The Grand Cathedral
Trolls and other foes
Bring the party many woes
A retreat is called
The Grand Cathedral
Their foes fallen, Bhenedict looks about uneasy. Normally at times like this he would turn to James for healing and advise. The boy was hot-headed of that there was no denying but to go down like this … it wasn’t what anyone would expect. Maybe Bairdyn was the heart of their little group but James … James was their soul and often times their savior as well. It was by accident and misfortune that they found themselves here without him, and when last they saw him he had fallen alone against the massed guardians of the sepulcher; he had certainly down and likely he had been killed. The memory of James being dragged away by the chains burned in Bhenedict’s chest. There could be no doubt they had to get back. James would not have hesitate to come to their aid … and he deserved no less!
Looking back to their point of entry on the western side of the south wall Benedict sees the figurine of the adamantine horse sadly lying on its side next the chamber door where Maxyzne had dropped it. Bhenedict walks over to pick it up easily tipping it upright, but strangely he finds the figurine is too heavy for him to lift. Frustrated he asks for help but try as they might no one in Benedict’s party can lift the figure, not even when they try working together.
Disgruntled Bennie opens the door they had entered from, the same door that had led them here from the sepulcher. Opening the door, once again the turbulent lights of the portal are revealed. Staring hard through the dancing lights Bennie can catch glimpses of the sepulcher beyond but as he tries to reach through he finds the way is blocked, barred by an invisible barrier. Bennie’s frustration growing, he pounds the portal to no affect. Pausing, he looks to the three other doorways in the chamber as well as the opening on the east wall, the one likely created by the cave-in that was clearly evidenced by the damage on that side of the chamber … Bhenedict determines that they must check every exit.
Looking about the chamber is easy, it being brightly illuminated by the fires carved into the two reliefs and the statue, which glows with a magical light. The broken passage in the east, however, is very dark. Checking the doorways on the west wall and on the eastern end of the south wall the party finds they are also magical portals, both leading to other dwarven temples, the first one leads to Thunderhold and the second to Icehome … both blocked of these portal are also blocked by invisible barriers. Fixed in the center of the south wall they found the door locked and secure … this door having been built to provide access to the surface from the High Cleric Tower, but now it too was on no use blocked by arcane lock, damage or both … maybe even the very same water they had used to flood the dwarven tunnels when the used the Nexus to secure the tunnels (but Bhenedict doubted that could have reached this far). The dark broken passage on the east wall looks foreboding and unlikely to provide an exit but Bhenedict searches it anyhow finding that it wraps around leading back to the doors on the north wall of the chamber, of these the main double door leading north appear the most promising but there is another small westward leading door.
Opening the north door reveals a fifteen foot wide hall which extends approximate forty feet to another set of double doors. As these doors are opened a vast chamber is revealed. The members of the Brigade had all seen keeps smaller than the vast chamber opening before them. Roughly oval in shape, save for the crumbling walls to the east, the chamber consists of multiple levels. Stairs in the room’s center, as well as great sweeping ramps around the sides, climb to the second level twenty feet above.One of those ramps, the one on the east side of the cathedral is partly collapsed along with the walls. Steeps stairs and slopes lead from there to a third level, and a platform not unlike the one in the temple’s entry chamber stands high atop that. Huge chunks of wall and stone stand along the broken edge, forming natural ledges,and a deep crevice runs a jagged path to the southeast. There are several high platforms formed of broken stone, these are also on the east side of the chamber. Part of the second tier of the cathedral creates an overhang on the north-end of first level and below the ramps on either side of the cathedral … this overhang covering two small doors on the north wall of the first level.
Glancing about the chamber the party sees another of the vile, bestial-looking dwarves hiding in the lee of the stairs, and above, you spot several insectoid-featured humanoids, some wearing odd looking hats or crowns made of a variety of materials such as antlers; these creatures are perched high upon the ledges atop the broken columns of stone.
The closest of these plays a shrill note on a pipe launching a strange winged dart, something like an insect. The thing buzzes at Bhenedict dashing past his shield to pierce the dwarf dazing him with its vicious sting. Staggered, Bhenedict takes a half-step backwards. Wolf is then targeted by an elderich blast from the sly gully dwarf; again as the powerful living energy strikes and fills Notaku before spewing from his body causing the party to separate and seek cover.
Suddenly from the numerous hidden shadows and cervices within the chamber more foes appear—twisted gray humanoids roughly the size of halflings, lurking around the various corners these come at the party racing with tremendous speed, striking with twined blades, slicing and running away before the party can react.
Responding, Shaden adopts a defensive posture on the main floor of the cathedral. Maxyzne and Wolf take to the broken ramp on the east side of the chamber; Bairdyn and Bingus look for cover, and Bhenedict tries to move the gully dwarf charges swing a ridiculously large hammer batting Bhenedict into off his feet and into the southern wall where he falls to the ground.
The quicklings come at them again dancing through the Brigade’s defensive line and viciously attacking both Bairdyn and Bingus, while two others circle about Shaden attacking from all sides, a fifth quickly stands back directing the others using a high-pitched elven dialect. As the fast moving quicklings pull out of the range of the Brigade’s melee attacks Bingus reaches within his poach withdrawing a handful of sand which he casts at the quicklings while voicing an enchantment upon the sand; the sand explodes bursting into a cloud over the quicklings and as the cloud drift upon them they stagger noticeably.
Elsewhere Maxyzne runs, leaps and climbs on one of the columns of broken stone which rises twenty feet above the cathedral floor. There she faces off with the first of the three banshrae, unconcerned the creature waits impassively, then interrupts the half-orc’s thoughts the thing’s voice evading her mind:
(You may jump or fly but fight and you will die.)
Unimpressed she strikes at the creature which dodges easily, efficiently, standing its ground, reacting with an outward striking of its own, an open palm into Maxyzne’s midsection. She involuntarily collapses inward, losing all her air, her heart skipping a beat … stunned she staggers backward, stepping off the broken platform, she falls just catching the edge avoiding the long fall to the ground.
As Wolf struggles to find a clear path up the broken ramp a second banshrae staggers him with another living dart from atop a second column of stone further back than the first. Shaden takes advantage of Bingus’s sleep spell finally catching-up to the first of the speedy quicklings killing the creature as it staggers about struggling against the gnome’s spell. Another quickling collapses, at the half-orc’s feet, losing consciousness overpowered by spell, and still another attempts to hide but not before Bairdyn spots it cringing beneath the curved ramp. Two other quickling, those that recovered from the gnome’s spell, turn infuriated by gnome’s magic, racing after Bingus who turns and runs back into the entry hall hoping the quicklings won’t follow. Next to the main door Bhenedict and the slystone dwarfling trade blows, neither gaining any clear advantage in their reckless melee.
Still recovering from the banshrae’s attack, Wolf rises and begins to climb the rock column using the column as to provide cover from the second attacker. Atop the column, the first banshrae steps away from Maxyzne and begins dancing allowing Maxyzne to regain her footing. As she stands the strange creature sweeps back without interrupting the flow of its dance its leg lifts snaps high, gracefully connecting with Maxyzne’s head, with astonishing force; obviously toying with the half-orc the vicious blow echos throughout the chamber, her chin that almost spinning her head fully backwards, Maxyzne collapses like a puppet with its strings cut, exactly where she had stood.
Deep at the high-end of the cathedral a deafening boom rings out over the chamber, echoing
through the vastness. Once, twice, three times, and then everyone in the chamber hears the sudden crash of shattering wood rebounding off old stone. At the same time with a finally effort, Wolf lifts himself to the platform where Maxyzne fell and in one smooth motion leaps upon the banshrae taking him off his feet while raising his own enormous two-headed battle axe above his foe.
Wolf’s axe falls ending the first banshrae, and shifter takes advantage of his high viewpoint to looking across the cathedral to the source of the sounds at the high north-end. The double doors have burst open, jagged bits of the lock hanging loose in the wake of the destruction. Through the open doorway barges an array of monstrous figures: green and mottled trolls, some of a smaller variety, still easily taller than a man, trolls with feral features and narrow, mean eyes, and several more massive trolls and—most terrifying—a broad-shouldered troll with two shrieking heads. Following behind one of the smaller trolls there is a red-scaled reptile on a heavy chain, smoke rising from its nostrils and from between its jagged teeth.
Shaden uses the distraction to attack another of the quicklings, his sword, the Wicked Fang bites deep the quickling clutches his torn side and darts away. Back in the entry hall the paired vengeful quickling race past Bingus in preparation for an attack but before they wind around Bingus conjures a blazing wall of fire that cuts off his attackers. Bhenedict and his tough dwarf opponent struggle on as Bhenedict smashes the small dwarf in the face with his shield only to be lifted off his own feet by the power of the smalled dwarf’s counterstrike. From the far end of the cathedral a jet of arcing flame erupts as the drake lights the third banshrae atop the farthest column of stone aflame … the banshrae falls from the column still burning.
"Ho, good shot Flamespewer, but don’t burns them all, I likes mine fresh-n-juicy!"
"I LIKES THE DARK MEAT!"
"It look-like there’s enough for all, here I’ll spike one for yew."
In answer a javelin hurls from the upper deck with deadly accuracy striking the second banshrae on his high post, thrown by one of the smaller trolls peering down from the raised deck.
All the trolls continue their advance. Shaden taking count of their number as they approach, two small ones, moving fast … one of these with the fire lizard; four huge following between those, and one large two-headed troll catching and passing the more massive trolls. Fortunately the large warren trolls bottle-necking at stairs was slowing the advance of these monsters.
In the entry hall, the quicklings test their speed against Bingus’s wall of flames one dying in the attempt the second breaking through but in no shape for another try at the gnome. In the cathedral, the quickling runs fast evading Bairdyn so the halfling reassesses switching his target to the injured quickling slaying it. Shaden quickly kills the sleeping quickling while waiting on the trolls and calls to Bairdyn, "I don’t know if we can handle these trolls there are too many and they are too large do any of you have any ideas?"
On the south-end of the cathedral Bhenedict finally raises his new craghammer victoriously, realizes that his new hammer had become evermore effective as the fight had continued … clearly the hammer held an powerful enchantment. Thinking the name ‘Dwarf Crusher’ would be not be appropriate, Bhenedict finally looks up long enough to see the trolls, and think ‘Troll Squishier?’ might due. Higher in the chamber, on the broken east side, Wolf lifts Maxyzne, finding her thankfully still alive if barely, and using a combination of leaps and climbing he works his way back to the ramp while carrying the half-orc. A second javelins flies spearing the burning banshrae killing it as its tries to rise. The second banshrae darts the drake and quickly climbs down to the floor of the cathedral’s ground floor. Cautiously, Shaden directs his attention to this new opponent when he suddenly hears the banshrae’s thoughts: (Fight me not, have no fear, there are others I must fight here.)
As the trolls arrive in mass to the final stair which leads to the main floor, the huge troll again bottle-neck, worse this time as the four hugest trolls collide at the single stairway. The two-headed frustrated mumbles with both heads as it moves past the mess down the west ramp while the two smaller trolls take advantageous positions on the second level where they can target opponents with their javelins.
The first huge troll at the base of the stairway reaches down grabbing Shaden with one meaty paw and lifting him high high into the air; the troll’s fetid breath washes over the half-orc as hollers, "WHAT HAVE WE HERE?"
Another yells, "SQUEEZE THE TAIL OUT OF HIM AND LET’S EAT!"
And another, "HEY, BREAK ME OFF A PIECE-O-THAT!"
"Look there Midget their all ready eating"
"Don’t worry, you little piggy, we’ll be there soon enough!"
"No, I’m hungry now, you’re always stuffing your face!"
Suddenly the banshrae is there spinning like a dervish, the inhuman thing strikes high with a whirring staff, striking the troll’s bullocks with incredible force.
"AAH!" exclaims the troll dropping Shaden, stunned by the banshrae’s blow.
"HO, HO … DID YA SEE THAT, E SLAMMED WILLY’S, WILLY!"
"OH, IT’LL TAKE AWHILE FOR THAT TO GROW BACK."
"OUT OF MAE FREAKIN WAY, YOU DONKEYS, I’M HUNGRY AND I’M GONNA GET ME A BISCUIT!"
Moving around the crowd of trolls at the main stair on the west ramp the two-headed monster stares down a Bhenedict. One of the heads asking, "Are you a dwarf?"
Surprised Bhenedict answers, "Yes." without thinking.
"Oh." responds the second head, "Then we shall have to kill you."
"It’s mae turn first midget, you promised."
As the arm on second head’s side strikes claws ripping an angry welt in Bhenedict shoulder right through his armor as the troll grabs at the dwarf. "HEY ITS MY TURN TO EAT FIRST!" hollers the first head.
"IS NOT, YOUR DAFT! You always have been stupid." adds the second head.
Bhenedict tries to strikes back, but the first head lands a telling blow forcing Bennie to give way to the troll overpowering strength. "OH, LIES! MOMS LOVED ME MORE THAN YOU!"
Wolf gives Maxyzne a healing potion, then tries to help Bhenedict but one of the small trolls quickly targets him with a javelin from the second level. Notaku dodges wildly but the javelin still bites deeply and prevents the shifter from coming to Bennie’s aid; the second man-sized troll targets the surviving banshrae impaling it with the javelin as it fights the huge troll.
Returning to the cathedral, Bingus makes a quick assessment and unleashes an exploding ball of fire on the main stairs engulfing the largest mass of trolls, along with Shaden and the banshrae in flames. The banshrae stands bravely against the onslaught quickly snapping off the end its staff on the hard stone floor and one motion spinning the sharp end around plunging in deep into the massive troll. The two remaining quicklings join in the banshrae’s attack slashing viciously at the troll’s ankles as they pass. They troll falls to its knees scooping one of the quickling into its mouth as it falls chomping down dividing the quickling into three pieces. The quickling dies with a sickening crunch; the banshrae also falling. The final surviving quickling comes around pasting near Shaden who instinctively strikes, the Wicked Fang taking off the quickling’s head. Again Shaden yells, "We cannot win here!"
Bhenedict answers, "Agreed Mate, a hasty retreat then?"
Shaden yells back, "We need to kill the downed troll first!" Bairdyn answers, "I’ve got him." and fires a sling bullet the bursts into flames after it is fired. "A troll can’t regenerate from fire." says Bairdyn.
"ZOOT, HELP DINGO!"
"Wot happened? Did the little one kill Dingo?" ask the one of the smaller trolls.
"HURRY UP, E’S HURT BAD!"
Looking down from the second level the small troll collects a great glob of spit within his fist hurling the thick gooey mass at Dingo, the huge fallen troll … as the glob hits it bubbles and fizzes, Dingo’s eyes immediately open as the fallen troll twitches taking in a large breath.
"WHERE’S YER USELESS BROTHER CRAPPER?"
"Oh EE’s fetching the lizard, it stopped for a little snack." answers the troll named, Zoot.
Without a word, Bingus uses another spell lighting Dingo back on fire.
"OH YOU LITTLE DEVIL, LOOK IT WOT E’S DONE!" … "E ROASTED DINGO." … "E’E AIN’T HEALIN NOW. CRAPPER!! GET YOUR WORTHLESS ARSE HERE " … "E’s done fer for sure." … "GET EM!" "TH-ERR RUNNING AWAY!" "RUN PIGLET RUN."
"Settle down, there no where for them to go we’ll catch them all soon enough … there’ll be plenty fer all."
And the Brigade does run. Run, run, and run! Bingus and Wolf leading the way, followed by Bairdyn and Maxyzne, followed by Shaden, all leaping into the dark crevice and finally Bhenedict uses the space he gained when the two-headed troll knocked him aside to back-peddle and drop into the deeply scarred floor disappear into the crack in the floor moving, recklessly, stumbling eastward over broken jagged stone, as quickly as his thick stout legs could carry him. Running as if his lift depended on it … and it did.
Gathering in the darkness, their way lit by the gnome. Shaden, taking on the role of Captain Obvious says, "I wasn’t expecting that."