Pilgrims and cave safety
How to win friends and stay safe underground
Our PotA game resumes after a hiatus for work issues, new jobs, and studies/exams for the group. As most of the group had forgotten most of the details of what had been going on we started with a brief summary of what’s been going down and where they’ve been. Then we got underway making a welcome return to the Forgotten Realms.
After spending their nightcap talking to Kylessa, the proprietor of the Swinging Sword (who imparted thoughts about the “Evil emanating out of Lance Rock”, the party awake to the smell of simple bacon being cooked in the rear yard of the Inn. Heading downstairs they find themselves the third group to breakfast.
Sitting between the stairs and the front door, where they seemed to have moved their table that morning, was a pair of monks or pilgrims of some sort, dressed in brown robes, having an involved conversation about travel plans then trade routes, then commodities, then village life. These two had never been seen by the party and were likely visitors from their dress but their conversation seemed a bit scattershot and odd. Sitting at the bar was a more familiar face – Lerissa, a beautiful Tiefling who was friends with the party, an occasional informant or fixer and a welcome sight after a day guarding a Dwarf, chasing nothing, talking to a drunk and babysitting kids.
After greeting their friend, the party quickly noticed two things: 1) Lerissa had news and was seemingly looking for them. 2) The pilgrims in the booth were apparently watching them and taking notes.
Lerissa and Myrtle headed upstairs to have a private briefing on Lerissa’s arrival. Zydrunas and Erik waited for their bacon and kept an eye on the two visitors. Kylessa arrived with bacon and asked the boys if they’d thought more on last night’s conversation. Zydrunas responded by loudly and obviously making light about a false request to murder people under her employ while Erik tried to talk to her. This prompted one of the men to put away his notes and take off, leaving a waft of leather curing oil in his wake and his companion sipping tea alone. Once Kayleesa left the table and now Zydrunas was on to their watching eyes, it didn’t take long for trouble to start.
It started with Zy sitting in the pilgrim’s vacated seat, loudly and obviously eating bacon in his new companion’s face. Opening his tirade with “Why don’t you take a portrait, it’ll last longer” Zy was surprised to find the Pilgrim pull out parchment and pencil and start to draw a portrait of the Half-Orc. What started as a funny starter and amusing response ended with outright accusations of spying, quick threats and a game of “bounce the pilgrim’s nose off the tabletop”. In the questioning that followed, Zy broke the poor man’s nose and got him to empty his pockets, giving up his ‘notes’ on the group which were nothing more than a list of place names with no extra context behind them. When the pilgrim (who was claiming that they were from the North and were looking for trade routes and pilgrimage paths for their break-away sect of Lythander) produced his ‘Holy text’ that needed translation, the party’s dwarf specialist, Erik, noticed that the books runes were ancient Drarven and were highly unlikely to be a religious text for Lythander. With Zy distracting the pilgrim and Erik insisting on his release, Zy and Lerissa allowed the pilgrim to scoop up his possessions minus the book. In his haste to get away the pilgrim didn’t notice the book was missing as he ran out of the door, stuffing his paper and notebook into his robes quickly and running off to summon the local law enforcement.
After smoothing things over with Kayleesa and paying for the trouble (getting the sharp side of her tongue in the process and having to promise not to cause trouble in the inn again) the party decided to do as she wanted to help repair the relationship and head out to Lance rock. Standing in the road getting their bearings they were met by the assistant constable, Edward Lamb, who was sent over to see to the disturbance. Eddie quickly sheathed his weapon and drew on his pipe, bantering with the group and trying to calm things down in a good-natured way once he saw that they weren’t being aggressive of troublesome with him. Erik came up with a plan where Eddie could ‘run the group out of town for 24 hours’ to save his face and give the impression that something had been done to them for troublemaking, and the group would stay away from the town for at least day and come back only after their ‘ban’ had expired. Eddie agreed to this and hammed up throwing them out of town, ensuring he did so on the correct road to Lance rock after giving them some directions and seeing them safely on their way.
The Long road south saw only a single caravan and after a brief exchange with some human guards (finding out that there were some fresh cairn graves on the side of the road further south and to watch out for the inevitable wild animals looking for an easy meal), during which Myrtle had to be restrained, the group found Eddie’s path to Lance Rock, the titular rock now visible from the road and of obviously different rock (granite) than the surrounding limestone-laden hills.
After traipsing through the plains and then the scrubby hillside the party came across some odd signs around 150feet away from the rock. These said “Come no closer, lest ye contract, this plague that afflicts me. The Lord of Lance Rock”. Ignoring these, the party pushed on, finding that after the hills there was hidden a dip, a small flat similar to a crater ringed by a limestone crag. Inside this flat area stood the Lance Rock itself – a mighty menhir of grey granite jutting upwards at an angle and a cave system in the Limestone.
Investigating the cave two more signs were found claiming that anyone entering the caves looking for treasure will get plague and will be met with self-defense. Ignoring that, too, the party explored inside.
The first chamber held a man lying on his back, motionless, and the smell of death and something like incense. Not taking chances the party kept it’s distance, nudging the lying figure from a distance with magic. This prompted the figure to rise clumsily and stand, staring at the group with little comprehension, neither attacking nor communicating. From the dead stare and the pale, part-rotten skin, it was obvious this was a corpse. As it was standing (NOT a normal situation for a corpse), Zy ran in with a battle cry, cleaving the hapless figure in two before it so much as took a step and showering the group in gore.
Taking this encounter to be proof of shennanigans the group readied-up and pushed further into the cave, Zy in front. The next chamber was a large domes area with a flat, table-like rock near the middle. Zy bravely strode ahead into the empty chamber…..and got clocked on the noggin by a box of falling rocks from above as he crossed the threshold into the chamber.
With Zy down with his head practically split open, the group exploded into action. Myrtle tested for triggers for further rockfalls first then the group started to enter the chamber, looking to ensure Zy was not fatally injured. Thankfully the half-orc’s thick skull had saved him but he was dizzied and struggling to rise unaided. Looking up back towards the entrance the group saw a platform above the cave mouth where two zombies were trying to move a second box of rocks into dropping position. Getting Zy up and readying their own weapons, the party attacked their would-be ambushers with Zy dragging/throwing the zombies off the ledge and dropping the remaining rocks onto them for good measure. Not much was said for Lerissa’s poos aim with her hurled rocks, having hit Zy during the short melee instead of the Zombie he was grappling at the time.
After ensuring the zombies weren’t getting up the party checked out the ‘table-like’ rock to find it was stained with blood. There was scant evidence of metal against the rock showing that if sacrifices were held on this platform, the performer was very accurate indeed or extremely practiced. Faced with exits to the north and the south the party rested, allowing Zydrunas to recover from his head injury and waiting to see if the commotion summoned any other trouble.
The moral of today’s story? Wearing a hard-hat in a cave really is a good idea after all :)