Adventurers have a habit of going into dangerous places. Places that perhaps they would be better off not exploring. But sometimes venturing into these dangerous places can uncover growing threats, sweet loot or just a heart stopping, rip-roaring epic of an adventure.
A small group of us went out on an extra night site to brave the Pit of Dun Mhurdo and do a spot of treasure hunting, finding more than what they had bargained for.
Thank you Newcastle for pulling out all the stops and giving us such a mission. We owe you one!
Defender Tungdil has long wished to return to the halls of Hal Dun Mhurdo and venture into the Pit under what used to be known as the Golden Mountain of the Dwarves. Long ago a dragon took up residence in the pit, collecting the treasure and wealth of the dwarves into its clutches. Since that time the Golden Mountain has fallen and become the Pit, where no sane person would go, and all manner of horrors have found their way into it’s tunnels and halls. Dark things dwell down there, and dark matters are conducted unseen. The dragon jealously guards it treasure, sending forth it’s minions to gather up any wealth that catches its attention. And then there are the exiles, the banished, the lost …
The Underking of Dun Mhurdo is dying, and seeks to leave behind a legacy for the future. He seeks to make right wrongs he has done and with adventurers arriving at his gate, having paid access to the Pit for a spot of treasure hunting and giving the dragon several rude gestures (much to Brigit’s displeasure), are tasked by the Underking’s seneschal to escort a Clerk and a message down into the Pit, and seek out two Houses who had been exiled en-mass from the actions of their Heads. The pardon they bore – a stone tablet – would permit one of these houses release from the Pit, though not their Heads who are still disgraced, but only if the adventurers deemed them worthy of this honour.
The adventurers who travelled into the Pit with this precious document and at Tungdil’s request were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Treewalker and Ranger Conchobar, members of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry and the Scouts Guild;
- Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment;
- Defender Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda; High Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa, Chaplain to the Griffin Order;
Accompanied by Eggy, a clerk, they trekked through the tunnels to the cages that drop over the lip of the Pit down into it’s dark recesses. They were small contraptions, only able to fit 2 people at a time, and the long way down felt an eternity. The cages went down, then were hauled back up, and again they dropped with two more standing inside. Tungdil and Wulfric went first, to form a bastion from which to start out from in case anything heard the clanking of the chains and came to investigate. Brigit and Fortescue went next, Brigit gripping her sword with some determination as they dropped into the darkness, before Conchobar and Eggy brought up the rear. Their passage had not gone unnoticed and from the darkness came the sounds of grunting and snuffling – the Groby.
Groby are foulspawn that have lived their life in the harsh environs of the Pit. They are tougher, used to the dark spaces, and slink and steel through the tunnels as if they were in open countryside. A small scouting group had come at the sounds of the chains, and attacked the company. Brigit took a close look at one nearby, unable to tell what it was, but noted the leathery skin and snubbed nose that reminded her of the Orcs and Goblins on the surface. The Dwarves called them Groby, she was not about to correct them. They made their way through the tunnel, checking for pitfalls and rockslides as they went, disturbed more Groby and found a group of exiled dwarves that had recently arrived in the company of a human who had paid to come into the Pit. Tungdil had words with them as the rest of the company held a narrow bridge across the darkness from the seemingly unending Groby that had come at the sound of people and the calls of their dying brethren.
A dwarf from the Arkendak family found them and told them of the Wayhouse they family had further along the tunnels, and that the other side of the river was dangerous. But he did not stay long with them and vanished. Confused the adventurers pressed on, turned the corner and found themselves facing a clump of Groby led by some horror. As they backed up, Brigit was cut down and the creature tore a bloody swathe through the party. Outnumbered, Tungdil was able to drive the creatures back with shouts and threats as Wulfric dashed round the fallen, stabilised the bleeding and patched up Eggy who lay crumpled by the wall. Through swift wit and fearless cunning no one died, but shields were cleaved and the party were shaken. Things down here were dangerous!
Fortescue fixed a shield with magic and they continued on towards the Wayhouse. They slid across a glassed floor guarded by an automata that had been caught in a lava flow, and took the branch of the tunnel down towards the sound of water and found the House of Arkendak. Inside were puzzles and revels and the Head of the House who would not meet with any unless they came unarmed and swore they had not stolen from his treasure store. Brigit let others go ahead, tending to some minor hurts, and walked away from a foolish “game” that involved trying to get a big gem out of a tube – quoting the tale of the foolish squirrel, sure that the closed fist around the gem would cause the person to choose between their greed or their freedom. When she was called before the Head of the house she saw the heraldry adorning the tabard of his son – the golden sun that they had seen elsewhere on the surface. Tungdil quickly filled her in on what information he had so far, and then continued with his negotiations for aid and information. For some pieces of information, the adventurers learnt how to defeat the Minotaur that had kicked their arses back in the tunnels; the location of Groby brewing some foul elixars; and the other Dwarven House that was potentially worthy of the pardon. But at the description of the dwarves toiling before the furnaces, all blackened and scorched and the change of house name to that of Forge, Brigit became agitated – demons, demons!
Deciding to investigate the adventurers accepted a vial of alchemy and a runic stone, and planned the trap they would set upon the advice of the Arkendak. The scouts would back track through the tunnels, cross the river by hidden stones and enter into the creature’s lair through a narrow crack. The Minotaur was reknowned for toasting his victories that day from one of his many collections of goblets, drinking from a different goblet each day amongst his host of lackeys. Out he would go a hunting, returning to drench his thirst, then off for more hunting. His bellow sustained him and commanded his minions – silence the roar and the creature would be a fair adversary. With the potion of dumb clutched in their hands the scouts were to watch to see the cup from which he supped, dose the cup when he left, then await his return to witness him drink the cup of drugged wine. Then the others would attack him as he raged at the loss of his voice and see if they could slay the monster before it threatened any more down there in the dark. Four of the five of the company were eyeing the creature as a prize, Brigit just wanted to make sure everyone got home safe …
And so the scouts trekked through the dark to creep unseen into the lair of the beast. The others secreted themselves the darkness to wait and watch, hearts hammering in their breast. Many times the creature came forth from its lair and went on the prowl and the three remaining began to wonder if their scouts were dying down in some cave. But, nearly killing them with his stealthy approach and surprise, Wulfric was at their shoulders telling them that it was done, and the company waited with baited breath. The creature appeared, raging silently, and the company pounced. Brigit was battered and lay bleeding as the others harried the Minotaur back and forth, beating it into the ground to then touch it with the runestone to prevent the onset of rot. A blacksmith would be able to skin the beast in time, but right now the creature would be safe from any other mischief and could be stashed nearby to be collected later. Wulfric and Conchobar told the others what had happened – how they had found the cave and how they had nearly broken their bones stepping off the ledge, the potion vial flying from Wulfric’s hand to land in the darkness of the cave floor. They had had to hide before finding the potion as the beast returned, then locate the potion, then wait for the creature to quench its thirst a second time, then waiting again to be sure of the cup, then dosed the cup and fled back the way they had come. Grateful to be alive the company of five shared a nervous laugh before Tungdil grumbled at them all for letting folk lie dying whilst they’d been stood around looking for the runestone, and took those who sought treasure into the lair of the beast. Brigit waited outside, unwilling to risk the steps in her wobbly state, and to guard their backs – because there was movement out in the darkness.
They were ambushed by Groby as they made their way back to the main tunnels and continued down to the mechanical bridge over the lava. This bridge had once opened and closed to keep the creatures of the deeper tunnels from coming up, but it had rusted half closed with a wide gap to vault. On the other side were Groby, just out of reach and generally a nuisance. Several of the company had the same idea and backed up a little way. With a yell Brigit and Wulfric jumped the gap to cut through the Groby, followed by Tungdil and Fortescue, with Conchobar watching their rear. After blessing weapons and making a few preparations, Brigit expressed her serious concern that House “Forge” was going to be involved somehow with the demonic dwarves she had fought before in Cathay. She tried to recall what the Demonologists had called them, but was unable to quite name them, but she warned them of the magics they entailed. If a demon house had a foothold down in the Pit she wanted to root them out, and the others in the company agreed wholeheartedly.
Up ahead they met an elderly member of the Church of Crowa, Father Val, who was seeking an honourable death. On the long walk he had sought worthy foes, but was still standing. Brigit, moved by his wish for an honourable end, offered him this right – but did not bind her fellows into any promises to let her die. She matched his strength with her own, facing his two handed blade with shield and sword. They circled each other, but for all the strikes Brigit struck he did not seem to fall to a mortal blow. He went to his knees again and again, angrily rousing and relaunching the attack as she stayed her hand against a defenceless and seemingly unconscious foe. Beginning to suspect that he was more than a Crowan, Brigit braced herself for some falsehood or trick. She did not expect what he did next though. Down he went, bleeding surely from the body, but after a moment he roused and stood up. Raising his hands the dwarf called out to Lady Crowa for her aid in his final battle and Brigit’s heart skipped a beat. Horrified she was driven back several paces until a rage came upon her – how dare this dwarf, seeking an honourable end, enact their Lady’s greatest grace as if she was some vile creature like the Primate of Krygan or Dark Elf filth! Drawing her blessed bastard sword she spat and raged, cursing the Father of Crowa and giving him the duel he clearly wished for. Her strength ebbing she parried, cut, thrust and beat him back a number of paces until she brought him to his knees. Checking he was dead she turned him over with her boot and let the others of her company pick through his pockets – he had said they could take of his belongings upon his death. Angry, weeping, Brigit knelt in prayer to Lady Crowa to quell her rage, and took up the holy symbol from around his neck.
They continued on and met a number of dwarves with charred and blackened skin, some nothing more than shells for demons, all of whom demanded their weapons for the Forge. Brigit’s anger had surfaced and her rage simmered as the company picked their way towards the forge itself. Wulfric nearly plummeted through a weakened panel on a bridge across the lava and the company were nearly crushed by a series of boulders that seemed to act as some form of defence for the furnace workings, but at last the company crested the hill and felt the heat from the forge wash over them. They cut through a number of dwarves that attacked them and Tungdil and Brigit attempted to approach the passage that led behind the furnace, but were forced back as Tungdil’s armour soon began to cook him. And so Brigit and Fortescue walked on alone into the belly of the beast. Brigit could feel the heat of the furnace on her skin, the heat gathering in the weapons on her hip and in the sword in her hand and the holy symbols at her throat. She exhaled hot breath, inhaling burning wisps of air that threatened to seer her throat, but still Fortescue and she pressed on.
Arrayed before them were a number of dwarves and a dwarf-like figure. The Head of the House demanded to know why they were there and Brigit was honest, giving the Shardan filth a piece of her mind in an attempt to rile up the dwarves enough to get them to attack. She insulted them, called question on their honour, called them all manner of names, questioned their motives (learning of their wish to conquer the Pit and Dun Mhurdo itself) and at last the dwarven allies of the demon asked to be rid of her. The Head of the House ordered them to attack, Fortescue managed to damage the automata before haring back up the passage and Brigit fended off a few of the dwarves with her enchanted blade. But the demon masquerading as Head of the dwarven House Forge heated her blade and she was forced to drop it before landing a blow across its body. She bound up her wounded leg and doused the blade with holy water until it was cool enough to bear touching. A dwarf came back, hoping to take the sword from her dead body and was met with a surprise and 6 inches of steel. She swept through the back of the demon’s allies as Tungdil and Wulfric hammered at the Head of the House and killed it. Tungdil, stripped from his armour earlier to go to Brigit and Fortescue’s aid, headed round the back and took what treasure they could find, before bagging it all up and preparing to run.
For the dragonkin were coming.
Unsurprisingly they were met by a trio of dragonkin seeking tribute for their master. Tungdil gave them verbally a rude gesture to take back to their master and they attacked (surprise surprise). The party were beaten black and blue, but survived, and hurried back to the tunnel from whence they came.
They were harried as they ran, Brigit taking up the rear to give them a chance to escape and was cut down. The party did not abandon her though, giving all they had to get back to her, kill the dragonkin picking over her body, and get her up. They ran through the darkness, running for their lives, with the company watching the shadows for more minions of the Dragon. From the depths of the Pit came a disgruntled roar as they made it back to the cage where the Arkendaks were waiting with the minotaur safely stowed aboard the cage, waiting for their pardon and the return to the surface.
Brigit worries the harm they have done, letting a greedy Dwarven House rise once more to the surface, particularly since the news of the Underking’s sickening state is not widely known. Who knows the shift in the balance of power that is likely to follow – all they can do is watch and wait, and make amends if their choice of the lesser of two evils turns out to be the wrong choice. But only time will tell …