The Salvation of Geoff

Raid on the Bloody Ridge (part 3)

Having released the prisoners from their cell and gone through the small pile of stuff left over, the group continued onward. Opening the other door in the main lodge area, there was a hallway leading off and to the right. Peering around the corner revealed two more ogres, waiting patiently by an partially open double door behind them. The group quickly burst around the corner to attack, catching the ogres by surprise. blows were exchanged, when into the room burst two more creatures: an orc bodyguard and a half-orc, armed with a khopesh and wearing a bright metal breastplate and steel shield. The group moved into positions to receive the new foes, when a gout of flame burst from the half-orc. Fire Breath!! The battle consumed several rounds, with Gellak taking down the ogres in quick fashion. The half-orc continued to press the attack, not giving ground or quarter. Another couple of breaths of flame and a couple strikes with his khopesh was all he could muster before the party brought him and the bodyguard down. A quick search revealed the khopesh, breastplate and shield to be magical. The party picked up exploration again after a round of healing…..

Behind the dead opponents was a door that led down into darkness. A 5’ wide hall full of stairs dropped some 60 to 80 feet underground and ended at a door blocked by two large boulders. The door itself was nailed over with boards. The party quickly surmised this was to keep whatever was in the chamber behind from getting out. Naturally, they moved the boulders, pried off the boards and opened the door. Behind them was a very large chamber, some 50’ long, with two semi-circular alcoves on both sides. At the rear were half a dozen steps leading up to another semi-circular alcove that had a pulpit of some sort in it. Cautiously moving across the room, Oxyl checked for traps and finding none, proceeded toward the pulpit. At exactly the halfway point, grinding stone was heard and springing from openings in the side alcoves were droves of animated skeletons, wielding a variety of rusty, sharp weapons. As Badger had decided long ago to follow the paths of negative energy, no turning of the monsters was possible. Again, the battle was joined. After much hacking and bashing, a total of 24 skeletons lay in pieces about the chamber. While pausing once again to rest and use up the last of the healing magic, those least hurt examined the room they were in. Badger’s religious teaching revealed that this was some sort of cathedral. Oxyl discovered a hidden door in one of the alcoves and opened it while the rest searched for more clues in the temple. Finding no other information, the proceeded to enter the hallway, which was filled with dust and heavy cobwebs. It was apparent that this passage had no been traversed by anyone living or dead in several decades. The hall turned to the left and quickly entered a room containing 5 statues – three on the left, two on the right. Each statue was different, with a nameplate at the feet telling who this was, when they were born and died and their title. A quick glance ahead revealed corridors of this nature going in all three directions. It was decided that they regroup back outside, leaving the two released prisoners a safe distance from the complex to guard the imprisoned orc leader. They went out, gathered the horses and mules and made their way a bit south of the keep. As they moved to leave the property, a person cried out from back near the keep. There, rushing toward them, was the cleric Kerig of the Red Banners. He hugged Coanor and Gellak and, as they moved toward the resting spot, told his tale. While fighting up on on section of the wall, he pasued to catch his breath and leaned against what seemed to be a secret door in the corridor. As there were several orcs headed in his direction, he ducked inside, and there he stayed, feeding himself with Create Food and Water spells and looking for a way to escape his predicament. Several days passed without a chance, when he looked out and noticed the orcs had left the area. As he crept back down the stairs and over toward the keep, he spotted the party….Kerig helped to watch the prisoner as the rest of the group broke bread and then slept. The following day, after regaining full complements of spells and healing as much as was prudent, the six comrades left to go back into the depths below the ruined keep.

Back in the statue room, they decided to move forward, taking notes on all the information given by the statues. The males stood in position with a longsword out in front of them, point resting on the floor. The females were dressed in robes. There were a few statues that stood out as different: one male was much larger than the others (called Petran Mynyth, or Petran the Mountain), while one of the females held a small child. After discovering no less than 23 separate statues, the group proceeded into a room that was much different. Roughly 20′×30′, this room had four stone slabs. They were arranged with three toward the front and toward the back. Most disconcerting was that upon the front three were skeletons, armed with obviously useful weapons and armor, the swords held in hand on the chest. The forth being was covered by a thick purple cloth. In front of the three skeletons were small wooden boxes. The covered being had a chest at it’s head, that appeared to be covered with gems and jewels. Throwing caution to the wind, Oxyl moved up and picked up one of the small boxes. Immediately, the four creatures moved to stand, drawing their weapons as they did. The skeletons had an unnatural bluish light emanating from their eyes….these were obviously not your garden-variety skeleton like those they had fought earlier. The one in the center rose and held two twin longswords, while the others held but one. The creature in the back was most horrid: the rotting and putrid flesh…the red, glowing eyes….Badger screamed out “Wight” as the fighters moved forward to engage the skeletal warriors. This turned out to be no easy fight. Gellak took on the dual sword wielding skeleton, and took several nasty blows, dropping him almost to the point of death. Badger worked on healing as the rest of the group engaged the four creatures. Randal – seeing the way into the room blocked, took a different path toward the fight. He cut through a room that was dimly lit and contained a single large female statue. As he moved to the corridor, the statue reached out and stuck him with its stone sword…a Caraytid Column – damn the luck! The fight went on for almost a minute and a half, with Gellak and Oxyl taking the worst of it. After dispatching the entire group – the last to go down being the two sword skeleton – they paused to heal and search the room over. The small boxes contained a single, ancient-looking copper coin. Badger deduced they were “payment for the Ferryman.” The chest that once had looked so rich revealed itself to simply be a normal wooden box, covered with an elaborate illusion to suck thieves in to their doom. It contained exactly 100 coins each of copper, silver and gold, all neatly stacked inside. The monsters also carried a bit of magic: the two twin swords were magical. They gathered up their spoils, secured them and moved further on into the darkness…..
TO BE CONTINUED (once again)

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Raid on The Bloody Ridge (cont.)

The trek to the ruin was fairly uneventful. The group dodged a distant orc patrol or two and arrived about 36 hours after having left Argel-ys-Aberva. They approached the ruin from the northeast, seeing a part of the wall that surrounded the keep upon the highest rise in the area. Moving around to the northwest past a small section of wall, they spotted two orc guards, standing on top the small section of crumbling wall. Stanislau sent his owl familiar out to scout the rest of the area via the air. It returned several minutes later, Stanislau sensed the animal’s fear at what he deduced was a large number of orc guards. The group quickly decided to make for the ruin – a three story keep of gothic design. It was clear the inside was hollow, as a tree could be seen growing in the center of the first floor. They quickly charged up, hoping to avoid being seen by the two nearest guards. Alas, luck was not with them…one of the guards jumped down to investigate the noise from his left, while the other drew an arrow and aimed directly at where the group had stopped. The guard on the wall was dropped by a single arrow, while Gellak popped out from behind his cover and cut the orc on the ground in half. Oxyl then crept quietly forward, looking into the keep. There were 6 orcs milling about inside, along with a rather stupid-looking ogre. They decided that Stanislau and Oxyl should climb the outer wall and attack from above, while the rest of the group charged in through the large opening in the western wall. They did exactly so, surprising the occupants inside, resulting in 2 dead orcs from arrows and swords. The fight broke out in earnest, but lasted only a few short rounds. Gellak took the ogre out quickly with his magic great axe, while the other 5 handled the orcs rather easily. Oxyl noted after the fight concluded that the sounds of battle did not ring as loudly as they normally would – could there be some sort of magic at work here? None was detected, so they returned to the task at hand.

In the center of the floor was a large set of stairs dropping down into the hill. Oxyl again crept down to investigate. Turning to whisper back up the steps, he found that his voice did not carry at all. He returned to the top to report that an ogre slept in an alcove at the bottom. Plan of action: rush down the steps, surprise the ogre and kill him as quickly as possible. Oxyl later noted they always seem to have trouble getting a plan to come together. It took more than one round to kill the ogre….fortunately he didn’t get a chance to cry out, but might have had Gellak not dropped him as he stood to fight. They caught their breath for a moment, standing in a corridor that went off in both directions (north and south) and turned west again. They decided to go to the right, hearing some banging around from that direction. Oxyl once again padded forward to check out the source of the commotion. Three orcs were in a room throwing daggers at a box and taking bets on whether the knives would stick. As luck once again would have it, one of them turned and saw a somewhat surprised – but definitely not shocked – dwarf standing about half way up the hallway. Once again, a fight broke out, with arrows coming from down the hall over the dwarf’s head, and two or three non-orcs rushing down to kill the occupants. The fight lasted almost a minute. These orcs were definitely not the garden-variety kind that had dropped so easily upstairs in the courtyard. They were better equipped and armed, carrying masterwork falchions and well cared for chain shirts. They obviously had some skill at fighting in close quarters, as well. A check around the room resulted in the discovery of a locked strongbox that contained a handful of platinum pieces and somewhat larger amounts of gold, silver and copper, 3 small diamonds, 2 rubies, 20 tiny pearls and a bottle quickly identified as a potion of Cure Serious Wounds. (19pp, 126gp, 227sp, 346cp)

After healing a few wounds, the group set off to explore the corridor in the opposite direction. Again – and as always – Oxyl moved as quietly as he could around the corner and down the hall. It didn’t take long for him to come scrambling back, a bit disconcerted. The room at the end contained both a troll and a hill giant. They were being dressed down by a rather loud and oddly dressed orc. Badger noted from the description that he appeared to be a shaman of some sort, most likely Gruumsh One-Eye. Once again, they paused to put their thoughts together about how to vanquish the current opposition (with Oxyl rolling his eyes at some of the suggestions…). They drove forward, with Oxyl and Gellak in the front, followed by Halladorn and Stanislau. Gellak turned left immediately to take the troll who had just started up a tunnel dug into the wall for quick entrance for he and the giant, while the others concentrated on the hill giant and shaman. The troll put up a brave fight and struck Gellak several times before dying. Meanswhile, the giant was doing his best to strike the dwarf, who deftly dodged a couple of strikes while returning the swings by doing a bit of damage. There also appeared several duplicates of the shaman, having drunk a potion of Mirror Image. Gellak arrived to help crush the giant, along with Halladorn from behind, and a nicely placed Flaming Sphere. The battle lasted a while, with the orc shaman being slashed and grappled into submission. They tied him up and gagged him, then quickly checked the two sets of double doors in the room. One led to another corridor, while the other went directly into what appeared to be a gaol of some sort. There were a total of 6 cells. Three were empty. One contained a jumbled pile of equipment. The last two were inhabited. The first held a human who identified himself as Owen, a ranger that got caught snooping around the Bloody Ridge just two days previous. The other held the wizard Coanor Ethilfin, who was much worse for the wear. He was chained up on the wall and was muttering to himself. Seeing Gellak he broke from his daze and cried out for help. They got him down and hit him with a Cure Light Wounds, which brought him around a bit further. In tears he described what he knew of the outcome of the battle where he was captured and the Red Banners fell. The dwarf Yurrim was caught and beheaded by the hill giant, who put his head on a pike in front of the cave entrance that tunneled into the complex. He also had seen Glim, the gnome alchemist quickly dropped and left near the east entrance to the keep. He knew nothing of Gellak and Kerig. That left Merogo….. At that, tears again streamed down his face as he told of being forced to watch the unfortunate halfling be killed and eaten by the troll right in front of his eyes. As he told this part of the tale, his gaze was fixed upon a pile of bones in the corner: the grisly remnants of the troll’s meal…..

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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Raid on The Bloody Ridge

Having returned recently from their long-range expedition, the group gathered at The Tavern in Argel to relax and determine their next course of action. That course was determined quickly, as a patrol returned bearing the near-dead body of Gellak Vauth, a member of the rival Red Banner adventuring company. Quickly putting him back together, they got a run-down of their latest mission – one that ended in almost total disaster.

The Red Banner was commissioned to go out into the Bloody Ridge and determine the status of a large group of orcs, led by a hill giant and what appeared to be two half-orc commanders. If they were, in fact, half orcs, it would prove that the “giants in charge” were getting serious about bringing more intelligent leadership into the area to direct upcoming attacks. They were asked to get numbers and kidnap one of the leaders it at all possible for interrogation. According to Gellak, all initially went well. They intercepted a small orc scouting party headed in the direction of an old ruin where the main body was supposedly holed up. This group was bearing a scroll detailing the upcoming arrival of more orcish troops, along with a larger group of hobgoblins. The wizard Coanor Ethilfin, leader of the group, hid the scroll by disguising it as a scroll of magic spells in case they were captured. His idea proved prophetic. The group snuck quietly into the area, intent on capturing one of the half-orcs. One thing quickly led to another and the whole group was surprised and attacked by the invaders, which included a number of ogres and a troll along with the giant and the leaders. Gellak remembered seeing the gnome alchemist, Glim Nackle, fall from arrow wounds, and saw Kerig Cresia the cleric of St. Cuthbert and the dwarf fighter Yurrim Highlion, get cut off from the rest of the party and get forced up and to the west of the ruined keep. He had no idea where Coanor and the halfling rogue Merogo were. Exhausted and barely alive, Gellak made the decision to try to get back to Argel and get help to rescue his comrades and friends.

Typically, when adventuring parties get wiped out, the common practice among the liberation forces is to say a prayer and raise a mug of ale to honor those lost, then go about business, as war is hard enough without trying to rescue every would-be hero that came along. But in this case, Cuthalion made the decision to try, as the information on the scroll was much too valuable to let go. He quickly asked Halladorn if they all would take up the cause and complete the mission as originally requested. Answering in the affirmative, the party began preparations to leave once again. This time, however, Gellak Vauth was determined to accompany them, his sole intent on rescuing his friends – treasure be damned. Valil the elf Ranger had determined when they returned to Argel that he needed to go north toward Amon Din to check on the status of his family that headed that way several months ago. The Inquisitor Arawn was greeted at The Tavern with a note from one of his superiors, asking that he return to The Theocracy to help root out a possible incursion of evil. So, a short day later, Halladorn, Stanislau, Oxyl and two new members – Badger and Randal – left Argel along with the large and very pissed off barbarian Gellak Vauth, to retrieve the scroll of information, capture one of the leaders of the orc band and bring back the remains of the Red Banner adventuring company.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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Information that has been gathered to date
  • Have found and been accepted into Argel-ys-Aberva, an outpost in the Dim Forest where they typically have been striking out from. They have made a favorable impression on Cuthalion Strongbow, the de-facto leader of Argel and the First Ward of the Olwythi, the Rangers of Geoff
  • upon returning from their first trek to the Bloody Ridge, the party was attacked by three “humans” – who appeared similar to forms that can be taken by Shadow-Dancers. It was confirmed during their discussions with Darlon Lea at Hocholve that there appears to be a Shadow Dragon in the town of Derelion who appears to be putting an army of Shadow-creatures together, but for as of yet unknown purposes.
  • Dorindel, the druid who lives near Hocholve, has discovered a plant the elves call Straffern, that has a horrible affect on giants – it actually kills them by turning them into masses of fern-like vegetation. He has not figured out how to move it, as it dies quickly when exposed to sunlight or is dug-up from the ground it grows in.
  • the Fog Giant, Ghanadar, replaced an ogre chieftain named B’gorguul, who was terrorizing the inhabitants of Midwood. He killed the local Arglwyth Talvan of Midwood’s wife right in front of his son, Maldwyn. Since killing the ogre and the accompanying fog giants, Maldwyn has sworn vengeance against the giant, his father and the party. He has specific knowledge that could be used against the town were he to be able to convince the giants that something is up.
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The story so far.....

For approximately the past year of CY591, the party consisting of the cavalier Halladorn, the sorcerer/monk Stannislau Grigor, and the dwarf fighter/rogue Oxyl have been working for the liberators of Geoff. They have – in the past – adventured with Rhain of Geoff (a half-elf Witch), Arawn (a slightly agitated human Inquisitor of Pholtus), and Valil (an elf Ranger). Currently with the group is Randal Quade (a human Druid obsessed with fire), Badger (a halfling Cleric of Obad-Hai) and the barbarian Gellak Vauth, who is with the group trying to locate his adventuring party, The Red Banners.

The group has so far been on a couple treks into the Bloody Ridge area, and one long-range intel-gathering expedition that took them to the towns of Hocholve and Midwood. During their first adventure into the Bloody Ridge, they stumbled across a half-destroyed and deserted temple of Tharizdun, which did not appear to have been abandoned for more than a decade or so. Their long-range adventure west took them to the hamlet of Gwathsir, a small elven/human settlement abandoned during the first invasions. They succeeded in making contact with Darlon Lea, and Dorindel, two of the more important players in the liberation. They also brought back infomation that a rogue Fog Giant named Ghanadar has been caring for the village of Midwood and has kept the population mostly alive and protected from the leaders of the giants.

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