Stonehell and its surrounds

Session 12 - Stonehell

"I've got the witch... and lycanthropy." - Wilhelm

Escape from the ghouls

Wilhelm waited for the paralysis to wear off. This took some time during which the noble became intimately familiar with the nooks and cobwebs of the vaulted ceiling. As he felt movement returning to his limbs he also heard echoing screams as one of his erstwhile companions suffered horrible torments at the hands of the vengeful gentlemen. Thankful that it was they and not he, Wilhelm began the slow and careful process of levitating his way out the ghoul’s hall and away from this predicament. To escape he had to pass the shattered double doors. As he approached them Wilhelm noted an unusual shadow. It seemed to Wilhelm that one of the ghouls stood watch outside though he was invisible only given away by his shadow. Steeling himself Wilhelm leapt at the shadow and slashed about himself with his axe. Alas Wilhelm’s initial assault failed and he took several hits in return. The torturous screaming of his companions drowned out the sound of their desperate combat. Finally Wilhelm landed a fortunate blow on his invisible foe. The ghoul he battled fled back into the halls calling for help. Wilhelm seized his chance and fled as swiftly as he was able only pausing for breath once he was safely back in the elevator which had led him down to these miserable depths.

Well met ogre

Returning to his closest sanctuary, the Kobold Market, Wilhelm took his usual room at the Rat on a Stick. A number of lizard folk and a mighty ogre mingled here with the regular clientele of kobolds. The ogre was attempting to intimidate the lizard folk into joining his ‘tribe’ though the lizardfolk were having none of it. Liking the ogre’s brutal style Wilhelm inquired into his availability for adventuring.
‘I say my fine ogre what say you to a spot of adventuring. I have been quiet successful in the past and will be again.’
‘Sounds good.’ Replied Vargthick, the portly ogre. The two rapidly became friends.
At this point a kobold cleared his throat. ‘Excuse me Wilhelm. Trustee Sniv wants you to know that slaves will be here shortly. Probably tomorrow.’
‘Good. He still owes me two slaves as payment.’ Wilhelm responded. ‘Make sure you tell me as soon as the slaves arrive.’
Wilhelm rested in order to recover from his injuries sustained from his encounter with the ghouls. As the hours ticked by a forlorn Ogre arrived in the wretched excuse for a tavern. Urgack had been a member of the Marrowsuckers, the tribe recently obliterated by the hero’s. With his tribe gone he had lost his purpose, it took little convincing on Vargthick’s part to convince Urgack to sign-up.

Trustee Sniv’s Betrayal

‘Slaves are here. Follow me to Trustee Sniv.’ The kobold messenger led Wilhelm and his towering ogre bodyguards through the markets to the bosses chamber. The monocle and fez wearing Trustee Sniv greeted them in his chambers flanked by bodyguards.
‘Where is Frank?’ Trustee Sniv inquired.
‘Gone.’ Replied Wilhelm. ‘We parted ways.’
‘That is most unfortunate.’ responded Sniv as he approached the curtain. Sniv liked to make a show of the unveiling of new slaves. He kept them behind a curtain making it into a theatrical production. ’And now I present to you your latest slaves.’ Sniv parted the curtain and ducked behind it desperately squeaking ‘It’s not my fault, she made me do it!’

Death by a thousand teeth

With the curtains parted the band could see a score of furred giant rat people with malevolent red eyes. Sniv’s guards stood by in shock as the rat folk leapt at the group. Initially unperturbed by their relatively ineffective attacks the hero’s soon had cause for concern. The ratman assault was relentless and their sharp teeth took their toll over time, eventually tearing down Urgack through sheer weight of numbers. Vargthick wailed about him with his mighty maul but found the beasts resistant to its blows. With things looking grim Wilhelm took to the ceiling thanks to his levitating boots, and began to bombard the clustered creatures with burning oil. With two of their number slain to hammer and axe the ratmen beat a hasty retreat.
Wererat

A serpents revenge

Trustee Sniv’s throne room was silent for a moment before the hero’s heard an ominous hissing. Vargthick, having heard of Wilhelm’s brush with the medusa, closed his eyes. Wilhelm took a gamble. He pulled himself along the ceiling till he saw the snake haired medusa, he readied his axe ready to drop upon her. Drop he did, like a stone as the medusa’s gaze took effect and Wilhelm became a statue.
“Ogre, I have no quarrel with you.” The medusa began bargaining with Vargthick. “Step aside and allow me to pass. My revenge is complete and you need not die from some misplaced sense of loyalty.” Larchess the medusa moved towards the exit while Vargthick stepped aside keeping his eyes shut tight. At the last moment however the ogre hefted his maul and swung mightily. The blow connected with Larchesses midriff with a satisfying crunch. Howling in pain the medusa fled. As she navigated the corridors of the kobold markets all those who saw her became statues, their stoned forms slowing the lumbering ogres pursuit to the point where a disappointed Vargthick gave up.

Bargaining with the Deep Elves

The encounter with Larchess had left the kobold community devastated. Trustee Sniv had been turned to stone as had half the market as the medusa fled into it’s panicked confines. Despairing that his new companion was doomed to a life of stone Vargthick sought consolation in looting Trustee Sniv’s longboxes full of coin. That is till a kobold approached mid coin count. ‘1001, 1002, umm…’
‘Boss.’ The kobold interrupted. ‘You should not give up on things so easily. There is a way to turn your human friend back from stone.’
‘Vargthick is listening.’ The ogre rumbled in response.
‘There be elves deep underground. Sometimes we trade with them. They are cruel but command powerful magics. They must be able to turn your friend back, and Trustee Sniv too. We can take you to the meeting place.’
Vargthick agreed and joined a small kobold beetle caravan as it made it’s way to the fourth level of Stonehell. There in a mighty domed cavern the kobolds set out the statues of Sniv and Wilhelm and awaited the arrival of the Deep Elves. It was some time before a band of archaically armoured Deep Elves levitated up from a pit in the centre of the cavern. A kobold bargained with them in their cruel tongue relaying their requests to Vargthick. It would cost the ogre all of his new companions wealth to turn him from stone to flesh. The ogre agreed and Wilhelm was restored. The stone form of Trustee Sniv was taken by the Deep Elves which was odd as the kobolds had originally hoped he would be restored to them. Despondent the kobold caravan returned to their devastated community while Vargthick and Wilhelm contemplated their next move.

Firetraps, scorpions and a Cave bear

The band decided to press their luck. Two warriors against the unknown deep within Stonehell. They headed south navigating some crystal and mist filled caverns before hearing an ursine growl. Swiftly levitating Wilhelm explored ahead discovering a portcullis and an immense cave bear. The cave bear proved to not be immediately hostile and decided to investigate and follow the floating Wilhelm. The warrior led the bear away from its lair so that he and his companion could explore beyond a portcullis. In so doing they had blocked off their retreat as the portcullis slammed down behind them and was now guarded by a weary bear. Beyond the portcullis was a two faced demon statue scorched by flames. Fearing a trap Wilhelm began using stalactites to seal the demons mouths while Vargthick began smashing the floor with his maul hoping to set of flame traps. In the end the band determined that the traps seemed to go off randomly. They were fortunate to navigate the chamber without burning themselves. In the room beyond there was a mighty clattering of chitinous forms. Three giant scorpions scuttled towards them. The hero’s retreated to the demon flame room and were pleasantly rewarded as the scorpions set off a number of the traps and all bar one were roasted alive. The final scorpion retreated back to its chamber attempting to bury itself in the sand. Wilhelm chose this moment to get in some target practise with his heavy crossbow. It seemed he needed more practise as none of the five bolts he loosed found the mark. As the scorpion clearly had no further interest in fighting the duo left it and continued exploring.

Interrupting the berserkers meal

Turning west the party found a cavern containing a human skull on a stake which served as a warning. Carved into the skull were the words – NO GO. BAD JUJU. Beyond the warning lay a line of round one foot diameter stones acting as a low barrier to a corridor beyond. Heeding the advice and recalling words had with some odd dwarves much earlier concerning temples of pain the group left well enough alone and returned to the twisting tunnels. Soon they smelt roasting flesh. Prepared for a fight they advanced and surprised five beserkers sitting by a fire cooking a goblin. Being outnumbered and knowing that the beserkers were tough the group retreated. Wilhelm levitated along the ceiling and was the target of a number of hurled spears. Vargthick raced to the apparent sanctuary of the bad juju area. The beserkers hacked at his fleeing form but their blows could not stop his flight. Soon the ogre was beyond the line of stones and the beserkers gave up chance refusing to enter the cursed area. Levitating Wilhelm was all but forgotten and the warrior was able to observe the beserkers setting up an ambush for the ogre should Vargthick seek to leave the cursed area. After some time spent fruitlessly waiting the beserkers gave up and returned to their meal. Wilhelm took some satisfaction in their howls of frustration as the encounter had lasted long enough for their goblin steaks to burn. Vargthick and Wilhelm did a preliminary scout of the area beyond the stones. There was a bridge over a deep cavern, an out of the way abandoned cave to which Wilhelm levitated and a pair of mighty double doors. Fresco’s about the double doors showed various races being tortured. This killed the enthusiasm of the band to explore the temple any further. Wary, scared and feeling outgunned the two heroes decided to beat a hasty retreat from Stonehell for the time being. Returning to the scorpion chamber the group headed up the stairs.

A reckoning with the medusa

The stairs led to familiar territory for Wilhelm. He was near the medusa’s lair. Hearing this Vargthick’s face lit up with delight. The group headed off for some payback, hoping that Larchess had returned to her looted home. They were in luck for soon they could hear the medusa bemoaning the despoiling of her lair ‘Look at this mess. It will take ages to set right. Look at my bed. What a mess. And no those dresses you brought for me wont do. They will never replace the ones these thieves stole. Return to town and bring me others.’
The group set an ambush and waited till a human carrying a short blade and a sack (presumably full of dresses) emerged from a nearby corridor. The group set on him, he gave a cry of alarm, turned to flee and was cut down. Wilhelm took some grim satisfaction in seeing that the dead man was the town’s tailor a figure he had a personal grudge against, though how the wretch became entangled in the medusas schemes he would never know. Larchess came to see what all the fuss was about and was promptly downed by a maul to the face. With their foe slain the group hacked off her head, put it in the sack with the dresses and headed for town. Upon Larchesses corpse Wilhelm found an interesting ring – a ring of human control. A world of possibilities opened up.

Burn the witch

Ogres and indeed humanoids in general were not welcome in Drellin’s Ferry and so Vargthick set up the grand pavilion on the outskirts and waited for Wilhelm to complete a brief expedition in town. Wilhelm ignored the town guards sullen greeting and made a mental note to himself to ignore their warning to keep out of trouble. Wilhelm was not one to do as he was bid especially not by yokels with spears. In the centre of town was a commotion. Sarcha the witch was tied to a stake and about to be burnt for consorting with demons. A flaming brand wielding Inquisitor harangued the crowd inciting them with tales of the witches diablerie. Beside the witch were staked the two heads of her ogre ‘sons’. ‘Witches spawn’ the Inquisitor insisted. Behind the inquisitor stood a stoic Knight of Science, his armour emblazoned with ritualistic formulae. Wilhelm worked his way to the front of the crowd. ‘Inquisitor, a word with you for a moment.’ Wilhelm made sure his new ring was visible; its magics seized the inquisitors mind. ‘I too have been hunting this witch. She is a wily one and has a coven in the forests. We should delay her burning till we have time to properly question her.’
‘Very well friend. Meet us tomorrow at the Burgemeister’s where we shall put her to the question.’ The Inquisitor seemed satisfied and addressed the crowd ‘No burning today.’
Wilhelm then went about charming the chief recruiter and tavern owner as well as the blacksmith in his quest to kit himself out. He arranged for a suit of ogre sized armour to be made as well as the permanent loan of the tavern owners horse. The chief recruiter wouldn’t venture into Stonehell despite being a great ‘friend’ of Wilhelm. He did manage to introduce the warrior to a number of new recruits.

Burgomeister my old friend

Wilhelm presented himself to the Burgomeister Markus and soon had him enthralled with the magic of his ring. They had a pleasant discussion where Markus voiced his displeasure at having to deal with the Knight of Science. Markus also provided Wilhelm with the promised reward for the slaying of Greylock the gnoll. Wilhelm’s proof of the deed was Greylock’s magic battle axe. ‘You know he had a lion don’t you?’ Wilhelm said as he pocketed the map which was his reward. ‘You could have told us he had a lion.’
Wilhelm was put up for the night, visited Sarcha and planned her escape. The morning saw Wilhelm develop an involuntary muscle spasm and a surfeit of long hair. He was stricken with the beginnings of lycanthropy as a direct result of his earlier encounter with the over-sized ratmen. Wilhelm spent a good while in the bathroom shaving of the copious amounts of body hair before meeting the Inquisitor for the questioning of Sarcha. Sarcha played her part well capitulating swiftly and promising to lead them to her coven in the forest. Setting forth Wilhelm offered to hold the bound Sarcha and after some time meandering the woods he swept her up into the saddle and rode off leading the Knight of Science and Inquisitor a merry chase. He returned to camp insisting that Vargthick pack the tent immediately. ‘We must leave, I’ve got the witch I was telling you about… oh and I also have lycanthropy. Do you know of anyway to cure it?’
Sarcha suggested the curse could only be lifted by a powerful cleric of good. The only priest she knew resided in Lesserton a weeks travel to the north. With few other options the band began the lengthy but uneventful trek.

Lesserton

On the trip to Lesserton Wilhelm completed his transformation to wererat but was thankfully securely bound and watched over during this traumatic event.
Lesserton itself is a squalid community on the borders of a ruined city. Fortunately for Vargthick ogres were allowed within the walls. Paying a steep entrance fee the band wasted no time in finding the Temple of Divine Purpose – a church which worships the need for laws. Here they were met by lay brother Erasmus who upon learning of Wilhelms’ plight arranged for a healing service the following day. Before a congregation some five hundred strong a miracle was performed and the curse of lycanthropy lifted. As part of the ritual Wilhelm was placed under a compunction to perform a task for the church. A task to retrieve a sacred relic long thought lost in the mountains. Erasmus would accompany them.

Hammers of the God

The group remained in Lesserton only long enough for Vargthick to intimidate two down and out half orcs into joining his ‘tribe’ and accompany them on their quest. The trip was an arduous trek into the mountains where at long last they came across a mighty set of double doors embossed with the sign of the hammer.

  • The mountains – Sarcha can read ancient dwarven
  • The whirlpool
  • The keystone
  • The hammer

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