The Darkest Adventure

Dark Portents

After meeting with the great red dragon, the adventurers discussed amongst themselves where they should begin their hunt for the missing egg. Remembering the promise of a favour owed to them by the giants, the group set off to their camp to see if they could learn of anything of importance.

The group made their way back to the Blade Bazaar and came upon the entrance to the giant settlement where they were escorted in with little ceremony or hassle. As the group walked through the gate they saw the the settlement of the giants for the first time and witnessed the almost peaceful, simple existence they lived which seemed at odds with their sheer size.

The adventurers were lead to a cave where they were greeted by an older looking giant named Hgraam. Hgraam told them that he was the stone speaker of the tribe and interpreted the powerful words spoken to him by the earth all around. In the middle of the cave, the group gazed in awe as they witnessed Hgraam lift his large hands into the air and begin to tell the tale of the dark visions he had seen.

The earth had cried out in pain to Hgraam and spoke of dark horrors, violence, and chaotic change across the land. Hgraam claimed that the earth was almost twisting in agony from the dark magics that polluted it, causing tremors and earthquakes throughout the underdark. The stone speaker continued and warned of terrible omens such as bloody faces hovering in the air, mutations in the underdark inhabitants, and an ancient evil that was beginning to stir all around them.

Taking his hands down from the air, Hgraam looked at the group and told them to tread carefully wherever they went: the earth could tell him no more but what it did say deserved to be heeded. The adventurers nodded slowly for they had seen parts of this vision already come to pass, and more dark horrors undoubtedly awaited them all.

After asking the giant some more questions, the group bade him farewell and went back to the Blade Bazaar. Gabriel and Jaragorn were interested in purchasing some armor so they headed to the armorsmith to make their purchase. Similar to the store they had seen before, the shop was tended by a grey dwarf who again regarded them with some suspicion and curiosity. The shopkeepers concerns were soon smoothed over when the heroes produced their coin pounces and inquired about what they could purchase. With little haggling, Gabriel purchased a suit of onyx black plate mail and Jaragorn a set of studded leather armor.

Upon exiting the shop the group decided to track down the courier for the Grey Ghosts who was known to frequent the Blade Bazaar. Ian suggested that he go alone to try and track down the courier given that he may be thief as well. Agreeing with the halfling, the group stayed back and waited for Ian to make contact.

It did not take long for the gaudily dressed, humanoid rat to make an appearance. With discreet, calm moves, Ian navigated the crowd like a shark through the water and saddled up next to the little man rat. Speaking in thieves cant, Ian tried to strike up a conversation with the little man rat.

The little courier was startled to hear the strange language from behind him and quickly turned his head to see the source of the sounds. Seeing Ian staring right at him, the little rat man took off running the crowd, scurrying away through the packed streets. Ian took off after him but quickly began to lose ground on the swift little courier.

Gabriel had lost sight of Ian in the thick, busy crowd but spied a commotion occurring on the far end of the street; almost as if people were being shoved out of the way or had to avoid stepping on something. Breaking into a run, Gabriel and the rest of the adventurers headed into the direction of the disturbance and caught up to Ian who had almost lost sight of the little rat. There in the distance, they could still see him, but he suddenly turned a corner and then disappeared.

The group rounded the corner and found no trace of their quarry. Before them they saw a tunnel that lead into the ground below, and another street off to the side, but no sign of the little man rat. Mugwai then noticed some small tracks into leading into the tunnel that looked fresh and had been made by a small figure. Realizing that their pursuit would take them deeper underground, the group prepared themselves for what waited in the dark below, .

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Here There Be Dragons

After resting for the night, the adventurers discussed what their next move will be in the dwarven town. They agreed that they should visit the Blade Bazaar and visit Shattercock’s cousin the merchant to see if they could buy some new items.

The group made their way to the Blade Bazar and soon found themselves immersed in a sea of various races moving about the busy shopping area. Everywhere they looked they saw merchants selling things that ranged from the mundane to the exotic. The Bazaar was teeming with people so it was easy for the adventurers to blend in and avoid detection.

As they moved through the bustling streets, Jaragorn noticed out of the corner of his eye a small, humaniod rat dressed in gaudy clothing with a wide brimmed hat. As loudly as the rat was dressed, he strangely seemed to be acting like he did not want to be noticed. With quick, sudden movements the rat disappeared behind a corner and was gone from sight.

The group found Shattercock’s cousin’s store and went inside. As they opened the wooden door, they stepped into a small but well stocked store kept clean and tidy. An older dwarf was seated behind the counter and eyed them with suspicion as they walked in. “What do you lot want? Not from around here are you?” the old dawrf said with a slight edge of malice in his voice.

The group quickly explained that they had saved Shattercock from certain death during a depraved ritual and escorted him to Graklestugg. In appreciation of their efforts, Shattercock had told them to visit his cousin and ask for the “special merchandise”.

The old dwarf relaxed his guard a little and then moved over to a bookcase and pulled on a single book. An audible click rang out and the bookcase fell backwards to reveal another room. The old dwarf motioned for them to follow him in.

Once in the other room the adventurers laid their eyes on a wide assortment of magical weapons and items. The old dwarf explained some of the fantastical treasures he had for sale if the group wanted to buy any.

After much browsing, haggling, and decision making, the group left with an assortment of various magical weapons and items. Jaragorn and Gabriel had to sell their beloved death crab to afford some of the items and as they left the store, they cast one last look over the shoulders at Pinchy in his new home.

As the adventurers made their way back onto the street they heard a loud bang followed by an even louder roar. Spinning on their heels, the group turned and saw a massive two headed giant barge through a gate, swinging wildly at whatever was in its reach. A group of dawrven guards quickly encircled the raging behemoth and magically grew to twice their normal height. The giant lashed out at them, swatting them away.

Unsure of what to do, the adventurers paused for a moment and watched the carnage unfold. The giant appeared to be confused, almost frightened, but the havoc it was causing was considerable. Deciding that the destruction it was causing had to stop the group leaped into action. Gabriel charged at the giant and managed to land a blow with his new magical sword. From afar, Jaragron and Ian rained arrows down on the beast as it continued to swing wildly,.

As the fight wore on, the giant started to suffer terrible wounds that began to take its toll. As Gabriel dodged a blow from one of its massive fists, he saw the look of panic on the giants face, but there was no malice there. The giant would not last much longer with the onslaught from the adventurers and the guards.

Gabriel shouted to his comrades to not kill the beast, but try to stun it. Jaragorn rushed in to try to subdue the beast, but it managed to wildly swing and hit him with a massive blow, sending him to his knees.

Just as the giant was to about to be killed by the guards, Gabriel managed to deliver a mighty blow to its head with the flat of his sword. In its weakened state, the giant gave a loud groan and toppled to the ground, unconscious.

Before the guards could finish it off, a loud “NO!” rang out through the streets and a second giant appeared, more feminine that the first, and flung itself on the unconscious beast. The second giant looked up at the adventurers and told them that this was her son and that she was extremely grateful to them for sparing his life. The mother giant promised that they would be rewarded, and then turned to the guards saying that she would handle her son as per an agreement they had.

Before the adventurers could ask what happened, a group of Drow appeared from behind and claiming ownership over them. The adventurers assumed a fighting stance, ready to die on their feet before being dragged back to the Drow prison. More dwarven guards appeared and encircled both groups and told them all to lay down their weapons. With not much choice, the adventurers did so, as well as the Drow. For what felt like twentieth time in as many weeks, the adventurers were lead to a jail cell and confined there.

In the cell, the adventurers met a half elf named Mugwai who said that he had been thrown into the prison as well by the guards for reasons he did not know. Before much more information could be exchanged, guards showed up and escorted them all out to meet with their leader.

The adventures were marched into an office, flanked all around by the dwarven guards. Seated in a chair was their leader, Errde Blackskull. Blackskull eyed the group of adventures up and down and scowled at them. The Drow were claiming ownership over the group, but Blackskull was in no rush to give them over seeing as how she hated the dark elves herself. Blackskull saw an opportunity here, a way to use the adventures as pawns and just as the idea crossed her mind, a member of a religious order walked in and whispered something in her ear. The scowl on Blackskull’s face deepened as she was given the news. Blackskull turned to the adventurers and made them a deal: go with this priest, Gartokkar, and do what he commanded and she was see to it that they did not return with the Drow. With little choice in the matter, the group accepted and followed the priest out.

The priest explained that he needed the adventurers help with a dragon. The dragon was a integral part to maintaining the operation of the city, but it had become old and cantankerous. The priest was part of an order devoted to serving the dragon, the Order of the Flame.

After a long walk, the adventurers found themselves in front of a massive cave. The priest told them to enter while he waited outside. The group entered the cave and saw a faint orange glow at the end so they kept walking and soon came across a monstrous, giant red dragon perched on top of a pile of gold and treasure.

Instinctively, Jaragon’s hands went to his bow and were about to draw it to fire an arrow at the beast, his hatred of dragons strong enough to override any other thought in his mind. Gabriel saw the action and quickly laid a calming hand on Jaragorn’s shoulders and with a look in his eye, pleaded for him to not do anything right now. With visible effort, Jaragorn relaxed his grip on his bow but continued to stare at the dragon with hate and malice in his eyes.

Amazingly, the dragon did not seem to notice this subtle act of aggression,or maybe he did not care. After all, what could a band of adventurers to a being as great and powerful as him? The dragon eyed the group as one would eye vermin scattering across the floor and then spoke with a voice filled with age, arrogance, and power.

The dragon said its name was Themberchaud and that he had a mission for this pathetic group. The dragon knew that the order that served it had a plan to replace him with another younger dragon. Themberchaud wanted the adventurers to act as its agents and find the other dragon egg and report back to him. Deciding that he was down speaking, the ancient dragon turned in its spot and nestled down on its pile of riches to sleep peacefully while the adventures did its dirty work for it.

The group left the cave and encountered the priest. The priest wanted to know what the dragon had said and was suspicious of the group. Ian managed to deftly deceive the priest and palate him with his smooth words. The priest seemed to believe this lie and explained that they had devised a plan to install a new, younger dragon in its place; one that would be much more easier to control. Unfortunately, the dragon egg had been stolen and they needed the adventurers to find it, but first they must enter the dragon’s good graces and earn its trust.The priest begrudgingly gave the adventurers a lead on where to start looking for the egg and the seal of his order to show that they represented the priesthood and had its full authority,.

The group marched back to the city with their tasks in hand, hoping that what they had gotten themselves into was better than the dark dungeons of the Drow.

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Now You See Me

As the group of adventurers sailed across the dark, murky water, they gazed off into the horizon and saw the faint glow of the town they were trying to reach. The city appeared to be a dull, hazy smudge throughout the inky blackness of the underdark providing little sign of hope or optimism. Even as the only source of light as far as the eye could see, it still seemed to be a bleak place that was not welcoming to outsiders.

As the boats pulled up to the docks that they hoped were deserted, the adventurers saw what looked to be a fight happening on the wharf. A grey dawrf was being besieged on all sides by others of a similar hide, yet dressed very different to the modest garb he was wearing. It was obvious that this lone grey dwarf would not last long against his assailants as they continued to strike at him from multiple angles.

The adventurers positioned themselves in the boat; melee in the front; ranged in the back. As the boat pulled alongside the wharf they sprang into action. Gabriel and Ian leaped from the bow and charged at the strangely covered assailants while Jaragorn remained in the boat and began to rain arrows on them from afar.

With the attention focused on the lone grey dwarf, the assailants did not immediately see the adventurers charging them. Gabriel engaged one of the assailants and delivered a mighty blow, but amazingly they seemed to ignore him and continue trying to attack the grey dwarf. Even as Ian landed decisive blows to the assailants, they remained fixated on the dwarf.

The assailants fixation on the grey dwarf proved to be their downfall as the adventurers quickly tore them apart with little effort. As the dust settled, the group turned to the grey dwarf and asked him his name and what had happened. The grey dwarf responded that his name was Werz Saltbaron and that he was a merchant in this town. Saltbaron thanked the adventurers for their assistance but did not know why he was the target of such an attack. Saltbaron recognized the assailants as for hire assassins, but why they were after him was a mystery. Ian searched through the pockets of the assassins and found a piece of paper with Saltbaron’s face on it, which appeared to be a kill order of some kind. Saltbaron thanked the group again for the assistance and suggested that they visit his shop the next day. Then without warning, the grey dwarf walked off and disappeared in front of their eyes. Astonished, all the adventurers could do was stare in awe at the spot where the dwarf had been.

Suddenly, another dwarf materialized out of thin air and confronted the group. It was the city guard and there had been reports of a disturbance here. The guard eyed the adventurers suspiciously and asked what they were doing in the city. Ian and Gabriel tried to convince them that they were here on innocent business but the guard was not buying it. As the guards skepticism grew, more grey dwarfs dressed in the same uniform of the guard began to materialize and surround the group. Sensing that they were running out of options, Ian quickly took the head guard aside and explained what they were really doing there. As Ian talked, he discretely passed the guard a sword hoping to avoid any further confusion. The lead guard smiled slyly at Ian and told him that they could go but that he would be watching them closely and for them to not make any trouble. As suddenly as they had appeared, the guards vanished leaving the group again by themselves on the dock.

The adventurers concealed their boats as best they could then proceeded south towards the merchant district. Given that it was late in the night, they agreed to find a place to rest until morning and their browse the local wares. Within short order they found the hotel they were looking for and stepped inside.

The inside of the hotel was dark, hazily lit, but warm. It was filled with people quietly talking with each other which created a low murmur throughout the large eating area. The adventurers made their way to the bar and rented a room for the night while also purchasing a meal. Gabriel approached two dwarves at a bench and sat down with them to find out more information.

While chatting with the dwarves, Gabriel learned that more monstrous outbreaks had occurred in other towns throughout the area much like what had claimed the life of their friend ShuShar. Reports of hideous demi-gods rising from the depths were starting to crop up throughout the land. Gabriel thanked the dwarves for this information and quickly stepped back to his group explaining what he had heard. It seemed that whatever horrors they had experienced in ShuShar’s town were not isolated to there and that the nightmare was quickly spreading throughout the land.

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Setting Sail

After the grueling fight with the demon, the adventurers wearily decided to make camp for the night in order to rest and recover their strength. As the camp fire was lit and everyone took their spot around it, some of the adventurers started to speak candidly about their past. Sensing where the conversation was going, Ian Cognito melted away into the shadows out of sight.

Ian’s disappearance did not go unnoticed by some of the party. In a calm, level voice, Gabriel spoke aloud to the whole cavern and asked Ian if he would join the group and share some of his past. At this point, they had all been through so much together, members of the group wanted to know who it was they were fighting alongside.

A few minutes wore on and there was still no sign of Ian until the group heard a polite cough behind them and turned to find the Halfling perched on a rock. Ian looked at the group and decided to share some of his past history with them. Ian described himself as a thief and had trusted the wrong people in the past which had lead to great hardship for him. This caused him to be very weary of trusting others but given all they had been through up to this point, Ian was begrudgingly beginning to have some faith in his companions. Ian then tossed a green bracelet back to Gabriel with a sly smile and wink. Gabriel examined the bracelet and realized that it was one that was supposed to be in his backpack. As he slowly returned the bracelet to his backpack, Gabriel realized just how stealthy the Halfling could be.

After resting for the night, the group carried on through the tunnels with Shattercock leading the way. A few days had passed when the adventurers encountered a small cave with a curious patch of brown moss growing in one side. As they neared the moss the air became bone chilling cold, almost to the point of freezing their flesh. The strange moss seemed to be producing this cold, and incredibly, would quickly grow towards any heat source. Gabriel tried to move past the moss but ventured too close and found his flesh quickly frostbitten. The cold was immense and almost overwhelming, but Gabriel’s firm resolve helped him resist the pain. Learning from his mistakes, the group cautiously moved past the moss with as much distance between it and them as possible.

A while later, the group encountered a lake that Shattercock recognized as being close to the town and let the group know they had two options for entering: they could proceed through the main gate and run the risk of being captured by slavers, or arrive via both through the docks, allowing them to slip in more quietly. The group quickly agreed to enter via the docks but the lack of aquatic transportation was an issue. Nearby giant mushrooms could be carved into boats, but they were not large enough to carry everyone. Discouraged yet still determined, the group set off down the shoreline hoping to find another method of crossing the water.

About an hour after leaving the giant mushrooms, the group came across some dwarven fishermen who were tying up their boats. One of these boats, in combination with the giant mushrooms would provide enough space for all of them to cross. Ian strode up to the dwarves and proceeded to barter with them over their boats. The Halfling was a shrewd negotiator and with some uncanny skill, managed to bargain with one of the dwarves to purchase his boat for an undisclosed amount of coins. With a boat secured, the group began to carve out some rough canoes from the giant mushrooms and began to make ready to enter the city where the threat of slavery awaited.

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Heed the Signs

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.

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He Waits in the Dark Below

The adventurers discussed their next move after Ploopploopeen left them in the house. While they were all exhausted from their near capture and travel, they knew that the next day would be challenging with disrupting the ritual so they decided to prepare themselves first before resting. It was agreed that they would browse the shops Ploopploopeen spoke of to see if they had any useful items so they set out for the southern part of the town.

The group arrived at a small shop owned by a pleasant Kuo-toa who bid them welcome upon entering. Browsing through the wares, the adventurers found that there was little of interest in the store; just bone and fish scale based weapons and armor. While some of the group picked up basic supplies, most opted not to spend their coin on the merchant’s wares so they made for the door. As they were about to leave, the Kuo-toa store owner offered them one last item for sale: a death crab!

The store owner placed a five pound crab on the counter for the group to see, and introduced it as a Death Crab. Skittering back and forth, the crab had tiny blindfolds on each of its eye stalks and bands placed over its claws preventing them from opening. Skeptical, the group did not believe that such a thing was a threat and asked for a demonstration. The store owner was adamant that you could not remove its blindfolds lest it wreak terrible havoc upon them. As the group made ready to leave, the store owner lowered the price on the death crab. In a fit of whimsy, Gabriel and Jaragorn agreed to purchase the crab and gave the owner some gold pieces. The store owner happily accepted their coins and placed the death crab in a basket. Gabriel and Jaragorn named their new companion Pinchy and set out from the store back to the home they had been assigned.

Arriving back at the home, the adventurers decided to finally bed down for the night and began to assign watch shifts. As they were discussing who would take what shifts, Ian Cognitio disappeared from the group and appeared a short time later. Members of the group noticed this and grew suspicious of the halfing and wondered what he had been up to. Eventually everyone bedded down for the night and the group managed to sleep uninterrupted.

Ploopploopeen came the next day and gathered the adventurers for the upcoming task. The plan was simple: proceed to the ritual sacrifice and disrupt it while it was taking place to discredit the arch-priestess of the dark father. Ian Cognito suggested that he travel alone and watch the proceedings from a distance to provide ranged support if needed. It was reluctantly agreed that the halfing should do this and he once again vanished from sight. Ploopploopeen lead the group towards the shrine of the deep father and the fate that awaited them all.

The adventurers rounded a corner and finally saw the shrine to the deep father. Where the shrine to the sea mother was an actual statue with material offerings placed around it with reverence, this shrine was an altar to slaughter and gore. The shrine itself was constructed from what appeared to be the stretched skin of a sea animal tented on long bleached bones. Underneath this skin canopy was the carcass of a manta ray that seemed to have been stretched and twisted into a purpose, but what for what was not entirely clear. To top off the idol were two dead octopi, tied together at the head, with their tentacles artfully pinned down. By far the most disturbing aspect of the shrine was the stench; a miasma of spoiled meat, decayed flesh, and rot hung in the area like a suffocating blanket. The adventurers had to fight back a wave a nausea as they approached the shrine to the deep father and steeled themselves for what was to come.
Ploopploopeen led the adventurers to the shrine and greeted his daughter, the arch priestess, offering the adventurers as the next sacrifice to the deep father. The arch-priestess looked them over and approved of the sacrifice and commanded they be led to a holding cell. An armed group of Kuo-toa marched the adventurers to another home that had been turned into a cell of sorts. With little discussion, the group was placed in the home and made to wait as the time of the ritual drew near.

The group were not alone in the house however. There crouched in a corner was a gray dwarf who eyed them with suspicion. With some caution, the group asked the dwarf what his name was and why he was here. The gray dwarf said that his name was Nosebleed Shattercock and he as a merchant who had been captured by the Kuo-Toa as well for the sacrifice. Shattecock proposed a bargain to the group: help him escape and he would lead them to his city and away from this wretched place. The group mulled this option over and while they regarded the dwarf with suspicion, Jaragron graciously gave him a short sword and told him to prepare himself for the battle ahead. The gray dwarf happily accepted the sword and nodded his agreement. Soon, the armed Kuo-Toa arrived and escorted the group back to the shrine of the deep father.

The group was arranged on a series of grates suspended over the dark waters of the dark lake, surrounded by a large crowd of Kuo-Toa onlookers. Some of the adventurers looked down and saw the grates were covered with dry blood, with pieces of flesh and offal stuck to them as well. It seemed that the grates were designed to allow blood to seep down into the dark waters below; a gift for something of the deep.

The arch-priestess addressed the crowd in her native Kuo-Toa language. No wanting to draw attention to himself, Stool did not release his spores so the adventurers were not able to understand what was going on but it was obvious the crowd of Kuo-Toa were growing passionate with every spoken word. The adventurers looked around and began to grow nervous. Ploopploopeen said they would see a sign from him on when to attack but so far he seemed complacent in the ritual to the dark father. Time was running out.

Ploopploopeen stood in front of the crowd and spoke some words that stirred their passions even more. The mood of the crowd was now crackling with energy and something was going to happen soon. Ploopploopeen finished his address and stepped back to allow his daughter to come forward and say some more words. As the arch-priestess stepped in front of Ploopploopeen, he somehow managed to produce a large fish bone fashioned into a gargantuan club. The adventures were momentarily stunned as to how Ploopploopeen had managed to conceal such a large weapon on his person, but they quickly snapped back to focus as they saw him raise the club over his head and mercilessly bring it down over the head of his own daughter. Not once, but in two vicious blows.

The arch-priestess was brought to her knees by the massive blows to the skull and the crowd erupted into violence. Kuo-toa began to fight Kuo-toa using whatever they could manage to turn into a weapon with no attention paid to the adventurers. The adventurers looked around and quickly decided that the safest place, however revolting it may be, was with the shrine to deep father at their backs so they swiftly moved there.

As they approached the shrine, the arch-priestess had managed to crawl towards it and brace herself against it. The blows Ploopploopeen delivered had left her stunned and unaware of what was going on around her. Sensing that she was the source of this evil, the adventurers closed ranks on her and decided to end the threat. All around them the Kuo-Toa were butchering each other, their spilled blood draining into the dark waters below which had begun to bubble and froth from the appearance of some sinister creatures.

The adventures attacked the arch-priestess hoping to end her rule. Magic and steel tore into her, weakening her life considerably. Gabriel then moved in to end the evil of sacrificing living beings for some foul god and swiftly plunged his sword into the back of her neck delivering a killing blow. The arch-priestess jerked violently as the sword was pulled from her neck and a fountain of blood burst from the wound with incredible force. The blood soaked the stretched manta ray and revealed its sinister purpose. The arch-priestess’s blood drained down the body of the manta ray into a hole in the floor of the shrine into the dark waters below. As the last breath escaped her lips the waters 60 feet from the shore began to violently roll and crash. All eyes turned towards the churning water just as a massive figure burst from the inky black water, finally revealing the horror of the deep father for all to see.

The beast that burst from the water was the stuff of nightmares: a 30 foot tall creature with the heads of two babboons fused onto a roughly humanoid body with arms that ended in multiple tentacles. The beast’s eyes glowed a fiery red as it eyed everyone on the shore and let loose a roar that shook the very foundations of the buildings on the shore. With primordial rage and hate in its eyes, the beast began making its way towards the shore.

The mere presence of the creature was enough to drive all those on shore delirious into madness. Most of the adventurers managed to maintain their sanity as they gazed at the beast, but not all were so fortunate. Ront threw his head back with a roar and dove into the fighting Kuo-Toa with uncontrolled blood-lust. Just as they saw Ront disappear into the fighting they heard a cry of madness to their right and the group turned to see their friend Shuushar succumb to the effects of the beast. Their normally jolly, good natured friend and turned into a raving beast both in mind and body. As they watched in horror, a third arm spontaneously sprouted from Shuushar’s body which seemed to cause him no pain. Instead, Shuushar wildly jumped into the Kuo-Toa fight, picking up a severed arm to use as a club to begin beating to death one of his kin. All around, the Kuo-Toa began to violently mutate with some growing new limbs, other had their eyes burst in the sockets, and some just opened like an overripe fruit with their guts spilling over the grates.

The adventures looked around and tried to make sense of the situation. All around them the Kuo-Toa were enthralled in an orgy of blood, violence and carnage as they tore each other limb from limb while chanting: “Lee-Mo-Goo-Goon!”. Ploopploopeen had not moved from the spot where he clubbed the arch-priestess and was cackling manically. The nightmare from the sea was making steady progress towards the shore and would make landfall soon. While some members of the group wanted to stay and fight the beast, Eldeth recognized the beast as Demigorgon, a foul God of the underworld. Regardless of the hate and disgust they felt towards this foul beast, Eldeth was adamant that there was nothing they could do and to fight it now would be to die in futility. With great reluctance the group looked one more time at Demigorgon and then broke from the chaos.

The adventurers quickly departed the sea of madness and made their way to the edges of the Kuo-Toa city meeting up with Ian Cognito on the way. The Halfling did not look stable as he had a slack look on his face, with a small amount of drool at the corner of his mouth. Ian kept glancing over his shoulder in the direction of the arisen abomination muttering incomprehensible words softly. It was obvious that his mind was not able to handle the horror of what had just transpired and it had affected him deeply. The group eyed the Halfling again with suspicion as to what he had been up to while they were about to be sacrificed but were not able to ask him as they suddenly rounded a corner and found themselves face to face with a group of armed Kuo-Toa. The armed Kuo-Toa had the same look of madness as those on the beach and rushed the group of adventurers. Wasting no time, the adventurers drew their own weapons and met the armed Kuo-Toa in combat. While the armed guards were no doubt formidable opponents, they were no match for the adventurers. Jaragorn once again rained steel on them from afar while Sayiel blasted them apart with bolts of magical energy, blowing one guard to pieces. Gabriel took the brunt of their attacks on his shield while also dispatching some with his sword. Soon the mad guards were dead and the group decided to make for Shattercock’s town of Gracklstugh, wanting to put as much distance between them and this forsaken Kuo-toa town that had awakened a dark nightmare.

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Of Fish and Friends

After vanquishing the herd of fire beetles, the adventures set off down the winding tunnel once again seeking an escape from the Underdark. Two days of uneventful travel passed before they found the tunnel opening onto what appeared to be a beach that gently sloped into an underground lake. The group was cautious and fanned out from the mouth of the tunnel and checked the immediate area for danger but found none.

After securing the area, Shuushar exclaimed that he was familiar with this lake and that the group was only one days travel from his home. The adventurers agreed to get some rest first before heading out again so they moved back into the tunnel so that they were not exposed in the open while they rested. Gabriel and Jaragorn took first watch and hoped for an uneventful night but it was not to be.

Shortly after bedding down, Gabriel and Jaragorn heard the sound of something moving on the water but could not make out what it was due to the darkness. Quickly, the two sentries woke the rest of the group and asked Shuushar to use his dark vision to see out onto the lake.

ShuShar stepped out onto the beach and was greeted with an incredible sight. A handful of boats were beaching themselves and out stepped other Kuo-Toa similar to Shuushar, eight in total. Shuushar’s mood quickly became jubilant at the site of his kin and he happily waved to them thinking salvation had found them.

It had not.

One of the Kuo-Toa stepped from the pack and was clearly the leader. The leader of the newly landed Kuo-Toa viciously fish slapped Shuushar across the face, without a word. ShuShar was spun around on the spot and crumpled into a senseless heap on the beach.

During all of this, the rest of the adventurers had watched the newly arrived Kuo-Toa wearily and as soon as ShuShar was felled they sprang into action. Even though it was dark, the adventurers charged from the tunnel entrance to help their friend.

A vicious melee broke out between the Kuo-Toa and the adventurers. The Kuo-Toa soon made their intentions clear: they were not interested in slaughter but instead wanted to take everyone captive as they threw large, heavy nets at the adventurers.

Those of the group that had closed the distance to fight with sword and axe soon quickly found themselves restrained in the large, heavy nets; unable to move or fight. The ranged adventurers tried as best they could to strike from afar but the smothering darkness made it difficult to pick a target.

Seeing the disadvantage poised to his comrades by the darkness, Sayiel muttered an ancient incantation and soon the whole area was bathed in an eldritch light that illuminated all the Kuo-Toa and their captives. With renewed purpose, the ranged adventurers began to pick their targets and rain steel and sorcery on them.

Those that were restrained tried to free themselves from the nets but it was difficult. Gabriel managed to cut through a portion of his net and partially escape but enough of it still clung to his armor to impede his movement. Seeing his prize about to escape, the leader of the Kuo-Toa leaped onto Gabriel and tackled him to the ground.

Soon it became obvious that the tide of the battle had turned to the favour of the Kuo-Toa, as those adventurers restrained in the nets were dragged towards their waiting boats and an unspeakable fate. Ian Cognito had been a blur of shadow and steel through the melee but one of the Kuo-toa managed to single him out and throw a spear at him, viciously wounding the halfling. Jaragorn saw Gabriel’s plight and fired an arrow at the Kuo-Toa leader just as Gabriel threw him clear. The arrow struck the leader in the shoulder and enraged him. With fury in his eye, the Kuo-Toa leader vented his rage on Gabriel, biting and striking him while he was still restrained in the shreds of the net. Helpless, Gabriel was struck down by the leader and lay still on the ground, bleeding from multiple wounds.

Just as all seemed lost, a second group of Kuo-Toa joined the fight and began to strike at the would be captors. The adventurers did not know what to make of these new fighters: were they friend of foe? As if sensing this was when he was needed most, Stool waddled out from the tunnel entrance and blanketed the area with this spores, imparting the gift of understanding amongst everyone.

This new group of Kuo-Toa were indeed friends and lead by Ploopploopeen the arch priest and they were indeed there to help the adventurers. With this new help, the adventurers managed to free themselves from the nets and strike down their original Kuo-Toa would be captors.

As the battle raged on Sayiel saw Gabriel near death on the beach with the Kuo-Toa leader standing over him. With no thought to his own well being, Sayiel ducked and weaved through to battle and knelt beside Gabriel. Once again muttering an incantation, Sayiel laid his hands on Gabriel and the latter’s bleeding quickly subsided. Gabriel had been stabilized for now but was still badly hurt.

Soon the Kuo-Toa captors were slain. Ploopploopeen saw the damage that was wrought and channeled ancient magics to heal the injured adventurers. Wearily they rose to their feet and met their saviors, suspicious of what had transpired. Ploopploopeen told them that in his village a religious war had broken out between the followers of the Sea Mother and those who worshiped the Deep Father. Ploopploopeen was a devotee of the Sea Mother but his own daughter had defected and now served the Deep Father. Ploopploopeen spoke of the horrific sacrifices being made in the name of the Deep Father and how it has corrupted his home. Ploopploopeen promised the adventurers many shinies if they could help him disrupt his daughter’s sacrifice and discredit the Deep Father. Indebted to Ploopploopeen and his warriors, the adventurers agreed to help and made their way to the town.

After arriving in the Kuo-Toa town and paying tribute at a statue of the Sea Mother, Ploopploopeen instructed the adventurers to remain in the southern portion of the town while they rested. Some shops existed that may have wares the adventurers were interested in and they should explore them if they wished. Wearily, the group discussed their next moves as the shadow of the Deep Father loomed over them all in the Kuo-Toa town.

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Don't Feed the Wildlife

Once again the group woke in the dark below and wearily got to their feet. They trudged on through the caves hoping that at some point they would escape the underdark.

As Gabriel rounded a corner the wall next to him appeared to come to life and large tentacles suddenly whipped towards him. Blocking the first swiping tentacle, Gabriel saw that it was not the wall that had come to life, instead it was a rocktopus that was hungry for a meal. With a warcry the group engaged the rocktopus and quickly slaughtered the beast taking only a few bruises and scraps from the fight.

After finishing scraping bits of rocktopus from their weapons the group continued their trek through the cave system all the while casting a weary eye on the walls. It was not long before a noxious smell began to permeate the area and more than one stomach began to turn at the stench.

Ian rounded a corner and saw the source of a smell: pools or gurgling, putrid slime had concentrated in an area and the gas it gave off was almost overpowering. Ian was about to turn and leave when he spied a treasure chest in the middle of the slime pools. No respectful adventurer can resist treasure so the halfling cautiously approached the treasure chest and inspected it. The chest appeared to be normal with no obvious traps so Ian opened it slowly hoping to get a glimpse of the treasure inside.

Without warning, tentacles shot out of the treasure chest and latched onto the halfing. This was not a treasure chest but a mimic! Ian let loose a cry that caused the rest of the group to quickly run to his aid trying not to be overcome by the noxious fumes.

It took the combined might of the group but they managed to remove the mimic from Ian and slay it. With no treasure to be found the group once again slowly trudged on until they came to another cave that looked like a suitable place to rest for the night. The group once again bedded down for the night and tried to rest.

Unlike past nights, this night proved to be eventful. Jaragorn was on watch when he noticed a faint glow coming down the cave system from the direction the group had come. Waking some members of the group with a shout, Jaragorn readied his arrows and watched as the light sources came into view.

Twelve fire beetles marched down the tunnel towards the group, seemingly oblivious to their presence. Taking no chances, Jaragorn fired an arrow into a beetle which pierced its carapace, dispatching the skittering beast. Gabriel was on his feet and stood in the doorway to the group’s cave and became the wall that the fire beetles would not pass. Sayiel used his magic to put a handful of the beetles to sleep out in the hall while the rest tried to get into the cave at the adventures.

The beetles proved to be no match for our intrepid adventurers as they were all quickly slain with little effort. After the brief fight the group returned to slumber and awoke in the morning different than the night before.

Once again, a sense of renewed confidence began to fill the weary limbs of the adventurers as old forgotten skills came slowly back to them. Fighting techniques were remembered, skills relearned, and the incantations for powerful spells were spoken with more confidence. The adventurers were getting stronger with each passing day and the underdark would not be able to hold them for much longer.

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Against the Flow

As Glabbagool lead the way, the group of adventurers warily walked down the narrow pathway ahead while keeping a close eye on their new gelatinous companion. As they rounded a corner they were suddenly attacked by another pile of grey ooze that rounded the corner. Like those that came before, the ooze was quickly dispatched and its remnants were splashed across the cave wall.

After much walking the group came across three distinct tunnels entrances. Cautiously, the halfling crept down each of the tunnels to investigate what was in each. Thanks to his keen eyes, Ian was able to spot suspicious looking tiles on the floor that no doubt were traps in disguise. When he emerged on the other side, Ian found that all three tunnels lead to single room with a fountain. After surveying the scene, Ian returned to the group and reported on what he saw. It was agreed that those who were able to jump over the trapped floor tiles would venture down to the fountain room to investigate. Armed with this knowledge members of the the group ventured down into a tunnel while avoiding the trapped tile.

Or so they thought.

As Sayiel jumped the tile he landed just short of safety and his back foot crashed into the trapped tile. The tile crumbled instantly and as Sayiel regained his footing on solid ground, a huge black pulsating mass of goo shot forth from the hole in the floor, clinging to the ceiling and surrounding walls.

Sayiel shouted a warning to the group and tried to put as much distance between himself and black ooze as possible. The sickly black mass had now completely emerged from the trap and was beginning to slide down the hallway towards the group.

Gabriel moved to confront the mass and bare its advance down the halls while Jaragorn rained arrows on it from afar. Sayiel turned and began hurling bolts of eldritch energy at monstrosity when Ian turned the corner and saw the horror they were facing. The halfing had a look of shock on his face when he recognized the black goo as no ordinary pile of ooze; it was a black pudding!

While the group continued to fight the black pudding on one side of the broken floor tile, Gront appeared at the opposite end and witnessed the fierce fight that had broken out. Rage and frustration had been building in the Orc over the past while and this was the chance to let loose his fury on a valid target. With a roar, the Orc jumped the tile and began attacking the pudding. In short order, the group managed to best the black pudding leaving little evidence in the area that it had ever existed.

The group then moved on to the fountain room and saw a strange sight: there in the middle of a room stood a fountain with a destroyed statue perched on top of it. Where the once stood a majestic statue now only clawed feet remained. As the group surveyed the room, they found three grey oozes suspended in the air like pillars all in the corner of the room. Sayiel reached out with his mind and detected traces of magic in the air similar to the ruptures they had encountered earlier in the caves.

The group searched the room and Gabriel found a pile of treasure in the room that consisted of a healing potion, gold pieces, oil, and a dagger which he generously shared with this comrades.

After the loot was distributed the group searched the fountain room and found nothing of interest outside of the suspended oozes so they backtracked to another side room. There again was an empty space, but there in the ceiling was a small crack with water rushing down from it. As the group gazed at this waterfall they realized that the cave system was beginning to fill with water and that time was not on their side.

Discussions were had on how to get out of this cave system and it was decided that the suspended oozes may hold the secret to their escape so members of the group returned to the fountain room. The stasis was interrupted and the oozes were slain but nothing happened. Finally the decision was made to try a last ditch effort as the water was steadily rising.

The group returned to the waterfall room and prepared themselves. Sayiel hurled bolts of magic at the rocks above, splintering and fracturing them from the ceiling. As the rocks fell from above, more water rushed in but the group would not be deterred. Sayiel continued his barrage and the hole widened and the water rushed in with thunderous force. Fortunately, Jaragorn had the foresight to recommend that everyone hold onto a rope so that they would not get separated when the water poured in. The idea proved to be sound as the group was able to swim against the current and into the room above but not everyone was lucky. Without a sound, Glabbagol was swept away by the water.

The group emerged in the room above and exited the water. Exhausted, they bedded down for the night and tried to recover their spent strength.

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Friends in Low Places

The group woke from their fitful sleep in the mushroom cave and gradually began to assemble themselves. As they rose and stretched, distant memories began to resurface and forgotten knowledge was remembered. The feel of their equipment in their hands again helped bring dormant skills to the surface and some began to swing their weapons with renewed confidence. Sayiel, Gabriel, Ian, and Jaragorn found that they remembered some of the old training that had been displaced by memories of their cruel time in the Drow dungeon. Knowledge and experience washed over them the more they quickly practiced with their weapons and soon they found themselves more competent with their gear than the day before.

As the group made ready to leave, the Orc began to voice is displeasure over the slow speed of some of the members of the group. Ront wanted to leave Stool behind and get as far away from the Drow as possible. This was not a well received decision and Sayiel had to use his fae magic to convince Ront that no one should be left behind. Ront appeared to agree put the comments but many on edge; what would the Orc do given the opportunity?

After the exchange, Eldeth approached Syaiel, Gabriel, Ian and Jaragorn looking to break words with them. Eldeth explained that the axe she carried was of great importance to her clan and that it had to return to them; regardless if it was in her hands or not. She looked at the four adventures and asked for their promise that if she were to fall, they would see her axe safely back to her clan.

Even though they had only known each other a short while, a familiar bond had formed between Gabriel and Eldeth. In another lifetime, Gabriel had been a Captain in an army and knew the importance of oaths and honor. Gabriel agreed to honor Eldeth’s request and sealed his word with a warrior’s handshake with the dwarf.

The group headed out yet again in the tunnels in the dark below and encountered only silence and stillness in their trek. Food and water were found along the way thanks to the talents of the deep gnomes and eventually the group found another side cave that they could spend the night in. Watch shifts were assigned and the group bedded down for the night.

Unlike the previous night, this one did not go smoothly. Eldeth woke from sleep naturally, confused at first as to why Topsy and Turvey had not come to get her for her watch. As she looked around, she saw that Topsy and Turvey were nowhere to be found. In the morning, the group discovered that the two deep gnomes had taken half of the food rations and left without a word. There was no malice felt by the group, only a sense of disappointment. The two gnomes had been skittish the entire time during their escape and had not integrated well with the group. The fact that they chose to slip away was not surprising.

The group continued on until they came to a fork in the tunnel network. Ian moved ahead and ventured to the right while the group stayed behind. In a small room he discussed a thick, viscous substance dripping from the wall. Quickly the substance collected into a large pool on the ground and then lunged forward towards the halfling. Ian was able to quickly retreat to the group where Jaragorn’s arrows made short work of the ooze before it could harm the group.

Realizing that the right path was a dead end, Ian and Jaragorn moved down the left passage, with heightened caution. They soon entered another large room with crumbling bits of buildings dotting the area, where a second pile of ooze was encountered and quickly dispatched. Outside of the ooze, there was nothing else in the room so the group moved forward into another room where they encountered a strange sight.

There, suspended in mid air was a twisted,contorted lifeless Drow. The group was not sure what they were seeing until an innocent, almost child like voice spoke to them. The group froze and looked at the lifeless Drow, not believing he was the one who spoke.

They were right.

As they looked closer they realized that the Drow was encased in a gelatinous cube of some sort. The group became tense and gripped their weapons tightly as they realized the extent of the monster before them. Before they could act any further, the child like voice spoke again, a sense of awe in its voice.

The group quickly realized that it was the cube itself that was speaking and it was named Glabbagool. The cube seemed to be awed by its surroundings; not entirely sure of how it got there and why a dead Drow was inside it. The group questioned it further while remaining vigilant, but the more the cub spoke, the more it became apparent that it was more curious then aggressive.

Ront was not impressed though. The orc was not happy with talking to the threat and wanted to kill it. Before he could act though, Gabriel strongly encouraged the Orc to stand down, and with great reluctance, the Orc did.

During this, Sayiel reached out with his powers of Arcane, trying to get a sense of what gifted this cube with sentience. All around him, Sayiel could feel pockets of magic, as if the walls between the mortal and mystical plane had been torn open. Magic had bled into this area and bestowed the cube with sentience.

Glabbagool continued to talk with the group and expelled the Drow at their request. Ian asked Glabbagool if it knew the way out of the caves and it said it did not. The group decided to exit the cave Glabbagool’s cave via a opening behind the cube, graciously offering point to it.The cube began to move towards the entrance and the group cautiously followed their new companion, not sure if it was friend or foe, or if this child like innocence knew just how dangerous it was.

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