Friday, 27 January 2012

Dark Sun Marauders - Episode 16

The group descended the stairs underneath the grisly room above. The floor gradually changed from stairs to a gentle slope that began to be buried under sand. The corridor brought them to a largish room, sand covering the floor in a recreation of the deserts of Athas. In addition to the sand, the walls had been painted with desert scenes, all in exquisite detail so that the sand floor blends with the painting to give the impression of being back out among the dunes. The bright sky adorned the roof of the room as well. Even the temperature in the room had risen to high levels. Tufts of grass stuck up from various parts of the room and 2 grooves that matched with someone being dragged were visible in the sand leading towards a cunningly designed door in the north wall. There was a smaller door that was spotted to the south.

The companions headed into the room, following the tracks, when a large creature burrowed through the sand from one corner and eruped, snapping huge jaws. It was a silt shark! Everyone quickly mobilised, and landed several blows on the creature, but it disappeared beneath the sands out of the reach of blades and spells. At one point Kulo, had stumbled near a patch of the grass, which closed around his leg like a set of plant jaws, holding him tight. The shark erupted once more, going after an isolated Gretchan, wounding her badly, but they were ready and Kuroar!'s blade and Garidias spear bit deep, opening nasty wounds on the beast.

This caused it to burrow away once more, but Kulo, was able to corral it with his chain and with Beren's help, finish it off. Taking a short breather, the group followed the dragging marks through the door into the next room.

They were greated with a similarly painted room, yet this time in the centre was a silty oasis area, surrounded by trees and cactus. Hanging from one of the trees was a humanoid figure. His scaled skin and build marked him as a Dray or Dragonborn, dressed in leather armour and he appeared quite dead. Kuroar! and Garidias went to inspect more closely and confirmed the deceased nature. Not seeing any further footprints, they concluded this was the victim who had been dragged from above.

The calm didn't last long as firstly the tree adjacent suddenly lashed out at the inspection pair, but was poorly aimed. This could not be said for Kuroar! who proved to be an expert at deforestation, his blade carving limbs off here and there and driving it deep into the wood, causing the tree creature to shriek in extreme pain! From there it was on the back foot, or root, as the group pressend the advantage and had the creature crashing down quickly, but by then a new threat had emerged!

A large fruit-bearing cactus began to lumber slowly from from the far edge of the silt, but it did not batter the party with its spikes, but it reached out and affected their minds. Psychic attacks ignored armour and physical strength and sapped the wills of the group. At one point, Garidias, Kuroar! and Kulo, had all fallen under its power as the cactus itself commanded them to turn on each other! Fortunately, there seemed to be a deep-rooted sense of a bond between them and their attacks on each other were often mis-aimed, or lacking in power.

Finally shaking free from the mental thrall, they all set about bringing a physical pain to the rampaging plant, if it could feel such things. The cactus was tougher than it looked and took a huge amount of punishment before succumbing to the bloodied and battered fellowship. Gretchan stepped in and took a fruit from the plant, examining it and found that should anyone eat the fruit, they would see their own fellows as enemies.

Taking a moment to clean their wounds after a nasty fight, they all took the north door out of the oasis room and found themselves in a series of corridors painted to resemble natural caverns and tunnels. Along one stretch of tunnel, they encountered a portcullis blocking the passage and three levers. Kuroar! examind them and pulled down the first as the rest of the group nervously backed away.

The only effect was that it brought down a second portcullis, several feet down the passage they had just walked down and just in front of where Kulo, had backed up to. Shrugging and pulling the second lever resulted in Kuroar! taking on a crispy-fried appearance as the whole area between the portcullis was engulfed in flame, validating the groups' earlier nervousness. The final lever opened the portcullis in front of Kuroar! and he gratefully stepped through, but the rest were still trapped back down the corridor. A final flick of the first lever opened that one and they all continued on exploring.

The caverns and tunnels would around for some distance, one of the branches leading back to a concealed door that led back to the oasis room. The only way forward led to a bigger cavern which had two painted doors leading east.

The doors opened into an enormous cavern, some 100ft long and almost as wide. Sand still covered the floor and several outcroppings of rock jutting up from the sand could be seen around the cavern. From the darker, far end of the cavern came a terrible creature that resembled the description of the Dragon of Tyr, but somehow seemed much smaller and lacked wings, but its reptilian body was well suited to living in a sandy wasteland.

The drake was a formidable opponent, its powerful exhalation of breath throwing up an enormous cloud of stinging sand that blinded and stung those that remained in the area. As the warriors approached, it met them with claws and teeth that could cause serious wounds. Also similar to the shark, it was able to burrow through the loose sand to cause more troubles for the heroes, but in the face of it all, they stayed firm. Garidias' commanding voice helping Kuroar! and Kulo, positioning themselves well and to best effect.

Wounds were grave, with the drake taking down members of the group, some almost losing consciousness from the bleeding of their wounds, but finally the great beast was defeated and crashed to the ground in a cloud of sand.

The group took time to search the cavern once all were roused from their efforts and Gretchan found a small hidden door in the side of one of the rocky outcroppings. Stone stairs led down into it, leading to a small open area and then continuing on into blackness.

This seemed to be one of only two ways of moving on, with the south door of the first room on this level, still remaining unexplored...

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