“FIRE, SLIME, BEAK & CLAW”
It seemed as if Death had come for the brave souls who had entered the Caves of Chaos. Not death in the form of a natural passing, but as Death, a sentient force intent on breaking the fellowship and littering the Caves with the corpses of the foolhardy.
While Cullen, Willem, and Sir Malcolm took up defensive positions outside the Star Chamber, and Magnar and Lindus searched the bedroom on the floor above, Brukhart, Chieftain, Quentin, and Sebastian explored the Chamber itself, interacting with one of the two prisoners they had found within.
Daphne deWinter, a merchant from theocratic Mortienne, was traveling south, intent on reaching the distant marketplaces of Crescentar, when her caravan was waylaid. She had been imprisoned in the Star Chamber for months, she feared, though she had lost track of time. She was held in a suspended cage throughout her stay, and fed gruel intermittently — just enough to keep her alive.
The other prisoner, chained on the raised altar and within a magic circle surrounded by arcane glyphs, had been a wainwright, serving the merchant caravan. He has slowly been driven mad, his lifeforce slowly drained away to power the spells of the renegade Mortienne sorcerers who have carved out a temple within these caves.
While Quentin freed the woman and gave her some of his rations, which she devoured hungrily, Chieftain had seemingly discovered a magical bracelet that entranced the massive seaman. Sebastian was quick to snatch the item away, securing it in a leather pouch so that others might not fall under its spell.
Elsewhere, Lindus had triggered a trapped chest in the bedchamber above. Magnar barely escaped the room as it became engulfed in flame. The priest snatched up a backpack lying just inside the door, and drug Lindus’ body out. He, and her father, Willem, declared her dead. Her heart was cut out and preserved, destined to be buried in Pax Macchia, should they escape the deathtrap they were in.
As they mourned their loss, another quickly followed on its heels as Sir Malcolm called out that the gelatinous cube had found them. He was consumed by the horrific ooze as it slimed its way into the corridor and advanced on the party. Brukhart marshaled a retreat, falling back toward the Star Chamber below.
While this was going on, Sebastian had freed the wainwright and fed him a healing potion to get him back on his feet. This gave him some vitality, but his grievous wounds hindered his movements. Quentin fortuitously discovered a secret passage, offering a chance for them all to escape from the advancing threat of the acidic cube coming for them.
The fellowship gathered and fled down the steep incline of the secret passage, finding themselves in a dank cave complex littered with bones and coins from various empires, many quite old. As they searched for a way out, they discovered a slumbering owlbear, hibernating in its nest. Roused from its winter sleep, the beast raced into the midst of the group just as the gelatinous cube slid into the owlbear’s den.
Chieftain was severely wounded by the owlbear as the party raced for the exit, aided greatly by a timely spell by Magnar. Cullen, cut off from the rest, was overtaken and devoured b y the gelatinous cube, as the fellowship scattered, running from the owlbear’s vicious assault. The beast, shaking free of the sorcery that befelled it, ate the wainwright before pursuing the party out of the caves and into the canyon outside.
Desperate, the fellowship sought to elude the faster owlbear. Sebastian, fearing for the life of his shipmate, advanced on the beast and did damage to it, but not enough. He retreated as Willem drove home a well aimed shaft. Brukhart moved into position to give aid as Magnar raced to get reinforcements from camp. As the the freed merchant, the lovely Daphne deWinter, fled further east, Quentin was able to magically hold the owlbear once more… but would it be enough.
We’ll have to find out next week once the action resumes.
RIP Sir Malcolm Grael, Lindus Ashe, Cullen Willingham, and unnamed wainwright guy.
to be continued