And so, the noble band of Godfrey, having liberated the requisite diamond from its Dwarvish prison were unsurprised to discover that all of the mine’s clearly visible health and safety issues had suddenly become less…visible. This did not deter Colin (along with Link & Welby) from pocketing a few hefty lumps of ore – clearly his earlier jumping incident, weighed down by the not-terribly-hefty halfling did not intimidate him.
The escape party was led by Schmaull, who avoided a lightning strike with an athletic handspring, full-on assaulted a scythe and its associated gubbins, uncannily dodged a fireball and gracefully headbutted a wall, narrowly avoiding a long swinging blade. He then proceeded to teach the aforementioned weapon a lesson by punching it. Valerie cautiously accompanied him, as did Hrothgar, who generally dwarfed along in his solid, sensible and unassuming way.
Meanwhile, not far behind the vanguard of our intrepid escapees, Welby checked for a whole bunch of traps. The little fellow also showed that, though cool in in a crisis, under pressure he has a tendency to let the little things slip his mind (“Shit. I forgot my stone!”; “Can, erm, somebody bring my pack, please?”)
It was around this time that BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
Alana demonstrated agility and poise, expertly navigating a floor of spinning blades, along with Welby and Colin whose feet, it must be said, were somewhat tickled during the exercise. All was going well (BOOM aside) until Link took “a bit of a scrape” and then fell squarely onto a spike; but he needn’t have feared – can one fear whilst unconscious and bleeding out?- as he was swiftly and deftly hauled out and stabilised by his kind compatriots.
As our adventurers made good their splashy exit (who leaves a capstan on? Seriously, guys!) a distant, eerie and, frankly, unnerving noise echoed along the disused corridor to the west beyond the cave-in that our sensible fellow-hood had chosen not to explore. The massive wedge of Godfrey-followers emerged into the afternoon sunshine, wringing the water from their breeches and shaking the droplets from their hair, congratulating Alana on her incredible agility and acrobatic skills; at that moment they noticed, not too far to the west, the intimidating figures of a female humanoid, clad in mail armour, a gentleman in plate mail and five shadowy forms behind them, guarding horses.
Thanks to the lepid blandishments of the smallest member of the party, these folk revealed themselves to be part of the Order of St Cuthbert – a party known as the Hammers of Retribution (not much party when they’re around, then). The priestess Jo’dorell did most of the taking, while the heavily-plated Sir Benjamin looked on in an apparent grumpy silence.
Discussion with this largely moral, if slightly insane, crew provided useful information: they were investigating the actions of the minions of Orcus (a demi-god of the underworld) and stated that a variety of ill-omened occurrences had been, well, occurring. These included orc raids on coastal towns to the north, similar threats against the Dwarves and more instances of undead than are seemly or, indeed, usual.
Armed with this information, our noble band of intrepid Godfrey-botherers returned to Fairhill, delivered the diamond to Shandril and, on her advice, rushed to magistrate Arlen’s home. A distinct taint of misery enfolded the house and it quickly became apparent, through the gentle questioning of Valerie (and the less gentle remarks on orphans of others) that, two days prior to the return of our heroes, Arlen had found a note pinned to his door by a dagger, detailing the abduction of his twelve-year old daughter, Sirya, a slight, blonde girl with a taste for adventuring. The instructions were clear. Having left Arlen with his head in his hands, the bulging coin-purse of rewards – which our charitable fellows donated to Fairhill – laying uncared for on the table and his wife wringing her hands and biting her tongue as she ushered them out, the noble band made preparations for the two-hour ride to the appointed rendez-vous point. The adventurers visited the market and the jovial-yet-spiky Kath, cleric of Cord, stashed their hard-won gains from the mine at their lodgings and rode out.
The group drew up in front of a plain, alerted to caution by the sight of a massive, well-oiled, humanoid figure holding the largest great-axe some of our travellers had ever seen. Behind him, in the tree-line, those sharp-sighted enough could make out the insubstantial form of the twelve-year-old, bound to a tree. When Colin’s bellows received no answer, the rescue party fanned out and began their approach. The oleaginous warrior facing them accused them of “despoiling her” and challenged Valerie to single combat. After a rousing round of trash talk (pretty one-sided, it has to be said) the final words before combat were uttered:
“You wanna know if I’m ready; are you?”
Thanks to Georgia for putting together this excellent write-up.