9. Assault on the Main Keep – 22nd May 2015
The night went without incident, and the next day the group headed out to take a look around the stores, to offload the various arms and armour they had collected on their adventures. Corvar, seeing the as-yet unvisited provisioners, headed that way, thinking to come to a deal about the various large barrels and goods in the keep.
Entering the shop, the place is packed with a great variety of foodstuffs and provisions of different types and from different races. There were also quite a few climbing kits, some in better condition than others, and a torch the group identified as being one of the rare ever-burning torches.
However it was a dusty bow of a rather vibrant pink that caught Heskan’s eye, having been looking for a new bow. The shopkeeper, Dreskin, a rotund man of annoying vocals, seemed only too happy to show the bow to the dragonborn, his eyes gleaming with delight in his chubby face. It was with some surprise then that the shopkeeper, after ascertaining that Heskan liked the bow, that he gave it to him, without cost.
But of course there was a cost, just not one we might expect from a store. The giving having been done, Heskan would become aware that there was more to this bow than merely its rather odd colouring. The bow was, of course, cursed. “Ah, I have been trying to get rid of that bow for years! Wreaks hell on my love-life it does.” The bow was called the Greatbow of Seduction, and while powerful, could also turn enemies that it was fired at, in love with the holder. This could work in their favour, but, Drekin warned him, that if their will was too weak, that love would turn into something more all-consuming and fanatical.
Despite what he now knew about the bow, Heskan did not attempt to gift it back to the shopkeeper, perhaps showing just how powerful the magics that bound it were, for he seemed unwilling to even take his hand from it. However he did show his displeasure at being so tricked by attempting to lick the shopkeeper in what must have been some cultural gesture, “Feel my love tongue of joy!” was the cry, even as the shopkeeper tried to get away. Such a strange scene that I would initially have put down to the curse of the bow overwhelming the male’s senses, however I have now seen him do other odd things in the past.
Once Heskan had calmed down enough, Corvar tried to talk to the shopkeeper about the goods, however after considering it, the man shook his head, stating he didn’t have the resources to set up such a thing, but did try to get them to sell their armour and weapons to him, however, especially after the situation with Heskan, Corvar, who held the loot, seemed unwilling to part with it to him, deciding he would try with Gendar, for he seemed to prefer the drow in his business dealings, despite the male’s obvious mercenary tactics.
Ulrik also attempted to do some business with Dreskin, asking about the warhammer he had, hoping to get more information on the weapon, but the shopkeeper’s price for such a thing was far too steep. While Ulrik, for a while, seemed to enjoy haggling, ultimately he thought he or Corvar might be just as successful at identifying it, and so they left.
Spurred on by this hope, Ulrik peers at his hammer, turning it over in his hands for a few minutes when they come out of the store before a glint of knowledge comes into his eyes. It seems that he has indeed figured out the magic of his hammer, and tells the others of it as they head to Gendar’s store. That it seemed to catch fire while wielded had been noted before, but he now knew how to avoid getting burned himself.
As the adventurers entered Gendar’s store, the proprietor had that same mercantile gleam to his eyes as always. This was the first time that Heskan had entered the establishment, having been carrying around the box of goods from the merchant in Winterhaven for some time now, he was able finally to pass them over to Gendar, who was only too glad to have them. He gave Heskan some jewels to return to the merchant there when they were next passing through.
Corvar also had some business with the seedy looking Drow, able to hand over the skull scepter that they had picked up in the Keep’s watchtower, assuming that this was indeed the one that Gendar was looking for. After checking it over, possibly for flaws he could exploit out of the reward price, he did indeed deem the item to be sufficient, allowing Corvar to purchase the hat he had been wishing for a vastly cut-down rate. To a casual observer, the hat looked like nothing one would give a second glance to, being both old and dusty looking, but clearly the Kenku saw more, for he was very well pleased with his newest acquisition.
It was with good cheer then from both of them, that Corvar negotiated a price for the many and varied weapons and armour they had salvaged from the keep earlier, before he broached the subject of the many barrels of foodstuffs they had encountered. After some thought, Gendar agreed that he would be interested in a deal, but they would have to get a certificate of import and export goods from the Mages of Saruun at the Customhouse, as all large trades had to have those.
Equipped with both hat and possible extra trading agreements, the group headed for the Customhouse.
Entering the customhouse, a place that looked far more like a mercenary barracks inside than it did any place of upstanding commerce, Corvar looked around for anyone that might be able to aid him in his task. Sadly, all seemed either asleep or busy drinking or gambling, and none but the ogre appeared to be anything even nearing in-charge. It was a long moment of indecision before Corvar finally moved towards the ogre, who despite appearances of slumber, seemed to become instantly intent upon him, proving that there was more to this mass of muscle than one might believe.
Seeing no other option than to attempt to converse with the ogre, Corvar asked about gaining one of the trading certificates. Amazingly, the ogre actually seemed to not only be coherent, but also communicative, though his breath smelled fairly horrendous. It seemed like this trading agreement, was less of an agreement and more of an extortion contract, demanding 30% of profit from any trading made. Corvar seemed reluctant, however it was either signing this or not getting any trade income from the vast quantity of barrels at the keep.
So the ogre called for one of the men in the room to go and get a contract, which Corvar, despite his reservations, agreed to sign, if there was ink, for no quill had been given. With a grunt of annoyance, he slammed his fist into the face of the mercenary for being incompetent as to not bring one, picked up a bit of straw from the floor and dipped it in the blood. Corvar, it seemed, now had some ink. Not really able to find any other way around it, Corvar signed.
He seemed about to leave, when it occurred to him to ask about the zombie wings he had gathered, for none of the other traders wanted them, however he had had heard that the Mages of Saruun might have use. One of them did indeed appear, and looked over the wings, buying them, then left Corvar with a rough warning not to continue to overbalance how things ran in the Labyrinth, likely meaning the Duregar they had been systematically wiping out. To this Corvar made no reply other than a grunt, which could have been taken to mean an agreement, or merely that he had heard.
With no other business, Corvar exited the customhouse, only too pleased perhaps to be gone from it, and it was about then that he seemed to remember about the slaves that had been following them around since they had returned. It was clear that they certainly couldn’t keep them, and really, considering the people dwelling in the Seven-Pillared Hall, and indeed the business types that took place here; leaving the slaves would only likely return them into slavery or to a rather shortened life.
After some discussion with the others, it was decided to arm the slaves and send them on their way back to their home town of Fallcrest. They made a copy of their own map, roughly, on a parchment, which showed the main roads at least, and then cast the camouflage upon them and the donkey Hendrix, before sending the extremely grateful slaves on their way with the donkey and some food provisions, enough, it was hoped, to get them to their destination unharmed. There were some sad looks from the group at the donkey leaving, but it was agreed that the Labyrinth really wasn’t the best place for such a helpless creature. Much like the slaves in fact.
Now, with their bags cleared out, themselves rested, and the slaves taken care of, the group were once more free to return to the Keep (despite the Mage of Saruun’s warning) to continue to clear it out in search of the rest of the missing slaves, and indeed the missing boar. So it was that the group headed forth back along the now more familiar roadways towards the Duregar Keep.
The group headed back to the keep along the back route they had travelled before. Upon getting there, they found both watchtowers were still empty of enemies, though the corpses of the fallen were gone, and there was evidence of a fire in the kitchen that had been put out. They cautiously moved through both watchtowers, before heading across the bridge to the main keep.
Ayanna cautiously tries the lock on the door, unlocking it, before stealthily opening it so they could get a better idea of what might await them. On the surface, it seemed like there were few foes here, and certainly nothing too taxing for them considering their previous experiences. The only change was the addition of some mechanical looking crossbows or arbalesters.
Hoping to compound on their stealthy entrance, they moved in, however Ulrik was noticed immediately, calling attention to the group and the fight began.
There were three Duregar guards, along with the two arbalesters and a Duregar theurge or mage, the latter two being something that the group had never faced before.
Already on the front line, Ayanna capitalized on her earlier skill with the doors by hitting a Duregar, but then both she and Ulrik fell victim to the arbalesters bolts, taking heavy damage. The theurge followed this up by sending a wave of magic over the group, but while many managed to escape its effect, all the group seemed to be a little less sprightly in their confidence from then on.
Heskan, eager to use his new bow, shoots at one of the Duregar guards. The Duregar, stares at him, the arrow sticking out from his torso with a look of such shocked confusion at these sudden and powerful feelings of love. Unfortunately for the Duregar, who it seems had never experienced such intensity of love before, found it too much, for they had a heart attack, before keeling over, dead. Love can, it seems, be a cruel mistress.
Meanwhile Ulrik was trying to figure out more about the arbalesters, seeing as how they had never come across these before. Unfortunately he failed in this, and in his frustration tried to hit it with his new hammer. He missed, with a grunt of annoyance. Sadly, things were not deemed to go well for Ulrik, for he had already taken heavy damage from the metal monstrosities, and when the Duregar got a lucky shot on Landshark, sending him back to the spirit world, the throwback damage rendered Ulrik to the ground, struggling to stay conscious and alive, and no one close by to help him.
Ayanna had moved through the rooms, sneaking up behind one of the Duregar and an arbalester, and despite her small stature was able to topple the great machine over. The Duregar theurge attempted to right the machine, but his strength was not sufficient, and in a stroke of poor luck, the machine fell back down atop him, hurting him and pinning him to the ground under it’s weight. Heskan, seeing the foe partially disabled, ran over and lept atop the machine, further squashing the theurge underneath it. This also seemed to damage the mechanisms of the arbalester, jamming it. Ayanna, still in the vicinity, pulls the arbalester with a tossed noose, hauling it up a bit before dropping it back upon the heavily damaged theurge.
One of the guards, seeing this called them all crazy and went running off for help. Unfortunately there was no one nearby to stop him.
Corvar had, in the mean time, made his way out of the main guarded areas, having divined that the arbalesters only functioned for those in the rooms they were guarding. He had Brannoch drag Ulrik, who was still struggling with consciousness, into the room with them while he was facing off with the Duregar guard leader. Corvar, his health already low, seemed to make the decision that a speedy resolution of this situation was needed, considering the imminent approach of more troops when it was clear from the bloody mess of most of them that another wave of foes would be more than they could handle. So he tried to seduce the guard leader.
I was as astonished as you at this tactic, however for long moments it seemed like it might actually work. The Duregar was verbally considering it, before the thought of the ogre reinforcing them reminded him of his job and he steeled himself against such distracting thoughts.
Corvar tries to stabilize Ulrik, but the bandages slip through his fingers, likely from the amount of blood he himself was losing. Knowing his position is poor, he makes one last attempt to seduce the guard, but unlike the last time, the guard looks disgusted by the thought and starts verbally cursing and insulting the Kenku. Oh, dear readers, the look of venom in Corvar’s eyes then as he looks upon the Duregar he would have bedded. He straightens up and fires his bow using all his reserves while commanding Brannoch to once more fully attack. There was no chance for reconciliation now, not between these two, not by the look in Corvar’s beady black eyes.
The battle between Corvar and the guard leader continued, but the short time seemed all too much, for no matter his skills in healing, it was not enough when his own health was in such a state. His last breath expired while the battle went on above him.
Corvar and Brannoch continued to take on the last guard. Brannoch, now fully engaged in the battle does significant damage to him while Corvar attacks from the front. Using all the tricks that he can to survive, he tries to intimidate the guard, and perhaps it was his severely bloodied form that added to the determined malicious glint in his eyes that gave him the edge over the other. The guard fell, his cooling corpse ripped into by Brannoch while Corvar tried to see to Ulrik, but finding him dead.
While Corvar quickly searches the room, knowing they have little time before reinforcements arrive, Heskan manages to kill the mage, giving the corpse a ‘lick of victory’. There seems to me to be a great deal of licking in dragonborn customs.
With little time to get Ulrik back to a temple to get resurrected before his body becomes too far gone to attempt such a feat, and with so many of them in dire need of healing themselves, they agree to make a sharp exit out of the keep and return to town.
Corvar pushes the corpse of Ulrik into his magical carrying bag and he and Brannoch head to the now quiet room towards the door where they had entered. He was staggering and not at all sure on his feet, clearly only a small wound away from being as dead as Ulrik now was. It could only be such a state that left him in confusion, for as soon as he entered the other room, both arbalesters became active and fired upon them as they stepped into the room.
I cannot say for sure what manner of luck it was that helped Corvar in those moments, for both arbalesters, which had not so far missed a single target, both missed Corvar, and gave him time to retreat back into the other room. He seemed rightfully shaken by the experience, and the group headed through the room towards the other bridge instead, out of sight of the mechanical pests.
Ayanna took the lead, but the bridge was not in a great state of repair, with the winds from the void below only hindering their stability. In a terrifying moment, Ayanna stumbles, but recovers, however her favoured dagger got caught on one of the railings and came loose, falling over the side as she herself might have done if not for her reflexes.
Bloody, their confidence shaken, and without their usual guide of Ulrik at the front, the party got lost, wandering for hours through the many tunnels of the Labyrinth. Eventually though they found themselves at the Chamber of Eyes, and were able to make their way back into the Seven-Pillared Hall without incident.
The Temple of Hidden Light
Moving through the Hall, they went straight to the Temple of Hidden Light, the best place they could think of to find resurrection for Ulrik. The group was bloodied, and garnered many stares from those that were around.
However, when they asked about resurrection for their dwarven companion, they found, much to Corvar’s particular annoyance, that they were on the receiving end of some rather probing questions about how they had come to be in this situation. Guarded as ever, Corvar answered vaguely but truthfully about how they had been sent to try and locate the slaves that had been taken against their will. This answer seemed to suffice for the priestess, however the charge for resurrection was not merely in gold.
In order to allow Ulrik to regain his life, there was of course a gold charge of 250 gold pieces, but also the temple said that they would only do it if the group agreed to do a task for them at some later stage. Not at all happy with this unknown boon or task, Corvar was adamant that he could not agree to something without knowing what it was beforehand. The priestess seemed unwilling to divulge the task and the negotiations came to a standstill until one of the priests recognized the bloodied and brutalized body of Ulrik as one who had come seeking aid earlier in the week.
For some reason this appeared to tip the balance, and they were told of how the temple was looking to get some proof of the location of somewhere called the Well of Demons. To do this, they would need to gather a bodypart from a type of demon named only ‘spined demons’ likely due to their appearance. With this, they said, they could divine the location.
Grudgingly, Corvar signed yet another agreement, and the body of Ulrik was taken to be resurrected while the Kenku verbally prodded the priests for more information on this quest, not only about the quest itself, but of how to defeat such demons. After all, it was in their best interests to now give the group as much information as possible to aid them in this quest. It seemed that the temple was particularly interested in getting rid of this ‘Well of Demons’ because demons personified chaos, and as a temple that promoted justice and order, this was not something they could stand. They also mentioned that the spined demons they sought were likely to be proficient in both unholy fire and the use of poisons, and the group should prepare for this.
While Ulrik was being seen to by the priests, the rest of the group returned to their rooms at the Halfmoon Inn to recover from their own injuries, and would be reunited with their dwarven companion the next day.