Monday, 22 October 2012

[AD&D] The village of Hommlet session 12 summary

From the notes of Alric Brethencourt of Veluna

Earthday, 20th day of Coldeven, dusk, the hidden entrance to the ruined moathouse

As we were gathered in the cold, foggy dark of night outside the secret moathouse passage, our ranger Kazireh suddenly became aware that someone was heading our way, at the very least one heavily armoured individual. For a moment we fretted; reinforcements of the evildoers, trying to catch us unaware from the rear? But then an unobtrusive birdcall seemed to put Kazireh at ease: a sign from the rangers of the Gnarley. And indeed, not long after a small company arrived, composed of some welcome familiar faces, and some new ones. None other than the recently vanished Philius Tilm, agent of the Kron Hills Gnomes led their number. At his side walked our companion Basil, who despite his dubious line of work had proved himself a decent sort and a trustworthy fellow. Joining them were an Elf and a Dwarf, both rather sturdy looking for their respective races. The Dwarf was clad all in plate and carried a sharp looking axe with him; while the Elf, wearing the robes of a practitioner of the magical arts, had a bow slung over his shoulder and a sword on his hip. A raven followed him too, which I heard being referred to as Elronny. Let it be noted here that at this point our company began to resemble a traveling menagerie.

 They introduced themselves as Eeli Goldblade, disciple of Clangeddin, one of the Lortmill, and Emariel of the Kingdom of Celene, sent by his superiors to aid us after Ellaria had returned to North Elfguard. Philius bore the glad tidings that, thanks to the influence of the viscount, these two had been sent to assist us on our perilous mission. Basil too vouched for them, and had personally seen lord Burne verifying their credentials. We had little time for proper introductions however: it had now been more than an hour since we had last seen our companion Tuffnell, and time was surely against us. Eeli and Emariel’s fortuitous arrival at this moment was a great relief and convenience - perhaps even suspiciously so. One whose faith in the grand scheme of things wavers in such dark moments could be assumed to harbour suspicions in his heart of hearts. However, I saw the hand of a superior being in this chance encounter, a sign clear for all to see, that good will always triumph, even when the night is at its darkest and the mind, in despair, turns to all but the grimmest thoughts. But we could no longer tarry. Our newfound companions would prove their allegiance and mettle in battle soon, no doubt. Having own matters to tend to, Philius vanished into the night once more, and our company set out, carefully descending into the tunnel, in search of the errant druid. Chose to stay behind, wary of the possibility of an ambush still, to make sure the entrance was guarded and our horses, packed with most of our belongings, remained safe. Writing this now, with the added benefit of hindsight, perhaps it was a tactical mistake; but as things turned out the way they did, I believe it was fated to be, divine providence if you will.

The plan was that Basil would use his professional acumen to approach the door quickly and silently and open it, while the rest of our party followed him from a short distance. Stood watching the approach to the tunnel, when suddenly I heard the echo of a loud bang coming from behind me, reverberating off the stone walls of the passage. Something was clearly amiss; I only hoped it was not too late yet. Immediately mounted my destrier Harros, grabbed my lance, and charged down the darkness of the tunnel towards the faint light in the distance. Mixed shouts now reached me, as well as the wails and cries of ghastly, abominable undead. Harros flew with great speed, but I proved ill prepared for what I would find down there.

A tangled, frantic battle was taking place, with our company hard pressed. As there was little room for a controlled charge I reined in my horse hard, and in that moment I could overlook the carnage from a little to be envied vantage point. Before me in a pool of blood lay the body of the Halfling Basil, savagely bitten by what seemed to be reanimated corpse of Weebrian’s former dog Rotter. The cleric Eeli lay slumped in an unnatural fashion against the wall of tunnel, with a ghoulish gnoll climbing over him. Chryseis was locked in combat with a decaying bugbear, but at that very moment fell to a paralyzing rend of its claws. A few feet ahead of this melee what looked like a large spider’s web barred access to the door just beyond, and two ghouls, entangled in it, were desperately trying to rip free of it, when suddenly it burst into flame as Weebrian, stood right next to me, muttered an arcane incantation. The web burned quickly and brightly, charring one of the ghouls while granting the other the opportunity to free itself. Now the door came back into a view, and what could be seen there sent a chill down my spine. Standing at the entrance of his mistress’s underground lair, flanked by two crossbow wielding Dark Elves was none other than the vile Silas Rac, lieutenant of the Temple’s Keep and the most dangerous of Lareth’s lackeys, brandishing his cruel two-handed sword that had been my undoing on our previous encounter. With some effort we dispatched the remaining ghouls standing between us as the Drow, as Silas stepped into the tunnel to meet our challenge. Despite her skill, Kazireh could not stand her ground against the onslaught of blows that Silas unleashed. Then a series of very peculiar occurrences took place. I noticed, from the corner of my eye, one of the Dark Elf bodyguards suddenly drop to the ground, while Silas advanced in my direction. At the same time, due to a spell courtesy of Emariel, I rapidly began to grow in size, so much so that I thought it best to dismount before the strange magic spooked Harros. Alas I had little time to familiarize myself with my new dimensions; as but moments later Silas brought down his sword upon me. Blackness rushed up to greet me as I too fell, my last waking moment a distorted impressions of hundreds of blue butterflies fluttering all around me.

Then suddenly, with a jolt, I awoke, as an unseen hand poured a healing tonic down my throat. Aching, I tried to get up, but too late. The fiend Silas had turned his malice on our companion Emariel, and inflicted a most grievous wound upon him, with such force that no Elf or Man could have withstood it. Emariel too was slain by the forces of evil, but the tide of battle was about to turn. A gobbing sound could be heard nearby, and a globule of poisonous spit caught the back of Silas’s head. The mighty warrior fell, paralyzed, by the feet of the dead Elf, bested by the most unlikely of opponents; the toad Mr Timmus. Wasted no time in preventing him from rising ever again and with exultant, righteous fury I drove the Song Spear deep in his flesh and that of his fellow Dark Elves. Chryseis meanwhile brought out the precious flask father Lightweather had presented us with when we left Verbobonc. Quite assuredly she administered its contents to Emariel, and lo and behold, the latter suddenly drew breath once again.

There was no time for rejoicing however, as then the Canoness Warden of the Temple’s Keep herself, Lareth the self-styled Beautiful, appeared, with a throng of zombies at her beck and call, and far worse, our friend and companion Tuffnell, wearing but his underclothes, on a leash. I will not tarnish these reminiscences by repeating any of her foul utterances; let it be recorded that Chryseis boldly stepped forward to meet her, paying no heed to her vile and twisted words, while the revived Eeli invoked the name of Clangeddin and sent the zombies staggering back. Then Weebrian, wielding magics the likes of which I did not know he was capable of, sent a bolt of lightning streaming by, cutting short the unlives of Lareth’s reanimated minions and injuring the Canoness. At this point I had caught up with Chryseis and, noticing that something was definitely amiss with Tuffnell, cast him to the ground so he would not turn his mystical powers on his allies in his confusion. This in turn must have angered his faithful companion Timmus, who then used his poison on me, to great effect. I felt my muscles cramp and stiffen, and helplessly I fell to the ground. What passed then I cannot clearly recall, but more lightning was hurled at Lareth by Weebrian, and then a great explosion ensued, a deafening blast that threw Tuffnell against the wall beside me. Some time passed before I was able to stand up and walk. My companions were already gathered around what little remained of Lareth, the once Beautiful. Apart from some enchanted pieces of her equipment, there was no trace remaining of her, not even a stain left to remind the world that once she walked it. Unfortunate victim of our spectacular if unexpected victory was Reggie, Kazireh’s dwarven tunnel hound. Of him too, nothing was left. But his demise is of little import here. We defeated a great evil, but at the cost of the life of one of our valued companions. Rest easy, brave Basil, your friends will remember and honour your sacrifice always.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

[AD&D] The village of Hommlet session 11 summary

From the notes of Alric Brethencourt of Veluna

Moonday, 17th day of Coldeven, the village of Hommlet
With the immediate threat to the village dealt with, our company took the time for some much needed rest, recuperation and training after our triumphant return from the moathouse. Our elvish companion Ellaria left us to return to North Elfguard, to make a new report to her superiors. Likewise Wilstan departed, saying he had business to attend to with his order. We spent a score of days in Hommlet, toward the end of which period a small detachment of squires and men at arms of the Order of the Hart rode into town, bearing an urgent message from Verbobonc for sir Otis. The missive was from none other than alderman Enoch Crowe, chairman of the council of guilds, requesting our presence for a meeting to specially convene the next day. It seemed our repose had come to an end. Basil and Madrak chose to stay in Hommlet for the time being, while the rest of us set off for Verbobonc by way of Etterboek, there to reunite with our companions Weebrian and Chryseis. Joining us would be some new animal additions to our party, Kazireh’s tunnel hound Reggie and a rather odd toad called mr. Timmus, which had become the ward of our druid Tuffnell, or vice versa. We traveled to Verbobonc with all due haste, together with sir Otis and the men from the Order of the Hart. When we reached the city it became clear it was not left untouched by the threat looming to the south either. The number of guards seemed to have increased, and the defenses and fortifications at the gates bolstered.

Once in the city proper, we met up with the rest of our number and made for the council house without further delay. Happy to report that the reception we received was markedly different from the one a month ago. After some light refreshments we were ushered into the council room, where alderman Crowe and the sage Mellium awaited us. It became clear that our assignment was far from over. The Viscount requested our services for another month, to further investigate the rise of evil in the area of Hommlet. Due to the troubles in the north, the alderman could unfortunately not give us much in the way of aid; having no men to spare and few resources at his immediate disposal. He did tell us to return the next morning, as he would make certain arrangements. We showed the letters we found in the ruined moathouse to the scribe Mellium, and he was much intrigued indeed. In return he provided us with a copy of a map and a cryptic poem, both from the village of Nulb, about the rise of the temple of elemental evil. Perhaps these will prove useful in time.

Made my way to the Sword & Board after the meeting was concluded, an inn frequented by members of the Guild of the Guards. Shared a few drinks and struck up a conversation with a certain captain Roads, who seemed a good sort, and discussed the possibility of joining the Guards with him. Still needed to settle my accounts with the Adventurer’s Guild, so retired for the night to the guild house afterwards.

The next day, a rather drab and dreary Godsday, we reconvened at the council house after taking the time for the first chance at proper observance in the last month. Mellium had come through for us, and we were joined by a follower of Roa, father Lightweather, who donated several jugs and jars of healing ointments and other substances to our cause. He also provided us with a powerful healing rod, which unfortunately either did not work anymore or the proper activation method had been forgotten. Confident though that Weebrian or Chryseis will unravel its mysteries sooner or later, perhaps in a time of dire need. Since we had heard no news from Wilstan, the gifts could not have been more appropriate. As we headed out, in order to return to Hommlet as quickly as possible, we were greeted by a very strange teleporting dog. Weebrian however was familiar with the animal, and it became clear the creature belonged to his mentor, the gnomish illusionist Blasphemy Rumtum. We met the master for a quick chat, and he seemed approving of Weebrian’s work so far. Our pressing business in Hommlet left us with little time for further pleasantries, so after signing up at the Guards and becoming a probationary member, my companions and I saddled up and left Verbobonc behind us.

After some miles it became clear we would not be able to reach Hommlet before nightfall. Taking into consideration the ambush we rode into the first time we came to the village, we decided against going further that day. We would have an excellent opportunity to escape the chill when we would pass through Etterboek, as the guest house there, the Golden Cockerel, was quite the pleasant establishment, and renowned for its honey cakes. Would not normally deem it necessary to mention the more insignificant details of our journeys, but in this instance the visit to the inn proved rather out of the ordinary. Several wagons were pulled up near the Golden Cockerel, but paying it no heed, we had our horses stabled and entered the warmth of the common room. As I looked over the assembled patrons around the fireplace, my stomach clenched and a feeling of panic came over me. A company of dwarvish wagoners sat gathered there, drinking and making merry. For most this would be no issue; but immediately my mind turned to what would happen if they discovered a person such as myself in the possession of the Song Spear, a priceless heirloom of the ancient Lortmill kingdom. Tried to leave the common room without being noticed, but before I could reach the stairs I heard one of the Dwarves shout after me. What I feared indeed ensued, as the Dwarves discovered the spear and then demanded to know how it had come in my care. To assuage their anger I found myself in the unpleasant center of attention as I recounted the story of my late grandmother Alyssa, though how even she had eventually come upon the spear I did not know. The story seemed to satisfy the Dwarves however, and soon they returned to their own storytelling and merriment. Before I could slip off, one among their number, the wagonmaster Ranmas, asked me to step outside with him. Agreed to do so, and though I have to admit that my suspicions were aroused again, they proved unwarranted. Apparently the story I told had moved Ranmas so that he wanted to make amends for the initial distrust. He handed me a mithril coin and asked me to put some flowers on grandmother’s grave, a request I intend to honor as soon as our situation permits us.

The grey weather from the previous day had turned into a storm that remained appropriately unabated for the rest of Waterday. Arrived in Hommlet in the evening, and as there were few hours remaining in the day and we were rather weary after the being on the road the entire day, we headed for the Welcome Wench without delay. It proved to be another busy night at the inn, and among the regulars I noticed Fernok of Ferd, who seemed to have taken Basil under his wing, and the mysterious black-skinned fighter and pale, red robed Seol monk which had earned the dislike of my companion Weebrian. Kazireh struck up a conversation with them over the course of the evening and seemed to earn their trust to a certain extent, learning their names: Kobort and brother Moore. Myself I had a chance encounter with Gremag Hox. Surprisingly enough the man turned out to be quite amenable, and delivered the good news that the Seer Foe, purportedly stolen, had once again found its way into their possession. Made arrangements to pick it up the following morning, while the others were to meet with sir Rufus to discuss the latest instructions from the viscount.

After our respective errands the following morning, we set off despite the grey and cold weather towards the ruins of the moathouse. Personally would have preferred to travel to Nulb and see if we could learn more about Lareth’s dealings there, but as I vowed to accompany Chryseis if she were to return to the moathouse to cleanse it of any remaining evil, I had little choice but to comply.

We took shelter from the gathering storm at High Watch, which was deserted in Elmo’s absence. After about an hour the weather cleared up, but as the ranger deemed the sodden old way too treacherous for our horses, we ended up taking the low road around the marshland. This way we only reached the ruined keep late in the evening, safely, but perhaps not unnoticed, as we heard several blasts of a horn off in the distance. We had hoped to surreptitiously enter the moathouse using the hidden passage, through which had left the ruins after our previous incursion, but after fruitlessly searching for it for half an hour, we had to abandon this plan, despite being sure we were in the right area. Instead we made for the moathouse proper and, warily, decided to investigate. Tuffnell, Kazireh and Chryseis would climb over the rubble of the broken curtain wall, while Weebrian and myself would stay behind to guard the horses. Then things started to happen, without my knowledge in quick succession. We suddenly heard cries coming from the moathouse, as Kazireh, scouting ahead, had come upon the giant snake that had harassed us on our previous intrusion as well. Weebrian and I made for the main entrance, but found the portcullis lowered and lost precious time raising it by hand, while Chryseis by then had entered the ruins and discovered Kazireh paralyzed by the snake’s poison. Tuffnell meanwhile had slipped while climbing up and fallen into the filthy moat, together with his pet frog. By the time we had reached Kazireh and Chryseis, the snake lay dead, but when we returned outside, there was no more trace of Tuffnell. My companions found a set of tracks leading off into the woods, no mean feat in the growing darkness, but it seemed to have been made by multiple individuals, much to our alarm, and they followed it with great speed while I took care of Kazireh. Eventually she came to, not much worse for wear, and when Chryseis and Weebrian returned we all set out to find the errant druid. We kept following the tracks, despite them becoming very hard to read after a while, up until a point where they suddenly ended. Then it became clear that some illusory magic was in play, because subsequently we discovered there once again the hidden tunnel leading to the lower levels of the moathouse, hidden from plain view. Encouraged by our luck, we made for the door…