Down the Chasm (Part 1)

Yesterday my friends and I were able to meet again and continued our LotFP game. Here is what the happened during this session (and the one before, which I had not wrote a session report for yet).

As we left the adventurers (well, there is gab in my coverage of events, I fear), Cormagh had urged them to go back to the cave with the dragon skeleton (where they had found and slain a nightmarish giant a day before). The two were not to eager to head back: before they left, a quickly growing dragon-thing had spawned from a strange egg Angus had been fumbling with. The dwarf was not impressed by the danger of meeting it again, as they had been able to recover from some their wounds, had otherwise cleaned the cave of monsters (or so they thought) and had not much time lef before Baron Payton (the Lord of Boarswood) would have the gap leading down to the entrance filled up (as he told them last time, after they brought the head of the giant to collect their bounty. Baron Payton had not been pleased to hear about that growing dragon-thing…). The shared motivation for all to explore the place further was the chance of finding some gold. After all, dragon´s do hoard gold, don´t they? So, they packed their stuff onto their mule (a female mule my party decided to call Jürgen… which is a male name…) and moved back into the forest as the sun came up.

Before they went back to the cave with the dragon skeleton and the chasm, they had a look at a tunnel in the opposing direction. Last time, there had been a light. They found a cave that was filled with continual darkness, and learned that the glowing limestone egg, they found last time in these caves and still carried about, was able to beat back that darkness. In the small cave so revealed they found a divan made of black satin, a man-sized metal mirror, a daedal small table made of a very dark wood (ebony) as well as a silver carafe (with a liquid in it) and two silver chalices. Further down the tunnel was a strange monument that was made of something a kin to black glass: a stone slab that was seven feet high, four feet wide and one foot deep. It was akin to a stone slab they had found in that tunnel behind the skull face in the mountains near Dunnsmouth. They left all were it was and turned to inspect the dragon skeleton and the chasm. [ Well, in truth they looted the silver but as none of the players had noted it on their sheets, I ruled that they did not take it with them].

At first they looked for traces of the dragon-thing that made them “retreat” last time (they had thrown some rations into one direction and fled toward the other as quickly as possible), and found some in the dust and rubble. According to those the beast, which had grown to the size of a small horse back then, had shrunken again to the size of a pony before it moved down the chasm wall. The dragon skull and some of the bones they moved up to their mule to take them along. Back then, they were not sure if they would try to make weapons out of it, or if they would sell them to Howell, the alchemist they had met in Spillswick. One way or the other, they wanted to make something out of these bones. As they inspected the chasm (still using the glowing limestone egg) they found a set of narrow and worn stone steps that had seemingly been chiseled out of the chasm wall it self. Those led all the way down and along the wall till they reached the point where both walls of the chasm touched another, but continued on the other side. Jasper was especially surprised about how worn the steps were “Which armies had marched up and down here time and time again to wear stone stairs down so much?” he thought aloud while they began their descend.

The three were astounded even more as the steps lead them down into the earth for what must have been two hours at the least, before they ended on the ground of the narrowing chasm and in front of a further gap that seemed to form a natural tunnel with only a slight decline. The tracks of the dragon-thing lead in there, and as there was no other way out of the bottom of there but the steps they took, they went on to explore further. After a while the slightly curved path through the rock opened up into a large cave that stretched out into the dark left and right and in front of them. Their light only reached a small tongue of light gray gravel that seemed to rest in a depression a few yards ahead of them.

As they explored the large cave further, which later turned out to be 20 yards at its longest point, about half as wide as long and narrowing at the ends, they heard movement on the gravel and stopped immediately to see what was coming for them . But neither the dragon-thing nor anything else they found. After a while, they continued to explore the place, only to hear the sound of somebody moving on the gravel again. As they looked this time, they noted their erstwhile mistake: it was not the sound of somebody moving on the gravel, but the sound of the gravel moving. In front of their eyes the field of small pebbles flowed to its center on its own and piled up into a vaguely humanoid figure. When they moved, it would move with them or towards them. When they would stay still, it would not move. They were puzzled by this entity: they were not able to talk to it, where pretty sure that they could not slay it and had to fear that it would be dangerous, for a small skeleton, akin to a child or dwarf or halfling had been uncovered in the base of the recess once the gravel had moved out of it. After a while, they worked out a pattern of movement that would allow them to have it slither back and forth between them while they managed to reach a tunnel opening in the wall opposite to the one through which they had entered.

The Gravelmental followed them further, and the noise of the moving pebbles grew even louder in the confined spaces. Angus saw the good thing in it “The thing is not quick enough to catch up with us and stops when we stop. We don´t have to fear an attack from behind in here”. “True,” Jasper agreed “but what if we meet something up front that we want to run from?” They never had to find out, for about half an hour in the tunnel they came across a three feet wide gab in the floor. From below, cool and moist air wafted up and Jasper was able to hear the rushing of water from far, far below. They crossed the gab and waited to see if the Gravelmental would fall into it. It did not but just turn around and went back the way it came. They followed the tunnel further, but the glowing limestone egg on which light they had relied on suddenly failed them: the glow lost intensity and from one moment to the next they found themselves in complete darkness. They first moved backward a bit, in hope that they might have crossed a boundary of sorts, but the light did not return to the limestone egg. After they fumbled with a torch, flint and steel to see something again in the dark they checked what other light sources they had brought along.

[It was a wonderful moment for me as a GM to see the look in may players´ faces. Aside from a slight feel of betrayal due the sudden failing of something they had grown to rely on, there was the realization of what it will mean for the characters to be hours away from sunlight, in a potential hostile environment with NO light at all].

Fortunately, together they carried more than half a dozen torches out of habit. Knowing that a torch means an hour of light, they felt comfortable again and decided to explore the place further, but minded to turn back when they would only have five or four torches left [while the GM began to mark the end points of the torches on his turn sheet and continued to remind them to mark them off their sheets when a new one had to be lit].

As they had followed the tunnel for about an hour they could see it ending into a cave… but not due to their own light! Out of sight, left of the opening they were approaching, their was a light source and they could hear a voice. In haste they tried to kill their own light, and ended up smothering the fire with an empty burlap sack. With the smell of smoke in their nose, they staid in the now dark tunnel and listened. Jasper recognized that the words where a dialect of English, so not one he had ever heard before. After a while he was able to make sense of the words that were repeated in a monotonous way, like the Lord´s Prayer was recited in church. What he understood had not much in common with it, so. He gleaned that it was something alike to “We bring to you as your mysteries told us \ we beg you to give us and feed our hunger \ flesh to fill our stomaches”. Jasper decided to take a look out of the opening and found out that the cave was rectangular, like no cave should be, so the walls seemed natural. A lamp rested between four man near the left end: three sat upon something arranged like pews in a church (so the details of what they set on was lost to shadows) while one man knelt in front of black stone altar and repeated the “prayer”. Two sat on the left, one on the right. This latter one wore a strange, angular helmet as well as a large crossbow, and turned towards Jasper so that he had to dug back into the tunnel. As sounds akin to a person in chain mail getting up and moving closer were heared, they all moved deeper into the tunnel while Jasper readied his own crossbow (in the dark… as a GM I -really- have to pay more attention to the lighting and what may and may not be done under such conditions). The “guard” lurched closer, but did not move right in front of the opening but looked into it from a few yards away, with its own crossbow at the ready. For a tense moment the shadow figure seemed to stare into the tunnel, ready to fire while the Three cowered there in the tunnel, not daring to move. At the end, the guard turned away and moved out of sight. The three now clearly heard a barely suppressed moan of pain as it set into motion.

To be continued….

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