Bargaining with Spirits
Last we left our heroes they had finally arrived in Wave Echo Cave. Finding one of the dwarven brother dead at the entrance, the party continued further inside to find the Black Spider who was suspected to have taken up residence.
Two passages stood before them, North and East. Merric pulled out the Driftglobe they had received from the necromancer and fastened it to his helmet to act as a miner’s helmet. Having chosen the eastern passage, the party ventured further into the caves and entered a cavern that had been hewn from the rock. Clearly of dwarf or gnomish construction, the walls were covered with various reliefs of dwarf and gnome miners hard at work. The cavern floor was scattered with nearly two dozen skeletons in rusted scraps of armour. Some were dwarf skeletons, but others were clearly orc remains.
The light from the Driftglobe floods the room and 30ft above red glowing eyes snap open, all eyes fixed on the party. A group of stirges had been startled by the light and swarmed over the party as they attempted to defend themselves. Familiar with this type of creature the party stayed in a close group, allowing the stirges to come to them, cutting them down in droves. The stirges were starving and fought to the death, their cries cut short by sword and fist.
*All the characters had already reached level 5, which is a little high for this dungeon, so I won’t be pulling any punches. At level 5 Aurelia had finally come into her own with Thirsting Blade Evocation and was now attacking twice with her pact weapon, the Crescent Claw.*
Several exits were available to the party. In the south passage they could make out two doors, but the opted to continue further east to see what lay in that direction and discovered a room covered in a dense carpet of fungi and toadstools that gave off a slight glow. Opting to be cautious Merric opted to go first and as he gingerly walked across the room, several of the fungi stalks puffed out a stream of spores and gas.
Merric shrugged as they didn’t appear to cause him any harm and easily made his way to the other side. One by one each of the party members made their way through and each time the puff of gas didn’t seem to have any effect. Chuckling to themselves at being over cautious the group made ready to leave, until they realised they had forgotten about Gundren who was repeating the same path as the adventurers.
On his way through the cavern, the familiar sight of the fungi venting spores and gas greeted him. He took a breath, took a stumbling step, and then crashed face first into the carpet of mushrooms. With barely a pause, Wendel dashed to the dwarf’s aid and dragged his body out of the cloud of gas and fungi which the toadstools had renewed with vigour.
Gundren was in a bad way, unconscious and his vitals were fading fast. Asterin knelt at his side and cast a cure wounds spell, restoring him to consciousness. He looked really unwell and a little green around the face. Gundren was now considered poisoned, and no one in the party had anything to help him. He staggered to his feet ready to press on.
*It’s funny when you think about it, Gundren is not an adventurer and is simply being escorted throughout the mines. Although the party may roll high on all their saves, this DM does not. Seriously it’s getting ridiculous how many <10 rolls I’ve been making. I suspect that this poor NPC mightn’t survive. Only time will tell.*
Realising that Gundren isn’t as tough as the other party members, the party decides to keep a close vigil on him. The passage turned north, and the group walked into a large starry cavern, with glittering minerals covering the ceiling. The cavern was large enough to contain two freestanding structures along the eastern wall, which were covered in charred burn marks and blackened masonry. An escarpment divided the cavern, a small set of stairs had been cut into the side allowing egress.
Both Asterin and Aurelia could detect a subtle aura of magic within the cavern, revealing this to the group. Opting to explore the closest building, the party could see the double doors were cracked, scorched, and hinges were partially melted. Merric pulled out his trusty crowbar and quickly freed the door from its hinges, as it crashed to the stone floor with a loud thud.
The ceiling in the room beyond was sagging heavily and the walls were blackened with ash and soot as if the room had been hit by a destructive blast, however the contents of the room remained preserved, and the group could see bookshelves lining the wall and an iron bound chest at the foot of a bed.
“Books! Books!” Asterin strode immediately across the threshold beelining for the shelves. So focused on the books, she didn’t notice as a translucent spirit, restless from its slumber as it rose out of the floor in the south half of the room. The wraith whispers in a gravelly voice, threatening any who dare plunder his room’s treasures.
Aurelia pushed her sister behind her and attempted to reason with the Wraith. A very successful persuasion check allowed her to mollify the Wraith, who revealed himself to be Mormesk, a powerful mage during his life, he had died in the climax of the orc attack upon the mine. Not willing to part with any of his treasures, he offers the group a deal. Remove the creature in the building to the north and the party may take any of his treasures in his room.
“Anything except my tobacco pipe. So many memories with likeminded colleagues debating magical theories and practice. It is precious to me.”
Lacking any other direction within the mine, the group accepts and bids the wraith farewell promising to return. The wraith showed no sign of their farewell, merely staring at the group as they left the room. Climbing the stairs, the party approached the northern building which was considerably larger than the previous one. A large set of double doors stand slightly ajar with a green flickering light casting a strange light from within.
Merric poked his head into the room, and quickly ducked his head back as a large green aberration with a great bulging eye looked directly back at him. Merric had heard of beholders before and knew they were bad news. Gathering his wits, he quickly spoke to the group and the party grew quiet.
*I was genuinely laughing at this point. I’ve been quite surprised how the group has skirted all the dangers of the cave thus far and arrived right at the source of the mine’s wealth. It was pleasant to see the players actually worried for once.*
“How many eye stalks did it have?” enquired Asterin. She had once read a book about aberrations which went into depth about Beholders, the stronger creatures had more eye stalks. *Gotta love those high Arcana checks * Merric recalled only seeing four and Asterin quickly informed the group it was a lesser aberration but couldn’t recall its name. The group breathed a sigh of relief and began to discuss what to do. *It’s a Spectator, but the group doesn’t know that. *
“Hello? What are you doing out there?” enquired a booming voice within the minds of the party, clearly from the beast within the room. The party all froze.
“Is lunch time over yet? I swear it feels like it’s been going on forever. The other workers are such lay abouts, constantly dragging their feet and shuffling from place to place. No good work ethic I tell you. Wouldn’t you agree?”
The party looked confused, the aberration was addressing them in a gentile manner and acting as if the mine was still in operation. Taking care not to intrude into the room Aurelia addressed the creature about itself and what did it mean the other workers?
“Oh! I’m supposed to stay here, but I’m not supposed to talk about my employment contract, very bad form. The other workers? I wouldn’t call them co-workers; they’re not allowed in here. But apart from that they are terrible at their job. Oh look, here comes some more now.”
Moans and the shuffling of feet intruded into the cavern from the northwest as four zombies entered the area. Spying the group huddled beside the wall their moans increased in volume as they rushed towards the group.
Find out how what horrors the group finds exploring the cave in the next session.