After dispatching the remaining guards blocking their way, the adventurers quickly took their leave of the chaos engulfing the town and moved into the tunnel system. Shattercock lead the group through a series of tunnels and caves over the next few days without incident. The quiet was a welcome reprieve for the adventurers as they tried to process the horrors they had seen in the town, and deal with the loss of their comrades. ShuShar and Ront were gone, and regardless of personal feelings towards them, they had been with the adventurers since they escaped the Drow prison and had fought alongside them. They would be missed.
As the adventurers emerged from a tunnel after several days of walking they found themselves staring out over a vast cavern covered in thick spider webs. The adventurers looked at the webs with hesitation as they remembered their escape from the Drow prison and the creatures that spun those webs. Before they could decide what to do they heard the sound of falling rocks to their left and quickly spun to see what had caused the noise. As they stared, two small red goblins climbed down the cave wall then approached the group cautiously.
The two goblins introduced themselves as Phlem and Stan and spoke with a beautiful accent that certain members of the group found pleasing. It quickly became clear that the goblins were not interested in conflict, but rather wanted to trade with the group. In exchange for gold coins, the goblins would show the group how to cross the chasm of webs and get them safely to the other side. While the group felt that this was a fair exchange, Syaiel decided that a show of strength was needed. Using his faye powers, Sayiel managed to intimate the goblins into guiding them for free. The obviously unhappy goblins produced some oil that they rubbed on their feet, passed it to the adventurers to do the same, then skated off on the webs.
As the adventures followed the goblins, they nervously glanced around for the signs of the creators of the webs they were skating over. The trek was not easy and some of the webs broke under their weight, pitching some of the group off balance, but luckily, none fell off. Soon, they encountered a spun cocoon on the webs with a pair of over sized feet poking out from it.
The group cut through the webbed cocoon and were surprised to find an unconscious halfling entombed within. As the webbing was removed, the halfing started to come to and introduced himself as Fargas Rumblefoot. Fargas eyed the adventurers with a suspicious eye but ultimately had to trust them as vicious bites to his legs had rendered them useless for the short term. Speaking of a treasure he was after, Fargas struck a deal with the adventurers: help him escape the webs and he would lead them to the riches. The deal was struck and soon everyone was off the webs and back on solid ground.
Phlem and Stan turned to the group and spat in their general direction, angry that they had been coerced into providing their services for free. Gabriel took sympathy on the goblins for they had been excellent guides across the webs so he through them some gold pieces for their efforts. The goblins looked surprised by this move; they thanked Gabriel before casting a weary eye at Sayiel and scrambling up the rocks and out of sight.
The group continued on through the caves until they came to an intersection where an eerie red glow spilled out into the tunnel. Some members of the group turned to look to see where this blood coloured light was coming from and saw a symbol painted on the rock. As Gabriel and Sayiel focused on the symbol to try to figure out its meaning, the horrid nature of it revealed itself. The symbol was of demonic origin and spoke of the presence of demons nearby but the twisting, unnatural lines of it were too much for the minds of Gabriel and Sayiel. Without a sound, Sayiel pitched forward face first into the ground and remained motionless; the horrid nature of the symbol overcoming his mental fortitude. As the group moved to Sayiel’s aid, they quickly started discussing what they should do. As options were discussed, they noticed that Gabriel had remained silent throughout the discussion. They turned and saw Gabriel standing upright, still gazing at the symbol, but as still as a statue. Ian tried to rouse Gabriel from his trance but was unable to get any response from him. Fortunately, Gabriel was still able to move so they gently guided him out of the cave intersection and away from the symbol to an adjacent cave where Sayiel was recovering.
Thankfully, both adventurers recovered from the effects of the symbol with no ill effects apparent. Sayiel was not able to recall what happened while Gabriel reported feeling a nagging sense of unease and uncertainty, as if something had partially eroded his resolve. The group decided to make camp for the night after the long day and assigned the normal watch shifts. As the majority of the party began to doze off, and Ian took the first watch, they heard a loud rumbling coming from down the tunnel from the direction of the symbol. As Ian looked down the tunnel he saw the horror that awaited him.
There lumbering aggressively towards them was a large, bipedal creature covered in fur with a mouth full of sharp teeth split into a wicked grin. It was obvious that this creature was out for blood, so a cry of alarm sounded through the group. Gabriel was on his feet instantly, having never been asleep in the first place. Then with reckless abandon, he charged the creature echoing his battle cry. Those that were up provided what ranged fire they could.
As Gabriel closed to melee range he took a swing at the large creature with his sword. To his horror, Gabriel’s sword struck only a glancing blow off the creatures thick fur causing it no discomfort. With a wicked grin, the creature quickly moved forward and clamped down on Gabriel’s torso with his massive jaws. The pain was immense; the blow crippling. As Gabriel reeled from the bite, the creature swung each of its massive fists at him. The first blow drove Gabriel to his knees while the second flattened him to the ground. The creature looked up from the still form of Gabriel and saw the rest of the adventurers on their feet and preparing to engage it in battle.
Those that could swing claw, sword and axe closed quickly with the creature and began to hack at it. The creature was strong and able to shrug off many of the blows, but some found their mark and did grave damage to it. The long range fire support continued to hammer at the creature, its fur being blown and scorched with magic while arrows became lodged in its hide.
The battle appeared to be going well until the creature put its hands together and muttered an ancient incantation. Across the tunnel, directly in the thick of the ranged adventurers, a cloud of smoke appeared. The smoke shimmered then solidified into a duplicate of the creature they were facing. The second creature had the same vicious grin as the first and moved in to attack.
Chaos had erupted all around the group, with everyone engaged in a desperate fight. As the ranged fighters ducked and weaved from under the blows of the clone of the creature, the melee fighters continued to hack at the original and were rewarded for their perseverance. The creature was strong, but the combined assaults of vicious claws, heavy axes, and sharp swords tore pieces from its thick hide. With a final wet gasp, the creature crumpled to the ground, black ichor streaming from its many wounds. Everyone turned to the duplicate of the creature, ready to wreck bloody vengeance on it but were amazed as it appeared to shimmer, then disappear into a cloud of smoke that blew away as if a gust of wind had taken it.
With the threat passed, the adventurers were able to take stock of the situation and realize what had happened. Eldeth told the group that they had fought a Barlgura; a vicious demon that possessed the ability to wield foul magics. As the group tended to Gabriel, they all realized just how deadly a foe they had faced and were lucky to have made it out alive. As Gabriel slowly rose to his feet, he gradually began to regain his strength and with a look of concentration, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Magically, Gabriel’s wounds closed while strength and vigor begin to flow through his body again. As Gabriel opened his eyes, he looked as healthy as before the fight with the Barlgura. The group tended to the rest of their wounds and wearily began to settle down again for the night, all the while casting nervous glances at the tunnel where they could faintly see an eerie red glow in the distance.