Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena

Dragon Hunting, Part One

Dragon Hunting:

(Turn One)

When the Trollgod expressed a wish for some dragon trophies to brighten up Trollhalla, three members of the elite rose to the occasion. Aarrra’aghaa, an 8th level rock troll Warrior, Grumlahk, an 11th level homunculus Rogue, and Mhegrrrim Skulltosser, a 5th level rock troll Rogue. They had been given a map by the Trollgod that would take them through time and space to the wild island of Rizonaa. As old comrades, they tromped along silently, wondering what they would find in this new land. Each step covered hundreds of miles on their magical journey.

Suddenly they heard voices ahead of them—voices speaking in a language none of them had ever heard before. They stopped and listened carefully. The voices were squeaky and bubbly.

“Are we expecting anyone to meet us?” whispered Grumlahk?

“No,” said Mhegrrrim. “All Trollgod told me was that this is the wildest land on Trollworld.

“I’m the smallest and quietest, and I can use Wizard Speech to try and understand them when we get closer. I’ll sneak up on them and see what I can learn,” said Grumlahk.

They all crept closer, but Grumlahk went ahead. Soon firelight was flickering off the walls from the corner ahead of him. Getting down on hands and knees, he wormed his way forward, coming to the corner and cautiously peering around it.

He saw a bizarre sight. The cave up ahead was roughly circular with an opening to the outside. In the center of the cave a huge bonfire had been built with many broken tree branches. More wood had been stacked and piled up along the cave walls. A crude spit had been set up over the fire, and turning slowly in the flames was the bloated carcase of the biggest frog that Grumlahk had ever seen. Gathered around the cooking feast were more than 20 strange beings. They looked something like goblins, but they were taller and thinner, with duck-like feet and duck-billed faces. They wore no clothing, but had ropes of twisted moss fibers slung around their bodies from shoulder to hip in an x pattern. They had teeth inside the duck bills, and their skin seemed to be half scales, half feathers of a yellowish tint. They were armed with knives and spears made of sharpened bone. As Grummy watched, one of them made a swiping cut at the turning meat, and a fair-sized slap of frog meat fell free. With speed and skill the cutter stuck a piece of shell beneath the falling meat and caught it before it hit the ground.

“The frog-ruler is delicious,” said one of the creatures.

“But getting old and slow,” answered another. “It only killed three of us before the cneen poison brought it down.”

Everyone laughed. Apparently losing three of their number to provide a feast was considered the height of comedy.

“It is strange how this cave suddenly appeared here,” said another.

“But it is a great place to dry out wood and cook our meals,” said another.

Grumlahk had heard enough. He crept away from the fire, and back down the tunnel and around a corner where he quietly told Mhegrrrim and Aarrra what he had seen.

(Turn Two)

Grumlahk, Aarrra and Mhegrrrim withdrew back the way they had come until they felt sure they were far enough away that the fangbills wouldn't hear them. Then they worked on a plan.

"I can use wizard speech to communicate with them," said Grumlahk.

"I think we should recruit them as followers and helpers and native guides," said Mhegrrrim.

"Are we going to surprise them when we appear?" asked Aarrra. "That might not be a good idea. It might panic them into headlong flight or attack."

As they were considering their options, they heard noises in the tunnel behind them. They took up positions behind a corner in the tunnels and prepared an ambush.

"I hope I catch them, I hope I catch them," G'noll mumbled as he hurried around the corner, head down. Mhegggrim popped up in front of him and said "Boo!"

(Turn Three)

They decided to go ahead with Grumlahk's plan. He would make the initial contact, and the others would back him up. They hiked back toward Rizonaa.

They made enough noise so that the fangbills in the cave would be sure to hear them approaching, then Grumlahk stepped into view. The back wall of the cave was an illusion, and it looked to the fangbills as if a strange creature had just stepped through the wall. There were several loud honks and quacks of dismay and surprise.

{Level 10 Luck saving roll for Grumlahk to see if they were so surprised that they didn't immediately attack with their weapons. Grum rolled a 7, succeeded. With a luck of 64, anything but a 3 would succeed here.}

"Greetings! We come in peace," said Grumlahk. At that moment Mhegrrrim and G'noll stepped out of the illusion to flank him. He had taken two steps forward to give them room.

The honking turned to something more akin to terrorized screaming, "Aaaaaah! Rockenchompers! Run, run, get some stoneater bombs! Run!"

The appearance of trolls has panicked this group of fangbills. They are making a mad dash for the exit, and getting kind of jammed up as a result.

About half the fangbills managed to get out of the cave before all hell broke loose. One of them seemed a bit calmer than the others. He stood at the rear, pulling warriors out of the way, reducing the flow, allowing them to squeeze out of the entrance.

Grumlahk stepped forward honking, “Stop! Stop! We only want to talk to you! We’re here to hunt dragons, not the People!”

These words of reason were drowned out by the war roar of a rock troll. Aarrra let loose with a mighty roar. It worked just as she hoped. The remaining fangbills were petrified with fear. A couple of them fell to their knees trembling. (110 a.p. for stopping the retreat.) The others stopped and looked back at her in fear. They saw a dreaded rockenchomper with weapons in her hands. They didn’t hear a word that Grumlahk was saying.

G’noll thought that if he could knock one out and capture one, they could question it at their leisure. The best target would be the one who had kept his head. He thought for a moment and then gestured magically while saying the mystic words “Rarkaby, rarkaby!” (Level 3 SR on INT. Rolled a 5, made it. 15 a.p.) The fangbill dropped like a stone, snoring before he hit the floor.

Mhegrrrim felt that this mass exodus had to stop, and he had a great way to stop it. He visualized a section of stone roof directly above the struggling horde of fanbills, concentrated, and intoned the powerful words (Slooosh-yarrrk!) (L3SR on INT to cast. Rolls 11 gets 33 a.p.) The ceiling turned to slimy mud and dropped on the panic-stricken fangbillls. Luckily the rock was rather thin in that spot, and instead of several tons of mud dropping on them, it was only several hundred pounds. None-the-less, it beat the remaining fangbills to the floor. Some were knocked out, all were injured. The one that G’noll had dropped was completely covered by the foul stuff.

“Hey, be more careful,” growled Aarrra. “I almost stepped right into that.”

Grumlahk was splashed from head to toe is viscous, slimy mud. He had been the closest when the ceiling collapsed. “So much for talking to them,” he said. “Anyone for a frog snack?”

A good part of the front wall had also disintegrated when Mhegrrrim cast his spell. Through the gaps they could see some of the fangbills who had gotten out looking back in horror. The frieze did not last for long as they broke into a panicked run and headed for the shoreline, where they dived into the water, submerged, and swam away.

“What a mess,” said G’noll.

(Turn Four)

Rescue operations began immediately. The Trollhallans didn't really want to kill the natives (unless they were dragons)(yet).

Grumlahk, Gnoll, and Mhegrrrim all headed to the spot where the fangbill leader had gone down.
Actually, G'noll attempted to fly over. (INT SR gets 1, 3--just makes it. 12 a.p.) By the time he had gotten himelf airborne and horizontal, Mhegrrrim had already strode into the edge of the mud and pulled the leader out, putting his hand out to restrain Grumlshk who was attempting to do the same. "Just clean yourself off, Grummy, before the stuff hardens on you."

"I want it to harden," said Grumlahk. "It will be easier to get rid of the stone powder than the goop.

Working as quickly as they could, they pulled all the fangbills out of the mud, and laid them in rows near the back of the cave. Mhegrrrim and G'noll made certain that they had lumps of mud around their hands and feet to serve as restraints.

There were eleven survivors and one dead one. The survivors were all injured. Five of them were unconscious. The other six filled what was left of the cave with a cacophany of honks, gurgles, and screams. If the pain wasn't enough, the horror of having rockenchompers hauling them around and laying them out like so much deadwood made them scream the louder.

Not far away in the waters that surrounded the island, a few of the braver fangbills watched and listened. They couldn't see much--just some bulky shapes moving around in what was left of the cave, but they screams and honks they heard totally convinced them that the rockenchomper monsters were torturing and doing horrible things to their egg-brothers. They began to think of how they could fight back.

Aarrra decided to try the roast frog. She ripped off a drumstick and took a mighty bite, crushing the springy frogbones in her jaws. It was good. "Mmmm, crunchy frog!" said Aarrra. (Lvl 10 SR on CON. Rolls 1, 1 then 5, 3--makes it, gains 100 a.p.)

The screaming and honking was truly an uproar. "Even if we question them, it will be almost impossible to understand what they're saying," said G'noll.

"We'll take this one that you put to sleep back into the tunnels for a ways so we can hear him and ourselves," suggested Grumlahk.

They did so. Aarrra and Mhegrrrim remained out front to guard the prisoners. Aarrra ate more frog.

G'noll and Grumlahk took the leader into the tunnels. At the nine minute mark they managed to revive him. When he opened his eyes and saw a hyena-kin and a homunculus hovering over him, he gritted his teeth and hissed at them. It was a reaction of abject horror, and yet courage on his part.

"Just listen," said Grumlahk calmly in the fangbill's language. It was actually mind to mind communication, but it souunded a lot like honking and quacking. "We did not mean to harm you. We only meant to ask you some questions. Like what is your name?"

The tenth minute since Mhegrrrim cast the spell expired. The mud turned back into stone. In the process it expanded a bit, and crushed the fangbill's hands and feet. He let out a shriek that seemed likely to rupture his vocal chords (if he had any) and passed out from pain.

Back in the main cave the same thing happened to all of the other prisoner fangbills. If the sound had been bad before, it now became almost unendurable, even for trolls. Neither Mhegrrrim nor Aarrra understood what had happened--just that when the mud turned back into rock, the prisoners went crazy with pain. half of them passed out. Three of the more badly injured ones died from the shock.

(Turn Five)

The homunculus turned to the yyena. “Are we going to bring this guy back and question him or not? If so, we’d better get rid of these stone manacles. I don’t think he’s going anywhere with broken hands and feet. “

“A very controlled slush-yuch should remove cuffs. I’ll do it," G'noll said. "Can you do a “Poor Baby” spell on him to heal the damage?”

“Yes, I can heal him completely if I don’t lose my concentration from all the screaming,” Grumlahk answered.

G’noll cast the spell to remove the handcuffs. (He did it very well—rolled 16 on his INT SR for 48 a.p.)

Grumlahk cast Poor Baby on the unconscious fangbill. (He rolled a 9 for his INT SR and gained 18 a.p. He had to spend 22 points of WIZ to completely heal the fangbill.”

“We’re still going to need to restrain him somehow,” said G’noll.

“I have some twine,” answered the homunculus. He pulled the duck-man’s hands behind his feet and quickly lashed them together. If he doesn’t awaken in a few minutes on his own, I’ll find some way to wake him up,” said G’noll.

Meanwhile, back in the main cave, the two trolls in the party were getting tired of screams, howls, and honks. “I’m going to try something,” said Mhegrrrim.

“Let me go outside first,” said Aarrra. “The last time you tried something, the roof fell in. And besides, I tire of this din. I want to go outside and see what kind of place the Trollgod has sent us to.”

“All right, try not to get yourself killed.”

Aarrra stood up, picked her way carefully through the chaos of re-petrified rock between her and the exit, and walked outside.

She found herself on a small island, not much more than 100 paces in diameter. (Of course, she had a pretty big pace.) The cave she stepped out of was a mound of stone that rose out of a weedy plain to a height of some thirty feet. It seemed to be about 50 feet in diameter. There was no sign of the tunnel that led back to Trollhalla.

“Strange are the ways of wizards,” she muttered.

She walked around a bit and took note of her surroundings. The island was a kind of hummock that rose out of a vast watery swamp. To the south and east of her stretched an immense bog. Little islands rose out of it, and on those islands grew large moss-covered trees of a type she did not recognize. The waters swarmed with life—mostly snakes and frogs. Oddly enough, it seemed like the frogs were eating the snakes, and not the other way around. Swarms of insects hovered in places over the swamp. There were flies, gnats, midges, and stranger things by the millions. None were particularly close to the island an the moment. Perhaps the smoke from the frog-cooking fire had driven them off. As she watched, something that looked like a dragonfly the size of a cow, bumbled its way toward her.

To the north and west the land rose into a series of hills leading into a mighty range of mountains. Aarrra looked up and up and up over at least three ranges of hills before the top of the mountain wreathed itself in clouds. High up in the distance there were things flying. They had to be immense to be visible from so many leagues away. She counted at least seven of them.

Looking back at the swamp, she noticed that the big dragonfly was closer now. It’s chitinous body glittered in the noonday sun.

Left to his own devices, Mhegrrrim launched his own plan to finish quelling his captives.
Since everyone in the party had been given the Wizard Speech by the Trollgod, he could talk to them in their own honking, gabbling noises. (In truth he just made up nonsense sounds and projected his thoughts to them. They seemed to hear him speaking their language.) {Which is enough about the wizard speech—from here on I’ll just treat the conversations as if everyone really understood each other.]

"Wail and moan little ones!" Mhegrrrim hollered as loudly as he could. He gestured about, preparing his spell. "Your souls belong to the Rockenchomper'og! (i.e. TrollGod) This is HIS CAVE!!! BISKETS AND SOULS FOR MY LORD TROLLGOD!" The invocation meant nothing to the fangbills, but was suitably mysterious. Their shrieks subsided to moans. Knowing that they were about to die horriblyl, their courage began to come back to them.

He hoped to impressive/terrifiy them into submission with a well placed Roguery Saving Roll (in place of Charisma). Needs a L5SR on Roguery to accomplish his goals. Rolls a 1, 2. Automatic fail. Gets 15 a.p. for the attempt.

The fangbills gave themselves up for dead. One of them began to sing his death song. It was an oddly musical kind of gurgle-honking in a discordant minor key. Grrrim proceeded with his plan, casting a wall of illusion around the inside of the cave. (rolled 1, 3, barely made it, got 4 a.p. for his Mirage spell.)

Back in Trollhalla, Glarrrn the Dark Dwarf finished learning the Wizard Speech from the Trollgod and set off down the tunnel to join the four who had gone before.. The Trollgod had given Glarrrn a bottle of vapor to take to Grumlahk and the instructions to use it on the unconscious fangbill.

(Turn Six)

Aarrra began to notice the fangbills in the water. Their heads would surface for a moment, stare at her, and then resubmerge. There seemed to be more and more of them. There were dozens now and the number was growing.

Inside the cave, Mhegrrrim was satisfied that his work was done. The fangbills still alive lay moaning and singing softly.. He stepped back into the tunnel to see how Grumlahk and G’noll were doing. He found them tending to an unconscious fangbill tied with a rope instead of constrained by stone. He told them, “I’ll be outside with Aarrra. Join us when you can.”

He went back and emerged just in time to see Aarrra standing nose to proboscis with a dragonfly the size of a cow. It didn’t seem to be attacking—just curious.

As Grumlahk and G’noll waited on their captive, they heard noises coming from the tunnel. In a short time, Glarrrn, a dwarf from Trollhalla trotted up. “I bear a message from the Trollgod,” said Glarrrn. He pulled out a bottle of greenish vapor and gave it to Grumlahk. “Trollgod says use this on the captive.”

“How do you use a bottle of vapor on someone?” wondered G’noll.

They thought about it for a while. (L10SRs on INT). 60 a.p. for G’noll and 170 a.p. for Grumlahk. “We must get it to breathe the vapor,” they said at almost the same instant. They uncorked the bottle under the fangbills’ beak, caught a whiff of something nasty, and the fangbill coughed and woke up.

(Turn Seven)

Mhegrrrim looked around the island more closely. It didn't have much to offer--a roughly circular piece of land that rose perhaps a foot out of the swamp waters all around it. On two sides were never-ending swamp, on the other two sides there was a short strait perhaps ten strides across, and then rising land turning into hills and behind them sky-touching mountains wreathed in cloud. There were no trees on this island, scarecely more than mud and low water plants. There wasn't even any stone for Mhegrrrim to munch on, except for the cave that Trollgod had made for their headquarters. He stood on the shores and taunted the fangbills.

The huge dragonfly had gotten bored and wandered back off into the swamp. A creature made of rock really had no attraction for it.

Glarrrn came out of the cave and looked around. "Where's the dragons?"

Aarrra pointed toward the mountains. "See those flying specks way up there. I think those may be our dragons."

"Can't see a thing except some blurry mountains," said Glarrrn. Dwarves are notoriously near-sighted.

Back in the tunnels Grumlahk and G'noll revived the duckbill and began talking to it. The fangbill looked up at the two monsters sullenly. It didn't understand why it was still alive. Grumlahk spoke.

"We have healed as many of your people as we can. We do not wish to fight you. We have heard that there are dragons here. Can you tell us of them?"

"Oh, yes, there are dragons here. There are the great water dragons that live in the swamp. They mostly stay in the deeper waters. There are the rock dragons that live in the hills where the People do not go. And then there are the cloud dragons who live high up on the great mountain. Yes, there are plenty of dragons, and I hope they eat you and your rockenchomper friends."

He stopped and looked at them sullenly. "Now kill me, or let me go, for you will get nothing else but hatred from the people."

(Turn Eight)

G’noll cast a Spirit Mastery on the (rolled a 1, 3, barely made it for 8 a.p.) It worked. The fangbill was his slave. He cut him loose and told him help calm down the other survivors so that G’noll could free them and heal them too.(By my count, there are eight surviving fangbill captives. Spirit masteries proved to be the way to go for all of them (5 saving rolls 100 points. Grumlahk stayed and helped him with the healing. The process took about 30 minutes. It turned out that only 5 of the fangbills in the outer cave were still alive. He also had to cast 5 slush-yuchs to free those who were alive. Once his spell failed. (102 a.p. for slush-yuchs.) Grumlahk did the healing. He couldn’t heal them all completely but he did 10 points of healing on each of 5 fangbills, using 100 points of WIZ. He got 152 a.p. for his saving rolls. At that point G’noll had 6 enslaved fangbills who would do whatever he told them. He was just about to say something about being a good friend and a bad enemy when a noise from outside got his attention.

While the two G’s were busy with their errand of mercy inside the cave, the number of fangbills in the water built up to critical mass. When there were 300 of them, they attacked.

They rose out of the waters all around the island in a wave of honking horror. Some were armed with bone knives, the others held a strange weapon that seemed like a combination of a whip and a spear. Still others threw disks of bone like spinning chakrams.

(Turn Nine)

G’noll told his tame fangbills to get outside and stop their people from attacking. They headed for the door.

Aarrra shouted, “Get inside the cave entrance.” Suiting her action to her words, she charged back through the doorway, met the fangbills coming out, and flattened them. The third one got tangled in her legs, broken like a twig, but Aarrra went down, bowling into Grumlahk who was attempting to get the leader fangbill on his shoulders. They all went down in a heap and knocked the leader out. Grum makes a L5SR on CON, and is not knocked out. (rolls 6 and gets 30 a.p. )

Mheghrrrim starts to cast a Hard Stuff spell on the water in front of the cave, but before he can finish it, the 7 leading fangbills crash into him and bear him over backwards by sheer expedient of one getting tangled in his legs. Their combined monster rating of 280 isn’t really enough to stop the big troll, but it does bollix his attempt to get a spell off, and the second wave rushes forward.

The one that tripped Aarra has broken bones. He begins screeching in pain again, making it almost impossible to hear anything but his frenzied honking and the honks and curses of his comrades.

Inside the cave, Aarrra turns and draws her weapon, getting ready to hold off the charging fangbills. As she did so, the five fangbills who want to stop the attack, start clawing and tearing at her from behind, desperate to get out the door and obey G’noll’s order.

Heading into the tunnel, G’noll looks behind him and sees utter chaos in the room with his five slaves tearing frantically at Aarrra who has just turned to hold the doorway.

(Turn Ten)

Aarrra felt herself being attacked from behind, a place where she thought no enemies could be. 4 fangbills, desperate to get past her and obey G'noll's command do 140 points of damage with 2 spite. Her armor can take 500 points of damage, but somehow 2 points of hurt do manage to get through and her Con drops to 43. In response, she attacks ferociously (5D6 + 300 for a total of 317) and she slaughtered all 4 of them) 160 a.p. for combat.

G'noll was desperately trying to call off his tame fangbills, but the honking and screeching of the one with broken legs drowned him out. The remains of the giant frog barbecue were between him and Aarrra so she didn't notice his frantic gesticulations. When she turned on them and began hacking with her roguesword, pices of fangbills were quickly flying in all directions.

On the floor below, Grumlahk got to all fours and quickly scrambled back into the tunnel, thus getting away from the berserk troll.

With the immediate threat disposed of, she turned back to the doorway in time to see what looked like a wall of fangbills coming her way. However, by standing one step inside the cave, and letting the opening constrict the flow of her opponents, no more than 3 could reach her at a time. This was a position she could hold all day and night (or at least until spite damage knocked her down.)

Outside the cave, Mhegrrrim emitted a tremendous roar, threw off his 7 opponents, stood up, and started fighting. He thought about climbing on top of the cave, but realized very quickly that would just make him a target for an even larger number of enemies. Nevertheless, 19 of the fangbills got to him in combat round 2 for a total of 655 with 13 spite. Using his 200D6 trollhammer, he began swinging for distance, trying to knock their heads off and back into the swamp. (combat total 847) doing 192 hits. He killed 4 of his foes outright--splash, splash, splash, splash and wounded one so badly it would take a month of frogdays to recover. Nonetheless, even more of them continued to attack. (160 a.p. to Ghrrrim for slaughter) However, he did take 13 points of spite damage, dropping his CON to 25) (and the number of foes increased to 26 on combat round 3)

G'noll and Grumlahk are safe. Aarrra is in a position where spite damage will eventually take her down, but not for several more turns. Mheghrrrim is likely to go down from spite damage alone in about 2 more turns. It should be clear by now that all attempts to awe them into submission are futile. In the fog and confusion of the battle, all attempts to talk sense to them are futile.
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