“And so, Zeb, who loved to fight, we give you to the bosom of the earth, which you loved so well…”
Hardly pausing for breath, the trio of triumphant orc killers followed the lusty lead of Zebidiah the Slammer of Moradin, down the great stairs of stone beneath Balean Nakt, now awash with orcish blood, and across the great natural cavern to wear an orange light reflected from out of an adjoining cavern. The heroes were met with a scene of carnage. A rough, uneven cavern spread about, broken by stone slopes and natural pillars, and strewn with the broken bodies of dwarves and orcs, now stiff with the stone weight of death. Beyond, a raging fire burned amidst the wreckage of a dwarven workshop, and there were silhouetted a party of raiders looting and feeding the fire and laughing at their prisoner, a soused dwarf, who grimly submitted to a huge, ogre-like orc who held the dwarf by his beard and dunked him repeatedly in a large vat.
Suntop, the Elven Archer quickly ducked into the shadows of the cavern and silently circled around, eying the detritus of what looked like a large distilling operation. Zebidiah “Z” Lamar, Soldier of the All-Father and Kara the Gladiator desperately searched to dwarven victims for survivors, but it was a fruitless search, and a reckless one, for of a sudden came a guttural hollar from an orc clad in the skins of a wolf, who’s burning eyes bore down on their position. He pointed to them with some strange demonical rattle and grunted in the primitive savage speech of the children of Danzig.
At first, some of the orcs were confused and looked at each other, but then the tall one, turned and saw as well. “Og!!” said this giant specimen of orcish-ness as he drew from over his shoulder a massive silver blade, curved and shaped with vicious sinuosity.
The knot of orcs jumped to attention now and fumbled with cigars and baubles at their belts. Then, as one, they tossed a fusillade of bottle-like objects at the dwarf and gladiator, which EXPLODED in a maelstrom of shrapnel and fire. The two warriors were tossed about and caught afire.
Then Og charged forward with his sword, and Kara stepped up to take the blow on his shield.
Suntop, meanwhile, crept down to a stockpile of large clay jugs, and finding one that smelled particularly pungent, lifted it and threw it at the bombadiers! But the jug was heavy, and his throw was short, shattering, and spreading liquid across the floor in front of the beastmen.
Now came the time of Zebidiah “Z” Lamar, Soldier of the All-Father, who, still burning, took a shot from a mystic vial he had found in the Hanging Tower of Morningfall Mountain, and ran forward to meet this explosive gang of marauders. He huffed and he puffed, and he blew out an immense gout of flame! The orcs were engulfed in a fiery tornado, which soon built upon itself as the explosive fuses about the belts of these maniacs also caught fire. It was a chain reaction that blew up in everyone’s face. Amidst the smoke the bombadiers fell and Zeb was staggered as the wolf headed shaman lunged upon him and grabbing him by the shoulders, gave him the evil eye! Zeb felt his very soul burned from him as he was smote by the mighty iniquity of DANZIG. And so Zebidiah the Slammer, Paladin of Moradin fell, in the caverns beneath Balean Nakt, his body a mere lifeless husk.
Lo! But how the mighty fall!
The surviving pair weree locked in desperate battle. With one fallen comrade, and the champion of Orcs hellbent on Kara’s destruction, Suntop felt quite vulnerable to foul curses of the Wolf Shaman another bomb throwing compatriot who appeared out of the shadows. The fight surged, and then help arrived! not from any newcomer to the room, but from the revived spirit of Magnus Magnusson, the poor dwarf who’s beard had been yanked and doused under the none too tender ministrations of the orcish invaders.
Perhaps it was Moradin who spoke in his ear, commanding vengeance for his fallen servant, or perhaps it was the voice of Ziggurd Moradinson, Patron Saint of Brewers, but Magnus leapt to his feet, and, grasping a nearby anvil hammer, leapt into the fray! Magnus layed about himself, dealing grievous blows to the hidebound shaman, who attacked him with his evil eye. This gave welcome respite to Suntop, whose arrows took their toll on the final bombadier, causing him to drop his lit fuse, and another explosion rocked the room! Og the Orog moved to support his spiritual advisor and put down the resilient dwarf, and made the fatal error of turning his back on a trained Gladiator. Kara followed his foe with hungry steel. Soon, all the orcs lay dead in this cave of carnage, and the heroes turned to mourn the fallen.
In the aftermath of the battle, Magnus told the surviving rescuers of how he had driven back the orc host and managed to trigger a cave in that slew many of them. However, his captors had spoken of a further, larger host mobilized from deep in the bowels of the earth, “and beyond”.
Whatever the case, it was imperative to shut off the approach. Magnus told of a natural labyrinth beyond the partially collapsed tunnel, a maze of twisting, treacherous caverns, which he himself had only navigated a handful of times.
It would be a difficult descent, but necessary, for below the maze was “The Springs of Moradin”, a place of great holiness wherein the hops were boiled were fermented by the benevolent power of Moradin’s forge. In these places the walls between worlds were thin, and so it had been in ancient times a conduit for the entrance of dark and evil things. Now the fool hardy dwarves had reopened the valves, but hardly had they brewed a single batch when this incursion had happened. “We must shut down the Springs!” said Magnus, and his new companions agreed.
The navigation of maze of Balean Nakt was an arduous task, requiring much luck, endurance and patience.
An encounter with a poisonous mushroom forest nearly turned them back, but eventually, they came out the other side.
Upon discovering the halls of the Springs of Moradin, the battle was joined, for not one but two sentries slept on duty. The first was slain instantly, but the second ran screaming for the entrance to the complex.
The heroes gave chase, and burst upon a large room misty with heated steam leaking from giant pipes. There was an angry band of orcs on the causeway and more swarming from all sides. Further, a strange hooded assassin joined the fray, tumbling about and striking with blades and arrows dipped in poison. This figure was revealed to be black bird-beaked man, “A Kenku!” cried Suntop.
The heroes fought through this knot even as their original quarry, the sentry continued to run, through a further set of doors. Then an explosion shook the roots of the earth, and black smoke leaked into the room. Bloody sworded, the defenders of Balean Nakt strode forward, into the smoke, to find themselves beset once again, but this time a cave troll left off its drinking of the holy hops of Moradin to wade into the scrum, its heavy handed claws flailing wildly, eventually picking up Magnus by his beard and sending him crashing into Kara. This beast had the vitality of stone in its veins, and it required all of Magnus’s prayers, Kara’s strong arm, and Suntop’s arrow to bring these beasts to bay.
Finally, it was over. The cave troll lay still with a smoking brand in its gullet, and as the smoke cleared from the altar of Moradin (revealing elaborate bas-relief murals depicting the battles of ancient dwarves to secure these holy springs, the great Waterworks that were used to harness the earth’s holy beer making potential, and, finally, encrypted beer recipes that Magnus resolved to study as scripture), the last three surviving kegs of hops were rescued, and the three weary warriors looked at each other and knew they needed rest.
- Loot: 6th Level!!! 30gp, bronze torc(50gp), Black Keys of the Kenku, Dirty Brown Bag of Tricks, strange silver claymore(Og’s sword), 3 kegs of tasty hops(priceless), vial of poison.