Loose Ends – Chapter Twenty Three

6th Day of the Claw of Winter: (February):

Moving North With Alita:

Left alone by her new found companions, Alita, a translucent skinned creature of distant Barbarian stock, steers the newly requisitioned wooden boat slowly and cautiously through dark unguent, still waters, towards the shore of the Troglodyte stronghold. Mindful no doubt of the ferocious amphibian creature that nearly tore her arm from her body a few terrifying days previously.

NPC - Alita
NPC – Alita

Some half mile distant the unmistakable sound of clashing weapons, guttural roars, primordial shrieks and a puzzling pulse of light and accompanying cataclysmic boom have been carried to her sensitive ears.

Alita: “It must be time!”

She muses silently with an involuntary shudder as she is stricken by a case of the hee-bee-gee-bees!

The unspeakable horrors committed upon her tribe-mates by the repugnant reptilian carnivores, had left a cold and empty space in her soul. But now the warm fuzzy glow of vengeance is beginning to heat that void. 

Alita: “Maybe that’s how you can mend a broken heart?”

Thinks Alita

The swift brutality with which, Sigune, the mighty Amazonian Paladin and her maverick comrades had disposed of the former inhabitants of the boat had inspired her with new found belief. The primordial laws of the Underdark did not seem to apply to these intrepid marauders. Truly they must have been sent by her deity to wreak vengeance upon the unspeakable Troglodytes.

Perhaps Sigune is indeed a goddess or perhaps a Holy Bodyguard? She’s certainly more than a woman.

Within the fortified keep, Sigune and Thora are at odds over the fate of the three Troglodytes that lie prostrate in a desperate display of subjugation. Sigune wishes for them to be set free, so that her Paladinic vows are complied with.

Thora: “I cannae agree. Hae ye not ken wut thae hae dun! Thae’s werse than rats…vermn. But if ye’lll not slay em, then mek em swims like oor Alita ded!’

Sigune nods, no doubt unable to conjure a counter argument.

PC - Sigune Feldscmlachter - Alita

Sigune: “Ok, you vin again! Ja, it iz a gut compromise. Ok you drei, standen oop if you want a chance of staying alive!”

Sigune drives the anxious prisoners forward.

Sigune: “Ve haf ways of making you valk so less of that jive sprechen!”

As they emerge through the broken gates it dawns on them that all the Troglodytes bodies have disappeared and that the Fire Lizard has had large chunks bitten out of it.

Thora: “This cannae be good!”

Says Thora:

Thora: “Wie need tae get a hoory on. Summint massiv choos et!”

With a heavy booted foot planted in their posteriors the Troglodyte prisoners are sent packing into the still waters to meet their fates.

Weapon - Ballista - Alita
Weapon – Ballista

Thora decides to drag the abandoned Ballista and remaining Bolts into the tower. As they beat a hasty retreat, a timpani like earth tremor begins to shake the ground; dislodging several rocks from high above them.

The shaking becomes louder and stronger, but this is no seismic activity

Thora urges Sigune to run off and find the portcullis mechanism so that whatever creature is coming their way cannot so easily pursue them. This is no time for a tragedy to befall them.

Sigune: “Zer is a monster outside!”

The Paladin Sigune screams, as she races back to find Mirafir, Galan and Frimly.

In an instant Mirafir casts a ‘Knock’ spell so that the, Northern most, double doors that lead to a corridor with four doorways may be opened. For it must be here that the mechanism is sited.

Mirafir: “‘There’s at leatht two offithers and five guards back there, tho be pwepared.”

The locked and barred door is broken asunder and Sigune kicks it open to reveal the short corridor that Mirafir had described. At the far end is a portcullis.

As they stand in the doorway debating their next move a naturally camouflaged Troglodyte emerges from the shadows behind Galan. Its stone weapon connects with the Ranger, whereupon another appears.

Frimly: “Whoop’s!”

Thinks Frimly:

Frimly: “Forgot all about those two asleep in the dorm. Oh well, it is the 1st mistake I’ve made! Hopefully I won’t have to give him the kiss of life. It’s just a matter of stayin’ alive!’

Monster - Troglodytes - Alita
Monster – Troglodytes

Mirafir stands his ground and aids Galan with a ‘Magic Missile’ attack and remembering that they exude a toxin that reduces a person’s Strength.

Meanwhile, Sigune’s sense of urgency finally kicks in and she enters the corridor with Frimly.

Unfortunately for Galan the Troglodyte toxin hits him with and the result of which is a huge loss of Strength. The Ranger is forced to drop nearly all of his possessions, so weakened is he.

Sigune opens one of the doors and reveals an empty room that appears to be the Shaman’s.

Frimly listens at the first door on the western side but hears nothing. The door is unlocked and the Thief stealthily enters another empty room set with perhaps half a dozen or so cots 

Despite his weakened state, Galan finishes the second Troglodyte with ease. 

Back at the main gate Thora peers through a crack under the door, as she and Alita hear the rending and crunching of teeth upon flesh, bone and dense skin. The huge Fire Lizard is being consumed by an impossibly large Purple Worm so vast that it blots out the view beyond.

Monster - Purple Worm - Alita
Monster – Purple Worm

Thora: “Bie thae Cudgel!”

The stench is beyond terrible.

Frimly and Sigune finally stumble into the last room in the corridor and find the portcullis pulley lever. The slow grinding of chain against stone is their noisy reward. Allowing Thora and Alita to return to the party, fairly safe in the knowledge that none can easily follow them.

Galan checks for tracks by the portcullis.

Galan: “The last of those Troglodytes have fled through yon portcullis, six or so of them.”

Despite his near immortality, the Elf is visibly unhappy in the Underdark and exhibits the symptoms of something akin to a night fever. 

Rather than set off in hot pursuit it is agreed to hold up in the relative safety of this fortified area. All doors are closed and locked as best as is possible.
The Ballista is set up in middle of Octagonal room.

In the sergeants quarters piles of coins are counted by the Thief to assess the wealth of discarded adventurers gold. (400GPs 800sp). But he finds no Gems, Jewellery or Electrum, and assumes these are given as a tithe of protection. Which would be to possibly the Drow or the Derro and Duergar Dwarves?

Magic Items - Spell Components - Alita
Magic Items – Spell Components

Mirafir retires to the Troglodyte Shaman’s room to recuperate his Spell Points. A cursory search reveals a decent stash of Spell Components. Very useful indeed as it appears the local spell component Shoppe is currently closed. There is also a Spell book which he can read using ‘Comprehend Languages’ Spell.

Alita busies herself collecting various pouches, sacks and other useful items. Then turns her hand to cooking up what she can, interestingly it is all plant based.

Sigune and Thora spend their time collecting steel weapons in case any bartering is required on the next stage of their journey, now that the islands in the stream are behind them, so to speak.

Rested and healed some half day later. The Portcullis barring their way is lifted; a long dark corridor stretches on before them. Sigune gives an utterance of praise for the ‘Infravision’ spell that has been cast upon her.

Doubly so as she hears a faint click under foot! Cat-like she leaps backwards in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding a large metal cage that drops down just in front of her and blocking the way forward.

Frimly searches for a release mechanism, which he finds after a short search.

In an ante-chamber at the end of the corridor, adjacent to the final Portcullis is the winching mechanism.

Thora: “Ahm nae winch!”

Grumbles Thora

They step through and into a naturally pillared chamber that the Wizard had briefly explored in ‘Wraithform’. It is of vaguely rectangular form of perhaps 60 x 70’ feet. Before them are peculiarly shaped, unrecognisable plants growths and myriad limestone pillars. It is Utterly Dark.

Galan checks for tracks and those he finds lead off in various directions:

2 lead North, 2 lead off to the North West passage and last 2 disappear off to the South East.

But why have the Troglodytes split up? Is it an Ambush or are they rallying reinforcements?

Frimly and Galan scout ahead following the North West passageway. They pass various crossroads and off-shoot passageways but the tracks continue Northwards. The rest of the party follow several hundred feet behind, looking for tell-tale chalk marks left by the leading scouts.

Location - Underdark Tunnels
Location – Underdark Tunnels

As they continue onwards the corridors become narrower and more constricted. They have now been walking for over three hours.

Thora believes they are heading downwards.

As Frimly and Galan cautiously approach a corkscrew corner, they are assailed by a blast of hot, dry, volcanic heat.

The rippling orange glows of all hues greet them as they turn the corner. Revealed is awe inspiring gallery filled with small pools of boiling magma and others of the dark Underdark waters, amid a landscape of spurting geysers and glowing sinkholes.

Galan: “Truly this is must be the gateway to hell!”

Gasps Galan.

He can still make out the disturbances made by the Troglodyte party continuing on to the North.

As the cavern stretches ever onwards, the stench of Sulphur and brimstone makes breathing and talking a struggle. Then off to the North West they spot 2 openings leading off in the North West corner of the Vaulted Gallery.

As Galan searches for further signs of the passing of the Troglodytes at the openings he finds no clues.

And so they went back to try and pick-up the missing trail. By one of the many large shafts, Galan finds the signs of disturbance and while looking felt a tightening around one of his ankles and was then dragged down the slopping shaft by an unseen source.

Galan attempts to slow his decent by grabbing onto an out crop of rock, or some such, but he fail as the strength of the force dragging his was too great along with the floor of the shaft being wet and worn smooth (By water, condensation or creatures of the Underdark)?

Monster - Cave Fisher
Monster – Cave Fisher

Frimly quickly draws a chalk arrow and rushes down the steeply sloping, narrow vent, in cautious pursuit!

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