Chapter 02: Boltholes and Blasts from the ... Past?

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Session Number: 25
Date: Sunday 4 October 2009
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Enok Rgr5 (Alain) (kills: none)
Krag Clr5 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal5 (Craig) (kills: 1 metallic spider)
Troll Wiz5 (Densial) (kills: 3 metallic spiders)

XP Awarded: TBC

The battle continues!

Troll's celestial hippogriff full-attacks one of the metallic creatures. Hoof and tooth rend the damaged creature and it keels over.

Twin sharp appendages seek weakpoints in Rowaine's armour. One gets through. With the appearance of the hippogriff, Rowaine now flanks one of the creatures. Seeing its divided attention, she buffs her axe blow with Power Attack. The overhead cleave kills it.

Troll centres a Fiery Burst on two creatures pushing against the gate. They both fuse and become motionless.

Enok yells "Krag! Heal Rowaine!" and then throws his weight against the door, trying to push it shut. It does not budge. Krag steps back and casts Cure Serious Wounds on Rowaine.

A creature hacks twice at Rowaine, scoring two nasty hits. Rowaine's return swing misses and she falls back a step. Krag casts another Cure Serious Wounds on Rowaine. Troll Fiery Bursts the last remaining creature and it dies.

That Fiery Burst is damn effective…

Rowaine runs to the top of the tower. Enok notes that although dead, two of the creatures have driven their bladelike legs into the soil outside the gate, effectively wedging it open. He and Krag wrestle the small but heavy 6-legged corpses beyond the gate's arc and close it, heaving a sigh of relief.

Rowaine examines Sir Veketh where he lies at the top of the tower. The dwarf's rhythmic breathing is a welcome sign - he is unconscious, but alive. The relieved Rowaine looks out over the parapet, seeing scores of little creatures still testing the barrier. The three horse-sized larger versions also move about the barrier's blue arc, devouring the remains of the hapless smaller creatures rent by the barrier's appearance. Rowaine shudders involuntarily and turns her attention to the barrier that has saved the monastery from certain ruin. She notices that the dome is not centered about the tower or Sir Veketh, rather it neatly encompasses the monastery's entire grounds. Rowaine carries Sir Veketh down to the others.

Berathoin the Underpriest joins the party and examines Sir Veketh, confirming Rowaine's findings. Rowaine asks whether he knows what has happened to Sir Veketh.

"He appears to have cast a spell that is part of our new defences. It seems to have worked, too - and a very good thing it is! The spell brings into being the barrier that you see about the monastery. We figured that the spell would be very taxing, but weren't exactly sure how much so. The barrier is fuelled by the caster's very life force, explaining the unconsciousness. Sir Veketh did a very brave thing; indeed, he has sacrificed many years of his life to save us all."

"How long will he remain unconscious?" asks Rowaine.

"We're not really sure."

"And how long will the barrier remain?"

"Well, if it works as designed, it will last for ten days."

"Could you erect another barrier?"

"Well… yes, but it would take time - at least a week. And we cannot perform the necessary preparations while the current barrier is in effect."

Ten days. Why have these hordes come? What do they want? It seems more than coincidence that the elf should arrive mere moments before the onslaught, but what is the connection?

Berathoin notices the perplexion creasing Rowaine's face. "More than likely, dear Rowaine, the reason they are here is because of you. Now, don't misunderstand me… Surely you remember Sir Veketh's teachings? That paladins are to be tested? You have shown yourself as someone to watch, dear girl! And watched you are… It may be that you have attracted the attention of something that would side against Moradin. Certainly, Sir Veketh anticipated something like this. Now don't go feeling guilty, I know that look… Sir Veketh did what he did knowing full well the cost. He wouldn't have it any other way. We here are all followers of Moradin. None of us would."

"Erm, I would!" pipes Troll.

Rowaine remains to guard the gate and think on this while the others enter the temple, seeking answers from the lifeless elf. The lifeless elf that, upon inspection, bears a strong resemblance to Troll. Certainly they are of the same race, maybe even the same family?

Cold dread edges through Troll's senses. He pulls up his shirt and notes the occasional freckle, the small collection of scars he carries on his small frame. He checks the withered elf's naked torso, afraid of what he might find. He finds the same features. There can be no mistake - this is Troll. Or rather, Troll as he would appear about a thousand years from now.

Troll allows some of this to sink into his consciousness before revealling it to the others present. He then returns to the gate to tell Rowaine.

"How in earth can…" Rowaine begins. "Troll… Are you alright?"

"I guess," Troll says. "Hard to say, really."

"Is this even possible?" asks Rowaine.

"Oh yes, definitely," Troll says. "In fact, I plan to do something of the sort sometime in my career. Just not quite like … that."

The bewildered group review what the venerable version of Troll said before dying. You can't fight them with what you have? Elondel? It seems the place of Troll's birth may hold some answers. But our first priority must be the safety of our family, our people at the monastery…

"Nothing may pass through the barrier, either in or out," Berathoin advises. "But we did leave a way of escape, a magical one-way bolthole. A doorway has probably appeared beneath the temple. It exits on the far side of the hill to the west. There are two flares safely stored away there, to signal those remaining in the monastery."

Minehome, the dwarven stronghold with historic ties to Kharag monastery, is two days' journey to the north-by-northwest. Troll pictures Elondel as being around three days to the west-by-northwest. They are not too far apart…

A plan is cobbled together. The party are to exit via the bolthole. If they are discovered, they will light the red flare. If not, then they make with all available pace to Minehome and petition the dwarves for reinforcements to enable the rest of the monastery to safely evacuate. On the return journey, the party will detour to Elondel. Hopefully the entire journey will take no more than 7-8 days, leaving time to evacuate while the barrier remains.

Preparations are made. Dirrin hastily throws together two days' trail rations for the travellers. They all head beneath the temple where an inky black doorway is seen in the north wall. Rowaine and Enok enter first, with axe and bow ready…

…to exit in a 30' square room with arrow slits in each wall and a barred door in the west wall. There is no evidence of a doorway behind them. A cabinet sits against a nearby wall. Rowaine fetches the flares from within. Half a minute later Troll and Krag appear in the room.

The party quietly open the door and exit. Using a blade, Troll gently lowers the bar behind the almost-closed doors and nods as the bar clunks solidly into place. Enok takes point and leads the party towards Minehome. Once, twice, three times Enok hears the disturbing sound of multiple legs skewering the earth as a sentry passes by. They seem to be scouting clockwise in equidistant concentric circles around the hill. Enok winces each time he hears Rowaine's protective but noisy armour scrap behind him… The third sentry stops briefly and then quickens its pace as it heads towards the party!

"RUN!" yells Enok. The party forget all efforts at concealment and beat their way through the undergrowth, directly away from the excited little creature. As they outpace the slower creature, they hear a piercing scream from behind them, then another, farther away. The game is up!

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