From the journal of Pimpernell Bangbottom
After 30 temultuous days spent in that sweaty pit, The Cudgel, the weaker members of our troupe had recovered their health and appeared ready, albeit wary, to resume our task. As we finished one last pint of effervescent swill, a small band of hoodlums invited themselves into our conversation. We quickly learned of a shared interest; of the five of them, Goatboot the magic-man and Roderick the brute were not only familiar with our employer Mr. Gnast, they were on his payroll as well! I think. The details are fuzzy…
As I’ve mentioned, there were three more wanderers at our table. Mandaal MacGarus, the unsuccessful jeweler; Bingles, the Smoke-Eared rice farmer; and Dillus, yet another rice farmer. Apparently all the rice farmers in our famine-stricken land have taken to plotting around, stealing coin from goblins.
The lot of us set out toward The Yard that same day, aiming to dig around in the dark of Stonehell again. Meeting the gatehouse first, Roderick suggested we take a look inside. He produced a badly drawn map of the area and waltzed right over the derelict portcullis. After dodging a few arrows from the dog-men who had evidently taken up residence there, we found ourselves in a long yet narrow hall.
Further exploration of the area revealed a kennel of sorts, filled with large dogs…dogs that had not one, not two but three heads! The unbelievable things we’ve seen so early in our adventure… I believe it was Mumbles who said…well nothing really as he provoked these hellish beasts into a frenzied charge. Whilst this battle ensued, Roderick spied a stairway leading upward to a pack of dog-men, likely the same group responsible for the torrent of arrows moments prior. He took poorly to their jeering and caviliered headlong up the stairs, his weapon waving about.
I feel it an appropriate time to disclaim…not one of us had the wherewithal to fight off the nine gnashing mouths of our canine foes, the steel of the dog-men that entered the fight without even my knowledge and tend to
silly poor Roderick’s mortal wound. What wound? The same wound that one would expect to incur after a mechanical scythe comes screaming out of the wall beside them and lops off the very top of their person. It seems the dog-men are capable tricksters and trap-makers. We’ll not forget that stairway’s peril… Roderick’s head was intact, short the top inch of it anyhow. He bled out rather quickly. We sent him off with a burial befitting a brave brute, but more on that to come.
Steel clashed, dogs yelped and then…Victory! We had bested all of our canine-type foes nary an injury, save the farmers…and a few others.
It was at this time that a peculiar sight appeared at the top of the dreaded stairway: a dog-man riding on the back of what we could only guess was the enraged mother of the demon-dogs we had dispatched. Yes, indeed they were but pups. The rider called out his demands of us, the beast made hers. After failing to find a diplomatic solution to this situation (no, dog-man, we’ll not leave someone behind for you and your pet to munch on), the gargantuan monster lost her heads in anger and charged down the stairs. The dog-man also lost his head (Ha!) as the same scythe that sheared Roderick’s life from atop his self made an encore appearance.
Our group quickly divided as the wiser fled and the…bolder stood their ground.
Moments later we could hear the valiant screams of our comrades echoing all the way to the dismantled portcullis outside. We honored their decisions and memories as best we could by remaining outdoors, leaving their fate in their own surely-capable hands. Five brave men were taken from us in that dreadful gatehouse. Oh! Not to mention poor Tobyn, our porter. Unable to bear the silence after the screams of his new friends ceased, the boy ran inside in an attempt to drag them out and dishonor their final decision to stay and fight. We desperately tried to dissuade him but…alas, the vigor of youth…
I must be honest, I will miss John Turnip and his hen. Having a fresh egg breakfast whilst adventuring certainly is the only way to do it.
Come morning, our camp was greeted by a pair of dwarven brothers, Brogen and Krogen, and their mighty steeds…two goats that would’ve made a lovely first breakfast. This stout duo quickly joined our cause upon learning of our intent to crawl around in their Dwimordelve. They were eager to find some other stone-man that they seemed fond of. After introducing us to their cave home and gifting myself and Perv with two shiny sets of dreadfully heavy armor, we were off into the dark.
Our new friends knew their way around those tunnels quite well, and agreed to lead us in the direction of Kobold Korners. After an unfortunate affair with a snake and a rather large pile of refuse, we encountered an odd looking room: a walkway around the perimeter, a pit in the middle. Brogen took the lead as he revealed a deadly mechanism involving fire and pain, directed at the pit.
It was at this same moment that a small troop of orcs discovered us.
There were three or four of them. They were surely outnumbered, but this was no place for heroics. That sour fellow, Jackknife, wasted no time in revealing the shiny ball of a treasure that he and his friend recovered from our first visit to this underworld. “LOOK AWAY FROM THE PIT!” he screamed as he hurled the thing into that same pit. I can’t tell you what happened after that with all certainty, but I have a reasonable idea. We listened as they discovered their most wonderful desires down in that pit. Orc after orc met a very loud and painful death. Too loud in fact.
More orcs poured in. Bigger ones. We remained blissfully ignorant to the awful trap we had laid. The second murder of orcs lost one of their lot immediately to the pit. My ears told me the rest promptly fled, so we foolishly pursued. Only a moment later, we met them again, but this time with our backs to an unexplored hall. Our rogueish magic-man, Goatboot, began whispering mutterings of evil in the halls behind us, so we resolved to press forward into the spears of those herculean orcs.
Incredible feats were performed that day as we successfully pushed back the orcs, owing in no small part to the might of our dwarven friends, Brogen and Krogen, and yours truly. It was during this encounter that I first noticed the fireballs pouring forth from Goatboot’s hands…they looked strangely like steel daggers. I’m beginning to wonder about our friend’s mystical abilities.
Regardless, the orcs were turning to run, their leader dismayed, when that same Goatboot began mocking their fallen warriors. To arms! Again. No matter. The now broken party of orcs was quickly on its heels again after another round of thrashings.
We’d now grown accustomed to the taste left in one’s mouth from licking one’s own wounds. The outcome of this battle revealed many fallen orcs, two dreadfully wounded humans (a rice farmer and a jeweler) and one very dead Lartek of the Baneful Moon. The odds of death in this adventure were growing by the day, it would seem. After wandering through those horrible halls for hours, we returned to the cave home of the stone-men.
A fire was built, meals were eaten and a decision was made; I’ve chosen to risk my life no more on these foolish adventures. Ensuring Pervince’s safety and sharing in his profits is more than enough risk-taking. I’ll continue on these undertakings, but I’ll let Pervince do all the killing; a gentleman’s hands should not be stained with blood.