Trust No Weavers of the Dark Arts

The Searchers Descend

Area 1 and Surroundings

An ancient hall of mortared stone stretches before the barbarians, littered with small bits of rotten, splintered wood and grimy tatters of cloth. Wolfgar’s dim torch reveals a number of wooden doors, all closed. The stench of urine and sweat is palpable. Kel eases his heaving chest as the battle frenzy fades, and takes in his surroundings. His keen eyes not ascertaining an immediate threat, the young barbarian stoops and begins to rifle through the possessions of the dead beast things, bodies and bit of bodies cooling in the black pudding of their thickening blood. Kel chortles mirthlessly as he strips a usable cloak from a corpse. After all, there’s no need for vengeance to be profitless.

All told, Kel’s quick and decidedly messy search turns up 15 coppe pieces of various denominations, six pieces of silver, as well as a pile of weapons and ruined clothing. Of the weapons, only a rusty poniard and a battered cutlass appear to be of any value, and only the short cloak appears to have susvived in any usable capacity, is is mostly free of the stinking black blood congealing now on the steps.

Kel’s keen eyes notice a catgut string, and the many small bells that hang from it, strung from one side of the corridor to the other. He splits the “valuables” into piles, and points the alarm out to Wolfgar, saying, “With guards and wards such as these the wizard seeks to keep us from him? Let us teach him the true meaning of fear, my brother.

“First, let’s check these doors so that we leave no evil behind us to catch us unawares later.” and without waiting for a reply, he strides quickly to the closest door and presses his ear against it. Hearing nothing, he takes a few steps back and slams himself into the door, nearly taking it off the hinges as he burst through the old wood and into the room beyond.

The room smells of mold and rot and the dust kicked up by Kel’s dramatic entrance. It is very dark until Wolfgar comes to the door with the torch, illuminating a room filled with old crates and barrels and apparently untouched for some time. The older barbarian does not look amused, saying sternly, “Why are you making such a racket? Do you think we’re alone in these dark tunnels? You didn’t even try to open the door.”

Kel shakes the dust from his long, squarecut mane, and with a humorless laugh, responds, “And if the room had been full of crossbowmen instead of these,” and he lets his axe drop through the brittle old wood of a crate, a cloud of particles rising from the ruin. “What then? A fine target I would have made struggling with an old door latch.” Kel starts coughing, and once he starts it’s hard for him to catch his breath. “You are welcome o the next door if your prefer,” he manages to wheeze.

Kel backs away from the crates, still coughing. He seems to recover for a moment, but can’t seem to catch his breath for the coughing. Wolfgar, from the doorway, looks alarmed, says, “Some foul spirit has a hold on you, Kel.” Kel’s stomach begins to cramp, and he crawls on his hands and knees to the wall. “By Bori, I’ve been poisoned,” he gasps before vomiting. After a moment, gasping and still clutching at his roiling stomach, Kel struggles to his feet. Throwing a disgusted glance in the direction of the broken crate, he leans against the wall until his stomach stops churning. Once it no longer hurts to breathe, he spits, “Our enemy is a coward indeed to leave behind all of these traps and alarms instead of facing us himself.”

Wolfgar steps in the room and closes what’s left of the door as best he can. He turns to Kel, his face a weathered mask of concern, “Can you Continue, Kel, or should we rest until you’ve recovered?” Kel opens his mouth to speak, but resurgent cramps grip his belly and he falls and writhes silently on the flagstones. His face ashen with pain, Kel nevertheless waves Wolfgar away from him and struggles to his feet, one hand pressed against the cold stone wall. He places one shaky foot in front of another and moves slowly, deeper into the gloom. “Let us take a moment to ensure that no more nasty surprises await us in this storeroom,” he finishes with a cringe, his stomach twinging. “I believe I’ll be able to move on after that.”

Wolfgar strides ahead, broadsword ready and gleaming in the torchlight. “Stay where you are and rest easy. I’ll scout the room,” he says, histone conveying a soft edge rarely present when he speaks. He returns after a few minutes. “Stores, mostly useless, but I think we might find something of use in two closets on the far wall,” he says, “but there’s no other way in or out except through your broken door.” He snorts. “I think most of the crates and barrels are suspect out here, but when you’re ready you can better investigate if they carry the poison. You always have had a keener eye that way.”

His color returning, Kel pushes himself into an upright stance and nods, satisfied that his legs will hold his weight. Not yet trusting his stomach contents to remain where they should, he begins slowly pacing the great storeroom, his head turning to each new pile with interest. He examines each container, finding clusters and tracings of the poisonous mold, but his careful search reveals nothing of use.

“Let’s try these closets,” Kel says, striding with increasing confidence across the dusky stone chamber to the first closet door. He examines it quickly, and finding no mold, tries the handle. The door appears to be stuck. Kel braces himself and pulls, and the door bends but doesn’t give. Wolfgar lends a hand, using the flat of the recovered pigman’s cutlass to pry the swollen door just above the rusted lock. With a groan from door, lock, both give way. Not wanting to waste time, Kel moves to the second door, taking the rusty handle in his big fist. His muscles surge, his face becomes a mask of effort, and the door comes away in a shower of wet splinters and the squeal of metal dragging across stone.

Kel and Wolfgar take their time exploring the contents of both small closets. In the first they find nothing (but also no mold). The second closet contains a number of old wooden boxes of miscellaneous dry goods, including a small box containing six fire-kindling tindertwigs, a one-foot-long, gold tipped iron rod, and a second crate that contains two small flasks of acid. Kel takes the gold tipped iron rod from Wolfgar, who looks at it, bewildered, says, “For this bauble I suffered so?” He shrugs and slips it into his sack with the rest of the loot, and turns to Wolfgar.

As the barbarians exit the storeroom, stepping gingerly through the ruined door, they can hear the sounds of muffled voices, arguing heatedly through the door they though to try next. Wolfgar cocks his head, listening intently, holding a hand up to silence his young companion. “Orc,” he says with distaste. “They’re calling for arms, I think, or they’re arguing if they should or not. I’m not sure.”

Kel reaches a hand for the door handle, but Wolfgar waves him away. Thinking quickly, Kel removes the gold tipped iron rod from his sack and wedges it between the handle and the frame of the door, hoping to stall those within, or give some warning before they emerged from the room intent on battle. Kel turns to Wolfgar, his face a picture of smug satisfaction, whispers: “that will keep those creatures occupied for some time. Let us move on.”

Together the barbarians move down the hall, carefully stepping over the catgut string-and-bells alarm. The closest of the doors on the right side of the hall appears old and worn, but still used. Tracks in the dust and grime indicate the passage of creatures to and from the doorway, but when he presses his ear to the door Kel hears nothing.

“Those others won’t debate for long, lad,” Wolfgar says, his weathered face squinting into the shadows of the hallway cast by his flickering torch, his blade held tightly in his other hand, ready for any sudden appearance of evil. Nodding in agreement, Kel pushes the door open. “With luck, I barred that door well enough to give us some time to find our path forward.”

“Shall we try the other side?” he says.

As the barbarians exit the storeroom, stepping gingerly through the ruined door, they can hear the sounds of muffled voices, arguing heatedly through the door they though to try next. Wolfgar cocks his head, listening intently, holding a hand up to silence his young companion. “Orc,” he says with distaste. “They’re calling for arms, I think, or they’re arguing if they should or not. I’m not sure.”

Kel reaches a hand for the door handle, but Wolfgar waves him away. Thinking quickly, Kel removes the gold tipped iron rod from his sack and wedges it between the handle and the frame of the door, hoping to stall those within, or give some warning before they emerged from the room intent on battle. Kel turns to Wolfgar, his face a picture of smug satisfaction, whispers: “that will keep those creatures occupied for some time. Let us move on.”

Together the barbarians move down the hall, carefully stepping over the catgut string-and-bells alarm. The closest of the doors on the right side of the hall appears old and worn, but still used. Tracks in the dust and grime indicate the passage of creatures to and from the doorway, but when he presses his ear to the door Kel hears nothing.

“Those others won’t debate for long, lad,” Wolfgar says, his weathered face squinting into the shadows of the hallway cast by his flickering torch, his blade held tightly in his other hand, ready for any sudden appearance of evil. Nodding in agreement, Kel pushes the door open. “With luck, I barred that door well enough to give us some time to find our path forward.”

The room before Kel is roughly square, and 20 feet on a side. Eight crude beds topped with rotting straw mattresses line the far wall. The two barbarians step inside, and Wolfgar closes the door behind them. Kel makes a quick circuit of the room, overturning bunks and mattresses. Under bunk is a hunting bow and nine arrows, under another he finds a handful of copper pennies.

Wolfgar stands uneasily beside the closed door: “This must be where those dead ones slept.” Kel hands the pennies to Wolfgar, then tests the pull on the bow. “If you’re right, they no longer need these.” Slinging the bow over one shoulder and sliding the arrows into his sack, Kel pulls open the door. Ears alert for the sounds of his makeshift barricade failing, he strides acorss the hall to the opposite door.

He presses his ear to the door, but hearing nothing, tosses open the door. Before him is a torchlit room, much like the one he just left, except that this room is occupied. Two hairy man-things tower over him, and beyond them two small, rat faced creatures wearing cowls brandish clubs, and beyond these, three pig men, one wearing a necklace of claws and teeth, who screeches shrilly: “Attack!”

From the direction of the barricaded door, a light springs into existence.

Kel roars unintelligibly as the foul beasts approach and settles into a combat stance before the doorway, trying to forget the pains still shooting through his abdomen. One of the giant men swings his big hammer, which Kel deftly ducks, and connects solidly with the frame of the door, splintering the wood of the frame where Kel’s head would have been with his mighty strike. The other huge man tosses his javelin, and though Kel moves to evade, the jevelin grazes his flank, drawing blood. Having thrown his javelin, the big man grabs his hammer from where it’s been leaned against the wall for easy access.

Kel steps to the right of the doorway. One of the pig men tosses a javelin at the distant Wolfgar, just emerging from th doorway across the hall. The missile hits the hulking man who has only just hefted his big hammer, striking him at the base of the neck, the bronze head of the spear piercing and severingthe spinal cord of the beastly thing’s ally.

Wolfgar hustles across the hallway, blade ready, and takes up a position opposite of Kel. Looking over his shoulder, the weathered barbarian turns to his young friend, says: “There’s a light beaming from that door, lad. That bar won’t hold for long against magic, and then those other beasties’ll be on us.” He laughs, “We’re in it thick now!” and begins to sing the death song of his enemies.

Enraged, the hairy man Kel dodged barges into the doorway and ou into the hall. Wolfgar and Kel both strike as he emerges, Kel’s axe chopping deep into the giant man’s thigh, breaking bone, collapsing him to one good knee, while Wolfgar’s sword plunges under one hairy arm to pierce the man’s black and twisted heart. The two rat things, seeing an opportunity rush through the doorway and over their dying comrade to take up positions behindKel as both barbarians recover from their killing strikes. The rat men jab with their spears, but Kel turns one and dodges another without much trouble.

Turning, the younger barbarian raises his axe and swings with such tremendous force, that as his axe descends, almost unhindered, through the first rat man’s ribcage, the blade whips into the other rat faced beast, cleaving both beast and spear in two surprised pieces.

The pig man who inadvertently killed its comrade with the errant javelin rushes into the hallway, past the singing barbarian and ducks his whistling blade, striking wildly at Wolfgar, who dodges quite easily. The two other pig men follow the first and join in a circle, a mad game of whack a mole playing out as they swing wildly for the barbarian, who dodges, until the pig man with the necklace of teeth, striking from the doorway like an imp from hell, scores a bruising hit on Wolfgar’s leg.

Kel swings his axe at the necklace wearing pig man, taking its head off cleanly at the shoulders. Kel’s strike is powerful enough to kill the pig man next to the now decapitated and spurting torso, but a skillful, desperate parry allows the creature to evade the blow. However, Wolfgar takes the opportunity to strike at the piug thing’s vitals while distracted. As it turns Kel’s axe, Wolfgar steps up and neatly disembowels the creature, hot entrails and a gout black blood spilling onto the worn flagstones. The first pig man’s club is batted aside easily. Kel shouts over the din, “That looked like a nasty blow, by Bori. We had best finish these quickly!”

At that moment, several things happen at once: the barred door burst open, and hulking greenskins spill into the hallway, and the door just above the one the barbarians are battling before opens and several more pig men, these looking battered and with a mish-mash of weapons are forced into the hallway, goaded by the sound of shouts behind them.

Kel absorbs the new situation quickly, puts his back to the wall, and calls out, “We will be better able to defend ourselves on the other side of this door,” but the greenskins charge before the weathered barbarian can respond.

The first, glittereing broadsword blazing in the torchlight, snout curled into a snarling, sputtering roar, dashes across the the debris littered floor of the hallway, his blade makes a clumsy slash as he closes with Wolfgar, and unprepared for the ferocity of the attack, doesn’t do enough to dodge the clumsy blow and cuts deep into his shoulder and leaves the barbarian gasping.

The second new attacker, a heavily muscled, hairy female, comes running, swinging a club that looks like it was a beam in a past life. She doesn’t charge so much as walk quickly and powerfully forward, swinging with all of her considerable might when within striking distance, though clumsily, and Wolfgar is able to easily sidestep the blow, his eyes still on the glittering blade of the orc who nearly slew him.

The next new attacker brandishes a great, two-handed tulwar, and wades into combat with the saunter of a brutal slayer. The great blade is nicked and chipped in a dozen places, and dried blood stains t he dull stell black. Wolfgar sees death glowering out of the black eyes of the big green creature, as with a mighty, two-handed swing, that brutal blade descends on nothing but the dank air of the passageway, the swing so wild that Wolfgar only had to lean to one side to avoid the death foretold. Sparks fly from the floor where the massive blade strikes stone, a newly minted chip in the blade glinting in the shorn steel.

Two other attackers linger in the hallway before the unbarred door – a tall figure clad in leather armor, aiming a crossbow at the wild melee; the other is a figure familiar to Kel: it was with the party of pig men who assaulted them on the stair only moments before, the green-skinned killer with the big hammer who seems to want to see how the battle plays out before he enjoins the fight. Wolfgar hollers, bringing Kel back from a sudden chill run down his spine, “Retreat sounds like the best option, boy, lead on!”

The tulwar descends again as both barbarians duck through the doorway and into the room beyond, the huge blade missing Kel by a hairsbreadth. Behind them, there is a loud bang followed closely by terrified screams. The first pig man, emboldened by the fact that he alone remains alive of all those who began the fight less than a minute ago, steps up with his misshapen club and strikes Kel in the solar plexus, intendingto stun, but only leaving a bloody welt onthe muscular chest of the young barbarian, who strike with sudden fury at the beast who landed such a stinging blow, the blade of the axe slicing off the cap of the pig man’s skull in a neat, nearly surgical, cut. the dark eyes, black and squinting, widen, and the porcine corpse drops to its knees and then flat on what’s left of its face.

Thinking quickly, Kel drops his axe and slams the heavy door shut in the face of the battle hungry warriors. Wolfgar, limping, drags a chair over and wedges it tightly under the handle of the door. Heavy thumps and unintelligable cursing comes from the other side of the door. Wit hthe heavy door between him and the screams of his enemies, the patter of his life’s blood hitting the floor rings loud in Kel’s ears. He gasps, “We are at death’s door brother. There are too many of them. Bori knows how we will fulfill our oath now.”

Wearily, Wolfgar shakes his head, “What can we do, trapped in here like rats? We must think! What have we between us that might foil these foul spawn?” Kel looks about the room, at the beds, the table with the scattered remains of a card game splayed on the stained and becrumbed surface and the floor. He replies, “We have the bow, and the javelins, those flasks of acid. If we prepare the battlefield and Bori smiles upon us, that may be enough.”

Quickly they build a barricade from the table against the far opposite wall from the door with which to fire on entering foes, and use all of the other furniture to create obstacles to prevent any straight path to their flimsy cover. Wolfgar gathers up the javelin he can find, twisting the light spear from the spine of the hairy man’s corpse. He then tears a strip of ratty cloth from one of the old straw mattresses and uses the dirty cloth to tie the two acid flasks together. The older barbarian translates what he can understand of the orc being shouted beyond the door as commands to bash the door open, and then finally to destroy it. The last command is followed by a shout of alarm drowned out by another loud bang, this one muffled by the closed door.

When the tip of the tulwar appears as the door is getting hacked to bits, the duo take cover behind their overturned table, Kel knocking back an arrow, and Wolfgar crouched beside him with the bundle of acid flasks. The blade of the tulwar is making short work of the door, and in the missing shards of door Kel can see furious movement and exertion, he can feel the pull of emotion, the headlong fury of the warrior tryingto breakdown the door and slay all within, and the temptation to fury within his wounded body is great. Wolfgar says something, but Kel is no longer listening. He feels a prescence, and when he looks over his shoulder, a long hallway has appeared in the wall, seemingly sprung from nowhere. He feels called down that corridor, and so he goes.

It is not a long walk, and he finds himself in a before a pool in a great room with vaulted ceilings he cannot see in the dark. Only the pool and its surrounding are lit. On the edge of the pool a fair young woman sits. She beckons Kel closer, and he approaches, kneeling next to her as she offers him a seat.

“Kel, son of Harun, so brave and strong,” her lyrical voice floats like notes from a windchime, “do not be in such a hurry to fulfill your vengeance on the one who slew your family. The fate of that one approaches, and so he will live a while longer.” She places a beautiful glowing ivory hand over Kel’s big rough fingers. “Do not tempt the Spinners to change what has been written for you by tempting Death. There are greater things laid out before you than the justice you seek.”

Kel feels a hand grip his shoulder and when he turns to look, he is still before the barricade, Wolfgar angrily shaking him, says, “Get ready, you earsling! You won’t get a second chance!” as the door collapses under the final blow of the tulwar and the swordsman, the club wielding female and the crossbowman come into the room and the warren of bunks and chairs, each howling an oath for blood that requires no translation.

Kel looses his arrow as the twisted spawn rush through the shattered door, and sailing sharp and true, the head of the arrow punches deep in the leather clad shoulder of the tusked boar-man, followed by a spurt of dark blood and the pained cry of the beast, who staggers but does not fall. Wolfgar hurls the twin flasks of acid, hoping to hit as many of the beasts as he can with the corrosive liquid. His timing is perfect, and as the crossbowman charges across the threshold it’s met with the fragile skin of the flasks, and is bathed in their contents, splashing those around it with the caustic solution, including the beast with Kel’s arrow in his shoulder, who succumbs to the pain of this new affront and drops screaming to the ground.

Kel knocks another arrow and looses before his foes can respond, and this shaft pierces the heart of the crossbowman, who dies with a scream on his lips. Wolfgar tosses one of his javelins a the female degenerate, but his aim is wide, or this time fate had other plans, and the creature escapes harm.

The beast with the tulwar enters the fray, running along the paths created by the barbarians to funnel and confound their foes, but even still it is able to get up close to their barricade. The degenerate vaults the piled debris and swings her repurposed club at the weathered barbarian, connecting solidly with Wolfgar’s forehead. He crumples to the floor.

Seeing his friend fall overwhelms Kel’s self-control. His bow slips from numb fingers as he claws for his axe. Raising the gleaming edge above his head with a snarl, he attacks his foes. His hungry axe descends into the beast readying its tulwar, the keen axehead severing its head and upraised arm, the huge body and huge sword clatter to the ground in a spout of gore. Kel’s axe continues it’s murderous arc, such is his fury, biting deep into the flank of the rwisted female who downed his companion. The twisted woman howls in pain and fear, her resolve crumbling now that the simple beast is alone and badly hurt. She turns to flee, but Kel in his rage kicks over the table barricade and drives the head of his axe through the thick spine of the degenerate, knocking her prone.

Kel advances to where the degenerate is feebly attempting to crawl away. He raises and sandaled foot and stomps down on her head again and again until there is nothing but a bloody mashed mess.

(Please put your actions in the comments and I'll add to the narrative once those actions have been resolved. Out-of Character comments should be left in parenthesis, IC typed as normal.)

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