BOOK III - BARROW OF THE FORGOTTEN KING

To save the kingdom from destruction, they must challenge a god.
Lewis's D&D 3.5 campaign set in the Principality of Corwyn in the mythical world of the North Kingdom. Evil yuan-ti conspire to destroy a kingdom using dark rituals and the bones of a long-dead king. To win the day, heroes must storm the yuan-ti fortress and wrest the bones from the cultists' clutches before they complete their rituals and unleash a far greater menace upon the world.
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Lewis
Epic Level 25
Posts: 523
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:40 pm
Location: Secret Lair, in a cavern somewhere beneath Telford.

Re: BOOK III - BARROW OF THE FORGOTTEN KING

Postby Lewis » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:10 pm

Book Three – “Barrow of the Forgotten King” Chapter Eleven - “Spiders! Why did it have to be spiders?”

From the vague description offered by the desperate blood chasers, Awvry and Leera guess that the creature guarding the waterfall is some sort of fey, possibly a Fossergrim. This peaks Leera’s interest, as the waterfall spirits have occasionally been known to teach incredible songs to those who can bargain successfully with the fey. Cautiously, the two women plus Sylvar make their way down the water-slick steps to a narrow ledge between a rushing waterfall and a vast cavern, the bottom of which is too far down to be glimpsed, even by the various enhanced senses of the elven adventurers.

Sure enough, a figure suddenly appears from the endlessly falling water. It is a tall, handsome, bearded man with eyes of the deepest blue. He gives his name as Sigur and challenges the adventurers to explain themselves. At first the imposing fey is apparently set against the characters, since he observed them making peace with the evil Varags. However, the presence of Awvry and especially the lovely Leera soon makes him forget his initial hostility. He temporarily magically waterproofs Leera’s lyre so that she can play songs for him.

Sigur challenges the party to a wager over a game of Gwyddbwyll (‘the Tables’). If the fossergrim wins, he keeps the beautiful travelling Gwyddbwyll set given to the party by the grateful citizens of Newkeep. If the heroes win, then Sigur will provide them with information and healing. Leera says, considering what she’s heard about fey, this bargain is a pretty good one. The party decide that Alun has the best chance of winning and so the young duskblade lays out the pieces and commences play. Fortunately, the party’s faith in Alun is well placed, his skilful play soon forces Sigur to make a terrible tactical error, which the duskblade exploits to clinch victory.

Sigur keeps his end of the bargain and heals members of the party, also restoring Sylvar’s lost constitution from the leeches’ blood drain. The fossergrim explains that, only an hour or so ago, he harrassed a party of tomb-robbers to move quickly on past his waterfall and on into a room ahead inhabited by a terrible monster, hoping the two sides would destroy each other. The inhabitant of the next room is a large monstrous spider, which Sigur calls ‘tomb-tainted’. Apparently, like undead, it feeds off negative energy. Worse, anyone it bites will also be tainted, and healing spells will actually harm them. The fossergrim agrees that, if the party go forward and return to confirm the spider is destroyed, he will heal them as much as he can and also allow the Varags to exit to the outside world, via the waterfall (although he makes no promise they will actually make it to the surface, several hundred feet above, up a slippery cliff).

While all this is going on, Leera decides to bargain with Sigur for the possible boon of learning a fabulous new song. The two engage in an intense private conversation. Finally, the fey agrees to provide the bard with both a song far better than those she already knows and to make her lyre permanently waterproof (and able to endure elements). Leera’s companions do not hear what her end of the bargain is before Sigur takes hold of her and both disappear into the falling waters. Alun quickly returns to the Varags and tells Magruug to leave immediately while Sigur is otherwise engaged. At the last second, the duskblade remembers to claim the handy haversack™!

The rest of the party take some time preparing to breach the room ahead. When Sylvar peers through the door, he sees it is largely filled with webs and spots some movement. By the time the adventurers have agreed what to do, Leera has reappeared. Alun pushes his way into the webs, where he is attacked by a swarm of fist sized red spiders. The young duskblade retreats and is helped to remove the unnatural arachnids. However, the tomb-tainted venom has already entered the duskblade’s bloodstream and corrupted his life force.

As a shambling mummified figure emerges from the webs, the party scatter around the room. Alun, Grimm and Gavin engage the ‘mummy’. Leera then pulls a set of pan-pipes from her pack and begins to play an unearthly tune. Within seconds, a swarm of 300 rats pour out from cracks in the floor and walls and attack the ‘mummy’. When it then explodes, releasing another broodswarm of spiders, the rodents attack these, helping to neutralise the tomb-tained eight-legged freaks!

Soon, hundreds of spiders and rats lie dead, but with no further damage to the party. The bard commands the remaining rodents to head up some stairs to a balcony, where Sylvar has spied the horse-sized tomb spider. The much reduced rat swarm provide a vital distraction as they sacrifice themselves to occupy the spider while the heroes take up positions. As the last poor little rat dies, the party attack. I’ll spare you the details, but no-one is surprised when Sylvar (yet again!) finishes the fight with a sneaky backstab that drops the monster dead.

Alun returns to Sigur, who is able to confirm that the tomb-taint will fortunately wear off after a minute or so. The fey warns the party that ‘The Betrayer’ – the knight who turned against the unnamed king – lies ahead of them, forced into a form of eternal life to protect the tomb of his betrayed lord. This could be their deadliest challenge yet...

Playing: Telford: Dark Heresy.
Running: Cannock: Legends of Corwyn/D&D, Telford: Forgotten Realms: Heroes of Faerûn/D&D.
Prepping: Chill (modern day horror) Tales From The Loop (1980s sci-fi/horror)

User avatar
Lewis
Epic Level 25
Posts: 523
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:40 pm
Location: Secret Lair, in a cavern somewhere beneath Telford.

Re: BOOK III - BARROW OF THE FORGOTTEN KING

Postby Lewis » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:14 pm

Book Three - “Barrow of the Forgotten King” - Chapter Twelve - “Betrayal betrays the Betrayer”

Ignoring undisturbed side-chambers, Sylvar and Grimm lead the way through a series of enchanted rooms. Magically created pictures on the walls show the story of the forgotten king and his betrayal by his most trusted knight – a tall raven-haired man – now known only as ‘The Betrayer’.

In the third such room, the heroes encounter an enchanted mirror. Sylvar and Alun look into the mirror and are presented with visions of their most shameful ever actions. As the elf admits, “We have done … questionable things”. The two adventurers are shaken to their emotional cores by this relentless self-knowledge, leaving them doubting themselves for some time to come.

In a large room nearby, the party come face to face with The Betrayer, seated on a throne. It appears that treacherous knight was long ago cursed with some form of eternal life to protect the tomb of the very king he betrayed. The heroes have a sudden brainwave and pry the enchanted mirror off the wall and trick the Betrayer in to looking into it himself. Faced with the truth of the greatest betrayal in history, the furious guardian is immediately disadvantaged by the same self-loathing that has assailed Sylvar and Alun.

The Betrayer launches an attack on the party, summoning two highly dangerous skeletal knights on horseback. Each of the knights and their mounts are fused into a hideous combined undead horror. Alun and Grimm engage one of the undead knights and the Betrayer himself. Meanwhile, Sylvar and Gavin engage the other knight. Awvry and Leera initially provide magical enhancement to their allies. The Betrayer uses a terribly effective supernatural power to issue a call to betrayal, forcing the barbarian and the duskblade to turn on each other. Leera again uses her pan-pipes to summon a swarm of rats. The half-drow bard directs the rodents to attack the Betrayer, which reduces his ability to strike at Alun and Grimm. Unfortunately, the Betrayer has already inflicted a terrible form of rot on the barbarian, ruining the half-orc’s good looks.

The battle is hard and deadly. Sylvar is forced to use up healing potions to stay alive. Then, both Leera and Awvry are forced to use up their few remaining healing spells to save the elven rogue and the duskblade, who both take terrible damage from the skeletal knights and nearly die. Jomak makes several attempts to turn away the foul undead in the name of Pelor. However, the fledgling cleric’s faith is simply not enough to counter such powerful undead. Finally, Gavin puts one knight down and Jomak decides to join the melee against the Betrayer. The monk/cleric trips the ancient guardian, finally allowing Grimm to finish him off with a well-aimed battle-axe. With this, the other knight crumbles to dust.

Awvry’s healing aura returns Sylvar and Alun to consciousness. The rogue finds some coffers and adds the gold and other treasure therein to his handy haversack ™. Meanwhile, Gavin makes a more important discovery. The scout’s acute elven senses reveal a secret door. The party open the door and see a long staircase, leading down. In the distance, they can hear shouting and the sound of pickaxes. Have the heroes finally caught up with Xeron and his tomb robbers..

Playing: Telford: Dark Heresy.
Running: Cannock: Legends of Corwyn/D&D, Telford: Forgotten Realms: Heroes of Faerûn/D&D.
Prepping: Chill (modern day horror) Tales From The Loop (1980s sci-fi/horror)

User avatar
Lewis
Epic Level 25
Posts: 523
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:40 pm
Location: Secret Lair, in a cavern somewhere beneath Telford.

Re: BOOK III - BARROW OF THE FORGOTTEN KING

Postby Lewis » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:20 pm

Book Three – “Barrow of the Forgotten King”

Chapter Thirteen - “The King's Tomb”


Sylvar leads the party down a tight stairway, which descends to a landing below. Between sharp ringing reports that must be a metal tool against stone he hears shouting in a guttural language (goblin). The narrow stairs give way to a wide room lit by faint white light.

Four statues stand in the wide area where the room opens up, each apparently ensorcelled to add a lifelike aspect to it. One represents a tall male human who has a salt-and-pepper beard, plate armor, and a symbol of Heironeous emblazoned on his shield. His brown eyes flash and his black hair blows in an illusionary wind. Another shows a female elf dresses in armor made from overlapping metal leaves. Her tall bow is made of ivory, and the green of her cloak seems to blend into the background of the room. She crouches in a hunter's stance, peering off in the distance at an unseen target. The red-haired woman from the paintings the heroes have seen is depicted in the third statue. Her hair, kept in check by a silver circlet set with a gleaming diamond, falls in waves down her back, over her white and gold robes. In one hand, she holds a staff tipped with a dragon's head. Her other hand stretched out to the statue across the room – a kingly figure. The gold crown on his head nearly blends into his blond, flowing hair. The man”s blue eyes shimmer in the dim light as he stares across the room at the red-haired woman. He holds a black longsword point down in one hand. The man”s other hand is held out, palm upward, toward the statue of the woman.

Beyond the statues, sarcophagi along the southern wall have been wrenched open, their lids cast to one side. From where Sylvar stands, he cannot see the eastern part of the room, but can tell the shouting and ringing come from there. Hiding by one statue is a well-armored male hobgoblin. However, Sylvar is able to out-sneak him and creep forward to get a complete view of the room.

Two more thoughtlessly opened sarcophagi occupy the eastern portion of the room. Here also, swinging a pick in order to enlarge a small hole in the floor is another male hobgoblin clad in half-plate, his black hair shorn close to his scalp. Nearby stands a slight but imposing man in rich violet robes, reptilian scales on his forehead and bald pate, as well as his bright yellow eyes, marking him as not quite human. He leans wearily on and ornate spear.

Keeping a close eye on the nearest hobgoblin, Sylvar beckons his comrades forwards one-at-a-time. Grimm, Alun and Gavin are all well placed before the hobgoblin hears Jomak approaching and shouts a warning to his fellows.

Spotting the heroes, Xeron splutters “Fools! You'll ruin everything!”, snatches a figurine from a cord round his neck and throws it to a space next to the hobgoblin guard. The figurine shatters, magically summoning a hideous eye-less snake-like monster with wicked clawed talons. Awvry recognises it as a Nagatha and is concerned lest it bite one of her comrades – the monster is deadly poisonous, too! She switches her aura between damage reduction and healing, keeping her comrades on their feet.

Gavin flits around sniping at Xeron (to no effect) and the hobgoblins, while Alun and Grimm melee with the hobgoblins and the Nagatha. Xeron casts spells at the two frontline fighters. The inhuman sorcerer causes Alun to temporarily flee, overcome with fear. He then weakens Grimm, robbing the half-orc of strength with an enfeebling ray. Sylvar sneaks in and manages to kill the Nagatha, but only after it has inflicted much damage on the duskblade and the barbarian. Jomak joins in, tripping the hobgoblins, but is nearly put down when one of them slices him with a greataxe.

Meanwhile, despite knowing the risk from repeated uses, Leera attempts to summon a swarm of rats for the third time today, intending to distract Xeron with them. Sort of a good news/bad news situation. Good news is, the rats turn up. Bad news is, Leera loses control and they attack her. In moments the beautiful half-elf is covered with angry rodents. Awvry sends Mr Wolf to help out the hapless bard. Despite the loyal lupine’s help, Leera plays no further useful part in the combat.

Xeron hits Sylvar and Gavin with acid arrow spells, but when his underlings go down, he suddenly faces Grimm and Alun on his own. In close combat, the sorcerer is no match for the mighty barbarian’s axe or the duskblade’s enchanted longsword, and his end now comes surprisingly swiftly at their blades.

As the dust settles, the party suddenly realise that all four statues are now looking at them. A translucent apparition steps forward from the statue of the king and speaks in a strong but distant voice. Initially, the forgotten monarch speaks in the Old Tongue, but switches to an archaic form of the Common Tongue of the North Kingdom. He introduces himself as Theron and thanks the party. King Theron then informs them of an ancient prophesy that said his rule would end prematurely, but that he would return to aid the Kingdom in its hour of direst need. He says that the evil sorcerer mentioned the Vanguard of Sertrous. The erstwhile ruler does not know what this “Vanguard of Sertrous” is, but he is certain it is evil and must not triumph.

Theron explains that the villains stole the weapons of his champions and also stole his bones. With his mortal remains missing, the king does not know how the prophesy will be fulfilled. However, there is one piece of good news. He reveals a hidden compartment in his sarcophagus and hands over to the party the enchanted longsword that they saw in the pictures and statues. Theron names it 'Merthúvial'. Although it potentially has immense powers, for now the party will only be able to use a fraction of them. As he says before he fades away, “This weapon once helped me save a kingdom. May it aid you to do the same.”

The heroes work the hole in the floor until it is large enough for them to pass through, keen to continue the chase for the Halfling and goblin that made off with the weapons and bones. They drop through into a freshly – and magically – dug tunnel that runs at a 45 degree angle back towards the surface (so tempting) but Grimm and Gavin find the tracks of their quarry lead downwards.

After travelling down 1000 feet, the tunnel intersects a huge vertical chamber under the earth, pulsing with immense magical power. They find the dead body of a Halfling, slain by arrows and many small bites, and a toppled statue of a goblin. Nearby are two empty sacks, and no sign of the bones or weapons. Sylvar searches the Halfling and finds a piece of paper. The party are able to decode the letter and find it is a communication from Xeron to someone called ’Fadheela’.

Leera peers into the huge chimney-like cavern and, with a shock, recognises it for what it is. Haltingly, she reveals that it is one of the major secrets of the Underdark – an “Earth Node”. There are many such nodes of great earth power, scattered throughout the underground realms. Those who know the proper rituals, and have enough magic power, can activate an earth node and magically travel instantly to another node. The destination node may be an immense distance away, but could also be in a place inaccessible from the surface - only accessible by earth node. Surely the chase can”t be over at such a crucial moment? Are the heroes unable to follow whoever has taken the weapons through the magical transport network?

Leera takes a deep breath. “I saw my mother, a drow priestess, activate nodes when I was a child. I.. I think I can remember the rituals, the songs she sang to the Earth. If I rest I should have enough magic power to activate this one.” She swallows, “Yes, yes… I can do it, let me sleep and then I'll activate it and we'll have to hope we can cope with whatever is on the other side!”

END OF BOOK THREE

Playing: Telford: Dark Heresy.
Running: Cannock: Legends of Corwyn/D&D, Telford: Forgotten Realms: Heroes of Faerûn/D&D.
Prepping: Chill (modern day horror) Tales From The Loop (1980s sci-fi/horror)


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