And so it was that on the 17th they set out once more for the Dymrak, in search of Stephan, the Drover’s brother, who, if he was still among the living, had now been a captive of the Goblins for over a month. As the weather turned fell and the green of the trees was changed to a tapestry of orange, brown and yellow our heroes went down once more from threshold, along the Duke’s Road, through the horrid Swamp, and forded the river at Misha’s Ferry.
Their company had changed. After long nights of drinking, Rallo declared that he had had enough of their faces, and took with him his share of coin and sorcerous items, and wandered off into the alleyways and alehouses of Threshold, there to perish or to spend his fortune. His loss was noted. Three more hirelings were found to accompany the Lame ones. There was the Dwarf Thorbin Stonefist, a logging overseer seeking to deal a blow to the goblins that had slain his crew. There was also the trapper Mardek, an uncouth but knowledgeable trapper, and last there was the formidable Lucius Sulla, a former strongman of the Crime Lords of far off Thyatis. These three, on the promise of half-shares, and armed and accoutred liberally from the Lame Ones’s near inexhaustible coffers, had joined on. Perhaps fortune would treat them better then those who had come before.
On the way, the henchmen proved their usefulness. Mardek spotted a group of wild boars that would have surely proven hazardous, and they were dispatched, with Hummingbird once again defying death and facing the creatures. In a night in the swamp, Sulla and Merkull discovered a band of Orcish thieves that had been tracking them for some time, and killed them before the alarm could even be raised. But encounters were few, for the creatures along their perilous path into the untamed East of Karameikos had learned to give these interlopers a wide birth. And from far off one could discern their camp from the gleaming stones enchanted with perpetual light, like tiny suns, spread out in a wide circle, making them appear like so many campfires.
Along the river to the South they walked, then travelled east into the perilous Dymrak. A thick, impregnable canopy of branches all but blots out the sun, and the moss and nigh impenetrable thicket muffles and drowns out the noise. A perilous place. On the 30th, following the old directions from the drover, they found and breached the lair of the Red Blades, finding it all but abandoned.
Empty tunnels, filled only with detritus and castoffs, greeted them as they advanced, cautiously, methodically, through the cramped maze. They were first greeted by Stirges, but these could not stand against their fury, and though they took some nasty injuries, the stirges were soon dead. They bound their wounds and pressed on.
Long they wandered in that cold, and empty place, finding only a single door marked with the sign of the Gnasshka, bound in thick iron and with signs of attempted forced entry. Sarah could not open its rusty lock, and thus they explored further, vainly searching for a key. 12 Giant rats came upon them, and though Lucius suffered a vicious bite, they too were dispatched cleanly.
Seeing no other recourse, the Lame Ones had Thorbin and Lucius hammer down the door. For a seeming eternity it dragged on, their tunics soaking with sweat, their breath ragged from the exertion in the hot, cramped darkness. When finally the door was battered down, they were barely prepared when the creatures came.
Six Great Voles, guardians of the chieftain’s hoard, rushed out with blinding speed, and leapt and bit faster than the eye could follow. Sulla took a vicious injury and it was only by fate that Thorbin was not slain outright. Driving the creatures back with disciplined blows, the Lame ones shifted ranks, and soon the beasts were met not by inexperienced loggers, but the brutal precision of a bandit captain and an elfish warrior. Sleep spells disposed of the threat, and the Lame Ones stalked in to claim their reward.
A great red stone, resting on a velvet cushion, a chest bound in iron, four amphorae of wine and a finely woven tapestry of a dragon rampant, Hummingbird was quick to place the gemstone in their bag of holding before Sarah fiddled with the chest. It was here that disaster struck. The bound magics of the gem were unleashed, and it exploded with a searing flash as they fiddled with the seemingly unbreakable lock. The blast was contained within the bag, but unfortunately for the Lame Ones, the Bag held many of the treasures they had found till thus far. Thousands of gold pieces in gemstones and art objects were seared and burnt to a crisp. The coin, a gold amulet of a mermaid, a potion of diminution and some precious stones they found in the chest, opened outside with a Knock Scroll still in Shing’s Possession, was small compensation for the tax that lady luck enacted from them.
Left with no sign of the lair of the Wolfskull, our heroes set out to the South East, aiming for Rugalov in the south, hoping to come across some tidings or further information on the whereabouts of that Dreaded Tribe.
The Tally 6 Stirges
12 Giant Rats
6 Giant Voles
The Book of the Living.
[B] Niffa (Elf 3, 19 hp)
[E] Shing the Golden (MU 4, 12 hp)
[F] Hummingbird Twiceborn (Mys 4, 11 hp)
[G] Edmin Os Traytor (Clr 3, 12 hp)
[NPC] Sarah (Thf 4, 16 hp).
[NPC] Merkull (Ftr 4, 25 hp)
[NPC] Lucius Sulla (Ftr 2, 13 hp)
[NPC] Mardek (Ftr 1, 5 hp)
[NPC] Thorbin Stonefist (Dwr 1, 5 hp)
The Book of the Dead:
[A] Ilyanka Pjottrsdöttr (Clr 1) – Beheaded by Giant Chameleon
[B] Liliath the Elf-maiden (Elf 1) – Skull-split by the horrid Bugbear
[C] Cold-Souled Fenrig (Thf 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[D] Balan the Lame (Dwr 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[D] Rallo the Bastard (Thf 4, 24 hp) – Throat ripped out by a Cave Bear
[B] Earendil (Elf 1) – Struck down by vile Orc Sorcery
[G] Azalesh Slyly (Clr 1) – Shanked by common robbers
[NPC] The Wardog Biter (Dog) – Cut down by the Orc Menace
[NPC] Aziz the Impetuous (Ftr 1) – Struck down by an impostor’s hand
[NPC] Hyacinth the Fair (Ftr 1) – Felled by an Arrow
[NPC] Kellhus (Mys 1) – Drained by Stirges
The Rolls of Honour:
[A] Egil Soft-pate (Ftr 1, 18 Str) – Long may he Reave!
[C] Sir Ioric (Ftr 3, 17 hp) – Retired in glory, long live the Duke!
[NPC] Erren (Thf 3, 10 hp) – She wanders the roads, looking for who knows what.
[D] Rallo the Bastard (Thf 5, 25 hp) – Refused to leave the tavern and preferred to keep drinking
2 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Swords Against Chaos 34 (Mystara B/X); Disaster at the Red Blade’s Lair”
So Rallo cleared off just before he would have been really useful. A fitting end. There are a few nasty traps in B10; it is a module that challenges just about all facets of play. I look forward to seeing how they deal with the stuffed lion (in the Gold Mine): what vital organ will be trapped in its jaws?
The group is now of a more traditional composition with lots of fighters (and a dwarf).
B10 does indeed have a few suprisingly vicious barbs concealed within its sprawling environs, the Lake of Lost Dreams is very rough, but the RedBlade vault also hits fairly hard.
I don’t think I will be using the Mine as the party has just cleared the Lair of the Vipers, and I have decided to give them the information of the Wolfskulls after they interrogated the Jaggadash Chieftain.