Monthly Archives: October 2010

SOW Chapter6: The Fall of General Z

General Z did fall
His two dragons were destroyed
Now we rebuild town

The Fall of General Z

General Z astride his dragon

Having battled through their first night back, the following day and now a second night the Brigade has not escaped unscathed. Bingus had been injured when his ebony fly was destroyed during his most recent melee causing him to fall amid his enemies. By the time Bhenedict had rescued the gnome several of Bingus’s bones had been broken, both his collar and a leg! Given the last two days of battle, the stores of potions and the raw materials for rituals were running short throughout Overlook and the available priest were overtaxed … all this adding up to a shortage of any quick fixes. Given the gnome’s condition Fin had been forced to carry Bingus all the way to the High Hall district where their new friend, the peoples priest, Theren had set-up a make-shift care center within this, the most protected part of the city. He offered what relief he could then requested Fin to provide assistance to the security forces of the Old City. Immediately, Fin was tasked with dealing with incoming reports of enemies intrusions within the streets near Caer Overlook.

Elsewhere in the city other heroes are each doing their best to aid in the cities defense. Without warning, several of the heroes hear Great Elder Morgoff’s voice in their head.

“The High Priest is lost, he must be found. Our diviners had sent Durkik to assist Councilor Mountainhome. He left with a squad of soldiers to her apartment with Elftown, but now Durkik has gone missing and none of the squad have returned!”

“Her home lies within the grounds of the University of Majere. Please go there with all haste her home now burns and while the High Priest is missing she yet lies unconscious within!”

Responding to the Great Elders plea, Bhenedict, Notaku, Vani and Eoffram, rush together to the University with a hulking figure that none of them know. This ally they had only just met at Caer Overlook. When they had first seen her, she was speaking in quiet tones to Counselor Olman Sledgemore, and the Counselor had been under heavy guard. The visitor was cloaked, head-to-toe in a heavy hooded robe that hid almost all her features and caused intrigue among the heroes who couldn’t help but guess at the newcomer’s identity.

She was not quite as large as a goliath, but was larger than any of them, even Notaku. The Overlook Elders had only described the visitor as an emissary from the Mystic Isles … when she had spoken it was with a thickly accented, deep gravelly voice, that was at same time effeminate enough to mark the visitor as a woman; she carried a heavy lisp dragging out her S’s and Z’s. As they rushed towards Elftown she introduced herself as Ssarina of Majyst.

Ssarina, Dragonborn PaladinSsarina, was in fact a paladin, and an emissary from Majyst. Recently, strange new breeds of ‘dragonborn’ had visited Majyst recruiting others to join them in a mission of vengeance and conquest against the races of the mainland. They had complained of the abuses and depravities of the peoples there. The appearances of the newcomers was both strange and disturbing to the established dragonborn of the Majyst. Some had wings and others did not, all appeared uniformly hardened and cruel.

So sinister in appearance and attitude were these ‘new’ dragonborn that they had deeply concerned Ssarina. She found their message of conquest and vengeance alarming; so much so she had determined to follow them back to the mainland of Klarn. Their trek had led her to the dwarven city of Overlook where she had witnessed their attack upon the people of Overlook.

What she witnessed had appalled her. They were clearly deadly seriousness about their goals but the attack had confirmed her worse fears. These dragonborn had attacked viciously. They were obviously bent on wanton destruction, sparing none–not hesitating to resort to murder, always saving their most horrific efforts for weak, unarmed, non-combatants.

In Ssarina’s judgment they were entirely absent of honor or mercy; they practiced none of the common curtisies afforded to the enemy in a just war. Risking her own safety Ssarina had snuck through their line entering into Overlook where she sought out the city’s leaders. She had kept her nature disguised, cloaking herself in heavy robes. Until she surrendered herself to Captain Dauralis, Overlook’s human watch commander.

Eventually Ssarina had convinced the Watch Captain to allow her to speak with Counselor Sledgemore and she earned the Counselor’s ear by providing the Elder with the benefit of her valuable insights about the attackers, and later his trust when she had selflessly risked her own life defending the venerable Counselor when he had been caught in the open during one of the devastating attacks upon the city.

As the heroes arrive at the open courtyard of the university, Bhenedict and Notaku are surprised to find Shaden, the half-orc prisoner they had rescued at Fortress Graystone, standing alone within the open square. Shaden stands unmoving, Wicked Fang drawn, hanging low, loosely gripped by the half-orc.

Scattered about the grounds at Shaden’s feet, and spread out across the courtyard all the way to the stoops of the nearby buildings, lie the corpses of dozens of Overlook’s soldiers. Some of them are badly burned, others having been slashed to ribbons and still others rotted as though they’d lain dead for weeks on end.

Bhenedict hesitates for a moment trying to get a grasp on the scene before him, but it isn’t long before his mouth gets the better of him calling out to Shaden, “Drop yer rusted garbage and get ready to die ye potato faced gold stealin’ puddle O’ rat pee!”

Having come to a different conclusion Notaku whispers, “He couldn’t have done this, look at the bodies.”

Stirred by the dwarf’s call, Shaden ‘wakes’–becoming aware of the others’ presence–as if from a dream. His eyes going wide, he sees the carnage for the first time. Carnage measured in the number of the shattered bodies that surrounding him. Dwarven warriors felled in battle … no, ‘slaughtered’ in battle, but Shaden can’t remember how he had come to be here nor where honestly he had been. He wasn’t sure whether he had participated in the slaughter spread before his feet. Then as his awareness spreads beyond the bodies Shaden notices the heat of the fire and he slowly turns towards its source, the burning building, his muscles flexing reflectively. Shaden turns back towards Bhenedict stating the obvious, “There is a fire.”

University Complex Map

“That must be the Elder’s home you daft orkling; did you get the call?” calls out Bhenedict.

Shaden nods affirmatively, having no idea what Bhenedict was talking about.

“The counselor is in trouble; did you see what happened here?” asks Bhenedict.

“No, I only just arrived.” is Shaden’s response.

It was clear that the counselor had lived in an expensive apartment in the center of the university complex; it was equally clear they were going to have to rush into the burning, crumbling building if they were going to have any chance of saving Counselor Itrika Mountainhome.

University Complex

Ssarina revealedStanding on the short flight of stairs leading to the Counselor’s doorway, Ssarina drops her heavy robe revealing her true nature, “We musst enter now!”

The other agree and all save Vani rush into the building; Vani elects to stay out front to stand watch at the doorway of the apartment.

The others enter into blinding smoke. Shaden travels easily being used to both darkness, smoke and fire, all common features in the harsh mines of Red Rock; he has no problem adapting and makes his way to the stairs within the entry chamber. Bhenedict has no difficulties either protected by both his armor and the magic of his ring but Eoffram finds himself blinded by tears and choking on the smoke as he staggers through the first floor of the apartment. Seeing the half-elf struggle Bhenedict works his way back to Eoffram to assist the half-elf while Notaku continues to follow Shaden.

Unable to see, Eoffram calls out to Bhenedict asking, “Benny, do you still have that ring you found in the Karak mines?”

“Yes, yes … here it is. Put it on.” answers Bhenedict.

Immediately the magic of primordial ring relieves Eoffram’s symptoms but the delay costs them as the stairs leading to the second floor collapses trapping Shaden on the upper level.

“I should leave you; I’m no help here; get to the counselor.” says Eoffram. Nodding, Bhenedict agrees and moves back toward what used to be the stairs where Shaden was busy lifting Notaku to the second floor.

Eoffram heads back to the entry reaching the door where Vani turns towards Eoffram thus missing the approach of High Priest Durkik and a cadre of angry looking dwarves. Before Eoffram can react, Durkik reaches out with a wave of telekinetic force locking Vani in place. Eoffram notices something very uncomfortable about about the High Priest’s stance and the certain fury of his eyes … an unnatural seething. The other dwarves are easier for Eoffram to understand–Hammerfists! They had borne a grudge against the Brigade since the incident at the Karak mines but there was something else about Durkik, something missing in Durkik’s face … and then it came to him, there’s a lack of recognition in the High Priest’s demeanor. He didn’t recognize them. Then Durkik speaks, “You may have fooled the others but Moradin’s forge has a way of revealing impurities and now in these flames your too have finally been revealed.”

Pausing the High Priest raises an open hand towards the heavens as his eyes bore into Eoffram’s soul …

He shouts,

“It was you who killed the Farstriders and the Freeriders! You who tried to assassinate Elder Cadrick! And you who are trying to kill Elder Mountainhome!”

Closing his hand into a fist for emphasis he continues, “Don’t speak, don’t even try … you are undone. You will rue this day but not for long … for our eyes are open, our fists are closed. Judgment is upon you!”

Dropping his fist the dwarves fire their crossbow at point blank range, burying bolts deep with the both Vani and Eoffram.

Vani vanishes in a flash of color and a loud ‘pop’ as air rushes to fill the space he left. Eoffram slumps leening against the wall of the smoldering building. Then in a cloud of smoke Ssarina bursts from the counselor’s burning house rushing to defend the half-elf. Just as suddenly she sees two dragonborn step out from the shadows of buildings at either side of the burning apartment, their dark scales reflecting the flames, each dragonborn wielding a pair of broad-bladed daggers. Quickly Ssarina screens Eoffram reaching backward gripping the half-elf firmly, and granting Eoffram the benefit of Bahamut’s blessing as the villianous dragonborns charge towards her their blades drawn.

Forty feet above the melee, Vani reappears upon the rooftop of the large building that stands adjacent to the burning apartment. He prepares to attack the High Priest’s party but then he hears a horrific boom reverberating from a nearby building as a massive beast soars low over the rooftop, knocking several of the stones from their place. Vani see what appears to be a dead dragon; its remaining scales are dull, its gray leather skin showing large bony gaps. It swoops towards the halfling racing through the air on broken fleshless wings. Its jaw is filled with sharp pointed teeth and a worm-like tongue that thrashes within the monster’s bared jaws with a mind of its own. Riding atop that beast is a humanoid figure clad in heavy hides, its body contained within a harness of iron joints and leather straps. His limbs and face are gaunt, nearly desiccated. Several old wounds hang open, leaking trails of blood and puss, showing bare bone in some spots and metal plates in others. But despite these old injuries and deformities, his narrow features and his yellowed, leathery skin clearly mark him as one of the dread githyanki, raiders and conquerors of the Astral Sea. Switching targets in mid-spell Vani blasts the approaching dragon and rider with an arcane whirlwind forcing the dragon into a crash landing; imperiously the rider dismounts standing unhindered in midair catching Vani with a rueful glance. Instantly his arm swings forward in an arc as he hurls his great silver sword unerringly, the blade slicing Vani who vanishes again in a flash and a pop as his magic reflexively heals him and transports him to relative safety.

On the street below Ssarina stands in front of Eoffram still guarding him from the dwarven crossbows and the two dragonborn raiders but then a third dragonborn appears, this one with lighter, brass-shaded scales exits the northeast road coming from the backside of the university complex; as he steps forward the ground rumbles as dust, and debris erupts from the road behind him in a spray. Then incredibly, a huge red-scaled drake steps out from behind the buildings following the new dragonborn. The massive predator fills the road, standing erect on two powerful legs, better than 16 feet tall. It has a strong neck, a massive tail, and a bulky body. Its arms are short but they equipped with two-fingered, clawed hands, each claw dagger-like and better than 6 inches long but they are nothing compared to the beast’s jaws!

Red-Scaled Drake

Blissfully unaware, behind Ssarina, Eoffram attacks the dwarves casting spells that drop several of the them. Overwhelmed Ssarina sets herself to receive their attack but the red drake roars out a deafening challenge that stuns both the paladin and the warlock as the heat of the monster’s breath washes over them.

Hopelessly outnumbered Ssarina falls, sliced and gouged by the attacking dragonborn when suddenly Bhenedict leaps from the burning building into the fray staving off their killing blows.

Tornak, King of TrollsTornak, the self-proclaimed King of the Trolls, and his troll “court” are something of a local legend. He has raided nearby settlements for years, using tactics that were remarkably complex and disciplined (for a troll, anyway). His raiders have evaded or brutally destroyed any forces sent to combat them. Many brave and righteous heroes have set off into the mountains to end this scourge; all have met their end at Tornak’s hands. After the failing to secure the Mountainroot Temple he couldn’t bring his forces through the Stone Anvil as he had hoped so General Zithiruun had been forced to rush his attack upon Overlook moving his forces through the mountains past the lands controlled by the Troll King. Initially Tornak refused, but with the encouragement of the Stone-Skinned King and the gold the General was willing to pay he ultimately relented.

Truth be known, the King’s animosity for the dwarves was all the encouragement he really needed, that and his desire for fresh slaves, slaves for his Crown of Fallen Heroes.

The two quick teleports caused Vani’s mind to raced back as he reflected where he and the other heroes had come to aid the fallen counselor and to investigate the whereabouts of the missing High Priest Durkik and those members of city guard that had been dispatched the High Priest to locate her, Vani recalled noticing the bodies of the dead soldiers. Many bore the signs of battle, torn apart, barely recognizable, and still others looked partially eaten.

By the time the party reached the counsel woman’s mansion it was engulfed in flames. Without hesitation, the group leaped into the burning building calling out to the the counsel woman. The flames and smoke were billowing from the windows of the three story mansion and Vani decided that another pair of eyes inside would not be very helpful so he waited, standing guard. It wasn’t long before he heard them calling out, the sounds of trouble, evidently the heat and smoke had been too much and some of the would-be rescuers had become victims themselves. Vani heard a lot of coughing and gagging. Looking in through the door he watched, as his own eyes burned from the smoke as two of the rescuer moved to exit the building. They were Eoffram and Ssarina. The warlock, Eoffram, looked like he was trying to get Vani’s attention, but at that moment he had felt an invisible but very real force envelope him, he couldn’t move a step to the left or the right … it was as if he was surrounded by a wall he couldn’t see, just able to turn about slightly he saw High Priest Durkik.

There have been many times when Vani has felt that his arcane skills were more instinctual than instructed–when the magic almost took control before his conscious thought could decide upon a course of action. As a crossbow bolt pierced his back, this became such a time. The arcane energy leaped forth, unbidden and Vani was transported to the top of the adjacent building some 35 feet above the melee before the crossbow bolt could pierce any deeper into his flesh. The wound was light, but would be a good reminder to next time keep a better watch rather than to become distracted by the flames and foolish friends.

Vani stood at the edge of the roof looking down as his companions were quickly engaged by Durkik and several other dwarves. Unfortunately, some of the dwarves had noticed him as well and fired another few bolts in his direction. Their aim was true, so these too caused grazing wounds. Vani dropped down for cover and searching about for targets he noticed a huge red drake leaping towards the fray from a nearby alleyway out of sight of those on the ground. Quickly he realized that this must have been what had eaten some of the soldiers that they had seen in their approach. Vani quickly summoned all the arcane power he could from both within and without him. As always the power eagerly answered his call. Vani Hammerfist Clan dwarfreleased a portion of it firing three lightning bolts at the dwarves and fDurkik possessedollowed up with another two fiery bolts of energy in quick succession. These struck true, felling some of Durkik’s supporting dwarf guard but proving ineffective against Durkik himself. Vani also took time to summon his own limited healing powers to mend the wounds he had received from the dwarves. It wasn’t the first time did he had wished his wife, Minerva, were here, but silently thanked her for the small healing powers she had taught him.

Vani had risen to his feet again as he cast the fiery bolts, but as he began to survey the battle below things went from bad to worse. First, he heard a loud crash behind him, quickly spinning he saw the approach of an undead dragon, Rathoraiax by name. Of course, Vani didn’t know the dragon’s name at that time, his only concern was that the monster was streaking low over the rooftops, ripping into the buildings with claws that could easily behead him in an instant and that dragon was headed straight for him!

Taking a split-second to think, Vani imagined that the only thing likely to be more dangerous than the abominable undead dragon … while noticing that, said dragon, was somehow gliding straight towards him on bony wings that that shouldn’t work … anyhow, the only thing more frightening was a rider controlling the monster.

The cloaked figure radiated power sitting astride the giant monster as casually as a child might sit upon a swing. Vani quickly realized he did not want to die here atop this roof alone. Again energy burst from his body manipulating the air that surrounded the dragon violently, and had created a whirlwind. The powerful gusts of the cyclone knocked the dragon off course and threw it hurling toward the ground. Before Vani could feel any level of satisfaction however he realized that the rider had not fallen with the beastly dragon, instead the former rider stood imperiously floating in air. Vani’s thoughts raced, surely this must be the infamous General Z. Effortlessly, the General started gliding menacingly towards Vani clearly meaning to punish him for his attack.

VaniAs the menacing figure approaches, Vani had warned, “Do not attempt to use your powers against me for an attack against me would be futile.”

Ignoring Vani the General smoothly drew a gleaming silver sabre which flew from his hand with awesome power directly at Vani. Again without conscious thought, Vani’s own arcane powers rose up to protect him as the halfling clenched his hands into fists to seize the ambient magical energy surrounding him. Vani knew that the General’s power is far too great to meet head on, so used his sorcery to teleport to the opposite edge of the roof.

His mind back in the present, when Vani reappears he opens his hands releasing a devastating psychic assault upon his attacker, General Zithiruun. This being one of Vani’s most powerful attacks, Vani rejoices as it strikes true; most opponents would have been badly hurt or killed by the power of the attack, but unfortunately it barely phases his opponent. In the course of the attack for the briefest of moments their minds are linked, and in this moment Vani feels the awesome power of his opponent confirming it is indeed General Zithiruun.

More importantly, yet another secret is revealed, General Zithiruun is Githyanki, not merely some would be tyrant, not even from the mortal realm, but one of a legendary race, some call them ‘soulsucks’, martial raiders from the forbidden astral city of Tu’narath. And Vani knows that there is no reality, no plane of existence, upon which these githyanki are not feared.

Taking advantage of the space he has created, Vani takes a moment to survey the battle taking place below. Vani realizes that his friends are now in a terrible struggle with the remaining dwarves, High Priest Durkik, the dragon and the drake. Although he does not have time to study the battle, he can not help but notice a giant troll approaching from a hidden position behind the trees. As Vani watchs, the troll swings a deadly arc with his sword slicing into Vani’s cousin Bairdyn. Bairdyn falls to the ground. Neither can Vani ignore the four shades, each flitting about, floating high, attacking the party from above … each horrid and fearful in their misery. Ghastly in appearance, they have the look of heroes … heroes apparently forced into the troll’s service. The target of these shades is Ian, and with Bairdyn also clearly present, Vani realizes that reinforcements have arrived. Then Vani spots a number of dragonborn warriors that have entered the fray and even with the help of Ian and Bairdyn, it is clear that his friends are terribly outnumbered and outmatched. Vani worries but he knows he has his hands full with General Z, still he can not let his friends fall without his aid.

General ZMomentarily ignoring the General’s approach, Vani casts his most powerful spell trying to draw all the energy from the air into the ground at several key points at the battle below; Vani tries for three points but he is unstable and fatigued to the extent that he is only able to focus his efforts at two points. The result of this efforts create two great stalagmites, one blocking the troll preventing his effort to kill Bairdyn and the other rising up beneath General Z tossing the githyanki from the building but for a second time the General Z catches himself halting his fall. Righting himself, the General floats in the air alongside the building and Vani can not hide his disappointment.

Even from the far side of the building Vani can feel the the intense cold radiating from the ice and he knows that it would kill a weaker being, but again the General does not seem phased and flies toward Vani with renewed anger. Needing time before he can attempt another spell, Vani seeks to stall the githyanki calling out, “I warned you before and by now you must realize that my powers are formidable. Leave now and live.”

General Z slows, still floating and eventually pausing to a hover, “There are things worse than death. And you do not have to die. You don’t belong here. Why do you fight for them.”

Vani answers, “Who are you and why do you attack the city?” still stalling for time as the arcane energies beginning to answer his call.

“I am Zithiruun. You are indeed powerful, you should join me if you would find greatness beyond your imagining.”

Thinking of nothing else to say, Vani answers, “You should join me.”

It is evident that this was not the right answer, as General Z launches into a series of powerful attacks moving impossibly fast, he becomes a blur, a silver flurry with his sabre arcing through the air. Immediately before even the first blow lands Vani uses his arcane energy to bend space transporting himself to safety, reappearing over fifty feet away on the far corner of the rooftop of the next adjacent building. There Vani can still see Zithiruun and the battle below but he feels exhausted and knows his powers are being exhausted far too quickly. Once again he had escaped however narrowly but his defenses were failing and he could no longer rely on his spells to transport him to safety.

Vani grinning with determination

Although Vani’s spell had taken him away from the General, he was now closer to the Troll King who seemed to have figured out who had summoned the ice stalagmite. The troll howls his rage, pointing his sword at Vani, launching a bolt of necrotic energy. Instinctively, Vani ducks as the deathly bolt flies over his head, missing him by inches. This only infuriates the Troll King more. Hollering a command, the four shades turn immediately fixing their attention upon Vani. They approach hurling their own bolts of life-draining necrotic power. Resources at an end, Vani’s luck abandons him, he dodges wildly, but three of the four bolts strike true. Vani’s small frame, suffers as the bolts draw the joy, the light, the very life from his body and Vani falls to his knees, bleeding profusely from his wounds.

For the first time, General Zithiruun allows a tight-lipped grin taking one look at Vani’s bleeding body he decides that Vani is finished and slowly floats downward to join the battle below leaving Vani to the shades’ mercies, knowing full-well that the shades have none.

Finding himself crawling on all fours, bleeding from numerous wounds, Vani assesses his position as his life begins to play-out in his mind’s eye … realizing that his sorcery has reached its upper limit, and he has no further healing powers left to aid him. Vani reaches within the pockets of his robes withdrawing two healing potions which he gulps down just in time to stave off his decline and his pending loss of consciousness. Vani feels the potions begin to work, the spread of healing warmth throughout his body, causing wounds to close and bring an end to his bleeding. His head is still fuzzy and his strength still ebbing, but the potions impact is instantaneous and Vani is much better.

Witnessing Vani fall, one of the shades turns away but the other three still advance. Knowing that the shades were about to finish him off, Vani reaches deep within himself summoning enough energy to cast one last powerful spell and blasts the two closest shades with an blizzard of ice destroying them. The shades fade leaving no trace. The last of the three shades releases another bolt of deadly energy striking Vani the bolt saps the sorcerer’s very will to survive. Dropping to his knees Vani readies to cast his final simplest spell, with the last of his reserves when suddenly the final two shades wink out of existence; they vanish as the Troll King, Tornak is finally slain by Notaku.

Crawling to the edge of the roof Vani peers down seeing that somehow miraculously the battle had turned. Now his comrades have General Zithiruun surrounded. It is clear that Vani’s friends had been in a fight, and no doubt it was the fight of their lives but it is equally clear that the advantage was now theirs.

Stretching his arm over the edge of the roof, Vani releases his final spell directly at Zithiruun incinerating the weakened General where he stands. Finally the General crumbles bringing the battle to a close. Taking a quick headcount Vani is surprised to find that none of his friends have perished in the battle; trapped on the rooftop, Vani collapses letting exhaustion overtaking him.

Cast: Bairdyn (PC/Tom), Bhenedict (PC/Rob), Wolf (PC/Mart), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Shaden (PC/Van), Vani (PC/Van), Ian (PC/Andy [remote]), Ssarina (PC/Heather)

Summary/Goals: Protect Overlook from the invading army and destroy General Z.

SOW Chapter6: Hold the Wall!!

Hold the Wall!!

Trolls and other attack

By the Brigade beaten back
The city is held


On the following morning, back at Caer Overlook Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Notaku and Bingus are invited into the war chamber of the embattled city. Argue as they might both Shaden and Maxyzne are barred from entry into the fortress.

Within, acting Captain Kalad and the human female Captain of the Watch, Jerra Dauralis, are busy briefing the attending council members, Great Elder Morgoff, and Elders Cadrick & Bakkus and High Priest Durkik, together they describe the state of the defenses.

Jerra: "… at very least the city is safe, for now. They have not breached the walls, but the enemy is at the gate. Over the course of the night, a small but fearsome mercenary army—consisting mostly of human soldiers and trolls, but with orcs and other creatures scattered throughout Shantytown. They crept out from the wilds. Shantytown is lost; much of it is destroyed but there is still some resistance … though many, maybe most, have perished."

Kalad: "Most the invaders are barbarous humans, orcs and a few gnolls. They fight like women, no offense, Jerra … what I mean to say is, as much among each other as they do against the rough crowd of Shanty, elsewise the damage would be much worse. Gods look after fools, children, and drunkards… these humans count for two out of the three. Some of Shantytown have found safety within the ‘gray redoubt’. Old Rufus seems to put a scare into the invaders for now."

Jerra: "Its true, the walls have held but there have been attacks within the city and trolls have taken to pacing the walls just beyond the range of our crossbows. They rush in throwing thick heavy spears and worse, including the bodies of the dead at our guards on the walls." Fliers infiltrated the city under cover of night. They set many fires, parts of the Nine Bells and Elftown were burnt to the ground. We could not stop them all but, be assured, the watch performs bravely. Our soldiers have wills of stone and the heroes from Mendelland have performed admirably, reports are that their prowess in battle is amazing." 

Just then Durkik looks up, his eyes going wide as he notices the shifter Notaku carrying the Incunabulum Primeval, the enormous book is unmistakable, given its size and the wood-plank, iron-bound cover. Given a nod of approval, Wolf approaches the council with the tome cradled securely within his strong arms.

Back outside, beyond the entry, Shaden tries uselessly to quiet Maxyzne.

Maxyzne and Shaden

Maxyzne isn’t paying attention to him. The guards watch both closely. As Maxyzne raises her voice in anger she spies a guard cocking his crossbow, without warning, a second later she has closed the distance between herself and the guard, fixing the guard with an unwavering glare, almost a dare. Hammers are drawn around them and a burly minotaur moves in. The hellcat’s muscles grow taunt and flex with anticipation, and she grins as if mad, but then she flies backwards suddenly snapped back as she is yanked off her feet by Shaden who has a firm grip upon her metal collar.

Maxyzne spins breaking free and dropping into a crouch. She hisses loudly like a cat as her eye’s run black.

Options race through Shaden’s mind, realizing that he’d never pin her effectively in time to stop her, he withdraws a step instinctively and places himself into a defensive stance and commanding, "Nar Udautas!" —  (Not today)

Maxyzne sneers, "Your boasts may deceive a gnome or a halfling, but I laugh in your face,  but I’ve broken real men before and you are even not worthy!"

For a moment she acts like she will have another go at the guards again with a mocking lurch that convinces them to jerk back but then she’s off in the opposite direction. The guards give a half-hearted chase but she moves with a speed and grace that the guards can’t match and soon she’s lost in the crush of activity.

Disgusted and alone, Shaden fumes not even sure of the source of his ire; whether it was with himself, or do to Maxyzne’s disrespect. And maybe it was just the situation?  … He tries to make his mind go blank, but immediately thoughts rush in unbidden:

They must pay!
The city must stand!
No adoration, no pity, no survivors … their lives are mine!
Vengeance calls – I will be sated!

Trance-like, and heedless of direction, Shaden wanders not even aware that he’s moving. Unconsciously he pulls his hood over his head and about his face concealing his features as he wanders off blindly. Eventually the sounds of alarm wake him to his surroundings.

“The outer wall!” the voice shouts at him. “They’ve breached the outer wall, just north of the west gate!”

Trulls thru the wall

 Rubble lies strewn about—rubble that used to be a 15-foot stretch of wall. Visible just beyond is a huge tree trunk, capped with a bronzed dragonhead, smoke and flame still seething within its clenched teeth—clearly the battering ram that created the hole. Moving through the gap are several hideous trolls. The city guards have several of the trolls occupied, but others—two in heavy armor, one with two heads, one far smaller and another far larger than the others charge unimpeded through the gulf on to the streets beyond.

Map of wall breach - OverlookBefore Shaden has a full grasp of the situation, he yells, "The two-headed one is mine!" dropping the hooded cloak to the ground drawing the Wicked Fang. Before Shaden can act, a well-dressed nobleman emerges from the crowd–Ian Whitestone of Sayre. He leaps into the fray tempting the trolls to attack him. "Draw near at your peril, vile ones!"

The armored trolls move in quickly surrounding the nobleman. As the two-headed troll stumbles forward over the rubble, Shaden rushes to meet him, but then lightening explodes outward from the roof of one the building–there, atop the 10-foot high shed attached to a large dwelling, the halfling, Vani Firestorm is the source of the devastating attack upon the trolls.

The small troll responds throwing a javelin with great skill spiking Vani and causing a deep wound.

Shaden and Ben – Franklin, the two-headed troll, crash together both landing telling blows. "You smell that Frank, its one of those dingos from da Temple" …. ‘Yer right, one those wienies that ran away, ho … E’e looks tasty!"

A daring half-elf ‘Fin’ appears from the fleeing crowds, moving to backing up Ian’s play trying to draw off one of the heavy armed trolls. The troll ignores Fin moving towards Vani instead. Quickly Theren jumps aside doing his best to avoid being crushed by the rampaging troll while praying for a healing spirit to aid his allies as they battle the trolls.

The final troll, a giant, squeezes through the crumbling wall, reaching the melee quickly with the gaping strides.

“HO, HO, HO … Herr comes Davey Mugginss e’es so big hee needs TWO names!”

Davey, a mountain troll, stands something over 17 feet tall. He has thick gray skin and rough primitive features; hunched, bulky, barrel-chested and armed with maul-like fists and a club made of a broken tree trunk. The giant easily wades in sweeping the heroes out of the way his club, saving his worst for Shaden who he sends flying with one massive blow.

The war troll Wilhelm reaches up the roof top grabbing for Vani who immediately vanishes with a ‘pop’ teleporting to the higher roof of the dwelling. As Vani flees, he unleashes a massive wave psychic force in retribution. The powerful blast crushes the troll’s tiny mind causing blood to seep from Wilhelm’s ears and nose. Wilhelm’s partner, Sneaky Pete continues to vex Ian, fighting him to a stalemate as both their defenses prove more effective than their attacks. Safe again on the higher roof, Vani splits a blast striking both the smaller troll and Wilhelm with fiery bolts of lightening, one from either hand, dropping the small troll and crippling the war troll which Fin finishes with one last deadly stab. Davey Muggins swing his tree trunk again this time slamming Ian out of the way.

Shaden and the two-headed troll, Ben-Franklin, caper about the melee with dizzying speed. With every exchange Shaden gains more of an upper hand. The troll is both powerful and large, but Shaden is both quick and accurate. Bleeding from a half dozen wounds the troll tries to escape to no avail. Shaden pursues lopping off first one head and they the other. Davey Muggins fixes his sights on the tough half-orc warrior moving to intercept him. Ian and Fin circle surrounding Sneaky Pete, the remaining war troll.

Taking advantage of their flanking positions Fin and Ian injure the war troll while Vani continues to attack from the safety of his rooftop adding to the war troll’s distress but Vani finds his attacks ineffectual against Davey Muggins. Next to Ian, Fin and Sneaky Pete, sharing the small camped courtyard, Davey Muggins proves to be too much for Shaden to handle alone as the troll knocks him off his feet again, this time lifting Shaden off the ground with what amounted to a glancing blow from the troll. "Davey Muggins wants to to squish you to gravy he does. Davey Muggins likes gravy … E’e does." Theren helps the city’s defenders by speaking a powerful healing word providing respite and recovery. Strengthened by prayer, Ian turns away from Sneaky Pete, moving towards Davey and he shouts, "You are o’er wrought but you don’t have to die. Help us and win and you can still be free to walk away."

"Wot I ought? asks the troll.

"Help us and live!" Ian explains as Fin finally slays Sneaky Pete. Standing witness to the war troll’s fall, Davey Muggins swings his tree in the general direction of of the dying troll and says, "See, see I help!"

Yelling "Enough!" Shaden attacks … Theren calls out in prayer offering prophetic guidance to his allies; together they bring down Davey Muggins, each hero fighting together as a team breaking the mighty troll. Davey Muggins dies falling like a avalanche ultimately crushing a small cottage as he hits the ground.

Strange DragonbornBack at Caer Overlook, the Brigade hands over the Incunabulum Primeval to High Priest Durkik. Soon they are reunited with Eoffram Troyas. Together again, the original members of the Brindol Brigade, Bairdyn, Bhenedict, and Eoffram are joined by the newest members, Bingus and Notaku to form an emergency team responding to hot spots throughout the conflict wherever they are most needed.

During the following day and night of the siege, the Brigade battles strange, powerful half-dragon marauders, trolls, more berbalang, possessed citizens, doppelganger assassins and looting thugs throughout Overlook wherever they are needed. Wherever trouble springs up the Brigade is there, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Overlook’s defenders, the commoners, the soldiers, and militia, all doing their part!

As the heroes race through the city from one objective to next, they notice that every loyal citizen is doing the utmost to save Overlook. Kalad, leading a squad of soldiers stands victorious over a band of defeated trolls. Durkik battling abominations, his hands flickering with holy fire, as the High Priest reads from the Incunabulum Primeval.

During the most trying moments, if just for just an instant, the liberators of the Mountainroot Temple feel a faint warmth, as if of a forge’s fire, at times hearing the distant sound of chiming hammers as their spirits soar with Moradin’s blessing.






Cast: Theren (PC/Josh), Fin (PC/Tom), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Shaden (PC/Van), Ian (PC/Andy)

Summary/Goals: Protect the city from the invading forces.

SOW Chapter6: The Battle for the City

The Battle for the City

Ian, Eoffram arrive

Vani and Fin join Theren
Advice offered–War!

The Battle for the City:

As the Brigade exits the portal within the Mountainroot Temple they emerge from the Stone Anvil to a welcoming committee of Overlook soldiers. Spotting the heroes, their Captain calls out.

“Please come with me,” as he does, the soldiers draw their weapons and move to separate the half-orcs, Maxyzne and Shaden.

Bhenedict interposes himself, his hand dropping to the shaft of his hammer. "Happy now? You’ve got my full attention! These orklings are with us and you could be pretty damn sure we wouldn’t be here without them!"

Looking about the party notices smoke rising above the city in a number of places. From the movement, the sounds, and the sights it is impossible not to realize the the city is at war. Battle has come to Overlook.

Dwarven warriors, the brave, the healthy along with their wounded men cart corpses off backwards away from the walls. Over the outlaying tiered city, a few demonic looking fliers rise and dive leaving fresh fires in their wake. A wave of anger and spirit-sucking certainty hits Bhenedict, as he realizes that his city is threatened. Since its founding, Overlook had never come under attack, though Bordrin’s Watch has time and again, at least once every century. Like a brick to the head it hit him, things have changed. His vision narrows as he takes in each of the soldiers in turn seeing not but a most hardened dedication written their faces. Forgetting other concerns in that moment Bhenedict says, "Bring me to the Council."

Three Days Earlier:

Vani Firestorm and his escort, Finellior the Bard, walk through the gates of Overlook for the first time. Their trip through Istar’s gate had been instantaneous but the trip to the city from Talar had not been. What they had seen had been disturbing to the keen experienced eyes of Finellior. There was something in the air, the stillness before a thunderstorm … unseen tension.

Arriving at the gate the two ambassadors from Mendelland see the dwarves had erected steep walls to protect themselves. Finellior points out signs throughout divining the city’s history evidenced through the construction. He shows that as the city outgrew its original protections, the inhabitants had raised more walls to encircle the growing population. So far the bard determines, this has happened four times, giving the city four sets of walls, one inside of the other. Outside the most recently built wall, a shantytown, the city’s unofficial ninth district, grows beyond the eastern walls.

As they enter Finellior says, "And it’s just a matter of time before they decide to raise another wall and add those squatters to the rest of the city."

Piercing each wall, on both the western side and the eastern side, the large gate is flanked by two square stone towers. The gates stand open. 

The Wizard's Staff Ale

Two Days Earlier:

Seated within Coxcomb Spirits, Eoffram hands Ian a tankard of Wizard’s Staff Ale while Chef Drebben turns to Ian saying, "This blends a hat full of pale barley & pinch of Cara malt into a cauldron, once bubbled up with three infusions of Narsbain Golding hops, a potion of mystical dry biscuit flavour is conjured up with an extravagant burst of citrus aroma. A ritual which defies anyone questioning the loss of craft brewing."

A day earlier Ian had arrived at the Troyas estate in Brindol negotiating the newly reestablished trade with the Troyas family, the Elsir Vale being the gateway for goods from the East was truly the best source for many of the exotics not readily available on Whitestone. 

Ian had too few opportunities to get off the island so he had jumped at the chance of this small excursion. He had traveled by gate to the outskirts of the Vale to Drellin’s Ferry, and then along the Dawn Way eventually arriving in Brindol to meet with the guildsman. Finding the Vale to be amid troubled times. He had heard rumors of a call to arms but now actually see it the young aristocrat felt like he was a witness to history in the making … so different from the tired lectures of the college.

IanIan, had a bit of fey-blood, which by itself was pretty non-descriptive, truly had been born into the  aristocracy, within a monument-filled city built in a particularly beautiful valley on the great island of Whitestone. Thoughts of the college brought images of his home, unbidden, to his mind and Ian reflected on where he had come from.

The island of Whitestone held the world’s greatest university, the University of Majere within the beautiful city of Sayre. Sayre itself was the place a large number of artisans made their homes. This made it a popular site for those who dealt in either information or fine art.

Ian Whitestone’s home was the Torrance Mansion, the house of his wily half-elven father, the Governor of Sayre, Lord Divian Torrance, the seat of power upon the island. The self-proclaimed ‘Lord’ Torrance, was a politically astute nobleman and Ian was his bastard son, thus he took the name ‘Whitestone’ such as was custom given that he could not claim a father.

Ian’s mother had died in birthing him, although that seemed strangely unfortunate in a land where both learning and magic were so plentiful.

Still his life was privileged to a point and he had been raise amongst the best of things the island could offer, which was very well indeed but Ian retained the humility of a bastard.

Power in Sayre resides with Lord Torrance, as well as the Artisan’s Guild and the University’s arch-dean. Under his father’s direction the city always went out of its way to attract the finest artists and craftsmen in the land. As a result, many wealthy families call Whitestone home, and all of these have their own mercenary security forces to protect their houses and workshops. Not that much of a public militia was needed, although a small force controlled by Torrance’s good friend General Taramin remained active. The public militia was subsidized by a public ordinance crafted by the wily Lord Torrance. Each family above a certain income level committed a number of troops from their own personal guard units to the city’s defense. This made the city’s safety a concern of all the wealthiest families, although it required the charismatic and skillful general to keep all the different house troops in line.

Whitestone also boasts a small theater, Ian’s second home, and the famous University of Majere that attracted scholars from all cities of Klarn. For such a small city, Sayre is a shining beacon of light. Lord Torrance positions himself as the island’s darling star.

Whitestone’s isolated, neutral location and advanced culture of Sayre made it the natural meeting place for the great powers the exist within Klarn. It was where they gathered once every decade, good times or bad, to discuss the issues of the day. Ian has been groomed for this purpose and in this role he came to know many worldly people including some of the Lords of Mendelland, both Lord Istar and Lord Mendel had seemed to take a particular interest in him even inviting him to travel to their legendary home hidden within the impenetrable Darkhaunt Wood.

EofframEoffram, the dark brooding master of the Troyas estate had eagerly awaited Ian of Sayre, still anxious for any imagined advantage over his ambitious sorcerous brother Zefram.

Eoffram realized that his brother had Overlook, and very nearly the Elsir Vale, firmly under his control. Eoffram had been outmaneuvered at every move and negotiation. Frustrated Eoffram learned quickly and he now sought to extended his vision and his political reach outward beyond the Elsir Vale, and as such he was eager to make the best impression possible with this young nobleman from Sayre.

How disturbing then when near as soon as Ian’s arrival, Eoffram received a magical sending from Zefram requesting his attendance at an emergency meeting of the Council of Elders within Overlook.

"How can we forget the suffering of our kin during the Age of Chains? How can we set aside those ancient grudges when the risk of slavery is now greater than ever? Fellow warriors, the orcs where nothing compared to this! It falls upon us to defend the city—to hold fast no matter their numbers or the make-up of our foes. If we falter, if we give in, there might not be any left to mourn us. Now is the time for men, dwarves and even elves of courage to stand up and defend our homes. The enemy has come to us and even now he is at our very doorstep!"

Accompanying Eoffram, Ian had ridden a fast steed to Overlook in a day’s time, just in time to attend the emergency session of the Council. As they arrived at the city soldiers appeared to escort them through the streets of Overlook and straight to the gates of the mighty Caer Overlook, until they finally reach the imposing doors of the High Hall. Standing at the door speaking with the guards they spy a pair oddly dressed travelers, a crazed-looking fiery halfling accompanied by a handsome half-elf bard.


"We are visitors from Mendelland, we have come to assist you," argues the bard speaking to a guard.

The guards barring their approach to Caer Overlook, Fin thinks to himself, regardless of their need for security it would have been simple to talk his way into the meeting if not for Vani threatening to blast the guards to ‘Land of the Dead’ itself. Ah well … if time were not so pressing it still wouldn’t be an issue. Throughout the day, there had been a steady hum of conversation, punctuated with the ringing of bells, the angry shouts of guards as they escorted their worthy charges through the press of the rabble. At the very least he had talked the Captain into sending a runner to the Council chambers after he told the Captain that Vani was a cousin to Overlook’s hero ‘Bairdyn’ of the riverfolk. Even now Fin could see one of the Council’s aides approaching.

Sitting on his tushes upon the steps of mighty Caer Overlook, the sprawling fortress of stone that had been hauled out from the depths of the earth in the very mines the dwarves excavated by the dwarves during their dark days of their enslavement to the giants, Fin and his fiery friend waited. The castle itself consisted of eight round towers arranged in a star pattern surrounding a central keep capped with a domed roof. Hedging in all the towers and the keep is another stone wall, taller than the wall bounding the High Hall, over 200-feet tall. It was at the foot of this wall the two ambassadors waited and now as the aide approached, off in the opposite direction the crowd parted revealing the approach of two others, Councilman Troyas of Brindol and a patrician Fin recognized as Ian Whitestone of Sayre.

Welcomed within the Council chambers the four travelers approach the dais in the center of the chamber. There standing on the dais in the center of the chamber three of the Council’s five members, as well as several more soldiers and High Priest Durkik Forgeheart talking pensively with someone who appears out of place, a half-elf who might be a farmer from his dress.

Great Elder Morgoff leads the discussion, as the guard officers and High Priest Durkik listen within what is obviously a war room. It is equally clear that they are here to discuss the city’s defenses.

Ian, Eoffram, Vani and Fin stand in a perfectly square room of stone walls. A table in the center of the room boasts an intricate model of Overlook, while each of the walls showcases maps of the surrounding area. Quickly Great Elder Morgoff asks Durkik to offer a prayer to Moradin to open the meeting.

Once done with his prayer, “I was hoping to wait until all our members were present,” the Great Elder says without preamble, “but we’ve still not heard from Elders Itrika Mountainhome or Olman Sledgemore. They are, presumably, occupied with other duties and our messengers haven’t reached them to tell them of this emergency conclave and we’ve no more time to wait. High Ancestor Durkik, as well as several other citizens, such as Priestess Lavinya, have told us a bit of what’s been happening in our city. But I’m given to understand that you (he says addressing the first the farmer and then the newcomers in total) can tell us far more. Please, what’s going on? Is Overlook in danger?"

TherenThe farmer starts off, "My name is Theren, I am a simple farmer. I don’t know anything about war and less about fighting. All I can do is tell you what I’ve seen."

"My farm was located outside the walls of Overlook, west of the city. I say was because my farm is gone, just as are most of my friends."

"It has been said that those who survived have you to thank for their salvation." points out Elder Cadrick.

Ignoring the statement Theren continues, "They came in the night … there were a lot of them. I awoke to the sound of wings in the night. I could see all them, but I can’t even tell what all of them were."

"But there were troll among them and there were orcs and gnolls. I believe I saw a minotaur too. There were dark shadows gliding through the sky upon swept, still wings, not the wings of a bat or a bird. There were cries in the night, flames and chaos … all the usual fruits of war."

“Overlook is a martial city. We have mighty walls, strong soldiers. But we are accustomed to fighting foes such as orcs, not monstrous enemies such as trolls, who rise again each time they fall. My friends, you have more experience with such things. Will you help us plan? And would you make yourselves available to us throughout the siege, to deal with such dangers as our guards— skilled though they are … are unprepared to face? I offer you what reward I can for your help, though I cannot cite you numbers or amounts until I see what resources remain when— and if—Overlook survives the coming days?” asks the Great Elder.

Finellior speaks up, "This threat to your city is the very reason we have come. Vani is among Mendelland’s most powerful sorcerers, the explosive power of his spell is the stuff of legend, and dare I say exactly what you will need to counter the trolls this farmer describes."

In response, the halfling lifts a glowing dagger high into the air, faster than anyone can respond, flames rise from the ground circling the halfling perilously while lightning arcs off the dagger in all directions lighting up the chamber brilliantly as the lightning dances upon the surface of the heavy stone within the chamber. 

Vani, ends the display with a boastful, "Ta DA!" as the guards quickly surround him.

Fin step between Vani and the guards as they approach saying, "Trust me, you don’t want to tempt him, rather be thankful that he is on your side. This was just a small demonstration of what he has in store for your trolls!"

With the Elders urging, the guards return to their posts. Elder Cadrick asks, "Even with your friend’s obvious power, he is still only one, and a small one at that. What other measures would you suggest?"

Again Fin speaks up, "You should arm your men with fire. Have oil available at every gate and peat laid at the foot of the walls so you can light the trolls on fire should the need present itself."

"It won’t matter, there are worse thing than trolls. Fighting will only beget more fighting." suggests Theren.

"I am reminded that Athena is celebrated as both a goddess of wisdom and war. Theren did their attack appear to be a matter of whether you fought or not, or rather a case where this city must fight or die? You were a witness to an attack, was there any offer of surrender?" asks Ian.  

"No, those who surrendered and those that fought died just the same," answers the farmer.

"Well we can’t all run away." points out Eoffram.

"We should not question this man’s motives. If even half of what I’ve heard is true this man Theren is as brave as any in this room. And blessed with the gifts of Gaia as well." offers Elder Cadrick.

"I had hoped those heroes of the Brigade would have succeeded in delivering the Incunabulum Primeval. I confess I sent them on a goose chase into the Mountainroot Temple several days past, none have returned." advises Durkik. "I fear the worst."

"What?!" exclaims Eoffram.

Then before anyone can answer, a human runner bursts into the chamber.

“My apologies for interrupting,” he gasps, “but Nine Bells is burning! A creature—gods, I’ve never seen anything like them—they’re flying over the district and dropping alchemical fire bombs! The local soldiers are dealing with some of them, but there are just too many!”

Great Elder Morgoff ’s shoulders slump. “I fear we’ve done all we can for now,” he says. “We must go and spread word to our soldiers of what is to come, and what they must do. My friends,” he says to the newcomers, “provided that you are willing to aid us, I would have you stay here at Caer Overlook during these trouble times, so that you can be ready on a moment’s notice, like now. I can have quarters prepared for your needs while you accompany this man. Can we count on you?"

The answer resounds within the chamber, a hearty "Yea!" from one and all.

Cast: Theren (PC/Josh), Finellior (PC/Tom), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Vani Firestorm (PC/Van), Ian Whitestone (PC/Andy)

Summary/Goals: Establishing their presence in the great city of Overlook, the PC’s offer advice to the Council regarding the preparations for war and agree to assist in the city’s defense.

SOW Chapter6: The Vault

The Vault

We went to the vault

Hag, harpies and quicklings found
They’re dead. Book is back.


As the party considers all that the Caretaker has said and makes preparations to pursue the hag, their shifter Notaku volunteers to assist the azer with his cleansing ritual.

Bhenedict speaks up, “Damn you all this in not right, we live or die together! If Moradin be pleased by this waste of time than so should we all be happy dawdling while the hag makes off with the damned book.”

“The Incunabulum cannot leave the Mountainroot, I have sealed the way,” answers the Caretaker

“What of the General?” asks Bhenedict.

“He has passed already; he and his are gone,” answers the Caretaker.

“As should we all be… well let’s be done with it then,” concludes Bhenedict.

As the Caretaker prays the party responds … with clarity in most cases. Maxyzne (unusually reflective) think to herself, odd that half-orcs might be asked to offer up prayers to the god of dwarves. This being an indulgence not unnoticed. Try as she might she cannot take it seriously and she finds herself mind-wandering, anxious for the slaughter to come.

Maxyzne had not enjoyed a gentle past, nor could she enjoy one now; factually, Maxyzne had not a single ‘gentle’ bone in her body. Born of rape, raised a member of the Maat, a hard family of assassins, in which duplicity and cruelty garnered high-praise, Maxyzne had truly excelled. Now she was indeed as hard and sharper than the deadliest blade in the arsenal of weaponry she carried.

When at last the ritual of reconsecration is completed the green-skinned amazon takes in a deep breath and asks the Caretaker to explain once more about the passage to the vault.

“There are two methods of entry, both hidden. One, the main entrance is by way of a hidden door secreted within the wall of a dining hall. This door is wider than the other allowing for the entry of two abreast. The second is by means of a hidden passage located behind yonder statue. There is a trapdoor there which allows egress to a winding stair, the passage at the base of the stair heads directly to the vault. At the far-end of the passage there is a second stair which rises to a trapdoor set in the floor of the vault’s main floor … across from the hidden door.”

Following his description there is a brief debate and when that is complete the group decide that Maxyzne and Bingus’s familiar would travel by the passage while the others, Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Bingus, Shaden and Notaku would enter the vault through the hidden door; this all to the chagrin of Bhenedict who still thought they should enter together. Not too worried about the loss of a half-orc, finally Bhenedict agrees.

“Remember the Incunabulum Primeval belongs to Moradin’s church. You are sworn to turn it over to Moradin’s church!” reminds the Caretaker.

Maxyzne stops, holding up two fingers, she says, "First off all, I wanted to leave first and thus fourthly I will be on my way. As I said before, still holding up a pair of fingers, "Or nextly, we have talked too much already, time to get the book back to Durkik before Shaden wants to take a nap.”

“Remember the floor of the vault bears a number of weighted mechanical traps," calls out the Caretaker.

The Vault Map

As Bhenedict opens the hidden door it reveals an uneven room that was once clearly a repository of a sort. The walls are of heavy stone—heavier, even, than those seen elsewhere in the temple—and several short flights of stairs lead to vault-like rooms. These separate chambers boasting heavy portcullises, all but one of the gates being currently raised.

QuicklingsA pair of twisted, grotesque little humanoids, with dead gray skin and inhuman features, drop the coins they were examining as the door opens and Shaden races in to challenge them. In a blur the quicklings react racing about the towering half-orc slicing at him with paired blades, vicious looking hooked-daggers. Shaden parries with the reflexive quickness of an experienced duelist but finds himself unable to match their incredible speed as their small blades flash repeatedly tearing at his flesh. As if two were not bad enough, a third quickling appears from around a hidden corner joining their attack.

Bhenedict calls out racing into the vault behind Shaden, “Go ahead an’ run! I LIKE a movin’ target ye bug-faced, nose-pickin’, slimy bastitchs!” then promptly stumbles as the floor gives way beneath him opening to take his foot in a sharp embrace.

“What was that the Caretaker said?” asks Bairdyn to whoever might be listening; the halfling having failed to pay attention to the briefing himself. Ignoring the halfling, Bingus casts a spell, as Bairdyn carefully enters the vault cursing under his breath with every step, worried that he might end up trapped too while the quicklings continue to race about slicing at them with abandon, protected by their speed. Then suddenly Bairdyn spots pair of harpies, skulking just beyond two of the entries to the vaults and as he does they sing out in their horrid irresistible way!

Of the Brigade, only Bingus and Maxyzne remains safe beyond the reach of the harpies magic. Maxyzne waiting silently within the secret passageway located beneath the floor of the vault and Bingus still within the entry vestibule, both remain unaffected by the song. All the others are drawn in, Notaku falls into the same trap that had held Bhenedict while Benedict crawls from the first to fall harder into a second trap. Shaden almost follows the dwarf as the harpy’s siren call grabs hold but he steels his will and falls to the grounds still crawling towards the harpy but stopping just short of the trap to fall, legs locked in place by the harpy‘s call. All the harpies’ victims are frozen in place … including even the quicklings but only for the briefest of moments. Ultimately the harpies magic proves to be no match for the quicklings speed and energy. As they free themselves they dart in a deadly dance cutting the trapped members of the Brigade. Even locked in place Shaden reacts reflexively slaying one of the quicklings and drawing the attention of the hag, Hethralga.

Padding softly, Maxyzne slips from the secret passage and takes the ten foot stair in a single vault while withdrawing a strong cord from a hidden catch in her bronze bracelet. As she hits the landing she spreads the cord between her hands and surprises the first harpy as she leaps gracefully, somersaulting over the bird-woman looping her neck as she lands pulling hard on the cord and cutting off the harpy’s song. Maxyzne crouches trying to pin the harpy but the bird-woman flaps furiously dragging Maxyzne into the air briefly before crashing back to the ground buffeting the half-orc all the way down.

Hethralga glares at Shaden with an evil-eye which the half-orc somehow feels. Once she has his attention she cracks open the Incunabulum and whispers a curse which fixes Shaden in place and melts his will; the curse’s psychic backlash causing the half-orc to bite-off a shriek of pain, instead he yells, “Do your worse hag, I can take it!” Grinning the Lady of the Deathly Song whispers a second crushing curse and cackles, "Speak again and you will feel even greater pain"; quickly Shaden draws the last of his mental resolve resisting the urge to yield; again he calls out, “Is that your best?” The hag smiles and croaks out a third devastating curse, crushing Shaden, forcing him to wilt and causing him into stagger backward into the trap.

Squeezing hard, her muscles as taunt as cord, inescapable, Maxyzne holds on as the harpy claws her in the midst of its death-throes. Bairdyn, freed of the dying harpy’s spell, is at first surprised that he hasn’t fallen prey to the traps but suddenly realizes that neither he nor the quicklings had been hampered by the traps and figures out that neither he nor the quicklings were heavy enough to trigger the weight-released traps.

Next to Shaden Bhenedict yells, “Get up ye slothful, lily-livered, steaming heap of troll dung! Make yerself useful, go slam yer head in a gate ye scabby arsed, whiny orcling! Do I have to do everything!” as an exclamation point he slams the backside of his gauntleted fist across the back of Shaden’s head still trying to encourage the half-orc to get-up. Notaku, also free of the spell charges up the stair towards the hag calling for Bairdyn to back him up. Arriving atop the landing he lifts the heavy gate in time to see the hag destroy the gnome’s familiar which had squeezed itself through the portcullis bars ahead of the shifter.

As Wolf approaches, the hag vanishes, teleporting to the lower floor of the vault,  behind both Notaku and approaching Bairdyn. The second harpy screams causing intense thundering pain to both Shaden and Bhenedict, so much so their ears begin to bleed; the force of the scream hurling them several feet in opposite directions. The two warriors struggle to regain their feet while Maxyzne races through the back halls stalking the remaining harpy. In a moment she finds the remaining harpy and taking the second harpy by surprise as well snares it with her garrote in the same manner as she had done before. Immediately Bhenedict rises charging across the floor of the vault hurling himself and the hag up against the wall pinning her with all his weigh aided by the power of his enchanted gauntlets. Shaden chases after the remaining quicklings and soon with the help of Bingus, Notaku and Bairdyn all of the quicklings within the vault are finally slain. Pinned by the angry dwarf, Hethralga doesn’t stand a chance. "Take that, ye gibbering, poetry-reading, fossil!" He yells landing one blow after another and soon she lies dead at Bhenedict’s feet. As she falls, peace descends upon the Mountainroot Temple.

Cast: Bingus (PC/Josh), Bairdyn (PC/Tom), Bhenedict (NPC/Vic), Wolf (PC/Mart), Shaden (PC/Van), Maxyzne (PC/Andy)

Summary/Goals: Recover the book from the hag to return to Durkik.