We took a few days to heal. U-Huery provided some strange tea that helped a little. Despite going over what we had available, we weren’t inclined to sell anything else right away, and the mysterious elf Landon reappeared, eager to adventure. Perhaps his purse was as flat as mine. We chose to head to the Grotto, as it was close by and there were sections we hade not yet explored. The place to start was the altar room, now that Oscar had managed to remove the gibbering mouther from its position.
We made our way there, taking the northern route, and examined the room without the distraction of a hostile ooze. Halfway through the search, our torches went out for a moment and started to burn with purple flame. This coincided with the stench of rotten meat coming from a pit trap in the center of the room. I wrapped a sack around my nose and mouth hoping for protection from poison gas, and I was very thankful for the trogolodyte ring that protected my sense of smell.
The room held two statues to the south of the altar, and with proper lighting and time, I noticed one of them (the western one) had red liquid coating the floor behind it. Guessing after some examination that it was lubricating oil, I put my shoulder up against the statue and pushed it to the south. It moved, revealing a large stash of treasures wrapped in rough cloth. Jackpot! I don’t blame Oscar and his friends for capturing the mouther and bugging out without searching the room properly, I hear that was a mighty prize in itself, but I’m also very glad we four chose to return and clean up after them. My purse was in dire need of something to fill it. Indeed, I was within a few days of running out of food, after having spent the money to equip myself properly again.
The cache under the statue turned out to contain 6 platinum ingots with an impression of a birch tree surrounded by a diamond on them. By weight, 30pp each, or 300 gold. Not a bad haul. We each took one for ourselves, leaving two to be devided properly later. There was a silver ring with ivy engraving, on twine. Probably magical. A heavy shield of black metal, very heavy, possibly of orcish design. Likely also magical. Those items would need further investigation.
u-Heury kept insisting on trying to push the other statue, but it didn’t budge, and we were interrupted by three prism knights in funny glowing helmets. We ran. Why fight them?
We spent the night outzide, and went back into the grotto in the morning, though I voted for town instead. I could live for a good year on the haul from today, and I had had far too many close calls lately. I was about to have one more…
We chose to take the nearby stairs down. By our maps, it’s likely the area which so scared Landon earlier was almost directly under the altar room, and having defeated the mouther, it might be safer to explore down there. (It was not).
We found a short corridor with bronze urns in niches along the sides of the corridor. Noting that there were lids, I whispered to u-Heury to simultaneously approach the first pair of urns and put the lids back on firmly. (It didn’t work.)
Instead when we approached the urns, strange slug-like things crawled out and attacked. They had baby-like faces on slug bodies, with tentacles coming from their eye sockets. Three of them came right for me. I dropped the lid and drew my sword, slicing one in half. It exploded, covering me and u-Heury with acidic discharge. That set off alarm bells, as there were a total of four of them on us already and more on the way. u-Heury’s attack killed another, and it’s explosion took out the remaining two, but we were both covered in acid burns. Selaena, close behind us trying to get in a blow herself, cried out and fell unconscious as the acid hit her.
Knowing how absurdly healthy u-Heury was compared to either Selaena or I, and with Landon busy admiring a statue somewhere, I wasn’t going to stick around and get killed by acid splash. I sheathed my sword and picked up Selaena, carrying her out of danger from the splash, then went back to grab the torch she had been carrying. I could stay out of splash range but be close enough to help u-Heury if he needed it. He didn’t; eventually the last few babyface slugs fell to his blade, and we went back to the top of the stairs to rest.
Selaena came to after ten minutes or so, but she will likely have horrible scarring from the acid burns. I’m not exactly in great shape myself and u-Heury actually looks tired. I’m probably going to head back to town after I catch my breath, and if they decide to stay out here, I’ll send some other member of the Glorious Blades to join them. I need to spend some time focusing on my health, and maybe hiring some competent mercenaries to help retrieve my sword from the centaurs.
I spent my alone time wandering around the farmlands and talking to animals about possible dangers in the area. One cow was particularly forthcoming. It said that a companion had been eaten by giant frogs a few days ago, and it pointed out the direction the frogs came from. The giant frogs appear to be the only danger recently. I spent a few nights sleeping under hedges, as the Ygg folk around here are too stuck up to let a stranger work in return for sleeping in their hay lofts.
The men returned from the town with the supplies I’d asked for, and an elf who was itching for adventure. No hirelings. I’d prefer they spent the extra gold on hirelings rather than giving it back to me. I told them about the giant frogs, in the hopes of interesting them in killing the menaces, but they ignored me. They decided to go to something called the Incandescent Grotto, although Feverborne tried to convince the elf to go after some centaurs. It was in the same direction as the cow said the frogs came from, so it’s a start. The front of the grotto was a standard underground area, with a pool and possibly natural caverns with crystals. U-Heury said not to look at the crystals. Pretty glowing purple crystals, but he seemed adamant, so I didn’t look straight at them.
Beyond that cavern though … worked stone halls and rooms. With truly disturbing murals and statues of people dissolving into slime. This whole place needs to be destroyed. It’s … wrong. Unnatural. They knew exactly where they were going, some room they had been to before that was now safe since some monster had been captured. We arrived at double doors, black, with ten foot high statues of skeletons with swords on either side. U-Heury insisted on putting sacks over the heads of the statues. Over the doors was written: Final dissolution awaits those who plead. That’s not ominous at all. After an untold amount of time holding a torch for the men and standing guard while they searched for things they never found, we actually went through the doors.
There was more hallway on the other side of the doors. The torch promptly went out briefly and returned with a purple flame. Slightly creepy, although a nice color choice. The floor of the hallway on the other side had black tiles with screaming faces etched in them. Charming. The hallway opened into a room with a hole in the center, and beyond, a black altar flanked by two more skeleton statues. The altar also had screaming faces. I very much do not want to meet the people who worship here. Or what they sacrifice to. There was a great deal more standing around holding a torch while they searched the room. Feverborne eventually pushed one of the statues, and revealed a hidden compartment. There was a twisted black shield, that I graciously agreed to carry on my back, even though I didn’t want that thing touching me. There was a silver ring with ivy leaves that I would have happily offered to try on. There were six ingots of platinum with an engraving of a diamond with a birch tree on them. Feverborne returned to idiocy by asking me to talk to the trees on the ingots, because I’m a druid.
I was holding myself back from shoving his stupid ass into the smelly hole when three heavily armored knights with glowing helmets walked in from the way we’d come. The men fled through a secret passage between the statues, and I followed. They knew something about the knights I presume, but they didn’t say. We camped outside, and I was never so happy to be in the comforting embrace of nature after that horrible place. Feverborne wanted to go back to town, and for once, I was in agreement to go to town. Anything but back down in that nightmare place. Little did I know, the nightmare was only beginning. The elf and the teenage boy wanted to explore more. With a reluctant sigh, Feverborne and I agreed. After fruitlessly trying to push the other statue in the altar room, U-Heury led the way to a stairwell going down. At the bottom were copper urns that made … noises. Terrible squishing, crunching noises. The elf vanished. There’s a smart lad. Coward, but smart.
Feverborne and u-Heury tried to put the lids back on the two closest urns. Before they could do so, there was an ear piercing shriek and white things crawled out, like slugs but with the faces of babies. I prayed to my green lord that the cultists in this terrifying place weren’t twisting actual babies into their slime creatures. Further down the hallway, we could hear more noises and urns crashing over. More of the creatures. U-Heury stabbed one with his sword, and it died, but not before splashing all of us with acid. The acid from the first one killed two more, splashing us with more acid. Then, everything went dark.
When I came to, I was at the top of the stairs. My entire left side, from my arm up my face, burned from the acid. Feverborne looked worse for wear, and even u-Heury looked bad. They said all the creatures that came out of the dark were dead. I’m praying that they won’t insist on going back down looking for treasure. Not without hiring a whole lot more people to go down first. Even the claustrophobia of a city would be preferable to this cursed place.