Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 58
|Rashomon||Elf level 2||A dangerous looking elf.|
|Lyffed||Elf level 1||Thin and balding elf whom also happens to be Rashomon's friend.|
|Brent Goose||Cleric level 4||An eccentric, but charismatic, cleric seeking the Holy Bird. White robes and black cloak conceal his tall, frail and anemic frame. His eagle-like nose is exposed for all to see.|
|Hedwig Hogwarts||Elf level 2||An always alert owl masquerading as an elf.|
Goodgrove 10th, Spiritday
“The quicker you move, the likelier it is your friends live.” Lanithdir quipped to Lyffed with a stone face.
Having been defeated by a band of men under the ruined tower, the latter was stripped of his armour and weapons. He arranged to ransom himself and his friends in exchange for four gold chains.
The proverbial clock was ticking.
Brent Goose witnessed the group that just vanquished his party lift his colleagues that have been put to sleep.
The dwarven duo looked as if they were ready to stomp Rashomon to death, but were stopped by Golding.
“He is worth more alive. Just like that one over there. Arantal, do your thing.”
Arantal was the man in plate mail, the one who subdued Marston with a single strike. He motioned and other men take Brent's retainers. Surprisingly, Brent, on the other hand, was allowed to walk free by his side.
“Now, Cleric, tell me more about your God.”
“Kadrim is Everywhere but no where. He is many and also one. He is the calm , he is chaos, He holds dominion over the smallest and gentlest creatures on this earth. He brings abundance to all and will take abundance from all. Anger him and a lone bird will turn into two, then many. His sword will cover the sky and block the sun. In a swoop of his sword he cover the world in white.”
Brent gingerly pulled out a statuette of small bird and then cast Light on, as he was reciting.
“He is also merciful and brings hope and salvation when one is at their lowest. He flies on the wings of Fear and Hope. That is Kadrim.”
He was thank for his lecture, and then asked to heal some of them. The cleric diagnosed them with ailments and made “cures” from various plants, vegetables, and fruits. He claimed that their bodies were creating toxins and that they need a juice cleanse. He would cast Cure Light Wounds only after they take their supplements.
Rancid smell of urine and body odours violently awakes Rashomon. He was seated on the floor, with both of his arms manacled to the wall behind him.
The manacles have obviously been forcefully pinned to the walls, because they do not match them in any way. A piece of cloth was tied around his mouth.
Six more persons were in the same predicament around the elf: Marston's and Brent's retainers, as well as Hedwiga. There was no sight of Lyffed, Marston, or Brent.
The prison was roughly 30 by 10 feet. Voices could be heard from an archway to Rashomon's left.
Giving himself some time to come back to his senses before proceeding was a good choice. Once fully aware of his surroundings, Rashomon broke his manacles with little effort. He took his time to make sure he was as quiet as possible.
Once free, he moved to awake and free Hedwiga. Then they freed the rest. The manacles were indeed too weak to hold back these two elven specimen.
Finally, Rashomon crawled to the archway, and listened attentively. He was surprised to recognise one of the voices!
It must've been Brent's, for there was talk of birds and what not.
Rashomon gripped a rusty iron piton, bidding his time, waiting for a chance to charge out.
Marston slowly opened his eyes.
It was so cold it hurt his skin...
Then he realised he was completely naked...
And that his hands were chained to the ground.
There were two candles, each few inches away from his palms.
A man dressed in golden robes appeared from the darkness.
“You are now prisoner of Golding.”
“Tell me three things I did not know before.”
“First time you tell me something I knew, I will tear apart your spell book. Which is by the way, horribly thin.”
“Second time you tell me something I knew, I will have both of your palms removed.”
“Third time you tell me something I knew, I will have your tongue removed.”
Another man, dressed in chain shirt, appeared with a small, golden bell.
He placed it between Marston's knees.
“Ring the bell when you have my answers.”
Marston did his best to keep his cool. He spoke as confidently as he could.
“Is there any topic in particular you desire? I’m quite a knowledgeable fellow so something to keep me focused will do me well. I can do anything from the nature of our universe to mere riddles, though I know some good riddles.”
“Oh, I'm so glad you ask so politely. I'm very curious to learn about new treasures, artifacts of great power, and political intrigue. A good riddle is always welcome, as well. But be warned, if I answer correctly you will suffer the consequences.”
Marston sits still in thought for a minute before his eyes light up like he thought of something.
“Very well, if it’s all the same to you I will start with a riddle of my own devise if you think you are prepared!”
He cleared his throat and spoke in a smug tone.
“What am I?”
“I keep you alive and yet I’m despised.”
“Men are renowned for disregarding me, but secretly everyone has me.”
“I could keep going, but that would be an insult to a man of your great intellect, though if you need a hint let know.”
Golding smiled and giggled sinisterly.
“Ha! An easy one! It is fear that keeps men alive; only fools and dead men disregard it; and even the stoutest of heroes carry it in their hearts!”
Marston looked absolutely shocked for a solid few seconds. Once he regained his composure, he blurted out “DOUBLE OR NOTHING!!!”
He continued stammering “Uhhh, if I win win it counts as one and you don’t burn my book if you win then you burn my book and I give you a piece of valuable info that doesn’t count towards my 3 things!”
Golding laughs as Marston bumbled and mumbled. Then he motioned to the armored man next to him. The man produced the captive's spell book from a sack.
The robed man took it, and begun tearing out pages, one by one. He crumpled each and threw it at Marston.
“Oh, don't despair. If your spells are as good as your riddles, then nothing of value has been lost.”
Marston slumped, deflated. He observed Golding for a moment, seeking any info that would be useful. The man wore gold robes embroidered with unfamiliar teal symbols. A golden pendant hung around his neck, and three rings (two on right, one on left) adorned his fingers.
Barely breaking the silence, Marston asked “What God do you worship?”
“Whichever serves my purpose at the moment.”
“So you are godless? How am I supposed to know you will honor your word if I succeed if you haven’t sworn to anyone?”
“You can't.” Golding answered with a big, shit-eating grin.
“Ha, I guess what did I expect... OK another riddle then.”
“What is sweeter than honey and worth more than gold But can never be captured or so I’ve been told? For to do so would kill it, that’s what they say All those who live it, in their own way.”
“Are you mocking my intellect, young man?!”
“Freedom is the answer; although as your chains attest, it can be captured very much.”
“Further, its worth can be very well appraised in gold. As a matter of fact, your elven friend is dashing to Hara to fetch gold chains to buy your freedom!”
“Such a helpful fellow he is, completely unaware I'll profit on you twice.”
“If you plan on making any profit off me I can’t recommend slicing my palms. A damaged merchandise is less valuable, especially slaves that can’t use their hands.”
“What kind of a man would I be if I don't uphold my threat? Have I not made the terms clear enough?”
“The kind of man that loses out on money for an arbitrary reason!”
Golding rubbed his rings, thinking.
Marston leaned in a bit and spoke in whisper.
“You know if you want to make some real money it would be in your interest to keep me alive and unharmed as I still have one thing to tell you.”
“I have gathered over my many travels near 2000 gold coins as well as a magic sword that I would value as being worth several times that. If you were to sneak me out of here and take me to Hara you could have it all to yourself.”
“Well, how about we wait for your elf friend to return and then we can send him back to Hara to fetch those as well?”
“Ha to split that with your friends would be to turn a small fortune into mere change! You will never get anywhere with that attitude. And besides you would have to bring me since only I can unseal the Wizard Lock I have placed.”
Goodgrove 11th, Airday
“Tell me, fellow Elf, why do you follow orders of these evil men?”
“If it is just that, couldn't we make you a better deal?”
“Do you think you are in position to do so?”
“Well, do you want to spend more time camping underground, in a dungeon? It doesn't look like you are too happy about it.”
“Thirty gold coins per day and full share of treasure.”
“You have my word as an elf of Law.”
“First tell me more about Golding and others, and then we can figure it out.”
Lanithdir the Cheap, divulged the following:
“Golding is the leader of Chaotic party of adventurers. They've laired here for the last two weeks because he is convinced there is some sort of unholy artefact deeper underground.”
“Belak and Thur, two dwarves, act as his bodyguards. They are competent warriors. Ashburton, the Thief, is a leader of a dozen of bandits. They've been subjugated by us, and forced to obey. They aren't happy about it, but are too afraid of Golding to act.”
“Arantal, Forester, and Gerrard are clerics of Harmakhis, some barbarian death deity. They joined a few weeks ago, also seeking something here.”
“No one really trusts anyone, but everyone fears Golding.”
“How about you take me in, pretending I'm your prisoner, and we free the rest.”
“Yes. Follow me.”
The conspiring duo passed the secret doors from whence Lyffed and his party were surprised from the last time.
They entered into a rectangular chamber, some fifty by thirty feet. Five figures squatted around a bucket in the center of the room. A lantern illuminated their sour faces. They were throwing dice in silence.
Lanithdir yanked Lyffed, and walked past them men, hugging the north wall.
“Where to?” a man suddenly grabbed Lanithdir's biceps.
“Mind your own business, knave.” the elf retorted, setting himself free.
The man scowled, but otherwise remained quiet.
Lyffed could see there was an archway leading south, into a dark chamber. He followed Lanithdir through doors in north-west corner, then through turning corridors—passing another doors and group of men—until reaching reinforced doors.
“This is where most of us sleeps, including Golding.” Lanithdir whispered to Lyffed in elven.
Opening the doors revealed yet another spacious chamber, although with a strong musk of body odours. Eight or so bedrolls were in the central area of the room.
A dwarf stood by one, untying his armour. A spear and a shield lay next to him.
Lanithdir suddenly pivoted and slapped Lyffed as hard as he could. The latter had read the former's intentions so he sold the slap hard, cusping his face and dropping down.
“Follow me, cur!”
Lanithdir grabbed the slapped elf and pushed him westwards, towards doors. The dwarf was quiet, but started at both intensely.
Once they passed the doors, they slammed them shut behind. This was another rectangular room, of similar proportions to previous chambers. The men sitting by the east wall barely acknowledged the elves, focusing instead on a man telling them facts about small birds.
Lyffed recognised Brent.
The cleric sat with his backs against the wall. Across him sat Arantal, weapon by his hip and shield on the ground. To his left and right were Forester and Gerrard, each with their weapon and shield on the ground. All were armoured.
“Let's jump the closest one.” Lyffed whispered in elven.
Walking straight, maintaining their “prisoner” act, the duo marched behind Arantal.
“You treacherous mutt!” the cleric of death roared as Lanithdir pummelled him. Lyffed stepped on Gerrard's weapon and yelled at Brent to do something.
“Hold in the name of Kadrim!”
Forester and Gerrard froze in place, unable to even wink.
“You shall die a thousand deaths!” Arantal overpowered Lanithdir, throwing him down to the ground like he was nothing but a child's toy. Then he stomped on his knee, breaking it. Finally, he crushed his head into a bloody pulp with a war hammer.
“Death, death will come to all of you!” he bellowed as Rashomon and other prisoners charged from around the corner, wielding rusty pitons as their improvised weapons of choice.
He fought them all off—except Lyffed, whom had picked up Gerrard's mace. A backhand swing to the back of Arantal's neck plate was the killing blow.
“Quick, all our equipment is in these barrels. Get your stuff and get out!”
“Where is Marston?!”
“I don't know, I haven't seen him!”
“We have to keep the momentum. Let's charge in and overpower the dwarf.”
Unsurprised, the dwarf jumped out of his bed roll, grabbed the spear and shield, and charged the assailants. He spat as he spoke in unfamiliar language. Despite deflecting most of the blows, he too soon succumbed. It was Lyffed once again, but this time with a sword. He delivered a straight jab into the throat, followed by a tear to the right, ripping right through the neck.
Backtracking, the party went into the corridor where there were guards in the norther portion.
“Who goes there?”
“No one. You are sleepy. Go back to your post.” Brent replied.
“Oh, OK...” and the guard left.
“Stop messing around, we have to get out.”
“But what about Marston? We have to find him...”
“Wait, I'll go talk to those guards...”
Lyffed approached the guard post with confidence.
“What's this! Is this how you keep watch? By squatting in a dead-end corridor?!”
Three poorly dressed thugs jumped up.
“Well, no one passed by us, so I'd say we are doing a good job!”
“Where is the last prisoner bought in here?”
“How the hell do we know who is the last prisoner?! It's not like we count them? As far as I know everyone is kept in your chamber!”
“And what is beyond these doors you guard?”
“Our resting place... Why are you asking all these questions–”
“Silence! Have you seen a young man, a wizard, maybe?”
“Listen, I don't know what sick game you are playing, but the only other place I know would be Golding's play room. But I ain't going there!”
“Fine. Keep watch.”
Lyffed returned to the party and briefed them on new developments.
“There was a door we passed by in the room with the dwarf. There was also an archway that I passed by when entering...”
“We should go straight out, maybe we encounter Marston on the way?”
Brent Goose walked straight into the room where five thugs were playing dice. They all looked at him. He turned around and closed the doors.
“What was that for?”
Rashomon, Hedwiga, Lyffed, and Brent charged back in, only to be peppered with burning oil flasks. Luckily, none of the lobbed ones broke on impact.
Lyffed delivered an overhand slash through the bone to their leader, killing him with a single blow. Rashomon took down another one with a point blank shot. Toucan, Brent's follower, shot down yet another one. Hedwiga brutally decapitated the fourth one, followed by cleaving headless corpse in half. The fifth bandit fled through the south archway, yelling.
The party followed.
A naked Marston stood in the center of the room, illuminated with few candles. He was manhandled by a dwarf, whom had him basically restrained.
“Stop if you want your friend to live!”
“We heard that before!”
Hedwiga, Rashomon, and Lyffed moved into the dark chamber, but alas, they were to slow. The dwarf lifted Marston, whom did his best to resist, and threw him forward.
Marston landed on a perfectly carved feminine bottom. He extended forward his arms, to soften the landing. As soon as his palms landed on the stone cold, majestic butt-cheeks, a click could be heard.
Young wizard's screams filled the room, as he staggered back, both of his hands cleanly cut off. He collapsed to the ground in fetal position, crying and screaming for help.
Goose stepped forward, loosing his footing and stunning himself in the process. Hedwiga and Lyffed charged the dwarf. Rashomon concentrated. He could hear Golding chanting arcane words in the darkness. He calmed his breathing. He tensed the bow. He made his choice. He released the tension.
“Augh!” could be heard from the south-west corner.
The dwarf was swinging an iron staff with great proficiency. He bonked Hedwiga on multiple occasions.
Golding ran right past the party, and into the chamber where five thugs used to watch guard. Rashomon and Lyffed pursued him, as well as Brent's followers. The fleeing bastard was taken down with arrows and sling stones. He soiled his robes, making them more golden in the process.
Hedwiga and dwarf duked it out, exchanging many blows. Brent, having regained his composure, walked in like a boss, and then smacked the dwarf dead, just like he was playing whack-a-mole.
“Marston, are you OK?”
Marston lied there, pale, having been ignored by the party for the last minute and a half. The boy had bled to death.
“Let's frisk the corpses.”
“Should we go back to their sleeping chamber? There was a desk with two chests there?”
“We can return after we've healed. Come on, let's get out!”
Everyone but Marston reached Hara by the end of Goodgrove 12th.
They were exhausted.
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