Thursday, 30 August 2012

March into Darkness - Session 3

Session 3: Into the Mountains (29th August 2012)

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard (on holiday)
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar (on holiday)

Incapacitated (Year 2 Day 51)

Upon arrival at the blasted lands, Korum had taken a day or two to recover from something he had eaten. What happened to the party during those hours has been recorded previously from an extract from Rioja’s diary. Rioja meanwhile remained at the previous town to look up some arcane writings he had found.

The Village (Day 52)
Storm clouds continued to grow on the mountain tops; an ominous black brooding that had been present on the roof of the world since they first arrived in the blasted lands. Now that they were getting closer to their destination, the party of adventurers yearned for more shelter from the sight ahead of them. They spotted a settlement in the distance and decided to head towards it for a bit of rest and hopefully to find some clues about their quest, even if it was only directions to the next settlement.

Upon arrival at the large timber-walled village they noticed that there were no guards posted at the gates and the walls were in a terrible state of repair. Once inside they saw that all the villagers were extremely poorly dressed and malnourished; their houses and communal buildings were in a state of very poor repair. They sought out a tavern but not one was in a good enough state of repair that matched even the shelter offered by their camping equipment. They looked around for a town leader but upon questioning a villager found out that there was no such person and that they just managed to scratch a living from a small communal plot of land outside the village. They tried to get some answers from the villager but he said he didn’t know anything other than that they had always been poor and the storm cloud had been above the mountains as long as anyone could remember. Asked if he knew of a guide to take them to the mountains he responded that some of the children might know a way through but it would be difficult to get them to accompany the party. Asked why they didn’t just move away, he replied that they didn’t know anywhere they could go that wasn’t blasted and they wouldn’t have enough food for the journey anyway.

The party decided to move on and make camp for the night away from the village just in case the poor tried to steal their goods whilst they slept.

An Encounter by Night

The party had travelled several miles from the village towards the foothills of the mountains when they decided to make camp. They set watch as usual and made a fire to keep warm and cook their food.

During second watch, just after midnight, by the light of the moon, Knil thought he spotted some movement between a pair of smaller mounds, about half a mile away. He called for the rest of the guards to take a look but they spotted nothing. He decided to rouse everyone anyway and set off to investigate. As the rest of the adventurers awoke, he spotted a few more furtive movements between the mounds and on one occasion a small head popped up just long enough to let him know that the party were being spied upon.

Korum quickly made his way through the shadows up to where Knil was stationed and had a look. He spotted track marks on the ground but could not identify them. He decided to follow them keeping to the shadows again. He espied the prowlers again very soon, but they were much closer this time; they were definitely humanoid.

Suddenly, a bright light appeared behind the humanoids bringing them into sharp focus (this turned out to be a light spell cast by Arken). The shapes resolved themselves into human children, perhaps twelve years old and filthily dressed. Korum called out to them to not be afraid, and enticed them back to camp with the promise of food and warmth from their camp fire.

After a hearty meal, Arken asked them what they were up to. They mentioned that they were from the village the party had just left, and that they were indeed spying on the party as they saw them as mighty heroes and wondered what they were up to. Upon being asked if there was a way through the mountains, the children said that there was but it was guarded by scary monsters. The children agreed to accompany the party to the pass through the mountains on the promise of food for their village, to which the party agreed.

The Guardians of the Gates in the Mountain (Day 53)

After a refreshing sleep and hearty breakfast, the party followed the children for a few hours before the pathways became too narrow and bumpy for the wagon to move any further forward. They decided to leave the wagon where it was and carry their supplies in their packs the rest of the way. They told the children that after they had shown them the passageway through the mountains they should return that way, take the wagon with them back to their village and if it was still in good condition when they arrived back they would be rewarded with lots of food. The children agreed but said that it did nothing for their empty stomachs until then. Arken cast a few spells and conjured up several weeks’ worth of food on the back of the wagon for the villagers to have until the party returned.

Another couple of hours trekking passed when the children motioned that they had at last come to the entrance to the mountain pass. Looking over the lip of a mound, Korum saw that there was an artificially flat area before a set of huge gates set into the mountainside. Before the gates was a set of what looked like statues of men in heavy armour. Korum threw a rock to one side to attract their attention but the statues made no movement to investigate. He threw a second rock directly at the lead statue using all the Giant Strength he could muster. The rock shattered on impact but left no trace of damage upon the statue. The statue, again, did not stir. The party approached cautiously after telling the children to go back to their village now. However, after approaching the statues and glancing over their shoulders they noticed that the children were there to watch what the party did next.

Korum headed for one of the rear statues for a closer look but Bardan, patience already fraying, stepped straight up to the lead one again and struck it a mighty blow with his magical great axe. The axe head bounced off the statue leaving not a trace of the impact.

Korum completed his investigation and reported back that the armour was really tightly fitted with absolutely no gaps except the eye sockets. When he looked inside he could not see anything in there, and he could not pry the face plate open for a better look. He searched the ground and statues for traces of a trap and found that from each statue to every other one was a slight furrow in the earth creating a criss-cross pattern between them. He decided that crossing the lines might activate the guardians, so he clambered over the one nearest the left hand side of the door avoiding crossing the lines. He made it to the door which was 15 feet high and made of solid metal. On each valve there were three locks. These he investigated, noticing that they were identical but could not be opened one at a time – the mechanism would require all six locks to be turned by six keys simultaneously. Now where would he find those keys? He clambered back to the rest of the party to give them his news and they decided that they needed to spring the trap to see what happened.

Korum nimbly crossed several of the lines to the gates, and as he crossed each line, the statues at either end of that line turned to face him and half-drew their swords. As nothing untoward happened thereafter, Arken did the same on the other side; the statues did the same for him. Korum realised that something was still missing from the puzzle, so he made his way to the centre of the configuration where most of the lines crossed. As soon as he stepped onto the central crossing point all of the statues drew their swords fully and advanced upon him, something rattling in their chests at every step. Fearing for his friend’s safety, Bardan struck at the statue nearest to him, half caving in the visor on the helmet – they could be damaged whilst there was a scapegoat in the centre of the trap. Korum was coming very close to being hit by all six advancing statues, so he jumped out of the area bounded by the furrows on the floor and all of the statues returned to their original positions. The party realised they may need to sacrifice someone to spring the trap long enough to damage all of the statues.

Arken volunteered to take the central spot and proceeded to cover himself in protective magicks. He was also one of the better armoured of the party and as a result could probably soak up more damage before having to get out of there. The rest of the party arranged themselves around the six statues, each adventurer taking one each and the infantry ganging up two to one on a statue each. Arken stepped back into the centre of the trap and the statues reanimated.

The initial few hits were all in the party’s favour as the statues were unaware of them all to begin with. The statues advanced on Arken ready to chop him into little pieces. Korum managed to cause one statue a large amount of damage, so it turned on him instead and gave him a grievous wound. The little thief took more and more damage as the battle went on, but the rents he made in the armour facing him began to get bigger and bigger. The other fighters all held their own, mostly avoiding damage but scoring hit after hit upon their foes. Arken in the middle of the conflict was well protected by his god’s magic. After several minutes of gruelling combat, Bardan finally struck a blow that caused the statue in front of him to crumple to the floor. This gave him time to go to the aid of one of the men-at-arms who was beginning to struggle with his foe. The soldier had already suffered a few sword cuts but was slowly losing his battle with the statue. Bardan swung his axe at the statue but mistimed the blow; just as the man-at-arms ducked away from the statue in front of him, Bardan’s axe caught him in his side. Korum’s persistence caused the statue in front of him to crumple, but not before the heavy infantryman, swaying from Bardan’s cruel cut crumpled to the floor with another gaping wound. Bardan’s mistake angered him and he took his fury out on the statue that had injured his hireling. A few more deft strokes of his axe caused it too to crumple. Three statues down meant that the adventurers could concentrate their attacks even more and the statues all eventually crumpled to the ground, the one Knil was fighting being the final one to fall. As this last one fell, the children on the mound behind them began to cheer wildly.

Arken immediately left the centre of the trap to heal the fallen man-at-arms, barely saving his life. He also healed as many of the rest of the party as needed it. The fight had taken quite a bit out of the party, so they decided to make camp and rest up over night; Arken regaining the spells he had expended during the fight and aftermath.

Descent into the Depths (Day 54)

The following morning, the small band of heroes packed up camp and sent the boys on their way back to their village. They searched the fallen statues and found that inside the chest cavity of each one was a large key. Korum gathered them all up carefully and approached the door again. He placed a key into each lock and had one party member per key turn them. The valves swung open silently on their hinges when Bardan pushed them. Lighting lanterns and torches, the party headed into the depths.

The corridor that faced them was as large as the door and stretched on for hundreds of yards ahead. It was a natural tunnel with no sign of anything artificial. After several hundred yards, the party began to spot the occasional bone lying on the floor; species indeterminate. Further on, they began to hear a slithering, scraping sound emanating from ahead. They proceeded further along the tunnel to find that it eventually opened out into a huge natural chamber with supporting pillars made from joined stalactites and stalagmites. The slithering, scraping sound was definitely louder in the chamber and Korum, who had scouted ahead, spotted the reason why. An enormous snake was curled up in the corner of the large chamber. Without hesitation, Bardan threw one of his fire bombs at it, but this only made it angry and rear up. It let out a huge hiss and then let fly a bolt of lightning that hit the fighter square in the chest bowling him over. Knil and the two archers let loose a few shafts at the abomination, Knil scoring direct hits, and the rest of the party charged into the fray whilst Bardan regained his feet and Korum hid until he could spot an opportunity to attack a weak point.

The battle only lasted a few minutes with the party hacking away from the front and Korum, having jumped on its back delivering blow after furious blow to its neck and head. Bardan was struck a few more times before he made a telling blow causing the snake to dip its head momentarily. Arken saw his opportunity and with his magical mace crushed its skull. The snake’s eyes glazed over and it fell to the ground stone dead.

Korum scanned the snake’s nest for anything of interest but only found a hole in the ceiling through which it must have passed to get into the chamber. The party could now either continue across the chamber to exit via the passageway opposite the one they came in from, or they could investigate the hole from which the snake had emerged.

1 comment:

  1. Message from Rioja:

    Making slow progress with research. These books are terribly written, especially the tomes named 'Fifty Shades of Evil'. I suspect I will require another week to complete my work.

    When not reading I have been practising riding Epona. Fast she may be, but she's highly temperamental, refusing to jump even the smallest log for no reason at times.