Dragonslayer

Session 3: Killer Cubes and Cunning Kobolds

Emerging from the staircase, Era, Lemaia, and Merle found themselves in a hall of neatly laid stone bricks. A far cry from the chipped away tunnels below. Dark hallways stretched in two directions. Sturdy-looking, iron-banded wooden doors lined the walls up and down the hall. With every ounce of caution they could muster, they picked a door, checked to see if was trapped, and quietly slipped inside.

Within was a room is dominated by a large, chipped stone desk bearing an intricate design that was once probably stunning to behold, but has since been marred by scrapes and gouges Tattered tapestries hung moldering from the wall. Wooden chairs lay broken and crushed about the stone floor. The strangest feature, however, was an old suit of dwarven armor standing in the corner. Rather, it was armor made by dwarves, bu was too tall to be worn by a dwarf.

The room bore little else of interest, but the draw of the armor was great. Lemaia searched the suit for traps, and luckily found an array of runes, barely visible, carved upon the surface. He all at once decided that touching the armor was a bad idea, and moved on to the next room.

The second room was a mess. Four wooden posts. wrapped in moldering fabrics, lay sundered over a torn mattress. Down of some unknown bird spilled from the tear across a warn rug. The companions crept inside, trying not to rouse too much attention. Lemaia began searching the torn mattress for anything of value. What she found were a pair of knife-wielding kobolds. The short, reptilian creatures leaped into action, attacking Lamaia, Merle, and Era. The thief dove into moldering remains of the four post bed while her companions decimated the pair of cunning kobolds.

When one fell, the other raced to the wall, revealing a secret door that lead to the previous room. Merle gave chase, followed by Era, but when they arrived in the room with the large stone desk, they found the injured kobold standing next to the trapped suit of armor. With a poke from the little creature, the armor came to life, crushing the kobold in one devastating blow, it’s empty visor focused directly on Merle.

The armor stepped upon the desk, delivering a blow after bone-shattering blow with its steel gauntlets. The dwarf was not to be undone, and tapped into all he had learned in his monastery about the way of the mountain. He would not move to this… thing, and he certainly would not fall. He delivered a series of punishing blows, denting the armor with staff, foot, and fist. Era’a attempts to fell the animated armor with her crossbow were proving fruitless. Lemaia, freshly returned from her hiding place, offered to take aim. Her lucky bolt soared through the visor, breaking the rune that empowered the being. The armor fell into a heap, the magic that once held it together dispersed.

The trio decided to try their luck across the hall. The door they opened lead to a long chamber with bunked beds stacked four high lining the walls. From those bunks sprang seven more kobold warriors. Era, with some quick thinking, put half of them to sleep. The rest attacked or fled the room, attempting to flank the companion, but Merle was there to meet them, dispatching them with ease. A sole survivor raced down the hall to a barred door, but the monk was faster, and his strike was true. The kobold fell before he reached the door.

With the barracks emptied, the three tried their luck with another door, this one stuck. After a few attempts they managed to break it down. Beyond was a spa of sorts, with a single stone walkway running down the center of the room, and stairs on either side leading down into what appeared to be more of the healing hot spring they had encountered in the lower levels.

More macabre, though, were the skeletal corpses of four dwarves, a bizarre purple fungus growing from their chest.

As Lemaia leaned down to investigate, the fungi sprang to life, whipping about pseudo-pods. They lashed both Lemaia and Era with the rotting touch, and the pair were wracked in pain as their flesh began to decompose before their very eyes. Merle leaped into action, holding a pair at bay, while the thief and the bard drew their steel and cut the fungi down to size. They disposed of the violet fungus in short order, claiming the room and it’s invaluable resource; the healing waters, which they made immediate use of. They spent a long while, treating their wounds, taking turns sleeping until finally they felt ready to move on.

On the far end of the barracks stood a solitary door. Lemaia again made sure that no cleverly disguised traps would befall them, and threw the door open. What she found was the privy. A series of stalls lined the wall, with benches inside, bearing a single hole. On one such stall door hung a silver chain with some manner of shining object. Overcome with her lust for treasure, Lemaia shot forth, but recoiled the instant the floor gave way, collapsing down below.

Strangely, one section of rubble seemed to float downward, slowly drifting even after the rest of the floor had settled. Among the chunks of slowly falling broken floor was the silver necklace. Lemaia nimbly sung herself over, diving boots first into whatever the strange phenomenon was. What she did not expect was the gelatinous quality of the area. Still seeing only treasure, she leaned forward to grab the silver chain, and that was when the gelatinous cube had her.

Era suddenly realized what was happening, but it was too late. The thief began to slowly dissolve before their very eyes. Merle leaped down below, and thrust his bare arms into the cube to rescue his companion. As the flesh was being stripped from him, the dwarf managed to pull Lemaia free, but there was little to celebrate. Cornered, there was nowhere for the monk and thief to go. The cube slowly slid over them, engulfing them into its corrosive body.

Era, summoning up every bit of courage she had, followed Merle’s example and thrust her own arms into the cube from her lofty perch. Summoning a strength she didn’t know she had, she pulled the pair free, though her arms had been completely stripped of skin. A stray pseudo-pod lashed Era in the back, but the still managed to stagger ahead. They were safe for now, but they had paid a hefty price for Lemaia’s treasure-lust.

After a rest, the companions ventured on. Their exploration lead them to another room, this one was mostly sparse, save for a dead kobold, skeletal from the waste up. Era entered, intrigued by the phenomenon. From the ceiling, a green slime fell onto the bard’s shoulders. She issued forth a scream as the slime began to corrode her armor and skin. Lemaia came to her rescue, scrapping the slime off with her trusty dagger.

Meanwhile, as Merle was observing the scene, he felt a warmth, stinking breath on his neck. He turned to see thee face of an emaciated ogre staring back at him, with a crazed-looking kobold riding upon his hunched back. The ogre swung with it’s heavy club, crushing the stone beneath its strike, but thankfully missing everyone else. Era pointed to the giant and demanded “Sleep”. The weak-willed and exhausted ogre was more than happy to oblige, and fell forward. His kobold rider, though,was furious, and attacked Era with all that he had in him.

Merle and Lemaia rushed to her side, and together they slew the raving reptile. After catching their breath, they pressed on, slowly and carefully walking down the halls until the sound of voice reached their ears. Lemaia went on ahead to scout out the situation, eventually coming to the entrance of a chamber. She peeked inside, noticing what looked to be a desecrated temple. It was almost certainly a holy site for some manner of dwarven god, but every stone effigy of him was smashed to rubble, and any surface that bore his symbol was marred and defaced. Standing in the back, upon a dais stood a winged kobold in scale male, clutching a strange symbol around her neck. She seemed to be arguing with a few other less armored kobolds. The thief took care to roll her ball bearings across the entrance as quietly as possible.

Era’s curiosity tugged at her, and soon she found herself stalking up behind Lemaia, though her footfalls didn’t have the practiced experience of the tiefling. The kobolds ceased talking, and and the sound of soft, leathery footfalls echoed thorough the hall. The three waited in anticipation, and when the time came they attacked, clashing with the little reptilian humanoids. The one upon the dais conjured forth a spectral mace to strike those foolish enough to enter. It was then that Merle had his target. He rushed forth, shaking off a blow from the mace, and proceeded to assault the magic-wielding kobold. Era and Lemaia felled the two guards, while the dwarf continued to strike the magic user with devastating blows, though his fists had a difficult time penetrating some invisible shield around her.
Era pulled her flute free and played a song she had never played before. A moment later, the kobold was overcome with raucous laughter. The three bound the laughing kobold and dragged her down the hall, to the room where they had left the gelatinous cube. There, they questioned her.

She revealed her name was Ssassra, and that she was once the leader of her tribe of kobolds. One day a man with a golden mask gave them a gift. The gift, it turns out, was a curse in disguise. The gift was a being called Verolax, and it had displaced Ssassra as leader. It declared itself God-King, and demanded tribute and fidelity from the kobolds.
The trio demanded to know the location of the ale barrels. Ssassra told them that they were not far, and that she would lead them to them om exchange for her life, her freedom, and her ability to reclaim control of the kobolds after the companions dealt with Verolax. Negotiations went sour when Merle asked if it was she who had desecrated the temple. Proudly Ssassra smile, and said “Yesssss”. Merle threw her into the cube, which dissolved her to her bones.

The end of their quest was within sight. If Ssassra had been truthful, the ale was nearby, but the companions were left with many questions. Who, or what was Verolax? What lay in the dark, unexplored corners of this abandoned mine? Would they all stay alive long enough to see Keen again?

As the three returned to the healing spa, locking the door, Lemaia marveled at a new piece of treasure she had taken from Ssassra; the holy symbol she had so tightly clutched. A symbol of Tiamat.

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Session 2: Stone, Flame and Stair

Having survived the confrontation with Gorgoroth, the three companions settled in for some much needed rest. They took refuge in the cavern of the healing waters they had discovered earlier. Wounds bound, the trio doused their lantern and drifted off into an exhausted slumber.

Some time later Lemaia awoke to a strange squelching sound. She peered through the darkness, but saw nothing. She awoke Era to alert her, but the genasi’s eyes were not as adept to dark places like the tiefling’s was. Suddenly a shape rose up from the stone. It looked as if the cavern floor itself had risen up like a viper, and struck at Lemaia. The thief tried to plunge her rapier into the strange, gray ooze, but she soon discovered that the creature’s body seared the blade with a corrosive acid. Soon Merle awoke, and with quarter staff in hand, he too joined the fray. The three managed to slay the ooze, and a second that had been laying in wait. From that moment on, they decided that it was best to leave one of them awake to keep a close watch while the others slept.

When everyone was fully rested, they continued on their quest to locate Gimnar Bronzehammer’s ale. They returned to the large supply room with the many exits branching off. Following Lemaia’s intuition, they traveled down a short hallway. Merle spied a sign above the entryway to a chamber. The sign read, in dwarven; NO ARMOR OR WEAPONS BEYOND THIS POINT.

Intrigued, the dwarven monk cautiously entered the room. A strange steel table stood between two copper pillars, topped with round metallic orbs. One of the pillars had a crank. In the far corner of the chamber was a desk, covered in dust and cobwebs, with a small leather book atop it. Merle inspected the book, quickly turning to the final page.

Disturbed by the mention of the boarded floor from the supply room, Merle raced out of the room to investigate. Meanwhile, Era’s curiosity got the best of her, and she slipped into the room to get a better look at the strange contraption around the metal table. That was when she spied the crank. Unable to help herself, Era turned the crank.

The pillars hummed, and suddenly a bolt of electricity sprang from one of the orbs and struck the table. A plethora of stone fragments, geodes, and crystals that have been sitting on it began to dance about. The stray pieces joined together until they became a menacing stone man.

Era fled from the room, and Merle returned to confront the new menace, only to find an empty chamber. Behind Era, the stone man walked silently from a solid stone wall and slammed a heavy, rocky fist into her back. She tumbled forward, and Merle stepped in, placing himself between the bard and her stony assailant. While the dwarf and the stone man traded blows, Era and Lemaia attempted to reach out and talk the angry elemental down, though thanks to some improvised primordial speech from the thief, it took a little longer than expected.

The stone man said that he felt lost, without purpose. Era vowed to do whatever she could to help the stone man find his way. With that, he descended into the floor, leaving no trace he had ever been there at all. All seemed well, until Era felt a sharp jab in her side. She turned to see a lone kobold, one of the green scaled ones that harried them earlier, had slid a dagger into her ribs. She fell into a bloody heap. The kobold immediately ran back to his hiding place; beneath the dusty desk. Merle chased the green sneak, but found that the kobold had escaped through a tunnel carved into the wall.

Lemaia, thinking fast, retrieved the vial of green liquid they had found on the dwarf skeleton in Gorgoroth’s lair and pressed it to Era’s cold lips. Praying it wasn’t acid, she poured. Luckily it was a potion of healing. Era had escaped the clutches of death. Merle returned to his companions moments later, the kobold long gone. The trio decided to take a moment to regroup and rest before tackling any other challenges.

After some time in the miraculous healing waters, they set out for another hallway. This one was long, winding, and with strange grooves carved into the ceiling. Stranger was a pungent scent rising up from a wet floor. With some investigation, they discovered that the liquid was dwarven whiskey. A sudden bang alerted the three to trouble behind them. A crudely made portcullis had fallen to block their path, and standing behind it a trio of kobolds wearing shields, and worse; a torch. The torch landed upon the whiskey soaked floor, and the hallway was engulfed in flames. Another bang came from behind and another portcullis, further down the hall, stood between the companions and freedom from the fire. A second group of kobolds came running to the location, wielding slings and crossbows.
Lemaia, whose fiendish heritage made her resistant to the flames, took a moment to snuff out the fire around Era with her cloak. The bard, thinking fast, pulled her flute free and played a note that put the shielded kobolds to sleep. Merle flung deadly darts at the sling wielding kobolds.

The bard noticed that the construction of the portcullises was primitive, and probably easily broken. Lemaia took a chance, and burst through. The kobolds, taken completely off-guard by the display, easily fell before her blades. With a path now clear, the three ran down the hall to safety.

Era broke her enchantment over the sleeping kobolds, who awoke enraged. Lemaia set a devilish trap for them at the far end of the hall with a bag of ball bearings. The kobolds, totally unaware bearings slipped and slid into an adjacent wall, where Merle, Lemaia and Era quickly dismantled them.

With their enemies slain, they set off again down the winding corridor. Through many twists and turns, they found themselves standing before a familiar sight, the entrance to the cavern of healing waters. The three companions took some time to mend their burns and returned to the supply room, taking yet another tunnel. This one was shorter, forking off after only 20ft. Lemaia’s gut instinct told her to go left, so Merle immediately started walking down the right hall, seemingly finished with the thief’s “gut”.

Beyond, in a chamber, a staircase of stone blocks wrapped around the room, leading up into the darkness. On a nearby wall were a series of seven hooks, each with a corresponding dwarven letter below it. The letters, W-F-A-O-S-L-E were in no particular order, though a miner’s hat was hanging on the “L”.

After some investigating the companions discovered that the hooks operated some manner of mechanism within the stairs, which Lemaia surmised was some manner of security device. The hook-mechanism operated the security device, either keeping the way safe for it’s dwarven creators, or collapsing the stairs in case invaders attempted to press upward.

Putting herself in the mindset of a greedy dwarf, eager to keep his riches safe, Lemaia, with some suggestions from her companions, managed to compile a list of words comprised of those letters, narrowing it down until she was left with only two; “SAFE” and “FALSE”.

Trusting in her “gut” once again, Lemaia pulled the hooks for F-A-L-S-E. There was an audible turning of cogs, and then silence. Steeling herself, the tiefling thief slowly pushed herself up the stairs. Higher and higher she climbed, until finally they came to end. She called to Era and Merle to come see what she had discovered.

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Session 1: Web of Fear

This tale began as so many others have; in a tavern. While the rain and wind of summer’s final storm beat down upon the Black Stag Inn, in the small town of Keen, three strangers’ destinies were about to become entwined.

While a trio of would-be adventurers poured over a map promising riches and fame, a thief, a monk, and a scholar listened intently. Lemaia; a tiefling rogue, Merle Stonefist; a dwarven Monk of the way of the Mountain, and Era; an air genasi bard from a far-off land each made an attempt to get near the map, steal the map, or otherwise join the party, if for nothing more than a share of the plunder. Each met with failure, save for Era, whose silver tongue and intellectual curiosity calmed the increasingly paranoid trio. They revealed that they were searching for the lost dwarven mines of Dhol Kuldihr.

The trio accepted Era’s offer to investigate, and-after finishing their drinks-retreated upstairs for some much needed rest. Lemaia, who had managed to snag a peek at the map requested some parchment and a charcoal pencil from Gimnar, the Innkeeper, so that she might sketch what she had seen from memory. Gimnar sent his daughter, Fella, downstairs to fetch it. She was gone only a moment when a scream let loose from the cellar. Fella burst through the door with six cat-sized spiders following her.

The remaining patrons fled of hid as the spiders descended on Lemaia, Era and Merle. Era used her training in the arcane arts to put the advancing arachnids to sleep, and the three commenced slaughtering them before they could wake. The taproom secure, Gimnar rushed to his daughter’s side to console her. She, however, had some rather unpleasant news; every barrel of ale that had been in the cellar was gone.

Gimnar was beside himself with grief. In a week the town of Keen would be hosting the Many-Partings festival. Without the ale, the effect on Gimnar’ business would be catastrophic. While the innkeeper wallowed in his woes, Merle, Era and Lemaia had a plan. They offered to track down the ale, to which Gimnar graciously offered 100 gold pieces for the return of.

The newly formed trio took some time to dress their wounds and gather their supplies before venturing into the basement. Once there they investigated the area, attempting to deduce how eleven large barrels of ale could have vanished from the cellar without anyone noticing. It was Merle who thought to check the wall. It wasn’t long before he discovered loose stone. After a moment he removed a set of stones from the wall to reveal a tunnel leading off into the darkness. Intrigued, the three companions ventured off into the shadows.

They traveled for sometime through the strange tunnel before coming to an opening. Squeezing through, they found themselves standing in a tunnel system, with wooden supports lining the walls. As they moved in, they were ambushed by a small band of green-scaled kobolds. The companions banded together to defeat their foes, and managed to capture one.

The kobold captive, terrified of the three companions, confessed that this area was claimed by his tribe, and that they were ruled by their God-king, Verolax. After some coaxing, he agreed to take them to him. He led them down a dark tunnel, where the insidious little creature tripped a trap, collapsing the entire corridor upon himself and his captors. Era and Lemaia managed to escape to safety but Merle was buried beneath mounds of stone.

Frantically the genasi and tiefling sifted through the debris, searching for Merle, who was clinging to life. Thankfully they managed to reach him on the very edge of death’s door, and Era supplied him with some of her healing magic. The three emerged from the tunnel, somewhat battered, and somewhat disturbed that the kobold would rather kill himself than face the wrath of his master, who or whatever it was.

They pressed on, discovering a few precious gems along the way. After traversing thee winding halls, the trio discovered a natural cavern with a hot spring of sweet-smelling clear liquid. The three investigated the pool, surmising that it was perhaps teaming with some kind of healing magic.. After some experimenting, they found that they were right, and if one were to rest in it’s waters for a short time, their wounds would begin to close, of not completely heal over.

After a refreshing dip, they pressed on, soon finding themselves in what looked like the central hub of the complex. Mining supplies lined the wall, and five tunnels lead off into every direction. One tunnel was blocked with rotting shelves and chairs, stacked floor to ceiling. Curiosity got the best of them, and they removed the obstructions. What they found beyond was not what they were expecting.

A chamber of prettified carcasses-several of which were kobolds and other unidentifiable animals-swinging in cacoons of thick, silky webs from the ceiling. Standing motionless on the far side of the room were a pair of spiders the size of men, and one bloated arachnid the size of a heavy horse, bearing contless scars. This was the lair of Gorgoroth, the many-eyed king, a monstrous spider of untold age. They attacked first, moving faster then they appeared they were capable of. Gorgoroth plunged his mandibles into Lemaia, his burning poison dropping her to the floor, paralyzed.

Era, thinking fast, through her lantern at the great spider’s feet, burning him and forcing him to back away. Merle then leaped into action, staff in hand, a flurry of blows against Gorgoroth’s unholy spawn. Era too met with one of the hideous man-sized spiders, who bore down upon her, razor-sharp mandibles clacking inches from her face.

Merle dispatched on of the spawn before turning his attention towards Era’s foe, and ending it. The dwarf’s victory was short lived, as the moment his back was turned, the great Gorgoroth plunged his mandibles into him. Merle too succumbed to the elder spider’s venom, and slumped into a heap next to Lemaia. Era was the only one left. She timidly held he rapier up. She could abandon her friends, but she knew the awful fate that would have awaited them; being devoured alive.

Summoning all the bravery she could muster, Era rushed forth, but the many-eyed king knocked her feeble attempts of attack aside. It rushed her, pushing her back to the wall. As it reared up to deliver a final blow she plunged her rapier into the beast’s black heart. It lurched back, seared and bleeding, and tumbled to the floor, finally dead.

In a daze, Era quickly started dragging her companions back to the healing cavern, praying that the magical waters there could revive them. After a very long hour under her watchful eye, Merle and Lemaia began to stir. Slowly they regained the full use of their appendages, and returned to Gorgoroth’s lair to search it for any valuables. After many desiccated corpses, they discovered a lone dwarf skeleton clutching a vial of green liquid. At his side were an axe of exceptional quality, and a battered mug.

Beaten, bruised, bleeding, and half alive, the three decided that a rest was necessary. Together they huddled in the cavern of the healing waters, unsure and unaware of the dangers that lurk in the dark tunnels beyond the edge of their torchlight.

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