This week, we beat on some demon-sponges, jumped down a few more holes, and I explored a bit of the “Evil” part of my “Neutral Evil” alignment. Last week, Tionas couldn’t make it out, and this week our cleric was absent again. Sucks to be her, because it was awesome!
Where we left off last session, we had just set a puddle on fire, filled it with arrows, and also poked a few holes in some fungi that wanted to shout us to death. From this room, there was only one shaft down, and Carric decided to climb down the ladder to take a peak.
The room below had some movement in it, and Carric could hear some low moaning. So we had Haltz drop a lit torch down to the bottom. “Disturbing” is probably the kindest word that could be used to describe the things that waited for us. Well, not exactly waited. More like shambled around the bottom.
They were humanoid, roughly human sized, but everything from the shoulders down was pretty much just a giant pile of flesh and mush. Their arms ended with sharp, vicious claws, and their faces had equally sharp teeth. Their eyes were black and empty, and the flesh was an awful orange color, somewhat like the goblin from before. They ignore the torch, doing as much as rolling right over it.
When Carric comes up and gives his report, Ronin goes down the ladder and uses his thaumaturgy spell to see if they react to sound. They do, and slither right over to where the sound came from. We also hear a very human, startled shout.
We come up with a plan – Carric sneaks down, Ronin goes down the ladder and distracts them with another sound, and Haltz and I rappel down the shaft. This goes as planned, and we all get down to the bottom. At this point, we all see what’s in the room – Five of these horrid flesh creatures, along with a glowing pillar that has a human figure chained to it.
Trying to lure them to another area, Ronin uses his spell again, but they see us as they move. Well, everyone except the sneaky Carric. Ronin moves up and punches one of the creatures, and finds that its consistency is pretty much that of a sponge, and it reforms itself quite well. Aside from the fact that it is now oozing black ichor where most creatures would simply bleed.
Haltz uses his handy darts, punching a hole through the creature’s eye and killing it. At this, the guy on the pillar screams, and Carric, making his way up, can see a bulge forming on his chest. He decides that the man is part of the creatures’ plans, and shoots him with his bow. I move up to support Ronin, but I don’t do much to the creature, cutting in but it seems like I’ve only mildly displeased it.
The creatures, slow as the bags of flesh they are, finally respond. Two manage to claw Ronin, one in a pretty hefty manner. The two others are now moving up to us, and Ronin decides to punch one of them, fairly successfully. Haltz decides to show us how to actually fight, and spears the one Ronin injured, killing it, and then kicks the one I injured, killing it as well.
Carrick \ fires another arrow, and the human shouts and slumps down, but the pillar will have none of it. Tendrils of energy come out and do.. something to the guy, who shouts once more.
Seeing that Ronin and Haltz have the creatures covered, I run up to the pillar and proceed to swear violently. It’s carved with Accursed script. The man chained to the pillar also has his chest cavity pulled open, held that way with iron hooks, and inside it I can see another one of the creatures pulling its way out. At this time, the creature pops out, and doesn’t seem particularly pleased with me being there.
One of the creatures that Haltz and Ronin are fighting manages to knock out Ronin, prompting Haltz to move back, getting one of the creatures to follow him. Carric is a great asset and shoots the creature right next to me, distracting it while I decide the best course of action.
My thought is that the creatures, and wherever they are coming from, are linked to the pillar. I am not a locksmith and I don’t have the tools to pop the manacles open, so my action is to physically sever the connection of the guy with the pillar. My glaive neatly severs the hands of the already-ravaged human, but this doesn’t stop the pillar’s magic from keeping him from bleeding profusely.
Carric, seeing he has the attention of one of the creatures, shoots and kills the second one that had been with Haltz and Ronin. The only thing the creatures can do at this point is follow them, so while they’re dealing with the creatures I sever the feet of the captive and drag him away from the pillar, eventually severing the connection. Inside the corpse’s chest, I can get a good look at the portal, and at this I swear even more violently. I can see leaden grass – It’s a portal to the Iron Marches, and in the accursed end of it to boot.
Some experimenting shows that the portal is solid, and after a little more inquisitive prodding by myself, I remove the iron hooks holding the corpse’s chest cavity open. It snaps shut, and pulling it apart reveals that this has closed the portal as well. Not fully satisfied, I take a look at the pillar while my companions tend to Ronin and check the rest of the mining gallery.
There’s one shaft down that’s open – Of the other two, one ends in a collapse and the other isn’t finished. The pillar, on the other hand, has crude yet strong magic, and is carved with both healing and conjuration runes.
We make our way into the next gallery, which is thankfully empty. This has one end that looks like it’s unfinished, and the other end is collapsed. There’s a small horizontal shaft that is one of the numerous ones that lead to the main shaft, and another shaft that goes down. Carric climbs down the ladder, and looks into the gallery. Another glowing pillar is there, with another figure chained to it. There are also two large forms, so Carric makes his way back up.
The gallery he scouted had two shafts in it, and we’re sure one of them is the main shaft. I ask Carric to look into the side passage, as it is too small for any of the rest of us and he is also supposed to be the sneaky one.
He climbs along it and looks down – into the faces of two creatures, both of them about 7.5 feet tall, covered in muscle, and with arms that look like they could rip someone in half. The person chained to the pillar has had their chest opened in the same way as the last one, although he couldn’t tell if this person also had a portal in their chest.
He climbs back and barely has enough time to describe what he saw to us before we hear the things shouting below us. Running over to the shaft, we see them climbing up it – Not via the ladder, but by ripping handholds from the stone. Carric shoots an arrow into one of them, while Haltz, Ronin, and I all ready ourselves for the creatures. Thankfully, Carric gets another shot into the same one, and shortly before it gets up to the top I stab my glaive into it, killing it and knocking it down. We can hear a scream from below us, and we dread having to deal with a stream of these things.
Ronin handily dealt with the other one, using its own momentum and mass against it to toss it over into where the rest of us can deal with it. Haltz spears it and gives it a solid kick, while my polearm deals the killing blow. This time, however, there is no scream from below.
We look down and see one more creature looking up at us. I can only assume it decided that a one-on-four battle was not entirely a good idea, so it disappears, shouting the whole way, into the mine.
I head down first, being the most defensible of the bunch, but there’s nothing there. As my companions come down behind me, I head over to the pillar. The woman there is in surprisingly good health, aside from the fact that her chest is held open with another dozen iron hooks with a portal to the Iron Marches inside. I also happen to recognize that this is the woman from the locket I found earlier. Makes finding the owner a lot easier, I suppose.
At this point, the beast’s shouting returns, and Ronin and Haltz have found another shaft – Which three of the beasts are now climbing up. Thankfully, it’s a lot longer than the previous shaft so we have some time to work.
I call Carric over to open the manacles, warn the woman what I’m going to do is going to hurt, and start pulling out the hooks. Racing against the creatures, Carric and I manage to both free her from the manacles and remove all of the hooks. Her ribcage slams shut, and when it bounces open a little I can see the portal is closed – And her internal organs seem to be still internal.
We notice that the pillar seems to be healing her, so I pick up my glaive and run to the shaft while Haltz throws some further darts. One of them hits a creature, and the creatures manage to climb to the top of the shaft before I can get there. Thankfully, both Haltz and Ronin are ready and dodge their attacks. Being distracted, though, they also don’t manage to deal any further damage to the creatures.
This doesn’t stop one creature from punching me, hard. Carric, while watching over the woman, is still observant and fires his bow at the one that hit me. The arrow hits hard, and the creature falls back into the shaft. One down, two to go.
Haltz hits one of the creatures, and Ronin manages to hit the last one, hard. At this point, though, we find out the other creature isn’t dead – As it flings itself out of the pit and takes a swing at me. Thankfully, though, it’s been injured and misses. The other two creatures have similarly bad times dealing with Haltz and Ronin.
Carric, not pleased that his target didn’t actually die, finishes the job with another arrow. This time, it really is dead as it falls back down the shaft, and we hear it land at the bottom. Haltz hits his again, and Ronin manages to knock his dead, the corpse also falling into the hole. Whatever’s down there is going to know we’re coming.
The last creature swings at Haltz but misses, and I finish it off with my glaive. At this point, silence falls, and we can see that the pillar has no further interest in the woman. She’s not perfectly healed, but she’s not being splayed open like something out of a horror movie anymore.
What awaits us in the gallery below I have no idea, but I’m sure we’ll find out next week. Considering how we dealt with its minions, I’m fairly sure it’s not going to be pleased to see us, either.