The Clutch of Verthandi

The Scarlet Crusaders

After resting, the team uses a lift to descent into a very roughly-cut room and immediately encounters two trolls. The team earlier learned that trolls have the ability to regenerate, and are essentially immortal unless made vulnerable by acid or fire first. Niamh attacks with a poisoned arrow, but it gets lost in the attempt. Raleria attacks with fireballs while Rognar takes cover behind a support beam, shielded from the troll’s attacks. Rognar attacks the trolls and fells the first, while Niamh finishes off the second.

Niamh scouts out the next room while invisible, and finds a large number of imprisoned slaves below a platform with four dwarves, one with impressive armor, a shield taller than he is, and a massive warhammer with the head of a dragon. Niamh reports back to the group, which decides that the best course of action was to march in like they own the place. The impressively-armed dwarf turned out to be none other than Tog Bjorn himself. Tog says he believes the True Light has shined down upon him for delivering Rognar to him. Rognar offers Tog mercy before engaging in battle, but he refuses, as the party expected. Tog commands his men to attack, but to leave Rognar for him. One of Tog’s Burned Beards uses a scroll of haste on all of Tog’s forces, but the team soon takes care of him. The other two dwarves attack the team but are quickly blinded by Raleria, and Rognar finishes of the second, leaving only one blind Burned Beard left in the fray. Seeing things turning the wrong way, Tog attacks Niamh’s bow, but is not very successful, though he manages to push Niamh off the edge of the platform. Fortunately, she manages to grab the wall and drop safely down. Tog and Rognar fight it out until it seems like Tog is on his last legs. Using what he thinks is his trump card, Tog calls to Pyrolassus… who doesn’t answer. Raleria then fells Tog with her magic missiles, and he dies with Rognar’s foot on his back and the words “Fire King” on his lips.

Rognar takes Tog’s hammer and armor from his dead body, and Niamh takes his keys and releases the slaves, who say Pyrolassus is in the next chamber. Hearing his leader’s death, the remaining dwarf surrenders. Eoleo goes to scout out behind a pillar but Pyrolassus sees him anyway. Pyrolassus is a huge red dragon whose enormous size is almost completely due to her excess amounts of fat, contrasted against her small, atrophied wings. She sits atop an enormous mound of treasure, surrounded by bones and wooden pillars supporting the stone ceiling. Pyrolassus tries to charm Eoleo into bringing her the bodies of the dead dwarves, but he resists it and launches an incredibly effective lightning bolt at six of the wooden pillars. Pyrolassus flicks a acid arrow at Eoleo as Rognar runs in and smashes one column with his new flaming warhammer. Raleria follows up with a fireball, and Eoleo casts an ice storm near Pyrolassus. Niamh shatters an alchemist’s fire on the column Rognar originally attacked, while Rognar moves on to another. Unfortunately, Pyrolassus has had it with the threats to her chamber and aims a massive fire blast at the team. Raleria is out of range and Niamh is protected from the energy, but Eoleo and Rognar are nearly knocked unconscious by the blast. Just then, the remaning pillars can’t take any more and the ceiling collapses in on Pyrolassus. This is good news for the team’s fight, but then a more dangerous threat manifests: the mountain itself.

Water from the Titan’s Goblet lake pours in through the ceiling, flooding the chamber. The team makes a hasty exit, literally in Rognar’s case, who drinks a potion of haste in order to increase his speed through the water. Niamh uses her ranger skills to run from the threat, while Raleria casts fly on herself so she can carry Eoleo to safety, and then returns with a rope to help Rognar struggle through the rising water. The team makes it back to the last lift and after much effort winches the lift up the shaft. At the top, they see a group of slaves still imprisoned behind iron bars. Raleria and Rognar burn and smash through the door while Eoleo scouts ahead and sees a dwarf trapped in a predatory gelatinous booby trap. The water continues to rush in, knocking slaves and heroes alike off their feet. Rognar remains as the last of the slaves escape the cell. As the water rises, Raleria returns to help Rognar, who drags the remaining three slaves along with the help of Raleria’s rope.

Raleria flies over the open trap door, and Niamh successfully jumps across, followed by Eoleo, who doesn’t quite make it and clings to the door. Fortunately, Niamh pulls him up in time to avoid an attack from the carnivorous jelly. To prevent the trouble of having everyone else jump over the trap door, Eoleo casts suggestion on one of the panicked slaves to pull the trap door lever that Niamh was able to detect, herding all the slaves to safety. After much running from rising water, Niamh and Eoleo take the first two loads of slaves up the first lift while Rognar brings up the rear. Raleria flies one gnome slave up the shaft, dodging the descending lift. Despite the slaves’ panic, Rognar intimidates them enough to get them on the lift in as orderly a fashion as possible and help him winch it up. At last, everyone escapes the Scoria Mines as the mountain collapses.

The present surviving Sure Axes quickly surrender and the freed slaves cheer. Within days, all the surviving Sure Axes have surrendered and the team is back in Ogjorn at a council with Lord Ferrum and the other nobles. The lords debate over what to do with liberated lands, and instead of returning them to Javal or awarding them to one of the other nobles, Lord Ferrum bestows them on the team responsible for their liberation, and invites Rognar to join the Valkyrie. Lord Ferrum and the team begin traveling to Wintervale, where Rognar’s initiation will take place. During this time, Eoleo brews new potions and learns remove blindness/deafness from a recovered scroll, and Rognar uses his smithing skills to resize Tog’s magical plate armor to fit himself. Since √Čadrom the waraxe is Rognar’s signature weapon, Rognar decides to hand the dragon hammer over to Niamh, who was desperately in need of an effective melee weapon.

In order for the the bards to sing of the team’s heroic deeds at the coming celebrations, Lord Ferrum asks which name the team would like to be identified by. After much discussion about their past adventures, group diversity, and present goals, the team decides on the name the Scarlet Crusade. As a newly-landed Valkyr, Rognar has to decide upon a sigil for his fiefdom. With the team’s help, Rognar decided on √Čadrom, his magical axe, and the red lance of St. Georgia, crossed in front of crackling lightning. Rognar also discusses with his team who to appoint as stewards of his fiefdom while Rognar continued to search for the remaining red dragons with the other Scarlet Crusaders.

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