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Chapter XII: Street by Street
The battle raged on. Street by street the two armies clashed. The flood of Beysibian soldiers proved to be a daunting challenge. It was not long before the party separated from their allies.

"Titus! Do not make me waste my magic". Turning, Titus saw blood and snow on the window pane form into what looked like Zu's face. "I send this message from Jubal: Please come quick to the maze. We are under attack." With that, Titus sighed and finished off the last snaketongue warrior on this block.

As the party fought their way towards the maze, they heard a familiar shout nearby. Heading down the alley, Prince Kafen was spotted. He and his soldiers were surrounded by Beysibian soldiers! In between them and their allies were a number of snaketongue warriors and two of those snakes made of fire! Despite their fatigue, the party made short work of their enemies. Prince Kafen looked to be well and headed off to rejoin the main army. The party continued into the maze.

The twisting and turning of the closely built homes made it impossible to get a clear idea of what was going on. However, it was clear that the Beysib were intent on burning the maze to the ground. Approaching Jubal's sanctum, Garr spotted their ally trying to escape his burning building. Unfortunately, beams fell on him before he could reach the window.

As Garr charged to aid his friend, he realized it was a trap! They were surrounded by Snakedancers; warriors who use snake-like chains to attack their enemies. Leading them was an evoker of considerable skill.

Mustering up the reserves within themselves, the companions found the strength to defeat their enemies. The fight seemed to last hours, though only minutes had passed when they surrounded the last snakedancer; he chose to end his own life.

With little time to think, Garr threw himself at the iron doors of Jubal's palace. With the help of Reylos they succeeded in breaking through. Gaelen & Titus were quick to follow, bringing in water and cloth in an attempt to douse the flames. Balthasar scurried up a support beam, while Garr somehow managed to make it up the stairs despite them crumbling under his weight. While the others searched for Jubal, Titus looked in vain for other survivors. Jubal, himself, was found under the collapsed roofing of the building. The combined might of Garr, Balthasar, and Reylos succeeded in pulling his broken body from the rubble. Not a moment later, the building began to crumble. Balthasar and Titus crashed through the windows while Garr & Reylos leaped across to the adjoining building.

Though successful in saving Jubal, they were met with yet another obstacle. Skather, somehow impossibly alive, arrived with a large group of soldiers. The heroes were in no condition to continue fighting this day. They chose, wisely, to use the maze to their advantage. This was, after all, Titus & Balthasar's home. It was not long before Skather's men were confused and separated, allowing the party to hide within the abandoned Vulgar Unicorn.

Here, licking their wounds, they were warned by Jubal that continuing with their mission to kill Rathamon would likely end in failure. He told them of his personal history with Rathamon. Jubal was the brother of one of the Tal'Ruan guards. They were all killed by Rathamon whilst protecting the Azuran king's escape. Rathamon's rise to power began with that massacre.

He also told them of the queen's escape and the birth of her son, heir to the Azuran empire; how he was born into slavery, eventually becoming a gladiator and embracing the cursed blade, Xiphoid.

Each member of the party turned, staring at Balthasar. He showed no shock or awe. However, the slowly choked words, "What happened to the queen?" were clear indication of his own surprise.

After the tale, it was clear the party intended on continuing and Jubal would not sway them. He left Balthasar with one piece of advice, "Beware the sword you carry, for it is filled with the vengence of all it's previous owners". Balthasar replied, "I only need it this one more time."

"That, my friend, is when it will betray you".
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Shadows & Dust
S4: Kuthaka's Tomb
Session 4 Summary:

Cast of Player Characters:
Bolvarr (tiefling rogue 2)-- played as NPC
Conan (human fighter 2)
Pyros (eladrin wizard 2)
The Holy Man (human cleric of bahamut 2)-- played as NPC

Interlude from Part 1 of the Forges of the Mountain King. GG DCC #54.

The heroes set off to explore Kuthaka's Tomb, the location of which is revealed on a hastily scrawled map found the previous day at the campsite of a dead scout for the evil Mountain King.

The heroes travel through the foothills of the Wyrmfang Mountains for several hours before they arrive at a rocky pit about 15 feet deep and some 30 feet across--the apparent location of Kuthaka's Tomb. The walls of the pit are formed naturally by huge rocks and boulders. On one wall the heroes see a tunnel opening. A stone slab, which at one time must have served as a door, has fallen or been knocked over at the tunnel opening.

The heroes climb down into the pit and examine the slab and tunnel opening. The stone slab is carved with runes representing the four major elements of fire, air, water, and earth. Also carved upon the slab in the Barazhad script is the Common tongue phrase "Kuthaka: a curse lay on his undying soul. May he burn, choke, drown, and be crushed for all ages to come". Girding themselves for the unknown dangers that lay ahead, the heroes enter the tunnel cautiously.

Inside the tunnel, a set of rough stairs leads down to a corridor intersection. Humanoid bones litter the stairs. At the bottom, the intersection is lit by two glowing white orbs suspended on the walls by iron clamps. To the right are stone double doors; left is a closed iron portcullis. Chilly air blows softly through the portcullis. Directly ahead is a long, wide corridor with alcoves, also lit with glowing orbs. Strong gusts of wind come from the corridor. The heroes head right toward the stone double doors, and Bolvarr picks the lock to open them.

The doors open into a wide chamber made entirely of iron. Against the wall opposite the door are three statues. They look like hounds constructed of iron with spikes down their backs. Upon the wall to their left, the heroes see a small iron ledge, atop it rests a small golden idol resembling a human in flowing robes. The heroes are immediately suspicious of the statues. Bolvarr heads toward the golden idol and the heroes' suspicions are confirmed as the three iron defenders quickly move to attack!

Bolvarr rapidly retreats to the hallway, and Conan and Holy Man establish a front to hold the iron defenders in the chamber by the doorway. The humans rain powerful battleaxe and mace blows against the iron defenders while Pyros and Bolvarr attack with missiles (magic missiles and crossbow bolts, respectively) at range. The iron defenders are soundly destroyed after a short battle, and the heroes are lucky to avoid any serious wounds. They explore the room quickly, but find nothing of interest other than the golden idol, which they quickly stow away before moving on.

Heading back through the intersection, the heroes come to the iron portcullis. Beyond they see a room lit by two glowing blue-white orbs. Their breath mists in the cold air. Against the wall opposite the portcullis, they see a half-moon shaped fountain. The water is frozen and hangs over the edge of the fountain, and the floor in front of it is covered with ice. There is no lock on the portcullis, and it is rusted closed. After a solo attempt by Conan, which fails, the heroes manage to cooperate and lift the portcullis open.

Entering the chamber, the heroes are immediately confronted by two chillborn zombies hiding in the corners out of sight! A savage battle ensues, with Conan, Bolvarr and Holy Man all getting slammed frozen and immobilized, and taking ongoing cold damage at various stages of the melee. Only Pyros escapes the freezing terror of the zombies. Eventually, saving throws and attacks turn their way, and the zombies are eventually slain by the thawing heroes. However, with each zombie's death, the chillborn explode into a thousand icy shards, inflicting even more grievous wounds upon the unsuspecting heroes. (**Insert much evil DM laughter here**)

Examining the room after the battle, Pyros detects the presence of magic in the frozen fountain. Conan smashes it to bits, revealing treasure within: a Kreth-minted silver bar, a golden ring, and a lifedrinker shorsword. Bolvarr is more than happy to accept the shortsword (being his primary melee weapon), and the party stows the rest of the treasure before heading on. Conan is certain that the blue-white glowing orbs are linked to the chillborn zombies and the frozen room in some way, so he rips them from the walls and stows them away.

The heroes head to the remaining corridor, which is lit with white glowing orbs. Along the walls of the corridor are small alcoves. Most appear empty but a few have small glinting items in them. Sporadic gusts of wind pelt the heroes as they stand upon the threshold of the corridor. At the far end, some eighty feet away, there are large, black iron double doors.

Moving ahead, the heroes find the first alcove on the right contains a silver ring set with a blue gemstone. The third alcove on the left has a silver ring set with a red gemstone. Approaching the mid-point of the corridor, both Bolvarr and Pyros spot a glyph of warding on the floor. Bolvarr attempts to disarm the glyph, but is unsuccessful. Pyros decides to aid Bolvarr on the next attempt, but Bolvarr is so clumsy he actually triggers the glyph--and the corridor explodes with clapping thunder! Shaking the dazed thoughts from their heads, the heroes forge onward. They discover two more rings in the corridor alcoves: a silver ring with a brown gemstone and another with a grey and white swirled gemstone.

As the heroes approach the great iron double doors, they notice engraved symbols of the four major elements. The heroes think they've found Kuthaka's crypt. The iron doors swing open ominously.

Beyond the doors, the heroes see a grand hall. The floor is littered with bones. Across the hall is a wide staircase flanked by two fiercely burning cauldrons. On the stairs is a skeleton blazing with blue and red fire. Beyond the staircase is a platform of shimmering blue mist. From the mist a blue spectral humanoid appears hovering above the stairs. It speaks: "Who dares to plunder the belongings of Kuthaka, mighty elemental magelord?"

The heroes rush to attack!

Kuthaka is faster. The spectral elemental magelord launches his spectral dissipation attack, catching all of the heroes in its burst. They all suffer heavy necrotic damage and are bloodied (Pyros is down to 2 hit points), and are -2 to all Defenses for the rest of the encounter.

The heroes run away!

Fleeing back down the corridor as fast as they can, the heroes realize Kuthaka the spectral elemental magelord is simply too powerful to assault without a good plan of attack. The heroes flee out of the tomb entirely, their footfalls echoed by the sound of Kuthaka's laughter and insults. The clang of great iron doors slamming shut reverberates in the foothills of the mountains outside the tomb.

The heroes rest up and lick their wounds. Embarrassed by their first foray into Kuthaka's crypt, the heroes formulate a plan and return into the depths of the tomb.

As they approach the great iron doors, the heroes hatch their plan. Using one of the glowing orbs, Conan bowls it down the corridor. As the orb reaches the doors, they open. The heroes rush quickly to the sides of the doors, out of sight from Kuthaka's devastating necrotic blast. Following Pyros' lead, the heroes hurl insult upon insult at Kuthaka, questioning everything from his gender to his competence as an advisor to Eternal Overlord Godric.

Kuthaka is furious. He screams that the heroes are nothing but petty errand boys sent by Godric's clerks to collect the bill. He stamps around, kicking his flaming cauldrons, and demands the heroes show their cowardly faces before his mighty elemental countenance!

The heroes oblige. Rushing into the hall, they quickly separate, hoping to avoid Kuthaka's necrotic blast of death. The plan appears to work, as Kuthak rushes down the staircase rather than blasting the heroes from the air. Unfortunately for the heroes, the bones littering the hall's floor animate into five decrepit skeletons, and the blazing skeleton on the stairs hurls a ball of evil fire.

A hellish battle ensues! Bolvarr maneuvers to attack the blazing skeleton; Pyros takes a position near a corner and casts flaming sphere to assail Kuthaka; Holy Man stands proud against the decrepit skeletons, raising his holy symbol to turn them; Conan rushes to hew any skeletons not turned by Holy Man.

The decrepit skeletons are quickly destroyed. The blazing skeleton proves too much for Bolvarr, and the tiefling rogue is knocked senseless and dying. Conan takes the brunt of Kuthaka's aether blast melee attacks, and returns the assault with mighty swings of his frost battleaxe. Pyros maneuvers his flaming sphere to continue assailing Kuthaks but avoiding Conan. Holy Man moves to use Beacon of Hope against the blazing skeleton, and heals his allies. Bolvarr recovers and springs back into action!

The tide of battle turns, as the blazing skeleton is destroyed and only Kuthaka remains to confront the heroes. The spectral elemental magelord is soon slaughtered, but before he disappears, his misty form swirls back to the shimmering blue platform above the stairs, and a great face appears. Kuthaka's face grins evilly in the shimmering mist.

"Thank you, errand boys, for releasing me from my undying torment! You shall be repaid ... mwah-ha-ha-ha!" Kuthaka's face and the shimmering mist explode in a flash! Silence falls upon the hall. The heroes look at one another ominously. "Uh-oh. What have we done!"

The heroes notice an iron box atop the platform, the blue shimmering mist now gone. Examining the box, they find it is not trapped and it is covered with elemental runes. Inside the iron box are a thundering mace, a pair of gloves of piercing, and a black silk bag with two potions of healing and 240 gold pieces.

Satisfied with their foray into Kuthaka's Tomb, the heroes return to the surface and resume their journey toward the lost dwarven Halls of Tannheim. Kuthaka's last words ring in their heads, though, and the heroes can't help but wonder what elemental menace they've released into the Wastelands.

And so the story shall continue ...
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Shadows & Dust
S3: Into the Wastelands
Session 3 Summary:

Cast of Player Characters:
Bolvarr (tiefling rogue 1)
Conan (human fighter 1)
Pyros (eladrin wizard 1)
The Holy Man (human cleric of bahamut 1)-- played as NPC

Part 1 of the Forges of the Mountain King. Goodman Games DCC #54.

With the help of the dwarf Oden Tannheim, our heroes escape from their prison cell into the sewers of the City-State of Shuul. They are to travel through the sewers for some distance and then climb up a grate opening where Oden will meet them in an alleyway. The heroes opine that Oden must have deep and strange connections in the city as he is able to arrange for an orc guard to unlock the heroes' cell door in the middle of the night. As a parting message to the orc slave pit master Varth, Pyros writes a dire warning in his own blood on the cell wall: Pyros will return for Varth's head. Having been a prisoner for many years in the city, Pyros and Varth have a spiteful rapport!

Traveling through the sewers of Shuul, the heroes encounter a rat swarm. A tricky battle ensues, with the heroes carefully balancing and positioning themselves upon the ledges of the sewer walkways. Fortunately, no one topples into the stinking sludge of the sewer sluice channel, and the rat swarm is slaughtered by numerous magic missiles from Pyros, crossbow bolts from Bolvarr, and mighty chops from Conan's battleaxe.

The heroes emerge from the sewers to find Oden waiting for them in an alley. Oden leads them through the back door into the store room of the Tannheim Inn, Oden's business in the city of Shuul. The heroes are introduced to Oden's nephew, Haklaz, and the entire group discusses the mission to the Halls of Tannheim.

Oden explains that he and Haklaz are the last living members of the Tannheim clan. They have only recently learned of the lost halls and that the halls were overrun by evil over one hundred years ago. Apparently, the dwarven clan of Tannheim was wiped out in a single night by some great evil monstrosity. Pyros and Holy Man both recall hearing rumors of the "lost forges of the dwarves". Pyros says he's heard that wondrous gems reside in a great statue placed in the center of the halls magnificent throne room. The Holy Man mentions that the halls are ruled by a terrible undead lich who is tormented by his misdeeds in life, and that to release the lich from his undeath, the ancient forges of the halls must be relit.

Oden goes on to say that he has an unknown disease and his health may not endure for long. His dying wish is to reclaim the lost halls for his people. Oden gives the heroes the rights to any treasure discovered, in return for their solemn oaths to purge the halls of any remaining evil. Oden then reveals a rough map of the region surrounding the city-state of Shuul. To the north and east are the bleak spires of the Wyrmfang Mountains, and directly east are the wide and barren Salt Flats of Paj. The Halls of Tannheim rest in the foothills of the mountains some three day's travel north-east.

Lastly, as a token of their goodwill to the heroes, Oden and Haklaz provide them with two weapons: a frost battleaxe for Conan and a staff of fiery might for Pyros. In addition, Oden provides basic equipment and provisions for a two-week sojourn in the wilds.

The heroes decide to flee the city quickly as undoubtedly Radix Dragonclaw's henchmen will be looking for the escaped prisoners. Before they leave, however, the heroes break into a caravan beast-pen to steal several dengaar--riding lizards commonly used as mounts in the Wastelands. Now equipped for their journey to the lost halls, the heroes stealthily make their way out of Shuul and into the dry, barren lands northeast of Radix's dreaded city-state.

Toward the end of their first day of travel, the heroes come upon a small clearing in the foothills of the Wyrmfang Mountains. In the clearing is a thin, gnarled old tree, and some short, rough grass--the first vegetation the heroes have seen since leaving the city--and a ring of stones which served as a fire pit. Beside the fire pit is a torn backpack, a scattered pile of bones and a broken scimitar and bow. Searching through the clearing the heroes discover some gold and a gemstone, as well as a small circular amulet and a torn piece of parchment. The amulet is a black disk on a leather cord and is crudely engraved with a symbol. Pyros and the Holy Man recognize it as the device of a being known as the Mountain King. The Mountain King, they reveal to the rest of the heroes, is a mysterious and evil warlord-king who resides in the Wyrmfang Mountains, and he is known as rival of Radix Dragonclaw.

Suddenly, the heroes are surprised by tough, thick vines shooting up out of the ground. Two of them are snared by the vicious vines of a vine horror! Before their eyes, the gnarled, thin tree moves to attack again, revealing its true nature.

The captured heroes escape the evil tendrils of the vine horror, and they lay several savage blows upon it when from behind some rocks jumps a horrific-looking spider! Bolvarr takes the brunt of the deathjump spider's fury for several moments, and just as Pyros manages to move his flaming sphere over to help the tiefling rogue, a large shadowy-winged bat swoops down and lashes the eladrin wizard with its wicked tail!

The heroes are in a pitched battle for their lives! Conan the fighter and Holy Man the cleric take on the vine horror, while Bolvarr and Pyros struggle with the shadowhunter bat and deathjump spider. Fortunately, the vine horror is slain by the humans, and they are then able to turn the tide of battle against the deathjump spider, which is quickly defeated. The shadowhunter bat continues to swoop down upon Pyros, but several well-placed magic missiles finally destroy the shadowy fell beast.

Tending their wounds, the heroes continue to examine the items they found while searching before the attack. The parchment sheet turns out to be a hastily drawn map of the immediate vicinity. Scrawled on the map is the location of a place called Kuthaka's Tomb. Pyros recognizes the name Kuthaka. He was an infamous elementalist wizard who presumably died over one-hundred years ago. Kuthaka was a close confidant of Eternal Overlord Godric of the City-State of Kreth. Kreth is the greatest and most powerful city-state in the Wastelands, located many hundreds of miles northeast of Shuul and the Salt Flats of Paj. Etaernal Overlord Godric has ruled Kreth for as long as anyone can remember, and Kuthaka was cast out of the city-state under mysterious circumstances. No one knows what ever happened to him.

Based on the clues found in the clearing, the heroes surmise that a scout for the mysterious evil Mountain King discovered the location of Kuthaka's Tomb, and was killed by the vine horror before he could return to his master. Oden Tannheim's vague warnings of Radix Dragonclaw "enlisting" bloodbath champions in to his service, combined with Oden's ability to bust the heroes out of prison, combined with the apparent scouting of the area by the Mountain King lead the heroes to believe they've landed themselves in the middle of a race to uncover the secrets of the lost dwarven Halls of Tannheim.

The heroes wonder about Kuthaka's Tomb and how it fits into the puzzle. Determined to find out its connection to the Halls of Tannheim and the apparent conflict between Radix Dragonclaw and the Mountain King, the heroes set off in search of Kuthaka's Tomb.

And so the story shall continue ...
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Did I tell ye how much I hate those damnable Drugar?
We are still on the trail of the missing folks from Duran Keep. Even if they were a followin’ that Red Lady cult, I guess the town still want’s em back. We think they have been sold into slavery (which some may say is a just end, but eh. Not fer me to decide). Thars pay involved, and I figure I’ve gone this far into the adventure – might as well finish it.

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Tomb of Kath...what a ?
Bolvarr needs a healer. His mind is going...not that he will argue the sudden appearence of a lifestealing sword in hand... but he is a bit worried that he doesn't remember acquiring such a sword or raiding anyone's tomb. Perhaps epicwords is scribing from the future and said adventure is still to take place, or perhaps Bolvarr wrenched said sword from the hands of an evil lich in K's Tomb... and well, got into that vat of wine of potency that was part of the treasure horde and thus has lost his memory....again. Where's medival AA when you need them.
Last I checked we just beat up a vine horror and some bat thingy with spidy buddy. We took our time but still kicked some A. So in the hallowed terms of Odin rickenbocker, What up? (with the sword and treasure)?
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