2. The night passed uneventfully, the two horses and Krizzen's strange lizard tethered in a corner, appearing pleased to be out of the rain and the dead slitheren ejected from the outer door. The companions took turns to rest and guard.
Next morning, the storm continued unabated, and the three of them resolved to explore a little more. Krizzen glanced around at the doors leading out of the entrance hall. "Anyone know how to pick locks?" he asked. Yoshin looked at the beautifully made thieves' tools he'd taken from one of their ratty foes, but had to admit he was unable to use them properly.
Selecting the eastern door purely on the grounds that this was the one the ratmen had been trying to batter down. Where it had taken two of them with a ram to fail, Krizzen smashed the door open in one heave of his armoured shoulder. A corridor was revealed, with the hint of a room at the far end.
"You're best at spotting traps," said Caitlin to Yoshin, "you go first." The sorcerer looked dubious, but cast a Mage Armour before heading carefully down the passage. Krizzen followed close behind, greataxe hefted and ready. "I've got your back," he said reassuringly. Yoshin twitched. "It's my front I'm worried about," he said nervously. He made it three-quarters of the way down the passage before his nerve broke, and he sprinted the rest of the way, hurling himself to the left as he passed under the arch into the room.
6. Krizzen and Caitlin exchanged looks, then hurried after him, finding him working his way up the left-hand side of the room, prodding the stone floor with his staff. The room appeared to be empty save for dust, a single, small, stone chest in the center of the floor, and two rather crumbled statues of lizardmen flanking it against the back wall. Evidently no one had disturbed this chamber for many years.
Caitlin's eyes lit up at the sight of a chest, but none of them trusted it enough to simply open it. A detailed search of the statues produced - to no-one's surprise - a row of one-inch holes across the chest of the right-hand one. Caitlin also discovered some extra levers attached to the hinges of the chest's lid. Convinced this combination would disgorge darts when the lid was opened, Yoshin returned to the entry hall and levered the door Krizzen had just broken open off its' hinges with his staff. The lizardman joined him, and together they hauled it down and propped it against the statue. That done, Krizzen felt safe enough to try and open the chest. Suggesting the other two wait safely out in the hall, he reached around from behind the chest to try and lift the lid facing away from him. It rose a fraction, then slipped from his grip, coming down with a loud boom!
"What happened?" called Caitlin anxiously, fearing a trap. "I'm all right," called back Krizzen, a little embarrassed. Changing tactics, he went to the side of the chest and levered it open from there. The lid creaked back, and a swift, violent succession of thunk sounds reverberated from the door leaning against the statue. With understandable smugness the three peered into the chest.
At first glance it was a little disappointing; a simple leather headband studded with iron rivets. On reflection, they realized that this must be an enchanted item, as anything made of leather should long since have corroded away by now. Yoshin lifted it cautiously out of the chest with his staff and nothing horrible happened, so he tucked it away. He hadn't yet mastered the Identify spell, so had no means of finding out what it did. They re-crossed the entry hall to the far room to the west.
7. Caitlin insisted on listening to this door, but it had nothing to say, so Krizzen smashed it in and they repeated the cautious approach down the corridor to a similar room at the far end. The only object in this chamber appeared to be a statue of a lizardman at the far end. It resembled a sarcophagus standing upright, except that the head of the figure carved upon its lid looked distorted and seems to have tendrils instead of hair and a pair of batlike wings extending from its temples.
"'Ware the statues!" hissed Yoshin nervously. The others looked at him for a moment, then Caitlin shrugged and stepped into the room, planning to examine the statue with great care. As soon as she did so, its eyes snapped open, revealing the glow of green flames. It emitted a terrifying shriek and the head seperated from the body, flying forward to attack!
The mind-splitting scream it emitted reached into the companions and touched something primal, provoking a wave of fear to rise chokingly up. Yoshin and Caitlin threw it off almost instantly, but Krizzen was paralyzed by terror as the flying head soared towards them. Fortunately for the lizardman, it chose Caitlin - perhaps because she was furthest forward - and dived at her, fanged mouth agape for a bite.
Dropping her rapier, she shrugged her bow off her shoulder, nocked and loosed in one well-practiced move. Her haste betrayed her, however, and the arrow missed. Behind her, Yoshin lifted his hands and cast a Magic Missile, zapping the thing as it swooped nearer and blowing off a fang or two. Despite this, it sank a slashing bite into Caitlin before zooming up and around for another attack. She shot a second arrow, but the head was too small and too fast and she missed it again. Yoshin's second Magic Missile struck home a moment before it bit Caitlin again, much to the Tellaran's frustration. She was considering dropping the bow and unsheathing the longsword on her back when Krizzen suddenly shook his head and pulled out of his fear. Hefting his massive axe, the lizardman swung just as the flying head came hurtling past on its' way to finish Caitlin off, and chopped the monster neatly in half. Blood, brains, tentacles and slime splattered in all directions.
Once they'd recovered their breath and Caitlin had picked up her rapier, Yoshin began to investigate the sarcophagus, rapping through the hole where the statue's face should have been with his staff. No more flying monstrosities emerged, and Krizzen spread his massive hands around the lid, his claws gripping the edges. With a jerk the lid separated and crashed to the stone floor.
A large quantity of dust mixed with fragments of dry bones followed it, very likely the remains of the coffin's original occupant. At the bottom was a small washleather drawstring bag, and Krizzen picked this up. It was a toss-up whether he got it open before it disintegrated, but into his scaled palm tumbled a stream of gold coins, a couple of dusty spheres the size of a bird's eyeball, and a gleaming ring.
The spheres, on cleaning, turned out to be pretty decent pearls. The ring Caitlin slipped onto a a finger, braced to see what effect - if any - it had on her, but nothing happened. It was a comfortable fit, so she left it in place.
Encouraged by this, Yoshin unpacked the headband and daringly slipped it onto his head. Again, nothing perceptible happened, although he found his courage and determination felt bolstered and improved. He said as much. Krizzen tipped a glance at Caitlin. "If it makes him braver, that's not a bad thing," he said dryly.
The final door out of the entrance hall led into a longer passage, receding way beyond the range of their light. After Krizzen had battered it to splinters, the three advanced very carefully down the passage until they could see into the room at the far end.
They saw a stone chamber furnished only with cracked, moldering tables on which lay rusted implements of iron. Rain was falling into the middle of the room from a shaft in the ceiling that very likely ran all the way to the top of the tor. From the bottom of the shaft dangled a rope, swinging slightly. A drain in the center of the floor allowed the water to escape, but old, dark stains suggested that it was used to carry away other fluids, long ago.
Suddenly, from a doorway on the far side of the room stepped three humanoids. Each stood more than 6 feet tall and has had bestial facial features and tough, hairy skin; Caitlin recognized hobgoblins from tales she'd heard. With a roar, the three drew their weapons; two with swords while one siezed a handful of javelins.
Caitlin's heritage took over for a moment. "This needn't come to blows," she said soothingly, "we'll give you gold if you let us past!" Sadly, her understanding of goblinoid psychology wasn't good enough to realize that the inevitable result of this would be the creatures drawing a line in their brains between they have a lot of gold and if we kill them we get what they have and reacting predictably. All three accelerated towards the adventurers and lifted their weapons.
As the two parties closed across the room, the hobgoblin with the javelins lifted his first spear and threw at Krizzen. Halfway to the lizardman the spear suddenly accelerated to twice its' speed and lit up with a brilliant electric blue flare. A deafening crack of discharged electricty made everyone's ears ring. Fortunately, it missed Krizzen and blasted a significant crater in the wall behind him.
Caitlin and Krizzen fanned out left and right, engaging one hobgoblin each, and unfortunately this left a wide channel in the middle between the javelin hobgoblin and Yoshin, still lurking in the entrance to the room. The elf sheathed his rapier and hurriedly unslung his bow, nocking an arrow while keeping a wary eye on the spearman. The hobgoblin threw, missing his mark, and Yoshin's arrow was no better aimed. Feeling distinctly vulnerable, the elf moved down the near wall of the room to put the fight between Krizzen and his opponent between himself and the missiles.
|DM Note: First combat round, everybody missed. Must have been a bit dazed by the lightning!|
The hobgoblins, as well as being bigger, were far better armoured than the slitheren ratmen, and Caitlin and Krizzen's initial strikes glanced from their armour and shields. Krizzen's opponent had a short sword rather than the more usual scimitar, while Caitlin's had a small shield which looked far better than the normal slightly grubby hobgoblin equipment.
Rather daringly, Yoshin loosed an arrow at the hobgoblin Krizzen was fighting, and it zipped past the lizardman by a couple of inches, distracting him enough to spoil his next attack. He realized that his average skill with a bow wasn't going to get him far with these targets, and reverted to his magic instead. A Sleep spell targeted neatly between the javelin hobgoblin and the one fighting Krizzen reaped benefits, as Krizzen's foe toppled over and lay snoring on the stone floor. A smug grin froze on his face as the javelin hobgoblin moved down the room parallel with him to a position where he once more had a clear shot at Yoshin. The monster's return smug expression vanished in turn as Krizzen spun from his magically downed foe and bore down on him, huge axe raised. The hobgoblin ducked desperately, the light javelin in his hands seeming like a poor thing by comparison as the axe whistled just over his head.
On the other side of the room Caitlin, after much frustrated fencing, got under her opponent's guard and drove her rapier deep into his shoulder. The burly humanoid shouted loudly and then began cursing in pain, and Caitlin nearly dropped her rapier in surprise. He was cursing in his own language and she could understand him quite easily. She glanced at her hand where the ring bulged under her fine kidskin glove. So that's what it does! she thought, impressed. A Magic Missile from Yoshin made the hobgoblin stumble and blink, and she drove the rapier into its' eye, killing it.
The javelin hobgoblin stabbed with his spear, delivering a wound to Krizzen that seemed only to infuriate the giant reptilian. With a roar, he swung the axe again, and practically bisected his opponent, ending the fight. The sleeping hobgoblin was easily despatched with another blow from the greataxe.
Caitlin unpouched a healing potion and swigged it down, easing her wounds slightly. Then all three searched their late opponents, turning up (apart from mundane armour and weapons, and a little money) a better-than-average short sword, a similar light shield and the remarkable lightning javelin, lying completely undamaged below the wall it had struck. Krizzen took the javelin and the shortsword; Caitlin the shield. As she did so, she tried an experiment. "I have just taken a rather nice shield," she declared, and her friends stared at her in surprise. She had spoken in perfectly fluent Hobgoblin. I wonder if I can speak Orcish? she thought. She tried a few words she remembered from an earlier encounter with some orcs, but to no avail; this language she did not know. "Maybe you need to hear it while wearing the ring?" asked Krizzen. Yoshin nodded. "Looks like it," he said.
Session Date: 9th March 2013