Upon Silent Wings
The party bunkered down for the night taking turns on lookout watching the light from the campfire’s flame dance on the cave walls. The stalagmites cast shadows for foes to hide behind, ready to leap out. But nothing disturbed their rest, and the night was uneventful.
It was during Wendel’s watch that he detected an old, mouldy smell emanating from some of the smaller holes that were present in the walls of the cave. Upon awaking he informed the rest of the group, but no one was able to detect anything.
The last to awaken, Lesri rolled herself off her bear and stretched loudly. Gathering the party around her, she informed them that she would be returning topside confident that she and Meadhead could steer clear of the hobgoblins. She gave the party directions to continue following the cave passage SE for 1.5 days. The cave would exit out at a half day NW of Phandalin and she was confident the party wouldn’t have any further concerns.
Satisfied that the party could travel without her, she turned with barely a wave and a bear following a step behind her. Although a little saddened to see her go, the group got their bearings and followed the passage SE. Gundren also seemed to be doing better with the danger behind him and a good night sleep, he buoyed with the thoughts of Phandalin only 2 days travel away. He also seemed quite at home in the cave having a good sense of his direction and talked a lot as they walked.
*It was time for Lesri to move on, she isn’t the most reliable of sorts anyway. Gundren also would be able to start interacting more, particularly in an underground environment where he has some experience and knowledge. *
A couple of hours into their travels however they came across a cave-in, effectively blocking their passage. It was at this time that Wendel detected a change in the air and the odd mouldy smell he had detected earlier. With Gundren beside him, they quickly located a hole in the wall towards the ceiling, easily big enough for the party to fit through. It would be tight for the Tiefling though.
With some rope in hand, Merric joined Wendel and Gundren climbing up into the hole, which revealed itself to be a small tunnel into an adjacent passageway which headed towards the west. Aurelia and Asterin required some help through the tunnel, climbing was clearly not Asterin’s specialty. Merric stood on the passageway side bracing the rope to assist, even then Aurelia had a hard time squeezing through.
The mouldy smell was noticeably stronger here and several of the other party members could now detect it. Asterin thought is smelled like the time she opened some old books that had been ruined by mildew. The others didn’t know what to make of it. Dusting themselves off the group headed west, the drift globe lighting their way.
As they travelled, they began to encounter smaller side tunnels entering and exiting the main passageway. They were numerous and although would fit a halfling, neither Merric nor Wendel were open to exploring them further. It was about lunch time when Gundren informed the group that this passage had begun to descend with the group travelling deeper into the earth.
The group discussed their predicament over lunch. Gundren was quite confident that this side passage would eventually loop back around to the other side of the original passage and following his advice the party ventured forward. Travelling further west the mouldy smell grew stronger and stronger, with all party members now fully aware of the smell.
No products were found matching your selection.
An hour after lunch the passageway spilled out into the side of a large underground grotto, which was filled with water and large stalagmites and stalactites. The party stood upon a wide ledge that ran along the side of the cavern that looked down to the grotto floor, 50 feet below. At the end of the ledge, 70 feet away the tunnel continued onwards. The light from the drift globe illuminated the cavern, with the light refracting off the various rock minerals, throwing off various hues of colour.
Impressed with the beautiful sight the party were caught completely unawares as four curtains of darkness dropped from the ceiling enveloping Gundren, Wendel and Asterin. The last curtain barely missed Merric landing on the floor, a series of red eyes looked up at the shocked halfling before attempting to float away. Roll for initiative!
*Introducing Darkmantles. I really enjoyed planning this encounter to provide a little challenge for the players after their last few encounters being complete cakewalks. A few tweaks with this mob meant that they would primarily dodge after engulfing a player, granting disadvantage to any player trying to remove it. Any player who attempted to move while engulfed, would treat all terrain as difficult and would be required to make an acrobatics check, a failure would result in being prone. Hopefully, they don’t fall prone too close to the edge of the ledge…. *
The party quickly reacted with Merric attacking the squid like creature whilst Aurelia ran over to assist Gundren to pull it off. Wendel, who’s arms were still free, proceeded to swing his punches at his head in a crazy attempt to drive the creature off, although he did some damage to the creature, he struck himself a bad blow and knocked himself prone. The ledge’s edge loomed beside him, but fortunately he recovered himself enough not to fall off the edge.
Asterin tried her best but was unable to remove the creature which began to suffocate her. Aurelia also wasn’t having much luck and was unable to help remove the creature off Gundren. Merric quickly finished off the creature beside him before it flew away and raced over to Wendell who was too busy trying to hit himself.
With Merric’s help Wendel pulled the Darkmantle off his head, and spun a kick towards the creature, scoring maximum damage. Asterin finally succeeded in pulling the creature off her head, the creature floated beside her, its eyes glaring at her. Aurelia having failed to pull the creature off Gundren earlier brandished her Crescent Claw and swung down casting Green Flame blade. Gundren cried out in pain as Aurelia’s magic burnt him as well, with the Green Flame leaping to the adjacent Darkmantle that had previously been attached to Asterin.
Another round of combat and the creatures were all down. A little wide eyed, the group continued forward keeping close eye on the stalactites upon the roof and promptly walked right past a stalagmite on the floor, which launched itself at Merric engulfing him.
*I almost burst out laughing at this point. There was no real danger here, as in most cases the players had enough constitution that they wouldn’t be suffocated for almost 10 rounds. *
Furious and with a sudden halfling strength, Merric threw the creature from off his head, burning an action surge he swung his weapon hitting the creature. Wendel immediately followed suit killing it in one round. The party was very nervous at this point, noticing some suspicious stalagmites above the ledge in front of them. Taking no chances, they launched out eldritch blasts and firebolts killing the Darkmantles before they could attack.
*I kinda hoped that they would do this.*
Upon hitting the roof with explosive magic, the thunderous noise reverberated through the grotto and the roof lit up with 100s of beady red eyes that stared down at the party. Spots of darkness appeared on several stalagmites as they vanished from view and the players’ skin began to crawl.
*There were only two big concerns in this encounter. One was if a player fell off the ledge, which was fairly remote. The other was if the players choose to stay around after they awoken the nest of Darkmantles. Fortunately the sense of danger was strong enough that the players took the hint.*
“Run!” screamed the group as a whole and they sprinted into the tunnel before them as the roof became alive with Darkmantles. The sound of flapping weblike wings trailing behind them as they entered the tunnel.
With a nest of Darkmantles now awoken, the groups return passage is now blocked. The group must travel further down into the earth. How will they fare?
Find out next session.