An Entrance Long Awaited
Still battered by the winds, the group was unable to take any time to tend to the injuries they suffered from the fight with the tembos. Vinara used her magic to try and calm the spirits of the land which were causing the cyclone of dust and sand. She appeased the spirits, and when the winds died down a clump of exposed boulders in the ravine could be seen. Among the freshly exposed rocks, they saw a green vine pushing up through a crack between the rocks. Looking closer, the crack that the vine emerged from look like it could be edge of a stone trapdoor.
Castri scouted out now that the blowing sand was not obscuring the visibility. To their relief, there was nothing visible as far as he could see. Morg quickly skinned the hides of the tembos to gather more materials for another suit of hide armor and then helped remove the rubble from on top of the trap door. Cautious, based on their previous experiences in ancient crypts, Merric checked the door for traps, but found nothing. Gwyn was unable to sense magic from the door, but felt a powerful font of arcane energy from deep within the earth. With no immediate danger or winds, they were able to tend to their wounds quickly.
Vinara easily lifted the heavy stone door to reveal a dark sloping passageway which lead underground. As they descended, they saw signs of battle – skeletons littered the floor and rotted weapons of ancient design were scattered among them. So old were the weapons that no metal or anything of value remained. The walls of the chamber were covered in growing vines. As the group lit torches and started to move forward, a faint scratching sounds could be heard coming from ahead of them. Suddenly, a rasping voice called out from the darkness…
“Leafnes, ambitmeges of Lubar. We laestan to Avor Faeroath, voo nerians gafolmanug on his Treow.”
The language was old a difficult to understand, although some of the words were familiar. Castri and Vinara thought the voice was addressing them as members of House Lubar and told them to leave. They recognized Avor Firesworn as a proper name, but the context was unclear to them. Gwyn, having spent more time at study than the others, had a different interpretation..
“Be gone, servants of House Lubar. We harken to Avor Firesworn, who defends still this refuge and its tree.”
Not wanting to waste time or try and negotiate the group moved deeper into the chamber. The scraping sounds increased and flickering shadows at the edge of their torchlight could be seen. When they came to an intersection, the group split up, two going down each of the three passageways. As they rounded the corners, three ghostly figures appeared out of the walls. At the same time, pallid grey zombies emerged from the darkness, crawling on the ceilings and walls, dropping down and moving towards the group.
The fight was nearly too much for the group to handle. Castri was brutally attacked by one of the spirits and although Vinara lifted him to safety with her magic, the spirit continued to pursue him. A few volley’s from his bow took down the majority of the zombies, but eventually he was knocked unconscious by the cold claws of the ghosts. Kelvor and Morg engaged a second ghost and were unable to injure it before it could land several horrible wounds on Kelvor. Eventually they recovered from the numbing cold and were able to defeat their ghost, but Morg’s axe broke in the conflict, forcing him to rely on his handaxe instead.
Gwyn unleashed a fury of burning fire and lightning at the spirits, but they were more resilient to her magic then she expected. She was so focues that her staff and dagger were both consumed in her casting. Merric was able to toss her a dagger to use as a new implement during the fight. Merric’s own combat with the ghosts did not go well either, their claws easily piercing his flesh and chilling his soul. Vinara was able to call upon her primal magic and the spirits of the land to help ease the pain of her companions wounds.
Eventually the group was able to overcome the vengeful ghosts and their zombie minions. Their wounds were severe and Vinara’s companion, Bear, was overcome by one of the ghosts. Vinara was able to call back his spirit and restore him to life before they moved on further into the chamber.
The group limped along the central passageway for several hundred feet before it stopped descending and opened into a large natural cavern. A thick carpet of glowing moss covered the walls and floor. The air was cool and sweet with moisture and the smell of flowers. Pools of water could be seen in shallow depressions and the faint trickling of water down the walls could be heard.
The group explored the cavern quickly and found a second passageway out of the caver on the north side. While they explored, a clicking sound could be heard from the northern passageway. Soon, a thri-kreen with mottled brown, yellow and greed carapace emerged from the shadows and faced the party. More thri-kreen began to emerge from the tunnel, five in all. The group of insect-men were armed and outfitted as adventuring types. The one in front spoke in a clicking form of common, saying…
“Our clutch has come for the life-seed. Drop your pointed sticks and depart, or we consume your hind-limb meat.”
Castri reached for his bow, but the others calmed him down and attempted to negotiate. Gwyn addressed the thri-kreen telling them that they had been sent here to protect the tree. Vinara demonstrated that she was adept at nature magic which calmed some of their fears. They appeared to begin to trust the heroes when Gwyn demonstrated her preserving magic and they become much more agitated. The thri-kreen appeared to be on a mission recover a “life seed” and were willing to die to protect it.
Eventually a compromised was reached – the thri-kreen were convinced that Gwyn and the others were meant to help them reach the seed. The thri-kreen were insistent that they would take the seed back to help bring about a new time of growing for their land, called Ka-la-tak. With an uneasy truce made, both groups took a moment to rest before continuing to explore the caverns.