Title: Theft of a Weredwarf's Beard
Date: Mid Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: The ME team catches Chert Stonehand after a brutal battle in the depths of Gil Hala.
Afternoon of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Alaire was nowhere to be seen. The summoner had had enough of his quest for demon summoning information and details.
The strange halls of the Gil Hala ruins glittered in odd places, the massive crystals in the granite transmitting and bending and reflecting light. The dwarven ruins of Gil Hala had been abandoned for millennia, and yet the ruins sparkled as though the dwarves had disappeared only the day before.
The ME team took a moment to catch their collective breaths. The two giant lizard mounts Bergeron and Justice flicked their tongues out, tasting the air and turning their heads. The demons were gone. The small pieces of the demonic statue crunched underfoot as Bergeron shifted his thousands of pounds of weight, getting a better view of the ruins.
Captain Aeron's sword glowed with an intense, blue-white light that was hard to look directly at. There were no demons in sight, and none could be heard.
The team continued resting, and then began to smile. With the demon-summoning statue destroyed, they could climb out of the ruins and let the Rakanus dwarves know what had happened. The Eye of Galgiran had brought the team to Mount Lavanor in but a moment, and the team had news of the situation in Teras.
The whinnie of a horse caught the group's attention. The ME team glanced across the chasm that contained the ruins, and saw the faint, familiar green light of dwarven torches. There was also the terrible hissing of tongue demons coming from that direction.
“Buck!” yelled Greff, leaping atop the seven foot walls of the maze, hoping to get a better view.
Greff's mount could easily be heard as his steel-shod hooves tried to run away from the horde of tongue demons pouring into and onto the maze. More hissing answered the tongue demons, as those that had fled earlier looked on from the gallery balconies above.
Greff ran forward, leaping across the gaps, determined to rescue his horse from the tongue demons.
Arkhan paused for a split second. There were over a score of tongue demons rushing forward across the maze after Buck. Half that many or more were in the balconies, and crawling down the chasm to join the fight. And something else joined the fight, as well. The greenish dwarf light illuminated a weredwarf leaping up onto the walls of the maze; the weredwarf had a tail with a bone mace, claws ridiculously long, and a muzzle with teeth that exuded visible fumes.
Buck would not make it to the team in tie. The horse was stuck within the maze, while the tongue demons could run along the surface of the maze without hindrance. Greff and Buck both would be caught by the demons.
Arkhan made a prodigous leap off of Bergeron's back and onto the wall within the maze. He was praying to Xynos as he rushed forward, Bergeron chasing after him.
Captain Aeron saw the situation just as clearly, listening to his heart as his ears brought him the crunch of more broken statue. There were too many demons. A dozen, they could handle – but a score and a half of demons, plus at least one demonic weredwarf.
Arkhan got close enough to see the source of the green dwarf light. Chert Stonehand, plus two weredwarves as escort.
Aeron picked up one of the pieces of the statue, thinking fast, as Corrin fired shots from her hand crossbow and Demon fired lines of silik thread to bind demons climbing down the walls towards them. The statue had been used to bring demons in from Shadareth, and so it had a power over the demons. Even broken into shards, it might still hold a power over the demons.
Gril Bandylegs cowered in the corner. He had once been possessed by a demon lord, and the recent spate of werewolves and tongue demons left the dwarven spelunker with little functioning brainpower.
Aeron kicked the dwarf to get his attention, and put Gril to work helping him find still-intact pieces of the statue.
Greff and Arkhan looked on in horror as the tongue demons lashed out at Buck, opening their mouths wide and throwing out an abrasive-tipped whip of a tongue twenty feet long. Thick horse skin was split open as half a dozen demons lashed out at the horse's flanks.
Buck was not a normal horse. Greff had won the laid back stallion in a bar fight barely eight months before. Since then, the well-built horse of questionable lineage had proven he was superior both to the legendary Chre warhorses' endurance and the Straith horses' speed. Buck ignored the flayed skin off his haunches, turned a corner so fast that his rump his the ground, and continued racing away from the demons.
Greff leapt into the midst of the demons, his fists and feet pummeling the gorilla-sized masses of tongues so hard that they exploded in writhing masses of tongues. Arkhan, invoking the God of Memories, rushed to Greff's side. A blast of dragon's breath destroyed several of the demons, throwing a blast of fire light about the chasm's maze.
And then the demons counter-attacked. Arkhan's armor and Greff's speed were not enough as a score of tongues flashed at them, flaying their exposed skin and hitting them so hard in the armor that bone was bruising.
They were being overwhelmed, when the demonic weredwarf with the tail laid a hand on Bergeron – and the draestrier turned on Arkhan. Over the draestrier's back, the demonic weredwarf let loose a poisonous gas that burned the eyes, nose, and throat, making their lungs ache and making it painful even to breath. All the while, the tongue demons lashed at Greff and Arkhan, who could barely flail blindly to defend themselves.
Then Aeron found the face piece of the demon summoning statue. The face piece was still intact, and the barrister of Yatindar began the prayers that would use the laws of summoning against the demons. It would take time, though. Almost without thinking about it, he drew from his belt a special dagger and tossed it into the air nearby. The dagger split into two, and those two into four, and the hundreds of daggers stayed in the mid air with a hum of danger. The power of Yatindar kept the myriad of blades ready to shred any demon that came near.
Corrin saw the blades go up, and realized she was needed elsewhere. The halfling in dark leathers was nearly invisible, faster than the demons, and magically protected by the arcane. The halfling moved through the maze like a wraith, seeing an opening in the guards around Chert. One of the weredwarves saw her for a splite second, but couldn't find her, even with his wolf-enhanced senses.
And suddenly Corrin was holding Chert Stonehand' beard, shorn from his face so closely that only stubbled remained. Before Chert could even register that the beard was gone, the halfling was gone. Moments later, a purple grenade went off and Chert Stonehand and the demonic weredwarf were unconscious.
There was a wash of energy from the remains of the statue, and the tongue demons turned to vapor, sucked into the remains of the statue that had brought them to Gil Hala. The tongue demons were suddenly gone – all of them.
Aeron snarled, and drew his other sword. Only the weredwarves remained, and they were soon either cut down or surrendered.
Arkhan had been on the raggedy edge of death, praying even in unconsciousness. Greff awoke suspended in midair, Demon the silik having rescued him from the midst of the tongue demons. Greff, too, had been near death before the silik stopped the river of life's blood.
Captain Aeron invoked Yatindar's powers, and blue-white light flowing into them all, invigorating them, washing away their wounds, and restoring them all – Buck included.
Around the silver bead in Chert's beard were wrapped many hairs not his own. Corrin was certain that, at last, she had the Rakanus Clan's bloodstone components in her hand.
Afternoon of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was gumbo. Not my best pot, but good enough.
Buck had been left behind when the party first entered the chasm. Buck is a racer, not a fighter, and so it's a judgement call Bill often has to make: Where to leave Buck. In this case, it may have been a no-win situation for Bill, but he handled it as best he could. The team responded well overall, each pulling their part in the battle, but had not Dave's Aeron found a way to send the tongue demons back then Corrin might have been the only survivor. I can't imagine anything the group could have done differently, and yet I feel like they could have made a stand together, side-by-side, near the statue. That reminds me… They never did do anything with those tattoo inks.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters have 47,500XP (14th level). Level Up! Ding, woot, grats.