After the strange set of circumstances that led to the surviving ogre being dropped off the edge of the dam, the bravely trepidatious party focused its attention on a wooden crate.
Perhaps they should not be blamed for their inordinate fear of a simple container. Having suffered damage from other simple things like pictures and bookends, they might be justifiably wary of a box, laying as it was, near the still warm remains of monstrous humanoids.
Approaching carefully, the most deft of the group examined and opened the crate, revealing a padded interior containing four nondescript jars. The most knowledgeable of the little band determined that the contents were very explosive and possibly unstable.
With this declaration, most of the group was instantly determined to dispose of the bombs quickly and carefully, to ensure that the dam would not be damaged any further. Various plans were offered, some more tenuous than others.
They decided that a magical solution would offer the least chance for disaster, and all spellcasters took a quick inventory of their current magical abilities. Deg the Half-Wit had the most resources. A combination of his spells seemed to provide the best way to drop the crate to destruction, at a safe distance from both the party and the dam.
While the most prudent of them stood at a good distance, Bleddyn directed a strangely compliant Deg the Half-Wit, on what spells to use and how to use them. Sanya and Groot, wary of this unnatural place, had retreated off the dam completely.
The Half-Wit cast Unseen Servant as the Ranger directed, and the magical force lifted the crate. He then cast Dimension Door and caused the force to enter it. The crate appeared on the wrong side of the dam, far out over the lake. Since the Unseen Servant was far beyond Deg the Half-Wit’s magical control, it dispelled instantly, dropping the wooden box harmlessly into the middle of the water.
Swearing under his breath about the incompetency of mongrel humans, Calmar Arundel rushed across the dam, trying to determine if the crate had sunk or was floating in the choppy water. “It seems that they aren’t as unstable as we thought. Maybe we could have used them in combat after all,” he said, running ahead of the group.
Half way across the dam, Calmar Arundel’s way was blocked by the skull studded control building. He still could not see the crate. “If it sinks, we should be alright,” he called back. “If it floats with the run off over the damaged part of the dam, or bumps against it some other way, we could be in major trouble.”
Calmar Arundel watched for the crate while the party caught up with him. There was no way of seeing it from this side. “We have to get to the other side,” he said coldly, as the companions started to investigate the building. Deg the Half-Wit had gone back to where Sanya and Groot stood. Calmar Arundel surmised that Deg was feeling guilty for listening to Bleddyn and making such an odd mistake.
There were two sets of double doors, one set previously bashed in, but now reinforced. There were three arrow slits in the shape of skulls. These were narrow, but one could probably pass through, slowly, with care. These seemed very problematic. Getting in with any equipment would be a pain. The first one in could easily be trapped and hard to assist.
As Bleddyn struggled to enter the window while still carrying his equipment, the rest of the party studied the damaged doors more closely. They had been broken by an attack, but were now braced. Upon testing, the barricade did not appear to be very strong.
Calmar Arundel’s first urge was to knock on the gates. If the ogres had failed in an attack on the building, he surmised, there could still be potential allies inside. Everything seemed too quiet though. Surely any occupants would have noticed the battle outside.
Bleddyn had been inside the building for a short time, but had not communicated much of anything to the rest of the group. All that they knew was that it was dark and ruined.
Deciding that finding allies was doubtful, Calmar Arundel tried the doors again, this time with some force. He thought, If there are friends, good! If there are hostiles, Bleddyn will be trapped inside, alone with them.
The doors gave way a little. With another try, and more help, Calmar Arundel, Anna Sabel, and Vriska Serket managed to get the doors open enough to pass through. Looking back before entering, Calmar Arundel thought he saw Bleddyn struggling to get back out of the window.
Placing a Light spell on his spear tip, Calmar Arundel entered the gloom with Anna Sabel close behind. He tried to adjust his eyes to the darkness while slowly stepping away from the door. Everything was wet. There was destruction, refuse, pieces of ogre bodies, and hanging plants. The walls were curiously worked.
As Calmar Arundel examined the wall next to the door more closely, it started to move. Hiding there, pressed against the wall, motionless, was a large troll. It looked more like a dragon, or a fierce lizard, except it stood erect on two legs.
With uncharacteristic agility, Anna Sabel leaped back against the far entry wall, and then deeper into the room. Calmar Arundel followed her immediately, trying to clear the way through the open door for the rest of the party. Deciding that a burning scimitar was better for fighting a troll than a lit up spear, Calmar Arundel dropped it at the troll’s feet and pulled out his blade, imbuing it with magic that made it burn like a torch.
As the troll untangled itself from the vines, and another one left his place against a far wall, the fight began. Vriska Serket danced through the doorway, spinning and whirling, and placed a long cut down the troll’s arm with her burning blade. Vriska Serket gasped and Calmar Arundel winced as they saw the fresh wound, including the charred burn, immediately start healing.
Realizing that his own flaming blade would not stop the troll’s regeneration, that he should have enchanted it a different way, Calmar Arundel rushed forward. Pumping more arcane power into his weapon, he cut deeply into the troll’s leg, but not as deeply as he had hoped.
All three of them were fighting the monster now, with Aarohn Sharaghon launching stones through the doorway. Anna Sabel was trying to avoid a crazy animated vine that was attacking from the corner. Bleddyn ran out of the other room with a shout, a third troll right behind him.
The trolls were strong. They did a lot of damage, bashing Vriska Serket and crushing Bleddyn who was now standing in the middle of all three of them, growling like a rabid bear. Bleddyn screamed, “We have to get out of here.” The Ranger concentrated his attacks on the troll that stood between him and the open door. Calmar Arundel tried shocking that one with a strong electrical spell, but could not tell if its effect was more damaging than the fire had been. The situation did appear dire. But suddenly, the troll facing Calmar Arundel toppled over.
When the first one fell, Calmar Arundel was not sure that it would stay down, being a troll. But there was no time to stop and figure things out. As he started preparing a fire spell to damage the vine, Vriska Serket dashed out ahead of him and cut it to ribbons, or splinters, or whatever. It resisted the fire, but not the blade. All his choices seemed to be wrong in this battle, Calmar Arundel thought, as he rushed through the new opening where the vine had been, circling around behind the next troll, trying to flank him.
Bleddyn had taken too many wounds, and with the way clear, started to retreat towards the door. The second troll followed him, which ruined Calmar Arundel’s positioning. Instead he had to charge right in, swinging wildly without the spell preparation he would normally use to increase his attacks and damage. But still, the troll was now in the middle, taking damage from the whole party, as Bleddyn turned to fight him off. The second troll quickly fell on top of his immobile companion.
Vriska Serket leaped to the spot where Bleddyn had recently been. She was in the doorway fighting the last troll before it could enter the main room. Calmar Arundel tried to circle around again. The trolls had such long reach, he wanted to close the distance without giving them a chance to hit him. He failed. With a quick swing around the doorway, the troll almost knocked him down with a blow to the shoulder.
As Anna Sabel healed Bleddyn, the two warriors with flaming blades fought the troll to a standstill in the doorway; one dancing and whirling, the other dodging and trying to cast a spell.
The rest of the party rushed up to the door, Bleddyn having received some quick healing from Anna Sabel. With the full force of the group brought to bear, it was over almost instantly.
“We have to check these trolls, I fear that they will regenerate”, shouted Calmar Arundel, as he rushed to where the first one lay. Party members started randomly stabbing the troll bodies. They did seem to be healing. Calmar Arundel tried spells of acid and cold on a still form. He couldn’t tell what effects the cold had, but the acid burns started to heal. “They are still alive,” he called out. Now the group began frantically chopping at the corpses. Calmar Arundel had only ever heard of using fire or acid to keep a troll dead. Without a major spell to help them, he loudly questioned what they should do.
Aarohn Sharaghon suddenly called out, “Something has happened. Mine isn’t healing anymore.”
Calmar Arundel trotted over. It was true. The other two trolls were no longer healing. They quickly hacked up the remaining one, until it also stopped regenerating. With a note of finality, the magic flame on Calmar Arundel’s scimitar sputtered out. Its been only one minute, he thought.
After a short rest the search began. Everyone was checking the bodies and the two rooms. The trolls had made nests. They were wearing magic rings and amulets. They had special metal claws attached to their hands. Everything else was just ruins.
With the few things of value stowed away, the door to the last room was opened. It was gloomy, wet, and had lots of hanging plants. Empty, Calmar Arundel thought, as he started to walk away.
“Wait!” Aarohn Sharaghon urged. “Something is moving near the far wall!”
The party clustered around the doorway as Aarohn Sharaghon launched a stone towards the moving thing. It hit hard and the thing seemed to collapse against the wall. Calmar Arundel threw a glowing pebble on the floor near it. The dim light revealed a humanoid figure slumped in the vines.
Everyone rushed into room. The surrounded creature moaned in pain. It was badly wounded. One of its legs had been savagely gnawed. Its clothes were nearly shredded. They freed it from the vines. It turned over, revealing the face of a Half-Orc. Calmar Arundel grumbled, almost suggesting that they put it out of its misery.
It could speak. It responded to questions, telling a tale of an ambushed group of travelers, and how the trolls were planning to eat him for dinner. His name was Scath. He was very slim and seemed quick for a Half-Orc. He wondered aloud about his companions and his belongings.
As Anna Sabel started to heal Scath, Calmar Arundel wandered out of the room, having mixed feelings. Aarohn Sharaghon and Vriska Serket soon joined him. They decided to open the two remaining doors and do a little exploring to get their bearings. Surely, if any other enemies were nearby, they would have joined in the recent battle.
The hallways to the other sets of gates were clear. Aarohn Sharaghon insisted on checking one of those portals for traps. As they went to open the next set of doors, Bleddyn also left the prisoner’s room, and started searching the room where the trolls had their nests. Two more rooms were deserted and were choked with vines. The last room, however, had a large set of double doors with a phrase written on them in blood. When Aarohn Sharaghon had studied them, he revealed that the writing was in the giant tongue, and announced that a being with a scary sounding name lay asleep down beneath.
With caution now back to the forefront of their minds, the trio retraced their steps to the rest of the party. Bleddyn had found a hidden cache in the troll’s room that contained Scath’s gear. He was doing much better now, talking with more energy and less despair.
After a short rest, the companions decided to open the last doors and explore where ever the passage led. The doors seemed stuck, but somehow with the Halfling’s help, they were pushed apart!
Beyond the doors, stairs descended many levels. Deep, deep inside the dam, another portal opened out into a large room with a massive pond of slime built into the center. This daunting feature stopped the party cold for a while. The most stealthy among them began to enter the room, one by one. They started to sneak around both sides of the pool. Then, the Cleric entered.
“Something is moving in the water!” the rogue called out. Everyone froze.
Calmar Arundel threw a pebble into the slime pool. Nothing happened. Bleddyn and the Magus threw glowing stones into the pool. Still nothing. Calmar Arundel fired a magical ray of cold at the slime. A small part of it froze and sank. He fired magical acid. The effected slime instantly grew larger. Anna fired a burst of fire into it. The slime grew with that too. With increased worry, everyone had by now seen some movement under the surface. Bleddyn and Calmar Arundel tossed glowing stone after stone into the wet mass, trying to determine what was in there.
Suddenly, a huge, reptilian troll, larger than those encountered previously, erupted from the far end of the pool. It made a loud noise like a hiss or a growl and started to speak in a low, alien voice. It mumbled many words and then paused showing a wicked, toothy grin. He held a massive, strange, troll weapon.
Aarohn Sharaghon, half way long one of the side walls by this time, called out that it spoke in the giant language and that it wanted to speak to our best riddler.
Again the party paused, having heard many strange tails about the fate of those who fail in riddle contests with powerful monsters. But, Vriska Serket, having a clever riddle come to mind, decided to march around the pool and declare herself as the best in this endeavor. Guessing that this whole thing would not turn out well, Calmar Arundel and a couple others prepared to launch attacks the moment that anything went awry.
The beast spoke again, with Aarohn Sharaghon translating in his squeaky, high voice. It roared that it hated all riddlers. It swung its weapon, hitting Vriska Serket with a mighty blow that pierced her shoulder.
Calmar Arundel loosed his last two Shocking Burst arrows which lodged in the troll’s back. Anna blasted at it with a beam of intense light. Others followed suit. As the thing battered at Vriska Serket, and Aarohn Sharaghon crawled up the wall and along the ceiling, Scath unleashed an impossible barrage of arrows. Everyone moved in, firing more arrows, a spell of fire, and finally trying to close with melee weapons. Vriska Serket, despite her wounds, had managed to disarm the beast. After that, it was easily killed.
After another breather, it was time to examine the slime. After a few tests, it was discovered that the it was benign. Bleddyn marched into the pool, and managed with a little help to pull out the troll’s body. The party hacked at the corpse until they were sure that it was dead.
Again it was searching time. The room and the body yielded little or nothing. Aarohn Sharaghon tried to open the barricaded, large doors at the end of the chamber while clinging from the ceiling. He failed, and fell on the skulls that lay before the door, receiving some injury. The doors to the right of the chamber revealed another slime pool. Bleddyn decided to search around in the pools, eventually finding an underwater passage between them, and another heading toward the left wall of the main chamber. By now, a somewhat recovered Aarohn Sharaghon had opened one of the doors on the left side. There was another pool room there.
Aarohn Sharaghon called to Anna Sabel to stop sketching and studying the main room, and check out what he had found. She hurried inside, to find a strange alcove, with odd, skull shaped mechanisms, and a set of stairs going down into the pool.
As Anna Sabel entered the alcove, there was a clicking sound. She spun around. Aarohn Sharaghon looked up in amazement. A large, constructed scorpion descended upon her, snapping with its claws and striking with its tail. It quickly caught her in its grasp, holding her almost immobile, and started to squeeze, attempting to remove her head.
Aarohn Sharaghon stammered for a moment, and then managed to shout, “Anna is dying!”
Vriska Serket and Calmar Arundel rushed into the room. Aarohn Sharaghon was launching missiles at the scaly monstrosity. Calmar Arundel fired a cold ray as he moved around the pool to help Anna Sabel. Vriska Serket leaped straight into the pool to close with the creature directly.
Bleddyn and Scath had been diving in the far pool. Bleddyn had found an underwater door and a lever. Both were trying to operate it. Somehow, they managed to do this while wearing full armor and equipment. They heard the shouting and scrambled to find the rest of the party.
Upon entering the room, they saw a grim battle. Aarohn Sharaghon was scampering around, trying to hit the beast with his sling staff. The scorpion, while still holding Anna Sabel, was striking at Vriska Serket with claw and poisonous stinger. Vriska Serket, somewhat hampered by fighting in water, was taking a lot of damage and had been stung multiple times. Calmar Arundel had managed to arrive at Anna Sabel’s side, hacking at the creature fiercely. Anna Sabel could move only enough to touch her holy symbol. She was channeling all her spells into waves of healing that engulfed the room.
The scorpion, not being a living thing, could not be healed. It was constantly crushing Anna Sabel, but she kept up the healing channel, barely saving herself.
Bleddyn dove into the pool, coming up next to Vriska Serket, slashing with his new, metal claws. Scath unleashed a hail of arrows.
The automaton continued lashing about and squeezing Anna Sabel. She had used up most of her power. None of the party’s blows seemed to do very much damage. Vriska Serket, struck by the poison stinger again, was approaching death himself. Only Anna Sabel’s healing was keeping them both alive.
Calmar Arundel had already noticed how the thing was resisting physical damage, even his arcane powered blade was hardly scratching it. He tried to yell out what was happening, but everyone seemed slow to understand. He risked casting his favorite electrical spell while still engaged. He managed to get it cast, and delivered it with loud crackle as some of the construct’s exoskeleton was blown off. His blade had done little, but the shock took full effect.
Pouring bit after bit of his arcane reserve into his weapon and spell, Calmar Arundel cleared his mind and then flooded it with power that he could rarely use or control. He risked his favored spell again, the last casting of it that he had today. He managed to complete it! But as he tried to deliver it with his scimitar, the blade was knocked skittering across the carapace. “NO!” He gasped. “I can’t lose it now.”
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The blade slid along the shell. The others were battering the scorpion from the pool. It was closing its claw closer and closer around Anna Sabel’s neck. And then, the tip of the scimitar reached a damaged section of shell. A chunk was torn or battered away right there. With a lunging thrust, Calmar Arundel flicked his wrist and guided the tip inside hole just enough to touch the beast where it had no armor.
There was a tremendous jolt and a bright white flash. Everyone in the pool or touching the beast shuddered with the shock. All of the scorpion’s extremities shot straight out, as it flew backwards down into the water. There was a strong, acrid, burning smell. The thing twitched a moment in the slimy water and then lay still.
After another rest and some healing, the party examined the controls for the dam. It was determined that everything was in good working order, except the enabling link that gave them power to operate had been blocked or broken. This power source, for lack of a better term, resided beyond the large doors, barricaded by skulls. The doors that Aarohn Sharaghon had tried to open. The embattled company slowly walked into the next room, and stared at the skulls and up at the great doors.