Session/Game: Axeburg 3e #12
Episode 12: "How Gudwig Got His Spine(s) Back"
Campaign Date: Imperial Year 486 Tul 10th to Tul 19th
GM: Dave Nelson
Hildrun, son of Frithman, human, rune master, level 4, (Mike Miller)
Gudwig, human, ranger/rogue, level 1/3 (Toby Miller)
Bormund, son of Rathgar, human, fighter, level 5 (Andrew Smith)
Yrsa, daughter of Frithman, human, vola, level 3 (Justin Fernandez)
Harken! In the hall of Axeburg it was seen by many how Lord Grimbold cast out the wretched halfling skald Froedimar the Plagarist when Froedimar was unable to tell his lord the course to the Valley of the Swirling Winds...OF DEATH, despite earlier assurances. In place of the filthy halfling, Hakon the Bold was proclaimed new court skald.
Tul 10th, Axeburg
Bormund, Gudwig and Hildrun were assigned to search for a secret tower in the doom hills wherein lay a sure guide to the Valley of the Swirling Winds…OF DEATH. Hildrun recalled that his sister Yrsa possessed a map to that very tower.
Bormund rides to Port to fetch Yrsa.
Bormund, Yrsa, Gudwig and Hildrun ride out and find the lost tower. As they approach the tower hill, a mist arises and twelve hideous dead creatures (tyrant-fog zombies) also rise to the attack! The creatures are quite fell and terrible, verily the blades of our heroes are nearly useless against their foul hides, saving only the enchanted blade of Hildrun. Bormund, on his horse, did his best to rescue comrades in danger, at one point dragging Hildrun 25 feet in the dust. But at last Gudwig, Bormund and Yrsa, overcome by their wounds, flee the field. Hildrun soldiers onwards, summoning up three great runic bears to aid him. Hildrun and the bears eventually destroy all the foul abominations and victory goes to the rune master. Yrsa was gravely affected by the touch of the evil creatures and her health declined forever after (-1 CON).
The heroes decided that it would be wise to flee to safety rather than proceed. Knowing full well that if they returned to Axeburg, their task undone, their shame would be unbearable, they instead went to the hovel of a local farm-widow Brunmunda the Ratbag.
Bormund rides to the house of the bondar Fister and asks for food and supplies (most notably a rake, hammer and spikes). Fister gives him the goods, and Bormund gifts him with 20 silver marks. Fister refuses to hand over two live chickens for Hildrun, saying "Hildrun can get his own chickens for his foul vitchcraft." Bormund rides back to the Ratbag's hut.
The adventurers rest and carve runic spells at the Ratbag's hut.
Yeah verily, the 4 thegns return to the Doom Hills and find a single great stone of the Grumbol Tower. Hildrun finds a runic inscription saying "Address the Sheep-Fold". Eventually Bormund calls out "Open" (for we all know "Oh, Pen" is the correct form of address for a sheep-fold) and the stone slides in half revealing a shaft going downwards.
Gudwig is sent to scout first. He finds the shaft goes 30 feet straight down to a room. He searches the room and is nearly bitten by a large centipede, which he kills. The other three follow him down. They then open the door to the hall and after Hildrun steps on a carved rune on the floor, are swarmed by a dozen demonic wretches (the infamous Buggers of ancient lore). They cut their way through the buggers and find another chamber, where Gudwig is ravaged by an extra-large fiendish owlbear. This abomination is likewise eventually cut down by Bormund after a hearty fight by all except Gudwig who cowered in the corner, after engaging in a shameful bout of tumbling to escape.
While searching the owlbear's chamber, Gudwig finds a rune similar to the bugger-rune they found before. He touched it and was immediately whisked away by sorcery to a sealed chamber and was attacked by a half dozen buggers. His screams of terror were heard for a furlong in every direction, and Bormund's keen ears tracked them down. As Gudwig fights for his life, the others try the runic puzzle which seals the chamber "Unseal the door as you separate the hairs". Hildrun quickly calls out "Part" and the door way opens and Hildrun and Bormund finish off the buggers, after Gudwig engages in another act of shameful tumbling to escape the clutches of the buggers. Yrsa heals many of the grievous wounds of the rest of the party.
In the bugger chamber, Gudwig tries to open a chest, but finds himself transformed into a large, talking, porcupine-man by some devilment. He is absolutely delighted by the transformation, but Bormund and Hildrun immediately begin to sharpen their swords to put this abomination out of his misery. Hildrun first calls for the direct intervention of Harr and, Harr be praised, his prayer is answered and Gudwig is returned to human form. Inside the box were 4 solid-gold 15-pound statues of porcupines.
Traveling onward, they find a room with a brass bowl on a stick. Hildrun thrusts a torch into the bowl, summoning up a fire elemental which puts a world of hurt onto everyone and they flee like mad, sealing the door behind them. A quarter-hour later they return to find the elemental gone.
Beyond the elemental's room they find a room with the carving of some great porcupine god. Bormund touches it. The room is filled with smoke and flame and when it clears they find Bormund gone and a large porcupine in his place. They attempt magic and divine intervention to restore Bormund, but to no avail. Finally, Hildrun searches nearby rooms and finds Bormund asleep in a secret closet nearby.
Deeper into the dungeon, there is a greater statue of a god-porcupine, guarded by 2 trollish giant porcupines. These hellish beasts inflict huge gaping wounds in our heroes, until they finally are slain (I do not rightly recall whether there was any shameful tumbling involved). The stature itself holds a brass "Rod of the True Course" which will lead anyone straight to the Valley of the Swirling Winds...OF DEATH without fail.
The adventurers return to Axeburg in triumph.