Session XI - PART IIHaving discovered that they are under a murder indictment by parties unknown, and that Drusilla's family/clan are not happy with her the party determines it must find the deed to the Old Brewery and hand it over to the corrupt Fist Officer Lieutenant Tsu to escape trial and execution.
Huxley McTeeth - (m) Fighter (Lvl 2) - Short, strong, grizzled, armored, and wielding a magic white saber from the tomb of a Rocket Man.
Grimgrim "The Seared of Monstcrom"- (m) Cleric (Lvl 3) - Recently extra fervent. pig masked.
Druizzilnax (aka Drusilla) - (f) Elf (Lvl 1), physically frail, spear wielding, hideous armor wearing and from a society of militarized cannibals.
Nell Hassenphafler "The Topstown Gore Bird" - (f) Assassin (Lvl 3), Scarred face, sinewy physique, fancy purple metal dress and poison hatpins.
Lemon Jackson, Evoker - (m) Magic-User (Lvl 2) Gun totting & hell-bolt flinging,
Gurgur, Greymol - (m,m) Moktar, Moktar Holy Tom, (Lvl1,Lvl1) Moktar henchmen , serious catbrawn.
The boarded window pivots smoothly on hidden bearings and within a mere moments the worried band is back inside the Old Brewery again. The room they enter is remarkably clean as if it had recently been scrubbed clean, and indeed a mop bucket full of filthy bloody water stands in the corner.
Opening the door cautiously the party peers into the room that hold the Brewery's central stair. Directly opposite them is the former guard post, it's door now ripped off its hinges and the interior charred with fire. Close examination of the guard post reveals signs of violence and a pile of burnt corpses.
Shaking their heads at the violence of gang warfare, the party returns to the stairs and shifts the steel plate to descend into the Brewery Depths. The warm, tidy brick chamber below is decorated with glass cases and daguerreotypes in glass frames. The East wall has a dark passage and to the West is barred by a steel grate. Examining the displays the party finds that it's a museum of sorts dedicated to the brewery's operational days. The Weedstone Family is featured prominently, and most of the photos depict the mildly unwholesome process of making mushroom beer. Grimgrim (Wisdom Check's are good for noticing things) finds one strange photo of a young Weedstone in what appears to be a large cavern lit with sodium lamps hugging some sort of large, white plated fish to his chest. The cavern in the photo contains a pool and great rafts of giant mushrooms, growing in wooden boxes. A peeling label says 'Brewery Mascot "Bleachy Pete" and Master J. Weedstone'.
There is nothing of value in museum, at least that the adventurers can find (A sealed tube of Weedstone Special Yeast was overlooked). The party examines both exits, the Eastern one is a newer wooden door with a well done painting of "Lady Luck" reclining in a cocktail glass and the legend "Live to Win, Win to Live" in gilt letters below. The Western entrance is guarded by a huge steel portcullis, rusted, and covered in a lair of filth. A wheel on the South Western wall appears to be a likely method for opening the gate.
DENS of THE HALF-MEN
Turning quickly, a small hatch in the left wall opens and three more mad eyed halflings scurry out in front of the party. As the adventurers try to decide a course of action one of the rear halflings shouts "Get that meat out of it's can, my children will have elf liver tonight". Charging forward his spear manages to find the underarm hole in Drusilla's armor, and she gasps in pain. Writhing like a gaffed fish on the halfling's spear, Drusilla's plate armor still manages to deflect the blows of four more halfling attackers, Gurgur is less lucky and receives a wicked blow to the shin. Drusilla passes out from pain, her lifeblood rapidly gushing out of an arterial wound. The three halflings in front of the party batter Hux's shield brutally stunning his arm, but with them bunched in front of him, they have lined themselves up for a mighty swing of his ancient saber. With the deadly accuracy of a trained fighter facing overeager and unskilled opponents, a single sweeping slash beheads two of his attacker and disembowels the third in an apocalypse of blood. Gurgur hacks the spear wielding halfling that has badly injured Drusilla down, while Nell's crossbow bolt pins another to the wall. Lemon fires two rounds from his pistol, and gives a halfing a bloody flesh wound. Grimgrim dragging Drusilla back plugs her wound with his finger and again calls on Monstcrom jolting her to wakefulness and feeling her arteries fused back together in a flash of black holy flame. Drusilla is ready to fight again, but the side of her body has been seared, as if tattooed, with Monstcrom's holy sign - a skull holding an ax in its teeth.
The party begins to retreat towards the grate, and the five halflings behind them succumb Drusilla's pink mist of sleep. Noise from around and in front of the party is unnerving, as in the near distance a drum begins to slowly beat. Nell and Drusilla both murder the slumbering fiends as they walk back towards the portcullis, and the party makes it under the gate, just as a horde of cannibal halflings rush down the narrow hall towards them. Lemon fires his pistol again, and a sneering face full of filed teeth splatters into gore before his bullet. The gate slams down as the Moktars work the wheel furiously, and Nell rolls a Molotov cocktail under grate as it closes. The oil bomb explodes just in front of the charging halflings, but fails to incinerate any and when the fire dies down, the cannibals are gone.
THE GRUNKY PROPOSITION
Deciding that inbred halfling hordes are best avoided, the party cautiously opens the other door only a large chamber, filled with tables and chairs. A bar stands to one side with a large chalk board behind it. The chalk board contains a series of names like "Pit Town Petey" and "Brutal the Moktar" with what appear to be odds written next to them. Examining the bar the party finds an empty cashbox and a locked cabinet. The cabinet is bashed open to reveal a variety of liquor bottles, far too many to carry. The adventurers select several of the more high value bottles each a fill their packs. An archway leads out into a large dimly let area beyond the bar and as the party enters it they realize it's some kind of arena. Bleachers surround a deep pit the bottom, revealed by a ray of light from Lemon's lantern, 40' below and filled with rubble and a large stone tank of water. Along the edge of the bleachers is a tiny wooden hut, perched precariously on the edge of the pit.
Lemon shouts out "Hello in the hut?" and a clattering comes from within, shortly a huge man wearing some kind of white scale mail and a white leather kilt emerges from the hut holding up a hand. "Pits not open lads and lasses." "Come back Saturday for a real show".
Lemon responds, "What's in the pit?"
The man laughs and hollers "grunkies and more grunkies! - welcome to the grunky pit!"
"Well can we go into the pit?"
At this point the big man laughs even harder and say "So eager to wager, if you've got the cash I suppose I can offer a game - things have been slow since that mess upstairs."
The brute introduces himself as "Unlucky" and lets out a long ululating call of "Grunnnnn kkieeeeeeeee!" while racing over to the hut to turn a wheel that opens a gate in the side of the pit. His call lights several purple discs fixed in the ceiling and floods the pit with a purplish light that the floor is littered with bones big and small and scraps of clothing.
Unlucky offers two wagers, and as he's talking numerous mottled and albino grunkies begin to sidle into the pit proper. The first wager involves tossing a baby grunkie into the pit and betting gold on it's survival and acceptance by the grunkie pack vs. it being torn limb from limb. Since the players don't carry lizard apes on them this game is unavailable.
The second wager is more dangerous, with a wager of 50GP a PC will be lowered into the pit to face the grunkies alone. The grunkies are sure to attack, and it'll be a nasty fight, but for each round in the pit the fighter will "earn" 10GP. After 20 rounds Unlucky will pull the fighter up. No assistance may be offered once the fighter is in the pit beyond encouragement, but the fighter or his friends may ask Unlucky to haul the fighter up at any time, and the fighter may bring whatever he wants into the pit.
Huxley thinks this sounds like a good chance to prove his badassery, everyone else thinks it sounds like a terrible idea. Huxley pays Unlucky 50GP and is lowered into the pit. The Grunkies, including two larger "Grunky Kings" being to whoop and holler waiting directly below where Huxley will land. Hux shouts "More rope" and swings for the wall, momentarily confusing the reptilian horde. Landing Huxley is able to fend off the attacks of the first wave of four grunkies with ease but his return blow only spits one of the things. The rounds continue with Huxley bitten and torn by the Grunky King in the second round of combat, but able to kill five grunkies in a sweeping retaliatory blow. At one point Huxley is covered in grunkies, but he is able to smash several against the wall, and given a brief respite when he guts one of the kings. After only seven rounds the fighter asks to be hauled up, and Unlucky quickly tugs him to safety.
The big man laughs and returns Huxley's gold along with four platinum pieces say "Nice fight there fellow - you sure put a lot of them down, but in my experience the key is keeping the pack hemmed in and the kings away from you." He helps Huxley bandage is worst wounds and suggests that the party return the Saturday after - with Huxley being offered a place in the line up of grunkie fighters.
The pit empties out quickly when Unlucky dims the lights with the grunkies snarling and gobbling as they drag their own dead back into the grating. The king retreats in a stately manner with his dead companion over one shoulder and licking his sharp teeth with a long frog like tongue.
Hux is almost better after a bandaging and a a shot of the high quality booze from the bar. He shares a belt of liquor with Unlucky and asks if the pit keeper knows whats beyond the grate. Unlucky responds that yes, the area beyond the grate is a large cavern, filled with life, mostly grunkies, as the cannibalistic pests will quickly displace any other vermin. Unlucky thinks the cave used to be a mushroom farming area, but hasn't been in it for a long while. The party expresses interest in exploring the cave and Unlucky says it could be arranged - he'll even watch the grate if they pay him some coin and a bottle of hooch. Hux gives Unlucky the 50GP back and offers him a nice bottle of brandy.
Before lowering them into the pit Unlucky hands Huxley a whistle carved from bone and tells him to keep blowing it in the grunky cave as it may calm the grunkies. The party descends by a rope and enteres the damp caverns beyond the grate.
The caves floor is thick with loam and rotted mushroom material, and a bit slimy while the air is misty with damp, spores and the heady scent of fungal growth. Shapes can be spotted moving through the dense mushroom growth on all sides as the adventurers stride forward down the sloping floor blowing Unlucky's whistle. Even with the whistle a pair of grunkies begin to follow the PCs as they pace towards a clump of luminescent fungi in the near distance. Soon the grunkies are joined by several more and a pack has begun to form around the party. They are almost at the glowing fungus and can now see a large pool of standing water next to it, when a wild gibberign bursts from the mushrooms to the East followed by a Grunky King beating its chest in rage. Nine more grunkies trail after thier King and the party faces attack by twenty two grunkies. Lemon throws sleep at the largest mass of grunkies and fourteen are stunned by his shockwave of negative energy. Grimgrim steps forward to battle the King as Nell's crossbow bolt whizzes into it's arm doing little apparent damage. Huxley clashes his shield to his sword and tries to cut down more grunkies, but cannot seem to land a blow on the darting lizard monkeys. The Grunky King lands a viscious blow to Grimgrim's helmet, and another grunky crawls under his armor and begins to savage him. On his knees Grimgrim manages to entangle the Grunky King's ankle with his flail and trip it so that Drusilla and Nell can finish it with spear and crossbow bolt. A grunky manages to leap past the trio battling the king and tears into Lemon's face, but he shoots it off before it can do too much damage. Huxley kills three grunkies with a sweeping blow and the remaining five are killed the next round, including the one dispatched by Grimgrim bellyflopping onto it as it gnawed his chest. More rustling can be seen in the mushrooms on all sides and the party quickly advances to the empty area around the pool. Bandaging and a short breather restore Lemon to health and help Grimgrim's wounds. Meanwhile Drusilla begins to sir the bottom of the murky pool with her spear and Nell watches the Grunkies that begin to gather in the distance.
Suddenly something bursts from the loan near the pool and grabs Nell's arm breaking it with a sickening crunch. It appears to be a huge, armored fish and it's trying to drag the Assassin back into the pool. Grimgrim shouts "Bleachy Pete!" and rushes to try to pull Nell free. The Assassin drives her poisoned saber into the fishes neck, and the wound begins to smoke as distilled spider venom raises horrbile blisters in the albino monster's skin. The fish drops Nell as Lemon unloads a bullet into its tail and Drusilla stabs it with her spear, tearing up a flipper. The huge fish turns on Drusilla but can't make it to her, as Huxley slashes it viciously. Nell's thrown poisoned pin hits the fish but doesn't seem to effect it any further. With a gasp the wounded monster rolls into the pool and disappears into the murky depths. Splinting Nell's arm helps her recover some, searching the area around the pool reveals nothing and probing the poll only stirs up more murk.
None of the adventurers dare enter the water with Bleachy Pete still on the lose so they dash towards the grate leading out of the cavern, trailed by angry grunkies. When they are at the gate lemon turns and casts his final sleep spell thinning out the mass of grunkies behind the party but causing a rush by another Grunky King and six of the little beasts. Nell shoots the King and Drusilla stabs it but even together they fail to kill the lizard monkey. The battle is quickly over despite the party's exhaustion, and they make it to the gate with no further incident.
Unlucky pulls them up and asks what was beyond the gate and they tell him about the giant fish. He shakes his head in wonder. The party says they may return to the grunky fights and that someone from the new management may be by soon.
On the way out the adventurers debate about what to do, if they should burn the place down per Tsu's instructions since the party has failed to find the deed. Ultimately the party decides they don't want to help Tsu, and aren't massacring any of the poor folks on the first floor. They do return to the Den of Thieves however, finding the from door ajar and the guard room inhabited, by several men in leather armor with rusty short swords who let the party by this a drunken nod. The men do not appear to be in anyone's employ, just simple vagabonds - tougher and better armed than most of the wretchedly poor.
Upon entry the Den is unchanged - loud, filthy and revolting, packed with Denethix's worst off. The crowd appears to recognize the PC's and are less aggressive than previously. Huxley produces several gold coins and states "Is there a leader among you?"
The crowd is silent for a few seconds and then melts away from a raged old man with wild hair and rheumy eyes. The stranger motions to the party and as they approach they realize he smells incredibly foul, worse even then the chranal reek of the halfling warrens. He croaks out "whassa wahdda u want?" and the party replies "these people must move, a man has paid us to move them and he is very dangerous." The derilects feral eyes suddenly fill with intelligence and malice and he growls "Oh these people will not be moving, they are consecrated, this whole building is consecrated, and I am it's priest." He then turns to Grimgrim and say "Yes, novice, I am Holt Leather, priest and chosen of the god Charix, king of the castoff, deity of hopeless poverty."
Taken aback the party say Grimgrim says "No, I serve Monstcrom, Axe Handed God of Dooms!" Leather gurgles again, and declares in sonorous almost priestly tones "No, my son, you had best serve all the gods, not just Monstcrom ... and Monstcrom has no malice for Charix, the gods do not stand for the wholesale slaughter of thier laity."
Grimgrim is strangely convinced and mumbles something about seeing what he can do, not willing to fight the cops and how Holt had best beware of Lt. Tsu. Holt again laughs and says - oh "Tsu doesn't scare us: the old Necromancer, The Prince of Muggers and I...run along", and with that Holt tosses a battered Fist badge with the mark of a Sergeant thaumaturge on it at the feet of the party.
The Adventurers return home with little to show beyond spectacular bruises, Nell's broken arm, a healthy respect for grunkies and enough high quality booze to get them all very drunk - which seems like a capital idea.
Note: Cleave Rules - Hux's character asked about them, so here's the one I use - on a lethal strike against an opponent of 1 HD or less lower than the fighter, he may cleave into another opponent facing him. There's no limit to the number of opponents that may be struck this way, except the standard limit of two- four opponents making a frontal attack or ten surrounding. As such it makes sense for a fighter with a +4 to hit/dam like Hux to get himself absolutely surrounded by AC 8 1/2 HD grunkies that need a 19 or 20 to hit him (though they can as evidenced in the grunky pit).