Grand Duchy 34

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 34
October 14 - October 22, 2014

Demons Be Driven

Gromdain 12th of Flaurmont

Laying Wyrtung to Rest

The assembled members of the Grey Company take a moment to catch their breaths. What had just happened seemed to have been out of a nightmare. The Star Sisters were gone, disappeared down into the smoking rift only to be replaced by a hulking demon of a beast - a multi-legged polar bear equipped with rending claws and a freezing breath blast! Marcel still carried some heavy wounds from the battle, while some others had been hurt during the battle, Draven had been able to magically tend to their wounds already.

It was starting to get late in the afternoon, though the weather was still holding. Akaios, Burik and Remar are still somewhere else, having left the area before the Star Sister’s ritual on the off chance one of them could be a potential target for one of the demons. Draven reminded the group of the profane statue of Orcus back at the wolf’s lair and their promise to destroy it. Marcel brought up Susikyn and their other quest to find and save Stefan, assuming he was still alive, over a month since he was captured by the Goblins. Griffin then brought up the initial reason they were all there, the horses. Everyone pondered these things. It was a good day’s travel back to the homestead, and another 2 days back to the Table Rock from there with the werewolf heads in tow.

Wyrtung’s body still lay atop the mound, right in the center, laying in a dark patch of grass. Looking at the body, it still seemed a bit unceremonious and unnecessary to kill the poor old hermit.

“All good points to ponder, folks. For now, I say before we leave here we need to give the old hermit a decent burial, and maybe check out the crevasse to see if there’s anything down there.” He looked over his comrades. “I’ll start digging. Once we’re done with that, we can head to the werewolf lair and hook up with Akaios and the others. I haven’t forgotten Old Ugly there.”

Griffin throws his blanket over the old man, then starts digging a shallow grave, over near the old man’s hidey hole.

“Well said. Little seemed to have been served by the death of old Wyrtung, whether he was marked by these fell creatures or not.” As Griffin begins the digging, Draven washes up and prepares some holy water for the ceremony, however brief, he will perform for the fallen watcher of this holy place.

“One day, I will return here, with a force of the faithful. This place deserves to be a holy shrine again.”

After digging for a while, Griffin heads back up to the mound to retrieve the old man. He wraps him in the blanket and stoops to pick him up to carry him down the hill. As he does he sees Wyrtung’s knife, still stuck in the ground where Nurmin the Star Sister had left it.
Wyrtung's dagger

As he grasps the dagger, Griffin notices that the weapon feels very cool to the touch.

Shrugging, he pulls the knife free and lays it on top of the blanket. He picks up the old man and starts down the hill. He is surprised how light the body is - like once the spirit departed there was very little left.

As he passes Ariadne, he pauses. “Hey, Ree, this is Wyrtung’s dagger. Anything magical about it?”

He leaves the dagger with the young girl and finishes carrying his grisly burden to its final resting place. Carefully he lays the bundle into the grave and quickly covers it with as much dirt as he can.

Whew! That was a bit of work. The young man sits down to catch his breath for a moment.

Helping out with the covering as best he can, Draven finishes up with a lengthy prayer over the old fellow. He hopes that, having anointed him with holy water and recommended him to the gods that whatever unusual business he got up to in service of foreign and heretical gods would be forgiven.

Ree turns the dagger over in her hands, looking at it carefully, “Yea, ya know what, there does seem to be something magical about this blade. And it feels cold to the touch, seems to chill the air around it.” She hands it back to Griffin and shivers a bit.

Griffin stuffs the dagger into his belt as he looks at the sun as it drops toward the horizon. Hells. He looks up at Ree. “Well, this day certainly got sidetracked. Let’s see what we can salvage. Hmmm…”

He straightens up. “Okay, folks, let’s see. Ariadne, why don’t you go and retrieve our wayward friends. It’s probably better if we camp here together again tonight. If you hurry, you should have light for at least the trip there. Iris, Draven, why don’t you check out Wyrtung’s cave and herb store. Marcel, if you’re feeling up to it, I could use someone to watch my back. I want to see if there’s anything still to be learned down in that rift.”

Griffin grabs rope off his horse and prepares to head into the crack in the mound. He looks to Marcel. “You coming?”

Checking the Storeroom

Curiosity overcoming him, Draven heads down to the herb store once more, recalling what had been said about the herbs being valuable in keeping the demons under wraps until they could be formally dispatched. Leaving all his gear behind, he hopes that his slight frame will allow him to scoot inside without abandoning his mail shirt as well.

Draven is able to squeeze into the narrow opening of Wyrtung’s “storeroom” and finds it to be in the same state as it had been before. Hundreds of sprigs of the dried plants hang from every spare place on the jagged rock walls. The “storeroom” goes back into the cliff-face nearly 25 feet or so before becoming too narrow to proceed or see any further. The dry, sandy floor of the cave shows it to be regularly visited. At the very back of the store room, Draven spies a tiny natural shelf, about chest high in the left hand wall. On this shelf is stacked a handful of tiny, white pebbles, smooth and polished, strangely out of place in this dark, sandy hole.
These stones seem out of place.

Taking care, Draven gathers some of the plants, in various stages of drying, to research further as time allows.

He looks at the pile of stones with some curiosity. Throwing caution to the wind and trusting his luck, he reaches out to pick one up and examine it more closely.

The stone is smooth and light, not too heavy; probably wouldn’t make much of a sling stone due to its light weight. The rocks smoothness remindes him of a river stone, tumbled to a near polish from the flowing waters above it.

On a bit of a whim, Draven gathers the stones and stows them along with the herbs. “Maybe Ree will know what to do with them, or Remar will have a feel for them…”

With that, he leaves the tunnels to rejoin the others in preparation for the consecration of the wolf den.

Under the Mound

Going down cracks seems to be the main order of business for the gray company. Marcel pauses for a moment, thinking about the old man. He had a deep sense of loss, not so much because Wyrtung had died but because it seemed to him that the mound had lost its purpose and meaning. It all seemed to him a bit of the known world now going to waste. Maybe, just maybe a bit more meaning was left to squeeze out of the mound.

“Well, friend. If there is loot down there, I don’t know whether I want to be watching your back!” Griffin looks perplexed. Marcel smiles and pat him on the shoulder.

“Let’s see if there are dead naked frost ladies down there to give ‘em proper burial.”

Griffin ties himself up with the rope and starts lowering himself down, Marcel holding the other end wrapped around one a nearby rock crag. The continual hissing steam has stopped as the water level of the nearby pool of water has lowered itself enough to only occasionally lap over the edge. Griffin’s glowing necklace allows him to see in the darkness below the surface of the mound. It is incredibly hot down in the fissure and Griffin begins sweating profusely almost immediately. He can see that along the right hand wall, there are carved out hand and foot holds that appear to lead down to a narrow ledge about fifteen feet down. The fissure narrows quite steeply the further it goes down and soon enough, the rubble from above can be seen choking the bottom of the crevice. It seems that the narrow ledge leads further down and in, though it is difficult to see well as the faint light given off by the glowing necklace is distorted and twisted by the heat of the passageway and the narrow walls angle in and turn frequently.

Damn it’s hot down here! Why am I doing this again? Yea, if the sisters have any remains down here it would be proper to retrieve them and give them a decent burial (assuming that’s what they’d want? Maybe a burning boat?) But hells, they’re already pretty buried down here anyway, between the lava and the cave in. Maybe I should just let this one go.

Still, those handholds look promising, and I don’t think this place is through with its surprises. If I’m careful, I should be able to at least see what is under here.

And they did have some pretty interesting gear…

Griffin carefully makes his way down to the narrow ledge, using the hand- and footholds along the right wall. At this point he’s climbing almost more by feel than sight, which is probably for the best as the light in this area is not the best.

Maybe I can see more when I get to the bottom of the fissure. If not, this may have been a hot and sweaty trip for nothing.

Griffin makes his way in and down and quickly runs out of rope. The debris from up above is no longer blocking the crevice or the ledge. To his left he can see down into the fissure a bit further. The soft red glow of molten rock makes its way up from somewhere below. Ahead, the ledge seems to widen a bit. He thinks that me is probably down near the elevation of the base of the mound and somewhere near its center. More red light can be seen up ahead, glowing from around another outcropping of rock.

Up above, Marcel feels the slack in the rope tighten and loosen several times as Griffin climbs down and out of sight. for a few moments, he can hear Griffin at first but after just a few minutes, his companions voice becomes too muffled and masked by the slight hissing and bubbling that creates a background of sound. Finally, after the rope has been slack for some time, it pulls taut. Marcel feels a few casual tugs on the rope and he assumes Griffin has gotten to the end of its length.

Marcel replies with a few tugs on the tense rope to acknowledge Griffin’s. He reaches around for his own rope and attaches one end loosely around the first rope. He lets the other end of his rope unwind. He then let his rope slide down Griffin’s. That should give him another 60’ to work with.

Griffin feels the new slack in the rope and takes it to mean that Marcel has given him another sixty feet to work with. He slowly continues deeper into the depths of the mound. The heat beats on him from on angles. He takes small sips of the superheated air. Sweat drips down his face.

Griffin continues along the narrow ledge and rounds the last obscuring corner to find himself near the top of a fairly large chamber with a domed ceiling. The ledge he is on wraps down and around the chamber walls to the floor some fifteen feet below. In the center of the chamber is a pool of magma. A rift in the wall leads out through the area he just entered. It appears that some of the magma flows through the bottom of this rift as well, which explains the boiling water at steam back at the opening in the side of the mound. The heat in this chamber is nearly unbearable and it is hard to make out specific details due to the way the heat is warping the air. Just ahead and to his right, Griffin sees what looks like some sort of necklace or amulet hanging from a protrusion in the wall. Upon closer inspection it appears to be some sort of symbol, possibly a standing lion wielding a pair of swords. It is made of a dark metal on a heavy chain. A quick scan reveals several more of these medallions hanging from other protrusions along the path that winds down toward the magma pool. And he cannot be too sure of it, but it looks as if there may be something floating just at the edge of the magma pool along the edge at the end of the path.

Except in a black metal

Wiping his eyes to make sure he’s seeing what he’s seeing, Griffin stretches out and snags the necklace off the wall. Well, I don’t want to return empty-handed!  He drops it in a pouch as he scans the the path down to the pool. Five more minutes.

More confidently, Griffin moves down the path circling the pool, making his way to the bottom. He keeps his eyes on the strange object he can see floating in the magma. To make himself feel better, he takes out Wyrtung’s dagger and holds it in front of him. The cool touch of the blade’s handle is almost lost in the oppressive heat of the magma chamber.

As he gets closer to the bottom, Griffin sees that the object in the magma appears to be a large black bowl. He also notices that his safety rope has trailed out over the open part of the room and has instantly burned away, leaving him connected to about 5 feet of smoldering rope. He has passed two more medallions hanging from the wall and he sees two more ahead of him.

Taking a deep breath, Griffin slides along the wall the rest of the way down to the edge of the magma. He snags the bowl with the dagger, and immediately retreats, the heat searing the flesh on the back of his hand. He moves back up the path as quickly as he can, but pauses as he passes the necklaces to grab them and put them away.

As he emerges, the cool night air hits him with an almost physical force.

His companions gather around to see what he had found. The medallions and bowl all hiss and smoke in the cool evening air, each being too hot to touch with bare hands.

Griffin spends several minutes just gasping in huge lungfuls of sweet, sweet, cool air. The bowl and amulets steam in the grass. Eventually he sits back up.  “Well, that was unpleasant.” He looks at Draven and Iris. “I thought one or the other of you might know something about these things.” He winces as the burns on his hand tighten. “I thought maybe they would be useful if we ever have to deal with demons again.” He pauses, then mutters, “Although it didn’t seem to help the Sisters, did it?” He brightens. “But anyway, that’s all that there was down there, aside from heat and fire and, oh yea, more heat.” He winks at Iris, “But at least it was a dry heat.”

He turns to Marcel. “Oh, and I kinda burned up your rope. I’ll replace it when we can get to a market, okay?”

Draven takes one of the amulets and examines it for a moment while Iris checks out the bowl without touching it as it is still quite warm. "Well, it's old, though I'm not familiar with the style," the young Thyatian girl states.

“These are familiar - certainly related to Vanya, but likely drifted from the true faith with time and distance. If no one finds it amiss, I will take these to return to the church in Kelvin. I suspect they will appreciate their antiquity and perhaps know more of them.”

The Demon-trapping bowl
Turning to the bowl, he suggests that it might be a phylactery - the object that one of the demons was contained inside. “From the heat, I take it it was in the lava below? Imagine the magic that must protect it from such heat!”

That night the Company makes camp again near the mound. Burik, Remar and Akaios are returned to the group and briefed over what had transpired. The warmth of the day never dissipates as the night closes in, making it an almost uncomfortable hot night. At nearly midnight, several dark shapes swoop down over the campfire, startling Akaios who was on watch. The giant foul bats had returned! In the commotion of waking everyone up to the threat, though, the bats flapped away, not to be seen again. After the horses were calmed, the Company bedded back down again for the night. Griffin found it surprisingly easy to get back to sleep and everyone slept good for the night.

Tserdain 13th of Flaurmont

Toppling False Idols

The sun rises and quickly gets to work warming up the air. It by far the hottest day so far this year and everyone but Griffin works up a sweat breaking camp. Ready to ride, the group heads back to the east toward the lair of the werewolves.

Griffin relaxes in the saddle on this delightful morning. He ponders out loud, “So, any thoughts on toppling old Ugly? Ropes and lots of pushing? Or is it not safe to touch it? We certainly don’t want to get his attention, do we?”

While hoping to get some discussion going about this next task, Griffin’s mind is already working on the step after that, and the one after that. Once we take down old Ugly, then cross the river. It’s a ways to the ferry. Maybe there’s a ford near Sielo - didn’t I see something like that when we passed through? Then leave the horses wherever we cross with some of the gear and a few folk to guard it, so the FKoH doesn’t get all “release all your horses to freedom” again. Then head for the Table Rock. Talk to the Fairy King of Horses (or have Marcel do it - they really seem to be bonding.) Find out where Stephan and the ruins of Xitaqa are. Then… He sighs. The next step would depend on where Xitaqa was. Hopefully they could get a chance to resupply and catch their breath. Maybe if it were past Susikyn, they could stop for a night under a roof for a change.

But we won’t know until we know. No point in making plans beyond the next major fork in the road, when you don’t know which fork you’re taking.

“It is a profane idol, and I don’t much fancy touching it any more than we have to. I can call upon a mantle of protection that should keep me as safe as one can be from such things, and can help with the placement of the ropes. If that, and the strength of our backs, is insufficient, perhaps some manner of lever can be employed.”

“I am just pleased to see us finally setting out to destroy the thing. It’s a good first step, and a necessary one, before we return here one day to ensure that the area is reconsecrated to the good.”

The sun blazes down as the companions travel down the “thrice blessed road” toward the werewolf lair. When they are about halfway there, Marcel catches sight of a dark shape high in the sky coming their way from the south, across the plains. The Traladaran soldier stands up in his saddle and holds his shiny silver shield up to block the sun from his eyes.

Marcel squints but cannot make it out yet. The others have gotten in the habit of heeding Marcel’s reaction and take a defensive stance.

“Thrice yee be blessed, Oh road to the goblin’s lair! For some dark omen is swooping from the south. ” He points at it with his spear.

Here There Be Dragons!

After another minute of watching the dark spot in the sky getting larger and closer, it is clear that it is in fact a Dragon! It appears to be heading somewhere to the east of the Company’s location then it suddenly banks and flies directly toward them. Given the rate at which the beast is flying, it should be upon them in less than five minutes!
Here comes the Dragon!

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli  

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

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