Godsday, 25 Reaping, 1468 CY
The group got to know their newest addition, L, a little more while they waited for Irjan to return from scouting, and Skien spent some time fashioning a harness/leash with L to put around the drake he was trying to foster. When Irjan returned and mentioned a surviving dwarf, Tanner urged the others to hurry so they could save at least one of the Monastery’s dwarves—it was such a sad story to this point.
The others followed, and they ventured back down the tunnels (though the drake had to be left outside because it wasn’t accustomed to enclosed spaces), following Irjan’s lead. As they came closer to the brightly lit cavern before them, the roaring of flame and the anger of an orc made clear to Diony and a few others that the biggest orc—rather orog—was beating a dwarf senseless. It looked like a passage to this cavern had been collapsed, and a large fire blazed, blocking much of the rubble from view.
A magic missile hit the big brute in the back of the head, and he whirled, urging his soldiers to attack as he backhanded the dwarf and knocked the savagely-beaten paladin down in an unconscious heap. Grymm led the charge, savagely cutting down a soldier as Irjan and Diony loosed arrows and bolts alike. Some orcs heard the commotion from back in the tunnels and they came to attack the party from behind, but That Bitch told the others to fight onward and held them off single-handed, his hammer glowing with divine power.
Skien fought his way into the midst of battle, dealing increasing damage with his fullblade, but then the blazing fire started to spread. The shifter was the only one who could disengage from the fight, and he sprinted to the unconscious dwarf and pulled him away from the fire, stabilizing him and careful to also keep him away from the blazing-hot forges that burned along the sides of the cavern. L kept Diony and Grymm on their feet, and in a white-hot rage the berserker brought his axe down between the feet of the towering orog, embedding it deep in the floor. With a grunt of effort, he freed it from the stone, slicing the orog down the middle and disemboweling him.
The fight ended soon after, and the party searched for treasure and made their way back through the tunnels before the fire could spread much farther. They got a good look at the dwarf, seeing that his beard had been cut roughly from his face and he was covered with massive contusions and blood. Finally he awakened, croaking an oath to Moradin, and saw the party (except L who hung back for a little bit) for perhaps the first time. He introduced himself as Kalad, a paladin of Moradin, and expressed his thanks to the group for their timely arrival. He told Irjan he would have followed him, but he knew that the tunnel had to be closed before still more orcs could come through.
At mention of other groups—particularly the Farstriders—being sent to close other tunnels, he gathered himself up and demanded that all of them venture there to make sure the tunnels got closed. “The fate of all the people in Elsir Vale can’t be left in the hands of only one group!” he exclaimed. The Hordebane told him that rest was more important right now, but that they could venture out after resting to make sure the tunnels at the Vents had been sealed. Once his axe and armor had been retrieved from the Chamber of Works, Kalad was more than happy to collapse in a disarrayed heap, and he immediately began snoring.
The others made camp at the base of the stairs in the rocky valley between mountains, setting up an alarm ritual. Kalad was the first to rise, and for a dwarf he was remarkably stealthy. Only Diony heard him and tailed the dwarf the short distance to the stairs where the paladin knelt, hands resting heavily on the haft of his axe. He remained motionless for some time, and gave no appearance of noticing if he knew Diony had followed or quietly slipped away afterward.
As the others began to awaken, Kalad returned with a haunted look about him. He expressed the importance of moving on quickly, and urged haste in making ready for travel to the Vents. The climb up the stairs was longer going up than it seemed coming down, but Kalad’s plodding footsteps were as steady as the stone he walked upon, regardless of the orc bodies strewn across his path.
Reaching the Hall of Heroes, Kalad seemed even more shaken. The great hall had partially collapsed, with the ceiling on one side having fallen to thirty or forty foot height, the other closer to sixty. Rubble and pillars were strewn about, hiding dead ends and blocking obvious paths across to reach the stairs up to the sanctuary. All of that was forgotten was Kalad saw his fallen brothers. He strode forward purposefully and began removing the rubble that had fallen to partially bury his comrades.
Diony expressed impatience: “Isn’t it urgent that we get to the vents?” and this spurred an argument between Skien and Diony that the others couldn’t help but get caught up in as the dwarf tirelessly unveiled the dwarves. He offered only a simple explanation once he had finished, “They will return to stone,” and added that the ceiling would collapse in 5 minutes so they had better hurry.
L led Irjan along the side of the hall, finding slow passage through the rubble that didn’t require much climbing. The others used rope to clamber over fallen pillars and heaps of rubble to find their way to the stairs. Kalad shouted over his shoulder for the others to hurry as he reached the stairs, having seen the climbers safely up. Sure enough, the ceiling began to fall just as L pushed Irjan the last ten feet to get him onto the staircase. They hurried up the stairs as a cloud of dust billowed up behind them, just reaching the blood-soaked floor of the sanctuary as the thick cloud overtook them and dispersed in the less-confined room.
Though Kalad wasn’t one for navigating in the dark, Irjan proved useful in guiding the party through the night toward where they hoped to find the Vents.
Waterday, 26 Reaping, 1468 CY
In the early dawn, noxious, sulfurous fumes met Irjan’s senses, and as the sky lightened the others could see faint pillars of vapors rising into the sky. The party continued to approach, and soon came upon the remains of an extinguished campfire with a handful of horses tied up with empty feed bags hanging from their necks. They pawed anxiously at the ground but otherwise showed no reaction as the party approached and looked around the area. Diony found some tracks that led down into the vents, and soon—after tying the drake up outside to keep it from being poisoned by the sulfur fumes—the group ventured down into the maze of tunnels hazy with colored smoke.
Navigating the vents took some trial and error (with all the noxious fumes to go with it) but eventually the forward scouts heard some orcs arguing up ahead. Creeping closer, elf and dragonborn discovered a small band of orcs with one trying to urge the others into the yellow-green fumes in the tunnels while the others pointed back the way they had come. Irjan and Diony wasted no time, and the orcs didn’t know what had hit them: from the hazy tunnels, two projectiles took out the leader in one fell swoop, and then the others raced out to avoid being bottle-necked in the tunnels—particularly once some orcs came up from behind: Kalad and That Bitch served as rear guard to protect their flank. The orcs fought hard, albeit poorly. In the midst of battle, Diony went down a few steps for better position, and realized that he was standing next to two pressure plates. When the orcs fell, he pointed them out to the others.
They discovered a familiar face on one of the orcs—well, familiar to everyone except L—one orc had the head of Jen, the charismatic warlock from the Farstriders, hanging from his belt. Though the group as a whole was pretty elitist and obnoxious, she had been nice enough to wish the Hordebane luck. After gathering the rest of the orcs belongings that were of interest, they proceeded to examine the long hallway that was before them. Diony continued looking for pressure plates—though he didn’t more than four—and L took a look at the constructs that stood motionless two-thirds of the way down the corridor.
The artificer determined that these constructs were guarding something, and with many pairs of eyes (not including Irjan’s), they spotted a control panel at the end of the hall that likely controlled all of the defenses. Slowly, with care to avoid any pressure plates, the group advanced toward the control panel. However, when they came within thirty feet of one of the constructs, the iron dogs charged to attack, and crossbow turrets emerged from the walls to fire barbed bolts at anyone within range.
Thinking quickly, Diony tried to jam one of the crossbow turrets with one of his own bolts, particularly once he discovered how painful the traps’ attacks were. Skien raced past the fight to reach the control panel, and received a lot of painful attention as ranged weapons turned to fire on him. Eventually, L made it past the skirmish to assist him with disabling the defenses, and the Hordebane survived the gauntlet.
Irjan felt his way up to the doors at the end of the large hallway, and discovered that they were not locked. Before anyone realized what he was doing, he opened the door slightly and heard an orc shout from beyond and then pounding feet. The dragonborn swiftly closed the door and attempted to jam it closed with the glaive he had picked up to serve as a walking stick. He braced himself to hold the doors as the others scrambled awkwardly to help him, and the orcs pounding feet came ever closer…
Orcs and the great orog hero, Og, were killed. The Farstrider’s warlock, Jen, is presumed dead after her head was found in the possession of an orc. Also some dwarven defenses in the Gauntlet were disabled.
- 515 XP to all players (Total: 4815).
- Kalad the dwarven paladin was rescued in the Chamber of Works where he sealed the tunnel
- Bracers of Archery taken by Diony
- Flensing Spear +1 taken by Grymm
- 2 Potions of Healing taken by ???
- 2 gems and 80gp added to Party Coin Purse