We finished off the enlarged preying mantis and the party headed deeper inland. I set fire to the stump thing, not because it had to die as much as the whole of this quest had my teeth and temper on edge. A weak throb of power permeated the ground. The others didn’t feel it, but I did. It wasn’t the other worldly power of the ice witches, but it was otherworldly. Whatever they’d done to craft the keys to Sorrow’s Keep had opened gateways…or the key bearers had been drawn by powers who’d opened them.
It wasn’t long until another millipede attacked, hardly surprising since the path we trod was carved by their ceaseless runs up and down the island. I shoved my way past the elf, threw a blast of eldritch power into its pincers and filled my casting staff with stolen druidic power. Melo, Trogdor and his wolf Wallace beat on the thing’s head, so I circled, getting around it and blasting as I went. When I got close enough I charged, slamming the enchanted staff into its tough spine. We lost time collecting arrows and debating whether the thick chiten might hold value as an armor source.
We moved on, my temper eased, but my nerves no less taut. We’d barely moved on before a pair of slithering stonejaws sprang from hidden holes and seized Melo. Trogdor and his wolf charged in again. Again the dog proved more effective than his master both at being hit and hurting our enemies. The elf and I struck it again and again from opposite angles. She fumbled her bow jeopardizing all of us, but by some quirk of luck still struck on of our enemy.
“You should burn her to ash,” My darker inner voice said.
“She’s damaging our enemy. As long as she stays downwind, let her expend herself on them,” I answered.
They struck Melo again and again, leaving him heavily injured. Rather than heal, Casi threw blats of fire at the creatures. I don’t mind her worship of my methodologies, but I like Melo, and my inner voice doesn’t want him dead. They bloodied the wolf, sending Trogdor into a panicked rage the culminated with him shoving the enlarging berries down the wolf’s throat–the growth nature of them filling in wounds. Melo swallowed one too in order to heal himself. There must’ve been a butterfly or Casi’s goddess wanted to gossip. Who knows?
We made an early camp so that we were prepared for night’s fall better than we had with the spiders. I watched the first part fo the night, careful not to get too much sleep. When half ther night was gone, I let Trogdor watch – I have no idea why. It used to be the half-orc warrior Drakur that watched with me, the only two among the party with night vision. The barbarian is out of his element and nightblind, it’s no wonder we got attacked.
It was a new creature this night, revolting and drooling acid. Trogdor’s agonized fury woke me, so it was I and the elf who exited the tent to strike at the target. She shot her arrows and I decided it was time to teach both her and this new creature why they should keep a wide berth. I wrapped it in a demonic curse and hurled three lances of flame into its teeth, burning my own gut to amplify it using the blood root hidden there. The soggy little bastard survived the strikes, but not the follow up. It’s acid intrigued me, so I containered some in glass for further study – I’ve seen notes in the great libraries on clouds of acid I’d like to conjure.
We returned to our rest and set off the next morning. Another millipede assaulted us. This time seizing the wolf in its many limbs and raising it off of the ground. I blasted it with eldritch power and weakened it’s body. The insect bit a huge chunk from the wolf’s gut, spilling ichor out onto the ground. The barbarian went insensate once more, though I doubt his sanity is firmly anchored at any point.
“Let it die. When was the last time you tasted meat that wasn’t jerky, fish or insect.”
I reached out to my familiar, flying high above in osprey form.
“Let. It. Die.” The dark voice chuckled. Something about Seafarer’s Bane had made its demands stronger and more frequent. “Watching the Northman grieve will amuse us.”
I forced my will and sent more stolen druidic magic through the bird. It dove and struck the wolf, magicing washing from its body into the wolf to keep it in the here and now. Trogdor thanked me, not knowing just how hard I’d had to fight to keep his growing and mutating animal alive – he’s forced far too many berries down it’s throat.
We moved on quickly thanks to Casi healing those in need.
Something upset a beehive, my coin’s on the elf’s stench. I suppose I have only myself to blame. I’ve applied my magic upon the others several times to clean them, the elf only once. At least the elf didn’t attack them. I haven’t forgotten the dessert anthill the now dead cleric decided to make war upon.
We finally made it to the foot of the mountain. Melo in fine fiddle climbed it quickly as he’s like to do while Trogdor and I worked ritual magic to sense the way ahead. No obvious entrance presented itself, so I sent my osprey circling and closed my eyes to see what it did. We found it and through a combination of magic and strength, lifted the party into an entrance high above both canopy and island floor. The magic which had been troubling me before beat at my senses, partly I think because I’d opened myself up to sensing magic. The passage was a deliberate construction, some powerful entity carving it by the expedient method of pounding the rock out of the way with pure magical force.[A note about the following pictures. Our creative DM had the whole 3D mountain with enclosed dungeon and rooms drying on the back of a trailer in his yard. While he was out blacksmithing with us, a neighborhood dog came over and ate it, leaving paw prints in the still drying exterior. As such, we forged on with figures but no terrain.]
We came to a rectangular chamber filled with stalactites and stalagmites. A vicious guardian that looked like a cross between a preying mantis, a kraken and a sea snake attacked us. Case ran up the walls and across the ceiling pummeling it with bolts after both of fire. The elf and I went separate directions to strike it down, but the big oaf od a barbarian just strode up to the thing and drove his axe straight through its skull like splitting cord wood.
The next chamber brought a smaller version of the guardian, but this one threw magic. It blasted Melo with a similarly designed spell to my own blasts of eldritch power. When I hit it with mine, it resisted, so I slammed ice into it while Casi continued to throw sorcerer fire rather than the sacred flames she liked until recently. Our onslaught drove the creature back, whistling and wailing for help. A third kind of its species arrived with healing magic. He and I threw power into each other’s teeth, but rather than toe to toe like a mindless barbarian I retreated until all the practice I’d put in at forcing my magic further left him in my range but me outside of his. I directed Trogdor to fight the sorcerer while Casi and I handled the healer. He handled it all right, but unfortunately the healer closed the massive wounds before the creature succumbed to its injuries.
It was at that moment the elf bumbled again. She hadn’t learned her earlier lesson. The power within me seized my body, tore my throat from out of my control and unleashed an explosion of fire directly into her body. It snarled a warning to her while its voice all but salivated inside my head.
“Kill it. It hurt us. We get to kill it.”
“We’re already fighting something else.”
“It’ll wait, kill her. The elf has to die.”
“I don’t think it was done with a purpose.”
“None are allowed to harm us.” It drew up my eldritch power, focusing it through my staff for maximum effect. “She’ll die so prettily, elfs do everything so damned prettily.”
I wrestled control at the last moment, spun and hurled it once more at the healer. It healed itself, so I drew upon necromantic power and bound it with a ghostly claw. The claw didn’t cause it as much injury as other attacked, but Casi and Melo’s assault wore on it quickly. The elf vanished somewhere in the cavern, perhaps to drink a potion and recover from the lesson she insisted upon inviting. I bound the healer’s flesh so that it couldn’t be healed while the others burned and gouged it’s body to the point that it too started calling for help. Trogdor finally slew the sorcerer thing – far slower since his wolf kept hidden. The healer fled before I could deal it a final blow.
“The neighbor’s dog ate my homework[dungeon].” Billy, Dungeon Master[IMPORTANT NOTE: I forgot to mention the painting of all our DM’s figurines is done by his lovely wife Rebecca. She did Casi, Trogdor, and a few of the other – though she technically repainted Ambrose after Billy added crystal spear ends to his staff and had to strip him, so I’m still claiming credit for his paint job.]
I hope you enjoyed an in character review of our game. It’s no Critical Role, but I’m having fun with Ambrose. We’ve got an SCA war to attend next week, so Part 4 won’t be for a few weeks. That’s okay, I’ve got books coming out between now and then, buy Hijacked or The Wizard’s Bane and good reading.