[Actual Play] Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XVII; Dragon Cult

Onward our heroes moved, leaving behind them the diseased kobolds, and venturing further into the Flooded Temple, exploring further chambers to the north. Inside an abandoned chamber, they found the rotten and diseased corpse of an earlier explorer, clutching a wooded chest. Using a pole-arm, Isidoro gently pried the chest from the corpse’s hands, and opened the container, finding within some old coins, a potion of clear fluid that resembled a potion of invisibility, and a great gold necklace with a pendant shaped like some noble breed of dog. They pocketed it and moved south-east, and there found a great tower with a vast nest of twigs and branches, filled with eggs and twinkling with coins. Eyeing the nest warily, they moved down the spiral staircase to the middle floor of the ancient temple.

On the middle floor they ventured forward and wasted some time arguing over the next course of action. Their indecision would prove costly later. They moved north, warily eyeing the crude graffiti of skulls and death daubed on the walls, and met with a band of Bugbear youths, who had came to the Temple as a rite of passage. For generations on end, the Kalushkari had sent their young braves into the temple, thinking it a place close to death, and for generations they had come back full members of the tribe, leaving some behind. They sat down with the champions of the Keep, exchanging rations of fish and wine, and swapping tales of heroism and horror. In the end they parted friends, and the Kalushkari swore a hopeful oath, that if they survived their stay in these halls, they would meet them as honorable foes, and wreak great murder onto them. Isidoro swapped one of his rations for what appeared to be pickled goblin meat, and the group ventured on, before arguing briefly, then doubled back down the stairway.

The bottom floor was flooded. Warily eyeing the spiral staircase curving deeper into some subterranean level, where Isidoro spread some crumbs of bread, to see if perhaps some creatures were lurking in the lower subterranean halls. They ventured north, wading through waist high water and a gentle current. Eyeing a rotting backpack in a chamber, the party poked it, disturbing 4 moray eels that were lairing there. It was with some trouble that Grog, Minimus dispatched them, Paisisco cast one of his rations in the water, distracting one of the eels and Isidoro dug out a net to keep between the eels and himself. 2 of the Eels were killed, and two of them fled, but not before they bit Grog and Isidoro. The wounds quickly swelled, and both heroes were overcome with nausea. The healing staff of father Paisisco cured Grog’s wounds, but the sickness remained. The backpack held a set of water-soaked torches and an iron flask shaped like a lion. Isidoro took two of the slain eels with him.

They waded west, nervously eyeing a room wherein all the detrius had collected, and passing on to the west, where they encountered a group of aggressive plague-ridden kobolds aggressively defending their fishing grounds. Ididoro offered them an eel, and the Kobolds cursed them, but allowed them passage. It was then they spotted it.

Into the bay, enveloped by the afternoon sun, came a river barge crewed by 20 men. The two fighting men left behind to guard Pete’s body canooed for the pier. Chinning the wizard whistled the song of the Lark to let them know where they were. Leaving behind their equipment and supplies, they carried Pete into the temple. The barge moored, and from them stepped 20 hard men in boiled leather, with crudely forged swords and wooden shields, led by cold-eyed warriors branded with marks like dragons scales, and priests in red with masks shaped like wyrms. The Obsidean Heart had arrived to claim its due.

With the cries and curses of the cultists at their backs they rushed to the western tower, and there climbed up, the haughty voices of the dragon worshippers calling them to surrender. They paused at the nest, and Isidoro the cunning told them to fetch oil and smash one of the eggs. It was Chinnig who grabbed the egg, but there was a misunderstanding, for he cried first that he would smash the egg, alerting the cultists and drawing them all to the western tower, and after smashing it, vowed he would remain behind to cast his sleeping spell. The rest of the heroes fled, after smashing oil near the entrance. It was when the voices were getting louder that Chinning heard the scraping of claws on stone, and some fell shrieking from outside.

Through the window in the southern tower came a Great Beast, shaped like a lion, only with the head, talons and wings of a mighty Eagle, the Mythical Griffon. With imperial fury it descended upon Chinning, and as he reached for his scroll of invisibility, carved into him, and with its great beak rent him asunder. The rest moved west, to the room that held the plague-struck Kobolds, but behind them they soon heard the fearful and agonized cries of the cultists, and the shrieking of the enraged griffon as it tore into them also, venting its wrath. How many perished against its claws is not known, but they soon abandoned any attempts to gain the western stairwell.

By the kobolds they halted, and there concocted a plan. Isidoro and Minimus both quaffed potions of invisibility, and moved down the stairs, the rest was to follow. Unfortunately, Grog had other designs, eyeing the barge of the cultists, now defended by but 6 men. He began preparing lamp oil as the two invisible adventurers snuck below, past the kobolds, and down the Eastern stairwell. There they ventured west, and came upon an area held by 6 Dying Kobolds, chanting their death hymns, feebly clutching weapons. Behind a barricaded door, they heard the enraged and fantatical exhortations of the priests, and the curses of the Ordu-Jagha, and the sound of claw-shaped axes tearing into hardwood. Isidoro placed a grappling hook and lowered himself down. Minimus retreated.

On the top floor, Father Paisisco and Minimus starting stripping off their armor, eyeing the window as possible escape. Grog had a similar notion, but first cast two flasks of oil from the top window onto the barge, both of which hit, and soon the barge was catching fire. Down the stairway, the sound of splintering wood, and iron biting iron and sinking into flesh, was overpowering. Just as Grog started stripping off his armor too, the survivors came up the stairs, covered in cuts. “Surrender infidels!,” screamed the Dragon priest. Paisisco and Grog leapt from the window, leaving their fighting men behind with the dying kobolds to absorb the wrath of the cultists. With the death cry of one of his fighting men in his ears, and the sounds of a furious and bitter melee behind him, Minimus, still invisible, crept down the stairwell in the south, moving gradually down.

The fire was biting into the barge. Screaming that if they could not save the barge they would burn forever in dragon’s fire, the priest and his elite guard made for the shore while 4 desperate men stayed behind, vainly trying to douse the conflagration that now devoured cloth and rope and laquer, crying in pain as the fire burned them also.

Onboard this barge snuck Isidoro, still invisible, and made for the quarters, found therein a strongbox, tied to it a rope of lightweight silk, and cast it from the hatch in the port. He followed afterward, palming some scattered coins. Using the rope to keep an eye on his treasure, he took one of the canoos and rowed it behind the burning barge, then retrieved his treasure out of sight.

Paisisco and Grog hit the water, Paisisco stayed afloat, but Grog drowned, pulled down by the weight of mail and sword. Paisisco tried vainly to drag him back up, and even applied on him the healing staff, but it would not avail them. The bottom of the lake was to be Grog’s final resting place. On the shore, while the priest was occupied with his burning barge, his guard espied the swimming priest, and began taking off his armor. It was at this time that Minimus came upon the pier, and with a great heave shoved the heavily armored priest into the water also. Suddenly visible, and now without armor, he eyed the Ordu-Jagha warily. A moment passed, then the warrior leapt into the water to save his oathsworn master. Relieved, Minimus leapt into the water, and made it into the canoo.

Leaving two dead retainers, the treasure-laden corpse of their most powerful spellcaster and the injured body of Pete to an uncertain fate, our heroes beat a hasty retreat, with the fires of the barge behind them. On the way back Isidoro was struck with awful boils and became quite sickly, and were it not that the route was downriver, and the disease progressed but slowly, he might have perished. Instead they made it to shore, and with a generous donation to the Lords of Law, managed to procure the aid of the local priest, and soon the disease was cured.

Inside the strongbox was a great wealth of silver and electrum, so that their mood was mixed, for they had lost many friends, but obtained such a great quantity of treasure that their success was beyond question. They drank a toast to fallen comrades, and would perhaps return to the Flooded Temple later on to avenge them. Paisisco comissioned a great suit of mail, and they identified what remaining magic they had gained.

The Tally
1 Giant Crab Spider

The Price
[A] Otso (MU 1, 3 hp) – Slain by Treachery
[B] Hardroc Sansaxe (Dwr 1, 4 hp) – Died on his feet against the Goblin Foe
[C] Buddy (Ftr 1, 6 hp) – Died in the rearguard against Kobold treachery
[D] Valen (Thf 1, 2 hp) – Felled by Kobold arrow in the Battle of the Warrens
[C] Brother Buddy (Clr 1, 3 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s spearthrust
[E] Quinton RumbleBreeches (Hal 1, 6 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s arrow
[B] Sazar Thistleborne (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Ripped apart by a Mountain Lion in the Perilous forest
[C] Brother Buddy Jr. (Clr 1, 4 hp) – Drained of life by monstrous Stirges
[F] Hardy the Dwarf (Dwr 1, 6 hp) – Clubbed to death by Ogre
[B] Zed Fauxgivvin (Hal 1, 4 hp) – Fell to a hobgoblin sword, but he did not go alone
[G] Colemeier Stonesaw (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Fell to hobgoblin sowrds
[E] Father Kane (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Fell to Hobgoblin swords
[H] Ludwig Andros (MU 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[I] Derek de Chitsville (Ftr 1, 8 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[J] Vinnie Jones (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[K] Johhny Longfingers (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[L] Vitus the Southron (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Eaten by Harpies
[I] Father Theodore (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Struck down by skeletons
[J] Box the Fighter (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Struck down by Valgard, breaker-of-horses-and-men
[A] Diggory Class (MU 1, 4 hp) – Slain by Poisoned treasure
[M] Pajeje (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Slain by poisoned treasure
[B] Chinning Poofter (Mu 2, hp 6) – Rent asunder by furious Griffon
[N] Grog (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Drowned in armor in the bay of the Flooded Temple

2 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XVII; Dragon Cult

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s