With two dead party members and depleted spells, the party faces tough choices. Press on, give up, or regroup. They eventually decide to fall back, camp at a safe distance (whatever that means), deal with their dead comrades (well the one they can recover), and head back in the next morning. Here's how it goes.
Start Date: July 15, Year of the Badger, midday
Start Status: Bring out your dead!
Start Location: In the glowing tunnel in the Wilds
As the grief-stricken Maro kneels next to his sister's remains, Durego utters a swift prayer and casts a curing spell on Raúguey, who still has his weapon drawn, just in case. [3 HP healed]. Locky pokes around the mess that is Grit's slayer and... Grit, muttering, "what has it gots in its pocketses?" to himself. He finds a few fingers held together by shredded bits of flesh and recovers the battered brass ring the party found back in the Cold Caves. Without a thought he slips it on, and discovers that it fits perfectly. "One ring for me," whispers the halfling with a sly smile.
"We should retreat," says Ohwatoo, already standing near the exit door. "Hopefully we can close the door behind us and lock away anything else that's down here."
Durego and Mordikarr both nod, and Rawon puts a hand on Maro's shoulder. "Come friend, let's carry her out." He glances back to where bits of Grit are entangled with the other creature's guts. "I'm not sure our Dwarf friend is recoverable, though we'll drink to his memory."
With Durego in front, Maro and Rawon pick up Nissa and head for the exit. Ohwatoo falls in behind them, Mordikarr and Dagmarten trail after. Locky and Ingvild finish checking the battle site for anything valuable while Raúguey stands watch, looking back and forth between the glowing globes, the stone figures, the black door, and the gap leading away south. "Come on Raúguey, we're done here," says Ingvild as he moves to follow the rest of the group.
"Raúguey no!" Locky's cry is too late. Without a word the big guy sheathes the Sword of Bees and unslings his crossbow, plucking a bolt from his quiver.
"Ahhh crud! Dagmarten! Look out!" Ingvild ducks around the corner, unsure of what Raúguey intends. There is no sign of an enemy.
"Raúguey, what are you... Oh!" Locky sees where the fighter is aiming and bolts for the corner, skidding and slipping as he goes.
Raúguey raises the crossbow and fires at the glowing globe! The bolt strikes and is instantly destroyed in a blinding burst of red light! The big guy holds his pose for a moment, then lowers the crossbow and moves over to the globe. Locky creeps back along the hall. Raúguey looks at the halfling and winks. "Guess it's a good thing no one touched it! Come on, let's get going." They are the last to step through the doorway and Raúguey pauses there. "Let's hope this works," he whispers to Locky as he places his hand over the floating silver plate.
It does. The black door simply reappears, sealing away the dead creatures and Grit's torn and scattered remains. The pair brings up the rear of the party procession, which winds back up the curving passage and outdoors. The sun is still high in the sky when they reach the surface; it's hard to believe it's only been half an hour or so since they entered the cursed tunnel. When Rawon tells the hirelings what happened, they are clearly shaken, especially Saurabh, who sits on a sun-warmed stone, his back to the party. "So much death," he mutters. "What can men do against such reckless hate?"
With Maro and Rawon dealing with the dead, the other party members walk a short ways off to discuss their next step. Eventually they decide to retreat to the spot where the stream cut the road, a few miles back. Though it is only midday the spell casters are depleted, and there is a funeral to prepare.
The party winds back down the hill, and heads east, quickly reaching the stream. Mordikarr and Dagmarten scout upstream a ways, and find a likely camp spot. The party settles in for an afternoon of rest and sad contemplation. Well, that and going through the possessions of the fallen of course. Durego pulls out the odd kettle that Nissa had carried since the Cold Caves, and Saurabh joins him in studying the thing. The pair spend several hours filling, emptying, heating, and commanding the thing in the common tongue and in Elvish. It's Ohwatoo that notices the similarity between the kettle and Grit's mess kit. "If it's Dwarf-made, then maybe the command word is Dwarfish?"
"Well, command it then!" says Durego, more than a little irritated by the whole thing.
"I... don't speak Dwarf."
"You're one of the smartest people in the world! How can you not speak Dwarf?"
Ohwatoo draws himself up and waggles a finger at Durego. "I'll have you know I speak common, Elvish, Goblin, Deleric, and Kalintian! How many languages do you know?"
"I speak a little Dwarf," chimes in Ingvild hastily. "What shall I say?"
With Durego and Saurabh coaching and Ohwatoo providing the occasional phrase, the group spends the next thirty minutes trying to activate the kettle. Finally Ingvild says, "Kettle cook!" in Dwarf, and a cloud of white steam puffs out of the spout!
The astonished Durego nearly drops it, but Saurabh steadies his hand. The cleric pulls off the lid and sees that the water the kettle was filled with has been transformed into steaming broth! He sniffs and announces, "It smells like beef broth. Who wants to try it?"
Raúguey, ever hungry, holds out a cup, and Durego pours a measure. Raúguey sniffs, then shrugs and downs the liquid in three quick swallows. "Ahhh!" he says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "That was tasty. And I feel... kind of warm and tingly."
"Look! The scrapes and scratches on his arm! They're healing!" In moments all Raúguey's wounds vanish [3 HP healed]. Durego quickly pours another cup and drinks it down himself. In short order his own minor wounds are healed [2 HP healed]. "That was about half of it. Anyone else hurt?"
No one answers but Mordikarr decides to try a dose anyhow, leaving a single cup in the kettle. Durego decides to leave it for now, to see what happens.
With everyone healed, the still-sad party settles down to rest, following their new, diminished watch rotation. The night is dark, with scattered clouds and a new moon, but nothing disturbs the group other than a few faint and distant wolf howls, a reminder that they are deep in unknown territory.
The next morning everyone is up before dawn, and they join Maro and Rawon in saying goodbye to Nissa. They hoist her remains into the top of a huge hemlock, one of the few evergreens they've seen. Words are spoken and tears shed (but not many, because Nissa was actually kind of annoying). As the others pack up the camp, Maro says a solitary and final farewell to his sister, accompanied only by the two lynx kits.
It is decided. The party will head back into the tunnels and finish exploring the place. Rawon and Mordikarr wait for Maro to finish his goodbyes, then the trio heads off on point, with the rest of the party falling in behind. Everyone knows where they're going, and it only takes an hour or so to get back to the tunnel.
The group wastes no time. After Durego casts a holy blessing they proceed cautiously, keeping closer together than usual. Around and down to the door, then open and in and right, back to the site of yesterday's battle. As Durego rounds the corner, he stops short, surprise evident on his face. "They're gone!"
The others peer around the corner where gleaming yellow stone shows no sign or stain from yesterday's fight. "Floor drink blood! Like we saw before," says Mordikarr.
Durego nods grimly. "Let's just hope those things didn't rise from the dead."
The group presses on, past the glowing orb, stone figures, and still-closed door, into the open passage beyond. They advance through the glowing mist, to a corner south, then a straight and flat corridor south. Forty or fifty feet on, another door appears in the west wall, but Durego continues past it, to another corner, east this time. "I think it's a big square," he says. "Let's check the rest before we open a door." The others nod agreement so he continues.... and is proven correct. The passage goes east, opening into another chamber like the one to the north, complete with globes, stone figures, and another door.
"I'll bet that far door leads to another curved corridor like the one we came in through," says Dagmarten. "Should we check it out, or try one of the other doors?"
"Let's try the center first," says Rawon, and Raúguey nods along.
Durego shrugs, then walks to the nearest door. "Any traps?"
"Not that I can see," says Ingvild.
Durego touches his fingers to the glowing spots, and the door vanishes, leaving the silver plaque hanging in mid-air. "That's just eerie," mutters Locky, nervously twisting the brass ring he wears. Beyond the door, there's a short corridor, then another door.
"Wait here. Let me check this out," says Ingvild, then he steps into the room. He circles the chamber slowly studying the floor and walls as he goes. They're the same seamless glowing yellow stone as the halls. Finally he stoops next to the first chest. "No lock or seal," he calls. "It looks like the lid is just resting on top. He taps it with the hilt of his sword. "Stone, probably heavy." He checks the other two chests, and waves the others in. "There are some grooves on either end, handholds maybe." I'm guessing it'll take two to lift the lid at least. How do you want to do this?"
OOC: Everyone is at full health. Let me know who is opening things and where others are.
End Date: July 16, Year of the Badger, morning
End Status: Loot?
End Location: In the golden tunnels, deep in the Wilds