"Odin? Are you alright? It looked like it had a good hold on you there for a second." Then, Bohen looked at the two guards and asked with a grin: "What about you two? Not dead yet I hope."
The two brothers had been in a quarrel with each other and Ilde, over whether or not Lortrac was going to accept the bard’s healing aid. On Bohen’s remark they both turned to him and fell silent for a moment. Only to erupt in a series of objections, grunts and Khordaldrum curses a second later. It was just enough distraction for Ilde to put her hand on the wounded brother’s back and heal him with a quick Cure Light Wounds spell. She even managed to mask her aid by acting like she was only patting his back.
“There, I feel better already.” Lortrac stated with an expression that betrayed that his ego was hurt more than his body.
“It’s no use arguing, he won’t accept any healing aid from anybody.” His brother piped in. “Once he has his mind set, it’s not going to budge.”
“Like you at the dinner table, ey?” Lortrac added slyly. To which he got a nice prod in the ribs.
Odin was not so quick to reply, and definitely not as vivid as the two brothers. The old Khord stood up with some effort, holding the wall for support.
“You guys go on.” he said, and waved his hands towards the darkness that lay ahead of them. “I’ll catch my breath and follow when I feel a bit revived. Save your healing spells for now. I’ll be fine, but I need a moment.”
Seeing how they hesitated, he urged them on. “Go! Those Khords depend on you. Ikamor depends on you.”
At that moment another Khord arrived at the scene. It was a warrior in full plate. And it took a moment to recognize it as one of their own. A female Khord, another one, joined their party. She tipped her well decorated helmet off her head and showed her bald face. She was something else, to say the least. She went over to Odin and made a gesture to aid him.
“No.” He stated again, “Save your power, and go after them. They can’t be too far.”
And so they went on. Lost one hand, gained another.
The tunnel stretched out before them. It led them deeper into the belly of the mountain, and as they all could sense, they were starting to descend. Slowly, the tunnel began to spiral downwards. On it stretched, without any branches, as if its sole purpose had been to reach the museum. But to reach the museum from where?
That question was soon answered. Up ahead, a soft illumination crossed the darkness and broke the stillness with its flickering movement. It was a flame, seemingly sprouting from a protruding rock in the wall. It marked the end of the tunnel, for beyond it opened a cave as wide as a cathedral. From its doorstep they could peer into it, and noted a sight that took their breath in terror.
The cave was large, and quite high. Long pillars had formed where stalactites and stalagmites had met. A damp smell of wet earth filled the room, and the ceiling sparkled with millions of watery drops. There were more flames sprouting from the rocks, and the soft illumination cast long shadows. In the darkness ahead, they could see the end of the cave. A large hand protruded from the ground, made of the same stone as the cave. It reminded some of them of the altar in the Rock of the Ageless Craftsman, the most beautiful temple of Kharox in all of Khordal. But this hand didn’t look beautiful. It looked crooked and only vaguely humanoid, its gesture more greedy than giving.
But what really took the air from their lungs were the walls. At first they appeared rough, with a pattern of eroded rocks sticking out in rows and columns. But they were not rocks. Embedded in the walls were their kinsmen, Khordaldrum men and women. They appeared in a trancelike state, their lower bodies covered in stone. They twisted and stirred, like overcome with nightmares. Between them, crawling over the walls and seemingly tending to these captives were more Ankhegs.
Looking closer, the group noted how walkways were formed on the walls, leading up to even the highest points of the cave. Apparently, a way was formed for humanoids to pass through the cave, and access the other tunnels that were leading in and out of it.
(OOC: Ok, so you stand at the entrance of the cave. A walkway in front of you leads the the right and left, and is connected to other ones, leading up and down. Basically, you could reach any point in the cave, including the floor and ceiling. It’s up to you guys to decide which course to take. Also, I skipped introductions, but that doesn't mean your characters can't converse while moving through the tunnel.)
Bohen stayed up in front and quiet during the trek from the recent skirmish. He spoke only enough to introduce himself to the new plate-wearing khord that had followed from the museum.
As he scouted ahead he ran through his current company's composition: he was ranged and a sneak; Gemma wore full-plate which probably meant close-quaters fighter and as stealthy as a gorgon in a potter's shop; Rerra wore scale armor, though used her sling at range despite what that type of armor usually meant as far as engagement distance; Ilde had stuck to a bow and had been singing before joining the fight, unsure of stealthiness. And Odin was gone. The one person he knew could be counted on to disappear if the situation called for it apparently had misread the situation.
"Well..." Bohen said in a hushed tone, "We can do this two ways, I suppose. If I was still with Nemesis Company, we'd bottle-neck those creatures here in the hallway and just grind them down to bone-meal, chitin-meal, whatever."
The ranger glanced back into the cavern and tried to do a quick mental assessment of how many would be hitting the tunnel opening at once. Not good numbers based on how quickly he'd seen them move before. And who knew how many more were just out of sight. "Or we can try to sneak through." He offered. "If we get through at all we'll have to be extra careful not to alarm any of them later on or we'll be horribly out flanked."
He wasn't sure how to word his thoughts without offending everyone present. "I'm not yet familiar enough with all of your... specific, eh, skill sets to know which course of action is less likely to kill us all. Granted, some of you might have some magics I'm not aware of. Any suggestions?"
Posted on 2010-05-13 at 07:39:14.
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
Speaking as plainly as a cleric can :)
Rerra tried to ignore the sinking of her heart as she looked upon what faced them. Ankhegs were bad enough, but if those trails were anything to go by, the Ankhegs were not alone. In fact, they may be in service to some other race, one that was humanoid. She stroked her braids thoughtfully as she pondered the implications, to be interrupted by Bohen’s own commentary and question.
“Abilities? Eh, well, fair enough, Runemasters may be known by reputation, but even reputations can be distorted by myth and stories. As a keeper of secrets, I’m prepared to defend the Kordaldrum people and culture with all my skills, and with my life if necessary. We’re workers of stone that can infuse Kharox’ divine gifts into our runes, and we can pray for his intercession as needed to. As warriors, we use slings for our rune carved bullets, but can go toe to toe with beasties and villains, both,” she concluded, patting her warhammer on her back.
“I say we move to free the prisoners and flee back the way we came. I’m not too quiet in this armour, but I can enclose us in silence to quiet our passage at least. It will likely have me draining Kharox’s patience with me, but I may be able to break the prisoners free of the stone. Fighting our retreat back, now, that I’d be needing some help with,” she smiled broadly.
Posted on 2010-06-02 at 23:20:07.
Brianna Not Dragon Mistress Karma: 105/32 2282 Posts
Gema was a fighter, pure and simple Her skills were those of a melee fighter first and a ranged fighter a distant second. I am best in a face to face fight. I am not good for quickness or sneaking around though I can use a crossbow at range if needed. I am best with sword or ax. In this plate I can take a lot. Not that I desire to just stand there and let anyone do that to me. Khardow willing, I can dish out more that they can take before they can dish out more than I can take.
What she said was the simple truth of what she was currently--a fighter. Oh she had plans, and dreams of what she wanted to be. From and early age she had worked hard towards those goals. She just hadn't gotten there yet.
Ilde listened to all the comments the group was making. She liked Rerra’s idea the best. Plus a couple additions of her own. Ilde had a couple of ideas but she wanted to present them first. “Personally, I think Rerra idea is a good one. However just four of these things nearly cost two of us our lives. I have a couple ideas but I don’t know what would work better.”
“Plan one is Rerra’s idea but we send someone would a lot of armour out as a distraction. Bohen, Gema and I are good with range weapons. Whoever is the distraction, will get some protection spells. I can’t speak for Rerra but I know I have at least one spell. Once the monsters goes after the target; the rest of us go and free any one that we can and get out of here. As long as the monsters don’t notice us we can move back and forth and get everyone.”
‘My other plan is we create a big commotion and have the quietest person try and free the other captives. I know I can create mutable images of us and Arrows, stones and a lot of people will get their attention. It basically the same plan but one means a single person in danger and Plan to it most of us.”
Ilde watch the face as she explained her plans. She also added “We don’t have to follow these plans but this is the best I can come up with.”
Posted on 2010-06-16 at 20:26:05.
Brianna Not Dragon Mistress Karma: 105/32 2282 Posts
Someone in heavy armor, the woman said well Gema was all of that. She smiled a bit inside her helmet when the same on mentioned that Gema could use a ranged weapon. Tipping up her visor.
"I am decent with ranged weapons but better with melee so if you need a heavily armored fighter to draw their attention ,that is something I can do."
"I think enclosing us all in magical silence is a good idea." Bohen checked his weapons while he talked, ensuring that his rapier and the dagger in his boot could both be drawn easily and that no blood or grit had found its way into the scabbards during the last fight.
"Center the magic on me," he continued, "Or on Gema here, that way if something does go awry you magic wielders have the option to step outside its effect to sling your spells. I can try to help everyone find concealing shadows on the passage across."
Satisfied that his backup weapons were as ready as they could be, the ranger turned his attention to his pride and joy, his repeating crossbow. He'd had the clip treated with magics similar to those present in his haversack so that instead of the standard five bolts most repeaters held, he could fit up to one hundred bolts into the weapon. Bohen only fired twelve shots during the run in earlier, but, not knowing when he'd next have time to reload, he fished a handful of bolts from his pack and began fitting them into his weapon.
"And splitting up the group is a horrible idea. We don't have any intel on these caves. There could be pitfalls or more ankhegs in other passages we haven't seen yet. Splitting up now is the perfect setup for a divide and conquer victory for our enemies. We stay together and stay alive."
Bohen's former commander had used similar words, but the ranger didn't remember them sounding quite so harsh. his crossbow now full, he readied a bolt and took a step forward. "And with the silence spell, he might be able to break some of these Khords free without attracting the attention on their keepers. Shall we?"
A few moments passed as they stood at the doorstep of the cave. Before them, its wideness spread out like a hollow dream; damp and dreadful. While they worked out a plan, the ankheg continued their silent inspecting and tending to the encapsulated Khords in the wall.
When the silence spell was cast, centered on Bohen, the group started to move. They stepped slowly, careful to stay within the limits of the spell’s reach. They stood so close to each other that they should’ve been able to hear every breath, but the unpresence of sound was unsettling. It left an eerie feeling that they were ghosts in a spectacle that was beyond their reach and influence.
Still, they continued, and set foot on the walkway that lead down, and to both sidewalls of the cavern. The closest embedded Khord was on the right side of the tunnel, and they approached him carefully. Now they had a good look of what was happening to their kin. It appeared that they had been captured and inserted into a crevice in the wall. A bland mucus had been cast over them, which had dried up to look like the rock. The Khord’s head was left free, possibly for air. The Khord they were approaching slowly seemed to be mumbling something, but they could not hear a word due to their silencing magic.
Then an Ankheg came crawling in their direction. The creature moved fast over the wall, apparently needing no walkway or steady footing to keep its balance. Down it came, and set foot on the walkway just 20 feet away from them. Its gaze was upon them, and they now noticed that it looked different from the ones they had fought in the tunnel. Where the others had wide mandibles that protruded far from their mouths, this one had small and slender appendices, almost finger-like. Its eyes seemed bigger, and its body more plump.
For a moment it regarded them, then continued its path down towards the bottom of the cave, as if they didn’t exist.
While their eyes followed the creature’s descend, they noted that almost all ankheg in this cave were of a different kind than the ones they had battled. But while they studied the situation, something happened that none of them could’ve foreseen.
One of the captured Khords was plucked from her cocoon by one of the insect at the bottom of the cave. The woman seemed not to notice being dragged away, and limply suffered the circumstances, bumping into rocks, sliding rudely over the floor and finally being hauled onto the handshaped altar in the middle of the cave. The ankheg which had dragged her away returned to its duty with the automation of a worker bee.
Then the hand started to close its fingers, and at the same time sound returned to their ears. What they hadn’t been able to hear before was that the Khords in the walls of the cave had started to drone a single line. Now the Silence spell ended they were witness to a mantra that was chanted by hundreds of voices void of any form of intonation. As the hand closed further around the woman, echoes of the drone intensified the cryptic message: “Find the Otherhalf.”
“Find the Otherhalf.”
“Find the Otherhalf.”
(OOC: The hand is slowly closing around the Khordaldrum woman, and you can all see that it has also started to sink into the floor of the cave. You might be able to run down and reach the woman in time to yank her from the stoney grasp, but it will also make a lot of noise and draw attention to you.)
"Sonuva..." Bohen muttered under his breath knowing that he would regret, probably for the next few days, his actions over the next few seconds and he started moving in as straight a path as he could find toward the closing fist. He hurried through the hand gestures and foreign sounding syllables required to channel the modest amount of magical energy he could command. He willed himself to move faster and, aided by mystic power, did so.
Once the spell was complete, the ranger tried to pick his footfalls more carefully and avoid needlessly kicking dirt or grinding rocks together under his boots.
Hopefully the anhkegs would continue to pay him no mind, at least until he pulled the woman free of her fate. No telling what hell would break lose after that.
((Casting Longstrider and moving for the woman. 2nd round, attempt moving silently but still double moving. Not sure if that's a -5 or -20 penalty. ))
Posted on 2010-07-01 at 09:10:39.
Brianna Not Dragon Mistress Karma: 105/32 2282 Posts
Gema grumbles under her breath, Words that cursed the Ankegs' ancestors and progeny with colorful, creative words and suggested impossible outcomes.
Gema began to move after the speeding ranger pushing herself to keep up. She knew why he was hurrying THe Khord woman being ducked into the ground. She was not willing to let the ranger face any dangers alone. "You spellcasters, keep out of any melee fighting and do what you do best."
Gema is a big girl, takes after her father and while her legs are longer to some, she is still a dwarf. She sucked in gulps of air and pushed hard running as fast as she could.
Idle watched with stunned horror as the woman was put in the hand and was being dragged into the rock. Almost immediately Bohen and Gema rushed to rescue the woman after realising a cloud of curse words. Gema also ended her rant with a warning not to help with the melee.
Idle grabbed her bow and put an arrow on the string. Idle muttered under her breath “Like really just going to watch the battle.” She then pulled the string to her ear. If any monsters were coming towards the group, they were going to meet her arrows.
late? But we continue now, so right on time. :TUP:
With Ilde covering them, Gema and Bohen stormed down the natural ramp that lead to the bottom of the cave. The hand was slowly closing and descending as well. The Khordaldrum woman would soon be taken from their sight.
But Bohen was unnaturally fast, aided by the magic of his patron. He was sure he could reach the woman and pull her loose before she was completely lost in stone.
But halfway through the cave’s smooth floor Gema and Bohen noticed that someone else was approaching the hand in a rapid matter. It was a bald Khord, and he snatched the woman from the grip of the stone hand right before it closed completely. He eyed the two of them, and fled as fast as he could, the woman draped over his shoulder. As they reached the stone hand and peered in the direction he had gone, they noticed another opening in the cave’s wall.
Another tunnel perhaps?
The stone hand had ceased its descend, and came up again to return to its original state. But as soon as it started to rise, the hundreds of Khords who had been chanting their ‘otherhalf’ sentence suddenly became silent.
An eerie emptiness settled over the cave, as if something very heavy was pressing upon the air, damping all sound. They could hear the Ankheg crawling over the walls, still tending to the Khords.
The room fell silent. Bohen, standing near the stone hand, dropped into a crouch and froze. Quickly, he looked to Gema and held a finger to his lips and gestured in the of the ankheg climbing along the wall. He wasn't sure if the thing would care about their presence here, but he definitely wasn't curious enough to want to find out.
He waved at Ilde and the others, motioning them forward, and repeated the finger-to-lips gesture before continuing after the bald Khord. The strange chanting of the captives in this room made the ranger curious about the mind-set and loyalties of the Khord who had pulled the woman free of the giant hand. Hopefully he wasn't about to find a second hostile force and get stuck fighting a two-front skirmish in these unfamiliar caverns.
Many times as Bohen made his way toward the newly discovered passageway he'd look back over his shoulder to make sure the others were following and that the ankheg wasn't taking an interest in their passage.