Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 31
|Adkin the Butcher||Fighter level 3||A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.|
|Rhovar||Fighter level 3||A generic Nordic guy.|
|Rad||Thief level 1||A young, short and malnourished rogue.|
|Taegen Ianlynn||Elf level 1||Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.|
|Dave John Basic||Fighter level 3||A village boy with an affinity for stabbing rats.|
|Ulster||Fighter level 2||A former caravan guard with a promise to fulfil.|
|Eccy Throi||Elf level 1||Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.|
|Sinai||Cleric level 3||White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.|
Warmshade 11th, Airday
“We'll gut them like pigs, should we ever run into them!”
Ariad and Ehrman were nowhere to be seen, and by the looks of it, they've deserted on the horses owned by the Hydra Company.
Despite being concerned with their dwindling numbers and poor equipment, the party has decided to ride back to Bathdawn.
One delve, they said, just one delve to see if Eccy and Sinai are still alive.
Sinai was dragged around with ease; he heard the familiar water stream and the noise of meat grinder. No matter how hard he fought back the creatures' grip seemed unbreakable. Eccy didn't fare much better, despite his more impressive strength.
Eventually they were stuffed into a small cage each, with enough room to barely be on all four. Nothing but darkness and sound of rushing water remained.
Exhausted and with streaming water as a lullaby, the priest and the elf sunk into deep sleep.
Droning, familiar noise woke up Eccy.
“What has happened here?” he heard in Elvish, albeit with a weird accent.
“Only one dead? Oh, how have my traps failed so!” the voice went on.
As Eccy turned his head he felt his whole body ache from the uncomfortable position he was in for unspecified amount of time.
“In tarnation! How many minions have I lost!”
He could see a large mushroom figure covering the whole entrance into the cave. It had a thick stalk and broad cap. It seemed to have two arm-like appendages, and the right one seemed to be holding something that doesn't emanate heat.
It turned around into the chamber where the party had faced a large number of fungi-men. It muttered and spoke all the time, in an unfamiliar elvish dialect.
It suddenly returned, still talking.
“Ack! Those pesky villager must've hired some pesky good doers!”
It moved with surprising agility towards the cage Sinai was in.
“Wake up!” it yelled in high-pitched voice in common, while striking him several times with a blunt object.
“Rise and shine, intruder!”
“What is a Priest of Bukera doing so far away from deserts? What are you seeking here?!”
“I seek what was taken from our people and return it to its rightful place!” Sinai roared before ramming himself into the cage with all his might.
“Ack! Savage! Savage!”
The cage did not bend at all, but the creature scuttled away, towards Eccy.
“Primitive, primitive!” the creature continued in elvish.
“You! Yes you! Oh, how fortunate I am to capture one of your kind. Speak! What were you looking for here with these barbarians?”
“I pursue arcane knowledge, and to master the craft of combat. These barbarians, such as they were, were useful to me in this pursuit.”
“Ack! Ack! And how many of them were there?”
“I'm not sure, ten or so. A fairly incompetent lot. I'm sure you will have noticed the one corpse was made by a spear to the back. An accident.”
“And where did they leave to? Are they coming back for you?”
“I have no way of knowing.”
“Surely you are smart enough to take an educated guess? Don't be shy now.”
“I met them in this very cave, and barely knew them. How am I to know where they've gone? I came in search of spellbooks I was heard were in the hands of someone that matches your description. Now I find myself captured. A fool's errand perhaps.”
“A fool's errand indeed! Don't you worry a thing, for I'll soon give you new purpose. Just you rest here and be a good boy.”
“Do tell me, what would that new purpose be?”
“Patience. You will find out soon enough. In the meantime—enjoy the show!” and it scuttled off with an ominous laughter.
Without anything else to do, Eccy tried to work the vines holding the cage down. Alas, it took him six hours before he managed to reach the vines. The cage, despite being of natural material, had very little give on the lower side. Even worse, once he did manage to reach the vines, he found them to be quite elastic.
Sinai once again rammed the cage. He bounced right back, then bounced off the floor into the cage again. He suffered whiplash and barely remained conscious.
Their plans were disrupted by scuttling sounds. Eccy could see out humanoid shapes moving in two quintets. Each group grabbed something off the ground, and carried it to the other chamber. They returned an hour later, and pushed whatever they've been dragging into the wooden device in the middle of the room. Sickening sounds of crushing bones and mincing meat were heard.
“Damn. I'll be turned into soup soon. Better not let that spell go to waste...” and so Sinai healed himself.
Their plans were once again interrupted, this time by large mushroom and a number of fungi men.
“Ack! You've been patient enough!”
Warmshade 12th, Waterday
With their horses spent from a day of hard ride, our brave gang opted for brisk march to the caves of vicious fungi-men. A local boy was eager to guide them once again, for these were the only warriors who had shown any interest in absolving them of this evil.
They reached the cave mouth just as the sun was lazily showing its first rays. Flamthwynn and the guide stayed behind, at what they deemed to be a “safe” distance.
The mossy ladders were still at the same spot, right next to the crashing waterfall. Rad picked up on the first change—plants flanking the tunnel to next waterfall have been replaced! Adventurers peppered them with arrows without too much hesitation.
Rad used the wooden key to reroute the second waterfall, revealing another set of ladders going down. Downwards they went.
And here they faced the second change since their last visit. At this point was junction, splitting the water stream in three different canals. Although the divider was still here, the southern tunnel was completely blocked with what seemed to be wood. In fact, it looked as if the wood had grown out of the cavern walls, so perfectly flush was it.
Chopping proposals were chopped down on the basis of attracting too much attention, too early. Since the stream was now split in two, instead of three, they had to wade through knee-deep chilly water.
Following the southern was uneventful... to a point. As they approached the T-junction leading to the lower level, they heard scrapping and splashing sounds. Almost as if something was being dragged.
Peeking around the corner revealed four fungi-men to be the source of the noise. They were in fact dragging crooked trees that party had vanquished just several days ago.
Using superior tactics of “surprise our foes and crush them,” the party charged and took care of all four in record time. Adkin and Rhovar killed one each, and DJ Basic demonstrated that rat killing skill set is very applicable to fungal creatures as well.
Investigating the scene revealed two things. First, it seemed as if the monsters were trying to build a dam out of deformed trees. Second, the spikes and rope set up by Rhovar on their previous expedition had been taken out.
With the further descent dangerous enough as is, the party had once again decided to spend the needed time to secure hundred feet of rope along the tunnel walls.
Taking a deep breath, they went down, one by one. The place where they fought the black horror was close.
With another familiar T-junction in sight, the party opted to send forth two scouts. Taegen drank a supposed potion of invisibility, while Rad sneaked up to the corner and listened carefully.
The elf first became transparent. Then he disappeared from top to bottom, with his palms and feet disappearing last. Rad heard scrubbing sounds to west. In that direction was the chamber with human-mincer and prisoners.
Finally, Taegen set off on his own. After all, if his own fellow adventurers can't see him, surely the fungi-men won't be able to see him as well!
And indeed, two of the creatures was just around the corner. They seemed to be scrubbing some black, oily substance from the tunnel walls. He slipped right past them, and went into the chamber. Without any light sources, he had to rely on his infravision.
He could see one to the south, slouched and balled up. Sneaking on into the northern chamber revealed four large pods with heat signatures. Satisfied with his findings, Taegen went back to inform the party of his findings.
Their attack was swift. Both fungi-men were too preoccupied with their cleaning tasks to notice their upcoming doom. They were hacked to bits in seconds.
Adkin's sword, generously returned by feral dwarf turned towering black demon, was still where it was dropped last time. Rest of the adventurers rushed into the chamber, hoping to liberate Sinai and Eccy. Alas, all cages but one were empty. One single, grumpy dwarf was the only prisoner, much to the adventurers' horror.
Polearm wielding warrior could not resist the urge to pepper the prisoner with select insults. The rest of the party proceeded to northern chamber, where they cut down all the hanging pods as well as any inhabitants they found.
Northwestern alcove had a bittersweet surprise for them—a pile of equipment, torn clothes, armours and weapons. Rad was the first to delve into it, quickly realising these are the properties of their fallen and captured friends: Phelim, Norna, Sinai, and Eccy Throi.
Rad took Sinai's holy symbol, a crystal scorpion, carefully wrapped it up, and put it in his backpack. Others discarded their leather armour, and put on the deceased's heavier, metal armour.
Adkin's provocations went unanswered. Now provoked himself, he seriously considered stabbing the helpless dwarf to death. Was it a kernel of suspicion, fear, or generosity is unknown, but he decided to spare the captured monster.
Since they haven't found their allies, the party has decided to follow the stream leading southeast. The winding tunnel lead them to yet another T-junction, this time splitting south and east. Both canals had fishing nets in them, with some small catch.
Scouts were once again sent forth. Peeking around the corner revealed a most curious sight: the stream seemed to terminate in darkness, and cauldron over fire could be seen in distance.
“This is it, let's go in!”
The band tightened their rank, and marched in with two abreast.
The stream did indeed terminate, falling down large iron grate on the floor. The chamber they found themselves in was moon-shaped, with weird, curvy walls. In front of them stood three cauldrons, each on a stone tripod. A pinkish, six-foot pod was hanging to their left. Unlike others they've cut down so far, this one was more fleshy and had blood-red pulsing all over it. Finally, a broad wooden desk by the wall beyond the cauldrons.
Taegen the Invisible went straight for the table, discovering that it is covered with parchments that had unrecognisable scribbles all over them. He stuffed as many as he could in his backpack.
Rad the Bad went for the pot with milky, pale green liquid. He sniffed it, and it having found it a pleasant smell, decided to take a sip with conveniently placed ladle. It was sweet! Which was enough for him to down a whole pint of the liquid. It was tasty and left a warm, fuzzy feeling in his belly.
DJ Basic, went on to listen to the eastern doors. Quiet as a grave. And worst of all—no rats. That's when he decided to join Ulster, who stood guard by the pink pod all this time. Know for his patience, DJ cut the pod open, revealing a sickening sight.
Pus, blood, and green-yellow-pink slimy fluid poured out of the pod as it was cut. Heavy smell of rot promptly assaulted their nostrils. In it lay a human—if the creature can be called that—half encrusted with fungal overgrowth, heavily deformed body, and mushroom-looking head. It had human eyes, and seemed to attempt to talk. Moans and sucking whizzes were all that could be heard.
Ulster recognised the non-transformed parts as the man who was once his superior. He ended his suffering by smashing his head with mace, and then beating the body to a bloody pulp. “He is man no more.”
Rhovar and Adkin took it upon themselves to secure the southeast perimeter. Whilst doing so, one of them heard weak moans and talk from behind the door. Although he could not understand the language, he could swear that he heard the word “Taegen.” Summoning forth an invisible ally turned out to be a bit of an issue, but he eventually succeeded.
Listening intently, Taegen did recognise the language and voice! It sounded like Eccy! Wishing to waste no more time, the trio swung the doors open and went in courageously.
Yet another room with warped walls, and iron grate that sucks in another stream. They found foggy Eccy lying stark naked on an elongated wooden chair. The latter had many wooden needles on articulated stalks attached to it, as well as some sort of funnel near the head rest. Eccy's arms had bloody prick-holes spanning from wrist to elbow.
His foggy mind tried to process what was happening, but with Taegen being invisible it only seemed like yet another hallucination. It wasn't until the warrior duo started shaking him that he realised his rescue was real.
DJ Basic was attracted to large shelf by the chair. Numerous potions laid on its many shelves. He swept the top shelf into his backpack. Some of it ought to be useful!
Rad the Observant noticed that he was left alone in the chamber with vats and bleeding pink pod. He rushed south to join his team mates. He heard wood straining behind him just as he reached the south doors.
A massive fungi-man smashed through the doors with two hammer-shaped fists. It was so large it had to turn sideways to be able to pass through.
An audible “Ack!” could be heard from behind it.
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