Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Scourge of the Slave Lords”
Sentient stalactites that drop from the ceiling.
Sentient stalactites that drop from the ceiling!
SENTIENT STALACTITES THAT DROP FROM THE CEILING.
Sentient stalactites that happen to be vulnerable to arrows and fireball. Crisis averted.
Well, we found the giant hyenas. The next place where the tunnel opened up into a room, we found a squad of gnolls with huge, dog-like pets. They tried to douse us in meat to goad the hyenas to attack.
While Mikael fed his new hyena pet (because he had to add one to his collection), we searched the dead gnolls and found an interesting ring. Added it to the “check for magic” pile.
[Huge, sprawling map]
Ugh. Found a cavern blocked by some kind of white goo, so we tried to go around…but all the passages lead back to the same place! In fact, it looks like the gnoll company that met us at the bottom of the slide might camp out there…there’s no other sign of habitation down here.
I guess we have to beat the goo somehow. The gnolls must have had a way…but they’re super dead.
The white goo room is beyond weird. Wide stone steps lead down into the bubbling pool on each side, while a narrow bridge spans the distance above it. But – across the center of the room, cutting off the bridge, some kind of blue fire keeps jumping back and forth between the walls, crackling as it goes. The whole room smells like a thunderstorm (only without the rain smell).
When I shot an arrow through the fire, the arrow wasn’t instantly consumed, and we heard it hit the far wall…but none of us suggested the fire might not actually be there. Ezekiel’s Dispell Magic did nothing to it.
Mikael started dipping a stick in the goo, while Raven ran back to the other room to fetch a hunk of meat (amazing Lulu and the doggy pack left him anything to find). While he was gone, Ezekiel and Usin tried sticking a torch into the goo…with the result that the torch went out, and the stick got covered with goo. The goo didn’t seem to harm the wood – nor Raven’s chunk of meat, nor the iron-tipped arrow he used as a skewer. Finally, Raven walked along the bridge to do a side-by-side comparison of meat in the blue fire. Goo-ified meat came out of the fire a bit singed…while the plain meat looked and smelled almost cooked.
Well, Raven has never been known to send others where he wouldn’t go himself. He dipped his arm in the goo, and tried it out in the fire. While the goo felt cool (despite the bubbles), the fire made his skin tingle and his hairs prickle, and his arm reflexively jerked out of it. He thought the goo protected him some, but obviously it wasn’t complete protection – and getting the animals through there would be a chore, at the very least.
So he decided to try walking through the goo. Lydia produced a ten-foot pole from her magic robe, and Raven headed out – trying to use the pole to feel out the slope of the floor before him. He decided the floor was probably ten feet below the surface, which meant even Mikael would be under if he tried to cross through the goo. It’s also very thick, so even Raven had to fight his way through, and he was less swimming more pushing through.
He crawled out – all white and sticky – and borrowed two of our shields for one more experiment. He coated the shields with goo, also, and tried to walk through the pulsing fire, blocking both sides with the shields. It worked about as well as our other experiments – he didn’t die, or lose his footing, but the fire still prickled at him…and his daggers slid out of their sheaths and stuck to the shields.
Raven decided to try once more, to see if he could swim across the room – under the fire, since it crackled pretty close to the surface of the goo. I wasn’t sure about everyone’s abilities to swim through the goo – especially if Raven of all people struggled with it – but we didn’t have many other options. Raven gave Lydia back her pole and started out.
For a while, we could see the lump of his head bobbing up, then under, then back to the surface a bit farther on…then it felt like quite a while since we had seen him, and I considered that if he drowned in there, none of us was well suited to rescuing him.
Then, we saw him coming back – looking weird and monstrous, with his face all covered in white goo. He announced that we could breathe in the goo (maybe that’s what the bubbles are about??) so after that, it was just a matter of forming up – and everyone keeping hold of a rope so Raven could lead us across. I think Mikael carried Buffy under his jacket, since the fire occasionally licked the ceiling with its blue tendrils, so he didn’t want her to fly.
It’s weird trudging through goo, unable to see anything, feeling your lungs satisfied by something that isn’t really air… I’m glad Raven has practiced moving and navigating while blind-folded…I’m sure I could have wandered in circles down there if I wasn’t careful – and if there was nothing to hold on to.
Speaking of which…
I felt something brush my hand in the goo, and grabbed it automatically (I thought it might be one of Mikael’s animal posse, or one of our many belongings, fallen off our persons). I finally pulled free of the goo and struggled up the steps on the far side, to find all my companions staring at me. But no – they weren’t staring at me… Raven said something about, “Elwyn went and got lost!” and I think Lydia and Heiron started tugging the rope to see if I was still holding it. I was – it was in my other hand…so I tugged it back, so they could see I just hadn’t climbed all the way out of the goo yet.
Well, Raven still couldn’t see me, so he came down a couple steps and stared into the goo – with me standing there the whole time, with goo drying on my skin and clothes. I couldn’t take it anymore, and laughed.
Turns out, I was invisible. I thought for an instant that maybe it was something the goo did, but when I put down the thing I grabbed (it felt like a scabbard), everyone could see me again.
Ezekiel picked it up – and vanished! He buckled it on (took him a while, being unable to see himself) and we heard the sound of a sword drawn – and suddenly Ezekiel was there again, holding what seemed to be an empty hilt (it did have a blade – he nicked his thumb on it).
Just when it seemed our excitement had peaked, Ez had Usin buckle it on, then draw his flame-tongue. A blade of fire appeared in the air, but the rest of him stayed invisible. Then Ezekiel had him knock his sword against Ezekiel’s shield. Usin stayed invisible. I don’t have to be a magic user to understand the implications of this…and to want this sword in only the right hands!
We talked for a moment about who was best suited to use it, and in the end, I put it in my backpack. It doesn’t seem to make anyone invisible unless they’re actually wearing it or holding it sheathed, so it might end up awkward to carry around…
The goo hardened as we walked, and finally peeled off in chunks like an exoskeleton. Lydia theorized it was an effect of the lights we carried, since the goo in our lungs just absorbed harmlessly – which suggests that the blue fire had a counter-active property, since we stood in there for some time, waving our lights around, and the surface of the goo never hardened. Or perhaps it has something to do with the bubbles constantly rising through it…or the huge quantity of goo piled together.
Anyway, the next room we found also had a trick to it. It seemed to be completely empty, except for a rope hanging from the center of the ceiling. Ezekiel and Agnar made a circuit of the room, but they didn’t find anything – not even dust or pebbles or anything.
We tied a rope to the one hanging from the ceiling, and then stood in the hallway to pull the rope. Sure enough – the floor dropped away on hinges…while at the same time, a secret door opened up exactly opposite where we were. Down below, we could see a clear liquid…with absolutely nothing in it. Not a fish, not floating debris – nothing.
After a short discussion, Ezekiel held the rope braced, while Raven crossed the room using his monk-ish skills. He was able to jam the secret door open with a crampon, and then signaled Ezekiel to release the rope. Luckily, the floor folded back up when he let go of the rope – so the rest of us were able to cross and get through the secret door with minimal trepidation.
After another unnecessarily complicated long, twisty corridor, we found a larger room that felt more like a natural cave…complete with a huge stalagmite in one corner. We’ve learned better by now, of course – it looked suspiciously like the last “stalactite” we fought (Agnar calls those things that try to drop on you “piercers”). So we approached cautiously – and what a surprise! it shot out two tentacles and tried to hit Ezekiel. He warded it off with his shield, and we killed it without much trouble. (Agnar called that one a “storoper,” and said they try to mind-control you with their tentacles. That would have been entertaining, but we’re sort of on a schedule.)
While Agnar was cutting it open for treasure (quite a lot of coins and gems – I guess they don’t digest that stuff), he discovered a hole underneath it leading to another tunnel. I was glad we could just climb into this one, and didn’t have to drop down with no way back. Raven thinks this passage is meant to be traveled the other direction (something about a mechanism on the far side of the drop-floor?) but that still leaves unanswered questions.
Now, the latest room – all covered in wood paneling, with plenty of knots to be secret spy-holes. Ezekiel is busy searching every single panel, in case one of the knots is a button or something. Could take a while.
Well, Ezekiel found the knots that were different – one corner of the room had a door hidden among the panels, with the knots removed. Squinting through one, he saw they were removed to allow spikes through! We weren’t sure what would trigger the spikes, but we all agreed better to be far away when it went off.
So we all cleared out of the room while Mikael stood in the doorway – and cast Turn Wood. The paneling secured to the walls didn’t budge, but the wooden door cracked and popped open. Something behind it (I think a second door?) shoved the spikes forward…but of course there was no one standing there for them to pierce. Once the spring was sprung, Raven was able to open the door properly, and lead us into – yep – yet another long stone corridor.
(Mikael’s just excited he finally got to use his spell.)
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