Time moves differently underground. Unending darkness broken only by the light we create from our torches and camp fires. No way to tell sun rise and sunset aside from our natural rhythm.
I look forward to being done with this place. The dank walls, dripping hallways, and ceaseless miasma of evil makes me weary. We still have no idea about what we might face ahead, or how much more there is to this. I miss the touch of sunlight on my face. I miss being dry. I miss the touch of green, growing, healthy things around me.
My thoughts wander again and again back to the Maker, and the tree that he had been sustaining. How much time is left? How much longer can the roots of the tree survive? Is it even possible to restore it? It is difficult for me to reach out to the sacred here. It feels distant, probably as a result of so much wrongness.
The sooner we can deal with Sacatha and return to the surface, the better.
Once back in the main camp area, KelLyn turned to Shalev and quietly asked if he would like to help her destroy the book that she had picked up in the library a few days prior. He looked at her with some suspicion, but agreed to help her get rid of it, mentioning too that it might be a good idea to leave it here in the room with the other treasure, just in case carrying it around might prove harmful. She agreed, and placed the book in one of the empty chests
While the rest of the party rested and recovered the damage done from the exploding book, I decided to scout out the narrow corridor underneath the trap door we had discovered in the room we used as a base camp.
The hallway was slim enough that movement was slightly restricted, and very dark. I do not have my Tobias’ ability to see in the dark, so Shalev followed as quietly as he could a little way behind me carrying a torch. After only about 50 feet or so, I came upon a wooden ladder that lead up to another trap door.
The small square door was not trapped, but the lock was quite a complex little puzzle. After more than a few moments the lock gave, and I slowly and silently opened it upwards. I spent a moment listening for movement, and hearing none, peeked up into the room to see what was there. I saw three moderate piles of debris: one of coins, one that looked like a whitish pile of bone, and another pile of leaves and plant debris. As I looked, I gently extended my senses out into the room to see what they could tell me. I smelled the ever-present scent of moldering decay and swamp and death, rusted metal, decomposing plants, and humidity, but nothing more. As I observed the room cautiously, the pile of leaves began to move slowly over. The moment it began to move, I withdrew from the room, closing the trap door behind me.
I told Shalev what I had seen, and on a whim asked if he could bring me an arm or a leg off of one of the bodies of the enemies we had slain. He left the torch with me, and came back after a moment with a handful of various limbs. I tossed one up into the room to observe if the plant pile would pose any threat. To my confirmation of curiosity, it shambled over and consumed the limb noisily. I tossed another up to keep it occupied while I thought, extending my druidic sense again to try to determine what this was. It looked like a plant, but sensed more like an animal, which was confusing. I have never run across a creature like this in all of my years, and Shalev had no experience with what this could be either. I tried once again to reach out to it directly, but got neither sense of intelligence nor alignment in the beast.
I tossed another limb up to the creature, and then made my way back down the ladder to where Shalev waited. Loathe to kill such an extraordinary creature, but wary of the danger that it might pose to us, I asked if he would mind using his skill at handling animals to help control it while we scouted out the rest of the room. He agreed, and with sudden inspiration, laced the remaining pile of limbs with three of the sleeping potions that he had picked up from our travels. He made a quick jog down the corridor to inform the rest of the party on what we found, and what we planned to do, then made his way back over and up the ladder. The mound of plant-animal crawled over to the pile of limbs and devoured them, showing no obvious effects from the potions that laced them. It moved again toward Shalev, and as he made it chase him around the room, we could see the effects of the potions taking effect in the slowness of it’s movements.
Ishmael came up the ladder at that point, and upon seeing the strange creature, attempted to use his shield to scoop underneath it in order to topple it over. This proved to be a mistake, however. The moment he got within reach of the thing, three tentacles lashed out from underneath it to wrap around Ishmael in order to pull him underneath where the mouth of the beast was. Ishmael pulled back to try to dodge the vice-like arms, but was not able to get out of the way in time, and was entangled. Seeing this, and seeing no other alternative, I reluctantly drew my sword to help free Ishmael. I hit the creature, but as I did, I felt the bulk of it’s mass shift to direct the force of my weapon downward, causing my sword to glance off of the floor. I mumble a curse as I retrieved my blade and noticed the damage done to it, knowing that it will most likely be impossible to repair.
Shalev continued his attacks, and Ishmael continued to struggle to get free. Tobias joined the fray then, tossing a torch at the creature, but it fizzled out in a puff of steam with no effect. I made an attempt then to use my druidic abilities to exhaust the thing, and saw that it had moderate effects on the speed of it’s movements. Shalev managed to free Ishmael then, Tobias attacks the creature just as new tentacles emerge from beneath it. I called then on the destructive side of my druidic powers, in an attempt to destroy the beast from the inside. I felt the spell hit the thing successfully, but there was no visual effect.
Fife also joined the fight then, spending a moment to study the creature in an attempt to find a weakness. Ishmael took up the task of leading it around the room, and called down to KelLyn – who had come down the hallway and waited at the bottom of the ladder – to tell us what she saw when he lead it over the opening at the trap door.
In an attempt to get out of the way, as I could do nothing else at the moment, I moved over near Shalev and we made our way over to the other two piles in the room to discover that the whitish pile was indeed bones and rusting pieces of useless armor. The other pile was a small pile of copper coins, as well as a handful of a strange reddish coin that appeared to be made of iron. The room was small enough that I could not use my bow without risk of injuring one of the other party members.
Ishmael moved to lead the mound over the opening of the trap door, and I could hear KelLyn’s voice down in the hallway, but could not make out what she was saying. At that moment, Fife moved to attack, having finally found a weak spot to strike. He speared the creature, and it convulsed spastically and collapsed in a heap of rotten bile and ooze down the trap door and all over poor KelLyn who had no idea what happened until it was too late.
Shalev found a scroll tube buried under the pile of copper, and I found an empty potion tube, but nothing else could be found in the remaining mess. Ishmael wondered aloud how such a creature got up in this little out of the way room, as it could not have fit through the trap door.
The ooze and ick made KelLyn understandably very irate, and she grumbled about causing harm to the first person that came down the ladder. Shalev made his way down the ladder, and seeing her ire, and her current state of being covered in mess, hastily held up the scroll tube to show it to her. It is enough to keep him from getting punched in the face, and we all make our way back over to the main room to rest and to allow KelLyn to clean herself off.
Once we were ready to continue, we made our way over to the main worship area to examine the door that Shalev had seen behind the tapestry. Fife stepped forward to check the door for traps, and finding one, attempted to find a way to open the door. He could find no way of gaining entrance, however, and I also checked the area there to discover a very old latch where a lever used to be. The mechanism is extremely complex, and I spent quite a bit of time to examine it. I was able to pick it open, but when the panel slid ajar, a wall of debris from the hallway behind it fell into the room. I still had my hands occupied with the locking mechanism, and was unable to dodge out of the way of the falling rocks. I was only slightly injured though, and Lan came over to check my wounds, determining that there was no major hurt.
Being in this room still made me feel nauseated, and so I turned to leave in order to go out so that I could meditate. I stopped abruptly, however, and stood stone-still when I saw a huge winged being standing in the doorway. He said with a voice rumbling with amusement “well, that door is blocked.”
The rest of the party turned to see, and I could see Shalev readying to attack the being outright. I noticed that it had not attacked us, but simply observed, and I held my hand out to stay Shalev’s action. I asked the demon politely if it knew of another way down to the next level, he said that he did. He said somewhat grumpily that he was trapped here, since the person who summoned him here had been killed – referring to the dark paladin that Shalev had killed earlier.
Shalev asked the demon his name, and the demon laughed at the naive question, saying that he knew well the power of names, and would not be so easily fooled. He also said that he wanted nothing more than to go home, and would be willing to trade information for the favor. I looked at KelLyn and Osman, and they in turn look through the book that Osman had pilfered from the library room. KelLyn finds a spell that would allow her to return the demon to his home plane, and she shared the information with Lan who had the magical capability to perform the spell.
We all moved over to the summoning chamber – the circular chamber where the robes still hung on the wall hooks. KelLyn created a circle for Lan, whether for protection or extra power, I am not certain, and Lan was able to successfully cast the banishing spell, using sulfur from Ishmael’s stores, and the powdered diamond from the alchemist’s lab as components. The demon looked somewhat surprised that she knew what she was doing, and only slightly impressed that she was able to perform the complicated ritual. Before the demon departed, he turned to Ismhael and said:
“In the Hall of the Patriarchs, on the southern wall is a door you can not see. Underneath that is the passage to below.”
With his part of the bargain fulfilled, the demon vanished, and we looked at each other with a little relief that everything had gone so well. Lan made note of the name of the demon, which had appeared in front of her in a flash as the gate sealed itself, saying that you never knew when such information might become useful. The party made it’s way over to the dead-end hallway where the remains of the paladin still lay in a heap of crushed metal. I examined the room again, but discovered nothing more than we had before. I went out then to the southern wall to check, and find the secret door, as the demon promised, but could find no obvious mechanism to open it.
Lan and Shalev take a moment to examine the remains of the paladin, and they discover a ring of mangled keys, a crushed holy symbol, and a signet ring. I ask KelLyn if she has a spell for opening, thinking that this door might be like the one we found in the alchemist’s room. She said that she did not, and then Shalev asked if she just wanted to destroy it. She almost squealed out loud with glee, and happily did just that. The door fell into a pile of crumbled pebbles, to reveal a passage going off to the left and right.
We followed it around to find the pile of rocks blocking the way through to the temple, and then traversed back the opposite direction to find another door. It is not trapped, nor is it locked, and it opens into a room with doors to the north and south.
Fife checked the north door first, and yelled out in surprise as the door fell off the wall to wrap itself around him, not a door at all, but some form of creature that could mimic the appearance of other things. The party rushes over to try to find a way to remove the creature without hurting Fife in the process.
Lan, KelLyn, and I all cast spells to see if we can remove the creature, and the other party members try pulling and tugging to tear it away. I managed to wound the creature, and KelLyn’s spell finished it off. We moved Fife to safety, and checked finding him uninjured, but covered in slime. He spent a moment cleaning himself of the corrosive ichor, and while he recovered, I checked the other door to find that it was also fake. I discovered a hidden door on the eastern wall, leading to a dead end with another hidden doorway, and another room with fake doors.
Fife poked all of the doors at a distance with his spear, not willing to repeat the battle with the mimic. All of the doors toppled over to the floor, and he urged KelLyn to set them all on fire. She did so, and the doors began producing an unusually large amount of smoke. The room quickly filled, so we went through the one real door back into the hallway. Shalev insisted that the hidden door was BELOW, and should be here in this room somewhere.
So KelLyn worked to put the fires out, extinguishing the flames, but producing more and more of the billowing smoke. Ishmael sang his songs of water to help her in the process, but still more smoke clouded the area.
At that moment, a circle of fire appeared in the center of the room. Two men, dressed as mages, stepped through the circle with a demon prince in tow. The very demon prince that KelLyn had gated through to the Fyrewerian mages who had made themselves a nuisance to her before. They stated grimly, pointing directly at KelLyn: “SHE is the one who sent you here. We want her dead.”