Episode 3: Shiver Me Timbers!
Stepping out from the disgusting nest of Guthash and her spawn, the party wipes off the filth and gore, trying to leave the stench of the room behind them. Kormac is extremely upset at his failure to strike down the rats in honor of Tempus and decides to take a vow of silence until he is able to make things right. The rest of the group decides they should take a short rest in order to catch their breath and be ready for the whatever they might next come up against.
The mighty fighter Greg decides to take his rest inside the dry fountain with the dragon sculpture. As he spends his time recovering and bandaging some minor wounds, he notices a mostly worn-away inscription in Draconic on the front of the basin. It reads, “Let there be death.”
“Um…Daar…Can you come take a look at this?” Greg calls over Daar to the fountain to show him the discovery. Daar comes over and they inspect the inscription together.
“Hmm..this seems rather ominous. I have a feeling this may be some sort of magical fountain.” Daar presumes. “Should we try saying it and see what happens?”
“I think that’s a great idea, what’s the worst that can happen?” Greg grins excitedly. “But best just in case that everyone stands back” . The rest of the party needs no further warning and moves away from the fountain. Meepo decides to take cover in one of the empty cells that was once a rat’s nest. Greg takes a couple steps and stands in front of the fountain, AzReal stands the closest behind him, carefully eyeing the fountain.
“LET THERE BE DEATH!” Gregorious bodly roars in Draconic at the fountain, spreading his arms, as if he was challenging the God of Death himself.
The fountain suddenly begins to emit a faint aura, which glows for a moment before suddenly a poison mist spray shoots from the carved dragon’s mouth, engulfing Greg and nearly reaching AzReal. He immediately bends over in pain and begins to cough and spit up a bit of blood. Fortunately the trap must have been very old, and the poison mist is not as strong as it once was. After a bit Greg is able to get back to his feet, but still feels his body fighting off the poison for the next few minutes. The group checks him to see if he’ll be okay, and he assures them it’s nothing he can’t handle.
Leylin, who watched this happen from further back, observing the fountain and it’s magical properties, has a nagging thought in his head that there’s more to this. As Greg gathers back with the group to head onward, Leylin turns and sees at the other end of the hall the other fountain they passed earlier. The lightbulb goes off in his head.
“Hey, I wonder if the other fountain also has some sort of magical properties. Hey everyone, let’s check out the 1st fountain we passed, I bet it’s a magic one too!” Leylin dashes down the hall towards it. The group worryingly follows him, dreading another trap lying in wait. Leylin gets to the fountain and calls over Greg, who shuffles his way over to the fountain. “Where did you see that last inscription, do you see it here?” Greg tries to look in the same spot, but his eyes are still filled with tears, half closed, and a bit blurry due to the poison. Daar comes over and is able to see in the same spot, there is another Draconic inscription, just barely legible, that says “Let there be fire.” Daar looks up at Leylin and says “There is another saying here, and this one says ‘Let there be fire” in Draconic, just like the other one.” Greg, hears this, and wanting to take on the challenge of this fountain, announces that he’ll say do the deed again.
At this, everyone is much more quick to find a good distance and hiding spot, expecting some sort of fire trap to be sprung. Daar & Meepo gather just inside the next room behind the door, peeking it open a bit to watch Greg. Greg gathers himself, and stands before the fountain. He casts a mistrustful look at the carved diving dragon carved above the fountain, and decides caution is the better part of valor, and walks into the neighboring room with Daar & Meepo, figuring he will say the words from here and hope it activates still. Greg gives the sign he is ready to the group, then from the doorway Greg yells in Draconic, “LET THERE BE FIRE!” and he quickly slams the door shut.
The rest of the party farther into the hallway is able to see that this fountain again begins to emit a faint aura, and right when they expect some sort of flame to emerge and scorch the room, instead a glowing liquid pours from the dragon’s mouth, pooling in the bottom of the fountain. After it pours out what must have been the last of the liquid, Leylin calls the all clear, and they all come out to inspect it. They are unsure at first what the liquid is, but AzReal, the tiefling, recognizes the liquid as a Potion of Fire Breath, something she’s come across before. There is enough liquid for the group to each fill a wineskin or bottle with some of the liquid, as they each proceed to do.
Greg, now feeling much better and emboldened by the reward the fountain gave, decides to take a closer look at the western door in the room with Skeletal Dragons carved onto it. He remembers that Kormac discovered this door was locked by some sort of “Knock” spell or an “Turn The Undead” spell. Greg thinks to himself, I wonder if maybe he misread it and all you needed to do is knock. Greg walks towards the door, feeling the air get cooler and the door itself was noticeably cooler than everything else. Greg then reaches out and knocks on the door. There is only silence, so he checks the door handle, as soon as he hears it, there is a latch sound clicking above him, as a scythe blade shoots down from the ceiling, Greg in pure instinctual reaction is able to dodge out of the way at the last moment, nearly falling to the floor to avoid it. The rest of the group, who’d been looking around the room and not really noticing Greg until he knocked on the door, turn to see just as the blade came down. They are shocked at the trap, but instantly relieved as they see Greg dodge it unharmed. “Guess that’s not gonna work.” Greg says sheepishly to the group as gets back to his feet.
“Meepo think the way to Calcryx is this way, no more with scary doors and traps.” Meepo calls out from the hallway behind the group, pointing towards a door in an alcove.
“My god, I’d completely forgotten about that door!” Leylin exclaims, scratching his head how they’d missed it earlier. “Good catch Meepo!” Meepo beams with pride as the group moves through the door into the next room. It is empty, but Meepo explains “This last door Meepo knows, past here, other kobolds say is goblins area.”
The group looks cautiously at each other, discussing how they should proceed. AzReal takes the lead and decides to slowly open the door and try to peek inside. As she opens the door, she notices a bell attached to the door meant to sound an alarm. AzReal grabs the bell to stop it from ringing and pushes the door open the rest of the way. Her darkvision allowed her to see that the hallway was covered in caltrops, making movement difficult and painful if they walked over it. AzReal warned the group of the situation, but as Greg came to the door to take a look, his torch light shone down the hall, causing a rustling sound from the other side behind a low wall. Greg, needing no more reason to rush in, pushes past AzReal and charges in.
As Greg charges in he takes damage from some of the caltrops, slowing his charge, as he gets distracted by the caltrops, a goblin sticks his head up from over the wall and fires an arrow at Greg. However the goblin was not expecting Leylin, who stood outside the hall doorway, having his bow aimed into the room. Leylin fired straight and true, into the room, past Greg, and directly into the goblin who popped up, taking him down. Meepo is next to fire into the room across the hall, using his sling to hit the other goblin. Greg angered at being shot at, runs up to the wall to the standing Goblin and caving his skull in with one fell blow. Azreal swiftly moves up to the wall, and uses an Eldritch Blast at the goblin Leylin felled, to finish him off with extreme prejudice. The party gathers up a bunch of the caltrops in case they need them later before moving on from this room.
As they crept around the hall, around a corner they see dozens of blunted and broken arrows lie on the cracked cobblestone floor, and a few protrude from three crudely sewn, human-sized targets hung along the center of the south wall. Greg decides of course that a battle is best if confronted face first, but being a bit wiser after this last ambush, turns to the group.
“Don’t worry guys, I’ve got a health potion!” Greg whispers to the rest of group, giving a toothy grin and giving them a thumbs-up before he turns and charges around the corner, only to find 3 goblins behind a short wall to the north side of the room waiting for him, and Greg takes another arrow shot for his bravado. Daar follows behind Greg, charging at the wall with his long sword to take out one of the goblins. As he ran at the wall, he jumps to deliver an epic downward strike, but mistimes his jump, and comes down a bit earlier than he expected, and runs into the wall, causing him to double over at the waist. However his arms still held on to his sword, which came down onto the goblin nonetheless, slicing him open.
One of the other goblins maintains his cool and fires another shot at Greg, connecting again, this time taking down the great dragonborn fighter. As Greg falls to the floor, AzReal, Daar, & Leylin are enraged by the goblins taking down Greg, and continue to dispatch the other 2 goblins, with Leylin skewering one with an arrow, and Daar lopping off the head of the other. After they finish them off, they quickly pour a health potion into Greg’s mouth, causing him to regain health and come to. Thanking the group, they look around & discover a prison key on one of the goblin guards. Leylin looks around and finds the locked door it goes to. They open the room and inside they discover a prison room. Squalor reigns in this low-ceilinged room. A large iron spike is driven into the floor near the door, and a small iron cage is set farther back. Several sets of corroded manacles are connected to the walls, and some still bind a few crumbling skeletons. There are a few kobolds manacled to the iron spike. The group sets them free, but they are unable to give much information and once given the chance they run off and back to the way the group came to get back to their colony as quickly as possible.
They then hear a funny voice coming from a battered gnome that lies in the cage, which is almost too small for him. He asks for a bit of help to get out of the cage, to which the group obliges, ripping the cage apart. The gnome crawls out from the cage, cracking his back and stretching a bit. He then outstretches his hand to shake hands as he introduces himself.
“Well, I’m rightly glad you all came along, I’ve been stuck in that cage for nearly a month now and if I’d stayed there much longer I think I’d be even shorter than I already am! The name is Erky Timbers, at your service in gratitude.” Erky takes a little bow. “My, what great big warriors the lot of ya are, I’m sure you had no problem dealing with the goblins outside, in fact I took a good chuckle at hearing their screams for help we heard from in here. The skittish kobolds you let go were sure it was their brothers coming to save them.”
The group asks Erky what brought him here and how he ended up in the cage, “Months past, I was on my way to seek my fortune and took the Old Road. My bad luck that the goblin bandits caught me; I’ve been here ever since. My deity’s blessings have kept me healthy; otherwise I’m sure I’d be dead from starvation and abuse.” Erky explained. At the mention of a deity, Daar’s ears perked up.
“What deity do you serve? For the only true god is Ohen” Daar questioned. From the back of the room an annoyed chuff comes from Kormac. Erky looks past the group and see another dragonborn in the back, and thinks he’s glad that this group doesn’t seem to have ill will for him, but he decides not to test that with the question at hand.
“Ay lad, there are many Gods people serve, and maybe Ohen is the true one. I’m just glad that the one who answers my prayers has helped keep me safe and use my powers to help heal others.” Daar is a bit uncertain with the gnome’s answer, but decides to let it go for now. The group questioned Erky a bit more, learning that the lost adventuring party, with the 2 Hucrele siblings were captured by the Goblins, and held in this prison briefly. However Erky explained that they were quickly taken away and he hadn’t seen them since. Mr. Timbers also explained a bit about the magical tree that is at the heart of the city in the grove below this dungeon.
“I’ve heard the goblins talk about the Twilight Grove down below. A wicked old human called Belak—a spellcaster, I suspect—tends an enchanted garden and harvests fruit from something the goblins call the Gulthias Tree, but they speak of it only in the most terrified of whispers. The enchanted fruit grows on the Gulthias Tree. The midsummer fruit restores spirit and vigor to those who eat it; the pale midwinter fruit steals the same. Belak allows the goblins to sell the fruit on the surface, but I don’t know why.” Erky relates to the party this information he’s overheard from his until just a bit ago captors. The group looks at each other, letting it all sink in. “If you brave young lads are going further into the Citadel to find your missing friends, I’d be mighty glad to join you if ye’d have me. I have a few healing spells to lend ya and can be of some help. I even have a Turn the Undead power to help ye if you run into any dead that refuse to stay dead.”
Leylin hears this and remembers back to the magical door they’d passed earlier, which seemed to require a spell that affected the undead. “We’d be glad to have you E.T. if you’re willing to help out and come along.” Leylin gave E.T. a pat on the back, welcoming him to the party. Meepo seems a bit putout by all the love being shared with this silly gnome, and tries to get back the group’s attention and get them back to helping him retreive Calcryx. The group obliges and Daar leads the way back out of the prison.
Daar comes to the next door and takes a peek inside, and sees a narrow hallway running perpendicular to the doorway, with the opposite wall only a few feet away from the door side. Daar closes the door and whispers to Greg that there are some goblins on the opposite side of the wall, and that he thinks if Greg runs headfirst into the room he can take them by surprise and kill them in a glorious attack. Greg grins and likes the idea. The rest of the group groans at the idea of Greg charging in again, not knowing the trick Daar is playing, and begin to ready for another battle. Greg roars gets a running start and bashes through the door, flying headlong at the opposite wall. At the last moment he’s able to stop himself from slamming into the wall. Surprised and a bit stupefied at the wall being there, looks around and see there’s also no goblins, and it’s just an empty hallway. His confusion grows, until he looks back at Daar, who is grinning and laughing to himself at seeing Greg’s charge. Greg turns to him and begins to say something, but is interrupted as another door down the hall has opened, and a goblin bandit has snuck up behind him. As the goblin is about to strike, the goblin’s foot knocks a rock aside, and Greg instinctually turns and blocks the blow, and decides to take his embarrassment and rage out on this goblin, who now finds his knees knocking together and wishing he’d stayed back in the other room. A brief but bloody battle ensues as the Swole Patrol dispatches with the goblin bandit, as well as the two other goblins who had not yet emerged from their squaller in the room attached to the hall.
After they eliminate the foolish goblin bandits, they move down the hall, with Daar leading the way. As he neared the western door, suddenly the floor disappeared from under him, as he triggers a trap door dropping into a pit. Daar manages to use his wings to catch himself in the air and fly back to safety. Greg laughs to himself a bit, seeing Daar nearly fall into the pit, thinking it serves him right. Greg is not a religious man, but he knows all about karma. Leylin meanwhile searches the pit and finds a long lost gold ring with an inset sapphire at the bottom, which he happily jumps down and collects.
Leylin is helped out of the pit and the group carefully walks over the pit along a narrow catwalk that remains. They open the door and move inside. Once inside they see mounted and stuffed animal heads adorn the walls. The mounting job is sloppy, and the assortment of heads includes cattle, rats, and other not particularly impressive specimens. A few grisly trophies share the wall with the animals, including a couple of kobold heads. Smashed and broken cabinets and small tables litter the periphery of the room, mute victims of some sort of rampage. A rusted iron spike stands in the center of the room, trailing a broken chain. Thin patches of frost coat sections of the walls, floor, and debris. Meepo recognizes the frost and knows that it must mean Calcryx was here. Calcryx, the white dragon wyrmling, is initially out of view, resting behind a broken table. The goblins used the iron chain to bind her, but she broke free and rampaged through the room, destroying the floor displays. Upon hearing Meepo’s voice, Calcryx charges out from behind the table and faces the group.
“YOU! You pathetic scum, you should have never come here.” Calcryx growls at Meepo. “And like the coward you are, you brought in outside help, thinking that it would matter. At least you found yourself some dragonborns, who are at least truer to dragon blood than you kobolds. However I will feast upon all of your bones if you do not leave now.” The group steadies itself, but hoping to capture and return the wyrmling dragon, do not want to fight if they don’t have to.
“We have come to bring you back Calcryx, we don’t want to fight you, but you must come back with us.” Daar tries to negotiate with Calcryx. “Meepo here will take good care of you.” At this Calcryx lets out a roar that shakes the room.
“This Meepo, who brought you here, lies to you. Him and the rest of the kobolds kept me in cage, beating me and treating me, the great Calcryx as their pet. I will not go back with him and become their slave again. I prefer it here with these filthy goblins, whom I will kill and take this Citadel as my own.” Calcryx declares defiantly. The group is stunned at hearing of Meepo’s treatment of the dragon. Meepo explains that he was just doing his job. While not happy with the answer, they still feel bound to their oath to help, and try again to negotiate, but Calcryx will have none of it, and instead moves toward Meepo, clawing at him as Meepo moves closer holding the collar for Calcryx.
The battle begins fiercely as the dragon seems intent on killing his former keeper first. Shaking off the blows from the rest of the party. Calcryx rears back and then exhales an icy blast of hail in the direction of Meepo. The icy breath instantly freezes Meepo into an ice block, now seeming more of an ice sculpture than a kobold. The breath continues out and takes down Erky & Kormac, however they are just knocked unconscious as Meepo took the full blast of the breath. Calcryx laughs at Meepo’s frozen body and with a swipe, shatters Meepo into a thousand pieces across the floor.
Leylin, seeing the fate of Meepo, decides to heat things up to take out this dragon quickly before he can kill anyone else. He takes a swig of the potion of fire breath they’d found before, and exhales a blast of fire, which burns Calcryx across his entire body, causing him to roar in pain as his scales begin to melt off of his body. AzReal takes the opportunity to cast his Witch Bolt, connecting with Calcryx a bolt of lightning from his fingers. The lightning cause Calcryx to seize and shake uncontrollably as the electricity courses through his body. As AzReal ends the stream of energy, Calcryx ceases moving, and collapses to the floor.
Erky and Kormac are revived and stabilized, as Daar kneels in the far end of the room next to Calcryx. The rest of the group thinks that he is praying for the loss of Meepo, and they observe a moment of silence, saddened by the loss of their friend. However Daar was actually praying for the loss of the dragon, as a dragonborn feeling the loss of one of his blood. After the moment passes, they search the room for valuables. Of particular note is a sealed scroll case carved of bone they find, carrying an inscription. Runes in the Dwarvish alphabet spell out the word “Khundrukar.” An old parchment is within the case. Age and water damage have destroyed most of it, but a short message in Dwarvish remains: “… the remaining few. By order of Durgeddin the Black, we have created a secret dwarven redoubt. None shall find us; however, …” It makes little sense to the group, but Leylin takes it, believing it would fetch a fair price to a dwarven buyer.
All members of the party are exhausted after this last battle taking down the dragon wyrmling, some of the group needing time to bandage their wounds and recover. They decide to barricade the doors and take a full rest. Soon they all drift off to sleep, resting deeply, some of them dreaming about the glories of battles of the day, others have dreams of Meepo in which he survives the encounter and continues to adventure with them. Another dreams stressfully of what the kobold leader, Yusdrayl, will do when the return without Meepo or their dragon Calcryx. Erky Timbers however can for the first time in weeks, stretch out and sleep comfortably, and dreams of gnomish women who will be so impressed with his daring and conquering of a dragon that they will be sure to want to spend the night testing out his prowess and stamina.
However not all sleep through the night. Kormac has not slept at all for that matter. The day’s troubles have shaken his beliefs and his resolve. Not only was he unable to be a great warrior for Tempus, but he was also brought down in a fight that could have caused everyone else to perish as well. His mind is racked with anger, frustration, embarrassment, & confusion. Finally Kormac is unable to sit here anymore and decides that he must go back and find his way again, away from this god-forsaken place, and the petty squabbles of the kobolds and goblins. Kormac quietly moves to the doorway back the way they’d come, fortunately Greg was snoring loudly, occasionally miming a thrust or jab into the air as he relives his battles, so Kormac was able to open the door, sliding the furniture blocking it aside. As he exited, he tried to reach through and pull the furniture back against the door as much as he could, before closing the door and walking to the end of the hallway. There he decided that they might be able to use his potion of fire breath he’d gathered in his wineskin. He also looked at his trident, which had failed to strike true so far. Kormac looped the strap of the wineskin through one of the trident’s prongs, and with great anger he slammed the trident into the wall, causing it to bury itself into it, sticking straight out, with the wineskin hanging from it. And letting this last bit go, Kormac took one last look back at the door of his former compatriots, wishing things would have gone differently. He then opened the door to the way back and stepped through.
Silence filled the halls as the night passes, only the distant footsteps leading farther away echo in the now lifeless rooms. The Citadel has claimed more lives this day, and for this group, it has only begun to show the true darkness that await.