Heroes of Cahervaniel

Secret doors and iron skulls
Where the group explores more, and finds another button.

Eleint 1

After more resting and much eating of roasted raptor meat, the group set off to explore more. They headed south from where they fought the yellow-skinned creature, finding a long hallway that stretched east and west. Directly across from them was a large urn in an alcove. In old runes beneath the sealed lid was the word "Guardians". They felt discretion was the better idea and left the urn alone, heading west. At the end of the hall was a small room with another iron door in the wall. Above it were three iron skulls, the rightmost one having glowing blue eyes. The middle skull sported a button below it. Again, the button was pushed. This time, the eyesockets of the middle skull began glowing along with the rightmost.

Not able to open the door, the group headed east. They found another urn with the same runes, but left it alone. At the end of the hall, they found a locked door. The druid warned the others that he sensed poison on the door and Abner posited that it was likely a poisoned needle in the lock. After a lengthy discussion, they left it alone and headed north. There, they found themselves in a room with four halls leading away. Two held secret doors the group had gone through before, so they headed north.

The north held a room with many pillars holding up the ceiling. The entire room was coated in greasy soot, and most of the pillars were cracked and melting. Along the far wall was a petrified skeleton, that had scratched something into the wall as it died. Abner brought out the harp, as it began to play when they approached the body. She was able to force the corpse to talk, and they found it was one named Pyorrhoea. They learned that it carved something called The Nightstone, and was then killed by a summoned demon. The Nightstone "came from the earth and must be returned to the earth" to stop it. It begged for release, and the group allowed it to return to its' rest. They continued north.

There, a small flight of stairs led up to a strobe-lit area. At the top stood a familiar figure, the unicorn/centaur they fought earlier. The group retreated rather than face the beast again. Heading back south, they turned east. There, a secret door opened into a jail-like area where the group fought the frog-like raptors. Two doors led off and both contained nests where they presumed the small raptors that attacked them lived. They searched the nests, finding many old coins and a few potions.

Seeing no other options, the group headed south to the poisoned door. After both Abner and Barrett attempted to pick the lock and failed, Berek used a power from his god to increase his strength and ripped the door open. Within, they found an old laboratory full of hundreds of bottles, beakers, jars, dishes and bowls. All contained ancient materials from liquids to powders to dust and herbs. Derwyndal guided them through, and they found a few labelled potions. Once again out of ways to explore, they decided to head back to the water-filled passages.

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An eternity below the earth
Wherein the group discovers much, and rests more...

Highsun 28 

The group rested behind the locked doors for the next three days. During that time, Abner used her skills to work on determining some of the properties of the magic items found. They could have left the room wounded after two days, but decided to face the dangers at their strongest.

Opening the doors after their rest, they breathed in the sweetest stale ever. Determined, they decided to do more searching. Returning to the first room they found on this level, they headed west. After a couple turns, they discovered a large room half submerged in water. A door was visible across the water and a passage lead out to the north. To the east, they found a room with a crude statue that resembled the black unicorn they faced earlier. They set out through the water, heading for the closed door. Thankfully, the water rose no higher than their knees (almost to the dwarves' waists). Inside the room, they found only shattered tiles with strange runes on them and more water.

Leaving the room, they elected to head north, but were put off by the movements of creatures beneath the surface. Karn was bitten on the leg and the group was soon beset by short web-footed humanoids that leapt out of the water to attack them. A short but tough fight followed, with five of the slimy creatures falling to the blades of the heroes. A bit more searching showed them that the water soon became too deep, and they turned back.

At the central room, they elected to head south. After encountering another of the pits they came so used to finding (with Karn's help), they entered a room that baffled them. At the far end of the room, a line of white powder spanned the room. On the other side were dozens of small fleshly blobs that bounced up and down. Each had a human-sized mouth, complete with teeth, lips and they were babbling amongst themselves.

The group advanced, careful to avoid crossing the line. They could see that repeated contact from the little creatures had thinned the line in several spots. As Bennett moved along the wall, the creatures finally crossed the line. One spit at the heroes, causing a blazing flash of light, momentarily blinding them all. When their vision cleared, the saw ALL of the creatures spitting at them. The flashes and sizzling were overwhelming. When they dissipated, the creatures were nowhere to be found, until they emerged from the packs, robes and pockets of the adventurers.

Another short fight and the creatures were dead – although they inflicted many painful bites. Still determined, the group headed south. They found a large empty room with two other exits and headed west (after finding another pit). They headed along a long room fitted out with drying racks, a spit and pound after pound of meat from the large lizard creatures they fought days before. They headed west and found a small room with personal effects and a sleeping area. Abner spotted a strange looking being hiding in shadows and pointed it out. The being had yellow skin, green fungus-encrusted hair shaped into horns, and rows of sharp teeth. With unnatural speed, it ran from the room.

The group searched the room, finding a few valuables. Bennett and Derwyndal went to see how far the creature fled. Not seeing him, they turned to leave when it leapt out of the shadows and slipped a strong cord around the monks' neck. Derwyndal called for the others, and they immediately attacked the creature. It fought viciously, but was overcome by the sheer numbers against it. Barrett now sported a painful bruise across his throat and found breathing difficult for a while.

The group returned to the creature's abode and passed through into another chamber. There, they found a large iron portal on the wall. It had no visible hinges or handle, and sported three iron skulls above the door. Below the skull on the right was a small button. Ever ready to brave danger, Karn pushed the button. The lights of the rightmost skull it up blue, but no other effect was visible.

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Claws in the dark. Where's Vald?
The group pushes on, finding danger at every turn.

Highsun 26

After their rest, the Heroes were ready to continue. They debated retreating, but all knew that the only real path lay ahead. They opened the door to reveal a corridor of the blackest darkness leading down…

The reason for the darkness was soon revealed when Barrett got tangled in a sticky black web a short way down the corridor. The rest helped him escape the web, tearing it in the process. Derwyndal held the gap open so the rest could pass safely. They reached a large room at the end of the corridor and noticed three creatures fighting amongst themselves.

            Dark pebbly skin covered the bipedal creatures. They had powerful hind legs, smaller forelimbs and rows of teeth in their lizard-like heads. They hissed and charged at the group. They were more than a dozen feet away when one leapt the distance and landed on Karn, raking and slashing with claws and fangs. The group barely managed to kill one creature before fighting a losing retreat, dragging companions through the gap in the web. There, they were forced to rest again. About two days later, they attempted to go forward. Barrett, being the fastest, ran up to the room and led the creatures back into a hail of arrows. One went down, but the other retreated.

            They tried it again a few minutes later, but the crafty creature waited for Barrett just outside the corridor and attacked. In the resulting battle, there were more wounds, but the heroes were victorious.

The group searched the large room, found three exits and headed east. Karn of course, fell into another pit. This one was occupied – a glossy black unicorn was in the pit. There was a strange strobing light, and every time it flashed the unicorn seemed to change into a black-skinned centaur with the unicorn’s horn! Karn climbed out, but thought he heard “help me” whispered to him. The creature followed him out of the pit and despite his asking how they could help it, it charged. During the short battle that followed, it frightened the group badly by teleporting around the battlefield. When struck down, the thing disappeared in a cloud of greasy smoke. The group had the feeling that it wasn’t permanently beaten. They continued east, into a large dirt-floored room. Great piles of dirt had been heaped against the walls. Two glowing doors were in the south, but they headed to the door in the east wall.

            To their horror, undead things burst out of the dirt, attacking with long claws. They fought a hard fight, with half of their group being paralyzed by the filth in the creatures’ attacks. Tired and wounded, they pressed on. A few turns of corridor later, they found a small room filled with damaged (melted?) tools and a room beyond that practically smelled of evil. They decided not to enter and continued on, finding a room that could be locked from the inside and had been victim of a partial cave-in. They elected to rest a short while, finding when they looked around that Vald was missing. A blood trail down the corridor to the south was found and the group was in fast pursuit.

They came to an area that looked like an old prison area. The blood trail ended there, with four more of the lizard-things. These ones were a little smaller and had frog-like heads, but were just as deadly. So deadly, that the group was put down one at a time until just Abner was facing the last creature. A very much alive Vald arrived from behind and threw himself on the beast, scoring deep hits with his weapons. The creature died and Vald helped Abner drag the unconscious bodies of the others back to the lockable room. There, he explained that he was investigating the tool room (he doesn’t sleep much) and came back to find them gone. Abner rolled her eyes and they settled in to rest and recuperate.

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Once more into the breach...
Allies are met, dangers are faced.

Highsun 24

After dividing their loot, the group discussed whether they should mount another foray into the dark hole beneath the stone circle. It was a heated debate, but it was finally decided that they would. Geared up as much as possible, they headed back to the hills.

            After a brief look for new tracks or signs of monsters, they travelled down into the cool darkness. There, they were mindful of the pit traps in the room of the blue haze. Once they exited it, they journeyed down a path they hadn’t taken before. This lead to a room that looked like it was victim to an explosion. The fact that the room was behind two well-hidden doors intrigued the group even more. While investigating the room, they noticed that the only visible exit was chocked with dark grey webs. Meanwhile, Abner noticed another hidden door. This one lead to a small storage area with a chest. She successfully picked the lock, but failed to notice the trap. Steel shrapnel tore into them as the chest was opened, but timely assistance from the healers ensured everyone’s survival.

            The chest proved to be worth the trouble, as they pulled several potion bottles from it as well as bags of dust, and a spell scroll.

Derwyndal was intrigued by the webs and used his hivemaster skills to walk through them, encountering a group of creatures similar to the one in the blue haze! He wisely retreated, but not before being spotted. He warned the others and they soon observed the webs bouncing and shaking as they were cut down one by one.

            When the last web fell, they found themselves facing not one or two of the creatures, but a dozen. Battle was imminent, when one of them stepped forward and spoke in common! He yelled for a cease to the hostilities. After a short, tempermental discussion, the group discovered that he wanted them to come with him to meet his superior – but that it required surrendering their arms. Only a few went, the rest being mistrustful. Even after that, Berek, Barrett and Dankhan nearly had a fight on their hands. The others went to speak with Uelwen, the leader of the strange creatures. The one leading them was called Vald.

            After talking for a few minutes, the others were convinced to join them and all heard that the creatures were slaves to the drow. Their race escaped a dozen years ago and found this place. They existed peacefully, always in fear of being discovered by the drow. A few weeks ago, their leader Caullum found a way into tunnels beneath their city. That was when the “nightmares” began walking in their halls. The best the group could make out was that there was no distinction between the races of monsters down here to the four-armed slaves. To them, all were “nightmares”. Uelwen asked for their help. If they would help lead the ones not with Caullum to a thick forest within a day of the stone circle, they would pledge that they would harm none in the valley and live a life of peace.

            The creatures asked for the group’s help in destroying an unknown number of dark elves below. If they agreed to do this, no harm would come to them or the valley. After a short discussion, the group agreed. To help ensure their success, Uelwen sent Vald with them (to his surprise)!

            The group set out with Vald. He advised that there were two ways down. To the south was faster but more dangerous, while the west was longer but safer. They elected to go west. Ignoring many doors as they travelled down corridors, the group chose to investigate on that was slightly ajar. Within was another door – in that chamber was a crude stone nest – guarding it were a trio of strange bird-like creatures. They looked like overly-large ostriches with large axe-shaped beaks and vicious claws on their feet. They attacked immediately, and it was all the group could do to defeat them. A very hard-fought battle won them some coins, four potions that turned out to be healing potions and a bone ring. They moved on.

            Very soon after, Karn found another pit. In this one, he discovered an old skeleton with rotting gear, except for some arrows that were still intact. Pocketing them, he climbed out and the group continued.

Soon after, Vald led them to a door. Beyond it he warned, was the way down to their city. They entered and found a spiral staircase leading down. As they walked down the narrow stairs, they soon had their breaths taken away. The stairs emerged from the ceiling of a gigantic cavern. A large sphere of webs, perhaps the was suspended from web lines. The sphere had buildings atop it and hundreds of the four-armed slave creatures (and spiders) on it. Luckily, there were no guards on the stairs as the group exited from them a safe distance from the city.

Vald warned them that if they encountered any of his race, that he would do the talking. With this in mind, he led them out of the dead-end cave they were in towards an opening on the right. There, they noticed two of Vald’s kin repairing a large hole in a cavern wall. They seemed to be moving robotically, and took no notice of the heroes. Vald confirmed that this was not normal.

            That was when they were attacked by two creatures that filled them with fear. Dark-clothed and dark-skinned, the two elves who attacked them did so without mercy. The group was hard-pressed immediately. Both elves fought with two weapons like Karn, and then they made the entire area darker than midnight! It was a chaotic, frightening battle that the group barely survived.

            Vald led them onward through the cavern with the workers and into an even larger cave. This one had a body of water in it and a small boat. Vald told them that this was their prison. A small island was in the middle of the water and the water was full of dangers. The group wisely decided against using the boat and continued on.

            Carefully, Vald helped them crawl up a huge hill of loose rocks and scree. On the other side, they were almost totally shielded from the web city. Here, they saw only one figure, another of the four-armed slaves. He was bent over in prayer before a stone door.

            Vald spoke to the being in their language before it switched to common. It warned them that it would not allow them to go beyond to stop Caullum. It drew three short swords and awaited them. The groups’ hardest battle yet soon happened. The creature wore enchanted armour and was fast and agile. It decimated the group for most of the battle, until they finally won by sheer numbers and tenacity. After the fight, they were forced to rest for a couple of “days” to regain their strength.

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Burying the Dead, Making Decisions
Where the group helps console a family after a loss...

Highsun 23

The group returned to The Stone Circle. Weary despite the rest they got in the secret room, they had a solid meal and then retreated to the common room upstairs. Most were asleep before their heads touched the floor.

Late afternoon saw several of the group stirring. Barrett was awake and doing some strange exercises involving deep breathing and stretching. Karn and Dankhan were both sharpening their weapons and checking their armour. Derwyndal was deep in prayer, almost absentmindedly playing with a caterpillar that was crawling across his knuckles. Abner was polishing the sapphires the group found and studying them in minute detail. Berek was carefully cleaning and praying over his clothes and armour, preparing himself for assisting Garron with the burial the next day.

Almost as if they had planned it, each finished their tasks at approximately the same time. Speaking barely a word, they trooped downstairs for the evening meal. Many were the admiring looks, pats on the back and handshakes as they walked to a table. Murmurs of doing the lad right, helping the town and being good souls reverberated around the room. Caermore came around the bar, carrying tankards and glasses on a large tray.

He placed frosty tankards of ale, a dusty bottle of wine and a jug of mead on the table, along with enough cups and goblets that all were able to partake of whatever they wished. When they all had a glass in their hands, Caermore lifted his own mug high. “To these fine young people,” he called out. “May Tymora smile upon them and my Cyric never take notice of them!” The cheer that followed from the people of Cahervaniel shook the rafters. Food soon followed, albeit with many interruptions as grateful townsfolk thanked them repeatedly. Surprisingly, they found that Caermore would not accept their coins for the meal and drinks. The celebration lasted until well after dark, before the farmers retreated to their homes.

The next day dawned cooler and wreathed in a thick fog. Grateful that the heat wave had broken, some even said it was the gods granting the valley a reprieve for the actions of the group. Berek was up before dawn, preparing himself for his self-appointed task. Solemnly, he led the others to the home of Garron and Kurt. There, he helped clean and wrap the body while Karn and Dankhan dug a grave beside two other markers behind the house. Berek had them line the hole with stones, and they placed Thiel within. Kurt wept openly while his father stood stoic beside him. The only hint of his pain was in his eyes. They held no glimmer of life, only the bloodshot veins and broken look of a man who has lost too much.

When the group moved to leave, Garron stopped them. He presented Berek with a cloth-wrapped bundle. It belonged to his late wife, and would do them more good than sitting on a shelf in the house. Berek accepted on behalf of the group and they left Thiel’s family to their grief.

Back at The Stone Circle, Berek unwrapped the bundle at their table. Inside was a small wooden box with an old latch that had clearly been broken some time in the past. Within the box were two small glass vials marked with the symbol of Selune, Goddess of the Moon. Recognizing them as holy water, Berek put them in his pouch. Underneath them was a small golden locket on a fine chain. The locket was closed, and resisted all attempts to open it. As it was clearly a feminine item, Berek handed it to Abner and mentioned that it was time to look at their loot and split it all up – including the sapphires!

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Trouble in Cahervaniel
A missing shepherd, a heatwave and battle with undead.

Highsun 21

On the hottest day of the summer so far, most of the village was gathered at The Stone Circle. Caermore was serving icy cold ale and mead to his thirsty patrons, including the young outsiders who were slowly being considered acceptable – but definitely not locals.

The door burst open and Kurt, a young shepherd staggered in with a wild tale of a missing sheep that his older brother Thiel had gone looking for. He hadn’t returned all day, which was unlike him.

The outsiders offered to help him find his brother, and they set out into the blistering heat without any delay. After an hour-long walk, they were able to locate the herd of sheep and the tracks of Thiel going Northwest. Derwyndal called upon Chauntea to help him find the missing sheep, his magic guiding him towards where the group suspected the sheep to be – one of the many stone circles that dot the valley.

It was apparent that one of the stones from the circle had fallen, leaving a large opening in the ground. The group returned the sheep while Barrett remained to guard the hole. They bade Kurt to stay with the flock while they investigated.

After lighting lanterns, the group found that there were steep steps leading into the earth. They descended about one hundred feet before finding a chamber filled with an eerie blue mist. They soon discovered that the room was trapped, as first Barrett fell into an open pit, and then Dankhan almost did the same but saved himself at the last minute.

            While using his lantern to scout the ground ahead, Karn was struck by something in the mist – it moved too fast for him to get a good look at it. After some hesitation, the group moved forward. Unfortunately, that path was also trapped and Karn fell into a spiked pit! He was not the only occupant of the pit – the group had found Thiel.

While most of the group was removing the body from the pit and opening the door beyond it, Barrett was attacked by a creature out of the mist. It looked like a dark elf, but with an extra pair of arms, faceted eyes like a bug and large mandibles instead of a lower jaw. It fought with four daggers, while Barrett faced it with his trusty bo sticks. A couple of stout hits later, the beast had fallen.

Karn helped himself to the best of the creature’s four daggers while the others noted it wore armour and held a shield – all made of webbing. They opted to leave the mist and headed on. Ignoring a long corridor, they entered a doorway on the other side and were faced with more doors and a hall lined with alcoves. Upon investigating a room beyond one of the doors, they found strange green glowing webs. While manipulating their lights to see if it glowed in the dark, Derwyndal was attacked by a monstrous spider! He received a nasty bite from it, but recovered from the shock long enough to shout that it was a Phantom Spider – an undead beast!

            Only Berek’s enchanted axe was able to hurt the creature, which earned him a bite from the poisoned fangs as well. He swung and swung and finally managed to kill it. Both Berek and Derwyndal found themselves tired and nauseated by the poison, but they pressed on.

After Abner found a hidden room behind a statue in one of the alcoves (and almost got herself poisoned), the group was able to note a long-abandoned stone workshop. They left it almost undisturbed and pressed on.

At the end of the hall, they found a strange gem-shaped room tiled in alternating black and red panels. A glowing globe hung above the altar at the far end, and a two other exits offered alternate paths. Derwyndal was able to decipher the script on the altar as:

Who seeks to recall life’s past light

Walks with sufferance to the right.

Who seeks a test from those bereft

Walks with reticence to the left.

Barrett noticed that there was a glowing harp inside the globe, while Abner and Berek investigated the low-ceilinged passage to the east. Karn leapt from the altar to grab the globe – unfortunately, it and the harp both smashed upon landing.

            Meanwhile, Berek and Abner found a second harp! When they grabbed it, the long-dead former owner attacked them, nearly killing Berek. Calling upon his god, he was able to heal the worst of his wounds, drawing a grumble from the still-wounded Karn.

The group investigated the obsidian door to the west, finding it to be a room that teleported those who entered to an unknown location. One by one, they entered, Abner taking her time to see if they would return first.

The destination turned out to be a dirt-floored room with a low ceiling and an age-darkened skull in an alcove. The harp began to play on its’ own and despite extensive experimentation, it was almost thirty minutes later that the skull began to speak. It offered the heroes a test of wits or of strife. Wary of their ability to solve a riddle, they chose strife and were attacked by more dead men! The battle was fierce, dropping the druid into unconsciousness. Eventually, the group prevailed and the earth spewed forth a leather bag – touching it transported them back to the black and red room.

Badly mauled the group opted to seek rest in the secret room and stayed there for more than a full day, regaining some of their strength. The bag turned out to have strange gold coins, gems and a bottle the group believes to be a magic potion in it! Abner generously carried the gems, they split up the coins and Karn carried the potion.

The group decided not to press their luck so soon into their careers and retrieved Thiel’s body before leaving the underground areas. After some discussion, they headed back to town. Theil’s father and brother tearfully accepted his body – as well as an offer to assist with the burial the next day from Berek.

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