Today began bright an early with our arrival at the Farrad’s Keep. Not just a home for the nobleman, there were many shops and taverns and temples surrounding the Lord’s stronghold.
The guard at the gate was most excited to meet us, as Lord Farrad required some hired assistance and we fit the role perfectly. However, as we were roadweary, we elected to spend some time in town before approaching the Lord about his issues.
We stopped in at the armoury to unload all of the accumulated arms and armor collected so far. After some haggling a bargain was struck and we left with lighter packs and heavier purses.
Rorie and I visited the apothecary, where we bought healing potions. Frank did not buy any poison for his blades. Pity.
Upon admission into the Lord’s chambers, we noted that he was receiving counsel from a lanky Eleadrin. They appeared to be discussing matters of payment. Interesting.
We introduced ourselves and offered our services. Farrad explained that something “important” had gone missing, and that he’d already hired Solophous (the Eleadrin) to retrieve it. However, it had gone missing into the local Kobold lair, and Solophous had been outnumbered and was forced to flee before he retrieved it.
We didn’t receive any description of the item, and honestly a “local lair” seemed to be a problem regardless. Evidently this was also a dragon lair, something we weren’t really expecting to have to deal with so soon !
So appraised of our mission, and assured of payment of gold and one magical item, we ventured forth to retrieve the… artifact (?) and hopefully, pick up some other valuables along the way. As he’d already been in and out of the lair, we followed Solophous through the twisting tunnels that led into the Kobold home. We had a choice of paths, neither of which seemed better.
It turns out that Kobolds love traps. Lots of traps. Not halfway through the first room, Rorie noticed a false floor (taking up half of the room) which we were able to sidestep carefully. In the second room, we found trigger plates as large as my arm-span – and Fernando, in his finite wisdom, declared it necessary to attempt to set them off with stones.
Where did he get stones? Why, from the false floors! In doing so, he set off the collapsing floor, crumbling away most of the room and exposing some sort of yellow ooze in a deep pit. Furthermore, his antics triggered a stone door to slam shut, sealing us in!
Fortunately, we knew there was another exit – but not knowing what sort of traps were laid along that path we decided to worry about escape later.
We gave the big rock to… Big Rock. He tossed it onto the pressure plates and managed to not set off a trap! Again, Rorie’s keen perception gave us enough clues to know which spots on the floor to avoid, and we made it through this room too. I picked up the rock on the way through; we may need it later.
We then came to a room with a small obelisk, with moss growing down from the ceiling. On the obelisk was a draconic inscription, that (after some deciphering) I determined said go upward. So we did! The moss proved sturdy enough to climb, as Fernando suddenly discovered after slipping off the top of the obelisk. He did manage to climb up into the ceiling, and lowered a rope for the rest of us.
One by one we climbed up through the ceiling, along a cramped tunnel, and then down again into a passageway. It is unfortunate that Kobolds are so small, as our movement was impeded throughout their lair.
Solophous led the way once more, this time to a large room with a massive wooden chest in the center. It was surrounded by steel bars, making an incomplete cage.
Careful examination showed that there were no traps on the chest, although we were suspicious. As Frank and Fernando prepared to open it, we drew our bowstrings and expected the worst to come leaping out.
Frank was able to pick the lock, but opening the chest did two things: it exposed its emptiness and raised the alarm! Kobolds leaped into the room, surprising us, and some mechanical contraption swung hidden bars to close the cage around Frank and Fernando!
The furious Kobolds swarmed upon us. I was immediately bloodied by four solid hits from one group, and another group attacked from the other side of the room. Frank used a “phase step” to escape the cage, and Fernando attempted to viciously mock the Kobolds from his (seemingly) safe spot, still inside the cage.
Frank’s blades easily felled several kobolds and Solophous was able to finish off a few as well. Fernando, again with finite wisdom, tried to use the chest as cover and it closed upon him. Fool.
We discovered that in two places this room had false walls, giving good cover to Kobolds with slings, however, once the camouflage was removed we could see them clearly and they fell to crossbow bolts and arrows, and further attacks from Frank. At one point I was again knocked unconscious, but our healing potions proved to be a superb investment and I was soon back on my feet. Big Rock, however, had also fallen to the numbers and was near death. We managed to aid him before finishing off the last of the Kobolds.
After the fight was over, we had to help Fernando escape from the stupid chest. He did not suffocate (sadly) due to holes in the woodwork, but it took a great cleave from Big Rock’s axe to free him from his own devices. He’s lucky to still have feet!
We pressed deeper into the lair and came to a great room. It had many passageways leading off to barracks, a forge, and some stairs down. There was also a shallow room full of levers, that we later on determined to be the elevator control room. Kobolds worship their dragon master, and happily toil in the depths to gather treasure from the rock for her.
Peering through a banquet hall, we could see into the dragon’s den. There were ranks of kobolds, and what appeared to be a leader or elder, leading them in a chant of prayer or devotion. Luckily, they were very far away and didn’t seem to be paying attention to the far passageways. Elsewhere in the den we could see pools of magma, and light beaming from above indicated that we were indeed deep inside an old volcano.
This dragon had quite a collection of treasure! However, we decided it prudent to avoid annoying a dragon that lives in a volcano – since that likely meant it was a red dragon. We sent Solophous in to retrieve his Item, as he had spotted it on the very top of the treasure pile.
The idea was that he could stealthily climb the treasure pile, then use his Eleadrin phase step skill to escape, as descending the pile was far more difficult than climbing it.
It turns out that he’s a pretty bad thief. I suppose that makes sense, as he wasn’t able to sneak in already once. He was able to be sneaky, and was able to climb the pile, but not at the same time. The kobold leader spotted him, and shouted out many draconic curses that I dare not repeat. However, he did retrieve the “item”, and some of the dragon’s treasure, putting both into a purpose-built chest he had carried along.
We ran. There was some bickering over where, if anywhere, we should make our stand. Some thought we could go back the “other” way, but there were too many unknown traps. We paused in the room with the obelisk, thinking we could stop the kobolds one by one as they came through the ceiling, but again we could see too many ways to be overwhelmed; this is the favorite tactic of kobolds. They even consider themselves expendable, particularly when defending their dragon masters!
In our haste to find somewhere safe, we set off the pressure plates so carefully avoided earlier. Huge wooden rams smashed together, partially blocking the way! One of us would have surely died had we been caught in that.
However, we did remember one key fact: wood burns. So, we lit the beams on fire and fled down the passageway, back to the room with the pit full of ooze.
We set up before the stone door, hoping that the kobolds would open it. I made ready to jam the door open using our convenient head-sized rock.
Sure enough, the door did open, and it was thus jammed. I took on the form of the Willow Sentinel, and marked the unlucky kobold who now faced me as my foe.
The rest of the party assembled behind me, except Frank who was at my left. The kobold attacked him, a terrible mistake, as I invoked the Warden’s Grasp to push it into the pit of ooze! The ooze seemed to be sentient, so I’m glad we didn’t have to get close to it.
We battled our way past some larger kobolds – one had been laying traps, making escape even more difficult; but, we were finally able to get most of the party out.
At this point Solophous decided his skin was worth more than ours and he tried to escape with his spoils. Fernando, however, was not to be outfoxed and he sang a song that made Solophous blunder back into the lair – setting off the dart trap laid by the kobold completely! Every last dart (save for one that had stuck Rorie) was shot into the Eleadrin, and he fell unconscious.
Despite taking a pummeling from the now furious kobolds, we were all able to escape their lair and headed straight back to the castle to collect our reward (and leave Solophous to Farrad’s better judgement).
We presented our case to Farrad and not only received extra payment for exposing the skulduggery, were awarded two magical items for our efforts – a set of gloves to aid climbing, and a set of jesters’ shoes that provide a (comical!) advantage when being pushed around against the will.
We’re going to stay in Farrad Keep for a while yet, as it sounds like our services would be in good demand here.