Now it's time for session 3 of the Google+ Basic D&D game, bought to you by the fine pen of Nancy Petru. Of course, when I say 'pen' I mean 'keyboard'. That is, unless, she wrote it all by hand first and then typed it out. I have no idea.
'The Cup of the Crooked King' - Session 3
He takes a huge leap and lands right in front of us, blocking the cave mouth.
Liramorel tries to speak to him, but fails the charisma roll. Ridley succeeds in hers, and asks him if there’s anything we can pay him to allow us passage into the cave. The warrior’s eyes never waver. He brandishes the sword and says, “Pay the toll with your souls.” Another sword appears in his other hand--a black hilt with a black blade that looks like oily smoke. The wight rushes past Ridley, making for Liramorel. Ridley whacks him with her dagger as he bowls her over. A deep chill settles into her bones from where he touched her.
Alistina casts magic missiles on the hand holding the black blade, while Ballamin scores a lucky critical hit on the hand holding the jeweled sword. Nessa swiftly follows up Ballamin’s attack and slices the arm clean off, both the arm and the sword tumbling through the air. Rowan passes a quick dexterity roll and neatly catches the sword. Evadne and Velira both attack the wight, but fail to land a hit. Kezia casts a spell to heal the chill on Ridley and put her back on her feet.
The wight focuses on Rowan and attacks with the black blade. She fails the armor check, and the blade slides through her shoulder, not leaving a physical wound, but freezing flesh and bone and immobilizing the arm completely. Alistina and Ballamin leap forward to cover Rowan and attack the wight in tandem, and succeed in hacking off his other arm. When the black weapon hits the floor of the cave, it is just a black hilt--the blade has disappeared. Liramorel dodges the fire and ash spewing from the enraged wight’s mouth and attacks, while Ridley slams her blade through the back of his head, the point emerging between his eyes. Nessa focuses and cast her magic missiles. His head explodes! The remains fall to the cave floor, still twitching.
The arms we had hacked off in the fight are slowly inching across the floor towards the body. We realize that the wight could possibly reanimate if given enough time. Rowan comes forward with the jeweled sword, and drives into straight into his chest. The blade sinks through into the stone below. A quick tug confirms that the sword is stuck fast. The decision to burn the wight’s remains is unanimous. We get the tinder box from the poor terrified mule and set the torso alight. It arches in agony, and surely if it still had a mouth it would be screaming. The flames consume the bone-dry armor and desiccated flesh eagerly.
We turn away from the defeated wight and venture deeper into the cave. Visibility is low--even those of the party with nightvision have a 50% reduction. We shuffle along single file. The passage narrows almost suffocatingly before it opens out into a huge cavern where the dragon corpse rests, as if it decided to lay down and sleep there. The corpse is absolutely massive. It’s tail ends in an enormous serrated spike, and a crown of impressive horns tops the skull. The entire skeleton is covered in thick dust. Any hoard it may have gathered has long been looted. Kezia passes a wisdom check and spots that the dragon is missing 3 horns. Clearly, someone else has been here, and it’s likely it was the Crooked King, back during his days of conquest for the cup.
We realize that we have not confirmed that Wolfgang actually gave us the Cup. We take this opportunity to look inside the chest at the Cup before we go any further. Alistina and Evadne give the box and key to Kezia, who looks inside. The cup is no bigger than a shotglass and made of simple pewter. Seemingly innocuous. After some debate we take 3 more horns from it’s head, and an assortment of teeth, which we stow in Evadne’s knapsack. When we finally exit the cave, both the wight and the sword are gone. Only a great scorch mark remains. We edge around it, unwilling to touch it, and head back down the steps to the pass. While we were inside the cave, the weather has grown even worse than before.
After walking North for hours along the pass, we come upon the scant remains of the great northern wall, destroyed now by neglect rather than warfare, judging from the moss and creeper vines. We scramble over the remains and spy a village in the distance. It is raining buckets of cold, miserable rain on us, and we hurry as fast as we are able towards the warm lights.
We pass a huge dwarf statue and see various dwarves kissing it as they go by. It’s clearly a mining town, judging from the equipment and the state of the dwarves. Up ahead, barely visible through the sleet, is a tavern. We anxiously crowd inside after convincing our donkey into a barely-adequate lean-to just by the tavern. The building is made for dwarves--anyone in the party taller than a dwarf has to stoop (rather uncomfortably). We learn that the physical border with the Stone Coast is just an hour’s walk from this town.
Kezia goes to chat up the bartender, asking about passage to the Stone Coast. We learn that the physical border with the Stone Coast is just an hour’s walk from this town from the chatter around us. Kezia goes to chat up the bartender, asking about passage to the Stone Coast. He laughs, says no one wants to go there. She does a little digging and comes up with the name of our destination where the Cup is supposed to rest: The Cloud Mountains. Kezia asks if there is anything we should know about the Stone Coast and the Cloud Mtns before we visit them. He laughs again, says his dad went to the Cloud Mtns some years ago and promptly went mad. Many go to Cloud Mountain looking for riches or fabled artefacts, but no one EVER returns from the Cloud Mtns...Except for one person, years ago. The Crooked King took his entire army into the Cloud Mtns, and only he emerged. The bartender looks at all of us for a moment, then tells us that recently, one other person has survived the unknowable horrors of the Cloud Mtns as well--a warrior in an antlered helm, riding a great wolf. And as if surviving wasn’t enough--he brought someone back with him. There were a few people in his tavern several weeks ago asking about the Cup and the Cloud Mtns. Kezia tries to contain her excitement, and asks if he remembers any other details. Were they from the Stone Coast? He shakes his head. He doesn’t know.
Kezia presses on to the matter at hand, and says that we need passage to the Cloud Mtns, regardless of his opinions on the matter. He says there is a ferry, and a ferryman, and we will really not like either of them. We exchange glances at this, but say nothing. We thank him for his hospitality, restock supplies, and head back outside to grab the mule.
We leave the pass and angle West, towards the waterway. The further we go down the dirt path, the foggier it gets. When we actually reach the coast, the fog is dense and claustrophobic, but also strangely warm. It’s comforting and terrifying. There is a jetty that stretches out into the dark, inky blackness of the ocean, and right next to us squats a ramshackle building that can hardly be called a hut. Outside by the door is a prominent bell with a string. Alistina rings the bell.
A crashing sound is heard inside, before a thin man yanks the door open and glares at us through the crack, eyes and hair wild. His snarl is somewhat lessened by the fact that he has no teeth. “What do you want?”
Alistina tells him we want to take the ferry. He comes out of his hut, closes the door, eyeballs us critically, then turns away and says for us to follow him. We ask about payment, but he laughs us away, and beckons for us to follow. When we reach the end of the jetty, he says without a trace of humor that the toll for taking *this* particular ferry is our souls. When pressed, he says that he has been the ferryman for hundreds of years, and since no one ever survives the trip to AND from the Cloud Mtns, he takes their souls in payment, thus keeping him (relatively) young.
Uneasy now, we ask when the ferry leaves, and he laughs again. “Oh, no, I’m not the one taking you to the Cloud Mtns. The only way there is on the ghost ship, captained by the ghost sailor Montague.” We digest this news. Evadne asks him if anyone has taken the ferry recently and returned. The ferryman says Montague does not DO return journeys. However, the only man to have walked away from the Mtns are the Crooked King, who took 42 men with him on the ferry and emerged from the Mtns on the other side alone. A few weeks ago, the warrior astride the giant wolf took 420 men onto Montague’s ferry, and returned alone.
A viking longship materializes out of the gloom, gliding noiselessly through the black water. It is massive, with huge, billowy sails (even though there is no wind). Two long fan-like sails run along both sides of the ship, folded and lashed back. Hooded, hunched-over figures go about the deck, while a tall, hooded figure mans the tiller. Montague leaps from the ship onto the jetty and approaches the group of adventurers.
Evadne steps forward and makes eye contact with the ghost sailor. Only his eyes move--the rest of his face is strangely immobile.
“Where will you be dropping us off?” Evadne asks.
His reply is immediate. “At the mountains’ base.”
“And what sort of danger awaits us there?”
Montague pauses. “The bodies of the adventurers, the fortune seekers, the soldiers--all men who have sought the treasures of the Cloud Mtns are now part of it’s guard. A myriad of magical artefacts reside there. It is perilous beyond measure.”
The ferryman, watching this exchange, turns to the adventurers and asks “Will you take the ferry? This is a one-time offer, and it will not come again. This is the most direct route.”
Evadne glances around at the faces of her companions. All of them nod, though not without some trepidation.
“Yes, we will take the ferry,” she says to Montague.
He motions for the group to grab their things. We leap from the jetty onto the ship deck. The other sailors go about their business, ignoring us. Slowly the ship turns to port, angling back out into the fathomless black and pulling away from the jetty with surprising speed. We try unsuccessfully to get more information about what awaits us at Cloud Mtns, but Montague instead tells us to hang on. We heed him, gripping the railing and the mast. He pulls a lever near the tiller, and the folded fan-sails on either side swing out and open up like giant wings. The dead hands run about the deck, urgently hauling rope. Montague pulls the lever again, and we watch, awestruck, as the ship pulls up from the water, and begins to ascend upwards through the fog. The air quickly grows cold. Within minutes the ship has cleared the layer of fog, the landscape lost far below. The only thing above us are clouds, and below us, the murky wash of fog. The ship flies onward, bearing us to the Cloud Mtns.
TO BE CONTINUED...