With the gibbering mouther not where we had expected it, and not visible in the darkness, I had to retreat without attempting to neutralize it’s magical powers. Luckily not all of our group had fallen to the creature’s unholy powers. I hurried back towards the group, swapping places with u-Heury. While the brave boy held off the creature, I called upon Denara, and silenced it’s gibbering. The creature failed to resist. Our first step was complete.
The second step, getting it actualy into the cage, proved harder. We gradually backed away, luring it closer to the room with the trap, pausing occasionally for u-Heury to detach himself from the mouths. While it feasted upon his flesh, we lured it southwards. The hired halfling hit it with a shot from his sling. Everythuing was going… if not smoothly, at least according to plan, until we actually dragged the creature into the room where the hirelings could see it. It latched onto one, poor Bilto, and sucked him dry in a few seconds. This caused almost all of the remaining mercenaries to flee, even Thomas the loyal torchbearing kid from Threshold.
Nevertheless, we still had a plan. I picked up u-Heury’s rope while the barbarian parkoured his way behind the mouther and the remaining mercenary picked up his end of the rope again. Together we heaved, and u-Heury hoed, and Stria swung at the thing with her daggers from the top of the cage, and we managed to stuff it in! Stria yelled the command word to close the cage, and… silence. She couldn’t speak. None of us could speak, we were all within 15’ of the mouther and my still-active spell preventing it from driving us mad.
I think at that point it realized we were trying to capture it, and tried to go north. The rope wasn’t enough to hold it, and the creature tore out of the cage.
I gestured frantically at Karva, the newest member of the Glorious Blades, a fledging mage who had expressed a desire to see a creature as strange and bizarre as a gibbering mouther in its natural or unnatural habitat. I wanted him to run out of the room, as far as necessary, and shout the command word for the cage once we managed to stuff it back in. It was absolutely vital that he stay out of the range of the silence spell so he could activate the cage. Instead, he cast a Light spell at the creature’s eyes, hoping to blind it. The spell made the creature glow, but didn’t seem to blind it at all. Perhaps it simply has too many eyes.
Meanwhile the thing was still attached to u-Heury, draining him slowly. The barbarian was tough, though. With the way north blocked, the creature shot 6 of its mouths directly at me! Not all of them latched on, but four did. With only one mouth I could have lasted nearly as long as the barbarian boy, perhaps. At least with Denara’s help. But with four draining me at once I had only moments to live. u-Huery was having no luck freeing himself. I smashed my shield down against the floor, trying to cut the tentacles off together, but the rubbery things were tough and held on. Stria was waving her daggers around and doing nothing, the hireling couldn’t hit it with his short sword either. All seemed lost…
Until u-Heury remembered his sword, coated in Stria’s expensive and potent paralysis poison. He drew, hand shaking on the hilt, slick with blood and terror, and swung. And missed. Somehow the blade caught on the cavern walls, so much closer in then we had been aware of, and bounced out of his hand. He scrunched up his face and closed his eyes, clearly wishing for something as hard as he had ever wished before. I muttered a prayer to Denara, an old one from my gambling days, and thought of how the creature represented great wealth to us all. “It’s time to toss the dice…”
And u-Huery’s bouncing, uncontrolled sword fell straight into one of the creature’s mouths. For many frozen moments it twitched, and shuddered… and then its mouths fell limp. The poison had worked. Hurriedly, knowing it would wear off, we stuffed the creature the rest of the way in, then sent the mage Karva to activate the cage from outside the effect of the silence spell. The trap closed. We had succeeded.
While I called upon Denara’s aid to restore my life forces, u-Heury claimed the ruby chalice from the altar. The chalice itself we know to be magical, though we will check again just to be sure the creature did not pull a bait and switch on us. Perhaps we can research it later on, and understand what it actually does.
We traveled with the captive creature, disguised by magic as a captive leopard, to the lands north of Kirkleston. We resisted many temptations. We avoided bringing the creature into towns proper, sending only one party member inside to buy rations. We will take this creature directly to the scholar who asked us to collect it, and collect in return our funds for doing so, and the return of the magical sword we left as collateral, along with the research into the sword’s function which he also owes to us upon completion of our bargain.
Oscar disappeared into the room with the altar. Next thing I know there are voices in my head. Screaming and talking and whispering and singing all at once. I couldn’t even move. Then, suddenly, the voices stopped. One of the hirelings was by the entrance and looked around sheepishly. The mage we picked up in Eastdale put his arms down, looking like he’d been about to attack another hireling with a dagger. Oscar was now in the room with us, with the gibbering mouther close behind, blessedly silent, and the kid … no, I can’t call him that anymore, can I? We have a new kid now, Thomas, the boy who came with us from Threshold for adventure and riches. Our young barbarian interposed himself between the gibbering mouther and Oscar. Only to get a tentacle mouth thing on him. I got on the box and laid down and shot my crossbow at the monster many times, to no avail. The halfling hireling got a lucky shot with his sling, but it didn’t do much damage.
The barbarian led it towards the box, pulling himself away from the mouths, until he no longer could. The mage cast light on the monster, but it didn’t blind it as he hoped. Not satisfied feasting on the barbarian, the monster latched onto the halfling, and killed him, sucking him dry even after death. Two of the hirelings and Thomas fled in terror. Oscar and the remaining hireling grabbed an end of the rope the barbarian had laid out, and pulled the monster into the box. I said the word to close the box. And nothing happened. The silence spell Oscar had cast on it extended past it.
The monster lurched out of the box, pulling the barbarian with him. I pulled out my magic daggers. I swear my relfection in the silver one winked at me. I attacked the monster, finding no purchase on it, but hoping I was distracting it and keeping it from moving north with the barbarian still attached. Then the monster latched onto Oscar. With way more mouths then we had been told it could attack with. He looked drained very quickly. Then the monster latched onto me. That brought up memories I’d rather forget. It was looking grim. We couldn’t hit it, and even if we did, did no damage. The mage waited outside the room, hoping to be able to say the word to close the cage if we managed to get it back in. It was looking like it would finish us off this time.
I yelled at the barbarian, asking if he put the paralyze poison on his blade. He pulled out his sword and swung, missing. My heart sank. He swung again, and hit. The monster went slack. We were all free. The barbarian pushed with his shield, and me and the hireling pulled with another rope, and we got the monster back into the box. The mage said the word, and the box closed. It glowed, and it now appeared we had caught a panther. I can’t believe it’s finally over. We got the bastard, after so many tries. The barbarian ran into the other room and got the chalice from the altar. We hightailed it out before something else could get us.
Found one of the hirelings and Thomas by the entrance. They looked repentant, so I let them live. Hamish won’t be so lucky. You don’t bail out on a valid contract in the middle of a fight and expect to still live afterwards. We did not go to Eastdale. We didn’t want any questions from the Ygg priests about our magic box or what it’s carrying. Stopped briefly by Kirkleston, but only the mage went in to pick up supplies. When we camped that night, he came into my tent to tell me there were wanted posters up with what looked like my picture on them. Oops. I thought Feverborne and I got off clean killing the last henchmen who fled. I guess someone saw us after all. Or those idiot peasants are smarter than they look and someone put two and two together. So, maybe I don’t kill Hamish. Maybe I let Oscar do his bureacratic nonesense and just ruin his chances of ever getting a contract again, or something boring like that. Or, I kill him and wear a disguise out in public for the rest of my life. Could be worth it.
It’s taking an obscenely long time to get to Threshold this time. We’re all a bit paranoid, and just want to get there and get our reward before something happens. Oscar and I practically jumped down our young barbarian’s throat for suggesting we stop at the barrow on his map on the way. I’m almost out of rations, and we still have several days ahead. Our barbarian isn’t having any luck hunting or foraging. I might have to resort to bargaining in order to eat.