Thursday, December 27, 2018

Idalium Game 96: The Death of the Goblin King

Session date: Monday, April 9, 2018
Game date: Saturday, May 22, 210

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 7, hp 41, xp 70250/140000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 18996/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 7804/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 6814/8000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 5, hp 17, xp 16098/32000
Father Chase Pike, Cleric 3, hp 13, xp 3633/6000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 1355/4000
Jack, Thief 2, hp 8, xp 2015/2400

The party came together once again, with an eye to finally ridding the underworld of the Goblin King. Adrien purchased shortbows for herself and her retainer Jack, after several awkward combats in which she yet again realized she had forgotten to ever acquire one. Orin wrote out another Sleep scroll. Adrien fed Norman the giant weasel another serving of blood from her bruised and constantly bandaged hand.

They descended into the ruins of Idalium and made quick time to the second level, passing swiftly through the dungeon and into the caverns that led to the Goblin Palace. Curiously, the big double doors were unbarred, and the guardroom within seemed empty and still. The doors leading deeper into the palace stood open. The adventurers cautiously moved into the room and towards the inner doors. Suddenly, there was a whoosh of wind, and three small daggers clattered across the stone floor. A fourth dagger embedded itself in Jack's arm! Something in the air seemed to rush through the inner doors and down the hallway, an eerie tinkling of bells lingering after them.

Unsure of what had just ambushed them, Gulleck and Simon nervously led the party into the hall. The normally brightly-lit hallway was dark now, the torches in the wall sconces all cold. Caryatid lit a torch and began to light the wall torches as she passed them, in order to mark where they had been. Likewise, Gulleck drew forth a stick of chalk and began periodically marking the walls. When they got to the intersection with the large stuffed flightless bird (still pincushioned with arrows), Simon pulled out a ball of twine and tied one end to the bird and started unwinding the ball as they moved on. But Caryatid decided to really leave her mark on this intersection, and set the bird on fire. The dessicated stuffed bird quickly went up in flames, and acrid smoke filled the hall.

This triggered an immediate wandering monsters check, which came up as "yes" but turned out to be a small posse of intrepid dungeon urchins sneaking into the palace in search of their kidnapped friends. This was cause for some guilty grimaces from some of the players, as they've known about the abducted urchins for literally months and months but have never quite managed to do anything about it. But now Gulleck assured the urchins that the adventurers were taking care of it and this was no place for children and they would keep an eye out for their friends, and the adventurers hurriedly ushered the urchins back out the front door.

Returning to the hallway and the smoldering remains of the stuffed ostrich, the group made their way to an empty kitchen and beyond that to the great banquet hall where they had fought the big battle in the last session. The hall was now deserted, and a long sideboard table had been pushed up against the main entrance doors that they had come through last time. They pulled the table aside in case they needed to beat a hasty retreat, and then moved on, deeper into the palace. They came to a locked door, decided that the direct approach was the simplest, and Gulleck began to systematically swing her magical axe into the door. Wood splintered and split, and the thumps of the axe echoed through the halls. This drew the attention of a half dozen goblins, who came scurrying down the hall with rusty swords drawn but Orin cast his Sleep spell, and they all fell in a heap before they even made it to the adventurers.

Gulleck cleared enough of the door for the adventurers to step through into another hallway, and after a few turns they found themselves back at the still smoldering ostrich (which of course did not make any cartographic sense). They kicked open a door they hadn't been through yet, and suddenly again found themselves the target of small knives flew from somewhere above them. The same sinister tinkling of bells filled the air as several "somethings" flew above their heads and out the door. Gulleck followed the sound and was just able to make out a vague shimmer in the air like waves of heat in the summer, moving quickly down the hall into the darkness. Gulleck charged after the departing shimmers, followed by the rest of the party. The pursuit took them around several corners and eventually to a four way intersection, where they were attacked from multiple sides by four goblins and a hobgoblin, as well as the invisible flying beings, who dipped through the air and slashed at them with invisible daggers.

The battle went well enough at first, although Adrien managed to fumble her sword and drop it on the stone floor. Two of the goblins and the hobgoblin were killed, but then two bugbears ran in from the hall to the north and another five hobgoblins arrived from the east to reinforce the battle. And standing in a luxuriously appointed room behind them was the Goblin King himself, resplendent in a high-necked brocade doublet and tight leather breeches. He was idly spinning several small crystal balls between his fingers. Four more bugbears stood guard around him, and further back in the room were four more hobgoblins.

"Fear not, my subjects, your King stands with you!" he called, and the hobgoblins seemed emboldened and confident in their attack.

And then Caryatid cast Sleep and the last of the goblins and hobgoblins all passed out. One of the creatures in the air fell asleep, and as it fell to the floor it turned visible, revealing itself to be some sort of faerie, no more than a couple of feet high, with pointed ears and elfin features. The other faeries lost morale at this point and scattered down the hallways, the tinkling bells receding into the darkness.

The Goblin King's smirk turned to anger as his subjects slumped to the ground. He cast the crystal balls aside and drew his longsword, which burst into scintillating, multicolored light, casting moving prismatic patterns across the dungeon walls.

"He's got a disco sword!" gasped Adrien's player. "I want that!"

The actual fight was somewhat anti-climactic. (That's what happens when your players don't finish level 2 of the dungeon until many of the PCs are level 4 or above!) Orin cast his Sleep scroll, putting two of the bugbears and one of the hobgoblins to sleep. Caryatid cast Magic Missile and used the Big Green d30 to roll for damage. In rare cases like this I reserve the right to a Big Green d30 roll myself, and used it to win initiative, so that the Goblin King was at least able to dodge out of Caryatid's line of sight, forcing her to take out one of the other hobgoblins instead. But then Gulleck and Adrien stormed into the room and finished the Goblin King off in a single round.

The two surviving hobgoblins turned out to be Margleton and Clabberpus, the very first hobgoblins the adventurers had ever met. Margleton surrendered, offering to leave Idalium for good if their lives were spared.

"You know where the King kept his treasure?" asked Gulleck.

"Oh yes, it's just around the corner, in the vault."

"Is it locked? You got a key?" prompted Gulleck.

"Fine, you can have the treasure; it's little use to us now," said Clabberpus, tossing a large key to Gulleck.

"You had better be quick about it, though," advised Margleton. "The death of the Goblin King has surely caused a great magical disturbance. Who knows what you have unleashed by your reckless act?"

Gulleck made them swear that they would never again return to Idalium and then let them go. Margleton and Clabberpus smiled slyly, thanked them for their mercy, and with one last affected laugh, strolled arm in arm down a hallway to the south. (Exeunt stage left.)

The group turned their attention to the body of the Goblin King, but it was suddenly engulfed in a plume of thick green smoke, and when the air cleared the body was gone, leaving only the scintillating sword and a pile of clothes, including a necklace, behind. Adrien took the sword and Caryatid picked up the necklace, which held a polished moonstone within a gold pendant. Suddenly, the ground trembled and shook. Plaster crumbled from the ceiling.

"Uh oh, he was a load-bearing boss," quipped Gulleck's player.

They left the King's sitting room and headed up the northern hallway that several of the bugbears had come from. At the end of the hall was a very sturdy looking door with a large keyhole. Gulleck used the key from Clabberpus to unlock the heavy door, and pulled it open to reveal a small room containing several barrels brimming with gold and copper coins, in addition to several pieces of jewelry and artwork. The frame of the door seemed to twinkle with some strange magical light.

Gulleck noted the twinkling with some anxiety, but decided to risk it and stepped over the threshold into the vault. As she did, she felt an immensely powerful force that seemed to press in on her, but she crossed the threshold into the vault without mishap (dwarves have excellent saving throws!). She picked up a finely crafted cuckoo clock and a golden goblet and walked back to the rest of the party, feeling the same powerful magic but she resisted it as before.

Alarmed by this sensation, Gulleck went back to the intersection and grabbed one of the goblin corpses, dragging it back into the antechamber to the treasure vault. She picked it up and tossed it into the treasure vault, and as it passed the threshold of the doorway there was a flash and suddenly instead of the body of a goblin there was a small crystal ball like those the Goblin King had been juggling in his hand. The ball hit the ground and rolled into the far corner of the vault.

Meanwhile, Caryatid was examining the pendant with the moonstone that they had retrieved from the Goblin King's remains. There was writing inscribed around the perimeter of the pendant, that read "Down in the Underground". Gulleck spoke these words aloud, and the twinkling faded from the door frame. The group entered the vault and took inventory of the contents. There was a rather nice painting of the Goblin King. The frame was bulky, but Gulleck stripped the painting from the frame, loosely rolled it up, and tucked it in her backpack. Father Chase pulled on a flamboyant fur robe, and Caryatid was pleased to recover the gold and emerald belt that the Goblin King has once taken from her as tribute. There were five large barrels full of coins. It was judged that each barrel would need at least two people to roll it through the halls, so they rolled out three barrels and left two behind, planning to return later to retrieve them.

The tremors in the ground seemed to be increasing as they returned to the four way intersection, and more dust shook loose from the ceiling periodically. They made their way back to the entrance of the palace, using some now-familiar landmarks for navigation, and as they traveled they noticed a strange silvery mist starting to seep into the halls. Eventually it was as if they were walking through a cloud, although there was no dampness. Oddly, the mist almost seemed reflective. Finally they came to what they thought were the main doors of the Goblin Palace and they hurried through them.

The mist cleared, and the adventurers looked around in amazement, for they were outside and it was daylight. They were standing on an unusually well-manicured grassy lawn. The bluest of skies hung above them. Some distance away they could see what looked like an ornate garden full of neatly trimmed hedges and colorful flowers.

Clearly they had been magically transported following the death of the Goblin King, much as had happened when they had slain the Goblin Prince. But where and what was this place?

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