Headhunters

Murkelmor - Rematch

As a result of Brienn’s death, the party needed to sell off some loot and restock on equipment. The best place for that seemed to be “the Deep Gem Company”. In the shop they were greeted by Ulthand Deepgem. He was mighty impressed by the party sacking the Duergar, and not only gave them some extra gold for their gems, but also told them a fantastic story about a mighty cleric who last had been seen travelling to the Horned Hold to face an ancient and powerful foe. Being an old adventurer himself, Ulthand saw that he was wearing a very special and unique armor.

He also confided that he’d lost his precious pet, a dire boar, which he suspected had been captured by gnolls.

After Brienn was resurrected our heroes returned to Murkelmor’s chamber. Fully loaded on powers the fight went better this time. The melee heroes were fighting up close while Thom and Chemash were sniping away from a distance. Slowly Murkelmor’s guards and mages were ground down despite him using healing powers on them.

When the situation seemed totally hopeless for Murkelmor, he escaped into one of the roaring furnaces and disappeared. Before he did that Brienn managed to drive her sword through his thick armor with a perfect hit.

Also one of the Theurges was captured and subdued by Chemash.

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A tragedy

Barrack and Chemash tried to interrogate the two duergar prisoners. That failed. Chemash dragged one of the prisoners into a room and executed him. Barrack tried to drag the other prisoner to the chasm, but on the way there he escaped. Before getting far he was shot in the back by Brienn and fell howling into the deep…

During a short rest Barrack vanished into thin air and returned a short while later. Germanicus knew that he’d been called to meet Bahamut. When he came back, the party continued further into the dungeon.

Behind a pair of massively impressive bronze doors they encountered Murkelmor and his lackeys. But being weakened and not at full strenght proved to be fatal for Brienn. The might of Murkelmor was simply too much, and they had to flee back to the Seven Pillared Hall.

Luckily Phaledra had a scroll of raise dead, a costly ritual, but Brienn was restored to life.

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The Ogre

Unfortunately the duergar shaman succeeds in escaping and warning the nearby Ogre and his orch patrol. Without hesitation they engage the party. For a while it looks as if they might have the upper hand in the fight, but our valiant heros fight fiercly and again stand victorious.

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The fight continues

The menacing look of the vicious Krand sends shivers down the spines of the heroic party. Especially Thom, who decides to disengage for a while to gather his thoughts (and courage). Also, for some inexplicable reason, Arzshnagog has to leave. Luckily Barrack, who cannot resist a good “chop them up” isn’t far behind, and takes his place in the fight.

In the true spirit of the Platinum Dragon Barrack and Germanicus bravely stands in the front line against the evil duergar and the raging hobgoblin.

Almost the entire fight takes place in the door opening between the bridge and the western part of the hold. Not being able to move further, the party has to endure a constant barrage of arrows from the two Arbalesters as well as the fiery magic from the hobgoblin shaman.

Thom returns and uses his poison cloud, but again the duergar succeeds in closing the doors and the cloud doesn’t do much damage until it dissipates.

Afte a very intense fight the party stand victorious with a couple of duergar having surrendered.

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Stand-off with Krand

The party crosses over the nearby bridge. Through arrow slits in a pair of locked doors they get fired upon by strange robot cross-bows. Arzshnagog kicks the doors open and engages the cross-bows thingies and the duergar that also were lurking behind the doors. They are supported by Krand and a duergar theurge. Chemash casts Hunger of Hadar, but the dwarves closing the door breaks the spell.

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Facing Rundarr

Thom and Barrack meets up with the rest of the party. Chemash and Brienn catch their attention by firing arrows over the chasm. Together the party travels through the smithy and faces Rundarr the duergar champion. They beat him and finds three thralls who inform them that there are more thralls deeper into the hold.

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Chemash the sneak

After having thoroughly searched the smithy the adventurers couldn’t but conclude that there wasn’t much loot to be found… neither that nor any more enemies for that matter… Although they were aware of where Urwol had tried to flee, they didn’t know what challenges lay ahead in that direction.

However, a locked door to the south west had sparkled Chemash’s interest, and without further ado he picked it open. Behind it was one of the narrow bridges spanning the chasm over to another part of the Horned Hold. Helped by the surrounding darkness (except for a burning lantern in the middle of the bridge), and his innate shadow walk ability he unnoticed reached the other end of the bridge. The locked door at this end of the bridge was no problem for this daring adventurer, and when picked, it opened to a unmanned room.

Realising that he might be in trouble if enemies were encountered he decided to return and fetch the rest of the party – including the not so dexterous warlord and cleric. Naturally, alone he hadn’t had any problems sneaking over the bridge, but bringing the whole clumsy party over was like asking for trouble. And not unexpectedly the party came under cross-bow fire.. with a hail of bolts being shot at them from an unknown locations off in the darkness. However, these bolts didn’t do any serious harm, they only rather startled the party.

Listening carefully at every door the adventurous group proceeded further and into a chamber filled with wraiths which they gave a quick demise into a second death.

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Urwol's smithy

Not wasting any time following the fleeing orchs deeper into the hold, the adventurers boldly pushed forward. Not before long they could se the flickering light of flames, and over the thundering strokes of heavy hammers hear orchs excitedly speaking to each other. Apparently the orchs had fled to warn their friends in the smithy.

Before they could organize a more proper defense the adventurers rushed into the the smithy, where they amongst other things saw a dark skinned dwarf with fiery beard beating the living daylights out of a piece of molten metal. Enraged by this sight Germanicus undauntingly lunged forward to send the dwarf to dwarf heaven (or maybe dwarf hell in this case). Arsznagog, the brilliant tactician, immediately realised that this wasn’t a feasable tactics and followed suit, trying to protect the poor cleric’s back. That turned out to be a dangerous, but ultimately wise choise.

When the people in the room noticed the party combat immediately ensued. Also, something very strange happened as the dwarf suddenly vanished – he had become completely invisible. Also, he and the orcs were not the only foes in the room, which the two rushers were soon to find out.

From another opening the master smith came running to aid his allies (although cursing the incompetence of them, as well as deriding the adventurers, promising a one way ticked to the Nine Hells). The following battle was fierce… Arzshagog took heavy damage from the orchs, and were only a hair’s breadth from getting his head chopped off by a greataxe. While the melee fighters were busy in the room, the casters of the party attacked from the adjacent corridor. Eventually the foes were slain, but the two dwarves that could turn invisible were no where to be seen (doh)!

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Arriving at the Hold

Once again the adventurers enter the myriad of tunnels stretching out in all directions from the Seven Pillared Hall. Once again using the map that Chemosh acquired from Charrak they follow the Road of Shadows until it branches off southward into a minor tunnel. The tunnel emerges on the ledge of a chasm which eventually leads to the first of the strongholds.

From a safe distance they can see the imposing fortress of the closest stronghold, but also that the only entrance from this direction is a portecullis guarded by a group of orchs. When the adventurers prepare to sneak closer to the portecullis, Germanicus bravely decides not to do so by hurling a brilliant radiant Lance of Faith at the guards.

Although the guards have some protection from the portecullis and are able to use their longspears to their advantage, the adventurers eventually gain the upper hand, kill two of the guards, and force the remaining two to flee deeper into the hold…

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New acquaintances

With Terrlen still unconscious the party returns to the Seven Pillared Hall. After some thought they decide to hand Therrlen over to Phaledra in The Temple of Hidden Light to keep the denizens safe from his curse, but also to keep him from harming himself. However, Phaledra didn’t know much about lychantrophy so the party decided to speak to Vadriar to see if he had more information. Vadriar was able to tell that lychantrophy as such wasn’t contagious, and in this case probably derived from a curse connected to the bronze gong Therrlen had seen in his visions.

When the party is sitting in the Halfmoon Inn, the tavern door suddenly opens and in steps an elven ranger with a huge boar by her side, tighly followed by an imposing warrior fully clad in a shining platemail armor. The two introduce themselves as Brienn and Arzshnagog. Although the party is a bit suspicious at first both Brienn and Arzshnagog seem to be honorable and trustworthy, and are as such a welcome addition to the party (because Barrack had to be present at the annual celebrations of Bahamut’s birthday).

With this addtion, the party is once again a force to be reckoned with, and thus they again set out to investigate the Horned Hold…

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