Monthly Archives: April 2010

SOW Chapter5: Den of the Destroyer

Den of the Destroyer

Wherein gray foreboding stone,
Wanders the small ones all alone?

Where’s the dwarf? The small ones gasp,

While evil waits to kick their ass.

 

Den of the Destroyer, Part II

The battle proceeds on two fronts, in the tight secret tunnel to the west Bingus and Bairdyn cautiously approach the preoccupied gnoll huntsmen as James Enemiesbrings up the rear trailing sparks behind him as the adamantine steed scrapes the walls of the stone tunnel. In the main passage of the fortress, Ramok,Bhenedict, and Jereon face-off against forces including gnolls mounted on slaughterfang hyenas and dire boars and a cadre of additional heavily armed gnolls. Neither group of heroes yet aware of the truly overwhelming forces set against them. An axis of enemies

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Bingus, James and Bairdyn easily overcome the distracted gnoll huntsmen. They fall without making a sound. Within the chamber beyond the arrow slits, the fortress’s occupiers marshal their forces, three leaders meeting within: Gilgathorn, an elven bounty hunter; Kyrion, a shadar-kai weapons master, and Wicked Fang’s Warmaster, an especially large male gnoll armed with a strange exotic looking shadar-kai blade dripping with fresh blood–with them over a half dozen gnoll fighters and a pair of magical white tigers with glowing blue pupiless eyes.

Animated Tigers

This massive chamber still show signs of bas-reliefs, now defaced by the gnolls’ crude vandalization. Several poles are erected to support prisoners strung up like practice dummies. These poles are scattered about the chamber; and from the nearest of which hangs Chen. Across the chamber the wall shows additional dark arrow slits and in the front, center of the chamber bordering a set of barred double doors, two trapdoors stand open, ladders visible within leading down.

GilgathornBingus listens to Gilgathorn as he lifts Chen’s head and tells the barely conscience monk, “You don’t have to die. No one paid me to kill you, so there is no percentage in it. The decision is yours to make. I am here for your friends, my job is to see that they never come back to Overlook and I am very good at my job.”

Then looking towards the tigers, he says "If this one escapes (pointing at Chen) kill him."

 

 

Having seen enough, James calls upon the power of Lord Magus issuing a divine inexorable summons which pulls the bounty hunter through space transporting him into the tunnel where he is flanked by the Clevenger and Bairdyn the rogue.

Bingus steps back trying to avoid the melee then hearing the sound of claws on stone stares southward down the long hall he see a wolf-like creature leaping past the metal horse landing just before him raising a trail of dust as it’s rear claws scrape across the tunnel floor, the creature taking on a man-like form as it lands. Bingus focuses his orb in defense as the monster halts, gutturally yelling between pants,

Notaku, The Wolf

"I am a friend. The Lama Amya sent me! My name is Notaku,” the man said in the common tongue in a deep, gravelly voice, “but most of my kin call me,” and here he changed to Elvish, “the Fanged Wolf.” He paused for a moment before continuing in common. “It is possible you have heard that name before, so I give it here in hopes that you will not turn down my offer, an offer to assist you in ridding this fortress of the vileness that has infected it.”

He stands for a moment, assessing the situation before him, his eyes gazing intently upon the melee. Appraising Notaku, Bingus takes note that he is nearly 7 feet tall, a huge “V” of a man, with enormous shoulders, a broad chest, and colossal muscles bulging against the collection of hides he wore over his groin, waist, thighs, his forearms and draped over his back and shoulders almost like a cloak. The hides don’t quite make it over the man’s chest however, which was mostly bare, ripped with muscles, and riddled with so many long, white, rope-like scars that it was clear that this man had danced with death in his past. Having battle his ilk in the desert sands, the gnome finds himself ill at ease but for lack of a solution he answers, "If you are a friend we could use your assistance."

KyrionAnd with that Notaku leaps past the gnome towards the melee in time to see the shadar-kai racing towards the battle from the tunnel beyond the arrow slits.

Raising his massive axe Notaku attacks. The shadar-kai deftly dodges the blow stepping to the side of the tunnel while slicing at the shifter’s wrists and spinning. The quick action relieves Notaku of his weapon which the shadar-kai, Kyrion catches with one hand while throwing his short sword at the Clevenger. Disarmed the shifter backs away, but too slow as the shadar-kai grips the axe with both hands swinging at an arc parallel to the ground catching Notaku with a heavy blow to his mid-section doubling him over as his blood rains upon the tunnel floor. Looking at the shifter, Kyrion speaks with distain, “I am gravely disappointed…pathetic.”

Surrounded Gilgathorn finds he can’t adequately guard himself as he is attacked from both side. Still he makes a good show of defense while bloodying both the halfling and the young cleric in the fight. They offer the elf the opportunity to surrender but through clenched teeth he says, "I would rather die than fail." And he does both.

Bingus yells to James, "Help the shifter, he is with us."

Seeing Notaku’s plight the Cleavenger calls on Magnus to heal the warrior and, taking advantage of the respite, the shifter grabs a gnoll weapon from the tunnel floor and rises ripping it in the shadar-kai’s side with enough force to lift him from the floor and causing him to stagger backwards. Behind Kyrion a cadre of gnolls approaches, climbing up steps in the tunnel towards the battle. Bingus grasping the situation uses a combination of spells to grease the stairs and the tunnel before using another spell to knock Kyrion off his feet and down the flight of stairs, the shadar-kai falls hard, his neck cracks audibly as he lands on top of the gnolls hard enough to kill one of them as well.

Recovered, Notaku leads a charge down the stairs into the large chamber beyond, followed closely by James. Finishing off the gnolls in the tunnel, he climbs up the ladder to the first trapdoor. Spotting the shifter, the gnolls’ warmaster shouts, "Attack, my dogs of war! No more talk! Go in! We kill! Kill! We kill ’em! They kill us, we kill them! Kill ’em! Kill ’em! Kill! Kill! Killl! ”

Rushing, the other gnolls race to please their master attacking with shadar-kai forged greatswords, but it is soon clear that they are no match for the heroes as they fall indiscriminately to the Cleavenger’s spear and the shifter warden’s axe. Watching pensively the warmaster mutters distractedly, "Be still my wicked fang. I understand your pain.”

Then no longer able to hold back he charges rallying the remaining gnolls and slashing both heroes viciously finishing with a great cleaving arc. Blood pours from a gaping wound as the warmaster’s weapon bites into Notaku’s shoulder slicing clear to the bone. James withdraws to a safe distance summoning Magnus’s healing spirit while Bingus snipes at the gnoll behind the safety of the arrow slits. Fighting for his life Notaku swings back cutting the gnoll, an act the spirit rewards with the blessing of a healing wave. As the battle between the warmaster and the warden progresses the spirit sees that the warden grows stronger as the gnoll is broken down. Throughout the fight, from the far side of the chamber, behind arrow slits, gnoll hunters attack with bows. As the warmaster falls, James and Notaku look toward the savaged monk who hangs suspended on a rough post, still guarded by the two tigers that gaze at him unflichingly.

"I will free him," offers Notaku.

"No, leave him for now, the tigers will attack if he is freed. See to the gnoll archers I will see to the monk." answers James.

Seeking to halt the attacks the warden drops back into the underlying tunnel racing to put an end to the gnoll attacks. As James hears a pounding at the double doors…


Dire BoarSeeing a bevy of opponents, Ramok charged the gnoll mounted on the giagantic boar. The foul creature and its rider both moved with a supernatural grace that was clearly the result of foul rituals. Fetid bugs and vermin surrounded the gnoll and clambered over Ramok as he attacked the gnoll. Suddenly however, the bugs and rats swarm became so huge that it forced Ramok back to where Jeroen and Bhenedict had remained and were fighting the other two gnolls mounted on hyenas.Bloodwalker Hyena

 

Two gnoll archers snipped at them from around the corner while the three warriors fended off blow after blow. One of the hyena riding gnolls backed his mount up and began to charge the dwarf preparing for a devastating attack but at the last moment, Jeroen warped the space in front of the gnoll and it attacked one of it archer allies instead. The gnolls roared in surprise and frustration while the heroes cheered at their good fortune. The heroes good humor was short lived however as the brutal assaults of the ruinous gnolls and their ritualually strengthened beasts proved to be wearing away at the defenders.

These three men were used to taking beatings and the gnolls were giving it to them. The gnolls mounted on the hyena had clearly been enhanced with foul demonic rituals which strengthed them and guided their blows such that their weapons seemed leap at the heroes and eat away at them almost as if they had a will and life of their own and wanted to devour the warriors; no amount of dodging nor armor seemed to protect them from the insatiable appetite of the foul weapons the gnolls wielded.

Each of them paused for a moment to refresh themselves with magical potions to restore their strengths at crutial moments in the battle and they slowly beat back the foul beasts but realized that the better course of action would be to stragegically retreat to gather their strength with the rest of the party who they realized were not far off.

Beastcaller and Bloodwalker

Unfortunately as they began to move off, one of the gnolls blinded Ramok and while Jeroen was able to direct him where to go it was enough of a distraction for the other gnolls to get in a lucky blow on the dwarf and knock him unconscious.

"Ramok, wait here. The dwarf has fallen and I need to go get him, " said Jeroen.

Ramok did as he was told but what passed for thinking in his tired and battered mind wondered why he wasn’t going to get the dwarf since he was supposed to be protecting everyone. Suddenly he heard the changing man call out, "Ramok, help the dwarf…" and he realized he was supposed to be helping.

Leaping back just as his vision was clearing, Ramok poured a healing potion in the dwarf. Helping the dwarf stand with the changing man he said, "Take Changing Man to the God Man, I will guard your back."

The dwarf nodded and replied, "You’re a good man. Come along yourself as soon as we’re around the corner." And started trudging through the mass of gnoll and beast bodies that now littered the floor.

Ramok battled the remaining gnolls with renewed determination as the dwarf rounded the corner and slammed himself and Jeroen into the double doors pouring his lasting healing potion down Jeroen’s throat as he did so. Setting Jeroen to his feet he then bursts through the double doors expecting to face yet more foes.

Instead he saw his companions standing amidst a field of slain enemies. For a moment there was an eerie silence as the chaos of combat came to an abrupt halt and the brigade picked their way thru the

bodies. The brief silence was broken be a cough from Chen as a bit of bloody spittle fell at his feet and

almost immediatly after an arrow came from one of the remaining gnolls hiding behind the arrow slits,

though the arrow struck Bhenedict’s shield it failed to penetrate.

James went to examine Chen and as he did so Bingus and Bairdyn having finished searching the bodies of the leaders of the

gnolls and Bingus had found the figurines that controled the golden lions and thus he was able to free Chen and begin looking to his wounds. The gnolls took a few shots at

James as he went to minster to Chen but Jeroen interposed his body and easily deflected the shots

protecting them both.

Wolf, head sticking out of the tunnel where he had paused before continuing upon hearing the doors battered in, offered, “I shall take care of the archers.”

Bhenedict suggested, “Hold just a moment, let’s see how Chen is doing first. We may just be able to leave here

and not need to worry about them.”

As James worked on setting the broken bones in Chen’s leg and arms he prayed to the gods and summoned

healing magics to try to assist with the healing process, but the magics seemed to have no effect on the

injured man.

Jeroen commented, “I have seen similar effects on the battlefields in the past. We used to call it

Gloomrot.”

On hearing the term, Bingus added, “If that is Gloomrot, then Chen is going to need more healing that we

can provide here. That is a curse supposedly utilized by the shadar-kai as a way of punishing their

enemies and strenghening themselves in the shadowfell. It can only be removed by the use of ritual. I

might be able to attempt it, but to be honest I’d be more likely to injure you or maybe even kill you as

cure you. We’d be better off getting you to a ritualist trained in healing rituals. In the meantime James’

healing magic will have little to no effect on him.”

James finished his ministrations and concluded, “I agree. I’ve done the best that I can to set his bones

so that they will heal properly given time. But magic is having no effect on the healing.”

ChenChen tried to stand but winced in pain and nearly passed out, “its okay…i can..i can make it…”

The dwarf shook his head, “No friend, you can’t. We can’t leave him here defenseless. Ramok can carry

you.” As soon as he said it he realized that Ramok was not with them immediately he looked back at the

tunnel from which they had come and started moving. As he did so Bhenedict called for Bairdyn to follow

him as Ramok had not followed them into the chamber and must need assistance joining them and the two of

them returned to the hallway the dwarf had recently rescued Jeroen from.

As they went to rescue Ramok, Wolf and Bingus entered the tunnel to deal with the gnolls who continued to

pepper the brigade with irritating arrow shots. So long as they were not dealt with the brigade would not

be able to rest. Bingus entered the tunnel to aid the large shifter and within a few moments the arrow

fire had stopped and soon the gnolls were on the run and the two heroes were in hot pursuit.

Suddenly a call from the other hall, Bhenedict’s voice rang out strong and demanding, “James, get over

here! Ramok is down and doesn’t look good. There are prisoners who are fighting the gnolls and we need to

help them.” James immediately started to move himself and his healing spirit in the direction of the dwarf

and his downed ally.

At first it seemed as if Jeroen would join him but then Jeroen stopped and returned to Chen. Jeroen walked

over to Chen and proping him up on his shoulder began to walk him out of the chamber back down the passage

way toward the secret door.

Chen tried to speak, “Jeroen…what…where?” Jeroen continued on in stoic, mysterious silence but there

was a confidence in his demeanor that Chen trusted.

As they walked down the hallway Jeroen put his gear into his ubiquitous sack. When they reached the portal

room he took out some other equipment from the sack including perhaps most oddly a bowler hat and an

umbrella.

Using raw residium he made some symbols over the runes on one of the portals. He then began a ritual and

within a few minutes the portal began to glow and soon the portal view shimmered and the scene shifted and resolved to display a

grand city with a temple or similar structure most prominent which then focused more clearly upon a teleportation circle set in a courtyard in the front of the building.

He spoke quickly as he helped Chen through the now active portal, “We only have a few moments while the

portal is repurposed. This will take you to the Great Library in Palanthas. My name is Yu Gnuf. I am the

Assistant Head Librarian there. Mention my name and that you have been assisting with the Great Unrest in

the Circle Gate Moutains and they will assist you. They will be able to treat the Gloomrot. Tell them I

will return soon.”

Yu’s eyes rolled up in their sockets so that only the whites were showing and his voice took on an

otherworldly quality as he continued, “Seek out the Monastary of the Seven Coins.

There you will find Master Bay Chim Hoang Yen. Ask for the Mark of Con Rong. Be warned however

that he will not give it to you freely and you must prove your worth to him.”

His eyes and voice resuming their normal tenor he concluded, “May the Lords’ blessings be upon you.” So

saying he tipped his hat and bowed slightly. As Chen watched Yu thru the portal Yu said a mystical word

and the portal shut down.

Yu took a few moments to finish dressing himself until he felt more comfortable. Then said to himself,

“This is not when I want to be here and I certainly won’t find any good tea here.”

Yu GnufWhen the brigade eventually regrouped in the chamber they were missing some of their team. Ramok was dead

and even James was unsure if a ritual would be strong enough to restore their friend, but they were hopeful that when they returned to town they would be able to restore him. Chen and Jeroen were

missing. When James, Bairdyn, Bhenedict and Max had first returned to the chamber Bingus and Wolf were

also missing but they showed up within less than a minute of the others reporting that the gnolls had fled

and that they had discovered another passageway that led to a barred door that had a warning written in

Abyssal saying that it was “haunted” probably put there by the gnolls.

While they were discussing their plans and what had become of their missing companions and if they should search for Jeroen and Chen as no one knew what had become of them, they searched the bodies one last time to make sure that they had not missed anything and found some gold coins they had missed earlier on one of the gnolls. They cleared a path through the room in case they needed to make a quick passage through the room and as they were doing so Jeroen finally returned alone, though he was dressed in a manner different from any garb he

had yet been seen in.

As he entered the chamber he straightened his coat and tie and Bhenedict shook his head and mumbled,

“suicide carried off many…drink and the devil done in the rest…”

James blurted out, “Jeroen…why did you change your clothes and where are your weapons? And where is

Chen?”

Wolf added, “Why do you smell…prissy?”

Bingus put the last of Ramok’s things into the pack that Bhenedit was going to carry and a bit of the sadness that was on his face faded as he looked up and smiled at his new friend , “I don’t think we’ve met you yet, who are you?”

The man who was Jeroen walked over to the body of Ramok and bending down on one knee, started crying softly and looking at Ramok’s body said so quietly that it was hard for even Bingus to hear, "It has been many years little baby. You did well and have honored your parents. Take your rest now and dream, Ramok." As he said Ramok’s name, Bingus wasn’t sure if he imagined it or if it really happened but for just a moment Ramok’s eyes seemed to flutter open but then they closed again back in the eternal sleep of death.

Max looked shocked said, "Master Gnuf! What are you doing here?"

Yu stood and tipped his hat and replied, “Greetings friends. It is good to see you again. I am Yu, Yu Gnuf.”

As he said his name, the others each realized that they too recognized him:

Yu Know A Gnuf: (forum links)