Three figures drew rein, looking dismally up through the increasing rain at the grey smudge of a rocky tor about half a mile away. The distant foothills of the Engeror mountains, that had no business being where they were, had already vanished into the curtain of precipitation. Loud peals of thunder seemed to roll across the landscape. The afternoon sun had long vanished behind massive storm-clouds and a cold wind blew from the north. As bolts of lightning began to slam from cloud to ground and egg-sized pieces of hail begin to strike the earth, the need for shelter was obvious.
Of the three, the lizardman Krizzen, mounted on his squat green riding-lizard, was the least affected by the rain, his thick hide and nictitating membrane reducing the deluge to mere inconvenience. He did not relish being struck by lightning, though, and his metal armour and weapons would not be improved by prolonged wet.
To his left, the boisterous swordswoman-noble Caitlin pointed at the tor. "Is that a cave?" she called over the thunder. Tall and blonde, a classic product of a nation whose primary export was aggro, Caitlin was seldom discouraged by much, though even she was beginning to find the rain wearing. Her rain cloak, expensive though it was, was soaking through, and she was ready to find shelter for the night.
Slightly behind them, huddled miserably under his own cloak, the irascible and ancient elvish sorcerer Yoshin squinted unhappily at the sky. "I hope so," he muttered, "I hate rain." He'd never understood those of his compatriots who professed to love nature in all its' forms, even those plainly not meant for intelligent creatures to be out and about in.
A few weeks ago, all three joined the caravan of one Dagaren of Sulis, travelling from Lossal in Tarlanor to Nasirolan in Dalaghendor, for a variety of their own reasons, hired on as a mixture of scouts, outriders and guards. Things went quite well for a while, but one day, the three of them returned from a scouting patrol and discovered the caravan was inexplicably gone.
Over the next few days they also discovered that the caravan master was not the navigator he had claimed to be. They were much further north than they should have been, well into the foothills of the Engeror Mountains. To add the final piece of misery to the picture, the weather was deteriorating rapidly.
Now, lured by the prospect of getting warm and dry and out of the storm, the three dismounted and led their mounts up the slope towards the opening in the side of the tor. Part way up the slope, they discovered a boulder thirty feet across lying in a trail of gravel, half weathered by centuries of exposure, half a different colour, as if it had only recently been exposed to the elements. On the top surface was a discoloured burn mark, similar to others they'd seen as the storm built, sign of a relatively recent lightning strike.
The opening itself was larger than it had appeared, and was definitely not a natural cave. An archway of dressed stones curved ten feet above their heads, framing an opening twenty feet wide with heavy stone doors set a few feet back from the arch. Krizzen looked up at the keystone, where the word "Hightower" was carved in the written form of the Krultac language. Yoshin shrugged; "For what use that is!" he snorted. "You folk can go first," he continued, "I don't trust the looks of this place."
Used to their comrade's quirks, the two warriors stepped in under the arch and examined the door. Yoshin gifted them with a casting of Mage Armour each as they went by, then added one to himself. "Good luck, you fellows," he said as they went.
Once out of the rain, the two warriors noticed that the drier gravel and dirt adjacent to the doors bore new-looking tracks, those of small humanoids with odd paw-like prints. Yoshin only needed a glance to recognize these as the prints of slitheren ratmen.
Although the doors looked massive and heavy, they shifted easily to a shove and opened. Looking through, the three adventurers could see a stone chamber at least ten paces square. Peeling paint and broken scrollwork suggested that it was once decorated with some care, but now only dust remained. Three massive stone doors—one each to the left and right, and one directly across from the entrance—led deeper into the tor. A group of five furry humanoids occupied the room. One was busily engaged in trying to unlock the centre door; two had a makeshift battering-ram and were preparing to ram down the right-hand door, and two were standing about watching. One of those last turned as the door opened, looking straight at Krizzen and Caitlin as they peered inside. Caitlin opened her mouth, as ever hoping far beyond her abilities to negotiate, but the ratman who'd spotted them gave a chittering cry in his own language, and all his compatriots spun towards the door, pulling weapons as they did so.
Yoshin, glancing between his companions from behind, noticed that the ratman at the door directly opposite him had grabbed a sheaf of javelins from his back and was preparing to throw one. Casting quickly, he sent a Ray of Frost to draw an icy white line between him and the spear thrower. A squeal of pain was his reward as a chunk of the siltheren's flesh crystallized into ice. Krizzen eyed the rodent closing on him and hefted the longsword he'd been carrying when they entered the room. As it closed, he lashed out, cutting a wound into its' body. A javelin whistled past him as the lockpicking ratman returned Yoshin's distance attack. The sorcerer ducked as the slim spear went overhead and out into the rain.
The four ratmen had now closed around the three companions, two engaging them directly and two hovering, obviously hoping to flank Caitlin and Krizzen if they moved forward into the room; the lockpicker was still hurling javelins into the fight, trying to take down the spellcaster. Yoshin responded by zapping him again; the spell wasn't all that powerful but it was chipping away at the strength of the wiry Curst.
Having spent a while fencing with her foe to get his measure, Caitlin lunged forward, driving her rapier through its' left arm. It moaned, and its' shield arm dropped, leaving its' left side open. The Tellaran siezed the opportunity and jabbed again, skewering the ratman through the body and dropping it to sprawl gasping on the flags as blood flooded its' lungs.
Having missed with another Ray of Frost, Yoshin turned to Magic Missile, and a dart of arcane fire blasted into the javelin-rat's shoulder, rocking him backwards but not disabling his throwing arm. The effect wasn't any better, and he returned to Ray of Frost. In front of him, Krizzen beat down the guard of his foe, battering him to his knees and stoving in his skull. As he dropped twitching, the lizardman spun to engage the enemy who had tried to flank him.
At his shoulder, Caitlin lashed her rapier's point across a ratty throat, slaying her second opponent. Looking around, she saw Krizzen's foe preparing to flee and the javelin-rat reaching for another dart. Dropping her rapier with a ringing clang on the stone floor, she shrugged her short bow off her shoulder, whipped an arrow onto the string, and drilled the ratman Yoshin had been trying to kill since the fight started between his beady eyes, nailing him to the door behind him.
The last slitheren broke from his fight with Krizzen, fleeing rather pointlessly towards the locked door to the left. The lizardman set off in pursuit, and Caitlin sent another arrow after it, winging it as it ran, before the lizardman caught up to it and hacked it down.
Session Date: 2nd March 2013