Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 30

This adventure was Friday November 27, 2015. E.G., A.T., B.P., and C.H. were present.

Returning to Riddley’s Crown, the party delivers Cleric Jere Collado to the care of Sister Janus. A Restoration spell will bring back the Wisdom he lost to the Allip.  Collado should rest afterward, but he can make it back to the storefront cabin on his own.

Barbarian-Ranger Xorn, Thri-Kreen warrior H’ai-ch Q’a, Frenzied Berserker Barbarian Wee Jack, and Cleric Jacob Light-Bringer notice something new in the enclave – a battle standard outside the barracks. Someone new has apparently taken up residence.  Light-Bringer and Wee Jack make successful Knowledge : Religion checks, and recognize the standard as that of VALIANT LIGHT (NPCs).

Valiant Light is a multi-denominational association of clerics. Each group is an independent cell, comprised of up to eight divine spellcasters of any religious following.  Such parties adventure across the land, seeking worthy challenges.  Sometimes they take on new members, occasionally a team splits into smaller parties that go their own way and draw new associates.

Their presence here is not surprising. Wee Jack is curious to know the makeup and disposition of this particular franchise.  Xorn is indifferent.  He wants to sell off the treasure looted from the well.  They’ll meet these clerics soon enough.

To the surprise of everyone, Jacob Light-Bringer announces that he is stepping back from adventuring, for a while at least. At odds with himself about his purpose and his goals, Cleric Jacob has decided to intern with Sister Janus for the immediate future.  He will still be around to offer healing spells but won’t take an active role in adventuring.

The party is disappointed to see their friend part ways with the group. But Fortune smiles upon Xorn’s team – a Dwarf Fighter arrived in Riddley’s Crown this morning, and is looking to join them.  RUDIC UNGART (new character played by BP) seems a friendly sort, beneath his bulky full-plate armor and tower shield.  Rudic traveled here with the Valiant Light team, having encountered them on the trade route.

Accompanying them to the blacksmith’s shop, Rudic is pleased to point out and identify the various members of Valiant Light : the leader, REEDNA (NPC), a female Dwarf Cleric of Kord; CORALYNE (NPC), female Elf Cleric of Obad-Hai; human SEAMUS MACTAVISH (NPC), Cleric of Wee Jas; AMBER RENN (NPC), half-Elf Cleric of Pelor; and CJ NEWCASTLE (NPC), female human Cleric of Fharlanghan. Ungart does not see Halfling TIM THREEFOOT (NPC), Cleric of Yondalla; or ALAIN (NPC), Cleric of St Cuthbert, anywhere around.

Xorn, H’ai-ch Q’a, and Wee Jack do business with smith Lanna Riis and then with Dwarf trader Dredburn. Dredburn offers a substantial amount of gold for the masterwork leather boots found in the well caverns; they are his size and durable enough to outlast him.  With the proceeds of their commerce, the party invites Rudic Ungart to a night of drinking at the main hall.

*          *          *

The next morning, Ungart meets his new companions for breakfast. The Dwarf is armed, armored, of clear mind and hale body.  Xorn and his friends drank just slightly less than Rudic last night, yet are in varying states of ‘terrible’.  Wee Jack suspects that some fey-folk snuck into their cabin last night while they slept, stole their “drinkin’-gold”, and drummed their skulls with Diminutive maces.  Ungart will have to move at the reduced pace of his hung-over allies.

Today is a scouting run to the western bog. Lysander’s mission is worth looking into.  Barbarian-Ranger Xorn now has the +1 warhammer that Riis enchanted for him.  He’d like to deal some critical hits to living foes like Ogres and Orcs.

Wee Jack and Xorn lead the group to the bog. Agile, lanky H’ai-ch Q’a and mobile metal statue Rudic bring up the rear.  Past the new, extremely stable bridge they encounter a Lizardman.  This is TIMANDER (NPC), the guide set by Lysander to wait for them.  None of the group make a Knowledge : Nature check to estimate how old Timander is.  But he looks capable enough.

The scout is not the talkative sort. The Lizardman stalks south for a half-mile before turning west off the trail.  No-one follows when Timander wades into a dark, seemingly bottomless waterway.  Realizing that his charges don’t swim, the guide seems dismayed.  Nonetheless, he comes up with an alternate route that winds the party deeper into the bog along firm, if squishy, ground.  In some places the party must make risky Jump checks, an easy task for the Thri-Kreen but a harrowing experience for armored Dwarf Ungart.  Where they are going, only Timander knows.

The stretch ahead is solid – a narrow, winding island amid deep channels of brown-black murk. Mounting solid earth, the party makes a Spot check.  From behind twisted trees and low tangled bushes, ghouls and ghasts rush to attack !

Barbarian-Ranger Xorn dashes forward, adamantine shortsword Solace in his off-hand, his new warhammer in his main. Seen only to him, Solace the female half-Orc projection is strolling along the surface of the bog.  She berates Xorn for making her his secondary weapon.

Wee Jack is a step behind Xorn. In the back of his mind, the Gnome is aware that his Frenzied Berserker nature may erupt at any time.  Losing control could have dangerous consequences for the party.

H’ai-ch Q’a springs into action on the right flank, laying down a flurry of attacks on a ghast. A ghoul rakes him with accursed claws; the Thri-Kreen warrior fails the Fortitude save and is paralyzed.

Rudic Ungart has not fought Undead before, but he is no stranger to combat. Sound tactics are first on his mind and recklessness not an option.  He needs to impress his new associates.  The Dwarf draws his weapon and, tower-shield before him, attacks a ghoul.

Moments into the fight, a new enemy approaches. It is a Gravetouched Ghoul, in life a Human Barbarian but now a greater evil than these ghoul and ghast minions.  The creature wears magical leather armor, and carries a magic greatsword that shimmers with frost.

This sword hacks Xorn and narrowly misses Wee Jack on the backswing. It is a vicious hit.  If left alone, this ghoul barbarian will easily kill them all in short order.  Best they take it out first.  Xorn sets to work on this.

Gnome Wee Jack explodes into a full, furious, horrifying Frenzy as a consequence of two quick hits from ghouls. A mindless cloud of rage, the Gnome kills everything he hits, each victim cut down with a single blow.  Barbarian-Ranger Xorn makes good on dealing with the Gravetouched leader.  The last creature standing, a Ghast, attempts and fails to bypass Xorn to get at Ungart.

Unfortunately, the party has slain all the Undead before Wee Jack’s condition exhausts itself. Mad with blood-lust, the frenzied Gnome seeks the nearest target – which happens to be Xorn.

Wisely staying prone after his paralysis wore off, H’ai-ch Q’a is shocked to see Wee Jack turn on the half-Orc barbarian-ranger with blind, murderous intent. Rudic Ungart hustles out of harm’s way.  He has never seen this kind of intra-party violence before; it is unsettling, to say the least.

Xorn has nowhere to retreat. His armor and dexterity will only protect him for so long.  After taking a couple painful hits, the Barbarian-Ranger is done sanctioning his so-called friend’s uncontrollable frenzy.  He goes into a barbarian rage, turning his defensive posture into an explosive offense.

For several rounds the furious Gnome and enraged half-Orc pound at each other, seemingly oblivious to naive sentiments like friendship and camaraderie. There is no holding back on either man’s part.

At last it is Xorn that prevails, and not fatally. The half-Orc deals what was likely a killing Critical Hit on the Gnome but was declared a normal blow.  Wee Jack’s frenzy reaches its natural end and the Gnome collapses, unconscious, as his bolstered Constitution ebbs.  Xorn is still in control of himself; he withdraws to let his rage subside, and to drink a healing potion.

Rudic Ungart watches from a minimum safe distance, far enough away to react if the Gnome gets up and attacks again. Timander slowly emerges from the water, where he hid when the Undead ambushed.  H’ai-ch Q’a chances approaching Wee Jack, and administers a healing potion.

When the Gnome regains consciousness, he is immediately aware of what happened, and what he did. Xorn regards Wee Jack with a simmering mixture of suspicion and anger, wary of his treacherous associate.  Wee Jack tries to find the words.

It is now early afternoon on the 3rd day of April, by the local calendar.

 

(end of Part 30)

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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