DM’s Note: With their newly-acquired level, several PCs needed a bit of retconned story resolution in town before we headed down into the Dungeon. The biggest change was the addition of a new member to the party, a gorgeous black panther named Kemnebi. She is the animal companion of Nethwen, and a gift from her mother.
The adventurers braced themselves for the upcoming showdown against the kobolds and their toll booth (as shown on the Deep Temple Map) and climbed down the ladder.
The ladder ended in a small room with a door. This opened out into a tunnel of unworked stone. The delvers investigated the cave-in just to the east and confirmed that it was indeed impassable, then headed west to investigate this section of the Lost River Caves.
They found what appeared to be another, smaller cave-in but it turned out there was a narrow opening here. It would have been a very tight fit for the bigger people in the party – and they weren’t sure they wanted to face off against any kobolds in those conditions – so they left it and moved on.
After winding their way down a narrow tunnel for a while, they found a tall side passage. A 12-foot cliff blocked that tunnel after about 40 feet, and they could see a small body lying atop that cliff, with one hand hanging over the edge. Chesh volunteered to investigate, and with a boost from Aendir she found the stripped corpse of a small, dog-lizard faced humanoid. (It had been shot in the face with a crossbow bolt.) Also, there was a tunnel up here that Chesh investigated all by herself. This tunnel did meet up with the earlier tight squeeze passage, but there was also another side branch that she chose not to investigate without backup. (Dammit.)
Next they found a barricade crossing the entire tunnel, constructed of barrels, boards, crates, and rocks. The wall was only three or four feet high, but sharpened poles and stakes prevented anyone from easily climbing or leaping over. However, someone or something had blasted a hole right through the center of the barricade. The charred aftermath of a large fire was evident here, and there were a half-dozen kobold bodies scattered in the area. According to their maps, this was the kobolds’ toll booth.
A heavily reinforced side door here was obviously battered in and broken, leading into a worked-stone room where the carnage continued. This had obviously been where the kobold guards stayed, but someone beat down their door and killed them all. A back store room here had held kegs of oil, but every barrel had been broken open and their contents spilled onto the floor. Lighting a torch in this fume-filled room would be bad.
After some discussion, they opted not to investigate the kobolds’ area any further and moved on to the Lost River Caves West.
A bit further south the tunnel opened out into a huge unworked cavern, hundreds if not thousands of feet across. A distant pillar of stone was clearly visible, mostly covered in phosphorescent lichens or fungi. Off to the east, a building could be seen. The map marked this as an ancient temple to Ghul. The building appeared to be covered in faintly glowing statuary. From further within the huge cavern, the unmistakable sound of the river could be heard.
Next to the cavern entrance was a constructed wall that closed off a chamber, with its door standing open. Within was another kobold corpse and a bunch of dead, enormous stag beetles. A bit of poking around determined that it appeared the kobolds were raising these beetles? Beetle ranching is a thing?!
They made their way south to the river, then moved east to get a better look at an altar out in the center of the cavern floor. This ancient stone altar has apparently seen recent use. Skulls and bones are prominently placed in the pile of oddities and refuse atop this stone slab. The altar stands before an ornately decorated building set into the cavern wall. The temple building has dozens of statues of horrible, demonic gargoyles posed in lewd acts. The building sits atop a huge slant-sided dais reminiscent of a ziggurat, but with only one level, and stairs inlaid with mosaic tiles lead up to the black maw of the temple entrance.
The temple and the altar are dedicated to Ghul, but whoever has been using the altar recently appears to be a follower or Father Claw.
While this investigation was happening, Nethwen noticed a flicker of movement up on a high ledge to the south. Someone or something was watching from the shadows. When she informed the others, they formed up and began moving to check it out. The shadowy figure fired a crossbow bolt over their heads and warned them in a hissing, sibilant voice to stay away. Of course, they ignored that request. While Chesh tried to sweet-talk it, the sentry stepped out into the light.
A dark-skinned reptilian humanoid creature held a light crossbow at the ready as it tried again to warn the delvers away. Thorzin decided it was time for action and opened fire.
He opened a hornet’s nest, however. Aendir charged up the slope to take it on in melee combat, but it fell just before he could get there. He was just in time though to begin the fight against the half dozen more of them that came pouring out of a door up there on the ledge. He was the first to get a good whiff of the incredibly foul musk of these humanoids, and immediately realized they must be troglodytes.
As the fight continued, there was unexpected movement from the flank as more of them appeared from down by the river and attacked the rear echelons of the party. Things were still going okay though, until the big one with the necklaces and the trident showed up. She hit Aendir hard, but the stalwart paladin welcomed the challenge. The two traded blows, but with the help of his friends he was definitely getting the better of her.
And then the shaman showed up from the river with even more reinforcements.
Things were a little tense there for a bit, but the delvers were made of hardy stuff and quickly dispatched these dark, smelly troglodytes. The queen finally fell in combat, at which point the shaman apparently decided it was time to bug out. He tried to turn tail and run just as Mos hit him with a faerie fire spell, but Yona wasn’t about to let him get away. The shaman summoned a huge cloud of fog and tried to run, but she chased him down and buried an arrow in the back of his skull.
The delvers caught their breath for a few moments as they began searching for valuables. The queen had several necklaces of jade and amber, and some strange blackish-gray powder in her pouch.
As they were looting, Nethwen noticed another troglodyte that popped his head out the door, took a look at the carnage, and turned tail to run. [[Aendir and Thorzin were not about to let that happen, and gave chase.
They found a guard room / barracks beyond the door, and stairs leading down into darkness, but no missing troglodyte. On they charged.
A side door partway down the stairs opened into a bizarre, stench-filled, bedroom boudoir. Chains and manacles appeared to be the preferred decorations, and a pair of trussed-up and helpless troglodytes hung from the ceiling. But still no missing troglodyte. Onward!
The next side door opened into the shaman’s personal chamber, judging by the small shrine against the wall. A sleepy troglodyte raised its head from the bed/nest there, and the warriors struck it down immediately. But still no missing troglodyte. They finally stopped their search here though, and headed back to rejoin the others above.
End of Session.
That was a fun test of everybody’s new 3rd level abilities. Great fight, and good job working together as a team! See everybody in two weeks!