Flaming Gnome Attack

Tie a Rope to It! White Plume Mountain, part 5.

Flaming Gnome Attack are:
Robelar, Dragonborn Paladin (Jeff)
Tort, Gnome Warlock (Joe)
Vondal, Dwarf Barbarian (Dave)

Accompanied by:
Aethelred Aquilonius, Human Ranger (Elliot)
Garbondor, Half-Orc Monk (Tim)

Whereabouts Unknown:
Fis’Ting, Goblin Thief
Mortaqui, Deva Cleric
Radlum, Half-Orc Assassin
Zoltar, Human Wizard

RIP:
Adamus Aquilonius, Human Bard [dead]
Halan Barnagran, Human Swordmage [dead]
Lokus, Minotaur Avenger [dead]
Cocktoesin, Shifter Druid [dead]
Automatic Johnny, his wolf [dead]
Blade, his wolf [petrified, left for dead]
Rochester, his hawk [fled, presumed dead]

Robelar, Tort and Vondal were all that remained of the adventuring company known as Flaming Gnome Attack. They, along with Aethelred the ranger, lay in an exhausted, scalded, half-drowned, blood-soaked heap in a dark tunnel deep beneath White Plume Mountain. As they untangled themselves and staggered to their feet, they experienced the bitter and unfamiliar taste of defeat. They retreated to the sorceress’s chambers to regroup and plan their next move. The paladin attempted to convince his companions to seek potions or magic that might allow them to open the doors, brave the millions of gallons of boiling water that lay beyond, and recover the bodies of their companions, Halan and Lokus, as well as the artifacts Whelm the hammer and Wave the trident. Perhaps the sphinx or even Thingizzard the bog witch could help…? The others were unconvinced, but they agreed to see what information they could wrest from the sphinx—after a rest.

Aethelred drew first watch, and he saw with his own eyes the monstrous, flaming demons that Halan had described, as they strode past their hiding place toward the valve doors. Water from the boiling lake began to rush back from that direction, and the group considered making a mad dash out of the dungeon before it flooded. But in their present state, an encounter with efreets would mean certain death, so they waited anxiously as the water level rose inch-by-inch. Thankfully, when the water reached ankle-level (or hip-level for Tort), it stopped rising. But they were not out of danger yet, as the efreets were suddenly walking down the corridor directly toward their camp!

Tort and Aethelred took cover in the guard chamber while Robelar and Vondal threw themselves into the pantry, where they attempted to blend in with the hideous husks inside. The demons tossed the bed chamber, and for a few tense moments opened the pantry doors and peered inside. But they departed as they’d arrived, flaming scimitars in-hand and muttering their demonic, eldritch language to each other. When the bold heroes emerged from bravely hiding, they discovered that the beasts had made off with the bodies of the sorceress and their dear old friend Rond Kelfem. They shrugged and went back to sleep.

Later that night, Vondal heard footsteps approaching their hideout once more. He burst into the tunnel and found himself face-to-face with a hooded half-orc. This was Garbonder, known in Fallcrest’s underground fighting circles as “Great Fists”, and known to Flaming Gnome Attack from that moment on as “Grapefruit”. Raised by Tempulic monks outside of Fallcrest, he’d fallen in with an organized crime syndicate before running afoul of its leadership. He’d discovered a connection between the rulers of the Nentir Vale and the criminal underworld, and he’d narrowly escaped death before fleeing to the east. Lost in the foul bog surrounding White Plume Mountain, he’d encountered Thingizzard, who’d told them of FGA’s location (in exchange for a bit of his blood, of course). Having heard of FGA and their defiance of the Baroness and her master the Lord Warden, Garbondor had come looking for them.

Aethelred was wary of this half-orc, understandably so, given that the half-orc traitor Radlum had infiltrated Flaming Gnome Attack some months prior and brought about the death of his brother, Adamus. Tort wanted to know if the monk had a midget under his shirt. In the end, the group allowed the newcomer to stay, for the time being.

Once rested, the party returned to the sphinx and attempted to pry some useful information out of her. Thanks to some keen riddling, they were able to learn a bit more about the strange curse afflicting Tort, Aethelred and Vondal. Shockingly, by reading the scrolls created and stamped by the mad evil wizard Keraptis, the three heroes had brought some doom down upon themselves. The sphinx was elusive about the nature of the curse, but she was very clear about how much time the three had left before their fates were sealed: 30 days for Tort and Aethelred, and only 20 for Vondal.

The sphinx gave them some useful intel about what lay down the final unexplored corridor, which the group ignored with their usual aplomb, and proceeded down the corridor in search of the famed blade Blackrazor and, for three of them, salvation.

After several minutes of marching, they found themselves staring down a corridor that was lined with a succession of copper plates facing one another. After some experimentation, they learned that the plates created some sort of induction field that heated metal. Tort stripped off his armor and accompanied Garbondor, who wore only his monk’s robes, to the far end. There was probably a rope tied to something, at some point.

They reached the far end without incident, but as they turned to call back the all clear to their comrades, they were ambushed by a horde of ghastly ghouls! Robelar and Vondal charged heedlessly down the corridor to the aid of their comrades, but the induction plates destroyed Robelar’s plate mail and Vondal’s life-drinking greataxe—nearly killing both of them in process. Vondal arrived weaponless, dove over Tort, landed on his face and was nearly torn to shreds. Robelar, though completely unarmored and badly injured, was a paladin after all, and the site of these undead abominations sent him into a holy rage. Spewing acid, calling down Bahamut’s thunder, and hewing away with his longsword, the dragonborn knight threw down one enemy after another. Meanwhile, Aethelred was firing away with his longbow, while Tort and Garbondor had gained better positions and were cursing and punching, respectively. And the undead became unundead.

Rounding a corner, the group discovered a pit trap with razor blades at its bottom. Aethelred leapt over the pit but discovered to his horror that the surface of the floor beyond was completely frictionless, which sent him careening into the darkness beyond the group’s torchlight and into another razor-strewn pit ahead. Ropes were tied to objects. Vondal was told to hold the end of said ropes. Tort teleported. Garbondor flew. Robelar strategized. Ropes were tied to other ropes. And the party emerged on the other side and proceeded through the passageway beyond, mostly unscathed.

And into one of the stranger rooms any of them had ever seen. In this otherwise nondescript chamber, a swift stream flowed from a hole in the western wall to another in the norther wall. What was unusual is that the stream was suspended several feet above the floor. Leaning against another wall were several one-man kayaks and oars. Thoroughly intrigued, Tort immediately snatched up a kayak, slung it into the stream, swung himself up and into it with incredible agility, and disappeared into the dark hole in the northern wall with a giggle.

Recovering from their shock, Aethelred, Garbondor and Vondal followed suit, as did Robelar, although he struggled with the craft and found himself upside-down and drowning. The heroes emerged one-by-one into a large natural cavern, where several armed men were waiting to throw nets on them. Tort evaded them easily, beached his craft on the northern bank and launched a furious assault on the attackers. Aethelred, Garbondor and Vondal once again followed suit. Robelar, still struggling to right himself, was caught in a net and pulled to shore.

Aethelred and Garbondor recognized the leader of this rabble as the leader of the notorious Fallcrest-based adventuring group known as Bluto’s Blotters. But even they were surprised when the swordsmen began unleashing fireballs recklessly and calling forth walls of force that sent some of our heroes tumbling back into the river. Despite their surprising magical abilities, the Blotters were dispatched promptly, although Bluto himself proved to be a stout foe—until Aethelred put a lightning arrow into the eye slit of his helmet. Down he went, groaning in agony.

Time for an interrogation. Anybody got any rope?

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