Creslonia

What Secrets Lie Beneath

Lecherous Backstabber!

With the now fully clothed Ned tagging along the companions decide to move back downstairs to the as of yet unexplored cellar. As Ragnarok turns to lead the group however, Ned casually grabs him by the arm and points to the gaping hole in the floor from Ragnarok and Ornith’s previous misadventure.

“I betcha can’t clear that hole!” the somewhat swarthy looking man leers at Ragnarok.

“I could make that jump, but why bother?” Ragnarok’s voice is lofty and superior, attempting to give off the attitude of not caring.

“Aye, yer chicken is all.” says Ned with a both sympathetic and taunting tone.

“If you have money to wager I’ll do it, otherwise it is just simply not worth my time.” Ragnarok refuses to be taunted into the foolhardy dare, his companions all rather surprised that he would turn down such a taunt.

“See ya’ll downstairs then!” and with that they all watch as Ned gracefully sails over the hole. Humphing to himself Ragnarok turns and walks down the far hallway, the others following close behind.

Reconvening below the companions cautiously open the cellar door. Tamull proceeds through the door first and upon entering the stairwell immediately feels a coldness welling up around him and voices urging them to leave or die. Ned quickly begins babbling that proceeding down into the cellar is clearly a bad idea, but when Ornith tells him to just return to town then he refuses, insisting upon reclaiming his still missing items. Sasha becomes almost uncontrollably terrified and it isn’t until some gentle coaxing from Tamull that she agrees to enter the cellar with everyone else.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs it is quite obvious that at one point the room was a wine cellar. Sasha quickly begins searching through some of the rubbish scattered around and shrieks in terror as a disgusting grub wriggles up from the refuse and attaches itself to her, attempting to burrow itself into her arm. With little else to offer in the way of help Ornith pulls out her knife and attempts to cut out the grub from Sasha’s flesh. Tamull belately remembers that fire actually works quite well against these vermin and uses his torch to scorch the burrowed grub and the others visible on the corpse.

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Having nervously just cut her friend’s arm open, Ornith is still a bit on edge with little patience for Ned’s continued urging that coming down here was a bad idea. Whirling on him she scathingly says:

“Stop your belly-aching! No one is forcing you to come down here with us!”

Turning his face away Ned mutters something about wanting his stuff back as he moves to the rear of the group.

Searching around the room some more Sasha stumbles across a small hidden door which is easily opened. Crawling through the door the companions soon find themselves in room which appears to be the living quarters for roughly ten or so people. Bedding is neatly organized against one wall while a large wooden table is set for eating. There are two other doors in the room, one of them ominously labeled “DANGER.” Looking around the room absently Ornith sneers as she sees Ned ogling her out of the corner of her eye, the sooner they ditch this guy the better!

Entering the more friendly looking door Lars manages to find a large book of erotic poetry with full color illustrations! If he pocketed the volume or not is still up for debate among the other companions. Among the more useful items in the room however is a book on the tides of the area as well one piece of parchment with writing of an unknown language on it as well as another piece of parchment with some kind of code on it. Pocketing the paper the companions decide to take their chances and enter the room labeled “DANGER.”

The strong stench of rotting meat and flesh fills the room causing everyone to involuntarily gag a little. Almost immediately two monstrous insect-like creatures rise up from the darkness, tentacles whipping out toward the companions, instantly paralyzing both Sasha and Ragnarok!

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Quick to respond to the action Lars quickly casts “Summon Swarm: Spider,” hoping that the spiders he summons manage to not attack his paralyzed companions as well. With eyes wide Sasha and Ragnarok watch as the massive swarm of spiders funnel past them, the arachnids hairy legs whisking past them. Tamull also joins in the combat, lunging forward and smashing his warhammer into the side of one of the creatures, dealing damage, but not enough to end the abomination. Ornith moves to pull her bowstring back, but sensing movement behind her turns to see Ned fall to the ground in front of her. Confused as to what in the world the man is doing on the ground Ornith turns her sights on the wounded creature, managing to put an arrow through its head just as the sharp sting of a blade enters her back. Attempting to stand up and make a swing at the backstabber, Ornith merely falls to the ground feeling nauseous and woozy.

“Nothing personal sweetheart.” Ned winks and smiles down at the ranger as he closes the door behind them, leaving the companions to their fate.

The remaining creature continues to whip its tentacles about, paralyzing both Tamull and Lars. As the creatures attempt to feast on the downed Lars, the others climb to their feet with Ragnarok laying the final killing blow upon the creature’s head. Ornith has still not awakened and they realize she is in bad shape. Tamull examines and manages to stabilize Ornith.

“I swear I’ll kill him when next we meet!” Ornith manages to croak out as she regains consciousness. Picking up the dagger, though, it is quite clear that it is not the one that Sasha lent the man…

Searching room Sasha craftily discovers an odd looking rock, pushing it reveals a room cluttered with broken glass and earthenware. With their eyes adjusting to the dim lighting the companions are surprised to see a robed man sitting with his back to them. Lars hoping for the best calls out to the figure, but receives no response. Cautiously approaching the man Lars nearly jumps back in alarm, the man is dead! Little more than a skeleton now, its clear the corpse has been here for some time. Seeing that man appeared to have been reading a book on the Philosopher’s Stone, Lars quickly removes the book and begins leafing through it. Sasha meanwhile finds a smaller book secreted away in a drawer as well as a small stone clutched in the dead man’s hand. Giving the smaller book to Lars the old wizard immediately announces that the book is a spellbook and will require further investigation. As the companions return to the main room once more Lars calmly reaches out and plucks the pointed hat from the dead man’s head, nodding happily to himself as he rests it upon his own head.

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Searching a bit more in the room Sasha quickly locates yet another secret door…this one however appears to have been used rather recently. Ornith’s eyes narrow in hatred as she thinks once more on the backstabber Ned. Moving down the narrow stairs the companions find themselves in a series of natural caverns containing little else but rock. With minimal further exploration however they stumble upon a passageway lit with torches, the floor of the cavern seeming to slope eventually downward toward the sea. Cautiously following the passageway the companions suddenly find themselves in yet another cavern, this one however also contains two swarthy looking humans and four smaller creatures that seem to be an appalling combination of man and fish. It seems as though the welcoming party was waiting for them.

“Now its time to heat things up!” Lars yells out into the stone cavern as flame erupts from his hands, the strange fish-men manage to leap aside, but the sphere continues to follow them. Ornith is suddenly attacked from behind by two more men as the fish-men attempt to capture Tamull and Ragnarok with some kind of claw on the end of a pole contraption.

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Splitting up their points of attack Sasha manages to sever the spine of one of the fish-men while Ornith takes down the two pole wielding fish-men, an arrow in each eye. Things turn messy for the instigators quickly enough though as Tamull smashes the skull of the supposed leader, Lars’ flaming sphere explodes into a fish-man, and Ragnarok becomes blood-sprayed as he severs another man’s arm. In his blood frenzy however Ragnarok swings about wildly and manages to only hit himself as Lars’ magic missiles go sailing past him exploding into the remaining man. Searching the dead bodies the companions are a little disappointed to only find a small amount gold, a bracelet, a key, and a set of dice which Ragnarok immediately confiscates for himself.

The party is tired and wounded and the agree to return to a safe part of the house upstairs and rest for two days.

Once rested, they decide to continue down through the passageways and explore, but find little else aside from some casks containing cloth and other goods. Eventually the passageway opens up to a shore with the sea waves gently lapping at it, the remains of a rope resting on the rocky floor. Failing to find any other hidden doorways or passageways the companions decide to sit and wait for the inevitable return of what they can only assume is a boat used to smuggle the found goods ashore. Within just a few minutes boredom dominates Ragnarok’s brain and he tells the others that he’ll return to the small town and check in on Monieus, Lars immediately jumps up and offers to accompany him.

Quickly reaching the town the two find Monieus happily seated in the local tavern enjoying a bowl of boiled eggs. Excitedly waving to both Ragnarok and Lars the small man immediately pulls several ledgers from his pockets and begins to happily, and rather speedily, elaborate on his trade findings and research of the area. It seems as though there is quite the potential for investing in the town’s glassblowers according to the merchant. Ragnarok decides to fill Monieus in on what all the companions stumbled across in the “haunted house.” Scandalized, Monieus promises to investigate among the local merchants while more treasure is hopefully found.

Returning to the underground caverns both Ragnarok and Lars are saddened to find that nothing has changed. As time slowly passes Lars read from his various books, discovering that the insect-like creatures with tentacles were actually a product of arcane experimentation!

Finally becoming bored with their seemingly failed stake-out the companions return to town. Ornith and Lars immediately search out the constable and inform him of the smuggled goods and shady activity going on right under his nose. Before leaving though Ornith quickly makes out a wanted sign with the likeness of Ned Shakeshaft plastered across it:

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVEALIVE PREFERRED
REWARD GIVEN

Sooner or later she’d find that man…and then they’d see how much he enjoyed the sting of a blade!

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