This session, we hit a milestone I really didn’t think we’d hit for a while there. We reached the midpoint of the campaign. The party fought in the Battle of Blingdenstone and finally – after months of trying, of losses and failure along the way – returned to the surface. But when they got there, of course, things were not quite the same as they were when they left.
The Underdark, far beneath the surface of the Sword Coast, in the Forgotten Realms
Blingdenstone, the city of the svirfneblin, the deep gnomes
The Sword Mountains, between Neverwinter and Waterdeep
Gauntlgrym, dwarven city, seat of King Bruenor Battlehammer
The Story So Far:
After defeating the earth elemental guardians and cleansing Ogremoch’s Bane from the Steadfast Stone, our party of adventurers rushed back to Diggermattock Hall to tell the svirfneblin leaders of their success. The Diggermattocks were quite pleased to hear this, and the mages of the Stoneheart Enclave confirmed that what they said was true. They added that now they would be able to add the earth elementals under their control to the forces now amassing. Indeed, Diggermattock Hall was aswarm with people – deep gnomes, wererats, ghosts, and a few milling elementals. All were deep in preparations for the battle to come.
Dorbo Diggermattock came to them and informed them that with Chipgrin Goldwhisker’s information, they’ve decided that it will be best to attack quickly and in full force, before the Pudding King had time to prepare for their arrival. They would be leading a charge towards the old House Center, the former seat of the rulers of Blingdenstone, at dawn. The party was given rooms to rest up in, rather than returning to the Foaming Mug tavern. And rest up they did, sorely needing to restore those hit points and spell slots after fighting two elementals.
In the morning, Dorbo instructed them that they were to go after the Pudding King themselves, while the rest of the army held the insane svirfneblin’s forces at bay. And without further ado – the Diggermattocks evidently not being much for grand speeches – they set off, the massive group making their way to the northeast sector of Blingdenstone and the House Center. The party separated from the rest of the group quickly when they reached it, carefully making their way through a room of puddings, slimes, oozes, and all kinds of nasty things. The walls, ceilings, and floors were all thick with them, making everything look like a living tapestry of ooze.
The rest of the force began a grand battle for the House Center, a glowing orb of stone, but out adventurers split off and made their way to a side room that would lead them to the throne room where they were most likely to find the Pudding King. They had to fight their way past several black puddings, gray oozes, and a gelatinous cube or two, sustaining severe acid damage in the process. The magic users of the group did their best to preserve their spell slots for the larger fight yet to come, instead using their physical weapons to beat back the malevolent slimes.
Finally, they encountered a black pudding and a psionic gray ooze who seemed ever hardier and more vicious than the others – the gray ooze telepathically communicated that they were Princess Ebonmire and Prince Livid, the “children” of the Pudding King. As many interesting questions as that called to mind, the party chose not to ask them, instead opting to dissolve the oozes in radiant magic, blasting them apart. As Princess Ebonmire was destroyed, she disgorged two very old and priceless-looking spellbooks; Lilo tucked them away to examine later.
Finally, they made it to the throne room, where an insanely cackling svirfneblin called to them from behind the throne, exclaiming praises to “The Faceless Lord”. He attempted to zap them with spells, never coming out of hiding from behind the fungus covered throne. He shot them with rays of sickness and scourges and acid, the party doing their best to resist falling to his poison, but all was put to a stop when Lilo cast Hold Person on the Pudding King. From there it was simple work for Necalli to deliver one mighty blow with Dawnbringer. As the Pudding King’s head was struck from his shoulders, his seeming of a deep gnome vanished and he dissolved into a pile of oozes and slimes, quickly crushed by the party.
Markel took a moment to sit upon the Pudding King’s throne, and in that moment, spotted a hidden compartment in the fungus-covered footstool before it. Ransacking it immediately, they found several fine gemstones and potions, the svirfneblin’s hidden-away treasures. They returned to the House Center to find the main battle mostly over, though a few remaining slimes and puddings hissed their defiance at their defeat by the deep gnome forces. The group slowly made their way back to Diggermattock Hall, nursing their wounds. There they found the Diggermattocks, similarly injured and exhausted, their armor worn away to almost nothing by the corrosive power of the oozes.
When the party recounted their defeat of the Pudding King, even the exhausted Dorbo had to smile. “You have helped bring safety and unity to the people of Blingdenstone,” he said, gesturing around him at the unified groups of deep gnomes, wererats, spirits, and more. “And for that, we are ever in your debt.” With that, the party returned to their rooms for what they really wanted more than anything else – food, a drink, and a long rest.
In the morning, Dorbo and Senni greeted them, looking as fresh as ever. They asked the party if the reward they wanted for their services was still the same as it was before the battle – to be guided on the return to the surface, away from the Underdark and the demonic incursion it was facing. Indeed, it was. And so, the new official leaders of Blingdenstone provisioned them for the journey to the surface and assigned guards to accompany them on their way, to ensure their safety. It was several days to the place where the path to the surface began, and then several more days before they reached ground level.
And then, the stepped forth from the earth, and for the first time in months, felt the sun on their skin, warm and bright. Markel removed Stool from his backpack and held him up to the sky, Simba-style – Stool squeaked and covered his eyes, having never seen this unfamiliar bright light before. A quick consultation of some maps revealed that they were in the Sword Mountains, midway between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. With that settled, the deep gnomes quickly retreated back along the path to the Underdark, uncomfortable in the surface world.
And with that, the party tried their best to return to surface life. They settled in Neverwinter, trying to make their way in the city. They sold many of their goods from the Underdark in order to earn some quick money, and they found work doing simple labor – a pleasant relief after the trials and tribulations of the past months. It took them some time to adjust – after all, one doesn’t just go from being escaped drow slave to being a normal, integrated member of society just like that. But with time, things returned to a semblance of normality.
Three months after the group returned to the surface, they received an unusual letter. It was brief, and plainly written. It summoned them to the great dwarven city of Gauntlgrym, in order to discuss what they’d experienced in the Underdark. What’s more, it was signed “King Bruenor Battlehammer” and it bore his seal. They had all heard of the great exploits of Bruenor Battlehammer, but while Lilo and Markel agreed to go and see him, Necalli held out. He did not want anything to do with some King and his crazy ideas (just look at how their last interaction with a King had gone).
Lilo and Markel prepared for their journey, and one day, a representative of the Zhentarim – Necalli’s own faction – came to visit. He offered to travel with them to Gauntlgrym, ensure their safe passage, and put in a good word with the other Zhentarim members in the city. Necalli once again asked why he should go – the Zhentarim simply reminded the barbarian of the great wealth and power of the King, and how that could very easily be turned to their favor if they played their cards right. With that settled, Necalli agreed to go, and they made their way to Gauntlgrym.
The journey passed uneventfully – the Zhentarim’s protection was thoroughly unnecessary – and in a couple of days, the whole of Gauntlgrym was before them. At the gates, they presented their letters from King Bruenor, and they were immediately escorted to a grand palace, accompanied by a higher class of guard than the usual grunts manning the gates. They were taken to some chambers where they could rest up and refresh themselves after their travels, though on the surface, nothing seemed to arduous as their travels in the Underdark had.
Before long, they were summoned before the King himself to tell their story. They recounted it all, as honestly as they could, from their escape from the drow in Velkynvelve to the rise of Demogorgon in Sloobludop, from the dealings with a dragon in Gracklstugh to the influence of Zuggtmoy in Neverlight Grove, to the battle of Blingdenstone and their return to the surface. Bruenor listened intently, asking questions to fill in details and gather more information, especially regarding Demogorgon and Zuggtmoy. When the party asked him what his intent was in summoning them, he simply said that he intended to weigh the information they’d given him before making any plans. In the meantime, he welcomed them to enjoy a grand feast with them that evening, as guests of honor among many guests from visiting factions and other surface powers. Never one to pass up a good feast, the group decided it could do no harm to at least stay for dinner.