Ogre Under the Hill – Part 3
The following is what happened at the end of ‘Ogre Under the Hill”. Obviously, this is WAY overdue. Sorry for the delay:
The party halts before entering the ogre’s lair and have a hurried, whispered discussion. They decide that it might be easier to take out the orcs before taking on Gorst (the ogre) so they head to the cavern where they heard the orcs. All the while the orcs and ogre are yelling at each other, the ogre convinced the orcs have hurt his pet wolf, the orcs vehemently denying it. The entrance to the orcs’ lair is covered by a ratty black blanket hanging from some hooks, Glynn peers in and see 3 orcs gathered around and drinking from a beer barrel. He reports this to the party and begins to suggest they formulate a plan but is interrupted by a shout from Fearghus who bolts into the room and charges the orcs. (Rules note: Fearghus’s ‘Huzzah!’ trait was compelled.) Unfortunately, he swings wide, his axe sundering the beer barrel. The startled, beer covered orcs reach for their weapons but are interrupted by Arketh who steps in the room, whispers words of powers and, with a bright multicolored flash of light, blinds the orcs. The brutes are quietly dispatched by the rest of the party. Then they heard the ogre walking towards the room…
The ogre, hearing the commotion and understandably wary, approached the orc room and in a deep voice asked what was going on. Arketh, who learned Shadowtongue from his days as a wizard’s apprentice, acted like one of the orcs and was able to trick the dull-witted ogre into entering the room. Coming through the entrance, Gorst was surprised and was caught completely off guard. Grimstad and Fearghus both hit doing maximum damage, while Glynn was also able to wound the Brute. Gorst fell unconscious and bleeding from his wounds(!). The wolf, evidently smarter than the ogre, was not surprised and lasted two rounds before being dispatched.
(Okay, here is where I get less ‘wordy’. We have a game session scheduled for this Saturday and I need to have a broad overview written out for the players….)
Characters find little else on this level of the caverns, with the exception of the Ogre’s treasure (and a strange cavern where an orc seemed to be cultivating various mushrooms!)
Characters found a secret entrance in the Ogre’s lair, evidently of dwarf manufacture (dwarves had at one time called these caverns home). The secret door led to a short corridor and a pit in the floor. The pit, in turn, dropped 20ft but could be scaled using an old ladder attached to the pit wall.
Arkath went down first – which, in hindsight, was an odd thing for the mage to do – he ran afoul of the primitive trap on the ladder which dropped him about 15ft.
Characters encountered another room with orcs. In a corner was the farm girl, Elsa Shannock, tied up. A battle ensued and the orcs were dispatched.
After freeing Elsa, she told the characters of another captive, a gnome by the name Fiznagepolous (goes by Fizen). They were able to rescue the gnome, a merchant by trade who had been captured on the road and badly treated.
It was at this point the party felt it was a good time to leave. They had done what had been asked of them, stop the ogre and his orc allies and rescue the missing girl. There were doors left unopened, rooms left unexplored, but they were wounded and weary. It was time to leave. However, as they headed for the ladder up to the caverns above, they heard a clatter and a bellowing – something was coming for them.
As they formed a defensive position behind a closed-door, the door exploded apart and the party found itself confronted by great goat like beast with long horns and bronze sword that seemed to glow with a green fire. The beast’s fur was black, and it wore a leather kilt. It let out a roar and combat was joined. ( The characters have since found out that they faced a Gruff. Fey warriors of the Twilight Realm, Gruffs have a reputation as troll-slayers and mercenaries with a strong sense of personal honor who work for both the Seelie and Unseelie courts.)
The Gruff was not their only problem. Glyn spied an elven witch about 30ft behind the Gruff preparing spells. The combat was brutal and short, the Gruff falling to the blades of Fearghus and Grimstad and the spells of Arkath (though Grimstad fled due to the effects of a Fear spell). The witch was wounded by Glyn but made her escape by apperating (teleporting) away using a magical onyx stone dangling from a necklace.
Believing they had now dispatched the primary threats in this part of the caverns, the party explored the remaining rooms. There were three rooms left that hadn’t been searched, two made up the witch’s lair and were explored first. The first room contained, among other items, three desiccated heads hanging from top knots. These grisly decorations had their necks shown shut, along their foreheads and cheeks strange runes had been painted. One head was of a bearded man, one of a gray-haired man, and one of a red-haired woman. The eyes and mouths of the heads were initially shut but, as the characters looked on, all 3 pairs of eyes simultaneously opened. Then each head in turn began to speak in a hallow voice that seemed to emanate from the ground. This is what they said in the order they said it:
Bearded Head: “She has come here to open the gate”
Gray-haired Head: “The Mistress of Shadows will open the barrows and unlock the portals. The Blood Moon will be her sign.”
Female Head: “She will come into her glory and the valley will be ruled again by the First and Last!”
Bearded Head: “The ogre was the key, make sure many came here, make sure many would die and their blood stain the hill.”
Gray-haired Head: “The Blood Moon will herald the beginning!”
Female Head: “A clarion call for the Children of Shadows. A regal sign for the Queen of Thorns!”
Bearded Head: “You have disrupted her plans. She is not happy, nor is her Queen.
Gray-haired Head: “The Blood Moon will herald the end!”
Female Head: “Hail the Queen of Thorns! Your blood will be her drink, your flesh her mutton, your bones her bread.”
Then the heads fell silent, their eyes closing. (Arkath later identified these macabre items as “Oracles of the Damned”, horrid creations of witches and necromancers who use them for predicting the future and recounting the past. )
The second room contained some treasure, a spellbook, and a tapestry with a sinister design.
The third room was a large cavern roughly a 100ft. in diameter. On the farther end of the cave was a great stone plinth, 10ft. high, upon which was carved swirling symbols and strange runes. Around it grew various mushrooms and fungi of large size, some of which gave off a strange blue glow. These clung to the floor of the cavern up to roughly 50ft. of the plinth. Obviously a gate of some sort – perhaps an Aether Gate – but it appears to not have been used in centuries.
As the characters left the caverns, the sun had almost set and a full moon shone forth in the eastern sky; disturbingly, it was a pale blood-red.
That ended the adventure, though the characters had a lot of unanswered questions. Who was the elf witch? What was her interest in the gate? What in the hell were the ‘dead heads’ talking about? Queen of Thorns? Blood moon?