Week Seven – War and Pieces

There’s an old saying that the 38th of Narlos, known as the Day of the Fey, is more alum than spice, which is to say that one should look forward to things going badly on this day due to the essential mischief of the world and unseen powers around us. It is to be an apt predictor, in that the party briefly delves into a corner of that realm of essential life and death and natural magic, the Green World, or Old Ben’s Palace.

Paladins like to say that evil is evil and that it is only limited by the heart in which it resides, but most people have a more tempered view. The merchant who lies, cheats and steals to maximize his profit and gives not to charity, must still benefit others through his trade as he benefits the wainwright and the teamster. A tyrant who seeks to enslave his people and murders those who resist is evil as well, but no good comes of it and he will shy from nothing. Old Ben, Ben’tinnor, the wicked and cut-throat black sheep of the Old Gods, though he loves none but himself, is bound to their fate. He would not destroy that which his siblings created for it is around the margins of their followers’ commerce that his trade takes place.

It is a subtle lesson, and one that not every Chosen can grasp, but an important one. It is the nature of evil that it cannot trust, and therefore cannot ally long, only subjugate and bend people to its will. That does not mean that it can’t recognize and nurture a similarity of purpose. These alliances of convenience are always short-lived, but they can embrace any party, no matter how diverse their beliefs.

On a stair leading south and up from the barrel room, Domi throws open a pair of iron doors. They groan a bit, but swing easily enough. The Dwarf tosses a handful of light coins into the room. It is a smallish room dominated by a large table covered by a map of Orandell and dotted with orderly rows of carved stone markers symbolizing foot and cavalry. The walls are adorned with maps of various scale and geography. Two massively muscled beast-men with shaggy brown fur, hooved feet and the face of an ape with great ram’s horns stand at the far corner, smiling.

In their heads they hear “Welcome to the war room. I hope you brought some war.”

The elf wizard, Zef, immediately casts his haste spell. Ban, sensing the present of evil, seeks to protect himself from it. Domi points his crystal gun and shoots one of the creatures twice, but to little effect. Grimnar move in on the same one, but its size and reach allow it to deal the barbarian a nasty blow. Grimnar hits it back, but his blow is muted by the creature’s this hide and coat. The Daemon ‘ports across the room and deals a knock-down blow to Beck. Luckily, Thane’s man Seles is nearby and erases a good bit of the injury. The second Daemon steps up and strikes Grimnar. Damit steps up to participate but his blows do not find their mark.

Zef manages to enfeeble the first of the powerful creatures. Ban calls upon the might of Ainna and smites the same twice, hurting it. Domi hits the first, and Grimnar the second. Damit gets pounded by the first and, when Beck attempts to stand, he gets hit again and slips into unconsciousness. Seles bring the blessings of Thane and spreads His healing as well. Grimnar, who is effectively battling the second Daemon alone, is hit hard twice again.

Zef casts a ward from evil on his self. Ban finds no luck smiting the first, and Domi circles around to flank the second. Grimnar hits with all his might, but still isn’t having much effect. The first Daemon attempt to hit the hobbit, but cannot land a blow on the small, quick Paladin. Beck, conscious again, beats a hasty retreat so that he might stand. The cleric sends Ainna’s healing magic through the party again and again, cancelling out the blows that the second is dealing to Grimnar.

Zef walks over to Grimnar and uses his wand to enchant the Dwarf’s cold iron great sword. Ban finds success and smites the first Daemon twice. Domi sneak-attacks the seoncd one, and Grimnar lands two sturdy blows to take it down. It vanishes. Beck regains its feet and damit manages to hit the remaining one from the ground.

Zef zaps the last one with a ray of lightning, killing it. The battle is finished.

After healing, Grimnar leads the party to a room lined with shelves and full of mushrooms, ranging in size from tiny to a few as big as a man. Not knowing what could lurk in such a place, the wizard opts for a quick fireball of simplification, which elicits a squeal of outrage from inside the room. Immediately, spores fill the air in the room and spill into the narrow doorway. Beck moves in and, seeing one of the man-sized mushrooms moving across the floor, punctures it with his rapier. A fresh batch of spores fill the air and one of the mushrooms slams Domi with its arm-like appendage, while another poisons Ban. Damit comes into the room and smashes one with his long sword and gets a snoot full of spoors in return. Seles voices a might prayer to Thane, which heartens his fellows. Grimnar squeezes into the crowded room and pounds a mushroom with his great sword.

Domi sneak attacks one, hurdign it badly. Beck hits one but Ban misses. Damit strikes a mortal blow and the first mushroom is dead. Grim follows up with the second kill. Zef jumps in the fray with a scorching ray and hurts one badly. Beck misses, while the mushroom nearest Damit charms him so that he won’t harm it. Ban attempt to attack it and Damit tackles the hobbit. Grim and Domi step past the two and finish the mushroom. Suddenly, the room is quiet save for the sound of sizzling mushroom flesh and hard breathing.

In the corner, a pile of treasure yields plenty of gold and gemstones, plus some potions, a pair of elven boots which goes to Domi, and a pendant of wisdom, which goes to Seles.

The party returns to Met’anra’s care to neutralize the poision that several of them are afflicted with from the spores. After healing, relaxation and sleep they rise again for another day of exploring. Not far from the pantry, they discover a sealed room that is very cold inside. There is nothing there except crumbling matter and some pristine gold hooks on chains, used presumably for hanging meat. They then stumble upon the kitchen, but it is anything but empty.

The kitchen is composed of two adjoining rooms, massive and rusting ovens occupying the south walls. The party is barely in when a number of deformed grasshoppers with misshapen heads spring from hiding behind the ovens. They are big as a large dog and armed with nasty teeth.

Two jump on Domi and bite for considerable damage. One does a glancing blow to Ban. Damit hits one twice, slaying it. Ban barely hits one, while Grimnar, Beck and Domi miss. Seles sends healing around to all. Zef uses his scorching ray on an unharmed bug.

There are too many for even the elusive mage to avoid, and he is bitten, as is Damit. Domi nearly goes down under the assault of another, but Ban intervenes and rescues him. Grim is badly bitten, but shrugs it off. Ban and Damit hit one, while Beck and Grim kill another. Seles sends up a helpful prayer to Thune, and Zef ray-zaps a grasshopper.

From behind, the party is assaulted by squat mushroom-shaped monsters who appear only briefly as they strike, but then fade from view. The battle is thrown into confusion and everyone seems to miss. The grasshoppers and invisible mushrooms don’t do much damage, but they consistently hit, wearing away at the party.

But the tide turns as it is wont to do. Damit, Grimnar, Domi and Zef each kill an enemy in rapid succession. Then Damit and Grimnar kill the remaining opponents and all becomes still.

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