We spent a quiet night in the spider’s lair, untroubled by screaming fungi, overenthusiastic goblins or squelchy jellies. Maul seemed to have worked out why her armour wasn’t fitting right for a while, and thinks it’s even better now that she’s let out a couple of the straps. Surely she can’t have gained weight from flat goat or anything?
We couldn’t work out what the ring or the cord were, but Al said he’d have a go at them in the morning – or what counts as morning in this forsaken depth. The next morning, I set up with the ropes we have, and all the pitons we’d found back at the goblin base, and started up the wall.
With lots of falling back.
Lots of time.
Even with spells on me to make it easier.
And hold spots for the ropes. I’m going to have those rope burns on me for life, I swear.
And then, finally, I got to within a few feet of the bridge, to find myself looking back up at a smiling dwarvish face. My arms felt like they were going to fall off by this stage, so when he leant down and held out his hand, I took it with gratitude. And then hate. Because the bastard hoiked me up, then threw me down into the abyss!
And for that, he dies.
Ever heard of “zippering”? Neither had I until then – it means that the pitons pull out of the wall as I fell down. Luckily some of the pitons held, or I’d have been dead in the water down the bottom, but I still hit the wall really hard, and it hurt like hell. Meanwhile Al could hear the bastard heading on up the tunnel, yelling “INTRUDERS!” as he went.
Al yelled back “What the hell are you doing? We’re trying to help!” Their response was a pile of crossbow bolts. Al threw a Magic Missile at the bastard who was going for me, then a sleep spell that stopped some of the bolts, while Mel lowered me down and into safety. We hoped the remainder of the pitons would hold, but they threw rocks at them until they all came out.
Then the yelling started.
“We were sent by the Abbott to find out what’s happening.”
“Who are you?”
“Sent by the Abbott.”
“Why would he send a bunch of outsiders?”
“To stop wasting dwarf lives!”
“You can stay down there then.”
“Let us come up and explain!”
“Only without weapons!”
(Not bloody likely)
“Why did the monastery close?”
“Secret dwarf business. Stay down there. Hope you’ve got plenty of food.”
“We have! Lots of lovely flat goat.”
Not what I wanted to hear, and despite having been healed, I suddenly felt really off, and threw up at the back of the cave.
The others weren’t keen on this lot either. Maul summoned an Air Elemental and sent it up, as Al used one of her lovely Flaming Bloody Nuisance Spheres. I think we managed to kill one, as there were screams and some more of the bolts stopped. Then Al unleashed the most intimidating of her intimidating voices.
“How many more of you would like to die?”
There was the sound of running boots. Dammit. They were getting reinforcements.
And then I remembered something, – the goblin we saw in the chasm was climbing up the walls – maybe his ring was something nice for climbing! Maul decided to put the ring on and climb… and fell riiiiiight down the bottom. We waited with bated breath for the “squelch”, but instead she bounced up and yells “I’m ok! Oh fuck it’s cold!”
Cool. It’s a ring of Feather Falling. Wish we’d thought of that beforehand.
Al and Maul had an argument about whether to go up and cure the dwarf they’d injured, but then Maul started shivering, and we decided that she’ll spend the night recovering then we’ll try it again.
We held watches of course. These watches were enlightened by singing from above, all about a group of dwarves trapped in a rockfall who started eating each other. We tried to ignore it, and discussed whether we should try negotiation again in the morning.
The song continued, where there was one dwarf left. He’d eaten all the others. His own legs. His left arm. Only then does he start eating the flat goat.
Figures. Bloody dwarves.
In the morning, Maul used stoneshape to make some handholds. Using a pile of other useful spells, she started trying to climb but a crossbow bolt hit her. She was slightly injured, so went back to cave, cast obscuring mist, then headed out and did 15 feet of handholds.
I offered to do a spoken word performance on the foolishness of those who stop the valiant adventurers who are trying to help them.
Then Al yelled up a last chance to parlay. The dwarves said “Unarmed!” So Al and I decided to risk it, and asked them to lower a rope so we can come up. Carefully, we climbed up over the parapet onto the bridge, to face five of them. Some had tower shields, and the big boss was just uuuuugly.
“Where are the others?”
“At the bottom with our gear! We don’t want some goblins to come and nick it!”
“Get ’em, boys!”
Crap. I thought we’d done pretty well on the persuasion. Al charged up the spells, while I ran to centre to tie the rope for the others to come up. The FBNS started its stuff (and seemed to be behaving better than it usually does. All that practice must have helped). I got hit with a crossbow bolt, and then one of the guys grabbed Al. Suddenly, there was a yell from Maul below us of “SMOG” and the whole area was shrouded in fog. I heard footsteps inside the mist, and ducked silently back into it, away from the sound, to try and tie the rope to the side of the bridge. There were strange noises nearby – apparently Al was trying to make noise to distract them from me. Or that’s what she said to me later. That, and putting the FBNS onto the back of the dwarf holding him. Mind you, she screamed rather loudly – I believe they were gnomish curses. Apparently the guy holding Al dropped her, to try and get away from the FBNS. She copped quite a bit of damage in the process, too.
Maul started muttering down below, and I kept tying the knot. There were more noises from where Al was – I hope she got a hand up under each of the dwarves loincloths and got their attentions pretty thoroughly. There was one hell of a smell of singed beard, which I assume was the FBNS doing its job. Then I thought I could hear her running towards me, complete with a thud and a squish, and an OUCH!
From below, there was a whoosh of air, which headed over near the crossbows. I can only assume that Maul’s Air Elemental was doing its job. Then Al stumbled into me, looking pretty badly damaged. She needed to get to Maul as quickly as possible. So I did the only thing I could.
I grabbed her, shoved the Ring of Feather Falling onto her finger, then pushed her off the bridge.
I heard an AAAAARGH, then a slight “boing” which told me she’d hit the web, thank goodness. There were more burnt smells through the fog, and the big dude came through and up to me, but he missed. Mel grabbed Al off the web, and Maul quickly healed her. I then took a chance and went to dive past the goons and off the bridge. (Almost made it without damage – ran into the first guy and got scratched but got past the others very very nicely.)
“Tell mother I died game!”
“Oh – that’s not what I heard.”
“Hey, don’t assume Cog’s preferences!”
“I’m not – I thought he had more of a Sphere of Effect”
Crashes of lightning. Whooshes of air from the other side of the bridge. I ducked out of the fog and off to a nice hiding place behind a big solid rock. And from there, sheltered from the dudes and the lightning and the whooshes of air, I lurked.
Out of the fog cloud came a dude with a big shield, looking mean. There was a sucking noise from the other side of the bridge. And a “NOOOOO!” from Al, which sounded like it was coming from the cave – what was she doing? There was a crash of lightning and a yell of pain from the dwarves, and yells of “BOSS? WHAT’S UP?”
And quiet, for a while. Apart from the lightning crashing and the staggering of shield-guy. After a while, the guy with the glaive came out too. There was a long wait, with yells from the crossbow guys. Then the glaive guy started trying to search, so I chucked a pebble onto the bridge to distract them, using the distraction to sneak out back up the cavern. I was tempted to try for the gate at the top, but without a light source, I’d be falling into every bloody rock and hole.
The dwarves yelled at each other, and one set of footsteps headed away from the area. There was a weird flapping of wings for a bit, that went away pretty quickly.
Apparently, the others summoned a set of eagles which scanned around and reported back, including that they hadn’t seen my body either. They considered the cord they found with the goblins, and Maul tried it on her right hand, realised that it was actually helping her climb, so they loaded Mel up with them. With that, and the invisibility wand that we’d found earlier, Mel climbed up, making as little noise as she could. Then she dropped the rope back down, with the little cord on the end of it.
At this point, the two nasty dwarves near her obviously realised that something was up, although they weren’t sure what that was. There was a yell from the crossbow dude, and things were on again!
Glaive guy dropped his weapon and came up to see what was happening, and Mel PUSHED hard! There was a dwarvish scream that disappeared down the crevice, then Mel hit the other guy and took him down. I ran to the edge of my cavern and looked out – and saw Mel standing over the bloodied bits of the guy who had had the shield. There was a whizz of a crossbow bolt, and Mel turned and started racing over the bridge, jumping over the spot where the trap lay.
Up to the crossbow guy.
And made him Mincemeat.
The others hauled Al and Maul up on the rope, while I jammed the bridge trap completely.
We checked over the guys, and they weren’t wearing the same gear as the guys upstairs. What they did have were full plate or banded mail armour, a glaive, ordinary weapons, and the boss had a couple of masterwork items.
And of course, Flatgoat.
“Mmm. Flatgoat. Reminds me of my mother.”
“Smelly, covered in whiskers?”
XP 600 each, taking us from 16617 to 17217