Monday, 25 August 2014

Doggerland Session 8:43 (Dungeon Level 3)

This session took place over a week ago but I am/have been on holiday so there has been a delay in the write-up. There are only two more playing sessions left before the game ends, so the denouement may be a little more rushed than I anticipated. That said, there is only one main encounter left - the one with the demoness herself. Anyway, here is the latest session...

The Golden Skull (13th August 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter (NPC)
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter
Vox – Magic User

Courtesy of TSR/WotC - used purely for gaming purposes

The Basilisk – Freyasday 26th Hextember (day 87) - morning

The cocks crowed at first light on the late summer morning, awakening the adventurers from their slumber. The Talehangers’ Inn at Castleford provided the companions with freshly baked bread, cold meats and hot porridge to break their fast and to stuff into their travelling packs for later that day. The party quickly splashed their faces with cold water, collected their weapons and equipment, and went to the stables to collect their mounts. They swiftly mounted their horses and passed through the Southern Gate on their way back to the Temple via Nulb.

The journey back to the ruined barn outside the Temple walls was uneventful and they tethered their horses with plentiful oats to keep them going for a day or so at least. They readjusted the strapping on their armour and backpacks and climbed down the well just outside the ramshackle building and advanced upon the lair at the end of the tunnel complex on their map.

Bow had taken point, so he was the first to turn the final corner of the underground warren into the small complex. He narrowly avoided the glowing green-eyed gaze of the eight-legged lizard that rushed to meet him upon his entry. The ranger counter-charged his adversary and out of the corner of his eye he noticed an urn upon a shelf above the fountain in the open chamber beyond upturned by what seemed an invisible hand. A spark erupted and flaming oil poured from it along the runnels set at the base of the walls of the chamber.

Unperturbed by this, the ranger carried on fighting the lizard whilst the rest of the party rounded the corner and spotted their companion in trouble. Cormac, Theoderic and Tarquin rushed in to join the fight whilst Vox and Max hung back; especially after Johan yelled out to avoid the creature’s gaze unless they wished to be turned to stone.

It took a few minutes for the adventurers to realise that no matter how much they hit the monster it never seemed to feel the pain or show any injury. Theoderic was the first to realise that even after he had given the giant lizard his best shot his sword had caused it no harm; no wound and no blood appeared where he struck the creature. He called out that the beast was not as it appeared.

Rogues and Wizards in the House – late afternoon

Bow, more single-minded in the mission than his companions, broke from the fight and decided to explore the two doors on the northern and southern walls of the chamber in order to try to find the Golden Skull. He hopped over the runnel of fire that had now lit a couple of torches set within cressets on the walls and burst through the northern door. He stepped into the dark room beyond only to be struck from behind by a small blade. His armour turned the majority force of the blade, so it only caused him minimal anguish, and he took the fight to the small ambusher behind him.

At this point Tarquin had realised that the creature was an illusion and as his disbelief kicked in, the monster disappeared from his vision. However, his companions still fought for their lives against the fearsome foe, disadvantaged by the fact that if they met its gaze they would be turned to stone. He left the fight to aid Bow in the search for the Golden Skull by opening the southern door.

He stepped through the doorway and found himself face-to-face with a wizardly fellow who cast a Lightning Bolt at him. The bolt only caught the fighter a glancing blow but it flashed past him and into the northern room where it also glanced off of Bow, struck the far wall and rebounded back to strike the ranger again. Bow was reduced to within an inch of his life.

By now, Theoderic had also realised the basilisk was a deception and he too broke from the combat to aid Bow who he saw had caught the worst of the Lightning Bolt.

With more time to think than the others from their cover behind the last stone corner, Vox put a blindfold on his eyes and stumbled forward whilst Maximillian imbibed a portion of an Invisibility potion and snuck up on the basilisk. He managed to strike it firmly at what he thought was a vital point but even he found he could not harm the creature.

Eventually all of the party except Cormac realised that the creature was an illusion and had left their faithful fighter companion to face the threat alone. It took him a while, but eventually he too figured out he was doing the beast no harm and as his disbelief kicked in, the illusion faded for him too.

Back in the northern room, the ambusher saw their opportunity and dashed for the exit. The masked and hooded rogue made it past Bow and Theoderic and then out of the basilisk’s chamber, but Vox had just pulled off his blindfold and spotted the rapidly escaping figure. He cast a Magic Missile at the retreating shape and the escapee fell to the stone tiled floor. Vox and Cormac checked over the body for anything of value and it was then that they realised that the rogue was in fact a woman.

Meanwhile, back in the southern chamber, Tarquin had moved forward to attack the wizard but a small imp-like creature had hurled itself upon his shoulders and began to claw at his neck. Johan had arrived on the scene at this time but could do nothing but watch in awe as the wizard and his familiar disappeared from their sight.

Both the warrior and cleric struck around them with their weapons and blocked every way out of the chamber but after a few minutes they realised that there was in fact no-one left in the room anymore except them.

The Hidden Chamber

With the fighting over, the rest of the party convened within the wizard’s chamber, where Johan dispensed with magical Healing to those who had suffered in the jaws of the basilisk or the human defenders of this part of the dungeon. They searched it thoroughly for anything of value and pocketed items that they thought would be either helpful to their cause or of value. The only quandary was what they should do with the warning note nailed to the door jamb of the only other exit from the room.

Vox cast a Detect Magic spell and discovered that several of the items that they had picked up were magical but the strongest glow was from beyond the closed door. Max checked the door for traps but found none, so Johan pulled the door open. The warding glyph held within the parchment nailed to the door jamb exploded and caught him full in the face.

After he had recovered from the shock and hurt the cleric took a look inside the small chamber beyond. This was the wizard’s store room and it was packed full of useful items for a mage. Vox took his pick from the many spell components in a variety of jars and vials, whilst Max hunted down the magical items identified by the wizard and stored them within his various pouches.

It was at this point that the party began to grow a little confused. They were assured from several sources that this was where the Golden Skull had been secreted. The adventurers began to search the walls for hidden doors but none could be found. It was only Tarquin’s curiosity with the fire outside in the open basilisk chamber that led him to discover the trip for the secret door within the southern chamber.

The Golden Skull

Image courtesy of TSR/WotC

Max quickly ascertained that there were no traps upon the hidden door and he pushed it open to reveal a short corridor beyond. He advanced cautiously along it looking for traps but the rest of the party lost patience and someone threw a lit torch at the far wall. It did not set off any traps or move in an unusual way, so they advanced into the corridor looking for another secreted doorway.

Again, it fell upon Max to discover the hidden doorway. He popped open the portal and stepped into another wizard’s chamber with a large, cold fireplace complete with hanging pots and cauldrons. This one looked more like a wizard’s study than a laboratory though and inside he spotted a variety of wizardly items and a large library. Vox and Max began to remove books at random from the shelves and stuffed them into their pockets and pouches.

The rest of the party searched for whatever treasures they could find, but it was Bow that spotted the iron box hidden away from normal sight. He handed it to Max who detected the very dangerous chlorine gas trap held within. He disarmed the trap but realised that if he tried to save it for future use it would rupture and cause great anguish to the party. Instead, he gently handed the iron box back to Bow who opened the lid to see the golden skull-shaped item within. He smiled to himself with the knowledge that their mission was almost complete, reclosed the lid and stowed it away in his back pack.

Return to the Tower – early evening

The party had got what they had come for, so they decided to make haste and get out of the dungeon before they were spotted again by the wizard returning with reinforcements.

They decided to hole up in the tower within the grounds of the Temple above ground. If it was still empty they would be safe within. But if it had been reoccupied then they might have another fight on their hands before they could rest.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Doggerland Session 8:42 (Back to Castleford)

Rewards and Rest (6th August 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter
Vox – Magic User

Return to Castleford - Wodensday 24th Hextember (day 85) – mid-morning

After an uneventful night the adventurers woke up to the smell of freshly brewed tea. Johan completed his morning prayers and used all of the divinely granted Healing dweomers on everyone who had suffered an injury over the previous day’s adventures. Vox found he had little energy and sweated more than he ordinarily would have done upon the effort required to prepare breakfast, and he mentioned to the others that he felt like he had when he last suffered an infection of the Grey Ooze. He thought back over the last day or so to figure out when this infection might have occurred and realised that when he was in wolf form he had bitten one of the Temple servants. Johan rummaged through his back pack and gave the rapidly weakening mage one of his remaining pots of Keoghtom’s Ointment, which, when applied to his other minor scratches, got into his blood stream and removed all traces of the pathogen.

Prince Thrommel watched all of this with interest but said nothing. He stood up, stretched and then made his way outside of the barn to make his water. After a few minutes, the rest of the party heard a loud whistle from outside the barn, so they grabbed their weapons and hurried to join the prince outside. A few moments later the sound of hoof beats were heard and a heavy war horse arrived in the clearing outside the dilapidated barn doors. It snickered a greeting to Thrommel and the prince patted its snout before feeding a handful of oats to his mount.

Johan approached Thrommel whilst he reacquainted himself with his war horse and asked if he could cast a magical spell upon him to Detect Evil intent. Thrommel refused permission and responded to the cleric that he saw it as an affront to his honour, and that trust should have built up over night. Johan kept pestering him and arguing his case which annoyed the warrior, so Thrommel Commanded him to Silence and explained that if he persisted in pursuing this theme then he would be forced to take firmer action. Whilst the members of the party discussed this, Thrommel mounted his warhorse and requested that everyone else did the same. Some mounted their riding horses that had been left in the stables whilst those that did not have a mount prepared for the forthcoming jog back to Castleford.

The adventurers rode into Nulb around lunch time and grabbed something to eat from their saddlebags whilst they stretched their legs and looked about the rapidly changing village. The new stone church dedicated to Sol Invictus had been worked on the most and was beginning to take shape. The ditch for the moat of the new stone castle tower was almost completed and the two razed inns were being rebuilt in Thuringian fashion.

Whilst the adventurers took all of this in, Thrommel had trotted up to the blacksmith’s forge. He leapt from his warhorse at the sight of the grizzled ex-mercenary veteran and the party noticed that they greeted each other as if they were long-lost friends.

Bow realised that he would have a little time to himself whilst Thrommel and the smith got reacquainted so he walked up the road to see Mother Screng in her herb shop. She was as miserable as ever but she answered his questions about the Skull, Sword and amulets. She also gave him a little insight into the history of Prince Thrommel and the timeline of him going missing; he was involved in the fight against the Temple the last time it arose in the area, but went missing about 12 years ago just before the final raid on the Temple itself.

She recalled the story of the five great mages who had sealed up the Temple behind four huge bronze valves and thus imprisoned the demon queen within its confines whilst they sought for a way to destroy or banish her for good. Unfortunately most of those mages had either died or gone missing in the interim, so could not be relied upon to help out this time round. She also told the ranger that the amulets were created by the Temple followers to destroy the doors but they had been taken from them by the Sol Invictus followers in order to stop the release of their demon queen. Unfortunately they had been re-found by the Temple but work was underway to reclaim them again. Bow showed her the three that he had about his person and he saw her smile for the first time. A muttered praise from Mother Screng’s daughter who hovered in the background was heard by the intrepid forester.

The wizened old crone then went on to mention that the small skull idol had also been fashioned to help the demoness and her followers but it too had gone missing; it was assumed to be located within a small enclave on the third level of the Temple underground complex. In the meantime, she continued, whilst these devices were created by the temple’s followers, the priests of Sol Invictus had studied ancient manuscripts and found a way to banish the demoness for a very long time. The way all of the magic items inter-reacted meant that if the amulets were attached to the skull and then it was sundered by the Sword of Solitude, that was forged especially for that purpose, in Zuggtmoy’s presence she would be sucked back into the Void from whence she came. Bow thanked her for the story and said that he and his fellow band of adventurers were going to try to return Zuggtmoy to her own realms. Mother Screng smiled again and thanked him for his enthusiasm. She wished him well on his ventures and ushered him back to the street outside.

Thrommel finished his impromptu chat with the smith and remounted his warhorse. He called for the rest of the party to follow him and spurred his charger along the road to Castleford.

The party’s arrival at the Southern Gate of the town was greeted with shock and then jubilation by the guards. After a few moments passed, the captain of the guard appeared with a score of well-turned-out men-at-arms and formed an honour guard to escort the prince towards the castle after which the town got its name. Word of his miraculous arrival spread like wildfire and the streets were very quickly thrumming with crowds to get a closer view of their future ruler. Thrommel turned to his fellow travellers and said that there would be a feast up at the castle great hall later that evening where the party would be rewarded for their part in his rescue.

Theoderic, Tarquin and Johan decided to continue to accompany the prince up to the castle whilst Bow, Cormac, Maximillian and Vox booked the party’s rooms in the Talehangers’ Inn. They were greeted warmly by the innkeeper and their usual rooms were made ready, occasionally to the chagrin of their current occupants.

The members of the party that went up to the castle were allowed entry but were then left to their own devices whilst preparations for that evening’s feast went on around them. They quickly got bored and returned to the Inn to get ready for the festivities.

Bow managed to arrange for a hot bath in which to soak away the strains of the last few days, whilst the innkeeper and his servants cleaned his weapons and armour. He then sent out orders to the finest tailors for some new clothes in the latest town fashion for that night’s celebrations.

Cormac and Maximillian wandered into the Artisans’ Quarter and visited upon Vox’s magical contacts. They got several of the magical items the party had picked up in the dungeon complex below the Temple Identified and then took their more mundane treasures to smiths and jewellers to be evaluated.

Vox meanwhile headed down to the docks in order to look for a boat on which to retire after his adventures were over. He was becoming jaded with the whole adventuring lark and decided that he wanted to spend more time in his own company with a personal laboratory or library than down a deep, dark, dank dungeon. Still, he had to just finish this mission to save the world before he could put down some roots and show his father that he was somebody after all. He wandered along the dockside wharfs and asked everyone he encountered if they knew of any boats for sale. He managed to find out that there were indeed four vessels available; a large merchantman, a slave galley, a long boat and a small raft – two were out of his current price range and the other two were not suitable. He would need to finish the adventures with his small band of companions to find enough treasure to enable him to purchase what he required. If he kept out of trouble, threw in a few mighty spells from time-to-time, and generally stayed alert, he thought he should be able to see things through to accomplish his wishes.

Rewards and Celebrations – late evening

The party readied themselves in their greatest finery (no armour allowed) and left the inn at the allotted time. Vox made his excuses and said that he would not be joining them this evening; he had too much to do.

A huge crowd had gathered in Market Street, the main thoroughfare that led up to the castle, and a long line of benches and trestle tables were laden with victuals and ale as preparations for the street party were finalised. The adventurers made their way through the teeming crowds and arrived at the castle gates on time.

The captain of the guard tied their weapons into their scabbards and then presented them with a guard of honour. They were shown to the tables closest to the lord’s dais, but much to their consternation they were given benches at the farthest end (lowest ranked). However, they were positioned above the majority of invitees on the lower ranked tables, so they accepted their lot.

The great hall was very busy; troops of tumblers and jugglers vied for space with musicians to provide entertainment for the throng, and serving girls and pot boys circulated in abundance to pander to the guests’ every whim for food and drink.

Just as the tenth bell sounded, silence was called for by the castle crier. The previous cacophony fell to a barely audible hushed mutter and then finally to silence as the party’s deeds were uttered and their names called. The party was invited one-at-a-time up to the main dais upon which Prince Thrommel held the seat of honour, closely surrounded by the Baron Tancred, Lady Mathilde and the lord Ralph, High Priest of Sol Invictus in Castleford, as well as other high ranking nobles and dignitaries from the immediate vicinity around Castleford.

Bow was called first and he was asked to kneel before the prince. The prince raised his holy sword and then knighted the ranger, who then had the Silver Star of Vannin and the Gold Crown of Veluna pinned to his chest in recognition of the deeds he had carried out. These honours granted him freedom to bear arms in each of the town’s environs in the presence of all others. The bindings on his weapons were ceremonially slashed and he was then given his monetary rewards; a magical shield, a Potion of Extra Healing, a magical Ring of Protection and a bag containing around 2000 gold coins worth of treasure.

Tarquin was called onto the dais next. He too was knighted and given a similar potion, ring and bag of treasure, as were Theoderic, Cormac, Maximillian and then finally a reluctant Johan; the non-fighters were dubbed Elders of the Land rather than Knights.

The prince noticed that one of the party’s members was missing, so he enquired after Vox. Bow made his excuses for him and Thrommel said he would summon him on the morrow to collect his rewards. The adventurers were then hailed as heroes and told about their new honours and responsibilities, and then returned to their seats in a higher position among the throng.

Meanwhile, outside, the townsfolk were treated to street entertainers, never ending rivers of wine and ale, and mountains of food, followed by a display of fireworks the likes of which none had seen before. Vox stayed sober throughout the night’s celebrations and when the fireworks were over he returned to his room deep in his own thoughts.

The Following Day – Thunorsday 25th Hextember (day 86)

Bow rose as early as his hangover would allow him and he headed back to the inn to find Vox. The ranger argued the prince’s position and finally convinced the sceptical magic user to return to the castle with him to collect his reward. Vox reluctantly went with his companion but refused any ceremony or positions of favour when the awards were offered to him. He did, however, reluctantly accept some monetary rewards for his part in the rescue of the prince; a bag of coins and his choice of the excellent riding horses, with full training, from the baron’s stables.

The rest of the party returned to the inn whilst Vox was up at the castle but then split up to find mentors with whom to test their new found fighting and thaumaturgical skills in order to piece together new techniques to aid them in their forthoming adventures.

The events of the last few days had Tarquin’s mind in a spin. He saw the attraction of the new church and held the prince up as a warrior of truest virtue. He had had an epiphany and was converted to the worship of Sol Invictus much to the disgust of Johan and Vox.

Theoderic noticed Tarquin’s and Johan’s religious impulses, and decided to seek solace with his goddess. He sought out the largest brothel in The Wynde dedicated to Frig, the goddess of fertility in people, and said that he would become its protector and benefactor when he completed his mission to vanquish the demoness Zuggtmoy. His large donation was gladly accepted by the maĆ®tre d’hotel.

The remainder of the day was spent restocking their expendable weaponry and supplies from around the town and they then retired early in preparation for the next few days. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Doggerland Session 8:41 (Dungeon Level 3)

The Fourth Amulet (30th July 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter
Vox – Magic User

Roper - Tirsday 23rd Hextember (day 84) – late evening

Dungeon Level 3 (part) - amended from the module map copyright TSR/WotC 

The exhausted party of adventurers began to find comfortable places to settle down to rest for the night when a scream rent the air. A large grey-green shape began to flow from below one of the wardrobes and formed up in front of Vox’s eyes. The plucky mage pulled back and began to prepare for battle whilst Johan jumped forward to aid him.

Unfortunately for the cleric of Balder he was struck unconscious by a long sticky pseudopod that had shot out from the now quite large mass of grey-green goo and was slowly drawn towards the beast’s slavering maw.

The rest of the party closed in rapidly and began to fight the noisome creature. They released the sorely injured cleric from the clutches of the unshapen mass from the Abyss, but as his limp form was removed Tarquin too was struck and injured and drawn towards the beast.

Bow removed one of the small jars of Keoghtom’s Ointment from his pack and applied its contents to the welts that had rapidly formed on the cleric’s flesh where the tentacles had grabbed hold of him. Johan’s eyelids flickered as he regained consciousness, but the beast was now dead; dispatched quickly by the remainder of the fighters in the group of hardy explorers.

Just as the party began to clean their weapons of whatever the beast used for vital fluids there came a heavy pounding upon the door and an order to open up or face the consequences. The adventurers decided not to comply and jeered back through the door that whoever was outside would have to come in to take them.

Moments later the door was rent asunder by the second of two almighty blows. An ogre stepped through the debris and then leapt at the party, swiftly followed by several bugbears. In the midst of the bugbears the party spotted a human but before they could do anything to harm him, he cast a Silence spell that rendered the party’s spell-casters dumb within its confines.

The fighters met the ogre’s challenge and took the melee to the enemy whilst Maximillian hid beyond one of the corners of the separating wall ready to back-stab any enemy unfortunate enough to pass his way. Vox, oblivious to all of this used the time to search the benches, tables and cupboards for any more useful items.

The ogre was rapidly felled by Bow and his fellow fighters whilst Johan searched for and found a spot where the Silence spell no longer affected him. Unfortunately, by the time he got there, the enemy cleric had escaped; a blow from Cormac through the ranks of the bugbears had put him to flight. As the pressure of the fight was borne by Bow, Cormac and Theoderic, the fourth warrior, Tarquin, took to looting the fallen bodies. The narrow confines of the doorway precluded his presence, but the rest of the fighters cut a swathe of destruction through the ranks of the bugbears, which showed that the party was more than a match for almost anything that the Temple could throw at them.

After just a few moments of searching, Tarquin’s strength began to fail him. He dropped his guard and found that he could no longer wield his weapons effectively. He leaned against the nearest wall, his strength sapped by the roper’s poison coursing through his veins. Luckily Johan spotted his injured comrade’s dilemma, so he approached him and applied the contents of one of his jars of Keoghtom’s Ointment to replenish him and cure him of the poisons. Tarquin’s strength slowly flowed back into his limbs and he breathed his thanks to the cleric.

The Cleric and the Altar

Bow quickly managed to cut his way through the final few bugbears between him and the rapidly retreating cleric and gave chase.

Vox, his curiosity at last piqued by the lack of noise around him, finally decided to investigate the silence. He turned the corner of the interior wall and spotted the scene of carnage just inside the doorway. He could see no combat nearby, so he motioned for Max to join him from the shadows.

Everyone except for Cormac had followed the ranger down the side corridor. Maximillian decided that he wanted to be a part of the action now, so he followed on their tail rapidly. Vox shrugged his shoulders at his companions’ impetuosity and returned to the laboratory to carry on reading the parchments and vellum lying around. He lit a small fire and began to brew some tea. Cormac decided that the rest of the party could look after themselves, so he hung back to guard the door to the laboratory in which the magic user was working.

Bow, meanwhile, had raced along a couple of short corridors and around a final corner into a small oddly shaped room, but his grin of triumph turned to a howl of pain as he set off a Glyph of Warding. The lightning strike caused him to duck swiftly back to avoid further harm. In the oddly-shaped room beyond he could hear the mumbling of a cleric in prayer.

The ranger returned to the room, correctly thinking that the ward would only fire once. The black-granite floored odd-shaped room was decorated with floor to ceiling white banners with the symbol of Sol Invictus proudly displayed upon them. The rear of the room contained a large altar with another white cloth draped over it, again with the holy symbol of Sol Invictus proudly displayed. The holy items on the altar were ignored by Bow as his attention was firmly fixed upon the cleric behind it.

The cleric stopped his chanting and then calmly walked past the ranger who found himself unable to strike at him due to the magical Sanctuary the evil cleric had cast upon.

The rest of the party arrived just as the cleric waltzed past the ranger and they all gave chase. They were mostly prevented from striking the cleric by the dweomer but eventually their persistence paid off and they managed to get a few sword strokes through his defences and struck him down in the corridor just past a bewildered looking Cormac who was still standing guard.

The Secret Tomb

Max was the first to return to the odd-shaped altar room and he began to search all over for secret doors and traps. The rest of the party eventually joined him and helped in the search but eventually it is the thief who found the secret door in the wall.

Max popped open the door and it squealed on its unused hinges. The dark, dusty, cobweb strewn hexagonal room beyond contained the dried husk of a corpse lying beside the door, a dark iron sarcophagus with its lid lying beside it and a small scroll case next to that.

Bow made a bee-line for the sarcophagus and its lid. The silver Sol Invictus symbol inscribed upon the lid caught his eye whilst he picked up the scroll case beside it. He handed the scroll case to Johan who was directly behind him and then peeked inside the coffin. Inside he spotted a withered, dusty corpse with a stake through its chest.

Despite the fervent warnings of Johan, Bow wrenched the stake from the corpse’s heart and discarded it upon the floor. Johan shrieked in disbelief at such an act but before he could react, a cadaverous hand grabbed hold of the edge of the sarcophagus and a long, heavy dry breath was heard from within.

The dry corpse raised itself and asked through shrunken lips who had awoken him – he was blind and could not see who was in the room. The years of decay then seemed to fall away from the corpse as the moments passed and a person who was the total opposite to the withered corpse they had disturbed stood up; the thickly muscled, handsome warrior wore a white tabard with a Sol Invictus emblem upon it over a suit of mail, a thick gold chain hung round his neck with an amulet of some kind hidden beneath the tabard, an empty scabbard and a dagger in its sheath on the hip opposite the sword sheath hung from a thick gold belt.

He introduced himself as Prince Thrommel, and asked who his rescuers were. Bow responded with his name and said that he had removed the stake from his heart and was at his service. Thrommel removed the gold chain from around his neck and offered it to Bow for saving him. From the end of the chain hung the fourth amulet!

The party then questioned the newly risen warrior and managed to piece together some of his background story which corroborated with what they knew of him – he went missing about 12 years ago, he was a Prince of Veluna, a Thuringian by birth, a well-renowned swordsman and defender of the Faith. He had fought the Temple before in the past but had been defeated by powerful magic and imprisoned.

Meanwhile, back in the laboratory, Vox had finally cottoned onto the fact that his comrades were no longer around and decided to bring the tea he had brewed and some sweetmeats into the tomb. He offered the drinks and refreshments all round and, upon seeing the mail-clad warrior, greeted the prince in a friendly manner. He is treated with a ring from Prince Thrommel’s hand for his efforts.

The Sword

After a little further discussion, both sides realised that the prince must be returned to Castleford if they were to gain a promised large reward. The prince then discovered that his sword was missing from its scabbard and was concerned by its loss.

Whilst these discussions were happening Johan, not able to read the arcane script on the scrolls, handed them to Vox, who realised instantly what they were; two spells he already knew how to use – Dispel Magic and Strength.

As the discussion went on, the fighters thought that the sword might be hidden beneath the heavy black stone altar in the odd-shaped room outside, so Vox used the Strength spell on Theoderic to see if he could lift it out of the way of a possible hidey-hole beneath. Unfortunately, even his magically enhanced Strength was not enough to shift the heavy stone.

Not to be defeated, Bow put his observation skills to the test and remembered that the lid of the sarcophagus bore an image, albeit a Sol Invictus one, that showed a slight resemblance to a sword.

Vox thought quickly and then ushered everyone out of the tomb. He then cast the remaining spell on the scroll to dispel any magic within the chamber. The sword clattered from the lid as Bow suspected.

Rest and Recuperation

Thrommel’s sight had slowly returned whilst the party had been talking and he said that they had no time to waste in getting out of the Temple and back to his realm.

The party retraced their steps out of the dungeon back to the surface and then through the thick of the night out of the Temple grounds to the stable where they had hobbled their horses. All had been eerily quiet on the way back, but thinking of the carnage that they had wrought on the way in, that was probably why.

They decided to hole up for the night in the stable to recover their spells and cleanse their wounds. Vox swiftly fell asleep whilst the rest of the adventurers set up a watch. Johan and Thrommel began to pray to their appropriate gods when all had settled down and everyone had eaten.

The snores from those who were not on watch or praying were loud in the dark of the night. Johan’s suspicions were still aroused and he watched the lord knight closely in his preparations. He bore a sword yet prayed for divine aid. He could not shake the lingering suspicion that Thrommel was not who he said he was.