After gathering up the hard-earned cash left behind by the fleeing kobold cooks, The Shorn proceeded northward into a corridor mirroring the east-west hallway by the en trace. In this corridor however, there are no double doors leading outside. Instead, there are simply two more normal wooden doors for a total of seven in the hallway (including the one leading to the kitchen). Almost immediately they heard the rattling of metal bars and the shouts of a young man. A dirty, wan-looking human face peeked out from the barred hatch of his cell door, calling out to The Shorn to save him. The party took a good look at him, careful not to allow an infiltrator into their mists, and only after a long (and loud) discussion did they release the man. The prisoner turned out to be an eighteen year old Thyatian from the nearby village of Verge. Recently Shorn just like his erstwhile rescuers, Hans had been travelling to the “big city” (Threshold) when he was waylaid and robbed by a brigandous band of goblins.
While the conversation continued, Vaslav and Uric kept a wary eye out for trouble, but not even they expected to hear an angry fist thudding against a nearby door and a furious voice call out for them to “Keep the bloody noise down.” First Boindil, then Elra and then (finally) the more charismatic Klara tried to persuade the occupants to open up. However, the “men” behind the door (who described themselves as “paying guests”) quickly realised that they were speaking, not to the castle “staff”, but the interlopers who had killed some of the residents earlier that day. The rooms occupants promised to stay in their room, but warned that any fool trying to gain entry would get a crossbow in the face. They then proceeded to put a bolt through the door at close range, just to prove their point (and the sheer power of their weapon). There was some talk of using the torture rack in Hans’ old room as a battering ram, but that plan fell apart when it was realised that the table was wider than the door and that the party wsa somewhat lacking in the axe department (I know! And with two dwarves in the group too). Vaslav persuaded the others to agree to the “guest’s” demands, and stood guard while his brother hammered a few iron spikes into the door-post “just in case.”
They then proceeded west, to investigate a side corridor leading to one of the faux “tower” rooms. Inside they discovered the remnants of many make-shift beds, which clearly had not been used in some time. Boindil entered, and, while he had the sense to probe the walls, ceiling and rafters with his ten foot pole, he did not think to probe the floor until after he stood on something which took a disliking to him. A foot long centipede reared up from under a blanket, chomping down on the dwarf’s leg. The dwarf felt the creatures poison flood through his bloodstream, but a combination of his dwarven constitution and the good health granted to clerics by the Immortals allowed him to fight off this deadly infusion. Before the dwarf could react, his new companion [Hans] (armed with a sword borrowed from Uric and wearing Elra‘s old studded leather armour) leapt forward and split the thing right down the middle with a well-aimed blow. Boindil was most grateful for this swift action and, learning his lesson, set about lifting up other furs and blankets with his pole. It was while so doing that they found the reason the room had been so recently abandoned – a dead kobold. Pausing only to rob it’s belt pouch, the party closed the door behind them and returned eastward.
Boindil was in the process of wondering why the door he was searching for traps had been smeared with a streak of red paint when an almighty noise from behind caught his (and everyone else’s) attention. With the now-sealed door of the “paying guests” rattling in it’s hinges The Shorn hurried back down the corridor. Alas, seven armed and armoured young humans (and demi-humans) in a hurry make a great deal of noise, and the banging quickly stopped. It was while the seven young adventurers waited patiently (and quietly) outside the door that they were disturbed by the return of the kobold cooks – and this time they had brought some friends.
The first hint the party had of the new arrivals were the three arrows that variously whizzed by Uric‘s ear or found lodging in the chain links of his armour. The Shorn reacted quickly, Hans again reacting most swiftly, and so Hans,Boindil and Tungdil charged down the corridor (the two human fighters in the lead) while Vaslav and the girls stood watch at the door of the “paying guests”. Sure enough, upon hearing the sounds of combat, the door once again began to shake in it’s frame, convincing all present that “they must have a bloody great battering ram in there with them”. Hans had taken note of the smell of manure wafting from the room in question and had his own suspicions, but said nothing. Although Uric took a nasty wound, he and Hans soon had three of the six kobolds down. Just as they were about to slay another, the door erupted from its frame behind them, crashing against the opposite wall, while three man-sized, angry, orange-skinned beings charged out from behind their “battering ram”, the hind end (and hooves) or a heavily laden mule.
Klara, hidden behind the door, took this opportunity to demonstrate her skills as an assassin by slaying the first hobgoblin (wielding an impressive looking halberd) as it barrelled out the door. Elra was all set to engage another when an eager Vaslav, perhaps looking to shine in front of the girls (or else chivalrously
and chauvinistically protect them from harm) nudged her to one side and blocked the door way himself.
Slightly to the east, Hans slew another kobold, finally convincing the remaining two to turn and run back into the tower room from whence they came. Hans and Uric raced off in pursuit, Hans reaching the tower room first. What he saw there melted his heart and stayed his hand. Of the kobolds there was no sign – save for two quivering blankets huddled in the corner, with the tip of a trembling tail the only clue as to why these blankets were behaving so oddly. Hans couldn’t face slaying the pitiful creatures himself and could only hope that Uric had a harder heart than he. But when Uric came up, he too, spotted the pitifully quivering blankets and allowed himself a sympathetic sigh. Likewise feeling sorry for the pathetic, cowering creatures before him he produced his hammer and nail-bag once again and, withholding comment, preceded to seal the terrified little creatures in their room.
Meanwhile, the two dwarves were becoming frustrated with their lack of reach. To the east, Uric and Hans had routed six kobolds without allowing the brothers room to swing a single blow. To the west, Vaslav was blocking the only way into the “guests” room trading blow for blow. So, they did something stupid. They opened another door. Almost immediately Boindil took a nasty blow to the head from a flail-wielding skeleton. He quickly recovered and produced his holy symbol but, trembling in his haste, managed to drop it. Hans returned at this point Uric was still hammering) and, seeing the dwarf empty handed and gape-mouthed before yet another foe, shoved the dwarf aside without so much as a by your leave and stabbed at the skeleton in question. Too late, he realised that a short sword might not be the best weapon for fighting skeletons, and resolutely wished he’d had the forethought to bring a club with him.
Luckily, the skeleton managed to fluff its next blow entirely, the flail flying from its hands to land at the human fighters feet. While Vaslav continued to trade blows with the remaining two hobgoblins and Boindil reached down to collect his fallen Holy Symbol, Hans grabbed for the flail. He got a skeletal fist to the back of his head for the trouble, but he quickly snatched up the flail and shattered the skeleton with a single aimed blow. The two behind that first one did not seem impressed.
Vaslav finally felled another hobgoblin and stepped into the guest-room at about the same time that Boindil finally succeeded in a Turn attempt. When the two skeletons turned to flee, Hans smashed one down. The second hobgoblin died thereafter, followed moments later by the final skeleton. Uric, Hans and Vaslav stood guard while the rest of the party caught their breath, cast some curative spells and looted the bodies. Quite content with their haul (and all too aware of the late hour and that their casters were all out of spells) they withdrew without incident (with the mule) to the ruined village just outside the Manor. There they rested, counted their loot and cleaned their weapons.
Rather than risk taking the mule back into the Dungeon, the still somewhat injured [Uric volunteered to remain behind and guard the camp (and the loot). Therefore, six of The Shorn returned to the Dungeon the next morning. Rather than continue their exploration of the Northern Corridor (which still had two rooms unexplored) they proceeded to the Eastern north-south corridor. Some good door clearance drills saw the party evade a nasty blow from loose stones but the most notable early event of their explorations was the discovery in an old store room of a strange statue. This statue, in the shape of a shepperd, made no reaction at all when the doughty Hans stepped into the room, but upon the entrance of Klara it’s head swivelled round to address her in a gravelly voice.
“Greetings young madam. How may I assist you?”
Klara immediately responded with an expletive statement of surprise, to which the stature replied:
“I am sorry. For assistance you must state your request in the form of a question.”
Klara then asked three questions one after the other and receiving a simple “yes” answer each time: “Are there any evil beings in this castle; Are there any evil creatures in this wing of the castle, Can you tell us where they are?”
When she finally (on the fourth question) asked something specific that required more than a yes or no answer, the statue replied:
“I am sorry. You have had your three questions for today. I can answer no more questions. Please return tomorrow.”
While Klara had a hissy fit, they rest of the party tried their luck with the statue. It ignored most of the others, only acknowledging the presence of the two dwarves with a simple greeting. When they themselves asked the statue a question, they got the “Please return tomorrow” response themselves. Now Boindil, not being the brightest spark in the party, got rather upset since he hadn’t actually asked any questions at all and immediately set about bashing the statue with his flail, knocking an ear off. Vaslav very sensibly pointed out that three questions had been asked, just not by the dwarf, and that destroying a valuable asset they could use again tomorrow was, frankly, unwise. Boindil, still enraged, failed to listen. And then Vaslav started the “guilt trip”.
How horrified would Boindil‘s parents be, Vaslav reasoned, were they to find that one of their son’s first acts upon entering the wider world after his Shearing, was to vandalise a beautiful, unique and magical work-of-art. Why, might they not be so upset by this one, ill-considered act that he might never be welcomed back into the family. Boindil, grumbling, decided the statue had been punished enough at that point and wondered out back into the hall. Meanwhile, Vaslav aimed a wink at Hans and Klara, his fellow humans, who simply smiled and shook their heads in bemusement.
Disaster struck at the last door but one in the corridor. This door also had a read paint smear to mar its wood and when Hans opened the door he saw three humming-bird like creatures with a mosquito like proboscis swoop towards him. Acting swiftly, he shut the door, being rewarded by a “splat” noise when the closest of the three stirges smashed itself against the door. A brief discussion ensued regarding whether it would be most prudent to spike the door closed when Elra sensibly pointed out that they had been hired to “evict” the monsters. Not lock them in. So once again the door was opened. Almost immediately, Hans was impaled in the neck by one of the swooping creatures, only to be harmed further by Klara’s efforts to dislodge the beast with her sword. Loosing a great deal of blood to the ravenous little beastie, the young fighter keeled over, unconscious. Vaslav, in his haste to bash the stirge sucking their companion dry, neglected his own defences and soon succumbed in turn to the surviving beast. After many fumbled attempts, Klara and Tungdil each splatted one of the blood-sucking beasties in quick succession and immediately set about stabalising their friends.
All too aware that it would take their companions many days to recover from their wounds, the party fled the dungeon without further incident, collected Uric, the mule and their loot from the campsite; and returned to Threshold. There Boindil had a quick bout with filth fever following his dunking in the shit-bucket but quickly fought it off. While Vaslav and Hans spent a week recovering, the others were gracious enough to do their shopping for them. Having learned from their experiences in the Dungeon, they set about buying some vital supplies (such as an axe) and obtaining some better armour and weapons for Hans. Speaking of this young worthy, his first act on getting back on his feet was to thank the dwarves for looking after him by presenting each with a waterskin full of fine ale. He thereafter thanked the lassies by presenting each with a bouquet of flowers. The charmer.