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Dangerous Footing

Sprocket’s Journal

Uktar 21, 1373 DR, outside of Thornhold

It took us all of two minutes to figure out the way into the cairn, as a stone slab on the side had been pushed away, leaving an opening to some stairs leading downward. Not surprisingly, there was a sarcophagus, which we assumed contained the remains of the late Warlord Barak; four dwarven statues flanked it and seemed to be posed to hold up the ceiling of the 20’ round chamber. Maiyr’s keen elven eyes spotted a crack in the wall, which upon further examination revealed an opening about 30” wide. We followed behind him through a hallway that widened as it went down, and wondered if there were any traps to worry about. Maiyr managed to find a tripwire with his boot, and took the brunt of the damage from the axe that swung down in response.

We continued on and soon came to an area that was slightly larger than Barak’s burial chamber. Two human-sized tunnels led out of this cavern, and 6 Widget-sized tunnels were dotted around the edges. Nosila bent down to look into one and found a pair of beady red eyes staring back! Widget, who must have heard or sensed something, squeaked for everyone to get to the center of the room; unfortunately, none of us speak rat, so we missed his rather sound advice. Large unnatural rats began to swarm out of the holes. I say unnatural, not only because there was something about their features that wasn’t quite right, but because they didn’t respond to my or Widget’s pleas to cease attacking. Not that it would have done them any good— the rest of our party was slicing through them quickly (and getting bitten in the process). In an attempt to scare them away, I created the illusion of a large green cat that hissed and growled. It was hard to concentrate on that with Widget squeaking, Darvin talking to me (at one point I attempted to have the cat bat him out of my line of sight), and the general mayhem. The cat, or possibly all the weapons, scared off the last few fiendish rats.

We dusted ourselves off and decided to check out the two remaining tunnels. The right tunnel took us to a shaft giving off an orange glow and a lot of heat— we didn’t want to mess with lava again so soon if we didn’t have to! As we backtracked, I placed an alarm spell on the “rat room” in case anything followed out of the right tunnel. We took the left tunnel, and came to a bridge over a lava flow. While seemingly easier to traverse, it was guarded by two dretches who took offense to our presence.

At this point, Maiyr took off in the direction we’d come from, Darvin ran up to them and threw up (and even though Widget doesn’t vomit, whatever bothered Darvin got to him too— I heard him doing something nasty in the confines of my backpack). I was able to stun one dretch with some spells, while Nosila ran up to engage one dretch and nearly flew off the bridge when she slipped on Darvin’s vomit. She managed to catch herself and push one of the dretches off the bridge. I cast another spell at the stunned one, which collapsed at this point, and Nosila pushed it off into the lava as well. Darvin recovered from being sick, and Maiyr came running back in (sporting yet another axe wound), just as soon as there was nothing to see.

We collected ourselves and headed onward, coming to a good-sized chamber. The floor was strewn with humanoid and animal bones, and the only piece of furniture was a ragged bed. Before we could investigate further, the half-fiend appeared, and cast a cloud of greasy darkness on us that made us all quite sick. I thought I was going to pass out, but Darvin, who apparently has been looking after me in spite of his bravado, yelled to me to grab the one potion on his belt and drink it. I was immediately healed and able to concentrate on defeating the Maiden of Pain. But where was she? I couldn’t see her, but suddenly there was Widget on my shoulder, pointing and squeaking. I told my companions that she was still in the room, in spite of the sounds of footsteps in the hall behind us. She reappeared as everyone attempted to slash at the area where she’d last been seen. My stronger spells hadn’t had much effect on her before, but I had quite a cantrips left that could at least distract her. I used a simple mage hand spell to yank the tattered blanket off the bed and wrap it around her head. My companions were able to get a few attacks in while she disentangled herself. Heartened by this, I ran behind her and cast a spell innate to gnomes (and mostly used for parlor tricks). A few rather unrealistic bananas appeared at her feet. I can’t imagine what went through her mind, if she even noticed, but she knew I was casting behind her and spun around to confront me. It turned out to be a fatal mistake as she slipped on a peel and went down. Prone, she was unable to defend herself and died quickly.

I feel as if a great weight has been lifted— the geas is broken! I could see that Nosila was feeling the same way, while Maiyr and Darvin looked, well, ill. In fact, Darvin passed out a few moments later— and he had given me his only healing potion. Both Nosila and Widget ran to him to attempt first aid, and at least he seems stable. We decided it would be best to get out of the cairn, but first we looked for anything of value on the body of the half-fiend. She wore a gold and sapphire ring etched with runes, and on her belt was a wood and paper fan, and a key. We looked under the bed and found a chest that happened to have a keyhole in it, so we considered ourselves well-compensated and dragged ourselves out to where Darvin’s horse waited patiently. We also took the scaly green body of the Maiden with us, to show to Lord Taricz.

I was impatient, and attempted to open the chest, despite Nosila’s request to hold off till we were someplace with a healer available. I briefly wondered why, since I had the key, but after pushing it into the lock, I felt a pin prick (and just a wee bit weaker!). The pain was worth it though, as the chest contained 900 gold pieces and several nice gems. I’m not sure what the fan does, though it radiates evocation magic. Widget told me that the ring would be handy for him, but he let me try it on. It contains a power that allows a wizard to cast more spells than can normally be cast in a single day, and apparently provides some magical protection as well. I hope my comrades don’t mind me keeping it!

We rested until sunrise; thankfully, our camp by the cairn went undisturbed. Darvin doesn’t look any worse, but has not regained consciousness. Thankfully his horse is quite strong and was able to carry both Darvin and the Maiden’s bodies for the return trip.

The excitement we felt at completing our goal was dampened by what we found as we were passing the magma lake where the Maiden’s farm had been. Circling the lake is the ghostly form of a badly-burned halfing.

Posted by Kristin on February 24, 2005, 00:15 | Sprocket’s Journal