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Dragon Age - The Paragon Fortress

Page history last edited by Michael 2 years, 6 months ago

back to the Index, or back to Ashes and Desire

 

Chapter 16

The Paragon Fortress

First Day Party, Part III

 


9:29 Dragon, 26th day of Haring -- Winter (cont.)

 

     Malic woke Eornan, Landon and Bran, who were all suffering somewhat from the effects of the previous nights drinking (and some strange dreams). He told them to come down for breakfast -- there was a task at hand. At the breakfast table, in the main hall, there was a copious buffet laid out; Malic and two other young men were already present. The two others were Alpheus and Garrick, recently conscripted by the Grey Wardens -- they hadn't yet undergone the actual joining ritual. Garrick was a particularly heroic diner eater, and claimed to have never been in battle.

 

"Are you Orlesian?" -- Bran

 

     A note from Warden-Commander Duncan had reached Malic before dawn, asking him to lead the recruits (and Our Heroes) into the caves under Hounds Hall, to kill darkspawn and collect their blood. The presence of darkspawn under Denerim is quite unusual; Malic didn't know how Duncan knew of them. Bran, Landon and Eornan were to come along and help Malic keep everyone alive.

     The party made a short visit to the Wardens' armory, where Garrick helped himself to quite a lot of stuff; we were also each offered:

 

    • two Warden healing potions (each heals 2d6+6 damage)

    • a shock bomb

    • two lyrium potions (each restores 3d6+3 mana)

 

     Armed and prepared with ropes and other sundries, we descended to the sub-basement of Hounds Hall, and then down through the collapsed hole in the floor, into the dank, dark caverns where Malic and Tienan had fallen previously. Malic was able to guide us in the direction of the darkspawn.

     After an hour or less of travel, we came to a truly enormous door, standing slightly ajar. It had a strange lock, in the form of a "puzzle dial"; we blocked the opening with a rock to prevent any accidental closure, and proceeded into the chamber beyond.

     The room was 26 yards long, 13 yards wide; half-a-dozen huge pillars supported the high ceiling. The architecture and decoration were definitely dwarven, and looked to have been undisturbed for centuries. At the far end of the room was a door, flanked by two golems; some passphrase or magical item was probably needed to enter this space safely -- as soon as we entered the room, the golems lurched into action. The golems said nothing, but tried to crush us with their fists; our warrior's weapons were able to crack their stony hides and destroy them. Within the shattered husks of the golems were life rocks (one each) and an odd cavity, seemingly large enough to contain a short, heavyset person -- perhaps a dwarf?

     The tall door at the far end of the room was opened to reveal, less than a foot away, another door -- a double sliding door, with a large window above it. Inscribed above the door was the Dwarven word "UNBREAKABLE". Around the edges of the door, and beyond the window, the party could see lots of spiderwebs, and many spiders about the size of crabs. Alpheus cast a spell which caused all the spiders to explode!

     Beyond the sliding door was a small, square room with no exits (except perhaps a hatch in its ceiling); a panel in the small room had a couple of triangular symbols. The party deduced this was a dwarven "moving room"; we got in, closed the sliding doors, and touched one of the symbols. The room lurched into motion, carrying us an unknown distance downwards. Eventually, it came to a stop, and Our Heroes rapidly tumbled out, expecting trouble.

     The space in which they found themselves was a wide cavern, possibly natural originally, but improved upon and mostly filled with dwarven structures. While to our eyes the buildings seemed quite permanent and complete, no doubt to a dwarf the area would resemble a rough camp or work site. Dwellings, workshops, and a strange cage or shop built entirely of thick glass panels loomed in the darkness; the dust and silence had lain undisturbed for centuries. A courtyard was at the center of the camp, with a high ceiling or shaft barely visible far above. We sat on rocks and rubble, to eat a skimpy lunch.

     The remains of furnishings, tools, and other debris littered the area; there was no sign of conflict (except the broken glass door of the glass structure). The party (especially Garrick) explored the chambers and rooms, seeking clues and an exit. At least two items of note were discovered: 

 

    • a triangular metal key (used to operate the "moving room")

    • the fragile remains of a book, written (fortunately) in the Common language

 

notes on Alrid Gauld's diary

     The book was a diary, kept by a dwarf named Alrid Gauld, of the smith caste, at a time when "... thaig after thaig still fall", so presumably during the First Blight more than a thousand years ago. He was working for a dwarven Paragon, named Ronus; the dwarves came from the thaig of Kal-Sharok. Ronus and his followers were engaged in a (possibly misguided and reckless) attempt to construct a fortress, employing red lyrium in its fabric. The exact nature of the fortress wasn't clear from the diary; but it was obviously a creation of powerful ... well, not magic, but certainly an unusual nature. It was to have at least two layers of defenses:  an outer wall or shell, and an inner keep; and it contained, or was in the form of, a triple inverted hexakaidecagon -- whatever that was! The fortress would "bend and absorb energy but not break" -- it would be the "Infinite Shield".

     Also mentioned:  "the Debrach", which seemed to be a word or name for something the fortress countered:  decay, darkspawn, a wizard or archdemon ... again, not clear. The Paragon only shared his lore and detailed plans with a "chosen few ... fawning followers"; Alrid felt perhaps Ronus wasn't worthy of his title.

     Alrid mentioned that he himself had created a small "matrix" as an example of a better version of the Infinite Shield, using liferock and a small amount of blue lyrium instead of (dangerous and unstable) red lyrium. There is a pretty clear reference to the odd yellowish-gold object we found later in the fortress keep:

 

"I have only finished a small square of the improved Infinite Shield, and done nothing but attached a couple of simple enarmes."

 

     He had also made several copies of the key to the moving room, to allow himself to visit the Paragon and present his creation. Given where we eventually found the Infinite Shield, perhaps Alrid did in fact meet Ronus.

 

     Garrick was able to climb a nearly-sheer wall, and then lowered a rope for the rest of use to climb into a high window looking down into the courtyard. Beyond the window were a series of long-abandoned private quarters, apparently those used by important dwarves; another sliding door led us into a moving room. This time we used the triangular key; the room took us to another level -- possibly the Fortress Hall itself, where the Barrier Keep had been under construction. Much of the space was filled with rubble and debris -- tubes, metal rods and bars, broken ceramics and other strange dwarven materials. The undestroyed walls glowed with a dull red luminescence; possibly red lyrium?

     A square item, somewhat like a shield in size, caught the attention of the party, and it was pulled from the rubble. Hidden beneath it had been the skull of a long-dead dwarf. The square item did not have an immediately obvious use; the straps on its back were somewhat crudely fashioned (and very old). In any case, Malic said that the darkspawn were on this level, within a hundred yards or so, and the party proceeded onwards.

     A long, rugged passage led winding away from the fortress; coming around a corner Our Heroes realized nearly a dozen hurlocks were lurking nearby. We crept close, and our warriors launched a surprise attack! A couple of the hurlocks were exceptional -- one was casting magical spells, in fact. But, after a few desperate minutes, they were slain; Eornan, Bran and Garrick had all been seriously injured by the battle. We filled several bottles with darkspawn blood, healed the worst of our injuries, and began the slow return to Hounds Hall. Garrick searched the hurlock corpses for items of value ...

     It was mid-afternoon by the time the party was back in the clean, overly-warm chambers of the Grey Wardens' headquarters ...

 

on to The Legacy of Wrale

Comments (4)

Michael said

at 11:41 am on Jul 15, 2013

I don't recall the hurlocks having anything of note, or worth hauling away.

Michael said

at 10:41 pm on Jul 14, 2013

Hmm, you're probably right about the name; and few female dwarves are smiths, apparently. Changed accordingly.

Kirk said

at 9:41 am on Jul 15, 2013

Famous female smiths for $20: the Paragon Branka.

Kirk said

at 2:27 pm on Jul 14, 2013

The dwarf's name seems to be Alrid Gauld, not Astrid. Therefore, maybe 'he' not 'she' ?

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