the disappearance of the villagers, seems appropriate. Will
you go to the Cemetery and deal with this threat and return our loved ones?”

At first, Belimir was confused. Return them?!?! Like…..take them from their graves
and………..He can`t mean that………. He then asks Lord Padraig bluntly, not
caring who might hear his question or how disturbing the question can be. “What makes
you think they will still be alive?”

“The villagers have only been missing since sometime during the middle of the night.
With the Gods willing, they will still be alive, wherever they have been taken. We
fear these undead did something with them in the Cemetery, but of what, we cannot be
sure.”

“So, this cemetary, how do we get there?” Alive…..

“The cemetery is south of Winterhaven. If you follow the road past the farmlands you
will see it along the woodline.”

Belimir waits for others to say what they think and then he`ll go, alone if noone
else will.

“I will join you, Belimir. If this is related to our other business, we may find
valuable clues in the graveyard.”

“Other business? What other business?”

“Now is not the time to discuss it, but I can fill you in later.”

Wilam looks at the others, “Who else will be joining us?”

Not pleased that there are some secrets in the party, Belimir frowns. “Fine.”

After listening to the talk of undead rising Brann has focused inwards and tried to
commune with Moradin.

Undead rising, this seems like the work of some evil deity. Perhaps Moradin will lend
me some insight.

“The evil of Orcus has always plagued Toril, bringing to life those who have passed,
enslaving their bodies against the will of their souls. If there is the Demon’s Taint
on the land, it is your duty to purge the evil in the name of Moradin.”

“Indeed this seems like a matter we should investigate.” Brann says to Padraig. “The
souls of the dead should be at peace and it is my duty to maintain this balance.”

Brann fingers his Holy Symbol as he muses this turn of events.

Ehud sighs, “What a pain in the ass. Sure, I’ll go.”

“Lets go, then. We best not waste any time.” Wilam feels uneasy about the whole
situation, but thinks he’s doing a good job of hiding it.

“Let`s go.” Belimir changes his shape (once again) into a white puma and dissapears
in the surrounding thicket.

While four are heading to the graveyard, Wilam takes a moment to explain his concern
about the possible skirmish ahead. “Without Francis and Varro, we won’t have anyone
to keep the undead at bay. Keep your distance and keep your wits about you. The
mindless dead will walk into any traps we set for them.”

A path from Winterhaven’s gate leads through a grove to the graveyard. A fence of
wrought iron bars encloses the cemetery.

No one can be seen inside the graveyard from the path. It seems to be completely
empty.

Within the graveyard, the tombstones are densely packed. Three
mausoleums sit amid the markers. The soil around some of the
graves seems disturbed. A sickly glow pulses from somewhere
near the largest of the three mausoleums.

“Be careful. Something has certainly gone wrong here. Lets see if we can find
something out about that glow before we breach the fence.”

Wilam begins making his way along the northern edge of the fence. Unless he notices
something unusual, he continues.

There are many gravestones and a few large trees inside the Cemetery.
There is a strange Magic Circle drawn into the ground that is illuminated with a
sicky glow.

The fence around the cemetery is 10’ high and made of solid, sturdy iron.

After ariving at the graveyard, Belimir changes back to his elven form. He looks
carefuly at the surroundings and follows Wilam.

“Stupid fricken Orcus with his stupid fricken undead. Stupid fricken missing
villagers. Lord fricken stupid whatever his name can buy me some whiskey when we get
back. That’s for fricken sure, Lich.” After his little rant, Ehud sighs and kicks at
the ground before following Wilich.

Somewhere not so far away, and for reason’s unknown to himself, Varro Smiles.

“I know not what cause you have to smile,” Francis says to his dwarven companion.
“Belimir should not have volunteered to assist with this cemetary issue when we have
so little time to deal with the more pressing issue at the keep.” He fiddles with the
chain armor. It feels like a heavy shirt more than armor.

“Well, friends, should we venture a look? There have been some overturned graves, but
no signs of any living… animated dead.”

The circle glows with a sickly presence, a strong feeling of dread and death
emminante from it.

“Let us advance carefully, these undead may pose a greater threat than mere Kobolds.”

Brann advances to a large rock just inside the gate and lets his divine sense take in
the cemetary.
The uneasy feeling of death and mourning fills you, not uncommon for a graveyard,
especially of this size.

Belimir is not so surprised that the graveyard is empty. “I don`t see anything
strange in this graveyard. It`s a quiet graveyard…….Just the way I like them.
Maybe the villagers were wrong, and the problem isn`t in the graveyard.”

“That’s good thinking, Belimir. Perhaps this is a distraction. These graves are
overturned, that could have been done with a shovel.”

Wilam follows Brann closely.

“And if there’s a spy in Winterhaven who’s aware of our presence… a spy who’s
connected with the cults… the cults who are kidnapping citizens of Winterhaven for
their sacrifices… then they would want to create a distraction in the southern
graveyard, to keep us away from the northern keep where they’ve taken the lost
citizens.” Wilam pauses to consider whether or not his chain of thought was
reasonable.

“But even still, I find this place disturbing. I’m sure I could at least extinguish
the glowing runes before we leave.”

“As a priest of Moradin I am honor bound to rid this place of any evil spirits. We
should investigate thoroughly before drawing any rash conclusions. Let us investigate
this first Tomb.”

Brann looks over tomb from the outside before getting ready to enter.

Wilam moves with Brann.

The shadows are long over the entrances to the crypts, hindering your view of what
might lay inside.

Ehud sighs and heads over to the graveyard.

Wilam stoops and picks up a fist-sized stone from the path. Holding it in his palm,
he lifts it to his lips and speaks a single word, “Φως” The stone ignites in a
bright, pure light. He tosses the stone into the tomb.

Belimir follows Brann and Wilam. “I really don`t think there`s anything in
here. HELLOOOOOOO! ANYBODY HERE! C`MOOOOOON FOLKS. WE`RE HERE TO RESCUE YOU.” He lets the words echo in the empty cemetary before continuing. “See. Nobody here. Now let`s ask that lord a few questions.”

“Just a few more moments, Belimir. I want a closer look at these runes. Such things
should not be left lying around.” Wilam follows the path, further into the cemetery.

“Oh Fine! Let`s see what the runes say. Well. Start reading.”

“Reading runes is very difficult. I’ll need a lot of concentration, so I’ll need you
to keep special watch for us. Use those animal instincts to be ready for anything
that happens.” Wilam hopes that giving the druid a task will keep him busy and
distracted… at least enough to buy himself some time to do something with the runed
area.

Ehud sighs and moves to peek up the stairs into the crypt.

The air grows deathly still as the party moves through the graveyard.
Overturned tombstones dot the landscape, fresh dirt surrounds them.
An ice cold chill courses through the adventurer’s bodies as they pass farther into
the heart of the cemetery.

In an instant, chaos and fear flow through the graveyard, moans and scrapping can be
heard from all around as the dead burst from the soil and crawl from the shadows and
attack!

A small undead army pulls themselves to the surface eager to tear into the flesh of
the living.

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