DGA12.02: Ironwood Gorge, part four – Kin and Kinetics

The level 12 Elsir Vale heroes for this session

Seck, wielding Maelsauga, throw knife with the soul of a stirge;
Phoenix, wielding Mocair, greataxe with the soul of a barbaric paladin;
Ulric, wielding Kinslayer, warhammer with a curse;
Cat, wielding Osuz, rod with the soul of a dragonborn; ably assisted by Dis his familiar

The Elsir Vale heroes begin with 3395xp and gain 4200xp plus a 5% story bonus

Join me!

As Ulric slogs back up the underwater cut, still with the hobgoblin caster in princess carry, he is hailed from behind:

“HAHAHAHAHAHHHH!!! Oh, this is rich! I thought I would need to seek you out! And here you are! SOOOO good to see you again… brother! MWAHAHAHAHAHHHH!!!”

Ulric drops the caster in the reeds and wheels about. Poised on the water across from him, standing on a bed of ice and advancing slowly, is a man that looks a lot like Ulric’s dead brother Edwin.

“Edwin?!? You shouldn’t be here!”

At the same time as he says this Ulric [rolling a nat20 on Acrobatics] rapidly back-pedals nimbly up to high ground. He thinks back through what he was told about Edwin.

“WHAHAHAHAHHH…. you WOULD say that brother!”

Ulric doffs his helm and peers at the oncoming caster.

He makes a poor Insight check. Kinslayer twitches at his belt.

“Ahhh, Edwin – what – how – how?”

“What say you let me get CLOSER so we don’t have to shout?”

Putting a spike in it, moving on

We leave Ulric catching up with family, and zip back up 300 feet, above the tower where Cat is a level below four hobgoblin guards. The manticore makes a fine Perception check!

An iron spike flicks through the slit window and penetrates Cat’s Anorak, and Cat as well. Cat slides into full cover and as three more spikes rattle into the stone, down one flight and uses One with Shadows.

Meanwhile Phoenix, still hidden in the remnants of Vir’s fog cloud, hears the manticore flapping lower and turns to Vir:

“The manticore has dropped to bow range, can you hit him from here?”

“Sure,” Vir returns sarcastically, imitating longbow readiness with his glaive, “just let me know when to loose, old friend!”

Phoenix peers around seeking the body of the hob captain, and heads there to check for a bow. The corpse is only a few feet from the precipice of the gorge, great-sword lying nearby, but no missile weapon – and no potion bottle. Phoenix turns round to explain all this to Vir, then stops: a GIGANTIC GHOSTLY LION is looming over Vir’s body. It looks at Phoenix, picks Vir up like a mouse, bounds southward, drops Vir, looks at Phoenix again, drops something very deliberately, and once more picks up its prey and bounds away, gone.

Meanwhile Seck creeps up stealthily [thanks to Reliable Talent] and listens to hobgoblins in the next chamber. No more than three, possibly only two. He readies Maelsauga and loads up, flicking the blade through and – given the amount of Force damage – exploding the poor creature’s skull!

We have debated what type the Sneak Attack damage is and I have ruled it is the Force type, not the Piercing.

DM

Seck slides back into full cover and takes the Hide bonus action.

Trope on trope

Ulric waits as Edwin finishes his slow passage. He has the high ground. He wonders if he is underestimating Edwin’s power. After all from Edwin’s point of view, maybe HE is evil?! Playing for time as he uses Lay on Hands [50 points!} he offers:

“But – Edwin – you died!?!”

“HAH!! A family likes to keep its dirty laundry in the bottom drawer, you know that, brother! You wouldn’t want to know who spoke to me in the darkness! I have more power than you could ever dream of!”

As Edwin clambers through the bad ground he Summons Fey and a spike-tooth water fey closes its vast jaws on Ulric’s leg.

“Edwin! It’s not too late to redeem yourself! Join me!”

“Join ME brother, together we can rule!”

“I too have gained power since we parted brother, I warn you…”

Edwin pulls up more ice magic and hurls a spear, which misses, exploding off the cave entrance in shards. Ulric deftly dodges and hefts Kinslayer while replacing his helm and bringing up Shield of Faith, then smashes the fey creature, killing it in two blows. His gaze is caught by some regularly-arranged shiny pebbles beyond…. Edwin leaps close, stabbing with another ice knife, but he no longer has help from the flanking fey creature and misses! Ulric wheels, Kinslayer takes over his will, and a red mist descends… when his breathing steadies the body of his brother Edwin is stretched out lifeless, minus a head. Ulric drops to his knees:

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!”

You only die twice

Meanwhile, Phoenix takes a few steps after the lion, then shrugs, eyeing the manticore. It is low enough to hit at range. He fishes out a sling. Maybe a pinprick will be better than nothing.

Cat peers out of the tower entry, up 70 degrees, spots the manticore. It seems to have heard something at the next tower and is moving across. He casts Silent Image and guides a convincing illusion of himself clumsily dashing across. The manticore takes the bait and sends more tailspikes down. Three strike home! Cat makes his illusion appear to be hit and fall dead! The manticore, confused by the rain, buys it! It roars with satisfaction, and flaps up to the other tower-top, below which Seck is killing the next hobgoblin. Cat remains where he is, fishing out a potion. Then right beside his ear he hears:

“Cat! I’ve only got a limited time to tell you this! Come seek me in the Dark Tower! All the best!”

Phoenix, horrified at what he has seen, drops the sling and stones, and races to aid the fallen Cat. His hand goes through the illusion. He swears a barbaric oath, because now he is right below the manticore. Which flicks its last volley down and Phoenix takes three more spikes! Well satisfied (and unwilling to get into melee with adventurers that slew captain Hell) the manticore flaps away.

Cat, elated from the success of Operation Cat is Dead, hurls himself off into the gorge, intending to cast Levitate – but he has not realized how close to the cliff his leap has taken him – he strikes a rail of some kind – and darkness overtakes him.

Old regrets, new arrivals

Ulric studies the pebbles. They read:

“Cat Beloved of Titania Commands Your Presence As We Are All Fighting Up Here – Cat”

This is not quite the sense of what Cat actually asked Dis to write

DM

SPLASH! Something else has arrived.

Thoughts of when they were both lads, and when he would playfully make Edwin’s life miserable, and how his parents always told Edwin to be more like his brother, run through Ulric’s mind. Sighing bitterly he rises to his feet, looks at Edwin’s remains, then quickly scrambles down and back into the water ready to retrieve the newcomer. It looks like a drowned Cat.

Up above him the hobgoblin caster’s body twitches.

A very tall tale

Seck finishes the last cowering hobgoblin and strides through the chamber, briefly noting that it’s not worth getting his hands covered in hobgoblin brain just to do a bit of light looting. He scoots silently up to the roof turret level – only to see the manticore just flying away out of range. Dang! Glancing down, he sees Phoenix, and – as the rain has eased to some degree – walkways along the nearest gorge side – heads back down.

“Phoenix! All’s well here… where’s Vir?”

“Uhhhh….”

“What?”

“He was right there… then a giant lion ghost picked him up and jumped way over there and dropped something and looked at me and bounded away again. With Vir.”

“Phoenix… that stuff I rubbed on you… did you lick it?”

“Anyway I haven’t found Cat, that there – hey, it’s gone now – is – was – an illusion.”

“Huh. Oh well I’m sure Cat’s fine. Let’s go, I have something to show you.”

“OK, just a minute.”

Phoenix runs – he may be low on health but there’s nothing wrong with his speed – south to grab the pouch the giant lion dropped, back north to grab Ulruf, and back to the bridge where Seck is waiting. The latter points down:

“Look, this is where the hobgoblins get up and down.”

“OK, let’s go!”

Reunited and it feels so good

Ulric catches Cat as he slowly drifts, and brings him back out. He clears Cat’s air passage and pumps in some healing. Cat gasps back to life as up near the cave the hobgoblin caster rises from where he has crept and lays down three firebolts! One of them catches Ulric. Before he can retaliate, the hobgoblin turns tail and flees into the dark tunnel!

Cat is joined by Dis who leaps off the cliff face and drops onto his noggin. Cat checks that his head is not split open – the knock he took was severe – and that Osuz is still secure. Then:

“My staff!, Dis, did you see where it went?”

“Of course my lord, I shall swim to where it lies, then you can follow me.”

SPLASH! Something much larger than Dis hits the water.

SPLASH SPLASH!! And yet more somethings.

Berserker Bugbears!

Seck and Phoenix advance with due caution along the duckboards that by means of iron scaffolding have been fixed to the cliff-side. Rounding a curve the rail of which is marked by a splotch of blood, Seck sees a broad stone ledge ahead. As he continues around the curve and onto it, he realizes it dovetails into a passage, or large cave, into the cliff.

Phoenix cautiously approaches the edge and peers down. It’s hard to see through the rain, but there seems to be a shiny paladin down there. He gestures for Seck to look…

A sixth sense, or his keen natural hearing, warns Seck in time. He yells as three massive bugbears, hairy arms beginning to be plastered with rain, ease out of hiding behind them! The bugbears, realizing their ambush has failed, go berserk and charge, in an attempt to shove the two adventurers off the edge!

Seck hurls Maelsauga, and as the bugbear heading his way reels, leaves it in. He steps aside as his adversary expires, kicks him off the ledge and recalls his blade.

Phoenix faces a pair: with a pantherish twist he fools one and it flails screaming off the ledge. The other catches him with greataxe and handaxe and both fall off! The two roll over and over in the air: Phoenix gains the upper hand: the bugbear takes the worst impact. He still blacks out…

And one shall not fall (but needs a manicurist)

Seck eventually finishes his climb down. Phoenix has been dragged out of the water and revived, and Ulruf, the pouch, and Cat’s staff are all safe. Cat has blasted the lone bugbear that survived the fall.

“I heard a waterfall earlier, and I think we all need to recoup,” Ulric says, gesturing upstream.

“I need a short rest at least,” Cat admits.

“Me – long rest, please!” Phoenix groans emphatically.

“I would welcome a long rest,” Ulric admits, “how about you Seck?”

“I ripped a nail climbing down.”

And as the others grind their teeth at the rogue’s ability to avoid damage, the session ends.

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