Monday, 10 March 2008

Barbigazl: Part Three

Barbigazl : The Doors to Barbigazl [by Peter A. Image is of Hurin!]

Having reached the upper slopes of Redbeak, and with the sounds of battle distantly echoing in the valley below them, the party stops at the site of some snow caves. A blizzard is developing, and slather is the order of the day. Within the stony chambers are frost-glazed sarcophagi and the freeze-dried and wizened remains of same great warriors. Wise to the likelihood of the undead lying about, they draw their weapons. Assuredly chill un-life flickers in the orbits of the half-dead, and the great Snow Mummies rise from their icy graves with chill blades swinging. A cautionary attempt at turning the fiends comes to naught, but the party is wise enough to use fire and enchanted weapons. Argon employs a Ring of Undead Control, and the doubly-frozen Mummies are soon incinerated. Within their sarcophagi is the semi conscious form of a Cleric, who once awoken announces himself as Lotus Esprit, a friend of and to Thaddeus. Hotly sworn in by Hurin's scald, Lotus becomes one of the party. [This is me, folks! taking on a previously developed character, but as far as I recall, Lotus never swore the oath. - JE]

Lotus is known to be many things – a fortune hunter, a charmer of men and women, and a holy man. He once rode a wyvern he called Testa Rossa – the fiery headed one, and follows a religion that venerates serpentkind as a force of divine nature. His studies have brought him to Redbeak where, he has heard, a great dragon once lived but disappeared long ago. Seemingly its secret is known to only one man by the name of Farer Nohan – it is he whom Lotus has been looking for. Hurin listens to his story with great interest, but says nothing.

Beyond the tombs are the doors of Barbigazl, bearing the owl symbol – the mark of Hrothgar and now Hurin. Naturally protected by magic, it is the work of moments for resident brainiac Kogaun to solve the riddle [Erm, nope. It was a 'say the right word' puzzle, and it was (eventually) Lotus who got the right word. - JE] and allow the party passage into the chambers of the Dwarves. From there the going is slow; with echoing footfalls in the dark Hurin's retaining slowly tread the flags of their forebears. Elated at their discovery but fatigued from the climb, they elect to rest the night in the halls of Hurin's ancestors.

Resting to regain their strength, the party is joined in the following hours by half a dozen Dwarves, the remainders of Hurin's ordered stand against the Hobgoblins of Redbeak. With an account of the battle given and some rest gained for the weary, the retinue continues into Barbigazl. Their passageway divides into two paths, narrow and low to repel larger invaders. Opening into a pillared chamber their footfalls soon arouse the attention of smaller enemies, and before long they are besieged by the darts of Goblins; Hobgoblins are with them, and from out of the dark huge Bugbears thunder, each swinging long heavy weapons. A perilous battle is wrought, and Hurin's Dwarves suffer further blows. Some Goblins flee into the dark ahead, and our heroes are left in little doubt that their presence has been betrayed.

Continuing on with caution, the party ventures further down until the passage opens into a high chasm. From the floor to its arched vault are the black eyes of windows, uninhabited homes, doubtless of the Dwarven workers who once toiled there. Light glimmers from an adjoining passage way, and the heroes follow it to find a huge cavern, its depths disappearing into darkness, and cold sunlight breaching its upper roof. In the middle and beyond reach stands an octagonal pillar of stone, broad and filleted, with pillars forming an open theatre and faced on every side by those same blind windows. Hurin announces that this is the Chamber of Kings, but there is no bridge to the centre, and none of the party dare make the journey across, lest they draw the fire of unseen spies.

The heroes stand for a while, taking in the specatacle of Dwarfkind’s last lost kingdom. From across the chamber comes the noise of muted talking, and the party douse their torches. On the other side of the chasm a group has gathered, a party of small size, but indistinct, too hard for even demihuman ears to define. Slipping into the dark the heroes strain their ears to hear what language is spoken, but none can be identified.

Retiring to the village their path is cut off by a huger beast - an ogre-sized Goblin Hurin's men call a Gark – it roars loudly, swinging a mighty chain as it lumbers to them. Peppering the hulk with arrows the party struggles to gain ground, while the Gark, with poorer aim, does his best to fend them off. After a few good swings the game is up, and the Gark, too stupid to yield ground for survival, roars in rage and thunders toward the party, chain swinging. But Balinor is waiting with his trusted spear, and in a heroic stand impales the beast as it crushes down upon him.

Balinor, it is noted, still has his attendant bee. Suspicious and seizing the moment, Alric catches the creature and traps it in a spare vial. Using his spell ability to speak with the creature, he works out who it is following them. The bee answers that she works for ‘the master in yellow’, who the heroes deduct, after some reasoning, to be Yellowjacket the Gnome beeherd. Replacing the stopper in the vial Alric muses on this new piece of information.

Taking a moment Hurin tells the saga of Barbigazl – or rather, the brief fragments he knows of it. He is descended from Harga, whose name appears in the lay of Barbigazl, a turgid account of the fall of the Dwarven kingdom. Despite this the lay is of the last king of Barbigazl – whose own name is lost, and Harga’s is but a brief mention amid a tale of stolen treasure – the egg of a Snow Drake the king stole to please his queen. Swearing revenge for the loss of its young, Flast the dragon sought out the king’s home and smote the guards without, bringing a greater and further destruction that Hurin claims removed the memory of Barbigazl from the world until now. Hurin states his lineage from Hrothgar and none of his restless heroes dare challenge him.

Continuing through the Dwarven village the party hear the noise of approaching feet. Bracing themselves for encounter they slow down, rounding a corner into the town square, and face to face with stout bearded men, armed and wizened. But these are no Dwarves in their path, but Gnomes. Taken by surprise the PCs pause, composing a gesture of greeting; in the silence Hurin grates an order - 'Kill them', and his troops move to obey without question, drawing weapons with murderous intent toward the Gnomes.



Peter A said...

I'm really appreciating these memory jogs, guys - MrM and his fiery yurt story (whihc I now recall as being a mysterious arrow fired from the top of the waterfall - no doubt the Hobgoblins); Paul recalled to me over the weekend Balinor rushing those same Hobgoblins once it became clear that hemmed on the shore the PCs were just as vulnerable, and now jamas with Lotus' not swearing in. It's true that he didn't, and of course it's significant in the next part of the story!

Anonymous said...

Basically, the party were stuck on a small beach on the edge of the tarn and were still being peppered with arrows. Realising that if they stayed where they were they would die; Balinor grasped his axe tighter and charged the Hobgoblins.