Throne of Iron, Throne of Blood…07
The sun was warm and once we had the common sense to look away from the huge inferno in the sky, we saw a goat staring right at us. Not just any goat. A large goat.
Well apparently Arfellan, our Deva Paladin was terrified of said goat because he began to hum and vanished in a flash of light. Or maybe he thought he could do better elsewhere in the world.
At that moment a young Goliath, and by young I mean 6’5” tall, and looking like a young teenager, came running up to us.
He drew a sling, loaded a bullet and began swinging it around and questioned who we were and what we wanted and if we were part of the Aquilan army.
As he was busy spinning it around his head, I decided to test his intelliegence.
“How long can you do that?” pointing at the swinging bullet.
He paused and looked confused. The bullet fell out and he was thus disarmed by mere words.
He looked quite embarrassed.
Thora took it upon herself to step forward then. They began to speak in the language of giants and when translated, he said that there were a ere few hours of daylight left and that we should get inside the city (Stonepeak)
We also learned that the siege on Stonepeak has been going on for a couple months.
As we headed for the city I noticed the large goat following Dreth, being friendly and rubbing his head against his shoulder.
Once inside the city we made the decision to go and speak with the Elders to see how we could be of help and if we could join forces and perhaps find a way to stop the Tiefling opressors.
Heading there Brandis found his Teifling ally. A mentor in all honesty. Brandis decided he would stay and talk around the city to find out information. This Tiefling named Pluck, joined us at the elders hut.
The Elders resided in a large sunken stone building.
The Elders explained to us that there were 10 Goliath cities before the Aquilan’s came knocking. Now 7 remain. Two fell within a few months, and the third lasted a full year. It was obvious the Dawn Peak mountains were enough to hold the Aquilan’s off briefly.
One of the female Elders, was Thora’s mother, the high priestess. The Goliath’s were unhappy to find Thora had returned with only a handful of us to help. It was us or nothing though.
So the Elders asked our council.
I started off by asking what their offensive capabilities were. Turns out… almost none what so ever. A few ballistas at best. The Goliaths were a peaceful people.
We asked what could we do to help?
They had no suggestions, so we continued our strategizing. Each of the cities was a days journey apart. All six cities not under siege had begun preparing for war, and I realized it couldn’t mean more than sharpening sticks to put together makeshift spears.
One option was fortifying the defense in one city and making a stand there. But that was ruled out as evacuation seemed impossible. The few small groups sent away were never hearhed from again. And nothing is more reliable than a Goliath carrier falcon.
A big minotaur in black armor came in just then. His pugnant oder filled the room. The great oaf pulled out his greatsword as Medb, our Eladrin drew her weapon in fear. The Minotaur stuck his sword into the stone, probably damaging it (he didn’t look too smart), and gave a deep laugh. He apparently wanted to help take down the Aquilan’s because they took his ‘power’…whatever that meant.
Another option was fleeing altogether through a teleportation circle. It could only be opened once and not for long. The Aquilan’s had a way of locking down and tracing portal spells. So once a destination was locked, it could never be used again.
I suggested the Dwarves haven’t been locked out yet, but then the Dwarves were hundreds of miles away. Surely they would not make it in time before the city was overthrown.
When asked what the Aquilan’s motives are for attacking the Dawn Peaks, when it was obviously so difficult a task, the Elders gave their belief. The Dawn Peaks are sacred. More so than anything else in the world. This is the first place the light of the sun ever touched, and the first place it touches every morning. Each of the ten peaks holds significant power. IF the Aquilan’s were to control and corrupt that power… they may in fact be able to snap the barrier stopping the more powerful Devils from entering the world. Asmodeus himself could walk the mortal lands. The elders are unsure if they can be corrupted, but it is best not to find out.
During this conversation we were shown the Temple of Pelor, which was built from part of the mountain peak.
My suggestion, was that we check a fallen city for evidence on the true objective of what the Aquilan’s want. And possibly search for survivors. At this point another Tiefling appeared, and joined the conversation. He suggested we take out the Aquilan’s leaders. However the main problem with that is they have countless leaders from the denizens of the Nine Hells. He kept putting forth that idea. I didn’t trust this ‘Arty’. He seemed too eager to take down the Aquialn’s.. almost as if he were going to lead us into a trap.
The Elders told us of underground tunnels leading to the other cities, but they are infested wit monsters and some have not been used in centuries. One such tunnel would lead us to the fallen city of ‘Dawn’s Light’. We decided we will head there and use the tunnels.
Before we left, Thora’s mother, the Highpriestess of Pelor gathered us and she blessed us in the temple. The minotaur stood by idly scoffing.
I was not liking the group that had come together for this mission. Two Tieflings, an obvious asshole…smelly, minotaur, and then therew were Medb, who I barely knew, and Dreth who I had grown acustomed to, being a fellow human.
Thog, Thora, Bruna, Devoir, and Brandis all elected to stay behind as a beckup to defend the town should the Aquialn’s break through while we were gone.
It was not long after, no more than an hour or so, we entered the cave complex than did we smell rotting flesh up ahead and the sickening plops of something being devoured. I recognized the smell before I even saw them. Two Carrion Crawlers, underground centipede beasts of great strength spotted us.
I hid behind a stalagmite as tentacles whipped around the corner from a Crawler. The other came forward from a hall and the first retreated far back, clinging to the wall. Arty started blasting spells, Eldritch Bolt, so it seemed, hitting the close Crawler. He hit it with two and it barely seemed phased. I popped out of hiding and tried to shoot the large target, but I chose a bad spot to aim for. It bounced off a piece of exoskeleton. I spun back around the stalagmite hoping I had not been seen. ‘
Just as I did so, the OTHER stalagmite in the cave began to shudder and came to life, whipping out tentacles of its own. A Roper. This was not our luck day. It instantly lashed out and grabbed Pluck from nearly 50ft away. Pluck fired back in retaliation, but it didn’t even hurt it.
Dreth ran up trying to sever the tentacle with his sharp sword, but it didn’t break the thick flesh. The smelly Minotaur (likely the reason we were spotted to begin with, and apparently its name was Von), went up and slashed the nearest Crawler twice, then spun and struck the Roper’s tentacle. Even his blade could not break the Roper’s grasp.
Medb drew her Eladrin longbow and shot past the lump of flesh that the first Crawler had slumped into after Von’s attack. The second Crawler was it, and Pluck called out to Dreth to ignore the Cralwer and go after the Roper, so Dreth charged the foul abberation, smacking it nce, and then with Pluck’s cry of batle, a second time.
As I hid, preparing for my next strike the Cralwer caught my scent and came around my side, smacking me and sending me skidding back. Arty, the questionable Tiefling came to my aid, cursing it with a Warlock language I did not understand, then blasted it with his dark magic.
I took advantage of this distraction, throwing a Bola at it, knocking it off its many feet, and then shot a blowgun dart precisely into its upper body, causing green blood to spew out. Medb told me to get away from it, it was too powerful. I listened. I had no plans of dying that day.
I stared in horror as Pluck was pulled violently forward and into the mouth of the Roper, that chomped into his armor. Dreth tried to break the Roper’s flesh, but was so tough, then spun around finding its weakpoint and on the backswing cleaved it in two.
Von, the Smell Minotaur chargepast my field of vison, roaring, and then the sickening squishes of my group beating it to a pile of mush. With an order from Medb, Von sliced this Crawler asunder as well.
For the next few days, as it took longer underground, we passed through many perrils.
The first of which was a chasm of 20ft across. I simply threw a Bola tied to a rope, and wrapped it around a Stalactite, and instruced everyone on how to swing across.
The next obstacle was a nest of Hook Horrors. Pluck ingeniously distracted the next with a rock, and we snuck past. But as we were getting through spores from a dangerous hallucination fungi shot into the air. The Minotaur told us of a way to resist it. By holding our breaths, and running as fast as we could. Such simple tactics.
The very same day a quake triggered a cave-in and Arty tried to melt the falling rocks. Obviously he wasn’t as in tune with laws of nature as he was with magic. We all made it through but Arty got conked n the head and we had to pull him away to safety.
Now we faced a fifty foot chasm with no apparent bottom. Vines hung from the ceiling so we used the vines with Dreth’s advice on testing them to make sure they were secure before swiniging this much more dangerous pit.
We ran across an Altar of Orus, the demon prince of undeath, and Medb used her magical abilities to trigger a failsafe within the altar revealing a hidden path.
On the following day we came across a steep and slippery staircase, I missed my footing and tumbled down, landing perfectly fine and telling everyone to avoid the blue moss. It moves under your feet and will try to slip you up.
In the next chamber an underground Thunderstorm shot lighting down toward us. Pluck studied this and told us how to dodge each bolt before it occured.
The storm had filled our next cavern with water that continued to rise. Although the Minotaur definitely needed a bath, I was not against him ramming his head into the wall and destroying it, and draining the water.
No sooner than we dried did a Cultist of Orcus (A kobold mind you), tried to block our path chatterig about an alter that was destroyed somewhere by a Deva. I rolled my eyes as Arty try to slit its throat. The Kobold got a good stab in, but Arty killed it first by stabbing it in the heart. Or next trial was some sort of set-up with magic collumns and a combination of pulling levers at a certain time. It deposited 40gp when Dreth solved this odd puzzle.
The door that opened led to an ancient underground library. Medb was able to direct us what books to read to find the way out of the labrynth-like book chamber.
Medb then found an Iron Golem blockinhg our path. Even though she knew it too strong to fight, she studied its armor, finding a chink in it and knocking it over as we ran past.
The third day was treacherous. A lake of acid blocked our way, and Dreth fashioned a raft of stalagmites that were hollowed out. Once making it across there was a bridge over yet another chasm. I wondered how many chasms there were in the underdark.
On this bridge was a keeper, an almost skeletal old man. He offered us a challenge or would not allow us past.
There were two flagons. One with a poison and one with a cure. Only one person could drink out of each flagon, but both must be drank.
Arty thought about this, and remembering a tactic leaders used in political warfare he mixed both the poison and cure into one flagon and drank it, passing the challenge.
This only led us to a room with Two Portals. One was wrong one ws right. The smelly beast felt up to the challenge of figuring this one out and steped throuh a portal. He chose wrong and fell from the ceiling, 10ft up and smashed facedown into the ground.
Then when our nerves were growing thin we came to a random chest laying in the middle of the path. Beyond it was a door. One the door the words were inscribed, “Those who want the key must look inside.”
Pluck tried to smash the door, but it didn’t budge, but finally smashed open the chest finding the key.
The final trial was a speedbump in the cave floor. It was unnatural looking and despite my insisting, the party pushed me forward and I walked across it. It was just a speedbump.
Finally we emerged from the underground by pushing stones out of the way. Before us laid the once great city of Dawn’s Light, now reduced to ruins. Ahead I spotted two gargoyles sitting amongst the ruinage watching..waiting. I warned everyone and we snuck around with my shadowy stealh skills, passing a dead goat that had been dead for weeks.
All through the town there were signs of dried blood, but no corpses to speak of.
We snuck to the Elder’s chambers and found only the coprses of rotting Goliath’s.. the first sign that they were all slaughtered… which did not bode well. We had one other option… to check the Templeof Pelor.