Our cast of characters…
Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)
We began this week with the party retreating from the cave where they’d last seen ‘the rancor’ (well, it’s arm, anyway) scraping away at the wall where they’d just all been perched. Returning to the main entrance chamber, they elected to take the one exit that they had not, thusfar, tried.
As they made their way eastwards, they came upon the ripening body of one of the strange creatures they’d met upon the stair. Though several weeks old, it had plainly been killed by several sword thrusts and left to bleed to death. After a short journey, they came to a branch in the tunnel, where the underground river they’d encountered before once again placed itself across their path. Two exits could be seen from their current position, both on the far side of the swift waters.
In an effort to scout the area, Tarqualan cast a flight spell upon himself, and soon discovered another ‘dry’ exit, the main exit for the river, a small boat resting on a shelf of rock out of their field of vision, and that some strange creatures that looked much like stalactites clustered on the ceiling above, ready to drop upon anything large enough to make a good meal. Not wishing to become such a meal, Tarqualan soon retreated to the tunnel where the party awaited his return.
Willing to trust in his body shield, Marcus consented to have a similar flight spell placed upon himself, and was soon securing a rope to the vessel as the strange stalagtite-creatures rained down upon his position. Soon the rest of the party either flew or sailed (under the protection of Marcus’ body shield) to the northern-most exit from the pool created by the river before them. A search soon uncovered the remains of a large campsite deep within the maze of tunnels, which most of the party assumed had been used by those they sought. Further explorations of the caves leading off the pool revealed that the southern-most led to a veritable maze of interconnected tunnels littered with realistic statues of bats, rats, cave lizards, and at least one of the hooded warriors they trailed; though his body and weapon were stone, his baroque plate armor was still normal, (though normal is an inaccurate word – at one point one of the lurid faces that decorated the armor spat in Marcus’ eye as he examined it…).
The party soon began nearing the heart of things, as evinced by the suicidal charge of a winged basilisk and a pitched battle with a pair of serpent tailed women armed with longbows and daggers. Using their superior knowledge of their lair to great advantage, they managed to get off several well placed arrows until a run of bad luck broke both bowstrings in a single round. One of the women was eventually slain and the other escaped, perhaps to haunt the group at some later date. A search of the lair revealed a small cache of gems and a nest with three eggs – though Nikolai argued for saving at least one, two were broken and the final one left to the fates.
Deciding to continue their exploration of the cavern they’d left to explore this aquacious demesne, they soon found the signs of another battle, where several ogres, three giants, and nearly twoscore goblins all fell to the sword in past weeks. Finding the lair of these creatures picked clean, the group finally returned to the river to explore it’s outflow.
Their journey down river soon led them to a place where a high stone bridge passed overhead, and they elected to explore the tunnels that led to and from this feature. Their exploration south led them to a small beach where a steel piton lay half-hammered into the wall, reminding them all of the ‘rancor’ they’d escaped from earlier. Quiet scouting northwards revealed the lair of the creature, who had apparently not yet noticed their presence.
Dracon, figuring this creature for some dumb beast, tried casting a control spell over it, but his chanting only served to alert and enrage the creature. It made it’s first business dealing him a crippling wound, before kicking backwards at Sabian, who managed to fumble his ambush of the creature. While the rest of the party battered the creature with arrows and spells, Marcus called upon nearly all his reserves of Heironeous’ most holy magics and with a single blow gutted the creature (though he wound up being buried first by it’s spilling guts and then by it’s falling body!). While Marcus lay trapped, the rest of the party managed to slay the creature and cut him free before he suffocated. (It was about this point that I reminded the group that Iggwilv, whose caves these had once been, had been infamous for her legions of demonic servants – doubtless this creature was just such a demon, leftover from the days of her occupation )
A quick search of the creature’s lair uncovered a magical bag containing a horn, three flasks, and a ring…
And so ends another week….