TOREN 2000 - Stories|
Lair of the Fire Lord
After our trials against the priest of Valankriis, we decided to head back to Ersel Keep, rumor tells of a crystalline door guarding the lost treasure of the notorious Fire Lord. The rumor was so common and widespread that even I had already heard it; the Fire Lord was a ruthless bandit king who terrorized the area 20 years ago, that is until a group of stalwart adventures put an end to his reign of terror. The group was unable to kill the Fire Lord and his followers, but they successfully entombed him beyond the Sapphire door. This would all be passable as local legend except that we recovered a crystalline key of singular design, perhaps the key to the lost treasure of the Fire Lord…|
So off we go to the fabled blue door traveling at a much more leisurely pace, confident that if the legend was true we held the only key to the Sapphire doors and the treasure beyond. Several days found us at the Osterhaus, an Inn less than a day travel form the legendary blue doors. There we met Jarl, the innkeeper who told us what he knew of the area. Apparently a couple of years earlier a dwarf named Winterbock came to the inn claiming that he was a member of the original group of adventures that had trapped the Fire Lord within the hillside. He told Jarl that 20 years ago the Fire Lord was peerless warrior, however twenty years under the hill would leave the worms wanting for flesh to pick from his bones, and that Winterbock would go claim the Fire Lords long lost treasure. The next day, Winterbock returned with wild tales of savage battle and how he confronted the Fire Lord himself and took from him a shield, in fact the very shield that now adorns the Osterhaus mantle above the fireplace… We pressed for answers, but Jarl had none, apparently moments after entering the Inn Winterbock keeled over dead, and if that were not mystery enough, Mick, his brother-in-law died shortly after hanging the shield on the mantle above the fireplace. We thanked Jarl and headed out the next day for the Blue door.
I stood before the massive blue gate, not really a door, but a seamless blue wall with a small keyhole, I placed the key in its hold and suddenly the wall split apart in jagged cracks and hot air wafted out onto the countryside. We set aside our apprehensions and entered the long sealed tomb, Mick's sun rod shedding far more light than any torch. The first room was large and contained three obvious exits, one to either side of the room leading down, and another opposite us leading up a set of stairs, nothing stirred, and the room was barren except for a large fire pit in the center of the room. We chose the stairway to the left and found ourselves in an empty circular room, the only other exit was an overlarge rat hole tunneled in the northern wall. I lit my lantern while Mick, the only one among us small enough to negotiate the tight corners, entered the warren. It was only a few minutes later when he returned to report seeing a strange sight. The tunnel, it appears, only went thirty feet before opening into another circular room, however this one contained what appeared to be veritable orchard of metallic fruit tree sculptures… Mick further explained that there was a creature there, what appeared to be a dwarven warrior except that its hair and beard were on fire. The creature appeared to be guarding a hallway to the east and did not notice Mick's stealthy approach.
We spent several minutes discussing what we should do about this unexpected development Arngrimnir did not seem to think these creatures were actually dwarves, and Zandor our party's most knowledgeable member seemed to agree. Zandor further suggested that the creatures were probably Azer, outsiders from the elemental plane of fire summoned to guard the Fire Lords treasure. After much debate it was decided that any creature under the Fire Lords service would be no friend of ours, communication would not be an option, not if we expected to stay alive and recover the Fire Lord's treasure. Arngrimnir devised a plan that required Mick to distract the creature so that he and I might take it by surprise, however the logistics of communicating the plan failed and finally Arngrimnir and I strode into the room side by side.
Not only had our plan failed, but Arngrimnir and I found ourselves engaged with not one, but also four of the burning beard dwarves. Arngrimnir seemed distracted and unable to fight effectively against the creatures that so closely resembled his brethren. My luck was not much better till Mick joined the fray drawing first blood. It was then that the tides of battle turned, if these things could bleed then they could be killed, and we began cutting them down one by one, even Daltree and Dylon joined in, soon we had defeated all our foes. Sadly the treasure that they guarded had been meager, a few berries crafted of gold. It seemed odd that these creatures would be guarding so little treasure, and I began to wonder if our decision to attack them had been made in haste. They did not seem to be guarding the treasure so much as guarding their own lives, but from what. We scoured the area and found several exits in the room just outside the orchard room, the room we passed through to get to the flaming beard dwarves. There was a stairway leading up but a crude wall of stone and mortar had been erected, to what end we could not tell. There was also a stairway leading down but a cave-in blocked passage there as well. But the most interesting item was another fire pit; this one contained a scrap of paper that gave us some clue to the fate of the bandits and the Fire Lord.
"… sealed us within, a score of us, with our sightless slaves and the burning dwarf servants. But we will have the last laugh. Even now our master brews a great potion, inspired by the great Flame Lord. With it, we will slumber long until the dwarves and sightless ones find a way past the magics of our enemies. Then the balm from the earthenware pots will be laid upon our brows, and we will rise again and set fire to the fools who sought to …"
It appears that the Azer's and the other servants were set to the task of digging out of this crypt while the Flame Lord and his companions slept a magical sleep till their task was completed. This answered many of our questions, but did not give us any information about the treasures we might find, but only gave vague reference to the dangers we might expect.
Cautiously, with Mick in the lead, it was a good thing, as he found tripwires hidden amongst the cobwebs, he was able to trace them to bells hanging in the alcoves… who might have placed the trap, and to what end still remained a mystery, however it caused us to be even more vigilant. We managed to get to the room beyond the stairway without setting off any of the traps along the way, what we found was a grisly sight. It appeared to have served as a barracks or mausoleum, stone slabs lined the walls, sized perfectly for a man, in fact ten men whose remains we found in a corner near yet another rat hole, only this was not rat hole. Even Daltree, the giant, could move comfortably through this tunnel. Arngrimnir, whose instincts are rarely wrong, sensed combat and chose to take the lead position through the crude tunnel work. We traveled only a short distance before another circular room opened before us, Arngrimnir could detect nothing in the darkness beyond and entered the room to investigate further. It was then that the creatures burst from their hiding places in the darkness. In an instant the large eyeless brutes had struck Arngrimnir no less than four times with their heavy stone axes. It happened so fast, yet I remember it as if time stood still, each axe blow, one after another, and yet the stout dwarf stood, even after the last axe blow landed he stepped forward raising his own axe before collapsing in a pool of his own blood and entrails. I surged forward rage overwhelming me, but caught myself, but Mick had been overwhelmed as well, and flew into the room using his size and agility to his advantage. It was too late to save my poor friend, Arngrimnir, however I could still avenge him, but only if I kept my wits about me and forced them to come to me to fight me one against one. This was my arena and I was at home, each that came died, one decisively deadly blow after another I saw Mick falter in the room beyond, but again the number of creatures ahead of me checked me. At last I was able to fight free of the passage, only a couple left, and Dylon was already at Mick's side administering his healing magics. Finally the battle was over, Mick had survived, thanks to Dylon, but Arngrimnir did not. The decision was made without a word, we would return to Ersel keep or wherever we had to go and have Arngrimnir returned from the dead, I had heard that such magics could be done for a price, that the spirit lingered in the body after death, we would see, and I prayed that we could afford the price.
We traveled for days on the verge of exhaustion, but eventually found a priest who could perform the miracle that we required. Arngrimnir was raised from the dead, but the ordeal took its toll on him. I curse myself for not driving harder perhaps if we had arrived sooner… Though my dwarven friend was revived and assures me that could still cleave in two with a single blow, the experience has taken it toll on him. It took its toll on all of us. I sought a mage to train me in the magical arts, the key to what I felt would be a keener advantage combat than the sharpest sword, however the only mage I could find would have my right arm, my first born, and my soul upon death, in exchange for the knowledge he held in secret. He offered a more reasonable price if I would search the land high and low for a lady friend of his. He suspected that she had run afoul of highwaymen operating in the area. I instead took to the practice field knowing that I could ill afford the time to search for his friend when the treasure of the Flame Lord awaited me. Our group gathered a couple of days later, none of us it appeared had been able to focus on the training we had done in preparation for our next journey, perhaps it was apprehension at the thought of our return the Fire Lord's lair after the recent death of Arngrimnir that cast a shadow of doubt on our own abilities.
We traveled and a more leisurely pace back to the Flame Lord's lair. Once we arrived Jarl assured us than none had come in our absence and he was pleased and astounded at Arngrimnir's recovery. We returned once again to the infernal tomb of the Fire Lord, this time we discovered that in our previous efforts we had either succeeded in destroying all the eyeless fiends or had driven them off for good, as there was no sign of them within the tomb. We spent several hours scouring the tunnels as well as the dressed rooms and found nothing of value, hopefully the treasure of the fire lord was secured beyond the crude stone and mortar wall or this entire expedition had been for naught. We set to the task, which was accomplished with ease when Mick produced a portable battering ram from his magical sack. Once we destroyed the barrier, heat poured out of the room almost unbearable. We paused briefly to allow the air to cool before entering, once within we found a man in black armor seated at throne worked of living stone. At first we assumed him dead, but that was not the case, Dylon determined that he was comatose. We took no chances and immediately bound him hand and foot. We searched the room thoroughly until we discovered a hidden door beyond the throne. This must be the treasure room, we readied ourselves and threw open the door… A blast of heat struck me like a physical blow, the room was a furnace, a large fire of magical origin burned in the center of the room, beyond it sat two large chests. Steeling myself against the heat I approached the leftmost chest and inserted the iron key that I recovered from the Fire Lords body. Suddenly flames danced around me, the fire in the pit had somehow magically animated and was flailing wildly about me, confused and bewildered I struck wildly with my sword, connecting with something. The creature was a spongy mass of gelatinous flaming goo, and where it struck it left a burning residue. The battle was fierce but soon we had broken its hold on its material body and it collapsed in smoldering ruin. With the elemental destroyed we set about the business of looting the Fire Lord's treasure, we found a good deal of riches and masterfully crafted hand and a half sword that Zandor indicated was magical in nature. As we gathered our wealth and prepared to depart, two small devilish creatures appeared, rising from the still smoldering remains of the elemental. They demanded the sword from us, but we instead gave these demonic allies of the Fire Lord some steel of our own. They were physically weak but wielded hellish fiery magics, and their infernal hides turned our blades, but with the magical aid of Daltree and Zandor we were able to destroy them, and escape the tomb of the Fire Lord.
We returned to the Osterhaus to rest and recuperate, Jarl was excited to see us and hear our tale, in fact so much so that he was willing to part with his cursed shield for pittance of gold, and the lost key to the blue gate. We also discovered a rune inscribed into the sword, though none of use could read it, Zandor used his magics to discern its meaning… "Fire". We decided that there must be great power behind the sword and resolved to find out how to use it. We still had the unconscious body of the Fire Lord but turned it over to the sheriff of Ersel Keep where he will receive his long overdue punishment. For now we head to Tathan to uncover the secret of our treasure, the "Fire" sword and possibly find new adventure.
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