Chapter 03: Shock Horror

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Session Number: 56
Date: Sunday 20 June 2010
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr7 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Emily Ftr3/Rog5 (Fergus) (kills: 2 shocker lizards)
Feren Rog8 (Yeran) (kills: 1 shocker lizard)
Harley (Craig) (kills: 2 shocker lizards)
Rowaine Pal8 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz8 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

With their main objective being finding and rescuing Enok, the recently bolstered party discuss their options. Should their entry into the fort be a surgical strike, or a broad-spectrum antibiotic? Arrian and Troll talk about the utility of their spells. Enok's armour is a good candidate for a Locate spell, but if he is captured, what are the chances he is still wearing it?

fort_rannick.jpg

Troll asks the Black Arrows for an aerial view of the fort. Vale sketches one. They piece together a plan to get them into the fort's subterranean chambers.

The party shadow the trail that leads to the fort. It heads into a valley that becomes a ravine, maintaining its general southeastern direction for some time before abruptly turning north. The right wall of the ravine soon gives way to sparse forest. "We're getting close," says Jakardros. The group walk for a short while when Jakardros motions for them to stop. "This is about twenty minutes walk away from the fort," he whispers. Arrian asks Jakardros whether there are any fairly unique rocky features nearby. Jakardros leads them a few minutes closer, to where the left ravine wall bears a deep fissure. The gap at the rockface is barely wide enough for two men to stand abreast. The rift extends into the mountain at least forty feet. The party take refuge in the woods nearby. Rowaine and Troll mount up on Harley. Rowaine pulls out a sunrod, remembering her last experiences of Earth Gliding into a dark area. "No," says Troll. "That shouldn't be necessary."

Vale gives some last-minute direction to Rowaine, who translates for Harley. The stone flyer enters the ravine wall near the fissure, gets her bearings and speeds towards the cavern behind the waterfall.

The next sensation that Troll and Rowaine have is dim light and the sound of cascading water to their right. They have entered a forty foot long cavern with puddles on the floor. Grey moss and algae cover most surfaces. A wooden walkway leads from the outside to an exit in the northern end of the cavern. Troll directs them to the right. Through the narrow opening they can see daylight refracting through a wide waterfall that ends in a large pool ten feet below. They can just see stone battlements outside, to the left. From here they can see the walkway timber runners, covered in moss, soft and spongy under Harley's heavy paws. Rowaine directs Harley to the northern end of the cavern, staying off the timber walkway. Harley slips often on the wet stone underfoot. "Stuff this," thinks Troll, asking Rowaine to dive and head north. They exit about one hundred feet north in a dark space, roughly square in shape. The moss proves very slightly luminescent. Troll whispers a warning: "Fiery burst!" Rowaine tells Harley. Troll then Fiery Bursts to the right. "EEEeeeeee!" There is a squealing sound but the burst does not illuminate the source, unless it is the 5-6 crates in the northwest corner. A passage heads north from the northeast corner, another heads east from the southeast corner. The three wait for a short period, listening intently. They hear a squidgy pitter-pattering noise from the right passage. Rowaine fires up a sunrod. Moments later, out pop two little bipedal reptiles. They see the group in their caverns and squeal "Eeeeeeee!" Their movements seem to somehow synchronise and there is an eerie, increasingly high-pitched whining sound. Troll Fiery Bursts the pair before anything bad can happen. His spell detonates first and the lizards char and die.

"I don't think there are any ogres down here," posits Troll. "If they were, these lizards would be dead. Let's go back to the first cavern." Harley extends her wings and sinks into the stone, flies south, climbs and bursts into the southern chamber. Again her paws slip on the damp floor. She makes her own way to the plank walkway where the footing is much easier. "OK, leave me here and bring the others," says Troll. Rowaine and Harley return and successfully ferry the others into the southern cavern.

Arrian asks the rangers when they last came through here. Jakardros replies that it was about a month before the fort was taken.

"How do you avoid the lizards?" asks Arrian.

"We keep our distance, especially during their mating season, which is midsummer. As long as you move slowly, act nonthreatening and don't come too close, they tend to leave you alone. During mating season when they are at their friskiest, we burn bitterbark which drives them off. I don't mind the smell. In fact, I think it's quite nice. Keep's that way," he says, pointing north.

It is early spring.

The group walk north through the tunnel and reach the smaller square cavern. It is quiet. The bodies of the lizards are still there.

"Your work?" Jakardros asks Rowaine.

"In a manner of speaking."

Jakardros' nose wrinkles in mute disdain.

Arrian inspects the crates, checking for traps. They are nailed shut.

"Do you know about these crates?" he asks Jakardros.

"Spare weapons," he replies.

Troll casts Spider Climb. "Any freed comrades may want weapons," he says. Arrian opens the crate, which contains long swords, short swords, daggers and longbows - six of each. There is also an oilcloth with six arrows inside. Arrian, Rowaine, Emily, Shalélu, Jakardros and Vale all take a spare sword and bow each. Troll takes the arrows.

"Which way is the keep?" asks Arrian.

"That way," Jakardros indicates the passageway to the east where the dead lizards lie. "That's also where the shocker lizards' nests are. Beyond the caverns is a secret door that enters the subterranean level of the keep." Feren asks Jakardros what is farther down the north tunnel.

"There is a crevasse crossed by a narrow bridge, then there is a shrine where the Black Arrows used to bury their dead. Unfortunately we have had far too many dead over the years, far more than could be interred there. It hasn't been used for many years. The passage then sweeps around and exits via a secret door into the fort's courtyard."

The party quietly discuss what to do next, and decide to send a scouting party east, while the others remain here. Feren, Emily and Jakardros are selected. Rowaine gives Emily a sunrod.

The passageway continues thirty feet then swings to the left. Jakardros points out a secret door, whispering "That goes into the fort as well, behind the new barracks." Arrian asks whether the door is visible from the outside. "Not really, it's behind the new barracks' rear wall." They hear a very muffled sound like a brief argument beyond the secret door. They ignore it and continue. The passage veers off to the northwest.

"Ssshh," whispers Jakardros, "We're coming up to a cavern to the left where the lizards often lay eggs." A scratching noise can be heard. They gingerly sneak past an opening in the left wall, glancing in. A couple of lizards sit at the far wall of a small chamber, hissing at the light. The floor is covered in rubble and twigs. The scouts try their best to look and sound unthreatening, passing without incident. Jakardros says the quickest way to the keep is to the right, so the trio head in that direction. They hear a lot of scrabbling to the south - another chamber, smaller than the previous. They creep up to the entrance and glimpse multiple tails and limbs, much closer than the previous two. They backtrack and enter a large chamber with two exits to the north, one much smaller than the other. There is considerable scratching and hissing coming from beyond.

"The larger opening leads to their main nesting area," warns Jakardros. "The small opening heads back to the north of where we just were." It is bit of a squeeze, but the narrow passage is not impassable. They ignore two more chambers to the north from which more hissing and scratching emanate. Emily's sunrod illuminates many pairs of shiny green eyes. The scouts keep to the far wall and pass unmolested. The passage widens then splits vaguely north and south. The party sneak north.

"We're coming up to the secret door," whispers Jakardros. "Behind it is the jailer's den." They backtrack to the larger cavern. Emily stays while Jakardros and Feren return to the others. Emily readies her bow and starts tapping her foot to give Harley's Tremorsense something to home in on. Rowaine fires up her last remaining sunrod, then she and Arrian mount up on Harley. Feren and Jakardros start sneaking back on foot. Harley hears the tapping and enters the cavern. All hear frenetic squealing coming from both north and south!

A scuttling coming from the north announces a troop of little lizards. Rowaine recognises the high-pitched, increasing tone, then Boom! An electric pulse arcs in all directions. Arrian and Rowaine are hit hard, Harley less so. Emily manages to completely avoid the discharge.

Good ol' Evasion.

Harley bites and kills a lizard, while four more move up from the south. eeeeEEE… Boom! Emily ducks behind a rockface and emerges unscathed again, while Arrian, Rowaine and Harley are shocked a second time.

"Get us out of here!" yells Arrian, casting a Cure spell on Rowaine. Rowaine Lays Hands on Arrian. Emily looses an arrow at a lizard, which hits. The beast is still up so she targets it again. This time the arrow drops it. She steps back. Feren readies his shortbow and hustles towards the commotion, Jakardros not far behind. They round a corner and see many small blue lizards bouncing around. Feren steps back.

Troll moves cautiously towards the sound of fighting. The lizards to the north back up and unleash their orchestrated blast, catching the mounted group but not Emily. Arrian and Rowaine bear the brunt of the discharge while Harley suffers a minor shock. At Rowaine's urging Harley overruns the lizards to the south, trying to draw them off. The lizards scatter up the walls. Harley snaps at one, killing it. eeeeEEE… Boom! The two lizards discharge. Arrian, Rowaine and Harley all do their best to avoid the blast and suffer minor damage. Arrian heals Rowaine and vice versa. Emily Manyshots a lizard, killing it. She then retreats north to the end of the tunnel and the secret door. Her sunrod illuminates a small brass pot sitting on the floor.

Jakardros closes and fires twin arrows into a lizard but it survives. Feren moves up in support, the arrow from his shortbow killing the wounded reptile. All the lizards in the southern group are dead.

The remaining lizards scramble in retreat and disappear from view. Arrian heals himself. Harley moves up past the entrance while Rowaine pulls out her bow, targetting the northern end of the chamber. "I'll cover you!" she yells. Troll hears Rowaine, moves and catches a glimpse of her and Arrian upon Harley. He moves up beside the stone wolf.

"What's happening?" he asks.

"Shocker lizards!" Rowaine replies. "Most off to the right, I don't know where Emily is…"

As if in reply, Emily runs right past, heading towards the waterfall!

shocker_01.jpg

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