Rudi's Notes 05-19-17
14th of Erastil, Year 2
Fractured once more, half the party leaves the cavern to attend to other matters.
The remaining members of the Viridian Guard hunker down within the tunnels of the Barrow when Faderan heard noises from within the south and north tunnel. He leans over to Rudi to squeak in his ear, his lip trembling, still shaken by his previous encounter with death.
“I know you said you were the alarmist, Master Tumblefar, but I believe something is approaching…!”
Rudi, feeling the fatigue creeping into his bones from the trap, struggles to his feet, bracing himself at the end of one tunnel while Faderean takes up a post on the other. The sound of shuffling feet, clattering bones, and bits of metal echo down the hallway towards them, when a skeleton appears out from the darkness. They clutch broken bits of weapons held high in their shuddering hands, swarming over Rudi and Faderean as Sear vanishes.
They lash out with crossbow and trident futilely, turning a pair to a pile of bones but they couldn’t beat back the tide. They jab and feint as they surround them, and Rudi quickly finds himself covered in nicks and cuts from their jagged blades.
“Come on!” He screamed, the head of his trident bursting into flames as he thrust it into the pelvic bone of one, unleashing a burst of electrical energy that blew its binding energy apart. “Come on you bastards!” He’s knocked back and forth between them, as he spins between targets, swinging the blunt haft of his weapon, jabbing with the tines and twisting it to break bones. Despite his best effort, he can feel the vigor from the initial rush of battle start to dwindle.
Across the room, Faderean dances up and down the hallway, pushing away to get a shot, just to have them shuffle after him seconds later. He ducks and dodges from their shattered weapons more effectively, but has a harder time taking them out without as much magic to aid him. Seeing Rudi in a sea of bones, only catching a glimpse of the occasional trident, he loops the crossbow around the neck of one of the skeletons and shoots past him into the back of one, merely chipping off bone fragments. The one in front of him has it’s head knocked free by the drawstring, but it is still animated by whatever unholy energies powered it.
Sear, invisible since the onset of the battle, flees the melee and flies up towards the ceiling of the room before revealing himself. Casting grease, he immediately takes some of the pressure off of the halfling, sending two of the skeletons clattering to the ground. They struggle to regain their feet, slipping on each other, as well as on the floor, before he turning his attention to rescuing his cousin. Magic missiles spring from his hands, their energy spiraling around in the air, dancing playfully, until crashing nto the target. Bone is pounded into dust and the tide starts to turn.
Faderean tries to help the beleaguered halfling once more, pulling a
pair of bolts free. He loads the first, then sticks the second in his mouth, before taking aim. He looses the first, and loads the second, just as the bone dust from the magic missiles impact flies into his eyes. He coughs, and wipes at them, and when next he looks he can see one skeleton crumpled on the floor, while the Rudi stares at him with a pained, betrayed look, a bolt protruding from his side. He feigns having to fight for control of the cross bow lamely, but the damage had been done.
In the aftermath of the battle, composing themselves, a dark wind began to pick up. The flapping of leathery wings from the bats in the adjacent room were carried to them from the adjacent room amidst the howl of wind as it cut through the barrow. Emerging from the middle of it was Sige.
“I heard you interested in renewing our contract. Is that correct?” The cleric said, jumping right into business.
There’s some haggling from Sear and Faderean, and ultimately they settle on the same terms that they had before: Two gold per day, and two gold per fight, with any other services beyond the scope of their contract requiring a separate negotiation.
Bored, Rudi heads down the hallway nearest him and begins investigating. He checks out the biers and the cave drawings, but quickly loses interest in the emptied resting places and the crude pictograms on the wall, portraying more ancient battles involving barbarians, hunting large animals, drawing bows, and felling stags. It’s a room carved from the stone, clearly not dwarven, and too big for halfling unless they followed the usual trends of the region. More likely was ancient man, made with some care though little craftsmanship with the cardinal directions in mind.
Meanwhile, with the contract settled, Faderean spots a brass ring on one of the skeletons, thick and long enough to cover the whole 1st knuckle. Curiosity overwhelming him, he attempts to disarm the trap in order to reach it. Instead, he activates it, and another cloud of black fog shoots from the mouths, filling the room. Sige and Faderean can feel their energy seep away, and slump into themselves from exhaustion.
Curiosity still gnawing at him, he tells the pair of them to leave, and just runs into the center of the room, snatches up the ring, and runs into the room on the heels of the others.
“Cayden’s balls, what in the 9 hells is going on in there?”
“The shorter human activated the trap, then told us to leave. I was just following orders, per our contract.”
“Desna, I think the skeletons have more personality than you…” Rudi muttered under his breath.
With nearly everyone exhausted from the trap and the battle, they set up their sleeping rolls in the recently vacated biers, and rest fitfully in the barrow. On watch, Rudi tries to pass the time by attempting to identify the ring before handing it off to Sear so he could do the same. He discovers it’s the same as his own, a Ring of Sustenance.
15th of Erastus, Year 2
They awake in the dank barrow, darkness enveloping them. Unsure of the time, they decide to press on despite Sear’s protests. They push forward through the last hallway, careful to skirt the still active trap. It’s a big chamber, adorned by arms and shields, ancient banners hanging limp in the cold humidity, armor rotting away on stands. A sarcophagus rests in the middle of the room. Everything bore the marks of repeated blows, like an angry drunk taking his impotent rage out on his home.
On the catafalque, an armored entity rests, clutching a massive hammer in bony hands. As they enter, it’s empty sockets flare into life, deep red eyes the color of blood and death. The creature lurches to its feet, his eyes leave streaks in the darkness that embraces it.
Rudi, looking back at his companions still full of trepidation, swallows his own fear and steps forward. “Come on you dusty old bastard!” he shouts, his shrill voice echoing around them.
“You desire combat, little one?” It’s voice grates, shambling forward. It carries on it the cold chill of death, raspy and ethereal, as the undead raises the warhammer. “Diieee…”
He takes a swing, slow and ponderous, Rudi dancing out of the way easily.
“C’mon, you old bag of bones!” He shouts, trying to draw it’s ire while inspiring and rallying his companions. “I’ve seen trees fight faster’n that!”
Faderean shoots his crossbow at the undead creature, and Sear tries to blind it, but both are unable to connect. Sige clasps Rudi’s shoulder for a moment, and the halfling can feel his body surge with more strength. Calling as much power to him as he can, the little magus leaps as his trident burst into flames, jabbing into the armor with practiced ease. He sends bolts of electricity coursing through his weapons tines, causing the creature to shudder, teeth chattering while dust and smoke rise rise from his armor. He reverses the trident then, and whacks him across the face with the haft.
As he regains his footing, he can hear the formless voice once more.
“You will die, little one…”
“Oh yeah? Why don’t you just crawl back-”
As he faces the skeletal warrior, the hammer grazes the top of his head. He feels little physical damage, but suddenly feels himself sapped of strength, his vitality waning, his practiced attacks feeling dull and stupid. He stares at the wight gormlessly as the experience from the past year of toil and strife wanes, while it steps behind the relative safety of the barrow’s wall.
Faderean and Sear can see the shadow as a part of Rudi is absorbed leaving Rudi slightly diminished. The rogue, finding his courage, steps forward to fire in defense of the halfling, but misses. But somehow Sear’s practiced use of glitterdust manages to catch the wight.
Seeing his friends press their assault, Rudi steps forward one more time to defend them.
“Is that the best you got? ‘Cause that ain’t gonna do it,” he says jabbing weakly, and once more feeling a piece of himself lost from it’s counterattack.
Fadrean watches as the wight leans forward to bring his hammer down on Rudi once more, and sees an opening: a slight shimmer, a piece of the wight’s essence revealed beneath the armor, and he takes aim. The bolt strikes true, and the creature gives an ephemeral howl that reverberates through the halls. The wight crumbled before them into a pile of short and stocky bones and an oversized skull. Resting on the pile was a symbol of Torag.
“We need to get help,” Sear said.
“I can bring you somewhere. Just tell me where.”
Rudi, gray and weak, leaned on his trident while Sear casts a quick detect magic and Faderean grabs ahold of the now-glowing hammer. They debate on where to go, but Rudi pushes to see Beldame instead of Jhod at the temple of Erastil.
Sear and Faderean quickly negotiate with Sige once more, and Faderean pays the 50 gold requested to carry them to the witch’s hut. He puts the halfling on his horse, the little man squirming in his grasp, while the rest take the wagon and follow Sige off the path. They’re skeptical, but the leaves give way to mist, swirling around them, with quick glimpses of the world as it blurs past.
When Sige stops, the sun had already begun its descent, and they find themselves standing outside of Beldame’s ramshackle gate, the scarecrow still looming, and the bell still dangling sadly from a post.
Faderean rings it, greets the older woman who invites him and Rudi in, but tells Sear to stay out. She asks if they were there with the alchemical reagents she had been asking for from the Mud Bowl, but they tell her no. When they tell her why, some quick haggling ensues, and they trade the whip they had gotten from the mad hermit with the lion for the care necessary to fix Rudi.
She sets Faderean to work stirring her cauldron while she gives Rudi a vile concoction to drink and has him lay down in a pile of hay. He instantly falls asleep, and she tucks him in gently. Faderean, however, takes this time to try and steal an expensive knick knack, a taxidermied rodent with gems for eyes and a gem held in it’s protruding teeth.
She chases him out with her new whip, one more slight levelled against her from the Viridian Guard.
When Rudi wakes, he can feel Beatrix’s claws on his head, hearing her giving soft caws as she shifts side to side. When he opens his eyes, he realizes she’s trying to keep the rodents that have nestled in around him from getting too close to his face.
“Ahhh, you’re awake. This one is yours, yes?”
“Beatrix? Yeah, I guess. She’s mostly her own, really. She just sort of… hangs about.”
“Well I like her, reminds me of the All Father, except he had two. Or perhaps, given the path you walk, she’s a harbinger of Nemyth Vaar…”
They get into a discussion about Gods then, and how Rudi has been unimpressed by their messengers recently.
“Perhaps they are merely unimpressive. Or perhaps, that is how you have always, and will always, perceive everyone else, smaller than even yourself…” She trails off, then changes the course of the conversation. “Just something to think about. I like you, Tumblefar. Those others you arrived with, not so much. You are welcome to return anytime, just perhaps bring the cavalier and the dwarf instead. I like them.”
As Rudi turns to leave, she stops him once more. “By the way. Tell that one you came in with he may keep that trinket as payment for the infinite toil of stirring pots awaiting him each and every night, and tell the sorcerer to stay off my lawn.”
Rudi leaves confused but feeling better than when he went in. They camp, and head out to continue their exploration.
15th of Erastil, Year 2
The next day as the small group of Viridian Guard members makes their way through the forest, they can hear the sound of unintelligible cursing. As they draw nearer, they find a wagon mired in the river with another two safely on the far bank, a host of gnomes attempting to pull it free.
The trio leap into action, Sear casting levitate on the wagon while Faderean and Rudi jump into the river to save the ponies. Rudi forces himself ahead despite the rushing waters, imagining a different pony from another time while Faderean turns back. He starts to unhitch the ponies, struggling against their nervous wickering. Sear levitates Faderean from the water as well, and between the pair they’re able to navigate the rogue closer to the animals. He calms the ponies, and Rudi is able to unhitch them, leading them from the water.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” A man said, rushing forward. “My name is Gnarlthorple, I’m the leader of this intrepid group of explorers.”
“Ah, yes! Very good, master Gnarlthorple. I believe you met someone in my employ, a kobold named-”
“Kobold?! In your employ?! Damned kobolds are the reason we we’re even in this mess!”
Faderean is caught flatfooted, and quickly tries to sort out what he means. The gnome described being attacked by kobolds that were “Red, white, all the colors,” but admits to not seeing weapons. They try to explain that within their kingdom, all are welcome as long as they cause no problems, and that included a small group in the north. Sear suggests the group enters their employ.
Gnarlthorple isn’t swayed, but grateful for the rescue he offers to trade information for information. He tells them about the ford across the Gurden River to the East, a wandering giant and the continuation of the Shrike in the south, and a wooded area in the west that contains some sort of canine creature called Hodags. Additionally, he tells them that the Barrow they came from was called The Lonely Barrow.
He also tells them that their main purpose for being out here was seeking a dwarven outpost. They’re hesitant to give this away, and ask if they had run into it on their travels. When they say no, they offer to sell the map that they have for 1,000 GP.
Sear tries to threaten them obliquely, while Rudi steps in to reassure him that that isn’t how small folk are treated in Dun Scaith. He tells them that they aim to map out more than this small chunk, and they’re welcome to join them. After the speech, for whatever reason, the gnome tells them that they believe the ruins location is to the west, though they still go their own way.
18th of Erastil, Year 2
Having parted ways with the gnomish cartographers, the three of them continue through the forest, exploring the region for another two days before deciding to seek passage to the far side of the river from the lizard folk they had befriended. While on the way, they join up with the others, and while making camp, are met with a pair of evil eyes staring at them from the trees…