DGA13.02: Red Hand of Doom Part III – To the Dark Tower

The level 13 Elsir Vale heroes this session

Phoenix Pilandaros, barbarian/Path of the Zealot, wielding Mocair his oath-axe;
Seck Rustrau, rogue/Hunter, wielding Maelsauga the stirge knife and Red Whisper the tiefling shortsword;
Ulric von Kessel, paladin/Oath of Vengeance, wielding Kinslayer the black dragon warhammer;
Cat Weasel, warlock/Titania’s pact, wielding Osuz the dragonborn rod and with Dis his familiar

Piloted by Lothair Beg, barbarian-sorcerer of Windtop lineage, and
Transported by the Liberator

The heroes begin with 7,851xp plus 5% story bonus, and gain 4,500 plus 10% story bonus

The story so far

Elsir Vale in peril! The Hobgoblin Warlord launches a full-scale invasion! Lord Jarmaath of Brindol finds that his allies are few and vassals untrustworthy! His trusted knight-inquisitor Ulric joins the famed Long Roaders to form a new group of heroes, and begins fire-fighting. Time is of the essence. As the northern horde breaches Drellin’s Ferry, the vale people retreat to the Nimon Gap. Ulric has reason to fear that lady Danforth of Terrelton, which lies in the horde’s path, is not to be trusted. Regardless, the heroes fell red dragon Abrithiax at Ironwood Gorge, then plunge into the Underdark to rescue air transport and the surviving score of Windtop dwarfs.

Where to from here?

600′ above Ironwood Gorge, and no surviving manticore dares challenge the strange vessel. A score of dwarves, their treasures, and their intense body odor makes the craft cramped indeed! In the very limited pilot’s console space, they study maps, including the sketch thoughtfully dropped for them by the Dark Lord.

From these and from the new aspect afforded them by height, the following composite suggests they need to make for a camp north of the Alshon:

“Yes, Cat, we will get you back to your clothes,” Ulric reassures the warlock. “Bestellen will meet us en route.”

“What do you know of that old dwarf fort, Lothair?” Seck asks. He is the one that recalled it from the stay at the Karch inn.

Lothair winces, and so with a fierce pull at his beard does Odenfrith, laird of the sept. “Windtop is our heritage, but evil drove us from it long since,” Lothair explains.

“Some say, we delved too deep,” Odenfrith muses.

“That would be the greed then,” Cat definitely does not say out loud.

With the hope that the hobgoblins have abandoned the outpost to the fore, Lothair engages gears and the craft glides at a brisk jogging speed east.

Not more than an hour later, night falls. Lothair guides the vessel down slowly and hovers at ground level. With a thud of hooves and clatter of loose harness Bestellen’s herd arrives. Cat’s fair skin is soon modestly clad once more, packs loaded, Bestellen bid farewell, and it’s time to glide north, across the Alshon!

Bestellen in Ulric’s war horse. He wears a bridle that increases his INT to 10 and allows Common speech.

DM

Gnolls resist the new tenants, to no avail

Bright morning sun is low on their right. Lothair “releases” the canopy (“I choose not to think of the forces I unleash each time I use these controls”): Seck and Cat peer over, studying the small inner ward and fort roof.

“Doesn’t look completely unoccupied – though that giant pile of poop looks old and dry…”

“Right, let’s see… we have plenty of rope now… Cat, you’ll just float?”

Wave one arrives in good order on the small keep roof. A broken trapdoor entry avails. Before they can do more than smell the stench of carnivorous beasts, there’s a CLANK as wave two arrive. A fierce growl comes from below…

Gnolls and two pet hyenas explode out of doors and gaps, but the only real danger are the hyena Spirit Guardians the shaman summons. Seck kills the shaman quick, and seeing him fall, the gnolls flee. Most die but they buy time for a few to get away with the gnoll matriarch.

“Ah well, good enough. Let’s get the ship down.”

With a ho and possibly a hi, the common dwarfs labor at cleaning and tidying, and the fort is soon as ready as it can be.

It’s a boring day for the heroes. They have already taken all the rest they need, and wandering about the mountain slopes will just arouse local monsters. They discuss priorities to death, and agree that the next leg is across to the Hammerfasts, south-east. Which is what they originally decided, but it’s nice to be sure.

Splat! Chimerae hit the wall

The craft elevates up and travels toward the Wyvernwatch Mountains as dusk becomes night. Lothair adjusts the vector as Ulric points to flares of torches below. The horde is on the move! Ulric’s jaw clenches as he spots the banner of Terrelton in the flare of a torch. “So, she has turned traitor,” he nods.

Flying creatures loft and race towards them! Seck hurls Maelsauga as they come near enough to pick out the multi-headed legendary chimerae: then Cat throws out Wall of Light! Dazed and confused the two creatures ram into one another and tumble to the ground! Consternation among the ranks!

Chimera - Monsters - D&D Beyond

Beginning to think of things they may be able to do to the horde, the heroes turn to discussing time-frames.

Seck (the only veteran present) attempts to match his own experience to a hobgoblin horde equivalent. “They will be foraging far and wide, to feed an army of that size. You can double the time needed, if you are thinking of road travel.”

“Terrelton to Nimon Gap… that’s maybe a day if I wasn’t riding,” Ulric frowns. “So we have two days?!” He turns his gaze, level and non-judgmental, to Cat. “The needs of the many…”

Seck is with Ulric on this one, but Phoenix pipes up, to Cat’s surprise. “I lost my chance at love by leaving it to the next time, we should rescue Cat’s lady now!”

“I say, if we are rescuing Elke and racing to save the people of the Vale, we name this craft the Liberator,” Seck decides. It sounds good to all!

Seck’s player is a big Blake’s Seven nerd

DM

Farewell! We’ll do our best!

The Liberator settles for its recharge in dun foothills that remind some of the adventurers of the brown hills south of Leischport. The dwarfs disembark, Odenfrith supervising his treasure. By this time the dwarfs have cooked up a tale that will carry the most credit with the Hammerfast cousins, and are in good spirits.

“Aye, a shame ye have no the time to speak for yeselves, but don’t ye worry, I’ll keep my word an’ speak for ye and Lord Jarmaath,” Odenfrith assures Ulric.

All Ulric can do is put a happy face on. The group has voted to sail west from here. And although he has 12 hours to kill, that’s not really enough time to race to the nearest Hold, conduct diplomacy, and race back.

All heroes gain Inspiration for delivering the dwarfs safely

A touch-up: foraging giants

The Liberator sails west. It’s an indication of how far afield the horde is foraging that a pair of giants spot them. They are at least 30 miles south of Terrelton. Baseball-size rocks tap on the Liberator’s bottom. Phoenix produces the canister of nasty dust he looted from vampire Durlag, Lothair releases the canopy, and Phoenix drops its over.

“Thought so,” Seck comments smugly as the giants seem barely to notice, “I’m saving mine for creatures that are likelier to be crippled by it.”

With night cloaking them, they sail quietly through the night, and are soon over the Thornwaste. Here, more vicious than dangerous flying creatures use the night to hunt. They deal with all as need be.

Flying skulls: Dark Tower yonder!

“I’m about as far as we can go,” Lothair warns. “Going down, let me know if you see a good clear patch!”

At half cruising height the tallest trees among the Waste loft close. Cat picks out three small shapes approaching: not the right shape to be flying serpents or birds. “Skulls! Skulls in the treetops!”

Maelsauga shatters one to powder and three good Eldritch Blasts crack a second. They lose sight of the third. “It’s below us,” Dis reports.

“I see a giant black lion thing – that must be it!” Seck exclaims, pointing left.

As the two with decent range attacks begin a plan to lower themselves, and Phoenix fastens a rope and offers the other end to Cat, the Liberator crunches down through the thick thorn trees and settles.

The third skull goes down fighting and Cat’s temporary health is removed. The others disembark to join him and decide what to lug with them and what to leave aboard.

The many hands/claws of not-welcome

They have to move cautiously, but find that the land immediately around the great black basalt (monument? tower?) is beaten into easier trails. Seck studies tracks.

“Something big, with too many feet and a tail…. but look, our old friends the hobgoblin soldiers, too.”

“Is there anywhere they don’t go?” Cat marvels.

A black basalt lion, couchant. Its raised head must rise to 80′. One possible entry point is its mouth, which is open. The large space between its paws appears to be well-beaten, and has characteristics of a meeting space or auditorium.

“Let’s not just walk into the Lion’s Mouth,” Seck quotes proverbially, “a circuit looking for a secret entrance seems called for.”

Alas no such option presents itself, and though Seck could make a case for clambering up from the tail end, Ulric isn’t really clad for that. As they reach the paws once more, a mighty roar fills the air as SOMETHING BIG decides it resents their presence!

Inits: Phoenix, all the baddies, Ulric, Seck/Cat

Phoenix rages, charges, hacks at the monstrous behir. Mocair is deflected once by a claw, but chops deep with the return blow. Noxious vapor fills the air around the monster. Phoenix ignores it.

Meanwhile Cat has noticed creeping figures using Darkness to cloak their approach: three agile, cloth-armored types and an undead hound-master with undead hound! Dis informs her master that they are surrounded by a Silence field. The monks race to attack, one reaches Cat and delivers a flurry: Cat Misty Escapes to the other flank, as Seck fans out and picks a target.

Ulric decides to confront the monks, slamming Kinslayer down on one. The goblinoid is very tough, and does not drop.

As Phoenix merrily hacks away, evading most of the behir’s claws and felling the hound, Seck Cat and Ulric find the monks very nippy! Two split away from Ulric and pincer Cat: he falls as they both slam Purple Worm poison onto him!

That is their only success though: Seck and Ulric slay them and wheel to see Phoenix felling the behir and dealing with the hound-master with a single blow.

“That didn’t seem much of a challenge,” he complains, “maybe we should have dealt with this Dark Lord as soon as we met Cat?”

Ulric hastens to lay two Lesser Restorations on Cat: then having dealt with the poison, restores him to life. And the session ends.

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