2. Entry to the Seven-Pillared Hall – 27th February 2015
Guided by the halfling Rendil, the group found their weary way to the Seven-Pillared Hall.
Along the Road of Lanterns that led to the Hall, they encountered a short scruffy Kobold, who, unlike others in the past, did not automatically attack the group. Indeed he seemed to be alone. From the size of the kobold, which was unusually small, and from the manner of his attire, which was shabby at best, one could only imagine that it was some manner of rogue or thief from the city.
Despite this, it was not thievery that brought the kobold to them, but the offer of selling a map to the travellers, whom the kobold had witnessed were new to the area. However, despite this seeming disreputable creature offering legitimate purchase, Lady Knuch decided that she would try to blatantly steal one of the many maps from the undernourished kobold. Her attempt failed, which didn’t seem to surprise any of the group, and the kobold ran off, taking all his maps with him.
The group continued onwards.
The heart of Thunderspire’s upper level was the Seven-Pillared Hall. Dozens of lanterns hang from the walls and thick pillars of this great chamber. The chamber walls were fashioned into building facades, so the Hall appears more like a city square than an underground cavern. Merchants conduct business in the Hall, at the behest and with the permission of the Mages of Saruun we are told by Rendil. It was once the market square and meeting place of the ancient under-mountain city of Saruum Khel. In some ways, it still serves as a market and meeting place of sort, but for a different kind of inhabitant. Today, the Mages of Saruun provide order and safety within the Hall, chiefly so they can trade with the intelligent monster races that live within the Labyrinth and the Underdark beyond.
The group goes directly to the Halfmoon Inn, where upon seeing Rendil, the owners embraced their wayward son heartily, very much gratified for having had him return in one piece. So grateful were they to the group that they immediately offered permanent room and board and use of their stables for free during their stay here. The family seemed very close-knit, something that had been heartily missing from this group of heroes for some time now.
Rendil then gives them a quick tour of some of the buildings in the Hall, pointing out the Waterfall and its corresponding lake and river on the way, which Lady Knuck decided to investigate by jumping in, though thankfully with a rope attached. The waterfall and corresponding river, it is said, had taken many dwarves into the airless caverns below, never to be seen again due to the swift-flowing current.
Randil also pointed out the Custom House, which is currently the headquarters of the enforcers employed by the Mages of Sarrun. Even the exterior was guarded.
The only other building that was pointed out, other than the Halfmoon Inn, was Gendar’s Curios and Relics, which Rendil thought might hold some books or rituals that Corvar asked about. Unfortunately this shop, as well as all the others were temporarily closed due to a stocktaking and administration meeting by the Mages of Sarrun, so the group were unable to offload or purchase any goods.
Finding nothing else to do really, they headed back to the Halfmoon in where Lady Knuck tried to get more information on the mages of Saruun from those in the tavern room, however her attempts only seemed to cause those that had been mumbling about the mages to promptly shut up, giving nervous glances around. It seems that the mages power within the Seven-Pillared Hall is not to be underestimated.
Corvar also had seated himself in the tavern area in order to hear rumors, though did not approach anyone. His skills in perception, learned from hard life in the forest seemed to do him credit, for he took note of a lost Dire Boar that Ulthand would be very much pleased to have returned to him alive.
Exhausted after their long trip, and subsequent fight earlier to free Rendil, the group retired for the evening to the Halfmoon Inn’s sleeping quarters.
The next day found them wandering around the Seven-Pillared Hall, exploring and yet finding little of interest at first since all the shops were closed and most of the people inhabiting the area seemed to have hidden themselves away, potentially due to the current close scrutiny of the mages of Saruun.
It was during this time that the group heard some voices shouting from down one of the many passageways leading from the Hall. Going to investigate, they soon found themselves at odds with a dwarf called Thain Cardanas, who appeared to be in dubious receipt of his faculties, and several of his burly lackeys who seemed likewise about to froth at the mouth.
In truth I did not really catch what went so catastrophically wrong with the conversation. I think the dwarf took offense at the group not knowing who he was, before ranting about his quest to regain his place in the family line. The details escaped me in a fit of astonishment that someone so clearly bereft of sanity could be still wandering around, and not only that, but seeming to hold onto a group of men, brigands or not. Perhaps it was fear that kept them with him, or coin, for surely it could not have been his masterful leadership.
As I said, the situation degenerated quickly and soon the dwarf’s bandits were attacking our group and battle ensued.
It was with some trepidation that I watched the battle, for the previous one they had fought only the night before had not gone well, and they were now up against opponents that appeared to be maddened, and thus far less likely to be predictable in their attacks. My skepticism was thankfully, mostly, unfounded. Although those burly warriors did hit devastatingly hard, the group did manage to overcome them. It was however the mad dwarf, Thain Cardanas that gave them the most trouble for he had such a way with words that he managed to intimidate and demean three of the party members.
Lady Knuck found herself on the ill-end of his vicious tongue, his comments about her cracked visage seeming to strike deep.
Likewise Corvar found himself the victim of the dwarf’s harsh words, the threat of being made into a pot pie made him tremble, but ultimately only seemed to focus his determination to take down the threat to his person once he had sufficiently recovered.
Heskan was however the worst off of the group, for when Cardanas demeaned the size of his flaming dragon balls it caused him to retaliate. However the comments seemed to have struck so deep into him that he failed catastrophically and ended up getting his balls cleaved critically, so much so that he ended up in desperate need of aid.
Even Ulrik was not immune to the effects of the battle, for when his spirit companion Land Shark got damaged in battle he was overcome with grief, unusually so. In an attempt to shake off this sudden and somewhat debilitating condition in the middle of battle, he attempted to bluff himself into believing the companion meant nothing to him. Fortunately or unfortunately he succeeded, but at what cost? Hopefully with time and rest he will be able to reassert the bond between himself and the spirit, which had been, up until now, one of the most enduring connections in the group.
Despite all this, the group did manage to overcome the enemies. Cardanas, seeing himself overwhelmed, made an attempt to flee, but both Corvar and Quelanna took him out before he was able to do so. There was only one enemy left, a last berserker mercenary, which, seeing all his companions dead, succumbed to the demands that he surrender. He knelt to show his acceptance of his position, however what happened next I could barely believe to watch, for Quelanna, who had thus far been fairly quiet in the group went around him and stabbed him in the back. The action prompted a ripple of shock through some members of the group, and not in others. How far had the group fallen that they would do such a henious act against an unarmed and surrendered man?
While the most horrible act was taking place, Corvar had gone over to the corpse of the dwarf that had threatened him, perhaps ensuring his death. He, unnoticed by the rest of the group, picked up some scraps of paper with dwarven runes on them that had been stuffed in the dwarf’s pockets to be inspected later. Picking up the only other useful item there, the dwarf’s fancy crossbow, he headed back to the rest of the group with it in hand.
The group, silent after the fight, headed back to the Halfmoon to spend the rest of the day in quiet contemplation of the day and what they had witnessed. The day passed and the night as well, dawning the next day, such as it was in the Seven-Pillared Hall.