Part IV: Here There Be Monsters
Chapter 15: A Strange Journey
Jericho “Striker” Moonscar (Seth) Demon-Blooded Human Duskblade
Daegoth (Trevor S.) Lizardfolk Dragon Shaman
Rapton (David S.) Killoren Cleric
Nimlar Sumel (Lance) Elf Ranger
Daelis Eagleheart (David L.) Half-Elf Swashbuckler
Duerak Gildas (Nate) Half-Dwarf/Fire Giant Fighter
Yereth Cloud-Walker (Connor) Minotaur Barbarian/Druid
Sati Blood-Fire (Darren) Phanaton Sorcerer
Friday, October 15th, 1234 AY
Nimlar Sumel awoke upon the shore of the Isle of Dread. It was late in the evening, as the ranger could tell by the position of the sun on the horizon, so, after he oriented himself to his surroundings, he started to make a camp as quickly as possible.
Yeris flew from the trees and landed on a nearby log. Nimlar went over to his companion, and petted the eagle, happy that the bird was okay. Then they went to finding any others who might’ve survived.
He found Rapton on the beach, disgruntled but relatively intact, and woke him. The cleric, after clearing his head, also helped Nimlar in the establishment of an encampment.
While they were setting it up, they saw something climbing in the trees…
Nimlar held his bow arm, waiting to see what this was.
A humanoid that looked like a mix between a racoon and a monkey leaped down from the trees with a spear, landing gracefully and immediately pressing the point of his weapon against Nimlar’s neck.
“Who are you?” the small creature asked.
“We mean you no harm!” Nimlar answered, dropping his bow and holding his arms up. “We come in peace!”
The creature paused for a moment, and then lowered his spear. “Works for me. You don’t smell like dinosaur.”
The monkey was a phanaton (as Rapton recalled what this type of creature was named), found exclusively on the Isle of Dread. This particular phanaton introduced himself as Sati Blood-Fire.
Nimlar then asked the creature if it could help them start their fire. The creature agreed to help, but first they needed to gather some driftwood for the fuel.
Nimlar, Rapton, and Sati searched the beach for pieces of wood and leftover wreckage from the ship that were dry enough to be used for firewood, as well as any supplies that might have washed ashore.
They found a considerable amount of driftwood, which they brought back to their meager camp, and then hurriedly searched for the supplies as the night drew close.
In addition to the wood they found one hundred pounds of feed, and a heavy wooden shield. After those two items, they discovered something else: the half-dwarf Duerak Gildas washed up on shore, along with his warhorse, Jerry.
They reunited with their friend and continued their search, finding sixty pounds of rations, which would come in handy later on their journey to Farshore.
They gathered the firewood together, but they still needed flame. Sati shot a burst of magical flame from his fingertips with little effort, igniting the fuel. The phanaton was a magic-user!
The group sat down around the campfire and started on a meal. Nimlar asked Sati if he’d seen any weird travelers recently, because they had no idea where their friends were at the moment.
“I saw a ship marooned on a reef about a half mile away from this spot,” Sati replied, nodding. “I can take you there in the morning if you’d like.”
The group agreed, and they went to sleep, with plans to search for their comrades in the morning.
Saturday, October 16th, 1234 AY
They headed out in the morning for the shipwreck, and were surprised to be greeted with a curious sight. The body of a great dinosaur lay half-eaten on a cluster of rocks about five-hundred feet off-shore, near the shipwreck itself, which was indeed the one they were looking for: the Sea Wyvern.
The body of the dinosaur was being picked at by two great elasmosaurs, as well as a group of scavenging pteranodons. Nimlar picked up the trail of their companions, a group of tracks which headed south towards the mountains, and they set off to find their group.
After a few hours of travel, they caught up with the others, who had been moving slowly because of their various members and beasts of burden. The rest of their companions were in a clearing near a huge crater which stretched across the jungle, with a small stream running through said clearing.
They had just about reached them when suddenly, eight terror birds burst from the jungle, on the trail of a baby diplodocus.
Reunions would have to wait.
Urol cried out to the heroes, begging them to save the baby diplodocus.
Sati was hiding in one of the trees, so he turned himself invisible as soon as he saw the terror birds coming. From the cover of the tree, the phanaton cast another spell, shooting a fireball from his fingers that burst in the middle of the hunting birds.
Chaos ensued as the avians burst into flame. The diplodocus ran past the heroes, while the terror birds began to panic as the flames licked their feathers and their flesh. They ignored their meal choice and instead looked to the heroes with a deadly ferocity. The birds were angry now.
Duerak spurred his horse to retreat to the southeast, to get a better vantage point for attacking the birds. He fired off an arrow from horseback, which connected into the torso of one of the creatures.
Nimlar retreated as well, using his magical boots to propel himself all the way to a trench to the east, where he laid low and started to snipe the birds from a distance. He hit one of the terror birds with a long shot from across the clearing, using his dexterity to expert effect.
Amella, letting the heroes take care of the situation on their own, moved away to the side of the battlefield.
Jericho started to chant, then shot a flaming ray of magic towards the terror birds, blasting them back with his arcane might.
Daegoth stepped forward, unflinching in the face of the dangerous creatures, and breathed a blast of lightning through the group of terror birds, tearing into their flesh.
Rapton retreated to the trench where Nimlar was as well, preparing to cast a spell while doing so.
Yereth took his great axe and cleaved into a nearby terror bird, slaying the great avian in a single blow. The bird flopped and writhed to the ground in its death throes, then went still.
Two of the terror birds rushed towards the tree where the fireball had originated, and jumped and snapped at Sati. They managed to slash the sorcerer for some damage, but the phanaton managed to keep his balance and avoid the other attacks.
Daegoth was attacked by a terror bird, but the avian couldn’t manage to break through the lizardfolk’s heavy armor. A second bird joined its comrade in attacking Daegoth, and this one connected and did damage through the armor.
Another terror bird rushed forward to attack Duerak, who was riding on his horse, Jerry.
The diplodocus had fled by now, and was now trotting back into the crater to rejoin the herd. Urol began to cheer as the dinosaur reached safety, then realized that the terror birds still needed to be dealt with, so quickly rushed away himself.
Tavey, still freaked out by the terror birds, but wanting to help with the battle, began to throw rocks at the flightless birds, but to no avail.
Avner, on the other hand, stood in shock at the battle that was going on before his very eyes. Kurgol rushed past the dumbfounded noble and charged at one of the terror birds, attacking him with an extra scimitar the party had found for him after he had tried to attack the previous monsters they had encountered with his fists. The half-orc unfortunately missed, but seemed unfazed.
Daelis charged into combat and attacked a terror bird with his rapier, but missed.
Sati fired a magic missile from his perch in the tree, blasting the terror birds below the tree with the spell.
Duerak dropped his bow, then brought out his axe. He slammed the weapon into the back of his pursuing terror bird, which drew a gurgling screech from the avian as it crashed to the ground, dead.
Yeris helped out as best he could, scratching and clawing at the terror birds with its talons.
Nimlar fired off a stream of arrows from his cover in the trench, slaying one terror bird while putting holes in a few others.
Jericho, for some reason, decided that he wanted to get on Avner’s good side, and teleported next to the noble, then readied his weapons.
Daegoth tore into the terror bird next to him, missing with his axe but managing to bite the creature.
Rapton finished casting his spell as he reached the trench, creating a ball of flame floating in the fey’s palm. With a word, the ball shot a jet of flame which streaked across the clearing to slay another of the terror birds.
That left four.
Yereth slashed into his attacker, tearing through muscle and bone with his axe. The terror bird fled in… well, terror, running away from the horrible warrior.
The rest of the beasts followed their pack member, rushing off into the jungle to find easier prey.
The heroes reunited, bringing each other up to speed and planning their next moves.
Yereth, almost immediately after the battle was over, approached Jericho, intent on beating him up for being close to Avner. The minotaur got the duskblade into a grapple, but Jericho explained that he was trying to protect Avner.
“I don’t believe you,” Yereth said, but he did release Jericho, letting him off with a warning. “The next time I see you near him, you are banished.”
Jericho wasn’t entirely sure if the minotaur had that power.
The party headed off on the road to Farshore, taking Urol’s “scenic yet quick” route down to the southern mountains. From there they would find a pass that went through the peaks and then go along the cliffs on the eastern shore of the Isle of Dread, eventually reaching the Olman village of Tanaroa, where they could find guides to take them the rest of the way to the colony of Farshore.
Sati Blood-Fire, who was about to head back into the jungle after helping these strangers, overheard a party member talking about the Shadow Pearls. Now being a sorcerer and living on the Isle of Dread his entire life, Sati knew a whole lot about said pearls, and happened to be on a quest to find the artifacts and study them. Since the party had encountered one already, and had heard stories of many more, the phanaton finally decided to join with them until they reached Farshore, where he could hopefully find more help for his studies.
The heroes continued on for about an hour, then stopped for a quick lunch (with Jericho training Tavey for a while). When they were about to leave, Jericho decided to apologize (again) to Avner.
“Listen, I think we should make up,” Jericho said, although maintaining his distance because of Yereth’s rule. “I can offer my services to protect you, and can do so much better than Yereth.”
“Oh shut your mouth!” Avner said, irritated.
“I can protect you longer than the minotaur!”
“Really? Really! You’re a scrawny little teenager; he’s a minotaur! He’s a big, buff, bull-thing!”
“But yet, I am extraordinarily more intelligent than said ‘bull-thing’.”
“This conversation is over!” Avner said pompously, waving his hand in annoyance. “Go away!”
“I’ll let you hit me for every time I’ve offended you.”
Avner beat the tar out of him.
The heroes tied the duskblade to Thunderstrike and continued on into the jungle. After a while, Jericho regained consciousness, and was untied and could walk with them again, though he was very sore.
At about 2’oclock, another group of terror birds intersected with their party, seeming like more of a chance encounter than a planned ambush on the bird’s part.
Daelis, always quick on his feet, rushed forward with his rapier and managed to score a hit against one of the terror birds.
Jericho fired off a ray of fire at one of the creatures, tearing through the flesh of the beast with arcane might.
The terror bird Daelis had just attacked retaliated, but the adept swashbuckler dodged the swipe. What he didn’t dodge, was the second bird who attacked him from behind.
Another of the terror birds attacked Daegoth, but couldn’t penetrate the lizardfolk’s armor.
The last of the terror birds charged Jericho, but the duskblade kept them it at bay as well.
Nimlar, calling for the companions in front of him to duck, fired off a stream of arrows, some of which connected with the bodies of the terror birds. Avner was one of the ones who ducked, and he cried out in fright as the missiles flew over his head.
“Be careful you clout!”
Rapton cast a spell at one of the terror birds, weakening the avian with a contagion.
Yereth stepped closer to one of the terror birds, then swung his axe as hard as he could into the torso of the closest enemy. The weapon gutted the poor creature, and innards began to spill out onto the jungle floor.
Daegoth brought his own axe down into the neck of one of the terror birds, almost decapitating the beast. Instead, it flopped wildly, its neck almost severed.
Sati shot down a ray of fire as well, tearing into another terror bird.
Duerak charged at another of the avians, slashing into it with his weapon. Blood squirted in every direction as the wound connected.
Urol began to taunt the “stupid terror birds”, calling them names and all around making fun of them. For some reason, even though he was a druid, and should respect all nature, these flightless birds freaked him out incredibly.
Kurgol charged into combat again, not surprisingly, and in an amazing feat of strength, slayed a terror bird with his scimitar.
The other civilians went off to the side, letting the heroes do their work.
Daelis scored another hit against one of the terror birds, and was accurate as usual, but didn’t do the massive damage that Daegoth was capable of. He won by small, careful strikes.
Jericho took his swords and cut himself across the arms, drawing the blood into the weapons and empowering them with magical energy. He swung both in a masterful stroke and almost killed his enemy, cleaving through feather, skin, muscle, and bone.
The terror bird near Daegoth took a chomp at the lizardfolk, but as an armadillo, he was safe in his shell of armor.
Another of the beasts hit Jericho with its powerful beak, doing some damage to the duskblade, but not enough to stagger him at all.
Yeris did some damage as usual, scratching at the exposed faces of the terror birds, while Nimlar fired off arrows into the midst of the avians.
Rapton, using his divine magic, summoned a sword made out of energy and send it flying towards a terror bird, slashing.
Yereth side-stepped his enemy and then finished it off in one quick motion.
Daegoth tried to score a hit on his attacker, but he missed his much more agile opponent.
Sati brought out his bow, stringing an arrow and then firing it off. Unfortunately, his archery was not as adept as his spell-casting, so the missile fell harmlessly to the ground.
Duerak charged on his warhorse, slaying a terror bird with a well-placed axe.
The last of the beasts fled into the jungle.
Toward the end of their first day of travel,the jungle began to thin. Eventually, it opened up to reveal an area littered with ancient stone ruins. The mountains directly to the south were not particularly tall, and Urol pointed out that their best chance to find a pass still lay in that direction.
Jericho, who was chronicling their journey and making a map of this area for the Noseon Society, took note of this ruin, writing down in his log and marking it on the map.
The heroes, curious as always, decided to investigate the ruins, and as they explored Jericho confirmed that the architecture was Olman, though this was slightly hard to tell because of the state of decay across the site.
They also found, much to Daelis’ (and Amella’s) discomfort, that the ruins were infested with spiders, although those of the monstrous variety seemed to avoid them and skitter off into dark holes when they drew near. Spider webs caressed the ruins, hanging between old walls and carpeting the floor. After this discovery was made, Daelis decided to stay behind and not continue to search the area, because of his fear of spiders. Amella vouched to stay with him, but not so much as to watch him as the fact that she too was afraid of spiders.
The heroes continued exploring the site, and found, in a clearing in the center of the ruins, there sat a throne made of webs and bone. As the heroes approached, they could make out the form of an old woman sitting on the throne, looking in their direction and beckoning them forward. Jericho quickly identified her as an aranea, because of her affinity for spiders and haggard appearance.
She sat on her seat, her face curious, wearing a worn gown of black silk with cobwebs. She called out to them in the language of the Olman, which Jericho easily translated.
“Who are you that has wandered into my web? You are not form this place. I have not seen your like in an age. I am Lithira, queen of these ruins. What brings you to my domain?”
Before anyone could answer, Duerak threw a rock at the old lady. It whizzed by her head, narrowly missing her.
Lithira scowled. “What did you do that for? Do you wish to incur my wrath?”
Sati, who was standing off to the side, turned invisible.
“Pay no attention to my companion over there, he is not in his right mind,” Rapton said in Olman. “We are sorry for disturbing you. We just recently crashed on this island, and are trying to go south to get to our own people.”
“That is unfortunate,” Lithira said, taking the apology in stride, though she kept a wary eye on Duerak. “Pray tell, what is the world beyond this island like? I have always wondered that.”
Rapton went on to tell the old lady of Sasserine, and their various adventures therein, and then their journey south.
Lithira listened with rapt attention, fascinated by the story.
“I thank you for your tale,” she said when Rapton had finished. "The world beyond sounds truly wondrous and I would very much like to visit it one day. As for your journey, there is little I can do to aid you. You should know that the way south is dangerous. There are unnatural things that lurk in dark places, now more so than in the past. I know that four eyes have gazed upon you and their servant seeks you out. You would do well to avoid him.
“If you plan to head south, take the dark mountain pass that travels under the peaks. It was made by the ancient ones, but beware—hungry birds nest near its opening not far from here, and they are fierce near their young. May you wander the web to find your way home.”
The heroes were puzzled by the premonition that Lithira had foretold, and asked her about it, but the aranea knew not what the meaning of her prophecy was, just that it was true. Daegoth then asked her if she knew anything about his tribe, using Rapton to translate.
“Ah, unfortunately, I do not know much of what you speak,” Lithira said. “I know that there is a tribe of lizardfolk around the area, but I know nothing about what has transpired there in the last few years.”
“But aren’t you a queen?” Rapton asked.
“Nay, I am but an exile, from my own people, forced to live a life alone. I claim mastery over these ruins, but it is but a diminutive domain.”
The heroes gave Lithira their thanks, and then set off towards the mountains to the south.
The evening had almost come to an end when the party came to the base of the peaks. After a few hours of searching, they found the pass that Lithira had told them about, but (as Lithira had also told them) there was a slight problem: a nest of terror birds stood only a hundred feet north from the entrance.
The heroes immediately started to make a plan.
They would set up position about seventy feet away, in the cover of the trees, and then Sati would hit the terror bird nest with a fireball. While the beasts were still recovering, Nimlar would bombard them with arrows while the rest of them charged the terror birds.
When they were ready, Sati, from his spot in a tall tree, shot a massive fireball streaking into the unsuspecting terror birds. The nests ignited, as well as the avians themselves, and the small plateau turned into a swath of chaos as the crazed birds ran this way and that, shocked and injured by the attack.
Duerak kicked his horse’s flanks, sending it galloping up the hill towards the nest. The half-dwarf raised his axe aloft and yelled a battle-cry as he flew at his enemies.
Sati, wasting no time, quickly cast another fireball, and blasted more of the terror birds with deadly flame.
Jericho cut himself with his blades, then charged up the hillside himself, though he did not shout a battle-cry, instead stalking up with a deathly silence.
Nimlar loosed an arrow from his bowstring, cutting through a flaming terror bird, then nocked another and fired. The second arrow cut deep into one of the larger birds, sending a shriek from the thing’s throat.
Yereth and Daelis followed the others, charging up the hill with their respective weapons.
The terror birds finally recovered from the chaos, and one charged toward Yereth and crashed into him with deadly force. Bird and minotaur tumbled down the sharp incline and landed at the bottom in a heap of fur and feathers.
Another terror bird slashed at Daelis, knocking him over and creating a bloody gash on his side. Daelis managed to dodge out the way of the next strike that the avian made though, one that would’ve been fatal.
Rapton shot into a sprint as well, though he didn’t charge at the enemy. Rather, he ran towards Daelis, to try to help him out in his battle with one of the larger terror birds.
Daegoth started to sprint up the incline, then stopped suddenly and breathed an arc of lightning from his gaping maw, which blasted into and through the terror birds uphill.
Duerak galloped by one of the terror birds on his warhorse, chopping at it with his axe. The bird screeched and just managed to dodge the attack as the half-dwarf thundered by.
Sati began to summon the magical energy to fire off another fireball, then blasted it once more into the ranks of the birds below, setting more birds aflame, and slaying one of them.
Nimlar’s eagle Yeris swooped down and began to scratch at the terror birds, not doing much damage, but distracting the birds enough for Nimlar to strike a brutal blow against one of the avians. The terror bird gurgled as an arrow connected with its throat.
Yereth stopped his charge and then began to cast a spell, trying to enchant one of the terror birds.
The terror bird took another chunk of flesh out of Daelis as they wrestled on the ground. Daelis tried to get the terrible bird off of him so he could get to his rapier, but with no luck.
Rapton cast a spell on Daelis, healing his serious wounds so that the swashbuckler could fight back.
Daegoth, seeing his companion in dire need of assistance, ran towards the struggle, then grabbed the swashbuckler out of the way, and tackled the terror bird himself.
Kurgol charged in as well, though the other civilians stayed behind, slashing at the terror bird nearest to him with his scimitar. Though he managed to hold the bird’s attention, he did little else, not scoring a clean blow.
Duerak circled the nest and then charged back at the terror birds, hitting one in the face with his axe as he galloped past. Gore flew as the weapon connected with the thing’s skull.
Sati started to cast another spell, but instead of a fireball, he shot a ray of flame instead, scorching the earth near his enemies and connecting with one of the birds in a burst of heat.
The smell of burning flesh was heavy in the air by now.
Jericho, with his magically imbued swords, stabbed into another one of the birds, finishing it off with a sickly blow.
Yeris continued to annoy the birds, while Nimlar fired arrows, but to little avail.
Yereth slew another of the terror birds with a mighty blow from his axe, since his spells were doing little to help.
The terror bird now in a contest of death with Daegoth, managed to penetrate the heavy armor of the lizardfolk and strike his flesh with a grinding sound.
Rapton readied his mace and then smashed into the terror bird now attacking Daegoth, crushing the thing’s leg.
Daegoth ripped with deadly ferocity into his enemy, biting and tearing and slashing, and in the end almost killing the beast.
Kurgol, his own enemy slain, moved to one of the last terror birds, but did little to hurt that one either.
Duerak, his enemy slain, rode down the incline again, firing an arrow off from his shortbow into a terror bird’s torso.
Sati shot another scorching ray at the birds, creating more chaos and flame, and reducing the number of terror birds to a single one.
Nimlar shot a final arrow and pierced the bird’s eye, sinking into it’s brain and killing it.
After the fire had burned out to a low ember, Urol searched through the terror bird nest and found a single surviving egg, which he kept and protected almost territorially.
The party, after some surveying of the area, found the pass that Lithira had told them about and, being wounded and weary, decided to camp just inside the entrance.
It had been an eventful first day on their journey towards Farshore, and they were sure they would need their strength in order to protect themselves, and each other…
Sunday, October 17th, 1234 AY
After a good night’s rest, the heroes headed off down the tunnel, which, according to their information, should lead to the other side of the mountains at the edge of the cliffs on the eastern side of the island.
Rapton used his divine magic to create a light from a small stone, which he used to guide their way through the corridor.
The heroes however, started to feel like they were being watched, though they couldn’t see anything…
Amella was unhappy that they were going underground, since she didn’t exactly trust that the roof wouldn’t just fall in on her. She kept close to Daelis during their excursion in the tunnel, and seemed to never leave his side.
Avner was ecstatic of the fact that there were no terror birds, and was very chipper during the journey.
He commented lightly to the party as the walked, “I wonder if we could find any fresh food or some wine around here! Now that would be a good thing.”
Even though the party was a little skeptical about Avner’s expectations of their current situation, they were at least happy that the nobleman wasn’t whining at the moment.
Thunderstrike, Avner’s horse, was nervous as they plodded on through the pass, and he made a painfully large amount of noise as he trotted skittishly across the carved stone.
Urol was happy, and thanked the party for saving the diplodocus extensively, before he was distracted by a curious change in the architectural style along the tunnel.
About halfway through the tunnel, they heard the faint sound of tumbling rocks behind them. The dim light that informed them that the outside world still awaited them vanished suddenly, and they were left only in the illumination Rapton’s spell provided.
Someone had trapped them inside.
Having no choice but to continue on, the heroes did so. Soon they reached the end of the long narrow tunnel, and came into a complex that marked the last stretch of the underground pass.
Urol identified the complex as a kind of reception hall, where visitors going further into the island were made prepared for their journey to the capital of Thanaclan.
The chamber they first came into was large, and it was shrouded in darkness. Rapton’s light did not seem to penetrate the darkest corners of the room, and shadows danced across the walls as the heroes entered. A small, stagnant fountain lay directly opposite the entrance, while a stone throne sat on a dais at the far end of the room. A humanoid rib cage was pinned to the throne, held there by an ancient spear, while all around it laid the remainder of the poor soul’s bones.
Amella became angry as they entered the chamber, and cursed aloud.
“What’s wrong?” Daelis said.
“I can’t believe there is still more to go through!” Amella exclaimed. “I thought we’d be out of the dreadful place by now.”
Avner, his usual nosy self, began to search around the room, probably looking to see if there was any wine around, though it was unlikely.
Kurgol went immediately to study the bones, and the heroes were slightly chagrined by his grim fascination (it seemed) with death.
Urol examined the throne, marveling at the Olman architecture.
“This architecture is amazing! Truly magnificent!” Urol said.
“What is architecture?” Yereth said, confused by the Common word.
“Well, it means buildings,” Urol said. “Like a style of building things.”
Yereth nodded and walked over to Daegoth. “Architecture means different types of buildings.”
Sati went straight for the spear, and after checking it over and realizing that it had a magical aura on it, was delighted to find that this was the kind of spear he used. It was a little long, since it was made for a human and not a phanaton, but after getting some help from Daegoth in cutting a length off of the shaft, treated himself to a new weapon.
The rest of the heroes searched through the small room, looking for anything valuable. Daegoth found a simple necklace made of triangular gold plates on the throne’s seat, which he took and stowed away in his pack, planning to sell it in Farshore.
“I found something!” Avner shouted as he peered into the dark water of the fountain. “Bring a light over here!”
Rapton did so, and they saw what Avner had discovered: a red stone rod sitting in the bottom of the stagnant water that lay in the fountain, some eight feet down. Daegoth lowered himself in and recovered the item.
“It looks like some kind of key,” Urol commented as the lizardfolk came out of the fountain. “Do you see the slight grooves on the sides? It looks like it fits into some kind of slot.”
The others agreed and they kept the rod for later use, giving it to Sati to safeguard.
After another cursory search of the room, which turned up nothing, they continued on to the exit of the chamber, a ten foot wide staircase that ascended about three yards before ending at a broad platform overlooking a wide chasm. Two primitive stone statues flanked the balcony, their impassive countenances caked with mildew. The chasm itself dropped away into a black gulf of swirling water. Two bridges spanned the chasm, exiting the room through separate double doors on the far side.
The heroes continued, choosing to go across the bridge on the right, and were careful not to trip, lest they fall into the gaping pit below.
Suddenly, the party spotted something skittering on the rock ceiling of the cavern, and, from the darkness, appeared three giant centipedes, their carapaces a dark brown. They crawled down the cavern walls, one coming from their front, another from behind, and the last dipping down from a low-spot on the ceiling to dangle right in the middle of them.
The heroes readied for a fight.
Yeris swooped down and began to attack one of the centipedes, though the eagle did little but distract the vermin.
Nimlar fired off arrows at the one in front of the party, while Daelis and Daegoth moved to hold it off with melee.
Duerak pulled out his bow as well, then reversed his position in the saddle, so that he could fire at the centipede coming from behind them. An arrow connected with the creature, sinking into the exoskeleton with a sickening crunch.
Yereth fought off the one coming from behind as well, slashing at it with his axe and scoring a few good hits.
Sati shot a fireball back towards the same centipede, and the flames blasted into the vermin with deadly ferocity.
Daegoth blasted the centipede in front of them with his lightning breath, repelling the creature for a few moments so Daelis could get into position to attack it with his rapier.
Jericho was helping Yereth in the back of the party, fending off the centipede coming from that direction.
Rapton pulled out his crossbow and shot a bolt towards the centipede as well, scoring a hit against its head, which caused the bug to emit an unearthly moan.
The centipede in the front tried to penetrate Daegoth’s armor, but of course, it was unsuccessful.
The centipede clinging to the ceiling, who had done nothing but wait so far, promptly dropped into the middle of the party, shrieking.
Now they were being attacked on three sides, and the party was split down the center…
The flanking centipede tried to make an easy meal out of Avner’s horse, and managed to wound the animal pretty badly… which sent it into a panic.
Jericho made a grab at the horse’s reigns, and succeeded—but got his hand caught, and was suddenly pulled off his feet. Thunderstrike bolted back onto the platform, dragging the poor Jericho behind it.
Avner cried out, and then exclaimed, “I wish we had a couple of nice terror birds instead of these stupid bugs!”
The heroes rolled their eyes.
Yeris continued to scratch at the centipede from behind while Nimlar fired off his arrows at that one as well. His missiles sunk into the flesh of the vermin, and it went still.
One was dead, two remained.
Duerak, the third centipede now lying right in front of him, dropped his bow and grabbed out his axe and shield, laying into the vermin.
Yereth now turned to the middle centipede and began to wail on it as well, slashing with his axe and almost killing the thing.
Daegoth took his own axe and finished off the one in front of them, then the rest of the party turned to face the last centipede.
Sati shot a ray of flame towards the centipede, engulfing it in fire and causing it to shriek again.
Daelis ran up, and scored his first hit against the vermin, since he had been fighting defensely before.
Daegoth reached the fight by then, and finished the centipede off with a mighty blow with his axe.
After recovering Thunderstrike and Jericho, the heroes continued on, crossing the bridge without anymore difficulty. Rapton healed anyone who needed it with his magic as well.
On the other side of the chasm, the heroes went through two double doors—after Daegoth and Yereth pried it open, since it was slightly stuck—into a chamber in which one corner had completely crumbled away to reveal a stagnant pool of water, its surface calm, dark, and mysterious.
Nimlar went immediately to explore the pool, but suddenly, from the water appeared a huge midnight black ooze, its surface a transparent obsidian. Directly behind it was another smaller ooze, this one cold grey in color.
Nimlar stood right in the path of the aberrations…
Duerak reacted quickly, grabbing out his axe and charging—astride his horse—at the largest of the oozes, laying into the creature with reckless abandon.
Yereth as well, charged with his axe and swung, but to the two warrior’s horror, their attacks did no damage. Instead, the blows split the black pudding down the middle creating two enemies each half the size of the original.
Sati sent a ball of fire slicing through the air and exploding into the three oozes, slaying the smaller gray one.
Daegoth blasted into the two remaining oozes with his lightning breath, damaging them with crackling electricity.
Yereth slashed into one of the oozes with his axe, splitting it down the center again, and creating more, but weaker, enemies.
Nimlar said a few choice words in the tongue of magic, creating a web of vines to try and entangle the gelatin creatures. Though it didn’t do much to hinder them, they did stay put.
Rapton cast a spell as well, providing Daegoth with protection from acid.
Duerak rode around the black masses, cutting into one of the man-sized oozes and splitting it in half again.
Sati sent another fireball hurtling towards the oozes. The sphere exploded and killed all of the now small oozes, ending the battle.
The only exit to the room was through a pair of doors leading north, so the heroes rested for a few minutes and then continued on.
Two gigantic iron doors stood closed to the south in this small chamber, decorated with symbols of water and sea-life in tarnished copper. Opposite of them were a pair of pedestals, each with a peculiar notch cut into the side. One of these pedestals was made from a dusky red granite, while the other was crafted of light blue marble.
The heroes immediately recognized that the rod they had found earlier fit into the red column, so they inserted it perfectly into the notch. The doors, when they tried to open it, would not budge, however, and it seemed like they would need to find a blue rod as well.
The heroes, through a door once again to the north, entered the only part of the complex they hadn’t explored yet, searching for the other key. They left the horses, and all of the other people besides Urol and Avner, in the chamber with the doors.
Deep niches were set into the walls of the ten-foot-wide corridor, each holding fragments of human skeletons caked in mold and fungus. Rusted metal collars and iron necklaces rested in each niche as well, and a few still retained fragments of crumbling burial shrouds. On spaces where no niches had been carved, intricate murals of a skeletal humanoid or hound, each wreathed in a long, coiling snake, decorated the walls.
Avner immediately began to nose around at the various niches, despite his previous fright, as did Urol, though the scholarly gnome did so at a more respectful distance.
Avner saw a particularly beautiful golden necklace, and he began to reach out his hand for it…
Yereth, meanwhile, was searching around the room as well, when he, by accident, discovered a secret door a hundred feet down the corridor.
The door, a piece of the wall which slid into the hollow part of the wall piece next to it, slid open just as Avner’s hand grasped the necklace.
The mummified Olman grabbed Avner.
The mummies, one by one, crawled from their niches to do battle.
Daelis acted quickly, drawing both of his rapiers and rushing up to the mummy attacking Avner, then stabbing it in the shoulder. The mummmy moaned and dropped the horrified nobleman in a heap on the cold stone floor.
Yeris flew at one of the mummies and began to scratch it, but did little to hinder the undead menace.
Nimlar shot off his arrows as fast as he could, sinking a few of them into a mummy.
Rapton grasped his holy symbol between his clenched fist, chanting. He rushed up to a mummy and blasted it with natural energy. The mummy flinched back, moaning in pain.
Duerak slashed into another mummy with his axe, chopping off chunks of rotted flesh from the gruesome creature.
The mummies fought back, however, slamming into the heroes. One attacked Jericho, doing some major damage, while Jericho fought to resist the deadly mummy rot inherent in his enemy’s strikes.
Another slammed Daelis in the side, crashing him into the wall on the far side of the corridor.
Sati leaped to the side of the corridor, shooting off a scorching ray as he did so, which blasted into a nearby undead.
Yereth tackled another of the mummies, resisting the mummy rot and pinning the aberration to the ground.
Daegoth blasted the mummies with lightning, the rays of thunder arcing through the air with a deadly beauty.
Avner and Urol took the distractions of the heroes and used them to flee the corridor, getting out of reach of the mummies.
Daelis struggled to get unpinned from the wall, and barely managed to raise his rapier to stab into the mummy’s torso. The mummy moaned again and stepped back slightly, so Daelis took the advantage and charged.
Nimlar shot off four more arrows, missing two of them, but the other pair sinking in once again to an unsuspecting mummy.
Rapton shot another wave of natural energy at the unholy creation, and then attempted to smash it with his mace, but the mummy managed to get out of the way and only caught a glancing blow.
Duerak killed the mummy Yereth was grappling with his axe, bringing it down with a heavy blow to the head, and then charged another of the things.
The mummy attacking Daelis clobbered the swashbuckler with a wrapped hand, hurling him against the far wall again.
Sati shot another scorching ray at the menaces, blasting one of their arms off.
Yereth grappled another mummy, pinning it against a niche and crushing the mummy’s head with his massive arms.
Daegoth slashed at a mummy with his axe, then took a chance and bit down hard on the rotten flesh, tearing off chunks of it in the process.
Daelis took a slash at the mummy he was facing, but missed pitifully, and, unfortunately, causing him to expose himself…
Nimlar shot off a volley of arrows, once again, and got a few shots in at the mummies, but nothing to slay any of them.
Rapton blasted another mummy into oblivion with the natural power he possessed, utterly destroying the creature.
Duerak charged another mummy, slashing it with his axe and chopping away more decaying flesh.
Another of the mummies attacked Yereth from behind, clawing at him with it’s unearthly paws. The minotaur roared as he tried to keep his other enemy pinned while another was on his back.
Yereth killed the one he had pinned with a gore, and threw the other mummy off with a shrug. As he began to fight the other mummy, he saw Avner, who sat whimpering next to one of the empty niches.
“Avner, get out of here!” he yelled as he tackled the second mummy.
Daegoth tried to attack a mummy with his axe, but he missed, so he blasted it in the face with lightning instead.
The mummy attacking Daelis slammed into him violently, but the swashbuckler brought his rapier up just in time to run through the undead, slaying it.
Nimlar fired off an arrow, catching a mummy in the throat. The aberration moaned as it died, crumpling to the floor.
Rapton blasted another mummy with natural energy, disintegrating it.
Yereth snapped the neck of the last mummy, and threw the disembodied head against the wall of the corridor, destroying it utterly.
The heroes entered the chamber that had been unlocked at the start of the battle, a small crypt dominated by a large stone sarcophagus. Both the walls of the room and the sarcophagus itself were covered in decorative patterns and carvings of animals. The top of the sarcophagus depicted a man dressed in robes, wearing a feathered headdress, and clutching a blue rod in one hand and a ceremonial dagger in the other.
Since the stone rod depicting on the top of the sarcophagus was only that, a depiction, the heroes surmised that they had to open the coffin to get the actual rod.
The plan they devised was this: Nimlar would tie a rope on to the handle of the sarcophagus, get a safe distance away, and pull it open. Sati would shoot a fireball inside, hopefully destroying any mummy inside.
The plan went perfectly, until they opened it.
Instead of a mummy being inside, it was just a regular corpse. But something did happen.
Nimlar took a small spear to the side.
And suddenly the room was filled with flying spears.
The heroes all took spears, and unfortunately, the spears were poisoned. After the spears were finished flying everywhere. Rapton, who had luckily but mostly uninjured, healed everyone and cured the poison that would have been damaging had he not been there.
Inside the sarcophagus, on the corpse, was the blue stone rod, a ceremonial silver dagger, and around the neck of the corpse was a golden medallion inset with a shining pink pearl of power.
The heroes went back to the exit, now with the other key in hand, but before they opened the door, by popular consent, the party decided to rest in the exit chamber for a day. They were confident that they had enough food to make it to Farshore, and they felt safe in the tunnel, since they had cleared it out pretty thoroughly.
And so the heroes rested, content in the knowledge that they had made it through another day.
Monday, October 18th, 1234 AY
On the afternoon of the 18th, after the party had gotten considerable rest, they inserted the second rod, and opened the doors.
The heavy iron portals opened with a creak and a spinning of gears, exposing the tunnel to the outside world for the first time in years, possibly even centuries. Urol had explained that these doors were “water doors” made to keep the rising waters of the bay from flooding the chambers within during high tide. There was usually an Olman phrase that unlocked the doors, but, luckily, since it was highly improbable that either Urol or Jericho could stumble upon the right combination of words, the Olman creators had made the rods as a fail-safe, in case the pass-phrase was lost or forgotten.
As the water doors opened, the smell of fresh salt air flooded the chamber from the world outside. Beyond the doors was a broad set of seaweed-choked stairs that led down to a small beach. The waters nearby looked shallow, and the sun sparkled on the slowly eddying waves.
Amella shouted in excitement, reaching out and hugging Daelis. She then froze, and slowly retracted her embrace, looking embarrassed. She was still excited, however.
Avner looked around anxiously, obviously checking to make sure there were no terror birds. After a moment, he relaxed, but he muttered under his breath, “I hate those nasty birds…”
The rest of the party had different but milder reactions, but the overall consensus was that everyone was happy to be out of the tunnels.
Daegoth, happy to be by the water, waded into the shallow bay to check and make sure no hidden menaces were… well, hiding.
He was promptly attacked by giant crabs.
Daelis charged into the fray, attacking one of the crabs with his rapier and catching the blade in its face.
The crab retaliated, but the agile swashbuckler dodged out of the way of the clumsy swing. Two more of the crustaceans attacked Daegoth, but his heavy armor prevented them from causing him any harm.
Duerak spurred his horse forward, churning through the shallow water of the bay towards the waiting crabs. The half-dwarf swung down with his axe, chopping a crack into the shell of the crab closest to him.
Nimlar fired off an arrow at one of the crabs, hitting it square in the claw, but in reality not doing much to harm it. Another arrow took it in the eye, though, and the creature shrieked shrilly.
Sati cast a quick spell, launching him into the air, and he flew across the expanse to the stairs on the other side of the bay.
Daegoth splashed through the water and brought his axe down hard on a crab, smashing it in its shell. He immediately swung again, slashing another crab.
Yereth charged through the shallow water, then crashed into a crab with his axe as well, killing one instantly.
Daelis stabbed another crab in the eye, slaying it.
Duerak trampled over another crab, crushing it beneath his horse’s hooves. He finished it off with an axe blow to the head, then pulled his horse to a stop.
Nimlar slayed the last crab with a final arrow, and the crustacean let out a gurgling shriek before dying in the salt water of the bay.
The battle was over, but before anyone could even catch their breath, Nimlar yelled to Sati, “What were you doing?! You could have helped us! Instead you fly off and leave us to fend for ourselves?!”
“Imbeciles!” Sati shouted back, his face cracking an evil grin. “The shadow pearls are mine!!!”
Nimlar’s eyes widened.
Sati shot a fireball directly at the heroes.
Everyone dove under the water, and most of them managed to dodge the worst of the flames, but Jerry, Duerak’s horse, took the blast full on. The poor animal fell into the water, struggling to keep from drowning. Duerak was thrown off from the beast, landing in the water a few feet away.
Daegoth dropped his shield as he went under the water, then began to crocodile swim his way towards his once ally, now enemy.
The sorcerer laughed, then flew off into the sky, his spell still active.
Duerak came up with a splutter, then grabbed his bow out, stringing an arrow and firing it, though the missile failed to hit it’s target.
Yeris flew towards the phanaton, talons at the ready.
Nimlar drew his bow as well, firing off a few arrows, but only one connected, nicking the sorcerer as he flew overhead.
Sati flew higher and higher, then slowed, turned and shot one final blast of flame at the heroes.
The heroes were ready this time, however, and weathered the fireball with little damage. Jerry had gotten upright, and though the horse was singed, he was relatively intact.
Sati was far off by now, but Nimlar, enraged after this betrayal, lined up another shot. He fired. And he hit.
The phanaton was struck square in the chest, and his flight wobbled, but continued nevertheless.
Nimlar lined one final arrow up.
Sati dropped out of the sky.
The heroes cried out in victory.
Nimlar cried out in distress.
He saw, with his enhanced elven vision, Sati pull out an obsidian pearl the size of a human fist. And crack it.
A drop of blood hit the pearl.
And the Shadow Pearl was activated.
The heroes ran back into the complex—as if that would help them somewhat—and tried to figure out SOME way to block the effects of the pearl. They knew they had one minute before the pearl activated.
They couldn’t get to the pearl in time, and even if they could, they had no way of containing it. They couldn’t get away fast enough, since the radius was a mile wide.
Then they realized. There WAS no way.
So they huddled together and waited for the inevitable.
They felt and saw a green blast of energy, and they all felt nauseated. But they opened their eyes, and no one was changed.
They had survived.
But Avner’s horse, Thunderstrike, had not.
The heroes not-so reluctantly slayed the mutated horse, and Duerak took it’s horns to keep as a trophy, something that Avner did not approve of.
But in the long run, they had been lucky.
The heroes looked out over the bay, and then set out to Farshore…