WORK IN PROGRESS…
Head north and find the door free of traps and noise. Grum pushes the warped wooden door in and reveals a hallway. Grum leads them east to a door and Thom hears the sound of mecha-zombies clanking behind the door.
“I think we have more undead contraptions!”
“Should we fight them?”
“I think so.”
Grum finds a trap on the door and locked. Grum tries and succeeds in disarming a trap, set to trigger something unseen and unfamiliar to him. Grum works to unlock the dual tumblr lock but misses and breaks his pick.
“I can unlock the door, “ Lyssa to Thom.
Trisoll blesses the party as Lyssa casts a Knock spell on the door. The spell takes and the lock is undone; the door creaks open.
Grum sneaks a glance and sees six mecha-zombies protecting a silver coffer. Grum informs them and Thom sneaks into the room to begin drumming. Grum wants to lead with a backstab but Lyssa offers a more offensive move. Lyssa throws the door open and shoots a fireball into the crowd, which explodes and breaks up their congress. Grum lands one back stab on a mecha-zombie with a longsword and slays it with a second gouging stab.
They lumber towards the door and Vetnik is first after Grum to greet them. He slays a burning one, and Moira strikes a second with Starstrike. Grum continues to stab at the undead. Thom quickly whips out his drums and drums for +1 to hit. Gelfradur steps up with an axe but misses. Trisoll whacks one zombie with his shillelagh and bashes the skull of the mecha-zombie in, all in the name of Trithereon, with ferocious strength. Even he is surprised by the savagery of the attack, but sees the mecha-zombie is still twitching on the ground. One zombie swipes at Moira but misses. A second attacks Vetnik and misses as well. A third attacks the scale-mailed Gelfradur with two clubbing fists. Gelfradur staggers, his already injured body barely hanging on as coughs up blood! Lyssa goes to stab Moira’s attacker but misses.
Trisoll, boosted by Trithereon’s strength and feeling renewed post-resurrection, hits an injured mecha-zombie and brings it down. The last two mecha-zombies fight the party to the end. The first attacks Vetnik and pummel him with two blows. The second mecha-zombie lunges at Gelfradur, grabbing his right hand and shattering the bones within with his gear-powered grip. He falls to the ground, cradling his arm and shivering from shock. Vetnik cuts into his attacker twice and fells it. Moira swings at the last remaining zombie but he proves too nimble at first, but she sticks him in the neck and cuts it down. The throat squirts out black fluid and all are fallen.
Grum checks the silver coffer and finds it trapped and locked. Grum isn’t adept enough with the trap and he triggers it. A Cone of Cold blasts from the chest and sends out a wave of freezing energy, leaving the floor covered in frost and spikes of ice. Lyssa, Vetnik, Moira, Trisoll, and Grum are all hit while Thom and Gelfradur prove agile enough to dodge it. Lyssa’s Brooch of Shielding absorbs half of the damage, but Trisoll struggles to fight off the cold. He gathers those caught in the spell’s blast around him and casts healing prayers upon himself, Gelfradur and Grum, bringing them both back from the brink.
“Bar…bar the door, I’ll… I’ll learn more s…spells!” Trisoll urges. Vetnik drapes his chilled friend in his cloak. He spends thirty minutes thawing out and meditating on more healing spells, which he bestows upon himself before paying special attention to Gelfradur and later Moira. Grum drinks of his potion of healing and revives himself.
Grum goes back to the chest while everyone rests and cracks the chest open. It’s full of eight large tomes. Thom picks a book up at random and finds a ‘Manual of Stealthy Pilfering’. Lyssa is curious and inspects the chest as well but sees only embossed leather covers, each of a different shade and different pattern etched into them (though uniform in size.) Beyond that, she is unable to discern their nature or origin. Thom doesn’t discover the identity of the second book but the third book is a ‘Book of Exalted Deeds’. He misses the 4/5/6 but finds the 7th to be a ‘Manual of Righteous Warfare’. He discovers the last book to be a ‘Manual of Natural Tactics’. He casts identify over the 2nd book and uncovers it as a ‘Manual of Puissant Arms’. Thom waits 30 minutes and casts Identify over the remaining books: ‘Labrum of Gainful Cojuration’, a ‘Book of Leaves’, and a ‘Manual of Chivalrous Intent’.
“I still would’ve preferred gold.” Grum
“Don’t worry, we can still sell them.” Thom says as he places them safely into his deep pockets. “Knuckle draggers, you wanna carry this coffer?”
“I’m not here for wealth!” Moira
Vetnik steps in and crams the coffer into his bag of holding. “Done!”
They wait for Thom to relearn more effective spells before unbarring the door and continuing onwards. As Grum moves through the hall, he detects a secret door leading back into the demon statue room. He passes on it and continues to another door. Thom hears a strange, droning sound humming behind the door. Grum finds the door unlocked but trapped, and disarms with skill. He follows the trap leading to a jet above them. Thom peers through the keyhole and sees a comely humanoid female with wings and sharply-pointed eyebrows. She, an Alu-Fiend, locks her black eyes with Thom (despite his invisiblility!) He breaks his invisibility shield and jabs Trisoll in his gut with his wakashazi blade. Trisoll wretches in pain and recoils from his companion while the others surround the enchanted bard.
Vetnik reaches out to grapple him by the shoulders but misses. Moira tries to tackle him to the ground but he proves too nimble. Trisoll focuses on Thom and attempts to counter-charm but the demoness’ charm proves too strong. Lyssa, still charmed by Thom, steps between he and the knights.
“Lyssa, stand aside, he is bewitched!” Trisoll cries out.
Gelfradur looks to the Vetnik as to what to do.
“He’s not in his right mind!” Vetnik cries out to the dwarf.
Gelfradur rushes into Thom’s legs, tackling him to the ground and grapples him successfully. Grum sees his brother afflicted and pins him down, doing his best to shake him out of the charm. Thom struggles at first but is overcome with rage-filled strength amplified by the demon’s charm.
Lyssa kicks at Gelfradur but he continues to seize Thom up in his grappling hold. Trisoll struggles to tap into Thom’s mind and fails once more, and feels himself being pushed out by a demonic presence. Vetnik stands back while Moira pleads with Lyssa to help in taking Thom’s mind back. Gelfradur keeps Thom pinned down and tightens his hold on him. Suddenly, the door swings open and in the doorway stands the winged creature. Grum continues to plead and finally Thom frees himself of the Alu-Fiend’s charm. Gelfradur relaxes his hold and together they stand just as the winged fiend emerges from the chamber.
She points at Grum and commands him to drop his weapon and he immediately does so. Gelfradur leaps up calling out to a Dwarven god of the North and swings at the devil but misses. Vetnik draws his sword and rushes the blade into her, cutting her left arm from her body. The Alu-Field hisses in excruciating pain and shock as her black blood gushes from the hole. Thom comes to his senses and closes his eye to summon a monster. From down the hall, three of the Dretch appear and enter the fray to begin attacking the Alu-Field. Trisoll watches and blesses the party while Moira calls out to Cortox, inspired by Vetnik, but misses. Grum comes to his feet and instead of fetching his blade, he draws his bow and releases a pair of bolts, but both bounce off her flesh. Lyssa fires off a minute meteor and as the bolt explodes against the Alu-Fiend, Lyssa charges the winged beast with her Red Athis Dagger. When the blade pierces the demon’s flesh, she howls as her form dissipates and is immediately torn away from the current plane of existence.
In the Alu-Fiend’s throne room, an orb glowing with black violet energy resting on an ornate velvet pillow. Lyssa panics and runs out of the room, feeling her connection to magical energies being stifled.
“This must be the orb! If Lyssa’s running in terror, it must be affecting her in some way," Moira exclaims before running to catch up with Moira. "Vetnik, grab the orb!”
“Is that the orb?” Moira asks Lyssa, who’s slumped against the hall
“Yes. Yes it has to be!”
“I realize you feel helpless. I understand why you’re scared, but I’m here to make sure you get back safely.”
“I can feel it spreading, like it’s coming closer! How can you say you’ll protect me?”
Vetnik scoops up the orb into a rough sack while Thom inspects the pillow and the rest of the room. He finds the relic of another unfortunate adventurer: a ring! He inspects it and finds it to be a Ring of Warmth.
“I’m going to go back and tell them we’re going ahead. Wait here!” Moira says before handing her Starstrike. "Hold onto this!”
Moira tells the others they’re traveling ahead so they can stay away from the influence of the orb. Grum agrees to go with them and the trio make their way back out of the castle.
“Wanna clean this place out?” Thom asks the party.
“What’s most important has been accomplished. Let’s go.” Moira lays hands on Trisoll and heals his stomach wound before going back to Lyssa.
Vetnik, Trisoll, and Thom keep them in their view but far enough away to keep the orb from Lyssa. Thom, in the meantime, also feels his magical abilities waning but is less anxious about it (considering them to be secondary skills to his skills as a blade!) As they leave, Lyssa feels Thom’s charm spell effects have all disappeared. Grum leads the ladies through the castle back up through the courtyard. Grum leads them up through the ruins and they return to an undisturbed campsite.
On the way back to Blackmoor, Grum spies a quartet of hunters. He and the ladies pass by them without encounter. By the time the others come up the rear, they’re gone. They soon find themselves back outside the gates of Blackmoor. The gates open and they pass the Hall of Halls and head towards The Fetch. As they approach, they see a man hassled by Dwarves guards. Dressed in a dark cloak and strange leather armor with forester’s breeches, he pleads with them in vain. Moira takes notice.
“Looks like trouble.”
“It’s none of our concern, let’s go!”
“He’s clearly in distress!” Moira walks over to the Dwarven guards.
“This man appeared from nowhere, we can’t communicate with him. We’re taking him away.”
“It’s not a crime that he cannot speak with you! I think you owe this man a fair.”
“Can you speak?"
Lyssa stomps off back towards tThe Fetch. Moira greets the others who enter into town after them, and pleads with Trisoll to facilitate communication between the mystery man and the guards. He asks Trithereon for the power to understand each other.
“What are you doing here? What is your business?!”
“I don’t know what I’m doing here!”
“This is supposed to be an acceptable answer, human?”
Vetnik walks up. “Gentlemen, perhaps we should give this gentleman a moment to get his barring?”
“This man is a thief!”
“What was the value of the food in question?”
“I’ll pay it.”
Vetnik hands him four silvers.
“This is a fine reparation, but it doesn’t change the nature of his crime.”
“He’s clearly hungry! He didn’t steal for gain!”
Vetnik signs off on the stranger with his full royal trial. “There is a matter of the fine.”
“You let them go and we’ll discuss it.”
The stranger reveals he came from a lifetime of living in the woods.
“From this region?” Thom asks
“Obviously this was a mix up.” Vetnik comments, remembering Lyssa’s own mix up.
“All men have the right to eat. No one should be punished for their hunger.” Moira says sympathetically.
“Want some cheese?” Thom offers.
“I am Knightearl Vetnik Talthraudii of Grandrud, son of Isrygrad Talthraudii, Archduke of Granrud!”
“I am Moira Steelshaper.”
“I am Thom Drum”
“Grum Giantslayer, hello!”
“Do you have shelter or coin?” Moira asks the stranger.
“We’ve just come from a great adventure, we have coin a plenty. I couldn’t sleep with myself knowing a man was out there suffering. Allow me to pay for a room for you.”
“No, I insist.”
“Vetnik, please! This is my only reason for keeping coin. Good sir, there’s a room at The Fetch. Come!”
“I was actually more interested in going back home.”
“Where is home?”
“Not sure where I am in relation.”
‘What’s the last thing you remember?” Grum asks.
“All I know is that this isn’t where I’m from. I woke up in an unfamiliar area and came here.”
“Why’d you leave it.”
“Sooner or later I had to find something to eat!”
“Are you a farmer or city person?”
“What kind of city? We’re happy to find where you came from?”
The stranger warms to Moira, who’s radiance is overwhelming. He reveals that he was able to sneak into the city past the war wheels.
“Friend, what is your name? We’ve given you ours?” Grum asks
“I… I’m not comfortable with sharing that just yet.”
“It’s ok. I don’t see any darkness in you.” Moira remarks.
“We can respect that.” the Black brothers agree.
Moira explains to the stranger about Lyssa. “Though ill-tempered, she has a good heart. Don’t take what she says to heart too much.”
They pass The Dark Below, a subterranean tavern. He sees a gnome ghetto buzzing, and the comprehend language spells grants him knowledge (though they speak so quickly he can barely understand them.)
Grum paces through the city and sees little commotion. Because the city is steam and mechanically powered, the town seems quiet. One stranger he passes sees his power phase out but as they pass, he rejoices with dancing lights as the orb passes by.
“Vetnik and I are going to go fetch a couple pints of ale and meet at the fountain.”
She presses gold coins into the stranger’s gloved hand before checking on Lyssa. “This should be more than enough to keep you safe for awhile.” He looks over them and realizes they are from an unfamiliar territory. Grum goes for a drink and before he can offer one to the stranger, he goes to the innkeeper to get a room. Thom practices his forms and does his sketching and research before retiring.
Moira visits Lyssa. “I just wanted to let you know Vetnik is going to stay elsewhere with the Eye until morning. You’re safe for the night. You’ve nothing to worry about."
Lyssa pleads with Moira to stay. She agrees and the two sit silently on Lyssa’s bed together until Lyssa finally crumbles and weeps in her friend’s lap, revealing to her that “she’s made a terrible mistake” and that she has to get home soon! She soon passes out in Moira’s lap and Moira dozes off shortly after.
In the morning, the stranger is the first to wake, having passed out in his small chair facing the door. The others awaken and together they plot how to return to Greyhawk in a timely fashion with the orb in tow. Trisoll proposes that they appeal to the grand druidess, Favilla Moonstone, to see if she can’t grant them passage by other means. Thom, being the most charismatic (second only to Moira) and least dogmatic of the group, offers to woo her with a poem celebrating the old faith. Lyssa pleads with Moira to suppress her need to preach the word of Cortox in favor of helping to win over Favilla with her natural, charming personality — all for the sake of returning home sooner.
Moira and Thom both successfully make their case to the druidess, who is both impressed by Thom’s lyricism and Moira’s natural charisma. She agrees to send them back to Greyhawk via a spell enabling her to create portals through her enchanted briar patch. So won over by Thom and Moira, she agrees to let all pass despite her personal disliking towards certain members of the party (Lyssa and Trisoll in particular.) The cloaked stranger decides to tag along, staying close to Moira — an unspoken show of appreciation for her earlier generosity.
Favilla opens the briar patch up to them and they each pass through. Both Thom and Lyssa feel their connectivity to the magic energies begin to thin with each second near Vetnik and the orb, which makes Lyssa especially anxious. They pass through the briar and step out of a patch of bushes a couple miles outside of Greyhawk.