Fire & Blood

Dramatis Personae: Karth, Berrian, Gil (plus Gariena and Sauruki)
Source: “Temple of Eternal Flame” (Princes of the Apocalypse)

NB. This recap is brought to you by Karth (and edited by me).

Player Note: Now we were warned that this next section was above our level before we got into it … and our DM has done the odd TPK in the past. Karth in particular felt nervous as he seems to attract criticals from the DM’s dice, plus whenever there is a random chance of something bad happening, 75% of the time the dice roll the big bad orc.

After the valiant battle on the hill where the enemy was crushed and the brave heroes elected to strategically retire for some time, we decided to head back to look for allies. While we found Tasklar’s cousin, the rogue Gil, we lost our bard, who decided it was more important that he search for a cure before he turned into a werewolf. So the three of us and the two druids, Gariena and Sauruki (who seemed to be far too inexperienced), headed back to the hill. Given this was a week or so later, we were astounded to see the surrounding area blackened and burnt.

Before getting to the ruined tower, however, we heard the eerie sounds of baying hounds and over the hill came several hell hounds and their handler – one of the cultists, a genasi, whom we had fought on the hill. The battle itself went relatively well, though our druid allies were forced to retreat after some early bits. The fire-breathing hell hounds did little damage to me with my fire-resistant armor. We quickly overcame the enemy … as I stood over the genasi, someone shouted “Don’t kill her! She needs to be questioned!” I feigned temporary deafness – my anger at seeing my enemy once again surging through my veins – and I dashed her brains in before anyone could stop me.

Heading to the hill, we found the camps abandoned. The tower itself was nothing but a burned out shell. Gil put on his fancy magic slippers and walked up the wall, then threw down a rope for the rest of us. Making our way into the tower, we found a caved-in tunnel under the rubble piled up on the ground floor. I was not to be stopped so easily! We spent the next day or two hauling stones and rubble out while the elf watched.

Once the way was finally cleared, we found a tunnel descending into the darkness. We surprised ourselves by deciding to send the rogue ahead as a scout. Unused to this novelty, we spent some time discussing the mechanics of this unfamiliar task. In the end, the rogue turned himself invisible and snuck down the tunnel. A good thing he did, as first he found a guard post of hobgoblins and then, after heading down some steps, a strange room with two heavily armored warriors in it.

When Gil had returned to tell us what he had seen, we discussed options and then decided on a full frontal assault (well almost). Gil, still invisible, was to head down to the middle of the steps and wait to strike any guards that tried to escape, while I called upon the power of my dragonmark to disappear into the shadows, and with the grace of the wolf, I was still able to make it down to the guard post and strike their leader with surprise! The pathetic hobgoblins fell swiftly to our vicious attack.

Things took a turn for the worse when, midway through the battle, the armored soldiers decided to attack! Hearing Gil’s warning, I raced to his aid on the stairs … and was nearly stunned out of my wits as memories came flooding back. These soldiers with long flaming spears and fire in their hearts … they were there! They killed my people! But my rage was too great, and I did not hesitate, but brought the black blade of Tamaich to bear against them.

At this point, Berrian also decided to aid us. The soldiers were tough, and much to our surprise, they exploded in flames and twisted bits of metal when we struck their death blows!

The hall the soldiers had come from also had four big pillars that radiated intense heat. I was once again grateful for my armor. The others were more singed than I was after dashing through the room. Gil then scouted ahead again, using his bat familiar as an extra pair of eyes. Down the opposite hall, past some ancient dwarf statues, he found another guardroom occupied by ogres. Some were dressed in full plate armor! Taking one of the magical torches from the wall, we chose to leave that area alone and headed down the main wide passage leading towards an area that rang out with the sounds of the forge.

To the right, a set of stairs led up to a smoky guard room occupied by hobgoblins resting and cooking food over an open fire. To the left, a long corridor stretched away into darkness with heavy stone doors on either side. Straight ahead, a wide stone stairway led down to a huge forge and furnace area. Gil reported seeing lava flowing into the chamber! There were also fiery dwarves and giant fiery snakemen who appeared to be slaves, working away at the forges to make weapons while a huge red-skinned brute and some cultists drove them on.

Naturally, we attacked the weakest opposition first: the hobgoblins. They barely knew what hit them. Their captain had a nice wooden box with some potions in it. Some of the potions glowed like fire. The druids said they would make the drinker resistant to fire. Could come in handy for the others!

There were more rooms beyond, including one that was clearly the ogres’ room and another that opened onto a stone bridge over the river of lava, but we turned back and headed for the long hall that looked like a cell block of sorts. This turned out to be a mistake … we found two fire mages and two cult warriors who caused us a bit of trouble. One of them was able to hypnotize our druid companions, taking them out of the fight. The others used lots of fire magic on us. A little luck saved us, though, as the druids were able to break free at the last minute, and the weird swamp gnome paralyzed his attacker, allowing us to cut him down quite easily.

Definitely on our last legs, we headed off to lick our wounds and acknowledge how much tougher these creatures were than we are used to! My thirst for vengeance remains strong, however. I am hopeful that Tasklar will have found a cure so he can help us. Maybe the elf’s sister (?) will have come back from wherever she went, too. We could use her magic.

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