0730, Sul, 15 Octos, 3E998
The Heroes 4 Hire opened the hidden door concealed in the kitchen’s pantry and descended a long way down an underground staircase. At the bottom, the corridor turned a corner to the left and headed north for nearly another 100 feet, gently sloping down as it went. Along the stone walls there was an oil lantern hung from a metal hanger every so often, illuminating the tunnels with a consistent dim light. The passage then turned another left, heading west. As the party approached the last 15 feet before the corner, they suddenly entered an area of extremely powerful magnetism, and all their metal armor and weapons were pulled mercilessly toward the northern wall.
The entire team, except Alton Beeblebrox who wears no armor, was pulled from their feet and stacked up one atop the other against the wall, in a sort of horizontal dogpile that roughly resembled their two-abreast marching order. The strength of the magnetic field was impressively intense, and try as they might they could not pull nor slide from where they were stuck. Beeblebrox tried to help, but even with his assistance they could not overcome the magnetic field. Dajjal, sort of “on top” of the pile, could see a door 40 feet to the west along the northern wall of the passageway, so while others struggled he slipped out of his armor to go investigate the door.
Beyond, Dajjal found what appeared to be a guardroom, now empty. He quickly searched the room and found, among many other mundane items, a stretch of canvas over a wooden frame painted to look like the stone walls, concealing an alcove in the southeastern corner of the room. Inside he discovered a winch in perfect repair with chain that disappeared through a port in the stone wall, and figuring his pace count to put him back near the magnet trap in the hallway he decided to operate the winch. The team heard stone grind on stone, the magnetic field ended, and the four Heroes still stuck dropped onto the floor in a heap.
The party took a moment to reassemble themselves, and then continued following the passageway. Another 20 feet past the door that Dajjal investigated, the hall turned again to the north and ran a long, level stretch of about 100 feet. There it turned again back to east, and as the team turned they saw a wooden wall constructed to end the passageway about 70 feet from the corner, with a door set in the middle and a goblin’s face carved in relief in the center of the door. As the team approached, Lt. Diplo Norixius and Illyia Baham stepped onto a section of floor that proved to be false, a cover over a 20-foot pit with about four feet of water in the bottom. Illyia’s superior agility saved him from the collapsing floor, and he managed to arrest his forward momentum and balance on the back foot without falling in. Diplo, however, toppled head-over-heels into the pit, and smacked face first into the surface of the water like it was concrete… his Ring of Water Walking preventing him from penetrating. The pit did not completely fill the hallway left to right; it left a small ledge along both walls that a single person could traverse the 20-foot long pit with care and patience.
The party helped Diplo out of the pit, and then investigated the locked door with the goblin-faced carving. They found no keyhole to unlock the door, so they decided it would be simple to batter the door down with the portable ram. A single bash by Diplo and Greves splintered the door from its hinges. As the shattered door fell away, Illyia spotted a metal chain that was attached to the backside of the door jerk and then go slack. He shouted a warning to his comrades, as a section of wall another 30 feet beyond the destroyed door fell flat into the hallway and a series of huge logs began rolling down the sloping corridor at them, picking up speed.
Illyia, Diplo, Karraway and Dajjal immediately retreated back towards the pit, but Greves followed Beeblebrox as he charged forward towards the oncoming log-roll. Beeblebrox made a mighty leap, aided by his Boots of Striding and Springing and his Step of Wind Ki ability. It was close, but he came up just a little short; he landed just on the last rolling log, which threw him from his feet and banged him up. Greves had no hope of clearing the rolling logs. He leaped for his life, but landed shortly from where he had taken off and was steamrolled under log after log like a cartoon. Meanwhile, Dajjal and Illyia jumped into the pit, spinning in midair to dig daggers into the earthen front wall of the pit and arrest their descent, effectively hanging from handholds. Diplo and Karraway jumped into the pit in the nick of time, landing on and in the water respectively, as the logs rolled harmlessly over their heads to crash into the far wall down at the corner.
Again, the Heroes recovered themselves, getting everyone out of the pit and checking on the damage sustained by Greves and Beeblebrox. The end of the hallway where the log roll began turned again to the north, running another 100 feet across a grillwork of approximately 8-inch square holes every square foot… floor, walls and ceiling. The grillwork was covered in a black, slick, oily substance. Diplo threw a lit torch into the middle of the hallway as the team took cover around the corner, but nothing happened. Upon closer inspection, Illyia realized this was the same substance that covers a Boggle’s skin, making crossing the grillwork a bit precarious.
Diplo decided to penguin-slide it. He lay down on his tower shield, and Beeblebrox took two of the Shortswords +1 out of one of the Bags of Holding to stand on Diplo’s back and ski-pole the two of them along. With a running toboggan start, the two slid down the hallway, and the rest of the team watched as pop, pop, pop, pop, dark blue-gray skinned arms appeared out of the holes in the grid to make swiping grabs at the sliding adventurers. Beeblebrox poled away with the swords, but first one and then the other were snatched from the halfling’s hands as they slid. As fast as the arms appeared, they disappeared with their shiny booty. Luckily, the tower shield and its riders had plenty of momentum to carry them across to the other side. Once the rest of the team had observed this shtick, they removed any pilfer-able items from their belts and the like, held them above their heads out of the arms’ reach, and then gingerly walked across the grillwork one by one. Much to their happy surprise, no one fell and no thievery attempts were made.
Beyond the boggles’ lair the corridor again turned to the west, flanked with five doors which opened to storerooms full of goods and provision necessary to operate a fully functional fortress. 100 feet down the passageway turned to the south, where it ended in a set of large double doors after another 50 feet. Light was flickering from under the doors and screams of agony were heard from beyond. The Heroes 4 Hire breached the doors quickly, finding a massive stone chamber lined with columns and filled with torture devices, goblins, worgs and a few slaves receiving special attention. A huge chandelier with lit oil lamps swung from the ceiling and came crashing down in front of the door, singeing Diplo and Illyia as it started a puddle of flaming oil.
The party immediately engaged the goblins and the worgs, with Greves, Dajjal and Karraway charging in to melee, and Illyia, Diplo and Beeblebrox staying on the elevated entrance way to snipe with ranged weapons. An intense battle ensued, made worse be a surprise attack by two bugbears who flanked the team on the elevated entrance way through a secret door. The team up top concentrated on the bugbears, while the team downstairs whittled away at the goblins and worgs. Once the bugbears were slain, the full team peppered the worgs first and them mopped up the goblins, managing to take relatively little damage.
They rescued the three human slaves that were being tortured, tended to their injuries, and deposed them for information. They searched the room and the equipment, finding two alcoves off the room had been recently bricked up and one was plugged with a giant stone of some sort. They broke open the bricked up alcoves and found one housed a rabid wolf, which they slew immediately. The stone plug gave no recourse, and they decided it was a permanent seal they could not penetrate. Inside the iron maiden they found the edges of a secret door; however, it took a long time of fiddling with spikes before they figured out how to unlatch it.
Past the door in the iron maiden, they began following a naturally formed limestone tunnel, descending and getting more warm and humid as they went. The tunnel eventually opened onto a ledge in a great cavern filled with sharp stalagmites rising from the floor more than 30 feet below. Through the middle of the cavern were a series of five stalagmites that were flat on the top, big enough for one person and well worn with use, spaced about four feet apart. One could hop from one to the other all the way across, as long as one was careful of the moisture in the cave making everything slippery. As they stood there observing, a sudden hissing sound came from below and the entire cavern filled with steam, completely obscuring all vision.
The Heroes discussed options, but as time passed the steam dissipated, and they could see clearly again. Another five or six seconds later, the hissing occurred again and the steam returned. The party waited and timed it out, and discovered that the cavern was clear for about 5 or 6 seconds, followed by about 30 seconds of complete obscuration. Dajjal remembered seeing a stack of six timbers, each about four-feet in length, stacked near the iron maiden back in the torture room. He sent a teammate back to get the boards, who returned with them shortly. Dajjal placed the first board over the first gap, grabbed another board and crossed to the first stepping stone before the next cycle of steam. They repeated this process two more times, reaching the middle of the cavern, when Dajjal slipped and dropped, straddling the timber and nut-sacking himself in the worst way. Diplo also slipped off a timber, almost falling but catching himself precariously at the last second. Diplo decided to jump off, but impaled himself on the spiky stalagmites below.
As the steam cleared again, the party saw Diplo’s unconscious body below bleeding out. Karraway used a Healing Word to stabilize him from the ledge, and the rest of the team decided to circumvent the situation entirely by securing a rope to a piton and climbing down to the cavern floor. There they got Diplo back up on his feet and crossed the cavern, while Dajjal hopped the rest of the way to the opposite ledge whenever the steam was cleared. There he secured another rope and piton to facilitate his teammates climb back up to join him.
0800, Sul, 15 Octos, 3E998
What other surprises do the dungeons have in store? Who is the Agent of the Slave Lords running this operation? Will the Heroes continue losing magic items worth thousands of gold?
Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”