Olaf the Stout's Story Hour - "Shackled to the Age of Worms"

Session 9 - Back to the Whispering Cairn

As scribed by Roku Gimball

We ensure that all the undead in this place are destroyed before we leave – and Traeven also decides to take the glasses from the small Mummy.

It is a good decision – they turn out to have useful properties which will help him.

We quickly seek out Allustan and once again ask his assistance and counsel.
He tells us the coloured liquids have magical properties – normally the worms would die rapidly if they can’t find a host – but the liquids somehow preserve them.

We remember that Veltargo gave a liquid drink to the members of the Green Dagger Gang in his ruse – in reality he was infecting them with the Spawn of Kyuss.

Allustan promises to study all he can to help us to throw more light on what is happening. It is now early morning – and we wish to next go to the Feral Dog to give Filge’s eyes to Kullen. It is my plan to make a tentative ally of this man and his cronies. He may be able to help prevent the wrath and power of Balabar Smenk from further complicating our plans.

We wile away the day selling our loot, and buying some useful items for the trials ahead. In the evening we head to the Feral Dog.

Traeven approaches Kullen and loudly proclaims he has brought the items which Kullen requested of him. Seeing the small, bloody, cloth-wrapped parcel, Kullen guesses what we have and is much pleased, and a few rounds of raucous drinking follow. It is suddenly as if we are all old friends.

We press Kullen for titbits of information.

What does he know of Balabar? What relationship exists between Balabar and Filge?

Unfortunately there is little to be learned. Kullen prefers Balabar to Garavin – his former employer – but knows only that Balabar and Filge are “mates from Greyhawk” – beyond that he simply does as he is told.

We part on the best of terms – Kullen promising to assist us in future if we ever need employment in the town.

Next we press on to the Land family farm, intent on burying the bones to release Alastor from his prison – but not before Traeven makes a short detour to the Observatory and sets it to the torch.

My friend is concerned about leaving behind any traces of our earlier visit, and believes that a fire will hide much damning evidence.

Then it is a rapid return to the Whispering Cairn, where, as expected, we find no trace of Alastor and the portal opened.

Moving tentatively inside, we find a huge open room with 4 platforms around the edge. Walkways join the platforms to a centre area where we can see the pillar of rushing air we were told about by Alastor. 2 of the walkways are destroyed and have fallen into the deep chasm beneath us.

As we walk around the edges of this vast room we become aware of enormous scenes etched in to the walls. They seem to depict the story of a battle. As we move, a fog-like substance materializes around the walls and appears to animate the scenes.

In the first quarter we see what begins as a peaceful picture. Huge Vaati figures are relaxing in comfort – but as the scene animates we see dark creatures appear and attack them.

In the second quarter we observe a gathering of the opposing forces of Law and Chaos. There are 7 noble Wind Dukes crafting a master weapon to defeat the forces of Chaos.

In the 3rd and 4th quarter is depicted the huge battle. The Queen of Chaos has recruited Miska the Wolf Spider to assist her cause. The Wind Dukes have crafted the mighty Rod of Law. As the battle rages, the Rod of Law is scattered through the land – the leaders of both sides are killed and the dead Wind Dukes are each buried in separate tombs.

We take careful note of the images and glyphs on all of the individual Dukes armour and clothing.

Traeven steps into one of the walkways, intent on investigating the central area. Immediately 2 figures materialize, wearing somewhat familiar garb.

Wind Warriors.

I try and reason with them – we have no wish to fight and harm these noble warriors for good. But it is not to be, and a brief battle ensues where they are killed. On dying, they crumble away to dust.

We advance on the Wind Pillar. Traeven, wearing the Ring of Feather Fall – steps in and is immediately swept up and disappears. The rest of us are about to follow when he returns – and tells us it is quite safe – so we then all go together.

We find ourselves in a small room some 20 by 35 feet. A sarcophagus identical to the one in the lantern room below is inside.

On the wall is depicted more scenes in bas relief. A demon holds aloft a black globe – touching it to a warrior’s chest and the warrior begins to crumble before our horrified eyes. A dreaded Sphere of Annihilation.

As we move toward the sarcophagus, the scene animates and the warrior utters – “Speak my name” – whereupon the scene freezes again.

It seems we need to be able to read these glyphs and strange symbols – so we rest while I prepare the requisite spells.

Soon I can make sense of all the written signs on the walls and we make haste to gather as much detail as we can while the spells effects last.

We determine that the Duke in this room is named ZOSIEL. The 7 Dukes depicted at the other end of the Wind Pillar are AMOPHAR, DARBOS, EMONIEL, ICOSIOL, PENADER, QADEEJ, and URIEL.

The broken arcane item we found earlier sports the glyph of Icosiel. The Duke impaling the wolf spider is Qadeej.

Back in the small room again Taeven says the word "Zosiel" and a blue light forms around the sarcophagus lid, enabling us to remove it.

Inside we find a silver diadem with a strong magical aura, 2 long black horns with red tips and a small box firmly sealed with molten metal – covered with the glyphs of the Queen of Chaos.

We gather up everything and rush back to town for a further audience with Allustan.

Telling him everything – his eyes suddenly light up with understanding and he finds a book from his voluminous collection. He reads to us the following passage:-

“When the last of the Lands is laid to rest in the soil that held Icosiol, first of the line, the eye that is severed shall open, the hand that is severed shall grasp the hearts of all. The savage and the tyrant will peer from the same brow and the aspect will let loose the Age of Worms.”

It seems we have been the unwitting instruments of evil. Our willingness to help Alastor – done with the noblest of intentions – has apparently initiated our worst fears.

Allustan counsels us with his usual wisdom. Total secrecy is paramount.

It seems there have been a string of strange coincidences. Our party as well as the Seekers have found ourselves here at the same time. Veltargo’s actions, the Green Dagger Gang, the stolen book, Filge – all happening at the same time in spite of the fact that the initial acts of this process occurred centuries ago.

He suggests the “Age of Worms” is coming and we have been selected by the Gods of Law to be the instruments of salvation. I can only hope and pray he is right and we can be worthy of the task set for us.

Our next step is clear. We must go to the Dourstone Mine – mentioned in Smenk’s letter to Filge – and investigate the happenings there. “Green Worms and unkillable zombies”.

Dourstone Mine is close – a few minutes’ walk to the northeast. We know the mine has “prohibited areas” – an elevator leads down to these deeper levels.

We consider several strategies as to how to get in.

In the end, Travens suggestion seems the most sensible. It is known that Smenk provides supplies for the mines operation. Kullen has promised he can get us work.

We will approach Kullen, and try and get work delivering material. We will secrete our armour and weapons amongst the crates and goods in the cart – and make our way inside to see what we can find.
 

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Session 10 - Dourstone Mine

As scribed by Roku Gimball

We are far from content with this decision.

Our band is not of one mind on this – can we hope to survive as we venture into the very heart of the enemy stronghold?

We glean as much useful information from Allustan as we can – and also head back to the Feral Dog, where we bribe a miner to tell us as much as he knows about the guards, their placement, numbers and arms. We ask for, and obtain – for a price – Kullen's help to gain employment riding in two delivery carts taking supplies into the mine.

We secret our weapons on board, but are able to wear our full armour as we travel down the passageway toward the prohibited area. We leave the carts with 2 guards we have bribed and head off down a short passage to find it boarded up and blocked. But Traeven soon finds the way through and we proceed further in to find a hand operated lift mechanism – designed to lower men and equipment down into the depths of the mine.

We have no option but to continue – so we all get on board and lower ourselves some 200 feet. As we alight at the bottom we find 2 tieflings standing next to the doorway. We unsuccessfully try to bluff our way past but they are not to be fooled. A quick fight ensues and we kill them.

We take a key from their bodies, finding them covered in tattoos and symbols of Hextor. Not an encouraging sign. Ezio and Traeven take chain mail face masks from them, hoping to use them later to hide our appearance.

We continue to a vast domed hall, obviously fashioned by expert artisans. Beautiful black marble pillars and arches are everywhere around us. Even the floor is spectacularly crafted in marble.
In one area is a large pool of dark liquid. In another a spiral stone stairway winds up the walls – and we see 3 wider landings above us at different levels. The domed ceiling is some 60 feet high, and immediately above the pool of liquid. A large unmarked marble door sits at the West wall.

We note blood stains around the pool and lower platform and also ashes and scratch marks from metal implements. This does not look good – but what else were we to expect?

We search around and find a few small items of value. Traeven then picks the lock of the western door. It seems to have seen little use – so we return.

We try another door – this one covered with symbols of Hextor. Using the key taken from the tieflings – we force our way in to find numerous skeletons covered with bloodstained armour with bells hanging all over them. There is no hope of a quick silent fight here – the noise from the bells alerts everything for hundreds of feet in every direction.

Amongst the skeletons we see more tieflings – and also some strangely attired cultists are hovering at the back. They don’t attack us – leaving the dirty work to the skeleton fighters.

As we quickly cut down the skeletons, who are no match for our band, the cultists and tieflings withdraw through doorways down a small corridor at the rear. We cannot prevent them escaping, even though Aramil is able to inflict some slight damage with his bow. The rest of us cannot get close to them before they are gone.

We rush to follow them, but suddenly a huge boar charges through the corridor and attacks us. Cirian's Ray of Enfeeblement makes short work of it however, and we kill it with relative ease. But the tieflings and cultist mages have escaped, and our presence here is now known to all our enemies in this place.
 

Session 11 - Deeper into Dourstone

We press on – and shortly find ourselves in a large rectangular room, with a 20 foot tall statue of Hextor in the centre. There is a balcony running around this room, but we see no stairs or other way of gaining access to this area. In front of us, on the upper level, sits a throne set back in a large alcove.

The 4 cultists are waiting for us here – but they are no match for us and die a swift death. But immediately more enemies appear on the upper level. A male and a female cleric – both human. A half orc warrior, and 4 zombies.

The male cleric speaks. “I see you have invaded our holy ground”. He then activates some kind of mechanism on the throne and the doors behind us close. There is no escape – and we must fight for our lives.

Cirian is able to determine that the large statue is very unstable on its base – and informs Ezio, who pushes it over so that it topples toward the throne in the alcove above. Now we have a way forward to engage our foes!

Our most difficult battle yet follows. At one point a hell hound materializes to help surround Ezio, preventing him from advancing. I am held captive by two spells from the female mage for long minutes during the battle.

But slowly, little by little, we begin to break down their powers and defences – and eventually we dispose of them all. We loot their bodies and search the whole area – finding much of value.

Traeven finds a large jewel embedded in the statues forehead – but removes it with his dagger to add to our hoard. We then continue to search the area, looking for the way forward, but finding only more rooms used for living and sleeping. We check them all, continuing to find gold, weapons, keys, scrolls and other valuable items, including a small bust of a dwarf encrusted with gems and wearing a gold crown.

There is no sign of the missing tieflings however – let us hope that their lack of willingness to engage us in battle means they do not possess the strength and ability to prevail. Eventually, behind one of the locked doors – which we can open with a key found earlier – we find ourselves in roughly hewn passages through natural fissures in the rock.

We advance, and find a large cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. Water drips onto the rough ground beneath our feet. Three grimlocks suddenly appear, and we take a little damage before sending them the way of all our enemies before.

It seems this place has more surprises yet in store.
 

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