This week, Tionas managed to show us just what sort of twisted and horrid things his mind can come up with.
We left off last week with the woman who we managed to save from the chest portal, and this week we tended to her a bit, getting some information out of her. She wasn’t sure when she was brought down here, but remembered she was separated from her daughter. Thankfully, her daughter was not taken into evil chest-portal land and made it back to town, causing the Constable to go hire us from the Vault. This meant she couldn’t have been in the mine for more than about a week.
After making sure the woman is good, we decide to take a long rest, to recover ourselves. During the night, Carric and I are on watch at the same time, and we hear a buzzing noise. Looking over to the main shaft, we see a small, winged creature fly up it. It is somewhat demonic looking, with bat wings, a bow, and horns. It looks at us, and then drops back down into the shaft. We determine that it’s best to let the others rest, and only mention it if the buzzing returns.
A little while later, Carric feels a poke on his leg, and on looking down he sees a small, demon-like familiar, miming all of his actions. When I ask what he’s doing, the thing vanishes.
After the rest, we decide to continue on. The main shaft has some small side shafts coming off of it, but the bottom is too far to see. We decide to head down the secondary shaft, where the ape creatures came up. Carric goes down first, and sees a somewhat familiar sight – An elf, chained to another pillar. But this time, when the elf sees him, he groans and shouts – And an ape creature starts pulling itself out of the portal in his chest.
Above, we can clearly hear the screaming of the man, and the woman, whose name we found out was Stacia, weeps in terror at the noise. Carric comes up and makes his report, and we decide that we need to deal with it. I ask Carric if he could allow the woman to borrow his dagger. It may not provide any real help to her, but it may at least make her feel better.
At that point in time, we hear the buzzing again, coming from below. Looking down, we see the ape creature, and Carric shoots it in the face with an arrow as it begins to climb. He gets another arrow into the thing before Ronin asks for us to hold, as he has an idea.
Each of us fall back a bit as Ronin takes the spot in front of where the creature will come up – But when it does come up, he dispenses with his plan and simply channels his inner Spartan, kicking the thing back down the hole and killing it. Stacia screams in terror as she sees it, and Ronin goes and informs her that we are going after them.
Meanwhile, Haltz and Carric descent the shaft, seeing a black fletched arrow near the base of the ladder that hadn’t been there before. Carric slips easily into the shadows, while Haltz turns to the man on the pillar – Soon enough to see another ape coming out. He chargest it, managing to knee it in the face.
Myself and Ronin reach the bottom of the shaft at this point, just in time to watch Haltz spear the creature dead. Carric, meanwhile, spots the flying thing from before, and thinking quickly, shoots it in the wing with his bow. It drops down the shaft it was hovering over.
Haltz and I pull the ape out of the elf’s body portal, and as Carric unlocks the manacles I pull the hooks holding his chest open. Like the woman, the pillar heals him until he’s not dieing, but he’s in much worse shape than the woman was, and begins coughing up blood. He is also delerious, not knowing where – or who – he is.
After some questions, Carric finds that the man is going to die anyway, and uses his dagger to mercifully end his pain. As Ronin and Haltz return to the shaft to inform the woman of what we’ve done, Carric makes his way down the other shaft in the room – Ending in a small tunnel, angled in one direction into water, and in the other direction a small hole. I pass my lantern down to him, and he sees the hole goes up further than the lantern can illuminate.
He returns up the shaft, and with no other place to go, we return to the woman, giving her some more supplies and some further niceties. She has already eaten about two days worth of rations, and has tied Carric’s dagger to the staff Ronin had left with her, forming a makeshift spear.
We decide to head down the main shaft to the side passage a short distance below us. Carric goes first, securing the rope to a post that is secured in the wall – Angled so that it would connect to a post in a side passage above us. It seems that the two were once connected.
The rest of us follow, squeezing down the narrow shaft until we emerge into a larger gallery. Carric stops Haltz and I from lighting our lights, as he sees his “friend” from before. After some discussion, I suggest using the lantern to light up the thing, to which the creature nods at.
On illumination, I discover just what the thing is – It is a quasid, a demon from the Iron Marches. Such demons are often summoned as a familiar by mages, and mages tend to keep familiars that are similar to them. It is not a far fetched conclusion to believe this is the familiar of a demonologist.
As I say this, the creature vanishes down a shaft sitting just behind it. We decide to go after it, but I notice some clothes in the corner. Before I can suggest anything, though, I feel something crawling up my back, beneath my armor. I alert the others, and they see a centipede-like creature crawl up out of my armor, morph into the creature, and then take a massive bite out of my neck.
Not wasting any time, we attack the creature – And I discover that I lack a secondary melee weapon, although I prove perfectly efficient at smacking things with my lantern. Eventually, I daze it with a smack from my lantern long enough for Ronin to grab it and smash it into the floor, killing it.
We take a short rest, during which Ronin brings the clothes to Stacia, who is grateful to have something to actually wear now. After we are rested, we look down the shaft the creature disappeared down.
This one has no ladder, for it has turned into a pile of rubble at the floor. We take a rope down, and on the far side of the largeish gallery we can see a pile of corpses – A peasant, a guard, and a knight with a greatsword. There is another shaft in the ceiling, and one more in the floor.
As all four of us arrive in the gallery, the knight rises. It turns out that it isn’t a knight, but simply a suit of armor. The sword also rises, although it is not held by the knight.
Instinctually, I throw some oil at it, although I miss the thing completely. Ronin moves forward and tries to attack it, although he only manages to get a painful foot out of the deal. My own attack ends up less painful for me, although I still fail just as well.
Thankfully, the knight seems to have no better luck than us, and misses its punches against Ronin. The sword, however, seems to be just fine, and smacks me pretty hard. Haltz attacks the armor, and Carric tries to shoot the sword with his bow.
Ronin gets into a punching match with the armor, with Haltz joining in as soon as he moves close enough. I begin to deal with the sword as Carric wisely decides to try and shoot the larger target.
I manage to smash the sword with my glaive, shattering it and sending the pieces flying across the room. Only moments later, Ronin manages to put his fist through plate steel, destroying whatever spell was animating the armor.
We find a few gold among the bodies, and looking up at the shaft above us we see that it ends in what looks like a cave-in, possibly the same one we ran into before. The shaft down ends unfinished in a pool of water.
As we begin making our way back to the entrance shaft, Carric pauses, and then pulls on the “rubble” on the floor. It lifts, revealing another shaft. From this shaft, heat, light, human groaning, and a mixture of Accursed/Killbaran muttering can be heard.
We decide to take no chances and drop all at once, seeing a wall adorned with an incompleted circle of living bodies. They are barely living, split neck to groin and joined together with one person’s neck in the next person’s crotch, with a pillar keeping each of them from dieing. A form is hunched over one of them, blackened skin visible even with its robes.
The figure turns, and we see a first generation Killbaran mage, a red third “eye” in his forhead. He shouts that he must finish his work, to which we ignore – Carric shoots him, and both Haltz and I charge him.
As we do so, Carric shoots him once more, interrupting whatever spell he was trying to cast. As he dies, we notice there are hooks in his chest – Not holding it open, but keeping it shut. We don’t have time to ponder this, though, as his chest bursts open as he dies. A demon comes through the resulting portal, shattering the body it used as transport. It is a great, winged creature wielding a black and red trident, and it wastes no time in meeting Haltz and I.
We attack it, Haltz dealing a significant strike with his spear. Carric shoots at it as Ronin joins with a flying jump kick. Somehow, we manage to evade all of its attacks before Ronin deals the final blow, killing it with a kick in its face.
We look around the room, and we see another figure on a pillar on the floor. On investigating the pillar, I find it is a different type – There is a different type of healing rune on this one, and considering the figure doesn’t have a chest portal, I deduce there is no realistic way to save these people.
Haltz, Carric, and I set about pulling people off of the wall to remove them from the range of their pillars before giving them a mercy killing. The pillars on the wall are also different – They have the same healing runes as the one on the floor, and while they also have conjuration runes like the ones we found above, those runes are much more potent. I can only guess that, had the wizard finished his work, he would have created a much larger portal to the Iron Marches.
Among the items in the room, I choose one of the knives the wizard had been using for a dagger, ensuring that I would have a secondary weapon if I needed it. Additionally, I find the wizard’s spellbook. This is in my field of study, and I find that, perhaps I can learn to utilize its power for a different purpose.