The Blade of the Raven Queen

That'll Learnean you.

It hurts Herc! It hurts!

Grimlocks and Quaggoths.
Troglodytes and a Troll.
The Pit and the Hydra.
And the ferryman poles.

With Varric and Moiraech gone after the morning’s breakfast The Iron Ravens put the morning’s fire out and gather their gear. lucius decided to keep his Mule as a pack animal and with him and his 4 legged friend taking up the rear the group begins exploring the tunnel leading from the giants former resting place.

The tunnels are rough carved, about 10ft wide and 12ft high. Jurgen takes the lead, a Light spell cast on his shield. Sascha follows him, eyes alert as Eevi provides a little more light in the middle with her Produce Flame. Elrik, Aldonis, Sigfrith and Lucius are next with a final Light spell having been cast on Pokey’s saddle.

A few hours in they come to a split in the tunnel. Unsure as to which path they should take the group stops for a quick rest while Sascha examines the ground for tracks and spoor. She determines that the tunnel heading left continues downwards and that there are faint tracks marring the dust on the ground. Unfortunately she is unable to identify those tracks. The tunnel to the right continues on a level course with mildly damp air and the faint sounds of water dripping. Both Jurgen and Aldonis vote for the left path.

In the pitch darkness of the tunnels, illuminated only by the softly glowing light spells and the flickering red glow of the flame in Eevi’s hands, a deep thrumming drum sound begins to be faintly heard. Elrik is the first to notice, followed by Aldonis. The Ravens slow their travel and begin to move forwards cautiously. Jurgen pushes ahead of the group, his shield illuminating the darkness for those behind. They soon come to a widening point of the tunnel, leading to a large cavernous room. Seeing no signs of activity he signals the group and enters. The room has several Stalagmites and a large column to the right. There are bone piles everywhere, extending out to the edge of the visible spectrum.

Elrik feels his skin crawl and taking a good look within notices faint outlines pressed against the rocky walls and columns. Blurting out a warning he fails to alert the group in time as shapes seem to melt from the walls and dark edges of the room. Eyeless humanoids rush forwards, aggressively wielding clubs. The group is swarmed and the only one to react in time is Elrik. Clubs slap into Eevi and Lucius but Jurgen seems to take the brunt of it, being in the front. He is struck by four of the five attackers and staggers from a particularly powerful blow. Elrik attempts a Sacred Flame but his target shrugs it off. More silent, eyeless figures come from the dark. The Iron Ravens are outnumbered at least three to one.

Aldonis slips to the side and clings to the wall. His bow out and arrow knocked. His first target falls with an arrow protruding from it’s throat. Sascha steps forwards, the tall Vanir drawing her Khitan Greatsword and laying into the enemy dropping two with a blow each. Jurgen smashes one to the ground with his shield but it takes two hammer blows to kill it. Spells are fired from the back. Sigfrith’s ghostly hand of necrotic energy missing one target even as a Fire Bolt from Lucius burns another to death. Eevi Viciously Mocks but her target shakes off the effects. Elrik grunts in annoyance and draws his Mace to strike at another.

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The next round finds the momentum shifting to the party’s favour but the clubs still rain down with vicious accuracy. Eevi and Lucius are struck again, Jurgen continues to hold the attention of the front line but pays for it as multiple clubs find their mark. From the tunnel beyond the column where the first reinforcements came from come three larger furred creatures. Growling they also throw themselves into combat. Eevi casts a Shatter into the largest grouping of the eyeless creatures dropping several with the painfully intense, loud ringing noise. Sascha and Jurgen continue to hack and smash, assisted by the enemy sprouting feathered shafts from Aldonis. Another Shatter goes off, the cave ringing with the sound. The tide breaks. Two of the larger furries go down to spells, arrows and Elrik’s mace while the last attempts to break off and run. It doesn’t get far. Jurgen Leaps twenty feet before landing and rushing the last ten to his target. His Warhammer quickly ends it’s life.

Taking a quick breather, heal spells are spent with Jurgen being the primary beneficiary and a search of the cave begins. Shifting through the piles of bones and furs the Ravens find that most have been chewed or gnawed and many still have scraps of flesh or dried blood. Along the walls are crude paintings and sketches that are commented on as being a visual interpretation of a volcano, piles of dung or an Island? Lucius Ritually casts Detect Magic and finds a soft glow coming from under a pile of bones. Coins are scattered everywhere and as the group begins to collect and gather their new loot Elrik and Aldonis detect a bitter, pungent smell growing in intensity. Alerting the others they soon discern that the smell is coming from the tunnel they themselves came from. It grows stronger with each passing moment. Voices are soon heard in the darkness beyond.

Lucius calls out in Draconic and the voices in the dark pause, something is replied in a language only Jurgen, with his native Dwarf language, recognizes as Deep Speech. A low rumbling growl comes from the dark and a shape begins to form at the very edge of the light shining from Jurgen’s Shield. The Iron Ravens quickly move into position, Jurgen taking the front at the mouth of the tunnel as a Troll rushes into the light. It pushes and at first fails to budge the Unyielding dwarf but after applying it’s considerable strength and bulk forces him back from the tunnel mouth. It is slammed down by Jurgen’s shield and even as his warhammer rains blows upon it’s downed form Sascha steps in to help, her greatsword cleaving deeply. It is Chill Touched and Fire Bolted while Eevi Viciously Mocks it. Aldonis drops his bow and using his Fast Hands equips his shield and attacks with his rapier.

From the darkness come savage lizard-like humanoids. Their warbling voices echoing in the space of the cave as the stench that was at first detected becomes strong and almost overpowering. The troll stands and lashes out with it’s claws and teeth but is quickly put back to the ground by Jurgen’s shield work. The Troglodytes also claw and bite scoring some nasty hits but soon find themselves overwhelmed by the party. The troll, suffering burns and necrotic chills fails to regenerate and while trying to regain its feet is killed by Aldonis, his Rapier piercing clean through the base of its skull. The remaining Troglodytes die quickly and the voices beyond in the tunnel turn to panic and flee unseen as the stench begins to lessen.

Taking a short rest, and staying clear of the smelly bodies, Lucius retrieves the Item that had been previously glowing in the bones. Finding it to be in the pouch of what once must have been an explorer. A Gold bracelet is found fused into the wrist of the troll and Sascha cuts the hand free for Elrik who first noticed it. Coins and gems are gathered and the rest completes without further incident. Breaking camp they move on.

As they travel further in and down they start to see the tunnel grow smaller and go from mostly natural to partly worked. The floor grows level and eventually flat. The roof goes from curved to actual arch. Jurgen begins to see the marks of Dwarf work and stops to admire the way the floor seems to naturally go from semi rough rock to absolutely smooth stone tiles. The now well made dwarven hall eventually ends in a collapsed section but before that pile of rockfall there is an arched entrance to the right. Jurgen boldly steps through and finds himself on a ledge overlooking a deep sixty foot pit. The pit is forty feet square, presumably made by Dwarves and has a rough metal grate staircase bolted to the walls going down fifteen feet per wall with a landing in each corner. Aldonis is asked to examine the staircase and he finds after checking it out that it seems to be not trapped but somewhat rickety. He and Jurgen also come to the conclusion that these stairs had been placed by someone other than the original architects.

Jurgen tightens the straps of his shield and moves onto the grated stairs. It creaks and squeaks loudly under his weight. It is decided that only one or two people will cross each staircase, waiting for the forward group to descend before the next comes. Jurgen reaches the third landing, forty-five feet down and waits for Aldonis to reach him. Aldonis checks the last set of stairs to make sure nothing goes wrong. Crouching and running his hands over the rusty ancient steel stairs he catches motion from the corner of his eye. Turning his head he watches as a large serpent head rises from the dark beneath. He hears Elrik shout a warning as, blinking, he sees another, then another and as the group finally all become aware of it there are seven heads weaving, their long necks disappearing into a fissure beneath the final set of stairs.

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All seven of the mouths open and a jet of Acid streams out striking Jurgen directly behind Aldonis and follows the stairs up just stopping shy of Sascha. Jurgen manages to get his shield up and deflects the majority of the acid, the only thing being damaged is the shield face and various spots of acid that managed to splatter onto his chainmail. He finds himself unharmed. The stairs however give a tortured shriek and come apart as the acid eats its way through the metal, falling to bits into the pit. Aldonis darts forwards, dashing down the remaining steps and into the far corner where he flips his cloak over himself in an attempt to hide. Several blasts of magic hit the heads, one of them burning into nothing even as an Arrow from the now hidden Aldonis disables another. Jurgen quickly follows and takes a stand at the fissure itself, the heads seem to retract into the darkness until they are weaving just above him, beneath the stairs above and mostly hidden from the others still climbing down. Jurgen is attacked by five heads, four of them find their marks and he is viciously wounded. Sascha rages and simply leaps into the pit, nailing a Super Hero Landing. Her rage lets her ignore the pain of the fall as she rushes to support the Paladin. The usual barrage of spells go off, a Chill Touch followed by a Fire Bolt and a Vicious Mocking from Eevi. Two heads grow from the Burnt stump and two more replace the one felled by Aldonis’ arrow. The heads though seem sickly and malformed as though unable to grow properly. Once again the mouths open and spit acid. Sascha and Jurgen take the brunt of it but manage to avoid the worst of it. Unable to regenerate the heads begin to retreat, but not fast enough as Arrow and Spell strike it. Sascha’s greatsword cleaving one head off the neck and Jurgen’s hammer crushing another. It shrieks a final time and falls limp.

It takes both Lucius and Sigfrith to convince pokey to follow them down. Sigfrith uses Beast Speech and Lucius casts Spider Climb on it.

Checking the bottom of the pit reveals piles of bones and acid melted gear but nothing of value. Crawling over the huge body blocking the fissure they find a small cave that fits the creature and a tunnel that would be just large enough for it to squeeze through. Within the cave they find coin and gems, the mostly eaten bodies of humanoids and a flesh free skull still bearing a sturdy leather headband.

Resting and healing they decide to make camp in the pit. Good Berries are handed out, nourishing the group as though having eaten for the day. Jurgen spends his Lay on Hands on himself and mends the tears and rents in his armour. Spells are refreshed and sleep is indulged.

Packing up they move on. The tunnel from the fissure leads down steeply and after a few hours of travel it opens out into an immense rift cavern at least a half-mile across and several hundred feet deep. Faintly glowing with phosphorescence at the bottom of the rift is a massive stone structure shaped like a prehistoric fish. A wide stairway is dimly seen leading up to the fish’s mouth. Water seems to cover the cavern floor. From where they are there is also a narrow ledge that slopes down, hugging the cavern as it descends in a series of switchbacks before finally ending at a narrow beach.

Once on the beach the group looks across trying to figure out what to do next. The water here is dark and it is impossible to tell how deep it is. A thin mist floats a few feet above its surface. Elrik and Aldonis are the first to notice something coming across the water towards them. A long canoe emerges from those mists, drifting slowly towards the group. Crouched in the stern is a silvery fish headed humanoid of medium size, holding a long pole with which it pushes the canoe forwards. The canoe stops about twenty feet from the beach and it looks at everyone. No one says anything for a tense moment until Lucius hails it in Draconic. It looks and responds “Seek ye the Eye in the Darkness?” When Lucius translates Aldonis immediately recognizes that phrase from the Diviner, Stefania Callas, that Kharden had hired through Persephone at the Cusp of Sunrise. Aldonis and Lucius both reply “Yes, we are” in Draconic and Ophirean respectively. The creature nods and poles the canoe closer, beaching it. Lucius hobbles pokey and leaves it with enough food for a day or two and the group all climb into the surprisingly roomy watercraft.

The trip over the water passes in silence. The creature poling the canoe doesn’t speak and no one speaks to it. The group are deposited at the base of the stairs beneath the great maw and the canoe slips back into the mist and darkness.

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