This recap is written from, more or less, the first person from the perspective of our resident mage, Fen Sen (Oscar)
My time in Belanthir the Sage’s vast library was well worth the one hundred pieces of gold paid both professionally and personally, for there was this young sage-ette…. But I digress.
The Red Tear Drop shaped Gem was one of a collection of gems ensorcelled by the Archmage Barekash. He was one of the leading magus in the art of implanted arcane where an ensorcelled gem must be inserted into a nostril and it is then snorted upwards that it can implant in one’s skull next to the brain. This version of implanted arcane is effectively permanent until death. Several other leading magus in the art of implanted arcane developed a more temporary solution via swallowing that was then allowed to pass through one’s digestive tract granting the effects for that time. The gem would then be cleaned and reused. My research has found there was even a system of renting those gems for a time, a process I’m not quite sure I want to think long upon.
The Clown Doll is one of many enchanted by Pajeto the Storyteller who died tragically along with all of the orphans he was giving a performance. Some say it may be cursed because of that event, others think it may have already been cursed and a cause of the tragedy, and still others believe it may be worth a very great deal to a collector.
The Rusty Dagger is a slightly better than mundane ensorcelled weapon. Not only does this one aid one’s fighting ability it also will glow in the presence of the presence of a specific type of creature and grant the user greater fighting ability AND also causes injuries greater than what could normally be expected of that type of weapon. Galathos spent a good while cleaning it for me while demonstrating the proper techniques, however within a few hours it had been covered with a patina of rust.
It was decided that I would keep the Rusty Dagger thus improving my meager usefulness in matters martial, and Old Man Hedron would use the Red Tear Drop Gem. The Clown Doll would be kept and listed for sale or trade with Belanthir the Sage who would claim a fifth share if he was able to arrange a suitable transaction. A fair fee for his services, should we be unable to find a buyer on our own.
The Old Man took his gem and then proceeded to light up the city, often part of Gloin’s entourage and often not.
Late the following day, Hedron joined Galathos and I for supper where he told us he’d used the gem and found that he could now see in the darkest night, at least with his left eye, although the price was that bright sunlight now bothered that eye. He also told us his ability to judge distances correctly had been affected and thus he would have difficulty in using thrown weapons. That explained the ornate eye patch with Cuthbert’s symbol.
Gloin sent word that he had met a fair maiden and was taking her upon a lake cruise and that he would join us afterwards.
We decided to deal with the Old Guard Kobolds after painting the Comely Lass Statue purple. To that end Hedron purchased a slew of paint colors in the event she wanted another color, or to use as markings were she to come to life and give the Old Man all that he wanted.
As far as the Old Guard, Galathos went to Casa D’Epot and purchased this massive cedar board twelve foot long by two wide and a full six inches thick. Damn thing weighed a ton it seemed, and required all three of us to lug it. Admittedly it did a wonderful job with that pit trap insane as the idea was.
We arrived upon the ruins and the clerics of Galanthor advised us to be cautious for another group had ventured forth the day after we last left and had yet to return. The group was another group of young adventurers, a human man in chain, a human in robes, a hobbit in leather, and an Elven maid in simple garb. For this information and their continued deeds I gave them 25 gold coins and Hedron gave them one of the three that remained to him after his week of excess. To all of our astonishment, Galathos handed over ten gold coins. None of us pressed him upon the issue as we wished him to continue that positive behavior.
It took a bit of effort getting that massive tree section down their circular staircase, and upon our arrival we discovered two young humans and a hobbit nude and impaled upon thick spears arranged to face the staircase. Of the elf there was no trace, however we could well imagine her fate had she not been able to escape.
Of Galathos’ caltrops upon the stairs leading deeper into the ruins, those were moved aside, although one was bloody.
With no signs indicating how the bodies wound up there from the place they met their demise and showing signs of decay, we decided to proceed upon our plans. I made special note to keep an eye out for the Elf, if only to keep her from any predations by our dirty Old Man.
Leaving the board there we trekked the few hundred feet to the statue where Hedron paints it purple and proving my point by taking extra special care brushing those certain spots. The voice then asks to be painted black, and to our chagrin and the Old Man’s despair he had obtained every color but black, brown, and white. We decided to leave the paints and brushes there with mental notes to return with those three colors on our next trip to the ruins.
We returned to the entry chamber with the circular staircase, collected the board, and made our way towards the pit trap taking the long route minimizing turns which are difficult with such a long and heavy burden.
We were only a couple dozen paces away from our goal when four solid thwangs rang out from beyond our light and four crossbow bolts flew into sight. We all managed to dodge the first two, but the second set found their marks. Galathos took a wound to the leg and Harolde took one in the shoulder. Moments later two additional bolts came towards us, however they missed us all as they’d been clearly fired in haste.
We dropped the board and made for the nearest cover, a conveniently placed corridor tee. Ahead of us we could see five Old Guard shields standing tall in line abreast just beyond the pit trap. After landing three flasks of oil just before, in amongst, and finally a bit further than them without hearing even the slightest trace of having inflicted an injury, we forced the board into place.
Galathos crossed leading with his ranseur and as I predicted the shields were propped upon solid wood stands, and our four to six ambushers long gone.
We took the time with our stout warrior covering us to bind Harolde’s injury, leaving the crossbow head in the wound. Upon our return to the City we will arrange for a barber to remove the offending metal and the Old Man will use his god’s blessing to heal the wound. Afterwards we hammered two of our tall warrior’s spikes through the board and into the stonework. It was hard noisy work, but no matter as they already knew of our presence and our work would keep the board in place without an inordinate amount of effort on someone’s part.
With the makeshift bridge firmly in place the Old Man, Karhl, and I pushed and heaved the shield wall sections to the other side of the pit to serve as a redoubt in the event we had to flee.
With all that done we moved forward and discovered those pesky midgets had sewn a forty foot long corridor a full ten foot wide throughout with shards of glass of various sizes. Galanthos and Hedron in their plate boots traversed with a bit of caution and effort. My lantern bearers and I however could not be so brazen in our soft and hard leather boots. Fortunately I had not hired only brawny men, but fairly skilled ones at that. Karhl immediately took the pickaxe from his back and began pushing the shards to the sides, and with my admonition to shuffle our feet instead of walking properly it only took a few minutes for us to reach our compatriots.
Our friends have spent those long minutes battling raggedly attired kobolds wielding two foot lengths of chain as weapons. In the time it took for the three of us to reach them, they had created a thick pile of kobold corpses.
With only a few left and plenty of commotion in that large chamber with the three stairways leading down beyond the broken steel door, I began tossing flasks of flaming oil into the chamber. Three landed within creating a nice inferno, the last I dropped upon the two furthest from our warrior and cleric leaving them only two more to dispatch. With the great number of body parts strewn about with Galathos’ flamberge, it was neigh impossible to say with great accuracy how many the two of them had slain but suffice it to say it was a great many of them.
Advancing into the large chamber we found all of our work spiking and tying the doors shut entirely undone. We respiked and tied the other doorways then proceeded up a long corridor leading to a largish forty by forty room with a small pool filled with brackish algae filled water. At the center of that pool was a crudely carved statue of a stern man in chain resting upon the pommel of his sword. Overhead we noticed the ceiling was fifteen feet high, five more than normal. Then we noticed the four turkey sized flying feathered ant eaters I have since learnt are the blood sucking beasts called stirges.
My first inclination was to cast them to sleep that they could be given a coup de grace, however Galathos hollered to save the spell for worthy opponents. I should have gone with my first inclination for in less time than it takes to read this sentence, two stirges had alighted upon Galathos. I was casting when one of the beasts crashed into my shoulder disrupting my concentration and my shoulder in the process.
I staggered under the burden, pain, and horror of knowing I was a mere moment from losing my life and I would have certainly died had Hedron altered his swing mid stream walloping the foul beast upon me to death.
With tears blurring my vision I managed to cast my only other spell and put the remaining three stirges to sleep whereupon the Old Man granted me Cuthbert’s blessing which put my shoulder back into its socket and healed all of the deep tissue injuries. The surface wounds would be allowed to heal with proper care and time. The scar is still there and still serves as a most excellent topic for pillow talk all these years later. That was the first time I was near death and it changed me. While I did not become the lech that was my savior nor did I remain the somewhat innocent prude I had been either.
With the foul blood sucking fiends dead, and while the Old Man tended to Galathos, I entertained all with my fumbling use of the ranseur attempting to slice down the stirge nest. Finally Galathos stopped laughing and told me to use the hooked side and just pull it down from its perch three feet from the high ceiling. I recall thinking to myself, ‘Wow! The designer of this weapon sure put a bit of thought into it for it slices, dices, AND hooks!’
Within the nest made from twigs, rotten linen, wool, leather and other bits of debris, we found a small handful of coin, maybe enough for a simple meal and watered ale at a simple country inn but no more.
There was a hole beyond the nest, barely wide enough for my shoulders, that led upwards at a shallow angle for a few feet before turning almost straight up. I declined attempting to scale it to our warrior’s scorn but before things could get ugly between us, the Hedron announced he would go explore it as he was a skinny scrawny old man and would most likely fit better, at least without his armor. He would also be able to see with his new eye.
We tied a rope to his leg and off he went. A few minutes later after almost getting himself stuck a couple of times he had wormed his way the length of the shallow section and was able to look straight up. It went up as far as he could see without any other alcoves or branches.
Once he returned, it was decided to spend two days resting and healing due to our injuries before we continued our exploration of the ruins and our castigation of the Old Guard Kobolds.
We left our hide and moved on a ways before I noticed the floor was damp. I hollered for Galathos to charge but it was too late, and a foul midget beast lobbed a lit torch in our general direction. We retreated for a few minutes for the fire to work itself out. Fortunately for us the kobold panicked and threw too early, giving us plenty of time to avoid injury. That they had poured the oil the previous day and it was somewhat dried out didn’t help their cause either. Fools expected us to only rest one day.
Once the fire was out we once again proceeded into the large chamber with the three stairways and the broken iron door finding our work undone. Two crossbow wielding Old Guard fired, striking a minor wound upon the Old Man’s arm but paying dearly for it with their lives.
We gathered up the equipment from one of the kobolds, the other’s armor had been rent by ranseur so we just closed the door and retied it shut before moving onwards. In the next chamber there were the better part of a dozen chain armed kobolds that I sent into their final slumbers. We even let Harolde kill a couple to get his paybacks.
The light crossbow the Old Guard had been using as a heavy crossbow or ultralight ballistae we gathered up and gave to Karhl to carry. It would serve well for traps if we didn’t take it back to Greyhawk for sale.
The next room was a torture chamber complete with rack, and beyond that a large cell. We then came upon a massive chamber with a large iron brazier and a cracked staff with a decently carved serpent head. I gathered up the staff and inspected it, the eye sockets had never been inset, nor was there a secret compartment in the head. I decided to keep the staff and strapped it to my own upon my pack before inspecting the brazier.
I cleared the soot, and determining it to be safe, a half flask of oil was added and lit, guaranteeing us many hours of light. We would use this as our next hide.
As we were not tired and had done little that day we moved forward encountering a series of long corridors, an angled corridor leading back to a door we’d tied earlier and a number of branches and doors, one of which was both iron and locked.