Talison quickly scans the area, his eyes darting about. The unhallowed place provides no ideal tactical advantage from what he can see. Focusing on his warrior’s training and personal resolve, he pushes empathy from his mind in order to save those he can; his inhereted Elven pragmatism perhaps saving his life this day. Placing a firm hand on Darrin and Korik’s shoulders, he spits his words in a hushed fervour. “Balls! This is no good.” Pushing off and urging the other two to follow him back through the portal, Darrin shrugs violently and grabs Korik’s arm. Talison’s eyes falter for a moment, his confidence in their fate dwindling. Consigned to his practical solution, Talison jogs purposefully to the portal and falls through.
Korik watches as one Half-Elf travels back through the portal; he then turns to see another Half-Elf stopping him from doing the same. “Wudmirk.” Darrin hisses, his urgency apparent over the hushed register of his voice.
“Who the hell is Wood Mark? What the hell is this? Korik wants answers!”
Quickly pushing his finger to his pursed lips and waving Korik into a crouched position, Darrin shushes him and points aggressively to the half-transformed creature lashed to the harness ahead. “We have to help Wudmirk! The elf- The… Thing, on the tree, that is Wudmirk, and it might not be too late for him.”
Korik follows Darrins point, his face stern and analytical as his flat nose crinkles and his nostrils flare out to the sides.
Darrin continues “If I can make enough of a distraction, can you see if you can sneak round and free him?”
Korik’s face snaps back to look at Darrin, his fierce eyes hiding a twinge of compassion for Darrin’s tenacity. “Korik respcts intention. But Korik picks Korik’s battles.” Their quiet tones are difficult in the thick air, but they manage. He gestures to the strange dim light shining all around them. “Korik can’t sneak up to creature like that in broad daylight. Korik can kill Wood Mark. That is all Korik can do for him.” Korik examines Darrin’s face as it flickers with disappointment and a misdirected rage. “Isn’t that obvious?”
“Fine!” Darrin fights to avoid getting louder, his face beginning to turn red as he spits out the words. “Go back, or make yourself less obvious. I’m going to see if I can chase that – Thing – away.”
With that, Darrin stands and pushes through the curtain of willow branches and begins to edge closer and closer to the terrifying scene in front of him. Wudmirk begins thrashing again, his hooked thumb bones fusing and becoming serated on the inside, his skin peeling back as a hard chitin starts pushing against it from the inside. Darrin’s hands begin trailing a smooth steam, and he feels all his anger, fear and anxiety channeling through them. His fear amplifies as he steps closer and closer, knowing that at any moment he is sure to be seen in the open like this, regardless of their engrossment in their sick ritual. As Darrin gets close enough, he stops for a moment, breathing in the heavy moist air and spreading his hands out. He’s sure that if he concentrates, he can produce more fire than he has before all at once. He starts pushing his mind, but he simply can’t get it to work! He thinks of Wudmirk, of the strange gangly Fey creature and the abberations before him, trying to think of something that would make his damn hands work! Why won’t they work?! Darrin looks up, realising that his laboured breathing has attracted unwanted attention. The insects start moving towards him. Darrin claps his hands and holds them out again, trying as hard as he can to get his hands to shoot fire. CLAP! Nothing… CLAP!! They’re getting closer, why won’t they work? CLAP!
An arrow flies into Wudmirk’s head, straight in the eye socket, killing him instantly. For a moment, the strange insects turn to see as the tall Dark Fey opens her mouth wide, forcing an unnatural shriek to come from all around, like wet rubber filtered through nails on a chalkboard. Darrin stares at his hands for a moment.
“Darrin! Run!” The gravelly growl of Korik booms through the tree canopy, piercing through the scream of the Fey. Without thinking twice, Darrin bolts back the way he came, pushing through the smokey air and slamming his feet into the ground with every step, lungs burning by the time he gets to the portal with Korik, who dives into it immediately.
Nix, Talison, Adrik, Lorawyn, Bennet, Simon and Jila have been sharing information, outlining what was seen in this Fey realm. Nix tells them all of the portals, how they seem to sap your energy going through. She shares her theory that the Edhel group may have been captured and transformed by this Dark Fey, or they simply left Wudmirk to his fate. Either way, more insectoid clacking can be heard down the next tunnel. Bennet crouches by the tunnels edge and peers down, taking note that four of these “Meenlocks” appear to be down there, underlit by a glowing fungus on the floor. The tunnel goes down for a few hundred feet it seems, with the creatures at the far end.
Nix rallies everyone, pointing out that all their skills will be needed. Talison straightens and puffs his chest, trying to appear ready to fight should the time come, but his pallor betrays him. Adrik and Lorawyn both raise their heads and sniff moments before everyone else can feel something in the air, followed by an almost refreshing ozone smell.
“Now what?!” Cries Simon, obviously becoming more agitated that he’s putting people in such danger. A sheet of lightning begins coruscating along the ceiling of the room before coalescing into a bolt and shooting down the tunnel at a steep angle, a monumental sonic boom quickly following. As the boom subsides, the group hears what seems like someone tumbling down the slope and striking the wall hard. Bennet’s eyes widen as he motions everyone over. About thirty or so feet down the tunnel, curled up into themselves, is the steaming shape of a man, one hand bracing on the wall. The hand has a subtle electric-blue hue to it. He is clad in chain armour, cloth tabard and is armed. Simon seems to recognise something about this being, quickly assuring everyone that he should mean no harm. He is about to shout a greeting when Jila and Bennet both grab his mouth and shush him, pointing out the Meenlocks further down the tunnel.
Just as Simon relaxes down again, he lets out a short, high-pitched gasp covering a scream as Darrin and Korik fly out of the portal in the wall, both hitting the ground hard and rolling. Adrik runs over and helps them up, motioning to the tunnel.
Roll initiative (1d20 + Dexterity bonus). What do you do?
The Meenlocks have heard a noise, but since Simon wasn’t shining his staff down the tunnel they can’t see any of you. Yet.
Darrin and Korik both have to roll Constitution saving throws for their return journey. DC 10, failure gives you 1 level of exhaustion.
Lorawyn has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning she has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.
Talison has 2 levels of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks. His speed is also halved.