Wasting no time, Merric immediately raised his bow and fired at the Drow on the other side of the ravine, providing Wendel the opportunity to scale down the edge of the rift and engage them in melee. Asterin and Aurelia ran over to the edge to add both fire and eldritch magic to the fight at the bottom of the rift.
*Yes, once again I lost the initiative battle… again… I think I may need new dice; these ones appear to be broken. *
After the first round of onslaught one Bugbear was down and Merric followed up with another round of fire at the Drow, severely wounding him, before descending the rift. The other Bugbear leapt into the rift to join the fight. Wendel was able to hold his own and the sisters continued to rain down death with their magics. Seeing the tide of the battle quickly turning against him the Drow fled into the western passage, hoping to call for backup. *He had so little health left it wasn’t funny. *
With no more support, the Bugbears quickly succumbed but were successful in dealing some minor injuries to the two halflings. Concerned about the fleeing Drow the halflings quickly began climbing the rope on the western face of the ravine while the sisters tried to join them.
It was comedy gold to see Asterin climb successfully down the raving, only for Aurelia to come tumbling down landing on her. Gundren decided to stay back until he knew the way was safer. Brushing the dust off themselves Asterin and Aurelia looked apprehensive about having to climb up the western face, rope or no rope.
It was at this moment when two Bugbears arrived at the western passage, a bruised and bleeding dwarf being held between them. Even from the other side of the rift Gundren recognised his brother Nundro and immediately cried out in alarm. Nundro seemed lifeless in the arms of the two Bugbears, who just grinned at the party.
Barely pausing, Merric launched a javelin straight at one of the Bugbears. *Seriously Merric?* This was treated as a surprise round with only Merric attacking, the javelin sailed through the air and missed. Snarling at the group one of the Bugbears lifted Nundro up and threw the unconscious dwarf at the two halflings. Gundren cried out and immediately started descending the rift, as Asterin and Aurelia finally finished their climb.
Merric rushed forward towards the Bugbears as Nundro landed at Wendel’s feet, who leant down to see whether the dwarf was still alive. Before Wendel had the chance however, the dwarf suddenly unleashed a savage attack at the halfling. Confused by the turn of events, Aurelia struck out at the dwarf while Asterin loosed some fire to support Merric.
Even Merric was having a tough time, taking the brunt of both Bugbears attacks, but he was able to hold his own and with damage support from the sorcerer he felled one of them. Meanwhile, Gundren was scrambling up the rift in panic, only hearing the sounds of battle unsure of his brother’s fate.
Wendel was confused by Nundro’s actions and was concerned that Nundro was not in the correct state of mind. Wanting to help Nundro, Wendel opted to deal non-lethal damage and quickly subdued the dwarf, who passed out unconscious. With one threat down, Aurelia raced forward pact weapon in hand unleashing her blade at last Bugbear.
Between Merric and Auralia’s attacks the last Bugbear was quickly felled. Breathing a sigh of relief, the party were feeling worse for wear, having taken quite the beating during this fight.
*Nundro became the trump card in this small skirmish making the fight a lot more dangerous than I had anticipated. Merric’s action to surprise attack the group before the casters had reached the top of the rift and then racing forward while Wendell attended to Nundro resulted in the party being split into three. The action economy was affected, and the two casters were unable to lend any actions to the battle for the first round. *
Gundren had finally made it to the top of the rift immediately racing over to his fallen brother, a concerned expression on his face. Wendel was standing close by preparing to administer some first aid. The rest of the group took stock of themselves with Asterin attempting to provide a small heal to Wendel who had sustained the most damage, however Wendel recommended a short rest and to burn some kii points instead.
As this was going on, Gundren suddenly stood up, looming over his brother. He had pulled up his brother’s sleeve to reveal a tattoo on his upper arm, displaying the Rockseeker family crest. Gundren’s face became angry as he stared at the tattoo, pulling a dagger out from his side he immediately plunged it towards his brother’s heart. Wendel’s quick reflexes kicked in and grasped Gundren by the wrist.
“What are you doing?” cried Wendel. Before Gundren could get in a word however, Aurelia who had been standing beside them flashed her rapier down, skewering Nundro through the heart.
Nundro screamed out a guttural scream of pain and lay back dead. As the life left his eyes, his skin immediately began to lose its colour and turned to a dark grey. The dwarf’s body morphed into the familiar shape of a Doppelganger, similar to the creature the party had previously faced at Castle Cragmaw. With an angry scowl, Gundren pulls his wrist back and sheathed his dagger.
Wendel looked crestfallen at the grey creature that lay lifeless at his feet. Aurelia flashed her blade to wipe the blood from it and move over to looked down the western corridor but couldn’t see much further due to turns in the passage. Gundren explained to Wendel about the family tattoo that had been magically imbued so that it couldn’t be faked. Wendel seemed shaken by the scene and didn’t seem very happy with Gundren’s explanation, concerned that Gundren was hiding something.
Surprised by the turn of events, the party began to plan their next move, opting for a short rest to recover some health, drinking some health potions and regaining much needed skills. During the short rest the party was interrupted by a small patrol of Bugbears who successfully snuck up on Aurelia who was on watch. The fight was short lived however, as Aurelia reacted with Hellish Rebuke which dealt max damage as the Bugbear had critically failed their save roll.
Aurelia took another hit and fell unconscious. Merric raced forward and smashed the Bugbear in the face quickly felling the beast, but the damage had already been done. Asterin quickly healed her sister and dragged her back in case any further danger appeared. Fortunately, no new threats appeared, and the party was able to continue their rest. Feeling refreshed the party knew that they were close now and prepared themselves for what lay down the western passage.
Gripping their weapons and swords tightly they all became dismayed as the soft green glow began to fade from Merric’s shield and Asterin’s sword. The temporary weapon buff from the Forge of Spells had begun to fade. With danger just around the corner, how will the party face their next challenge.
Find out next session when the party come head to head with the Black Spider.