the Goblin King and the Lord of Werewolves have renewed their ancient alliance beneath the Howling Tower ...
the secret treasury of the Bronding Kings is said to lie hidden behind the Brokenbrand Falls, haunted by enchanting naiads ...
Jaer the Windlord looks down on the world below from the Eyries of the Eagles on Greyhame Mountain itself ...
while the Stars themselves are singing an eerie, eldritch song, night after night ...
8 March's roster:
Kord (half-orc fighter/cleric)
with Gram and Thaddeus (normal men) and Boar One and Boar Two (boar hounds)
with Clara (normal woman) and three mules led by Karl Hoffson (teamster)
Little Bob (traveling man)
with Rolf Rolfson (normal man) and four dogs including Panzer and Marlo
I should have written this earlier, but alas, I did not. And so I don't recall anything done in town ... Other than that Morholt, local lord and usurper, is rumored to finally have gotten his hands on a love potion--possibly from the Elves with whom he has recently come into contact through Amrohir the Elf--and so Morholt intends to use said potion to force Sonora, widow of the late legitimate lord, to marry him and thus to legitimize his rule. This wedding is planned for the following week (i.e. session 24), it's the talk of the town, and it will occur unless the characters do something to stop it.
But hearing this and that they have a week yet to think on it, the characters preferred to return to the dungeon first, thinking that the singing and the coming of the Stars seems a rather more pressing issue. Looking back to the last session, Aethelwulf, Kord, and Little Bob regaled the others with their experience with the star pool on the second dungeon level beneath the Howling Tower, and with the strange Cthulu-ish monster that seemed to dwell within the pool.
The characters had earlier heard from Jaer the Windlord that the singing of the Stars has to do with something that the Goblin King and Lord of Werewolves are up to, and that the Stars are seeking someone or something; and remembering that, the characters wondered if the thing in the star pool might be a child of the Stars and the thing that they're looking for. So naturally they decided that they needed to pull it out of the pool--to kill it and/or free it?--and that to do so they would need a team of mules and hundreds of feet of rope. This was all duly purchased, and a teamster (Karl Hoffson) was hired, and the party set out seeking the Howling Tower.
On the way out to the tower, a vicious summer storm blew up, and over the course of night two and day three, the party lost through attrition a multitude of daggers, two weeks of rations, a javelin, a spear, and a shield.
Then, as the storm continued above, the party arrived before the Howling Tower, which stands like a dark spike from the center of the ridge just above the treeline. Kord suggested that perhaps the party should go through the tunnels through which he has crawled out from and down to the first dungeon level before, but the party looked at their mules and decided against that course.
Entering the tower, they made for the stairs, meaning going immediately north through what was once Begor's room--and in that room, they ran into a number of wolves. My notes have "asleep" over a column of hit points, so I assume that Blackleaf cast sleep over the three boxed wolf-hp-totals. Meanwhile, six other wolves engaged the party in a melee ... the wolves managed to injure Aethelwulf fairly significantly, but otherwise all but one were slain. Some were indeed werewolves--they were not injured by normal weapons, but had to be killed with magical weapons.
One of the wolves did escape, however! Probably off to warn its compatriots--and so the party gave chase through the winding corridors beyond, and were then quickly met by a unit of mixed wolves and goblins coming up through the corridor against them. Another melee ensued. My notes are spotty, but I remember that the goblins were pressed forward as "cannon fodder" by the wolves--and some of them were clearly werewolves, standing on hindlegs and having paw-like hands. But after several goblins were dispatched, their morale broke and they pressed back through the wolves, and several were cut down by wolves snapping at them as they ran! Then the wolves pressed in and the melee continued ... but the wolves and werewolves were just not up to the party's mettle.
Before long, the regular wolves were all cut down, and the werewolves fled. They moved faster than the party, but the party was able to track them to the end of the corridor and discover that they had fled through a secret door previously undiscovered by the door to the room with the down-stair. This secret door opened onto a ten by ten chamber without any other exit--and without any werewolves or goblins--the only contents of which was a soot outline of an arch on one of the walls. The party wondered over this for a while, but ultimately had to press on to the stairs down ...
The stair was unguarded, the goblins already having fled. As the party dithered in the corridor uncertain what exactly they wanted to do, Kord declared that he was going to go mess with the shadows in the secret shrine to try to get a piece of a shadow for Axxl the Mask, a sage who has offered thousands of gold for anyone who can bring him such a thing.
So despite that being not their goal, the party followed Kord to the secret shrine with the shadows that appear when light is brought over the threshold. They passed through some narrow corridors to the secret door, and then Kord threw open the door. A number of shadows appeared, thrown by the light of the torch, and they proceeded to attack the party. The characters had a number of magic weapons, which seemed to be the only means to affect the incorporeal things, but they were unable to prevail; after a few rounds of combat, having killed only one shadow and it dissipating entirely without leaving any kind of piece to be gathered up, the party doused their light, hoping thus to extinguish the shadows.
Alas! The shadows continued to exist, and now were effectively invisible in the darkness. Their attacks were more potent, and they managed to kill Gram and to bring down Aethelwulf; but Kord healed the paladin of his hurts, and the party managed to backtrack through the secret door, and the shadows did not follow across the threshold ...
At this point, the party didn't feel that they had enough time to deal with the star-thing, and so they turned instead to exploring tombs in the far west of the first dungeon level. The first few tombs they investigated contained mere bones, then animated bones (easily destroyed), and a pittance of treasure.
But then they opened a door onto a room with a basin that seemed to be filled with water (with gems at the bottom), and which also contained a number of funerary cremation urns that seemed worth something. The party did not exactly fall for the fact that the pool was a grey ooze, but the ooze did manage to reach out and attack Aethelwulf. This was almost the paladin's end! He was knocked unconscious by its acidic attacks as it clung to him, but the party managed to kill the ooze while Kord dropped another healing spell on him--otherwise he would have been a dead-dead paladin.
The party then pressed on, through a further door, and discovered a huge sarcophagus labeled with the name Ulfior and legendry of the knight Ulfior attempting to woo the Elf-princess Feanora. In the south of the room stood a number of silver canopic jars and another door. The characters wisely avoided the the tomb, but as they investigated the jars ("How much are these worth?") the sarcophagus was thrown open and an embalmed, animated corpse emerged, while a strange mist arose out of one of the jars.
|A sarcophagus like this one, 14th C. tomb of Sir Richard Stapledon in Exeter Cathedral|
The characters rolled saves against fear and Blackleaf, Koko, Ham, and Little Bob were all paralyzed with fear at the sight of the horrible undead thing. But fortunately for them, Kord raised his holy symbol and uttered a prayer to his god, Kord, and rolled a 12 on his turning check (on 2d6, the best that could be rolled), and so managed to hold back the horror. But I ruled that he had to continue to utter a litany of prayers against it to keep it turned, and so he was otherwise out of the fight.
Meanwhile, the other characters who were not afeared focused on the mist. Aethelwulf called on his own god, Adonai, and with a strong prayer managed to turn it as well--and with the bonus to hit entailed by its "cowering" (how does a mist cower? whatever), they quickly dispatched the mist with their magical weapons. They then all turned their attention on the embalmed undead and beat it down with superior numbers and good luck that I rolled poorly on my attacks.
It was time for us to wrap up, but I gave the DM cue that there was a hoard of treasure nearby--"Are you sure you want to leave immediately?" They checked behind the door, and behold! there was a great hoard of treasure with a handful of magic items, thousands of coin, and probably a dozen pieces of jewelry. One of the best hauls yet borne forth from the dungeon!
But our time really was ending. The party loaded their mules down with this treasure and headed back to town, and Kord caroused and spilled the beans on all this in his drunkenness.
Remembrance for the Fallen:
Gram, Dorcas, Frida, and Johann Haybaler (normal hirelings), Hauka and Wilmerand (weasels), Blade and Boar (dogs), Hubert the Peacock and Lysimmachus (normal men), a nameless mastiff, Livy (normal man), Orkie (orc mastiff), Fang (boarhound), Droopy and Snoopy (mastiffs), Dream Destroyer (ghosthound), Arrow (pack dog), Freyja (normal woman), a nameless cur, Hot Dog and Cross (mastiffs), Orion II (lion dog), Bacon (boarhound), Tore (half-orc fighter 1/cleric 1), Jimmy the Snitch (dog), Orion (lion dog), Harambe (man-ape 1)
And for those Enchanted away:
Dol (fyrdman hireling)