ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”
We left the chunks of ivory with Kelsier for him to get appraised and sold off. He’ll leave our shares with Olwin at the Slumbering Serpent — we wanted to get an early start in the morning.
We also hired a cart with detachable wheels that should make lugging treasure through the swamp easier.
When we reached the swamp I was happy to see the trail seemed less traveled than before. Apparently we’ve cut down on the traffic! Maybe without E.D. goading them on, the trog population will keep to themselves.
The 15th day of Wielsan we returned to the dyke that surrounded the dungeon opening. It seemed less oppressive than when we first encountered it, now that we knew a little more what to expect…and now that the Big Bad was dead.
Descending the stairs was much easier than before, since the rope was still hanging there that we had used to climb up. So we reached the bottom without incident and Ezekiel and Lancell – both with magically shining shields – took the lead.
We started in the room where the frogs had been. Hardly anything was left of their bodies, but Mikael borrowed one of the bones to prod the water as he explored – like Lancell was doing with one of the guards’ spears.
Once slimed, twice shy.
Looking around the room, my torchlight reflecting off the water’s surface, I noticed that the north wall looked different from the rest of the room.
Lancell prodded it and found the dirt to be rather loose, so Raven ran and got some shovels from the tool room we’d discovered earlier. A team effort with the shovels revealed a small room with three chests on a wooden platform (to keep them out of the mud).
We remembered looting some keys off the Evil Cleric from downstairs, so after digging to the very bottom of my pack, I found them and we tried them on the chests (after Raven checked them for traps).
No traps, but when we unlocked them, we found a whole pile of coins – and some gems! We put the most expensive coins, and the gems, into the bag of holding, leaving the rest to carry out when we’re ready to leave. It’s not that far from the exit.
Wading through the water (that rose almost to the waist!) we explored through a second doorway to the south. Down this corridor, several of the wall supports had given way, flooding the tunnel with mud three feet deep!
At the end of this passage, Lancell forced open a door to discover a room filled with shallow water…and skeletons.
The dead kind. All ages, from the size of them, and some mossy with age. I lost count at twenty.
We figured these must be the remains of those who wouldn’t be charmed by Explictika Defilas.
Ezekiel said a few fitting words, committing their souls to Ao. He says that when we’re finished here, he wants to collapse this end of the tunnel, so that nothing and no one disturbs these poor souls’ bones.
Exploring the rest of this level, we returned to a door we’d ignored previously – it has a big X burned into the surface. On forcing it open, we found ourselves in a chapel-like area, with a high ceiling and four support pillars. A passage led south, filled with deep mud.
We had hardly taken a step forward when the air filled with an unearthly singing…I tell you, it made my head spin. We advanced toward the southern exit, and that’s when she struck – the ugly, woman-like thing with clawed feet, huge, vulture-like wings, and pointed teeth.
She struck Lancell, while all the time this crazy, penetrating music (I can’t quite call it a song) kept going on.
I nailed her with an arrow, and then Lancell took her down.
On examining the body, Ezekiel said, “Yes, that’s a harpy.”
I almost didn’t make it through the mud in the passage beyond. Kelsier is so glad he didn’t come this time, because I’m pretty sure I would have drowned if Mikael and Lancell hadn’t pulled me out.
Anyway, on the other side were four more pillars, connected at five and ten feet by “branches.” Far away, in the tall ceiling, we could just see a hole up there.
Something glinted in the light at the top of the supports, so Raven took his Monk skills and scrambled right up there.
He started pitching down jewelry down to us – there was a ruby necklace that looked especially nice.
I wondered who the harpy could be preying on way out here in a desolate dungeon, but Ezekiel and Lancell pointed out she could have been living off of E.D.’s followers…which would explain why they put a huge X on her door.
With that dealt with, we returned to the main corridor (and I have mud all the way up to my neck) and explored some more passages south of the underground lake. (There were still crocodiles in the lake, but they were ignoring us, so we ignored them.)
We found a little dead end that smelled strongly of weasel. Someone found a coin in the corner, and the next thing you know we’re digging in the dirt along the wall, turning up gold and silver coins.
I never knew a weasel that liked coins. I have so much to learn.
Having exhausted all the passages on the upper level, we headed down the stairs (past the truly nauseating stench of the lizardmen corpses – and you thought they smelled bad while alive!)
In a small, narrow tunnel, Lancell got jumped by the biggest, hairiest spider you’ve ever seen!
Mikael hurried forward and started soothing it, waving his hands with druid magic. The spider twitched, and chirped, and stopped attacking, watching Mikael with all eight of its eyes.
While we waited for him to finish his spell, the temperature dropped.
I turned around and spotted two figures lumbering toward us, groaning. I nailed one of them before Ezekiel pulled out his holy sheep toy and shooed them away.
I dropped the wounded ghoul as they were retreating, but the second one got away. That’s the disappointing part about “Turn Undead.” He assures me that one day he’ll be able to disintegrate ghouls just like he does zombies and stuff.
Ezekiel said we might as well continue on, leaving Lancell to protect Mikael while he finished romancing his spider.
Down the narrow, twisty passage we went – Ezekiel, Raven, Elwyn – passing a little room on the way littered with bones.
Evil monsters are so untidy.
As we approached a turn and a fork, suddenly a wicker basket flew through the air, nailed Ezekiel in the head, and dropped an enormous snake all over him.
“Get back! Retreat” Ezekiel shouted at us, cradling a snake bite as he retreated in defensive mode.
Beyond him, I could hear the guttural snaps and snarls of trog voices. Raven told me there were at least eight.
I tried to shoot an arrow at the snake as we were retreating, but it’s hard to walk backwards over uneven mud in the dark and shoot at the same time. So I kinda sorta plugged Ezekiel in the back – but fortunately it glanced off his magic chainmail.
We came to a split in the passage, so I side-stepped down the fork to get a shot at the snake (which must have been really mad, because it was still chasing Ezekiel). Just about then, Lancell and Mikael and the spider all joined us, so we all got blows in and finally killed the giant snake.
“You don’t look so good,” said Lancell, and Laid Hands On Ezekiel.
I borrowed Raven’s dagger, and slashed the snake bite, winding a tourniquet to keep the poison from spreading. It might be too late, of course, but we can try our best.
“I think I’d better rest for a while,” said Ezekiel, so we all went back to the dead-end chamber where we found the spider (Mikael says her name is “Nori”) and holed up.
Hours passed, and Ezekiel still looked pretty green.
A second huge, hairy spider came to the door and attacked. While we were fighting it off (by “we” I mean everybody else) Ezekiel took out his scroll of Cure Light Wounds and mumbled the words to cast it on himself.
He looked a little more pink than green, and I changed his bandage.
Nori took the clean-up upon herself, and munched away at the dead spider.
About the time she finished, the strangest sound came down the corridor toward us. Like…hundreds of little feet crawling along the walls.
When the beastie came into sight – brr, it makes my skin crawl to think of it even now! It had eight long tentacles on its “face,” followed by a long, trailing, multi-legged caterpillar body.
“Carrion Crawler,” spat Lancell as he moved forward to attack.
I’m sorry I called Nori ugly earlier because she pounced on that sucker and did her new best friend proud! Ezekiel, of course, was huddled in the corner, nursing his sick head, so the rest of us were in charge of killing it…without getting hit by those flailing, monstrous tentacles!
One of those smacked Lancell, and his body stiffened, frozen in place.
Looking at the beastly thing, I decided that behind the head – the long body – should be more susceptible. Raven must have figured that way, too, because he dodged the lashing tentacles and tried to drive his dagger into the soft underbelly.
I think that’s about when Nori squeaked and dropped to the floor, legs rigid with paralysis.
Mikael whipped out his magic horn that’s supposed to summon barbarians to help him. When he said the magic word and blew it…a cloud of bubbles surrounded him.
We’d gotten a few good hits on the creepy-crawly – it was bleeding with drippy, disgusting ichor. I got one last arrow into its hide, and its squealed and ran away across the ceiling.
It’d better just not come back, that’s all I’m saying. That thing makes my hair stand up, and I wish we could have finished it off.
Lancell and Nori seemed to be breathing just fine, but they couldn’t move. So we laid them down in the back of the cave with Ezekiel and prepared to stand watch all night, the three of us.
Once, some trogs walked by – I could smell them! – but thanks to Ehlonna and Ao and all the other nice gods, they just kept on walking.
Oh, and another party of ghouls found us, but Ezekiel turned them and I got an arrow in one as it was shuffling away.
They just better knock that off, is all I’m saying. On the one hand, this explains why not everybody goes around to collect the amazing loot in dungeons, but on the other hand there are a whole lot of weird things out there ready to instantly kill you and I’m really thinking I have a whole list of things to ask my Ranger master about if I ever live to see him again.
- anti-poison/anti-venom (for any and every kind of poison or venom; if it exists, Ezekiel will run into it)
- Something to keep from getting charmed (ear-plugs?? amulet? adoptive elf godmother?)
- traps for blocking passageways and slowing down creatures (ask Master)
- oh, and arrows. Lots more arrows
- also, also, something to deal with paralysis??
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