Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 71

Summary:
The Army of the Light encounter disorienting Slavic faerie creatures at the base of a mountain, ascend a narrow mountain path using druid plant growth to strengthen the vegetation and footing for the climb, and at the base of vertical cliffs during a storm take on a Slavic elemental dragon-being.

PC’s:
Arthur, Human Oathsworn 6 of Celestian
Balthazar, Elf (Mongrelman) Wizard 6 of Arcanus
Gimli
 “Rot Face”, Dwarf Berserker 6 of Odin
Gnoosh, Gnome Rogue 6/Illusionist 5 of Baravar Cloakshadow
Martin, Human Rogue 6 of Bacchus
Rosaline, Half-Elf (Elf lineage) Druid 6 of The Daghda
Zen, Human Monk 5 of St. Agathos
Kiaria, Human Seeker 5 of Bast
Belden, Gnome Bard 6 of Aengus

NPC:
Conwrick Pimkin, Hobbit Ranger of Brandobaris Fleetfoot

Game Diary:
The Army of the Light took a break from the Barrowmaze and traveled to the Moon Peaks in search of Cliff Plives, exotic vegetation that can turn leather – if properly treated – into the hardness of steel.

artwork by Jesper Ejsing

Their daylong journey from Irongaurd Motte to the Moon Peaks was uneventful…until night began to fall. Conwrick, the ranger, began setting up camp in the light rain that was falling under the setting sun. That was when the group heard a beautiful song drifting through the trees! Several people were entranced by the sound and headed toward it. Under cover of the setting sun and tree branches, the lone harpy was difficult to target, but those that weren’t entranced by her song darted off to the side and headed behind to try and avoid the branches providing cover so that they could flank her. A mighty blow struck her on a branch 10 feet up in the air, and when she hit the ground her neck snapped on a rock from the fall.

The group returned to camp to rest for the climb up the cliffs the following day to find the elusive cliff plives, but those on first watch saw between the branches of trees and briefly blocking out the stars the swooping down of two flying creatures – gargoyles! The group had had enough of them from the previous three adventures and once they woke everyone up the two were dispatched rather quickly, still, gargoyles have a lot of attacks and healing was needed.

art by Alexander Petrov

The next morning the group was guided by Conwrick to the base of the mountain. A narrow dirt and stone trail 3-5 feet wide crisscrossed up the mountain for 600 feet before they would reach a 600 foot straight up cliff to the next landing. As they were about to begin roping themselves together four faery creatures came out of the woods towards them. Two of them were dainty little feminine faeries 3 feet tall and smelling of flowers, the other two, who were males, looked like sinister corpses. They all apparently exuded an aura which disoriented and confused those near them, and several characters began aimlessly wandering in different directions. The two male faeries (known as Bluds to those versed in Slavic folklore) jumped on the backs of Balthazar and Zen and began rummaging through their backpacks. One blud grabbed a scroll from Balthazar, and the other grabbed from Zen’s backpack the severed animated Scandinavian troll head whose mouth functioned as a bag of holding. While this happened the two blud females smiled approvingly and spoke about the payment owed to from those who trespass into their territory.

The troll head was too heavy for the one blud and it fell on top of him and only his splayed legs stuck out underneath it as it hit the ground, the other blud handed the scroll to the female and she preparing to dart off into the woods at frightening faery speed. The blud disorientation power can be quite powerful (one can easily imagine why very few have ever made it to the cliff plives, for most who have gotten this close simply wander off for hours or days and either never make it, or are picked off by predators). The Army of Light, however, is made of different stuff, and enough avoided the faeries auras and smacked the little wee folk down and retrieved their items before they could escape.

The group could now proceed up the crisscrossing path. They had to ascend six narrow (3-5 foot wide) paths that varied between 30-60 degrees in inclination. Conwrick led the way by himself (his hobbit and ranger abilities ensured he could do this by without assistance), and the other nine characters tied themselves together into three groups of three (to catch one another if someone slipped and fell). There were several falls, but the other two characters always managed to pull the clumsy person back up. However, at roughly the halfway point Gimlie, Balthazar, and Arthur had an accident and there was about to be a devastating fall, but Arthur used a car from the Deck of Dirty Tricks to teleport to a previous location which was simply five feet away from where he slipped, and Balthazar cast levitate on himself and Gimli and they ascended to the top of the crisscrossing path where Conwrick was waiting for them smoking his ivory pipe.

Once at the top, Martin took out his Cyclops head acquired from the previous adventure that allowed him to see things 100x closer. He gazed up and could see a strange whirling vortex at the top of the 600 foot high cliff. Belden’s legend lore told him it was an Azdacha, an elemental dragon-being. It could produce devastating surges of cyclonic winds hurling all those in its path in multiple directions – very dangerous when you are 600 feet above the nearest ledge and more than 1,200 feet from the closest solid and steady ground!

Rosaline cast plant growth spells to strength the vegetation on the ledge and partway up the cliff to assist in future climbs upward. Rosaline was aware of the weather (cloudy and wet from rain), and used an ability that her god The Daghda gives her to predict the weather a week in advance. Taking into account the weather over the next couple of days to discover when it would rain, be cloudy, etc., the group chose to camp on the edge of the narrow trail and proceed up the following day. This also gave her the time to prepare more plant growth spells so that she could strengthen the vegetation on the cliffs to make it even easier to climb.

The next day she called lightning and with a special glass globe she possessed (with storm clouds swirling inside) she was able to enhance it. The already cloudy skies turned grayer, lightning began to flash and thunder rebounded off the cliffs. She was levitated up the cliff-face to get within range and with the guidance of Martin’s Cyclops head to pinpoint where the Azdacha was, she sent down strikes of lightning upon it! It only took two strikes and it was destroyed!

And that was where we left that session! I have to say that I was not expecting the Azdacha to go down so easily! But the creativity of the player who used the druid, as well as the players who made maximal use of their character’s class abilities and magic items was impressive (several characters have slippers of spider climbing, which should come in useful in the next session when they ascend the cliff and get ever closer to the cliff plives). All is going very well for them, but they have heard rumors that a witch or hag lives at the higher elevation, secluded, and tending to her exotic herb garden secure in her private domain. But they will all learn about that next week!