Session 50: Rats!

Caves of Chaos Session 50
With the tentacled aberration dead, the impressions of clean water and pain the group had felt disappeared.

"Thanks for the healing, Brother Martin," Philip whined, "but I still don't feel so great. It's weird. I've never felt like this before. I feel like the blood in my veins hurts."

After some discussion, Prynhawn used his lay on hands to heal him further, and neutralized the poison within him.

Yanliz suggested they search around the pool, but Valeria was concerned that they might slip into the pool, though they noted that it was no longer bubbling.

"There might be treasure in the pool!" Dubricus advised. "Didn't we find treasure in the troll's pit?"

"We don't know how deep this pool is," Yanliz warned.

"I have some rope!" Jess suggested.

"You could measure it," Prynhawn considered.

"I have an idea!" Dubricus announced. "Two actually. One is that we could tie the rope to a rock to see how deep the pool is. My other idea is that if we are going to search this pool, and the room, we should do it after we finish exploring the rest of this cave."

Valeria and the others agreed.

Venturing south, Yanliz warned that the fungus could be poisonous.

Dubricus suggested burning the fungus, but Yanliz thought that might spread poisonous spores into the air. Prynhawn suggested they could come back tomorrow.

Ultimately, Brother Martin cast detect poison and disease and peered into the fungus filled cavern to the west, but found no sign of poison. The back part of the room was shielded from his view by a rough projection in the wall, but he did not step into the fungal growths covering the cave floor.

With Prynhawn following him, Brother Martin then peered into the cavern to the south. Though much of the fungus here grew much taller, there was a path leading through the mushrooms to a low dark passage on the right near the back of the room. Seeing no sign of poison, they slowly followed the path.

mushrooms in the Caves of Chaos
Suddenly they were assaulted by the deafening shrieks that erupted from blowholes in three of the larger violet mushrooms.

"Guys, all they do is shriek!" Yanliz advised. "Just chop them down and they'll stop."

Yanliz sunk an arrow into the farthest of them. Brother Martin smashed his mace into the nearest, and Vernim hit it as well with his warhammer. Philip rolled past the clerics, and knocked the cap clean off middle mushroom's stalk with one swing from his staff. Then he leaped at the farthest one with a kick, missing it at first, but catching it with an ax kick. Jess knocked its cap off with an arrow. Valeria tried to hit the nearest one with an eldritch blast, but accidentally scratched Brother Martin as he knocked aside one of the many tentacles that had suddenly erupted from four other large mushrooms. Dubricus hit the violet fungi with a fire bolt. Two other violet fungi attacked Philip, each with two tentacles. The halfling evaded all but one, and felt a bit of life drain from him at its touch. Lawrence reached forward with burning hands, destroying the closest violet fungi and singing the one behind it. The farthest of the tentacled fungi lashed out at Lawrence with three tentacles, draining him with one, but missing with the others. Prynhawn hacked at it with his sword. Only one of the shriekers continued to wail.

Yanliz his arrow deep into the violet fungi that had attacked Philip. Brother Martin stepped forward and smashed it to pieces with his mace. Vernim hit the nearest with his warhammer. Philip silenced the last shrieker with a kick, and swung his staff over the nearest violet fungi and recovered to stab its stalk with his staff. Jess hit the same fungi with an arrow, and its tentacles fell, motionless. The farthest fungi also fell after Valeria hit it with an eldritch blast, and Dubricus and Lawrence both hit it with fire bolts. Prynhawn looked around at the wrecked mushroom caps and stalks.

giant rats in the Caves of Chaos
Suddenly, dog-sized rats appeared all around them, attacking them from under the fungal growth. Yanliz skewered the closest rat with an arrow. Brother Martin withdrew from the path and held his mace ready. Four rats surprised Philip, two of them biting into him. Three more surprised Prynhawn, two biting into his legs, and a third jumped onto his back and bit his neck. "Tymora, guide me!" Vernim cried as he swung his warhammer, knocking the rat off Prynhawn's back and it sending it crashing, lifeless to the floor. The rat on Philip's neck was skewered with an arrow from Jess' bow. Four more rats surrounded Vernim, two of them managing to bite him. "Maybe we should get out of here!" Valeria cried in shock.

Yanliz cast hunter's mark and skewered another rat. Brother Martin swung his mace at the nearest rat, but missed, just managing to avoid its bite. Two rats bit into Prynhawn again. Philip evaded two rats, kicking one, and missing the other with his staff. Vernim healed Prynhawn with cure wounds and announced, "I'm all out of spells, and we have no more healing left!" Jess skewered one of the vermin attacking Vernim, but three others remained and one bit the cleric again. Dubricus tried to hit it with a fire bolt, but missed. Valeria cast healing word on Philip. Lawrence cast green-flame blade, but missed a rat attacking Prynhawn. Prynhawn then cast searing smite and cut it in half with his sword.

Yanliz stuck an arrow into the nearest rat's head, but it kept attacking, undeterred by the arrow sticking through its skull! Brother Martin hit the same one with his mace, but it was similarly unphased, almost biting the cleric. Philip evaded the two rats engaging him, missing one with a kick, but launching the other with his staff across the cavern where it crashed, motionless into the wall and slid to the floor. Jess sunk an arrow into the other. Vernim smashed his warhammer into one of the three rats surrounding him, avoiding all of their bites. Lawrence hit another with his staff and green-flame jumped from it to the one Vernim had hit. The rat with Yanliz's arrow in its skull squealed as Valeria hit it with an eldritch blast. It squealed more as Dubricus' fire bolt singed its greasy fur. Prynhawn parried the last rat attacking him, and decapitated it with his flaming blade.

Ignoring the marked rat closest to him, Yanliz skewered one of Vernim's attackers. Brother Martin hit the nearby one again, but it continued to ignore his strikes, as it lunged at him, only to be batted aside by Prynhawn's shield. Philip danced around with the last rodent attacking him, until Jess skewered it with an arrow. Vernim crushed the last nearby rat with his warhammer.

The last rat fought on, ignoring the arrow protruding from its skull, as well as many of the blows inflicted on it, including Vernim's warhammer. "I can't even hurt it. I'm totally useless!" the priest of Tymora cried. Valeria tried to hit it with an eldritch blast, but missed. Dubricus barely caught its tail with a fire bolt. Lawrence missed it with a witch bolt. Prynhawn sliced into its hide with his searing blade, and it squealed in agony as it bit the half-orc in return. Yanliz tried to hit it with one of his darkwood arrows, but missed. Philip ran up behind it and skewered its head into the ground with his enchanted darkwood staff until it was still.

Suddenly, its fur began to writhe and it slowly transformed, elongating as its fur receded into its skin, into a short, scrawny man with a thin, weaselly face.

As Yanliz searched for his arrows, he noticed that there was a low dark passage near the back of the room, off to the right.

Meanwhile, Jess tied the man up with her rope. Once he was secure, Brother Martin stabilized him with spare the dying.

Yanliz told them about the passage in the back.

"That's probably where it kept its treasure!" Dubricus proposed. "We should send our thief back there to investigate."

Valeria and the others decided the risk was too great, and they would return to investigate tomorrow.

In the meantime, they decided Prynhawn would carry the bound man back to the keep where they would imprison and question him, noting that he was much lighter than Third.

They left the cave, and as they crossed the valley, they noticed that they were being watched by creatures hiding beyond a ledge over the kobold cave.

Recognizing that Prynhawn was still wounded, Valeria cast cure wounds on him.

Yanlliz considered casting fog cloud, but feeling vulnerable and recognizing that they were already within distance of a bow shot, they decided to continue, and made it to the woods without further incident.

After a few hours of walking, the sun was setting as they passed by the graveyards. In the distance they saw the familiar sight of zombies. They were plodding towards the majestic form of a giant elk, the size of an elephant.

The elk turned towards them and began to charge, lowering its giant antlers at the last minute and ramming into the plodding zombies, sending many of them flying through the air as they tried to pummel the beast.

They originally considered avoiding the zombies, but decided they could not leave the elk to fight the zombies alone, as the undead walkers rose and began to follow it the other direction.

"I have an idea!" Dubricus announced. "We could always attack the zombies from range."

"I'll watch him," Brother Martin called to Prynhawn as he dropped the rat-man by his feet and began to dash along with Philip, Valeria, Jess, Lawrence, Dubricus, and Vernim. The elk turned and rammed into the zombies again, scattering them and leaving at least one motionless. Casting hunter's mark, Yanliz sunk an arrow into one zombies head, but missed with second.

As they continued to dash closer, the elk crashed into the zombies again, bisecting two of them and sending many others flying. Yanliz missed his mark as the zombies were flying through the air.

Philip stopped 120 feet away from the fray as the others dashed up to him. The elk turned again and rammed into the relentless corpses, crushing two more as some of them pelted its hide with their fists. Yanliz left one of the zombies motionless with a well placed arrow.

Valeria hit a zombie with an eldritch blast. Jess hit it with an arrow. Fire bolts from Lawrence and Dubricus finished it. Yanliz missed with his bow. The elk turned again and crashed into the zombie pack again.

Valeria hit another zombie with an eldritch blast. Jess hit it with an arrow. Lawrence and Dubricus hit it with fire bolts. Vernim finished it with his crossbow. Yanliz hit another with his bow. Once again, the elk turned again and rammed into the few remaining zombies.

Valeria hit another zombie with an eldritch blast. Jess finished it with an arrow. Lawrence and Dubricus hit another with fire bolts. The elk turned again and reared, bringing its giant hoofs down on the last zombie, crushing it to meal.
The giant elk
The majestic looking beast turned toward the group, with its honey colored hide blowing in the breeze and its golden antlers gleaming in the setting sun. It bowed its antlers towards the group, then raised them and leaped off, quickly disappearing into the woods.

They retrieved the rat-man and continued on their way.

As they neared the keep, Vernim, reflecting of their fortune said, “See? I told you we should have gone to the right. Tymora tried to tell us. When we went to the left, Philip almost got killed by that slime. To the right we got to defeat that horrible abomination.”

"We defeated the slime," Valeria countered, "and we almost got killed by the abomination too."

"Yeah, but we defeated the abomination," Vernim maintained, "and that's what Tymora wanted us to do."

"But we defeated the slime too!" Valeria repeated.

"But it almost killed us!" Vernim insisted.

"So did the abomination!" Valeria argued.

"Whatever, Valeria." Vernim muttered. "Do you what you want."

At the gates Sabine confirmed to Valeria that they had still not heard from Cob, but commented on the extra — and naked — body they had returned with.

"Well he wasn't always a naked man." Vernim offered. "He used to be a giant rat. But then when we killed him, he became a man."

"What are you planning on doing with him?" Sabine asked.

"We were hoping we could interrogate him in a prison cell." Valeria indicated. "Do you have cells that can keep a giant rat from escaping?"

"Let me see what we can arrange," Sabine suggested. "Why don't you wait here, unless there was something you want to do. You want to leave him with us and we can get you when we're ready."

"No," Valeria replied. "We can wait."

Sabine sent a messenger off and after a short wait she assured them, "We can accommodate that."

Philip and Jess decided to make preparations at the inn, while Sabine led the rest of them towards the inner gatehouse, a twenty foot high solid stone building separating the outer bailey from the inner bailey. The great double doors stood opened inward, allowing them to pass through freely. Arrow slits lined the lower walls and the hallway between the front and rear doors. The inner side of the gatehouse was forty feet high, and beyond, they crossed a vast vegetable garden, full of potatoes, corn, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, beans, peas, cabbages, and onions, all in orderly, well-hoed rows.

Sabine led them to the north west, to a great sixty foot high circular tower. The doors were open and they could smell rotting meat from within. Inside the tower, they entered a chamber full of racks, sharp knives of all sizes, razors, and scrapers. Against a wall were many buckets and rags.

They noticed that hides were stretched across the racks, as Sabine explained that this place was used as Jocelyn's tannery.

They climbed a small circular stone staircase in the center of the tower, to an upper level of the tower, where they found the keep’s jail. It included a circle of ten stout cells shaped like blunted wedges, each sharing a wall of bars with its neighbor of either side and having a well-locked door facing inward toward the stairwell. The rear of each cell contained a small barred window in the curved stone wall.

The jail contained manacles, chains, muzzles, and other restraints, though Sabine explained that these precautions were rarely needed, as the jail mainly served as a place to let the occasional rowdy adventurer sleep off their drunkenness, paying a fine when appropriate.

She explained that they had acquired a cage from Mouse, that could hold the man in the event he transformed back into a rat.

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