Episode 2: The Weeping Meepo
As the hallway fell into back into silence, the intrepid party whispered to each other what door they should risk next, wary from their last encounter and Kormac still licking his wounds. After some deliberation the consensus is the innocuous looking door to the north. This time they cautiously open the unlocked door, preparing themselves for whatever enemy might lurch forth from the darkness behind. However they are only met with more silence and a ruined chamber that stands empty of all but a litter of rocky debris. The party breathes a sigh of relief, searching the room carefully to make sure nothing is missed, but find it is barren of anything of interest.
The attention is now drawn to the last remaining door to the west. The group listens at the door to try and discern if danger light beyond, they hear a faint sound but cannot distinguish what it is. Again they gird themselves as they prepare to open the door. When ready they throw open the door and several members charge in, but find no resistance to be had. As they look around they see crudely executed symbols and glyphs, scribed in bright green dye, decorate this large and irregularly shaped crumbling chamber. A large pit in the center shows evidence of a recent fire. A metallic cage in the middle of the southern wall contains a gaping hole and stands empty. A small wooden bench draped with green cloth is next to the cage, and several small objects rest on it. A bedroll lies near the wooden bench, and the sound of whimpering comes from inside it. Leylin is startled when he realizes that the room is not empty after all, and that the whimpering is coming from a Kobold across the room. Greg the first to have entered the room, comes up to the creature curled up and crying to himself.
“Excuse me creature, are you okay or in need of assistance?” Greg tentatively asked. The kobold looks up briefly, but then lowers his head and continues his sobbing. The rest of the party slowly enters the room as others come up and try to console the creature. After a bit of prodding, they finally get a response.
“The, the, the clan’s dragon…we lost. Those wretched goblins stole Calcryx, our dragon!” admitted the Kobold finally, covering his face in shame. The party instantly perked up at the mention of this lost dragon.
“Are you hungry, do you need any food?” asked Leylin, trying to cheer up the kobold offering him some rations from his bag. But Meepo doesn’t even look up. “Can we help you recover this dragon of yours?” Instantly the creature’s eyes light up, he looks at Leylin in disbelief.
“You will help Meepo? You help to get back Calcryx?” he asked hopefully, his desperation subsiding a bit.
“Where is this Calcryx, how can we help you find it?” Daar chimed in, bringing Meepo’s attention to the 2nd dragonborn of this group. Meepo wipes away his eyes and looks past and sees another dragonborn behind them, barely believing his eyes, as well as a strange red-skinned female who seems mysterious, but also appears dangerous to Meepo. He thinks that maybe this group is actually strong enough to help recover his charge, and begins to get excited.
“Meepo don’t know, but Yusdrayl does. Meepo take you to meet Yusdrayl, our leader, if you make nice. You get safe passage, if you promise to make nice. Maybe if you promise to rescue dragon, Yusdrayl make nice to you, answer questions.” Meepo hurries to his feet, now full of energy and eager to begin the rescue mission.
“Follow Meepo, he’ll take you to the Yusdrayl, she’ll answer any questions and you can help get back Calcryx!” As he led the group down the hall, he begins to call out “Ticklecorn! Ticklecorn!” In Draconic. The dragonborn who understand what he’s saying are perplexed however at what the purpose or meaning of it is. “Meepo calls out Ticklecorn to tell other kobolds that you are friendly, it is our secret password.” he proudly explains to the group.
As the group follows, they are led into the Hall of Dragons, and are soon glad that Meepo is calling out Ticklecorn as they see the Elite Kobold guards that line the hall. As they look around they notice the room is filled with a double row of relief-carved marble columns march the length of this long, large hall. The worn carvings depict entwining dragons. At the end of the Hall, there is a short throne that stands near the west wall, constructed of fallen bits of masonry stacked against an old altar. On the top of the altar sit a variety of small items. The portion of the altar that serves as the throne’s back features a carving of a rearing dragon. A metallic key is held firmly in the dragon’s open jaws.
Sitting on that throne is what appear to be the leader of this kobold clan. Meepo turns to the group and whispers “This is Yusdrayl, she in charge of all kobolds here. Yusdrayl very powerful but if you nice, she not kill you.” Meepo then turns to Yusdrayl and announces his new friends. Meepo kneels down on one knee as he addresses Yusdrayl.
“Meepo comes before your highness, and bring strong friends who say they help us get back Calcryx. Meepo think they be much help!” Yusdrayl regards Meepo sternly, who has failed in his post as Keeper of the Dragons, losing the clan’s valuable wyrmling dragon. She looks over the group that stands before her, she is intrigued by seeing 3 of her blood kin together like this, but notices the keen eye of the human ranger, but is mostly fascinated by the tiefling woman in the back, who keeps quiet but has the look of someone who has much power.
“Our clan is appreciative of your help, if what Meepo here says is true. We kobold are heir to dragons. As the mightiest among my people, I have led a brave few to this ancient holy site, where dragons were worshiped long ago. Unfortunately we now deal are besot by these dragon-thieving goblins that we fight with daily. Their latest act of atrocity was to attack and steal Calcryx, our wyrmling dragon. What brings you to this Citadel and why do you now offer your aid?” Yusdrayl intently watches the group, eying if they are truthful and can be trusted.
“We have come on a mission to find a lost party of adventurers that entered here but did not return” Dear explains. “Would you have seen them? They came here about a month ago”
“Ah yes, I do remember that group, they did not spend much time in our side of the Citadel, they went off to fight the goblins and never returned.” Yusdrayl recounts of the lost party.
“We seek to return this group to their homes, but we would also be glad to help return your dragon, especially if you have any reward or glory for it’s return.” Greg proudly boasts and hopes to see could be gained from their charitable deed.
“Ah yes, of course, we would most assuredly reward you for such a task, and your names will be remembered for ages amongst our clan.” Yusdrayl smiles coyly as she sees the fighter light up at the thought such flattering praise. “You can take Meepo with you, he will guide you through the back way to the Goblin encampment and help you return Calcryx to us.”
Meepo looks up at this, his eyes beaming at the chance for redemption and to retrieve Calcryx. “Yes, Meepo help you, Meepo take you the back way, no one use this way anymore.” The group looks at Meepo and are unsure of his ability to be of much help if a fight broke out.
“Do you need a weapon Meepo? Something sharp you can attack with?” Kormac says condescendingly to Meepo, not expecting much. Leylin begins to pull out one of his many weapons to hand to Meepo.
“Meepo can fight, I have this!” Meepo pulls out a pair of daggers, ready to fight some goblins to prove his worth.
“Well what about a ranged weapon, in case you are far away from the battle?” Kormac inquires further, chuckling a bit at the charm of this kobold.
“Meepo have this sling,” he puts away his dagger and takes out his sling, which he loads and swings over his head to show his proficiency, “Meepo can fight, don’t worry about Meepo! Come now, follow me, let us go get back Calcryx!” And with that Meepo leads the group away from the hall towards the back entrance. As they depart, the group bids farewell to Yusdrayl, who wishes them luck on their quest.
Meepo leads them down a dark narrow hallway past the room where they kept the wyrmling caged. The hall is dusty, the air stale, noticeably an area which is not often used by either the kobolds or goblins. Meepo leads them to the end and they proceed through the door, ready to take on the any goblins they might encounter on the other side. However once through the door, they find more empty rooms, that seem to have been lost to time. In the next room they see is filled with dust and odd bits of stony debris and rubble lie scattered on the floor. An ornate fountain is built into the eastern wall. Though cracked and stained, the fountain’s overarching carving of a diving dragon retains its beauty. A relief-carved stone door stands on the western wall.
The party investigates the fountain, but have trouble discerning it’s purpose or what to make of it, however they do feel that there may have once been something magical about it. What they do notice well is the western door, which is covered with carvings of skeletal dragons, and a draconic inscription which reads “Rebuke the dead, open the way”. Kormac senses that this door may have a magical lock spell on it, requiring some sort of spell to open, either a “knock” spell if lucky, but also possibly something that turns the undead. However the group decides not to investigate any closer, keeping their distance from the door and move forward.
This section of hallway contains six doors, all slightly ajar. The area smells musky. The party proceeds cautiously forward. At one of the doors that sits ajar, Greg decides it’s wise to close it in case anything might try and pop out. However when the door clangs shut, he hears loud scurrying as 3 giant rats emerge from 3 of the other cells. But these rats are no match for the group, as Leylin, Kormac, & Greg tear through the rats. As the last rat tries to take a bite out of Greg, Meepo fires a rock from his sling down the hall, hitting the rat square in the jaw, killing it before it can sink it’s teeth in. Meepo stands in the back proudly. Leylin and AzReal are quick to check the cells to see if there’s anything of interest, and quickly find that each of the rat’s nests contain shiny bits of currency and gems the rats had collected. Leylin offers some of the “Shinies” to Meepo, but Meepo declines, stating his concern is not money, but to recover Calcryx.
Beyond the cells the party discovers a room where the cobblestone floor contains two trapdoors blocked open by iron spikes. The north wall holds a dry fountain carved with an overarching diving dragon. A faint rotten stench pervades the room. They are able to carefully skirt around the open pits, which open to a 20 foot drop and contain only rat bones, rusted metal bits, and filth. They quickly look at the fountain in the room, which closely resembles the previous fountain, however they don’t spend much time investigating as they are distracted by the awful stench coming from the last door on the western side. AzReal holds her nose and breath and moves closer to the door, listening to the other side. She hears what could be a rustling, but it not exactly sure what’s there, but informs the group that there must be something in there.
Kormac decides this a good chance to use his portable ram again and hopefully redeem his last efforts. Daar looks at the pit that lies near the door and at Kormac ready to bash through it and decides to use his wings to fly behind Kormac and be ready to catch him should anything knock him back or surprise them on the other side. Once readied, Kormac again bashes the door open and is greeted by an oppressive smell that suffuses the air, rising from chewed carcasses of cave rats, smaller vermin, and a few humanoid-looking creatures. Inside the bodies lie upon a floor of filth, old bones, hair, and fur that combine to make a particularly large and vile nest. Also inside are 3 more giant rats, but this time they also have a mama rat, a monstrously swollen female diseased giant rat. Unbeknownst to the party, the Goblins call this rat Guthash, and she is the mother of all the rats that infest the Sunless Citadel.
Greg seizes the moment and charges into the room, first spying a giant rat near the doorway and and swings his great Morningstar, and obliterates the rat into the corner of the room, turning it into nothing but a pile of bloodied fur and guts. Kormac exhales a cone of acidic breath that shoots out at the other rats, unfortunately their fur, covered in so much filth and debris keeps them from being burned too badly. Daar takes the opportunity to rush in and chops down on Guthash with his longsword, cutting deeply into the rat, but it retaliates biting Daar, who feels the disease in the rat’s saliva try to infect him, however his paladin training and will help him to fight off the disease.
Leylin stands outside the door, drawing his longbow, pulls back, firing straight and true. His arrow skewers one of the giant rats, impaling it through as the arrow carries it and buries into the far wall, with the rat shiskabob intact. AzReal fires an Eldritch Blast into the room, aiming for Guthash, but in the fray narrowly misses as she tries to avoid her comrades. The Eldritch Blast instead connects with the rat Leylin skewered, causing it to explode as the blast hits it.
As Greg tries to move behind Guthash, it manages to bite at his leg, however Greg’s constitution is strong enough that the disease does not set in. He brings down his Morningstar on Guthash with such force the he causes the bloated rat to detonate into a spray of blood and gore across both Greg and Daar. Greg grins widely at the destruction. Kormac sees the last rat try to sneak up on Daar, so he pulls out his trident and leaps at the rat, crying out “For Tempus!” as he brings the trident down, however the cry gives the rat just enough time to evade his strike, but Daar also now alerted to the rat, takes the rat’s distraction and cries “For Ohen!” and swings his sword, slicing the rat in half.
The excitement of the battle and Kormac’s embarrassment at missing his target, along with the rival God’s glory causes a brief standoff as the 3 dragonborns glare at each other. However it quickly subsides as Leylin and AzReal enter the room to see what was kept here. After a brief bit of poking through the refuse they find many silver and gold pieces and other shinies. They also discover that the ranger of the lost party, Karakas, seems to have met his end in this room, as they discover his body amongst the remains. The party gathers anything useful they can. AzReal discovers also a gold ring on Karakas’ finger with his name engraved on it. She hands it to Daar who hopes that maybe he can return it to one of Karakas’ kin someday to honor his passing.
Nothing left remains of interest in this room, as the pile of bodies in the room now includes the last of the giant rats (the group hopes) of the Citadel. Having met this new challenge, and having gained a new comrade in Meepo, who no longer resembles the crying pitiful creature they first met, and is now a welcome ally helping them on their quest.