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Aug 23 2010

Chronicles of Netheril – August 14th, 2010

Addendum to August 7th:In the post for last week’s gaming session I forgot to mention a few things. 1) We received a map of the region around Spellgard from Curuvar, and Heyana gave us a map of the Spellgard Ruins compiled from the intelligence gathered by the Harpers.  2) When we arrived at the Monastery of the Precipice, we were given a small book containing excerpts from the Analects of Kuryon. Kuryon was the first master of the monastery and the Analects are a very long cycle of poems. Most deal with various matters of philosophy, but the excerpts in the book contain material relevant to the Spellgard Ruins and Lady Saharel. 3) When we left the monastery to go exploring we headed toward the Gatehouse as it was the closest major landmark.

Gatehouse

We easily defeated the enemies we encountered at the gatehouse. They were a variety of different homunculi and appeared to be protecting a specific part of the gatehouse ruins.

In the ruins we found a large 10 feet tall alabaster pillar. We surmised that it had been moved here from some other location, because it didn’t appear to belong in this part of the ruins. We also discovered that it was much lighter than its size would indicate, since between them, Ilikan and Eramus were able to lift and carry it.

At this point we remembered that there was mention of an alabaster piller in the Analects.

Two alabaster pillars stand
A silent watch in chamber dark
I write these words with quiv’ring hand…
I know just what these pillars mark.

A timid step will bring me near
Six holes where pillars do not dwell
So hope remains, and yet I fear
I’ve seen the doom of Saharel

Obviously the pillars play some role in summoning Lady Saharel. What that role is though, we do not yet know. We thought of bringing the pillar back to the monastery for storage, but decided against it. If we brought every pillar we found to the monastery we’d end up have to do a lot of back and forth once we found out where they went. So we hid it in the gatehouse ruins.

We decided to head northeast towards the north wall in order to begin a grid search. Along the way we discovered a camp site.

Abandoned Camp

The camp site was obviously abandoned, and the blood splatters inside the tents hint at why. Another group of explorers happens upon the campsite, and after we exchange a few pleasantries they move on.

We discover a large group of footprints leaving the campsite in a NE direction. We follow them and they lead us to a part of the outer fortification wall that is standing; unlike most of the rest of the wall. While the eastern half of the wall and the east tower are in a sad state of disrepair, the west tower and western part of the wall appear brand new, as if they just been restored.

The Two Towers ;)

The tracks lead to an entrance on the southern face of the west tower. After spending quite some time following them, we’ve come to believe that they were made by large rats.

Adrie stealthily opens the door and goes in.  There’s a door in the western wall, a spiral staircase leading both up and down and a single halfling sitting at a large table. Next to him is a pull rope that leads to the ceiling and then through the west door. We all enter the tower, and he introduces himself as Malcolm Durano and asks what we are doing here.

We tell him we’re adventurers and are here in search of Lady Saharel. We have a short discussion, but the moment we mention the abandoned camp, he becomes quite angry and shifts into a rat form. He’s a were-rat. Ilikan leaps onto the table and grinds Malcolm into a bloody paste with a single blow from his great-maul; but not before the were-rat halfling could pull the rope and mutter something about his brothers killing us.

With more were-rats on the we hurry to make preparations. We use the table and chair to barricade the west door and Voulge sits down on the chair and pushes against the floor with his feet in order to prop up the barricade.  The rest of us surround the open sections of the spiral staircase. Anyone coming up or down the stairs will have to go through our kill zone.

A few moments later, 6 were-rats come up the stairs one by one; and, in less than a minute, we send their bloody corpses rolling back down. The whole staircase leading down into the basement is now covered in blood.

We go down into the basement but find nothing except a door in the west wall and some furniture. We use the furniture to barricade the door and take the short swords from the were-rat corpses. Back on the ground floor Ilikan jams 4 of the short swords into the ground directly in front of the main entrance, essentially locking it shut. We then proceed up to the second floor where we get ambushed by 6 or so fire beetles.

Normally, fire beetles are easy to deal with, but in such cramped quarters, their fire blasts were deadly accurate. During this fight we also met one of Malcolm’s brothers, Franco Durano.  He was on the third floor (the last one) and came down to investigate when he heard all the noise.

We survived the fight, but just barely. We needed a relatively safe place to rest and recuperate. Adrie stealthily went up to the third floor and gave us the all clear. While the team slept, Voulge who didn’t need sleep, only rest, kept a watch on the outside through the various arrow slits in the walls.

Late into the night, Voulge spots a group of adventurers approaching the tower. He wakes up the rest of the group and they all remain as quiet as possible, hoping the newcomers will lose interest and move on. Unfortunately, they decide to break down the front door; and after exploring the basement make their way to the third floor. The situation is tense, but having seen the bloodbath on the three lower floors, they realize that we are more than willing to defend our claim on the tower, and they decide to leave. In fact it’s just a ruse. When we don’t see anyone exit the tower, Adrie quietly goes down to investigate. Turns out they’ve camped out on the ground floor; probably planning to ambush us when we come down to see why they haven’t exited. We don’t fall for it, and just sit down and wait for a few hours. They eventually leave out of sheer boredom.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we decide to explore behind the two doors we’d previously barricaded. As we suspected, both doors opened onto tunnels leading to the other tower. The tunnel in the basement had collapsed in on itself, leaving an opening so small that only a halfling could squeeze through. This must have been where the halfling were-rats came from. We tried to collapse it further to permanently block access; but even Ilikan, with his gargantuan strength, was unable to budge a single rock. We re-barricaded the door and went up to the ground floor. The tunnel on the ground floor was intact and we went through. Along the way, we could see the cord of the alarm running along the ceiling.

When we opened the doors at the other end of the tunnel, we were greeted with a decidedly unpleasant sight. Three human mercenaries and their pet guard drakes, as well as a blood sucking bat were guarding the ground floor of the east tower.  There was no time to talk, the battle was joined immediately. Not long after the fight began, we were given the dubious honour of meeting the third Durano brother, Borlem, who snuck up on us unnoticed. Like his two other brothers, he didn’t last very long.

The noise from the fight attracted the attention of the second floor’s occupants and it didn’t take long before six gravehounds came rushing down the staircase. [For those who don't know, gravehounds are zombie dogs.]While we were fighting these guys off, a fourth Durano brother, Kalmo showed up. How many Duranos are there?

Once every attacker was defeated, we decided to take a short break. There likely wasn’t anymore enemies left in the tower; especially if the pattern from the west tower carried over to this one.

Now we’ll have to carefully explore the tower to find out what the Durano brothers were doing here.