Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 35
|Rad||Thief level 3||A young, short and malnourished rogue.|
|Gomm||Thief level 3||Swarthy, good looking, dark-skinned thief. Sweet opium-like aroma is his fragrance of choice.|
|Rhovar||Fighter level 3||A generic Nordic guy.|
|Brawley||Dwarf level 1||Stocky, baldy, scimitar-wielding sea knave.|
|Flamthwynn||Magic-user leve 1||An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.|
|Eccy Throi||Elf level 1||Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.|
|Ulster||Fighter level 2||A former caravan guard with a promise to fulfil.|
|Mano Stern||Cleric level 1||Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.|
|Taegen Ianlynn||Elf level 1||Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.|
|Norwell||Thief level 1||A finely dressed slim fellow of few words. Carries the scar of betrayal.|
|BuddyPuddingBottom||Elf level 2||Peppermint scented elf followed by jingles, on a quest for the perfect gift.|
Sunstrong 2nd, Waterday
The strength of Hydra Company was at full display in Tenoch: thirteen career adventurers joined by thirty mercenaries. Discussions were had, plans were drafted, until the final decision came.
The party will strike the cave of sinister Ack!, capture him alive for that sweet, sweet bounty of 4 000 platinum pieces, and then return to Tenoch in time to defend it from cannibal barbarians.
Eccy Throi and Taegen Ianlynn took the lead of the mounted unit: fighters Ulster, Delphine the Spiteful, and Herat; thieves Gomm and Norwell; the cleric of nature Mano Stern; and festive elf BuddyPuddingBottom. Their objective was to strike the caves as fast as possible.
Rhovar, Brawley, Flamthwynn, and Rad led the caravan with Vvagon and thirty mercenaries. Their goal was to reach Bathdawn, and wait for the return of the strike unit.
Numerous heads of the Hydra Company slept well, dreaming treasure, glory, and fame that awaits them. They marched out eagerly, alongside first rays of morning sun.
Sunstrong 3rd, Earthday
The strike team galloped to Bathdawn unopposed. There the villagers greeted them with open hands and broad smiles! Since the adventurers' last descent into the caves there haven't been anymore cattle or locals going missing.
“We are here to finish the job!”
Although they hardly needed him anymore, one of the young locals guided to the caves of fungimen. The party soon discovered it was not all as they left it last time...
Mossy ladders by the first waterfall were gone! Of course, what would that be for this group of ingenious profiteers. The thieves quickly secured fifty feet of rope to the cave wall, allowing everyone to descend with a bit of work. Some got wet, but no injuries otherwise.
But that wasn't it! The device used to activate the rerouting mechanism for second waterfall was gone as well. Now this was a much bigger challenge to the adventurers since the way down was entirely blocked by the falling water.
Eccy was first to find a hexagonal depression in the hole. It was filled with soft soil that was easy to claw out. The hole was so deep that the elf had to lie on his side and push his arm all the way down to reach the bottom. A smaller round hole with hard sides could be felt at the very end.
The party jammed a blunt side of the spear and tied a torch to it. Alas, Delphine's brutish strength was too much for this set-up, and she ripped the torch right off.
This obstacle perplexed the strike team for hours. One of them even went to look for an answer in an ancient tome they found somewhere in their backpack. Finally, the party decided to head back to Bathdawn and ask the villagers to help them dam up the stream leading into the caves.
Sunstrong 4th, Fireday
Whole day! That's how long it took the party to cut down enough trees, haul them to the cave entrance, and then construct a dam that was solid enough to withstand the water pressure. How long they had? Who knows...
Unwilling to risk finding out at the wrong time, the group decided to immediately descend, despite a day of hard labour.
The flow was now sufficiently weak to allow them to access the ladders leading down the second waterfall. Remembering the green mound that consumed Rhovar and DJ Basic they opted for the longer, east route, instead of going westwards.
They travelled unopposed, stopping from time to time to check whatever piqued their interest. The portcullis leading to the three cauldron chamber were still down. It resisted a lifting attempt by Taegen and Delphine. The latter threw her back in the process, while the former grinned at the woman who had embarrassed him just a few days earlier.
“Uh, we can go south, but there a giant a mad tree threatened to beat us up.”
“Let's send those who haven't been there yet!”
Well, those had a sorry sight to behold: where once a huge tree stood, mortared and chained to the ground, nothing but charred and chopped remains laid.
“Watch out! The red carpets are back!”
Indeed, as the party walked into the chamber two rectangular, blood-red misty shapes slowly descended from the ceiling. Brave folk of the Hydra Company ran as fast as they could, reaching the laboratory where Eccy was experimented on. The shelves were still empty, courtesy of Flamthwynn the Big-pocketed and DJ Basic the Quick-handed.
After entering the large chamber with cauldrons it really started dawning on the adventurers that this place had been abandoned. Fires under the vats were extinguished and parchments from the workbench were gone.
Further, entering into the bedroom of the giant mushroom revealed that two tapestries they've left behind were gone. There were also few flagstone on the ground, that were apparently used to cover a hidden compartment in the ground. Which was now, of course, empty.
“There is no doubt that Ack is gone...”
“Let's take a look through the east doors where another portcullis was.”
Indeed, the portcullis was still lowered. Gomm and Norwell took to the wooden penile mushrooms that were at the end of the round holes by the doors leading into the blocked corridor. With some experimentation (OK, a lot of experimentation), the party learned they can operate the heavy portcullises—yes, there were actually two of them, forming a sort of gatehouse down the corridor—allowing the party to pass without getting trapped. As long as they remained by the wooden mushrooms.
BuddyPuddingBottom led the expedition into the unknown. He discovered a large chamber bisected by a river that runs from the western to the eastern end. The southern half of the great cavern was lush with tall growths of pale fungi, mainly mushrooms; forming what could best be described a fungus jungle.
Festive elf, joined by Taegen just behind him, followed the river east. Mano Stern, Ulster, and Eccy came after, intent to investigate the chamber further. Just as they entered, BuddyPuddingBottom and Taegen made an intriguing discovery—a pile of washed up bones at the exit from this large cave.
At that same moment Mano Stern disappeared into an enormous mass of fungoid tissue that had emerged from the river. It swallowed him whole, changing its colour from a pale sickly white to a vibrant pink hue.
Finding himself upside down in a writhing mass of something unnatural, crushed from all sides, Mano uncorked his oil flasks and set himself aflame.
The huge monster emitted a high pitched sound and shook tremendously—as if it had sneezed! A byproduct of that was a massive ball of lightning that shot out of its body down east.
We shall never know if that was deliberate or not, but the results were the same none the less. Taegen the Buff screamed as he sizzled and turned into nothing but charred remains. BuddyPuddingBottom hid behind him, but even avoiding the full extent of the thunderbolt did not void the fact that he was standing knee deep in chilly, conductive water.
Against all odds the festive elf survived and remained just conscious enough to drop himself into the river, and float downstream, into the unknown. Surely whatever lies there cannot be as horrible as this horror?
But fungal mountain was far from finished. A yawning opening went for Ulster, revealing a burning fire within the monster, as well as two ropey tendrils. He too met his end here.
Eccy Throi ran back, down the corridor with two portcullises. Others followed him.
Sunstrong 5th, Spiritday
Eccy, Gomm, Norwell, Delphine, and Herat found themselves in the pitch black darkness, despite exiting the caves. Howla and Vannis were dim and it was chilly. They must've spent hours down there.
They could hear their dam falling apart just as they descended to Bathdawn. Tired and disheartened, all they could do now is wait for the caravan to arrive...
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