Having survived the attacks of the black pudding, the heroes were ready to explore more of the Ratmen warrens. But as they were leaving the room, they could hear the first clanging beats of some kind of distant alarm gong. In the past, they’d heard the Ratmen use single drumbeats and four drumbeats as warnings, but this time it was a repetitive two-beats of clanging alarm. The Punnishers were pretty sure they hadn’t been spotted by anything still living, but they readied weapons for attack as they moved further into the Rat Folk warrens.
Checking their maps, they noted that behind the next side door was a stairwell leading up to an unknown area. They paused and listened, and barely audible above the constant gonging they heard the sounds of squeaking Ratmen beyond the door. A brief, whispered debate began, but was interrupted when Mos casually opened the door a crack to peek in. (Chesh’s shocked expression was well worth it.)
They could see a few ratlings, and Mos caught a glimpse of the tail end of a ratbrute exiting to the south. The warlock smirked, then pushed the door open the rest of the way just before Thorzin barreled through it.
The five ratlings didn’t put up much fight, but one was merely wounded and took off up the stairs… after it cast a spell!
They didn’t have an immediate opportunity to pursue though, as the ratbrute returned. And it brought a friend. But even two ratbrutes couldn’t slow the rolling Punnishers, and they fell rather quickly.
Meanwhile, Chesh Briarthorn was guarding the rear and watching for Ratmen reinforcements in the tunnel. She spotted a ratlord and a half-dozen ratlings, but they were apparently hurrying in a different direction when they spied the halfling. She promptly shot a very large hole in the ratlord with her hand cannon, and both she and the rats quickly retreated in opposite directions.
Mos popped his head up the stairs to see what he could see. A pair of ratling guards were standing in front of a set of double doors up there, and the warlock and the guards spotted each other at the same time. The ratlings lobbed poop bombs at him, splattering his face and hair with malodorous brown gunk. He chose to retreat, and his companions laughed at his appearance.
Our heroes tracked the blood trail left by the wounded ratlord, and found that it was heading for a fight – they could hear the sounds of pitched battle further down the tunnel, and could eventually see just a bit of the action. It appeared that the Ratmen were fending off an invading force of goblins and ogres. They chose to not get involved.
They did, however, find a couple of ratling snipers who chucked poop grenades at them. Now Mos laughed as the others were also doused with the stinking stuff!
They decided to investigate in the direction of the (still ringing) gong, and next found the personal quarters of the old albino Rat Chieftain (killed by Aendir a while back). There were no residents here, and the chieftain’s quarters appeared to have been pretty thoroughly ransacked.
Continuing on, they finally found the huge-head cavern. Someone in there was beating on a gong of some kind, but they chose to not investigate. (They didn’t want to alert anyone just yet.)
They investigated a couple more trash-filled rooms, including one that was also very wet (it had some small pools of water, draining into a hole in the floor) before finding a second set of stairs up. It was time to check it out.
The walls of the room at the top of the stairs were covered in charcoal drawings of serpents and tentacles. A pair of low-burning braziers provided some light here, and another pair of ratling guards stood ready for them. The gleam of bright light could be seen leaking around the wooden door the rats were guarding; the delvers quickly took out the guards and rushed the door in hopes of catching the human cultist unaware.
Fortunately, they guessed right that this was the bedchamber of the cultist priest.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t home.
Fortunately, there was someone there they could take out their frustrations on.
Unfortunately, it was a quartet of ratlings wearing frilly, pink lingerie!
The “ladies” didn’t put up any real fight. ’Nuff said about that.
There was a LOT of coinage in this room, and there was also a silver statue – also doing the whole snake/tentacle thing – that gave off faint emanations of magic and evil. Chesh thought it might be unhallowed.
They kept going, and found themselves in another cavern. This one had a stream running through it, and they decided to go upstream first. They found a very disturbing slaughterhouse “kitchen” where a ratbrute butcher and his underlings were getting ready to roast the skinned carcass of a dwarf.
Thorzin Oakwood charged immediately.
It was a brutal fight. The ratbrute wielded its massive cleaver well, hitting Aendir Meliamne with a couple of hard slashes before falling.
They found the “larder” next – there were 25 still-living prisoners in a small side cavern. And half of them were Ratmen! Half a dozen goblins joined the ratlings in the sweet release of death, but there were 7 humans and demihumans who were sorely glad to be rescued from a horrible fate.
They then found the Ratmen‘s Next Generation in another side cavern – they’d apparently been busy – and the delvers took care of 30 immature but feisty ratlings.
They knew they needed to get the weakened prisoners out, but weren’t sure how to navigate getting past all those Ratmen below. Thankfully, Nethwen Nagel had a thought – the stream had to meet up with the Lost River someplace!
They checked downstream and found a cache of rope and healing potions (though they smashed some of those getting the chest open), then found themselves on a high ledge overlooking the Lost River Caves East.
They quickly tied off the ropes to allow them to descend to the floor 80 feet below, but paused when they realized that big, moving thing was very nearby. Nethwen Nagel studied it for a few minutes, then remembered a lesson specifically about chuuls! The nine-foot-tall lobsters weren’t smart, but they were tough. And they liked to collect magic!
Armed with that knowledge, the Punnishers were much more willing to take on the beast. Aendir Meliamne, Thorzin Oakwood and Yona Note descended on the ropes, while Mos cast a pair of spells that allowed him to fly around invisibly until the others were ready. Nethwen Nagel and Chesh Briarthorn remained up on the ledge with the refugees and shot at the thing from long range, and everyone else unleashed a flurry of attacks… that would have finished it off quick, but its partner came charging in from the rear!
Now facing off against TWO chuuls, the delvers were in for a much tougher fight. But don’t worry, they did prevail.
And then they went searching and found the chuuls’ nest full of goodies, including:
There was much salivating over these new toys, especially after Mos identified ’em. Thorzin Oakwood tried out the axe Brool and discovered that in his hands, the axe would deal out cold damage.
And Chesh Briarthorn was quite dismayed to learn the details about Hellblazer…
End of Session.
I made a small error – Thorzin has blue eyes, and in his hands the axe will deal cold damage instead of force damage. Green-eyed characters (like Nethwen Nagel and Mos) will deal force damage when Brool is activated.