Like the bellows of a great furnace, Azrak’s lungs drew in the damp cave air and then expelled clouds of frosty breath. He glanced at the puncture marks on his right arm still oozing from the giant scorpion strikes. His labored breathing was only half from the effects of shrugged-off poison. The other part was a keen awareness that death lurked everywhere in the underground elven graveyard.
Behind them was the pool of magical, youth-restoring water. Before them a massive column of rock stretched from floor to ceiling, turning the room into a ring. Passages opened to the left and right. The moment his breathing calmed, Azrak chose the latter, which ended 30 feet back in a pile of rocks.
Box Beneath Rocks
Azrak tossed rocks aside to reveal an iron box that Ferris noted as being coffin-sized. A heavy lock evaded his lockpicking attempts, so Azrak struck it with his hammer and flipped open the lid. Inside, on a bed of velvet lay an ornate spear. He greedily snatched it, almost forgetting to hang the hammer back on his belt.
Azrak held the spear aloft and asked who might want it. Presently, the spear spoke to him in a voice only he could hear: I am a mighty spear, but speak not of my powers. Keep me close. Reveal not my magic lest your friends suffer.
Suddenly reversing himself, Azrak laughed at what he now passed off as a joke. He kept the spear firmly in hand.
Pentagram and Goggler Paintings
Next, the party looked beyond the leftside passage. A few feet past was a dark alcove. Lantern light stabbed over a pentagram drawn on the smooth cave floor. Candled affixed to the floor with melted wax cast long shadows. Ghevont warned them away from the plainly evil device.
Going deeper, they found murals of gogglers in various murderous poses. And then they came to a round chamber with an opening into the floor. Peering down, Ghevont noticed a short scramble to a lateral turns about ten feet below. Over a broken bottle, Tienarth took note of incomprehensible writing. Donning his green spectacles, he read aloud never shall you sleep.
Hounds and Hellfire
Descending and potentially encountering gogglers seemed a task for later, so they picked over jagged rocks back past the pool and down an untried passage. From around a bend, the scent of fire and sulfur tickled the memories of their nostrils. Mygnak, the inexperienced elf rogue attempted a quiet approach and came to face three snarling hellhounds.
Aderian, Azrak and Ferris rushed forward to engage the monsters. Snapping jaw grabbed Mygnak in three spots, he attempted to spin away and tumbled face-first on the ragged cave floor. Perhaps he would have next been food for the hounds, but blows began raining down from Mygnak’s comrades.
Ferris and Aderian stuck the hounds from opposite sides. As Azrak tested his new spear, his aim arced up and then firmly stabbed into his own thigh. Blood ran in a thick stream down his shin and into his boot. The next moment, a hound breathed a jet of fire which curled around his shield and singed the end of his ratty beard.
Ghevont stepped up to heal Azrak, though the favor of the Anointed One was less than hoped for. Tienarth let loose a lightning bolt that tore apart one hound. Soon, a second hound was cut down and the third leaped backwards in retreat.
The warriors moved up in pursuit. This hound breathed fire like his fallen packmate, bathing Aderian in hellish fire. Scorch marks marred the former pirate’s plate armor but this leather straps of this backpack held. Aderian pulled a potion from his belt pouch, gulping it in desperation.
Tienarth stepped up to stick the hound with his dagger and under too many blows, the hound fell. Yet immediately cave locusts scurried from the darkness to be snapping at the party. A series of lucky jabs from the old elf killed each locust in turn.
The battle over, they considered their diminished health and decided to make their way out of the cave. Azrak tossed Mygnak’s light body over his shoulder. As they came to the left turn leading up the steep ramp to the surface, they were met by two rust monsters, bizarre horrors on which they’d never laid eyes upon before.
Arrows sailed past the monsters who advanced, smelling a feast of steel and iron. Noting how the iron arrowheads turned instantly to rust, they attacked with wooden weapons and looked for a path for escape. A rust monster smacked Azrak with its tail and instantly his plate armor tumbled into so many rusty ingots. A second attack landed on his shield which immediately seemed somehow less effective.
Azrak responded with vicious stab with his new spear, which killed the monster but also destroyed the spear. The spirit in the magical weapon projected a cry of anguish into the dwarf’s mind. Azrak tossed the shaft aside, free of the curse.
The remaining rust monster turned to flee, disappearing into the darkness. The party scrambled up into the light of the dwindling daylight and headed for Muleshoe to rest.
- The cursed spear held by Azrak was destroyed by hitting the rust monster, breaking the curse. His shield went from +2 to +1 from being struck, and his suit of plate armor was ruined.
- Mygnak nearly died, but rolled well on the death table after going to zero hit points. Since location was his nose, he lost a point of wisdom.
- Characters present: Tienart/Tre, Ghevont/Jeff, Aderian/Jason, Ferris/Henry, Azrak/Nick, Mygnak/Michael, Pippen/Michael, Darthorian/Michael
- Virtues: temperance advised by Ghevont regarding the pentagram
- Vices: greed displayed by Azrak regarding the spear