DGA9.10: Return to Gold Hill Finale – The undead lord’s challenge

The characters for this session

IN ORDER OF ADVANCE

Cat, lvl9 warlock, with Dis his familiar;
Thudash, lvl5 ranger;
Dany, lvl5 cleric;
Luth, lvl5 fighter;
Ulric, lvl9 paladin

The Gold Hill story so far

Two mighty adventurers, Ulric von Kessel, paladin of Elsir Vale, and Cat Weasel, beloved of Titania, join forces to search under undead-infested Gold Hill for Elke, Cat’s missing girlfriend. By good fortune and diplomacy they find their path leads from tunnels beneath the old watchtower, to the west, below the main Gold Hill mines. In this quest there travel with them Luth a survivor of Elke’s lot, Dany a survivor of the Gold Hill gang, and Ulric’s guide Thudash.

Cat hastens back to Thudash from the darkness ahead, taps him and points, then heads further back to huddle for a quiet warning to be passed on.

“Quite a pile of zombies, headed this way!”

Thudash scrambles back behind Luth and Ulric, who have the front rank:

“Drilled one right though the middle – never noticed!”

He slings his longbow with swift hands and readies magical mace and regular shortsword. Dany and Cat stay fairly close.

The zombies shamble forward, and the main danger – at first – is being mobbed by mindless numbers. Luth is pressed down and part-crushed by the pile-up. Then a terrifying new arrival! A manlike creature, with fangs and long claws on display, leaps down from above and is amidst the rear rank! Luckily Dany and Cat are able to lay so much damage on that the creature collapses into a swarm of centipedes and scurries away.

From his hiding spot in shadow, Cat spots the reforming creature and a violet blast hurls it back! Luth races forward! Thud is hard on his heels and moving a good deal quicker, overtakes him, passing by a sharp left- turning side-cavern, with a sharp angle of rock or such like jutting out. The passage ahead is worked, not natural: the walls well-dressed and perhaps even decorated, once.

Behind them Ulric purges poison from Cat. Dany follows Luth and Thud.

Luth catches Thud up. Here with Luth’s torch to help they can see water to his left – a derelict fountain in a pool – strange shapes move beneath the surface. Two zombies shamble out of a left-hand passage. Skeletons rise from the water and begin clambering out. There are quite a few! Without wasting time ascertaining the forward dimensions, Thud leaps away, and once Luth is clear, hurls up a thick body of Web to clog the entire passage.

“Well, that’s bought us an hour – or are they forcing their way through? No?”

“I have a feeling Gold Hill may be in the hands of the undead,” Cat says with sincere supererogation.

“Hmm… we should check that left tunnel curling back through the angle of rock or whatever.”

“With a wary eye on the passage roof!”

Ulric points the way – no-one does check that odd jut – and the party finds its way into what, at first, appears to be an empty cavern.

There is more than a hint of fungus about the place, but Thud and Dany draw no conclusions. What Thud does manage to find, thanks to his superior vision into the dim corners, is a narrow cranny or small side-tunnel.

There Cat finds a well-woven thick net trap, all ready to drop. The party readies and triggers it with Mage Hand.

It is not Myconids, but Kobolds! These fierce dragon kin hurl an oil bomb, and strike hard to defend their lair and their mighty chief’s treasure. With a mild sigh – for the heart is really not in slaughtering for slaughter’s sake – the party fails to negotiate, and kills three. The chief and two survivors retire, and Cat follows up. Again with a mild sigh the warriors and their chief – and his cheese treasure – are splattered about their cavern.

Just as they triumph, the rear comes under attack! Dany’s Mace of Warning flares, no-one is surprised, and they face a life-draining specter. Luth activates Dispenser’s Sacred Weapon but still only makes one successful strike – the specter is hard to see! Dany flicks her trusty Sacred Flame but the specter writhes aside. Ulric whips it to shreds with his hammer. Cat and Thud race back to see… nothing.

Cat reports:

“Well it seems this is a safe nook, so there’s that… but boy, does it stink in there.”

Returning to the web, Thud is a mite disappointed to see… nothing.

“Let’s burn the web, and see what we caught,” Luth says, setting action to word and torch to web. A couple of near-lurking zombies are quickly smashed down then the skeleton swarm attacks!

“Close up!” Luth calls, and the support trio watches its spacing and keeps close watch for the vampire… but the skeletons are weak and quickly smashed.

“Let’s head on… that intersection…”

From whence comes a screeching leaping undead, perhaps a wight. Cat is Frightened but Dany soon sets that to rights. But then the vampire, which was lurking on the fountain, explodes off it, bounces in off an archway, and lands amidst the party again! He focuses on Ulric. All that remains of threats appears to be a stretch of tiled passage leading to what Thud guesses is double doors.

Luth checks the wight’s leap with his Shield Bash, and deals hefty damage despite its iron-like hide. It is badly harmed!

“Banish!” Cat smirks: the vampire declines to be banished, merely riposting with wit.

The vampire and Ulric commence a grappling contest, with the vampire locking one hand on Ulric’s throat and the pair punching each other. The vampire fails to control Cat, but summons Children of the Night, three dire wolves. They give Luth some major trouble, but he avoids being tripped.

Ulric is very reluctant to use a Smite. He even takes some damage on behalf of Cat! But then…

The doors at the passage end open! And more undead – ghouls this time – are seen assembling, including an improbable collection of dead bodies, swords and armor, with two spectral eyes peering out roughly where eyes ought to be!

“Maelstrom!” Cat commands, holding up the Staff of the Seas. The initial results are disappointing, but only three ghouls make it out, then with a delay, the shambling thing.

It shambles forward, absorbing Luth, Ulric and the vampire! Ulric manages to struggle free, the vampire not so. Luth is whittled down to no health at all!

Dany pulls out her big gun: Spirit Guardians. The battle immediately swings in the heroes’ favor!

The shambles being finally dealt with, Ulric carefully hooks a length of rotting intestine out of Luth’s throat then healing is applied.

Luth is back on 10hp!

But as mentioned the doors are open, and the party pushes on. A huge room, with raw nuggets of gold, and gold dust, and gold coin, casually spilled about. A dim-lit dais holds a pair of coffins, but more importantly, there is a passage beyond to a lit great hall.

The final enemy is of course the skull-faced gent. In his hand he holds another chain and this fastens about the neck of Elke’s last follower, an escaped slave named Lee Hunter. Cat decides that it is time to use his Potion of Undead Control.

He does, and realizes that each of the ten pillars of the great hall conceals a powerful wight! He controls the two nearest the undead ruler.

And as the ruler realizes that two of his wights are about to embarrass him, he issues Cat a challenge:

“You seek your lady – but she is my guest – if you want her, seek her in my dark tower!”

And teleports out.

The wights are cleared up, Cat’s two eat Lee then one eats the other then kills itself.

“Well we know a way out… it’s going to be a long walk with all that gold,” Cat remarks. But Dany rejoins:

“We can do better than that, I recognized the stream. We can cross it, and be in caves behind the trading post. Or if we can forge upstream, we’ll be behind the constabulary.”

Loot: stacks of gold, enough to bring everyone up to full wealth should they be able to transport it out.

XP: The level five heroes move to level six, with the fame Friend of Ulric, and Savior of Gold Hill.

The level nine heroes and the other Long Roaders move to level ten. Cat and Ulric gain the fame Savior of Gold Hill. The Long Roaders gain the fame Love’s Champion.

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