As the noise of battle settles, the lights grow dim, and soon we are left in darkness. This room only has one way out, so we walk to the archway, and into a dark corridor. All of us can hear rushing water towards the end of the corridor, and Stumpy tells us that there is a rope dangling downwards where the corridor ends abruptly. We move to the ledge, but even those that can see in the darkness cannot see the bottom of this huge cavern, and the roaring water is very loud now.
It is here where we meet up with our newest party member, Brother Ashitaka. Another of the poorly equipped group that helped to make up the numbers in our squad fighting for the Emperor, he was a row or two in front of Trixie and I, and we had no idea where he had ended up at the end of that so called battle. As far as we were concerned, he was off chasing some tattooed man, who apparently had wronged someone, possibly him, and that he had done something bad? You know the type of story I mean, and soon I had stopped listening to the details - he was telling us this as we marched to battle and I was far more interested in finding someplace to hide rather than die horribly in a battle I cared little for and knew that we were horribly outnumbered in both wits and men.
Anyway, back to the now. He called out a standard greeting, and when a lantern was struck, and our faces revealed, the greeting became warmer as he realised who it was. With pleasantries exchanged, and Brother Ashitaka explaining how he got here, we now only have a few missing from the glorious ‘Able Company’.
Chunk volunteers to go down the rope, and I tie a lantern to him so that others can see. As he gets about 40’ down the rope, two points of green light swirl upwards at him, before striking him soundly in the back and leg. It seems a naughty spell caster lurks below….
At 80’ down, he shouts up that he can see water below him, and rather than be targeted again, drops into the water underneath. More of us begin to climb down the rope, and a garbled shouting of warning that “…skeles are in the water!” comes from Chunk below.
Now that there is a brief form of light, Brother Ashitaka says that he will go down next, but ignores the rope completely. Flourishing his ragged cape, he drops to all fours and crawls over the side. Peering over the lip, I can just make out in the shadows the Monk crawling down the wall like a disabled spider, which is most distressing to see.
Idjit is next down the rope followed by Stumpy, and lastly Trixie and I descend, very aware of our poor rope related skills. Chunk has now reached a small island, dodging skeletons in the water, and the rest of us bar Trixie have made it to the water’s surface. Trixie nearly hits the water faster than the rest of us as she slips and let’s go of the rope, but her acrobatic skills are put to good use as she deftly catches herself before falling too far.
The darkness proves difficult for some of the party – Brother Ashitaka has no idea where he is going for one, which probably indicates why it has taken him so long to find us, and follows the wall for some way before dropping in to the water. I also wander the wrong way for a short period before hearing people calling in the darkness in my defence though; I manage to correct my direction before people notice.
Suddenly, a light appears on the island, and a large crystal is seen pulsating and glowing, the light gaining in strength and its area of luminance growing. It pulses in waves for a brief few seconds, and then illuminates the entire cavern, showing a small island surrounded by large mushrooms, and many of the small web handed humanoids we met previously, including one dressed in robes.
Brother Ashitaka attracts the attention of a few skeletons, and begins to attack the watery undead with skilful punches borne of the strength of controlled fury and many years of training. Fortunately for the Skeletons, Brother Ashitaka has achieved none of these skills, and continues to pummel passing plankton and molluscs for some time, and one wonders not at all why this Brother’s Order died out long ago.
Trixie is targeted for spell casting practice as the caster on the island sends waves of Magical attacks in her direction, and when I reach the shore after my skilful swimming away skills from the skeletons that happened by me, I fill the area with Obscuring Mist to the delight of all, and hide behind a mushroom stalk.
I am assaulted in the mists by undead, nearly dropping as a rusty sword all but takes my arm off, and Brother Ashitaka is no more, as his continued failed attempts at even one on target attack have prompted for a radically name change, and phoenix like from the ashes of disaster, McFlurry is born. Who also can’t hit for toffee.
As I stumble from one mushroom to another, I can hear cries of “…bloody mist..” but that cannot be from our party, as surely no one would be that discourteous at my successful attempt of stopping the caster from attacking us, well me anyway. There is another loud grunt of exertion, and a curse as a sound not unlike someone with a large heavy weapon striking a mushroom is heard not far away. I take no heed and consume a potion, the numbness in my arm disappearing as I feel ready to strike like a mongoose from my conjured weather.
I move forwards to find a victim, and come across a rather glassy eyed Trixie, who casually raises her arm and extends the wand of Magic missiles in my direction, slamming into my leg and side. I run off, shouting “..the foul temptress Trixie has turned against us!” to return cries from Trixie saying “..oh no I haven’t!” like some demented Punch and Judy show. Idjit doesn’t even get a chance to join in the “…oh yes she is..” fun, as he is hit in the face by one set of missiles. He so numbed by the shock that he utters nothing but a groan as the next barrage drops him unconscious where he faces an undignified death by drowning in a couple of inches of mushroom flavoured dirty water.
I peer out of the mist to see Brother Ashitaka emerge from the water to approach the web fingered caster, and as I whisper “..help me Obi Wan McFlurry..” to myself, the caster makes a hand gesture and puts McFlurry to sleep. Who then leaps up to his feet and continuing the pantomime theme from earlier, shouts in his best Aladdin voice “Aha! You only thought you could make me sleep!” Thus the creatures acting out as the cast of Ali Baba and the forty thieves throw well aimed spears into various parts of his body, which is enough to make him collapse and make a bloody mess of the white sand.
I put a well placed but light slung stone into the casters side, and slope back into the mist when spotted, and Stumpy wandering around in the mist luckily trips over the burnt Idjit, healing him as he helps him to his feet. McFlurry is up once more, this time wisely not shouting anything like “Aha!”, and once again does nothing other than ruffle the casters fine robes. He does have another trick up his sleeve though, as when the spear chucking creatures hurl spears once more, he ducks behind the caster, who is none too pleased when she takes at least one spear aimed for the white robed buffoon behind her.
Trixie continues to spread the love in the darkness, shooting Stumpy who stops to play slapping games with Inflict Wounds. For me, one Obscuring Mist is just not enough, and so another joins the confusion, and Chunk for once hails the misty weather and no one sees that he has dropped his weapon again. Trixie and Stumpy hit each other in the fog, before Stumpy loses the minx and stumbles across Skeletons to blow up instead.
McFlurry continues dancing behind the caster, and continues to miss, that is until he is struck deep in the side with a blade. His fury builds, he lashes out and kills his attacker, punches the throat of another, forcing him to collapse choking on his own vomit before he himself keels over and collapses, dying as the blood dribbles from the puncture wound in his side. Hmm, seems a little death wound is all that’s required for the Brother to act correctly, this will be noted in the scriptures accordingly.
The mist covers the skulking movements of the various factions, and before long Trixie has another victim, as Chunk appears before her, receiving a Magic Missile for his troubles. I catch her in my vision long enough to follow her, and as I cut her with my Scimitar, she knocks me cold with more wand based missiles. Stumpy then disarms Trixie, and Chunk drags me off to safety (hopefully), while Stumpy continues to fight the battle. He takes another antagonist out, before falling foul of the caster standing over McFlurry.
Chunk gets me back on my feet with a potion, and between us we find Idjit and wake him up to charge back into battle. I put one down for good with a rather surprising sword thrust that obviously surprised the dead thing at my feet more than me, but only just, and curse my own fog as no-one saw my skills. Chunk effortlessly drops another, and I step between combatants to get to McFlurry. Chunk rushes into to fight the caster, but she stabs him badly (for the Half Orc, not her) with the inky black blade, while I stand with a freshly cast sling, and she watches as a pebble bounces off her shoulder.
The caster is surrounded and just as Chunk hits her hard enough to more or less cut her in half, she has already stabbed me twice causing me to fall in a bloody heap on the floor. I get revived once more, and awake to see people scrabbling for coin in the shallow waters as well as stripping the caster of goods. Professionally done though I thought, and as there seems to be no treasure left I walk to the nearest mushroom captive, picking up coins and gems as I walk there. Suddenly the ground starts to shake, and a loud rush of water is heard somewhere far off. The waterfall behind us begins to increase in ferocity, and the light of the crystal dims. I quickly cut down a mushroom and get some kids on it as well as myself, which thankfully starts to float as the waterfalls increase has now put most of the small island we stand on under a few inches of water.
The other party members do the same, and so we all float atop the mushrooms as the water level rises rapidly, soon swallowing the light giving crystal and causes the only light in the cavern to fade. There are some shenanigans as Idjit is accused of inappropriate handling of the children in the darkness as Trixie Mage Hands a young lad. The party members that can see in the darkness help out and soon we stand back on the ledge, the children cold, wet and sitting very quietly as a rather large Wolf looks at them rather hungrily until I feed him some rations.
We then spend a long time resting, and looking puzzled at the crystal room, trying to work out where everything is. It takes a very long while, but we soon realise that the room we entered is above us once more, and we are looking at the bottom of the room and that it passes through the crystals to the level we are on now…I think. McFlurry climbs up the wall that leads to the water filled room, and soon the crystal room, now containing Brother Ashitaka, appears before us.
Back to the original rooms we go, and within the hour we have returned to the pool, holding the children’s eyes as we pass the dead Owl bear and its cub. We just need to get them passed the dangerous spike hidden in the waters depths and all is well…..