Burgrat's Wall & the Cloud of Knives - September
THE RIDER RIDES
In the Underdark creatures have many ways to know when danger is coming. Some have Darkvision or Infravison
while others rely on sound or smell. Some have an acute sense of motion and vibration and could feel this threat
long before it arrived but even creatures that did not rely on this felt the ground shake long before the great
wyrm charged thru their domain. In areas that had lamination they could see the glimmer of its shiny red scales
as it charged past. Almost none noticed because of fear or awe the small figure clinging to its back eyes closed.
Rider Jaxx held on tightly to Binder, the long curved dagger. A powerful Mage crafted it from; legend has it, the tip of a claw from the mother of all dragons to bind Dragons to his will. He was successful to a point. He found out to late that the daggers powers only last so long leavening a resentful Dragon to exact its revenge. For Centuries now the Kobolds in this region had used it in with their worship of Dragon kind to find and raise small dragons close to their temples and use them to help defend against more powerful races. This has allowed them to grow to be a major power in the region under the Azure Kingdom. It is unknown how the Kobolds acquired this relic since they only say it was by divine power they got it.
Rider Jaxx may have had his eyes closed but he still saw the tunnels through the eyes of the Dragon he rode. He also felt the stone beneath the Dragons feet because he was one with the Dragon. He told the great Wyrm of the valiant cause they were on but he could only feel the rage and resentment from his host as it was held in its mental prison. Jaxx thought of his journey to the temple with the surface dwellers and how they had mocked him for avoiding battles. He had been raised to be a Rider, as were others. Only a few would ever ride but the need to always have Riders was a priority. Riders were trained to ride the Wyrm and only that. They had to know the Underdark and all its tunnels that could handle the size of the Dragon. They were taught to think as there host and know its powers and limitations. They trained to fight as a Dragon and only as a dragon. They were taught how to avoid combat for they must foremost reach their host at all cost in a time of need. Never take any unnecessary risk that might keep him from his destiny he was told. Now he rode as he had trained his whole life for. Now he was the hope his people had for survival. Today he would defeat those who sought to destroy his people. Today he would die at the hands of his enemies or his host. This he knew as a fact.
MOLASH AND THE DEFEAT OF GROTTEN REDFANG
General Grotten Redfang watched as the battle raged on from a tunnel entrance to the great cavern where the
Kobold City of Wraktoko stood. One of the three Capitals of the Toko Triad, the large Kobold nation dominating
this Underdark region. It was built on one side of the huge cave with high wall sloping up and over it on one side
and a deep chasm around the others. The bridges had all been destroyed probably by the Kobolds as a defensive tactic
against the throng of Gnolls that were now bringing wheeled Bridges forward under fire. Grottens force of close
to 500 Orks had picked up the trail of the band of Gnolls that had massacred the Ork outpost close to the Crossing.
That group had only numbered a few hundred but as they followed them down into the Underdark toward the Kobold
Kingdom the signs of other warring parties joined them. It had grown to a few thousand just before they reached
Wraktoko. Know to his dismay and amazement he saw what had to be over ten thousand Gnolls advancing on the Kobold
The closest bridge to his position was the first to be placed and Grotten took advantage of this to launch a surprise attack. He had his army form a wedge with his battle Mages and Clerics in the center and Archers in the rear and pushed through the Gnolls exposed flank toward the bridge. It was a great success and his forced gained access to the bridge but then things turned bad. The figure of a white Gnoll looking to be a shaman leading a group Robed Gnolls and through sheer number of spells was able to out spell his battle Mages and to his shock bring down a volley of fireballs on the line of engaged fighters engulfing both Gnoll and Ork engulfing them in a fiery death. Then, into the gap, pored a few dozen small hooded figures. All around 3 feet tall. With amazing speed they closed toward his spell casters who unleashed a round of lightening bolts held in reserve for such a time. The shock was that besides some smoldering robes these figures were not slowed whatsoever and tore into the mages and clerics with a ferocity and strength far beyond their size.
Without magic he knew his forces would not last long so he ordered a fighting retreat across the bridge into the Kobold City seeing it was his only hope to keep most his remaining force from being slaughtered. He and his personal Guard brought up the rear and drew close the bridge just as horns were heard and the Gnolls that were engaging them drew back and parted to reveal a large Black armored fighter wielding a two handed weapon looking like a combination sword and spiked flail. By his size Grotten thought him to be a very large Ogre as it moved toward him. "I, Molash challenge your leader to personal combat". Redfang stepped forward hoping to buy time for his men to finish crossing the bridge. When the two engage the Ork leader's speed and skill proved to compensate for the size difference of the foe that was over twice his size. He even saw his chance to win when the Black Armored fighter let his guard down and Grotten delivered a devastating blow to the side of his head. The Blade that had been in his family over a hundred years and had enchantments that had never failed to fall a enemy with such a blow sliced through the helm only to stop suddenly jarring it from his grip. It was a surreal sight to see this large armored figure with a sword embedded in the side of his head suddenly increase the speed of his attacks and rain down blows on the Ork General. Then with a great arcing overhead swing his weapon came down on Grottens uplifted shield and never stopped.
Grotten Redfang stared in disbelief as half his enchanted magic shield fell to the ground. It occurred to him just before the world went black that his arm from the forearm down was still attached to that half.
THE SMELL OF WET DOG (or THE UNDERDARK FLOODS)
Dakkot Yasadraylson stood on the wall surrounding Wraktoko resolved to the fact his home would soon fall to
the Gnoll horde. The young Kobold Mage, Advisor to the three Queens of the Toko Triad, Apprentice and Agent to
The Great Vavasha watched as the invaders started scaling the walls of the city. It was only a few hours ago that
he had watched General Grotten Redfang go down in defeat to the Black Armored commander of the opposition. Grotten's
Personal Guard had fought valiantly to retrieve his unconscious body and cross the bridge the Gnolls had just placed.
They were even able to push it off into the chasm it span with great lose of life to delay the invaders. But the
Gnoll army was able to finally setup and defend 4 more bridges after losing two to Kobold sapper teams that were
fireballed to oblivion while destroying them. Though the Kobold defenders had inflicted a large amount of casualties
on the Gnolls but the vast numbers seemed to not care as they attacked with rabid fury. Almost all of his mages
and priest had exhausted their spells and the first of the enemy was scaling the walls since the supply of oil
was depleted and it was only a matter of time till a breach was made as the enemy's siege machines were starting
to wreck havoc on the wall defenses.
Suddenly there was a roar and like a wave the throng of Gnolls turned toward a point at one side of the cavern. A huge flame swept across the forces gathered around one of the large access tunnels and through the smoke charge a huge red Dragon with a small figure clinging to its back. This was Rider Jazz who Dakkot Had sent off with the finders a few days before. This was the deterrent the Kobolds had always relied on to hold off transgressors but when the temple had been taken it put its use in doubt since the relic binder was there. Now there was a glimmer of hope for them since the Rider Jazz Dragon was tearing through the Gnolls with reckless abandon. The carnage also helped the Kobolds repel the Gnolls off the wall once again. Dakkot noticed his pet Dire Weasel, Zexel was shivering at his feet at the presence of this awesome Wyrm.
The battle went on for some time till Dakkot noticed a small group of riders on large Lizards come out of another tunnel. Upon closer inspection the riders were Drow and one in particular stood out since unlike most, which proudly showed their White head of hair, this one displayed a smooth head. They drew up on a rise close to the Dragon and the Bald one pointed toward the back of the Dragon and the group drew bows and launched vollies at its back. Rider Jazz had been found out. Multiple arrows struck and Jazz's body seemed to jerk around as the Dragon also turned to shield him from the Drow. But the damage had been done and his twitching body finally slipped from its perch and was thrown to the side. His body no more than hit the ground as the Dragon turned and snapped it up in its jaws before fleeing off back the way it had come.
Dakkot did a risky thing at that point he Dimensioned Doored to the spot where Jazz had landed and with a little luck and a detect magic spell found the Dagger Binder and Teleported back to his tower in the city before the surprised intruders could react. He ran to the Window to watch the now depleted Gnoll army draw back at the sound of the horns. They still outnumbered the Kobolds but did not have enough to attempt a siege of the city. The Large Black armored figure came forward flanked by the Albino Gnoll Shaman and his Acolytes on one side and the bald bearded Drow and his riders on the other a draped covered cart drawn by some heavily armored large Gnolls followed closely behind. His voice boomed out across the vast cavern," You may have one this Battle but you have lost the war. We will soon return to finish this, so promises Molash" his laughter echoed across the Cavern as his troops gathered up everything of value from the field and with drew through the tunnels.
Soon after refugees from all over the Kobold Kingdom straggled to the City. The other two Capitols, Dregkoto and Brudkoto had fallen and all that did not die or escape were now enslaved. Gnoll armies of comparable size along with Ogres, Bugbears and Hobgoblin Mercenaries had succeeded without the aid of the Rider-Dragon. Then what might have been a disaster before became a Godsend. A great flood gripped the Underdark as the Azure Kingdom thawed. Moist the main tunnels had cave-ins and the routes the Gnoll armies would have returned thru were blocked, but for how long?
After spending a few days in the shining city of Nexus, the party prepared to leave for their home. They were approached in the street by a well-meaning mage that Zeek had accosted in the street a week or two before. He provided Zeek with a book of rules for the city, and each member of the party a small supply of magical confections with minor enchantments.
We returned magically to the World of Kempin with Jeremiah's help...and approached the walled City of Cornwalsh. We were warned telepathically to approach the city only from the ground. Turned away from one of the main gates, we were told to enter the city through the small side gate. This is where non-citizens are questioned and prepared prior to being allowed to enter the city. Damon was the only actual citizen of Cornwalsh. Everyone else was given armbands to wear, and warned to remain in the refugee portion of the town...a vast tent-city...after sundown.
The party entered the city, and were shocked to see a tent that was identified with a sign as the "Castle Bar." We entered the tent, and were greatly overjoyed to find that Ockrote...the dwarven bartender...was alive and well. He had been on a purchasing trip at the time the City of Hope and its citizens were destroyed. A businessman to his core, he had started over with a new bar in a new town...and things were looking up!
At our request, Ockrote sent a messenger to contact the kobold prince Dakkot...and ask him to meet with us. While we waited, a dark-haired female named Zela approached Oren and reminded him of how they had met. Months before Oren had sought to protect Zela from the advances of a rather drunk and obnoxious critter in the town of Greenmark. Oren asked us all to leave the table, and we all agreed. None of us wanted to watch Oren make the moves on a human chick....
Dakkot arrived with several demi-human guards...Dork the Ork, and Geek the Hobgoblin. He also had his large weasel familiar with him...Drexal the Weasel. Dakkot approached the larger party sitting at a new table. He explained his fears that the gnoll armies are re-opening the water-logged and collapsed tunnels, and plan to finish off the last of the kobold capitals. It is quite possible that the gnolls have taken over an ancient city belonging to the deep gnomes...the city of Zukazhan. The "thrumming" of machinery can be heard. In addition the gnolls seem to be led by a dark lord named Molash. Molash is a huge armored dark figure, amazingly powerful in battle. Molash recently defeated Grotten Redfang, chopping through the ork general's shield and his arm. Molash's armor appears to be drow in origin!
Dakkot explained that the Underdark that is located under the Azure Kingdom is still accessible. This suggests that the magical shell or dome over the entire Kingdom has a floor to it...preventing the demons from escaping through the Underdark. This was a change in how the party pictured the magical shield, because we had assumed that the shield cut deep into the earth...or was actually a sphere...with only the top half exposed to the air. In truth it appeared to be a half-sphere with a floor just beneath the surface of the earth....
The pay for the mission was in precious stones...and was estimated by Oren to be worth 6000 gps. Oren dickered with Dakkot, and got him to agree to give us a bonus if we are highly successful. Dakkot gave us a map to help us find the deep gnome city, and scout the Gnoll armies and their progress. Zeek asked about Rider Jazz...and confirmed that Jazz is indeed dead. Dakkot told of tales, legends, and songs all written to honor the bravery of Rider Jazz in defending the kobold capital. Zeek asked for another Rider or the relic dagger that allows control of dragons...and Dakkot refused.
Dakkot instruct us to get to the Underdark by going to an orkish city, Torkor-doc, in a northern spur of the blue mountains to the southwest of Cornwalsh...just short of Lornki. The party discussed the Dragon's Tear...and when we need to tackle the demons in the Azure Kingdom. There was some arguing...with no real resolution to the question.
We were approached by representives of the city...Col. Kane of the city guard and Panjasar head security mage of the city. They asked us to leave the city proper and the refugee tent-city prior to sundown. It seems the Finders' reputation had followed them to the City, and people were worried about them staying there overnight. After all, bad things follow the Finders. Damon agreed to make sure the party was gone by sundown. Zeek argued about leaving, and Damon continued stepping in and promising that we would leave by sundown. Zeek continued to argue about their right to remove us from the city....and eventually the Colonel and Panjasar took their leave of us. This whole situation forced Zeek to cancel his later plans with Zela.
Oren and Zeek sought out a bard to tell good stories about the Finders of the Keey. Their friend Colin agrees to tell bardic stories of the party in the City of Cornwalsh, and to try to improve their reputation. Damon disappeared for a few hours in the afternoon, and seemed hesitant to discuss what he had been up to. Jeremiah went to the local churches in order to worship and give his respects. We spent the night outside of town, without incident. The next morning, Col. Kane approached our camp and asked that we remove ourselves from the area of the City of Cornwalsh altogether. "As far away as possible, as soon as possible...please." Zeek demanded documentation, and was refused.
Our journey there was uneventful...as Jeremiah "wind-walked" all of us there but Zeek. Jeremiah's first spell failed, and through a commune spell, we determined that the spell failure was a "side-effect" of the huge magical shield that had been cast around the Azure Kingdom. We also determined that Molash was NOT an outsider...and that the gnolls are definitely within the deep gnomish city of Zukazan!
Zeek was able to "windwalk" on his own, using his new-found powers. And in this way Zeek followed the party to Torkor-doc. Of course it took two full days for Zeek to re-materialize and become physical again. We found the city of Torkor-doc to be in a valley between very steep mountains...as most of the city extends underground. The party occupied itself in the orkish city with a variety of activities not worthy of mention in a heroic tale such as this. Once Zeek re-appeared, the orks showed us down into the Underdark.
The orks informed us that the Underdark had been flooded by the melting ice and snows of the Azure Kingdom, and that much of the more nasty and unintelligent creatures had been washed away and killed. We left the ork guides behind, and travelled on by ourselves. We passed some ork outposts and out-lying forts...and eventually, we passed any further contact with orks.
After travelling underground for several days, we saw a light in a chamber ahead. It was a huge chamber, with an underground river cutting through it, and a 30' tall wall cutting straight across it. There were gnoll archers on top of the wall and at least one ogre towering above the wall! With the ogre was a large figure in gold armor, a gnoll shaman, and two small hooded figures. Damon used to spell to make himself invisible, and then snuck forward, climbed the wall, looked around behind the wall, and then crept back to the party to tell them what he saw. Twenty to thirty gnolls with ogre sergeants were camped beind the wall. The figure in gold armor was a large gnoll.
The party began discussing its strategy...finally settling on attempting to negotiate with the gnolls. Oren was our negotiator, and told the gnolls that we were the Finders, and that we had released the demons. Oren made claims that we were there to speak with Molash, and perhaps join him. The Archers fired two volleys of arrow at Oren and Jeremiah before their sergeant was able to stop their firing. Meanwhile, Damon snuck up by the wall and climbed partway up...ready to fight if necessary!
Ogres, a gnoll shaman, and a gold-armored gnoll warrior mounted the wall. The gnoll shaman demanded to know who we were and what we wanted. Oren continued to negotiate, in his odd way, with the gnolls! Casiel climbed up onto the ceiling, and climbed along to a point behind the wall and over the underground river. Oren asked to speak with Molash, and the gnoll shaman demanded to hear what message that Oren was bringing. Oren told him of the demons, the sealing of the Azure Kingdom, and again asked to see Molash.
The gnoll shaman, Burgrat, asked Oren to come closer, and Damon scampered over the wall to the other side. Oren told the shaman that one way or the other, this information would reach Molash, and that perhaps Burgrat should get on board and help make things happen. The gnoll then asked Oren, "Do you intend to harm Molash in any way...or are you against Molash?" Oren answered, "I would have to talk to Molash first...we must see what he does with this information. I do not anticipate being against Molash...and we are no threat anyway...as you can see."
Burgrat the gnoll shaman offered to allow Oren to go to Molash, but everyone else must stay behind. Oren reminded the shaman that he was not a diplomat, and that some of the party must accompany him. The Shaman offered to allow the party to move on...if and only if, they left one party member with the gnolls at this location. Oren said we must discuss it, and the entire party (except Casiel) retreated into the tunnel in order to discuss the next step...AND A PLAN WAS FORMENTED!
Oren walked Zeek up to the wall, as the designated "captive." The gnolls took Oren and Zeek over the wall. The golden-armored gnoll's armor, was not mostly black...and we supposed that this represented some sort of magical enchantment. Oren and the gnolls discussed his armor briefly...and the gnoll reluctantly answered his questions. The gnolls put a hood on Zeek, as well as cuffs and chains on his hands and feet. The rest of the party was brought over the wall...and Damon came along with them invisible.
The party was being led away towards a tunnel. Damon was going to help Zeek, but one of the golden-armored gnolls was able to magically see Damon. Damon played it off, and followed behind the party...stumbling along so as not to look suspicious to the one damn gnoll who can see him! Zeek acted ill, hoping they would take his hood off. Instead, a gnoll shaman cast some sort of spell on Zeek meant to make him feel better.
Once in the tunnels, Jeremiah cast his blade barrior spell behind the party...catching the invisible Damon in the area of effect. Damon was seriously cut up by the spell (61 freakin' points!) Damon stepped backwards into the room, where both the chained-up Zeek and ceiling-hanging Casiel remained behind. Meanwhile, combat broke out in the tunnel between the majority of the party and their gnoll and ogre escorts. Everything was mayhem and bloodshed!
Oren growled at the gnoll guards and said, "I am a demon! Step into the blade barrior and kill yourself quickly...or stand and fight me...and once you are dead, I will hunt down and kill your family." The gnolls hesitated briefly, but then growled and renewed their attack. Oren hacked one to the ground with his axe...and seriously injured the other, all the while yelling, "I'm going to eat your family...I'm going to eat your family!" A golden-armored gnoll cast a spell, and a stone wall blocked the tunnel in front of the party. Meanwhile Zeek rolled off the cot upon which he was bound on...and opened his clenched fist. The stone of darkness that Jeremiah gave him poured forth with darkness...stealing away the sight of many gnolls and ogres. Zeek flexed his muscles and his metal bindings shattered...but the stone of darkness flew free from Zeek's hand and was lost.
The tunnel fighting continued...while one of the gnolls dropped the blade barrier spell with some sort of dispel magic casting. Jeremiah yelled, "EVERYONE INTO THE TUNNEL NOW!" Damon sprinted invisibly towards the tunnel, and just happened to run into another invisible entity, that grunted loudly when Damon struck him. Damon lost his balance and fell to the ground near the mouth of the tunnel. Casiel, using levitation, ran upside down along the ceiling towards the tunnel entrance. A gnoll shaman appeared from no where as a lightning bolt sprung from his fingers down the tunnel. The electrical charge sparked and burned its way down the hallway with a crisp white light!
A golden-armored figure chopped at Zeek in the darkness. Meanwhile, Oren ate a dirt-flavored confection and ran through the stone wall in the tunnel. Oren was yelling, "We can't let them get to Molash and warn him that we're coming!" Zeek ran for the tunnel as quick as he could, pulling the hood from over his head. The gnolls were crowding towards the tunnel entrance...blocking his way. Jeremiah threw up a second blade barrier, catching Damon in the spell again (61 points again!) Damon lurched forward, making it into the tunnel. A gnoll shaman had made it into the tunnel with him...so Damon turned and hacked at him with his sword...damaging him heavily. But now Damon was visible! Jeremiah rushed over, touching Damon...and all his wounds were instantly...miraculously healed!
Zeek was surrounded by an ogre and several gnolls, who pinned him to the wall. Ruahdin was exchanging blows with the small hooded figure, both of them horribly injuring each other. Damon, now fully healed, hacked the shaman near him until he fell in a bloody heap on the tunnel floor. Casiel...still outside the tunnel was taking all sort of damage from black metal arrows fired by the gnolls, as he attempted to flee across the ceiling. Worrying for his life, Casiel turned off his belt of levitation and fell 120 feet into the rapidly moving underground river. Zeek was exchanging blows with the ogre, wounding him seriously.
Jeremiah cast a flame strike spell on the one shamen that was still stuck within the spinning blade barrier...and the shaman perished...screaming within the flames. Damon hacked the head off the gnoll shaman that he had killed with his sword, and threw his dog-like head through the blade barrier screaming, "I'll kill all you gnolls if I get the chance!" Meanwhile the ogre, on his last leg from Zeek's nerve strikes, swung viciously at Zeek with a two-handed great sword...wielded in one hand. Blood spurted out of the large hacking wound that Zeek suffered. Convinced that he was not going to be able to fight his way out of this...Zeek dimension doored out of the crowd or enemies and beyond the blade barrier. Meanwhile, Casiel levitated out of the raging river and ran from the chamber the way we initally entered it.
Jeremiah, Ruahdin, Damon, and Zeek each ate dirt-flavored confections and walked through the wall that had been erected in the tunnel. We rushed along the tunnel in hopes of catching up with Oren. When we found him he was standing by the dead ogre who had run to warn Molash.
Moving on we found a huge underground city, with all the buildings carved into huge stalagmites. Legions of gnolls, drows, bugbears, ogres, trolls, and hobgoblins all wandered the streets of the city. There were thousands of gnolls just on the streets! How many more were within the buildings. Ruahdin examine our map, and whispered, "That is the deep gnomish city of Zukazon." Zeek smiled in the dark. "Well that answers that question...the gnolls have indeed taken the gnomish city. Now we have something to report to Dakkot."
The tunnel the party was following bypassed the city of Zukazon in some side tunnels, and made their way down a long set of stairs. The party found themselves standing before a secret door that we believe leads into a room below a huge domed stalagmite in the center of the city above. Jeremiah cast a wall blocking the tunnel behind us...protecting us from anyone approaching us from behind. "We need to rest...and regain our spells." Jeremiah then walked through the wall, shaped the other side to look like rubble, and then returned to us.
Damon listened at the door. The sounds of clanging metal and voices came from the other side of the door. Jeremiah cast comprehend languages, and realized that it was gnomish being spoken on the other side of the door. "Yes...here we will rest..."