The Broken Citadel
The 24th day of Arodus, 4713 AR – late afternoon
It is decided to camp in the Spire of the Serpent for the next day; in this way you plan to marshall your strength, and then properly begin your planned penetration of the tunnels beneath the Broken Citadel.
Some of you camp on the ground floor of the ruined building, whilst others settle in the loft above. For his part Raven uses his magic to summon a strange sort of construct: a immobile, spherical structure seemingly crafted out of pure energy. There is room enough within the sphere you all to fit comfortably. It is cool and dry within the sphere, and no one outside the sphere can see within. Raven makes sure to form the sphere so that it appears to be crafted of a material of the same dun color as the surrounding ruins, thus camouflaging it from casual detection. Thusly you settle in, and await the fall of darkness. For obvious reasons you do not light a fire.
The night, when it comes, passes relatively quietly. Guards posted above see several gnoll patrols pass by the ruin, but none attempt to enter. Those in the loft can see the glimmering of torchlight from the large central structure of the Citadel, but little else. With dawn comes a war-horn’s clarion call, and a general mustering of both gnoll and human troops out in the Citadel’s dusty central courtyard.
You watch as the guard mount is posted for the day, and warriors sent to their various places of duty. Then things quiet down, and visiting slavers begin to arrive. Chains of slaves are brought out of the lower dungeons, and the business of the day is started. You wait until just before noon before sneaking out the back of the Spire of the Serpent, and angle around to the East Gate which appears to be less heavily guarded than the entrance by which you entered just the day before. The guards there seem disinterested in you, and do not impede your departure. Soon you have returned to the Jagged Market, and decide to lay low for the rest of the day.
While at the market, you purchase arrows to refill your quivers, and then find a grog shop to visit for the remaining daylight hours. No one seems to take an interest in you, and the day passes quietly enough. As soon as the shadows begin to lengthen, however, you arise, gather your things, and file out silently into the waning daylight. Your intended target: the Citadel’s North Gate.
You wait for several hours after nightfall, just to be certain that the guards of the Citadel will be at a low ebb. Then you approach the now-shuttered gates in the north section of wall, and slink forward with all the guile and stealth at your command. Due to the fact that the Citadel is within the walls of Fort Fang, there are few if any guards posted on the walls of the Citadel. You soon find yourselves at the locked outer doors to the place, and Calla moves forward and unlimbers a set of lock picks from her pack. She kneels in the darkness, and diddles with the lock for a bit. Then you hear the lock snick open. You carefully shoulder the door open, and peer inside.
The chamber beyond is perhaps 20’x20’, and completely empty save for a pair of battered double doors at the far end. These doors, you believe, lead onwards into the gatehouse itself. The chamber is unlit, and appears to be devoid of any other interesting characteristics.
“Calla, wait a moment.” Raven pauses long enough to weave an invisibility charm about Calla. She then slinks inside the darkened chamber, and begins to work at the locked door on the far side. After a moment the rest of you slink in as well, and take up positions on either side of the door. Igmar pauses a moment to listen in, and hears murmured conversation in the strange, sing-song cadence characteristic of the Gnoll language.
There is a dull CLICK as Calla opens this lock as well. Kymrych gives the left hand door a solid push, and together the party rushes into the large chamber beyond, ready for instant combat.
The chamber itself is perhaps 80’x60’, and ill-lit by a single coal-fire about halfway down. Crumbling granite columns hold up a ceiling lost in shadow, and fiery red eyes glare at you from the darkness as the gnoll guards quartered within rouse themselves and prepare for battle.
One gnoll stands just feet from the door you entered through. It hefts the heavy flail it carries, and moves to engage Kymrych. A heartbeat later the chamber explodes into mindless violence. Akorian casts a battle spell, and wounds a distant gnoll. Calla puts a long, thin tube to her lips, and launches a poisoned dart towards another dimly seen opponent. Raven raises his hands, and intones eldritch words of power. The quartet of gnoll warriors seated at the firepit scatter as a burst of electricity erupts amongst them, and sears their flesh. Bowstrings snap, and arrows sing.
Moments later Kymrych parries and thrusts, and separates the head of the gnoll he is fighting from its shoulders. The creature totters and falls, still twitching. Talathel nocks and draws as quickly as he is able; his fingers are a blur as he launches arrow after arrow. Within seconds two of the creatures lay dead with his arrows protruding from their bodies. Meanwhile, Igmar finds himself facing two of the creatures alone. He ducks and parries, scoring a few solid hits. But not enough to defeat either foe. They too spar mightily, and soon the dwarf staggers from the combined damage of several telling hits. Calla also closes to within melee distance of a gnoll, and hooks her scythe in its throat before cutting out and down. Gore fountains, and the creature dies.
That leaves only the two facing Igmar. Erumaren murmurs the words to a powerful spell, and flames erupt from his fingers. The largest of all the gnolls shrieks in agony as his flesh is consumed, and then he too totters and falls. But not before Igmar collapses from the effect of his injuries, thus leaving him open to attack from the last remaining gnoll. The creature turns and surveys the rest of you as you close in on him. His gore-smeared flail clatters to the floor moments later, and the hyena man raises his clawed hands in surrender.
Akorian comes to stand before the captured gnoll. “Kymrych, close and bolt the doors behind us. The rest of you, see if there is anyone else here.”
Raven, Akorian and Talathel summon witch-light to better illuminate the chamber. You then discover that there is a second double door at the far end of the chamber, now barred against entry. You undo the bar, and peer outside, and discover that the portal leads out towards the Citadel’s inner courtyard. You rebar the door, and thus make it that much more difficult for the enemy to come this way in search of you. Meanwhile, Calla uses her druidic magic to bring Igmar back from the brink of death. The dwarf then uses his healing magic to spirit away any lingering wounds left over from the battle. For his part Kymrych sees to it that the gnoll warrior’s hands are bound, and it is gagged so that it cannot call out for aid.
Thusly it is Erumaren who discovers a set of stone steps at the far end of the chamber, leading down. He summons his own ball of witch light, and descends the steps – at the bottom, he finds a jumble of broken stone, and the remains of an archway that was once held fast by a sturdy wooden door. The bits and pieces of eldritch runes on the doorjamb suggest this was the portal mentioned in the dead merchant’s journal; however, the door is missing and the corridor beyond is blocked by mounds of rubble.
Well, almost: peering at the top of the mound of rubble, he sees that there is a tiny, cramped opening there. I appears to be just barely big enough for a small person (a dwarf perhaps, or even a human female) to crawl inside, if they were of a mind to do so.
“Everyone!” he calls. “Come here. I think I’ve found something.”
The rest of you arrive at the bottom of the stairs in short order, and see what there is to see.
“I have an idea. Wait a moment.” Talathel takes up his bow, and casts witch-light upon an arrow. Then he shoots that arrow into the opening. You see the blazing light speed onwards about 30’ before disappearing – apparently that is how far you have to crawl to get to the far side of the blockage.