Thursday, October 15, 2009

Episode XIX: The Banewarrens, Act I - The Broken Seal I

Juliar 17

Emeris the draconic shadowcaster, Vatex the urban ranger, Dziga the rogue, and Early the warblade have decided to find the entrance to the Banewarrens. Before they can leave Emeris and Early’s house, they spot some ratlings coming from the alley and trying to steal their chickens from the backyard! The group rushes outside and hacks down the thieves mercilessly and the chickens are spared. An obnoxious neighbour complains about them bringing trouble into the neighbourhood. They drop the ratling corpses in said neighbor’s yard and head for the manor in Oldtown from which the dark elf Tavan Zith emerged.

The large old manor on Crossing Street is long abandoned. They enter what appears to be a quiet, empty place full of old furniture but little else. Vatex however hears some heavy breathing from a storage closet, and they get the jump on an orc warrior woman looking to ambush them. She fights but quickly realizes she is horribly outmatched. There is no escape, however – the company surrounds her and cuts her down easily. They search the body and find a strange, spiny bone ring around the orc’s finger.

They look around further, first upstairs, where Vatex sees in a cracked mirror the image of a silver haired elf woman who seems strangely familiar for some reason. The image fades abruptly and he wonders if it was even real. Vatex thinks perhaps the building is haunted, but there is nothing else to find upstairs. The group eventually descends to the wine cellar below. There they find a large tunnel dug into the wall, going deep into the west. Lighting a torch, the group enters the tunnel. Along the way, they explore a side passage to the north and find the lair of a fearsome umber hulk! The creature advances upon Emeris, who resists the confusing effect of the creature’s gaze by strength of will. The shadowcaster warns the others not to meet its gaze, throws up a wall of shadow fire to slow the monster’s advance, and the battle is on. The hulk charges through the stinging cold of the black flames, and tears a gouge the side of Emeris’ head with its claw. However, the umber hulk’s main advantage is denied as its opponents avoid its gaze. Dziga finds a gap in the hulk’s carapace and strikes a crippling blow with Asura. Vatex punches through a plate on its chest and pierces through soft tissue beneath, and when the monster slouches from the wound, the Flame of Elmekia’s burning blade arcs across and takes out its throat. They find that the umber hulk wears a bone ring just like the orc woman in the house.

Further exploration turns up the umber hulk’s eclectic stash of treasure, and an uninvited guest in the monster’s lair – an ochre jelly, which surges up from a fissure in the ground and attacks. Dziga hurls a dagger which merely causes the jelly to split into two like creatures. Emeris tosses a powder bomb at them, which nearly destroys one jelly. Early fires a shot with his pistol which separates the wounded jelly further. Vatex hurls a flask of alchemist fire which consumes one of the new jellies. The strange living puddles slide towards them, and one of them engulfs Dziga, constricting him with surprising strength and burning him with its acidic composition. Early smashes an ooze with his heavy flail, and Vatex burns away the last one with his flaming elven sword.

The group returns to the main tunnel and continues west. Three-quarters of a mile from the manor house, they find a dug out chamber containing unused digging implements and a bag of supplies for underground exploration. Inside the bag is a note:

Once you get inside the unsealed part of the Banewarrens, you will have to find a massive iron door. This is a warded door. It may be trapped, we do not know. It is, however, sealed beyond your capacity to breach. Therefore, you will use a Wish from the ring to open it – and even that will keep it open only for a moment. On what lies beyond that door, our spells are silent, except that you will find the Grail within Tremoc Korin. The second Wish in the ring will be your key to get out.
-- Yuinthu”

Immediately to the south, the group finds the entrance to the Banewarrens. They enter a massive chamber dominated by a strange tower-like structure. It is topped with a brass sphere covered in runes. Emeris cannot discern its purpose, but it seems incomplete or damaged in some way. A narrow walkway lines the chamber high above, and provides access to various other passages and a huge iron door. More exploration is considered when Vatex hears a group of people coming to the walkway from a southern passage. VEROCHIN the lamia monk, IOS the minotaur warrior, and four goblin archers arrive. Ios and Verochin wear the distinctive bone rings.

Between derogatory comments about humanoids and aggressive boasting, Ios reveals some facts about these other Banewarrens explorers. They are members of the “Grailquest Team” and they are “Pactlords of the Quaan,” and they seem to have tangled with the paladin Kalerecent at some point earlier. Goblin archers begin raining arrows down on the companions, while Verochin drinks a strength potion and Ios drinks a haste potion. Early runs to the base of the spiral staircase that connects the walkway to the floor level to face off against Ios. Verochin leaps from the walkway and lands below to fight the others.

Early discovers Ios’ audacity is at least somewhat justified as the minotaur storms down the stairs swinging his huge greatsword. Early can only hold back the quickened minotaur for a moment before being badly wounded and forced to fall back to the others. Dziga hurls a dagger, getting a goblin in the throat, and springs upon Verochin as the lamia recovers from his landing. The lamia monk strikes back with terrible blows from his fists that drain the rogue’s very willpower. Vatex attacks Verochin like a wall of blades but finds the monk is well protected by magic.

The battle is then joined by another – Kalerecent! He immediately takes the companions’ side when he sees their enemies. Emeris slays a couple of goblins with black fire, but is speared in the back by one of Ios’ horns as he charges after Early. Badly wounded, Emeris stands and breathes a wave of icy shadow across the minotaur which staggers the huge warrior. Dziga flips over Verochin’s strike and stabs the unsuspecting minotaur on landing. Vatex finishes off Ios, and Kalerecent beheads the last goblin. The group converges around Verochin, who uses an enchantment on Dziga and sends the mentally vulnerable the rogue fleeing back to the surface at top speed. The battle ends when Early finally drives Cryssegrym through the lamia’s chest.

The group knows it should try to catch up with Dziga, and Kalerecent too seems eager to leave this place. All are burdened with the knowledge that not only are the Banewarrens unsealed, but powerful monsters are trying to find something inside.

Next: A friend goes missing! And Kalerecent shares his story…

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