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Wilderlands

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Taegen Ianlynn Elf level 1 Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.
Flamthwynn Magic-user leve 1 An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
Blutvarth Fighter level 1 A skinny man with sharp features, curly hair and a sneering smile. He swears that he is friendlier than he looks.
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.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
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.
Dave John Basic Fighter level 3 A village boy with an affinity for stabbing rats.

Warmshade 12th, Waterday

Slow fire burned under the cauldron with pale green liquid.

“Should we get out?”

“I think this might be our best chance to defeat that evil mushroom...”

“We still haven't found Sinai!”

“How about one more room?”

The adventurers agreed that those burdened with awesome treasure they've just plundered from alien mushroom's chambers should start heading south, towards suspect exit, while the rest will investigate north. Western passageway, the one they came in through, was still blocked by heavy portcullis.

Carefully moving on, the explorers found themselves in the most alien chamber so far. The walls were bulging and warping as if they were melted into shape. A familiar stream went through a grate in the floor, crashing on something hard below.

A round, oddly shaped desk was in the center; a bizarre recliner next to; and a large, warped cabinet extruded from the western atrocity of a wall. Flamthwynn recognised the place as some perverse take on library. Stroking his chin, he announced that he'll be studying the contents of this chamber. Eccy Throi joined in, seeking the spell book his Master sent him after. Rad went for the cabinet. DJ Basic sought rats.

Rest of the party proceeded north, upstream. There they found a massive chamber full of large, human-sized pods hanging from the ceiling. Dozens, and dozens, and dozens...

At this moment Blutvarth the Lizardman begun screaming and shivering—another disgusting metamorphosis was taking place! His scales started peeling off, his yellow eyes burst with force, his razor sharp teeth fell out, and his tails spasmed so hard it broke in places. At the end of this macabre show, Blutvarth the Pink Human was left one the ground, a naked, shrivelling excuse of existence.

He did get some help from the party, but they were more interested in parchments on the table and contents of the cabinet. Indeed, Flamthwynn could read some of them. It were mostly ramblings of a mad person. Calculations of nutrient requirements, plant growth cycles, an the like. He did find an illustration of a cage-like shaped. The text next to it said:

“Command: Fahoorth”

Rad scoured the cabinet for traps. Having found none, he smugly opened it, only to have the cabinet shriek loudly. Alarmed, the thief was joined by Eccy, DJ Basic, and Flamthwynn in smashing it. After they properly beat it up, they proceeded to plunder its innards. They've recovered three scroll cases, presumably with scrolls in them, eight heavy tomes on horticulture, and one large, leather-bound, locked book. The last one was taken by Eccy.

Flamthwynn and Eccy stayed in the library, while the rest joined Adkin and the gang. Together, they went further upstream, and played exterminators for an hour. That's how long it took them to cut down just a little bit over a hundred pods. By the time they were done, all were thoroughly covered in minced fish paste, rotten vegetation, and an assortment of colourful gooey substances.

As this took place, Flamthwynn studied more of the alien notes. An illustration of familiar U-shaped plant with slimy tendrils on the underside had “Shothuar” scribbled next to it. The following unfinished note caught his attention as well:

”...the unexpected result of the experiment has been forced into a larger cavern, where it has, so far, remained peaceful. I can keep it back with its discipline stick, but it has become a very irritating obstacle.”

What about Blutvarth? Well, I'm happy that you remembered him, for he was better off whilst being ignored. Flamthwynn the Master Alchemist, persuaded the young warrior to drink another vial of blood red liquid, which was “most definitely” a healing potion.

Too weak to think or argue, the man downed it all in one go. It went out as fast as it come down. Blutvarth vomited blood all over himself. Eccy and Flamthwynn masterfully evaded the vomit projectiles. The elf couldn't believe how incompetent this lot is.

“Feeling better, boy?”

Too weak to exist, Flamthwynn interpreted the boy's wobbling head as yes. From now, both Herat and Eccy had to assist him. Remembering that Rad felt better after drinking the pale green liquid from the bubbling cauldron, Master Alchemist's next brilliant suggestion was to go for it.

They took (dragged?) Blutvarth to the vat. The boy dunked in his head and took large gulps. Others left him to it, not wishing to risk getting themselves soiled. This time the contents stayed in the boy's belly, and he did feel... warm. Which helped, since he was still naked after the transformation.

By now the Exterminators have rejoined the Healers. The party was now where they were at the beginning of this story—in the cauldron room.

“Let's get out!”

Following southern path led them down the tunnel which entered into yet another large chamber. Entrance was flanked by the upside-down plant cups.

“Shothuar!” Flamthwynn yelled, proving himself actually useful. The plants flattened against the cave wall.

A gravelly, rumbling voice echoed through darkness. It spoke in elven:

“Who goes there? Have you returned to torture me more?!”

Hesitantly entering the cave, the party quickly found the source of this disturbing voice. A twelve foot tall, six-men wide tree was planted in the south-west corner. Its roots were mortared, and many branches were chained to the ground.

“You are not that accursed mushroom... Free me! Free me so I can trash this place!”

“Watch out!” Rad yelled as he noticed two blood-red carpets slowly descending from above. “That's it, we are out of here!”

And so they ran north, upstream, finding themselves at the familiar T-junction. Lowered portcullis was to their right. They were on the right track. Low, hateful grumbling echoed from behind them.

Moving further upstream, the party once again went into the chamber with cages. A dwarf was still imprisoned. The dwarf that turned out to be a horrific black monster last time it escaped.

“Let's kill him!”

“What if the cage is magical and anyone inside looks like a dwarf?”

“Let's open it and see?”

“What if it isn't and it kills us after we let it out?”

“I have an idea.”

The idea was Flamthwynn, and yes, it included passing the liquid to the person being “helped.” In this case it was a vial of ink and a piece of parchment. Surely whatever was inside could write something? Alas, the dwarf was as uncommunicative as it had been before.

Without much else to do, the party proceeded upstream, to exit. They traversed slowly, making sure that the exquisite tapestries don't get damaged. Once again the went for the left tunnel, taking them through the room with fish-mincer. On their way to the the four-way junction with wood divider, DJ Basic noticed something odd to his left.

There was a dry tunnel they've always ignored since they assumed it to be a dead end. Also, entrance into it was basically a collection of ropy pillar of fungus growth spanning from floor to ceiling. But this time it seemed as if these pillars were moving towards them.

“Guys, check this out...”

“What are you seeing?

“I'm not sure...”

“How shall we resp–”

Before Adkin had the chance to finish his sentence, a massive mound of vegetation shambled out of the fungal wall. It engulfed both Adkin and DJ Basic in a single attack. They found themselves in a green hell, with endless tendrils constraining their limbs.

Rhovar immediately dropped the tapestry he was holding, and joined the fray. Flamthwynn, Eccy and few others fled upstream. Taegen the Invisible, Rhovar, Rad, Ulster gave it their best, but haven't managed to land more than two blows.

Having absorbed two of their members, the monster retreated back into the fungal overgrowth. Party desperately tried to hit it with their missile weapons, including burning oil, but once again missed. With a heavy heart, they too retreated upstream.

Adkin and DJ Basic fought the tendrils with all their might.

“Oh, no, you green demon, you will go down with me!” Adkin muttered. He would've rather set himself on fire, than die within this glorified pile of leaves. Gathering just enough strength to take out and uncork two of his oil flasks fueled his rage even further.

Flint and steel were. Damn, in which pocket were they? As he struggled to reach them, the innumerable tendrils overpowered him once again. Few constrained around his neck.

DJ Basic also struggled immensely. At one moment he nearly got out, but got pulled in at last moment. He heard Adkin grunts of defiance; he heard the uncorking. Then he heard the vials bouncing off the ground; the clang of flint hitting the hard cavern floor. And then his grunts were the only one.

Until they too, were no more.

“We haven't found Sinai. We lost two more...” Herat lamented as the survivors were greeted by the village boy, their guide.

“There will be time to mourn. But not now.”

Warmshade 13th, Earthday

They rested at Bathdawn, and with the crack of dawn rode off in two separate directions.

Rad, Flamthwynn, Taegen Ianlynn, Eccy Throi, Ulster, and Herat rode to Tenoch, intent on making their meeting with Minn Almar on Warmshade 14th. They reached their destination by the end of fourth watch.

Rhovar and Blutvarth took all the treasure to Antil. They were to gather reinforcements, sell the treasure, and get proper healing for Blutvarth, before joining others in Tenoch. Five giant wolves surprised them in the woods just after they had crossed the majestic river Highcourse.

Player Session Reports

Flamthwynn's juice:

Adkin's end:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Flamthwynn Magic-user leve 1 An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
Blutvarth Fighter level 1 A skinny man with sharp features, curly hair and a sneering smile. He swears that he is friendlier than he looks.
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.
Taegen Ianlynn Elf level 1 Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.
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.
Alestone the Brave Dwarf level 1 Overdressed coward.

Warmshade 12th, Waterday

“We've got company!” Rad yelled while slamming the doors behind him.

Most of the party was focused on naked and groggy Eccy. His arms were lined with bloody dots; needles hanging from the alien recliner he was lying on being the most probable cause of these mysterious injuries.

In the confusion the party had been joined by two newcomers:

Alestone the Brave, an absolute coward dressed in heavy armour from top to bottom. He even had matching knee pads. The dwarf seemed to materialise out of thin air—as if he came out of the fog.

Blutvarth, another heavily armoured figure. He was much less cowardly than the dwarf and had a sneering smile to prove it.

With little time to act, Adkin and Rhovar shook the elf back to his senses, while Taegen the passed healing potion to him. Eccy downed it without hesitation. The ghost of Saint Zagyg smiled upon him.

All warriors—Adkin, Rhovar, Blutvarth, Ulster, and Alestone—rushed to form a bottleneck at the entrance into the chamber they've been in. Whatever will come through that doors will suffer hell.

Herat stood her ground in the centre of the room, firmly holding the torch and providing much needed illumination. Freshly rejuvenated Eccy noticed his equipment in the corner and rushed towards it. Flamthwynn exercised tactical retreat in the direction he judged to be safest.

THUD. THUD. THUD.

The cave ground vibrated underneath their feet as something approached the closed doors.

A moment of silence was gone before Alestone had the chance to relent, and the doors came down with a tumultuous noise.

Gigantic fungi-man squeezed sideways through the door-frame, revealing two massive hammer fists. Dwarf immediately set him alight with precisely lobbed oil flask. The giant reached the party in one step, and enveloped Alestone with another.

Alas, the dwarf tried to wriggle out of it but was crushed to bloody by the monster's hammer fist in seconds. His blood splattered all over Blutvarth and Rhovar; the only reminder of his existence.

The warriors were swift in their vengeance, each carving out a chunk of the humongous fungi-man. Taegen went all in and cast Light upon the monster's head.

“Crushed dreams” illustration by one of the players.

Giant monster now acted as a lighthouse, revealing yet another curious figure just outside the smashed doorway. Rhovar, Blutvarth, and Adkin could see a eight feet tall mushroom with huge cap and two mean looking narrow eyes. They radiated sickly yellow light and looked as if the creature was scowling.

It focused it's gaze on Adkin the Butcher, and shouted in Common: “Protect me mighty warrior! Save me from these barbarians!”

To which the fighter positively responded and implored his friends to stop this violence at once. To say that he was ignored would be an understatement.

Distracted by their traitorous peer, Rhovar and Blutvarth hadn't noticed a number of purple-coloured orbs flying towards them at incredible speed. The former suffered two strokes, while the latter went down after a single hit.

“You! YOU!” Ulster boiled with rage. “I will kill you Sorcerer!” he roared as he charged past the towering fungi-men, and went straight at the mushroom-wizard. He was checked by another fungi-men, but not before he took a swing at the target of his rage.

His mace bounced of invisible barrier.

“Ack! Savage!”

The creature fought back, striking him with a staff-like object.

“Adkin, what has gotten into you?” Rhovar pleaded as he tried to wrestle down his friend. Alas, he was no match for the man trained by the famous Marco Vitelli. He was thrown to the side like a little pebble.

“Don't you remember all the wine and ale we guzzled together? All the dungeons we ransacked? And the women too?”

Overwhelmed with all the fond memories of their tight camaraderie, Adkin managed to snap out of whatever charm had that mushroom-wizard placed on him.

Herat and Taegen finished off the blinded monster. Flamthwynn maintained safe distance throughout the engagement. Let the kids perish, he did not reach his age by rushing in first.

“Ack! Savages! Savages! Savages!” the Sorcerer yelled as he turned and fled into the north-east chamber.

Still outraged, Ulster smashed the head of the fungi-man who had stopped him with a single strike, and charged after the fleeing monster. Other warriors, as well as two elves, followed.

Flamthwynn, feeling safe, went over to inspect Blutvarth. The boy was still breathing but needed urgent attention. He quickly instructed Rad and DJ Basic how to help him. Then he went through the potions shelf that DJ Basic started, but hasn't finished ransacking.

“Hmmm... What might be a healing potion here... Hmmm... Probably something red?”

Lo and behold, he did find two vials with dark red liquid. Putting his nose to both revealed one had a rusty smell while the other had a pleasant cedar aroma.

“Here, this one will... Make you feel better...”

Blutvarth, barely conscious, placed the vial to his lips as carefully as he could. Then he took a few shy sips. He felt tingles on his lips and warmth in his belly. And then he down it all in one go.

First few seconds were rather uneventful. Then he started to itch. A lot. Then his hair started to fall out; his skin started to crack and split; his teeth and nails came loose before falling off. He could feel his asshole burning, as well as stupefying pain in his face, as if great force was pulling it forward.

Flamthwynn got to enjoy the show from first row. The man in front of him went from broken boy in metal armour to a blob of pink flesh in matter of seconds. Blutvarth's face elongated into crocodile like shape, and razor-sharp teeth replaced human molars; pinkish skin was no more, replaced by shiny green-scales; nails replaced by claws, and swimming skin between the fingers; and finally, a long tail stretched from just above where once his anus used to be.

Clearing his throat, Flamthwynn spoke in lizard-man tongue “Ahem... So... Are you feeling better?”

Blutvarth, still recoiling from the horrific experience, took some time before responding. He did indeed feel better, but was thoroughly confused with what had just transpired.

As this macabre transformation took place rest of the party chased after the mushroom-wizard, charging into a large circular room. Unlike Ulster, others were not blind to lavish furniture. Four large masterwork tapestries adorned each wall; a large, alien-like reclined couch with silk bedclothes; a glass cabinet containing three cut-glass decanters and a silver goblet; a water pipe on a low table in the middle of the room with an enormous brazier full of unlit coal right next to it.

Ulster had seen his victim run through the eastern doors. They were similar to other doors leading into this chamber with one exception: they had iron bars running up and across them. Next to the doors were two holes carved into the wall. Both were filled with pale green, stringy substance, quite similar to the material fungi-men are made out of.

Using the shafts of their long weapons, Adkin and Taegen pushed the substance aside, revealing a small mushroom in each hole. Both felt wooden to touch, and did not budge even when pulled or pushed. They did move once they were twisted. The duo pulled both up simultaneously. The wooden mushroom rose as two small penises, and then limply fell back once they were released.

At this moment Ulster and Eccy judged they had enough of this, and invited invisible Taegen to force the doors open. After all, this wood elf was known far and wide for his impressive pythons. He earned his reputation once again, opening the doors as if they had never been closed at all.

Alas, Ulster was left disappointed, for around the corner laid nothing but a dark corridor and lowered portcullis. Party ignored his calls for vengeance, opting to plunder the lavishly decorated room instead.

Rhovar and Adkin gently lowered, rolled up, and then tied two of the majestic tapestries. They were so heavy that two men had to carry one. Herat helped herself to the glass cabinet, nicking all the stuff within.

Finally, Flamthwynn introduced his new friend to the rest of the party. Fighters deemed wholly unimpressed, unlike Eccy, who wondered who are these accursed folk whom he had partnered up for this expedition.

Once they finished taking all the valuable they can carry, the adventurers headed back into the chamber with three vats. As soon as they left, five fungi-men assaulted them form behind. Neither had proven to be any significant threat to this well oiled machine, not even the four-armed buff fungi-man. In fact, he was the first to go down, chopped to thin slices by Adkin the Chef.

Whilst discussing their further plans, Flamthwynn scanned through piles of parchment on the workbench. He recognised the spidery alphabet: goblin. But language was elvish. What a weird combination. The notes were either of an alien or mad mind. They were on combining plant and flesh to create new life; on something called “snagwort;” and numerous diatribes on “surface-dwelling folk.” Was there anything there worth of further study? Only time will tell.

At the moment the party stood in the dimly illuminated chamber, discussing their next move. Embers beneath one of the cauldrons quietly cackled.

What is this place?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
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.

Interlude

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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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Eccy Throi Elf level 1 Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.
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.
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.

Later...

Character Class Description
Flamthwynn Magic-user level 1 An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
Dave Basic Fighter level 1 A village boy with an affinity for stabbing rats.

Warmshade 9th, Fireday

“We have it all under the control, don't fall apart now!”

Sinai, Eccy, Adkin, and Rhovar were keeping a host of fungi-men checked. Their positioning forced the creatures to squeeze through the passageway one at a time.

“Thank you friend! I will not forget this!” Ulster, the warrior imprisoned in one of the cages, was profoundly grateful that Rad set him free. Although dressed in nothing but loincloth and tattered shirt, he rushed to pick up mace dropped by Norna.

The latter had perished from horrible wound inflicted by a feral dwarf in another cage. He ripped out her arm, and she bled to death as her party ignored her wails and pleas.

“Somebody take care of that damn dwarf!”

Taegen handed over the lantern to Ehrman, ensured Merinthia that he will be back soon, and rushed into the chamber. There, joined by Ariad, he stabbed the captive dwarf. Grunts, froth, and a mean look was all he got.

“Fall back! Regroup by the cave entrance!”

They've been doing so well. They cut down a dozen of these fungal creatures, nine cursed trees, and other plant-based critters they've encountered.

“Something is very wrong with this dwarf...” Ulster muttered.

Alas, in the chaos Sinai was grabbed by two fungi-men. No matter how hard he fought back, he was unable to break their iron grip. He was dragged into unknown darkness. Eccy didn't manage to get far before being constrained by three creatures.

Given their retreat, light abandoned the chamber, barely illuminating the entrance—just enough for the retreating warriors to see creatures right in front of them.

“You left something behind.” an unexpectedly deep, almost growling sound voiced from the darkness.

“What the–”

The party had no time for wonder, for a cage came flying from the darkness. It landed straight on Taegens's broad chest, nearly killing him. And indeed, were it not for his amazing physique, he'd be nothing but a mangled collection of bone and sinew.

“Go, save yourself!” Eccy shouted, encouraging his friends to flee. He continued fighting the fungi-men, desperately trying to set himself free. Few of the creatures ignored him and went toward the growls in the darkness.

Ehrman, Ariad, and Merinthia rapidly moved upstream. Taegen and Rad were just behind them. Heavily armoured Adkin and Rhovar were way behind.

And then it went from bad to worse.

A towering black figure stepped out of the darkness. Nearly 8 feet tall, with long, lanky arms. It was so black it seemed like it was sucking the colour out of its surroundings. Its amazing blackness made it impossible to make sense of any features—except two. First, it had two blood-red eyes which felt like razors cutting at the very fabric of being . Second, it had a pearly white grin spanning the width of its head. Snot-yellow foam was dripping from it.

The figure moved with shocking speed. It ran right past the fungal creatures and captured Eccy, past the armoured warriors, and stopped just short of Rad and Taegen.

“I said, you left something behind.” the demon turned to Adkin, dwarfing him. It raised it right arm, showing a short-sword given to it by the fighter. And then it just dropped it into the stream.

“Um, ahm, why thank you.” the warrior stammered. “Now that we saved you, how about you help us escape?”

The creature was so close he could smell its horrible breath. He could also make out some of its facial features: long nose flattened against its face, large ears, and tense, leathery skin covered with warts and boils.

“Banter? I'm hungry, you know...”

Rad quickly dropped some rations. Adkin offered his wine.

The creature threw its head back, as in disbelief, and growled “Oh no, I'm hungry for something else! Your flesh!”

Without any further venue of escape, Rhovar and Adkin attacked the creature. Nordman missed, but Adkin delivered a stunning blow, nearly severing the monster in half. The creature roared and wailed whilst Adkin watched in horror as parts of its wounds are closing right in front of his eyes.

Rad the Bad snuck up to the creature from behind. He acted without hesitation. He doused the monster's open wound with oil. Then he wasted no time in shoving a lit torch deep into the gash. His bold action was well rewarded.

The monster roared and thrashed around as flames engulfed it. Then it melted away like a large, black candle. Thick, oily substance covered the stream.

Alas, there was no time for celebration. Eccy was still held by a number of fungi-men. The party had decided to leave him behind—all but Ulster.

“No! I refuse to go! Haven't you seen what they do their prisoners? It's fate worse than death!”

“Listen, you must go! Leave!”

“No... No!”

“Leave!”

“I promise I will come back! And I will bring an army! We will level this accursed place! I promise!

And so Eccy was left behind in darkness.

It was pitch black outside.

A sole figure sat by the campfire. Few horses slept next to her.

“Herat!”

“I was starting to get worried... Where is Sinai?!”

“He was captured. Listen, we have no time. Saddle the horses, we must leave at once!”

The party rode until the first ray of sunlight guided them to Bathdawn. There they crashed and spent the day sleeping.

Warmshade 10th, Spiritday

“My father will surely reward you. I'm from Tenoch, a village that's just one day of riding to west.”

Coin is coin. Taegen stayed behind to rest and heal, while the rest escorted Merinthia to her home. Dave Basic, the village pest controller, and Flamthwynn, a wizard seeking spells of great power, joined the party as well.

Indeed, they were warmly greeted in Tenoch. Kegan, wealthy farmer and Merinthia's father, welcomed the party to his manor. Meats and ale were served in great quantities, and good times were had.

As the night drew close, Kegan brought forth a heavy sack of coin and presented it as a gift to the party. Rad the Scale estimated it to be some five hundred coins heavy.

“Is that all?” Adkin inquired. “Without us your daughter would still be in that hole. If you don't have more coin, how about you provide us supplies and men?”

“We cannot afford to spend any man. This is ruthless territory. I'm happy to provide ropes, oil and food, but cannot offer much more than that...”

“How about we take Merinthia back?”

“Are you threatening me?”

The tensions were soon calmed by other, more level headed participants, and festivities were continued. Despite that small hiccup, the adventurers were invited to spend the night in the manor house so they can leave refreshed.

Warmshade 11th, Airday

New day, new victories.

Rat boy spent the morning catch rats. That earned him 79 copper coins. Adkin and Rhovar fletched some arrows and exchanged words with the militia captain. The latter was impressed with them and asked if they'd be willing to train the locals.

Rad threw some pebbles, before joining Flamthwynn. The wizard heard that there was another, truer, wizard in Tenoch. The people described him as appalling and scary. Most keep away from him. Not Flamthwynn though.

It didn't take them long to find his house.

Knocks were answered by a grumpy looking man dressed in garish yellow robe with blue inscriptions. One look at Flamthwynn made his face glow.

“A man of Arts! What a delightful surprise. My name is Minn Almar. Please come in...” the man, despite his invitation, was rather awkward and cumbersome in his move, almost like he isn't sure how to behave in presence of others.

Flamthwynn broke the silence “So! What brings you to live in this fine place, wise Almaruz... Amiraz? Emorul? ... Wise colleague?”

The man frowned “Minn Almar.”

The inside of his villa was opulently dressed—unlike anything adventurers have seen in Tenoch so far. Merinthia's father's manor pales in comparison.

A selection of teas was served by purple-skinned slave boys. Some of them smelled fruity, others earthy.

“Oh, I had enough of city life. I sought a perfect place far and wide until I found this humble village.”

“It is perfectly positioned between Antil and Actun. Farms here are abundant, so there is healthy trade with both cities. I hate the dirty streets and zealots of the Walled City.”

“Elves of Actun make my skin crawl, but they have many arcane wares and secrets... Again, Tenoch shines, because it serves as the usual meeting place between them and local humans.”

“Surely you recognise the brilliance of my choice?”

He took a hearty sip of brown-coloured tea.

“What brings you here, Flamthwynn? What is your specialty?”

“And why is your slave boy eyeing my properties so intently?” he asked, motioning to Rad.

Rad looked around, wondering who he is talking about before realising he’s referring to him! He quickly dusted himself off and tried to look more proper. Finally, he responds “I am no slave, my Lord, just a travelling companion. I was just admiring your many trinkets and wares.” Rad made a mental note of any valuable that would be easy to take.

“These are art pieces, boy, not trinkets.”

He couldn't help but notice how Minn's unpleasant face deformed even further, before turning his attention back to Flamthwynn.

Flamthwynn tried to hide his amazement at this man's riches and potential arcane knowledge. He stuttered “My specialty is... Health! Health of the body. Especially bodies- I mean people that are... Uhm... Unhealthy. I come here in search of knowledge of spells that might bring health to these... people.” He concluded his eloquent answer with a grin.

“Your service might be in high demand soon.”

“Poor people of Tenoch are unaware of the fate that awaits them, fools they are.”

“A savage tribe of cannibal barbarians has been raiding the village for months now. Gof the Old and his dimwitted son are way out of their league.”

“They think that they are safe just because there haven't been any raids for two weeks now.”

“Little do they know of their impending doom...”

Minn barely whispered the last sentence, and kind of just gazed through the window with glassy eyes.

Rad, hearing the opportunity for money, snapped out of his treasure gazing and remarked “Raiders huh, how many? Perhaps our mercenary company can be of service!”

Minn looked at Rad with renewed interest; almost as if new life was brought into him. “Mercenary company? Tell more!”

Trying his best to look and sound professional, Rad explained “We are the Hydra Company. Well renowned in Antil. With us is about a dozen well trained men, but if needed we can return to base and gather much more.”

“And, who is your leader? Flamthwynn, have you been concealing your identity?”

Unperturbed continued “The company is owned by several men and I know I aren't the best example of a fighter personality. I’m more of a marksman or specialist, but we have plenty of strong warriors. If you doubt us, you can ask Kegan or his daughter. They will surely vouch for us.”

“As for Flathwynn, we are barely acquainted, but of course he can speak for himself.”

Minn stroked his chin and leaned back in soft chair. “Interesting. Most interesting.”

“Oh, I do not mean to hide anything from you, wise colleague. I have only recently joined the company of these mercenaries, but can attest to their professionalism and ability!” Flamthwynn glanced at Rad with a hint of a wink, more of a playful squint of the eyes, trying to not be seen by Minn Almar.

“Perhaps we could protect this village on your behalf, it would be advantageous for all of us... I cannot speak for Hydra, but perhaps you could instruct upon me some of your wisdom in return?”

“Well if you speak so highly of them, then this poor village might stand a chance after all.” Minn spoke after several minutes of silence.

“Hear me well—you too boy—do not say a word of our conversation to the locals. They are superstitious lot, and could react to their detriment.”

“I have a secret location a mile from here. Can you meet me there in three days, so we can discuss our plan of action?”

“Time is of the essence.”

“Absolutely. I shall convene with the rest of the company, and give you an answer as soon as I am able.” Flamthwynn gets up with a look of determination, though inside he was thinking “Oh god what am I getting myself into.”

Rad gives his best impression of an elegant bow and adult voice “Of course Milord, we will be there and battle ready.” He was already counting all the coin this guy will pay them.

Minn illustrated the meeting place as well as best path to it on a piece of parchment and handed it over to Flamthwynn. “Make sure that no one from Tenoch sees or knows you are heading there. And don't waste my time. I will wait until the sun sets, but no longer.” And then he awkwardly shooed them both out under the excuse that he needs to tend to some other matters.

Will the party go back to save Sinai and Eccy? Or will they find nothing but ground meat?

Player Session Reports

black_horror

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Eccy Throi Elf level 1 Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 2 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rhovar Fighter level 2 A generic Nordic guy.
Taegen Ianlynn Elf level 1 Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

“What shall we do?!”

“Fire-bomb it!”

“Cast Light at its eyes!”

“Try to talk to it?”

The party was exchanging ideas rapidly, whilst a humanoid shaped fungal growth advanced towards them. It didn't seem to care too much what the adventurers had to say.

The party withdrew back into the tunnel they came from, and tightened their ranks. The fungi-man came close and lunged forward, both of its arms changing shape into a web-like sphere.

One of them landed, capturing an adventurer with a firm grip. At that moment, the creature's other arm shapeshifted once again—this time into a firm, ball-like sphere. The creature promptly proceeded to hammer the unlucky victim.

At this moment all brakes were off. One of the elves cast light on the creature's bulbous yellow growth, which they assumed to be eyes, while brave warriors Rhovar and Adkin jumped forth to rain fury.

Alas, Adkin was too eager, and sprained his ankle on the slipper cavern floor. Marco Vitelli would have had him flogged for such incompetence. Ariad, one of the retainers, was of cool nerves, and struck down the creature.

With the threat eliminated, our brave company was eager to investigate curious pods in front of them. Stepping forth they quickly discovered these were in fact two connected chambers, each some forty by forty feet and ceiling so high their torchlight barely illuminated it. A familiar stream was running through them, flowing southwards.

Around twenty human-sized pod-like shapes were hanging by thick stems from the ceiling. Each was suspended few feet off the ground. All but one were open; each reeked of rotten leaves and fish. The elves were as perplexed as humans.

Inspecting one didn't reveal much.

It was at this moment that the party opted for brilliant strategy of “we can investigate more of this cave if we split-up.” Sinai took Phelim “The Scorpion” and Norna “The Repulsive”, his trusty retainers, and went on to explore upstream.

Rest of the party focused on one unopened pod. It was hanging in the south-west corner of the lower chamber. Just behind it was a small nook. Adkin, having massaged his twisted ankle, carefully cut the pod's stem.

KLANK!

It fell to the ground with a loud thud, and bounced of like a plump watermelon. Unsure of what might lurk in it, the group surrounded it with malicious intent.

“Guys, what if one of the abducted peasants is in it?”

“Cut it gently then, I suppose?”

Taegen took to the knee, and approached this as a finely coordinate operation. He gently penetrated the pod with the tip of his blade, and then cut horizontally from top to bottom. Steaming pile of rotten sludge was his reward.

Simultaneously, Rad heard a clicking sound when the stem was cut. The source? A small compartment popped open in the alcove behind the pod. He snuck up to it, and then ransacked it. Two vials, one with metallic orange liquid and another with creamy, watery liquid.

The former had a pleasant appley aroma, while the latter had tarty, nearly citrusy smell. He carefully stowed them in his backpack.

The party fielded some interesting theories, but ultimately agreed that this sole creature wasn't the main culprit. Hence they decided to follow the path downstream, hoping it will connect to the narrow cave passageway they came from. And indeed they did. From there they went back to the chamber where they cut down nine deformed trees, and waited for Sinai's return.

The Cleric of Bukera, God of Desert Mountains, quickly found that the upstream path leads to the junction with wooden divider. It is fed by a waterfall, and it splits the stream into three paths: west, south, and east. He travelled the west when he came down for the first time; now he came to that place from the eastern passageway; therefore only southern remains to be explored. And so he went, and his acolytes followed.

Another chamber opened up after some time. The ceiling was ragged with the spiky points of innumerable stalactites. Part of the stream flowed into the middle of the room, forming a small pond. The far edge of it glowed with an eerie bluish light. Animals usually stay far away from bright colours—but Sinai is no animal.

Coming closer revealed that the edge of the pool was smeared with some sort of gooey substance.

“Norna, bend over and collect it!”

“No way! Do it yourself!”

“Okay then.”

The cleric bent over and pushed his left pinky into the goo. He was ecstatic to find out that his pinky now emanates glittery light blue hue. Next he soaked his whip, so it to glows. It made for a nice complement to his yellowish glowing boots, courtesy of small mushrooms he treaded on earlier.

Then he proceeded to pour out holy water from his vial, only to fill it with the phosphorescent liquid. With nothing else left to do, he took his team further downstream. That reunited them with the rest of the party.

Downstream they went, reaching another T-junction. Two streams joined into one at this point, flowing rapidly southwards at a fairly steep slope. This tunnel was more treacherous than all the ones they've travelled so far. Stalagmites and stalactites blocked the passage, leaving enough room for barely one person to navigate them at a time. There was no dry footing; all was slippery and wet.

Rhovar took nearly an hour securing the route. He staked an iron spike every ten feet, and then laid the rope, securing it at each point. This allowed even the least dexterous members to descend safely. They still had to watch their footing, but the chance of fatal fall was nearly nonexistent.

Another T-junction greeted them at the bottom. This time it split westwards an southeastwards. A desperate scream coming from the west interrupted the adventurers' planning meeting.

“NOOO! Let me go! NOOO! I beg you!”

Sinai the Hero led the charge, others soon followed—even the unnamed reluctant ones.

“NOOOOOO!” they ran fast enough to witness a macabre sight. Group of six fungi-men was firmly holding another human upside down. They held him above a large wooden apparatus. It was very similar to the one the party has encountered earlier, in which they found minced fish.

The man was yelling, desperately trying to set himself free, but the creatures' grip was unyielding. His grotesque ending was witnessed by all. The creatures pushed him into the device head first. Loud crunching sounds were intermingled with gut-wrenching yelps and pleas. The latter were outlasted by the former.

“Please save me!” loud female voice screamed.

“Don't leave me behind! Not like this! Not like this!”

Adventurers' torchlight was too weak to illuminate the whole chamber; their attention was laser focused on the atrocity that just transpired in front of them. Once they snapped out of it, they immediately found the scream's source. Just at the edge pf their light they could see two small cages.

Distraught woman was kneeling in one, pleading them to save her.

“My father is a rich merchant! He will reward you well! Please!”

“Oh, well, that changes everything!” Rad the Hero said.

Once again the party tightened their ranks, putting heavily armoured Sinai and Phelim upfront, while mighty warriors with long reaching weapons backed them from behind. Elves and Rad prepared their bows.

Fungal humanoids rushed them, but were forced to fight two by two. The party had successfully funnelled them to their advantage. Adkin's polearm worked overtime—he cut down four of the creatures. Rad was in his element, raining hell on all. No creature was left unscathed. Phelim, unlike his master, downed one as well.

A great tragedy struck mid-way through the fight. When the creatures closed in for melee, and Ehrman ran out of arrows, Eccy commanded him to charge in. The intent was to get the fighter to use spear from second rank, bolstering frontline's capability to dish out pain.

Not even the Gods know—except mayhap Mar Nod—what made Ehrman slip. But everyone had seen the result.

The warrior obeyed the elf, threw his shortbow to the side, and took out his spear. He pushed through his brethren, leading with the tip of his spear, ready to drive it through one of this ungodly fungal men. Alas, he lost his footing in the stream. Going down he tried to use the spear to balance himself, but ended up driving it through Phelim's heart instead. From behind.

“What... What have I done?!” he staggered backwards in disbelief.

“No... No! Impossible...” others pushed him backwards, as they finished the remaining monsters.

“No... No...” Ehrman was shaken to his core. Ariad, Rhovar, and Adkin tried to calm him with no success.

“Oh, thank Mithra you are here! I'm Merinthia. Please set me free before more of them come!” the screaming woman seemed to have regained her composure.

The chamber was some fifty by seventy feet. Surprisingly, most of it was dry. The stream terminated around the wooden contraption of doom. In fact, it seemed to power it somehow. There were four cages in total. One housed Merinthia, one a grumbling dwarf, and one a fighter named Ulster.

The cages were made of an elastic, yet firm, fungy substance. The party found it impossible to break, bend or cut. They was a small boxy affair, forcing the prisoners to sit on the ground in an uncomfortable position.

Ulster calmly explained how they found themselves here. Merinthia indeed is a daughter of a wealthy merchant, and she hired him, alongside several others, to protect her trading caravan. They were ambushed in the forest close to Bathdawn, and were taken down here. Since then, they were slowly taken away, one by one. Most were minced right in front of their eyes.

Merinthia shared similar detail, including the information that Thuskar, her most trusted and capable guard, was not imprisoned in the same cave. She is hoping that he has set himself free, and is looking for them.

The dwarf was entirely uncommunicative. He turned his back to whomever tried to address him, and merely scoffed and grumbled.

At one point a discerning adventurer noticed the cages are tied to the ground with some sort of discoloured vines. Unlike the cage, they were easy to cut. Strong-man Taegen quickly released the damsel; and she in turn threw herself in his wide elven arms.

“Oh, please take me to safety!”

Guiding her, Taegen retreated upstream, almost all the way to the T-junction.

“Here, have some food and a blade. That should help you free yourself.” Adkin three a short sword and some rations into the Grumpy's cage.

“Company!” Eccy shouted as his colleagues. He made a shocking discover following the northern exit—a chamber filled with pods and fungi-men. Eight of them to be precise.

Sinai, Rhovar, and Adkin rushed to his aid. They immediately swarmed the narrow tunnel. In doing so, they secured a tactically superior position, forcing the creatures to fight one by one while having to suffer three or more blows in return.

“Norna, get the blade from the cage with the mute dwarf and set Ulster free!” This time she did not object. Rad rushed to the fighter's cage as well.

Adkin cut down another fungal humanoid. Alas, its replacement quickly rushed in, and managed to capture Eccy Throi in its iron grip.

“AAAAAAGHHHHH!!!”

Norna unleashed an ear-piercing shriek.

Rad turned to her in confusion. Horror replaced confusion, as he realised that Norna was screaming because her right arm was ripped out from her shoulder blade. She staggered, cupping her gaping wound spurting blood, calling out for Sinai to heal her.

“What the fuck?!”

The dwarf in the cage was loudly gnawing on the arm, slurping and giggling. Once he finished with it, he grabbed the sword, and tried to cut himself loose, imitating what the adventurer's did earlier. He seemed quite clumsy.

“Ariad, get over there and beat that sword out of his hand!”

Norna's loud gaps and pleas were mostly ignored, sans Rad's quiet “I'm sorry...”

“Set me free and I'll grab her mace. Set me free and I'll bash these monsters.” Ulster said to Rad.

“And if you don't want to set me free, then I beg you to kill me right here, right now. Drive your sword straight through my heart. Anything, just not that machine!”

Ehrman, despite still being shell-shocked, managed to follow Taegen. The elf was now calming both the fighter and the damsel.

Ariad stood by the dwarf's cage, attempting to strike his hand whenever he tried to cut himself loose. So far the dwarf has cut the vines on one side of the cage.

Rad was almost done with setting Ulster free. Just one more tiny cut.

Eccy Throi was firmly in the creature's grasp. Behind it nine more stood. Sinai was brutally whipping them; entangling them. Rhovar and Adkin were stabbing at Eccy's captor.

Will they manage to fight their way out of it?

Or will they be fed to the machine?

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.
Rhovar Fighter level 2 A generic Nordic guy.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 2 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.

Later...

Character Class Description
Eccy Throi Elf 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.

Eccy Throi's report linked at the end of the post.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Continued from session 24.

Sinai gripped the whip in his hand as three crooked, deformed trees slumbered towards him. Phelim “The Scorpion” stood next to his master, ready for whatever was about to happen.

It's been nearly four hours since they've entered this forsaken place. So far everything seemed natural; water made its way through the winding caverns and tunnels. And yet, what now stood in front of them was obviously unnatural.

Rhovar pulled Sinai back, taking his spot at the frontline. The party decided to fall back and tighten their ranks in the narrow tunnel. There, their four toughest warriors would slow down the trees, while the others would engage with missile weapons from back ranks.

It was a glorious ninety-second skirmish.

The trees slumbered after the party, with only one managing to catch up with them. The party filled it with arrows, to which it responded by battering Rhovar. Adkin was quick to abandon his bow for a polearm. He soon discovered a natural gift for felling trees. Rad's bow was working overtime—the only time arrows wouldn't be flying is when he was chucking oil flasks.

Indeed, the young thief has proven to be quite a lumberjack (and pyromaniac!) himself. Not even a minor slip prevented his barrage. Unfortunately, Ehrman wasn't as efficient. Although he tried his best, he knocked himself unconscious early on in the battle. To add insult to injury, once he came back to his senses, he somehow managed to get tangled with Norna “The Repulsive,” causing them both to loose precious time.

Like mindless drones, the mad trees kept coming after the party. And like mindless drones, the party felled them one by one. Last ones went down in blazing flames, courtesy of Rad “The Mad.”

By the time they finished, the dead blackened trees were pilled so high they started blocking the water stream. Worried they might get washed away, the party spent some time rolling them along one of the tunnels, allowing the stream to flow freely once again.

“Who are you and what have you done with these trees!”

A duo of buff elves surprised the party with their inquiry.

“These were no normal trees. They were hateful and assaulted us! We are here on a mission to help the good people of Bathdawn. Hail Hydra!”

The duo scanned heavily armed party and introduced themselves as Eccy Throi and Taegen Ianlynn. They claimed to be here on behalf of their master Rinendirlan Ælasyn, investigating something of great importance.

After some minor pleasantries, both parties decided to join forces in bringing an end to whatever evil lurks here. Indeed, once the elves have landed their hands on dead trees they knew something was amiss. All of them felt off. All nine of them emanated aroma of suffering. Something here was very wrong.

The chamber they found them in was some thirty by thirty feet. Glowing moss that hangs from the ceiling in long, frilled strands illuminated it with a blue glow. The stream flown in from the northwest and turned west, to the tunnel they came from. Three artificially made canals sprawled eastwards. Three earthenware pots were in each; they used to house the hateful trees. Now they lain crushed to pieces.

A dry corridor extended further east. This was perhaps the first dry piece of soil they've seen since descending into this cavern. Alas, it didn't extended that far. In fact, it led the party to another stream, albeit wider and louder. This one has flown from north to southeast, terminating in a loud, crashing waterfall.

This time the party decided to go upstream. Rad noticed a narrow passageway to his right. It was just wide enough to fit one person. Eager for some action—maybe due to the leftover adrenaline from the previous encounter—he asked fellow adventurers to tie a rope around his waist. That was all the security he needed to go explore the mysterious tunnels on his own.

Half an hour and one dead-end later, the Master Thief had found another exit. It required a bit of crawling, but what is that for our Rad? Nothing.

Another dry tunnel. And a surprise! Looking at whence he cometh from, Rad had seen a huge stone face carved into the stone wall. The narrow tunnel he came out from was actually the face's open mouth. The face itself looked barely humanoid; almost like a mockery of human features.

Unwilling to risk it further, he went back and informed the party of his findings. The party decided to further investigate the corridor Rad had found. Since the tunnels were so narrow, it took some time for all of them to crawl through. Luckily for them they were unmolested.

The tunnel they found themselves in extended north and east. It was eerily quiet; especially after listening to overwhelming sounds of rushing water for most of the day. Rhovar and Adkin went to investigate the eastern path.

There they found a chamber covered in blue-green moss and lichen. Some patches were more colourful than others. The warriors quickly found this was no regular cave. As they got closer to the moss, they felt a slight pull towards the center of the chamber. The iron piton they threw in there hit the ground... And then started to slowly rotate towards northeast.

That was enough to send the fighters packing.

Following the passageway northwards was no less surprising. This time the whole party advanced, only to encounter a chamber blanketed with minuscule, bulb-headed yellow mushrooms. The wood elves did not recognise them, but both thought they probably aren't poisonous.

But that was not all!

Rhovar noticed a fist sized rock levitating at eye-level slowly approaching him. It looked as if the rock was gliding through the air. Its features became more apparent as it came closer: it was a carven stone head, similar in style to the large stone face they crawled out from.

Rhovar and Adkin, our favourite fighting duo, took out a sack and charged the head. Their boots got covered with vibrant yellow paste as they crushed the mushrooms. The floating head offered no resistance. Unsure what to do with it, the party hammered the sack to the cavern wall using several iron spikes.

Stepping deeper into cave revealed a passageway sloping up. By now the whole party had bright yellow boots. Following the upwards path led them to another chamber. Yes, there was something surprising in this one as well.

As they approached the mouth of the chamber, their torchlight illuminated three human-shaped figures hanging from the ceiling. The elves recognised the shapes as pea-pods, but man-sized. The room reeked of rotten fish and vegetation.

A human shaped figure stepped from around the corner. It was covered in knobby fungi. Two large yellow bulbs stuck out from its hazelnut-shaped head. It outstretched its weird looking arms and shambled silently towards the party.

Player Session Reports

Crom_Damn_it

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Brawley Dwarf level 1 Stocky, baldy, scimitar-wielding sea knave.
Mano Stern Cleric level 1 A dwarfish follower of Mesha, the Bringer of the Seasons. Blessed with almost supernatural ability to detect wickedness; cursed with a limp and clumsiness.
Norwell Thief level 1 A finely dressed slim fellow of few words. Carries the scar of betrayal.

Mano Stern's report linked at the end of the post.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Gods weave the strands of destiny as they please; and what is pleasure to them rarely makes sense to the mortals of Wilderlands.

A dwarf pirate left for dead on an island whom managed to survive on a diet of coconuts and rats.

A man of faith whose body fails him, seeking what he does not yet understand.

A thief hiding the wounds of double-crossing underneath noble's clothes.

Which deity brought the unlikely trio will never be know, but the trail left by them perhaps will become a story of legends.

It was a hot day without a trace of shade. They saw the massive eagle-like temple towering over the city way before they even reached the Gates of Antil. The guards greeted them with enthusiasm, despite some members sporting a rather dishevelled look. They recognised the symbols of Mesha—a snow-covered twig with vibrant sprouting leaves—and were in good mood due to bountiful yield they've had this year.

“Lads, I'm taking you to the finest establishment in Antil, and getting you drunk!” Brawley rumbled.

“That is a kind offer, but I am short on coin.” Mano replied in a humble manner. Norwell was happy his status was honoured—of course he should be taken only to the best of the best.

“Worry not! It's on me!” the dwarf insisted.

Of course, having set foot in Antil for the first time in his life, he had to ask the locals for instructions. And so they headed off to the Seven Vultures inn at the docks.

Three streets were bustling with life, from street urchins running in giggling gangs to sun-tanned paddlers selling their goods to muscle clerics of the Windgod engaging into wrestling matches.

This richness of life was so captivating that Norwell failed to notice a child-like figure until it bumped into him—and ran away with his coin purse and set of thieves tool he kept in a sack!

Mano Stern, shocked by such villainy in broad daylight, immediately pursued. Norwell followed. Brawley, dressed in plate, panted heavily far behind them, but followed none the less.

They ran after the child through narrow alley ways, leaving the chatter of life behind them. The houses here were so tight that barely three men could walk side by side. Pumped with adrenaline, the trio barely noticed the lack of life and unusual quietness about the place.

“There he went!”

Mano pointed at at ramshackle stone building sandwiched between two larger buildings. The wooden door were slammed shut, and there were no windows. It seemed to be a one story house. Once the dwarf caught up and rested, the party was ready to go in.

The doors revealed a staircase going down what seemed to be a cellar of the building. The sun barely penetrated into the building, revealing a wide sofa opposite the entrance. Lighting a torch they descended.

It was a musty room, quite wide. There was a door to the right of sofa, and a wooden chest and glass cabinet to the left of it. No child was in sight.

Mano stood in the centre of the room, providing valuable light. Norwell carefully inspected the doors, finding nothing, but picking up a heavy smell of rum emanating from behind. “Surely a trap!” paranoid Brawley muttered.

Glass cabinet intrigued the dwarf. Visual inspection revealed that it is suspiciously flush against the back wall. Applying some force to it led to yet another discovery—the cabinet rotates around single vertical axis, and opens up into another corridor.

Mano's torch barely illuminated it, revealing three doors alongside it: two on their left and one the right. Dwarf picked up on the shoddy construction of the whole place, and the fact that corridor actually slopes downward.

Arranging themselves in a single file rank, the party cautiously checked door by door. First to their left was stuck; second was locked; first to their right opened up.

It's been nearly three hours since they reached this point. Brawley was at the edge of his wits; Norwell was convinced that this is some sort of thieves den and they should get out as soon as possible; Mano was the only calm one.

Seeing nothing but three beds and two small round tables was enough to send the dwarf into the rage. He rushed in, yelling and cursing, stabbing each bed with unadulterated violence. A weak whimper was heard from the second bed.

“Show yerself, ye scum!”

Flipping the bed revealed a freshly perished child-sized figure lying on its belly, coin purse and thieves tools right next to it. Kicking it over made others exhale a sigh of relief—it was a nasty goblin, not one of the street urchins. But the dwarf wasn't finished yet. He cut off its head and kicked it around the room.

“What do ye think about dis, cleric!”

“The seasons come and go, such is the cycle of life.”

Mano Stern was not to be disturbed easily.

The room had little else to offer. But the locked doors still beckoned them. Although they've proven themselves to be too much of a challenge to Norwell's lockpicking skills, combined strength of Mano and Brawley was enough to knock them open.

Another two small beds, a wooden chest, and a small roundtable with weird looking lamp sitting on top of it. The dwarf focused on chest, while the thief and cleric inspected the lamp.

The chest held a curious assortment of skulls, bones, and flagstones. Brawley moved them around with his scimitar, finding an iron stick on the bottom. He braved picking it up. It was indeed a rusty iron stick.

The lamp looked rather exquisite in its make. Although it seemed no precious metals were used to craft it, the shape was complex. It resembled a spiral, almost as if someone took a piece of wood and twisted it like a liquid in some unnatural shape, and then froze it. It felt both natural and alien at the same time. Mano put it in his backpack.

Having had enough of this rotted cellar, the party decided to head out.

It was still day, and the alley was still devoid of life. Well, mostly devoid of life. An ebony skinned figure dressed in plate mail was leaning against the building, whistling an unfamiliar tune. Its bald head was protected by a neat white turban.

“Oh, have you found anything of value inside?”

The trio was perplexed.

“You, yes, you!” the figure insisted, pointing figure to the party.

“Have you found... The magic sword?!”

“Oh come on, you surely found something? A little coin for me to keep my mouth shut?”

Last request hadn't landed to well with the dwarf, causing him to brandish his bloody sword at the extorting person. The man retreated back and whistled loudly. Three drunk men tried to run forward, but were constantly tripping and stopping to catch their breath. Brawley recognised his own ilk.

Few well thrown rocks and witty insults were all that was needed to send the pack fleeing and reeling.

“Where can we sell this lamp?”

It didn't take much asking around to learn about the Walled Bazaar, where all kind of wares trade hands. They reached it within an hour or so.

“Wait, I wanna rub it first... Cover me...”

Brawley gently held the lamp while Mano and Norwell stood guard. The retreated to one of the side alleys leading the famed marketplace. The dwarf felt warmth and could sense the craftsmanship required to make such a lamp. He rubbed it gently. No djinni came out of it. But something else happened. He noticed a faint flicker of light. Whenever he rubbed it for a minute or so, the lamp seemed to flicker for a second.

“Boys, this requires further investigation!”

The party proceeded to rent a room at King's Arms tavern. Without chronicling all the details of their bedroom shenanigans, it is sufficient to say they figured out how to rub the lamp the right way for it to emanate a bright white light.

One of the gods laughed.

Player Session Reports

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The treasure was where they left it—a pile so wide six men could easily roll in it. Everybody but Amanda, Silente, and Theo dove straight into the pile, stuffing their sacks with as much coin as they can. A pile of mangled deer corpses next to it were no concern of theirs.

“Ahem—Boys!” Amanda coughed loudly, pointing down the dark corridor they haven't ventured through yet.

A massive human-like head, adorned by long, greasy, lanky hair—imagine armpit hair half-a-meter long—with horse-like jaw hovered high in the air. Its diabolical cackle revealed a sickening array of ghastly, yellow, rotting teeth. True horror was revealed only after it'd made few more steps forward.

Lantern light now fully illuminating the figure, revealing its elephant-like body covered in warts and blisters. To further the nightmare, ten more heads like the first one—with varying degrees of balding—were connected with thick worm-like veiny tubes to the body.

Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 13

Hydra Abomination, Amanda, Kallahan, Sashundo, Gabriel
Moments before the chaos.
From left to right: Amanda, Brother Kallahan, Sashundo, and Gabriel Faria.

This Tuesday my players—Anthony, Mitch, Moss, and Sam—surprised me with a mind-blowing gift. They commissioned the prolific Stefan Poag to illustrate the above scene.

I love how he managed to convey the look of greed on Brother Kallahan, Sashundo, and Gabriel. I mean, just look at Gabriel's smirk! And Amanda in the background, trying to warn them, is just perfect. And of course, the abomination itself is just wonderfully disgusting!

By all accounts, it was an intense scene. The players knew something horrible and dangerous lurks in the caves, but the massive piles of coin were just too alluring. There was is in fact more coin than they could carry—even if each one of them stuffed two large sacks each. But not all of them were gold.

Hence Sashundo, the party dwarf, basically filtered gold coin through his hands, while the others shovelled them in. The players were rolling every turn to determine how much gold coin they managed to take, racing against time.

Thanks to Amanda they were not surprised. The death toll was still quite staggering: Sister Silente and Brother Theo, Krom Molder and Bowie, and Sashundo. Four retainers and one player character. The last perished in an amusing way (as it often happens with that player). He tried to run past the monster, but the floor was littered with corpses. So he decided to jump over them. Alas, he landed straight into the monster's mouth(s).

I was wordless for quite some time when the players presented their gift. Couldn't do anything but laugh from happiness and gratitude.

Thank you guys!

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Dingbatt Barett Thief level 3 Ginger, skinny, and scrawny copy of Johnny Depp; speaks like a moron.
Kenobi Thief level 3 Short, elderly man dressed in blue leather armour with a matching scarf.

Warmshade 7th, Waterday

It's been nearly two months since Dingbatt joined the Hydra Company. And it's been as much time since he went out on an expedition. Everyone seems to get to do cool stuff but him.

“Go shovel some bale.” “How about you rearrange some boxes?” “Hey, all these men need to be trained. Show them some of your tricks.”

Oh the injustice! But Dingbatt had an idea; nay, a plan! He will show them all how valuable he is. Two weeks ago he ran into an older man. Kenobi was his name, thievery his trade. Remembering how Winslow used to test new recruits, he challenged him to a climb-off. The man gladly accepted.

And so they went to the warehouse Hydra Company calls their headquarters. There, they faced each other, climbing on the beams and old cranes, swinging around like monkeys. Dingbatt was first to fall down, proving that Kenobi is indeed a better simian.

Following their bonding experience, the two accomplices decided to thoroughly survey Antil for any interesting marks. Now, they reconvened to discuss their findings:

  • The Windgod Temple, a 200 feet tall, monumental statue of an eagle spreading its wings, towers over all of Antil. Heck, it is visible for miles. The High Priest and a hundred of mightiest acolytes are housed there. It swallows and regurgitates endless stream of pilgrims day by day; many of them leaving donations. Brother Kallahan believes most of the treasure is deposited in the underground vaults, and not on the higher levels.
  • Seniskell manor, a large walled estate with a sea view. Resting at the edge of Pilgrim's Quarters from the time before the quarter was even established, and owned by a supposedly quite old and rich family. Locals consider them mad, and rumours run amok for they rarely, if ever, leave their estate.
  • The Black Spire, a 50 feet tall tower with no discernible windows or gates. Although a source of many mysteries, residential buildings now surround it. Locals mostly ignore it, and children play at its base.
  • The Temple of Jamboor, although in slums outside of the Walled City, the rumour has it that it is only a front for more sinister matters. They pick up street urchins, beggars, panhandlers, and other lowlife, and “get them to see the light.” They've been refused to establish their temple in the Pilgrim's Quarters.

“Old, rich dudes make for the best target!”

“But how do we get closer without looking suspicious?”

“I know! We have an old rowboat. We'll pretend to be a father and son fishing, and we'll use the opportunity to survey the manor.”

“Who will be father? Who will be son?”

A day of pretend-fishing did not go entirely as planned. Two rowboats with six armed men each, intercepted them around noon, demanding they “stop ruining Lord Seniskell's view of the sea.” The men wore colours of the City Guard, and threatened immediate violence. “Father” and “son” were quick to row back, muttering profanities under their breath.

“We shall strike on the night of following day!”

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Two master thieves came up with another bulletproof plan for surveying the manor—offering street urchins a dagger in return for intelligence. “Why give you coin, when I can give you a dagger, and then you can earn your own instead?” Dingbatt attempted to close the sale with a heavy wink.

Alas, the children were more interested in their own coin purses, and were quickly all over them. “Why don't you earn something first and then come back to us?” one yelled. “Ha, look at these losers!” another one chimed in. The duo responded in kind, slapping and belting whichever kid they could lay their hands on.

With the justice served, Dingbatt and Kenobi were now ready to rest until nightfall.

Howla and Vanis, the Sister Moons, were high up on the sky in their full might, providing illumination to the writhing life underneath them.

The thieves approached the walled estate from the east side; a dark alley rarely travelled. The young helped the old climb over the ten feet wall. Gardens were eerily quiet. Numerous windows were covered with what seemed to be black curtains.

The manor, although of olden design, was quite sturdy. It was a one story affair with a simple slopped roof. The duo quickly scaled the building wall, finding themselves on the top. There they lay in total silence and spent some time observing and listening. Nothing was to be heard from anywhere.

Finally, Dingbatt determined it was time to act. Kenobi tied a rope around his waist, and then he descended down to inspect one window. Like the rest of the building, it was of sturdy make. There were no bars or securing mechanisms of any kind—or to be more correct, the thief hadn't found them. A simple latch was on the inside, a trifle for Dingbatt.

Carefully moving the curtain to the side revealed little. It was pitch black and the moonlight wasn't at the right angle to penetrate the darkness. The room had a feint smell of feces. He pulled on the rope gently, and climbed back up to share his findings with Kenobi.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so, down through the curtain they went.

It took them nearly an hour to scan the room they found themselves in. Spanning nearly hundred feet, and nearly as wide, this was obviously some sort of a master suite.

A massive, four-poster canopy king-sized bed was set against the northern wall, flanked by two teak nightstands. A grand piano dominated the north-east corner; two harps, a harpsichord, and a cello were neatly arranged in the center of the room; two seven feet high, four feet wide wardrobes, and four dressers rested against western wall. An oak table with four chairs stood close to the musical instruments. There was a matching end table with a silver tea service. Double doors on the southern side were flanked by suits of plate mail holding halberds.

Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, with rat and mice droppings here and there.

The duo rummaged through stuff, finding mostly moth-eaten clothing and more droppings. Few items of value were found: a gold earring, a pearl necklace, and two gold cufflinks.

But the most interesting findings lay underneath an ornamental wooden box in one of the wardrobes. Kenobi recognised something was amiss with the floor panel. A secret entrance? He ran his fingers on the ground, finding a notch running on one edge. Sensing great riches underneath him, he stuck his fingers in, and pulled.

Dingbatt was listening at doors when we got startled by a loud “thud!” sound coming from his right. To his surprise, Kenobi lay there, face first, bum out, in the wardrobe. Unwilling to touch him, he pulled on one of the halberds. The statue offered no resistance, and went down to the ground, causing tremendous noise.

Unwilling to waste no time, he ran up to Kenobi, only to discover him quite stiff. There were no prick-wounds on his fingertips, although his hands were all hues of purple all the way to his elbows. Sure that all kind of guards will pour through the doors, he dragged stiff Kenobi and rolled him under the massive bed. Scarf was all that protected his face against feces underneath.

Next, he went for the doors, and tied the handles together. And then he hid in one of the wardrobes.

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

Three loud knocks could be heard.

It is difficult to say for how long have they been hiding, but long enough for Kenobi to regain control of his limbs. Nobody tried to open the doors. No further knocks were heard. Both listened attentively, but the manor was as silent as when they first entered the estate.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt proceeded to make a trap-like contraption connected to the doors. If someone tried to pull them open, they'd have to break the bed. At the same time, Kenobi tied grappling hook to a rope, threw it over a hanger in the wardrobe, and then gently jammed the tip into the notch. Then he pulled on the rope from safe distance.

The panel gave easily, opening up into a staircase below.

And so, down they went.

Sneaking on, they found themselves in a stone chamber, some forty by twenty feet. Two wooden coffins laid on raised stone platforms. Between them stood a simple stone column with a pedestal on top. On it, a crystal ball rested. South-west wall seemed to be ajar, as if someone forgot to close a secret doors or something of a kind.

One of the thieves threw a sack over the orb, while the other secured their escape route by wedging some iron spikes into the trapdoor they came through. Dingbatt's attempts to lasso the covered ball were unsuccessful. Taking a deep breath, both entered the room.

The younger of the two approached the column, and carefully tied a rope around the base of the orb. The older approached the suspicious looking wall. He took a peek inside. It was pitch black; unnaturally dark. But he could see Her, the most gorgeous woman ever. And she called him; and her gaze was irresistible just like her passions.

When Dingbatt turned to his right, Kenobi was nowhere to be seen.

“Kenobi?”

No answer came back.

“Damn... Oh, damn!” Dingbatt cursed “Damn, damn, damn!!!”

“I should run... But I cannot leave him behind!”

Steeling his resolve, he covered his eyes and burst into the room, yelling and swinging. Peeking between his index and middle finger revealed little of the room, except a gorgeous woman with pale skin, and Kenobi slowly walking towards her.

He could see him take few steps, and then stop, as if he is hesitating. But then he'd take few more steps.

“Leave him be!” Dingbatt shouted as he threw his lantern. Alas, darkness, adrenaline, and covering his eyes, did not help at all. The lantern flew somewhere... And was caught by someone.

The true nature of his predicament rapidly uncovered itself. There was a pentagon-shaped depression in the center of the room filled entirely with thick, red liquid. Over it hung a naked human body suspended with a series of wires, still dripping into the pool below.

The grisly sight dominated his attention so much he barely heard the maniacal laughter that filled the room, nor did he register sinister laugh as the secret doors behind him closed.

“Are you lost, friend?” a warm male voice inquired. There stood a pale gentleman in fine clothing. It was obvious this was a true gentleman; someone who will care for Dingbatt much more than those “officers” of Hydra Company. This man right here was worth following, nay!, worth dying for.

“Friend, I have some work I need help with. A little bit of clean up and organisation. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Anything for you, Master!” Dingbatt squeaked with delight.

“Come, come into my embrace!” the woman beckoned Kenobi. And he did, and they hugged and kissed. And Dingbatt watched Kenobi shrivel and grow even older right in front of his eyes.

“Would you like to meet my husband?” she asked gingerly “Oh, isn't it too early for that? I mean, I just met you?” Kenobi retorted confusingly “Don't be shy on me now. Come, let' go...”

Wondering how he found himself in an upcoming threesome, Kenobi took a step into darkness. Alas, he tripped over something, and fell face first into what felt like a pool of gooey substance.

“Oh, you dirty pig! How dare you!” he heard the dames enraged voice. He felt someone lifting him effortlessly, and then swinging him around like a ragdoll. Next thing he felt was cold, hard stone, breaking his spine. The last thing he heard as life abandoned him was a male voice “Oh, come on Esmeralda, why'd you have to kill him! We could've drained...”

“Follow me friend. We will be here soon.” the surviving thief was more than eager to make his new patron happy. He will prove himself!

“Here we are! You see that pile of bodies over there? I need you to separate hands and arms into one pile; ankles, feet, and legs into the other; torsos one the third; and finally, anything remaining on the fourth. I want them really neat. Can you do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Oh yes! Do you want me to do it on all four with my teeth? Because I can do it like that if you want me to!”

The man looked at him with a surprised face. “Quite devoted, are you? Go ahead!”

This is what he came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt dove straight into a mass of mutilated, gnawed corpses, and started sorting them out. He could hear cheers of approval from behind—unlike anything he ever heard from his supposed “comrades” in the Hydra Company.

He had found his true home at last.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Francis Goreaxe Dwarf level 2 A son of a jeweler aspiring to become a great chef. Wears apron over his copper plate mail, and cast iron pot instead of a helmet.
Morfindien Elf level 1 Seeks a cure for his genetic ugliness. Despite his great strength and intellect, his face is only barely acceptable in elven circles so he is treated by them with disdain.

Later:

Character Class Description
Mac Thief level 1 Young and stuttering rogue looking for his lucky break.

Unknown date

Who knows how long they've been stuck in this burning hellhole in the middle of nowhere. Kod'l locals call it. More like Chock'l! Scorn of the society forced the unlikely duo of Francis Goreaxe and Morfindien to collaborate in their attempt to get out of here. Trading ships go down the river every few days, but since neither had coin to pay for their travel nor enough charm to convince the ferrymen otherwise, they've been forced to loiter around.

Their luck turned for the better when a fine looking man approached them with a most generous offer:

“You look like the hardened type that'd be up for some delicate work... Couple of hours from here is an abandoned temple that holds deep within a large golden egg. In fact, it is as big as an adult dwarf!”

“Retrieve it for me, and I will take care your journey is a most pleasant one. The temple has two entrances. The front is on top of the ziggurat. Three large stones hide the back entrance. Beware the birdmen. Oh, and make sure you do not open the egg. I will know. You might find the following useful...”

The mysterious patron handed them over hundred feet of rope, two oil flasks, a small mirror, and a healing potion. Too poor to get themselves anything else, and too ugly to find additional help, the duo set out for the desert temple.

Following their patron's instructions, a ziggurat with two tiers came into their sight after some four hours of walking. It looked faded brown, bleached by the unforgiving sun. Although stone bricks were chipped by time, the ziggurat stood strong.

Opting to go for the secret back entrance, the duo spent and hour looking for the described three stones. The man wasn't lying—an opening into the temple was just behind them. Francis rushed towards the passageway, and then slammed himself to the side. The elf followed. Peeking around the corner revealed a piece of ground that looked much cleaner than the rest, almost as if it had been swept.

Morfindien prevented the dwarf from further rash action, for he wanted to inspect this curiosity further. What if it was a trap? He took out hundred feet of rope and threw the bundle on the cleared area. As the sand started setting, his elven eyes noticed a find stand spanning the whole width of the hallway.

Next, he tied an unlit torch to one end of the rope. His plan was simple: throw it over the strand, and then pull it back in order to activate the trap from safe distance.

IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU!

Oh, and activate it he did! Loud, repetitive shrill could've been heard echoing from the inside. A quick glance between the two was all the communication needed—they were sprinting out. Both rushed behind one stone and did their best to push it toward the opening. Alas, they weren't strong enough. So they did the next best thing—run around to the front of the temple and hide underneath the ramp.

It took them half an hour to collect enough courage to move on. This time they opted for the main entrance. A sharp smooth decline is all that greeted them. Progressing carefully, the quickly reached a large chamber with three doors.

Each had a small bronze plaque on them. From left to right, they read: Dexterity, Strength, Mind. They beefy elf knocked down the middle door; vicious bites from a feral dog being his only reward. Heavily armoured dwarf pulled him out of the danger. They took care of Rex with speed. While Morfindien explored the chamber, the dwarf decided to practice his butchering skills.

Moving on, the duo came into a T-shaped junction. Three doors were down the corridor to the right; a door and corridor into darkness to their left; and a sprawling chamber straight ahead. To the left they went.

Another turn, another dark corridor. Their torchlight illuminated a skeleton propped against the eastern wall. The duo quickly frisked it, finding nothing but bones. In doing so, they raised enough dust and sand to notice yet another tripwire. Francis took of the skeleton's head, and placed it by the wire, to serve as the reminder when they come back.

It took the duo nearly ten minutes to move on because the wire was at hip-height for the dwarf. He had to take his backpack—pots, and all—off, crawl under, then get his stuff from elf, then put it back on... Proceeding, they arrived to yet another turn, and then yet another T-junction.

A familiar looking chamber was to their right, and a rather large door to their left. Opting to go right, the duo found themselves in a large chamber with four stone statues in the middle. They all looked like primitive take on human figure, with blocky heads and limbs. Their torsos were facing in different directions, but their heads all faced toward the center of the room. There a stone slab stood, slightly elevated compared to the rest of the sandy floor.

“You know what? I gonna do it.” and with those words Morfindien stepped on the stone dais. Rumbling sounds immediately filled the rooms the statues' bodies turned towards the center. One of them rotated a bit too fast and feel down to the ground. The remaining three promptly started pummeling the confused elf in the middle. A stone punch to his gut brought him down to his knees; two stone hammer fists to his face turned him into a bloody mush.

“Oh no! My face will be even uglier now!” were his last thoughts.

For a second Francis looked in horror. Not longer, because he fled out of there as fast as he could. Unwilling to abandon the golden egg, he rushed toward the large doors. It took him three tries to get in. Nothing followed.

“A-a-are you here to save me?” a weak voice addressed him. Mac, a young thief, was caught by a group of armed birdmen whilst sneaking around. They roughened him up and threw him into this arid, dark chamber.

“Get up boy!”

This was by far the biggest chamber they've found so far. A large nest, full of bones and small carcasses, was in the north-west corner. Three dwarves could've easily snuggled there. Opposite of the entrance was a passageway with tall arch. Fresh air was emanating from there.

A quick investigation revealed a circular room with a hole in the centre. Looking down, it seemed as if there was water below. Indeed, that was confirmed once Francis lowered Mac down. It was some thirty foot descent, which terminated with a square chamber barely illuminated by the torch. The water was dark and chilly, but otherwise nothing else stood out. Except a dark corridor to the east.

“Pull me up!” the dwarf couldn't resists pranking the thief by lowering him instead “Hey, don't be an ass!”

BAM!

Somebody—or something—burst open the doors to the south. The very doors they came through moments ago. Mac quickly hid in the shadows and prepared his bow. Francis tensed his grip on his trusty butcher's cleaver in right and lit torch in his left. And then he charged forward.

He met four human figures with crow heads. Two of them had spears, and two from behind seemed to drag some humanoid figure between them. In the ensuing confusion Mac took down two of them, the dwarf butchered one and in return got stabbed twice, and one ran away. The figure turned out to be puréed remains of Morfindien.

Helping themselves to the elf's possessions, Francis gulped down the healing potion, while Mac put aside a long sword and a “spell book.” And then they went back to the chamber with the hole in the ground.

They came up with a brilliant plan: use grappling hook and iron spike to create solid anchoring points, tie hundred feet of rope together, and then throw it down. Francis took off everything but his underwear with sausage motifs. Down they went.

The water was even colder than it seemed, but both managed to swim to the east corridor without too much hassle. This time it was a sharp ascend, nearly 45 degrees. They found themselves in a rectangular chamber. To their left was a three feet wide opening on the wall, and to their right were two large wooden chests and a massive golden egg on a pedestal.

“Watch this, boy.”

Francis took off his underwear and used it to cover the opening on the left wall. Then they both proceeded to rummage through the chests. Thousands and thousands of gold coin. Both silently wept at the realisation they have no way of taking all of it out. Mac stuffed his large sack as much as he could, but that wasn't even a tenth of the coins there. Francis went for the egg.

The moment he touched it, the water started gushing violently out of the opening behind them. His underwear was nowhere to be seen.

“Time to get out!”

Mac was out first, lugging a sack of coin with him; Francis barely escaped in time, hugging the golden egg with one arm, and pulling himself up with the other.

“Come on, we have no time to waste! Let's leg it!”

The dwarf remained naked, sans the butcher's cleaver, iron pot on his head, and the golden egg. The thief quickly threw the backpack on his back, and together they took a run for it.

Alas, they did not get far.

A large, deformed human head emerged from the darkness. It hovered nearly ten feet above ground, and was tilted sideways; contorted in some sort of maniacal expression.

“Kh-kh-KHRO!” the spittle flew out from its crooked lips. The monstrosity soon revealed its horrible secret—the horrendous head was joined to a body of a giant crow. It threw out a fat tongue, like an innocent dog, and licked its lips suggestively whilst twitching incessantly.

And then it took a few steps towards the naked dwarf and the trembling thief.

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#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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