Our brave adventurers woke up from their rest, refreshed, revived, and ready to start their trek back through the twisting caverns of the Underdark on their way to the Darklake. After their previous encounter with a group of angry goblins and angrier mushrooms, they were anxious to set off.
However, almost as soon as they arose, they found that their minds recalled the dreams they had the night before. Horrific, unnatural things, visions of maggots and mushrooms and bloodlust. Savagery that assaulted the mind, body, and soul. And in the cavern dimly lit by the magical energy known as faerzress, our heroes had to steel themselves against a wave of madness that swept over them. Some of them were able to withstand it, while some of them ended up eating dirt and thinking they were giant-sized.
After recovering from this event, our heroes gathered themselves to start their journey. It was then that a brusque encounter with an angry orc led to two troubling discoveries. 1) The group had lost their ability to communicate telepathically with each other, and 2) Both Stool and Sarith were missing. They were no where to be found, having disappeared much like Topsy & Turvy.
One keen-eyed adventurer was eventually able to locate their trail. Our heroes set off to find both their group translator, and the only one who could guide them through the Underdark. Along the way, they ran into a drow trading party. This group of dark elves expressed some curiosity as to what led such a motley crew to the depths of the Underdark, and it seemed like he could see through their clumsy lies about where they came from. However, one bard soothed one of them over with a cantrip that he felt sure would have absolutely no lasting actions or consequences whatsoever. The trader told them where to go, and all but insisted they take a halfling with them.
As they followed the path, our heroes came upon a cavern lit with softly glowing mushrooms, and warmed by geothermal vents. There was a hot spring there, and after their earlier journey, they were eager to step into the pool and clean some of the muck off of them. They were able to relax…so much so that they did not notice the group of steam mephits that were flitting about. And even though those impish steam creatures attacked our adventurers while they had been completely unawares (most of them not even wearing armor), our bold adventurers were nonetheless triumphant.
As they took a moment to recover their breath and patch up their wounds, one plucky adventurer opted to continue on by himself. He was on a quest to find his new friend and idol, Sarith, and nothing was going to stand in his way: Not steam mephits, not a complete and utter ignorance of which way the trail led, and not even an complete inability to see anything at all in the darkness ahead of him. Caution be damned, Sarith was missing.
The rest of our adventurers were alerted to John Willow’s departure by his sudden pained and contorted scream. Following his trail, they found him unconscious, and shivering with cold. Viewing their surroundings, they discovered that he had been a victim of brown mold, an insidious heat devouring natural phenomenon. It took some coaxing and experimentation (including the discovery that fire only made this mold stronger), but our heroes were able to rescue their companion and bypass the treacherous yet immobile mold.
They were also able to revive John Willow, who rose shakily to his feet. In poor health, but conscious.
Shortly after this encounter, Eldeth returned to the group, thought without Topsy & Turvy. She told them that she did not think they wanted to be found, and she could find no trace of their tracks. She also told our adventurers that they, themselves, left a fairly obvious trail to follow; something that perhaps should have weighed more heavily on their minds than it did.
They continued, however, and they eventually found Sarith and Stool. Our heroes demanded immediate answers from the dark elf regarding his unexplained departure, and his kidnapping of Stool.
Sarith reminded them that he had told them not to tarry in regions of the Underdark suffused with faerzress. He then pointedly reminded them that he was neither their lackey nor their ward. He was the one guiding them through the Underdark, not the other way around. He had told them he was going to take Stool back to the Neverlight Grove, and he had no intention on waiting for soft surface-dwellers to acclimate themselves to the Underdark.
And while one of our adventurers looked upon his stern visage with a look not unlike that another one frequently gave to another drow, the others looked Sarith over for signs of madness. They found none.
It turned out that Sarith was simply being Sarith.
He told them he was going to continue heading out. Stool released rapport spores again, allowing for telepathic communication amongst the group. It turns out that Ront’s earlier aggression was based on hunger. They had already exhausted the provisions they had acquired while escaping the Velkynvelve, and hunger was beginning to take its toll on the group. Some rations were shared, but our stalwart adventurers began to wonder if this was just the beginning of a far more serious issue as they pressed on.
These concerns were quickly brushed aside, however, as the unmistakable stench of death filled the room in one of the passages they were traveling through. Death, blood, and the distinct sound of giggling. Straining their eyes, they saw a pack of gnolls butchering a large creature they could only describe as an “Undercow”.
Given the size of the gnoll pack and their own strained resources, our heroes began to avoid the demonic hyena-men…until John Willow raised his longbow at them and readied an arrow.
Before he could react, Sarith drew his own weapon and cut John’s bowstring, rendering his weapon completely useless. Sarith hissed his final warning at the fighter: “Are you trying to get us killed? Be silent, and move.”
Our human fighter was not going to take this from an elf that he idolized, so he screamed something at the top of his lungs. The rest of our adventurers wisely sought cover, but John Willow remained where he was: Weakened, blind, wounded, with a corroded greatsword, broken longbow, and now the center of attention.
John Willow was predictably cut down in a hail of arrows.
As our heroes watched this massacre, Jimjar told them that there was a chance that they might be able to save him…but it was risky, involved putting themselves in grave peril, and depended entirely on what the gnolls were going to do in the next 12 seconds.
John Willow’s life hangs in the balance.
Players: Wimia, John Willow, Jobe Cainian, Quiddie, Monticus
Enemies Defeated/Dealt With:
- Steam Mephit – 4
- Gnolls – 5
- Brown Mold
Potentiality For The Next Sequence Of Events Involving A Harrowing Rescue Of A Reckless Adventurer To Be Incredibly Dangerous And The Precursor To Events That Will Reach A Terrifying Crescendo Of Melodrama: I think we all know that’s going to happen.