Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Session 3: Malash Triumphant

Fearing that a great trove of treasure remained yet undiscovered, the party elected to defer their obligation to the sinister mage-priest, Frasck, and complete their exploration of the dungeon beneath Gogledd Keep.  Making their way carefully through the ruins, the party descended to the keep's crypt and thoroughly searched all of the burial niches, keeping a wary eye out for the pallid humanoid creatures they saw scuttling about during their initial reconnoiter a few days earlier.  In one of the niches was a narrow tunnel extending into the dark. 

Jin, the elven mage, cast light upon an arrow and fired it down the tunnel to see how far it extended.  The arrow eventually struck a rough stone wall illuminating a chamber far down the tunnel.  As the group was discussing their course of action the light from the arrow was suddenly and inexplicably extinguished.  Electing to investigate, the dwarf warrior, Bvar, crawled through the tunnel with shield and spear extended to protect against attack but arrived, unmolested, at the mouth of the cavern.  As he was crawling out of the tunnel and into the chamber he was grabbed from both sides by the grasping hands of emaciated pale creatures whose uncanny strength belied their frail appearance.  His arms were pinned and hooked, serrated knife was placed at his throat.  The creatures warned the party to come no farther, to leave their abode in peace lest their comrade's lifeblood be spilled.  The party agreed and retreated back to the crypts.  Bvar was released and allowed to leave unharmed.

During subsequent exploration of the dungeon a false door was opened resulted the sound of heavy, metal contraption clanging shut in the distance.  The party was subsequently attacked by a band of six Phooka, bestial goat-headed humanoids that dwell in the wild places of Faedun.  Despite their unbridled ferocity, the repugnant creatures were quickly cut down with little harm to the party thanks to Theon's appeal to the divine might of Lir for protection.

Pressing on, the party eventually discovered the source of the distant clangor - a heavy portcullis at the top of the stairs ascending to the upper dungeon level, which proved too heavy for even Bvar to lift.  Carefully studying the walls of the room beyond they discovered a lever, well out of reach.  Jin, however had just learned the spell unseen servant, which had been taught to him by Frasck in exchange for a cloak of elvenkind, and he was able to make good use of his new spell to pull the lever and raise the portcullis.

Returning below, they soon were set upon by a small band of orc mercenaries who were slain before they  had a chance to raise alarm.  The orcs were well-funded and each had a purse heavy with gold.

The party elected, at this point to rest and recuperate before pressing on as both Jin and Theon had nearly exhausted their magical stores.  Pressing on after their rest, the group, opening a door in a hallway, were surprised to find a black-garbed human soldier, wearing a cloak with the blazing eye of Balor embroidered on it.  The guard was just as surprised to seem them and after a moment of stunned silence bellowed behind him to 'ware intruders.

This guard and his fellow further down the sconce-lit hallway were quickly dispatched, but the group had little time to plan a course of action before a half-dozen more guards arrived, roused by the first guard's shout.  This proved to be no quick and easy battle, as the reinforcements were armed with crossbows and they fought a well-coordinated, retreating slowly back the way they came, drawing the intruders deeper toward their headquarters.  Even the warding of Lir was insufficient against such disciplined foes, and Though the group finally defeated the soldiers, Theon was felled by a crossbow bolt.  Before aid could be rendered to Theon, another half-dozen black-garbed soldiers arrived led by a warrior in black plate-mail.  Things looked grim, as the party was reduced to Bvar, Jin, and Jin's spear-maiden Caitlin.  The black-armoured officer called for the party to lay down their arms and surrender in the name of Malash the Magnificent.

While Bvar and Jin dithered and debated, the officer ran out of patience and ordered his men to take the intruders.  Resigned, Bvar advanced and planted himself in the middle of the corridor, axe ready, determined not to sell his life cheaply.  Nonetheless, he fell quickly to the overwhelming odds against him.  As Bvar fell, Jin turned and fled with Caitlin following close behind him.  The officer shouted not to let them escape and, with pursuit hot on their heels, Jin and Caitlin bolted for the portcullis-trapped stairs leading to the upper level.  Once there Jin pulled the lever, dropping the portcullis and cutting off the soldiers just as they were mounting the stairs.  Momentarily safe from pursuit, Jin and Caitlin fled Gogledd Keep and returned to the safety of the Flaming Faggot.

A short time later, Theon and Bvar awoke to find themselves in an opulently furnished chamber confronted by an imposing man in blood-red armour who radiated an aura of power and menace; Malash the Magnificent, no doubt.  The man poured fine wine from a crystal decanter into a intricately engraved silver goblet, and sipped it while studying his bound captives.

"Well," he said, finally, "you two are in a great deal of trouble."

To be continued...

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