Sundered Lands 26

The Sundered Lands of Palladium

Session 26
August 29- September 11, 2016

Inside the Sea Harpy Lair

Saturday October 28th

Where's The Doorway?

Arn slides the boat up to the dock and Moonscar and Sings to Moon both hop out while the Dwarf ties the rope up. Seeker pulls himself up onto the dock and Silver swims up to the sandy beach. Valinya and Fortis fly up.

The sound of lapping water fills this chamber, a natural sea cave that incorporates a large sloshing tidepool. To the north, a low sandy beach seethes with brightly colored crabs. To the south, a larger sandy beach slopes up to the glistening wall. A short wooden pier protrudes from this beach into the pool, and the cavern winds around the corner beyond. To the north, a large opening sits, previously blocked by a wooden wall of planks but now providing access to the harbor beyond. The smell of sea water is strong. Mold and mildew also fill the air. Seeker and Moonscar can smell the varied scents of the harbor nearby and the strange smell, like that of water mammals or large fish, Seeker thinks. The ceiling is 15 to 20 feet high in most places, though Seeker may have to watch his head if he is too close to a wall. The beach appears to slope quickly into the water and the pool looks quite deep in some places.
sl25c.pngSeveral of the  manta ray creatures can be seen swimming and circling in the western end of the pool while another manta can be seen floating, belly up to the east, just past the small pier everyone is gathering around. The air in this area is moist and earthy. The smell of the harbor is strong. There does not appear to be any air flow besides a gentle ebb and flow that coincides with the sloshing water.  A smaller, more narrow sea passage leads to the south past the beach and pier.

Looking up at the glistening rock wall ahead, there is no sign of the wide open passageway entrance that Eliar had indicated on his map.

Seeker quickly sizes up the situation. “Okay, Val, Brother, maybe you two could start checking out the area where that door is supposed to be. Arn, you and I can watch our flanks.” He sheathes Charnag Velve and readies a throwing axe. “Silver, if those mantas are wising up and giving you some room, maybe you could check out that corner - look for that tunnel to the bottom of that well.”

Silver looks back the way the party has come as Seeker suggests the course forward.  “Sure, let me go close the outer door first, so we don’t end up with angry townsfolk finding their way in here.”  Silver looks to the western niche in the cave.  “I’ll check that corner out next.”

She moves back into the water, swimming back up to the entrance door mostly underwater.  After having a quick look around to make sure nobody is looking, she reaches out of the water to grab the end of the door with her teeth and pull it back to its original position.

The Ellyl looks around the dank cavern, hoping to understand the best places to fight from if they need to retreat here. “Val, it may be slow going, but perhaps making our own entrance through this rock would allow us a bit of surprise. What do you think?”  

Arn makes his way ashore. “I don’t like the fact that there are no other boats docked here. Makes me think some of them ran away already.” Arn makes his way south to the wall. “These buggers have been holed up here quite a long time. I reckon that they probably have had time to set up some type of secret passageway, especially since the first map shows a way through this wall. We should check it out quite thoroughly.”

Arn starts checking the wall to the south for any type of hidden doorway or passage or trigger mechanism that may open a concealed passageway.   

Realizing that Arn’s Dwarven background could be very useful in revealing the hidden door, Seeker steps forward and expands his field of view, trying to keep all entrances that he can see under regular surveillance. He has to stand away from the wall due to the sloping nature of the ceiling. Not the best position for this, but I know I can trust Arn to cover my flanks.

Arn begins a search of the wall, knowing full well that just searching the area that the door was supposed to be in would take him about 5 minutes do to right.

While Silver swims back toward the door and the others move about the southern beach, Moonscar watches Sings to Moon as she hops off the dock and starts into the water, sniffing and pointing at the dead floating manta nearby. The wolf paws at the water and barks, filling the cavern with an echoing sound. Arn begins his search of the wall right in the middle, where Eliar had drawn the passageway. With a loud creak, Silver pulls the secret harbor door back down, quickly realizing that the two chains that had been seen were actually a counterweight system to help the door open and close without having to use too much strength, though just slightly more than Fortis was able to muster.  

Seeming to have not heard Seeker's earlier suggestion, Moonscar begins moving around the beach, sniffing the air and frequently conferring quietly with the rat on his shoulder.

Seeker smacks his forehead and draws Charnag Velve. Concentrating, he uses the magic of the Deep Blade to see through the walls of the cavern, looking for the passageway and portal that they seek.

Right in the middle of the wall, right where Eliar had said it was, Seeker sees a passage past about a foot and a half of solid rock. The passage heads south for about 10 feet then jogs to the left and continues, just like Eliar said it would. Sadly, he can’t see any more than that as the passageway is lined with brick and his sword does not allow him to see through worked stone. Scanning the area to the right, he can see the brick lined outline of what Eliar laid down in his crude map, again, the man proves to have been true to his word. To the left, Seeker sees a series of natural caverns that were not on Eliar’s map. He had stated that he didn’t know what was over there. By stepping all the way to the farthest eastern edge of the sandy beach area, Seeker is also able to confirm the existence of secret rooms, possibly accessible through the doorway in the Training Hall.

While Seeker is looking through walls, Silver swims through the water over to the western end of the pool, looking for the little alcove and some sort of passage or tunnel that leads over to the pool beneath the well. As she swims, she keeps an eye out for the three mantas that she had seen over here but she cannot see them. Assuming they have swam off somewhere, she continues to the far end of the room.

Seeker gestures with his blade at the wall. “The passageway is right there, guys. Looks like they had an earth-mage seal it up or something. The stone is about a foot and a half thick at this point.” Then he points off to the side. “There are more rooms over there, but I don’t see any way that they connect to the complex we are trying to get into, or to the area we’re in now.”

“Well, on the one hand, if we take the open path to the other beach we can get there quietly, though not necessarily unnoticed. On the other, we are closer to our avenue of retreat if we open the covering to the hidden hallway and enter there. In either case, it would surprise me to find we can pluck our lotus without a bigger fight than we anticipated. Maybe it would make sense to create a servant in the form of Eilar Peak and hope it adds confusion to our opponents.”

Now knowing that Seeker said there must be some sort of secret passage, Arn increases his search in detail. He first goes over the area with a Regular search, and looks over everything. Failing that, he will go back over it more carefully to make sure that he didn’t miss anything over the first time.

After floating around seeking the sought after entrance, Valinya heads over to where the stone-covered door is located.  “It’s not that thick of a blockage and with a little time I can certainly create a portal for us, converting the stone to air.  The same goes for anywhere else in this place.  I also have a spell that lets me or someone walk through the earth, or stone, as well.  I would imagine we could do some interesting things with that.  And I would like to go on record as desiring to avoid any combat … or at least keep it to a minimum.”

“Well, those capabilities, could certainly help us reduce our risk in combat, but I suspect fighting will eventually become inevitable. If we combine unexpected mobility with well targeted illusions it might let us set up very good ambushes. We need to be careful though, we are not the only spell casters in this fight… one of our primary concerns should remain keeping those opposing magi from becoming too effective. I think we ought to be prepared to ward against hostile spellcraft.”

“Yes, some of our most difficult combats have been against other mages.  I think those should be a primary target.  And from experience trying spells that target their minds are going to be difficult to make work.  However something that affects their body would likely be more effect.  Or …” Valinya lowers her voice.  “Perhaps using some mind magic to influence one of their combatants and convince him or her to fight the mage would work better.  Hard to cast spells when someone is trying to poke holes in your body.”  After a pause she added, “I believe that would fit within our agreed upon framework for mind magic, would it not?”

“I had a similar thought regarding the tactic… I’m glad to see we are in agreement. I don’t know of a way to effectively argue against the validity of the proposed plan or its conformance to our agreement, but I find it hard to argue against myself well since I am so often correct.” Fortis graces Valinya with a self-deprecating smile. “In any case, if it is the two of us against one of them I would suggest we proceed in tandem, one of us attacking the other mage directly, say with a spell to dominate their will, while the other uses a more indirect method to eliminate their threat via another avenue while they are distracted by the first mage. As much as I would like to interrogate the Lotus Lady I’m much more interested in keeping our team alive and sane.”

“And if there are two mages we have to just divide and conquer, one each.  However, I am reminded that one of my first mind spells and by far a favorite, Daze, isn’t resisted by one’s mental strength.  It actually affects the brain itself, the physical organ, and so is resisted by one’s constitution or something like that. Perhaps that would be good initial choice.”

Fortis nods “an interesting suggestion, and it occurs to me that if we were to each bombard the mage with that spell, even if he were to Ward against one of them there is little chance he could succeed in warding against both simultaneously, that could make for a quick end to the fight. If it does not succeed though ought we to have another tactic? Perhaps it would make sense to ahh… overly illuminate the battleground for a moment to distract all of our opponents simultaneously and then proceed. What do you think?”

“A blinding flash?  Not a bad idea for an opener as long as our team was prepared … say a keyword to have them close their eyes.  And yes, perhaps a dual or simultaneous Daze would be a good idea.  Aside from a potential ward it would be harder to resist I’d think.  And along with your flash I could do something as well … I’ll think about that.”

Fortis looks quizzically at Valinya for a moment and flutters up to her shoulder, cupping his tiny hand to whisper in her ear. “We already established that... the trigger word is Daisy, remember?” He hovers back slowly, regaining a more normal conversational distance. “Perhaps thunder AND lightning would be a good combination… although oddly enough I’d be providing the ‘lightning’ in this scenario and you’d be responsible for the audio component of our little show.”

“Hmm.  I haven’t used any of those spells in awhile.  I’d probably have to have it already cast and in hand … and then my throwing skills aren’t anything to get excited about.”

“hmmm… I can see your point, though why throw when you can cast directly? A Thunderclap may not be as damaging or stunning, but would certainly add to the general confusion.” Fortis looks like he wants to broach a potentially controversial subject, but the expression is quickly squelched. When we get through this hellishly trying day I need to figure out a way to encourage her to practice that spell throwing technique. It could really help the group… actually, I could stand to learn that spell myself, after I get through all the other studying I have planned.

“Thunderclap … I’m not sure I’ve even cast that except for practice.  Well, maybe an occasional joke.  But it only deafens, it doesn’t stun so that might not be helpful.”

“You are right, the reduced effect might diminish the utility to the point where some other action on your part would provide better utility and keep us a bit safer. What about making Moonscar’s wolf invisible so he can go hamstring an opposing mage while the rest of us dedicate ourselves to the fight in a more normal way? I think she is pretty fast, and I wouldn’t want to try spell casting while being chewed on by a wolf.”

“Hmm … I have really wanted to do the invisibility spell in a real situation.  I was thinking more of doing it on myself.  The best defense is not being targeted you know.  But perhaps having another be invisible could be very helpful.  Maybe if Seeker or Arn were invisible .. THAT would be very dangerous for the other side, especially if he were also hastened.  Or better yet a great haste.  Ouch.”

“I was under the impression this spell was canceled when its recipient attacked. I find it unlikely that Arn or Seeker would wade past opponents to go seek out a mage without feeling the need to attack. They are more likely to be bashing skulls and removing limbs like they always do… though I do agree that the prospect of them doing it at double speed would be… disheartening to our enemies. The reason I proposed Sings to Moon is that she is fast and does not have the wherewithal to easily get through armor, at least that I know of. If we are facing a combination of warriors in armor and a magi without I think the obvious target for the wolf would be the mage… but in order to get there the invisibility would be a great boon. Couple that with the likely arrangement of the mage being behind the warriors implies that we might want someone fast, stealthy, dangerous to the unarmored and not otherwise occupied by engaging the opposing warriors. Of course, that whole hypothetical tactic hinges on the idea that Sing to Moon can and will engage that target selectively, which I’m more hopeful than certain of.”

“The problem with the great haste is the after-effects and I really would need permission ahead of time to do that.  After about ten seconds it causes some significant exhaustion.  But when active it rocks.”  

Fortis nods. “Perhaps discussing it before hand would be wise, though I’m confident Arn would view it as a boon, regardless of the tiring effects to follow.” The Ellyl returns his attention to the blocked passageway in front of them. “Have you had any more thoughts about your preferred method of opening that passageway? A few yards of earth isn’t more than a few seconds and, with your skill, shouldn’t be dramatically tiring should it?”

“Agreed.  I can simply vaporize it a bit at the time.  Not a problem.  You know, maybe I could just stay in my body of air form and become invisible.  Then I could flit about, do a quick spy job to see who is where and what surprises we might have then come back.”

Val becomes aware that although Seeker is standing watch facing away from the wall, his ears have been definitely cocked towards this discussion. He rumbles, “That is certainly something useful to keep in your toolbox, Val, but in these constrained quarters, it would be too likely to run into another of those magic-dead areas, which could expose you to our foes.”

He chuckles. “I like some of your ideas for dealing with enemy mages though. They are usually behind defenses Arn and I have to deal with in order, and they can be nasty. I think your plans show the correct priorities. Arn, Silver, and I can go on offense against the more mundane foes, Moonscar is good for defense and flanking, and you two are formidable with regards to magical combat aspects, both offensive and defensive.”

“Thank you, Seeker.  What are your thoughts about hasting you or Arn?  And what about the cover of darkness concept?”

Seeker stands quietly for a moment, thinking. “Well, I do know that using your magics to allow Arn or myself more opportunities to deal with enemy forces is awesome. The fatigue is an acceptable cost, at least in my opinion.” He thinks for a while more. “Down here, though, I would hold off on its use. We are likely to meet small bands of skirmishers, in waves. I think Arn and I can handle those without the ‘boost’, if you will.” He cracks his neck as he keeps scanning the cavern for threats. “If we find ourselves in a pitched battle, though, go for it.”

“The Darkness is good, especially if we want to keep our options open to attack or retreat. I’d be out of ranged attacks pretty quickly, but Arn’s magic mace could have a field day.” He turns to his Dwarven comrade. “Right, Arn?” He continues, “Then if they bring a large force to bear, we can fade back and they would not be able to tell for a while.”

Making a New Door

While the conversation goes on Valinya decides to get with the work before her, singing a quick lilting tune that starts gravelly and low but quickly becomes light and airy.  As she works small parts of the wall before her begin to vaporize into air … not even dust rises to indicate the missing rock.  

Arn takes in the conversation, nodding in agreement several times.   “Aye there.   The haste magic is fun, I was benefit of it once or twice, and the impact it had in battle was well worth the fatigue.    If things go to hell, then bring it on for us. And as for the darkness, if we fall into that situation, my enchanted helmet will allow me to see in the darkness for a limited amount of time, more than enough for me and my enchanted mace to wreak havoc over our foes. I would rather get through this quickly and with as little blood-shed as possible, but if we have to fight, I have no problem holding our ground. I also have no issues about hunting mages, so if that is what I have to do, than so be it. For ranged combat, I think maybe we need to start teaching Silver how to use a crossbow or bow and arrow or something.”

Fortis looks on with a slight air of envy. I do so need to improve my understanding of the elemental colleges… if only we had more time… hmm… well, we’re about to break through into hostile territory, I should probably prepare. The Ellyl beckons his most encumbered companion over to the area beside the wall “Arn, would you mind trying something a bit out of the ordinary?” Fortis quickly explains that, if Arn is willing, he could have a Flash spell woven into the handle of one of his cheap throwing axes with a Delay triggered to a phrase. “The idea is that you could throw it as far as you can towards a group of opponents… you wouldn’t even need to hit anyone. Then when you say ‘Shim Chornght’ (Dwarven for ‘broken eyes’) the Flash will go off in their area and cause a good deal of confusion and discomfort for them. The weaving will only last a few hours, but we are likely to have either used it or not need it by then. So, what do you think? If you want to do this, we should do it now, before we break through the wall, so I have a few minutes to recover from the casting.”

The dwarf smiles at the Ellyl’s suggestion. “Aye there wee one, this is the type of smart trickery we need more of!” The Dwarf lets out a good laugh. “I like the idea of taking our opponents by surprise. It will give me time to close in on them, because, as you all know, us dwarfs are natural sprinters, very fast over short distances.”

Arn then produces the throwing axe hanging to his lower right, usually the first axe he throws, for Fortis to enchant.

Fortis lays one slender finger on the cheap steel cap protecting the butt end of the throwing axe and concentrates for two seconds. Fortis says “I’m going to rest for five minutes while Valinya digs out that passageway” as he sits down on the top of Arn’s backpack trying to think of more entertaining ways to discomfort the opponents they would soon be facing. Yes, maybe a servant who looks just like our informant might cause enough confusion to be worthwhile…

Something Fishy Going On

Arn hefts his newly enchanted axe and nearly salivates with anticipation of getting to use it. Meanwhile Valinya finishes her Earth to Air song and is left with a hole in the wall 3’ high and 5’ wide, plenty big enough for everyone to crawl through. Silver looks over at the hole as she swims over to the watery alcove at the far western end of the room and starts looking around for something. Not seeing anything immediately and begins rooting around under the surface the water and finds what appears to be a grate covering the end of a large corroded pipe leading down. Curious pokes her snout sudden into it, process stirring up some sediment the water. While she her head in the pipe, Silver hears a strange, muffled, warbling sound. She turns to let the others know what she found and heard just in time see the three manta creatures springing up from the sandy bottom and torpedoing toward her! Seeker, watching Silver in the water sees the sneak attack as at the same time that Sings to Moon yelps is thrown up and out of the water, slammed into side of the dock by another manta swimming up from somewhere deeper in the cavern.
sl26c.pngHearing the commotion from the water, Arn turns around and fast-draws Olum Kanat Sican, his enchanted bat-mace, turning around looking for one of the Mantas to hurl this instrument of death into.
Silver moves to dodge the Mantas, or at least mitigate their impact. Dammit, I knew these things would be trouble still.  Her dodge takes her upwards, and she breaches the surface of the water, all three of the mantas passing beneath her.  

As Silver splashes back down into the water, she catches a glimpse of a familiar weapon careening through the air toward her. Trusting in Arn’s aim, she keeps her focus on her opponents. Arn's mace flies true, enters the water just a few feet from Silver and strikes one of the black, rubbery creatures before magically returning to the Dwarf’s outstretched hand.

Fortis debarks from the pack resting on the shoulders of a suddenly active dwarf and settles again nearby where he can both recover his energy and watch Valinya’s progress to be able to react quickly to anything she uncovers.

Seeker swears and draws his blade, charging into the waters towards Silver.

Turning around at the sudden commotion Valinya quickly takes in the situation and pauses, waiting to see how she might help best.

Silver almost jumps out of the water again to get over and past the Mantas.  She ends up in the larger area where she can more easily get out of the water.
sl26d.pngOn the other side of the cavern, Moonscar steps forward and starts hitting the creature moving in to attack Sings to Moon again, splashing water everywhere and hooting and hollering to at least try to distract the aquatic attacker. The “winged” sea creature flutters backward into deeper water, avoiding the Druid’s strikes. Sings to Moon scrambles to her feet and starts viciously barking at the creature but backs up toward shallower water and Moonscar. The manta speeds forward, slashing at Sings with its tail then turns and swims under the dock and disappears from Moonscar’s sight out in the middle of the pool somewhere. Moonscar does catch sight of another manta swimming in fast from his right. It is hugging the far wall and heading out toward the main part of the chamber as well.

Back on the other side of the pool, the three mantas turn and follow Silver, slamming into her as she tries to make her way out of the water.

Arn catches the enchanted bat-effigy mace as he steps closer to Silver. “Bah! We don’t have time for this shit!”. He moves up closer and holds his aim until Silver is clear of the water and hopes to throw again at one of the mantas, hoping to get it away from his companion.

Fearing that this is an intentional distraction on the part of our enemies somehow, and not certain why his companions don’t simply exit the water Fortis continues to watch the newly re-excavated passageway. This doesn’t feel right, something else is going on.

Glancing over to keep an eye on Fortis she addresses the curious Ellyl saying, “Fortis, please don’t separate from the group … stay where we can see each other.”  Swiveling her head she looks back at the water play, standing by in case she feels intervention is needed.  

“Silver, can you retreat to the beach?” With that, Seeker stabs one of the mantas attacking the dragon.

“Do not worry yourself Valiya, I am not going anywhere until this is resolved. I simply suspect we are inviting another avenue of attack if we are not vigilant. I will watch the passageway from way back here. On a separate note, once Silver is out of the water a Concussion or Lightning spell thrown into the water would probably affect many of those aggressive fish all at the same time.”

Silver turns and retreats from the attacking mantas again, but one of them scores a hit, slamming into her violently just as Seeker’s greatsword flashes past her, striking at the creature. The tip of Seeker’s sword finds its mark and sinks deeply into the rubbery flesh of the sea creature. Dark, gooey blood spills from the wound and the manta flutters back and drops to rest on the sandy bottom.

Behind Seeker, on the beach, Arn curses as he realizes that all angles of attack are blocked by Silver and now Seeker, who has rushed out into the water to aid the young Dragon. Hoping to get a better shot, Arn moves slowly to his left, along the sandy beach.

Moonscar urges Sings to Moon away from the water and calls out to his friends that more mantas are coming up from the other watery passageway to the east. Valinya continues to monitor the situation on the beach and in the water while Fortis carefully watches down the dark, brick lined hallway to the south. The only light in the chamber, his continual light spell on the bottom of the boat makes very harsh shadows down the hallway, but his magical Ellyl eyes have no problem seeing in the darkness. What does block his view is the fact that the corridor turns and take a little jog to the east after only about 10 feet or so. Flittering back and forth in low opening that Valinya made, the tiny mage tries to get a better look down the hallway. He finally finds a spot that allows him a line of sight for nearly another 20 feet until another brick wall blocks his sight. He strains his little ears and eyes, trying to pick up on some sound or sight that would indicate what might be going on down there but the yelling, cursing and splashing of his companions on the beach does much to distract him.

Having already pressed further in than he originally intended Fortis begins casting a Watchdog spell (2 hex radius, no fatigue) in the narrow passageway. Given a moment to consider the nature of his surroundings Fortis decides he should shift his illusion disguise into the form of a small sand colored rat when he gets a chance.

Unable to hold back any longer, Valinya steps forward and sings a quick, moving melody while pointing an airy finger at the middle of the three mantas and the creature suddenly lurches and flies up and back, out of the water, suspended in the air magically! It flaps its “wings” frantically and is making an odd moaning and squeaking sound as it struggles.

Hoping to be done with this aquatic nonsense and seeing that her friends have currently got her covered, Silver continues her way to the beach, pulling her silver scaled body up onto the sand and turning around to take stock of the situation.

The two mantas still capable of movement on their own both peel away from the area, make tight turns and then race back toward Seeker, slamming him in the legs!

The bony crest of the manta catches Seeker below the knee. Pain shoots up his leg as it crumples and he finds himself toppling to one side.

Arn steps up again, moving close and tries to get a clear shot, throwing his enchanted mace at one of the creatures closing in on Seeker.  

In a splash of water and manta guts, Arn’s mace finds another target. Before the weapon has even flown back to his hand, Arn sees the manta floating upside down near Seeker’s feet, its innards seeping into the underground lagoon.

From the other side of the dock, Moonscar calls out again, “... and another one has joined us! Not sure if there’s more coming, but it's possible!”

Determined to make sure at least one manta ray is out of the fray Valinya apportates it over toward the beach where she plans to leave it to flop around harmlessly for awhile.

Seeker scrambles back onto the beach, swing his legs up and out of the water just as one of the mantas zooms by for another attack! They really make good use of the hit-and-run tactic. The water helps, but their speed is what really makes it work. Have to see if I can use that myself…

Moonscar and Sings to Moon move back toward the protection of the wall behind them but keep an eye on the watery passageway leading to the south. Silver claws the sand and moves along the beach, watching the mantas in the lagoon but not getting too close to the water.

Moonscar hisses loudly, “Yep, at least 2 or three more coming from down here! Keep your eyes open!” There are now at least 4 swimming mantas in the lagoon. They are keeping to the far side of the lagoon, near the crab infested beach on the northern edge of the cavern. They swim swiftly back and forth along the sandy bottom, occasionally cresting, rolling or turning.

Seeker struggles to his feet, wincing as he puts weight on his injured leg. Interesting that they target the legs? Perhaps they’ve fought land creatures before. I wonder how intelligent they are? Moonscar might know. “Hey Brother? Any idea what these things are?”

Moonscar calls back from the other side of the chamber in Wolfen, resorting to his native tongue in times of stress, “Yea, some sort of manta ray, but strong and smart. I’ve heard talk of something called a Demon Ray, these might be them. Rumored to be smart, very smart. Possibly sentient but I’m not sure if these are them. Also could be Waterbats, but I recall them being possessed of psychic power and I haven’t seen that yet, have you?”

Arn again flings his mace at one of the swimming mantas but this time, as the weapon hits the water, the creature gracefully spins and deftly avoids the strike. Meanwhile, Silver stalks along the sand watching the swimming curiosities. When one swims close, Silver belches forth a blinding white-hot spray of fire. The fire hits the water, causing instant steam and quickly Silver cuts the fire off when she realizes how close to their boat the flame had come. The manta that she had been aiming at quickly swims in the other direction and it is unclear whether the dragon fire affected it or not. The other mantas follow suit and start swimming toward the harbor entrance to the lagoon, possibly to make a retreat.

“Silver! Let them go! Val has a way in for us.” Although their heads are hard enough - we may need to beach the boat to keep them from sinking it. Keeping an eye on the water, Seeker limps over to the dock and proceeds to pull his boat up onto the beach. “It’ll be safer up here, I think.”

Fortis continues to conserve his energy, suspecting that there will be better uses for his exertions in the very near future.

Arn catches his enchanted mace once again and turns his attention back towards the opening Valinya had created in the wall. He looks back a moment and points towards Seeker with his mace, “Can one of ye see to it that he gets healed up? We’re gonna need everyone at strength in a moment.”

Arn than faces towards the opening, secures his helm and readies his shield as he takes up point and starts moving toward the entrance, wary of who or what they may find beyond….

Moving In

Keeping a wary eye on the swimming mantas, Silver moves to help Seeker pull the small boat up onto the beach. After a few minutes, the mantas have all but disappeared from the lagoon and the entire room goes dark as the boat slides up onto the sand. There is just the tiniest sliver of light glowing out from under the boat. Moonscar reports that a few of them swam back past him further into the underground area but most must have fled out through the space below the fake wall under the dock.

Arn eyes the opening that Valinya had made in the wall, only about 3 feet tall. He harrumphs as he acknowledges that he will have to get down on his belly and crawl through the hole. “I can spend some time, and cast some more spells if it would make it more convenient for you, Arn,” Valinya says playfully. “It’s really quite a big opening, see,” she easily floats through the hole as a body of air, then back again.

Without being able to spend the time to become fully rested, Fortis checks to make certain his illusion Disguise and Missile Shield are both still sound and the sand colored rat pokes its twitching nose up and asks the group, whiskers wiggling away,  “Are you ready? Does anyone need more light, or anything else to help us in our goals? My watch-line has not been disturbed so I don’t think they are coming out to greet us so let’s get in there and finish this. Oh, and Arn, use that enhancement at the first opportunity, it is more draining than I anticipated and might make subsequent opponents additionally wary of your mighty meat-tenderizer.”

Seeker eyes the opening as he sheathes his sword. “That should work. Arn, you want me to take point, or are you ready?”

Without much more planning, the group follows Arn, everyone but Fortis and Sings to Moon having to crawl on their bellies to fit. Moonscar only has to crouch down on all fours, though the top of the opening does knock off the dead manta body he has taken and fashioned as a strange headpiece. When he receives some looks at the manta, the Kankoran merely shrugs, arches an eyebrow and continues on. Silver brings up the rear of the group, sniffing and flicking out her tongue at the dead manta on his friend's head.

The hallway is narrow and dark. The walls, floor and rounded ceiling are all lined with moist, dripping bricks, many black with mold. Sprouts of fungus appear in various spots. Arn makes his way to the nearest corner and peeks around. “The tunnel goes another 5 paces or so then I can see what might be a door in the right hand side wall.”

Arn sets Olum Kanat Sican, his enchanted mace back upon his weapon harness.   He loosens the strap on the throwing axe Fortis enchanted. Keeping “Lefty” and his large right gauntlet free, he walks down the hallway, trying to be quiet, and approaches the door. Arn takes a moment to remove his helmet and listen to the door and into the room beyond before restoring his enchanted full helm upon his fully bearded face.

Suddenly very conscious of all the feet stomping along in this narrow passageway Fortis stick extremely close to the wall and a few paces back from whoever is second to last in line. Maybe I should appear like a glob of hanging vines suspended from the arch of the passageway, or a large insect crawling along the ceiling… not a roach though, too undignified.

Arn does not hear anything through the door. He sees that the wood the door is damp and swollen. The wooden jamb is as well.  A rusty metal pull hangs on the right side. Rusty hinges line the left.

Not wanting to distract Arn’s inspection of the door, Seeker whispers, “Val, it’s getting kinda dark in here. Can you whip us up some light? Or do you want me to get out one of my torches?”

“Oh, light is no problem.  I can perhaps enchant a stone or some item on someone.  Any suggestions, War-Leader?  Also,” she looks over the group, “it might be worth taking a few minutes to rest and let me heal up our injuries.  Though minor, they could make the difference between victory or defeat.  Besides,” she scrunches her face up, “they look painful.”  Floating over she starts on the healing first, waiting input on an idea for a light source.  

Valinya hums a quiet little tune and nods toward Seeker. The tip of his yellowwood staff begins to glow like a candle, only an even steady light. It is not much light but illuminates the dark corridor and allows everyone to at least see where they are going.

As Valinya casts her healing magic on her companions, Moonscar’s wolf companion slinks up through the ranks. In the dim light, Valinya sees her limping and realizes that she has taken quite a beating from the manta in the water moments ago. The wolf looks up at Valinya with big, sad eyes and tries to rub against her. Sings growls quietly when she passes through Valinya’s airy form.

“Oh, you poor baby!  Come here and let me sing for you too.”  Reaching over to “brush” the wolf’s fur with her windy touch Valinya heals her as well.  “If no one minds, I’d like to take a few minutes to regain my strength so I’m at full force for whatever we may need ahead.”  

Arn grumbles something that sounds like “rest when we're dead…” and reaches for the pull ring.

Arn tries to resist his impulsiveness. He understands allowing his companions time to rest, but doesn’t want to give his enemy more time. Arn first tries to pull the ring on the door to see if it is locked at all. If it is, he will stop and pull out his lock-picking kit, knowing that will take up ample time for Valinya to rest.

Hmmm… maybe I’m closer to achieving invisibility than I thought. I asked anyone if they needed light and they didn’t respond. I asked them if they needed anything before we moved on and they ignored the question. Perhaps I’m already so inconspicuous that they are having trouble hearing me. That could be a very good thing, or a very bad thing depending on the circumstance. Or perhaps they are not listening. Or aren’t able to predict that they will need additional light to see. Well, we will eventually figure this out.

Arn grabs the pull ring and gently pulls it. He feels the door move a bit but it does not open. He lets the ring go and looks for a lock or other opening mechanism but does not see one. Observing the swollen wood of the door and jamb, he assumes that the door is just stuck and would require a bit of a stronger pull to open it. “Here we go,” the Dwarf grunts and yanks on the door handle with both hands.

With a loud creak and groan the door flies open, coming unstuck with the help of Arn’s thick Dwarven muscles. Light spills from the room and the sound of crossbow strings fill the air. Arn sees a volley of several crossbow bolts flying at him from a group of crouching men partially hidden behind an upturned table across the room. One of the bolts hits the door near his hand but the other two are coming right for him. The Dwarf shifts and tries to dodge the missiles and they both thud into his shield and drop to the floor. He also sees two small brown pouches tossed in his direction. One lands on the floor just inside the door and the other one flies out into the hallway. When they hit, a strange dark mass covers the floor. Reaching black tentacles grab at the feet and legs of anyone near it.

Taking in the situation, Valinya quickly sees the groups dire peril.  The magic in the pouches with their grasping tentacles would hold her companions in place while the foes peppered them with bolts, remaining safely out of melee range.  Deciding to use her magic to defend them she floats slowly forward as she sings, her melody sounding oddly dissonant as if she is flat at moments and sharp at others, just missing what should be the notes.  Pulling her magic Valinya shapes it with her song to form an indiscernible shield to ever so slightly push ranged attacks away from her vulnerable person.  

Feeling a rush of exasperated sarcasm overwhelm him Fortis prepares to act on his companion’s needs after they respond to the current surprise. Oh, an ambush, how utterly unpredictable! Well, it will take a few moments for those crossbowmen to reload, so after Arn flings his axe at them and unleashes the Delayed spell I can safely disentangle him from those tentacles by casting Dispel Magic on them, provided of course he doesn’t simply crush them with those big stompy boots he favors.

Seeker’s years of upbringing and training kick in as the foe reveals itself. “All right, folks, form up!” he barks. “No one here really expected this to go without an ambush, did they? Really?" Seeker starts figuring out the best use of the team’s abilities to deal with the ambush.

Having underestimated the black tendrils beneath his feet, Seeker feels them wrapping around his feet and legs and pulling him down. He loses his balance in the low, narrow corridor and falls over, nearly squashing Sings to Moon, who somehow manages to not get tripped up herself. Arn also finds himself tangled up in the tendrils and falls face first onto the floor. He feels the purple-black tendrils of the other mass writhing over his head and chest, trying to poke their way beneath his armor. Chaos erupts in the small hallway, those in the back not even sure what is going on, except for the fact that they saw Seeker and the light go down!

Arn curses out loud at the tentacled mass before him. “By Belimar’s beard!  I’ll be damned if ye will take me that easily!” Arn attempts to use all of his strength to break free of the tentacles.

Seeker recognizes the tentacles from his altercation outside the Taxidermists Guildhall. Their range is small - if I can just get free they should be easy to deal with. Lucky the quarters are so tight down here. Using his strength and skill, he braces against the walls and tears himself free, getting to one knee.

Seeker and Arn both find it much easier than they thought it would be to get up from the grasping tentacles. When they push against the ground, the tendrils don’t seen to have enough strength to knock them down again.

Trying to buy her comrades time and distract the attackers, Valinya quickly floats toward them, waving her arms and wailing like a scorned banshee, a look of utter vengeance masking her face.  

Seeing that a fight is certain when she gets into the room, Silver takes a moment to cast a strong armor spell.

Moonscar pokes at the tendrils writhing on the ground in front of him with the butt of his spear unsure whether to proceed. They smell bad, he thinks to himself and decides to wait until there is more room up ahead to move. Silver, behind him, crammed into the small hallway tries to stretch her wings and crane her neck up to see what is going on but is unable to do so.

Fortis, hoping to clear the way for the rest of his companions, begins intoning an enchantment to dispel the grabbing tentacles on the ground near his companions.

Lots of shouting and yelling can be heard from inside the next room where the Sea Harpies are mounting their defense. One call of “Hit those barrels!” seems to cut through the cacaphony. Valinya, Arn and Seeker see something flaming, a torch or lit bottle and rag, fly through the air. It does not come directly toward the door, though. It flies across the room, out of Arn and Seeker’s line of sight. Valinya watches in horror as the flaming projectile hits a stack of barrels just to the side of the open doorway where her companions are coming through. She notes another stack of barrels on her side of the doorway as well. When the missile hits, it is clear now that it was a vial of oil or some other flammable liquid, it breaks open and quickly engulfs the barrels in flames. Two more vials of flaming liquid arc across the room, hitting the piles of barrels in different places. Arn watches as the flames rush across the floor, right in front of his face toward the other stack of barrels on the other side of the door. “Fall back!” can be heard shouted from the Sea Harpy group! Valinya and Arn can see the Sea Harpies that were crouching behind the table dropping back into a hallway to the south. Valinya feels the lick of the flames beneath her airy form. Arn can still see a handful of the Sea Harpies crowded in the hallway and thinks he can get off a good throw with his enchanted axe.

Cast of Characters: 

+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Stephen Kolmetz plays Valinya, an Elven Wildsong Mage
+Mike Biancone plays Arn, a surly Dwarven Warrior
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
+Daniel White plays Silver, a young and curious Dragon
+Mike Williams plays Gorgukk Torgnaz, an Ogre sailor and mauler
and +Jason GURPS as the GM

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