Dragor heard it first, tortured screams curdled our blood. We all instantly recognised Orlof’s agonising alarm.
Only a few minutes had passed since we agreed to Whisker’s terms and set out on our quest. Already we had found our first objective. Not wasting any time we dashed off across the great chasm, risking detection, but luck was on our side. Dragor’s deception proved vital once again.
Following the sounds of Orlof’s scream we made our way down a natural cave into a giant unworked cavern. It was empty of Derro, but it was not empty. We attempted to continue the charade and casually pass through but were surprised when, swooping down from the cavern walls, gargoyles quickly flanked the party. They were clearly expecting a password or payment of some kind, and when we failed to deliver, quickly attacked.
A grinding combat ensued and no quick victor looked likely. It seems the knock to my head has affected me more than I had realised as I failed to put together the fact that these creature’s were made of earth and that I may be able to influence them somehow. When I finally made the attempt, however, It proved almost useless and we decided to run away from the flapping statues. Just as my faith in Dumathoin’s power wavered, he showed me how fickle I was and shocked a pair of the beasts with his might as my brother cut one down with his axe and allowed our escape.
Sickening smells of burning flesh filled our nostrils as we entered the next tunnel and a faint red glow could be seen emanating from the following chamber. Brodria‘s scouting revealed that we had found Orlof’s dungeon. She could barely contain her hatred of what she saw, and her crossbow dealt out swift justice for their vile sins. Bolt after bolt rent the pair of torturers asunder. Despite the Derro mage successfully trapping Dragor and Aeric in his water trap, he was quickly overpowered by a wicked shot to the eye and almost before it started, the combat was ended.
Oh poor Orlaf. I can barely believe he lives, looking at him, I’m unsure how he was able to survive the damage I observed to his body. Grotesque burns, necrotic scars and tortured nearly to insanity. I helped him as best I could and we bundled him through an underwater passage to relative safety.
Once we re-entered the main chasm we were almost immediately spotted. We were dangling from a cliff-face and had little choice but to flee at full tilt. We made for the mines with death-dogs and derro in hot pursuit, where we found two mine carts just asking to be hijacked and ridden. We jumped in and pushed off and down we flew gaining more and more speed.
A couple of times the derro managed to catch our train but we were able to fight them off and keep rolling. Faster and faster we rattled along, until we went around a corner at breakneck speed and very nearly broke our necks. Aehric copped the worst of the crash and was knocked unconscious.
After picking ourselves up we continued the train ride to hell before crescendoing over a gap in spectacular fashion. At the end of the tracks we had found what Jornum had been looking for, though not what he had expected.
The ship-of-the-night, The Moon, stretched out across a giant circular cavern. An intricate and ingenious series of mirrors was arranged in such a way that the light from the moon seemed to come from the ground around us. In the middle of it all, confidently picking mushrooms, Naherezar, Whisker’s rival and our target.
Those of us that could snuck around and set up flanking positions while those that couldn’t waited on the near side of the chamber. Once we were in position, we sprung the trap. The hammer hit the anvil with spectacular force. Despite his tricks and manipulations, Neherezar was quickly surrounded and defeated. The rod secured, Whiskers’ voice spoke from the air.
Again, he found us weakened and unable to face him. We had little choice but to relinquish the rod and attempt escape. Oh I almost forgot; Haterazor. Orlof grabbed it off the slain sorcerer before anyone could do something sensible. What could possibly go wrong? Tortured to near insanity, wielding an axe that encourages insanity and slays dwarves with impunity.
Of course the first thing he wanted to do was draw it and put the entire royal lineage at risk. Luckily he came to his senses at the last second and we made good our escape.
We could not have condemned Orlof to a life of torture after his noble sacrifice, but if he continues to risk the lives of my family, our time together may be limited.