Now it's time for another Google+ Basic D&D game report, bought to you by Nancy Petru - wordsmith - and sponsored by some company with lots of cash doing something they obviously think is worthwhile and they really want you to buy it. I forget who.
'The Cup of the Crooked King' - Session 2
Ballamin and Ridley were discovered in their hiding places by the hobgoblins - Ballamin hightails it back to the party waiting for news on the road. Ridley, in a flash of inspiration and a rather large dash of luck, chucks her flask of oil over the bonfire and towards the cart, oil spraying everywhere. Some of it catches fire and gets carried over the cart, setting it ablaze. Ridley pelts back to the party.
The hobgoblins close in for the attack!
Alistina kills hers with a mace, while Ballamin fights a bit longer with his before stomping on the hobgoblin’s head and cracking it like a coconut. Ridley fights her hobgoblin with her dagger, and it’s a near thing before she kicks him away. He stumbled backwards, trips, and impales himself on a wicked-looking tree branch. Valira eventually stabbed her hobgoblin up through the chin, straight into the roof of his mouth, his shorn tongue falling out onto the ground. Evadne hacked a few times at her hobgoblin before hewing his arm away, and Kezia eventually slashes her hobgoblin to shreds.
The party loots the bodies, trading up where possible. There is a gorgeous masterwork axe that Alistina decides to keep for the time being. The party gets to the clearing where the hobgoblins were sheltering. A horrible, hoarse voice is emanating from the crate, pleading for us to release it. If we release it, the voice promises, it will grant us a boon. We begin to argue fiercely about whether to open the crate and release whatever is inside. After some very strong opinions, we agree to open the crate, as we are running out of time as the flames further consume the wood. Ballamin opens the latch on the crate, and the entire thing explodes outward as a giant spider the size of an elephant comes tearing past, several of her half-grown spawn clinging to her burnt sides. She is clearly hurt.
Kezia attempts to heal the giant spider matriarch, but she hisses, clearly distrustful of magic, and Kezia stops. She stops one of her kin from attacking us, and vomits an object onto the ground, which Ballamin picks up. It is a horn that will summon her brethren to our aid just once. She tells the party, glaring balefully at us through her cluster of eyes, that if she ever comes across any of us again, she will kill us straight away. She lurches away from the bonfire, her kin riding and scuttling in her wake. Then we are alone in the clearing.
We turn to leave. As if a chill wind has suddenly blown across our graves, we all feel compelled to look up at the peaks of the mountains, and there, on a faraway (but not too faraway) hilltop stands a foreboding figure who seems to emanate malice from his very form. A cloaked figure atop a truly gigantic wolf, his helm topped by a large rack of antlers, a massive lance clenched in his mailed fist. He holds us in fear for only a moment before descending down the hilltop, out of sight.
We hurry away from the clearing, wondering if this is the man (if man he is) the hobgoblins were waiting to deliver the spider matriarch to.
We come to a palisade across the road, blocking the pass, and send Alistina and Kezia, our only dwarves, to parley. A dwarf up on the wall asks them gruffly what their business is, and when they aren’t immediately forthcoming, he is quite rude until another dwarf appears on the wall and castigates Borik, the rude dwarf. This new dwarf looks quite regal and ushers us into camp, after inquiring about our full party. Everyone who succeeds for a charisma role is given just a cursory glance, but all who fail are looked at suspiciously. (Which isn’t all that bad, as dwarves are a naturally suspicious race).
We walk into a cleared space with tents, lean-tos, and some small caves with plush tents. Looks like a working encampment. The Boss dwarf tells us they are starting a huge project to block up the pass - the ONLY pass through the mountains. He says we can pass through - never let it be said that the Blue John dwarves aren’t hospitable! He offers us food and rest before we make our way through the pass, but warns us that the pass is no longer safe. Things that have not been seen for an age are appearing from the caves and depths of the mountains, and we travel the pass at our own risk. We thank him for his kindness, (Borik the rude dwarf snorts derisively), and bed down for a well-earned rest.
THE NEXT DAY the party wakes up to a howling storm. It’s freezing and thundering down fat drops of rain. Kezia goes to talk to the Boss dwarf, but Borik is the only dwarf available to answer any of her questions. She asks if there are any caves along the pass through the mountains (remember we are looking for that dragon skeleton in one of them) - she succeeds a charisma roll - and Borik tells her that there’s a cave on the left about midway down the pass, high up on the cliff, and it’s absolutely massive, which is good, because it has an equally massive dragon skeleton inside. Not believing her luck, Kezia presses him and asks what else we might encounter while trying to get to that cave.
Borik eyes her for a moment before flatly warning her that a body is laying in the middle of the road, right in front of the dwarf-hewn stairs that lead to the dragon cave, and anyone who has gone near the body has disappeared, never to be seen again.
Kezia comes back with this information and shares it with the party. We all exchange grim looks but decide to carry on. What choice do we have? You can’t just nip down to the local trader and pick up some powdered dragon bone. We begin down the pass, and it is hard going. It is still raining, almost sleeting, and we hunch over miserably in our cloaks (given to us by the kind dwarves), and doggedly put one foot in front of the other and travel without speaking. Morale is somewhat low at this point.
We see the body before we see the stairs and the cave. It is as Borik said - right in the middle of the road, face down. It is wearing a suit of armor that is long out of fashion, wrought during the days of old. A beautiful bejeweled sword is sticking out if it’s back at a angle, looking as keen and sharp as if it had just been forged that very day. Another round of fierce arguing ensues as we debate pulling the sword from the body. Borik had said the body was found weeks ago, and no one has touched it or moved it, and yet the sword remains pristine despite the harsh elements of the pass. Clearly, it is magical, and likely worth a fortune. Kezia posits that the sword is indeed magical, and is keeping the body dead. Removing the sword may reanimate the warrior. We all agree that the sword looks too good to be true - surely it’s a trap!
The party edges around the body, deciding to deal with it once we’ve secured the dragon bones, and ascends the stairs to the cave mouth. It is darker than night in the interior of the cave. It is not merely dark, but the utter absence of light. Morale dips a bit further. We start to light a lantern, but a monstrous gust of wind issuing from the mouth of the cave blows it out. The wind travels out into the pass. One of us passes a wisdom check and points out to the others that the rain has ceased, but we can can still hear it, but now it’s far away. The silence is deafening.
We turn around, almost knowing what we’ll find. At the bottom of the stairs the corpse has arisen, skin dessicated and stretched over the bones like a tightly-fitted drumhead. The jeweled sword is clenched in one skeletal hand, a baleful red light burning in its eye sockets.
TO BE CONTINUED...