Episode 12 : Without A Caer

We enter the cavern beyond. There is a bridge some fifteen feet wide that extends along the length of the ice wall. Directly in front of us we see a rock face upon which there are growing a number of small ferns. Above us the cavern rises into darkness and we can not make out its heights. At each end of the bridge there is a set of stairs that spiral down to the floor below. Below us we see a pool set between the spiralling staircases. In the middle of the pool, about fifteen feet below us, there is a second bridge perpendicular to ours. This bridge leads from some chamber, currently concealed from us beneath our feet, it leads directly across the pool onto the beach beyond. The beach is partially sheltered by the overhang from the rock face. The staircases also lead into this covered area.

There is movement below us. At the pool on our left we see a giant dung beetle drinking. The dung beetle is at least ten feet at the shoulder, and thirty feet long. It cracks its back shell and tests it wings, they cause a droning throng which then grows. We see to our right, a skeleton, a nine foot tall skeleton, a nine foot tall troll skeleton wielding a halberd strolling along the beach. A second dung beetle appears next to the first and moves to the water. As a group we move to our left, sneaking or leaping. Hanz Josephson stands his ground. The dung beetle takes flight. Werner Faßenberg cast leaping on Hanz Josephson, who leaps to us. The dung beetle heads straight up into the lofty heights above us. Only Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt's sharp ears hear its pitch change as it enters some tunnel high above.

Hanz Josephson cast facades and become a small seven foot tall troll skeleton. Stefan cast intuition and goes exploring from our vantage point on the stairs. He is able to move from the staircase onto the beach and under the overhang. From this vantage point he sees to his right that the second bridge leads into a room situated beyond the ice wall and under the ice lake. Here he sees a throne, upon which the draped form of a female resides. She is attended by two troll skeletal warriors. To the left Stefan sees a staircase leading upwards, at the base of which were two troll skeletal warriors, they are both rapidly advancing on him. The troll skeletal warrior, on patrol, on the beach, has also seen him and is making a rapid pace towards him, halberd upheld. Stefan cancels the spell.

Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, informs us that it looks like the troll skeletal warrior on the beach is making a regularly wore patrol and will soon be coming up the staircase on which we currently stand. We move up the staircase, over the bridge and down the other side. On this side we see that to our right is a cave, separated from the floor by the staircase. From this cave we can smell the rotting of bodies and spy movement of small dung beetles. We take temporary shelter behind the staircase. Our Pysk watches, while we discuss our strategy. "Hey guys, she's walking onto the bridge.". The female robed figure is moving from the throne room beneath the ice lake to the main staircase. She has a headband on her head, her left hand seems to be made of metal and in her right hand she wields a Serpent Staff, with glowing red jewels for eyes. We agree that this maybe our best and only chance, we elect to act.

Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, says, "She has stopped, right in the middle of the bridge and has turned and is now facing the throne room. Her hands are raised. The water is churning.". Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, and Werner Faßenberg cast leaping on Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt, Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter. They leap behind her and attack. She is caught completely off guard. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt goes berserk, sends his broadsword into her. The weapon connects but seems to scrape and bounce off her cloak, only delivering a flesh wound. His second blow fairs better, her magic spent, his shortsword drives deep into her thigh, shattering the bone and severing the artery. She drops, her staff clatters to the ground. Heinz Meier whacks her with his morning star, slicing deeply into her other leg causing more bleeding.

Tentacles appear on the bridge, a kraken rises from the icy lake. Hanz Josephson and Wilhelm Schults's sling slugs ineffectively strike at the beast. Gunther Sturmritter brings his sword down on the prone form of the witch but glances off her neck. The troll skeletal guards at the staircase turn and start approaching the bridge. Werner Faßenberg raises the Wand of Ice Bolts and sends an ice bolt into one of the troll skeletal warriors. He shatters its ribcage, but the troll skeletal warrior keeps moving. Stefan sends a sling slug into the other, damaging it too. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt attacks the witch again, his blade thrusting under her armpit and destroying a variety of organs in her chest. His second blow slices deep into her calf. Two troll skeletal warriors race from the throne room directly at Gunther Sturmritter and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt. The eyes on the serpent staff glow, magic forms, and Gunther Sturmritter is stunned and mesmerised. The fastest troll moves to strike. It raises its halberd high to swing. Hanz Josephson shatters one of its arms with a sling slug and its weapon clatters on the bridge before Gunther Sturmritter. It can now but scrape at Gunther Sturmritter's armour with its one remaining claw.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt continues to beat the motionless form on the bridge, breaking her back and driving the fragments of bone into what remains of her chest cavity, but still she lives. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt snaps from frenzy, and cries, "Leaping!". Both mages respond with leaping spells on all three combatants. The eyes of the staff flare at Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt, he ignores it. Hanz Josephson shatters another arm from another troll skeletal warrior, its halberd falls to the ground. The skeletal warrior on Gunther Sturmritter strikes, Gunther Sturmritter full parries, and is spun about in a dazed state. Heinz Meier shoulder lifts the broken witch and leaps to our group. Werner Faßenberg again fires an ice bolt at the troll skeletal warrior he hit before, this time the creature is on the bridge and the shot knocks its legs against the small railing, sending it over the side and into the ice lake. Gunther Sturmritter leaps and lands next to the main staircase leading up. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt kicks the serpent staff into the water and leaps away.

All skeletal warriors turn towards our group and begin to close. Hanz Josephson and Stefan continue to sling the creatures. Heinz Meier keeps thumping the body of the witch, "Die, damn you, die!". Moments pass and then all the skeletons fall into a pile of broken bones. We heave a sigh of relief. The Pysk moves to Gunther Sturmritter. The water churns and from the depths comes a tentacle which holds firmly in its suckers, a golden serpent staff with eyes glowing bright red. It is directed at our small little group. Stefan runs back into the dung beetle cave. Werner Faßenberg leaps onto the bridges staircase, Hanz Josephson leaps to the other side towards the central staircase. Boom, a cold ball explodes about Wilhelm Schults and Heinz Meier. Both are covered with frost, but Wilhelm Schults lies unconscious on the ground.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt fires his bow into the tentacle wielding the serpent staff, striking it. Hanz Josephson slings the tentacle and moves closer to the main staircase. The tentacle twists the serpent staff to point at the troll skeletal warrior racing up the central staircase. A cold ball appears about Hanz Josephson and knocks him unconscious on the staircase. Werner Faßenberg fires a ice bolt at the tentacle but cause little damage. He leaps to the top of the bridge, directly above the entrance to the throne room and lies prone, preparing a spell. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt again fires his bow, but this time the arrow used is one dipped in that vilest of poisons, found with the evil rangers. He moves to the staircase. Stefan races to Wilhelm Schults and wakes him, they stagger to the main staircase. Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, directs the still bedazzled Gunther Sturmritter up the staircase and adds some leaping too. Our group races up, Stefan is last and his butt freezing from the effects of a cold ball. Werner Faßenberg is now all alone in the cavern. He exits, by casting multiple leaping, and quickly gains on Stefan before leaping them both further up the staircase and away from the Kraken and serpent staff.

Above us the main staircase ends with a set of two fifteen foot wide copper clad double doors. We pause to draw our breath. Below we again hear thrashing in the water. The sound of a Kraken gone mad, the poison is taking its effect. In front of us stand the twin copper doors, the stone work in which they are set shimmers with an icy glow, and a coldness radiates from the doors themselves. Stefan examines the doors but finds no locks or handles. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt returns down the staircase, he sees the thrashing of the water and quickly moves onto the witches body, lifts it and heads back to the staircase. He hears high above the sound of buzzing. The sound comes closer. He races up the staircase. We strip the body of magical items, purloining her belt, bone ring, circlets, cloaks, and silver hand. Wilhelm Schults tests what effect the copper clad doors have upon flesh by tossing the body against them. The body freezes solid in moments and tumbles back down, a solid block of ice.

Meanwhile below at the base of the staircase a huge beetle has wedged itself into the opening and started clawing its way forward. The staircase sides crumble as it moves up step by slow step. The beetle fills the space completely. The ceiling cracks as its horn and carapace back connect. This lumbering beast comes towards us, unstoppable, coming ever onwards. Werner Faßenberg prepares and cast fire bolt, the spell goes wild and slams into the staircase wall next to the beetle. Werner Faßenberg is left stunned. Hanz Josephson, Stefan and Heinz Meier sling the beetle as it makes its approach, the slugs striking its thick carapace hide bounce off like pebbles. We stand prepared for battle, between an icy death of the copper doors and this irresistible object that is the giant dung beetle.

Gunther Sturmritter, Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt and Heinz Meier stand at the front of our group fighting this moving stone wall with their swords and morning stars. Hanz Josephson, Gunther Sturmritter and Stefan stand behind casting sling slugs at the beetle. The mages prepare spells. The beetle gobs at Heinz Meier, slime covers his chest, slowly dissolving his chest cloth covering. At the same time the beetle's head whips to one side crushing Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt between it and the side wall. Both men continue to fight. Again the beetle and our group exchange blows, all the while it closes the distance between us and the door.

Werner Faßenberg stands before the copper door. "I'm going to open a portal, get ready!", he cries out. He whispers, "Axraam give me strength.". He touches the door and cast portal, a spell three levels above his own. On contact with the door Werner Faßenberg's arm numbs and freezes, almost solid, frostbite sets in. But before him is a portal through one of the copper clad doors. Beyond is revealed the jet black darkness of an unlit cavern. Stefan shouts, "It's open, lets get out of here!", as he assists the stunned Werner Faßenberg though the opening. Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, quickly follows and flies in and up. Hanz Josephson is one step behind and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt follows suit.

Gunther Sturmritter and Wilhelm Schults continue to fight the beetle up the staircase. The beetles mandibles nip into Wilhelm Schults arm just before he ducks through the portal. Gunther Sturmritter follows last. The beetle continues trudging up the staircase to the doors.


(c) 1999 Hammerstein Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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