The party prepares to leave Bostwick. Flax has returned from the land of the dead. Jeffar berates the party for their foolishness. Belflin tells her – again! – how the orcs and trolls of the Underdark have to be kept under control lest this valley be overrun by monsters.
It’s August 23 and a full moon rides the night sky. Flax is back and visibly shaken. Corian spends many hours talking to her.
The party rides back to Pembrose and on to the old keep. The reconstruction is far from finished. They leave the horses with the workers and take the dark read past the dungeon cells, through the torture chamber, the secret room with the goblin heads in jars, into Vordek’s graveyard. And they realize that there must be a reason Vordek the ghost keeps coming back. All he ever says is “Don’t touch my bones!”
By now he is no longer a match for the party. Silas turns him, and the two elves stick some arrows from their magic bows into him. Silas prepares a consecration of the graveyard and blesses the dead. The party assumes that Vordek was the torturer down here and that these graves are the graves of his victims. Giving them proper burial rites and releasing them from the Material Plan will put Vordek to rest. And so it is.
The party makes its way to the Crushed Orc encampment, where Karamutenga approaches the guards, jumps them out shadows and intimidates them. “On your knees!” he snarls. They obey. The rest of the party approaches slowly. As a discussion starts up, the orcs recover their wits, jump up and run away. With two swift strokes Karamutenga cleaves them into pieces.
The sound of slaughter has alarmed more orcs. A gong is rung, but the four additional guards are quickly slain. As the party enters the big cave, Karamutenga throws down a dead guard and makes another Intimidate check! Kersux doesn’t give the signal. The orcs are uncertain. Karamutenga stares them all down and challenges the leader to single combat. This they understand! They mutter their approval and Kersux accepts. Slowly Karamutenga descends into the cave and faces the orc leader. Karamutenga the female half-orc wears a chain shirt and wields a greatsword. Kersux the male orc wears a beautiful half-place and a very nice greatsword with pearls inlaid into its handle. The orcs form a circle around the combatants.
With a roar they jump each other and after two mighty blows Karamutenga buries her blade in Kersux’ throat. Silence descends. Finally the second in command calls his comrades back. “Kersux is dead! There is no point in staying here anymore. Those who wish for a better life than this dog shit follow me!” Most of the orcs follow him until Karamutenga barks at the remaining orcs: “What are you staring at? Begone!” They break and run.
Apparently the drow wizard Phren cast Fly and Invisibility on himself as soon as Kersux died. He did not have to time take his crystal decanter and wine glasses with him – just his gems and his spellbook. Still, the party finds a small statue of Orcus that must have belonged to Quarant, the orc ambassador at the ruined keep talking to Thugler. Then again, the party never learnt that much because they entered the keep via a backdoor, surprising Thugler and Quarant, slaying Quarant in the surprise round and Thugler not much later. The party also finds another gem encrusted statue of Orcus, a platinum spider pendant, more gems, and gold. Payback time!
The party follows the orcs and manages to talk to Phren. But nobody seems to know about the two other keys. Apparently the orc party that found them (and Kersux among them) must have sold them away. The only other interesting parties Phren knows down here are the ogres and the fire giant and his temple of Belphegor to the east.
The party decides to return to the surface, ride to the ruined village north of Twain, and take the secret passage into the Underdark, saving them a long trip underground.
They also take the opportunity to slay the remaining giant stag beetle, turn the two wraiths in the catacomb and take the mummy’s golden star pendant. They also stumble into an assassine vine as they explore the village. This was a tough fight because I ruled that the party was spread all over the ruins, searching. So in the surprise round I rolled a d10 to determine in which building everybody was. They managed to save Belflin just in time.
As they burn the vine down, they discovered that it had grown out of or into a cellar, and in that cellar Flax discovered a passage in the Underdark.
They descended the stairs and reached a cave. They cautiously moved into the cave. Belflin made the Spot check and realized that one of the stalagmites must have moved (the roper has +18 to hide down here!). Belflin decides to lead the party around it. I ask how much distance he wants to put between himself and the stalagmite. He answers: “Fourty feet.” Uhhh… the roper strands have 50 ft. reach… And so Initiative is rolled and the fighting begins. Just a single strand attacks in the surprise round. The elves have actions readied and shoot some arrows. Then the first round begins. Belflin doesn’t want to move back, opting for a full attack. On the roper’s turn, he manages to attack all six party members, latching on to them and draining 2d8 strength from all that don’t make their DC 18 Fortitude save. Everybody is dragged closer to the roper. Flax faints, Auroleva is reduced to Strength 3. On the second round more people faint. Everybody is dragged closer. Karamutenga and Belflin charge the roper, but with AC 24 this is a tough bugger. Corian tries his trusted Magic Missiles but Spell Resistance 30 is way out there. I saw my first TPK coming. The party had already befriended the Minx brothers, so I decided that they must have followed the party. They start shooting arrows. But two fifth level rangers are no big help when time is essential and the party is facing a roper. I decide that a Coup de Grace is not possible for the roper because that would mean no longer concentrating on the one victim still resisting his weaking effect: Karamutenga! And at last, with two mighty swings of her newfound greatsword, she shatters the roper.
The party spends a week recovering from the fight. On the first night, Karamutenga and the Minx brothers bring the party back to the surface and build a little shelter. As soon as they feel better, the Minx brothers escort the party to the Hog’s Head inn in Twain. The Ettin slayers, nearly slain Underground! The inn is busy with curious miners and farmers wanting to hear the story. The Minx brothers take their leave.
And so do we. Off to a new Pizza joint!
A roper. Way over their head!!
I hope awarding the Kersux XP to Karamutenga only is not unfair…