|Daeorian Campaign Log — Session #17|
|Emmeline's Diary Entry|
After we rested, we began to travel northwards through the cavern the fissure opened into. While we stopped for rest after some hours of travel, eight creatures dropped from the ceiling and attacked us. They largely resembled beetles with hawks' heads and long, hooked claws in place of arms. It went hard on us for some time due to suddenness of the attack and the long reach of the creatures' claws and I lost consciousness from my wounds halfway through the battle.
I was preoccupied enough with the one that had landed next to me that I could not quite see what the others were doing, though I heard later that Keldorn and Throm accounted for one between them before Tombar used his magic to turn the tide, transporting us behind him and casting fireball in such a way that the blaze, though scorching, burned only the creatures, in addition to avoiding the sorcerer Alabaster, who had also fallen. I was included in the magical transportation because I was lucky enough to faint near Keldorn, who carried me as the spell took effect. Alabaster had fallen early and had no one near enough to him.
Meltarra used her magics to heal my wounds and I regained consciousness and a certain amount of caution; because I had proven myself ineffective against the creatures in true combat, barely scratching their shells, I summoned a large dog to harry them. By then they were looking quite ragged, and though the dog missed and my attempt to cause fear apparently failed, they soon fell and I used what magics I had, with Meltarra, to heal the rest of the party.
As we continued onward through the cavern the signs of the great earth-shaking became less and as the ground evened out, we sought a place to rest for the night. Vindahr noticed that the side tunnel we discovered had more animal tracks going in than coming out, and it was decided that we should explore the side tunnel before camping there. It was extremely ragged, turning constantly, and when we found traces of spiderweb the more experienced travelers decided that in all likelihood there was something lurking at the end and we turned back. Tomber used his magic to create a shelter in the cavern, since the side tunnel appeared risky.
I retired early, asking to be woken for the final watch. My sleep, however, was brief and brought me no peace: I dreamed of the spirits of priests in torment, and their bodies crumbling to skeletons and thence into dust, and then I was sent a vision and a warning. The lead minotaur, the brute whom had nearly felled us all, had not died in the collapse of the cavern but had survived by his hate alone, and begged his foul god for aid in the destruction of the two he blamed for the deaths of his followers — Keldorn and Tomber.
I did not wake naturally from this dream. Throm and Keldorn had taken first watch and hearing my cries, woke me. The first dream, of the priests, concerned Heironeous to whom Throm is dedicated, and so I told him of it; later he chose to have me relate the dream to the party. In the meantime I asked them to wake the party, drinking deeply from my waterskin and wishing devoutly that I had some of old Mother Vakya's honey-wine.
When everyone was awake, I related the dream to them. Initially the party seemed very much in favor of going back and facing the minotaur; I was shaken enough that I could do little more than shout incoherent protests. Perhaps my fear convinced them; more likely it was the simple fact that if the minotaur had been abandoned by his lord I would not have been sent the vision, and thought Throm protested that his god would protect us against a demon-fueled minotaur priest consumed with vengeance and hate, I doubt any god or spirit would protect their followers from their own foolishness.
Eventually it was decided that all we could do was continue on. The others went to sleep with little trouble, while I stayed awake for perhaps an hour before calming my mind enough to sleep, and even then the dream of the priests repeated itself. Before retiring, Meltara asked if there was anything she could do; I thanked her and said nothing, unable to express what I felt even if I had not been trained to silence and stoicism since childhood. I had relived the memories of our torture, our near-deaths, the loss of my father's sword while at the same time experiencing the sheer disinterest of minotaur leader. We were little more than bags of flesh to him, sacrifices to gain the approval of his god and increase his own glory; how could anyone find the words to describe that pure coldness?
I had also been taken in the dream to Baphomet's realm. Protected though I was by the passage of time and the unreality of the dream, the evil of the place beat against my mind like rotted wings. I cannot say more; my mind refuses to comprehend it, and though I know I saw the face of the demon-lord, I remember nothing.
We rested for another day and night, the priest-dream repeating itself whenever I closed my eyes, and Meltarra asked me to try and glean more information from the vision. However many times I put myself in trance, all I saw was the same image, over and over - priests of Heironeous reaching out in torment, pleading for my aid and crumbling into dust. Nor were there any spirits in the caverns; whatever meaning that vision has, it is obscured and beyond my present understanding.
We began traveling north again the next day, keeping to the wall to prevent being surrounded as we had been by the hooked creatures. As we walked, light from Tomber's staff illuminated the space around us and we saw creatures, alone or in pairs, scurrying from our path. We stopped briefly to rest and Meltara asked me to try to discover the meaning of the priest-vision once more; again I met with no success. Some time later we found our way blocked by a massive chasm extending past the walls of the cavern, and so wide that even Throm and I, with the night-wise eyes of our orcish heritage, could not see the other side until Tomber cast a spell that lit the area as bright as day.
Vindahr followed animal tracks to the edge of the chasm and found what appeared to be an invisible bridge, only wide enough to travel in single file, and without rails or any other protection from plummeting to the bottom of the pit, should we fall. I touched it, curious, and noticed that it had no texture as such, only a sensation of smoothness. Tied together and following Tomber, whose magic allowed him to see the bridge, we crossed it. We walked a little onwards and then stopped, setting up the magical shelter and sleeping; the dream repeated itself, as I suspect it will until I discover its meaning.
Continuing on the next day, we had a brief encounter with strange tentacled monstrosities, reeking of filth; they roared with hunger when they saw us but showed no other sign of intelligence and were dispatched before I had even completed my first spell, thanks to Tomber's fireballs, Vindahr's arrows, and the fire beetles Meltarra had summoned. Heartened by our easy victory after so many days of desperate battles, we continued onwards.