Session 7 covers both the seventh and eighth meetings because sometimes people take forever to make decisions.
The party has left Joris’ and has ventured out into the city to restock supplies and handle their business. While out and about, a man approaches the group and says his employer has work for them. If they are interested, a man named Art can be found in south Britain who runs a private museum.
Wanting to see what he has to offer, the group makes their way to Art’s mansion. Once inside, the small and very friendly man tells them of a golden skull found in the depths of Despise that he would like retrieved, the Skull of Greed. As he keeps his focus on the group’s cleric, Art explains that it is the skull of an ancient dread lord who has long since been dead. The skull is held by a shape-shifting ratman known as Barracoon the Piper. Barracoon can transform into both a human and small rat. He uses a piccolo to control his horde of ratmen and dire rats, while also lulling the senses of those nearby. A fee of 25,000 gold is offered and the group accepts.
They promptly head out on a two day ride before arriving and camping outside the entrance for the night. The next morning they proceed in, heading down a set of stairs. They almost immediately encounter a number of earth elementals, however they are easily dispatched. Once the first level is cleared, a second set of stairs is found. They head downwards and at the bottom immediately finds themselves in a large cavern.
As they peer out, they spot what appears to be a small peninsula surrounded by a horseshoe moat. Sitting in the middle is a chest. Curious about its contents, the group begins to make their way into the cavern, but is quickly met by a gargantuan ogre lord and a fight ensues. One of the party members decides to slip off to check out the chest during the battle and ends up drawing the attention of an acid elemental on the far side of the moat.
After a long and tough fought battle pinned between the two, the party prevails. They then make their way to the chest and manage to smash the lock on it, revealing an amulet. Being late in the day, the party decides to make camp. During watch another ogre lord makes its way close to the group, unaware of its presence. The party makes the decision to head back upstairs and sleep there for the night. Once upstairs the party members are back asleep but are soon woken by a scraping sound outside the room they occupy. A large earth elemental appears from around the corner, but rather than fight it they decide to head back down the stairs. Back in the cavern, they keep close to the wall and head a ways out to sleep once more before the next day.
Finally refreshed, the group makes their way around the cavern for about 2 hours before reaching a long narrow corridor towards the back. They opt to follow it, traveling for a good 5 hours before being confronted with a fork. The group chooses to go right and soon after begins to notice small rats along the corridor. Sensing they must be close, the group readies for battle. Soon they reach a room filled with ratmen and dire rats.
The group decides to cast a spell to slow the movement of everything towards the front of the room and then files in. A battle ensues, however every time after they kill a few enemies, more appear behind them. It is not until the group moves further in and discovers Barracoon among the other ratmen, engaging him in battle, before the ratmen and dire rats stop appearing behind them.
While some choose to take on the various enemies in the room, Barracoon transforms into a human and begins to battle with the monk and barbarian. The entire group is assaulted by both the various monsters, and the music played by the piper. At one point Barracoon turns his picolo into a massive war hammer and deals significant damage to the barbarian.
There is a glowing stone alter in the middle of the room, which the barbarian suspects is giving power to Barracoon. He swings mightily at it and his great axe shatters.
The battle is a long slog and no matter how much damage they deal to Barracoon, he just keeps coming. At one point Barracoon is successfully able to turn the barbarian against his party members and must be knocked unconscious in order to stop him. Soon the entire party is ignoring the remaining ratmen and dire rats to focus on the piper. Low on health, some of the party members retreat to heal and take out the rest of the foes in the room.
After the final ratman falls, Barracoon is greatly weakened and finally slain. The glowing alter in the middle of the room goes dark. Afterwards the ranger digs through Barracoon’s body and finds the skull, among a few other items of interest. The party then makes camp in the room for the night before heading back to Britain the next day.
On their way back through the woods, they come across a group of heavily armed and armored men who has another man on the ground. The monk goes up to investigate and is seen by the group of men. They ask him his business and he replies that he and his party are just passing through. The monk then inquires about the man knelt down on the ground.
The leader of the group introduces himself as the captain of the guard for a lord in the town of Cove, and that the kneeling man is a thief who stole a family heirloom, a magical dagger. He then grows suspicious of the monk, smashes the thief in the heading, knocking him unconscious and tells the monk to put his hands up. As the captain steps towards the monk, the monk decides to make the first strike and greatly stuns the captain.
The rest of the party runs up and a melee ensues.
All die save for two who are barely hanging on. The party debates what to do with them. Some want to leave them be, others want to take their belongings and have them walk away. During the debate the barbarian decides to take matters into his own hands, quickly killing the two as they lie on the ground.
They then question the thief, who introduces himself as Himos. They ask if he stole the dagger and he says they have the wrong guy. A search of him and his belongings turns up nothing.
The group decides the bodies must be burned and will take their armor and swords. The day passes and night falls. During the night the group is surrounded by a band of orcs who begin pounding them with arrows. They manage to make a getaway on their horses and ride hard for the better part of a night before finally making camp again.
The next day they wake and ride for Britain. Along the way they see a wisp from a distance, floating through the forest. The ranger recognizes the magical creature and says that it is not evil, but does attack those who are evil. The barbarian becomes concerned, reflecting on his actions the day before. They decide to travel around the wisp, later making it back to town.
They arrive at Art’s museum to turn over the skulls and collect their gold, however the Ranger has a tough time handing the skull over, something within him does not want to give it up, but eventually he relents. The group is paid and goes on their way to sell the armor and weapons, which contain the maker’s mark of the smith who serves the Lord of Cove.
To be continued…