The Scales of War

Tomb raiders and ecchi ghosts

"The spectre touches you"

Last time we were here, our three heroes managed to save the stoned old lady, Zerriksa and cleared out the hobgoblin infestation in some parts of the Rivenroar Crypt. Today they are joined by new members and proceeded to rescue TWO more prisoners! That’s the spirit, guys. 3 down, 3 to go!

After resting from their last skirmish, the adventurers found and rescued Adronsius, the dwarven alchemist. Being sturdier and more fun to kick around than the frail humans, Adronsius was treated to a deluxe welcome by the hobgoblins and their nasty friends, the evil gnomes. Thunderwolf patched him up a bit, but he was in no condition to accompany the party on their quest. Gustav offered to take his kin back to Brindol, and to see if help was coming. Meepo decided to go with him partway, to ensure that they do not stumble upon a kruthik’s nest or some other awful beasts.

However, with only Thunderwolf by himself, how can the Crypt be scoured? Thankfully, help was on its way, albeit not quite what they were expecting.

While on its way to deliver the message, Thunderwolf’s animal messenger expired, but its message was still heard by two wandering heroes.

Azael is an Elven ranger who happened upon the bird as the last of its magics left its body. He was able to determine its magical origins, and from the message, he could pinpoint its starting location. Together with his traveling companion, Sir Santiago, a noble knight of Bahamut, they made their way to the ruins of the castle, in search of the bird’s creator.

The two parties met and became acquainted, and they learned that their purposes were similar. Thus, Thunderwolf, Azael and Santiago ventured further into the Crypt, while Gustav and Meepo headed back to Brindol. The new party, despite having just met, fought together like a well oiled machine. Between Azael’s well placed arrows, Santiago’s divine might, and Thunderwolf’s druidic magic, they quickly cleared a hobgoblin guard post near the entrance to the tombs.

Then, the three adventurers cautiously moved on to a room with a strange, shining portal. Thunderwolf identified it as a one-way portal leading from a faraway castle, once housing allies of the Rivenroar family. Before they could assess the portal any further, part of it shimmered and revealed itself to be a large ochre slime. The thing’s insides contained the bones of tattered rags of creatures it had devoured, a warning to all to beware its corrosive nature. Undaunted, the party readied themselves for a fight. What they did not expect was for the next two events to happen:

- From one of the crevices in the ceiling, a small, reptilian shaped descended and landed on the slime’s back. Balancing precariously upon the pieces of bone and armory that jutted out of the creature’s body, Meepo the kobold had joined the fray!

- Distracted by their ally’s entrance, Thunderwolf and Santiago did not notice the chill that seeped over them. Tendrils of darkness coalesce into form as the ghosts of murderers and villains manifested themselves behind the two heroes, their cold, dead hands reaching out, as if to take hold of the adventurer’s souls (or fondle them, depending on the context).

Startled, but fearless, Santiago issued a divine verdict in the name of his god and proceeded to smite one of the spectres with radiant energy. Hurt, but not yet banished, the ghosts turned invisible and bode their time. Meanwhile, Azael was busy at work, firing shot upon accurate shot at the ooze, while Meepo did his own part to help out, shouting encouragement and hacking away with his trusty war pick. Thunderwolf wasn’t sitting this battle out, either. His evocations hindered the ghosts and ooze, creating openings for his allies and holding them in place as the heroes worked on defeating them.

The monsters were not going without a fight, despite the damage they had taken. A hail of arrows split the ochre jelly in twain, but both halves retained the strength and ravenous nature of the original. Hurling themselves at the druid and the warlord, their massive strength combined with the corrosive acid they leave on one’s body was anything but pleasant. One of the spectres made its way next to Azael, determined to not let him get away unscathed. Its counterpart wasn’t doing so well, however. Caught between Thunderwolf’s evocations and Santiago’s smites, it was no wonder when Meepo finally banished it, he could utter the comment : “I guess it never had… a ghost of a chance!”

Once the spectres perished, the oozes were quick to follow. An unexpected boon came in the form of a magical plate armor that lied undamaged within the oozes’ bodies. Saying his thanks to the spirit of the warrior that once possessed the item, Santiago donned the protective gear. In times of dire need, this set of armor is known to provide its owner with strengthened resolve, helping them to recover their vitality and continue to battle.

A short rest later, and our heroes were ready to explore once more. Here, they had two choices: to follow the words of Adronsius and pursued a path that would lead to another prisoner, or enter an unknown portion of the crypt. While they were resting, Azael had scouted ahead and reported several hobgoblins in a room that contained four sarcophagi (curse that word and its pronunciation). He also took this chance to explore the mushroom chamber, accessible via the pits in the corridor that led to the room with the sar… coffins!, and procured some cloudspores for later use.

After making short work of the hobgoblins (and their pet drake), the heroes searched the room, and found two suspicious looking altars to the god Bane. A closer look revealed that the altars had been redecorated after the hobgoblins got here, and was likely dedicated to some other deity before. In a display of strength rather unusual for a kobold, Meepo lifted off the heavy lids of the sa…coffins. The party found a shirt of interwoven chains on the body of a tall, regal looking skeleton. It was definitely magical from the fact that it remained unaffected by age and wear. Another coffin, this one belonging to a more feminine corpse, revealed a well-wrapped parcel containing an orange gem that served to augment the power of spells cast through it. Being the pragmatists that they are, our heroes decided that such perfectly sound equipment should not lie wasted with those who no longer have any use for it. Nay, it made perfect sense to take them, for they were buried with the dead for that very reason. When our party members perish, they surely will bury their magical gear with them, so that future adventuring parties may make use of such equipment in their righteous quests! Thus Meepo and Thunderwolf came into possession of the chain shirt and the gem. The armor seemed to react to bold decisions, becoming more resistant to blows when its wearer takes a heroic course of action. A more fitting armor for our little kobold, there may be none.

While they may look like tomb raiders, our heroes are not without heart. They captured one of the hobgoblins for questioning, and they found out about the hobgoblins alliances with the gnomes. They also learned that a prisoner was being held in an altar room just nearby. Making haste, they hurried into the room, and was shocked to find the sight of Mirtala, the cook, chained to an altar at the far end of the room, while giant rats scurried about. In their moment of hesitation, the hobgoblin slipped away from under their watch and ran to the back of the room, where he disappeared into the shadows…

What is more unsettling than fighting dire rats in a tomb, you say? Fighting dire rats in a tomb while being watched by creepy statues. Four towering statues of displacer beasts watched the adventurers as they chopped, hacked, slung spells and arrows at the giant, filth-ridden, disease carrying rats, their amber eyes glowing eerily in the dark chamber. Fortunately, the rats are only large in size, and their chitter is worse than their bite. One of them managed to sink its fangs into the gaps in Santiago’s armor, and he felt the poisonous disease sapping away his strength. The paladin’s resilience and devotion allowed him to resist the filth fever that was inflicted upon him, however, and he managed to stop the disease from getting worse. At the same time, one of the more unfortunate rats was thrown into the air by Meepo’s pick, and subsequently split in two by Santiago’s Fullblade.

The battle looked almost won, but from the shadows, two crossbow bolts fired upon the party. One missed Meepo courtesy of his height, but the other one struck him solidly. The attack went unnoticed by all except Azael. The elf navigated past the rats and the hobgoblin that had jumped into the fray a few seconds ago and returned fire at the skulking gnomes hiding at the back of the room. With the front line covered, Thunderwolf moved to help the ranger. He conjured not one, but two fiery hawks to swoop at the stealthy gnomes, keeping them from firing their weapons at the party. Soon, the rats and the hobgoblin went down, and the two gnomes also suffered from fates most dire. One of them had a hole punched through his chest from Thunderwolf’s evocation, and the other was pinned to the wall by two well-placed arrows.

With the battle over, our heroes tended to Mirtala. First, they freed her from her binds and treated her injuries. She was under heavy mental trauma, and suffered from several rat bites that left her with a severe case of the filth fever. Neither words nor bandages would help much here, but there’s nothing a healthy dose of Lay on Hands can’t cure. As her complexion improved and the disease slowly fading from her body, the party coaxed Mirtala into revealing the whereabouts of the other prisoners. They learned where the curator for the Hall of Great Valor, Sertanian, was being held, and they decided to first get Mirtala outside the dungeon before pursuing further actions. Thunderwolf carried the exhausted cook outside in his wolf form, and set up a ritual that summoned a convenient campsite for the group to rest while planning their next step.

The party had cleaved a nice path through the minions of Sinruth, and were closer to rescuing the prisoners than ever, but time was running short. When will the hobgoblins sacrifice another prisoner, like they did with Kartenix? What is the identity of the undead guardians of the dungeon, of which only two spectres were seen? How will they find and confront Sinruth, the cause of the recent attacks on Brindol? Tune in on the 24th of January to find out!

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