The illithid, known in these parts of the high Underdark as Sarjakk the Apostate, had a decent lair. The floors of the caverns that made his lair were approximately 95 feet below the exposed surface floors of ruins of Tel Amn Coran. This wasn’t the illithid’s actual intention when it took control of the region where it built it’s small stone abode but upon further exploration it discovered that a natural shifting of the stone and soil had allowed for the lower area of the ruins to be accessed via a conduit created by the flow of underground water. Sarjakk, then, came to value it’s lair as it allowed for access, albeit guarded, to the strange sunlit world above whence it could, via its thralls, effect raids for slaves and sentient food items. Furthermore, the former inhabitants of the ruins, still lived in the area as they through unfortunate magics now existed as twisted beings who valued existence only to collect and trade mystical items. Fortunately, for Sarjakk, these twisted beings valued exchanging what was left of their knowledge or other enchanted items acquired by them through, obviously, foul means for enchanted items that Sarjakk would eventually steal back from them. Therefore, Sarjakk’s current arrangements were quite accommodating indeed….until now.
Ever since Sarjakk fled where he originated from, a place deep under the annoying Stout One’s realm of Morridan, he was subjected to danger and capture. Sarjakk chose to disavow the religion of his kind and fall back (as they would say) into the adoration, no, rather the veneration of their traditional deity called Ilsensine. Illithids, or rather Mind Flayers, as they are more commonly referred to by most of the races which inhabit the sunlit realms of above, didn’t actually worship that which lairs in the Caverns of Thought far below the Concordant Domain of the Outlands, rather, they venerated the godlike being for its vast and all perceiving intellect. Yet, nearly the same time as the surface dwelling elves suffered their world empire ending catastrophe, so too did the members of the unified illithid race which lived far underneath most of the regions of Aerth. This catastrophe of the illithids allowed for the veneration of a far more insidious nature for Ilsensine was one, and the focus of the illithid’s new reverence were (and still are) legion. It has been just over 1,300 surface years since the majority of the illithid race on Aerth had changed their veneration from Ilsensine to that of the Great Old Ones. The Great Old Ones, perhaps, were the original pantheon worshipped, or at least venerated by the illithids, however, the particulars of if and when they were have been lost into time and the vast depths of the Underdark for millennia. Sarjakk, for whatever was it’s own reasonings long ago, decided that veneration of the Great Old Ones clashed with it’s inner demeanor and it began to research the lost venerations of Ilsensine to the great dismay of it’s peers. Ultimately, Sarjakk feared for its existence and fled beyond the limits of its realm. Sixty surface years, in time reckoning, had passed since Sarjakk had found sanctuary below the ruins of Tel Amn Coran. Sixty surface years of relative peace, safety and freedom to raid for slaves and sentient beings for consumption had elapsed and had now had come crashing into violence and danger. It was not that Sarjakk’s lair was exempt from intrusion, in fact, Sarjakk found the occasional foray by the dwellers of the sunlit realms to be a type of boon, for always those incursions were ill equipped, ill led and allowed for Sarjakk and his thralls to capture slaves and food without that much effort. But recently, a large band of intruders changed the decades-old routine. For Sarjakk, his home had been invaded and invaded in force. His thralls were being cut down, and despite the fact that his thralls and creatures had indeed ripped one of the intruders apart, it looked now that Sarjakk, himself, had to make a decision. Should he flee or should he exit his defensive structure and make one concerted effort to do what his thralls could not…and that would be to vanquish these intruders with great prejudice.
These impudent cattle! How dare they burst in on me! They have no idea the pain I shall visit upon them as I dine upon their sentience after they are defeated!
Who is this lizard that directs this band? I shall feast upon him last! And this little one! His mind reeks of adoration for the Great Old Ones. His mind is keen, but I shall keep him as a thrall so he can help replace that which they have destroyed! O, fool of small stature, surely you don’t comprehend the vileness of those which you adore? You shall live, you fool, but you shall learn to adore me instead of those who seek all. For I shall soon be your god!
….thin fingers belonging to a gaunt hand greenish-brown in coloration reached out and sought the locking mechanism to the door which led out into the caverns whence the intruders bettered, or at least equalled, the illithid’s thralls in combat.
Kufuzzle’s knees buckled as the Blue Company clambered up the small rise within the offshoot cave as the all sought refuge. They had just fought a series of engagements as they had descended into the bowels of the ruins of Tel Amn Coran. Several minutes ago Shedinn, the Baron’s brother, had just been torn to pieces. The Company was in retreat and now had to make the decision to stand and fight the remainder of the amphibious beasts or to dive into the nearby tunnel to make a hasty escape.
Kufuzzle had performed admirably in the combats and had not suffered undue damage but he felt that his senses were being overridden again by the being that saved him from a watery death several years ago. This being whom Kufuzzle had identified as a Great Old One would occasionally speak to him from within the depths of his soul. It was altogether an awesome, yet, somewhat, disquieting experience. Kufuzzle had a fleeting thought that of all times, now may not be the best…..as he and the Blue Company were in a tight spot at the present time……
Yet, within Kufuzzle’s soul the words of his savior reverberated throughout his consciousness…..
“Your companion, the Moron, is now no more. He slipped his mortal coil within the surface ruins of which you are now below. If you wish to survive, pray that you remain silent of your reverence to me and my kind. Now is not the time for foolishness. You were saved for a purpose so do not treat this opportunity lightly. Your pact with me must stay hidden and if you remain resolute to this ideal than shall you be well rewarded. If not, then you shall surely perish and my gift to you will be wasted. If that comes to pass then I shall take you for my folly in your afterlife which will, most certainly, be nothing but a horror visited upon you for eternity.
Heed my words……as I do not normally speak freely with chattel such as thee……..Therefore, do not die and do not speak of me glibly. It is not yet time for my return…….Forswear yourself to this and you shall escape this predicament…….that is all. For Now……..”
Kufuzzle swayed with confusion and then regained his composure. And then he saw the door to a hewn stone built structure open and three hell hounds exploded out of the stone structure that barred further delving into the cavern. Kufuzzle, along with Lord Baalthazar and the rest of the Companions, immediately acted and engaged the hell hounds. Combat was furious and emotional as Lord Baalthazar had not yet recovered the from the death of his brother, Shedinn, a few minutes prior. Then to the collective horror of the Companions, an illithid, a dreaded flayer of minds, exited the structure and prepared to engage them. It let loose a vicious blast of psychic energy that rendered Lord Baalthazar almost insensate and unable to act save to slowly move away from harm. The surviving Companions, which included, Lord Cerulyiann; Falin the Mercenary; Kufuzzle the Dread Pirate; Dorm, priest of Moradin; Zasheir, Master-of-No Locks-at-All; Alastair Truesilver, Lord Baalthazar’s squire…who happens to be of august noble lineage himself; and Renny the Sot, Lord Baalthazar’s scribe and ne’er do well; all were coming to the rather obvious tactical conclusion that this situation was deteriorating quickly, decided to withdraw to a cave entrance which, presumably, led away from the Mind Flayer’s lair. However, fleeing did have one serious drawback as the Companions were now faced with descending farther into the unknown realms of the Underdark. Kufuzzle had regained his composure well enough to realize that he couldn’t tell Lord Baalthazar about his knowledge of Maximus’ demise at the entrance far above their current location, as the being he venerated stated that he should remain silent, and besides, the large noble Dragonborn had not yet recovered from the effects of the Mind Flayer’s mental powers. Indeed, there really seemed not options for going back at all since going back meant besting the ‘Flayer and its remaining thralls.
Kufuzzle, however, did not lack a backbone and, with his pact granted telepathy ability, he locked his gaze with that of the Mind Flayer. His intention was to not go into the night, so-to-speak, quietly. He wanted a word with the ‘Flayer. For several quick moments as the others were fighting a defensive battle, Kufuzzle mentally hurled taunts and jeers towards their opponent. Yet, the ‘Flayer was nonplussed and returned scornful telepathic messages back to Kufuzzle. As time seemed to slow due to the chaotic, exhilarating, yet, extremely dangerous situation, the Companions decided it was time to go. Starting with Renny, the entire company of Companions fled the Mind Flayer’s lair by jumping down into the downward descending cave opening, this included the dazed Lord Baalthazar who was being led by his trusty squire, Alastair.
The escape only took moments but many of the Companions would later swear that they heard what sounded like screams of anger coming from whence the ‘Flayer was last seen.
They had been traveling for an undermined amount of time. Even the most experienced of the Companions in dealing with subterranean environments was bereft of the concept of time. In fact, the entire company was disoriented in such measures that their individual ability to do almost anything with proficiency had become degraded. They were suffering fatigue, hunger, low moral and were on the verge of losing all hope when suddenly those of the Companions who were acting, in a fashion, as scouts, reported that the chaotic, narrow and torturous tunnels and passageways that they had been traversing suddenly seemed to open up into a large cavern. This news greatly cheered the company but failed to dislodge their full disorientation.
The company exited the passageway and immediately realized that they had come across the site of a past combat, of sorts, where now the denizens of the dark were beginning to feed upon he remains of, what appeared to have been several adventurers and the corpses of several creatures, presumably slain by the deceased and their now departed associates. The company tried to move to off to the left along the wall of the cavern but were noticed by a couple of giant scorpions who acted without hesitation and attacked, perhaps thinking that their food supply was being threatened. Again, the Companions found themselves in combat, during which, Lord Baalthazar, despite his torpor, spotted the remains of what could only have been another one of his kind. At this point, Lord Baalthazar, in an anguished state, immediately lost all control and ran to the the crumpled remains of the anonymous dragonkith. He scooped up the remains and secured the ruined corpse in a large sack. In this context, combat against the various carrion feeders and denizens of the Underdark, Falin was engaged in a deadly back & forth exchange with another giant scorpion while others in the company had to deal with a phase spider and more giant scorpions. So it was unfortunate, due to the cursed and ever present ‘fog of war’, that the fallen adventurer’s former comrades appeared and seemed to advance from the rear areas of the cavern. This triggered an almost automatic response from Lord Cerulyiann, who wasted no time at all, and fired off one of his most reliable cantrips…his Fire Bolt. The small bolt of fire lanced threw the gloom and struck a large individual, who, in the resulting flare up of light, seemed to have pale whitish skin and a shock of red hair. This caused the newcomers to withdraw and backpedal to the unknown area from whence they came. Dorm and Kufuzzle followed as the battle with the carrion eaters was subsiding with a victorious conclusion in favor of the company without a doubt. Soon they were backed by Alastair and a truce was established where the newcomers could be identified as friends or, hopefully not, as foes. The ambient tension of danger soon faded away as it became evident that the newcomers were, indeed, the fallen adventurers comrades and that they were no threat to the Companions. It was then, just and hails and introductions were being made that Kufuzzle felt the need to ridicule Lord Cerulyiann, yet again. This provoked a change in the normally aloof Vyshaantari elf and he withdrew the perimeter of the conversation with an angry fire in his eye. The elf noble then chose not to engage with anybody further and remained silent. With Lord Cerulyiann humbled and quiet, Kufuzzle and the others focused on introductions and information exchange. It became evident that they had encountered the survivors of another adventuring company, called the Company of the Iron Shield and its leader and most of its members perished at he hands of Sarjakk the Apostate, the very same Mind Flayer, whose clutches the Company had just escaped. The current ‘leader’, so-to-speak, was a Deep Gnome wizard by the name of Argpoodle Nikwiggle Burblesplat and had absorbed the remainder of the members of the Company of the Iron Shield into his own retinue. Therefore, that company effectively had ceased to exist. His retinue consisted of, yet another, Dragonborn, by the name of Skylla. Skylla was a sorceress and offered no surname, only that she was known as “Skylla, from afar”. Also in the retinue was a human swordsman who called himself, Fulthark and a halfling cleric who went by the name of Hamm, the Pious. It was never known what deity Hamm served because of he did not display much in the way or signets, sigils, or holy symbols and if he did they were obscured by a large mutton chop that Hamm seemed affixed to his arm. Lastly, a large male whose height must exceed that of 7 feet. This male seemed not quite human and may have had some distant relation to one of the giant races. He wore the trappings of a barbarian of the mountains. He was the one of pale skin and red hair whom Cerulyiann had targeted with his Fire Bolt. This large male identified himself as Pavukan and he clearly weighed almost as much as the massive Lord Baalthazar. It came to pass that at the sight of Hamm’s mutton chop, everybody began to think about food, therefore, the members of the Blue Company requested and was granted, by Argpoodle, extra rations to augment the edible parts of the slain giant scorpions which Falin was in the process of cleaning. Lord Cerulyiann mutual accepted an allotment of rations which he immediately stored away. After this, Lord Baalthazar, still in some sort of daze or battle-delirium, asked if Argpoodle could had the means to heal or bring back Argpoodle’s fallen companions, specifically the other Dragonborn, whose body Lord Baalthazar had recovered. Argpoodle indicated that possibly he could, however, he did state that they may be slightly different. Then, after the passage of uncounted time, the entire assemblage decided that a long rest was needed. With the majority of the Blue Company suffering from loss, sadness and exhaustion, sleep came easily to them while Falin stood watch. Falin observed Argpoodle for a while, as he tended to the bodies of his slain comrades. Then Falin left Argpoodle to his devices after feeling secure that Argpoodle was not threat to his slumbering friends. Falin moved off to one side of the cavern and there he awaited the next person of his company to relieve him from duty.
After the long rest had been completed, the combined group, hereafter, also known as the Companions or the company, roused themselves and endeavored to continue forward as the way back whence they came was regarded as too dangerous. Argpoodle, indeed, seemed to have healed or restored his former companions to health, but, curiously they were fully armored and/or covered so that none may spy their actual physical forms. This, did not, seem to pose an issue to the rest of the company as the overall offensive and defensive prowess of the company seemed increased and this heartened everyone. Argpoodle began a monologue where he told of what lay beyond the dark chasm which formed the far left boundary of the cavern the presently occupied. He indicated that the entrance to another cavern system was about 80 feet below and that cavern system opened up into to a type of fungal forest where water ran and the flora emitted an eerie light. He and his retinue had explored a bit prior to meeting the members of the Blue Company and they found the algae, moss and fungi forest to be a dangerous haven for all manner of giant insects, swarms of deep rats and worse. However, Argpoodle did comment that he thought that moving forward through the fungal forest quite possible could lead to an area from whence they all could find a passageway to back to the surface. Therefore, the collective assembly agreed that going forward was a must, regardless of the threats that may be encountered therein. Without delay the Companions all made it across the dark chasm. They were immediately engaged by a number giant centipedes. These centipedes were certainly a challenge which savaged the Companions severely. Renny the Sot was lost in the combat. His loss sent Lord Baalthazar deeper into the torpor he was already suffering. The Companions were able to reach the boundaries of fungal forest after some time once they had defeated the threat of the giant centipedes without further loss of their own. However, once the Companions had reached terminus of the fungal forest they were stopped by a body of water that they had to cross to continue. It was here that an undead beholder immediately began to assail the combined group. This was the second undead beholder which Argpoodle had encountered in this region of the Underdark so he surmised that there must be have been some foul magics afoot sometime here in the past. Yet, he did not have time to ponder on this mystery as, once again, they all had to fight for their lives in this place.
The fight against the undead beholder actually went better than expected and in short order the foul beast was corrupting the pool of water with its gore. The combined groups were able to ford the pool with no complication and all were across before the water near them became stained with the color of undeath. After the fight, the company collected themselves on the other side of the pool and secured the short tunnel system which continued beyond. They accounted for the treasures that had been accumulated and even located a particular surprise in the form of an, according to Dorm whose fascination was peaked, abandoned dwarves mine, which, again, according to dorm, must have been abandoned sometime before the Shattering, thirteen hundred years prior. Dorm indicated that if the way to the surface exists then it must exist through this mine. Therefore, the Company settled in for a needed long rest and determined that once rested then they would try to enter the mines and search for a way out.
As the Companions rested, the two resurrected associates of Argpoodle stood silently by themselves near the edge of the pool, they spoke to no one and stood without comment. This spectacle, curiously, went unnoticed by all, even to Falin, who, as usual, busied himself with perimeter defense and setting up a watch schedule which would facilitate security as the Companions rested.
After the long rest, the Companions roused themselves, ate rations and ‘broke’ camp, such that it was. Collectively, they all armed themselves and made ready for the next phase of the assumed plan, which was, it seemed that they were to force a way into the dwarven ruins. While resting, Dorm could only make out a faint inscription, in dwarvish, carved above the door which allowed entry into the mine structure. The inscription read “Althanclanngorr” and Dorm seemed to not have much knowledge about the mine itself, save that, precious gems were known to have been retrieved from here. He translated the the inscription for those who knew not his tongue. “Althanclanngorr” translated into “the Starlit Mine”, yet, he could only assume that it referenced myriad reflections which teased the eye when a light source was presented. Dorm spent some time while the others rested in quiet contemplation. Prior to his contemplative time, Dorm had mentioned that something was wrong and that he needed to commune with his deity but he did mention to all assembled that he would attempt to suss out any other recollections of any mention of Althanclanngorr from his studies in lore years past. Once camp was broken, all Dorm could relate to the others was that he recalled that Althanclanngorr was said to have been hastily abandoned several decades before the Great Shattering of the Elven World. Dorm did not recall why the mine was abandoned but did remark that at the very least he would not be surprised if “that yonder door still holds a functioning trap or two.”
The Companions all assembled about thirty to forty paces from the entrance to Althanclanngorr and after several moments seemed at an impasse as what to do next. Argpoodle decided to act. Yet, since he was not a rogue and certainly did not possess skills which would facilitate deft negotiation of the door, Argpoodle awkwardly crept to the hewn stone wall which housed the door but did so a number of paces to the left of the door. Once his back was firmly against the wall, Argpoodle did his best to slowly edge his way forward. He stopped about three paces away from the door’s threshold and was able to notice some fine stonework carvings with very small apertures at regular interval where the frame of the door. Argpoodle then was able to make out the faint impression of a pressure place which lay directly in front of the doorway itself. Yes, he thought to himself, I may be no rogue but this door is definitely trapped. He then reported to the others that he found what seems like a pressure plate.
It was then that Argpoodle felt two small hands within the small of his back. This feeling was immediately followed by pressure and force as those hands suddenly pushed him towards the threshold of the door. With a gasp and Argpoodle was unable to prevent his body from contacting the pressure plate. In an instant, Argpoodle heard an ominous clicking sound. He, and all assembled witnessed multiple small geysers of dust and bits of stone erupt from the sides of the doorway as a least four ancient darts sped towards the hapless deep gnome. Four sickening sounds of impact were detectable as the darts slammed home into Argpoodle’s flesh. The darts, as they impacted, shattered into several pieces and as they each did so they released their ancient contents of powdered metals and other substances, all extremely toxic to living flesh. Argpoodle’s life was terminated even before his small frame crumpled to the ground. The echo’s the sounds of the trap’s activation and of Argpoodle’s body lifelessly hitting the cavern floor dissipated into silence as the entire combined Company stood in mute horror with Kufuzzle standing alone nearest the fallen Argpoodle with his mouth agape.
The abject silence that had descended upon the Company was then suddenly shattered as the sharp and desperate sounds of confused fighting broke out amongst the them.
When it was over, both Pavukan and Skylla ultimately decided to lay down their arms. The two other associates, who were unusually taciturn, of Argpoodle had turned out actually to be undead and they brazen had started attacking any and everybody once Argpoodle had fallen. When that happened Fulthark immediately launched into an frenzy as he realized that his friend and leader had been outright slain at the hands of one of the members of the Blue Company. Fulthark eventually fell in combat trying to avenge Argpoodle. The Blue Company was placed in the damnable position of trying to rally around Kufuzzle after Alastair hastily engaged Fulthark and the uncontrolled undead. Lord Baalthazar, shocked back into his normal self by the obvious reality that those he held dear were in danger of falling to internal strife. Lord Baalthazar seemed to have fully recovered his senses, which had taken a massive hit from Sarjakk’s blast of psychic energy back when they fought in the ‘Flayer’s lair, and began to start acting like his former self. Falin, of course, stood fast and fought to protect the members of the Blue Company regardless of the reason. Dorm, seemingly facing some battle within, attempted at all costs to cease the continuation of the fighting and the impending disaster which comes from blade-to-blade conflict amongst apparent allies. Once the fighting had ceased, it was evident that Hamm the Pious was trying to recover Argpoodle’s body and flee. Alastair interposed his athletic frame so that Hamm could not flee with the body. This caused all focus to be directed at Hamm and Kufuzzle who, seemingly recovered from the shock of his own actions, affected an aggressive and argumentative demeanor with the obviously distressed Hamm. At the same time Skylla, who had, in the combat, only directed her offensive actions towards Kufuzzle, pleaded to join the Blue Company and repeatedly swore that she would not act with ill intent towards the Blue Company as their collective survival depends upon the cooperation of all. The giantkin, Pavukan, seemed sullen and certainly less submissive, so during the argumentative standoff between Kufuzzle and Hamm, Falin secured Pavukan with rope and fetters as to ensure his compliance. After that, Dorm and Falin prepared the undead bodies for immolation in fire as n efficient means of disposal. Falin decided to throw Fulthark’s body in the heap for good measure as well. Meanwhile, the argumentative standoff became more heated and vociferous, to the point that an exasperated Zasheir decided to act on his own. He stealthily extracted himself from the circle of spectators watching Hamm and Kufuzzle and without noise came up behind Hamm, drew his dagger, and in one silent fluid motion brought the blade up hard and fast. With a spray of blood, Hamm’s words died with him and never left his throat despite the clean slash which stretched almost ear to ear high. Hamm collapsed while Zasheir had already wiped his blade and was stowing it back inside the small sheath upon his belt which housed it. The Blue Company was again caught off guard with this, now, second strange and violent act from one of their members. And for several moments of astonished silence, Dorm got a strange look upon his face and moved to flank Kufuzzle and they began to speak quietly for a few moments. Zasheir, facing no immediate retaliation for his actions dragged Hamm’s body to the pile after stripping Hamm of clothing, gear and accouterments. While all were engaged with clean up and perimeter security, Lord Baalthazar, approached the body of Argpoodle and quickly snatched up his lifeless remains with the intent of securing them in his leather sack. Lord Baalthazar, again, ensured that no one present was amount wiser to his actions and then retreated to a far corner of the passageway and sat down. Baalthazar, being a religious devotee than began to contempt upon the recent actions of the Zasheir and Kufuzzle. Shortly, and after on last, long look around he was again satisfied that the Blue company was busy with their actions. Lord Baalthazar, Dragonkith Baron of White Beard’s Landing, closed his eyes and quietly began a prayer of atonement to that whom he venerated. As the clean up of the area concluded all present prepared to set up camp again as it was evident that after all that had transpired there certainly was not going to be another attempted entry past the doorway into Althanclanngorr at the current time.
A few moments later a commotion occurred centered on Lord Baalthazar. He seemed to be acting with alarm and all haste as he attempted to retrieve the remains of Argpoodle from his large sack. Kufuzzle became agitated as Lord Baalthazar laid the body of Argpoodle upon the cavern floor. Kufuzzle’s agitation was based upon the fact that he had thought that all the remains of the decedents had been consumed in the fire now ablaze near the edge of the pool of water behind them. In fact, the cavern air had been heavy with the fetid smell of burning flesh, torch oil and clothing. Kufuzzle’s agitation soon turned to shock which then was felt by the Company as it became apparent, certainly via some supernatural occurrence, that Argpoodle was, in fact, not dead, but was , indeed, alive. In full view of all, Argpoodle groggily fought for consciousness and began to look around at the horrified countenances of the Company, who could, try as they may, not spy any signs of visible wounds upon Argpoodle despite his clothing being punctured and covered in dark, clotted blood.
Lord Baalthazar, with a clarity and a reverence, not usually seen by those who knew him, gave Argpoodle a drink from his waterskin and quietly but sternly commanded the Blue Company to continue finish the clean up and to rest as the they all collectively still need to make their way, somehow back the surface. He added that he would call a council once the confusion haas time to dissipate and resting is complete. Therefore, all went back to their duties: Alastair guarding Pavukan and while keeping a close eye upon Skylla as well. Skylla remained unfettered but had been asked to remain apart from the others. Zasheir had set up his bedding against one of the cavern walls and went back to that area and just sat watching everybody else. Falin secured the extra weapons, which had been used by the two undead and by Fulthark in the fight, within the area of his bedding that was situated not far from Lord Baalthazar. Kufuzzle and Dorm, who after the killing of Hamm was strangely silent and morose, both set their bedding closest to the bonfire where the bodies of the fallen combatants were burning. It was obvious to all that a feeling of unease and tension had descended upon everyone in the cavern. Yet, it was also obvious that nothing could be effectively addressed until after another long rest. With that realization tacitly being understood by all, the Blue Company then settled into a long, albeit, awkward rest with almost no communication occurring at all except for the occasional hushed words spoken between Lord Baalthazar and the, somehow, perhaps resurrected but certainly healed Argpoodle.
An undetermined amount of time had passed, yet, at a minimum it certainly was much longer than what the Company usually figured for a period of long rest. Somehow, each individual, unintentionally allowed the stress and confusion to exacerbate the exhaustion that they all had felt to varying degrees. One by one they awoke with a startle and jumped up in alarm. Alastair confirmed that neither Pavukan nor Skylla had escaped or had done anything nefarious towards slumbering members of the Blue Company. In fact, it had been evident that they, too, had fallen fast asleep. Zashier checked his possessions and Falin, immediately conducted a perimeter check. Lord Baalthazar and Argpoodle looked about and took stock of their environment. The cavern air seemed clearer as it appeared that the bonfire had been reduced to smoldering coals. Then a moment later, a shout went forth from Falin and he called for Lord Baalthazar. The entire company, including the restrained Pavukan and Skylla who was watched closely by Alastair, assembled around Falin. What they saw before them on the ground shocked them all as where previously located were the bedding and equipment belong to Kufuzzle and Dorm there was now nothing but an empty space upon the cavern floor. Both Kufuzzle and Dorm had vanished. Those assembled quickly conducted a search of the entire area from the edge of the pool and the nearby blackened coal embers backlit by a tiny orange glow amidst the a jumble of charred bones within the spent bonfire all the way to the entrance to Althanclanngorr. Not a trace was found of either Kufuzzle or Dorm, save for a curious find that was nearly crushed beneath Falin’s boot. Lord Baalthazar and the others, once Falin stepped back a pace or two, were able to clearly discern a broken hammer and anvil amulet neatly wrapped by the tiny silver chain which secured Kufuzzle’s diminutive octopus medallion. Interestedly, the medallion itself appeared to have been placed on top of the broken symbol of Moradin, which, upon further inspection by Lord Baalthazar, was not, in fact, broken but had been neatly cut in twain by some sort of blade.
The Blue Company, in short order, was able to realize that the placement of the octopus medallion in a superior position relative to a cleaved holy symbol of the chief dwarven god, Moradin, whom, Lord Baalthazar had recalled, was referred to by Dorm, in the past, as the Soul Forger, Dwarffather, the All-Father and the Creator, was indeed a message to them all that being called Cthulhu, the object of Kufuzzle’s incessant adoration, had just achieved a symbolic victory over the All-Father of the Dwarven race. To the stunned assembled individuals, this symbolic victory could only have occurred either by Kufuzzle slaying Dorm and disposing of his remains or, quite possibly, that Dorm, himself, had indeed fallen under the influence of Kufuzzle and had forsworn his allegiance to his deity. Regardless of what had actually transpired while the Company had slumbered, it was certainly evident that Kufuzzle had intended to send his, now former companions, a message that he, the warlock Kufuzzle, neither wished their company nor their companionship. He was gone and so was Dorm.
Lord Baalthazar stood in shock. Even though his close companion had acted strangely and had committed, at the very least, an act of gross negligence concerning Argpoodle. He had felt that the Company could salvage itself and get past the recent events that had transpired. Yet, stalwart Dorm was missing as well. The reality of this aspect of the situation began to become keenly felt as now they had now true connection to the divine magic that had saved them from disaster many times over. What were they to do? What will the Blue Company do now?
Lord Baalthazar then spoke with decisiveness.
“Alastair, take inventory of what we have. Make note of any healers kits and or potions of healing. Falin, oil and sharpen all the weapons and work with Alastair to divvy up any healer’s accouterments and rations amongst us all. Zasheir, study that damn door. You’re our rogue so we need you to be ready to help get us past doors and such. Also, check your lock picks and make sure you have all you need to support us in achieving stealthy success past things we must need get around or through.
Pavukan, despite the perceived treachery which has transpired, can I trust you to work towards our combined efforts to reach the surface? What say you?
Skylla, the same goes for you as well, can I trust you to work towards our combined efforts to reach the surface?
Whilst you both consider your words carefully, I shall continue to speak with our fortuitous friend here. Argpoodle has shown his intent and ability to be of assistance to us and, despite, his miraculous return to apparent good health, we shall continue to treat him as a friend and partner, just as we had before, ah, Kufuzzle did what he did. Is this understood?
Good! Then let’s get to it. Our very survival is at stake.
Wow!!! That was some shit!!!! We had a whole lot of drama that started out from a pretty innocent, yet, negligent action. Awesome!!!.
First of all let me say thank you to everybody who has had their characters endure an extended amount of time doing dungeon crawl after dungeon crawl trying to get through this thing and back up to the surface. It’s not over yet but despite the interesting occurrences of last game session, I think we’re in a really good place for some really good role playing and some really storyline plots. In fact, when you think of it from a literary point of view, we’ve got a whole slew of complications that have arisen for the protagonists.
Now, yes, for all intents and purposes the Blue Company is in an extremely tough spot but this situation grants us a number of opportunities for good role play, good decision-making and players getting to know their characters better. Therefore, I think we’re in for some good gaming sessions ahead.
That being said, I’ll make it known now that both Schuck and Paul have not left the game and it will be only a short matter of time before we are introduced to their new characters. But, yes….both Dorm and Kufuzzle are now gone from the storyline, for now……
I also wish to make it known that my world-view vision sometimes may not mesh, entirely, with what players have assumed and that’s okay. Just give me a chance to bring certain situations that you may or may not disagree with to fruition…then feel free to talk to me about issues that you feel are important.
As for the Cthulhu pantheon, I have read a bit of H.P. Lovecraft and can say that I have an idea of the ‘feeling’ behind the concepts….it’s a form of horror literature and I have been incorporating that theme into my D&D worldview….this clashes with the canon deities of the D&D multiverse and I find that delicious…and I do foresee that you all may meet Kufuzzle again, sometime, somewhere……Now….moving forward the following conditions are now in place…..
1. Every player now may advance their characters to 14,001 XP (no questions asked as no answers will be given, unless it deals with particular aspects up leveling up)….this includes Lord Baalthazar, Pavukan, Alastair, Argpoodle, Zasheir and Falin. This means that the named characters have now crested 6th level. It is up to the players to have them ready, as 6th level character’s prior to this next Saturday, the 25th, which is our next game session date.
2. Skylla, a character played by my daughter, will not level up right now as she is an almost 11 year old and her participation is considered temporary at this time. Young players are welcome but, I cannot, in good faith subject all of you to my lovely daughter all the time during our hobby times.
3. Paul and Schuck will be introducing new characters shortly and have expressed a new found motivation for the game, which, truthfully, I am happy to hear. You guys make sure your new characters are at 6th level as well…..
4. There are myriad dynamics at play in the storyline which arose from the manner in which you all have played your characters. I am paying attention to alignment and have heard, Ad nauseam, myriad views on alignment and what is believed, perceived and such…I will just like to state that as the GM, I reserve the final call, on issues of alignment, period, end, yet, I do strongly take to heart, player’s opinions on the topic.
5. I am going to just run with these dynamics as seem where things take us, yet, since it was established that Lord Baalthazar did intend to meet the threat of the giants harassing far northern Cormyr, I have devised a way that, once free, of the Underdark, we can attempt to meet the Lord’s intentions….
6. Tim, you will shortly, receive a separate email detailing the experiences Argpoodle had while “dead” and will have detailed information on what has changed, if anything, about him….
Lastly, I will say this…I, in a manner of speaking, share some of Stan’s views on gritty gaming, yet we still sometimes argue as if we are married. :-) I understand that we all enter into this with slightly different motivations. Please pay attention to the fact that I tend focus less upon the cartoonish and more upon the gritty, kinda like a high fantasy novel where the protagonists face many challenges with a, somewhat realistic maturity….yet, I encourage all players to play their concepts as they will, just be aware that in my world view there are consequences for everything….both positive and negative…..
I, await, your individual and/or collective comments, concerns and advice.