Wherein the heroes find their goal and more than they bargain for.
“But Song says he can get us past the Loud Louds!”
“But shouldn’t Stone Man go first?”
“He is too loud. Let Stone Man and Broken go down the other passage.”
“I am not leaving the Stone Man. He goes where I go!”
Few notice as Song begins to creep off as the party discusses which direction Stone Man should proceed. Meander and Red spot him as he starts going down the stairs and walk off, following him quietly down the hall to the stairs. Ember suggests the militia men should follow them and trails after the militia men, followed by Broken, Stone Man and the kids.
They quickly lose sight of Song in the narrow and twisted tunnels. Song obviously doesn’t need any light to see in the tunnels. After descending the stairs and a few turns, the tunnel opens up a bit. Creeping up to the opening, Meander and Red see two giant mushrooms with Song standing underneath. He is singing to the mushrooms, but makes a small motion with his hands, waving us to go past him.
Looking at the passage, it appears to be well travelled. The passage forks, one continuing onward and one fork branching to the right. Remembering what the matron told Red, one fork leads to the Big Bigs and the other way leads past the Loud Louds and should lead to Big Red. Meander and Red sneak past the mushrooms. They hear the others following behind them.
The passage becomes very close for a short time through another few twists and then opens into large room.
This roomy cavern is filled with dirty straw nests, scraps of weapons, armor, other junk and the discarded remains of the Kobold tribes meals. This appears to be the main lair for the Kobolds.
The room is filled with Kobolds. They seem to be relaxing but getting ready. Each one is gathering up their small spears. One is sharpening a dagger. They know that we are around and are getting ready.
Meander whispers to Red, “The Kobolds.” After a short pause, he adds, “Let’s surprise them.”
The passage behind them is pretty tight. Everyone is spread out single file, moving slowly and quietly.
Looking at the Kobolds in the room, there are four within sight. One is much larger than the others. This one might be considered a Big Big.
Meander decides to run in. He motions to Red that he is about to run in, and to have the others follow. Meander rushes in and screams out as he dives into one of the small Kobolds. The Kobold gets knocked off his feet and flies over against the wall. Red follows Meander in and swings his stout rod, striking a second Kobold in the chest, who slumps against the wall. The militia men rush in as well and begin to form a defensive wall, brandishing their spears.
Taking another look at the room, there are around a dozen Kobolds scattered throughout the room. Three of these Kobolds stand a head taller than the others. They all look up, startled momentarily, and begin to rush in towards the intruders. The Kobolds swarm the group, moving startlingly fast.
Ember, seeing the Kobolds crowding, asks from behind the line, “How far back does the room go?”
Red answers quickly, “About fifty feet.”
Two of the Kobolds attack Meander, one strikes him in the stomach with a small sized spear. A BigBig uses his chain talon, pulling Meander’s legs out from under him. More crowd around Red, who manage to fend off several attacks but takes a spear thrust to his chest.
Song continues to sing to the mushrooms.
Meander hops to his feet and gets out his battle axe. He chops at the BigBig, but it tries to block with its talon. The axe slices through its wrist, causing the hand and talon to fall to the floor. The BigBig just looks at the bloody stump in horror.
Broken spots the fallen weapon and begins to cast a spell. The flying talon lifts into the air and strikes out at another Kobold, striking its right arm.
Ember also begins to cast a spell. During the chanting, his hands begin to smoke menacingly.
Red also casts a spell and rocks coat his hands forming rock-covered mallets. He swings at another Kobold, but misses. All the militia men poke at the Kobolds with their spears. The Kobolds are too small and quick and easily dodge their attacks.
One of the Kobolds turns and strikes one of the townsmen with a spear. The other Kobolds swing at Meander and Red, but they manage to dodge the spears. The injured, bleeding BigBig begins to run to the back of the group. Another BigBig steps up to the group and yanks Meander off his feet.
When Stone Man stomps through the corridor by the mushrooms, the LoudLouds begin to get agitated and begin making a piercing shrieking noise, over and over. Song gives up his soothing song and proceeds down the hallway to the group.
Meander gets up and tries to hit the Kobold warrior, but this one is more wary. Broken makes motions and causes the animated talon to attack and miss the Kobold warrior.
Ember finishes his chanting and smoky tendrils begin to move past the party towards the Kobolds. The tendrils become laced with fire and begin to race between almost all the Kobolds in the room,
weaving a complex pattern across the battlefield. The fire explodes and many of the Kobolds stand in shock or dying. After the explosion, smoke trails back towards Ember and he appears to absorb it.
Song decides to move up and begin healing the militia men.
Red swings, catching a Kobold in the chest. He lifts the Kobold off the ground and it slides down the wall to the floor.
Meander looks at the Kobolds around him, and picks up one of the Kobolds and throws him over at the wall next to Red. He overthrows the mark, however, and the Kobold splays out on the floor against the wall.
Broken misses another Kobold with the animated flying talon.
Ember looks uncertainly at the group, waiting to see what is needed.
Red steps up towards the prone Kobold and swings his rod down. The Kobold begins to roll away, but the rod catches its hand, crushing it to pulp.
The Militia Men strike out at one of the remaining Kobolds. They manage to drive a spear into its left leg and stun the Kobold.
The one lone Kobold, hiding behind the rock where he fell after being tackled by Meander, takes the opportunity to run away. He sprints rounds the corner and is gone.
There is no question that everyone in the cave complex knows that someone has past this point. They direct Stone Man to stand guard while the group divides up to dispatch and search the bodies of the fallen Kobolds. Ember stands apart, listening. While they are searching, Red says, “You know Broken, we still haven’t found your 200 silver pieces lying around.”
Broken says heatedly, “I know!” He turns to Ember. "Have you ever found 200 silver pieces just laying around?
Red says, “I bet that Kobold that got away had it.”
There is not much worth keeping besides a few Kobold sized spears and two flying talons. Broken takes one of the flying talons to add to his arsenal.
Ember nods his head in prayer, and shortly afterwards his eyes light on fire again.
Meander asks Red, “Can we block the sound some way? Could you block the passageway with a wall of rock or something?”
Red says, “Well, does it really matter? Everything in the cave complex already knows we are here.”
Meander, “I guess not.”
Meander and Red go check out the other side of the Kobold den. From the opposite side of the chamber is a passage south which appears to lead up some stairs to the Slurk chamber. There remains a single hallway unexplored, leading to the west. They move back to join the group. The kids have moved into the den as well.
Ember looks puzzled. “There are three Kobolds.” He points to the northwest through the stone. “One is a very, very potent soul.” His eyes still burn and flicker with light, scanning the walls.
Red adds after listening for a moment, “There is one thing to the north making some noise, and a couple or a few to the northeast that are … making fainter noises. So when we go up this tunnel, there will be one to the north.”
Meander asked, “A couple of things to the northwest making noise?”
Red, “No, there is one thing to the north that is moving some small very hard objects. More are to the northeast making quieter vibrations.”
Meander says "Do we want to fight them here, or do we want to go to them?
Ember, “We may not have a choice.”
After more time spent scanning, Ember adds pointing to the east-northeast, “Guys, the child is in that direction.”
Broken, “SWEET! We must go that way.” He looks about for a moment, “Let’s go west.”
Ember adds, "There is a human there. I’m assuming it is the one we are looking for. There is also three Kobolds … and something else. I don’t know what the something is.
Kit yells, “Its SILVER!”
Broken, “He’s a little Mushroom man like Song.”
Ember replies, “It is not like song. We have one very powerful soul to our north roughly, and a powerful soul with the human. Their life spark is very strong.” The fires fade from his eyes.
Broken, “Let the golem lead. Since they know we are coming, it won’t matter.”
Meander, “Ok, let’s just rush them.”
Broken, “The militia men can stay back and guard the children.”
Ember, “I see at most six Kobolds and one something.”
Meander replies, “I think you should stop counting, because every time you count them, it gets higher.”
Ember ignores the comment, “I think you are right, bum rush them.”
The group heads to the west and enter another twisty narrow tunnel. They proceed up the tunnel to another room. Meander peers around Stone Man to inspect the room. In the center of room stands a massive centipede, crafted into a throne. The corpse has been propped up in the center of the far wall on a dais of stone blocks. Its legs curling in around anyone who sits upon it like leveled arm rests. A really big Kobold sits upon the throne.
Upon the Stone Man’s entrance to the room, the Kobold stands up and he starts saying something in his own language and gesturing to the steps in front of the throne. Murlokrep is a physical paragon of Kobolds and his imposing powerhouse frame belies the usual assumptions about his pathetic reptilian race. The King’s one good eyes peers from his skull with a fierce aspect, smoldering with rage at the parties intrusion. He wields a huge wicked-looking axe. His regal snout is pierced with a gold nose ring and his well groomed ears are also adorned with gold studs. He wears a jeweled skull over his left eye.
Two things stand out about him immediately. Green lightning-like energy is crackling around his arms and legs causing his muscles to bulge and his veins to pop out. He also clearly has some kind of sparkling shimmering shield around him. To either side of him are two BigBig Kobolds.
As Murlokrep speaks, Red translates softly to the group, “He is saying things that cast doubts on the quality of your mothers. Ooh, he really doesn’t like your mom. Now he is insulting your fathers, who apparently smell of elderberries. We are about to honor ourselves by being sacrifices to the crown. He will honor us by eating … our … organs.”
Startlingly, the warriors immediately turn to the Stone Man and stab him with their spears. Sparks fly from his arms.
The group gets ready as they are blocked by the Stone Man in the narrow passage. Meander mumbles something that turns into a primal scream. He grits his teeth and begins to quickly bounce at the ready. Broken begins to try to animate the flying chain, but is distracted as the Stone Man is hit. Ember begins to chant as smoke curls around his hands. Red begins his chanting, manipulating the earth besides him.
Stone Man charges past the two warriors and up the stairs. He brings his great sword down at the King’s head. The Kobold attempts to block the attack, swinging up the axe as the sword smashes into his arm. The shield around the King shimmers and crackles from where the sword struck. The shield appears to have dampened the blow with the rest absorbed by armor made of chitinous plates of some insect. The King took a blow that would have killed any creature they had faced thus far without any visible damage and looks even more grim and menacing.
He swings his axe around and buries it in the Stone Man’s chest in a spray of sparks. Stone Man appears to stop. The other two Kobolds jab at the golem with their spears, with scoring a line across the stone.
Meander looks shocked to see the Stone Man taken out, but decides to run out anyway rather than fighting them all at the head of the hallway. He sprints around the Stone Man and guards at lightning speed, flying up the steps and jumps on the Kobold King, wrapping up his arms in a hold. Once he gets the King held, he suddenly locks up, and his head is thrown back in a gasp. Green lightning starts crackling around Meander and the green lightning around the King begins to fade. He suddenly doesn’t look quite as strong.
Broken begins his animation spell again.
Smoke starts to curl up Ember’s arms and begins to pour from his nose, ears and mouth. Fire seemingly engulfs Ember for a moment and is followed by a string of curses.
Red flows the stone around his form and is encased in plates of granite and slate.
The King jerks loose from Meander’s grasp. Stone Man haltingly moves into action. He lifts his sword and swings it around to strike the King across the back. The shield crackles and absorbs the damage. The two warriors keep plinking away at Stone Man’s armor, managing to do some minor damage.
Meander jumps back on the King, grabbing ahold of him again, and seizing again as well. The lightning crackles around them both, fading more from the King.
Broken moves into the room. Ember listens while waiting to move forward. He hears weapons striking the Stone Man. He begins to chant again. Red moves into the room up to the nearest Kobold warrior. He swings his rod, catching the warrior in the left leg.
The King wrestles free again and gives Meander a nasty look. Merlokrep’s voice takes on an eerie, hollow tone, and his words are full of power. Nothing seems to happen for a moment, then a strong ethereal voice echoes in Meander’s head, “SLEEP!” Meander stares at the King, puzzled.
The Kobold warrior jumps on Stone Man, hitting his chest, but does no damage. The other warrior turns to Red and sweeps him off his feet.
Meander lunges back at the King, wrestling him again to a pinned position for the moment. The green lightning disappears. The shimmering appears around Meander, with the shield dimming around the King.
Broken begins to direct the animated talon, striking at the guard attacking the golem. Smoke wraps around Ember’s hands and stream out towards the guard. When it connects with the guard, it flares up, but the guard seems unfazed.
Red, destroyer of hands, get up and connects the rod to the guard’s hand. The guard curls his hand up and closes his eyes for a moment. After a moment, the guard shakes off the pain and sprints for the tunnels to the right side of the room, yelling in his chittering tongue. The other guard turns from the Stone Man to attack the talon whizzing around his body.
With his magical strength enhancements gone, the King is still strong for a Kobold, but he is no true match for Meander. He tries to break out of the pin, but Meander keeps him locked tight. Meander looks frozen and glossy eyed, his muscles rigid with strain. The King’s shields fade to a bare spark. The King starts to visibly wince in the squeezing grasp.
Broken directs the talon to continue attacking, but the Kobold is too quick. Ember walks into the room just in time to see Red begin chasing the Kobold to the hallway. Red drives his rod into the Kobolds back and the Kobold slumps to the floor.
The King continues to struggle, but can’t break free from Meander’s grasp. As Meander stays locked in pose, the shield vanishes. He remains frozen, unaware of the combat around him. He can feel the strange energies that swirl inside him, with a whispering voice being added to the mix, growing stronger the longer he holds the King.
ToughBark comes up to the room and looses an arrow, knocking the remaining guard to the ground. Song quietly moves into the room and by Meander. He begins singing, directing his healing song to heal Meander’s stomach wound.
Broken directs the flying talon around the King, striking at the King, narrowly missing Meander.
Ember casts his eyes about, moving over to the eastern passageway, and near the fallen Kobold in the hallway. Red tells him as he get’s near, “When he yelled a moment ago, he called for help.” Ember listens in the passageway and hears chittering. It sounds like a tense argument between Kobolds in the distance. “I think they are trying to decide if they want to come out or not. They are behind me.” Red leans against the wall and rests for a moment.
Broken again directs the talon at the King, this time he misses and strikes Meander in the arm. Fortunately it didn’t seem to affect him. Meander stays locked rigid, holding the struggling King in his grasp.
Ember whirls as a Kobold woman rounds the corner behind him with a dagger brandished. The woman is wearing jewelry and has shiny blue scales. Ember lifts his hands to protect himself and in stabbed in the hand with the dagger. He reaches back and grabs his metal staff, quickly swinging the staff and folding her in two. She drops to the floor. Ember strikes again with the staff to insure she never gets back up.
Meander finally lets go of the King, taking a step back in the process. He shakes in head a bit, as if to clear his thoughts. Then he pulls free his axe and swings at empty air, missing the King. Stone Man, who has been posed to attack for awhile, lets fall the giant sword, but also misses the King. Broken directs the talon at the King and scrapes along the tough crocodile-like scales on his right arm. Red moves over close to the King and misses him as well with the stout rod.
The King snarls viciously and swings the axe deep into Meander’s shoulders. Meander blacks out from the blow, sprawled out on the floor and bleeding from the deep wound. The King pivots to face the others in time to be struck in the stomach from an arrow. He ducks under the giant golem’s sword and stays wary of the flying talon, still whirling about like a snake. He almost defected a blow from the rock encrusted warrior, moving the axe into position, but the rod collided sharply with his hand.
Ignoring Song, who moved singing behind Meander, the King launches a flurry of strikes against Red, deflecting his rod with a strike against his hand and swinging the axe back around to cleave the rocky plates covering his thigh. The King eyes flick up at ToughBark in the back and he begins to pull back, causing the arrow to glance off his chest plates, skittering to the corner of the room. Red seizes the moment and swings his rod around in a massive crushing blow to the King’s lower mid section. He is lifted slightly by the blow, and then slumps to the ground.
Ember calls out from the edge of the side passage, “The debating seems to have stopped. They seem to be chanting. It might be religious. It doesn’t appear to be magical.”
Meander groans loudly, having been healed by Song during the final moments of the fight. The wound is still throbbing terribly. He feels as if he tried to catch a falling tree. He awoke and rolled away from the fight before getting to his feet. Broken was busily scooping raw elemental materials from the ground through some magic to layer on the golem’s wounds to heal it.
Ember shouts again, “Move your asses. I think they are sacrificing the last kid.”
Song starts moving towards the hall. Meander grunts as he took off at a sprint, barely glancing at the small tunnel, stopping as it opened to a small room. He calls back to Ember, whom he passed running down the hall, “Is this the right way? There are three Kobolds and some weird dead guy.”
The small room is roughly hewn and plain. A gruesome bloodstained altar stands centered near the far wall. Two Kobold guards stand in front, chains held loosely in their hands. An ancient white-scaled decrepit Kobold stands behind the altar holding a knife in the air. Spittle hangs from his chin and a shimmering field appears to surround the shaman.
A wooden man-like body lays on the altar, with a gapping hole cut into its chest. Jekkajak reaches into its chest and tears out some gnarled rootlike thing and cackles in glee. The root catches on fire and the dagger catches on fire a moment later as well.
Thudding footsteps echo up the hallway. Ember and Red were a step behind Meander. Broken and ToughBark can be seen in the tunnel, followed by what sounds like the militia men.
Before they can react, the guards lash out with their chain whips and knock Ember and Meander to the ground. Jekkajak cackles strange incantations and makes arcane gestures, finishing in a frenzied dance. Magics whips out at the two warriors, causing them to grow larger, stronger, and giving them a frenzied gleam.
Meander rolls to his feet and lashes out with his whip, but the Kobold deftly steps aside. Ember stands up and gets ready to leap out of the way. While waiting, he notices someone cowering in the back corner of the room, ashen face filled with horror. Broken and the rest are trapped in the tunnel, but Red begins to cast a spell.
Jekkajak looses a terrible roar, and the ground shakes with his voice. All the militia men turn and run. The deputies and Ember hold their ground, but their mouths fall slack from shock. Red looses track of his spell and they all stand silent. The Kobold guards whoop and sweep Meander and Ember off their feet again.
The shaman begins casting. His strange noises change into disconcerting chittering noises, and chittering noises from the walls respond. A swarm of motes develops in the middle of the room and the break into smaller groups to cover Meander, Ember, Red and Broken. Itching sensations cover their body as creatures seem to crawl all over them.
The guard lash out at Ember and Meander, striking their arms as they try to defend themselves, leaving nasty red gashes. Meander is barely able to stand, but tries to lash back at the Kobold, but it is too fast. Ember stands and again waits to leap out of danger.
Broken begins a spell, focusing and talking to the flames of a torch. Tough Bark squeezes between Red and Broken to step into the room. Red begins to cast a spell and then yells, “EVERYONE CLOSE YOUR EYES!”
Broken, focused on his spell, sees the Shaman casting out of the corner of his eyes. Jekkajak’s mouth opens wide and begins to emit a strange sparkly glow. A hypnotic rainbow pattern washes over the group, but doesn’t quite reach Broken in the hallway.
The warriors knock down ToughBark and Meander. Meander, exhausted and battered, stands up again and manages to snare one of the guards. He yanks on the guard to pull him closer, but unfortunately pulls the guard on top of ToughBark by accident.
Broken makes coaxing motions to something growing inside the torch. “I would like you to go into the room ahead. If you see some lizard looking guys, well, do what you do best.” A fiery imp leaps from the torch.
Ember takes a moment, finally able to turn a critical eye to the shaman. The shaman is powerful, but not quiet as powerful as himself. However, he has nothing to counter the shaman’s magic at the moment.
Red creates his earthen armor, prepared now to take on the guards.
Jekkajek directs his magic at Ember. He gathers the shadows around him until it radiates power. He throws the ball of freezing darkness at Ember, causing him to be wracked in pain momentarily.
The standing guard whirls his chain dagger around, catching Meander in the head, leaving a huge bleeding gash. Meander slumps to the floor, blood pooling by his head.
The guard on the ground wrestles briefly with ToughBark, stabbing him in the chest with the chain dagger. ToughBark stands up, knocks and looses an arrow at the kobold on the ground, striking him in the chest, just as a darkness bolt streaks across the room from Jekkajak, striking his arm.
The fire imp leaps over several people to land in the center of the room. Ember conjures smoke from his hands, and directs them towards Jekkajak. Fire erupts from the shaman’s chest, as yellow smoke streams back towards Ember. Red scoops up a sizable rock and launches it at the shaman, striking him high in the shoulder, but causing the shaman to pass out.
The two guards lash out disparately, knocking down ToughBark and Ember. The fire imp leaps over to touch one of the Kobolds and flares up, as the Kobold catches fire.
Song pushes through the group to get to Meander. Ember, on the ground next to Meander, leans over Meander and stabilizes his head wound, stopping the bleeding. He won’t die immediately, but does need attention. Song begins singing as he pushes closer.
Red grabs another rock from the wall and lobs it over the heads of the people laying on the ground. He strikes the warrior in the chest.
ToughBark crawls out of the way of the flames, over to the altar before standing.
The fiery Kobold strikes out at the imp. Flames race up the chain whip and set the Kobold’s hands on fire as well. The other guard lashes out at Red, knocking him to the ground. The Imp embraces the Kobold next to him, causing it to pass out from the flames.
Ember stands up and on his toes, ready to dodge the attacks of the last Kobold. The Kobold turns to ToughBark and strikes out, leaving a stripe across his right hand. Red, still prone, scoops up some earth from the ground and unsuccessfully throws it at the remaining Kobold. The Fire Imp leaps over and grasps ahold of the Kobold, setting him on fire. The Kobold falls shrieking. The smell of burned Kobold lies thick in the chamber.
Broken walks over to the imp and dismisses it. It quickly leaps back into the nearest torch and disappears.
Song and Ember begin to check over the wounds the group has taken. The kids rush into the room to check on Hawler. He still is slumped against the wall in the corner in shock. He stays catatonic even after all the Kobolds are slain. He has to be carried off. He looks relatively unharmed, but has been emotionally scarred by the incident.
Silver lies dead on the table. Instead of a mushroom, like Song, he appears to be an actual plant. He has smooth white bark-like skin. He has thin reedy branches coming off his head like hair.
Even in death, Jekkajak still clutches the wicked blade that he used to cut Silver’s heart out. Jekkajek’s chamber has crude drawings smeared on the walls. It seems to tell a story of Kobolds rising up to the over world. They are fleeing from something that is deeper down below, a black creature with glowing red eyes.
While the healers are working on reviving Meander, Red puts on the Murlokrep’s crown. Immediately, Red’s skin begins to ripple and take on a scaly appearance. It has the same crocodile thickness of the King’s skin.
After a bit work, Song and Ember manage to revive Meander. His vibrant confidence seems subdued as they gather up the treasures and kids to begin the journey back.