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Session 18 (2nd Feb 2015)

For the second adventure in our Lonely Coast campaign I turned once again to Raging Swan.  This time I went to the brilliant Shadowed Keep On The Borderlands which got amazing reviews and makes for a totally different style of play from the groups previous adventure Retribution.  If you’d like to read the whole campaign’s adventure log it’s posted in order here.  The previous session can be found here and the whole of the Shadowed Keep sessions here.

Note if as a player your GM is likely to run Shadowed Keep On The Borderlands by Raging Swan please do not read any further, the adventure is one that will be wrecked by spoilers.

Leaving the doorway through which the sound of snoring came Armitage crept back to his companions. Leaving Hederas and Dvadi to guard them from an ambush Armitage returned to the door with Elrohir and Arris. Having thoroughly inspected the door he lifted the latch as silently as was possible and after a brief pause took a deep breath and gently opened it a crack. Peering through the narrow opening, in the dim light from where Hederas stood further up the corridor, the young halfling saw a sparsely furnished room with a large shape, larger than even a large man, half sat, half lying in a bed in the corner, the snoring came from this creature. Taking another deep breath he stuck his head further into the room, peering behind the door and barely made out in the darkness similar shape on a second bed in the far corner. Hoping that if the alarm had not been raised so far they would be able to dispatch these creatures without wakening them he drew his dagger and pointing Elrohir to the far corner opened the door. The elf and the halfling entered the room together but as the light from the now open door allowed a better sight of the occupants Elrohir froze.

The elf’s mind flashed back to the fateful day that he had allowed his cousin Aughron to continue to scout ahead while he had returned to bring the patrol. As he had rounded the bend in the path with the patrol he had seen the vicious furred thing, holding the broken, bleeding but still living Aughron in front of him. As the vile monster had caught sight of the patrol, as the cry of anguish was leaving Elrohir’s mouth, it had simply taken the head in one paw and turned it until, even at that distance, he had heard the snapping of bones. It dropped the lifeless body of his cousin, turned and fled into the woods. The patrol had pursued it, caught it and killed it while Elrohir cradled the still warm body of his fallen kin. His guilt of allowing Aughron to go alone had driven his hatred of goblinkind from that day.  The sight of the sleeping bugbear before him brought with it the bile of rage and hatred.  As he turned towards the more shadowy corner of the room and the second shape it spoke, it’s deep, harsh voice issuing a challenge even though it was barely awake.

Armitage sprang towards his target, plunging his dagger into the slumbering monster’s throat bringing a quick and clean end to the beast. Elrohir launched an frantic attack even as his target reached for it’s spiked mace stopping it from standing under a flurry of blows that it could barely defend against. Hearing the fight breaking out Hederas redirected his light spell onto a coin and threw it into the doorway, thus illuminating the room for it’s occupants. The light brought focus to the elven figure raining furious blows down upon his hated enemy. Elrohir barked to Arris to back off as the paladin ran to his aid. Ignoring his comrade’s words Arris joined the fray, eventually responsible for the killing blow. Wiping the gore from his sword and casting a filthy look at the paladin Elrohir stalked silently from the room. Not trusting himself to speak he took solace in his own thoughts in the dark corridor. Armitage meanwhile started to search the room for possible loot, quickly finding a key under the table that was an obvious fit for a chest in the corner of the room.

As the sounds of the short fight died away Hederas quietly walked past the fuming elf to the unexplored corner of the corridor and recasting his light spell, plunging the room back into darkness behind him, checked to ensure that nothing was approaching from this unexplored direction. Satisfied that around this corner there was only another empty corridor, two closed doors leading off it, he returned to check that his companions weren’t in need of aid.

Minutes later, having rearranged the room as best they could to disguise the slaughter from a casual investigation, the party were prepared to press further into the lair. Armitage and Elrohir took their normal position well ahead of the group, their way dimly light by Hederas who followed at a distance with Arris while Dvadi stayed as a back guard relying on his natural darkvision to spot pursuers.

The first doorway smelt bad, the stench of burnt meat mixing with that of faeces and the rank smell of goblin. From beneath this new door came a gentle light and the muted sounds of one or two quiet goblin voices. Gambling on the room’s occupants staying put Arris and Hederas advanced to this doorway as Elrohir and Armitage continued towards the next.

The second door was sturdier that the others that the party had seen. Again a gentle light emanated from beneath the door and while there were no voices there was the sound of life from within. Armitage closed his eyes and focused on sensing any arcane auras beyond the doorway but could sense nothing within. At their beckoning Arris and Hederas crept down to guard this doorway while Elrohir and Armitage crept on to check around the next corner before tackling this room and its occupants.

As they approached the corner Elrohir’s mind was still racing with memories of his past thrown up by the encounter with the bugbears and stench of goblins. Distracted by these thoughts he missed a slightly raised flagstone and tripped, bouncing his head off the wall and only catching his balance as he stood exposed to the corridor that they had not yet surveyed. As his vision cleared the corridor came into focus, his gaze slid over the doorway halfway along and fell on the four goblin children playing at the far end of the corridor. The child facing Elrohir raised his eyes, attracted by the sudden movement, raised his arm as his mouth dropped open. The other children turned to follow their playmate’s gaze and as they did so Elrohir began to run towards them, sword drawn.

Behind him Armitage peered around the corner to see why friendiend had suddenly run off and also spotted the children. Summoning his power once more he focused on the children sending out the same energy he’d used to cause so many of their enemies to sleep. Two of the children suddenly collapsed, succumbing to Armitage’s power, however one turned and fled as Armitage was barely halfway down the corridor. Seeing he could not stop the alarm being raised Elrohir turned on his heels and returned the way that he had come. As he reached Armitage he continued past him telling him to run as he went. Armitage saw the final child drop to her knees, trying to wake her friends before turned to see Elrohir passing Arris and Hederas and hearing him telling them to run as well.

Armitage ran to the door that Hederas and Arris were next to, seeing the question in their eyes. On the assumption that the room contained Ruknor, he threw open the door and dived inside. Seeing their companion taking decisive action Arris and Hederas followed their small friend into the room. As Elrohir passed Dvadi he barely slowed as he told him to get back to the surface. Seeing his other three companions entering the room Dvadi decided to check what they were doing first.

Elrohir had run almost back to the room where they had encountered the bugbears before he realised that he was alone. The darkness had closed around him and behind him lay only utter blackness, with no sign of Hederas’ light. Unsure of where his friends were and unwilling to be discovered alone in the blackness when the alarm was fully raised he decided to press on and get back to the tower. With nothing to guide him but his hands on the walls and his memory of the rooms they had passed through he skirted the tremendous pit they had passed, feeling it’s yawning blackness in his mind. Only when he finally approached the guardroom did the dim light become enough that he was more comfortable. Passing by the corpses that lay where they had fallen he mounted the stairs and eventually found himself in the daylight of the courtyard. Running for the tower he hoped that Rethnic was awake and alert enough to open the door quickly for him.

Below ground the stench grew suddenly stronger as Armitage entered the large, high ceilinged room. His eyes took in the slender pillars that held up the roof, the fell symbols painted in what looked like blood on the walls and the large altar, covered in burning candles, in a recess. What he focused on though were the two guards sat on either side of a door on the far wall, both of whom looked up in surprise as the diminutive figure leapt into the room. Almost without thought again he felt the power rise within him and again focused it on the sentries who slid back down as they were beginning to rise, both were asleep before Hederas and Arris pushed past into the room.

Hederas ran to the door between the sleeping sentries, checking that they hadn’t missed anyone else by the altar on the way. Dvadi arrived just as Armitage was appraising Hederas of recent events. Closing the door behind them Armitage pulled out a scroll that would allow him to magically lock the door and listened hard for sounds in the corridor outside. Dvadi ran to the sleeping guards and despatched the closest one of them, Hederas lowered his crossbow and finished the second. Hederas turned his attention on the door and listened carefully while Arris turned his attention to the altar and the symbols on the rear wall. Casting his mind back to his lessons he studied the symbols and came to the conclusion that these were designed to look impressive but actually lacked any real power or significance. The altar on the other hand was dedicated to dark powers and the cloth covering it bore the signs of sacrifice. Once satisfied that there were no voices behind the door Hederas strode over to the altar and heaved the covering and it’s contents onto the floor. With the candles extinguished the only illumination now came from Hederas breastplate, glowing from divine light.

Taking over from Hederas, Dvadi stepped up to the door and listened carefully. Suddenly he realised that while there were no voices beyond the door there was definitely the sound of quiet movement. Arris crossed to backup his comrade as Dvadi called out to warn the group and grasping his axe tightly he lifted the latch on the door and opened it gently. As they peered through the gap into the pitch blackness inside a wave of flame leapt out searing both companions and lighting up Dvadi’s beard. The relative darkness of the room briefly flashed into brilliant light as the flame crawled across the wall. The dwarf dropped his axe and jumped back desperately trying to extinguish his beard. Hederas spun as the light in the room blossomed and called on Irori’s power to create water directly above his comrade putting out the remaining flames. The searing pain of the heat played across Arris’ chest and called out to Darlen for healing, feeling the divine power pushing the pain of the burning back.

Dvadi scooped his fallen axe from the floor and stepped through the doorway into the dark room. His dwarven eyesight took in the bed chamber behind the goblin that stood in filthy robes in front of him. Hederas raced over to his friends in order to light up the area for Arris who moved to step up beside Dvadi. Arris swung his great sword in a huge arc but it sliced just above his foes head, clanging into the wall. Fire leapt from the wand in the goblin’s hands slamming into the wall above Dvadi’s head, leaving the stones on the wall glowing a brilliant red and cracking as they cooled. Dvadi’s blood was pumping in his ears as his axe swung for the goblin, as it leapt backwards he carved a deep wound the whole length of it’s body and into its thigh. Arris swung his blade back, this time slightly lower, but as the goblin staggered again the blade missed however this time as it continued on it’s arc it connected with Dvadi’s head slicing a deep wound into him. Blood poured down the dwarf’s face as the goblins wand lit up the wall behind Arris. Blinking the blood from his eyes the next blow from the dwarf’s waraxe again went wide. The goblin slapped Arris open palmed and Arris felt a chill force emanating from the touch but fought against the sensation and felt it quickly fade out. As Hederas called on Irori to heal his comrades Dvadi took a final swing at the goblin slicing him into two and splattering his entrails across Arris. The sudden silence within the room was only broken by the sounds of heavy, painful breathing and occasional groan of pain as the warriors gingerly tested the extent of their injuries.

In the corridor outside Armitage could hear the shouting of goblins obviously raising the alarm that intruders were in the lair…