DGA9.09: Return to Gold Hill – Follow if you can

The characters for this session

In order of advance

Cat, lvl9 warlock, with Dis his familiar;
A pair of hobgoblin warriors led by Caermorn their captain [NPCs];
Thudash, lvl5 ranger [NPC this session];
Dany, lvl5 cleric;
Luth, lvl5 fighter;
Ulric, lvl9 paladin

The Gold Hill story so far

Foolish adventurers disturb something in a chapel! A month later, Cat arrives to find the Gold Hill area overrun with undead, and the survivors desperately holding out in a camp. He persuades Dany the Chaplain of Gold Hill, and Luth the survivor of Elke’s Lot, to go search for her with him.

At the same time Ulric, paladin of the One True Faith and knight inquisitor, arrives with Thudash his guide. He seeks information on hobgoblin activity and on the sudden appearance of undead.

The two mighty adventurers join forces to search an abandoned tower, last refuge of Elke. It is infested by undead – but by good fortune, a trio of hobgoblins they find make truce. The hobgoblins know how to get to tunnels below, where Elke seems to have fled to.

A rat in the hand

The hobgoblins commence maneuvering a chest up the narrow spiral stair. “Got a rat in here – we gonna need it for teleport.”

Withholding judgment, the adventurers follow and watch as Caermorn opens a concealed doorway in the blank wall to one side of the stairwell. Beyond: an untidy room most dominated by a pink-glowing runic circle.

“OK budge up, pretty crowded,” Caremorn encourages. “Hey you with the gauntlet,” he addresses Dany, “mind grabbing the rat when we open the lid?”

Flashback:

“Say, Ulric, I happen to have a magic gauntlet said to be of use to the righteous. It has a catch though. Used to be used to make a gauntlet-shaped bulge in Vir pack, I know he won’t mind it being put to use.”

“Catch? Like a curse?” Dany wants to know.

“No, not at all – just that it’s precious to dragonkin, so, you know.”

“I already have enough attuned items,” Ulric replies rather curtly, and Dany echoes this: but, “No need to attune this one – there are benefits without attuning.”

Greenfist becomes Dany’s property.

Back to the present:

There’s an air of tension. Is it really a rat? As the hobgoblins ease open the lid a giant rat lunges past Dany’s grasp! Panic! Cat nimbly skips to the door and closes it: then it’s quite the free-for-all as the rat runs up Ulric, jumps across Thud, and is finally pinned by Luth.

“Get in the circle before you kill it!”

As the blood flows from the rat the pink glow becomes crimson! With no particular sensation of travel, they all find themselves in a broad room of about three levels and with the stench of death all about.

Ghasts and ghouls and a thread of hope

“By Maglubiyet – they killed Kenny!”

So bursts the cry from Caermorn as the first thing the party sees by the light of Luth’s sword is a headless hobgoblin corpse. Stinking undead things slaver from the four corners of the chamber. Some are on raised areas, above door level: the door itself is reached by way of a steep but broad flight of steps. The other corners are dank and slick with algal growth and eerie stone marking – who knows what?

Inits: Ulric, Luth/hobgoblins, ghasts, Dany, Cat, ghouls, Thud

As Ulric and the hobgoblins position themselves defensively, Luth wrangles one off into his own duel. For a moment it appears he is about to be mass-attacked, but in fact it’s one of the hobgoblin shield-warriors that goes down under a ghast and ghouls. The ghast, wounded, leaps agilely away, leaving its ghouls to continue attacking. Cat hurls the ghouls back with Repelling Blasts, preventing them from cracking the party defenses. Ulric puts forth more of his powers and Dany’s Sacred Flame proves lethal! Eventually one ghast breaks and runs, slapping the wall atop the steps and exiting a concealed door.

The ghouls have despoiled hobgoblins stores, and Caermorn and the other survivor seem exhausted. Dany heals the dying hobgoblin: the other two look at her with surprise.

Cat exclaims excitedly – he has chosen one of the drier upper corners to search for traces of his lady, and finds two longbow arrows and a thin torn-off shred of lacey purple fabric.

XP: lvl10-14, a bonus xp for searching for signs left by Elke

What horror creeps

After that it’s a quick burst left. to a room where natural springs have leached through the limestone, leaving a pure pool. The hobgoblins, who have survived without water for three days, drink deep and rest for as many minutes as they can. The party fills canteens and water skins.

Ulric has judged that the ghast fled the other way, so he rallies the party to head that way: but before they can do more than set party order, a vast bloated corruption surges along the passage at them!

Inits: Cat, Dany, Thud, Ulric, Luth, hobgoblins, Undead Troll

Cat flees back, levitating to clear his allies’ heads. The hobgoblins set themselves as the traditional shield wall, and that proves the winning tactic. The troll never gets past the shields – and Sacred Flame, Ulric’s hammer and smites, Cat’s Eldritch Blasts, and the mundane weapon attacks of the others destroy it faster than it can heal itself. It uses its massive fists and a long glittering sword.

Cat and Thud utilize plenty of torches to ensure it doesn’t recover. Meanwhile Ulric determines that the troll came from a nearby lair, the hobgoblins decide to shift their chest to it, and the others keep watch.

XP: lvl10-12

Rest and a direction

The lair contains a disgusting nest with some buried coin. Dis grabs the chance to Identify both the sword and the black vial Cat picked up in the tower.

Black vial: Potion of Undead Control

Sword: Dispenser, the relic of a long-dead Teulon paladin who bravely fought fiends and undead.

Cat gingerly flicks as many coins as he can see out, and everyone grabs a

Short Rest: hobgoblins recover one short-rest exhaustion, others roll HD. Luth attunes Dispenser.

Caermorn plans to head back to his HQ, but, says he, if they go they opposite way to him at the major T-junction ahead, they’ll get to Gold Hill.

The last lair, and more loot!

The party reassembles and resumes. The tunnel becomes much less regular, and seams of granite can be glimpsed as they head upward But then:

“Boss, ya want I should make sure it’s clear behind us? I know ya don’t like leaving stuff on th’ back-trail.”

Ulric approves, so Thudash uses his Awareness and pronounces:

“That ghast must be just behind us, hiding out somewhere!”

Ulric masses his own considerable powers of detection and pins the ghast’s location down to an area just past the troll’s lair.

As they search slowly, Caermorn announces he and his lads will be leaving. He even makes a not funny joke, and they two sides wave farewell.

Finally opening the concealed panel, they kill the ghast with lots of holy kill-ness and find that it has taken refuge in a fairly dry chamber. Once more, on more than one level, but one dry ledge contains a chest and a mannequin on which hangs a fine suit of chainmail.

Dis’ Identify comes into play once more. The loot includes a mace+1, and +1 chain mail. Thud gets the former, Luth the latter. Everyone grabs a handful of silver and copper from the chest, and are ready once more!

A scratch on the wall – Gold Hill awaits!

Returning to the upward-slanting passage they at length reach the major T-junction. There has been the occasional other nook and side-passage but this is very obvious. Thud and Dany (who is capable at tracking) confirm that the hobgoblins turned right.

The moss on the left wall part-conceals a recent scratch. It has been incised with some sharp v-pointed object, like an arrow-head. Cat takes it as a sign that Elke went left, and encourages the others:

“I believe we are on the right track! Gold Hill awaits!”

XP: lvl10-10

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