7. Urwol’s Keep – 24th April 2015
The group stepped forth from the shadows of the passageway and headed for the first and closest of the watchtowers, the only one in fact that they could reach from this direction. If they had hoped to take the watchtower by surprise, they failed, for not only the guards on the inside of the portcullis noticed them, but guards from the main keep did also, soon firing barrages of arrows at them from across the void.
Unfortunately the volley of arrows hurts their pack mule, Hendrix, and only the quick reactions of Corvar stop it from panicking and running off. Removing the healing potions and the Court of Bones key from the packs on Hendrix, he sends the mule off back out into the darkened corridor out of sight, hoping that the scent of the undead zombie wings in the packs will keep scavengers away.
The group charge the portcullis and set about attacking it, and the orcs on the other side. Ulrik summons Land Shark inside, while the others attack through it or try to damage the portcullis itself. The latter was a long and drawn-out process, for while some damage was done, poor communication or insight seems to have caused others to undo the damage.
One orc seemed to decide it was best to try and sneak out through some manner of trap door to the outside, and try to take on the group from behind, but this backfired upon him and he ends up surrounded and so scared that he runs off, before leaping to his death into the void.
Perhaps it was the screaming death-cry, or the sudden appearance of Heskan that managed to worry the orcs sufficiently that they were turning to run for help, with Titan translating their worried cries, letting the group know of this problem. The group redoubled its efforts to getting the portcullis open, even as the orcs are running towards the back of the room, intent on getting help. Two of the fleeing orcs realize that the other remaining one hasn’t understood the call to retreat,and turn back to get him. Blapath the Slow was, it seemed, not named for his physical speed. Killing Land Shark to clear a path, they pull their fellow towards the other room.
It was a blow from Ulrik’s force hammer that finally felled the portcullis, and the group charged inside, fully intent on stopping the orcs from reaching their reinforcements. Brannoch manages to pounce one of the orcs and brutally devours its head. It was perhaps the crunching of the bones that led to the lack of understanding between him and his handler, for three times Corvar tried to tell him to go after the remaining orcs, and only on the last try did the command finally get through. Skulls, it seems, are loud when eaten.
Blapath may have been slow, but he was now fully intent on reaching the other room, and despite the valiant return of Land Shark directly in front of him doing major damage, and the devastating impact of Brannoch’s jaws ripping into his leg, he continued on, disappearing through double doors to relative freedom.
Titan takes the initiative towards entering the place where the orc had disappeared. This tactic did not turn out well however for as he tries to open the door, a trap triggers and the door slams him back into the wall with such force that he gets stuck there, quickly followed by Brannoch on the other side, who was still trying to get at Blapath the Slow.
The sight that the group met with was a room filled with burly Duregar brandishing weapons, the largest of which started bellowing at them “I will use your skulls as anvils!” only for Heskan to reply to the taunt with “We will use your faces as toilet paper!”. This seemed to enrage the Duregar more, until he caught sight of Ulrik and that rage turned into outright fury. Spittle and bilious verbal curses poured from his mouth. Urwol the blacksmith, it seemed, was no fan of surface dwarves.
Despite being outnumbered by about 2 to 1, our group charged into battle against this burly group of forge workers and guards. At first it seems to be going quite well despite the initial disastrous impact of those door traps, but the sheer number of enemies stood in their way of victory.
The group fought on amid the shouting and cursing of the blacksmith whose knowledge of the forge seemed to enhance his fighting style, using forge enhanced ranged attacks while the other forge workers and orcs attacked from up close.
Despite this, the group held their own, Heskan managing to do a move so vicious that it rent his opponent’s sword in half, passing through it before cleaving the orc’s head horrifically with both scimitars. The group were so impressed with his double-strike death blow and subsequent victory dance, that they failed to notice the Duregar that moved stealthily out of a side room. They did notice him however when Ulrik fell to the ground, with Land Shark disappearing from the fray.
Moving over, Titan managed to heal Ulrik enough that he regained consciousness and could get up, but soon therafter things for the group took an even greater turn for the worse. Urwol threw a vial at Ulrik, and an inky black cloud of vile fumes encased the area where most of the fighting took place. Titan seems to have become disorientated and became stuck once more behind a door while Corvar was unable to see any of the key targets he had been going after.
There was a great deal of shouting and confusion, and just as the fumes dissipated yet another vial flew through the air at Ulrik creating a storm of iron fragments that exploded on impact causing a whole section of the corridor to become much like a storm of iron pellets, damaging and dazing all within it.
Heskan, seeing poor Ulrik dazed and bleeding in numerous places, takes exception to the burly Duregar’s antics and circles around, laying his hunters cock trap down. It hit with critical precision on Urwol, whose howls of pain and fury gave hint to his future lack of offspring.
Insensed by the pain, Urwol focuses on Heskan and takes his revenge, and it was brutal and bloody. Heskan ended up struggling with consciousness on the ground, bleeding and on fire.
Meanwhile, given a brief reprieve from the relentless barrage of damage from Urwol, Ulrik manages to get himself out of the storm of iron shrapnel, taking out a nearby orc on his way to aid Heskan while Corvar and Ayanna helped deal with the Duregar who had sneaked into the room with them. Urwol, seeing Ulrik coming, once more curses at him, calling up a fireball, tossing it up in the air before slamming his hammer into it, sending it directly to Ulrik. Still recovering from his previous injuries, this proved too much for him, and he was floored.
The group’s luck was not holding, for in addition to both Heskan and Ulrik struggling on the ground to even stay conscious, Ayanna seemed to take a hit that made her go glassy-eyed, and it was clear that she was no longer in a state to fight. Luckily for her, the Duregar they had been fighting noted that as well, and ignored her and focused instead on the others that posed more of a threat.
Things were not looking good for the group, for although they had managed to kill or hurt many of their foes, only Corvar and his dire wolf were now on their feet. The vile-mouthed blacksmith gloated over the fallen Ulrik, but this seemed to be too much for Ulrik, who managed to find some inner reserve of determination, and hauled himself up to the astonished and impressed gaze of Urwol. Brandishing his warhammer, Ulrik tried to smack it into the smith, but his numerous touches with death seemed to have left their mark, for he missed, and the warhammer smacked down on the ground and broke. With a frustrated grunt, Ulrik tossed it aside and punched Urwol in the face, Urwol spitting out a broken tooth soon thereafter.
This distraction and show of determination from Ulrik seemed to rally Heskan, who also hauled himself up with a rather ostentatious display of a somersault and the battle-cry of “Dragon Balls!” while Brannoch kills one of the forge workers beside Urwol. Ulrik called Land Shark once more, and, now surrounded and likely shocked at this swift turn of fate, Urwol fell, his life cut short by the whack of Ulrik’s ghostly companion.
Meanwhile Corvar struggled with a Duregar scout, while Brannoch was following another one through to the small room beside the forge where the other was digging around in the pool there for something. Luck was not with Corvar, for during what should have been a simple attack, he dropped his weapon, then tripping and falling atop it. His foe took the opportunity to run.
Corvar’s momentary stumble seemed to have some impact on his ability to command Brannoch, for the wolf went temporarily out of control, misinterpreting his command and instead of continuing to try and take down the Duregar, he turned tail and went to attack Land Shark. Thankfully his heart didn’t seem to be in it, and after the initial attempt, it changed into playful nipping between the two. Land Shark seemed just as happy, heedless to the fact that the Duregar scout had managed to trigger the trap door in the pool and had disappeared down it, escaping.
The last scout was making his way to the room with the trap door as well, having decided, as the last one had, that only death awaited him in this watchtower, despite having started out with overwhelmingly good odds. Unfortunately for him, the previous scout seemed to have blocked the trap door from the other side, and he was caught there in Brannoch’s teeth and his flight was put to an abrupt end.
Leaning over the corpse of Urwol, Ulrik picked up the blacksmith’s magical hammer, before taking a small pocket knife and cutting off Urwol’s beard, in what might be a dwarven custom, or show of contempt. Heskan also made his way over to their dead foe and in a strange custom perhaps peculiar to the dragonborn, he did a squatting maneuver he referred to as ‘teabagging’, but stopped short on using the foes face as toilet paper as he had initially intimated.
All their foes dead, but for the one that had made his escape, the group regathered and tried to tend to their most immediate wounds before searching the place carefully for loot. Unlike other places, this place held not only the belongings of those they had killed, but also a good supply of stored food and weapons, more than they would usually be able to carry to be sure.
Thankfully along with other items however they found a strange magical bag of holding that seemed to have many different pouches attached. Corvar wasted no time in pouncing upon it and claiming it as his own, having found little in their recent hunts that would have upgraded his equipment. Ulrik on the other hand was gripping the handle of the Duregar blacksmith’s warhammer in a way that discouraged others from attempting to lay claim to it. The racial tention between the Duregar and surface dwarves seems to have lit some manner of fire in Ulrik’s eyes.
In addition to the goods they hoped would get them some monetary wealth, there was a skull scepter that looked much like the one that Gendar had asked them to find, as well as a note that had warned the Keep of their imminent arrival. It was signed only with an ‘R’, and who that could be was anyone’s guess. The only person they knew by that name was Rendil, who seemed an unlikely candidate for such an informant. And yet the person did seem to have eyes in the Seven-Pillared Hall to have known when they had left there.
With no answers about this person, they carefully packed the numerous pieces of basic weapons and armour, as well as food supplies into the bag for taking back to town, though I noticed Corvar eyeing the large barrels of cooking supplies that had been unable to fit into the bag.
Thus done, they decided that it would be best to try to get a proper rest before continuing on. Going back to town was decided to be inadvisable due to the fact that the keep would only be retaken as soon as they left, not to mention probably reinforced, and yet they were in enough trouble with their health that a good amount of time to heal would be necessary.
So after Corvar retrieved Hendrix, they took some time to reinforce the keep they had cleared out, hoping that the defences would be enough to buy them enough time to heal while Brannoch went about eating some of the corpses.