If I had to guess on how this adventure was going to wrap up, I would have been sitting in some other park looking at the pigeons instead of the resolution the party took us down. They have had the unfortunate luck and choices as of late to either piss off the townsfolk that they had to deal with or leave said town's in a blaze of spell fire and flash of steel.
But nothing exceeded that of dragon, storm giant, Orcus spell book fueled undead plague, set ablaze exit they had done to the beleaguered mining city of Broken Hills.
And in doing so they wiped out the adventure hooks, about every NPC, their original purpose for coming, as well as another permanent PC player (sorry Kyle!)
But they had a good time and that's all that matters to me!
Write up follows:
Bron settled at the landing of the 2nd level, his Fly spell still in force but his heart heavy over what he had been a part of. He took out the Orcus Book of Infinite Spells and realized that it is curse, not a blessing. So keeping his mind clear, he stroked the book, channeled a touch of Brittle into the oakleaf binding, and then balled up his fist and blasted every ounce of his monastic training into the book – attempting to destroy it.
And he did.
But, as the pages and binding were flying about, time seemed to slow down and then stop altogether. Standing before him shaking his head was a fairly non-descript malevolent man. He was bemoaning the fact that this was the 2nd time in as many days that he felt the need to come and see who was attempting to screw with his property. Orcus. Shit sandwich.
He then drew out a deck of battered cards and told our esteemed monk that he was going to have to draw from his deck – and then there was a clattering of a polyhedral dice – and it read “4”. Orcus grinned, “The dice have spoken. Get drawing.”
So our favorite Bron took his time and plucked out one card after another, getting 3 positives to every negative! Well done. One of the most powerful cards drawn was the wishing card – and Orcus had some time to kill – so it was time for Bron to get some questions asked as well so wishes granted.
As for questions, a card did come up that would reveal what was the answer to the biggest dilemma – which at this point of time was Myris the polymorphing red dragon that seemed to have lured the group here and was now up top wrecking the town of Broken Hills. Orcus told Bron that the Sundered Chains and Soren and Company had made some nasty habits as of late in the assault and slaying of a couple of juvenile brown dragons that were nesting at Dragonhole as well as the young adult green dragon that was revered as a swamp god by the lizardmen near Eider.
Orcus told Bron then that dragons live forever, never dying – only becoming more and more powerful. A brief history revealed that dragons were the first race created by the gods and they helped to shape and create the world. The dragon’s main helpers were the elves, dwarves, ogres, and humans and after the gods had ascended to the heavens the dragons sort of stayed in power. It was when the elves who had had enough had then launched a massive assault on the dragons, killing many of the elder ones that the balance of power shifted and the age of dragons went into decline and the rise of the humanoid races was able to take place.
Myris was a warden – his job was to make sure that dragonkind in this area were not assaulted and kept in good health. It was when he discovered that two dead browns that he began to investigate. He learned of the Sundered Chains and their efforts in Dragonhole and decided to find out where the group had gone. It was when he then learned of the change to Soren and Company and the death of the green that he had to put his plans in place.
He was going to lure the group here and make it their mission to eventually get lost in Murderer’s hole. Once here there was no way out with flight and he was going to then exact a personal revenge against the group by assaulting their homes and loved ones. However, Orcus did chuckle, the presence of the book and Bron’s reading of it, the attacks against the mighty red dragon, and the giant and undead horde have sort of confused and side tracked Myris and now according to the undead lord, the dragon was only going to further vent his frustrations here and then most likely leave – leaving the party also to their fates and forgetting about them unless they make the mistake of slaying another dragon.
Bron was surprised to learn all this and was also further surprised to find out that the entire Skelt issue was an unrelated matter all together. Orcus then asked Bron for his wishes and the monk wanted to save them. Orcus smiled and said he was busy – let’s have them now.
Bron did ask to have his strange and dark look removed, returning himself to his earlier appearance. He also asked to have his negative effects from the drawing of the deck abated. And finally he wanted the ability to use his monastic abilities more often per day. Orcus did grant all three wishes – but not in a manner that the rest of the group (specifically Norris) was going to find easy to deal with.
At that point the flow of time returned and Orcus along with his damaged spellbook disappeared. Our monk shook his head and then proceeded down the corridor towards the back of the level and took the elevator down to the 4th floor.
Meanwhile the rest of the group was going back to the 4th floor elevator to take it up to the 2nd floor and hopefully see if they can get out since the dragon seemed to be gone when Norris suddenly seemed to scream. His body swelled in size, the half elf topping out at over 6’ in height, his body massing quickly to over 200 lbs. In addition he felt a stirring disconnect for some reason and his motions became sluggish and less sure. The party was amazed at this and then Bron emerged from the hole.
It took all of 2 seconds for the party to notice the sudden similarity in size and body mass between the monk and the bard and the two of them got to words. Bron told the party of what he had seen above. The dragon, the giant, the town being attacked. It seemed the dragon would not be coming back here anytime soon and the group had a singular opportunity to try and save Arnog.
He did not mention his flight, or the reading of the book. Norris felt the monk had done something but there was no proof. The group was a bit torn at this point. It was asked where Bor was and Bron told us that the brave fighter had fallen down the pit along with Hagni. Then Norris asked where the book was and Bron told us that the tome had also fallen down the pit.
We talked about going down there to salvage it but discounted that possibility for now. No one knew it was there so we could always go back and get it after we saved Arnog and then went topside to see what was going on. We followed the 4th level back to the main chasm, blocked now by 3 and a half feet of ice still standing from Norris’ spell. There was talk of using Gwyn’s new firestaff to burn through but Bron had an idea.
Hoping that Orcus had played his fair, he reached deep within himself again, pulled up the ability to use his Touch of Brittleness again and punched the ice wall in an effort to break it. And it worked! However, Norris suddenly yelped in confusion. His even mind and capabilities to use his bardic abilities just grew weaker for some reason. Bron said nothing and the bard once again blamed the monk. The conversation got nowhere.
We went into the chasm and looked at the situation before us. We needed to cross the 20 odd feet as well as drop 60’ to the 5th level. The group pooled our diminishing piles of rope and Soren fired a stonebiter into the opposite wall. Through ropes and spikes we anchored a line across to the opposite side and one by one, the party slithered across the span and down the wall to the landing.
It was perhaps 10’ by 12’ and there was a crudely fitted door blocking the rest of the area. The group looked through and although it was difficult, there were able to deduce there was a corridor perhaps 40’ wide and then a swelling and widening room beyond of which maybe 90’ or so away were three men playing cards – one of the Arnog. Where the mage was, no one knew.
A number of plans were hatched; many of them involving missile fire and the group got themselves together and opened the door. About halfway down the corridor they were detected and the silent mage walked into view, beefy and red haired, he pointed at the party and a bolt of lightning appeared in front of the party and tore its way across the group. We answered with a few arrows and crossbow bolts and were dismayed to see a number of them stop short as if from a shield in front of the mage.
The enemy fighters rose to their feet and drew swords and we fired for bolts and arrows, poison being liberally used at this point. Some of us tried to get into position to ready ourselves to meet the charging enemy when the silent mage then used his next spell – Invisibility 10’ radius. And the 3 fighters and Arnog disappeared.
Soren took a Hail Mary shot at the silent mage’s last position and hit the mage’s shield – with a stonebiter arrow! The arrow then hovered INFRONT of the mage, in the magical shield spell, marking his position. A blast of power rolled from Brother Beren who used his Monster Summoning spell scroll and an Ogre appeared. The ogre was sent after the silent mage.
And then Norris whistled his spell scroll of ice storm and dropped a blasting of pounding hail on the mage who was casting against the group as well as a number of figures running through the ice to assault us. Two of them dropped from the pounding ice chunks. One of them ran forward to intercept the ogre. Ve tried to interfere but the enemy fighter tore the guard to shreds and stormed on past. Bron willed a charm on the enemy fighter and had him switch sides to fight with us.
Our hit points were dropping quickly and we needed to end this struggle as soon as possible. Soren was out of normal arrows and was now using stonebiters. So he loaded up a line on the back of the drilling bolt and fired it at the silent mage. Hitting him. Brother Beren told the ogre to “bring the line back here now!” The same line that was in the mage. This would bring him into Gwyn and Bron’s reach and allow the two fighters to take him down.
However the charmed fighter then did get a final blow in on the silent mage – a blow that brought him down into negative hit points. A blow that triggered the delayed fireball gem he had been given by Myris.
Chunks of fiery viscera tore through the group, killing Bron outright, the monk knocked on his ass. The fire also consumed Brother Beren – BUT – as he felt his skin blister and burn there were the clarion calls of trumpets and a pair of Valkyrie’s came down, swooping the trembling priest away and out of harm’s way. Remembering his draw from Orcus’ deck, he was using his one intervention of fate card! The valkyries then lowered him back down – 52 miles away in the party’s home in Eider fully healed and with all his spells returned for the day.
As for the ogre, he took the brunt of the blast but he did follow Brother Beren’s last order which was to run the line back to where the ogre had last seen him. He arrived – about 10’ from Norris (at Bron’s death the link between him and the monk was gone so he returned to his normal appearance) who was teetering on the high side of 10 hit points, looked around and did not see his summoning master. All he saw were a half elf in bad fitting armor, a dwarf nursing numerous burns. An elven archer bleeding and smoldering, and a platemail wearing fighter also suffering from too many wounds.
In other words – enemies.
The ogre raised his great axe up and roared – charging Norris who was yelling, “No! No!!!” trying to deflect the mighty blow and failing. His chest was smashed opened and the ogre had to shake the bard off the axe where he fell with a wet thud – ticking his way past the negative numbers.
Soren asked the shocked remaining one time enemy fighter if he was going to continue to struggle against them (them being ONLY Soren and Gwyn remaining!) or if he could count on helping. The fighter agreed to help and the elf, dwarf, and human attacked the now charging ogre and together they finished the fight.
A quick check about the room revealed that Bron was dead, Brother Beren was missing, Arnog was dead (killed during the Ice Storm spell), Ve was dead, and Norris was dying. It took a pair of potions to stabilize the bard but he was brought to the positive side of 0.
There was a tense moment when we learned that the fighter was not going to give up Arnog’s sword, nor his armor – saying that Myris had given them to him days ago. It was decided that it wasn’t a matter to be discussed now and that we should just get out of here with what we could. The portal was in the next chamber and the fighter went first, telling us that he would pave the way for the other two guards up there and that we would all get out together.
Meanwhile Brother Beren ran towards his front door in an effort to go to Baronet Wodenlach when he opened the portal to see two men standing there. Zoltan (looking VERY hurt and worn out) and a somewhat clean looking Detheron! Both sides caught each other up with what had been happening and what was going on. Detheron had followed his geas and went to Principia where he was able to find the severed unicorn head. When the horn was returned the unicorn arose once more, fully healed and a blast of raw magic filled the area.
There was also a young girl there, about 12, that Detheron was able to deduce was Vanir’s daughter. He had her handlers dispatched and along with Summerbloom (the unicorn) they left Principia and went the long way back towards Orihalcus – detouring to see Goloriana. The unicorn was proud to have her sister back and they promised to look into things for the druid. In thanks for his efforts they had called forth a powerful stallion named Tornado from the wild and the animal bonded itself to our druid. With a steed now, Detheron went to Orihalcus where he met with Deidra and the Children of the Wilted Leaf. Vanir’s daughter was left there in secret with the orphanage and he confided in Sir Walter Slaine as to what was going on. Sir Walter said that he had heard from Karis who had returned his bondsman ring and was with some unsavory characters.
Detheron then went on his way back the long way to Eider where he came across Zoltan living outside the city in the swamp. The gypsy had escaped after 3 weeks of abuse from what he said was a group of underground shapeshifters. They had imitated him a number of times and tortured information out of him. Then they had been going into Eider for some reason every 3 or 4 days and buying whatever arrows the bowyers and fletchers had on hand. Hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of arrows were coming out of Eider and into the swamp. The druid had healed our gypsy friend and the two of them had gone into Eider, met with the Baronet, and learned that the party’s house was here and they should go there for a night’s rest before going to Broken Hills – the last place the group said they were going off to.
Stories all shared at this point, the three companions were on their way to the Baronet to talk about the dragon, the storm giant, and the undead.
Back to Soren, Gwyn, and Norris, the three companions along with the 3 guards remaining all took some potions of levitation (an extra couple going into our pouches) and then we all floated up and out of Murderer’s Hole. Reunited with Digger the wolverine, we climbed up the side of the cleft and beheld the town of Broken Hills.
The dragon and giant were gone, but the damage was done. Cornblood Keep was writhed in flames and most of the town square was a burning ruin. Falconhand Park was ablaze and there seemed to be a dark aura across the entire north end of town from the cemetery all the way to the stables. To the south the tannery was on fire as well as a dozen or more nearby homes. And everywhere there were screams and shouts and cries in the darkness. Darkness that seemed to move and float and flit about as if alive.
There was a thin ragged line of fleeing refugees running from the city, casting fearful glances behind them as they made their way out of the remains of their homes and town. The three guards wished the party good luck and said they were NOT going into that – instead would make their way to Eider and then eventually northward to Dilabria. Soren, Gwyn, and Norris took one last look and shouldering their packs on tired frames turned their feet along the northeast road – the road out of Broken Hills and towards Eider.