Age of Despair

Session #16

The Hold of Calucones

The doorway opens into a room with a bridge directly across.

We decide to exercise caution here, checking all areas as we proceed so we will not be taken by surprise from behind. Jenson carefully scans the ground looking for any signs of recent passage. It looks like nobody has travelled through here in quite some time. We speculate that possibly whatever it was that silenced this dwarven enclave must have come in from another avenue. There is a small room that appears to have been a panning station of sorts, with a fast flowing stream and sifting pans.

On the far side of the bridge, deep into the caverns we see a greenish glowing light, reminiscent of the glow the mushroom creatures cast. We decide to send those that see best in the dark to investigate, the rest of us hang back impatiently waiting at the beginning of the bridge. We nervously scan the dark, our lights reaching only so far as the end of the bridge.

Faint sounds of impact and gurgling whispers to us across the dark, we grip our weapons tighter. Coy emerges from the gloom with the head of a beast, dripping gore behind him. They have taken out a scout, we expect more to come, attracted like moths by the light. We extinguish all light but the small glow from a partially covered light stone. Using only that faint glow, Coy leads us back to where Dom is keeping watch ahead.

Stalactites line the ceiling and we hear water dripping in the back ground. We hope the soft sounds will help mask the noise our passage makes. Sadly traveling silently seems to be beyond our capacity, no matter how often we try. Coy and Dom pause, and comment on the faint sound of chanting echoing from the walls, we are found.

Coy steps up beside me in his alter form, his looming size making me feel a little more secure. I grin with anticipation, one if only fully alive at these moments.

A huge troll lumbers up to us, moving much more quickly than his lurching steps would seem to allow. He is followed by a handful of smaller brethren. Coy lashes out, his fists blur with the speed of his attack. I ignore the flurry of activity around me as I pray over the Bellatorian Rod, my heart aching anew with the loss of Ha’manu. I hear Kuni’s clear voice ringing out from behind me, and my spirit is lifted.

We descend upon the huge troll as his companions fall into place beside him, completing the enemy’s line. Acid arrows fly and our weapons flash dealing considerable damage to the lumbering beast. Gneaus impresses us with the strength of his attack, and as the troll’s great fist comes hurtling directly at Coy, Gneaus further earns our admiration by throwing his shield up in Coy’s defense and deflecting the blow onto himself. Our efforts pay off as the troll crashes to the ground. We concentrate on the Troll’s smaller companions making quick work of them as well.

We breathe a sigh of relief after the last one goes down, we’ve come through this relatively unscathed. Then Dom says, “The chanting has stopped”. We all look around apprehensively, maybe that was a little too easy… “more are coming”.

We move up and brace ourselves for the next wave.

The scaly green thugs crash into us, those that come within reach of our readied weapons are reprimanded smartly for their impertinence. Jenson’s arrows fly from behind the cover of the rubbled statue, one of them perfectly timed, chocking off the chanted spell coming from behind their line. His next attack is not quite as well executed, excited by his earlier success, he strains his bow a bit too much. We hear a resounding crack as the wood of his weapon snaps under the strain. Cilka peppers them with fire, while Dom maneuvers into place to get them from the back. Coy and I maneuver strategically, having fought together often enough to complement each other’s strengths. His positioning allows for the perfect set-up for me, with one mighty swing I am able to hit all of the beasts within my considerable range, fire blazing from my blade as it cleaves through our enemies. Gertie holds the left flank while Coy hammers at them from above. Again Coy and I work in perfect synchronicity, he steps back allowing me to slide in front of him, setting me up for another powerful fiery swing, once again I cleave through their front ranks.

Their numbers have reduced and while we’ve cut many of them down, they have dealt their share of damage to us as well. Coy is knocked back by the big guy and goes down, Kuni steps to his aide. I swing at the huge monster that hit Coy, knocking him back and out. Their castor has had enough and starts to disengage, moving away. Jenson is having none of that, he pursues him and stops his flight. Gertie handily dispatches the ones facing her as the rest of us move quickly to surround the remaining few that are left standing. There is a final flurry of blows as we all muster and take the last of them out. We take the time needed to make sure they are no longer healing themselves.

We notice they all have a distinctive talisman; a small chunk of what once was worked metal that has been warped and twisted. They are dressed in typical troll style, cobbled together outfits and armor. Their weapons are a different matter, usually trolls carry a hodge-podge of roughly crafted old clubs or something of the like, these are much nicer, incorporating salvaged dwarven metals.

We continue toward the green glow, as we get closer, we see several destroyed doors along the wall. We also see troll nests scattered around and we find the source of the glow. There is a mounding clump of glowing fungus circled by what looks like sitting mats. Jenson studies the mushroom pile critically but is unsure if it’s inherently unsafe. Kuni looks at it and determines it has been cultivated into this specific pattern, carefully tended and pruned into a mounding circle.

Jenson notices a clawed footprint, and knows of no creature that could have made such a mark.

There is a pile of rubble on that same area that looks to have once been a circling staircase leading up to a huge hole in the ceiling about 50 feet in the air.

We search the doors that line the walls on both sides, one has another of the elevator type lifts like we’ve seen in other areas, the next room over looks to have once been a kitchen and has a small shaft rising up, maybe a way of transporting food and dishes from level to level. The other side looks to have been apartments and dormitories.

Cilka calls out to us, saying there is metal embedded in the walls of the shaft that might make scaling that possible- Dom goes to check it out with her, the metal creates a ladder effect and we all go up it quite easily. The shaft opens up into a small furnished room, with moldering carpets and decaying furniture. The room does not appear to have been occupied in a very long time. The room is bordered along the ceiling with colored glass. There are 2 intact doors leading out of the room, one leads to an old study with an armoire, Cilka pulls the latch while Dom looks on and is immediately blasted by a burst of fire that flashes free as she opens them. Once the fire dies away, Cilka finds a jar of metallic powder she says is called dust of appearance (the other contents were destroyed). Coy opens another door to an outer room with smashed furniture and a smashed in doorway leading out. More tracks similar to those found below as well as a circle? Or nest? In the middle of the floor.

Past that and down a corridor we find where the staircase used to lead to. We see the spiral stair case hole from topside that leads down to the cavern below. The floor around it is blackened and all of the far side looks fragile, not something you would want to try to walk on.

We explore the two rooms opposite the old staircase, one is a stockroom the other an old blacksmithy. There is also a more modest staircase leading up.

The corridor continues on past the spiral stairwell and has tracks of the same beast that look to be no more than a week old. We surmise the beast breaking free may have been what caused the dwarves to abandon their home. We have seen no evidence of bodies or fighting- which tells us they left voluntarily. Maybe the trolls and lizard folk came later and worshiped the monster they found.

The corridor opens up into a smaller area with rooms off each wall and another small stairway leading up off toward the left. One of the rooms has a mosaic on the floor, we think it may have been a room of sanctity for the dwarves. All the doors have been broken into and look to have been more luxurious living quarters, and another kitchen area.

We form up and take the stairs. They split like the ones below did, branching off to both sides. We take a few moments to ready ourselves before venturing up the stairs, we heal up and I pray over the Bellatorian Rod. As we start up the stairs a wave of fear comes crashing down upon us, Gertie stands taller in the face of the fear and we all take courage from her confidence. At the top of the stairs we come face to face with a large lizard type creature, its wings spread out above it as it rears back and hisses at us angrily. Not as large as the dragon we faced, but menacing none the less.

I come out the stairs and am immediately hit with a massive spray of acid as it sidles to the side, rears back and spits its stream of liquid. I hear screams from behind me as I lose my grip on consciousness and fall to the ground.

I come to with my cousin kneeling beside me; her magic has done its work. I hear the sounds of fighting; the dragon is still raging in the corner. From my prone position I see Dom catch a stray arrow from Jenson’s bow, I see the look of shock and horror on Jenson’s face as Dom falls to the floor. I hear a cheer go up as the dragon crashes to the ground. Does anyone else know Dom is hurt so badly? I crawl over to him and force the foul smelling potion I carry down his throat, apologizing the whole time for the horrible after taste he will wake to. I have to admit to some sense of relief that I didn’t have to be the one to quaff that awful concoction.

There is a glint of gold sparkling out from under the webbing that was cast against the dragon. We search the area while we wait for the magical webbing to dissipate. The rooms are fancy and well appointed, there is a balcony to the outside, overlooking the mountain. We decide to rest here for the night.

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