I took first watch with Filber. I began to read a book I brought along with me from the cabin, it was about the afterlife. The author spoke of histories I am unfamiliar with, kings, all things turning to dust, lengthy poetry really. It was quite typical of a mortal writing in Celestial to me, another scholar looking to woo us with allegories and the like. An uneventful rest followed. We awoke to the chatter of armor and voices outside. Clearly we had slept long enough that a new troop of soldiers had arrived…
We decided to press on inwards. Spooks and Jezebel made their way to the exit of the hideaway.. To our disappointment, we observed the new detachments of bandits were already among the fallen we had hastily disguised and were clearly on alert for whoever had done this. We hatched a plan to utilize Spook's message powers along with some mastery of flame from Jeph to try and give these goons the slip from behind our secret location, concealed by a stack of bunkbeds...
We started to extinguish their torches one by one while messaging to what appeared to be their main spellcaster that we were an angry god of the flame and their presence would incur our wraith! And with one final torch remaining, we exploded it! Lighting one of the bandit's hair on fire along with the bunkbed nearest to him. Unfortunately this wasn't enough the rattle their resolve so we kicked it up a notch with one of Filber's fireball spells and one final message to the caster! This appeared to work with the caster but unfortunately it only sent her running, and the others began to search for us.
Filber, and Jeph began to cast spells that would not reveal our location, but all that succeeded in doing was annoying their spell caster, who had the ability to extinguish flames with his hands. Jephs’s bonfire was kicked out, and before we could make another move.
Then, tragedy struck. Filber let out a loud fart and revealed our location, and the bandits converged on our location! Soon, arrows were flying form Steph's bow and Ava slid out and began assaulting the bandits with pike and vigor. I joined her outside the bedtime fortress to deal with the inevitable reprisal.
My eye caught the one who extinguished Jeph's flames with some sort of magic and let loose with a arc of sacred flame, but missed. Likewise, whatever spell he attempted to assault my senses likewise failed, and will to resist prevailed. The runic magic dissolved in front of him. I smirked, confident in my resolve.
More spells from my comrades blasted out from their makeshift fort. Arrows and spells caught their armor and drew blood of the bandit thugs. This drive the bandits into a rage, kicking furiously at the bunkbeds but were unable to break it.
Confident in my resolve, I raced up to mage and swung at him with my mace but came up short. He shot back with a necromantic spell I recognized as inflict wounds, but I pulled away before he could harm me.
I heard a crash, and screams of voices I don’t recognize. Someone must have finally knocked over the bunkbeds onto the goons. This was followed by a bone curdling cracking sound. Jezebel had clearly entered the melee and snapped someone’s nose off.
I continued exchanging blows with the necromancer, but he got lucky on his next attempt and nearly extinguished the life
Then, I felt a terrible darkness, and Spook’s chaotic blast struck the necromancer in the chest, blowing his hood off to reveal his face. More battle ensued behind me, more screams, more cracking sounds, but my attention was fixed on my necromantic foe. I let out a guiding bolt, but my wounds had diminished my aim and it fell short.
Just before the necromancer could end my life, my sister leaped over my head and landed her sword with horrible chop, stringent in the necromancer’s chest, then landed a punch directly on his face, killing him instantly.
Behind us, the last of the bandits made a final strike on Jeph, cutting him down before himself being felled by an arrow from Steph. Ava quickly closed his wounds and rose him from the brink of death.
Before we could celebrate, the hooded priestess entered the room, accompanied with three metal clad creations and another hooded figure that looked just like the one we had just killed. Yes I could sense it was a necromancer as well and readied my mace. As they entered the room, Jezebel recognized the priestess and yelled “we told you to run, snitch” and slew her with one throw of her mighty spear.
Spooks, keen to follow the bloodshed, let out another eldritch blast at the new necromancer, but he withstood the blast, only taking a small step back on impact.
The metal clad automations did not hesitate to start their assault on our motley crew. Jezebel took the worst of it but she managed to stay afoot. I grasped my holy symbol, closed her wounds and restored her strength. Eager for blood, Jezebel rushed out and away from my personal protection and leaped into the flame, losing her sword (critical failure) but kicking the necromancer’s head clean off.
Unprotected, the automaton lunged at me, but I was at to dodge both of its terrible blows. While it was striking at me I was able to see that this was no unholy animation of metal and steam, but rather a clever machine operated by one of the dark dwarves
The rest of the team managed to restrain one of the dwarven machines with Jeph’s magical earth hands. Jezebel took on the my assailant AND the other automation herself, exchanging blow after blow.
Meanwhile, Filber transformed into a badger for reasons unknown.
The combined assaults from the team managed to kill their restrained foe, but not without sever damage to Spooks. Likewise, Jezebel and the badger killed one of their targets. Steph ended the final automation with a masterful arrow, far better than any shot he’s taken before. It looks like all the practice he’s been having is finally paying off.
We collected some rings of camoey, clear evidence that these villains were all connected to the cult we've been chasing.
(As a badger, Filber learns that this was once a city called Khish, but as a badger is only able to snarl at us and flail his paws)
The Treasure and the Beast
Filber sniffed the air, and communicated through Spook’s mysterious mind speaking powers. To the left, a room smelling of cheese and books awaits, to the right, a powerful stench unknown to Filber. We agreed to approach the cheese.
We decided, after much deliberation, to head to the area smelling of cheese and books. We came across a door and a separate passage. I investigated the door and gave a close listen to hear if anything lie behind. I instructed my sister to smash in the door and she did with masterful precision.
The room lay empty, abound with treasure, books, and a suspicious chest. Spooks raced into the room and the door slammed behind them. I tried to open the door but it was locked tight, clearly a trap.
We began trying to open the door, kicking, hacking, and blasting it with magic, but it was of no use! Spooks informed us through their mind powers that the ceiling was starting to drop on them!
We began to desperately search for a way in when suddenly, the door slammed open!
I rushed in the opened door, and the chest lay open. Spooks was off to the right, holding a torch. Clearly this torch was the key to stopping the impending death. Spooks revealed that the chest contained gems, gold, a cube, and as strange scimitar. Jezebel quickly took the scimitar which started to react to her body. Jezebel became silent and began focusing on the sword, but she seemed fine so we took this as a benign spell.
Ava and I made our way to the books, ignoring the ongoing bickering about the treasure. The Camoey book revealed that dwarves were somehow instrumental to their plans, but we learned little else in the terrible trap room. We decided to move on to the area which smelled of vague evil.
Before we left, I decided that we needed to torch the room and rob the bandits of their store of food and weaponry. This would surely slow down their advance. I wonder if this journey is robbing me of my mercy, my compassion. Steph agreed to stay back and set up traps and an ambush to any additional parties that might come after us.
Jezebel forged ahead into the narrow pass, and promptly fell into a trap. However, the exhausting combat must have drained our senses as rather than simply have Jezebel leap over the trap with ease, and have us normal bodied mortals scale down and have her help us up with a rope, we made several ill advised attempts at acrobatics, each suffering our own painful lessons before realizing the obvious.
We came across another passage, and sent Spooks ahead to inspect. There was seemingly nothing there. I entreated the room and cast light in the supposedly empty room. This was a tactical mistake.
Two dark dwarves ran towards us, demanding an explanation. I looked back, realizing that the entire party could not speak a word of dwarvish and Filber was busily sniffing his own butt in badger form. I stole myself and prepared a lie.
It didn't work... They immediately cast suspicion on my hastily contrived story about being new recruits without any matching uniform or typical description.. Untill... Like a fur ball from hell, Filber charged one of the dwarves and took a bite at his leg! Reacting to the danger, I tackled Filber and quickly declared there was a whole horde of them following! And the foolish dwarves played right into my lie, and booked it.
We triumphantly marched down the incline in the dark passage to the shores of what appeared to be an underground lake. While boasting of my clever ruse, we were greeted by the two dwarves I had fooled, and their accompanying mindslayer...
Ava shined a brilliant light and leaped forward, jamming her pike under the armor of one of the foolish dwarves we encountered earlier. The dwarves retaliated but she was able to dodge their reprisal. One of the dwarves had enlarged itself before the attack.
Filber transformed into a wolf and charged the enlarged dwarf, killing it instantly. The mind flayer, amazed in the effectiveness of Filber’s wolf, cast some kind of spell upon him, and made his will his own! The second dwarf however, scampered off, attempting to become invisible but was unable due to Filber’s fairy fire. Filber made a dive at Jezebel, who masterfully dodged the lunge, sending his wolf form flying prone.
We exchanged a few more blows, but as things became desperate and our collective life dwindled... I decided it was time to unleash my as of yet unseen surprise attack! I lifted two fingers to the sky and summoned my spirit weapon, which burst into this plane in a burst of divine light. The bastard sword flew straight at the mind flayer and cut it down with one masterful strike.
The final dwarf didn't put up much of a fight, but I convinced the crew it was worth sparing his life. I had a feeling there was something different about this one...
There was a boat on the shore, and no way around... It looked like we only had one way further in in to the cave.
As we push off, the light behind us dropped away. We lost the light off the cave walls as we headed out into the underground lake. We saw shimmering lights from above as if they were stars. Peering back, we see what appears like another boat following us... We cast off into a series of ice drifts, some larger than the boat we were on. A series of fairy light snakes follow our boat but were not hostile to us until finally, landfall.