Kingmaker

Session 10

Just how many lives do Halflings have?

  • 9/16 (early morning)

    • After sneaking back into the top level penthouse of the Swordlord’s Sigh (A Gentleman’s club of some repute), the party found itself discussing the abrupt departure of Kodar and Destin with their newly acquired replacement: Belkar the gnome.
    • Belkar, it appeared, was a gnome of disconcerting tendencies. One of which was a penchant for stabbing the red-colored roaches that ran by with a dagger, and holding them over the fire with a gleeful smirk “Just to watch them burn.”
    • Before any of these behaviors could be fully explored, 2 A.M. arrived with Ms Setendre Morn’s arrival into the penthouse suite. She explained that there was a secret entrance outside the walls that went underneath Fort Drelev, but that the Baron was guarded by 3-4 Hill giants and at least 30 human guards. To make matters worse, reaching the town exit and finding the entrance itself would be a difficult task, as the streets were patrolled by more Hill Giants.
    • After thanking Ms Setendre for the help (and risk to herself), Stephanos led the party downstairs to the rear entrance, which opened out to an alley.
    • Belkar and Vandamar managed to sneak out and take cover across the street. However, Cadoc and Stephanos were discussing strategies as they crossed, and had reached a disagreement over the best way to reach the entrance. As Cadoc stopped and began to insult Stephanos’ mother for raising such an oafish and slow child, a loud voice rang out with a “Halt, Stewpid humans!”
    • Stephanos, ever the ready diplomat, turned to address the approaching hill giant, and explained that he and his beligerently drunk friend (who incidently was of poor lineage, raised in a whorehouse, and made a living cleaning the town latrine) were on their way back from a bar across town to the castle to see Baron Drelev himself. After some minutes explaining to the giant the function of a latrine (apparently, “latrine” in giant loosely translates to “side of your house”) and why such a thing needed to be periodically cleaned out, the giant stepped a few feet away from Cadoc, and shouted “I Take You To Baron! Go to Castle!”
    • Sensing imminent disaster should this invitation be accepted, Cadoc fell over in a seemingly drunken pile. Stephanos then apologized to the giant, explaning that perhaps the party should go to a nearby house instead (pointing to the alley where Belkar and Vandamar took up ambush positions) to rest, and head to the castle tomorrow. The giant insisted on providing an escort (“Stewpid Humans need Escort. Curfew in Effect!), and followed Stephanos (supporting Cadoc with an arm) down the alley.

      • Rounding a corner, the two took up positions on each side of the alley. When the giant turned into the corner, Vandamar caste “Haste” simultaneously with Cadoc’s casting of “Silence”. Stephanos rushed forward, and was able to hit the giant 3 bloody times in quick succession as Belkar came from behind and shanked the giant in the kidneys.
      • The party watched in amazement as the giant fell to ground shouting… in complete silence. Stephanos kneeled and dispatched the creature with a thrust to the head, and the corpse was hidden deep under some trash in the alley before the effects of the spell wore off.
    • With a disdainful glance to Cadoc and Stephanos for causing the delay, Vandamar raised his hands and Teleported the entire party just inside the treeline, outside of Fort Drelev’s walls.
    • Belkar went out to scout for the entrance to the secret passage, but didn’t get very far before guards patrolling the walls spotted him. The area surrounding him burst into light, and several arrows hit the illuminated ground around him. He ran back into the woods and the party tensed, expecting for the alarm to be raised.
    • Belkar explained that he had never really been that good at the whole sneaking part of being a rogue… Oddly, there was no reaction from the walls, so the party waited another half hour and sent him out again. This time, he successfully found a path that led straight to the entrance along the cliff.

      • The party made its way along the path in darkness, however Cadoc was having issues keeping his gear from making noise. About halfway along the path near the cliff, an alarm was raised on the Fort walls and the number of figures seen at the top tripled. Luckily, the line of sight from the cliff wall to the path wasn’t the best, so Cadoc was able to make it to the Cave entrance without being spotted.
    • With Belkar leading the way, the party entered the cave, which appeared to be a natural formation in the limestone the cliff was composed of. It was wet and stank of mold, and there were many signs that the whole cavern was frequently flooded. At the end of the cavern was a rusty Iron gate with a greasy looking pool of water right next to it.
    • As Belkar aproached the gate pulling his lockpicks out, the dark-colored water rose up and enveloped him!

      • To his left, another section of water rose up, and Vandamar shouted out that these were Black Puddings “Do NOT use your swords on these foul slimes”! Cadoc cast Holy Smite to the rear of the puddings, just missing Belkar (Whom Cadoc suspected was not of a good alignment at all).
      • With the shock of the smite, Belkar was able to break free and run back to the party, but the puddings followed! The one on the left continued to attack Belkar as Cadoc cast Searing Ray at it, while the one on the right began to attack Stephanos. Vandamar cast Quickened Displacement on the Holy Warrior and cast Invisibility on himself to avoid being touched by the foul slimes.
      • Stephanos gave the slime on the right two huge blows wth his morning star, causing it to dissipate back to a puddle of goo. Belkar attacked the slime on the left, but was dealt a shattering blow in return, knocking the gnome to his knees. Cadoc cast Touch of Good on the Paladin, allowing Stephanos to smite the remaining pudding with two more massive blows, sending sprays of disgusting jelly all over everyone.
    • “With those things guarding the gate, no wonder the cave is wide-open” remarked Vandamar, as Stephanos healed Belkar. Looking around, bits of undigested bones, clothes, and metal bits resembling pieces of weapons and armor were scattered all around this area of the cave, suggesting that the puddings had been used as a way to both guard the entrance to the passage and to deal with those individuals who had fallen in the Baron’s disfavor.
    • Examining the new holes present in his armor and counting himself lucky, Belkar worked on the rusty lock, and was able to open the Iron gate to the deeper parts of the passage. Just on the other side were a bunch of humanoid tracks, suggesting that someone often came down to check the gate. To one side of the passage was a shallow cave that looked to be used as a sort of storeroom. Rifling through the boxes, Belkar found a bunch of supplies, including a bag of Holding and 3 vials of a mysterious, black liquid.

      • Vandamar opened one, and identified them as Vials of Skunk Musk by the heavy odor that emerged.
      • A lever on the opposite side of the cave appeared to control the opening of the Iron gate the party just passed.
    • Moving forward, the passageway turned into a triangular dead end. In the dead end was an “L”-shaped table with tons of chests and treasure. Scanning around, Belkar discovered the backs of two secret doors. On the table, which was covered with precious gems in specially-shaped sockets, one of the chests contained enchanted armor and weapons, and the other contained a large cache of ancient artifacts, of what looked like barbarian origin. All discovered goodies made their way into the cavernous bag of holding except for the nice breastplate, which Cadoc donned instead.
    • Through on of the secret doors appeared to be a small, but extremely well-stocked wineroom, within which were many exquisite vintages from all over the known world. Pocketing a few choice bottles into his bag of holding, Stephanos muttered something about evil always have good taste.

      • At the end of the wineroom was a locked, solid iron door. Belkar unlocked it, and it opened to what appeared to be the Keep’s treasure vault. There were a lot of large spots where it looked like sections of treasure had gone missing. The party “liberated” the remainder of the available gold/gems for good measure, with the intent on returning it later.
    • Opening the other secret door showed the party a dungeon, which opened into the back of one of the holding cells. Unlocking the cell door, the room showed 5 cells in total, one of them occupied by a sleeping man.
    • When Belkar opened the lock to the cell, Stephanos strode forward and shook the man awake. “Duke Stephanos!” the man exclaimed, “I am Tyrian Numesti, we’ve actually never met, but I’ve seen you once from a distance.” After initial introductions, he expressed his relief that his daughter Cassandra was out of danger, but followed that with information that his other daughter, Tamori, was still held captive by the Tiger Lord Barbarians.
    • Stephanos assured the Knight that the party would indeed attempt a rescue. Numesti asked if we had encountered his gear outside this room (Cadoc shifted his coak over his newly-gained breastplate in an attempt to conceal it), and Stephanos said that all had been found except for the armor, but that the party could provide a replacement.

      • Newly armed and armored, Numesti planned to sneak out the back entrance and make his way to Setendre’s brothel.
    • Before he left, Stephanos questioned him about the whereabouts of Baron Drelev, as well as any other information about the fort and the guards. Numesti spat, and said that Drelev was a worthless tool who bent his knee to the Bandit King and the Barbarian Tribes in exchange for retaining his power. Pitax, the bandit King, is the real threat.
    • After Numesti left, Belkar opened one of the doors in the dungeon, and revealed a surprisingly nice privy. Behind the other door was a set of stairs that presumably led to the rest of the tower. The stairs ended in yet another door, and behind it was a pair of sleeping guards in a foyer-like room. Belkar crept in and silently coup-de-grace’d both with a disturbingly gleeful smile on his face.
    • Stephanos pulled out the arcane lock, and barred the door to the dungeon, eliminating any opportunity for the party to be attacked at the rear, and to keep everyone currently in the tower in with the party…
    • Looking around this first level of the tower, it contained a kitchen, a pantry, a storeroom, a cloakroom, a washroom, and another room that contained a spiral staircase going up. Looking at the cloakroom, Belkar noticed a hidden trapdoor in the ceiling that should allow access to the next floor up.

      • Setting up a ladder found nearby, Belkar ran up and discovered a small room very much like the cloakroom just exited. It appeared that this was a secret way up to the top of the tower. Upon conferring with the party, it was agreed to use this method of reaching the top instead of the spiral staircase.
      • With each story, the rooms shrank in size, until at the 4th floor, there was only room for one person. Listening at each of the secret door entrances to the room, Belkar heard giggling from behind one of them. After he descended the ladder to share the news, Stephanos climbed up, followed by Cadoc, Vandamar, and Belkar.
    • As Stephanos readied himself to open the door, his armored feet struck the wall, creating a clang and causing shouts of alarm from the bedchamber. Abandoning all finesse and grace, Stephanos stumbed into the room, nearly falling over his sword as he did. To the two completely naked humans laying on the sprawling bed, he said “Baron Drelev, you are my prisoner!”

      • The man pulled himself up, screamed “Don’t kill me!” and tried in vain to cover himself with a pillow. The woman, who made no attempt to cover her voluptuous curves, sneered at cowering baron and stood up from the bed. “You a thief?” the Baron screamed, “Don’t hurt me, I have a treasure room!” Stephanos acknowledged that the Baron did indeed * have * a treasure, flipping one of the gems liberated from that very room in the baron’s lap.
      • As the rest of the party emerged from the secret ladder-way, Stephanos declared (in a smug, self-satisfied tone) that the baron was under arrest for his heinous crimes. After listening to three and a half minutes of Stephanos listing the various offenses attributed to the vile Baron, the still-naked female cleared her throat and introduced herself as one “Lady Quintessa Moray, of Daggermark in the Riverlands.”
      • As she began clothing herself (Belkar and Vandamar first removing all magical items from her clothing pile) and as the Baron began pleading anew for his life, Stephanos recalled that the country of Daggermark was renowned for the ruthless and highly skilled assassins that made up its populace.
      • Glaring at the still-whimpering Baron, she mentioned that she had been working for the baron, but as the baron was now disposed, her services were now at Duke Stephanos’ disposal. She mentioned that the baron’s wife was in her quarters, and that the resident wizard was the brother of that wife.
    • Ignoring the naked baron’s pleas for mercy and alliances, Stephanos manacled him to a wall sconce. Turning to Lady Moray, he asked that her first act of service would be to watch the baron and ensure that he not escape. After Vandamar secured the baron with “Rope Trick”, the party stealthily moved outside the Baron’s bedchamber towards the wife’s room.

      • Belkar moved in to silence the lady before she could wake and sound an alarm. As he crossed the threshold however, a loud ad annoying “Yip Yip!” rang through the air! “Jewels! My Jewels! Whatever is the matter Jewelsy?” “Guards! Guards!” screeched the now very-much-awake woman in the bed.
      • Stephanos ran past the bewildered gnome, placed a hand on the lady’s throat, managed to threaten her to silence, and got her to quiet the dog. In a low voice, she introduced herself as Baronness Carvanis Strun Drelev. After instructing her to dress herself and rest in her room, the party retreated and used the secret ladder-way to go down one level to deal with her brother.
    • With Cadoc dispelling an arcane security spell and Belkar picking the lock, the party entered a room that seemed to contain one soundly sleeping, very evil man. With his blade at the man’s throat, Stephanos shook the man’s shoulder and apologized to the wizard for the rude awakening, the words almost catching in his throat as he fought with himself to not smite the evil from the face of the earth.

      • The man, who introduced himself as Amechys Strun, was indeed a clearly evil man, but with more restraint than the usual evil beings the party encountered. After given assurances that his sister was unharmed and that the weakling baron would stand trial, the wizard agreed to not attack if Stephanos spared his life.
      • Apparently, the wizard has been attempting to take his sister away from the baron for quite some time. Allowing the wizard to rise and don some robes (non-magical of course), Amechys explained that the hill giants were from Pitax, the Bandit King, that the guards would not resist should Stephanos want to kill the Baron outright, and that the Barbarians were the real threat. In addition, he explained that the Lady Moray was a gold digger and only useful as a hostage.
      • He asked what plans the party had, and Stephanos explained that he or his sister would not be harmed, but that the current administration could not be allowed to continue. Amechys asked if he and his sister would be allowed to go home to Cheliax, but accepted the offer Stephanos gave him (a tower to himself and his sister in exchange for assistance routing Pitax).
      • As the party escorted the wizard upstairs, and explained to the just-arrived guards the situation (“Yeah sure, feel free to off the jerk” one of them said), the wizard walked towards his sister’s door, and began casting a spell.
      • Before anyone could react, he had teleported into his sister’s room, and then teleported away to an unknown location. While Stephanos nearly burst an artery swearing about his loss of hostages, Belkar and Vandamar went back and looted the wizard’s chambers. Obviously a confrontation with the evil wizard would be in the party’s future.
    • As the party examined the rest of the tower’s floors, it was noticed that the rest of the guards had conspicuously fled the premises, along with the rest of the Hill Giants. Finding no resistance, Stephanos turned to address the growing crowd of townspeople and announced that the times had changed and that Fort Drelev was under new management.
    • The party made camp in the Fort and slept until dawn.

  • 9/16

    • This day spent drawing up plans for the re-organization of Fort Drelev and the shabby surrounding town.
    • A memo was sent to General Akaros asking that some soldiers be sent to Fort Drelev to reinforce the position.

  • 9/17 –9/18

    • These days spent waiting for the soldiers.

  • 9/19

    • Tyrion Numesti was appointed Castellan to run Fort Drelev for the time being. General Akaros arrived mid-morning with a troop of soldiers. Judging the keep sufficiently secure for the time being, the party geared up and left to explore the surrounding area.

  • 9/20 – 9/22

    • These days spent exploring surrounding areas.

  • 9/23

    • Travelling through one of the areas surrounding Fort Drelev, Belkar noticed some tracks, and mentioned that a large cat was living nearby. Following the footprints, a path was encountered running between two hills leading to a small, dark hole in one of them.

      From seemingly nowhere, a huge dire tiger with 2-foot long fangs jumped out and pounced on Stephanos!

      • Acting quickly, Vandamar raised his hands and cast Displacement on the paladin, as Cadoc followed suit with a Cure Serious Wounds. With the tiger distracted in its activity of mauling Stephanos’ head, Belkar ran behind it and began to flank attack as Stephanos got an arm free and drew his sword.
      • Vandamar cast Dimension Door on Stephanos to remove him from the tigers grapple, cast Quickened Touch of Gracelessness on the Tiger, and then teleported a few feet away to escape the tiger’s swipes. Cadoc cast Doom on the tiger as Stephanos turned and also began to attack, giving Belkar flanking position.
      • Sensing that the paladin was no longer an easy target, the tiger turned to Cadoc as the cleric was casting Divine Power on himself, charged, and grappled him! Belkar ran forward chopping away rather futilely. Cadoc managed to hold the tiger off just long enough for Stephanos to run forward and gut the tiger from the side.
    • Cadoc channeled energy several times as the party brooded on what could have been a much different outcome. Exploring the cave nearby, many dead guards were found with broken masterwork weapons. Also found was the corpse of a thief who, according to a letter found on his person, had been hired to kill “Spear Tooth”.
    • The party decided to camp at the Tiger lair that night.

  • 9/24 – 9/25

    • These days spent exploring more areas around Fort Drelev.

  • 9/26

    • This day found the party heading into a swampy area by the shore of Lake Hooktongue, and several bodies were noticed in the bog with eyes and fingers mysteriously gnawed off.
    • Suddenly, the party heard voice crying for help from deeper in the bog. As the party moved forward, the origin of the voice began to move, seeming to draw nearer. Without warning, a strange creature (identified later by Vandamar as an Ahuizotl), still voicing cries for help from a misshapen and fang-filled mouth ran forward out of the swamp! The dog-like creature then latched on to Vandamar with the hand attached to its tail and began to bite at whatever it could reach.

      • Looking down at the creature in disgust, Vandamar cast Magic Missile as the rest of the party ran forward to attack. Luckily, the beast wasn’t too hard to take down for the seasoned party, which was more that could be said for the masses of dead bodies found afterwards, all with their eyes and fingers missing.
    • The rest of the surrounding area was explored without incident.

  • 9/27

    • An area just outside the swamp was fully explored.

  • 9/28

    • This day, while checking out a hilly area, a small cave was spotted quite handily due to the lack of vegetation surrounding it and large scratches adorning the nearby rocks.
    • Stepping into the cave, Belkar announced that large red scales were scattered all throughout. Taking a look, Vandamar was able to discern that they possibly could have come from a chimera. The party agreed that a trap should be set up to eliminate this dangerous beast.
    • Setting up an ambush, the party waited an hour, and was rewarded when 3 chimera touched down just outside the cave.

      • Thrusting an arm in front of the bush he was hiding behind, Vandamar cast “Icy Prison” on two of them, freezing them solid. Belkar rushed around a rock, and dealt 4 backstabs in quick succession to one, creating a pile of oddly-shaped ice-cubes. Stephanos declared a Smite on the one unfrozen Chimera, and charged it.
      • Cadoc cast “Searing Light” on the same one, just as the other Chimera broke free. Simultaneously, both of the remaining Chimera’s rose into the air, but Stephanos was able to thrust his sword into the one in front of him, and let the beast’s upward momentum complete the evisceration. Seeing its partner fall, the remaining Chimera blasted a Cone of Flame at Stephanos, but did little damage.
      • Vandamar got an idea. He teleported closer to the rising Chimera, quick-drew an arrow, and cast Shocking Grasp on it. However, before he could fire, Stephanos aimed with his long-bow and brought creature down. Out of frustration, Vandamar fired his super-arrow at Stephanos, and scowled when it pinged off of his chest-piece.
    • Inside the cave were found 3 dead Boggards, one of which was a sorcerer that had a surprising amount of decent gear. The party camped in the shelter of the cave that night.

  • 9/29

    • This day, the party explored further westward. A hilly area was encountered that had strange holes all over the ground. As Stephanos approached one for inspection, two furry creatures with too many legs (“Auromvoraxes” shouted Vandamar!) hauled themselves out of the nearest holes and attacked!

      • As they were joined by several more appearing a few feet away, Vandamar cast Ice Fireball to catch two of them in the blast. Cadoc cast Prayer to give the party an edge in battle, but apparently did not put quite as much sincerity in his casting as he should have, as the party all missed their next swings. Fortunately, magic does not rely on physical strength, and Vandamar brought down several with another Ice Fireball and a casting of Magic Missile.
      • Even with this amazing display of magical might, the remaining creatures surrounded Stephanos, flew into rages, and began to swiftly bite and claw the outnumbered Paladin. One latched onto his hand and caused Belkar to laugh (and miss his next attack as a consequence) as Stephanos tried in vain to shake it off. Vandamar pointed and cast Lightning Bolt at the attached creature, blowing a neat hole through its skull and giving the Paladin a brief respite.
      • Cadoc stepped forward and cast Cure Critical Wounds in an effort to staunch the gushing blood flow as Stepanos turned and sliced the head off of another. The last one lunged forward and managed to tear a huge gash through the weak spot in Stephanos’ armor, causing the Paladin to turn white and stumble back from blood loss.
      • With a sigh that embodied his boredom and grudging acceptance of having saved the party yet again, Vandamar cast two Magic Missile spells at the Auromvorax, sending a swarm of deadly energy orbs ripping into the creature. After being propelled backwards 10 feet from the force of the impact, the creatures died in a pool of blood.
    • With the battle over for now, Stephanos collapsed to his knees and continually cast “Lay on Hands” until his vision no longer reported duplicate images. During this time, Belkar explored the labyrinth below the ground that was accessed by the many holes in the ground. 2 hours later, he re-appeared and reported 30-40 human corpses as a moderate amount of treasure scattered throughout.
    • The rest of this area was explored with no further excitement.

  • 9/30 – 10/03

    • These days spent exploring the furthest North West areas from Fort Drelev.

  • 10/04

    • During mid-morning, Belkar spotted something at the base of a nearby cliff. The party dismounted, approached on foot, and realized that this was a base of the Tiger Lord Barbarians. Several Barbarians were spotted holding position outside of a cave. Watching the activity throughout the day, the party counted about 12 barbarians total that switched between several duties.
    • When night fell, an ambush was set for the 4 barbarians on patrol. As the four stepped into a small clearing, the party converged and took them out very easily without a sound. Approaching the camp, a large cage was seen that appeared to hold 5 women, one of which matched the description of Tamori Numesti.
    • Approaching the camp, the barbarians went down with hardly a fight. Apparently, the best of the barbarians had been killed on the defenses of Tatzylford. When questioned, the women mentioned that they were gifts to Armagh, the Barbarian leader, but he had never arrived. Finally, they reported that a large group of them had gone East weeks ago, which timed with the attack on Tatzylford.
    • Vandamar teleported the women back to Fort Drelev (Tyrion Numesti was overjoyed to see that his daughter was unharmed), and returned to join the party in camping for the rest of the night on top of the cliff.

  • 10/05

    • With each watch ensuring throughout the night that no-one exited the cave, the party began their exploration. After rounding a turn just inside the entrance, the party heard a voice exclaim “Shit, someone is coming!” accompanied by the sounds of a spellcaster beginning a chant.

      • Stephanos charged around the corner followed closely by Cadoc, and they saw two women dressed in black hooded robes standing in a large square chamber. Stephanos approached one and hit her in the arm. Unfortunately, this did not disrupt her spell, and as she stepped back, both spells completed and a pair of Balbos appeared and attacked Stephanos.
      • As he turned his attention to this new threat, Vandamar rounded the corner and cast Fireball, catching all 4 enemies in the blast. However, the first black sister took another step back and cast Chaos Hammer (dazing Stephanos and Vandamar) as the second Channeled Negative Energy, further sapping the party’s vitality.
      • To counter, Cadoc cast Holy Smite to hit all four of the evil creatures as Belkar ran into the room (hitting the Chaos Hammer effect and also becoming disoriented). The Holy Smite spell apparently caused the first black sister to go blind, as she screamed “My Eyes!” and let out an ear-piercing wail that hurt everyone around her (ironically killing one of the summoned Balbos in the process).
      • Vandamar cleared his head and cast another fireball, killing the blind sister as well as the other Balbo. Stephanos strode towards the last black sister and rammed his sword squarely into her chest just as she attempted to cast another spell.
    • With the battle finished for now, Cadoc helped the still-disoriented gnome off of the floor. Stephanos examined the now-dead witches, announced that these were Sisters of Gyronna, and began reciting the history of their order. Interrupting what was shaping up to be a lengthy (but informative) monologue, Vandamar announced the presence of several secret doors in the room.
    • Both doors were flanking a statue against the wall. Opening one and passing through the one on the right, Belkar presently walked out of the left and announced that the doors just led to a half-square hallway. However, looking forward, he noticed that the staring statue was staring at another hidden door just across the room.
    • Opening this one revealed a dark corridor layered with at least a foot of heavy, dense fog. Vandamar took the lead in exploring this one to examine the intricately carved sigils seen on the coridor walls. Further down the corridor, the fog rose another foot just as the party approached a bend. Suddenly, a burst of power was felt and an alien chittering was heard!

      • Realizing that something just around the corner was casting a spell, Cadoc cast “Shield of Faith” on Stephanos. Belkar ran forward to get a look, but stumbled back with a scream as several scythe-tipped appendages lashed out and ripped into his chest.
      • As Cadoc bent to grab the gnome, a horrifying monster in the semblance of a giant spider with outsized mandibles, large spines, and cold intelligence gleaming in its eyes rushed out of the half-concealing fog.
      • As Vandamar cast “Displacement” on the paladin, the creature ground its foremost pair of legs together and created a deafening squeal which had the effect of giving “Feeblemind” to all but Stephanos.
      • Taking advantage of Belkar’s newfound interest in drooling, the creature rushed forward and impaled Belkar in three places, killing him instantly!
      • With a yell of rage, Stephanos pushed Cadoc to the side (apparently, Clerics can find an amazing amount of mucus in their noses should they search for it) and confronted the demon-spider with his sword bared. Eyeing the paladin with what seemed like delight, the spider tossed Belkars corpse into Cadoc, which had the effect of restoring sanity to the drunken hero.
      • Standing over the lifeless gnome’s corpse, Cadoc attempted to cast a spell on the spider, but his magic failed. Vandamar was in no shape to assist however, as he stood against one of the walls and giggled into one of his robe sleeves.
      • Feeling as if any help from his party would not be immediately forthcoming, Stephanos chopped one of the creature’s legs off as it attacked, and then dealt a hugely damaging blow to the rough center of the creatures head.
      • Immediately, the spider ceased its damnable grinding and reared back, sending sticky, milky-white fluid all over the place. With a wet crunch, the creature fell to the ground and lay there with its still-dangerous spiny legs spasmodically kicking around the narrow hallway.
    • With the threat gone (and the gnome found to be shallowly breathing), Vandamar steadied the halflings corpse in a sitting position as Stephanos held Belkar’s mouth open and Cadoc forced the contents of 7 potions of Cure Medium Wounds down his throat.
    • With Belkar steadied, the party made their way back down the misty hallway, yet another secret door was discovered at the end of the corridor. Taking a deep breath, Belkar unlocked the door and offered first entrance rights to Stephanos with a wave of his hand.
    • Pushing open the door revealed an immense circular chamber, with two large pillars to each side. In the exact center stood a giant iron statue that had been fashioned in the semblance of Gorum. As the party filed into the room, a shiver ran through the statue and it advanced towards them!

      • Staring at the advancing juggernaut Cadoc immediately cast “Blessing of Ferver” to start the list of buffs that might be needed. Stephanos ran forward and gave the golem a hard hit with his enchanted sword, and caused it to exhale noxious clouds of toxin!
      • Belkar, who was running around to give Stephanos a flank, unfortunately had not yet recovered from his last near-death encounter and toppled to the floor unconscious upon inhaling some of the fumes. Thinking about what might damage an iron golem, Cadoc threw an acid flask at it to no avail as the golem slammed both of its fists into Stephanos, severely denting his armor.
      • Vandamar attempted his third spell, which fizzled out much like his last two, as Stephanos went with a four-hit full-attack. Cadco sidestepped around to catch Belkar along with Stephanos, and then Channeled Energy to regain some health points. Dodging the golem’s next crushing blow, Stephanos cleanly separated the iron head from the body sending the heavy construct dropping to the ground.
    • Once again, the party found themselves recovering and finding some way to revive their “rent-a-thief”. A good 30 minutes later after Belkar was able to regain his feet, the gnome woozily pointed out several hidden doors. Opening the first, the party was presented again with a dark, corridor filled with fog. After swigging another Healing potion for good measure, Belkar sighed theatrically and bent to the task of trying to find traps in nearly impossible conditions.
    • Further down, a crossroads was encountered, with the cross-hallways dead-ending. Each had a table against the back wall that held old, semi-valuable jewelry and baubles. Continuing down the main hallway, the corridor ended in a large room covered with nasty iron weapons scattered all over the floor and walls.
    • Belkar gestured at Stephanos and said “Boss, I think that’s a trap” and pointed at a large wheel in the center of the room. He continued with his observation, mentioning that he had no idea what it did, but that it appeared to be disabled. Giving the gnome a strange look, Stephanos led the party through the doorway at the far end of the room.
    • After encountering another crossroads similar to the one encountered earlier, the hallway ended in a cavern overlook. Backtracking to the circular room, another secret door was opened, and this one’s hallway ended in the cavern seen from above earlier. As the party began to travel among the stalagmites along the “path”, two arrows came from an above ledge and struck Belkar in the throat!

      • In response Vandamar quickly cast ‘Fly” on himself, and launched a Quickened fireball at the area the arrows came from. The splash of light from the fireball striking the cavern ceiling illuminated 2 ranks of 4 skeletons holding bows.
      • Never one to resort to ranged weapons unless absolutely necessary, Stephanos began climbing up the cliff face to directly confront the undead. Cadoc, who tried to follow Stephanos but slipped, shouted a plea to Vandamar to fly him up and Channeled Energy to heal Belkar. As Belkar struggled yet again to his feet, Vandamar looked down in between fireball castings and shouted at the cleric to fly his own damn ass up.
      • Stephanos reached the top of the cliff and was able to pull a skeleton off and drop it down. Cadoc followed the wizard’s advice and tried again to climb the wall, but his attempts were in vain.
      • Feeling cocky, Vandamar landed in front of a skeleton with his hardly-used longsword drawn and smacked it in the face, but was hit by two arrows, which caused him to retreat from melee range and fly halfway back down. Belkar had, at this point, also managed to get himself up the cliff and began with engaging the nearest skeleton he was able to find.
      • Cadoc tried a third and final time to ascend but was not able to get a purchase and instead moved along the base of the cliff. Vandamar chugged a potion of healing and cast Magic Missile to evaporate another undead enemy at the same time as Stephanos swung and pulverized another.
    • The rest of the Skeleton Warriors were dealt with handily, and the party went back one final time to the Circular chamber, and opened the last secret door. The door opened on an elaborately carved limestone staircase that headed upwards to the opening of a large doorway. Past the door was a vast chamber with a large fountain to either side adjacent to a stone statue of Gorum. Standing at the far end on top of a dais was a 12-foot tall humanoid figure.
    • As the party crossed into the room, the figure boomed out “Only the faithful shall pass!” When asked by Vandamar, the figure said his name was Zorich, Champion of Gorum. Stephanos moved forward towards the figure. As he reached 25 feet in front of Zorich, a mystical energy field began to coalesce around the 12-foot figure and Zorich unsheathed his mammoth-sized sword with a dry rasp.

      • Cadoc cast Dispel Energy on the barrier to remove whatever protection it would have conferred, and Stephanos attacked but did not appear to do much damage. Zorich then lifted his hands skyward in a silent motion and rings of sharp, rusty blades sprang into existence and began to rotate around him.
      • Vandamar fired off another Dispel Magic at the barrier, but it was Stephanos’ casting of the same spell that caused the blades to fade away to wherever they came from. With the barrier down, Belkar ran to the side in an attempt to start a flank and Cadoc cast Flame Strike to envelop the warrior in a pillar of divine fire.
      • As Belkar passed by, Zorich reached across an impossible distance and tore a gaping wound in the halfling’s side. This left Stephanos with an opening, and the paladin dealt a groundshaking critical hit which oddly did not seem to provoke a reaction from the giant.
      • Vandamar attempted a Magic Missile casting as Cadoc recited Prayer, but even as the last words of their spells left their lips, Zorich clapped his hands together with a shout and rose into the air!
      • After 10 feet, the giant’s upward ascent halted as he was bathed in a shimmering yellow light, and a shout of triumph echoed throughout the hall as all of the wounds from the battle thus far disappeared.
      • Staring at this spectacle (and wondering how the Halfling was ever going to reach for a hit), Stephanos and Vandamar pulled out their bows in unison. As Cadoc cast Righteous Might in order to match physical sizes with Zorich, the 12-foot d-bag reached down with a thrust of his sword and shattered a large section of Stephanos’ arm-guard.
      • Stepping back, Vandamar cast Haste in order to give the paladin more of a chance to land some hits, but the paladins next few shots flew wide of their marks. Cadoc, now of a size with Zorich, attempted to hit the giant with his now claymore-size rapier, but also missed. Belkar had more luck with his bow, landing shots that sank deep into Zorich’s flesh and causing the giant to drop several feet back within sword-range.
      • Stephanos hit the giant with his sword in tandem with Cadoc’s casting of Holy Lance, which drove the giant back a few steps. However, Zorich recovered with a sweeping blow inflicted on Stephanos, eliciting a panicky shout of “medic!” from the now-severely bleeding paladin. As the other members of the party missed their next hits, Zorich dealt another terrifyingly powerful strike on the paladin, dropping Stephanos to his knees. As the giant lifted his sword with both hands in the air to impale the duke and end the fight, Stephanos lunged up and drove his sword straight into Zorich’s unprotected midsection. Zorich’s shout of victory turned into a gurgle-ish scream as he sank to the floor with gushing fonts of gore spewing forth coating the party.
    • Channeling Energy at least once more and making use of liberal amounts of Lay on Hands, the party slowly recovered from the short but intense encounter and took a look around the room. The giant had a nice set of armor (with a bastard-sword-shaped hole in the middle) along with the ornate sword, which Vandamar believed to be cursed.
    • As the party walked up the stairs Zorich had been guarding at the end of the room, a wild-eyed man met them at the landing of a wet, blood-soaked room, surrounded by a guard of skeletons. “Kill them and eat their eyes!” the man snarled, and the skeletons as one turned to the party and attacked.

      • Immediately, Vandamar cast a fireball and hurled it in the midst of the attackers, but while the skeletons immediately caught on fire, the man at the center remained unaffected. Cadoc cast Archons Aura to diminish the skeletons ability to land hits on the party as Stephanos strode forward to begin his part in the battle.
      • Belkar was not able to hit the frothing man (apparently named Armaugh by the lovingly stitched name on his shirt lapel), but luckily Stephanos was able to, cutting off the spellcasters current spell with a yelp. Vandamar cast several strategic pits below some of the skeletons, and dropped yet another fireball on the rest.
      • As Cadoc cast Holy Lance at Armaugh, the rabid mage snarled at the paladin and bashed the paladin several times with his heavy staff, causing red mists of blood to fly out. With a sneer, Armaugh pointed a finger at Belkar (who had failed to remain hidden on a flank attempt) and cast a catastrophic explosion that slammed the Halfling against the far wall and took him out of the fight (again!).
      • Not wishing to be a target for such destructive energies, Vandamar cast Invisibililty on himself and Cadoc. Choosing to forego his magics for the moment, Armaugh gave into rage and attempted to hit Stephanos again, but missed entirely. Stephanos however did not miss, and cut Armaugh’s staff in two with the back swing, taking half of his hand with it.
      • Cadoc was able to approach from behind and cast a healing spell on the Paladin, as Vandamar cast a third fireball in the midst of the 4 undead minions that were left, obliterating them. In a panic, Armaugh tried to punch the paladin in the face with his mauled hand, but Stephanos batted the bloody stump away and drove his sword deep into Armaugh’s neck, ending yet another close battle.
    • As Stephanos cleaned his sword for at least the 6th time this day, Vandamar cast Gentle Repose on Belkar in order to more easily transport his corpse (this time he was well and truly dead). Stephanos bent and pulled the sword out of Armaugh’s belt, and spent a few rough moments struggling for control of his mind!
    • Apparently this sword was cursed with a malignant intelligence, and caused the bearer to go insane. It was wrapped in Armaugh’s bloody robe and shoved into the Bag of Holding for safe-keeping.
    • Heading into the hallway ahead and walking down a flight of stairs, the passage ended in a dark, coal-black room with tiger motifs hung on the walls. At the far end of the room was a coffin ornately carved with scenes of battle. The body inside bore extremely nice hide armor, a gleaming golden shield, and several bejeweled weapons that still appeared to be deadly sharp. Vandamar conjectured that the corpse was, at one point, the leader of the Tiger Lord Barbarians.

      • A secret door was located, behind which was a large treasure vault that was looted with glee. After the party barricaded themselves in the room and rested for a few hours, Vandamar teleported them all back to Fort Drelev.

  • End Session 10

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