Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena
unclehyena

Dragon Hunting, Part Two

(Turn Ten, Part Two)

A wave of fangbills tried to force their way into the cave, but only about 3 could fit in the door at the same time. She utterly slaughtered them. They did one point of spite damage to her. –120 a.p. for Aarrra.

Grumlahk drew his weapon and prepared to dispatch any fangbills that might force their way past Aarrra.

Seizing a moment of respite when the fangbills outside realized they weren’t going to ge in through the door, Aarrra kicked the screaming duckman at her feet good and hard in the head. That ended his squawking forever. 40 more a.p. for Aarrra.

G’noll decided he needed to get out and help Mhegrrrim. The noise of the attack was so loud that he couldn’t be heard. As Aarrra finished the wounded fangbill, G’noll got to the side of the door and managed to look out just in time to see:

Mhegrrrim decided to charge the foe and try to get across the short straight of water between him and the mainland. 12 more fangbills joined the attack on him, bringing the number he was personally dealing with to 26. Nonetheless, he made progress.

G’noll attempted a L3 TTYF, but found that with all the honking, screeching, and a bone chakram flying by within an inch of his head, he couldn’t concentrate. (Rolled a 1, 2 on the INT SR.) and the spell fizzled. (3 a.p. for G’noll.)

Mhegrrrim plowed toward the water, swinging wildy with his trollish warhammer, but the fangbills having seen what that weapon could do, mostly ducked (get it?) and dodged it. Fangbill total = 869 with 9 spite damage (a pitifully weak roll for 26 monsters but they were ducking and dodging) Mhegrrrim’s total was 785 with 9 spite damage. He took 84 hits with 9 spite damage, but his excellent armored short soaked up all but the spite damage. His CON dropped to 16. Then he reached the edge of the water, which he had apparently thought would be solid enough to support him even though he never got his Hard Stuff spell off. (it’s difficult to think straight in combat) After just a couple of steps, with each one deeper than the one before, he lost his balance and belly-flopped into the murky water where he sank like a stone. The impact was enough to knock all the fangbills clinging to him off, and they stayed on or near the surface while the mighty rock troll plunged to the bottom of 20 feet of murky water.

(Turn Eleven)

Inside the cave Aarrra, G'noll, and Grumlahk were wondering what to do. They found that they had to stay away from the doorway, because Grumlhak crossed it once and a hail of spears and bone chakrams came flying through it. He dodged out of the way quickly enough and was unhurt. Aarrra stepped into the doorway and roared at them as loudly as she could. A few fangbills staggered backwards, but the rest of them just went on honking and screeching at the tops of their lungs. Some of them threw stone chakerams at her, which she batted aside with her blade. Nonetheless, it seemed to be a stalemate, with them all on the inside and the fangbills on the outside.

Underwater, Mhegrrrim looked up. The surface was about 10 feet above his head. This little canal of water was fairly shallow, and so the creatures in it weren't that big either. A couple of small frogs tried biting him, but they only broke their teeth. The fish and the snakes avoided him.

Mhegrrrim began to walk, away from the island and toward the distant shore. After about ten paces the marshbottom began to rise. And a moment later he rose dripping from the water and waded ashore. Looking back, he saw the island crowded with perhaps 500 fangbills, and in the deeper swamp even more seemed to be arriving. A few of them saw him, but now that he was on the land, they didn't seem to care much. It was as if he had stepped across a border.

(Turn Twelve)

They rested. G’noll told Aarrra that he would heal her injuries, but she said, don’t bother. I will regenerate from these scratches in a short time. He started to set up a fire-at-will spell in the cave mouth, but Grumlahk reminded him that such a spell would be too slow and do too little damage in the event of an actual attack. (1 missile per turn doing 3D6 per shot. That won’t even take down a single fangbill) Grumlahk said he was getting a bad feeling that he might be needed back at the lab.

On the outside, Mhegrrrrim walked up the hill a bit. He was soon lost in the scenery. He left signes behind indicating which way he had gone. When he was over the first crest he began to notice the spiderwebs. There were a lot of them, and bigger than those he had usually seen. Still, spiders wouldn’t bother a rock troll, would they? He hunkered down between two boulders for a snooze. He could feel himself regenerating—it itched.

When he woke up it was dark. The stars were strange and bright. A breeze blew through Mhegrrrim’s shelter, and on the breeze he heard the noise of what sounded like millions of wings, big leathery wings. (10 CON has been healed)

Back in the cave it grew dark. Aarrra had completely regenerated. After a while they noticed that the noise of the honking was diminishing. Still, if Aarrra even tried to stick her head out of the cave, it was greeted with a flurry of bone chakrams.

G’noll woke up the one surviving fangbill and asked what was going on. It listened to the outside noises. “Night is coming,” it told them. “My people must return to the shelter of the swamp because the wing-demons will be coming soon.”

{At this point, everyone left alive in the cave is healed. Grumlahk is distracted and discouraged and probably in favor of returning to Trollhalla. Mhegrrrim has regained 10 CON. The parties are out of sync with each other.)

(Turn Thirteen)

Meghrrrim:

Mhegrrrim woke to the sound of leathery wings. Strange stars filled the night sky, He looked out from beneath the two overhanging boulders that sheltered him, and saw strange shapes swarming through the sky. They were generally manlike, but with great flapping bat-like wings. It was too dark to make out features, but they were bigger than men, perhaps 8 to 9 feet from head to strangely clawed feat. Each one trailed a long sinuous tail that jerked up and down behind them. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them only about 100 feet above him. They all seemed to be heading for the swamp.

He looked down and felt a tickle. There was a spider the size of his hand on his leg. It appeared to be trying to bite him, but wasn’t having much luck.

G'Noll, Grumlahk, and Aarra:

As the afternoon waned into dusk, the honking and screeching grew ever less. Toward sunset, Aarrra walked out through the doorway, and there was no one left to hinder her.

G’noll roused his captive fangbill and told him to rejoin his people. “Go, and tell your people to stay off this island. It belongs to us.”

“I leave,” said the fangbill. “You monsters should stay out of our swamp, or my people will kill and eat you all, even the rockenchompers. We are great warriors, and we never forget a foe.”

He left, looking anxiously at the skies.

“Mhegrrrim isn’t out here,” said Aarrra. “Either the duckmen got him, or he escaped to the land. I feel certain he would head for the mountains.”

G’noll and Grumlahk had recovered all their wizardry. G’noll had evolved a clever plan to avoid further trouble. It involved being invisible and flying. He felt that he could do the same for Grumlahk. But Grumlahk was sounding strange. He was rambling on and on about talking to cloud dragons.

In the end they all found themselves on the edge of the foothills and off the island. Aarrra simply waded across the strait. G’noll and Grumlahk flew across.

About then they noticed the strange hum in the air. Looking back they saw what must have been millions of insects rising from the water. Some were as large as a cow—the dragonflies that Aarra had seen earlier. Others were the size of gnats. And there was everything in between. There must have been millions of them.

The smaller ones started to bite and sting Grumlahk and G’noll. They swarmed on Aarrra too, but couldn’t seem to do much against her rocky hide.

Aarrra scouted around. She found the trollish sign that Mhegrrrim had left behind. “Grrrim went this way,” she said. “He climbed this hill. The sign is several hours old however. He is far ahead of us”

“How can you tell?” asked Grumlahk. “This is not the time,” said Aarrra. “I think the insects are getting worse.”

Grumlahk and G’noll already itched in a dozen places from insect bites. They slapped at some of them, and killed some of them. “This mosquito is the size of a robin,” said Grumlahk, intercepting a bug that was diving at his face. “They’re getting bigger.”

“And more numerous,” said G’noll.

(Turn Fourteen)

Mhegrrrim:

Mhegrrrim hunkers down in the shelter while the leather-wings fly overhead. He does wonder if they're gargoyles. He couldn't remember if they were stone or just capable of standing like a statue. He can’t really tell what they are, but there sure are a lot of them.

Looking down at the spider, he casually casts spirit mastery on the spider. "Stop biting me, it tickles."(INT saving roll = 9. 18 a.p. Succeeds) Mhegrrrim says to it, "So little one got any big sisters?" The spider quits trying to bite him, and scurries off into the darkness.

He then picks up for a suitable rock to store Kremm via a dura-spell battery. He'll spend his time carving the stone with his nails to look like a troll. (INT saving roll = 4 8 a,p.) (That works too—how much WIZ do you want to store?)

Mhegrrrim stays out of sight, and nothing bad happens to him.


Arrra, G’noll, and Grumlahk.

“We’ve got to do something about these bugs,” said G’noll. “I have an idea. I am going to use TTYF to bring down one of the biggest bugs I can
find (one of the cow sized dragonflies?), and once it hits the dirt I will use Mirage to cast the illusion of the biggest, brightest lamp post I can right over the carcass. I am hoping that the combination of dead meat and bright light will cause an entomological traffic jam, and draw off some of
the bugs on our tail.”

“That’s not going to work,” said Grumlahk. “Mirage spells don’t really emit any light, and bug brains are too small to be fooled. I think a high level will-o-the-wisp spell will do better. I’ll cast that if you wish.”

“Why don’t we just run away from them?” said Aarrra.

One of the cow-sized dragonflies came bumbling toward them and when it was fairly close, G’noll concentrated and cast a L4 TTYF at it. (INT saving roll—rolled 30 on 2D6 for 120 a.p. and did 260 points of damage (MR = 200) The dragonfly crashed to earth.

Grumlahk immediately cast a L4 will-o-the-wisp spell on the carcass. It lit up brightly and thousands of bugs made a bee-line for it. (36 a,p.)

It was dark now, but all of them saw well enough in the dark that it didn’t matter. Straight ahead of them, there was not much cover. But there was a straggly wood off to the left, and they slanted toward it as they climbed the hill. The farther they got from the swamp, the fewer insects bothered them.

“I’d like to find a small cave, or perhaps make one if we can find some big rocks,” said G’noll. However, there wasn’t much in the way of rocks on the hill this close to the swamp. Just as they reached the edige of the forest the leather-wings (night gaunts) came over the top of the hill. L1SR for each of them to see if they were spotted. G’noll rolls 8, Grumlahk rolls 5, and Aarrra rolls 7. They all got under the cover of trees before they were spotted.

The thunder of hundreds of wings flapping through the sky caused them to hunker down behind trees at the edge of the woods and look up. Aarrra just hunkered down and pretended to be a rock. They saw strange black humanoid forms silhouetted against the stars. They seemed to be bigger than men, with wide-spreading batlike wings. Long sinuous barbed tails fluttered behind them. They came by the hundreds, possibly the thousands, heading for the swamp. The swooped and fluttered, a great deal like insects themselves.

The night gaunts just kept coming—hundreds of them, possibly thousands, swooping and darting in silence at the larger insects in the swamp. Sometimes the insects would rise up to fight them, the gigantic dragonflies fighting especially hard. As Aarrra watched, she saw something like a tentacle reach up out of the water and wrap around a diving black thing that had a pony-sized beetle in its arms, and pull it down below the surface with a splash they heard from half a mile away.

“No wonder the fangbills ran away at sunset,” commented Grumlahk. “I wouldn’t want to be out in the open when those things arrived.

(Turn Fifteen)

Aarrra, G'noll, and Grumlahk

The night passed peacefully for the three. By the time they had gotten a mile away from the swamp, the bug bites fell to almost none. Grumlahk took the first watch, and spent it looking back at the swamp where strange monsters devoured each other. G'noll took the middle watch and used it to make himself a kremm battery holding an extra 20 kremm. Aarrra took the pre-dawn watch, and she saw the night-gaunts leave the swamp and fly back over the hills in the same direction that the three were headed. In the pre-dawn grayness she could see them better than she could the night before. She woke up her companions so that they could also get a look.

The gaunts were some 8 to 10 feet tall with wide shoulders and narrow hips. Large leathery batwings sprang from their shoulderblades, and they flew with a fluttering motion, first beating their way upwards in little jerks, then gliding downward until at about 20 feet from the ground they started flapping their way up again. Their bodies were black as ebony, and they had a long barbed tail that twitched and wiggled behind them. Their heads were long and oval and each had two black curving horns where the ears should have been. They had wide mouths full of scarlet teeth that practically split the head in half. And their hands and feet had six fingers and six toes each of which ended in a long white claw. They had neither eyes nor noses. And they made no sound except for the flapping of their wings. They looked formiddable, and there were thousands of them.

When the last gaunt had passed from sight sun had just slipped it's edge over the eastern horizon. The companions rose and ate a small meal. They were fully recovered and ready for the next day.

Aarrra told them she couldn't find Grrrim's trail. In moving to cover they had apparently gone off to the side of his passage. She was sure, however, that he had continued over the hill toward the mountains where dragons were more likely to be found.

Mhegrrrim

Some time during the night, Mhegrrrim fell into a kind of meditative trance that trolls are prone to. The starlight soothed his mind. The noises of the night did not bother him. Just before dawn the leatherwings returned, and this time he got a good look at them. (See description of night gaunts above.) They flew off toward higher hills and mountains to the north.

He closed his eyes for a short while until he became aware of a strange noise somewhere between a click and a scratch. He opened his eyes to see that his small servant had returned, and brought with her one of the largest spiders he had ever seen. The creature stood twelve feet tall on 8 intricately jointed legs. It had a body as large as two horses combined, and was covered with bristly brown fur. It's multi-faceted eyes sought him out, and a stream of drool dripped from between mandibles that looked like giant saw blades.

(Turn Sixteen)

Mhegrrrim

The giant spider carefully examined Mhegrrrim. (L10SR on CHR for Mhegrrrim--he rolled a 3, failed miserably--still gets 30 a.p.)

"Rock-bug is not a spider," it clacked. "Cannot hunt like a spider. Set the little one free and not bother Spiders, or the rock-bug dies even if there is no food in it."

For spiders, life falls into two categories: spiders and bugs. If you're not a spider, you must be a bug.


The trio:

When morning came Aarrra, Grumlahk, and G'noll continued their climb over the hill. They had completely recovered from the difficulties of the previous day. From the hill top they could get a better idea of the terrain ahead of them. To the left the ground was gentler, and covered by an increasingly heavy forest. To the right, the ground grew barren, descending into scrub, rocky ravines, and gigantic boulders.

"The land to the right looks more like home," said Aarrra.

Grumlahk had been scanning the skies, looking toward the mountains. "What are those?" he asked. "Eagles?"

Distant specks swooped and glided around the cloudy mountaintop far ahead.

Aarrra and G'noll looked. "I don't see them," said G'noll. His distance vision was not that good. "Looks like dragons to me," said Aarrra.

Whatever they were looking at was 20 to 30 miles away with plenty of rough terrain in between. Of course, G'noll and Grumlahk had the wizardly might to simply fly over there, but carrying Aarrra would tax them to the limit.

A swarm of small black birds rose from the forest to the left. They looked a lot like crows, and after circling they began to fly toward the trio on the hilltop.

"I've never known so many crows to fly together," said Grumlahk. "Three or four, sure. Dozens, very strange."

(Turn Seventeen)

Mhegrrrim:

Mhegrrrim simply says, "I will happily free the little spider for a pact to ignore each other. Spiders you command will leave me and any companions traveling with me alone. In return, we will equally respect your hunting rights."

And he means it. Once given the oath of safety, Mhegrrrim will order the little spider, "You are no longer compelled to follow my commands."

The small spider scampered off and disappeared. The big spider said, “hk’hk’hk’hk’hk’hk’gggg” which meant something like “Watch yourself, rock bug.” Then it turned and stalked away.

The sun was now well above the horizon. Mhegrrrim found a nearby ravine and began to follow it downwards. Before noon, a sea of clouds rolled in and covered the sky with a heavy overcast and the raindrops started to fall—it was just short of a downpour, but the rain didn’t bother the troll much—in fact, it felt rather good. He continued following the streambed down the hillside.


Aarrra, G’noll, and Grumlahk

The flock of crows circled nearer and nearer. They were more like eagles in size with large heads and large braincases. They glittered with an almost metallic look in the early morning sunlight.

When they were close enough, Grumlahk called out to them in the wizard speech, "Greetings Winged Ones, never have I seen such might grace the very skies!"...

“Oh, look,” said one crow. “The food can talk.”

“Feather attack on three,” said another. At least 50 crows let out a caw of agreement.

G’noll and Aarrra had heard the exchange in wizard speech. They understood that the birds meant to attack somehow with feathers. Grumlahk had already figured which tree he was going to dodge behind and tensed to make his move.

“One,” said the biggest crow. “Two,” said the next biggest.

(Turn Eighteen)

Mhegrrrim:

The hill grew steeper as it descended. Rain came down like the deluge. Mhegrrrim looked for shelter, but didn’t see any. Although he knew about flash floods, he had started in the ravine while the sun was still in the sky, and had covered miles in it. As he descended, the ravine walls grew steeper and more treacherous. His plan to stay above the treeline didn’t work, because there were no trees in this wilderness of stone. Somehow, without intending to, he found himself on the bottom of the gully with 50 foot walls on either side of him. It was hard to find a way out, because the water was coming down so hard that he couldn’t see ten feet in any direction.

That was when he heard the roar, the exuberant splashing of the flood that was coming down on him from above. When he finally saw the torrent, he had only about a second of warning before a 40 foot high wall of water would hit him.


Aarrra, G’noll, and Grumlahk:

The flock of crowettes attacked, each throwing a sharpened metallic wing feather at one of the three targets standing at the edge of the woods. None of the three were caught off guard, exactly, but they hadn’t counted on the speed and accuracy of the avian attack.

G’noll was the only one fast enough to react before the crowette feathers were actually in the air. He called up a protective pentagram to protect himself. (INT saving roll of 15 for 60 adventure points) 10 black feathers whirled to within a couple of feet of him, then seemed to strike solid air and fell to the ground.

Grumlahk was diving for cover behind a tree even as the deadly feathers whirled at him. (L10SR on LK to avoid being hit. Rolled 7, made it, and got 70 a.p.) Shiny black missiles of destruction flew by him, and some stuck deeply in the tree behind which he took cover.

Aarrra also tried to duck back into the forest. She moved with amazing speed for a troll. (L10SR on LK to avoid being hit. Rolled a 6, made it, for 60 a.p.) Surprisingly, none of the feathers hit her, although a couple actually stuck in her ogre bow or glanced off her protective shirt.

Round two: G’noll thought about taking the fight to the evil birds, but knew that he could not cast any spells through his own protective pentagram without losing his protection. He contented himself with hastily getting under cover of the trees. The spell moved with him as he walked.

“I tried to be nice, tried to be friendly, but oh no, you just had to attack,” grumbled the homunculus. He aimed his forefinger at the largest of the crowettes and muttered Take That You Fiend! But he must have been more shaken than he thought, because the spell fizzled on him. (Rolled a 3 for 3 a.p.) The big birds cawed loudly and dove at him..

Aarrra reached into her knapsack and pulled out a bag of caltrops. Roaring with rage, she scooped up a large handful of them and threw them at the diving crowettes. (Make the highest level DEX saving roll that she can. Rolled 5, good enough for a L14SR on DEX.) Such was the power and accuracy of her throw that 14 of the crowettes were felled by the flying missiles, but she had nearly emptied her bag with that one shot. Plenty of caltrops missed completely. Aarrra gets 90 a.p. for the saving roll and 700 a.p. for taking down 14 huge and deadly birds.

(Turn Nineteen ran off to Patagonia with a woman of loose morals.)

(Turn Twenty)

Mhegrrrim:

Faced with a rampaging wall of water 40 feet high, the trollish rogue’s first thought was that a wall could save him. He cast a Hard Stuff spell at the oncoming water, visualizing a barrier that stretched from side to side and from bottom to top of the ravine, something 25 feet wide, 40 feet high, and 1 foot thick. He rolled a 7 for his INT check, cast the spell successfully with the flood less than 10 feet away from him. (21 a.p. for the saving roll) A clear wall of water formed at the front of the flood, and not being anchored to anything, swept along with it, delivering a smashing blow to Mhegrrrim’s entire body, and then the flood carried both him and his wall willy-nilly downstream, but he hardly noticed since the first impact knocked him cold.

He woke up some time later. He was caught against an underwater boulder in a pool of water about 10 feet deep. An ordinary human would have been battered to death by the wild ride down the mountain, and if that wasn’t enough, he would have drowned, but rock trolls take no damage from simply being underwater. Mhegrrrim felt hurt, perhaps for the first time in his life, he really felt hurt. (CON 1. It was negative, but he regenerated.) All of his equipment, except for his armored shirt was gone, carried off by the flood. (Special award of 500 a.p. for being bounced down a mountainside inside a flood.)

With some pain he stood up, and his head emerged from the water. He felt more like a gravel troll than a rock troll at the moment—it felt as if there were many broken pieces inside him. Darkness surrounded him, but he saw well enough in the dark. Clouds covered the sky, and a light rain continued to fall. He was in a pool in a stream that flowed off to the east between two hills.


Battle with the birds:

Birds tend to shy away from object being thrown at them, and when Aarrra’s volley of caltrops actually felled 14 of them, they became very alarmed. Most of them wheeled away and climbed so high into the sky that they were only specks.

Both G’noll and Grumlahk prepared a smog spell for any birds that continued to attack them, but the birds were beaten. Cawing loudly and promising a bloody revenge in crow language, they rose higher and flew off to the west.

Aarrra crouched, weapon in hand, ready to break some bird heads if they approached her, but they were gone. They had no desire to fly in under the trees where they would have to fight at close quarters.

Seeing that the attack had ended Grumlahk went looking for crowette feathers. He found 16 of them, and discovered that they were both sharp and hard. (treat them as shurikens—doing 1D6 of damage for each 10 points of STR used to throw them.) As he gathered them, it began to sprinkle. Looking up he saw clouds coming in from the south, first some light misty clouds, but a really heavy wall of cumulus was right behind them.

“Looks like we’re in for a storm,” said Grumlahk, “and a big one. Maybe we ought to stay in the forest. Not only does it give us some protection from those birds, but it might also shield us from the worst of the rain that’s coming.”

“I feel certain that Mhegrrrim would have stayed in the more open terrain,” said Aaarra. If I could just get over there and do some scouting, I might be able to pick up his trail.”

“We could form our own rock shelter over there where the rocks are,” said G’noll. “On the other hand, those barren slopes are way too exposed for my liking.”
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