When we last left our humble adventurers, they had just regrouped with their friends Elephant, and made their way to Cragmaw Castle, the mysterious headquarters of the local goblin faction. After a bit of scouting, they found a way to get inside undetected. Once inside they fumbled their way around, alerting a few hobgoblins, whom they quickly killed. The adventurers currently find themselves in the castle shrine. it’s pitch-black, and Carlos has just been ambushed by a mysterious creature!
“Aaaah! Bad touch! Bad touch!” screamed Carlos, desperately trying to get out from creature slowly wrapping itself around him.
Cinnamon spun around to see his companion in the grips of a Grick!
It’s long snake-like body was desperately trying to squeeze the very life out of Carlos. Meanwhile it was repeatedly trying to bite him with its large beak. Springing into action, Cinnamon summoned up a firebolt. His fingers curled, he thrust his palms forward, and said what I assume is the Cindarian word for ‘firebolt’, but it’s a pretty inane language so who really knows. Unfortunately for Carlos, the best Cinnamon could conjure up was a steady stream of sparks. It was not the best time to be having performance issues.
Atlas too saw that his “friend” was in trouble. However, unlike Cinnamon, his attacks weren’t dependent on fickle things like magic. He fired an arrow. It flew through the air piercing the Grick’s thick skin. Elephant also wanted to be helpful like the others, only problem was he didn’t have the luxury of Darkvision…so he just started blindly firing sacred flame every which way.
While, he didn’t manage to hit the Grick, the light from his fire attack was enough to allow both Carlos and himself to see. Finally able to see his attacker in all its hideousness, Carlos let out a frightful scream. Luckily the adrenaline from being two inches away from a giant snake with four tentacles and a giant beak was enough for Carlos to fully throw the beast off of himself. Pulling out his sword, Carlos slashed at the Grick, putting a nice gash in its upper tail region.
The grick looked around at its foes, scanning them for potential weaknesses. It saw Elephant and decided he would make easy prey. The Grick left forward, beak ready to bight. The thing about halflings, though, is they are quite nimble, and so he was able to quickly duck out of the way. As the Grick fell to the ground, it turned to the group and let out a nasty hiss. Cinnamon, having finally gotten his stuff together launched a firebolt at the beast, striking it dead.
“I no longer care for snakes,” Carlos said, weirdly diplomatically.
“Let’s look for loot,” said Atlas, “also, you might want this.”
Atlas placed a torch in Carlos’ hand. After fumbling in the dark for a moment, Carlos managed to light the torch. Now they could all see the room in great clarity. It was a large hall, maybe two or three stories tall. To the southeast was the door they came in, another door led to the southwest, and two canvas curtains covered a pair of passages on either side of the north wall leading to an attached room. In the center of the north wall was a large ornately carved brazier. Curious, Carlos walked over to the brazier. It was full of ash, likely from a few days prior. Poking around in the ash Carlos managed to find a small statuette buried underneath. Brushing off the ash he saw that it appeared to be figurine of an elf, carved in gold, surely not of goblin origin.
Content with their search they proceeded to the room to the north. It appears to be another shrine. The walls of the room form a small semi-circle. In the center stands a stone altar, atop which someone has placed a number of ritual implements. Upon seeing the goblin shrine Carlos burst into a fit of laughter.
“Haha! Look at this goblins and they’re barbaric cults!” chuckled Carlos, acting all smug, “Why I bet you they don’t know what half of these instruments are called!”
He sauntered over to the alter. Picking up one of the instruments, he examined it. It was a golden chalice, clearly stolen from some unlucky caravan. It appeared freshly cleaned, likely earlier today. He put down the chalice and knelt before the altar.
Doing his best impression of a goblin, he said, “Oi, grobble groobble, oh spare me wise goblin gods!”
Suddenly three goblins jumped up from behind the altar, clad in flithy robes.
“Oi, what are you on about mocking the goblin gods! I’ll have y’err head!” shouted the middle one.
The three goblins proceeded to jump up on the altar and slash down at Carlos with their shortswords. The other three adventurers up until now had been more interested in searching the room for loot. Upon seeing the goblins jump from behind the altar, they once again sprang into action to save their friend. Their blows were swift and powerful, each killing a goblin in a single hit. The battle was over almost as soon as it started, but not before Carlos had taken some serious damage.
Walking towards the altar, Atlas said, “I know you’re having a rough day and all, but I call dibs”
Before anyone could object he grabbed the ritual instruments and shoved them in his bag.
“So what now?” asked Elephant.
“Well we never really finished exploring that first corridor” said Carlos, “let’s go back there.”
“Fine whatever, just stop getting yourself into more trouble,” said Atlas.
“You want to go first?!” replied Carlos, angrily.
“Oh HELL no! I’ll be in the way back. Like the waaaaaaay back.”
So the group returned to the long passage that lead to the secret entrance.This time rather than going east or west they checked the south. There they found two doors. One lead south, peering through a key hole, they could see this was the south entrance to the castle they had seen from the outside. The second door was to the west, peering through its keyhole they saw 7 goblins arranged in some sort of mess hall, fighting over meager portions of grub.
“That’s a lot of Goblins,” said Elephant.
“I’ve seen worse,” replied Atlas.
“No you haven’t,” said Carlos.
“Shut up, yes I have.”
Before Carlos and Atlas could continue their bickering Elephant interjected. “Guys, maybe we should head back to the room with the hobgoblins. There were other rooms we didn’t check out. Plus this room leads to the front of the castle, and the big guys typically hide in the back.”
Carlos turned to Elephant, “that was weirdly insightful, Elephant.”
And so they headed back north to the long passage, then east through the door to the small barracks, the two corpses still crammed into the corner. Just as Elephant said they found a door to the northeast leading to another room. Placing his ear to the door, Atlas could hear voices.
“yup, there’s definitely guys in there.”
“What are they saying?” asked Carlos.
“Can’t tell, its too muffled.”
“So, how we doing this?” asked elephant.
“What do you mean?” said Carlos.
“Well I mean, what’s the plan? we just barge in there and hope for the best?”
Atlas chimed in, “Whatever the plan, I’m gonna be in the waaaaay back.”
Carlos shot Atlas a nasty look. “Shut up! Why are you such a damn coward?”
A while later Carlos asked, “How many voices are there?”
“Just two,” replied Atlas.
“We can take on two guys, right?” asked Cinnamon.
“Ok, I guess we just go in there swords blazing,” said Carlos, “On the count of three”
The four of them got in their best battle stances.
Atlas notched an arrow in his bow.
Elephant took one last glance at his spell book.
Cinnamon whispered a final prayer to the Cinnamon Gods.
Carlos gave the door a hefty kick. The ancient door flew clean off its hinges. Inside the room they saw a very confused female drow elf, talking to an equally confused bugbear, accompanied by a pet wolf. Carlos, Cinnamon, and Elephant sprinted into the room headlong. Carlos immediately went after the bugbear. Swinging his longsword in a huge arc, he slashed the bugbear in the chest dealing massive damage. Cinnamon went after the drow blasting her with a firebolt. Elephant meanwhile chose the wolf as his target and flamed the crap out of it. Atlas being a coward stood in the doorway and fired arrows like a little baby.
As the battle continued, Elephant cast confusion. Enamored by the spells effects the Drow suddenly began swinging its puny dagger wildly, striking the bugbear in its confusion. Unfortunately the casting spell forced Elephant to momentarily ignore the wolf. As such the wolf saw this as his time to strike. Using all of his strength the wolf left forward ready to claw the crap out of Elephant. Luckily Atlas chose this moment to stop being a total coward. Pulling out his dagger, Atlas sprinted forward and slid right under the leaping wolf. As he did so, he stabbed the wolf in the stomach, and using his momentum sliced clean across the beast’s belly. The creature fell to the ground lifeless.
“Your welcome,” said Atlas, but Elephant wasn’t paying attention.
Meanwhile, Carlos and Cinnamon were focusing their energy on the Bugbear. They slowly whittled away at his health, all the while dodging the swings of his terrifying morningstar. The bugbear was almost dead, but before Cinnamon could land a final blow, the bugbear landed a direct hit on him, critically wounding him. The Bugbear paused for a moment to rejoice in the massive damage he had dealt. Carlos used this as the opportunity to take him down, finally happy not to be the one getting the crap beat out of him. Carlos thrust his sword forward in a piercing blow, penetrating straight through the bugbear’s heart, killing him.
The battle was very nearly over, but the Drow remained. Luckily Elephant’s spell still had not worn off yet, and so Carlos charged her, beating her on the head with the handle of his sword, knocking her out. Not taking any chances, they tied the drow up with their rope before searching for loot. The search didn’t take long. King Grol (the bugbear they had just killed) was never especially talented at hiding things. They found three health potions, a small sum of gold, and a strange map in a sack beneath Grol’s bed. Searching the room further they came upon an unconscious dwarf they had somehow missed in all the fighting. Carlos recognized this as Gundren the second Rockseer Brother!
Using his healing hands, Cinnamon managed to wake the dwarf.
“Was! Who’s there! Unhand me you foul beast!” shouted Gundren.
“Woah! Calm down,” said Carlos, trying to quiet him before he attracted any unwanted attention. “Your brother sent us, we’re here to rescue you.”
“Oh, well then you have my thanks brave warriors, but I’m afraid your too late. That foul beast Grol stole my map, so there’s not much use in saving little old me.”
“You mean this map?” asked Atlas showing him the map they had found literally two minutes earlier.
“By the gods! You’ve found it! You see what this means! We can still reclaim the mine!”
“Oh, so I suppose this is a map to the Wave Echo Cave, and the Forge of Souls then, correct?” asked Carlos.
“Yes, we can head there right awa-“ before he could finish his sentence, he was overcome by great pain. “Gah! I’m afraid I won’t be able to assist you in this state, but if you can get me back to my brothers we can hatch a plan to retake the mine, and once we do that, I can assure you, you will be rewarded for years to come.”
“Sounds good,” said Carlos, “we need to continue searching this castle for information that might help us in our quest, but you should get out of here. We have some horses hidden in the trees to the west. When you exit this room head north, go all the way through the passage until you are outside. Continue heading north until you reach the treeline, do not stop! Once you get there follow the treeline west and you will find our horses, we will meet you there when we are finished.”
“Will do!” and with that the Dwarf ran out of the room.
With Gundren safe, they turned their attention to the drow. She still lay, tied up, and unconscious. Cinnamon healed her enough to wake her. Slowly she sat up and faced the group.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” asked Carlos.
Rather than answer the drow let out a piercing, unnatural screech. As the group tried to cover their ears, the drow began to change shape, and…shrink? Where once there was a drow elf, there was now a small baby. the rope bindings fell loosely to the floor.
“It’s a doppleganger!” shouted Carlos.
Indeed, the drow was a doppleganger, and in an attempt to get out of its restrains, turned into a baby, a speedy baby. Before the group could react, the baby zipped along the floor headed for the door. Atlas sprinted after it. The baby had barley made it 10 feet out the door before Atlas caught up to it. Giving it a nice solid kick, he launched the baby back into the room.
Atlas too returned to the room, slamming the door behind him. Carlos pulled out his longsword and stabbed the baby in the chest. As his sword pierced its skin, the baby began to grow rapidly, and its skin turned blue. The doppleganger was dead, and in death, had returned to its true form, a large blue humanoid. For reasons that neither he, nor his companions fully understood, Atlas was deeply angered by the doppleganger. Brandishing his dagger he chopped off the creature’s head, and placed it in a nearby arrow slit. The group sensed that this encounter had perhaps awoken some sort of deep seeded hatred inside of Atlas, and didn’t have the time, nor the academic credentials to fully explore this issue. So instead they continued exploring.
Suddenly a loud thump pierced the air. The group turned. They could tell it was coming from the south. They slowly crept out of this room and back into the barracks. There they noticed a small wooden door, held shut by a thick wooden bar, nestled in the corner. They crept ever closer to it. Carlos tried to peer through a crack in the door, but saw only darkness. Bravely Carlos knocked on the door. For a moment nothing, then suddenly a large half-roar half-screech rippled throughout the entire castle. Whatever was on the other side of the door…it wasn’t happy.
What foul beast lies beyond the door? In what gruesome manner will it try to devour our heroes? Find out Next time on Dorngeons and Dorgans!