Terror of Nagash
Episode 12 - Interlude In the Seven Pillared Hall
Return To The Seven-Pillared Hall:
With the released slaves following behind, the party made its way back to the Seven-Pillared Hall and straight to the Halfmoon Inn..
“Ah, my friends, its good to see you’re back, and all in one piece, no less. I trust your mission went w—wwell look what the cat dragged in?” spoke Rendil with a glare at Noluck, before coming over to give him an awkward hug and a slap on the back. “I figured you for dead my old friend, but I’m very glad to see you’re not. And I guess its a good thing I kept your junk, I mean things, after all.” Sizing Noluck up with a quick glance, “You look dead, well, mostly dead anyway. But then you didn’t look much better the last time I saw you.”
“I feel mostly dead, but its good to be back among the living. As happy as I am to see you Rendil, I’d be happier still if you had a mug of mead in your hand,” replied Noluck with a wry smile.
“So what the heck happened to you?” Rendil asked as he went behind the bar for the required mug.
Scratching the back of his head, Noluck replied “Don’t know. Got jumped by those dirty dwarves I guess.” With a sideways look at his new companions, “found this lot in that duergar stronghold as I was about to make me leave.”
Among cries of protest and disbelief, Noluck slinked to the back of the Inn to collect his things.
“Now my friends, tell me what really happened,” said Rendil, “news of your deeds spread quickly but I’d love to hear it in your own words.”
After regaling their tale, the party asked about Noluck
“Ah, he’s been kicking around here for some time now. Helping out, here and there, you know? From what I’ve heard, Noluck has lived up to his name, failing to guard caravan after caravan, failing to protect those under his protection, and failing to fight off the lure of mead. Well, I guess he’s still lucky to be alive. If you can use his sword, then get him off the bottle, offer him a coin or two, and give him a reason to fight. Just get him out of my bar…even pissed drunk, he can take on every bouncer I’ve hired. I can tell you he’s got a good heart, and he’s a loyal friend, but I just can’t help him myself, and I hate to see him like this. Noluck has the air of destiny about him; I can just barely make it out under the stench of stale beer, but I assure you it’s there. If what I’ve heard of you lot is even half true, then this is a most fateful meeting indeed. Here, I’ll give you some coin to take him off my hands. Heck, I’ll even run him a bath… on the house.”
“Rendil, can you help us with these townsfolk we’ve released from the duergar?” asked Tempest, “they’ll be needing food and a place to rest before making their way back home.”
“I’ll make sure they’re well fed but your best bet for getting them home is to speak with Priestess Phaledra over at the temple of Erathis. She should be able to help.”
“Oh, I almost forgot… while you were away, a shadowy figure dropped off a message for you.”
As Rendil offered the message to the party, Noluck strolled across the room and casually took it from the halfling’s outstretched hand, “What’s this?”
“I was just telling your companions that this note was left for…”
“Oh, a note for me? I’ve only just joined the party and I’m already getting fan mail”, interjected Noluck as he ripped open the wax seal, and began to read aloud:
Your actions against the duergar are commendable. I am in a position of power in the evil organization behind the duergar’s actions, and I wish to help you defeat my comrades. I have been seeking a way out of the organization, and I believe you can help me. Follow the attached map so that we can meet in secret.
“What did this person look like?” asked Tempest.
“I didn’t get a good look at his face, he wore a hooded cloak that hid him well,” replied the halfling.
“Huh, that’s funny, it’s not signed. Oooh, nice map though,” Noluck added as he unfurled a map showing a small chamber off the Road of Shadows just outside the Seven-Pillared Hall. “Blighmy, he doesn’t say when I’m to meet him. I’ll go once I’ve had another drink.”
“I’m pretty sure this message is meant for all of us” replied Sting.
“Well then, we should go as soon as we can, lest we keep him waiting,” Noluck suggested between sips of his mead.
“HE could just as easily be a SHE. And SHE is setting a trap for us”, shrugged Woodie. “But what do I know, I’m just a genius.”
“It’s obviously a trap,” added Paelias.
“Well, I don’t know…” replied Noluck, “HIS handwriting looks pretty honest to me.”
Ignoring the drunken knight’s opinion, Balomir turned to the rest of the party, “Well lads, it looks like we’ve two options; search for this wizard Paldemar or follow this map into a trap.”
“We don’t have any good leads into Paldemar’s whereabouts,” Tempest spoke, “I say we follow the map and find out who this shadowy figure is.”
The rest of the party agreed.
Before heading out, there was business to take care of. Balomir, Paelias and Sting decided to visit the temple and make arrangements for getting the released slaves home while Woodie, Tempest and Galt would visit Gendar to return his sceptre.
“You lot go on ahead,” said Noluck between sips of a mead no one noticed him getting, “I’ve some unfinished business with the good Rendil’s bar.”
Gendar’s Curios and Relics:
Making their way across the Seven-Pillared Hall, Woodie, Tempest and Galt entered the Drow merchant’s shop; Gendar’s Curios and Relics.
“Well, well, the intrepid adventurers have returned. I’m pleased to see that you didn’t… lose your way in the Labyrinth,” the merchant said with a smirk. “And I see you’ve found my stolen sceptre.”
Clutching the sceptre tightly in his hands, Galt stepped forward. “I really like this sceptre.”
“Yes, it is a beautiful piece, isn’t it?” Gendar said as he reached under the counter for a small leather purse.
“I mean, I really like this sceptre,” Galt repeated.
“Fine. Here’s 300 coins reward for bringing it back,” Gendar said as he dropped the purse on the counter.
“I don’t think I can part with it for a mere 300 coins,” replied the halfling. “I’ve really grown attached to it. I mean, I really, really like it. A lot. I don’t think I can let it go for a few coins,” the words tumbled out as he clutched the sceptre tighter and tighter; his knuckles turning white gripping at the wooden handle; his hands starting to shake.
“Easy does it halfling,” the drow said in bewilderment.
“THEY KNOW I’VE GOT IT! I CAN HEAR THEM TALKING! THEY’RE WATCHING ME!” Galt burst out excitedly, his entire body shaking and trembling. Then hunching down low, clutching the sceptre close, eyes darting back and forth, whispering “I am the keeper of the cheese… and they know it.”
With wide eyes, Woodie and Tempest slowly backed away from the deranged warlock.
“OK, OK! I’ll give you this necklace! It will protect your mind from their prying eyes and calm your nerves,” the drow trader said as he held out a necklace made of chicken bones.
“Yeah, sure. That looks great! Here’s your sceptre,” Galt calmly said while taking the offered necklace and handing over the sceptre, adding “this gold should come in handy too,” as he picked up the purse and tucked it into his robes.
“Uhm, yeah, so… can you tell us anything about the Mages of Saruun?” Tempest asked the merchant while keeping one eye on Galt.
“I’m afraid I have no more information now than I did the last time you asked and I believe I will ask you and your companions to leave now as I’m very busy,” replied the flustered drow as he pointed towards the door.
Walking Into A Trap:
The party arrived at the location indicated on the map. Peering inside, they saw it was a natural cave with a 10-foot-high ledge running around its interior perimeter. Several large boulders crowded the area.
“I don’t know, Paelias,” said Noluck, “it looks kinda cozy to me. I bet he’ll offer us a hearty stew and all the ale we can drink. He’s probably invited all his friends to meet us too. Reminds of that time I saved a village from the River Trolls that were eating all their babes. Boy, was that a party! Folks sure knew how to show a hero a proper welcome back then. Fathers would offer their daughters left and right, and didn’t get all prickly when you’d drop the twins back five weeks later ‘all with child’ and what not.”
Rolling her eyes, Woodie said “It’s awfully quite in there.”
“Oh, you’re right. It must be a surprise party… Ok everyone, try to act surprised. Ooo, I LOVE surprise parties.”
At first, there was no sign of anyone waiting to greet the adventurers but as the party moved further into the cave, two creatures were spotted hiding behind the boulders. Standing over 9 feet tall, they appeared to be statues of minotaur warriors cast from tarnished bronze. Their limb’s were articulated, and a fiery light burned in the black orbs of their eyes. Before the party had a chance to react, three Tiefling heretics sprung out of hiding and attacked.
It’s a trap!
Flames burst from the fingers of the closest two heretics, engulfing Balomir in fire.
With incredible strength, one of the bronze warders began to push a massive boulder towards the party in an attempt to crush them and seal them in the cave. The other warder advanced towards the party. As the creatures moved, their limbs scraped and squealed with a hollow, metallic sound.
Quickly moving out of the boulder’s path, Galt, Woodie and Paelias all teleported to the perimeter ledge. Tempest climbed up behind them.
The heretics continued blasting the party with balefire.
One of the bronze warders charged into Noluck and Balomir, pushing Noluck into the hallway and knocking him to the ground.
Staggering back to his feet and swinging at the warder, Noluck taunted the mechanical beast “what, that all you got? I’ve been hit harder by a stiff drink.”
Calling upon his eldritch power, Galt brought forth the event horizon, a zone of unspeakable darkness that surrounded the heretics. As the rush of energies passed through him, the chicken bone necklace Gendar had given him shattered into a thousand shards.
Woodie used her magic to call forth a giant hand that grasped one of the heretics, immobilizing and crushing it.
As the battle progressed, the heretics continued to blast the party with balefire but one by one, the adventures dispatched each of them.
With the heretics out of the way, the party focused their attention on the bronze warders.
One continued to push Noluck further into the hall, eliciting taunts from the stumbly knight each time; “That’s right, tin man, just keep coming. We’ll just take a little walk out of here. Get some fresh air. No need to worry about your friends. They’re being taken care of”
Again and again the mechanical creatures brought their massive axes to bear but they were outmatched by the adventurers.
Paelias’ dagger, Tempest’s sword, Balomir’s axe, Woodie’s arcane magic and Galt’s eldritch powers quickly brought the first warder to the ground.
The final construct had pushed Noluck completely into the hallway.
“Its all right guys, I’ve got this one. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m hardly hurt at all. Just a few more good swings and we’ll be able to sell his innards to the town tinker.”
Time and again, the adventures struck the creature until finally, after what seemed like hours, it collapsed to the ground.
“Good grief,” Noluck started, “look at these Tieflings. They’re all missing an eye and a hand.”
“We’ve seen their type before,” responded Woodie.
“Servants of Nagash,” Sting added.
“And it was a trap, Sir Knight,” Tempest spoke accusingly to Noluck.
“Alright, alright. I’ll admit it. I was wrong. It was a trap. He must have tricked an honest person into writing the note for him. Boy, when I get my hands on the bastard, I’ll giv’m a thrashing he’ll not soon forget. Lots of pain, not like these quick deaths you kids are into these days. Lots of pain, I say.”
Moving quickly over the Tiefling corpses, Paelias uncovered a small satchel containing a scroll case with three scrolls inside. The first scroll read:
|I don’t care how you do it, but deal with these adventurers. Take two of the bronze warders if you must. If they remain in the Labyrinth, they could disrupt my plans. Once you’ve dealt with them, deliver their bodies to our gnoll friends, along with the enclosed scroll.
The second scroll had a wax seal bearing an ornate letter “P”. It read as follows:
To Maldrick Scarmaker, Exalted Chieftain of the Blackfangs and Chosen of Yeenoghu:
Paldemar offers you the corpses of these champions as a gift of ongoing friendship, that our arrangement might continue to be mutually beneficial. May you savour their blood.
Your friend and ally, Paldemar
The final scroll was a map of the Labyrinth with directions to the Well of Demons, which was circled and marked with the words “Blackfangs”.
“Looks like we should pay a visit to these gnolls,” Paelias spoke.
“Aye, laddie,” agreed Balomir.
“We should rest here for a while before heading into their lair,” suggested Tempest.
“Can you conjure up something for us to drink, my dear wizard friend,” asked Noluck.
Rolling her eyes yet again, Woodie prepared to call forth a traveler’s feast.