Loose Ends – Chapter Five

29th Day of the Deepwinter: (January):

In the Aquifer of Runedardath Part

As Mirafir Roven the renowned Elven Wizard, pursues the huge and ungainly Ogre looking creature and what we later learned was called a Merrow; he can make out that the creature was carrying the squirming body of the captured Dwarf, bouncing back and forth across misshapen shoulders, like the testicles of some dreadful and ungodly bullock.

Ogre Merrow are greenish, scaled with webbed hands and feet. Their necks are long and thick, their shoulders are sloping, and they have huge mouths and undershot jaws. Ogre Merrow have black teeth and nails and deep green eyes with white centres, and their hair resembles slimy seaweed. These Ogre Merrows also have ivory horns, common in the more powerful males.

Monster - Merrow
Monster – Merrow

Mirafir’s ‘Wraithform’ spell allowed Mirafir to escape the paralysing clutches of the water Ghouls, more commonly known as Lacedons; now invisible to all but other undead creatures.  Ahead of him the tunnel slopes noticeably upwards and, if his guess is correct, would seem to head Eastwards and thus towards the main entrance of Runedardath.

Scrabbling or digging sounds emanate from the darkness ahead.

Close by to the shimmering ‘Wall of Force’ that withholds the vast cavern full of that bilious, noxious Dragon blackened poison, Frimly despatches the fourth and final Ghoul. A swift and savage blow from the diminutive soldier of fortune allows Galan Tara to make haste up the narrowing tunnel ahead, ignoring a chamber to his left, as did the Wizard, as he does. 

But the Thief, sensing danger at every turn, takes a quick look-see into the side chamber within lie several makeshift cots strewn with water weed, nearby are two small pools of freshwater, but no enemies are to be seen. As Frimly passes his hand across the chamber entranceway it seems that the walls have been scoured by some strange hand or claw.

Further up ahead, Mirafir reaches a crossroads with unlit passageways heading off to the north, to the south and dead ahead.  Having somehow lost sight of the Merrow carrying the poor Dwarf, he stops and checks for tracks, but cannot differentiate the myriad scrapings on the passageway floor.

Mirafir: “The wretched beast must have gone forward!”

Mirafir conjectures. His senses both heightened and yet dimmed as he peers through the hazy veil of his deathly form 

Intending to catch up with his comrades, Frimly stalks along, masked from obvious view by his ‘Cloak of Elvenkind’ making sure he was out of the range of the ‘Continual Light’ spell cast upon Galan’s Dagger. Mere feet away, 2 Lacedon Ghouls cautiously appear from each of the side passages, North and South of the Eastward running passage, and skulk off in pursuit of Galan and Mirafir. 

As he passes the passageways, Frimly hears the unmistakeable guttural croaks of yet more of these Lacedon Ghouls, but these seem to holding their positions.

Monster - Lacedon
Monster – Lacedon

Lacedon Ghouls are vaguely recognisable as once having been human, but have become horribly disfigured by their change to Ghouls. The tongue becomes long and tough for licking marrow from cracked bones, the teeth become sharp and elongated, and the nails grow strong and sharp like claws. Unlike normal Ghouls, Lacedon Ghouls have webbed feet and hands and their skin is a sickly green

Galan Tara has no trouble heeding the traipsing squelch of the 4 Lacedons Ghouls, but in hope of catching up with the Dwarf swinging Ogre Merrow, he ignores the danger and ploughs on, soon catching up with the ethereal Wizard.

The passageway before them becomes strewn with debris at what appears to be the end of the tunnel. But there is no Ogre Merrow to be seen!

As the Ranger stops to ponder his options, there’s a sudden rending of collapsing earth and rock as a concealed opening or burrow becomes unearthed on the North side of the passage. A huge creature shambles forth, partially cloaked amidst the ensuing, choking dust cloud.

Monster - Vodyanoi
Monster – Vodyanoi

Vodyanoi is a creature, standing nearly 8’ feet tall and over 5’ feet wide, has muscles bulging and their powerful arms and legs all carry great claws which are webbed. They have no necks to speak of, but the head features a powerful maw with rows of triangular teeth and 8-inch mandibles capable of biting through any hide or bone.  Their skin is green and slimy to the touch, but beneath it is a thick, knobby hide. Their claws

The 4 Lacedon Ghouls seem to hold back.

Galan wastes no time and lunges in to attack the rock chewing monster and doesn’t look like he needs any help.  After all he was born hundreds of years ago, not yesterday. 

Mirafir reverts back to human form and possibly wants to hold his hand.  While Galan twists around and shouts his battle cry as he delivers savage blows with both Long Sword and Short Swords. The creature’s powerful claws both miss the Ranger but its mandible catches Galan in his unexposed shoulder and caused great damage.

Mirafir, caught between the Lacedon Ghouls and the great hulk of a creature attacking Galan attempts to help protect the Ranger with a ‘Protection from Evil’ spell, but is not within range. 

Mirafir: “Oh bloody…oh bloody hell…I need to get closer to Galan!”

Frimly watching the unfolding drama realises he must do something because everyone needs a little help from their friends. He delves into his leather utility jerkin and finds the magical ‘Deck of Illusions’ and deftly plucks one of the illusory cards at random, it’s a loose King of Diamonds! 

Magic Item - Deck of Illusions
Magic Item – Deck of Illusions

From nowhere a Sorcerer robed in white and gesticulating as only Wizards or the feeble minded do, appears; beside him the unmistakeable presence of a young Apprentice.

Galan smashes the fearsome earth muncher with three mighty hews of his enchanted Swords and it crashes to scoured rocky floor, from its crushed carapace unctuous yellow pus oozes forth.

The Illusory Sorcerer sends forth a shower of ‘Magic Missiles’, killing one Lacedon Ghoul outright while the apprentice grievously wounds another with their ‘Magic Missiles’.

Frimly uses this remarkable distraction to climb over the Lacedon Ghouls melee and drops down behind the fray, using the power of his ‘Slipper of Spider Climbing’.

Magic Item - Boots, Slippers of Spider Climbing
Magic Item – Boots, Slippers of Spider Climbing

The Lacedon Ghouls attack but fail to connect with either Galan or the Illusions of the 2 Wizards.

The Wizard fire back and manages to kill two more Lacedon Ghouls, while the rather less effective corporal Wizard holds his action.

Galan destroys the last remaining Lacedon Ghouls while Frimly drops back to make sure other Lacedon Ghouls are actually dead; still amazed that the Illusions have actually killed their foes outright. The power of Illusions is truly deadly if the victim believes it to be real.

It appears that the excavations have been carried out by the subterranean creature and other with differing marks on the tunnel walls. The question remains, by who other than this, what we also later found out was a Vodyanoi, the aquatic version of the Umber Hulk creature?

With no sign of the Ogre Merrow or a concealed entrance at the end of this excavated tunnel, the three Heroes retrace their steps, leaving the Illusionary figures behind them acting as a distraction.

At the crossroads Galan bends down to look for sign of the Ogre Merrow and it’s tracks and immediately gestures to the Southerly chamber. But almost as he does so an unnerving and deadly sounding whirring catches his ears, 2 giant Trident are hurtling at him through the darkness. The first clatters noisily against rock, but the second pierces his magical Leather Armour, forcing a bellow of pain from the Rangers pursed lips.

At the mouth of the Northern chamber Frimly hears the pitter-patter of unshod Lacedon Ghouls feet and urges Mirafir to bind them in a Magical ‘Web’. The Wizard obliges, temporarily halting the rotting throng from mischief.

Galan meanwhile steps forward to block the chamber entrance so that only 1 of the water Ogre Merrows can attack at a time. His deft elven swordplay wreaks havoc within the confined space and he sorely wounds the first foe, but in return takes another staggering blow for the Ogre Merrow he is in combat with.

With a thrust of his Short Sword the first beast drops allowing the second to rush in, which receives a chastening blow for its troubles. Mirafir gains a vantage point and is certain it is the same creature that held the Dwarf.

Mirafir: ‘That’s the beast that took the Dwarf.”

Mirafir then fires a volley of ‘Magical Missiles’ into his foe while Galan delivers yet more surgical damage. The staggered monster bellows an unintelligible guttural utterance, a warning or a command perhaps?

Frimly enters webbed chamber and begins to kill the 4 Lacedon Ghouls held within the adhesive strand, while the Thief is seemingly free to move without hindrance. 2 of the Lacedon Ghouls are undone by his ‘Short Sword of Quickness’ while the other two, he can now see had avoided being caught in the Wizards ‘Web’. Behind these last 2 Lacedon Ghouls the Thief can see a chamber containing a large, 30’ foot, pool of clean water.

Galan cautiously moves in to the cavern and spies movement from a corner of cavern. With his Elven sight he makes out the figure of a Male Dwarf in the darkness. He appears to be sitting on floor with both hands around his neck, blood oozing from between his fingers.

Galan: “I see the Dwarf and something has tried to kill him by slitting his throat, what malevolent evil!

Galan says that as he approached the Dwarf. Galan immediately goes for one of his ‘Potions of Extra-Healing’ intent of saving the Dwarves life if possible.

As the Ranger moves to pour the ‘Potions of Extra-Healing’ into the injured Dwarves mouth, it suddenly changes into it true form, an Old Hag with warts, bony protrusions and patches of slimy green scales dotting her sickly yellow skin. Her eyes are red with deep black pupils and long seaweed-like hair hangs limply from her head which covers her withered body.

She then stared at Galan and spoke to the Ranger.

Monster - Sea Hag
Monster – Sea Hag

Sea Hag: “Come friend, you are destined to join us.”

The Ranger had to use all for his will power to withstand the appearance of a sea hag which was so ghastly that anyone viewing one of these hags grows weak from fright or even die from the shock.

Galan hit the bitch Hag and next round rolled a 20 with short sword before she could act any further. 

Frimly hears Mirafir shrill cry and calls out to the other Heroes.

Mirafir: “Sea Hag!”

The Wizard rushes back to the Ogre Merrow cave, leaving 2 un-webbed Lacedon Ghouls still to be dealt with.

He arrives too late to be of use, as Galan stands over the prone shape of a ferociously ugly hag, still leaking what can best be described as green clam juice.

Together they search the excavated chamber and find an assortment of 25gps amongst the filthy Ogre Merrow bedding.

On the Sea Hag are two stoppered vials and a single Coin stamped with the same Dragon-Claw Symbol of the Cult of the Dragon, as explained to the Heroes by the Duke of Daggerford’s Wizard, Gwydion pen Dafwyd.

Frimly: “This old Sea Hag is like the one we fought in the water systems under ‘The Old Kings Hill’.”

Galan: “Was not that not where you found that accursed ‘Undead Dagger’ that may yet be the cause of much sorrow and anguish?”

Mirafir casts ‘Detect Magic’ and carefully scans the chambers used by the Ogre Merrow; calling I instructions to the others as he does so.

Mirafir: “There’s something under that vile beast, these Vials that I have also and the coin which I hold in my hand also glows.’

After much wizardly puffing and panting Mirafir begrudgingly turns to Frimly to help him turn over the Ogre Merrow. Frimly and Mirafir turn the creature over to find a worn leather pouch containing Mirafir’s ‘Ioun Stone’.

The stoppered potions appear to be one of ‘Invisibility’ and the other a ‘Fire Breath’ potion, the like of which they saw being used to devastating effect on the Goblin prince and within the ‘Illusionary Terrain’ in the High Forest region.

Magic Item - Potion of Fire Breath
Magic Item – Potion of Fire Breath
Magic Item - Potion of Invisibility
Magic Item – Potion of Invisibility

The Adventurers retrace their steps back to the way the entered and investigate the furthest corridor and the chamber within. Broken furniture and lice infested bedding conceal a small horde of 30gps.

Galan unstoppers his ‘Potion of Extra-Healing’ and quaffs all of the sweet scented liquid, almost instantaneously restoring himself to full health.

The Heroes of Runedardath move back to the webbed chamber and prepare to take care of the 2 remaining Lacedon Ghouls. But, with the ‘Web’ dispelled they move in to discover that the skulking undead have fled into a freshwater pool that has been excavated by some unnatural means – perhaps by that mandibled monster like creature?

The Adventurers elect to wait in case of an ambush, but after several minutes the Lacedon Ghouls fail to make an appearance. The restless Adventurers gear up to follow.

Magic Item - Helm of Underwater Action
Magic Item – Helm of Underwater Action

Mirafir dons his ‘Helm of Underwater Breathing’ and ‘Gloves of Swimming and Climbing’, which also aids underwater vison.

There is a funnel shape opening at the bottom of the pool, and as they swim down they discover a network of tunnels and smaller caverns that split off in several directions.

After taking several left forks they arrive in a cavern with what appears to be an ovate shaped small Aquifer.

Galan think, so this is the natural purification system that should feed freshwater into the main Aquifers. Perhaps one of these has been blocked?

Further exploration reveals yet more passage-ways, so rather than risk getting lost in this watery maze they return to the pool.

It is now clear that the pool has been excavated to reach the natural network of tunnels, which most likely empty into the River Delimbiyr. This tunnel in turn would provide free access to Lacedon Ghouls, Ogre Merrows, Sea Hag and perhaps even Black Dragons to Runedardath?

Returning to the permanent ‘Wall of Force’, Mirafir realises that it is a ‘Dimension Door’ spell that allows free entry and exit into the Northern Aquafier.

The dimension door Teleports the Adventurers 30’ into the poisonous waters beyond.

An inspection of the cyclopean jenga of rock and debris is in fact the spoil from the excavated tunnel network!

The party return to the Eastern air-lock and make their way through to be reunited with Sigune and Thora.

The Adventures return and gain an immediate audience with King Korin and his advisers as they are debriefed and plans are made to secure the area and to explore the underground waterways.

Morri, a close friend of Kira Rovan, examines the Black Dragon Scale and determines that it must be of a Black Dragon, while Sigune remembers their conversation with Gwydion pen Dafwyd and that the Wizard had said:

Sigune: “The scales of a Dragon lose their lustre as the beast grows older, being shiny when a young Wyrm.”

Morri: “Then this scale is of a young adult, given the lustrous sheen of it.”

Sadly he has no knowledge of the possible uses for Black Dragon Claws as this form of dark magic is beyond the knowledge of those present.

King Korin also looks at the coin – but won’t touch it.

King Korin: “From what you have discerned with the use of your ‘Detect Magic’ spell Mirafir, I believe that it is not a powerful item, but has been imbued with the magic of many realms.”

Morri: “Look Mirafir, It radiates the realms of conjuration, summoning, evocation and also invocation, but to what purpose I know not.”

Galan, Mirafir and Frimly are then bathed and given luxurious quarters for the night, before planning on setting out at daylight, the following day, to pay their respects to Baron Agwain Delantar in the village of Secomber. The Long and winding road awaits our Heroes. The boot is back where it belongs…..for now

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