Saturday 26 February 2022

4 Yarthmont - Well owlbear darned!

 Broneslav had four options. He could return the way he had come, or he could leave via one of the three other doors. With nothing to choose between them, he opted for the door on the north-west side of the chapel. The corridor beyond led to a dead end with a door on one side or down a side corridor. Broneslav chose to follow the side corridor first.

It led to a room filled with a noxious, bubbling liquid. In the centre of the room, on a pedestal that stood just a foot above the liquid was a chest. Broneslav looked at the liquid, considered his options, which amounted to little more than trying to leap across the room and grab the chest. He did not rate his chances, and cursed the luck that found him without anything but a bare minimum of weapons and no equipment.

"Well, that's that then," he muttered to himself as he discarded the idea of doing that. With no other immediate options, he returned to the main corridor and the door at the end. It opened into a wine cellar. Rows of casks and barrels filled the room, while bottles and jugs were stored on tables. The floor was covered in wine and splinters of barrels. The reason for this was immediately obvious. A large bear-like creature with the head of a giant owl was guzzling the wine. It responded to Broneslav's incursion by roaring drunkenly at him and staggering towards the boy, obviously intent on adding some meat to its diet.

Broneslav whipped his mace up and clubbed at the creature's face. It batted the weapon away with little effort, but Broneslav's powerful thews redirected the mace towards the creature's body and smashed it hard enough that he could hear the crushed ribs breaking even through its thick hide. Using his shield, Broneslav blocked the monster's attempts to maul him and launched a new offensive. The owlbear knocked him back and he failed to hurt it at all. Fortunately, he was able to get his shield between him and the creature once more and it's attempts to eat him were thwarted although the claw marks on his shield told the tale of what could have happened to him instead. the ferocious back and forth continued. Both combatants were bloodied and the drunken owlbear showed no signs of giving up, but then Broneslav got his mace through its defences. Stepping into its grasp, he swung upwards, breaking the creature's beak and followed up with a hard blow to the side of the head. He stepped back quickly to avoid retaliation. He need not have feared. The blow was fatal and the creature collapsed almost immediately.

Breathing hard, Broneslav grabbed one of the bottles of wine from the store and opened it. He deserved a drink after dealing with this creature. Seconds later, he spat the wine out again. It was corked and tasted foul. No wonder the owlbear was in such a terrible mood.

Saturday 19 February 2022

4 Yarthmont - Foxed and confused

 Broneslav had no clue where he was or why he was surrounded by so many bodies, nor why his shield was glowing with a bright light. However, he was a practical soul and quickly decided that there was little reason to wonder, and no treasure to be had, so he need not worry too much about it. He was whole and the gamblers next door were obviously not interested in him. As there was no obvious way out of the room he was in, he passed through the gamblers, ignoring their cries to join in and opened the door to a room with nearly a dozen dark-robed people standing in a circle. The figures all wore masks of creatures from nightmare yet none seemed aware of his presence. He had no clue what to make of this. There was nothing to guide him, so he picked the right hand door at random and strode past the scary, still people.

Pausing briefly, he listened but all he could hear was the nightmarish murmuring and occasional screams of the people in the room with him. He pushed the door open and was greeted by the sight of people in bright costumes and colourful masks dancing in silence and many with no visible partner. Some stood to the side drinking while others chatted in the Cynidicean language that he had heard much of since getting lost in the desert. The people did not react at all to his bloodstained appearance or the naked blade in his hand. There was no exit from this room other than the door he had opened so he returned to the other door and opened it.

Stepping through the door, he had a sense of deja vu, although he was certain he had never been here before. His sharp eyes spotted an unevenness in the floor. He stalked forward carefully and hopped over the uneven lump. Past it, things looked more normal and the corridor floor was flat without that one lump. Perhaps it was a trap. Who knew but best to be careful anyway? This place was uncanny and he could easily find himself in trouble before he knew it.

He followed the corridor round to where a door in the wall stood ajar. It was clearly meant to be secret, but someone had left it open. Peering through, he saw a corridor with a door at the end. He committed the door's location to memory and followed the corridor he was in further to where it turned to the right and then ended in a door a short while later.

Pushing the door open, he found himself in a huge chapel with three statues at his end of it and rows of pews disappearing into the distance. Just in front of the dais on which the statues were standing, were two fountains, one on each side of the chapel.

Two red-headed strangers stood talking near the statues. They looked up as he entered. The light from his shield had given him away.

"Oho, a brave warrior," chuckles woman, "How delightful!"

She looked him up and down lasciviously chanted a few words, and he suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to do whatever she said, because she was clearly his best friend. This felt wrong just the same and he slammed his fists into the nearest statue. Something went pop in his head and the compulsion went away as his nose and knuckles began to bleed.

The woman cast Charm Person and Broneslav failed his saving roll so he opted to Defy Death (2 DAM) to avoid the effects.

He leapt towards the pair, recognising their duplicity. Horror dawned in their eyes as they realised he had overcome their spell. He crushed the woman's head and smashed the man hard to the ground. Blood dripped from the man's head. Even as he fell, the man's body started to twist and change. Suddenly, where the man had been there was a fox, also wounded in the head. It bounded away towards the far end of the room faster than Broneslav could follow.

The youth paused a moment to listen. Did these people or whatever they were have friends close by? He heard nothing but moved carefully towards the female. She was definitely dead. No doubt about that whatsoever. He moved pantherlike to the big corridor. The fox was not in sight.

Moving slowly up the corridor, Broneslav listened carefully but heard nothing. At the end of the corridor, he tried to use the corner as cover while he looked for the fox. The room he looked into was a large hall with vaulted roof and pillars. Huge double doors stood partially open at the far end, but completely blocked by sand. The fox could not have left that way. No other exits were visible, so it must be hiding behind one of the pillars.

Suddenly the fox appeared, as suspected, from behind the nearest pillat and sprinted towards Broneslav at full speed. It dodged around him, looking for a way out. Unfortunately, Broneslav was quick enough to make a wild smash as it passed and it collapsed to the ground, tumbling slightly because of its momentum. Even as Broneslav moved towards it, it breathed its last. When the last breath had left its body, it transformed back into the red-headed man.

He'd heard tales of werewolves who shifted between human and wolf form before, so these two must have been werefoxes. He'd never heard of that. When he got home, he reckoned this would be worth a kind word or two from his parents. And the jewellery they were carrying would earn him another kind word, he mused as he robbed the corpses of necklaces and other items that looked rather valuable.

Saturday 12 February 2022

4 Yarthmont - Feeling crushed

 With his cuts cleaned up, Demetrius threw open the door to the consultation room and strode up the corridor. At the junction he turned right, and then turned left at the next junction. Faced with a blank wall, he stepped on a slightly protruding flagstone in one corner of the corridor and pushed the wall ahead of him. It swung open to let him into another corridor. Right, then left and a longer walk before he turned right. The door to Darius' chambers lay ahead. Demetrius strode forwards and suddenly the walls crashed in towards him. He dodged but not quickly enough and cried out in pain (5 DAM).

The noise was huge and he felt sure that Darius must now be warned of his approach. Speed would be to his benefit now. If he were quick enough, he might reach Darius before he was fully prepared. Casting cure light wounds, he healed the damage the trap had done (Heal 6 HP), reflecting how Darius had beefed up the defences here since he had been alive.

Kicking the door in ahead of him, he was confronted with the strange sight of ten people in dark robes and masks representing nightmare creatures all standing in a circle, motionless and not reacting to Demetrius at all. Suddenly one of them screamed in terror. Demetrius jumped, but he recognised people in thrall to Zargon and knew they were harmless unless he attacked them. Darius' chambers were to his right, so he moved swiftly to the door on that side of the room and kicked that one open too.

This room too was full of people, this time all masked as animals and dressed in brightly coloured robes. They were all involved in card games and dice games. The atmosphere in the room was convivial apart from the fact that none of them acknowledged Demetrius' violent entry. Assessing the threat, Demetrius decided there was none unless he triggered it himself. He marched straight across the room to a section of the wall where he pushed a loose stone low down near the floor and the wall swung open. Here was Darius with his followers in the newly revealed room. They were armed and ready, but Demetrius was on the warpath and would brook no delays in his vengeance.

Deciding that he needed to neutralise Darius as fast as possible, Demetrius cast Hold Person at him. Darius froze.

That was close. Darius failed the save by 1 point. Lucky that Demetrius focused the spell on Darius so that he had a penalty to save. I was tempted to try to slow down more of the baddies, but chose not to.

Demetrius then swung his mace with savage and brutal intent, and slew two of the hobgoblins that were Darius' guard. That left four more hobgoblins and a dozen human guards. The remaining guards swarmed Demetrius, who retreated to the doorway to provide some measure of cover. With Darius neutralised, he had time to deal with them all safely. He blocked the attacks of those who could reaching him and counterattacked unsuccessfully. A brief exchange of blows left no one hurt, then Demetrius attaked with renewed vigour and three of the hobgoblins fell to his blows. The extra effort nearly cost him, but he just managed to block several blows and turn those blocks into attacks that cost a hobgoblin and a Cynidicean their lives.

With the hobgoblins dead, Demetrius faced lesser opponents. Three of the humans fell swiftly to his mace and he advanced into the room. In no time at all he stood panting amid the bodies of Darius' bodyguard. Only Darius remained, still paralysed by the spell.

Demetrius could see what was to come in Darius' eyes. The hatred and the fear were clearly present, even though he could not move a muscle. Demetrius swung his mace and crushed Darius' skull. The priest of Zargon fell to the floor.

Saturday 5 February 2022

4 Yarthmont - Snakes in a Pyramid

Demetrius pulled the door open to the room beyond. He now stood in his (long abandoned) kitchen and dining room. Dust covered the cupboards, chairs and tables. The door from this room stood partially ajar. Two snakes with brown and yellow scales lay coiled around the body of a person in a rabbit mask. Seeing Demetrius, they uncoiled and slithered towards him.

He called once more upon Usamigaras and words of power poured from his mouth, even as he leapt to the attack. The Snake Charm took effect and one of the snakes stopped, raised its body up and began to sway gently. As he loosed the power of his god upon the one snake, he swung his shield at the other, catching it a firm blow. The snake was stunned by the blow, and he followed up with a blow of the mace. The snake snapped at him but he was easily able to evade it. Demetrius finally crushed the snake's skull with his mace, and turn and kicked the other snake firmly in the head as it started to recover from his spell and followed it up with a blow of his shield. The snake was clearly woozy as it tried to bite him but he blocked the blow easily. However, dodging the blow put Demetrius off balance and he only caught it a glancing blow. He dodged the next attack by the snake and crushed its skull with his mace. He was clearly out of practice because these snakes should not have taken so much time to defeat.

Sadly, while possessed Broneslav will not be earning experience or these snakes would have been a very nice stash of XPs indeed.

Demetrius ignored the body and headed to the opposite door. His mission to kill Darius would not wait. He had an idea where Darius should be, so it was just a case of getting there as quickly as possible.

Through the door was Demetrius' living room. He propped the door he had entered by open with a chair from the dining room and headed straight through to the only exit from this room. This opened onto a corridor that ended in a door with his former consultation room beyond. The room was set up with a desk in the middle and a row of chairs facing the desk. The desk chair looked comfortable, the others, well, not so much.

"Oh," Demetrius thought, "Those statues are new. Who has been using my office?"

As he moved to leave the room, suddenly the statues moved. Both gargoyles attacked in a flurry of claws and rock hard teeth and both bit him hard (2 DAM). Demetrius responded by smashing one of them with his mace and shield. Black ichor started flowing from the cracks in its skin. He followed this up in similar fashion and the gargoyle crashed to the floor, it's head caved in. Demetrius then blocked and evaded the other gargoyle's attacks, turning its momentum against it and bludgeoning the creature fiercely. The gargoyle got past his defences and clawed him (1 DAM). However, it was wounded badly and struggling. Demetrius easily killed it. He paused to bandage his wounds before moving on.