Episode 9 - Horned Hold, Part II

The Horned Helm – Freeing the Help:

Duergar

At both the north and south ends of the smith’s workshop stood a set of double doors. Carefully listening and peeking through the northern door, Woodie and Paelias found one of the bridges across the chasm. Checking the southern door, a tunnel beyond appeared to lead to the next bastion.

“I say we block the door to the bridge and head to the other tower before crossing the chasm” Balomir suggested.

“Good idea,” Tempest replied, “this anvil should do the trick.”

Once the bridge door was safely blocked, the party made its way down the tunnel to the second bastion.

Passing through another set of double doors, the party entered a hallway with three sets of doors in front of them and another set of double doors around a corner.

“Let’s check the door on the left first” advised Tempest.

Listening at the door, Woodie heard nothing. Peering inside, Paelias saw that the room was a sleeping chamber. Several straw mats lay on the floor. A fire burned brightly in the hearth.

Moving through the room, the party inspected another door on the far side. Peering through, Paelias spotted two humans dressed in dirty, torn clothing.

Upon entering the room, the humans cowered and moved away. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” they asked in frightened voices.

“We won’t hurt you,” Galt spoke in his easy, friendly way, “we’ve come from Winterhaven to find and release abducted townsfolk. What are your names, friends? Where are you from?”

“My name’s Arum,” one of the slaves said meekly, “we’re from Fallcrest.”

“I’m Bessa,” the other slave spoke, “we’ve been here for months, hoping somebody would come to save us.”

“You’re free to go now” Galt said.

“Our friend, Calder, is in that room,” Arum said, pointing to a door on his left, “he’s serving food to Rundaar and some other duergar.”

“We won’t leave without him,” Bessa added.

“Who is Rundaar?” asked Tempest.

“He’s one of the leaders here,” Arum replied.

“He’s the meanest of them all; he beats us if we don’t obey him” said Bessa.

“Do you know where the other slaves are?” Paelias asked.

“They’re on the other side of the chasm” replied Arum.

“And what’s behind these other doors?” Balomir asked.

“They’re storage rooms” replied Bessa.

Turning to his fellow adventurers, Paelias whispered “what do you guys think, should we trust them?”

“Aye. They’re terrified,” Balomir spoke, “I don’t think they’re lyin’ tae us.”


The Horned Helm – The Dining Hall

Moving back to the main hallway, the party stood outside a set of double doors leading to the dinning hall.

“Open the doors quietly and I’ll blast them to pieces” Woodie suggested.

Gaining the element of surprise, the party rushed into the room. The expansive chamber did appear to be some kind of dining hall. Three large tables were arranged on the floor and against the far wall, a fire crackled in a large fireplace. Two duergar sat finishing their meals. Near a small door to the party’s left stood a human wearing tattered clothes and carrying a tray of dirty dishes.

“Who in the Nine Hells are you lot?” yelled one of the duergar, “you’ll pay for interruptin’ Rundaar’s dinner.”

With that, both duergar retrieved their warhammers and readied for combat.

Attempting to circle around behind one of the duergar, Tempest tried to jump over one of the tables but as he stepped on the bench, it slid out from under him and he slammed against the table with a loud thud.

“Ha! Smooth move, ya ugly, blue bastard!” laughed Rundaar “I’ll make sure tae kill you last.”

Moments later, Arum and Bessa could be heard screaming in fright from the hallway. “There’s more coming!” Bessa warned before the two of them and their friend Calder ran back into their quarters.

Moving into the dinning hall, Woodie shut the doors behind her in an attempt to slow down the reinforcements coming down the hall. Seconds later, the doors burst open and three more duergar joined the fray, two armed with crossbows, the other with a warhammer.

Raising her wand, Woodie invoked a cloud of nauseating vapours that surrounded the newcomers, obscuring their vision and making them gag at the retched smell.

The rest of the party concentrated their attacks on Rundaar. The brute took hit after hit with little ill effect until Galt, channelling the darkness of the void, blasted him with his powerful magic.

“You worthless little shit!” Rundaar bellowed, “I’m gonna rip you in half !” As he spoke these words, Rundaar’s features distorted and the vile duergar grew taller and wider, at least twice his normal size; pushing Tempest backwards in the process.

Meanwhile, the duergar in the cloud of revolting odour stepped forward and continued attacking the party. With a quick wave of his hand, Galt pushed three of the creatures back into the enveloping mist with a blast of eldritch power. “Suffer the stench!” he called out.

Surrounded and taking hits from all sides, Ruundar lashed out with his massive warhammer, smashing each of the party members within reach. One mighty swing connected with Paelias, knocking the nimble warrior to the ground. The situation looked grim for the party.

“Come on laddie, get off yer arse!” boomed Balomir, inspiring his fallen comrade to open his eyes. Reaching down his large calloused hand, divine healing energies radiated towards the eladrin, closing his wounds and restoring his vitality.

Returning to the fight, Paelias quickly dispatched the duergar nearest him. With that, the tide of the battle turned and one by one, the rest of duergar fell to the party’s attacks until there were none left standing.

As the party recovered from the fight, Paelias quickly searched the fallen duergar. “Not much of value here” he shrugged, “except this key Rundaar was carrying,” he added as he held up a rusted, iron key.

“His greaves seem to be radiating some magic as well,” Woodie noted. “Balomir, what do you make of these dwarven runes etched in them?”

“Ahh, I’ve seen greaves like this before,” Balomir replied. “They’re usually given tae friends o’ the dwarves in honour of deeds done tae help the dwarven empire. They’ve been infused wi’ the energies of the stone an’ earth. There’s nary a creature alive that can move ya when yer wearin’ em.”

“Those could come in handy,” said Tempest.

With the sounds of battle ended, the three human slaves dared to peer out from their hiding place.

“You’ve done it, you’ve killed them all!” Arum smiled.

“Here, take these weapons and make your way back to the Seven-Pillared Hall,” Woodie told them.

All three gave thanks to the party and, taking up warhammers and crossbows, made their way back to freedom.

After making sure the freed slaves were on the right track, the party continued its exploration of the Helm.

Moving through the next set of doors, the party entered a large ruined hall that might once have been a trophy room of some kind. On one side of the door stood the stuffed and mounted form of an octopus-headed creature in black robes. On the other side stood a stuffed lizard like monster with eight legs and large golden eyes. The features of the trophies showed signs of decay. Several other more mundane trophies lay in heaps on the floor.

The doorway to the north led to the second bridge across the chasm. Carefully peeking out, Paelias was able to see that on the other side of the bridge stood the other fortress. The bridge ended at wooden double doors reinforced by iron bands. Watching carefully, he noticed a flicker of movement from a couple of small openings in the double doors. The light beyond revealed a silhouetted form raising a crossbow and taking aim.

“They’re watching the bridge,” Paelias informed the rest of the party, “they’ll cut us down with crossbows before we get across.”

“I’ve got an idea” Galt said with a twinkle in his eye, “here’s what we do…”


The Horned Helm – Crossing the Bridge

Hoisting Ruundar’s lifeless form between them, Balomir and Tempest followed Galt onto the bridge.

As they started their way across, Galt began calling out, “Help!” he yelled, “Ruundar’s hurt, he needs help. Open the doors. We need to get him inside.”

The two duergar didn’t quite know what to make of the halfling as he approached. But they recognized Ruundar being assisted by the dwarf and blue-skinned man. Unsure what to do but fearing Ruundar’s wrath if they hesitated, the watchmen quickly threw open the gate.

“Stand back ya bloody fools,” Balomir barked at the guards.

Stepping aside to let the pair of adventurers past was the last mistake these duergar would ever make. Quickly scanning the area, the adventurers spot two statues depicting stern-looking female minotaurs in ornate gowns standing to the left of the doors. The two duergar manning the gate are accompanied by a pair of strange clockwork mechanisms resembling crossbows on articulated legs.

As soon as they were well inside the guard room, Tempest flung the corpse he carried at the nearest guard, knocking him from his feet. Balomir pulled out his axe and engaged the other while Galt signalled for Paelias and Woodie to make their way across the bridge.

The two crossbow contraptions backed away from the doorway and began peppering the party with volleys of bolts.

Moments after engaging the guards, another duergar emerged from an adjoining room. Behind him stood a spell casting theurge who blasted the party with a hail of fiery brimstone.

Pressing with all their might, the party quickly dropped the duergar and their unnatural crossbow constructs.

Searching the adjoining rooms, Paelias found an iron chest at the foot of a bed. Using Ruundar’s key, the lock clicked open. Inside, he found a small bag of gold coins and three pretty red rubies. “Thanks, Ruundar” he said with a chuckle.

Episode 9 - Horned Hold, Part II

Terror of Nagash AndyH