The Well of the Halfhollows, Part Four

It’s been nearly two weeks since our session with the current play test group for Song of the Pale Stone, which took place on Saturday, September 13. We decided not to meet this past Saturday to accommodate travels, and it appears that I needed the break, too, to catch up on some work. I’m very much looking forward to continuing tomorrow, though, and in anticipation of the group’s fifth session, I wanted to make sure I completed my recap of the group’s most recent adventures. The fourth session answered many questions for the characters, but seemed to add new mysteries to the developing saga.

Our fourth session consisted of the following players:

  • Hodjai, “Ji-HO”, the Djenndan fighter and kennel master, played by @Evan
  • Lemurt, “Lem”, the kahlnissá ghost and hooting owl, played by @Terri
  • Sookta, the Djenndan blacksmith and lock fixer, played by @xSubNuke
  • Ts’uviti, the viantu savant and red fire storyteller, played by @saelbrin

Additionally, the party was accompanied by two NPC adventurers: Dezeva, the mystic addict, and Dars “The Plank” Mardagin, the Ad’Tai survivalist. The group of adventurers, having just defeated several dragonfolk and then having mutilated the corpses, collected their wits. Dezeva offered a potion to Lem’ to help with the pain and injury of her horrible, life-threatening burns. The potion was a wonderful restorative aid, but even more surprising was how much Lem’ seemed to like its taste. Dezeva, too, drank a potion and seemed to become calm and gain clarity. The dust settled in the granary closet, and with a refreshed energy, the group decided to head in the direction that the dragon kin came from.

Beyond that western door they found a room that was once a large banquet chamber, but now many of the tables were rotten and withered nearly to dust. The room appeared largely unused, except for the central table, on which the adventurers saw a gruesome remnant of what must have once been a Pelmoran Knight. The piece of torn armor sitting next to the mauled and devoured flesh was the only form of identification for the Knight. Already having demonstrated his immunity to gore, Ts’uviti took the remnant of Pelmoran armor from the table and then the group looked at the exit to the room on the south wall. The doorway toward the corridor was lined with blood and showed signs of a struggle. The blood streaked out into the corridor, down the hall several feet, and then led to a closed door. They quietly listened at the door for a moment, hearing a slow scratching, grunting, and chopping sound.

Not wanting to cause any more immediate trouble, they decided to investigate the two doors in the western corner of the corridor, a healthy distance away from the bloody streaks and the chopping sounds. Through a door in the northern part of the corridor, the group found an old kitchen, and proceeded to raid the pantry for useable ingredients–presumably to make potions. The southern door was more troublesome. Lem’ tried to pick the lock, but the old contraption broke under the stress. Luckily, Sookta used his skills to repair the lock, after which it was able to be picked again and opened. Through the southern door the adventurers found what appeared to be an old Torlish guard post. There was elaborate Torlish armor and a sword, each on display, as well as a unique-looking chest on the floor in front of the armor stand. The group goaded Dars “The Plank” into trying to disable any traps on the chest, but his lack of skill and wits caused the trap to spring, injuring the poor Kimenian. Inside the group found Torlish coins, but little else.

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In all their noisemaking, the adventurers had not seemed to arouse any suspicion from the room beyond the blood trail. This piqued their curiosity to the point that they decided to burst into the room and surprise who–or whatever–might be inside. Somehow, they ended up surprising themselves more than the room’s occupant, who turned out to be a dragonfolk butcher. It was carving and chopping up human remains with a crude, stone cleaver. As soon as they entered, the butcher attacked, mildly injuring Sookta. The Djenndan blacksmith retaliated with his hammer of precision, crushing the dragonfolk’s skull and ending the fight as quickly as it began. The grotesque scene in the aftermath of the butcher’s demise was too much for The Plank’s stomach to take, and he wretched his own contribution onto the floor’s already gory mess. The adventurers made their way back to the room of the red fire torches in order to regroup.

From here the party crossed the uncomfortably hot, central corridor, traversing the cracked floor and opening a door into a large, dark chamber. It was eerily abandoned in here, though from what they could tell it seemed more recently cleaned and inhabited than the rooms they had investigated in the west of the structure. The large chamber led to two huge doors on the far eastern wall. The adventurers opened the doors into a massive throne room. Bolts of newer fabric lined the walls here, as if someone were attempting to renovate the room. But in this space, the adventurers found no direct evidence of someone living here. They began to wonder if they should return to the doorway behind which they heard dogs. After some deliberation, they decided that they would.

Opting for a different strategy than the hooting of owls, Dezeva hurled a vial of viscous liquid at the door. As it shattered, the liquid began to run under the door, and then became gaseous. The adventurers heard the sniffing dogs collapse, and then after the gas subsided they heard nothing. Gently they opened the door, pushing back two sleeping dogs, and revealing an abandoned chapel of sorts. At the back of the chapel hall were two rooms, and as the group approached they were greeted with angry, drawn blades. They had found Lady Grilea’s caravan… or what was left of it.

Once the yelling and confusion began to subside, the adventurers were able to convince the group that they were here looking for the noblewoman on the orders of Rad Boleshin. They greeted Lady Grilea Miren and four of her Knights, explaining that they had no allegiance to Lord Dolyos Miren, but that they had, nonetheless, taken up the charge to find Grilea. The remaining Pelmoran Knights guarding Lady Grilea were introduced as: Ser Toreth Jahann, Lady Grilea’s most trusted bodyguard; Ser Rynan Kelhassat, a kinsman of the noble woman; Ser Donnan Jior, another noble kinsman who lay gravely injured, and Ser Rory “Runt” Untarr, a gristly, loose cannon of a knight, who immediately wanted to know what the adventurers did to his pups. The adventurers had to admit that they carried the poor doggies across the central corridor and shut them behind a door with some rations.

The knights explained their plight after finding these Torlish ruins. They were attacked by numerous dragonfolk–too many to count, they said. “The monsters pushed us back into this chapel. We lost five war hounds and four Knights in that fight,” Ser Jahann declaimed. Lady Grilea interjected “Three Knights. Ser Taym was a traitor and he will be brought to justice.” Ser Jahann nodded. “Aye, the traitor Taym and his kinsmen were responsible for leading us into this trap. If not for Ser Runt’s dog’s, we would have even tripped the drawbridge on our way inside the main gates.” Ser Rory Runt spit a dark substance on the ground.

“While we were in Pike’s watch, Taym killed a man named Ferohas,” Lady Grilea continued, “before he could tell me the truth behind what was happening in these ruins and why Dolyos is sending prisoners here instead of to the courts of Pelmora.” Ser Rynan added, “Ferohas approached the caravan unannounced, but there was no cause for alarm. Ser Taym cut the man down in mid-sentence. Then he claimed to know what the man was going to say, and led us straight here.”

“It’s clear that he was a traitor,” added Ser Jahann.

“The dragonfolk were taking their orders from a Dark Priest of Destruction,” the noblewoman added. This piqued the interest of the group, who asked what a “priest of destruction” might be. Lady Grilea had no real answers, other than the priest seemed to command the dragonfolk, and was bent on screaming “Destruction” during the attack. “The massive dragonfolk attack forced us to hide here,” Lady Grilea noted. Ser Jahann continued. “They killed two Knights, Ser Danik Kemp and Ser Py Rolson Priggs. Their loyalty was in question, but at least they fought to protect our Lady when the need arised. Then they dragged off Taym to the north and one other Knight into the west of the ruin.”

The Lady then explained that Ser Donnan required aid for his injuries in the attack. They needed to rest here until he gets well. “But I must find that priest, and find out the truth of what is going on in this ruin,” she added. Dezeva looked at the wounded knight’s injuries, giving him a potion to help seal his wounds. When he tried to swallow some of the restorative liquid, it oozed out of his abdomen, and Dezeva cast a forlorn look at her party members. It seemed to her that Ser Donnan was too far gone to live much longer in this world. Still, the Lady seemed determined to rest and recuperate from their attack before moving on. This meant the adventurers asked the noblewoman to remain here while they explored the northern part of the ruin.

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Returning to the central chamber, the adventurers cautiously moved north, through three archways before arriving in a room with several statues. Ts’uviti recognized the figure in two of the statues as being the same Torlish man they saw in the tapestries earlier. But beyond that connection, Ts’uviti couldn’t recall anything from his scholarly training that hinted as to the man’s identity.

The group heard the intensity of the chanting grow here in the north of the structure. They listened at the closed doors on the east, and heard chanting and commotion. Through the northern door they heard chanting as well. To the west, it was quiet. They opened the western door to reveal a long corridor. Moving quietly they made their way down the corridor. Again, they heard a murmured chanting at a door on the northern wall, so they moved past it to another set of doors that faced each other north to south. The northern door revealed a long-abandoned privy, while through the southern door they found a large elaborate chamber. Additional attempts have recently been made here to improve the conditions of this room. It seems to have once a large bed chamber; the bed must have been made of fine fabrics and feathers, all of which have withered to dust in their granite frames. There is a large, dried out bathing hole in the northern leg of the room.

The adventurers wanted nothing to do with the rooms east of the central corridor, and when they left the abandoned bed chamber to head back down the long corridor, they opted to go through the northern door from the heat of the main hallway. This door revealed a stairwell; one set of stairs traveled up and another on the left traveled down. A commotion could be heard from the stairwell above, while horrible, blood-curdling screams could be heard emerging from the stairwell below. The party felt compelled to follow the source of those horrific cries. This led them to another room at the bottom of those steps, containing only the stairs, three barrels, and a door on the southern wall. The screams were definitely coming from right behind the door.

What lies behind that door, more answers or certain death? Who is the Dark Priest of Destruction, and what do the dragon kin have to do with the Ad’Tai and with the evil behind Lord Dolyos Miren’s dark practices? We find out as the adventure continues!

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Fractalform is the gaming handle of Bret Woods--ethnomediologist, author, and lead developer of Augur's Lore RPGs. Bret is Thing 1 at http://descrypt-studios.com.

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