Entry 6. 12th day of Tarsakh, 1492 DR.
Lamb backs away from the door as the moaning reaches a crescendo and the ghostly figure of a dwarf in wizard’s robes emerges through it. An overwhelming aura of fear washes over the Company and Homte gets the feeling his grave robbing chickens are coming home to roost, prompting a bleating, “I didn’t touch them!”
The ghost is unmoved and bellows an imperious command in dwarven that is countered by a rather polite interjection by Alwin that none of them speak the language.
“LEAVE” comes the translation from the apparition.
“Fuck it”, comes the response from Lamb, who, with no clue how to deal with an angry ghost, reverts to type and leaps forward unleashing a mighty swing. His enchanted blade bites into the ectoplasm; the decisive action shakes his colleagues from their indecision and in short order the Company are unloading an impressive amount of aggression on the spectre.
Homte’s guilty fear fades to confidence as his rapier (newly dubbed Celery) also proves effective, then returns as the ghost rises out of reach and disappears through the ceiling.
“We need to finish it off”, the gnome insists, probably out of deep rooted instinct to eliminate witnesses, as the Company advance into the hallway. Following the sound of moaning from the west corridor, Homte goes ahead and methodically checks the first two doors that reveal only ransacked and long derelict living quarters. Third time’s the charm though, as six dwarven skeletons rise from the floor and charge.
This time some semblance of tactics are followed and Homte swiftly retreats back to where the Company has formed a defensive line in the hallway. The skeletons are much quicker than anticipated, however, and they close upon the group’s ranged specialists before Thanatos and Lamb can form an effective screen. The fight devolves into swirling mêlée that leaves Alwin isolated and surrounded.
Desperately fending off attacks from front and rear, the druid’s position becomes critical as the ghost materialises from the wall next to him. As spectral hands begin to drain his life force the ghost snarls, “I told you to leave”
Seeing Alwin transform into bear shape but still sorely pressed, Balkris and Lamb work together to break the skeletons line, but although they make an opening, the Northman is unable to reach the druid, and worse, finds himself in the line Veth’s of dragon fire spell.
Veth locks gazes with Lamb across the brawl; the berserker snarls a forceful, “Do it” through a tight grin and the sorcerer unleashes a cone of fire fifteen feet long.
Lamb explodes from the firestorm, smouldering but laughing, to reach a relieved Alwin as Shadow and Thanatos cut down the burning skeletons.
The ghost dissipates with a shriek of anger when struck by a magic missile from Veth and the corridor falls silent.
“Fuck opening anymore doors” is Alwin’s terse comment as the Company gather their breath.
“C’mon,” Homte wheedles, “Might as well open the last door. Where there’s monsters, there’s treasure.”
Alwin remains firm that the group should pause and is backed up by Balkris, only now shaking off the paralysing fear he felt in the face of the ghost, and adamant they should retire to a room with no furniture.
The group retreat to the council chambers to tend their wounds but are perturbed to hear the sound of hammering begin again. Tensions begin to rise as Homte entreats Alwin for additional magical healing that is testily refused and Balkris informs the party that whilst meditating, his deep connection with nature has revealed the close proximity of undead, dragons and unnatural aberrations.
Patched up as best they can the Company returns to search the living quarters. Homte looks on in envy as Alwin discovers a bulging purse of silver and in a moment of sympathy the druid passes the gnome a healing goodberry. Lamb’s admonishment to save it for a life threatening moment is met by Homte’s most winsome smile as he pops the fruit into his mouth.
The final door opens to reveal the site of the dwarfs’ last stand against the orc invaders. The long chamber, clearly once a shrine to the dwarf gods, has been desecrated by a terrific battle. Upon the altar at the far end lies the plate armoured body of a dwarf, surrounded by the skeletal remains of countless orcs.
Veth spies the intact desiccated body of an orc at the foot of the altar and, sensing the opportunity for profitable decapitation, surges ahead.
Predictably, the orc wight creakily rises to its feet as Veth approaches and moves to greet him with a wicked looking longsword. With a hiss of command, the bones of two fallen ogres rise to block the advance of the main body to assist the sorcerer.
Thanatos and Lamb engage the ogres whilst Balkris issues a draconic order to Shadow. The panther bounds over the rumble of shattered stone benches and crosses distance to the wight in a blink. Although the cat’s fearsome pounce is shrugged off by the undead orc, the quicksilver assault buys Veth the time to dart to one side of the chamber.
Homte sees that he is squarely in the sights of the wight, executes a shimmy, dummy and sidestep that culminates in a sliding dive across the altar to the far side, Celery flashing out to strike as he does so. Safely in cover he is disturbed to find he is face to face with the body of the dwarven king. With a quick, “Don’t you move” to the cadaver, the gnome ducks down.
Deciding to fight like with like, Veth retrieves Nightcaller from his robes and raises the crystal whistle to his lips.
The shrill tone is drowned out by Homte’s terrified scream as Durgeddin, long dead king of the dwarves, rises to his feet to take his vengeance on his slayer.
As the wight lashes out at the retreating Shadow, it is enveloped in burning moon light by Alwin and silvery flames ignite across its armour. Lamb is rocked back on his heels by blow from a gigantic maul whilst Thanatos explodes into a whirlwind of flashing blades.
The wight shrugs off Durgeddin’s axe blows to advance inexorably toward Veth as Homte scurries behind the sorcerer. Withering in the barrage of magical fire and energy from Veth, the wight is unable to land a telling blow before Homte, emerging from behind the half-elf’s skirts like a hideous geriatric child, darts forward to sink Celery hilt deep into its undead chest. The enchanted blade severs the necromantic connection to the material plane and the abomination collapses with a hiss.
Alwin moves to reinforce Thanatos in the nick of time as a sweeping blow almost knocks the tiefling off his feet. The druid’s magic imbued staff has a devastating effect on the ogre’s bones and Thanatos uses the respite gained to get his second wind.
Balkris and Lamb are efficiently whittling away at their foe when it suddenly collapses to reveal a grinning Homte standing behind it. He meets Lamb’s murderous scowl and snarled, “Don’t spoil my fun” with a wiggle of eyebrows. The rogue salutes with a flourish of Celery as the barbarian hurtles past him to finish the last ogre skeleton.
Veth beats him to the punch, however, and the last undead explodes in a bolt of fire.
The search for loot commences as Homte inspects the zombie Durgeddin and offers a mocking bow. Veth maintains the dwarf king would want to cleanse the rest of his former domain and the enchantment should be maintained. Lamb looks on with jaw clenched and appears distinctly unconvinced.
The discovery of a sack of gold distracts the group from considerations of necromancy, but Veth’s inspection of two scrolls recovered brings other tensions to a head.
Their identification as spell scrolls of Web and Spiderclimb elicits a terse, “Didn’t we have one of those?” from Lamb.
Blithely oblivious to the jibe, Homte’s casual “I’ll look after those” as he grabs the parchments is too much for Alwin.
The half-elf’s vociferous, “If you sell them, we get a cut” engenders a furious argument between druid and gnome.
Homte’s position that anything in his possession is his to dispose of is forcefully pointed out by Alwin to be completely at odds with the Articles of Agreement the Company members drew up. The gnome’s insistence on his belief enrages the druid.
Seeing no allies to his point of view amongst the company, Homte waves off Alwin with a casual, “Whatever you say”, that the insightful druid immediately recognises as false.
Before matters escalate further Veth brokers a truce with a suggestion that the discussion is shelved until the Company return to civilisation.
The Company move to explore the eastern hallway. The rooms to the north of the corridor are another succession of looted living quarters, but a room to the south is of more interest.
Unlike the others, the door to this room is intact and opens to revel the bedroom of an important dwarf – the rich tapestries, rug and bed inside pristine. Lamb surmises this may have been the ghost’s lair, explaining why it is untouched, but the others are more suspicious.
Mentally scarred by his experience with the homicidal kitchen table, Balkris is convinced there is evil furniture afoot. Spooked by Balkris’ paranoia, Homte refuses to search the room until the rug is checked. The ranger is more than happy to puncture the perfidious carpet with an arrow, and shoots the table and bed too, just to be sure. No reaction is drawn from the fittings and a cautious search of the room locates a chest and bountiful haul of coins.
Lamb watches Homte as the gnome unwraps a square of silk to reveal a star sapphire as big as his fist and two matching blue topazes. The Northman narrows his eyes and nods to Alwin as the gnome pockets the gems, but remains silent. Alwin, for his part, makes a show of handing over a handful of coins he has discovered to the party pot.
The end of the corridor opens into the site of another large battle in what was a common area. The remains of more dwarves and several dozen orcs are scattered across the room. Veth hopefully speculates, “Do you think they’ll count an orc skull as an orc head?” but is firmly dissuaded from further macabre collecting.
The corridor continues on east for a short distance before turning sharply south. To the east of the junction is another door in good condition.
As Homte unlocks the door a feminine voice calls out for help from inside. The Company identify themselves as adventurers and cautiously invite the speaker to step outside.
A human female with long black hair nervously emerges and her dishevelled clothing detracts not at all from her obvious good looks.
Struck by the incongruity of the woman’s presence the Company are immediately suspicious. A tentative attempt at flirtation with Lamb is met with stony silence and Alwin and Veth start asking questions.
After introducing herself as Idella, the woman explains that she was abducted from nearby Blasingdale several days ago and warns the Company that her captor is a wizard who has been testing potions on her.
In response to their questioning, Idella states that she was captured alone (so not with the orc’s prisoners) and that the wizard in question is human (so not the dwarf ghost wizard, a necromancer?), goes below for components and has mentioned a dragon.
As Lamb moves to inspect the room Idella has vacated, Alwin addresses him in Elven, “Do you believe her?” As Lamb subtly shakes his head, Alwin sees no flicker of recognition from Idella.
When Homte asks about Blasingdale, Idella refers to the Mayor as Sir Richard Broderick. Thanatos and Alwin share a look as both recall the Mayor’s first name to be Miles, Alwin alerting Veth and Lamb in Elven, “that’s not his name.”
Trying a different tack, Veth tells Idella she is free to go and that the Company have cleared the way to the surface for her (skipping over the matter of camouflaged troglodytes).
Idella is, perhaps reasonably, reluctant to leave alone and asks the group to accompany her, but is told by Veth that they still have business here.
Taking his lead from Veth, Homte decides to use similarly subtle approach. Casually guiding Idella away from her room, he quietly intones a spell to charm her into a friendly disposition that makes hostile actions against them impossible.
As he gently takes hold of her shoulder, Homte is certain that the spell has been a success. Idella is clearly no threat to them, enchanted as she is by his dweomer.
Lamb and Alwin discuss Idella’s story, in Elven, as they explore her “prison”. Lamb has seen harems on his faring south to Calimshan, but he’s never heard of prisoners being kept in a library. Books line the walls from floor to ceiling, with the exception of a small archway to a sleeping chamber and they find a secret compartment behind the bed containing a bag of gold coins and a gem. A search of the bookshelves by Veth identifies numerous books of dwarven law and four obviously magical scrolls. Odd contents for a cell.
Outside Homte continues his conversation with the delightful young lady. Moved by her obvious distress at the dwarf and orc remains he attempts to reassure her. Understandably nervous at the prospect of being alone in the company of his admittedly violent companions, Idella implores the gnome to escort her alone. The fair maiden surprises even Homte with her astute recognition of the Company’s criminal underappreciation of his overworked talents. Clearly bewitched by Homte’s spell beyond his wildest expectations, Idella coyly invites him to sit with her.
Homte, who wouldn’t even hug his mother unless he was picking her pocket, turns to the oblivious Balkris and whispers with a wink, “Don’t worry, I’ve got her charmed.”
Alwin doesn’t know who the woman is, but it’s not what she’s telling them.
Balkris is trying to make sense of this desperately confusing mammalian body language.
Homte thinks Idella has a point about this bunch of ingrates. Even he’s surprised how awesomely effective his magic is.
Lamb really doesn’t like the undead.
Thanatos is sure there’s something off about the woman. Who’d flirt with Homte rather than him?
Veth thinks it might be take a couple of trips to collect all these orc skulls, even with Durgeddin helping.