Darvin's World

How The Captives Were Saved

Though the room they had landed in was usually pitch black, moonlight shone down through the hole in the ceiling to allow the PCs to make out their general surroundings. Humanoid skeletons lay scattered about the edges of the walls, and a message in blood on the wall read, “Flee Now.” Two staircases led the way out of the room, one leading upwards to a lit hallway and the other leading downwards to the source of the screams. The PCs first decided to check out the second staircase.

With his darkvision goggles, Harlequin could see a severely wounded orc sitting on the ground with his wrists tied to the wall. As he continued wailing in agony, he managed to tell them they had better save themselves and go elsewhere. Heeding his advice, the PCs investigated the hallway upstairs.

Large paintings of Lornus lined the walls, and a fancy rug lay on the ground. Able to perceive that which is unusual, Harlequin noticed that the rug lay wrinkled and did not seem to fit the room. Pulling it back, the opposite side immediately fell into a twenty-foot pit filled with snakes. Harlequin and Loki jumped across the pit first, but as they did, they heard things falling into the lair through the hole they had used. Dragonborn warriors like the ones they had fought in Astrovin and a sword-wielding skeleton were led by a human death knight. All were carrying the limp bodies of Astrovin citizens but dropped them immediately when they noticed the PCs.

Harlequin tried to jump back across the pit but did not make it. He fell into the snake pit and was soon surrounded by them. The death knight led the way into battle and came after Balkar, who stood in front of the snake pit. Balkar’s armor, though, proved a formidable challenge for the undead humanoid, as he was unable to pierce it. Balkar retaliated and knocked the death knight to the ground.

Seeing this opportunity, Loki, safely on the other side of the pit, created a wall of fire that engulfed the death knight and his allies as they rushed towards him. The death knight tried to escape it by standing, but Balkar crushed him on the head with his mordenkrad and knocked him back down.

Fighting the snakes alone, Harlequin was overwhelmed and suffered from poisonous bites. He kept his cool, though, and cut them to pieces one by one. In critical condition when he had finished, he did not like seeing the death knight roll off the ledge and into the pit, sword raised behind him. Harlequin jumped to avoid the blow, though, and caught the death knight in a compromising position, killing him. The death knight’s allies met a similar fate, continuing forward but unable to get out of the fire that Loki had created. Silence returned to the lair.

Still where their captors had dropped them, attractive members of each species of Astrovin lay unconscious. One dwarf, though, was hobbling to his feet. Balkar recognized him as one of the most friendly regulars at the bar. The dwarf explained to Balkar that the raid group the PCs had just killed had taken him from his bed in the middle of the night and knocked him out. Without a way out, Loki summoned horses and sat the captives on top of them. He ordered the horses to head towards Al Qahara, since Astrovin probably did not have anyone to work at the medical facility any longer.

The PCs figured that since the apparent danger had been neutralized, it might be safer now to check out the room where the orc was chained. Harlequin snuck down into the darkness and noticed other creatures chained to the walls, most mauled and apparently dead. The orc was the only one conscious. He could not utter complete sentences due to the blood in his throat that choked him, but he managed to mouth the word “snake” as if in warning. Sure enough, behind a gnome with most of his body eaten, Harlequin spotted a black snake hiding. Pretending not to notice, he casually walked in its direction and then lunged out with his short sword.

Hearing the cling the weapon made, the other PCs ran into the room behind him. Balkar saw another snake preparing an attack and ran to meet him. Loki remained behind, casting when he saw fit. Finding the PCs as too much of a match, the snakes retreated to the back of the room where the emblem of Tiamat was painted on the ground. The PCs did not enter the mind-controlling trap, though, and instead fought and decimated the snakes from outside of it. Without any imminent danger, Balkar took the time to crush the orc’s chains and free him, sending him on a horse like the other captives.

Near the back of the room, the PCs saw a wooden door. Trying it, they found it unlocked. It led to a small, roughly crafted stone hallway with another wooden door at its end before it turned left. Harlequin quietly turned that door’s knob, too, and found that it opened easily. The light from the torches in the hallway shone on a sleeping dragonborn guard. Raising his sword high above him, Harlequin plunged the sword down and deep into the guard’s chest. His eyes opened wide as he awoke, but he could not even let out a scream as life quickly left him.

Returning to the hallway, Harlequin explained his success, and the PCs continued down the passage. They found a steep staircase that led straight up and into a larger, more ornate hallway. As they crept down it, they saw that it opened up into a huge chamber with a sandy floor. Gold, fancy clothes, and more artwork lay all around its perimeter. A pedestal stood at the front, too, where a ring was showcased. Loki used Mage Hand to move it towards him, but as soon it left its resting place, it exploded and sent shockwaves at the PCs. Luckily they were just outside of its burst radius.

Sure that they had found Lornus’ main lair, the PCs began to enter the vast room but saw not trace of the dragon. All of a sudden, the ground shook. Causing sand to fly everywhere as he emerged from the ground, Lornus rose to meet his intruders.

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Unconscious in a Coffin

Loki, Reynald, and Balkar all regained consciousness to find themselves in individual coffins just beneath the surface of the ground. They each have the same memory: waking up in the middle of the night to find undead minions around their bed with blunt weapons. When they forced their way out of their tombs, they found their town looted and destroyed. The moon still hung high in the sky.

Considering that the coffins were buried just beneath the surface of the ground and that the tops were hastily nailed shut, the undead slaves to Tiamat and some dragonspawn from the cave of Lornus, the local brown dragon, apparently thought that they had successfully killed every citizen unfit to be part of Lornus’s exotic diet by sneaking from house to house in the dead of night. Most of the raid party had already left for Lornus’ lair with the most attractive member of each race of Astrovin and everything else they deemed valuable when the adventurers emerged. Seeking retribution or at least an explanation, they surveyed their surroundings and made plans to travel to the lair, a place no one had returned from in years but everyone knew the location of because of the dragon’s frequent raids on the area, a dragonborn exemplar of Tiamat and two accompanying dragonspawn spotted them and charged.

Though the newly dug graves around them made fighting a little tougher than usual, the adventurers were able to quickly join forces and defend themselves. After their enemies had fallen, a man emerged out of the darkness, clapping slowly.

“Good show,” he said. “Name’s Darvin. I was at the bar and went unnoticed when the raid group first arrived. I ran a safe distance away to save myself. I know it’s not honorable, but I didn’t know what else to do.”

After a bit of inquiry, the adventurers learned that Darvin, a man they had often seen at the bar by himself, was a complete introvert who rarely associated with his peers, even in their constant presence at work. Balkar tossed him the greatsword previously wielded by the dragonborn.

“I can’t use this,” Darvin said. “I’ve never been trained.”

This was true, but Darvin was prepared to give any excuse to avoid combat and risking his life. When he discovered that he might become richer by embarking on the journey to Lornus’ lair, though, he joined the cause. Loki’s ability to summon horses at will allowed them to chase after the raid group that had left. Planning an ambush, they raced ahead through the desert towards Lornus’ lair, being careful to stay far enough away from the group to avoid detection. When they noticed iron stakes oddly jutting out of a sand mound, they knew they had found the dragon’s home. As they dismounted and planned a way to surprise the captors, harmless-looking boulders came to life and began hurling stones at them. By surfacing to join the fight, a bulette created a hole in the buried structure of the lair, allowing the adventurers to see in to the rarely used entrance twenty feet below. With little help from Darvin, they neutralized the natural threats outside and hopped down using the moonlight as a guide. They immediately heard screams coming from a nearby staircase.

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