Of drinking and fighting
Our story begins, as most good stories do, with a strong ale and a warm fire…
In the “dirty vixen”, a friendly place run by one Carish O’Toole, Sit 3 strangers; each one keeping to themselves, nursing a pint and pondering the world in their own way. Carish is happy to have them, times are lean and gold is in short supply, He’s putting on his best “jolly fat man” act to keep them happy, all the while trying to figure out how to wring as much coin from their purses as possible.
the regulars are no help, the Donelly brothers; Greth, Murk and Sten, who spend more time in this place than in their own home, have a tab bigger than their combined monthly earnings and little motivation to pay it, but Carish tolerates them since they give the place an atmosphere; Without them, the tavern would be empty on most nights.
The Strangers are as different as can be, the first a vile little gnome by the name of Ortis Hjalmarsson more commonly known as “Pisser” for his unpleasant habit of urinating on things that irritate him (which is most things).
In the opposite corner, a half-orc, goes by the name Nadakh. A race not known for piety, this one seems to have eschewed his heritage and taken an ascetic path, clothed only in the most basic garb and clearly meditating, he is calm and centered but looking at the size of him, you wouldn’t want to see him any other way.
Finally we come to the half-elf, although the elven side of him doesn’t extend to grooming, he looks like he’s seen better days. With a thick stubble on his chin and hair to his shoulders in desperate need of a comb, Dai Jones (Rook to his friends) sits poring over arcane text occasionally producing a pretty array of sparks from his hands. Carish eyes him warily, after all, you wouldn’t want him accidentally burning the place down…
The place falls silent as the door opens and all eyes turn to the new arrival. A graceful Elvish lass, on the surface a harmless young lady, but with a fire in her eyes belying her true nature, a hardened wildling and adventurer. Kalisa carries with her the air of the forest and the scent of animal musk.
As Kalisa is ordering a drink, the door to the tavern is flung open with some force, almost tearing the hinges from the wall. Two unpleasant looking men, the first with eyes like daggers and the physique of a malnourished gymnast, the second an apelike fellow with a glazed look in his eyes barge their way to the bar, sending chairs and tables skittering across the tiles.
“Oi! Carish you maggot! time to pay up” The heavies voice booms across the tavern.
“I’ve told you before, I don’t have any money and even if I did, it wouldn’t be going to you!” The jolly façade now dropped, Cavish has all the presence of a dwarven warrior; He pulls a club from under the counter and hefts it toward the bar. However he is stopped in his tracks when the weasley thugs grabs Kalisa and puts a dagger to her throat.
At this, the regulars hide, Rook and Nadakh decide they are honor bound to intervene, though Kalisa needs neither the assistance or pity and swiftly escapes from her captor. In the ensuing brawl (which pisser gladly ignores as he sups his pint) a third thug appears from the basement and while the other two are left a bloody smear on the counter, our friends keep this one alive for information.
They begin to question the squat hoodlum, but he looks extremely twitchy, even for someone who has just witnessed the vicious bludgeoning of their cohorts and after some ‘delicate’ coercion he indicates that he was up to no-good in the basement and they should leave as soon as possible.
Curiosity gets the better of the patrons and they force the bandit to show them what he was up to. He leads them down the stair, extremely reluctantly, to an alcove where an alchemical device, to the untrained eye a bottle of fire, appears to be ticking and it doesn’t take long for everyone to realise they should have left some time ago.
Sprinting to the exit, tearing the door open and diving to the cobbled street outside, the ragtag bunch barely make it outside, their clothes edged with still smouldering embers. Carish stands, takes a breath, and his face drops as he realises the Donelly boys were still inside…
Leaving little time to grieve for the loss of his regulars (and their unpaid debt), Carish is manhandled by a tall, uniformed man.
“What have you done O’Toole?” he yells, spittle flying from his bellowing maw. Carish defiantly stares the man down and after tense moments, nods in the direction of the bound bandit. The head of the city guard introduces himself, releases Carish and suddenly changes his demeanour.
“Well now, Someone finally caught one of the bastards! are you four responsible for this?” he directs his question primarily to Ortis, judging him to be the ‘muscle’ of the party from the weaponised hammer strapped to his back.
Ortis grunts, “Fuck you lookin’ at, pig?” he snarls, spitting on the ground. Nadakh sighs and interjects “Yes officer, he was trying to rob the tavern, his companions are… well, we left them in multiple pieces before this one blew the place up”
After some discussion, the watchman requests that the 4 take their captive to the city gaol, to be interrogated. Turns out, his boss has been terrorising the town for months and at the same time, random animal attacks have increased exponentially, the watch is too stretched to deal with both. A few cross words and a promise of gold later, the party accept the task and head off down the street with the bandit in tow.
Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. The natives are running, screaming, away from the city gate. After swiftly securing their bandit to a nearby building, the four race to see what the trouble is, when they arrive at the gates however, they see something none of them expected. A battle is taking place outside of the city, another animal attack; but these aren’t ordinary animals… Undead hounds are besieging the city alongside a megaraptor, The huge lizard, easily tearing through the armour of the watchmen and the carcass eaters living up to their names, tearing the still living wounded to pieces.
The head of the watch, directing the battle, indicates ballistae on the fortified walls, one of which is immediately manned by Nadakh, while Kalisa and Rook take up a vantage point on the wall and Pisser runs headlong into the fray. Nadakh looses a bolt, which tears a large gash in the flank of the ancient beast and it turns away from the massacred militia and begins cutting a swathe of destruction toward the monk.
Rook lets fly a torrent of fire and other arcana, scorching the battlefield, while Ortis grapple with two of the unholy hounds. Kalisa takes a more measured approach and after preparing her animal companion, leaps down and the pair swiftly dispatch a dog.
As the giant raptor reaches the gate, Nadakh is struck with a righteous fury, and leaps heroically onto the neck of the great beast. His mighty fists burst through the enormous skull and the dinosaur collapses to the floor, with pisser and his opponent still locked in battle. Pisser, enraged by the pain in his crushed pelvis and legs screams a bloodraged battle cry and the hound is shaken to the core. Realising that neither of them will come out of this in a healthy state, it submits to Pisser and ceases it’s attack.
Still filled with the adrenaline of battle however, Kalisa directs her fox to tear the paralyzed canine’s throat out, which it dutifully does. Pisser, for once showing an emotion other than rage, mourns the loss of a potential companion.
The journey begins
Our “heroes”, still freshly bloodied, are approached by the guard captain once again, an offer of luxurious lodgings are made as recompense for their assistance. So while the bandit is taken to his cell and Pisser heads off to find a “friend” for the night at the local brothels, the party settle down for the night in lavish apartments.
The next morning, fully rested, they awake to find breakfast prepared for them and a note from the lord of the lands, requesting their presence. So after eating their fill, they head out to the lord’s chambers, a large palatial estate at the north of the city. All apart from Pisser, who of course decides there are better things to do, until a guardsman reminds him that there is likely to be money involved.
The lords appearance surprises everyone, they were expecting perhaps and elf, or a highborn human, however this lord is not only a dwarf but a duergar. The deep dwarves are known for xenophobia and barbarity, but this one is civil and well mannered to a fault. He offers the party a tantalising reward: 10,000 gold for the death of the bandits leader. Unfortunately so little is known about him that all the lord can be sure of is that the thugs refer to him as “Big Boss” and so the party head to the prison, to extract information from the captive bandit.
After a length session of “coercion”, the bandit, barely concious provides the group with the location of a hideout, it seems that the boss is solitary man with little guard “unless the little maggot was lying” snorts a guard as the party leave the confines of the prison, ignoring the sounds of screaming coming from the bandits cell…
After four days of travel and a goblin attack or two en route, the slightly more bonded team (and Pisser who insisted on ringing his blasted bell for the whole trip) arrive at the mouth of the cave, it seems awfully quiet to be the home of a powerful crimelord.
They enter carefully, but soon realise that they have walked into a trap. The floor is slick with ooze and as they fall down the sloped entrance, it grows and shifts, forming a barrier around the exit.
The ground pulsates and bubbles, growing into tumorous masses with slither and squelch towards the group. Pisser does what he knows best and slams his hammer down onto the nearest pulsating boil, but it becomes stuck fast in the slime. Kalisa’s fox, eager to get into the fray tries to bite one of the lumps, but becomes stuck inside it, Rook manages to find his footing in the slippery goo and after some time lets loose gouts of flame which begins to melt the pustules.
Nadakh spends most of his time desperately trying to claw his way to his feet, flailing and falling at every attempt. Kalisa takes another tack however, and sits on the ground chewing on a mushroom. The sights she sees give her insight into the true nature of these creatures.
Blooded fangs bits and suck, as monstrous vampiric faces swirl and fade in front of her, She screams to the party “Be careful! they’re bloodsuckers!” but too late, as the other begin to feel the flesh of their ankles being ripped open.
After Rook manages to burn most of the ooze away, Pisser retrieves his hammer and stabs the boils with the pointy end, finally finishing them off. Kalisa grabs a vial of the ooze for later study and they move on.
Friend or foe?
As they enter a gaping cavern in the centre of the sprawling underground complex, strange forces begin tugging and plucking at the skeins of their minds, voices urging them to kill their traitorous companions…
Kalisa was the first to fall to this insidious force, her mind so open to the world that it was easy pickings for the puppetmaster. Shortly followed by Pisser, who begins spouting paranoid abuse at the “treacherous orc and useless human”. The two factions being brawling, fists, weapons, foxes and magic missiles fly around the cave, until, suddenly, the afflicted pair manage to fight their way back to sanity.
With the inner demons evicted, some unexpected knowledge about the true nature of this place is left behind, a remnant of the invader. The ooze is sentient but only by virtue of the fact that it had begun a symbiotic relationship with the mind of the “Big Boss”, his body left a shell somewhere in the cave.
After exploring for a short while, the four stumble upon an odd cloud of mystical energy blocking the way, they swiftly discover it is not harmful but has an odd effect on the surrounding objects. A ruby orb is place on a pedestal along with a key on one side, on the other lay another key and a lockbox.
The party soon figure out this sneaky little puzzle, for the only thing that can pass through the arcane field is the locked box and it’s content. when they place the orb in it, pass it through the field and the replace the orb on the opposing pedestal a door opens, allowing them to descend a staircase into the depths. At the base of the stairs, a crypt, ancient and occupied, awaits. But the dead do not rest easy here…
A nearby coffin bursts open, and the remains of a man who in life would have been a towering hulk, clambers out of the open casket and assaults the party.
Pisser and the fox soon massacre the undead monstrosity however, with the fox tearing our it’s rotten oesophagus for good measure. A short walk, and more blood bloated oozes later, the party reach their final destination, a huge circular cavern, the walls eaten away by the acidic ooze, with cells all around.
In the centre of the room, a man, or a man no longer. Big Boss, melded with the nucleic “heart” of the ooze. The opening is covered in thick mucoid strands, suffocating to anyone who dare try to flee. Huge phlegm tentacles sprout from the ground, pounding at the warriors who dare interfere. Pisser, ever the tactician, ploughs forwards, driven by primal rage he swings his hammer wildly at the still human part of the symbiote.
Rook, with wild disregard for the gnome, sends flaming pillars of death towards the same target while Kalisa, nervous about the safety of her pet, considers her actions carefully. Nadakh, meanwhile has used his keen senses to scan the area and spotted at the rear of the room a prisoner unlike the others.
This prisoner has a holy aura, perhaps a priestess of some kind? he sprints to her cell and tears at the great steel bars with his mighty strength and they slowly, but surely, give way. Pisser, entirly uanware of the blaze surrounding him, continues his assault, leaving naught but a bloody pulp where once a man stood. Kalisa and Rook have realised the power they wield since the ooze appears to have a weakness to fire, they set to work incinerating the vile corruption.