The Dwarven Halls and the Three Keys
Over the next few hours, Groschl & Zara, cook bat in wine and salt some for later, so all can eat and drink wine, they have a lot of it. While this is going on Roj, Broidren and Yehonala sleep. After four hours Roj is woken to cast Cure Fatigue on Broidren, one rescued elf and two who look to Groschl that they might be combat trained, restoring all the blood loss, Roj then goes back to sleep. After another five hours all three are woken, Roj casts Cure Fatigue on Julia, Yehonala, the other elf and two others chosen by Julia and the two fighters, restoring them to full health. Yehonala with restored magical strength and feeling fresh joins Broidren on watch, while Roj rests again. Groschl and Zara also sleep now. Boridren plays his pan pipes, badly, while on watch. The restored vampire victims now take over the preparation of the bats. After Groschl and Zara have slept for eight hours they take over watch duties while all the others rest for another nine hours. Groschl and Zara arm, with the captured equipment, the two fighter types and three volunteers with mail, spear, shield and sword. The remaining seven are given spears, with five also having a sword and shield.
So 26 hours later, they are all rested and back to full strength, they discuss what to do with the twelve? Take them back to Wildsgate or let them make their own way make. But that will alert Her Ladyship to the fact that they have all three keys. Use as reinforcements as they try to gain access to the Dwarf chamber. The twelve are split, six, the five armed ones and another, want to go to Wildsgate, three want to stay with the group and three are undecided. Groschl and then Broidren try to get some consensus using their influence, all they manage to do is end up with eight wanting to leave two wanting to stay and two undecided. Yehonala, calling upon her passion of loyalty for the republic calls on them all to work together and she convinces them all to stay with the group and work together. Yehonala looks over the silk and tapestries and wine and thinks about how much she can get for them, while wondering how to get it out of here. Groschl says they have to destroy everything they do not take with them, so as not to leave anything for a new group to start with. The two argue about it but the others back Groschl and they destroy all the riding gear, they pour salt into the wine and pour it over the silk and tapestries ruining them. They also make some torches from spear shafts, cloth and wine as well.
The very large group heads out of this part of the spires, crossing very carefully all three rope and wood plank bridges. Going over one at a time with Broidren ready to cast Feather fall if needed. As they cross each bridge Groschl cuts it so it falls hanging from the other side. Reaching the cave with the trapdoor, they climb down one at a time into the tunnels below, they light the torches and open up the continual light lantern. Yehonala casts detect magic to find the evil statue so it can be hidden from any new users of these caves. Having found it, Broidren goes invisible to hide it, so only he know where it is now hidden. He uses his thieves ability to conceal things to do this.
After around three hours of moving carefully they reach the outside again, Roj says its about three hours to daybreak so they camp briefly in the woods for four hours. At daybreak they head towards the ford below the falls lake to cross the river to the other side to be able to get back to the dwarven chambers to use the keys. Lead by the druid, Roj, and an invisible Broidren, who are both scouting ahead. Seeing nothing but birds and other animals in the area they all cross the river following Groschl with Broidren bring up the rear. He notices that they seem to be down five rescued persons, he tells the others and they scout around but they seem not to have been with the group when they reached the ford. In fact they snuck away at night while they group was camping. The group wonder why and where they have gone, will they end up being vampire food?
With the river crossed they head to the long steps leading to the falls and the way into the dwarven halls. Groschl has given Julia his magic spear so he can use his halberd. Julia is paired with Zara, using the magic crossbow, so she can give Zara the spear and shield when she needs it. When they reach the steps Broidren heads up to scout it out, still invisible. He goes as far as the falls and seeing nothing returns to report, then he goes back up the many steps with the others following. Groschl first, followed by Broidren and then three of the rescued then Roj, Zara and Julia, then Yehonala and finally the last three rescued. It is not a quite group nor very orderly with lots of chit chat between the rescued.
When they get to the falls, they are many calls of ‘O, so pretty’. Broidren goes through the falls, slowly. He sees movement behind the water and stops and goes back to the others and reports. He then heads back through the falling water, getting wet again, moving slowly he gets as close as he can to the edge of the water. There he can just make out a guard standing, leaning on his sword, at the slightly ajar doors into the halls.
SO what now?
Are Liah and Kos ready for them?
How will all the rescued effect the ability of the group to do its work?
What will the keys reveal?
Find out next time
While still watching the guard Broidren see’s the guard replaced by another one. At the same time two crossbow armed guards pass the door and head into the dark corners, as they do two others come from those corners and join the replaced guard in passing through the gap in the doors. Broidren has just seen the change of the guard and nearly ran into three or more guards rather than the one he thought wwas there. A near escape.
He goes back to the others the other side of the falls. gets there attention, he is still invisible after all, taking Groschl’s arm he leads them back down the steps until they can hear each other. Broidren explains the situation and they discuss and prepare. Roj casts Barkskin on Groschl, himself, Zara and Broidren, then Groschl, Zara and Yehonala go into the falls followed by Broidren and Roj.
As Yehonala gets to the edge of the water and sees the guards she casts sleep on them all. The main guard falls down but she can’t see the other two. She, Zara and Groschl step out of the water with Yehonala starting to prepare a fireball spell and the other two ready to defend her. As it turns out all three guards are fast asleep and the coup-de-grass to given to each. Broidren casts Dry on himself and then peers through the ajar doors to see what is behind.
The short corridor opens into a vaulted hall, the hall of dwarven heroes, the six pillars holding the roof are carved in the likeness of six dwarven heroes. This is the same as before as is the black pedestal in the centre of the area. A small brazier is now also in the top left with sleeping mats etc around it. The mats or at least some of them seem to be occupied. Broidren can also see Kos and another fighter stood watching the room, ready for action. Liah appears to be tending a pot plant.
Broidren rejoins the others and drops his invisibility, Again they plan, needing shout close to each other due to the sound of the falls booming in their ears. Roj casts Barkskin on Yehonala who casts Mirror Image on herself and then uses a mirror from her pack to see round the door. Broidren has to cast Dry to clean the mist off of it. With line of sight to the pedestal Yehonala casts Fireball  on to it. She is lucky as no one sees the mirror or hears her chanting and are surprised w hen the hall is filled with fire.
Groschl and Zara rush in. Groschl sees a unconscious Kos and finishes him off, while Liah whose leather armour has caught fire is finished by Zara as she asks for mercy. The area around the brazier is on fire with all the bedding etc going up in flames. After about 10 minutes the flames die down and they can see the burnt remains of the six bodies and a wolf. As they start to look around they hear a call from the passageway to the right. ‘We give up’. Groschl says, ‘chuck your weapons etc away’. The three guards throw their weapons and armour down the lift shaft and come out.
Broidren persuades them all to join him as per his passion to find out more about the humans for his patron. Groschl says, ‘fine but they are your responsibility, and I hold you responsible for their actions, I will be your trouble’. Broidren says, ‘fine’. They give the armour from Kos to the fighter amongst the three and they all find a weapon as well. Searching Liah they find another Sapphire Iron key. Yehonala says that Gnome….. recalling the Gnome in WIldsgate who they asked about the first sapphire key they had found. He copied it and then told me it was a fake gem when he gave me the copy. Someone is going to regret his actions. The one I have must be fake so I will keep it around my neck as a trophy. At least we now seem to have all three keys for this pedestal.
Broidren checks the pedestal for traps and does not think they are any and they insert the keys. Yehonala, Broidren and Groschl all turn the keys on a count of three. Click, Click, grind hiss and the floor to the left of the pedestal moves and opens revealing steps leading down into the darkness.
Collecting themselves together and telling Julia and the other rescued to stay they prepare to explore the darkness. Broidren as scout goes down first with his three followers, with torches, in tow, Yehonala, with lantern, Groschl and Roj follow around 20′ behind. The long hallway stretches on into darkness. The air is cool and the floor is slick with scum that thrives in shallow puddles. A steady rumble resonates from the ceiling. The river above says Yehonala. Broidren feels the flagstone move under his feet and then a click and a grinding sound. The sound of the river increases to a deafening sound.
Broidren leaps back other his followers, as Groschl, Roj and Yehonala turn to run back up the steps.
Icy water begins to trickle in from the ceiling, making the floor even more slippery. Broidren and his men try to run but they slip and fall.
The water is now flooding in, roaring into the passageway, with great force. Broidren fails to stand, the fighter does and forces against the flow to reach the steps, the other two are swept along by the flood.
The water is now half way up the passageway, Broidren stands and tries to keep above the water.
The water now fills 3/4 of the passageway and Broidren casts Shield and takes a deep breath. Yehonala standing on the steps sees Broidren being swept away.
With the passageway full of water the roaring stops as the ceiling closes. Broidren is swept to the end of the passage and stops when he lands at a iron door blocking the way. Broidren thinks he has less than half a minute before he needs to breath again.
He gets his lock picking tools from his very wet boot and quickly gets to work on the lock, rushing the job. He takes about 15 seconds and when the tumblers move he pushes the door open. Wooosh…… the water pours through the door smashing it open wide and dragging Broidren with it. Even though he tries to hold on.
He is bounced around as the water flows around two corners and down into a drain. He is smashed into the drain cover along with both his companions. As the water drains away, Broidren realises he has suffered badly even if he is still just alive. His chest hurts, broken rips? His abdomen hurts, broken bones? His left leg is at a funny angle. Beside him are his two followers, both looking just as bad.
As the waters drain away Roj, Yehonala and Groschl tie together three lengths of 30′ rope, Yehonala then casts Spider climb on to Roj, this will last around three minutes. Roj ties the rope around himself and leaves all his heavy kit behind. He then moves along the ceiling until he reaches Broidren. He sees that Broidren has broken ribs, broken hip, as well as badly bruised legs and arms, so he casts Cure serious wounds onto Broidren’s chest and abdomen and then uses his wand of minor healing to restore his legs and arms. One follower is dead the other Ben is in a bad way. Roj climbs back to the others leaving Broidren to deal with the trap, having tied the rope to him.
Broidren finds the slab which sets off the trap, sets it off and then jams it so it can’t reset. Groschl pulls Broidren back to the hall of heroes as the water enters the passageway. ‘What the hell!’ shouts Ben as the water pours in towards him. With the trap stuck open water keeps rushing in and rushing towards the drain, slowly the water level raises as the river water comes in faster than the drain can draw it away. As the water comes up the steps, our party realise that it will just keep coming and eventually flood the whole area. Have they just made it impossible to stay here and explore?
It desperation the tie the long rope to Groschl and he uses his big size and strength to wade through the waters to where the trap is stuck. Managing to keep his footing against the force of the flow he reaches the floor slab and getting hold of the dagger, which Broidren had pushed into it, he tugs and tugs and with some luck it comes free. With a grinding sound the water doors shut and the water stops rushing in, so now the drain can allow the water level to fall. Again the water levels drop and rush down the drain, leaving Ben and his mate dead by the drain.
With the water gone, Broidren, Roj, Yehonala, Groschl, Zara and the last of the new followers move down the passage pass the trap and the two bodies. There are some steps leading up from the drain into a funnel shaped room. A squat hinge-less iron door stands between two empty braziers decorated with images of dwarves warring against themselves. The face of the door is divided into six quadrants each quadrant is marked my a rune. The runes etched into the iron portal are the thunderbolt, axe, coin, hammer, gem and shield. Broidren checks for traps all over the area, which takes him a while, he finds none. Roj and Yehonala follow him looking for secret doors or any other things, Yehonala finds a hidden doorway in the right wall.
Deciding that this is a better way to go than try to open the iron door they send Broidren through it to check it out. Taking the never ending lantern Broidren moves into the passageway, moving slowly and checking each foot step before he makes it he covers 20′. Looking around he can see he is in a corridor with steps leading up just ahead of him which turn left after a small landing. However he also notices another secret door on the left at the bottom of the step. With the others moving into the passageway behind him he moves through this new door. Again moving very slowly and checking carefully he moves along this new passageway. which seems to end with a turn to the right and steps downwards. As he gets to the junction he can see that the steps down are blocked with rubble but the turn is clear.
This passage leads into a chamber with steps up to a dais filling the whole of its side. Again Broidren is very careful checking everywhere. He sees the short stone dais rises at the back of the chamber. Atop the dais rest a pair of the largest iron coffers he has ever seen! with there lids open and gold coins showing. An inscription is etched into the base of the dais. Broidren with his careful search finds a loose flagstone which he checks for traps. He than lifts the slab up and can see a 10′ drop into a narrow tunnel and runs west. He calls the other s who come and join him, Groschl reads the etching, by the power of his helm. ‘Two Loyal Sons. Two Royal Sums’. It must refer to the warfare of the different clans here. Broidren then checks the coffers for traps and find none, which surprises them.
Broidren being much the smallest is lowered down the shaft and with the lantern, leaving the others in the dark, moves along on his hands and knees. after about 10′ the shaft opens into a musty vault. The ceiling is scarcely high enough for a human to kneel upright, it feels like a thousand tons of earth and rock are ready to come crashing down. The furthest reaches of this rough chamber are shrouded in dust and shadows. Against the back wall he can barely make out the shape of two rotting sacks. He checks around for traps fearful of the roof coming down. As he approaches the sacks the disturbance causes the rotting canvas to full apart in a cloud of dust which he inhales. Under the dust he finds….
A gild mace, a sword and a very large stone ring. The mace is two foot long gold plated with its head a spiked orb held in a bears maw. The sword is a bastard sword with nick and scares along its blade which appears to be very sharp, the pommel is cast in the shap of a dragons head, the cross guards in the shape of twin dragon claws. The stone ring is big enough to go on a head, it seems to be made from black granite. Are these the heirlooms of Wildsgate?
Calling to the others, Roj crawls down as well and casts detect magic on the items. the scepter and the sword both show strong magic, Roj then leaves the confining space and uses the rest of the spell effect on the coffers, which do not show any magic. Broidren then passes up the items one at a time, as he moves them he finds 17 gold ingots stamped with the Wildsgate seal, he passes them up as well. Yehonala checks out the coffers, seeing gold, it turns out that there are only a thin layer of gold coins covering thousands of lead ones. Yehonala takes the 2024 gold coins, she works out that each member of the extended party all 12 of them can have 17 gold coins each, more than a years income for most. The core group of Yehonala, Broidren, Roj and Groschl each empty their packs and pockets of sliver to make space for 17 gold ingots each worth 100 gold coins or about 2,000sp each. The sliver coins are collected together and paid to Zara and the remaining new follower as their mercenary pay. With the 5lb of Mithral they are each already carrying and now around another 8lb or so of gold along with their normal equipment they are starting to be quite loaded.
With the artefacts and Julia recovered they decide its time to head back to Wildsgate, however they are aware that the White lady will be waiting for them in some way. They wind there way back to the hall of heroes where the rescued are, and decide to rest there. Eating the last of their dried bat and drinking fresh water they rest/sleep for eight hours allowing the mages to recover their magical power and all be fresh for the journey home. They decide that with the ford likely watched and not being the easiest way to get a large body of people over they will go for the damaged bridge to the north of the town.
So as evening comes they set out through the forest following the river as much as they can till they need to strike our north west. Broidren scouts ahead of the group of 13. They camp in the forest near to the bridge where they can see the fires on the walls of the town. They set a watch and wait for day break to come. As the sun comes up Broidren scouts out the bridge, which appears to be empty while Roj spends time communing with nature after so long in a mine. With no sign of opposition around the bridge but deciding there might be in the town they come up with a daring plan.
Broidren casts invisibility on himself and sets off. First he crosses the bridge, then makes his way to the town gates. Passing in with others he gets past the guard and heads towards the keep. Making it there and wanting to avoid trying to pass the guards at the closed gates he finds a open window and climbs the wall to it. Entering he makes his way to the regents office, following someone else in. Once in his office, he waits till the regent is alone and becomes visible again. The surprised regent gasps with shock but Broidren claims him and then explains about the artefacts. Regent Sodersund listens and with his doubts about Lady Aborn and with the baron recovering he knows the truth of Broidren’s words.
Sodersund summons part of the barons half orc housecarls and Marshak the reeve and captain of the watch with some of his men and escort Broidren to met the rest of the party. With this guard the party is escorted into the keep. As they approach the town they see Lady Aborn and Captain Argun riding fast from the town.
Over the next weeks Baron Wulfrun recovers fully and holds a party for the heroes. During this party he offers them different jobs as well as allowing them to keep his gold they found. Roj is offered the job of bringing the wilds under proper control, Groschl is given the Captains job of head of the outriders. Yehonala and Broidren are told that Wildsgate does not have a mage presence in the town and he would like them to start one. The four are also tasked with making sure that the spires are fully explored and tamed. Yehonala intends to see Kolgot the gnome at the Broken Manacles about his part in swapping the first key they had with a fake.
With new jobs, gold worth 60 years average income for a freeman and 5lb of very valuable mithral to sell or have made into something they are now wealthy members of the barons court. What there future holds who but their gods know but it will properly be exciting and dangerous. The cost to others of this new life has been high as they lost all but one of their mercenaries and a few of the rescued.
Early part od story here