Mission 06, Bugbear Stronghold & Shunned Valley
Party: Ioelena, Finial, Pear, Hilniflit, Fledermaus, Rufus
Day 0: Settled up with the city taxes for Mission 05 loot. Visited Yanos to download Faun stuff.
Guild Kitty after buying supplies: 906 gp + 200 gp – 425 gp in taxes (equipment outpaced currency in 5) = 681 gp, 18 sp (A +1 longsword has been set aside for Exandra Redjoy if she wants it.)
Day 01: Uneventful journey to the edge of the woods outside of town. Camp uneventful.
Day 02: The weather is clear, but with a strange chill. Our usual trail was overgrown, so Rufus found an alternate route that lead us to a small shrine overgrown with vines. The central focus of the shrine is a large bronze statue of a minotaur holding an axe standing in the middle of a small fountain. Bronze severed heads have water pouring from their mouths into the fountain. As we begin to search the fountain, the statue comes alive and two spiritual minotaurs flank us on two sides. They ask us if we are here to toast their victory or drown in their defeat.
Pear makes an effort to diplomatically toast their victory (drinking water from his own skin), this seems to appease them, but they ask us to leave their sacred place. We decide to do so.
That night we made camp in a grove filled with soggy wood unsuitable for making a fire. We gathered sticks from the surrounding area and set the watch. On third watch, 4 large, 200 lb green creatures with 10 tentacles and pale faces attack the party. Hilniflit immediately takes out the two attacking sleeping members of the party with magic missiles. The two instantly disappear. Battle commences as the party wakes and the other two creatures seem to be more substantial and pretty grabby – they are also a little clumsy on the ground.
Additionally, the two that blink out when attacked seem to be reappearing, but not attacking. Hilniflit tells the party to ignore the two that turn out to be illusions and focus on the more substantial pair. The party takes some damage from wrestling with the creatures, but the creatures are eventually killed.
In the aftermath, the corpses produce 1 gp each and everyone gets a nature lesson about the decapus.
Day 03: We decide to head toward the Bugbear Keep to check in on its status and find it to be inhabited with guards from Dulwich. The party approaches and are greeted at the entrance by Sir Valio Ilmonen. The party is barely able to stifle their groans as he greets us. We ask if we can spend the night in the Keep and Valio tells us it is in the service of the Priestess (Cena?) in Dulwich. They are trying to repair the Stronghold so it can serve as a sanctuary from the escalation of tensions in town under Mayor Weido's increasingly authoritarian rule. He asks the party for a fee of 5 gold pieces to spend the night as a kind of donation to the cause.
The party balks and offers the 2 gold they just found the night before, Ioelena tries to intimidate Valio into a reduction, but neither intimidation nor diplomacy are able to sway him. The party resigns itself to the 5 gp fee and spend the rest of the day helping out around the Stronghold. Hil gives Valio a marked token and tells him to find us in Westmarch if they ever need any help dealing with Weido.
Day 04: The night and following day on the trail to the Shadowed Keep are uneventful and the party arrives at their destination. The Bandit Tower's lights are on as night falls, suggesting they still inhabit the tower. The front gate is still accessible by slipping through and the party decides to try sneaking into the Keep without confronting the bandits. The donjon itself seems to remain empty, so the party quietly heads down the stairs to the goblin catacombs.
At the base of the stairs, we find 4 new goblin guards sitting around a fire pit. They are complaining about being left behind on a hunt or raid. Hilniflit is in the lead coming down the stairs and envelops them in flames from her burning hands, two die instantly. In less than a few seconds, the party fills the guards with arrows and subdues them all, including two additional goblin guards skulking in the corners of the room.
Pear interrogates one of the goblins and learns that Razagan, the goblin leader, is out hunting with a larger group of goblins. Someone makes the executive decision to kill the goblin, citing rear guard safety concerns. A set of stairs that were either unobserved or didn't exist the last time we visited the Keep lead down into lower levels. The party decides to go down and explore further.
The long stairway leads down to a 20 foot pit filled with sludge. Leaping the sludge looks to be out of the question as the stairs leading up to the edge are steep and slick. Ioelena remembers she has a levitation potion on her posession and the party decides to levitate our strongest character across with the lightest members, who will then string a rope across, anchored at each end with pitons. Then the more dexterous characters can shimmy across the pit. This works and everyone gets across successfully.
At the end of the sludge pit hallway is a rotting door and we get through it easily. We come into a chamber with pillars and a bas relief mural of the Keep's original master, Ironwolf, battling goblins and hobgoblins heroically in the Battle of Slaughter Meadow. In the battle, Ironwolf eliminated the kobolds of Evenscales and defeated the goblins of the Severed Hand and Blood Moon tribe.
A short hallway across from the sludge pit hallway leads into a Chapel covered in slick, gray sludge. Two intricately carved statues of warriors with battleaxes flank an altar at the far end. On the altar is a rotting coffer that contains a golden idol of a warrior (30gp), a small set of silver chimes (10gp), a wrought iron bowl (10gp) and three dark green gems (15gp ea). The chapel is a Temple to Abadar, god of cities, wealth and merchants.
One of the temple alcoves leads to another door the party moves through, revealing a room filled with humanoid bones littering the floor and chains hanging from the ceiling with skulls on the end of them (including one of an ork – a creature that hasn't been seen for thousands of years). The room is difficult to move through because of the bone piles and a series of iron bars. The party is surprised by a group of skeletons that rise from the piles and attack. The skulls on the ends of the chains also aggressively snap and bite at the taller members of the party within reach of their chains. The skeletons are covered in frost and wield frozen swords. One of them stabs Pear. Finial channels divine energy in an effort to turn the skeletons and two of them crumble. Fledermaus puts arrows in the remaining two while Hilniflit uses mage hand to swing a mace hanging in the middle of the room. The mace is filled with holy water and the spray does some slight damage to the skeletons. In the process of destroying the skeletons, Hil may have accidentally burned the priceless ork skull that's potentially worth a lot of money and historical value.
But after the fight, the party searched the room and found, in addition to the holy water mace (an Aspergillum – which is not a flower, by the way), a rotting grave shift with gold stitching, gold earrings, a steel vial filled with a transmutation potion, oil of blessed weapon and a tapered 1' iron rod with pictures of heroism on it that turns out to be a rod of bull strength with 10 charges.
Across the room, the wall opens up to a large, rough-carved cavern with a wide chasm on the opposite side. The room is very cold, near freezing and the chasm is filled by a lake of black water after a steep drop. Finial is deeply unsettled by the room and senses a great evil.
Along the same wall as the opening to the skeleton vault is another opening that leads into a room filled with pillars holding up a ceiling that looks like it's about to collapse. The pillars are all carved to look like heroic statues all facing one direction except for one. As the party moves into the room, the odd statue begins to move and steps from its position and attacks. Hilniflit does some hasty rough calculation and figures out that if we take out a couple pillars, the ceiling will collapse. Rufus and Fledermaus devise a plan to wrap a rope around one of the nearest pillars and pull it down after Ioelena and Hil determine they are protected from magical damage.
But the statue proves to be a bit of a nuisance and gets in the way of things by smashing its massive stone weapon into members trying to collapse the room. Pear heroically grabs the rope and tries to maneuver past the statue, to get the rope around the closet two pillars (upper left on map). While trying to avoid the statue's weapon, the party tries to pull the pillars down, but are largely ineffective despite Hilniflit using the rod of Bull Strength to make people stronger. Ioelena decides to summon a pony to help with the pulling and Hil immediately casts Bull Stength on it to goose the chances. The pony proves to be sort of difficult to tie to the rope. But once the rope is effectively tied to the pony, the pillar begins to crack.
Finally, after throwing as much strength as possible into the effort, the party pulls the pillar out and the ceiling above begins to collapse. The ceiling lands squarely on the statue and a couple party members, the statue gets trapped by the rubble, but it's clear that it is going to free itself soon. Everyone managed to avoid the worst of the damage from the collapse, but many are hindered by the rubble and suffered some bruises and scrapes.
Finial rushes to the trapped statue and begins hitting it with Artificer's Touch to try and destroy it. The statue crumbles just as Finial runs out of casts per day.
At this point, everyone remembers there's a birthday they have to get back to at Westmarch and they return home immediately without searching the collapsed room.
Loot haul for Mission 6:
2 GP (spent) & 7 Sp
gold idol (30g), chimes (10g), bowl (10g), gems (15g x3)
Gold stitching from shift (?), gold earrings (?), steel transmutation potion (?), Rod of Bull Strength (8 charges left – in Hil's possession), oil of blessed weapon (?)