5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Four

Dain - Triple Fork

Cart tracks...cart tracks. Carts in a mine...carts to carry ore...to carry gems. Essithea, your gems are twisted roots and smooth-topped mushrooms, but these gems we seek here...they are unique as well...

Dain nodded to Annit, letting her know he understood what she had found. He was impressed by her ability to run down dark corridors without fear. She was either brave, naive, or the perfect combination of both. And as he thought about it, they all were naive in their own ways, though that was changing quickly.

"Tracks from carts. Hopefully, laden ones. Creaking wheels groaning with the weight of gems." He spoke in whispers, not wanting to alert the creature or the voice beyond it. "And as for whatever is at the tip of that tail? Sometimes...evading a foe is as good as defeating one."

Twisting around to face the others, he gestured with a pointed finger to the pathway with the cart tracks. Then he made the age-old gesture for silence. They must proceed quietly. Or as quietly as they were able. Their standards were fairly low.

Onwards.

<Stealth = 7>
<Perception = 15>
 

Metea

Villager
Metea: Triple Fork

Metea, for one, liked the idea.

She didn't particularly want to face down the... creature ahead. So, she'd 'roll her resilient sphere' along after the others.

The sphere itself didn't make any noise. Metea was light-footed... in this case... so perhaps the spell was rubbing off on her?

<Stealth=15>
 
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Otiroth

Villager
A nod- the tunnel with the cart tracks seemed a good idea indeed.

Were they gemstones? A fine twist to their quest. Slaves? A rescue would surely put them in favor with the Pitchlings, though it'd give them more folk to watch over.

A warcart of enemies? Best to know sooner rather than later!

Otiroth was inside an illusion. Were he inside an actual resilient sphere, he might've been quieter.

<Stealth check = 8>
 
There was no glory in seeking a battle without purpose. If the demons raised their claws against them, then they would fight, and to the death if the infernal creatures did not yield. But if there was no one to protect, even themselves, then Suru would not look kindly upon the battle. This was a quest for Kalair, not a quest of eradication.

But Carthum did wish to bring the matter of the demon infestation to his superiors at the church. It was not only his decision to make. They were all risking much, and in matters of their breaking of the law with the magic, all must be in agreement. That could wait until the walk back to the city. That could wait until they were certain they'd survived.

Carthum carried the dwarf carefully, and his preoccupation with making sure he did not step and trip in a cart wheel's furrow meant the half-orc... actually moved quite stealthily, for him!

<Stealth check w/ disadvantage= 19>
<religion check= 19>
 
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Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna grumbled a bit, but it was hard to say at what. Maybe it was just her hourly sneer.

She'd try to help mitigate the noise the group was making; stepping in tandem with those ahead of her, avoiding a stumble in the tracks... but it was probably a lost cause!

<Stealth=18>
 

97mg

Villager
Triple Fork

Annit’s footsteps are light as she inches forwards, following the tracks. Dain and Otiroth are not so silent, having bad luck with scattered coals underfoot at times, but for the most part, the group is quiet. Using as little leaking light as possible from Carthum's stone, the rogue leads the way.

It is not long before dim light once again bleeds into their space. This time from an opening ahead, to the right. Heat accompanies the gap, orange warmth spilling out and bringing a light sweat to Annit's youthful face.

But there is more than light and heat here. Insults are being exchanged in the background, words continuing to be spoken at quite some volume within a nearby space.

Annit motions for the group to stop, and points to her ear.

“Oh tell me again that story, how as punishment you are left behind, and not even able to rattle the cage. One, irrelevant, most expendable of fiends!”

Still in the common tongue, the dry chattery old voice adds in a mocking tone, “such an ugly sight to witness, you pitiful tool, come, snatch for me once more you slithering snot.”

A reply comes swift, in Infernal tongue, spoken with a seething lisp.

“Maaargaw. Yaf kary py. Na myde tapyw oar haf. Yaf weylv hafr yzyrlid vihw iw xe kidd ul xe tiqy, ducy xe oarqazzyl cyyewicy ul xe eflh sapil'w bysydrh kag. Nas shut zmiz kryizmdyww pafzm, haf dyqdyww wzrih! lyz py kiwc ul mydd’w myiz smudy haf vrh vorv trfpkdy.”

Those among you who speak Infernal would understand the words as, “Maaargaw. You bore me. No help comes for you. You spend your eternal days as a ball in a cage, like a forgotten keepsake in a puny woman's jewelry box. Now SHUT that breathless mouth, you legless stray! Let me bask in hell’s heat while you dry and crumble... Wait! I feel...”

Annit looks to Dain. Dare she take a peek?

<Infernal speakers can make an insight check if they wish. Moving past the gap would require a new stealth check. Map coming soon, just posting from mobile.>
 
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Dain - Four Sides

A split second to act. Less than that to consider the options. Whatever was beyond the gap probably knew they were there, they had stopped speaking so suddenly, in their strange infernal tongue. Spellcasters and demons. Spells took time, vocations and gestures. Death on the wings of arcane storms...

A devil's arse. Surprise is our only hope. Remember me, Essithea!

Dain glanced at Annit for the briefest of moments, and conveyed his opinion with one word. They needed more than just to peek. To run back the way they came was to inevitably encounter giant man-eating spiders. Or the slimy creature and its master. Or all of them at once. To run past the gap was to expose them to an attack to their flank, they would be like hapless deer running past a hunter's blind. Easy prey.

"Arse."

Surprise was their only hope, and if only to buy the group some time, Dain sprang forward into the room. He held his torch aloft, and his blade drew a wide arc as he prepared it. Torchlight glimmered off the keen edge. Let them see it!

"I am Darkspring! I keep no sacred fire, but I wield a blade of ancient fate!"

A flurry of images blasted through his mind, half-memories and half dreams. Banners atop battlements. Dark forests ablaze with consuming fire. Faces. Voices. His heart roared in his head.

<Charisma roll = 4>
 
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97mg

Villager
Grid of Pain

Annit gasped, reaching out a hand to grab for the ranger and plead for him to wait. Too late though! Dain has leaped through the opening with great manly exuberance and gusto!

“S**t,” the rogue whispers.

The Ranger’s eyes fall upon something of a great wide hallway, a lengthy cavern baking in subterranean heat. In a rough gridlike pattern, wide cracks upon the surface are home to orange and red coals, casting their light upwards like a scorching river, glowing, crackling and hissing. Sectioned by hot lines and angles, basalt has resisted against these seams of vastly more… flammable material, and stand firm, providing pathways and small bridges throughout the expanse.

Cages of iron, black and charred, lie in well-placed and neat rows as far as the eye can see, all two yards high and barely a yard across. Most of them are empty of life it appears, at first glance, stood upon their small islands of black.

But the horror does not end there. A tall and slippery looking figure, muscular in form yet almost translucent in the dark matter that shapes it... from the neck down, turns to stare at Dain. The face is almost reptilian in nature, like some twisted mage has stuck a crocodile’s head atop an oozy monstrous eel. It's jaw opens in surprise, but there is a surprise for the ranger too. Row upon row razor sharp teeth!

“Zrywweiwwyr!” It snarls, raising two distorted arms to reveal a pair of claws.

"You... are dead!" The creature adds in common.

Something moves off sharply to Dain’s right. Another of these disgusting beings appears to be arising from slumber!

Then, one final set of eyes moves to Dain’s unexpected arrival. But these are eyes without eyes. The empty orbits of a human skull, floating in the nearest cage. The ranger could almost swear that the dislodged head smiles at him, floating in the air without body attached. It speaks the words of an old man, the voice one they’d heard earlier.

“Ah ha! Friend!” It says in common tongue.

<Dain and the rest of the party has surprise, so everyone may have one full round of action before any initiative is rolled.>

 
Dain - The Grinning Skull

The horror! Streams of sweat fall down Dain's face, from both fear and the intense heat of the chamber. He takes a step backwards, gripping his sword in a hand that he has a hard time keeping still from shaking.

Then he sees the skull. And hears its words. It is a prisoner? Then...it is an ally? Maybe. Hopefully.

Do I dare hope? This is my tale...as dark as the beginning is...there may yet be light in it!

"I will not die easily! Hold fast, you grinning skull! I will rescue you, after I slay these insolent scum!" It was all he could come up with on short notice. Fear and adrenaline were making it hard to think.

Dain backpedaled, swinging his sword in an arc before him. "Both of you at once, or it shall not be a fair contest! Come at me in space so that I may heap your bodies upon each other!"

Annit...anyone...I pray you hear my voice and understand. There are two! And an ally who should be freed! If I can draw them out...perhaps the cage can be opened? Do I hope for the impossible?

For this to work, he needed to get them beyond the entrance, so that his friends could enter behind him.

He threw his torch at the first one.

<To strike with the torch= 6>
 

Metea

Villager
Metea- the grinning skull

Ah, wait! Couldn't they talk about this?

Metea edged along behind the group as Dain charged in. She wasn't doing more than poking her head around the corner, though, partly because doing so would ruin the misty vision she had going now, and and partly because she had Otiroth to look after.

"Pass through force," she whispered, but that wasn't the actual spell she was casting- instead, it was a hex and a blast of pure painful energy upon the monster she could see over Dain's shoulder.

She would time her eldritch blast just right, to try and strike the demon even as Dain flung his torch at it!

If he wanted to be a distraction... let him!

<Spell casting: Eldritch blast. To hit, 19, damage 14>
<Bonus action to move/cast Hex- strength curse>
<Deception check = 25>
 
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Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The Grinning Skull

Both of you? Well, that didn't sound good.

Otiroth joined Metea in peering around the corner, trying to keep out of the way of their allies that had to rush into melee combat, while still getting good eyes on the room. He could see only the one from his current position.

He too would use the opportunity cast a quick spell, though he was a bit hastier than Metea...

<Perception check to observe the situation=21>
<Spellcasting: Fire bolt. 12 to hit, 3 damage>
 
Carthum One-Tusk: The grinning skull

Well... they were in the battle now!

Perhaps they had been rash, to rush into combat while one of their own was still injured! But they could not leave Dain behind! They could not leave a trapped prisoner! The priest gently laid the dwarf at Metea and Otiroth's feet.

Carthum banged his mace on his shield, reigniting Suru's sacred light upon it, and strode into the entryway. They had to back-up Dain, but also, he was not letting something slip past and get at his sister! Besides, he did not expect he could reach the demon in one charge.

"Demons! Behold the light of the divine!" He banged his shield once more.

<Sacred flame, damage =6>
<Infernal insight= 15>
 
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Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna: The Grinning Skull

Jeovanna already has her sword drawn, and there is not enough time to switch to her bow. There is enough time to pick up a rock and cast it at the demonic visage before them.

"Harsket!" Jeovanna snarls something in Gnollish, but as the others do not speak it, what it was and who it was directed to was lost on the others.

Jeovanna had learned one thing during her adventure- not to stand in front of the mages while they cast their deadly spells. What she had not learned was not to pick up the hot rocks!

DIE

No, she could handle this without...

DIE

"Hahahahaa!"

<Jeovanna has moved into the room, and is now raging>
 

97mg

Villager
The Grinning Skull

The Ranger’s torch falls short, landing at the feet of the nearest slippery beast.

“You wish to burn ME?” It snaps, mocking the lone human, “hahaha!” With a swish of a tail, the torch flies off to smash against a section of wall.

The crocodilian head turns to the side then, as something else comes into view, very rapidly and painfully! Stinging and crackling Eldritch magic slams into the beast's oozy form and really gets it wobbling. Like shocked jelly it jitters, like an angry reptile it lashes about, something wrong, strength sucked away.

“Yes yes!” The skull is watching, moving from side to side within the confines of his cage, trying to ensure the best view.

A bolt of fire follows, streaming in from the tracked tunnel, shooting wide of the beast and bursting into a shower of sparks on a distant wall.

“Ah ha!” The skinless cranial onlooker seems pleased, as a half-orc enters, banging and clanging like a one man band. Radiance emanates, and the priest notices how slowly the hideous creature is to react. Yes! The light catches the ugly fiend in it's ray, and this… it does burn. Ooze sizzles and fizzles!

“Slash, swat, the sniveling snots!” The skull chants, before his jaw drops.

She is tall, built like an ox, angry as a viper as she stamps into the room.

Oh, this one is special. So perfect…

Jeovanna is here. Jeovanna looks extremely angry! Jeovanna is positioning herself for maximum impact!

Annit on the other hand, quietly rounds the entrance hard to the right, bow ready, and loosing an arrow at the ghastly sight that lingers there. Her arrow strikes, digging into the fiend's oozy chest, before it wraps a clawed hand around the shaft and pulls it out.

“You will pay for that! With your soul!”




Round 1 Begins:

21. Carthum
13. Dain
11. Otiroth
10. Annit
7. Jeovanna
7. Metea
5. Fiend 1 -20hp ~Hexed disad str checks~
5. Fiend 2 -3hp

<Carthum, Metea and Otiroth would all believe that these creatures match the description of lesser demons. Weak servants and soldiers for those of greater power, you know that they are still very much something to fear. Teeth, claws, some resistances… But Carthum recalls a most important lesson about such a breed, the ooze is almost always accompanied by either a form of poison or acid.>
 
Carthum One-Tusk: The Grinning Skull

Suru! Deeper we travel! Your radiance burns even fire!

Carthum, fully in the room, would see the one on the right, if only because it was difficult not to notice Jeovanna, and she was further in its direction. Annit and Jeovanna, perhaps, had that one! He would assist the ranger.

"They are aberrations! They are more than teeth and claws- they have acidic attacks of their own," Carthum nevertheless charged at the demon alongside Dain. It was important they all knew, but at this point, there was probably no retreating!

His shield glimmered with light.

His mace glimmered with hope! He'd go for the alligator face, not the wobbly jelly.

<To hit- 22. Damage 5>
 
Dain - The Grinning Skull

It was battle! Not exactly what Dain had planned but such was life!

These things were probably going to kill them all, but not without a struggle.

Lashing out with his blade, Dain sneered at his opponent. "My soul is still my own!"

For the time being.

<11 to hit>
 
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Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The Grinning Skull

Otiroth's aim was still a little off- even as he pointed one finger towards the furthest demon, he could noticeably see the lack of familiarity with the elaborate symbols in his own off-hand.

Paga's :):):):)! If we survive this... a week at the training range!

The blue ray of frost at least did not hit exactly the same spot as his firebolt had- so the sorcerer was, if nothing else, working out his aim.

<Spellcasting- Ray of Frost, to hit 9>
 

97mg

Villager
Annit: The Grinning Skull

The running commentary of a floating skull, beams of fire and frost, crackling energy bolts, sword swings and taunts. It was hard to concentrate among the chaos.

Annit loaded another arrow, pulled her bow back and hoped to lodge one more into the slimey horror's ooze. It missed, smashing into hardened basalt and breaking in two.

"Dammit."

At least Jeovanna was nearby. Hopefully once the barbarian was in there swinging, the rogue would be able to try something tricky and distracting!

<Attack = 10 (Miss) The enemies might be slow, but they are also tough. AC16.>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna: The Grinning Skull

DIE

Jeovanna charged directly for the demon on the right.

DIE

Perhaps it was a tactical decision, perhaps not. She certainly wasn't giving away any of her insight; all she knew was that the pack must be protected. They could not let this slime slither past and get at their amorous pups!

DIE

Her sword swung so brazenly at the jelly that it might've seemed she was trying to slice its grinning skull from its wobbly body.

<To hit, 23, damage 9>
 

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