Few moments have passed as the sun lights your sweat as it forms on your skin. The stench of the dead swamp men in the cave is barely perceptible, meaning they may only be a few hours into their next life.
It has been more than a minute since you last heard Samsolon talk. Meanwhile you are furiously whispering up a reasonable plan to proceed with.
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok sounds good. Darren and Rikard stay here and watch for him to come out. Bart and I can look around.”
Bart: “Darren – You keep him speaking.”
Reess Whitesmith: “OK? Last chance for objections.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Go find the other side.”
Reess Whitesmith nods his head to the direction where they should head while looking at Bart.
Bart starts to the left of the cave.
Reess Whitesmith follows.
Rikard Castleberry readies himself just off to the side of the cave entrance.
Darren whispers "Rikard, I mean no disrespect however, we could stack the bodies in front of the entrance. If he tried to leave I would detect his movement.”
Darren coughs before beginning.
Rikard Castleberry: “Is there enough to do that?”
Darren: We could stack stones then bodes if there isn’t.”
Darren: “Just stay away from the opening.”
Darren: “Toss them into place.”
Darren: “From the side.”
Bart: There does not look like there is much chance for another entrance.
Reess Whitesmith: I am inclined to agree Bart.
Darren moves up and around the top, trying not to make a lot of noise…he leans over the edge and carefully exposes a small mirror to sunlight, enough to look into the cave
Bart: “Can you burrow?”
Reess Whitesmith: “If I had a shovel.”
Bart kneels to the ground looking over the scrub for the haze of rising air.
Reess Whitesmith makes a thorough circuit of the scrub area, stabbing at the ground with the heel of his boot to hear any hollows.
Bart and Reess work in concert to ascertain if there might be some other way to reach Samsolon without success. However, you find a set of tracks from Swamp Men that lead towards the back of the cave where Darren climbed up.
Reess Whitesmith returns to their meeting spot to the right of the entrance.
Reess Whitesmith shakes his head.
Bart follows the tracks back a bit.
Darren: “Samsolon, I doubt the Swamp men will let you live for very long. They are quite ruthless to their enemies.”
Darren presses his ear to the ground just above the cave entrance after he finishes speaking.
Bart continues to the shore.
Reess Whitesmith draws his rapier out and keeps an eye on Bart.
Bart leaves the hard high ground towards the north shore.
Darren grabs a clump of sandy dirt into his right hand
Bart: “How is your relationship with the Swamp men?”
Reess sees Bart reach the coastal plain at the edge of a thick overgrowth of jungle at the shore.
Darren with a flick of his arm, he tosses it down over the cave entrance, letting it sift down the front onto the ground.
Darren watches intently.
Darren remains prone against the ground above the cave and looks for where he last saw Rikard.
Darren shifts his body so that he can place his right ear against the ground and looks just over the lip of the top
Bart stops speaking to himself and continues on.
Darren whispers a few words and casts detect magic.
Darren looks out around the area he is laying, out to the left, right and center leading away from the cave entrance.
Bart continues back to see where they came from
Darren looks up and around the top of the cave where he is.
Darren continues to listen and monitor the mouth of the cave closely.
Bart walks out of the overgrowth within a minute, heading back to join the others.
Bart asks Darren, “Anything interesting?”
Darren looks over Bart intently
Darren turns to face his approach
Reess Whitesmith: “So what now?”
Bart: “We go in.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Swell.”
Darren: “So you did well, you found out that there was no other entrance.”
Darren: “I did not detect Sam leaving.”
Bart: “Did he tell you any more of his plans?”
Darren: “He did not speak.”
Rikard Castleberry: “He didn’t speak.”
Darren: “He has either escaped or he is waiting patiently for us.”
Bart: “Samsolon, You still there?”
Darren: “Bart, can you track in a radius in the surround to find out?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Didn’t find anything but swamp men prints.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Is it time to foolishly charge in yet?”
Darren: “NO, I have an idea.”
Bart: “The Blood Scar do not like you killing there warriors!”
Reess Whitesmith: (to Darren) “What is this idea?”
Darren: “Reess, you said you have some magic ability with fire?”
Reess Whitesmith holds up his hand with his finger and thumb separated a small bit.
Reess Whitesmith: “Why?”
Darren: “Does anyone have any oil?”
Darren looks at their faces.
Bart watches Reese from afar wondering why he would tell Darren that.
Rikard Castleberry: “No, no oil.”
Reess Whitesmith: “No.”
Darren: “Well I don’t either…hmm.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok then I guess we try your plan. Time to be stupid?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yay, stupid time!”
Darren: “It’s not going to be easy; he will try and envelop you all I am guessing.”
Darren: “Best not to go in at the same time or near one another.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’ll just have to make sure to …stamp…him out then.”
Bart: “Have you destroyed the bodies?”
Darren: “Bart, I haven’t given them any thought after your absence.”
Darren: “Such a thing sounds so ….grisly.”
Reess Whitesmith draws out his rapier from its scabbard.
Reess Whitesmith cracks his neck.
Bart: “Better grisly now then to have them arise behind us.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I can stab them each once, it might do something.”
Darren: “Well then I would suggest you drag them from the entrance and do this deed.”
Darren: “I will stay here and cover you.”
Darren: “It may be that he has more inside.”
Darren: “I never knew swamp men to go after an enemy without numbers.”
Reess Whitesmith helps drag em away from entrance and begins hacking their heads off.
Reess Whitesmith: “My apologies swamp man, but I am not sure you will not need it anymore.”
Rikard Castleberry separates the heads a small distance from the bodies.
Reess Whitesmith wipes the blood off on any garment they may wear.
Rikard Castleberry: “Alright then.”
Reess Whitesmith returns and sighs.
Bart: “Are we ready?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok so what exactly is the plan?”
Rikard Castleberry twirls his weapon in response.
Darren: “Well, we will have to locate him quickly. Let me throw down 2 torches.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Run in, subdue everything, and sort it out after?”
Darren removes his pack and begins to light the torches.
Reess Whitesmith: “Why only 2? Throw in 10 if you got em. He is accustomed to the dark, you 3 are not.”
Bart: “He has been very quiet. Let me enter to draw fire. Darren can shoot him once he is known.”
Darren lights a third one.
Darren leans over from above and tosses a torch down, but not too hard toward the right side.
Darren leans over and tosses a torch down the center as far as he can.
Darren leans over and tosses the last torch down the left side, somewhat hard.
Bart: “I don’t think he is down there.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Why because he didn’t react the way we thought he should? He is wily.”
Bart: “He may be cunning but he likes to talk.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok then, that’s about as good as it will get.”
Darren: “Well we will see.”
Bart waits for Darren to finish.
Darren: “One way or another.”
Reess Whitesmith shrugs.
Rikard Castleberry grins at everyone else, “Ready?”
Reess Whitesmith gets into a combat stance rapier resting on top of shield which is set in front of him as he crouches down slightly ready to rush in.
Bart rushes in low to ground looking at the ground before him.
(There is a trap on the first stair all the heroes encounter. The chest constricts and the mouth goes try. Dizziness threatens to buckle the knees. Thirst and fatigue try to take over. Darren is the only hero affected, he is fatigued.)
Bart: “There is a spell at the entranceway.”
Reess Whitesmith: “What does it do?”
Bart: “Sucks out your life if you are not strong.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Nice.
Reess Whitesmith stands in front and rushes in to the right side
Rikard Castleberry: “Sounds fun.”
Bart: “There is wounded here.”
Samsolon is slumped with his head bent to his chest. There is a pool of blood under his knees. And…
Distorted letters scrawl across the stone, beginning about two feet above the stairs and drifting downward at a steep angle, finishing only inches above the step. The words are composed of a reddish brown substance, and read, “The Dreamers shall never awaken”
Reess Whitesmith beheads him.
Bart: “Be careful of the gem.”
Bart: “We must figure out what he has done?”
Reess Whitesmith looks around with his superior Eyesight.
Reess Whitesmith: “Samsolon is dead.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Careful of the spell.”
Darren: “Alright, Reess, can you come to the cave entrance and look for any painted or carved runes?”
Darren looks over at Rikard.
Darren: “Hold up Rikard.”
Darren comes close to the entrance but does not go in.
Darren he tosses a torch lightly near the entrance.
As you descend the stairway, the swamp humidity gives way to a cooler and drier atmosphere. The sweat evaporates from your skin, and you have difficulty working up enough saliva to wet your tongue. Though the parched air does not feel natural, it is a pleasant contrast with the ever-sticky swamp. The ceiling retains the height of the entrance cave.
Reess Whitesmith: “He scrawled Let the dreamers never awaken in his blood on the ground.”
Bart: “I do not understand your magic. The spirits shun this place.”
Darren: “The entrance though.”
Bart: “Take his spear.”
Darren: “There must be something here if you felt something.”
Reess Whitesmith picks up the spear.
Rikard Castleberry walks in to survey the scene.
Darren waits for Rikard’s reaction.
Darren shrugs and heads in.
Rikard Castleberry searches Samsolon’s body for the rest of his belongings.
Darren enters picking up a torch and begins observing the area.
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s go in, he stopped something from happening, sacrificed himself for it too. He too could have been a pawn.”
Bart picks up a torch and starts looking around.
Rikard Castleberry grimly takes the shirt off of Samsolon, uses it to pick up the head, wraps it up, and carries it with him.
A humanoid metal statue stands in a small alcove at the bottom of the stairs. The head barely clears the ceiling. The statue resembles an armor plated praying mantis, double jointed legs bowed out at an odd angle and arms curled up by its side. A segmented tail is wrapped around the lower legs.
A few feet from the statue, towards the center of the room, the mummified corpse of a Swamp Man sprawls face down. His clothing has long since crumbled to dust and surrounds him in a fine powder. You see no obvious signs of injury.
Darren stops and takes a swig from his water skin, panting loudly and feeling exhausted.
Suddenly the sounds of someone entering the cave are heard by the party.
Ian Aedan “What in the name of all that is good and holy is THIS?!” A man comes down the steps, holding his arms out to his side. He has a puzzled and angry look on his face.
Darren spins around brandishing his crossbow, ready to shoot. He lowers and aims.
Rikard Castleberry: “Err.”
Bart: “Dorian send you to check on us?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Why are you here?”
Darren noticing that he remembers the man from somewhere, he relaxes and stands up.
Ian Aedan throws his hands up and looks up to the ceiling of the cavern, “do they have no faith in me?’Please investigate this area, we’ve heard rumors. Should be safe, come back and let us know if you find anything.’ And lo, you all show up here at the same time. Coincidence? I think not!”
Darren: “Um, well hello there sir, beware, there is some kind of magic at the entrance.”
Bart: “It sucks out the life of those who are weak.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah um, it’s um. How did you get right behind us without us noticing?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well. Good, since you are not here to kill us or bring us back, you might as well stay.”
Ian Aedan steps forward and points a finger, “They sent me here to do a job, and….” he pauses and shakes his head, “And…And…” he licks his lips, “Ahem…and I will write up the report. Including that.” He looks back to the entrance, “Amazing…arcane barriers.”
Bart: “Spirits shun this place including your own.”
Rikard Castleberry stands there like an idiot for a minute with an O.o look on his face, still wondering where this guy came from.
Darren weakly steps forward, “I am Darren; this is Bart, Reess and Rikard.”
Reess Whitesmith gestures to the body, "This is…was Samsolon. He did something here. Help us figure it out and I will give you a cookie.”
Ian Aedan turns back to the group, “Truly amazing….ahem. Anyhow, we had an agreement. I’m alright with Culand sending someone out to assist, but I insist that we follow this according to procedures. And that means, ‘Look, don’t touch.’” He holds up a finger as if to prove the point.
Rikard Castleberry: “It’s a little late for not touching.”
Ian Aedan: “And I’m Ian.” He hrms, “I know I’ve seen you about the city before, but I didn’t think you were in this profession. Oh well, stranger things happen out here.”
Rikard Castleberry holds up the shirt holding Samsolon’s head.
Bart: “We are here to free the dreamers.”
Rikard Castleberry deciding that Ian isn’t a threat, he turns back around and looks closer at the statue and swamp man.
Ian Aedan: looks at the shirt, "What did I say about not touching? Ah…alright, we’ll leave that out of the report. It’d look bad on all of us…Just…be careful from now on…..”
Reess Whitesmith: “And I am here to kill Hoyt. But he is not here. I don’t think.”
Darren: “Ian, we are not on any mission for the Jade leaf…we chased a man…a danger man and he came into this cave.”
Reess Whitesmith is interested in the statue.
Darren: “He killed many swamp men and now he is dead.”
When you step from the last stair to the rough stone floor, the statue’s eyes glow red and it moves! Yet it does not attack you. Rather, it walks slowly across the room, accompanied by whisper quiet whirs and clicks. You can see gears turning at its joints.
It strides toward another alcove, sending up puffs of dust with each step. Then the tails whips around to the front of the creature, creaking slightly as the joints move. The tip of the tail enters a hole in the wall beside the alcove. Something within the alcove crackles, and you hear the spinning of gears. Another statue identical to the first steps from the alcove and moves toward you.
Ian Aedan: eyes light up, “Amazing! What part of don’t touch anything didn’t you understand?!”
Rikard Castleberry places himself in-between his allies and the statue, holding a defensive stance.
Darren: “Well, we don’t have to fight in here Rikard…They might only be defending this cave, get out!”
Darren holds his action.
Bart rushes to Rikard’s side picking up the fallen spear and copying his stance. The spear is almost a twin of Rikard’s own weapon!
Reess Whitesmith steps up beside Rikard and spends the rest of the action defending.
Darren sighs and steps up "Well, I didn’t expect you to listen anyway.”
Darren readies himself and takes aim though he still feels somewhat tired.
Ian Aedan moves forward a bit, looking aghast, “Living statues or no, please, don’t destroy the corpses! Ahh…”
The first statue walks on into the dark, he steps down yet another step and then you hear “PanqK!” as its tail slams into the wall. A new pair of lights come on.
The new metal statue moves into Rikard’s range, drawing a free attack!
The blow is glancing, and leaves no lasting damage.
Bart: “Darren what does Pannk mean?”
Darren: “How the hell should I know?”
The metal statue lashes out with its supple metal tail while taking a broad talon like swing with one claw.
The tail lashes over head in a terrifying arc, but misses. However, the talons strike home! Bart is shaken.
Rikard Castleberry switches to his 2 ended hold on his spear and attacks!
He swings at the target 3 times, missing twice, and hitting once.
The hit is solid and cuts into the machine, but it is difficult to tell how effective it was.
Bart snaps out of it and tries to trip the creature with the spear.
Bart manages to entangle the metal statues tail and leg, it struggles to free it.
Rikard Castleberry strikes with precision at an oncoming statue.
Rikard Castleberry slices into the upper left armature and a vast puff of rust escapes from it!
The machine is stopped in its tracks!
Rikard Castleberry: “What are these?”
Bart: “Enchanted Statues.”
Darren aims high at the one Bart appeared to tangle up, he levels his crossbow up at one of the creature’s eyes and takes a called shot
Darren squeezes off a skilled shot at the right eye.
The shot seems to hit but is deflected by the shape of the oval eyes. Accurate but ineffective.
Ian Aedan moves forward, unslinging his bow as he cries out, “No! No no no! Stop attacking! You’re priceless artifacts! We can learn so much from you!”
Reess Whitesmith moved to Bart’s side, lining the units up.
Reess Whitesmith holds up a gauntleted hand; lightning crackles and bolts out.
The lightning forces two metal statues to dance for their lives. The lightning strikes both head on but for some reason has no effect beyond that of spectacle.