In a private room in a hole in the wall bar, the heroes gathered. They were summoned by the Field Marshal for a private meeting concerning the regicide. The assassin or an unfortunate victim of a framing, depending on who you chose to believe, was in hiding from mob justice. The Field Marshal wanted her found safely and brought for questioning. With a growing reputation and the beginnings of a strong trust forming between the Field Marshal and the troupe of heroes, she set them to the task.
“Tell me a story Odric!” Kip begged. It had been a long day at the brewery, Kip had been hauling water for hours while Odric and Master Bartleby tinkered with recipes in pursuit of a truly heroic brew. The young man hungered for tales of adventure and excitement.
“Oh, all right, go and get your storybook.” Odric intoned.
“No, no, not one of those, a REAL story!” Kip encouraged hopefully.
“A real story?”
“Yes! Tell me about when you chased down Trinia and saved the city in the Dead Warrens, thus preventing a massive battle and political unrest!” Kip pressed.
We had a plan to capture Trinia, She was in her apartment in the Midlands, as best we could tell. I would stay in the stairwell with Master Sandor, Master Grym and Bucho would stay on the ground, watching the rooftops to spot the talented acrobat should she make a run for it that way. Master Gaius would knock on the door and try to talk the lady into following him to the keep. Inquisitor Ferox and Master Morkeleb were equipped to stop her with ranged attacks, arrows and magic respectively.
When the door suddenly exploded! Odric makes a big expansive gesture with his hands, startling young Kip.
Trinia escaped onto the roofs and a spectacular chase ensued.
“Odric, Master Sandor said you fell down a lot during that chase! Is that true?”
Master Sandor didn’t have a great view, I think his helmet had slipped over his eyes again.”
Once Trinia was caught, we returned her incognito to the keep, into the care of Field Marshal Croft. Unfortunately, Kroft had another job for us.
We were to descend into the depths of the Dead Warrens to recover the body of a Shoanti Way-Keeper’s grandson. He had fallen in a brawl, his body was stolen and it was feared that a necromancer was using the body in rituals of the dark arts.
We prepared for our mission and set off into the Dungeon. Before we had taken more than a hundred paces, we were beset by the Undead! An owlbear skeleton and six human skeletons arose and attacked! With seemingly infinite Magic Missiles, our wizard weakened the creatures, Our Inquisitor fired blunt arrow after blunt arrow, further wearing them down. Our roguish cleric channeled energy at the mob of skeletons. The bullets and swords of Grym took a toll as well, with Sandor and myself smashing bones left and right. When Gaius channeled holy energy at them a second time, they crumbled to dust and left us standing amidst only our shadows and the echoes of the fight.
We continued to explore.
We found an albino gnome-like creature using giant bugs to suck the blood out of corpses before long. Horrified, we knock him unconscious, killed the bugs and set about questioning him once he came to. Without much to go on, other than vague impressions about a necromancer named Rolth, we tied him up in a hutch and pressed on.
Next room we came to smelled awful! It was the home to an Otyugh who had been eating the cast-off portions of corpses, presumably left over from strange necromantic experiments.
Without a thought to safety or sense, we rushed to battle. It was a tough fight, Sandor had his head inside the creature’s mouth at one point. Morkeleb’s relentless assault of magic missiles provided flashes of light and the smell of burning excrement as they impacted the creature unerringly.
Ferox fired arrows at the creature, injuring the beast and making its blood mingle with mud, making the disgusting ooze even worse.
With a shout and a lunge, I buried this very weapon into the creature, killing it.
Odric hands The Eagle to Kip, who receives it reverently. It is far too heavy for the boy, and he almost drops it. Odric’s calloused hands help him support the heavy pick.
After a messy clean-up, the group crept further into the Dead Warrens. There were twists and turns, secret doors and mysterious traps. One such trap triggered three magic floating skulls that attacked just as we were trying to fight another of those white gnome creatures. I spun and attacked them several times, all to no avail. They were too hard to hit. It took quite a bit of teamwork to finally start to even the odds, but with perseverance, Morkeleb’s magic missiles and some well-times arrows from Ferox, the Albino finally fell. Ferox’ arrow was so well-placed, it went through the creature’s eye, killing it instantly. The constructs, called Necrophidii were slowly worn down with melee strikes from Grym, Gaius and me. It was a long battle, but in the end we won out.
Conscious of Grym’s reputation, Odric does not mention the Ranger falling paralyzed for about a minute of the very long fight. Grym came to and lent a hand eventually, but Odric will allow Kip to imagine all the men fighting valiantly side by side throughout the battle.
A vault of creepy tomes on subjects of necromancy was the next room explored. The knowledge held within could include some certainly evil and disgusting practices. With an argument about what to do about them, the group adjourned to a darkened hallway in search of the body of Thousand Bones’ grandson.
Odric purposefully neglected to mention the torn apart pieces of the corpse to Kip. After all, the child might have nightmares already with all the talk of undead, midgets and constructs. Not to mention the Otyugh.
After we found a room with a dead man on a table, we resolved to move on to find a bedchamber with a powerful albino gnome within!
I delayed until after Ferox, in order to allow him to possible destroy the creature without engaging him in melee. This one was much tougher than the others, so that gamit failed. Grym extended with a fleche, trying to kill the creature with his sword. He hit, but the creature was resilient and the attack was not fatal. I was able to get close to the creature, but before I could attack it, the beast produced a wand and cast a spell called burning arc at Grym. The spell’s effects bouce and engulf Ferox as well. Without a sound, Gaius slipped under the bed, cruel dagger exposed.
Sandor rushed in to flank the creature, and at that moment I was able to strike!
Kip glances at The Eagle.
“Not with that,… with This!” Odric produces the Falchion he has been using with a flourish. The steel rings with a pleasing martial sound and the latern light dances on the blade like liquid fire.
“No swords in the house boys!“ comes the stern rebuke of a woman long used to having her kitchen destroyed by adolescent boys.
Odric winks, sheaths the weapon and continues his story.
With a fearsome slash, I gashed a huge wound into the creature’s side. It was at that moment when I decided to start using this weapon over The Eagle in adventuring.
The creature lived through my assault. Ferox shot at it with an arrow, but the arrow went wide. Gaius, seizing the initiative, rolled under the bed the creature was standing on and decided to stab it through the filthy straw stuffed mattress. But the creature hurled a small scrap of its robe into the corner, which sprouted into a zombie in the most fascinating manner. The zombie of course commenced attacking us, as zombies are wont to do.
Kip nods sagely at this.
Several swings and misses followed, with arrows clattering off the wall, axes shredding the blood soaked mattress. As I continued the assault, the creature cast a sphere of darkness that engulfed the room. As I attacked it, the zombie was continuing its own attack on my back. Surrounded, I knew there was only one option. I had to kill the creature. Sandor finally finished it, leaving the remaining enemy, a nasty, drooling zombie, to face the group alone.
The automaton was mindless in its attacks. It was relentless, but largely ineffective.
Between Ferox’ arrows, Grym’s sword and my falchion, we felled the creature in short order. We looted the area, gaining a ring of protection, a masterwork dagger, several vials of poison, a spellbook and a mysterious Robe of Bones.
We crawled through the blackness for what seemed like hours, Gaius and Sandor used their particular skills to locate and uncover several secret doors. We found that the complex was indeed just that. With time running low to locate Thousand Bones’ kin, we began to wonder if we would ever find him.
The secret passage we were walking along eventually opened into a large cavern. This foul-smelling cavern was bordered on three sides by ten-foot-deep pits. It was from these pits that the rancid smell of excrement and decay filled the air—each pit contained a few heaps of moldy straw, a wooden trough of filthy water, a few rotting body parts, and a couple still-living prisoners.
Beyond was a disgusting…man?… His face was covered in tumors and his gait looked more like the undead, but he seemed to be mumbling to himself. The man stood nearly 7 feet tall, and if we had discovered that one of his parents was an ogre, we wouldn’t have been surprised…. He was unaware of our intrusion.
We drew weapons with pity in our hearts for the prisoners, anger on our brows and fury in our guts. Morkeleb tried to put the filthy creature to sleep magically, but when that failed, battle was joined!
Ferox stood back and out of the way of the entrance, providing a clear path to the creature within.
Ferox gathered Abadar’s rage at this creature’s transgressions against the people of Korvosa into focused intent for the creature’s demise. He cast Wrath upon it.
He pointed at the creature. "Your blasphemies end today, vile one. With that the Inquisitor Invoked his Justice Judgment.
The inquisitor’s entreatment to Abadar came from between clenched teeth. For a brief moment his eyes flashed. His corded forearm muscles rippled as they gripped his bow. He had a clear shot between his comrades.
“Cabbage Head” as we came to call this unfortunate but evil denizen, snarled and charged me,
“I throw you DOWN!” The macabre growths on his face made his words hard to understand, but their meaning was plain. A fist like a rock, and covered in scabs descends down towards my temple
Leaner and more battle-tuned than I was a month or two ago dodged the blow easily. The massive form blocked the narrow passage into the room, but the brute utterly ignored the chosen of Calistria and the ranger. The battle was crowded and the stench of combat and determination assaults the senses.
Sandor was mad that he stood behind everyone and made everyone aware of the situation. Loudly.
“Blast ye lads keepin a dwarf in ‘is prime tha farthest from the fight. I swear ya must be jealous or sumtin. I’m commin through so make way”
Sandor took off in a quick burst getting up a full head of steam. Then at the last second he saw me doing a fancy flourish with his sword. It was one he had seen me use in practice, and knew that it ends up with a kick to the groin area so Sandor dives forward using his shield as a skid plate. He let me kick him square in the bum, shoving him through the Half Ogre’s legs. As he went underneath me, he swung his axe into the back of Cabbage Head’s leg to stop and yank himself back standing.
Sandor’s swing struck a particularly tough tumor, and it was difficult to determine if it hurt the brute at all. What it really did, however, was provide the distraction that I needed to connect. I just barely snuck one by and landed a hit on an unprotected part of Cabbage Head’s body. He responded, “Gah slither dorf not fight fair!" Even as wound slurry splashes on my face, the foe registers the wound as nothing more than an annoyance.
The disgusting disease-filled blood and guts on my face nearly made me cry.
Kips laughed aloud at this point in the story, clearly enjoying the visual.
Morkeleb asked, “What manner of creature is this, who withstands a blow such as that?? Let’s see what can be done here . . .”
On the assumption that a creature this tough and strong likely doesn’t have a keen enough mind to have strong willpower, Morkeleb fell comfortably into his own strength, at long last—enchantments.
“I don’t fight fair either, beast! Let’s start with . . .” The wizard began.
A quick word and flourish of his staff brought about a burst of green light focusing first on the staff’s headpiece, then in a tightly focused burst in front of Cabbage Head’s eyes.
Gaius tried to sneak his rapier between the misshapen beast’s ribs to tickle its spleen, but the attack went wide. Grym slashed with his sword, laying open the creature’s flank and Ferox’s wrath infused attack with an arrow paid off. The Inquisitor drove the arrow deep into Cabbage Head’s neck. The brute finally succumbed to the wounds and dropped to the floor, his innards now mostly his outards….
We turned our attentions to the prisoners in the pits, eventually escorting four unfortunates out of the tunnel complex and to safety. They were grateful for our food, water, words of encouragement and protection.
One key thing we learned from the rescued slaves, there was a carrion golem in the caverns somewhere. Morkeleb painted a fearsome picture of the golem with his words, and we all feared greatly. Nonetheless we reentered the caverns, determined to complete our mission.
Grym began in a poetic voice, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” I chimed in with a spontaneous reply, “For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in Korv’sa now abed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us in The Dead Warrens today.
We explored the complex thoroughly, poking in and out of secret doors, discovering filth and refuse everywhere. We inched our way to the final door. No new secrets revealed themselves on the way. As we approached the door, any hopes of a calm exploration went out the window. From beyond the door came deep and unnatural growls and grunts. Heavy footsteps inside shook the door on its hinges. Whatever was inside was extremely angry at something.
Gaius readied a tanglefoot bag in one hand and his rapier in the other. Gaius hangs back, northwest of the door. He motioned his head to me, Sandor and Grym as the melee fighters to begin.
“I’m ready to dance. Would one of you gentlemen please start the music?” he asked.
I threw open the door. Beyond stood a disgusting amalgamation of dead animal parts lurching from the shadows. The foul-smelling pieces had been stitched together with thick black thread in a shape to approximate that of a man, yet it was certainly not human. Cobbled together from bits of a dozen carcasses from half as many different species, the staggering shape uttered a gurgling cry as it shambled forth to attack. This was no flesh golem! The stench of this creature was utterly horrid. Though strong of gut, both Sandor and I both began to gag.
Sandor felt the wave of stench roll over and past him. His mind replayed the last several weeks of being around yours truly. He has himself almost convinced that my bowels have decayed and finally burst like a dead bloated body lying in the hot sun for a week.
“Lad I know ya don’t mean it, but in the future if’n ya feel like lettin one loose could ya please give a warning ta the short dwarf…”
his vision then focused on the amalgamation of parts that was trapped in this room and the visible waves of reek coming from it.
“… OOOOHHH sorry lad I just thought that umm err.. awww heck just get in there and lets take ’im apart at the seams!”
Morkeleb shouted, “HAVE A CARE!! This thing carries more diseases than I can spell!!”
Thinking fast, he continued, “try not to let this thing touch you! Use missile weapons if you can.”
He did not have to convince me! The thing was awful. With my eyes tearing and my gut roiling I missed my first swing. The creature missed me though, which was fortunate. Grym scored a hit, then darted out of range.
Gauis leaped into the fray, effectively surrounding the construct, and Ferox moved to the room’s doorway.
“You face Abadar’s Justice today, creature. Your miserable existence will soon be at an end.” The inquisitor intoned.
Ferox activates his Judgement magic and pulled back on his bow, hoping his aim was true and that he could bring the creature one step closer to destruction.
The creature swung its awful ‘fist’ at Grym and connected solidly. Grym rolled with the punch and found himself still fighting, but the diseases of the creature were a filthy scum that wiped off onto anything it touched.
I swung the falchion at it, causing innards and slime to tumble to the floor, but it counterpunched me in the chest, almost cracking my breastbone with the force of the blow.
Odric shows Kip the yellowing bruise to emphasize the force the creature used. Kips eyes widen and he winces at the extent of the trauma to Odric’s chest.
Grym breathed through his mouth, yet it didn’t seem to help. Instead of smelling the intense foulness, he could now taste it. Bile rising in his belly he danced forward to strike down the foul abomination. With keen footwork he fought defensively.
Gaius began an assault with thrown missile weapons to no good effect. His tanglefoot bag landed on the ground harmlessly. He readied another thrown weapon, looking for an opening.
Sandor was happy that his axe was biting deep into the creature. He saw his friends getting pummeled by the creature. In his mind this just won’t do.
“Ova here ya dumb lummox!!! Ole Sandor’s gonna unstich ya one swing at a time.” The dwarf shouted.
He swung his shield up bashing the construct in the chin. As he reared back from the force of the blow the dwarf delivered a vicious chop meant to decapitate it at the stitchings on the neck. Sandor missed with the axe by the narrowest of margins. The creature regained its bearings and prepared to fight on, mindlessly.
I stood my ground, despite being seriously wounded. I swung mightily at the monstrosity. I took careful aim, lined up his blade with a festering crease in the construct’s body and unleashed on it.
Morkeleb cried out, “Odric! Step back! Don’t be a fool!” The wizard could see the dire straights I was in, could tell I was near death and another solid hit might put me in the grave.
“Pour it down my bloody gullet when I fall wizard!” I replied, not taking my eyes off the construct for a moment.
Ferox’s arrow flew wide to the right. I again sliced the creature. It was nearly cut to ribbons by this point. With no thought, it lashed back at me. I nimbly dodged just in the nick of time before Grym’s blade came over the top!
Gryms sword fell short, but his dagger landed true, poking through the golem’s lead leg.
Gaius saw this as the perfect opportunity to toss his bottle of alchemist’s fire into the melee. It shattered, unfortunately it caught Grym aflame and burned him badly.
Sandor hacked the air beside the golem’s head to no effect other than fanning the flames on Grym and wafting stench around the room.
Then, the Inquisitor finished it. With a final arrow, Ferox dealt the final blow. The arcane magics holding the pieces together unraveled and the monster was no more. Grym continued to burn from the alchemist’s fire, gritting his teeth as he stopped, dropped and rolled before it finally went out.
We discovered the body of Thousand Bones’ grandson lying in the room, unattended.
Odric was unwilling to mention that throughout the adventure in the Dead Warrens, thye group had been collecting pieces of the dead boy and assembling them. He feared the young Kip would be too frightened. In hindsight, the whole tale was rather terrifying and Kip would likely get little sleep and be tormented by nightmares anyway. Oh well, the boy needs tales of heroes, villains and monsters to grow into a proper man. Next time, he will tell Kip about the necromancer Rolth who precipitated all this. The men had not found him, but had discovered his library, and were determined to learn more. Odric thought allowing Kip to think there was a dangerous necromancer at large might be too scary.
Odric finished in what he hoped was a more calming vein.
We cleaned the body and presented it in a dignified manner to Field Marshall Kroft, thus averting a small scale war with the Shoanti. We were well rewarded and the Field Marshal sent us to some well-deserved rest.
“The end. Now go to sleep!”
Odric blew out the candle and left the young boy sweating and terrified under his rough blankets. As the shadows became golems, and the bedbugs biting his tender skin became skeletons’ claws, the boy lay frozen in terror for many hours, until exhaustion overcame him and his dreams were of a dark and frightening nature.