The orc was dead, the panther once more in a cage, eating happily on the butcher boar rather than poor Sifid’s shoulder. Marco glanced about to see if he could offer his aid to the injured ranger, Sifid, but Sifid wasn’t in the room anymore, he could see the light of his candle far down the tunnel ahead of them.
The new-found prisoner, Luigi (NPC’d by DM) was too weak to continue on. Enlxo (NPC’d by DM) offered to remain behind and keep watch over him in one of the cleaner prison cells they’d left a short while ago. The others agreed to continue searching and return shortly.
The party then set off after Sifid, who was waiting at a juncture in the hallway. As the three others arrived, there was a sudden Fwash and before them appeared.. a human mage – judging by his robe. The man looked equally startled as they, but was quick to offer a name in greeting. His name was Fnid and he was here in the dungeon in quest of the King’s crown, stolen by Chester the Jester. The party introduced themselves and it was decided that it was safer to travel together than alone in this strange and magical dungeon.
They shared together their knowledge of the Jesters’ riddles and suspected answers.
It was then that a torchlight glow at the far end of the tunnel they were in appeared and seemed to be moving closer. Torches were put out. Sifid had trouble dousing the magic candle though and ended up stuffing the everlit candle into his waterskin to keep it from re-lighting.
The light at the far end of the hallway turned out to be a young male orc. A child. Thinking quickly, Fnid – who spoke orcish, called out to the orc-boy in a friendly manner. The child approached curiously but without threat. “Hello, I’m Gnnsh” he greeted in orc.
Those in the party that could speak orcish, questioned the child, in friendly tones and discovered that the tunnel they were in led to an underground orc village. Further questioning, made easier after Fnid charmed the young orc, revealed there was also a kobold village down here as well. The boy offered up what little information he had about Chester the Jester and rooms that contained needles, he even offered to show they where such a ‘needle room’ could be found.
The party agreed.
The orc child led the group back through the animal cells into the arena and out through the double doors at the far end of the arena to a stairwell off of a mainhall. The stairs led up. They went round and round and round. Up 50 or more feet. By the time the party reached the top two had vomited from the nausea. The stairs henceforth were to be known as the Stairs of Hurling.
Leaving the Stairs, the orc-child led the party to a series of locked doors. The doors however were weak and easily broken down by the muscle bound ranger, Sifid.
From there the orc-child led the party to a hallway that opened up into a hall, but the child stopped before the narrowed hallway. “It is through this way, but the way is dangerous. The walls like to crush people if they answer wrong.”
Warily, the party approached and when mid hall a voice boomed out issuing a dire warning and a riddle. Luckily, the party answered wisely and they were allowed to continue through, un-crushed.
They now stood in a large hall. In the middle of it was a set of stairs leading down and three doors lining each side wall and a set of double doors at the far end, guarded by a stone warrior statue on either side.
The orc-child pointed to the first door on the right. “That’s the room with all the needles. Mama took me there once to to help me sew my first elf ear onto my sash. I like playing with elf heads,” it commented with such innocence.
The party cautiously entered the room and found within a room dedicated to the art of needle-craft. There were quilts, patterns, and thread, yarn and various needles of all sorts. But what caught the attention of the party the most was a embroidered wall hanging still on its rack, a needle tucked into the very end of the embroidered name – Chester the Jester. The wall hanging had a decorative message and riddle.
“More and more my letters you find.
Has my game challenged your mind?
Truly your skill has been well tested,
But as of yet, you have not been bested,
So here is the next riddle, letter and clue
Look on the answer, in the room of blue.
Ten men’s length
Ten men’s strength
Ten men can’t tear it
Yet a little boy walks off with it."
The party took little time in figuring out the answer. Now they just needed to find the room of blue with it within. A thorough search of the room showed little else of interest to the warriors so they headed out to check the other rooms. The orc-child bored… fell asleep amidst a comfortable quilt while the priest Marco and the mage Fnid contemplated where to find the next room.
Adric’s attempt to open the next door on the right side of the hall, resulted in him nearly getting jabbed by an needle-trapped door handle. To show his displeasure he hacked the door to bits. Inside he found only a room of musical instruments. What a waste of his time!
Meanwhile, Sifid and Ethandrel went to search the door across the large hall. The door opened easily, and Sifid, cautious daggered the door open when the room wasn’t fully visible from the doorway. The elves proceed further in only to discover the room was occupied. Ten orc guards and a man sitting on a throne were looking at them as they peered around the corner. No one moved. Ethandrel stepped forward to introduce themselves. The man replied with his own name of Thane Arguzel and his title of Raven’s messenger on earth. Thane accused them of looting his lair, and killing his minions. A half-hearted attempt to justify there quest only met with a bored “Kill them.” At which point the orcs attacked.
Unfortunately, for Sifid and Ethandrel, Sifid had noticed the two men seemingly talking to someone with the room across the hall and felt it best to undagger the door and, after gesturing a returning Adric within to help the elves, shut them all within. Turning to flee they found their route blocked by what they assumed was a locked door. Oh no!
In an attempt to stave off the approaching orcs one of the elves commented that they had one the orc children with them, naming the child – Gnnsh – thinking to use him as a bargaining chip. Bad move. Daddy orc was present and almost frenzied. Yet rather than worry about killing the two elves, Daddy called out loudly for his boy. Who woke to the sound of the bellow and answered back. Marco, in the sewing room with the boy, looked up in alarm. He needed to hide!
Fnid also thought that hiding was much better than an trying to reason with angry father orc and took off to hide the music room that Adric has recently vacated. He crouched small and hid in a large tuba.
Daddy orc, hearing the call of his boy from outside the audience room, bounded past the party, as they engaged in battle with the orcs, and torn open the door to search. He spotted his boy in the sewing room and quickly gathered him up and – oddly – left.
The three warriors in the audience room were out numbered, however made short work of the nine remaining orcs. The man on the throne, did nothing to help his guards or stop the party. It was odd.
Afterward the battle was complete the man spoke again. “Don’t expect me to be impressed. They were just orcs afterall.” This led into another discussion during which Thane Arguzel admitted to having been watching the party – and showed to the three, his large scrying stone – a large ruby red unfaceted gemstone. It was what Adric had sent them to fetch. But how to gain it if the man was as powerful as he claimed?
Sifid, Ethandrel and Adric, questioned the man as to its worth. What could they offer in exchange? Thane Arguzel admitted to an inability to rid his lair of the nuisance known as Chester the Jester. If they could bring him the bards head and heart then he would give over the gemstone to them. That said he bid them good hunting and calmly walked to the back wall where he opened a secret door and left.
The quest had certainly become more convoluted now.