Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"The Wormwrithings" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 33


Virtue the Tiefling once again found herself wandering the Underdark lost and alone. The last thing she remembered was a basilisk leading the expedition to Gravenhollow. She must have taken a wrong turn when she paused to check on a strange sound. The sound turned out to be nothing but when she tried to rejoin the group they were nowhere to be found.

She wandered aimlessly with her dragon Santaka. Her demonic sight allowed her to see in the pitch darkness as if it were day. She wandered and slept and repeated the cycle for what must have been days. Eventually she came across a sign left by the scout - what's his name, the little guy, the one who didn't like Ront - Thargus.  She followed the signs. They led her to a blank wall. There was obviously some kind of secret door here. Great. Finding secret doors was not her thing. She needed Pain. This was Pain's thing.

With no other clues, she decided to wait. Hopefully they would come back this way soon. Hopefully she wouldn't run out of food and water.

She sat down and made sure she and Santaka were alone. She removed her provisions from her pack. She bit into some jerky and softened her hard tack with a bit of water. She chewed. She waited. Santaka nudged her with a reptilian snout.

OUT OF THE ABYSS, CHAPTER 33
"THE WORMWRITHINGS"

Having journeyed to Gravenhollow,
the fabled library of the Stone Giants,
and met the exiled drow arch-mage Vizerian,
Five heroes now lead whats left
of their expedition 
to scour the Underdark
and find the ingredients 
of an arcane ritual
that will banish the Demon-Lords
back to the Abyss
from which they escaped.

THE LEADERS OF THE EXPEDITION
  • Sir Valerius Adeques - (PC) human paladin and hero, defender and champion of the old gods of nature.
  • Virtue - (PC) tiefling paladin and warlock, a mysterious wild card of unknown allegiance.
  • Santaka - (NPC) a baby red dragon, loyal to Virtue.
  • Willow - (PC) Human wizard, her name will possibly change to Willow, she's still in flux. 
  • Phwee-toop - (NPC) Salix/Willow's owl familiar.
  • Ront - (PC) orc barbarian of the Iron-Thews tribe seeking redemption for his failures.
  • Pain Grille' - (PC) halfling thief from Waterdeep, was turned to stone in Blingdenstone but got better.
THE SURVIVING MEMBERS OF THE EXPEDITION
  • Thora Nabal - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
  • Sylrien Havennor - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
  • Elias Drako - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
  • Tamryn Tharke - (NPC)  human warrior of the Order of the Gauntlet
  • Thargus Forkbeard - (NPC)  dwarven mounted scout of the Emerald Enclave
  • Feral Killmander - (NPC)  human spy of the Lord's Alliance
  • Pok-Pok - (NPC) winged kobold.
  • Sparky - (NPC) trained fire-beetle. 
  • The Shield Guardian - (NPC) a contribution from Lord Zelraun Roaringhorn of the Harpers.
PARTING GIFTS
The leaders of the expedition thanked Vizerian for both his hospitality and his help in the coming fight against the Demon-Lords. They decided that their first task would be to obtain the egg of a purple worm from the Wormwrithings.
the Archmage Vizerian
Before they left, Vizerian bestowed upon each of them a special gift. Each leader of the expedition received a fine silk cloak of drow manufacture known as a piwafwi. Knowing the effect the sunlight radiated from the magic sword Dawnbringer has upon drow magic items, the leaders forced a smile and thanked Vizerian before stuffing the cloaks away deep into their packs never to be used.

Vizerian gave them each an amulet that would protect them from demonic madness.

Finally, he gave Pain the obsidian tablet of Garmin. He directed the spirit within to lead them to the locations of each of the ingredients necessary for the ritual of banishing.

"For security reasons, I have erashed the knowledge of the location of this tower. Do you have a means of returning here?"

Pain, secretly thinking about the arrow of direction kept in his pack, simply smiled and replied, "Don't worry, we have our ways."

With that, the leaders left the tower and rejoined the expedition. They exited the secret grottow of Araj only to find Virtue waiting for them.

They brought Virtue up to speed as they marched into the Wormwrithings.

WORM-SIGN
The tunnels of the Wormwrithings were unlike the passages, fissures, and lava caves of the Underdark. These tunnels were mostly smooth. For the most part they were straight or curved gently. Round nodules the size of melons were occasionally found on the floor.

After their first sleep the expedition encountered a great tremor. They were shocked when a massive purple worm emerged from the floor amidst the expedition, tunneling from the floor to the ceiling. The worm was ten feet wide at least and several hundred feet long. It's passing caused a cave-in that separated the front of the expedition from Valerius and the warriors of the Gauntlet. After waiting eight hours, the rest of the party, not knowing if Valerius and the others even survived or not, decided to press on. Thargus continued to leave guide marks as he went.

ATTACK OF THE PURPLE WORM
On the third "day" after their second rest another purple worm entered into the passage directly behind the expedition and was coming directly at them. The worm filled the passage, its grasping mouth parts and dozens of rows of teeth grinding anything in its path.

Pain sent the rest of expedition forward. The purple worm wasn't charging. It was moving along at a brisk pace but as long as everyone kept moving they could keep ahead of it.

Ront stood his ground, "Ront will stop it!"

Pain called back, "No, Ront! Just run!"

"No!"

Virtue rolled her eyes and sighed, "Hold on, I'm coming!"

Ront took a few steps and tried to make a leaping attack onto the front of the massive worm. Something grabbed him in mid-air and pulled him down. He landed awkwardly. Ront had just enough time to utter, "What?!" before being swallowed whole by the purple worm!

Virtue spat a curse and dove in after him!

Pain did his best to slow the progress of the worm. (DM Note- The purple worm really needs the ability to swallow whole anything in its path of movement as part of its movement - not just an attack. The purple worm attacked Ront - swallow. Next round, it attacked Virtue. It moved forward. However, since an antagonist can't move through enemy squares, its movement was blocked by Pain. I could have said it burrowed beneath, but the whole point was that the worm wasn't interested in the PCs. It was just moving down the tunnel minding its own business)

Despite being crushed by muscles and dissolved by acids Ront and Virtue kept stabbing and cutting from inside the worm's digestive systems. Virtue summoned holy vengeance upon the worm. The pain of the attack caused hte worm to regurgitate its food, disgorging Ront and  Virtue onto the nearby ground.

Put off by its impromptu meal, the giant worm turned its path and burrowed away.

Ront and Virtue lay on the ground, covered by acidic slime and panting. They had survived!

DWARVEN EXPEDITION
As they continued through the Wormwrithings, Pain thought he heard whistling somewhere off in the distance.

An excited Thargus game running back, a big grin plastered across his face, "Do ye hear that? Do ye know what that is?"

"Uh, no?" said Virtue.

"Oh gods, please tell me it's not more flumphs!" sighed Pain.

"Nay! It be dwarves!"

They soon encountered an expedition of seventeen dwarves. The dwarves were searching the wormwrithings for the precious gems found inside the tailings of the purple worms. Pain and Virtue told the dwarves that they had recently come across two purple worms and that they saw what must have been worm tailings.

Ront, fearing some kind of ambush, was wary of the dwarves and treated them harshly. The dwarves, in kind, shared few kind words for the orc barbarian. The party allowed the dwarves to replenish their water from their magical never-empty decanter. In exchange, the dwarves warned the expedition that they had encountered a drow expedition in the wormwrithings a few miles back and to be careful.

After some tense pleasantries filled with forced politeness, the expeditions continuned on their respective ways.

TROLL ATTACK
On the third "day", Thargus the scout came running back as fast as he could, shouting, "Trolls!"

Thergus was pursued by four insane albino trolls. Pain stepped forward and attempted to communicate with them, "Greetings, we..." Virtue sent a fireball into their midst.

Pain turned to Virtue, "What are you doing? They might be friendly. Everything else we've encountered in the Underdark was willing to communicate. Many even had a story!"

Virtue pointed at the still charging trolls, their mouths foaming and their eyes rolling with hysteria, "I don't think they have a story."

"Yeah but.."

Pain's thought was cut off as the first two  trolls slammed into their position, gnashing and clawing!


Ront killed one of the trolls and rushed ahead to take on the other two. The other forward troll followed Ront and the orc was soon surrounded by all three!

Virtue shouted, "Ront! Get out of the way! I can't shelter you from my fireballs like Willow!"

The orc called back, "Never mind that! Do it!"

Virtue opted to launch hex bolts. Meanwhile, Santaka moved forward and breathed fire on the three trolls fighting Ront. Ront cut off one arm but the severed member continued to claw and attack Ront's leg.

Soon all four trolls were dead, their remains burned and charred by Virtue's spells.

Ront stood above the burning trolls, breathing heavily and covered in steaming gore. He dropped to one knee and supported himself with his sword.

"Ront... rest... now..."

DM Note - Ront's player was excited to finally get to use Relentless Endurance.

DRIDER AMBUSH
"Days" later, the expedition heard a scream ahead. It was Thargus. They rushed forward and found Thargus' body filled with three large arrows. With his last breath, Thargus croaked, "Drider.. ambush..." and died.

Ront was struck by three large arrows from the dark. Pain, Virtue, and Ront rushed forward to find the sniper but found nothing but smooth tunnel. Either the attacker fled, was invisible, or had otherwise managed to escape through a secret tunnel.

Pain suggested they perform some kind of ritual for Thargus. Virtue said a few words to commemorate his passing. Ront shrugged, "Ront not see what big deal is. It is way of nature to die."

They left the dwarf's body in the passage and continued on.


DRIDER ATTACK
Hours later, they were once again attacked by sniper. This time they attackers made no effort to hide. It was two hideous spider-drow hybrids known as driders! One drider blocked their way ahead. The other attacked from behind.

Pain, Ront, and Feral ran forward to engage the forward drider in melee while Virtue and the others took cover behind the pack lizards to fight the rear drider at range.

Ront and Virtue were both engulfed in a magical light that made them easy targets. The forward drider was a fierce combatant who focused his attacks upon Ront.

The rear drider exchanged arrows with Virtue's hex bolts as it approached. The lizards were killed so Virtue and Pok-Pok had to crawl close to the ground in order to take advantage of cover.

Both driders were eventually dispatched after a fierce battle. Virtue managed to magically heal the pack lizards before they expired.

TROGLODYTE WARREN
On the seventh "day" the expedition could see that the passage ended in a large open chamber ahead. From the chamber they could smell a horrible odor. It was the smell of troglodytes.

"Ugh" said Pain.

They could hear water flowing and the sound of dozens of creatures hissing and communicating. They approached the end of the tunnel and could see a large grotto bisected by a small flowing river emanating from a steaming fumarole.

On both sides of the river were dozens of troglodytes. They seemed to be hissing loudly at each other in some kind of argument. Lashed to two stalagmites atop a stone rise on the near side of the river was a female troglodyte, obviously some kind of hostage.

Pain held his nose, "I hate troglodytes."

TO BE CONTINUED...