The final bugbear made a run for it with Alurax in hot pursuit. As it hurtled up the corridor, the doughty but impetuous fighter was closing the distance when it turned and swung at him with its morning star. Alurax was hit but moments later, managed to run it through with his trident, killing it with a single blow.
The rest of the party soon caught him up and found that the bugbear had been heading for the tribal treasure room. A large hoard of loot awaited the team, including a gold gem-encrusted clasp which was the single most valuable item in the hoard, eight thousand gold pieces in fact.
Having counted this out, the party decided to head back and inform the lizard men of their actions. As they returned to the rooms wherein they had met the scaly warriors, they noticed that they were heading towards another room at quite a speed. Following them, they found that the lizard men were climbing into the jaws of a huge carved lizard head on the wall of the room. Galadeus made a lunge for the final lizard man and grabbed its tail, only for the appendage to come off in his hand. The lizard man vanished into the mouth of the carving and Galadeus promptly followed.
The ranger arrived down a shaft into a room which opened onto a dock that led to the underground river. There were several rusty old winches and chains, some of which led up through slots in the roof. A flight of steps led into the water and the lizard men were swimming away; Galadeus decided to follow them.
Seconds later, Alurax appeared, having dived down the shaft in like fashion. He saw Galadeus swimming out into the main flow of the river but rather than follow him, he decided to try investigating the winches instead.
By now, Elysia, Ferros, Alagon and Gullhar had arrived at the carven lizard head and Elysia sent Relic through to report on what had happened on the far side. The little pseudo-dragon came back with telepathic images of Alurax struggling with a rusty winch. Alagon went down the shaft and joined Alurax in the chamber.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the others, Galadeus had attracted the attention of a very dangerous inhabitant of the river – one that Alurax had spotted during the previous session and which was now headed his way again. The swimming ranger grasped his spear and decided to take on the shark. Jabs with his weapon caught the shark and diverted its attacks but unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before the marine predator scored a hit and this it did; Galadeus had entered the water with extremely low hit points and as such, the shark’s attack reduced him to unconsciousness. With no ability to stay afloat, and clad in armour, he quickly sank to the bottom of the river and drowned. The shark moved in to finish off the meal it had found.
|Shark versus Ranger...hmm, I wonder how that's going to go?|
Meanwhile, Elysia was getting very worried by the lack of information on the whereabouts of the impetuous ranger and sent Relic up the river to see what he could find. He reported back that there was a slick of blood on the surface of the water but no other sign of him. Elysia and the rest of the party entered the winch room and while Elysia flew out over the water with her Wand of Illumination; there was little enough left of Galadeus and she had to conclude that he was no more. His magic items were similarly gone; a big loss to the ability of the party to take on opponents.
The party left the dungeon, collecting their horses and riding back down the trail towards the river crossing. The mournful howl of wolves seemed to match their mood perfectly. This was the first permanent loss that the party had sustained and nobody was in much of a mood for anything other than getting back to town.
At the ferry, they met a yellow-painted caravan driven by two short individuals, barely half the height of the party members. They were trying to bribe the ferry owner to take them across first but the display of military might by the party convinced the boatman to give them first passage.
Entering the town, the party made their way back to their old tavern where they dumped their travelling gear and settled down to rest. However, later on that evening, who should they see in the tavern but the two short fellows, who were carrying round cases full of alleged amulets of protection, magical potions, treasure maps and other curios.
|New PC? Lovely Jubbly!|
Spurning the advances of the two, who were called Delbo Barrick and his brother Romney, they kept their own company, discussing what they were going to do next – continue the search for Galzor and the Third or strike out on some new adventure. As the fire cooled and the tavern’s patrons started to head for their rooms, the party decided to do likewise, only to encounter another short fellow; they thought initially that he was trying to shift some dodgy gear and told him they were not interested. He however, had other intentions; he wanted to talk to them about joining forces.
He introduced himself as Benbo, an associate of Delbo and Romney but one who had grown unsatisfied with the nomadic lifestyle of hobbits, as he named their race. Many generations ago, their homeland had been a rural idyll but something had happened and it had long since been swallowed up by a vast and evil swampland. Legends spoke of a hobbit champion who had a ‘holy sword’ and who had tried to fight the source of the evil but had vanished, never to be seen again. Alagon’s ears pricked up at the mention of the words ‘holy sword’. Could this be the Holy Avenger that he had long been seeking?
It did not take the party long to realise that wherever this sword was hidden, it would be in a place full of monsters, gold and magic – in short a perfect place for them to seek, find and plunder. Welcoming Benbo to the group, they decided to set off for the fabled location of the hobbit homeland, which – according to lore – could be found across something called the Shining Plain and then over a range of mountains. Alagon was convinced that he remembered something similar from the time that they had visited the elves and so they decided the first step was to retrace their steps there. They spent much of the next day buying equipment and pack horses but Elysia and Ferros did not feel the need to do this and headed straight for the Moat House, avoiding all encounters on the way, including a huge brown bear, which they dealt with by Ferros talking with it using his Speak with Animals ability, then creating foodstuffs for which it had specified a liking.
They arrived at the Moat House early on the morning of 21st August and the rest of the party arrived a day later, having similarly evaded those encounters with a potential for harm, spending time conversing with a group of merchants who were voyaging northwards to try and find new markets for their goods.
The party was now reunited at the Moat House and their thoughts turned west, not to orcs, ogres and elves but to distant vistas, evil swamps and lost swords of incredible power. The quest had begun.