As time passed back in the arena waiting for the party to return Rain became anxious. She called out to Erlig that she was worried “about the idiots!” Rain moved down to the floor of the arena to talk with Erlig and Cameo. Erlig was ready to join her, but Cameo was worried about Saul’s men finding the trap door open. Erlig realized no one had check the door to see if it could be opened from underneath. “I’ll go down and you pull the key to shut the door. Give me a couple of minutes to open it. If I don’t open it put the key back in.” Erlig cast spider climb on himself as a precaution. Erlig climbed down just far enough to be right under the door when it closed. “OK, pull the key out!” After a short pause the door smoothly moved back to the closed position and the lock set with a click. Erlig reached up tentatively and pushed on the bottom of the door. To his relief it smoothly opened up. “Well that solves the problem. Come down and bring the key with you and they will not be able to get to us!” Cameo thus reassured, decided to come along. Samson had been guarding the bottom of the ladder with the bound and unconscious Saul. He too was anxious to find out what was happening down the tunnel.
They followed the winding limestone tunnel with care until they reached the sinkhole. They saw three ladders going down about twenty feet. The last ladder had been shattered. Rain looked across the swirly waters of the cavern and saw a couple of ropes had been snaked across. Erlig set a knotted rope for the others to use to climb down. He just climbed down the face as his spider climb was still working. He reached the bottom and came across the severed head of the Swamp Barracuda. Rain could see that the line going across seemed to be anchored by a crossbow bolt on the other side. The line was not tied off on this side, “We need to tie this end of the line off somehow.” Erlig noticed a leg of the broker ladder protruding from the sand. He went over and grabbed it and found it firmly implanted. He expertly tied off the line to this! Rain pointed out that carrying Saul any further didn’t make sense. “Let’s stash him here!” They lowered the bound figure of Saul to a ledge about two-thirds the way down. Erlig check to make sure his binding were secure.
Satisfied that the line was secure, Rain jumped in the water and pulled hand over hand along the line and kicking in the water. About half way across she felt the pull of the surging water try and suck her down. Only by holding the line tight and kicking as hard as she could did she get safely past. On reaching the other side Rain crawled out. She called back, “Be careful there is a strong undertow. It almost got me!” Sampson was to go next. Worried about wearing his armor and the surge, he had a line tied about him. Erlig and Rain held on to the safety line. He too felt the strong pull of the surge, but it was no match for his strength. That just left Cameo to cross. They tossed the line back to him, and he tied it about his body. He set off pulling along the line and kicking furiously. About the middle he was caught and sucked under by the surge. Gasping water and thrashing about he panicked and could not get to the surface. Sampson held the safety line tight and readied to pull him up. Erlig and Rain moved to assist, but both slipped while trying to grab the line. Before they could recover Sampson used his strength to haul Cameo to the surface and yanked him over to the shore. A sputter and relieved Cameo climbed out with their help. He looked and felt like a drowned cat!
They organized themselves with Rain in the lead tracking. She could clearly follow the tracks. Fifty feet in the winding tunnel forked. She lost the tracks at this point. Erlig asked, “Which way did they go?” “I’m not sure,” she replied. It was then that sound of voices in the distance issued from the passage to the right. “We go that way!” They moved off carefully with the Paladin following Rain closely. They could see light coming from ahead and moved up carefully to look into a cavern. Their senses were immediately assailed by a horrific smell. At the same time they saw the rest of the party reorganizing from what looked to have been a battle. Erlig, Sampson and Cameo were able to deal with the smell, but Rain was overcome. She began puking her guts out! This was too much for Erlig, between the smell and Rain puking he lost his dinner.
They were greeted by the rest of the party, which looked pretty beat up. Rain and Erlig finally regained their composer. Agrent came up to Cameo, “Glad to see ya. Kizzy you take bath? I teach you to swim.” Cameo sighed, “Swimming just seems to be beyond me.” Agrent had a cure light cast on him. “You guys find Falathar,” asked Cameo? “We just finished fighting,” was Parlay’s answer. Agrent called out, “Now we go finish off these fishmen!” Strabo walked over and recovered his net, “It worked once. It might again!” Several members of the group picked up a javelin including Strabo.
They started off with Agrent and Rain in the lead. They found this passage also split off in two directions. Neither of the trackers could see any sign. Erlig cast a spell that shot light out down the right tunnel. He could see a pile of refuse in the small cavern. He stepped up to shine the light further in and could see another cavern beyond with straw set out in several places like bedding. What Erlig did not see were two creatures on the wall above the opening. They leaped down with one landing on his back and the other on his side. They looked like crickets, but were about three feet long and hand a weird mouth filled with sharp pointed teeth. They used these and claws to attack Erlig much to his dismay. One managed to bite him and he felt it weaken him – poison!
Parlay ran up and used a javelin to hit the bug on Erlig’s back. Rain put an arrow into the same. Sampson forced his way front and landed a hit with the sword, which caused it to drop off of Erlig. Agrent landed a strike on the second bug. Erlig had enough composure to cast a magic missile into it. Cameo tried to cast Ray of Frost into it, but missed and froze part of the limestone ceiling instead. Parlay used both his sword and klar and dropped the second bug. Cameo was disappointed, “I was going to kill it.”
Strabo pulled out his heal kit Erlig worried about poison, and applied a tourniquet to the wound. It seemed to help. The insect seemed to be a hybrid of bug and fungus including the worst of both. The mouth was a gapping maw filled with rows of sharp pointed teeth. Each had three pairs of feet and a pair of claws. As far as Rain was concerned the bug smelled as bad as everything else down here. Cameo was anxious to move on, “Let’s stop fussing around with these creatures.” Agrent moved off to search the bedding in the next chamber. The “blankets” seem to be made from some type of skin or hide. He also found some empty wine bottles like those he and Parlay had liberated.
The party finally regrouped with Agrent and Bron leading. The next chamber had most of its roof collapse into a pile of rubble across the opening. Agrent and Bron checked and found it could be crossed. Bron cautioned, “Be careful where ya step so it don’t shift under ya!” Agrent found a set of booted tracks had come out and then latter gone back in this way over the rubble. The boot print was for a smaller foot, maybe about Rain’s size.
A ten foot wide passage led from the cavern and seemed to be dropping from terrace to terrace. Erlig was concerned that they might below the water level now. Bron reassured him the path had climbed steadily from the water to the “bug” cavern. He experience and senses told him we were still above the water level. Rain managed to slip and fall on the second terrace only hurting her pride. A few of the party may have smiled, but they were discreet enough not to laugh. The passage had meandered left and right and after about one-hundred and thirty feet we reached the end of the third terrace. A strange orange light was emanating from beyond the end of the passage. The party moved up and saw cavern about sixty by eighty feet in size. It was lit up by crystals stuck to the wall of the cavern. These issued either orange or purple light. This light seemed to diminish the light from the party’s torches. It also seemed to make things appear slightly out of focus to everyone but Bron. They did see two creatures of about human size with a slimy worm like shape. These had mouths containing a four part beak on top surrounded by waving tentacles. As distressing as their appearance was it was even more distressing to see what they were leaning over. There on a cold stone slab lay the naked and bound body of the Bard Falathar. His body was a pale pasty white color. They could not tell if he was even breathing.
The two creatures looked up and seemed perturbed at the interruption presented by Falathar’s hopeful rescuers. Parlay not interested in their feelings wasted no time in putting an arrow into the first. Sampson stepped to the front to defend the party. Agrent was next with an arrow into the first. Rain shot a magnificent arrow right through the beak and into the brain of the second beast killing it instantly. Bron swung and missed at the first, but Erlig dropped it with a magic missile. It slumped across the prone body of Falathar, which startled him out of a slumber. “What the hell…You guys came after me! Thank goodness, I had waited to leave after you so Saul wouldn’t realize we were together…Saul, did you know that he set the “robbery” up!” Falathar started to move and realized his hands and feet were tied up. “Strabo, is this your idea of a joke?”
They quickly untied Falathar and noticed that his entire body was covered with bruises and there was a bandage applied to his side. Falathar looked down and saw it, “That’s where the Saul, the rat, stabbed me with his rapier!” He sat up and felt very weak and very sore. “What happed, the last thing I remember is being stabbed by Saul’s rapier. I began to fall asleep, but could hear him gloat ‘that is for ruining my plans!’ I want to find him and have a ‘discussion’ about his hospitality!” Agrent told Falathar how he and Parlay had waited for him to come out so they could kill the devil. “I look in window and see them carry you bleeding to back of room. I signal Parlay and we try to get to you,” Agrent explained and went on about having to go back and get the rest of the party and how they rescued him. “You mean the rest of the party left for the temple without waiting to see me come out,” exclaimed Falathar. “Me and Parlay wait for demon, but wait to see you first,” admitted Agrent. “Agrent, my friend I will be buying ale for you and Parlay for a long time,” Falathar said gratefully. “I can drink a lot of ale,” smiled Agrent. Agrent would have slapped Falathar on his back, but didn’t think the “songbird” could survive another bruise.
They searched the room, but did not find any of Falathar’s things. Cameo mused that anything of value must have been taken from him before they carried him down. Agrent pulled out his extra set of leather clothing, “These fit you!” Falathar thanked him as he painfully moved to put on the clothing. Agrent walked over and poked one of the creatures with his weapon and shook his head. Sampson scanned the area attempting to sense evil and found none within range. Parlay pried off one of the orange glowing crystals off the wall. They seemed to be glued to the wall. He tried smashing one and it broke into many pieces. Each piece still glowed orange. He and Strabo began collecting crystals.
Agrent moved up to peek into the next room. It was a well furnished bedroom with a large round bed in the center. The bed was covered by a white fur blanket with a fine red velvet pillow on it. There was a pair of black leather boots by the bed to small for Falathar’s bruised feet, but seemed to be a fit for Rain. Agrent, “We be on alert for someone about Rain’s size!” There was a heavy wood chest on the floor next to the bed, which was locked. After checking for traps without finding any, Agrent picked the lock on the chest. It opened to reveal Falathar’s gear and carefully folded clothing on top. Underneath were a large sack, a small velvet bag and a rack holding three sealed vials. Modesty aside, Falathar gratefully put his own clothing back on and along with his equipment. He folded the leather clothing and gave it back to Agent with his thanks.
Strabo identified the three vials were marked with the stamp of the Aspis Merchant’s Consortium. Falathar related it is a Cheleaxian group known for being very wealthy and utterly ruthless in its dealings. The consortium reaches all across the continent and even beyond if rumors are true. It has warehouses in every major and many minor cities. There is one here in Riddleport. Strabo identified the contents of the first vial as just glue. The second vial had a strange, but unidentified smell. The third was some type of poison. Agrent having taken it all in said, “Person in this room mage!” The large sack held 1200 gold pieces with most bearing the seal of Riddleport. We had all seen this seal earlier on the coins tossed in as the “entry fee” at the casino. The small bag contained a silvery powder, which we identified as diamond dust.
As the party continued to search without effect, Falathar moved over next to the bed. His keen sense of smell was assaulted with the smell of sex, “Elven Sex” to be exact. He recalled a dream, a nightmare really from before the fight woke him up. In the dream he was a stallion being ridden harder and harder. The rider kept applying the whip to urge him on. He was ridden to the point of exhaustion and beyond. Then in the dream he was left for dead. The look of the bed, its smell and the bruised and battered condition of his own body gave him pause. “No, it can’t be…It couldn’t have,” he muttered.
Agrent satisfied that the room had been thoroughly searched, decided to explore further down the passage leading from the room. He moved silently as he thought “only Shoanti can do.” The passage turned slightly and became much darker. Up ahead he could see the strange glow that the crystal emanated. He moved very slowly and carefully, his sense at full alert. The strange light illuminated an even stranger sight to his eyes. He could see an Elven woman like none he had ever seen nor heard of. She was a striking beauty with long white hair and dark “purple” skin. She had a weird hand crossbow with daggers sticking out. She is holding a book in one hand and a saw in the other. “I do not recognize her type of elf,” Agrent said to himself. The Elf was standing in front what looked like a portion of the Cyphergate he recalled that spans the harbor entrance. She was surrounded by ten little, Halfling sized, demonic creatures. Agrent then very carefully backed away and keeping an eye on the Elf and her creatures. Finally, he backed around a corner out of sight. He stopped a moment to listen and determined none were following him. He then moved carefully and quietly back to the bedroom chamber.
Agrent excitedly reported what he had seen to us. Paladin Sampson then used his skills to detect evil. He sensed massive evil coming from the direction Agrent pointed. He was all for rushing there to fight, but the rest the party needed to heal up first. Our two Shoanti had taken a beating in rescuing Falathar. Falathar cast a cure light wounds on each much to their relief. Someone then pointed out how beat up Falathar was to his surprise. He had been so preoccupied that he did not realize that he was barely standing. Strabo seeing this pulled out a potion of moderate healing, “I hate to use this, but you could stub your toe and kill yourself.” After drinking the elixir Falathar felt almost Elven. He then saw how badly Erlig had been injured and cast a cure light wounds on him too.
We briefly discussed how we would attack and chose to have Agrent sneak in first. We would then follow and initiate the attack. As we drew closer Agrent signaled that we were close and to be quiet. The last he directed to Parlay and Sampson. We reached a point in the passage where we could see into the cavern. Agrent stealthy moved in and off to the left side without being seen. We could see the female Elf standing in the distance still reading out of a book in one hand. Her other hand still held a saw. The fat little demons seemed to be wandering about her and moving randomly. Falathar was stunned by her unusual features having never even of heard of purple skinned cousins. “She is rather handsome and intriguing. Perhaps she might be ‘interesting’ to know,” Falathar thought to himself.
Rain stepped up to the end of the passage and launched an arrow at the Elf. It found its mark, which caused the Elf and demons to turn to see where it had come from. Parlay’s arrow hit the Elf just as she was turning. We could see she was casting and looking at Agrent. The demons began jittering about and howling. She finished casting with Agrent thinking, “I’m in for it now!” To his surprise she cast Faerie Fire on Agrent. Sampson itching to reach the demons rushed in to attack. In his eagerness, he over swung and missed one of the demons. Agrent lit his torch and tried to hit one of the demons, but also missed. Erlig shot a magic missile at the purple-skinned Elf and was astonished to see it fissile away on contact with her skin. Bron shot his crossbow, but found her very hard to hit her. Several demons incensed at the good radiating from the Paladin rushed him. The remaining demons drew in a ring about the Elf to protect her. A couple of demons managed to claw Sampson and one clawed Agrent. Falathar began singing that familiar song to hearten and encourage his comrades, while Strabo gave a bit of luck to Rain. Cameo got off a shot with his crossbow and missed the elf, “Dam, She’s hard to hit!”
Rain moved out about to about ten feet behind Samson and Agrent, and shot a second arrow. Thanks to Strabo’s luck she scored another hit on the Elf. The Elf fired her hand crossbow and hit Agrent, who immediately feel into a deep sleep. Parlay followed Rain forward and was unsuccessful with his second arrow. The enraged Sampson cleaved twice into one of the demons surrounding him. Erlig sent a magic missile into the same and then moved up five feet. The demons really seem to like the taste of the Paladin over the Dwarf by four to one in their attacks. Falathar sent an arrow into the Elf still singing. Startled she looked up, “I thought I fed you to the Grell! You’ve kind of pretty face for a white one,” she smiled. Strabo ran up behind Rain to give her another bit of luck. Cameo shot at the Elf, missing again.
Rain put another arrow into the Elf thanks to Strabo. Parlay moved up to attack one of the Demons on Sampson. The Elven lass cast a spell and all the light dimmed to a bare glow. Bron and Falathar could still see her clearly as she started climbing the up the vertical arch of the Cyphergate like a spider. Sampson cleaved one demon, but missed the second. Erlig countered the Elf by casting light and the room returned to normal. Bron smashed one of the Demons. Falathar sent a second arrow into the Elf while singing, “Come back my love, I have a ‘kiss’ for you!” Strabo feeling sure he was on a streak cast bit of luck on more on Rain. Cameo wasted another bolt trying to hit the Elf.
Rain shot once more at the Elf and aided by Strabo’s “luck” and the hearty singing of Falathar hit her just as she was climbing up through a trap door. The purple-skinned Elf tried to catch herself, but fell thirty feet to the floor of the cavern. Falathar smiled to himself, “I bet that is a bit firmer than the bed!” Parlay hit his demon and it vanished with a “poof.” Sampson was able to cleave through one into a second, which dropped both as they went “poof.” Bron scored a vicious hit on the next demon. The demons in the back having seen several of their number killed along with Elf all vanished with a loud “poof!” Falathar put an arrow into one facing Bron. Strabo moved up to Agrent to pull the dart and do a heal check. Cameo tried putting a bolt into one of the remaining demons and missed, “It must be this dammed Orange Light!” Rain fired an arrow into the Parlay’s Demon and it exploded “poof!” Parlay turned back to Rain and glared, “that was my demon!” Incensed he stepped up with two hits on the last demon killing with a “poof!”
We joined Strabo to help with Agrent. After a careful check we found Agrent to be in a deep sleep. Strabo, “We now know where Saul got the drug he used on Falathar.” Falathar walked over to the Elf’s body along with Sampson. It was evident she had not survived the fall as the back of her head was crushed.