Chapter 6, The Maze Ruins
The party has been in Foxon for the last three weeks keeping a low profile. Over the course of this time, they have grown their esteem and trust with Celia and Zaghain, who have been keeping the party abreast of developments on the Foxon council. Wena Riffolk continues to dominate the council. Her mercenaries, The Hundred, tightly police residents and oversee the building of a wall encircling the town. There is a palpable tension in the air not just on the council but in the streets.
Zaghain and Celia have discovered an informant who may be able to explain where the hobgoblin legions came from and why. They task a portion of the party–Jorg, Asher, and Roben–to meet with this informant and investigate her claims. Begrudgingly, Wena has been convinced by Celia and Zaghain to allow the three party members to bring with them two mercenaries.
In the dark corners of barkeep Shanna Dow’s Hard Oaks Tavern sits a tall, slender woman doing everything she can to blend into the shadows. This is Talice Quavael, a Drow wanderer. She sits guardedly drinking the hood of her cloak pulled up to obscure her slender pointed ears and long silver hair. Her face is freshly scarred with a filthy looking bandage wrapped around her head covering one eye and a portion of her face.
Talice explains to the three how she escaped from the service of Kolo Illrym, a vicious Drow would-be princeling. Specifically, she tells them that news of of Maise Pegoram’s death has sent ripples through Kolo’s organization that are now being taken note of by his lieutenants. Talice came from the Underdark Drow city of Ust Natha, one of the many cities Kolo has been recruiting. However, arriving in Larrissone turned out to be less than she expected leaving her wanting to go home. Unfortunately, Kolo doesn’t look kindly upon those who want to leave his fold. She barely escaped and bears the fresh scars to remind her.
She is looking for a way to return to Ust Natha and believes she has found a way. Within the ruins of the great estate maze the last margrave of Larrissone built, there is a magical forge where Kolo’s underlings are crafting teleport pads and portals. Also within the ruins of this maze, the margrave hid four precious items each guarded by a minotaur. Getting to the center of the maze will reveal to the party the secrets of the portals that have been bringing the hobgoblins to Foxon and on their way they will certainly discover a few treasures. Talice will accompany the party as she desires to return home.
Zarongel‘s Boys, the Goblin Gang
It’s a day and a half journey to the ruins of the maze south of Foxon across the Lazaran River but north of the village of Monton. When the party arrives in the mid-morning, they take a moment sizing up the maze with its sixty foot stone walls towering above them. The ruins are sturdy but definitely in disrepair but aren’t crumbling although there is vegetation growing up the sides of some of the walls.
Focusing his monk power, Asher meditates attempting to find the direct path to the center of the maze. Although not able to find an exact path, he is able to conjure a rough image of the entire maze. While not precise, it gives Asher a rough understanding of where they have to go. He quickly creates a couple of sketches on some parchment of his imaging of the maze:
As the party moves thought the maze, they stay attentive. Jorg uses a bit of chalk to mark their progress on the walls they pass every ten or twenty feet. Their caution pays off as they hear around one of the corners the bickering of six goblins and the growling snarls of their three worg mounts. The party decides to try to draw the goblins away, so the group can get by them. Roben launches a couple of crossbow bolts in a high arch over the maze wall in front of them hoping the goblins will go to investigate. Unfortunately, the goblins do take note of the sound of the bolts landing but they do not change their position. They do however turn their backs to the party’s direction leading the party to decide to do a surprise attack.
These are the members of the goblin gang calling itself Zarongel’s Boys. They are all stronger than average goblins who have been pillaging the county for some time. Gik, Traagaar, and Jovec are three loathsome goblins that decided long ago to team up and rob the world blind. They have been less than successful. But as they’ve journeyed they’ve developed a reputation among goblins and non-goblins alike as a rather dastardly bunch. As such, they’ve recruited some more deplorables to their ranks…
Asb is a psychotic fighter with murder constantly on his mind. Were it not for the loyalty he feels he owes Traagaar, he would most likely slaughter the entire gang in its sleep. However, Traagaar keeps him on a tight leash.
A poacher by trade, Wregs roamed Larrissone’s woodlands looking to pinch as much game as he could from the region’s nobles repeatedly landing himself in jails throughout the county. He joined the gang after a particularly ‘fun’ prison break.
Fancying himself a deadly assassin, Drakt is perhaps the most adept pickpocket in Larrissone. He makes a big show of being a devil-may-care cad but in reality he’s a craven thief always on the lookout for more coin. The six goblins and their three worg mounts are tougher and smarter than the usual goblin riff-raff and have been exploring the maze ruins for a couple of weeks now looking for treasure.
The party gets a jump on the goblins. Asher moves quickly pummeling Gik. Jorg sends some volleys from his handbow piercing Jovec’s armor. Before sending the accompanying mercenaries in with their pikes, Roben casts Burning Hands doing significant fire damage to two of the worgs, Asb, and Traagaar while killing Drakt outright. The mercenaries and Talice move in closer hitting Asb again and the unburnt worg. When the goblin gang move to face the party, they do errant and low damage. The party then strike down Gik and kill Wregs. Having taken major losses, the goblins mount the worgs and retreat disappearing deeper in the the maze.
The party run after them to make sure the goblins really are fleeing and not just looking to get a better position. Asher being the fastest among the party is able to watch as the goblins disappear around a far bend in the maze. The party check themselves over and continue on moving more towards the center of the maze rather than pursuing the gang. After a couple of twists and turns, the party find themselves in a wider than average corridor and just ahead of them is a hulking minotaur sniffing the air having caught the scent of blood and burning hair.
The Horned Guardians
There are four minotaurs stalking the ruins of the maze guarding relics of the margrave’s. Each patrol a quadrant of the maze generally staying out of each other’s territory.
In the Southwest quadrant where the party find themselves, the minotaur Fury patrols the corridors of the maze dreaming of finding and killing interlopers.
Again the gift of surprise on their side, the party decides to attack the minotaur outright. However, Fury’s natural armor makes their initial volleys relatively inconsequential. When Fury turns to face the party, he’s hemmed in by Asher and Roben as he swings his great axe he does significant damage to Asher. Jorg lands some arrows from distance but the others are generally unable to land any significant blows on Fury. However, using his racial ability of Hellish Rebuke Asher unleashes a reactionary attack severely burning the minotaur.
Aflame and staggered, Fury is in a precarious position. Jorg moves fast getting behind the beast stabbing him deep in the back and slashing across his throat. Fury releases a wild bellow dropping to his knees then into a heap of smoldering, bloody muscle.
Having killed this minotaur, they search his body finding the treasure he was tasked to guard, a circlet of blasting.
The Center of the Maze
Having taken the brunt of the attack from the minotaur Fury, Asher drinks a healing potion and humbly makes it clear to the party he may have to surrender being on point for the group. As they continue on, they make their way round several corners hearing the sound of another minotaur but luckily having it pass by them. The group moves quickly and soon find themselves at the center of the maze.
Within the center is a building of ruined pillars in which a lone Drow works at the magical forge. Around him are un-activated portal archs and circles inscribed with runes as well as teleport daises, some looking functional and others looking like they have yet to be activated. The party is fortunate the sun is still high in the sky, and they are distant and obscured enough the Drow doesn’t notice them.
With nothing to lose, the party attacks the Drow. Praag is a huge, muscular Drow working diligently at the mystical forge to create the portals and daises required of him. Shirtless he stands over an anvil striking down on it repeated with a great hammer he holds in his hands covered with massive gauntlets. His body is covered in runes and scars.
Moving fast and fortunately, the party is able to land significant blows on Praag before he’s able to know what is going on.
After the party’s initial attack, he smirks. Turning to face them, Praag mutters a welcome in a deep voice. He bashes his fists together glaring at the party as he menacingly spits the command, “Come.”
Running up on the mercenaries, Praag swings his Vicious Warhammer but the mercs are able to dodge it. From distance, Asher throws several darts at the massive Drow while Roben and Jorg get in closer dealing hard damage. The mercenaries now in close quarters draw their longswords landing major blows on Praag. Although Praag is able to strike several members of the party with his hammer, he’s unable to focus his effort and push them back. Close to being overrun, Praag uses his racial ability to cast Darkness. In the black confusion, he slips through one of the activated teleports or portals.
The spell dissipates almost immediately upon Praag’s departure. With the Drow vanquished, the party stands looking around the ruins. Talice goes from portal to portal reading the runes looking for one to send her back to Ust Natha. She discovers a teleport dais that will take her home. She begrudgingly thanks the party saying she hopes to never see them again, steps up onto the dais, and disappears in a sudden burst of eerie black flame.
Asher, Roben, and Jorg now debate what do to about the remaining teleports and portals. Rather than leave the activated teleports (3) and portals (2) intact, they decide to destroy and block them up. The five spend the next few hours smashing the teleport daises and several of the ruined columns, then using the rubble to block up the portals. As evening descends, the party makes their way back out of the maze as quickly as possible following Jorg’s chalk marks. Fortunately, they don’t encounter another minotaur or see the goblin gang again. Once outside, they move well into the forest to make camp for the night.