Hole in the Ground

Session the Second

Session 2. A nice long session this week, framed by the late arrival of Late Dave the player of Spellvoc Evoc and the consumption of enough chicken to choke the Tarrasque. This week’s nerd debate: Which is the worse film Kull the Conqueror or John Carpenter’s Vampires? Answers on a postcard.

So we picked up with our heroes having battled a fearsome Centipede From Hell and preparing to enter the mysterious underground complex. Aramel’s elven ears immediately sniffed out a secret door, beyond which a sneaky little thing was found to have been spying on the group’s entry via peephole. The horrid thing was not quite a Halfling, and neither mole nor fly, and probably not a byakhee. This mongrel of a creature attempted to flee while mumbling “No kill Jeb! No kill!” The mighty and honourable Barang was having no truck with the poor creature’s feeble cowering not fooled by the obvious treachery of the foul monster and demanded that it do battle. Seeing no escape the creature ‘Jeb’ lunged forward with a mighty eye poke, earning itself a swift filleting on Barangs greatsword. Spellvoc Evoc, warmage and PETA member was not amused by this, especially when he discovered the chains that had kept poor Jeb a prisoner in the hidden room.

This led to a heated debate on the ethics of killing horrid things in dungeons vs. parlaying with potentially friendly things. A debate settled by Barang declaring Spellvoc Evoc to be a [expletive deleted] and stomping off to find more things to stab.

And so the party moved on, entering a large chamber dominated by a stone skull carved out of glittering stone and bearing a message upon it’s brow.
“You’ve taken the bait and entered my lair/ Now wander the halls and pray that I’m fair/ Welcome and well met to the grim jest of Tybor/ Deposit your will here, whomever they be for”
This of course drew much derisive mockery from the assembled heroes, along with a silent vow from Tuvorok to find and slay the wretched poet responsible. Dwarves being renowned for their utter hatred of crap rhymes.

While the group investigated a door leading off into a curiously perfumed chamber, Spellvoc remained behind to study the skull, curious as to its purpose. So of course he was all alone when the guards showed up. Surprisingly sneaky for pig-faced creatures with the build of a Led Airship roadie, the Orcs narrowly missed turning the poor warmage into a dartboard with a volley of javelins.

Spellvoc shouted for help before returning fire, thankfully being joined by his companions who together made short work of the snouty greenskins. Following the fight, the group assisted Spellvoc in opening up the large skull and recovered several potion vials and a fragile parchment from the hollow he had found under its jaw.

Moving on, the group investigated such legendary sites as the orcish privy chamber, a few empty halls and debated heading down a flight of stairs. In the end they agreed on avoiding said descent, down often meaning terrible doom for novice adventurers.

And so they found themselves confronted by a rusted iron door, decorated with the graven image of a snarling demon. Which was promptly kicked in by mighty Barang. The room beyond bore a stone face carved into the wall, and a table strewn with bric-a-brac. None of our heroes were in the least surprised when the face began to speak, stone faces being known for this kind of behaviour. The wall was in fact, an elemental prince bound in ages past by the wizard Tybor, or so it claimed. Imprisoned within the wall until it’s true name was spoken, the elementals knowledge of that name had been removed by the wizard, with a few clues left on the table to taunt the poor entity.

Spellvoc being a lover of riddles and puzzles immediately set about becoming frustrated by the bizarre clues while his companions heroically stood around, added to the orcish graffiti and had a bit of a bite to eat. Sadly the epic challenge proved beyond our heroes, although Tuvorok was more than happy to point out that beating up monsters would surely elevate him in Clangeddins favour to the point that he could magically discern the name of the bound elemental. Not that he was especially inclined to do so, because walls that talk are as annoying as rhymes to a Dwarf.

Truly Tuvorok is a font of dwarvish wisdom, educating us all in the ways of his people. Barang having spent his life in chains is learning much of his people from the priest.

Once again Spellvoc remained behind to ponder the riddle while his acquaintances booted open another door to see what else they could bugger about with mighty challenges awaited them beyond the sealed portal.

Thin pipe music assaulted their ears from the next chamber, with a ragged looking mongrel creature playing a set of pan pipes for the entertainment of a writhing trio of vipers. Obviously related to the foul monster ‘Jeb’ this beast would prove just as treacherous, and so our heroes bravely shot it in the back. For Clangeddin! For Mystra! For justice. Huzzah! They then courageously engaged the vipers in battle, a short lived affair ending in victory once more.

It was then that the heroes discovered the hanging forms of a dozen people, suspended from the ceiling by strange magically cooled hooks and chains. Lowering the people down, they found them comatose but otherwise healthy. Soon after being removed from the hooks, the prisoners began to wake up, though it didn’t take long to determine that they were both blind and somewhat vacant mentally- almost like golems or other constructs according to the spellcasters of the party.

Realising they could hardly leave the people here, nor traipse round the halls with a dozen blind folks in tow, the group decided to head back to Shadowdale and see what could be done…

As the group discussed their options, a tall half-elven fellow was nominated by the prisoners as their ‘spokeself’ and explained that each of them was native to the Dales, most of them from Shadowdale. They had all been snatched from home, but could remember almost nothing about what happened. Some had been snatched recently- the Widow Sara only a day before, while others had been here a long time if their dates were accurate. Strangely, while they seemed capable of conversation the prisoners reacted to instruction as if they had no free will or motivation of their own.

Navigating the dungeon halls, narrow Gibberling tunnels and climb up the sinkhole was far from easy with the bizarrely afflicted townsfolk in tow, but after several hours of careful handling the party and their new entourage were sitting uncomfortably in the Widow Sara’s sitting room.

While the group decided the best thing to do was sleep off the night and return to town in the morning, Barang was having none of that, slung the Widow Sara over his shoulder and tromped off up the road. Figuring that restraining the Dwarf would only result in a fight, the group let him go and took side bets on whether or not he’d be eaten by Owlbears en route.

Luckily high summer is Owlbear mating season, so there would be no chance of running into one so near a town for a while. Unless it was a particularly frustrated and lonely Owlbear of course.

Barang soon arrived back in town and learned a new fact. People sleep at night, which means they all go to bed and close up their businesses and front doors. How strange. So he decided on a course of action and pounded on the pub door until somebody answered. That somebody proved to be the young barman, Jhaele who was somewhat intimidated to find a grimy bloodsoaked Dwarf on his stoop, carrying an old lady. Barang soon put the lad’s mind at rest, explaining the situation calmly and easily. He and his friends had rescued the Widow Sara and he wanted a drink. Jhaele could just head up to bed, no worries. And by the way, was anyone else here? Or was it just the two of them? Alone? Well except for the sword of course.

Surprisingly the young lad was a tad intimidated by Barang, especially this last line of questioning. Not that Barang put much stock in Jhael’s insistence that the entire town guard were just upstairs and ready to jump into action. Jhael suddenly bursting into terrified tears was a bit off-putting though. Thankfully the misunderstanding was cleared up with the application of vast amounts of alcohol, and Barang made himself a new friend. Huzzah!

Next morning the rest of the group arrived, afflicted townsfolk in tow, gathering quite the crowd. With people recognising loved ones and friends, the rescued prisoners were gathered up and taken to the local temples to see what could be done for them. Our heroes meanwhile, were taken to see Lord Mourngrym, the ruler of Shadowdale in his fancy tower.

Lord Mourngrym turned out to be quite a reasonable fellow, happy to hear how his townsfolk had been rescued from the dungeons below town and even happier to strike an accord with the group. Having a dungeon under a town is worse for trade than a shark in the bay, so for a nominal reward the group agreed to explore the dungeon complex and determine how great a threat the inhabitants posed. And of course to stab monsters, loot treasure and generally poke around in the dark for a bit.

The agreement settled with wine and a fancy charter, the group spent their day shopping and preparing for their next jaunt underground. Spellvoc spent most of this time in Mourngrym’s library poring over ancient histories and stories to see what he could find out about elemental princes and the names thereof.

And so, fed, paid and rested, the heroic and as yet unnamed band ventured back into the underground halls of Tybor’s Dungeon, the so-called Grim Jest.

The exploration of the halls led the group back to the descending stairs, which they again turned away from in favour of bursting into the barracks of the Orc guards! A swift scrap saw Spellvoc valiantly charge into melee with an Orc warrior, and just as valiantly get run through for his troubles. Aramel nearly found himself cut down but was able to avoid a sudden stabbing and instead do his foe the favour of ridding him of a few ugly pounds of fat. Aramel then hit upon the cunning plan of putting the Orc corpses into their beds so it looked like they were sleeping rather than dead. A cunning plan that was not even remotely serial killer like in any way at all Spellvoc noted.

With the Orcs dead and looted, Tuvorok insisted on heading back to the stairs to see where they led and a quick vote led to the party following along.

The stairs twisted down into a chamber featuring a large well and several sneering (but thankfully inanimate) gargoyles. As the party entered, they were greeted by an illusion of a tall wizard. Obviously a wizard since nobody else would wear a forked beard, outrageously flared collar and skullcap, surely? His smug greeting of “Ho and well met fools. I am Tybor, master of this place and your demise shall entertain me greatly” was met with such mocking derision and heroic snark that had Tybor been present in the flesh his ears would have curdled. Poor Tybor, sometimes a crazy dungeon building wizard just needs to hear a friendly word. Sigh.

The mockery done, Barang stuck his head in the well and found it to be deeper than his Dwarvish darkvision could penetrate. So the obvious plan was to tie off some rope and have his fellow delvers lower him into the darkness. Down he descended, past a stinking series of privy drains, past a small opening full of glowing eyes and tiny tentacles, down to the very bottom over a hundred feet below. The stinking pools of sulphuric liquid didn’t give Barang pause, nor the bone strewn floor of what appeared to be a natural cavern of immense size. The skulking beast with the heads of a goat, lion and dragon however? That did bother him a little. Even moreso when he took in it’s multiple stinger tipped serpent tails.

Barang made the hundred foot climb back up the rope in record time. “Yeah. No. Not that way. Bad idea”.

So back up the stairs they went, at which point Spellvoc decided a map might be handy. Ten minutes of mapping proved to be a task best left to others however, and so our heroes ventured forth according to the traditional rule of dungeoneers everywhere. Always go left.

Left led them through the Orc barracks, where Spellvoc noted that the Orcs in bed were still creepy. The next room had been partially barricaded, with one door barred and bearing the Evil Eye of Gruumsh- an Orc warning of hideous mutilation beyond. Wisely heading the other way, the group discovered a door barricaded with spears and Orc graffiti warning of ‘Untrusty Dwarf Scum’ beyond to one side, and a plush sitting room to the other.

Dungeons not being known for their fancy boudoirs (unless a Medusa is involved), Spellvoc and his friends buddies those guys who keep wandering off and leaving him behind decided to investigate. A fine painting of the becollared and smugly smiling Tybor hung over a fireplace warming a room full of comfy cushions, fine wines and a small library, joined by trays of fruit and sweetmeats which appeared as the group entered. Our heroes sighed in vague annoyance as the painting animated and spoke in poorly composed rhyme “So well you have fared/To come so far/So much you have dared/And tired you are. Rest, eat, you can die on the morrow.” Tuvorok’s oath to severely reprimand Tybor for his painful works was reaffirmed, though with considerably more muttering this time.

Heading back to the door marked with anti-Dwarf propaganda, the group heaved it open and found a wide set of stone steps descending into darkness. Estimating that the stairs would take them down maybe three floors, Barang spat on the floor and vowed to find something worthy of his sword below.

And so down they went…

That’s it for this instalment of poorly written adventure theatre, more to come this Thursday if anyone cares. Or even if they don’t.

Same axe time! Same axe channel!

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PeteWhalley

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