Age of Worms - Deree's Diary

Three Faces of Evil

Death in the dark

Sunday 16th – Waterday 19th Planting 595

Spent most of these days trying to sell various items that we’d found. Managed to con Shrub-beard into buying the spell book we’d found in Filge’s place (after Muffin had taken what he needed from it) and a passing ranger bought the baby owlbear. All in all we managed to get eight hundred gp each.

With this we decided (as a group) to buy a wand that can heal when it touches you which Grim is keeping hold of. That depleted our funds somewhat but I still had enough left to get myself and Grim a keg of dwarven ale each and a light mace (‘cause I’m sick and tired of bloody evil skeletons that can’t get hurt by my shortsword or daggers). I was also eyeing up a really nice kukri as well when Tyrol showed me an amazingly cool dagger. It was very finely crafted; its blade was slightly curved and it had a ruby in its handle. Tyrol told me that when it was made the blade was infused with the blood of a nalfeshnee demon. Muffin said that it wasn’t magical but it looked soooooooo cool that I had to have it. Cost me a bomb but I think it’s worth it.

As I was marvelling over this, Sneeze decided he wanted to go one better and buy another magical protective device. I thought he’d already got one. Anyway, sadly he didn’t have enough money so he begged us to lend him some. I generously gave him twenty gold and, obviously following my lead and still trying to impress me, Salty gave him the rest. Sneeze then, giggling like a schoolgirl, went and placed his order.

Grim and Muffin went to see Vanelle (the female half-elf who owns the bowyer/fletchery) and came out with very impressive looking bows.

One thing of concern to me is that no-one’s seen Tira and it’s been ten days since she left for Stirgenest Cairn.

Earthday 20th Planting 595

Was just about to open up the Feral Dog when Muffin came running in saying that Shrub-beard wanted to see us. Woke Grim up and headed on over.

When we got there Shrub-beard told us that he’d managed to get hold of the Chronicles of Chan and had found out some stuff about what we’d found at Filge’s. It turns out that the spawn of Kyuss is a parasite that is found in some undead. It also has the ability to cause undead creatures to form. He believes that these creatures are connected to an ancient temple that is rumoured to be underneath Dourstone mine. Shrub-beard reckons that Ragnolin Dourstone has found the mine and has started to populate the temple with varying kinds of undead.

Grim and Curly perked up at this point saying that we should head into the mine and put this temple to bed once and for all. At this Shrub-beard recommended that we speak to Balabar Smenk (Ragnolin’s main rival) to see if he could help us in any way. We were dubious about doing this as we’re pretty sure that Balabar is the one who sent for Filge (he’s the only person we can think of, aside from myself, who might sign a letter “S”). However if he did send for Filge then Smenk definitely isn’t a fan of the temple. The enemy of my enemy and all that.

Despite our reservations we headed over to the Emporium, one of Smenks favourite hangouts. I have to admit that I was quietly excited about this trip as I’ve never been into the Emporium before. On the door was a huge half-ogre (who I know to be called Kurlag) who said that it’d cost us two silvers each to go upstairs. Grim tossed him the money and we headed up the ornate stairs (well as ornate as anything is in this town). These led to a room that had an array of gaming tables. We spotted Smenk straight away at a card table with a few other men. On first sight he looked to me a like a taller, balder version of Grim. In other words he was fat and ugly. His most noticeable feature were the mutton chops he had growing down his cheeks.

We politely waited until he finished the game (which he somehow won) before making our move. We headed over to him and he immediately recognised me. He said that he’d heard of us and of our excursion into the Whispering Cairn. I introduced us formally as Deree’s Daring Dynamos (a name that the others, for some reason, didn’t seem too enamoured with) and then introduced everyone individually. We told him we needed to speak to him and he said that he would if we got him a bottle of wine. Grudgingly I bought a bottle of the cheap stuff and we joined Pork-chop and his two bodyguards in a private booth.

Grim then decided that the best way to tackle this would be head on. He told Porky that we knew about a temple beneath Dourstone mine and that we believed that he not only knew a way we could get in without notifying Ragnolin but also that he knew something about what was going on down there..

Porky went sullen at this. He said that he only knew what was going on because Ragnolin had forced him to help (he’d woken up one morning to find his second in command’s head on his pillow) by supplying food and mining equipment to Dourstone. He said that Ragnolin and the cult terrified him. When we asked about the cult he said that it was known as the Cult of Ebon Triad (the black three Sneeze reckoned). Porky said that this was a cult whose focus was to bring three lesser evil gods (Hextor, Vecna and Erythnul) together to form one powerful uber evil god. He said that members of the cult were considered heretics by true worshipers of the gods (I managed to hold my tongue in asking which one of the three he worshiped mainly ‘cause Curly might have felt obliged to kill him there and then). We enquired about the layout but all he could tell us was that there was a shaft in the mine that led down to the temple. He said that to get in all we’d have to do is bribe some of the guards (he suggested that the day guards might be easier to bribe than the hand-picked dwarven guards that operated at night). He believed that the guards and workers were not cultists and so would probably not know what was going on below.

We told him that we were planning on going in and destroying the temple (and so his biggest rival) so would he be willing to aid us financially. He gave us sixty gold to help with the bribes.

That done we left the Emporium. Personally I felt like I needed a bath having spent so much time with that man.

Muffin went to tell Shrub-beard that we were going into Dourstone mine that day. His master then said that he’d acquired us a building that we could have as our home. I thought that was nice of him until I found out that it was the abandoned mine office that we first met him in. To say it’s a fixa-uppa is an understatement. It’ll probably cost more to fix up than we could ever hope to earn adventuring.

Anyway, despite that disappointment, we picked ourselves up and headed towards the mine. We decided to scout it out first from a nearby hill. I hoped to spot a regular from the Feral Dog but no such look. It was decided that Grim, Muffin and Curly would go up to a group of guards on patrol whilst the rest of us hid nearby.

I’m not sure what was said but next thing I know Sneeze is standing up and heading over. I guess he got lucky ‘cause Grim had apparently only just finished brokering a deal with the guards. The pair took us in the front gate and, after a brief sojourn to the watch-tower, led us into the mine. According to Grim it was pretty standard until we came to a tunnel that had been blocked off. The guards said that no-one was to go down there by direct order of Ragnolin Dourstone. A few more gp in their pockets changed that rule.

We took down the boards and entered the forbidden tunnel (after getting some of the miners to re-board the entrance after us). This led us to a room that had a large hole in the middle of it suspended above which was an elevator that was operated by a pulley system on the inside of the carriage.

Gingerly we all got into the elevator, wincing with every creak that it uttered. Grim, Sneeze and Curly all rolled up their sleeves and started to turn the lowering mechanism. All in all the shaft descended around two hundred feet according to Grim before landing at a strange room at the bottom that had three small corridors leading off it. Above two of the corridors were symbols; one was the symbol of Hextor, the other of Vecna.

Before we had a chance to take a look around we heard a voice from behind:

“You’re not meant to be here!” We jumped out of the lift to come face to face with two humanoids that could easily be mistaken for humans if it weren’t for the horns sticking out the top of their heads.

We rushed to engage them but they’d obviously recognised me as they both started to flee. One ran down the corridor that had the symbol of Hextor carved above it and the other backed up some stairs that spiralled the room around a large pool of dark liquid.

As we gave chase I was stalled by a shocking sight. Muffin cast a spell. Nothing new there you might say. However this one was actually useful. He cast the one where a magic ball shoots from his hands and hits a target but this time two balls appeared. And even more amazingly than that, they actually seemed to hurt one of the mini-demons.

By the time I’d recovered from that both the demons had been slain but not before the one that had ran down the corridor had managed to bang on it. The Hextor door opened and in the room beyond stood eight rusted suits of full plate armour with red eyes glowing from beneath their visors.

Muffin then showed some more of his newfound casting abilities by producing a ball of electricity on one of them. Every few moments he’d move the sphere onto a new (what we found out were) skeleton, zapping them until they died… or is that re-died?

Anyway with Muffin’s ball of zappiness working from one end and the rest of us battering away from the other, it wasn’t long before all of the undead were fully dead.

As the last suit of armour crashed to the ground we heard what sounded like a pig squealing coming from the room beyond where the skeletons had come from. Cautiously we made our way through and located the source. It was coming from a room on the left of a corridor beyond the room beyond the room where the skeletons came from (yup, I’ve read it over and that’s exactly where it was coming from).

We set up and Curly moved forward to open the door beyond which stood a huge (and I mean bacon and pork chops for the rest of your natural life) wild boar. It took one look at us and charged trying to impale Curly and Grim on its tusks. Curly did not take a liking to this and with one devastating blow he destroyed the beats as surely as a fine rain would destroy his perm.

Along this corridor there were two other doors which we decided to check out. We couldn’t hear anything through the one on the right of the corridor but I could hear the sounds of people breathing coming from the double doors at the end.

Forming up one more time Grim and Curly barged open the door and with a war cry that would shake the bravest of men, we stormed the room. Inside we were faced by twelve men carrying longspears, not so bad for people of our calibre I know, but the problem starts when I tell you that the room was ringed by a platform some twenty or so feet off the ground. On this platform stood five of the horny humans all carrying bows, two of the bugbear zombies we’d met in Filge’s, a heavily armed and armoured half-orc and a similarly dressed female human all of whom seemed to be protecting one human male who was also armed to the teeth. Each of these beings was wearing a symbol of Hextor and in the centre of the room stood a statue of the man himself complete with six arms each of which was carrying a different weapon.

With a cry more akin to a man who’s just heard that his wife’s mother is coming to live with them, we exited the room. Grim and Curly tried to close the doors behind us but they wouldn’t budge.

It was at this time that a large ape suddenly appeared in the statue room. Without delay it headed towards our group. We backed off to the end of the corridor at which point I threw a dagger at the creature. Unfortunately it bounced off its extremely thick hide. We managed to get our composure back and form a defensive line which quickly turned to an offensive line. In a matter of moments the fiendish ape was dead but that wasn’t the last of our worries. As the beast fell, the twelve spearmen charged only to fall prey to our superior skill and ability (I say “our” as I don’t want to take all the credit myself, even though I deserve most of it. Maybe Salty and Sneeze a little as well, but that’s about it, although we were slightly motivated by Grim cheerleading from the back.).

As the fight ended the double doors leading into the statue room closed although we saw no-one near enough to have pushed them.

Compelled by the fact that up to three clerics of Hextor were busy planning and preparing spells (and the fact that the spells that Grim and Muffin had cast were running out), we hastily searched for another way into the main chamber. The first two doors we tried were dead ends: one looked like a small armoury (most of the weapons and armour missing) and the other simply contained a small statue of Hextor.

The final door we checked (the one opposite the pig room) led onto a corridor that had one door leading off at its far end. Unfortunately this door didn’t budge an inch even with Grim putting his great girth onto it. Deciding that subtlety (well as subtle as Grim gets anyway) wasn’t working, Sneeze and Grim started battering away at the door with their weapons; a great, huge, uber axe for Grim and for Sneeze his small, tiny and rather plain fists. That said Sneeze did go at it like he was trying to wake it from a deep slumber.

The door eventually gave way only for sneeze to get shot at by three of those horned human type things (I’ve now been reliably informed that they’re a demon race called Tieflings). Not disheartened though, Sneeze ran into battle. Now when I say ran I actually mean stumble as blocking our way was a bed and desk that had been shoved against the door. Then Grim entered the fray. I saw him cast a spell but I don’t think it worked. The creatures, however, obviously caught a whiff of his breath ‘cause I’m pretty sure I heard them start to sob.

As the demons shouted the alarm the room suddenly went darker illuminated only by a shadowy light coming from one of the Flingy things. To counter this Grim snapped open one of his sunrods only for another one of the Flings to counter it with darkness.

As slow as a giant slug people made their way into the room, hampered by the debris and darkness. By the time I got there the only place to go was up the stairs that led to the main statue room. Grim followed me and we arrived at the top in time to see the woman reading off a scroll. Suddenly I couldn’t hear anything, not that I needed to as the two large zombies were approaching along the narrow walkway to our position.

As I took this in two shots came from the opposite balcony narrowly missing both myself and Grim. A brief glance over revealed the final two Flings aiming their bows at us. As if this weren’t enough, the man and the woman that had been standing guard over (what we assumed was) the head guy decided to follow behind the zombies, drinking potions as they did.

It was then that Curly arrived on the scene, taking a position between myself and Grim. His timing wasn’t the best however because as soon as he did a large flail appeared right next to him and whacked him one. Grim, seeing the horrific injury this magical weapon had done decided to employ our most expensive group purchase; he took out the healing wand and prodded Curly in the back. The affect wasn’t quite as dramatic as we’d hoped for (I think the actual prod did more damage than it healed).

Still the zombies came on. Fortunately, due to the narrow walkway, only one of the creatures could attack at a time. This didn’t really matter as, although there were three of us attacking, only one of us could hit. You’ve guessed it; it was down to me to bail Grim and Curly out again. I managed to slay one of the zombies virtually single-handed only for its mate to fill the gap.

All the while the two Flings on the other side of the room were distracting us with their bow fire. Deciding to give the other two a chance to redeem themselves, I decided to try and get past the second zombie to go and confront them. The three clerics had obviously read my intentions and so chose this time to flee through a door next to the throne leaving the unsuspecting Flings to whatever fate I decided I would bring.

I tumbled acrobatically through the zombie’s legs (giving it one last sting with my shortsword as I did) before hightailing it along the walkway. Unfortunately my small legs couldn’t carry me fast enough to pursue the clerics before the Flings blocked my path. Their mistake! I dispatched one of them easily enough before Grim came to help. He ambled his massive bulk along the walkway (that strained beneath the unfathomable weight) and tried to barge through the remaining Fling. This Fling had obviously cast some kind of invisible wall on itself because amazingly Grim bounced of it. This show of strength didn’t phase me however as with the next stroke of my sword (oo err) I felled the creature.

Myself and Grim ran to the door beside the throne and glanced through it to see Sneeze and Salty lying in pools of their own blood with the female cleric standing over them. Spotting us she ran up the stairs to engage us. I tried to tumble past her as I had the zombie but she must have seen my moves as she was able to block me off and cut me quite badly. Grim, seeing that our best warrior (me) was close to death, decided that he should use the wand again. He healed me up before we both got to work on the wench of Hextor. With our combined efforts it didn’t take long.

Grim then ran down the stairs but I, hearing the unmistakable sounds of Curly whimpering from yet another injury, ran back along the walkway and down the stairs. When I got there I saw Curly battling it out with the male cleric. We fought hard but our best blows simply bounced of his hefty armour. It was then that Muffin showed us that when he’s not thinking about casting spells, he can be useful. He came from round the corner to behind the cleric as threw some alchemist’s fire on the man. Even his armour plating couldn’t save him from the inferno and he died screaming his pain.

We all slumped over letting the pain from our injuries that we’d been ignoring throughout the long battle wash over us.

Despite the surroundings, I slept very well indeed that night.

Freeday 21st Planting 595

We spent this day healing and searching. We found a few interesting items, not least of which was Theldrick’s diary (which basically spoke how the three factions weren’t getting along and how he’d like to stuff the Faceless One into a sack and chuck him over the side of a boat) and a letter written in some sort of code. This prompted me to ask how Theldrick (the main uber cleric guy) had met his end and apparently he had been slain as he chased after Muffin in the room of shadows.

There were also some magical items including Theldrick’s armour and a ring. Sadly we have no way of knowing what these items do as apparently Muffin can’t cast the spell to identify them without some expensive components. Wizards!

Also I’ve decided to take up running. Not being able to move as fast as the others is really annoying.

Starday 22nd Planting 595

I think Muffin might be reconsidering his decision to be useless, I mean to be a wizard, and become a useful member of our elite fighting force, but more on that later.

Woke up this morning to the annoying sound of Grim calling my name. If that weren’t bad enough he wasn’t even pronouncing it right. And if that weren’t bad enough again, he was doing it on purpose. I don’t know why; the amount of times I’ve saved his (and everyone else’s) life you’d think he’d have a bit more respect for me the fat, smelly, dirty, old git!

Anyway, once breakfast was out of the way we decided, just for a giggle, to go through the door that had the symbol of Vecna above it, into what Thel-dick-head had called the “labyrinth”. Having been through it I wouldn’t so much call it a labyrinth as a bloody annoying series of narrow corridors that twist and turn all over the place containing a vast quantity of secret doors that led mostly nowhere. Ok, on second thoughts, labyrinth it is.

Not long after we’d entered I heard a sound that reminded me of Grim eating. Some kind of snuffling noise. Before I had time to tell anyone I spotted two rather large (what Muffin called) dire weasels. Unfortunately they also spotted me. They came at me, squealing horrifically as they did, but I managed to beat them to the patented Sneeze wake up call (otherwise known as a punch) and threw two daggers at the nearest one before finishing it off with a swift strike from my shortsword.

Meanwhile the other dire weasel had run off round the corner where Sneeze and Muffin had ran. Sneeze, who hasn’t been on his game at all recently, managed to let the stupid smelly creature (dire weasel, not Grim) grab onto his arm with one it’s powerful jaw. More embarrassing than that though was the fact that he was saved by one of Muffin’s spells. Definitely not a story to tell the kids.

Just as I was about to relax my guard, I heard a shuffling from behind. I turned to see some humanoid bird things dressed in studded leather and wearing a cowl approaching. Curly stepped up to the first one and killed it with a single swing of his sword. As I looked past the melee trying to gauge the best time to strike I was sure I spotted one just walk into the wall. This spurred me into action and so I barged past Curly and tumbled my way past his latest opponent, striking him as I did. Salty (bless her tiny cotton socks), obviously still trying to impress me, tried to emulate me. Sadly she lacks my skill and technique and was thwarted by the birdy thing. I suppose I should really give her some lessons, but I’m worried she may take that as a sign of affection. I really don’t want to give her false hope. It’s bad enough Tira fawning over me every chance she gets, but I’m not sure even I could cope with two women. Who am I trying to kid; of course I could! I’m just not sure they can handle me is all.

Speaking of Tira, I wonder if she’s back in town yet???

Anyway, as I tumbled past I saw how the bird things had been walking through the walls; there was a secret door. I thought elves were meant to be able to spot those types of things? Must be yet another drawback from being a wizard.

Whilst all of this was happening I noticed something: the bird things were squealing exactly like the dire weasels had. Weird!

Despite this minor distraction, myself and Grim dispatched the Bird that had had the misfortune to get trapped between us. As I struck the killing blow, Grim ran through the secret door after one of the birdmen whilst I made my way round the outside in time to witness a sight I didn’t think I’d live to see; Muffin carrying a sword! Yes it’s true! He stepped over Sneeze’s fallen body and swung that sword with a fervour I’ve only ever witnessed when Curly takes a comb to his hair first thing in the morning. I’ll tell you what; he wasn’t half bad with it either. Not as good as me but still miles better than he is at spell-casting.

After Muffin had miraculously dispatched of that birdbloke I thought the battle was over only to be somewhat surprised by a spray of colour that washed over me, temporarily blinding me. I’m just glad it didn’t hit any of the others ‘cause to those lesser willed souls the affects would probably have been permanent.

My sight returned just in time for me to sense that something was wrong… very wrong. As I turned to the others an explosion of fire erupted in the middle of us. I skilfully evaded the blast but the others weren’t so fortunate. I Looked back to find Muffin on the floor bleeding to death and Grim charging towards a birdbloke moments before feathers flew due to severe axe chopping.

Grim healed up Muffin and Sneeze whilst it was then decided that, to supplement his “amazing elven eyesight”, Muffin should wear the goggles that we’d found in the Whispering Cairn and look again for secret doors. The plan worked, and then some. We found loads of them. Most of them led to passages through the stonework of the maze to other parts of it but a few led to rooms that had obviously been converted into nests for the birdblokes. We found a fair whack of money and jewels in these nests and yet another pair of magical glasses. The others were too scared to try them out so I put them on. These ones also bettered my eyesight but in a different way to the others. Where as the first ones we found allowed me to see things better close up, these ones made me able to spot things better at a distance.

There were three doors that led somewhere else though. The first one we tried led into a storeroom filled with crates of supplies all bearing the Rooster seal of Porky Smenk (so he was at least telling us half a truth when he said he was forced to give supplies to Dourstone). The other unusual thing about this room was that is was magically lit. A bit posh for a larder, don’t you think? The room was so full of supplies it made it almost imposable to move through so we decided to check the other two doors. Both of these entered the same pillared corridor. I could hear mumblings coming from around the corner so I snuck off to investigate. I popped my head around the corner and discovered a very strange room. At the far end was a small alter between which stood three figures. I say stood, more accurately two of them stood; one of them sort of floated and it was the floating one that was mumbling incoherently.

There were also three doors one of which (the one at the far side of the room) I knew led onto the corridor so I came up with a cunning plan; we’d split up and attack from two fronts. I decided that myself Grim and Curly would move in from the door whilst the others would come in from the archway. The plan went amazingly well… that is until we put it into motion. Sneeze was the first to attack; he charged in and sent a flying kick straight into the face of the floating guy. Sadly “Floating Guy” could also have been known as “Incorporeal Guy” as his foot past straight through him. I ran in to aid my comrade but my weapons were just as ineffectual against the creature. It was at this time that something suddenly struck me about Incorporeal Guy; he was, without doubt, the single most fascinating being I’d ever met. Certainly far more interesting than my entourage! I was just about to engage the misunderstood creature in conversation when another spray of colour washed over me. Fool me once and all that, I managed to shrug off the affects of this one just as I saw Incorporeal Guy swipe at Curly. Now no matter how fascinating someone is, no-one messes round with my lackeys and gets away with it. Grim magicked up my weapons (temporarily sadly. Maybe his god’s too pissed to be able to do it permanently?) and I started to give Incorporeal Guy a taste of Halfling justice.

As I felled the creature, Sneeze and Salty dispatched of the two humans. I knew the battle wasn’t done as we’d not yet found anyone without a face. This in mind I ran to the nearest door and, hearing more mumblings and incantations, stormed through. Behind this (and one more) door I discovered a room dominated by a huge cauldron. In the corner stood a motionless skeleton but inside its structure I could see living organs: a heart, lungs and some big black lump that I’ve been assured was a liver. All of the organs were beating or pulsating as if they were truly alive.

I couldn’t let myself get distracted however as also occupying the room were two more robed humanoids and one mask wearing gentleman. As we entered the two blokes cast a spray of colour that washed over Salty, stunning her to a stop. As they did this, Mask Boy finished his own incantation and suddenly the rest of my party started t move really slowly. I however wasn’t affected and so I steamed in to put the wizards out of their misery. Having seen Muffin in action I knew that three wizards wouldn’t be much of a challenge for me and so it proved. Aided by Grim and Sneeze we obliterated our enemy with expedience.

As I wiped my enemy’s blood from my armour I looked around at my comrades who were busy wiping their own blood from their faces and it suddenly dawned on me; I hadn’t even been so much as scratched. I smugly took this thought with me as we searched the rest of the place. We found a load of magical items and money. I also bravely searched Mask Boy and with trepidation, took off his mask. I understand why he wears it now; he’s uglier than Kullen! Aside from his horrible facial features, Mask Boy also had on him the code for deciphering the notes we found on Theldrick.

The notes spoke of how the three factions were meant to be joining up to raise some kind of big uber overlord god that was a combination of all three. They mention someone called Kyuss who’s meant to be some badass who has control over some undead and some worms. More specific to our situation it mentioned that there was something rising in the pit – what was referred to as “The Ebon Aspect”. Great! That means that something’s probably going to rise up out of that black pit. I can’t wait! Although the notes do prove that they’re not all bad; they did mention they wanted Porky Smenk dead.

Sunday 23rd Planting 595

The day started well! Grim healed everyone up (apart from myself who was, of course, unscathed) before Curly and Muffin headed off to Shrub-beard’s with the potions so he could tell us what they were and also to procure (that means ‘get’ Curly if you’re some how reading this) some pearls so that Muffin could cast a spell to identify the magic items we’d found.

Whilst they did that the rest of us lugged up all the stuff we’d found to the top of the lift shaft. As leader I decided that it would be best if I took on a more supervisory role to ensure that the job was done properly. It was a fun day with even Grim remaining in a jovial mood. At one stage he jokingly threatened to drop me down the lift shaft after I advised him on ways he could more efficiently lift and carry things. Oh I do like his witticisms!

Curly and Muffin eventually got back (conveniently just after the last of the stuff had been shifted to the top of the mine. I pointed out to Grim how selfish this was of them. For some reason he gave me a withering look as he wiped his dirty sweating brow and muttered something about flying Halflings) and once the spells were out of the way it was decided that I was to get a ring that helps deflect blows against me and the magical full plate was to go in to be resized for Grim. The potions we split amongst us.

Moonday 24th Planting 595

With people suitably rested (although unfortunately not bathed) we made our way back to the bottom of the shaft and to the final, blank door. The door was opened by Grim (who I think is pining for his bouncing days at the Feral Dog) to reveal a rough hewn corridor with even rougher stairs that led down into a small cavern filled with stalagmites.

As I was explaining to Muffin the “tights come down” joke, a dwarven voice shouted “Grimlocks!” I was wondering why Grim had suddenly become interested in his hair-style until I spotted the hulking grey eyeless humanoids appearing as if from the cavern walls themselves (which was slightly less shocking than my initial thought). The Grimlocks fell swiftly, although it would have been even quicker had Grim actually got involved at the beginning as opposed to just arriving at the end to steal my kill. We inspected the bodies and found that each of them had a five pointed star made of stone sewn into their chests. Turns out that this was the symbol of Erythnul.

With this threat quashed we headed further down into the depths of the earth and to another cavern. As we entered a growl issued from the darkness closely followed by two bounding beasts that seemed to be a monstrous cross between a wolf and a hyena. Curly obviously didn’t find this any laughing matter as he struck one down with a single mighty blow. As he did this another Grimlock stormed into our torchlight. Still a bit miffed by Grim hogging the killing stroke on my last foe I charged in. Obviously the profession of dog-walking is a dangerous and savage one in their culture as this Grimlock was highly trained. Whilst the others ganged up on the Grimlocks remaining pooch I managed to force its owner towards a ledge that I’d spotted at the edge of our torchlight. Curly must have spotted this as, with a scream akin to that of Salty when she first sipped some of Grim’s homebrew, he charged over and barged into the perilously positioned Grimlock… and promptly bounced off. This slightly distracted me (ok, I pointed and started to laugh) and karma dealt with me swiftly as the dog-walker gave me some of what he’d obviously been dishing out to his mutts. Eventually the others managed to put Spot down and came over to help finish off his master.

Looking around the cavern we found that the only way out (other than the way in) was over the ledge. Grim looked over to see how far down the drop was but forgot this small but vital part of his task as two arrows thudded into his chest. With no idea where (other than down) they came from we decided after a brief debate to throw down a couple of sunrods with Sneeze sneaking a peak over the edge. He managed to make out a couple of Grimlocks on another ledge on the far side of the cavern a pair of Grimlocks with bows aimed up towards us. Unfortunately they passed out of sight as the sunrods failed to ignore the laws of gravity and continued their journey to the bottom of the cliff and the many jagged rocks that were strewn across the floor.

With gravity and the angle of descent (due to the overhanging stalactites) working against us we had to use our brains (when I use ‘we’ in the context of using brains you can automatically assume I mean ‘me’). We tied another sunrod to the end of our rope and lowered it until the Grimlocks came into view. All it took then was some precision shooting and half an hour later, the Grimlocks were dead.

We headed to the bottom of the cliff, using the handy makeshift ladder the Grimlocks had obviously constructed, and headed up the other side (ignoring the tunnel at its base) to the ledge the Grimlocks were now lying. At the back of the ledge was carved another narrow tunnel that wound its way into the darkness. In single-file we cautiously entered the tunnel. We rounded a bend and was immediately set upon by a very big, extremely angry female Grimlock who was carrying two huge daggers. I was just debating whether she was as ugly Grim or not when Sneeze and Salty acrobatically tumbled past the rest of us and engaged the she-bitch. With the dimensions of the corridor the rest of us could only shout encouragement (positive words of motivation are of course the base of any successful encounter) as the enraged female tore into two S’s. Despite several hefty blows, the Grimlock was eventually slain. As Grim healed the injured pair, Muffin cast a spell to determine if the bitch was carrying anything magical and I searched her body. In a bag I found some money, a preserved drow head and a wand which, along with the studded leather that Salty took, turned out to be magical.

We continued along the tunnel until it opened out onto another ledge that had a rope-bridge on that crossed to yet another ledge with yet another tunnel leading from it. Being the leader and therefore the bravest, I decided that it would be best if I went across first with Salty following behind (obviously not being able to bear the thought of being away from me). As we got halfway across I sensed something was wrong. I looked down just as two horrible looking creatures with whip like appendages appeared from the rubble beneath us. Before I had time to warm anyone the monsters lashed out their arms and grabbed onto Salty dragging her from the bridge. As she fell three Grimlocks appeared at the end of the bridge and started to shoot. This distraction allowed one of the tentacled creatures to fasten one of its limbs around my neck and start to strangle me. The others started across the bridge to try and help but only Sneeze did anything useful. He jumped off the bridge onto the rubble and started some fisticuffs with the creatures attacking me and Salty.

Meanwhile the Grimlocks continued with their ranged assault on those of us on the bridge. It was as an arrow pierced my armour that I remembered that I had a couple of potions that would turn me into a gas for a short time. Despite the ever tightening grip on my throat I somehow managed to force the liquid down. Immediately I felt a release as the tentacle lost its hold and passed right through me. Only taking the briefest of moments to feel the wind blow through my entire body, I then drifted past the Grimlocks who paid me no heed whatsoever. I know they don’t have eyes and all but they’ve always seemed to be able to know exactly where we are. However this time they just let me pass them by without a single move against me. Anyway, my unselfish actions allowed Curly to push up more and start to engage the Grimlocks in melee. As he did this Sneeze and Salty finished off the whip-arms. Salty ran down the rubble and towards the tunnel at the bottom back to where we’d come from but Sneeze had different ideas. Taking a running leap from the pile of rubble he flew upwards and grabbed onto the rope bridge, causing it to swing violently and Curly to almost fall off. Using this brief moment of panic, the Grimlocks fled not so much past me as through me down the tunnel.

With the immediate threat gone, I turned myself back to real form and called Salty back to check the rubble whilst she was down there. She managed to find a necklace and a longsword that was made out of some weird metal that Grim called Cold Iron (apparently it’s good for hurting some creatures that are impervious to normal metals).

We headed up the staired tunnel which ended in a small ten foot tall cliff. We were contemplating how to climb this when half a dozen Grimlocks popped their heads over the side… along with their extremely pointy javelins which they rained down on us. Being in such a bad position we decided to retreat but not before a few parting shots: I threw a gem that produced a ball of fire that only managed to singe the Grimlocks eyebrows and Muffin summoned a swarm of beetles that set about eating them. As we moved back in single file down the narrow corridor a big Grimlock jumped down after us. With a roar of pure rage he charged after us and smashed his morning star across Salty’s skull nearly killing her. With too many people between myself and our foes I decided to use the same trick twice. I swallowed down my second and last potion of gaseous form and made my way through to the small cliff, passing several Grimlocks and a swarm that was getting dangerously close to where we had retreated to.

Before I floated up the cliff to where several Grimlocks remained, I glanced back down the tunnel only to see Salty fall from another heavy blow. Curly took her place but the enraged Grimlock knocked him out with his next blow. Sneeze managed to stem the tide of falling bodies by stepping up and stunning the Grimlock with a slap round the mush. My main concern as I floated up to the top level was that the swarm was getting ever closer to my fallen crew.

This part of the cavern had several more Grimlocks in it but one in particular caught my eye – or rather his eyes caught mine. Yup, this Grimlock actually had eyes. And not only that he was busy casting a spell down the corridor.

Knowing that this was a bad position to become whole I made my way around a corner, passing the Grimlock (which the others seemed to be referring to as “Grallak Kur”. As I did I noticed that he didn’t actually have eyes… well he did, but they weren’t his own: they had been sewn onto his face.

Once out of sight I turned myself back to a physical being and immediately the Grimlocks sensed my presence and within moments several had come to engage me. That was the last mistake they ever made as I swiftly dealt with them.

As I finished with those, the others had just made their way up to this level. I say others but what I really mean is Muffin, Grim and Sneeze had made their way up. Apparently Grim had tried to heal Salty and Curly but Muffin’s swarm had tried to finish off what the Grimlocks had started. Muffin had eventually put down his army of death beetles but not before they had sampled some probably extremely tough mutton from Curly and I’d imagine some stringy meat from my not so secret admirer.

Despite our lacking numbers we stormed towards eyeballs who retaliated with a couple of spells that created a noise louder than Grim’s snoring. Even with this deafening sound ringing in our ears we swiftly, under my supreme tactical instruction, took him and the remaining Grimlocks down (although on reflection I seem to remember Muffin starting to loot a few minutes before the battle had actually ended – I’ll have to have a word with him about that, although he did find a load of jewels, a magical haversack and ascertained that Eyeballs had been wearing a magical Mithril shirt so maybe it was worth it).

With us all being extremely injured (mostly by Muffin and his death swarm of death beetles from hell) and with Grim being all out of spells, I decided it would be best to rest here before checking out the rest of the caverns.

Godsday 25th Planting 595

After Grim had healed up the damage that the Grimlocks (ably aided by Muffin) had done, we set off down the one remaining tunnel. This led into another large cavern with a high cliff down that, once traversed, led to another cliff up that housed what looked like a sleeping area. A brief search of the area revealed a few defaced statues of Lloth (who is apparently the goddess of the dark elves, so at least the Grimlocks have some standards) and some magical rope.

Along with these were some scrolls written in common. I didn’t pay too much attention too what was on them (Curly’s monotone voice is enough to make anyone’s mind wander, although I am impressed that he can read) but the gist of it was that there is a power growing in the pool (as previously deduced by myself): apparently some kind of champion of the Ebon Triad. The scrolls also spoke of the return of someone called Kyuss and how the age of worms is upon us (not that scary if you ask me: I’ve seen worms before and their tiny. I can’t see them taking over the world. Although I have heard if you chop them in half you create two worms so maybe they hope to win by simply getting us to make mincemeat of them so that they can multiply their population enough to eventually suffocate us with their mass).

Trembling at the thought of drowning in a sea of earthworms, we made our way back to the lift chamber (on the way to collect the cauldron). As we entered the room we noticed immediately (to a distinct lack of surprise) that the pool was bubbling. We approached carefully and as we reached the edge of the pool the water erupted as out sprung a huge monstrosity (afterwards Grim would tell me that it resembled a bizarre amalgamation of the three gods of the black triangle): it seemed to have nearly a dozen arms that ended in massive claws.

Almost before the water had hit the floor Sneeze leapt in with (even I have to admit) a very impressive looking flying kick. Sadly this only seemed to enrage the creature who lashed out at us with its many arms. Bravely I struck out at the beast but it’s hide was thicker than my sword could pierce (although at least I actually hit it as opposed to Grim and Muffin who decided that this was the time to suddenly (well for Grim it was sudden: I was just grateful that Muffin hadn’t started hurting us) become more useless than Curly at the weekly Feral Dog drinking contests). However Curly and Sneeze started wailing on it with a fervour I haven’t seen since Grim when Tak last ordered a guest ale.

Having probed the beast a few times I finally hit the right spot and impaled it with my sword. This act of extreme courage and skill had an immediate affect as Grim finally entered the fight in a meaningful way. And what a way! He cleaved into the beast with his axe; a blow so devastating that it felled the so called champion of the Ebon Triad sending it sinking back to the depths of its murky pool.

With the beast slain I thought it best to vacate the premises before Dourstone discovered what we’d done. Loot in hand we made our way to the surface and the safety of our new… I want to say home but I’ll settle for run down shack.

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