Wednesday, April 23, 2014

K28 - Interview with a tombstone

We left our intrepid heroes all panting after a dash up a 80 yds high ladder while taking fire from above. By the time that we hit the pause button, many goblins were freshly slained, and Thordar's blood was making a mess on the floor.

The toe-hold on the fourth level

After severing the left foot of a fleeing goblin archer, Gror roared down a flight of stairs. He was preceded by said archer, tumbling down said stairs to land by the feet of two goblins taking on a retreat.

Lathmelen ran to Thordar and dispensed as much of her healing magic as she could muster, leaving her out of breath and barely capable of running. The gash in Thordar's leg sealed, he nodded and ran after the pursuing dwarves. Lathmelen, on the edge of losing consciousness, reached for her bow and followed. She met with Gesdrek, Loremaster, and a group of 7 battle-guard dwarves arriving late to the party.

Khazek took to his feet to follow the other archers leaving through the second passage. One of them demonstrated that these goblins were well capable to walk and walls and ceilings as they fled down another set of stairs.

Gror charged with utmost vigor down into a larger hall where about 10 goblins were scurrying through an open door. The door shut, leaving a small number of them on the wrong side. The beleaguered goblins turned back to fight and slowed the progress of Gror, Bain and Thordar towards the door. Thordar got a four-limb grapple by a goblin which placed him in an awkward positions as the other goblins were dealt with.  The Viceroy pinned one of the demoralized goblin against the door with his shield as Khazek and the other cleaned up what was left. 

Journey to the Arvin's crypt

The goblin pinned against the door was named Mik, or at least this is what Bain heard through the whimpers and decided to stick with it. Once that Mik figured out that he was NOT to be killed, his hopes rose and he became very eager to please the dwarves. There appeared to be very little love lost between Mik and whoever shut him up on the wrong side of the gate.

Gror ordered that two more battle-guards be hauled up to the 4th level while Lathmelen and Thordar tried to recover from their wound/shock/exhaustion. Mik kept on bleating nonsense, but a little usable information could be parsed from him. The hunters were regularly raiding the Snagaii kingdom for food. The King of Snagaiis was located on the level below. The dwarves also learned that goblins were terrified of the crypts to the north since the "great rousal" of the dead dwarves a few years ago. Finally, Mik revealed a hard to find passage to get around the stockades protecting them from the hunters and leading into the crypts.

Once the warriors from the Bronze attack arrived (The Silver-Attack was relieved as they started to go loopy on Gror), they ordered 14 of them to keep the hall while 7 would follow the royal party into the crypts. 

Interview with a tombstone

Gesdrek explained that Arvin's tomb should be about 2 hours' travel due North from their position. Mik walked them through a few side passages to get around the blockades and the party ventured deep into the Crypt level of Khazad-dum. The place was noticeably more luxurious than the first and second levels. As they proceeded deeper into the complex, they encountered little evidence of recent passage. The artwork on the walls became more intricate, the place darker and colder.

Poorly defined shapes seemed to be wandering aimlessly through walls, ignoring the advancing party. By early evening, the dwarves had made it to the far corner of the crypts where Arvin was buried. Arvin was once Durin's butler; a very influential dwarf of his day. His tomb was unusually ornate. They entered the crypt and proceeded through a hall covered in engraved and inlaid scenes. In the far end, a phosphorescent glow could be seen coming from a well in the ground. To their left, there was a chapel, to the right, more crypts of what would have been family or close servants.

Gesdrek prompted all to assist him with the ritual. The dwarves chanted while the battle-guard escort keep watch at the crypt's entrance. Mik refused to go in his own way and told the dwarves that he prefered to stay with them until they'd return to the gates of the Snagaii Kingdom. Something spooked him out of the adjoining crypts and he spend the next few hours tormented by the warriors in the central hallway.

The chanting lasted 4 hours until Gesdrek began a silent interview with the opened sarcophagus. He conversed with moans for about 10 minutes; the room fell silent. Gesdrek explained that the Sarcophagus had been defiled by canine-looking creatures which came to free Arvin's body from its final repose. Arvin, however, was now trapped in the crypt as a wraith. He couldn't really see nor hear the living and therefore was not a threat to the others. Gesdrek also got from the tomb that a dark shadow had crawled into the corpse, suggesting that the spirit of the Balrog indeed was the power that moved the ancestors. "I fear that smashing through them may be freeing the Balrog from its current predicament.", concluded the loremaster. They made a mental note to stop slaying ancestors from then on.

Because it was now rather late, and that they were quite tired from the last day. They decided to sleep in the crypt before setting back to the 4th level's entry point in the morning.

Arvin's crypt

The dreamwalker

When Bain fell asleep, he felt his soul split from his body almost right away. Strangely, he felt safe and secure as he realize that his soul was floating in a sea of dwarf wraiths lingering in the area. The eye of Irmo, the jewel given to him by Queen Ngaii, was glowing faintly around his neck. He wandered around, he could see the dreams of his companions, but walked away towards the chapel where the wraith of an imposing dwarf was praying at the altar. The dwarf didn't respond to Bain's calls. However, a cry in the distance caught the Viceroy's ear. 

Bain proceeded west through walls in the search of this call for help. He approached another crypt, ten times more majestic and ornate as Arvin's. At its centre, there was a sarcophagus what didn't get defiled by the infernals. In it, the most beautiful dwarf female was lying and stirring uncomfortably. 

Bain approached the sarcophagus. He could hear the moans, and other sounds that he couldn't fathom. He peered into the stone altar, held the Eye of Irmo in his hands and tried to pry into the beautiful woman's dream. Unfortunately, he got winded and started to lose control as his soul got aspirated back to his body. 

Bain stirred for a long time before falling asleep again. 

In the morning, Bain told of his journey. Gesdrek told him that he probably had encountered the bride of Durin which, upon realizing that Durin wouldn't incarnate during her lifetime, had the dwarves of Khazad-dum put her in stasis until the right day would come. Gesdrek didn't know any more than this about this legend, but felt confident that this bride must have been the long lost maternal side of the line of Durin.  More importantly, the bride appeared to be still unspoiled by the infernals. 

The decided to seek a path to the West to find the Bride's repose before returning back to their lines. 

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