The group carve through the remaining Vulgorim between them and Skrung's elite, and soon are fighting the heavily armoured giants. They are somewhat more challenging than their lesser brethren, but are soon destroyed, the group left battered and tired from their efforts.
Before the group looms the heavily fortified front gate of the keep. It
is realised that a large force of gigorim almost certainly waits beyond
it, and the artificer wonders if there could be another way in. Using
his artificer skills, he erects a bridge that reaches from the path up to the
battlements, and the group climb it with ease. Quite quickly they find a large
door that leads to a shaft of stone that plummets into the keep's depths. It is clearly not how the Vulgorim
who were perched here arrived (there are too many unbroken cobwebs, and
the dust caked on the sides is undisturbed), but it is a way in.
The group climb down the shaft, and find themselves reeling as the
overpowering stench of ammonia and rotting flesh assaults them. They are
in a vast chamber, from which runs a single 20' wide corridor. The
Veteran ignites a sunrod, and at once, the source of the stink is
revealed. The chamber is thickly covered in piles of decaying meat and
slimed bones, each mass alive with the vile wriggling of rot grubs.
Slime coats the walls, and far up the corridor, something huge and
clumsy moves towards the group.
After a few tense moments, the
group see a vast zombie - once a Morgog'Gigorim (Stone Giant) - stumbling
towards them, each clumsy step sending a shower of larvae and
partially-liquefied flesh from it's mass. Behind it, another gropes
along the corridor, and the group prepare to deal with them.
first, the party have an easy time of it, the first undead dropping with
disgusting ease. The second is also dispatched with little trouble.
However, a third and fourth zombie appear, and these offer more of a
challenge. At one point, the Veteran comes very close to death as the
undead pounds him to the floor, deep into one of the loathsome piles of
necrotic slime, its corrosive energies only enhancing the already
formidable blow of the weighty undead. However, the group are able, with
effort to put the shambling things down...
13:10: The group pick
their way through a number of grim chambers, filled with the remains of
zombies that have disintegrated with age. Eventually they come to a vast
door - though they can see little of it due to the thick growths of
grave mould that cover it. Realising it is highly toxic and likely to
harm the group, the artificer advises caution. With a curse, he realises
that the only safe way to remove it, will be to freeze it solid before
smashing it apart. Alas, he has no cold spells or devices to use.
Luckily, the warforged has several alchemical traps, salvaged during an
earlier adventure, which he uses to freeze the mould, allowing it to be
With the mould gone, the group take a short rest, and prepare to go through the doorway.
The Veteran grabs the door, and puts his inhuman strength to the test,
working the swollen, worm-eaten thing free of its frame, and, with a
crashing roar, tearing it free. As the door comes away, a shocked roar
echoes from the wide corridor beyond, and Llewellyn (who understands the
speech of Gigorim) hears a deep voice bellowing "Witch doctor? Them
zomblies is gettin' outta d'ere place!".
A crude abatis blocks
the door from the other side; a tangle of splintered logs for
the group to clamber through. Beyond it, at the edge of the sunrod's
bloodless glow, can be seen a squinting Vulgorim, clad in rotting furs,
and covered in greasy hair and acne.
"Heeeey....you's int' zomblies! OI! WITCH DOCTOR! IT'S DAT BLOODY ARMY COMING IN!!!"
to silence the filthy giant before it can raise the general alarm, the
group sweep in, the brute being forced back by their sheer ferocity.
Hacking at it like a tree, the monster is sobbing and holding its own
guts in by the time the witch doctor arrives - another Vulgorim, clad in
furs, animal bones, and wielding a massive staff covered in skulls and
cured flesh. Primal magic soon curdles the air, and the group are
battered by unnatural blasts of frost, searing balls of venom and
elemental fire. However, the group beat the monster back, the artificer
finishing him with a powerful blow from his clockwork limb.
But the battle is far from over...
by the sounds of battle, several Vulgorim grunts run to join the
battle, whilst another alerts the forces arrayed in the main entrance
(still waiting the "army" when they smash the front gates in). The simple
melee escalates into a minor war, with giant after giant stepping in to
try and kill the group. However, despite swings in fortune, they are
either slain or driven off, and with a weary laugh, the group race back
into the darkened corridors, to seek a place to heal...
After a short while, the party head northwards, for Ormid had sensed
unnatural planar energies surging somewhere in that direction. They pass
through a filthy chamber lit by oily braziers, strewn with hair, rotten
meat, fecal matter, bones, disgusting animal furs (beds?) alive with
fist sized ticks, and grotesque, bloody ornaments. In its northern
wall stands another massive door, which bears several heavy bars across
it. From beyond can be heard disturbing sounds - bestial roars of
frightening intensity. Worse, something about them makes the hair stand
up on the back of the artificer's neck, and he realises that the
"natural" sounds of whatever monster lies beyond, are infused with
daemonic voices, roaring and yowling along with its rage and pain.
The door is opened by the warforged.
a Fiendish Manticore...a massive thing of horns, scales, black fire and
batwings. It shrieks with savage glee as it spies the group, and at
once the party realise they are in trouble, for it occupies a truly
massive chamber large enough for it to fly and take advantage of its
incredible mobility. This chamber is strewn about with gore and organic
detritus - the remains of past victims. In the middle of the floor yawns
a huge pit, studded with downward pointing spikes of rusted steel, and
with a shiver, the group realise that something is down there; weeping
The manticore is a canny opponent. Victor of a
hundred battles, and imbued with the immortal knowledge of the daemon's
possessing it, it uses its unnatural powers to the very best advantage.
The group, by now weary beyond words and struggling to focus, quickly
find themselves struggling against it, and it is realised that
they must flee if they are to survive (this is the second enemy they
have ever fled from, the first being the Lich Atrophius). By the time
they realise this, both Veteran and Ormid are close to death, their
bodies wracked by daemonic energy which stops healing spells from
working, and which damages them further when they try and fail to reject
its touch. Worse, the two adventurer's are pinned against the only exit
- another vast barred doorway - by the manticore, the monster seconds
away from ending their lives.
Llewellyn only (accidentally) makes matters worse, striking the daemonic beast with the Destroying Momentum,
and ripping open its hide - a flickering aura of daemonic fire suddenly
filling the air in a deadly blaze, the monster's shriek of shocked pain
sending everyone to flight. So close to death, the merest touch of this
aura would likely end the artificer and bring the Veteran too close to
death to stand up for long against the horror. However, utilizing the
shadow energies they became infused with when fighting in the shade imbued
arena in Tammatuli, the group are able, briefly, to become
insubstantial, and, followed by the enraged roars of the fiendish horror,
to slip through the chamber's walls, and into a corridor beyond.