“We haven’t heard her since the battle began.” stated a very concerned Maribe. "We need to get down there and get down fast."
“Can’t do it.” replied the dwarf. He had examined the ground carefully and had hoped to be able to stake down some ropes and repel dow to their aid. "The ground around the pit isn’t stable. It can’t hold our weight. We may survive the fall but anyone underneath would certainly be crushed by the rock and debris. We can’t risk it.”
Maribe conceded. Getting down quickly wasn’t the answer if it put her sister and niece in danger.
Silj used the time wisely to scout out the options. “We have three choices. We can descend through the West tower into the caves below the fort and look for Jenna and Jasmine. We can ascend into the keep proper and look for survivors or we could make our way to the common ground and secure the rest of the courtyard.”
Gaylord turned to Jenna, “Your sister is the one at risk. You make the call.”
Maribe looked at each of her companions in turn, appreciative of the support they were giving. This was her fight but not a single one of them looked to be leaving her at her time of need. “Let’s descend through the tower. I know that Jenna is close and she may need our aid.”
Quickly the party descended down the stairs and shortly went from man-made passages to the more natural caverns below Fort Runehold. After just a brief walk they saw Jenna laying partially buried under a collapse d pile of dirt and stone. Her young daughter still in her arms. Neither seemed to be moving.
Maribe leapt forward to help them. The words of healing and aid from the forces of nature already on her lips.
Maribe wasn’t the only one to move. Down a side passage, cloaked in darkness came another goblin totem beast. Standing over 8 feet tall with the head of a bear and the claws to match it came at them. Had it been planning on making a meal of Jenna an Jasmine or was it intelligent enough to use them as bait? It didn’t matter, it would find our adventurers ready for a fight.
Silj leapt between Maribe and the Totem beast and yelled his challenge, “By the blade of Torrin Redscale, I smite you.” The Totem beast paused. Clearly shocked to hear such a bold and commanding challenge from such a small warrior. The Totem beast raised it’s arms expecting a sword or axe – it didn’t even see the sharp, powerful bolt that leapt from Silj’s crossbow and punched into its shoulder. The beast howled in rage.
Thorian pulled out his new Avalance Hammer – the hammer head caught the light and it shown with the brilliance of Brazen hold. He advanced. His short legs not taking him into combat with the beast but bringing him within range to launch a devastating charge on his next advance.
Gaylord expertly sized up the battle and saw that Silj was in the best position to strike at the beast. “Again, Knight of Torrin. Strike for your Liege!! Make Torrin Proud”. Silj’s chest swelled with pride and with amazing speed and accuracy he loaded and launched another bolt at the beast in one fluid movement. This bolt sunk into its other shoulder as the beast closed.
Claws and hammers, magic and crossbows. The combatants traded blows until the Totem Beast fell, defeated by the combined might of our heroes. Thorian examined the debris that held Jenna and Jasmine pinned down and with the skills of his forefathers he was able to quickly and safely free the two. Maribe saw to their health and a smile touched her lips for the first time since they came to Fort Runehold. Jenna and Jasmine were a bit bruised but they were OK.
Drenla stepped forward and pointed to a small, white metal scepter that Jenna held in her hand. It radiated strong magic. “What is this dear?”, she asked.
“I don’t know” replied Jenna, “Norr Bennins gave it to us when the fog descended on the castle and the goblins attacked. He bade us keep it safe and to flee. He said it would keep us safe as well. It certainly did. As long as we keep it close, it warded off the cold. I am not sure, but I believe it also absorbed the worst of the cave in. Surely those rocks would have killed us without some kind of divine or arcane protection.”
Thorian looked again at the amount of debris and the formation of the landslide. “Perhaps lass, perhaps. Things could have been much, much worse.” Thorian pushed a large piece of rock the size of his head aside with his foot.
“Well, we should seek out this Norr Bennins and see to his safety, as well as thank him for helping you.” Maribe added. The group gathered together and went back into the courtyard and up into the central keep. They knew that any resistance to the attack would most likely be there. They hoped to find survivors.
This time they took stairs upward, into an expanded alcove and the reception room of the Baron. Jenna let out a sob as she took in the ghastly sight.
Spread about the room were the distorted and bloodied bodies of the keep’s royal guard surrounding the body of the Baroness with her hands wrapped around the neck of an infant. A huge sword pieced her body and was embedded into the floor – the hilt stood up like a morbid headstone over the corpse.
The faces of the dead looked crazed, wide eyes and twisted grins. “No goblins did this” Thorian whispered. "Foul magic is at work."
Above the body of the Baroness a pale, translucent image appeared. The dress and features were those of the dead baroness. She cocked her head, taking in the party as if they had disturbed her during a meal or evening’s entertainment. She gestured to the dead knights around her and as one, ghostly figures rose out of their bodies and closed in on the party.
The battle started off badly. The heroes would kill a ghost, only to have the Baroness raise it again. It was then that Silj yelled, “Kill the Baroness..... Again?”. They converged on her and sent her back to the netherworld. The ghosts of the knights vanished with her, leaving the party exhausted but alive.
They searched the room and found a door, locked from the other side. Thorian politely and gently opened it with his avalanche hammer. When the splinters cleared they saw an old scholarly gentleman looking quite terrified. Jenna recognized him and said “Fuyuks, thank the maker that you are alive. I was so worried.”
Fuyuks was one of the scholars that attended Norr Bennins. He told them of the events that transpired at Fort Runehold.
“Norr had recovered the ice scepter from deep within the mountains. It wasn’t long before he discovered that it was one of the sources of the instability between the planes. He was attempting to make a container that would seal in the magic and break the rift.
He was collecting components when disaster hit. We don’t know the source of the treachery but someone used one of the deliveries to sneak something in. Something dark and sinister.
Late last night mist started pouring out of the workshop. I was confused, I knew that nobody was in there. Norr had gone down to the feast hall for some food.
I was about to walk into the mist to open to open the door and see what was going on. I am so glad that I didn’t. A guard got there before me. As soon as breathed in the mist he changed. He stopped abruptly and his eyes bulged, his face twisted into a grimace of pain and he turned towards me. I reached out to help him and he swiped at me. He had gone insane and became violent. Another guard tried to stop him and he gouged out his eyes.
I raced away and locked myself in the library. Everyone the mist touched became insane with rage, they turned on themselves.”
The party took in the facts and considered their options. Treachery, goblins, winter storms and a scepter causing a new ice age. They didn’t know where to begin.
“The Baron?” asked Gaylord “What happened to the Baron.”
Fuyuk looked embarassed. “Well, when Norr told him about the goblins and the scepter, told him that things were going to get worse and it wouldn’t be long before we wouldn’t be able to get through Duran’s Pass because of the weather he fled. He gathered up a few of his most loyal and trusted warriors and counselors and left. He even left his wife here. He wasn’t highly regarded by the people of East Valley before this incident. I am not sure that they will trust his rule after this.”
“Typical royalty” muttered Thorian. “Things get a little dangerous and they run off and hide.”
Drenla suddenly had a thought, “What about Norr?”
Fuyuk shook his head, “I don’t know the last time I saw him he was headed to the feast hall.”
While the party rested Silj went ahead and scouted our the rest of the castle. He came back with grim news, well grim for everyone but Thorian. The feasthall is occupied by Goblins. Somewhere between 6 to 8 of them. Not the weedy little ones. These are Shaman and the White Faced warriors. They have a pile of gold and have locked themselves in and barricaded the doors. They also had another one of those totem devices.
Without the resources for a frontal assault, they decided to use their wits and they came up with a plan.
Silj would sneak in through the chimney and get in position. When the party was ready, he would call on the power of Bahamut to bring fire and death to as many goblins as possible. At the same time, Thorian would use his new Door Opening device to gain entrance to the feast hall and they would trap the goblins between them.
It seemed like a good plan and everyone got in position. Silj had no problems crawling right into position, he was about to unleash hell on the goblins.
Thorian turned to Maribe and said, “I’ll get the goblins, you take care of the totem, right?”
“Right” she said. “Wait!! Totem, oh no. We can’t have Silj damage the totem. It isn’t stable.”
Not being much of a thinker, Thorian acted. He swung his Avalanche Hammer and the door blasted open in front of him. He leapt into the room and yelled, “Silj wait. Don’t blow anything up........”
Goblins stopped and turned
Thorian looked around sheepishly. He picked up the broken door and tried to put it back on it’s hinges. It fell to the ground again.
“Sorry” he said. “Carry on”.
As one the goblins leapt up and ran towards the invaders. Silj decided it was time to act and he called down a blast of fire from his god. Several of the goblins were caught in it but so was the totem and it unleashed it’s terrible magic on the party.
In the end, the goblins were not enough to stem the wrath of our heroes. They cut them down mercilessly, not a single one escaped and found the bound and gagged form of Norr Bennins in the corner.
They recovered the treasure stolen by the goblins, freed the castle of invaders and saved Maribe’s family. Not a bad day. Of course it was snowing again in the middle of the summer season and Everywhere they turned people were cold and hungry.