Without looking up from his work, the lich Renwick points at me and then to a set of stairs leading down. Apparently, it’s time to go. On our way out, I ask if he know what awaits us outside – he says there are 4 minotaurs and 20 monks. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.
But wait – it gets better – I mean it has to, right? We’re only raiding a monastery of mad, ass-kicking monks that have minotaurs – this is perfectly sane. So it only makes sense that the stairs the ancient “can literally kill you with the wave of a hand” lich Renwick pointed to lead into a catacombs. OF COURSE. The upside? The stonework in here is exquisite. I’m able to read an inscription on the nicest sarcophagus and it says “Here lies Salander Caradoon, Defender of the North“. The detail work on the representation of Salander is truly a sight to be seen. Also, the name Caradoon sounds familiar – did Renwick say that was his last name?
There’s only one other door in here, but not wanting to miss any other wonderful stonework, I notice a sort of hidden door, and sure enough – it leads to a rough stone passageway. The sounds of mining are strong, and I tap out “How many monks?” – no reply.
Through the tunnel, we come up to a stone door at a T junction. We open the door, and GNOLLS!
Crap. One of ’em has a bow and shoots me as I stand there in the door, just lookin’ like an idiot. Another closes on me, so guess what I can’t really do? That’s right, get out of the doorway like a smart dwarf. This one though that ran up to me and hit me – she made a mistake. She stayed in front of me. I hit her with my maul and knock her weapon to the floor and kick it away. But oh no, I’m not done. I bring my maul back around and finish the job. Two hits and she’s done.
But guess what I still haven’t had a chance to do? That’s right, I’m still standing in the doorway, looking like an idiot, being a dwarven shield for my comrades. Another one of these buggers runs up and bites me. Really, who bites??? I counter-attack, and try to trip it after hitting it with my maul. My plan is kinda successful – I mean I hit it and tripped it trying to disable it. Turns out I killed it. Did I say kinda successful? Because I meant COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL AND AWESOME. GNOLLWRECKA GNOLLWRECKA
Others are able to get in and share some of the glory. But, the last one makes a break for it and it able to get through the door and up some stairs. Ghirgaz bolts after it, and we all follow. It’s barely able to open the door and scream before Ghirghaz righteously snuffs it out of existence and closes/bolts the door again. He takes the key from the lock which matches the one that I’d recovered earlier. We head down to the gnoll room, locking the heavy door behind. Moments later, there’s a loud pounding on the door, so we decide to reinforce it by using the beds in the room as a barricade. This being the room at the middle of the T junction we decide to go back out to the “hallway” to find the miners. To find Kelium.
The walls of this hallway sport an odd purple glowing fungus. While I’m thinking about why it’s weird – is it because it’s purple, it’s glowing, or both? – we come upon a bunch of mostly naked slaves, mining away. Some are dwarves, some are halflings, some are humans, and they’re all in bad shape. They seem rightfully leery of us, but we’re able to convince them that we’re not bad and that while we’re here for specifically one person, if they’re willing to fight for it, we’ll help free them. They all are ok with this, and we move them to the catacombs while we go down the other tunnel looking for Kelium.
Heading the other direction down the T, we run into 3 monks. we dispatch two of them quickly, and the third takes off. We, of course, hunt it down. His dying words still ring in my head:
Marlos will bury you!
We find the other group, Kelium with them, and offer them the same deal. They agree and come with us. We need to move though, apparently there are a few minotaurs around. They lead us to this great metal gate, connected to yet more impressive stonework. And behind a door by it, we hear the stomping/scraping of what sound like great, chitinous feet. Nope. Nooooope. We decide to go back the way we know (up the stairs that we’ve barricaded shut) and out the monastery, as quick as possible. Sometimes you fight your way out, sometimes you run. No shame in either.
We un-barricade the door, and go back up the stairs. I open the door at the top to the “main” hallway, and right in front of me (I actually think I let out a quick eep) are two knights – stone armor, big stone maces. I take a swipe, miss, and close the door. This is not good. Our party is battered, and these slaves are weak. We decide to lock the door (and break off a key in the lock), and go back to that ornate gate.
Upon closer inspection, I can make out words in Ancient Dwarven, but I’m a little rusty so the inscription either says “Shrine of Basic Earth” or “Temple of the Black Earth“. That seems like a bad idea, so we decide to go through the other door – the one with the giant chitinous sounding feet. Guess who’s got two
stubby crazy-strong dwarf thumbs and is going first? This guy.
Crap. An Umber Hulk. And, I just gazed into the eyes of insectoid madness – thankfully it didn’t madden me.
Also? It has these chitinous blades STRAPPED to its arms. And guess who’s the idiot in the doorway again? That’s actually not really a factor, as Ghirgaz and I hit it and it promptly grabs me, pulls me into the room, and bites me. See? Not in the doorway anymore. Also, it apparently doesn’t know about the last sumbitch that bit me. Didn’t end well for them.
So there I am, hanging from its arm. What to I decide to do? I hit it back – seemed like the right move at the time. Well, he didn’t like that, and bit me. Hard. Remember that thing about biting me? Well, he doesn’t seem to care. But I do, because OW. It throws me across the room where I conveniently come to a sudden stop against a hard, stone wall. It’s convenient because hey – at least I’m dying leaning up against a wall and not in the cold hard grip of an Umber Hulk.
It’s the small things, you know?
Also, I’ll never call Kary’klii a chicken again – while directing the slaves to fight for their freedom, he comes over and heals me. It’s not enough, but it helps. Still, I’m feeling pretty worse for wear. But still if I die today – it’ll be at the hands of a venerable foe, not some miscreant in the night.
I get up with a grunt, and close on the fell beast. Even though it feels as though even my ears are bleeding now, I summon the strength of my forefathers and launch myself up in the air, screaming
FOR THE MANTICORPS!
I bring down my mace true, as the sickening crack of chitin echoes throughout the room. My mace has found its final home – lodged deep in the body of an Umber Hulk, having tunneled through the creatures face and down through the chest cavity. The weight of my landing on its shoulders/upper back quickly push this now lifeless hulk to the floor. Now weaponless, I think of taking a pickaxe from one of the many fallen slaves, but instead claim a trophy and replacement weapon – once fitted with a hilt, one of its mandibles will make for a fine and unique greatsword.
In the adjoining room is Korbo (we’d heard of him earlier) – or at least it was. He’s adorned in great gold-laced stone armor, motionless. Turned to stone. In his hands – a large glowing orb. From behind us (or perhaps just in our heads?) We hear an ominous voice:
“Tell Arisi that if she wants to foil the plans of the Black Earth Cult, she’ll have to do it herself!”
There’s a great rumbling, and the monastery starts shifting, collapsing. We MUST get out, and fast. And then, all of a sudden, there’s Renwick. He somehow seems to have stopped time? Or halted the collapse somehow? He’s curiously examining the orb and tells us that since we don’t have phylacteries and won’t regenerate safely in ten days, that we need to run. NOW.
Well, I don’t need to be told twice as I’ve escaped death enough times today. Some stop to examine a room at the edge of the temple, but not me. I make sure that Kelium is out and safe, and we all regroup.
As the monastery collapses down into a great pit, we see something above. Are those three figures, flying on great vultures, circling?
Title source: The Haunted.
Session Date: 05/12 XP: 915, Prior Journal XP: 250