Pool of the Standing Stones II (16th April 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Gull – Thief (NPC)
Johan – Cleric
Vox – Magic User
Partial map of the Pool of the Standing Stones dungeon (White Dwarf 12 - copyright Games Workshop) - amended for game purposes
Gnolls in the Darkness - Sunday 28th Quinquember (Day 61) – early afternoon
The solid oaken door swung away from the party to reveal the gloom beyond. As the adventurers’ eyes began to adjust to the dimness their ears were assaulted by the barking of the half-dozen gnolls beyond. Morning stars orbited the heads of the gnolls before streaking out comet-like towards the fighters at the front of the melee, and the whip of the discipline master cracked forth with a snap to keep the unruly warriors in line.
The poison from the darts that had hit the mage and thief in the stepped entrance corridor continued to pound through their veins in time with the footsteps of more of their adversaries disappearing along the corridor to either side.
It was not long before Vox collapsed as the venom of several darts caused his muscles to fail. Johan, who was away from the combat for a short while, was able to resuscitate the magic user with a Healing spell, but the poison, although ebbing in its potency, dragged him under once more.
The fighters managed to push the attacking gnolls away from their fallen wizardly companion and slowly cut them down but then Gull, the thief, finally succumbed to the dark ichor coursing through his veins. Johan, alert to the dangers of both his ailing companions managed to force the last of the Healing potions down the thief’s throat and used his final dweomer to bring Vox back from his stupor again.
When he was satisfied that both the thief and mage were stable and that the poison had run its course Johan joined the fray. The last of the gnolls fell in rapid succession with the added might of the cleric of Balder.
The party collected their thoughts and gulped in breath after the brief but frantic combat. They decided that as they were almost out of magic and that their injuries were rapidly mounting they needed a place to hole up to recover. There was no sign of the runners coming back, so the party headed to the left through the portals after searching the bodies of the gnolls for any treasures.
In the Western Guardroom – spider carving and grey ooze
Bow led the way forward with Cormac on his shoulder guarding the flanks. The woozy mage followed and the unconscious thief was then carried along behind by Johan, whose ears were primed for the sound of returning guards’ footsteps.
Directly to the left of the western valve a set of stairs led upwards. The ranger took the steps two at a time and realised that he was on the gantry that the gnoll guards had shot poisoned darts at them from. He shone his lantern along the wall and made a note of where the small holes were for future reference. He quickly listened at the door opposite the guard wall and pulled it open. The room beyond was lit by several smoking torches and a few lanterns on the centrally placed table. He noticed that he was at the head of a set of steps that led down into the room that was obviously a guard room.
As Bow eagerly stepped down the flight of stone stairs he surveyed the room with a critical eye. There were five bunks, five guarderobes and five small chests that lined the walls between three more doors that opened into the chamber. On the table surrounded by five stools in the centre of the room were the remains of a nasty looking meal.
He motioned for his companions to enter and they did so in swift succession. The door that they had entered through was closed and their two poisoned companions were laid upon bunks to fully rest.
Johan, backed up by Bow, went to investigate the other doors whilst Cormac stood watch at the door they had entered by. The door to their right opened up onto the main corridor in which they had just fought the gnoll guards. The inward opening door was closed again and blocked by moving one of the large bunks in the way.
The two adventurers then crossed the room and opened the door on the opposite wall. They jumped with fright at the sight of a huge spider that hung from the ceiling. Luckily it was a carved and realistically painted effigy so would do them no harm whilst they searched what appeared to be a store room. Inside was a motley collection of gnoll-like weapons, foodstuffs, a small pot of some unguent and a locked steel box.
The friends realised that there was not much of value in the room, so they took the pot of unguent and the steel box and left the chamber. The key to the box had been found on the body of the guard captain, so it was opened with relative ease to reveal the gnoll guards’ pay in silver coins.
The cleric crossed the room to the final door and strode straight in not expecting anything untoward. Unfortunately he stepped onto a floor not made of stone but of grey ooze; not the type used to make zombies but an altogether nastier one that resembled the green slime they had encountered at the moat house dungeon entrance. Before he could even shout a warning he had plunged in over his head. He spluttered to the surface and was swiftly pulled from the mess without harm but his metal armour, flail and sling stones began to corrode rapidly. He stepped out of the armour and dropped the weapons only to see them dissolve into a molten mess.
Displeased at being made to look such a fool he cast about to see if he could at least replace his armour. The gnoll captain’s armour, albeit very smelly would have to suffice at a pinch but Johan’s scowl turned to a smile when Cormac offered him the magical mace he had picked up from Lareth in Nulb (he had bought a decent magical sword in Castleford, so was more than happy to give his companion his second weapon).
Johan then announced that he would use the first store room to prepare his spells and that he should not be disturbed for a few hours unless they were sorely pressed. He suggested that the others took their rest whilst they could and that Vox prepared his next set of spells, and stressed that no-one should wander off alone in the interim.
The magician was already hard at work on his spell-craft when Johan gave his order and he realised that he could cast his remaining Strength spell and learn a new swathe of magiks knowing that the dweomer would last for several hours thereafter.
In the Eastern Guardroom – Giant Spider – late afternoon
Cormac took first watch and was then replaced by Bow at the door a couple of hours later. Gull rested fitfully on his bunk but the poison had completed its ravages upon his body. Vox perused his spell-books whilst he looked after the thief and Cormac snored on his bunk in the corner of the room. Bow heard that Johan was coming to the end of his prayers and divinations and was certain that no danger would be forthcoming from the escaped gnolls as nothing had happened in the last four hours, so he satisfied his curiosity itch by stealing from the room in search of adventure.
Nobody saw or heard him go as they were either asleep or studying for their spells. The ranger stole down the steps and into the main corridor. He passed the dead gnoll bodies in the grand hallway and noticed that on the right side of the main entrance doors there was an identical stairway. He strode straight up it and popped open the door at the top.
The sight within the room was almost exactly the same as the one that greeted him when he entered the first guard room except some of the furniture was arranged slightly differently. There was the same number of doors and the bunks also numbered five. A quick calculation showed that four of the gnoll guards were not present at the fight for the doors; he wondered where they might have gone.
The ranger popped open the door to another storeroom but found nothing of value in there other than another small, locked steel box and another jar of unguent. He picked them up and closed the door after him before he turned his attention upon the second door in the room.
He then strode purposefully over to the store room that was the equivalent of the one with the grey ooze. He opened the door with care and looked within. He could not make out much in the darkness, but when he thrust his lantern in for a better look a looping coil of sticky substance wrapped itself around his torso and bound him tight.
He yelped in panic when he saw the great bulk of a giant spider crawl its way across the ceiling of the chamber, clicking its pedipalps in anticipation of an easy meal. Bow was anything but an easy meal, and with his magically enhanced strength he pulled the spider from its eyrie on the ceiling and onto his sword.
The ranger’s shouts roused the rest of his companions; Johan completed his prayers and enquired to his companions what was going on. Vox remained seated whilst he watched over his sleeping companion and shrugged his shoulders. Cormac, meanwhile, had grabbed his sword and sprinted towards the source of the noise.
The cleric and fighter got to the scene of the disturbance just as Bow had cleaved off the spider’s second leg. The rest of the party made very short work of the arachnid thereafter. After the combat, Bow was berated for his single action but all were relieved that he was alright.
Juggernauts and dead-ends
The three adventurers quickly returned to the first guard room to pick up Vox, Gull and the rest of their equipment and also opened the second steel box to reveal a bit more silver and a small gem. Johan dispensed magical healing to those still in need and awoke Gull from his poison induced slumber.
After a brief discussion, they reached the consensus that they would head down the right hand, eastern corridor to see if they could find not only the kidnapped village girls but also the prime motive for their mission, the magical sword that was feted to be located in the vicinity.
They resumed their battle order and re-entered the main corridor. Now that they were not so preoccupied with combat they were able to see the frieze that was carved and painted upon the main entrance hall wall. The scene was one of wanton destruction caused by a huge construct that rolled over countless humans in its quest for blood. Vox and Cormac paid the frieze a little more attention than the rest of the party and spotted that one of the human figures had a golden locket suspended from its neck. Cormac plucked it from the frieze and popped it open to find five very small vials of liquid contained within. He passed the whole lot onto Vox who dropped it into one of the hidden pockets within his voluminous robes.
The party then continued around the corner very cautiously and could just make out in the distance that the corridor seemed to finish at a dead end. Bow and Gull took point whilst Cormac and Vox brought up the rear with Johan in the centre. They edged slowly down the corridor with Gull on the lookout for secret entrances or traps. As a result, the ranger and thief paced twenty feet ahead of their companions until they reached the end of the corridor and promptly disappeared.
This sowed panic amongst the rest of the companions and they raced forward to a few feet before the point the two scouts had disappeared to see what had happened.
Meanwhile, Bow and Gull examined the wall at the end of the corridor. They found nothing so turned round to tell their companions the news and realised that they had disappeared. However, they noticed that the nature of the corridor had changed. It was now longer and there were a few doors interspersed along its length.
Just as the duo were about to panic, Johan bumped into them from behind, closely followed by a very nervous Cormac and Vox.
The party surveyed their location and realised that some sort of teleportation had occurred. Vox was not fazed by the revelation so he nonchalantly daubed a little ink sigil on the wall to mark their position, but the others were a little wary.
Braken, his captive and the ticks
The party reorganised themselves into their usual marching order and headed quietly and carefully down the corridor to the first door on the left. Gull listened at the door but heard nothing beyond so the door was slowly opened.
The small square chamber beyond was quite empty except for a black curtain at the opposite end. The thief twitched a corner of the curtain aside to see what was beyond and was surprised to hear the sound of tinkling bells that were sewn to the other side. The man in armour beyond had risen from a great divan in full armour but the naked woman he had been lying with rushed towards the now revealed party screaming with arms outstretched.
This surprised the companions who had filed into the room to combat its occupants. The man in armour fumbled with some strapping and called out for an attack. Six giant blood-sucking ticks rose from the heavy carpets and cushions and swarmed towards the party along with the screaming woman who made a beeline for Cormac.
The party managed to strike at a few of the ticks to keep them at bay but then their world went black. This was not just a lack of torch light as they could still feel the heat emanating in their hands as they still burned but a complete lack of light. Johan realised that this must be a magically conjured darkness so called for his companions to retreat.
Gull got off a shot from his crossbow in the general direction of the man in armour but only heard his quarrel bounce off of the far wall in the chamber. The screaming woman had clung onto Cormac, so he dashed her with his sword in the darkness and felt her fall. Bow suffered again from the encounter when one of the ticks attached itself to him and began to suck at his life’s blood.
As none of his companions had retreated, Johan re-joined the fray. He too had a tick attach itself to him in the darkness. He called for Vox to blast them with a fireball but the wizard realised that if he did as requested then the whole room and corridor they had entered from would be engulfed in flame, and would most likely kill half of the party. He decided to get out to the corridor to keep watch in case those gnolls came back.
The ticks that attached themselves to the party were quickly swiped off and so the companions retreated to the corridor; all except Bow who had got caught fighting the vermin with a passion born from his previous near-death experience at the moat house near Staneford.
Temple Guard Reinforcements
Unfortunately, as the companions stumbled back into the corridor they heard the sound of soldiers arming themselves. Gull covered the next door down with his crossbow as Cormac ran to block any reinforcements from getting through it.
The door popped open to the jingle of harness, the scrape of hobnailed boots and the barking of a rabid dog. Cormac had a scant few seconds to ready himself before he was assaulted by several men-at-arms in Temple livery.
Vox saw that his companion was in grave danger, and hopelessly outnumbered, so he scampered down the corridor, unravelling the Rope of Entanglement as he went. As he reached the door he drew back his casting arm, and then spoke the command word as he let loose. The leader and four of his companions became magically entangled within its coils whilst the rest of the troop attempted to cut their comrades out from the restrictions now placed upon them.