WFRP - The Blood Relic - Part 4 - The Finale!
Lightfoot and Ella made their way with Henri and his merchant caravan, into the jaws of the foreboding Grey Mountains. The weather proved to be their biggest adversary for a day and half, with blistering snowy winds and cold grey stormy skies making the going tough. Eventually the party came to a great stone 'gateway', like fanged maw that opened up to another snow swollen ravine and long unused trail. Henri explained this was the pathway into Grey Tooth Gorge, and from there, they would find the Prisoner's March track that would lead to the abandoned Prison Fort. The adventurers parted ways with Henri, being given a bottle of fine Bretonnian Brandy for their efforts so far. The two made their way into the gorge, their woollen cloaks wrapped tightly around their noses shielding the cold...
It wasnt long before they found what would be Prinsoner's March, that soon ebcame a dangerous snow covered cliffside trail pushing further and higher into the mountains. Along the trail, the two found old ruined prisoner carts, fitted with rusted manacles and chains. Out of the fog and snow up ahead, the dark square cut shape of the prison fort loomed above them. The path snaked it's way up to what looked like a gatehouse and bridge, which crossed a deep gorge and entered the Fort proper. Approaching cautiously, moving in steps between rocky outcroppings, they noticed a thin tendril of smoke rising from near the gatehouse. They sneaked nearer, seeing now a small dark hunched shape with a spear moving about on the gatehouse tower. Gettign a better view brought them even closer to the crumbling gatehouse. They could see a small camp near the tower, and a number of these small dark humanoids. Another two shapes appeared atop the watchtower - Goblins! The horrid rumours were true!
They saw the road that lead to the gatehouse arch, had another sloping branch that turned away from the entrance tower and bridge, and lead down into the gorge below. They could see the remnants of old mining equipment scattering the road, old turned carts and quarry stones, rusted picks and old useless hammers. The two crept dangerously across open ground, hoping to evade the goblins in this dense weather, and made it cover behind an overturned cart by the sloping gorge road. Thankfully the goblins didn't spot them, and a small bickering fight broke out on the watchtower above, between three guards, which gave the pair a chance to move on undetected. Sneaking away from the camp, the two made their way down the new path, the fog and snow swallowing them up as they descended...
They found themselves in what was left of a deserted labour camp quarry, at the base of the gorge cliffs - the prison fort itself perched high above them somewhere in the fog. It was eerily quiet, save the high pitched squawk of a mountain bird of prey high above, and the fog rolled creepily around the rocky walls around them. They found a number of mine shaft entrances, one of them quite large, and barricaded with man made rows of crates and tipped carts, and signs of lots of human movement in and out of the tunnel. There were scattered goblin weapons around in the snow, and as they crept under the crossbeam of the shaft entrance, they noted the hanging head of a goblin, its little green jaw ajar and dry tongue protruding and frozen stiff.
They crept quietly along the grey dusty corridor, Lightfoot's elf vision guiding them, and a flickering eerie firelight casting dancing shadows along their path. Ahead they could see a small square room and some dark shapes in the shadows. As the two burst into the small chamber, they found themselves partly blocked by makeshift barricades of crates and barrels. Behind them, two robed figures jumped to their feet surprised, drawing weapons! "Raise the Alarm" one man yelled, and the other made a dash to the opposite corner to where a large bell was sitting on a pile of crates. Lightfoot's notched arrow quickly stopped him, hitting his arm, he staggered, having to turn and face the vision of Ella charging in, axe curving towards him! The other cultist joined the fray, brutally wounding Ella, but revenge was fast with the two cutting down the robed men before they could get to the bell. They took the red robes, and pulled them quickly on before moving ahead with the cowls drawn closely around their faces.
They took the ringer out of the bell, and made their way quickly into the dark passageway ahead. They made their way down the dusty path, coming to another antechamber. To the south, they found an empty bunkhouse, lined with rough beds, footlockers and tables and chairs. Off to the side they found a store room, stacked high with barrels and crates and racked weapons. They found nice fitting mail armour and shields, and during their search, stumbled across a false bottomed chest, from which they looted many gold pieces and a collection of what could be a stash of stolen jewellery and stones. Lightfoot found an old quiver of arrows, modified to be set alight with oil or pitch. They noticed something much more intriguing. At the back of the store room, near some old crumbling tunnels that smelt like a privvy, they found some barrels of black-powder, with Imperial Reikswald heraldry stencilled on the side. They filled about 5 purse sized pouches full of the grey powder and made their way back out to the main passage.
They crept deeper down the shaft of the mine, to the growing sound of a strange chanting. They came to a small tunnel entrance, branching off the main shaft, and were surprised to find it half closed with a thick heavy red fabric curtain. Sneaking up to the edge of the passageway, they peeked around to see two robed cultists, kneeling before a strange shrine, eyes closed and praying in a harsh unfamiliar tongue. The walls of the small chamber were lined with hanging red fabric, and various brass incense burners filled the room with a sickly smoke. The altar was small and square, painted in blood, and covered in candles, melted onto skulls - human and goblin alike. A bone bowl of dark red blood sat in the centre of the altar, beside a thin curved knife. The cultists hadn't seen them yet, and Lightfoot sneaked in, pushing carefully through the curtains, her sword drawn and lightly treading on the dusty floor to get as close as she could to the unsuspecting mans neck. Ella was beside her, and they pounced! Taking them unaware, Lightfoot sliced into a neck, the man gasping and gurgling to the ground in a spray of blood. The other realised only seconds too late before Ella sunk her axe into the fiend as he turned, wide eyed.
Behind another partially closed curtain, they found a side chamber, lined with makeshift cell cages, the dusty remains of some poor souls littered the floor. In the end cage, they found a grisly discovery. The cage had to be half full with a giant pile of skulls, both human and goblin alike. Some old, some relatively fresh and white. At the end of this shaft, their path was blocked by a rusted old iron ate. A wooden board was wired to it, painted with a fading skull and crossbones. The door had not been used in ages - if at all. Beyond the gate in the darkness, Lightfoot could just make out some natural cave tunnels. It looked as if the old mine shaft had dug through into a cave system years ago, and this gate had been erected to prevent accidents and possibly escapes. No fire torches lit up the shadows back there, and the two made the decision to turn back and follow the main mine shaft, seeking their quarry...
As the two pushed on into the dimly lit passage, the growing sound of humming voices grew louder. Another chant, though this time much louder - more voices. The mine shaft angled up slightly, and ahead of them, brighter firelight shone through as the passage opened up into a much larger mining cavern. They perched secretly by the heavy old beams at the entrance to the chamber to view a horrifying scene. The large chamber had a square cut sunken floor in the centre, and the cultists were in the middle of some dark ritual. They saw a dark robed man, hands raised near the edge of a large pentagram carved into the stone, filled with a thin pouring of blood, glistening in the light. Beside him was Otto, shirtless and bearing all his strange tattoos. He paced back and forth, snorting and growling as if in some sort of trance or rage, carrying a large bronze ceremonial looking axe. There were other cultists, around the floor, robed in red, swinging bronze talismans as the chanter spoke his dread tongue. In the centre of the floor on a blood painted stone, lay the elven sword stolen from the tomb - twisted and blackened by some strange force, its blade eaten away to a cruel stump.
Across the room, an old set of steps and scaffolding criss crossed up the back wall to a heavily barricaded landing and barred metal door - which could lead to the bowels of prison fort above them.
Something (apart from the frakken obvious) made the two adventurers very uneasy, a supernatural feeling had overcome them, and they felt the shadows in the chamber growing as if alive. Something bad was about to happen.
Ella was still heavily wounded, and they needed a different approach than a frontal assault if they were to interrupt the ritual and survive. Lightfoot produced the bags of gunpowder, smiling. Without hesitating, Ella threw a bag into the fray. It missed the mark slightly, but didn't travel far, skidding to a halt near the feet of a cultist, close by Otto and the robed summoner. Lightfoot had already drawn her bow and lit her fire arrow by the torch in the passage. I was confident this was going to be a stretch - but beck - who had been rolling awfully all night - pulled it out of nowhere! Rolling a 03, Lightfoot's blazing arrow sunk into the bag a half second before the terrible explosion! BOOM! Searing flames engulfed one cultists in a ball of light killing him instantly, while another was sent flying to the edge of the ritual floor, his robes alight. Otto was bowled over, taking heavy damage, trying to regain his footing. The dark robed summoner was flung to the ground also, taking heavy damage just as he was completing his dark spell.
His magic was released, but the interruption to the ritual had cost him power and stability, and he lost control of the spell... The room grew dark, and the firebrands seem to flicker to nothing, as a ball of darkness emerged in the centre of the pentagram. Out of nothing came a scurrying dark shape of a beast, two razor sharp long horns and clawed feet. Screeching with an unnatural pitch, the demon flung itself onto the summoner, tearing into the man, killing it's would be master. The demon was drawn to the elven sword, taking it up.
In the confusion following the surprise attack, Lightfoot and Ella prepared another bag of powder to strike again. Ella threw it true, but Lightfoot's arrow flew far wide this time, and by now the remaining cultists, Otto and the terrifying demon were ready to fight. Otto growled and made his way towards them, another cultist right behind him. The demon screeched some more and attacked the nearest thing, being another cultist. Lightfoot slung arrow after arrow towards Otto, one of them hitting home and slaying him. The demon slew another cultist, turning its narrow glowing eyes back towards Lightfoot and Ella, letting forth a terrible howl. Ella had drawn her sword and rushed into the room to meet the challenge straight on! Ignoring the pain of her harsh wounds, she clashed with the foul demon, overcoming the feeling of fear rising in her.
The stability of the demon in this realm had wavered through the broken spell and explosion. The creature suddenly writhed in pain, as its form wavered and seemed to distort slightly as it felt a pull back to its own plane. The demon suffered a huge penalty, making it weaker, while damage against it became doubled (just my luck : / )
Suddenly a large explosion rocked the chamber. Above the room the barred door to the fort above blew apart, and the rest of the barricade collapsed under the weight of a greenskin wave, as a stream of goblins poured into the room, screaming their high pitched war-cries and descending the steps into the chamber. The remaining cultists scrambled to flee in surprise as the goblins rushed the chamber, waving sticks and spears and swords. In the fray, Ella spotted some of the fanatical gobbos carried small barrels of more of the blackpowder!
Ella was locked in combat with the demon as the goblins warparty scrambled closer. Lightfoot covered her with arrows, as she deftly fought back the foul beast, as the tide of goblins swarmed over them, engulfing the demon and another cultist in their path. She struck a final blow, banishing the foul beast, then scooping up the elven relic, she fled to the passage as goblins snapped at her heels - Lightfoot's arrows whizzing past her head to cover her escape!
As they turned to run, Ella dropped another bag of powder in the doorway to the main passage. As they fled, Lightfoot's arrow struck true again - just when she needed it - rolling 05 - and a loud explosion tore through the passage, collapsing the main support beams, caving in the stones and old wood behind them. They could still hear the sounds of screeching and rattling of weapons as the fanatical goblins searched for smaller holes to get through the rubble. The two adventurers fled quickly down the dust filled passage, coughing and making their way for the main exit...
Their path was cut off by the sounds of more goblins approaching from outside. They could hear the sounds of battle - one of the fleeing cultists had met the smaller party of goblins entering the mine from the quarry. Before they knew it, half a dozen goblins appeared around the corner and rushed towards them. Behind them they heard the sounds of more explosions and goblin war cries, and before them the exit seemed blocked! They then remembered the mysterious gated exit into the caves which they had discovered earlier, and made a run for it.
They kicked through the old rusted gate, not knowing where this cave system might lead them - but what had they to lose? Into the dark they ran, through rough natural cave tunnels, leaping dark drops and sliding under sharp stalactites. All the while behind them they could hear the buzzing noise of the goblin host, hot on their heels. Suddenly another loud explosion rocked the cave and in the rumbling the tunnel filled with dust, and rocks began to collapse form the ceiling above them. They ran on in the dark, with the elf's vision and a dying fire-torch - until up ahead through the dust, they saw a dot of light! As the tunnels began to collapse, and dust filled their lungs, the burst out of the cave entrance, flinging themselves onto the snowy ground, as the tunnel behind them completely gave way and collapsed in a crash of dust and rock!
They lay there in the snow, bruised and battered, scarcely believing they had made it out alive... Through the dust around them, dark shapes emerged, coming closer. All of a sudden a stout dwarf burst out of the dust, hammer raised above his head ready to strike, his eyes wide in surprise but caution. The women raised their arms in protest, mustering the last of their energy to call for calm! The dwarf lowered his hammer, offering a hand to help the two adventurers out of the snow,
"Well i'll say this lads! I've never seen no elf come out o' a hole in the ground b'fore! bwAHHAHAaa"
The mountaineering party had been travelling to investigate the rumours of goblin infestation at the old fort. Tired and aching, the adventurers were helped onto some sturdy wagons, and wrapped in fresh blankets. Some nice warm ale was drawn from a barrel, as the party moved off, heading back through the mountains, where the dwarfs had promised to take the two back to Ubersreik, and gather a larger party to return to the old prison. As they made their way down the mountain paths, the sound of muffled explosions could be heard as the old fort disappeared form view in the snow and fog...
Keeping it hidden form the mountaineers, Blackhart gripped the strange elven blade under her cloak. It was blackened and unnatural, something had twisted the metal and eaten away at the blade. They looked at each other, glad to be out of this mess alive, but knowing that this relic held mystery and strange power. They didn't know where it would lead them next or what they would do with it, but they were glad to be heading back to safety and a warm tavern...