Real date: 9/2/18 In-game date: November 7th, EY632
Ambrose (Hero – Fighter L4) – RIP killed by a Balrog!
Zort (Curate – Cleric L5)
Roger (Woodsman – Warden L4)
Imric (Swordsman/Conjurer – Fighter L3/ MU L3)
Vol, Sundarr (porters)
Vog, Murdir (meatshields)
Webris (Village Priest – Zort’s Cleric L3)
Back in Frostmark, the party rested and prepared for their next adventure. After the first night’s rest they were dismayed to find that the hireling Paraton had fled town, taking his horse and equipment with him. The Innkeep Rake gave Zort a note written by the Dwarf Morgo, who had also left town but had gifted Zort his magical hammer in payment for his life-debt.
Early the next morning, before sunup, they were all awoken by an alarm bell. They dressed and hurried outside, where they could see flames and hear screams and yells in the direction of the Earl’s keep. Moving closer, they could see that the Sage’s shop and residence had been destroyed, presumably by the Demonic creature standing next to it. The Demon appeared as if on fire, with a flaming whip in one hand and a flaming sword in the other. As they approached, they could see the Demon pulling a robed figure in with his whip, struggling but unable to save himself as he was burned alive and just as quickly thrown aside.
Ambrose did not have time to don his plate armor, still he advanced bravely with his sword, Trollbiter and alongside Roger. Roger’s arrows had no effect at all on the Demon, and he realized his un-enchanted hand axe would be worthless in this fight. As they approached, Sir Wil and a dozen men-at-arms formed up outside the keep, within crossbow range. The Patriarch Sunamel rushed to help from the temple. Imric thought it wise to stay back, but cast a protection spell in case the Demon advanced. He mutered a curse, realizing this was the Balrog Roger had summoned accidentally in the cavern beneath Giant Fall.
The first volley of crossbow bolts burned harmlessly against the Demon’s flesh. Sir Wil told his men to hold position, advancing with his own glowing sword drawn. Ambrose was close enough now to feel the heat from the Demon, who roared as he attacked, wounding the Hero.
As Ambrose and the Earl fought side-by-side, Sunamel arrived, unfurled a scroll and started to read from it. “The power of Soldra banishes you!” he yelled. Zort arrived and waded in to the fight with his magical hammer. Everyone was surprised when from above, a lightning bolt fell from an otherwise clear, star-filled sky and struck the Demon, wounding it. Addrazias the Wizard had arrived! He was in flight above the battle, holding a staff. As the battle raged, green and blue rays struck the demon from above, but they seemed to have no effect. Nor did Sunamel’s scroll appear to weaken the Demon’s resolve.
Seeing an opening, the Demon swung back his flaming sword and plunged it into Ambrose’s chest. He fell to the ground, slain. Roger ran to Ambrose and, seeing his friend was dead, grabbed Trollbiter and attacked the Demon. It seemed hopeless, but he had to try! At that moment the earth shook and from the dirt next to the ruined Sage’s shop, rose a huge creature made of earth and stone. Even the Demon turned to look! The earth-creature advanced on the Demon and began to pummel it with his giant fists, oblivious to the flames. It came in the nick of time, and after a few minutes the Demon withered under the blows of the earth-creature and the continued attacks from Sir Wil, Roger and Zort. With a roar that shook the town, the Demon disappeared in a ball of fire. The earth-creature sank back into the dirt, and it too was gone.
As the black smoke drifted away, the party gazed around at the destruction the Demon had wrought. The poor sage was dead, along with Ambrose. The sage’s shop and house were in ruins. Sunamel and Zort rushed to aid Ambrose and the Sage, if they could. They carried their lifeless forms into the Temple. Imric wondered why the Sage’s shop had been attacked. Perhaps it had something to do with the gem Roger had brought to the Sage after they returned from their first encounter with the Balrog under Giant Fall? It had seemed to be the trigger for its summoning. Where had it gone? He would search the ruins of the shop at dawn.
Ref notes: In OD&D, Balrogs cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons, have 75% magic resistance and even if that fails, save as a 10th-level Fighter. So the spells thrown at it – dispel evil, disintegrate, and flesh to stone, all failed. Only the lighting bolt did half-damage after the Balrog made his save. In the end Adrazzias’ last hope – the 16HD earth elemental he summoned – was enough to do the Balrog in. I considered having the Balrog fly up to fight Adrazzias, but in the end assumed he was so sure of his magic resistance that he did not see the Wizard as a real threat. It was his undoing (Balrog refsheet courtesy of Zenopus Archives).