The party camped for the night in the underground ruin that they fortified for safety. When they awoke, they heard Jythar whisper to them, “hold friends. I have found you.” Then he became visible allowing the invisibility spell that Hankala taught him to expire. Agrail immediately showed Jythar the crocodile necklace he made, boasting about his experience defeating the albino crocodile. Trannis, in turn, showed Jythar the ring that he found, and the wizard was able to use his art to read magic and find small runes inside the ring that said, “Bounder.” Excitedly, Trannis tried it out. He put the ring on and tried to jump across the room. He was surprised to feel his body lurch forward nearly slaming into the eastern wall, but he was able to tumble and use his phenomenal dexterity to position his legs properly so that he could bounce off and back to his feet. Trannis, decided to keep the ring, but he offered the group the gold bracelet he had found earlier, which he wore as a necklace since it was way to big for his diminutive form. The party did not argue, perhaps thinking that a happy halfling would be a less curious and annoying halfling.
The party continued through rough tunnels and found themselves at another small cavern. In the ground, Trannis, scouting ahead stealthfully, saw three spears set up in a tripod formation with a skull of sorts atop the tripod. He carefully crept forward and saw that the skull resembled some type of large feline creature, lion, tiger or pantheresque. The rest of the group pressed forward and examined the situation more carefully. The cleric felt that this marker did not hold religious significance while both Jythar and Agrail believed that the tripod was a tribal marker of sorts, perhaps marking territory or serving as some sort of warning. After careful investigation, Trannis detected some barely noticeable, older tracks moving off to the south. After careful consideration, the group decided to continue east as Pingtu suggested so that they would not stray from their task, finding “The Iron Warrior”, the “Gauntlet” and ultimately the trading city of
Proceeding cautiously, with Trannis in the lead, the group heard a growling from above, and as they took up defensive positions, a large panther-like creature with two long, toothy ended tentacles jumped down from above right before Jythar, who was making the most noise as the party tried to move stealthily through the Underdark tunnels. Trannis’ quick reflexes gave him the opportunity to strike the beast first. He took a running jump and using the magic from his new ring, he flipped over the displacer beast, driving his short sword, “Demonshard”, deep into the back of the menacing creature even though the creature seemed to shimmer and shift its position. The blow injured the creature badly. Then, Erebus, the cleric stepped up and inflicted a nasty wound upon the feline. As the monster howled in pain, the party saw a second of the beasts jump down to engage Agrail, the fighter. Jythar, afraid he might be the next displacer beast victim, moved back, but the long tentacles still slapped at his head. Agrail thrust his shield out to block the flailing tentacles, diverting one so that it only grazed the retreating wizard. The party took some minor wounds, but was able to defeat these foes rather quickly. After the fight, Trannis climbed up the walls and found the displacer beasts’ lair. In it he found a number of gnawed bones, rags and an old purse with 40 sp and 20 gp. He dropped it down to the group, and then they party continued on their journey.
As the group made their way towards Mezra’kal, they started to smell a bitter sulfurous stench Jythar was able to determine that the sulfurous mist ahead could indeed be detrimental to their health. He suggested that the companions place moistened cloth over their mouths and noses. This trick gave them an advantage as they traversed the mist filled tunnel ahead. Additionally, Trannis asked Agrail if he could ride on his shoulders so that he could rise above the heavy fumes. Agrail assented, and hoisted the small humanoid atop his shoulders. Moving quickly through the mist, all but Erebus withstood the noxious fumes. Erebus felt the burning of his lungs and he coughed horribly as they emerged from the mist. The group paused for a short rest so that Erebus could recover. All the while, Trannis contemplated lighting the sulfurous mist on fire even though Jythar explained that an open source of fire could possible explode violently causing a tremendous, certainly fatal blowback. The group scooped up the halfling and carried him with them for a little while to avoid any further mishap.
Within a few hours, Trannis spied a dark iron statue of a Duergar with a great axe blocking their progress. The group conferred and believed that this must have been the “Iron Warrior” that Pingtu spoke about. With bravado, Agrail stepped forward and when he was 10’ from the statue, an axe blade slashed at him. Luckily he was aware enough to dodge the blow. As Agrail stood motionless in place, Jythar and Tranis tried to inspect the statue from a short distance. Trannis could not see any mechanical way to disarm the “Iron Warrior”, but he did see a plaque at the base of the statue. It had strange writing on it, but he could not understand it. Jythar took out some adder tongue and rose water, and began a short ritual. Within 10 minutes the words on the plaque made perfect sense to Jythar. It read
Ripped from my mother’s womb,
Burned and beaten,
I dress soldiers, and kill them too.
What am I?
The soldier, Agrail, and the intelligent wizard both knew the answer. Jythar pronounced “dor” the Duergar word for “iron” and a magical voice from the statue spoke saying, ”Welcome home. You may pass.” Relieved for a few moments the party moved past the “Iron Warrior” and down another tunnel. Their relief turned to apprehension as they realized that they were now approaching what Pingtu called “The Gauntlet.”
At another intersection that branched north, east and south, the party stopped to investigate and decide their fate. They saw that the north passage opened into a cavern complex that was blocked by a 10’ crevice. Jythar cast light on a small stone and Trannis moved forward dropping it down the crevice. A number of seconds passed before he could see and hear the stone hit bottom…over 120’ down. They also saw some green substance in distinct piles on the cavern floor on the other side of the crevice. Jythar watched and saw the green substance drip from the ceiling above. Then he proclaimed, “Green slime…don’t let it touch you.” Jythar tried to convince the group to continue in this direction since they could see what dangers lay ahead. He was suspicious of the east passage that was a cavernous area that seemed too quiet, and he posited that the danger they knew was certainly better than the danger they didn’t know, pointing to the south.
Trannis, not really listening to the wizard, decided to scout the south to see what danger lurked in that direction. The party followed, and Jythar took up the rear and rolled his eyes. The south passage was a twisting tunnel bending south then east then south again. Trannis went ahead, and saw that the tunnel opened into a cavern with a 10’ by 20’ pool of water directly where the tunnel opened into the cavern. Trannis looking to the ceiling to avoid ambush, did not see a grey ooze that emerged from the pool to attack him, but his agility saved him, as he jumped back just in time to avoid the ooze. He fired a stone at the beast damaging it badly. Then Agrail tried to throw a huge rock at it, but his rock hit off of one of the tunnel walls and missed its mark. Erebus stepped forth and fired his Lance of Faith, while Jythar’s Ray of Frost hit the creature and froze it in place, so that Trannis’ next sling attack shattered the creature utterly.
Trannis bounded over the water with little effort, and he moved forward into another cavern. In the distance, he could see two very well made, nearly life like statues of menacing stone beasts. Jythar also saw them, but he could not discern the real danger; perhaps they were more statues like the “Iron Warrior” or maybe they were traps? As Trannis crept forth, the statues begin to move toward Trannis, and he shouted out, “They are moving.” The threat turned out to be Gargoyles living in the Underdark. A longer more dangerous fray ensued, as two more Gargoyles attacked from the darkness to the east. Trannis did massive damage against one, but he got cut off from the others, and one of the Gargoyles ripped into his armor and flesh with its powerful claw. Agrail stepped up to protect the rogue and fight in front of him. Erebus also stepped up and inflicted damaging wounds against another target in addition to healing Trannis. Jythar helped Trannis by casting Thunderwave, which killed one of the Gargoyles while sending another one back 15’. Erebus, Trannis and Agrail fought valiantly and vanquish the stony menaces, so that the party could take a short rest so that everyone could bandage wounds and revive themselves.
Nearing what the party hoped would be the end of “The Gauntlet” the group happened upon a passageway obscured by webs. Trannis yelled out, spooked by movement in the web, and rock encrusted spiders began to attack the party. Jythar’s fireball burnt many and decimated their web,but the fight continued. One spider nearly caught Jythar, Erebus and Agrail in a web, but each of the adventurers was able to avoid the sticky strands. Then Erebus moved around Agrail and stepped up to unleash the fury of negative energy. Intent on delivering his deadly blast, Erebus could not defend against one of the rock spiders. The spider bite broke through his armor and he felt the pain of the spider venom course through his body. Surviving the bite, Erebus let loose his powerful burst and killed a number of the dangerous pests, injuring his comrades in the process. After dispatching the spiders, the party rested once again and tended to their wounds. Erebus uttered a prayer to Fate and smiled a devilish grin.
Moving ever forward, Trannis heard the scraping of claws on rock. Jythar decided to send forth his owl familiar, and deprive himself of his own sight so that he could see through his owl. In this cavern that conveniently had an exit to the east (the direction of Mezra’kal), the owl spied three hook horrors, hulking 8’ tall brutes with claw like arms and a dangerous beak. Poking his head around a corner, Trannis started the battle with a sneak attack that hit the mark. The wounded horror turned and charged the half covered halfling rogue, one of his huge claws gouging into the rogue’s armor and flesh, while the other clashed against the rock wall. Agrail stepped up to meet the beast and another that moved towards the party, but he could not connect with his axe. Jythar awaited for a third beast to move near the battle, and then he launched a fireball through the owl to kill one of the horrors and injure the other two (reading rules after I realized that the owl can only deliver touch attacks, but I liked that the players came up with the idea to use the owl so no harm). Erebus moved next to one of the hook horrors and inflicted wounds; then on his next turn he fired his Lance of Faith, and with help from Agrail, the creature fell dead. With only one of the beasts still standing, Agrail shifted towards it. The horror attacked Agrail with all its fury. Two of its nasty hooks sliced into Agrail, and the creature lifted him off the ground and shook him, doing massive damage (about 30 points). To save Agrail, and end the battle, Jythar fired a magic missle at the horror, and it dropped Agrail and fell to the cavern floor, dead. The party had made it through “The Gauntlet” and now they realized that they were on the threshold of Mezra’kal.