We reached the foot of the Great Stairway without incident and were left to choose ‘twixt a door in the statue room or the rough passway guarded by organized goblins. Selecting the former, we found ourselves in a deformed garden of sorts, with bramble ‘walls’, giant brown plants, and a winding walkway. Following it, we were led to a thorny ‘tunnel’, where small figures above it fired their usual crossbows at us. We exchanged fire briefly, then ran into the tunnel. The ceiling was solid enough that we were temporarily shielded. Having determined that the vegetation would not support our weight, we did our utmost to set fire to the tunnel and flee. We watched some minor burning from a distance, before the creatures launched an ambush volley from the side walls whilst Irem attempted more pyrotechnics. To our surprise, these were not the typical deformed goblins (if such unnatural monstrosities can be called ‘typical’), but, rather, fat, bloated, bird-legged things, seemingly suited for perching upon the plants of the chamber. Realizing we were subject to fire almost anywhere, unenamoured with our chances in a missile war, and unable to find a way to engage the bird-creatures in melee, we retreated and sealed the door behind us, but not before sadly noting that our fires seemed extinguished without noteworthy effect.
Passing the library, we succumbed to its temptation, and entered for a quick perusal. I called upon the Light to help me find enchantments, but found only disappointment. Still, Teela did find one bit of writing she suspected of being an incantation, and pocketed it.
Next we girded ourselves for another foray into the perpetually defended rough corridor. Charging in, we splintered their lines with relatively little difficulty this time, but our success was tainted by two of them escaping, screeching for reinforcements all the while. We pursued to an intersection of four, hesitating at the obvious potential for ambush and crossfire. Indeed, we felt the pinch of flanking fire, but there were not many reinforcements, and without enough ranks to protect them, the bowmen were easier prey.
None escaped our wrath this time and we continued forward, until reaching what would seem to be a guard chamber. Three stools, a few crossbows, and a slew of bolts populated the cavern. The stools were not of wood, but of some other mysterious plant fiber. The far end was open to an underground river, so large that the opposite shore could not be sighted. We acquainted the store of armaments with the river, and they drifted away into the darkness.
Left from the fork, we discovered another chamber adjacent to the river. Here, though, was a dock, 2 rafts, and poles, all made from the same odd flora as before. Rafting the river was both an intriguing and daunting idea, but for now the right fork awaited.
In that direction we found what would seem to be a living room, adorned with sleeping furs, a fire pit, and what presumably passes for comestibles. Less mundane was the stack of rocks in one corner, sealing off a passageway.
We debated what the goblins might fear or be feeding, then sent some of our company to learn. What was discovered was the corpse of a Dwarf who had left this world quite some time ago. His diamond medallion and short sword seemed to have aged much better than his person, though, sadly, they were absent of dweomer. A wire and bell were cleverly rigged to alert him of intruders and a chest with a few solid bars of gold made fine compensation for our day’s effort. The most intriguing find was a tapestry, telling a tale of the Dwarves – their enslavement to the Dark Ones, how some (like this fellow) escaped and became Watchers, scattered about, ever vigilant for the return of the Dark Ones, after their original overthrow. This may indeed be the first actual Dwarf seen in decades, if not centuries!
Liking not the prospects of traversing home and back, nor the idea of re-experiencing the Darkness of the library area, we bedded down right in the corridor, just before the intersection.
Our first interruption came when the watch spotted the slowly creeping bloodsuckers, of which Dargellon had spoken of encountering in the countryside a dozen or so days back. Most were dispatched quickly, although one succeeded in making a fine meal of Dargellon for a bit, before being burst like a giant wineskin under a wagon wheel.
Precious few hours passed before we had to be roused again. This time the watch heard goblins yelping and cursing as they approached from the docks – the red devils had found the caltrops Irem had left behind!
Those who had armouring such that one could drift off to sleep within it went charging into battle, while those of us who sleep in no more than cloth were less enthusiastic and might rather have used the warning to retreat. Still, after our comrades plunged in, we followed. Again, the telling point in the fight was the Elven warrior Teela rendering goblins comatose with her mystical power for the second time this sojourn.
Depleted of spells and despairing of getting rejuvenated here, we trudged home in the light of the morn, to rekindle our vitality in the tranquility of our own beds.
Mazlor, beacon of the Light