Monday, 28 May 2012

Dungeons and (Red) Dragons

‘I want you to run when the fighting starts. Run and don’t stop for anything.’ – Milgos to his hireling Burke.

Burke was home. He propped his battered bastard sword in the corner by the door. His wife had emerged from the back room. ‘You’re late. I was worried sick.’ She began before noticing her husband’s worried expression. ‘What happened? How did it go?’ she asked. Burke answered first by producing a stuffed pouch of coins. He threw them onto the table with a clank.
‘That’s severance pay. I’m done. I’ve had enough dungeons and dragons. Things are getting too dangerous.’
‘You knew it was dangerous from the start. What’s changed?’ his wife frowned anxiously.
‘Milgos died. Fang too. Things were… rough. There was a dragon. I have to go. The mages are holding a séance to call Milgos’ spirit back into a body. They say he can’t use his old body as it’s too badly burnt.’
‘Before you go you’d better give me the whole story. You can’t leave me worrying while your off gallivanting with mages.’
Burke sighed ‘Very well.’ He slumped at the table. ‘It started off normal enough. Milgos meditating and Jana praying to her god. I never did work out who her god was. She was praying for spells to protect us from flames, little did she know the inferno that awaited us. We knew there was a dragon in between the surface and us. What we didn’t know was how big it was. I never saw a dragon before. Here’s hoping I never see one again.’
‘You look famished. Keep talking, I’ll fix you something nice.’
‘That will make a nice change from iron rations. We were under the ground longer than we’d intended and food was getting scarce. We had a meager breakfast and prepared to meet the dragon. Osric and Milgos snuck ahead…’
‘Osric?’ said Burke’s wife as she prepared a delicious sandwich. ‘Who’s Osric? You never mentioned him before.’
‘We met Osric in the dungeon. It’s strange the folk you meet underground. They almost always turn out to be trustworthy. Osric is half elf but don’t let that fool you. He’s really all right, hardly any arrogant in him. His elf blood must be weak. He shoots things, except when a monster’s using him as a chew toy. Remind me to tell you about the owlbear.’
‘Owlbear. I hear they are cranky creatures and yet they look so cute.’
‘Once you see and owlbear up close you wont think they’re cute, besides this is a story about the dragon. The owlbear story happened before that. I’ll tell it to you later.’
Burkes wife looked glum then turned her attention back to preparing the sandwich.
‘Milgos and Osric snuck ahead. I couldn’t see them and the boss had told Burne and me to stay put. You remember Burne? Tall fellow carries a torch most places and drinks too much. Osric left his baby shrews with us guard while he did battle.’
Burkes wife gave him a quizzical look.
‘Best not to ask.’ Burke nipped the question in the bud. ‘Shrews and hyena’s; you’d think we were part of Otiluke’s Amazing Circus. Milgos looked me in the eye and said, “I can’t ask you to fight a dragon. When you hear the fighting run. Look for the exit from the chamber and runs as all the forces of hell were at your heels. Run and see your family again.” He made Burne and I promise to flee.’
Red Dragons. Look out for it's fiery breath! 
Burke continued his tale between mouthfuls of sandwich. ‘We followed the scouts along a narrow tunnel. We passed some charred corpses but didn’t stop to investigate. The tunnel opened up and the fighters of the group stopped before entering the chamber in which the dragon resided. Then this roaring starts up in the corridor behind us. This is strange because the tunnel was narrow, no dragon could fit along it and yet the noise sounded like a dragon stalked us when we were certain it lay resting in the cavern before us. Ugh gestured to his hyena Fang and the two retraced our steps to investigate the fearsome noise.  It turned out to be some trick of the dragons. Perhaps he meant to drive us all into his lair. Seeing his parlor tricks failing to fool us the wyrm turned to honeyed words. The draconic fiend engaged Osric in conversation. It seemed the half elf’s cloak could not conceal him from the dragons keen senses.’

‘What do dragons talk about? We seem to have little in common with them.’ Burkes wife asked.
‘Well this dragon wanted to be entertained. I suppose he doesn’t get much company living deep underground with only dimwitted dog-headed kobolds for neighbours. Osric gave the dragon an abridged personal history before the dragon became obsessed with the baby shrews that formed apart of the half elf’s tale. 
Bring me the shrews and I may let you live.” 
Jana and Ugh, who had given up on discovering the source of the roaring, brought forth the mewling shrews. They did not live up to the dragon’s expectations. His attention was instead caught by Ugh’s shiny helmet much like when a raven sees a shiny bauble. Jana says the helmet is evil and makes Ugh do violent things. I think Ugh would do nasty violent things whether he wore a helmet or not. 
Remove your helmet little one so that I might inspect it better.” Ugh made some excuse being careful not to insult the wyrm. Did I describe the dragon to you?’
‘No. I’d imagine it would be something you’d never forget.’
‘Big as a house it was and the length of 10 men. Scales a deep red the colour of hearts blood. It radiated heat and lay on a mighty pile of glittering coins and jewels. 
You have entertained me little ones. Braxas is pleased that you have chosen to name a young shrew after him. Come look through my horde. Find something you like. You need only ask and I shall consider granting you a boon.” While the party searched amongst his treasures Braxas the dragon asked many questions about the party learning that a dark elf formed part of the group but as Osric put it “Milgos is so sneaky even we don’t know where he is. He comes and goes as the mood takes him.”
You don’t happen to have gauntlets do you?” Ugh interrupted.
I do.” replied the wyrm. “I keep them in that bag. It is a magic bag.
Osric enquired about magic bows. “As I like to lie on my treasure mound I keep all my sharps in the magic bag. I can’t have them sticking into me.” Braxas replied with a sly smile.’

‘Sounds like the dragon is too eager to have folk reach into his magic sack. Smells like a trap. They say you can never trust a dragon. Least of all the red ones. Folk say the gods colour coded dragons for our convenience and that the primary colours are always the worst.’
‘Your right, the bag was a trap. Osric put his arm inside and nearly had it bitten off. The bag had teeth and was hungry. A deep draconic belly laugh reverberated about the chamber as the dragon turned on us.' 

'The fight was messy and desperate. Milgos called on us to run and we ran for our lives. As we ran we saw a flash of light and felt the rolling waves of heat as the dragon exhaled. Turning and shielding my eyes I saw Milgos stride up to the Wyrm wand in hand. He touched the beast and nothing happened. His magic had failed and then he was bathed in fire and fell to the cavern floor a charred corpse. Burne sprinted for safety but I couldn’t help but stop and watch while the fighters set about their grim work. Did I mention Milgos was killed? I’ve never seen that happen, I never thought it could happen. He always seemed prepared for anything; I guess he wasn’t prepared to face dragon breath. Fang leapt at the wyrm who then bathed the hyena and Jana in flame. Fang was fried to a crisp and Jana staggered back badly burned. Osric peppered the dragon with arrows finding many weak points in the dragon’s scaly defence. Ugh’s sword glowed in the presence of its ancient foe, did I mention it was a sword of dragon slaying? Ugh landed some telling blows before being beaten down by a combination of claw and maw. Betty despaired at the loss of her employer Milgos and swatted at the beast ineffectually, blinded as she was by rage. She too would fall to dragon claw while Jana desperately attended her and the stricken Ugh.’
‘So at this point everyone is dead or dying? How on Oerth did you survive?’
‘Osric. He doesn’t look like much but he’s a deft shot with a bow. Osric fell back before the draconic assault while keeping up a constant stream of arrows. Finally one found it’s mark in the eye socket of the brute and the raging creature fell shuddering to the cavern floor.' 
Milgos! NOOOOOO!
'We had paid a high toll for our victory. Milgos was dead and Fang too. All that was left to do was loot the horde but we found little joy in it. Ugh and Osric started carving up the dead beast insisting that the bloody parts they took would make good armour. Betty stood guard over Milgos’ charred corpse. At one point Ugh made to loot the body.
The half orc grunted, “The dark elf is dead. He doesn’t need his stuff any more. It’s wasted leaving it here.”
No one touches him or his treasures.” The warrior woman pointed her sword at Ugh’s chest. “Best attend to your hound once you’ve finished looting.
Ugh shrugged callously. “I’ll just buy another.”

Burke stood from the table and made to leave. “And that’s all there is to tell. At one point Jana threw Ugh’s helmet into the magic bag of eating. She says Ugh will get better eventually but I’m not so sure. His callous attitude towards his dead pet does little to reassure me.’
‘What about the baby shrews?’
‘They lived. Osric was very happy. Probably happier than he was when he got his cut of the loot. He’s an odd one. Now I must get to the Tower of the Mages. I need to see what becomes of Milgos once the wizards are through with his soul.’

Project Viking

The Viking Force.
A while back I had some time off, two weeks, while the missus had to keep on at her job. Needing something to keep myself busy I figured I would paint. Shane had been waxing nostalgic on Warhammer 3e, he's never given up on the old rule set and using it for a game of Mighty Empires. Mighty Empires probably deserves its own post. Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory had just released their plastic vikings and suddenly a Norse army seemed affordable. I hunted about for the white dwarf with the army list, did some number crunching and came up with a force.
Here is the full 'Norse' force. 120 models painted over 2 weeks.
And old friend called up recently asking after Army Painter Dip. I'd used it with some success to paint up my vikings and far less success with the Empire force I attempted a few months later. I promised to send him some pictures of dipped models. Advice

  • I guess you should keep a paper towel close at hand and use it to quickly touch off any excess dip, especially dip that pools around the face. 
  • Some colours work well with dip and some do not. Red, brown and yellow work well. For me my greens and blues gave the worst result. Pick a bright or pale colour and don't worry too much because the dip will darken it back down.
  • Hit it with dull coat but make sure the conditions outside are perfect before you do this. Moist air will ruin your handiwork. An experience I sadly had with an Empire Cannon.
Some dipped axemen. I was using these as berserkers.
Dipped Huscarls with leaders our front.
    A failed experiment. I bought some puppets war resin were-wolf heads for my Ulfenwere troops. The heads are the wrong scale.
      War hounds to mix in amongst the units.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Betrayed by shrews and battling owlbears

‘I would be cross if I had the head of an owl.’ - Berserker king to subjects.

Jana tried to get comfortable in the cramped tunnel in which the band had chosen to rest. Freedom was close and the morning promised a fight to remember. She reached for her writing kit and set about penning a missive.

‘I write to you again Patriarch so that you might know how I fared and so that you may know what you may one day need to guard against. My companions are not without ambition and it is my fervent prayer that they not set themselves against you. It is best that they channel their aggression upon the denizens of the underworld and spend as little time in the company of normal men. Milgos posses a sinister cunning, malicious intelligence and covetous heart, traits no doubt of his dark ancestry. He is however a loyal soul with a genuine concern for his friend’s welfare. Osric I have not known long enough to judge though from what I have seen he is a jovial fellow, quick with a joke and happy to be alive. My thoughts on Ugh should already be clear to you, little more need be documented.

We had found shelter in a secret treasure stash where spells were recouped. My rest was interrupted by the sounds of raised voices. It seemed my companions had found something new to quarrel about as they argued over who should wear a cloak of elven make which we had earlier looted. Once that had been resolved and with tensions still simmering they began arguing about who should posses which potion. 
At one stage Ugh pointed at me and said ‘Here little one drink this potion. It shall make you smaller. Hah! You would become so small you would disappear.
He then laughed riotously at his own humor. I stood there wishing that the murdering cannibal would disappear.

Speaking of disappearing that is Milgos and now Osric’s modus operandi. Osric donned his elven cloak and Milgos his ring and the pair scouted ahead of the main group. Their scouting revealed a bugbear ambush that we easily countered. Then our scouts alerted us to the presence of ghouls that Milgos lured from their lair with an elaborate attention seeking coughing fit. At one point in the melee Osric, who had lead the undead a merry chase peppering them with arrows, was almost pulled down as the terrors caught him with an unexpected burst of speed. Milgos and Ugh came to his rescue hewing into the horde with their blades and I myself channeled our deity to put the creatures to flight.
One of the giant shrews young. 
Further exploration found some giant shrews with a death wish. Osric adopted their young that he hung about him in harnesses made from the leather scraps that had formed the shrews’ original nest. Our invisible scouts wandered the many twisting tunnels till they stumbled on more berserkers like those I mentioned in my prior correspondence. Like the others these berserkers were mad. Their leader had made himself out to be some sort of king and wore a decaying threadbare purple carpet as a robe. He ranted about a disloyal subject nearby who had not paid his taxes and was fomenting rebellion. A bear with the head of the owl. Having heard enough of his crazed ramblings Milgos threw his voice with magic. He had one of the 'King's' minions speak in an insulting tone. Thus provoked the king ordered his subject be executed for his insolent tongue. With one berserker down and figuring enough was enough the rest of the group sprung into action and put the 'King' and his court to the sword.
Owlbears are always mad. I wonder why? 
More invisible scouting revealed the lair of the owl bear, a grizzled old brute. It was then that the shrew young Osric had adopted betrayed the half elf. While he pressed himself tightly against the tunnel wall to allow the owl bear to pass the young shrews began crying with hunger. The owl bear reacted, lashing out at the noise, for it was a beast full of spite. Its anger was justified I think for I would be angry if I had the head of an owl. Osric was badly mauled and as he fled from the creatures grasp he received a sound swipe. Ugh and his ferocious hyena stepped in and the battle ended swiftly enough.

Further searching revealed a gelatinous cube that was dispatched with magic and blade. Milgos coaxed a few missiles from his wand. The wand glowed dangerously as it blasted the cube. Its prodigious power was on the wane. During the battle with the cube one of Milgos companions, Betty, had become paralyzed. 
We must wait for her to recover.’ Milgos insisted. 
Ugh waits for no one.’ Insisted the half orc as he grabbed the paralyzed warrior by the hair and began dragging her down the closest tunnel. The dark elf ordered the half orc to stop before assigning his henchmen Burke and Burne to aide their fallen companion. Tensions were high.

We followed an underground river stream praying that it would lead us to an exit. Milgos had grown impatient insisting that he was ready to train and that we must leave immediately. 
Cease your mewling dark elf.’ Ugh said. ‘I am simply content to kill things, that should be enough for you.’ 
The rest of the journey was made in silence. The scouts slipped ahead and found the river ended in more caverns. They dispatched a number of kobold guards through trickery and stealth which allowed us to bypass the miserable creatures woeful defences.

While traipsing through the kobold's lair the group thought it an opportune time to begin bickering again. This attracted the kobold leader's attention and he and a small horde came to meet us. Fortunately for the kobold chief he saw the might arrayed against him and opted for placation. He seemed most upset that his guards hadn’t told him of our arrival. We did not tell him that they had been butchered in their sleep by a pair of merciless elves. The kobold chief spoke the dog tongue which Ugh speaks to his hyena and so the two got along famously sharing a meal of spoiled fish.

Desperate for escape Milgos played an elaborate trick attempting to convince the kobold chief that he was in the presence of a god of death called Iliach. The god was represented by Milgos disembodied voice cast from the anonymity of invisibility. The chief went along with this, possibly because he was eager to see us leave his domain. He pointed out the only exit, through some narrow tunnels but warned that a fierce red dragon guarded the exit. And so we prepare. I find it highly likely that many of us will perish during the coming conflict and so I entrust this missive to one more fortunate than I. I trust it finds you swiftly. 

Yours faithfully Jana.'

Monday, 14 May 2012

New companions and the horde is broken

‘Don’t kill him, we need more fodder.’ – Milgos upon meeting the half elf Osric.

Jana peered at the blank parchment in the feeble lantern light. Her companions slumbered about her. She cast a nervous glance at the half-orc. She was sure he feigned sleep. The brute that she had once called friend was now ever alert and always watching her. She cast another glance at the far corner of the room where the half orc’s handy work was on display. Butchered stirges lay in a bloody mound in a far corner of the cavern. Raising her quill Jana made a start on her note.

‘Patriarch, I trust this missive finds you in good health. It is my desire to deliver my account in person but I have entrusted it to another who always seems to avoid the worst.

The hobgoblins were misguided spiritually by a human renegade priest of some dark and bestial god. We had earlier slain the priest and now rested in his chamber. Our rest was interrupted by the arrival of a half elf Osric. He appeared desperate for he had been imprisoned by the hobgoblins and recently escaped during the confusion caused by our assault. Unsurprisingly Ugh threatened to kill Osric despite the half elf doing nothing that would draw ire. I mediated things best I could before Ugh did the unthinkable. He reached into his pack and produced some crispy skinned goblin, the remains of a torture victim he had killed hours earlier. Biting off several fingers he then offered the arm to our new half-elven companion. It was here that I resolved to suffer the half orc’s company only till we found our way out of the dungeon.
A handful of the dozens of hobgoblins soon to be killed.
Fortunately this revolting spectacle, of what must surely be considered cannibalism, was interrupted by hobgoblins seeking the deceased priest's counsel. While the cursed artefact that adorned Ugh’s head has taken the warriors pride and dignity it had not taken his wits for he attempted a bluff by impersonating the priest. This is a trick he had seen Milgos perform admirably on a number of occasions. Ugh however was not successful. We fought a horde of the enemy. During the combat Milgos sat meditating, trying his best to ignore the melee. He was most annoyed at being awakened before he had replenished his spells. Many goblinoids fell before their morale broke. The dark elf tracked the survivors back to their leader, the Khan, and drove the crestfallen leader back towards us as a hound drives a fox. Osric put two arrows in the Khan before Ugh finished the job. The horde was broken and the Khan slain before landing a blow.

We looted the dead. The Khan had a chest warded with poisonous traps that were easily overcome by the deft hands of Milgos. He is a talented one, skilled with mage craft and legerdemain. Deeming the rewards sufficient we headed back the way we had came hoping to leave the dungeon. In the pursuit of the Khan we had ventured deep underground and become lost. Stumbling around we were surprised as the corridor opened up beneath us and we plummeted deeper beneath the ground. All save Milgos and Osric who, upon being abandoned, decided to follow us down into the treacherous sloping pit.

We found little respite at the base of the pit for frothing berserkers swiftly set upon us. Ugh yawned and sliced them in twain with barely an effort. I gazed upon their dead faces and considered these men’s predicament. I imagined them falling into the same trap we had, being confined to the natural caverns and tunnels and going mad. Ultimately they became the frothing berserkers we had dispatched like rabid dogs. An argument broke out amongst the group over who would wear the leather armour they had stripped from one of the corpses. Once the bickering subsided Osric was now the proud owner of some bloodied scraps of leather that Milgos assured us was magical.
A flock of stirges. 
We explored the myriad of tunnels about us. Milgos and Osric each have a knack for detecting secret doors and today we were fortunate for we discovered an ancient stash of treasure feebly guarded by stirges. Having encountered these creatures on a number of occasions we were aware of their sneaky tricks and butchered them in short order. More bickering broke out over the division of treasure but I was past the point of caring. The sooner we see the surface the better. We camped the night in the stirge's chamber, safe behind a secret door. I shall keep you informed. 

Your loyal servant Jana.'

Monday, 7 May 2012

Tales from the torchbearer

'It was either the oil or the iron maiden. I chose the oil.' - Ugh in the torture room
Burne looked up from his ale at the brightly garbed stranger who had a clothed Capuchin monkey perched upon his shoulder. The unusual looking individual took a seat next to him. ‘Can I help you?’ Burne asked.
‘Perhaps you can. I hear you are an adventurer in the employ of Milgos and I am interested in their tales. You see I am a troubadour and I can assure you that I am a minstrel of the highest standing who moves amongst the courts of influential nobles. I have a seat by Lord Winthrop’s fire and regularly regale the noble Lady Witherflank during her mid-day stroll. I shall do your heroic tale the justice it deserves.’
‘5 crowns and I give you a story otherwise bugger off.’ Burne drained his drink and ordered another.
‘It’s a deal. I am interested in your latest expedition. Your group has become popular amongst both the small folk and those of influence and I would give them the latest tale of daring do.’ The troubadour reached into his purse and counted out five crowns placing each on the bar.

Burne began his story. ‘Firstly none of us have agreed on an official name for the group. I like to call us the West Wood Warriors on account of how most of the time I have been with the group we’ve been exploring forests and putting things to the sword. My role is to carry a torch and provide advice and moral support. Milgos will often turn to me for advice on complex puzzles and were I not there to offer guidance I am sure Ugh would have killed everyone in one of his fits of rage. His half orc side often gets the better of him.’

The troubadour frowned impatiently. ‘Yes. I am well aware of the main players in your group. I was hoping to hear of your latest exploits.’

‘We had found a temple deep in the forest that served as a gathering point for a hobgoblin tribe. Folks were talking about the hobgoblins planning to raid across the river so Ugh gets it into his head to stop them. At least that’s what he tells us, we don’t believe him on account of how we see the look he gets when he’s slaughtering things. He’s a stone cold killer, lives for the stuff. We follow along behind the berserker and his dog. Have you seen his dog? Huge brute, infested with fleas, furs sort of falling out and the poor creature is crisscrossed with scars. Looks sort of like his master.’

The troubadour interrupted ‘I prefer to describe Fang in tales as a noble beast with lions blood in its veins.’

Burne frowned. ‘No there’s nothing noble about Fang. Another funny thing about the dog is Ugh speaks to it all the time. He sort of growls and the dog growls back. Ugh’s clearly mad talking to animals.’
‘I’ve heard druids can talk to animals.’ The troubadour explained.
‘Ugh aint no druid. The half orc is a berserker plain and simple. We make our way through the West Wood. I tell Milgos to scout ahead and the elf returns to tell us that there is a bunch of stirges up ahead. Ugh starts mumbling about fish and demands to see them. I try and explain to Ugh that stirges are mosquitoes the size bats but he wont listen. He goes to see the creatures and gets swamped by a flock of them. By the time the rest of us catch up he’s killed most of them. Have you ever seen a stirge die?’
‘Can’t say I have.’ Replied the stranger.
‘They burst like a pigs bladder full of wine. Messy affair. Also on the trail we ran into a giant lizard the size of a cow that I distracted by throwing my voice. You see I made the noise of a rabbit running through the undergrowth, a hunting trick I picked up from my old man. The lizard got distracted and gave chase so we could pass untroubled.’

Unnoticed by Burne the Capuchin monkey had climbed down from the troubadours shoulder and had worked his way towards the retainers coin purse. Burne obliviously continued his tale. ‘It took more than a day hiking through the woods to reach the temple so we had to camp. I took the early morning watch. This was brave on my part as this is the time when most ambushes occur. I warned Janna, who shared my watch, to be on high alert. Unfortunately she didn’t listen and was ambushed by some kind of ghoul. She’s a tough one that Janna and refused to fall to the flailing ghouls limbs. It wasn’t long before the rest of the group awoke and put the creature down. As everyone caught their breath I noticed the creature starting to re-assemble just like a troll. Everyone was stunned but not me; I grabbed a flaming brand from the campfire and set the creature ablaze. “Regenerate this!” I yelled.’
Hobgoblins, ambushed, trapped and butchered.
The Capuchin monkey jumped at the sudden shout and scurried back to its spot on the troubadours shoulder. ‘What did your companions do during the fight? What were there tactics?’
‘Milgos slept through the entire thing. He doesn’t like to be woken up unless someone is bleeding to death. He needs his sleep so he can study his book and memorize spells. If you wake him he gets cranky and you don’t want a mage mad at you. Ugh just kept hitting the creature with his sword. Not terribly imaginative but he gets the job done. The next day we arrived at the ruined temple. We used ropes to climb directly into the secluded garden attached to the ruin. That way we could bypass the main entrance which, given our last incursion, would surely be watched by the hobgoblins. I sent Milgos scouting ahead and the mage saw an opportunity to ambush a war band of hobgoblins that clearly had designs to ambush us. He webbed them and then we shot them a lot. They had a pair of ogres that looked like a couple because when one of them died the other got really mad. Being trapped in a web meant they couldn’t do much except curse. We weren’t quiet as we conducted the slaughter and so it seemed the whole temple became aware of our presence. I got sick of shooting the webbed hobgoblins so I figured I’d set the web alight with my torch. The plan worked a treat and incinerated dozens of the creatures. More and more arrived only to be slaughtered. A group of crossbow armed hobgoblins were lured into the killing zone within the temple by Milgos’ skill at impersonating a hobgoblin. ‘We have them on the run.” He called and like the fools they are they believed him. Soon we were standing in a room full of dead enemies with nary a scratch to show for their efforts.’

‘Impressive, your group certainly seem capable of exercising grand strategies. How many would you say you killed?’
‘After the reserves arrived and were butchered I’d put the number of dead at close to 40 including the ogres. The reserves were interesting kills. Betty, who lacks a spine and serves as an extension of Milgos’ will, poured litres of oil along the stairs from which we expected the goblin reserves. As they arrived I threw a torch amongst them setting the oil ablaze. That crisped a few goblin scouts and held the foe back allowing us to set a second ambush which butchered them all.’

‘So what happened next?’
‘Well I knew we had to press our advantage so I advised we charge down the stairs and finish the bastard off. Heeding my counsel we raced down the stairs. One of the dungeons rooms was a torture chamber that, apart from various instruments of cruelty, contained a shivering goblin that I had clearly badly burned with my oil on staircase plan. I suggested we take the creature prisoner as it begged and pleaded for its miserable life but Ugh was deaf to its pleas. He swept in; brushed aside the creature’s puny knife blows, picked the miscreant up like a naughty child and dumped the creature in a vat of boiling oil. The pitiful shrieks will haunt me forever. I nearly quit there and then and I wasn’t the only one. Janna looked close to tears. Milgos was furious. ‘Why did you do that you dolt!” the elf shouted. “The goblin would have talked, he would have told us everything. Why did you have to put him in the boiling oil?”
‘What was Ugh’s response?’
‘The half orc spoke in a tone that would send chills down your spine “It was either the oil or the iron maiden. I chose the oil and I would do so again. Goblins are vermin there to be killed. The creature would have told us anything to save its skin. Besides now it is crunchy and delicious.” Needless to say we all turned our heads in disgust.’

‘Ugh sounds like a real terror.’
‘He is. No one follows him apart from his dog. I heard folks used to hire on to his dungeon expeditions and didn’t come back. Milgos has a solid reputation for keeping his followers alive and he pays well to boot. Anyway we keep exploring the dungeon beneath the temple and Milgos spots a revolving wall. He has a knack for these things. He just walks past a wall, freezes and shouts “There!” while pointing to concealed portals. Beyond the secret door we found a priest. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days and his teeth had been filed to wicked points. He rose to greet us with mace in hand when I gave the signal to Janna. Acting on my instruction she recited a prayer that froze the priest in his tracks. With the priest unable to move it was a simple exercise of removing his head from his shoulders. Ugh took great delight in the task drawing out the decapitation longer than I thought possible. It was clear that the frozen priest was alive for much of it from the look of terror in his eyes. Most of us busied ourselves searching the room while this bizarre torture was occurring.
‘Ugh sound like a blackguard. Surely he is a villain and not a hero.’
‘The priest was dead either way, Ugh just made it painful for the poor bastard. These are monsters we are talking about. They would do the same to us, probably worse. Ugh is bringing justice to them, sure it’s brutal justice but it’s justice. With the priest dead we did kept searching the place finding a temple full of scorpion flies about the size of Fang. We killed them and looted the temple. Did you know that nine out of ten temple statues have valuable gems for eyes? That’s an adventuring fact my friend. After that there’s not much left to tell. We camped in the priest’s secret chamber and readied ourselves for the combats that were sure to follow. Milgos had been keeping track of the dead and reckoned at that juncture that we had killed over half of the Khan’s followers.’

The troubadour stood and made to leave. ‘Thank you my friend. I shall craft your dark tale into one the bards shall sing of for a generation. I shall be at this tavern most nights and will for you. I can assure you there will be more coins waiting for you. But now I must bid you good day, these tales do not write themselves.’ Bowing deeply the troubadour left the noisy tavern behind. He had the information he had come for though the tale was more disturbing than he had expected.