Your heads throb with thunderous headaches. Your ears ring. The air feels thick in your throats.
Echoes of clattering rocks, coughing, and moans of pain reach your ears. The scent of dust is thick in the air. The area is completely dark.
Altruis Heavensward ignites a fiery halo above his head. Vendric will light a torch.
As our heroes get their bearings, their recent memories return:
Armasse officially began at noon, with the blessing of the festival by Lord Hulrun himself, ruler of Kenabres. The crowd gathered in Clydwell Plaza quieted as the aged inquisitor took the stage, clad in shining, resplendent armor. He cleared his throat, but just as he was about to speak, a bright light shone from the west, as if the sun were rising from the wrong direction. Hulrun’s shadow fell huge and distorted across the cathedral’s facade. A moment later, the sound of a thunderous explosion ripped through the air and earth, along with a violent tremor.
To the west, the fortress known as the Kite—the location of Kenabres’s wardstone—had vanished. In its place, a brilliant plume of red fire, lightning, and smoke erupted into the heavens.
A moment later, a powerful roar accompanied a welcome sight rising from the crowd—Kenabres’s greatest guardian, the ancient silver dragon Terendelev, who had until that moment been attending the opening ceremony disguised as a human. Above, another form appeared, as nightmarish as the dragon was breathtaking. A humanoid shape three times the size of any man, with skin coated in fire and lightning, gripped a flaming sword and whip. The creature’s identity was immediately obvious: Khorramzadeh, the Storm King of the Worldwound, had come to Kenabres!
As the ground continued to shake and disgorge demons into the streets, the dragon and the balor lord clashed above. The fight was over in a few harrowing moments, as the balor cut deep into Terendelev’s body, swooping down to strike the dragon and arresting her charge. A few more blows, and the titanic duo spiraled downward toward the crowd.
The sight of the dragon smashing into the facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell is one no witness would ever forget. At that moment, a titanic demon erupted at the far end of the plaza, reducing several buildings to ruins as it smashed into this world. The rift it created shot across the plaza, and this time there was no escape—it opened below your feet, angling away into darkness.
Even as you fell, the dragon noticed your plight. Though she saw death standing over her, she seized this final chance to save a few more souls. After she uttered a few arcane words and stretched out a bleeding talon, you felt her magic take hold of you, slowing your plummet into the darkness as if you were feathers falling into a pit. Yet the fall remained as inexorable, and as you drifted downward into the depths, the last thing you saw was the Storm King standing before the ancient silver dragon, his sword lashing out and cleaving full through her neck. As her severed head fell, the rift above you slammed shut, and the light of the world above was gone.
Altruis Heavensward: "Is everyone alright?"
Nightwolf: "Thank you to whomever is responsible for that light."
Vendric rubs his head. "I suppose it is a bit much to hope all of that was just a horrible dream?"
Zullion groans as he slowly gets up from where he fell. His head still spinning. He groans out a muffled, "I think so"
Nightwolf: Yes, I am uninjured.
Tomas Castonello: "Agh! The wardstone! We're not safe here!"
Aravashnial: "My eyes hurt.... and my light spell doesn't appear to be working. if something's suppressing magic in this area we may be in serious trouble."
Tomas Castonello: "No... no, I must have light! My spellbook may be damaged!"
Zullion takes account of any and all his current belongings
Altruis Heavensward: "Umm, the light is working just fine. My halo has manifested properly."
Tomas Castonello fumbles around for his spell component pouch and attempts to create a Dancing Light.
Horgus Gwerm: "What's this? I didn't ask to be woken this morning..."
Vendric: "The light seems to work fine for me." He looks at the elf.
Aravashnial: "What are you talking about?... it's completely dark." An edge of panic starts to creep into the eyeless elf's face
Tomas Castonello: "Oh... you're right. But that's the least of our troubles."
Sarathel Tirabade: "I might be able to help... I can heal, some."
Tomas Castonello: "Another? Wait, how many are here now?"
Sarathel Tirabade gets slowly up, half-dragging a leg that will not bend as she limps over.
Nightwolf: I count 8 of us including you
Tomas Castonello: "Wait, you're hurt! Don't move too much!"
Zullion: "We can't stay here" he looks up, shock in his eyes still as if the happenings have not yet fully sunk in
Sarathel Tirabade shakes her head. "Been that way for years. My sister and I tumbled down a well.... we were both hurt... I prayed
for some way to help... I could heal her, but not myself."
Vendric: "Your light does indeed work. But i'm afraid that isn't your problem. I'm not sure how to tell you this gently but your eyes have been damaged quite severely."
Zullion: "I shall scout ahead" he starts to move to one of the passage ways
Aravashnial deliberately closes his eyelids over the empty sockets. "No.... no.... this can't be happening."
Nightwolf nocks an arrow.
Zullion's shield and weapon are out in case they were not alone with just allies
Nightwolf "Let us find a way out of this place"
Tomas Castonello regards Horgus Gwerm. "And what about you, sir? Are you able to walk?"
Horgus Gwerm stretches and slowly stands. "I am in perfect health, good sir. And I will pay a thousand gold for a safe escort back to my home."
Nightwolf "You sir, with the damaged eyes. What is your name?"
Zullion: "Barter later, move now" he barks out in frustration
Aravashnial: "Did anything useful land down here with us? We should make a thorough search of the immediate area before groping... blindly... in the deep... dark... caves..."
Altruis Heavensward: "Material compensation is not needed, sir. I would just happily see you home safely, all of you."
Something glitters faintly to the Southwest. Vendric moves to investigate. A few silver scales reflect the light from the rubble. Vendric approaches them.
Tomas Castonello: "Don't you worry, then. My name is Tomas, and I specialize in aids for the impaired and disenfranchised. You can rest assured neither cliff nor pitfall nor dead of night will stop you from your intended destination!"
Aravashnial reaches up. "Would you lend me an arm, young man? I am not accustomed to.... this."
Tomas Castonello walks over to the elf. "If your sight is impaired, I'll need you to stay close by. Perhaps we'll be best suited staying in formation as we find the quickest way topside."
Tomas Castonello puts a hand on the elf's shoulder
Sarathel Tirabade touches the elf's forehead. "Here... I can at least tend those burns."
As Zullion approaches 2 giant maggots pop out of the spider.
Zullion: "Gah! Watch out!" he shouts out in warning.
Aravashnial: "Thank you, miss." The elf hauls himself up on Tomas's arm.
Nightwolf shoots at the farther maggot. His arrow hits its center mass.
Aravashnial: "What's happening?"
Zullion: "Large maggots!" he calls back
Nightwolf "Stay where you are sir. We shall deal with the danger!"
Tomas Castonello: "Alright, so from what I can see, this gentleman with the shiny armor is picking a fight with a corpse... and there's this other fellow with a bright wreathe on his head. And we're off in the corner here, but I should probably assist with the investigation."
Tomas Castonello grabs Aravashnial's hand and bids the others follow him, moving slowly toward the maggot-infested corpse south. Aravashnial lets himself be towed along by the kindly young caster. Once he closes to within 30 ft, Tomas throws a Telekinetic Fist at the nearer maggot. It misses.
Aravashnial: "Corpse? There's someone down here who... didn't make it?"
Tomas Castonello: "Um, it looks like a... a dead spider thing."
Altruis Heavensward charges forward, drawing his longsword and swinging at the injured giant maggot, and slicing it into quite still halves.
Tomas Castonello sends a small rush of air toward the maggot, which swipes over it and whizzes toward the ceiling.
Zullion: Seeing that Altruis has taken care of the one of the wriggling masses, he takes a swing with his scimitar at the other. His aim is true, and the vermin falls dead.
For strangers who wander here, our cast:
Altruis Heavensward (m aasimar paladin [Chosen One])
Nightwolf (m Shoanti slayer of Desna)
Tomas Castonello (m human transmuter)
Vendric (m half-elf alchemist)
Zullion (m Keleshite cavalier of the lion [beast rider, gallant, gendarme])
Vendric examines the scales. As Vendric touches them, knowledge flows into his mind.
Altruis Heavensward studies the maggots but does not succeed in determining their edibility.
Zullion: "Anything else that popped up? Everyone still okay I assume?"
Tomas Castonello: "I think we're fine. I also see a tunnel leading down from where we are!"
Altruis Heavensward: "Depending on how long we're down here, we'll have to possibly eat things we don't want to."
Horgus Gwerm: "Shall we not borrow such trouble please, sir knight?"
Vendric holds up the scales as he rejoins the others. "It seems these are from Terendelev. And they contain some of her power that i think some of us could use."
Altruis Heavensward: "Knight? Oh, thank you, but i'm just a squire."
Nightwolf "Let us find our way out of here then."
Zullion: "Vendric? Scales from the great dragon?"
Horgus Gwerm: "And i am Lord Gwerm."
Vendric: "Indeed. They each contain some form of power in them. though they only seem to work when apart."
"Altruis Heavensward, Squire to Knight Velora of the Order of the Sunrise Sword."
Tomas Castonello: "Lord Gwerm, you say? It's a pleasure to be in the company of distinguished souls."
Zullion: "May I see them?"
Tomas Castonello squeezes the elf's hand. "And what should we call you, sir?"
Aravashnial: "I am Aravashnial. A wizard of some note. I have some spells memorized, but I fear they are a .... limited commodity."
Vendric hands over three of the scales as he continues examining one.
Sarathel Tirabade: "And I am Sarathel Tirabade. Normally, I'm helping the healers, but I happened to be helping set up the evening's firework display when.... the unexpected happened."
Tomas Castonello: "Aravashni... a wizard, you say? What a small world! This is perfect! We'll be outside in no time!"
Nightwolf: "Best save them."
Zullion simply stares at the scales for some time, he closes his eyes and brings them to his chest. His lips seem to move as he silently say something
Tomas Castonello waves to Vendric in earnest to pass over a scale
Aravashnial nods. "And the ones which require a line of sight will be less than helpful, I'm afraid."
Nightwolf "I am Nightwolf my bow is at your service."
Vendric attention returns to the group. "I am Vendric, Traveling alchemist and follower of Desna."
A dove lands on Altruis' shoulder and chirps "Have faith and push on." in Celestial.
Tomas Castonello: "Hey, can I see one of those? They look like they dropped off of the dragon from above."
Zullion: He opens his eyes, and looks at Thomas. He glances at the scales, then hands over two of them to him
Nightwolf "Dragons have powerful magic, obviously. We should bring the scales along. They may be of some use, to someone on the surface if nothing else."
Sarathel Tirabade limps slowly behind the party.
Vendric: "Well that is interesting. A dove that talks. In celestial even."
Horgus Gwerm hangs back near the edge of the light.
Altruis Heavensward: "Yes, I met her up above some time ago, seems to think I have the makings of a paladin, imagine that."
Tomas Castonello: "A familiar, is it? That's odd. Usually one has to undergo a serious amount of arcane studies before you can bond yourself with a familiar."
Vendric stops a moment and examines the worms.
Zullion: "People, we seriously need to move. This is hardly the place or time."
Tomas Castonello: "You're right. Survivalist text says we should be looking for an updraft. That means there is a hole that escapes to the surface Usually if a holy knight happens upon a celestial creature, it's a horse or other creature suitable to bear them in battle. That they would send a bird, it's... unlikely."
Vendric: "Or perhaps the bird is more than it appears."
Altruis Heavensward climbs the waist-high ledge just past the narrows.
Nightwolf "Is there something in that alcove?"
There is a backpack resting on a ledge 14 feet above the tunnel floor. Altruis Heavensward then goes about assisting everyone else up as he makes a request of the dove in celestial. The dove flies up to investigate. The wall leading up to the ledge on which the backpack sits is quite smooth. The dove alights on the backpack and flaps in a futile attempt to drag the pack to drop into the squire's waiting arms.
Tomas Castonello casts Mage Armor as he nears the ledge.
Nightwolf "Come sir, I shall assist your leg with this ledge if you desire."
Zullion: "I shall take point" he says as he moves farther down the tunnel.
Nightwolf "I have a rope if we need it to scale that ledge"
Tomas Castonello: "You go ahead and do that. I'll stay below and spot you."
Vendric: "Well the pack is what we want right? If we can get that down there is no need to climb up."
Altruis Heavensward: "Just pass the rope over to the dove and she'll help us get it down."
However, the pack does give off a glass-like tinkling when the bird pushes on it.
The dove attempts to peck open the backpack and get out the lighter materials. Vendric tries to climb up to the pack and bird but fails to find any handholds. His feet stay firmly on the ground.
Tomas Castonello: "I'm starting to feel like my mage hand could do a better job."
The bird manages to open the flap, but hasn't gotten anything out of it. The dove reaches a taloned foot into the bag to grab a potion and brings the contents down one by one.
Vendric: "I'm not good with things that require brute strength."
Tomas Castonello makes a small gesture with his free hand, and produces a translucent hand that floats up to assist the dove in removing items
The alchemist and mage (Vendric and Tomas) identify the potions
Tomas Castonello: "Hey, a healing potion! Our luck is changing quick!"
Sarathel Tirabade: "We're still alive... I'd say our luck's been fairly good already today."
Altruis Heavensward lets the dove land on his finger and gently pats her head. The dove coos.
Zullion: "Are we done? Let us continue, I would prefer to be out of this hole and back to more hospitable grounds"
Altruis Heavensward: "We have no idea how long we'll be down here, so we need to stock up on supplies."
Aravashnial: "The squire is quite right."
Zullion: "I did not say the bag was a waste of time, I am simply saying we need to move along as quickly as possible"
Thomas helps the blind elf and lame half-orc up the short rise.
Tomas Castonello: "Alright. Is everybody up?"
Horgus Gwerm grumbles about squeezing through the narrow passage.
Altruis Heavensward moves northward to investigate what appears to be an old campsite "What's that?" A pair of giant cockroaches burst out of the pile! "Cockroaches!" Altruis exclaims.
Altruis Heavensward swings his blade at roach on the left, missing. The roach attempts to retaliate, mandibles catching harmlessly on his hide armor.
Vendric throws a bomb barely hitting the right roach's foot, but scorching both roaches, and the squire. Nightwolf takes a moment to study his target before letting loose an arrow, which strikes true. One of the roaches falls dead. Tomas Castonello sends another blast of wind at the grazing it, then zips behind the others and huddles for cover. Zullion moves forward, his weapon ready to strike at the creature, but it dodges out of the way. Altruis Heavensward impales the head of the cockroach with his blade.
Tomas Castonello: "Oh, be sure to save that carapace! It can be used in a variety of spells."
Zullion: "Secure the area before we move on."
They thoroughly search the camp. Tomas is taken with the amethyst-eyed bat-brooch as Altruis climbs a 5 ft. tall farther to the east.
Tomas Castonello: "Aha, a bargain piece! Doubtful we'll be able to make use of it. I can save those gems for a spell later though."
Altruis Heavensward: "Let me help you all up, this one is a smidge taller than the last."
Tomas Castonello: Nah, I'll just put it in my component pouch for later." Tomas proceeds to climb carefully and help the others climb up as well.
The snake at the far side of the chamber rears and hisses as its lair is entered. Nightwolf takes a step and studies the snake. vefore shooting its midsection. The cave viper slithers rapidly at its attacker, but the archer dodges its strike a hair's breadth before Zullion beheads the snake. Vendric picks up the head and milks it for venom.
Altruis Heavensward: "Let me help you all up, this one is a smidge taller than the last."
Tomas Castonello: Nah, I'll just put it in my component pouch for later." Tomas proceeds to climb carefully and help the others climb up as well.
The snake at the far side of the chamber rears and hisses as its lair is entered. Nightwolf takes a step and studies the snake. before shooting its midsection. The cave viper slithers rapidly at its attacker, but the archer dodges its strike a hair's breadth before Zullion beheads the snake. Vendric picks up the head and milks it for venom.
Tomas Castonello lets the stragglers climb up the ledge, then engages with Aravashnial while helping him through the tunnel. They have about 25 minutes of winding narrow tunnels before reaching the next point of interest.
Tomas Castonello: "So, what sorts of magic do you study? I put a great deal of focus into Transmutation, myself."
Aravashnial: "Conjuration has always been my specialty."
Tomas Castonello: "Really? I hear that is a really powerful school. Perhaps later we could exchange notes? I could help you review my materials... given the situation."
Aravashnial: "I left my spellbook back in my quarters when I left for the celebration... but a technical discussion would be quite diverting."
Vendric: "I'd be interested in looking at them as well. Most of my extracts are based on the same arcane principles as your spells."
Tomas Castonello: "Oh, sure! I learned a lot about conjuring while I was studying under the dia... under a fellow arcane enthusiast. I have a number of hypotheses regarding the finer points of dimensional travel..."
Altruis's eyes narrow as he considers what Tomas almost said.
omas Castonello: "As for those chemical reagents of yours, the field of herbology has long interested me. Do you have a journal too?"
Aravashnial: "Dimensional travel is something to be approached delicately. When misused it can break down the barriers between the planes.... which is how Sorkoris' downfall began."
Vendric: "I do but some of my things may be a bit different than what you are used to."
Altruis Heavensward: "My understanding of magic is quite limited. I've always found myself drawn to the sword."
Tomas Castonello: "I see your point. While my understanding of planar boundaries has led me to believe it is an intuitive medium, moving around on the plane you are in becomes quickly complicated. Perhaps the two are less related than I first thought..."
Aravashnial: "It's that sort of undisciplined approach that could result in a second foothold for all our foes... or are you some of the hidden demonic agents?' he pulls away sharply.
Horgus Gwerm: "By the First Key! Those infiltrators only exist in your rattled head!"
Aravashnial: "Just because you were shown not to be one doesn't mean they don't exist."
Tomas Castonello: "Demons? I'd really rather not get involved in any more radical idealisms. That's a wormhole I would just as soon ignore."
Vendric: "You say "in any more". Does that mean you have in the past?"
Aravashnial rubs his head where he did bang against a wall in pulling sharply away.
Altruis Heavensward pings Tomas with detect evil. Tomas Castonello does not detect as evil.
Tomas Castonello: "It's been a long journey. Let's just say, some people are far too interested in being a cog in some grand mechanism. I am far above being a footnote in somebody else's story. Nobody will drive my course anymore."
Altruis Heavensward: "Well, he's not evil, as far as I can tell."
Tomas Castonello: "What's that supposed to mean?"
Vendric: "Those are interesting words. It sounds like you have quite a past."
Zullion: "I urge you once again, banter can be done when we know we are safe"
Altruis Heavensward: "The tunnel winds and i'd rather not spend it in silence."
Sarathel Tirabade: "Are you trying to get them more on edge? The man's trapped in darkness and you'd have him trapped in silence as well?"
Vendric: "Well its not like there is much else to do while we are walking. Besides this is one of the good things about traveling with others. Being able to talk to others as we go."
Tomas Castonello: "I personally think that all magic is rooted in some formative... hey, I think there's something ahead!"
To the north they are drawn by a green glow, which washes over a single sizable 20-foot-tall building remains in the center of this 30-foot-high cave, a bunker-like structure with no windows and walls of worked stone blocks. A 10-foot-long carving of a hammer decorates the building’s facade. The ruins of collapsed outbuildings stand to either side.
Altruis and Vendric hear the steps of a man-sized insect from the building's east side. Altruis sneaks to the corner, and strikes as a man-sized fly steps into view. walking along the wall. Zellion, a step behind, follows with his own scimitar, ichor oozes from the fly's wounds, to be seared shut with the fly's death, as one of Vendric's bombs lands just behind it. It falls off the wall.
Our heroes circle the structure to find a stone door. The door does not open easily. There is no lock on it. It's just stuck.
Tomas Castonello: "This must be the realm of some dwarven miners. Of course their doors are all stone..."
The door pops open as Altruis's shoulder hits it. Within, is a small foyer. A stone bench lines the southern wall. At the far end of the room, a basin of water sits atop a stone pedestal. A stone door engraved with an image of a hammer stands to the north.
Tomas Castonello: "Finally, we have water!"
Vendric examines the water, noticing some silvery gleams from it. Altruis Heavensward checks on the next door. Tomas Castonello beckons the others forward and brings them toward the building.
Vendric: "This could come in useful later"
Zullion fills his waterskin with the water just found. The door opens easily.
Tomas Castonello: "These guys found us a place to rest. Now even if we don't find some food, we can survive for a night."
Zullion: "A place to rest. Perhaps yes, this is a good time"
Broken stone benches line this room. The air is cold and stale, and thick layers of dust cover the floor, benches, and a large altar at the far end of the room. A warhammer sits at the feet of the dust-covered dwarf.
Aravashnial: "What sort of shelter? Caves are often shelters on their own."
Nightwolf "I do not need to rest yet but if the injured do I'm happy to hold watch."
As the paladin steps close...
Zullion: "Ï shall inspect it"
Tomas Castonello: "Please, let's just stay here for a while and drink up-"
the figure rises with shriek! The paladin's blade hits the wall beside the undead.
Tomas Castonello: "The creature is sensitive to things that are magic... or silver... does anyone have silver?"
The undead takes one of Nightwolf's arrows through the neck...but it doesn't seem too inconvenienced by this. More serious is its reaction when Vendric douses it with holy water. Tomas steps in, a brilliant beam of energy leaping from his hand to strike the undead. It withers and falls.
((Thus ends the first session.))
Nightwolf searches the remains of the fallen huecuva, which he still thinks is a zombie.
Zullion: "This may be just the safest place to rest in"
Vendric: "I know all about consecration"
Tomas: "I hope so. I was not at all prepared to be cast into a forgotten chasm. Maybe I can reevaluate after some quiet reflection."
Zullion: "We need to set up a watch while we rest, we do not wish to be caught off-guard"
Vendric: "We should make this a holy place again first. It would be better to make this once again a place to receive Torag's blessing."
Tomas: "What do you expect us to do? We're not exactly dwarven apostles. I don't know what their customs are."
Vendric: "I know the rituals we need but it will take awhile."
Zullion: "Those who need their saleep, will have to help when they wake or beefore they go to rest."
Nightwolf "How long is a while? Perhaps it would be best to get the injured back to the surface first"
Tomas Castonello: "You mean, if there's a surface to get to..."
Horgus Gwerm: "We may well be safer down here than up there at the moment, but I'm not about to spend the next 60 years eating fungus and vermin."
Vendric: "It will take around eight hours of effort. It is a time consuming task but with what is going on it may not be a bad idea to get on a god's good side. But if more help we can get it done quicker."
Zullion: "I will help with the restoration of this place, during my watch hours, if that sounds acceptable," he offers.
Nightwolf "Very well, I would prefer to keep moving but I think it best we stick together. Perhaps having a safe place to retreat too may prove useful."
Tomas Castonello: "No offense to you, old man, but I don't see a god getting us out of here. We'd have so be some kind of lucky just to find a way out."
Sarathel Tirabade: "Having the favor of the divine is never to be scoffed at, young man."
Vendric: "Old man? I don't think I'm that much older than you. Besides the more helping the less time it will take. With the four of us it should only take a couple hours."
Tomas Castonello: "Oh? By the way you carried yourself and the stick, I assumed you were an old geezer using Transmutation aids."
Sarathel Tirabade: "I would be happy to help, as I can."
Tomas Castonello: "I'm afraid I don't have access to my best cleaning spell. Best I can do is move light trinkets about."
Vendric: "You have your hands don't you? They are one of the best tools for almost any task. Cleaning happens to be one."
Tomas Castonello: "My hands are for casting, not cleaning. I can conjure you some water, if you have a bucket."
Aravashnial: "There is the basin which Zullion emptied of holy water..."
Tomas Castonello: "It's empty already? Gonna need it then. Sealed or not, I'm not going thirsty down here." Tomas Castonello stretches his arms, cracks his knuckles, and flows with the graceful motions of conjuration. In no time, the empty basin dampens, and water trickles in from all directions to fill it.
Vendric: "Well shall we start?"
Vendric begins cleaning the shrine. Altruis Heavensward gets to work on the cleaning, with the dove offering sprightly birdsong. Nightwolf does his best to aid in the ritual as instructed. Tomas Castonello assists by providing expert supervision, offering insight into better cleanliness techniques, and stepping politely out of the way. Zullion does what is needed of him. Moving objects and debris out of the way making it easier for the rest to clean up. Sarathel Tirabade true to her word, scrubs sections of the floor... slow movement not hindering that notably. The cleansing and ritual take only 2 hours, with so many hands hard at work. As they finish, a gentle golden light fills the chapel for a minute, and the occupants are filled with a sense of confidence.
Vendric: "See that wasn't so bad and seems our efforts were rewarded."
Nightwolf "I believe Torag would be pleased"
Sarathel Tirabade nods. "I feel that He is."
Vendric: "He may not be the deity I follow but I would want someone to do the same for a shrine to Desna if they had the chance."
Gwerm: "That's a rather idealistic perspective, for such times as these."
"Indeed. Do onto others... and all that" Zullion wipes the sweat from his brow as he starts to get ready to get a bit of sleep before they push on.
Nightwolf: "In any case the task is complete. Shall we move on?"
Altruis: "We must always seek to be better than the demons we face, and cleansing a shrine is another victory in their face."
Horgus smirks. "Maybe if they were here to see it."
"Don't go and invite trouble" Zullion frowns.
Horgus: "I've never found it to wait for an invitation."
Vendric: "So what is the plan. Do we press on or stay here for a quick rest?
"After all that work, I think we need to take a rest. If we face trouble I prefer to be refreshed. Not have sore joints"
Nightwolf: "Very well I shall take one of the watch shifts. So long as I am relieved long enough not to be fatigued in the morning."
"Yeah, I elect to go last. There's not much I can do except light the hall."
Vendric, Nightwolf, and Zullion's watches seem uneventful.
Altruis, in his guarding, hears skittering from the passage south. When he goes out to investigate, he sees a giant centipede reach the edge of the fungal light, then stop as though it's hit a wall, turn around, and stomp away.
Altruis: "Huh, It seems Torag is ensuring we have a place to rest peacefully."
Tomas Castonello stares across the cavern with his humanoid light stalking up and down the floor. The light shimmers on the walls, casting haunting images in the glow. Once, he could even swear that a long, rubbery figure with claws slithered its way across the wall.
Eight hours later, everyone should be awake...and most likely hungry. Nightwolf recalls the masterwork pack they found was packed with rations. Vendric pulls out some trail rations and his alchemy kit. brewing a bit of coffee he keeps in there.
Zullion: "I believe I have a few extra rations too"
Altruis elects himself to eat only half a days rations to help conserve food. Tomas spends his time in silence putting his affairs in order, then begins the day with an incantation that removes the dust and sweat from his person. Zullion and Vendric spend an hour in rituals, Zullion walking back and forth, whilst Vendric dances to the names of the stars he whispers.
Altruis wipes his mouth at what was probably a meager snack at best to him and gets up, "Shall we?"
Tomas: "A night was fine, but I'd really like to get going now. Does anyone need help packing up?"
"I agree. Best be on our way." Zullion looks about the place and gives a nod "Torah, if you are listening. We thank you for the safe harbor you provided"
Vendric: "I'm all set to go. Having traveled almost all my life packing up is one of the first things you end up mastering."
"As soon as possible, please." Tomas looks around anxiously
Aravashnial: "Did anyone see where I put my spell components?" He gropes blindly near his resting place. "I can't seem to find the pouch...."
Altruis and Vendric help him search for his component pouch. Altruis retrieves the pouch from under a bench and places it in Aravashnial's hands.
The elf smiles. "Thank you, young squire."
Horgus: "Can we get moving now? I'd like to see sunlight before my hair falls out."
"Or your eyes turn white and you become blind?" Zullion chuckles.
Aravashnial flinches at Zullion's remark.
Horgus: "I'd quite like to avoid that, yes."
Tomas: "Yes please. Allow me to light the path ahead."
Altruis: "Aravashnial, do you speak Celestial?"
Aravashnial (Celestial): "Of course, young man."
Altruis nods and instructs his companion, the dove, to stay on Aravashnial's shoulder and describe his surroundings, "I hope this will be of at least minor comfort."
Zullion: "If we make it. I promise to help our friend here with his sight. Right now. In the dark. We are all very much clueless on what lies ahead."
Tomas conjures another man of light and bids it walk down the path, stepping ahead just far enough to light the road before them. The tunnel winds generally southward and slightly upward for the next 3,000 feet (and 40 minutes). Altruis's halo of fire remains above his head. Zullion readies his shield and sword as he takes point where it's permitted.
The tunnel opens onto a wider cavern. Stone figures are carved into the walls of this cavern. Each depicts a different crusader clad in armor and wielding weapons, but their carved stone features contain expressions of sadness. The dove chirps the room's description to Aravashnial.
Zullion: "This may be a place of sorrow and loss. And with demons about. It could manifest. Be on your guard."
Vendric looks around, lighting a torch. Two creatures emerge from behind statues as the party enters the cavern.
Tomas: "There can't be demons, surely not! We would have noticed..."
As these creatures fall from the cavern roof, they open like a hideous octopus, their thin, hook-lined tentacles connected by a fleshy web.
"Protect the civilians!" Zullion calls out in warning.
Nightwolf: "What manner of beast..."
"Darkmantles... that's even worse! Don't let it touch me!"
hadows extend from the darkmantle as it flies towards the intruders. Altruis swings his blade and a soft thud can be heard.
Altruis: "They're like wet paper."
The second darkmantle cloaks itself in shadows and flies out, its shadowed area overlaps with its kin's, both overriding the party's dancing light and halo.
Nightwolf curses and nocks another arrow, loosing into the darkness. A clatter echoes from its depths. Hoping for the Best, Zullion moves to where he thinks the beast may be, and tries to hack at it with his weapon. Zullion stumbles past the darkmantle as he swings in the dark. The darkmantle has better aim, slamming into Zullion, but he fends it off as it tries to wrap around his head. Tomas steps around the corner and into the cave aiming for the sound of Zullion's grunt, and warms up a small iota of energy in the palm of his open hand.
Tomas: "Keep talking, warrior! I almost got it!" He hurls the blob of acid into the darkness. A wet splat can be heard from the general vicinity.
Vendric pulls out some of his supplies as he begins to mix some things quickily. "I hope this works." He mutters as he pours the concoction on his torch and towards the darkness. The illumination takes effect. The area around Vendric is bright, and around the darkmantle is dim to normal.
Altruis steps in to attack. Once more the squire's blade strikes true. The wounded creature turns to retaliate, bouncing harmlessly from the aasimar's armor. Nightwolf takes a shot at the now-illuminated darkmantle. There's another soft thud just after an arrow finds its mark and the beast falls from the air.
Altruis: "Well struck!"
Nightwolf searches for his lost arrow to no avail. They wait for the magical darkness to subside.
"Well fought" Zullion praises his companions. He looks back at their wards. "Did any of you receive any injuries?"
Vendric examines the statues.
Altruis: "Aravashnial, you've got to hear this. There's crusader statues."
Tomas clinches his teeth, shivering as he shakes off the darkness. "I... let me take a l-look too..."
Sarathel: "I can heal that bruise, if you wish, Zullion."
Zullion: "I appreciate the offer. But I would rather you save your blessings for more dire injuries. Maybe one of the others or yourself."
Aravashnial: "Crusader, you say? There's an old legend that after the First Crusade a group of crusaders who had become infected with Abyssal energies fled into these caverns to raise their deformed children in peace, and that their descendants live on today in the tunnels below the city. These statues must have been carved by those deformed children!"
The dove goes about describing each of the statues to Aravashnial.
"Better safe than sorry friend Vendric" Zullion smiles.
Aravashnial listens to the dove intently "Yes... yes, the armor sounds right for the period."
Nightwolf: "Does the legend mention if they are friendly to outsiders? ...or if they know a way to the surface?"
Vendric: "That is interesting. Perhaps we could meet these descendants and they may be able to help lead us out of here."
Aravashnial: "They can be presumed ready to defend themselves from abuse, and these statues show they revere their progenitors, and likely have inherited the hatred for the fiends which corrupted their forms."
Tomas: "But if they were corrupted by the Abyssal nature... then what if they inherited their temper?"
Altruis: "Who knows, but if they live down here, that must mean there is at least a steady supply of food." Altruis's stomach gurgles loudly.
Vendric: "We wont know for sure until we meet them. I wish I could have done more in the fight. But in that darkness I would have only risked hitting one of you with my bombs more than hitting the darkmantles."
Nightwolf: "My arrow likely would not have hit its target without the aid of your light."
Altruis: "Nor my blade."
As Altruis reaches the crack leading to the next cavern, he sees a dwarf casting a spell and beginning to blur.
Altruis: "Sir, we mean you no harm, we're just trying to find a way out of here."
The dwarf shrieks: "Glaaaarbegust!"
Zullion tilts his head a bit "uh. Bless you?"
"Hey, holy man, what did you say to him? He looks positively livid!"
The dwarf continues shrieking. "You crusaders won't fool me! You got tired of sending your misbegotten minions at me, and now you've come for me yourselves!"
Altruis: "Sir, please. We don't want to fight. we just want to pass through peacefully, I promise."
Vendric (Dwarven): "Sir we are not crusaders. And we do not know what you are talking about. Perhaps if you calm down and talk we can sort this out."
Dwarven Caster: "You just want to get close enough to catch me! You'll never take me alive!"
Altruis attempts to detect evil on the dwarf, to no effect.
Vendric: "Well we don't want you dead, I think."
Seeing the paladin cast a spell, the dwarf sends two magic missiles into the aasimar's chest.
Tomas: "Wait! Tell him I am also a man of arcane arts! We can share notes!"
Vendric: "Seems time for talk has passed."
"No!" Zullion tries to step between his companions and the dwarf. Doing this has him effectively, and deliberately, blocking the passage.
Altruis: "Let us through, if he's wanted by the crusades, then there must be a good reason for it."
Zullion: "We are in the wrong here. And what if he is one of the offspring we seek? Harming him will not help us get out."
Altruis: "He's clearly not in his right mind and presents a danger to the innocents we have here."
Tomas: "If you have a plan, you better execute it. I know better than to trifle with an evoker on the brink."
Dwarven Caster: "What's this? A brother of the Ivory Labyrinth come to my aid? Come, let us slay these interlopers together for Baphomet's glory!"
Tomas: "He's a demon worshiper! Don't let him cast again!"
Vendric: ""That is the name of a demon lord. It seems our friend here is one of his followers."
Nightwolf rounds out the chorus of recognition: "He speaks of an evil god. Get out of the way and let me have a clear shot!"
"In that case... fall by the power of the Great Dragon!" Zullion challenges the dwarf, drawing his scimitar as he starts towards the dwarf.
Tomas rushes over and huddles behind his companion, using his body for cover. "If you see him move his arms, ready an attack. He can't concentrate if we pelt him with fire!"
The dwarf takes one of Nightwolf's arrows in the shoulder. Vendric throws a bomb, which lands a few feet from the dwarf who manages to dodge most of the splashing fire. He then moves in, and casts a spell at the clustered heroes. A vivid cone of clashing colors springs forth from his hand to no effect on the willful trio. Blade at the ready, Zullion steps in to meet his foe, and nearly takes an arm off. Tomas deftly darts behind an archer, warms up another energy shot, and prepares for the exact moment the dwarf tries to pull another spell off. Nightwolf fires again, and the dwarf falls, an arrow through his throat. Tomas and Vendric rifle through the dwarf's possessions.
((Thus ends session 2))
Altruis Heavensward: "I wouldn't happen to be able to request some healing from the lovely lady, would I?"
Sarathel Tirabade: "You certainly could.... I'm afraid it just takes me a moment to catch up." When she does, her spell closes the squire's wounds.
Altruis Heavensward stretches, "Thank you, that feels much better."
Sarathel Tirabade: "You're quite welcome. We don't need anyone getting knocked out again while we're down here."
Vendric: "That would be bad."
Zullion: "Indeed, it was quite a good rest. I just hope all is still intact on the surface."
Horgus Gwerm: "Other than the great chasms that were opened up, you mean?"
Zullion: "If what we saw is in fact that is happening, a chasm is the least of our worries."
Altruis Heavensward: "Yes, yes, but the faithful shall not falter, we will rise up to defend our world."
A steeply inclined tunnel leads upward to the north, its walls lined with numerous nooks, handholds, and dozens of iron pitons that have been driven into the walls long ago. This shaft leads upward at a steep angle for 60 feet. Zullion, being one of the more martial inclined, takes point to guard the top against assailants. Altruis Heavensward makes his way up slowly, keeping a keen eye out for anything. The handholds are so arranged as to effectively provide a ladder. Nightwolf hangs back to help the injured up the incline. After those 60 feet, the shaft levels out and winds roughly northwest for about the next half hour.
Vendric plays a bit on his lute as they walk.
Altruis Heavensward: "At least this is good for my exercises, my knight won't be disappointed when I return."
Zullion wanted to comment, but decided against it. Now was not the time to make gloomy remarks.
Aravashnial: "And we have a talented minstrel along... at least I can still hear beauty."
Zullion: "And if all goes well, i will help you be able to see beauty again" he places a reassuring hand on Aravashnial's shoulder.
Aravashnial twitches a smile. "Thank you, young man."
Vendric: "Well i find music helps keep the spirits on and is always a pleasant thing to have on a journey."
Zullion: "It certainly shortens the road, yes."
Altruis Heavensward: "Makes it feel like another hike through the hills."
Vendric: "And lady Desna has blessed me with a bit of a talent for it."
Sarathel Tirabade: "Though it's still a bit darker than the hills..." she hunches her shoulders. "And more confined."
Tomas Castonello: "I'm actually a fan of the piano myself. Do you know The Lament of Falcon's Hollow?"
Altruis: "We have the blessing of Iomedae at our backs, we shall not falter in saving you all."
Horgus Gwerm grumbles. "Better not."
Vendric: "As well as Desna's for keeping us safe on our journey back to the surface."
Tomas Castonello: "Feel free. I'm just counting on us being lucky enough to find an exit."
Sarathel Tirabade: "I'm sure Sarenrae will aid us in seeking a return to the sunlight."
Zullion holds the silver scale to his chest "And the child of Apsu who saved us."
Altruis Heavensward: "Yes, we cannot forget her noble sacrifice."
As the tunnel opens onto a wider cavern, a raspy voice speaks from the darkness. The accent is odd, but the words are clear: “If your intentions are ill, we ask you to move on and leave us in peace. If they are good, then perhaps you can help. As you can see, misfortune has befallen us."
The tunnel opens into a large cavern, about 70 feet across. Cylindrical rock formations along the walls arch up to make a dome-like chamber, but the walls and floor are riddled with cracks. At the center of the cave, a stone tower that may once have reached the 50-foot-high ceiling has collapsed onto its side.
Altruis Heavensward: "I would never leave a needy soul in anguish. Who are you, Sir?"
Zullion: "We are willing to aid if it is in our power."
I am Lann of Neatholm. This is my comrade, Dyra. Our other comrade, Crell, is trapped beneath this rock... I fear if we move it wrong, he will be crushed." The woman, Dyra, has tumors blockng most of her mouth and preventing her from speaking.
Vendric: "If we can assist we will."
Zullion: "What do you need us to do?"
Tomas Castonello: "Trapped... hmm. I actually might have something of use for this. Which among us is the strongest?"
Nightwolf "I shall not harm those who return the favor."
Altruis Heavensward: "I am certainly quite strong, though I wish not to boast."
Lann: "If you are skilled engineers or miners, you might be able to dig him out... or our combined strength might be enough to roll the rock aside without letting it rock back down..."
Zullion: "The desert sun and the dunes have given me some strength."
Tomas Castonello: "Okay then, one of you. Stand before me and I will give you my power."
Altruis Heavensward stands before Tomas.
Zullion: "Then let us roll this off of your friend."
Horgus Gwerm: "Look at those... those things! You can't trust them! They're obviously demon-tainted! They'll kill you soon as your back's turned!"
Zullion: "Quiet! We are not like those. We will help where we can."
Tomas Castonello readies his hands and chants the spell from his studies. WIth a couple sharp taps, he strikes Altruis with magical light, which forces his body to grow and expand
Altruis Heavensward: "I sense no evil intent in them, they are as any child of the world, gifted of a myriad of shapes."
Aravashnial listens to the dove's description and grins like a schoolboy. "Mongrelfolk! Then my surmise about the sculptures were right! These must be the heirs of the First Crusade! How do you live down here? Have you developed your own culture, or is it still derived from your surface-ancestors?"
Nightwolf: "Then we should not turn our backs until they have proven their intent, but neither will I condemn them for their appearance."
Vendric: "They do not seem hostile and we did read that the descendants of the crusaders could be living here."
Sarathel Tirabade puts a hand to her face, where the mongrel-woman's tumors are, and flinches.
Altruis, the two free mongrels, Nightwolf, and Zullion push against the rock. It starts to move... then is lodged once more. Tomas Castonello rushes over and examines the stonework, trying to provide perspective. Sarathel Tirabade makes her slower way across.
Altruis Heavensward: "For my fellow man!"
Vendric tries to assist.
Tomas Castonello: "Move aside old man, let me try."
On the second try, the rock rolls easily aside, and Crell swiftly crawls out of the depression. Tomas Castonello looks down at his hands, surprised by his amazing strength.
Zullion: "Good team effort," he smiles as he stretches his arms a bit.
Crell bows. "My thanks, kind strangers."
Tomas Castonello: "Hrm... eh... just make sure to return the favor, okay?"
Zullion: "It was our pleasure" he gives a slight bow.
Lann: "You have all our thanks, travelers from the surface-world. We were in the guard-tower when the great quakes began. Dyra and I were fortunate enough to make our way clear, but Crel was a little slower. And we were unsure if we could safely leave him long enough to return to Neatholm for our kin's aid."
Zullion: "Neatholm, i take it that is where you reside?"
Tomas hears an Ominous Voice: The voice cackles. "With our strength combined, our strength would be boundless. You can feel the power, can't you?"
Lann: "It is our clan's village, yes."
Vendric: "Do you think they may know of a way back to the surface?"
Tomas: "I don't know what you're talking about. I can do it myself."
Lann: "There were several.... but with this shifting, some may have closed. Chief Sul will have sent scouts to check our paths."
Altruis Heavensward: "I would be happy to see your village and accept whatever aid you can provide."
Zullion: "Fair trade, our help and you show us a way back to the surface then," he chuckles.
Tomas Castonello: "Huh? Oh, I like the sound of that."
Lann: "In Neatholm you will find safe shelter, and I am sure Chief Sul will reward you for your aid. As to whether any path to the surface remains open... he will know better than I."
Vendric: "So seems our best bet is to meet with this chief."
Nightwolf: "Very well, lead the way."
Zullion: "The fact that you are willing, means a lot already, we cannot ask you to tell us something you do not know yourself."
Altruis Heavensward: "And if we may offer further aid to your people, you must merely let me know."
Lann: "You are most generous and courteous, for what the histories say of the surface folk...dare we hope the hatreds of our distant kin have faded?"
Zullion: "I can not speak for those on the surface, but I am sure, with time, you will be able to face them again."
Nightwolf: "I cannot promise that others will be as accepting. In fact there would almost certainly be those who would react as Horgus here."
Vendric: "Yes but there are some like us who would be willing to accept you."
The mongrels confidently lead the way. This tunnel loops around to the southwest.
(Tomas hears an Ominous Voice): The voice whispers constantly to the boy, seeming to echo through the dark. "Huuuman... huuuuman..." Tomas Castonello begins to look more haggered as the group move through the tunnel. He jumps at the slightest noise, and follows close behind Altruis, even after he shrinks back to normal size.
Lann: "This world is all we know. I do not know that we would wish to remain on the surface, but it could be interesting to visit, if we need not fear angry mobs." The mongrels continue to ignore the blind elf's peppering of questions.
Zullion: "I for one would be honored to help mediate your slow return to the surface."
Vendric: "When we get back we will see what we can do though last we left it wasn't a very pretty scene. It looked like a demon attack was happening. I do hope things are all right up there."
Nightwolf: "We must first make sure there are not angry mobs of another sort waiting to face us when we return."
Zullion: "For now, perhaps stay down here, much safer after all. All thing considered. We will, if we survive, come back to you with news."
Lann stops in his tracks momentarily, turning to Vendric. Lann: "Did you say that the ancient enemy once more wars on the Inheritor's faithful?"
Altruis Heavensward pats his longsword, "And her faithful war back."
Nightwolf "The wars never really ended, though it was safe behind the city's defenses for a time. I fear that may no longer be the case."
Vendric: "That is what i remember seeing as we fell down here. A great demon emerged and brought what looked like a army. The demon managed to slay Terendelev, who used the last of her strength and time to save us from the fall."
Lann: "Chief Sul.... all the clans will wish to know of this! Come, let us hurry...." He pauses. "We can carry your wounded, if they are willing."
Zullion nods. Altruis Heavensward appreciates the picked up pace.
Sarathel Tirabade: "I'm not exactly wounded, but I appreciate your desire for haste."
Aravashnial is delighted by the prospect of a captive audience for his questions.
(Tomas hears an Ominous Voice): "That creature won't protect you. The next time you befall peril, you will perish without me."
Tomas Castonello: "Please stop! Please... stop!"
Lann: "Stop? Is something the matter?"
Zullion: "Want me to carry you?"
Altruis Heavensward: "Are you alright, Tomas?"
Vendric: "What is going on tomas?
Tomas Castonello: "I... I'm sorry. I'm a little under the weather."
Horgus Gwerm: "Don't tell me the kid's got a screw loose."
Lann: "Weather is... a thing of the surface, is it not? Something about the... great vault encompassing all?"
Altruis Heavensward: "It's a figure of speech for feeling ill."
Lann: "Ah. I am afraid some of your figures mean little to us, much as I would expect surface folk to have trouble with my speaking of hope's caress."
Tomas Castonello: "I guess it's gonna look crazy if I don't say anything. I'm afraid I haven't been honest with you folks. The truth is... I'm being followed."
Altruis looks back down the tunnel.
Nightwolf retorts sarcastically, "Nooo, that doesn't sound crazy at all."
Altruis Heavensward: "I don't see anything besides us."
Tomas Castonello: "Well, not followed. I mean, it's somewhere, but it knows where I am. I have been travelling for a long time, but it's always there. Crawling in the night, whispering from the shadow... like it's my shadow."
Aravashnial: "Do you know what it is? Can you describe it?"
Zullion: "That sounds ominous."
Tomas Castonello: "I don't know what it is, but I know what it wants. It wants me to bring it... here. Like it needs me to do it. That's the only way."
Vendric: "This does sound troubling."
Nightwolf "Okay that sounds crazy"
Vendric: "How? How does it want you to bring it here?"
Lann: "Not all things that dwell in darkness are evil." He bows to
Vendric, "Such as your Lady, yes? And my people."
Vendric: "That is true. What does it want here?"
Tomas Castonello: "I think it's been showing me. the space between the walls... and it said that I will die without it."
Aravashnial: "How long has this been going on?"
Vendric: "Hmm the space between the walls? Could that be a metaphor? Perhaps its a being from in between the planes."
Zullion: "Either way, what is needed from us? Do you think this calling creature is a threat?"
Vendric: "But what does it want here is the main question and concern."
Altruis Heavensward: "If it is a threat, we can deal with it, but I would have it stop troubling poor Tomas."
Tomas Castonello: "It's been several months. I think it began following me when I was in Isger. I was apprenticed there to a... a powerful sorcerer. He was asking a lot of things that I didn't want to do. So I fled."
Aravashnial: "I can draw a containment circle if it is evil."
Zullion: "I ask again, what do you need from us Thomas?"
Tomas Castonello: "I'm just... I'm just scared, okay? I don't know what it wants and I don't wanna know. I just want to be free for once."
Zullion: "Then let if free, here with us, and if it wishes you, or us harm, we will deal with it"
Vendric: "That seems the best option."
Tomas Castonello: "...what? You're saying I should let the thing come here? What if it..."
Zullion: "Then we will deal with it, best now where we are in more control than if we are caught unawares"
(Tomas hears an Ominous Voice): "Listen to your allies, human. They know better than you... just open the door..."
Tomas Castonello sucks in a deep breath, his face going pale. After a couple moments of silence, he lets it out. "O... okay. I'll do it."
The mongrels stand will back, with their passengers.
(Tomas hears an Ominous Voice): "Gooood... now, just close your eyes and concentrate on the sound of my voice..."
Tomas Castonello closes his eyes, bows his head, and concentrates on the shadows in the cavern. Slowly, he imagines pulling the space apart, reaching deep into the darkness...
Zullion: Zullion will ready his shield and scimitar, ready to attack if the entity proved hostile
Tomas Castonello: "It's there... something's in there! Oh goodness, it's coming!"
Skinnareth puts a taloned hand on the edge of the rift, pushing its serpentine body through the opening into the material world "FINALLY! The realm of mortals... the freedom I was promised is at hand!" A rune identical to that on the beast's forehead has appeared in the same place on Tomas's face.
Nightwolf skeptical to this point nocks an arrow and aims at the emerging beast.
Tomas Castonello: "What... what are you?"
Zullion: "What do you want with Tomas, creature?"
Vendric: "And what do you want here?"
Skinnareth: "I am an entity crafted from the purest souls and the deepest blackness. I am beyond you, human! Now, command me and I shall take this land for you!"
Tomas Castonello: "What? No! Shut up!"
Nightwolf "Make a wrong move and you'll not remain in the mortal realm long."
Skinnareth suddenly chokes, the voice dying away as it clutches at its throat.
Tomas Castonello: "What is it? You can't talk?"
Skinnareth points at Tomas, looking furious.
Tomas: "You can't talk because I said so?"
Zullion: "I believe you told it to 'shut up' Tomas"
Aravashnial: "From this dove's account... it sounds as though you are a summoner. Did you really not know?"
Tomas Castonello: "Huh? I don't know any summoning spells. I'm a transmuter by profession."
Vendric: "That's what that rune must mean. Marking you as its master."
Aravashnial: "Oh, it's rare.... but by the glyph you share, you are one. But how did you form a bond with the extraplanar entity?"
Tomas Castonello: "Hmm... speak, creature!"
Skinnareth opens its jaws and snarls, its voice returning "Your companions speak the truth, you impertinent child."
Tomas: "And you are bound to do what I say?"
Skinnareth: "That is.. correct."
Tomas Castonello: "Then... lead us to where the mongrel's city is."
Vendric: "This is certainly not the freedom it was hoping for. I'm not sure of this even counts as any form of freedom."
"You... you will have guide, human." Skinnareth crouches low, slithering past the legs of the group to the head of the pack. It hisses at the others as it goes, but crawls upon the wall and awaits the group. Vendric has a troubled look on his face as he looks at the creature and Tomas. Tomas Castonello just shrugs at the alchemist, bemused.
Zullion: "The Great Dunes hide many mysteries, such a creature would fit well there"
Tomas Castonello: "Aravashnial, you're a conjurer. Do you know what that thing might be?"
Aravashnial: "Perhaps if I could see it for myself.... but it sounds rather Protean, with a delight in sounding sinister."
Tomas Castonello: "Huh. I have studied a fair amount on the planes of good and evil. I must admit I know little to nothing about Proteans."
Aravashnial: "That would be because they are the creatures of the Maelstrom. The plane of primal Chaos, neither good nor malign."
Zullion: "A chaotic creature? Would it be able to be influenced by demons?"
Aravashnial: "No more than any other outsider, I should think. It is at least immune to the spells they typically use to control people."
Tomas Castonello: "Well, it's certainly an ugly thing. I hope it's as useful as it said it was."
Zullion: "now that that is cleared up, let us make haste"
Vendric: "Proteans are indeed strange creatures but they aren't inherently evil. Just beings of pure chaos."
After 15 minutes, then, they arrive at an obstacle. A wide chasm splits the tunnel floor. The floating rock dust in the air and the groans as the tunnel walls settle indicate that the tunnel split recently.
Nightwolf turning to their guides, "Is there another way?"
Lann: "This... is not good. There is no other connecting passage... but with this sort of damage.... we can only pray that the home-vault remains intact."
Altruis Heavensward: "Well, then we must merely cross the chasm."
Zullion: "Let us first inspect how deep this fissure is"
Nightwolf "We will have to cross it then"
Lann: "My people can normally climb across such things easily enough, but with passengers.... it will be more difficult."
Nightwolf removes rope from his backpack, and begins to knot it. As he does so, Altruis looks over the edge. The rock did not break smoothly. The 30 ft. depth retains many shallow ledges suitable for handholds, or toe-tip-holds.
Tomas Castonello: "If it helps, I can be on hand if anyone slips."
Vendric: "I'm not so good at climbing."
Zullion: "Perhaps we should knot the rope, climb down, and have the more profficient climbers tie it at the top again."
Altruis Heavensward: "I could take a rope to the other side and secure it, Nightwolf." Altruis begins looking for a route to the bottom.
Nightwolf "Might be safer to scale the wall all the way down, then back up again."
Altruis Heavensward: "My thoughts exactly."
Skinnareth: "With that strategy, you humans will be here for ages. Can't you just use your talons?"
Nightwolf: "I left my talons at home."
Zullion: "Have you seen Talons on us, at any point since you got here?"
As the squire starts into the cleft, his toe-hold gives way beneath him. Tomas Castonello races to the edge as Altruis loses his grip, reaching out his hand with a fluffy feather in his grasp. "NO!"
Altruis Heavensward drifts down and lands softly on the bottom of the chasm, "I appear to be safe thanks to you."
Tomas Castonello: "Well, yeah. I wouldn't be much of a magician if I wasn't capable of a simple weightless spell."
Altruis Heavensward stretches his arms, "Now to ascend." This climb goes smoothly. Altruis Heavensward starts knotting his own rope and lowers it to the bottom of the chasm, "Now you can climb up this side."
Horgus Gwerm: "Do.... do you have another of those spells? Should we all just jump down?"
Tomas Castonello: "Um... I'm afraid that enlargement spell from earlier cost me much of my resources. I'd have to spend a lot of down time to replace them."
Nightwolf finishes knotting his rope as Altruis gets halfway through knotting his. They take turns going down one rope and up the next, Sarathel and Aravashnial clinging to the mongrels carrying them. Lann hangs back and retrieves the rope after the last of them has reached the bottom, then scurries along the wall and around to the far ledge that he might return it.
The tunnel continues onward. With the slow being carried, it takes only 9 minutes to reach the next cavern. Lann holds up a cautioning hand as they near the cave mouth.
Lann: "We rarely use this path. The cave ahead has been infested by a spore-cougher. Its spore-clouds make people see what isn't there. But it does sometimes leave to hunt... this may be one such time."
Altruis Heavensward: "I do hope we'll be lucky not to encounter it."
Skinnareth: "If it returns, it'll be the last hunt for it..."
Vendric: "We will keep an eye out then."
Lann approaches the cavern with caution, then stares, and chuckles softly. "It would seem it already has."
Thick sheets of fungus grow in the cave, and several tunnels branch off. Thick sheets of fungus grow in the cave, and several tunnels branch off. What appear to be 2 dead bodies lie on the ground in the middle of the cave, next to a strange heap of ropy green fungus. Any spore cloud has dispersed and settled.
Skinnareth slithers over to the creatures, sniffing the air. "Blood has definitely been spilt here. But what's more..."
Both men are dressed as crusaders of Iomedae, and each still wears a masterwork chain shirt. The crusaders are not armed with the longswords typically wielded by Iomedae’s followers, but instead carry glaives and a spiked gauntlet. One corpse clutches something tightly in his fist.
Tomas starts detecting magic, noticing 2 auras. He takes his time to concentrate on finding them... one in each corpse's belt pouch. Skinnareth moves to one body and turns it, to obtain the source of the aura. One aura is attached to a potion vial, and another to a scroll. The belt pouches also contain a fair bit of coin. Vendric tries and fails to identify the potion. There's 129 gp between the corpses.
Nightwolf: "What is that one clutching?"
Altruis Heavensward seeks to see what the poor soul was clutching in death, "Perhaps Iomedae's holy symbol?"
Once the hand is pried open, it proves to hold a small symbol of a brass bull’s head with tiny red gemstone eyes. Tomas Castonello 's face drains of color.
Tomas Castonello: "That's the symbol of the Minotaur King. Baphomet the demon lord."
Altruis Heavensward: "False knights."
Vendric: "I do not like the implications of this. What did they do while disguised as such?"
Aravashnial: "Then I was right! They called me mad, -you- called me mad, Gwerm! But I was right! The Templars -have- been infiltrating the crusaders! We need to bring these to the surface for identificaton."
Tomas Castonello: "Does that mean... do mongrels also worship demons?"
Nightwolf "Sabotage in preparation for the attack."
Lann spits on the corpses. "Only a few traitors. The rest of the clans hold true to the faiths of our ancestors."
Tomas Castonello goes to look at the scroll in his hands, identifying the spell as cause fear
Tomas Castonello: "This is a common spell for evil outsiders and their allies. So they are also adepts."
Altruis Heavensward: "Then we'd best hurry to your people with the news of infiltrators."
Skinnareth: "Human, I desire that jeweled emblem. The gems will please me."
Tomas Castonello: "I dunno. Is there any harm in it having that?"
Altruis Heavensward: "I'd rather let it have the gems and have the symbol destroyed."
Nightwolf "Surely there is a better use for it. The gems can be sold at least."
Vendric: "True if it just wants the gems i don't see why not."
Skinnareth: "Let's have them, then." Tomas passes Skinnareth the unholy symbol, and the protean-seeming creature tucks it into his mouth.
Altruis Heavensward: "Though, if needs come up, we may have need to sell the gems for coin for gear."
Lann: "Come, we should press on to Neatholm. Along the upward passage."
((Thus ends Session 3))
From the dead cultists, the tunnel winds north for about 1,100 feet (about 15 minutes of travel at a speed of 15 feet) before reaching a circular, 20-foot-diameter cavern. Four mongrelmen stand guard here before a large stone door.
Mongrelguard: "Lann! And Dyra and Crell! We worried for you at the guardpost with the quakes. But who are these strangers?"
Lann: "You were not so wrong to worry, we might have lost Crell if these strangers had not offered their aid. The chief will wish to hear their words."
Mongrelguard: "Very well, if you have Lann's trust, you may enter."
Tomas Castonello: "Is this... finally civilization? This is better than I was hoping! Thank you so much!"
Zullion: "This looks quite intimidating. To keep something out or in?" he asks with a puzzled look.
The door is opened, revealing a small, dark lake rippling in the center of a two-hundred-foot-wide cavern, the walls and ceiling aglow with thick sheets of luminescent fungi. In the center of the lake, over two dozen low stone buildings cluster on a rocky one-hundred-foot-wide island. Lights glow in the windows of the buildings, giving the settlement an almost welcoming look. Rafts made of mismatched planks of timber bob along the length of a crooked pier at the lake’s closest shore.
Skinnareth: "Civilized? ...hardly."
Altruis Heavensward: "What a lovely looking village."
Lann: "To keep out dangerous wildlife, or the more hostile denizens... both of the Daklands, and the uplands who venture down."
Vendric: "It does have a certain charm."
Tomas Castonello: "The... Darklands? You don't have any connection with the Deep Vaults, do you?"
Lann: "There were some. Whether they are closed by the quakes or new routes opened...." He shrugs. "We are too near the surface for most of the deep dwellers' liking."
Zullion: "Yes, i can see its defensive importance. I also see you have thrived down here. even with all that is against you. Quite the feat i may add"
Lann: "Thank you. Some of the clans have larger holds, but we are glad of this one."
The mongrels would board the rafts, and give their new friends a chance to board and be ferried over. Vendric follows along.
Altruis Heavensward: "Thank you for your hospitality."
Lann: "It is a small repayment for a life saved."
Altruis: "The Inheritor knows strength is worthless if it can't be used to help others."
As the rafts near the island hamlet, the passengers may note the wide variety of shapes amongst the denizens.
Tomas Castonello: "Your people are all very unique. Do you also research the arcane arts?"
Lann: "You should speak to Seer Opoli of that, Tomas. I have seen him use some arts which seem similar to your own."
Lann leads them up the main street, towards the small home at the islet's apex. This is the largest building in the settlement.
Altruis smiles and brushes some dust off his hide armor, "Let us make a good first impression with the Chief, everyone."
Zullion nods "They deserve nothing less."
"If you don't mind me asking are your peoples mutations random? From what I see it seems there are quite a bit of variations among you all."
Lann:"Whether they are random... it has not been so many generations to be sure. We think there is some connection to which demons our particular ancestors most often slew... but we are unsure."
Altruis: "You seem to have dealt with the worst that could come of such myriad forms and formed such functional families."
Lann: "And why would we let a little thing like shape taint our souls, or stop us from caring for our kin?"
Altruis: "It's a far too common problem of the surface."
Vendric: "Hmm, perhaps if there is time later I could examine a few you and speak to your seer about this later."
Lann: "And so our ancestors had the wisdom to bring us away from the uplanders, and that we might learn and live a better way." He nods to Vendric. "I am sure the Seer would be interested in meeting a goodly uplander."
All this talk about mutations was a little over Zullion's head. He simply kept up with them and tried to follow.
Lann: "As to being examined... we are people, and like to be addressed as such. Not studied as odd fish or fungus."
"I think examined is a better term than studied. I do not think my friend meant any offence"
Lann frowns. "They mean much the same thing, do they not? Fussing about what we are rather than who we are?"
Zullion: "I think it's more to understand of what makes you, you. I am no scholar. Please excuse my ignorance."
Whispers follow them as they pass through the hamlet.
Vendric: "Ahh, I didn't mean it to sound like that. I am simply curious about your the planar energies have mutated you physically. Studying the effect of the planar energies is a interest of mine. I did not mean any offense."
Tomas: "I can see where you are coming from, though. The realms are intimately woven into the fabric of this plane, and it has such odd effects on how people and magic are affected. Not to mention the nature of magic being as fluid as it is."
Lann shrugs. "Perhaps we may continue the discussion after we speak with the chief. He must hear my report, and I am sure he will be interested in your story as well." They have, by now, reached the chief's door. Lann announces them with a rhythmic knock, and is invited in in reply.
Within, the chief is seated behind a simple desk. Zullion keeps his eyes on Lann so that he can follow customs.
Tomas: "I mean, if not for those monuments we saw before, I would have assumed there was a heavy transmutation influence in the ecology down below. And the tales I read about underground civilizations consistently imply that such arts are common among the native cultures."
Tomas falls silent as they make their way through the roomy living room to the chief's study. Zullion finds it hard not to stare at the chief, but he tries to curb his mind and body to show too much of the shock. Lann bows to his chief, who gravely nods in reply. Lann gives his report succinctly, mentioning a few sightings of wildlife before the quakes, the strangers aid, the disruption of the path, and the spore-cougher's end, along with the perfidious nature of those who died presumably battling it. At the mention of their aid, Zullion mimics the bow Lann gave. But keeps his silence.
Chief Sull: "Well done, Lann. You have acted wisely and graciously in trying circumstances." His good eye turns on the helpful strangers. "And as for you... what are these upland matters Lann says are of interest to my people? You know the cause of the quakes?"
Altruis offers a bow as well and explains the dangers occuring on the surface that we're attempting to return to.
Vendric gives a slight bow. "So you must be the chief. I am Vendric, a traveling alchemist. I wish we could have met under better circumstances. And I think we do know the cause of the quakes. A demon attack on the surface."
Chief Sull chuckles. "Somehow I doubt that in better circumstances you would have found reason to venture so near Neathholm. As to matters of the surface..." His mousy voice deepens with gravity as he sits straightly. "The uplanders drove off our ancestors as unwanted freaks, but their parents also helped to drive back the demons in the Grand Crusade. They founded our people to honor their ways, their sacrifice, and their cause. We maintain that honor, and would see these demons slain with as much zeal as any uplander feels. Will you tell the other uplanders that our tribes will come to stand with them?"
Tomas: "So does that mean that you and the villagers are gonna come to the surface with us?"
Chief Sull: "There are many clans in the deeps. My warriors will first be sent to the home-caverns to spread the word, then, in united muster, we will brave the surface."
Zullion: "We will inform our people of the aid you offer. I believe any and all help will be welcome in the defense of our world."
Vendric: "From what we saw before falling down here. Any aid will be welcome."
Chief Sull: "This will give you time to warn the other uplanders that we come as allies rather than foes, and assuage their alarm at our appearance. Unfortunately, the nearest surface exist is guarded by a small band of traitors."
Tomas: "Traitors? Guarding the surface? But then, what are we supposed to do?"
Altruis: "Convince them to change their ways and join us."
"By your leave, I believe we could clear their blockade?" Zullion offers.
Vendric: "What can you tell us about this group?"
Chief Sull opens a drawer and withdraws 9 potions, which he sets before the party. "These should help you past the traitors, if help you need. These six" he indicates a group of vials "end bleeding and close small wounds, while the other three mend damage to mind or more serious injuries."
"We are thankful for your aid, Chief," Zullion bows nicely again "We are in your debt"
Vendric: "How did they betray you all?"
Chief Sull: "They are few, about a half-score. They listened to uplanders who bore the demons' emblems, and have turned to cannibalism."
Vendric: "Can you recall what emblem?"
"The head of some strange beast, with horns, a long muzzle, wide nostrils, and fangs." Chief Sull traces a bull's head on the desk.
Skinnareth growls at any that move toward him and the unholy symbol.
Altruis: "I shall seek to renew their faith in the Inheritor."
Chief Sull: "A worthy thought, squire, but I do not expect them to be willing to abandon the hate and ambition that led to their fall."
"Are we sure this is the best way to get to the surface? A less violent way maybe?" Asks Tomas.
Vendric "Sounds like some of the same cultist we found on our way here."
Chief Sull: "It is the swiftest way. and farthest from the strongest quakes, making it most likely to remain whole. Another route could add several days to your journey, perhaps a week."
Altruis: "If force must be answered with force, I shall be there to mete it out."
Tomas: "Oh... a week's not so bad, right?"
Vendric: "Hmm... We don't have the luxury of time. And if there are indeed cultist here it would be best to stop what plans they have here before they can accomplish them."
Zullion: "They deserve more than what we will give them if they decide violence is the answer."
Chief Sull: "Before you go... have you seen any sign of another of our kin in your travels? My son, Hralsk... we argued, and he stormed out...."
Altruis: "We found signs of a camp, but not any persons."
Zullion: "May we get a description of your son? If he ended up in the traitors camp we would like to not engage in combat with him."
Chief Sull: "Short, with chitinous, clawed feet. scales over his arms, but skin over his hands..... He has sharp fangs in a muzzle, but shaves the fur. "
Tomas: "Well I'm wondering what happens if we do find him. Ask nicely? What if he doesn't feel like cooperating? Throw a net on him like a boar?"
"I do not think you will find him among the traitors. He left in another direction, and our argument was a silly thing, not one that would have me fearing for his soul."
Altruis produces the backpack they had found previously, "Was this his?
Chief Sull shakes his head. "No.... I've never seen that pack before."
Altruis: "Did he carry anything important on his person?"
Chief Sull: "There was a brooch, made by his mother. A bat with amethyst eyes.... perched on a mushroom."
Altruis: "We did previously find that brooch, and I believe Tomas is carrying it."
"Oh... that's right. That was from the tunnel we dropped into." Tomas rummages about in his spell component pouch and produces the pendant. Skinnareth perks his head up and eyes the amethyst gems. The chief's good eye mists over as he catches sight of it, one hand reaching out.
Tomas: "Uh... here you go."
Skinnarenth snorts as the brooch goes out of his reach.
Zullion: "Do not give up hope. There was no body with the item."
Altruis: "We can give directions to where it was found, if you'd like to continue the search."
The chief steps over to a door, and momentarily returns with a morningstar. "The seer bespelled this when I was a younger man. It should strike more easily and hit more heavily than normal. I would be honored if one of you could use it to split an unrepentant traitor's skull on your way home."
Altruis: "I believe that would see the most use from the hands of our friend, Zullion."
Zullion will hold out his hands to take the weapon. Bowing his head "It will be an honour to do this deed for you"
The chief acknowledges Zullion by bowing his head. "Thank you. You are welcome to rest here before you journey on if you are weary, and to trade with my people, of course."
Zullion: "There is very little we can trade. We came here with very little. But if the offer stands, we will gladly trade in the future."
Chief Sull: "We welcome those who have proved themselves allies."
Vendric: "Maybe some day we can visit without a crisis going on."
Chief Sull: "We all look forward to that day."
Tomas: "Just having a proper bed would satisfy me at this point. A bed of straw, even."
Lann: "That can easily be provided."
Vendric: "I miss being able to see the stars. But hopefully our task goes okay and we can see them soon again."
Chief Sull nods. "I hope it goes well also... whatever these 'stars' are."
Xullion: "I hope you will be able to see them soon. It is quite a magnificent sight to behold. I enjoy it by simply laying on the cooled sand and just watch them light the sky with their silent and watchful eyes."
Vendric: "They are lights in the sky that fill the blackness of night. A creation of Lady Desna."
Lann: "Then... like the fungus that glows on the stalactites?"
Tomas: "Maybe we can trade some aid for a future investment. The promise of a starmap or an astrolabe."
The mongrels just look confused at the terms "starmap" and "astrolabe."
Vendric: "A bit. But much more beautiful. Should we have time after all this I will personally teach you all about the stars."
Tomas: "It would help you a great deal once you reach the surface world. Astronomers have spent centuries meticulously calculating the stars' path and using them for travel."
Zullion: "But before all that. I would suggest just to lay back and take in the beauty. The scholarly things can come later. Enjoy before you learn"
Tomass: "What? Isn't that the enjoyable part?"
Chief Sull: "I would prefer to focus on the current crisis before being concerned by the strange things of the surface world."
Vendric: "There are many things to enjoy about the stars Tomas. but the chief is right we have other tasks we must focus on right now."
Skinnareth pipes up. "Indeed, human. Such as the material wealth that I shall gain in service of these deformed mortals!"
Tomas grimaces. "You haven't even done anything yet."
Chief Sull gives the serpentine creature a curious look.
"Don't make us regret letting you come here" Zullion warns
Tomas: "Oh, this is a shadow creature from somewhere. He likes shiny stuff."
Chief Sull chuckles. "Like many youths, then... and some who are older as well."
Altruis: "Yes, rest would be wonderful.
Lann: "We can set up a camp for you by the shore, if that is your preference, or you may take beds vacated by our warriors as they set out."
Skinnareth rears up on his tail, rubbing his talons together. "Then for letting you mortals rest and squashing the puny upstarts, I shall claim their treasures as my reward!"
Altruis Heavensward rubs his temples, "We never hired you, so rewards for services rendered aren't applicable. If you'd like to be rewarded, perform adequately and it'll come to you."
Vendric: "Your 'companion' is quite a greedy one isn't it."
Skinnareth: "Hmph! And did I not say that I would perform the services required? I even offered to wait while you weaklings lay idle and waste my patience."
Vendric: ((depends on how greedy it is
Tal (GM): ((Point, by work I meant "get the diplomatic person's point across and keep the target listening."))
Skinnareth: "Surely you won't object to me claiming my payment when I save your wretched lives."
Altruis Heavensward: "Pull your weight and you'll be compensated, though that's not how this crusade is to work at all."
Tomas Castonello just shifts about uncomfortably and looks rather earnestly toward the exit.
Skinnareth: "Your errant quest is none of my affair. I am beholden to no mortal and no cause. I desire only the wealth that I so richly deserve. To that end I will do as I see fit. And if you deign to accompany me, then I will tolerate you, and perhaps even bequeath you my leftovers."
Altruis Heavensward: "Now, let us rest and be on our way to the traitor's nest."
Tomas Castonello: "Yes, please. I'm just gonna slip by... excuse me..."
Vendric: "Yes, some food and rest will be good."
Lann sees them all settled to their liking, and they head out the next morning after their usual rituals.
From the hamlet of Neathholm, the tunnel winds mostly in a southeast direction for about 2,000 feet (26 minutes of travel at a speed of 15 feet). The tunnel narrows down at this point to a 5-foot-wide passageway, the walls carved with picks and chisels.
Two mongrel traitors start howling in alarm as the squire (in the lead) comes into view.
Vendric drinks his mutagen then steps foward. He addresses the guards. "I suggest you lay down your arms and surrender. We'd like to avoid fighting if possible."
The mongrelman traitors keep howling the alarm, one raising a club in threatening fashion. Those speaking Undercommon understand that he is reporting their numbers and armaments.
Skinnareth: "The monster chooses its fate! Come, human, bear upon me your arcane power! We shall run the blockade!"
Tomas Castonello: "Fine, but you better not get me in the middle of this!" Tomas Castonello runs ahead up to his companion's backside and grants Skinnareth a Mage Armor
Skinnareth slithers acorss the wall into the cavern and hisses a challenge to the mongrelmen, its talons extended. Altruis whirls his sling, sending the stone flying into one of the mongrel's shoulders. The mongrels duck down behind the barricades.
Vendric throws a bomb at the one behind the northern barricade. The wooden barricade catches the bomb, and in so doing, catches fire. The traitor recoils from the sudden blaze... but not quite quickly enough to dodge it out. Skinnareth crawls along the wall, moving above the barricade and snapping at the "unsuspecting" mongrel, who turns out to be suspecting enough to dodge out of the way. Altruis swings at the scorched mongrel who is also able to dodge. The mongrels attempt to retaliate against their respective foes, but their blows are harmlessly absorbed by the armor and scales.
((Thus ends session 4))
Skinnareth creeps 5 feet along the wall and attacks his mongrel foe with fangs and claws from above. The mongrel hisses as the claws connect. Tomas moves up and peeks from around Vendric, who holds a bomb aloft awaiting a clear target...hopefully coming through the door at the end of the hall. The surviving mongrel at the barricade tries to attack the shadowy eidolon, but can't reach the serpentine outsider. Skinnareth snaps at the traitorous mongrel and shows his long rows of teeth that ebb into a black void at the back of its maw. A third mongrelman traitor appears silhouetted in the doorway as he opens the door. A fourth shoots at Vendric with a crossbow from behind his tribesman in the other room, which is furnished with bedrolls around a campfire, but hits the doorframe instead. Skinnareth creeps along the wall to the corner just past his foe, strikes, and a traitorous mongrel falls to fangs and claws. Vendric throws a bomb at the mongrel standing in the doorway.
Skinnareth tells Tomas something in his head.
"Baphomet take you!" the front mongrel curses as he's engulfed in fire. His ally manages to sidestep and avoid the worst of the blast.
Tomas Castonello: "The snake guy says we should funnel them into this room so you can better shoot them and he can cover us from above."
Altruis steps up to the door, the mongrel dodging to use the portal's edge for cover. Zullion steps next to the paladin, and slays the burnt mongrel with his scimitar. The remaining mongrel steps in as he slams the door shut. Skinnareth vlimbs to just above the door's lintel, and waits. The ranged warriors hold their fire, with the portal closed, as the flames on the barricade spread. Altruis attempts to kick the door in, but the mongrel holds it fast.
Zullion: "Should i perhaps help with this endeavour?" He puts his shoulder into it, and the door pops open to show the mongrel on the other side, and that another door has opened across the room and to the right.
Vendric: "If you surrender we wont kill you." He speaks as the door opens. At the same time, Skinnareth crawls under the lintel and up the wall on the far side, being surprised to find the mongrel and two humans attacking it. The humans are flanking the door, one with a scythe and the other with a glaive. The glaive opens a gash in the serpent's flank. While the eidolon moves, Nightwolf fires two arrows, and one makes its way past Zullion, the doorframe, the creeping eidolon, and the waving weapons to find the mongrel's arm. The scythe-wielding woman manages to slice open her own leg with it. Skinnareth snarls as the woman grazes him with a polearm, and bites her. Zullion seeing the mongrel still standing after the attacks from his companions, he slashes at the barring mongrel with his scimitar, opening a line down his chest, but the creature only clenches its jaws and stands fast.
The wounded mongrel swings his club up at the scaley intruder, and manages to bruise one of Skinnareth's ribs before stepping back. Altruis ducks under the womens' swings, as he steps in past the mongrel, lays a glowing hand on his own chest to heal himself, and stabs the glaive wielder. In the next room, Wenduag, a mongrel archer with useless arachnid legs, slips off the edge of the table, and shoots at Skinnareth, her arrow bouncing off his scales.
"The Lord of Locusts will see you in chiton!" The scythe-wielder recovers and swings at the eidolon over the door, scratching his tail.
Skinnareth: "Agh! These creatures dare tempt me? Do something, human! Make them pay!"
"Your bones shall be used to build the Ivory Labyrinth!" The glaive-wielder steps back and swings at Altruis before succumbing to her wounds.
Zullion moves in, weapon and shield ready and then lashes out at the cultist! His scimitar is blocked by the woman's scythe and the mongrel's club. Skinnareth's fangs and claws lash out at the scythe-wielder, one of his fangs scratching her shoulder, then he retreats to the other side of the door.
Tomas approaches the door. "Anyone want to be a bit bigger, or have a bit of force armor?"
Nightwolf fires twice in rapid succession, and the mongrelman is taken out by the second arrow, through his throat. Altruis heals himself again, crosses to the eastern room, and strikes Wenduag. The mongrel archer steps back and shoots her attacker.
Nightwolf asks, "Sarathel can your magics conjure water to douse these flames?"
Sarathel Tirabade nods as she continues to make her way up to the barricade. "Slow as I am, this I can do."
Tomas Castonello: "I dunno, it makes a great deterrent from them coming in here."
Vendric: "I am sorry about that. My craft tends to be a very flammable one."
Sarathel Tirabade: "A little water will hurt the flames more than us."
The scythe wielder turns to swing at Zullion, then steps aside. Zullion continues past the scythe-wielder to help with the archer, taking a parting blow on the way. Wenduag manages to dodge the scimitar. Nightwolf manages to squeeze past the burning barricade without so much as a scorch, and shoots the scythe-wielder. Altruis darts back to the larger room and swings clumsily at the scythe-wielder. Vendric helps Tomas and Sarathel put out the flames. Sarathel Tirabade conjures a good 8 gallons of water. Tomas Castonello pretends not to be impressed by Sarathel's conjuring skills.
Wenduag: "You uplanders will find your fate in the Abyss!" She shoots at Zullion, who grunts as the the projectile claws at his flesh.
The cultist returns Altruis's blow... with equal effectiveness. Zullion steps up to the archer, ready to pay in full the kindness she has shown... but she jumps over his swing.
In the hallway, Tomas continues to help extinguishing the barricades while Skinnareth waits for the coast to be clear... er... guards the door for the puny mortals.
Holding his bow in his offhand, Nightwolf takes a moment to study his target while drawing his flail with his main hand, swinging it down at the cultist's head. "May a thousand insects consume your living flesh!" She cries as she sees the flail coming, only to fall a moment later with her skull caved in.
Altruis returns to the archer, in what appears to be a dining cave, stabbing her in the gut and healing himself. Wenduag dives to the far side of the table, and comes up turning to shoot. Her arrow ricochets off the bowl holding the light by the ceiling, and hits the top of the chair next to Zullion.
Zullion: "It seems your deity has abandoned you, i hope it explains why when you meet it!" he grins as he steps up to attack, his scimitar carving into her shoulder.
Wenduag: "Strike me down and I will return as a powerful demon!"
Nightwol stalks into the dining cave, standing at Zullion's side.
Back in the hallway, Tomas extinguishes the last of the fire.
Sarathel Tirabade reaches up to Skinnareth with a gently glowing hand. "Looks like you could use some healing, strange one."
Skinnareth: "Leave me be, mortal. I am beyond your..." She taps his snout. "... that does feel better."
Vendric rushes across to the dining cave.
Tomas Castonello: "Hey, say thank you, snake guy."
Skinnareth: "Thank you, snake guy. Also, don't insult me, you wretch. If you must call me something, make it... Skinnareth the Beyonder. What, it's descriptive!"
Sarathel Tirabade chuckles. "You're welcome." She nods to Tomas. "And what are you beyond, Skinnareth?"
Altruis steps up, healing Zullion. Zullion nods in thanks as his wounds clot up Wenduag 's eyes dart around like a cornered animal. She tries to make a break for the rope ladder dangling through hole in the floor's corner, but Nightwolf's flail strikes her down well short of the safety it promises.
"Are there any stragglers left that you know of?" Zullion asks the group.
Vendric: "From what i saw no. But who knows whats behind the other doors."
Nightwolf tries to recover his arrows, but finds them broken against the stones, then begins scavenging from their fallen foes.
Skinnareth looks back from this interesting activity to answer Sarathel. "Many things, mortal. Beyond this world, for one. I have existed since before the wheels of time began turning, and I shall exist long after this bond is broken. That is, if this child learns any useful spells. Surely you learned more in your studies than this, boy."
Altruis Heavensward: "We should disarm the corpses so no others can recover the gear."
Skinnareth will also help liberate riches from the cultists. Discarding all of the useless weapons and armor for Tomas to pick up. "Whelp, make yourself useful and carry the weapons. Even a stick would make you twice as competent as your current self."
Tomas Castonello moves around and sweeps Detect Magic across the piles of loot.
Zullion: "I believe our allies could benefit from some of this equipment, yes?"
Sarathel makes her way into the camp-like cave. "Are others in need of healing in here? If you'll gather round, I think I can heal you all at once." And the wounded do come near enough to let a burst of positive energy wash over them.
Zullion: "Thank you Sarathel, it is appreciated" he gives a quick bow
Altruis Heavensward: "Yes, many thanks."
Sarathel Tirabade: "I'm glad to be able to help. You're all quite good at dealing with these cultists."
Nightwolf nspects Wenduag's bow, "fine make, I assume there are no objections if I claim this."
Tomas looks at the scythe-wielder's locust-wing token. "Well, this bug one is odd. You'd think that a cult wouldn't be interested in conflicting beliefs.
Vendric: "It seems we are dealing with 2 sets of cultist. One is clearly baphomet but i cant recall the other."
Sarathel Tirabade: "May I look at that? Hmmm... you say she was talking about bugs too? That reminds me of Deskari... but he's not known for playing well with others."
Vendric: "That makes this more troubling."
Zullion: "Perhaps the demons are doing what we are doing? banding together to accomplish a greater goal?"
Horgus Gwerm calls from well up the tunnel, "Is... is it safe to go in there?"
Nightwolf "Yes, enter."
Sarathel Tirabade frowns. "I really hope not. Their divisiveness has always been their greatest weakness... if that's changed..."
Nightwolf "A troubling thought."
Tomas Castonello: "Well, if demons are anything like the di... like my mentor said they are, any union between them is fragile. If we talk them down perhaps we can play both sides against the middle."
Zullion: "Good luck with talking to them."
Vendric: "I don't think demons are the talking type. They are more of the torture you and kill kind."
Skinnareth: "Why bother? Whatever contract they have will matter little when they are laid low like their brethren here."
Altruis Heavensward: "We'll handle any trouble that comes our way, friends."
Horgus Gwerm: "Yes, yes... no doubt.... now, have you any idea which way leads out?"
Nightwolf opens the door to the northeast of the dining cave, finds a garbage chute with a giant amoeba, and promptly closes it again. "There is a slight danger, and a great stench beyond this door."
Zullion replies"If both can be avoided, then let it be"
Altruis checks the camp cave's northern door, and finds worked stone walls of a large room hold a number of shelves, each of which display the preserved bodies of dire rats, bats, rock vipers, cave lizards, and other creatures that pose in eerie stillness.
Skinnareth crawls to the middle door in the camp cave "As long as you are exploring carelessly, how about this portal here?"... the others proceed to ignore him.
Altruis Heavensward: "Looks like there's a ladder here." He steps into the northern room. "There's a side door over here."
Nightwolf nears the dining cave's hole with its rope ladder cautiously, keeping an arrow aimed down the hole as he approaches.
Vendric: "Where does that go?"
Nightwolf "Can we get that light over here?"
Tomas Castonello conjures a Dancing Lights man in response to Nightwolf's request. The lighting gives the impression that it opens onto the middle of a lower cavern, but it's hard to tell, beyond that.
Nightwolf "What of this last door?" He indicates that by which Skinnareth is perched.
((Thus ends session 5))