[Runequestprax] Chapter Ten: Dyksund Caverns

Lev Lafayette lev at rpgreview.net
Sat Nov 1 13:40:23 EST 2008


Chapter Ten: Dyksund Caverns

Dramatis personae

Storyteller, (Lev)
Phoebe, Grantlands Initiate of Zola Fel and Seven Mothers (Michael)
Red Mouse, Zebra Tribe Initiate of Zola Fel (Sean)
Honest John, Pavis Initiate of Eurmal and Zola Fel (Rick)
Zammon, Rhino Tribe Initiate of Storm Bull (Gawain)
Praxilites, Sun County Initiate of Yelmalio (Jay)
Mountain Strides, Agimori Initiate of Lodril (Karl)
Mathius, Pavis Initiate of Lhankor Mhy and Issaries (NPC)


1616 Solar Time: Sea Season

In the name of the Greatest Sage, Lhankor Mhy.

Whilst taking a sabbatical in Pavis, I chanced upon a Second Age scroll
and some Lunar correspondence from that honest n'er do well, Treasure
Trove Hubri. The scroll spoke of Second Age chaos temples located in the
Dyksund valley, which was now part of Duke Rauss' Grantlands. An
opportunity to explore such a place was indeed rare so I immediately
informed the Temple of my impending journey and, after some days ride,
caught up with Lord Praxelites and his companions to journey to the
Grantlands.

Upon our arrival it was no surprise to discover that the Duke was
already informed of the investigation and along with old friends who
were under his mercenary employ, there was also members of a Lunar
Provincial survey team, lead by Hazphar Pharates. The Duke provided
regional maps to Dyksund region and mentioned that there was a
settlement there established by a Carmanian family who operated a cotton
farm. We organised the provisions and set upon our journey.

The stead was owned by the Pola family, like many others recently
established in the region from Lunar lands and there was nothing
untoward about them, although they all seemed particularly well-built
and had a score of particularly stupid slaves working the fields which
was a cause of some frustration to Strides. We were introduced to Nanni,
the head of the household, Meakan, his wife who provided a most
excellent and hearty stew which was well-received after the many hours
on horseback, and their adult son, Kennoma and adult daughter Aliuma the
latter who took something of a passing interest in the Red Mouse.
Finally there was Uncle Hadani an older and amusing gent who engaged us
in plenty of conversation and noted that he was a bit of an adventurer
in his youth. He was aware of a cave entrance up on the buck and was
more than prepared to lead us there and help us out. We thanked the
family for their hospitality and again, without any ado, set up our
task.


Mattius, Apprentice Sage to Lhankor Mhy

...




In the name of Yelm and Yelmalio, Son of the Sun God.

Perhaps we should have turned back that day, rather than enter the caves
of chaos. Oh, hindsight! What great utility you have! But Yelm's journey
across the sky is a linear one. Since the Great Compromise only the
HeroQuesters can alter time and even then in a most limited way.

The entrance to Dyskund Caverns was to be found in grasslands surrounded
by several whitewood trees. It was a shaft, straight down, some sixty
metres in all, with two small ledges. True, "Uncle Haddi" did assist us
at this point, pointing out the ledges, recommending a course for the
abseil. Most of the Lunar survey team remained on the campsite above,
with the exception of Antonia, a Praxian tribeswoman who had taken a
Lunar name.

Disaster struck soon; Mattius' rope became caught and a sharp rock
somehow cut through it. He fell some forty metres, silently and like a
rag-doll as he was knocked unconscious on the way down. We placed his
remains on a stretcher and had then taken back above ground for an
impromptu burial under the sight of Yelm.

The cavern complex itself proved to be enormous, and as chaotic in
design as the denizens we discovered. At many points the larger members
of our group, Strides and Zammon, found themselves unable to pass the
narrow and uneven passages, or with great difficulty.

At first an enormous cavern was discovered, which smelt of old cheese.
It was covered in a fungal growth and Zammon swore he sensed chaos
throughout the entire room which at some stage he would have to cleanse.
A dragonsnail was also present, munching on the festering growth, which
Zammon delighted in dispatching.

Further investigations took us to a chamber where a number of crystal
coffins with a faint light were discovered; however before them was a
gap in the earth and as we approached undead beings and ghosts arose -
how many I could not say, for we fled before their numbers and they
subsided back into the crack from whence they came. Each time we
approached, the bodies and spirits of the dead arose again, so great in
number. Again Zammon, biting his lip, swore that a great party of Storm
Bulls would be required to cleanse this infestation.

Zammon received his wish soon enough. Shortly afterwards we chanced upon
a fell being half-man, half-giant scorpion which we felled quickly.
Pressing onwards we encountered pillars with old skulls implanted within
them - and then we were attacked by the spirits of the inhabitants. If
only Matthius was still with us, as the Lhankor Mhy can free such bound
souls! To make matters worse, a number of Thanatar cultists also took to
the battle, and although we were victorious, with one escapee, we had to
retreat to the cave entrance to recover. We also captured a dimunitive
Darkman which, worse luck, it showed fealty to the Red Mouse.

There we discovered that the ropes lay upon the ground of the cavern
floor, with one dented and bloodied Lunar helm. Far above us a shaft of
light showed that Yelm's gaze was getting long. But how to climb to the
surface? Even Honest John, the most nimble of our party refused this
venture. Then Zammon revealed that he had in his possession some hazia,
the contraband discorporeal narcotic. For the good of the party I
consumed some of this foul weed and felt my spirit exit my body. 

Taking flight, my spirit discovered carnage above. The bodies of the
Lunar Party were many, although their leaders were not to be found.
Matthius grave had been dug up and taken away. Worse still, there was
evidence that some monsters had eaten the flesh of the fallen. On my
return I recited my discovery to the party, Red Mouse instantly realised
the problem: "Uncle Haddi is Grandpa", recalling the references to Black
Rock Village. "There's ogres at the stead".

Trapped within the caverns we took to an uneasy sleep. Strides convinced
us in the morning to return to the Thanatar Temple to search it more
thoroughly, but this proved to be a ruse. Red Mouse found him attempting
to hide heads within his pack and with the additional consumption of
hazia - yes I took it again! - we realised that he was possessed by a
spirit. Collecting the heads, we negotiated and cajoled with the spirit
to exit the body so Strides could return in control. We were now
honour-bound to return the spirit and head to Sun Dome. 

Searching the temple we discovered ancient scrolls, although only one
could be read by Phoebe who recognised the ancient script from her
knowledge of New Pelorian. If only Mathius was still with us! With good
fortune however we discovered another exit to the cave complex, so the
possibility of us being trapped underground was diminished.

We searched more of the complex, going deeper underground. There the air
was warm is fetid, and we enountered a number of Dragonsnails in our
investigations much to Zammon's delight. One had managed to get itself
stuck in a passageway and Zammon hewed his way through it with relish.
Beyond that however, he began to Detect Chaos and, making use of the
gifts provided by Zola Fel, we swam underwater for a short distance
before exiting in a room of many crystals, some of which were clearly
blood of the Gods. Then with horrified realisation, Zammon realised that
an enormous crystal was pulsating and Detected Chaos. Gibbering, he
explained that this must belong to a chaotic demigod and indeed was in
use.

We beat a hasty exit, but sought further explorations. We navigated our
way through a most narrow passageway, marked on our maps as "The Crack"
before reaching a point where Zammon and Strides could journey no
further. So again, with shaking hands and short breath, I consumed the
noxious weed and became discorporate. Taking my spirit further up the
passageway I discovered several more chambers, but no inhabitants.

At this point we decided to exit the Dyksund Caverns through the exit
found near the Thanatar Temple. With Stride's mad ghost as a scout, we
noticed in advanced ogre children from Black Rock village scanning us;
we gave chase but they escaped to the stead, whereupon a mighty battle
ensured. The slaves had been locked in their compound, the gates were
shut, and a score of ogre children we present firing missiles and
casting spells, knocking Honest John out. Zammon attacked the gate with
his great axe and eventually broke in. An ogre charged Strides, striking
him with a deadly blow in his chest and although it would have killed
any other man, Strides was a Man And A Half and whilst on the ground,
coughing blood, he could still crawl away.

All told we felled almost a dozen of the ogre children, Grandpa and
Meakan, but we still had to face Nanni, who clearly was a Rune Priest.
With great fortune I struck most true with my spear as the ogre dodged
entirely in the wrong manner and I caught him under his armpit,
skewering him and I drove my spear deep into his chest. With their
leader down the others fled into their house and we gave chase,
eventually finding in the basement the remains of the Lunar party and
yet another entrance to the caves - but they were gone. Two ogres and a
dozen children had escaped our clutches.

My writing must be excused. The effects off the hazia addiction is
taking me. My breath is short and my hands are shaking. I must fulfil my
obligation and return to Sun Dome. To see the Healers to cure me. To see
the Lhankor Mhy to free the ghost... Zammon will be visiting the Storm
Bull priests to tell them of these caves.

But wait! What was in that stew?




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