Adventure log from Friday, January 27th, 2012. Recounted by the Dungeon Master.
The Pit of the Seven Jaws.
After making camp at King Crazy Jared’s hut for a restless night full of nightmares, the heroes awakened to find that Ataraxia— who was severely injured in the fight with Gotrrod— was missing from the hut. They first looked around for Jared and saw that he was still asleep on a ragged mat in a corner, curled up in his ragged clothes. There was then some discussion among the adventurers regarding the merits of leaving a letter for Ataraxia, should she return, when the smell of cooking meat wafted into the hut. The adventurers collectively burst out of the hut to find a completely unmarred Ataraxia frying sausages in a pan.
After recovering from the surprise of the scene, Cadrus exclaimed: “What happened?! You were nearly dead….”
Ataraxia smiled and simply said, “The Gracious Torm chose to heal me.”
Dhonzek frowned, as he was already making her a wig for the hair that would have almost certainly never grown back and he’d have to find another way to impress her.
Cadrus wondered if her eyes had always been golden yellow….
So, the heroes enjoyed a hearty breakfast and turned their attention to the journey ahead to the place Jared had told them about. It was at this time the adventurers considered the issue of rations. Asking Crazy Jared if he could help, Jared deigned that the heroes could take whatever they wanted from his plentiful stores, as a token of appreciation for their bravery in fighting the red dragon. The “plentiful stores” were found to be a barrel in the corner of his hut, filled with salted meats, sausages, and some hard bread, which the adventurers generously helped themselves to. Rations in hand, the party bid farewell to Crazy Jared and headed north.
At the end of the second day of walking, a ruined structure came into view. It might have once been a small keep of some sort, but it had crumbled to be only a stone wall, roughly a story high, with a wooden double-door set into the wall facing the road and surrounded by rubble. The adventurers took every caution in examining the building and gaining entrance into it. A low point was found in the wall and the heroes could peer over it, into the ruined building. The floor of the ground level collapsed into a pit, roughly 60 feet deep, with a metal-grate staircase spiraling down. A fissure was spotted in the southern wall with only darkness beyond.
George elected to cover the party from this low wall, while the rest moved around and through the wooden door. They found themselves on a small landing overlooking the pit. They carefully moved down the metal stairs, which seemed to squeal loudly no matter how carefully they went. As the heroes neared the final turn of the stairs, a blue reptilian head on a long neck poked out of the fissure and breathed torrents of frost onto the adventurers. It withdrew back into the darkness of the fissure immediately. The heroes pursued the beast.
Cadrus threw a sunrod into the darkness of the fissure, revealing a large beast with three heads on long necks. This large blue multi-headed creature, which we will call a cryohydra, squeezed through the fissure as the heroes approached, ready for its dinner. The heroes engaged the cryohydra in the pit, and it wasn’t pretty. The cryohydra seemed to attack from every direction with its many heads and assaulted the heroes continuously. For a time, it seemed to be no worse for the wear despite the parties violent efforts, but then Dhonzek laid a heavy blow on the beast’s flank. The heads roared in pain, but near immediately a blister-like growth formed over the wound and a head soon sprouted from the area. The new head joined in the bringing of pain onto the adventuring party.
Luckily, it was not long until a head was separated from the body of the hydra by a well-placed blow of Cadrus, who seemed strangely at home getting wailed on by the hydra. Again, a bulla formed over the stump of the neck and the writhing inside signaled the party that the hydra may soon be five-headed. George, however, landed a fiery blow from his new vantage point on the stairs that appeared to cauterize the blister covering the wound. The developing heads fell limp inside and began to atrophy.
The fight continued for minutes as both the cryohydra and the party took massive damage. In fact, Ataraxia was downed twice and ended the fight on her back, and, if not for her efforts, Dhonzek would have too, after a barrage of slams from the hydra left him struggling to maintain consciousness. Cadrus, however, stood firm, and the party rallied around him to drive the mortally wounded hydra back into the Underdark. They pursued and killed the massive creature as it fled. Postmortem examination revealed massive blood loss from its deep chest wounds. Ironically, though it had lost three heads in the fight, it died with three heads.
After finding a flash-frozen drow with some minor loots, the adventurers took a short rest and pushed on into the fissure.
Into the Underdark.
The fissure led down roughly 100 vertical feet over the course of a quarter-mile. The path then opened into a stalactite-filled cavern whose width and height varied widely as the adventurers pushed on. They continued south. After roughly an hour of travel they found what appeared to be an abandoned bird’s nest with fragments of shell. Further search revealed only excrement.
After several more hours spent underground, chatter was heard up ahead. Upon further investigation, a tunnel forking off the path was found. Soft light spilled out. Inside were seen several ogres sitting around a campfire and bragging about their recent exploits in a nearby city. Dhonzek scouted out the camp as carefully as possible and seemed to think that there were at least 5 large ogres making camp. There also seemed to be a spring of fresh water in the cavern with their camp. After some discussion amongst the party, it was decided that discretion is, in fact, the better part of valor. They quietly passed the branching tunnel and continued on.
More time passed as the adventurers pushed on in the Underdark. Their travel was difficult, but largely uneventful— besides some purple fungus that seemed harmless and, after, a shallow pool of water into which some of the fungus was tossed…. After about eight hours, the party arrived at a final extreme narrowing of the tunnel before it opened onto a small ledge overlooking a massive cavern with a misty lake. On the other side of the lake, several hundred feet below, was seen a building shaped like a fish, made from dark stone, and faintly lit with bio-luminescent fungi.
The party made its way down a small but well-worn path that snaked its was down to the lake. At the bottom, the party realized they would have to cross 200 yards of dark, silty water, through the mist that covered the lake, in order to reach the staircase leading into the maw of the fish-building. They were puzzling about getting across when a long canoe came out of the mist with a kuo-toan boatman. He addressed them in his language: “Aaaaaughibbrgubugbugrguburgle.”
The party tried to pantomime an explanation of their quest to the boatman. The boatman seemed to understand and motioned to his eyes and the sky. He beckoned for them to join him in the boat, but the adventurers remained apprehensive. After some discussion, Ataraxia offered that she could perform a ritual that might help. After several minutes, Torm blessed her with the understanding of kuo-toan. However, she could not speak it, and communication continued to prove difficult; the boatman was largely non-sensical, talking about Smoking Eyes, and rattling on about the darkness. He asked if the heroes were “from the darkness”. They denied that they were. The boatman peacefully left them on the stairs across the lake and paddled back into the mists.
Welcome to Bhal-Hamatugn.
Two dark windows on either side of the fish, where eyes would be, watched over the stairs leading into the fish’s maw. There appeared to be no other entrance where the heroes stood. They bravely (and loudly) trudged on towards the maw. A loud and angry “Rglrglrgrrrrlgrgl?!” came from one dark eye. Ataraxia understood that they were being asked to identify themselves and not in an especially friendly way.
Cadrus stood firmly and offered, “I am Cadrus. We have come to take back Zenith.”
The windows were quiet for a moment. Only quiet croaking vocalizations were heard. The response was a large harpoon launched from the right eye of the fish and directly into Cadrus’s shoulder, where it lodged. There was a rope that attached to the harpoon and ran into the dark aperture. A hard tug pulled Cadrus forward several feet before he could brace himself, and threatened to drag him up and into the fish’s eye. The party jumped into action.
Dhonzek immediately leaped to climb the face of the fish to fight whatever was there and found himself confronted by more than half a dozen kuo-toan warriors. He prepared to mince them one by one. Meanwhile, Ataraxia moved to assist Cadrus. She gave the rope a mighty yank and out of the right eye of the fish flew a large kuo-toa propelled by the rope attached to his gauntlet. He braced himself but fell flat on his face as he hit the ground 30 feet below the window. Several kuo-toan soldiers hurled themselves out of the window-eyes onto the invaders and began poking at them ferociously with spears. The party rallied to face these strange fishy-frog men.
Cadrus struck at the harpooner with his axe, missing, but instead of glancing off of its wooden shield, the axe adhered to some sort of sticky goop that coated the outside of the shield. Meanwhile, javelins rained down from the windows, thrown by smaller kuo-toa. Amongst the rain of javelins, Dhonzek was seen leaping from the window (unabashedly borrowing a play from the kuo-toan soldiers) with his axe high in the air. His athletic prowess shined as he managed to swing his axe and nearly separate a hip and thigh from one of the soldiers and land on his feet.
The harpooner moved away from Cadrus, pulling his harpoon out, but leaving his shield. He would soon regret leaving his shield seconds after, as Ataraxia took a strong sweeping arc with her hammer and planted it directly on the top of his head. The kuo-toan party was shocked and enraged at seeing their strongest fighter’s head driven flat against the stone, surrounded by blood, brains, and bone. They were worked into an indignant frenzy, letting out a series of angry screaming croaks.
However, it was not to be their day, as the tide quickly turned against them. One by one the heroes bashed the kuo-toan fighters into submission. The party climbed the fish’s face and into his eyes to finish the last four smaller ones. Dohnzek cut two nearly in half with one swipe, charging a third with his deadly momentum and ended its life as it fled. One last cleave from his mighty axe and the smaller ones were all still.
The heroes waited and it appeared that the fight had alerted no one else in the complex. The area behind the fish’s eyes was no more than a small hallway with a door connecting to an armory and a stair case leading down a story before taking a sharp right. The heroes decided to attempt to get some rest in the armory, after they hid the bodies in it and set watches. The first watch was young George.
As George waited in the dim light at the top of the stairs, he saw a kuo-toan female (he guessed from the dress she was wearing and her feminine shape, but who knows) making her way peacefully up the stairs with a tray of dishes containing a glowing-purple-fungus concoction. He moved back and, as she turned the corner, put down his weapon and peacefully held his hands up. The frog-lady first noticed the lack of guards, then the gore still covering the room, and finally the human making an odd gesture at him. She screamed a froggy scream which seemed to somehow work its way into George’s mind, making him flinch painfully. He continued to take a peaceful posture, even as she turned to run down the stairs.
Reasoning that things were about to get real, he dashed over to wake up the rest of the party. George rushed back to the top of the stairs, prepared to make his stand. He heard hard footsteps from behind him and glanced back to see feet and legs disappearing through the window. He frowned and followed.
The party was then faced with the problem of getting back across the lake. As luck would have it, Cadrus’s fear of water paid off well, as he had recently purchased two potions of water-walking, which Cadrus and Dhonzek quaffed. They carried the other members across the lake, with George being carried by his ankle, so that his head skipped along the water as Dhonzek ran across the 200 yards of dark water. They made it to the other side safely and without being seen, but the kuo-toa would almost certainly be on their guard for a while after such a violent invasion.
The adventurers elected to make camp at the top of the ledge overlooking the cavern and plan their next move. They rested well enough and their watch was not disturbed. George lived and was not decapitated— regardless of threats— but tensions in the group continue to rise.
To be continued….