Where we left off
The back wall of the teleportation chamber stands partially in ruins. A black hole, ringed with crumbled masonry and guarded by a pair of Holdout soldiers, gapes before the party. They have taken a day to rest and equip themselves for the coming hunt. A crude sigil has been carved into the stone above the doorway. Signs of their quarry can be easily seen in the thin layer of dust at the tunnel’s entrance.
Wigston steps forward, his kiitar slung over his shoulder and a blunt-nosed gnomish blunderbuss tucked into his belt.
“Filthy kobolds… let’s get this over with…”
|The Mysterious Sigil|
Our heroes set off in search of the missing crystal key that will activate the teleportation circle in the ruined keep. Sofya, the mage suspects it was stolen by the kobolds that were occupying the ruin when the Holdouts arrived in Thunder Vale.
The tunnel leading through the back wall of the teleportation tunnel is dark and cramped, forcing all but Wigston, Piruk and the diminutive Rayne to stoop as they move along. The party proceeds cautiously into the gloom with Kit leading the way, everburning torch held high, constantly scanning for traps left by devious kobold hands.
Soon after the faint glow of torchlight emanating from the keep’s basement disappears behind them, the group stumbles upon their first trap, already sprung. The tunnel is mostly blocked by a rockfall. A search of the area reveals the tripwire that triggered the collapse and the shaft cut into the ceiling, which held the rocks.
The group is forced to squeeze through a narrow opening left by the collapse, wriggling over the pile of boulders one at a time. On the far side of the blockage, they find the poor Holdout conscript who triggered the collapse, his body and armor crushed beneath the rocks.
The tunnels beyond begin to widen and the sound of running water echoes through the caverns. The hillside beneath the falls that give Thunder Vale its name is riddled with caverns carved out by the slow seep of water from the river above.
Further down the trail, the party gets their first glimpse of a kobold. At a fork in the trail crossed by an underground stream, Daethin spots a kobold scout peering out from behind a stalagmite in the left passage. The reptilian creature lets out a yelp when it realizes it has been spotted and dashes up the passage behind it, out of sight.
A search of the area reveals a number of caltrops submerged in the shallow stream waiting for unsuspecting travelers. Kit gathers all that she can find, netting an additional two bags worth of the spiky objects and clearing the trail for crossing.
The party weighs the wisdom of following the fleeing kobold down the left trail. Is it luring them into a trap? Will it warn its tribe if they don’t catch it? After some hasty debate, they decide it is worth the risk to follow. After all, how much trouble can one kobold be?
The group proceeds cautiously after the fleeing kobold. The tunnel gradually rises. Soon, it opens into a sort of grotto, lit from above by several narrow fissures which run all the way to the surface. A dozen limestone pillars surround a mossy pool, which sparkles in a shaft of sunlight.
As the party approaches the pool, they hear a rapid clicking sound, which increases in intensity as they get closer. The clicks grow more intense the closer they get, but the source of the sound eludes them. Piruk notices that as he enters the chamber, the whiskers in his beard grow stiff and begin to stand on end.
Suspecting a trap, but unable to find any specific danger, Eleanor elects to try a blind guess approach. She begins lobbing bits of metallic junk out into the center of the chamber, hoping to make something happen. As each item splashes into the pool, the mysterious clicking grows more frantic before subsiding.
Then she sees him. The kobold they have been pursuing stands veiled in shadow in the exit on the far side of the room. He fires a shot with his bow, but not towards Eleanor. Movement on the pillar beside where the arrow struck reveals the target. A curious gray lizard with bright blue markings flinches away from the arrow and clicks furiously. Eleanor looks around and spots several other lizards on other pillars. Then another shot…
This one connects and suddenly there is a crackling hiss, a bright blue flash and Eleanor is jolted with a searing current of electricity. Piruk manages to dive back as he feels his beard stiffen, catching a less intense shock.
The party backs away down the hall to ponder the obstacle and allow Eleanor to heal herself. Rayne’s suggestion that a well-placed fireball could solve the problem is vetoed by Lanna, who wants no part in attacking animals that were likely just defending their home. After some deliberation, the group elects to return to the fork and try the other passageway.
The other path proves less hazardous. They only need to stop once to bypass more caltrops laid out in a stream. Continuing on, the tunnels wind downward, deeper into the mountainside, until they open at last into a massive cavern. Soaring pillars of natural rock frame the entrance to a subterranean structure. Broad steps lead up to a doorway, above which is displayed the same symbol seen in the teleportation room… only much larger and more carefully carved.
The group passes cautiously through the portal and along a broad, straight hallway. The hall eventually ends at a ledge perched above a broad, square pit. A similar ledge can be seen across the chamber, with a similar halway leading away from it. A rope ladder dangles down the far ledge. The only other feature of note in the room is a large, metal plate set into the wall of the far ledge at the same level as the pit floor.
Kit is the first to investigate. Climbing down a secured rope, she creeps across to investigate the metal plate. As she is searching for traps, she hears shuffling and grunting coming from the other side of the barrier. Dashing back to the party, she reports her findings.
Fearing that something might trigger the plate in the far ledge to reveal its contents, the group moves forward, wary of danger. Daethin, Wigston and Rayne remain on the ledge, ready to attack anything that should show itself on the far side of the pit. The rest of the party creep back down the rope and pick their way gingerly across to the rope ladder on the far side of the room.
About halfway across, Piruk suddenly pauses, contemplating the wall to their right. He summons Santiago over to assist him. The two begin prodding and prying at the wall, eventually causing a section to shift. They begin tugging on a massive stone door, behind which they find a hallway.
Just as Piruk and the monk are getting the door open, Kit decides to climb the rope ladder to investigate the upper hallway. About 3/4 of the way up, however, one of the rungs gives way and triggers an audible click. Looking around frantically, the rogue notices acidic looking smoke beginning to rise from the top of the ladder. Thinking quickly, she leaps back, allowing her ring of featherfall to carry her safely back to the floor.
“Shoonk!” The rope ladder falls, and the metal plate drops into the floor. Behind the plate, in a shadowy cave, a massive reptile with eight legs and glowing red eyes begins to shuffle forward.
“Basilisk!” shouts Daethin.
The three standing on the ledge unleash their readied attacks in quick succession. A fireball from Rayne is immediately followed by two swift arrows from Daethin and a blast from Wigston’s blunderbuss. As quickly as the danger appeared… it is gone, sinking charred and pierced to the floor before it even had a chance to glare.