The day was off to a rough start. Our early encounter with the minotaurs was a clear sign that our presence at the Sacred Stone Monastery was now known to the inhabitants within. We needed to rest, there was no arguing with that – but with every moment that passed we risked the orb we sought slipping out of our grasps.
We decide to recoup in the study where we had taken the lives of four studious monks the day before. I could hardly stomach being there. Despite there being no trace of what horrors had occurred there the day before, I was haunted by the memory of it. I recall Traelle asking, “Do they have any weapons?” – it was a silly question, but now it brings a pang to my heart. No, of course they didn’t have weapons – at least not in the traditional sense, monks themselves are weaponized – but these monks were nose-deep in texts and unaware of the dangers that lurked behind them. Crimson blood flowed freely over the pages of parchment, mixing with the wet ink not yet dried. I shudder in recollection.
Looking at my companions, I know they are shaken by the mornings events, but we all appear to be fine. Surprisingly, Traelle seems in quite high-spirits. The fiery redhead had delivered the final blows to each minotaur and she was glowing with what was likely pride and adrenaline. Rinn is worse off by far as the battle took her armor. She’s wearing less than I am at this point, and even though she seems immune to the Earthspur’s frigid climate, she seems rather vulnerable standing there. Alatar was quick to shed himself of his own studded leather armor and offer it to Rinn in which she gladly accepted.
Whether because of her recently vulnerable state of undress or the unwelcome encounter with the minotaurs, Rinn takes to using her magicks to cast a common mage hand to check for traps and open doors for a little while. I notice that the armor Alatar has lent to Rinn fits her quite snuggly. In fact it seems uncomfortable, but she offers no complaint.
Moving from room to room, we soon come upon sleeping quarters with two warriors donned in familiar stone armor, and a monk. The residents were very alert as if they were waiting for us or at least anticipating unexpected guests. Despite this, Rinn is able to move quickly into the room and hit one of the warriors with such force that I could feel their embarrassment as I entered the room. Exchanging blows with one of the warriors I am thankful for the arrow that flies over my shoulder and lodges itself into my enemy. I start to feel sluggish and weak, my head is clouded – did they do something to me? Just then a tremor hits - Rinn is caught so unawares that she falls to the ground and the monk gets entangled in their own set of robes. How humiliating. Traelle takes the opportunity to dispose of the monk with one final blow. She’s fighting well today. I feel better, whatever effects I was feeling having worn off, and so I team up with Rinn to search the room. We find some gold, a couple of scrolls, and priestly vestments – all which we dump into the bag of holding. Though we did also find two bracelets that I asked Rinn to hold on her person. //THUD// Drak’thal is rubbing his head and Alatar is coughing up blood. What are they doing?
Thankful for our rogue, we follow Rinn through the halls and into rooms, trusting her aptitude in stealth and deception on these dangerous adventures.
In the next room, more sleeping quarters, Traelle, Drak’Thal, and I enter the room to see Rinn taking on a lone dwarf. Looks kind of big for a dwarf, but it definitely has dwarf characteristics…DAMMIT. One of the ugly bastards caught me unawares and I’m thankful yet again for the arrow that embeds itself into the dwarf-like creature from over my shoulder. Thank Alatar. That elf is skilled. I see Traelle take down another one of the creatures and I faintly hear the rogue say, “…they used to be tiny!” Nothing makes sense but I feel comforted by Drak’Thal. I know he must have bestowed me with some of his magicks. However, despite landing a flurry of blows, I can feel that I pinched a nerve and although it is not threatening simply annoying, I am hit hard and fall to the ground. I think I was unconscious, even if for a second, but I feel strong hands under my arms lifting me to my feet. Back at it, I feel useless as I only land one of my next four punches. Get it together, Thorunn. I see Rinn moving quickly between opponents. She sneaks up behind Traelle’s attacker and makes the kill, pivoting to finish off her own, and then she’s gone. Drak’thal, right beside me, performs one of his tricks and manages to drop a couple of dwarves all on his own. I stare down at the little one-eyed dwarf, mouth slightly ajar, as Traelle chops down the dwarf-deformity in front of me. That wasn’t a save. Lastly, Rinn – having reappeared across the room – delivers precise slashes from her blades…//THUD//
We require another short rest. This morning has been one battle after another and it’s truly testing my stamina. But there’s no time to waste and as soon as we catch our breath we continue. Alatar begins to radiate a black smoke that covers our presence allowing us to pass without a trace. We managed to waste precious time deciding whether to ambush the mess hall and therefore lost the chance to surprise the six monks that were dining within. The Keepers quickly and swiftly took care of the six monks as well as the two they found in the kitchen – though they lost a battle with a pot of hot soup.
Having successfully cleared the rest of floor we enter the last room to discover it empty except a large altar. There being a draft coming from under the altar and Drak’thal having found a lever, we quickly assemble ourselves for another battle. Upon pulling the lever with her mage hand, Rinn and I feel the ground beneath us tremble accompanied by the sounds of destruction. Well clearly that didn’t do what we thought it did. Asking for assistance, Traelle stands next to me as the Keepers make a concentrated effort to move the altar. Having approached the situation without much consideration it is no wonder that I, along with Traelle, fell 40 feet beneath the altar. I was so astonished to find myself falling forward headfirst into this hole in the ground that I failed to channel any mystic energy to slow my fall. Before I could dust the dirt from my robes I heard the heavy-breathing of what could only be a monster.
An umber hulk. Great.
It is immediately evident that the beast had been abused and mistreated for its claws had been ripped out. Seizing the opportunity, I raced towards the beast and delivered several blows before stepping back. I hoped to hit it without letting it hit me. Traelle looked at me before rushing the umber hulk, “Here we go.” Here we go? The redheaded warrior moved quickly, striking with great force over and over, however this only angered the beast who raged and took much of its anger out on me. I could hardly stand and felt my life-force draining with every passing moment. I considered for just a split-second summoning all my ki to make the jump back up to where the rest of my companions were. As the thought crossed my mind, from the skies a rope dropped into my field of vision. Blessed Keepers. I take it as a sign and begin my climb. Alatar shouts that he’s coming down. Confused, I reply that I’m coming up. Not far below me I see Traelle grip her sword and swing as hard as she can, sweeping the legs right from under the umber hulk and as it falls thick thorny vines spring from the earth and wrap around the beast. It’s been ensnared.
Alatar had dropped down into the cavern, followed by Rinn who whooshed past me. I guess we’re doing this. Here we go. I let go of the rope and join my companions, seeing Drak’Thal descending to join us as well. The paladin, ranger, rogue, and monk deliver attacks when they see the opportunity while dodging and disengaging to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Though clawless the beast is ferocious and even manages to cut the rope which Drak’thal dangles from. Preferring to be eaten whole while fighting than made a meal of dangling for the beast to feast on, the dwarf lets go of the rope and pulls out his mace coming down hard on the umber hulk. As one, the Keepers deliver blow after blow to the beast, but with a charge of lightening to his hammer and a swift smack across the umber hulk’s face, it is the dwarf who puts the beast to rest – all the while staring at his redheaded darling. No sooner had the beast breathed its last breath did the paladin say, “That thing was disabled.”
Our arduous morning was finally over but we needed much rest if we planned to continue forward. I sat to make a makeshift grappling hook and found my efforts to be mediocre at best. Drak’thal suggested I make the modest jump to the dangling rope above and tie another rope to it. A brilliant plan in its simplicity that it made me question my own mental and physical capabilities under the duress I had undergone that morning. Drak’thal perhaps only proposed this solution so he could get his hands on Traelle’s assets.
Having climbed our way out of the cavern we made our way back through the monastery and into the lich Renwick’s chambers where we felt we would be safer. Renwick confirmed that Marlos is alive; he proceeded to have a conversation with our ranger that led Alatar to believe that the underdark dwarves are working for Marlos as mercenaries.
There are many hours to go before we rest and even more before we can continue our pursuit of the third orb.