Dean (Jared), Matt (Spinter Paw), Jeff (Ford), Coby (Kyros) and Chris (Creeper) are returning cast members.
We left the party separated, with Ragash, Splinter Paw, and Kraygen camped at the entrance to recover from their close encounter with the ghouls, and Jared, Ford, Kyros, and Creeper continuing to explore the cave.
With Creeper leading the way, the party returned to the large room where they had first encountered the larger group of ghouls. The room was quiet… too quiet. Silent corpses of dwarves and orcs, gnomes and ogres, lay scattered on the floor, gnawed bones sucked dry of marrow decades past. Two long tables occupied the center of a low spot, crude stairs carved into the cave floor to make descent and ascent easier. Bloody streaks marked the floor, long dried. The ascending stairs on the far side led to a smaller table, the decayed remains of a nicer tablecloth hinting at what was once a privileged seat.
Jared’s eye caught a hint of something unusual to the north. A cold corpse in the next room, yet – it was standing on two feet! His whispered warning alerted the rest to the presence of zombies in the room to the north. After a moment of preparation, Ford sent a sling bullet towards the undead creature. The hit was solid, yet the dead thing merely turned to look at him and began to advance.
Thinking quickly, and catching sight of more zombies on their way, Ford tossed out a bag of ball bearings and backed away. A moment later, a flaming skull swept into view from behind the zombies, cackling in madness and shooting flaming rays from its dead eyes. A faint moaning sound from behind the group alerted them to more zombies incoming.
The party conducted a fighting retreat towards the center of the room, deploying more ball bearings to slow the approach and tagging the incoming zombies one after another. Despite the withering missile fire and slow advance of the zombies, the party was hard pressed. The only bright point of light was the flaming skull; Creeper managed to take it out before it could do more than fire a few rays from its burning eyes. The skull fell from the air, landing on the high table.
Meanwhile, back at the camp, Splinter Paw watched as Ragash and Kraygen slept the sleep of the ghoul-paralyzed, idly turning in circles whenever the tip of his tail caught his eye and instinct kicked in. His reverie was interrupted, however, by a strange slurping sound. Looking out beyond the column he had been using as a chair, Splinter Paw saw a huge orangish marmelade-like creature approaching him and his two helpless friends.
With a hiss and a snarl and a swipe of his paw, Splinter Paw sent a blast of arcane energy against the threatening congealed mass of gelatin. The attack clearly damaged the creature, yet, undaunted, it split into two smaller creatures and continued to approach. Threatening pseudopods reached out towards the spitting and hissing feline, inflicting terrible acidic burns on fur and flesh. Splinter Paw backed off, crying out in panic. “Help! It’s eating my face!”
Far to the north and east, the exploring party heard his cries for help. Ford set off to make his way back to camp, accompanied by Jared’s steel defender.
Stinging from the acidic attack of the pseudopod, Splinter Paw focused his arcane-laced music into a rolling crescendo of a drum solo, unleashing a Thunderwave upon the two oozes. One died, its pseudopod splashing into formless gelatin. The other continued to move forward. Splinter Paw’s morale broke in that moment, and he fled, gaining distance from the remaining creature. With Splinter Paw fleeing and a tasty, snoring half-orc morsel merely five feet away, the remaining jelly reached it’s disgusting sugary tentacle towards Ragash. The formerly sleeping half-orc roared in pain and agony.
Hearing his companion and bodyguard’s cries of pain, Splinter Paw regained his courage and struck out with his dagger, pinning the ooze to the cave floor where it’s form slowly disintegrated. Moments later, Ford stuck his head out from the passages leading deeper into the cave. “I heard you needed a spot of help, mate. Everything all right?”
Splinter Paw and Ford made their way back to the rest of the group just as the last of the zombies died. Kyros’ Turn Undead had scattered them in all directions, and the group had to chase them down one by one. During that process, they found a large room filled with ore, machinery, and even a waterwheel, though there was no water flowing through the channel that fed it. Creeper also found a door to the northwest which had goblin voices lurking behind it, and faint light emanating from beneath. Just when the last of the zombies had fallen, and the part gathered together once more to discuss their next course of action, Ford picked up the remains of the flaming skull and addressed them: “Horathio, I hardly knew thee…”
The skull immediately erupted into flames once more, cackling with glee and darting away to the north, leaving a fireball in its wake. Despite their wounds, covered in shoot and ash, the party managed to destroy the skull once more before it could dart out of sight. Jared dug into his pouch for a vial of holy water and sprinkled it over the remnants of shattered bone. The cursed skull would flame no more.
Finally, exhausted, everyone returned to the camp at the entrance to rest. They arranged for watches, and fell asleep in shifts.
During second watch, Splinter Paw heard the flapping of leathery wings. He hurried woke Kyros as two stirges attacked. The feline hero dodged the bloodthirsty bat, but Kyros – still groggy – took his bat directly in the neck vein. The filthy creature sunk its proboscis deep into Kyros’s neck, slurping the liquid of life noisily. Splinter Paw yelled for the rest of the party to wake up while swinging his dagger at the stirge attacking him, killing it instantly. Kyros, on the other hand, chanted the words of a spell, his hand glowing with malign energy – but somehow the stirge avoided his touch, and the deadly spell went off on his own flesh. The stirge’s blood-sucking combined with the sudden pain sent Kyros into unconsciousness, even as his hand still glowed with unholy power.
Quick action from the rest of the group killed the stirge on Kyros, and brought the cleric back to consciousness. The terrible five-fingered wound on the cleric’s neck was healed, but a scar remained, forever a reminder to be careful with such magic.
To be continued…
Experience and Treasure
For reference: 200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 1/5 pp
- 400xp each for those present
Roleplaying moments and quotables
Dangling Threads of Fate
- A necromancer is excavating Old Owl Well
- The party has found a new entrance to Wave Echo Cave