In which there are many explosions, ample rope use, extra planar foes, and an old friend breathes his last.
In this Episode
Mighty Dread is briefly stalled in his pursuit of the enemy by their release of a pair of dire wolves, though such foes cannot hope to hold back the Knights of Blackthorn for long. Sir Glenn Fiddich even goes so far as to casually assert that he has a terrific recipe for dog. The long, winding tunnel ends at a massive cavern, carved by the long years of flowing water. High platforms connected by sturdy hanging bridges form a winding path to the base of a vast pair of iron doors set into the wall of a cavern.
In this place waits a wizard and summoner of some repute. A man with grand designs, ambitions, and plans. For days he has been stymied by a seemingly incomprehensible riddle carved into the iron doors, and now he has interlopers to deal with. He orders his mercenaries to attack, then begins to summon animals from the pits of Hell to assault the intruders.
A pair of hideous giant wasps lead the charge, following by hellish, rage filled wolverines. Hired mercs fill the air with arrows, wearing our heroes down slowly but surely as they press forward against the tide of devilish animals. Dame Lagatha puts paid to one of the wasps as the combined efforts of Glenn and Dread send the wolverines back to hell. The enemy summoner uses this time to send a fireball streaking into the corridor where our heroes are clustered, and though the experienced knights escape largely unscathed, stoic Bragg catches the blast directly and struggles to keep his feet.
Perhaps thinking that a man with an eyepatch must act the part, Sir Glenn throws caution to the wind, vaulting from the platform to grapple the remaining giant wasp. Incredibly, this move succeeds despite being attempted by a man whose physical prowess rates somewhere between “hemophiliac” and “agoraphobic chess champion.” The wasp struggles to supports both its own improbable weight and that of the wizard and plummets for the ground, scrabbling against the cliff face for traction.
With the path clear, Dread, Lagatha, and Bragg charge for the hovering summoner, bullets and javelins flying. The summoner replies with one fiery spell after another, as his magical defenses serve to turn aside our heroes’ ranged assault.
Meanwhile, Glenn scrambles off the back of the infuriated wasp and up the cliff face before the beast crashes. Seeing his opportunity, he makes a beeline for his enemy counterpart, leaps into the air, and when he is close enough to see the whites of the summoner’s eyes, he detonates with an almighty ball of fire. Caught off guard, the summoner is nearly burnt to a crisp and one of his mercenary archers is completely incinerated.
Scrambling desperately to regain the upper hand, the summoner retreats back towards his last remaining troops and throws everything he has left at the knights of Blackthorn, but in the end it is not enough. The summoner dies, skewered by Lagatha’s sword, and the final mercenary surrenders. The day is won, but not without cost.
Laid low by eldritch fire, the orc brawler known only as Bragg died as he lived; following his friend Lagatha into the jaws of hell.
Our heroes took one look at the massive iron door, said “nope” and decided to build a camp fire and have a nap. The bards will likely skip over this incredibly boring interlude when the story is retold for future generations. Really sucks all the emotion out of the previous scene.
8 Hours Later
The iron door to the cavern beyond is no puzzle box (it was designed by followers of a war god, after all) and opens easily to any Ulfen-speaking explorer with a willingness to lay hands on it, rather that sit back and study it for days.
Beyond the iron door lies a mountain of scrap metal topped by a statue to Gorum. Before it stands an ancient servant of Gorum, an iron-plated, bear-like creature called a Zentragt, who has waited a small eternity for a worthy challenger. Combat is quickly joined, with Lagatha taking the lead against her god’s servant, while Dread and Glenn battle creatures brought forth from the scrap metal, who seem to exist only to make the fight equal.
Though both sides exchange blows that could crack a battleship’s hull, in the end the Knights of Blackthorn prove themselves worthy, and the Zentragt’s remains melt back into the collection of scrap metal, leaving behind a single token: a Zentragt Collar.
On the altar to Gorum two more prizes await, a ceremonial battle shield known as the Iron Mountain, and a glittering longsword that Lagatha takes no interest in. To her eyes it appears to be little more than scrap iron. Interested in this as he is in all things magical, Glenn takes the sword, and Dread offers to carry it.
Though our heroes return from the Gorum’s crumbling temple with new treasures, it’s clear that this was no bandit haul. Will the temples of Aroden or Milani hold the riches they seek? Or will they return home empty handed? Find out soon!