Session 60: Right out of the Minotaur's Labyrinth

The group finished a short rest, as well as a light meal Philip quickly prepared, under the round metallic door in the ceiling of one of the labyrinth's natural dead-ends.

Yanliz, based on his extensive experience in caves, proposed taking some extra measures to try to avoid getting lost and ensure they mapped everywhere they explored without missing any areas. They considered marking up the walls further, but discovered that they could remove the marks they were making. Ultimately they decided to continue exploring, possibly taking additional measures if they entered the cave again, but in the meantime, sticking to the left wall, making only left turns.

After wandering the tunnels, through many turns and slopes and dead-ends, with Valeria constantly searching for secret doors or traps, they eventually came across a familiar round metallic door on the floor. Prynhawn tried to pry it open with a crowbar, but it did not budge.

After wandering through the tunnels some more, Philip eventually heard what sounded like squeaky, arguing chatter, and had the group stop moving.

Yanliz went ahead alone to search quietly in the dark.

Up ahead he spotted a kobold at a three way intersection in the distance. It seemed to be talking to someone in a language he didn't understand.

He moved up a bit and saw that it was another kobold, and they seemed to be playing tug of war, or arguing about a rope.

Noting the javelins in their hands and short swords at their waists, he returned to the group and told them what he had discovered.

Assuming the kobolds were speaking Draconic, Yanliz guided Lawrence quietly into the dark to eavesdrop.

He heard a voice squeal, "I need more rope!"

Then, from farther: "There is no more rope!"

"Tell them to get more rope!"

"I did!"

"Well..."

"Well, what?"

"Well, stupid!"

"You're stupid!"

"I need more rope, stupid!"

Lawrence signaled for Yanliz to guide him back, and then relayed what he had overheard to the rest of the group.

"It looks like a large group of kobolds," Lawrence explained, "attempting to navigate the caves with a rope, and one was calling another asking for more rope. They're most likely as lost as we are and using the rope to retrace their steps, but they ran out. If we attack them we will most likely alert the other farther down the line, but they are very vulnerable, it seems, but who knows."

They debated attacking the kobolds, attempting to parley, or snatching one prisoner for interrogation.

Yanliz led Philip up into the darkness and saw there was only one kobold.

Valeria shielded her light and led the rest of the group closer to Yanliz.

Yanliz saw the kobold start tugging on the rope. He led Philip back to the group. "I think they know we're here!"

The group ran up and saw two kobolds staring at them, preparing to throw their javelins. Valeria dropped one with an eldritch blast, barely managing to avoid Jess' stray arrow. Philip ran up and dropped the other with a bonk on its head with his staff. A third kobold threw a javelin at Philip from the left corridor, but the halfling dodged it as well as another that came from the darkness farther down that corridor.

The kobold ran into the darkness of the corridor to the left. Valeria ran up, along with the rest of the group, and grabbed the rope that was being dragged down the corridor. Yanliz dropped the fleeing kobold with an arrow, and the rope went slack.

Valeria pulled the rope from the right corridor, retrieving about twenty feet of rope. After they confirmed that the three kobolds had nothing more valuable than short swords on them, the group went down the left corridor.

The rope ended at an intersection, and the group continued to the left.

They continued down the corridor, still hoping to find a fourth kobold, even as Jess continued to scrape the right wall with her greataxe. They eventually found a few more dead-ends, in one of which they found a crumpled skeleton.

Brother Martin could not determine how it died, but as luck would have it, Vernim found its spine cracked just below the skull.

Turning around and continuing on, scraping the opposite wall, continuing to take all left turns.

Suddenly Brother Martin stopped them, "Guys,do you hear that? That scraping noise?"

Vernim, Yanliz, and Lawrence heard it as well. It sounded like it was getting further away.

They continued on, following the sound, and turned into a corridor with a line scraped into the right side of the wall.

They took a left at the next intersection, parting from the line scraped into the right wall.

Yanliz heard something behind them, and was shocked as he turned around to see another Minotaur charging at him.

It lowered its bull-head and gored Yanliz, slamming the ranger into Lawrence and the ceiling, and tossing him onto the ground, close to death.

Prynhawn ran though his companions, casting thunderous smite, and slashed into the beast with a loud boom.

Philip and Vernim tried to react, but were frozen in surprise.

Jess drew her short sword and dagger, stabbing the dagger into its musclebound thigh.

Lawrence rose from the ground and cast scorching ray, hitting the beast with two rays of fire.

Brother Martin reached down and cast cure wounds on Yanliz.

"He who bears the crown, he who shall not go down. All heroes must be brought down. All except for Prynhawn! Prynhawn, Prynhawn, the world's your playground. Prynhawn, Prynhawn, victorious on the battleground!" Valeria sang, inspiring her half-orc friend.

"Die!" Yanliz yelled as he rose and stabbed the beast with his two short swords.

The Minotaur turned and ran back down the corridor, and Prynhawn, inspired, took the opportunity to slash the beast in the back as it fled.

Jess and Brother Martin tried to hit the beast, but it was too fast.

Philip scrambled through his companions and caught up to the beast at an intersection, avoiding the swing it took at him.

Valeria missed the beast with an eldritch blast.

Vernim moved up, dropping his warhammer and shield, and landed a lucky shot with his crossbow into the beast's hulking back.

Jess sheathed her blades and reached for her short bow.

Lawrence cast scorching ray, hitting it with two rays of fire that were too much for the beast, and it fell, lifeless, to the ground at Philip's feet.

Yanliz ran up to it and stabbed it repeatedly with his sword.

Jess searched the beast, but found nothing more valuable than its greataxe. She retrieved their arrows and chopped its horns off with her greataxe, stowing them in her pack.

The group continued on the way they had been going, reversing course after running into a dead end, turning left at the dead, hornless Minotaur, joining, departing, and then joining the line scraped into the wall. It was apparent that they had looped around, and that they had not made this scrape in the wall. They marked the wall, and continued on.

They soon came upon the dead, hornless Minotaur again, unexpectedly, and continued on.

After another long series of tunnels, the winding passage opened into a chamber carved from the rock, about thirty feet across and some twenty feet wide. Several other passages led into and out of this chamber, which seemed to be empty, save for a Minotaur leaning on a boulder, eating the shank of some unfortunate creature.

As it rose and began to charge at Prynhawn with its double bladed greataxe, Philip ran around it, leaped onto the boulder, flipping backward and landing on the beast's back, stomping it with both hairy feet and smashing it in the head with his staff.

As it fell, Yanliz sunk an arrow into one of its eyes and then another into its other eye.

Prynhawn hacked the beast, as it writhed on the ground.

Lawrence missed the prone beast with a fire bolt, as did Vernim with his crossbow, realizing that he had never retrieved his warhammer and shield.

Valeria and Jess stabbed it with their swords.

Still standing on the bucking beast's back, Philip pinned its head to the ground with his staff, and broke its neck with a stomp.

Vernim slid against the wall and began to blubber at the realization that he had lost his warhammer. Brother Martin stood by his side.

Philip returned to the entrance, and stood there.

Valeria suspiciously tapped the lone boulder with her sword, and noticed that dust rose from its surface.

"There are nine tunnels leading from this room," Jess began. "Who here—"

"What?" Valeria interrupted. "There's only four tunnels, besides the one we came in from."

"There's nine tunnels," Jess insisted, pointing around the chamber.

"There's only four!" Valeria insisted.

"I see nine," Yanliz concurred with Jess, also pointing them out.

"You're counting them twice!" Valeria exclaimed.

Yanliz walked from one passage to the next, counting each one as he stepped into it.

Valeria saw him walk backwards and count the same passages over again. "You cheated!" she said. "You went the other way. Brother Martin, how many do you see?"

"I see five," Brother Martin confirmed, "including the one we entered from."

Yanliz wondered if they were being influenced by magic.

Jess placed one weapon in each passage. She placed the silver sword in one, her greataxe in the next, her short sword in the next, her dagger in the next, and Brother Martin's morningstar in the next. Counting them, she counted five items and five passages.

Yanliz only saw three weapons, but still found nine passages, all with items.

Prynhawn counted them and saw six passages, each with a weapon in it: a silver sword, a greataxe, a short sword, a dagger, a morningstar, and a short sword.

Jess picked up one of the short swords, and Prynhawn went to pick up the other, only to find that someone else must have already picked it up.

Philip started working on his last keg of wine.

"It's the boulder," Lawrence speculated.

"Do you think it's the dust?" Yanliz asked, hitting the boulder with his sword and knocking dust up from its surface.

They gathered their things and left via the same passage they had entered, this time following the right wall, without scraping any new lines.

They passed the dead, hornless Minotaur at the intersection.

Vernim wanted to retrieve his warhammer, but Prynhawn insisted they follow the right wall.

Vernim was speechless.

"We're leaving Vernim's 300 gold piece warhammer?" Brother Martin contested.

"We need to keep going right," Prynhawn insisted, "just in case, but we're going to return here."

"But why don't we just get it now?" Brother Martin questioned.

"Yeah, we can just get it now!" Vernim argued.

"There are things more important than your warhammer," Jess stated.

"Let's just take a second to go get it," Brother Martin urged. "It's right there down that passage."

"No," Prynhawn insisted, "we're going to come back for it later. It doesn't matter."

"But what if we fight something?" Vernim demanded. "I want to be prepared."

"I want to get out of this place," Jess cried, "so we can be safe!"

"But that was a really expensive hammer," Brother Martin argued, "and it's important, right?"

"I'm not saying it's not important," Jess maintained, "but I'm saying that we're more important."

"But it will only take two seconds to run and check!" Brother Martin cried. "I can stand here and watch him get it."

"We were in a room and couldn't agree on how many exits there were!" Jess contended. "There's something going on here!"

"Something was messing with our minds," Vernim cried. "I'm trying to help you guys, but you're not doing anything to help me!"

"Why don't we tie a rope to Vernim," Yanliz suggested, "and let him go down the left passage, and if it's not there, then he can come back to us?"

"I don't like it!" Prynhawn insisted. "Vernim, I'm almost sure your warhammer is there, but I'm positive that if we stick to the right wall, we're going to get there. You have to trust me on this."

"So are we going left or right?" Philip asked.

Valeria agreed to Yanliz's suggestion, and they tied a rope around Vernim as he retrieved his warhammer and shield from the left passage, and returned without incident.

"I can't believe how much you guys disrespect me," Vernim said when he returned. "Thank you, though. Yes! I got it!"

"You're welcome, Vernim," Valeria replied, and they continued right.

They passed the vertical marking they had made, where expected, looped around and returned to the intersection with the dead, hornless Minotaur, turned around at a dead-end and passed the dead, hornless again.

They continued on for a long while, through twists and turns, slopes, and dead-ends,

They eventually returned to the kobold's rope and collected it as they went, gathering two hundred feet of knotted rope, which Jess eagerly stowed in her pack, as they passed the three dead kobolds.

They continued on for a long while until they returned to the place they had taken a rest.

After another long while the lines scraped into the wall stopped. Jess began slashing a diagonal in the wall about every ten feet.

They reversed when they found a dead-end with a familiar round metallic doors in the walls. They passed a familiar 360 degree turn that overlapped itself.

Brother Martin cast cure wounds on Yanliz.

Eventually Prynhawn smelled the familiar spices as they entered Bethany's chamber.

"Hi, you're back," she greeted them.

"We just wanted to stop by and say hi," Valeria said, "we won't be staying."

"I thought you wanted to pray with me," She said as they turned to leave. "Okay, bye, bye, Lawrence."

They left and passed the blood stained wall where they fought the first Minotaur.

When they finally found the exit, it was already dark outside.

After refilling their wineskins, and Philip's three kegs, they returned to the bandit's cave and confirmed Duranki was still shackled where they left him.

Vernim fed Duranki from his own rations, ignoring his questions and pleas to be freed. They asked him about Apep, but he said he had never heard of him.

When they returned to Ace's room to sleep, Brother Martin complained that they should not keep Duranki prisoner so long. Philip complained that it was dangerous spending so many nights in the caves. They agreed that they would bring him back to the keep when they returned.

"You asked me earlier how I know all this stuff about the gods," Yanliz explained, shifting uncomfortably. "I've never really told anyone this, because I thought that people might think that I'm more of a monster than I already am, but—"

"You're not a monster, Yanliz," Valeria assured him.

"Thanks, Valeria." Yanliz continued, "When I was living alone in the caves, I don't know if I ever told you this, but there was this comforting darkness that gave me the powers I have now, and that same darkness spoke to me in my dreams, often when I had gone many days alone in the dark without food, and gave me knowledge about things...like Nergal and Apep. That's how I know this stuff. It's like a dream. I don't know if that's weird, but it helped me when I was at my most desperate."

"I'm glad it helped you," Valeria replied, "otherwise we would never have had the pleasure of adventuring with you."

"Anyway," Yanliz continued, "You should know that Nergal was known to represent the summer solstice that brings destruction. However, I've also heard that he's known as the king of the sunset, and became a guardian of the underworld. He's also known as the raging king and the furious one.

With that, Yanliz cast two mental alarms, one in The Catbird Seat and another in the hall to the south.

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