Taihun

Citadel Delve pt. 43
Strangers in the Dark

Nix checks over her repair work on the stone doorframe, seeing that it’s completely intact. Lorawyn moves to stand next to her, readying herself for whatever the noise might entail. Standing up straight, Nix straightens her clothes and breathes out firmly, satisfied. With a stride, she walks confidently through the doorway, Lorawyn following immediately behind.

Everyone follows, most with weapons drawn and eyes looking around. Between Simon and Ero’s lights, the cave near the group seems bright, the slick wet stone reflecting it and amplifying the effect. Not far outside of this bright glow, the pitch black stares back at the party.

Ero stands before the fungal man, his face an irreverent scowl for a few seconds, and then, almost as if struck by an electric shock, his eyes soften and his posture deflates. The red of his eyes falters, the light of Ero’s shield catching a more irridescent black now.

Charging up behind him, Talison rushes to Ero’s side, greatsword drawn. Skidding to a stop and almost slipping, he manages to catch himself. Theodore slowly pulls up alongside, the three of them facing off against the diminutive mushroom person.

Jila, sticking close to the huddled mass around Simon’s staff light, murmurs out loud “What the hell is that thing?”

Almost responding, the creature waddles, shifting its weight from side to side, directly towards Ero. Stopping a foot away, it then strains backwards to look up at him, its eyes bending upwards at the outer corners, one stub arm reaching out.

Theodore’s bow arm begins to ache at being drawn for so long, and he hesitantly lowers his bow and undraws it, but keeps the arrow nocked.
“Anybody want to try and talk to this thing?”

Amongst the nearby stalagmites and uneven stone floor, more of the creaking can be heard. And far away, perhaps a half mile, there seems to be a faint glow.

What do you do?

Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

Talison +10XP
Nix +10XP
Darrin +5XP
Lorawyn +10XP
Adrik +10XP
Ero +10XP
Theodore +10XP

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Kobold Hunt pt. 20
Jailbreak

Lorrias waits, back against the wall, until an opening in the traffic appears. Seizing the next one to come along, he pushes off and heads to the left. This corridor winds this way and that, having only right-angles to the turns when it comes to ground level turns, but some upward-sloping shafts seem to enter the corridor at odd angles. After only a few turns into his escapade, he is confronted by a kobold directly ahead who has spotted him, standing mouth agape and a shocked look in his eyes. Keeping his wits sharp, Lorrias quickly tries to calm the man before him. “No fight! Want to talk! Leader!”

Before he can even finish, the creature bolts back the way he came, scrabbling up one of the shafts and barking profusely. “Intruder! Giant in store tunnel! Save Minook!” The draconic tongue sounds almost gutteral in their use, a stark contrast to the more high brow accent Lorrias’ teacher used. Linguistics aside, it seems he is no longer going to be alone in this corridor for long. Quickly scanning his surroundings, Lorrias counts two doorways in the left wall, a room just a little behind him and a tunnel ahead. In the right wall, a tunnel heading up at an odd angle, ending in a trap door. The dim glimmers of sunlight somehow getting through into the corridors seem enough to navigate by for now.

In the beastiary, Gemscale roars angrily at the remaining Kobolds. Falling forward to stand on all fours again, he swings his tail hard, using the chain still attached to whip at the survivors of his fire assault. The scorching hot air feels comforting to him, as does the clink of chain. The hook on the end of the chain catches in one of the hooks holding HexFang down, but doesn’t stop because she hauls herself up at the same time, loosening the hook from the floor and becoming free herself. The chains go flying towards the saltires, barely missing Zadkiel and Aar and managing to strike the body of a spearman. He fall to the ground under the weight of the massive chain hitting him at high speed. It is unclear whether or not he’s dead.

The rest of the kobolds clear the room and scatter while the animals bark and scream from their cages, obviously distraught at the commotion. Zadkiel and Aar are easily loosed from their moorings, although the fires in front of their faces still rage. Once free, they both have to climb around the back of the torture devices before clambering to the ground in order to avoid being burned.

Alone in the menagerie now, the Bards and the Dragons take a moment to collect themselves before considering their next action. Barking and shouting can be heard in the corridors, so it is unclear how long they have before trouble starts again.

What do you do?

Hexfang +10XP
Gemscale +15XP
Zadkiel +10XP
Aar +5XP
Lorrias +10XP

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Kobold Hunt pt. 19
Fire

Lorrias manages to open the door to the Kobold structure, the creak of it going unnoticed by the fervant charging back and forth. It seems that no emergency is going on; Kobolds, it seems, simply enjoy rushing about. The room the door opens into appears to be a small armoury. The ceiling barely catering for a hunched posture, the five foot tall room looks to have been made by, and for, much smaller creatures. Regardless, Lorrias manages to move to the open doorway ahead and see the source of the dashing is Kobolds in a corridor. They rush hither and tither, both directions, ignoring or not seeing Lorrias as he presses against one wall. As two kobolds meet in the corridor, a small barking fight occurs before one of them crawls over the other. The corridors are barely wide enough to fit one person. With two directions to go, Lorrias is lost. To take the left corridor, he would be moving towards lots of yapping, barking and cheering sounds. To the right, he can hear wimpering sounds and get the occasional waft of something foul in the air. Either way, he’s not going to be able to sneak down these corridors. He is going to be seen one way or the other.

Zadkiel, noticing the priest poking at Aar, tries to move his hand in order to comfort the Kobold, pretending to be a friend. This move has worked on so many others before… Unable to move his hand, Zadkiel instead only rattles his chains, disappointment spreading over his face.

His face lifts, however, when he hears both the groaning and snapping of heavy metal chains and the roar of a mighty beast! Despite the fire nearly blinding him, Zadkiel peers through the flames to see the golden Dragon breaking free of his restraints. The priest next to him gives a bark, and dozens more kobolds flood into the room. They encircle the creature and thrust spears towards it, trying to herd it into the corner of the room. This Dragon, however, looks to be unimpressed. Leaning onto its hind legs and flapping its wings to help lift itself, the gold Dragon opens its mouth, letting rolling flames spill out onto the crowd around it. Most in range seem to die instantly, their skin burning off and the shock of it ending their small lives. Among those caught are the priest next to Aar… and Aar himself! The edge of the blast catches the Elfblood’s legs, searing his flesh and causing a cold stinging sensation to linger. Unable to care for his wounds, Aar lies strapped, stifling a scream through gritted teeth, tears streaming down his face.

Zadkiel turns back to try and peer through the flames before him, struggling to see the green Dragon struggle against her chains, yet more Kobolds falling to the ground near her. The carnage seems a mockery of the calm, albeit torturous, captivity of mere moments ago. Of those Kobolds left, only a handful remain in the room, spears drawn and pointing at the gold Dragon.

Roll initiative (1d20 + Dexterity modifier). What do you do?

Aar takes 5 Hit Points of damage from the edge of the fire breath.

There are 5 Kobolds left in the room. There are 5 exits.

Hexfang +15XP
Gemscale +15XP
Zadkiel +15XP
Aar +15XP
Lorrias +10XP

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Citadel Delve pt. 42
Under the Hall of the Mushroom King

Darrin looks at Adrik and Bennet as they peer into the doorway, Lorawyn’s translation of the strange text bouncing in his head as he tries to parse its archaic form. Adrik takes a deep breath, takes a small piece of rubble he’d picked up in his beard during the swim through the previous collapsed tunnel, and tosses it through the doorway.
Clack-clack comes the sound, echoing many times, getting fainter each time. It seems the next room has great acoustics.
Everyone waits for a moment, breath held, until Adrik lets his breath leave him slowly, smoothly, his shoulders slumping forward in relief. The room moves to match him, a tension having been cut. Ero looks at the floor for a moment, a thought having struck him. Turning to jog back up the tunnel, he pauses and turns back to the doorway briefly, smiles to himself, and then turns fully and jogs up the tunnel slope.

Clearing his throat delicately, Darrin begins to speak, breaking the silence that fell over the group. “You don’t think it would be too much to hope that Mrs Tall-Dark-And-Horrifying was the ‘test’, do you?”
Raising a padded glove to Darrin’s shoulder, Theodore gives a comforting look. “Not to try to ruin your hope, but wouldn’t this writing be further up the tunnel is she had been?”
Darrin stares at the chain-covered man trying to comfort him, his face struggling to form a cogent expression. “That makes perfect sense, god damn you!” And with a shrug, Darrin removes the hand from his shoulder and adopts a stoic pose, arms crossed.

Taking a moment to process his brief interaction with Darrin, Theodore juts his jaw slightly. “I’ll do it, if you want.”
Simon has been standing against the wall, staff magically lit and leaning with him. He lifts his head and looks around, then cocks his head at Theodore. “Do… what? Did someone ask something?” Bennet rolls his eyes and then nods at Theodore, his body language communicating caution.
“I can go through the doorway first, if you’d all like?” Theodore clarifies, Simon letting out a silent ‘Ah’ before closing his eyes and nodding.

“I think we should go in.” Lorawyn says to the group. Looking at Bennet and Theodore, she gives them both a nod. “We’ve got your back.” Theodore stops at the doorway, looks from the ground to the ceiling and feels his way around it a little ways, psyching himself up to go through. He takes a deep breath…
“Gangway!” shouts Jila, the Elven warrior jumping to the side, his gruff voice still surprising Bennet who, reflexively, pulls Theodore aside. Ero charges up to the doorway carrying a dead Meenlock and hurls the creature’s body into the cave ahead. With a smack, the lifeless body strikes the stone floor. A moment passes before the satisfied smile on Ero’s face, while not disappearing completely, turns down at the corners. A sound in the distance begins to reach the doorway. A stretching, straining sound, like that of freshly cured leather breaking in, or the creak of a wooden floorboard not quite fitting in its place, starts to waft into the antechamber, getting closer. Despite some eyes turning to Ero, few of them are accusatory.

With the sound being indicative of the group having gained some attention, Nix, Ero and Lorawyn quickly look at and around the doorway again for signs of any trap, any active magics that might have done something. Lorawyn spots a broken piece of the doorway, a facia piece having been ripped from the outside and tossed into the cave. Being on the far side of the doorway, it was difficult to spot, but the telltale crumbled masonry on the floor and her eyes adjusting to the gloom inside showed it to her. She nudges Ero, pointing it out to him.
“Something seems amiss with the doorway, something out of place…there’s no obvious magic happening.” He says to no-one in particular.
“I say we go in, I have a feeling there is something big, scary, and soon to be dead, on the other side.” Talison adjusts his wrist guards as he says this, making sure his armour is secured.

Nix looks at the walls and the writing, then back at the doorway, allowing her mind to wander slightly as the strain of concentration begins to weigh on her. While her mind drifts, her eyes begin to dart quickly and unconsciously between the sides of the doorway, evidently seeing something that hasn’t quite clicked… “Well we’ve got this far… I think we are worthy…” she mutters to herself. Breathing deeply through her nose, Nix seems to wake herself out of a daydream. “Let us see.” Gather her wits, she reaches out with her mind and begins to process everything she’s seeing, along with running a mental training excercise she uses to see faint magical essences. Almost like a candle snuffing out, Nix instantly knows what her eyes saw, the lingering haze of the doubt that was slowly diminishing. “A ward of some sort. To signal… I don’t know. A worthy person would trigger an effect here. But it is broken. Perhaps its been broken for a long time… Or maybe more recently… I wonder… Could it be fixed?” She stops musing to herself, instead speaking clearly to the group now: “Oh, hey everyone. It is safe to pass through I believe. Though, I am very curious as to what this used to do and why… An unworthy person of magical power would break it…”
Ero, spotting the broken piece of doorframe, dashes into the cave upon hearing that it’s safe, running full pelt towards the stalgmite propping up the broken bit of masonry and, upon reaching it, picks it up and runs back. Taking as little time as he can to do so, he places the broken piece gently where it came from on the wall. Seeing that it rests neatly, he dives back through the doorway into the antechamber with the party. Gasping for a moment, he stands with his hands on one side, apparently nursing a stitch despite it not hurting.
“So it ‘seems’ safe, if creepy, in there. I can try to heal the gate and we all get measured for worthiness, or we just…slug on through and deal with whatever we might not have had to if we had been worthy?” he begins to trail off at the end, his frequent stops for breath confusing his sentence.

“Good find, Ero!” Nix congratulates, moving to get a closer look at the doorway again now that it’s complete.
“So, question here. What if ‘being worthy’ was determined by this enchantment? If we fix it, isn’t there a chance it won’t deem us worthy?” Theodore voices his concerns to the group, Jila wandering up to the armoured man and starting to speak. Ero, however, interrupts before the first syllable is ccompleted. “I’m afraid there is, possibly, yes. Then again, there is a possibility that worthiness is determined by taking the time and chance to fix what has been broken, even if there is a chance doing so could be our downfall. The universe wants to kill us and grind us into a fine powder, but it does have a certain sense of humour.”

Jila scowls at Ero, but quickly shakes off the feeling to stand over near Nix, ostensibly to guard her while she’s hunched over the broken bit of doorframe. After he does so, a brief cracking sound can be heard on the edge of everyone’s hearing from that end of the room. Simon, meanwhile, turns to Korik and Bennet, asking them if they had found any other traps at all other than the flooded tunnel. Just as Bennet finishes explaining that the flood wasn’t technically part of the trap mechanism, only the doors were, Nix pipes up again. “Just… Move through to the other side. I believe it created a positive effect of some sort. Nothing terrible.”
Theodore starts forward towards the door again before stopping himself. “Well, have we fixed it?”

Ero swings his shield around to his front, removing the carrying strap and holding it firmly. Bashing the boss with his palm, it immediately begins to glow a bright electric blue. “See you on the other side!” he shouts, rushing past everyone and into the cave.

After a few seconds, Ero clears about thirty feet from the doorframe before his light catches a reflection: about four dozen feet from his swordarm stands a glistening body. It stands a little over two feet tall, a wide-brimmed brow encircles his head and his feet and hands appear to be nought but stumps. There’s an odd texture to his skin, and no clothes on his body despite very little being evident to that fact. He raises his brow so as to more clearly look at Ero, and as he does his eyes catch the light, gleaming an off-red. Despite having no mouth, it begins to growl; an odd sound, somewhere between a creaking door and a new leather boot.

Roll for initiative (1d20 + Dexterity modifier). What do you do?

Nix, I took the liberty of assuming a casting of the Mending cantrip. We can easily retcon this if you desire. This was the faint cracking sound.

Ero is currently the only person in the cave apart from the little mushroom man.

Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

Talison +15XP
Nix +15XP
Darrin +15XP
Lorawyn +15XP
Adrik +15XP
Ero +15XP
Theodore +15XP

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Kobold Hunt pt. 18
Tied Up

HexFang tries to move her tail, swishing from side to side trying to get free to grab the ropes and belts tying off her mouth; to no avail, alas. Gemscale tries the same, and again cannot move his tail much beyond what the tight metal chains allow. However he does manage to feel the hooks in the floor loosen as he lifts with all his might in one fluid motion. They groan and stretch as he moves his heft upwards as far as he can, but it’s not enough. He can’t straighten any of his limbs enough to apply his full strength or weight as leverage. He has, however, lessened the hold the chains have on him. If he tries a the same lift a few more times, perhaps a chain hook might be pulled from the ground.

Aar and Zadkiel struggle to see much beyond the flames, the sparks occassionally flying into their eyes and blinding them for a moment. These flames remain as a dark shape appears behind them, in front of the dragons.
[In Draconic]“Taytay see you, craterman. Taytay see all.”
When he doesn’t get a response: “Taytay get what Taytay want from craterman…” he whispers with a hiss, only Aar managing to make out what is said. With that he takes a serated dagger seemingly made from one piece of stone and drags it along Zadkiel’s arm, drawing blood. Taytay scoops the blood up in a pottery chalice, then dabs the wound with dirty rag. “Now Taytay do two rituals!” he roars in triumph, cackling as he turns and faces the dragons.
“Taytay make you not talk. Taytay tamer of dragons. Dragons obey Taytay when Taytay Dragon Overlord!” and with a smirk, he passes by closely to HexFang, secure in the knowledge that despite not being caged, the dragons are tied down firmly enough to not be a concern to him right now.

As Taytay wanders by the wolf enclosures, the creatures quiet down and stop rattling their cages. He can be heard more clearly explaining to the other priests that the blood of the Crater Man (Zadkiel) is to be put into a stoppered vial until he can commune again with the “Great Boom” as he calls it. It also seems the rituals need subjects, and that one involves the Dragon Eggs, the other the blood of Zadkiel.

The conversation turns to the Dragons and the Half-Elf; the Bard, it seems, is simply being held so he’s more fresh when they choose to eat him. The Dragons are being kept until the Egg ritual is completed, and then it seems the Dragons will be able to be controlled by the end result.

As Taytay leaves the room, he yells back to the priests: “Taytay gets Potuk’s share. Potuk not Taytay friend.” It seems that, if he’s alive, Potuk is also not in the good books.

One of the priests moves away from the chest and goes to inspect Aar, giving his legs a pinch to see how tender the meat is, a hungry look in his eyes.

What do you do?

Given the long rest you’ve all had, you all regain all lost Hit Points and spell slots, as well as Hit Dice and breath weapons.

Hexfang +5XP
Gemscale +10XP
Zadkiel +10XP
Aar +10XP

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Citadel Delve pt. 41
The Frontier

After some rest the hour approaches midnight. The cold of the outside seems to stay at bay, the glow of Simon’s staff providing light and the huddle of bodies and the occassional puff of warm air from Adrik’s subtle but continuous manipulation of the Feyweave throughout the respite provides enough heat. Well fed and nourished, Simon passes around a waterskin as the impromptu indoor camp is broken down and packed away.

Approaching the doorway cautiously, Bennet and Adrik look around the edges, the circular doorway separating the yellowish-grey stonework of the citadel from what looks to be a freezing cavern ahead. Simon’s light only penetrates so far, but it looks like a huge cave filled with stalagmites and stalagtites. A whooshing sound can be heard, and tiny fragments of green glass can be seen on the ground, along with another clay square, just beyond the doorway.

Unlike at the entrance, there is no door. Everyone can simply look into the cavern. Bennet, however, looks nervously back at the group, wordlessly asking if, given the writing, he should step over the threshold…

What do you do?

The writing on the wall reads “Entry only for the worthy. Those that fail the test will suffer.”

Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

Talison +15XP
Nix +15XP
Darrin +15XP
Lorawyn +15XP
Adrik +5XP
Ero +15XP
Theodore +15XP

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Citadel Delve pt. 40
After the Battle

Feeling utterly exhausted, a palpable breath of relief seems to jointly come from all. The doorway ahead yawns open, dark and forbodingly, but the danger, it seems, has passed.

Theodore charges up the tunnel to check the previous room, seeing that all the portals have now closed. Coming back down, he arrives in time to get the full brunt of Darrin's tirade. "… yet another fellow poking around. We barely had time to know the first one!" Ero reflexively shifts towards Nix.

As the group begins to settle, and talk of resting and getting to know each other more bubbles to the surface, Simon and Jila set about securing the area and handing out bedrolls to those that need them. Korik, Bennet and Adrik settle down to eat some jerkied meats, Jila handing everyone some soft flatbread the shape and consistency of a pancake. It's filled with herbs, and has a moist texture to it, but is otherwise bland. A typical Elven ration.

Jila then settles next to Talison, and speaks to the group as a whole, or whoever chooses to listen.
"I never chose the military life. My father did, and so did his mother. My mother was… reticent… to see her third child inducted into the fighting forces of Magolglir. Prince Feirens himself once visited my barracks. It was a big day, and the first day I led others in rank. My promotion and the visit were going to be the most abiding memories I had of the day.
"My mother also visited, bearing fruitloaf and savoury sticks as gifts. Civilians often aren't allowed in the main barracks, but because of her husband she was granted access. Oh, the shame… My mother saw Prince Feirens' retinue, and offered them some fruitloaf. When they didn't respond, she…" Jila takes in a shuddery breath "She scowled. She furrowed her brow deeply and let her disappointment show on her face. She didn't know the retinue was ordered not to respond that day, that those in the service of the Prince only address the Prince himself. But the barracks did. I didn't live it down for over thirty years. It was perhaps the most shameful day of my life." He looks at Talison for a moment, as if deciding. "Shame seems to have found me again."
Looking around and seeing that his words might be mistaken, he corrects: "Our treatment of Talison. Being a mule, he isn't afforded the same courtesy and freedoms as a paragon, or even a fullblood. But he has fought bravely this day, and deserves more respect than I would show at home."

While giving everyone the opportunity to talk tactics and learn about each other, the rest also allows some to rest their weary muscles and get some sleep. The air cools as the hours draw on, the hour approaching midnight outside as the first of those to fall asleep begin stirring from their slumbers. Simon then poses the question: "Should we continue resting until the morning, or shall we press on in the dead of night?"

What do you do?

Everyone should take this opportunity to share one tale. It can be a "Bard's Tale", which is a made up story in the game world. Don't worry about canonicity; mistakes, exaggerations and total fictions are the bread and butter of bards.
Or your tale can be one of your own character, a story they share with the group. It can be some backstory, a short treatise on their goals, or a joke told in-character. Whether told in first-person with details, or as simple as "My character shares a story about their past, focusing on their village burning down as a kid.", it's fine.

The writing on the wall reads "Entry only for the worthy. Those that fail the test will suffer."

Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

Talison +10XP
Nix +10XP
Darrin +15XP
Lorawyn +10XP
Adrik +5XP
Ero +10XP
Theodore +10XP

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Kobold Hunt pt. 17
Guests of His Majesty

The Kobolds hear the pleas and excuses from Gemscale and Aar. Jumjik turns his spear around so the wooden base is pointed to the middle of Aar's head. Thrusting forward, he tries to knock out the Elfblood yarnspinner with the butt of his weapon, but Bardino quickly ducks under and around. He grabs the shaft of the spear firmly, his face almost falling from the jovial, disarming smile. And yet it holds firm, Aar batting the spear aside and giving another gentle bow. The army taken quite aback all look at Jumjik, who merely grunts and retreats, heading towards a trap door and jumping down it.

The others crowd around and hogtie everyone, using large poles to carry the group into a large, central trap door that covers a ramp heading into the heart of the Kobold City. Any attempt to wriggle or escape or resist is met with a swift knock to the head by a weapon pommel.

It is almost a full day before the crowd dies down. Hundreds of Kobolds gather simply to look upon the Dragons, or to poke sticks into the ribs of Aar and Zadkiel. The two humanoids are tied to saltire crosses too small for their frames, their restraints improvised to make them long enough for their wrists and ankles. Small stone altars sit before each saltire, only the ones occupied having a flame dancing atop them. This flame has been lit constantly since their incarceration.

Gemscale and HexFang lie opposite the wall where Aar and Zadkiel are strapped, tied to the stone floor, their mouths bound shut with rope and leather belts. Metal rings hold the chains that bind them. Before being forced into this position, the two Dragons noted the ornate metal chest to one side, the two priestly looking Kobolds arguing in front of it.

Kobolds come and go in the place, never completely disappearing from view. It seems that the Beast Hold connects several other areas together. In cages behind the Dragons lie a few dozen riding wolves, a couple of bears and a set of covered cages that occasionally screech. The warmth simply amplifies the stench of the room, the moist air swirling from the lantern and altar heat.

It seems the crowds have died down, and now only a few guards stand idly around, some sat playing with dice in a corner. The exact number is unclear, as Aar and Zadkiel are having a hard time seeing beyond the jet of flame inches away from their faces, and Gemscale and HexFang don't have a clear view of the room. What they can hear, though, is the priests in the room still arguing. Over the general clatter of the room, only "ritual", "Hidrukk first!", and "sacrifice the survivor" being clear.

When you first arrived, you were told it may be some time before you are fed.

What do you do?

Hexfang +25XP
Gemscale +25XP
Zadkiel +25XP
Aar +25XP

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Citadel Delve pt. 39
Second Druid Door

Talison, Bennet, Adrik, Jila, Simon and Theodore are charging down the tunnel, making it most of the way to the bottom. The Dark Fey raises her elbows, the bony arms trying to lift Wudmirk's head out of Nix's reach slowly, but seeming unable to do so. It's like the head weighs a hundred pounds. Nix however effortlessly holds on to Wudmirk's head, her eyes closed, her forehead leaning in towards his.

Ero gingerly stands from his crouched position protecting Nix with his shield, instead reaching out slowly, fingers outstretched. The mumbling and humming of the creature waggling and gyrating like a puppet provid no distraction for Ero as he lightly touches Wudmirk's earlobe.

Feeling his body go hollow, Ero senses a wind within, a gale force of energy he cannot focus on. It simply fills up his skin as if to break it. The sound of the wind drowns his ears, forcing out all other voices. Straining to keep his eyes open, they begin to roll back in his head as he strains to contain this power within. As an image begins to coalesce in his mind, a face most familiar, it is instantly blanched by brilliant white light. Wudmirk's head and hair shine bright, the cold glow creating deep stretches of black shadow behind the sharp features of the Dark Fey.

The strain in him rescinding as quickly as it came, Ero looks to his left. Darrin has one hand on Nix's shoulder, a barely visible pulse moving from his hand into her. Nix leans in closer to Wudmirk's head, her face almost disappearing in the bright light. The light brightens, forcing everyone to avert their eyes. Within a couple of seconds, the light completely disappears, leaving behind just the tunnel looking far gloomier than it started.

Wudmirk's head slaps the ground and rolls towards the slope past Nix and Darrin. The Dark Fey stands still and silent, mouth agape. A strained gasp slowly squeaks from her throat before she is struck quiet once more. An arrow spears into her left leg at the same time Lorawyn, still in the form of a cat, leaps into the air and dives onto her face, drawing her claws deeply into and across the Dark Fey's pointed features. As she's leaping back down to the ground, the green-black ichor from inside of the creature begins to burn at her paws.

Screaming loudly and holding her face with her long, bony hands, the Dark Fey steps backwards towards the portal, falling backwards into it with help from Korik's outstretched leg. His face contorted into the very shape of loathing, angered at his mind being affected by this demon. The Fey sinking deeper into the puddle of fungus seems to cause a reaction, the portal shrinking in size until only a small, black tendril is left poking up from between the stone blocks of the floor. The stretching, slopping sound of the receding portal ends abruptly, the only sounds in the tunnel now being heavy breathing and the footfalls of boot on stone.

As everyone collects at the base of the tunnel slope, Theodore and Jila quickly take stock of their surroundings while Adrik and Simon look to the others to see who needs support. The area seems to be as wide as the tunnel, more than a dozen feet across. It stretches ahead a short distance, perhaps thrice the width, before ending in a concave wall. This wall, barely lit by Simon's staff, is covered in the same writings as those around the door at the entrance. Simon cannot read it, but Lorawyn and Adrik can. Adrik peers at the door in the middle of the wall; it's an empty doorway, no barrier at all. It's only just taller than Korik, circular and edged in similar swirling patterns to those outside. The writing on the wall reads "Entry only for the worthy. Those that fail the test will suffer."

What do you do?

Korik has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

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.

Korik +5XP
Talison +5XP
Nix +15XP
Darrin +15XP
Lorawyn +10XP
Adrik +5XP
Ero +10XP
Theodore +10XP

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Kobold Hunt pt. 16
Capture

The air rushing past their ears, Aar and Zadkiel manage to orient themselves and spread out their arms and legs. While simply flailing from confusion, it served to slow them somewhat. The Dragons crash onto the wooden roof below, Kobolds scattering as they do to make way. While it cracks slightly, the wooden structure appears to remain intact for the most part.

The last few arrows and javelins finish their arcs and begin to fall far away, thankfully not making a return attempt on the lives of those still falling. Seeing the gold dragon sprawled on the floor, Aar and Zadkiel turn their bodies as they near the roof, trying to hit the softer scales of the young dragons cushioned by flesh beneath rather than the unforgiving rigidity of the wood below. Slamming into the roof at high speed, Zadkiel skids and hits a Kobold, knocking them down. As they tumble, Zadkiel manages to land on top and push away. The left side of his face and body are now severely scratched, a solid graze running along his cheek. He can feel some blood beginning to stick to his shirt. The air itself stings him now; the warm, claggy, almost sickly-sweet air. It's so drastically different just being within the stone walls of this temple structure. Briefly catching a glimpse, Zadkiel can see enormous Cycladic carvings on the walls, seemingly depicting a narrative. The walls continue up for at least another 100 feet. The wooden structure, and the Kobolds themselves, seem very out of place. And yet, the wood on which they stand seems to span this entire room, if such a space can be called that at this scale. Below feels hollow but sturdy, and movement can be heard and felt through the floor. There are many levels below.

With a thudd, Aar lands on Gemscale. Winded, he rolls off the large beast and collapses on the floor, clutching his sides. The smells and sounds take a while to get through to him, the pain clouding his senses. A moment passes, and Aar's attention is snapped back to reality when Potuk lands near to him, a loud crack sounding out as his leg buckles beneath him. Rolling on the wooden deck on which you find yourselves, Potuk begins crying and screaming as a crowd of Kobolds surrounds him.

Catching each other's eye, Zadkiel and Aar give a brief nod. Aar looks around and sees HexFang twitch her claw, her side heaving up and down quickly. She's alive, and in obvious pain, but she'll live. Looking back to Gemscale, Aar gives an unconscious wave to Zadkiel before pressing his hands to the gold dragon's chest. Feeling around for a heartbeat, Aar soon realises that he has no idea how dragon physiology actually works…

Dashing over to Gemscale, Zadkiel begins to speak soothingly. His tones going unheeded by the unconscious dragon, regardless the sounds are heard. Placing his hand upon Gemscale's shoulder, the man from the sky continues talking, mentioning great plains and moutain tops; all comforting things to hear. The dragon's muscles visibly relax, and his breathing becomes heavier and less laboured.

Before they're able to do any more, Zadkiel and Aar hear the barking and yapping of Kobolds beginning to approach and surround them. Aar can hear them yelling for surrender. Swiftly turning to face them, a smile on his face and giving a deep bow, Aar introduces himself. "My name is Aaron Lorenzo François Pablo Jeroen Bardino, story teller, entertainer, Dragon trainer and occasionally Dragon trader." With that, he winks at a female Kobold, who flares her nostrils and growls. It is unclear whether this is her taking offence or being bashful.
"All come! You defeated! Jumjik catch you!" A Kobold with black paint along his arms and face is pointing a spear at Aar, the rest of the army behind him taking aim and readying for any sign of resistance. It appears your surrender is being demanded.

Roll for Initiative (1d20 + Dexterity bonus). What do you do?

Gemscale heals 6HP and is technically conscious, but you can play dead if you wish. Please make a Dexterity (Performance) check to do so. This is unusual, since I'm pairing the stat with a skill commonly connected to Charisma; your proficiency in Performance still stands, but you instead add your dexterity modifier. You're controlling your body movement in a specific way. I will allow you to substitute Dexterity for Constitution, since it's also about controlled breathing and heartrate.

HexFang heals 1HP and is technically conscious, but you can play dead if you wish. Please make a Dexterity (Performance) check to do so. This is unusual, since I'm pairing the stat with a skill commonly connected to Charisma; your proficiency in Performance still stands, but you instead add your dexterity modifier. You're controlling your body movement in a specific way. I will allow you to substitute Dexterity for Constitution, since it's also about controlled breathing and heartrate.

HexFang has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning she has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.

Hexfang +50XP
Gemscale +50XP
Zadkiel +15XP
Aar +15XP

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