TSM Update: The Gathering Storm


…our heroes moved to take on Zanzibar and (presumably) Eyebite. Throm led the way out of the Vault of the Throne, and back through the great Hall of History. Along the way, Tiresius, the Secretary joined the party.

The militia, with their increasing retinue (Alamein, the centaur; Attickus, the ranger; Throm, the Seguran dwarf and Tiresius) followed Throm’s direction back along their path to the great chamber where they had previously slipped past the line of Orc drummers. The heroes dispatched the drumming group who had been frantically pounding away prior to their demise.

Throm led the group further. At the end of a hallway, a large steel door was being guarded by an ogre and orc in chainmail. The heroes dispatched the orc and Throm, in Stone Giant shape held the ogre at bay and tossed him clear once the party was through the steel door. The door was then secured from the inside.

Beyond the door were two similar passages, each festooned with murder holes and capped by a similar steel door. As the heroes made their way down the passage, an oddly uniform series of attacks began: crossbow bolts fired at those who passed, with an interval of clicks and clacks and then another volley of bolts would be unleashed. The militia sustained some damage, but managed to make their way through. The Warden’s Key, once again, proved crucial.

A single chainmail-clad orc spotted the opened door and dropped the rods he bore in either hand, linked by fine wires to some mechanism on each side of the hallway. The orc attempted to flee, but Tia pounced and struck him down before he could take more than a step or two.

The rods were in some way tied into crossbows mounted to platforms in spaces behind the walls of the hallway, positioned in front of the murder holes. Each crossbow was fed via a steel “magazine” and the firing and reloading process — part mechanical, part magical were controlled by the rods held by the orc. The following hallway was configured identically. However, the militia devised a tactic whereby Tia, made Invisible by a spell from Norm, crept down the hallway and surprised the orc operating the automated firing platforms. The orc was quickly overwhelmed.

Throm warned that the path now lead to an ever-broadening passage that emerged into a wide stone stair leading to a “Control” area (per Tiresius) and side stairwells that descended into the mining operation proper.
Norm had made contact with the Kruthik swarm, which was nearby and awaiting his instruction. He could see through the creatures’ eyes that ten or so orcs commanded a few dozen dwarves in two areas at the base of the descending stairs. The militia planned to advance, take the rightmost stairs down, and with help from the Kruthiks, defeat the orcs and free the dwarves on that side, then repeat on the other.

However, as the militia approached the staircase, they realized that a small orc contingent was holding the stairs leading up and would be an obstacle to descending either the left or right staircase. The heroes were able to close within 50 feet of the nearest orcs and unleash attacks before spotted. A volley of arrows and spells, followed-up by charging attacks from the speedy Tovlakov and the galloping Alamein, with Dain astride, crushed this orc force with hardly a blow falling the heroes’ way.

Next came twin assaults on the orc forces at the base of the stairs. However, as the militia carefully advanced on the now-alerted foes downstairs, Norm unleashed the Kruthiks, who boiled forth like an unstoppable tide and within moments had killed the orcs and begun to feast.

Many of the freed dwarves joined the heroes, as did the Kruthiks. Those dwarves too feeble to shape-change were left behind to assist the wounded dwarves lying about in the mines.

This new juggernaut task force, the militia, twenty-or-so Seguran dwarves in Stone Giant form, Attickus, Alamein, Tiresius and the Kruthik swarm moved up the stairs to a great set of double doors beyond which, if the incessant drumming was any omen, the remaining enemy force had gathered in defense.

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