—Moran, the Red Eagle, Thorax, Gurshh Blackmane and Thurtog all sat around a fire they had made, devouring hunks of Owlbear meat.
—They were in the antechamber they had entered into when first setting foot into the dungeon. Moran and Gurshh had set up a barricade, and they had just settled down for a rest.
—After a few moments of chewing, Red Eagle bit down onto something hard. He pulled from his mouth a silvery key, and threw it to the ground in disgust.
—Moran noticed that the key would probably be a match for the terminals which controlled the chained pillar in the main atrium, and made mention of the fact that they might want to keep it for future use.
—Red Eagle agreed, but did not wish to lift a finger to pick it up. Moran seemed to feel the same way, and the two turned to Gurshh, who did not move to pick it up either.
—Finally, Thurtog sighed and picked the key up, stowing it in his bag.
—Satisfied, and with their bellies full, the group turned in for the night.
—The next day, the group set out once again to explore the Vault of the Tempest.
—With a few doors to check on the top level, Gurshh and Thorax decided to explore the door that Gurshh had almost completely broken down. They kicked the door in fully, and stepped inside, saying that they would meet up later.
—Moran headed toward the terminal in the northeastern corner of the atrium, and inserted the key. It fit, and he turned the mechanism, hearing the sound of turning gears and a small bell chime.
—Satisfied, he followed Red Eagle and Thurtog, who were heading toward the bars blocking the way into the room up the steps on the northern side of the chamber.
—Red Eagle still could not make out what was inside the room, and so he hefted a bottle of oil with a flaming rag in it into the room. The bottle burst, spreading fire burning at the foot of a small set of steps.
—Moran began playing his drum, and the room beyond the bars was illuminated.
—They saw that a chest sat at the top of a raised platform in the centre of the room. The chest was about the size of a man, and the three of them imagined that it must be bursting with treasure.
—Red Eagle and Moran set to work immediately, and with their combined strength, managed to bend the bars enough to grant them entry into the room with the chest.
—Moran was quite excited at the prospect of opening the chest, and went at it at a dead run. He leaped into the air, hoping to use his knee to strike open the lock.
—However, as he soared toward the chest, the lid of the chest opened revealing a mouthful of teeth, and a long, sinewy tongue.
—Moran soared directly into the mouth of the Mimic, and was wrapped in the thing’s tongue. It pulled him in to its jaws, and slammed against him as it held him suspended by its tongue-like tendril in the air.
—The Mimic stood on tentacled legs, and as it did, it lifted the weight off of a pressure pad beneath it. As this happened, the wall on the north side of the room opened, revealing four Stormcaller Soldiers.
—The soldiers rushed in to attack, the first striking Moran with a resounding blow from its longsword, the other attacking Red Eagle, striking into him as well.
—Red Eagle moved in to strike down the skeleton that attacked him, but tripped on the side of the stairs, and tumbled toward him, swords out.
—As he fell, the swords plunged deep into the skeleton’s ribcage, and it fell back lifeless onto the stone floor.
—Red Eagle continued to tumble sideways, and knocked over Thurtog in the process.
—The Mimic pulled in Moran for another strike, slamming him against the floor with a snarl.
—One of the other skeletons fired an arrow at Moran, but did not hit due to the Mimic lashing him about.
—Moran found himself stuck fast by some strange adhesive to the creature beneath him. Mustering his strength, he pulled himself closer to the Mimic, attempting to gain the upper hand in the grapple. He managed to succeed in turning the tables, but the two were still locked together.
—The final skeleton rushed forward from its place near the far wall, aiming a sword strike at Thurtog, landing a glancing blow.
—Thurtog pushed himself up, and readied his guard against the advancing skeleton.
—The first skeleton near Moran attempted another strike, missing narrowly.
—Red Eagle freed his swords from the ribcage of the fallen Stormcaller, and lashed out with powerful strikes, defeating the two threatening Moran and Thurtog in only a few strikes.
—The Mimic saw an opportunity with Red Eagle so close and attacked at him, striking hard and pulling him into its sticky clutches. With both Red Eagle and Moran trapped, the odds of winning the battle waned.
—The remaining skeleton moved ahead, taking aim once again at Moran. It struck with an arrow, and chattered its teeth excitedly.
—Moran looked severely worse for wear, and began struggling to breathe. However, he spotted the stone gate that had lifted before, and got an idea. With Red Eagle’s help, the two managed to manoeuvre the Mimic beneath the gate, positioning themselves strategically out of the way as possible as the creature writhed and morphed around them.
—Moran gave the signal for Thurtog to step onto the platform which the Mimic had been on before the battle had started. Thurtog got the message, and obeyed, narrowly avoiding a strike from the nearby skeleton in the process.
—The gate rolled down quickly, slamming forcibly into the Mimic. The creature shifted and screeched, but still lived.
—“Again!” Shouted Moran. Thurtog let his weight off of the pressure pad, and stepped on it a second time.
—The gate rolled down, finally killing the creature. It oozed into a puddle on the ground, freeing them of it’s grip.
—Thurtog stepped toward the last remaining skeleton, and cut its head off with a single sowrd swipe, proudly grinning from atop the plinth.
—Red Eagle lifted himself free of the gooey creature, and spotted a glimmering piece of metal beneath him.
—The Red Eagle pulled a shining key from the Mimic’s remains, and tossed it at Thurtog. The key hit him in the eye, and he growled in protest as he stowed this key away in his bag.
—Suddenly, they heard a sound coming from the atrium – the sound of Gurshh bellowing with rage.
—Red Eagle ran immediately into the atrium to see what was the matter. Thurtog started to run, but hesitated seeing Moran’s weakened state. For a moment, it looked like Thurtog might help Moran to get into the central chamber, but he appeared to think better of it, running after Red Eagle instead.
—Moran got to his feet, and followed behind slowly.
—In the atrium, red Eagle emerged from the barred room to see Gurshh bursting into the chamber with a strange, purplish creature on his back.
—With one motion, he grabbed the creature bodily, and threw it against the central pillar. The creature’s bones cracked and it plummeted down to the bottom of the atrium with a crack.
—Thorax followed closely behind, his bow drawn. He put his arrow away when he noticed that the fight was over, and then he and Gurshh asked for the others to report what they had found.
—Moran relayed what had happened, and showed them the key they had found.
—Gurshh said that the door he and Thorax had broken own led to a series of rooms used by the Stormcallers as a base of operations for the prison. He said they had found barracks, offices, a mess hall, and other rooms of little consequence to them.
—He said that they had bumped into the ghouls during a search of the kitchens, and that they had found nothing of interest or use in any of these rooms.
—Moran pondered for a moment, and considered how they had found the first two keys – both inside of creatures.
—He brought this up, and asked if Gurshh and Thorax had taken the time to look inside of things they had found. Gurshh seemed puzzled until he realized what Moran meant, and when the realization dawned, they all glanced over the edge of the drop, where the ghoul had fell.
—Red Eagle got his grappling hook out, and was about to begin repelling down when the others warned that it was likely too far to climb down, given how far the ghoul had taken to fall.
—Red Eagle dropped a torch down, and agreed that it was indeed too far a drop.
—They decided that they would have to find a safer way down in order to check the corpse of the ghoul, and began exploring the rest of the atrium.
—Gurshh, Red Eagle and Thurtog inspected a wooden door on the southwestern corner of the room, and found it to be only a guard post with old tables and barrels.
—Finding nothing of use, they joined Moran and Thorax who had opened a door on the southeastern corner. They entered into a hall that was flanked by walls depicting mosaics of sorcerers and wizards casting spells, finally ending in a string of images of these same spell-casters behind bars.
—The hall opened into a sort of antechamber before a pair of double-doors. On the adjacent wall from the doors was a table with some chalk in a bowl, and some other wizard’s implements.
—The Orcs approached the doors, taking note of a strange circle that had been drawn in runes on the ground just in front of them.
—Gurshh was about to ask Moran to break the door down, but noticed that he still looked quite bloodied from the fight with the Mimic.
—Gurshh attempted to open the doors, and was struck by a lightning trap that was set into the flanking walls.
—Shaking off the effects, Gurshh attacked the doors with Moran, a second time, and they flew open, banging against the walls of the room beyond.
—The party now looked into a room with six cells, filled with skeletons of ornately-robed individuals. They spotted one with a tiger’s head and backwards hands, and one with a skull that could not even be identified.
—At the end of the room was a chest, flanked on either side by torches in brackets on the wall.
—Thurtog and Red Eagle were about to go towards the chest when Moran stopped them, pointing to the shadow of a strange orb-like thing he could see on the wall behind the chest.
—When he noticed this, they all heard a voice whisper inside their minds, telling them that they were wise to use caution.
—They whipped around looking for the source of the voice, but all they could see was what was before them.
—Red Eagle decided to address the speaker, trying to find out more about it.
—The creature revealed itself, rising in midair from behind the chest. The creature was an orb with a central eye, and four eyestalks. It had a wide mouth filled with teeth, and it smiled as it spoke.
—By the thing’s words, it seemed intent on killing them all, happy to have ‘visitors’ after centuries of being alone.
—However, Red Eagle would have none of this monster’s nonsense. He cried “I am the Red Eagle! And this is my beak!” And he hurled his boomerang at the beast.
—The creature could not move away in time, and was struck, right in the forehead by the sharp piece of wood.
—The boomerang became lodged in the creature’s head, quite deep. He thing writhed in the air, and smacked itself against the back wall. The boomerang clattered to the floor, and the creature righted itself, shaking from left to right.
—Suddenly, it caught sight of Red Eagle and flew towards him at breakneck speed. Before he could do anything, the beast had caught up with him and immediately began licking his face with a long tongue, like a hound.
—Red Eagle and the others were stunned. The creature seemed to have been knocked senseless by the boomerang strike, as it floated in midair, panting like a dog.
—Moran saw a chance to move past it toward the chest, but the creature moved in front of him, blocking his way. However, it was not imposing in the slightest, and seemed to even be confused itself by the action.
—This was enough to instill a warning in Moran’s mind, and he was wary that this strange thing might regain its mind and try to attack them. Not wanting to take the chance, he signalled to the others, and they all closed around it, preparing to strike.
—Suddenly, Moran plunged a fist deep into the skull of the thing. It died instantly, its eyestalks falling limply.
—Moran pulled his hand free, revealing a key in his fist.
—The threat gone, they moved toward the chest the creature was guarding, and counted themselves lucky for having overcome this obstacle so easily.
—Inside the chest they found two healing potions, a brown robe embroidered with gears and cogs, a silvery ring adorned with violet stones, a silken shirt, and a flat iron bar with a button on one end.
—Red Eagle stowed the potions away, and gave the silk shirt to Thurtog to wear. Red Eagle himself took the ring and put it on, and inspected the iron bar. He found that when he clicked the button, it remained in place in midair, immovable. He took it to use later.
—Moran donned the robe, and found that he felt far more confident with his abilities. His fists seemed stronger, and he even seemed to move faster as a result of simply wearing it.
—The items of the chest safely stowed away, the group decided to lay down for a rest. Moran’s wounds were extreme, and it was clear that they could have easily been killed had they not had so much luck.
—The group returned to their barricaded room, and feasted on more Owlbear meat. They rested for a few hours, recovering their strength and tending their wounds before deciding to head down into the lower chamber again to explore the second level a little further.
—They were still missing one of the keys, and they expected that since they had fully explored the top level, that they would find it lower down.
—They returned to the first basement, and walked to where they had killed the Owlbears. They noticed a grate in the floor for the first time, and inspected it a little.
—Thurtog came across a lever on the wall, and Red Eagle instructed him to pull it. At once, the circular grate in the floor opened, revealing a kind of chute that lead down to a room below.
—Not wanting to wait to find a safe way down, Moran leaped bodily into the chute. The chute ended abruptly, opening into a large room as Moran fell. Below him was a much larger grated floor with a hatched trapdoor set into it, apparently opened by the same mechanism.
—Moran fell straight toward the second open grate, and caught himself from falling with each limb stretched across the opening.
—Below him was a pool of water, dark and murky in the light of the room.
—Red Eagle readied his grappling hook and rope to help the others descend. Thorax attempted to climb down first, but his grip slipped, and he fell straight down, landing on Moran’s back. Both of them plunged into the water beneath the grate.
—Red Eagle and Gurshh went down after them, managing to climb down, landing safely on the grated floor.
—The room was large, and was hung with cages sporting the deceased corpses of long-dead prisoners. On the left wall was a barred opening that seemed to lead outside – daylight could be seen clearly just beyond the bars. Water seemed to be rushing from the right side of the room, through the pool beneath the grate, and out of the barred opening, like a waterfall.
—Red Eagle told Thurtog to throw the rope down after them, and he obeyed, wondering how he would get into the room.
—Just as Thorax reached up to try to get out of the pool beneath the grate, something brushed past Moran’s leg – and kept going. The strange tendril snaked over his leg for far too long to just be a normal fish.
—He plunged his head beneath the water, and witnessed a massive white-skinned fish with three red eyes. The fish looked ancient and evil, with long tentacles and a bony ridge along its back.
—Suddenly, they all heard a chuckling within the backs of their minds.
—The fish introduced itself as Delaroghani, and said that it was imprisoned by the Stormcallers long ago.
—The fish seemed to harbour no ill will toward them, and the Orcs decided to hear it out. It explained that all it wanted was its freedom, and that it would help them progress if they opened the iron bars, and allowed it to flow into the waterfall and out of the Vault.
—This seemed perfectly reasonable, and they asked what they would receive in return if they agreed.
—Delaroghani showed them a silver key that it seemed to keep tucked away on one of its tentacles. It offered them this as their prize should they free him.
—At first, Moran was about to agree, and almost asked the fish how to open the bars.
—However, Thorax had been listening, and he spoke, telling them all that Delaroghani was a creature known as an Aboleth. He said that these fish were ancient horrors from beyond the moon, and that tales told of these creatures enslaving entire civilizations, bringing them down to cyclopian ruins below the waves.
—After hearing this, Moran confronted Delaroghani about these facts.
—The giant fish simpered and said that what it did after it left the cell was no concern of theirs. It held the prize they required, and would give it freely should they allow him his freedom.
—However, Moran seemed unable to suffer a creature of slavery to live. The Orcish way dictated only freedom, and slavery flew in the face of all the things that Grom’s army fought against.
—Without warning, Moran kicked off hard against the grated floor above, and plunged through the water with a mighty kick, ready to attack the devilish creature.
The Sword of Bothh
Chests, Eyes, and Silver Keys
—Moran, the Red Eagle, Thorax, Gurshh Blackmane and Thurtog all sat around a fire they had made, devouring hunks of Owlbear meat.