> Chronicles > Book 2 – Part 8

The group ascends victoriously from the Sunken Citadel and return to Darford.

Part 8 – Ascent from the Sunken Citadel

  • Contents:
    • Chapter 1 – The Grove Level
    • Chapter 2 – Goblin Territory
    • Chapter 3 – Kobold Territory
    • Chapter 4 – Dragon Secrets
    • Chapter 5 – Tomb of a Failed Dragonpriest
    • Chapter 6 – Return to Darford

See also: Session 08 Adventure Log 2014/06/27

In the previous session, the group freed Aiden from chains, and he subsequently joined their quest. They discovered written lore which revealed the legendary origin of the Gwlthyas Tree and an informative book titled “Historey ov Vhampyres en Brythonia”. They entered the Twilight Grove and defeated Baeloch the Outcast and his guards. Lastly, they rescued Arrioch from the Gwlthyas Tree, then Dodge chopped down the tree.

Chapter 1 – The Grove Level

The group made their way out of the Twilight Grove without incident. Once out of the briars, they stopped and discussed what to do with their prisoner, Baeloch the Outcast. They finally decided they no longer desired to interrogate him, and fearful of his power, they agreed to put him to death before he regained consciousness. Aiden performed the honor – he sliced Baeloch’s throat – then they left him for dead as he bled out into the dirt.

They trudged all the way back through the long passageways, through the Dragon Library, then Ashârdalon’s Shrine, and through the arboretum from which they had rescued Aiden. As they walked through the gallery full of luminescent fungus, they noted that all the fallen bugbear gardeners, goblins and skeletons they had defeated before still lay undisturbed where they had left them.

They opened a door on the southern end of the gallery and investigated the room beyond. It led to another octagon shaped arboretum. Luminescent mists blurred the edges of the octagonal chamber, similar to the three others they had found before. Nodules of glowing fungus dotted both the stone walls and ceiling, as well as the caps of toadstools and mushrooms, small polyps, puffballs, lichens, and less identifiable growths. The humid air reeked with rot. Several of the growths in the chamber appeared scorched and dead.

Next, they walked back into the goblin common area. Like the victims in the gallery and arboretums, the goblin corpses in these rooms lay undisturbed. They entered the southeast room and began to research the caved-in back wall which led to a natural rift in the earth. Strangely, the rift was free of any phosphorescent fungus, which was abundant practically everywhere else. The smell of sulfur predominated. The floor was strewn with rocky debris and was 2 feet below that of the room. It was also riddled with enigmatic 1-foot-diameter holes that led as far back as anyone was capable of probing. Mystified, they decided to continue back the way they had come.

From the main compost room, they checked the door along the south wall. Beyond the door was a 10-foot wide corridor leading south. Phosphorescent fungus grew thickly within. After about 40 feet it was interrupted by a rift – created by some past geologic violence that rent the earth. The tunnel continued past the rift, though it had shifted 10 feet to the west. Like the rift they saw before, this was also free of any phosphorescent fungus, and the smell of sulfur predominated. The debris-strewn rift’s floor was 2 feet below that of the corridor. It was also riddled with enigmatic 1-foot-diameter holes.

The corridor ended at a stone door that was closed and stuck. With great effort, they were able to open the door and peer within. Faded mosaic tiles still covered parts of the wall, but most had fallen and shattered. Situated at the center of the chamber stood a slim pedestal of rusted iron shaped like an upright dragon. In the dragon’s mouth rested an empty tray. This room was long abandoned, and the precious item once stored here by the old dragon cult was gone. No tracks disturbed the dust on the floor. Kyran could not detect any magic in the room, and all attempts to place gifts or sacrifices on the tray produced no results.

They returned to the main compost room and climbed the thick vines which lined the shaft, thus ascending from the grove level to the fortress level.

Chapter 2 – Goblin Territory

In the hall of the goblin chief, all remained as they had left it. The 40-foot-diameter domed chamber still contained the dead bodies of the chief and his guards. However, as they crossed into the next room, they observed signs of recent activity besides their own. The large room, which was formerly the main living quarters of the goblins (and before that might have been a cathedral in ancient days), was still full of garbage and remnants of a crude goblin village, but no corpses remained. They checked the adjoining room where they had imprisoned the survivors of the goblin village. The barricade had been dismantled, and all the prisoners were gone. The group assumed that someone had freed the survivors, so they continued on to investigate other areas.

They walked into a large chamber with a double row of marble columns carved with entwining dragons, then through a door in the southwest corner. The stench of garbage and rotted carrion typified the years of use by unsanitary goblin tenants. Tattered hides formed six unstable hammocks around a much-used fire pit. Battered cooking equipment lay mixed indiscriminately with broken or worn arms and armor. There was a wooden door across the room in the southeast corner.

They passed through the door and followed a passage that went east, then south, and ended in a locked wooden door. Lee picked the lock, then stepped aside to allow Dodge and Glen to continue their lead. They perceived that the passage continued 20 more feet southward, then ended in another closed door. As they walked through the passage, Dodge and Glen detected a trap door in the floor. They safely maneuvered around the trap and observed that the end door was locked. As Lee attempted to maneuver around the trapdoor, he slipped and fell onto it. A mechanical pressure plate triggered the trap with a loud crash and Lee dropped into a 10-foot deep pit. Though Lee was not physically injured (he was more embarrassed by the slip than anything else) they assumed that the noise would serve to alert anyone who might be beyond the locked door.

Chapter 3 – Kobold Territory

Lee’s friends helped him climb out of the pit, then he dusted himself off and picked the lock on the door. Dodge and Glen cautiously opened the door and were faced with 4 kobolds wielding spears in a dour mood, guarding their territory. Before the kobolds could attack, Dodge and Glen opened their hands outward in a gesture of peace and said “friend” in Westrian, hoping to halt an unnecessary battle. Then they asked for “Meepo.” The kobolds appeared to recognize the name, relaxing their guard only slightly, and sent one kobold off running, presumably to fetch Meepo.

The group slowly filled into the room: 6 humans, 2 half-elves, 1 gnome. The kobolds, clearly outnumbered and overpowered, grew visibly more nervous. Luckily, Meepo showed up within a couple minutes and defused the situation. He told the group they were welcome to enter and escorted them toward his queen’s throne room. As they passed through the Hall of Dragons (a double row of relief-carved marble columns marched the length of the hall) they noticed numerous goblin skulls and bones lined along the walls, and even a few goblin carcasses hung upon the wall, as if being prepared for a future meal. This solved the mystery about what had happened to the remnants of the goblin tribe.

In the kobold throne room, Meepo presented the group to Yusdrayl, the Kobold Queen. She was very pleased with the group: they had helped Meepo rescue Calcryx, their white dragon; and they had killed all the warriors of the goblin tribe, leaving only helpless women and children for the kobolds to finish off. As agreed, she gave them their reward, the key hanging from her throne. She decreed that they would continue to be allies against goblins, and that the group could have safe passage through the Sunken Citadel for their departure. She ordered Meepo and 2 guards to escort the group towards the exit.

Meepo led the group down a couple hallways and into the last room of kobold territory. It was a large, irregularly shaped, crumbling chamber, where there sat 2 kobolds guarding Calcryx, the white dragon wyrmling, resting in its metallic cage. They spoke their farewells to Meepo, then passed through the door into the next hall.

When the door had closed behind them, Kyran hesitated. He announced to the group his desire to free the dragon. In actuality, he coveted the dragon for himself, but he reluctantly admitted that since he had no means to charm the wyrmling, it would likely be a constant thorn in his side as it would reject any attempt at servitude. They discussed the matter and decided that as the dragon grew, it would become too powerful for the kobolds to handle, and it would eventually gain freedom on its own.

Chapter 4 – Dragon Secrets

In the hallway, they investigated a stone door on the south wall. It contained a relief-carving portraying a dragon-like fish swimming in an aquatic setting. They picked the lock and opened the door to reveal a 10-foot-square chamber hewn from stone. It contained an upright keg fashioned of rusted iron. Similarly rusted pipes led from the keg into the floor. There was a wide metallic bung on the keg’s top. Glen tapped the side and could hear the hollow sounds of liquid sloshing. The connecting pipes held the keg firmly in place. He removed the wide bung from the keg’s top and was immediately attacked by a small humanoid that had thin, leathery wings, small horns, and a mischievous smile – a Water Mephit. Glen, Kyran and Lee surrounded the creature, and it was easily defeated, though it did manage to breathe caustic liquid upon Kyran, Arrioch and Grimble Gromble.

Afterward, they entered the circular, hollow tower near the entrance, but instead of leaving the citadel through the east door, they went through the southwest door to explore further, planning to put the kobold’s key to good use.

The next room, its masonry walls in poor repair and its southern section completely collapsed and filled with rubble, contained a stone door on the west wall. The door, which featured a relief sculpture of stylistically carved dragons in flight, was securely closed and locked, though they had left it propped open days ago. The door contained a single keyhole, which was situated in the rearing dragon’s open mouth. The key from the kobold’s throne fit perfectly in the lock, and when turned, the door opened easily.

In the next room, the dust of ages covered every surface, except for tracks that the group themselves had made days before. There was a stone door centered in the west wall. Three alcoves were on the north wall, and one was located in the south wall. Each alcove contained a dust-covered stone pedestal with a fist-sized crystalline globe upon it. Although the globes in the northern alcoves lay cracked and dark, the globe in the southern alcove glowed with a soft blue light and faint tinkling notes sprang forth from it. While the bulk of the group waited outside the room, Glen and Kyran entered the gallery. They remembered the effect the glowing globe had on them when they approached it before, so they avoided it and skirted along the northern wall to the door on the opposite wall.

Glen opened the stone door and looked down a 20-foot-long corridor which led to another closed stone door. While Kyran stood guard, Glen proceeded across. Halfway through, he sensed that his weight upon a mechanical pressure plate triggered a trap – an arrow shot from above the door and hit him in the chest. Bravely he took another step, and another arrow short forth, just winging him this time. He took a third step, and another arrow short forth, but this time Glen was able to dodge it. Finally he reached the opposite door, bleeding from 2 arrow wounds. He called to have Lee come disable the trap.

While Kyran was relaying the message from Glen to Lee, the inquisitive and impulsive Aiden approached the lit globe along the south wall. As he moved to within 5 feet, it began to play loudly – brooding music which swelled within the room and 20 feet into the adjacent rooms. Unnatural fear overcame nearly half the group and they fled to the circular tower, through its eastern door, then out into the courtyard where they stood and stopped up their ears until the effects faded. Unfortunately for Glen, as he ran from his position, he triggered the trap again and suffered another arrow, this time in his back.

Aiden was one of the few who was not affected by the music. He grabbed the orb and threw it to the ground. It cracked a little and its light and sound faltered but did not end. Though the globe now blared out its music twice as loud, Aiden picked it up and threw it once again, hard to the ground. This time it broke into two pieces, extinguishing its light and ending its music.

After a few minutes, the group reunited in the gallery and Yriadel tended to Glen’s wounds, using one of the last of her potions to restore his health. Lee dutifully disabled the arrow trap, then he opened the door and the group moved onward to the next room.

Chapter 5 – Tomb of a Failed Dragonpriest

Dust filled the room like a layer of gray snow. In the rounded northern end of the chamber stood a 10 foot tall statue of a coiled dragon. It appeared to be carved from red-veined white marble. When they moved to within 5 feet of the sculpture, its mouth began to move and it uttered a strange riddle: “We come at night without being fetched; we disappear by day without being stolen.” Magna answered “stars”, and when he did so, a secret door on the west wall magically opened.

They passed through the secret door and into the next room, a 20 foot wide hall, cloaked in dust. Three narrow alcoves lined both the north and south walls. Each alcove held a humanoid figure carved of red-veined white marble, except for the southwest alcove, which was empty. The figures resembled tall elves in exotic plate mail. The far western end of the hall opened via a stone arch into a wide room beyond, from which greenish light trickled. A dark pit was situated before the archway. Though dust covered the chamber and sculptures, they noticed that the dust had been disturbed, though the tracks were obscure enough that the disturbance must have occurred dozens of years ago. The tracks were of bare humanoid feet with claw-like nails. They began in the center of the empty alcove and moved to the pit, disappearing within.

The pit was 10 feet deep and its bottom was filled with spikes. The walls of the pit were rough, and experienced climbers saw potential handholds. The pit was 10 feet wide east to west and stretched 20 feet north to south, encompassing the entire width of the hall. Dodge and Glen decided to take a running jump across, which both accomplished without difficulty. However, as soon as they landed on the other side they were ambushed. A humanoid figure, carved of red-veined white marble which resembled a tall elf in plate mail (like the statues in the preceding room) clawed Glen. The initial damage was minor, but the blow knocked him backwards and into the spiked pit. Glen landed painfully, skewered by a spike.

Lee quickly jumped across to bravely take the place of Glen. Though his leap was successful, he missed with his attack. Kyran fired a magic missile from his wand which struck their adversary. Immediately, it transformed from its marble-elf shape into its natural form: a tiny humanoid with spiky horns and bat-like wings – a quasit. Its hands and feet were long and slender, with very long digits tipped with claws. Its skin was pustulant and green. It laughed and said, “You broke the binding. My watch over the dragonpriest is over!” Then it flew through the archway and over their heads toward the exit. Kyran shot it again with his wand, but pursuit proved futile.

After the battle, Glen climbed out of the pit, and Aiden jumped across, to join Dodge and Lee. Violet-hued marble tiles covered the floor and walls, though all were cracked or broken, revealing roughhewn stone beneath. Wall sconces were attached to the walls at each corner, but only one still bore a torch, and it burned with a tiny, greenish light.

A massive marble sarcophagus, easily 9 feet long, lay in the room’s center. The stone possessed heavy carvings with dragon imagery, and the head of the sarcophagus resembled a dragon’s head. Six rusted iron latches firmly locked down the lid of the sarcophagus. Together, Aiden and Dodge tried to break the latches loose, requiring several rest periods during the process.

In the meantime, Lee discovered a secret trap door in the floor that hid a 3 foot by 3 foot crawl space. He investigated and found that it led back to the previous room, connecting to a secret door behind the middle alcove on the south wall. He detected words inscribed on the wall, obscured by a coat of dust. Lee rubbed the dust away and saw writing in draconic. Grimble Gromble reviewed the inscription and read “A dragonpriest entombed alive for transgressions of the Law still retains the honor of his position.”

The entire group gathered in the tomb of the failed dragonpriest. By that time, Dodge and Aiden had removed all the iron latches from the sarcophagus. Together with Glen and Lee, the four of them pushed the lid off. As the seal was broken, they witnessed a flash of green light, then 2 large hands pushed the lid off from within.

Lumbering out of the sarcophagus was, upon first impression, an enormous human dressed in rotted finery and wearing still-sparkling jewelry. His body appeared shrunken but elongated, and his long arms stretched down to almost drag on the ground. At further glance, his skin was a rubbery, putrid gray and his eyes were pools of inky blackness. His face was long and angular, with a solid, pointy chin and a crooked, hawkish nose, and his hair was long, thick, and ropy, and rested tangled and greasy on its heavy brow. There was an air of unsettled violence about it – its hands, bearing shiny silver rings, ended in razor-sharp claws and its body seemed taut and agile despite its size. It attacked immediately.

Recognizing that their opponent was a troll – which are known to have great strength, are fearless, single-minded berserkers, and will fight to the death – they assaulted it vigorously. Lee smartly and stealthily maneuvered around to outflank it. Without casualty, they defeated the dragonpriest troll. From its corpse they recovered a masterwork dagger, 2 silver rings, a silver necklace, and 2 bracelets adorned with stylized silver dragon designs. From the bottom of the sarcophagus they collected over 200 ancient coins, 4 divine scrolls, a masterwork scimitar with dragon carvings on the hilt, and a copper whistle which resembled a small dragon curled up like a snail. The scimitar emanated powerful magic, and Kyran identified it as a Dragonbane. The whistle was also magic, but its origins were obscure and Kyran was unable to identify its abilities. The name Tultâmbë was etched on its side in Draconic. Before they left the room, they remembered that trolls have regenerative abilities, so they burned its body as they were leaving.

Chapter 6 – Return to Darford

The group made their way toward the exit, through the dust-filled dragon galleries, to the circular, hollow tower, then out the east door and into the crumbled, stone courtyard. They carefully climbed the narrow switchback stairs, rising 80 feet to the top ledge. The knotted rope which they had used to descend to this sandy ledge many long days ago was still present. Kyran was the first to climb. After ascending about 10 feet, the rope came loose from the top and he fell to the ledge. They heard maniacal laughter, which sounded like the quasit they had battled just hours before, then they heard the leather flap of wings above them. They caught a brief glimpse of the quasit as it flew away, confirming their suspicions.

Dodge climbed the rock wall and repaired the rope for the others. The remaining group soon joined him on the surface. They all felt relieved to be in the light of the sun again. Magna searched and easily found the traces that Arnfast had left for him. He led the group beyond a copse not too far away and soon they found the camp that was temporary hideout for Arnfast, Arragwyn, Breena, Sidric, and their 2 horses, Bleiki and Rohese. There occurred an excited reunion. The campers were introduced to Aiden and Grimble Gromble, then Arrioch explained the fate of Arrafel.

Arragwyn was in emotional turmoil. At first she was quite happy to see her brother Arrioch delivered safely to their camp, and greeted him with a fierce hug. But after he told her about the death of her other brother, Arrafel, she fell into a torrent of tears. Apathetic, Arrioch offered no sympathy, but Lee quickly approached and supplied a caring shoulder for Arragwyn to cry on. Though Yriadel was normally the one who provided comfort, she recognized that Arragwyn was in good hands with Lee and politely left them alone.

Sidric was curious and amazed at all the treasures they had brought back from the Sunken Citadel, and eager to hear details of their great adventure. When he heard about the huge quantities of Goblin Whisky they had left behind, Sidric was unable to hide his disappointment that they did not bring any of it back for him. However, they noted that overall, Sidric’s mental state seemed to have improved a little with his forced sobriety. “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by,” he was heard to say.

Breena was cheerfully excited to see Dodge and held his hand firmly during the reunion and story-telling. At the earliest opportune moment, with no concern about being too obvious, she brazenly led Dodge off into the woods. Once they were alone, she teased him about missing her and began to undress seductively to get a compliment from him. But despite his hunger for her, Dodge took his time, enjoying her show of beauty. Finally, neither could wait any longer and they fell into each other’s arms. They wrestled in the foliage, their clothes strewn about randomly, and enthusiastically shared their affections for each other.

The group was tired and famished, after surviving for days on only trail rations and very little water. Though Arnfast was anxious to get Arragwyn back to the safety of Darford as soon as possible, he recognized the need for nourishment. While everyone else rested, Arnfast hunted and killed a deer, which they cheerfully cooked and devoured.

The next day, they packed their camp and began their journey back to Darford. Arnfast and Magna were often away from the group while they marched along, scouting ahead for safe paths or hunting for small game. Yriadel was vaguely troubled by mysterious dreams, but she did not fail to notice that spring was in full bloom. She couldn’t help but smile at the fond affections that Breena openly poured upon Dodge. Yriadel also noticed how Arragwyn casually positioned herself close to Lee at every opportunity. The blossoming romances raised Yriadel’s mood despite her distress.

Similar to Yriadel, Kyran was confused by a cryptic poem that had mystifyingly appeared in his mind, seemingly triggered by their return to the forest. It kept repeating itself in his head, like a song that would not go away, but he could not place where he had heard it before.

Lest the awe should dwell, and turn your frolic to fret
You shall look on my power
At the helping hour
But then you shall forget!

Lest limbs be reddened and rent, I spring the trap that is set
As I loose the snare
You may glimpse me there
For surely you shall forget!

As they neared the final road to Darford, Grimble Gromble took his leave to go alone, deeper into the forest of Willowdale. He sincerely thanked the group for rescuing him, and apologized for being so secretive in the past. He gave a loving hug to all 3 ladies, but with Yriadel he lingered the longest, as if fearing to let her go. When he shook the hand of Magna, he winked conspiratorially and suggested he might one day accept that offer of wine. As he strode away, they could hear him singing a little tune:
Look at the sky, Look at the river, Isn’t it good?

When they came to the crossroads, Glen continued southward on the North Road towards Darford, accompanied by Breena, Sidric and Rohese the pony. The remainder took the West Road towards Arrion Manor. Glen still had no desire to be friendly towards Arrioch or his parents, though he did offer a polite farewell to Arragwyn.

When they arrived at the manor, the group was welcomed respectfully by Arrion and Fenloch, but with no fanfare. Servants unloaded the baggage from Bleiki and then took her to the stables. Arrion welcomed his son warmly, but with little emotion. Fenloch cried and held him tightly, much to Arrioch’s discomfort. Arrion barely acknowledged the presence of his daughter, though he thanked Arnfast for his service, then he scolded Arragwyn for her disobedience. Fenloch ignored his rebukes and hugged her daughter tenderly. She called for Drysi, Arragwyn’s handmaiden, to take Arragwyn to her quarters for a thorough washing and a clean dress.

After Fenloch provided food and drink, the group briefly explained the rescue mission to Arrion. When informed of the death of Arrafel, Arrion closed his eyes in deep contemplation, but he shed no tears. At the end, he stoically thanked everyone for their bravery and heroism, and offered the promised 150 shillings reward – 100 for the safe return of Arrion, and 50 for the return of the deceased Arrafel’s signet ring.

Regrettably, Lee and his friends did not get to see Arragwyn again that day. But as they were leaving the manor for Darford, Drysi approached Lee with an encouraging message: Arragwyn hoped that Lee would call on her soon.


By-Tor Brigade Legacy VykingValor