Hole in the Ground

Session the Fifth

Lots of dungeoneering this time, and a good bit of combat too. So let’s get to it…

We picked up with our heroes answering pointed questions from Lord Mourngrym and a gathered crowd of concerned citizens as to the causes of and fallout from the tremors which had split the Old Skull, frightened some chickens and caused more than one pint to spill over at the inn. A local disaster indeed! The concerns of the locals were allayed by Aramel insisting that there would be no horrid monsters climbing out of the newly cracked rock, and further announcing that he would stand watch until something were done to close the opening off.

Tuvorok meanwhile had a wee parlay with Sunlord Munro over a few beers and the two drew up plans for the senior priest to magically seal the rock with Lathander’s blessing.

While the priests prepared spells and drank heavily, Aramel stood a lonely vigil atop the inn watching with bow drawn against monstrous incursion from below. Or so he would probably phrase it in answer to the oft asked query “What’s that elf doing on the roof? Has he gone simple?”
During his watch, Aramel pondered the ways of the woodland and his growing devotion to the ways of Wendl, King of Beavers. Also to the elven pantheon, and such deities as Rillifane, Corellon and assorted long-named bigwigs, who would reward his virtuous meditation with magic and other gifts.

Which probably explained just why a gray wolf decided to wander into town and sit at the front of the inn watching Aramel keenly through the morning. Clearly, his elfy ways had been rewarded with a wolf friend! Gods be praised and so on.

That morning, as Sunlord Munro prepared his magics to seal up the Old Skull, the group gathered themselves and wandered off to Widow Sara’s place to see if she’d let them use her tunnel to go back into the dungeon.

Said Widow was more than happy to see her rescuers, and even happier when they jury rigged a board on a rope to serve as a door over the sinkhole in her egg shed. And so with her blessing, down they went to see what had become of the complex following Antemoch’s departure.

The décor had been left in quite a state, though Kirk Nemoy was keen to stick his head in the huge chasm opened up across the doorway cavern, the group decided it was best to head to the old reliable ‘skull room’ then move on from there.

A little exploration was all it took to determine that the uppermost floor of the dungeon complex had been laid waste by the quake. The lovely lavender room was in utter disarray, the orc bedchamber had been mostly crushed and so on. One particularly unpleasant discovery was a previously unexplored chamber that turned out to be a den of sorts for gibberlings, now quite dead and rotten thanks to a blend of dehydration and cannibalism after their orc keepers had been killed off.

Having figured that there was little left to explore, the group tracked back to the stairway down to the second level and proceeded downward in an orderly fashion…

Having already poked around the dog kennel, duergar cells and library, the group kicked over the barricade serving as a border between duergar and orc claimed halls and sent Tuvorok ahead to see what was what.

Said ‘what’ turned out to be a band of snarling orcs and a crude crossbow trap, the latter proving faulty and useless, the former were a different matter. Not that Tuvorok was overly concerned given his near psychotic ahem rather appropriate and divinely mandated fury towards orcs. A swift battle later, and the bodies were thoroughly looted of all valuables as is right and proper.

Moving on, the group passed a stair descending into the gloom, from which issued a roaring sound not unlike a waterfall. So they ignored that, and poked around the orc den just through the next arch. Therein they found filth, junk and more filth- and a bizarre idol of a jackal headed, bat winged, goat legged daemonic entity sculpted entirely from semi-hardened orc waste. A poop-idol as Kirk Nemoy described it, was often a repositoty for hidden treasures in orc culture.

And so bold Kirk Nemoy, would be vampire hunter, set about checking a heap of orc poo for traps, which he would then boldly disarm. For glory! For fortune! For shame!

Meanwhile Tuvorok and Sir Erik investigated further, where they found a portcullis constructed of sparkling bars of lightning. A keyhole set in the floor appeared connected to the magical portal, but they would have to await Kirk Nemoy and his poo exploration to investigate any further.

As luck would have it, Nemoy had in fact found something within the poop. A sealed chamber pot buried in the idol’s gut, which contained a large and ornate brass key. “Orcs are weird” was the sage observation of Aramel. Countered by Tuvorok pointing out that orcs were in fact, “pricks” in his dwarven estimation.

A few moments fiddling about later, and it turned out that the newly discovered key fit the lock on the floor perfectly, and a twist of the wrist deactivated the lightning bars. Beyond was a bizarre chapel of sorts, with faded tapestries depicting heroic deeds by dwarves of yore, the slaying of demons by elves of Myth Drannor and Cormyrian knights standing proud. Removing the tapestries, the group found that the stones behind were magically lit, and said light now illuminated the statues of foul Demogorgon flanking the altar in the chapel, atop which stood a bizarre flickering portal.

With each second that passed, the portal opened to a different locale. From a placid country lane to the storm tossed sea, from a deep cave to the fires of what could be the Abyss! A lever before the portal seemed linked to its operation somehow.
“We could see where it goes?” Suggested Kirk Nemoy, only for Tuvorok to throw a stone through the opening to see if it was indeed a true portal.
“We could but we’d probably die. Portals are like that” Sir Erik replied, “We should just leave it”
And so off they went to see about the roaring sounds down stairs.

Once again strange magics had presented themselves. Once again they had been ignored a bit. And once again our heroes had not been killed horribly by said strange magics. There could well be wisdom in their deeds.

Down the steps, the group found the solid built stone walls gave way to a natural cavern dominated by a frothing pool of water. Said pool was fed by a waterfall from twenty feet up and drained by a small whirlpool at it’s centre.

“You know” said Kirk Nemoy thoughtfully, “We could jump in there and see where it goes?"

“You could. I’ll stay here and not drown” was all Aramel had to offer in reply to this odd notion, elves having a well known aversion to drowning.

Meanwhile Tuvorok was investigating the netting hung over the arch leading from the cavern back into the familiar hallways of the dungeon. Something was clearly being kept out, and whatever it was it had feathers. Having seen no sign of immediate threat, he tore down the netting and stuck his head into the room.

The clucking came just a heartbeat before a nasty thing that was as much serpent as it was rooster exploded out of the corner and attempted to take his eye out. A cockatrice! Deadly as a deepcrow rooster and twice as dangerous according to dwarf lore. The thing was a clucking menace, pecking at all within reach, and almost taking off Nemoy’s ear as he rolled past it to throw a dagger into the thing’s flank all sneaky like. He was fortunately made of stern enough stuff to not turn to stone at the monster’s touch, as was Sir Erik.

With the monster dropped and nobody turned to stone, the fellows took a victory pause before tearing apart the chamber in search of treasure, eggs, and any other deadly chickens. The only thing they turned up was a grapefruit sized stone orb, which was clearly a cockatrice egg according to Aramel. Rangers know these things. Though such a thing could fetch a pretty penny, the noble heroes decided to smash it instead. Only to find the egg of a creature hated by all living things was able to stand up to a good deal of punishment. And so Kirk lobbed it in the whirlpool and they had a good laugh.

[DM’s note: Mwhahahahaha]

Exploring further, the group found a good number of orcs- all of them turned to stone, apparently the cockatrice had laid waste to their numbers. They also found a dead cockatrice, perhaps the mate to their mighty foe? But not another living soul anywhere in the chambers they traversed.

A while later they took a rest in a small forge, one which had not seen use in a long time. And that was when the grim babbling and dark whispers assailed their ears…just as Tuvorok found the petrified carcass of a Duergar where he had hidden and taken his own life…and the unquiet spirit of that same dwarf rose from the forge to inflict his misery and despair upon the heroes!
Thanks to the magical blade of Aramel, the spellfire of Sir Erik and Clangeddin’s blessing upon Tuvorok the poor duergar spirit was soon laid to rest. Fortunately without inflicting much harm upon the group.

And so they took their rest…

One more session post to catch up and then we’re up to date with the last session we played.

Because next time, everything changes. Our heroes face the danger of…Outside!
Same axe time, same axe channel.

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PeteWhalley

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