Monthly Archives: November 2008

SOW Chapter1: Tales from the Crypt part 2

Tales from the Crypt part 2

O Fortune
Like the Moon
You are Changable

Tales from the Crypt

Among Hobgoblins patience is an uncommon virtue, and less common still in Sinruth. Having heard nothing he rises to his feet, standing near 7 feet tall, large even for a Hobgoblin standing better than 7-feet in his jackboots. The cruelly crafted boots, sharpened and pointed had ended uncounted lives beneath Sinruth’s well-placed heels. The sound of Sinruth’s steps, metal on stone echo through the hall as Sinruth paces toward the audience chamber. Opening the door to mayhem, blood and gore; four dead Hobgoblins, the Goblin, Dozx lying on the stone floor, his blood pooling beneath Sinruth’s boots and the drakes, heads severed, melting in their own spittle. Reckless at the best of time, motivated by vengeance and fueled of seething hatred, the Hobgoblin leading surveys the carnage spotting a clear trail of bloodied footprints exiting the chamber towards the halls of Rivenroar’s honor guard. The guard, a shambling quartet of stinking dead, two ghouls and two zombies controlled three chambers, the chambers that screened the a second audience chamber that housed the undead Lords of the crypt. These chamber off limit all but the death worshipping Gnomes and their Wererat bodyguards not the Sinruth cared … rage now is only master.

Traveling quietly the party moves through the north door to an intersection beyond which they see a stairway heading downward which leads to a chamber with a pool. At the intersection they can turn either to the left or the right, both directions leading to doubled doors 20-feet beyond the intersection. Trusting to Bhenedict’s Dwarven sense of direction they follow him to the doors on the right. Opening the doors they see a 40-foot square chamber. The south wall filled with alcoves filled with the skeletal remains of Rivenroar’s dead, to their left a 15-foot wide, pillar-line great hall and direction to the party’s front the room a small annexed chamber housing a fountain within a smallish boy of less than 10-years struggles tied, cold and wet as he is jeered by horrific fleshing eating undead – the ghouls, with the zombies at their rear between the ghouls and the party.

Reacting with a speed born of a hunger unknown to living men, the ghouls charge before any of the party can react locking in on Bhenedict and Jeroen. The ghoul’s filthy claws ripping at their flesh the warriors find their muscles locking in unwelcome rigor freezing them in their steps. Bairdyn hesitates, giving Jimmy an opening to forcefully present the holy symbol of his lord Bahamut forcing the ghouls to retreat several paces even as the zombies take their place. Bathed in Jimmy’s holy fervor, both Bhenedict and Jeroen find they can move again and taking the opportunity engage the zombies in a fight for their lives. Watching the ghouls Eoffram catches the closest of them within the dire radiance of his new wand. Distracted as they are no one hear the less than stealth approaching of the enraged Hobgoblin Chieftain Sinruth. Forgetting the bloody prints, Sinruth races to the sounds of the battle finding himself the rear of the party behind the two rescued prisoners. Swinging his heavy 15-foot chain he catches Zerriksa high, ripping her off her feet. Zerriksa, stunned, lands before Sinruth. Counting the number of his quarry the Chieftain tramples the old woman ending her struggles as he moves for the cover of the downward stair toward the room with the pool. Jalissa realizing the threat involuntarily steps back between Bairdyn and Eoffram leaving small Bairdyn alone to pursue the Hobgoblin. Recklessly charging, Bairdyn strikes at Sinruth spinning the giant Hobgoblin back towards the intersection. Again the great chain swings wrapping Bairdyn in a crippling embrace. Trapped Bairdyn cannot resist as without pause Sinruth drags the Halfling in with a single arm lifting Bairdyn off his feet only to hurl him to the ground. Dazed, Bairdyn feels the air rush from him as Sinruth crushes the consciousness out of his body, fading black as Sinruth’s boot meet his skull. Limp Sinruth hurls the bloody Halfling down the stairs. So quickly is the fight over that Eoffram barely has time to spin and raise his wand but seeing his friend fall gives Eoffram renewed abandoned as he seeks to save his friend. Moving forward, Eoffram conceals himself in a magical aura while targeting a bedeviling bolt of mystic energy at the Hobgoblin. Freed the attentions of the warlock the ghouls renew their assault upon the party’s warriors while Jimmy races to aid the fallen.

Battling without quarter Eoffram attacks Sinruth while Bhenedict and Jeroen see to the undead. The pair of fight had already destroyed the zombies, Jeroen suffering minor injury. Together they make short work of the more injured of the two ghouls before splitting Jeroen with the remaining ghoul while Bhenedict charged the Hobgoblins. Thanks to the distraction of Eoffram, Jimmy is able to administer to both Zerriksa and Bairdyn staunching their bleeding and sparing their lives. Playing a game of cat and mouse Eoffram harries Sinruth with spell after spell suffering through Sinruth’s counter attack long enough for Bhenedict to arrive. Seconds later, trapped and outnumbered, Sinruth falls to the combined might of Bhenedict, Eoffram and Jimmy while Jeroen is finishes the second ghoul. Broken but not defeated the party stands victorious among the fallen … Sinruth the target of their wrath, dead at their hands. Recognizing the stolen iron gauntlets on Sinruth’s meaty fists, the Dwarf rips them from his body and then with pause picks up Bairdyn’s fallen dagger and separates Sinruth’s head from his body.

 


SOW Chapter1: Tales from the Crypt part 1

Tales from the Crypt part 1

O Fortune
Like the Moon
You are Changable

Tales from the Crypt

As night falls in the Vale, Sinruth lays in his abode upon a dire bear fur that serves as his bedding lay carefully over the crypt which is his bed. The filthy cover the skin of a bear he had slain in single combat with his own spiked chain. I the fire light he examines his most favored trophy … the ornate, gilded dragoncrest helm he recently stole from the ‘Hall of Great Valor’ in Brindol.

With bloodlust still raging in his veins he spins the helm looking as it shines in the fire light … like a thing alive, he thinks … a first victory as he fulfills his every dream of conquest and greatness. Sinruth reveals in the memory of ripping the helm from the weak grip of the old man, Sertanian, the caretaker of the Hall of Great Valor; how representative he was of the weakness of man. How appauled Sinruth felt … embarrassed that such a pathetic soft race had dominated the Goblins so thoroughly these past 10 years, all the time swearing inside that now this would change!

Then suddenly … the screech of the shrieker mushrooms gives rise to the fact that all may not be right … could there be trouble? Or more likely had one the the stupid drakes tried to eat one the mushrooms trigging yet another false alarm?

Down in the mushroom chamber, Eoffram scrambled to his feet, alone in the dark where he had fallen upon moist unyielding earth and stone.

mushroom chamber mapUnable to see anything but dark shadows before him, he heard the uneasy sound of claws scraping upon stone … but finding not but a squishy fleshy wet footing he fell to knees again upon the slippery surface ran like water beneath him setting off a cacophony of shrill screeching from right next to him so loud that he could not hear Jimmy yelling to him from above.

Jimmy having witnessed Eoffram’s failed attempted to leap over the pit in the hall raced to his aid fearing the worst, calling out to Bhenedict as he ran. Peering downward Jimmy sees nothing in the darkness so yelling for the torch he calls to Eoffram as he lowers the rope when the sudden screeching stuns him. Quickly arriving Bhenedict and Bairdyn peered down the pit and seeing that Eoffram was alive yell to him to climb the rope. Eoffram tries but in his frantic hurry he can find no purchase upon the rope as he scans the deep shadows of the chamber. Yelling Eoffram calls to Jimmy to drop the torch. Jeroen seeing the counselor’s plight pulls out the sunrod they had activated and without hesitation jumps down into the darkness to help his friend.

Now in the light of the torch the chamber is illuminated revealing a large room filled with debris, and amidst the ruins there are all sorts of mushrooms, mostly with brown or gray caps but intermixed with red-caps and other colors but most frightening, the dancing flame reveals the sudden rush of two large drakes, their hide thick red and spiky, with a large bony frill and a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth! Drawing deep breaths the friends watch as the drakes move steadily forward, each the size of a giant crocodile moving not in some mad rush, but tactfully … great beasts stalking their prey but then again it also appeared as if they were avoiding some of the mushrooms within the cavernous chamber. As they took in the sight, Bhenedict slid down the rope to aid the beleaguered men.

Moving quickly, Eofrfram and Bhenedict takes lead in front of the injured Eoffram. However, in his rush to defend Eoffram, Bhenedict triggers yet another mushroom, this one, brown and with the luck of the blessed the mushroom reacts by releasing a cloud of spores that serves to conceal the friends from the approaching drakes masking the area in the thick standing cloud … giving them a respite from the ravages of the drakes. Slowed but undetered by the cloud the drakes continue pressing as Eoffram frantically struggles with the rope. Watching from above Bairdyn’s mind is made-up and slides down the rope he pushed off the way and swung out over and behind the drakes. From above Jimmy begins calling down the wrath of his god and blasts the creatures with divine radiance.

Immediately a full scale battle breaks out as together the friends battle against the horned rage drakes, each monstrous lizard as large as a small horse and they as savage as any reptile the party had ever seen – more savagely as the battle wore on, excited by the blood and the fury of the moment. Pushing for all he is worth Bhenedict drive the larger lizard backward until it stumbles backward awkwardly upon one of the gray-capped mushrooms and it is immediately caught up in a cloud of a poison spores. Blinded and in pain the drake begins thrashing upon the ground causing yet more spores to be released. Taking advantage the adventurers land blow after blow until finally the beast lies dead on the chamber floor and then together they fight off the remaining drake.

Recovering they look about the chamber seeing two sets of doubled doors on the east wall and one upon the south. Bhenedict, the Dwarf states with confidence that the south door will lead to, the chamber of the flame unbound that they had first entered when they found the crypts and suggests searching the beyond the east door before they exit through the south. After seeing to the parties injured the acolyte Jimmy agrees and they carefully make their way to the east door after searching the chamber in vain for any of Brindol’s stolen treasures.

Beyond the east door they find a small L-shaped chamber, within which they spy an old woman within a glowing circle … “Zerriksa, is that you?” asks Jereon. 

In a weak voice she cries out: “Get me out of here,” and then stronger … “No, stay away!” 

Confused they stare at the obviously frightened woman, clearly she wants to be saved yet obviously she fears their approach. Guessing that the circle was a trap, Bairdyn takes careful note that the circle seems to be flicking in and out as if its magical energies wane and wax. Guessing the he can time it, he offers: “Let me try and get her!” – “No you fool Halfling … you will only get us both kille… .” But, before she can finish the statement Bairdyn reaches in with the speed of a serpent pulling Zerricksa free from the circle. Shocked and relieved she slaps at Bairdyn, “Fool Halfling … you could have killed us both … my thanks and a curse upon you!. Now let us leave this god-forsaken crypt!”

Jeroen answers, “There are yet other prisoners to find.” 

“Ye should not waste your time further … enough blood is shed, the others are no doubt dead,” answers Zerriksa.

“And what makes you say so?” asks Bhenedict.

“At least two days past the Hobgoblins showed me Keatenix’s body half-eaten and covered with webbing. And yesterday a Gnome brought me the boy Thurann and threatening to carve a new mouth into the boy’s throat so that he can bleed out sins to their death god!” replies the old crone.

Jimmy, concern growing in his face, says, “Friends we must act without further delay to find the others … our presence here in now surely noted.”

“So my rescue is to be conducted by a party of fools then …better I was in the circle place me back you twice damned little river rat!”

Bhenedict replies, “No … though we might live to regret it we have been tasked with your rescue so keep you mouth shut and fall in line. You can leave soon enough when we climb the Southern stair. The chamber beyond exits this place. There you can decide then to wait outside with the other mules or you can come with us the choice is yours.”

“Just like you kind to try and feed an old woman to the wolves! You won’t be getting rid of me so easily. I would turn you into the pig if you weren’t one already … I was better off with the Gnomes.”

Sinruth glared down the hall and rising from his bear fur, he donned his spiked plate armor. The spikes, some longer than six inches covering the upper torso, arms and shoulders of the massively muscled Hobgoblin then reverently he places his carefully painted tunic, a downward facing fist on a white background marking the return of the Red Hand, never knowing that he had inverted the symbol of the conquering Hobgoblin army. If there were intruders present he would find them, and finding them he would make them pay! Replacing the dragoncrest helm upon the crypt that served as his bed, Sinruth completed his outfitting by donning the iron gauntlets he had stolen from the Hall of Great Valor then charging into the Von Adrez-Kauthin crypt he barked out orders to Dozx the Hexer, Sinruth’s Goblin 2nd in Goblin command: “Huun or ac ghalaan kaarthec, Rhaan togaan khruukaan agaan taakhec ac dar ach agaan haakhagaal dhuur rhakhaan!” <Go out and make ready. Be sure none are sleeping and that all are prepared for battle!>

04

Gathering their thoughts, the party agreed it would be best to travel back to the main chamber, through the Goblin warren, over the pitted hallway and to see what lied beyond carefully avoiding the horrific creature they had spotted in the triangular-shaped portal room.

Proceeding quietly as possible given the near constant whining and complaints of Zerriksa they find the Rivenroar family crypt. Five Hobgoblins standing ready amidst four stone sarcophagi in the chamber, a side chamber to the east which features two marble altars and a spiral iron-wrought staircase ascends in an alcove to the north.

A fast hard battle ensues, neither side gives way or hesitates to strike and quickly The Hobgoblin surround Bhenedict and he is happy for it; striking with abandon bringing down Hobgoblins on either side while allowing the other party members to take advantageous positions for the battle. As the battle rages Eoffram spots reinforcements descending from the spiral stair sprays them in eldritch fire. The reinforcements, a Hobgoblin soldier and a guard drake joined the battle but already the Hobgoblin grunts are falling to Bhenedict’s charge and their archer is harried by Bairdyn and Jereon. The battle ends almost as quickly as it had started with all the Hobgoblins dead.

06Together the party searches through the chamber taking their time as is necessary, all the time keeping an eye out for more guards. As the others busy themselves with the search, Bhenedict, the Dwarf climbs the spiral stair, finding a large landing covered in furs and bedrolls and a number of sacks and rucksacks leaned against the walls of the small room. Below Jimmy examines the altars finding them to be rededicated—now honoring Bane, the Goblin god of hatred, fear and tyranny. The others busy themselves with the sarcophagi but find the lids too heavy to move until they start working together as they cautiously remove the lids one after another, finding the southern sarcophagi empty but within in the north most pair they find a sword, a wand and an amulet. Jeroen takes the sword in hand and announces that he believe he might somehow be able to identify the items magical properties if any such exist. Grasping the sword indeed, Jeroen, feels the stirrings of some previously unrealized arcane knowledge … taking the sword in hand he senses magic within the blade, the magic of luck. Worn by the experience Jeroen realized that he must rest before he works with the other items. So they divide up the items; Bairdyn taking the amulet and Eoffram the wand. Testing the wand’s function Eoffram senses radiance, dire radiance; with a wave the wand produces a shaft of brilliant, cold burning starlight that lances down from unseen powers of the sky. Used against a foe such an excruciating light would surely cause intense pain and somehow Eoffram knew that the nearer his enemy might move towards him, the brighter and more deadly the light would become. Realizing that they had taken up too much time here, Bhenedict says, “There is a passage in the chamber at the top of the stair we should not tarry here any longer.” 

08With the Dwarf leading the way, they travel up the spiral stair and down the hall to the west until it turns south ending in a doubled door. Opening the door beyond he sees a landing covered in spider-webs and realizes too late that the floor is already sticky beneath his boots and on the landing before Bhenedict sees a trio of ettercaps shuffling around barring their passage through the chamber and horrifically he spies a body lied beyond cocooned upon the wall!
Immediately Bhenedict yells out a warning calling once more calling for a quick retreat but this time too late as webs cover the party and the hall beyond trapping them in its clinging embrace. To the rear of the party, only Eoffram and Zerriksa escape the webbing and only because they are yet too far back and around the bend of the hall to be caught in the webs. Moving reflectively, without though Eoffram fires his new found wand against the lead Ettercap halting its progress while the remaining two Ettercaps move against Bhenedict and Jeroen. Try as they might the Ettercaps find no purchase against the well armored pair of adventurers. Seizing the opportunity Bairdyn deftly works at the webbing with his dagger and quickly escaping he moves through the hall and into the Ettercap’s chamber seeking a position of advantage against the Ettercap. Spotting the Halfling the largest Ettercap, a web-spinner, snares Bairdyn tightly and approaches, poison dripping from its distended fangs! Thoroughly laced in webs Bairdyn struggles in vain as the fangs sink deep sending a gush of poison through his body … a sudden race of biting heat and pain locking his muscles in a tight rigor. The Ettercap, a hideous combination of arachnid and man showed the Halfling with its fetid breath before lashing out with a viciously spiked spear, thrusting the spikes into Bairdyn’s soft flesh. Seeing his friend struggle, Bhenedict and Jeroen find strength enough to pull themselves free of the webbing, and with Eoffram’s help they overpower the two ettercaps in a sudden deadly offensive. Freed at last, Jimmy calls out a heartfelt prayer to Paladine asking his god to fortify failing the health of his worthy friend Bairdyn. And finally, together they charge the last ettercap who retreats into the deeper webs but outnumbered it is no match for the party. Injured yet unbroken together Bhenedict and Jeroen bring the monster down.

After the battle is ended Bhenedict carefully crosses the chamber to examine the body grotesquely pinned upon the wall in a corner of the chamber. The unfortunate is quickly identified found to be the corpse of Kartenix, Captain of the Brindol Guard; his face a mask of pain and suffering, dead eyes bulging grotesquely swollen within their sockets. Below the body, Kartenix’s armor lies about on the floor of the chamber as if it had been quickly peeled from him like the skin off an orange. Kartenix’s chest reveals horrid marks where the trio of half-spiders had fed upon him leaving a trail of oozing rotted puss. Finding the armor a whole and workable, a finely crafted suit of scalemail, quality easily surpassing the armor he wore; the Dwarf reverently, quietly picks-up the pieces donning the armor in memory of his fallen friend, silently promising the he would not leave this place until he had avenged the good Captain. Within the spider’s lair there is another upward leading stairway on the west wall of the chamber … having changed and with new determination Benedict lead the way. Behind him moaning, Zerriksa exclaims, “I told you they were dead! Dead and rotting just like we will be before you are done if we do not leave this place. Will you be happy until we are all dead and stinking just like Kartenix.”

Jimmy calls. “Wait! We cannot leave Kartenix here … we must take his remains back to Brindol.”

“Do you suppose they will still be giving us the reward?” asks Bairdyn.

“That matters not;” replies Jimmy, “we cannot leave his body in this cursed place.” 

Brow-furrowed, Eoffram says, “This is none of your fault. I will see to it that you are paid in full … any fault lies with these fell creatures and the insipid delays of the Council of Brindol that stalled any course of action. Let us ferry this hero’s remains and see this work finished promptly.”

“You mean we need to carry his stinking corpse with us?” screeches the croon Zerriksa in disbelief.

“Hold you tongue witch;” answered Jereon, “and be glad that we are not leaving you. I will carry Kartenix.”

Steely-eyed and focused, Sinruth’s personal honor guard stands watch above the party at the top of stairway leading from the Ettercap lair. This, the Rivenroar audience chamber is the only approach to the upper crypts which house not only Sinruth but also the undead Lord of Rivenroar, a fact that assured the invaders would past this way if they survived the lower crypts. Dozx, a Goblin Hexer, serving as Sinruth’s 2nd in command had heard the alarm and saw to it that the guards were focused. He even lending the support of his own prized pair of spitting drakes to the retinue of Hobgoblin guards posted in the chamber before returning to his own lair, a crypt located off the west wall of the Rivenroar audience chamber.

Hearing the sure sounds of battle from below, the four Hobgoblin guards tensed and flexed tightening their grips upon their flails. For the most part all Hobgoblins were fearsome and unafraid but the Ettercaps below made even them uncomfortable. The Ettercaps endear a certain loathing in almost any living creature, but the Hobgoblins distaste of half-spiders was not as great as their unwillingness to disappoint Sinruth. Sinruth did not tolerate failure and surely his wrath would surpass anything the Ettercaps could muster.

Among the defenders only Dozx doubted … given half a chance he would run. Fool’s undertaking to listen to a Gnome, thought Dozx … and a fool’s charge to tempt the wrath of men. Silently he peered through the crack between the doors that separated his lair from the audience chamber and waited for the interlopers to arrive.

As guttural sounds, footsteps and half-whispers rise from the stairway alerting the Hobgoblins they see the Dwarf leading the others up the stair and charge. Prepared, Bhenedict swings his hammer taking the first Hobgoblin out at the knees and the second with a blow to the head with one great arcing swing. Seizing the moment Jereon summons a wave of lightning that rips the remaining Hobgoblin forcing them backwards and clearing space for the others … how he manages the feat as much a mystery to Jereon as the others; the power coming to him from a place he cannot remember. Among the defenders only the dane-sized drakes stand firm as they fearlessly strike at first one target and then another, in a cunning display; their spittle, a drenching hail of thick tar-like acidic spittle – crippling and painful.

Watching from his crypt Dozx watches as all too quickly the Hobgoblins fall … “I must warn Sinruth … Sinruth must come now!, he thinks before making a desperate charge knowing that he must cross the audience chamber to alert Sinruth. As the party struggles against the drakes; Dozx springs through the doors while summoning a vexing cloud of concealing vapors to mask his progress. Darting through the chamber, his goal the 40-foot distance to Sinruth’s to the door which leads to Sinruth’s lair but immediately his path is barred by Jereon. Pausing, Dozx hurls a blinding curse upon the tall man while simultaneously shifting to the side and reaches out desperately for Sinruth’s door, only inches from his grasp – denied as suddenly Dozx is snatched and spun away at knife point by the agile rogue, Bairdyn and before he can move Dozx dies.

Having handily defeated the Hobgoblins the group pauses taking stock of their progress while 250 feet beyond the audience chamber, past three sets of stout doubled doors, Sinruth hears nothing but his own heavy breathing – his thoughts awash in his dreams of conquest and glory. The battle had been taxing but the adventurers were yet in good-stead thanks in large part to the many blessings Jimmy’s faith. It was Jimmy’s fidelity to his beliefs which gave him the ability to see to the well-being of his friends. As the others rest, ever-vigilant Bhenedict cautiously enters the Goblin’s lair where he spies the beautiful maiden, Jalissa limp and cruelly shackled to the wall. Rushing to her side he finds that shackles locked and her wrists worn raw. Startled, her eyes spring open locking on the Dwarf, tears of relief gushing.

Bhenedict calls out to Baidyn, “We have need of your skills rogue.”

Already searching the dead Goblin, Bairdyn replies, “I have found a key.”

Sure enough, the key fits perfectly, successfully unlocking the shackles and the poor girl collapses into Bhenedict’s strong arms. Weak as Jalissa is, she clings frantically to Bhenedict who try as might finds that he is unable to easily separate from the frightened girl. Trying to calm her, Bhenedict watches as her hot tears flow, highlighting the girl’s beautiful almond eyes and forging paths born of her relief, the pathway of Jalissa’s salvation, part fear and part joy leaving lines through the dirt and grime sullying girl’s angelic face. Feeling a sudden, unwelcome stirring … Bhenedict pushes her back, perhaps too hard and growing red-cheeked says, “Please girl, get a hold of yourself … do you know anything of the others?”

Looking down at Bhenedict, voice a quiver, she answers, “Thurann is somewhere near. I heard his shout not long ago, perhaps within the past hour … until recently we were held together. I might not have survived this without him.”

“Then we must be about finding him, follow behind us. We will get you out when we find the others.”

As he turns to take lead, Jalissa grasps Bhenedict again clinging to his shoulder and huddling close behind him. Trying to dissuade her he stand firm, “You will be safer to the rear.” Seeing doubt in her face, a shadow born of fear—the fear of abandonment—he waivers before insisting, “Stay back with Jimmy and Eoffram, and don’t worry I won’t let anything happen to you.”