We three, Drogo the ranger, Tweena the dungeoneer and myself Baerig the mage, ventured along the Old Road and by early afternoon Drogo alerted me and Tweena to a ratling following us. Shortly thereafter a 7 ft.-tall mushroom creature came crashing through the trees towards us along the ratling’s trail whom by the way was nowhere to be seen. The monster was a blood-red mushroom with the cap shaped like a cup rimmed with teeth and four long tentacles dripping with a clear, sticky liquid walking on a dozen or so tentacle-like feelers. I identified it as a Crimson Fungus and we made quick work of it but not before it blasted us with its spore spray. Fortunately none of us suffered the ill-effects. Later in the evening we found ourselves at a deep ravine spanned by a ruined stone bridge.
We decided to descend the slope into the ravine, I teleported down after Drogo was at the bottom. The ranger spotted a cave mouth under the bridge in the side of the ravine so after Tweena was with us we made a beeline to it. Just as we reached the cave Drogo spotted a troll skulking in the shadows attempting to sneak up on us for a surprise attack. The troll was yellow-skinned with a black belly. I dispatched it with my acid bolt eldritch ability at the end of the short battle as well as its servant, a mangy ratling. We thought the troll might have been Blackgut only for a second realizing the troll was bestial and probably a latter generation clone of Blackgut himself. We entered the cavern lair and proceeded forward deeper into the lair and came to a large chamber with a hewn archway in front of us leading into a room with block walls and a large iron door with a sculpture of a troll’s head on it. There were open passages to the right and left as well. We took the left tunnel which descended rapidly and the north path of the fork that it led to and into a large cavern with a bubbling hot spring occupying most of its area. There was an opening to the left and a stairway to the right which led to a locked iron door. We were attacked by a pair of trolls, identical to the first, which burst from the steaming waters as well as two ratling slaves who tried to use the steam as cover in attempted sneak attacks mostly aimed at me, one of which hit its mark wounding me. Drogo was badly wounded in the fight by the trolls’ claws getting rent nearly in two by one of them before we finally defeated them. I cast a couple of Close Wounds spells on myself and Drogo to patch us up while Tweena turned her expert eye to the rusty iron door at the top of the steps.
She attempted to disarm the spring loaded blades on the door before trying to pick the lock. A loud click sounded and the blades sprung she narrowly avoided them by blocking with her steel buckler which was nearly destroyed. She eventually opened the door which we found opened into the brick-walled room we first happened upon when entering the cave. She inspected the chamber floor but found no traps and Drogo followed her towards the troll-head door. I decided to play it safe and wait in the archway by the open iron door. She didn’t find a trap and decided to try to open it but got blasted with a cone of lightning bolts which burst from the mouth of the troll’s head. Twice. She was badly wounded and I had to use a healing spell on her. My magic was by this time beginning to sap my vitality (exceeded my arcane spells per day and each spell after was inflicting Knockout Point damage). She decided to move on to the other iron door in the north wall. She easily opened the door and found a troll standing directly behind it ready to slash at her with its claws.
We retreated from the door and as the troll charged into the room we found he had a companion which followed after. I stayed at the door and blasted at them with my acid bolt as Drogo went heads up and Tweena tried to put some distance between herself and the filthy monsters so she could shoot at them with her crossbow which she wasn’t particularly skilled with btw. After a couple of rounds the trolls were dead and their corpses burning. We found they had ascended a set of stone steps which led down into a large cavern with an exit at its far end which turned south that we assumed wound back to the entrance passageway. Tweena and Drogo descended while I kept guard at the top of the steps while they checked the chamber. They were ambushed by a trio of ratling slaves and we made quick work of them.
After the skirmish Tweena began to check the south passage when the sound of a massive latch clacking as it was unlocked and the high pitched squeal of metal echoed throughout the cavernous lair. I could see that the troll-door in the brick-walled chamber was swinging slowly open and teleported to the bottom of the stairs as a precaution as Drogo prowled up to the top to see what was going on. Out of the door came 1 large troll assumed to be Blackgut who was armed with a heavy flail followed by a ratling in a crimson cape with an eye-patch over his right eye bearing a spear. Behind those two were another large but bestial troll with a chest on his shoulder and a ratling slave wearing a collar chained to the troll’s waist who was lugging a full sack on his back. I walked halfway up the steps so I could meet the whites of their eyes and shouted, “come meet your doom ya stinkin’ troll!”
In response Blackgut yelled back in a deep, gravelly voice crackling with phlegm, “I’ll kill you later.” With that he inserted a large gold key in a hidden keyhole and all of the doors including the two smaller iron doors which we had opened along with the troll-door slammed shut sealing us off from the brick-walled chamber. So we ran south with Tweena in the lead.
We spotted the yellow backside of the animalistic troll passing out of the now torch lit entrance into darkness of night. By the time the ranger reached the mouth of the lair they were gone and out of sight. I teleported to the cave mouth and cast Illuminate but they were indeed gone. My light however did allow Drogo to pick up their trail and us to track them down. After about an hour we approached a small clearing in the Blackwood where we could see they were meeting with a group of Red Daggers with two prisoners in the clearing between the two groups. The prisoners were a ratling and a female faun dressed in the black robes of a necromancer. Drogo began to move towards the clearing approaching a position that would allow him to use his bow. He was spotted by a ratling sentry hidden in the bushes who whistled a warning to our enemies. The fight was a disaster though we were able to free the two prisoners.
Blackgut had barely been scratched and only two of the Red Daggers, some lowly thugs, had been the only casualties on our enemies’ side. I had been gravely wounded and Drogo had been knocked unconscious. The last time I saw Tweena she too was badly hurt and ducking into the bushes with the two freed prisoners. I grabbed the ranger by the collar and teleported us both back to the edge of town. I banged on the barred door of the tavern until someone opened it and bribed them with a gold piece to let us sleep on the floor where I could see two barbarians snoring in puddles of vomit and beer. I healed up Drogo’s wounds as best I could or at least so he wouldn’t die anyway and the last of my vitality spent I collapsed into sleep on that filthy floor.
To Be Continued…