The Freeport Chronicles

Deep Scar Keep

The companions explore the famed dwarven keep

Summary

  • the companions travel to Deep Scar Keep
  • the towers outside of the keep are secured
  • the companions enter the keep through a secret door
  • a hell-oriented octagonal box is located in an ancient forge room
  • a creeper is tricked into signaling its clan outside the walls, providing cover for the companions to gain entry to the throne room
  • the leader of the creeper clan is defeated in combat
  • Deep Scar Keep cleared, the companions return to the platform for extraction

Details

Grin escorts the companions to the entrance to the underground – a vertical shaft leading straight down. A dirigible is awaiting their arrival, and the group is air lifted into the massive cavern. From their vantage point, the companions can see the walls of Deep Scar Keep in the distance. The entire structure appears hewn from the rock. Before them, there are two outer towers joined by an archway that frame a grand staircase. The stairs lead up to large ornate doors.

The dirigible lands expertly on a large platform. The pilot advises that he will return one day hence for pickup. Before leaving, the companions ask the operator if he can offer any clues as to what they will encounter in the Keep. He advises that the place is infested by dark creepers, small humanoids that have adapted to living in the darkness. The creatures are merely a nuisance in isolation, but he warns that they can be vicious in groups, especially when led by much taller brethren known as dark stalkers. He wishes the companions Austri’s favour in their mission.

As the dirigible heads back toward the entrance, the companions are pitched into near darkness. Freight and Lando create a magical nimbus to follow the group, providing some ability to see. The companions move cautiously toward the twin towers, aware that they are within firing range of the arrow slits in the heavily fortified structures.

Doing their best to travel swiftly, but quietly, the companions are soon surveying the bottom of the right most tower. There is no door evident and the exceptional stonework appears difficult to scale. Circling the tower, the companions are set upon by a group of creepers, the small creatures lunging out from the dark. Catching the companions flat-footed, the patrol, led by a dark stalker, scores several big hits. The battle-trained companions quickly turn the tide of the battle and overcome the creepers. The creatures explode in a bright flash of light upon dying, temporarily blinding the group. The companions note the occurrence for future encounters.

Movement is seen from the arrow slits above and the companions flatten themselves against the tower to avoid line of sight. In doing so, Romica finds a well-hidden door, the outline of which fits seamlessly into the tower’s stonework. Anton places his hands on the door and uses a special ability to see what is on the other side. He advises that there are two dark creepers tormenting a small goblin boy.

Using their chime of silence, the companions sneak into the tower undetected and dispose of the two creepers. The goblin boy bolts through the open doorway once untied. As he runs across the open cavern, the companions can hear several bows fire accompanied by laughing from above. While their focus is elsewhere, the group ascends the interior staircase and uses the element of surprise to take out several creepers. From the top of the tower, the companions cross the archway and finish off a separate group of creepers.

The towers explored, the companions climb the stairs to investigate the ornate gates that guard Deep Scar Keep. The massive iron doors, decorated with crossed dwarven smith hammers, are held fast by a large chain and padlock. Anton again uses his special ability to look inside the keep. He is able to see a long hallway lined with carved columns. Several dark creepers appear at the edge of his vision. It is quickly determined that the companions will be unable to enter through the front doors.

Thinking that it would make sense for the wall of the keep to have a door near the one found on the tower, the companions double back. The area between the Keep and tower resembles a small courtyard that is framed by the edge of the staircase. Having already found one well-hidden door, it does not take Romica long to locate another in the wall of the keep. The entryway opens into a musty hallway with several doors visible. Investigating the doors reveals:

  • A room for food storage that has been overgrown with a fungus cultivation. A pool of water encompasses a portion of the room. Although the fungus appears edible, the companions have no wish to try it. Magus Mike spots something shiny in the water and retrieves a Ring of Sustenance with his grappling hook.
  • A dusty storeroom lined with shelves containing old flasks and alchemy components that have long outlived their best before date. Romica locates a clever device that can be installed on the Shadow Swift to fire powder balls, a special type of cannon ball that explodes on contact dealing damage to those around it.
  • An ancient forge with several anvils coated in dust. A large statue of a dwarven smith stands in the middle of the room, it reminds the companions of the constructs that Ironjack created. In the back of the room, an octagonal shaped box phases in and out of the room. Lando detects magic and confirms that the construct is indeed a golem and sentient. The octagonal box appears to be phasing between the shadow realm, where it was most likely forged, and the material plane. Lastly, two of the various anvils about the room are magical and bear further investigation.
    • The companions decide first to speak with the golem. It advises that it must clear the keep of non-dwarves. Before it can attack the group, Romica commands the golem to halt, insinuating that he is one of the Keep’s founders. The ruse is successful and the construct accepts Romica’s authority.
    • The octagonal box is built of a similar material as the golem, one that Ironjack often used in his creations. The thin disc-shaped device is complete with hinged blast guards. A pressure plate on top appears to trigger the device if someone where to, say, step on it. Although unsure of its use, the companions take for further study.
    • Romica, a bit of an anvil connoisseur, takes a look at the two magical anvils in the room. Both are silver, one with a jade filigree and the other with garnet. The hairy dwarf chooses the jade one, which Lando advises has defensive benefits, as a replacement for the one he has be lugging from Freeport.
  • An armory filled with racks and racks of dwarven weapons and armor. The companions find two sets of dwarven scale mail as well as a weapon upgrade kit that modifies the hilt of a battle axe into a spear, similar to an urgosh.
  • A barracks that is empty save for one lone creeper. The companions sneak up on the unsuspecting creature. Instantly surrounded, the creeper is an easy target for Romica’s intimidation tactics. He advises that their leader, Annack, sits on the Keep’s throne. Each creeper is equipped with a whistle that they use to signal hostile intent. The creepers then swarm their enemies and overcome with them with sheer numbers.

Wishing to push deeper into the Keep, the companions devise a plan. They advise the creeper that they are concerned that the dwarves are mounting an attack. The logical first step would be to take out the towers. It would be much appreciated if he could investigate and signal them, via whistle, if the attack has already commenced. The creeper makes hast toward the towers eager to please.

With several hallways blocked by rubble, the companions find themselves outside the main hallway when the whistle is sounded. Anton, using his gloves to peer through the closed door, advises that a large group of dark creepers has exited the Keep to investigate the intrusion. Entering the room, the companions are discouraged to find themselves in a large hallway and not the throne room. The companions instruct the golem to lead on. The construct races past bunkrooms and barracks, assembly halls and banquet rooms. On the other side of the Keep, the companions push through large ornate doors to find themselves in the throne room. They are not alone, however, as three large creepers, much taller than the ones fought to this point, stand atop a dais in the centre of the room.

Understanding that the three represent the creeper’s leadership, the companions command the golem to stand guard as they shut the doors. Alone for the time being, the group attacks the dark stalkers. The creatures are able to withstand the initial onslaught and trade blows with the group. Freight and Anton are able to drop one of the stalkers, although they pay dearly for it. A troll and slime, attracted by the noise, join the fray and threaten to turn the tide of battle. Magus Mike casts several strategically aimed fireballs into the melee, leveling the troll and slime.

At this time, the barred doors leading to the throne room come under heavy onslaught. As the doors splinter, Romica steps into the gap to meet the charge of the returning dark creepers. His heroic efforts quell the charge, but leave him surrounded by a group of vicious creepers several heads deep. He attempts to engage them as the rest of the companions focus on the dark stalkers.

Despite being outnumbered, the stalkers hold their own against Anton, Freight and Magus Mike. With Anton grievously wounded, the halfling resorts to desperate measures by unleashing his Kuru fury. Jumping onto the back of Annack, leader of this dark creeper clan, the swashbuckler sinks his teeth deep into the stalker’s neck. With jaws clamped, the flailing creature is unable to dislodge the near-death halfling. It’s life-blood drained, the lifeless stalker pitches forward on the dais.

The resolve of the other creepers, who hold Annack in reverent regard, crumble at the sight of the deposed leader. As the last stalker is overcome, the creepers flee from the throne room, intent to leave the Keep for good. The companions take some time to catch their breath and enjoy the moment. The room searched, they each take a turn sitting on the ancient throne before exiting.

The halls of Deep Scar Keep silent once more, the companions make their way back to the platform to await the dirigible and the return trip to the surface.

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