Monday, January 9, 2017

Session 20: Showdown with Icar

Having slaughtered some 30 hobgoblins in this small hallway, the group was face to face with their leader, a huge hobgoblin with a greatsword and full platemail. Standing behind two nervous hobgoblin footsoldiers and a burly lieutenant, he took to once more threatening Dyn-Bach, Volodemir, Flint, and Lynnya. Volodemir took the opportunity to snatch some beads that caught his eye among the piles of corpses.

Recognizing them as magical and being out of spells, he threw one in the midst of the enemy. A magical forcefield erupted, killing one of the front line outright, and trapping the leader in an impenetrable bubble. Lynnya shot the other frontliner and after a short fight the party had taken out the lieutenant. The leader was fleeing, however, and he would soon be free from his force field. Remembering the layout of the keep, Flint took advantage of a secret door and circled around in front of the retreating leader, cutting off his means of egress. After about 30 seconds of tense waiting, during which Dyn-Bach wound his crossbow with one hand, the party got ready their attacks for when the shield would fall. Though outnumbered and surrounded, the hobgoblin's leader was a formidable opponent, matching the party's attacks with a whirlwind of parries and attacks. After severely wounding Dyn-Bach, he managed to find a gap in his armor and drove his greatsword home, felling the paladin for the last time.

He nearly felled Flint as well, but for the help of some particularly vicious mockery from Volodemir distracting him. Desperately praying to Adreham, Flint drank his potion of superior healing, rallied and finally dealt the killing blow.

With the massive battle over, the surviving party members looked at the massive hobgoblin riddled with arrows in the joints of his armor as he dissolved into plant matter. All gravely wounded, they barricaded themselves in the store room they cleared earlier and patched themselves up. They said their prayers, set their watch order and warily took turns sleeping. Luckily, the night passed uneventfully and with a renewed purpose, they set out to discover what was wrong with the slaves in the room where the cloaker attacked Dyn-Bach. The death of the cloaker and a night's rest appeared to have restored their wits, especially one massive goliath who seemed rather unfazed by the experience. Gylfi introduced himself as a paladin of Vassa, goddess of tempest. Though disarmed by his captors, he was able to make use of the hobgoblin leader's plate mail and fashion himself a crude holy symbol. He was strangely optimistic that he could help the party clear the remainder of the keep, though there were darker goings on in the layers below. After introductions were made, the newly formed alliance passed through a door that had been blocked by the cloaker and shortly heard the sounds of a hammer and anvil.

The rhythm of the hammering was all wrong. There was no distinctive double strike, the uneven roars of the flame indicated shoddy work at the bellows. It was all too much for Flint. He turned the corner and yelled, "You're doing it wrong!" What he saw was a dirty human working a pathetic sharp piece of metal that barely met the definition of a sword, with two orcs assisting him. The "smith" admitted his inferior skill and agreed that dwarven craftsmanship was second to none. With the work of charming the man out of the way, Flint asked him what he was doing here and what there was to expect in the rest of the keep. The smith told the party what he knew, which was that Icar was the boss on this level and he would be in the kitchens, and impossible to sneak up on. Pressed for more detail, he said he didn't know what went on below, only that slaves were taken there and never came back. He did admit to knowing that there was a hidden ambush room at the bottom of the stairs leading down to the next level. As a thanks for his help, Flint agreed to spare the man and in the interest of civilization and the art of metal working, said that after the keep was secured, he would arrange for some job training for the man with the guild.

Knowing the location of Icar but not knowing a way past, the group walked down the hall past a number of doors, and went straight for the kitchen doors. Beyond, there was the sound of fire and loud laughter. Throwing open the door, the group saw a huge ebon human roasting a lizard head over an open flame. He was wearing a helm without any eye-slit and was cackling. Seated at a table were three ugly redhaired men and there were eight hobgoblins arrayed around the room. Gylfi immediately proved the power of his faith, with thunderwaves and a particularly powerful shatter spell. Lynnya focused on Iccan right away and with Volodemir's help took him out before he could do much more than kick a giant wine barrel at the doorway. The men transformed in to were-boars and charged the party, goring and attacking with mauls in turn. The hobgoblins proved difficult to hit and it took a good amount of time to pick them off. Frustrated, and realizing that the were-boars could not be harmed by mundane weapons, Flint summoned his spirit guardians to help sweep the room of monsters.

After the fight, the group searched the body of Icar and found a note in a form of raised text for the blind man that divulged the location of a nearby holding area for slaves.The party got ready to descend to the next level, knowing full well that an ambush awaited them from a hidden room by the stairs...