|DM Note: This being just test fights, we reset to full spells and hit points again. Yes, they fussed for a good five minutes as to who would loot which body over around 25gp!|
7. After a little debate over who was going to loot which body, the two companions pooled the few coins carried by the hobgoblin and the goblin and split the difference. Then they turned their attention to what the monsters had been fighting over - a thick, coarse sack lying on the ground in the middle of the room.
Opening it rather cautiously, they discovered a pile more gold with a rolled parchment lying on top. Yoshin looked at this and discovered to his delight that it was a spell-scroll, for a spell far more powerful than anything he'd ever cast before. Gleefully he tucked it into his pouch before they split the gold, before renewing the Mage Armour spells on them both.
14. Moving on, they opened the far door to reveal another corridor. Moving along, they chose the nearest and this time remembered to listen before opening it. Silence greeted them and they were so encouraged by this that they skipped the check for traps. Unfortunately, when Caitlin bashed it open, the lightning bolt trap went off with an enormous crack of electrical energy.
Caitlin staggered into the room, scorched, hair all standing on end and trailing small streamers of smoke. Fortunately, the room contained no hostile occupants, and she was able to pull herself together as Yoshin searched the place. Wooden frames crumbled on the walls, and decaying workbenches bore shreds of coloured cloth. Based on what they'd seen elsewhere, this seemed to be some kind of workroom for making or mending tapestries. Caitlin tried to pick up a piece, but it crumbled to slimy rot in her gloved fingers.
4. With much more care, the pair opened the door into a large antechamber. Doors opened both left and right, and they chose left. This brought them to a long corridor with several doors, and Caitlin elected to take the northern-most door first. Once again, she barrelled into it and smashed it open, this time springing back just in time as a heavy portcullis dropped into place where the door had been, narrowly missing her.
3. Beyond could be seen what had once been a sumptuous dining-room, although someone had added ring-bolts driven into the walls with chains and manacles dangling at regular intervals. Caitlin bent and gripped the bars, but she couldn't lift the gate back into the slot it had fallen from. Aggravated, they turned back and went to look at the door at the south end of the passage.
20. Standing between the two doors at the south end, both listened carefully. Sounds seemed to be coming from behind both doors, a rummaging due south that they recognized from doing it themselves as someone giving a room a thorough searching, and to the west the sound of clinking chains. Reasoning that anyone attached to chains wasn't going anywhere while they waited, they returned to the south door and walloped it open. As the door banged open, a small object flying across the room caught Caitlin's eye - a doorwedge. Someone had already opened this door and then secured it to keep casual intruders out.
The first thing that caught their eye was a faint, damaged but plainly discernable pentagram carved into the stone floor. Traces of red paint remained but it didn't look to have been used for some time. Scattered around it were four dead bodies - orcs - slashed and hacked. Busily looting these was a short, stocky humanoid - a dwarf. As they entered, he looked up, his face suspicious and hostile.
"Hello," said Yoshin, "sorry to disturb you, we were looking for the way out?" The dwarf grunted. "That way," he said shortly, waving back the way they'd come. Caitlin rather liked the idea of recruiting a henchman, and tried to make friends. "Come with us?" she suggested. "We don't want your gold," she added, gesturing to the dwarf's loot pile. He sneered, as if challenging her to just try and take it. "Do you have any friends with you?" she pressed on. "Did they wander away? We need all the help we can get," she finished. He grunted again. "So I see," he said contemptuously, "go away and get yourselves nice safe barmaid jobs." He pretended to 'realize' Yoshin was male. "Oh, sorry, all you pointy-ears look the same to me," he finished. Caitlin realized that charm wasn't going to work on this one. After all, she wasn't his type - no beard. "We'll give you anything," she said brightly. "Hundred gold a day," he snapped. It was hopelessly overpriced, an attempt to get rid of them, but he was unaware of the Countess's resources. "Yes," she said. The dwarf blinked at her in surprise, then rallied. "Deal," he said quickly, unable to quite conceal his delight, and scooped up his possessions and axe. He fell in behind them as they headed out of the room, Caitlin still trying to make friends as they went. "Are you wounded?" she asked helpfully. "No," he said gruffly.
As they stepped over the bodies, Caitlin glanced at them, and something occurred to her. Not all the wounds on their bodies were the work of a heavy axe such as Finbon carried. Most looked rather more as if they were from the crude weapons scattered around the orc corpses. She was opening her mouth to ask him about this when Yoshin stepped close to her. "I trust him, let's not annoy him!" he said.
Yoshin stopped at the door behind which chains clinked, curious to see what the noise meant, but Caitlin and Finbon returned to the portcullis to see if the pair of them could get it open.
3. The pair of them were able to get it started, and once it was rolling upwards Caitlin was able to keep it moving after it rose abover where the dwarf could reach it. He stepped rapidly through, then gestured to the human girl. "Come on!" he urged. She tried to turn under the spikes but her grip slipped and the gate began to fall. Twisting desperately, she managed to get almost entirely through but the sharp, heavy points tore a big wound in her leg as they went past.
She looked back to the dwarf where he stood gazing around the room. "Do you have any healing potions?" she asked a bit plaintively. "You only hired me, not my potions." he replied gruffly, not moving. "I'll pay one-fifty," she said, wincing as she took a few steps on the damaged leg. "Huh," he said reluctantly, "I'd take it, but I've got no healing potions."
8. Meanwhile, Yoshin had opened the door into the room where the chain sounds were, and discovered another room evidently converted by the orcs to use as a dungeon. Several sets of manacles hung from ringbolts along the wall, and in one of those dangled a battered, wounded lizardman. He looked up as Yoshin came in. "Elf!" he rasped in a dry voice, speaking Krultac. "Help me!" Yoshin nodded. "Right," he said in the same language, "you stay with me; we stick together; we move along; none of us die."
The reptilian looked as if he agreed with the basics of this, but lifted his manacled hands, the chains clinking, in mute appeal. Yoshin regarded them. He'd not learned the Knock spell yet, and he wasn't strong enough to just cut them. For the hundredth time he reminded himself to go find someone to teach him to pick locks. Then he pulled a short prybar out of his toolkit, stuck it in the link holding the manacles together and levered hard. The link snapped with a ping and the lizardman was free, albeit still with iron manacles around each wrist.
"Thanks," muttered the prisoner, rising to his full, impressive seven-foot height. "I'll just get my gear - in that chest there - and we can be off." While he gathered his equipment, Yoshin went to the door to check on events, just in time to hear a crash and a cut-off cry of surprise from the north end of the corridor.
Caitlin and Finbon stood looking around the dining room. "Half now, half later?" said Finbon suddenly, perhaps worried by Caitlin's performance with the trap that his employer wouldn't be around to pay him later. "Fine," said Caitlin absently, digging out a handful of coins. As she did so, everything went black. She could still see her lantern, visible as if underwater in a brown haze, but everything else was as dark as if she had had a bag on her head. A curse from Finbon showed he had fared no better, and both drew weapons. "What shall we do?" asked Caitlin urgently.
A heavy crash right next to her made her jump, scattering gold coins into the dark. The sound of a heavy creature scuttling across the stone made both turn and squint, but unable to see whatever it was they were helpless.
Yoshin stared up the corridor in disbelief. Ten feet before the portcullis door, a black curve of featureless darkness slanted across the hallway. If it was - as it appeared - part of a sphere, then the whole must be around fifty or sixty feet across. He recognized it as magical Darkness, and could hear Caitlin and Finbon getting close to panic inside it - as well they might locked in the dark with an unknown monster. For a moment he stood frozen by indecsion - and then he remembered the scroll. Pulling it free, he scanned the spell frantically. After a few seconds he was sure he had the words right, and began the invocation. Power ripped through him, power far beyond what he was ready to control, and the magic blasted out, a Dispel Magic that shredded the Darkness spell as if it were paper.
The dining room became visible once more, with the human and the dwarf standing blinking in the sudden lantern-light, and between them a conical, stony mass with bunches of tentacles protruding from below. It was rapidly scuttling for the wall, and Caitlin jabbed at it with her rapier. The blade skated off the tough shell on top of the creature, and she yelled "Surround it!" at the dwarf Finbon. "Great - if we can catch it!" he grumbled, as his own axe bounced off the thing.
Behind Yoshin, the lizardman Thaerid hurled a javelin. The light spear struck lower, in the softer parts of the darkmantle, and dark unpleasant blood started to pulse around the wound. Gathering a spell, the sorcerer Yoshin cast a Ray of Frost.
It struck the darkmantle just level with the eyes and its' noxious flesh froze with a crackle. The tentacles went limp, and it died.
Thaerid bent to the portcullis and gripped it with one hand, lifting easily, and the gate slid open. Caitlin and Finbon looked at each other rather enviously. Then the lizardman spotted the dwarf. Fury contorted his features.
"What's that little rat doing here?" he roared, pointing at Finbon. The dwarf paled a little, but rallied. "Why did you let that out?" he demanded of Yoshin, "it's a monster - it'll kill us all! And eat some of us," he added.
Thaerid snorted. "He betrayed me; left me for the orcs to capture while he tried to sneak out with my share of the gold!" Finbon shook his head. "It's all a trick to get us into its' cooking pot," he insisted. Caitlin faced him. "Is this true? I'll knock your pay down to 70 if you don't tell me!" Finbon bridled and Caitlin remembered - too late - that the best way to enrage a dwarf is to go back on a deal, to withhold promised payment. "You trust that over me?" demanded Finbon in fury. Yoshin stepped in with an attempt to smooth things over, but it was to no avail. "I'm off," stated Finbon, hastily gathering the fifty gold that Caitlin had dropped. Thaerid snarled. "Not with my share!" he snapped. "This lawn ornament will put a knife into your back if you let him get away."
Caitlin tried to retain her hireling, but Finbon stacked the fifty gold with enormous offended dignity and placed them on the floor between them. "I don't feel safe with that monster walking around loose," he said, "here's your money back." He stood, backed away to the door, slipped through it, and was gone.
Session Date: 24th Feb 2013