- Ki’rok, 11th Level Drow Ranger
- Deiter, 11th Level Human Fighter
- Abernacky, 6th Level Human Fighter
- Tom, 5th Level Halfling Wizard
- Vrae’ree, 13th Level Drow Wizard,
- Adabon, 13th Level Copper Elf Fighter
- Thaed, 13th Level Human Cleric
- Fo, 13th Level Human Monk
- Brûne, 13th Level Human Paladin
- Alric, 11th Level Human Paladin
- Tharivol, 11th Level Moon Elf Fighter
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be a sin to know?
Can it be death?”
― John Milton,
Tharivol, Vree’Ree, and Adabon watched the Oblivax as the magical flames consumed it, and saw their friends falls seemingly lifeless on to the damp, cold stone floor of the lava-hewn cavern. Tentacles remain attached by cruel-looking barbs to the back of each of their heads. The oily black tentacles writhed and wriggled despite being severed from the bizarre monster.
There was no natural light here, only what shadows were cast by Adabon’s dying torch that smoldered on the floor. In the center of the room was a 3’x3′ stone pedestal, carved on the sides with demonic runes and etched on the top with the words “RAS EVIL GRIN.” A single silver ring sat atop the pedestal, glimmering softly in the light of the quickly dying torch.
This is definitely the site marked on the map indicating the elevator. Gazing at the stone floor they can see the outline of a seam running 6’x6′ in a square around the pedestal, hinting at a secret passage. Looking around, they saw there were no other ways in or out of the room besides the way they came. From somewhere beyond the room, they heard the sudden thrum of drums echoing through the tunnels. It joined with the hum of the Draakhorn, making their stomach churn and eyes water.
Tharivol carefully picked up the ring and examined it closer. The ring is finely crafted and plain without markings. He felt no thrum of magic coming from the ring.
Seeing his Moon Elf ally reaching for the ring, Vrae’ree made a hasty retreat to the cooridoor outside the chamber. He watched Tharivol, expecting something bad to happen.
Brune grunted and tried to stand. He struggled to his feet and the room pitched and swam as he fell back to the floor. The barbed tentacle on his head wriggled but remained attached. Brune rubbed his head, then attempted to stealthily unsheathed his dagger, held the tentacle softly, but firmly. With a quick movement, he cut it off.
From outside the room, Vrae’ree raised a single finger into the air. “I could hold the torch to burn the tentacle…” But he made no move to aid them. He looked around, seeing that Adabon was slowly walking around the unmoving forms of Thaed, Fo, and Alric. The Drow tried to ignore the fact that it seemed that his Copper Elf friend was casually observing them for easy loot.
Brune managed to cut the writhing tentacles loose with his dagger, however he could feel that there were still parts of the … thing … in the back of his head. The barbs and some of the slimy masses of skin remain although the tentacle was cut free. It continued to squirm in Brune’s hand as if it were alive…
As Brune observed at the tentacle with disgust, he noticed that a clear, colorless fluid began to run out of the end he sliced with the dagger. The ichor dripped slowly, oozing like thick honey.
Brune squirmed with disgust. “My brains are dripping away,” he moaned. “Help.”
Tharivol scowled. “Where is the blasted Cleric when you need him?” The Moon Elf looked down at Thaed and gave the human a soft kick in the side. The man grunted softly, and squirmed. The others remained seemingly lifeless on the floor around pedestal. The drums echoed from somewhere deeper in the mountain keeping a steady beat.
Brune touched the back of his head, willing some of the deep well of his healing power to heal his wounds. The wounds closed, sealing the remaining barbs from the tentacle in place within his skin, poking out like four tiny horns on the rear of his head.
As Brune puts fire to the tentacle, the thin tries to shrink away from the heat but in a few moments the snake-like tentacle writhes and withers. Brune inspected the ichor, and somehow feels deep down that this is one of this own bodily fluids, maybe what the monster was feeding on while connected to him.
“Could someone help me get these barbs out of my head?” Brune frowned, realized his mistake in healing his wound so quickly.
Vrae’ree slowly stepped back into the room, moving over to try to pry the quills out of Brune’s flesh. But doing so only inflicted pain but didn’t remove them. The flesh has closed around it sealing it within his skin. Vrae’ree takes a good look, estimating that the barbs will now have to be cut out rather than just extracted.
“There things are like Porcupine quills,” said the Drow. “They can’t simply be pulled out.”
Brune looked around at his comrades who were all still laying on the floor unmoving. He eyed Abadon for a moment, watching the Copper Elf as he seemed to be casually pawing through Fo’s pockets. The moss has been consumed by the magical flame however the tentacles stay connected to each victim, the long, oily tentacles writhing like living things. Each tentacles was holding on to the rear of the victim’s head, latched on with vicious quill. The things resemble black, slimy lampreys.
Adabon stood up from going through Fo’s pockets, mumbling something to himself. Then he speaks up to Tharivol, Brune, and Vrae’ree. “These creatures are called Dark Tentacles. I’ve read about them. They are parasites. They might have been living off of the Memory Moss that we just killed. We need to get those barbs out of Brune and then remove the other ones from our comrades. These things are feeding off of them like leeches.” He paused. “And the quills are poisonous if left within the skin.” He glances at Brune. “You can’t see it, Paladin, but the skin around those barbs is already puckering and turning blue.”
Brune stumbled forward, falling to one knee. The room swam in front of him. He tried to steel himself and regain his senses, but he felt the warmth of the poison spreading through him. He tried to speak, but the words make no sense. He looked towards the pedestal and saw a woman beautiful beyond words hovering there. She was clad in forest green and her eyes shimmer with a golden light. She smiled, and reaches out to Brune. “Come my child. Come with me and rest.”
From somewhere deep in the mountain the blast of horns joined the thrum of the drums. A echoing cry arose as a hundred thousand voices seem to rise as one, shouting a single name: “TIAMAT!”
“But so many children are in jeopardy…” Brune mumbled. “I must protect them and you!” Delighted by the women’s beauty Brune smiled and started to reach toward her, but then he remembered his purpose and his bond. “My lady your offer is most kind and inviting, but I simply can not accept at this time as there is a child who needs a champion so she might know beauty as well. Please forgive my departure and I hope we might meet again some day.”
Brune’s blessed touch can not only heal wounds but can also cure diseases and neutralize poisons. The cleansing power welled up inside of the Paladin and flowed through his fingers, burning away the Dark tentacles venom. The barbs loosen from his skin suddenly, falling away to the floor. Brune watched as the image of the Fey-Sidhe woman faded and disappeared. Brune felt better now — refreshed. He remembered suddenly that the Oblivax tricked them and fed on their memories, replacing them with a vivid dream that felt real. Meanwhile, the Dark Tentacles drank deeply from their bodies at the same time, feeding on the fluid within their spine. Surely the others are in dire need of assistance as none of them seem to be moving.
Vrae’ree and the others moved from body to body, tending to their comrades. Fo, Deiter, Thaed, and Ki’rok all remained unmoving even after the Dark Tentacles were removed properly and then burned. Vrae’ree used the blessed powers of Raut to mend his friend’s bodies and cure their wounds. But even after the four are healed, they lie motionless.
And then there is a strange ringing that vibrates and rolls through the chamber. Raut begins to shake within Vrae’ree’s hand. Suddenly, the 4″ rod in Vrae’ree’s hand blurs for a moment as a second piece about 5″ long appears in thin air and then combines with the rod. The transformation takes mere seconds, literally the blink of an eye. Suddenly the 4″ rod was now 9″ long. It thrummed with power within the Drow Elf’s hand. The word “Coelum” echoed for just a moment within Vrae’ree’s thoughts.
Thaed and Kir’ok both stirred slightly. Their bodies spasmed and jerked a little as they faltered between unconsciousness and alertness. Fo and Deiter remained seemingly lifeless, not moving or making a sound.
The drumming and blasting of horns from somewhere deep below in the mountain continues, all the while the annoying hum of the Drakkhorn continues to sound. For the second time, a legion of echoing voices shout: “TIAMAT!”
“If the cult is summoning that queen of greed, someone needs to retrieve the crown.” Brune checked his unconscious fellows to see if he can help rouse them. He then has a look around, quietly, looking for clues.
Fo and Dieter have not moved or stirred. Thaed and Kir’ok returned to their seemingly unconscious state despite their previous moans and spasms. The drumming and blasting of horns continue from somewhere deep in the mountain. A third group cry of “TIAMAT!” sounded and then from somewhere above came a different legion of voices, these ones screeching as if in pain or ecstasy. “ASMODEUS!” they cried.
Deiter moaned softly, mumbling something about his warhorse.
Without warning, the entire chamber fell into darkness. At the same moment, the cool stone floor below you begins to shake.
… TO BE CONTINUED …