Session 49: Slimed

The rest of the group rushed to action, as zombies surrounded Vernim and Brother Martin.

Lawrence, Dubricus, and Valeria moved towards the imminent threat, attacking with their magic from a distance. Lawrence accidentally hit Brother Martin with a fire bolt. Dubricus hit a zombie with a fire bolt. Valeria hit the same zombie with an eldritch blast. Jess and Philip dashed closer. Prynhawn hesitated until Jess shouted, "I'll watch over her!" and he put Third's body down and joined them. Brother Martin dashed through the zombies closing in on him. Yanliz stood by Third's body and sunk an arrow through a zombie's head, skewering it from temple to temple. The walking corpse began to topple to the side, but regained its footing. Zombies slashed at Vernim, most slamming against his shield, but one punched him in the face.

Jess backed up, closer to Third, and shot her shortbow, hitting a zombie. Lawrence moved up, changing targets, but this time accidentally hit Vernim with a fire bolt. Brother Martin tried to hit a nearby zombie with a guiding bolt, but missed, barely managing to avoid the blows of another. Dubricus threw a fire bolt, but missed. Prynhawn and Philip continued dashing towards the zombies as they swarmed around Vernim, who managed to fend off most of their onslaught. One zombie jumped on him from behind and bit into his shoulder, before he could shake it off. An arrow from Yanliz pierced through another's forehead, driving the zombie forward, but instead of falling, it raked at Vernim's face, before falling from a blow from his warhammer. Valeria hit another with an eldritch blast. Three more zombies were closing in on Brother Martin, as he tried to make his way closer to his companions.

Brother Martin hit the nearest zombie with inflict wounds, and it withered and collapsed. Jess hit another zombie with an arrow from her shortbow. Lawrence and Dubricus continued to move closer, both hitting zombies with their fire bolts. The one Dubricus hit erupted in flames and collapsed. Prynhawn cast searing smite and dropped a zombie with his flaming blade. Philip battered a zombie with his staff and a spinning kick. Yanliz sunk an arrow into another zombie's chest. Valeria, continuing to move closer, finished the same zombie with an eldritch blast. Vernim evaded half a dozen zombie attackers and dropped another zombie with his warhammer as the one he had just dropped rose from the ground, with the arrow still protruding from its forehead, as did the one Prynhawn had just dropped. Brother Martin blocked one zombie attack, but the other punched him in the neck.

Zombies fell from Yanliz and Jess' bow, as well as fire bolts from both Lawrence and Dubricus. Brother Martin swung futilely with his mace, while Prynhawn dropped another with his flaming sword. Philip dropped one with his staff and another with a kick before rolling away. Still moving up, Valeria dropped another with an eldritch blast. Vernim dropped another with his warhammer, but six that had just fallen rose again.

"If you all scatter, I can kill them all with thunderwave!" Dubricus shouted.

"Scatter!" Valeria ordered.

The risen zombies fell again from Yanliz and Jess' arrows and Valeria's eldritch blast. Dubricus prepared his spell and waited for his companions to clear the area. Philip dropped two more as he rolled away from the melee. Vernim dropped the last one with his warhammer, and they all quickly began smashing and slashing at the bodies before they could rise again.

"Damn!" Dubricus cursed as he stomped his feet and stormed off, returning to where Yanliz stood.

While Jess searched the bodies and retrieved arrows, Philip returned to Yanliz and Dubricus, where he had dropped his new darkwood staff.

"Hey," Philip addressed Dubricus, "great job. I didn't realize how hard that was going to be, for all of us, but we certainly did it."

"Yes, we did!" Dubricus agreed.

"I hope you're not too bummed out about not getting to use your spells..." Philip consoled. "As long as—"

"Nah," Dubricus brushed it aside, "that's okay."

"Great!" Philip agreed.

"We're all alive." Dubricus explained. "That's what matters. I just wanted to use the spell all day. You know, I haven't gotten a chance to use it yet. It's not like I can use it in the keep, but I'm positive I have this thing figured out."

"Oh, yeah!" Philip agreed. "I'm glad you made that call. I definitely agree with that."

Jess didn't find anything of value on any of the zombies, except one, who had six gold coins. It also had some cruddy papers in pockets that appeared to be some sort of inventory of bank notes.

They gathered their things, with Prynhawn carrying Third once more, and continued on to the keep.

During their walk, Philip approach Dubricus. "So you know, this staff we found, it seems really cool and all, and next time I'm thinking I might use it, but — I don't know if this applies to you, or if this is just me — I feel kind of bad."

"What do you feel about?" the wizard questioned.

"I mean like," Philip began, "it's really cool and all, and I'm very grateful, but I don't know...my old quarterstaff is really nice and I've had it for years. I got it when I went to the monastery and I've had it since then. It's just...like giving up the old for the new. I got to keep on going, but it's like a sad change in a way. I don't know."

"Well, on one hand, I guess I understand what you mean," Dubricus responded, clutching at his chest. "Sometimes there's things that are sentimental to us, but you know, acquiring treasure, that's what it's all about, isn't it? More powerful weapons. Vanquishing your enemies. Defeating evil. Everybody getting home safely. Isn't that what it's all about? We're adventurers. We're part of an elite class."

"I'm certainly trying my best," Philip replied.

"Maybe one day when you have monk students," Dubricus suggested, "you can pass your old staff down to them."

"That's a great idea!" Philip thanked. "I really like that."

"And you can tell your student how sentimental it was to you."

"Thank you," Philip said. "I think I will."

Down the road a bit, Vernim approached Dubricus. "Hey, Dubricus. How are you?"

"Hey Vernim. I'm good," the wizard replied. "It was a successful day...except for Third. That was tragic."

"I think we've definitely got to give Third's body to Abercrombie." Vernim went on, "I just want to say to you that I understand how it's upsetting sometimes when you don't cast spells that you've been working on really hard. I felt the same way as a cleric of Tymora. Just know that I'm sure that you're be able to cast it soon in the future and I'm glad we got lucky and we made it out safely this time."

"That's what matters," Dubricus agreed.

"Excellent... well," Vernim continued, "I appreciate as always that we're able to work as a cohesive unit and that we're able to work together as a team."

"Yeah," Dubricus agreed, "it's really cool. One day I think we're going to be so powerful. We could be legendary one day."

"With the best ideas," Vernim added. "Thanks to you."

"Thanks to you," Dubricus added.

"I'm very flattered," Vernim responded. "Thank you, Dubricus. That's very nice of you to say. But I mean you are our ideas man. You come up with the ideas and give us the tools for success."

"Hmm." Dubricus considered. "Well, I do what I can, but I guess we all do."

"That's exactly right," Vernim concurred. "We all do what we can."

"What do you think of Valeria as the leader of the party?" Dubricus asked.

"I think Valeria's a very strong leader," Vernim responded. "She's been able to get us this far. I wish she were a little more open to my ideas sometimes, but I think she's been doing a great job of leading us. What do you think?"

"I tend to agree," Dubricus answered. "Sometimes our first ideas are not the best ones, and I'm glad to have someone like Valeria run my ideas by...before I run off on my own."

"Exactly, she adds... it takes a certain kind of person to have that kind of leadership and I'm glad that Valeria possesses it."

"Agreed," Dubricus approved.

"Is there anything else you'd like to talk to me about?" Vernim masked.

"No," Dubricus replied. "Is there anything else you wanted to talk to me about?"

Vernim shook his head and they continued on their way to the keep.

As they made their way up the ramp to the keep, Dubricus muttered, "I hope there's still some food at the inn when we get there. It's late and I'm hungry."

As the gates opened and they entered, Sabine was there to greet them, as always.

She mourned the death of Third, but was grateful they survived, asking them about success venturing to the caves.

"We were hoping, starting in, that the Caves of Chaos would be a walk in the park for us, but it has shown its fearsomeness, with Opal, Aseneth, and now Third—"

"I don't know why you thought it would be a walk in the park," Sabine expressed. "Dozens of adventuring parties have died there. You're one of the only groups that's ever even returned."

"Let me rephrase my words," Vernim corrected. "We'd hoped...We were hoping that we'd all get out safely."

"I'm glad that you're having some success," Sabine congratulated. She confirmed to Vernim that she had still not seen any sign of Cob.

They all made their way to the chapel, when Jess said, "I'm going to get some food ready at the inn. I'll meet you there. Philip, do you want to join me?"

Philip agreed, and they split up.

The acolytes greeted them at the chapel and led them to where they could leave Third's body.

Abercrombie joined them, already in his night robes. "Another one has fallen to the forces of evil!"

"It is most regrettable," Vernim acknowledged.

"Tell me about your adventures," the chaplain urged them.

Valeria began to summarize their exploits.

"Tell me this warrior's death was not in vain!" Abercrombie sought.

"It was not," Vernim explained. "We defeated a foul beast, known as a troll, in a disgusting mud pit!"

"Then you're doing Helm's work!" the chaplain lauded.

"Third died with a pike in her hand," Vernim elaborated, dramatically, "fighting for and with us! She was a true warrior. And it's a shame that her luck was cut so tragically short."

As the others moved to depart, Vernim looked longingly towards where the bodies of the fallen were resting. Abercrombie invited him to stay a while, and pay his respects to Opal, who remained under his gentle repose with the others.

Vernim gladly agreed, and stayed behind while the others made their way to the inn.

They all ate quickly and went to sleep, hoping to get out as early as possible the next day.

When they gathered at the inn the next morning, Dubricus gave Vernim his repaired crossbow, and explained to Valeria and the others that he had a hard time sleeping the night before, and spent much of the night examining the papers they had retrieved from the Skeltar's lair, and that they appeared to be a careful study of human anatomy, particularly the skeleton, with notes on various procedures for strengthening bone. "I suspect that any necromancer, anatomist, or professional healer might find them of great interest."

Valeria suggested that he hold on to them.

Using one of the black pearls they found in the Zombire's chamber and his spell book, Dubricus cast identify multiple times, identifying that the red potion was indeed a potion of healing and the other a potion of invisibility, the piece of iron could be used to cast hold person when it touches someone, and the darkwood quarterstaff and arrows were all enchanted.

Vernim took the iron. Dubricus took the potions, and put his spellbook away.

They departed from the keep later than usual, and made it to the caves without incident.

They agreed to return to the kobold cave, hoping to find whoever carved the message about the dragon egg.

They looked around the cave and the nearby trees and could not find any signs of activity. Valeria and Vernim created light sources and they entered the cave. It appeared empty as they passed beyond the pit, noticing that the paper-mâché boulder had been smashed to the bottom of the pit. Traversing the pit, they saw that the kobold decoy appeared just as they had last seen it.

They made their way to the far north-east antechamber where they saw the floor to ceiling, vividly colored cave painting covering the wall, depicting a number of small creatures clearly meant to represent the kobolds. They seemed to be bowing and paying homage to a large creature, ten times their height, whose name, KURTULMAK, was chiseled beneath in crude runes. The drawing showed it seated on a great throne, holding a tiny figure, clearly meant to be a human aloft in one great paw preparing to swallow the unfortunate in one single bite while trampling another beneath its great feet.

They moved to the short corridor at the back of the room that led to a stone lintel holding huge double doors that filled the entire space between floor and ceiling, ten feet high and just as wide.

As Philip pushed on them, the double doors swung open easily. Beyond was a twenty by thirty foot room filled with dozens of kobolds standing shoulder to shoulder in neat ranks. Light from candles within glinted off their beady little eyes. Suddenly they give a great blood curdling yell and raised their spears and javelins in unison, preparing to throw the deadly missiles at Philip.

"Come on," Dubricus grunted. "I got this!"

"Wait for Dubricus!" Valeria directed.

Philip stood aside and Dubricus charged up the the first rank of kobolds, casting thunderwave. With a loud boom, the first three ranks of kobolds were blasted into pieces that splattered back into the retreating ranks behind them.

Only one kobold stood standing, off to the side of the chamber, and it quickly fell as Philip bonked it on the head with his darkwood staff.

Dubricus turned and paused to appreciate the results of his craft.

By the time the group made it to the rear of the chamber, the rear ranks of kobolds had already scrambled through their splattered companions and dove, in an efficient line, through a paper-mâché flap in the far right wall, disappearing into the darkness of the narrow tunnel beyond.

Valeria ripped the paper-mâché flap of the wall, and Yanliz peered inside, where he could see the creatures scrambling through the tunnel that was too small for any of them to follow. At Valeria's suggestion, Vernim cast light on one of the ranger's arrows, and he shot it into the tunnel. He heard a barking squeal as the last of the creatures, along with the light, disappeared into the darkness.

Looking around the empty chamber, Valeria quickly spotted a nearly invisible hidden door in the far north wall. Vernim eventually spotted it as well, and they saw that it was very similar to the one they had found in the Zombire's chamber, with no apparent way to open it.

Hammering on it, they could not scratch it. Valeria suggested that it must be protected by magic.

They decided to leave, and went to the far west chamber, where they had set the webs on fire. As they were traversing the pit again, Prynhawn fell to the bones below, but was only minimally scratched up. Jess dropped down one of her ropes and the others helped him up.

The blackened room that had previously been filled with webs was completely empty except for a thin coating of ashes.

They departed the kobold cave and agreed to return to the cave where a trickle of water dribbled out to form the little stream that flowed down through the valley. The cave gaped open like a wide mouth with an idiot grin. From within came no sound except the occasional “plop!” of dripping water. As they approached, their senses were assaulted by a horrible rotting stench from within.

Immediately inside the mouth, the cave became a tunnel leading to the right and left. Looking right, they saw it bend around a corner out of sight; the trickling stream comes from that direction. To the left, were several dark openings. A high-pitched squeaking came from directly over their heads, as they were assaulted by a dozen monstrously large mosquitoes.

Three of them darted towards Philip, who swatted two aside, while the third stabbed its long, needle-like proboscis into the halfling's shoulder and began to draw blood. Yanliz tried to hit one with an arrow, but missed. Shouting, "In the name of Tymora, hurt us no longer!" Vernim cast radiance of the dawn, and all the stirges, including the one in Philip's shoulder, exploded into harmless flashes of light.

Valeria suggested they go to the left, away from the stream.

"I would follow the stream," Vernim suggested.

"Why?" Valeria asked.

"Because.. I don't know." Vernim replied, and turning to the whole group, "What do you think? Don't you think following the stream is a good idea?" When no one replied, he continued, "Why don't we consult Lady Luck?" and he tossed his symbol of Tymora into the air. Catching it, he proclaimed, "We're going right! We're going right!"

"Why? Why?" Valeria challenged. "No. I don't care what Lady Luck says about which way we go."

"Let's start moving right," Vernim instructed. "Everyone, let's go."

"How about we go left, because—" Valeria began.

"Vernim," Prynhawn insisted, "stop."

"I would also like to go left," Yanliz said.

"But," Vernim stuttered, "Lady Luck..."

"We can go to the right," Prynhawn suggested, "but Lady Luck didn't say whether you should go to the right first."

"I flipped a coin!" Vernim insisted. "And I was saying, 'Lady Luck, tell us, should we go right or left?' and I—"

"Lady Luck doesn't care about you, Vernim." Valeria argued. "Lady Luck has thousands of—"

"Valeria!" Vernim cried, "That's so insensitive of you!"

"She may supply you with spells," Valeria maintained, "but that's—"

"Vernim, Vernim, in our defense," Brother Martin interjected, "Lady Luck is not the leader of our group."

"That's true," Vernim conceded, "but even so, Lady Luck is watching over us all."

"Yeah, but she's not specifically giving you directions," Valeria argued, "which you can interpret whichever way you want!"

"Yes she is!" Vernim maintained. "That's what Lady Luck does!"

Philip buried his head in his hands.

"Vernim," Prynhawn called, "Vernim, we can go to the right, after we go to the left. Do you think that will satisfy Lady Luck?"

"Fine!" Vernim stomped his foot. "We'll do whatever you want to do. But if something bad happens to us..." He stomped again.

With the smell all around them, they proceeded to the left.

They soon came to a side chamber to the right, which seemed filled with a riot of fungus — mushrooms, toadstools, mosses, lichen, and more. The back part of the room was shielded from their view by a rough projection in the wall, forming a kind of alcove.

Yanliz suggested they stick to the left wall. Valeria agreed and they continued on without entering.

Just a short distance ahead, the tunnel split to the left and right.

The tunnel chamber to the left looked like a veritable garden of fungus, with mushrooms and toadstools taller than Philip rising from the mossy floor. There seemed to be a path through the mushrooms, leading to a low dark passage on the right near the back of the room.

The chamber to the right, unlike the other chambers in this cave, seemed clear of fungus, with only bare walls extending to to the right and left.

They entered the barren chamber to the right, and began searching the area, splitting off to the right and left.

Valeria mentioned that it was getting late, and soon it would be dark before they returned to the keep.

"What's wrong with the dark?" Yanliz hinted, guarding the entrance to the chamber. "I think we should keep going."

Dubricus agreed that they should at least try to finish exploring this cave.

As Philip was searching he was enveloped by icky wetness, and cried out as a patch of green slime dropped down on top of him and began oozing acid.

As Valeria turned her attention to her companion's cry, an amorphous, nearly invisible, clear blob protruded out from the tunnel beyond her, and grabbed her, trying to pull her into the large, clear gelatinous mass that began approaching her. Acid burned her as she squirmed from its grasp and moved away from it.

Vernim tried to cast cure wounds on Philip, but was hindered by the green slime that tried to reach out for him. Prynhawn drew his sword and carved into a corner of the gelatinous cube, but the mass rejoined as his blade slid through it. Yanliz sunk two arrows into the cube. The rest of the group was too surprised to act.

Mostly blind, Philip fled the cave in panic, while the slime continued to burn him. Valeria retreated to the chamber's entrance. Vernim, Jess, Brother Martin, Prynhawn, and Yanliz dashed off after Philip. Dubricus and Lawrence nervously withdrew as they cast burning hands at the gelatinous cube, which continued to slowly advance towards them and the chamber entrance.
Outside the cave, Philip began rolling on the ground, screaming as he tried to scrape the slime off of him. Vernim was able to grab Philip's foot and heal him with cure wounds, and told Jess to get Dubricus. Valeria hit the cube with an eldritch blast. Jess moved to the cave entrance and called out for Dubricus to help as she sunk an arrow into the cube. Dubricus moved to the cave entrance, and seeing Philip's predicament cast burning hands on the slimed halfling. The flames burned Philip, as the slime turned into a blackened crust that fell off of him. Brother Martin cast cure wounds on Philip. Lawrence cast scorching ray, burning large holes in the gelatinous cube.

Valeria hit the cube with another eldritch blast. Jess sunk another arrow into it. Dubricus stepped up close to it, and destroyed it with another burning hands, and melted it into a puddle of goo.

Philip noticed that his old staff, along with his pack and clothing, were destroyed by the slime. Fortunately, his new staff and the contents of his pack were unharmed.

"Oh Philip," Vernim consoled. "I'm so sorry. I know we were just talking about a lot of things. I'm so sorry. I understand you can't replace some things."

Valeria suggested they go back to the source of the stream, where Vernim had originally suggested.

"Well, Lady Luck said to go right," Vernim chided, "and we went left, and if that's not an act of Lady Luck, I don't know what is."

"Well, there's probably monsters all over this place," Dubricus suggested. "I have an idea! Let's not eat any mushrooms, at least not until we're in the safe confines of the keep."

Everyone agreed to head towards the source of the stream.

As they passed the cave entrance and followed the stream, the passageway got wetter the farther they advanced. By the time they turned the corner, they were sloshing through several inches of water. Ahead they saw a pool of completely opaque, gray water, with dissolved mud and sludge, that seemed to bubble slightly as if a hidden spring were welling up from below. Lichens clung to the walls, and the roof was thick with hanging mosses. From time to time, a drop of condensation fell in the pool with an audible "plop!" A narrow ledge encircled the pool, but it was submerged under an inch or two of the murky water. The room was slightly warmer than the passage, and a foul brimstone smell filled the air.

Despite the water's murky appearance, they each privately had the sensation that the water was clean.

From out of the bubbly water, two large tentacles emerged, each with barbed ridges along their edges. They swung down towards Dubricus and Prynhawn. Vernim interposed himself in front of Dubricus, and smacked one of the tentacles with his warhammer. Philip tried to strike the other, but missed. The tentacles slammed harmlessly against Prynhawn and Vernim's shields. Everyone else was too surprised to act.

Valeria hit one of the tentacles with an eldritch blast. Jess withdrew twenty feet back into the tunnel, by Yanliz, and they both missed with their bows. Vernim smacked it again with his warhammer. Dubricus also withdrew, and he hit it with a fire bolt. Philip bashed a tentacle with his staff, and followed up with an ax kick. Lawrence also withdrew, casting scorching ray, but only hit a tentacle with one ray. Brother Martin created a floating spear with spiritual weapon, and hit a tentacle with inflict wounds. One of the tentacles clubbed Philip and squeezed its barbs into him, but the halfling was too nimble, and escaped its clutches. The other tentacle clubbed Brother Martin, and as it squeezed its barbs into him, it began to lift him into the air. Prynhawn quickly sheathed his sword and grabbed Brother Martin, yanking him out of the spiky barbs.

Valeria cast cure wounds on Philip. Yanliz withdrew and sunk and arrow into a tentacle, as did Jess. Vernim slammed a tentacle with his warhammer. Dubricus and Lawrence each hit a tentacle fire bolts. Philip smacked a tentacle with his staff. Brother Martin withdrew and missed the tentacle with a guiding bolt, but hit it with his spiritual weapon. The tentacle withdrew back under the water's depths.

"We should retreat," Yanliz suggested, "out of the cave."

"Are you kidding?" Dubricus argued, "We have it on the run. We have to finish it off."

"Remember the troll?" Yanliz hinted.

"Then let's attack it from a distance!" Dubricus insisted. "If only I had prepared witch bolt!"

"I have witch bolt!" Lawrence replied.

Everyone waited for the tentacles to reemerge, except Lawrence, who cast witch bolt into the creature in the water, and brother Martin, who stabbed into the water with his spiritual weapon and hit it with a guiding bolt.

They all continued to wait, as the beam of crackling, blue lightning energy arced from Lawrence into the water. They all felt that the creature was in pain. Then, the two thorny tentacles emerged from the surface of the water, followed by a third tentacle with what appeared to be a pair of eyes.

Propelled by three shuffling elephantine legs, a large, bloated, oval-shaped mass of rock-like hide with a roaring, massive fang-filled mouth, shaped like a crude gash through its center, leaped out of the water and towards the group!
It swiped its tentacles at Lawrence and Vernim, who both managed to avoid the strikes. Then it bit down on Philip with its massive fangs, and oozed its hot breath over the halfling.

Valeria hit the aberration with an eldritch blast. Jess sunk an arrow into it, but Yanliz missed. Vernim smashed it with his warhammer. Dubricus hit it with a fire bolt. Philip whacked it with his staff. Lawrence continued to electrify it with his witch bolt.

Bloody, the otyugh leg's crumpled as it let out a final whine and it slid back down, literally dead in the water.

Brother Martin used his preserve life, mainly on Philip, and a little on himself. Despite the healing, Philip still didn't feel himself.

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