The Stone Guardian (5th March 2014)
Blaise – Druid
Bow – Ranger
Cormac - Fighter
Hallan – Fighter
Joan – Cleric (not present)
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Paulix - Thief
Ryze – Magic User (not present)
Ulf – Fighter (NPC’d)
Vox – Magic User
The Bugbears’ Chamber – Tirsday 2nd Quinquember (Day 35) – early afternoon
The dust settled slowly after the last blow was struck. The fighters within the room bowed their heads in exhaustion whilst the rest of the party cautiously made their way inside the confines of the ancient broch.
Bow made his way to the sides of the chamber from where the bugbears stabbed at them through the murder holes with their spears. At the same time, Vox spotted a lone figure that approached the broch from the north-east and called out a challenge. Paulix pulled back his hood and announced he had some news for them.
The thief was welcomed within the broch and the two sets of doors were slammed shut and barred from within. Bow, meanwhile, had searched through all of the bedding furs and found a treasure chest. He was going to smash the lock off with one of the bugbears’ morning stars but then he decided against opening it using force, so Maximillian was immediately called to the scene to take a look at the locks on it.
Max saw that the lock was an easy one to open, so he quickly got his tools out and popped it open. Unfortunately, in his haste, he forgot to check it for traps and a slim needle punctured the heel of his hand. A burning sensation spread throughout his arm very quickly and he howled in pain. Johan took a look at the wound but realised he did not have a spell handy that would help his companion. He was not sure how long the poison would take to subside within the thief’s body but he decided he would try to pray for a new spell to cure the poison just in case he could catch it in time.
Inside the chest was a bolt of silk cloth tied with a nice piece of rope, four expensive looking items of jewellery and a few pouches of silver coins. To these were added the gold and silver coins found on the bodies of the six bugbear guards.
The Mad Druid
The party decided to take a short rest before moving on to give Johan the chance to pray for a spell to help the thief, but Maximillian had other ideas and scaled the stairs upwards despite the pain from the poison coursing through his body. He wanted explore the rest of the broch before he died if that was to be his fate.
At the top of the stairs he noticed that a wall divided the level, and two doors were spaced equally along its length. There was also a ladder positioned below a trap door to allow access to what he supposed was the parapet level above. He ignored the doors and proceeded directly up the ladder; he wanted to get to the treasure on the guards’ bodies before his companions. Unfortunately the pain from the poison slowed him somewhat.
Back down on the ground floor, the party left Vox and Ulf to guard Johan and the downwards staircase whilst the rest made their way to the next floor. They proceeded up the stairs cautiously but they assumed there to be no threat because Max had not yelled out a warning thus far.
Blaise, Paulix and Hallan passed the first door and then Hallan kicked open the second door. Inside the room the companions saw that there was a glowing blue ball of electrical energy hanging in the centre of the chamber above a complex inscription upon the floor. The rest of the room was in disarray, as was the inhabitant; a small, wiry old man in unbleached robes. He shouted at the party to begone but they steadfastly refused his request and advanced upon him rapidly. He called out “Granite” and then threatened them with his staff. The party ignored his threats and began to shoot at him with arrows and attack him with their swords.
A few moments later, the door to the first room burst from its hinges and a huge man made of stone erupted from the room and charged into the summoning room. The party turned in fear at the sight of the new arrival but attacked it nonetheless. Their blows managed to hit the golem but they did not seem to cause much damage other than the occasional small chip. The mad druid (recognised as such by Blaise) continued to be beaten soundly by the party in the room but the arrival of Granite allowed him to cast one spell upon himself.
The mad druid did not manage to strike the party with his staff but Granite more than made up for this by beating Hallan to within an inch of his life. The druid called for the party to surrender but just as he did so a few more of the party joined the fray. Paulix called for more help against the golem and Ulf decided that Vox could cope with the guard duties below.
An impasse was joined as the party found they were being rapidly defeated by the stone golem but were making some headway against defeating the mad druid. Blows were held for a few moments and this caused Granite to stop his attacks. A brief parley was set up where the party found out that ‘The Master’ was behind all of the weather problems but they could find out nothing more as the druid proceeded back down his route towards madness again.
Combat was re-joined but this time the mad druid seemed to get the worst of it. He polymorphed into a small bird and flew out of one of the arrow slits but the arrows that Paulix and Bow sent after him did not find their mark. Granite ground to a halt immediately.
Max’s Encounters on the Parapets
Meanwhile, upstairs on the parapet, Max closed the trap door that led back down the ladder to the level below. He investigated the bodies of the stone throwing guards and divested them of their money pouches whilst he heard a combat start up below. He then made his way into the small wooden hut situated at the centre of the roof top. The interior was dark and full of sleeping pallets and a small fire burned for warmth and cooking. He lit a torch from the fire’s embers and looked about the small hut more closely. Above his head he noticed that there was a trap door that presumably led into the small conical attic above the guards’ hut. The step ladder leading up to it was in place, so he decided to climb up it. The poison coursing through his veins felt like it had almost run its course by now as he was beginning to feel better, but it had left him very much weakened.
He popped open the attic flap and climbed up with the torch for a better look. The disturbance of the attic door, the light of the torch, and the simultaneous destruction of the door below by Granite created an eruption of wings. A dozen flying beasts, bigger than the biggest bats he had ever seen, but with long proboscises in the place of snouts, flew into his face. One of the hideous creatures attached itself to his breast and began to suck at his blood. He swung around with his torch and sword, swatted one of them out of the air, and then dropped back through the entrance hole to the floor below, but not without seeing something shining in the guano on the floor of the loft.
He yelled to his companions that he had been struck by something otherworldly and quickly prepared a smoking oil bomb and small net for the attic entrance. He quickly nailed the net over the attic entrance, pushed open the attic door again and threw in the whizz-bang. The noise saw to it that the majority of the stirges flew out of their nest through the holes in the roof between the wooden slates, but a couple left behind died in the concussion. Max was quick to ascend the step ladder again and grabbed at the shiny item before he began to feel faint from the poison and loss of blood from the stirge.
He managed to crawl to the ladder down to the level below where the party were fighting the druid and golem before he passed out, his life’s blood pumping rapidly into the stirge’s stomach.
Rest and Recuperation - evening
Just as their combat finished, the party heard the yell of anguish from their companion above. They rapidly ascended the ladder to the parapet level and saw Max sprawled on the flagstones with a monstrous looking winged beast attached to his breast sucking his life blood through a long proboscis. The party quickly slashed the beast from his chest, splashing Max’s blood all over the place in the process. Johan quickly administered some first aid, saving the thief before he answered the call of Hel.
Whilst the fighters took stock of what was in each of the rooms, the mages found that they had time to rest and recover some of their spells. They decided to rest up for the rest of the afternoon which gave the fighters a long time to try to work out what was going on. The first thing that was tried was to see what effect the lightning ball would have if struck. It was done at distance using an arrow, but the swift response and damage caused by the returning energy bolt soon stopped any further exploration in that direction. This would be one for the book wise mages to resolve.
The room with the shattered door from which Granite emerged from turned out to be a laboratory. There was a large work bench that took up a great portion of the room covered in phials, sheets of parchment, powdered gems, precious metal filings and a variety of periapts and cauldrons bubbling away to unknown ends. There was also a large book shelf full of tomes and scrolls, as well as a coat stand that held several plain cloaks and a black robe with the Eye of Zuggtmoy upon it.
Whilst the books were searched through to work out what they contained, the thief and ranger shovelled the treasures from the bench into their pouches. However, Bow had a thought and scooped up a large handful of the powdered gems and precious metals and took it into the energy ball room. He threw the mixture into the energy ball but was rewarded with a bolt of lightning hitting him in return.
The mages finally completed their studying, meditating and prayers, and returned to the rest of the party fully equipped with spells to help in their next endeavours. It was decided to descend the stairs to the basement level.
Into the Depths
Johan passed amongst the members of the party who had been hurt and dispensed the healing powers of the great god Balder to his comrades. None were fully healed but all felt a lot better after his administrations.
The main doors to the broch were double checked that they were bolted and barred and then the adventurers lit their torches, candles and lanterns and formed into their battle order then stealthily made their way down the stairs into the gloom.
The level below was stocked with piles of grain sacks and many barrels of fresh water and cheap wine. The party decided to pass these by after a very quick check on their contents and continued down a second flight of stone steps to a sub-basement.
This lowest floor completed their journey down and ended with a hemi-spherical room about 30’ across with four wooden doors spaced equidistant across the flat side. Hallan and Cormac moved up to kick the doors open one at a time. Each door, when opened, revealed a pair of corpses which stirred to un-life a few moments after the door opened. They all lumbered towards the doorways to their cells but the power of Balder emanated from Johan’s holy symbol and turned them. The zombies cowered away from the pure light that radiated from Johan and the fighters made mincemeat of them in no time at all.
The party searched this lowest level but could find nothing of any value. However, at the last moment before they decided that they would return to the upper levels to rest for the night a trail of very faint footprints was spotted that headed towards one of the walls but disappeared through it. It did not take Paulix long to find the catch that popped open the secret door.
An image of Zuggtmoy - used without permission WotC/TSR
Hallan and Cormac led the way down the narrow corridor, the light from their torches picked out a short rough-hewn corridor that turned right at the end. They cautiously turned the corner and espied that a further short corridor appeared to open onto a similarly made chamber.
Upon entering the subterranean chamber the party noticed a large stone altar at the far end, upon which were placed a variety of golden statues and religious items. The party quickly snatched up the golden objects for later study and poured holy water upon the dark altar.
Return to the Laboratory
They then left the lower levels of the broch and returned to the laboratory on the first floor where they melted down the evil-feeling golden objects; they would not be used by followers of the Temple again.
Vox rapidly scanned through the shelves and soon narrowed down the books and scrolls to just two useful ones. One held the counter spell to the energy ball in the room next door but he realised that the spell was way beyond his knowledge and level of power to cast. The other tome mentioned that it could be destroyed by the Dispel Magic spell that he could cast but there were side-effects to this method that could prove nasty. He decided that it would be better for a higher level mage to tackle this dilemma.
The rest of the party set up a watch and settled down to a late meal and a good rest. Johan prayed to his god again and the rest of the adventurers prepared themselves for a good night’s sleep. Vox then collected the treasures that the party had gathered within the broch and cast an Identify dweomer over them all. The eight vials were magical, as was the rope binding the silk cloth. He also identified that the dagger had magical properties as did one of the cloaks that was on the coat stand in the laboratory before he fell into a comatose state. However, the cloak was identified as being a cursed item that killed its wearer; it was obviously used as the means to turn unwary travellers into the zombies in the cells below.