S08E06 – Mountain Caves

Previously on Zhymballa

The heroes arrive at Pelor’s Academy and they convince Mabur, the headmaster, to lend them some paladins in exchange of the heroes finding out what happened to two missing brothers who should have arrived days ago. The heroes start the search right away because of the heavy snowstorm that is buffeting the region.

During their search, the heroes find a cave with a pentagram and poisonous plants but with no people. Tracks near that cave, though, lead the heroes to a second and trap-riddled cave inhabited by a half-ogre called Udak and his pack of wolves. The heroes start fighting the wolves but as the battle progresses Salazar falls unconscious and Udak enters the scene.

UDAK GONE

As soon as Salazar goes down, Trent moves the wolf spirit he summoned earlier on top of the paladin’s body. Soon the paladin regains enough hit points to get back up and fight the half-ogre and the wolves that had moved onto Bharash and had rendered him unconscious. Trent then moves the spirit on top of Bharash bringing him back alive, and the rest of the group focuses all its attacks on one enemy at a time, taking down first Udak, and then the three wolves that were left.

Exploring the cave

With the threat gone, the heroes explore one of the two remaining unexplored rooms and find the Lowoack brothers, Monkirk and Bronkirk. They also find someone boiling on a huge pot. After providing first aid to the brothers and waking them up, they find out that the half-cooked man in the pot was Verona, one of their two servants, and someone who had been taking care of the brothers since they were born. The other servant was eaten three days ago.

The two brothers appear to be in shock, especially Bronkirk, the brother with the missing leg. Monkirk, with some difficulty, tells the heroes how they got attacked by wolves on their way to the academy, how they fled into the mountains and got into a cave, how they saw a prominent Ridgeport dwarf merchant talking to a skeleton with fancy clothes through a hole in the air on top of a pentagram, how they then got captured by the merchant’s thugs and left to die tied to a tree outside the cave, and finally how Udak and his wolves found them and brought them to this cave.

With two rooms left to explore, Trent ventures first into the room from which a hissing sound can be heard: he approaches the room, he throws a torch to the middle, and a large constrictor snake drops from the roots on the ceiling. Before the snake has any chance to do anything, Trent electrocutes it and Salazar finishes it by poking it with his longsword. Other than skin shedding, bones and now the corpse of the snake, there is nothing else in the room.

The group then decides they will spend the night in the cave and have snake for dinner. But first, Til and Bharash explore the remaining room accessible via a knee-deep flooded corridor. There they find a wooden box containing a deck of cards, a cape that seems to change its look based on the wearer’s wishes, a metallic box with a beautiful necklace full of gems, and some gold. The diligent looters tell nothing about the findings to the rest of the group.

The fight isn’t over!

While they are getting ready to cook the snake, a terrible roar fills the air: the wandering yeti that Trent spotted days ago appears to have found the cave. The group sets up an ambush involving the boiling pot and one of the bear traps from the entrance. They lay them out in the corridor coming into the room where they found the brothers and they all hide.

When the yeti arrives to the previous room with the dead wolves and Udak, it starts eating them and leaving the heroes alone. Bharash, however, feeling giddy, shouts at the yeti from his hiding place “Hey, hello there!”. The rest of the group thinks things that should be left unwritten, and then the yeti appears on the corridor. He steps on bear trap, gets itself restrained by it. And immediately after that, Trent casts his Entangle spell covering the whole corridor with thick vines and roots restraining the Yeti, again, and Salazar, who was standing too close to the entrance. The vines topple the cauldron and “Verona’s stew” spills over the floor burning the yeti.

On the yeti’s turn, he gazes at Trent chillingly, but the gaze attack fails, and the yeti fails to free itself. Bharash sets the yeti’s ass on fire with his bonfire, Davos showers it with arrows, and on the next round, Trent hits it once again leaving him damaged enough for Til to finish it with a powerful and well-placed arrow.

The group decides to add fried yeti to their dinner menu and finally take some rest.

Back to the academy

The next morning, after Bharash melts down the pile of snow completely covering the entrance, the group hikes back to the monastery safely.

Trent and Salazar guide the group swiftly through the snowstorm, which is still raging, and through the completely white mountain forest. When the heroes arrive at the monastery everyone is deeply impressed. Mabur gifts the heroes with a scroll granting them one favor from anyone associated with the order of Pelor, and he also gives them a potion of healing, the Lowoack brothers express again their gratitude, and Iuta showers them with congratulations.

Resting at the academy

The heroes decide to rest at the academy for a few days to recover from their injuries and to wait for the snow storm to abate. During that time the whole group visits the library where Til and Bharash find out that Mabur belonged to a group of nine paladins. At one point one of paladins turned to the dark side, and the other eight had to chase him down and imprison him. Salazar finds a book of recipes that includes a “Yeti a l’Orange” recipe, and Trent finds information about the ruined monastery of Ulaa: it’s the resting place of the knight who ordered its construction, the courageous Sir Orvidd Graycrest. Trent also finds out that the monastery has a self-destruct mechanism that can flood the entire underground complex, and that the mechanism is hidden in the hanging pits area where the heroes rescued the prisoners the last time they were there.

During this time the heroes are busy: Til also visits Iuta to identify the magic items they gathered at the second cave; Salazar decides to pay his respects to Pelor at the chapel; Trent spends some time with the two paladins, Hovug Moonbreaker, and Izel Tlaloc, who are going to accompany them; Til inspects the glowing rock that illuminates the tower and its surrounding areas 247 and unsuccessfully tries to get a similar stone for himself; and Trent, also unsuccessfully, tries to get more info from Mabur about his old order of paladins.

One of the mornings Bharash ends up attuning to the necklace they looted but which had no clear magical power. Later that morning, when Bharash arrives to the mess hall, he approaches Mabur and tells him, with the most seductive voice that a dragonborn can command:, “I fall in love with you every time I look into your beautiful eyes.” The jaws of the rest of the group fall, and they immediately excuse their friend. Bharash doesn’t know what to say, he just had to tell Mabur that, that’s all he knows.

Nayax Premror

The day before the heroes are set to leave, Mabur calls them. The leader of the dragonborn mercenaries, Nayax Premror, is at the academy and he wants his comrades, the two dragonborn that the heroes captured earlier, freed, and Mabur wants nothing to do with this. After a very violent discussion at the edge of turning into nasty combat, Mabur proposes that the dragonborn don’t attack the heroes while they finish their mission at the ruined monastery, and that once they are done the heroes will go with the dragonborn to meet Falgrom, the merchant who hired the dragonborn, at Ridgeport and resolve the the situation. Iuta confirms that both parties are truthful in their intentions to stick to the pact, and with that the dragonborn prisoners are released and the mercenaries leave the academy.

Grounded

That same afternoon, a regular visitor arrives, sees Salazar on his way to say hi to Mabur and, soon after that, Salazar is called into Mabur’s office. The headmaster has found out about Salazar’s past of robbery and road assaults, and offers him to either renege from being a paladin, or go through a 30 days soul purification program at the academy. Salazar begs pardon, agrees to go through the program, and notifies the rest of the group that he’s grounded.

Featured characters

The heroes (level 3)

  • Bharash: male dragonborn sorcerer.
  • Dawn: male wood elf ranger.
  • Salazar Astorio: male human paladin.
  • Til Grassthorn: male halfling rogue.
  • Trent Moonhorn: male human druid.

NPCs

  • Bronkirk Lowoack: son of a Ridgeport noble gone missing in the mountains.
  • Davos Trickfoot: male halfling rogue, best friend of Til.
  • Falgrom: dwarf merchant who wants to kill Davos for getting his married daughter pregnant.
  • Hovug Moonbreaker: one of the knights training young recruits at Pelor’s Academy.
  • Iuta Graykiller: senior cleric at Pelor’s Academy.
  • Izel Tlaloc: one of the knights training young recruits at Pelor’s Academy.
  • Mabur Ridar: headmaster of Pelor’s Academy in Northpond.
  • Monkirk Lowoack: son of a Ridgeport noble gone missing in the mountains.
  • Nayax Premror: dragonborn leader of “The League of Fire”, the group of mercenaries trying to kill Davos.
  • Sir Orvidd Graycrest: knight long dead who founded the ruined monastery of Ulaa near the Great Lake.
  • Udak: male half-ogre who lives in a cave with a pack of wolves, and hates yetis.

Places

  • Academy of Pelor in Northpond: paladin training academy near Northpond, great views, terrible winters.
  • Ridgeport: largest coastal town in the area which gives name to the province.

Quotes & mementos

  • After waking up Bronkirk at the cave he notices that he’s missing a leg. The always helpful Bharash picks Bronkirk’s half-eaten leg from the dead hand of Udak, and hands it to Bronkirk. The shock sends the brother unconscious and Bharash is left confused.
  • Trent talking wolf and snake but unsuccessfully convincing the violent creatures from attacking them.
  • Bharash telling the academy’s headmaster “I fall in love with you every time I look into your beautiful eyes.”
  • Salazar more worried about Mabur finding out his secret love affair with his cousin than he is about his previous career as a thief and road robber.
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