Dremnin and Skram walked back to their group’s lodging place and held a meeting to inform them all of what had transpired with Thorin. As the description came forth, Vridich informed the group that he could now exert control over the Krillra, which was welcome news after Thorin’s information that these creatures awaited the group above in large numbers. Dremnin also told them that his spirit encounter had not only allowed him to advance a circle, but had given him the way out of this dimension if they should be able to defeat Selenys. Skram told the group that they were being given a chance to try and contact the shade of Thorin’s father, who had led a failed attack on the Nethermancer’s lair many years ago. So with eager spirits, the group took their gear and sought out the master smith.
When they arrived in the common area, Derryg, the war master, was equipping the tribe for war, and Thorin broke away to assist the group of adepts in contacting his father. The smith warned them that his father’s spirit was very troubled and heard to reach, so he might not respond. But when they reached the old tribal leader’s chamber, the group asked the shade to assist them by sharing any information he might have from his own assault, so that the adepts with his son didn’t have to make the same mistakes in their attempt. The result was a whispered conversation that told the group that his assault force had only made it halfway across the plain before being destroyed. The survivors had found a cave about halfway from the bridge to the lair, and it was here that he died of starvation. There was not much else to say, so Thorin asked if he could speak with his father alone. The group left them and went back to the common area, where Thorin joined them a few moments later.
With that attempt at scouting their path a marginal success, the group asked Thorin about how they could all escape this realm, as the assault group would be far from Thorin’s own force should the assault succeed. Thorin and his people would create a large-scale diversion to draw off Selenys’ defenders while the group of adepts assaulted the lair. Skram and Dremnin had been concerned that if they found the way out, that none of Thorin’s people would be able to join them in exiting the realm. The response was essentially, “Don’t worry about us. Just make sure you kill Selenys and break the chains.”
So armed and equipped as best they could be, with Luck the Swordmaster wearing the plate armor that Thorin had forged, the group was quietly led by Derryg and two of his best men to find their way to the surface. When they arrived, they saw an opening of the cavern into open air, and a long suspended footbridge across the chasm. With best wishes for good luck, Derryg and his men departed and headed back to join Thorin’s tribe. Above, the group could see individual Krillra circling at different altitudes, and they tried to decide how best to get across the gorge.
In the end, it was decided that Urgral the Horror Stalker and Vridich the Nethermancer would go first, so they tied a rope between them and set out to cross the rickety bridge. All went well at first, when suddenly the board Urgral stepped on snapped in half and sent the dwarf plunging downward. He quickly reached the end of his rope, and the elf succeeded in holding them both up. It was at this point that Dremnin spotted a Krillra diving in to attack the unlucky pair on the bridge, and screamed out a warning. Just as Urgral used his great strength to climb the rope back up to Vridich, the Krillra struck and struck the elf with three solid hits of its tentacles. Vridich was gravely wounded by the attack, but used his new found ability to reach out and control the mind of the beast. With a cry of “Don’t hit the Krillra”, Vridich went limp in its grasp, and the flying worm carried his body to the opposite side, while Urgral gingerly walked there as well.
Members of the rest of the group had tried to rush out to assist their beleaguered comrades, but as they did so, Fafnir the Travelled Scholar cried out a warning that the bridge was giving way. Fafnir and Luck, the Swordmaster, quickly jump on the support stakes and prevented those bridge supports from failing. The group on the bridge quickly continued across. But the boards proved as treacherous to the Scout as to the Horror Stalker, and Dremnin fell through the bridge and dangled by the rope tied to the little girl, Hannah. Suulin the Troubador grabbed Hannah, and together the two females helped pull the Scout back up to the bridge. This happened again twice more as the bridge was crossed, but Vridich saved the pair in the end by using the Krillra to grasp the rope between Dremnin and Hannah as they fell, and carried them safely to the opposite side. Their miserable luck was proving to make this assault so far a more harrowing experience than expected for one and all.
Once all were safely on the opposite side of the chasm, Vridich used his controlled Krillra to fly and scout out the land before them. They had been told that the total distance they needed to cover was approximately a quarter mile, but as the Krillra scouted the terrain, it was clear that they would find no shelter from the worms if they ran on foot to the opposite side. The cave at the halfway point was spotted, and a brief look inside saw old bones scattered about the entrance. It was easy to see why this path was so perilous, for there appeared to be no safe way across. Vridich took the Krillra to the opposite side of the plateau and spotted the entrance they were seeking between two large red obelisks. While he scouted the ground ahead, the group discussed how best to cross, and Dremnin suggested the best way across was for Vridich to have his Krillra carry them all to the lair entrance, as the attack of that one controlled beast had been almost enough by itself to kill the Nethermancer.
So it was that each being in turn was carried to the side of the plateau where the lair entrance awaited them, except for Dremnin, whom the Krillra deposited at the cave half-way across the plain. Dremnin immediately understood and went inside the cave to search. He found the shriveled body of Baran Kuyu resting in a fetal position, wearing his leather armor and weapons. A quick search of the body revealed no essential equipment other than his dwarven sword, a sling and a pouch of stones. On the walls of the cave Dremnin found writings in blood. First was an apology to his son, which the scout memorized so that he could give it to Thorin later. Also, he found mention of what the tribal leader had seen from his position at the halfway point… a two headed construct of some sort that came and went with impunity. Now secure in the knowledge that the cave held nothing more for them, Dremnin took the dwarf’s weapons and went to the entrance to watch for Vridich to come and get him.
When the Krillra spotted Dremnin, Vridich had the beast deposit the scout near one obelisk . He had seen that Luck and Skram had concealed themselves nearby, but without any way to camouflage himself, Dremnin chose to try and stay out of sight and not compromise his friends’ hiding place. But alas, just as crossing the bridge had been made difficult by failure to move with caution, so it was that Dremnin failed to keep completely out of sight. One of the Krillra dove down to attack him, and the scout gave ground to better position himself to get assistance. The attack was as bad on him as it had been for Vridich, and the human swung his mareka as best he could. But with its attention fixed on the scout, the worm was surprised when Skram and Luck leaped out of hiding and struck it hard blows, damaging its wing joint and wounding it grievously. Then it was that the newly arrived Suulin rained pain down on the flying worm with her bolas, driving it up the hill and away from the name givers.
Soon the whole group had made their way safely to the entrance to the lair, and Vridich released his control over the captive Krillra. With the Nethermancer back in his own body, and the party now safely across the plain, they lit lanterns and headed down the steps into the lair. At the foot of the stairs they found a shallow stream of what appeared to be blood, flowing into corridors to the right and left of them. Suulin went to the left and found what appeared to be a small drain pool. But as soon as the rest stepped up to examine the stream and what lay ahead of them, shouts of alarm came from the right, and they saw several bulbous men running to attack them. The attack was joined, with Skram and Urgral moving to accept combat down the right hallway, which led back to a larger fountain of blood.
As the fighters began their engagement to the right, out of the darkness from the main hallway ahead of the stairs came a massive human, covered in hide armor and carrying footman’s shield and a broadsword. The group’s Swordmaster immediately saw the challenge and ran forward to aggressively engage this new threat, dealing out damage until a wild, ferocious human figure charged out of the darkness and got behind him. The attacks of the new threat resulted in Luck taking two vicious hits that dropped his bleeding and unconscious body to the ground, while Dremnin and Suulin succeeded in taking down the ferocious human. But the threats did not end there, for suddenly, arising from the large pool of blood in the main room came a two-headed construct, running straight towards the group.
Suulin saw the danger to Luck, and she began to utter Arcane Mutterings, which succeeded in confusing both remaining defenders and caused them to withdraw temporarily, allowing Drenin and herself the chance to drag Luck’s body back to relative safety. Meanwhile, back in the corridor to the left, Fafnir, Skram, Urgral and Vridich successfully dealt with the threat from the numerous bulbous attackers. This melee was actually going in the group’s favor, and a spirit dart from the Nethermancer succeeded in inflicting so much damage that the skull of one of the bulbous men exploded. It seemed to have no effect on the minions’ morale, so the fight continued. The group’s fighters succeeded in finishing the bulbous men off at last, and just in the nick of time to turn and help face the two awful remaining defenders of the lair. With numbers now on the side of the heroes, these two horror minions were quickly surrounded and defeated, leaving the chambers ahead of them unoccupied.
A search of the rooms revealed nothing of interest, only a lever hidden on the wall next to the largest blood pool. When the group was rested and assembled, Dremnin threw the lever and watched as the blood drained out of the pool. When the blood was completely drained, a stairway was revealed at the bottom leading down, and the group moved cautiously down into a new level. The stone steps led down to a paved entry area, facing a huge crater lined with skulls that poured what appeared to be blood down some 30 feet below. Dremnin suddenly noticed that his little girl Hannah appeared to be sick, and she began to retch violently.
As she moved toward the pool, Dremnin stopped her and held her close, but from her mouth gushed a viscous mass far greater that the volume of the little girl’s body. As it flowed out of Hannah, it began to show signs that it was in fact a living being and not just vomit. “KILL IT… KILL IT”, the scout screamed to his friends and they began to attack what seemed to one and all to be a Horror.
Many blows rained down on the hideous form that emerged from the girl, but it was not enough to kill the creature before it slid down the slopes of the pool and disappeared into the bloody mass at the bottom. Urgral had to be restrained from trying to follow it and finish it off. With Hannah now unconscious, Dremnin lifted her small, limp body and carried her as the group made their way along an uncertain path. Using his scouting abilities, Dremnin repeatedly pointed out the true path towards their destination… the Nethermancer Selenys.
They wound their way downwards along narrow cave passages, finding a large stash of provisions in one antechamber they moved through. But the scout’s senses told him their desired path lay ahead, and all followed the path down to at last come upon the base level of the blood pool… the same pool into which the Horror fled when it left poor Hannah. The pool at this level was bordered by rough walls, and across from the landing where they stood was what appeared to be the columned entrance to a temple of some sort. It was not visible from the top of the pool, but only from this point of view. They began to study how to get to the temple entrance…
To be continued…
Dremnin, Scout Adept