Merlokep – Qur’draak king
21 Fiann, 3032 PA
The descent through the rocky cavern was treacherous. Even with the aid of a rope, Boris and Sonia fell. Luck was on their side and they escaped any serious harm. The party found themselves in a large natural cavern dotted with large stalagmites. They find the remains of some kind of winged creature, although it appeared to have been made from stone, and hammering echoes through from a passage to the north. While the group collect themselves and discuss their course of action, the sound of mining stops and footsteps hurry away.
Aware that their entrance had been detected, the heroes cautiously moved forward into another large chamber. This one contained mine-works, and abandoned tools lay scattered about the floor. Noting nothing of interest besides an exposed iron vein, they continued onward.
The passage narrowed considerably, forcing the party to proceed in single file until it opened into another natural chamber. The floor and walls were covered in a sticky, foul smelling slime, the source of which was immediately obvious. Three huge, pale toads with massive fangs stood in the middle of the chamber. From the back of the central slurk, a Qur’draak warrior issued a ringing challenge and spurred his mount forwards into combat.
The tight quarters at the mouth of the tunnel meant that only Raina and Boris could bring their weapons to bear in melee as the slurks charged. The combat was furious but the toads were cut down by sword, hammer, and a hail of arrows. Given the close confines, it was not unexpected that some of the party’s arrows missed their mark and struck the fighters at the front of the party, although no lasting harm was inflicted.
Fearing that some kind of elusive treasure may be buried in the disgusting leavings of the slurks, Damian and Dymas set about thoroughly searching the chamber. The rest of the party debated about which direction to take next. Once the decision had been made to head north, the pair of artificers scouted to the south. They returned after some time, having found nothing, and the heroes moved north, deeper into the Qur’draak lair.
At a crossroads of tunnels, the party once again stopped to debate which direction to follow. They moved west into a long, musty corridor that sloped downwards before ending in a recent cave in. A pair of Qur’draak bodies lay on the floor and a hastily written warning was scrawled on the wall:
“Darky-dark below, and whispers soft and low. Evil lurks, its lip-less mouth smirks. Do not go! Only death below!”
They spent some time digging at the rock-fall only to discover that it stretched for several meters and would require more than a day to clear. Heading back to the junction, they were surprised by an allip. Its immaterial form floated through the wall, the mad whispers sending tendrils of enticement into the minds. The Chaos spirit, fickle as all its kind, did not bother the party further and disappeared into the far wall.
Back at the crossroads, Kerrdremak awaited the party. Telling the heroes that they are close to their goal, he also warns them that they should head back south to find Grugakrug, one of Merlokep’s lieutenants. The mystic seemed concerned that leaving a powerful warrior at their backs will make the confrontation with the King more difficult. The party agrees and Kerrdremak departs to prepare for the final battle.
The Truescale King
Fearing treachery, and feeling the pressure of time, the party ignore Kerrdremak and head north. The tunnel opens up into a large natural chamber. Stalagmites thrust up from the ground like huge stone fangs, their shadows dancing in the light cast by the lava pit that divides the chamber in two. Qur’draak form a battle line between the natural fortifications and a stone bridge that spans the lava pit. Archers nock arrows from their positions on the far side and the bridge.
Merlokep himself, flanked by a trio of bodyguards, stands on a raised platform at the far end. The huge dwarf, clad in mail and festooned in gold jewellery, cuts an impressive and frightening figure. At his feet is Mikra Jabbs, one of the abducted children. Boris stepped forward and issued a challenge of personal combat to the king. Merlokep’s reply was dismissive, as he offered them an honoured place at his table before they submit to having their hearts ripped out for the glory of the Truescale tribe. He appeared genuinely shocked to be turned down but his incredulousness soon gave way to towering rage and he screamed for his warriors to attack.