Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 12

The events below happened at the same time as events described in session 9.


Character Class Description
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
Taaaz Fighter level 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Pusgic Fighter level 1 A hero of a long forgotten battle.

Taaaz's report linked at the end of the post.

Flowerbloom 1st, Airday

There it was, a gaping maw sixty feet wide, splitting into two cavernous corridors, one leading left, another right. The party decided that Arradir will stay behind and guard the entrance, while newly met man-in-black, Pusgic, was to join them in their delve.

Both tunnels were of significant size, the right being slightly wider at some 40 feet. Left hand path was chosen as the preferred option. Just as they were ready to light up one of their last three remaining improvised torches, Gabriel noticed a greenish discoloration on the cave wall. He threw a rock at it, and it went straight through. Pusgic came up close and poked it with his polearm. What looked to be some sort of moss drape had proved to be most easy to move around.

Brave man he was, he decided to face check what lies behind. Darkness. And a smell of rotting leaves intermingled with body odours. Gabriel finally lit up that torch, and passed it to Taaaz, whom then stormed the room together with Pusgic. A dead end it was. Small, elongated cave with some bunched up leaves alongside south-east wall.

Disappointed with lack of any treasure in the first cave they stumbled upon, the party decided to follow the left tunnel, which led north. After some time they reached an what seemed to be a crossroad. Shining more light revealed that it wasn't really, for turns to the right and left were nothing but more dead ends.

Gabriel lit up a candle and then used some wax to glue it to the top of Taaaz's helmet. That must be that ingenious resourcefulness that adventurers are known for. A blue pouch could be seen in distance, covered by rubble and debris. Taaaz bravely poked it, provoking a giant centipede nesting beneath it. It proved to be no match for the armoured brute.

Eighteen electrum pieces, seven copper pieces, a wooden dish, a rusted metal spoon, and several moldy rags. Pusgics inspected the rags with his tongue, leading to a burning sensation and bad breath. There was a narrowing in the cave, which led further down.

This time they emerged in a simple chamber, with a twisting tunnel leading downwards. A most peculiar arrangement was presented on the far side of the cave: a brass cow bell placed in the in circle of oval stones. Taaaz the Inspector poked that as well—no bugs coming out on this occasion—discovering a three foot long iron bar and a broken horse-like wooden figurine. Sound of rushing water could be heard coming from down below.

Downwards they went, finding even larger chamber. A stream of water, seemingly emerging from the cave walls, ran through the depressed part of the cave, turning into another corridor. Ignoring the wide tunnel to the south, the party opted to wade through the ice cold water.

Now they were in a truly cavernous chamber—so large that their torch revealed no walls in front of them. The sound of rushing—or falling?—water filled the air, making it very difficult to hear each other. Trash detector Taaaz found a distressed leather backpack. Within it were another wooden figurine of a horse-like figure, a golden hair brush and a poorly bound book with a bare wooden cover. The spine read “The Complete History of Botany, by Brardarn Stoneshovel of the Hillforge clan.”

The party soon learned the source of noise: a waterfall that terminated some thirty feet down. Whilst Gabriel and Nutriel were setting up some pitons with rope, Pusgic yelled “CANNON BALL” and short-circuited the whole process by throwing himself straight into the lake below. Luckily for him, it was deep enough to avoid breaking his legs, and shallow enough to avoid drowning outright. Others refused to follow his lead, and descended down with fastened rope.

Twenty feet wide tunnel leading up was the only exit the party could find. It progressively got narrower and narrower, and was winding right quite often. At one moment the elves noticed a slight discoloration of the ground—a small area that seemed to be a lighter shade of gray. There were also some scratch marks on it. Kneeling down to investigate, Gabriel could feel a draft of fresh air coming out of small crawlspace close to the ground. It was barely wide enough for one average human, and tall just enough to scrape someones ass.

They could also see the tunnel terminating in a two way split: one wider, and one narrower. Smell of rotting meat was coming from the former. After no deliberate planning, Gabriel light up a candle and went to investigate the previously discovered hole, while Taaaz, Pusgic, and Nutriel went for the narrow tunnel.

Gabriel soon found himself scrapping the ground with his elbows, messing up his silk shirt in the process, to be the price of this passageway. Alas, once he did find his way out, the candle had proven to be too weak to reveal the true nature of the cave. The air seemed fresher here, but there was also something disturbing in the darkness.

Courageous fellow he is, he decided to follow the wall, moving as quietly as he could. He'd have to pause every few steps to make sure his fickle candle doesn't blow out... An eternity later unbelievable sight had entered his vision—piles and piles of coin in front of him! So much that his puny candle could illuminate them all! He immediately lit up a torch. Thousands and thousands of coins laid strewn around the cave—so much that six men could roll in them easily. More importantly, he saw what they came here for originally: iron rods adorned with eagles, the holy symbols of Shang Ta, staked into the ground.

Alas, he couldn't carry both for they were much heavier than they initially seemed. That priest must've been quite strong to bear one with such ease. So he grabbed one and went back to inform his fellow adventurers of this most stunning findings.

Whilst Gabriel prowled through darkness, remaining trio explored the narrow corridor. It proved to be quite short, merging with the wider tunnel at the end. Peeking around the corner uncovered a surprising sight—a humanoid figure dressed in robes with feathered shouldepards sitting at a large wooden desk. Pusgic carefully approached it, only to find it turning towards him, tongue hanging where its lower jaw was supposed to be. The unholy undead lunged at the man dressed in black. Pusgic responded by cutting it in half. Another rotten figure rose from the rubble, butt naked, only to be taken down by a headshot from Nutriel.

Taaaz managed to find yet another bag. It contained some chalk, a small leather pouch with gray sand, and a necklace made of hide and sinew. Pusgic rocked the table, discovering a large secret compartment filled with coin. A total of 2120 copper pieces and 44 silver pieces were found, if it is to believe Taaaz's counting skills. Unfortunately, demonstration of his packing skills was interrupted by the approach of three glowing orbs. Unwilling to take any chances, the party retreated back to where they came from.

At that moment Gabriel crawled out of the small tunnel, finding his friends engaged with what seemed to be large flying beetles. Taaaz and Pusgic were engaged in melee, whilst Nutriel was shooting from behind. One of the beetles was killed with a thrust through its thick head, courtesy of Taaaz. Alas, the other promptly rammed the plated warrior, throwing him down on his back. It quickly scaled him and crushed his Adam's apple with its strong mandibles.

Pusgic killed it, but too late to save his friends. Blood gargles were supplant with silence. Gabriel took of with the totem, Nutriel missed with all his arrows, and Pusgic made his final stand “You go. It's gonna be all right.” he smiled as the last remaining beetle downed him. In desperation, Nutriel rushed it with dagger, only to find his arms snapped in half by unforgiving mandibles. Gabriel threw arms severed from one of the unfortunate acolytes, and fled for his life.

He made it to the cave exit against all odds. Arradir looked at him in disbelief. The duo managed to return to Antil undisturbed. They retrieved the totem—but at what cost?

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