Hole in the Ground

Session the Fourth

Session 4. Finally, after what felt like forever we got back together and threw some dice. Huzzah!

When we left our heroes, they were in the process of looking into using the foul tome recovered from Tybor’s Dungeon and the magical gemstone found with it to restore the stolen souls of several villagers they had previously rescued.

Sunlord Munro, elaborately sideburned priest of Lathander and Tuvorok spent the night poring over the tome and deciphering what they could of it’s hideous secrets. The translation of the book proved beyond the pair’s skills, and so Tuvorok decided it was time to call on Elminster, the crotchety, debt welching, farmer’s wife seducing old rascal of Shadowdale. The path to the sage’s tower was adorned with an array of dopey signs promising pit traps on the path, froggy transformation and even a caged frog alleged to be an annoying adventurer left outside as an example to solicitors, callers, and especially mendicant priests. Elminster hates mendicant priests. Nobody knows why.

Regardless of such menacing warnings, Tuvorok steeled his loins and hammered upon the door to the tower.
p. Aramel and Erik chose to watch from afar, neither being inclined to spend life as a fly catching amphibian. After a further knocking, the door was answered by a rather gawpy looking ginger lad clad in a cook’s apron and armed with a greasy spatula, who identified himself as Lhaeo, scribe and apprentice to the great Elminster. Tuvorok growled out the situation with the poor villagers and the Tome of Nasty Evil What We Found, and then stood waiting on an answer when Lhaeo ducked back inside to speak with Old El’.

After being kept waiting long enough to be considered rude, Lhaeo returned with a bundle of scrolls, a leather bound folio and a wax paper bundle of bacon butties. The former items to help decipher the book, the latter to apologise for being kept waiting.

Returing to the temple of Lathander while munching on bacon the group discussed what a weirdo Elminster was and whether he could be trusted or not. Thankfully, his scrolls proved most efficacious* and the ritual of soul stealing was found within the pages, though sadly it turned out that the reversal ritual would require more magical power than they could muster alone.

And so the local priests of Chauntea and Tymora were talked into lending aid, even if that did mean suffering through an overly preachy breakfast with the former and one too many philosophy debates between the latter and Sunlord Munro.

p. The afternoon having been consumed by research, the evening was spent talking over terms with the three priests and a slap up dinner feast provided by the temple of Chauntea. It was during said dinner that a devout worshipper of Lathander introduced himself to our heroes and proposed an alliance of sorts. Going by the obviously fake name Kirk Nemoy, this roguish individual was not only armed with a ludicrous two bladed sword, but also had the haunted look of a man with a past, a destiny and a tale of woe to tell.

Said woe was related to the vampire plague currently making life miserable for the folk of Daggerdale, an impressive feat considering how cruddy life already was for the Zhent occupied dale. Nemoy had vowed to quest for the legendary Sword of the Dales, put an end to the vampire menace and oust the Banite priests and slavers of the Black Network from his home. Assuming that he could live longer than poor Spellvoc, to whom he bore a vague resemblance in a certain light.

Since he seemed rather trustworthy, and three being an odd number, the group invited Kirk Nemoy to saddle up and join them in their antics, with a vague promise to help him stab vampires at an unspecified later date.

The next morning everybody woke before dawn, and began preparations for the spell casting, gathering the soul-stolen villagers in the temple of Lathander and arranging the relics of the three churches to aid in the casting. As the priests would be performing the ritual, Sir Erik suggested the group stand guard in case of magical treachery or accident during the casting, to which all present assented. Even young Aleena, acolyte of the temple of Lathander stood guard with her aspergillum gripped tight, her eyes on Sir Erik throughout, though the paladin had higher matters on his mind than the affections of the young priestess.

As the priests began the ritual, magical light flooded the chamber from the gemstone, battling the rising sun for dominance and threatening to blind the watching heroes as the chanting of the priests rose to the heavens.

It was at that moment that the sudden, and yet fortunately expected betrayal occurred as the laughter of Tybor resounded through the chamber! The adventurers and priests alike found themselves drawn into the gemstone momentarily, the walls of a vast extra-planar maze forming from the air around them…only to be torn down in a blaze of magical energy and burning spellfire! It was Sir Erik, arms outstretched and his voice raised to his patron Mystra who drew the magical trap into his very spirit, the raw energies of the weave surrounding him as he risked his life to save all present.

As the magical storm subsided it became apparent that only Tuvorok and Sunlord Munro had understood the events, while the others were awed by what they saw as divine intervention on their behalf…awe that was doubled when they realised the ritual had worked. The villagers were whole again, plain to all by the emotions and weeping thanks they gave to the priests and heroes who had saved their lives and now their souls.

*[By Vancian law, every appearance of an archmage must be accompanied by a modicum of pompous language]

With the good people of Shadowdale restored to soul having health, the obvious course of action was to have a bit of a knees up and a few drinks. And so the afternoon, evening, night and a bit of the early morning was spent with the villagers and our heroes enjoying the merriment.

And Tuvorok getting as utterly wellied as only a Dwarf can.

Next morning saw the village blanketed in a thick grey mist, slow to burn off in the dawn sun the mist seemed to flow almost eagerly around those who walked out in it. For a brief moment Aramel swore that he had seen a young elf maid beckoning to him, but when she faded with the mist he shook off the eerie feelings the image had conjured up.

Joined by his companions, Aramel set out to the ruined basement deep in the thickets and the opening into Tybor’s Dungeon in search of more things to stab, steal, and perhaps set on fire a bit.

Delving down to the familiar halls and chambers of the upper level, the group decided to investigate a previously ignored stair descending into the darkness. Another of Tybor’s odious rhymes was set into a statue of the wizard himself, all slicked widow’s peak and smug smile. “A gift for your host/else you’ll descend swifter than most” The statue’s outstretched hand bore a smooth slot, as if awaiting a deposit of some sort.

The rookie Kirk Nemoy was quick witted enough to spot a cunning slide trap built into the stairs, easily disabled by feeding a coin into the palm of Tybor’s statue. Clearly the dread wizard was raking it in through dungeon based scams Tuvorok noted, with a silent note to smash the statue up for loose change at a later date.

Down the stairs the group muscled their way past a spiked portcullis, noting the deeply unpleasant placement of the device had they fallen victim to the slide trap. Not that they had long to ponder that matter as a pair of snarling skeletal rottweillers came bounding eagerly towards them, jaws snapping at their tender flesh! Tuvorok stood firm and sent the undead monsters fleeing as he called upon Clangeddin to turn them away- and his companions followed behind to smash the cowering Undeadogs into loose bones.

Meanwhile, using the sound of battle as cover, a lone scrawny pot-helmed Duergar had snuck up on the group. Stanky cigar clenched in his jaw, he nodded for them to surrender and explain their presence. And also that they’d be expected to pay for the dogs. Moments before tensions boiled over, Tuvorok pointed out that they knew Cask and were allies of a sort. “Ah well, in that case I’ll tell Bert not to mess ye up” replied the Gray Dwarf and shook his head in the direction of Aramel, who was somewhat surprised to find a 9’ tall invisible Duergar stood behind him.

And so rather than another round of violence, the group joined their Duergar hosts Jim and Bert for a quick brew and a chat in the ajoining guard room. The Duergar were put out to hear the news of Doppelganger chicanery and Cask’s promotion to Underlord, and explained in that particular world weary guardsman manner that they had been on Orc patrol down on this level for months now. They’d even recruited an ally to patch up the old library just a few yards down the hall, but if Cask was in charge then they were going to quit and head down to the fortress and see what was what.

And so they packed up and buggered off. Pausing only to note wryly that they had captured an Elf and locked him up downstairs- throwing the keys to the group as they departed. Said Elf turned out to be a cowering wreck of a bard, long since having given up hope of rescue. He gladly embraced the group, or tried to at least…Aramel was somewhat loathe to ‘be all Elfy’ in front of his friends, but happy enough to escort the rescued bard to the surface and send him packing sharpish. “Last thing we want is him singing down here after all” being his reasoning. Having gotten rid of the unfortunate Elven fellow, the group poked around a few chambers, eventually coming to a choice between a grim hallway decorated to resemble a demonic maw lit by smoky torches and smelling like the pit itself, or a pleasantly decorated oaken door carved to look like a woodland scene.

Obviously the door would be the most dangerous route of all according to Nemoy and Sir Erik, so they were quite surprised when a voice shouted for them to “Come in if you’re coming, bugger off if not!” from the other side. (Of the door. Not the Other Side). Tuvorok being Tuvorok, he of course barged straight in, serious face at the ready to see what was going on through the door.

What he found was a chaotic chamber that could possibly be called a library if one was feeling charitable about the bric-a-brac stacked mix of scrolls, books, assorted junk and swarming rats scattered across rotting and sagging shelves. The speaker presented himself from behind one such stack, a tweed waistcoat over leather armour combined with his elf-like ears and outrageously whiskered chin, beady eyes and ratty nose left the group momentarily confused as to just what he was. Seemingly used to gawkers and rude stares the scrawny fellow nodded at the group and introduced himself as “Sly Withers, freelance thingummyjig. Librarian for now, fancy a wine?” as he brushed a few rats out of goblets and poured some rancid looking vinegar out for all to taste.

Sly it turned out, was a former resident of a subterranean community called Lowtown. A refuge for ne’er-do-wells, ruffians, exiles and underdark merchants from which he had recently done a runner due to ‘unfortunate circumstances’ only to fall in with the Duergar and settle in as librarian for a while. He’d picked up quite a bit of info and lore from the various sources found in this room over the months.

For instance, down the demonic hall just outside was the prison of a Frost Giant prince bound several hundred years ago by Tybor following a war between the wizard’s minions and the Giant clans of the Thunder Peaks. This caught Tuvorok’s notice, and he made a note to go and kill the Giant soon, what with him being a Dwarf and so obviously a deeply racist courageous individual where Giants, Orcs and other monster types are concerned.

Further, it seemed possible that Sly might know the name of the Elemental bound upstairs. Indeed he did it transpired, and he’d part with the information for the low price of not being killed, plus a thousand gold. The price seeming fair, the group haggled him down to not being killed right now, with no guarantees as to being killed at a later point, plus a grand and they shook hands on the deal. Rather than gold, Aramel turned over the gemstone from which the souls of Shadowdale’s villagers had been extracted (supposedly now non-magical but worth plenty to those in the magic biz), and Sly gave them the name ‘Antemoch’ for the Elemental.

And so upstairs they plodded to see if they could now set the entity loose from the wall. As they entered the chamber within which she was bound, the group paused and took stock of what might occur…or most of them did as Tuvorok booted the door in and shouted “Your name is Antemoch, now sod off!”

When the room started to shake they got a little bit nervous. Dust fell from the roof as the huge face emerged from the wall, and kept coming…the wall itself splitting as the roof caved in, the floor tore open into a rough chasm and the group were surrounded by brick dust and shards of wall. As swiftly as it started, the quaking stopped and the dust cloud resolved itself into a particulate cloud in the vague form of a shapely woman.

“Thank you. A thousand times thank you, my freedom long desired has been granted and so I grant you a boon. A touch of ancient wisdom now, and if you should find the city Sigil then seek me out there for further reward.” And with that the entity was gone from the world. As she departed, each of the assembled heroes found their minds filled with forgotten lore, ancient combat techniques and elemental secrets, all serving to grant them mastery over their own skills as if they had spent months in training.

As they recovered from the mind whammy they were hailed from above. Young Jhaele from the Old Skull Inn was peering in the gaping crack in the ceiling. Apparently the quake had opened up a passage from the dungeon straight into Shadowdale Village.

Well that couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. Right?

Next time, we meet several orcs. Tuvorok nearly gets killed by a dungeon chicken. And Kirk Nemoy attempts to disarm some poop

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PeteWhalley

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