Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Azure Pits (part 1)

Thowin Four Fingers, a fighter, and his torchbearer, Boarface
Imorfin the elf
Durik the cleric
Fretta the Dark, a thief
Balork the Medium, a magic-user and Bursus, his man-at-arms
Karpos, Rhea, and Therapon, clerics of Laex
Shaz, a horse handler

Recap: Durik's order, The Temple of Laex, has asked for help in their struggle against the Order of the Blue Dark, a group of cultists who worship Nag-Roop, minor demigod of the Underdark. The cultists of Nag-Roop have stolen the Cloud Gem from the Temple of Laex, and now plan to destroy the minor artifact in service to Nag-Roop.

Durik's brothers and sisters have learned that the dark ritual will take place in the Azure Pits, an entrance to the Underdark in the Dwarven Hills to the west (Hex 00.04).

The Temple of Laex has sent three clerics to aid the party. They know the way to the Azure Pits, having 'coaxed' the information out of a captured Blue Dark cult member. The Order of the Blue Dark has a full day head start so time is of the essence.

Moonday, 24 Harvester

Art by DRB
We rejoin the party as they pass through the gates of Enharza , heading to the west in the early morning light. Durik discusses the evils of the Order of The Blue Dark with Karpos, Therapon, and Rhea, as he rides alongside his fellow brothers and sister of Laex. Thowin and Imorfin lead the party, having been instructed to head to the Dwarven Hills likely a two day ride from Enharza.

There had been some discussion about exactly why the party was aiding Durik's church since the Order had made it clear their coffers were basically empty. But Durik had talked Thowin and Imorfin into helping with promises of finding caves of sapphires in the Azure Pits. After all, the caves got their name after the colorful gems, which supposedly littered the tunnels to the Underdark. At least the Head Priest of Laex did provide each member of the party with a healing potion, even the retainers.

The adventurers fell silent as the miles passed beneath the horses' hooves. Before long Moonday was drawing to a close and it was decided to make camp for the night.

Godsday, 25 Harvester

The night passed without incident and the party was on the road early. They encountered a pack of wild dogs later in the day, but the animals seemed uninterested in the group. The party didn't provoke the dogs, and soon they were out of sight.

They reached the Dwarven Hills in the early afternoon and pushed on to the west, following the direction of Karpos, brother of Laex. The moon was already rising as dusk fell and they decided to make camp for the night. Just as they were about to stop, up ahead in a clearing they saw  a number humanoids engaged in a fight with a huge, winged beast.

Art by Ben Maier
In the fading light Imorfin's keen eyes made out a band of orks swinging stone axes at a giant owl, as the winged predator hovered just out of reach. It seemed to the elf that the owl was the attacker, as the orks ducked and dived, avoiding the sharp talons of the giant bird. One unfortunate ork tripped in the chaos and the owl was upon him in an instant. The winged beast leapt again into the air, its great wings flapping hard and taking it up into the the night sky. A few of the remaining orks on the ground pulled out crude bows, but the owl was already out of range. It crossed the moon, ork still flailing helplessly in its clutches, before disappearing into the darkness.

(On my random encounter tables I have a less frequent entry which is monster v. monster. In the few times when it does pop-up, I always find it interesting to see which two entries from the table will get drawn up against each other and to imagine how they stumbled upon each other. So when the rolls came up with orks and the giant owl for the last encounter check of the day, this image came immediately to me - a giant owl on a hunting mission at dusk.

The party ends up scattering the orks who are already rattled after the surprise of the owl attack. I ruled that it was 'very unlikely' they would return during the night, but Mythic had other ideas. I rolled a 02 which is an exceptional yes - they do come back, and with numbers!

Luckily the orks arrive during Imorfin's watch and the elf sees them coming with his infravision. Thanks to Balork's sleep spell and some high attack rolls, the party deals with the orks, sustaining only minor injuries.)

(To be continued...)