What Lies Beneath
This adventure began following the partial success of the group led by Toshiro in leading a caravan past the Gar-bears Orc settlement of Blukh Ukh into Promise Junction. This was followed by the raising of Nyla and the defeat of her former master, Turgan Khan. It involved Shale, High Priestess of Perasin, and Solidus, High Priest of Varice, venturing into the tunnels beneath the village to stop the imminent incursion of forces dedicated to Kiaransalee.
After her raising in the city of Nazivonema, Nyla returned with Siege and Stom through the Red Dragon Inn transport system. She was examined by Lennoy, the village medic, and healed by Solidus, but was still not at full strengh. She was subsequently filled in on events during her absence by Klaven.
After lunch that day, Toshiro approached Bramus, captain of the village guard, to ask about accompanying the group going underground. Although he was reticent about letting another priest leave the city, Bramus referred him to Shale. The Dwarf was working at Rackem's forge along the road being built south of town, and she saw the wisdom of his joining. Bramus was still concerned about having to rely on Rin, the priestess of Losyera, and other unknown quantities such as Dax, the new priestess of Sedric; Shmo, the inexperienced priest of Perasin; and Al'Hana, Solidus' acolyte. However, since this was Shale's and Solidus' responsibility, once the Halfling agreed he acquiesced. After he left, Shale and Rakeor invited Isu, who had helped her return from Automata, to join the team as well.
Around the same time, the entertainment contingent -- Gilbert, Pikilily, Makoto and Duper -- came down to the RDI common room. Duper was quite happy to see Stom, and she glomped him, although he was embarrassed, since he was still nursing a crush on Nyla. The Orcish bard offered to get him his favorite dessert, denzelian spice pudding, and he agreed that if she could get him some he would be open to the possibility of becoming a couple. Makoto suggested to Gilbert that the troupe should perform a special version of the tale of Turgan's defeat that night. Meanwhile, Emi, the town's messenger, asked Bardo to take over her duties while she was serving as the group's scout. Bardo agreed, as she was waiting for word from Zammo, her friend from Rogariel, regarding whether he would join her in Promise Junction.
After things settled down, Stom went to Shale to officially ask to join the team. She agreed, but denied a similar request from Pete, much to both half-Orcs' consternation. Shale further conferred with the other temple denizens, asking her chief lieutenant, Sato, to aid the town along with Shmo in her absence.
Just before dinner, Toshiro, Klaven and Solidus went to the temple of Gruumsh to call on High Priest Shazbot. Solidus also returned the pouch containing the Eye of Gruumsh which Pikilily had lifted -- although that was unknown to the Halfling -- reaffirming the cooperation between their temples. They also asked about their knowledge of the tunnels, and Shazbot admitted that there was a sealed entrance beneath his temple. Solidus mentioned the demon roach incident at the prospective site of his own temple, and the Orc mentioned that the small temple of Hruggek behind his might be in league with the insects. He further mentioned the temple of Perasin, and Shazbot said that given that he is a god of war, like Gruumsh, the two would always be rivals, but would work together against the Drow, a greater enemy. They went on to discuss tactics, and Shazbot offered the services of as many Orcish warriors as needed, along with his underling Domjot.
At dinner, Toshiro filled in Shale, and tactics for fighting demons were discussed. Shale accepted the proffered aid from the temple of Gruumsh, but reminded Solidus of his oath. While the party's troupe performed at the RDI, Duper performed at the Blood, Bone and Brew, where Toshiro met with Shazbot and the chief of the Orcs, Dadbod. The chief questioned the need of many Orc warriors to fight the female-led Drow, and offers to send only five warriors along with Domjot. Toshiro met with the latter at the temple, and the Orc seemed pleased to finally be able to use Healing spells.
As she listened to Gilbert tell of Turgan's defeat once more, Nyla conferred with the other warriors about what to do when Tara Goldmoon, the druid of nearby Eskalikor and Turgan's friend, discovers that she's still alive. While Klaven expressed his belief that the Khan would be true to his word, Nyla pointed out that the deception might offer an excuse for him to reassert his claim. Eckhorn suggested that they appeal to Rodney, Klaven's old friend who also lived in the wood, which Nyla agreed to consider. She then turned to thoughts of her trusty flail, lost in the battle against the achaierai, and at Leeva's urging decided to see about getting a job at the RDI. Jambanov accepted her offer, as Leeva and Kringa would then get some time off.
The next morning, Alvin and Isu made plans to study spells at the library, while the priests discussed taking care of the village in the absences of Shale, Solidus and Toshiro. Talk turned to the demon roaches, and Chalcedony, Solidus' partner in building their temple and the town arbiter, mentioned saying a benediction over the site daily without incident. She further suggested that perhaps they were drawn by magic, so the priests went out and Solidus cast flaming sphere, but no roaches appeared. However, when he invoked his deity one called down from a nearby tree. The priests dithered about what to do, and the roach disappeared.
Those who would be going underground met and discussed strategy for spellcasting. Talk turned to convincing the Orcs to listen to anyone in the party, and Stom suggested that a display of power would help. Solidus believed the lightning power granted by his deity would be sufficiently impressive, but it would only work on a creature. To that end, he went with a small group to try and capture a jek, but the only one they saw ran off. Domjot summoned several small animals, and finally Nyla was able to trap a wolverine, which they brought to the temple of Gruumsh. The Orcish warriors who were assigned to accompany the party were gathered, but Solidus' spell failed to kill the wolverine. As he lamented his failure, several demon roaches roasted the animal.
While the others went back to the RDI, Tammra's canine companion Shadow spoke to the demon roaches. He told the witch that they had come through some sort of gate beneath the temple of Perasin, and were drawn to magical energy. At dinner, Chalcedony suggested to Solidus that perhaps the wolverine was stronger because it had been summoned by the priest of a god of war. Tammra arrived and filled the priests in on what she'd learned. The Dwarves had one last ale-drinking session with Eckhorn before following the rest to bed.
Into the tunnels
The next morning, Solidus asked Toshiro to use dark fire to perform his ritual, which was successful. Once everyone gathered in the common room, the group went out to the town annex and into the tunnel below. The group paused at the boarded-up passage near the stairs, and Klaven used his axe to break through. Alvin tested his new spell, ice knife on a rat, freezing it, and the Dwarf killed and collected it.
The passage beyond was smaller than the tunnel and roughly hewn, with wooden torch brackets along the walls and water dripping along its length. Emi and Rin scouted ahead until spotting a faint reddish-orange glow in the distance. As Shale paused to get her bearings, a voice called out, again foretelling doom. Three demon roaches stood in the group's path, and described a room ahead with many Orcish bones. As they let the party pass, Stom mouthed off, and one of them set his hair on fire, and Klaven killed it.
The party reached the chamber, which was indeed filled with the bones of Orcs and a couple inches of water. Domjot declared it was the storied site of Tazhbalakh's Last Stand, where the last remaining Grazhnakh in the province fell to soldiers of the White Army. While the other Orcs set about desecrating the site, Klaven found a magical spear, which he believed to have a rune of the White Army. Shale located a trap door in the floor, but it could not be budged, so Isu reduced it, revealing a shaft with rungs to climb down.
Toshiro, Emi and Quellit, a member of the town guard who knew the tunnels, climbed down the 220-foot deep shaft, finding nothing at the bottom but the water that had flowed in from above. Two tunnels led out, south and west. Klaven handed the spear to Stom so he could climb down, and Stom passed it on to Chazbar, one of the chipmunk Orcs. Solidus asked to be lowered using the rope, but Rakeor lost his grip, causing Solidus to fall partway down. With nobody else to help, Shirella had to command the other Orcs to help lower him the rest of the way. Once all the others were down, Chazbar refused, then ran away after Rakeor threatened him, taking the magic spear with him.
The group proceeded down the south tunnel, but found it blocked about 120 yards down. Toshiro attempted to create a door, but the blockage was too thick. The party retreated and tried the west passage, which continued about 200 yards before ending in another north-south passage. While Emi saw a flickering light to the south, Rin noted a door to the north before the passage began sloping downward. A Dark Elven rune on the door read "stick-in-the-mud", so the group ignored it and went south.
After proceeding perhaps 150 yards, the group came across a chamber, decorated with columns. The light seemed to emanate from the top of one of the columns, matching the continual light from the paint dropped through the crack in the temple above. As Solidus entered the room, two of the columns came to life and began advancing toward the party, cheered on by several demon roaches. The battle was over fairly swiftly, although one of the orcs, Zotkat, was knocked out and several of the party's weapons were destroyed.
Shale questioned one of the roaches, who said his home was beyond a door at the top of a set of stairs on the east wall, but it disappeared when Solidus and Alvin threatened it. Emi sensed a trap, and when Solidus slung a bullet at the door it emitted sparks. Rin attempted to dispel the trap, but it was too powerful. Quellit suggested that the door would need to be destroyed, but nobody in the group had enough magical power to do so at that time. A second archway to the south was the group's next destination, and in the hallway beyond they discovered statues of both Kiaransalee and Lolth. Beyond that, on the walls and ceiling, were images of the undead, a sign that this was Kiaransalee's domain. While no magic was detected, the group decided to hold off on venturing further until they'd recovered, and so made camp in the hallway between the exit to the large room and the two statues.
Magical protections were put in place, healing spells were cast, and Rin set about using war paint to increase the defenses of the remaining orcs. A short time later, Tammra's glyph of warding was triggered by a demon roach. Before the rest of the party awakened, Shale entered the large chamber to pray, and in talking to another roach learned that they were indeed chaotic and had no love for orcs or for Solidus as a priest of Varice.
The Drow enclave
The group set off down the passage, and Domjot noted that such art had been present when the Chipmunk Orcs returned after the drow had desecrated Gruumsh's temple. Shadow also seemed to know something, but denied it when Tammra asked. Eventually, the passage led to a large, circular room with a stairwell in the middle of the floor. While the room appeared to be empty, that was an illusion, as there were skeletons positioned all around the outer wall, which attacked when the room was entered. The illusion was broken for most when they took a step into the room, but Tammra was struck in the head by one of the skeletons and believed that the skeletons were actually the illusion.
Solidus was able to drive off several skeletons, and battle was joined. Isu cast enlarge on one of the orcs, Rokbot, but it did little good as he was knocked out twice. While the orcs struggled, the skeletons were no match for the party, which escaped with only minor injuries. Shale neutralized the remaining undead, and the party took some time to thoroughly pulverize the bones.
After Klaven chopped it down with his axe, the group proceeded through a door on the west side of the room. There they found a passage, with doors on either side and another passage at the far end. Emi heard scratching sounds behind the northern door, and footsteps and growling noises from the southern door, labeled "Priestess". Unable to learn anything further, the group prepared to open the south door, which turned out to be some kind of chapel. Searching the room turned up several magical candles and a ring hidden within a wardrobe closet, among other valuable items.
As the looting continued, Quellit and Stom heard noises from the other passage, and the group positioned themselves for an encounter. Isu cast grease on the floor of the intersection, and a bugbear slipped on it, sliding past the group, as a second one laughed at him. As the group moved forward, the two bugbears quickly retreated. Toshiro commented that Dark Elves often keep such creatures as slaves, so perhaps they were getting close. The party decided to continue to try to explore the area behind the electrified door, and moved north.
A short distance up the corridor, the party found a door leading west, and Emi investigated it. The half-Elf began to feel weak, and she and others began to smell something odd. Something then slithered past Emi's leg, and when Shale came forward it attacked her as well. Isu identified the creature as a mustard jelly, and somewhat reluctantly suggested attacking it with fire. Emi pulled out a flask of Greek fire, which was used to engulf the corridor while the group retreated back to the priestly chamber. Shirella mused that the events reminded her of the stories of the underground labyrinths used by Morjec to trap adventurers.
The group brainstormed how to eliminate the creature before deciding to attempt to bypass it through the door across the hall. After Emi examined it, Klaven opened the door to find another room, which appeared to be a bedroom. Three hamsters sat in a cage on a table, but the most interesting item was a small bookshelf beside the bed with a dozen or so books. Most of them seemed historical or cultural in nature, but one glowed upon magic detection.
After general looting was done, Emi opened the door across the room from the entrance. Immediately, the party was hit with a fireball, taking out several party members. A female Dark Elf then warned everyone still able to hear to leave or die. Klaven slammed the door and the group retreated to the chapel to perform healing. Rin confirmed that Tammra was dead, and her dog was nowhere to be seen, while Shale was brought back to consciousness and the other mages stabilized.
Unfortunately, the Dark Elf followed them with two bugbears in tow. Stom, who was standing guard, warned the rest and commanded the orcs to hold her. While Klaven, Toshiro and Rakeor charged into the hallway, the bugbears dispatched Nazdaq and Rokbot. This allowed the Drow to flee while the others were occupied with the bugbears. Solidus took down one with a fist of faith, while Hazmat slew the other one.
The party decided to depart the underground entirely to recover, so they carried their comrades back the way they came. Shale suggested investigating the door that they suspected led up to the temple of Gruumsh, and asked the two remaining Orcish escorts to open it. Both were killed by a fire trap, rendering the area clear, and a stairway was found that led upwards almost to the surface, ending in a small platform with a large reinforced door. Domjot warned that there would be guards outside, so the party made camp on the landing. Rin sent a dream vision to Bramus explaining their situation, and the group settled down for the night.
The next morning, Emi went with Toshiro and Quellit to climb back up the long shaft, but fell and injured her ankle, continuing her run of bad luck. The healers did their work, and the group prepared to enter the area beneath the temple of Gruumsh. Isu cast reduce on the door, but it only led to a storeroom containing a number of demon roaches. The insects offered to help the group kill off the lawful Orcs, but some party members wished to destroy them instead.
After some bickering, Stom decided to break down the next door, swallowing a Battle Snack first. This door led into what seemed to be a planning room. This time, the group dragged Emi to listen at the next door, and she heard the shouts of Orcs behind it. Stom attempted to break this one down as well, but injured his shoulder in the process of failing. Klaven began pounding on the door to no avail, so Toshiro cast stone shape on the wall around it, revealing the Orcish guards beyond.
On the surface
As Shale and her group explored the tunnels, Bramus was approached by the leader of the caravan about their return trip. He suggested traveling through Fokhus Gru to the north, but the driver balked at such a dangerous trip. Bramus went on to consult Nyla, who was working as a barmaid to earn some money, and Ishmakha about the issue. All agreed that the shortage of manpower was an issue, and that perhaps Reckem, a Dwarf with the village guard, might approach his fellow road workers about escort duty. When the entertainment crew came downstairs, Ishmakha asked Duper for information on the road to Fokhus Gru. Bramus suggested that she ask some of the Orcs from the Blood, Bone & Brew to do escort duty as well.
That evening, a group of five Humans arrived from the east, and Makoto mused that they appeared to be from the desert. One of them made his way to the bar, and Lily struck up a conversation. When she mentioned that Gilbert Sullivan was playing tonight, the man lit up with recognition. He introduced himself as Tecrados of the Riders of Ramond, who had arrived escorting two clothing merchants from Sandpit. Bramus quickly came over, inquiring about them possibly escorting the caravan back to Vamnik Outpost, and mentioning how dangerous it would be piqued the man's interest. He agreed to discuss it with his companions and give his answer in the morning.
After Duper made her announcement at the BB&B, Chazbar entered carrying the magical spear. After a brief conversation with Shazbot, the two left the bar together. Later, while the entertainers performed, Nyla, Reckem and a pair of hobgoblins were on patrol when they heard a commotion near the hobgoblin shantytown. When Nyla and one of the hobs investigated, an eight-legged giant sheep ran past them with a bloody squirrel in its mouth.
The next morning, Lily and Makoto made plans to try and pickpocket the Riders of Ramond. Bramus came downstairs and heard Nyla's report, then asked the kitsune to help track the giant ram. She went out with Nyla, and tracked the creature to the same patch of woods where Mazhik's body had been found. After that, she regrouped with Lily outside the RDI. Then, having finished her performance, Duper also reported to Bramus, and also spotted the two rogues, who shooed her away. Shazbot then entered and told Bramus that he had had Chazbar executed for deserting his mission, and that he would give the spear back to Stom when the party returned.
After breakfast, Hagan, the leader of the Riders, visited the general store to get supplies. Makoto provided a distraction, giving Lily a chance to cut his purse. The rogues split the booty and vacated the main room, but the rider quickly noticed his missing funds, returning to the inn to announce the theft. He remembered seeing Makoto outside, and Bramus quickly had the two rogues hauled back downstairs. He then had Ishmakha search their rooms, but none of the stolen gold was found. While Bramus and Brozhin paid him back out of their own pocket, the rider conferred with his fellows, then firmly rejected the offer to guard the caravan.
As the rider left the inn, the rogues tried to talk him out of it, but he was having none of it. The two retreated to the inn and asked Sku what he would do now. The caravan leader answered that it seemed he might have to go through Fokhus Gru after all. Hagan asked Bardo to have a message delivered to Sandpit informing them that the Riders would return, but the mage appealed to his vanity in a further effort to get them to reconsider. Hagan agreed to discuss things further with the other Riders.
When Lily returned to the common room, Bramus informed her that she and Makoto had been suspended by Mayor Labeese until they could convince Chalcedony of their contrition. Lily immediately went to visit the arbiter, who first warned her about rumors regarding attempts to create a thieves' guild. Chalcedony further told her that her main concern was the reputation of Promise Junction, and so if the rogues made a sincere effort to convince the Riders to stay, the suspension would be lifted. Lily gave Makoto the news, then went to talk to Gilbert. She found him at Maud Frickert's farm, and he agreed to give a special performance, and the two discussed trying to convince some of the more upstanding citizens of the town to help. One of these was Brozhin, who suggested that he accompany them back to Vamnik Outpost. Meanwhile, Makoto sought out Sato, which didn't go quite as well, as the unholy warrior chased her off. Gilbert's performance turned out to be a rousing success, and the Riders decided to escort the caravan after all.
Siege and Nyla constructed a trap in an effort to catch the giant sheep, using a raccoon purchased from the farm of Dreek the goblin. However, instead of catching the ram, the trap caught the giant green weasel that had also recently plagued the village. They secured the animal in a crate and brought it to the auxiliary building, then informed Bramus. Later, Oashirt gathered Makoto and Lily to discuss their misadventure and Chalcedony's edict. Lily threatened to go rogue with her pickpocketing, while Oashirt tried to tamp things down.
The next morning, while a group of orcs staggered in to try and get hired for caravan escort duty, Bramus told the group of Rin's dream vision. He sent Bardo upstairs to get Duper, then asked her to inform Shazbot of the situation. He then told Eckhorn to take over while he and Nyla visited Tula, the ranger who lived up at the lake to the north, to ask about the weasel, leaving Eckhorn in charge. The veteran expressed concern about Emi coming through the tunnel, and so asked Siege to go into the tunnel to ensure her safe arrival. He agreed, but asked for magical protection, securing the assistance of Bardo and Dax.
At the temple of Gruumsh, Duper was escorted to the basement by the acolyte Maglok, who explained that she would have to win her way into the inner sanctum. Instead, she chose to wait just outside and attempt to convince the guards from there. They instead seemed fired up, hoping to show their prowess to the bard.
After the wall was opened by Toshiro, the guards prepared for a fight, but Shirella tried to send them away to inform Shazbot of their arrival. One of them ran off, as did Duper, who was caught up in the spell. Alvin then put two more to sleep, then Toshiro used Gaiya's power to hold the last one while Klaven knocked him out. The party came upstairs, and leaving Domjot to explain things to Shazbot, the group headed back to the RDI. Shale and Rakeor brought Emi and Tammra's body to Lennoy, more healing was performed, and Toshiro went to get the trio waiting for Emi.
Solidus gave their report to Eckhorn, who suggested he wait for Bramus to return to explain in more detail. The guard captain returned shortly thereafter with Nyla and Tula, and suggested a full meeting of the village staff that afternoon. Makoto visited the weasel in the stockade, where she and Tula discussed the creature's possible origins.
The meeting took place after lunch, and Isu said she would contact an acquaintance in Sigil with more knowledge about Dark Elves. The group discussed raising Tammra, and the priests would prepare to speak to her in the morning, while Rin would further be ready to speak to the weasel. Bramus told everyone to spread the word about the weasel's capture, but not to mention events at Gruumsh's temple.
That afternoon, Shale, Rakeor and Stom returned to Perasin's temple, where Sato and Pete filled them in on Duper's dealings with the Chipmunk Orcs. Stom donated the magical spear to hang on the wall of the temple as its first trophy. Meanwhile, Lily checked out Tammra's flat and found her cart behind the building. She picked the lock on it, and later returned with Elka to ensure nobody would disturb her while she ransacked the cart. Emi was similarly busy lifting everything of value from her body.
That night, Gilbert used his performance to try and convince Tula not to reveal Nyla's status to Tara, but Lily crashed into Nyla, spilling a bunch of drinks on a table of mercenaries. While getting another round, Nyla asked Jambanov about them, and the minotaur mentioned that they'd posted on the town message board looking for contracts. The two agreed they looked somewhat shady, and hoped they weren't spies from the capital.
After her performance at the BB&B, Duper was approached by Shazbot to repair the damage to the area below the temple of Gruumsh. Concurrently, the roguish types met in Tammra's flat, where Emi again took her fellow thieves to task over the botched job that morning. They discussed their next moves, deciding they needed some ways to make some coin, a more secure safe house, and a cover for their activities. The subject of trying to recruit a priest of Helandra, the patroness of thieves, was also broached. They also set some official rules for the guild moving forward.
Cast of characters
This adventure is being run by John Proulx. Below is a list of characters who have been involved at one point or another:
- Alvin - run by Phil Vlasak
- Chazbar - NPC
- Domjot - NPC
- Emi - run by Shelley Proulx
- Hazmat - NPC
- Isu - NPC
- Klaven - run by Syd Howard
- Nazdaq - NPC
- Quellit - NPC
- Rakeor - run by Shelley Proulx
- Rin - NPC
- Rokbot - NPC
- Shale - run by Lou McLeary
- Shirella - NPC
- Solidus - run by Phil Vlasak
- Stom - run by Shelley Proulx
- Tammra - run by Lou McLeary
- Toshiro - run by Syd Howard
- Zotkat - NPC
|Guards and Wards
|What Lies Beneath
|Into the Woods