Session 5 (9th June)
Note if as a player your GM is likely to run Retribution by Raging Swan please do not read any further. Retribution is one of the most superb adventures, very far from a standard dungeon crawl and would be truly spoiled to play by the information contained below. If you’re a GM I really recommend buying and running Retribution, so far it’s been a blast and even an entire session without once rolling for initiative hasn’t put the party off.
We left our heroes last time facing down the final assailant of an unexpected nocturnal assault on The Priory Of Cymer. The goblin’s oversized head peered from behind his captives unconscious body, hate filling his eyes as he held a wicked looking knife to the old curate’s throat. Dvadi turned from finishing the goblin’s companion and held the creatures attention while Armitage quietly took a small pinch of wool from his spell pouch and cast a spell to daze it. As the creatures face relaxed Elrohir jumped it, pushed it’s arm wide and dragged Ruan from it’s foul clutches at which point Dvadi moved in, axe whirling and cut it to shreds.
Hederas immediately checked Ruan over. Expecting the worst, he quickly relieved the group as his medical eye realised that the elderly abbot, while beaten, bruised and unconscious, was not in immediate danger. Calling on the healing power of Irori he brought Ruan around while also healing his companions of their various minor injuries. Once Ruan came round Hederas found that he couldn’t get any sense out of him. Slowly he realised that the goblin’s thunderstone had completely shattered the old man’s hearing. Easing him to his feet the party crossed the courtyard with him towards the Chapter House where Malvenos had gone to investigate the now quiet screams a few minutes earlier.
As they passed the bodies of the fallen invaders Elrohir realised that all the goblins where wearing the same insignia, that of the Blood Moon clan. Filing this thought away for later consideration they continued to the Chapter House where Dvadi stepped inside with the party clustered behind him. Inside the scene was very different from the quiet place of study that Hederas remembered from time spent with the clergy in previous days, a thick trail of blood and gore led from one cell to another and in the darkness a light burned inside one of these two cells. Dvadi could make out a bloody shape draped over the end of the bed in the cell with the light on while Rosenn was curled in a rocking foetal position on the far end of the bed. Armitage tried to feel for magic in the area but got no sense or aura from within. Hederas quickly checked the cell he remembered belonged to Ythel at which point all heard footsteps crossing the floor above them. He shouted to Dvadi to watch the stairs and all were relieved when Malvenos’ voice echoed down to tell them that the library and treasury were empty.
After a huddled conversation Malvenos gathered Rosenn, who barely even registered his presence, and led the way to the guest quarters where Adan had been sleeping. Having identified themselves to the frightened Adan and left Malvenos, Ruan and Rosenn with him the party quickly swept the rest of the rooms finding nothing unexpected or amiss. Eiravel was still in the infirmary but having explained the situation to her she agreed to join Malvenos, Adan, Ruan and Rosenn in the guest quarters where with the doors bared they could hopefully best defend themselves if there was another onslaught. Ominously of Ythel there was no sight.
Malvenos had managed to get some semblance of a story from Rosenn who had woken in the middle of the night to find her bed chamber door slam open and a bloody thing lurch forward and land on top of her and the bed. It was her screams the party had heard echoing around the courtyard when already badly upset and having managed to light a candle, she discovered that the intruder was the savagely mutilated corpse of Tomas.
The party decided that as the attack had clearly originated from the undercroft they should descend to investigate further and drive out any remaining evil before it could regroup. Grabbing the majority of their adventuring gear they also took the two everburning torches from the Justicar Hall and descended the darkened staircase into the crypt below.
The stairs ended in a large crypt with an altar at the far end. The group had moved no further than ten feet within the room before the spectral image of an old man clad in clerical vestments burst from the wall next to the stairs screaming “Death and damnation to all Braal’s servants.” Hedaras realised immediately that the figure was the ghost of a former abbot of the priory and that he had mistaken them for followers of Braal (a god of hate, malice and revenge). Quickly he called out that they were not followers of Braal and stepped forward peacefully to speak to the being. Quoting from “The True and Present Light” and other texts he had studied with the clergy only days before, he convinced the ghost of Marel that far from being followers of Braal they had descended from the Priory, having saved the current abbot from grave danger, in order to pursue the desecrators and destroy them. While initially unconvinced Hederas managed to overcome his disbelief. Eventually, showing them the bodies of slain goblins caught in the act of desecrating his tomb, each horribly shrivelled from his touch, Marel not only blessed the group but gifted Hederas with a blessed aspergillum. He explained that his spirit is bound to the undercroft itself and therefore he could not accompany them but showed them where a wall had been broken down revealing a passageway leading further into the hillside under the priory.
The finished stone of the undercroft was replaced by the rough cracked natural stone of the sloping tunnel, a rough path through the rubble showed where they were not the first to come this way. After descending a hundred feet or so the group suddenly found themselves steping into a huge chamber with a high vaulted ceiling festooned with stalactites while ahead of them the floor dropped away into a black chasm. Staying well back from the edge Hederas picked a smallish chunk of fallen stalactite, cast a light spell on it and threw it over the edge. As the light disappeared over the edge all held their breath waiting for it to strike the bottom which it eventually did, the delay confirming what they feared, that the chasm before them was far from shallow. Armitage, ever curious, walked to the very edge and looked down to see the gleam of the rock around seventy feet below them. Turning he was suddenly aware of a pair of glowing red eyes moving quickly towards him and before he even had a chance to brace himself the near skeletal figure heaved him towards the edge. Truly believing his last moment had come he somehow managed to twist himself to fall teetering right on the edge of abyss. As the party turned to watch Elrohir was suddenly aware of an arrow shooting past him from the the rock wall behind them. Dvadi ran down the ghoul who had attacked Armitage and his battleaxe bit home badly wounding the creature while Elrohir nocked and fired an arrow also wounding the creature. Hederas raised his new aspergillum and brought this down upon the cursed foe leaving it’s foul corpse fizzing in a pool of holy water.
Dvadi moved to engage the goblin archer hiding in the shadows as Armitage crawled from the edge of the chasm. With a look of panic on it’s face it dropped it’s bow and drew a crudely fashioned short sword from a ragged scabbard. Even in his heavy chainmail shirt the filthy creature was a fast and slippery opponent and while unable to lay a blow on Dvadi it managed to evade both his blows and Elrohir’s arrows. The fight raged back and forth for a long time before eventually Dvadi’s axe found it’s target and felled the scrawny creature.
Their foes vanquished this still left the matter of the precipice and the deep chasm before them and as they searched the edge eventually Hederas found stones carved with the image of a cloven skull which he quickly identified as the mark of Braal. Further searching identified what all eventually agreed was probably the route by which the denizens of the caves had traversed the drop. As the most accomplished climber Elrohir was first to scale the wall using the narrow route down and he made it without problems. Hederas was definitely worried about falling and even having seen Elrohir make the climb he wasn’t confident that he could manage it. Eventually the party took both Hederas and Dvadi’s ropes and tied them together and Dvadi anchored the rope while Hederas and Armitage descended. This turned out to be a good plan as both slipped and nearly fell at the same tricky point around two thirds of the way down. Dvadi used the ropes to steady himself on the first half of the climb but made it down without incident.
As we leave the companions they stand at the bottom of the massive chamber, their minimal light intensifying the ebon darkness that surrounds them, preparing to continue down the single tunnel that cleaves deeper into the bowels of the earth…