Trials & Trails

Episode 7: "Serpentine Fire"

Death comes in twos

The party’s plan to raid the Goblin encampment mixes victory with defeat, as, after botching the approach, they slay 30 needle goblins, but lose a party member to a poison dart. Here’s how it goes down:

The raid
(1) “Learning the ropes”: Nightfall. Finbar and Rafos shimmy along the ledge of The Rock, well below the goblin overlook, keeping completely out of sight (and catching sight of a single goblin worg rider entering the lair from the [they believe] well-guarded stream entrance). The shapechanging druid turns stone-fisted squirrel, and scampers his way up to the ledge in front of the lax goblin guard-point, where he manages to stealthily screen his efforts to tie off a rope for his compatriots. As he waits, Rafos gathers the party, below, sending Tiskus up first. Unfortunately, the mage is less than stealthy, and causes the just-fixed rope to come off, sending it tumbling back down. Rafos fires an arrow with a second rope attached, which Finbar grabs and ties off. While Finbar and Tiskus wait, above, Telvas begins his climb.

(2) “Rolling an ill-timed fatty”: While Telvas makes his way up, Finbar, who’s been keeping tabs on the goblin watch inside via an unused porthole, shapechanges back into the little vermin—except this time, it’s not so damned little (fickle Gods and their stupid, mercurial power-granting). Having turned into a slightly fatter than normal rat, the Druid nevertheless tries to squeeze through the hole, where he gets stuck, then pushes through, then takes out part of the wooden hole, falls through, makes a lot of noise, and ends up alerting the one non-sleeping goblin guard. The bone-gnawing minion of the Needle tribe jabs his snoozing friend awake, and, despite Finbar’s heroic leap to silence them, they sound the alarm.

(3) “Fire GOOD! (and bad):” As Finbar grapples with the goblin guards, Tiskus manages to open the barred door from the outside, wrenching his shoulder in the process. But it’s just in time for Telvas to come spinning in, doing what he does best. One goblin head flies off. He then charges through the inept weaponeering of the mage and druid (who end up attacking each other), and handles the last Needle guard. Two slices. Two heads.

Unfortunately, the alarm has sounded, and a horde of screaming Needlers is charging down the central passageway. Meanwhile, there are indications that even more are coming from a second direction. Yum! More heads!

But, one problem at a time. Tiskus lights a fire, over, under, around, between, and generally all over the first goblin mob, scorching them all into ashes. Scratch 15 gobbies. Luckily, there’s 15 more coming from the south, where Telvas mightily takes up a defensive position…which the second group promptly ignores, streaming around him like he’s a rock in a fast moving stream. All too quickly, Fin, Tiskus and Telvas are in it to their necks.

By this time, hireling Jaeel Deerclan has made it to the top, and has entered the fray. The fighter bares her blade. Meanwhile, Telvas does his spinning swordplay, and Finbar, swings his shillelagh. The gruesome twosome are both wounded by the needles, Worse, some of the wounds come from those pesky poisoned darts Needle goblins are so fond of. Telvas shakes his off like a boss. Finbar? Not so bosslike. For the second time in a 10 days, the druid has a face-to-face with death. This time, the reaper takes his due. The druid falls limp and stiff as the stone of his left hand.

Meanwhile, Tiskus decides, “Fire=good. More fire=better!” and sends a fireball into the melee. scorching every single goblin, while wounding both Telvas and Jaeel. The warriors survive, but Finbar’s remains are scorched beyond recognition.

Still, victory is victory, sooty or otherwise. As the only remaining foe, a dwarven lieutenant, rushes out in fear, the party licks their wounds and prepares to check out the caves.

Oh…and Rafos and the remaining hirelings finally make it to the top, only to witness the results of wizard’s bar-b-q.

(4) “Stuff regained!:” The party locates most of the missing items (though not the Flask of Breaths). They also find a hidden treasure sack containing a map, some wooden figurines and some thieve’s tools. Judging from the map (and Tiskus’ studies), someone was seeking a monastery called Kalhatan, located a few days northwest of the rock. The party decides this is worth a look.

So….

…after spending two days in the rock due to bad weather (during which time FInbar’s remains are buried in the valley below the Rock, and many goblin heads are mounted on poles on the ledge overlooking the valley), the party regroups, sans the hirelings, who decide hanging around with these guys is dangerous. They are augmented by one Ed the Barbarian, a former prisoner of the goblins nabbed while guarding (ineptly one supposes) a caravan. Having nothing better to do (evidently), Ed joins the group on its quest to find Kalhatan, which goes like this:

Finding Khaltan
(1) “Why climb, when you can fall?”: A 3-day journey into the wilderness takes 5 days, as scout Tiskus becomes distracted by flora (or something of that sort). The party locates the HUGE sinkhole (let’s say valley), inside of which a thick canopy stands, obscuring said ruins they are trying to locate. From their vantage point, they see evidence of recently shed snake skin, something big…really big….much bigger than average, actually. Faced with another climbing situation, each hero enters according to his desires. For Tiskus, this means crashing through the canopy to a spot halfway down, on a limb. For Ed, it’s a hardy climb down (and a fall from halfway). For some strange (yet logical) reason, Telvas and Rafos use a rope, though Rafos is left carting his dog down, and also has some difficulties finding the floor. Nevertheless, there they are…somehow all alive.

(2) “Hello and goodbye:” Once down, the group is immediately aware (thanks to Tiskus), that there are multiple beasts in the area (the so-called, “Dweller in the Wood,” which the mage remembers from the Kalhatan legend). It isn’t long before said Dweller appears. As Tiskus holds tight in the canopy, eagle-eyed Ed spots the camouflaged lizard making its way toward the spell-slinging leaper-mage. Rather than attacking, however, the creature slinks away when Telvas draws his shimmering sword. As Ed watches, the creature disappears into the canopy. The party moves ahead slowly, on their guard.

(3) “Hello again…from both of us…”: As Ed and Telvas and Rafos’ dog, Corg (who is not a Corgie), come forward, Ed catches sight of a second lizardy-thing obscured in a thick bramble of growth and vines. Even as the barbarian reacts to this new foe, the original beastie initially spotted drops to the ground near Telvas (yum! a head to sever!). The battle is joined, but soon turns deadly for our intrepid crew.

First off, Telvas, who is delivering deadliness in spades, is grabbed by the creature, which has clamped down on his sword arm. In danger of being dragged off and eaten, he wisely lets go of his sword, then faces off against the beast mano-a-jawso, with Rafos and Corg giving support. Eventually, the combination of swings and arrows (in particular that last throat shot by the bow-wielding ranger), sends the creature down. Lizard #1 is out. Telvas, who really values his sword, begins slitting the beast open to find it. He’s pretty sure the stuff’s going down nearby, with lizard #2, Ed, and Tiskus, but hey—he wants that sword, so, slice, slice, slice.

As for those other folks:

Ed and Tiskus deliver a series of blows and magic at the creature, but find its ancient scales nigh impenetrable. Worse, Ed is deeply wounded by the creature’s long teeth, and is bleeding out. Even so, at one point, it appears they have the thing beaten, though at a price. The wounded lizard snatches Corg in its jaws and turns tail to eat somewhere far away, in silence.

But Ed can’t have that. He grabs the lizard’s tale, putting its attention back on him. The creature whirls around and delivers a crushing bite to his midsection. Near death, the barbarian yowls in pain. Thankfully, Tiskus, who has once again faceplanted on a leap from a high place, manages to throw yet another magic missile, putting the beast’s attention on HIM now. He, too, is wounded by the enraged creature. Worse, his attacks don’t seem to be harming it.

Bleeding Barbarian Ed attempts one more swing at the lizard-thing. But he is wounded and weak, drained of too much blood. His blow misses horribly, and the lizard puts him out of his misery. It turns back to do the same to Tiskus…only to be throat-shot by Rafos.
Evidently sitting out of the goblin brouhaha has improved his aim

Scratch lizard #2. And new party member Ed, whom death decides to take into his sweet embrace.

Aftermath
And so, beaten up twice in the last week, the group makes camp, resting, searching the area. They soon find the “old stones” located in the map, the remnants of a city, to include a strange obelisk situated in the center of a fallen temple. The obelisk has weird symbols on each of its 8 facets, and 8 round stands below each facet. The adventurers know the four figurines they found in the sack they located at The Rock must be placed in the Obelisk stands, but they do not yet know in which spot.

It is here we leave them, contemplating their next move…while divvying up Ed’s stuff.

New questions, concerns, etc.:
Jaeel gave a masked Telvas a really hard look before she departed. Did she recognize him? And if she did, why didn’t she act right then and there?

Finbar’s stone hand is buried along with its body, despite the brief consideration by Telvas to turn it into part of a weapon. There are thoughts within the party that somehow, said hand might have magical properties. But what kind would they have been (or might they still be)?

Csonka’s disappearance looms large in the mind of Tiskus, as does his plan to create magical items via ritual. For now, though, the riddle of the obelisk remains. Could this somehow tie in to Csonka’s pursuit of the mysterious “Plem/Demurgos” relics?

Rafos has about two weeks to locate and kill another innocent, lest death claim him as his own. Normally, no big deal. But the group is one week deep into the woods. It’s going to be a close call.

Poor Ed, we hardly knew ye. But the party gets a two-handed axe out of it (and some rations). Ed smash!

TIMELINE:
Adventure Start: May 5th
3 days to Rock
2 days at rock
5 days to Khalhatan

Current date/time: May 15th, Late afternoon

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