Episode 13 : Taking Caer In The Dark
 

In the darkened cavern our eyes take in the scene that lies before us. The cavern is at least sixty feet high and extends beyond our vision. Beside the utter darkness we can make out in our lantern light that the whole cavern, save for this one spot about the doors, is draped by cobwebs. Just above us the cobwebs vibrate as Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, is caught by their stickiness. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt spies movement further up. He grabs Weldon Greenears and rips his, now unconscious form, from the webs and slaps him against the back of his shield. Heinz Meier, Gunther Sturmritter and Wilhelm Schults enter the cavern. Heinz Meier comes up to Werner Faßenberg and gives him his potion of frost cure. Through chattering teeth Werner Faßenberg says, "Ta.", and gulps down the potion. Life returns to his left arm.

Into our midst descends the biggest spider we have ever seen, sixty feet across, toe to toe. It scuttles down, Hanz Josephson sends a magical sling slug into it. The creature picks him up and sends its fangs into his side. Hanz Josephson collapses unconscious, poison seeping into his veins. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt goes berserk and delivers a combination of blows to the spider, stunning it. Werner Faßenberg points the Wand of Ice Bolts at the spider and shoots forth an ice bolt. The ice bolt causes the back carapace of the spider to buckle inwards. It swoons, Heinz Meier now strikes it, driving his morning star deep into its vitals. The giant spiders legs fold about it, as it dies.

Werner Faßenberg takes out his blue eye potion and drops a couple of drops into each of his eyes. The cavern lights up for him. Werner Faßenberg sees the exit, an archway over the other side of the cavern. He also spies some fifteen smaller spider forms, only man size this time, moving in the cavern and making a beeline our way. "Shelob has about fifteen children, and they are all coming this way!", cries Werner Faßenberg. The copper clad doors resound with the impact of the dung beetle, it has made the top of the staircase. The left hand door is flung open and slams against the sidewall. The giant dung beetle wedges itself through this doorway, a layer of icicles and frost having formed all over its body. Werner Faßenberg leaps away from the exploding door. Wilhelm Schults tumbles his way aside, but is struck lightly as the door follows its path, he stands on his feet prepared for battle a little way off.

Stefan tries to set alight the cobwebs. They sizzle only. Gunther Sturmritter takes a portion of the strength enhancing herb used by the trolls and goes into battle. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt goes berserk and attacks the giant beetle with all his might. Werner Faßenberg cast sudden light from his broach at the approaching spiders. There is a sudden flash and four come to an abrupt halt, one drops and folds its legs up. Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter thump their weapons into the giant beetle. Frost grows on the side of the beetle that is wedged hard against the door. Stefan stuffs some healing herbs into Hanz Josephson mouth. He groggily rises, a definite yellow tinge to all his features.

Again the fighters attack the beetle, pounding on its hard outer shell, shattering it in places. The frost from the door grows on the giant beetle and it shudders as half its form freezes. Still it continues to snap and spit. Werner Faßenberg again cast sudden light, and again four spiders stop and one curls into a ball. They are now only fifty feet away.

Three more spiders keep coming. One leaps at Gunther Sturmritter and scratches his armour, he cuts the creature in half with his sword. One is at Werner Faßenberg, who cast a sudden light at it, to no effect, Werner Faßenberg cast leaping and jumps to safer quarters. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt steps in and carves this spider in two. Stefan grabs Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt shield lying on the ground and pulls off Weldon Greenears, the Pysk. He dusts off the Pysk and washes off the cobwebs. The third spider is attacked by Heinz Meier and he knocks the creature unconscious. Wilhelm Schults continues to pound the still kicking beetle. The frost creeps over the beetle and it lies frozen, wedged in the doorway to the staircase leading down.

More spiders come at us. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt strikes one sending it unconscious. Another bites Wilhelm Schults though his armour, injecting its venom into his shoulder. Werner Faßenberg uses the Wand of Ice Bolts to send an ice bolt into a second spider on Wilhelm Schults, stunning the creature. Heinz Meier also has two spiders on him, he goes full defensive but one still manages a strike and sends its poison into him. Hanz Josephson comes up behind this one and drives his morning star into its skull, dropping it. Gunther Sturmritter slashes into another, cutting it in half.

Wilhelm Schults and Heinz Meier are still in the midst of spiders and are both fully defensive. Both Heinz Meier and Wilhelm Schults suffer spider bites. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt kills one with his sword, Werner Faßenberg another with an ice bolt, and Hanz Josephson yet another with his morning star. Moments later Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt, Wilhelm Schults and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt again dispatch the remaining attacking spiders. We kill those unconscious or stunned spiders we find on the ground, and we watch, warily, those last spiders that are left, who scuttle back high above into the safety of the darkened caverns heights.

Stefan administers some much needed healing to Heinz Meier and Hanz Josephson as we make our way towards the archway, burning the cobwebs as we go, to make our passage. The smell of mustiness and dampness assaults our nostrils as we peer through the archway. Beyond there is a large twenty foot wide passage which has at every twenty feet a side passage going off to the right. A quick investigation reveals sealed crypts, the only symbol we recognize is the one to the god Furaam, God of Fell Beasts. The passage continues identically to this section for about a thousand feet. We find there are approximately forty undisturbed crypts. The passage then branches, the left passage has a soft yellow glow emanating from it. The right continues with the rows of crypts, this time however they have all been opened.

Wilhelm Schults and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt stalk forward to investigate the left passage. The passage curves, there are black scorch marks on the outer curve wall. Wilhelm Schults advances and sees before him a cavern, hewn from the rock. In the center there is a gold dais with a golden throne. Upon the throne rests a morning star. The floor is littered with hundreds of skeletal remains. The light that emanates from this room comes from the throne itself. Attached to the throne are two large chains and to each of these there is a dog. A large dog. A twenty foot long dog. One dog sleeps but the other is watching both Wilhelm Schults and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt. A growling starts. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt draws his bow, notches a black tipped arrow and lets fly into the animal. The dog yelps, then woofs. Flames lick were Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt stood only moments before. They make a hasty retreat to the rest of our group.

We take stock and rest for a number of hours in the relative safety of the crypts. Heinz Meier and Hanz Josephson feel much better after a couple of hours. The poisons injected into them are being worked out of their systems. Meanwhile we loot the Furaam crypts and take from them many magical broadswords, longswords, shields, morning stars, warhammers, full helms, and a couple of suits of chain armour. Stefan also during this time cast intuition and tested a number of the items we were able to take from the witch. Her cloak was to cause Gunther Sturmritter pain, the gold circlet produced the image of the other two witches who quickly turned and attacked, the bone ring works as a multiplier for the cleric but saps all magic points from the casters of the other realms. After our rest we prepare for battle with the hell hounds as they guard their master's throne and also the exit from this tomb.

Weldon Greenears, the Pysk, cast leaving on Gunther Sturmritter and place him next to the hell hound that had been hit by Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt arrow earlier. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt charges the other and in a berserk rage inflicts a series of deep wounds. Gunther Sturmritter strikes and places a gash across the hell hound's face, it yelps with pain. Wilhelm Schults and Heinz Meier attempt to back up these two with their slings from afar only to both fumble and send their slugs into the wall behind them. Gunther Sturmritter's hell hound self immolates and a wave of fire engulfs Gunther Sturmritter. It then breaths a cone of fire which lashes about Heinz Meier and Wilhelm Schults who are now scorched and beat a hasty retreat. Werner Faßenberg cast earthwall and the barrier appears just in front of where Wilhelm Schults and Heinz Meier were. They have made their way back to Stefan for healing. Hanz Josephson and Werner Faßenberg advance up behind the earthwall.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt continues to strike at the hell hound. Gunther Sturmritter turns and sprints past his hell hound and runs past the throne. The hell hound turns about on the spot and follows him. The hell hound fighting Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt breaths a cone of fire directly at the earthwall, flames engulf the earthwall and lick at the two behind. Both Werner Faßenberg and Hanz Josephson are lightly scorched but the effect of putting both off their aim is achieved. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt strikes his hell hound and sends the creature unconscious. The second hell hound is struck by Gunther Sturmritter and again it breaths on him, his eyebrows permanently vanish. Hanz Josephson sends a sling slug at the hell hound striking it just below the tail, a yelp of pain issues forth. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt crosses the floor and smites the hell hound dead.

Stefan comes forward and starts the process of healing. When complete Stefan cast intuition and picks up the morning star lying on the throne. This morning star has the insignia of Axraam upon the handle. Stefan swings it about, it glows with each pass close to a person, and he discovers that it inflicts extra bleeding damage upon a successful strike. Stefan sits upon the throne and vanishes. He appears in the treehouse, he sees a lady on the balcony turn towards him as he also feels a sharp stab of pain in his back. The spell ends. Again he cast intuition, but this time in the intuition Stefan, Hanz Josephson and Heinz Meier jump onto the throne and all pass into the next room. A fight ensues with a man dressed in studded leather and armed with a battleaxe and the witch. Near the end of the intuition the witch carries the fight back into the cave, along with four of her guards. She raises her hands and the whole cavern starts to shake just as the intuition ends.

We decide to move on and advance into the corridor beyond the throne. Before us we see a mound on the floor, Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt investigates and finds the remains of one of the witches skeletal masters, he came equipped with a bow, quiver and four arrows with the black globes that caused the ice balls. We also find in this area four cloaks and four circlets all of which are cursed. We advance on and arrive at the stairs leading up to the surface. We exit this crypt with our booty of magical weapons and armour. At the top hanging upside down from a tree is the remains of the druid who had stayed at the entrance. We also spy in the trees an owl, most fowl, who watches us, and on approach, flies off to report. We cut the druid down and bury the body before starting our hike back to the druid encampment. Along the way we encounter a group of twelve rangers. Wilhelm Schults says, "Are they good rangers?". Werner Faßenberg replies, "No, not very good, not if we can spot them.". They were however good rangers and escorted us back to the druids encampment.

We are presented before Grandfather Edelrund who thanks us for our efforts. "My friends your deeds have not gone unnoticed. Two days ago we received news that the armies of walking trees were stopped in their tracks and took root. This coincided with the armies of skeletal warriors falling into simple piles of bones. We believe that when the witch died so ended her animations, for this we and the King are grateful and thank you. While we have won one battle the war still goes on, an army of the King is to attack the dragon and trolls in the north. We will be taking the fight to the witches too, our enclave is about to mount a concerted attack upon the treehouse with all people we can muster.".

Grandfather Edelrund continued, "We have also intelligence that one witch has left the treehouse and is headed to the coast, escorted by a group of evil rangers. We do not know which witch this is only that she is wearing red robes and that she is up to no good. This is where we must once again call on your aid. We have cast many a commune spell and our gods have sent us dreams. In those dreams we were informed that she must be stopped, this is vital, and that your party is in the fore of stopping her. We also know that this is a powerful foe, one who wields a staff called, "Lifeslayer.". Our dreams foretold that some of you will be slain by her but I stress again that it is vital that she be stopped.".

Grandfather Edelrund concluded, "We have been in touch with the King regarding your mission here and the King will grant your group a kingdomwide trading licence if you do this task for the greater good. While we cannot spare any men to accompany you in this task, as we go to fight our own battle, our hopes and prayers go with you in this grave task. We know that our faith in you is not misplaced, nor will your efforts go unrewarded.".

There is little that we can do but prepare ourselves as best we can to take on this witch and her evil rangers. We set out upon the five day journey to the lake. This journey is uneventfully. At the shore we turn north to try and cross the trail of the witch and her evil rangers.

 

 
(c) 1999 Hammerstein Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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