Week Six – Dogs and Demons

It is 37 Narlos, Huntinday, and Lovers’ Day is just over a week away. You imagine the summer warmth is beginning to set in above ground, but it is still cold and dry here, deep below the surface. It’s been a week since any but Domi have seen even a glimpse of the sky. Three weeks ago, you first saw the dark lightning that inspired your journey to Arbordan. It seems like a lifetime ago.

You breakfast with the sphinx and your companions. Met’anra informs you that he does not require food to survive, but it is a great joy to him to partake in it, even as meager a fare as you have to offer. Before you venture out for the day, he blesses you once again with fire protection. It is well that you had it the day before in the forge.

There is no sign that anything has disturbed the forge or the survey room, though the barrel room still makes you uneasy and radiates evil.

AmuAn signals that you should take the east stairs from the survey room. It is a broad stair, about twenty feet, but only leads down about ten.

As you come down the stairs, you step into a long room that is 30 feet across with arched ceilings. To the right the room seems to round off at the extent of your light. To the left, it goes beyond what you can see. Down the middle and out of sight, a great stone table rests upon massive supports. Every few feet, a smoothed stone plug sits a few inches from the table, chairs for those who once dined here. Silver chandeliers and candle holders reflect your light above the table and on it, but it is a dull gleam because of the many cobwebs. Whatever happened in this place, it didn’t upset the table.

You scatter a handful of light coins to the north. Your light exposes a large, almost cat-like creature sitting on the table. The beast has a savage face with white eyes and cruel, blade-like teeth. From the back of his head and all along his body, thousands of long, bristling quills cover his hide. As the creature begins to howl, you see a handful of other behind it and even clinging to the walls. They join in the howling with toothy grins on their faces. The sound is terrible and unsettling.

One of the beast charges in and bites Domi, then another. The creatures’ quills stab at him and one sticks in his arm and hangs there. Zef casts his spell of hasting and suddenly everyone begins moving with incredible alacrity. Domi fight back and lands some blows while the others form ranks and the howlers move in to surround the party. Seles calls down Thane’s blessing, enabling Grimnar to smash one of the creatures with a stunning blow of his flail.

Zef quickly levitates himself to avoid the skirmish. Domi takes another bite and other quill lodges in him. Ban drops back a bit and fires his gun at another, hitting twice. Domi pounds his opponent with his morningstar, hard and fast. AmuAn comes in the on the right flank and is snapped at for her troubles, but the Xill is fast and her armor is strong. Grimnar laughs at the howlers around him, then smashes the heads of two of them so quickly that the second one has no change to react to the death of the first. From Seles, the healing powers of Thane wash out and restore everyone who is hurt.

With two down, the remaining howlers are in desperate straits, but they do not shy from the fight. Zef targets one circling behind its companions and scorches it with flames. Ban stabs with his sword but fails to do much damage while Domi manages to shoot one with his gun. Between Grimnar and AmuAn, the remaining, wounded howlers are quickly slain, though Domi manages to be bitten a final time.

Seles immediately begins to practice his healing skills on Domi. He removes the quills, but not without doing some damage of his own. Between his healing kit and his wand of curing, Seles manages to banish all of the wounds caused by the howlers.

AmuAn leads the party east down a long, narrow corridor. The narrow hallway leads east nearly a hundred feet before turning right, then left again after another forty. Ahead is a solid iron door with a heavy latch. There is a shallow alcove to the left, and here you find the first indication of the violence that befell the dwarves here. A small pyramid of Dwarven skulls decorates an old stone table in what appears to have been a guard post. The skulls are smeared with a dark brown substance to form letters in some mysterious language. Each of them bears signs of a violent death.

The Xill warns the party that the “bad place” is on the other side of the door. Grim, Ban, Domi and Seles ready their cold iron weapons and Zef casts an enchantment upon them. Seles joins in and soon everyone is well-covered with magical charms and protections.

The latch to the door is rusty and does not easily give, but Domi is up the task. A shower of red dust fall from the latch as it finally gives way. The massive door gives a deep groan as you push it inward. Before you is a huge room. The entrance is in the southwest corner, and it looks like it might be 200 feet wide and over a hundred deep. In the middle is a sunken area with two staircases leading down about ten feet. Two rows of massive columns line the east and west sides of the room.

Most interesting is the near-endless variety of weapons and armor lining the walls. Rack upon rack, peg upon peg hold swords, axes, maces, flails, crossbows, bows, and armor of every size and type. One could easily outfit a sizeable army here, and with what appears to be very high quality gear.

The reason you can see the entire room, in spite of its sheer size, is that a glow of light comes from the vaulted ceiling. It isn’t terribly bright, but it effectively lights the entire room. In the center of the depressed area, you see a great edifice of bone: a roughly pyramidal structure that is perhaps forty feet in height.

You quickly move into the vast room and then down the stairs into the pit and toward the edifice. You are nearly there when, from behind some of the columns, five halberd-wielding goat men charge, their white eyes glaring with hate.

One of the goat men arrives first and hits Grimnar with a solid blow. This one has some very well-made black leather armor. Ban tries to move within the reach of the halberd and is hit for the trouble. He stabs back with his cold iron longsword, but does little damage. Zef uses his longbow on the goat man to avoid getting to close and hits, but his steel arrowheads do little damage.

As the rest charge in, AmuAn, Zef and Grim get clobbered with the massive power of the charging goat men who hit like a ram, though using their weapons instead of their heads. Zef is hammered down and nearly killed, but manages to cling to life precariously.

Seles calls upon the aid of Thane and everyone’s morale is bolstered. Grimnar smashes the armored goat man with his cold iron great sword and Domi hits another with his cold iron short sword. Ban channels the power of Ainna into his cold iron long sword and hits the leader with another powerful blow. The divine power of the Goddess coruscates over his blackened fur.

AmuAn lands two perfect strikes with her cold iron scimitars an unarmored goat man, lopping off his head, which immediately vanishes along with his body. Zef attempts to blast another with lightning, but the demon laughs and taunts him in an unfamiliar language. He charges the Elvin wizard, but had to run between Grimnar and AmuAn to get there. This proves to be a bad move as the two strike him down.

One of the remaining goat men stabs Grimnar with a nasty shot from his halberd, and another hits him twice more. The Dwarf is in really bad shape, but Seles steps in and bolsters his health . Grimnar grits his teeth and hits the armored one again, killing him. His body puffs away but the armor remains where he fell.

Rather than trust to fate, Domi cuts the throat of the unconscious goat man, and the creature vanishes. Ban flanks around one of the remaining opponents and stabs twice, just before Zef enlarges him to twice his size.  Grim continues to get hammered, and goes past the point where another man would fall before being struck again and going down, nearly dead. Ban defends the fallen Dwarf, and the goat man is unable to hit the hobbit.

Seles sends waves of healing over the party, bringing Grimnar back to consciousness. Domi an AmuAn team up against one of the two remaining and take him out. Ban hits the last one and it hits him. Zef tries to case a spell on the goat man, but it doesn’t work. Seles continues healing Grimnar, who stands and backs away from the enemy. Ban steps in and smites down the evil creature, and the last one vanishes back to the plane from whence he came.

On the far wall are a pair of midnight-black scimitars. They radiate faint evocation magic. Amu’an takes them down, carefully replaces them with the scimitars she carries, and then turns to speak: “Dese not gooder here. Jus gooder when I go for home place. Amu’an not stole from you, kay?” She points to the iron door heading east, opposite the one you entered. “De bad-bad one dere. You not go instead killing all de stuff firs? Not an dey alls help de guy.”

Amu’an bows deeply to each of you in turn. “You ares good. I am cares upon you. I am come eats you gain? Bye bye!” With that, she slowly fades from sight.

Seles goes about using his skill and divine magic to heal everyone. There can be no doubt that Thane’s power saved more than one life this day.

Grimnar and Domi set to work wrecking the bone pyramid. It takes hours, but they are determined. Meanwhile, everyone goes through the vast array of arms and armor on the walls of the room and the pit, and outfit themselves with the very best they can find. Zef takes a close look at the armor and pronounces it a legendary suit of Elvin armor called “Shadowdancer’s Veil”. Domi gladly dons it.

Finally, tired after hours of fighting and working, you return to the Sphinx’s lair to tell Met’anra about your adventures and rest for the following day.

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