The Moathouse – Part Six (15th January 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter (NPC’d)
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Ulf – Fighter (NPC’d)
Vox – Magic User
Rest and Recuperation - Godsday 20th Quattrober (Day 25) – late afternoon
The narrow beam of light from the thief’s hooded lantern only partially illuminated the narrow fissure ahead of the pair of intrepid explorers. The stone walls and rough-hewn columns of the chamber at the end of the claustrophobic tunnel bounced the lantern’s rays in all directions making strange shapes appear to jump out of the shadows at them.
Bow placed his lantern down to mark their exit from the dank catacombs just in case they needed to exit in a hurry; the rest of the party were ensconced within the secret passageway at the north end of the crypt to rest, heal up and regain their spells.
The ranger readied his bow as the duo stepped into the roughly-shaped chamber and Paulix shone his lantern around, expecting to encounter the snarling face of a ghoul at any moment. Fortunately there was no repeat encounter with any denizens of the charnel house and the two adventurers were able to search the chamber in safety. They spotted a pile of old cloth full of gnawed long bones and skulls in one corner, but decided to not approach any closer. They made a mental note to dig through the pile at a later time.
There was only one other exit from the chamber, and as the pair advanced towards it the light from their solitary lantern glinted on some metal objects partially buried within the dust on the ground. An arrow was shot at the small pile of gleaming objects as neither of the companions believed it could be set there as anything but a trap. The arrow zinged into the dirt and a handful of metal coins jumped into the air under the impact.
Not wanting to get too far separated from the rest of the party, the thief and ranger decided to retrace their footsteps and join their comrades for a few hours’ rest.
Gnolls (late evening)
Feeling refreshed from the healing and rest, the party emerged from their hide-away. Hallan and Ulf were given the task to block the entrance to the ghouls’ chamber with a few heavy stone sarcophagus lids. Meanwhile, Paulix and Bow scouted the corridors ahead, leap-frogging each other’s position through the zig-zagging passages until they came to a T-Junction. They awaited the arrival of the rest of the party and took stock of their situation.
To their right (southwards) was a set of damp steps carved into the stone floor. The beams from the lanterns could not reach the far end of the corridor which led down into the dankness below. To their right (northwards), the corridor stretched on for a goodly distance before ending with a wooden door. They could also just make out a side passage that led off eastwards about twenty feet before the door at the end of the main passageway.
Part of the Moathouse dungeon - Adapted and used without permission
After a brief discussion it was decided that the two scouts would investigate and report back whilst the rest of the party guarded the rear. Paulix ranged ahead of Bow by about twenty feet, using the pools of light from their lanterns to see their way. When Paulix reached the side corridor, he noticed that it led partially back on itself at a forty-five degree angle to the south-east. He shone his lantern at full beam down the corridor but could not make out the end in the gloom.
Paulix moved up to the door and listened whilst Bow guarded the mouth of the angled corridor. Paulix heard nothing at the door so lifted the latch and snuck through the small opening he had made. He had to pass along a small niche that was the same depth that the space the opening door would require to open into and then hugged the nearest wall of the chamber and advanced within. He noticed at the far western end of the room there was a dim glow of light emanating from around a corner. He headed towards it to find out what was there, but noticed that there were two more doors in niches on the southern wall that he entered from. He took out his mallet and iron spikes, covered the metal in swaddling cloth, and gently hammered home a spike beneath each door to stop them from being opened in a hurry.
He then noticed an open corridor in the wall opposite, but it was very dark and there seemed to be no movement from that direction. He advanced cautiously along the walls, keeping to the deepest shadows until he was able to see where the glow emanated from. He could just about make out the backs of a couple of large humanoid creatures with heads like dogs. He listened for a short while to ascertain their numbers and guessed that there may be at least half-a-dozen stationed there.
He silently made his way back to Bow and the pair of them reported back to the rest of the party. A brief discussion ensued and it was agreed that they would lay an ambush for the creatures in the hope that they could take them down quickly enough without incurring too many injuries.
Again Paulix and Bow advanced upon the position, leap-frogging each other until they got to the door again. Paulix advanced into the chamber, bow drawn, and Paulix lined up with Hallan to form the first line of defence just behind the door. Ulf and Johan formed the second line, whilst Vox kept an eye out down the angled corridor behind them just in case.
Paulix crept up to within a few yards of the gnolls and let loose with a shaft. It struck true and the target howled in pain and rage. Within seconds the gnolls gathered their weapons and charged their attacker. Paulix had a good start on them and had just enough time to look back at them from the entrance to the chamber. He noticed that there were nine gnolls chasing him. The warriors with axes charged directly after him whilst their leader appeared to give instructions for one warrior to peel off up the dark corridor to bring reinforcements and for the two archers in their midst to form ranks in a suitable position.
The gnolls were surprised by the rest of the party when they turned the corner and passed through the door. A desperate scuffle broke out. The gnolls had the upper hand to begin with and Hallan bore the brunt of the attack. However, Johan was on hand to heal him each time he took a big blow. Paulix and Ulf supported their comrades from the second row and Vox occasionally threw a flask of lighted oil at an opponent that showed too much willing. The tide slowly turned in favour of the party as the gnolls’ corpses began to pile up in the doorway, but the two with the bows firing from a distance made the going tough.
Just as the leader of the gnolls was cut down, a bark of defiance went up from within the room and a new horde of humanoids burst into the combat. This time, the lone gnoll scout was accompanied by half-a-dozen bugbears.
The party realised that the odds were now against them, so agreed to try to close the door and put some distance between themselves and their pursuers. Only one bugbear managed to get through the door, swinging its morning star in frenzy. Hallan and Bow put the creature down and then began to close the door in the face of the remaining enemy. It took a while, but slowly the superior numbers of the bugbears was outmatched by the superior strength of the two human warriors. Paulix used a hammer and spikes to stop the door from being opened again easily.
Rather than trying to force the door open, the frenzied bugbears bashed at it with their weapons in an attempt to smash it open. The party quickly ran back to the T-Junction where they devised an escape plan. They knew that they would not be able to out-run the bugbears due to the tight squeeze in the shaft beyond the crypt that would be their exit point, so they decided that they would have to set another ambush in the hope that they could reduce the numbers of their pursuers further.
A Second Ambush
Vox liberally splashed lantern oil over the floor before the entrance to their corridor and the warriors took up defensive positions again. They only had to wait a few minutes before the bugbears had smashed their way through the door and the sound of their baying pursuit ran shivers down their spines.
The bugbears rushed towards the party’s position and the oil had its desired effect on one of the beasts as it slid over and hurt itself. The others carried on regardless and battle was joined again.
This time it was a lot tougher than the fight against the gnolls and each injury took its toll. Hallan’s superior strength enabled him to cut down one of the beasts every few minutes but this then allowed for a volley of missile weapons to be fired through the combat as a gap temporarily opened up. However, the two gnoll archers were unable to get too many shots in like they had at the other end of the corridor which aided the party no end.
Just as Hallan and Bow were about to be overwhelmed (Johan’s healing spells were all used up by now), Vox lit a couple of lantern oil filled flasks and passed them forwards through the crush. The two fighters grabbed them and threw them at the oil covered floor which erupted in gouts of flame. This injured many of their assailants and halted their attack temporarily so that the second rank warriors in the party could now step to the fore thus relieving Hallan and Bow who were almost done for.
Ulf and Johan put up a stout fight and the combat continued. It was at this point that Vox was able to count the numbers. Two of the pursuers were missing. He called out that they had better get out of there fast as more reinforcements could be due at any time. The party fought a bitter retreat but a Magic Missile cast by Vox finally turned the tide by putting down the last of the two gnoll archers that gave the fighters the freedom to gang up on the last of the bugbears.
Paulix led the retreat and made sure that their escape route was clear. After he had gone, the rest of the party left the combat one-by-one as their opponents were defeated. Finally, the last of the bugbears fell and the companions looked themselves over. They were all still standing but all were covered in many severe cuts and bruises. Bow, not one to waste time or opportunity, took out his dagger and cut the purses from their assailants’ belts before bringing up the rear.
Return to Staneford
The party retraced their steps through the zig-zagging corridors back to the crypt. They quickly made their way through the secret door and closed it behind them. The journey up the shaft was very slow as Hallan could barely fit, but they made it out of the tight spot into the torture chamber above.
The two scouts spotted no-one about so hastened their companions across to the stone stairs whilst they torched what they could of the supplies removed from the two store rooms. Hallan swiftly removed the head of one of the bugbears for proof of their encounter with strange humanoids and tuke dit away in a large sack. The party swiftly advanced up into the actual moat house, where they rapidly made their way through the fortress to recover their prisoner before joining the road to Staneford.
It was still raining outside but at least there was no sign of pursuit. They had shaken off their attackers but were sure that they had stirred up the hornets’ nest. There would be repercussions.