The City of New Haven and beyond

Storming the Keep

The group consisting of Lode, Drecaril, Guernan, Morning, and Valenthia after the introductions and belief that they all share a common goal in approaching Lord Bluto's Keep pack up camp and start to move out.  After several hours of travelling through the forest they come to a very large clearing in the middle of which stands a keep in the centre of some rolling hills and depressions.  The keep itself is on the most prominant rise and as such anyone on the roof would have a very advantageous view of the surrounding area. 

What grabs the attention of the group is the ten armoured militia men that are leading a group of six hyena headed furred seven foot tall creatures in shackles towards the keep.  Drecaril recognizing the beasts as Gnolls, a hated racial enemy of all his tribe wants to know why these creatures have not been killed on site but are being led around.  He jogs out from the wooded cover and hails the militia men in broken common and ask "why no kill gnolls?", "who you".   After a brief parlay where he explains himself as a wandering clansmen and ignores any reference to Bluto is offered a position working for the lord which he laughs at and assured that the gnolls will be slain returns to the cover of the woods.  

While Drecaril was talking with the militia men, it is Morning who gazing upon the keep and surrounding area realizes that it matches exactly the vivid dream he had that led him on the quest to discover what is going on in the keep… there was a flash of light in the rolling hills to the north of Bluto's Keep and after a brief talk with the group he convinces them that they should investigate that area first. Besides it is quite evident that an outright seige on the keep is not an option… although Drecaril does have an invitation to enter that does not leave many options for the rest of the party.

As the trek through the woods taking a round-about route and by the time they reach an area that looks upon the area that interests Morning so much.  In the fading light of dusk the sharp eyes of Drecaril and Valenthia notice that within the roling hills is what appears to be a cave mouth with a bright light coming out of it.  Unfortunately it is closer to the keep than they would have liked and even in the darkness it will take some skill to approach it  without alerting anyone who might be watching from the top of the keep.  Drecaril leads the way creaping up to a position much closer the cave but still a long bowshot away.  After noting that it is the light of a large fire pit that is shedding the illumination he brings the rest of the party up and they move up as stealthily as possible towards the cave trying to discover what lies within. 

Unfortunately their movements have not gone unnoticed as bowstrings twang out of the darkness and the group is peppered by arrows, although wether due to the darkness or to luck few of the arrows land and those that do are more glancing blows that do no significant damage.  The keen eyes of Valenthia, Lode and Guernan see the Gnolls in the darkness and Lode, leads Drecaril to them while Valenthia returns with her own deadly volley of arrows.  As soon as they engage the beasts six more came out of the cave mouth weilding wicked looking battle axes and a vicious melee follows.  But with the healings of Morning, the gnolls are outmatched by the sheer ferocity and skill of the adventurers.  

The party enters the cave mouth where a large fire burns and the acrid smoke burns the throats of them and the foul stench of the beasts fills the air.  As they move into a second cave with some water ankle deep flowing through they see several woman and children Gnolls huddling in a corner.  Drecaril knowing what the beasts have and do to his people when they raid his villages draws his sword with murder in eyes, a centuries blood feud fuels his anger… Lode seeing his intent rushes in and puts his back to the knife holding women and children and implores Drecaril to not kill the woman and children.  To the shock of all it is the elven female warrior who strides for with scimitar in hand and simply says "we kill them now, or they try to kill us later, I say we kill them all now"... the rest of the party stays out of this moral discussion but Lode buying time asks to question them while he thinks of a way to save these women and children from slaughter.  Killing monsters, men does not bother the noble dwarf, but killing those huddling in fear is crossing a line.  He starts to ask questions of the woman in broken goblin that angers Drecaril that Lode can speak a vile tongue that these creatures use… Lode not disturbed simply responds "know thy enemy to better defeat him"  and turns back to his interrogation, but the fear and anger at having their clan men killed drives the woman to attack Lode, and in defense kills one and once the blood has been shed Drecaril and Valenthia slaughter the remaining woman and children.  Lode with a heavy heart and mind can only shrug in despair at the killing but also realizes that what needed to be done was, he did all he could to try to save them.

After a search they see a drop off to a larger cave in the back of this one as well a locked chest that surprisingly opens with the magical key they found in below Bluto's house.  In the chest is what appears to be nearly a thousand mixed coins, a smattering of human bones and seven silver tipped arrows.  Wondering why there are human bones mixed in the chest and why the key opened the group decides that these are questions for another day and moves to explore the back of the cave.

There is a comical moment as the group is walking through a higher ceiling several small creature fall from above and one actually lodges in Lodes shoulder.  After quickly slaying them, and some jokes about Dwarven pets and delicacies the party moves forward.   

Drecaril not one to wait simply scrambles down the nearly ten foot drop to the bottom where with his 6'6 frame he easily helps the others down, in his attention to the helping of getting others down into the gloom he does not hear the scrabbling noises behind him and does not realize that he is standing in a cave littered with bones and human and humanoid remains…

As he helps Duernan into the cave he turns to see the others with weapons ready as foul smelling creatures with mottled rotting skin scrabble forward crawling more than walking towards the party with long malicious looking claws and an evil glint in there eyes the group of undead monstrosities swarm upon the party leaping and clawing and biting at any exposed skin.  With weapons raised and unleashing blows that would fell mortal men Drecaril Lode and Valenthia attempt to hack away at the ghoulish creatures… Morning attempting to draw upon his God's power to repel the vile creatures realizes that his normally strong connection to his god is somehow dimmed in this forsaken cave… Valenthia with her Elven heritage withstands the scratches from the creatures but Lode and Drecaril are not so fortunate, nor is Morning.  Each in time feel a deadly cold spread through their veins as seemingly harmless scratch after scratch sucks the ability to move from them, Lode with his Dwarven stubborness and Drecaril with pure rage try to fight off the paralyzing effects as much as possible but there a periods when both are struck completely immobile.. but with luck with them they manage to slay the last of the foul creatures and drawing in much needed breath and taking minutes to unstiffen seemingly frozen limbs the group takes full measure of their surroundings.  Being badly hurt and having exhausted all of the magic available to them they decide that it will be best to leave the cave and return the next night.   

The second night finds the cave the same as it was left.  At the rear of the cavern with the Gnolls and after a search three holy symbols are found, Loki, and one to Hel goddess of the underworld.  Which to morning does not make sense as Loki and Hel do not get along as Hel disdains Loki as a petty trickster not worthy of true godhood. 

At the back of the ghoul cave is a set up bars that are baring entrance into what is a clean cut chamber with three sarcophagi in the centre.    

Drecaril and Lode bend aside the bars in the great, actually cracking two from bending them past the breaking point.  as the party crawls into the obvious crypt weapons are ready and the sarcophagi are eyed quite warily wondering what sort of evil might lurk within.  Two doors lead from out of the crypt.  After determining that the crypts most likely only hold the remains of a long gone family the group turns to the doors.  Drecaril easily tells that one has recently been opened and opens it with Lode and Valenthia at his side… what they see is a dark sight indeed.  Another room has a sickly green glowing statue of the goddess Hel at the far end a larger sarcophagi rests in front of it.  As the door swings open four long dead humans and two long dead half-ogres rise from crumpled heaps on the floor, upon seeing these six abominations each weilding a wicked looking scyth, and the eerie glow coming from the statue Drecaril slams the door closed and the party backs away expecting the abominations to come through, although nothing happens.   The group decides on a quick battle plan with Guernan in a far corner behind Lode with Morning and Valenthia behind a sarcophagi and Drecaril opening the door then taking up defensive positions… as the creature rise up and with the door open move with alarming speed for the dead advance into the room, even clambering up onto the sarcophagi to get at Valeria and Morning… and they take blows that even the ghouls crumbled under, but without any paralyzing touch the group is able to give them a final peaceful resting, at least they hope so.   But it does not come without a price as Drecarils whole side and shoulder is opened from the wicked wounds inflicted from the scythes. 

It is at this point that S'oryl climbs through the hole leading to the ghoul cave… and mutters "just follow the dead bodies, and look what i find, more dead bodies".  Morning and Guernan examining the room with the vile statue come to realize that this is not a true statue of the goddess Hel but rather a careful mockery of her image… in fact the whole room has a wrongness that is beyond Hel.  For the goddess is the caretaker of the properly dead, she does not often suffer the undead to live unless sent back for a reason, or through the will of other gods or mortals… it just isn't right.  Lode understanding that the statue is a mocker decides to clamber up to the head of it and bracing against the near wall pushes with all his might toppling the statue onto the large sarcophagi and tumbling to the ground landing roughly and bruising more than just his ego.  S'oryl is amused but since someone else has taken the time to get into the sarcophagi he looks in seeing a withered body long dead in a very clean and intact black robe… thinking that the only cloth that could survive must have enchantments on it reaches in regardless of the potential risks and lifts it out, the dessicated body crumbling to dust with it.   But nothing else happens.

As the party goes through the other door they see along hallway with three doors and at the end iron rungs that seem to lead straight up through a vertical tunnel.  they enter into the first room and see a stone dais with a skeleton at rest with a great shield on top of him, a longsword, and an open scroll.  Also in the room a four one foot long over sized centipede like creatures that secrete a foul smelling ooze.  Upon stepping in the room the creatures start moving about on the floor in what the party realizes is spelling out words… "we human"  change "no kill"  after some questions the party ascertains that the scroll has a curse that turns those that read it into these sad creatures.  Drecaril understanding that the scroll is bad puts his torch to it in an attempt to burn it but this has no effect.  Morning and Guernan advise that attempting to burn a magical scroll could unleash a magical backlash (at this S'oryl and Valenthia back out of the room).  Lode as he is leaving the room behind Guernan and Morning suggests that the barbarian just leave the torch on the scroll because eventually it has to burn. Drecaril places his blazing torch on the scroll and walks out of the room, just as he is in the doorway there is a rocking crack as magical energy is unleashed and a wave of black energy slams Drecaril into the opposite wall.  As the party gets to its feet and looks in the room they see the scroll is gone, the sheild and sword are sundered in two, and the creatures that were once human are all obliterated.  

At the next door S'oryl says "hey, you guys can check this one, I don't think that there are any traps and it doesn't appear to be locked as he steps back".  Lode the Dwarf grunts and opens the door revealing a room with a large stone alter like structure across from the door and covering the walls is a continuous mural of black tentacles rising from the floor and grasping and violating all manner of humanoids as devilish looking creatures fly above the scene and spaced around are robed figures who watch the scene impassively.  Lode not impressed by the pictures strides straight toward the centre of the room and only goes about 8 feet when the floor beneath his feet falls away from him twisting mightily as he falls he is able to just grab the ledge before plummeting to whatever lies at the bottom of the pit, "come and get me you damned people" he yells.  Drecaril and Valenthia rush forward and lean over to try to grab the dwarf and haul him to safety, but what they see makes the blood in their veins run ice cold and roots them to the spot in sheer terror… for below the dwarf rising from darkness is a mass of writhing black tentacles.  The tentacles are so numerous that no shape or form can be discerned beneath them… just an overwhelming mass of writhing chaos.  One reaches up and grabs the dwarf and tears him from the ledge.  it is the sight of Lode struggling to draw his axe that breaks through the terror that grabs the barbarian and elven warrior as they attempt to grab the now unconscious dwarf and sever the tentacle while avoiding being grabbed and dragged over the edge themselves… S'oryl and Guernan stand in the doorway with Morning trying to hit the tentacles with arrows… as Drecaril grabs the unconscious Lode and he and Valenthia exit the room slamming the door behind them they hear S'oryl, "damn, I bet you that door across from that pit is just filled with treasure…"  Fool dwarf… how are we going to get to it now?  After arguing over the possibilities of tunneling to the room or braving the tentacles to get to the room the party decides to just leave it alone.  The last room before the ladder holds only two skeletons long dead although s'oryl does take a golden ring off of one and Valeria takes a fine woven gold chain from the other.

The party decides to climb the iron runs and to see where they lead.   After climbing for what seems a long time, perhaps 100 feet, maybe even 150 feet they come to a trapdoor that is easily opened and with Drecarils broad shoulders pushing it up and open they  enter into a large 30 by 30 room that is some kind of store room.  It is filled with various gear, weapons, hide armour, leather armour, goods… as they are looting around the three doors to the room simultaneously crash open and an armed garrison charges into the room!  Which in hindsight comes as no surprise as the group was not trying to be quiet while in the room.

As nearly 20 militia men, an armed captain, three wizards and a cleric charge in a chaotic melee ensues.  Each party member cut off from the rest it is Drecaril who slams one door shut on two dire wolves that appear to have been let loose from somewhere in the keep and then turns his attention to the captain after dropping three militia men in short order… Valenthia deals death all around her slaying five of the militia man before coming to Drecaril's aid just as he falls to the Captains sword thrust bleading heavily on the ground.  It is only Mornings quick healing prayer that saves him from Hel's icy cold embrace as he could feel the tug of the afterlife upon him.  Guernan is struck down by repeated magic missiles from the magic users as Lode after slaying six of the militia men and the cleric falls to the repeated blows of a seemingly endless enemy.  Despite the constant back and forth bickering between Lode and S'oryl it is S'oryl who comes and stands over the Dwarves unconscious form and slays those militia men attempting to end his life.  Morning salys the last of the militia men and the cleric as Valenthia finally slays guard captain.  The party pours the last healing potions down the throats of Lode and Guernan bringing them back to life.  Morning also stabilizes the captain from dying as well as some militia men remembering the promise the party made to Evengreenintide.  After a moment the party rouses one of the unconscious militia men and get the layout of the keep and find out that the dire wolves are Bluto's personal pets and are only released to kill.  The party runs to a room leading to Bluto's office and slam the door behind them before the wolves can get at them. 

Knowing that Bluto is behind the next door they open the door and Drecaril follows Lode in only to fall into a carefully constructed pit trap just inside the door and slide down a greased shute to a small room.

Up above a trio of magic missiles comes from behind the desk as S'oryl and then Valenthia jump across the pit and advance on what is a cowering Bluto hiding behind an overturned desk.  In short order he throws down the wand and begs for his life offering all his posessions if the party just spares him.

meanwhile in the room below Drecaril and Lode see two once human creatures leap upon their prone forms from the darkness of this room, the torch on the floor reveals several items, armour, swords, bones, arrows, and odd bits of gear.  They are not the first to be sent down the chute it appears.  As one of the creatures claws dig furrows in Lode's arm he suddenly feels his very strength begin to ebb away from him.  Drained by the foul creatures touch, also both warriors realize that the weapons they weild deal no damage to the foul undead.  Drecaril having a silver arrow grabs it from his pack and stabs wildly at one of the creatures.  Lode searches for something on the ground that might harm the wights… seeing a faintly glowing falchion he yells out to drecaril to use it!  Having taken several hits that do little damage but sap more and more of his failing strength Lode knows that it will be up to Drecaril to save them if their friends do not come down soon.

Up above S'oryl and Valenthia decide it is time to go down and check on the two warriors who are not responding to their calls.  S'oryl at first thinks to use a rope to traverse the chute but in his pride tries a controlled slide instead but the grease and slope is too much for him and he ends up tumbling to the bottom into the middle of the fray.  Valenthia seeing S'oryl's misfortune uses the rope to slowly make her way down.  S'oryl sees Drecaril grabbing a glowing falchion from the ground and striking at one of the creatures which has several sizzling wounds from the slashes from the silvered arrow, S'oryl draws his own silver arrow and attempts to hack at the one in front of him but can not do any damage with the awkward weapon.  It is Valenthia who comes down and draws the magical longsword she took from the dead captain and ends the second creatures life.  

The group then returns to the tied up Bluto and have him control his wolves and rechain them as well as showing them all the treasure of the keep… also finding 27 slaves in holding pens which the group frees.  

With the treasure, bluto, and four henchmen and the captain in chains the group decides to make their way to Evengreenintide to finish this business.  And waiting for them in the clearing is the green haired beautiful woman who calls herself evengreenintide.  "I knew you could do it little mice, now, are these men all for me?  Oh, and half of those coins you carry are owed to me as well as Bluto's ring… "  "my thanks little mice".  You are free to leave".  

The party makes its way back to new haven with the freed slaves with quite the tale for the council indeed.  

Comments

Would not have thought Dwarf would be so soft on Gnoll. No choice but to kill. If live, will kill us. If die, die harder than if we give them clean kill. We kill them cleanly which is more than they do with us. What he want to do with them? Let them free? Take them slave? No choice.

NOT like undead. Bad. Not understand all Loki, Hel, God stuff. But trust Morning to do what is right.

That pit was bad. Only a fool doesn’t feel fear but that first time I gave in to fear. Couldn’t move.

NOT like undead. Ones at bottom of pit foul.

Companions all stand together like should. Good. Even S’orryl fights for dwarf. Glad have found people can trust.

Evengreenintide allowed me to trade Falchion for Bastard sword. She gave me better sword than I gave her. I owe her. I’m sure she knows and will collect. That is fine with me.

Sorry about dead people. Tried to save them but failed to. Next time will listen to Morning.

Storming the Keep
 

As I read the notes something occurred to me.

I presume that Drecaril thought it impossible to retrain the Dire Wolves to follow us? (ie, I’m pretty sure that you do NOT want us to have a pair of dire wolves :-)). In that case, he’d have let them go unless the group insists on killing them. Basically, get Bluto to tie them up with a rope that they’ll be eventually able to chew their way out of. Toss in some food and water so they’re in no hurry to escape. Make sure to lead our mob into water at some point to mask our tracks so they don’t follow us.

He doesn’t really care what happens to the wolves. But he feels that they deserve a chance to live. No reason to kill them unless they’re a danger. They’re not responsible for what Bluto did.

Storming the Keep
 

Quite fair, the dire wolves have been trained in the sense that they kill anything except Bluto due to his charm animal on them, other than that they are feral wild creatures that I am sure will find there way out the keep and rather than stalk the party rejoin the natural eco system.. yeah we will put the pet dire wolves out of the group’s reach for now.

Storming the Keep
 

“Why is it everywhere I follow these people there are bodies left in their wake? Even the bodies of women and children…dog faced women and children, but women and children none the less. Then the one group of innocents found in the Keep transformed into creepy crawlers were incinerated by the group. Just don’t read the damned scroll, put them in a jar, poke airholes at the top and move on. Oh and don’t get me started on the aptly named dwarf Lode (Load of something alright!) Using a statue of Hel to desecrate the bodies of the dead by toppling the statue onto a crypt. Yes Lode, thats a good way to get into Hel’s favour. Why should we blame Loki? Everywhere we go chaos follows. The bard made a final exit and rightly so. I could tell the road we travelled would be too uncertain for one of his cheery disposition. Strangely enough though, I am amused by it all. This Loki is interesting. That is, if I believed in the gods ability to lead us by our noses. The rule of anarchy and chaos, or the rule of no rules is an appealing life philosophy. This group is beginning to fight well together but throwing myself down a hole to save the meat-shields is not what I had in mind. Giving up healing potions to save the dwarf? S’orryl you fool. You have to stay alive. At least until you have accomplished your goals. But really…what’s with the dwarf and his inability to stay out of a damned hole anyway? When we get back to New Haven, I’m buying a black tentacled squid from the fish monger, and leaving it in Lode’s sleeping bag on our next outing. It probably won’t make him any less clumsy or annoying, but it will entertain me for a good chunk of the morning.

-S’orryl “The Shadowstep”

Storming the Keep
 

“Kill the dog people, women and children all, but save the dogs…and they call my morals questionable.”

S’orryl “The Shadowstep”

Storming the Keep
 

Makes perfect sense to Drecaril :-). Dog people enemies. Dogs not.

<aside> I did check first with the GM as to what the relationship was between my people and gnolls and was told that we were implacable enemies both practicing genocide on the other. So blame him and not me :-).

And as a practical matter I’ll claim that killing them was about as merciful as any alternative that we had. Assuming that the women are total non combatants letting them live would likely just lead to slow starvation anyway. </aside><

Storming the Keep
 

Understood…but S’orryl (being a bit of an anarchist) would probably feel leaving them to a fate where they might’ve rejoined the rest of their kin in the wilds (because there must be more of them)and survived, would’ve been kinder than playing god and determining their fate which, lets face it, was probably a little biased towards the sentence of death. Not that S’orryl would really lose more sleep either way, but he wouldn’t hesitate to use the action as reason to call out the groups hypocrisy in matters of justice, morality or ethics…especially knowing that his own will likely come under fire at some point ;)

“There is no doubt that the kobold females would raise their kobold puppies into vicious warriors that would threaten the lives of any in the area, however, a pair of dire wolves trained to kill, or a pack of hungry dogs for that matter, are no less dangerous than a kobold child raised to kill, and if you are going to spare the lives of the wolves because they aren’t to blame for their actions due to their training, how are you going to sentence kobold children to death for the same actions due to their upbringing? Was it necessary (at that moment) to kill women and children who, if allowed to live, might’ve come back later to do the same to you. And if it was, how are the ethics of men any more different than those of kobolds, (who would slaughter human women and children as mercilessly)and what right do we have to claim ourselves superior and the rightful owners of this land if our tactics to keep it are the same? The answer of course, is that we are not superior or held to loftier ideals, and are all basically animals who use the gods as excuses for our natural instinct to rule through theft and murder…though some of us use the rule of nobility,law or some code of honour to mask our true intents. What court of men could ever judge me fairly, when men (and in this case elves)are barely a step above orcs in their handing out of justice. Let us spare the kobolds starvation, by impaling them on our swords now. Justice indeed.”

S’orryl “The Shadowstep”

Storming the Keep
 

“Huh? Use too many big words not understand. Fight for Clan. Kill enemy of clan. Kill wolf if need fur, if wolf kill cattle. Kill kobold if they enemy. They not enemy, not kill. We stronger than Kobold, we kill them. They stronger, they kill us. Good thing we stronger”

Storming the Keep
 

“Ah S’orryl, you have become a wise man debating a fool, and in so doing, made a fool of yourself…I both envy and pity the simplicity of this brutes world.”[muttered under breath]

no understand big words, but do Drecaril understand Mutton and mead?  Come my strong oafish friend, let us retire...uh...go to- the brothel to discuss more pressing matters such as wenches,wine and song."
Storming the Keep
 

(back at the Inn) “AAAAaaaaahhh! Aright, ye damn humans, who put that damned squid in me sleeping bag?! Who was it? Mass murdering baby-killers, the lot o’ ye! And a poorr sense o’ humour. Respect to yer elders ring a bell?!”

Storming the Keep
 

Um. Mutton. Mead. Women with great tracts of land. This Drecaril understand

Storming the Keep
phishish

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