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Completed From the Barren Lands (Tolkien CYOA)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by MercantileInterest, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    Raise the camp and calmly address the men to wait by the fires with weapons ready
     
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  2. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
    Maedoc wavered between the door and the camp. Carney could not have gone too far inside. He could easily pull the man out. The black hole stretched wider in his eyes. He backed towards the tents, not turning his eyes from the yawning darkness. A snag caught his foot and tripped him onto the ground. He rolled up and sprinted back.

    "Get up, Mull." He shook his friend. "Carney just entered the tomb. Didn't even hear when I called out for him to stop."

    "Eh, what?" The rhysmun rubbed his chin. "The sentries didn't catch him?"

    "They're gone too. I fear black magic."

    "Get the men up. All of them. Ensorcellement conquers weary heads. Look to the weapons."

    In a few minutes, they roused the rhysmungard, threw logs to the fires, took up spears and numbered themselves. Another man had disappeared along with Carney. Both sentries had fallen asleep. The usual penalty involved full face branding and expulsion from the rhysmungard but no one mentioned that. One of the watchers was found face down on the flagstones while the other while the other had frostnip on nose and fingertips. Both were found facing the door. Each miserably protested that he had been awake and grew confused when the others denied it.

    "I went into the barrow." One of them said. "It's not dark at all in there. It's not! I walked down a thousand dripping stone steps. Don't ask me why. Yes. Yes! Fine. Don't rightly know why I did. I must have been a little weary. There was a chamber, all full of glowing candles. Down at the bottom of the steps, lagger. I was just there when you started gabbing."

    Aife turned white as moonlight. "I dreamed of steps as was all pale and glowing. I dreamed of steps into darkness and a room of candles."

    "None of those ghost tales now, Aife." Hathrasil said.

    "No, no. I dreamed it too." Four more raised their voices. Everyone began to speak.

    "Well, no more dreams then." Black-breath shouted over the uproar. "Split into bands of five. His mightiness will lead one. I'll lead another. Hathrasil, you get a third and so on. Keep alert and mind each other. Let's not have anyone else wandering away."

    Several wretched hours followed. The night was much colder than the even. Even wrapped in their blankets, feet and faces ached in the frost, unless they lurked over the fires. There was no wind. Many dozed off but their companions shook them from sleep. Teeming clouds covered the stars. The near dawn at last came with a bewildered haze and with it a deep rolling fog. Near all the wood had burned away.

    A clatter of metal sounded. The men peered into the swirling grey no more than four paces. Again, steel rattled and heavy footsteps on stone. The rhysmungard called out a challenge. The movement in the mist stopped but no answer came. The steps began again and a knight all in dew polished steel appeared. A wall of spears blocked him.

    "Your name is Damrod." The rhysmun said. "Been a while since you fled my hall. Where is Mablung?"

    "In the barrow." The knight dropped his helmet. It crashed on the slab. Cingetix flinched. "We passed the bronze door last night but I only came out again." He sat on a worn down block. "I swore, long ago, never to retreat. Honor is all and now I have nothing."

    "What happened in there?"

    "We heard a voice. Some of us before the others. A voice without words, so to say, not at first. The girl and the old man. They understood that strange tongue. It took them first, then the others. I saw them lower themselves into the shallow graves and I fled. The voice is still laughing at me, in here." He tapped his temple.

    The rhysmungard whispered to each other. Few understood the common speech but those who did spoke all at once and the tumult made the tale worse than it would have been otherwise. The sun had risen low in the east, dimmed by the heavy canopy.

    "I'm going in." The rhysmun hefted his spear. "You with me, Black-breath?"

    "Always."

    "Good. Aife why don't you join us? Cingetix, you're just a boy but I see you're not afraid. And you, southlander, this is why you came back, isn't it?" Damrod nodded.

    "I'll get some torches." Maedoc said. "Men, if we're not back by dusk, get off this mountain."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You'll also need a weapon:
    (A) Your hammer. It's a little worn after being chewed on by a troll and the wrist-chain is snapped but it's still a large blunt object.
    (B) A two handed war axe.
    (C) A one edged sword.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    The great bronze doors reached twice the height of a man. Up close, a few flecks of gold were visible on the inset skulls. The bones were scratched and flaked. One door hung open. The rhysmun entered first, with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other. Damrod, Aife, Cingetix and Mull followed.

    An old must met their noses, the stench of something dead so long ago, the decay had sunk into the very walls. Two men abreast, with their arms stretched out, would fill the passage. Ten paces from the door, it dropped into a long staircase. Torchlight did not reach the bottom. They descended several hundred steps.

    A circular chamber awaited them at the bottom. Four withered corpses lay on the ground with outstretched fingers and open jaws. Muscles dry as leather wrapped the skeletons. A short ledge ran around the walls. On it stood many unlit candles. A cast iron face with a gaping discolored mouth covered the apex of the ceiling.

    "Poison air." Damrod said. "These four tripped this trap before we were ever born."

    Aife kicked the nearest body but the decayed flesh had glued it to the floor. Cingetix tipped his torch over a candle but his father caught his arm.

    "Foul air, remember? Mind yourself in this place."

    They passed into a long hall with a row of pine pillars on each side, wrapped with ribcages and dangling chains. Behind the pillars, an array of axes, bows, darts, spears and swords adorned the stones of the wall. Braziers stood by the door, bronze still stained from the oil the had once held. Light mildew blemished joints and cracks.

    The next room opened into a flat semicircle surrounded by a small amphitheater of rising rock benches. A burnt and bloodstained table stood in the center. At equal distances around the top row were three stone panels inscribed with witch signs. The one on the left stood ajar.

    "The girl talked with Mablung about the meaning of these signs." The man of Gondor said. "They all promise death to whoever enters but not in the same way. Mablung fancied this way. I wondered then what might behind the other two. Now, I hope to never find out."

    The opening led to a short unworked tunnel so narrow the men had to pass through sideways. The stench of sulfur filled the passage and they found themselves in a small cave. Stalactites jabbed downwards as if the very mountain were melting away. Half of foot of briny drenched their feet, warm but not boiling. They climbed onto a small ledge before a sealed door of iron. Water trickled down a crack in the roof. Three discs were set in the door, each with three symbols.

    "Beregond solved this one. Perhaps you noticed the hatch on the ceiling? The wrong combination most likely opens it, drowning us all. I shut this when I fled. It's seems a little fearful but I was sure something was chasing me, something more than the voice. It might still be right on the other side, in which case we should stand ready."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    (1) The first disc shows water(x), wind(y) and fire(z).
    (2) The second disc shows man(x), woman(y) and child(z).
    (3) The third disc shows heart(x), crown(y) and sword(z).
    (OR) Go back to try one of the other panels. Maybe there's a way around.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Gauldur's Bait, Storyfag , Azira - Just pick one symbol from each disk. The door has notches where they line up.

    Grimgravy - Damrod had five companions. He was behind the others. Of course he didn't see (but, yes, useless).
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  3. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    Weapon: A

    combo: I dunno. Damrod didn't pay attention to the code and ran off? Useless.
     
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  4. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    Weapon A.

    Question to Damrod: how is the code input exactly? Do we pick one symbol from each disk, or does it work in some other way (e.g. aligning them somehow)?
     
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  5. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    Yeah, weapon A. Waiting for clarification to the above questions before voting on riddle.
     
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  6. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    If we pick the wrong solution to the riddle, we might just get to try another character. :troll:
     
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  7. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    Ok, here goes. The previous door apparently had 'air' as the first symbol, but someone got it wrong and the poison air was released. We are now at the water riddle, based on the observation concerning the hatch in the ceiling. I figure that as we are in a grave, the symbols pertain to the symbology of the continuation of a fanily lineage. Thus, the following: Flowing water often signifies the passage of time, and with time you need an heir to the crown. Thus, the combination would be water, child, crown, e.g.

    1x, 2z, 3y.

    In case of retarded argument, suggest a better one. :M
     
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  8. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    Water child crown indeed seems like a decent combo with the connection of water to both time and life though I vote for the axe.
     
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  9. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    (A)(1x, 2z, 3y)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    "Right, here's what I think." Maedoc tapped the door. "The corpses a ways back failed a riddle of air. We're faced with a riddle of water here." He turned the first dial.

    "This is the tomb of the rhysbidean, older than we could dream." The rhysmun said. "He was the father of our kind and we are all his children." He spun the second dial to child.

    Maedoc turned the third dial to the crown. "We inherit his authority, yes? Hey, either of you two lunkheads have any better ideas?" Cingetix and Aife shook their heads. "What about you, southerner?" He explained their reasoning to Damrod in the Westron but the knight merely agreed. "Alright then, let's pull this lever."

    A stuttering metal click sounded. A great creaking swelled up, rippled across the water, echoed through the cave and ended in the thunderous boom of a thick bronze slab falling on rock, sealing the passage through which they had come. All looked up at the hatch, blotched with sandy yellow and red.

    "Hmmm." The man of Gondor laughed. "The mechanism must have rusted away."

    "Look at those mineral deposits around the edges." The rhysmun held up his torch. "They've crusted it shut. May as well go through the other combinations."

    "We 'ain't going to die?" The constant switch to a language he did not understand had unsettled Aife. "Jolly fine, but how's we all going to get back? We was buried halfway under this mountain, afore that bit of bronze slammed down."

    A few red flakes fell on his face. The drip of water from the ceiling increased to a trickle. Black-breath moved the final dial to sword and then to heart. The mechanism clicked vainly. The leak around to a drizzling curtain. The combinations for woman and child produced no result.

    "The first sign isn't water." He said.

    The hatch burst loose and a torrent of stinking warm liquid gushed down. The water foamed up over the ledge and up to their knees. Aife pounded at the door. Damrod jammed his torch into a fissure, dropped his helmet and began unstrapping his breastplate. Cingetix waded towards the bronze slab. His father dropped his torch and dragged him back. The water covered their waists. The rhysmun adjusted the discs and pulled the lever. The mechanism unlocked. However, the door had been built to open outward, against the flooding pressure of the cave. The men pulled all together. The door opened a few inches and the warm water rushed through. Damrod jammed his foot into the gap. The shoulders and necks of the others were soaked. They clambered past him into the next area. The last torch fizzled out.

    In blackness, the rhysmun felt his way up flooding steps. Cingetix crawled up after him. The others followed. They sprawled panting on cold hard stones.

    "Is everyone here?" Maedoc called out. "Cingetix?"

    "Yes."

    "Don't shout in my face, lad. Mull, you made it? Good. Here's the southerner. Where's Aife?"

    Damrod slipped back down the stairs into the water. His bracers and greaves still weighed him down. Without breath or sight, he felt his way to the door. With the waterline the same on either side, it swung more easily. His head struck soft flesh. He wrapped his arm around the man and pulled him back through the doorway and up the stairs. With a strangle gasp he pulled him to the dry stones. The water had stopped rising.

    "I've got your friend." He called out. "See if you can get the water out of his lungs."

    While the Burnt Men tended to their half drowned comrade, the man of Gondor removed the rest of his armor. When gallons of water poured down, he had thought the only way of escape might be through the hole in the roof and had stripped off both breastplate and helmet by the time the rhysmun unlocked the door, which meant he now had to dive for them. This took some time.

    Maedoc managed to revive Aife. The man coughed and whimpered. They all lay down in the lightless chill.

    "How did you do it, Mull?"

    "I had always thought to die a kingly death by fire. I thought of it again as the water foamed about us. I thought of the last rhysmun proudly wearing his crown as the fire consumed him. You remember that day? So, I was thinking of that when you said the first disc wasn't water. Fire, man and crown."

    "I didn't burn." Aife mumbled. "Buried alive. So many stones. So many years. Enchantments... enchantments... enchantments..."

    "Don't talk like that." Maedoc's skull weighed heavy as lead. "Let's just all rest a moment. When we dry, we can pick our way out of here."

    His son's head rested on his chest. He sighed. The same darkness met open eyes or closed. They needed to get out by nightfall. Someone was snoring.

    Black-breath opened his eyes. They saw nothing but felt emptiness. Cingetix wasn't leaning against him nor was Aife within reach.

    "Wake up! Wake up, Mull!"

    His hand fell on a cold face. A man shouted and threw him on his back. A fist punched his face, cracking the nose. He bit the hand.

    "Stop! Damrod. Maedoc. You're fighting each other." The rhysmun pulled them apart.

    "I apologize." The knight said. "I thought you were attacking me."

    "You broke my nose."

    "You bit my hand. I missed you with my first swing actually. Do you have any idea how much it hurts to punch a rock?"

    The rhysmun's laugh interrupted. "Here we sit in the dark; no torches, with our provisions drenched by stinking impure grime, shivering and now our two youngsters have disappeared. We don't even know whether night has fallen yet."

    "The voice stopped." Damrod said. "It had been whispering in my head since I first fled the tomb. It's gone." A distant thin shriek echoed through the tomb. The wail slowly faded away. "We need to find my companions. Even if they perished, we can still use their torches. Come on. I remember the way and might be able to find it by touch."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    (A) Ask him to bring his armor. It could be useful in a fight.
    (B) Ask him to leave his armor. It would give off a lot of noise.
    (C) Something else______.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    *** Some time earlier ***​

    The golden grass whipped about in the wind. It rustled about Earnil's knees. He waited with his bow strung and an arrow knocked. A brown haired rider approached on a dappled horse, leading a saddled gelding. He wore a brown coat with a green jerkin and tall boots. He stopped ten yards away.

    "Will you be shooting me?" He smiled.

    "Would I be wise to do so?" Earnil asked. Since leaving Beregond, he had met only a large group of barbarian horsemen. He wished he had not been forced to abandon his friends, but a man on foot could not keep up. Still, the thought of seeing the White City once more lifted his heart.

    "No harm meant here." The stranger held up his empty hands. "Pity you're journeying south. I'm northward bound myself and I wouldn't mind a keen shot to keep me company. These are perilous lands."

    "How far north?" Earnil returned the arrow to its quiver.

    "Many leagues. What? You don't mind turning about?"

    "Not if you'll have me. On horseback I can make one last visit before winter wakes."

    "Very good." The man smiled again. "My name's Cerwick. And yours?"

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Notes:
    Show Spoiler
    Gauldur's Bait came up with a better solution to the riddle than mine but it felt cheap to change the answer. Considered killing everyone but then it occurred to me all that moisture would wear down the trap over the centuries. Left off at a clunky spot but should be able to continue soon.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
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  10. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    :shredder:


    Next time some one else gets the honor of trying to kill us with his "sharp wit", ok?

    I say get armor, we might need it for whatever, and we've made a lot of noise as it is. So...

    (A)
     
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  11. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    A - sure. Bring his armor along.
     
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  12. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    B
     
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  13. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    A. They will have likely heard us by now anyway.
     
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  14. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    (A) Bring Damrod's armor.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    They passed through sunless halls, down straight passages carved through cave and chasm. The tunnel cut through the rock leaving unfilled cavities like pockmarks. Every rock which crossed the path had been chiseled into a sheer face. Damrod led by touch. He had walked the path before but with a light in his hand and company to distract him. Memory leaves only a few details clear as signposts and erases the rest. Retracing his steps in that lightless realm took far longer. The rhysmun worked his way after him, a yard behind. Black-breath followed last. The darkness did not trouble him (he had a good head for such things) but he kept picturing his son, empty eyed and unhearing as Carney when he had entered the tomb.

    "Mind yourself here." Damrod said. "There's a doorway on each side. No more than little pockets with a few grave goods but we mustn't get turned around."

    They continued without speaking. Each listened for some noise in the gloom other than their own footsteps but heard only Black-breath's huffing and the faint clink of the knight's wrist-guard on the wall. Without light or time, they walked slowly and cautiously as if they had been crawling. Later, the air thinned.

    "This is the great gallery." Damrod's whisper echoed. "We're standing on a causeway of large blocks inside of a cavern. A hundred chains hang from the roof, all covered with the bones of man. It is a most unsettling sight."

    Without a wall to steady them, they inched their way across. The rhysmun slipped and half fell off the edge but pulled himself back up. The floor of the cavern was only eight feet below but no stair or ladder led back up. The path passed through a short tunnel into another open area. A pale cold glow caught their eyes ahead.

    "Stand wary." The knight said. "This is the place."

    "Enough!" The rhysmun brushed him aside. "I'll risk my life for light in this wretched place."

    The glow faintly traced a series of steps. The two Burnt Men climbed up to a circular chamber set with a ring of pine pillars. Nine alcoves were sunk into the ground, seven of which gleamed with a cold white light. Each of the seven was sealed with smooth ice in which recumbent figures could be clearly seen. There lay Mablung, Beregond and the other men of Gondor with their eyes closed. There lay the wisdom's apprentice and Carney. A white shroud wrapped each of them. Fog formed in the ice around their nostrils and then cleared away.

    "Are they still breathing?" Damrod joined them. "May the Valar deliver us from this cursed place."

    Aife and Cingetix lay in the final two alcoves but no ice covered them and no glow issued forth. Maedoc reached for his son but the rhysmun caught his arm.

    "Wait. There is some bedevilment here. We ought to think before we take action."

    "Mull, here's your wise old man. Here's Mablung. You have what you want. I'm taking my son and we're leaving."

    The alcoves circled an unmarked lead disc, wide as a man is tall, at the center of the floor. Tarnished braziers stood between the pillars, smudged by the residue of oil. The southerner found a basket of torches and struck a flint on one.

    "Steady on now. We cannot leave the way we came. Does it not seem odd to you that the water trap blocked the passage? If the men who built this place wished to seal it off forever, they would have stopped up the tunnels. This suggests they built another way out. Let's see if we can find it before interrupting whatever magic taints holds our friends."

    Carrying torches, they moved back to the previous chamber and found, in addition to the causeway over the cavern, three more rooms branching off. The first held axes, swords, spears, hooked halberds, bucklers, heavy shields, corselets, spiked hemets, decayed garments, arrows and bows. Many were armaments of the rhysbidean's tribe, similar to those of the Burnt Men but others were clearly prizes of war. Iron barding of the Eorlingas lay by cruel orcish spears and scintillating steel of uttermost north. Damrod took a leaf bladed dagger, sharp enough to nick stone. The rhysmun chuckled as he chose a hefty golden crown of foreign make, richly inlaid with swirling silver and topazes.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    You take:
    (A) A blue-steel hammer, weighty but unmarred by age.
    (B) A sword with a ruby in the hilt.
    (C) A great boar-spear set with ivory.
    (D) A rusted flail with hexed spikes.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Many unsorted materials piled high in the next room, no more than a small natural cave. Splintered logs, heaps of refuse, worn down tools, withered coils of rope and a loose pillar of some pale light metal.

    The final room split into three cells. In the first, an enormous cup of bronze (Damrod mentioned how it resembled a bell) suspended by a chain over a deep well. In the second, a granite claw extended from a trough. On each end of the trough, a stone block extended from the wall. These wobbled when the men pushed them but did not give way. A spigot in the wall sent boiling water boiling water streaming into the trough. The third cell extended into a long hall but a portcullis blocked the way.

    "Enough of this." Maedoc said. "I'm going back for my son."

    In the circular chamber, the ice had frosted over Aife and Cingetix. A low hum began to fill the room, reverberating from the walls. Damrod thought he heard distant chanting.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    (1) Time to rescue your friends. Breaking the ice may have an unpleasant result, so think carefully about the order in which you want intend to pull them out. The nine victims are Mablung, Beregond, Llewyn, two (so far) unnamed men of Gondor, Carney, Aife and Cingetix.

    (x) Figure out how to open the portcullis.
     
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  15. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    A for the first choice. Upgrade to the premium head basher. As for the ice, a father's instinct would be to free his child, but perhaps it would be best to test things on someone more...expendable. Will reserve judgement on the others for now.
     
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  16. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    A
    x
     
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  17. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    A.
    As for the second choice, I'd consider pulling out those who were held in the ice longest first. Test stuff on Carney first, though?
     
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  18. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    A
    Difficult choice here concerning the second one. We need Mablung out for sure, and he again needs Llewyn for whatever he is supposed to do. Beregond we should definately try to save as well.

    Only eight
    persons are mentioned as being trapped in the alcoves - who is in the ninth alcove? Check that before anything else.

    Agree to test on Carney, who went in first.
     
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  19. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    The other person beneath the ice is Murdoc of the rhysmungard. He was missing when you took tally of the men after Carney's disappearance. Always a solitary sort - but still well liked.
     
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  20. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    So...should we start pulling out the prisoners then? First try on Carney. If everything ok then take Mablung, Llewyn, Beregond, Cingetix, 2XGondorian, Aife and Murdoc (in this order). Probably gonna get us killed this time... :)
     
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  21. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    I don't see us waiting so long to pull our son out.
     
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  22. Gauldur's Bait Learned

    Gauldur's Bait
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    First Carney then, then our son if all goes well, then the rest (in which order?) Important to get Mablulng & Llewyn out for the quest, and Beregond for the inevitable fighting.
     
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  23. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    I've lost track of who a lot of these people are..
     
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  24. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    (A) Blue-steel hammer. (1) Carney, Cingetix, Mablung, Llewyn, Beregond, Gondorians, Aife, Murdoc.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    A constant hum, lower than the tongues of men, filled all sides of the chamber. It periodically rose in pitch and echoed around the walls. Damrod began circling and tapping on the stones. Maedoc slipped his new weapon into a belt loop and tapped the ice above his son with his old hammer. A tiny chip flaked loose. He shifted left and struck Carney's alcove with as much force as he could lay below his feet. A spiderweb crack spread across the surface of the ice. The rhysmun crouched beside him and and they began to pick out the loose chunks.

    "This sound comes from all sides," said Damrod, "and it is louder now than before."

    The ice (if it was ice, for it was too hard yet not cold enough) encased Carney's whole body save his back. They pulled a chunk off his chest and another from his face. Breath issued from his nostrils. Then they worked his shoulders loose and strove to pull him from the gap but found they first had to pull more ice from around the waist. At last, they pulled Carney out of the trough and slapped his face. He did not respond.

    "They're chanting." The knight stooped with his ear over Beregond. "But I cannot make out the words."

    Without looking aside, Maedoc struck four heavy blows on each side of his son. Much of the ice shattered into a bed of crystals. He cupped them out with his hands. Cingetix was bonier than Carney. The tightly frozen ice had more purchase on him. It had also grown harder.

    "May the black land take me." Mull's eyes widened.

    This exclamation caught Black-breath's attention. The rhysmun did not swear lightly. Aife skin was growing paler as they watched. When it had turned white as fresh-fallen snow, his cheeks dimpled and caved as if in starvation. Veins stood out on his arms as the flesh shrivelled away. His hair turned grey before losing all color.

    "Help me, both of you!" Maedoc called out.

    The chunks already torn from the alcoves had softened and began to dissipate into a blue vapor but rather than rising upward they flowed downwards in silky tendrils. As they returned to the pits, they rapidly solidified again. In Carney's empty alcove, the hollow shape of a sleeping figure was visible under the translucent shell. As with true ice, the smaller fragments melted more quickly. Cingetix's prison filled near as fast as his father could empty it. The rhysmun heaved out handfuls while the man of Gondor carved out a wide slab with his newly found leaf bladed dagger. He had suspected it to be elven-crafted and it's perfect cuts only convinced him further. He lifted the slab, ran to the staircase which led to the chamber and tossed it down. The two Burnt Men pulled the boy's arms out and then one of his legs. The rhysmun shoved his own boot into the gap and leveraged out the ice on the other side. Maedoc pulled his son's head out even as the ice reformed around it, scraping bloody rows around cheeks and ears. Cingetix's eyes blinked open as his father heaved him onto the higher stones.

    The rhysmun's eyes flickered over the neighboring alcove and wonder seized him. The last scraps of skin melted off Aife's skeleton into nothingness. Only a few threadbare skeins of cloth covered the bones. The rhysmun's breathing slowed and his heart faltered. He had heard of magic, but never seen any so powerful or so deadly. He looked back and remembered he still stood in the alcove. The ice had frozen around his left knee.

    "Black-breath." He shouted even as he began to chip at it with his sword. "Your son lives. Now get the old man free."

    While Cingetix had been imprisoned to the left of Aife, Mablung lay on the right with his arms at his side. As Maedoc and Damrod began to free him, a piercing frost deadened the rhysmun's leg. He bit his tongue and the salt taste of blood filled his mouth. Then it went numb.

    "Hey, lend me that other hammer." He caught the instrument of blue-steel and swung down. The ice splintered a hundred ways and he pulled himself loose. There was no feeling in his left leg. In the next alcove, Murdoc had begun to pale. The rhysmun crawled across and hammered the ice. Murdoc's skin shrank and his eyelids withered away.

    "This curse is winding round."

    Black-breath had gotten Mablung out. While the knight started carving around Beregond, he began smashing Llewyn's frozen shell. She was one of his people and therefore worth rescuing, even though she was only a woman. As the wisdom's apprentice, she ought to have known a bit about enchantments. Damrod threw another armful of ice down the stairs, but even as he did so, noticed a thin trickle of vapor seeping back upwards. The rhysmun wobbled over to the second man of Gondor past Murdoc. A single blow from his borrowed hammer tore the ice apart. Llewyn's head and shoulders were out but the rest had sealed shut again. Damrod darted in and cut the solidifying fragments apart. They pulled him out alongside Beregond and then hurried to help the rhysmun with his man but his skin had already began to slough away and no one dared reach his hand into that hole.

    Carney, Cingetix, Mablung, Llewyn and Beregond lay on the cold stones. Of the others, only bones remained.

    "Now that was some right evil magic." Murmured Maedoc. "How do you feel, Cingetix?"

    His son only shook his head.

    Beregond was the first of the disenchanted to speak. "That voice... you others can't hear it, can you? The Craglord speaks. I'm certain it is him. By some sorcery, he's not dead."

    "Haven't you been listening, nephew?" Mablung asked. "Three hundred years to sleep... thus shall my strength increase... when nine widows weep... Then something about peace. Evil magic indeed." He blinked. "Did you follow me all the way here, Mull?"

    "To the very walls of the world. I've a life-debt to you."

    "The Misty Mountains aren't the end of the world." The old man said. "One gets a little weary of your barbarian honor code. The Burnt Men don't mind lying like orcs but if you save one of them from early death, the man is your servant for life, whether you want it or not. I'll wager you brought the whole rhysmungard."

    Carney had been drawn to the massive lead disc between all the alcoves. It was warming. Llewyn knelt beside him, clasping the white grave shroud tight about her. Suddenly, the humming ceased. In the excitement, all had forgotten it but its absence fair rung in their ears. The woman stood.

    "This seal is melting."

    The ice pits crackled into white flames. These gave chill rather than warmth and sighed instead of hissing. Five quickly sputtered out but the four holding the skeletons blazed higher.

    "Fly!" Beregond shouted. "All hands flee for your lives!"

    They retreated down the steps. The rhysmun, with his arm around Carney's shoulder, was the last to limp from the chamber. As he left, the lead disc simmered like a soup and slowly curved downwards.

    "No chance of escaping that way." Damrod blocked the long dark path back to the flooded cave. "We have to pass the portcullis."

    They looted the ancient armory again. The captives dressed themselves in decayed garments and left the white shrouds on the ground. Halfway through pulling on a withered pair of trousers, Cingetix caught sight of the woman and gawked until his father cuffed him under the chin. He took an iron sword. The rhysmun returned his borrowed hammer.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is also a great opportunity to upgrade your armor:
    (A) A sleeved hauberk. This mail tunic protects arms, chest and thighs.
    (B) A bronze breastplate. Heavy but solid. Has a golden bear cast on the front. Very valuable.
    (C) Broad-shield and helmet. Very useful in tunnel fighting.
    (D) Stick to your fur coat. It's thick enough to protect against glancing blows but also comparatively light.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    They proceeded to the three cells. Beregond shook the bars but they did not even wobble. Maedoc hammered them to no effect except an enormous ringing.

    "Stop that." Said Mablung. "The mechanism in the next room clearly opens this. Not again. Yes, the block is loose but you've already tried pushing it. None of us are strong enough. Look at this claw in the center of the cell over the basin. We can flood the basin with a steady flow of boiling water by turning this spigot? Didn't we find a metal pillar? Put that in the claw?"

    "What good will that do?" Cingetix asked.

    "Do as he says." The rhysmun commanded.

    They took the pillar from the scrap room and squeezed it between the walls, barely fitting it into the claw. Mablung turned the spigot and a stream of boiling liquid poured over the metal. It hissed and then expanded. It pushed the stone blocks on each side of the wall back. A heavy clanking reached their ears and the portcullis ground open. On the other side something snapped. Damrod glanced into the final cell and saw that the bronze cup which had reminded him of a bell was gone. A moment later an enormous clang shook up through the bones of the earth to rattle through their teeth.

    "We just set off an alarm." Said Beregond. "But what have we woken?"

    Llewyn dashed down the newly opened hall. The others followed. The flames of their torches trailed behind as they ran. Llewyn halted by a side door.

    "Don't stop now." Beregond glanced into the room as he ran past, spun around and rushed inside. When Maedoc lifted his torch, a dazzle of gold gleamed back at him.

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    (1) Keep running.
    (2) Loot and plunder! (Take as many as you want, but remember these have weight.)
    ------>
    (u) A pair of ceremonial silver rods.
    (v) A great diamond.
    (w) A skull stamped golden bar.
    (x) A sack full of silver coins.
    (y) A golden statuette of an archer.
    (z) A sapphire encrusted snuff box.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    EDIT: oscar , Gauldur's Bait , Grimgravy - You have a one handed hammer. You've been carrying a torch in your other hand. Of course, the rest of the group is now carrying torches. So if you don't get separated from every last one of them, you should be fine.

    Character List:

    Show Spoiler

    Still living:
    Mablung - An aged scholar from Gondor, formerly in service to the rhysmun as a clerk.
    Beregond of Ithilien - Mablung's nephew and the leader of the Gondorim.
    Sir Damrod - A knight of Gondor, courteous and bold in battle.
    Earnil of the White City - An archer forced to abandon the party after the Gondorim lost too many horses to goblins at the battle near the forest. Met up with Cerwick and turned around.

    The rhysmun - Formerly called Mull. Calculating and patient but not without moments of fury.
    Maedoc Black-breath - The rhysmun's right hand man. Our current character.
    Llewyn - The wisdom's apprentice. She accompanied the Gondorim and was trapped with them in the ice.
    Carney - A rhysmungard drawn into the tomb by a compelling enchanment. Recently rescued.
    Cingetix - Maedoc's son.
    Hathrasil Falcon-glare - Sergeant in charge of the rhysmungard waiting outside the tomb.
    Other rhysmungard - Around twenty-five men waiting on the side of the mountain.

    Cerwick - A spy for dark powers. Led Culann into the wilderness for information and then murdered him. Currently riding with Earnil.

    The fallen:
    Culann - Our former character. Throttled.
    Unnamed Gondorim (x3) - One of these men died a few days after the forest battle from infection. The rhysmungard found his burial cairn on their journey. Two more were withered down to their skeletons in the tomb.
    Aife and Murdoc - rhysmungard. Both were reduced to skeletons in the tomb.
    Other rhysmungard - A few died protecting the village of the Beornings.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
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  25. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7,438
    Location:
    NZ
    That would be appreciated.

    Is our present hammer two handed? I imagine a shield would be difficult to wield alongside a warhammer so A)

    2: x, y and v shouldn't burden us too much
     
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