The Rock IV

Darknesss

what did you say about my couch?

The Group met up with Vonard, a warden and obvious solider, who introduced them to his friend and partner Ungar who he declared would be accompanying them. Although gruff, he seemed trustworthy, and after discussion it was decided that they would take the extremely dangerous underground route into Talbral, as they were all wanted and most likely would be stopped at the city gates.
Most of the group was unable to see in the utter darkness beneath the ground, and as Vonard declared that carrying a light source was equivalent to shouting “Hey here we are, come kill us” they walked in single file led by a length a rope with Vonard at the lead and Volaar at the rear.
As far as they could tell, for several days (?) they traveled through the darkness without incident. Sometime on the third or fourth day, the group ran into an ambush and fought off a group of Fire giants from the Chasm of ash. One of them, the leader, was a ninja and kept turning invisible.
The fight was close and Vonard was nearly killed, Kora (The Crazy formerly known as Kai) pulled a Dag and ran away in the middle of the battle, and the MVP’s were definitely Volaar and Ungar.
Upon inspection, these giants appeared to be spliced with demonic skin, and were a patchwork of raw flesh although there weren’t any apparent stitch marks, these grafts were magical. Kora sat down in middle of the carnage and began to meditate, causing Vonard to ask what in the nine hells was wrong with him, and after a discussion they all cleaned up the battle site as best as they could, stripped and disposed of the bodies, and then Volaar used his magic to create a secure hiding spot so the group could rest.
8 hours later, the Group emerged from Volaar’s hiding spot and began the journey into darkness once again. Within the hour, Vonard had come to the place he had been looking for, a wide well used cavern with an obvious upward slope. He told them this passage led to the highest level of the Underdark, where they would find another passage to the ruins of one of the original cities that was built thousands of years ago.
The passage proved to be an arduous uphill climb, at times reaching an angle of more than 45 degrees, but they finally emerged into a relatively level cavern, where Vonard guessed there was about 8 – 10 miles of open cavern before reaching a set of ancient stairs that led into the lowest undercity ruins. He suggested skirting the edge of this large cavern, as there was a large underground lake near its center, and that if there were Underdark denizens present, they would most likely be near the lake.
They made it to the old stairs without incident and began yet another climb, this one less arduous but still difficult as the stairs were well worn with age and use.
Once up in the ruins, Vonard said they should able to use a light a source, as many of the ancient streets still existed so the light wouldn’t be seen at more than 100’ and as far back as he could remember they were always deserted. Just in case, he would range ahead at about 100’ to make sure that they were safe to use the light, and leave an easy trail for Ungar to follow.
Phedra provided a spell to illuminate the dark and the going was much faster now that they could see, and weren’t tethered to each other. After nearly a week of no light, the spell seemed extremely bright and everyone was grateful for the scenery, as old and decrepit as it was.
Mostly they passed large piles of rubble and boulders from cave-ins, but also they could see the foundations and sometimes even the standing skeletons of buildings not used for over 5,000 years. Everything was covered in a layer of dust, but what structures they did find were remarkably well preserved due to the stable temperatures and humidity of the caverns.
After about an hour, the structures changed somewhat, and they could recognize streets and the occasional intact building, although the majority was covered by cave-ins. This made the going somewhat slower as the combination of actual streets coupled with the blockages of rubble made for a virtual maze.
Vonard returned to the circle of light cast by Phaedra’s spell and told them that things had shifted somewhat in the 25 years since he had been here and that he was going to have to find and alternative route to the stairs he knew of that would bring them up into the actual city of Talbral, though there were undoubtedly other ways up that he did not know of if they could find them.
It didn’t take long for the dwarf to get his bearing though, as he led the group over piles of rubble and stone sometimes as high as 400’ he found a section he recognized.
He told them this was known as the “Plague Pit”, and that according to legend, there was some sort of large battle centered on this 100’ wide pit. The bones of what appeared to be hundreds of men lay scattered on the ground as a testament to this legend, most showing obvious signs of meeting a violent end through some sort of head trauma.
Once they made their way out of the pit, Vonard once again moved ahead and gave a general direction to the others, telling them to head diagonally across the grid work of partial streets away from the pit.
Five minutes into this leg of the journey, however, he returned frantically gesturing for Phaedra to extinguish the light then quietly moving them back into a mostly intact building.
“Something is wrong.” Vonard whispered to the group as they huddled around him. “There has been a lot of activity down here, and recently if I know anything. Also I saw some kind of newly built structure covering the passage that leads to the stairs I was headed for. It seemed to be a fortified building, made to keep anyone coming from our direction out.” He stopped for a moment, “To make matters worse, I sensed a Jar-Durinard (Dwarven for Mind Flayer for those of you never exposed to Bavar) behind the walls. The path I meant to take is definitely being guarded.”
After much deliberation and a judicious use of Teleportation magic, the group skirted the makeshift fort and continued on through a passage that ended in the ruins of an ancient temple to St. Cuthbert, one of the Old Gods, and then eventually to a decrepit but recently repaired stone bride spanning a deep chasm.
Vonard and Phaedra magicked across the bridge to investigate what seemed like a natural ambush point and were detected by watchers of some sort. A long, drawn-out battle ensued that moved from the bridge into a larger connected chamber seemingly filled with enemies of all sorts, including a group of priests who summoned psychic constructs. One of the enemies, an archer who struck somehow from the shadows managed to survive the slaughter and fled, presumably to the large stairs at the far end of the chamber where the sound of many regimented boots marching together could be heard.
Desperate to escape with most of the party wounded, and their guide Vonard felled by an arrow, the party fled down the only other exit from the chamber and found themselves engulfed in magical darkness.
Phaedra’s keen senses allowed her to navigate through the darkness enough to find that there was no other exit, they were trapped, but the room itself wasn’t empty. There was some sort of strange walled structure that was covered in runes with a slightly concave platform at its center.
Quickly trying to discern the purpose and workings of this strange building before the seemingly large group arrived from the stairs, the group discovered that the runes were the alphabet, and they would glow when Phaedra touched them. Gathering on the platform, they hastily tried to spell out several destinations with no effect, until they spelled out Talbral and were engulfed in a bright light.

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